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Showing posts from November, 2012

The plight of Pakistani Shias

Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar. It is also the month when Muslims, especially Shia Muslims, mourn the death of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) grandson Hazrat Imam Hussein and members of his family during the battle of Karbala. The followers of Saudi Wahabiism are historically anti-Shia. With Saudi brand of Wahabiism spreading in Pakistan through Saudi-funded seminaries and the resultant Arabisation of Pakistani society, Shia lives are in grave danger. This year alone, hundreds of Shias have been target-killed. Pakistani Shias are facing the wrath of local Yazids, turning the country into another Karbala for Imam Hussein’s followers.

The holy month of Muharram has already seen targeted attacks against the Shia community. On November 21, the Shia community was targeted in Karachi and Rawalpindi. The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attacks and threatened that in the days to come, more such attacks will follow. Shias are bearing the brunt of…

Fear won’t silence us

On November 2, there was an attack on two of my very dear friends: Marvi Sirmed and her husband Sirmed Manzoor. Bullets were fired at their car when they were on their way home but thankfully they were not hurt. So far no one has claimed responsibility for the attack. It seems as if this was more of a scare tactic than an assassination attempt. Such attacks take place as a ‘warning shot’ to send a clear message: we can kill you whenever we want to. So back down now or else you will not get a second chance.

Marvi works as a democratic-governance professional but she is also a human rights activist and columnist while Sirmed is a journalist and the Secretary-General of South Asian Free Media Association’s (SAFMA’s) Pakistan chapter. Marvi is a very vocal supporter of a democratic, liberal, secular and pluralistic Pakistan. She has had threats from several quarters, be it the military establishment, militant organisations or extremists. Marvi believes that this attack was not just aimed…

Abdicating responsibility

“Dartey hain bandooqon waalay ek nehatti larki se,
Phailay hain himmat ke ujaalay ek nehatti larki se.”

When I first heard about the brutal attack on Malala Yousufzai, these lines from a poem by Habib Jalib haunted me. The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) took responsibility for shooting this young girl. Their justification for shooting an unarmed child: Malala was “pro-west”, “promoting western culture in Pashtun areas” and “speaking against the Taliban”. It should come as no surprise that an unarmed, harmless young girl is capable of terrifying monsters who are armed to their teeth. What terrified these monsters was a young girl who could read and write, who could speak up for her rights, who could raise her voice for girls’ right to education, who denounced violence in the name of religion, who could call out the Taliban’s bluff. It should put to shame our military, those politicians, those journalists and hundreds of thousands of those Pakistanis who are terrified of saying anything…