Sunday October 22, 2017

Kalash of Pakistan: The only Pagan Minority Community in Islamic Republic is under Threat

The Kalash community is believed to be descendants of Alexander the Great and his troops who invaded Kalash

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From the higher Rumbur valley of Pakistan, the Kalash community is a traditional sect of pagan people from North-West Pakistan with a rich, yet threatened culture. A place which is certainly cut off from the rest of the nation, Rumbur valley has no electricity or newspapers and no phone networks. They have one thing in abundance, which is militancy.

There are numerous reasons as to why the Kalashis are under threat, and one of them is Paganism. They worship one ‘creative God’ as refuse to accept Islam while the rest of Pakistan constitutes Muslims. And because they call everyone else Pakistani (despite the fact that they too belong to Pakistan), this community is too prone to sudden violence by Muslims. The security is heightened in the valley, especially during the Kalash festival Joshi, celebrated on the onset of Spring, mentioned voa.com reports.

A young Kalashi girl. Image source: albumofuniverse.blogspot.com
A young Kalashi girl. Image source: albumofuniverse.blogspot.com

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People wear traditional clothes, beat drums and sing traditional songs, drink wine and make merry under this liberating sky. The concern for security or disapproval from other communities doesn’t lessen their celebrations. The ‘Chilam Joshi’ festival is a four-day festival that starts from the Rumber Valley and ends at Bhamboriyat.

A group of Kalashis during the Joshi festival. Image source: thekalashatimes.wordpress.com
A group of Kalashis during the Joshi festival. Image source: thekalashatimes.wordpress.com

Military forces create another trouble across the valley. After every few metres can be found a militant from the ATS to secure the foreign tourists from majorly Taliban; abductions were common here a few years ago. After recent earthquakes and other calamities, the Kalash community highly depends on tourism for an earning. Cattle and livestock or agricultural activities cannot be held here, reported voa.com.

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Conversion is a recurring problem for people belonging to this community. Many women convert from Kalash to Muslim or others after marriage, and men often accept Islam to reach their material goals. Another major reason for conversion is usually that Kalash is an ‘expensive’ culture- where ethnic clothes, weddings and funerals are expensive. The newer generation doesn’t want to learn about their group, they are not interested in learning their traditional songs.

The Kalash community is believed to be descendants of Alexander the Great and his troops who invaded Kalash. They are fairer people with bright coloured eyes, as opposed to comparatively darker skinned Pakistanis. There are not more than 3500 Kalashis in Rumbur and Chitral in total, and they are under constant threat of Taliban.

– prepared by Chetna Karnani, at NewsGram. Twitter: @karnani_chetna

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1 COMMENT

  1. The Kalash of Pakistan may become the next Yazidi.

    Any genuine and distinctive minority in the World is under threat. Empires, whether Communist, Islam, British or Roman, or the Social Engineering Indian Republic are a threat to spirituality and cultural identity. Islam is an overt, self declared and vicious threat to all who are outside its intestines. That is the very proclamation of this “religion” in the Quran and the Hadiths.

    I might add, as just a few out of myriad examples, that Sabarimala, the Jalykattu, Kohlapur Mahalakshmi, Shaneeshwara Temple and the Brahmin way of life are being eradicated by the Indian Republic and its vicious Constitution, ugly laws a confiscation of other people’s property and religious freedoms, and, even more vicious courts.

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Zeenat Shahzadi, Missing Pakistani Woman Journalist Fighting For Jailed Indian, Found After Two Years

A Pakistani woman journalist who was allegedly kidnapped while pursuing the case of an Indian engineer two years ago has been rescued

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Zeenat Shahzadi
Zeenat Shahzadi had allegedly been kidnapped in Pakistan's Lahore city in 2015. Twitter.

Lahore October 21:  It was reported by PTI that A Pakistani journalist, Zeenat Shahzadi had “forcibly disappeared” while working on the case of Indian citizen Hamid Ansari.

  • A Pakistani journalist, Zeenat Shahzadi who was allegedly kidnapped two years ago has been rescued.
  • Zeenat Shahzadi, a 26-year-old reporter of Daily Nai Khaber and Metro News TV channel, was kidnapped by unidentified men while she was reaching her home in Lahore on August 19, 2015.
  • She was pursuing the case of an Indian engineer jailed in Peshawar on espionage charges.

The chief of Pakistan’s Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (CIED) Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal said that Shahzadi was retrieved nearby the Pakistan-Afghanistan border on Thursday night. He also mentioned the key roles of tribals from Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces in her recovery.

Zeenat Shahzadi
Rescue of Pakistani Journalist is celebrated in Pakistan. Twitter.

Ansari, a resident of Mumbai had been arrested for illegally invading Pakistan from Afghanistan to meet a girl he had befriended online in 2012. He was convicted to three years imprisonment on charges of spying and entering Pakistan illegally.

On Shahzadi being kidnapped, her brother Saddam Hussain committed suicide in March last year, making the situation an importance by the media.

Human rights activists, including former Secretary General of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, IA Rehman, have raised their voice to set Ansari free since he has completed to serve his sentence.

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Pakistan Elected to UN Human Rights Council along with 14 other countries

The new members will serve a three-year term from January 1, 2018

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un human rights council
UN General Assembly elect 15 new members of Human Rights Council. Wikimedia

United Nations, October 17, 2017 : Fifteen countries, including Pakistan, have been elected to the UN Human Rights Council by the UN General Assembly.

In a vote on Monday, Afghanistan, Angola, Australia, Chile, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, Senegal, Slovakia, Spain and Ukraine were elected, a Foreign Office statement said.

They will serve a three-year term from January 1, 2018. (IANS)

 

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Pakistan Electoral Body Bars Political Party Due to Terror Ties

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Sheikh Yaqub
Sheikh Yaqub (C) candidate of the newly-formed Milli Muslim League party, waves to his supporters at an election rally in Lahore, Pakistan. voa

Pakistan’s Election Commission (ECP) on Wednesday rejected the registration application of a newly established political party with alleged ties to a banned militant group in the country.

Milli Muslim League (MML) has been disqualified to participate in the country’s state and general elections.

The electoral commission’s decision is said to be based on a request made earlier by the country’s Ministry of Interior Affairs, stating that Milli Muslim League is a front organization for Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a U.S.-designated terror sponsoring organization in Pakistan.

“The government is vigilant and under no circumstances will allow any political party with a proven record of promoting violence and terrorism to spread their extremist ideology through democracy and political means,” Tallal Chaudhry, Pakistan’s minister of state for Interior Affairs, told VOA.

Saif Ullah Khalid, president of Milli Muslim League, dismissed the election commission’s decision and said the party will take the matter to the country’s judiciary.

Political wing

Milli Muslim League was established in August 2017 as a political wing for the controversial Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), which is believed to be a front organization for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror group led by Hafiz Saeed.

Saeed was accused of masterminding Mumbai’s 2008 terror attacks that killed 166 people, including six Americans.

The U.S. government has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his arrest. Saeed has been reportedly under house arrest in the eastern city of Lahore for the past eight months.

In September, during an important by-election in Lahore, when the National Assembly’s seat fell vacant following the disqualification of then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the newly launched MML backed an independent candidate who finished fourth in the race for Sharif’s seat.

At the time, Pakistan’s upper house of parliament strongly criticized the country’s election commission for allowing JuD’s political wing, MML, to participate in the Lahore by-election.

Some experts were concerned about the emergence of militant groups joining mainstream politics in Pakistan. They maintain that the political trend seen in Lahore’s by-election, where parties linked to militant groups are able to mobilize and generate sufficient numbers of votes within a very short period of time, as alarming.

“There should be a debate on this sensitive issue through social, political and media channels. By allowing militant-based political parties to integrate into mainstream politics, it will only escalate radicalization in the society,” Khadim Hussain, a Peshawar based political analyst, told VOA.

“There are people who believe with the merger of such militant groups into politics, we’ll provide them an avenue to maintain a political presence without leaving their extreme ideologies,” Hussain added.

Army’s support

Earlier last week, Pakistan’s army acknowledged they are mulling over plans to blend the militant-linked political groups into the mainstream political arena.

Some analysts side with MML, arguing the party should be allowed to participate in elections.

“I do not understand in what capacity the election commission has rejected MML’s application to register as a party,” said Ahmad Bilal Mehboob, the head of Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT).

“Did they (MML) break any law? If not, how can you bar MML from entering the mainstream politics when they’re doing it through legitimate ways,” Mehboob emphasized.

Zubair Iqbal, a Washington-based South Asia expert, also raised concerns over the validity of the decision.

“This is how democracy works. … There are some extreme groups, some moderate groups and no one should be stopped because of their extreme ideologies,” Iqbal told VOA. “The extremist groups can be barred from entering into the politics only through people and democracy.”

“Unless these parties and individuals are allowed to participate in the political system they might never change their extreme ideologies and might continue operating underground which will prove to be more dangerous,” Iqbal added.

International pressure

In the past few years, Pakistan has faced escalating pressure from the international community for not being able to crackdown on militant groups enjoying safe havens in Pakistan and launching attacks in neighboring countries.

In his recent speech on the region, U.S President Trump put Pakistan on notice to take actions against safe havens in Pakistan. Pakistani officials deny the existence of safe havens on its soil.

Pakistan is also accused of being selective in its pursuit of terror groups. It allegedly goes after only those groups that pose a threat to the country’s national security, ignoring others that threat India and Afghanistan.

Pakistan rejects the allegations and reiterates its stance of having no sympathy for any terror group operating in the country.(VOA)