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Pakistan is Shocked by PM Narendra Modi’s new Baloch Policy, says Pakistan-born Author Tarek Fatah

“If we give them and let them handle the mantle of religion that they seek to exploit for their own geo-political issues all over the globe, then we are really going to lose this war.” said Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, a Wisconsin-born Muslim

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Tarek Fatah. Source: tarekfatah.com
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New Delhi, Nov 23, 2016: Pakistan-born Canadian journalist and author Tarek Fatah, whose sardonic dismissal of the radical Islam has won him fans in India, says that he is an Indian at heart.

Fatah says that he sees no progress for provinces of Pakistan like Balochistan and Sindh which are struggling to break free from the clutches of state-sponsored terrorism. The founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress praises the shift of India in its Balochistan policy saying that it has turned heads towards the issue which was never brought under the spotlight, mentioned HT report.

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When questioned by HT, about the endgame of the Balochistan Struggle- he said that a few years back, it could have been solved in a way where it could have been a part of the federation based on the presentation of some of the nationalist politicians, a six-point plan similar to what Sheikh Mujib Ur Rehman did to win the election in the year 1970.

The Pakistan government rejected it completely which sent out the message that the only path Islamabad suggested was the subjugation and elimination of the Balochi language.

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He said that a government in exile is necessary and after India’s intervention there is hope that the Baloch leadership might get together into a confederacy. Fatah thinks that Pakistan was taken aback. He said that they never thought that the Indians would know about Balochistan.

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He tells HT, since most NGOs and journalists serve public relations companies and rely on press releases and lobbyists, the Baloch have no understanding of the working of international media and hence, their voice is never aired.

Rashad Suleymanov, the vice president of the European Parliament explicitly mentioned in Geneva that the European parliament will impose sanctions on Pakistan if the human rights infringements do not stop in occupied Balochistan.

While explaining the situation in Sindh, he said that Sindh has been diluted by the Urdu-speaking immigrants who migrated came in from India. At first, Jinnah took away their major city Karachi and converted it into an Urdu speaking city where no other language was permitted. This deprived around 90% of the population who spoke Gujarati, Sindhi, and Balochi.

None of the Gujarati speaking people were employed as the requirement was the ability to converse in Urdu and the Sindhi were pushed away from the urban cities.

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On being asked why is he so critical of Pakistan he said that the colonial power has blood on its hands. It bullied itself into shame when Pakistan was formed. Around 60 percent Pakistan converse in Bengali, but the Punjabis forced Urdu upon the Bengalis. The bitterness is invoked by their attempt to appear as descendants of Babur and Taimur which will launch the retake of Delhi as the Mughal Empire. It is an insult to intelligence and the Punjabi ancestry.

“I visited Pakistan last in 2006. My brother had to change his last name. I do have extended family and unfortunately, sometimes they face questions. They have to disown me. That is what restricts most sincere people to speak out because the Punjabi Pakistani state has a very feudal, medieval way of torturing relatives or running away with daughters.” He told the Hindustan Times when asked about his family in Pakistan.

He said that it is not a natural alliance but that is how parliamentary politics works when asked about the BJP-PDP alliance.

Talking about the turmoil in Kashmir he said that the Arabisation of the people is taking place and it can be felt in Burhan Wani’s message. He said that it was not Sheikh Abdullah’s language, it was coming from ISIS (Islamic State).

He said that this was not about territorial occupation or freedom, it was about the dominion of this world by a “fanatic Islamic-Fascist order”.

“There is no national interest. They (Kashmiris), a segment of Indian Muslims, and the Indian left want some exotic fantasy of Pakistan to remain there. So they can live the drama of peace, progress, why can’t we live together. It is a complete fraud.” Says Fatah.

He explains that at one end we have the completely fascist order based on deception and the other end has Hindu guilt-ridden liberals that say they have a plan to practice brotherhood nut it is the Hindu right-wing hindering that.

“The real ultra-right is the Muslim liberal class, it is not the other way round.”

When said that he was very critical to the left he said “I think the CPM is the ultra-right wing party in India.” How can the Left, the Marxists, protect the rights of the fascists, Jamat-e-Islami, or the Muslim Brotherhood.

The most horrific face of Islam is represented by ISIS and they are the ones controlling the Kashmir agenda.

When asked if he would want to become an Indian citizen, he said, “I would love to but there is not a system in India wherein I could apply for it. Imagine, Portugal’s prime minister is the first European head ever to be of Indian origin, he would I’m sure love to visit Goa. I don’t blame anyone, but it is just how things are.

I have asked but there is no application for citizenship. Our entire family is Mumbai Punjabis, but we can’t be Indians. I am as Indian as anybody else.”

He says that the status of young girls is changing in India. There is something very different between the girls on either sides of the border. There are young girls clad in skirts and ties, sitting on bikes confidently, which is not at all visible in Pakistan. You could see this in the 1950s Lahore as most women went to work on a bicycle.

There is no unified Pakistan: the Sindhis and the Balochis want freedom, the Karachi mayor is imprisoned and they are in a delusional state. The Afghan wars have Arabised the Pashtuns and the Punjabis want to speak Urdu. There is an ongoing identity crisis but the majority of the ruling class are fundamentally aggressive and think it is their right to erase anything un-Islamic.

They have been taught that the Hindus are fragile and weak and it is their job to civilise them. A group of brainwashed people cannot be reasoned with rationally.

“We are dealing with a considerably more rational reasonable people (in India) because of women’s empowerment in India,” adds Fateh.

-prepared by Shivam Thaker with inputs from HT. Twitter: @Shivam_Thaker

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In The Name Of The Father: Honour Killing And Blasphemy In South Asia

Is there any lesson for India to learn from the occurrence and fallouts of cases related to Honour Killings and Blasphemy in Pakistan?

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Honor Killing Protest in Pakistan.

By Tania Bhattacharya

Taniya Bhattacharya
Ms. Tania Bhattacharya

There was once a girl from the rural areas of Pakistan, South Asia. At the young age of 16, she was forcibly married off by her parents. Her husband turned out to be an inebriated womanizer. She tried to live with him, producing a son, and tried to put up with his infractions. When it became too much to ignore, she would complain. He then silenced her by using brute force, punches and kicks. Unable to bear the toll her marriage was taking on her mental and physical well-being, she deserted her man and her child, and left the village. Arriving in the metropolis of Lahore, she decided to make it big in the entertainment industry. To her mind, the simplest way to achieve this was to use a pseudonym and social media as the medium of exposure. So she went on the offensive with her frequent uploads which soon went viral; dressing provocatively, gyrating and singing sensuously; recording video messages for Pakistani male celebrities; and even proposing marriage to cricketer turned
politician Imran Khan. People began to notice her. Gradually this woman, once a victim of domestic abuse, evolved into Pakistan’s Kim Kardashian. Employing a ruse as a whistleblower in one instance, she inadvertently exposed a Mufti and created a furore in the wake of the incident. But everyone watching her videos, was not a fan. There was something dark lurking beyond the pale of adulation, that she was finally able to sense and wake up to. Calling an urgent press conference one day, she begged for the media to leave her alone or to provide her with protection. They had had the temerity to fish out her passport details and her birth name and hold it up for the world to see. It was the last time the public saw her speak. Weeks later, on the 15th of July 2016, she was found dead
in the home she had bought for her parents and siblings; strangled to death in her sleep, by her own brother who had grown irate by reading the lecherous comments of her fans and thought that she had brought dishonour to her family.

Only, this is not the script of a film. It is the biography of Pakistani internet celebrity Qandeel Baloch. Now, her life has been immortalized into a television drama named ‘Baaghi’, or ‘Rebel’. Qandeel’s homicidal brother Waseem Azeem, confessed to the crime, saying that his sister’s licentious moves, had brought disrepute to their clan. The shocking incident was condemned by a number of Paki public figures who bear a liberal image among the masses. Two of these were the late human rights activist Ms. Asma Jahangir, and chairperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Mr. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

Qandeel’s tragedy is not an exception. She joins a long list of victims in Pakistan, who have paid with their lives for either dishonouring filial ties, or for committing Blasphemy, a crime punishable by death. As far as the latter goes, there have been at least two famous cases of women who were accused of blaspheming; Asia Bibi, and more recently, Rimsha Masih.

Asia Bibi, during a private conversation in a fruit orchard, seemingly made certain deprecatory comments about Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. Someone – in all probability one of the women participants in the said conversation – then reported her to the authorities. She was arrested for the alleged crime, that had occurred on the 14th of June 2009. Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, carries the death penalty for blasphemy. Merely being reported on the flimsiest instance of supposedly speaking ill about Muhammad, can earn someone the noose in that country.

Also Read: Pakistani Christians Not Feeling Safe After The IS Attack

In order to indict her, the prosecution from its end, had brought forth seven witnesses, two of whom were women; Mafia Bibi, and Asma Bibi. The women claimed that after they refused to drink the water Asia had brought for them – on the grounds that she was a Christian – Asia had proceeded to lampoon Islam’s prophet. As the Pakistani media has pointed out, it is not improbable, that Afia and Asma were in a dispute over potable water with the accused, and may have used the opportunity to get rid of her. In the end, following an infirmed defence, Asia Bibi was sentenced to be hanged. The year was 2010.

Rimsha Maasih, another Christian, was accused of Blasphemy at the mere age of 14. Khalid Jadoon, a Muslim cleric, had complained to law enforcement, that Rimsha had burnt pages from the Holy Quran. Rimsha, who suffers from learning disabilities, was framed by Jadoon, but even after the courts had established this, Jadoon was let off the hook, lightly, with all charges against him being dropped. Rimsha fled to Canada with her family in tow, after she was released from gaol. The year was 2012.

Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws are unforgiving of its minorities, who face arraignment and a death sentence upon being convicted.

Honour Killing is by no means peculiar to Pakistan. It is a pan Afro-Asian epidemic, that affects women and girls who are defenceless. Sometimes, powerless men become victims too, if the perpetrators are wealthy, and connected, as India witnessed in the case of Nitish Katara’s murder. In Jordan, the parliament has long been trying to pass laws to counterbalance its record of the honour killing of girls. In the African continent, the practice is rampant, as it is in India, where caste concerns and family dictates tend to govern the lives of couples who wish to turn their relationships into a lifelong commitment.

Also Read: How Honorable is Honor Killing?

However, even if honour killing is not restricted to Pakistan, Blasphemy is the most pronounced there, out of the entire swathe of the Indian sub-continent, which includes Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bhutan. For the committing of blasphemy, the necessary requirement is of a religion that has a founding father, whose words are written in stone. Islam is not the only religion with a founding father. So are Judaism and Christianity. However, blaspheming does not appear to scar societies with a majority Christian or Jewish population. The reason is not these religions, but the watering down of their original ethics at the hands of the European Enlightenment and the Renaissance. Islam on the other hand, did not experience any internal change on the scale of the two, and continues to remain unrepentant of its Blasphemy pogroms.

Nor is this to say, that there are no freethinkers within the Paki establishment and larger society who condemn the Blasphemy Law and are highly critical of it. Prominent humanist the late Salman Taseer, who was a long time beau of Indian journalist Tavleen Singh and the father of their son, the author Aatish Taseer, was gunned down outside his home, due to his defence of Asia Bibi, against the court’s verdict. He had been appealing for mercy on Asia’s behalf.

As case after case has revealed, inflicting a prison term or a death sentence on unsuspecting members of Pakistan’s minorities, coupled with instances where the opportunity is used for settling personal scores, have become the hallmark of the implementation of its Blasphemy Law.

Perhaps the most infamous instance of this law being in flagrant violation of basic human rights, is in the case of Mashal Khan. Mashal Khan was a medical student at the Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan, in the northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. He had been a journalist previously and had spend many years working and studying in Russia. Mashal had Leftist leanings, and took great pains to describe himself as a Humanist, above everything else. His twitter and facebook accounts, frequently dropped bombs about how the Pakistani military establishment was responsible for mind control and collateral damage and how its propaganda tactics were causing more harm to its people than good. Mashal has spoken on several occasions, about the persecution of the minorities of his country, with special focus on its Hindus. Time and again, he had advocated that his country’s problems were its own, and that it was a fruitless exercise to pin the blame on
India and its Hindus.

Also Read: Christian Blasphemy Suspect in Pakistan Jumps from Building to Escape Torture

It is not difficult to surmise as to why he was targeted for assassination. On the fateful day of the 13th of April 2017, a large group of students from the Abdul Wali Khan University who were Mashal’s own peers, attacked him furiously inside the campus. He was lynched and shot at, being left mortally wounded. When the ambulance was called, it was already too late. Mashal’s mother later recounted, that when she kissed his hand for the last time before his burial, she found that even the bones of his fingers, were broken.

Just as there are regressive forces within Pakistan that are preventing the nation from thinking along humanist lines by riding on the coattails of its Blasphemy Laws and its ethics over Honour Killing, there is also a handful of right-minded activists, students, and leaders there, who are straining to make themselves heard. One of them had been the late Mashal.

Is there any lesson for India to learn from the occurrence and fallouts of cases related to Honour Killings and Blasphemy in Pakistan?

Let us not emulate. Blasphemy will never be a popular idea among the majority Hindus of this country, since Hinduism does not have a founding father, the religion being a conglomeration of branches of varying lengths and sizes. But freethinkers have faced the heat in recent times in this country. The murder of a Gauri Lankesh, a Narendra Dabholkar, or an M.M. Kalburgi, are proof enough, that sections of Hindus are no longer tolerant of dissent.

This is tragic. Hinduism’s many schools of philosophy, include one that deals exclusively with Atheism. Known as the Charvaka reservoir of critical analysis, this system of beliefs relies entirely on rationalism and empirical evaluation.

One can only hope, that Charvaka’s unhindered existence in the millennia of Hinduism’s history, will
prove a point to Hindus, and prevent them from going Pakistan’s way, in the realm of Blasphemy.

Tania is a freelance writer with a Masters in Defence and Strategic Studies who has a wide range of interests.