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The Need for Civil Society in Pakistan
Ahmed Rashid

Now suddenly peace between Pakistan and Afghanistan is all that is being talked about and there is the suggestion that the militaries of the two countries will take a joint run against their common problem - the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban. Neither have half a dozen serving and retired Pakistani generals dressed in suits, with their wives in tow, ever slipped into a public audience to hear India's leading historians and other Indian intellectuals speak of India's past and future problems and the need to make peace with Pakistan....

 

The government might not have officially released the religious data of Census 2011, but in a presentation before an international delegation in the United States it said that over 180 million Muslims were living in India, constituting 14.88 per cent of the total population. It also asserted that despite a large Muslim population in India, there was hardly any case of the community members joining violent pan-Islamic groups….

 

Humanity Check: Did You Grieve Shia Genocide As Much As You Did The Pak-India Match?
Alizeh Khaleeli

Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), a banned terrorist organisation, is protesting outside the Supreme Court in the capital, which falls in the red zone and is currently under negotiations with the government. How are we supposed to interpret the government’s actions versus their rhetoric of eliminating terrorism, when the ASWJ sends such a clear message as to who clasps the reins of power....

 

Why Is PML-N Allowing Foreign Funding For Pakistani Madrasas?
Salman Zafar

Saudi Arabia, for example, has funded religious extremism in various parts of the world, based in large parts on its paranoia of Shia Islam. While Saudi Arabia itself has not suffered from religious violence, even though it makes up for it with inhumane domestic policies, countries that have been on the receiving end of the funding  by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries have suffered massive human loss. Pakistan has the tragic honour of being an old member of that very club. Even though as far as this particular piece of news is concerned, Saudi Arabia falls well behind the likes of Qatar and Kuwait as far as the amount of funding goes, its influence in the region and its muscle behind the spread of Wahabi Islam has been obvious to the world for a long time….

 

In Defense of Islam
Ross Douthat

The important truth here (and throughout the article) is that ISIS is not just comprised of “modern secular people” in a religious disguise; it is comprised, at least among its more sophisticated adherents, of sincerely religious people who reject secularism and liberalism no matter how many times they eat at Pizza Hut. But this truth should not obscure the fact that these people and their motivations are themselves modern in some important ways, that to be anti-secular and illiberal is not necessarily the same as being medieval or traditional, and that just because ISIS is at war with the secular and liberal does not mean that its claim to speak on behalf of pre-modern Islam against some impure modern variant is necessarily legitimate or should be given the benefit of the doubt....

 

Malaysia without Anwar
Gwynne Dyer

Barely half of the people in Malaysia are actually Malays. Most of the rest are descended from Chinese and Indian immigrants who arrived in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the non-Malay population is doing much better economically than the original population. Most of the non-Malays are also non–Muslim, so the Malay population feels both exploited and threatened....

 

Breaking Silence: Modi Has Done Well To Uphold Religious Freedom and the Right to Choose
PM Narendra Modi

Breaking his silence on growing incidents of religious intolerance since the NDA government came to power, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asserted his government’s determination to protect freedom of religion and the citizen’s right to choose in this regard. Anything else would be antithetical to the vision of modernity and unleashing of aspiration that he has otherwise articulated for 21st century India. The occasion on which he chose to do so is also significant — while attending a church event to mark the sainthoods of Kuriakose Chavara and Euphrasia from Kerala....

 

Other Related Stories:

PM Modi: Govt will not allow any group to incite hatred

Modi’s sermon on tolerance aimed at Christians, VHP says

Finally, Modi breaks silence, says won’t allow religious intolerance

Muslim clerics pose six questions to RSS

NaMo’s remarks a pleasant surprise, Christian leaders say

‘My Government Will Not Allow Any Religious Group Majority or Minority to Incite Hatred against Others’

It’s better late than never, Congress says

‘Hindus lured and forced to convert’

Modi’s statement evokes mixed reaction

 

Targets of the equation group, the firm said, were observed in more than 30 countries including US adversaries such as Russia, China, and Iran, and troubled and failing countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia. But they also included US allies and friends such as the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Singapore, Mexico, Brazil — and India. The group said it detected particularly high infection rates in computers in Iran and Pakistan, whose nuclear programs the US is said to monitor most closely....

 

The Council of Ulema seems to be far too focused on trivial issues such as banning Valentine’s Day and stopping people from buying chocolates that have condoms with them, rather than focusing on the real problem – violence against women. Somehow, these clerics feel that by banning people from having sex, the violence against women will stop. They feel that by removing women from the social sphere altogether – by shutting them inside houses – the abuse, the crimes and the violence that women face on a daily basis by their partners, family members or even bystanders on the street, in case they go out of the house at all, will stop....

 

Akbar focused on blasphemy. "There's an elephant in this hall which we have not addressed and I think it is time, if we want to take this matter seriously," he said. "The tongue can also wound and the wound inflicted by the tongue goes straight to the heart. They don't lacerate the body, they lacerate the heart. And the heart remembers much longer than the mind. And that's the problem with any wounds inflicted in the sphere of blasphemy.... Blasphemy is injury to the icons of the faith. You don't have to be abusive,"…

In fact, intolerance and even bloodthirstiness -- not to mention justifying slavery, the subjugation of women and the stoning of homosexuals -- were seen as grounded in Christianity, as well as in Jewish religion and tradition, including the Hebrew Bible where an angry and vengeful God instructs the Children of Israel to destroy the non-believers That was then….

When Madrasa Challenges State
Khaled Ahmed

The Nawaz Sharif government says madrasas are sacrosanct and will not be investigated, but a growing body of facts in the media says madrasas are involved in terrorism through the training of killers and “excommunication” (takfir) of the Shia community. The state itself apostatises Ahmadi Muslims but baulks at takfir of the Shia counted as Muslims in the census. Most madrasas have gone on record — they may deny it — in calling the Shia Kafir. Their Fatwas have been used as handbills prior to Shia massacres.....

Bad Luck for Nigeria
The Economist

Bad Luck for Nigeria

But the government’s biggest liabilities are the result of its own greed. Officials have never been shy about dipping into public troughs but the present lot is, by common consent, especially avaricious. Last year the governor of the central bank said that $20 billion had gone missing. He was sacked for his trouble….

 

Victory Or Violation: Should The Lal Masjid Detainee Be Sent Home?
Rafia Zakaria

In reality, considering the daily wear and tear a family can exercise on anyone’s will, the Court's terms and conditions are unlikely to mean much when it comes to Uzma’s ability to make choices for herself....

 

Trading With the 'Enemy'?
Najam Sethi

... if Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi decide to trade with each other, the media in both countries will likely be a force-multiplier (as in 1999) aiding their initiatives because there can be no better people-to-people trust building exercise than one which creates powerful business vested interests

 

‘Anti-Theist’ Murders At Chapel Hill
Mustafa Akyol

The exact motivation of the murders is still unclear and some say everything began with a dispute over parking space. Yet, people normally don’t commit massacres for parking space, and enough signs point to a hate crime: The victims were targeted because of their very Muslim-ness. This is not the first time that hatred of Muslims, also called “Islamophobia,” causes blood spill….

‘Love Jihad’ In India and One Man’s Quest to Prevent It
Aman Sethi

“Cut my own throat if I’m lying, but I swear to you: around us, right now, all around us are Hindu women held captive by Muslim husbands,” Vijaykant Chauhan said on our first meeting. “Islamic terrorists are using the sacred land of Hindustan, the wealth of Hindustan and Hindustan’s daughters to breed children who are sent to Madrasas, trained in Pakistan and turned into more terrorists who want to destroy India.”....

 

Nigeria: An Election under Fire
Gwynne Dyer

When 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram in north-eastern Nigeria last April, it took Jonathan forty days even to mention the incident. Ten thousand Nigerians have been killed by Boko Haram in the past year, but he didn’t even mention the organization’s name in the speech launching his re-election campaign…..

 

Is Turkey Becoming The Centre Of Regional Crises?
Nuray Mert

That is why the supporters of the governing party in Turkey claimed that ISIL was a temporary phenomenon, while the Sunni response (against the growing influence of Iran) was a permanent issue to be taken seriously. ….

 

Thorny Roses on Valentine’s Day
Rafia Zakaria

Like so much else in Pakistan, Valentine’s Day is a political event. As has been the case in the recent restive years, the arrival of the mid-February homage to love is accompanied by posters and billboards as well as terse castigations for would-be revellers. “Sorry Valentine’s Day: I am Muslim”...

 

Utter Horror: Why Videos of Beheadings, Rape Get Us Hooked
Sanchita Sharma

Watching violent videos lead to some amount of desensitisation, especially in young children who cannot understand why someone is being so cruel and unfeeling to another person. You have to explain violence to children and adolescents in a language they understand,".....

 
Moving On
Khaled Ahmed

Moving On
Khaled Ahmed

A retired air vice marshal of the Pakistan air force, Shahzad Chaudhry, who has emerged as a “realist” opinion-maker, had this to say about the visit: “25 years from now, if not earlier, four nations will stand tall on the map of the world: the United States of America, China, Russia and India… India will soon be up there with them, which is why I say 25 years. If these countries interact, sometimes competitively and at other times harmoniously, it shouldn’t come as any surprise.”....

Many conscious citizens say there is hardly any democracy in Bangladesh at present. In 1991, a system for peaceful transfer of power through acceptable election was formed. Many used to talk about it jokingly as 'one day democracy' or 'election day democracy.' But after the January 5, 2014 election, it was seen that the government along with the political party in power could manipulate the election result as per their desire. The people are expressing concern about future elections where similar manipulation in favour of the party in power could be possible under the existing modified constitutional provisions. This would become a threat to peaceful transfer of power as per will of the people, ultimately leading towards dictatorial autocracy. This is not the spirit of the Liberation War….

 

Saffron Brotherhood
Javed Anand

The Sangh Parivar and the Shiv Sena are to India what the Jamaat-e-Islami, the Taliban and their ilk are to Pakistan. Though Pakistan has officially been an “Islamic Republic” virtually from the moment of its birth, it still is far from the ideal of an Islamic State where only the Sharia rules. So the Islamists are working overtime to realise their totalitarian fantasy. Post-Partition India thankfully opted for a secular state. But since the mid-1980s, Hindutvawadis have worked zealously to steer the country’s polity in the direction of a “Hindu Rashtra”. With a self-proclaimed “Hindu nationalist” now at the helm, why be surprised if they today feel emboldened to speak and act as never before?....

Before that the idea of ethnicity-based nationalism was alien to Kashmir. Pandit Prem Nath Bazaz invented it and later propagated it with the help of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and Moulvi Masoodi. They coined a special term for it—Kashmiriyat, which signified that “Kashmiris” were a separate Quaum (nation) by virtue of their common ethnicity, language, culture, habits and habitat, political interests, etc. The term “Kashmiri” is a vague and tricky one. It could be applied to mean the inhabitants of Kashmir Valley as also the inhabitants of the entire former Princely state of Kashmir.....

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