Masum Akhtar, a Newspaper Columnist
“The fight is between true Islamists and the distorted ones. I am not anti-Islam. But my free thinking is not accepted by fundamentalist Muslims who are doing a great harm to the religion,” he said....
Properly speaking, secularism is a doctrine that rejects religion and religious considerations in the state’s policies, their implementation, and decisions. Secularism is the doctrine of keeping religion out of the state’s decisions and actions. But we have, instead, interpreted secularism as ‘Sarva Dharma Samabhava,’ where the state professes equal respect for all religions....
Jinnah's promise to the minorities, especially the
Christian leadership, of equal treatment and recognition as equal citizens of
Pakistan has not been respected and validated but instead every successive
government has contributed to their miseries. The concept of a nation changed
and we divided up into Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Sikhs, and then further
on as Punjabis, Sindhis, Baloch and Pashtuns....
Although Netanyahu vowed to oppose a future
Palestinian state - raising concerns among his Western allies - Herzog, too,
practically opposed a contiguous and sovereign Palestinian state because no
such state could possibly co-exist with colonial settlements and military
In the wake of international infamy over the
government’s blocking of India’s Daughter, this judgment is a monumental
reminder that we are a democracy with an independent judiciary and a formidable
Turkey does not figure in any major equation of Middle Eastern politics. It is either Saudi Arabia or Iran that is the constant or variable of that equation. Ironically, Turkey seems to have become a state desperately seeking allies to help it out of isolation….
I think all religions need
introspection. Muslim moderates should ask why a five-year-old girl must be in Purdah
instead of being assured of justice when a paedophile leers at her. Similar
questions about the marital rights of Muslim women and other diktats need
questioning. Not from a Western perspective but from the perspective of
humanity and decency. The Brahmo Samaj protested against child marriage, sati
and encouraged widow remarriage. A lot more has to be done within Hinduism to
fight conversion effectively….
The Vykom satyagraha was an early example of the strategic application of nonviolent action even if it was some twenty years after Gandhi started using it strategically....
Jinnah was born barely 100 km from Porbandar, the birthplace of Gandhiji. A lawyer of great integrity and competence, he was far removed from the Muslim world to which he was born. But he was held in high regard by non-Muslim elites. He defended Bal Gangadhar Tilak in court; Sarojini Naidu wrote his biography; Motilal Nehru called him an ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity. His weak point was an abhorrence of mass politics a la Gandhi. ....
There is more. The state’s apparent commitment to fighting terror has, coincidentally and conveniently, dovetailed with the assertion of its power in other realms. The introduction of military courts and the reintroduction of the death penalty....
Now, because of a sculpture that wears “mekap” on her feet, a sculptor is accused of being a terrorist. The artist is trying to explain that this is not a woman’s sculpture from the PKK. What if it was? …..
No young men were left in the locality. Police had bundled and taken them away to some unknown location on the most auspicious day in Muslim calendar, days before Eid, even as no rioting had taken place in Hashimpura. Those left behind were thirsty and hungry, while the locality had run out of food and water with no help in sight. Insult was added to injury when bodies of 42 men, riddled with bullets fired point-blank, taken from the locality were found floating in canals over 30km away......
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This little anecdote carries no authority. I am intrigued by it because it carries some remarkable “clues”. I must say I was never completely convinced by the acronym deployed in the textbooks. Even “A” for Afghania (Pakhtunkhwa) is a bit of a stretch. Two “Bs” for Bengal and Balochistan — the latter is supposed to be contained in the “tan” ending — were missing anyway, while “K” for Kashmir is there....
The positives are few and far between. It seems as if all major stakeholders have worked more towards chipping away at democracy than adding value to it. A lot is yet to be done in order to put Pakistan firmly on the path of democratic rule…..
What is being targeted is the civic way of life enabling citizens to live at once as Muslims and democrats. This should be the primary concern of Tunisia's citizens and the new political elite shaping the country's "Second Republic" after the January 2011 Revolution.....
Because there truly was a time, when the state failed the citizens of Karachi once too many times, and there was only one place they could go to seek help and be heard: Nine-Zero. When the state did not even provide the Katchi Abadis of Karachi with pipe water in the 1980s, the MQM demanded their legislation so that they could be provided with better amenities, legally......
A reluctance to criticise has allowed the political influence of Islam to grow. "We see politicians treading on egg shells with the religious authorities,".....
One of these was the “Just Order,” which was an understanding of the economy resembling Muammar Gaddafi’s Islamic Socialism, rather than modern theories. The other was an open enmity for the “Western club,” which considered the European Union as a “Christian club” or even a “club of Crusaders.”….
Observers may have baulked, but Bibi knew what he was doing. Benjamin Netanyahu, incumbent Israeli prime minister, has spent the past few days making alarmingly racist and intransigent statements - and as an election tactic, it worked.....
The boy was held in solitary confinement, his genitals were electrocuted and he was burned with cigarette butts. The policemen interrogating him removed three of his fingernails. Sadly, Shafqat’s case was not the exception. It was the rule.....
Every time a Shia Imambargah is attacked, dark images of revenge flit through the minds of Shia youths. This is the soil we tilled, and this the harvest we are lifting. The great theorists of strategic depth, the bright-eyed promoters of ‘jihad’ as an instrument of state policy....
Clandestine bigamy among Hindus has a worse effect than open polygamy among Muslims. Muslim men who have more than one wife, on the other hand, are legally bound to provide each not only residence but also proper maintenance. Thus, a Muslim woman is better off than the “second Hindu wife”.....
That, distinctions still exists between terrorists who attack abroad and those who strike at home was confirmed by the Islamabad High Court’s decision to set free Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi, the mastermind of the 26/11. Although the Pakistan government moved to continue Lakhvi’s detention, the court’s argument for setting him free was disingenuous....
While Urdu's script resembles that of Arabic and Farsi, a lot of words are similar to Hindi. That remains its core strength. "Urdu has some inner fortitude that has led to it being around. It lives because the language can be understood and is similar to Hindi. The script has more or less ceased to be readable, but the popularity of its literature has not dimmed,"....
As the US-Iranian talks near the announced deadline, the question is no longer about nukes. It is about the Iranian regime itself. Will it become moderate after reaching a deal? Will suspicions end by a deal that lifts sanctions and turns Iran into a West-friendly country open to the world? Or will it only free an extremist lion from its cage?....