Islam Edit Bureau
11 May 2016
Threats from Religious Groups and Militants, the Pakistani Media Faces a New Menace
Process: Hostage To Haqqanis?
By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
interviewed by Reuters, Zardad Khan, from the village of Makol to which
16-year-old Ambreen belonged, said, “This barbarity has never happened before.”
The teenager was killed, her body put in a van and burned.
may be true for the village of Makol but not for Pakistan in general. Over
recent decades, village after village and, in particular, jirga after jirga,
has been implicated in ordering murders and even rapes of women under the
pretext of preserving ‘honour’. Over a decade ago was the famous case of
Mukhtaran Mai, ordered raped and humiliated in Meerwala. More recently, a
tribal Jirga in Kohistan condemned four women because they were seen clapping
and singing apparently in the company of men in a grainy mobile phone video.
They had been attending a relative’s wedding.
are probably greater than most imagine and, as is the case with crimes against
women in Pakistan, difficult to tabulate with real accuracy. Pakistani society,
at all levels, is adept at cover-ups for the crimes of men, at subterfuge
supporting the easy erasure of women. The status of the Jirga- or
Panchayat-ordered killing, an ironic form of ‘justice’, is a sub-category
within the larger compartment of ‘honour killings’, both populated with the
lost lives of women who died to sate the anger and bloodlust of men.
as instruments of communal justice, jirgas often dole out sentences unfettered
by the constraints of the laws of the country. As Ambreen’s tragic end reveals,
they can carry out their sentences. Outcry, if it follows at all, takes place
after the object of their wrath is already dead. In many cases, once outcry and
attention have faded, all those indicted for the crime (if they are indicted at
all) are often freed to live their lives. In a country where a woman’s life has
meagre worth, why should men be punished for taking it? Given the regularity
with which women are ordered killed, there seems to be implicit agreement on
Sister’s Council represents a promising answer to a difficult problem.
current form, Jirgas are composed almost entirely of men and unbound by the
limits of the law of the country. It is unsurprising, therefore, that the form
of justice doled out by them is misogynistic and brutal. In simple terms, a
community’s need for expedient dispute resolution is manipulated by its
powerful men and then used to order and enforce punishments that serve their
own interests. The weakness of the state’s own legal system, the cost involved
in availing oneself of it and the deadly delays that ail it further bolster the
reach and mandate of local jirgas. Even for the villagers of Makol, which isn’t
far from larger towns and cities, the court system, it seems, was too far away,
too distant from the lives of Makol’s inhabitants.
It does not
have to be this way. The work of one woman in the valley of Swat reveals how
the actual need for justice and the provision of it at a communal level can be
harnessed to protect and empower women, rather than leaving them at the mercy
of ruthless and self-interested men. Three years ago, Tabassum Adnan
inaugurated a Sister’s Council or ‘Khwendo Jirga’ in the village of Mingora.
to Adnan, who was herself married at the age of 13 and endured domestic abuse,
the existing tribal councils in her community did not permit women to join
them. Fed up of this decision, she got together a group of women and began
discussing the issues and concerns of the community with them. The women then
pressed the men on the jirga council to take their decisions and consensus into
account. According to Adnan, nearly 1,000 women in the area are now involved in
the Sister’s Council by bringing their problems to it and participating in its
Adnan’s work has received international acclaim. She has received the
International Women of Courage Award and just last month was also awarded the
Nelson Mandela-Graça Machele Innovation Award. Her pioneering strategy deserves
attention and implementation beyond Swat. A council where women of a community are
empowered to intervene and participate in communal decision-making can be a
crucial and pressing form of intervention in a situation that has become
Adnan’s Jirga does not currently receive any kind of monetary support from the
government or from any other source, but its work and powers of enforcement
could be enhanced even further if the state invested resources and empowered
its leaders. The Sister’s Council, with its grass-roots and women-centred
agenda, its rootedness in the community, represents a promising answer to a
have honour killings continued in Pakistan, many women’s organisations report
that their numbers have increased. One reason for this is that while there have
been various legislative measures to try and combat the persecution of women
and their relegation to the status of objects that can be exchanged or
extinguished, there has been no effort towards actually bringing about change
at the community level. Honour killings continue despite laws and campaigns
against them, because those committing these crimes continue to believe that
they are doing the right thing. They will not stop, unless others in their
community speak up, and these others have to be women.
killed at the behest of a Jirga; she is just one among so many Pakistani women
who have lost their lives in similar ways with community collusion and
consensus. A change can only occur if women from communities are empowered to
create their own alternate Jirgas whose decisions are binding on the community
these women’s Jirgas gain credibility within communities, the state should
invest in them, recognise their leaders and incentivise participation. Male
Jirgas have made Pakistan a home for grotesque and brutal crimes, women’s
Jirgas may actually make it a more just and equitable place.
Rafia Zakaria is an attorney teaching
constitutional law and political philosophy.
Threats from Religious Groups and Militants, The Pakistani Media Faces A New
09 May 2016
journalist Shahzada Zulfiqar is almost midway through his third stint as
president at the Quetta Press Club in a province where it is preferable to stay
silent to remain alive.
Balochistan, a good story is not one that is well-documented by local
reporters. Instead, it is one that mitigates risk. Local journalists think
twice about doing stories likely to infuriate state and non-state actors,
making self-censorship the norm.
are often summoned for a "cup of tea" with intelligence officials,
adept at monitoring and criticising reporters, according to Zulfiqar. He has
been warned a number of times against sharing his political views.
Baloch journalist, living in exile, explains: “It is strange living away from
Pakistan yet being dominated professionally by fear. For every article I write,
I spike ten others. It’s intellectual genocide. I’m not writing Jihadi
literature. Jihadi supporters have all the freedom of expression, even on
television. I have respect for human rights, peace and reconciliation. Why
can’t I pursue my profession?”
Balochistan Union of Journalists claims 41 journalists have been targeted in
the province since 2008. Much is dictated informally by the state, militants
and the military, say those in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata.
has been ranked 147 on the World Press Freedom Index by Reporters without
Borders, and fallen by more than 10% on the “media environment and
self-censorship” indicator from 2013 to date.
independent news coverage is precarious for privately-owned media because of
threats by religious groups and militants, as well as a large-scale propaganda
machinery under the state, the media resorts to self-censorship.
for offences against the media has been rising because the government avoids
prosecution of suspects linked to the state or militant groups, according to
Bob Dietz, Asia Programme Coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists.
independent local reporters were close to the frontline (Waziristan) in 2002,
they were unprepared to report on a war that was being fought on their home
More than a
decade later, the media is still under constraints because the reporting done
at the height of the “war on terror” continues to invite threats and warnings.
murder of North Waziristan-based Hidayatullah Khan, after he photographed
fragments of a US-made Hellfire missile that killed Al Qaeda’s Hamza Rabia, is
a case in point. Contradicting the government’s version was anathema to the
Hidayatullah, Safdar Dawar too hails from Miramshah, North Waziristan. As a
former president of the Tribal Union of Journalists (2011 and 2012), he has
defied the Taliban’s "directives".
when he refused to expel member journalists, branded by the Taliban as spies
working for VOA and Mashaal Radio, was unnerving. Covering Fata after 2002 was
akin to “reporting from a lake of crocodiles”.
of resident Taliban leaders sauntering into the Miramshah press club was not
unusual. On the other side, the Taliban don’t see journalists as neutral and
unbiased, having silenced quite a few for allegedly writing against them (Zaman
Mehsud was killed in November).
warning that “everyone will get their turn in this war, especially the slave
Pakistani media”, they have supposedly made hit-lists naming journalists.
Ali, from the Pakistan Press Foundation, ascribes the fall in the number of
journalists killed (two killed between May 2015 and May 2016) to the growing
self-censorship. In spite of the falling number of deaths, the threat level has
intensified, according to the CPJ.
have certainly not ended. Numbers fall into the same statistical range of the
past decade, some years are worse than others. Balochistan has emerged as a
danger spot, or at least the world has become more aware of its terrible
situation. Suspected perpetrators come from the same pool of malevolent actors.
The government either cannot or will not stop the problem, despite their
blandishments and concern. At the management level, the WhatsApp-based Editors
for Safety, is a good example of an indigenous initiative required,” Mr Dietz
December 2015, this initiative has a clear objective: an attack on an
individual media professional or organisation is an attack on the entire media.
threat to the media comes from informal government directives on dissemination
by Pemra under the code of conduct are a disguised form of the draconian ‘press
advices’, reminiscent of the Ayub era," said Ali. "The media has far
more experience to allow the government to interfere in coverage. The directive
to ‘act responsibly’ cannot be interpreted as asking for a blackout.”
been convictions to date for the murder of four journalists – Daniel Pearl,
Wali Khan Babar, Abdul Razzak Johra and Ayub Khattak. Last year, Rasool Dawar
stopped reporting on militancy and security issues after being detained and
interrogated on multiple occasions about his stories. He refused to disclose
"70% of what happened" to him, in February last year.
read ‘another journalist killed by unknown assailants’ if I tell you
everything,” he said. He’d been reporting from North Waziristan since 2007.
that journalists are increasingly becoming characters in their own stories is a
bad sign for media.
cold-blooded murders that shook the nation last week had no links with each
other. Yet those three separate incidents have something in common. A young
schoolgirl killed and her body burnt (there are also reports she was burnt
alive) in Abbottabad on the orders of a local jirga for helping her friend run
away from home; a political activist tortured to death in custody by Rangers in
Karachi; and a rights activist gunned down in the metropolis by an unknown
Ambreen was yet another victim killed in the name of honour; Aftab Ahmed is the
latest addition to the long list of custodial murders by the security agencies;
and Khurram Zaki is the newest casualty of what appears to be religiously
inspired militancy that he had dared to challenge. While the reasons behind
these gruesome acts are different, they manifest a culture of violence
perpetrated not only by groups and individuals but also by the security forces.
Most worrying, however, is the tolerance of and indifference towards such
certainly not the first or the last case of a girl being killed in the name of
honour. But the cruelty reported in the case of Ambreen is unheard of even in
this country where life comes cheap. She was dragged from her home, injected
with sedatives, strangled, her body tied up in a van and then burned. It was a
gruesome murder in which some of her family members were also believed to be
More than a
dozen people have been arrested in connection with the crime. But the most
important thing is what the administration does to prevent such brutality from
occurring again. There is not much to show for the government’s resolve to make
an example of the murderers.
agencies are not expected to resort to the same methods as criminals and
brutal was the death of Aftab Ahmed, an MQM activist in the custody of the
Rangers. The pictures of the dead man circulated on social media showed
terrible bruises and abrasions all over and toenails pulled out. It was hard
for any human to have survived such extreme brutality. He had already succumbed
to torture when he was brought to the hospital. After initial silence, Rangers
officials conceded that he had been tortured.
arrested a few weeks ago and was remanded in the Rangers custody for 90 days.
But over the past year, Karachi has seen tortured bodies being dumped in
desolate places after ‘disappearing’, a euphemism for being taken away by the
security and intelligence agencies. Many are still missing. There is a criminal
silence over those mutilated bodies.
It was hard
for the Rangers to refute the allegation of torture after Aftab Ahmed’s
post-mortem report. The chief of army staff has ordered an inquiry and those
involved in the interrogation have reportedly been suspended. But is this
enough? Could security personnel employ torture during interrogation without
the approval of their superior? The DG Rangers said that paramilitary personnel
had violated the rules. But it was not the only case of torture. What about the
mutilated bodies of ‘missing persons’? The responsibility lies at the top.
There is no
denying that the Rangers have done a great job in bringing some kind of
normality back to Karachi. But the extrajudicial killings and forced
disappearances mitigate the good work. Hundreds of people have been killed in
so-called encounters that include alleged TTP militants, members of the Lyari
gang war and MQM activists.
It may be
true that many of them were involved in crimes and terrorist activities. But
they must have some identity too. Why are the names of those killed in
encounters never made public along with their criminal records? Any deviation
from human rights that are enshrined in the country’s Constitution fuels
MQM, particularly its militant wing, has been involved in the violence that
turned Karachi into a killing field. But incidents like the custodial death of
Aftab Ahmed and the dumping of tortured bodies feed into the party’s victimhood
image. Law-enforcement agencies are not expected to resort to the same methods
as criminals and terrorists. The misuse of the sweeping powers given to the
security agencies under the National Action Plan could defeat their purpose.
These powers have been granted for fighting terrorists and lawbreakers, and not
for terrorising ordinary citizens.
the involvement of the intelligence agencies in political manipulation makes
the situation more complicated. Such tactics had failed in the past and
certainly cannot succeed in the future. Those involved in any criminal and
anti-state activities must be brought to justice.
killings and media trials do not provide a solution to the Karachi problem.
Such actions only strengthen the culture of violence and further shrink the
space for sane and moderate voices. One glaring example is the murder of rights
campaigner Khurram Zaki. He was gunned down at a restaurant where he was
sitting with his friends. A TTP faction reportedly claimed responsibility for
the murder as revenge for his campaign to have Maulana Aziz of Islamabad’s Lal
scholar, Khurram Zaki stood fast against militancy and sectarianism. For that
he paid with his blood. He was shot dead two weeks after the first death
anniversary of Sabeen Mahmud, another brave rights activist, and days after
Aftab Ahmed succumbed to the extreme torture inflicted on him while he was in
the Rangers’ custody.
surely no connection between the two deaths in the city. Nevertheless, it
raises the question as to how the extremists continue to operate in Karachi,
despite the claim that TTP cells in the city have been wiped out. No one has
been arrested so far for the murder of Khurram Zaki and perhaps the internal
investigation against the Rangers personnel involved in the torture of Aftab
Ahmed will never be made public.
deaths with no connection to each other are symptomatic of a society where the
rule of law is becoming extinct. There is little hope left when law enforcers
Zahid Hussain is an author and journalist.
IN a speech
marking Holocaust Remembrance Day last week, the Israeli army’s deputy chief
of staff offered his compatriots an uncomfortable reminder.
something that frightens me about Holocaust remembrance,” Maj-Gen Yair Golan
noted, “it’s the recognition of the revolting processes that occurred in Europe
in general, and particularly in Germany, back then — 70, 80 and 90 years ago —
and finding signs of them here among us today in 2016.”
He added: “There
is nothing easier than hating the stranger, nothing easier than to stir fears
and intimidate. There is nothing easier than to behave like an animal and to
act sanctimoniously.” Golan’s intervention stirred a predictable response in
Israel: there was some support for his words, but it was almost drowned out by
vituperative, and occasionally hysterical, condemnation. Inevitably, some have
demanded his dismissal.
that, drawing parallels between the European mindset that facilitated the
Holocaust and current trends in Israeli society is a somewhat less fraught
enterprise in Israel today than it is across much of Europe; more than one
commentator has noted, for instance, that had Golan been a member of the
British Labour Party, his comments would have warranted his immediate
growing support for right-wing extremism.
It is not
just Israel, though, that should be alert to the echoes of the 1920s-30s. The
political processes unfolding in Europe — a combination of economic despair and
a rising tide of xenophobia — ought to be ringing far more alarm bells than has
thus far been the case.
of profoundly worrying developments continued last month with the far-right
Austrian Freedom Party’s Norbert Hofer taking the lead in the first round of
his country’s presidential election. The sense of impending crisis was
exacerbated on Monday by the unexpected resignation of the country’s social
democratic chancellor, Werner Faymann.
Austria has hitherto elected only mainstream conservative or social democratic
presidents. For the first time, neither of those parties is in contention: on
May 22, Hofer faces a run-off against Alexander Van der Bellen, a former Green
running as an independent. The presidency is a largely ceremonial post, but
with potential political powers that Hofer has vowed to exercise.
meanwhile, the relatively new Alternative fur Deutschland party, which
demonstrated its growing popular appeal in three state elections in March, has
adopted an explicitly anti-Muslim platform. Its leader, Frauke Petry, has in
the past suggested that German border guards should be permitted to shoot
refugees. It is complemented by the Pegida movement, which tends to demonstrate
its power on the streets.
to perceive in these phenomena echoes of the Nazi past would require a
remarkable blindness to recent history. To their credit, plenty of Germans seem
to be well aware of this, and mobilisations by the far right frequently attract
counter-demonstrators in far larger numbers. That rarely occurs to the east of
Germany, however, and much of the greatest cause for alarm emanates from
nations where the extreme right is either already in power or thrives on state
administration of Viktor Orban in Hungary offers perhaps the worst instance of
neo-fascist tendencies, and it thrives on the support of the racist Jobbik
party, which won more than 20pc of the vote in the 2014 general election. Orban
shares the view of his Slovak counterpart, Robert Fico, Europe must defend its
“Christian heritage”. Fico is ostensibly a social democrat, but on crucial
issues his views coincide with those of Marian Kotleba, the leader of People’s
Party-Our Slovakia, who until recently paraded about in a Nazi-era uniform.
authoritarian tendencies are on the rise under the ruling Law and Justice
Party, whose leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, has accused refugees of bringing
“cholera to the Greek islands, dysentery to Vienna”. Similar rhetoric is
increasingly common throughout the continent.
to Russia, there is hardly a country in Europe that does not register growing
support for organised right-wing extremism, all too often with mainstream
conservative and social democratic parties — not least François Hollande’s
Socialists and hitherto progressive parties across Scandinavia — shamelessly
pandering to xenophobia and other deleterious tendencies.
massive refugee influx is obviously a key factor behind this trend, as are the
recent terrorist attacks in Brussels and Paris, not to mention the appalling
criminal assaults in Cologne on New Year’s Eve. Let’s not forget, though, that
extremist tendencies manifested themselves much earlier in 21st-century Europe:
the Austrian Freedom Party entered government as a coalition partner at the
turn of the century.
many of the far-right parties include distaste for the European Union in their
smorgasbord of pet hates, which feature the Roma people, Jews, Muslims and
especially Muslim refugees, no coherent response can be expected from Brussels.
Continued failure to learn from its history may well condemn Europe to
repeating it in the years ahead.
Process: Hostage to Haqqanis?
heads the independent Centre for Research and Security Studies, Islamabad and
is author of Pakistan: Pivot of Hizbut Tahrir’s Global Caliphate
the current official and private narratives out of Kabul, it is obvious that
the bilateral relationship as well as the Quadrilateral Coordination Group
(QCG) process is now practically hostage to the Afghan government’s
expectations of a direct Pakistani action against the Haqqani network, which
has emerged as the literal lynchpin of the al Qaeda-inspired Taliban insurgency.
A string of
events and statements clearly underscore this development. A public
announcement issued in the capital on May 10 stated: “Insurgents from the Haqqani
and Taliban networks are known to be planning attacks on the Afghan people” in
the northeast provinces of Parwan, Kabul, Logar , Khost, Paktia, Paktika
(greater Paktia region).
Taliban are currently being commanded by [the] Haqqani [network]. We believe
Haqqani and al Qaeda are two different names for the same terrorist
organisation,” Afghan interior ministry spokesman Sediq Seddiqi told reporters
in Kabul. He said Afghan security forces and military strategists are aware of
the terrorist threat and are dealing with all of them as common enemies of
Only a week
ago, officials in Kabul had blamed the Haqqani network for plotting a Taliban
bomb-and-gun attack on a facility linked to the Afghan intelligence agency NDS
that killed nearly 70 people and wounded 347 more. They said the militant group
is operating from Pakistan and has links to that country’s intelligence
apparatus. Almost simultaneously, officials at Nato’s Resolute Support mission
in Kabul, too, warned of the threats coming from the Haqqani network and dubbed
it as “the most lethal” and “most competent” terrorist organisation in the
Haqqani has been named the number two for the Taliban. And we think that he is
increasing his day-to-day role in terms of conducting Taliban military
operations,” US Army Brigadier General Charles Cleveland, deputy chief of staff
for communications for Nato’s Resolute Support mission said. “And we think that
he is trying to exert more influence really, on the leadership with some of
these shadow governors in some of these other places [in Afghanistan].
But he also
underscored concerns about the Haqqanis branching out from their traditional
area and then focuses on high-profile attacks like the one that killed nearly
70 people in Kabul last month. As of now, terrorist outfits in Afghanistan are
the prime target of Nato’s Resolute Support Mission, while the Afghan National
Security Forces are responsible for dealing with various brands of the Afghan
Taliban, including the Haqqanis.
this leave Pak-Afghan relations and does it really help the peace process? In
fact, the Afghan-US convergence on the Haqqanis as the most lethal and the
biggest threat jeopardises both. This convergence also feeds into India’s
storyline on Pakistan. Haqqanis are now to Afghan-US officials what
Lashkar-e-Taiba/Jamaat ud Dawa is to India. This convergence also further
limits Pakistan’s options and shrinks its leverage — whatever that means — with
the Afghan Taliban, although officials in Kabul consider it to be considerable.
This synergy of thought may redraw the US into combat mode as an unavoidable
consequence of its mission i.e., counter-terrorism.
Ambassador, a special envoy to Islamabad, Hazrat Omer Zakhilwal says the
situation may still not be lost; we need an open discussion on our mutual
grievances and need to look at potential benefits for both countries, rather
than harping on the negatives. An end to the state of denial as well as to the
mistreatment of Afghan visitors and refugees could be the first “baby-steps” to
reduce acrimony and mitigate mistrust. Zakhilwal wants Pakistan to disentangle
Afghanistan from its relations with India. According to him, Pakistan needs to
look at Afghanistan as a sovereign country not as an Indian proxy. He wouldn’t
concede that geopolitics does muddy bilateral/multilateral relations, creating
space for non-state actors. He insists that the India factor wouldn’t weigh
heavy on a constructive Pak-Afghan dialogue.
crucial step, Zakhilwal says, would be to take demonstrably credible actions
against the Haqqani Network, pretty much in line with the commitments Pakistan
gave as part of the QCG. Making the Pakistani counter-terror narrative credible
in Afghanistan would not be possible without hitting the Haqqanis’ social and
business interests here, the ambassador says.
wait for the Afghan or any other ambassador to tell us what is necessary to
correct Pakistan’s image abroad or repair relations with his country? Certainly
not. It, however, takes two to tango; regardless of what Afghan leaders say the
India-factor remains imposing in Kabul’s governance and security structures. It
drives apprehensions — however misplaced — in Islamabad. Alleviating those
apprehensions in a credible way would probably be the key to turn a leaf in
Mayor of Lahore
It is but
natural to feel happy when you see a woman or a man who shares your origin,
whether currently s/he is a citizen of your country or not, becoming successful
in any field of human endeavour anywhere in the world. You will be even more
delighted if s/he makes it to an elected political position.
elected is hugely significant because it demonstrates the trust of so many
others in your ability and potential. It is not a simple feat to get hundreds
of thousands of votes from people who are not known to you personally.
Therefore, Pakistanis feeling elated on Sadiq Khan becoming the mayor of the
city of London – one of the most important cities in the world in all respects
– is both natural and understandable.
what I find ironic is that many of those jumping with joy in Pakistan while
celebrating Khan’s win in London will not, for a single moment, lament the
gruesome fact that something similar can never happen in Pakistan in the
was born to a working class family, his father being a bus driver and mother a
seamstress. Of course, working people in the UK are much better off than the
working people in Khan’s ancestral country. That must have been the reason his
parents left Karachi sometime around 1970 and settled down in London. But they
remained a part of the lower echelons of British society in terms of their
access to riches when Khan and his siblings were growing up.
the British welfare state and Sadiq Khan’s personal merit both helped make him
a successful lawyer and popular politician. He has climbed up the economic
ladder over the years but certainly comes from a working-class background and
is a South Asian Muslim meaning that he belongs to both an ethnic and religious
minority in the UK. He is neither from a Christian denomination nor of a
European or White Caucasian origin.
Let us look
at the working class and the downtrodden in Pakistan. They had little chance at
the time when Sadiq was born and they have little chance for changing their
fate even now. Exceptions are there to prove the rule, although few and far
The son of
a peasant remains a peasant, the daughter of domestic help will become domestic
help, the children of a janitor will start cleaning toilets and mopping floors
even before their limbs are fully formed, the son of a bus driver will start as
a conductor and then graduate to becoming a driver like his father, and the
daughter of a beggar on the street will either continue to be a beggar or turn
into a cheaply available commercial sex worker.
know what Sadiq Khan’s parents did for a living when in Karachi. But if his
father had been a rickshaw or bus driver in Karachi or Lahore – an honest,
upright man who would earn his living with pride in his hard work – and his
wife had been a seamstress, would Sadiq Khan, or any of his siblings, have had
a chance to become the mayor of their city?
the working people of Pakistan, who find it hard to make their ends meet, spend
a large part of their income on school fee and related expenses for their
children. But the schools they can afford to send their children to, both
public and private, offer extremely low quality education. Almost half of the
children of school-going age in Pakistan are out of school anyway.
where the basic healthcare programmes are not seen as the responsibility of the
state by many, provides free public education for its children. In Pakistan,
whatever the rhetoric we hear from powers that be, education is not a priority.
Without access to quality education for all, the classist and caste-ist
Pakistani society will continue to marginalise its working and lower income
him being a Pakistani, many people around me are rejoicing the fact that Sadiq
Khan is a Muslim. Well, to an extent, that is natural too. Muslims around the
world have been at the receiving end for a long time now due to a combination
of reasons, including the desire of the rich Western nations to exploit their
resources as well as the imposition of wars on lands where they are in a
majority or for their own obscurantism, irrationality, ignorance and disregard
for human rights – irrespective of whether they are the majority or minority
context, when you see a Muslim woman or a man rising to prominence in a largely
non-Muslim society you feel like have received some respite from the happenings
around you. But then you find those in Pakistan predicting that Muslims will
eventually dominate the secular societies of the world as if it is preordained
and there has been some divine intervention. What a paradox!
Muslims can come to the top in Britain or other countries in the world where
they are in a minority because of the very presence of a secular polity and
plural society in these countries. I find it terribly strange that people in
Pakistan do not want Donald Trump to win elections in the US but would support
a right-wing political party in Pakistan. Or they support Sadiq Khan and Jeremy
Corbyn of the Labour Party when in London but Aleem Khan and Imran Khan of the
PTI when in Lahore.
There is an
aside here. Imran Khan publicly supported his friend and former brother-in-law
Zak Goldsmith in his campaign for mayoral election against Sadiq Khan.
Goldsmith went all out to declare his opponent an extremist and a terror
sympathiser, to the extent that even his own party comrades objected to the
nastiness of his campaign. That furthers the irony for Pakistanis as here is
someone claiming to transform Pakistan, a self-proclaimed messiah, supporting a
right-wing, conservative candidate in London simply because he is a friend or a
Pakistani Muslims who are happy for Sadiq Khan being a Muslim may also think
about how a comparable situation in Pakistan would look like. The news about
that situation will read: “Inayat Masih, 45, a human rights lawyer who was
first elected as MNA from NA 125 beating both Ayaz Sadiq and Imran Khan in
2018, wins the election for the mayor of Lahore in 2020. He will immediately
resign his National Assembly seat where a by-election will be held within two
Masih’s father, Barkat Masih, was a rickshaw driver in Lahore who grew up in
Badami Bagh and his mother, Venus Masih, was a seamstress who grew up in
Mariamabad, district Sheikhupura. Inayat Masih went to a government boys’
school in Kot Lakhpat, Forman Christian College and Punjab University Law
College. He taught law at his alma mater for a few years before receiving a
scholarship from the Higher Education Commission for a post-graduate degree
from the UK. He came back to Pakistan and practised both corporate and human
rights law besides actively pursuing community work and political campaigning.
thanked the citizens of Lahore for posing their trust in his person and
politics by electing him to the coveted office of the Mayor of Lahore. He says
he will continue to serve all communities and turn Lahore into a women-friendly
Will we be
ready to elect Inayat Masih on a general seat for the National Assembly in 2018
and then elect him in 2020 as the mayor of the city he grew up in?
Harris Khalique is a poet and author based in