How Ahmadis are braving the educational apartheid

It was a relatively cool evening in Rabwah, a few days ago. I was there on an invitation to attend an enthralling seminar on “The shroud of Turin”, held in a state of the art Auditorium of Nusrat Jehan College for girls.


My host was the exuberant Faateh Bajwa, deputy director of Ahmadiya community’s central education Department, referred to as Nazarat Taleem.

After the seminar I was shown around, and I must confess I was dumbstruck by the sprawling campus, fully furbished canteens, quality of facilities and the dedication of somewhat fledgling but highly motivated staff at the college.

   
Nusrat Jehan means “universal victory”. Probably, it is the name of the college that has been talismanic in helping it achieve success against all odds.
As Ahmadiya community’s flagship institute, Nusrat Jehan college in Rabwah, not only caters to girls but a separate boys campus goes by the same name as well.

For a boys college to borrow its name from a woman is unprecedented in a country where male chauvinism and patriarchy have been a norm. 

 

  

Associated with  education sector myself, I took keen interest in visiting various institutes operating under the auspices of Nazarat Taleem

Out of their 13 non-profit schools in the town, boasting a strength of over 9,000 students, the one that moved me was the Institute for special education, a school for kids with special needs.

The facility was small,  but the teaching staff had big hearts and broad smiles on their faces. 

Currently 95 Students with Celebral palsey, Epilsepsy, Physcial handicap, Intellectual and hearing impairment and  Down’s syndrome are given quality treatment regardless of caste, creed or religious. 

  

As I entered, I noticed that most of the students were going outside for their routine sporting activities. The dedicated principal, Amtul jameel sahiba, was optimistic that one day her kids would partake in Special Olympics even though no official from Pakistan’s Special Olympics committee had bothered to visit the institute, despite her regular insistence.

  

  
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to chilling indifference towards Ahmadis, as indicated by the  tumultuous history.

The biggest jolt Ahmadiyya community faced in terms of education was the policy of nationalization of private institutions enforced under Zulfiqar ali bhutto’s regime in 1970’s.

Post Bhutto’s era, all educational institutions that were nationalized were acquired back by the real owners barring the Ahmadiyya community. Till date, the community is striving unsuccessfully to reclaim the three educational institutes that were nationalized. The famous of the lot was Taleem ul Islam (TI) college, Rabwah.


The close affinity of most Ahmadis with TI college, Rabwah can be gauged by the fact that either them or their acquinatances have been associated with the once coveted insititute  in one way or the other.

A few residents also highlighted the enviable debating culture at TI colllege that even gave Government college Lahore a run for its money during its heydays.

That robust culture died a long time back, when the institution was nationalized by the state.

 Fearing persecution under the draconian regime of Zia, who succeeded Bhutto, the community members kept their lips mum.

Putting it plainly, an educational apartheid was carried out, where the state chose populism over principles by usurping educational institutes run by the peaceful minority to assuage the Mullahs.

With their backs against the wall, top leadership of the community sat down to devise a cogent program to safeguard the future of Ahmadi students in adverse circumstances. In 1991, the intial  fruit of their serious deliberation was reaped in the form of Nusrat Jehan academy, a school that caters to both boys and girls on separate campuses. 

Ever since the scheme’s inception there has been multiplicity of facilities, institutions and ideas despite limited resources. 

The pivotal aspect of this model is that it breathes the essence of volunteerism and community work. It embraces with open arms dedicated educationists from all over Pakistan who are willing to chip in with their valuable contributions.

Most Ahmadis working in Nazarat taleem are volunteers. Some have even left lucrative jobs at blue chip companies like ICI and Telenor to work in the remote town of Punjab. Mirza Fazal Ahmad, the director of the department and a Charter Accountant by academic qualification, is no exception. He is investing all his energies and resources in building the system into a sustainable one.

It was inspirational to see that low wages and limited resources have not let their shoulders droop; in fact the positive vibes have been permeative and contagious.

Nazarat Taleem’s  financial aid office operates on no-discrimination policy as well. On the list of those drawing stipends is a non-Ahmadi Baloch boy, who belongs to Ahl-e-Hadis sect. Once he contacted the relevent office for help, the department obliged by funding his undergraduate degree on humanitarian grounds.

It  is even more remarkable that all funds are self generated within the community and not a single penny is provided by the government.

Such a sustainable educational model evolved by the community, is quite a rarity in a country which is grappling with educational woes with over 25 million children out of school according to a latest survey by Alif Ailan.

Perhaps Agha khan community is the only other minority in the country that has lead by example on this account. But unlike the Agha Khanis, Ahmadis had to deal with acrimonious circumstances on a consistent basis. 


The 2010 terrorist attacks on two Ahmadi Mosques ampilified the already prevelant  anti Ahmadi sentiments on campuses, a few notches. 

Then In year 2011, a new stipulation required all Ahmadi students appearing for Punjab board exam to identify them as “non Muslims”. It was an unwanton clause that added insult to injury.

At that crucial juncture, Nazarat Taleem took a leap of faith and switched their student body to the Agha khan Board instead.

With Time, the decision proved to be a blessing in disguise. As the cutting edge Agha khan board curriculum had more to offer compared to Punjab board syllabus. 

Under proper guidance and mentorship, numerous Ahmadi students around the country secure Top positions in board and university exams on a continous basis and Nazarat Taleem magnanimously recognize all high achievers.

  
With Success as its hallmark, Nazarat taleem has been instrumental in facilitating bright Ahmadi students into prestigious institutes like LUMS and IBA on full scholarship under the merit based national outreach program evey year.

But the stories of glaring injustices in our educational landscape seem to be present in every Ahmadi household. 

Faateh shared that his own sister, along with other Ahmadi students, was rusticated from the Punjab medical college Faisalabad in 2012 merely on the account of being an Ahmadi . It all happened in broad day light and sadly no action was taken.


Nazarat Taleem’s placement centre came to their rescue and helped them secure berths in various universities across the globe and around Pakistan, where on campus atmosphere was not hostile.  

 As I reached the fag end of my two days sojourn, I was given another gracious invitation of an international medical conference to be held later this year.

Despite my non medical background, I gleefully  accepted it when the benevolent purpose of the conference was ennunciated upon me.

Two years ago when doctor Mahdi Ali, a US based Ahmadi cardiologist and an important member of Tahir Heart Hospital, was cold bloodedly murdered in Rabwah, Nazarat Taleem bounced back and filled his void by initiating an international medical conference, where doctors especially cardiologists from all over the world participated with great oomph.

    
With the second installment of the international medical conference around the corner and Doctor Abdus Salam research forum operating in full pelt, the future looks bright but the consequences of educational apartheid carried out by the state in the past and at present is what perturbs the beleagured minority.

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Confronting Wrong numbers?

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It was New Year eve a friend had come over from Islamabad, after high tea we decided to hit the cinema just to kill time before he left for home.

Three hours later i had this perturbing question hovering over my mind:
“Are we brave enough to tackle wrong numbers? ”

Taking a cue out of the awe aspiring didactic bollywood Blockbuster PK that puts superstition harboring God-men to the sword; i am pin pointing to the mullahs spewing hate on tv in Pakistan. The vitriol injected by Amir Liaqat Hussain and his toady clerics in a private tv show virtually snowballed into the murder of an Ahmadi in Gujranwala the very next day, but i reckon that’s business as usual for it was conveniently put under the mat.

I need to clear the air before crossing the thin red line that neither am i an Islam bashing ultra liberal nor a pseudo secular in search of limelight or a raw agent with nefarious agenda up my sleeves.

Recently Civil society showed maturity and chutzpah by protesting against maulana Abdul Aziz outside the red mosque in the wake of the grisly Peshawar attack, though some thought it was an ephemeral catharsis on part of a few bold people who took to the streets in the Capital. I believe the short lived demonstration created a few ripples in status quo where fighting against the religious cult is an exercise in futility as unfortunately social media (which has a limited scope) seems to be the only battle turf to tackle the religious fascists.

Take the case of the christian couple that was cold-bloodedly thrown in the kiln in bright daylight on false allegation of blasphemy by a bunch of demented maniacs but despite all the clamour on social media the ailing justice system has yet again disappointed by resorting to delaying tactics before giving a verdict over a case that is as clear as a may’s morning.

I hope that peshawar attack becomes the water shed moment. Though paradoxically 43 years ago the same day (16th december) should been the critical juncture for us to come of age as a nation when the country was dismembered, rather we went back a few steps attributing to the pyrotechnics and shenanigans of Mr. Bhutto and Zia, which are now of part of history books to take heed. Eventually in 1997 Nawaz Sharif government hit the last nail in coffin by recognising the Taliban government in Afghanistan.

Though Musharaff and general Kiyani coped their share of flak for not curbing the dirty game of good cop and bad cop played with talibans under their noses in post 911 Pakistan, yet I would laud Perveiz Musharaff for taking pivotal decision regarding operation silence on the red mosque which quizzically backfired.

I reckon it backfired because we ‘the awaam’ badly miscalculated the ambitions of the operation that was meant to quell the fundamentalists, who had taken refuge inside, without desecrating the sanctity of Mosque or islamic values.

I vividly remember during the days of operation silence i was staying in hostel of Pakistan’s premier business school pursuing my MBA degree, with the so called liberal student body. Witnessing live telecast of operation in the hostel’s lounge it was manifested by the reaction of some of my mates that religious jingoism had got the better of national interests as many questioned the morality of the operation on a mosque, without delving into the crux of the matter.

Rationally scrutinised, It is evident that the fundos inside abducted ladies on account of debauchery and misdeeds, i wonder what yardstick or divine authority they had to punish someone on basis of morality? maybe Zia Ul Haq’s ghost had permitted them, i can’t fathom. Just to set the record straight they even used burqa clad women as shields and failed to relent even on the intervention of imam of Kaba, who flew all the way from mecca.

Peshawar incident is an eye opener. Its high time that those who still believe that Malala is a CIA backed educational drone or a jewish conspiracy and the attack on her was a set up should put their malices to rest now.

#Neverforget hash tag would only embelish our twitter profiles if we do not translate it into a meaningful movement on grass root level and become bold enough to call spade a spade and understand the true teachings of islam ourselves rather than permitting the mullahs to set the religious doctrine and carve a narrative for our coming generation to follow.

Before it is too late let’s awaken the PK inside us( that is so alien to the prevailing narrative in the country) and start questioning the authority of hate-mongering religious bigots having wrong numbers.

Saudi Arabia: No country for Pakistani brides

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Here is Express tribune’s link: 

http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/23544/saudi-arabia-no-country-for-pakistani-brides/

The untoward behaviour from the Saudi government of reportedly laying off 30,000 illegal Pakistani workers hit yet another ebb when Saudi men were recently banned from bringing brides from four nationalities including Pakistan that is amongst the relegated list. Other countries languishing in this ill-famed category are Bangladesh, Burma and Chad.

A cursory glance at the names of aforementioned countries makes me wonder how insignificant Pakistan has become in the greater scheme of things. It reduces Information Minister Pervez Rasheed’s recent claim, during a conference held to discuss Gaza, about Pakistan being the world’s sixth largest force to reckon with to a mere farce.

Revisiting the historical context of the phenomenon of (sham) brotherhood between the two Islamic states unravels the indifference dished out by Saudis towards Pakistanis in general.

During the petro-dollar era of the 70s, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto banked on the Saudis to pave the way to a new Islamic block. His shenanigans of playing the religion card to catapult himself as the new leader of the Muslim Ummah at the second OIC conference in Lahore was hailed by many myopic observers as a game changing move by the hitherto secular leader.

In the course of four decades, Pakistan has witnessed chickens coming home to roost; starting from the Saudis backed jihad in Afghanistan that engendered militancy in the country to the current discriminatory policies on part of their government against Pakistanis.

The jaw-dropping aid of $1.5 billion must not be misconstrued as a mere generosity of the oil rich state. In fact, it is a bait to pitch Pakistan in the epicentre of the conflict zone considering the footprints of Saudi Arabia in retailing the war in Syria recently.

The new edict that bars Saudi citizen to betroth a Pakistani lassie seems like a belated Eid greeting from the Saudi monarchy to Mian Nawaz Sharif, who visited the kingdom during the last 10 days of Ramazan but did not mutter a word on bilateral relationships or confidence building measure between the two Muslim countries.

I can vouch for it with full aplomb that had the law been passed by any non-Muslim country from the Western world, the uproar against the respective nation would have been significant in terms of maligning its laws, religion and cultural norms. The possibility of severing all ties with that particular country wouldn’t have been written off either; whereas big daddy went unscathed.

Obsessed with unconditional love for the Saudis, Pakistanis fail to realise that the regressive regime in Saudi Arabia has pigeon-holed women on a number of accounts. The prohibition of women drivers in Saudi is a strong case of discrimination against women by making them dependant on the male species.

Similarly, there was an uproar in the Saudi media after a female TV anchor became the first woman ever to read the news without a veil, which was against the Islamic norms of the country. In stark contrast, the new rule imposed against women of four nationalities is a glaring denial of Islamic teachings as Islam doesn’t restrict marriages within particular regions, tribes or states.

In the light of changing political kaleidoscope, Pakistanis shouldn’t pin high hopes with the Saudi royal family – they are busy grinding their own axe and safeguarding their personal interests ever since assuming power in 1932, when they changed the name of Hejaz and associate dominions to eponymous Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

5 Culpable parties in #Gujranwala Killings

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“Hate is a baggage. Life is too short to be pissed all the time. It’s not just worth it”, are the words of Danny Vinyard, the protagonist in my all time favorite Hollywood flick,American history X

I reckon his words are the most suitable antidote needed at this critical juncture by our society that has been defaced with another scar in the form of Gujranwala killings.  

The miscreants torching houses of the vulnerable Ahmadi minority at the culmination of the Holy month of Ramadan added to the ignominy of the shameful act. An inside source cleared the air that the accused was framed, a commonplace with minorites in Pakistan, since his facebook account was hacked before he was charged of posting an offensive image on the social networking website. 

Post Gujranwala incident, I have identified five culpable parties whose indifference towards humanity is startling:

1). The Mob (mentality)

This is the most dangerous of the lot as they comes in various shapes and forms. They are well verse at wielding sticks, totting guns and pyrotechnics. They claim that they ostensibly retaliate in the name of the God, yet their goal is to incite hate.

 At times they afflict pain by being physical on other ocassions they prefer to remain silent. Wondering how?

When Farzana Parveen was stoned to death in broad daylight this mob watched orgasmically until the poor lass breathed her last. Whereas in cases of Badami Bagh tragedy, Gojra massacre, Youtube protest and recently Gujranwala arson they excercised their physical prowess.

Another bizzare routine in their modus operandi is looting. They executed it with utter impunity, after setting houses,belonging to the Ahmadis, on fire. 

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2). Inept criminal justice system: 

With human rights violation galore, the criminal justice system in the Islamic republic of Pakistan has failed miserable and as it seems, the price tag on life depends on a person’s religious affiliation — a pity to say the least.

Every passing day our flawed judicial system strengthens the radical element by bowing in front of his tyranny. In case of Gujranwala incident it has hardly taken notice.

No matter how debatable or confusing the intricacies of blasphemy law are but it is clear as a May morning that only state has the right to exercise the law. The Gujranwala incident would be the umpteenth time when judiciary and the state machinery have failed to deliver.

If past precedence of this skewed system is anything to go by then Hijratullah, the culprit in Manawa incident is a prime example. He was sentenced to 7 years later Judges ruled him innocent.

Same hold true in the case of Rimsha Masih, where witnesses changed their testimony during the course of legal proceeding against Khalid Chishti, who was charged with wrongly framing Rimsha of blasphemy. As a result the culprit went scot-free.

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Rashid Rehman case is no different. While representing blasphemy accused lecturer, Junaid Hafeez, he was threatened by his counterpart in the court of law but the system was unmoved. He was eventually shot in point blank range by the supposed custodians of the Ummah. 

I reckon the recently promulgated Pakistan Protection act 2014 has pushed the envelope a few notches. With bizarre clauses suggesting that “an accused is guilty until proven innocent“, could well sound like death rattle for the vulnerable minorities, if misused. 

A commission being formed to investigate the murder of innocent Hira, Kainat and Bashiran in Gujranwala incident seems a remote possibility as well.

3). Chief minister Punjab and his toadies:

Being a direct stakeholder, Khadim e Ala could not muster courage to publicly condemn the killings.Usually hands on, both CM and his toadies including Khurram Dastagheer, MNA from Gujranwala, (despite being contacted by the jamat ahmadiya spokesperson) kept their lips mummed over the unfortunate incident, that consumed the lives of two children and a pregnant lady.

On the contrary, a few days later the news about the electrocution of 3 minors in the same city, prompted Shahbaz Sharif to take notice and order investigation resulting in fastidious suspension of a myriads of rank and file GEPCO officials. (Link attached)

One must not forget that Shahbaz sharif was the incumbent in Punjab when Salman Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti and Raza Rumi were attacked. When household names can’t find peace under his leadership, I wonder how a vulnerable minority can wish for it.

4). Electronic media 

This medium is all encompassing, has a larger reach and illiteracy is not a barrier in its viewership, but on the issues of Ahmadis, it is coy and timid like politicians of our country.

Barring Jibran Nasir who had the chutzpah to break the silence through his show, Izhar, rest of the media was busy playing to the galleries.

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At most, state television PTV drew a hazy picture of the incident by letting the audience know that there was a rift between two groups that led to the incineration. Hardly any media outlet pointed out at the fact that fire brigades were forced to go back by the angry mob when they arrived at the scene. Like previous incidents pertaining to this minority group, facts were twisted to get it over with.

Similarly the unfortunate incident of 28th May 2010 in which more than 90 Ahmadis lost their lives failed to get ample air time as it was treated as a petty lapse on the part of law enforcement agencies.

5). Unpatriotic Gaza sympathizers

They update status in favor of the oppressed Palestinians but they find it difficult to share a tweet highlighting the plight of minorities rotting in their own backyard. They must understand that charity begins from home.

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The Zionist oppression against Palestinians is as condemnable as the act of hooligans lighting houses of Pakistanis on fire. Shouting hoarse over the plight of Palestinians in Gaza while caring less about the miseries of their compatriots manifests their indifference towards their homeland. Their bigotry is unexplainable and their nationalism questionable.

All hate mongers must realize that it is not about who is right or wrong? The issue is whether you have the conscience to raise voice over the tyrannical act or are you simply numb. 

As for Danny Vinyard, he gets shot by a random fanatic in the end. 

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GET YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER, IF YOU ARE SINCERE WITH PALESTINIANS!

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Post Israeli blitzkrieg in Gaza, I feel heart rending pain and anguish seeing the Palestinian public helpless in front of barbaric aggression.

This time round though I have resorted to introspection in order to find solutions as opposed to the religious scholars and leaders across Muslim world who have aimlessly gone all guns blazing against Jews and jumped on the band wagon to annihilate the oppressor through public rhetoric rather than getting their houses in order first.

Praying and supplicating to God to alleviate Palestinian brethren miseries, my soul searching endeavour has exposed the failure of Muslim Ummah in finding logical remedies to the recurrent crisis.

Introspection phase 1:   How helpful is the boycotting gimmick?

For starters, I am weary of conspiracy theory mongers who have given a farcical dimension to the crisis by luring indiscreet public to boycott products carrying the barcode 7 29. I reckon it is probably an attempt on their part to cleanse Muslims from sins during the holy month of Ramadan.

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Throwing spanner in the work, how about boycotting Google and Facebook (both Jewish owned)?

I guess I would get an overwhelming “NAY” as an answer,since both Google & Facebook are part and parcel of our routine lives.

Boycott seems a valid option where perhaps the protesting entity is a cohesive unit and not a disparate crowd as in the case of Muslims today.

When the blacks boycotted public bus service in 1955 for 381 days in Montgomery after Rosa parks incident, not only did it hurt the revenue stream of the transportation company but the civil rights movement also gathered impetus from there on in. I attribute that success to the sincere focus of black people to end segregation in the US.

On previous occasions, Muslims remonstrating against Facebook or boycotting Danish products has lead to a zero sum game — attributing to the misplaced priorities of the Muslim fraternity in resolving issues.

Introspection phase 2:   Are all Muslim countries tolerant?

A cursory look at recent past and current state of affairs in Muslim countries shows that they have blood on their hands.

It is commonplace in Pakistan for the radical mindsets to brazenly condemn Shiites and Ahmadis to death, while keeping mum when a Hindu girl is forced to convert.

Similarly, Malaysian court has barred Christians from using the word “Allah”, making it look as if Muslims in the country have patented that word. Even Somalia has passed a bizarre law, where converting to another faith from Islam is a crime punishable by death.

The Bangladeshi government  for that matter has banned the Rohingya refugees from their fundamental right of getting married whereas paradoxically they shout hoarse in condemning the ongoing Rohingya genocide in Burma, next door.

From the perennial persecution of Bahai and  Copt Christian minorities in Iran and Egypt respectively to the terror activities of radical Islamic groups like Alqaeda or Boko Haram, there is ample food for thought for all Muslim pacifists.

Moving on to the holier than thou Saudis, who are busy retailing yet another genocide with their accomplice by funding the war in Syria and unleashing the notorious ISIS in the Levant, after successfully orchestrating the Iran Iraq war, decades ago.

Allow me to say that an Israeli may argue that he has as much right to push for a separate state being the top dog, as Saudi family had in changing the name of country Hijaz to their tribe’s name, ascribing to their rise to power in 1930’s.

Hats off to Saudi royal family’s hypocrisy!

With the baggage of human rights violations, injustice and intolerance in tow, the million dollar question is whether Islamic countries be able to fight the cause of suppressed Palestinian brethren for sustainable peace in the region?

The plain answer is no.

Introspection phase 3:   Will retaliation resolve problems?

Being the underdogs, Muslims nations must realize that retaliation will not simmer down the aggression. As hate only be-gets hate.

I reckon, the current aggravating crisis in Gaza would only fuel racial profiling by creating more fissures between Muslims and Jewish people, without us realizing that that it is not the people but the oppressive Israeli regime that is the sole culprit.

As recently in Tel Aviv, Jewish people carried out  protest rallies against their own government’s trigger happy attitude towards Gaza.

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Further alienation could have serious ramifications that could lead people into being hoaxed by the phony jihad campaign launched by the ISIS. Falling bait to which would take the world on the brink of catastrophe.

Introspection phase 4:   Has Muslim Ummah utilized international diplomatic forums?

The following image from a recent gathering in Jeddah held to discuss Gaza crisis, paints a picture of indifference and misplaced priorities of Muslim fraternity at the current point in time.

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To better analyse past performances, in hindsight we find only one figure in the Muslim Ummah in the form of  Sir Chaudhry Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, who stood tall for the Palestinian cause. Many international observers maintain that his speech at the UN security council on the Palestine issue on 7th October,1947 was the most vociferous case in favour of Palestine till date. The Statesman, Delhi editorially paid homage to his unrelenting service to the cause:

“For the first time the voice of Pakistan was heard in the counsels of the United Nations on a burning topic of world-wide significance when leader of this country’s delegation, Chaudhry Zafarullah Khan, addressed the United Nations Palestine Committee at Lake Success on Tuesday. It was a telling speech which tore into shreds the specious pleas put forward by the advocates of the partition of Palestine. Chaudhry Zafarullah did not merely indulge in rhetoric when he described the partition plan as `physically and geographically a monstrosity’, he proceeded to prove this by unassailable arguments. Answering the contention that the migration of more Jews into Palestine should be permitted because the Jewish displaced persons desired to go to that country, Pakistan’s spokesman asked whether the Americans would consent to relax or abrogate their own immigration laws if displaced persons of various other nationalities desired to enter the United States and settle there? Would America, he further asked, agree to take in the five million displaced persons of the Punjab if they desired to leave the scene of their suffering and cross over to the United States. We have little doubt that the Arabs will rejoice to find the voice of Pakistan so powerfully raised in the United Nations in defence of their cause. The addition of the independent sovereign state of Pakistan to the comity of free Muslim peoples of the World is already beginning to have its effect on international affairs,” 

Furthermore King Faisal Al Saud of Saudi Arabia also appreciated Sir Zafarullah Khan’s effort for the Palestinian cause in his letter to the satalwart.

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Despite being the lone ranger, Sir Zafarullah Khan’s struggle for the Palestinian was cut short when his home country Pakistan disowned him for his religious affiliation as an Ahmadi – which sums up the vested interests and myopic vision prevalent amidst the Muslim world.

THE WAY FORWARD:    

                     1.   BETTER ADVOCACY

The only way forward for the Muslim Ummah is to leverage international diplomatic and peace forums through better advocacy.

I reckon the OIC forum should be utilized by all Muslim nations to come on the same wavelength and bridge gaps between each other. It can be achieved by framing a charter of tolerance, peace and justice in all Muslim countries across the broad spectrum.

At the United Nations, Muslim fraternity should try to find a powerful voice to raise their grievances to the international world. The paradigm of bold and influential personality like Sir Chaudhry Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, who fought tooth and nail for their rights should be emulated. 

Shouting expletives and heaping anathema upon the barbaric Israeli regime would not resolve issues as it has never done before, only dialogue and discourse would help develop a constructive narrative for long term and sustainable peace in Palestine.

                   2.  COEXISTENCE

There is a dire need of an invigorated PR campaign that could help Muslims rebuild their image in order to lobby effectively with countries holding sway in deciding the fate of Palestinians on international peace forums.

The Holy Koran has set the basis of the best public relations campaign for all nations across the broad spectrum and that is called “coexistence”, an ingredient missing in most Muslims nations at the current point in time. The Koran says:

There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion”    (Sura Baqra Verse 256)

Even a closer look at the life of Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h), makes us realise how he championed the art of coexistence when he allowed a Christian tribe from Najran, that had come to meet him, to offer their prayer in the Nabwi mosque.

We must realise that today Muslims stand divided, which has led the oppressor to kill innocent children in Palestine with utter impunity. Following Islamic values and scruples, Muslim ummah can help find peaceful solutions to the Palestinian issue.

The current crisis is a wake up call for all Muslims nations that they immediately end trust deficit by fostering attributes like tolerance, harmony and coexistence to pave a way for a brighter future for the Palestinian generations to come or else it will be too late.

I am Rashid Rehman, Are You?

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This was the tweet of Raza Rumi after two gunmen barged into the office of Rashid Rehman, Junaid Hafeez’s attorney and shot him at point blank range!

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Raza Rumi is naturally gutted, having left Pakistan on account of insecurity. He can feel the pinch, as he himself fortuitously escaped an attack carried out by demented personnel of the same mentality.

A bit of background of the deceased who laid his life advocating equal human rights for all.

Rehman had the courage to take up the case of Junaid Hafeez, a visiting proffessor of english literature at Bahahudin Zikkariya university, who was rotting in jail for the last few months for allegedly using blasphemous remarks on facebook by the right winged Jamiat student Union at BZU. As with such cases he was unfortunate to hire an attorney since no one was willing to fight his case.

In the very first hearing (which strangely took place inside the prison, most probably due to sensitivity of the case) Rashid Rehman received death threats from the plaintiff’s attorney in front of the Judge. Rashid officially lodged a grievance about the insecurity he felt post such threats but to no avail.

Rashid Rehman, a seasoned human rights advocate, would not have pursued the case if he had known that there was substantial proof against the defendant.

Once again the million dollar question that where is the cogent proof? begs its answer since the unfortunate incidents of Asia Bibi and Rimsha Masih just to name a few.

I guess the rule of thumb in Pakistan suggests that in cases of blasphemy proof doesnot matter, only hearsay is enough to smear or convict some one. Take the example of un wanton arson and looting of valuables in Farooqi Girls High School on alleged charges of blasphemy on the owners. How convenient?

The net result is that the toll taken by innocent people dragged into blasphemy cases is rising with every passing incident. Today Pakistan is a country with the highest number of people on death row or doing time for committing blasphemy.

On the contrary the proof of harassment and death threats received to Rashid Rehman can somewhat be deduced from the following statements:

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The tragedy in this case is that the murder of a Relentless human rights activists could not garner much attention or airtime on electronic media. May be as a nation we are either pusillanimous or just indifferent. All we get from media is the trivial debate over non issues and politicians jockeying for power.

Every time an unfortunate incident of such nature befalls, the liberal optimists fill social media space by heaping anathema over dictator Zia Ul Haq for reinforcing the law; thinking it would suffice in spurring change but the inaction on part of all pillars of state, fails to break the stalemate. At times such sensitive situations even exacerbate matters a few notches.

I can recall Salman Taseer being shot by the delirious Mumatz Qadri; years later we see a mosque being named after the killer. To boot, there is a library in Pakistan that is named after the Infamous Osama Bin Laden. Wow, we are making some progress.

I for one find uncanny similarity between Rashid Rehman and Shahid Azmi, an indian advocate who got shot in the similar fashion. both to me were epitomes of courage, valour and change.

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I am Rashid Rehman, as i reckon i am as insecure as he was in a free country. If the current narrative prevails then i fear that every child born in the country would call himself Rashid Rehman. The only positive assumption in my argument is that i wish no child is born as the one who took the life of the innocent advocate.

As i ardently believe that ‘killing an innocent person is the gravest form of blasphemy’.

RIP rule of law!!

Honouring Zafarullah !

20130902-020754.jpg Try asking the apolitical youth of pakistan about Iftakhar Muhammad Chaudhry, and even they will connect with the man, through the lawyer’s movement. where as not many could relate to Sir Chaudhry Muhammad Zafarullah khan, the former President of the International court of justice, who rendered a great service to Pakistan in particular and the Muslim world in general.

Zafarullah khan’s name is buried in the lowest abyss of pakistan’s historical archives just like many unsung heroes of the past. It is a pity that subcontinent’s smartest legal mind is hardly acknowledged for his efforts, leave alone being remembered on his death anniversary, which happens to be on the 1st of September.

To a large extent, this bizarre indifference has got to do with his religious affiliation as an Ahmadi. Zafarullah, the Jurist with a Midas touch, had an illustrious career worth sharing. Considered destiny’s child he was born in a small town of Daska. His mother dreamt of him becoming the chief justice one day. Zafarullah commemorated the unrelenting faith of his mother posthumously in his book titled ‘ Meri Walda’ (my mother).

Recounting his prodigious academic achievements would be difficult. Rather it would suffice that he studied at Government College Lahore under the tutelage of Allama Iqbal, only to be called to the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn after completing his Law degree with distinction from the King’s college London.

Lincoln’s inn was not zafarullah’s only affiliation with Muhammad Ali Jinnah, as it is clearly evident from history that he was a close aide of Quaid e Azam and had his approval on most instances. He first rubbed shoulders with the likes of Jinnah and Gandhi during the round table conferences on Indian reforms in London.

On the behest of Quaid-e-Azam, he represented the Muslim League before Radcliffe Boundary Commission. His immaculate role during that tricky phase of partition was highly commendable. Many notables had gone on record to pay tribute to the great man’s devotion towards the cause of a separate homeland for the muslims.

In pre partition era, his services as a true Muslim leagean can’t be ignored as well. He was the legal brain behind drafting the Lahore resolution of 1940, apart from representing the muslims of India as the member of viceroy’s council.

Post independence, he was cherry-picked by none other than Qauid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, as Pakistan’s first foreign affairs Minister. He fought for the rights of the suppressed nations especially the muslim countries during his tenure. As the head of the delegation, he represented Pakistan in United Nations’ General Assembly and advocated the stand of the Muslim world on the Palestinian issue.

His 1947 speech at the UN Security Council for the palestinian cause sets yardstick for being the most eloquent case put forth in favour of Palestinians thus far. In recognition of his efforts he was awarded the highest civilian honour by Syria, Egypt and Jordan alike. (Transcript of Zafaraullah Khan’s speech in UN SecurityCouncil 

At the UN Security Council, he strongly proposed the liberation of the occupied Kashmir, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, North Ireland, Eritrea and Indonesia. Even as president of the UN General Assembly, he left no stone unturned to propound a strong case of Kashmir. In the process, he met a number of dignitaries including President Kennedy to bring Kashmir issue to the fore.

Not many Muslim world diplomats could emulate his indomitable spirit for rallying the cause of the Third World nations. His rise from a judge to the president (chief justice) of the International court of Justice in the Hague, later in his career, was phenomenal. He is the only Pakistani to achieve this feat.

Another feather in his cap was his knighthood as ‘Sir’ by the British empire, which is a rarity for a subcontinental great. Interestingly, he had also Performed Umrah and Hajj in his lifetime and had written numerous books on Islam and Pakistan as a historian.

A politician and jurist of highest pedigree, he was Quaid’s most trusted luteinant and an ambassador of Muslim world on various international forums. I believe his success was not digested by many in Pakistan. For that matter his achievements, that are so vital for Pakistan, were ignored rather than being adorned as part of our educational syllabus to showcase an honest and luminous past of our nation.

Keeping faith aside, for a change if we could just honour his services towards Pakistan, then as a nation, we would have certainly moved a step ahead in the right direction.

Note: one of Pakistan’s popular social blog team failed to appreciate this piece may be because they are not brave enough yet to confront the honest past of Pakistan.