Monday, December 30, 2013

Abdul Quader Molla, Jamaat-e-Islami & Martyrdom.

2013: ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan said Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) leader Abdul Quader Molla was innocent and charges against him were false, Radio Pakistan reported. The PTI Chairman said that a lawyer of the international human rights organisation Reprieve, who was defending Molla, told him that the JI leader was innocent and had nothing to do with the charges against him. He was speaking in the National Assembly on Monday. The tragedy of fall of Dhaka gives us the lesson that issues should be handled democratically, not through military operations, Imran said. The National Assembly also adopted a resolution on Monday expressing concern over the hanging of Molla, a senior leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh for his “loyalty to Pakistan”. The resolution was moved by Sher Akbar Khan of Jamaat-e-Islami. The resolution also expresses condolences with Bangladesh and the family of Molla. The house demanded that the Bangladesh government should not resurrect issues of 1971 and end all cases against the JI Bangladesh leadership in the spirit of understanding. We witnessed the fall of Dhaka 42 years ago and we seem to have not learnt our lesson, said Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. Speaking on a point of order, the interior minister said that people still react in a violent manner, do not respect others and despite tall claims about democracy our attitudes are still undemocratic. He further added that we should carry out self analysis to determine what we achieved and lost since the fall of Dhaka. Nisar said the government would support the JI resolution on the issue. REFERENCE: Resolution passed: Abdul Quader Molla was innocent, Imran Khan claims Published: December 16, 2013 Jamaat leader’s hanging in Bangladesh ‘saddens’ Nisar

Handwritten note from President Richard M. Nixon on an April 28, 1971, National Security Council decision paper: "To all hands. Don't squeeze Yahya at this time - RMN" The Tilt: The U.S. and the South Asian Crisis of 1971 National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 79 Edited by Sajit Gandhi December 16, 2002

Jamat-e-Islami, Bengali Intellectuals & Diary of Rao Farman Ali

Jamat-e-Islami, Bengali Intellectuals & Diary... by SalimJanMazari

December was crucial in deciding the fate of East Pakistan. Indian military action was in full throttle. Sensing a hopeless situation the armed activists of the pro-Pakistan Al Shams and Al Badar reportedly picked up some 100 physicians, professors, writers and engineers in Dhaka and killed them. The day is marked on the Bangladesh calendar as the Day of the martyred intellectual. They were buried in a mass grave. This created a scar that would never be healed. ---- They included members and supporters of the right-wing parties, led by Jamat-i-Islami. They had been routed by Awami League in 1970 elections and now wanted to take full revenge by calling the AL anti-Islam. The most active were three armed groups, Al Shams, Al Badar and the Razakar. These and other similar groups were accused of working as thunder squads, looting and disgracing Bengalis who were labelled as non-Muslim. Reports said that before action, these groups used to prepare plans and lists of those who were to be taken to task. REFERENCES: A leaf from history: Bangladesh on the horizon 2012-04-22 A leaf from history: After Operation Searchlight 2012-03-03

Ayub's secularism as part of the mbook without any fine print. Even the prefix Islamic ilitary culture of British Indian Army was like an open attaching to the Republic of Pakistan was dropped until restored under the writ of superior judiciary. That continued to be the case until the fateful day of 1965 when India attacked Pakistan along the international border, with Lahore as its principal target. Even in his first address to the nation within hours of the Indian invasion, Ayub went on to recite the 'Kalama-i-Tayyaba' in a stirring, emotion-choked voice. His subsequent meeting with religious parties - mainly the Jamaat-i-Islami under Maulana 'Abul 'Ala Maududi - marked the beginning of the military-mullah nexus. Yahya would not have much to do with things spiritual until the induction of retired Maj.-Gen. Sher Ali Khan into his cabinet as minister in-charge of information and national affairs. He initiated Yahya into ideological lore and saddled him with the mission of protecting the 'ideology of Pakistan and the glory of Islam'. Yahya's intelligence chief, Major-(later Lieut.) Gen. Muhammad Akbar Khan made no secret of his close liaison with the Jamaat-i-Islami especially in respect of its pro-active role in East Pakistan. The Jamaat was to go even to the extent of certifying Yahya's draft constitution as Islamic. The draft was authored by Justice A.R. Cornelius, Yahya's law minister. As for Zia, he embarked on his Islamization programme even as he assumed his army command. He gave the army the triple motto of 'Iman, Taqwa, Jihad fi Sibil Lillah'. Subsequently, as president, he introduced the Hudood Ordinance and collaborated with the Americans in projecting the Soviet-Afghan war as a jihad. The country continues to pay the bitter wages of Zia's jihad syndrome. REFERENCE: MMA and the NSC By A.R. Siddiqi (The writer is a retired brigadier of the Pakistan Army) DAWN - Features; 30 June, 2004

The Jamat-i-Islami was also opposed to the idea of Pakistan which it described as Na Pakistan (not pure). In none of the writings of the Jama'at is to be found the remotest reference in support of the demand for Pakistan. The pre-independence views of Maulana Abul Ala Maududi, the founder of the Jamat-i-Islami were quite definite: 

 "Among Indian Muslims today we find two kinds of nationalists: the Nationalists Muslims, namely those who in spite of their being Muslims believe in Indian Nationalism and worship it; and the Muslims Nationalist: namely those who are little concerned with Islam and its principles and aims, but are concerned with the individuality and the political and economic interests of that nation which has come to exist by the name of Muslim, and they are so concerned only because of their accidence of birth in that nation. From the Islamic viewpoint both these types of nationalists were equally misled, for Islam enjoins faith in truth only; it does not permit any kind of nation-worshipping at all. Maulana Maududi was of the view that the form of government in the new Muslim state, if it ever came into existence, could only be secular. In a speech shortly before partition he said: "Why should we foolishly waste our time in expediting the so-called Muslim-nation state and fritter away our energies in setting it up, when we know that it will not only be useless for our purposes, but will rather prove an obstacle in our path." Paradoxically, Maulana Maududi's writings played an important role in convincing the Muslim intelligentsia that the concept of united nationalism was suicidal for the Muslims but his reaction to the Pakistan movement was complex and contradictory. When asked to cooperate with the Muslim League he replied: "Please do not think that I do not want to participate in this work because of any differences, my difficulty is that I do not see how I can participate because partial remedies do not appeal to my mind and I have never been interested in patch work." He had opposed the idea of united nationhood because he was convinced that the Muslims would be drawn away from Islam if they agreed to merge themselves in the Indian milieu. He was interested more in Islam than in Muslims: because Muslims were Muslims not because they belonged to a communal or a national entity but because they believed in Islam. The first priority, therefore, in his mind was that Muslim loyalty to Islam should be strengthened. This could be done only by a body of Muslims who did sincerely believe in Islam and did not pay only lip service to it. Hence he founded the Jamat-i-Islami (in August 1941). However, Maulana Maududi's stand failed to take cognizance of the circumstances in which the Muslims were placed. REFERENCE: ISLAMIC PAKISTAN: ILLUSIONS & REALITY BY Abdus Sattar Ghazali Chapter II Ulema and Pakistan Movement Page 1 2 3

Memory Loss of Syed Munawar Hassan & Jamaat-e-Islami


Memory Loss of Syed Munawar Hassan & Jamaat-e... by SalimJanMazari

Mawdudi & Jamaat-E-Islami Fatwa Against Jinnah & Pakistan

The year 2003 marked the centenary of Maulana Maudoodi's birth. Tarjaman-ul-Quran - a politico-religious journal that Maudoodi established - paid a tribute to him by publishing two special issues (one of these two has been recently published) on his life and works. This should be an appropriate occasion to reappraise Maulana Maudoodis' views on Pakistan and the Pakistan movement. To infer Maudoodis' views on Muslim identity in India and the demand for Pakistan, I have relied on the two-volume anthology of his articles, titled as "Muslims and the Indian Freedom Movement" (Lahore: Islamic Publications). The first volume consists of articles written during the Congress rule in which Maudoodi has delved upon the contours of Muslim identity and its future as a minority in India. His befitting rejoinder to Husain Ahmed Madni helps enumerate his own views on this issue. Madni had found Indian nationality compatible with the Islamic teachings. The Covenant of Medina between the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and the Jews, according to Madni, spoke of Muslims and Jews of Bani Auf as an Ummat. For Maudoodi, Ummat in that context referred to an alliance - a meaning that can easily be deduced in accordance with the grammatical orthodoxy of the Arabic language. He thought that an Indian nationality that relief on Wardha and Vidya Mandar education schemes would be inimical to the "national type" of the Indian Muslims and would submerge their identity. He made allusions to the sufferings of the Irish and Czech minorities and felt that gradually Muslims would be stripped of their distinct identity and assimilated within the fold of Indian nationalism. Indian nationality would give way to Hindu nationalism, and the Muslims would be required to give precedence to nationalism over religion. This was anathema to a person like Maudoodi, who was "more interested in Islam than Muslims". He argued that the Quran refers to the Muslims as Hizb, which means 'Party'. Whereas nations are racially based, parties are ideological. REFERENCE: A reappraisal of Maudoodi's ideas By Ali Usman Qasmi (Daily Dawn, August 28 2004)

Mawdudi, Jinnah & Ideology of Pakistan (Frontline - Express News)


Mawdudi, Jinnah & Ideology of Pakistan... by SalimJanMazari

Mawdudi & Jamaat-e-Islami said Jinnah & Muslim League Leaders Weren't True Muslim

 In this sense, Muslims were not a nation but a party (Hizb Allah) with their own dogma and charter, pitched against the party of the devil (Hizb ul Shaitaan). Hence if a Muslim was to choose between his Indian and Muslim identity, he had to prefer the latter. Maudoodi was ambivalently placed in his response to the Pakistan movement. He had opposed the Congress party's policies during the Congress rule affecting the Muslim culture and religion. He effectively countered the academic challenge posed by the Congress intellectual elite who were bent upon establishing an all-embracing Indian nationality without there being a cultural, linguistic and religious homogeneity. The distinctiveness of the Muslim identity that Maudoodi helped establish through his writings enlightened the common Muslim and also proved to be beneficial for the Muslim League. Still, Maudoodi could not agree with the demand for Pakistan as propounded by Muslim League and led by the Quaid-i-Azam. It was so because for Maudoodi the "Pakistan Movement" based on the idea of Muslim nationalism was un-Islamic in many ways. In order for it to be Islamic, it had to be led by Muslims well versed in the teachings of Islam. The present leadership, he felt, would hardly qualify for the lowest rungs in a 'proper' Islamic movement or a party. Pakistan, thus established, would form an 'infidel' government of the Muslims as existed in other parts of the Islamic world like Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan. Muslim nationalism, if it did not lead to the establishment of an Islamic system, was to be as much despicable as Hindu nationalism. And since the Muslim League had always been interested more in securing quotas and political rights from the British government (for example the Quaid-i-Azam's 14 points) or assurances from the Congress to safeguard the rights procured, the demand for Pakistan was all about political power and had nothing to do with Islam. Hence Maudoodi did not allow his disciples to vote for the Muslim League in the crucial elections of 1946 on the plea that the proposed parliament was going to be elected and run on the un-Islamic western principles of the people s' sovereignty. REFERENCE: A reappraisal of Maudoodi's ideas By Ali Usman Qasmi (Daily Dawn, August 28 2004)

Syed Haider Farooq Maududi on Jamaat-e-Islami


Syed Haider Farooq Maududi on Jamaat-e-Islami by SalimJanMazari

But he favoured a pro-Pakistan vote in the NWFP referendum, saying that this matter needed to be taken differently from the vote for parliament in 1946. The paradox, however, still remained. The NWFP was to become part of a state where an 'infidel' government of the Muslims with a parliament based on the people's sovereignty (at least before the Objectives Resolution of 1949 no one thought it to be other than that) was to be established. It was even more paradoxical that in his later writings Maudoodi attributed the creation of Pakistan to divine will! Whereas in the first volume Maudoodi is plainly rationalist in identifying the Muslim problems and defining their identity in India, in the second volume he is vaguely idealistic in his approach to suggest an alternative for the Muslims in the crucial phase of the freedom movement (1941-47). He believed that instead of emphasizing on Muslim nationalism, efforts should be concerted to introduce Islam as a movement to all the Indians. He went to the extent of saying that if an Islamic movement lead by a 'proper' leadership was pursued with a revolutionary spirit, presenting practical, living and universal solutions (of course Islamic) to the Indian problems, it was very probable that non-Muslims would be found more enthusiastic in its support than Muslims! Had the efforts been undertaken in this regard, lamented Maudoodi, the whole of Hindustan would have become Pakistan. It does not mean that he called for a movement to spread Islam just to convert non-Muslims into Muslims. He aimed to offer Islam as an alternative "system". A well-organized cadre party with enthusiastic and well-disciplined members was to launch this movement. The Jamaat-i-lslami was later established by Maudoodi for this purpose. He believed that Islam could not simply be one of the many parties in a system. It was inherent in the nature of this 'party' that it alone should exist. Ironically, Maudoodi accused his rivals as fascists and Nazis insofar as they were interested in the revival, glory and supremacy of the "Muslim nation" and not that of Islam. For the Muslim minority left in India, Maudoodi advised them to wait for the communal and nationalist zeal to recede. He felt that the Indians would soon realize the hollowness and inadequacies of the political and economic solutions suggested for the problems of India. It would then be for the Indian Muslims to capitalize upon this weakness and put forward the alternative 'system' of Islam. He estimated that Muslims had 60% chances of succeeding in this venture and they should not leave it to the Marxist parties to exploit the situation. Greatly inspired by the Bolshevik revolution, he suggested patterning the Islamic movement in India on similar footings. If a handful of communists could succeed in establishing a Marxist regime in the Soviet Union, then the Indian Muslims - numbering more than 50 million - had a better chance of succeeding, only if one-twentieth of these numbers could be trained as effective and dedicated workers of the Islamic movement. It can be aptly remarked that Maudoodi envisioned an Islamic putsch that would be Leninist in scope and extent but Menshevik in its approach and strategy. The purpose of this essay is not to degrade Maulana Maudoodi's stature as one of the great Islamic scholars of the 20th century. It should better be left for the readers to ascertain whether Maudoodi erred in his Ijtehad or not. It would also be inappropriate to doubt the loyalty of religious parties towards Pakistan. At the same time, it is for the religious parties to realize as well that they should stop posing themselves as the sole custodians of Pakistan and its 'ideology'. It is because such a claim is not only factually ill-founded but has also, due to its abuse for political gains, proved to be intellectually stifling. REFERENCE: A reappraisal of Maudoodi's ideas By Ali Usman Qasmi (Daily Dawn, August 28 2004)

RAWALPINDI: In a strong statement, Pakistan Army’s Inter Service Public Relations (ISPR) condemned Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) Chief Syed Munawar Hassan’s statement in which he called former Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Chief Hakimullah Mehsud a martyr. The statement said that the JI chief's remarks were irresponsible and that it was only made for political point scoring. "Munawar Hassan's statement is an insult to the thousands of Pakistani civilians and soldiers killed," the ISPR statement said. "To declare dead terrorists as martyrs makes Munawar Hassan's remarks highly condemnable. "Strong condemnation of his views from an overwhelming majority leaves no doubt in any one's mind that all of us are very clear on what the state of Pakistan is and who are its enemies," the statement said. "The people of Pakistan, whose loved ones laid down their life while fighting terrorists, and families of martyrs of armed forces demand an unconditional apology from Syed Munawar Hassan for hurting their feelings. It is also expected that Jamaat-i-Islami should clearly state its party position on the subject," said the ISPR statement. REFERENCE: JI chief's remarks an insult to Pakistan's martyrs: ISPR 2013-11-10

Mehsud described as soldier of peace (Dawn 07-08-2005) Pakistan wrestles with a ‘soldier of peace’ By Imtiaz Ali South Asia Jan 11, 2008 (Asia Times)

MULTAN: The Taliban have claimed responsibility for an attack on an ISI office that killed at least 12 people and injured several others on Tuesday. Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq claimed responsibility for the attack in a conversation with an Associated Press reporter in Waziristan. Attacks blamed on Taliban have surged this year as troops battle the terrorist group in the rugged tribal regions near the Afghan border, under fierce US pressure to do more to destroy extremist strongholds. ap REFERENCE: Taliban claim responsibility Wednesday, December 09, 2009 (Daily Times) Taliban turn children into live bombs Thursday, April 23, 2009 (Daily Times)
Baitullah threatens attack on White House – Claims responsibility for Lahore and other attacks by Mushtaq Yusufzai 2 Wednesday, April 01, 2009 (The News)

Mullahs, Jihad, Martyr & Dogs in Pakistan.

Mullahs, Jihad, Martyr & Dogs in Pakistan. by SalimJanMazari

MANSEHRA: Jamaat-i-Islami, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, has declared Hakeemullah Mehsud and his associates killed in the recent drone strike as martyrs and demanded of the federal government to end its strategic alliance with America. “Those killed in the recent drone attack are martyrs as they were eliminated when they were in the process of dialogue for permanent peace in Pakistan. America is following its own agenda without paying heed to the national interests of our country and the drone strike to sabotage the dialogue between the government and Taliban is an eye opener for the so-called patriots,” said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa JI chief Prof Mohammad Ibrahim while speaking to media persons after attending the oath-taking ceremony of zonal and union heads of the party here on Sunday. Prof Ibrahim said that as a coalition partner in the KP government his party would support whatever steps the government would take to restrict drone strikes in future. He said that the JI had no vendetta with any western country and wanted relations with these countries on the basis of equality and mutual respect. He said that the Pakistani rulers should come up with a clear program to challenge the hegemony of America in the region. “Now people have started to realise that America is not sincere with Pakistan and it has been protecting its own interests in the region,” he said. Earlier, the JI provincial amir administered oath to newly-elected zonal and union heads and asked them to work for the betterment of people and the country through their work. He said that masses would support the JI for its pro-people policies. He added that politics should be for a noble cause and helping those in need. District JI amir Younus Khattak and Tariq Sherazi also spoke on the occasion. REFERENCE: Jamaat terms Hakeemullah a ‘martyr’ 2013-11-04

Historically, Jamaat-e-Islami’s position on drones and relations with Washington has been visibly different from that of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan’s. While Imran had opposed drone attacks from day one and had also consistently disagreed with what he believes to be the subservient nature of Pakistan’s relations with the US, the Jamaat did nothing more than issuing meaningless condemnatory statements and staging a few protest rallies along with its Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) colleagues when, in late 2001, Pakistan was facilitating Afghan invasion by Nato troops with bases and transit routes. In 2004, when it was still ruling K-P (the then NWFP), North Waziristan was subjected to the first ever US drone attack. And what was the reaction of the MMA government then? Silence, largely. No denouncement of the US, no resignation from the government and no blockade of the Nato supply route. The MMA remained in the government and gave the military dictator Pervez Musharraf, the architect of the bloody mess the nation is currently being subjected to, the much needed help in getting through the self–serving 17th Constitutional Amendment, which all the three mainstream political parties — the PPP, the PML-N and the ANP — had voted against. The MMA was even prepared to vote for Musharraf in uniform. Even much before the 2002 general elections, a top JI leader had toured the US State Department reportedly to get a feel of US foreign policymakers to the possibility of an MMA government in Islamabad, if the Alliance were to win enough National Assembly seats in the forthcoming elections. REFERENCE: Who is minding the store in Islamabad? By M ZiauddinPublished: December 10, 2013 Durrani meets US senator 2005-07-16

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Khudi Festival of Ideas 2013

Recently I got the opportunity to attend Khudi’s annual Festival of Ideas in Lahore. Khudi is a progressive youth organization working for countering extremist mindset and for raising awareness about democracy. I had been following this organization on social media over the past few years and I grew to admire the remarkable work they are doing. Khudi works on various themes ranging from peace building, rights of minorities, gender issues and civic and political education. This time I applied for the annual Festival of Ideas and was luckily selected among limited number of delegates from across the country. I occasioned a remarkable hospitality upon my arrival and the organizers cordially welcomed the participants. In the matter of few minutes I started feeling like a part of the event wholeheartedly. The developments of the first day of the three-day event clearly indicated that I was among a very well organized community and a team of devoted folks who were working continuously for the better service and management of every activity.

The orientation session started with a lecture of a leading intellectual and public figure Mr Javed Jabbar, who delivered a beautifully crafted lecture on the idea of Pakistan and the issues that we are confronting in the contemporary age. Mr Jabbar spoke in detail about our identity crisis and ways to face the challenges posed by it. By the end of this interactive lecture followed by very interesting questions & answers session, I had realized that the event is not going to betray any of the high ideals and anticipation which it portrayed; a 10 out of 10 from my side. After that we had a brilliant Mushaira, a session of poetry, featuring young zealous poets expressing their inner feelings through their splendid verses on romantic themes. As the Mushaira moved forward and veteran poets took the stage, I was fascinated to see that the notion of romanticism of the young poets was replaced by grave issues of life, suffering, death and the existential quests. Reference: Khudi Festival of Ideas: Learning for a Way Forward by M. Fahad Ur Rehman Nov - 13 - 2013

Former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa minister Mian Ifthikhar Hussain of the Awami National Party (ANP) delivered the keynote speech on counter-militancy and Talibanisation. He discussed the government’s policy of dialogue with the Taliban. About the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) contribution, he said, “[PTI chief Imran] Khan so far has not taken a step for the dialogue. His party’s government has approached none of the 53 factions of the Taliban.” “If ordinary people can point out where the Taliban are hiding, how can the government be unaware of where to find them?” he questioned. He said the narrative on militancy and extremism needed to changed. “If it doesn’t, the sacrifices of 850 ANP workers will go in vain,” he said. Speaking at a panel discussion, Haider Farooqi Maududi said, “The exploitation of religion for political purposes has made Pakistan hell.” He said “Pakistan had not emerged from a religious conflict but a political one.” He called for separation of religion from state matters. Other speakers in the panel Tanveer Jahan, Tahir Wadood Malik and Sulaiman Mandran agreed with him. At a panel discussion titled Democratic Transition: Hopes and Fears Tahir Mehdi, Fahd Husain and Taimur Rehman said democracy is not only a form of governance but also a way of life. “To bring true democratic change, a democratic culture has to be established at all levels, including in our homes and workplaces,” the speakers said. REFERENCE: Youth forum: ‘Democracy, too, is a way of life’ October 27, 2013

In another panel discussion, Haider Farooq Maududi, the son of founder of Jamaat-e-Islami Maulana Abu al Ala Moududi said, “The misuse of religion has made Pakistan a hell”. He said “Pakistan was not result of a religious conflict but that of a political one.” He also explained why there was a need to separate religion from state matters. The other speakers including Tanveer Jahan, Tahir Wadood Malik and Sulaiman Mandran agreed. Earlier, a panel discussion titled ‘democratic transition: hopes and fears’, which consisted of Tahir Mehdi, Fahd Husain and Dr Taimur Rehman stressed that democracy was not only a form of governance but it’s a code and a way of life. “To bring a true democratic change, the democratic culture has to be established at all levels including homes and workplaces,” they were of the view. Towards the end the audience was divided into four committees to discuss various regional and international conflicts that Pakistan faces. The committees discussed in detail civil-military, Pak-India, and Pak-US relations, along with issue of militancy. Reference: Youngsters share ideas at festival October 27, 2013 ARSHAD BHATTI

Journalist and discussion moderator Mubasher Bukhari said the Pakistani press faced great pressure to censor facts from stories that challenged the established narrative. “In all my years as a journalist, I have been under pressure to censor reports, whether from political or religious parties or the establishment,” he said. Journalists often practised self-censorship, he said. This particularly applied to blasphemy cases, which often went unreported. “With such practices in place there is no space left for counter narratives,” he said. And self-censorship was not just restricted to the press, he said. “Forget media reports, even governments exercise self-censorship by not releasing reports on sensitive issues in their entirety,” he said. Lawyer Yasser Latif Hamdani advocated a separation of the state and religion. “If we want to see Pakistan as a progressive state, we have to separate state from religion,” he said. Islam’s privileged status in the Constitution meant that it was always at the centre of public discourse. Even viewed in the legal paradigm, he said, one had little room to exercise religious and individual freedoms. In a society bent on establishing a single religious practice, there was no tolerance for alternative discourse, he said. Distorted history textbooks further strengthened the resolve not to tolerate differing views, he added. History books were not written to establish facts and context, he said, but to establish people’s roles as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’. “Why must we have a history that identifies characters as heroes or villains?” Research analyst Amir Mughal said Pakistani society was content to avoid issues by pretending they don’t exist. “Every topic deemed sensitive or controversial is brushed under the carpet by our government,” he said. Society’s natural response had been programmed such that anything varying from the established norms and narratives was either banned or censored. He questioned the ban on YouTube. But the media was not blameless, he said. “The media is quick to criticise civilian governments, but what about the security establishment?” he asked. The media also played a part in the assassination of Salmaan Taseer. “Nowadays, the easiest thing for anyone to do is to label liberals or secular people as traitors,” he said. REFERENCE: Censorship in public discourse: ‘Dogma has bred denial, killed dissent’ Published: October 28, 2013

“We are looking at a modern world through a pre-modern lens,” said lawyer and columnist Saroop Ijaz, speaking at the third session – titled ‘Pakistan on the global stage: hopes and fears’ on the last day of the Khudi Festival of Ideas. Ijaz said when seen in a global perspective, it seemed that “Pakistani history” taught people to be xenophobic. He stressed the need for alternative narratives, but acknowledged that these would make people uncomfortable. “When what you have believed for so many years is challenged, there is bound to be a certain degree of discomfort,” he said. This was the reason that there were such contrasting views on Malala Yousafzai within the country, he said. “Malala’s narrative makes us uncomfortable because it does not conform to what we have in mind as the role of a 15-year-old girl in Pakistan,” he said. Ijaz also called for greater discourse between those termed conservatives and those called liberals in Pakistan. “At some stage, liberals and seculars will need to come out of their comfort zone and engage with conservative ideologies, which are far more popular than their own,” he added. Former Radio Pakistan director general Murtaza Solangi said Pakistan’s current woes were in large part due to the deficiencies of the education system, which discouraged critical thinking. “We are not standing at a sensitive juncture in history, we are in fact in an existential crisis,” he said. The focus on parliamentarians’ fake degrees, he said, was misplaced. “I find this not to be the issue. The real issue is the presence of [people getting] genuine degrees without any knowledge,” he said. Solangi said that the country’s political institutions had performed better in the last few years. “Confusion is the first step to wisdom. That is when you start seeking and that is when single narratives are challenged,” said Dr Daanish Mustafa, who teaches at the geography department at King’s College, London. He called for greater investment in various disciplines, particularly the performing arts, so as to encourage cultural diversity and create alternative narratives. These alternative narratives needed to be taken to a broader audience in order to challenge the old narrative. Dr Mustafa said he was hopeful that the country would move forward. “All is not lost. I don’t see suicidal tendencies in the young. They are hopeful,” he said. Writer and activist Dr Mubarak Haider said Pakistan could either change itself, or the world would change it. The latter, he said, seemed more probable. “The Muslim Ummah and specifically the Pakistani nation is narcissistic, and the more you try to tell them that the more they deny it,” he said. Dr Haider said the country had no global partner. “Even countries like Saudi Arabia do not completely stand by us. We are isolated as a nation on a global platform,” he said. Because of insecurities about religion, Pakistan seemed always to be preoccupied with trying to defend the faith. The country’s supreme governing body, he said, was not parliament but the Council of Islamic Ideology. He said: “Why are we so frightened that something may happen to our religion? Why do we feel so threatened?” REFERENCE: Pakistan on global stage: ‘We’re taught to be xenophobic’ By Aroosa Shaukat Published: October 28, 2013

The current state of the country is not the fault of ‘maulvis’, but of a “secular class” of political and military leaders, said writer and politician Ayaz Amir in his concluding address at the Second Khudi Festival of Ideas on Sunday. “[The maulvis] have never been so powerful that they could bring the country to this state,” Amir said. From the dismal state of education to social unrest, the “secular class” was largely to blame, he said, addressing a gathering of some 300 young people from across the country who participated in the festival. Amir, who was a member of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz before throwing his support behind the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf ahead of the May general elections, lamented the quality of leadership in the country since the death of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. “One after the other, we have been getting worse and worse leaders and that has been Pakistan’s ill fate,” he said. The current prime minister, he said, looked like “a nervous young student” at his recent press briefing alongside US President Barrack Obama at the White House. “Why is our leadership so insecure? Why do they lack the confidence to speak in front of the world?” Amir said unless the nation got the right leadership, it would get nowhere. “Those in a command position can either lead the nation in the right direction or lead it to its destruction. Unfortunately, we lack the leaders to steer it in the right direction,” he said. REFERENCE: Khudi Festival of Ideas: ‘Secular class to blame for our fate, not maulvis’ By Our Correspondent Published: October 28, 2013