Events show how deeply extremism has rooted in society

Mumtaz Qadri supporters

When militants carry out attacks, we tell ourselves and the world that they are not Muslims and religion has nothing to do with their barbaric acts. When a Pakistani like Tashfeen Malik is involved in an attack overseas, we point out that she spent time in Saudi Arabia. When a Pakistani like Saad Aziz is involved in attacks in Pakistan, we say that he must have been influenced by RAW. Maximimum Pakistanis are moderate and peaceful, we say. And I am desperate to believe it. But two events this week have shaken my confidence.

The first is the case of the 15-year-old boy who cut off his own hand and delivered it to his Imam after accidentally raising his hand when asked who had stopped praying. Raising one’s hand at the wrong moment is an honest mistake that every schoolboy has made at one time or another. Instead of understanding the boy’s predicament and comforting him not to worry, though, the crowd quickly accused him of blasphemy leading him to cut off his own hand and deliver it as apology. This is horrible enough, but what came next made me fear for our country.

Ahmed said that he has seen a video in which the boy is greeted by villagers in the street as his parents proclaim their pride.

No complaint has been made, he said, so no police report has been filed and there will be no investigation.

This what we have let Pakistan become. A country where children cut off their own limbs out of fear of being labeled a blasphemer, and their parents and villagers praise them for it.

I know what you are thinking. This is a terrible thing, but these are poor ignorant people. They are backwards and uneducated and do not represent Pakistan. True. And I was happy to shake my head in sadness for this poor boy as another evidence of need for more education. Until I saw this.

This video is Capt (r) Muhammad Safdar MNA son in law of Nawaz Sharif giving speech in favour of Mumtaz Qadri. This is not a 15-year-old boy who knows no better. This is not a backwards villager or an uneducated mullah. He is a retired Army officer who was educated at MCJ. He is elected Member of National Assembly. And he is a member of Prime Minister’s family. In other words, if the poor boy who cut off his hand represents Pakistan’s poor, Capt Safdar represents the elite. And here he is proudly praising an extremist murderer and I am reminded of the crowds of lawyers showering a killer with rose petals, and a passage written by another lawyer Feisal Naqvi hits me like a brick.

So far as I have been able to tell, there is a very small supply of enlightened Muslims and a very large supply of unenlightened Muslims. More importantly, the social credibility of the enlightened portion of the Ummah seems to run a very distant second to fire-breathing idiots who demand that we should stone sinners to death.

I am a middle class liberal Pakistani. I pray. I fast. I pay zakat. And I also believe in tolerance and moderation and have no need for hatred and extremism. I have always believed that I was not alone. I was part of the ‘silent majority’ of Pakistanis who also do the same. Right now, that belief is shaken and I am worrying more that I am actually a member of shrinking minority. For the sake of our country, I pray that I am mistaken.

Did APP Help Bust An ISI Covert Propaganda Ring?

Associated Press of Pakistan, the official government news agency, reported on Monday that “a media report” has criticised Pakistan’s former Ambassador Husain Haqqani for speaking against the state. The “media report” APP is broadcasting comes from a website called “ZoneAsia-PK”. If you haven’t heard of it, don’t feel bad. Nobody else had either. Which is why I thought it was very strange that it was being quoted by APP. The author of the piece is noted as “Shehzad Malik…a Pakistani researcher based in the US with a Masters degree in International Relations”. I was curious about who this person was, so I decided to do a little checking. As it happens sometimes, one thing led to another, and I found myself looking at some very interesting information.

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Responses to Modi’s Visit

PM Nawaz and PM Modi in LahoreIndian Prim Minister Narenda Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore added to the celebrations of the week. Nawaz did not greet his Indian counterpart as part of a high level diplomatic mission, and yet it was exactly the type of diplomatic ice breaker that has been so desperately needed. Even Imran Khan was found appreciating the event, terming it ‘a positive step’.

Not everyone was pleased, though, as certain media personalities took to social media to make their own opinions known.


For the common man, improved relations between the two nuclear powers is an obvious benefit. Besides reducing the obvious chances of violence, improved relations also promises to improve economic opportunities and tourism. For certain media talking heads, though, improved relations are obviously very threatening. Perhaps this is because their own economic success depends largely on continued tensions and an easy enemy to demonise. Is it possible that certain individuals are willing to put their own wealth and fame above the good of their own country? Would someone who puts their own greed before their country be correctly called a ‘patriot’?

Obviously this may be taking things a bit too far. However if these individuals are not acting for their own self interest, whose interests are they so desperate to protect? Perhaps the better question is who is it that gains the most money and power from having poor relations between our two nations? Some will point to religious groups and their private funders who find themselves with more power when they can convince the people that Islam is under threat. There are others who will note that it is not only religious groups that play the ‘fortress of Islam’ card to continually increase their funding and authority.

Probably we will never know what causes some to feel so threatened and scared of peace between Pakistan and India. Never mind them, though. There have always been those who have tried to sabotage Pakistan’s relations to their own benefit. Some will dismiss the visit between the two Prime Ministers by saying that it didn’t accomplish anything. This is not entire accurate, however. It did accomplish one thing which was flushing out certain individuals and making them show their true face.

Misrepresentation and the UN General Assembly

Nawaz Sharif at UN General AssemblyPrime Minister Nawaz Sharif addressed the United Nations General Assembly and satisfied critics who threatened the government would fall if the he did not make Kashmir a front and centre pillar of his speech. The PM dutifully read his script and newspaper headlines boldly quoted him as terming India a threat to world peace and demanding a plebiscite in Indian-held Kashmir. Well, our newspapers did. As for the rest of the world? Nobody seems to have paid the least attention. Continue reading

Secret Meetings In Washington: Is PTI sabotaging PM’s UN trip?

US Institute of Peace

PM Nawaz Sharif is in New York for the 70th session of United Nations General Assembly which is scheduled to take place on 30th of this month. As usual, there is much speculation being reported. Will he take a sideline meeting with Modi? Will he give Kashmir a front and center place on the agenda? Will he reveal damning evidence about Indian involvement in terrorism? There have been strong statements coming out of the capital, and expectations are running high. However, some new facts that have not been reported could find the PM meeting some unexpected hostility.

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