Zafarullah Khan & the Tragedy of Palestine and Pakistan


*First published in Pakistan Today.

“This is a solemn moment, solemn in the history of the world, in the history of this great —let us hope, at least—great Organization. The United Nations is today on trial. The world is watching and will see how it acquits itself— again, perhaps, not so much from the point of view of whether partition is approved or not approved, but from the point of view of whether any room is to be left for the exercise of honest judgment and conscience in decisions taken upon important questions.”

-Sir Zafarullah Khan’s Address to UN Security Council on the issue of Palestine. (October 7, 1947)

The Gaza death toll is nearing a bloody 1000 as Israeli barbarities continue.

Since the atrocious bombing began, torrents of sympathy and solidarity with Gaza have been released from all quarters all over Pakistan.

And with them, there has been a caustic expression lamenting and bemoaning Pakistan and the Muslim world’s sickly response to the barbarities in Palestine.

However, what has been rendered unknown today is that Pakistan once played a significant role on the international stage.

Born on 6th February 1893 in Sialkot, Chaudhry Zafarullah Khan rose to become a leading politician, diplomat, an international jurist and one of the founding fathers of Pakistan.

The man behind the famous Lahore Resolution, Zafarullah Khan went on to be appointed as Pakistan’s first foreign minister by Muhammad Ali Jinnah in 1947.

Hardly two months after its creation in 1947, he represented Pakistan in the United Nations General Assembly as the head of its delegation and soon emerged as the most excellent spokesperson for the Muslim and the third world.

Through his stupendous championship of such causes, he became a prominent proponent of the advance of the universal values of peace, freedom, liberty, human rights, democracy and justice; as from 1948 to 1954 he represented Pakistan at the Security Council (UN) and outstandingly spoke for the liberation of Algeria, Libya, Northern Ireland, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Malay, Morocco, Nigeria, Indonesia and occupied Kashmir.

Through his unsurpassed and principled diplomacy, he practically put Pakistan on the map of the world, beyond mere name.

Perhaps, the greatest of the countless incomparable services he rendered was his exemplary advocacy of the cause of Palestine and Kashmir. With brilliant advocacy, including a speech which went on for 7 hours, it was largely Zafarullah Khan’s efforts which materialized into the UN Resolutions on Kashmir.

His promotion of the Palestinian cause garnered enormous appreciation, acknowledgement and reverence from almost all Muslim countries and leaders at that time.

His speech in October, 1947 on Palestine is considered one of the most powerful cases presented for it.

Realizing the lack of national recognition for him, several blogs and publications by his community have sprung up and sought to compensate for it by detailing his life, services and legacy themselves. One such blog post quotes from what it has identified as the editorial of The Statesman, Delhi, dated October 8, 1947:

“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”.

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King Faisal’s expression of gratitude to Zafarullah Khan for his representation of the Palestinian case at the UN.

Mr. Fadhel Jamali, a late former Foreign Minister of Iraq is also said to have penned in a tribute in Al-Sabah of 10th October, 1985:

 “In fact, it was not possible for any Arab, however capable and competent he may be, to serve the cause of Palestine in a manner in which this distinguished and great man dedicated himself. Mohammad Zafarullah Khan occupies a pre-eminent position in defending the Palestinians in this dispute. We expect from all Arabs and followers of Islam that they will never forget this great Muslim fighter. After Palestine, the services of this man for the independence of Libya also deserves admiration.”

Distinguished British journalist Alan Hart mentions Zafarullah Khan thoughts after the vote on the partition of Palestine, as he reveals in his book ‘Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, the False Messiah (Volume I)’ to have been a result of bribery and pressure, deeming them to have been the best expression of the feeling of the majority of states.

To date, none have come into sight who could rival the towering statesman; who was honoured and held in the highest esteem by numerous countries, leaders and nations, especially Muslim, honoured by all but his own.

Because of his faith. He was an Ahmadi, and like all, he has been disowned by the state and people.

In a post for All Things Pakistan in 2007, Yasser Latif Hamdani poignantly wrote:

Ironically, today Jinnah’s most trusted lieutenant is not even remembered by the state which owes him so much, including its own founding document.

Today, Sir Zafarullah’s speech on Palestine reads as a tragedy for both Palestine and Pakistan. It resonates as a striking reminder of the injustice inflicted upon the Palestinians, and the injustice Pakistan has inflicted upon itself; the injustice of ignorance, bigotry, prejudice and myopia.

As the saying goes:

“Poor are nations that do not have heroes, but beggared are those who forget them

Published in: on August 3, 2014 at 7:17 pm  Comments (13)  
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Saving Face: Beyond The Conventional Significance of the Oscar


On Monday 27th February 2012, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy won Pakistan its first Oscar for her documentary-film ‘Saving Face’.

For a country that is virtually a pariah state, a nation which has, since the last decade, only occasionally been conferred reasons of rejoicing or relief, and is terribly misconceived, known for nothing more than a people who snuggle in the tight wrap of terrorism – Sharmeen and her win, go beyond the conventional significance of the Oscar and the scope of pride and joy for Pakistan.

Her achievement, sent out a reverberating message that read; as prominent Arab Blogger Bassem Sabry put it, in regard to Iran and Pakistan’s Oscar wins:

“There is much more to these countries than just clichés of bombs and terrorism.”

As an educated, talented woman, successfully juggling her profession and family with a  balance, and with a brave and laudable attempt to bring out the subject of a repulsive and sickening practice in many parts of Pakistan; Sharmeen clearly toppled the perceptions that most hold about the country and its women.

Through her work and her speech, she overturned the generalizing stereotype that all women in Pakistan are locked up in the four walls of their houses, provided no access to education or the freedom to pursue a profession, and are forcefully draped in yards of a dull cloth, from head to toe.

For the Pakistani people, she truly shone in defining an example of representing their country: replete with poise, and with a cause.

Most importantly, her commitment and ardor to bring out the plight of the innocent and defenseless victims of acid-attacks, who are fettered to their fatalities, and elicit and raise awareness against this sickening practice in many areas of Pakistan, is wholly praiseworthy.

Contrary to the view being held by most Pakistanis, ‘Saving Face’ doesn’t only accentuate this social disease but also includes the positive aspect of hope, resilience and the possibility of a difference, all in response to this.

Sharmeen with Co-Director Daniel Junge and Dr. Jawad.

To quote Sharmeen herself:

“Saving face is a testament to the fact that ordinary people can come together to achieve extraordinary things.

The film revolves around Dr Jawad, a renowned Pakistani British plastic surgeon who has been traveling to Pakistan for the past decade to perform surgeries, free of cost for people who are unable to afford treatment. Giving back to his country, Dr Jawad was able to transform these women’s lives through his generosity and commitment.

Over the course of shooting this film, a historic bill was passed by the Pakistani parliament that strengthened the punishments awarded to perpetrators of such attacks. This law was brought into existence by testimonies of survivors and the incredible will and dedication of Marvi Memon.

Similarly, a female lawyer took up the case of Zakia, a survivor who was attacked by her husband. Offering her services pro bono, this lawyer won Zakia’s case, and her husband was given two life sentences.

So, even though “Saving Face” deals with difficult subject matter, it is infused with hope and is a telling tale of the great things that can happen when people come together.”

Although already planned before, and now propelled by international support, wide acclaim and nation-wide interest, Sharmeen will be launching a national educational campaign about Acid Violence, in March.

A 2010 article in Time mentioned:

‘Accurate statistics on acid attacks in Pakistan are hard to come by … The perpetrators are most often relatives or rivals,  sometimes for one woman’s affections, or, in non-gender-based attacks, opponents  provoked by property disputes or other disagreements.

Shahnaz Bokhari, chief coordinator and clinical  psychologist at the Progressive Women’s Association in Rawalpindi, says her  organization has counted 8,000 victims burned by acid as well as kerosene and  stoves since 1994. “And that’s just from Rawalpindi, Islamabad and a 200-mile  radius. I am not talking about in Pakistan [as a whole],” she says. Activists believe that only some 30% of acid cases are reported.

Acid is a  readily available and inexpensive weapon; it costs less than a dollar a liter  and is often used for household cleaning or for cotton processing in rural  areas.’

One hopes that Sharmeen is as fortunate she has been in being rewarded the most prestigious of awards for her efforts, she will be as lucky in the accomplishment of her aim of changing peoples’ mindsets towards this physically, mentally, emotionally and psychologically jarring barbarity, and moving them into action in opposition to this. And that Pakistanis will react to this, with the same zeal with which they celebrated the Oscar for it.

As the ‘Saving Face’ website states in their ‘Mission':

‘Our goal is to leverage Saving Face as a pivotal tool in the campaign to end acid violence in Pakistan and beyond. As Co-Director Daniel Junge expressed, “the film must be more than an expose of horrendous crimes — it must be a recipe for addressing the problem and a hope for the future.”

Saving Face is uniquely positioned to advance awareness, education and prevention efforts.’

At the end, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy needs to be hailed once again. For being an outstanding representative of the Pakistani people, their capacity to attain great heights and their goals, their strength and their capabilities – especially Pakistani women.

Columnist Huma Yusuf writes in her article for the International Herald Tribune:

For once, Pakistan is making headlines for a positive achievement, not another terrorist attack, political squabble or natural disaster.

For Pakistanis who have been struggling to restore their country’s flailing image, it’s a relief to see a talented, young Pakistani woman receiving a coveted international award.’

  For showing that there is, a Pakistan, apart from the picture that majority across the globe, holds of it.

For chosing to cast light upon a cruelty and the healing of its scars, by the existence of hope and better likelihoods.

For raising this forlorn nation out of its abyss of dejection, even if for just a little time.

Thank you Sharmeen!

~ Hafsa Khawaja

Of Choorian, Cultures and ‘Calm Down, Dear’


First published at Viewpoint Online.

Posting the unedited version here:

Often things become such a commonality in countries that their implications and meanings, no matter what they hold, are simply reduced to being nugatory. Such is the case in Pakistan; questionable sayings, practices and customs that should usually arouse attention have become so imbedded in our society through repetition that they’ve developed into being a component of the declining environment.

Just a few months back, when the Parliament deplorably resounded with boorish bellows of ‘protest’ and other actions by the Opposition (that evidently consigned and littered all democratic and parliamentary norms, ethics and etiquettes to the trash bin) till the session’s end as Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh presented the annual budget – PML (N) MNA Tehmina Daultana came storming and flung her bangles at him in an entirely misogynist vein.

This, for some, might plainly have been a sign of rightful ‘condemnation’ or just another entertaining event in the history of parliamentary donnybrooks of Pakistan. But what it was an indication of, was left absolutely unheeded.

Hum nay choorian nahi pheni hui!’ (We are not wearing bangles) has assumed form of a very popular phrase amongst the tub-thumping and empty rhetoric of the demagogues in Pakistan.

This expression clearly and solely suggests masculine pride and male bravado along with an endorsement of the opinion (and a much-denoted one to the mores and beliefs of the Arabia of the Age of Ignorance) that women were universally inferior creatures in comparison to men.

By roaring that one does not wear bangles, he intends to put the message across that he is neither weak, a simpleton nor woundable or anything perceived to be of the other sex through the lens of condescension; thus completely depreciating womanhood and making it the subject of derogation.

And this is ignored and even met by cheers from throngs listening to speeches that contain the sentence.

But in the United Kingdom in April, Prime Minister David Cameron was entangled in a controversy while resisting demands for apology after he told a female shadow cabinet minister to “Calm down, dear” during an argument over proposed reforms in the House of Commons. Cameron had  mimicked a famous car insurance advert starring popular chauvinist Michael Winner.

Cath Elliot of Guardian wrote:

“Calm down, dear” is neither humorous nor edgy; it is instead a classic sexist put-down, designed to shut women up and put them back “in their place”.

“Calm down, dear” is what women hear when we’re allegedly being “hysterical” or “overemotional”. It’s that tired old gender stereotyping, the sort that implies that if we can’t even keep our emotions in check, then we obviously aren’t cut out for the more serious male world of politics and debate.’’

While Cameron did not apologise and his aides downplayed the whole affair, it may be rationale to deem that in view of all the media scrutiny and obloquy it drew out, he will be measuring his words and their significance in the future.

Harriet Stowe once said; Women are the real architects of society. How, one might ask.

Women, by divine nature have been bestowed upon with this sole authority and capacity. It is a woman, who nutures a child in her womb and then brings him up, instills values in him while grooming him that directly affect his behaviour, ethos and mentality.

Future doctors, politicans, leaders, journalists etcetra – all constitute a people and are indispensable to the system of the society and world, and each one of them owes his existence to a woman.

The role of a woman  is instrumental in everything. Even a female who is neither schooled,  not married nor a mother, naturally yeilds strength and inspires admiration leave alone one that is given her right to education, choice, freedom, equality and life itself . To remind one of Fatima Jinnah’s role in Quaid-e-Azam’s life would suffice here also.

Thus a woman is the real architect, an irreplaceable pillar of the society.

It was not only to highlight sexism but to illuminate the difference in the wider picture, the juxtaposition of the two incidents in Pakistan’s Parliament and the UK’s House of Commons in this article. What distinguishes the separate countries of the two events from one another, was culture. A culture and society that shuns torpor, prompts introspection and welcomes a discourse; something we are clearly devoid of and replace by impassivity, disinterest about such little things, denialism and nothingness.

It is of paramount importance for Pakistani to realize that it is not a revolution they need but a collective, national socio-cultural evolution.

This verbal male chauvinism, pellucid in the aforementioned Urdu remark, is part of the labyrinth of a mindset and culture in Pakistan that eventually translates and actualizes into the web of repugnant traditions of Vani, Sawara, Karo-Kari etcetra. It is all inter-connected and must be clipped from the roots that are strengthened by how each individual in Pakistan waters them; through silence at the and by ignoring the smallest of its elements (phrases such as the aforementioned).

With the backing and espousing of generations of people of different thoughts and time, cultures flourish and characterize traditons and norms that later all of new eras dare not abandon even if logic dismisses them (traditions). Traditions and beliefs such as, assigning women a position in the community of a lowly figure with not much purpose in life and even little ability. (Due to which’s perception, such sayings and disgusting activities are born)

It is about time as Pakistan totters from crossroads to the brink of a now-or-never stage, that  we cultivate a new culture – for which each indvidual must cast his efforts; question doubtful and wrongly established practises, convention and mores. Adopt better ones, encourage others to.

As individuals come together to become a people, people make a society bound by a culture constructed by them, that society is the base of a nation and nations form countries thus it is dervied that if the people change, the country will inevitably similarly.

To redefine Pakistan in front of the world, Pakistanis must refine themselves and their institutions; the culture and society.

- Hafsa Khawaja

Pakistan and America: Relations Wrought Taut


With both Admiral Mullen and Secretary of Defense Panetta upbraiding Pakistan, particularly the ISI for its ‘’veritable arm’’ the Haqqani Network, the relations between the two countries have plunged into a state of decline.

While Americans suggest scourges for Pakistan’s perfidy with Congressman Ted Poe introducing the “Pakistan Accountability Act” and Senator Lindsey Graham calling for ‘all options’ to be considered for the ‘deceitful country’ (and clearly, what one extracts from his statements by reading between the lines is that he desires for an attack on Pakistan) – the Pakistani Government and Army have been unapologetic and dismissive of the accusations.

Reminding the world that Haqqani was once the blue-eyed boy of the US, as is the case with most of the fighters in Afghanistan of the Soviet War that the US had ’abandoned’ and left to and for the use of Pakistan’s Establishment.

(USA hasn’t placed the Haqqani Network under the list of terrorist organizations)

The entire situation seems precarious and what it holds and will evince at the end is left to speculations that can only be made on the basis of facts; the most significant of which is that both the United States and Pakistan are, as of yet, mutually dependent upon each other. Albeit, not equally.

Both have a set of choices to select from.

If Pakistan refuses to shun its links with the Haqqani Network as part of its Strategic Depth Policy (that seeks to ensure an Afghanistan with a Pro-Pakistan Government for various reasons that are part of an entirely new subject) or if US-Pak relations further degenerate in the future – America can:

1. Reduce or cut the aid it channels to it.

2. Increase drone attacks.

3. With the All-American raid in Abbottabad for Osama, the potentiality of other unilateral strikes and actions inside Pakistan can not be ruled out.

4. Economically assail; The United States has become Pakistan’s largest trading partner (To reward Pakistan for being an ally?) and can reduce this position by closing its markets for Pakistani goods.

5. Expand and apply other pressure tactics.

In case of Option.3 being carried out, one might predict that a decisive decision will be taken by Pakistan which may be a turning-point for the entire relation.

Why may that be, the reasons being that the Pakistani Army and Intelligence came under great censure after the May Raid, losing credibility in the eyes of many. A newspaper editor aptly remarked that what they hadn’t faced in the past 64 years (due to their ‘Holy Cow‘ status‘), the faced after that single raid.

Thus it is derived that they can not afford to come under that fire once again, it would be a great blow to their institution and all that it claims to stand for.

Secondly, the current climate of Anti-Americanism (that has bloated since the country joined the ‘War On Terror’ which many believe is solely ‘America’s war’ and blame for their country’s national, economic and political nosedive that occured after Pakistan’s engagement in the WoT) brimming with bellicosity in the wake of the charges hurled will force those in power in Pakistan to either retaliate or finish all connections with the ‘Great Satan’.

In face of which, USA might impose sanctions on Pakistan.

Coming back, Pakistan’s position presently and the factors that can determine its course of action lest the USA takes an unfavourable step, are excellently described and elucidated by Ex-CIA Officer Bruce Riedel in his new article :

‘Reality is less important than image in this war. The Army leadership also feels it can weather any blowback from Washington. The generals assume U.S. military aid will be cut or eliminated by Congress sooner rather than later, and they are confident that the Saudis and Chinese will fill the gap.

They also know NATO’s logistical supply line to Kabul runs through Karachi (more than half of everything NATO eats, drinks, and shoots arrives via Karachi despite intense efforts to find alternatives). They have leverage and they know it. And of course, they have the fastest-growing nuclear arsenal in the world with a developing tactical nuclear capability. They feel they hold a lot of aces, maybe more than they should. Cocky poker players are dangerous.’

Pakistan has also been extending its hand of friendship to Russia and especially Iran, which has manifestly irked the USA.

The importance of the NATO Supply Route that runs through Pakistan can be gauged from this:

Shifting supply lines elsewhere would substantially increase the cost of the war and make the United States more dependent on authoritarian countries in Central Asia,” reports Craig Whitlock for the Washington Post.

“With landlocked Afghanistan lacking seaports, and hostile Iran blocking access from the west, Pentagon logisticians have limited alternatives.” While Pakistan has not threatened closure, the shift in routes reflects deteriorating US-Pakistani relations: In 2009, about 90 percent of surface cargo passed through Pakistan; about half that has since been diverted through other countries to the north including Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.

 Ammunition or weapons are prohibited; shipping by air costs 10 times more than using roads through Pakistan. For the US, the new routes through multiple nations present new complications in logistics, diplomacy and its human rights objectives.

The conclusion is, the relationship between both countries is uncomfortable at its best but hard to wriggle out from, particularly for America due to the necessity and indispensability it (the relation)commands today in view of the leverage Pakistan has that Riedel mentioned and as Admiral Mullen pointed out:

‘A flawed and difficult relationship [with Pakistan] is better than no relationship at all.’

Will USA grant Pakistan a seat at the negotiating table in Kabul so that it is given a share of its stake and influence in Post-war Afghanistan for the purpose of which its Establishment pursues dubious strategies? Will Pakistan go after the Haqqani Network?

Or will some other deal between the two be sought? Only time can tell as relations between the two are wrought taut.

- Hafsa Khawaja

For Syria, It Shall Be Hamza Al-Khateeb!


This is Hamza Al-Khateeb, a 13 year-old Syrian boy who marched with his family in a rally to break the siege of the city of Daraa. On April 29th,  he was detained with hundreds of other Syrians during the massacre of Siada [ where citizens of Deraa were randomly killed by Syrian security forces] .

His whereabouts were unknown until 25th May, when his dead body was delivered to his family – swollen with bruises with countless marks of torture, his gentials cut off [ Its being said, he was shot after this brutality ] and disfiguired due to decay.


This is the video of his body [ Extremely graphic ] :

Hamza is one of the thousands murdered savagely by the Syrian Forces [ Which is almost a mafia system under the command of the Assad Family, their cronies and mainly Maher Al-Assad who heads the 4th Divison - the most ruthless of all ] to smother the rebellion that erupted in the country on 15 March 2011 as part of the Arab revolutions that raged into an inferno this year.


Beginning with laying sieges to cities; cutting of water and electricity in the city of Daraa along with confiscation of flour and food. [ Similar situations occured in Homs, Baniyas, Hama, Talkalakh, Latakia, the Midan and Duma districts of Damascus, and several other towns ] – Bashar’s regime expanded and ran a whole gamut of inhuman tactics from flagrant killings, detentions, piling up of dead bodies in refrigerators to myriad of cases of unimagineable barbarity.

Bashar, whose quite the chip of the old block , is like all other despots clinging onto authority and declaring the revolution as a ploy by ‘armed terrorist groups’ as both to justify the crackdown on the people and display the revolt which calls for his removal in their list of demands – as a threat to the world posed by ‘terrorists’ who might takeover if he leaves.

The people of Syria, Libya and Yemen need to be supported wholly in their fight for liberation against the savages that have been throttling them since ages and in their struggle for basic human rights, social justice, freedom of expression, action and the right to take back the power to rule their countries.

As for Syria, Mosa’ab Elshamy [ One of the prominent youth activists in Egypt who took part in the revolution and has been just released after being detained for protesting infront of the Israeli Embassy on Nakba Day] aptly put it :

‘ Tunisia, Mohamed Bouazizi. Egypt, Khaled Saeed. Syria, Hamza El Khateeb.’

DOWN WITH BASHAR THE BUTCHER!

 

~ Hafsa Khawaja

* Also, a thank you to @tweets4peace for helping me with this!

 —————————————————————————

 Updated: It surfaced yesterday that Shahd, a beautiful 5 year old Yemeni girl was martyred due to the attack on Alhasba.

Oh and, will the West that claims to be the torch-bearer of All-that-is-right-and-good please raise its voice against these Heads of States/terrorists too, on whose head they kept their hands as Godfathers?

Pakistan’s Fatal Revolution Viral


Having been dragged by the horses ridden by politicians and military despots through the mud for 63 years, the notion of a revolution has not failed to enter the mind of Pakistanis as a saw to cut and break free from this chain of humiliation manacling them.

Recently this feeling and thought has become stronger in Pakistan by the intensity of its pervasiveness fueled by the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt. Pakistanis reason the absolute and dire need of a revolution in their country by stating how either they’re in the same or worser conditions than that of the two Arab nations.

 

 

One might question them, have they followed the events or studied the situations in both the aforementioned countries? Egypt is under the tyrannical rule of an obstinate dictator since he assumed power on October 14, 1981.

With an already-imposed Emergency Rule since 1967, Mubarak exercised his totalitarian muscle a great deal by depriving Egyptians of their basic human rights, suspending their civil liberties, stunting their social growth, curbing any freedom especially freedom of expression by strict and savage means   with an era that ensued of fraudulent elections, inflation, poverty, political persecutions, unemployment, corruption and illegal arrests. Om id Dunya has been survivng under a brute.

Reflecting was the case in Tunisia under the grip of Ben Ali.

While inflation and poverty et al maybe the similarities between Pakistan and Egypt, there’s a visible contrast in between which includes the chiefly important political landscape and the Civilian-Military imbalance of power.

People in Pakistan demand a revolution but a revolution against what? A Government they themselves elected in 2008? What a farce!

 

 

If its to remove the ‘American Puppets’ that ‘have sold the nation’s dignity’, who elects them again and again after getting carried away in the flow of emotionally-charged election speeches of the puppets? The very Pakistani nation now rallying for an uprising!

Pakistan suffers and continues to do so but largely because of the nation itself (minus the years of the forcibly saddled authoritarian rulers to our backs).

With an attitude of placing petty allegiances to parties over the country, dangerous divisions into sects, ethnic separations, indifference towards the erosion of Pakistan’s heritage, abandonment of culture due to sweeping shame felt in owning it and a despicable and damaging ‘conspiracy mindset’ that is developing which ascribes anything that happens in the land of 796,095 kmof area as a work of ‘vile foreign forces’ – to rife dishonesty from the farmer to the Parliament and a frazzled moral and social fabric – Pakistan in no way can afford or requires a revolution with these  inadequacies.

The entire world has witnessed the surreal, perfect religious harmony amongst the Egyptian Muslims and Coptics during the January 25 revolt. While Muslims prayed, Christians formed a human ring around them for protection.

When the Muslim Brotherhood members raised Pro-Muslim slogans at Tahrir Square which implied that Egypt was for Muslims only, they were stopped by Egyptian Muslims who declared Muslim and Christians are all Egyptians and a new shout:

“Egyptian people here we stand,

Muslim Christian hand in hand!”

During the prayers at the Square, priests and imams prayed for Egypt together. When the Imam was leading the prayers, Christians’ repeated after him in louder voices so that all Muslims could hear.

Even gender boundaries transcended as women and men prayed together.

Can this ever be the case in Pakistan where there is a stark wave of subliminal intolerance being infused into even the minds of the educated? Had it been that Muslims and Christians had stood together to pray, the Mullahs would’ve raised the cry of blasphemy and a deluge of fatwas would’ve swept the country. Had they seen women praying with men, threats would’ve tumbled down upon all those who participated in it.

Egyptians showed their awe-inspiring sense of nationhood by forming committees to clear the areas where they protested every morning after millions had gathered there the night before.

Groups were organized to guard the museums and properties and possessions of people, while all those who were skilled in their professions came running to provide help and assistance to their fellow countrymen – such as the doctors who aided the injured freely.
Does Pakistan need a revolution to adopt this spirit?

Did not this nation pull down Musharraf?

We’re not worthy of a change with our stagnant ways which smell of stench.
And thats where and what we have to change.

With the nation sunk in disagreements and tiffs,  wide possibilities of religious exploitation leading to extremism, some insisting the system of democracy should continue and the others pressing on Khilafat to be installed, even if a revolution takes place – anarchy, looting, killing would envelop the country and all hell would break loose with the advent of a civil war.

Pakistan would fall apart if a revolution takes place.

The solution is to let the democratic system go on, no matter how defected it seems to be currently. It will naturally strengthen the vital organs of the state (Judiciary, Media etcetra) to an extent that they start ironing out the loopholes in the institution of democracy itself in Pakistan, clearing the path for it to operate as it should.

 The failure of individuals in the system to deliver should not make one ascribe those to the system.

Too many times in Pakistan’s history have democratic governments been overthrown and at the end, such a mess had been carefully crafted that it proved to be the perfect excuse for the boots to come marching in.

Systems can not be overhauled for individuals. Democracy is a culture along with being a system, that needs to be cultivated. It requires time which this nation, that has resisted years of several dictatorships, refuses to give.

To see how democracy functions if facilitated with patience and continuity, one must not look any farther than India.

The nation must also aim for unity, an evolution, an intellectual revolution and aspire to establish the values Jinnah and Iqbal had wanted for their Pakistan.

 

Pakistanis must change their attitudes and themselves along with rationally analysing the situations to bring about a difference in their country, for virals can never be the remedy for any ill, in this case, the ills of Pakistan.

- Hafsa Khawaja

From Fascination To Inspiration : What Tunisia’s Revolt Signifies & Teaches Us



 
Seldom does the world get to witness nations standing up to take hold of their country from tyrannical heads and their atrocious hands.

Recently it did, watching in fascination as Tunisians came out on the streets to revolt against the corrupt and autocratic government of Ben Ali, their President in power since 1987.
 


What eventuated this uprising in opposition of unemployment, inflation and for civil liberties that lead to Ben Ali absconding the country just after 29 days of unrest as a young, jobless man Muhammad Bouazizi.
 
International Business Times writes about him under the title  ‘The Story of Mohammed Bouazizi, The Man Who Toppled Tunisia’ :
 
“Mohamed Bouazizi was a 26-year-old Tunisian with a computer science degree.

Like millions of angry and desperate Tunisians, he faced the unpleasant combination of poor employment prospects and food inflation. Moreover, the Tunisian government was seen as corrupt and authoritarian.
By December 17, resentment against authorities has been brewing for a while.
To make ends meet, the unemployed Bouazizi sold fruits and vegetables from a cart in his rural town of Sidi Bouzid, located 160 miles from the country’s capital Tunis. He did not have a license to sell, but it was his sole source of income.

On December 17, authorities confiscated his produce and allegedly slapped his face.
Bouazizi became incensed.
                                                                                                                                                          

He then drenched himself in gasoline and set himself on fire outside the governor’s office. Bouazizi survived his initial suicide attempt. After being transported to a hospital near Tunis, he was visited by President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali before passing away on January 4.

 

 

After his suicide attempt, unrest broke out in Sidi Bouzid. The police cracked down on the protestors, which only fueled the movement. The revolt eventually spread to the capital city.”
 
For decades, many a nations under totalitarian regimes have eagerly fancied the idea of a revolution – waiting for the ‘right time’ and a leader to take them forward to actualize it but Tunisians have shown that when it comes to taking back the ownership of their country, no nation needs a leader rather their actions have asserted the reality that nations are their own leaders.
 
Those who had been following the unfolding of events in the Arab country since December had their thoughts about the marches, protests and riots dangling between doubts over their success yet the citizens of Tunisia proved that it is people like them who deserve a country and freedom – for they value and fight for it and in the end, the power and will of the people is what will always surface to reign high.


 
Award-winning columnist and an international public speaker on Arab and Muslim issues, Mona El-Tahawy has penned-down a notable piece on the happening in The Washington Post:
                                                                                                                                                              

For decades, a host of Arab dictators have justified their endless terms in office by pointing to Islamists waiting in the wings. Having both inflated the egos and power of Islamists and scared Western allies into accepting stability over democracy, those leaders were left to comfortably sweep “elections.”
                                                                                                                                                      

Ben Ali was elected to a fifth term with 89.62 percent of the vote in 2009.


All around him is a depressingly familiar pattern. Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi (68 years old) has been in power since 1969; Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh (64) has ruled since 1978 and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (82) since 1981. Algeria’s Abdelaziz Bouteflika (73) is a relative newcomer, having been in power only since 1999. Not so much fathers as grandfathers of their nations, these autocrats cling to office – and are increasingly out of touch with their young populaces.

No doubt, every Arab leader has watched Tunisia’s revolt in fear while citizens across the Arab world watch in solidarity, elated at that rarity: open revolution.”

This is not only a matter of much relevance and significance for Arabs but also countries like Pakistan, which today staggers towards the precipice of danger finding it hard to balance the burden of terrorism, inflation, poverty, rife corruption, institutional dysfunctions etc – hoisted on its back by years of military rule and political tug of wars for control of the state.
                                                                                                                                                           

One hopes that the result of the Tunisian rebellion and revolt is a domino effect. Are Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Syria or Pakistan next? After all, the nations of these countries do possess simmering feelings of frustration and have been forced to swallow too many bitter pills over the years.
                                                                                                                                                              

Every population is as capable as that of Tunisia to kick start a movement of dissent yet what most of them lack currently is the will, unity and valor of the Tunisians to exercise this, for which they must be saluted.
  
An Egyptian friend and youth pertinently comments on the whole situation:
                                                                                                                                                             

All we lack is the start. What started it in Tunisia is one of the most commonly incidents that you can see daily, a simple man burning himself up protesting for being unemployed, which led to one of the biggest protests in the Tunisian history…

We also need to realize that its our own countries not theirs (rulers), so every right in these countries is ours, not them being so ‘kind’ giving them to us. We should be the feared side.

While it may be too soon or facile to term this revolt a complete success, it has come to symbolize what can be labeled as an inspiration for countless countries and future order of events.
 

 Vive Le Tunisia!

 

- Hafsa Khawaja

Kashmir Bleeds, Does Anyone Heed?


*Published at Dissident Voice.

Befittingly termed once as ‘Heaven on Earth’, with millions martyred since the past 6 decades, thousands of half-widows, orphans and missing – Kashmir today is a Palestine-in-the-making of Asia.

As the Kashmir intifada continues, anyone keeping a keen eye on the serpentine course of events there is bound to be surprised as to why the coverage and attention of international media does not keep up with the importance and intensity of resistance to the Indian Occupation of the region?

[Read the precise history of the issue under the sub-title of 'Background of the Kashmir Conflict'.]

For the past six decades, Kashmir has hung in the region as a pendulum of conflict between two countries with only one demand of the Kashmiri people, Azadi or freedom from Indian Occuption and their right to self-determination.

It has been tried to stifle this voice of theirs by bullets, lynching, rape, arrests, arson and humiliation which are what solely today’s Kashmiri youth or the ‘Sang-baaz’ (Stonepelters) have grown up knowing as gruesome child-hood memories.

But what needs to be highlighted, is how the international community is turning a deaf ear to the cries of Kashmir today when they are ringing higher than ever.

 Aalaw (Meaning ‘call’ in Kashur), is a site set-up by ordinary Kashmiris to help show the ground-realities there. It has updated the list of killings in Kashmir since 11th June:

“Summer in Kashmir has been drenched in blood which witnessed killing of many civilians, mostly teenagers, allegedly in police and CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) action mostly since June.”

113 people have been murdered brutally and one can gage if this is the case for 4 months, what really has been happening in Kashmir for the past 63 years.

 

The atrocities in Kashmir can also be recognized by a data included by Pakistan’s Parliamenatary Committee on Kashmir a few years back :

HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS COMMITTED BY INDIAN TROOPS IN IOK

 
(FROM JANUARY 1989 TO FEBRUARY 2006)

Total Killings                                  90,776
Custodial Killings                            6,817

Civilians Arrested                        111,269

Houses/Shops Destroyed           105,143

Women Widowed                         22,371

Children Orphaned                     106,616

Women Molested                           9,637

(Source: All Parties Hurriyat Conference)

 

After much happening, recently the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon evinced his cognizance of the savagery in Kashmir by hesitatingly issuing a feeble statement (calling an “immediate end to violence” and pleading for “calm and restraint by all concerned”, thus equating the people of Kashmir with their oppressors)expressing concern over the situation there but by knwoingly not addressing India which should be diretly done as expected from the Head of an organization as the United Nations.

It is pertinent to mention here that Kashmiri population are only demanding that they should be given their rights of self determination under the UN Resolution. That leaves one to wonder what the purpose of the UN is if it lacks the will to exert pressure to execute the process defined under its own resolution leave alone stopping tyranny anywhere.

 

This dispute is also viewed as a possible cause of a future ‘nuclear clash’ between India and Pakistan therefore making the conflict a matter of international importance.

One would concur with what Ms.Maria Sultan wrote :

“The liberation movement is often depicted as a ‘terrorist’ militancy instigated primarily by Pakistan.”

It is doubtless that the foreign media, for a long period, has portrayed the freedom struggle of Kashmir wrapped in a dirty glaze of militancy and extremism (which is exactly what the oppressors in the case : India, have shown to be which would be similar to belieiing what Israel has to say about Palestine) showing the people of Kashmir to be terrorists funded by Pakistan which is certainly irrational to say the least.

 

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi stated at the UN:

“No one any longer can seriously believe … that Pakistan can orchestrate thousands of people…”

This time, the Intifida in Kashmir is not about men only but it involves women and children, armed with stones and sticks, stepping out to defy the curfew or protest.

 

The Sang-Baaz have taken to the streets and have become a single force mirroring the rise of the third Kashmiri generation in resistance to Indian Occupation.

Tariq Ali wrote a brilliant article ‘Not Crushed, Merely Ignored’  in July over the killings in Kashmir, him being in oblivion about them and the Foreign Media hypocrisy over it :

“….As far as I could see, none of the British daily papers or TV news bulletins had covered the stories in Kashmir; after that I rescued two emails from Kashmir informing me of the horrors from my spam box. I was truly shamed. The next day I scoured the press again. Nothing. The only story in the Guardian from the paper’s Delhi correspondent – a full half-page – was headlined: ‘Model’s death brings new claims of dark side to India’s fashion industry’. Accompanying the story was a fetching photograph of the ill-fated woman. The deaths of (at that point) 11 young men between the ages of 15 and 27, shot by Indian security forces in Kashmir, weren’t mentioned.

Later I discovered that a short report had appeared in the New York Times on 28 June and one the day after in the Guardian; there has been no substantial follow-up. When it comes to reporting crimes committed by states considered friendly to the West, atrocity fatigue rapidly kicks in.

An Amnesty International letter to the Indian prime minister in 2008 listed his country’s human rights abuses in Kashmir and called for an independent inquiry, claiming that ‘grave sites are believed to contain the remains of victims of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other abuses which occurred in the context of armed conflict persisting in the state since 1989. The graves of at least 940 persons have reportedly been found in 18 villages in Uri district alone.’

The figures provided by the IPTK are startling. It claims that the Indian military occupation of Kashmir ‘between 1989-2009 has resulted in 70,000+ deaths’. The report disputes claims that these killings are aberrations. On the contrary, they are part of the occupation process, considered as ‘acts of service’, and leading to promotion and financial reward (bounty is paid after claims made by officers are verified). In this dirty and enduring conflict, more than half a million ‘military and paramilitary personnel [more than the number of US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan combined] continue to act with impunity to regulate movement, law and order across Kashmir.”

 

 

M Yusuf Buch, a former adviser to the UN and former Pakistani ambassador wrote an excellent and a must-read piece on Kashmir under the heading of ‘India Fesering Wound In Kashmir’, starting from the beginning of the conflict, India’s reneges and failure to honor its pledges by Nehru, the response of the world to it to the recent-day events there :

[Excerpts;]

“The Kashmir dispute has persisted for more than six decades and, to put it simply, the world has become used to it. Second, the United Nations has been marginalised during the last two decades with the consequence that the Charter is beginning to be looked upon as almost an antique. Third, callousness, if not outright cynicism, has become the reserve fund of diplomacy. A blindness to human reality is reflected in the vocabulary employed when situations of international conflict are talked about. Two adjectives used when an indirect reference (a direct reference, mind you, would be frowned upon by India) is made to Kashmir: the adjectives: ‘historical” and ‘long-standing’. Factually, the adjectives are not wrong. But they come handy because by drawing a curtain over reality, they provide a moral justification for studied inaction.

We might interpose a question or two here. What is ‘historical’ about the young woman who has just been widowed and gang-raped? What is ‘long-standing’ about the elderly man whose only son, his sole support, has been killed? Again, what is ‘long-standing’ about the hordes of unarmed teenagers who are resorting to the practice of pelting the Indian occupation troops with stones in Srinagar and other cities

….. India stations more troops in Kashmir than the United States did or does in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Can this situation be dismissed as ‘historical’ and ‘long-standing’?

If it is being so dismissed at present, the dismissal is aided by the language employed. We are being told of an ‘insurgency’ in Kashmir. The term may not be inaccurate but it promotes a misperception. What is going on in Kashmir is not an insurgency against an authority that was once regarded as legitimate; it is a resistance to alien military occupation.

The uprising in Kashmir has been marked more than once by the entire male population of the cities (excepting only the aged, the sick and children) coming out together in the streets to demonstrate peacefully against India’s military presence in their homeland. Could such a pointer have been mistaken, or would it have been allowed to be mistaken, far less ignored, if it had happened in a Western country?”

It is visible that India has emerged as a vibrant and growing economy in Asia, offering much to the Western countries and this ‘E’ Reason is one of th major causes behind the almost non-existent standpoint on Kashmir of the ‘Superpowers’ and those countries that have claimed to be the torch-bearers of human rights previously. India is a much-needed ally of the USA in South Asia as a counterweight against China, which leaves the sensitive issue to be either vaguely or rarely addressed as to not miff them thus acquiescing with their ‘Atoot Ang’ farce.

Written back in 2005, the article titled ‘The Atoot Ang Farce’ points out :

“India has responded to this uncontrollable situation in three ways: it has isolated the occupied state by denying access to international human rights groups and media; it is perpetrating systematic atrocities in the form of collective punishment, mass killing, mass confinement, inhuman and degrading treatment, torture, starvation, molestation and rape – over 31000 women have been either molested or raped- arson, loot and custodial killings; facts are being distorted and the freedom movement is being propagated as terrorism with support from Pakistan. Indian media has helped its government in camouflaging the reality in Kashmir by churning out lies, fabrications, excuses, blames, abuses and myths.”

If not the International Community, one expects the foreign media to stop its selective coverage and come to show Kashmir as a disputed territory.

In today’s era has become a powerful instrument for sparking awareness in minds all over the world and a catalyst for setting the stage for a change. Its role in covering the diverse incidents of cruelties were vital in making the people and Governments watching them, imbued with the feeling of their moral responsibility to adopt a firm stance on such issues.

Also the Pakistani Media needs to outgrow its immature phase of developing , kicking up an unnecessary rumpus out of every political statement, but help divert the concentration of people towards burning subjects such as that of Kashmir which is as greatly related to Pakistan as it could be. The lack of media coverage from Pakistan’s side on the Kashmir Conflict is facilitating India to brand its oppression and gross human rights violations there as an  ‘internal matter.

Children as young as 8 are being killed in Kashmir, youthful and innocent Kashmiri girls are raped infront of their brothers and fathers yet there is no protest from the world , while when a woman is ordered to be stoned to death on the charges of adultery in Iran – even the First lady of France speaks up. People are not allowed to give blood to their injured or the dying loved ones in hospitals due to curfews. Where is the world on this? All countries that declare themselves to be champions of human rights, equality and freedom? Where are all the activists? Why this silence and bias?

 

Even Indian Civil Society Members have protested against the open genocide in Kashmir. Where is the Pakistani Civil Society? And it should be remembered that Kashmiris are against the Indian Government, not the people, who are in a state of amnesia regarding the promises their revered PM Nehru had made over Kashmir which they failed to fulfill. Mere rhetoric will not do, both Governments need to set Kashmir as a top priority as there can be no peace in Asia along with the establishment of its presence between the two nations, without this quagmire being solved in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiris.

 

KASHMIR BLEEDS, DOES ANYONE HEED?

 

- Hafsa Khawaja

Jinnah and Iqbal’s Support For The Palestinians


Little light is thrown upon or reflected on the views of the towering personalities who helped to shape the reality that came to be known as Pakistan, over the problem of Palestine. With the recent attack on the Freedom Flotilla by Israel which was bound to take aid for the people of Gaza and also had 3 Pakistanis amongst its passengers of 600, many people have wondered what relation does Pakistan share with Palestine?

In this regard, I decided to search and gather through sources the thoughts of Jinnah and Iqbal over this conflict in the Middle East.

The content below is from my collection of different articles on this topic:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

From Roedad Khan’s  ‘So many questions: so few answers’ :

“On May 25, 1945, Mr. Jinnah declared:

“If Britain goes back even on the plighted word of hers, which is the barest justice done to the Arabs, it will be against the deepest sentiments and views of the Muslims of the world and it will constitute a breach of the solemn assurances given to the Musalmans of India whose sympathy and support were secured for the prosecution of the war on the basis of this promise… It is too dangerous a game to play and a bait to get the support… of the Jews for electioneering purposes, for it will certainly alienate and exasperate the Muslim world and lead to most disastrous consequences”.

Addressing a mass meeting in Bombay on November 8, 1945, Mr Jinnah said:

“We Musalmans of India, are one with the Arab world on this issue. It is not a question of a National Home for Jews in Palestine. It is a question of Jews reconquering Palestine, which they had lost 2000 years ago, with the help of British bayonets and American money. I have no enmity against Jews. I know they were treated very badly in some parts of civilized Europe. But why should Palestine be dumped with such a large number of Jews? If Jews want to reconquer Palestine, let them face Arabs without British or American help.”



Referring to the efforts made by President Truman to put pressure on British government to allow 100,000 Jews into Palestine, Mr. Jinnah said,here comes the President of a great country thinking entirely of Jewry and the interests of Jews. President Truman had the effrontery to put pressure on the British government to allow a million Jews into Palestine, while he has agreed, after a long period of vacillation, to allow only a 100 Indians to migrate to the United States of America”.
When a section of the audience shouted, ‘shame’, ‘shame’, Mr Jinnah turned around and exclaimed:

“It is not shame. It is monstrous and criminal. Why doesn’t President Truman take one million Jews into USA? The reason is that the Jews do not want a National Home in Palestine. What they want is to reconquer Palestine, which they lost 2000 years ago, with the help of British bayonets and American money”.

Mr Jinnah then declared that if the British government tried to violate the solemn pledge given to the Arabs in Palestine and allow the Jews into Palestine, as suggested by President Truman, there would be no peace in the Middle East and the whole Islamic world would revolt. The consequences would be disastrous.

“The Muslims of India would not remain as mere spectators. They would help the Arabs in Palestine by all possible means”.

The Palestinian cause continued to be championed by Pakistan after the emergence of the new state. In an interview with Duncan Hooper, Reuters’ correspondent, Mr. Jinnah warned that, if Palestine was partitioned:

“There was bound to be the gravest disaster and unprecedented conflict, not only between the Arabs and the Authority that would undertake to enforce the Partition plan, but the entire Muslim world will revolt… Pakistan will have no other course left but to give its fullest support to the Arabs”.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

The following is from ‘Iqbal and Jinnah on Palestine’ by Dr. Ghulam Ali Chaudhry:

Muhammad Iqbal asked them a question, through the answer to it he well knew:

“If the Jew had a right to the soil of Palestine, Why can’t the Arab lay claim to Spain? No, British Imperialism has other aims. It’s no tale of citron, honey or dates.”


In poem after poem, Iqbal attacked the two Mandatories, Britain and France, for their ghastly deeds in Palestine and Syria.

In the 1930’s the situation in Palestine became increasingly alarming. The British adopted ruthlessly repressive measures to quell Arab opposition, and the result was a general revolt. When in July 1937 the Royal Commission under Lord Peel recommended partition and further Jewish immigration, the whole world of Islam was left aghast.

Miss Farquharson of the National League of England requested Muhammad Iqbal to express his views on these shocking recommendations. Writing to her on 20 July 1937, he said:

We must not forget that Palestine does not belong to England. She is holding it under a mandate from the League of Nations, which Muslim Asia is now learning to regard as an Anglo-French institution invented for the purpose of dividing the territories of weaker Muslim peoples. Nor does Palestine belong to the Jews who abandoned it of their own free will long before its possession by the Arabs. Nor is Zionism a religious movement…. Indeed the impression given to the unprejudiced reader is that Zionism as a movement was deliberately created, not for the purpose of giving a National Home to the Jews but for the purpose of giving a home to British Imperialism on the Mediterranean littoral.

“The Report amounts, on the whole, to a sale under duress to the British of the Holy Places in the shape of the permanent mandate which the Commission has invented in order to cover their imperialist designs. The price of this sale is an amount of money to the Arabs plus an appeal to their generosity and a piece of land to the Jews. I do hope that British statesmen will abandon this policy of actual hostility to the Arabs and restore their country to them.”

Allama Muhammad Iqbal had insistently struck in his work this same note of mistrust of the presiding powers of the present-day world and prescribed this same remedy of self-reliance for the Muslim individual and the Muslim community. He hadn’t lived to see his dream of Pakistan come true or to watch the vile producing the last bloody act of the tragedy in Kashmir and Palestine. 

Allama Muhammad Iqbal passed away on 21 April 1938 but his call rang on through the Muslim soul.

 __________________________________________________
[Continued passages from Dr. Ghulam Ali Chaudhry's work]
 
On 15 October 1937, in the course of his presidential address to the All-India Muslim League Session at Lucknow, Muhammad Ali Jinnah said:
  

“May I now turn and refer to the question of Palestine? It has moved the Mussalmans all over India most deeply. The whole policy of the British Government has been a betrayal of the Arabs, from its very inception. Fullest advantage has been taken of their trusting nature. Great Britain has dishonoured her proclamation to the Arabs, which had guaran-teed them complete independence for the Arab homelands and the formation of an Arab Confederation under the stress of the Great War.
After having utilized them, by giving them false promises, they installed themselves as the Mandatory Power with that infamous Balfour Declaration, which was obviously irreconcilable and incapable of simultaneous execution.
Then, having pursued the policy to find a national home for the Jews, Great Britain now proposes to partition Palestine, and the Royal Commission’s recommendation completes the tragedy. If given effect to, it must necessarily lead to the complete ruination and destruction of every legitimate aspiration of the Arabs in their homeland — and now we are asked to-look at the realities! But who created this situation? It has been the handiwork of and brought about sedulously by the British statesmen … I am sure I am speaking not only of the Mussalmans of India but of the world; and all sections of thinking and fair-minded people will agree, when I say that Great Britain will be digging its grave if she fails to honour her original proclamation, promises and intentions — pre war and even post-war — which were so unequivocally expressed to the Arabs and the world at large.
I find that a very tense feeling of excitement has been created and the British Government, out of sheer desperation, are resorting to repressive measures, and ruthlessly dealing with the public opinion of the Arabs in Palestine. The Muslims of India will stand solid and will help the Arabs in every way they can in the brave and just struggle that they are carrying on against all odds.”

 

On 26 December 1938, in his presidential address to the All-India Muslim League at Patna, Muhammad Ali Jinnah declared:

“I know how deeply Muslim feelings have been stirred over the issue of Palestine. I know Muslims will not shirk from any sacrifice if required to help the Arabs who are engaged in the fight for their national freedom. You know the Arabs have been treated shamelessly — men who fighting for the freedom of their country, have been described as gangsters, and subjected to all forms of repression. For defending their homelands, they are being put down at the point of the bayonet, and with the help of martial laws. But no nation, no people who are worth living as a nation, can achieve anything great without making great sacrifices, such as the Arabs of Palestine are making. All our sympathies are with those valiant martyrs who are fighting the battle of freedom against usurpers. They are being subjected to monstrous injustices which are being propped up by British Imperialism with the ulterior motire of placating the international Jewry which commands the money-bags…”

Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah died with a thorn in his heart.

For barely two weeks before he passed away on 11 September 1948, he said in his Eid-ul-Fitr message on 27th August 1948:

“My Eid message to our brother Muslim States is one of friendship and goodwill. We are all passing through perilous times. The drama of power politics that is being staged in Palestine, Indonesia and Kashmir should serve an eye opener to us. It is only by putting up a united front that we can make our voice felt in the counsels of the world.

Let me, therefore, appeal to you–in whatever language you may put, when the essence of my advice is boiled down, it comes to this–that every Mussalman should serve Pakistan honestly, sincerely and selflessly.”

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

In solidarity and support with the Palestinian people, Pakistan stands with you.

- Hafsa Khawaja

The Burqa and Burqini Threat


 

 

So the French Parliament finally passed the law against the burqa, igniting many controversies and anger from the Muslim community. France is home to Europe’s biggest Muslim minority but the sight of fully-veiled women remains rare. Only 1,900 women wear a niqab, 90 percent of them under 40, according to interior ministry estimates.President Nicolas Sarkozy set the tone in June when he declared the burqa “not welcome” in France.
 
The French government is concerned over the burqa as they believe it is threatening their ‘values’. The point lies, isn’t France supposed to be secular? Tolerant of all religions and the people who follow the prescribed practises of their faith?
 
Even some Muslims second them,  they acknowledge the Quran preaches modesty, but they believe that it doesn’t say that you have to cover your face. This is not a requirement of Islam or the Quran according to them, also believing that the burqa is giving birth to radical Islam.                   

                                                                                                                                         
How can one determine whether all women who wear it are forced to wear it?
Though it can not be denied that many women are forced or dictated by their husbands or men of their house and their society to wear the burqa but every woman who wears a burqa anywhere in the world can certainly not be classified as one being oppressed to wear it. Muslim women do have the free will to decide what they want and alot of women who wear the abaya, burqa or niqab, wear it on the basis of their free will.                                                                                         

                                                      
The second point given by those Muslims in regard of their support for the ban is that the Quran preaches modesty but it isn’t in the Quran or Islam to cover the face or wear the burqa. One of the major reasons that they feel the burqa should not be considered related to religion is that it is not among the 5 pillars of Islam. This is absolutely absurd.. The 5 pillars of Islam are indeed an integral part of a Muslim’s life but so are Hadith and Sunnah. Why are Muslims  forbidden from committing adultery or ordered to help the destitue ? These may not be part of the pillars of Islam but part of the Quran.                                                                                                                                       

Islam may not preach the covering of the face but as there are 72 sects in Islam so are there numerous schools of thought in it. Each follows practices and traditions that they have derived from their interpretation of the Quran. Some consider the burqa as a necessity and entwined with the sacredness and sacrosanctity of religion.
Such sects and schools of thought can not be ignored in any country.

Wearing a burqa does not mean that one promotes radical Islam or the ‘Islam’ of the militants. This is sheer bias and discrimination.
How is France threatened by the burqa which is worn by a mere 1,900 women of the Muslim majority that resides there.

Columnist Masooda Bano once wrote an article in ‘The News’ that how would we feel if French women came around our streets and roads wearing mini-skirts, wouldn’t we ban them from this? For it will destroy our culture. This made me muse but after alot of pondering, I came to the conclusion that mini-skirts are fashion accessories not associated with religion as in the case of the burqa, which is considered a symbol of religious holiness.

Leaving alone the ungraspable problem of France with the burqa, it has already banned the hijab from being worn in schools etc in 2004. In regard of that the Human Rights Watch stated that the law is “an unwarranted infringement on the right to religious practice”.

Exactly what threat or fear does the wearing of hijab cause?
The leader of Sarkozy’s right-wing party in parliament, Jean-Francois Cope, has already presented draft legislation that would make it illegal for anyone to cover their faces in public on security grounds.

The Netherlands and Austria are considering a ban on the full veil, while Denmark said it would limit the use in public of the burka and niqab although stopping short of an outright ban.

The question is not only about the burqa but religious tolerance. It’s about all other forms of practices that are associated with religion. The veil exists both in Christianity and Judaism. Is that a ‘threat’ to French ‘values’ too? Will they be banned too?

Ironically, freedom of religion was one of the 17 points in the ‘Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen’ demanded and formed after the French Revolution stated as:

4. Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights. These limits can only be determined by law.

5. Law can only prohibit such actions as are hurtful to society. Nothing may be prevented which is not forbidden by law, and no one may be forced to do anything not provided for by law.

10. No one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions, including his religious views, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.”

As in Point no. 4,  any action which does not harm anyone is free to be practised by anyone. So on what grounds of harm or threat is the hijab or burqa?

Point no.10 is the most significant for the arguments in favour of the hijab and burqa, that no one shall be shackled on the basis of their religion in case it does not disturb public order.

It should be known to France, that the burqa is not a tradition or merely a culture but part of the religious culture of the second largest religion of this world, Islam. Religion is a matter of paramount importance, respect and sacredness.  And Islam is not just a religion but a way of life.

Freedom of religion is also enshrined in the French Constitution. The question arises? Where is the implementation of this?

 One can not force someone to draw a veil and neither can someone force someone to abandon it.

 

Moreover, France also seems to disrelish the ‘Burqini‘ , wearing which seems in no manner as threatening, an act of defiance or transgression of French values. It is a mere dress that Muslim women chose to wear to preserve and maintain their circle of decency that they must. 

“It was described as the perfect solution for Muslim women who want to swim but are uncomfortable about “revealing” bathing suits.”

The afore-mentioned lines are the only reason behind the Burqini. In what way does it affront the French? Why are those who wear it, disgracefully thrown out of pools or reprimanded?

Isn’t it usual for a person to have his reservations, aversions or opinions about certain things? If indeed some women do not wish to wear the Bikni or expose their faces and head by wearing the Burqa and Hijab to guard and follow their Islamic values, why is it deemed anomalous and shunned?

 

 

Had it not been for Islam being associated with these two dresses, one is left to think if the Burqa and Burqini had been show-cased at the Paris Fashion Week as an adornment for beautification or style , would they have still been banned or become the vogue? It is without any doubt, that this ban is a strangulation of freedom and an instrument for alienation.

 

France must remember that any proposed ‘liberation’  (that they base these bans on : stating that they are ‘liberating’ Muslim women ) can never be imposed on people. It is an oppression in its own right.

 

The French banned the burqa, the Swiss the minarets. It is even reported that some countries are musing over banning halal food.  These countries claim to be the torch-bearers of tolerance, human rights and freedom and development but what we see from the mind-set of their Governments is the portrayal of narrow-mindedness, hypocrisy and arrant ignorance of the basic rights of humans and disrespect for cultural and religious diversitywhich has sprung from their misunderstanding and wrong interpretation of Islam. Not only are they closing in on a peaceful practise but displaying discrimination and prejudice against a religion and the Muslims community. It is a shame and an out-right example of the growing Islamophobia in European nations.

- Hafsa Khawaja

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