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Posts Tagged ‘PML-N’

On Wednesday 19th May 2010, the Lahore High Court, famous for acting as a “moral brigade” rather than judiciary, once again passed a strange order to ban Facebook across Pakistan on a petition of Muslim Lawyers Forum. The demand for blocking of the social media site came after it refused to remove certain pages displaying Prophet Muhammad’s cartoons.

This order was passed against the request of the government and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority that controversial pages of Facebook were already being blocked and there was no reason to block entire social media website which has over 2 million Pakistani users.

Few months back Lahore High Court took suo-moto notice of album of a popular female singer and declared her songs to be ‘vulgar’. This was followed by Chief Justice Lahore High Court’s remarks that Hindus were financing the terrorism in Pakistan which attracted protests from Hindu minority of Pakistan. This mixing of religion in to matters of state is opposite to the judgment of the Bangladesh’s Supreme Court which imposed ban on religious parties to take part in politics.

The court order to ban entire social media site is not only unreasonable but amounts to restrict the freedom of expression of which judiciary is a guardian. It also reflects the mindset and strong inclination of present superior judiciary towards right wing religious fundamentalist groups which can easily get ‘desired justice’.

JI, a religious fanatic group which is strong supporter of present judiciary and was successful to get its members recruited in superior judiciary after restoration of Chief Justice is organizing the protests to ban all ‘Western Infidel’ websites including Facebook,Google, YouTube and Twitter etc. The wish for a ‘stone age’ as termed by Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi, a youth leader. The Islamic Lawyer forum which filed the petition to block Facebook itself is a lawyers wing of JI fanatics.

The most interesting fall out of the court order is the strong reaction of Pakistani urban middle class youth, which widely uses Facebook for social interaction. The same youth was the most active supporter of movement for restoration of present judiciary. They are demanding from the government to immediately lift the blockage of Facebook website.

One of the protesters and an active blogger/civil society activist Dr. Awab Alvi writes ; “As members of civil society and professionals who depend on social media networks for our daily communications, we demand the immediate restoration of Facebook and an end to Internet censorship by the Government of Pakistan”.

But if government does lifts the ban on this demands, it will be disobeying the court orders.

Should not it be a protest against judiciary instead which has allied itself with religious fanatics and is acting as ‘Moral Brigade’ rather than an institution to dispense justice?

Historically religious groups in Pakistan have been providing support to military dictators and been associated with intelligence agencies to bring down the elected governments. After removal of Pervez Musharaf, the military establishment decided not to interfere directly in political issues. Certain sections of establishment and religious groups which are eager to remove present regime have associated themselves with judiciary.

Many critics blame that Lawyers movement which was initiated by lawyers and civil society was later hijacked by PMLN, PTI and JI and judiciary is under strong influence of right wing fundamentalist groups. The recent recruitments in superior judiciary are also being criticized as being from a certain ‘mind set’ and comprise of judges from certain political and religious parties.

As the conflict between PPP government and Judiciary is becoming intense, the judiciary is gathering the support of religious groups. Recently Qazi Hussain Ahmad, the former head of JI announced to get SC judgments implemented through ‘street power’. Yeah, now judiciary needs religious goons to get its orders implemented – though no suo-moto by good Chief Justice asking Mr. Qazi that who appointed him the ‘bailiff’ of SC!

In order to retain the support of religious fundamentalist groups, judiciary would have to deliver more judgments like ban on Facebook as per fanatics demands. This seems to be just the beaning as the demands of religious fanatics would not anything less than turning Pakistani society in to Taliban style Emirates.

As Supreme Court declared in its recent judgment to be custodian of imaginary ‘basic features’ of constitution of Pakistan and judging the righteousness of elected representatives, closer cooperation between fundamentalist and judiciary is inevitable. The top leaders of lawyer’s movement like Ali Ahmad Kurd are openly confessing that this is not the judiciary for what we struggled.

But where do the Urban middle class youth, which worked tirelessly for restoration of judiciary fits in this whole set up? Would they be able to digest the fanatic’s demands? They do not want to loose the freedom of expression and reject the ban on Facebook. They do not want court of Qazi to ban their favorite singer but they are demanding from government to lift the blockage of social media site.

Protesting against government while the ban is ordered by a ‘holly lordship’ of Lahore High Court is sign of their confusion.

In fact they are still unable to accept the fact that Lawyers movement was hijacked by right wing fundamentalist groups and present judiciary is composed of and an ally of religious fanatics. The fact they should have been realized when Supreme Court slept over the so called ‘Missing Persons’ issue, 12th May probe and countless other slogans raised during lawyers movements.

The only hope which still keeps them away from straight away protesting against ‘moral policing’ of judiciary and its partial judgments and instead make the government a scapegoat is that one day judiciary will boot “evil” Zardari out from his office. But what they are unable to understand is that it wont be possible unless a strong alliance of religious fanatics is there to support judiciary. As has been a custom when we underwent the military dictatorship – judicial dictatorship wont work differently.

What will be the cost of that alliance doesn’t need Einstein to figure out – and that is civil society itself. More influence of religious fanatics will hurt these urban middle class youth, who are not willing to compromise on their liberties but confused and unable to face the reality.

Can the civil society and urban middle class youth be part of the Mullah-Judiciary alliance against PPP government? They must ask themselves. It is up to them to decide whether they want an other repeat of notorious Ziaist era when general associated religious fanatics in power game. The Mullah-Judiciary alliance is going to be much more disastrous for civil society than what we have experienced in past.

Ahmad Nadeem Gehla

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The recent political environment in the country brought forth another issue that we have been ignoring for a long time. The issue of renaming NWFP to Pakhtunkhwa. Some very interesting debates took place on social networking sites and thus I had to write this blogpost to clear some misunderstandings and state some facts. Are dirty politics being played to arouse public sentiments, that may not be even legtimate?

Is it a genuine, legitimate concern of a people who fear their status and interests as equal citizens being seriously diluted in a newly-named province?

There is a lot of confusion being spread about the name. Every Tom, Dick and Harry has been proposing the most unreasonable (read:stupid) names as the inhabitants of NWFP are looking towards the top political leadership to finally name their province which represents their true identity, and why not? If Punjab, Sind and Baluchistan represent majority ethnic backgrounds of Punjabis, Sindis and Baluchis, why only Pashtuns have to bear this brunt of being politicized about the very name of their province

Some facts to have to be kept in mind, whilst making unreasonable suggestions:

  • • 1998 census showed that 73.9 per cent of NWFP’s population spoke Pashto
  • • The census figures for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) are even more revealing in terms of the Pakhtun identity of the population. In 1998 an overwhelming 99.1 per cent declared Pashtu as their mother tongue
  • • In opposing the renaming of the province to Pakhtunkhwa, only two parties naming Pakistan Muslim League (N) and Pakistan Muslim League (Q) are driven by the fear of losing votes in certain non-Pashto-speaking areas.
  • • If democratic norms are to be followed, then the wishes of the majority need to be respected in the renaming. The NWFP Assembly, reflecting the will of the people, a passed resolution in favour of Pakhtunkhwa by majority vote in November 1997
  • • Pakhtun are the 2nd largest ethnic group of Pakistan after Punjabis.
  • Most of them leaders of Hazara agitation have lost the last elections (of the nine leaders leading the protests, six lost the last elections, mostly to the PML-N). Is this movement politcally motivate? OF COURSE. WHO WONT WANT TO AROUSE PUBLIC SENTIMENTS ON THE BASIS OF ETHNICITY? Gohar Ayub ? (LOL, son of a dictator, who made one Unit, GA defended one unit all his life and now protests for a new province?)
  • 7 of the total 19 chief ministers this province has had since independence, have been from Hazara, from Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan to Sardar Mahtab Ahmad Khan Abbasi. Remember any public agitation in Pashtu-speaking areas for why a “Hazarawal” was ruling a predominantly Pashtun province, 73.9 per cent of the population that is?
  • Names reflect identity and if names are not according to your ethnic background, you will be unfairly treated, lose your identity? On principle, people who find it hard to live with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa but happily lived with Abbottabad, which is named after Major Abbott (1849-1853), Haripur, which took its name from Ranjit Singh’s commander in chief Hari Singh Nalwa in 1822 or Mansehra, said to have been named after another Sikh commander, Man Singh.
  • But now the fire has been ignited, by these opportunist politicians, whats the solution?

REFERENDUM : The situation created in Hazara must be ignored and fuel must not be added to fire, a referendum must take place, which would again reflect what the majority represent, but would silence some guns who speak only to shine their politics!

Controversies would erupt if Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan were to be renamed today. The number of Saraiki-speakers in Punjab are 17.36 per cent of its population, compared to 75.23 Punjabis; in Sindh only 59.73 per cent of the population speaks Sindhi, while 21.05 per cent speaks Urdu; 6.99 per cent speak Punjabi and 4.19 per cent Pashto; in Balochistan, not more than 54.76 per cent of the population name Balochi as their mother tongue, compared to 29.64 per cent naming Pashto, 5.58 per cent Sindhi, 2.52 per cent Punjabi, and 2.42 per cent Saraiki. In fact, Pashto-speakers in NWFP and Fata form the largest group of a single ethnicity in any province in Pakistan. Based on the precedents set in naming other provinces, what names should be given to NWFP?

Ignoring the aspirations of the Pakhtun people (15.42 per cent), who are the second-largest ethnic group in Pakistan after Punjabis (44.15 per cent) and refusing to provide them an identity in the renaming of their province, would be both undemocratic and unjust. Especially if it comes from a party whose stronghold is Punjab and has been labelled to Punjabize all of Pakistan.

The earliest available historical proof is Akhund Darweza’s (d. 1638) Makhzanul Islam (written between 1603 and 1612). A verse in this book reads: “Pakhtunkhwa pa misal shpa wa, dai deewa wo pa andher ke” (Translation: Pakhtunkhwa was like a night and he [Pir Baba Syed Ali Termezi] was like a candle).

Dr. A. H. Dani, a well known historian and archaeologist, presently the Director of the Islamabad-based Center for the Study of the Civilizations of Central Asia, told Dawn that Pakhtunistan is a political name but Pakhtunkhwa is not. “Culturally there is no doubt that the land was called Pakhtunkhwa in Pushtu literature since 15th century (we have a trace of literature since that time only). The term has been applied for both tribal and settled areas, he added.

Similarly, the often-quoted two lines of a poem by Ahmad Shah Abdali (1723-1773), the Founding Father of Afghan state, clearly mention Pakhtunkhwa as the land of the Pashtoons or Pakhtuns. Here are the lines:

Da Dehli takht herawoma che rayad kram Zama da khpale Pakhtunkhwa da ghro saroona
(Translation: I forget my Dehli throne when I recall the mountain peaks of my own Pakhtunkhwa).

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