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Fundamentalism takes first toll on women: scholar

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    Fundamentalism takes first toll on women: scholar

    MUMBAI: ``Women can go out freely in cities like Karachi and Lahore and girls can go to college in Pakistan. But they may not enjoy this freedom if fundamentalism grows,'' says Ishtiaq Ahmed, professor in Stockholm University who has written books on Pakistan.

    Mr Ahmed, who was in Mumbai last week, said women were the first victims of fundamentalism as was seen from the treatment meted out to them by Taliban. ``If the influence of fundamentalism grows, women will be confined to the private sphere. I am not saying this will happen. But the danger is there," he said while talking to The Times of India News Service.

    He said Turkey had introduced many reforms which benefited women and fundamentalists were trying to destabilise the regime there. Women in Turkey enjoy more rights than even those in the West. For example, if a divorced woman objects, her husband is not allowed to marry another woman for seven years.

    Mr Ahmed, a liberal who was born in Lahore in 1947, is currently doing research on `Islam and human rights: a comparative study of Turkey, Egypt and Pakistan.' He said in Pakistan many murders took place because of polygamy, while society does not accept having more than one wife.

    He said the American Dulles doctrine was partly responsible for the rise of fundamentalism in Pakistan. Under this doctrine the United States used religious forces as part of its design to combat communism.

    Pakistani politicians demonised India for their own ends, wanting to avoid elections in the early years of the country. Pakistan was an accident of history and many of these politicians did not have a constituency when they got power.

    They were using religion but did not want to impose a fundamentalist state but then Gen. Zia-ul-Haq came and introduced Islamic laws. Mr Ahmed's doctoral thesis is on `The concept of an Islamic state: an analysis of the ideological controversy in Pakistan.' It is not disrespectful to religion but questions the basis of using religion for the formation of a state.

    Mr Ahmed said there were different identities in Pakistan and there was a lot of similarity of cultures between India and Pakistan. That was why Zee TV was extremely popular in Pakistan. Music programmes like Antakshari of Anu Kapoor and Sonu Nigam were watched avidly there.

    He said he had firm faith in establishing friendship with India. There is so much common between the two countries. ``I wrote to Krishen Chander, the noted Urdu writer, in Mumbai in 1977 as I liked his latest short story and got a beautiful reply,'' he said.

    After India and Pakistan tested their nuclear devices last year, sitting in Stockholm he set up a network through the Internet of an organisation called Pakistanis for peace and alternative development. It was joined by 205 people from different fields, including Pervez Hoodbhoy, the nuclear scientist. Ahimsa, non-violence, he said was a common heritage of South Asia and it should be promoted.

    He said Islam should serve to maintain high morality and not justify criminality as was being done. Democracy, he said, did not take roots in Pakistan, partly because it had no history of a long grassroots struggle. India, on the other hand, had institutionalised liberal democracy, he said.

    #2
    >>Women can go out freely in cities like Karachi and Lahore and girls can go to college in Pakistan. But they may not enjoy this freedom if fundamentalism grows,'' says Ishtiaq Ahmed,

    What fundamentalism??? Did he mean if Islam grows??

    >> He said Turkey had introduced many reforms which benefited women …
    Like what??

    >>Mr Ahmed, a liberal who was born in Lahore in 1947, is currently doing research on `Islam and human rights: a comparative study of Turkey, Egypt and Pakistan.'

    That should be The CLULTURE of those countries and human rights.

    >> Pakistan was an accident of history and many of these politicians did not have a constituency when they got power.

    Hmmm…did he say that or your view?

    >> Mr Ahmed said there were different identities in Pakistan and there was a lot of similarity of cultures between India and Pakistan. That was why Zee TV was extremely popular in Pakistan. Music programmes like Antakshari of Anu Kapoor and Sonu Nigam were watched avidly there

    What is he trying to say here?

    >> He said he had firm faith in establishing friendship with India.
    This will take time.

    >> Democracy, he said, did not take roots in Pakistan
    True.

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