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It is time to stand up and be counted!

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    It is time to stand up and be counted!

    Here is the editorial from thefridaytimes!

    As I read this, it is essentially a warning for the moderate, sensible people to stand up to what Najam calls "Such is the power of the terrorist in Pakistan. The elements that the state has unleashed on the nation over the past two decades now threaten its very existence".
    Greater challenge at home
    Najam Sethi's

    E d i t o r i a l

    On June 11, Muhammad Yusuf, convicted two years ago of blasphemy by a sessions court, was shot five times in the chest with a .30 handgun at Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore. The next day, the press reported that the gun was allegedly brought into the prison by one of the jail staff and given to a prisoner on death row. The said prisoner didn’t have the stomach for it, so he passed the gun on to a fellow-convict, Tariq Mota of Gowalmandi, Lahore, a member of the banned extremist outfit, Anjuman-e-Sipah-e-Sahaba. Tariq, after killing Yusuf, shouted “Allah-o-Akbar” and declared that he had done the deed to win eternal salvation.

    Reports in the press say that the sessions judge who gave Yusuf the death sentence in the first place was a close relative of General Zia-ul-Haq and had made it clear during the trial that he was moved more by religious passion than solid evidence. Yusuf had appealed the sentence in the High Court and his case was pending. Since there were some serious flaws in the earlier judgment, legal experts had opined that his sentence would be set aside. Unfortunately, some newspapers began calling him kazzab (pretender) even before he was convicted and have continued to label him thus after his murder. All this before his guilt could be conclusively proved at the High Court.

    A few days before Yusuf’s murder, on June 7, a group of lawyers and mullahs nearly came to blows in the Supreme Court. The Court was hearing a petition filed by the United Bank Limited against a 1999 verdict banning bank interest. Eminent lawyers Raja Akram and Raza Kazim appeared for UBL while Ismail Qureshi of the Jamaat-e-Islami represented the party defending the 1999 verdict. In arguing their case, the former quoted verses from the Quran. To this, the clerical crowd raised objections saying Raja Akram was not employing the “right accent” when quoting from the Quran. They also took exception to the presence in court of Dr Rashid Jallundhuri, a scholar of Islam. Qazi Hussain Ahmad of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Engineer Salimullah of the JUP (N), ex-convict Maj-General (retd) Zaheerul Islam Abbasi, and Maulana Allah Wasaya were also present. The defendants’ lawyer Ismail Qureshi also protested the removal of Justice Taqi Usmani from the Bench. Justice Usmani had been part of the court consensus against riba in 1999. Matters came to a head and the assistants of both sets of lawyers came to blows. The honourable court warned the mischief-makers but took no action, clearly embarrassed by the presence of a powerful religious pressure group in the court.

    It has also come to light recently that of the 12 high-profile cases of sectarian violence, none was brought before the anti-terrorist courts after the expiry of the one-month deadline set for the production of the accused belonging to the banned Anjuman-e-Sipah-e-Sahaba and Sipahe-e-Muhammad. Earlier, Pakistan’s most notorious sectarian killer Riaz Basra was killed in a “police encounter”, which many analysts thought was stage-managed to avoid bringing the case to court. The reason for this was not only that the police usually fail to investigate the case effectively but that the judges at the lower courts are subject to threats from religious organisations. Scores of highly qualified and public-spirited doctors have been killed in Karachi by the religious terrorists. Despite pledges of tough action, the killings have continued and some medical practitioners have quietly left Pakistan because they know the state’s writ does not extend to those who strike terror in the heart of the nation. Even police officers have been quoted in the press as saying that they cannot stand up to the terrorists because the state is unable to protect them. Interior Minister General (retd) Moinuddin Haider was the only member of General Musharraf’s government who chose to call a spade a spade and spoke out against the religious mafias that run riot in Pakistan. He was warned of dire consequences by many recognized clerical bodies. His brother was then cruelly done to death in Karachi. General Musharraf himself was threatened with physical removal by Maulana Akram Awan of the Tanzim-al-Ikhwan in 2001.

    Such is the power of the terrorist in Pakistan. The elements that the state has unleashed on the nation over the past two decades now threaten its very existence. The economy is starved of investments, which have dried up in the face of runaway terrorism in Karachi, Pakistan’s industrial and commercial hub. Wary investors euphemistically call this terrorism “Pakistan’s unsatisfactory law and order situation”. The fallout of the 1999 anti-riba verdict of the Supreme Court Appellate Bench compounds the threats that booby-trap the national economy.

    The groundswell of support for General Pervez Musharraf when he first came to power in 1999 had sprung from the citizen’s desire to see the military putting an end to Pakistan’s internal anarchy. Unfortunately, state and society have both become more undermined since 1999 and the country is clearly unable to withstand external challenges while the government is unable to protect it from internal dangers. As the Musharraf government faces off with India, it would do well to remember that the greater challenge is at home.

    I agree... Even if they are not terrorists, they flare up when someone speaks against their religion... This is one area where they fail to control their tempers and think that unless they kill the other person, they would not be 'bakshed'... They have no right to take the law into their own hands but I also believe that in a society like this, the only thing they fear is the armed forces, and the armed forces must use this fear to keep a check on them, a stern check...

    [This message has been edited by Spock (edited June 13, 2002).]


      I am glad to hear that from you, Spock since you are living in Pakistan!. The least we who live outside can do is stand up and state that calling each other Kafir, and outdoing each other on who is more religious is just not sensible anymore. We have to be more tolerant!


        Well, generally the Pakistani abroad are educated and having lived abroad gives them a better point of view of what minorities in Pakistan would feel like... Sadly most people in Pakistan are totally unaware of this experience, and maybe because of this they have been very untolerant... The harsh and racist attitude towards Afghanis was one such example, but lets hope they learn...