A few months back I was in USA to meet with some family and aunts. During this time I spent a lot of time with my cousins. When we were told there was some traditional Indian Bhangra event us girls decided it would be fun and decided to check it out. We had some fun and it was nice seeing some brown people around other than my family. We even had some drinks and by the time we were out of there we were kind of wobbly on our legs though my aunt had told us not to drink too much…

So as we were walking back to the car quite drunk and fooling around, I faked putting the Dupatta over my head which drew chuckles from my cousins. A white man who had been staring at us all this while with a cigarette in one hand stared at us, shook his head and said “F***** terrorists”. I froze right there and stared at him for one long second. I heard my cousin say come on but I just stared at the man.

Even though I happened to be a little drunk at that time and not to mention I am a devout Christian my brown skin color and messing around with a Dupatta made me a ‘terrorist’. Perhaps it was the alcohol or maybe my own feeling for my homeland set my blood on fire. But at that moment I actually felt something I admit to have never felt so deeply before, being part of a minority in a country where some people are not very tolerant. I really felt sympathy for what Muslims were going through. I also understood what it felt like to be called a terrorist just because you belonged to a particular race. In that one moment I knew exactly what Havi had probably felt when some Indians admitted murder and threatened to kill him, then tried to frame him as a terrorist or what other leaders may have felt when faced with similar situations. I felt angry and very annoyed.

Over whispers of my cousin to let it go and nudging from the other side I walked towards the man. The guy, probably a professional at calling people “terrorists” and being ignored actually looked surprised when I walked towards him and shouted at him to shut up. Then as I was walking back he finally found a tongue and asked “Is that what your religion teaches you?” I replied “I am a Christian” though I could not help the expletives  that came out of my mouth either. My friends half pulled me and I half walked away to the lot where our car was but the event taught me a very important lesson. It taught me to look with another persons eyes. A very valuable lesson.

Perhaps if we Pakistanis were as afraid of something as the west is of “Pakistan” or “Muslims” we would have died of a heart attack a long time ago. That we survived the wave of terrorism and great odds speaks of our resilience. But only God knows how much more we will have to suffer for our dreams of prosperity, peace and equality regardless of caste and creed to come true because all of us perhaps would prefer to stay in Pakistan had that environment of personal freedom existed.

The notes about Havi may be information that we don’t discuss but we all know what happened and it deserves to be known because in all these years no one has supported the cause of minorities and in general tolerance as this guy. Try to appreciate the article than picking things out.

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It is quite sickening that there would be people in this country that actually celebrate the murder of another human being. This scenario has been most evident in the recent murder of Punjab governor Salman Taseer by his guard Malik Hussain Qadri of the Elite Force.

Even the religious parties instead of coming out and condemning the killing have used the murder as another opportunity to continue with their piggish ranting over not repealing the Blasphemy law without concern for how the law is being used even while a murder has taken place in the country .

The Blashphemy Law: Legalizing Terrorism

The blasphemy law has no doubt become a tool for terrorists to use to punish and murder innocent people. This entire debate has nothing to do with the Prophet being insulted. It is simply about the fact that terrorists and such like-minded individuals continue to have the right to frame innocent people for acts of blasphemy they never committed in the first place. Over 90% of the cases of Blasphemy are raised on the basis of people trying to settle personal scores and blaming others to achieve their land or settle a dispute in their own favor. Not all of them are even Non Muslim but still the terrorist supporters have such influence that they continue supporting the law. These core supporters of terrorism are the real troublemakers as they try to make the others believe that repealing the law is actually against Islam even when the law is so vaguely worded and murderers and killers are using it.

This terrorist law is being used to frame innocent people of having insulted Islam and anyone can make that dubious claim. Even a cleric who has released fatwas against terrorism have been killed by mobs who claim he was a blasphemer. In another famous case Akhter Hamid Khan who was working for the people of Orangi in Karachi to help them move to a better standard of living was booked under the law by criminals and other groups with vested interests who did not want his development work to continue in Orangi because it was against their own. He was booked under false charges of the blasphemy law even though he never insulted the Prophet or Quran as he was Muslim himself. Of course the terrorists on the other hand go unpunished as they kill and pillage because of this law every single time and get what they want. In fact this is a law that facilitates terrorism and it is terrorists who are actually defending the law.

The fact that Salman Taseer was killed because he rightly opposed this law must ensure that the law is destroyed completely and a message be sent to the traitorous terrorists and their cohorts that they will not be allowed to treat Pakistan as their play area.

I personally am not a supporter of Salman Taseer and I agree that he was corrupt and has habits that may be described as UnIslamic but murdering someone just because we disagree with him is TERRORISM. The groups celebrating the brutality committed this day must be very ashamed of themselves.

The Quran states “Whoever kills a human being it is as if he has killed all of humanity”

It also states “Let my faith be mine and yours be yours.”

We have no right NO RIGHT to kill someone because we see him as Unislamic. Malik Hussain Qadri has committed a major crime and people must stop presenting him as a hero because he is not. He is a major traitor who has committed an unforgivable crime. Salman Taseer may have been many things but he was not a blasphemer and we have no right to randomly name anyone as such much less kill him.

It is sad that Pakistanis are simply not understanding the idea of live and let live. Some of these people supporting the murder may think they are the better Muslims but they are in reality the ones who have deviated from their religion.

By Havi Zayed

Many Pakistanis have a built in aversion towards the word secularism while taking an excessive pride in the Islamic Republic attached to Pakistan’s name. Despite the fact that many Pakistanis fail to follow the tenets of Islam and the word Islamic Republic makes a mockery of the meaning it remains a source of excessive pride. People claim that today the country is very far from Islam as very few people in Pakistan really follow the tenets of Islam however very few of them can answer the question whether it worthwhile to have an “Islamic Republic” only in name. However the real question is do we really have anything to fear from Secularism in the first place?

According to its dictionary meaning Secularism refers to the equal treatment of each and every religious group within the Nation and to the idea that religion should have a smaller role in politics and decision making because when it has too large a role people spend their time over their own separate interpretations of religion rather than Nation building and the tasks at hand.

Many Muslims in Pakistan fear secularism because they have a perverse idea of the concept fearing Islam will be diminished with Secularism. This is completely untrue. Pakistan’s Islamic identity will not be lost with a Secular system.

Will Secularism decrease Islam’s value in Pakistan?

Many Pakistanis continually fear that secularism will decrease the value of Islam or worse will eliminate Islam from Pakistan.

The fact is no one is pushing Islam away and with 95% of the population of Pakistan being proud and extremely pious Muslims for the most part it is impossible to even try. Islam will still be practiced by the majority of people as it is being practiced today without any hindrance whatsoever. The only difference perhaps will be that religion will be a personal matter. A person who does not follow Islam devotedly or a follower of a different religion or a sect of Islam will not be persecuted for having his own separate beliefs.

If seen in such a light Secularism is nothing to be feared. We can be proud Muslims and defend Islam as much or even more with a secular constitution as we can by labelling a country ruled by very corrupt people with barely any link to Islam an “Islamic Republic”. An Islamic Republic where the rulers themselves have no link to Islam and others often use religion as a tool to fulfill their personal interests.

The fact is only a country that has a constitution, laws (that are implemented instead of being cleared by people who can pay bribes) rules and regulations based on the tenets of Islam, the Islamic economic and judicial system and based on the teachings of the Prophet should have the right

The tenets of Islam support Secularism & harmony

“To you be your Faith, and to me mine.”

Ayat 109:6

During the rule of Ali Ibn Abi Talib the fourth Caliph of Islam a Jew stole a shield that belonged to the Caliph and claimed that it was his. He was brought to the court of Ali to settle the dispute. However due to lack of proof and according to Islamic law the Jew was allowed to keep the shield as Hazrat Ali could not prove he owned the shield. This was a verdict going against a Muslim Caliph in his own court. However Hazrat Ali accepted the decision calmly. On the other hand the Jew was dumbfounded as he had indeed stolen the shield. He was quick to embrace Islam and declared that he had lied in front of the entire court.

This was one example of how Islam spread to become one of the largest religions in the World and won hearts and minds. It was due to the insight and tolerance our ancestors had that we got to where we are, that Cordova and Baghdad became centres of learning and Islam spread from the corners of Spain to the boundaries of far east.

Unfortunately many people in Pakistan do not understand that human rights and the equal treatment of all individuals in the country is more important in Islam rather than a notion of Islamic pride and superiority where labelling a country an “Islamic Republic” is deemed necessary. This pride comes from a past that our ancestors built with policies that we fail to understand today.

The Quaid E Azams Principles

“In any case Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic State — to be ruled by priests with a divine mission. We have many non- Muslims — Hindus, Christians, and Parsis — but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizens and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan.”

Quaid E Azam, February 1948

The above quote is the greatest proof that Quaid E Azam did not want a state that was built completely on the basis of religion. Unfortunately since his death the constitution has been changed to suit every new leader that came and the title “Islamic Republic” untrue it may be has been added along with many laws that are completely out of line with Quaid E Azams original ideas for Pakistan. If we look closely at many of his speeches we will notice Quaid E Azam was a staunch supporter of secularism with an added focus on Islamic thought and ideology. Therefore until he was alive the Islamic Republic was never attached to the countries name. That happened when Ayub Khan came into power.

Other speeches by Quaid E Azam that clearly supported the message of peace, harmony and equality between all groups whether they are ethnic or religious are stated below.

‘We are starting with the fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state. No matter what is his colour, caste or creed is first, second and last a citizen of this state with equal rights, privileges and obligations….”

“In due course of time Hindus will cease to be Hindus and Muslims will cease to be Muslims – not in a religious sense for that is the personal faith of an individual- but in a political sense as citizens of one state.”

“[If you] work together in a spirit that everyone of you no matter what is his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this state with equal rights, privileges and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make.”

11 August 1947

“The tenets of Islam enjoin on every Musalman to give protection to his neighbours and to the Minorities regardless of caste and creed. We must make it a matter of our honor and prestige to create sense of security amongst them.”

30th October 1947

Clearly Quaid E Azam understood that a Nation could not be built until differences in the minds of people were eliminated and people saws themselves as equal members of a single society regardless of faith or ethnicity.

Perhaps if that spirit was alive today Pakistan would not be afflicted with minor issues and infighting over Shia-Sunni, Barelvi-Deobandi, Ahmedi, and the principles of personal freedom would have given way to building a Nation that was the most glorious one in history. Unfortunately this destiny still awaits the Pakistani race which dreams for justice and equality. Many people continuously deny Quaid E Azam wanted a secular country fearing that Islam will be destroyed by such a move or fearing for their own interests but Quaid E Azam did indeed want a Nation that was Secular and gave equal opportunity to all inhabitants.

People try to deny this but the fact is that this is not a bad thing for us to be ashamed about being Muslims but something glorious in itself that a leader who did so much for Muslims giving them a new homeland and independence still understood the morals of our ancestors because of whom Islam to spread.

Issues caused by the misinterpretation of Islamic Law & resources used to contain them

The fact that laws created to safeguard Islam are being used for the benefit and self interest of bad people does not do anything great for the image of Islam. A clear example is the blasphemy law, a law that makes an insult to Islam, the Prophet or the Quran illegal and punishable by death. This law has been used against minorities for a long time. However Muslims have fallen victims to this law as well.

An example of how this law is misused was the case of Mohammad Imran who was arrested in Faisalabad for blasphemy on the 28th of October 2007. He was falsely blamed because of a personal argument. After being arrested he was first tortured by the police, then the inmates and later he was placed in solitary confinement without anyone looking after his injuries. He was only released in April 2009 after being declared innocent.

Another example was the framing of Akhtar Hammed Khan, an 81 year old writer and sociologist by business interests and authorities unwilling to let his development work take place in Orangi, Karachi. He had launched a development project on the behalf of the people of Orangi. His project offering real estate loans on good terms and work to improve the condition of women through education, access to employment and family planning was not well liked by these authorities. Thus they decided to book him on false charges with the police under the blasphemy laws. He was later released due to inadequate evidence but the case proves how the law is being used to settle personal scores and disputes.

Minorities have many such stories to share as 60% of all victims who are framed under this law are Non Muslims. The law has become a tool for fanatics, murderers and people seeking to settle personal scores yet the law still hasn’t been repealed due to the fact that militants have some influence on governance. Land disputes or personal quarrels are by far the main reason for people to be booked under this law.

Another such law is the Hudood Ordinance where in a case of Rape four witnesses are required to confirm that a Rape has taken place. This is practically impossible. However the woman who complains that a rape has taken place is often booked for being with another man while the culprits of the rape run free.

Therefore the Hudood Law became a tool in the hands of rapists and today any woman can be raped and when she goes to the police to get justice the Hudood Law can be used to frame her as by claiming that she has been raped she also admits that she has been with another man and committed Zinah. Some figures claim that in the year 1979 there were only 70 women in Pakistani jails. A decade later, in 1988, this figure had risen to 6000 and over 80% of the women in prison were there because of these laws. It is said many more women do not even report rapes in fear of being persecuted due to this law.

Is Pakistan really Islamic?

Better to have a Secular constitution than Islam only in name

There is no doubt that our leaders found us a land that was a safe haven for Muslims and gave us freedom to make our own decisions without the fear of suffering biased treatment for the faith we followed. However the question today is how much Islam is being followed in the country?

For instance the Quran states “Keep yourselves away from bribes because it is kufr and one who receives them will never smell the scent of paradise”. The fact is in Pakistan taking and giving bribes is so common that even a noble person can hardly live without paying one. Some honourable folk still struggle on but their lives are much more difficult. If a person has money it is a possibility he has given or taken a bribe at least once. Unfortunately the entire bureaucracy is at the forefront of this rot. Justice is sold and witnesses can be bought.

On the other hand while drinking is not allowed and a license is required in order to drink in Pakistan people who want to drink do so with impunity and with no fear of being punished. The law is not even being implemented while if a drunkard happens to get caught a simple bribe wins back the persons freedom. Also while adultery is considered a punishable law under the constitution it is practiced by many people in the country without any fear of punishment. The same goes for many other laws.

The fact is many laws related to Islam exist in Pakistan but they are there only in name. They are either being misused by people for their own interests or they are not implemented and people who commit heinous crimes are allowed to go free because of them without any fear of punishment while the innocent are framed.

The real question for Pakistan today is whether it is sensible to have a false, broken and corrupt “Islamic Republic” in name or it is better to have a secular constitution that guarantees freedom to everyone and ensures that there are no vaguely addressed laws that make a mockery of our Religion which are misused for the benefit of a few criminals.

Written By Havi Zayed

Editing and Sources by Flora Xavier

“You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”

Quaid E Azam, (Hazrat) Mohammed Ali Jinnah

The most respected and righteous Leader of Pakistan the Great Quaid E Azam was always in the favour of providing minorities equal rights as the citizens of the Pakistani State. How much or how little the Quaid E Azams vision is being implemented remains a subject that is ferociously being debated today. Nonetheless one thing is clear. Christians in Pakistan today are fighting for acceptance and recognition as a patriotic community amongst Pakistan’s highly emotional Muslim majority.

The Christian community in Pakistan which numbers anywhere from 2.8 Million according to the government and 15 Million according to some Pakistani Christian Organizations have constantly been fighting a bitter war for acceptance and recognition as a patriotic community that has rendered supreme sacrifice for the country. The great accomplishments of National Christian heroes such as Justice Alvin Robert Cornelius, Air Vice Marshal Eric Hall, Group Captain Cecil Chaudhry, Wing Commander Mervyn Middlecoat shine as an example of the commitment of not just Christians but in general minorities towards Pakistan.

Unfortunately these sacrifices and many others made by the Pakistani Christians have often been glossed over or even ignored. Since this is the case in Pakistan it may be the case in the Pakistani Nationalist Organizations as well. This is the reason some Christians have been vouching for a separate Christian Nationalist Wing within the PNA.

The Nationalist stand on Minority Rights

Due to the regrettable attitude of some members who overdo patriotism to the limit of ignorance some people may see the Nationalists as denialists of reality who are trying to refuse any responsibility for mistakes of the past made by Pakistanis and are unwilling to admit any wrong occurs in Pakistan. This is absolutely untrue.

Quoting from the Rules and Regulations, Nationalist Ideology section of the Pakistan Nationalist Association, Article 36B clearly states that it is our duty to find and point out our internal flaws and weaknesses and put in every ounce of strength to solve the problems within. This includes the poor state of minorities in the country which are faced with increased intolerance in the tough times Pakistan faces today.

The above stated article stands true however the one place the Nationalists take an extremely tough stand is when it comes to foreign relations as stated in all of Article 54 and Article 55A and B. This is where the criticism of US foreign policy and our traditional arch rivals comes from. As far as the traditional Pakistani point of view is concerned it is not baseless criticism.

So to put things in perspective the Nationalist philosophy focuses on pointing out and solving the problems within the country with none or minimal foreign interference especially that which sacrifices our interests while at the same time showing Unity and standing up to foreign hypocrisy and aggression against our motherland. This is the backbone of the Nationalist ideology.

This clears up the Nationalist Stand on Minority Rights. The inhumane Hudood Ordinance and the vaguely phrased Blasphemy Laws which are against the instructions of the Quaid E Azam himself are two laws that Leaders backed by our members have continually been waging war against. The Pakistan Nationalist Association’s goal along with many of its other goals is to work for the absolute elimination of Sections 153A, 295A, 295B, 295C, 298A, 298B and 298C from Pakistan’s Criminal code which are biased towards Pakistan’s minorities.

As such the Pakistan Nationalist Association proposes no religious affiliations and presents itself as Secular. This is the reason why members belonging to minorities make up over 800 of PNA’s members.

A Christian Wing: A tall order

Today some secularists and Christians are demanding a separate Christian Wing within the Pakistan Nationalist Association. This demand has widely been seen as hypocrisy by the more religious Muslim members the reason being that Islamic thought process has sometimes been suppressed when it comes to decision making in the various Nationalist Organizations, especially from the Left Wing.

According to the terms and conditions of Pakistan Nationalist Association itself religion is to have as minimal a role in our decision making process as is humanely possible. This has caused the PNA to avoid working on items that have too much to do with Islam and in general religion.  This was made clear when a distant Pakistani came to a rich Nationalist Community Leader in Britain asking for a charity to be organized by the Pakistani community for a mosque to be built for the Pakistani community in Bradford. The leader denied taking any part in this and spent his money instead on educating poor children in Pakistan.

Almost all would agree that this policy should work both ways. This is why a separate Christian Wing when none is allowed for Muslims is likely to raise a great number of eyebrows and is very likely to hurt the pride of not only the more religious Muslims but also the Seculars that are a part of the Nationalist Organizations. This is what makes a separate wing in the name of religion a controversial task and according to many an impossible task.

A solution that appeases all

We know very well that minorities still do not have many of the equal rights the Quaid E Azam had envisioned for them. Admitting that we still need to march towards a Pakistan where each and every individual is treated equally without religion, creed or ethnicity playing a factor it may be sensible to set up a Minorities Wing to balance the situation and give a voice to minorities within the Pakistan Nationalist Association, showcase and highlight the sacrifices including the great achievements of Christians and members of other minority communities for the country.

Although some Christians are proposing it it’s understood that a special Christian Wing even within the Pakistan Nationalist Association may be seen as a huge flouting of rules and may create an uproar even in the Secular environment that Nationalists are used to. However since the policy papers themselves clearly state that it is a duty of Nationalists to solve the problems within the country and these same papers clearly admit that minorities do have issues within the country with increasing intolerance and vague, biased laws it is necessary to take steps to balance the situation.

A solution that appeases both the traditionalists who want no religious affiliations and the Minorities of Pakistan can definitely be a special Minority Wing within the Pakistan Nationalist Association. This should be completely controlled and dominated my minorities themselves since the community involved is best at dealing with their issues however anyone who wants to help can volunteer.

Since the organization will be a Sub organization within the PNA the Nationalist principles will naturally not be sacrificed. Therefore this is the best way to give minorities a voice and empowering them a little more in order to change the constitution of Pakistan to what it was in 1948 under the visionary Quaid E Azam.