Pakistan's Image in the World - Reasons

Daily times,
April 29, 2005
SECOND OPINION: Our rotten image abroad —Khaled Ahmed’s TV Review

In just one week, the Urdu press has carried enough items of collective intolerance and fanaticism to ban all the clerics from entering Europe. The cruelty is that these items of intolerance appear with the clergy siding with those who spread violence in Pakistan

Islamabad may be getting ready to show righteous anger at the way Europe has treated our religious leaders trying to enter it, but it should be invited to look at just one week’s news in Pakistan to see why we give the creeps to the world outside.

According to Khabrain (February 21, 2005) a pesh imam of Hyderabad collected separated and ragged pages of an old Quran and burnt them to get rid of them. As ill luck would have it, the pages flew up and fell on the surrounding houses while burning. The entire locality came out in protest, took hold of the cleric and beat him till he was unconscious with grievous injuries. The people did gherao of Masjid Paretabad and sealed it. The cleric was handed over to the police who put him in jail. The town in Hyderabad became endangered with threats of widespread vandalism from the incensed people.

No one really knows what happened because the people didn’t wait for a proper verdict. There was vandalism. That is what the whole thing means in Pakistan. Get up, inflict injury on the suspect and destroy property. What use is the law?

According to Khabrain, (February 21, 2005) a Christian in Chishtian in Punjab was sentenced by a civil judge to seven years rigorous imprisonment for insulting the Quran. (In prison, he could be killed by Muslim prisoners). The Christian was in the business of doing taviz-ganda (magic cure) and was supposed to have insulted the Quran.

This one news of conviction despite government orders to stagger the process under blasphemy law is enough to ban Pakistanis from Europe.

Reported in daily Insaf (February 26, 2005), Prof Ibnul Hassan of Sargodha University was to take his class in business administration in the evening when he found that the entire class was saying its namaz in the nearby mosque. He gave the pious students a dressing down on their return. His remarks on their Islamic practice were taken ill by the students who then called upon Islami Jamiat Tulaba to protest. The protest spilled into the city where all the clerics denounced the professor as a blasphemer against the Prophet (peace be upon him) and hadith. The professor was apprehended after an FIR.

This is the routine about the innocent victimised by the religious fanatic. No court will dare release the man. He will rot in jail till he is released by the Supreme Court after seven years. This is what has been happening to the blasphemy accused. No one has so far been executed for blasphemy but convicts under appeal have been killed in prisons. The magistrates cannot free them because they are scared. Therefore, the cases have to go the superior courts where the red tape takes a long time.

Quoted in Insaf (February 27, 2005) chief of Jamia Naeemiya in Lahore, Sarfaraz Naeemi, condemned actress Mira for taking part in shameless film scenes in India. He said he had seen pictures of her different poses with a Hindu actor, which had greatly offended him. He said Mira should be punished for indulging in un-Islamic activities. Another cleric said that special NOC should be issued by the government to make sure that actors did not take part in shameless activities in India. According to Khabrain, political leaders like Munawwar Hassan said that Mira was setting the wrong example for Pakistani youth. Engineer Salimullah said she should be banned from returning to Pakistan. Mira’s mother said films like Nazar were being produced in Pakistan all the time. Other film actors turned against Mira and asked for action against her.

Sarfaraz Naeemi gives two hoots for the image of Pakistan he is projecting abroad. India earns its reputation as a benign and tolerant country by honouring its film actresses. The truth is that states make good reputations through their entertainment industry. Pakistan is venomous because it hates entertainment and is constantly found proposing savage punishments to its entertainers.

According to Nawa-e-Waqt (February 27, 2005) the wife of Mr Sheheryar Khan, former foreign secretary of Pakistan and current chief of the Pakistan Cricket Board, was seen embracing Indian foreign minister, Natwar Singh, and shaking with pleasure (jhoomna). The paper issued a picture from the India newspaper The Tribune to prove the point and said that normalisation with India was at the cost of the nation’s honour and self-respect (qaumi hamiyat aur ghairat).

The paper should have realised that Mrs Khan is an old lady, probably older than the grandmother of the journalist who wrote up this piece of defamation.

Reporting from Mianwali, Nawa-e-Waqt (February 28, 2007) stated that one Shafi and his gang picked up an innocent girl, raped her and then paraded her naked in the streets of the village Kari Kheor. Shafi was convinced that a brother of the girl was involved in a relationship with his sister and resorted to the honour-based rape.

This is what happens everyday in the countryside but the press is more worried that blasphemy may go unpunished.

Reported by Nawa-e-Waqt, (February 28, 2005) Jamaat Islami leader Liaquat Baloch stated that Qadianis were behind the Aga Khan Board which was being imposed on Pakistan to change its ideology. Fatah Mubahala Conference in Chiniot also featured one new Maulana Jhangvi who said that those who removed the mazhabi khana would be removed from the face of the earth.

After this, Mr Baloch would be wise not to visit any Western country. He can always go to Saudi Arabia, Sudan or the Gulf if the governments there are not scared of his indiscriminate and violent tongue. *

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Hopefully we see better things in this new year.

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