Category Archives: Secular Pakistan

Support Manifesto for Secularism

A secular Pakistan? I’m afraid most Pakistanis will say ‘never!’

Here’s to dreaming of a day when common sense prevails in this godforsaken land.

Secularism

Our era is marked by the rise of the religious-Right – not because of a “religious revival” but rather due to the rise of far-Right political movements and states using religion for political supremacy. This rise is a direct consequence of neo-conservatism and neo-liberalism and the social policies of communalism and cultural relativism. Universalism, secularism and citizenship rights have been abandoned and segregation of societies and “communities” based on ethnicity, religion and culture have become the norm.

The Islamic State (formerly ISIS), the Saudi regime, Hindutva (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) in India, the Christian-Right in the US and Europe, Bodu Bala Sena in Sri Lanka, Haredim in Israel, AQMI and MUJAO in Mali, Boko Haram in Nigeria, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria are examples of this.

For many decades now, people in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and the Diaspora have been the first victims but also on the frontlines of resistance against the religious-Right (whether religious states, organisations and movements) and in defence of secularism and universal rights, often at great risk to their lives.

We call on people everywhere to stand with us to establish an international front against the religious-Right and for secularism. We demand:

  1. Complete separation of religion from the state. Secularism is a fundamental right.

  2. Separation of religion from public policy, including the educational system, health care and scientific research.

  3. Abolition of religious laws in the family, civil and criminal codes. An end to discrimination against and persecution of LGBT, religious minorities, women, freethinkers, ex-Muslims, and others.

  4. Freedom of religion and atheism and freedom to criticise religions. Belief as a private affair.

  5. Equality between women and men and citizenship rights for all.

Reposted blog from http://www.freethoughtblogs.com by Maryam Namazie

 

The Arabization of Pakistan and Identity Crisis

So this is how I understand it. Up until two months ago, Pakistan was neutral in terms of the Sunni-Shia conflict – at least politically. As the days go on, we see more and more Arab influence in Pakistan as the state tries to, erm, readjust its position on Islam.

We started out as a secular country under Jinnah with a white portion of the flag dedicated to non-Muslims. Back then, saying you were ‘Muslim’ was more than enough for people and the government to know you were on the green side of the flag, and it was fine if you weren’t.

Then came Zia and he just changed the course of this nation by taking us from ‘Pakistan’ to the ‘Islamic Republic of Pakistan’ some time around 1971. From his point of view, this was necessary as he needed the support of the masses (as if the minorities wanted their tyranny) to send militants to Afghanistan, which was a Muslim country fighting against Russia – a land of infidels.

So we took the funding from Saudi Arabia, and later the US too, to fund religious institutions aka ‘madrassas‘ in Pakistan where they pushed young boys to memorize the Quran without understanding a word of it, and also taught them to fight and die in the name of Islam, before being recruited by a militant outfit that was most likely being run by army personnel to ensure proper training.

Religion has a tendency to polarize society and today, Muslim society around the world is divided between Shia and Sunni lines. Today, we see how Pakistan is taking the Sunni side in Syria, by accepting Saudi Arabia’s funding once again and sending militants there, along with arms and surface-to-air missiles.

These will most likely be used to knock down Assad’s planes, who is supported by Iran and Hezbollah. And they’re not just up against Saudi Arabia – almost all Sunni Muslim countries are aligning with them. What we have at our hands in Syria is an international Islamic sectarian war. Only time will tell who’s God is right. (Ahmedis’ Allah was wrong, according to all of them though.)

On the one hand...

On the other hand…

Meanwhile, the West has pulled out all its support (after giving the rebels some in the beginning only) and is, perhaps, silently watching the Islamic world crumble over itself.

Here in Lahore, Pakistan, where I live, I notice more and more signs of Arab influence everyday. The Al-Bakistan car number plates, seeing ‘Ramadan’ in print almost as much as ‘Ramzan’, more people saying ‘Wudu’ instead of ‘Wuzu’ and a lot more. You see, they want to emulate the Prophet’s ‘sunnah’ (not ‘sunnat’) or practices in every possible way, and that includes arabizing Urdu words that have already been derived from the Arabic language. Funny.

A culture resides in its language, or languages, but Pakistanis have a lost identity. The fact that the culture of Muslims in Pakistan is similar to that of Hindus in India upsets many if not most Pakistani Muslims, and when they get exposed to Arab culture and identify the language of their religion, they don’t look any further. They simply adopt.

The rise of blasphemy cases in Pakistan and abroad by Pakistan (such as the ban on YouTube and filtered Tweets), only goes to show that Pakistan is unable to comprehend what modernity, equality, pluralism mean to a nation state. We are incompatible with the modern world in this state.

Copyright http://burkesenglish.wordpress.com/

The foundations of Pakistan may be built upon hatred of ‘others’, and we fear it might be climbing up the pyramid, day by day, slowly.

The identity crisis of Pakistani citizens is carried forward from its rulers, who are probably just as confused, seeing as they almost always settle their families abroad as soon as they can.

What Pakistanis need is a return to their South-Asian identity, where the bearded mullah and his shuttlecocked wife and children don’t feel any guilt whatsoever as they strut off to the cinema every week just to watch Katrina dance his takhnay-say-ooper shalwar off.

Otherwise, I worry we will push Pakistani Shias off to the white portion of the flag and perhaps move on to alienate sub-sects within Sunni Islam too, one by one, all in good time.

Calling for a Secular Pakistan

I appreciate your passion for Islam. I also respect how you think that 1400 years old concepts are still valid today – most of them may be valid but many are outdated (DNA test versus 4 male witnesses). We are mere humans – we can’t decide what is best for us, right? Each one of us has his/her own destiny in this world, and a government has no business in deciding this for us. Most importantly, the government should manage affairs of the state, not interpret our religion for us.The Secular Creed

This country could be so much more amazing if it could become secular, so that religion has nothing to do with government of the state. Dogma divides us, and will continue to do so until we all take a stand or this country will break into tiny little pieces.

Beliefs are a private matter, not a public issue. My mother recites the kalma thrice while washing a new dish for the first time. Your mother doesn’t have to do the same thing, right? Or should we get the government to make this practice compulsory, and punishable by law if not adhered to? Maybe someone sends an SMS about someone who doesn’t recite the kalma while washing their new dishes and then they get tried in court for a blasphemy charge? Dig?