Stealing a Life …


Paris attacks are harrowing. Brings a shiver down my spine. I am not exaggerating my state of mind. Whenever innocents die I am forced to recall the words from my favourite book “The Kite Runner”:

“…there is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft…when you kill a man, you steal a life…you steal his wife’s right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness…there is no act more wretched than stealing…a man who takes what’s not his to take, be it a life or a loaf of naan…I spit on such a man. And if I ever cross paths with him, God help him…”

A horde of Muslims have been concerned about how the horrendous attacks in Paris will bring a bad name to Muslims, again. I am not sure how to answer this. More or less the same number of people are concerned about how western media is actively reporting the Paris carnage and how Facebook is sympathising with the French community by rolling out an application that can merge your profile picture with the French flag to become a unique profile picture on your profile. They are arguing that such a sympathising gesture is only bestowed on the western people and the terrorism affectees from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Syria, Iraq and others are always snubbed and which is a discrimination and selective-sympathy. It is true. But I guess it is more true that Muslim states are so feeble and incompetent today that their internal differences owing to sectarianism and weakness owing to corruption have led them to this situation and because of that Muslim community is given little or no significance in a world dominated by western democracy, culture and economy. Nature has it that only the strong survives. Justice is subjective and the mighty rules.

I find it sound to put a French flag (even though I haven’t put one on my profile yet but I support those who have) on the Facebook profile and sympathise with the French community ignoring any ifs and buts here. I mourn on the loss of innocent lives in Paris and my heart bleeds for every single soul lost in Paris attacks and all such terrorist attacks anywhere in the world.

Power comes with the responsibility and responsibility requires courage to befit the position you are responsible for. It would take courage for Muslim community to enjoy the pinnacle of the same power western world is enjoying today without being irresponsible.

I don’t know if this terrorism anywhere in the world will ever stop. It unfortunately doesn’t seem to end. I though certainly hope for the terrorism to be dealt with at least more responsibility!

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Some Words of John Stuart Mill


“The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental and spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.”

~ J.S. Mill — On Liberty

Of Shahzeb’s Killers Getting Pardoned


As the nation is embroiled in a debate on whether or not the pardoning was a right choice, the most ignored fact is that victim’s family may not have any choice. Either they did it because they were too much on the spiritual side, or they did it to keep their existence intact in the society dominated by the feudal and influential. As the news suggests, it is the latter.

And the Judge may have followed the Islamic principle of “Qisas” while adjudicating the case, that has upset the “liberal” lot for it relates to Islam. So, again the ignored fact is that the same principle of Qisas — regardless of right or wrong, as it remains a debate in modern times — has served as a blessing in disguise for the aggrieved family. Had they not pardoned Jatois and Talpurs, they would most certainly have been haunted throughout their lives by the feudal and influential families of the murderers. With that, would the “liberal” lot — I am addressing them primarily because I am sick of being learning that Islam has to be invited in ever social phenomenon — have successfully saved the family of Shahzeb from the wrath of Talpurs and Jatois? Simple answer is: No!

This is perhaps the best we could have as a verdict today. It truly reflects the culture and norms of our society; it is compatible with it eventually. Break the dominant feudal power in the society and then abolishing the concept of Qisas from the justice system might actually work in favor of poor as well for there would be no agent of fear left to be worried about for the aggrieved and not-so-influential victim(s).

To The Disgruntled PTI Voters


A couple of days back a blog was published on the website of Express Tribune in which the author highlighted his disappointments in Imran Khan and his PTI. The author holds certain beliefs that may well be based on his personal understanding of the PTI’s mode of functioning pre- and post-elections. But then, the disappointment of the respected author appears to be merely the seagull approach with special reference to the practical politics.

PTI has provided Pakistan’s democracy a great deal of profit. The galvanising of masses and bringing the traditional non-voters out to polling station to vote on the election-day was indeed PTI’s biggest achievement. To these millions of people Imran Khan was a Knight in the shining armour. Under this impression most of the supporters of the PTI started wishing for a utopia, while some wished for simple progression in the country; however, a very low percentage of supporters exactly acknowledged that politicking at large is also about being uneconomical with the claims during the campaigning and for the most part about being pragmatic. As brutal as it sounds especially for the utopians it is the only politics that we have known always, probably as far as history of democracy takes us to. There are varieties of choices when it comes to voting a particular political party in elections but knowing that only one of them will ultimately get your vote you narrow down your choices and support and vote a singular party that you think have to offer what you demand. This is how it works.

People voted Imran Khan’s PTI heavily on the same ground, as much that it got the second highest votes in the country. While voting for PTI the people knew very well the angle of approach PTI always has in dealing with the issue of Taliban. And despite that PTI managed to bag second highest votes through its supporters. Now at any moment after the voting a voter thinks that his choice has faltered he is left with the only choice which is to voice his concern and/or suggest a novel way through which he thinks the issue against which he has reservations can be dealt with. The plot thickens, during the former federal government of PPP, the All Parties Conference APC) had decided for a peace talk with the TTP. In addition to that, the so-called leftist parties of Pakistan, the MQM and PPP have lately been found softening their approach towards the issue of dealing with the Taliban menace.

There is something merits mentioning: talking about peace talks or softening one’s approach towards the issue of dealing with TTP, and actually conducting the peace talks and offering the Taliban all that they want are really the two opposite sides of the barricades. Naturally it is absolutely fine to show the fears where PTI could end up giving TTP all that it wants, but at the same time it is equally important to understand that way before PTI looks forward in doing that it would be under the pump of its heavy supporters who are not ready to live under the stings of Taliban at any moment in their lives. Hence, PTI, and for that matter even the PML-N, wouldn’t follow this course and do the mistake. Understandably, in the democratic and political process the mistakes are naturally and unknowingly made. And voices like that of the author of the blog play conspicuous role in getting the attention of the political parties and barring them from conducting the grievous mistakes. However, during all this show there is a pressing need to understand that any undue criticism and wedge politics could hamper the overall democratic process in the country.

Coming towards the empowerment of the youth that the PTI has promised, the PTI actually fulfilled it. More than one-third of the tickets were awarded to those below the age of thirty, whereas eighty per cent of the ticket holders contested the elections for the first time. It is lucid that the supporters of PTI are quite passionate about the youth-factor, but it is equally important to understand that there is no alternative to “experience”. While in real world organisations require “experienced” people for their managerial portfolios, here we are talking about management of the country which similarly demands the people to be of public intellect and experienced under whom the youth are supposed to work and provide the best of their input to sail the political activities of the party smoothly. With time the youth at-present would become the managers and by that time they would have earned enough experience to know how practical politics work.

Let’s get to the PTI and JI alliance in KPK. As undesirable and unpopular the alliance is for many of the disgruntled PTI supporters, including myself, after spending a few minutes crunching numbers it can be hypothesised that had the PTI not formed alliance with the JI in KPK the opportunity to rule the province most likely would have fallen straight in the hands of indisputable self-proclaimed rightists – the JI and JUI-F together with the independent candidates. What would have been more worse for the province: the PTI sitting in opposition while primarily the JI and JUI-F governing the province, or to scrape together the only opportunity PTI got to govern the province and shun the chance for the JI and JUI-F to form its government in the province. The former would have appeared more obnoxious to the presently disgruntled PTI supporters on the national level and the voters on provincial level; with a heavy mandate they would have called PTI for an alliance so that it forms its government in the KPK and gets the only chance it has to prove what it promised. In retrospective, had PTI been interested in the alliance it would have gone for the seat adjustment pre-elections with the JI in KPK which it didn’t. If anything, practical politics is not just as straight as an arrow and the decision of PTI to form coalition with the JI must have come tough for the party.

Let’s cut to the chase. Every political party has the shortcomings and PTI is no exception; it has lately made some challenging decisions that have positive strings attached to it too and only the party has the opportunity to exploit those positive strings in favour of it. PTI, in any case, shares a huge responsibility as of today than probably any other political party because of the fervent slogan of “change” it introduced on the political horizon of Pakistan. One can only hope that the PTI will actually “deliver” what it has promised to the nation. As for today it is too early to have a bone to pick against the newly elected governments, whether the PTI or PML-N.

 

Partition & Muhajirs — II


Soon after the 1947 partition, for several reasons many of the Muslim refugees who had migrated to Pakistan started returning back to India. The most of the returning Muslim refugees to India, especially to Delhi, were coming from Karachi. One of the reasons of the re-migration of the Muslims (noted: most of them originally belonged to Northern India and were said to be Urdu-speakers) was that they were facing a severe housing and settlement crisis in nascent Pakistan. Severe clashes between Muhajirs in Karachi and native Hindus took place in Karachi. The religious and ethnic tension in Karachi rose to its peak on January 6, 1948. According to a Jang Editorial titled “Aman” on January 15, 1948: “the premier of Sindh [Muhammad Ayub Khuhro] does not like to see Hindustan’s Muslim Muhajirs in Sindh.”

On the other hand , a cartoon in Jang [Figure 1] projected a picture that the situation in Delhi has been changed for the Muslims and

Jang Cartoon (1)

Figure 1: A Visit to Chandni Chowk: The stall vendors are selling hot fresh fried kababs. The man with the bottle in his hand is selling alcohol (desi sharaab). The other two men standing at the center are talking: “Brother, we were in better condition with Muslims than we are with these Sikhs now.” (Reference: Jang Cartoon, January 15, 1948)

now Muslims are welcomed back. Perhaps the most crucial thing in restoring the faith of Muhajirs to re-migrate to India was the fast of Gandhi on January 12, 1948 to bring the peace to Delhi and provide good security to the Muslim population of the city. According to Abul Kalam Azaad in his book “India Wins Freedom” the actions of Gandhi produced a far-reaching affect on the morale of Muhajir Muslims and it encouraged them to re-migrate to India and claim all those properties and wealth they had left in their way of migration to Pakistan and later those left-over wealth and properties got in the hands of the Hindus and Sikhs, especially those migrating from Pakistan to India.

The Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan during the mid of March 1948 announced that thousands of Muslim refugees in Pakistan were returning back to India for their old homes. During the mid of May 1948, the British High Commissioner to India quoted a local newspaper saying that so far 200,000 to 300,000 Muslim refugees from Pakistan had arrived back in India. A report by Commonwealth Office sometime later highlighted that 100,000 to 250,000 Muslims had returned from Pakistan to India, and 40,000 among them alone had returned to Delhi.

However, the diary of Superintendent of Police, CID Delhi from March 27, 1948 had different statistics to say. According to the diary, the total number of Muslim refugees in Pakistan who arrived back to Delhi (India) up to May 1948 amounted to 16,350. According to the analysis of Vazira Fazilla-Yacoobali Zamindar in her book “The Long Partition and the Making of Modern South Asia: Refugees, Boundaries, Histories”, “if the number leaving (almost 4,450, but otherwise unremarked) is subtracted, then an increase in the Muslim population of the city amounted to only 11,900 — which was nowhere near the suggested 40,000 people.

In all these events there is something interesting — however couldn’t completely be agreed upon — which was highlighted in a secret report of Intelligence Bureau, dated June 11, 1948 (DSA F56/48-Conf C). The excerpts taken from the report argued that the Muslims were returning to India because they wanted to start communal riots and disturbances in order to influence the opinion of the United Nations Organisation (UNO) commission that was coming to India to settle the issue of Kashmir which had by then became a hot issue between India and Pakistan. According to Indian Government, the returning back of Muslims in abundance from Pakistan to India was actually a part of a planned-conspiracy by the government of Pakistan in order to take the revenge from the Hindus and Sikhs who had massacred the Muslims during the partition riots. The secret CID report further highlighted that it was a understood fact that some Muslims who have come all the way from Rawalpindi and other parts of Pakistan are being watched over by the intelligence people who found  [some of] them lurking in the “Sabzimandi” area of Delhi dressed up in Hindu fashion telling other Muslims of the area that they had come to Delhi to avenge the wrongs done to the Muslims of Delhi. It is noted that the “Sabzimandi” area of Delhi prior to partition was predominated by the Muslims but now after the partition the dice was rolled against the Muslims of Delhi who had lost their predominance in “Sabzimandi” area, and their houses and other properties were occupied by the Hindus and Sikhs most of whom were those who came to India from the parts of Pakistan. The CID secret report further highlighted that the conspiracy to create havoc in Delhi was hatched by the Government of Pakistan; the sole aims of Pakistani government, according to the CID officials, were to create communal tension in Delhi, influencing on the opinion of UNO, and influence on the opinion of the “world” against the India.

Following to these events when they first began, the issue was highly debated in the Constituent Assembly of India on March 22, 1948. It was discussed that the India should reconsider its “open-door policy” for the refugees coming back from Pakistan to India. However, Jawaharlal Nehru reminded the Constituent Assembly about the promises they had made to Gandhi just before his death. It should be mentioned again that Gandhi was hugely in favor of those Musim refugees coming back to India from Pakistan. Nehru insisted that the Constituent Assembly should abide by the promise it had made to the Gandhi. However, it was still deemed necessary to take some actions to avert the communal tension in certain parts of the country. Consequently, India went on to discuss a “permit” system where anyone coming from Pakistan to India would first have to obtain a permission from India.

Ironically, the abundance of Urdu-speaking/Muhajirs in the government and bureaucracy were helpless in preventing the mass migration of Muhajirs from Karachi back to Delhi (India). Muhajirs endlessly wrote letters — one of which can be found in the “letter to editor” in the Jang edition of March 27, 1948 with the title “Muhajireen ki Hindustan Wapsi” & March 29, 1948 with the title “Wapas Ja Rahe Hain” — and criticised the Pakistani government for failiing to provide adequate refuge to “the very people who had struggled for the Pakistan.”

Figure 2: "Aah! This Selfish World". The bottom translates as: "If all the Muhajirs leave Pakistan for India, then only Government Officers will be left here to build this country." (Reference: Jang, April 9, 1948)

Figure 2: “Aah! This Selfish World”. The unreadable Urdu text at the bottom translates as: “In case all the Muhajirs leave Pakistan for India, then only the Government Officers will be left here to build this country.” (Reference: Jang, April 9, 1948)

To project the inability and inaction of the Government of Pakistan to address the grievances of Muhajirs, a cartoon, presented in Figure 2, was printed in the Jang edition of April 9, 1948.

The cartoon evidently highlights the concerns and feelings of Muhajirs toward the inaction of their [brother] Muhajirs in government.

A resolution for the Rehabilitation of Muslim Refugees was emotionally discussed in the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on May 20, 1948. The former premier of Sindh, Muhammad Ayub Khuhro, was accused and vehemently criticised for spreading the anti-refugee sentiments. This was yet another phase of a tension between Sindhi political leaders and the “Muhajir” leaders who happened to be in the federal government of Pakistan and bureaucracy in abundance.

On the other hand, the federal minister for refugees and rehabilitation, Ghazanfar Ali Khan blamed the Indian Government for providing a support to the Muslims to return back to India. He also criticised the remarks of Nehru that that traffic between India and Pakistan was “one-way”, meaning that only the refugees from Pakistan were going [back] to India. Gazanfar Ali Khan pointed out that thousands of Muslims from India were continuing to come to Pakistan by sea, therefore it was never a “one-way” traffic. According to the estimates of Ghazanfar Ali Khan, the problems concerning refugees gained strength with time as more Muslim migrants arrived in Pakistan. He ultimately pointed out that the source of refugees problems was the constant influx of Muslims from India to Pakistan. He also asked the Indian government that it should not allow the mass migration of Muslims from India to Pakistan. In order to not sound conflicting with the notion that “Muslim League” was the representative of all the Muslims of sub-continent, Ghazanfar Ali Khan is further said to have rhetorically bluster that Pakistan has never closed its doors for the Muslims; it is the home for all the Muslims of the world; however, so many Muslims should not be accommodated [as of now] in order to prevent the early [economic] demise of Pakistan.

At this point, India had finally rolled out its “permit” system, where anyone coming from Pakistan to India would first have to obtain a permission from India. At the beginning of the Indian introduction of “permit” system, the Pakistani government opposed it. Following to Pakistan’s objection, India proposed that a “two-way” traffic could be introduced with the help of both Pakistani and Indian government via which all the refugees would be given the chance to return to their original homes. This ingenious proposal of India was almost tantamount to the notion of reversing the partition’s displacements. However, on August 19, 1948, during a cabinet meeting, Liaquat Ali Khan rejected the Indian idea of reversing the partition’s displacements and sought to threaten India to retaliate with the equal measures.

Not long after that, on September 4, 1948, Pakistan introduced the “permit” system just like India’s. The Pakistan Control of Entry Ordinance introduced in 1948 was implemented on not just non-Muslims but also the Muslims. In the coming days the “permit” system was heavily criticised by the government in East Pakistan so as in some government sections of West Pakistan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs pointed out that it was almost impossible for Pakistan to keep a strong vigilance over its borders and the long sea-coast; therefore, on that ground the Ministry suggested that the government of Pakistan should abandon the “permit” system and rather take its control over the sale of the “lower-class” train and ship ticket via which the heavy majority of refugees were arriving in Pakistan. On the other hand, the Interior Ministry defended the “permit” system and argued that the economy of Pakistan was in the thick of it, therefore it was necessary to keep the influx of refugees regulated through a “permit” system. The Interior Ministry also presented the stats of growing population in Karachi which, according to the Ministry, would impair the overall economy of Pakistan. The Interior Ministry also cited an example of Hyderabad which was ruled by a Muslim Nawab, but was taken over by the Indian Army in September of 1948; it argued that had it not been the “permit” system in functioning, the deluge of refugees would have arrived in Pakistan from Hyderabad just within few days, affecting the security and economic  condition of Pakistan.

More on “Muhajirs” in the next write up.