Blasphemy: Pakistan’s curse

Blasphemy: Pakistan’s curse

By Saima Baig   India’s British rulers first codified offences against religion in 1860, which were then expanded in 1927. When Pakistan become a separate country, it inherited these laws; and decided to keep them. In the 1980s, Zia ul Haq added more clauses to this ridiculous and frankly unnecessary law. Over the years, this law been used to put people in jail (Aasia Bibi has been in jail for over seven years, with a death sentence hanging over her head). The mere concept of blasphemy has been used to…

Is Imran Khan Pakistan’s Donald Trump?

Is Imran Khan Pakistan’s Donald Trump?

By Yasmin Rehman Millions of Pakistanis voted in elections on July 25, resulting in victory for the leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Imran Khan. Polling day, in line with so many days in Pakistan, was marred by Islamist violence.  In the murky world of Pakistani politics, the run up to the elections was eventful, with allegations of pre-poll rigging, media censorship and the imprisonment of the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on corruption charges. As I watched all this from the safe distance of the UK, I could not help but wonder…

Pakistan and the new East India Company

Pakistan and the new East India Company

By Saima Baig   “In the infancy of societies, the chiefs of state shape its institutions; later the institutions shape the chiefs of state,” said Charles de Montesquieu. This is certainly true for Pakistan where one particular institution, or at least its successive doyens, have played nine pins with every chief the country has had after the first decade of its existence. In the early days the army controlled the country blatantly through martial law, of which we have had plenty. It started to look as though that we had…

Normalising the hijab

Normalising the hijab

By Arshia Malik There was recently a news report about Nike unveiling modest sportswear range – the Nike Pro Hijab . I recalled when we first got a male professional coach for basketball in 1988 and the all girls’ school team was being put together. Being the athlete that I was, I of course signed up and started looking for the usual: shorts; skirts; trainers and T-shirts — a requirement on the court. Gradually, the realisation that this was Srinagar and not New Delhi dawned as the first impediments to a normal,…

Of women and girls

Of women and girls

By Arshia Malik   There is no end to the hypocrisy of Muslims. On the one hand, every time, a daughter is born, the only thing that looms large in the minds of the subcontinental Muslims is the daughter’s marriage. From birth onwards, they tend to see the female offspring as somebody to shove off the minute she is of the ”proper marriageable age” which can be anywhere from 15 to the ‘old maid’ 28. At every waking hour the talk around the home is centered around the ”dowry” they…

Indian Muslim Women: The New Warriors in the Fight for Justice

Indian Muslim Women: The New Warriors in the Fight for Justice

By Arshia Malik   It is a very crucial time for Indian Muslims, especially the women. The fight that they have entrenched themselves in for abolishing the triple talaq, the talaq halala and polygamy, all regressive practices in Islam with no Quranic sanction, just got bigger with the larger reform recommendation of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC)  projected under the slogan One Nation, One Law taken up by political parties. The Women’s Movement of India spearheading this revolutionary change is doing all it can to end the choke hold of…

Pakistan: Whither freedoms and whither rights? 

Pakistan: Whither freedoms and whither rights? 

By Saima Baig On October 7, 2016, an article appeared in Pakistan’s Dawn Newspaper, alleging that in a civil military leadership meeting, the Government (prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his brother and other senior officials were present) had told the military representatives that if they did not make more efforts to go after terrorists, Pakistan will be isolated. Journalist Cyril Almeida, one of the newspaper’s senior writers, had reported that an argument had taken place between members of the Pakistani government and the army over lack of action against militant groups,…

The ‘M-word’ that you’re not supposed to say out loud

The ‘M-word’ that you’re not supposed to say out loud

By Shamila Ghyas (This is a cross-post from The Nation )     Recently, students at Beaconhouse National University in Lahore protested against the stigmatisation of the ‘M word that should not be mentioned’ because it is supposedly every female’s dirty little secret. They used shock value to get their message across by sticking sanitary pads on a wall – each with a different message: “I am not flawed or poorly made” “Don’t hide me” Some girls even walked around with stains on their shirts.  One thing that everyone needs to understand is…

Pakistan’s Women: Honour and Shame

Pakistan’s Women: Honour and Shame

By Muna Adil   In February 2016, Pakistani filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy won her second Oscar award for ‘A Girl in the River’, her ground-breaking documentary on the practice of honour killings in Pakistan. A spectacular personal achievement for Chinoy, a proud moment for Pakistan, and an excellent opportunity for much-needed awareness and dialogue. But not everyone was delighted at the win. The morning after the Oscars, ‘#WeDisownSharmeen’ was trending in the number one spot on Pakistani Twitter. The crux of the argument against Chinoy was that she was ‘unpatriotic’ for…

The likes of Nazimuddin Samad cannot die in vain

The likes of Nazimuddin Samad cannot die in vain

By Malia B   Nazimuddin Samad, a 28 year old law student, was brutally murdered on 7th April, 2016 by Islamists in Bangladesh. His ‘crime’ – being critical of Islamism. He is the sixth Bangladeshi atheist/secular blogger to be killed in the last 15 months. The horror of what happened to Nazimuddin has sadly become the norm these days. It is almost an accepted form of hatred and resultant crime because he was provoking the delicate Islamists in his nation. Some asked, what did he expect in return? He was being…