Asia Bibi is trying to escape the bloodlust of the same blasphemy law that European courts are endorsing

Asia Bibi is trying to escape the bloodlust of the same blasphemy law that European courts are endorsing

By Kunwar Khuldune Shahid   On October 31, Asia Bibi, a Christian woman falsely accused of blasphemy, was acquitted by Pakistan’s Supreme Court. The nine-year horrific jail sentence that she undeservedly served was rooted in a glass of water that she was deemed ‘impure’ to touch, while the death row she escaped was founded on Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which deem that insults to Islam and Islam alone are a crime worthy of Constitutionally sanctioned death. While Pakistan’s apex court has established that Bibi did not utter any insulting remarks for…

In the Name of Religion

In the Name of Religion

By Ammara Mustafa Allahu Akbar they chant in a frenzy, In vain our men are slain in the name of religion Take off your rose tinted spectacles Dare to ponder and look around yourself. You – my dear, average Pakistani are not free,   Chaos is the disruptive violin playing in the air, Scare tactics are on the rise once again, Men in disguised robes have hijacked our country, Will the military intervene, will this noise end? Will the foundations of Islam be shaken so easily, Will humanity and justice…

A new day for Pakistan? The Asia Bibi Verdict

A new day for Pakistan? The Asia Bibi Verdict

By Saima Baig   A strange thing has happened in the land of the pure, the bastion of Islam that is Pakistan. A woman imprisoned for almost nine years and who was on death row for blasphemy has been acquitted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The reason I call this strange is that in Pakistan — it is. The country’s infamous blasphemy laws are used willy-nilly to settle personal scores and it is very difficult to be absolved of this ridiculous crime. Plenty of people are languishing in jail…

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 now been acquitted by a Pakistani court after being in jail for over seven years, with a death sentence hanging over her head). The…

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,…