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Politics of faith: Deadly tug-of-war over the faith card



Allegations of blasphemy have rendered each place from Pakistan’s courts and universities to police stations, factories and worship locations a possible ‘crime scene’. Given how delicate and inherently emotive the problem is for a big phase of the populace, the specter of dying extends past prisons and the gallows for these accused or convicted. It waits for them within the streets and the open markets, usually earlier than a judicial course of may even start.

Regardless of the utmost sensitivity that the problem must be dealt with with, using the ‘faith card’ has been seen in Pakistan’s political enviornment for a while now. The usage of hate speech to incite populist sentiment, even violence, in opposition to one’s political opponents has develop into simply one other software for political leaders to settle scores. Religiously and politically, issues are sometimes blown out of proportion and misrepresented with out context to sway the general public opinion again in the direction of one’s personal camp. Tragically, this method persists despite the fact that the bigwigs of assorted political events have paid the value for standing up in opposition to non secular intolerance.

Within the on-going tussle between the ruling celebration and its ousted predecessor, a harmful precedent is being set. When a crowded mobbed and hurled slogans of ‘chor, chor’ (thief, thief) the members of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s delegation at Masjid-e-Nabvi – probably the most revered websites for all Muslims – the supporters of the ruling celebration accused the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf of orchestrating the incident. This, they charged, was tantamount to committing blasphemy by fully disregarding the respect for the holy website.

The extent of this disregard, the ruling celebration’s leaders and supporters claimed, was such that the protestors didn’t even spare Federal Minister for Data and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb and used profane language in opposition to her. Inside Minister Rana Sanaullah had famous that the general public sentiments had been badly damage and the sloganeering drew harsh criticism and condemnation from nearly everybody besides PTI management, particularly former premier Imran Khan, who has but to sentence the incident.

“The state of confrontation has reached such a stage that each side will apparently go to any extent to hurt one another with no holds barred,” Ahmed Bilal Mehboob of the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Improvement and Transparency (PILDAT) mentioned. The PILDAT president mentioned that PTI management, together with Dr Shirin Mazari, first attacked Dr Miftah Ismail for allegedly insulting faith. Now, Mehboob mentioned, PMLN appears to have returned the praise.

“Management of the events, particularly IK [Imran Khan] of PTI, should realise that this conflict will damage each along with the nation,” Mehboob mentioned. Except leaders step again and settle for political and constitutional course of, he mentioned, home peace, and legislation and order will come below higher menace. “It’s seemingly that issues stay unstable until some main appointments are made by later half of the yr and issues normalise thereafter,” Mehboob opined.

Quickly after the incident at Masjid-e-Nabvi, the Saudi authorities swung into motion and arrested a number of Pakistanis for his or her alleged involvement within the incident. Although the incident occurred out of Pakistan’s jurisdiction, it brought on such an outrage within the nation that individuals asking the legislation enforcers to register blasphemy circumstances in opposition to the ex-premier and PTI management, amongst others, thronged native police stations quickly after. In the meantime, the movies of individuals shouting the slogans of ‘thieves, traitors and turncoats’ saved circulating and spreading like hearth on social media.

The authorities involved have reportedly charged Imran Khan, his fellow PTI leaders and others with blasphemy. The transfer, nevertheless, opened up the controversy on whether or not an incident that occurred in one other nation ought to have led to the registration of circumstances in Pakistan, particularly when the proof linking the incident to these nominated within the circumstances had but to be conclusively established. Alternatively, the transfer to register the circumstances might have shifted some steadiness and fashionable assist within the PTI’s favour as even these outdoors of Imran Khan’s assist criticised the ruling celebration. These circles, specifically, harassed that such a step would deepen political polarisation amid the on-going political and financial instability the nation is affected by.

For Nighat Dad, a lawyer and a human rights activist, utilizing the faith card has at all times been extraordinarily harmful, particularly in Pakistan’s context due to the present blasphemy legal guidelines. Commenting on the completely different dimensions of the problem, Dad mentioned that there are two issues to be thought of: one is that the faith card is being performed on social media and the second is the influence this harmful narrative on-line can have past our on-line world, particularly when it leads to the lodging circumstances in opposition to folks below the blasphemy legislation.

Recalling that the weaponisation of blasphemy legal guidelines has taken place prior to now as effectively, Dad mentioned that probably the most harmful factor was that after anybody begins utilizing faith card or blasphemy accusations, the safety of the individual involved turns into extremely weak. “Not solely the net presence however offline safety of the individual involved is positioned in peril and in danger they usually begin feeling insecure,” she mentioned.

“In a rustic like Pakistan, it’s so simple for a mob to lynch somebody within the identify of faith and get away with it,” Dad mentioned, noting that the nation has seen lynching incidents on a number of events when the mobs attacked college students like Mashal Khan, members of assorted non secular minorities, political dissidents and activists. She felt strongly that any use of the faith card places lives at dangers, particularly, within the present setting of polarisation the place folks do not likely tolerate one another’s opinion.

The lodging of circumstances has additionally raised questions over weaponisation of blasphemy in an already polarised society because the transfer may pose critical dangers to lives of these accused of committing blasphemy even when they haven’t executed something or merely spoken in opposition to the misuse of the blasphemy legislation. The usage of blasphemy as a political instrument led to killing of Punjab’s ex-governor, Salman Taseer, by none aside from his guard as Taseer had sought to reform the blasphemy legal guidelines. Shockingly, the incident highlighted a transparent divide within the society over such incidents because the killing of Taseer by his guard, Mumtaz Qadri, promptly drew responses starting from lament to reward.

Equally, a scholar mob of Mardan’s Abdul Wali Khan College dragged 23-year-old Mashal Khan from his dormitory, beating him with picket sticks and pelting him with stones earlier than taking pictures him lifeless inside college premises, after some rumours circulated that he had allegedly posted “blasphemous content material” on Fb.

Pakistan Peoples Occasion’s Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar regretted that weaponizing blasphemy was one other low for our politics. “We’ve got seen how blasphemy prices prior to now have been used to settle grudges with disastrous penalties,” the Senator mentioned, “it’s a harmful pattern and in a society like ours the place extremism is rife the federal government should tread fastidiously.”

On the federal government’s response over Masjid-e-Nabvi incident, Khokhar mentioned that the incident at Masjid Nabvi had obtained widespread condemnation. He added that it’s as much as the Saudi authorities to take care of the hooliganism that occurred of their jurisdiction. “To register circumstances in Pakistan on what occurred in Saudi Arabia shouldn’t be solely inappropriate however maybe additionally legally untenable,” Khokhar mentioned.

In one other heart-wrenching incident, a Sri Lankan nationwide working as a basic supervisor of a clothes manufacturing facility, Priyantha Kumara, was bludgeoned to dying by manufacturing facility staff. The killing after which burning of Kumara’s corpse on a highway outdoors the manufacturing facility was prompted by allegations of blasphemy. Many, nevertheless, have identified that Kumara was focused by his subordinates over a private grudge and there was nothing to assist that he did something blasphemous – a treasured life like many others misplaced on mere allegations.

Notably, the nation has been capable of produce just one man, Malik Adnan, who stood up in opposition to mob lynching thus far. On nearly all different events, folks both stood across the crime scenes as bystanders or worse, had been discovered busy making movies of the brutal lynching of the victims of allegations.

Within the political sphere, Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan (TLP), whose ideology is prospering on vowing to guard blasphemy legal guidelines, has usually wreaked havoc when its protests paralysed the nation for days at successive events. It had even introduced the ruling events – PML-N and PTI – to their knees on the demand of severing ties with France and for the discharge of its chief earlier than being declared a proscribed group. Afterward, TLP and the federal government had inked a secret deal to finish deadlock. Surprisingly, TLP’s intimidation, threats, abuses and hatred to maximise political mileage got within the open however the settlement permitting launch of TLP chief and ‘forgetting’ concerning the deaths of the legislation enforcers and civilians has nonetheless been saved secret by PTI, TLP and the powers that be.

Political analyst Zaigham Khan regretted that using blasphemy prices by political events in opposition to one another was extraordinarily unlucky. “Although the faith card has been utilized by politicians and army dictators in Pakistan for the final seven many years,” Zaigham mentioned, “blasphemy been performed with so blatantly in politics solely in latest instances.” Zaigham, who’s an anthropologist and growth skilled too, recalled that the pattern of utilizing blasphemy card was witnessed earlier than 2018 elections when some media individuals in addition to some politicians had been accused of blaspheming to settle political scores.

“Politicians of the PML-N had been notably focused and one minister needed to resign,” he mentioned, saying “it seems that the PML-N desires to settle among the scores whereas being in authorities.” Zaigham mentioned that the circumstances in opposition to the PTI leaders on prices of injuring non secular sensibilities might be seen on this context, although circumstances have been registered below much less strict British period legal guidelines. “It’s an explosive state of affairs the place a small incident can result in a critical repercussions,” Zaigham feared. He urged each side to scale down and mentioned “that may occur provided that they sit down and agree on norms that they have to comply with and [implement in] their politics.”

In Pakistan, the victims going through allegations of blasphemy have at instances breathed their final whereas going through the judicial course of inside a courtroom. Or they may not even be protected in custody at police stations as mobs have burned down the identical to precise their anger over these going through the allegations. Aside from Muslim victims, minorities have mercilessly been focused over blasphemy allegations and even temples have been desecrated with impunity.

In its annual report for the yr 2021, the Human Rights Fee of Pakistan (HRCP) has noticed an uptick in blasphemy allegations, saying the misuse of the blasphemy legal guidelines have reached a brand new low with blasphemy allegations in opposition to an eight-year-old Hindu boy.

Whereas counting on the information obtained from Punjab police, the HRCP report states {that a} complete of 426 circumstances of blasphemy occurred in Punjab. At one other place within the report, HRCP mentioned that police knowledge signifies that 487 blasphemy circumstances had been registered in Punjab alone. The Fee whereas counting on the information of Sindh police said that complete 113 circumstances of blasphemy had been lodged in Sindh final yr. In response to HRCP’s request for info, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police revealed that 33 circumstances of blasphemy had been registered within the province. Balochistan police instructed HRCP that solely 5 blasphemy circumstances had been registered within the province in 2021 whereas the Islamabad Capital Police mentioned that complete eight circumstances of blasphemy had been lodged with the capital’s police.

Former minister for human rights Shireen Mazari whereas commenting on the problem mentioned that the submitting of blasphemy circumstances in opposition to former prime minister Imran Khan and his celebration management was politically motivated. She mentioned that the transfer had not solely threatened democracy in Pakistan but additionally the lives of the previous premier and his celebration’s senior management and members. Expressing that her place on the problem was the identical as she had wrote to the US particular rapporteurs and UNHCHR, Mazari termed the federal government’s transfer to register circumstances of blasphemy in opposition to Imran and celebration management utilizing the ‘pretext’ of Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia yelling “thieves” a ‘harmful’ step. The previous human rights minister mentioned that whereas the incident occurred in Saudi Arabia and whereas 5 to 6 folks had been arrested for sloganeering, no cost of blasphemy has been made in opposition to them. “Extra essential,” she wrote, “this was not a deliberate incident on the a part of Khan or his management.” To make use of the Madina incident as an excuse to file prices of blasphemy means endangering the lives of Khan and celebration members, Mazari added, stating that it additionally offers for making rapid arrests. One member of the Nationwide Meeting from a PTI-allied celebration – ex-federal minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed’s nephew Sheikh Rashid Shafiq – was arrested on arrival at Islamabad airport on blasphemy prices.

Whereas the FIR has not been filed by any authorities minister, Mazari mentioned, the incumbent inside minister mentioned in a press convention that the federal government supported these prices being filed and would arrest Khan and others shortly. “FIRs have been executed together with his blessing and on his orders,” she alleged, saying it’s additional substantiated as a result of a criticism below part 295A of the Pakistan Penal Code can’t be registered by the police on a citizen’s criticism however requires criticism on authorities’s order as per 196 of the Legal Process Code. On the misuse of the blasphemy legislation for political vendettas which endangers the lives of these accused, Mazari has requested the United Nations Particular Procedures mechanism to intervene to instantly stop the misuse of the blasphemy legislation in opposition to political opponents endangering not solely their lives however the lives of their households.

Commenting on Mazari’s letter to UN, Pakistan Democratic Motion (PDM) spokesperson Hafiz Hamdullah mentioned that she has invited worldwide institution to intervene in Pakistan’s inside politics and the PDM strongly condemns this undemocratic act and rejects it. Assuring that the legislation of blasphemy wouldn’t be used in opposition to anybody, Hamdullah mentioned that nobody was allowed to harm sentiments of Muslims via blasphemy. He reiterated that former premier Imran Khan has neither condemned the incident nor disassociated himself and the celebration from the folks concerned within the incident. Quite the opposite, he mentioned, the previous ministers of his celebration inspired the folks concerned in insulting the Prophet’s Mosque with varied tweets and statements.

A number of leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), together with the data and legislation ministers, had been requested to share their views however they didn’t reply until time of publishing.

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PML-N backed Gen Bajwa’s extension to ‘do away with fitna’: Sanaullah



  • Phrases social gathering’s resolution as a tactical manoeuvre ‘save nation’ from Imran’s onslaught

ISLAMABAD: Senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Rana Sanaullah on Friday stated that his social gathering had supported the extension for former military chief Gen (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa to deal with the political onslaught by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan.

“Some selections are a part of a technique as per the necessities of that point and this [Gen Bajwa’s extension] was one such resolution,” he stated throughout an interview with a non-public TV channel.

He termed the choice to help Gen Bajwa’s extension in 2020 as a tactical manoeuvre by the social gathering to fight what he known as the “fitna” or anarchy being inflicted upon the nation.

This marked Sanaullah’s second consecutive public denunciation of the previous navy management inside simply two days.

A day previous to this assertion, he additionally criticised former generals Bajwa and Faiz Hameed, branding them as “nationwide criminals” and calling for punitive measures towards them.

“The best way the PML-N introduced Gen Musharraf to justice, it should do the identical to [both men],” he had stated on Wednesday.

Earlier, one other social gathering chief Khurram Dastgir Khan had blamed some former judges of the Supreme Courtroom and ex-military generals for the present wave of inflation and inflated electrical energy payments.

“The group of judges who had disqualified Nawaz Sharif in 2017 is liable for the inflation as [the decision] dealt a blow to Pakistan’s financial stability and democracy,” PML-N’s former power minister Khurram Dastgir Khan stated.

“This group was supported by (former military chief) Basic Bajwa and (ex-DG ISI) Basic Faiz who imposed Imran Khan on the individuals of Pakistan after a protracted conspiracy,” Dastgir stated, including the PML-N’s monitor file of taking the nation out of energy-related disaster was “excellent”.

Nawaz Sharif had beforehand accused Bajwa of toppling his authorities, pressuring the judiciary and putting in the federal government of Imran Khan within the 2018 elections however his youthful brother, former PM Shehbaz Sharif has lauded the previous military chief’s companies when he bid farewell to him in November 2022.




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Ousted from CEC: PPP debars Latif Khosa’s celebration membership



ISLAMABAD: Failure to answer to the show-cause discover issued final week, the Pakistan Folks’s Occasion (PPP) on Friday not solely suspended celebration membership of the ‘disgruntled’ chief Sardar Latif Khosa but additionally ousted him from its central government committee (CEC).

PPP Secretary Basic Nayyar Bukhari confirmed the event to a non-public TV channel, saying the choice was taken after lawyer Khosa didn’t reply to the show-cause discover issued to him by the celebration final week.

On September 14, the PPP had issued a show-cause discover to Sardar Latif for “representing head of one other political celebration with out prior approval of [party] management”.

Though the latter didn’t point out anybody by identify, it was a transparent reference to PTI Chairman Imran Khan who was arrested final month within the Toshakhana case. Khosa has been representing the PTI chief in a number of instances registered towards him.

The ex-premier can also be going through a case underneath the Official Secrets and techniques Act which pertains to a diplomatic doc which reportedly went lacking from Imran’s possession. The PTI alleges that it contained a menace from the USA to oust Imran from energy.

The show-cause discover served on Latif Khosa learn: “You being member of central government committee are defending/pleading/representing a head of one other political celebration with out prior approval of management …whereas delivering a speech in legal professionals perform you criticised the state coverage concerning [the] cipher.

“You might be hereby by means of this present trigger discover requested to elucidate why disciplinary motion not be taken towards you for working towards the celebration coverage; the reply ought to attain the undersigned inside seven days, failing disciplinary motion might be taken towards you by withdrawing your membership…”

Beforehand, Khosa had additionally been served a show-cause discover for giving a press release in favour of the PTI chief.

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SC reshuffles administrative officers | Pakistan Right now



ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Courtroom of Pakistan (SC) on Friday introduced reshuffling in its administrative personnel.

The apex court docket after approval by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa issued notifications concerning transfers.

In accordance with the notification, Amer Saleem Rana, a District & Periods Choose (grade 21) serving as further registrar (grade 21) on deputation, has been repatriated to his mother or father division, the Lahore Excessive Courtroom.

The companies of Munawar Ali, a senior civil decide (grade 19), working as deputy registrar (grade 20) on deputation, have been returned to his mother or father division, the Sindh Excessive Courtroom, Karachi.

In a subsequent notification, Muhammad Akram Soomro, a senior auditor (grade 17) serving as assistant accounts officer (grade 17) on deputation in SC, is slated to return to his mother or father division, the Accountant Normal Pakistan Revenues, Islamabad, on September 22, 2023.

Lastly, Muhammad Owais, a senior civil judge-cum-magistrate (grade 19), who had assumed the position of deputy registrar (grade 20) on deputation, is ready to return to the Lahore Excessive Courtroom, efficient September 22, 2023.

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