A Deadly Silence

By: Agha Haider Raza

When Salmaan Taseer was assassinated eight weeks ago, I quoted Max Weber in my article: “If the power of violence shifts from the state to the people, we also see a shift from a state to anarchy”.  Weber’s paradigm of anarchy is becoming more evident in Pakistan as time progresses.  The brutal murder of Shahbaz Bhatti in Islamabad has solidified the notion that the PPP led government is ignoring extremism.  This perturbed ideology is challenging the writ of the State and if not handled with the delicacy and precision required, we will surely dissolve into a state of oblivion. Continue reading

Will The Political Establishment Wake Up?

By: Agha Haider Raza

Our country is at a crossroad.  Pakistan has come to a point where thousands believe they are righteous and have divine authority to carry out God’s acts on this earth.  The repugnant response by the supporters of Salman Taseer’s alleged killer has truly been mesmerizing.  Qadri’s fan base has distorted Islam to such an extent that it has become laughable to comprehend how they perceive themselves to be protecting the sanctity of Islam.  Are they protecting the very Islam, which teaches that murder of one human is the equivalent of killing mankind? Are they protecting the very Islam, which allows for questions over ambiguity? Are they protecting the very Islam that believes in modernity and equality for all? Continue reading

Learning from His Death

This article was published by Pakistan Today on January 11th, 2011. It  highlight the difficulties with which one can proceed on the blasphemy laws in Pakistan!

Salman Taseer will forever remain a hero of mine for the bravery he showed. But those who wish to change the blasphemy law need to adopt a different course of action.

“The Ornament of the World” is a wonderful book written some years ago by Maria Menocal, a professor at Yale University. The title of the book refers to 13th century Cordoba – a city which in those dark ages had libraries with hundreds of thousands of books, more than in all of England, a city in which Muslim, Jew and Christian all lived in the greatest harmony. But as Professor Mendocal notes, even in those days of peace and brotherhood, defamation of the Prophet was regarded as being so completely and utterly unacceptable that death was the only punishment.

Continue reading

Leave of Absence

Hi All! Now that I have graduated from college and am starting my professional career, I will not be active on my blog anymore.  It has been a great experience writing on making our country look towards a brighter future.  We are at a cross-road and the route upon which we travel will surely measure our success.  Hopefully my blog has set a ball in motion and will make us think outside of the box.  We must counter the threat of those who are seeking to destroy our future.  Pakistan’s glory days are yet to come.  Most successful nations of our time have had a turbulent past and Pakistan is no exception.  We must overcome the elements that are breaking our peaceful society.  Education should be our top priority in order to be exceptional.  Through my published articles and numerous blog postings, I hope that I have inspired and motivated many of us who assume we have a bleak future.  Thank you for your readership and support!

-AHR

There is nothing righteous in terror!

By: Agha Haider Raza

What happened in Lahore is truly one of the saddest and heart-wrenching incidents I have ever experienced as a Pakistani.  When places of worship no longer carry the sanctity they deserve, the stark divide in religious ideology is made clear in Pakistan.  After wandering around various blogs and reading horrible hate posts by people who label themselves as Muslims, I felt compelled to write to the terrorists and their followers directly.  It is mesmerizing that there are people in my country who actually applaud the heinous crime of killing innocent people, carrying out a crime against Islam, a crime against Pakistan.  I am shocked at the people who have the audacity to support those who kill in the name of our religion, one that bounds my faith for the timeless virtues of tolerance, compassion, and forgiveness. Continue reading

Times Square!

Just like the square itself, the news item of a lunatic Faisal Shahzad trying to set a car on fire has attracted millions of viewers.  Without diving into the act itself, the consequences are more important.  Various conspiracy theories have arisen from the right-wing in Pakistan who are exclaiming that with the help of the botched bombing the United States are going to force the Pakistan Army into North Waziristan, whereas the left are trying to break the link between Shahzad and a nation of 180 million. After all, Shahzad is a US citizen who has been residing in the United States for many years.  In an already fractured relationship, Obama and his administration need to tread rather carefully as much anger, resentment and fear lies below the surface. Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations has done a wonderful job of explaining where Pakistan is coming from.  From being articulate to comprehensive, a much needed voice needs to be aired in both Pakistan and the United States to continue strengthening the Pak-US relationship.

I apologize in advance, for some reason I cannot add a flash video here. Please do follow the link to see the interview of Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations.  http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6471329n&tag=api

Giving Credit Where It’s Due

Published in the Daily Times Giving Credit Where It’s Due (April 26th, 2010) looks to change the prevalent thought process in Pakistan. For far too long we have been pessimistic in regards to the future of our country. We have let too many domestic and foreign hands change the course of our tomorrow. It is time we cease to let negative elements contaminate our society. We log for a brighter future and at the critical point in time we find ourselves, now is the time for action. Now is the time to take control of our lives.

Pakistan recently had two major delegations visiting the US. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi led the first contingent under the auspices of a new ‘Strategic Dialogue’ with the US. In the second trip, Prime Minister Gilani led his team to President Obama’s first Nuclear Summit. Attended by over 47 heads of state, the summit was the largest gathering of world leaders to descend upon the US soil since the 1940s. Recognised as one of the world’s safe-keepers of a nuclear stockpile, Pakistan gained a nod of approval from the world’s seven nuclear bomb carriers.

I am unaware if many journalists or citizens in Pakistan read foreign newspapers, magazines or even blogs, but over the course of the nuclear summit, many international media outlets praised our country. From the words of admiration showered on Pakistan by President Obama for keeping its nuclear arsenal safe, to the positive role played by Prime Minister Gilani, it was our time to be in the limelight. Much attention was directed towards the professionalism of Army Chief General Parvez Kayani while the brilliant display of diplomacy carried out by Ambassador Husain Haqqani did not go unnoticed. Penned as a key ally of the US and taking the war to the very militants who threaten the fabric of our peace and security, Pakistan garnered much respect from the world community.

I believe we are witnessing a new dawn. President Zardari has probably received more hate mail in his current tenure than the dictator Pervez Musharraf did in his nine-year rule. But Zardari did not suspend the constitution; he did not depose the chief justice, nor introduce the Legal Framework Order (LFO); nor did he chalk out the 17th Amendment, which put a black mark on our constitution. Rather, the current president put into place the 18th Amendment, which rectified the above-mentioned wrongs done by a military dictator. Giving credit where it is due, I think we have seen the rise of a new dawn.

Ironically, many journalists and media personalities in Pakistan are still unhappy with the current set-up. Earlier they used to admonish Zardari for not shifting the authority granted to him under the 17th Amendment to the rightful heir, the prime minister. With a streak of vengeance, columnists penned articles day after day, inciting anger and hatred towards Mr Zardari. But, like spoilt children, these journalists have not applauded the transfer of power, and have found nothing but faults in the latest legislation. In my humble opinion, they have continued in the age-old habit of misconstruing facts to suit their own needs.

Constantly speculating on motley issues, from clash between the judiciary and the executive to resignation of Mr Zardari after the abolition of the NRO to demanding expulsion of Ambassador Haqqani within 48 hours (which was sometime in October last year), these reporters have used every ploy to bring down the current government. Mind you, I am not arguing that the Zardari administration does not have its flaws, but surely we can give credit where it is due, especially if it is in the interest of our nation.

One of the reasons many Pakistanis showed dissent towards the US over the past decade was due to President Bush’s blind support of General Musharraf. A bitter relationship between Pakistan and the US stemmed from the love affair of these two polarising figures. Citizens of both countries were wary of the other, while public perception of Pakistan in the US was at an all time low and vice versa. During the Busharraf years we constantly heard the mantra of “do more”, while the Bush administration turned a blind eye towards the undemocratic steps taken by General Musharraf.

President Obama strode into office, articulating a new, stronger and secure relationship with the Muslim world, especially with Pakistan, due to our deep involvement in the war on terror. Placing Ambassador Haqqani at the helm of affairs has led to a much-needed boost in what was a tattered relationship with the US. Much criticism was directed at Mr Haqqani during the Kerry-Lugar saga, but many have failed to acknowledge the depth of the strong bond our ambassador has secured with the US. It was through the efforts of Mr Haqqani that Pakistan was able to procure the long-delayed F-16s and the crucial grant of $ 7.5 billion in non-military aid.

If we, as a nation, constantly harp on the past, we may never be able to see the future. We are not out of the woods yet, but that does not mean we will remain in this perpetual cycle of suicide bombings and low standard of living. Constantly bickering over the role of President Zardari or his appointees will lead us nowhere. The primary reason for fighting for an independent judiciary was to have an accountability mechanism in place. A section of the current ‘independent’ media needs to stop finding fault with every positive initiative the government has undertaken. Giving credit where it is due and holding elected officials accountable for their actions while in public office is the way to go and truly enjoy the fruits of democracy we strive for.