A Christian is beaten by Pakistani police. (Photo: © Reuters). Photo courtesy of: The Clarion Project
by, Tahir Gora | The Clarion Project
The Pakistani Consul-General in Toronto, Muhammad Nafees Zakaria, was not happy when he had to listen to Canadian Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Chris Alexander. The Minister’s message was clear: Pakistan must address its human rights violations and mistreatment of minorities such as Hindus, Christians and Ahmadis.
Alexander was speaking to the International Christian Voice’s event in memory of Pakistani parliamentarian Shahbaz Bhatti, who was assassinated by the Taliban three years ago for demanding an end to the country’s blasphemy law. The blasphemy law is like a black sword hanging over the heads of Pakistan’s minorities. There is even a shameful declaration form for Ahmadi Muslims that declares them to be non-Muslims at the Consul-General’s Toronto office.
Alexander mentioned the Pakistani state authorities’ bleak record on free press. He talked about a journalist, Saleem Shahzad, who was allegedly killed by the notorious intelligence agencies.
Pakistani Consul-General Zakaria did not say a single word about repealing the blasphemy law. He didn’t even say he’d deliver the message to the Pakistani government. He couldn’t even bring himself to tell Canadian parliamentarians that he’d pass on their concerns to Islamabad, even if he doesn’t agree with Alexander.
Instead, Zakaria blamed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan for the problem of the Taliban in Pakistan. He framed the Taliban as a product of the covert U.S. effort against the Soviets, leaving Pakistan innocent and noble. This is a common excuse used by the Pakistani establishment that doesn’t want to take responsibility for their involvement in creating the problem of the Taliban and other extremists.
Pakistan’s establishment still considers those Islamic terrorists and their sharia-bound ideology as an asset for them strategically, even as the growing anarchy in the region and the actions of different Taliban groups force the Pakistani government to take a stronger stance.
The Consul-General’s discussion of the Taliban and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was a diversion.
The official declaration of Ahmadi Muslims as non-Muslims by the state of Pakistan happened long before the Soviet invasion. The blasphemy laws and oppression of minorities has nothing to do with that conflict.
The laws have made hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis flee the country. They have directly and indirectly caused hundreds of deaths and the destruction of dozens of churches, Hindu and Sikh temples and Ahmadi mosques.
Mr. Zakaria, Consul-General of Pakistan, please don’t be upset by our Minister Alexander’s sincere message to the Pakistani government. Please convey it and think about it.
Clean-up on aisle 6. Photo courtesy of: Khaama Press
‘..Muzzie go boom..’
by, Ghanizada | Khaama Press | h/t Trop
GHAZNI, Afghanistan: At least seven militants were killed while making improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in eastern Ghazni province of Afghanistan.
The interior ministry following a statement said the incident took place inside a mosque in Deh Yak district on Saturday.
The statement by interior ministry further added that the explosion left seven militants dead and there were no other casualties.
Interior ministry condemned the anti-government militant groups for using religious places for conducting terrorist activities and said such activities show that the militant groups are acting against the principles of Islam.
The anti-government militant groups including the Taliban militants frequently use improvised explosive device (IED) as the weapon of their choice to target Afghan and coalition security forces, however innocent civilians are mostly targeted in such attacks.
The United Nations in its latest report earlier last month also said that the improvised explosive device (IEDs) planted by anti-government armed militant groups, were the major contributor to civilian casualties in Afghanistan.
UN in its report said the anti-government armed militant groups were responsible for 34 percent of all civilian casualties which were caused due to improvised explosive device (IEDs).
by, Zofeen T. Ebrahim | Index on Censorship
The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) have pronounced that laws prohibiting child marriage in Pakistan are un-Islamic. The move has been slammed by a coalition of over a hundred Islamabad-based civili society organisations, who have labelled it a violation of Pakistani women’s and girls’ fundamental human rights. The CII is a constitutional body but its advice is non-binding on both the government and the parliament.
The CII’s declaration on early marriage follows hot on the heels of another controversial proclamation by its chairman Maulana Mohammad Khan Sheerani, saying that the current law requiring a man to seek written permission from his wife before contracting a second marriage should be amended.
Experts see these the CII’s priorities skewed at a time when the country is already reeling from an extremist onslaught for which there has been little condemnation from the same quarters. Instead, it has found fit to pick on issues that had long been settled and accepted by the Pakistani society.
“We are not conspiracy theorists, but are forced to wonder why such deliberately anti-women/girls advice comes now, 53 years after the Muslim Family Law Ordinance, 1961, was promulgated?” asked a group of civil society organisations, including Women Action Forum and Pakistan Reproductive Health Network, in a joint press release. The CII’s advice, it stated, came at a “critical juncture”, when the government was holding talks with the Taliban.
“Does the government wish to further appease and placate the bloodthirsty killers of 60,000 Pakistanis with further Islamisation and shariatisation measures? If so, why does the so-called Islamisation begin and end only with a violation of Pakistani women’s and girls’ fundamental human rights, enshrined in the unanimously endorsed constitution, and even before that, inherent in our humanity?” the statement read.
“This shows a mindset that is regressive,” says rights activist and documentary film maker Samar Minallah, who has worked extensively on highlighting traditions like Vani (women and girls given in marriage to hostile families as compensation for a relative’s crime to end feuds) and child marriage.
“It shows how Islam continues to be misinterpreted and distorted for political reasons,” Minallah continued, adding: “The shocking part is that the parliamentarians reinforce this mindset by remaining silent. It is a deliberate effort to create confusion and degrade women.”
Rafia Zakria, a lawyer and regular Dawn columnist, fears this may well legalise child abuse. She argues CII’s edict is unacceptable because “there are many Islamic scholars who have issued rulings opposing child marriage, highlighting the contractual aspect of Islamic marriage and the fact that minors cannot give consent hence making such marriages prima facie unacceptable.”
Zakaria also points out that Pakistan has ratified and signed several international treaties underscoring the necessity of protecting children especially girls. ”Cumulatively it will serve to substantiate stereotypes about Pakistan as a country that cannot respect the rights of women and children, and which is oriented backwards into ignorance as opposed to forward into enlightenment.”
“Health consequences of early marriage are grave and many,” explains Dr Farid Midhet who heads the Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP) in Pakistan for USAID.
The adolescent girl, he says, is incapable of fully understanding and bearing the burden of pregnancy and childbirth. “Probability of maternal death and neonatal death is significantly higher in the early ages (under 20 years).” Having worked in the field and with communities, Midhet says premature births and congenital abnormalities are higher among births to young mothers. In addition, he finds, there is an increased risk of malaria, sexually transmitted diseases and cervical cancer among women who marry early.
Apart from the physiological toll early marriage takes on a young girl, the social consequences are as grave. “Early marriage denies the girl child her right to education, bonding with her peers, personality development and mature thinking. Young girls are almost always married against their wishes, or they are unable to fully understand and give consent for the marriage,” he said.
And so Midhet feels it is important for public health experts to voice their concerns by “making a case against early marriage, listing the social, health, economic and religious factors, and then approach the CII (or other scholars/institutions) to request them to declare, or at least recommend, that girls must not be married while they are in puberty, and that delaying marriage is not against Islam.”
In their statement, the civil society coalition has urged the government to abolish CII and in the meantime replace chairman Maulana Mohammad Khan Sheerani with someone who is “educated, enlightened, progressive and a real Islamic scholar”. It also demanded that the government ensure at least 50 percent of CII members are female and 5 percent non-Muslims.
Obviously distraught, the little girl on the (left) has just learned that tomorrow is her wedding day to a 94-year-old Moslem man that she has never met. She is almost 1-year-old which makes her an eligible bachelorette in the Islamic world. Inshallah.
A new initiative to end child marriage in Pakistan will see the creation of child-marriage free zones.
by, The Clarion Project
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the UN special envoy on global education, has announced the establishment of “child-marriage free zones” in Pakistan, as part of a global effort to combat the practice.
The scheme will try to keep Pakistani girls in school. The UN has pledged $10 million and the 100 million euros to boost the number of children in education. Women’s education one of the cornerstones of the UN Millennium Development Goals, which aims to get every child into education by December 2015 (among other goals).
Gordon Brown said in his announcement “as part of our campaign to get every child at school, we want to remind people that the world does not want girls to be married as girls, as brides when they should be at school.” He made the announcement while on a visit to Islamabad at the invitation of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Child marriage is widespread in Pakistan, particularly in rural areas where literacy rates are low, and most children do not stay in full-time education. Many families are forced to sell their daughters to older men, as they cannot afford to feed them at home.
Charities, NGOs and activists have been campaigning against child marriage in Pakistan for some time. Action Aid and Girls Not Bridesrun their own campaigns in Pakistan specifically, as well as in other countries where child marriage is common. The Girl Effect fights to end child marriage and keep girls in education worldwide, based on the principle that educating girls and keeping them from becoming mothers too young breaks the cycle of poverty.
Pakistani lawmaker Marvi Memon is fighting to raise the fine for child marriage from $10 to $1,000. She told NBC “these girls are being treated as cattle. They are dying. We cannot have little girls being married off at 15 and 16 and being forced to produce kids. It doesn’t make sense medically, and it doesn’t make sense economically.” She is from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League.
Conservatives typically support the practice as traditional. The Council of Islamic Ideology, a body which advises the government on how to keep legislation compliant with sharia law, recently ruled that current restrictions on child-marriage are “un-Islamic.”
According to Mr. Brown there are seven million Pakistani children who are not in school.
Editorial Footnote: I think they already have “Child-Marriage Free Zones” in Pakistan. Those are the areas where the Christians and Hindus live. I bet those new child-marriage free zones will be the smallest, most remote parcels of uninhabitable land known to mankind. I’m quite sure no Moslem male.. especially a Pakistani Moslem male would come within a 1,000 yards of a “Child-Marriage Free Zone.” That is, unless he was coming only to rape and molest the little girls, like normal and then, drag them and their dolls off to be married outside of “the zone.” – j.s.m