Tag Archives: Pakistan
It is with disgust that I am writing this note on the Muslims who recently attacked two churches in Peshawar, where over 70 Christians were murdered. I want to bring to attention several fundamental points in Islam that completely and utterly denounce hatred or acts of violence on Christians.
I have written about this very subject in the aftermath of the attacks on the Coptic Christians in Egypt. In that article I focused primarily on the message of the Prophet Muhammad for Muslims on how they should treat their Christian neighbors. In this piece I turn to broader spectrums found within Islamic scripture, albeit to prove the same point – that Muslim attacks on Christians are incompatible with Islamic teachings.
First and foremost, the Qur’an tells us: “And you will surely find that of all people, they who say: ‘We are Christians’ are closets to felling affection for those who believe. This is because there are priests and monks among them, and because they are not arrogant.” The Qur’an teaches Muslims to be respectful and to even admire Christians for their belief in the Abrahamic God. This is clear.
The Prophet Muhammad warned Muslims against acts of bigotry towards Christians and Jews, or People of the Book. Muhammad himself said, “Whoever hurts a person from the People of the Book, it will be as though he hurt me personally.” In essence, by attacking the Christians of Peshawar, radical Muslims are in fact denouncing the message of Muhammad. Nothing is more un-Islamic than this abhorrent act.
In following the Abrahamic tradition, the Qur’an (2:136) states: “We [Muslims] believe in God, and the revelation given to us, and the revelation given to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) the prophets from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another of them, and to Him we are submitters.” This Qur’anic passage suggests that Muslims, Christians, and Jews are all indeed brothers and sisters and that an attack on one is an attack on all.
It is clear that Islam emphasizes the oneness of humanity. For example, the Qur’an (4:1) states: “O mankind, fear your Guardian Lord, who created you from a single self and created – out of it – its mate, and made from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women.” In Islam, therefore, all people have the same basic human rights, including the right to choose a religion without physical or mental coercion.
Islam, moreover, is not an exclusive religion. According to the Qur’an (6:164), God is the ultimate judge of our behaviour: “Your return in the end is toward Allah [God] [...] He will tell you the truth of the things wherein you disputed.” In fact, Islam is an inclusive religion. It is an obligation of every single Muslim who honestly professes Islam to believe in Moses and Jesus and the rest of the Abrahamic prophets.
It is required by every Muslim to not only respect but also to embrace their Christian neighbors. Islam teaches Muslims to do the polar opposite of what the terrorists did yesterday to the two churches in Peshawar. It is a bit awkward for me to have to write this note considering that I am a Christian. Sometimes I feel that I understand Islam more than some so-called ‘Muslims’. What do you think?
Tags: Abrahamic tradition, Allah, Churches, Egypt, Humanity, Islam, Minorities, Muhammad, Muslim, Pakistan, Pakistani Christians, People of the Book, Peshawar, Prophet Muhammad, Qur'an, Terrorism, Tolerance
There’s a heart-warming story coming out of Rome about the head of a papal agency that gives help to Christians in the Middle East.
According to Monsignor John E. Kozar, president of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association and native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, “[t]he broad majority of Muslims are people of good-will.” Kozar claims that the Middle Eastern Muslims in the midst of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association are “[n]ot only tolerant of us Christians, they’re even supportive. They value the schools and clinics that we have.”
I would love to see more top Catholic officials come out in support of our Muslim brethren (and vice versa for that matter). In addition, I would like to see Pope Francis I address the persecution of Catholics in Pakistan, a Muslim majority country. Indeed, I have addressed this issue in a previous post.
Ironically, during the rule of Akbar the Great on the Indian subcontinent, Jesuit missionaries were welcomed into the Mughal court for an interfaith session. Unfortunately, Pakistan has fallen far from those glorious days of Akbar, whose spirit of tolerance is much needed in today’s world. Luckily, we have leaders like Monsignor Kozar who understand the importance of building bridges across the religious divide. Let us pray for his work and continued success.
Tags: Akbar, Akbar the Great, Catholic, Catholic Near East Welfare Association, Catholics and Muslims, Catholics in Pakistan, Christian, Christians, Christians in the Middle East, Interfaith Dialogue, Middle East, Monsignor John E. Kozar, Monsignor John E. Kozar on Muslims, Muslim, Muslims, Pakistan, Pittsburgh, Tolerance
Several weeks ago, my friend and kindred spirit Qasim Rashid sent me a digital copy of his highly anticipated book The Wrong Kind of Muslim: An Untold Story of Persecution and Perseverance. I started reading it one early morning in my flat in Dublin, Ireland, thinking I would read a few chapters and maybe wrap up the entire book in a few weeks. However, 24 hours after I started reading the book, I was finished with it.The Wrong Kind of Muslim is one of those kind of books.
The Wrong Kind of Muslim is the true story of Rashid’s experiences as an Ahmadi, a minority group of Muslims referred to in Pakistan as wajib ul qatl, or “worthy of death.” The book takes you on a riveting personal journey in which Rashid compiles shockingly true stories of terror and compassion. Over several years, Rashid traveled tens of thousands of miles and spent countless hours meeting with Ahmadis from all over the world.
On his journey, Rashid “visited bloodsplattered mosques, touched scars left by gunfire, grenades, and shrapnel, and prayed for the departed at their final resting places.” Rashid “held a mother’s hand as she wept for her son and husband” and “trembled as a son related the intimate account of his father’s cold-blooded execution before his eyes.” On several occasions during his journey, he sat speechless as members of his own family related what they were certain were their final moments on Earth. As you can imagine, I also found myself speechless. It is a powerful journey.
The Wrong Kind of Muslim, however, is about much more than the struggle of being an Ahmadi Muslim. It is a book about religious freedom and tolerance. It is not a story only for Ahmadis; it is for all of us – Christians, Jews, Hindus, Atheists and so on – who face the cancer that is religious bigotry. The Wrong Kind of Muslim is a book which aims “to fight for the rights of all people to enjoy freedom of conscience without oppression – atheists and agnostics being no exception.”
Early in the book, Rashid shares an experience that occurred to him when he was a young teenager in Chicago. He found himself in a quarrel with a passionate Evangelical Christian, who tried to convince him that Christianity – not Islam – was the “true religion.” Frustrated with his inability to adequately respond to the charge that Islam is simply a run-off of Christianity, Rashid returned home to seek advice from his father, himself a religious scholar. Confused as to which was the “right” and “wrong” religion, Rashid struggled to figure out where he stood in his own Muslim beliefs. Rashid’s father responded by saying “No one can tell you what to believe. And I certainly won’t. You’re a smart kid. Go figure it out.” His father continued: “if you want to spend your life just proving other teachings wrong, then what you believe isn’t belief, it’s being a blind follower.”
The exchange between Rashid and his father forms the thesis of The Wrong Kind of Muslim: that freedom of conscience – that inner feeling and voice that guides you to the right behavior – is quintessential if we as human beings are to attain spiritual enlightenment. After talking with his father, Rashid decided to face his fear – that which he did not understand – in studying other faiths by using his conscience. In doing so, he learned the importance of differentiating “between religion and religious manipulation.” “People need to find their own truth through their own experiences,” writes Rashid. He continues: “This is the ultimate aim for the human conscience. Nothing is more important for an individual to be at peace with his Creator.”
Oppression of conscience, for Rashid, can also “transform, or rather, deform, a nation,” which he claims has happened to his native Pakistan. He claims that the unfortunate reality in Pakistan is that “going to worship services has become a life-or-death dare” not only for Ahmadis, but also for Shia Muslims, Christians, and Hindus. He shares the horrible story of his cousin, who was held against his will, without charge, and tortured for six days simply for being an Ahmadi.
In another scene, which brought me to tears, Rashid explains with excruciating detail a terrorist attack at a mosque which claimed the lives of dozens of Ahmadis. An elderly man in his nineties, who had fought in three wars for the Pakistani Army, was killed by a violent extremist simply for being an Ahmadi. Another former Pakistani soldier was also killed in the same attack. Rashid writes that these two men “loved their country. Their proud military service demonstrated that, despite the persecution, they saw no conflict between being an Ahmadi Muslim and being a Pakistani. After decades of service protecting their countrymen, both died at the hands of the citizens they protected.” For Rashid, the terrorists who attacked the Ahmadi mosque and killed these soldiers “did nothing more than prove who were the wrong kind of Muslims.”
The Wrong Kind of Muslim is a call for Pakistan to rid itself of bigotry and return to its pluralist vision as outlined by its founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Jinnah, as Rashid notes, never wanted Pakistan “to be a theocratic State to be ruled by priests with a divine mission.” Rashid again cites Jinnah, who stated that “[w]e have many non-Muslims – Hindus, Christians, and Parsis, but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as many other citizens and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan.”
For Pakistan to have any hope of survival, Rashid believes that “its oppressive ideology ingrained in blasphemy laws must be uprooted and discarded, and replaced with education, pluralism, tolerance, and compassion. Pakistan’s current path only leads to self-destruction.” The biggest victims of the persecution of Pakistan’s religious minorities, as Rashid notes, “are Pakistan’s future generations, raised in a world where might is right, and righteousness is wrong.”
Nonetheless, The Wrong Kind of Muslim is not all doom-and-gloom. Rashid shares heart-warming and compassionate stories, such as that of his grandfather, who was protected by non-Ahmadi neighbors from a mob of weapon-holding anti-Ahmadi extremists. He writes about a non-Ahmadi Muslim girl sticking up for a fifteen year-old Ahmadi girl being harassed by her school teacher for her religious beliefs. He notes a story about the Khalifa, or head of the global Ahmadi community, and how he was stabbed in the neck by a terrorist, only to have so much compassion that he actually provided a stipend from his own money to cover the living cost of the family of his attempted murderer. Despite the abhorrent violence against minority religious communities, there are Pakistanis “who love humanity for the sake of humanity in Pakistan.”
Rashid is an American citizen on top of his Ahmadi and Pakistani identities, and he would like nothing more than for his fellow Americans to also adhere to the pluralist vision of the American founding fathers. At one point in the middle of The Wrong Kind of Muslim, Rashid makes an important parallel between extremist groups in Pakistan and the U.S. He refers to the similar radical teachings of the influential Pakistani intellectual Abul A’la Maududi, and the Klu Klux Klan leader David Duke, both of whom share a similar hateful ideology towards those outside of their religious circles.
Much of what Rashid posits in The Wrong Kind of Muslim is nearly identical to the ideas on religious freedom of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Washington, for example, made it clear in a 1792 letter that quarrels over religious differences were “the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be deprecated.” He was explicit in his recommendation to avoid religious disputes because he felt that such problems “endanger the peace of society.” Similarly, Jefferson stated in 1782 that it does him “no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” Writing in a 1789 letter to Francis Hopkinson, Jefferson also wrote that he “never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion… where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent.” The Wrong Kind of Muslim echoes Jefferson when Rashid writes that “either you champion [freedom of conscience], or you oppress it. No such middle ground exists.”
The Wrong Kind of Muslim reminds me of how lucky Rashid and I are to be American citizens. While the U.S. is not, never has been, and never will be perfect in terms of protecting and promoting religious freedom, it does serve as a role model to the world for its adherence to pluralism. Rashid reminds us of this point in the story of Dr. Abdus Salam, an Ahmadi Pakistani Nobel Prize winner who is not even recognized as ” real Muslim” in his home state of Pakistan. Rashid points out that at least in the U.S., Americans “celebrate Jewish Albert Einstein, Buddhist Steve Jobs, Christian Bill Gates, and atheist Stephen Hawking – regardless of their faith, or lack thereof.”
Ironically, as Rashid notes, Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan maintain a 100 percent literacy rate in a country with only a 50 percent literacy rate. He provides these statistics “not to boast about Ahmadis, but to prove a simple point. Conventional wisdom would assume that a nation would promote and learn from its most educated citizens. Having recognized how Pakistan treats Dr. Abdus Salam, for instance, I realized conventional wisdom was not all that conventional in Pakistan.”
Rashid advises all people to counter religious extremism by fighting “intolerance with tolerance, apathy with education, and fear with compassion.” In reading this line, I cannot help but be struck of how eerily similar it is to an idea uttered by the great Martin Luther King Jr.: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
The Wrong Kind of Muslim is Rashid’s very own jihad. Not a violent jihad, or struggle, like bin Laden’s, but the right kind of jihad – a jihad of the pen. Following a famous hadith of Muhammad, who stated that “the ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr,” Rashid is emphasizing the importance of ilm, the Arabic term for knowledge, in his own faith. We would all be wise to heed his advice and take up our own jihad against bigotry and ignorance.
Ultimately, The Wrong Kind of Muslim is a call to fight all forms of religious extremist ideologies, which Rashid describes as a dying, dangerous and destructive ideology that is only worth abandoning and condemning. If you want to channel your inner humanity, if you want to fight ignorance and incivility, then I suggest you read Rashid’s The Wrong Kind of Muslim. He might just convince you that peace cannot exist without religious freedom.
Tags: Ahmadi, Ahmadi Community, Ahmadi Muslims, Ahmadiyya, American founding fathers, Bigotry, Book Review, Craig Considine, Dr. Abdus Salam, Islam, Jihad, Jihad of the Pen, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Muslim, Pakistan, Persecution, Qasim Rashid, Rashid, Religious extremism, Religious freedom, Religious violence, Terrorism, The Wrong Kind of Muslim, Tolerance
News this morning from Balochistan is not so great. The home of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founding father of Pakistan, has been attacked and pretty much destroyed by extremists. CNN reports:
Assailants bombed the home of the Pakistani founding father early Saturday, killing a police officer who fought back and injuring an employee, authorities said.
Four attackers entered the home in the dead of the night, planted the timed bombs and fled, said Tahir Nadeem, the local deputy commissioner.
All memorabilia in the home was destroyed by the fiery blaze that engulfed the wooden areas, Nadeem said.
The items included chairs, beds and historic photographs of the founder.
The attack occurred in Ziarat, one of the country’s top tourist points. It is 150 km from the provincial capital of Quetta.
Jinnah spent the last days of his life at the home.
To put the attack in context, imagine extremists attacking Mount Vernon, the residence of George Washington, or bombing Monticello, the magnificent home of Thomas Jefferson.
Washington and Jefferson are two of America’s founding fathers. Both men helped bring Americans through their independence struggle and into their life as a bustling young nation.
Jinnah basically did the same thing for Pakistan, except he was not necessarily one of many founding fathers. He was the founding father.
“You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship. . . . We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state.”
These are the words of a founding father — but not one of the founders that America will be celebrating this Fourth of July weekend. They were uttered by Mohammed Ali Jinnah, founder of the state of Pakistan in 1947 and the Muslim world’s answer to Thomas Jefferson.
Jinnah’s home being hit is a symbolic attack on the foundation of the pluralist state laid out by Jinnah. His home is not the only thing suffering today. So too is Pakistani identity.
Tags: Akbar Ahmed, Balochistan, Balochistan Pakistan, Bombing, CNN, Founding Fathers, George Washington, Jinnah's home destroyed, Jinnah's house, Jinnah's house attacked, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan, Pakistani founding father, Quaid e Azam, Tahir Nadeem, Thomas Jefferson, Ziarat
I’m happy to finally present in its entirety Akbar Ahmed‘s “Journey into America,” which I had the honor of directing.
“Journey into America” is arguably the most comprehensive documentary ever done on Muslims in America. The film explores the issue of what it means to be American through the lens of Muslims.
Ahmed’s documentary has been called “an essential pillar in the effort to build the interfaith bridge of understanding” by Congressman Keith Ellison, America’s first ever Muslim representative on Capitol Hill. Ellison added that “‘Journey into America’ will inform, provoke, and inspire Americans of all colors, cultures, and faiths.”
A complete list of blurbs and reviews can be found here.
Before watching make sure to switch the viewing setting to HD for best quality.
Tags: 9/11, Ahmed, Akbar Ahmed, American culture documentary, Capitol Hill, Documentary, Film-work, Full version, Islam in America, Islam in America documentary, Islamophobia documentary, Journey into America, Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam, Keith Ellison, Muslim, Muslims in America documentary, Pakistan, Politics documentary, Religion documentary, United States, War on Terror
Renowned scholar Akbar Ahmed discusses his new book The Thistle and the Drone: How America’s War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam and elaborates on the devastating consequences of the U.S.’s drone bombing campaign in the tribal areas of Pakistan.
Tags: Akbar Ahmed, Barack Obama, Children, Civilians, Death count, Documentary, Drone War, Pakistan, Pashtuns, Short documentary, The Thistle and the Drone: How America's War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam, Tribal areas of Pakistan, Tribal societies, War, War on Terror, Waziristan, wrong enemy, wrong methods, Wrong war
Hundreds of Pakistani Catholics recently lost their homes and livelihood in a widespread arson attack in the predominantly Catholic neighborhood of Joseph Colony, Lahore. In response to the attack, Rohan Emmanuel, a Pakistan writer, wrote in The Express Tribune of the Vatican’s unfortunate silence on the plight of Pakistani Catholics and other Christian communities in Pakistan. He notes that throughout history, the pope ”has had little to no words of reassurance or condemnation for the Christian population here [Pakistan].” “Not a word has been uttered [by the Vatican] to relieve the Christians of their trauma – not a word has been said to condemn these grotesque incidents.”
After speaking to many Catholics and other Christians from local communities, Emmanuel drew the conclusion that “after all that they [Pakistani Christians] have been through and with their calls for help gone unheard, indignation has replaced hope.” He continues: “There is no hope attached to the selection fo the pope as they have never directly benefited from them. Hopes are pinned only when you believe that someone will hear or address the concerns you may have had and in this case, the pope has failed the Christians of Pakistan – we seem not to matter – not to our government and not to our own pope.”
Time is ripe for Pope Francis I to make a strong statement regarding the persecuted Catholic community in Pakistan and the lackluster response of the Pakistani government to the latest attack in Joseph Colony. Doing so can help strengthen the psyche and resilience of Pakistani Catholics and help the Vatican form stronger bonds with their periphery communities, which are often the most neglected and vulnerable.
Tags: Catholic Church, Catholic community, Christian, Christians in Pakistan, Express Tribune, Fear, Hope, Joseph Colony, Lahore, Pakistan, Pakistani Catholics, Pope, Pope Francis, Pope Francis I, Religion News, Religious freedom, Religious persecution, Rohan Emmanuel, Vatican, Vatican news
Source: LAFZ media
Click HERE to access the article.
This is an especially important publication because it reaches in area of the world which has been fundamentally impacted by various conflicts in the post-9/11 world. In fact, President Obama has called this area ‘the most dangerous place in the world’.
The Frontier Post is the only English-language newspaper distributed through Pakistan and Afghanistan collectively, The Frontier Post is based in Peshawar, inKhyber Pakhtunkhwa, previously known as the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan.
According to http://www.khyberpakhtunkhwa.gov.pk/:
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is one of the most legendary places on earth. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as it is and was popularly known, of all Pakistan’s Provinces, is arguably the most diverse ethnically, the most varied in terrain and sports a vigorous cultural spectrum.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa conjures up a world of valour and war, of rugged men and mountains, of tribesmen shaped in a heroic, hos¬pitable mould. Gateway to the Subcontinent, since times immemorial, it has witnessed migration-waves of peoples,campaigns of conquerors, flow of innumerable caravans of commerce, influx of intellectuals, artists, poets and saints from the north into its fertile valleys and onwards to the plains of the Punjab, Sindh and beyond the Indus to South Asia.
Tags: Afghanistan, Bridge building, Conflict, Craig Considine, Frontier Post, Interfaith initiative, Journey into America, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Khyber Paktunkwha, North-West Frontier Province, One Film 9/11, Pakistan, Peshawar, Provinces, Sindh, South Asia, The Frontier Post, West vs. Islam
THE POINT OF THE ARTICLE is to highlight some of the more positive things about Pakistan and Pakistanis which are often neglected in the U.S. and beyond. It appears that nearly half the people who commented below have utterly missed this point. The negativity here is due to people not knowing how to respond to a positive article about Pakistan. They’ve been so brainwashed by the Western media to see Pakistanis only through the prism of violence, terrorism, and corruption. It’s like a bomb has gone off in their brain when they see something positive written about Pakistan! Lastly, Ambassador Ahmed’s voice needs to be heard, not silenced. I question the motives of those who attack him for wanting to make Pakistan stronger and for hoping that the US and Pakistan can become stronger allies. Is it jealousy? Is it that they’re bogged down by blinders in their own brain?
By Akbar Ahmed – Richard Clarke described Pakistan as a nation of “pathological liars” on the Bill Maher Show last year. He also called Pakistanis “paranoid.” In the public mind there is little apart from suicide bombings, terrorism, violence and corruption associated with Pakistan. Commentators freely call Pakistan a “nursery for terrorism.” Every news item from that country confirms this image — whether the shocking news that Osama bin Laden lived just by Pakistan’s premier military academy with Pakistanis claiming they had no idea about his whereabouts, or the shooting, a couple of weeks ago, of Malala Yousufzai, the 14-year-old girl, whose only crime was that she wanted an education.
Surely there is more to Pakistan than this? Yes, there is. Here is the reality:
Tags: Akbar Ahmed, Christians in Pakistan, Democracy, Hindus in Pakistan, Jinnah, Media, Muslim Democracy, Pakistan, Pakistani hospitality, Perceptions of Pakistan, Things to know about Pakistan, US-Pakistan relations
I find this song inspiring. My favourite part comes at 3:10.
It was 2009 and I was shocked at what I was reading: Obama was actually increasing strikes in a highly controversial, if not downright illegal drone bombing campaign in Pakistan that began under the Bush administration.
When Obama started rocking-and-rolling in his foreign policy adventures, the press gave his global drone bombing campaign hardly any attention, but I was following it closely (especially in Pakistan). Reports noted how Pakistani women and children were killed in the dozens. Villages that had no links to the ‘bad guys’ were decimated. Anti-American sentiments inevitably ran rampant. Potential allies were turning into real enemies. Many Pakistanis started seeing Americans as the real terrorists, war criminals, and cowards for not fighting on the ground like true warriors. The latter point is particular important in the tribal areas of Pakistan, where the notions of shame and honour are utmost in society. In essence, Obama’s drone bombing campaign wasn’t helping any group, Americans or Pakistanis.
I was so frustrated with Obama’s approach to Pakistan that I started to publish articles regularly on the drone bombing campaign. Most of these articles were published under World Can’t Wait, a ‘radical’ left-wing activist organization in the U.S, before the press really started to cover the drone bombing campaign. Much of what I was saying then is coming to fruition now.
A newly released study, Living Under Drones, written by human rights researchers from Stanford and New York Universities, details hundreds of Pakistani civilian casualties and the devastating effects of drone strikes on the local population (Source: Common Ground News Service). The study states: ‘In the United States, the dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the US safer by enabling “targeted killings” of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts. This narrative is false’. Instead, ‘the study concludes that the CIA drone program in Pakistan has not made America any safer and instead has turned the Pakistani public against the United States. Indeed, 80% of Pakistanis have a negative opinion of the United States and three-in-four Pakistanis consider the United States their enemy’ (ibid).
And what I found most shocking about Obama is how he’s even deploying drones to spy over Americans on U.S. soil. I’m also concerned that the increasing frequency in which drone strikes are reported could result in the numbing of the American public, that is, the more Americans read about them, the more they become numb and apathetic to them. It’s also worth nothing that the U.S. government is proliferating drone warfare by selling drone technology to countries like Italy.
If you would like to read my previous articles on Obama’s drone bombing campaign, click here and find the articles for World Can’t Wait. Please share them in order to increase awareness of the dangers of Obama’s drone bombing campaign.
- The other night I had the opportunity to attend my second iftar of 2012 at the American Islamic Congress over on Newbury Street in Boston. This was a community iftar (the previous one I attended had the theme of South Asian) that welcomed a graduate student from Northeastern who demonstrated his fine tar skills. The tar is an important and popular Persian instrument with very fine strings. In fact tar ( تار) itself means ‘string’ in Persian. The evening was topped-off with some delicious Persian food. I was lucky to have chatted with an Egyptian-born photographer who had her exceptional photographs of Ramadan in Egypt displayed on the walls, a young American student who just came back from studying in Kuwait for the State Department, and a half-Persian, half-Pakistani man who discussed with me the importance of the Abrahamic tradition in interfaith dialogue. All-in-all, it was a great evening with my Muslim and non-Muslim neighbours. Just as I had expected!
Another morning, another US drone strike report from the New York Times. I am a bit concerned that the consistency in reporting these strikes is making Americans numb to them. There is the real danger here that if you see something enough times, you start to believe that it is normal. I find reports like those from the New York Times problematic because they give a very dry and over-the-surface analysis; they only note where the strike occurred and how many people died. Rarely do these reports ever discuss the legality of these strikes or the negative repercussions that come on behalf of them.
Professor Akbar Ahmed speaks about the difficult quandary in present day Pakistan, especially in the Tribal Areas. Be on the lookout for his forthcoming book The Thistle and the Drone (to be published by Brookings Institution Press in the spring of 2013).
‘These are the Pashtun Tribes… The Afghans have never been defeated in history — they will destroy themselves. You blow up their villages, destroy their families, but they are very much like the Americans — they believe in independence and freedom… Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of India, once said, ‘Waziristan is beyond control. What they need is the steamroller — a steamroller to go from one end to the other end to completely crush them. But I will not be the steamroller’. – Akbar Ahmed
It is early, not too early, on the morning of the tenth of January. I have been, unfortunately, neglecting this journal mostly because of time with friends and our extravagant journey’s. Tomorrow morning, I head to Amsterdam.
The purpose of this entry is to recap events of yesterday, for there are surely many. I am also writing about ideas and research thoughts that I have encountered over the last several days. Due to time constraints, I will touch on eight or so topics of which I have had glimpses of enlightened thought. I will then take a short break, but will resume my activity of yesterday.
On the seventh of January, I took down on paper some of my observations of recent trends in the contemporary world, and more specifically, within International Relations. The pre-World War II era was supposed to entail the growth of democratic forms of government around the world. While the countries of the world have adopted democracy on the face of things, the world has recently seen the notion of failing democracies. These countries claim to be democracies, but for several reasons, primarily crooked elections, ‘true’ democracy has yet to flourish as past advocates of it would have liked. The next paragraph will attempt to highlight failing democracies by evaluating what has gone wrong.
Pakistan is probably the biggest concern for the US and the West (Europe) regarding democratic safeguards in strategically imperative regions of the globe. Pakistan has, on the surface, been seen as an ally in the War on Terror against the Taliban and insurgents in Afghanistan. The assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and its potential negative consequences for Pakistan was, I believe, blown out of proportion. Bhutto did represent democracy on the surface and in the public eye, but her past history proves that her ability to implement true democracy is questionable. The most damage it had on the democratic advocate movement is perhaps in the realm of public relations. The elections of Bhutto to counter Musharraf’s dictatorial rule would have, at least on the surface, looked good for Pakistan and democracy around the world, even if Bhutto failed to practice democracy as a Prime Minister.
What appears to be occurring is a lack of confidence in the democratic system regarding the validity of ‘free and fair’ elections. Recent elections in both Georgia and Kenya signal in age that may curtail people’s’ discontent with the legitimacy of elections. In what was the blueprint for any democracy, elections have come to be seen as an illegal way to seize power. A key issue here is how these elections are being held, who is in control of the ballots, who is voting, etc. If the current administration is in power while also having the ability to manipulate the outcomes of elections, the nation may not be a true democracy. What is need is a neutral body to monitor voting and elections to ensure that power in in the hands of the people.
Switching topics of discussion now, I turn to an analysis of my first day of classes (01/08/08) of my second semester at the University of London. In my morning class – Analytical Approaches to International Relations – class discussion in the last hour of class dealt specifically with rational choice theory. I offered my own unique viewpoint to the class when I questioned the relevancy of rationality in the grand scheme of things. Take the example of pre-Iraq of the War in 2003. One could argue that the Iraqi government was acting rationally by allowing weapons inspectors from the United Nations to examine Iraq’s arsenal of weapons. In allowing the inspection to happen, one can argue that the Iraqis were doing so because they aspired to avoid a military confrontation with the United States. I believe that in allowing these inspectors to investigate within Iraq, the government was hoping that this cooperative behaviour itself would guarantee no military intervention. This was their rationale.
But, as the issue manifested, their rationality was hopeless and irrelevant. One can argue again that acting rationally, as one may think it of as, is beneficial to one’s country. What the war depicted, however, is that Iraqi cooperation did not guarantee peace. One must take into account the motives of the adversary when making these political decisions. Though military intervention was probably inevitable to start with, this specific example in which the necessity of acting rationally is questioned.
So, as is evident, class discussion was interesting and I was also heavily engaged with it both in my body and mind, but also verbally in class discussion. Particularly, my ‘Politics of Globalization’ class seems to be stimulating, especially with the interest of this ‘phenomenon’ known as globalization.
01/09/08 Runnymede Hall – RHUL – 12:19pm
Most of you have probably heard by now of the recent news on the groundbreaking Higgs boson or ‘God particle’. Most of you, however, probably have no idea that the physicist who helped develop the God particle’s theoretical framework is Adbus Salam. Salam, who died in 1996, of Pakistani origin and Pakistan’s only Nobel laureate. At one time, he was hailed as a national hero for helping develop Pakistan’s nuclear programme. Those were the days when Pakistan wasn’t as extreme as it is now. Today, however, in a possible sign of Pakistan’s increasing religious oppression, Salam’s name is attacked because he is a member of the Ahmadi community. The Ahmadi community, if you aren’t aware, is one of Pakistan’s most persecuted religious minority groups. Ahmadis are viewed by many Muslims around the world as ‘non-Muslim’ because their spiritual leader, Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who died in 1908, is said to be a prophet of God (which contradicts Islamic teachings that the Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him, is the last prophet in the Abrahamic tradition). Ahmad’s place as prophet is totally rejected by Pakistan’s current government. Pakistanis have to sign a section of their passport declaring that Ahmad was an ‘imposter’ and his followers are ‘non-Muslim’. Ahmadis are, furthermore, prevented from posing as Muslims in public. They can also be punished with prison or death for doing so.
Tags: Abdus Salam, Adbus Salam, Ahmadis, Ahmadiyya, God particle, Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Higgs boson, Muslim, News, Nuclear programme, Pakistan, Religion, Religious freedom, Religious oppression, Science
Note: I came across this essay titled ‘Growing up Muslim in America’. It was written by a young Pakistani girl. In 1999, the essay won First Prize in the Minaret of Freedom High School Essay Contest. My research is exploring all the key factors and concepts touched upon in this essay, though my focus is on young Pakistani men (between the ages of 18-35) in both Dublin, Ireland and Boston, Massachusetts. You can find ‘Growing up Muslim in America’ here.
I will not exaggerate and say that growing up in America is a great experience and that it allows me to see Islam alone, as opposed to an Islam riddled with cultural influence. Nor will I exaggerate and say that growing up in America is a horrible experience, that I am surrounded by the influence of evil daily, and that I abhor living in “Dar ul Kufr.” Both statements are valid to a certain extent, and the point at which they compromise is the truth.
Growing up as a child of Pakistani immigrants, I was confused about my identity for quite some time. Was I Pakistani, Pakistani American, Muslim, a Muslim Pakistani, a Pakistani Muslim, Muslim American, American Muslim, or a Muslim in America? Never have I seen the arrangement of two or three words both so confusing and controversial. I considered myself Pakistani even though my attachment with the country and culture was not equal to that of a native Pakistani. I wore American clothes, spoke English most of the time, even in the home, and I had only visited Pakistan twice. My daily connection with Pakistan was through the food I ate and the Pakistani clothing I wore every so often. It was tough not having the same type of name as most of my peers. Even other children of immigrants, especially from Asian countries, had “American names” in addition to their “Chinese” or “Korean” names. I did not eat the same food as these children nor did I celebrate the same holidays. When asked the question what I received for Christmas, my face would usually turn a little red and I would try to change the subject. I realized I was not just the average American.
Yet in the same sense I was not the average Pakistani. As stated before, I did not speak much Urdu and my contact wit my culture was not great. When I visited Pakistan at the age of six, my relatives called me “Amrikan” or American. In their eyes, I was not Pakistani. I had the same type of name, ate siilar food, and looked just like them, but I was not Pakistani. Back home in America, I had a different name, complexion, and color, but I was not American. So for much of my life, I lived with the absence of a true identity. I could not define myself and that left me confused.
Things began to change once I entered adolescence. I began to lose many of my friends because I did not see the opposite sex in the same light as they did. My friends began dating and the usual talking about girls, but even though I was attracted to the opposite sex, I did not make it a public spectacle like they did. As a Muslim, my interactions with the opposite sex was to be dignified and in accordance to Islam. So I lost a lot of friends because I was not “cool” anymore, and thus I was isolated based on my character, my beliefs, because I was a Muslim.
This isolation brought me to a realization. Slowly I began to see that Islam was a priority for me. My identity as a Pakistani American or American Pakistani, whatever it was, was meaningless. Sure I ate Pakistani food, wore Pakistani clothes on holidays and sometimes listened to Pakistani music, but did it actually matter? Was it the fact that I was of Pakistani descent or that I was different? No, it was because the real component of who I was, was my Islamic identity. I still maintain my ties to Pakistan and it does compose part of my identity, but Islam is my priority.
I began to make Muslim friends in junior high school. They were not just Pakistani, they were also from countries like Afghanistan and India. Although these youth represented only a small geographical area of the Muslim ummah, I was introduced to the concept of global Islam. I in turn was on the path to separating Islam from my culture and seeing that I can be a Muslim and live in this country just like any other American.
I was only fourteen at the time, so I did not come to a complete realization of my identity. I finally moved to a very different area. My new home was in an upper class, white Jewish area, as opposed to my former middle class diverse community. Moving to this new town, Roslyn, allowed me to experience a lot of different things from before. This move coincided with my entering high school. So the experience was not only different because I moved to a totally different area, but also because I was entering high school.
Things were very different now in school. High school to most students dealt a lot with fitting in and being accepted by their peers. This meant going to clubs and parties every Friday and Saturday night where they would get drunk, smoke marijuana, and most often, engage in sexual intercourse. This type of lifestyle was accepted in my area, especially when my school began to distribute condoms to the students.
Not only was I set apart from the others in terms of my morals, but also in terms of my identity. In the first month at my new school, a student spread a rumor that I was in the Nation of Islam and that I had said an anti-Semitic statement. Both of these allegations were absolutely untrue, but for some reason most of the students believed it. Their religious-school teachers, parents, and the media fed them with stereotypes of Muslims, so it was not hard to believe that this Muslim was an anti-Semite.
This began one of the toughest times in my life. I was a new student and I did not have many friends. because I was Muslim. I had a few Asian friends, but that was it. Alhamdulillah, all that changed one weekend.
I received an e-mail from a friend about a “Muslim Youth of North America” conference in Maryland during the Thanksgiving weekend. This was the first time I had heard of such an event, and I was amazed. At that conference, I came to a full realization of who I was, a Muslim. I am not dramatizing in saying that this conference was a turning point in my life. I met Muslim youth, just like myself, from all over the East Coast of the United States, and they had the same experiences as me. Many were children of immigrants, just like myself, and were juggling their dual identities as I had. Many of the youth were also children of indigenous Americans who had reverted to Islam. I saw Islam in a scope as wide as I had ever seen it before. Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, the United States, China, Albania, Malaysia, Iran, Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia among other countries were all represented at this conference. But it didn’t matter. We were all Muslim. I made many friends and to this day, I keep in contact with them. I was so motivated at the conference that I ran for a position as Director of Publicity for New York, I lost the election, but was nominated for New York Representative later on, and to this day I hold that position.
I came back to my school motivated and proud. I finally had a secure identity I could grasp and never let go of. I was sure I was not some weirdo who did not date or like girls, that I was not anti-social, and that there was nothing wrong with me. If some kids decided to believe a lie about me or prejudge me because I’m Muslim, then that was their loss.
Over the months following that conference, I changed a great deal. I was no longer a shy, reclusive person. I was vocal, confident, opinionated, and unafraid of who I was. My good friends were not only the few I had at school, but also the ones I had at the masjid and from the conference I attended. The following year things grew better for me at school as well. I accumulated many more friends who accepted me for who I was. I did not drink, I did not date, and I respected women. These new friends were interested in my religion, and did not perceive it as something strange. Alhamdulillah, I now have a good balance of Muslim and non-Muslim friends. I realized that there are some people in this country and in this world who will choose to remain ignorant. Racism and stereotyping are far too common in this nation, but that we Muslims can change this society and we Muslims can change this society and this world. In fact, it is our obligation.
My work with the Muslim Youth of North America is inspired by this obligation. I organize events for the youth in New York such as conferences, camps, and sports tournaments. My goal is to help other youth realize who they are and to be proud of it. Muslims have much to offer to this nation and America truly needs Islam. The people in this nation are looking to real answers to life’s questions and can only find those in Islam. Sadly on the same note, as stated before, many people choose to remain ignorant. For example, there was a segment on the television program, Saturday Night Live, which mocked the Muslims who died during the Hajj stampede last year. I wrote a petition for the SNL to apologize, but there was no response. That did not discourage me though. I am currently organizing a petitioning of Senator John McCain of Arizona, who stated during the bombings of Iraq on Fox News that American national security (bombing Iraq for no justifiable reason) is a priority over religious sensitivities (not bombing during Ramadan). It is obvious that other religious groups would not be treated like that. The lesson is that Muslims in this country do have the ability to attain simply an Islamic identity, and there is so much we can offer this nation and this world. But there is also a great deal of discrimination against Muslims, in addition to the abundance of immorality, and we must work towards their elimination. There are many advantages to living in this country as there are disadvantages. The difference is, our advantages enable us to overcome and eliminate our disadvantages.
Growing up a Muslim youth in America in indeed an exigent experience. But once that youth transcends and overcomes the obstacles along the way, there lies the path towards the true success and true realization, insha’Allah.
Tags: American culture, American Pakistani, Culture, East Coast of the United States, Experience, Identity, Immigrants, Immigration, Islam, Muslim, Muslim Pakistani, Pakistan, Pakistan Irish, Pakistani, Pakistani-American, Pakistanis, Research, Sociology, United States, Young Pakistanis
My intellectual/spiritual/academic mentor, Professor Akbar Ahmed, has done it again. And it’s sheer brilliance!
Brookings Institution Press has just released an e-mail highlighting their forthcoming Fall publications. Showcased in this e-mail is Professor Ahmed’s latest book ‘The Thistle and the Drone: How America’s War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam’:
The United States declared war on terrorism in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. More than ten years later, the results are decidedly mixed. In The Thistle and the Drone, world-renowned author, diplomat, and scholar Akbar Ahmed reveals a tremendously important yet largely unrecognized adverse effect of these campaigns: they actually have exacerbated the already-broken relationship between central governments and the tribal societies on their periphery. Ideas of a clash of civilizations, “security,” and “terrorism” have dominated the last decade, upsetting the balance between central governments and their periphery in much of the world. Ahmed draws on sixty current case studies for this unprecedented analysis, beginning with Waziristan in Pakistan and expanding to similar societies in Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and elsewhere to offer an alternative paradigm. The United States is directly or indirectly involved with many of these societies. Al Qaeda has been decimated, but the world is drifting into a global war where the focus has shifted to these peripheral societies. Old ethnic and tribal tensions have been revived. No one is immune to the violence—neither school children nor congregations in their houses of worship. People on the periphery say, “Every day is 9/11 for us.” The thistle of the title evokes Hadji Murad, Tolstoy’s classic novel about the struggle between the Imperial Russian army and the independent Muslim states in the Caucasus. The local tribesman with his courage, pride, and sense of egalitarianism is the prickly thistle; the drone reference, as the most advanced kill technology of globalization, is painfully clear. Together these two powerful metaphors paint a bleak landscape of confusion, uncertainty, violence, and loss. The book provides concrete ways to minimize conflict and still win the war on terror
Professor Ahmed is having an event for this book in Cambridge (UK) at some point next year. Luckily for me, I’m currently researching at Trinity College Dublin (a sister school of Oxbridge), and so I will certainly make an appearance at this event as it’s only a short flight away.
Tags: 9/11, Akbar Ahmed, Al Qaeda, Clash of Civilizations, Drones, Ethnicity, Hadji Murad, Islam, Middle East, Muslims, Pakistan, Politics, Religion, Security, Terrorism, The Thistle and the Drone, Tribal Islam, United States, Violence, War, War on Terror, Waziristan
Note: Here’s an article by Michael Kugelman from Dawn (full article here). It’s quite interesting in light of my research which compares and contrasts the experiences of young Pakistani men in Boston (US) and Dublin (Ireland). Without giving away to much of my results, I would generally agree with Kugelman – that the Pakistani American diaspora has had a fairly positive experience on the whole. This, I believe, contrasts with the Pakistani experience in Dublin, which could perhaps be closer to what Kugelman described in the Canadian context.
As I was barraged by one startling statistic after the other – 44 per cent below the poverty line, nearly 50 per cent who don’t own homes, almost a quarter never having been in the workforce – I couldn’t help but think how drastically different this story was from that of Pakistani-Americans, who are generally regarded as a well-off diaspora.
Indeed, I know of no low-income area or slum in the United States populated predominantly by people of Pakistani origin, and I have never heard of a Pakistani-American homeless person. When one thinks of this community, the words most often coming to mind are prosperous and philanthropic.
Evidence gives credence to these perceptions. According to a 2011 report by the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice (AACAJ), which draws on data from the 2010 US Census and other US government sources, the median household income of Pakistani-American families is nearly $63,000. This is considerably higher than the figure for families in America on the whole ($51,369). Additionally, as I have pointed out previously, the most common jobs of Pakistani-Americans include doctors, accountants, and financial analysts, and 55 per cent hold at least a bachelor’s degree (this latter figure is only 28 per cent across the US population on the whole).
Broadly speaking, Pakistani-Americans appear to be economically secure and their positive experiences likely compel them to invite friends and family back in Pakistan to join them in America. Consider that Pakistani-Americans are the second-fastest-growing Asian-American ethnic group – their numbers more than doubled from 2000 to 2010, soaring from 204,309 to 409,163.
Yet, this isn’t the full story.
Dig a bit deeper into the AACAJ report, and you will come across some troubling data. Fifteen per cent of Pakistani-Americans fall below the poverty line – which happens to be the rate for the American population on the whole. Similarly, unemployment rates for the diaspora – 8 per cent (for those aged 16 and older) – reflect the rate for the total US population. On several measures, Pakistani-Americans are considerably worse off than the general population. Only 55 per cent own homes, compared to the nationwide figure of 66 per cent. Their per capita income is about $24,700, compared to $27,100 for the total population. And 23 per cent of Pakistani-Americans have no health insurance – which ties them with Bangladeshi-Americans for the highest percentage of any Asian-American ethnic group. This is significantly higher than the 15 per cent national figure (though Gallup polls suggest this figure has risen to 17 per cent in the last few months).
What should we make of this? On the one hand, many members of any immigrant group will face challenges as they adjust to their new home country. While quite a few Pakistani-Americans were born in the United States, the majority – about 65 per cent – were not. Therefore, for most of the community, the adjustment period is very much in the present.
Additionally, one can’t forget about all those blue-collar Pakistani-American workers, and particularly the taxicab drivers. According to US Census figures, “drivers and other transportation workers” constitute the third most common profession of Pakistani-Americans. In the words of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, a union that represents cab drivers in New York City (where Pakistanis are heavily represented), employees have not received raises since 2004, “and they now earn below both the NY state minimum wage for a 12-hour shift and a NYC Living Wage (by 40 per cent).”
Ultimately, the most accurate depiction of Pakistani-Americans is one that dispenses with all the data and simply accepts it for what it is: a diverse diaspora that is anything but a monolith. It ranges from hourly wage workers to physicians, academics, and a growing number of state legislators and mayors; from Washington insider Huma Abedin (a close adviser to Hillary Clinton) to race-car driver Nur Ali (the first Pakistani to serve in this profession); from the eloquent writer Daniyal Mueenuddin to the notorious businessman Mansoor Ijaz; and from those who promote interfaith dialogue (American University professor Akbar Ahmed) to the occasional militant (Faisal Shahzad, the man accused of having unsuccessfully attempted to blow up Times Square).
I’m willing to bet that behind the troubling figures and snapshots that Dr Haider presents of Pakistani-Canadians, there lies a similarly nuanced and complex portrait of the diaspora in Canada – one that features its share of good news and success stories. Just as affluence is only one of various parts of the Pakistani-American story, poverty is likely only one of various aspects of the Pakistani-Canadian experience.
Michael Kugelman is the program associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: @michaelkugelman
Tags: AACAJ, Akbar Ahmed, Bangladeshi American, Census, Diaspora, Dublin, Education, Experience, Human Abedin, Income, Nur Ali, Pakistan, Pakistani, Pakistani Canadian, Pakistani-American, Poverty, Research, United States
Drone warfare, especially the US’s
illegal use of it in Afghanistan and Pakistan, has bothered me greatly since I first started writing about it for World Can’t Wait in 2010. As it is with others, my main concern with the use of drone warfare is that drones more often than not kill civilians and not the so-called ‘bad guys’. In-turn, the murder of civilians creates more enemies than friends and alienates future generations of Afghans and Pakistanis. Subsequently, also bothersome for me is proliferation of drone warfare. It’s common knowledge that the U.K. and Israel also use drones in their ‘defense’, but now a recent story has broke that the Obama administration is planning on arming Italy’s fleet of Reaper drone aircraft with missiles and laser-guided bombs. So, now that Italy is on the brink of receiving US missiles and laser-guided bombs, the problem then becomes the ‘domino effect’. Do other countries in NATO follow suit in their request to the US? Another genuine fear is that the US is banking off of Eisenhower’s infamous ‘military industrial complex‘, in that proliferating drone warfare helps US drone manufacturers, but so fuels the vicious cycle of warfare = business.
Tags: Afghanistan, Civilians, Domino effect, Drone warfare, Eisenhower, General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, Israel, Italy, Laser-guided bomb, Laser-guided bombs, Military industrial complex, Missiles, NATO, Obama administration, Pakistan, Reaper drone, U.K., United States, US manufacturers, World Can't Wait
According to the BBC, a US drone strike has killed at least eight people in a volatile tribal area of north-west Pakistan. This is the second strike in the area in 24 hours. At least four suspected militants were killed on Wednesday.
US drone strikes in Pakistan are highly controversial. Are they legal? What about the loss of civilian life? Do they really target the ‘bad guys’? Are they useful? These are just some questions surrounding them.
In March 2010, I wrote an article for the far-left organization World Can’t Wait. I think it’s still relevant considering contemporary happenings. Here is a quick excerpt (also the full article below).
Why does it seem these days that every bomb dropped and every missile strike kills ’suspected militants’? It is either a great coincidence that the targets are real militants or governments, like the US and Pakistan, are applying the label to try to cover up killing innocent civilians.
In my research interviews with young Pakistani men in Dublin, I pose several questions in order to explore transnational links to the Pakistani ‘homeland’. Some of these questions include:
1. How much do you follow current events in Pakistan?
2. If you could change three things about Pakistan, what would they be?
Most, if not all, of my participants have stated that they follow Pakistani current events to some degree. In addition, most, if not all, of my participants suggest that the biggest problem facing Pakistan today is corruption within political circles. Ultimately, many of the interviewees would like to see politicians held accountable for their actions in the court of law.
These questions and thoughts are timely considering what has recently unfolded in Pakistan. The BBC reports that
However, the court gave Mr Gilani only a symbolic sentence and he will not have to serve any time in jail.
Mr Gilani had denied that he had been in contempt for failing to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.
As you can imagine, many young Pakistani men in the diaspora are frustrated with these developments. After all, here is a convicted politician, who has been found guilty by the highest court in the land.
And yet he basically skates away (aside from ‘symbolic action’) without any repercussions for his behaviour?
This is exactly what disgusts and frustrates the young Pakistani men I have spoken with in Dublin.
I’m heading tomorrow morning to meet with a Pakistani friend who I met back in January. This young man, whose name I’ll keep anonymous for security purposes, is a native of Islamabad, Pakistan. He arrived to Dublin via work visa over eight years ago.
When his work visa ended he filed the necessary paperwork to live (legally) in Ireland. His paperwork, however, even to this day, has yet to be handled properly by the Irish authorities. No one even responds to his phone calls or letters. The solicitor he hired years ago has failed to even find his papers.
I, as anyone with an open heart, was disheartened, frustrated, and a bit disgusted when I heard his story.
In a nutshell, he’s a solid man who’s contributing positively to Irish society. He’s well-educated (business degree from Pakistan), caring of his neighbours and family oriented, all qualities which have been associated to some degree with ‘Irishness’.
Aside from the aforementioned, it should also be noted that this man wouldn’t even hurt a fly. He’s calm, carries an easy-going demeanor and treats strangers with the utmost respect and courtesy. This last point was obvious when he welcomed me into his surroundings with the typical (and famous) Pakistani hospitality.
His positive qualities don’t end there. He’s clearly a hard worker, which is evident in his successful business endeavor. He’s well-respected by the local community in which he works and resides. He also told me about his clean record and how he has never once broken an Irish law (or any law for that matter).
For me the hardest part of his story is the present situation with his mother, who is now ill back in Islamabad. Unfortunately he can’t even visit her because if he leaves he probably won’t be allowed back into Ireland.
This man, quite obviously, exists in a state of fear, paranoia, and overall insecurity.
These conditions, speaking frankly, if I may, are in violation of his human rights.
One has to wonder – why is this happening to him?
Is it because he’s from Pakistan?
Does he have the wrong skin colour?
The wrong name?
Is Ireland a racial state?
I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on his story. Perhaps I could use your comments as part of my research.
Tags: Dublin, Ethnicity, Government of Ireland, Human rights, Immigrants, Immigration, Ireland, Irish government, Migrants, Opinion, Pakistan, Personal, Politics, Race, Racism, Religion, Sociology, Visa (document)
I’m now nearly two months into the Dublin stage of my fieldwork. For purposes of anonymity and confidentiality, I will not give details on the nature of it. However, I will say that the experiences thus far have been extremely rewarding, both as a researcher and, more importantly, as a human being.
The Pakistanis that I have met have been extremely warm and hospitable. I’ve been fed or offered tea nearly every time there is a break in the day. I’ve been welcomed into mosques and homes and indeed into the very minds of Pakistanis here in Dublin.
I cannot help but express my sincere gratitude to Dr Akbar Ahmed, the Bari family, Ismail Kotwal, and a handful of other great people in the community.
I look forward to continuing this research in the foreseeable future. Inshallah.