Count Pakistan among countries violating religious freedom: US commission

Published: September 14, 2011

Female supporters of Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) hold placards and banner during a protest regarding the Pope's statements on Pakistan's blasphemy law. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

WASHINGTON: The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) expressed concern over Pakistan‘s omission from the list of eight countries termed “countries of particular concern” with regards to violation of religion freedom.

The list was published by the US State Department in a report which listed Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan as countries where religious rights were severely infringed.

Although Pakistan was omitted from the list, the report stated that Pakistan’s laws restrict religious freedom and that the government enforced these restrictions. It also adds that investigation and prosecution of perpetrators in the case of extremist attacks on minorities are rare.

Citing the blasphemy law and Aasia Bibi’s case, the report suggests that the Pakistan government distanced itself from a bill proposed by an MNA to repeal the “discriminatory” law.

It also mentions that the Ahmadiyya community along with members of other Islamic sects, Christians, Sikhs, and Hindus face governmental and societal discrimination.

The report noted, however, that the government took some measures to improve religious freedom. It mentioned the late Federal Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti’s attempts to assist victims of religiously motivated attacks.

The commission on Tuesday remarked that it is concerned that no new countries were added to the list.” said

‘Don’t forget Pakistan’

“Repeating the current list continues glaring omissions, such as Pakistan and Vietnam … we respectfully urge Secretary Clinton to consider the six additional countries we recommended for designation,” said Leonard Leo, USCIRF Chair.

The other four countries recommended by the commission are Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria and Turkmenistan.

Commenting on the report, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged governments Tuesday to do more to defend religious freedom as Washington released a report citing eight countries with troubling records on the issue.

“We reaffirm the role that religious freedom and tolerance play in building stable and harmonious societies. Hatred and intolerance are destabilizing,” Clinton said.

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Reader Comments (60)

  • Sep 14, 2011 - 2:18PM

    there are so many countries in which religious freedom is discriminated, so why this comission targeted those countries which are very important for muslim perspective .

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  • Tanvir Ali
    Sep 14, 2011 - 2:21PM

    Clubing Iran and Saudi-Arabia into one category warrant doubts on the credibility of the report. These kinds of reports are seldom free from prejudice and reflects the partial truth, therefore, Pakistan shouldn’t be bothered about it.

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  • Owais
    Sep 14, 2011 - 2:25PM

    The article is interesting. I am puzzled because I don’t know what religious freedom has been curbed by the Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan. Mostly Islamic Countries or enemies of America i.e. China & North Korea.

    I wonder why couldn’t some European countries come on the list? Which imposes ban on wearing a some particular dress(religious dress). Or there are countries where you can not even hide your hairs based on your religious belief. Aren’t they showing intolerance towards minority religion?

    I don’t know what minorities rights have been taken away in Pakistan. But in Pakistan, the churches can ring the bells as loud as they want. Even if they are located side by side to mosque. But can mosques say Azan in loud speakers in Europe or US? Of course Not! because you are minority…

    Nicely phrased by a poet:

    Ham aah bhi kartay hain to ho jatay hain bad naam
    wo qatal bhi kartay hain to charcha nahi hota…

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  • sam
    Sep 14, 2011 - 2:26PM

    can we fix it now ? or are we still gonna ignore killings of Ahmadis ? and discrimination against religious minorities ?Recommend

  • Sep 14, 2011 - 2:44PM

    Again a saazish from Americans. Pakistan is an Islamic republic and it has all the rights for Muslims.

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  • Ghaznavi
    Sep 14, 2011 - 2:44PM

    Don’t forget India!!!

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  • vasan
    Sep 14, 2011 - 2:52PM

    So what is new?. Everyone including our neighbour’s dog know all this.

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  • Abdullah
    Sep 14, 2011 - 2:54PM

    See there tolerance on the link. Trying to making muslims fool. We are not so fool. Even they do not have the courage to say straight that they are against muslims/islam only.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocaustdenial#LawsagainstHolocaustdenial

    Holocaust denial is explicitly or implicitly illegal in 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, and Switzerland.[171] The European Union’s Framework decision on Racism and Xenophobia states that denying or grossly trivialising “crimes of genocide” should be made “punishable in all EU Member States”.[172]

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  • MUNIB
    Sep 14, 2011 - 2:56PM

    I am a PAK and fully support USCIRF views. There are not only lot of restrictions on minorities in PAK in law but due to the gradual Talibanization of state since 80z people in PAK seem to have least interest in issues like Freedom of speech, Human rights etc.
    Such values are confined only for the majority faith. Some recent examples especially the Salman Taseer murder highlights this point. The criminals who commit crimes against other faiths (sect or minority) know the police courts and overall MINDSET of this nation is pro-Militant he will get away with any act of voilence. The release of Malik Ishaq and release of several high profile terrorist prove this point.

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  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Sep 14, 2011 - 2:56PM

    Mr. Khalil Gibran lamented in the early 1930s “Pity The Nation That Is Full Of Beliefs & Empty Of Religion”. I have nothing to add. The rest I leave to my friends on this issue in our our country.

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  • MUNIB
    Sep 14, 2011 - 3:00PM

    @Owais
    This is 2011 and newspaper has been invented. Kindly refer to google or papers for answer to your questions i.e HR issues in Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan.

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  • Abdullah
    Sep 14, 2011 - 3:05PM

    One of my teachers created a group against Holocaust on facebook just to show us that it is illegal in many countries. Many students join within one-two days. That was blocked by facebook. This is there freedom of speech. They say it is against the term of service. It promotes hate. and when anyone makes group to promote hate against Allah, Hazrat Muhammad (saww) and Quran, this is freedom of speech. And many other Holocaust denial groups have been blocked by Facebook.

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  • Cautious
    Sep 14, 2011 - 3:11PM

    The report says it all – the fact that it was generated by a country you don’t like doesn’t make it any less accurate.

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  • Proud Pakistani
    Sep 14, 2011 - 3:15PM

    The fire of religious hatred & intolerance has started to burn our own hands Muslims are killed in name of religion by the opposing sects, before it burns our self out we must take steps to douse it, simple ISLAM is religion of peace not hate

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  • Abdullah
    Sep 14, 2011 - 4:37PM

    Some people are also saying facts regarding freedom of speech in west when it comes to Muslims. Everybody knows france ban on veil and switzerland ban on minarets of masjid. Kindly pay attention also towards these facts. Otherwise we know, paid people are there on internet to safeguard every right comment against west bad deeds.

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  • Abdullah
    Sep 14, 2011 - 4:38PM

    I believe people should not directly comment on news without reading others’ comment. It may be duplication.Recommend

  • Peace On Earth
    Sep 14, 2011 - 4:46PM

    Some of the comments on here shows me how hopeless and jaded Pakistanis are? As a resident of Karachi, I have seen countless acts of violence against minorities for the smallest of “crimes”.

    WAKE UP AND SMELL THE BLOOD THAT IS SPILLING IN PAKISTAN!

    You ask why a large majority of Muslim nations were on the list, its because only in these countries are innocent people arrested and accused of spying, beaten up for following another religion, or accused falsely of violating some vague Islamic law some mullah came up with!

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  • Ali
    Sep 14, 2011 - 4:51PM

    Again a saazish from Americans. Pakistan is an Islamic republic and it has all the rights for Muslims.

    @Zaid Hamid … all the rights for Muslims and no rights for minorities. We want Jinnah’s Pakistan where Zafarullah Khan was the FM and Cornelius was the CJ. We don’t want Pakistan of yours where Shahbaz Bhatti was assassinated in a broad daylight in the federal capital.

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  • asma riaz@london
    Sep 14, 2011 - 5:07PM

    Did they forget to notice the Gujarat massacares in India. Oh SHUT UP USA!!!!

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  • Itsjustme
    Sep 14, 2011 - 5:08PM

    @Zaid Hamid,
    Please refrain from making senseless comments… that too under the name of Zaid Hamid…
    Religious freedom does not mean freedom for Muslims in a Muslim country… it means freedom for Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Ahmadis, other sects, castes and religions…

    @Owais
    I would not defend my country if I knew they had this disease in them… and they do…
    By the way, the dress code you say some countries are trying to ban is the face cover, which is more cultural than religious… please check the definition of hijab in Islam… there’s lots on it that will help un-confuse you about head-cover and face-cover…

    @Cautious
    America has time and again proved every report it produces is solely for its own benefit…
    accuracy and truthfulness dont even come within range of these….
    this report does not tell you that the US are upset about why PAK is omitted, (although the larger part of the article is screaming that), it is trying to subliminally tell you of Mrs Clintons attempts to remove PAK from the list… that we actually have friends in the US Govt…. this report is wicked, dude…. :D

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  • Mian
    Sep 14, 2011 - 5:43PM

    It’s not about religious freedom. India is violating the religious rights of people on gigantic scale. It’s about who American hatred for the American imperialists. .

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  • hz
    Sep 14, 2011 - 6:05PM

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PersecutionofMuslims#Current_situation
    why do i see USA in this list on wikipedia..?
    anyone tell me…(.)

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  • Rock
    Sep 14, 2011 - 6:32PM

    @Mian: It’s the international political problem which involvs pakistan as one of the main player. Got it.

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  • Mbn
    Sep 14, 2011 - 6:52PM

    I don’t understand why these countries which propose to separate “church” and state are talking about religious freedom in the first place.

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  • Madarsa Logic
    Sep 14, 2011 - 9:42PM

    @asma riaz@london:
    Do you know who started it?

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  • R.A
    Sep 14, 2011 - 10:15PM

    @ A K Wilson
    Some one else once said
    In Europe you see lot of Islam but very few Muslims
    But in Muslim countries you see very little Islam but
    lot of Muslims.

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  • Observer
    Sep 15, 2011 - 12:38AM

    @Mian:

    “India is violating the religious rights of people on gigantic scale.”

    Can you please enlightern us as to what religious rights of people that India is violatiing on “‘gigantic scale”?

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  • let there be peace
    Sep 15, 2011 - 12:46AM

    @Abdullah:

    Rest of the world does not yet run on Islamic logic. For us an act of glorifying and ridiculing the butchering of millions of innocent men women and children is different than the act of criticizing some book and a historical personality.
    .
    Sorry to inform, but Facebook is not an Islamic Nation!

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  • AA Choudhary
    Sep 15, 2011 - 12:47AM

    @Owais
    ‘In Pakistan Christians can ring the Church bells as loud as they want’. Sorry he forgot; and I (this writer) add ‘Ahmadis can pray to God, declare ‘there is no God but Allah’ and sing Prophet Muhammad’s praises by saying darood as much as they want.
    Mr Owais should be given more credit for his humility.

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  • Bangash
    Sep 15, 2011 - 2:41AM

    To be fair, noone is safe these days in Pakistan, including non-believers and religiously secular.

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  • Ikramuddin Akbar
    Sep 15, 2011 - 3:55AM

    I don;t know what a religious freedom is defined in the state Department! And what the hell America would want for their benefit.Why do they love our religion! There is a lot of religious sections in Pakistan and by freedom if they mean a procession on the street every day that’s something the government should think to please them.
    Eevery one can go to mosque, church, and Mandir, in Pakistan according to their belief.

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  • Doctor
    Sep 15, 2011 - 3:58AM

    @ Mian – your comment makes no sense. Please stop making us Pakistanis look like fools.

    @ Owais – some countries are included in here because they forbid religion.

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  • Spud
    Sep 15, 2011 - 3:59AM

    @Owais: Currently there are a large number of Indians working in the middle east where they are not allowed to establish a temple. Hindu women also cannot walk on the street by themselves and when they are with their husbands have to cover their heads. What is this if not curbing religious freedom of these people. The Muslims who have come to live in Australia ask that they be allowed to live according to their religious practice and build mosques even when they have decided to come here unasked which Australia allows. This is what religious freedom is all about. On these criteria many nations in the list fail. Muslims are bigoted. They want their religious freedom wherever they go but are loathe to give others their freddom.

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  • Ali
    Sep 15, 2011 - 4:35AM

    Pakistan goes out of its way to accommodate monitories.How dare america accuse . We have blashphamy protest, american have ground zero mosques protest

    As for Christians who have died, something called terrorist, for which Everyone in pakistan has sufferd

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  • American Desi
    Sep 15, 2011 - 4:59AM

    Sometimes truth is bitter and harsh. Truth is there is no freedom of thought, let alone religious freedom, in any of the islamic countries.

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  • Ikramuddin Akbar
    Sep 15, 2011 - 6:51AM

    Many are lamenting on religious freedom,banning of burqa or veil or scarf in Europe for the Muslims, what they dont understand is that’s because the banning is according to their rule and they dont decide and they are not bound to decide according to our norm and what the Islamic rules say.If money is not anything for these people why dont they decide to live in Malaysia, Indonesia and Iran.And if i say about some Muslim women living in Germany and other European countries about their against Islamic activities our head would be bowed in shame. Let me ask one question can they acquire nationality of Saudi Arabia, or UAE, both Muslim countries and very close to us.Its rather easy to get nationality of India and Nepal (the only hindu Kingdom in the world)and that would be the religious liberty.In Pakistan there should not be anything like minority or majority, in an Islamic country there should prevail only one thing MUSLIM OR NON-MUSLIM,with equal rights ,because they are voters and select Muslims to rule over them, non Muslims should have the full rights to perform according to their own belief,this is true Islamic rule.

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  • islooboy
    Sep 15, 2011 - 8:58AM

    well i see christians building churches in rawalpindi hindus have old mandirs sikhs gurdwaras are being renovated there is an ahmadi center in g.9 islamabad we had a hindu chief justice

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  • Dinesh Chetti
    Sep 15, 2011 - 12:03PM

    @Owais:
    because europeans just banned the veils. But non-muslims in above mentioned muslim countries face countless atrocities. Even Muslims like Ahamadis face innumerable problems from fascistic countries. They come up with their interpretation of Islam and say blah blah. There is no need of any book to justify unequality for blah blah reason. If some Muslim banned for veils, That is biggest threat to Islam. They almost deny every right to Non Muslim. shameless!

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  • Dinesh Chetti
    Sep 15, 2011 - 12:19PM

    Why all these mess ? Muslims all over the world better go back to Muslim countries to enjoy each and every law of God (Shariah), preach Islam, practice Islam, build even Minarat like houses. Who cares ? Burn a Hindu, Christian, Jewish symbols everyday. Again who cares ? Even today all Muslims leave their respective countries and make their own empire. People will feel sigh of relief and never turn back to even say bye. They become pain in the throat. They enjoy all the rights and still curse. They immigrate like a bunch of goats and abuse the system (Child benefit). Send their children to get educated in Madrasa and they might eventually turn against their place of birth (Western countries). Demand every crazy right to prove that they are purer than other Muslims. Try to live among westerners the way that they do not even complain about you otherwise better off guys !

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  • Wowemkay
    Sep 15, 2011 - 4:48PM

    I love my faith and my country too much not to confess…….Recommend

  • Sad Pakistani
    Sep 15, 2011 - 9:03PM

    My fellow countrymen, please wake up and lets fix things before it’s too late. We are already in the brink of disaster. We have to start respecting other views, religions and communities. Giving respect is the only way to get respect. I am heartbroken at the religious fundamentalism and narrowmindednes which we have embraced.

    I am heartbroken at the sad photos of old and disabled flood victims, I am heartbroken at Talibans holding those kids up. We always blame our politicians, but don’rt we as people have a hand in supporting the establishment from last 65 years? I want my kids to have a bright future in a secular and democratic Pakistan, which is respected in the world, not laughed at.

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  • Sep 15, 2011 - 9:04PM

    Vienna,15-09-2011
    The list is indicative of prejudices also. It has not been
    approved by the United Nations. Marginal individual
    prejudices apart, we should take it with some pinch
    of salt whatever kind.
    Taravadu Taranga Trust for Media Monitoring TTTMM India
    –Kulamarva Balakrishna

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  • Sad Pakistani
    Sep 15, 2011 - 9:09PM

    @Ali:
    my brother, denying the truth doesn’t change the truth. It’s because of our mentality of denying the truth that we are in this jam today. Lets wake up and fix our way of thinking so we can give a bright future to our children. Our narrowmindedness and disrespect for others have harmed our nation the most. While other nations are flourishing we have gone back to stone ages, because of our lak of respect to othe religions and minorities.

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  • Ikramuddin Akbar
    Sep 15, 2011 - 9:22PM

    @Dinesh Chetti:
    Dinesh! take a broom and start cleaning your own home rather giving advice to Muslims. Your home is a mess of prejudices,and full of sordid and filthy in human rules. Thakur and shudar or harijan cannot worship in a same mandir ,dissolve the caste system, save a woman from being “sati” even in these days. the most cruel and barbaric religious rule in any religion on this planet.Ganga is full of unburnt “chitas” , those poor mass couldn’t even able to get the last “agni” they deserved.Then think over Babri Masjid,your government burnt in the hatred of Muslims.I agree it might have been a mandir in the past but so was Ashoka and Gautam a hindu in the past so set their followers on fire. Your thirst will be quenched. Finally leave UAE where you are not allowed to build a mandir, what are you doing there.India is a better place for all the hindus.,Now one bitter truth for you ,you advised Muslims to go in their Muslim countries let me worry you There isn’t any concept of any “country” of Muslims it keeps increasing with the increase of Non Muslim’s embracing Islam,as it happened in India so there is no end.Personally i like hindus and have lived with them,they are gentle in nature like their “gow” mata, and have norms, and ethics and respect for elders, but what can you say about the factor of hatred that brew in their mind off and on for their compatriots. you need first to rectify your flaws in your character first.Thanks.

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  • proud paki
    Sep 16, 2011 - 2:54AM

    Its a shameful but true. Daily atrocities we do on Ahmadis and ever depleting hindu population is “on your face” proof. But still some of my fellow countrymen here will deny. There had been cases where hindu gals were kidnapped and forced to marry muslim guy and forced converting her. This is quite a popular case and yet many of my countrymen here would happily deny it. Well I am quite ashamed by my fellow muslim Pakistanis. May Allah give them tolerance towards other religion.

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  • Sep 16, 2011 - 9:35AM

    Try living with beard in bible belt.

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  • Dr Rasheed S Azam
    Sep 16, 2011 - 4:28PM

    I am, thank God, a Moslim and try to behave like a Moslim according to God’s Laws by fulfilling my duties towards Him and all His creations. Each enlightened individual has the right to decide who he is; when he says he is a Moslim then he is duty bound to behave like one. Only God knows what is in your heart and only He knows who is a true Moslim. No one, a mulla or otherwise or any politician has any right or business to decide about my religeon; it would be utter ignorance on their part if they ever attempt to do such an idiotic thing. Islam is peace and if you claim to be a Moslim then be peaceful and obey Allah’s Commands to fulfill your duties towards all His creations including humans.
    If your heart is all right, you can live anywhere without fear Moise, even in bible belt!

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  • Sep 16, 2011 - 8:23PM

    @Dr Rasheed S Azam:
    By this analogy “keep heart right and live without fear” means the minority has something wrong in heart which US is complaining about? Are you sure your conclusion is correct?

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  • Dr Rasheed S Azam
    Sep 17, 2011 - 5:22PM

    Yes, brother. My heart is right, alhamdolillah, to have no hatered or enemity against any one. God is enough for me. No blame on you. Only you and your God know your heart; may peace be upon you.

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  • Sep 19, 2011 - 11:42AM

    @Dr Rasheed S Azam:
    Sorry but no one is talking about you.

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  • Dr Rasheed S Azam
    Sep 20, 2011 - 10:52PM

    Yes. Not me personaly. But when ignorant mullas defame truth of Islam by their behavior then it hurts every true Moslim who loves God and His creations!

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  • Sep 21, 2011 - 10:26AM

    @Dr Rasheed S Azam:
    Sorry but this is dogma about mulla being root of problem is not discussion.

    US should fix its society where government members are spreading hate against muslims before complaining about others. There are no mulla is US running the country so keep the nonsensical things out of discussion.

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  • AA Choudhary
    Sep 21, 2011 - 11:28PM

    Dear Moiz,
    There are Mullahs in the United States too. They are called ‘Evangilists’. They are American version of the Pakistani Mullah. The only difference is that these evangilists most often are well educated. Some have Ph.Ds. For example one is Pat Robertson. You must of heard about Jerry Fallwell who died last year. The Republican Party is influenced by them. So please don’t fault Dr Rashid Azam for your lack of knowledge.

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  • Sep 22, 2011 - 2:41PM

    @AA Choudhary:
    Read the article and our comments. While Dr. is talking about fluffy things I am telling something more real world.

    Let me reiterate the points.
    US is full with religious intolerance.
    US should fix it’s own backyard before spreading rifts between our minorities. Recommend

  • AA Choudhary
    Sep 22, 2011 - 6:50PM

    @Moise
    Yes, in the United States there are intolerant people. They also have sectarian problems, but they are few and far between. The don’t kill their opponents and don’t publish the names of other sects’ people and then advise their followers to kill them. Nobody, not even the religious leaders, can escape the law if they spread inter-religious hatred. Pakistan would be a great counttry if Pakistanis could follow the practices of the Americans in this respect. As humnas they have problems but they continue fixing them. Unfortunately Pakistanis keep adding on to their problems by encouraging the evil-doers. Look how the killer of Governor Taseer is being treated as a hero after breaking his trust and violating the Pakistani law.Recommend

  • islooboy
    Sep 29, 2011 - 9:21AM

    sorry mate ever been to ambore muzzafarabad azad kashmir after visiting that you might never say mera bharat mahan

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  • islooboy
    Sep 29, 2011 - 9:22AM

    the only nonmuslims who are succesful are the parsis

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  • islooboy
    Sep 29, 2011 - 9:23AM

    in many indian states eating beef is a crime thats SOoooooooooooo secular

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  • islooboy
    Oct 3, 2011 - 12:08PM

    ever heard of ambore camp in muzzafarabadRecommend

  • Dr Rasheed S Azam
    Oct 3, 2011 - 5:36PM

    Every child borne in this world is borne with right nature inclined towards our Creator. His parents make him, to begin with, what he most often becomes later. There should be no compulsion in religeon. A Moslim is a Moslim (and for that matter any relieon) if he says he is a Moslim and behaves like one. Mullas should have no role in this accept that they should behave themselves as true Moslims!

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