One more reason to leave this country?

Published: March 2, 2011
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The writer is a Lahore-based advocate of the high court with five years experience and an LLM from the University of Sussex

The writer is a Lahore-based advocate of the high court with five years experience and an LLM from the University of Sussex

I had never met Shahbaz Bhatti but I knew him to be a bold man. It was for this reason that I called him over the telephone one fine December morning last year. I wanted to discuss the possibility of convincing the mother of a juvenile Christian housemaid, who died in mysterious circumstances, to challenge the acquittal of the accused. The girl had died in Lahore in January 2010 while she was on duty at the house of the accused. I had heard that Shahbaz Bhatti was in contact with the girl’s mother. He assured me of all possible support, and promised to revert to me later.

Shahbaz Bhatti didn’t get back to me despite my repeated calls and messages, till he was murdered on Wednesday morning. During all these days, since we talked over telephone, I remained furious and thought he had betrayed the cause of hundreds of thousands of children working in miserable conditions. But I also knew that he was fighting on other fronts. In recent months, he had been actively struggling to get the blasphemy laws amended, till everyone withdrew after Salmaan Taseer was murdered in cold blood.

I saw Bhatti on the television screen trying to reason out why he thought the blasphemy laws should be reconsidered. In one such programme, he was bullied by the aggressive female anchor as well as other participants, one an elderly senior Urdu language columnist and the other a ‘court reporter’.

I recall when the elderly columnist, referring to Pope Benedict’s statement about blasphemy laws, used rude language bordering on the abusive, Bhatti advised him to be civil, but this was ignored. The other participant, a reporter claiming to have done court reporting for years, went to the extent of saying in an extremely rude manner that Bhatti had no business questioning an Islamic law as he was not a Muslim. I was shocked. One could clearly see that Shahbaz Bhatti was disturbed; his face gave a bewildered look as he spoke.

I was immediately reminded that the first book I open to find answers to questions on Islamic law is that of DF Mulla, a Parsi. How could anyone be so ignorant, so insensitive, I wondered.

It’s two o’ clock in the afternoon on Wednesday as I write this. About three hours have passed since Bhatti’s assassination. A text message from a friend calls us to join a protest march against the murder, which makes me wonder: How long we will keep protesting, how long will they keep killing our people and how long will we keep counting the bodies? I wonder if all those who said this was not a country worth living were right. I text these disjointed thoughts to a friend who says he gave up on this country a while back.

With Shahbaz Bhatti, our member of parliament and federal minister for minorities, murdered, like Salmaan Taseer was two months ago, there is one more reason to fear, one more reason to leave this country. But both of them lived here despite threats to their lives, till their fates were decided. And this makes me wonder: Could there be a better reason to stay on and shed fear and speak out till everyone else has turned into a Malik Mumtaz Qadri?

I decide to join the protesters.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2011.

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Reader Comments (35)

  • faraz
    Mar 2, 2011 - 11:40PM

    You wont be surprised at public acceptance of mistreatment of minorities if you study the Sharia law (most of which is man-made). According to most Islamic schools of jurisprudence, retaliation for homicide or bodily harm is only allowed if the victim’s blood-price is the same as or higher than the offender’s. Therefore, a person cannot be sentenced to retaliation if he has killed a person with a lower blood price. So, a Muslim cannot be killed for having killed a non-Muslim. Only, in Hanafite law a Muslim may be executed for killing a non-muslim. The value of the blood-price of a non-muslim is fixed differently by the schools: Hanafites and
    Hanbalites hold that it is the same as that of a Muslim, for Maliki its one-half of that of a Muslim and for Shafiites its one-third. Recommend

  • Noor Nabi
    Mar 3, 2011 - 12:02AM

    The fascist tendencies – all in the name of Islam – continue to snowball. God save us from these brutes. Recommend

  • M M Malik
    Mar 3, 2011 - 12:32AM

    There is no temporal punishment for blasphemy. The punishment is in the hereafter as promised by Allah.Recommend

  • Mar 3, 2011 - 12:40AM

    No country for good men!Recommend

  • ex-muslim
    Mar 3, 2011 - 1:27AM

    When Muslims are minorities they ask for equal rights(be it in USA, or UK) but when the Muslims are majority they give Jaziya and death to minorities. The problem is Islam.Recommend

  • Fahed Pervez
    Mar 3, 2011 - 2:48AM

    words never heal the pain of minorities, when peoples have 1000 reasons to killed them in the name of GOD. Recommend

  • pl/sql
    Mar 3, 2011 - 2:50AM

    Have you ever for a moment wondered if all this was a result of your religion? Please Think!!!Recommend

  • Maverick
    Mar 3, 2011 - 3:04AM

    No country for sane people.Recommend

  • John
    Mar 3, 2011 - 3:27AM

    Where are The Pakistan people planning to go, if they decide to leave the country? India, UK, USA, Europe, or UAE etc?

    20 million people suffered on both sides of your border for their ideals for the formation of Pakistan.

    Stay put, fight and make a new nation, once again. This time with Pakistan history as a lesson to correct the injustices.

    I know it is not going to happen, but those of you who are in Pakistan can follow the point I am making.

    For evil to survive it only requires the good people to do nothingRecommend

  • Raja
    Mar 3, 2011 - 6:28AM

    The thought of you all wanting to emigrate is seriously scary.

    Please stay put where you are. At least other countries can live
    and prosper. I hope US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand all be
    very careful and don’t act stupid in admitting more of you.

    In a few years, you will start Jihad in the new place. UK IS ALREADY
    SCREWED.Recommend

  • Village Idiot
    Mar 3, 2011 - 6:56AM

    Agree every bit of what is written by @ ex muslim
    This country is ending in dark and evil ends,,,,,,,,,lets see how long it goes.
    It is called…..death of all hopes.Recommend

  • samar
    Mar 3, 2011 - 9:16AM

    faraz, what you refer to as various muslim laws are themselves blasphemous. don’t you think so? in my opinion protesting cartoons of the prophet too was blasphemous. these are things which remind us of our past when we were idol worshipers. Recommend

  • vasan
    Mar 3, 2011 - 10:08AM

    When muslims are minorities, they ask not only equal rights, they demand even more
    1. Wearing burqua in western countries
    2. They demand religious laws instead of secular laws of the country,(eg poligamy)
    3. Issueing fatwas like nobody’s business putting prize money for killing and inciting violence
    4. Curtailing scientific education and spreading rumours (eg rumours against polio vaccine)

    The list is endless. Pl save Islam from muslimsRecommend

  • MilesToGo
    Mar 3, 2011 - 10:26AM

    @ex-muslim

    bingo!!! you got it right!!Recommend

  • Athar Quraishi
    Mar 3, 2011 - 1:26PM

    Wonderful! First we dirty our own turf, then decide to export ourselves onto the pastures of others? Once there, we denigrate their culture, the very culture, which actually was accepting of us in the first place. To which, we own a reason to breathe, our very existence. Next, we train a group of so-called disenfranchised youths to foment violence and terror on ordinary unsuspecting citizens.

    ======
    I tell you, vultures are better! This is why we are reviled in the West. Especially in the UK. What are we complaining about. We have limited ourselves and cloistered ourselves in our little dingy corners and ghettoes. We wallow in our own mire, and blame the ‘gora’ for his racism. What of our own racism. Our own prejudices. Where did we acquire those? From whom?

    ======
    Why is it, that as a Pakistani, I see people from India and Bangladesh succeeding in this so-called ‘racist’ society with their hard work. Why is it that we Pakistanis like to call ourselves the same people as Indians and Bangladeshis when in the West, but when in Pakistan, I see us trying to pretend that we are Middle Easterners.

    ======
    Nobody wants us. If you are in Pakistan, do not assume that your degrees from the West, or our big bank accounts will automatically make you acceptable for residency / citizenship / asylum in the West or even in India. A Pakistani, is seen as a liability, socially, culturally, politically and economically. The world wants to be left in peace.

    ======
    We need to find our peace on our own. And I get the feeling that with the death of Shahbaz Bhatti, we are going to get the peace of the graveyard on a national scale. One more partition. This time splintering into four countries instead of two. At least, that is a geometric progression. Recommend

  • Aaru
    Mar 3, 2011 - 1:53PM

    hope good senses will prevailRecommend

  • Ravi
    Mar 3, 2011 - 3:34PM

    @ex-muslim:
    i hope you are not in a muslim dominated country any more or else you would be executed by now for leaving i-slam…..
    good that you have peace mate… God Bless YouRecommend

  • MAD
    Mar 3, 2011 - 6:05PM

    @the author

    Leaving this country out of fear would make me as mush a traitor as those who seek to destroy it. I wont go.Recommend

  • Arif Z
    Mar 3, 2011 - 8:05PM

    @MAD:
    You wont go… it is clear from your name!Recommend

  • harkol
    Mar 3, 2011 - 8:21PM

    @author

    Majority of the Minorities have already left the country! 1998 census in Pakistan showed Hindu population to be 1.2%, What happened to 18% of Pakistani hindus between 1947-1998?

    Is the case of intimidation against minorities anything new in Pakistan? If civil society has tolerated a theocratic state from its inception, what’s the use of crying now?

    Pakistan should offer to send away its minority citizens to country of their choice. I feel India should graciously accept the Hindus of Pakistan, who are second class citizens and are in mortal danger.Recommend

  • Vicram Singh
    Mar 3, 2011 - 9:25PM

    @Athar Quraishi: “Why is it, that as a Pakistani, I see people from India and Bangladesh succeeding in this so-called ‘racist’ society with their hard work. Why is it that we Pakistanis like to call ourselves the same people as Indians and Bangladeshis when in the West, but when in Pakistan, I see us trying to pretend that we are Middle Easterners. ”

    Isn’t Islam in some way contributing to this identity crisis ? Recommend

  • Vicram Singh
    Mar 3, 2011 - 9:32PM

    @harkol: “Pakistan should offer to send away its minority citizens to country of their choice. I feel India should graciously accept the Hindus of Pakistan, who are second class citizens and are in mortal danger.”

    In my opinion all Hindus and Sikhs irrespective of nationality have a right to reside in India/Bharat – just like any Jewish person has the right to settle in Israel. I consider it a matter of great honour if our brothers in Pakistan migrate to India. They are welcome to settle anywhere in India/Bharat.

    Similarly, any discontented Muslim Pakistani can pick from ANY Muslim country to migrate to.Recommend

  • Bangash
    Mar 3, 2011 - 11:12PM

    Funny how Islamophobes grab one act to condemn all Islam, while ignoring the millions of Muslims who live good lives.Recommend

  • Dr Haroon Iqbal
    Mar 3, 2011 - 11:33PM

    Actually , Pakistan is an idealogical state , which has been demonised by west as a terrorist and failed state.If people like Taaseer and Shahbaz bhatii have died ,the real killers are not Muslims or so called Islamic fanaticism but instead liberal extremism and secular insanity of the west who have been obsessed by centuries old crusades and who have biblically inspired to eliminate Muslims from the face of the earth.If both of these men are killed and other like them are paranoid . ask the German killer in Dresden court why? ask Sarkozi , the husband of a nude actress why ? ask danish publishers of blasphemous caricatures of prophet Muhammad SAW why? and ask Bush who declared war on Islam under the cloak and pretense of war on terror , alias war on Islam. Pakistan was created in the name of Islam, and minorities are protected here unless they don’t play in the hands of the west and western minions, and this small minority of liberal extremists should be careful while commenting on the status of Pakistan and the its ideology , or else leave Pakistan.I think murder of Bhatti is the work of worlds biggest terrorist organization, the CIA to dent Pakistan’s image and deviate people’s mind from Raymond Davis , the double murderer.Is it a must that terrorist should have a beared and a cap?Recommend

  • harkol
    Mar 4, 2011 - 12:25PM

    @Vicram Singh

    I wasn’t advocating taking Hindus/Sikh’s of Pakistan because India is a Hindu Nation. I was doing so, because they are second class citizens and are in mortal danger because of the result of a partition of British India on the basis of Religion.

    I won’t advocate other Muslim nations should accept Pakistani Muslims, for they are ‘the nation’, and have made Pakistan what it is today. They have the power to change things. They aren’t the victims, but in a way are perpetrators. Recommend

  • harkol
    Mar 4, 2011 - 12:32PM

    @Dr Haroon Iqbal

    You are one great specimen of the Pakistani species, and your comments are an illustration of what Pakistan has become.

    I am in total agreement with you, that Pakistan is founded on religious ideology and all those who don’t agree with it should leave Pakistan to its fate and move out. I am sure once is 100% Muslims, its citizens can achieve what ever they want to achieve in Pakistan faster than they are doing currently.Recommend

  • Jason
    Mar 4, 2011 - 9:47PM

    I am surprised at how ‘muslims’ in the subcontinent seem to be so “worked up” about the demolition of Babri Masjid.

    Islam was never evangelized in the Indian subcontinent. It was spread by forcibly converting a large section of the underclass, who were unable to resist the threats and pressures of the muslim invaders. Islam was used as an instrument of subjugation and persecution and not for its spirituality. In the process, the invaders destroyed some Indian monuments and erected others, all with the intent of exercising their command in the Indian subcontinent. Babri Masjid was one such monument. It was less of an emblem of religion as it was a symbol of the heinous atrocities and persecution committed by those invaders. Hence, a place like that cannot have any place in modern India.

    Because islam was spread involuntarily and with dubious motives, it will always be viewed negatively among large section of Indians. Also, since Islam is not an indigenous religion evolved organically from India’s way of life, it will always be seen as alien to India.

    The question most rational people are asking is, if people practicing islam were forced into it, why do they continue with it when the threat from invaders have long disappeared (300 years to be precise). The only plausible explanation —- “Stockholm syndrome”.Recommend

  • Kamran A.
    Mar 5, 2011 - 2:44AM

    @ jason
    Man that is the funniest foot in the mouth rant i’ve ever read. You paint the most unflattering and the bleakest picture of Islam, based on the worst kind of stereotypical propaganda, but that’s ok, one is obviously a slave to one’s intellectual limitations. So you create this awful landscape and then ask yourself a question that you should have left alone for a detractor, but once again those limitations, “if people practicing Islam were forced into it, why do they continue with it, when the threat from invaders have long disappeared(300 years to be precise)”, direct quote from your post. Tell me honestly, halfway through that question did you not say to yourself, man what the heck am i doing asking this question, it practically answers itself. As a matter of fact the answer must be staring… no practically striking you in the face repeatedly, like a boxer hitting a speed bag, but you managed not to acknowledge it. Now that is what i call “Stockholm syndrome”, think about it seriously,don’t wait for 300 years. lolRecommend

  • Anoop
    Mar 5, 2011 - 3:05AM

    Leave the country before it explodes. Taliban are at the Gates and the liberals who are supposed to guard the gates are vacating their positions out of fear!Recommend

  • ik
    Mar 5, 2011 - 2:58PM

    Shahbaz Bhatti made a mistake of not leaving Pakistan & lost his life. I advice his family to leave immediately & show the world what a state Pakistan is in. I myself had relocated to Pakistan but after Shahbaz Bhatti’s assassination have left the country for good unfortunately.Recommend

  • QED
    Mar 5, 2011 - 8:05PM

    @Kamran A.:
    If anyone has been ranting it has been you. Clearly from your posting it is clear that you do not know what ‘foot in the mouth’ and ‘Stockholm syndrome’ means. Considering that you have access to the net, you should have at least looked it up instead of appearing so meaningless. I guess your emotions got the better of you and you had to spew something.

    Jason’s comments has been one of the most articulate I have seen here. It is as grounded in history and reality as it can get. Anybody who has any doubts can do their independent verification.

    I am always amused when Pakistanis claim to be a ‘muslim’ and hold it out to be their primary identity. Whenever there is an alleged or perceived slight to Islam, they are the first to be up in arms (who appointed them to be ‘torchbearer’ or spokesman for Islam is still unknown). One’s primary identity can only be that is unique and indigenous to them. Clearly, for Pakistan, Islam does not meet that test. The only people who can claim to be ‘muslim’ as an identity are the Arabs who are the originators of Islam. In fact, inadvertently, it establishes Pakistan’s subservient status. Following someone else’s religion is an indication as well as admission that one cannot create one’s own. No wonder the Arabs treat them so “well” as their “muslim” “brothers”.Recommend

  • Mar 9, 2011 - 11:42AM

    @faraz:

    What are you trying to prove? As per Pakistani law , there is no discrimination on the bases of religion , creed or ideas.

    The process you mentioned is not applicable to present age, as it was for a situation where cultural and social realities were different. No one is Dhimmi in Pakistan, all are equal citizens of Pakistan.

    Then it is misleading to divert the attention by making irrelevant comments.Recommend

  • AN
    Mar 16, 2011 - 1:36AM

    @Anoop:
    Don’t worry about us man. You are always so “concerned”. We can’t take it anymore. In your country, saffron terrorism is on the rise. So worry about that.Recommend

  • Saman Shahzad
    Mar 18, 2011 - 10:57AM

    @Athar Quraishi:
    Sir,

    I went through all that you’ve read and agree to all of a 100% too, infact reading your comments gave me the chills. Being a child i used to wonder what it meant being a RACIST or an EXTREMIST and now i see one in myself too.We are one nation who has a rotten soul and are too prejudiced to accept it. We sit in our lavish and comfortable drawing rooms discussin our country’s problem over COFFEE or DESSERT but do not have te heart to mend our own way.

    Anyways my intention is not to go on about what we’ve become as you’ve already said it all pretty well, all i ad to say is that wat you’ve written is commendable.Recommend

  • Sulieman Pasha
    Mar 22, 2011 - 4:41AM

    @John:

    Pakistan is a farcical and failed experiment. Its founding principle is based on a gross injustice.Recommend

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