A country only for fanatic men

Published: June 15, 2010
Tazeen Javed lives in Karachi and blogs at A Reluctant Mind. (tazeen.javed@tribune.com.pk)

Tazeen Javed lives in Karachi and blogs at A Reluctant Mind. ([email protected])

Back in 2002 when I was a rookie journalist I met Jeewanti, a teenager who was doused with acid to avenge a property dispute with her family. She was the first person I met who has faced an act of violence against her. Unfortunately since then I have met various people who have faced brutality, be it Munno Bheel who has been fighting for over a decade to release his bonded family or the peon in my former office who fled his home in Chitral because he was a Shia living in a Sunni village fearing persecution for his faith. One of my friends has lost her uncle, a surgeon, during the period when sectarian groups were killing Shia doctors in Karachi.

Every minority – be it ethnic, religious or sectarian – have faced violence and persecution in this country. If you are a religious minority in the land of the pure, you have as much opportunity for growth as a one-legged man in a kicking competition. The constitution bars you from holding the highest offices in the country. Your temples and churches are vandalised and you are not allowed to propagate your religion. You are lucky if you are a Christian or a Hindu, at least you can call your places of worship what you want; if you happen to be an Ahmadi, you cannot even do that.

If you are a child, you are probably one of too many children in the family; your parents do not give you enough food and attention. There are not enough schools and even if they are, you parents cannot afford to send you and you are working to contribute to the family income.

At the workplace you are abused. If you leave home, you could be sexually abused and will end up using drugs. If you end up in a madrassa there is a great likelihood that you will end up as a suicide bomber, perpetuating violence and terror to others. If you are a sectarian minority, you are on the hit-list of all sectarian outfits. They can burn your houses and places of business if you are in Chitral or can shoot you from a distance of two metres in Karachi and get away
|with it.

If you are woman, you will be malnourished and uneducated. When you are a little older, you will probably be doused with acid, burned, tortured, married off to men of inappropriate age and character to pay off debts (vani) or killed to either implicate or secure money from opponents of your family (karo kari). You could be be raped, at times even by the police and other security forces, to settle dispute and at times because men think they can get away with it. Your testimony in the court of law is that of half of a man, and your citizenships rights are limited.

The way things are in this country of ours; soon it will turn into a place where only rich rightwing fanatic men belonging to the majority sect will have any citizenship rights. If you are a religious man from the majority sect spewing venom against the minorities and women from the pulpits, you will have an unassailable immunity.

The way things are, the future migrations from the country would not be for economic reasons, they would be for liberty and freedom.

Published in the Express Tribune, June 15th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (40)

  • Jun 15, 2010 - 1:16PM

    Whereas the writer’s viewpoint might well be worth its worth, but an observation about her mentioning a shia person fleeing Chitral for fear of persecution is ununderstandable as there is not a single Shia person in Chitral that I know of being a Chitrali, and the sentence “They can burn your houses and places of business if you are in Chitral is also hurting, because Chitral has proved itself a most peaceful and tolerant place to be in. It remained unscathed during last years horrible turmoil in the neighbouring districts. Recommend

  • Naqsh Khan
    Jun 15, 2010 - 4:20PM

    @ Fardad – Let’s not forget that Ismailis are a sub-branch of the Shia group and it is a fact that the Ismailies have been persecuted in Chitral for long.

    Nice write – up TazeenRecommend

  • Malik Umer Hayat Chheena
    Jun 15, 2010 - 5:20PM

    Well described the events of hatred and discouragement to the minorities and humiliated sects. From Karachi to Khayber, yet , is there any one to discourage those who are responsible? No. We only write. there is dire need to stop these evils. Nip the evil in the bud is long used policy. I have been in Chitral for a while, and found that though there are some differences yet it is most peaceful as described. Yet there is need to get the things done at the table in the start otherwhise there is no need of foreign elements, we are far capable of killing our own citizen fellows.
    There is dire need to challenge the system within. Recommend

  • Bemisal
    Jun 15, 2010 - 5:38PM

    You take away all hope from us, the younger generation, to ever see us as prosperous individuals enjoying liberty in this country.
    As for the differences among us, they have always been there and they will always be there. The point is not to give up hope saying that this is how it is in this country. It is about making things work despite our differences. I may sound a bit too hopeful right now but it is our responsibility that the migrations that you mention towards the end do not happen. Recommend

  • Jaffar khan
    Jun 15, 2010 - 5:49PM

    The writer is right about Chitral.There is a large population of Ismailis,shia known as “SEVENERS”.The Chitralis are peaceful ,but the religious fanatics have made inroads in the society.They are trying to convert the people of Kafiristan also.Recommend

  • Yousuf Ahmad
    Jun 15, 2010 - 11:43PM

    Now, more than ever, there is an urgent need for inspirational journalism. It would have been nice if you could balance the scathing criticism and pessimism with some recent success stories of the numerous humanitarian efforts currently in progress all over the country.

    Unfortunately though, a lot of what you describe is truly happening in our country. However, I am not so sure about one of your points. I fail to find any reliable statistics that support the claim that “If you end up in a madrassa there is a great likelihood that you will end up as a suicide bomber, perpetuating violence and terror to others.” Maybe the term “great likelihood” should be checked here.Recommend

  • Ustaad
    Jun 16, 2010 - 12:41AM

    Absolutely! I belong to that camp who migrated because of security and freedom and not for economic reasons. Great article.Recommend

  • Softimage
    Jun 16, 2010 - 2:21AM

    A very interesting and mind boggling artical by Tanveen Javed, Yes indeed what is written in the artical is unfortunatly very true and the way things are up at the moment we could see more of this, we already have a tarnished image in the devloped society. I remember in yester years we used to catagorize ourselves as a devloping country and our government used to cover up things saying as we are a devloping nation we would improve in all the segments by the passage of time but what now today we stnd in even more complex situation look at state of affairs in all the segments be it civil society or good governance issue we nag behind.
    If we look at our past i.e since our indepandence we would only find intrques and that too from the power thirsty indivuals who for their own sake messed up the ecology or the smooth transformation of the society, culture, heritage etc.etc.
    The mess we are into can only be resolved through sincere leadership provided that leadership is given a space to breathe if someone asks me who that can be i would certainly vote for MQM they have proved that they have the leadership and the guts to diliver they have proved themselves by demonstrating and delevering pragmaticly.Recommend

  • Lutf Ullah
    Jun 16, 2010 - 9:14AM

    Ismailis donot call themselves Shias. They have their distinct identity quite different to Shia practices. Also it is wrong when one commentor says Ismailis have been persecuted in Chitral since long. Except an odd isolated case in 1983 which was engineered, there has always been complete harmony between the Sunnis and Ismailis in Chitral.Recommend

  • Jun 16, 2010 - 11:00AM

    @ everyone above, Ismailis are Shia Muslims by all means and definitions. Those who have any objections to it, should go and do some more research into Ismaili beliefs and doctrines. They should perhaps read writers like Farhad Daftary, Domique Sila-Khan, Heinz Halm, amongst others!

    Also when you talk about religious minorities and Pakistan’s northern areas, do not forget the works that have been done there by the Aga Khan Development Network! Recommend

  • Erfan Afghan
    Jun 16, 2010 - 11:51AM


    “If you end up in a madrassa there is a great likelihood that you will end up as a suicide bomber, perpetuating violence and terror to others”.

    One in 10,000 – If you compare the number of students who are currently studying there to the number of students ending up suicide bomber.Recommend

  • Ammar Zafarullah
    Jun 16, 2010 - 4:12PM

    Societal violence has a lot to do with how values and norms in the society evolved. As a nation we are hostile towards development we suspect of NGO’s being instruments of CIA, we think of foreign correspondents as CIA, raw agents. Voices of dissent often go unheard as we like to remain in a perpetual state of denial.Recommend

  • mehreen
    Jun 16, 2010 - 7:31PM

    First, Ismailis are not the same as Shia Jafri/ Twelvers. Just like the Dawoodi Bohra`s, Shia Ismaili are not the same as Shia Jafri.
    Even if some have disputed the issue of Chitral, Parachinar is an area on pakistani soil, close to Kohat & bordered by Afghanistan, where the shias are openly persecuted. The stories are horrific and amazingly there is hardly any coverage on the plight of the parachinar shias in the pakistani press.

    Overall a good article, i personally think minority muslims are at a relative advantage in a city like Karachi compared to these Village or Tribal areas. & the attack on the Ahmedi`s is too recent & brutal to not revisit the issue of intolerance & rising sectarian violence.

  • Huda
    Jun 16, 2010 - 8:02PM

    The writer will be the first to emigrate if things get any worse, I can tell.

    After you list all the problems facing us, it is imperative that you also suggest some solutions. Other than emigration.Recommend

  • Salman
    Jun 16, 2010 - 11:42PM


    So what is wrong of the writer decides to migrate as long as she is doing it legally? Why does everything has got to be personal.


    Can you please add the link of the writer’s blog, googling it is a hassle. Recommend

  • Rehan Ali
    Jun 17, 2010 - 12:05AM

    @shahjahan: One in 10,000 – If you compare the number of students who are currently studying there to the number of students ending up suicide bomber.

    Can you provide a source for that awesome study?

    Well there are more than 12000 madressah and roughly 3 million are enrolled there. So if you have any common mathematical sense Erfan comment is an understatement. Recommend

  • Shahjahan Akber
    Jun 17, 2010 - 2:25AM

    <@Rehan Ali You overlooked the second part of that statement. And if we do talk about the numbers of going-to-be suicide bombers, I think the ones who have already graduated from those madrassahs are now holding their own sessions and handing out education.

    It’s the ideology that matters. Unfortunately, that ideology to some extent has been enshrined in our school text books as well. You don’t need to blow yourself up and cause casualties to be a horrible person. Just treating people around you with inequality is enough.>

    <@Huda I agree. A lot of us do complain about the problems the nation is facing. But the entire nation also needs to acknowledge that fact. Since the first military take over by Ayub Khan, politics and politicians in Pakistan have been painted with a color any graphic designer would call UGLY. The people who have long fought for the restoration of Jinnah’s Pakistan have been labeled anti-Islamic and have been thrown in jail, ridiculed, hanged and blown up. So who is to blame if we’re just, talking about these things?>

    For the sake of our coming generations, we all need to sort our problems and once and for all decide if we want to steer Pakistan in the direction Jinnah gave us or leave it open for the Islamists to take it over. Jinnah, undoubtedly wanted equality for EVERY PAKISTANI that wasn’t restricted to religion, gender, or age.

    Or do we want a country where no one would be safe; given that we all are indeed divided in religious sects and further sub-sects?

    How do we sort these problems? If you’re really interested, lets work together on that. I am available at [email protected]

    Please write to me if you’re really interested in steering Pakistan in a direction that would eventually make our children feel safe and proud in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Fowad
    Jun 17, 2010 - 4:06AM

    Every country in the world has its set of problems.Recommend

  • Jordan
    Jun 17, 2010 - 9:34AM

    Thanks a lot Tazeen, strong words like these encourage us!Recommend

  • Usman E.
    Jun 17, 2010 - 9:44AM

    The writer is still a rookie journalist, tagging the whole lot with the minority sect. It would be priseworthy if she would have given a better solution, rather depriving the facts…strong textRecommend

  • Adeel Ahmed
    Jun 17, 2010 - 12:12PM

    A whole lot of problems/issues, no solutions.

    Can someone remind me what the point of this article is?Recommend

  • Irfan Tariq
    Jun 17, 2010 - 12:28PM

    Will anyone write on Karachi target kill where two liberal fanatic forces are fighting with each other !!!!! Recommend

  • Jun 17, 2010 - 12:41PM

    subject of the article doesn’t match really with what has been highlighted and written in the article.

    Justice Rana Bhagwan das as hindu is one example of minority who held the highest post in Judiciary.

    Shia brothers are also at high posts, example of few of them are Senator from PPP n MNA from MQM.

    Dr Abdus Salam was an Ahmadi and was given all due credit.

    By the way i am sunni muslim did i mention any fanatics, but yes i am a Pakistani muslim also who follow the guidance of state as asked by Islam, hence on other lines i supported facebook ban and do support the clause of Ahmadis because its been asked by the state.

    Kind Regards :)Recommend

  • Rashid Saleem
    Jun 17, 2010 - 2:33PM

    Pakistan in the last decade has become a violent country due to the religious extremism which was injected by a dictator. The need now is to shape the society on more liberal and tolerant lines.Recommend

  • Jun 17, 2010 - 3:20PM

    Excuse me add another comment please,

    Imagine if Cricketer Mohammad Yousuf was a Muslim and he later turned into Christian, all the intellectual smarts would have be saying see the fanatics of this nation they forced him to quit cricket just because he turned into christian.

    is anyone talking vice versa?Recommend

  • Salman
    Jun 17, 2010 - 7:25PM


    meray bhai, if anyone tries to leave Muslim faith, s/he is termed a heretic (a murtid) hence wajib-ul-qatal, that is why no one, even the strongest of atheists in Pakistan would never publicly admit that they are atheists, because they will be killed. You can never have a reverse situation, it is all hypothetical and irrelevant. Recommend

  • Babar
    Jun 17, 2010 - 7:42PM

    Wow intersting and i got more info from your comments thanks to all of you for such a useful info.Recommend

  • samina
    Jun 18, 2010 - 9:58AM

    our masses need to be educated they need to be given lessons in walking, talking and keeping their surrounding clean after that they must be trained in earning they liveihood in an honest way.every person must strive to achieve this goal ony then we as anation can walk with our head held high. Recommend

  • parvez
    Jun 18, 2010 - 1:03PM

    Just read your article and you have hit the nail on its head.
    Many of the comments on your article are comical. It is surprising that people just refuse to accept reality.
    Question : Why has Mr.Ghamidi ( a liberal religeous scholar) left this country in self exile ?Recommend

  • saher
    Jun 18, 2010 - 2:06PM

    :D An article that provides us with a blank future, unless we migrate.. but we the elitists forget that when we suggest migration we are actually saying okay ‘we the 1% of pakistani population are leaving and we have left behind an open ground for the extremists to play and make the situation worse for the rest of the 99% of the population”
    any idea how many people die in illegal migrations? the extremists are killing them directly, we are killing them indirectly.

    We are giving minute details o what the differences are.. who is ahmadi, who is sunni who is shia who is deo bandi… why?? aint we all humans? dont we the “enlightened” class have a duty to spread this message?

    Fanatics are increasing in Pakistan because the tolerant are not doing their duty. Recommend

  • Shadab
    Jun 18, 2010 - 8:57PM

    Totally agree with every bit of what Tazeen has written. Alongside rest of the highlighted problems, the growing intolerant behavior towards minority sects is something which must not be overlooked.Recommend

  • Rida Khan
    Jun 19, 2010 - 6:04AM

    Some people here are complaining that the author should have mentioned something ‘positive’ about Pak society and there is a need for inspirational journalism.

    Being a student of English, i can tell you that for every essay, the author has an ‘aim’ or a ‘purpose’ behind his/her writing. Maybe this author did not want to or only wanted to focus on the the racial aspect of the Pakistani society? no?

    Perhaps yes. So see her point of view and consider it. Personally, i completely agree with her description, it reflects truth quite unfortunately.

    Regarding the comment as to that this happens in ‘every’ country. Sorry, but this does NOT happen in every country, ESPECIALLY at this HUGE or EXTREME extent. Mind you, but you are generalising a bit. Many countries treat their minority well- and this includes Australia.

    Now don’t you dare mentioning about the Stolen generation (which wwe have already apologised about eventhough it was not our fault and have given a lot more rights to indigenous Australians than the previous years) or don’t you dare mentioning about the so called ‘indian racial attacks- honestly man, anyone can get stabbed down in the streets of melbourne/ sydney at night ‘regardless’ of their race/ religion. Yet again, communities are working on this and number of street cameras and qualified police officers have increased for the safety and securty of the people.

    Last but not least, Australians being racist towards Muslims?- I am a Muslim, there are people who tolerate my views and opinion more, compare to people back in Pakistan. I love it here, i also wear hijab. I am treated with respect, in fact on occasions given more attention due to my ethnic backgroud and my voice/ opinion is valued and considered. Evidence? Burqa ban was denied in Australia and Julia Gillard give an awesome talk to the European government about their violation of human rights.

    So yes, this sort of stuff doesn’t happen in Australia. In fact, people here nowadays ask me how my family is back in Pakistan since it has been in the news lightly. Look, they are humans like us and they don’t believe it is fair that any human should be treated poorly by anyone. So please don’t generalise that ‘this’ as in the kind of things happening in Pakistan are the kind of things happen in every country.

    We are pretty good, thanks to Allah. :-)Recommend

  • Salman
    Jun 19, 2010 - 2:16PM


    get out of your bubble and you will find that in this country, these differences means difference between life and death. In Sun Tzu’s famous book Art and War, numerous methods of defence are cited but the number 1 method is “run” so if anyone can run and migrate and save their selves, what is wrong with that?Recommend

  • Jun 19, 2010 - 9:48PM


    you are only blaming Islam and this country with out considering the faith of Muslims, do me a favor go and deny the holocaust in Europe, you will be put behind the bars if you do that.Recommend

  • For Salman
    Jun 19, 2010 - 11:06PM

    Tazeen’s blog:


  • Jun 20, 2010 - 4:16AM

    Fact of the matter is that the people exploiting the system are armed and dangerous and at times have the backing of the religion (according to their understanding). And while they MIGHT not be great in numbers, they do have the will to keep this country on a track that leads to eventual death of freedom. And they’re very vocal about it as well.

    From a corrupt police constable to the highest chair in Pakistan and the political workers of many parties (specifically some) and Islamic Fundamentalists, are armed and are ready and willing to keep subjugated anyone they can get their hands on at the cost of their and others life. Of course there are some good elements but they’ve been kept down as well.

    For instance, if you’re vocal in support of Ahmadis on human rights grounds chances are you will be declared or will be threatened to be declared as Non-Muslim and “wajib-ul-qatal”. And that word, “wajib-ul-qatal” has evil connotations to it. It’s so general a term that any “pure” Muslim can take it upon him to come for you and kill you.

    If you raise your voice against a political party, chances are you will be shot on your way back home. And you really can’t expect the justice system to come through for your family. And don’t even get me started how the Police will fail (most of the time) to capture the person or properly investigate the case.

    And I don’t even want to mention how a handful of selfish and evil generals have derailed a country from democracy that could’ve done wonders. And now the entire world looks at us with either pity or spite. We have limited friends Internationally.

    And these are the things that affect us and our freedom directly. Heck, it feels we’re the 3rd world county of the 3rd world countries.

    There’s something so immensely wrong with this system and the collective Pakistan that it needs an entire generation’s sacrifice of time, patience, money, at times and no doubt of life, to get this system fixed. I am not talking about taking up militancy. I am talking about facing it head on.

    We’re not selfish to want our children’s future secured. If we have means to give our children a better future, why not go for it? It’s a pretty bitter pill to opt for the former.

    I repeat, is there ANYONE here who is interested in swallowing that pill?

    My email address is somewhere up there.Recommend

  • Salman
    Jun 20, 2010 - 3:10PM

    shahjahan bhutto sahab,

    stop hijacking someone else’ space.Recommend

  • M. Abid
    Jul 5, 2010 - 3:07PM

    You said: “The way things are, the future migrations from the country would not be for economic reasons, they would be for liberty and freedom.”
    I think people have been leaving Pakistan since over a decade due to the that factors you rightly enumerate in your article! But would it influence our policy makers’ mindset! Or would it stop people fleeing their country for safer lands! what’s our future: we have no safety in our country of birth, nor do we have safe future in the country we migrated to!!Recommend

  • Jul 8, 2010 - 8:36PM

    Tazeen, please do not generalize things, points you’ve identified are happening but not in common, there’re few incidents, but most of the time people in Pakistan are enjoying their life, there’re may be thankless pepole in the world who want everything on their footstep and they will be seen always crying like you, but majority are satisfied with the situation in this land of pure.Recommend

  • nazim ali
    Jul 9, 2010 - 1:19AM

    U r right upto this..but prob wont end here..The way things are in this country of ours; soon it will turn into a place where only rich rightwing fanatic men belonging to the majority sect will have any citizenship rights. If you are a religious man from the majority sect spewing venom against the minorities and women from the pulpits, you will have an unassailable immunity...but the problem wont end there..very soon they also will start fighting among themselves for some reasons…goodluckRecommend

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