PML-N Senator Sajid Mir attends Khatm-e-Nabuwat conference in Sargodha

If Pakistani liberals and moderates don’t speak out against this, this is criminal.


This is Senator Sajid Mir of PML-N:

This is a report of a Khatm-e-Nabuwat conference held in Sargodha reported in today’s edition of Jang:

In this conference, attended by PML-N Sajid Mir, it was announced by the various ‘scholars’ in attendance that Qadiyanis should be removed from key posts immediately. Sajid Mir not only attended but also addressed the conference.

Update: in the interests of fairness it’s worth considering this news story as well which describes the Khatm-e-Nabuwat conference held in Lahore inside Badshaahi Mosque last April. (As commenter Sparklingway pointed out, this is a government controlled mosque). One of the speakers was no one other than the Federal Minister of religious affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi of the PPP.

As terrorists have just gunned down 12 people inside Jinnah hospital in Lahore (where survivors of the Garhi Shahu and Model Town mosque attacks were being treated) it’s worth considering what a despicable set of politicians we have where federal level politicians from both major parties are attending Khatm-e-Nabuwat conferences while events like this are happening.

Unfortunately the English press doesn’t report on these conferences, probably because they are uncomfortable and unpleasant things to think about. The Model Town and Garhi Shahu attacks are a good time to consider the media blackout on reporting on hate speech and the free reign it gives politicians like Sajid Mir and Hamid Saeed Kazmi with regards to their activities.


Team Pakistan at the Hay Festival

Obviously I am not the literary type because I really had no idea what the Hay Festival is so I had to check Wikipedia. Turns out it’s some stuck up British literary festival that Bill Clinton called “The Woodstock of the Mind”. If by Woodstock of the Mind that means it’s a platform for aging baby boomers to embarrass themselves by holding forth on their idiotic political views then I guess Musharraf – the author of that great literary masterpiece “In the Line of Fire” – was the perfect person to invite to speak at it.

Referring to Pakistan’s relations with India, he recalled being told in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, of a proverb which said that when two elephants fight the grass gets trampled. “I shudder to think if two elephants start making love the grass gets more trampled,” he said.

What does this even mean? Do we even want to know?!

Our second represenative to the woodstock of the mind demonstrates that baby boomers do not hold a monopoly on idiocy. Fatima Bhutto’s speech today showed that despite years of supposedly working as a “journalist” in Pakistan she still lacks an even basic understanding of Pakistan’s system of government:

She said that there is no difference between the ‘democratic’ regime of Asif Ali Zardari – who, like the dictator Pervaz Musharraf, disdained national elections and was chosen by his own Parliament

I mean how difficult is it for Fatima Bhutto to read a Wikipedia page about her country once in a while. It’s helpful and stops you from making an ass of yourself in public.

Major Adnan sent home to his family

So in this news report we are told two things:

1. That ISPR spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas confirmed on Saturday that Major Adnan was dismissed from the military because he had ties to banned organizations and 2

2. Major Adnan was released from detention on orders from “high up”

I have to say that I’m really grateful to the anonymous intelligence source who keeps leaking the stories about Major Adnan to the media. Ever since the LA Times first broke the story there’s been denial by the army at every stage. First that Major Adnan was actually dismissed (despite an earlier report in The Nation to the contrary – oops!) then that he was dismissed due to connections with banned organizations and finally that the connections with banned organizations were the same organizations that were involved with the Times Square plot. Call it a wild hunch but incidents like this and the Ramzi Yousuf extradition saga probably contribute to Rehman Malik’s unpopularity with the powers that be. I’m not saying he’s responsible for leaking the information, but clearly there are “law enforcement sources” who are leaking selectively to the press and preventing the army from brushing everything under the carpet.

Actually I have a feeling the US is just going to ignore this whole Major Adnan angle anyway. But somehow it makes me feel better that there is someone out there who the military is probably just waiting to wring the neck of if they can figure out who it is.


A number of Ahmedi young men on motorcyclists ensured shifting of the victims’ bodies, through ambulances, to the graveyard. The bodies started reaching from 9am and the process was ongoing till the filing of this report. The district police made tight security arrangements and all traffic from Khatam-e-Nabuwat Chowk to Chanab Nagar graveyard was diverted to Pindi Bhattian-Sargodha Road. Only ambulances and motorcycle squads of the Ahmedis were allowed to come near Chanab Nagar.

It’s worth noting that both the locations described in the above-quoted news story have been renamed in recent history, both over the Ahmadi issue. The threateningly named “Khatm-e-Nabuwat” chowk in Chiniot used to be known as Tehsil chowk before it was renamed in April 2009 probably as a result of the renewed religious zeal since it was few weeks after the Khatm-e-Nabuwat conference held in Badshahi mosque in Lahore on April 11 2009.

Similarly, the town of Rabwah was renamed to Chenab Nagar after a resolution of the Punjab Assembly in 1998 on the grounds that the word Rabwah is mentioned in the Quran and so an unacceptable name for the den of Qadiyaniat. I thought this paragraph, written in support of the resolution was really interesting:

It is interesting to note that following this purely internal decision, Western Media, a few vocal “human rights” advocates, and Qadiani spokespeople expressed their disapproval of this resolution by the representatives of the people of the sovereign state of Pakistan. If this issue, as they assert, is of no importance and consequence, then we should all wonder why they have even bothered to ridicule and offend the people of Pakistan. This unfair objection has only served to further expose their bias against Islam and the People of Pakistan and reinforce the idea that many of the so called “news” and “human rights” organizations are unjustly used as Political tools to mock and attack Islam and the believers.

I love this. I didn’t think that there could be any way to insert an element of victimhood into a gloating rant about a shameless act of tyranny of the majority but here it is.

I’d really like to go see this exhibit!

From the NPR story on a Paris exhibit on Iran’s “twitter” revolution:

“My generation, we [were] very ashamed, because it was our fault what’s happened to them,” she says, adding that the latest demonstrations have helped bring the two generations back together.


The gallery’s top floor is pitch dark, except for some tiny electric candles placed around the floor. The room is filled with the sound of people chanting “Allahu akbar,” or “God is great,” from the rooftops of Tehran.

Another Green Ribbon member, Azam, 27, says this chanting went on every night for more than six months after the June 12 election, turning what was once a mantra of the Islamic revolution into a call for protest. She says the nightly ritual brought people closer.

“They went to the top of their house or behind their window, and they say ‘Allahu akbar,’ and in front of your house there’s another house, and there’s someone there who says ‘Allahu akbar,’ and they know each other after one month. And it’s so kind,” Azam says.

More on that here

Specifically I thought it was really, really interesting how you have here two examples of religion being used in politics. In the first case, the older lady reflecting on 1979 and how her generation’s support of Khomeini was a disaster that the new generation still blames them for. In the second case you have this amazing, spontaneous and moving expression of political sentiment via a simple religious slogan. At what point does religion as political expression become “dangerous”? I mean, at what point is a line crossed? I would guess that it’s impossible to say until you’re past it. It’s very easy to condemn Bhutto, for example, with the benefit of hindsight. Not so easy when you are actually living in between 1970-1974 to say when the line was crossed, but it was certainly crossed by the time of the second amendment.

I would guess that this is the biggest challenge for Muslim politicians in the present century which is how to manage the religiosity of the public (which tends to naturally overshadow all other forms of political expression) and to prevent it from becoming a beast that swallows the entire political system. In “Discourses on Livy” Machiavelli says that the ruler of the Republic should co-opt symbols of religion that hold emotional value to the public. I think he gave the example of some ruler who disregarded some augury before a war and suffered politically as a result. But Machiavelli was referring to the pagan religions of the ancient world and I don’t think he had as accommodating an attitude towards the Christian church and honestly, I have no idea what he would have made of a Muslim majority state where Islam is clearly a competing source of political authority and moreover one to which the public turns far more naturally than to any ramshackle “corrupt” and man-made system of government.

Recasting Karbala in the Genre of Urdu Marsiya – Syed Akbar Hayder

Urdu marasi,[2] or elegies, have not only rendered to the Urdu language literary and poetic beauty, but also a medium of religious, cultural, and intellectual expression. Although some Urdu marasi deal with topics other than the seventh-century battle of Karbala, most of them have focused on the events that paved the path to this battle and the agonizing aftermath of this event. In this paper, I will discuss the salient characteristics of the genre of marsiya and the variations of the Karbala theme within this tradition according to changing social, cultural, and political contexts.

In order to comprehend Urdu marasi, it is essential to glance briefly at the historical and social milieu that nourished this genre. The tradition of marsiya has its roots in the pre-Islamic Arab and Persian worlds, where human sentiments and pathos were expressed in form of elegiac poetry.[3] This tradition continued after the advent of Islam, with many companions of the Prophet Muhammad, such as Umar, arranging for elegies to be written about their deceased family members.[4] In 680 C.E., on the bank of the river Euphrates, Hussain, a grandson of Muhammad, along with his seventy-one companions, was killed in a deserted place, Karbala, for refusing to pay allegiance to the Ummayad ruler, Yazid. This event became a major theme for the marasi of the ensuing centuries. According to some traditional beliefs, the first marasi were recited by Hussain’s sister, Zainab, and son, Zain-al-Abedin, in the aftermath of Hussain’s martyrdom. There were, however, severe restrictions imposed on such mourning ceremonies since the Ummayad rulers could not afford to foster empathy for the family of the Prophet.[5]

When Shi’ism[6] became the official religion of Iran in the fifteenth century, Safavid rulers such as Shah Tahmasp, patronized poets who wrote about the tragedy of Karbala, and the genre of marsiya, according to Persian scholar Wheeler Thackston, “was particularly cultivated by the Safavids.”[7] The most well-known fifteenth-century Persian marsiya writer was Muhtasham Kashani (d. 1587), whose works consequently became a source of elegy emulation for Iranians as well as Indian poets of ensuing generations.[8]

Persian and Arabic languages and literatures had a momentous influence on Indo-Muslim culture in general and on the evolution of Urdu language and literature in particular. The Adil Shahi and Qutb Shahi dynasties of South India (Deccan), predominantly Twelver Shi’is in religious persuasion, patronized Dakhni (an early South Indian dialect of Urdu) marasi. Although Persian marasi of Muhtasham Kashani were still recited, the Adil Shahi and Qutb Shahi rulers felt the need to render the Karbala tragedy in the language of common Muslims. In the Adil Shahi and Qutb Shahi kingdom of Deccan, marasi flourished, especially under the patronage of Ali Adil Shah and Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah,[9] marsiya writers themselves, and poets such as Ashraf Biyabani.[10] Urdu marasi written during this period are still popular in South Indian villages. One such marsiya expresses the pathos of the moment when Imam Hussain’s loved ones bid him farewell:

Farewell, O King of martyrs,
Farewell, O Ruler of both worlds,
Mustafa [the Prophet] mourns for you in Paradise,
like Yaqub mourned in the aftermath of his separation with Yusuf.[11]

Read the rest here

An interesting article on Egypt

Here’s a fascinating article on Egypt’s bleak political landscape. What’s striking to it to me is the similarity between Egypt today and Pakistan in the 60s before the advent of populist politics of the non-religious kind.

Imagine a Pakistan with a very strong JI and a few Mushahid Hussains, Imran Khans, Junejos to balance it out with the ruling junta of Musharrafs, Ayubs, and their families involved in a symbiotic relationship with their nominal antagonists with Bilal Musharraf or Omar Ayub Khan being groomed as a “technocrat heir”. No PPP, MQM, or PML-N. What a hopeless situation that would be.

Mounir Fakhri Abdel-Nour is the secretary-general of the New Wafd Party (six seats in the lower house), founded in 1983, which takes its name from the party that led the movement against the British occupation after the First World War, and promotes an updated version of that party’s genteel, constitutional liberalism. Abdel-Nour, a banker from a prominent Coptic family, sighed when I asked him about his party’s activities: ‘Our experience as a party has been catastrophic. It’s true that we now have almost unlimited freedom of the press, but it’s useless because we can’t get a direct relationship to the street. The Muslim Brothers have that connection through the mosque, but we’re not even allowed to hold rallies.’

It’s true that our political elite continues to colloborate with the military against itself as Ayesha Siddiqa describes quite well in Military Inc. But at least the establishment hasn’t been successful in destroying all genuine non-religious populist political life in Pakistan the way it has in Egypt. It’s interesting that the two parties PML-N and MQM owe their existence, at least in part, to the efforts of Zia to counter the populism of the PPP with more acceptable alternatives.

Also, this paragraph is quite brilliant. The description of the concentric circles reminds me of the “people’s movement” for the restoration of the judiciary.

As Hani Shukrallah, an editor at Al-Shorouk, one of the new independent papers, points out, ‘the regime has pursued a deliberate policy of selective repression based on class.’ Shukrallah, a veteran of the student left of the 1970s, illustrated this by describing an aerial photograph of a Kifaya demonstration in downtown Cairo. ‘You can see three circles: the first is composed of the demonstrators, a few hundred people. Around them is a circle of several thousand police officers, and around the police is the people. The people are onlookers, spectators. The middle-class professionals in Kifaya can chant slogans like “Down with Mubarak” because they risk, at worst, a beating. But most Egyptians live in a world where anything goes, where they’re treated like barbarians who need to be conquered, and women are molested by the security forces. The average Egyptian can be dragged into a police station and tortured simply because a police officer doesn’t like his face.’ The tortures to which Egyptians are subjected in police stations have been well documented and include electric shocks to the genitals, anal rape with sticks, death threats, suspension in painful positions and ‘reception parties’, where prisoners are forced to crawl naked on the floor while guards whip them to make them move faster.

Good assessment of endgame in Afghanistan

By FB Ali who is, I think, a former officer with the Pak Army.

quid pro quo?

Here’s an interesting and very detailed report about the FIA’s investigation into Benazir Bhutto’s murder. It concludes that Baitullah Mehsud was ultimately responsible for BB’s death. Most PPP supporters would consider this conclusion a huge cop-out since it basically validates the Musharraf government’s initial pronouncement on her death.

Cyril Almeida’s reports on the Supreme Court proceedings in the NRO case suggest that the judiciary has backed down somewhat spectacularly on its original confrontational stance on writing to the Swiss authorities. Is it possible that there has been a quid pro quo between the government and the establishment and the establishment’s end of the bargain is exerting pressure on the judiciary to back down from its confrontational stance on the NRO?

I would say it’s too early to tell but it certainly looks likely. If that’s the case then the government should be very, very careful that it doesn’t concede too much in exchange for too little.

A very interesting petition currently under review by the LHC

RALWALPINDI: The Rawalpindi bench of the Lahore High Court today reserved its judgment in a petition seeking to bar FIA from probing Benazir Bhutto’s slaying.

The petition was filed by Bhutto’s former Protocol Officer.

Applicant’s counsel Asad Rajput argued that Interior Minister Rehman Malik is a nominated accused in this case while an application is already in court for registration of FIR against him (Rehman).

As the Federal Investigation Agency is working under the interior ministry, therefore, it should be stopped from probing Bhutto’s assassination case, it said.

see also:\25\story_25-5-2010_pg7_5