Tag Archives: Pakistan

Trump rumored to add more countries to ban list, including Pakistan, Egypt, and Afghanistan

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Hearing through the grapevine (the immigration lawyer grapevine, to be exact) that there is a draft of an executive order which adds the following countries to the current ban:

  • Egypt
  • Lebanon
  • Afghanistan
  • Pakistan
  • Colombia
  • Venezuela
  • Southern Philippines
  • Trans-Sahara (Mali)
  • Sulu/Sulawesi Seas Littoral

Rumor is that this executive order is to be given tomorrow. It is uncertain whether this will affect green-card holders (as in, permanent residents who have already been extremely vetted) and dual citizens. The last executive order did/does not apply to dual citizens who hold US citizenship, but no word on whether this one will be the same. (This is of particular importance to my family and me, as most of us are dual citizens of the United States and Pakistan.)

Note that a few of these are not Muslim-majority areas (the Southern Phillipines do have a sizeable Muslim population, however). I’m not sure whether this is specifically designed to make it seem as though this is not targeting Muslims, but Rudy Giuliani has already confirmed for us that a ban on Muslims has always been Trump and his administration’s intent. There is also the fact that the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv has assured Israel that its (Jewish) citizens holding dual nationality with one of the banned countries would be exempt.

I hope these rumors are mistaken. But as my fiancé just noted, “it’s starting to feel like Trump just executed Order 66.”

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Pakistan’s peace issues: the Shia genocide

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I once had a friend who told me they felt disrespected and looked down upon by their Sunni friends for being a Shia Muslim.

Now, I am no longer friends with said individual for a few very legitimate reasons. But not one of them has anything to do with religion, race, sex, orientation, or class. Nor do I believe that any of our friends cared what this friend believed in either. However, the fact that they even said this is very indicative of a huge problem the Islamic world has had since the death of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh).

We have absolutely failed as a collective Ummah when it comes to solidarity and acceptance of each other.

Nearly 50 people were killed in a bombing in Abbas Town, a predominantly Shia area in Karachi, Pakistan earlier this month. The attack is just the latest in a series of recent attacks by Sunni militant groups.

According to an article by the BBC:

“Some activists called 2012 the worst year in living memory for attacks on Pakistan’s Shia community, with rights groups estimating that about 400 perished in militant attacks.

But this year is also shaping up to be among the deadliest: nearly 200 people were killed in two separate bombings targeting Shias in the south-western city of Quetta in January and February.”

I was interning at The Express Tribune (Pakistan’s first internationally affiliated newspaper in partnership with The International Herald Tribune, the global edition of The New York Times) when several bombings took place in Quetta and the northern Swat Valley on January 10. 130 people were killed and at least 270 were injured. For days, the headlines covered the effects of the blasts as well as the ensuing protests, particularly one in which members of the Shia community and local Shia officials refused to bury their dead for four days until the army took control of security in the city.

The very next month, at least 84 people were killed and 190 injured in yet another attack in Hazara Town, right outside Quetta. Most victims were of the ethnic Hazara community, a predominantly Shia demographic.

Pakistan has a history of Shias being persecuted, as do quite a few other predominantly Sunni Muslim countries. For as long as I can remember, every Muharram (one of the four sacred months of the Islamic calendar, and an especially important one for Shias) I hear about riots and attacks on Shia religious gatherings in my birthplace of Karachi. This past Muharram (November 14- December 14) seemed to have catalyzed something even worse than in years past. Thousands of men, women, and children have become victim to the violence, often caused by militant groups Lakshar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, a Sunni militant organization with ties to Al-Qaeda and the Tabliban.

The violence is the work of militant groups with whom the large majority of Pakistanis strongly disagree.  But the fact of the matter is that not enough of the Muslim majority are speaking out against this.  And that stems from the fact that there is bias, there is misunderstanding, there is even hate coming from both Sunnis as well as Shias.

Both sects have a disturbing amount of ill will towards the other. Most of the time it is mild, but it is there. I do not personally know a single Muslim who condones violence in any form against others regardless of who or what they are, yet the subtle prejudices do exist. The aforementioned individual once went on a rant about the differences between Shiaism and Sunnism and literally deemed some of our beliefs “stupid”. This is a person whom always struck me as an intelligent one, yet here they were not only disrespecting their fellow Muslims but actually saying it straight to someone who adheres to Sunni Islam. I know quite a few Sunnis who have said things about Shias such as “They’re not true Muslims,” and “If you’re going to marry a Shia, you might as well marry a Christian.” Both Sunnis and Shias have inflicted violence upon each other, both groups have been discriminated against by the other but in many countries, Shias, as the 10% minority, lose.

I myself do very much disagree with some of the doctrines of Shia Islam. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be Sunni. But that does not mean that I feel I have the right to disrespect someone else for their beliefs. Us Muslims tend to be very intolerant of those who differ in beliefs from us, whether it is on the subject of the oneness of God or how high of a skirt a woman should be allowed to wear. We fight over these petty things and set a horrible example for rising generations when what we should be teaching them is tolerance, respect, and a love of peace and harmony. Without those basics, Islam is not Islam. Period.

And in Pakistan, where a little mentally challenged girl received death threats in a village for burning copies of the Qur’an, where a Christian federal minister was killed by the Taliban for pushing for reform of blasphemy laws, where the Hazara community has lost 800 of its own to terrorist attacks, its people tend to forget the words of a one particular Shia Muslim whom they claim to respect and adore:

You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed. That has nothing to do with the business of the State.”

Mohammad Ali Jinnah, also known as Quaid-e-Azam (Great Leader), founder of Pakistan and a Shia Muslim.

Mohammad Ali Jinnah, also known as Quaid-e-Azam (Great Leader), founder of Pakistan and a Shia Muslim.

Ab imo pectore,

Syjil

Getting the Peter Parker treatment

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The Express Tribune was launched over two years ago as Pakistan’s first internationally affiliated newspaper. Owned by the Lakson Group (think the Murdochs of Pakistan… or 2nd to the Murdochs of Pakistan), the Tribune is in partnership with The International Herald Tribune, the global edition of the New York Times. Today was my second day interning at its Karachi office.

I work at the City desk and my boss, the City Editor, is… Well, let’s just say I feel she’s taken the whole tough editor stereotype from movies a little too seriously. Sure, a good editor’s a Perry White, but this woman is channeling J. Jonah Jameson. Of course, having picked out five errors in the leading front page story (Pakistani English isn’t very strict) while waiting in the lobby before my interview a few days before, I’m too cocky to be anything but amused. Seeming to not realize she’s dealing with a kid who’s been going to school in New Jersey for eight years, she’s been throwing the F-word around like it’s a whole new thing. And while I slightly and silently agreed when she called my mother over-protective to her face the day before when Mommy Dearest wanted to come in with me to see where I was working, I couldn’t help but wonder if the woman had ever heard of Daniel Pearl. Turns out my boss hadn’t realized I not only studied in the States but lived there as well until she asked to clarify what I meant when I called in earlier to check whether I should come in today because the Consulate had told us to be extra careful. ( As usual, there’s been some violence on the streets after an assassination attempt of a local political/religious leader which freaked my mom out and led to her forcing me to call ahead.) But all this wasn’t until after my darling boss had already managed to tell me I shouldn’t be in journalism if I was going to be a pansy. Needless to say, I’m no longer involving my mother in any of this. And even more needless to say… I’m definitely going to show her how much I’m not a pansy.

Still, I’m learning some new things, and I like it. After Miss Congeniality made some changes to a piece I had edited, I went to fix it on my desktop when she took the print out she had marked up, turned it over and told me to make the changes from memory. I had to translate Urdu quotes into English and remember to stick to British spellings. (Thank you, Inkheart and UK versions of Harry Potter.) The power went out a few times, and I was handed chai without being asked if I wanted any. Typical Karachi in a typical newspaper office.

Being a journalist,– a proper one, at least– you want to see the world, meet all kinds of people from all kinds of places, experience different cultures, and learn that which you cannot from textbooks and lecture halls. Actually working at a media outlet on the other side of the world is the perfect experience. You learn a different language, different lifestyle, immerse yourself in another culture, see another viewpoint of media (a much more objective one at that). Journalists record history as it happens. We tell stories in the eyes of those who were there. And being in another country, the story is one that never fails to intrigue.

Elmo’s dunya

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Why hello lovelies,

It’s been a pleasant week, apart from an article in the Targum that was published on Monday and which has lead me to really want to do some damage to one of the editors… I’d rather not even address it.  I might later, though.

I’m just keeping it short and simple… I posted this on Facebook (and my Twitter, I think) right when they released the info that they had this idea, and they’re finally going to run with it.

Sesame Street hits Lahore.

I love this. I’m from a family and area in Karachi where I really haven’t been exposed to the illiteracy and extreme conservatism of Pakistan, but I do know that, as my mother often says, what Pakistan needs more than anything is education. And the main Pakistani character is a girl. Love, love, love it.

Kind of wondering why Big Bird isn’t there though. Would have been nice to see him spit some Urdu.

Ab imo pectore,

Syjil.

The link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-16078217