JUI-F Sindh: An Ethno-Religo-Political Party

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NAIMAT KHAN – Karachi (AFKAR-Affairs Exclusive)

The results of recent intraparty polls of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazal (JUI-F) Sindh chapter once again brought to the fore the ethnic influence over one of the strong religo-political parties of Pakistan. A report published by Pashtun gazette on July 12, 2019 has discussed how the party’s Sindh Secretary Dr Rashid Soomro side-lined senior leader Qari Usman by not considering him for the party’s 15-member provincial executive council and 45-member provincial Shura۔

In fact, we have a few recent instances of mixing of religion and nationalism by Fazlu Rehman led JUI-F for making inroads into the upper Sindh. However, the party has a ‘little discussed’ but long history of Sindhi nationalism in this southern Pakistani province.

Rewinding 47 years of political history one sees central leadership of this religo-political party finding it hard to differentiate between the Sindhi separatist leader Ghulam Murtaza Syed – popularly known as G.M Syed – and his own party’s provincial leader and one of the country’s leading cleric, Maulana Muhammad Ismail.

“While reading your resolution I felt if G.M Syed is speaking and Sindhi nationalism stands objective of the JUI”, Mufti Mehmood, the then central secretary general of JUI, in his letter on March 13, 1972 to Maulana Muhammad Ismail, writes.

Sindh Policy
Copy of page-4 of the Sindh Policy, calling for provincial autonomy, sending back non-Sindhi bureaucrats to their respective provinces, removing names of non-Sindhi settlers from voter rolls, cancellation of land allotted to non-Sindhis as compensation and giving all departments, except foreign affairs, defense, currency and foreign trade, to the provinces.

Mehmood – who was father of the incumbent JUI-F Chief, Maulana Fazlur Rehman – was pointing towards content of a resolution passed with 95% majority by the JUI Sindh executive council in its meeting held on January 30, 1972.

Mufti Mehmood
Copy of letter dated March 13, 197 sent to Maulana Muhammad Ismail, the administrator Madrasa Arabia MazharulUloom and the JUI-Sindh’s office-bearer, by the party’s central secretary general Mufti Mehmood, in which he had declared his Sindh Policy a speech by staunch Sindhi nationalist leader GM Syed.

“This way you will confine JUI Sindh to few persons and the party will not go beyond of G.M Syed [viewpoint],” Mufti Mehmood further writes in the letter. G.M Syed was a Sindhi Nationalist, who spearheaded the Pakistan Independence bill in the British Sindh Assembly – now Sindh Assembly, but later in 1972 founded the Sindhi nationalist movement, Jeay Sindh, for the freedom of Sindh from Pakistan.

The JUI Sindh meeting was held after the fall of Dhaka, which according to JUI-Sindh’s clerics was result of “bad acts of the rulers over last twenty years”.

“Moreover, the Pakistan’s rulers have usurped the rights of the people living in different parts of the country. The rulers have snatched the political rights of the people of East Bengal, Sindh, Balochistan and North West Frontier Province (NWFP – now called Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” the JUI Sindh’s clerics noted.

Point one of the resolutions, which had criticized the formation of One-Unit, reads. “For the restoration of political, economic, cultural and domestic rights of people of Sindh, all higher education should be imparted in Sindhi whereas all official correspondents should be done in Sindhi language. Moreover, the Sindhi should not only be made official language of Sindh but it should also be brought as per Pakistan’s national languages.”

The resolution also demanded that fresh factories should be set up in Sindh’s small cities, others than Karachi and including Hyderabad and Sukkar, where all skilled labor, including engineers should be local. “If the needs are not fulfilled only then engineers from other provinces should be employed”.

Hafiz Muhammad Ismail

The resolution, which demanded the establishment of agricultural, medical, engineering and cadet colleges in Sindh with “all local enrolment”, urged that only four departments should rest with center – the foreign affairs, defense, currency and foreign trade.

According to resolution only those having come to province before creation of one-unit should be called as Sindhis. “The domicile certificates of children of those who don’t qualify to be called Sindhi shall be cancelled”. “The officers hailing from other provinces should be sent back to their respective provinces” further reads the resolution, which urged for erasing names of those from voter rolls who had come from other provinces. The resolution also demanded that lease of land allotted as compensation to people of other provinces should be cancelled.

This resolution came as utter shock to Mufti Mehmood and he didn’t approve Mufti Ismail’s Sindh policy, pushing him to form his own party, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Sindh but it couldn’t become popular.

The new party couldn’t excel and so the historically seminary founded by Maulana Abdullah, grandfather of Maulan Ismail.

At the heart of this ethnic-cum-religious ideology was a family of clerics and their 134-yeards old Seminary.

Madrasa Arabia Mazharul Uloom

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Photo of Madrasa Arabia MazharulUloom taken in 1884 (Photo by Madrasa office)

A 134-year-old religious seminary, Madrasa Arabia Mazharul Uloom, in Karachi’s oldest town of Lyari has lost its charm for a significantly large number of young students due to its moderate approach to issues like jihad and nationalism.

Situated in the Khadda Market neighborhood, the madrasa experienced its downfall in recent decades since it continued to follow the ideology of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Hind, instead of its Pakistan chapter, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Pakistan.

After Subcontinent’s Partition in 1947, the seminary administration adopted a Sindhi nationalist outlook that was unacceptable to parties doing politics in the name of religion, instead of ethnicities, languages or provinces.

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Photo of Madrasa Arabia MazharulUloom taken in 1939 (Photo by Madrasa office)

According to the seminary’s current administrator, Maulana Mahmud Hasan, who is named after Shaykh al-Hind, Maulana Mahmud al-Hasan, the madrasa was established by his great-grandfather Maulana Abdullah in 1884.

Maulana Hasan, who is a PhD candidate at the University of Karachi, says that Maulana Abdullah sent his grandfather Maulana Muhammad Sadiq to Darul Uloom Deoband, which is located in a town in Saharanpur district, Uttar Pradesh in present-day India. “He enrolled himself on the advice of Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi, who along with my grandfather remained close to Shaykh al-Hind Maulana Mahmud al-Hasan.”

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Maulana Mahmud Hasan administrator of Madrasa Arabia Mazhar ul Uloom speaking to AfkarAffairs (photo by Akber Baloch)

According to the current seminary administrator, the aim behind establishing the Deoband madrasa in Uttar Pradesh was to provide a platform where people with “correct Islamic thought” could struggle against British imperialism. “The purpose revolved around the independence of India, and this struggle was nationalistic and not religious,” he claims.

“After 1947, the ideology of Deoband [Pakistan] has undergone many changes,” he added. “Today, when we talk of nationalism, some of our religious scholars say it’s not in accordance with religion.”

According to him, the religious scholars of Sindh have always taken a different view on most issues since Partition, “whether it pertained to the shifting of capital from Karachi to Islamabad or creation of One Unit.”

“Shaykh al-Hind had opposed Partition because religion cannot become a basis for a nation. A nation is formed on the basis of creed, area and language … That said, nationalism does not allow hatred towards others,” Hasan clarified, adding: “In Pakistan every province has its rights.”

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Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi addressing public gathering of Jamiat-ul-Ulema at Karachi hosted by Maulana Sadiq, founder of Madrasa Arabia Mazharul Uloom. (Photo by Madrasa Office)

“If Pakistan has been created, the provinces have created it. Every province has its rights. The partition on basis of religion was not ideology of Deoband. But today most of the Deoband madaris have adopted the ideology of Muslim League. When we openly say it then why won’t they differ with us?”

No To Kalabagh Dam

The people of Sindh have the biggest rights over the resources of their province. “Even religion establishes this right,” he argued. “If their needs are fulfilled, the remaining resources can be spent on non-Sindhis living in the province.”

He contended the construction of Kalabagh Dam was un-Islamic because all people have rights over the waters of river Indus. “When you stop water the people of Sindh will be deprived. It will also create environmental problems due to the continued coastal erosion. Several villages have vanished due to sea erosion. Since Kalabagh deprives the province of its rights, it’s un-Islamic.”

Despite these differences Darul Uloom Deoband has ties with mainstream Deoband madaris of Pakistan because we can’t gather thousands of people for them, Maulana Hasan says.

“My nationality is Sindhi, whereas our collective nationality is Pakistani and the forums like OIC are Ummah,” Hasan explains.

No to Afghan & Kashmir Jihad

According to Hasan, the Afghan Jihad of the 1980s and the ongoing fight by the Taliban in Afghanistan were not Islamic jihad, either. Going against some prominent religious clerics belonging to his own school of thought in Pakistan, Maulana Hasan said: “We consider neither of these conflicts an Islamic jihad. If you call it national resistance, we will support it. Similarly, fighting in Indian Occupied Kashmir should not be described as Islamic jihad. It’s a fight for self-determination by the people of the Valley.”

These leaders were hosted by Maulana Muhammad Sadiq
Maula Abdul Kalam Azad, Dr Syed Mahmud and Dr M.A Ansari were hosted by Maulana Sadiq in Karachi (Photo by Madrasa office)

Maulana Hasan maintained that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was the alternative to Islamic Caliphate in today’s world. Under OIC’s institutional structure, the governing units were autonomous but only the Caliphate “could wage Jihad.”

To Hasan, the just concept of nationalism was compromised when the Afghan resistance against the USSR was declared Islamic jihad. “Instead of confining the Afghan refugees to camps, like Iran did, Pakistan allowed them to settle in Karachi and other cities and, as a result, we saw a boom in the business of narcotics and firearms.”

Seminary different from mainstream Madaris

Asked how his seminary was different from other mainstream Deobandi schools in the country, Hasan said: “Our aim is to produce graduates with vast understanding of religion.”

“The madrasa wants to create an ability in its students to learn the Quran and the Hadith in their true sense. We further work on a comprehensive understanding of Deen. For this, we have included Hujjatullah al-Baligha of Shah Waliullah in syllabus which is not taught in other Pakistani Deobandi seminaries.”

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Documentation of Newspapers purchased by Madrasa Arabia MazharulUloomin July 1967. Even today, newspapers are mandatory part of the seminary’sLibrary (Photo by Madrasa office

“This is not the only book aimed at broadening the understanding of our students,” Hasan continued, adding The Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldun (Ibn Khaldun’s Prolegomena) was also part of syllabus.

Minhajul Abedin of Imam Ghazali is also taught at the seminary, he added. The library of the madrasa, which is open to all students, offers variety of books in English, Urdu and Sindhi languages along with newspapers and magazines. “This stops the students from thinking narrowly about their religion and prevents them from falling for extremist narratives. We reject religious extremism and oppose liberal fascism due to which we are not liked by both.”

“Deen doesn’t preach violence. We are not allowed to kill any human being,” he added.

Mazharul Uloom had been among ten seminaries from across Pakistan from where Pakistan Army would pick Khateeb in 70s.jpg
Madrasa Arabia Mazharul Uloom had been among ten seminaries from across Pakistan from where Pakistan Army would pick Khateeb in 70s. It lost the space in the list after its refusal to endorse Afghan Jihad (Photo by Madrasa office)

A few enrolments

“We have around 40 full-time boarding students. Around 150 are day-time students, several of them attending Madrasah for Nazra-e-Quran,” Mustafa Rajpar, one of the faculty members told. Among them most are from Balochistan. In its popular days hundreds of students from across the country would attend the seminaries.

Unpopular views regarding popular subjects like Jihad and nationalism are major but not the only reason of decline in enrolments. Due to lack of funding the seminary is unable to provide facilities like Mukafa Shihria (scholarship) to its students. Other seminaries, where thousands study, provide such facilities, says Maulana Zahid Shafi, former graduate of the Madrasah.

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English, Urdu and Sindhi language newspapers are mandatory part of Madrasa Arabia MazharulUloom’s Library (photo by Akber Baloch)

“Elsewhere there is inertia whereas the curriculum at Mazharal Uloom is pluralistic and great but several students leave due to lack of facilities,” he says, adding since the seminary – though called Deoband Sani – is not registered with Deoband Broad Wafaq ul Madaris Al-Arabia, Pakistan, it also pushes the students to switch to other seminaries.

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Madrasa Arabia Mazharul Uloom (photo by Akber Baloch)

 

 

 

Lyari’s female boxers: Punching their way out of fear and taboos

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KARACHI: Sardar Uzair Jan Baloch, a gang leader in Karachi’s infamous Lyari Town, and his comrade Noor Muhammad are playing football with the severed head of rival gang leader Arshad Pappu.
Pappu is taken from a posh neighborhood while partying with friends. He is tortured, tied to a car and dragged through Lyari’s narrow streets.
His corpse is thrown on a donkey cart and paraded around before it is burnt and flung into a gutter.
Just 1 km away from where this savagery is perpetrated, Nawab Ali Baloch, a former international boxer, is training nearly a dozen of his female family members.
“There was no concept of women boxing in Pakistan before 2013, when I started training female members of my family,” he told Arab News.
He joined the Pak National Boxing Club in 1952, but left after 20 years to pursue other employment prospects.
Yet he never stopped training boxers, and when no one was around to attend his camp due to fierce gang warfare in the town, he started training his female relatives.
When the number of his students grew, he took them to the Young Boxing Club, where he now trains 48 females aged between 7 and 30.
His club secured eight gold and silver medals in the first boxing championship for women on Nov. 5.
“These girls have never given up. Even when the gangs were fighting, they always attended the classes on time,” he said, adding that there are four boxing clubs in Lyari.
In April 2015, a local female member of Sindh’s provincial assembly, Sania Baloch, suggested that there should be a proper focus on women’s boxing.
Asghar Baloch, general secretary of the Pakistan Boxing Association (PBA), told Arab News: “In May 2015, we announced the Women Boxing Camp in collaboration with the provincial sports department. The response was overwhelming.”
Maria Baloch, 12, has only been participating in the sport for two and a half years, but has already won seven gold medals.
“I used to watch Mohammed Ali on YouTube,” she said. “He inspired me to become a boxer.”
Recalling the challenges she faced, she added: “Although my family supported me from day one, many of my relatives talked about my passion negatively. They thought it wasn’t right for a girl.”
She said her father also opposed the idea since he thought she might get hurt. “I was taught to give equal importance to education, and I try to focus on both,” she added.
Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, daughter of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and the UN ambassador for polio eradication, recently visited the Young Lyari Boxing Club.
“I can’t tell you how happy she was to meet with these girls,” Naz Baloch, leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, told Arab News. “Her presence also increased the motivation of the boxers.” Zardari said she was going to provide the girls with equipment and other resources.
Maria said it was an unforgettable moment for the girls, adding: “We had attracted an important political figure to our town.”
Rauf Baloch, former president of the Karachi Boxing Association, said terrorism had caused a lot of damage to the town.
“It ended our education and destroyed our social values,” he said. “Our sports activities also came to a standstill. Fortunately, peace has now been restored to this place and good things are happening to its people.”
He added: “In the good old days, this town was known for football, boxing and other sports. It produced international players, and our clubs provided sports and ethical training to our children.
“In boxing, you get punched and you hit others. It’s not an easy game, but the way our girls are playing is simply awesome. I’m confident we’re gradually reclaiming our old Lyari.”

Defying the Taliban with love

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Naimat Khan  TFT Issue: 06 Jan 2017

 

A few hundred metres from where the Taliban maintained their courts, communal harmony prevails. Naimat Khan reports from Manghopir.

 

By the end of 2013, Manghopir was the incontrovertible Ground Zero of the Taliban in Karachi. Its major neighbourhood, Sultanabad, built on qabza land (i.e. under the occupation of the land mafia), was home to both the leadership and the rank-and-file of the Wali-ur-Rehman Mehsud faction of the Taliban. In the foot of the mountainous ridge forming the border between Sultanabad and Ittehad town, the Taliban had a multipurpose office, built along the lines of their office in Miramshah bazaar in North Waziristan Agency. There, the ‘Ameer sahib’ would summon people to the Taliban’s ‘Shariah’ court. Southward in Sultanabad is the ANP Chowk, and also known as Madina Bakery. In the Taliban era, the Chowk was a symbol of terror in the vicinity. Bodies of around 87 people, including 17 policemen and 10 local Awami National Party (ANP) leaders and activists, were recovered from there. As the Taliban’s hold grew, locals say, the Manghopir Police Station, by the Manghopir River, was also closed down. From Sultanabad and nearby areas, violence and crime in the city was directed: ranging from bank heists to bomb blasts; and from targeted killings to attacks on political workers and minority sects.

But all was not bleak in this Taliban-infested part of Karachi. Less than a mile away from the center of violence, a tightly knit community with a sizeable proportion of four different religious and sectarian affiliations lived in a small colony, resilient in the face of waves of violence and political turbulence in the area. The colony is situated in the city government leprosy hospital and extended to Yaqoob Shah Basti. In the center of the colony are four places of worship of different religious affiliations: a mosque, a temple, a church, and an imambargah, all of which face each other.

Unlike the rest of the city where ethnic and religious identities reign supreme, the residents of this colony play down their differences. Many do not like to being identified by their religion, sect, ethnicity or language. Others speak of their respect for the others’ faith and ethnicity as their strength. That respect, they say, has helped them survive the turbulence common to Manghopir and Karachi.

Residents believe respect for others’ faith and ethnicity has helped them survive the turbulence common to Manghopir and Karachi

“I was admitted to the Leprosy hospital in late 60s. At that time almost all doctors were British. They treated us with immense compassion and would advise us to live in peace and love. I think their frequent emphasis on peaceful coexistence resonated with the community,” said 85-year-old Sohna Faqir hailing from Lasbela, Balochistan. Faqir recovered to full health at the hospital and yet did not leave the area. He was drawn to the care and camaraderie in the community and decided to settle here.

In the 1890s, a group of British doctors, visiting the area, came across patients of leprosy at the Mangophir Mazar bathing in the hot sulphur springs – also called ‘Mangi’ or Garm-aab. Back then it was famous that the springs had healing powers. When the visiting doctors saw the patients in pain, they were moved to do something. “They [the British] went back, collected funds and came back to setup the hospital in 1896,” according to Faqir.

“The Mandir existed before the hospital was established in 1896 but later during the British rule a Masjid and a church was setup for the patients, their attendees and other dwellers of the town,” said the 85 year old. As the population increased, Faqir said, an Imambargah – called the Imambargah Ali Raza – was built.

“Until 1986, the Sunni and Shia Muslims would offer prayers at the KMC Jamia Masjid. Later Imambargah Ali Raza was established,” said Noor Islam, a local journalist and resident of the same neighborhood, and added, “Despite separate places for offering their prayers, there has never been sectarian discord in the colony.”

For many years, Manghopir, a town founded by the 13th century saint Pir Haji Syed Sakhi Sultan, was home to Muhajirs, Sindhis, Punjabis, Kashmiris, Seraikis, Pakhtuns, Balochis, Memons, Bohras, and Ismailis. In 2008, thousands of displaced civilians from Waziristan started moving into the area. Following the Operation Rah-e-Nijat in South Waziristan, the demography of the area changed rapidly.

“After the operation, the Taliban militants came here in droves, started taking shelter in the neighbourhood, and by 2012-13 they achieved a complete hold over the locality, making it no-go area for political workers and law enforcement agencies,” said Islam.

“We have been living here for so many decades together. We are one people practicing different faiths, which made us strong when Taliban would freely roam around on the main road,” said Babu Lal, caretaker of the of the centuries’ old Mardeshwar Mahadev Mandir, the oldest of the four worship places in the locality. Facing the hospital, a few steps to the east, is the Imambargah and few steps to the west are the Church and the mosque.

According to Lal, the community regularly observes ritual of shab-e-barat, Diwali, and Holi, in which Muslims and Christians also participate. “From 2012 to 2014, we – as a precaution – would celebrate the events inside our houses. After the Karachi operation in 2015, we resumed our celebrations out in the open.” Even when we moved indoors, our Muslim brothers continued to be a part of our celebrations, Lal added. “Our Muslim friends make it a point to wish us on Christmas and Easter,” said William Gill, 45-year-old councilor of the Pakistan Peoples Party, and added, “Muslims join us at the Baptist Church in our prayers on Christmas.”

Asfandyar Mir, doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago, researching politically motivated violence and the dynamics of Taliban control in Karachi, recently visited the community. Commenting on the uniqueness of the ethnic and religious tolerance in the area, he added: “from a social science perspective, the fact that such islands of harmony exist amidst extreme turmoil is always remarkable. Most analyses on Karachi’s communal relationships start with the observation that in times of violence identities are hardened, and even apolitical religious and ethnic groups are compelled to seek security with their co-ethnics or religious groups. But this diverse community contradicts that trend, having withstood pressures in a very challenging part of the city.”

“Thanks God she hasn’t gone to any Arab country”

03.jpg“Thanks God she hasn’t gone to any Arab country”, commented a Facebook friend when I posted a story about Afghan refugee-turn Canadian minister – Mariam Monsef – on my timeline.

The comment reminded me of Muhammad Naqeeb, a Palestinian American, whose eatery, the Milano Pizza & Greek Deli in Manteca, California, was my favorite place to dine in.

Before narrating Naqeeb’s story, it would be equally interesting to know about the woman whose success story made me recalled the tall bearded Pizza boy, Muhammad Naqeeb.

According to news reports, Maryam Monsef, the new Canadian MP, was elevated by the newly sworn-in Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to his 31-member cabinet on 4th of November.

But who is Ms. Monsef?

She was born in the war-torn Afghanistan and raised in the western city of Herat, near the Iranian border. “I lost my father when I was a toddler and both my sisters were under the age of two. My mother was in her 20s. No one knows for certain what happened to my father”, Monsef told The Huffington Post, adding the most they knew was he was caught in crossfire between the border of Iran and Afghanistan.

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According to reports years before she was born her uncle had been abducted from his dorm room at Kabul University. “A third-year pharmaceutical student, he was politically vocal and had been heard making anti-communist remarks on a bus”, she told the newspaper.

Monsef, whose childhood was spent moving between Afghanistan and Iran, said that even after the Soviet invasion ended the family was still in nightmare due to the Afghan Mujahedeen, forcing her mother to go to Iran. In Iran her family wasn’t welcome either and Monsef and her two sisters would be teased by local kids. “As illegal refugees we were also living under the constant threat of deportation” she said.

“In 1996, my mother chose to leave her support system and her culture behind to come to Canada”, Monsef told the newspaper, informing the family claimed refugee status when they arrived in Canada, ending up in Peterborough, where Monsef’s uncle lived. She was 11 then. Today, she is one of the 33 ministers of the Canada.

Though hasn’t become an American congressmen, Naqeeb has certainly got in the US what he couldn’t achieve in the country of his birth – not even nationality.

Naqeeb, who was born in Saudi Arabia on September 18, 1983 and lived there for over fourteen years before his family opted to move to United States in 1998 for better fortune.  Before tying the knot, his father and mother – though Palestinians – were living in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, respectively.

However, the fourteen years stay, his birth and Arab descent couldn’t earn Naqeeb Saudi nationality especially when he was displaced of his homeland due to the sprawling illegal Israeli settlements.

“Almost within four years we moved to the US, we got the American nationality” Naqeeb told me as his mother Mona Muhammad was cooking delicious meal for the clients. The restaurant is being run by Muhammad Nizar, his son Naqeeb and wife Mona. Two elder siblings of Muhammad Nizar, namely Hasan and Rania are married.

Though Mrs. Moona is still emotionally attached with the holly lands of Saudi Arabia, her kids are happy having moved to America, which has provided them better life as compared to that which they had lived in Saudi Arabia.

“We may encounter with both positive and negative attitudes in every society and so in the US but generally it’s more welcoming than others” Naqeeb said. “We didn’t have to struggle too much here”.

“But you must be legal to have the good of the American society” the Palestinian American youth opines. For a short while after the 9/11 we had to face harassment but that period lasted shortly when the local realized that the deeds of a certain people can’t be attributed to the entire Muslim community”, “We have to follow the rules of society we are living in. You just can’t force the society to follow you, the things which is often done by the immigrants, earning them negative reaction”, optimistic Naqeeb says.

After doing job in a corporate company as project manager Naqeeb setup his own restaurant and since then his business is flourishing day by day. “It happens when you work hard in a highly receptive society, no matter if you’re born there or having come as immigrant”, Naqeeb said.

The U.S. presidential candidate Donald trump should know that it’s not only Naqeeb and Monsef who have good feelings for the American continent but there are hundreds of thousands like his own grandfather Frederick Trump, who after coming to the US and Canada from different parts of the globe, mingled in the society and are contributing to their new countries.

 The writer is a freelance journalist and ICFJ fellow 2015.

Email: undisclosedtruth@gmail.com

Twitter: @NKMalazai

Rangers’ luncheon for police offers ‘trust building’ in menu 

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KARACHI: Saturday was a good day for the dwellers of seaside metropolis when chiefs of two law enforcement agencies – The Rangers and Police – met at luncheon along with their officials.

The Rangers’ luncheon for police – concluded with permit for police to investigate suspects in Rangers’ custody – would be an ordinary event had the past relationship of both law enforcement agencies not publically known.

From Rangers raid of Mominabad police station and both offices Counter Terrorism Departments in garden and civil lines to their complaints against each others in apex committee meetings and the open expression of mistrust in courts, the Rangers, police relationship could never be termed good.

However, both police officials and independent analysts now believe that granting of permission to police to interrogate suspects in rangers’ custody will produce good results as police have good experience in translating proofs into better prosecution.

“That’s step towards very close coordination,” Feroz Shah, Deputy Inspector General of Police, West Zone, who was one of the invitees, said in his short comment.

However, Kashif Farooqi, a Karachi based crime reporter and analyst, says that SOPs of such investigations, which are still to be decided, will show the productivity of such facility for police.

Farooqi informs that Police are already part of the JITs, formed for almost all suspects who have been given into the 90-days preventative detention of Rangers.

“The luncheon and then accepting police’s request are itself good gestures from the Rangers head, which will certainly evade the mistrust we have witnessed in the last few years”, Farooqi opines.

The luncheon from Director General of Sindh Rangers, Major General Bilal Akber, was attended by Karachi Police Chief, Additional IG Mushtaq Mehar, Deputy Inspector General’s of Karachi police and other senior officials of both law enforcement agencies.

Addressing the officers here at Rangers’ headquarters, DG Rangers said that the sacrifices of police force in operation against terrorists can never be forgotten.

During the meeting Karachi police Chief, Mushtaq Meher, requested Rangers’ DG to give police the permission to interrogate the suspects who are given into the 90-days detention of Rangers by courts. DG Rangers accepted the request by granting permission.

According to reports, chiefs of both law enforcement agencies also agreed on speeding up operation against the criminals. They also agreed to monitors the activities of raw agents more rigorously.

It is pertinent to recall that Amir Khan, an MQM leader arrested in the Nine Zero raid last year, was granted bail because of what a judge called “weak prosecution”. The Rangers had detained him for 90 days, but could find solid evidence against him.

According to reports submitted in the Apex Committee meeting, 80 percent of those challaned in the court by the Rangers had either been freed by the courts or were out on bails.

According to security analysts, the 90-day detentions of suspects by Rangers do not always translate to strong interrogation, investigation or prosecution. “The new development will certainly overcome the lacunas of both the forces,” they believe.

While Rangers are important in dealing with all sort of criminals free of political and other pressures, the police’s expertise of prosecution in combine with Rangers’ efforts will produced good results.

Published in The Frontier Post

The flower of cricket blooms in war-torn Afghanistan

 Samiullah Shenwari, Mohammad Shahzad

Youths turn away from suicide bombing as Afghan cricket advances unparalleled

 

Naimat Khan

JALALABAD: The game of cricket had captivated the attention of the Afghan nation much before the world witnessed it national side’s heroics at the 2016 World T20 tournament.

The associate Afghanistan, the side which beat the World Champions West Indies in the T20 event, received a hero’s reception at the Alokozay Kabul International Cricket Stadium upon arrival. They were honored by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani with civil awards.

“You do not only give honor to the Afghan nation, but hope,” the president said, while decorating the heroes with Ghazi Mir Masjidi Khan Excellence Award in a reception held at the presidential palace.

Though Afghanistan only managed to win against Windies, they won the nation’s hearts.

On a chilly winter evening much before the World T20 began, hundreds of youths gathered in Pashunistan Chowk, Jalalabad on December 29, 2015 to watch the second One Day International between Afghanistan and Zimbabwe on big screen.

Jalalabad, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, is considered as one of the most dangerous provinces of Afghanistan, where six districts are under influence of the militant Islamic States (IS) group.

The same province is now emerging as the hotbed for cricket in Afghanistan.

Karim Sadiq is one of the pioneers of cricket in the provincial capital, and was also the part of the squad featured in World T20.

When this scribe contacted Sadiq in late January this year, he seemed confident of his teammates.

“The historic win against Zimbabwe has boosted our morale and we are confident we will compete the full members of ICC,” he told this scribe before leaving for India to participate in the 2016 Asia Cup.

Although it couldn’t record any win in the Asia Cup, the young Afghan team left no stone unturned in World T20 – won all three matches of the qualifying round and beat the Windies – the champions.

“In recent years, Afghanistan have defeated some powerful teams,” said team captain Asghar Stanikzai in post-match presentation, adding, the team will witness more wins in the years to come.

From nothing to heroic

Ibrahim Momand, a Kabul-based sports expert recalls how in the 90s Pashto language daily Wehdat had stories on the Afghan cricket team visiting different districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan.

However, the soccer enthusiast Afghans didn’t even know a national cricket team existed till they won six of seven matches they played with different counties of the United Kingdom.

Afghans became attracted to the game when the national side beat Ireland in the qualifying rounds for the 2009 World T20 tournament.

However, the success wasn’t at all possible without support of the Afghan government, and the cricket board.

Sadiq says government ministers facilitate the Afghanistan Cricket Board.

“The board has funds and provides facilities to the players, attracting new talent,” he says. “Former president Hamid Karzai separated cricket from other games and established the board. Dr Ghani has also supported the team.”

Sadiq adds, “We have two grounds, each in Kabul and Jalalabad. A stadium will also be constructed in Khost. It may take long to host international sides but the grounds will improve domestic cricket.”

Learning from legends

Afghanistan is also thankful to Pakistan for its role in uplifting the game for them.

“We are thankful to Peshawar Cricket Association, which would allow two Afghans each in their club teams,” says Sadiq.

Sadiq says the training given by former Pakistani players such as Kabir Khan and Rashid Latif greatly impacted their game.

“Inzimamul Haq’s coaching helped us defeat Zimbabwe, Sadiq says. “We are appreciative of our Pakistani coach, who has worked hard on improving our batting technique.”

Once soccer, cricket has now become Afghanistan’s popular sport; attracting young, elderly and the women alike.  “Victory in a war-torn country brings happiness and pride,” a cricket enthusiast Sayed Kamal Sadat said.

Peace for cricket and cricket for peace

JalalabadCricket Fans from different districts of Nangarhar Province gathers to watch second ODI between Zimbabwe and Afghanistan on Big screen in Pakhtunistan Chowk of provicial capital Jalalabad: Photo Credit/Bashir Ahmed Gwakh

 Experts say Afghans do not spare revenge, and cricket is an alternative, positive exploit for the Afghan nation.

“A caller once told me he was ready to become a suicide bomber but it was cricket, which changed his mind.”

Cricket spoils brainwashing efforts of the militants, he says.

“A caller once told me he was ready to become a suicide bomber but it was cricket, which changed his mind.”

“If cricket is vital for peace, peace is also vital for cricket in Afghanistan,” says Sadiq. “A better security situation will help us host different teams in Afghanistan, where local crowd would support us”.

Ground ahead

Inzamam, Afghanistan’s batting coach, in a post-match briefing praised his team’s self-belief, and reiterated the call for more opportunities to play against the Full Members.

“All our previous matches have been neck-to-neck,” he said. “There haven’t been one-sided matches, it’s not like a team makes 200 against us and we are all out for 100 or 150. The team has been fighting, and the belief is always there”.

Afghan skipper Asghar Stanikzai adds,”In the next one or two years we will be a serious team and beat these Full Members. We have potential.”

After overpowering the Associates, it seems Afghans will soon achieve the target of joining the Full Members club of the ICC.

Published in The Frontier Post

Pashtun Man-date

Like in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, many Pashtun women of Karachi do not vote
Like in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, many Pashtun women of Karachi do not vote

Gul Meena, a 63-year-old Pashtun woman from the hilly Dir Colony in the North Nazimabad area of Karachi, has not been to a polling station her entire life. She was surprised to hear on TV that some women from her hometown in Lower Dir went to Peshawar High Court when they were not allowed to vote in a recent by-election.

On May 18, women from the PK-95 constituency of the provincial assembly went to the PHC against the May 7 by-election in Lower Dir in which the contesting candidates had made a verbal agreement that women would not be allowed to go to the polling stations. A Jamaat-e-Islami candidate won the polls.

On June 2, the Election Commission of Pakistan canceled the result. “The by-election of Constituency No PK-95 Lower Dir-II is hereby declared void for the reasons of disenfranchisement of female voters,” said a notice released on Tuesday.

But in Karachi, Gul Meena and many other Pashtun women continue to be denied their right to vote. As many as 47,282 women had voted in the general elections in the same Lower Dir constituency in 2013. That amounts to about 37 percent of the total votes – almost the same ratio as that in PS-93, a Pashtun-dominated constituency in Karachi’s west district, if not better (an election tribunal found 6,000 bogus votes polled at only six of the 88 polling stations in the ultra-conservative Banaras locality). The percentage of women voters in Pashtun-dominated areas of Karachi (such as PS-89 Keamari, PS-94 Baldia, and PS-128 Landhi industrial area) is very low compared with other constituencies in the city.

10 percent of Pashtun women in Karachi do not even have a CNIC

Back in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, neither the religious Jamaat-e-Islami nor the liberal Awami National Party made an effort to resist the disenfranchisement of women. JI emir Sirajul Haq blamed the practice on culture.

The same ‘cultural legacy’ is the reason behind low percentage of women voters in Pashtun areas of Karachi, analysts say.

“It happens in localities and communities inhabited by people who belong to the areas where they do not let women vote. It is reflective of those cultures and traditions. In other areas, women turn out in full force,” says Afia Salam, a Karachi-based journalist who covers gender issues.

Hamidullah Khattak, the information secretary of ANP in Sindh, blames lack of education, especially among women, that keeps them unaware of their of their rights. Karachi’s Pashtuns will hardly see any progress without active participation of women in electoral politics, he says.

Most Pashtuns in Karachi are poor laborers, says Nazir Jan, a central leader of Pakhtunkhwa Mili Awami Party (PMAP). “They need proper guidance, but the religious and nationalist parties who claim to represent them have never bothered to address this issue.”

Abdul Razaq – the head of Jamaat-e-Islami’s Pashtun Jirga and its emir in west district – believes Pashtun women would be encouraged to exercise their right to vote if they were given an electoral environment that was in accordance with their culture. “In the last general elections, we asked the Election Commission to convert more than five percent of the combined polling stations to women-only polling stations, for a better female turnout,” he said. “But our request was ignored.”

But low female turnout is not the issue, according to Nazir Jan. “The number of women registered as voters is equally low.” According to Abdul Razaq, a two-time Union Council Nazim from the Pashtun-dominated SITE area, more than 10 percent of women don’t even have Computerized National Identity Cards because of reasons deep rooted in their culture. “They cannot establish a family tree,” he said. “When a woman does not have an identity card, her daughter cannot have one either.”

In Dir and the rest of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, women often vote for the candidate their families vote for, and therefore their disenfranchisement with the mutual consensus of all contenders doesn’t turn into a political disadvantage for either, says Mudassar Rizvi, chief of the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN).

The case is exactly the opposite in Karachi, experts say. To bar women from voting or not encouraging them to come out on the polling day deprives the concerned community of sizable votes.

“In an urban setup like Karachi, where women’s participation or absence from the electoral process directly impacts the overall results for the ethnic community, women become very important,” says Dr Fouzia Khan, a Pashtun social right activist. “In Karachi, all political parties claiming to represent Pashtuns, should realize the power of women voters.”

Hamidullah Khattak says his party, the ANP, discusses the issue in the regular meetings of its Sindh Council, which also has a woman member – Kamila Arif Khan, the party’s central vice-president on Sindh quota. “But it takes time for people’s ways to change.”

The less popular PMAP is seems to have done more work in this regard. “For the next voter registration, we have planned to run a drive to convince Pashtuns to get their wives, daughters and sisters registered, so that their voice can be heard in Sindh’s provincial legislature,” said Nazir Jan. “Without bringing women into the mainstream, the Pashtuns of Karachi – on its way to becoming the largest ethnic community in the city in two decades – cannot progress.”

The story was published in 5th June issue of TFT