Archive for the ‘ Government ’ Category

Woman in Black #2

Woman in Black #2

YouTube ban unlikely to be lifted in Pakistan:
http://tribune.com.pk/story/506765/government-decides-to-continue-youtube-ban/

Hajj: Is it the State’s Business?

In a country where Hindus are not allowed to register their marriages, and all non-Muslims live under constant threat of the blasphemy law, government-sponsored hajj is not an issue that takes priority. But it is certainly an issue worth looking into.

The Ministry of Religious Affairs Pakistan conducts a lucky-draw every year, from which thousands of Muslim citizens are selected. These lucky winners are sent on a state-sponsored pilgrimage, or hajj, to Saudi Arabia…

..which I personally find is a ridiculous waste of money for a country cursed with ever-present economic instability.

Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, and is obligatory for all Muslims who can afford it. Even from an Islamic perspective, there’s no real necessity to sponsor such expensive trips, because hajj is not even an obligation for the poor! Those who can afford the trip can pay their own way. After all, doesn’t spending your own hard, earned money on hajj make the endeavour far more noble?

You wouldn’t dream of sending a Pakistani Christian to the Vatican city for papal blessings on the government’s expense. Can you imagine a Pakistani Sikh applying for government sponsorship to visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar, or a Hindu asking the government for money to attend the Khumb Mela? Is it too much for the Pakistani non-Muslims to demand the same privileges that are readily offered to the Muslims?

Not to mention that this extravaganza is being funded by Muslim and non-Muslim tax-payer alike. A part of the money that I, as an Atheist, pay to the government is being spent on an Islamic event that I do not believe in, and does not benefit me in any way. In fact, it does not really benefit anyone.

I don’t need to be taxed for your religious affairs. I’m already paying enough by being discriminated against every single day by the society and the government, and I dare say, it’s sufficient.

Meritocracy for Pakistan

One cannot implement democracy in a nation consisting largely of illiterate cretins and expect everything to be hunky-dory.

Am I being too crude? I’ll allow you to be the judge of that in light of the following statistics about Pakistani people:

-78% favor death for those who leave Islam

-80% favor whippings and cutting off hands for crimes like theft and robbery

-83% favor stoning adulterers.

(2009 study by Pew Research Center)

Behold, the state of the Pakistani people in the hands of whom rests the decision to elect our country’s leaders. In a country where 50.1% of the people do not know how to write their own names down on paper, excuse me for being wary of their decision-making capabilities. Continue reading

Freedom of Speech: "Leave Brittany Alone" Conundrum

This is a short play intended to explain the concept of free speech, and how it’s irrational to ban people from saying certain things because they “deeply offend” a specific group of people.

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(An angry Muslim appears in front a judge)

Muslim: Your honor, I’ve had enough. I’m tired of these blasphemous fools making a mockery of my faith all the time! I’d like you to help pass a new law that forbids people from using derogatory remarks against religious personalities.

Judge: Why should I do that?

Muslim: Because the things these people say are extremely offensive to me and my people! We love our Prophet (PBUH) more than we love our parents…our brothers and sisters…our own lives! Freedom of speech does not mean that people go around uttering obscenities against a figure held sacred by over 1.6 billion Muslims around the world! We don’t deserve this kind of harassment! I implore you to help protect our sentiments.

Judge: Hmm..you make an excellent case. I’ll see what I can do.

(A few months later, an anti-blasphemy law is passed, making blasphemy against Allah or His Prophet punishable by death. A Hindu comes to the judge)

Hindu: Sir, this is an outrage! You have immunized the Muslims, but what about us? Who shall protect the non-Muslims from blasphemy against their respective faiths? How come Muslims keep sending sms jokes about our beloved gods like Kali Maa and Hanuman, but the moment one of us shows even the slightest bit of disrespect for Muhammad, we get dragged off to court or have a fatwa issued against us by the dominant Islamic clerics?”

Judge: Fair enough! I’ll make sure that the anti-blasphemy law is extended to cover all religions.

Hindu: Including Scientology?

Judge: What?!

Hindu: Your honor, that has got the most frequently abused religion in the world!

Judge: Okay! Okay! Henceforth, nobody’s allowed to make fun of the Galactic Confederacy, as well as any other religion.

(Law is successfully amended to immunize all religions. Chris Crocker now barges into the judge’s office, sobbing uncontrollably)

Chris: LEAVE BRITTANY ALONE!!

Judge: What is the meaning of this? Ma’am, I’m going to hold you in contempt of court, if you don’t lower your voice right now!

Chris: How f***ing dare anyone of you make fun of Brittany Spears!  She lost her aunt! She went through a divorce! She..

Judge: I’m sorry to hear that, but do you want from me?

Chris: (wipes his tears with his sleeve) It offends me deeply when these bastards make fun of Brittany! I love Brittany! She’s my idol. There’s nobody in the world I respect more than her! And to think of all these f****d up things people say about her…it just…(burst into tears again).

Judge: Okay, so?

Chris: I want you to ban people from making fun of Brittany! I mean it!

Judge: (gasps) Nonsense! Why would I do that?

Chris: Because it hurts my sentiments! And the sentiments of all hardcore Brittany fans out there! I want you to put a stop to this harassment! You did the same for the religious whiners! Why not for us?

Judge: Hurting religious sentiments is not the same as hurting sentiments of a pop artist’s fans!

Chris: How the hell do you know that?! How do you know who is offended more by what? Did you climb inside their heads and see how much they’ve been “hurt” on the inside? As far as you can tell, I’ve been hurt by insult to Britanny more than the Muslims have been hurt by insult to their Prophet!

Judge: Well, yes…but, see…look there are billions of religious people out there! And the pain caused by derogatory remarks against religious personalities is shared by ALL these people! So that’s a much bigger issue than yours.

Chris: Wait, let me get this straight. You’re saying that because there are more religious people in the world than non-religious ones, so the majority’s gonna have its sentiments protected by the government while the minorities can go f**k themselves? Just because we die-hard Britanny fans are a smaller group than the religious people, means that we will not be protected from having our feelings hurt, but they will? You call that justice?!

Judge: No, that’s not what I…it’s just that…what you’re demanding is just so damn ridiculous!

Chris: It may seem ridiculous to you, but it isn’t to me! Dude, you have no idea how much it hurts me when people make fun of poor, poor Brittany. Listen to me! Either you grant us all, religious AND non-religious, immunity against having our feelings hurt, by whatever cause that may be..

Judge: That’s not possible! That would mean the end of free-speech! Nobody will be able to criticize anything or anybody! Because everybody is offended deeply by something in the world! Anybody can claim that he or she is having his or her sentiments hurt by something and try to get that thing banned. (exhales) You know what, I’m having this law revoked.

Chris: What? No, don’t that! Let the blasphemy law stay, but extend it to include Brittany! I love her so much! Please respect my feelings! Why would you allow something that causes me so much mental pain?

Judge: Because through this whole “protecting of sentiments” crap, we’ll just end up immunizing the majority which has the greater volume, and leave the non-religious minorities with the lesser volume completely open to insult and ridicule. When it comes to free speech, either all of it is okay, or none of it is. Because when we pick out one group and pass a law to protect it from having its feelings hurt, then we would have to do the same for everybody else to maintain justice. And that would simply be impossible!

(Blasphemy law gets repealed. New law introduced. Section 295-X: Citizens shall be encouraged to grow thicker skin and get real)

Farewell, Salman Taseer

This is an unorthodox eulogy to Salman Taseer, and Jinnah’s dream of a secular nation that shall be buried along with him.

I’ll refrain from commenting on the governor’s history. Whether he had made too many mistakes, or was simply misunderstood, shall be divulged at a later time when it wouldn’t come off as overly callous. What’s heart-wrenching is that he was killed for something that he did right. He followed his conscience, which evidently in this country, leaves you with with 22 bullets lodged in your body.

When I heard the news, I was half-expecting Taseer’s death, however tragic, to leave the finest of silver linings: a wake-up call for ignorant, fanatical Muslims (a class that now constitutes an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis) – to help them see that this phony war against blasphemers has been taken too far.

Alas, that never happened. In fact, Taseer’s death revealed the true face of Pakistan, and it is a sepulchral one. We are no longer beset by extremists – we ARE extremists. In the last seven hours, I’ve seen hordes of human cockroaches (if I may borrow the term from one of Fasi Zaka’s popular articles, which has earned even more credence in the light of the recent tragedy) celebrating the death of our country’s top government official, claiming that he got what he deserved.

I won’t argue Islam here. But I will stand for a Pakistanis right to contest a constitution that governs him. That’s what Salman Taseer did. Muslims have deluded themselves into thinking that they have all rights reserved to the state constitution and that no one should be allowed to question it, let alone change it. Muslims believe that they have a divine license to shove their beliefs down other people’s throats, whether they like it or not.

So allow me to make use of a certain word that Muslims blame the West for crying out unjustly and way too often. I’m afraid this word fits perfectly here..

Islamofascism..

We’ve become a nation of coward Islamofascists, who’d much sooner shed a fellow human’s blood than to acknowledge that he has just as much right to speak out as we do – for he’s a man just as Pakistani as we are. Many readers may object to my choice of words in this case, for they would like to remain segregated from reality, trying to convince themselves that this was a one-bad-apple scenario. And that my use of the term “nation” is unfair generalization.

But I see what I see. What I and many fellow rationalists view as a horrific assassination, most of the Pakistani public views as a justifiable assault. I find myself being bombarded with jovial messages about how a “courageous slave of Muhammad has killed a blasphemer”. I see similar reactions on the internet. What’s worse is that these people are the educated class of our country – engineers, medical students, business students – and not some witless hicks living in far-off countrysides.

Taseer never committed blasphemy. He never even succeeded in revoking the blasphemy law. He merely proposed an amendment to it. What gives him the right to do so? Quite simply, his Pakistani nationality.

It is only those who are wrong and tainted, who fight so fiercely to keep people from conducting inquiries and asking questions. Those who have confidence in their purity, never shrink away from criticism. The ones who fear that open discussion may lead to unwanted divulgement of filthy secrets, are the ones who struggle to keep the freethinkers silent by threatening them with bogus charges of “blasphemy”.

Fight words with words. That is, of course, unless you’re certain that your words will not be able to hold their ground in the court of logic and be admonished by human conscience. In that case, grab a gun and do what the “religion of peace” expects you to do…

Pakistani Humanitarian – Asma Jahangir

This is an angry blog. Most of the posts I submit are spiteful, passionate rants against religion and how it’s at open war with humanity and all that is good. How it replaces real morals with its own pseudo-morals, and how it has become a tool for gaining swift popularity (if you don’t believe me , ask Talat Hussain, who understands the importance of this cheap tactic really well). Those who follow me regularly know only too well the searing hate and rancor that oozes out of the very pixels of one’s screen when my words appear on it.

But a couple of days ago, I found hope and sanguinity. Somewhere within the higher echelons of our justice system, I saw the tiniest sparkle of rationality. The sparkle came from our new President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Asma Jahangir. Continue reading

Cut Military Spendings Now!

With the recent increase in military budget by Pakistan to over $6b, we’re forced to wonder whether the government truly intends to feed its starving nation gunpowder and replace the faculties of its universities with batmen.

With the country assuming the disgraceful role of an international “faqeer”, it’s even more shameful that whatever little money we have in the State Treasury, is being diverted towards the military.

When villas and prime properties are being sold to high-ranking military personnel at the cost of peanuts, naturally the remainder of the cash has to come from somewhere. And heavens be damned should these armymen be forced to (gasps!) pay for it themselves.

It’s bad enough that the wealthiest people of the country pay no taxes at all, but healthcare and education have almost completely been orphaned by the government, which is clearly being influenced heavily by the military. Whoever said that the “martial law is over” needs to seriously reevaluate his/her stance.

Pakistan currently spends 23.1% of its total budget on military (US, at war with two countries, and also compensating Pakistan for much of the cost of its anti-terrorist operations, is spending only 19.3% of its total budget). Pakistan’s expenditure for education and healthcare remains stuck at 7.8% and 1.3% respectively (as opposed to 17.1% and 19.3% respectively for United States).

The reason they’d provide you for the gross over-expenditure is always the same. That Pakistan, despite already having the fifth largest army in the world, needs a budget boost for its military in order to combat the Islamic militants and effectively end their reign of terror. They conveniently miss out the vital piece of information that the United States is already paying us a billion dollars each year (since 2006) for our operations and rewards generously for capturing wanted militant leaders. In fact, Pervez Musharaff, in a mistake worthy of being transformed into a good blonde joke, admitted during his book tour that the military had been siphoning money out of the special compensatory funds being sent by the US to the families of the Pakistani soldiers who died in the war against terror.

Meanwhile, our education sector, currently sorely in need for 40 billion rupees, has been promised only 15 billion, out of which only 7 billion have so far been delivered.

It’s time for Kayani and his merry-men to stop suckling at Pakistan’s already inflamed teat, and consider allowing some of the funds to divert to sectors which are in desperate need of funding.