Category Archives: Islamisation

IS and the youth


By Zubeida Mustafa

A MAJOR issue being debated in Britain today concerns the Muslims — men and women. It is what is termed the radicalisation of their youth.

Concerns were sparked off by the Islamic State (formerly Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) when its militants beheaded James Foley, an American journalist covering the war in Syria, and circulated a video of the bestial act. Even before this incident grabbed the headlines, media reports had been suggesting that authorities in London believed that as many as 500 Muslim men with British nationality had left the UK to join the IS ‘jihad’. Continue reading

1 Comment | Posted in Children and Youth, Human Rights, Islamisation, Social Issues, Terrorism and Violence, View from Abroad, War and Peace |

The veil face-off


By Zubeida Mustafa

TO veil or not to veil, that is the question. And that continues to be asked in Europe where France, Belgium, Spain and Italy have imposed a ban on the niqab in public places. The niqab shrouds the entire face and leaves small slits for the eyes. The ban does not apply to the more ubiquitous hijab, a head scarf that leaves the face fully exposed. No country has so far restricted the hijab.

The latest to pronounce a verdict on this controversial item of the female apparel is the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg where a French woman SAS (identity not disclosed) of Pakistani origin filed a case against the French law forbidding the use of the full-face veil in public places. SAS claimed that the law violated her “freedom of religion and expression”. Continue reading

8 Comments | Posted in Human Rights, Islamisation, Justice, Minorities, New, Social Issues, Women |

Our own insecurity


By Zubeida Mustafa

THE 2014 global attitudes project of the Washington-based Pew Research Centre has been widely cited to show that a majority of people in Pakistan do not look upon the Taliban favourably. According to Pew’s finding, 59pc of those questioned felt negatively vis-à-vis the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Last year, when a similar survey was held this number was slightly lower, with 56pc expressing disapproval of the militants who have no qualms about blowing up people, including women and children, in brutal acts of terrorism. Yet 66pc said they were concerned about religious extremism. It seems many of the respondents did not regard the TTP to be extremists, which speaks volumes for public perceptions in Pakistan. Continue reading

3 Comments | Posted in Islamisation, Law & Order, New, Terrorism and Violence |

Forced to kill

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE State of Pakistan’s Children 2012 quotes from the UN Secretary General’s Report on Children in Armed Conflicts: “In 2011 there were 11 incidents of children being used in suicide bomb attacks by militant groups operating in the country (Pakistan). The attackers included 10 boys some as young as 13 years and a nine-year old girl.”

The use of children in armed conflicts to fight the heinous wars of unscrupulous men has emerged as quite a common phenomenon worldwide. Young children are trained to use the gun and they are desensitised to human suffering so that life has no value for them. That is why they kill with impunity. Moreover, children are themselves victims of the violence and militancy that now grip Pakistan.

This is something very disturbing. It means that the cycle of violence will be perpetuated ad infinitum. Children who grow up in a violent environment become violent adults who accept death and destruction as something normal. Thus the cycle goes on from one generation to the next. This is not an ideal scenario for any society. Continue reading

2 Comments | Posted in Children and Youth, Education, Islamisation, Social Issues, Terrorism and Violence |

Telling it as it is

What’s Wrong with Pakistan? (Photo:

By Zubeida Mustafa
AS Pakistan’s problems multiply, publications on Pakistan receive a corresponding boost. Never before have so many books on the country hit the shelf. Hence an author has to come up with something really new to justify writing about the country. Not many can do it and that is why many books appear to be a rehashed version of the same old story.

Seen from that perspective, journalist Babar Ayaz’s book, What’s Wrong with Pakistan?, might at first glance appear to be a narrative of Pakistan’s history that one would take up with a yawn. But once you start reading it, you find a freshness of approach to the issues that have nagged historians for many years. More so, Ayaz’s focused style makes this book a compelling read. Continue reading

Leave a comment | Posted in Book Reviews, History, Islamisation, Politics |

Licence to kill?

By Zubeida Mustafa

ANNIVERSARIES are a time for reflection. And if they are also marked with celebration, the idea is to reaffirm the spirit of the event that is being commemorated. That is what Pakistan’s independence day anniversary means to most of us.

There would be barely two million people left in Pakistan who would have any memory of the partition of India. Those who were old enough in 1947 to comprehend what was happening would be even fewer. Soon those who were witness to this momentous event will be gone and partition will live only in history books. Given our distorted historiography our progeny may never learn the truth.

I was too young to understand the wider implications of the political events of 1947. But I could feel the excitement of living in a new country in a state of fear generated by the bloodletting. There was, however, no sense of the ‘other’ who had to be hated and destroyed. The massacre that accompanied the events of 1947 had more of a political dimension than a religious one. Continue reading

12 Comments | Posted in Books, History, Islamisation, Politics |

Should we be complacent?

Photo Courtesy:

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE report prepared by Zeenat Hisam and Yasmin Qureshi on Religious minorities in Pakistan for the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) and launched last Tuesday at the South Asian conference on the subject does not really come as a revelation.

Pakistan has earned notoriety for its ill-treatment of non-Muslim communities — who are the so-called religious minorities in the country. The report is, however, timely, as also the conference was, on two counts. Continue reading

7 Comments | Posted in History, Human Rights, Islamisation |

The battle of ideas

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE seminar organised recently by the Forum for Secular Pakistan on ‘Democracy and Secularism’ drove home two basic truths.

First, there can be no democracy without secularism. Secondly, democracy needs a national democratic movement to survive and develop further. The keynote speaker I.A. Rehman, secretary-general of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, elaborated this very succinctly.

On the occasion all the speakers did an excellent job of highlighting the dangers faced by the advocates of secularism in a Pakistan that is under threat of Talibanisation.
For the audience, mostly likeminded liberals who had turned up in sufficient strength — by the standards set by such intellectual exercises — this did not provide new food for thought. The slogans for secularism have been raised again and again for a long time now. Read Sibte Hasan’s book The Battle of Ideas in Pakistan that appeared in 1986 and you know secularism is not a new demand.

Yet, I would say it is not bad strategy to revisit such ideals since this serves to strengthen the conviction of those who stand for them and refresh the memories of others who may have forgotten their history. Continue reading

6 Comments | Posted in Constitution, Human Rights, Islamisation, Politics, Social Issues |

One who opted for change

Abdul Jabbar (left)  receives a plaque from Dawn's editor Zaffar Abbas at the farewell party held for him.

By Zubeida Mustafa

“Human beings make their own history. They do not do it in circumstances of their own choosing. Their actions are framed by the economic, social and political structures of their age. But, subject to these constraints — indeed, because of them — human beings face a succession of choices.”Neil Faulkner

HOWEVER everyone doesn’t look for the choices that one can create for oneself. Fewer still actually exercise these choices. Most just sit back and let the state or society make decisions on their behalf. They are mostly the victims of fatalism — kismet or naseeb as they choose to call it — but the fact is that they have opted for the line of least resistance.

Those who consciously decide to bring about change in their lives become the exceptions. They may not make history by spearheading social change on a grand scale. But these individuals initiate the process of change in the lives of their own family that affect generations to come. These quiet actors do not seize the limelight but their courage must be respected. Continue reading

4 Comments | Posted in Development and Poverty, Education, Islamisation, Social Issues |

An unfinished agenda

By Zubeida Mustafa

IT is gratifying that the government of Pakistan has conferred a civilian award posthumously on Iqbal Haider, a former law minister and senator but remembered now as one of the country’s foremost human rights and peace activists.

The award came befittingly on Dec 10, Human Rights Day. This was shortly after a reference was organised by the Joint Action Committee and a number of civil society organisations at the Karachi Press Club last Wednesday.

When the reference was held, it was over three weeks since Iqbal Haider had departed from our midst. But a sense of loss continued to haunt the occasion which brought together a large crowd of his friends and admirers who recalled his services to the numerous good causes he passionately supported. Continue reading

7 Comments | Posted in Human Rights, Islamisation, War and Peace, Women |