Archive for Eqbal Ahmed

The Town called Gojra

Posted in Pakistan with tags , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2009 by Umer

What occurred in Gojra is truly shocking. The whole happening and every episode of it, from beginning to end, has exposed the hypocrisy of our society. The brutality of the crime, the flimsy pretext, the negligence of the law-enforcers, the silence of the politicians for days, and the attempts made in the mainstream media to diminish the enormity of the attacks by calling it a fight amongst two groups – these are all stark signs of our deteriorating society.

The conclusion of the fact-finding mission of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has revealed that last week’s attacks targeting Christians in Gojra were not a spontaneous reaction to the allegation of blasphemy but were planned in advance. HRCP is correct in saying that Gojra questions the very foundation of our State and society: ‘The barbaric attacks are an embarrassment for any society or people who call themselves civilized.’

Our history as a country is replete with communal violence, which was perhaps embodied in our very creation. Leaving aside the severe discrimination that religious minorities face in Pakistan one daily basis, violent assaults on their communities are nothing new. There have been many occasions where Muslim mobs have opted to punish whole neighborhoods for an alleged act of blasphemy. One such occurrence took place in 1997 in the town called Shantinagar. Thirteen churches were ransacked and hundreds of homes belonging to Christians were destroyed by the arsonists because somebody somewhere had conducted blasphemy.

Attack on Christians in Shantinagar twelve years ago would have been another gruesome event erased from our collective memory had it not been for Eqbal Ahmed. The victims of Shantinager found expression in the pen of Eqbal Ahmed.

The story of Shantinagar, as told by Eqbal Ahmed, is as relevant today as it was in 1997. The questions that Eqbal Ahmed raises are yet to be answered. The parallels Shantinagar and Gojra show that things have not changed much since Shantinagar. Will they change in future? This is for you and me to decide.

A Town Called Shantinagar

Eqbal Ahmed
Dawn, 18 February 1997

Newspaper accounts of the terror which the fanatical mob of Muslims visited, on February 6, upon the hapless Christians of Shantinagar are quite uniform. Thirteen churches were ransacked and hundreds of homes destroyed by the arsonists. But statistics cannot convey the enormity of the crime, collectively committed by a section of the majority community, upon fellow citizens belonging to a religious minority.

Available evidence also suggests that some members of Khanewal district’s police force were involved in inciting and organising this atrocity while others were guilty of complicity as they were on-duty spectators. A few are reported to have even helped themselves to the loot. The nightmare ended only after the army arrived to enforce the law. It was the worst incident of sectarian violence in recent memory.

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Eqbal Ahmed on Talibanization and Imperialism

Posted in International Affairs, Pakistan with tags , , , , , on October 24, 2008 by Umer

From Ammar Querishi:

I have seen that a number of our friends/colleagues are not clear about our stance on both anti-US Imperialism and anti-Talibanization. As a result, we have been entering into lot of discussions on various aspects. In order to resolve this this discussion, I am sending the following four weblinks to different articles by the late Eqbal Ahmad on US Imperialism and Talibanization. These pieces were written more than 10 years back ( Eqbal passed away in 1999 in Islamabad). All are refreshingly poignant even ten years later although some of them are so chllingly prescient. The first article deals with the rule of Taliban, the second deals with the much-touted concept of strategic depth and its implications for Pakistan. The third traces the roots of violence in a historical context. The fourth piece ( which is an excerpt from his conversations with David Barsiman which later appeared as a booklet titled Terrorism: theirs and ours) is a scathing criticism of US imperialism. However, it also talks about Osama bin Laden’s relationship with US ( this was before 9/11 but after bombings of US embassy in Africa) and points to/predicts the future direction of relationship between these two entities. All these articles are laced with Eqbal’s trademark coruscating witticism.

1) In a land without music ( Dawn, July 1995)

2) What after strategic depth (Dawn October 1998)

3) Roots of violence in Pakistan and other parts of Muslim World

4) Terrorism theirs and ours