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An academic, a researcher and writer.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

The Hindu : Opinion / Lead : Curator of a hollowed conscience

The Hindu : Opinion / Lead : Curator of a hollowed conscience

On his hundredth birthday, Manto stands taller on the literary horizon than others who wrote about the mass migrations of 1947. Where he needs greater appreciation is in the role he played as a witness to history through his chilling narratives of partition. In a country where history as a discipline has suffered from calculated neglect in the interests of projecting statist ideology, Manto's partition stories are an excellent entry point for enquiring minds eager to understand the past that has made their present fraught with such uncertainty and danger. The ever-percipient Manto had anticipated the problems of treating religion as a weapon rather than a matter of personal faith and ethics, which have over the past three decades surfaced with a vengeance in Muslim Pakistan. His words of warning have a resonance that is louder than when he said: ‘Our split culture and divided civilization, what has survived of our arts; all that we received from the cut up parts of our own body, and which is buried in the ashes of Western politics, we need to retrieve, dust, clean and restore to freshness in order to recover all that we have lost in the storm.'  Ayesha Jalal
If there is a birthday present Pakistanis and Indians can jointly give Manto, it is to admit the reality of the problems he spelt out in his writings on partition. It may then become possible for them to take the requisite steps towards recovering what has been lost by the myopic refusal of their respective nation-states to understand each other's position, rectify past errors, and strike a mutually beneficial and sustainable historical compromise.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Curtailing ‘immodesty’: Ex-lawmaker ‘decrees’ against female education

Curtailing ‘immodesty’: Ex-lawmaker ‘decrees’ against female education

A former lawmaker and cleric from Kohistan district, Maulana Abdul Haleem, termed formal education for women un-Islamic and asked parents to pluck their daughters from school, or else they would be ‘doomed’.
The nonagenarian, who was elected to the National Assembly from Kohistan on the now-defunct Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal’s ticket in 2002, also railed against non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the region in his Friday sermon, calling them ‘hubs of immodesty’.
Nestled in the Himalayas, the Kohistan district is picturesque, but also one of the least-literate and least developed in the country.
Fiery sermon
Maulana Haleem, who was an office-bearer of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl until recently, was delivering a Friday sermon, at Jamia Masjid Komila, on who is dayoos, or those liable to be condemned to hell.
“It’s beghairti (immodesty) to equip girls with secular education,” the cleric said, adding that those Kohistani parents who were sending their girls to schools were acting against ‘Islamic shariah’ and the local customs.
“The Kohistani culture does not allow parents to send their pardadar (modest) girls to schools,” the former lawmaker said.
He did not spare female NGO workers either.
“Some women from these NGOs visit our houses frequently, mobilising na├»ve Kohistani women to follow their agenda in the name of health and hygiene education,” he said, adding that this was ‘unacceptable to Kohistani culture’. He threatened them with ‘dire consequences’, saying that married female NGO workers will be sent back to their husbands, and the unmarried ones will be wedded to Kohistani men.
During his stint as a parliamentarian, Maulana Haleem had also declared poppy cultivation in Kohistan ‘in accordance with Islam’.
Keeping women at home
When approached for comments, the cleric stood by the contents of his sermon, and insisted that several Hadith books prohibit girls from receiving degrees and certificates in ‘secular education’.
He did not actually quote any reference though. Asked to explain how parents would be doomed for their daughters’ education, the cleric said that formal education paves the way for girls to enter the job market. “When they permit their women to work, they give them a free hand to mix with na-mehrum (men they are not related to by blood) – by doing so, the girl’s father, brother or husband become dayoos in the eye of the shariah,” he said.
Such people will never enter Paradise, he added.
The only responsibility men owe to women is their sustenance, and not education, he said. In return, the women should stay at home and look after their children and family members, he added.
Asked if Islamic states like Saudi Arabia and Iran were violating shariah by spending billions on women’s education, Maulana Haleem termed their steps un-Islamic.
If the government is serious about bringing development to Kohistan, it should utilise NGOs’ funding itself with the help of local men.
Men working for these NGOs can continue their work though, he said, saying that is not against the shariah and local culture.
He claimed that 97% of girls schools in Kohistan were closed and the few girls that were enrolled, only visited their schools to collect cooking oil which the education department was distributing with the support of foreign donors.~Express Tribune, Pakistan, 6 May, 2012