Friday, 14 April 2017

At last they came for me - and there was no one left to do anything about it. Mashal Khan

"First they arrested the Communists - but I was not a Communist, so I did nothing.

Then they came for the Social Democrats - but I was not a Social Democrat, so I did nothing. 

Then they arrested the trade unionists - and I did nothing because I was not one.

And then they came for the Jews and then the Catholics, but I was neither a Jew nor a Catholic and I did nothing.

At last they came and arrested me - and there was no one left to do anything about it."

Rev. Martin Niemoeller, Nazi Prison Survivor
 Now famous quote from Rev Martin Niemoeller was modified by Hussain Haqqani, ex Pakistani Ambassador to the US to reflect upon the direction Pakistani society is taking in terms of tolerance to dissenting views:

First they killed the Shias - but I was not a Shia, so I did nothing.

Then they came for the Ahmadis - but I was not an Ahmadi, so I did nothing. 

Then they killed the Christians - and I did nothing because I was not one.

And then they came for the Mohajirs and then the working women, but I was neither a Mohajir nor a working woman and I did nothing.

At last they came for me - and there was no one left to do anything about it." - Surviving citizens of Pakistan
Brutal, inhumane lynching of Mashal Khan, a university student in KPK province of Pakistan is not the first and doesn't looks like to be the last acts of barbarism in the name of religion in Pakistan. Such is the fear of intolerant attitudes that for twenty four hours of the brutal murder electronic media failed to highlight the incidence with seriousness that it merited.

Mashal, a self confessed Sufi leaning liberal student was targeted based on his alleged blasphemous posts on social media channels - I have scoured through and couldn't find evidence of one.

He was brilliant and inquisitive, always complaining about the political system of the country, but I never heard him saying anything controversial against the religion,” one of his teachers said.
Someone asked a question on Twitter: "What have you done today that you know added to your own character?"

Possible answer from Pakistan would be: While one courageous voice after another was being brutally silenced, I stayed quiet

"Pakistan is a peaceful country. Anyone raising voice is made to REST IN PEACE" - Mujaid Alam

Thursday, 31 March 2016

In Defence of the "Mullah" "Maulvi" and the "Maulana"

Recent religiously motivated protests across Pakistan made visible a new breed of mostly bearded protestors who knowingly or unknowingly were caught on camera using the filthiest possible language full of unthinkable profanities directed at the government officials and those who do not agree with their political views. Videos recordings of these foul tirades have hit the social and other digital media and there is an uproar among general educated decent people at the ascent of this new breed of so called "Mullahs". This brings me to the point of this post - these foul mouthed characters are not Mullahs!

Not every person sporting a beard is a Maulana, Mullah, or Maulvi. Not every Madrassa (religious school) in Pakistan is a breeding ground for extremism. The two symbols of virtuous Islam have been hijacked in Pakistan by a large majority of failed-every-where-else-in-life morons with tacit approval of self serving religious establishment, political opportunists, and military dictators.

These people do not have a right to represent Islam in no way form or shape. Ordinary decent people need to take that right away from them. While showing and commenting on there deeds, views, and language we should not give them the status of representatives of Islam by calling them Maulvis, Mullahs, Maulanas, Ashiqan-e-Rasool, religious protestors. They are none of these. Semantics matter when presenting a narrative.

There is also a dire need for real Ulama-e-Deen (religious scholars) to take note of this, come forward, and not be swept away by the lure of street power through thugs.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

#PrayforLahore Candlelight Vigil at Consulate General of Pakistan Manchester

Cowardly terrorist atrocity on Easter Sunday evening of 2016 at a children park Gulshan-e-Iqbal Allama Iqbal Town in Lahore left over 70 children, women and men dead and scores injured.

A candlelight vigil was organised by citizens in the North West of the UK to show solidarity with the victims and mourn the unnecessary loss of life. I was humbled by the number of people from across different religious, ethnic and national backgrounds who attended despite terrible weather conditions. Councillor Paul Murphy OBE Lord Mayor of Manchester, Tony Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner and interim Mayor of Greater Manchester, Rt.Hon. Sajjad Haider Karim MEP and many other representatives joined in a message of common grief and resolve that terrorism will not break us apart as a community.

It was a sobering ceremony conducted by Sajid Qazi Community Welfare Consular,  and Consul General Dr Zahoor Ahmed in Manchester.

Tony Lloyd's words sum up what every speaker at the vigil iterated:
“The Easter terrorist attacks in Lahore were reprehensible. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those who lost their lives. We think also of those who have been injured and those who witnessed this terrible attack, many of whom are children.

From Greater Manchester, to Brussels, to Lahore, we are all part of one, great global community.

We share the heartbreak of those who are mourning today, we reach out a hand of friendship and solidarity, and we send a message of hope and strength.

That message is simple – those who seek to divide us through fear and violence will never succeed. Together we are stronger than the terrorists will ever be.”

Aftermath of the explosion in Lahore

Mr Iqbal Siddiqui of Pakistan Community Centre Manchester lighting the candles

Amna Ahmed, a member of civil society in Timperley along with a large number of ladies attended the vigil

Tony Lloyd interim Mayor of Manchester and Police and Crime Commissioner, Consul General Pakistan Dr Zahoor Ahmed, Sajjad Haider Karim MEP<  Counsellor Paul Murphy Lord Mayor of Manchester, Father FalakShair 

Counsellor Naeem-ul-Hassan, ex Lord Mayor of Manchester lighting the candles
Counsellor Paul Murphy Lord Mayor of Manchester and Dr Zahoor Hassan Consul General of Pakistan in Manchester
Counsellor RabNawaz Akbar lighting the candles 

Tony Lloyd Police and Crime Commissioner and interim Mayor of Manchester speaking to the audience

Counsellor Paul Murphy Lord Mayor of Manchester addressing the audience

Sajjad Haider Karim MEP addressing the audience

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Attack on Junaid Jamshed - Violence is never the answer

The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict - Martin Luther King, Jr.
Junaid Jamshed might be a misogynistic moron and many of his views abhorrent for liberal feminists and religious fanatics alike, but to direct physical violence at him to show your dislike is stone age attitude - and that is where exactly the land of pure is heading to if the goons at the Islamabad airport are not arrested and prosecuted.

But, when a society, and nation commits Harakiri rule of law is the first thing to evaporate.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Marple Locks - a great place for a family day out

A photo diary of a beautiful walk down the Marple Locks. Sixteen locks raise the canal by 209 feet over the course of about a mile. Right next to Marple Town centre this is a gem of a place for family walks with well maintained paths and picnic spots on the way.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Help Educate Girls in Pakistan - Zarina Shamim Scholarship Program (ZSSP)

A recent report on state of education in Pakistan titled “25 Million Broken Promises” highlights that there are currently 25 million boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 16 who are not in school. Girls make up more than half of all out of school children.

Education is one of the most critical areas of empowerment for women. It is also an area that offers some of the clearest examples of discrimination women suffer. An educated woman has the skills, information and self-confidence that she needs to be a better parent, worker and citizen. Cost of education and poverty are two key reasons among many barriers to girls education.

While the State has failed to provide universal education facilities to all its citizens, private and charitable educational institutions are doing sterling work to fill the gap. One such great example is the Ala-ud-Din Academy Girls High School and the Zarina Shamim Scholarship Programme. I reproduce below an email from Zareen Niazi, Executive Director of the school highlighting the achievements so far and inviting everyone to join in and help.

Dear Family and Friends,

I am writing to request your support and active participation in our Zarina Shamim Scholarship Program (ZSSP) to help young women in Pakistan attain higher, as well as professional education. 

Since ZSSP’s inception in 2007, we have grown to successfully fund 81 scholarships for young women to attend college, university and even professional education.  This has been a wonderful journey for me personally, and I have seen first-hand the benefits that education can bring to young women with so much potential.   Yet, while we are making a small difference in our country, the number of young women who cannot afford higher education in Pakistan continues to increase.

I am pleased to inform you that our very first two scholarship holders from the first batch of ZSSP have completed their medical degrees.  First young woman is Umm e Rubab, who graduated fromKing Edward Medical College, Lahore and second is Hira Nasser who has graduated from Alama Iqbal Medical College, Lahore.  Both have now started their house jobs. 

Several other scholarship holders have now completed their B.Sc. (Honors) degrees and are working and helping their families financially. 

Currently, we are paying 81 (eighty one) girls for their college, university and professional education.  In addition, there are about 80 students of our school and 15 (fifteen) students of Computer Technology Center are being supported by ZSSP. 

I have seen first-hand that young women have much more meaningful lives once they are empowered financially, physically and emotionally. We believe that ZSSP has the great opportunity to empower many more women to achieve their potential in making a profound difference in their lives and communities.

The Matric result for the year 2014-15 is due at the end of July 2015.  Currently, we are interviewing girls who have been short-listed and recommended by our Scholarship Committee.  Final selection of winners will be made after the Matric result.  There is huge potential and we hope that the number of students, with college education scholarships, will further go up with your generous support. 
We are thankful for your continued support and hope that your contributions will keep flowing.  You can help by:

  1. Sponsoring a school student by donating Rs.2500/- (U$ 25/-) per month.  This includes tuition fee, books and stationery expenses.
  1. Sponsoring a school student by donating Rs.3000/- (U$ 30/-) per month.  This includes tuition fee, books, stationery and a bag.
  1. Sponsoring a school student by donating Rs.3500/- (U$ 35/-) per month.  This includes tuition fee, books, stationery, bag and two uniforms.
  1. Sponsoring a girl for college education by donating Rs.6000/- (U$ 60/-) per month or Rs 72,000/- (U$ 720/-) per year.  This includes tuition fee, books and stationery expenses.  
  1. Contributing any amount to ZSSF for girls' school, college and / or university education.
  1. Creating a scholarship in the name of someone whom you want to recognize and honor.  This will be one time payment as seed money.  The money to start such a scholarship is Rs. 500,000/- (U$ 5000/-)  
  • Donating through our website via PayPal and Major Credit Cards.
  • Making donations via cross checks - in the name of "ALDA - Zarina Shamim Scholarships Fund"
  • Depositing your donations directly in the following accounts: 
  • Mailing your donation checks to Ala-ud-Din Academy, 114 Danyal Street, Pakistani Bazaar, Baghbanpura, Lahore, Pakistan; Tel:  +92-42-36848061, +92-42-36841594
Payments can be made by:

Bank Al Habib Ltd., G.T. Road, Baghbanpura, Lahore, Pakistan
Account Name: ALDA - Zarina Shamim Scholarship Fund
Account #:  0047 0081 000355 01 4 

BOP, G.T Road, Baghbanpura, Lahore, Pakistan   
Account Name: Ala-ud-Din Academy - Scholarship Endowment Fund 
Account #: 4294126-0830047: 0060180008

Please visit our website for further information on ALDA and ZSSP; &  

To view photos of Scholarship Function - September 2014, please click the link below;

Please share this information with your friends, family, colleagues and supporters who may want to contribute to this cause.

I look forward to your help, time and financial support. It will make a huge difference!

Best regards,

Zareen Niazi
Executive Director
Ala-ud-Din Academy, Girls' High School

Cell; +92 333 4672177

This is a worthy cause so please join in and contribute as much as you can.