Sunday, July 29, 2012
The Express TribuneThree traders belonging to the Hindu community in Balochistan were kidnapped some 140 kilometres from the provincial capital Friday night. The incident has sparked off protests against the government’s continued inability to provide any sort of safety to residents of the restive province. The minority group’s representative body’s protest was supported widely by local political parties and business associations. Denesh Kumar, Retesh Kumar and Rathan Kumar were on their way back from attending a family function when they were intercepted by unidentified men at the Jiwa intersection of the RCD Highway in Surab tehsil, Kalat district. Their van was pulled over by armed men who took the traders hostage at gunpoint, an official of the Balochistan Levies, Abdul Rahim, told The Express Tribune. “The kidnappers came in two black four-wheel-drive vehicles and a white sedan,” he said. Though no one has approached the relatives of the abducted men, who all belong to one family, it is believed the men were being held for monetary gains. “It could be a case of kidnapping for ransom,” Abdul Rahim added. Mukesh Kumar, the brother of one of the abducted men, Rathan, is convinced the men have been kidnapped for ransom and said the Hindu community is an easy target for criminals. He, however, added that, “no one had called to make any demands yet.” Kumar said the traders had left Khuzdar at about five in the evening on Friday and were picked up an hour later. “The kidnappers coerced the driver of the van to get out of the vehicle, which they then drove away with.” Kumar said the wagon was later found in the Surab area with flat tyres. He added that the women of the family were still in the vehicle, but the kidnappers had whisked the three men away. Protests Following the incident, a complete shutter-down strike was observed in Kalat on Saturday. The call was made by the Hindu Panchayat and supported by the Shaheri Action Committee, Traders Union, Kalat, along with all major political parties. All commercial activity remained suspended as shops and markets were closed throughout the day. Traders and members of the Hindu community also blocked main roads in protest and chanted slogans against the government and police for failing to protect citizens. Demanding the government to employ all available resources for the safe recovery of the abducted men, protesters threatened to prolong their demonstrations otherwise. The Quetta-Karachi RCD Highway was blocked for nearly five hours in Kalat with a large number of vehicles stranded for the same reason. As a result, Nato supplies were also disrupted. There has been a marked increase in kidnapping for ransom cases in Surab Tehsil, the hometown of a provincial home minister, in recent years. Hindus are seen as easy targets. The Mahraj of Kali Mandir, the historic Hindu temple, was also kidnapped from the same region earlier, but was released after a ransom of Rs8 million was paid for his return.
56%Pakistanis apprehensive of further difficulties in next six months Only 33 per cent feel otherwise: Survey
THE FRONTIER POSTAccording to a Gilani Research Foundation Survey carried out by Gallup Pakistan, 56% of Pakistanis are apprehensive about further difficulties for their country over the next six months.Meanwhile, 33% feel it will get no worse; 10% believe things might improve.A nationally representative sample of men and women from across the four provinces was asked “Kindly tell for the next six months, will the difficulties faced by Pakistan decrease, increase or will there be no difference?” Responding to this, 10% believe that their difficulties will decrease, 56% believe difficulties will increase whereas 33% believe difficulties will remain the same. However, 1% did not give a view.The study was released by Gilani foundation and carried out by Gallup Pakistan, the Pakistani affiliate of Gallup International. The recent survey was carried out among a sample of 2638 men and women in rural and urban areas of all four provinces of the country.Meanwhile, according to another Gilani Research Foundation Survey carried out by Gallup Pakistan, 57% say there is a no chance at all that this government can resolve the electricity crisis. Despair more than doubles during last 3 years.A nationally representative sample of men and women from across the four provinces was asked “In your opinion, what are the chances that the current government will be successful to deal with energy crisis?” Responding to this, 7% there is a high chance that government will be successfully deal with energy crisis, 27% believe there is a little chance whereas 57% believe that there is absolutely no chance that the current government will be able to deal with energy crisis. However, 9% did not give a view.
It is fairly true that some people just do not learn the lessons. Maya Khan, the unprecedented queen of controversial morning shows, quite evidently remains one of them. Whether we talk about her endless stream of crocodile tears shed during the live transmission of her shows or her posse of women running after young couples, Khan certainly knows how to stir up sensation and ratchet ratings. Khan, popularly known for running after people in the parks, was sacked after a social media campaign was launched against her. However, she was hired by another private TV channel soon for her sensationalism and controversies. Her recent escapade, which involved converting a Hindu boy on live television, has angered many people. The show revolved around the ritual of conversion and people calling in to congratulate Khan, her team and Sunil, who was later, renamed Muhammad Abdullah. When asked what motivated him to accept Islam, Sunil responded incoherently about his intentions. Most of his responses revolved around praising Sarim Burney Trust, where he works and supposedly received the courage to change his religion. I am truly ashamed to have witnessed such a hideous mockery of the two religions. I am appalled to be a part of a society which hails such unjust and unethical practises and deeply saddened to know that minorities are blatantly marginalised on live television while the silent majority lives in denial. It was ironical to see that not a single caller objected to this ridiculing of religions or safeguarding the rights of minorities living in Pakistan. I am positively sure that at this rate minorities will cease to exist in Pakistan. It is rather disappointing to see that people such as Khan and Shahid Masood who are best known for gaining popularity through such shoddy tactics are being followed around like deities. Amazingly, most of us fail to understand that spirituality and religion are matters of personal choices. Advertising and exhibiting religion is neither permissible in Islam nor is recommended by the ethical parameters of any progressive society. The bombardment of Ramazan transmissions featuring religious clerics, public and pseudo-religious scholars-cum-hosts that aim to question and reinforce the concept of faith, are nothing but promotional stunts to fool the public. When will we learn? Why cannot we see that the only chance of our survival lies in tolerance and coexistence? Why cannot we respect other religions the way we honour Islam? How can a person who disrespects one religion, honour another? The forced conversions and abductions of non-Muslims living in Pakistan are hushed-up whereas ‘victories’ such as the one we witnessed this week are publicised on national television, further intimidating and isolating minorities. We talk about atrocities carried out in Indian Kashmir and the Gujrat riots but forget about the minorities who are living in constant fear of their lives, legacies and children. Khan’s show depicted the true picture of people because of whom the non-Muslims population in Pakistan is declining drastically. Whether the conversion was forced or willful remains arguable, however, we all know how Pakistanis would have responded if a Muslim would have been converted on live television. The ensuing catharsis would have engulfed the entire country in a raging fire; however, the minimal reaction this episode has received just proves that we are a failed society. Equally if not more, Pakistan’s media ethics are also to be questioned. The code of conduct which is found missing in most of the cases is one of the main reasons why such grotesque shows are approved for broadcast. Who has given electronic media the right to disseminate such negative propaganda about religion? Is it not more important to address issues related to the suppressed minorities of Pakistan and broadcast messages of peace in harmony during Ramazan? It is important to understand that unless we learn to live in mutual harmony, we will continue to suffer. The silent majority must rise and reprimand such media houses, producers and anchorpersons who entice masses to laud such medieval practises. We saw a revolution on social media after Khan’s “chasing couples in park” fiasco and we must continue to raise our voice. The change will take time; however, it will also only be brought about by you.