Pakistan

Suicide bombers devastated one of Pakistan's most famous Sufi shrines last night, marking another vicious strike by violent extremists against the moderate form of Islam practised by most Pakistanis. At least 42 people were killed and 175 injured when two bombers ripped through the Data Ganj Baksh shrine in central Lahore where thousands of people had gathered to pray, dance and listen to devotional music. The toll is expected to rise.

An abortion hotline which has been set up in Pakistan is facing violent opposition. Islamic groups and political parties have condemned the hotline, which was launched yesterday, as "anti-Islamic" and "colonial", even though it will save the lives of thousands of women who die each year in backstreet abortion clinics. They have warned the organisers that they are at risk of reprisals.

The picture shows Aqila, aged 18, celebrating her marriage in front of relatives and friends. At the time she dreamt of coming to England for a happy, long life with her new husband and his family. Two years later, the young bride is stranded in her village in Pakistan after, a court has heard, being drugged and forcibly taken back by her husband and father-in-law without her newborn baby. Aqila, 20, was dumped outside her parents' house in March without her passport and British visa, leaving her stranded with little hope of return, the High Court was told last week.

شن مسلحون يعتقد انهم ينتمون لحركة طالبان باكستان يحملون بنادق وقنابل يدوية هجوماً دموياً على مسجدين يعودان للطائفة الأحمدية التي تشكل إحدى الأقليات في باكستان، بالتزامن مع توقيت صلاة الجمعة، وذلك في مدينة لاهور شرقي البلاد. وقالت وسائل إعلام باكستانية إن الهجومين أسفرا عن سقوط عشرات القتلى والجرحى فضلا عن احتجاز رهائن داخل من بين أفراد الطائفة الذين سبق أن تعرضوا لمضايقات من قبل الحركات السنية المتشددة في البلاد، دون أن يصل الأمر إلى حد التعرض لهجمات كبيرة من هذا النوع.

We cannot possibly claim, as a country, that we value freedom of speech above all else. If we did so, we would choke on the magnitude of our hypocrisy. When, in human history, has the oppression of a country’s own citizens paid dividends to either the oppressed or the oppressors? In recent times, we as Pakistanis have developed not an immunity, but a resistance to the mental strain of terrorism. This is a tragedy of the times, and a triumph of our spirit. Recently, however, we encountered a new horror, one that I hope we shall never inure ourselves to: shame.

A freebee giveaway Harkatul Ansar clock : hands are a Kalshnikov, four of the five pillars of Islam mark the quarter hour points. The fifth pillar, Tauheed, replaced by Jehad. There was a front page photograph the day after the Lahore massacres, of an elderly Ahmedi with a cap and small white beard, hands ‘clasped together in a prayer of sorts’ as Dawn captioned it. ‘Of sorts’. Even Dawn did not want to risk calling it prayer. The photo reminded me of the iconic picture taken during the Gujarat carnage in India, 2002, in which a Muslim man, hands clasped, pleads for his life.

Shirkat Gah staff and network members participated in protests against killing of 95 innocent Pakistani who lost their lives in attacks on two mosques of the Ahmedi community on Friday, May 28th. These demonstrations took place on Monday, 31 May, 2010 and included a candle light Vigil at the Liberty Roundabout in Lahore and a protest by WAF and JAC members at the Press Club Karachi.

Almost seven years after Naila Farhat, 20, became another victim of an acid throwing attack by a spurned suitor, she is finally seeing more vigorous efforts toward the passage of a law seeking to amend existing legislation to reinforce protection of women against violent assaults. Farhat is the first to admit, though, that beneath her physical scars is a smoldering anger that refuses to be pacified until she has exacted vengeance against her violators. 

A brutal assault on Pakistan’s Ahmadi community on 28 May has left them feeling more vulnerable than ever before. Armed assailants laid siege to two mosques in Lahore, capital of Punjab Province, where Ahmadis were praying and killed at least 80 people. The attack has been described by community leaders, who put the death toll at 93 with 100 injured, as the worst ever faced in the group’s 121-year history. Dozens of victims still lie injured in Lahore hospitals, some in a critical state. “Some are very badly injured, but we will not give in and we have not lost strength,” Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, a spokesperson for the Ahmadi community in Lahore, told IRIN. 

Last week, three Pakistani sisters, age 20, 16, and 14, had their lives irrevocably changed. As they walked from Kalat city to Pandarani village in the Baluchistan province, two motorcyclists threw acid on them, causing severe burns over their faces and bodies. Two weeks earlier, two sisters in the same province suffered the same attack—and they are only 11 and 13 years old. Their crimes? Not wearing hijabs and traveling unaccompanied by men. The Baloch Ghaeratmand Group, which was until recently unknown in the province, circulated a pamphlet in April that warned, “Acid will be thrown on the faces of women and girls who step out of their houses without covering their faces… People who fail to comply with these orders will themselves be responsible for the consequences.” 

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