Category Archives: Talibanisation

Stop Lahore’s Talibanisation

Raza Rumi

The worst has happened. Data Darbar, which defined the contours of peaceful Islam for a millennium, has been desecrated in Lahore. Its markets have been attacked and its minorities live in fear after the Ahmadi massacre. Last year, the petrified traders of Lahore’s Hall Road burnt objectionable CDs after receiving threats from extremists. A year later, low-intensity blasts took place in the crowded Hall Road — a market for electronics and kosher and non-kosher DVDs. This week, two internet cafes were targeted in densely populated areas of Lahore and some time back Peeru’s was also bombed. Reports have suggested that the cafes had received threats from unidentifiable numbers asking them to stop their businesses as they were turning into hubs of ‘immoral activities’. Just because no one died there, media attention has been patchy. A younger female colleague told me how tailors are hesitant to take orders for sleeveless shirts and other designs that may offend the purist dress code. The militants are employing tactics of social control used in Swat. It cannot be brushed under the carpet anymore. Prior to 1947, Lahore was a cosmopolitan city with a discrete culture of inter-faith harmony, with a reputation for the best education and socio-cultural movements. After its provincialisation, the resilient city re-emerged as a vibrant centre of progressive politics, avant-garde art and extraordinary literature. Since the 1980s, Lahore is a city with formidable infrastructure and boasts of great public spaces, especially parks. The innate openness and tolerance of this metropolis could not be subjugated by growing extremism. Continue reading

Pakistan’s Heartland Under Threat

West meets East in prosperous, populous Punjab. But the Taliban wants to change the status quo.
By John Lancaster

The Taliban would not be amused. On a sunny winter afternoon in Lahore, the local culturati have turned out in force for the annual show at the National College of Arts. In the main courtyard young men and women mingle easily, smoking and sipping from cans of Red Bull. Some of the men sport ponytails, and one has a pierced eyebrow.

Nearby is a life-size sculpture of a couple hold­ing hands on a swing. Inside, the image of a male torso, viewed from one angle, morphs into a female breast. Yet there is no mistaking the stamp of the subcontinent. Women wear tra­ditional thigh-length tunics over their jeans, and some cover their hair. There are also miniature paintings, which traditionally might capture a hunting scene; here they portray other scenes, as in one bold depiction of a bearded cleric reclining on a couch in front of a bombed-out school.

The jumble of styles and influences—the stew of peoples and faiths Rudyard Kipling captured so vividly in his novel Kim—is a hallmark of Lahore, Pakistan’s second largest city and capital of Punjab Province. The wealthiest and most populous of the country’s four provinces, Punjab is where East meets West and everything in between. Even the brutal and bloody partition of British India in the mid-20th century could not destroy Punjab’s cosmopolitan brio. Continue reading

Terrible news from Lahore – extremists are back in action

Raza Rumi

Two horrific incidents took place in Lahore today. First, the blasts in the busiest of streets – Hall Road frequented by thousands of people. The moral brigade had been objecting to and threatening the shop-owners against selling CDs, DVDs as they somehow lead to decline in morals and of course challenge the puritanical worldview of the Islamists. Now, a warning was sent through two low intensity blasts. Lahore’s Talibanisation nightmare might be turning into a reality.

Second, the famous Shezan brand is under attack – the reason: it is owned by an Ahmedi. After killing them in the villages and their places of worship, their right to engage in commerce (a basic right by the way) is being violated. This persecuted community has never been targetted so badly in the recent years.

Lahore – a peaceful, towering cultural centre of yore is now under direct attack by retrogressive forces while the Punjabis continue to deny the existence of religious extremism in their midst. When will we wake up – once the city is destroyed?

Markets, mosques and roads are becoming unsafe while we sit and watch the reality horror shows in our homes. How long will the homes be safe?

Express-Tribune reports: LAHORE: Twin low intensity bomb blasts hit a music and CD market in Lahore on Saturday evening, injuring 11 people and creating panic in the area, police said. Continue reading

Lahore Bombings: Witness Audio Interview

Cross-posted from my personal blog

My cousin Usman was at ‘Moon Market’ in Iqbal Town last week when twin explosions went off. I asked him to narrate what he saw, heard and felt on that horrendous night. This interview is completely in Urdu, so I apologize if you can’t follow it. It meant a lot to me, since I was asking Usman to dig up the most troubling moments of his vibrant, youthful life so far, but I commend and salute him for being brave and recounting the events for the sake of sharing.

I’ll try doing an English transcript sometime. Excuse the slight sounds of kids playing in the back- my nieces are visiting.

AUDIO LINK: Interview with Usman Ghauri on the Moon Market Blasts

Pakistan police targeted as attacks kill 15

By Mubasher Bukhari

LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) – Gunmen attacked police offices in the Pakistani city of Lahore on Thursday and a car bomb exploded outside another in the northwest, killing at least 15 people after a week of violence in which more than 100 people died. Continue reading

Punjabi Taliban

By Frederick Kagan, Ahmad Majidyar

(The Critical Threats Project is developing a site focused specifically on the threat from al-Qaeda and Associated Movements (AQAM); until that site reaches production, related pieces will be posted on the IranTracker site.)

A group called Tehrik-e Taliban Punjab (TT Punjab) released a message on May 27 claiming credit for the suicide car-bomb attack in Lahore that killed at least 40 people and injured nearly 150, according to a translation prepared by the SITE Intel Group.  The message said that the attackers struck to retaliate for the operations the Pakistani Army has been conducting against the Tehrik-e Nafaz-e Shariat-e Mohammadi (TNSM) in the Swat River Valley and elsewhere in the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan. Continue reading

Time To Bring Mullah On Board

The horrific tragedy in Lahore has done little to either bring the country together. There is the usual condemnation; people voice their anger, especially if they are in front of the camera or talking to a reporter. The talking heads on television channels repeat the same mantra – India with the help of Israel and America wants to destabilize Pakistan because of its nuclear capabilities, etc. In other words, nothing new in analyzing the causes and no effort to actually examine internal facts that might be a cause of suicide bombings or terrorists acts in the country. Continue reading

Future generations have to be saved from Taliban

* PPP rally welcomes military operation in troubled areas of Swat

* Similar rallies staged in major cities of Punjab

Daily Times Staff Report

LAHORE: The Taliban are the enemy of Pakistan, and we have to save the coming generations from their clutches, said the participants of a rally arranged by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on Friday.

The rally, organised to condemn the Taliban insurgency and express support for the army, started from Nasir Bagh and ended at Faisal Chowk in front of the Punjab Assembly building. Several PPP leaders, political workers, and the general public participated in the rally.   Continue reading

Ajoka’s Musafat theatre festival (May 17-24)

Say No to Talibanization Cultural activity is under threat in Pakistan

Please attend Ajoka’s performances:

1. Hotel Mohenjodaro on 17th May

2. Dekh Tamasha Chalta Ban 18th May

3. Burqavaganza 23rd May

4. Bulha 24th May Venue: 8:00p.m, at Alhamra Hall # 2, The Mall, Lahore.

Entry is Free In Karachi, the festival will be held at the Arts Council from 30th May to 4th June 2009

For further information 042-6682443/ 6686634

Is Pakistan collapsing? A father and a citizen speaks

By Ali Dayan Hasan

At my daughter’s annual school parent’s day event in Lahore last month, the tension was palpable. Bewildered at the speed with which this innocuous annual event had transformed into a maximum security operation, anxious parents filed in their hundreds past security guards, metal detectors and bag searches into Theatre Number Two of the Alhamra Cultural Complex – a modernist structure that the citizens of Lahore would tell you proudly is amongst the largest public-funded exhibition and theatre complexes in Asia. They were there to see their children, none older than seven, perform the usual amalgam of tableaux on “Peoples and Festivals of the World”, a smattering of Kathak – a North Indian classical dance, a “Chinese dance” performance and, of course, my daughter’s favorite – a Disney-esque version of the Bangles hit – “Walk Like an Egyptian.” The event began, as always, with recitation from the Quran. Tense primary school teachers grappled with security issues and as I walked in; a very public stand-off between a security posse comprising teachers, local police and plain clothes personnel and a random man who was on the premises for “no known reason” was underway. The man was eventually deemed harmless and let go but there was no parent who entered that hall without making note of the exits. Two hours later, as we filed out, I and virtually every relieved parent thought and said the same thing: “One more year like the last one and next year there will be no Parents Day. Another month or two like the previous ones and there might be no school left open.”

Since December 27, 2007 – the dreadful winter’s day when streets across Pakistan fell silent in the aftermath of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, Pakistanis have understood and expressed in varying degrees, or disagreed in desperate denial, that the Islamization project unleashed by the United States and implemented by the Pakistani military since 1979 had turned on its creators, snarling at the United States, devouring Pakistan and exposing its army for the megalomaniac but intensely incompetent institution that it is. And the narrative of impending disaster, brutal dispossession and disembodied lives in exile for stateless citizens harking back pathetically to a lost life, hitherto the preserve of Palestinians and Cubans, Afghans, Somalis and the ethnic mosaic of the Balkans, beckons to Pakistanis as well. One could argue that Pakistanis are scared of a future comprising daily doses of floggings, beheadings, daisy cutters and drones. They might be too. But no one has had time to think that far ahead. The truth is more prosaic: After all, if your children cannot go to school, the future has ceased to be. And when societies cannot have a future, they die. Continue reading

Dancing Girls Of Lahore Strike Over “Taliban” Law

Patrick Cockburn and Issam Ahmed in Lahore
Friday, 12 December 2008

The dancing girls of Lahore, the cultural capital of Pakistan, are on strike in protest against the tide of Talibanisation that is threatening to destroy an art form that has flourished since the Mughal empire.

The strike, which is supported by the theatres where they perform, was sparked by the decision of Lahore High Court last month to ban the Mujra, the graceful and elaborate dance first developed in the Mughal courts 400 years ago, on the grounds that it is too sexually explicit. Continue reading

In City of Tolerance, Shadow of the Taliban

Published: November 2, 2008

LAHORE, Pakistan — This city has long been regarded as the cultural, intellectual and artistic heart of Pakistan, famous for its poets and writers, its gardens and historic sites left over from the Mughal Empire.

In Lahore, Pakistan, sellers of CDs and DVDs complained of slumping business after threats.

The New York Times

Panic over an insurgency has found its way to Lahore.

The turmoil sown by militancy may have reached into the capital, Islamabad, but it rarely seemed to intrude here among the leafy boulevards that are home to many of Pakistan’s secular-minded elite.

But in recent weeks, panic has found its way even here, with a series of small bombs and other threats that offer a measure of just how deeply the fear of militant groups like the Taliban has penetrated Pakistani society.

On Oct. 7, three small bombs exploded in juice shops in a sprawling, congested neighborhood called Garhi Shahu. The shops, which had gained a reputation as “dating points,” offering enclosed booths for young couples to cuddle, were gutted in the blasts. One person was killed, and several others were wounded.

An unknown group called Tehreek-ul Haya, or Movement for Decency, claimed responsibility and warned of more attacks against “centers of immorality” in the city. Continue reading

The beginning of the Talibanization of Lahore?

by Ahmad Rafay Alam

A significant event passed by relatively unnoticed last week when media reported that traders on Lahore’s Hall Road deliberately set alight thousands of pornographic VCDs and DVDs. The Anjuman-e-Tajiran had resolved to weed out the “objectionable” media after vendors in the area reported receiving anonymous letters and phone calls threatening them of dire consequences if the sale of such “obscene” material continued. The event was widely reported, but the obvious undercurrents did not surface. I learnt of the burning when a local TV station carried an interview of a video trader insisting only a handful of the hundreds of outlets at Lahore’s hub of trade in pirated video indulged in selling pornographic material. A study of the undercurrents of this event are quite disturbing.
Continue reading