October 18, 2010

Stop harassment of writers — you can’t silence voice of people anymore

By Farrah Mazhar

When I was growing up in Pakistan, it was really a terrorland. I used to read books and Asma Jahangir's Hudood Ordinance was a very uncomfortable read. At times, I felt abused while reading it. I felt confused angry and paralyzed with fear.

The blanket of silence and everything to do with Islam is good which was thrown on Pakistan during military dictator Gen. Zia’s time. And we feel and find the same following us till today. Yes! Pakistan is an Islamic state, but how Islamic are its people?

To be frank, everyone can’t be the fine example of Hazrat Omer (second caliph in Sunni Islam) and can’t be the perfect man (Mard-e-Mumin) of philosopher poet Dr. Muhammad Iqbal. I think it's the idea of “perfectionism” of Islam which has become a hindrance in the progress of Muslims.

On one side, the idea is “perfect” Islamic state, which in it's pursuit of “perfection” behaves like a totalitarian state. Pakistan can’t be more liberal than it is and it can’t be more orthodox than it is! A religious state formularized like Saudi Arabia is not possible in our country. Pakistanis would not accept it. Islam, I think, exists within the hearts of people. It’s the way we carry our lives without politicizing the faith.

We’re Muslims of a new era. We like it or not, but it’s a reality. Who we really are? We’re liberals and we’re fundamentalists as well! We’re educated and we’re ignorant as well! Without writers and good literature, show me, how the people in power want to mold or make our society compatible with rest of the world! They can’t silence the voice of the people! Why are they afraid and who are they afraid of?

We’ve allowed the US to bombard us so tell me what are we guarding? After the interviews of our nuclear scientist Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan (who had confessed proliferation to Iran, Libya, and North Korea) what else can be our national secret? So, for God’s sake, what are we hiding? People should be allowed to publish and print whatever they want.

In today’s militarized and Talibanized Pakistan, would we tolerate open-minded personalities like Mr. Jinnah (founding father of Pakistan) and Dr. Iqbal (national poet of the country)? Probably these personalities will feel so suffocated if they saw the current situation of freedom of thought and freedom of expression in our country.

I want to tell the government and establishment: Relax! We’ve to accept the creative minds and let them do their job freely. Do their freedom means you’ve to curtail your ways! The voice of the educated can’t be suppressed anymore. It has a wider audience and world wide appeal! 

A progressive Pakistan can’t be suppressed any longer. Our country has a culture which is a combination of East and West. A true Pakistan is emerging which seeks justice and balance in society. The fusion of Eastern and Western thoughts is our balancing point. We need a modern and balanced country where men and women live on equal footing, and enjoy their full human rights. This is the only way forward!

We all want to live freely, without fear of persecution and dirty harassment tactics of the state. This is the final fight! Nothing can come in the way of the people of Pakistan. This country can only be the way its people want it to be. And it’s a fusion of East and West. Our intelligence agencies must note this down.

(The writer lives in London, United Kingdom. Photo by The Terrorland Team) 


  1. Farrah Mazhar is a gifted writer.

  2. Drown the oppressors with words of truth! The voice of truth and justice is a powerful two-edged sword regardless of religion.