Saturday, February 18, 2017

One step forward in Pakistan, but more is needed

Nasir Khan, February 18, 2017



The passing of the Hindu marriage bill was an important step in Pakistan, which is a mutti-religious country.


If common sense prevails in the ruling strata of Pakistan, they should take the next bold step and make Pakistan a Secular Democratic country, where there is no state religion, but all offices of the state are open to all irrespective of the religious identities of the citizens of Pakistan. It means a believer of any faith – Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Parsi, Bahai, Ahmadi, etc. — can become the president and prime minister of Pakistan.



To start with, I would love to see a Hindu, a Sikh or a Christian being elected to the highest offices of the country. That can only happen when Pakistan becomes a secular democratic country where religion of its citizens is a private matter for the people and has nothing to do with the running of the democratic system of governement.


At the same time, I am deeply conscious of the poltical reality that the vicious effects of Islamist anti-humanism, morbid fanaticism and anti-social garbage preached through toxic clerics make the prospects of the rise of secular democracy in Pakistan a distant dream. But we have to speak up and say what is in the interest of all.


 ———–



Pakistan Senate passes landmark Hindu marriage bill



The Hindu Marriage Bill 2017, which is the first elaborate Hindu community’s personal law, was adopted by the Senate on Friday.

The bill had already been approved by the lower house or the National Assembly on September 26, 2015, and it now just needs signature of the President, a mere formality, to become a law.

Dawn News reported that the bill is widely acceptable to Hindus living in Pakistan because it relates to marriage, registration of marriage, separation and remarriage, with the minimum age of marriage set at 18 years for both boys and girls.

The bill will help Hindu women get documentary proof of their marriage.
It will be the first personal law for Pakistani Hindus, applicable in Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. The Sindh province has already formulated its own Hindu Marriage Law.

The bill presented in the Senate by Law Minister Zahid Hamid faced no opposition or objection. It was mainly due to the sympathetic views expressed by the lawmakers of all political parties in the relevant standing committees.

The bill was approved by the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights on January 2 with an overwhelming majority.

However, Senator Mufti Abdul Sattar of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl had opposed the bill, claiming that the Constitution was vast enough to cater to such needs.

While approving the bill, committee chairperson Senator Nasreen Jalil of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement had announced, “This was unfair —— not only against the principles of Islam but also a human rights violation —— that we have not been able to formulate a personal family law for the Hindus of Pakistan.”

Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, a leading Hindu lawmaker from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League—Nawaz, had been working relentlessly for three years to have a Hindu marriage law in the country.

“Such laws will help discourage forced conversions and streamline the Hindu community after the marriage of individuals,” he said, expressing gratitude to the parliamentarians.

Mr. Vankwani also said it was difficult for married Hindu women to prove that they were married, which was one of the key tools for miscreants involved in forced conversion.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Frederick Engels about his role in Marxist theory


Nasir Khan, February 9, 2017

The names of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels are inseparably linked for laying the foundations of Scientific Socialism in contrast to the previous versions known as utopian socialism. As long they lived, their intellectual partnership was in the service of a common cause but deeply rooted in rigorous scientific work in social sciences including history, economics and the socialist movement.

After the death of Marx in 1883, Engels had the ardous task of sorting out the unfinished notes and scripts that eventually he published as the rest of the volumes of Das Kapital. He wrote a number of books on history and philosophy which hold a pre-eminent position within Marxism.

But how did he see his contribution to the new theories the two friends had developed? Any normal human being who works all his life and produces so much worthwhile scientific works will take pride in his/her accomplishments and will not allow anyone or anything to take away the credit he/she deserves. It is just being human to think so.

But the co-founder of Marxism was a great human being in another respect also. He refused to take any credit for his contributions and instead accredited Marx with developing the fundamental theories that are called Marxism. In fact, I can't find another example of a dedicated thinker and writer anywhere in world history who showed so much modesty as Engels did about his role.

While reading once again Engels's Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy (first published in German in 1886), the following marginal note he wrote profoundly stirred me. Such was the friend of Karl Marx!

"Lately repeated reference has been made to my share in this theory, and so I can hardly avoid saying a few words here to settle this point. I cannot deny that both before and during my forty years' collaboration with Marx I had a certain independent share in laying the foundations of the theory, and more particularly in its elaboration. But the greater part of its leading basic principles, especially in the realm of economics and history, and, above all, their final trenchant formulation, belong to Marx. What I contributed—at any rate with the exception of my work in a few special fields—Marx could very well have done without me. What Marx accomplished I would not have achieved. Marx stood higher, saw further, and took a wider and quicker view than all the rest of us. Marx was a genius; we others were at best talented. Without him the theory would not be by far what it is today. It therefore rightly bears his name. (Note by Engels, in Chapter IV)

LikeShow More Reactions
Comment

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Palestinians, Zionists, Jews and Israel


Nasir Khan, January 24, 2017

My new facebook friend Phil Clarke said to me in one of his comments, “You seem to think that all Jews and all Israelis are Zionists - that is not an accurate picture.” I will take only this point and add the following few lines:

I do not think that all Jews and Israelis are Zionists. In fact, no person can think so who has any knowledge of the historical background to Israel’s establishment in 1948 and the consequences of this event for the people of Palestine. However, under the incessant barrage of the Zionist propaganda many Jews in Israel become Zionists and believers in their supranational status as the exclusive children of their god, and who have an exclusive right to the whole of Palestine. The captive population of Palestine has no significance in their calculations. Under an apartheid, racist system that exists in Israel as a matter of state policies, they will gradually disappear from the political scene.

The number of Israeli Jews who are still not Zionists or upholders of Zionist outlook is fast shrinking and more and more extreme right-wing militants and fanatic, terrorist settlers are spreading throughout Israel and in the occupied territories.

But there are also Jews who have rejected Zionist plans for an exclusive Jewish state, which in practical terms will be a Zionist state based on the Jewish religious law, more of a prehistoric theocratic state, not a democratic one. The extreme right-wing Zionist rulers of Israel have their sights on such a project.

Among the Jews we reject an anachronistic Zionist state are a few prominent academics and historians, lan pappe, Avi shlaim, Miko Peled, for instance. Besides these, there are some orthodox Jews both in and out of Israel who do not see this Israel the same that was mentioned in the Old Testament.

There are many Zionists in the West and they come from mostly Christian denominations of various types. Such non-Jewish Zionists also come from other religions and rightist forces. In America, they wield much leverage and political clout and influence the US policies in the Middle East, mostly to bolster Israel and ostracise and marginalise the Palestinians. The Zionist organisations operate systematically to advance the Zionist projections through Europe and the rest of the world.

If we take into account all the objective conditions that prevail at present, there can never be any peace in the Middle East as long as Israel has the power over the United States and is able to control its foreign policies with regard to the Middle East. 

In fact, with the new US administration in place under President Trump, Israel will use its power to persuade America to attack Iran, which will inevitably lead to Israel as the only regional superpower in the Middle East. The prospects for any solution to the Palestine issue, according to the U.N. resolutions becomes no more than a pious wish of some noble souls if Israel continues on its dangerous path.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Religious fanaticism versus humanist values


Nasir Khan, January 19, 2017

The only reasonable way to get out of the mindset of religious fanaticism is to turn to humanism and humane values that fanatics fight against. It is true the road is long and hazardous but it is worth trying to explore. If rational people start thinking on these lines, they will also start walking along these lines and they will influence others. Otherwise, we will remain mired in the mud of religious fanaticism and barbarism. 

There are many people who are justifiably afraid of the enormous influence the right-wing forces wield and exploit religions for their nefarious political agendas, communalism, hatred against other religious communities, creeds, oppose social justice and equal socio-political rights for all. These forces are a danger to all and are very active. They are a big danger to all human values, which are foundation stones of modern democratic societies, their organisation and functioning. 

But we should keep in mind that there are also many people who are actively involved in combating and fighting against these forces of darkness and inhumanity. What our friends and sympathisers can do in this struggle is not to become only silent spectators and leave the field open to the fanatics but to side with those who are involved in political struggles against the reactionary forces. 

This work involves, among other activities, using the media for highlighting the harm the fanatics have caused by their indoctrination and falsehoods. This process strengthens the struggle of creating common bonds of humanity and respect for all members of society where the development of all in a fair and democratic way is possible. That means to reject religious fanaticism in all its forms and advance the cause of democratic values and humanism.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Religious fanatics in India and Pakistan


Nasir Khan, January 18, 2017

  (I wrote the following piece in reply to a comment by a Facebook friend.)
  
Both Hindu and Islamic architecture have influenced each other in many ways. By its appearance, Jejuri Temple seems to be a clear example of this interaction in architecture.
Regarding your views on the division of Hindus and Muslims, my reply is: If these people, Hindus and Muslims, regard one another as human beings first where people's religious beliefs are left as their personal matters and nothing more, then a common human and humane bond will emerge that will allow cultural diversity but wherein all people will stand for common humanity and common political, social and economic rights and obligations. 

But in India and Pakistan things are working in the reverse order. In these countries, the first consideration is towards religious identity while what is obviously common, our common humanity and our oneness as human beings, is pushed out of sight! The result is fanatics and fundamentalists in Hindus and Muslims have made living for ordinary people difficult. 

The Hindutva fanatics in India have poisoned the minds of vast numbers of Hindus and have made them anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan by their continuous propaganda. Many feel that is the only way to make India a purely Hindu state by preaching the mantra of Akhand Bharat. There is so much hatred against Muslims and Islam in Indian right-wing Hindus, which I find hard to believe.

In Pakistan, the right-wing religious and political parties have equally viciously poisoned the minds of millions of people for establishing a theocratic state instead of a modern democratic state. 

Consequently, their continuous indoctrination and misleading information against the non-Muslims has relegated religious minorities in Pakistan to a secondary status. The victimisation of some innocent people for having violated the so-called blasphemy laws of Pakistan under concocted charges is a living proof of the cancerous fanaticism and primitive mindset that once flourished in the early middle ages.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

What sort of productive system Marx and Engels saw in Britain


Nasir Khan, January 8, 2017

The following photo is from Victorian England, which in those days had the largest empire in the world. It gives a small glimpse into the living conditions of young children.

Where did the wealth by trade and commercial activity with the colonies and the rest of the world go? Certainly, it didn’t go to the working class people, the poor, the paupers, and their children but only in the coffers of the ruling elite and the bourgeoisie.

Many writers and social historians wrote about the wretched conditions under which the poor and underprivileged people lived. Among them were two friends of German origin, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, who witnessed the condition of the working class and poor people in Britain.

In their prognosis, the expanding capitalist system was based on greed and profit-making, where the social, economic welfare of the working class had no meaning for the owners of means of production and the control they exercised over the process of production.

Such an unjust and inhumane system needed to be replaced by a system where the means of productions were not to be left in the hands of a tiny minority but were held jointly by the majority to create a humane and caring society. Marx and Engels formulated their ideas in their books and papers that form the basis of Scientific Socialism.

Anita Sullivan

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year

Nasir Khan, Dec. 31, 2016

Happy New year to all our readers and friends!

Come, fill the cup, and in the fire of spring
Your winter garment of repentance fling.
The bird of time has but a little way
To flutter – and the bird is on the wing.


— Omar Khayyam