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Vol I Issue 3 January - March, 2013











09 BAACHA KHAN Dr Haider Shah

12 AND I LEFT MY QUETTA Muneeb tahir



22 QUOTES From Members


2 • The Rationalist •

28 GOING PUBLIC Muneeb Tahir


34 PSEUDOSCIENCE Faisal Irshad



26 ZERO DARK THIRTY Dr Salman Hameed

BAACHA KHAN POTRAIT BY BILAWAL KHOSO The beautiful Bachaa Khan Potrait is designed by young, passionate graphic designer Bilawal Khoso. You can see his more work at He tweets as @BilawalKhoso

EDITORIAL The market for conspiracy theories in Pakistan remains insatiable as we continued to see an unending supply of such theories in the last few months. “Supply creates its own demand”, an old discredited Economics law may have some truth in the case of juicy conspiracy theories. The preponderance of such theories, however, also signifies a strong pull factor of demand for all kind of mumbo jumbo in our society. Ajmal Kasab, the infamous lone survivor of Mumbai terrorist attacks and who was hanged in India last month, is the latest addition to the conspiracy theories making rounds in the social networking circles. Not only the title of ‘martyr’ was conferred on him by certain sections of our population, but in few cities his fanatic sympathisers even performed funeral prayers to express their solidarity with the departed soul. The Indian Consulate was asked by Kasab’s family members for handing over of the body for burial in Kasab’s hometown. It is indeed very surprising to see that up till now our security establishment and its spokespersons in the media had been claiming that Kasab was not a Pakistani. When a national TV channel traced his connection back to his home in Punjab, we were kept in the denial mode and the media persons were dubbed as foreign agents who wanted to malign Pakistan’s image. Interestingly same people are now outdoing each other in offering prayers for their deceased hero. If left to these characters, we should not be surprised if the grave of a coldblooded killer is turned into a shrine in no time. Aided by the smokescreen of conspiracy theories, some alarming incidents took place in various parts of Pakistan from the North Western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the Southern commercial capital of Karachi. An observer of the international community finds it hard to believe that the humanitarian cause of eradicating polio virus should irk a certain section of any religious community so much that it would feel no qualms before opening its guns on women health workers and volunteers. But when rationality is on the losing side, any stupidity can rule over us. In many areas of Pakistan some armed miscreants motivated by the misguided clerics, mainly belonging to the Taliban’s sickening ideology, coerced ordinary parents not to cooperate in administration of polio vaccination drops to their children. The clerics propagated through their sermons that the polio vaccine administration was a part of worldwide conspiracy by anti-Islam schemers to cause infertility so that the Muslim population was cut to size. It is pertinent to note that Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the last three countries in the world left with the polio disease while the rest of the world has been able to eradicate this disease through successful vaccination programmes.But instead of doubling our efforts we have amongst us people who are not only discouraging parents from cooperating with vaccination workers but also using militant methods to frustrate the public zeal. Malala Yousufzai, known to the world as an icon of courage and human rights campaign, is now an international celebrity. The young girl with an innocent face from Swat valley got discharged recently from Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, U.K after completion of surgical procedures. Even this child was not spared by the fertile minds of our conspiracy theorists. Sun does not rise from the East and rainwater doesn’t fall due to gravity of earth. You can hardly convince them of anything if they have vowed not to use their brains. It was thus not surprising that they even disputed the fact of Malala being shot by Taliban. The fact that their many claims were extremely self-contradicting never bothers heavily their conscience. Those who were gracious enough to at least acknowledge that she was attacked ominously argued that she was attacked because she was a foreign agent. A third category of theorists, who always believe that the only mission of life of every Westerner is to defame Islam and Pakistan, were quick to claim that an ordinary incident of criminal attack was unnecessarily highlighted by the media so as to malign the image of Islam.Those with a geostrategic interest theorised that the drama was staged to create an excuse to start an operation in North Waziristan Agency against Taliban. While the world increasingly desires to see Malala become the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace prize, our conspiracy theorists feel devastated by mentioning of her name. With the facts unfolding right in the face, still our conspiracy loving theorists take delight by serious puffing of denial. The murders of Bashir Bilour, a prominent political figure and senior minister of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, and Manzar Imam, an MQM MPA, brutal killing of army personnel during a raid on the check-post at Serai Naurang, and many similar incidents are not enough to open their eyes and see the ever increasing monster of militant extremism. Yet from the platform of RSOP, we would like to share our optimism that people in general have begun realising the gravity of situation and are thus raising their voice against militancy. Enough is enough. It is time to speak and act against preachers of hate and violence.

Dr Haider Shah Founder & Patron,

Chief Editor Akif Khan

Managing Editor Anila Athar Hassan

Creative Editor Atif Zeb

Copy Editor Muneeb Tahir

MEMBERS EDITORIAL BOARD •Jawad Hikmatyar (UK) •Bilawal Khoso (PK) •Awais Naeem (PK) •Abubakar Bullo (PK) •Gul Goraya (NL) •Shama Zainab (PK) •Ali Naqvi (UK) •Asjad Bukhari (CA) •Asad Masood (PK) •Arfan Rao (SW) •Zara Khan (UK)

LEGAL EXPERTS COMMITTEE •Mahnaz Nadeem •Umar Khan (UK) •Sanam Khan

MEDIA COORDINATORS Ahmad Waqass Goraya General Secretary (International)/Chief Coordinator Anila Athar Hasan Managing Editor/President (UK Chapter) Muneeb Tahir Online Media Manager Mobeen Ahmed Chughtai Member Media and Publications Committee Akif Khan Chief Editor/President (Pakistan Chapter) The Rationalist • •




“It is I, the King of Kings.” Gilgamesh was his name from the day he was born, two-thirds of him god, but a third of him human,from the epic of Gilgamesh.

The marriage between power and divine (in different forms) is not something new to human society. Whether we read books on ancient Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Indian, Greek and Roman civilizations, or we study the history of organized biblical/monotheistic religions, the footprints of divine or sacred kingships are everywhere. Religion by itself, is an expedient and voluntarily scheme to set up morality, spirituality and social interaction. The synergy religion creates within society can contribute towards progress, but it also has potential to generatebigotry and hatred. Throughout human history, fanatics and extremists have exploited religion as a driving force for some of the worst atrocities. Conquerors, monarchs and warlords justified wars on the base of religious differences or sometimes in an effort to spread their faith. This religiously motivated adventurism has cost millions of human lives. In modern history, 14th to 16th century Renaissance Movements in Europe accomplished significant developments to

4 • The Rationalist •

The honor-system developed by early Muslims to run the society worked for a couple of decades

separate religion from power politics, but

guidelines to progress their souls for

The Encyclopaedia of Islam, the term

still there are miles to go. In some societies,

the betterment of this life and also to

Islamism disappeared completely. The

the distance is in hundreds of miles and in

get the reward from the divine, in life

Orientalist scholars removed this term, as

some, in thousands, but still we are far

after death. According to the Quran, this

it offended Muslim writers and readers.

from better. Although,in the developed

message is the complete and universal

The resurrection and redefinition of

world,the Church has no authority to

version of faith, that was revealed at

Islamism, like its birth, took place in France

govern the state, it still has some influence

many times and places including biblical

in the late 70s, as it started appearing in

and involvement into power politics via

prophets e.g. Abraham, Moses, Jesus etc.

titles of books and articles to describe

political parties, pressure groups and

In Islamic belief, Muhammad (c. 570 – 632)

new Islamic movements and Islam as a


is not the author of Islam, but instead is

political ideology. Retrieval of the term

Islam is a monotheistic belief system

regarded as the last messenger of Allah.

‘islamism’ never went without criticism

articulated by the Qur’an, a text

Islamism:Historically, Western writers used

and most notably by a French historian

considered by Muslims to be the words of

the terms Islamism and Mohammedism

of Islam Maxime Rodinson, stating “If one

Allah (God). It endorses certain moral and

for Islam as a religion and Mohammedans

chooses this term, the reader may become

ethical values to lead a person with the

was an alternate to Muslims. By the turn of

confused between an excited extremist

blend of spirituality and morality. In Islam,

the twentieth century, the term Islamism

who wishes to kill everyone and a

believers (Muslims) need to shape their

replaced by the Arabic term Islam and by

reasonable person who believes in God in

persona according to the prescribed

1938, when Orientalist scholars completed

the Muslim manner, something perfectly

The Rationalist • • 5

In the beginning of the twentieth century, the concepts of modern state changedrapidly;capitalist democracies and socialist states became a reality. respectable.” Parallel to that, American

salvation and he himself is a prophet and

strategy for that time by the Prophet’s most

authors started using the term Islamic

messenger of God, in the same vein as

reliable companions to avoid the battles for

fundamentalism for politically motivated

other prophets e.g. Noah, Abraham,

successors and to progress Muslim society



Joseph, Moses, Jesus etc. Monotheist

after the Prophet’s death.

American authors like, Graham Fuller,

theology and social values preached by

Compared to tribal pagan rituals, Islamic

expressed their disagreement with the

Prophet Muhammad were progressive and

monotheist theology with better social and

term fundamentalism and suggested

different (in some areas), than the pagan

moral norms became a great source for

that “this more recent phenomenon in

tribal traditions of Hijaz. This new religious

early Muslims to unite all tribes of Hijaz

the Muslim world is not so much of an

and social movement stressed the unity of

under one umbrella. Since, these early

old-fashioned theology but it is a current

the Quraysh and that caused division and

Muslims did not have a clear vision and

political ideology” and they suggested

discord. After decades of long struggle, by

examples of the institution of the state;

using the term ‘Islamism’. Because of this, a

means of preaching and battles, in the end

their first model of the state was very much

majority of scholars are now using this term

Prophet Muhammad and his companions

like a tribal honor-system, where the chief

to describe the inflexible ideology of Islamic

managed to convert all Quraysh and other

holds all of the sources of power. The honor-

movements and individuals they believe:

significant neighbouring tribes into Islam,

system developed by early Muslims to run

‘Islam (Islamic state) should rule personal,

they once again united. Although, Prophet

the society worked for a couple of decades.

social and political life of every Muslim

Muhammad’s message brought a number

The reason for their success could possibly

and wherever Muslims are in majority or

of social reforms in Hijaz, it still remained

be the lifelong companionships and direct

they are in governing position, the law of

a tribal society, where the status of an

inspiration by the prophet. But, how

the land must be in conformity with the

individual was determined by what tribe

long this system survived and how it was

Islamic Sharia. Moreover, they believe it is

they were born into. On a socio political

destroyed by civil wars and monarchs – is a

the core duty of every Muslim to spread this

horizon, there was no other tribe wealthier

separate area of history and politics. What

ideology all across the globe. The ultimate

or more powerful than the urban elite of

needs to be identified is, rather a 1400 year

goal is to establish Caliphate (Islamic

Mecca, the Quraysh. Coincidentally, the

old tribal culture of the desert and power

theocratic rule) in the entire planet.’

most reliable and closest friends of the

structure is the core value in the message of

Upon the appearance of Islam, the social

Prophet were also from Quraysh. Aftermath

Islam. Or can this message be separated by

structure of Hijaz was based on tribal

to the death of the Prophet, his closest

tribal traditions and power structure of that

systems, where, every tribe was considered

companions prudently influenced followers

time? In principle, the majority of Muslim

as a separate nation, with some variation

that the caliph (leader/ruler after Prophet

scholars, whether they are Islamists or

in their traditions. In Mecca, the birth place

Muhammad) should come from Quraysh.

reformers, agree that values and guidelines

of Islam, Quraysh was a powerful merchant

This proposal was supposedly backed with

of Islam are core, not the tribal culture.

tribe, that controlled the area and it’s Kaaba

the words of Prophet Muhammad. In fact

The differences begin when you identify,

(the holiest shrine of the region). Prophet

during that time, the people of Hijaz were

what is desert culture and what are the

Muhammad was born into the Banu Hashim

not aware of anyone’s political leadership

fundamental values and norms of Islam.

clan of the Quraysh tribe. When he was

except that of the Quraysh and they had

Traditionalists perceive the majority of tribal

in his late 30s, he periodically went off in

the popular support of the masses, and

traditions of that time as fundamentals of

isolation to a cave in the surrounding

no tribe could challenge this position.

Islam, and they drive principles of an Islamic

mountains for days. At the age of forty,

History witnessed that all four Caliphs of

state from that tribal power structure. This

sitting in the cave, he reported receiving his

Rashidun and four major Muslim dynasties

is the source from where Islamists get the

first revelation from God. Three years after

after that established their legitimacy on

argument to justify amalgamation of power

the first revelation, he started preaching

the basis of this. Evidently, this was not

politics and Islam. Contrary to that, generally

these revelations publicly: God is one and

the divine rule to impose one ‘chosen’ tribe

the subject of the Quran is not state or

submitting to Allah is the only way for

on all others. Rather, it was the pragmatic




6 • The Rationalist •

politics at all. Character building of

new millennium, they become each other’s

individuals is the main topic of the Quran.


It provides moral values for how humans

Establishment of an Islamic theocratic

should behave in family, as well as,in society.

state to implement Sharia (figh) law is the

In Islam, the idea of blending politics with

main objective of Islamists. However, they

religion was initiated during the first Muslim

have no direct support from the Quran to

dynasty. Although Muslim monarchs of 7th

aspire this utopia. Other than a few general

and 8th centuries were not considered as

guidelines, the Quran is silent on politics and

spiritual or religious leaders, with the help

statecraft. It provides some fundamentals

of early Muslim clergy,they systematically

on which society may be built, with the

narrowed down the concept of Jihad into

assurance of equality and social justice. It

holy war. That was the time when under

does not,however,endorse or sanction any

the influence of monarchs, Muslim clerics

particular form of government, including

produced tons of literature that provided

theocracy and neither does it demand to

religious cover up for rulers to invade foreign

create an Islamic state. Contrary to that,

lands as part of Jihad. Although, those

it encourages individuals to follow the

hostile Jihadi ideas never went without

morals and values mentioned in the book.

criticism and disagreement,the opposing

Islamists endorse Shariah law as divine and

voices suffered persecutions and had a

insist all Muslims to oppose man made

hard time reaching the masses, compared

laws and struggle to enforce this law. This

to the voices from the courtyards. Some

is nevertheless fraudulent claim, as Shariah

opposing intellectuals argued on the bases

laws are also man made and developed

of rationality and some tried to use mystic

by Muslim jurists (Imams) gradually (in

routes to highlight the tolerant and human

their personal capacity) in the centuries

side of Islam. After establishing the empire,

after the Prophet’s time. These laws are



somewhat based on oral traditions of the

certain distance between state matters and

Prophet’s time. These traditions (hadith)

religion, but from time to time, they used

were documented from verbal history, after

Islam for their political purpose as well.

two to three centuries of the Prophet’s

However, in the beginning of the twentieth

death. In these compilations, not only is the

century, the concepts of modern state

margins of error high, but also most of them

changed rapidly;capitalist democracies and

are 1400 year old tribal customs of that

socialist states became a reality. In reaction

time, instead of divine laws. These laws are

to this, some of the Muslim world authors

not written in the Quran. Most interesting is

like, Syed Qutab of Muslim Brotherhood in

the fact that, there are dozens of versions of

Egypt and Syed Maududi of Jamat Islami

these Shariah laws. Some versions of these

inPakistan went in search of a modern

laws were adapted by Muslim rulers,and

Islamic theocratic state. These authors

some were practiced by individuals in their

not only produced the literature,but

personal lives,while some just stay in the

they also launched political movements

books. This is the prevalent problem with

to achieve the dream of an Islamic state.

Islamists;they greet the personal opinions

During the Cold War era, USA and other

of 8th and 9th centuries Imams as a divine





and integral part of Islam, while completely

relatively unpopular Islamist movements,



ignoring the realities and needs of the

as useful barricades against the spread

different time and space, that makes these

of communist political movements in the

man made Shariah laws irrelevant to the

Muslim world. They supported and invested

present time.

Our species needs, and deserves, a citizenry with minds wide awake and a basic understanding of how the world works.


heavily on these Islamist authors and their movements, to suppress liberal and socialist

The author is founding member of RSOP/

Muslim thoughts. Afghan Jihad of 80’s, was

social activist and information management

the climax of that unholy marriage between

professional, he can be reached via

capitalists and Islamists. After the climax

of an unnatural friendship,in the start of The Rationalist • • 7

8 • The Rationalist •

Work of young, passionate graphic designer Bilawal Khoso. You can see his more work at He tweets as @BilawalKhoso


the Pashtun rationalist legend


have one great dream, one

blind himself by his hatred for any group

great longing.

of people and was always ready to adopt

Like flowers in the desert,

good things from those he considered



political enemies. Most of his young life

bloom for a while with nobody to look


was spent in jail due to his bitter opposition

after them, wither, and return to the dust

of British rule in India. Still Baacha Khan

they came from.

drew his earliest inspiration of serving

I want to see them share each other’s

the community selflessly from Reverend

sorrow and happiness. I want to see them

Mr. E.F.F Wigramwho was the headmaster

work together as equal partners. I want to

of the Edwardes Memorial Mission High

see them play their national role and take

School in Peshawar and was serving the

their rightful place among the nations

local community. His strong ego was also

of the world, for the service of God and

evident very early on as he refused the


then prestigious commission in an elite

These are the kind of dreams that Baacha

corps of Pashtun soldiers of the British Raj

Khan wanted to turn into reality. As we

after he saw that the local officers were

are giving coverage to noted rationalists

not treated well by their British seniors.

of Pakistan, in particular, and the Muslim

He might have followed the footsteps

world, in general, the story will never be

of his elder brother and proceeded to

complete if Baacha Khan’s name does

London for higher studies but his mother

not appear at the very top. Named Abdul

begged him not to go and he dropped

Ghaffar Khan by his father Behram Khan,

the idea. Perhaps destiny had earmarked

a local landlord of Hashtnagar, Uthmanzai

an altogether different mission for this tall

village, Charsadda, he is more famous

young Pashtun. Living among his villagers

by the names given by the people that

he experienced a kind of nirvana without

saw a saint in him. A living legend of his

sitting under any particular tree. Budha

own times he was better known asBaacha

began reformation by spreading his





message of nirvana in different lands and

Fakhr-e-Afghan (Pride of Afghans) and


preaching self-control over ambitions as

Sarhaddi Gandhi (Frontier Gandhi).Like a

the key to happiness. Baacha Khan set out

true rationalist BaachaKhan did not see

reforming his society by educating it as

BAACHA KHAN AS A CONSCIENTIOUS AND PRINCIPLED ANTI-IMPERIALIST In 1926 when Baacha Khan’s father died the local mullahs turned up in expectation of alms. But after consulting the gathered villagers he declared that the alm of 2000 rupees would go to the school instead of mullahs

the world in black and white. He didn’t

The Rationalist • • 9

a socio-political activist. While other men

would refrain from retaliation.

feet yet. Look at their standard of living and

of his age were either busy in romances or

In 1926 when Baacha Khan’s father died

then take a look at ours”.

settling scores through vendetta, the young

the local mullahs turned up in expectation

Not only the followers of Baacha Khan

Baacha khan at 20, opened his first school

of alms. But after consulting the gathered

showered him with boundless love and

in Utmanzai which proved so successful

villagers he declared that the alm of 2000

respect but his name became dear to all

that other villages also began inviting him

rupees would go to the school instead

freedom loving leaders of India and other

to do the same there. Thus was born one

of mullahs. Soon afterwards Baacha Khan

countries of the world. God also seemed

of the most significant political movements

went for Hajj with his wife and sister. In

to be generous in bestowing honour on

of the sub-continent with the name of

Mecca he attended a conference of Islamic

Baacha Khan. His sons also made names

KhudaiKhidmatgar (Servants of God).


nations but as an honest rationalist he got

in different walks of life. Abdul Ghani Khan

Baacha Khan we see the combination of

disillusioned by the constant bickering of

became a noted artist and philosopher

spirits of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan as a social

leaders over theological differences. When

poet of Pashto whose poetry has gained

reformer through education and of Gandhi

Baacha Khan returned he formed a Youth

international fame and translated in many

as a political leader using non-violent protest

League of graduates of his Azad schools

languages. Abdul Wali Khan became one of

as a strategic tool. Not surprisingly, Baacha

with a view to launching social and political

the most prominent nationalist progressive

Khan soon emerged as one of the most

reforms. One of the central objectives was

leaders of Pakistan and the third son,

formidable enemies of the British Raj who

the uplift of women in a society dominated

Abdul Ali Khan distinguished himself as an

considered his politicisation of Pashtuns

by male chauvinist prejudices . Unlike

academic and remained the Vice Chancellor

a dangerous development. Through local

many hypocritical leaders, Baacha Khan

of the Peshawar university

khans and religious leaders the British

always began every change from his own

A few pages in this journal can do no

rulers felt that the North Western Frontier

household. True to his conviction, Baacha

justice to the greatness of a man who was a

region did not pose a serious threat to the

Khan’s sisters, therefore, became leaders of

“match to his mountains” as his biographer

British rule and hence they could focus their

the women empowerment movement and

EknathEaswaran calls him. I have tried to

energies on maintaining the Congress less

began touring various districts and giving

shed some light on the rationalist side of

independence movement. Baacha Khan

speeches- a daring break with the taboos

that political and social warrior and reformer.

was changing all that and was repeatedly

ridden Pashtun society. To help spread his

Through this we pay tribute to a legend of

jailed and then was exile from NWFP. The

reformation message, Baacha Khan, like Sir

rationalist humanism who unfortunately

combined cause of freedom movement and

Syed’s ‘Tehzeeb-ul-Ikhlaq’ magazine started

spent most of his life in jails or in exile, at

non-violence disciplined approach brought

a Pashto journal ‘Pushtun’which proved

the hands of British colonial rulers before

Baacha Khan and Gandhi together which

an instant success containing articles on

1947 and Pakistani establishment after

lasted till the British left in 1947.

hygiene and social issues. Many authors


Baacha Khan, as a conscientious and



My head falls in shame that Baacha

principled anti-imperialist politician, is well

For instance, one female author bitterly

Khan’sdream of transforming the Pahtun

known. To me the rationalist reformer side

complained that “Except for the Pashtun,

society into a humanist secular society

of his personality is even more appealing.

the women have no enemy.He is clever

where no discrimination on the basis of

Challenging a cruel despot is easier path to

but is ardent in suppressing women…O

faith or gender is permissible remains a

follow compared to challenging the tyranny


dream. Today girls schools are being

of social norms and customs. Baacha Khan

freedom, why do you deny it to women?”

bombed and polio vaccination workers are

had the courage and sagacity of fighting the

Baacha Khan was also aware of the fact

being killed in broad day light. Women

battle on two fronts. The proud Pashtun had

that for long the religious identity of

continue to be marginalised not just by

a pacifist spirit inside a formidable built. He

Pashtuns subsumed their national identity

religious extremists but also by the cultural

not only promoted the cause of education

and freedom struggles were mostly led by

norms. Perhaps all Pashtuns need a bit of

but also went a step further by challenging

religious leaders in the Pashtun society. He

introspection and soul searching if they

the cultural norm that an ordinary Pashtun

wanted to create a distinct political identity

genuinely want to pay tribute to the legend

took for granted as the essence of the

of Pashtuns that did not rely heavily upon

that was Baacha Khan.

Pashtun code; the cult of violent revenge.

religious affiliation. Once he said “ You have

Baacha Khan taught his followers that love

heard of America and Europe. The people in

can create more in a second than bombs

those countries may not be very religious,

“ Haider

can destroy in a century. This is not less than

but they have a sense of patriotism, love for

a miracle that the people who were known

their nation, and social consciousness. And

for vendetta on slightest excuse became

look at the progress that has been made

examples of non-violence in politics and

there. Then take a look at ourselves ! We

would swallow insult and provocations but

have hardly learned to stand on our own

10 • The Rationalist •






Shah is the founding member of Rationalist Society of Pakistan. He teaches Public Policy at University of Hertsfordshire, UK. He can be reached at


Mrugank Bhatt was born in 1970 at Porbandar (Gujarat), revolted and chose Fine Arts. You can reach him at

The Rationalist • • 11



This Article is being published again due to some errors



died today when masked

belonging to various ethnicities who

four mountains. It has been historically

gunmen opened fire on a

migrated to Quetta during different

inhabited by Pashtuns and Brahvis [with

bus carrying Shia pilgrims

periods of time in search of better

Hazaras, Punjabis, Seraikis and Urdu

in the suburbs of Quetta,

economic future. The irony is that the

speakers being relatively newcomers in

4 died today on Prince Road when two

Afghans who migrated to Quetta in the

the city’s demographic reality]. If Karachi

unidentified motorcyclists threw a hand

aftermath of soviet invasion have fully

is a mini Pakistan then Quetta could

grenade on a “settler’s” shop!

assimilated in the social order and are now

rightfully hold the title of being called

Yes, this is the everyday story of my

recognized as “locals”. This unfortunate

mini Karachi.

unfortunate city, my lost Eden and I am (as

lot on the other hand which is called by

I remember growing up in this regional

they call me) a “Punjabi-settler”. Although,

a slang (to me at least it is) “settlers”, after

hotpot of diverse cultures. The beauty

my family had been living in Balochistan

living side by side with the “locals” for

of Quetta is that it entails tinge of other

since the year 1900 but still the “locals”

more than a century, is still not recognized

regional cultures from Pakistan’s western

weren’t benevolent enough to ingress us

as people who belong to this land.

frontiers (Iran, Afghanistan and as far

into the fold of being “locals”. This is the

The name Quetta is derived from the

in the North West as Central Asia). The

story of many alike.

Pashto word “Kwatta”, which means a fort,

strange fact is that even with all this

“Settlers” is a wider group of migrants

the city itself is in a “bowl” hemmed in by

diversity; Quetta is still an immaculate

12 • The Rationalist •

Quetta to me, is a unique cultural and social experiment, many ethnicities living in this valley contribute to a larger “Quettian” culture. ” the summer, buying carpets, crockery, dirt cheap electronic appliances and Ah! Delicious dry fruits. Its picnic spots like Hanna Lake, stunningly beautiful and full of contrasts Urak and Karkhassa valleys were a source of tourist attraction in summer for people from all around the nation. Local businesses boomed and gradually Quetta was coming at par with other metropolitans of the country, purchasing power of people was improving and a well-educated intelligentsia model of how a culturally diverse society

Culture is a unique social phenomenon

started to emerge which aspired to explore new

could yield something so distinctive and

which becomes richer and inclusive


beautiful than a monoculture society ever

whenever it comes in contact with other

Those were the best times of my life and of any


cultures, taking their influence.

Quettian for that matter.

Quetta to me, is a unique cultural and

Quetta was a city which remained calm and

Hope was ripe but then something happened,

social experiment, many ethnicities

peaceful even when other metropolitans

Nawab Mohummad Akbar Shehbaz Khan Bugti

living in this valley contribute to a larger

of the country were wrecked with havoc

was murdered in cold blood by a dictator who

“Quettian” culture. This reinforces the

in the 90’s. I remember the liberty this city

called him a traitor to the motherland.

narrative of liberal quarters of Pakistani

offered to its inhabitants, men and women

This personality, whose role was instrumental in

society that a rigid monolithic culture

alike, when its streets were filled up with

efforts for Balochistan’s succession to Pakistani

forced upon various regional ethnicities is

families strolling late at nights, its bazars

federation and who also played a wide role in

the real cause for weakening of Pakistani

jam packed with vacationers and tourists

acceptance of 1973’s constitution as a fundamental

federation instead of its strengthening.

from Punjab and other parts of Pakistan in

social contract was brutally executed by the

The Rationalist • • 13

protectors of “ideological” and geographical

be freedom), neutrality meant silent support

themselves equally as Balochistani as any

boundaries of the Islamic republic, the same

of the oppressors-which most Punjabis

other, killed in vain.

republic for whose cause, Late Nawab Sahib

adopted (this was a huge mistake as I will

Even a Pro Vice Chancellor of Balochistan

fought with all his voice.

reflect upon at the end). Initially, Balochistan

university was murdered by the same people

The irony was that the person who gave

Liberation Army (BLA) started to drop

claiming their killing trophies after each

Nawab Sahib the title of being a “traitor”,

manifestos giving two choices to Punjabis;

“triumph” over the helpless, unarmed and

himself qualified for this title under article 6

either give your daughters in marriages to

innocent people.

of the Constitution of Pakistan, for abrogating

locals or leave Balochistan. There was no third

A time came ultimately when the life for any

the constitution and revolting against a

choice, only the absent announcement of

Punjabi-“settler” in Quetta, became paralytic.

government elected by the people of Pakistan

certain death in the event of failing to select

Mobility itself became an issue and frequent

(that too by a 2/3rd majority).

from any of the two choices.

grenade attacks on residences of Punjabis

Great upheaval followed and I for the first time

Soon after, target killings started. None

started. This was a city once deemed so

saw widespread ethnic violence in Quetta

was spared; barber shops became the

peaceful that people didn’t even bother to

since I became conscious of my surroundings,

favorite killing fields for the killers because

close the doors to their houses. Going outside

in the aftermath of this travesty of justice in

they normally housed labor from Punjab.

the houses out of extreme necessity would

epic proportions. Balochistan was burning

Afterwards many lower middle class school

bear no surety that the individual would

and the dictator was busy in burying the

teachers were targeted and killed. The

come back alive. It was like marauding hordes

body (whose presence in the coffin is still

statements claiming responsibility (claiming

reigned supreme, stealing innocent people

ambiguous) of Nawab Sahib along with many

killing trophies) after each of these killings

of their most valued possessions, “their lives”!

other secrets. Those were strange times; the

came from an “undisclosed location via

It was then my family decided to vacate the

people I held dearest to my heart started

satellite phone” and the addressee would

land we called our’s land for over a century,

becoming aliens and ignoring me because of

usually be newspaper offices.

the land in whose heart our elders slept their

my ethnicity.

The excuse for each act of slaughter would

eternal slumber.

I remember an incident with one of my best

be the same, “They were killed because they

Now the repatriated Punjabi “settlers” like

friends at school. He had suddenly started

were spying for Pakistani secret agencies” and

me, face a dual dilemma not only we have no

attending public gatherings of Sardar Akhter

every time I used to hear this I fell deep into

hope for returning back to our true homeland

Jan Mengal, who now seems to have the

the bitter memories from the past of my 13

i.e. Balochistan, but also aren’t we accepted

softest core take on Balochistan issue, but

years old Mengal friend telling me, he can’t

here in Punjab, many face extreme economic

in the absence of radical separatist forces

tell me about the happenings in a public

problems. The struggle for an identity of

like Balochistan Republican Party (BRP)

demonstration because I would spy for the

Punjabi “settlers” has just begun.

and Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF),


Did the Punjabis not go wrong anywhere?

Balochistan National Movement (BNM) those

Technical and Professional Education Sector

This is the fundamental question many would

days, his Balochistan National Party (Mengal)

became the favorite “target site” for these

ask, after reading this story of mine. I would

was the most rigid voice from the province.

“unidentified men” in the later stages.

try answering that with an anecdote.

When I along with another ethnically Punjabi

Lecturers and veteran Professors were

My father always used to explain it to me

speaking friend asked about the proceedings

ruthlessly slaughtered daily in the streets

(when the state of affairs was still normal)

of the public gathering out of general curiosity

of Quetta and the city’s roads washed with

that, “Son always stand alongside the people

once, his response was blunt and cold as ice,

innocent blood. Many of these dedicated

of this land in their every ebullient and

“why would I tell two Punjabis about the

individuals had spent all their lives in this

disconsolate moment, which has given you

happenings at our Jalsa, So that you guys

land illuminating the decades old darkness

roof over your head, food which you eat and

could spy on us for the agencies?”- [incidents

unleashed by ignorance of the masses and

a life which could be the envy of many, for

of target killings had not gained momentum

sheer rejection from the central government,

these are the people who will stand beside

by then].

with knowledge (many of whom I personally

you in every moment of your hardship.” I

For two 13 years old kids that meant a great


could just wish now that there were more

deal to hear from their closest friend. I am still

It was not that they could not pursue better

fathers from my community, saying this to

perplexed when I attempt to contemplate

career goals elsewhere in the country

their sons and daughters.

that how could such an immense amount of

(specially Punjab) or lacked opportunities, but

We as a people did bitterly fail in doing so at

hate be induced into the mind of a 13 year

the level of commitment in these individuals

the scale our land asked from us. The brutality

old, which makes him loathe his own best

who wanted to give back something to the

of time and lack of this realization took all


land they were born and raised in, kept them

from me (and many others) AND I LEFT MY

This was the turning point, lines were drawn.

going. These poor souls got naught, but their


You were either with the “oppressors” or with

families did get their bullet riddled bodies


the Baloch national cause (that happened to

questioning why they were, who deemed

14 • The Rationalist •


The Rationalist • • 15


A GLOBAL CRISIS HUMNA AYUB cross the world, depression has been the main contributor to

Depression can be reliably identified and treated in the presence

the burden of disease. It is estimated, that around

of primary care facilities. According to the guide lines given by

350 million have been affected by depression. A

WHO, depression treatment consists of psychological support with

study conducted by World health survey in around

medication. Psychotherapy could also be used, which includes


17 countries concluded, that on average 1 out

interpersonal psychotherapy, cognitive behavior therapy and

of 20 people were affected by depression in the previous year.

problem solving therapy. Antidepressant medicines can be very

Depressive disorder usually starts at a young age. It reduces the

effective form of treatment for moderate and severe depression,

functioning of people and is also recurring. Just because of this

but in case of mild depression, therapies are recommended. Other

reason, depression has been the leading disability, which uses up

than both these treatments,self help based programs have shown

most the time lost in one’s life. Globally, the demand to curb it has

some positive results. Self help books and internet based help

been on the rise.

have been able to treat depression, as shown in various studies in

Depression is a mental disorder that is categorized by disturbed

western countries.

sleep, low self worth, decreased energy, feeling of guilt and loss

Lack of trained personnel; lack of resources and social stigma

of interest. Many times depression

associated with different

comes with symptoms of anxiety.

mental disorders have

These problems can impair one’s

been the main barriers to

ability to undertake daily activities,

the provision of effective

if it turns out to be chronic.

care in different countries.

Depression can also lead toward

These barriers pose a

suicide in its worst stage. In this

great deal of threat to the

world, almost 1 million people

global health. To counter

commit suicide every year.

these barriers, there have

A person can suffer from multiple

been different strategies,

variations of depression. Depressive

which could yield better

episode mostly involves, depressed

results if used. Some of

mood, increased fatigability, loss

the economic analysis

of interest and enjoyment, as the

done shows, that dealing

main symptoms. A depressive

with depression on a

episode can be classified as mild,

primary level can be cost

modest or severe. A person who

effective; affordable and

is affected by mild depression, will

feasible. The prevention

continue to work normally, but will

of depression is also an

have some problem executing it,

important side to be

whereas, in the extreme case, the

looked upon.

related person won’t be able to


undertake normal activities.


For both males and females,

enveloping this world

depression is the major cause for

casting negative effects

the disability, but females are 50%






on humanity. A solution

more affected than males. Both in the high and low income

to eradicate this disorder through an effective treatment is present

countries, depression is the principle cause behind disease in

to improve the living condition of people around the world. It is

women. Research done in developing countries shows, that

the time to educate ourselves about depression and support

the main reason for poor growth in the young people may be

those, who are suffering from it, on an individual, community and

depression. 16 • The Rationalist •

national level.

The writer Humna Ayub is a graduate student of Psychology at GCU Lahore.



Director: Ang Lee Writers: David Magee (screenplay), Yann Martel (novel) Stars: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Adil Hussain “I was sitting in this coffee house and this old man at the table

attending to the tiger’s needs. Although, they both survive, the

next tome struck up a conversation with me.Hesaid that you have

meaning behind the journey is up to the audience. Some can

a story, which would make me believe in God.”

interpret it to be human’s resilience to survive, and others fate.

Based on the best-selling novel, with an academy award winning

The movie however, tends to point at an interesting theme, with

director, Life of Pi is visually stunning and mentally thrilling.The

its twist ending. When Piis found on shore, he is asked by officials

film starts with an Indian man named Pi Patel, living in Montreal,

what happened. After Pi tells his story, the officials believe it is

Canada, telling his story to a local writer. Although, Pi narrates

a lie, and so,he is forced to tell a different version of the same

of his younger years in India and his fascination with multiple

story. The second story has the same turn of events, but involves

religions, the focus of his story revolves around his journey as a

humans and is more emotionally disturbing. The twist ending

16-year-old, who’s shipwrecked at sea with a small boat and a

shows, how story-tellers can embellish reality in order to bring

Bengali tiger. During Pi’s journey, he does everything and any-

out a deeper meaning. In the end, it is the audience that is left to

thing to survive, but also shows his humane side by constantly

decide, which truth they prefer, much like their belief in God.

The author is a freelance journalist and new media specialist, she can be reached via

The Rationalist • • 17




With the world hit by financial crisis and value of property and other assets dropping substantially, we have a big question before us; what is our self worth? Can our personal worth be calculated only

in terms of our material possessions, which can appreciate and depreciate any time by the circumstances beyond our control and thus manipulate the quality of our lives. Or, whether our peace of mind and equilibrium of our life is in the hands of our material possessions only? Moreover, another question arises that whether it is all erroneous due to our wrong perception of self worth as we measure it in material context only while excluding our personaity. Hence in case some crisis takes place, not only does it change the face of economies but it also affects people’s lives as well. As somebody’s material desires are compromised his self-worth also diminishes alongwith his self esteem. When our most measurable possessions are suddenly taken away, we seem to lose our ability to live without them. There is such a high emotional attachment to one’s possessions that a feeling of helplessness creeps in. But why? After all earlier man survived without any amenities. He found creative ways for survival. While he was short of food, had no clothing and no shelter. He operated from the knowledge that he carried with him to overcome challenges of day to day life. Then, what is the reason which compels us to measure our self worth in terms of material possessions only? One need that dominates all of our other needs is the desire of approval from other people and society. We seek approval by looking good, having a beautiful home, good saving, better social status and so on. We depend on others to give us a sense of selfworth. In order to fulfill the need to fit in people’s expectations we try to gain material success, fame and money.

18 • The Rationalist •

And gradually this urge propels us to

basic survival needs such as food, shelter

climb higher up the social ladder. Our

and clothing.

efforts translate into success and our basic

People with low self-esteem do not feel

needs graduate into indulgence. Our basic

comfortable in being themselves. So they

need for a house grow into the need for

cover up who they are. One of the chief

a larger house and then desire to have

manifestations of this cover-up is creating

a best address in town, for that we even

a false self with the help of material

resort to unethical means in a bid to get

objects. Even high achievers often fuel

approval. So ultimately the constant search

their actions by the need to earn society’s

for validation of our real personal self-

approval. According to psychotherapists

worth exhausts and debilitate, making us

“Those aspiring to be the center of

dependent on others to feel good about

attention actually have rock-bottom self-

ourselves and the constant waiting for

esteem. When your self-esteem is high,

positive affirmation restricts our personal

you can accept yourself as you are, as you

growth. Later we start accumulating

don’t need to prove anything.

material things at the expense of personal

Our personal self worth correlates

growth. Our material possessions become

with rationality, realism, intuitiveness,

an integral part of our identity and thus

creativity, independence, flexibility, ability

we enter into an unending vicious circle.

to manage change, willingness to admit

In fact, we become victims of our own

and correct mistakes, benevolence and


cooperation. Similarly, lack of personal

Although, it would not be wise to deny the

self worth correlates with irrationality,

value of material things as well as personal

blindness to reality, rigidity, fear of the new

accomplishments that are required to

and unfamiliar, inappropriate conformity

lead a good life and to curve a good


future for our next generations. But the

defensiveness, an overly compliant or

biggest question is that how much is too

controlling behavior, and fear or hostility

much and at what cost? And whether it

towards others.

should be at the cost of personal growth?

The best method to develop self-worth is

And can material growth substitute our

to develop oneself into a human resource

personal growth? And what is the cost of

by developing one’s intellect. This is

not striking a balance between material

the only way of creating self worth. It is

growth and personal growth? Is it not true

entirely personal and realization of true

that lack of personal growth results in a

source of our usefulness and value, that

poor self esteem and a high self esteem

can only be measured by the strength of

is an integral component of life same as

one’s intellect and a strong mind and not

food, clothing and shelter?

by our personal possessions. Hence even

Our self esteem is connected with our

if value of our property and other assets

relationship with ourselves. The higher

drops substantially what remains intact is

our self esteem is, the better we feel about

the value of our wisdom or the knowledge

ourselves. That relationship determines

within us. It is this love for ‘self’ that gives

everything about our lives and every

us the basic material to overcome difficult

personal crisis, we face, is ultimately

circumstances and create miracles in life.

caused by inadequate self-esteem, which

So investment in oneself and giving time

is the result of lack of personal self-worth.

to oneself for personal growth leads to

The well-known psychologist Abraham

development of a human being who has a

Maslow, who charted out a hierarchy of

high self-esteem and a real understanding

human needs, placed self-esteem above

of self-worth.


The best method to develop self-worth is to develop oneself into a human resource by developing one’s intellect.


Raajan Soni is a practicing lawyer at Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chandigarh, India. He can be reached at

The Rationalist • • 19

Photo taken of Nujood by Stephanie Sinclair for the National Geographic Magazine

Iman Bukhari is a freelance journalist and new media specialist, she can be reached via 20 • The Rationalist •



Book Review by Iman Bukhari “I’m a simple village girl who has always obeyed the orders of my father and brothers. Since forever, I have learned to say yes to everything. Today I have decided to say no.” A compelling memoir written by a 10 year old girl in Yemen who was forced by to marry a man three times her age, due to her poor family’s fear that their young daughter may become a rape victim, like her older sister. Her husband had promised her father that he wouldn’t consummate the marriage until she had reached puberty, but began daily raping her starting on the wedding night. She was also regularly beaten by her husband and in-laws. Although Yemeni law allows girls of any age to be wed, it forbids sexual intercourse until they have reached puberty. In regards to why child marriages are permissible to begin with, Nujood commented stating it’s not a major concern in Yemen due to religious reasons. Nujood escaped two months after her wedding by the advice of her father’s

Yemeni law allows girls of any age to be wed, it forbids sexual intercourse until they have reached puberty. ”

second wife, and went directly to court to seek a divorce. “Where’s the judge? I want a divorce!” With no money, no education, nor understanding of the law, she was lucky enough to find a lady lawyer and judges who were sympathetic to her cause. On April 15, 2008, Nujood Ali was granted the first divorce given to a child bride in Yemen, and has since then served as an inspiration to other child brides. New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof, impressed by Nujood’s courage

wrote in his article Divorced Before Puberty stating “The United States last month announced $150 million in military assistance for Yemen to fight extremists. In contrast, it costs just $50 to send a girl to public school for a year — and little girls like Nujood may prove more effective than missiles at defeating terrorists.” Kistof is the same journalist who brought Malala Yousafzai in limelight.

The Rationalist • • 21


QUOTES Quotations compiled from discussions at Facebook Group of RSOP.


A man’s sexuality is something that he and he alone should be burdened with, not a woman. Maija Athena



22 • The Rationalist •

Saudi Arabia and other GCC states are more loathsome towards Iran than Israel but please keep it to


yourself. Ashfaq Sheikh

“Girl announced to resume her education without any fear”. I think this will make a perfect definition of “Liberal Fascism” for our people. Yasir Malik


There is no gas, no power, no economy and it has a direct causative relationship with drones and it’s all Malala’s fault. Only if she didn’t get shot in the head by my poor Taliban brethren, we would have been able to make enough electricity to give it to Afghanistan and moreover electrocute women rights workers The greatest differ- with that same electricity. ence between sci- Mariam Goraya ence and pseudoscience is, in first you get Rationalist Society Of Pakistan straight answer while in second Facebook Group: you are taken round and round Facebook Page: and you never get the answer. Twitter: Nehal Vaidya Ek hon Muslim harram ki pasbani k liye, Neel k Sahil se le kr Tabkhak-e-Kashghar! I hope Iqbal is not talking about the harems of Sheikhs. Akif Khan




The Rationalist • • 23




alvation, it seems, is finally at hand. An article

he added.

published in the latest edition of the prestigious

Whether it is pure religion or even purer science, filthy lucre from

New Haven Journal of Metaphysical Anomalies and

the world of global finance or rich traditions from an ancient

Scientific Theology informs us that Professor Allan

heritage, a closed mind can overcome and enhance anything,

Bloom might have been right after all but not in the

thus leading to self-righteousness and egotism (which can easily

way he had imagined. The title of his famous book, The Closing

be passed off as self-confidence and self-assurance). This attitude

of the American Mind, hinted at the truth that is now verified

also enables one to pity others for their belief systems and

and institutionalized at a small elite center 73 miles northwest

bestows one with a feeling of superiority and delusion about one’s

of Reykjavik. Linked to the prominent journal and run by a

own greatness.

group of science coordinators and theological technicians, the

“Our research has conclusively shown that thinking frequently

Metaphysical Anomalies and Scientific Theology Institute (MASTI)

leads to vulgarity, obscenity and lack of morality,” said the other

has discovered that mankind can achieve nirvana only through

principal co-investigator. “Questioning leads to uncertainty and

the closing of the human mind.

creates confusion. We must appreciate the fact that there is

“A perfectly closed mind is one that encourages peace by ensuring

no room for doubt in a closed mind…therefore, no resulting

that all cerebral activity takes place in a vacuum,” said the principal


co-investigator of the research that led to this discovery. “This

Welcoming the research, former US Vice President Dan Quayle

mental state allows one to view all problems through a single

repeated his famous quote: “What a waste it is to lose one’s mind.

black-and-white lens, thereby making them incredibly easy to

Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is,”

solve. In order to achieve this state, one must begin in earnest by

proving once again that a closed mind works best when coupled

trying to be as narrow-minded as possible. Strict adherence to this

with a closed mouth.

will eventually lead to a state where not even light can enter (or

The research has won acclaim far and wide and is being embraced

escape) the closed sanctity of one’s mind. Never forget: the mind

with open arms by governments, multinationals, military

is simply a tool… you must allow it to turn you into one as well,”

forces, religious organizations, robber barons, scientific and

24 • The Rationalist •

academic communities, terrorist outfits, self-awareness movements, marketing campaigns, and even twentysomething liberal artists all over the world.

writes for The News, Tehelka and Friday Times. He can be followed at @faridalvie

Farid Alvie is a veteran journalist and writer. He

What a waste it is to lose one’s mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is”


The Rationalist • • 25

ZERO DARK THIRTY There cannot be a spoiler for this film. Zero Dark Thirty is about the efforts to track Osama Bin Laden. The movie has already garnered a lot of controversy over its depiction of role of torture in procuring information that led to the Bin Laden’s compound in Abottabad (or as the Americans like to call it, “Batabatabad”!). The film - whether one likes it or not - is important. It is going to shape the story of the hunt for Bin Laden. It is certainly not a triumphant film. But then, it is not exactly a documentary either. Instead, it is a tout action film. 26 • The Rationalist •

If the torture theme touched a raw nerve in the US , we have to wonder how it is going to play out for Pakistani audiences. The news so far is that it will not not be shown in the movie theaters in Pakistan . I watched the movie at Times Square , New York , on its opening night. It was an intense experience. At one point, the film talked about Pakistani-American, Faisal Shahzad, and his plans to blow up Times Square . A chill went through my spine. But while the movie portrays a somewhat complicated picture of America ‘s “war on terror”, the depictions


of Pakistan are still quite bland and narrow. Just like the recent film, Argo, there are no real sympathetic local characters (other than in the role of a loyal servant or a subordinate agent). Ultimately, is the film worth seeing? I sit down with a film professor at University of Massachusetts , Amherst , to review the merits of the “Zero Dark Thirty” as a thriller, as a drama, and as a political tinderbox. Here is our “Film Autopsy” of “Zero Dark Thirty”:

autopsy.html Dr. Salman Hameed is an astronomer and Assistant Professor of Integrated Science & Humanities at Hampshire College, Massachusetts. He also writes on the blog “Irtiqa”. His blog tracks and comments on news relevant to the interplay of science & religion - including scientific debates taking place in the Muslim world.

The Rationalist • • 27




which it was presented also blunted

and sugar coating one’s message.

liberals until now have

possible criticism from the far right.

Today we see many liberal forums

opted to stay way lower

Lines holding rebellious disapproval of

on Facebook and Tweets from the

on the radar. There is no

society’s collective behavior, did certainly

“enlightened ones”. There are all sorts

doubt that this society

make Pakistanis scratch their heads.

of debates, regarding politics, religion,

is becoming less receptive with each

The song at some level was successful

notions of ‘ghairat’ etc. Ideological

passing day. Fanaticism in Pakistan is just

in engaging the largest segment of

rhetoric is being splashed against groups

another day, but could the reason for this


and pages walls, but I ask you, what I used

on wheel progression be the absence of

outcasts andare content with calling,

to ask my own self:

an easily accesible alternative narrative?

“simpletons”.Too bad there was more

Frankly speaking, it doesn’t make much

The abundance of ultra-right wing

from the band!TaimurRehman’s “Jhootka

of a difference, because rightists don’t

misinformation and propaganda is

sir ooncha” based on Jalib’s poetry was

give a fish about all this blabbering.

something, which people like us meet

another exception. Forums like “Khudi”

Liberals immersed in their drawing room

daily through various media. This material

are also making a difference in whatever

culture and extreme cynicism keep on

is being channeled through every media

narrow space they are provided with.

crying all day long about the injustices

known to the dictionary. Where is the

Just like politicians have been facing

and ignorance in our society, but do not

equally vocal liberal narrative, needed

allegations of ‘drawing room’ politics, I

engage the “simpletons”.

to confront the populist, ultra-right wing

think Pakistani moderates and liberals



too should involve themselves in

“enlightened ones” alone can’t make

Those days are long gone when a

introspection. Engaging the “simpleton”

miracles. The rationale has to trickle down

silent majority of Pakistani moderates

is the key, some online liberal forums

to the common man in a comprehendible

existed. People, who engage the masses,

like had that opportunity, to engage

and “toned down” language, for things

are well aware and concerned of this

this segment of Pakistanis, they instead

to change for good.Presently, this


have since recently, started using this

is not happening, liberals are content

Pakistan is truly a magical land, where

opportunity for misdemeanors. They

with communicating amongst closed

any well has to reach out to people,

were initially doing a pretty good job,

communities, which give little space to

for quenching their thirst, instead of

addressing the easy comprehension and

simpletons. They need to at least start

people coming to the well, to get theirs

accessibility problem, rather effectively.

pitching their version to a larger audience.

quenched. So, an alternative narrative to

This tells us that this engagement needs

When you do not engage other side in

this rhetoric of hate and ignorance has

to be carried out in some prescribed

a rational dialogue and put forth your

to be channeled in a manner to Pakistani

bounds, so that offense is minimal, while

options, how do you expect it to start

masses, that it is comprehendible and a

the message is also conveyed tactfully.

thinking out of the “establishment’s box”?

source of least contention.

If anything is done to the contrary, then

There are numerous forums, which

Last year after having a good look at

it would be just like providing fodder

attract far greater following (from the

Beghairat Brigade’s (BB’s)“Aalu Anday”, I

to conspiracy theorists and ultra- wing

age group of 15-30, mainly) than liberal

finally had my answer. The song has been

wingers, hell bent upon proving liberals

forums. These basically promote the same

immensely popular amongst all classes.

to be enemies of state and the religion

tattered versions of history and farfetched

Its ‘controversial’ lines were digested in

of majority.

conspiracy theories, which present day

most cases by the listeners, with smiles

We must learn this and learn it quickly,

Pakistani liberal/moderate detests with all

drawn to their faces. The reason being

that the space available for liberals to

his/her power of reason.

that, the message was comprehendible

maneuver in this highly intransigent

Present day Pakistani moderates and

for many Pakistanis who understood

society is very thin. To make any difference

liberals have yet to embrace this fact that

Punjabi (if not spoken); the manner in

would require a mixture of perseverance

social media is a revolution in itself. While,

28 • The Rationalist •









Visibly evangelicals and televangelists

unparalleled by any other, since the past

cashed this situation big time.

three ‘lost’ decades. This media of all


others could provide a robust platform

approaching their fellow countrymen and



women with their versions of the story,

concluding itself in reshaping public

they instead keep whining about the role

opinion and redirection of priorities (in

of state agencies, the government, army,

matters encompassing state and religion).

religious elite (religion itself at times),

Over 8 Million Pakistanis maintain regular

Saudis, right leaning media and Zaid

Facebook accounts. The number of

Hamid for all ills of the country without

internet users in Pakistan is over 20Million

making any serious effort to play their

with 11.5% internet penetration, per

part in bringing some lucidityto this freak

ITU statistics. Pakistan is amongst the

show. This all happens in small restricted

top thirty countrieswith most Facebook

groups, composing liberals, hence no

users, while the breakup of the Pakistani

trickling down.

Facebook users in terms of age groups

It is often observed that these episodes

tells us that, 98% of Pakistani Facebook

transform into bashing or disowning

users are between the age group of 13-44.

Pakistan after getting frustrated. Does

Intellectuals have been writing extensively

bashing the only place we could call as

regarding the fact that Evangelists and

‘home’ in the name of realism help? The

Televangelists both targeted Pakistani

answer would certainly be in negation.

middle class youth, since the 80-90’s.

Rational argument never goes by unheard,



if your addressee refuses to accept the

colleges. They then made inroads to the

validly of your rational argument on your

electronic media. Even Pakistani pop

face, he/she will certainly give it a thought

music industry was approached, resulting

once trying to sleep at night. There is

in transformation of two singers, one

something about a rational argument,

into an evangelical and another into a

that some part of it always seeps deeper

Televangelist. The religious conversion of

into the skin and touches hearts. Even if,

Pakistani cricketers is not news unheard,

some of it seeps in, consider you have a


job well done at your hands.

Without spiting the evangelicals and

Key will always be the same, keep pitching

televangelists for what they did, I would

the liberal narrative in easy access and

like to guide the attention of my readers


to the success their strategy bore.

Availability of options will provide people

There are lessons to be learned from

with choices, something, which they

the strategy adopted by these groups.

really never had before. Beghairat Brigade

They mainly targeted youth, which had

could make an effort, could YOU?

humongous amounts of potential and

The author is a writer and founder of facebook group Pakistani Nationalism and a student of Textile Engineering. He can be reached at





were easy to manipulate after a decade long



during Zia’s regime. They invested in the FUTURE.








The Rationalist • • 29





United States is not an

they might clash at certain points. In this

world. This is exactly what happened after

‘enemy’ of Pakistan; it

case, they try to search a “way” which best

September 11, 2001, when Pakistan had

is neither a ‘friend’. It

satisfy the interests of both the states

to take a u-turn on its Afghan policy and

only does business with

concerned. And if that consensus on a

redefine its national interests to be in

Pakistan and that is how states should

certain ‘policy issue’ could not be achieved,

congruence with those of the American

deal to each other – at least this is what

then the stronger state using available

national interests.

those belonging to the realist school of

means – political, economic, diplomatic,

United States had been accused of leaving

thought in international relations believe.

military – allures or forces the weaker state

Pakistan ‘alone’ in the times of crises. The

The core of international relations can

to redefine its national interest according

accusations’ list is very long but here, a few

be described in one word and that is

to the changed situation.

will be discussed.

“national self interest”. States behave in

The impression, that the weaker state

First it is being accused to not come to

the international arena only to achieve

had to submit to the demands of the

Pakistan’s support in 1965 war against

certain ends determined by their national

stronger, and “put aside” its own national

India. But the question arises that why


interest, is not true. It simply “redefines”

United States should have come to

As every state pursues its own national

its national interests in the wake of the

Pakistan’s help? SEATO and CENTO that

interest, so there is a bright chance that

changed geostrategic environment of the

had been signed were not directed

against India.

agreed upon between the two.

facts state otherwise.

They were directed against communist

Besides if India could have been ‘won’

1980s Afghan Jihad – one of the most

threat arising from Soviet Union. United

and lured into the Western bloc by the

controversial decades in the Pak-US

States never said, nor committed, to come

Americans, then it could have been a

relations – was a true test of the nerves

to Pakistan’s help in the times of a war

big achievement for the United States.

for the diplomats at both ends. Pakistan

with India – though there existed certain

Because India was a much bigger country

defined its national interest in supporting

“verbal” promises made by a number of

than Pakistan, and having a big ‘say’ in

the Afghan guerrillas against Soviet

American officials in this regard, which

the third world. Naturally United States

supported government at Kabul.

proved to be just “lip service”.

preferred India over Pakistan and it still

After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan,

Similarly Pakistan never committed to

does so, not because of some personal

Pakistan got a chance to be at a better

help United States in its ‘possible’ war

issues, but simply because that is what its

bargaining position with the United

against Soviet Union. Both Pakistan and

national interest demands it to do.

States. The question here is that whether

United States came closer to each other

Similarly in the 1971 crisis, United States

Pakistan used the issue in the better way

for different reasons. . Former Ambassador

did not come to Pakistan’s help – although

to achieve the ends defined by its national

Tariq Fatimi stated that the same reasons

it had sent 7th Fleet to the Indian Ocean,

interest or not?

that brought them together became the

but the purpose seemed only to force

If one such ‘end’ was keeping Soviet Union

reasons of their ‘parting away’. United

India not to escalate the conflict to the

‘at bay’ and to abstain it from reaching

States wished to use Pakistan against the

West Pakistan.

‘warm waters’ by attacking Pakistan, then

communists while Pakistan wished to

If we read the American ‘declassified’

it was achieved.

use American weight to counter-balance

documents around the era, we find out

If one such ‘end’ was the development

Indian hegemonic designs in the region

that the American public, along-with

of the nuclear capability – United States

Indeed throughout the early decades

the American diplomats and other State

could not have risked antagonising

Pakistan did what its national interest

Department officials, was continuously

Pakistan because of its need in defeating

demanded it to do. It refused to send its

demanding President Nixon to take a

Soviet Union in ‘Soviet Vietnam’, thus it

troops to help Americans in the Korean

“tough stance” against Pakistan because

had to close its eyes over Pakistan’s nuclear

War in early 1950S – because that was what

of its actions in East Pakistan.

development – then it was achieved.

Pakistan’s national interest demanded it to

But President Nixon took the risk and

If another such ‘end’ was to get the most


contrary to public pressure showed a

advanced technological weaponry from

It again refuted American pressures and

behaviour, what latter on termed as an

the United States, then again it was

pursued purely its national interest on its

American ‘tilt’ towards Pakistan. He later

achieved. There have been reports that

‘opening up’ to Communist China in late

wrote on a memorandum “to all hands:

Pakistan even managed to convince

1950s. Henry Kissinger warned Pakistan of

Don’t squeeze Yahya at this point”. Reason

Americans to sell them AWACS, but the

committing a ‘grave mistake’ in this regard,

of this behaviour of the United States

deal could not be materialised because

but Pakistan did not give a heed to it and

was simple; Nixon was using Pakistan to

afterwards time proved Pakistan’s policy

‘open up’ to China at that time. Because at

on the Chinese issue to be on the ‘right’

the international level, American national


interests now demanded it to ‘befriend’

Scholars again accuse United States of

China, thus cornering Soviet Union, and

rushing advanced weaponry to India

US did succeed in her efforts – although

in its war against China in 1962. If one

to a certain extent.

puts himself in the American ‘seat’ then

Pakistan once again defied American

one realises that whatever Americans

pressures and pursued its national interest

did then, was ‘right’ according to their

in its nuclear policy. When it decided to

national interests. India was fighting with

go nuclear, United States left no stone

a communist country and United Sates

unturned to stop Pakistan from acquiring

was at war (though it was ‘cold’) with

the technology. But Pakistan simply proved

the communists throughout the world.

itself to be too slippery to remain clear of

So what other options it had in this case

the American pressures and developed its

except to support India – though Pakistan

nukes. Yet there is another view stating

was also right in its accusation that it

that United States deliberately allowed

was not ‘consulted’ before providing any

Pakistan to develop nuclear technology to

American weaponry to India, as was

keep a check on ‘ambitious’ India – but the

United States left no stone unturned to stop Pakistan from acquiring the NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY”

The Rationalist • • 31

materialised because of the opposition

In this war, United States accuses Pakistan

Have we defined our national interests

by certain groups in Pakistan. Pakistan

from time to time of playing a ‘double


recently managed to buy the AWACS from

game’. Once asked to comment on these

international and regional environment?

Sweden and China.

American accusations, a retired ISI chief

Have we learnt from the mistakes being

There is no denying the fact that the current

said that ‘Americans are also playing

committed in the past and prepared

problems of Pakistan, mostly notably

double game with us. So why blame

ourselves to deal to any sort of eventuality

the rise of militancy and the Kalashnikov

Pakistan only.’ If this is what national

– arising from both inside and outside?

culture, are a product of Pakistan’s poor

interest of Pakistan demands, then we

It is only the ‘time’ which will answer these

handling of the issues then? But that is

should not hesitate to do this.

questions, and will tell us that how the

how the state’s business is being done.

Recent release of the Afghan Taliban from

policymakers in Pakistan will define or

Even United States having one of the

Pakistani jails to facilitate the Afghan peace

redefine its national interests and whether

world’s largest think-tank pool, and most

process – and their refusal to go back

Pakistan will succeed in achieving the

advanced technology could not predict

to Afghanistan and staying in Pakistan

‘ends’ set by those interests?

and avoid the ‘blowback’ of its policies –

instead – is also seen as an action on the

But one thing is certain that in dealing to

right or wrong. Pakistan is no different.

part of Pakistan to secure its interests vis-

United States, Pakistan had to take care

Miscalculations have been made by the

à-vis Afghanistan.

of its own national interest – whatever

statesmen throughout the history. But the

As far as Pakistan’s overall policy regarding

the situation may be. Rather the policy

true wisdom lies in learning from those

Afghanistan is concerned, this is clear that it

of pursuing the national interest must be

mistakes and avoids repeating them.

has certain legitimate concerns regarding

followed in its dealing to any other state

Next accusation levelled by most of

Afghanistan. Besides fearing an anti-

– friend or presumed enemy alike. And it

the Pakistanis against United States is

Pakistan government at Kabul that might

seems that those at the helm of policy-

that, they left the mess in Afghanistan

fan the separatist elements in Pakistan,

making in Pakistan – despite having a lot

for Pakistan to deal with. Even American

they fear of a rising Indian influence in

of constraints – are aware of this fact very

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, during

Afghanistan, which has already reached


a Congressional hearing accepted it as an

to a very high level – and they seem to be

One of the most interesting dialogues

‘American mistake’ to leave Afghanistan

right in this direction. Thus they wish to

of the film sequel ‘godfather’ is that

in ruins.

preserve links with certain elements in the

“there is nothing personal, it’s all about

United States was here in the region to

Afghan power game.

the business”. But the events in the films

defeat Soviet Union. It succeeded in this

United States now promised Pakistan of

suggest that it is always the ‘personal’

effort. During the decade it had closed its

maintaining a long-term engagement

“coupled” with the ‘business’ that served

eyes over Pakistan’s nuclear development.

with it. But those who think that it will

the ends. We will have to see that whether

But the Congress had already passed the

continue to support Pakistan economically

it applies to Pak-US relations also or not?

Pressler Amendment in 1985 demanding

and politically – just like it is doing now

American president to certify every year,

– even after American withdrawal from


that Pakistan is not possessing a nuclear

Afghanistan, are making a mistake of

International Relations in France. He

weapon. Since passing the law, Presidents

forgetting the history.

can be reached at mnadeemmirza@

Reagan and Bush Sr. had been providing

Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, Professor of

this certificate.

International Relation in Quaid-i-Azam

But when the need for Pakistan in

university, Islamabad once opined that

Afghanistan was over and American

with the withdrawal of American forces

minimum objectives were achieved,

from Afghanistan ‘there are ample chances

President Bush Sr. found no further reason

that the anti-Pakistan forces would be

to ‘lie’ to Congress, thus resulting in the

able to convince the Western powers,

enactment of certain nuclear related

particularly, the United States to impose

sanctions against Pakistan.

nuclear related sanctions against Pakistan.’

Since September 11, the national interests

As soon as American ‘minimum’ ends

of both the states again got redefined.

are met in Afghanistan, it will reduce the

American sanctions against Pakistan were

support to Pakistan to the minimum levels

lifted immediately. Pakistan took the

of just making the both ends meet. So

u-turn on its policy to support Taliban

the question arises that are we prepared

regime at Kabul. American ‘war on terror’

enough to deal with the mess left by

had since then claimed thousands of lives.

US after its withdrawal from Afghanistan?

32 • The Rationalist •











ARTICLES The Rationalist • • 33




hile entering the Jinnah International Airport, Karachi,

designed only to evaluate the device’s principles of operation, not

your vehicle is stopped for a routine security check.

to test its limits……. …….the SNIFFEX handheld explosives detector

A security personnel passes by your vehicle with an

performed no better than random chance over the course of testing…

“explosives detector” device. The device is made up

The vendor never suggested that the SNIFFEXs were malfunctioning

of a radio antenna attached to a piece of plastic and

during any test despite the fact that the devices were not correctly

is supposed to work like this: The security personnel walks by your

identifying the location of explosives… Based upon the observed test

vehicle with the antenna of the device extended out in horizontal

results, the SNIFFEX handheld explosives detector is not capable of

position and if the antenna of the device turns towards your vehicle,

detecting explosives regardless of the distance between the device

then your possessions are checked thoroughly for any explosives.

and any explosives… The antenna [on the SNIFFEX] is prone to

Well, more than 50% of the times, nothing dangerous is found

deflection from slight breezes, magnetic influences, and improper

(dangerous as the Airport Security Standards also contain spray bottles,

handling. Furthermore the device is extremely susceptible to a well-

like deodorant and body sprays, because this device sometimes points

documented phenomenon known as the ideomotor effect…”

towards them as well). This 50-50 chance of detecting the purported

So how does the device “actually” work?

explosives is nothing but ridiculous.

The Sniffex and other such

These sort of devices, according

devices (ADE-651) are purported

to Michael Shermer, editor and

to work on the principles of

publisher of the Skeptic Magazine,

nuclear quadrupole resonance

have been sold to the US Army


for around $60,000 a piece and


another version was being sold to

explanations have never been

schools in America for detecting

proven or substantiated. The

marijuana in student lockers. As

only possible explanation is

Shermer says, if you check a large

“ideomotor effect” in the form of a

number of student lockers, with

pseudoscientific technique called

or without the device, you are

Dowsing. Dowsing is a method

bound to find marijuana in some

supposed to find underground

of them. The same logic applies


to, detecting explosives employing

minerals and grave sites by using

the above procedure.

a Y or L-shaped rod, known as a

The device in question is called

Dowsing Rod. Traditionally, most

“Sniffex”, produced by Sniffex,Inc.,

dowsing rods were made of tree

that has been charged for fraud

branches, but modern dowsers

by U.S. Securities and Exchange

use metallic ones. The dowser

Commission. Famed magician and

holds the two forked ends of the Y

the debunker of pseudoscience

in each hand and the stem of the



Y is pointed straight ahead. The

published online, the excerpts

dowser then walks slowly over

from the U.S. Navy’s report on

the places where the targets (e.g.



testing the Sniffex for possible


nuclear (NMR)


magnetic but




oil, water, “explosive material”) are

military uses. The results showed the device to be worthless. Here are

suspected to be found. The dowsing rod is supposed to twitch, dip or

the excerpts from that report:

incline, when a discovery is made.

“The test objectives were to evaluate the vendor’s claims concerning

An earlier attempt for a scientific explanation from William Pryce’s 1778

the device’s ability to detect explosives. Testing was performed in a

Mineralogia Cornubiens is: The corpuscles that rise from the Minerals,

manner consistent with the specifications of the SNIFFEX, and was

entering the rod, determine it to bow down, in order to render it

34 • The Rationalist •

parallel to the vertical lines which the effluvia describe in their rise. In

car would be more probable to carry a security risk? Once the mind

effect the Mineral particles seem to be emitted from the earth; now

is made up for the second “suspicious” car, the confirmation bias

the Virgula [rod], being of a light porous wood, gives an easy passage

and ideomotor effect come into play. If the “Sniffex’s” antenna turns

to these particles, which are also very fine and subtle; the effluvia are

towards the car and after thorough checking some explosives are

then driven forwards by those that follow them, and pressed at the

found, then it is a “hit” and is considered a success. Otherwise, we tend

same time by the atmosphere incumbent on them and forced to enter

to forget the “miss”, unless the car explodes afterwards!

the little interstices between the fibres of the wood, and by that effort,

The ineffectiveness of such devices haspreviously been brought to

they oblige it to incline, or dip down perpendicularly, to become

the notice of Pakistan Airport Security Agency, but they have declined

parallel with the little columns, which those vapors form in their rise.

to accept it and are adamant at using these devices. The trouble lies

Explanations of this kind have no scientific basis. A 1986 article in

in our society’s indifference to the scientific research and method

Nature included dowsing in a list of “effects which until recently

of critical thinking. We are more interested in using technology,

were claimed to be paranormal, but which can now be explained

rather than havingan interest in actual scientific methodology and

from within orthodox science.”Dowsing, as is true for many other

understanding of the world. Author is a science enthusiast, with particular interest in Quantum Mechanics, Evolutionary Theory and Einstein’s Theories of Relativity. He has graduated as Software Engineer and currently works as MIS


and Analytics Manager in a bank.

pseudoscientific claims, could easily be explained in terms of sensory cues, expectancy effects and probability. Since the dowsing apparatus has no power of its own (being made of ordinary matter), the effect is probably caused by slight movements of the hands, caused by a phenomenon known as the ideomotor effect: people’s subconscious minds may influence their bodies without their consciously deciding to take action.There is another very interesting psychological effect called, confirmation bias, which can also be a sound explanation for this effect. People tend to find “evidence” for their preconceived beliefs, by observing or confirming the information that fits their preconceived ideas. Returning to the ineffectiveness of Airport Security devices, let’s say there are two cars approaching the Airport security personnel. One car has a family with kids and the other one has only males. Which The Rationalist • • 35


Islamabad, Pakistan (15:00 PST, Thursday, 21st of Feb, 2013) at Hotel Crown Plaza*, 99-E Jinnah Avenue, Blue Area, Islamabad SPEAKERS Mobarak Haider (Author Civilizational Narcissism aka Tehzeebi Nargasiyat) Dr. Khalid Masood (Ex-Member Pakistan Ideological Council and Judge Shariat Court). TOPICS History, advantages and the need of Rationality for Muslims for the advancement in Science and solution of contemporary problems in the context of modern world. For any queries send an email to or contact Mr. Shabbir Bukhari (Khudi Correspondent) at 051-2261066 (Khudi Office) or (+92) 305 5555 372 Alternatively, please text your name and organizational affiliations on this number (0344-4577552 or 03459585995) to get registered.

36 â&#x20AC;˘ The Rationalist â&#x20AC;˘

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