Category Archives: Statements

Official statements, please distribute widely.

The Easter Bombing in Lahore, Pakistan

Lahore

The terrorist attack targeting Christians in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park in Lahore, Pakistan by the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, an offshoot of the Tehreek-e-Taliban on Sunday March 27, killed about 70 innocent children, women and men and injured hundreds of others.

This is the latest incidence of fundamentalist hatred, and violence against religious minorities that started with attacks against Hindus in 1948 and Ahmedis in 1953 and became especially widespread after the dictator Gen. Zia seized power in 1977 and brought in strict Islamic laws.

Fundamentalism grew stronger when the US and many western governments, along with Pakistan and the Saudi and Gulf monarchies, helped strengthen the so-called mujahideen cause, in material ways and ideologically, to fight against the communist revolution in Afghanistan of April 1978.

The mujahideen took over Afghanistan in 1992 but were ousted by the Taliban in 1996 whose government was officially recognized by only three countries: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

From around the beginning of this century many fundamentalist organizations calling for the establishment of a ‘caliphate’ style of rule of 1,500 years ago based on sharia law, and with extremely discriminatory and violent views against religious minorities, such as the Tehrik-e-Taliban, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Al-Qaida, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Taeba have taken root in Pakistan.

Powerful elements in Pakistan’s security, army, civil service and political establishment have helped these groups grow to foment trouble in Afghanistan and India, and to divide people along sectarian lines to divert their attention from the real issues of underdevelopment and injustice facing them, and by the Saudi and Gulf kingdoms to spread their virulent form of religion.

Thousands of Shias, Ahmedis, Christians, Ismailis, Hindus and even members of some Sunni sects have been killed or injured by religious fanatics and their places of worship and property destroyed while Pakistan’s relations with its neighbours remain constantly strained.

What leads members of one religion to murder people of another? Simply put: their beliefs are pure and right, those who hold other beliefs are ‘wrong’ and ‘impure’ and their elimination is justified.

What can be done to change this state of affairs?

All activities of extremist groups and their social and charitable organizations must be strictly banned and their leaders and activists given exemplary punishments. The campaign against foreign and local terrorist organizations by the army is a start; the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri who murdered Salman Taseer, the governor of the Punjab, in 2011 for ‘blasphemy’ is to be welcomed.

Any official of the army, the internal security agencies, the civil service or politician or civilian who has aided and abetted these terrorist groups or organizations related to them, must be exposed and severely punished.

Over the past three to four decades, Saudi Arabia has provided an estimated $100 billion to right-wing religious, political and educational institutions worldwide. All such funding must be stopped from entering Pakistan, and Canada for that matter, immediately and completely.

Pakistan’s 2016 budget allocates 781 billion rupees – 19% of the budget – to defence (more, if hidden aspects are taken into account), 71 billion on public education and only 20 billion on health. A big chunk goes to pay Pakistan’s foreign debt. The country should free itself of the dictates of the west and its lending agencies and significantly increase educational and employment opportunities so people don’t have to rely on madrassas for education and religious organizations for basic needs. Pakistan, India and Afghanistan need to have peaceful and mutually beneficial relations so that the huge sums presently spent on armies and armaments can be spent on providing roti, kapra aur makan (food, clothing and shelter) among other necessities to their peoples.

Canada’s defence spending, $14 billion in 2006 is now $20 billion. From 2001 to 2014 the Canadian government spent $18 billion in Afghanistan. Since 2011 it has provided $700 million to anti-government forces in Syria – with the U.S., Saudi Arabia, the Gulf monarchies and Turkey providing billions more resulting in tremendous destruction, dislocation and suffering in Syria. Canada must end taking part in wars against other countries and oppose Israel’s unjust treatment of the Palestinian people. It must significantly reduce its defence budget while increasing expenses on social needs such as childcare and education, healthcare and pensions etc.

Last, but not least, Pakistan must become a secular state. As Mr. Jinnah the founder of Pakistan stated to the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947:

‘Everyone of you, no matter to what community he belongs … no matter what his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this state with equal rights, privileges, and obligations.

You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed; that has nothing to do with the business of the state.’

State and religion should be separate; the results of the mixing them in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan confirms this view. In 1956, Pakistan became the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It should be renamed the People’s Republic of Pakistan – and aspire to become one. People should be free to believe and practice any religion they choose so long as it is not harmful to society or others. There should also be the freedom not to believe in religion. All discriminatory laws against religious minorities – and the one made Ahmadis non-Muslims – must be rescinded. The practice of registering the religion of citizens on passports must be done away with. Everyone, unequivocally, must be a completely equal citizen.

Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians
April 5, 2016

Please send your comments and criticisms to info@pakistanicanadians.ca

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

March 21 is celebrated as the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.

IDERD

March 21 is also celebrated around the world as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. A day that marks the anniversary of the tragic events of Sharpeville, South Africa, when police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against the apartheid ‘pass laws’ in 1960.

This year, Toronto & York Region Labour Council in partnership with other regional labour councils across Ontario has come together for the first time to issue a joint public statement, with the support of the Ontario Federation of Labour and the Ontario Region of the Canadian Labour Congress. We feel that labour councils and their affiliated union locals have a strong and important role to play in our fight for good jobs and sustainable communities that are supported by strong public services and universally accessible social programs. We recognize that racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and all forms of prejudice, hate and discrimination ‘whether individual, cultural or systemic’ divide our communities and prevent our collective prosperity.

The Niqab issue – A CPPC Statement

The case of Zunera Ishaq, the 29-year old Muslim woman who came to Ontario from Pakistan in 2008 and refused to take part in a citizenship ceremony because she would have to show her face, is in the news again.

The Committee of Progressive Pakistani- Canadians is a secular organization. We stand for the full equality of women with men – in society, at work, in the home – and against subordinating, segregating and secluding women.

We oppose any one – parents, relatives, religious authorities – from compelling women and girls to wear the niqab, hijab (head-covering) or the burqa (head to toe covering which completely envelops women), or attire deemed to have been mandated by religion or traditions, against their wishes.

Yet, at the same time, we are opposed to the efforts of the Harper Conservatives to force Ms. Ishaq to remove her niqab for the citizenship ceremony.

We find offensive statements such as Mr. Harper’s that ‘it is offensive that someone would hide their identity at the very moment when they are committing to join the Canadian family’ or Minister of Defence, Jason Kenney’s that ‘I think it’s entirely reasonable for those thirty seconds, that someone proudly demonstrate their loyalty to Canada’.

In other words, wearing a niqab for the citizenship oath taking ceremony is un-Canadian and disloyal to Canada!

Similar comments were hurled at the first Sikh RCMP officer who wanted to wear his turban instead of the official hat upon being selected for the force.

No law or regulation requires that a woman has to take off her niqab for the ceremony; Ms. Ishaq’s identity is not in doubt, there is no security risk whatsoever in her wearing a niqab for her swearing in.

Are we, a progressive group, in favour of the niqab. No we are not. We are for the liberation of women – in the choice of clothes they want to wear, the life-styles they want to live, the husbands and partners they wish to have and the jobs they want to hold. We are simply saying that Ms. Ishaq and others are entitled to wear the clothes of their choice – so long as they meet genuine security requirements and don’t prevent them from performing their duties required by their employment.

On September 15 the Harper government’s rule banning face coverings at such ceremonies was found unlawful by the Federal Court of Appeal. Rather than submit to the Court’s ruling, the Harper government is taking the case to the Supreme Court.

Women in Canada make 70–80% of what men make; the absence of easily affordable, even free, day care (like public schools), poses a onerous burden on them and their families and is an obstacle in their entering the work-force; many of them live in or at poverty levels because of the high level of unemployment and the low minimum wage.

Messers Harper and Kenney of the Conservatives should work on these issues rather than pandering to their rightwing base by spreading anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiments.
Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians September 25, 2015

Deaths in the Mediterranean

Photo credit: The Independent, UK

The picture of the body of the little Syrian child lying dead face down in the Water after a boat carrying refugees sank in the Mediterranean while trying to reach Europe, has seared the consciousness of people across the globe.

Thousands of others from Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan – and other African countries – making the same journey have perished in the same way.

Who is responsible?
Mainly the government of the United States and its western allies, including Canada.

How so?
For unleashing war, directly or indirectly, in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and Syria, causing indescribable damage to human life, government and social infrastructure, agriculture, houses, hospitals and schools, employment in town and countryside – not in the interests of democracy or protecting human rights, but to gain back full control of the area for its oil and natural resources, a market for their goods and services, and for its strategic value.

The Saudi and the Gulf monarchies, long hating the republican, secular and non-capitalist oriented governments of Libya, Iraq and Syria, have assisted in this destruction by, among other things, financing and arming fundamentalist terrorist groups in these countries.

A popular international tribunal should be set up to see if Western and Arab leaders who have caused this death and destruction are guilty of violating international law and of crimes against humanity.

More generally, while poverty has been the lot of the masses in Africa and much of Asia for long, it has become exacerbated in recent decades due to increased globalization on terms greatly favourable to the west.

The absence of genuinely democratic governments in large parts of Asia and Africa has compounded the problem.

The wars, increased exploitation by western corporations, corrupt governments, fundamentalist violence, have made the lives of hundreds of millions wretched beyond measure. Hundreds of millions suffer from joblessness, hunger, homelessness; tens of millions are refugees or seek a better life in the west. While refugees seeking asylum in the west must be treated humanely and given asylum, it is the reasons for their mass exodus that must be addressed.

The Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, while professing great pain at seeing the picture of the dead child, is calling for more war in the region – the chief cause of the tragedy. All outside interference in Syria must stop forthwith and the Syrian government and opposition allowed to settle their differences themselves by negotiations.

The struggle against ISIS must be conducted in cooperation with the governments of Syria, Iraq and Libya.

Two other steps can be taken relatively speedily to provide relief to the people of the less developed world. World expenditure on armaments was over $1.5 trillion dollars in 2014 – a stupendous amount, which should be halved quickly, and the funds thus saved spent on social needs and development.

Total foreign aid from the richer to the poorer countries is a little short of $150 billion. It should be doubled – without any strings, at zero or nominal interest rates and for genuinely developmental projects – by increasing the taxes on multinationals and large corporations that, as is commonly known, pay hardly any or none at all.

Ending the unfair and unequal relations between the ‘north’ and the ‘south’, for fair trade that benefits all parties must be struggled for.

Last, but very importantly, genuinely democratic government representing the interests of the people, not the 1%, are urgently needed in the south as well as in the north!

NDP victory in Alberta

Statement of the Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians, May 19, 2015

The Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians congratulates the NDP on its victory in Alberta, a significant political development in the life of that province and Canada. This accomplishment, though a surprise, was built on the hard work of the current and past members of the NDP – and the fact that the ‘ordinary’ people of Alberta are looking for policies that will favour them rather than the corporations and the rich.

The CPPC stands for:

  • A secular society with separation of state and religion
  • Equality of all regardless of gender, ethnicity and belief
  • Peace – and against imperialist wars, Islamic fundamentalism and Islamophobia
  • Genuinely democratic governments of the people, by the people, for the people – not by the 1%!

We also believe that the natural resources of Canada should be owned and utilized in an environmentally responsible way in the interests of the people of Canada, first and foremost those of the First Nations.

The wealthy, and the mass media that represent their views has, predictably, come out in opposition to the victory of your party and the potential it has of implementing policies which include fairer taxation and improving the lives of working people. The NDP has an overwhelming majority in the legislature: we urge you to bring in proportional representation to make elections more fair than currently, something which we hope will be emulated by other provinces and at the federal level.

We hope that the NDP will represent its constituents in the best way possible – to promote progressive legislation and to oppose laws that only benefit the rich and otherwise privileged.

Hoping that the victory of the of the NDP in Alberta on May 5 turns out to be a May Day gift which the working people of that province – and the country – can really benefit from.

Mass murder of Ismailis by fundamentalist terrorists in Pakistan

Statement by Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians, May 15, 2015

The Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians offers its deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the terrorist attack on May 13 in Karachi and to the religious community they belonged to, the Ismaili Muslims. We strongly condemn the perpetrators – religious fundamentalist terrorists who claim to be Muslims – of this cowardly attack on innocent and defenseless women and men.

The view expressed by some senior members of the armed and security forces and right-wing press that the attack was carried out by India is widely seen – and rejected – for what it is: a pathetic attempt to divert attention from the religious terrorist groups (jihadis in common parlance which carry out such heinous acts and maintaining the image of India as an arch-enemy to maintain their bloated budgets to combat that enemy.

In Pakistan violence against religious minorities has been used by vested interests to divert people’s attention from corrupt and authoritarian rule, exploitation, poverty, illiteracy, hunger, inadequate housing, water and sanitation and turn it against scapegoats, is almost as old as the country itself.

It was in the early fifties that the Ahmadiya community was targeted for which Maulana Maudoodi of the Jammat-e-Islami, amongst others, was identified as one of the key instigators, tried and condemned to death by hanging by the courts but later pardoned due to pressure from internal and external patrons.

After the Ahmadis, Christians and Hindus became the targets of violence and discrimination. In recent decades the Shia, too, have similarly suffered mass killings and the destruction of their places of worship; even sects within the Sunnis have not been spared by zealots and puritans claiming to uphold ‘pure’ Islamic values.

In Pakistan religion, rather than being a personal, private matter as had been envisaged by Jinnah and others, began to be fused with the state with the adoption of the ‘Objectives Resolution’ in 1949 – a melding greatly reinforced by the fundamentalist dictator General Zia-ul Haq (1977 – 1988).

Religious terrorist groups came into their own when Pakistan, regional reactionary countries like Saudi Arabia, allied with US-led imperialism, mounted their jihad against the April 1978 Saur Revolution in Afghanistan.

Since then religious fundamentalist terrorist groups, financed, armed and supported by influential sections of the Pakistan military and security apparatus, some civilian forces and the Saudi and Gulf kingdoms have been wreaking havoc in Pakistan.

(It should be noted that similar groups have been founded, armed and financed in the Middle East by the U.S. and its allies in the region).

The CPPC is of the view that the leaderships and members of the various religious minorities must publicly join the struggle for a secular Pakistan in which state and religion are separate and in which each citizen has equal rights regardless of religious beliefs. The law declaring Ahmadis to be non-Muslims, those discriminating against women and religious minorities and the ‘Blasphemy Law’ should be completely removed from the constitution.

We reiterate that terrorist/fundamentalist groups like the Taliban, the Tehrik-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan, Jundullah etc. must be vigorously fought against; any Pakistani military officer or civilian giving them support should be prosecuted and all assistance to them and fundamentalist schools from the Saudis and the Gulf Emirates should be ended.

The Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians stands for:

* A secular society with separation of state and religion
* Equality of all regardless of gender, ethnicity and belief
* Peace – and against imperialist wars, Islamic fundamentalism and Islamophobia
* Genuinely democratic governments of the people, by the people, for the people, not by the 1%!

www.pakistanicanadians.ca
info@pakistanicanadians.ca

Comment on Statement on Peshawar attack

Dear CPPC,

…  I noticed in the statement that after condemning US imperialism the statement makes this comments

However, the actions, program and the vision of the Taliban cannot be supported by anyone. They, and all other fundamentalist/terrorist groups, must be fought against relentlessly by all means – military, political and economic – and rooted out. 
Although this formulation comes after a broad condemnation of US imperialism, without insistence on Pakistani sovereignty I am not entirely clear what forces it is saying should do the “rooting out,” and why it is necessary to specify a military solution which could indicate full support of the current actions of the National Security Council against  “Talibanization” in Waziristan?
I welcome your thoughts here comrade, I really don’t know the situation well.
JB
Montreal

CPPC Statement on the Terrorist Attack in Peshawar

The Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians joins the universal condemnation – including that of secular, progressive and left forces in Pakistan – of the Tehreek-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan’s latest, and most vicious, act of terrorism – the massacring in cold-blood of at least 130 young students and nine staff members at the Army Public School and Degree College in Peshawar on December 16.

The TTP, in taking responsibility, said the attack on the school was in retaliation for the deaths resulting from the army’s actions against the TTP in its main bases in South Waziristan and North Waziristan in FATA – Federally Administered Tribal Areas – on the Pak-Afghan border.

What bitter irony: The Pakistan army and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) – with the help of mainly the United States and Saudi Arabia – helped in the creation, funding, training and arming of, first, the counterrevolutionary ‘mujahideen’ to fight the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan which took power in April 1978, and then the Taliban after the PDPA’s downfall in 1992.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan (and the extreme right-wing and sectarian Islamist groups that formed it in 1997) has been responsible for well over 30,000 deaths in Pakistan through countless terrorist acts. Despite that – and the TTP’s turning against the U.S. – powerful state patrons in Pakistan have continued to support it because the TTP did their bidding in helping the Afghan Taliban and in conducting acts of terrorism against India. The Jamaat-e-Islami of Pakistan has also been a staunch supporter of the TTP.

However, under pressure from Afghanistan, India, Iran, China, Russia and, above all its main paymasters, the U.S., the Pakistan army had finally been compelled to attack the TPP which, in turn, has begun to bite the hand that has nurtured and fed it for so long.

The CPPC is saddened by the death of innocent civilians in the Pakistan army’s against the Taliban. Those who are displaced must be taken care of by the state. We are, further, opposed to the drone attacks by the U.S. and imperialism’s denial of justice to the Palestinian people, its criminal boycott of Iran, and its brutal attacks on Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.

However, the actions, program and the vision of the Taliban cannot be supported by anyone. They, and all other fundamentalist/terrorist groups, must be fought against relentlessly by all means – military, political and economic – and rooted out. All support for them, and fundamentalist schools, by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States must be stopped completely. Officers and others in Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government who have patronized the TTP must be removed from office and prosecuted.

It is high time that Pakistan becomes a secular state with the welfare of its people its priority. It must stop serving U.S. interests and adopt a policy of friendship and mutually beneficial relations with all its neighbours – especially India and Afghanistan.

For comments and critique of this statement , please contact:
Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians • info@pakistanicanadians.ca

Tariq Amin’s Response to CPPC Statement on Khan/Tahirul Qadri agitation

Folks,

I’m truly amazed at reading the statement of the CPPC, which is a blanket support for the Nawaz Sharif government. This is indeed depressing!!!

What “ghair jamhoori qowatenh” is your group speaking about? Are Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri “ghair jamhoori qowatenh”? Or is CPPC speaking of the military; or further still, are you conflating the military and these two political heads and their respective parties? By not making this clear, your group’s statement is an uncritical support for not just the Nawaz Sharif government, but the PPP and the all and sundry, including the opportunist mullah parties. Continue reading