Why I converted to Islam


The Swiss minaret controversy began in a small municipality in the northern part of Switzerland in 2005. The contention involved the Turkish Cultural Association in Wangen bei Olten, which applied for a construction permit to erect a 6-metre-high minaret on the roof of its Islamic community centre. The project faced opposition from surrounding residents, who had formed a group to prevent the tower’s erection. The 6-metre (20 ft)-high minaret was eventually erected in July 2009.
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BY NAYYAR HASHMEY

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Some years ago there were news that a Swiss politician Daniel Streich, a former member of the Swiss People’s Party, a Protestant by confession converted to Catholicism and then to Islam. Consequetly Streich left his party which was spearheading the campaign to impose a national ban on minarets in Switzerland.

Streich was a founding member and president of the Gruyères section of the party from 2003 to 2007. His embraced Islam in 2005, before which he was a devout Catholic. On his conversion to Islam said Streich “my religion offeres me logical answers to important life questions”.

daniel streich

In 2007 Streich stated that he had “many Muslim friends” yet did not make public his personal conversion to Islam until early November 2009, when he left the Swiss People’s Party. He then participated in setting up the Conservative Democratic Party cantonal section.

The ban on the construction of minarets in Switzerland has had a very interesting side story. Streich, a member of the SPP, a party that pushed for the minaret ban, announced that their cantonal head had become a Muslim. Outside of Switzerland, the mainstream media ignored this. Muslims around the world, however, picked up on the story, circulating it on blogs and on Facebook.

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Faces of Change, not Change of Faces!


On Imran Khan’s massive jalsa in Lahore, America’s prestigious Huffpost has this to say. As the country looks ahead to a national election later this spring, the biggest wildcard is shaping up to be cricket legend Imran Khan, who rallied at least 150,000 flag-waving supporters in the eastern city of Lahore last week.
After years of trying to gain a foothold in Pakistani politics, the shaggy-haired, ruggedly good-looking 60-year-old has finally elbowed his way into the big league. Casting himself as a populist anti-corruption crusader, he is seen as a threat to the two parties that have long dominated elections.
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WILL IMRAN KHAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

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by Nayyar Hashmey

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Umair Ghani is a man of diverse traits. He is writer and a renown photographer. Has earned many awards in the realm. He is also a man well conversant with Sufism, a concept that is very much needed in today’s Pakistan, a Pakistan that is so badly riddled with the extremists of all sorts, but mainly the rabid Wahhabism, the Saudi brand of Islam that is slowly eating up the liberal sociopolitical outlook of the Pakistanis.

For such extremists, Sufis who believe more in the humanistic spirit of Islam [factually, the real face of this religion of peace], offer an elixir, an antidote to the infestations that have corroded the minds of these renegade youth. Such is the stage of these infestations that they are ready to kill even their co religionists in the name of Islam, an Islam they think is the real version, but in fact is a version that the greatest blesser of mankind, the Holy prophet Muhammad (S) absolutely despised. (more…)

Pak–Russia Relations


Times change and change demands a re look on country’s long term foreign policy objectives. Apart from all what is on board out of mutually beneficial relations between Russian Federation and Pakistan in different sectors, a fact is that  Russia is our neighboring country.
And with large segments of Muslims living in different regions of Russia, and the newly independent energy rich Central Asian states, the problem of religious and narco terrorism, the vast potential that Pakistan offers to its giant neighbours including India needs to be exploited.
Pakistan offers the most pivotal trade route, opening a new chapter in Pak Russia relations will be the most appropriate and opportune approach, a bold step in the right direction.
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A RE LOOK ON PAKISTAN’S FOREIGN POLICY

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by Nayyar Hashmey

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Historically Russia Pakistan relations have seen many ups and downs, though these have mostly been on the downward side than otherwise. Reason for these falls was primarily the Russian tilt towards India – at the expense of Pakistan.

Though in terms of realpolitik what the successive Pakistani administrations adopted as India-centric policy might have been the correct approach yet seen from pure Pakistan-centric angle, it was never a true patriotic Pakistani approach.

The basic flaw in this policy was to put all our eggs in one basket. So, we thought, by vesting all our interests with the United States, not only shall we assuage our security, but also would make great economic strides, as vis-à-vis the Soviets, Americans were in far more better position to come up to such Pakistani expectations.

While doing so, however, we totally forgot the hard damn fact of life that in intentional relations its pure business that dictates and defines the contours of the foreign policy of a nation. (more…)

The spectre of the Baloch insurgency [3 of 3]


The Saindak project should have been in control of the provincial government since its inception. [Saindak constitutes a Copper-Gold project worth Rs 18 billion]. A little game was played to hand the project to the centre.
In the 80s, when the exploration contracts were being sanctioned, Saindak was leased to the federal government who then gave it to its Mining department, who sub-leased it to its own company, Saindak Metals Limited (SML), who then leased it to the Chinese Metallurgical Construction Company (MCC).
The SML and MCC are 50-50 stakeholders in the project, with provincial royalties coming at 2% of the sale price. Through manipulation of the lease, the centre has mercilessly deprived the Baloch of a constitutional right to the projects profits.
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THE RESOURCES QUESTION

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by Hashim bin Rashid

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A critical point of dispute is the ‘siphoning off of Baloch resources by the Pakistani state.’

It would be useful to break down two existing projects, Saindak and Chamalang, before discussing the broader contours that shape disputes around future projects.

The Saindak project, as revealed by a Mines and Minerals department insider, should have been in control of the provincial government since its inception. Saindak constitutes a Copper-Gold project worth Rs 18 billion. A little game was played to hand the project to the centre.

In the 80s, when the exploration contracts were being sanctioned, Saindak was leased to the federal government who then gave it to its Mining department, who sub-leased it to its own company, Saindak Metals Limited (SML), who then leased it to the Chinese Metallurgical Construction Company (MCC). (more…)

The spectre of the Baloch insurgency [2 of 3]


With number of missing persons in Balochistan on the rise, support for rebels demanding independence has grown in recent years as many in the province feel neglected by the Pakistani state. [Image : Pakistani children with their mothers protest in Quetta, Balochistan raising slogans for peace in the province. Photo by Banaras Khan/AFP/Getty Images]
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THE POLITICAL CONTOURS

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by Hashim bin Rashid

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The first question is to understand the political backdrop to the current insurgency in Balochistan. The suggestion to the reader is to do some digging on 2005 themselves.

That Bugti became an avowed state-enemy and died a martyr to the Baloch cause was not so fated if his history of collusion be gazed. It is an irony of fate that his grandson now is acting spearhead of one of the leading Baloch insurgent groups.

The current Baloch insurgency has centred itself around three figureheads: Dr Allah Nazar Baloch, Harbiyar Marri and Brahamdagh Bugti.

This Baloch insurgency itself also challenges traditional notions of Balochi resistance as sardar driven. The 1973 struggle had a Marxist-Leninist dimension. The current struggle has outreach into the Baloch educated middle class. The figure of Dr Allah Nazar Baloch remains omnipresent. The Bolan Medical College hostels in Quetta , where Allah Nazar graduated, are painted with BSO (Asad) slogans. Their library adorns Allah Nazar’s photos and tributes.

The political core of the movement has been led by the Baloch National Front, a conglomeration of eight organizations, which has opposed parliamentary political participation in Pakistan and has stood by the call for revolutionary politics. The BNF, however, does not include any of the groups directly waging the armed struggle. While sympathies cut across, the BNF is the political front of the current struggle.

Outside the struggle, but part of the voices for provincial autonomy, the National Party and the Baloch National Party (Mengal) are the two Baloch parties that still believe in a working arrangement within the Pakistan. (more…)