Wednesday, December 15, 2010


This article was printed in the Friday Times on the 10th December 2010
I will survive
Rabia Ahmed 
meets a man who takes ‘self-help’ to a whole other level

Adjust Font Size  The Friday Times The Friday Times
Tony and his family in Florida
Tony at his home in Lahore
Tony and daughter Alysha
Tony (2nd from left) talking to a spinal injury group at home
Tony with the mayor of London
He was pulled out and taken to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) at Sialkot on a flatbed truck next to the scalding silencer, which burned him. But CMH Sialkot was unable to treat him. When he was lifted out of the hospital bed (so an ambulance could take him to Lahore), his skin, burned on the truck, remained on the bedsheet. His mother passed out at the sight
And then came Ruth, “a vicious tigress of a physiotherapist. She bullied me into rehab. It took me a while to get used to her. I hated her for a month, before realising what she was trying to do. It was she who gave me hope. She would come on her days off and order the nurses around. ‘Let him go thirsty until he learns to pick up that glass,’” she told them
ony, a strapping young man who excelled in every sport from track to wrestling, fulfilled his mother’s ambition of ‘mera beta engineer banay ga’ by getting a diploma in Civil Engineering. He was employed by the Pakistan Rangers as a sub-inspector.

In 1986, while diving at the Marala Headworks near Sialkot, he hurt himself. He didn’t know it then, but he had broken his neck at C5 and 6. He was 22 years old.

Swallowing water and sand, he thought as he blacked out, “I hope they find my body.”

He was pulled out and taken to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) at Sialkot on a flatbed truck next to the scalding silencer, which burned him.

CMH Sialkot was unable to treat him. When he was lifted out of the hospital bed (so an ambulance could take him to Lahore), his skin, burned on the truck, remained on the bedsheet. His mother passed out at the sight.

En route to Lahore, the ambulance overturned on some large speed breakers on the Ravi Bridge, and Tony was thrown from his stretcher. There was severe pain in his neck and what little movement he had in his limbs ceased.

“I woke packed in ice. My whole family was present.”

He was in the CMH for almost seven months and then at the Services Hospital.

Tony’s older brother Faisal went into a depression, isolating himself in a dark room. His younger brother Imtiaz left college to look after him. Nothing can describe what his parents went through.

Terrible pressure sores developed after months in bed; but all Tony says about his life then is, “I found angels everywhere I went.”

Surgeons at the hospital worked to heal his sores. His cousin Dr Waseem supervised his treatment, and his whole family was very supportive.

Tony belongs to a middle class family that couldn’t afford to pay his medical bills. Tony’s mother tried to get funding for her son’s treatment. Because Tony was an employee, the Government of Pakistan gave him £10,000 for treatment abroad. Eighteen months after his accident Tony, his mother and Imtiaz left for England.

They stayed with a cousin, and Tony was taken to Cromwell, a private hospital in London where he twice endured spinal fusion, a procedure that involves the placing of bone grafts around broken vertebrae, but it didn’t help his spinal cord.

Dr Amir Aziz (now in Lahore) had Tony’s bed sores treated at Mount Vernon Hospital where the surgeon charged nothing. Dr Aziz was present at all of Tony’s surgeries, and visited him in hospital and at home.

Tony also went to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital for Occupational and Physiotherapy, where surgeons did not charge a fee, and also managed to get the hospital fees reduced. More angels.

A further £15,000 was needed for Rehabilitation. Tony’s mother applied to what was then the prestigious BCCI bank for help, and Mr Agha Hassan Abidi approved the grant.

“That money saved my life,” says Tony. In 1988 at the International Spinal Injuries and Rehabilitation Centre in Aylesbury, Diane, a nurse, helped him out of the car.

His doctor then insisted that Tony’s mother return to Pakistan because, he said, rehab was impossible with her around; she was “mothering him too much.”

Tony’s mother wept but did finally leave; and the doctor said, “You’re on your own now, Mister.”

“It broke my heart when she left,” said Tony. It was his mother who, in his state of incapacitation, had done everything for him. He knew little English and was scared of ringing the bell and irritating the nurses.

“It was the best rehab anyone could have,” says Tony. He had a lot to learn, and he did.

“So many things worked out,” Tony says. “People turned up and helped one after another, as though God was putting everything in place for me, and holding my hand while I took one baby step at a time.”

A Palestinian doctor gave Tony a rudimentary mattress in the form of three strips of foam, which served to keep pressure off the heavier parts of his body.

And then Ruth, “a vicious tigress of a physiotherapist. She bullied me into rehab. It took me a while to get used to her. I hated her for a month, before realising what she was trying to do. It was she who gave me hope. She would come on her days off and order the nurses around. ‘Let him go thirsty until he learns to pick up that glass,’” she told them.

“The first day in a chair, I fainted. I would feel dizzy and shout ‘I’m dying!’ They would tip my chair back but I stayed in that chair. Eventually, I didn’t want to go back to bed. A week later I was fine, kidding around with everyone although still shy of speaking English. It took me weeks to get used to the constant ‘Thank yous’ and ‘Pleases’, but I got there.”

Three months later, when his family returned, he told them he’d “had a blast”.

Diane and Tony became friends, and a year later when he asked her to marry him, she agreed. Their valima was held in Lahore in 1989.

Diane was older than Tony, had been married before, and had four children.

He says, “I thought my life was over until I met Diane.”

Nancy Reagan said that a woman is like a tea bag: it is only when she is in hot water that you realise how strong she is; and it was Confucius who said that a gentleman can withstand hardships; it is only the small man who, when subjected to them, is swept off his feet.

Diane was 45 years old and Tony quadriplegic, and this was a marriage between a strong tea bag and a large gentleman.

Diane worked full time while Tony passed High School. He also did a counselling course with a scholarship from the British Government, and began counselling people on disability and later fertility issues.

Rehab had taught Tony many life skills, but it was Diane who helped Tony in every way, day and night.

In 1992 when Diane was 46, a son, Ismet, was born to the couple by IVF.

In 1993, Tony and Imtiaz decided to buy the local video store, but their bank refused them a loan. The banker they were dealing with, Brett Chown, apologised, saying that if he were the Manager, he would have granted the loan. He suggested another bank.

Barclays gave them the money, with the Manager saying, “I’m going to give you a break.” He asked them to match whatever he gave, and they did, with their joint credit cards.

A few years later, Chown became the Corporate Manager and a personal friend and helped Tony with all his ventures.

The store did well and brought in more money than expected, and two years later the family bought a house.

Was Tony ‘freaked out’ with all these new responsibilities of family and work?

“I live in country where I know that even if I lose everything, I will have a place to live and food for myself and my family,” he says. “So I was happy to try new ventures, and I worked hard. At the worst I’d have to return my business to the bank.”

In 2000 Tony bought another store and two cottages next to it and in 2001, Tony and Diane had their second child, Alysha (aka Biscuit), also by IVF.

In 2003, Tony, unable to buy a locally made muffler for his car decided to start fabricating and manufacturing car parts, and created ‘Top Gear’ to supply just that. However, his main source of income remains an insurance business that he set up a few years later.

We visited Tony at his home in 2005, when Diane cooked us an excellent dal gosht . She has managed to integrate with Tony’s cultural expectations without losing her own identity. Their place is home to all four of her children now grown up, and both of theirs.

Tony says the key to his and Diane’s marriage is that neither makes unreasonable demands, religious or cultural, on the other. He says he never pushes his children to be what they’re not. “If someone wants something, they will get it somehow. The world consists of all kinds of people who are all essential.”

“My mother tried to make doctors and engineers of us. Faisal went into the army, and Imtiaz was bright and studied. I was ‘nobody’, yet now I am better off than all of them put together. I’m not bragging, just saying that being a decent person matters too, and people should do what they want.”

Tony’s biggest support after his wife is the British Government, which provides him with free medical care. He drives a car for which he paid neither sales nor road tax, and in the shape of the mobility allowance paid to him every week by the government, fuel is paid for as well.

Tony’s parents died some years ago, as also, tragically, did his brother Imtiaz in 2003.

Tony visits Pakistan every year. It is not easy for him to visit, and it is impossible for him to live here permanently, given the absence of facilities for people with disabilities.

In Pakistan Tony can only be a passenger in a normal car. A specially adapted car such as the one he owns in the UK costs at least £50,000. When importing such a car into Pakistan the Government of Pakistan levies import tax, which is calculated at a higher rate than on normal cars, that is at 100% of the cost. A £50,000 car therefore costs at least £100,000.

Pakistani roads have few pavements and are hazardous. In public, people stare and pass comments. As for facilities in public places:

The Business Lounge at the Allama Iqbal Airport in Lahore is not accessible to persons on wheel chairs. Neither was Tony’s apartment in Lahore, and a friend had a ramp built there.

One of the largest banks in the Pakistani city where Tony holds his account has no wheelchair access whatsoever.

Most incredible, however, is the fact that his hospital in Lahore is not wheelchair accessible. The clinic of Tony’s ophthalmologist in Lahore has wheelchair access but the machines inside are inaccessible to a person in a wheelchair.

Tony would like us, the people of Pakistan, to give just a bit of thought to the problems faced by the countless disabled persons in our midst, to try to help them in even a small way. (We could start with ramps, for example, and make a significant difference to the life of a person who is already facing so many challenges.)

Tony’s motor and sensory abilities were destroyed after his accident. Because he has workable muscles in his shoulders, he can move his arms. He exercises these precious muscles constantly. He says using them day after day makes a bigger difference than going to the gym.

He can jam an object such as his phone in his permanently clawed hands and use it all by himself. He can eat, and use the computer by himself. He turns himself in bed by using a ‘monkey pole’ over his bed from which hangs a bar that he hooks with his arm. He also exercises his lungs by blowing balloons.

Tony uses a battery-powered wheelchair all by himself, and in England his car, which he can drive on his own. The car is adapted for him, with a ‘push and pull’ control instead of a steering wheel. Tony’s own chair swoops up a ramp into the driving side, and away he goes, music and all.

Drop the image of a decrepit man weeping into his soup: Tony is often the best-looking man in the room. He takes charge in a way that others ought to envy and, at the very least, think about very seriously.

Rabia Ahmed lives in Lahore


By Rabia Ahmed

The Scarlet Pimpernel
Really, Pakistan can also be the most entertaining place to live in! Where else does the Governor of a province disappear, missing sessions of the Provincial Legislative body without informing anyone of his intentions or whereabouts? It’s all very exciting and makes you feel almost French as in the Scarlet Pimpernel madrigal: “We seek him here, we seek him there, we Pakis seek him everywhere; is he in heaven or is he in hell, that demmed elusive...”  Sacre bleu!

When the Punjab Assembly met on Wednesday 8 December, the Governor, who would normally be part of the session was discovered to be absent. What’s more it was discovered that he had been ‘missing’ for the past 72 hours.

There was debate as to where Mr Taseer was: Was he in Colombo as reported by a television channel? Was he in Karachi, as also reported by a television channel, or in Sukkur, as a spokesperson of the Governor’s House has been quoted as saying he was? The DCO of Sukkur was however reportedly not aware of Mr Taseer’s presence in that town. Given our politicians’ predilection for sirens, bells, bajas and every other kind of fanfare such as halting traffic, it is not likely that his presence there would have gone unnoticed by the DCO of all persons, that is if the DCO really did say what has been attributed to him.

The most titillating bit of course was the speculation that Mr Taseer was in Dubai conducting secret errands for Mr Zardari (ooh!) as our Law Minister Rana Sanaullah says he was, but Mr Taseer says emphatically that he was not in Dubai.  Well it’s a wide world, and a very exciting one, with the prospect of our Governor lurking around anywhere out there.

The fact that Mr. Taseer is now back in the seat, and was apparently in Sri Lanka for three days is beside the point. Also beside the point is that either his people were unwilling to say where he was, in which case one wonders why, or they simply did not know either. In which case one wonders why again.

The point is that the constitution appears to have become a pocket tissue for our politicians: they take it out only to blow their noses with a loud trumpeting sound. For all other purposes it is useless, discarded and trampled on at will.

In Pakistan, constitutions, amendments to constitutions and other rules come and go with the frequency of governments, and none of them seem to apply to the governments themselves.

According to Mr S.M. Zafar, this event has led to a violation of Article 104 of our Constitution. I presume he means that since the absence from the province of the Governor (the constitutional head of the province) was not disclosed, his office lay vacant for a period of time, which is a violation of this Act.

Also, given the absence of the Governor from the province, the Speaker of the Assembly takes over his position, which means that he is for the period of his custodianship, ineligible to act as Speaker. However, since Mr Taseer had neglected to inform the Assembly of his inability to attend the session (the neglect in itself an unconstitutional act), the Speaker carried on as Speaker, while all the while he ought to have been in position as acting Governor.

It’s all very complicated. What stands out clearly is the fact that the Governor by virtue of his prolonged absence and failure to inform relevant persons of the fact has demonstrated his disdain of the law.

 Is such a person eligible for the high office of Governorship of a province?

It was Albert Einstein who said that ‘Nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced.’ Or are not enforced, which is one way of not only a government losing respect, but of demonstrating its lack of respect for itself, not to mention the law of the land they are supposed to be governing.

 Is such a government eligible to be in the position it holds?

Thursday, December 9, 2010


By Rabia Ahmed

Ever since WikiLeaks started figuring big in the news here, people have been getting really indignant about the King of Saudi Arabia criticising the President of Pakistan by calling him (Mr Zardari) ‘corrupt’ and ‘an obstacle to the progress of Pakistan.’

There were angry comments on Facebook and in the papers about the matter.  A letter to the Editor in today’s ‘The News’ has a retired colonel of the Pakistan Army saying that he feels ‘hurt’ by the monarch’s remarks.  He says that seeing as Mr Zardari is the elected President of this country the King’s remarks are an insult to the people of Pakistan. He says that it is our right to question and criticise him, not anyone else’s, and that if they do so it is interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign country.

Dear Mr Colonel Sir, I would normally feel the same way myself, particularly since the rulers of Saudi Arabia are, as you point out, not elected, nor (as I add) of clean repute, which makes them somewhat like Mr Zardari, on the latter account. There are other similarities too, one a picture of King Abdullah kissing Mr Bush on the lips, whereas Mr Zardari prefers other ends to achieve his means.

However, this is not a normal situation, and while neither protagonist is what would normally be called an acceptable Head of State, elected or otherwise, it is more to the point what we are, or are not, and that includes our Head of State and his buddies, and if you please, the King was only telling the truth.

Yes we have the right to question and criticise our leaders, and we have been doing so, but questions without answers or results are no use. What’s more, elected representatives are meant to, you know, represent, or respond to the interests of those who elected them. It’s what the deal was.  But I see no representation here, no response to the needs of the people of Pakistan. Did we, for example, really need two more ministers in our already large federal cabinet? It appears we have the pleasure of supporting the lavish needs of two more such officials, as of last Tuesday. There is such a thing as eating a people out of house and home, and I thought we were being asked to downsize? Indeed our Prime Minister had proclaimed that this would be done. So what have they done, stopped putting almonds in their gajjar ka halwa or something? Goodness no! That would be too much to expect of our elected representatives.

 As far as the bit about ‘internal affairs’ and ‘sovereignty’ is concerned, in today’s day and age, no country leads quite the isolated existence it did once upon a delightful time. Certainly Pakistan does not. How internal are our affairs, do you suppose, when we breed and foster the likes of the Taliban who spread out into the wide, wide world and bomb the people of other countries? And how sovereign is our country when it goes around begging bowl in hand to every country in the world, asking for aid every time the wolf is at the door and also otherwise? I think the ruddy wolf has taken up residence there, frankly, in fact it seems to be breeding even as fast as the Taliban themselves.  

Mr Zardari, and Mr Sharif, if they pooled their money stored in safer places and/or if they tried to govern as they ought, could prevent this from happening. But do they? They procure more expensive cars for themselves, spend millions on their official and personal residences, make useless ‘tours’ when they spend billions on their accommodation and expenses, all on the tab of the country that’s standing by begging for help.

How sovereign are you if you owe the very clothes on your back to someone else? I reckon every man and his grandmother anywhere in the world has a right to a say in our affairs, when they are forever obliged to feel sorry for ‘those poor people in Pakistan’, and to give, forever give donations from their wallets against disasters that take place here. Ugh.

I think it’s time we figure out what our biggest disaster is, please, and deal with it, and once we do that, then we have the right to get tetchy about what anyone else says about us.  Not before.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


What a nag!                
December 5, 2010
I can see right through him; I know he thinks I’m too efficient. And he’s right; I am, because I have to be. After all, my eyes may be sharp enough to see through him, but his are so dull he sees himself in a mirror and thinks everything’s perfect on him; perfect clothes, perfect briefcase, best haircut in town.
Well here’s how it is: I ironed those clothes; I won’t allow anyone else to, so the trousers are perfectly creased; I never allow him to lie down wearing them, or squat or sit with his legs all bent. And I choose his ties (and all his clothes, actually) and I hang the right tie with each shirt. Otherwise, monsieur actually wore a green tie with a pink shirt once.
As for his hair, I came back from holiday once and he had a neat little comb-over, like a desi Donald Trump. I chopped that ridiculous lock off and made him have a cut from a proper place, not one of those two-bit places he seems to think are good enough.
And that’s another thing: how come everything is ‘good enough’ and that is just fine by him? I didn’t marry Mr Good Enough, my parents didn’t marry me to a Mr Good Enough.  We married him, because Good Enough was not good enough for us.
My mother was an army wife, and I learnt all about a wife’s duty from her. ‘Make sure you remember who we are,’ she always said, and I always do.
It’s not a coincidence that my father is a four-star General. My mother had a lot to do with his rank than anyone knows. Come to think of it she too was particular about his clothes, and she also…yes I learnt quite a bit from her without realising it. I too make sure my husband eats the right things. He loves garlic, but I never give him any because it would make him and all his clothes stink.
He always tells me he’d like chopped garlic with dinner, and because it’s never there, he complains that I never listen to him. Well he’s right. I don’t, because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, so what’s the point? Even though I make him go for a jog every morning, he’s put on weight, and you should hear him snore.
I found very early on that if I look at him a certain way, (just the way my mother looks at my father, it makes me feel so sentimental), he doesn’t argue. And so I look at him like that whenever he’s being extra-immature or silly, and that’s all I do. Thank God no one can call me a nag. I hear they’re very dominating, those women. —Rabia Ahmed

This article was printed in the Dawn on the 05 December 2010 


By Rabia Ahmed

Most of the time, when in Rome, it is prudent to ‘Do as the Romans do’.  Most times, that is, until you find yourself spending your life doing the silliest things;  because even though the Romans were good at making aqua ducts and roads like the A1 doesn’t mean they were all that smart every time. Like most of us.  And once you realise that, should you still follow the guy in the toga everywhere he goes, or should you hold up your hand occasionally and say ‘enough!’?

There is such a thing as not allowing yourself to be pressured. Remember the scene about the Imperius Curse in J.K Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’? Let me paraphrase that bit:

As Moody put his students under the Imperius Curse, they all did the strangest things: hopped around the room singing the national anthem, imitated animals, and performed extraordinary gymnastics.  When it was Harry’s turn, he felt a floating sensation as every thought and worry in his head was wiped away.  He heard his teacher’s voice commanding him to jump onto the desk.  He bent his knees preparing to jump, when suddenly another voice spoke in his head:

‘Why though?’ it said. ‘Stupid thing to do, really.’

And Harry felt his knees hurt as he stopped in mid jump and fell against the hard stone floor.

We always have a choice: to do what everyone else is doing, regardless whether you like it or not, or to hold back and do your own thing.

It is never easy to say ‘no’, but whether you say ‘no’ or not, your choices disturb those around you, so there is invariably an outcry against your stance. So really, you may as well do what you think is best, hadn’t you, instead of following everyone else?

 It is best to be prepared for criticism, by cultivating a skin that’s thicker than usual.  J.K Rowling had a magic charm for that as well, the ‘Impervius Charm’, which makes the charmed person impervious to any outside influence. We need this in Pakistan if we’re to say ‘no’ now and then, so we can be impervious to protest. As it is, only our politicians seem to have used it upon themselves.

Here’s a short list of some choices you may have to make living in Pakistan:

Arriving late at weddings:
In spite of it being clearly stated on a card that the Mehendi will start at 7pm sharp, no one arrives before nine, and the majority put in an appearance around ten, or later.

You may decide to go with the flow and turn up at the function around midnight, in which case you’ll be classed with the decadent at-parties-all-night lot.
Or, you may try to take your hosts at their word, and arrive on time. In which case all hell will break lose with ‘This is Pakistan! Learn to be late!’

And of course there are those who protest whatever you do.

Dressing extravagantly:
Life in Pakistan is at the stage when one has to choose between one’s daily bread and another new jora.  People however, will spend the cost of five lunches, three dinners and a lavish high tea on a new something to wear every other week.

If you decide to cut down on your meals and go with the designers, so be it. If however you chose to wear the same dress a few times running, be prepared for the comments, such as, ‘You really like this dress, don’t you?’.

Of course, there are those who protest whatever you wear!

Loans to servants:
Living in Pakistan, employing a servant or two, you take on a corporate image. You are the sleek new Visa card, or an American Express credit card, and people never leave home without you, in a figurative sense of course. Your cook wants you in his wallet, and so does your driver, your cleaning lady, gardener, newspaper wallah, and so on. There is the wedding to finance, the ‘fautgi’, or a house.

You sympathise. How, after all, can people survive in this place on the salaries they get? So you allow them to swipe you from time to time, and even to swipe from you at times while you turn a blind eye.

Which all means of course that you will be known as the worst manager of finances in the world.

On the other hand, if you become Scrooge, you will be...Scrooge.

But naturally, there are those who will protest whatever you do, and make you into a kind of Scrooge Express.

Menu at parties:
The Last Supper takes place every weekend in Lahore homes. People serve the most lavish meals, and people eat as though they will never eat again. No one really cares for anything except where the boti is. In this poor country where people are dying for want of a basic meal, it is imperative to serve a beef dish, a chicken dish and two mutton dishes at the table in addition to seven others and something with prawns.

If the menu at your party is a simple one, those who live in Lahore will be vociferous in their protest (Scrooge again).

If it is a lavish one, your guests from Karachi will be equally vocal (Show off).

And then of course there are those who protest whatever you serve.

That isn’t the end of the list by any means, but I invite you to add to it as you wish, and then when you’re done with it, to examine it carefully. Maybe then you will also say, ‘Why though?’ and make your choice: to jump like everyone else, or to stand peacefully aside, and watch everyone else jump, moo, or tap dance their way through a life that they think is their own, but is it though?!

Its all about choice, having a very thick skin, and doing what you think is best!

This article was printed in the Dawn on the 05 December 2010 with certain changes by the editor. It may be viewed at the following link:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010



By Rabia Ahmed | Published: November 30, 2010
Asia Bibi’s case is one such example of the above.
Rampant ignorance in this country has led to poverty, deprivation, misery, anger, and misinformed bearded persons carrying that baggage becoming accepted as the religious voice of the community.
My beloved Prophet (PBUH), for whom I am willing to lay down my life, was extremely persecuted during his lifetime; yet when asked to curse those who persecuted him, he refused to do so, saying that he had been sent as a blessing for mankind, not as a curse. So how can we sentence a person to death because he/she has supposedly, or even actually, said something against him?
If we believe in the Shariah, then does not this in itself prevent such a sentence? Would Mohammad (PBUH), given the example above, have passed that sentence? If not, then how can we? And that too, on a poor woman humiliated when her peers refused to drink the water she served them, because they said she was unclean. I would probably have overturned the whole bucket on their heads, and called them many names. Being Muslim I would naturally have not gone where Asia reportedly did, but many other places, yes.
We flawed puny beings impute our own frailty to people who are neither puny nor frail, nor as flawed. It is we little people who are easily hurt. Towering personalities such as Mohammad (PBUH) can withstand sticks and stones, derogatory remarks, and anything else that is hurled at them. If we truly love him, we will feel anger if anyone maligns him, but then we will immediately look inwards to discover where we went wrong, and why people say such things about him. Is our example weak? Have we shown the world what a true Muslim is?
Praise has to be earned, not obtained by beating it out of people.
Is blasphemy the real issue here, or is it us, our corruption, ignorance and beard bristling fury that leads us to offload our frustration on the heads of anyone but the deserving.
It is easier to quote from large tomes and denounce one poor woman, or twenty poor women and men, than it is to be courageous and make an effort to deal with the actual issues that brought matters to this head.
Here’s a little exercise... in the Google search bar enter: blasphemy against other religions.
You’ll find blasphemy because someone denied that the Jewish holocaust occurred. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Blasphemy against Dhan Sri Guru Garanth Sahib Ji Maharaj. And, blasphemy initially being a criminal offence in every state of the USA.
In Maryland a law was passed in 1723 which prohibited any person from denying that Jesus was the Son of God. The first offence was punishable by a fine of £20, the second by the letter ‘B’ being burnt onto the offender’s forehead. And the third time around, the punishment was death.
We all blaspheme somehow against someone or the other. I do not believe that Jesus was the son of God. But I accept that the Jewish holocaust took place, so I suppose that lot will let me live. As for Dhan Sri Guru Garanth Sahib Ji Maharaj, I’m not quite sure who he was or is, and that in itself is probably blasphemy somewhere or the other.
Someone called Ophelia Benson said: Religion is exactly the kind of institution that should be exposed to
criticism, not exempted from it.
Whatever Ms Benson meant when she said this, I personally agree that something as important as religion can either be the best thing that happened to humanity or else its worst curse. In the case of Islam, I am staunch in believing that it is not the religion that is at fault, it is those who use it to rant. And so every day, before we spread what they say on our toast with the marmalade and eat it, we need to examine their dictums for little stones and dispose of them, not gather them and throw them at others who have no clue what they did to deserve such treatment.
That, in fact, is blasphemy because it flies in the face of all that our Prophet taught.

This article was printed in Pakistan Today on the 29th November 2010 where they appear to have missed out the first line, which was: Behind every issue, there are others that go unchecked.