Pakistan Hub




News: Pakistan, Gay Jews, Hulk Hogan, Roll Back The Clock

1NewsIcon Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is calling on the IRS to investigate Catholic Bishops like David Jenky who use their pulpit to influence elections.

Obamaphone1NewsIcon This picture of President Obama was taken at a campaign office in Florida right after he realized he had dialed the wrong number. "Hi is this Ann? Hi, is this Ann? Oh, I'm sorry, I must have the wrong number," he said. I wonder if the person on the other end recognized his voice.

1NewsIcon DC's High Heel Drag Race happened and it was glorious.

1NewsIcon Stuart Milk, nephew of slain activist Harvey Milk, wrote a piece in The Advocate called "The Only Choice in this Election When You're Jewish and Gay". You should read it.

1NewsIcon GOP Minnesota Senate staffer Bob Koss was fired after harassing fellow Republican Rep. John Kriesel's appearance in a pro-marriage equality advert. "Just saw the @johnkriesel gay marriage ad. Really glad the RINO [Republican In Name Only] will be leaving the legislature. #mnleg & good riddance," he tweeted at Kriesel, a veteran who lost both legs in Iraq.

Nogas1NewsIcon New York and New Jersey are still coping with a gas shortage post-Sandy.

1NewsIcon On reality television and LGBT people: "Although it is routinely dismissed as trash, the reality genre has developed a reputation for diversity that scripted television hasn't been able to match, especially when it comes to the inclusion of gays and lesbians. This consistent and constantly growing — if not always flattering — representation across nearly all networks has helped humanize gay people for mainstream America, according to gay rights organizations."

1NewsIcon Kirstie Alley is still in love with John Travolta.

1NewsIcon Bradley Cooper and his dreamy locks on the red carpet.

1NewsIcon There is a Boy Meets World sequel series in the works. It is going to be called Girl Meets World.

1NewsIcon Nick Denton and Gawker's masterful lawyers are not about to let Hulk Hogan take them down in court.

1NewsIcon Gay Pakistanis are starting to peer out of the closet. From The NY Times: "The group is invitation only, by word of mouth. Members communicate through an e-mail list and are careful not to jeopardize the location of their meetings. One room is reserved for 'crisis situations,' when someone may need a place to hide, most often from her own family. This is their safe space — a support group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pakistanis."

NYerCover1NewsIcon The New Yorker covers the blackout.

1NewsIcon Vice President Joe Biden says GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney loves the end of Daylight Savings Time tonight because "he gets to turn the clock back". "He wants to turn back that clock so desperately -- this time he can really do it, tonight it happens. I'm going to get in trouble, but I tell you, man," said Biden in Colorado.

1NewsIcon The debate over marriage equality in Minnesota is pitting Catholic against Catholic. "As Minnesota's gay marriage vote draws near, the divide between Minnesota's Catholic hierarchy and some churchgoers gets starker. Minnesota's Roman Catholic Church has donated heavily in support of the proposed ban and called on members to support it, leaving gay-friendly Catholics in an increasingly tough position," reports Patrick Condon.


Towleroad Guide to the Tube #1219

MOUNTAIN CLIMBING IN PAKISTAN: Incredible footage shot by a drone.

DISORDERLY INTOXICATION: Rep. Allen West's hideous attack ad on Patrick Murphy. Murphy campaign responds: “Allen West is shamelessly attacking Patrick Murphy for a mistake he made as a teenager, which he has discussed at length in the media as a mistake he learned from.  West then goes on to discuss his tenure in the military in 2003 while failing to acknowledge that he was criminally charged that year for assault and violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice," said Murphy for Congress communications director Erin Moffet.  "The only reason he was able to escape prosecution is because he cut a deal to retire.  Unfortunately, West's unstable behavior has continued in Congress, and he continues to diminish the office and the people to which he serves.”

ROSS WATSON: The Australian artist has an exhibition opening in London. Ian McKellen speaks.

CROCODILE TEARS: The Obama campaign previews the upcoming debate.

For recent Guides to the Tube, click HERE.


Pakistani Girl Arrested For Blasphemy Released On Bail

Rimsha:MasihThe Pakistani Christian girl named either Rimshah or Masih, who was arrested near Islamabad three weeks ago for allegedly burning pages of a Qur'an to start a cooking fire, has been released on bail. The release comes nearly a week after a cleric from the girl's town, Imam Khalid Chishti, was arrested for framing the girl. From Haaretz:

A judge in Islamabad had granted Masih bail on Friday, but her release was delayed due to a procedural delay in the processing of surety bonds totaling 1 million Pakistani rupees (10,640 dollars).

... a Muslim cleric, Khalid Jadoon Chishti, was arrested [last] weekend for allegedly planting pages of the Koran in a bag containing burnt papers to frame the girl.

Imam Chishti has rejected the allegations by members of his mosque as "fabricated." But his accusers allege the cleric himself desecrated the Koran in an attempt to drive out the Christian minority from the neighborhood.

Last week, I speculated that Masih/Rimsha's release from prison may be delayed due to authorities' concern for her safety. (After her arrest, many of Masih's Muslim neighbors publicly called for her to be burnt to death.) Indeed, Masih/Rimsha has not yet returned home. She, her family, and numerous other Christians from her neighborhood have sought refuge in an "undisclosed location."

Haaretz notes that Masih/Rimsha is "believed to be" less than 14 years old, and that a doctors' panel has declared that she suffers from learning disabilities, and has a low IQ for her age. 


Imam Arrested For Framing Illiterate Pakistani Girl For 'Blasphemy'

ChishtiYesterday I wrote about an illiterate young Pakistani girl imprisoned for allegedly burning pages of a Qur'an to begin a cooking fire, and thereby committing blasphemy -- in Pakistan, a crime punishable by life imprisonment. (Or, should "justice" be sought extrajudicially, being burned alive.) Late last night, BBC World reported that new evidence shows the girl didn't burn any pages of Qur'an at all. Rather, she was framed by a local Imam.

From the BBC:

Imam [Khalid] Chishti appeared in the Islamabad court with a white blindfold and shackled hands.

There was a large police presence as he was ushered into the building.

"The imam was arrested after his deputy Maulvi Zubair and two others told a magistrate he added pages from the Koran to the burnt pages brought to him by a witness," an investigator Munir Hussain Jaffri said.

Zubair and others reportedly told Imam Chishti not to tamper with the evidence, but Imam Chishti told them doing so was the only way to rid their neighborhood of Christians.

Imam Chishti was arrested yesterday. He is now facing blasphemy charges. The girl, whose name is Rimsha, presumably will not, though she hasn't yet been released from police custody. Perhaps that's for the best. Until the arrest of Imam Chishti, several of her Muslim neighbors were calling for Rimsha's death. It could be that Pakistani authorities will wish to allow the angrier elements of the Islamic public to digest the fact that it was one of their shamans, and not a prophet-denying Christian, who desecrated their holy book.

For the moment, Rimsha's family remains in protective custody.


(UPDATED) Disabled Pakistani Girl Imprisoned For Blasphemy: VIDEO

[UPDATE: Turns out that the girl in the following story was very likely framed by a local cleric. Read more here.]

Here is a link to a very disturbing CNN story. It starts bad --

A Pakistani court postponed a hearing Saturday on whether to grant bail to a Christian girl accused of burning pages containing Quran verses in a case that has heightened religious tensions.

Muslim lawyers demanded she remain in jail during a tense hearing that included a shouting match with the judge. They provided a list of reasons she should be detained, including questioning whether the girl gave her lawyer the power of attorney.

A judge ordered investigators to get more details on her power of attorney, and postponed the hearing to Monday. Before Saturday, a decision was supposed to come Thursday, but was deferred so authorities could answer questions about her medical history.

"All these are the delaying tactics by the lawyers of the complainant to keep the girl in jail," said her lawyer, Tahir Naveed Choudhry.

Quran-- and gets worse.

The girl, it turns out, is desperately poor -- from such a backwards neighborhood that authorities can't tell if she's eleven years old, sixteen years old, or some age in between. Nobody else seems to know, either. (I get the impression the author of the CNN article thinks she's fourteen.)

Also: The girl's not being accused of burning the Qur'an pages out of some kind of anti-Islamism. She was trying to start a cooking fire, as many in her corner of the world must, with scrap paper.

Also: The only evidence that she did actually burn pages from the Qur'an come from eyewitnesses. As of yet, no physical evidence has been presented.

Also: Even if the girl actually did burn pages from the Qur'an, she wouldn't know it. She's illiterate.

Also: The girl is mentally disabled, and may have Down's Syndrome.

From CNN:

The court faces a difficult decision amid concerns that if she is released on bail, she could be at risk from Muslims angered by the allegations against her.

Choudhry, a leading member of the Christian community, said the girl is too young to stay in prison and would be safer joining her relatives, who are in hiding.

"She was crying in the jail and missing her parents," he said.

Choudhry suspects the girl's trial could take up to two years. If convicted of blasphemy, the disabled, illiterate young girl could face life in prison.

For obvious reasons, CNN hasn't named the suspected blasphemer. AFTER THE JUMP, see CNN's Reza Sayah discussing the story from Islamabad.

Continue reading "(UPDATED) Disabled Pakistani Girl Imprisoned For Blasphemy: VIDEO" »


Fakhra Younis Commits Suicide

4142077372She couldn't make it. She'd been a teenage dancer, working the red light district in Karachi, Pakistan, when she met her husband. He was in his mid-30s, and his name was Bilal Khar: the rich and powerful son of a governor. The pair were married.

Things didn't go well. He beat her, she said, and she left him. Afterward, as Fakhra Younis slept on her mother's couch a few feet from her five-year-old son, Khar stole into the house and poured acid on her face and body.

He was acquitted of the crime; she could not escape her new face. Despite a move to Rome and more than three dozen reconstructive surgeries over the last decade, she was destroyed. She jumped to her death from a height of six stories on March 17th.

From Emirates News:

Tehmina Durrani, Ghulam Mustafa Khar's ex-wife and [Bilal Khar's] stepmother, became an advocate for Younus after the attack, drawing international attention to the case. She said that Younus' injuries were the worst she had ever seen on an acid attack victim.

"So many times we thought she would die in the night because her nose was melted and she couldn't breathe,'' said Durrani, who wrote a book about her own allegedly abusive relationship with the elder Khar. "We used to put a straw in the little bit of her mouth that was left because the rest was all melted together.''

"Her life was a parched stretch of hard rock on which nothing bloomed,'' Durrani wrote in a column in The News after Younus' suicide.

Younus' ex-husband grew up in starkly different circumstances, amid the wealth and power of the country's feudal elite, and counts Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar as a cousin.

Bilal Khar once again denied carrying out the acid attack in a TV interview following her suicide, suggesting a different man with the same name committed the crime. He claimed Younus killed herself because she didn't have enough money, not because of her horrific injuries, and criticized the media for hounding him about the issue.

"You people should be a little considerate,'' said Khar. "I have three daughters and when they go to school people tease them.''


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