Saturday, June 29, 2013

An Open Letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif

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An Open Letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif 

"He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself." Thomas Paine

By Zia H Shah MD

Dear Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, I know you would be busy in running the affairs of the state and managing the fate of Ex President Pervez Musharaf, but, you would recall that on the very first day of your assumption of power, you banned the Muslim Times (TMT) and possibly other sites from view within Pakistan.
I have had at least 10 testimonies from readers in Pakistan that when they try to log in, instead of our content, they read, "The  website is not accessible. The site contains content that is prohibited for  viewership from within Pakistan."
These readers have written to me from Lahore, Rawalpindi, Sialkot and Rabwah.
Dear Prime Minister, you would recall that you have in a recent speech condemned Ex President Musharaf for not honoring the constitution of Pakistan and acting against it.  But, in your unilateral and unreasonable action against TMT, without due process, you yourself have violated the constitution of Pakistan, Article 19 of which states:
Every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, and there shall be freedom of the press, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or de fence of Pakistan or any part thereof, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, or incitement to an offence.
Dear Prime Minister, you or your law experts would also recall that Pakistan is a signatory of Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Article 1 of the Declaration states:
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are   endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
We humbly request our freedom and a brotherly treatment.
Dear Prime Minister, you or your more brainy friends will recall a quote from Evelyn Beatrice Hall, a biographer of the famous French philosopher Voltaire, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it," which is often quoted in support of freedom of speech.
You may also recall a quote of President Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the declaration of Independence of USA, "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism."
Dear Prime Minister, you or those who acted on your behalf to ban TMT, would recall that one of the guiding principles of TMT is that we want to establish universal brotherhood and sisterhood for the whole of humanity.  You profess to believe in the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, who was one of the staunchest believers in universal brotherhood.  Can we assume that you did not ban us for our contributions in this sphere?
Dear Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, you will recall that one of the core values of TMT is Separation of Mosque-Church and State.  You may refuse it in Pakistan under your governance.  But, you could certainly not deny the sorry state of 160 million Muslims in India or 8 million Sunni Muslims in Iran, if this same value was denied in neighboring India or Iran?
Thomas Paine, one of the Founding Fathers of USA, once wrote about religious freedom:
As to religion, I hold it to be the indispensable duty of all government to protect all conscientious professors thereof, and I know of no other business which government hath to do therewith.
The thousands of regular readers from all around the globe would recall that in the last three years of its publication, TMT has published more than 20,000 posts.  We have aggregated materials for human rights, women rights, universal brotherhood, freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, Muslim heritage and beauties of the teachings of Islam and last but not the least, Separation of Mosque-Church and State.  Dear Prime Minister please tell us for which of these 20,000 contributions have we been knighted with the honor of ban in Pakistan?
Those readers, who have not been able to directly confirm the ban in Pakistan on TMT, can recall and at a glance confirm that the mentor of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, General Zia ul Haq had enacted draconian laws, in 1984, against the members of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which are still part and parcel of Pakistan law under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif.  According to these laws any member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, who poses to be a Muslim by word or action is to be imprisoned for three years.  Almost all of the 60 members of Editorial team of TMT are guilty of living the life of a Muslim on a daily basis!  Incidentally, I have had to remove the names of our Editorial team members in Pakistan, from the site, for their personal safety.
In closing, dear Prime Minister, we do not want to impose on your precious time, but, please be kind enough to make one of your private secretaries communicate to us that for what crime of ours, the Muslim Times has been banned in Pakistan?
Read in the Muslim Times.
Those who get this email but cannot open the Muslim Times should write to me.

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