Introducing Two New Papers

Here I pick on two relatively new newspapers.

I visit the Express Tribune (a collaboration of Express Newspaper in Pakistan and International Herald Tribune of NYTimes) daily, not because of their quality journalism but as they allow comments on their news which gives one an idea of what the nation (or the english reading elite that visits ETribune) is thinking. However, since they are new on the scene, they are guilty of more than a normal mindfucks.

This one takes the cake with amount of WTF information it throws at you. The interesting parts are highlighted.

Agha Siraj Durrani’s guard: Imran was killed by men picking off members from his old gang

Investigators believe that the chief security officer of minister Agha Siraj Durrani was killed because some people have been slowly picking off members of a group he belonged to in the 1990s.

Thirty-three-year-old Mohammad Imran alias Jangi was gunned down near his Azizabad home on March 30 when he was going to offer Asr prayers. “He was the fourth victim of the same attackers,” said a source privy to the investigation. “Now, at least two more men remain.” Three of the old group members, Shehzad aka Bhaiya, Noman aka Nomi and Adnan were gunned down in similar cases in March. Investigators have withheld their names to protect the remaining two members of the old gang.

In the 1990s, Imran was part of a group that used to be involved in robberies. Investigators told The Express Tribune that he was booked under Section 13-D for the possession of illegal weapons and was involved in a police encounter. “He used to also be a part of the group of notorious criminals Amir Hakla and Rashid Fauji, who were killed in encounters,” sources said. Members of Imran’s old group went to jail but were released on bail. “Presently, Imran and his companions are not involved in any criminal activity.”

According to his friends, Imran knew that he would be targeted some day. They had tried to convince him to carry ammunition at least. “Whoever doesn’t have a fear of God in their heart, is afraid of death,” he used to say, said a friend.

Imran was a senior PPP activist who had been with the party since childhood and even his family has a political background. “My brother used to be with President Asif Ali Zardari, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and many others,” his brother Mohammad Khurram told The Express Tribune. “It was not only an attack on my brother but it was an attack on the PPP.”

Imran was a familiar figure in the area and had a good reputation. “My brother always cared for everyone but nobody cared for him,” Khurram said. “A crowd gathered at the spot and he was taking his last breaths but nobody helped him.”

Station Investigation Officer Azam Rana, who recently took charge at Azizabad, was confident of swift arrests.

A criminal, member of notorious crime gang, had a good reputation, had fear of God in his heart, its an attack on PPP and Police confident of swift arrest when its a fourth person killed and still no arrests. How did this story pass the editorial board?

The second one comes from Pakistan Today. Its written by Urooj Zia who normally writes good investigative pieces in Himal South Asia (here on Raymond Davis and on talking with Talibans) but this one feels like she let her hatred of Tableeghi Jamat cloud her reporting.

Convert or go to hell: tablighis tell non-Muslim patients at govt hospitals

KARACHI – Twenty-three-year-old Zain*, a Catholic Christian, was admitted to the emergency ward of the Civil Hospital Karachi after he was shot and wounded as a passer-by in a crossfire. While his worried parents and sister stood around waiting for the doctor’s verdict, men in green turbans and high shalwars swooped down on Zain. “Brother, you must denounce your infidel ways. Kalma parhein (recite the Kalma),” they told the young man who was barely conscious and obviously in immense pain. “Become a Muslim, and god will forgive you all your transgressions against him. Die a Muslim!” Zain’s 17-year-old sister pleaded with them once to leave the family alone. “My brother is in pain. Please, let us take care of him,” she said. In response, one of the men turned around and gruffly told her to shut up. “Do not interfere in god’s work,” she was told.

Such scenes are no longer an anomaly at government hospitals in Karachi: men from various religious factions – the Tablighi Jamaat in particular – stalk the hallways of emergency wards, hoping to earn ‘savaab’ by converting non-Muslims on their deathbeds. In their quest for supposed divine rewards, they ignore the pleas of the families to be left alone with their loved one, as well as any pain that the patient might be in. Zain’s parents pulled their aside.


This act of harassing the patients and their families is to be condemned in strongest terms. I am no fan of Tableeghi Jamat (I have my reasons) but these are not Tableeghis. First of all, Tableeghis are not focused on conversion and more on making better believers out of believers. Secondly, the biggest give away and most of Karachiites wouldn’t even think twice about is “green turban” (hari pagrhi). Tableeghis wear white turbans. It is Dawat-e-Islami which Nadeem F Paracha calls the followers of pluralistic version of subcontinental Islam that wear the green turban. Both are hanafis but Tableeghis follow the Deobandi school and Dawat-e-Islami follow the Barelvi school.

Despite following the relatively hardline deobandi school, Tableeghis are pretty docile and they don’t even talk of fighting or jihad or conversion. Their ideology is all about making themselves better Muslim. If Urooj has an axe to grind with Tableeghis, she is welcome to do so by pointing out errors of their ways but labeling action by others as Tableeghi’s and then using it in the title of the news is a shoddy piece of journalism. Even a secondary school going kid in Karachi would know that people wearing green turbans are not Tableeghis.

In case, someone blames for sidetracking the larger issue, let me reiterate again, no one should be allowed to go around harassing patients and families in their darkest hours and anyone found doing so should be put behind bars for harassing them.