Pakistan's Political Future: The Influence Of Tehreek-e-Labaik And Protests

Pakistan's Political Future: The Influence Of Tehreek-e-Labaik And Protests

What incited the protests and what are their implications?

After Pakistan’s Law Minister allegedly changed a reference to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that the Pakistani oath lawmakers must take, something he claims to be a clerical mistake, he was declared by the mobs as being guilty of blasphemy. As protests erupted in Islamabad last weekend, killing 2 and injuring over 250, incited by none other than the Tehreek-e Laibbaik Pakistan. The group formed after a man shot a Punjabi governor over his criticisms of Pakistan’s vague blasphemy laws, essentially laws that make it illegal to insult Islam (but in reality, these laws do far more than that, as the definition of ‘insult’ is vaguely interpreted). The group has blocked a highway in the capital of Islamabad and is conducting protests throughout the country that are quickly turning violent.

Reuters reported the following: “Activists from Tehreek-e-Labaik have blocked the main road into the capital for the past two weeks in protest after blaming the law minister Zahid Hamid for changing the wording in an electoral oath proclaiming Mohammad to be the last prophet of Islam from “I solemnly swear” to “I believe,” a change the party says amounts to blasphemy.”

While the minister has apologized for the clerical error and changed the wording back, the protestors persist. According to The Washington Post, “The demonstrators had initially called for a federal minister to be fired over a religious controversy, but by midday, many protesters were demanding that entire government step down.” Many have also claimed that the change was made to appease the Ahmadi minority sect, whom the law claims to be heretics.

Tehreek-e Laibbaik, officially known as Tehreek-e Laibbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLY) is an Islamist Political Party in Pakistan that has been growing in the past couple of years, their main focus being blasphemy laws. This growth is deeply concerning for religious minorities in Pakistan that are often arbitrarily accused of blasphemy, as well as anti-blasphemy activists who see the laws as oppressive.

The eventual Pakistani deployment of the military came a little too late and without an apparent plan. While tensions have been brewing for the last 3 weeks there was no preventative effort, and once the military had been deployed it was clear they had no actual plan on how to de-escalate the situation. Instead, they resorted to controversial actions such as blocking social media, news channels, and YouTube throughout the region. The eventual resignation of Law Minister Zahid Hamidi, giving in to the demands of the protestors, is a troubling precedent to set.

The protests come lined with political tensions, whether indirectly or directly responsible for this incitement. The impeachment of the Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, a few months back amid charges of corruption, cannot be said to not play a role. BBC News reported: “Since Mr. Sharif's party, PMLN, has considerable standing with right-wing religious voters in Punjab province, many believe the protest by the ultra-right-wing Tehrik Labbaik Ya Rasool-ul-Lah (TLYRA) is aimed at attracting some of that support towards itself.” There is also much speculation that Nawaz Sharif will once again emerge the victor of next year's election in Pakistan, an equally if not more troubling predicament. These events breed an uncertainty about the political future of Pakistan.

Cover Image Credit: Sameer Akhtari / Unsplash

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Starbucks Corrects Its Wrongs In Light Of Recent Racial Bias Issue

All stores in the U.S. will be closed on May 29th to perform racial bias training.

Recently, a video of two African-American men being arrested in their local Starbucks for simply standing and waiting for their friends in the lobby/seating area surfaced on the internet. Since this situation was brought to light, there has been an uproar of public outrage focused on the blatant racial bias these men were faced with. Even Starbucks itself had something to say about it.

For many African-American citizens, this situation is all too common. Being racially profiled is not a thing of the past and more than just these two men have experienced it. The ACLU writes about the experiences of citizens being racially profiled, stating,

"We rely on the police to protect us from harm and promote fairness and justice in our communities. But racial profiling has led countless people to live in fear, casting entire communities as suspect simply because of what they look like, where they come from, or what religion they adhere to."

In light of the recent incident at a Philadelphia Starbucks, many fans expressed outrage in the comments section of this post, but Starbucks responded to almost every viral, angry comment:

However, in the midst all of the outraged comments were fans who appreciated the message that Starbucks was trying to send:

Despite the mixed reviews on Starbucks' course of action, the company is standing strong in their choice to address the issue and correct it.

People come to Starbucks stores to drink coffee, hang out, talk with their friends, and have a good time. It is absurd that these two men were escorted out and arrested for doing just that. I, personally, have done that same thing and have never once been asked to leave.

As a country, we need to think about the way we treat people of color and other minorities. It is a shame that this kind of public outcry had to happen to bring racial profiling to our attention. People are treated unfairly for no reason other than the color of their skin every day.

Way to go, Starbucks.

Thank you for recognizing that this was not an isolated incident and that racial profiling happens all the time. Thank you for taking the time to publicly announce that you are willing to go through the proper training with your employees to ensure that it doesn't happen ever again. But most of all, thank you for making a statement to the rest of the nation and the world about what kind of company you are, what kind of people you represent, and that racial injustice will not be tolerated.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Why Earth Day Is Underrated, And What You Can Do

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.” –The Lorax

April 22 may be just another day to most, but with climate change on the rise and wildlife becoming extinct, it’s more important now than ever to recognize Earth Day and understand what it entails. Our society as a whole cannot let this day pass with nothing done. It has to serve as a reminder of the action that must be taken.

Late January of 1969 would come to be a turning point for our nation. At the time, the worst oil spill in history occurred in Santa Barbara, California. Founder of Earth Day, Gaylord Nelson was horrified, yet inspired. Soon after, he announced his idea to teach the nation about the environment and built a staff to promote events across the country.

Earth Day brought thousands of colleges and universities together to fight for the cause. It became a sense of unity for everyone. No matter who you were, what race you were, where you came from, Earth Day was able to empower these people and help them realize they all wanted the same thing for the home we share. This kind of behavior is exactly what we need today, and should enable us to see that we’re all on the same side.

By the time 1990 came, Earth Day became a global event. 200 million people were involved to fight for environmental issues.

Today, Earth Day and the environment face many challenges. With those who deny climate change, deforestation, oil lobbyists, fracking, dying animal life, politicians dividing our nation on these issues, and much more, Earth Day astoundingly continues to prevail through the obstacles. With over 190 counties participating in the event each year, and more than 1 billion people, it’s never too late to do your part and contribute to the day.

Here are some basic things that anyone can do to make a change. Every day counts, and anything you do matters.

1. Join a local outdoors cleanup

Rivers, forests, beaches, whatever is near you. Help clean up litter and debris.

2. Carpool

This is probably the simplest thing you and your friends or family can do. If you’re going to the same place, drive together. For every mile you don’t drive- you’re reducing your carbon footprint by 1 pound.

3. Bring reusable bags when you shop

They’re cheap, cute, and save an abundance on plastic.

4. Use a reusable water bottle

Save on wasting plastic bottles every day.

5. Use environmentally friendly cleaning products

Typical cleaning products are high in chemicals and toxicity.

6. Always recycle!

Paper, plastic, cans, anything you can. Every individual thing recycled makes a difference.

7. Use LED lightbulbs

This can reduce your footprint 450 pounds per year.

8. Volunteer at local environmental groups

See if your school has an environmental club, or anything local in your town. See how many people you can get to do it with you and make a day out of it.

9. Donate your clothes and check out thrift stores

Instead of throwing them out, give them to somewhere they will be of use. Also, thrift shopping is inexpensive and you can find some really unexpectedly great items!

10. Don’t wait until Earth Day to do all of these things

Keep up the green behavior year-round.

Do your part, and do what you can today.

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

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