Jibran Nasir in Silicon Valley
By Riaz Haq
Young Pakistani activist Mohammad Jibran Nasir was a big draw at a Silicon Valley lunch organized Saturday May 16 by iKolachi Policy Research Institute under Talk4Pak banner. The event began with Pakistani- American children lighting candles and performing “Bara Dushman Bana Phirta Hai Jo Bachon Se Darta Hai”, a popular song produced after the terrorist attack on the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar that claimed 140 lives, most of them children. It was followed by Riaz Haq introducing Silicon Valley-based Talk4Pak Pakistani-American think tank, specifically its focus on the use of social media to counter the false narrative of the religious fanatics and terrorists who are also using the same media to justify their campaign of murder and mayhem of innocent people.
Jibran’s presentation began with a documentary showing the origins of his “reclaim your mosque” movement with a historic demonstration at Islamabad’s Lal Masjid demanding the arrest and prosecution of the radical cleric Maulana Abul Aziz. It was the first-time ever in Pakistan’s history that a significant number of young Muslims gathered spontaneously to make such a demand in front of a mosque. Jibran shared with the audience the details of the duplicity of the leaders of all major political parties. He showed pictures of PMLN, PPP, PTI and MQM politicians posing with the sectarian leaders of supposedly banned organizations who are known to be responsible for large-scale terrorist attacks against Shias and various minority groups in the country.
Jibran described his organization Never Forget Pakistan and several of its media campaigns in some detail. Here is the “Citizens’ Charter of Demands” agreed by the organization: The Charter is part of a global movement of concerned Pakistanis opposed to violent extremism in the name of religion. We stand by the victims of such violence and aim to provide them with moral and other forms of support to alleviate their suffering. We envision a Pakistan free of hatred and oppression, where all Pakistanis can coexist peacefully and where diversity in religious thought and belief is accepted and respected. We present the following demands for the Government of Pakistan (“Government”):
1. We stand for human rights and demand the Government to ensure equal citizenship rights for all Pakistanis.
2. We oppose Takfir (declaring anyone a non-Muslim/Kafir) and subjecting anyone to persecution on that basis. We demand the Government that takfir be treated and tried as hatespeech.
3. We demand that the Government take immediate action against all forms of hate speech which may be defined as words, spoken or written, that incite violence and hatred against any community based on their religious affiliations.
4. We demand that the Government act against any extra-judicial killings or violence in the name of religion and false accusations of “blasphemy”. We demand the reform of Pakistan’s blasphemy law in order to prevent its misuse.
5. We support the rule of law and due process. We demand that the Government enhance the capacity of law enforcing agencies to deal with crime and violence at the local level. Such crimes feed violent extremist groups at other levels.
6. We demand that educational curriculum at all levels should include teachings that promote compassion, tolerance and respect for human rights. Text books should be revised to expunge any material that incites or preaches hatred and/or violence against any community or section of society
7. We demand that the Government act against banned outfits and individuals operating in the name of religion. The Government must also publicize the list of banned outfits engaged in sectarian and religious violence and proceed legally against them.
8. We demand that Pakistani electronic media cease giving airtime to any individual or organization which engages in hate speech, inciting violence in the name of religion and/ or has been declared banned by the Government.
9. We demand that the Government immediately freeze assets of banned outfits and of those who are associated with them and take all measures to permanently cut off their sources of domestic and international financing. The Government should impose sanctions, including travel restrictions, on such outfits and individuals.
Among the generally positive reviews of Jibran’s speech that have come in so far, the following feedback from Dr Safwan Shah, a prominent Pakistani-American entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, particularly stands out: “For an hour I was transported to a place where every new minute inspired me to fall in love with Pakistan again. Who could have imagined, a twenty something young man would have so much charisma, chutzpah and calmness. All that while conveying the most gory and disgusting details of how people of our beautiful motherland kill each other. Dear Cemendtaur, Thank you for inviting me to listen to Jibran Nasir’s talk. He is a gift we must cherish and protect. He is attempting to fuse together the million tiny pieces of our nation’s shattered self. He is trying to put humpty dumpty together again, hopefully much better than before. He needs people power not prayer to produce the mass movement which will help heal Pakistan’s soul by overcoming the demons that terrorism unleashes. As I processed his words, flowing so sincerely and purely I recalled the 80’s. Which we all believe is when the detritus began. That was the time when we gave up on Pakistan. That is when I decided that this battle was too far gone and my best recourse is to turn away from the gleaming, bloodshot eyes of the religious right, hunting for blood.
Seeing and hearing Jibran, I had profound guilt for turning our back and letting these demons flourish and spawn into millions of ideological killers. Seeing Jibran today gave me hope, far more than a glimmer, a gleam, a sustained lightning that kept thundering - my entire body exclaimed, we have people like him too. Thank you. So, first I want to thank him. Second, I want to say sorry, we gave him a million broken pieces because we could not stop the hammer that had just started to systematically break our society while we just watched and then we turned away. Please thank Faraz Darvesh for making the effort required to pull all this together”.
Here’s a Viewpoint From Overseas interview with Jibran Nasir with Jibran responding to attacks on him: What is Jibran Nasir’s hidden agenda? Who is behind Jibran Nasir? What does Jibran Nasir want to achieve? Is Jibran Nasir maligning Pakistan? Is Jibran Nasir maliciously airing Pakistan’s dirty laundry? Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these and other questions with this week’s special guest Jibran Nasir and co-host Misbah Azam in Silicon Valley, California, USA.