Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Tenth Crusade

A Pakpotpourri Exclusive

By: Naveed Tajammal

Jordanian Archaeologists have discovered a cave underneath the Saint Georgeous Church in RehabArcheeologists have discovered a cave underneath the Saint Georgeous Church in Jordan which they claim dates back to the time of Christ

 

The earliest set up of the Christian Church was similar to the Jewish synagogues but with a Council of ordained Presbytes,’ [ a Greek word meaning a old man ].Till the Apostolic age lasted,1st century AD Jerusalem remained the main Church Headquarters.Thereafter we see a shift,in shape of Episcopal See’s or Patriarchs. However by 4th Century Bishops had taken over & assigned themselves provinces of the Roman Empire.So emerges the Pentarchy from the Greek,word ”pente’ meaning number 5,and ‘archy’ ‘the rule.This was confirmed officially.By Emperor Justinian [527-565 AD ],So emerge the Five centers,Jerusalem,Alexandria,Antioch,Constantinople,and Rome.The formal recognition came by the Quinisext Council in 692 AD,as by then the Muslims had taken over, Alexandria,Antioch and Jerusalem,And Constantinople remained the last Eastern Episcoplal See,beside Rome.
However the Patriachs of the three lived at Constantinople and so continued the See’s.The term Pope’ which is Greek,papas’,Being based in Rome always tried to impose his will on others.However the Eastern Church having Juresalem on its panel where Jesus had lived and died,negated the papal monarchy.In the early period the Pope of Rome,had been subordinate to The Byzantine Emperor in Constantinople and had been appointed by the wish of the emperor through his civil governor in Italy.The problems arose in the break after the two ”Iconoclasm’ disputes,[726-787 AD] and [814-842 AD].This cause of dispute arose as the Eastern part followed the old covenant based on the Ten Commandments by virtue of which,it was forbidden making and worshiping of  images,The western church challenged this on the grounds that the old covenant had ceased to exist by the time of Jesus so they could make images of Jesus,the virgin Mary,and Theotokos [saints],By the 6th century AD,in Christianity the hierarchy of intercession had emerged,reverting back,as Eastern Church claimed to old Paganism,This hierarchy constituted the Trinity at its pinnacle,Christ,Virgin Mary Theokotos and last stood the believer.So in order to seek and obtain a Divine favor believers would pray to Theotokos,[saint] so that through his intercession,the prayer may pass to Christ and onward to God.So had started the old pagan rites of pilgrimages to places sanctified by religion or graves,of the dead saints,so grew as well the needs for Relics’ and images made of wood or stone.The importance to relics grew more after the discovery of the True Cross by Helena the mother of Emperor Constantine l as She had gone to the Holy Places in 326-328 AD.Later claimed through a Dream of a miracle in locating the hiding place of the True Cross,The myth of the True Cross emerges later in a book [1260 AD],written by one Jacopo de Voragine,who was the Bishop of Genoa,in his book ‘The Golden Legend’.
Should one study the Theological anthropology of the Christian faith divided by two main churches, it is amazing,We find sadly,that the original elements of Christianity as propounded by Jesus and communicated to his disciples grew later into a new religion,subjected to the influences of Roman Civilization,Greek Philosophy and the Eastern Theosophy.And so emerges a supernatural aura of Jesus.By the 5th Century BC,the Buddhist preaching had even spread to west,The Greek conquests and the Roman in the East had brought with it the intoxicating influence of its subtle religious ideas,it was termed by West as ‘Gnostism’ which had a massive impact in dissolving the Old Religions,under its touch.Even in the Art and Literature of the period in West we find its prevalence.During the Age of Augustus and his successors it gradually,insensibly undermined the beauteous sensuous mythology of Greece and the harder sterner religion of Rome,and substituted for them a Religion in which,If fear was the prevailing emotion, worshipers still felt that there was more spirituality and  greater claims to universality than their old Religion could give,and within Christianity grew the schisms with passage of Time beside the in-growth of Gnosticism and later Mysticism.The western church as per the stance of the Eastern.Fell in the Great Apostasy,as it had inducted in itself the Greco-Roman mysteries,which it was felt,were needed to attract the Pagans,to become nominal Christians The Catholic Church,took measures to amalgamate,the christian & pagan festivals as well the Eastern Theosophy [Gnosticism].Which created the theory of Original guilt,the pessimistic, aspect of humankind plight,and so the Catholic church,started preaching the Doctrine of Original Sin,which is a item missing in the Eastern church,Even in the western churches three main branches the concept of, original sin, is hotly contested, Lutheran,Catholic & Orthodox,whereas the eastern church stands apart from the three churches mentioned,and rejects any notion of the inherited original guilt,that being,all humans share the guilt of Adams Sin.
St.Augustine rejects the ritual of baptizing the infant,as his logic being,infants need Not be baptized since they have Not committed any sin so far !
The next sore issue has been of Imago Dei [ image of God] and the Free-Will,The imago Dei has been discussed earlier,in the Iconoclast Struggle between the both churches.on the free will aspect ,Luther contented,”After the fall of Adam, free will is a mere expression,whenever it acts in character,it commits a mortal sin’,and so continues the debate,over the interpretations.
A debate over the nature of Jesus, too, surfaced,though earlier the Church,had’ determined,that’ Christ was the Son of God,yet what his exact nature was,remained open to debates.
Arainism,is attributted to Arius [250-336 AD], a christian presbyter [elder priest],and his contention on this issue,that,was Jesus a son of God ? Arius stated,such had Not been the case at the start,but he was created by the church to be a son of God.As historically the concept of Trinity emerges inbetween 325,360 & 431 AD after the coucils of Nicea,Constaniople & Ephesus.
However Islam considers,Jesus a Prophet,but Not Divine,Islam teaches Obsolute Indivisibilty of a supremely sovereign and Transcendent Allah,and Doctrine of Trinity is Blasphemous.
The person to whom the Catholic church is indebted for the Grand Concept of fully developing the Doctrine of Trinity was St.Basil [330-379 AD ] of Cappadocia [central Anatolia,Turkey,The Old Persian region of ‘Katpatuka’ the Land of Horses].The stance of Non-Trinitarians,has been that the Doctrine of Trinity is a prime example of a borrowing from indo-european,persian and egyptian pagan sources.They further stress upon a fact that after the death,of the Apostles,the simple idea of God was lost & the doctrine of Trinity,took its place,due,to the weakness of the church,in accommodating the Pagan Ideas.Now a brief look on the concept of old three [Trinity] in older Religions,to further elucidate the point,Egyptian had,Horus,Isis and osims,The Celtic,Teutatis,Taranis and Egus,Persian,had Mithra ,split in three,The Vedic,had,Mitra,Indra and Varuna,Prussian,had, Perkunos,Patrimpas and Pikuolis,Norse.had ,Odin,Vili and Ve.,Arab had,al-lat,al-uzza and manat,Greek,had,Zeus,Athena and Apollo,The Roman had,Jupiter,Juno and Minerva,Taoism ,has the three,Fu,Lu and Shou,Mahayana Budhism,has the three,Sakamuni,Avalokitesvara,and Ksitigraba;Puranic hinduism had the three,Brahma,Vishnu and Shiva,All this should suffice to ‘substantiate’ my argument.
The papal Monarchy has always striven to gain control over the whole of Christianity by various ruses,The crusades being a prime example,If you study the instigators behind the nine previous and the Tenth in offing,you will find the Popes coaxing the Christianity to serve their ulterior motives under the banner of a crusade.As was seen on the start of the First crusade,which was done on a assurance by Pope Urban ll,to his ‘Flock’,That all Christians who take up arms for the Holy Cause would get Absolution of their past Sin’s, and all who died would get immediate entry into the Heaven”. [Council of Clermont 1095 AD]. The actual motive,was,to take over the heart land of the old  Episcole See of Juresalem,Before coming to the last paragraph of this discourse,I would like to enlighten the reader of the mindset of the Catholic Clergy by remarks,as given by Bishop of Winchester on hearing the appeal,for help by an envoy of Al-mut; after the irruption of Mongols.His words had been ,”Let these Dogs devour each other and be utterly wiped out and then,we shall see,founded on their ruins,the Universal Catholic Church,and then shall truly be one,shepherd and one flock”.[vol.lll,p-6,A History Of Persian Literature,by Edward G.Brown,Cambridge university Press.1920 ].
In the prelude to the Tenth Crusade under progress,we see once again the papal monarchy busy on its mission,by the letter addressed to Christodoulo,The Archbishop of Athens,written in 2001 AD,”It is tragic that the assailants who set to secure free access for Christians to the Holy Lands turned against their brothers in faith…..’.
This has been regarded as an apology though much belated, to the Eastern Church the old enemy,of the Vatican,for the terrible slaughter perpetrated by the Warriors of the 4th Crusade,when they attacked Constantinople[instead of Muslims] to wrest the center of Eastern Church,and end,the controversy  once for all.So Trinity may rule supreme.

 

Quotidian Existence In Pakistan:People are living their lives!

A beautiful piece by Saad. Pakistan is not about death,bombs,rouge activities.It is about enthusiastic people, love of living,culture and getting on with life-no matter what the problems. Few countries can equal the resilience of Pakistani people.
EDITOR
By: Saad Khan
men-in-anarkaliMeeting a friend prior to my departure to Pakistan last December, I was left with a final message as we shook hands and parted ways: “Come back safely.”  This was said with genuine concern rather than as a simple parting farewell, as if by merely setting foot in Pakistan I was brazenly putting myself in harm’s way. An Iranian colleague made a similar assessment of Pakistan, sympathetically comparing his country to mine.  “The situation’s messed up,” he said.  “For both countries.”
“It’s not quite the same situation,” I tried to explain diplomatically.
He didn’t seem to understand.
It isn’t quite the same situation, but I understood the perspective. Pakistani life seems bleak, dangerous and cruel, the ultimate rogue state amongst rogue states.  Like many expatriate Pakistanis who have spent most of their lives abroad, I always take a defensive posture when acquaintances and friends ask if “everything is ok over there”, as if the entire country is on the verge of collapsing in on itself like a condemned building.
This past visit was the sixth one to Pakistan since 9/11, and one of innumerable other trips to the country since I was born.  Since 2001, the state of affairs in the country has been dynamic if not chaotic: domestic terrorism has increased, military rule has come and gone, food prices have augmented exponentially, and floods and earthquakes have foisted more misery on the country.  Yet my Pakistani experience—one I have experienced since infancy—has always been a prosaic one: The Pakistan of middle-class traditionalism, weddings, obligatory family visits and shopping trips.
This quotidian existence was in my mind on my last trip to the country, where much of my time was spent performing similar unremarkable activities.  One afternoon in Lahore, the day after arriving in the city, I accompanied my father to the Anarkali bazaar to buy a dress for my niece. The bazaar is well-known in Lahore, supposedly named after a slave-girl said to be buried near there, herself executed by immurement by a Mughal emperor for her supposed seduction of the heir apparent to the throne. The legend seems to embody some of the social injustices faced now in Pakistan: class conflict, immutable patriarchy, violence as a tool too easily wielded by the elites against the weak.
We passed through alleyways full of jewelry stalls, dyers, and darzis (tailors). My father spotted a long, pink skirt in a stall full of hundreds of clothes for children of all ages.  The dukhanwallah (shopkeeper) and he engaged in the usual mercantile game, where the former extolled the virtues of the fabric and the stitching, while the latter picked at flaws to lower the bargaining price.  The dukhanwallah agreed to sell for 1300 rupees; the price spontaneously rose to 1400 rupees moments before my father paid him.  This prompted another fierce discussion between vendor and client.  Possibly amused by his audacity, my father acquiesced and paid the higher price.
It was an episode that was banal and ordinary, and all the more inspiring for it. I was struck by the enthusiastic and wily performance the shopkeeper engaged in, all for the sake of a presumably much needed sale. If thedukhanwallah represented a typical citizen, the average Pakistani was hardly a benighted creature suffering under miserable circumstances. This said more for me about Pakistan than gloomy, Western media punditry ever did: A suffering country, but one where pluck and a survivor mentality govern everyday life.
A part of me didn’t quite believe this observation.  I was, perhaps, too inundated with the worst-case-scenarios of Pakistani life from both foreign and Pakistan media to believe in something so simplistic.  Conversations with relatives about the current state of the country revealed little. I asked them frankly about their perceptions of the country solely revolving around geopolitics, the 2010 floods, life after Osama, perceptions of security, and so forth.  Almost universally, I got the impression that the question itself was irrelevant: Yes, problems are there, but the country has bounced back (to a degree) from the floods, and safety is not something of more concern than it has been for years.
People were living their lives.  Perhaps things weren’t that bad.
Those moments, with family and the shopkeeper, were those I wish my more doubtful foreign acquaintances could have partaken in.  They would be moments when they realized that Pakistan is much more than a Talibanized source of world chaos, a perpetual land of corruption and self-inflicted violence. Undeniably, the violence, environmental damage, religious strife, and female disempowerment affecting the country is all too real. Yet, although Pakistan may not thrive the way it should, like the dukhanwallah it survives and lives on its own terms.

Meeting a friend prior to my departure to Pakistan last December, I was left with a final message as we shook hands and parted ways: “Come back safely.”  This was said with genuine concern rather than as a simple parting farewell, as if by merely setting foot in Pakistan I was brazenly putting myself in harm’s way. An Iranian colleague made a similar assessment of Pakistan, sympathetically comparing his country to mine.  “The situation’s messed up,” he said.  “For both countries.”

“It’s not quite the same situation,” I tried to explain diplomatically.
He didn’t seem to understand.
It isn’t unite the same situation, but I understood the perspective. Pakistani life seems bleak, dangerous and cruel, the ultimate rogue state amongst rogue states.  Like many expatriate Pakistanis who have spent most of their lives abroad, I always take a defensive posture when acquaintances and friends ask if “everything is ok over there”, as if the entire country is on the verge of collapsing in on itself like a condemned building.
This past visit was the sixth one to Pakistan since 9/11, and one of innumerable other trips to the country since I was born.  Since 2001, the state of affairs in the country has been dynamic if not chaotic: domestic terrorism has increased, military rule has come and gone, food prices have augmented exponentially, and floods and earthquakes have foisted more misery on the country.  Yet my Pakistani experience—one I have experienced since infancy—has always been a prosaic one: The Pakistan of middle-class traditionalism, weddings, obligatory family visits and shopping trips.
This quotidian existence was in my mind on my last trip to the country, where much of my time was spent performing similar unremarkable activities.  One afternoon in Lahore, the day after arriving in the city, I accompanied my father to the Anarkali bazaar to buy a dress for my niece. The bazaar is well-known in Lahore, supposedly named after a slave-girl said to be buried near there, herself executed by immurement by a Mughal emperor for her supposed seduction of the heir apparent to the throne. The legend seems to embody some of the social injustices faced now in Pakistan: class conflict, immutable patriarchy, violence as a tool too easily wielded by the elites against the weak.
We passed through alleyways full of jewelry stalls, dyers, and darzis (tailors). My father spotted a long, pink skirt in a stall full of hundreds of clothes for children of all ages.  The dukhanwallah (shopkeeper) and he engaged in the usual mercantile game, where the former extolled the virtues of the fabric and the stitching, while the latter picked at flaws to lower the bargaining price.  The dukhanwallah agreed to sell for 1300 rupees; the price spontaneously rose to 1400 rupees moments before my father paid him.  This prompted another fierce discussion between vendor and client.  Possibly amused by his audacity, my father acquiesced and paid the higher price.
It was an episode that was banal and ordinary, and all the more inspiring for it. I was struck by the enthusiastic and wily performance the shopkeeper engaged in, all for the sake of a presumably much needed sale. If the dukhanwallah represented a typical citizen, the average Pakistani was hardly a benighted creature suffering under miserable circumstances. This said more for me about Pakistan than gloomy, Western media punditry ever did: A suffering country, but one where pluck and a survivor mentality govern everyday life.
A part of me didn’t quite believe this observation.  I was, perhaps, too inundated with the worst-case-scenarios of Pakistani life from both foreign and Pakistan media to believe in something so simplistic.  Conversations with relatives about the current state of the country revealed little. I asked them frankly about their perceptions of the country solely revolving around geopolitics, the 2010 floods, life after Osama, perceptions of security, and so forth.  Almost universally, I got the impression that the question itself was irrelevant: Yes, problems are there, but the country has bounced back (to a degree) from the floods, and safety is not something of more concern than it has been for years.
People were living their lives.  Perhaps things weren’t that bad.
Those moments, with family and the shopkeeper, were those I wish my more doubtful foreign acquaintances could have partaken in.  They would be moments when they realized that Pakistan is much more than a Talibanized source of world chaos, a perpetual land of corruption and self-inflicted violence. Undeniably, the violence, environmental damage, religious strife, and female dis- empowerment affecting the country is all too real. Yet, although Pakistan may not thrive the way it should, like the dukhanwallah it survives and lives on its own terms.
Saad Khan is an upcoming writer. This is his first Article carried by this SITE. It is a cross post.

NOTA : Option to Reject All in Ballot Paper

A Pakpotpourri Exclusive

By: Yasmeen Ali

pakistan-election-ballot-boxElection Commission of Pakistan announced that an empty box will be now on the ballot paper-stating: ‘None of the above’  thereby rejecting all contesting candidates in a constituency. The news has taken political and media circles by storm. Most within these circles have opposed it, whereas the common educated man has hailed the decision. The Headmistress of a leading school wrote to me thus, “Brilliant idea.. gives the voter greater autonomy.. much needed autonomy actually.”

Advantages and disadvantages of this must be carefully evaluated before lauding or rejecting the idea. Those who oppose have declared it as a step against democracy. Is it? If the voter is allowed the chance of rejecting all-it offers him a broader base than to choose between the Devil and the Black Sea. In a number of cases, one hears people refraining from voting particularly in the urban areas because they do not want to vote for the same electable who have bought in change for the better. Urban areas are marked by low resident interaction, an absence of the ‘baithak’ (general commuting place for residents) culture. This is not only true of upscale areas but also lower-middle income neighborhoods.

However, biradari(clan)system holds sway still in voter decision, particularly in the rural area. They also fill the gap that is left by ideological absence of political parties. In this scenario the right of voters to reject any and every candidate offers an interesting option. An interesting question poses itself with the option. Let us assume 32% of total voters turn out for voting in a given constituency and more than 50% vote for ‘None of the above.’ This leaves 15% of votes behind to be then distributed between 4 or so candidates. Let us again assume that the candidate with the most votes manages to garner 7% votes- others bagging less. The question that comes to mind is: is the candidate with 7% of total votes cast in his favor legally and morally the winner of the contest?

What should the ECP do in this case?

If NOTA merely mean to state the number of people not willing to vote any contesting candidate in power on the ballot paper, they might as well not turn up to cast the votes. What weightage do the votes cast for NOTA signify if at all?

Logical follow-up to this scenario should be to call for a by-election with fresh candidates in the above given scenario. This will make contestants more answerable to the people they represent. This will make them more answerable in terms of broken promises to people they represent. It will also make them more answerable to the people in cases where rampant corruption committed, if any. In the final analysis let the people decide whom to vote for. That is the essence of democracy. This should also mean they cannot be appointed as advisors and chairpersons of organizations.

According to the July 14, 2008 edition of the “Times of India,” the caretaker Bangladeshi regime five years ago had also proposed that an election to a constituency should be cancelled if “no votes” somehow amounted to 50 per cent or more of the total votes cast—consequently leading to a by-election(The News 26th Feb 2013).

This decision by ECP has come at a time when according to a survey of the British Council titled Next Generation Goes to The Ballot Box, showed that only one in five young adults expect their economic situation to improve over the next year. An overwhelming 96 percent of those surveyed said the country was heading in the wrong direction and almost a third said they would prefer military rule to democracy. Just 29 percent chose democracy as the best system for Pakistan, with 40 percent favoring sharia, saying it was the best for giving rights and freedom and promoting tolerance. We must nurture democracy with fresh water not just be lip service and implement it in its truest spirit.

Pakistan is not the first country to introduce NOTA. Various countries and territories like Bangladesh, the American state of Nevada, Greece and Columbia etc have incorporated the ‘No Vote” or “None of the above” option on their ballot papers. Canada and Spain etc do not specifically have this provision on their ballot papers, but they do allow their citizens the right to decline to vote or to leave the ballot papers blank in dissent. Former Soviet Union had this provision in 1991 and after its break-up; Russia had kept on giving this privilege to its voters till 2006.

Why so much hue and cries on a step that is in the very spirit of democracy and all that is democratic?

The writer is a lawyer and University Professor. She can be reached at Twitter ID @yasmeen_9