An­i­mal Rights

Southasia - - Front page - A Commentary by Syed Rizvi Syed Rizvi is a physi­cist by pro­fes­sion, and through his group, En­gi­neers and Sci­en­tists for An­i­mal Rights, he reaches out to the sci­en­tific and tech­ni­cal com­mu­ni­ties, pro­mot­ing the an­i­mal rights phi­los­o­phy. Syed lives in Sil­ico

In its Oc­to­ber edi­tion, SouthA­sia has once again al­lo­cated its pages to is­sues of An­i­mal Rights, with fine ar­ti­cles from two rep­utable Pak­istani writ­ers: Nilofer Ahmed and Anees Jil­lani. I re­call that, for last year’s Oc­to­ber is­sue, also de­voted to An­i­mal Rights, many au­thors of in­ter­na­tional stature were in­vited to con­trib­ute their ar­ti­cles, which they very gra­ciously did. Con­tri­bu­tions from high pro­file names like Maneka Gandhi, Ingrid Newkirk, Tom Re­gan, and Peter Singer in­deed raised pub­lic aware­ness, and laid the foun­da­tion for fu­ture work.

Pro­gres­sive ideas such as en­vi­ron­men­tal­ism or fem­i­nism - or An­i­mal Rights - when first in­tro­duced, of­ten ben­e­fit from the sup­port of well-known, high-sta­tus pro­po­nents from abroad; they bring the aura, fla­vor and pres­tige of their for­eign roots, as well as the im­pact of their writ­ing style. How­ever, it is not un­til new ideas are in­ter­nal­ized by the cul­ture and be­come part of the nor­mal life of av­er­age cit­i­zens that a true move­ment can grow. While the early stages of a move­ment ben­e­fit from con­tri­bu­tions by for­eign writ­ers, it is the par­tic­i­pa­tion in di­a­logues, talks, and writ­ings by na­tive com­men­ta­tors that gives the ide­olo­gies and move­ments its life-force and ac­cep­tance by so­ci­ety.

In the cur­rent is­sue, an ar­ti­cle on the Im­por­tance of An­i­mals in Is­lam by Nilofer Ahmed, a reg­u­lar colum­nist in Pak­istan’s most pres­ti­gious news pa­per, DAWN, cites ex­ten­sively from scrip­ture to clearly demon­strate that Is­lam places great em­pha­sis on the well-be­ing of an­i­mals. Con­sid­er­ing Is­lamic cul­ture as part of the fab­ric of the whole re­gion, in­clud­ing the Mid­dle East [and even In­dia], an ar­ti­cle such as this is bound to af­fect how peo­ple across the re­gion view an­i­mals, help­ing to place the is­sue of an­i­mal wel­fare on the same foot­ing as other is­sues of so­cial jus­tice, such as child la­bor or early mar­riage.

On a sec­u­lar note, an ar­ti­cle on an­i­mal ethics and so­cial jus­tice by Anees Ji­la­nee (a prom­i­nent lawyer at the Pak­istani Supreme Court) strikes a chord by ar­tic­u­lat­ing, very con­vinc­ingly in my opinion, the point that prej­u­dice against an­i­mals is not dif­fer­ent from racism or sex­ism, which so­ci­ety con­sid­ers to be wrong.

Hence, in this is­sue two rep­utable Pak­istani au­thors have ad­dressed the cause of An­i­mal Rights from two dif­fer­ent perspectives: re­li­gion that guides the lives of a vast sec­tion of the so­ci­ety and sec­u­lar val­ues through which Pak­istan is a par­tic­i­pant in the com­mu­nity of na­tions seek­ing to erad­i­cate so­cial evils at all lev­els.

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