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Pakistan (2005-2006)

Penodaan Agama: Menista Agama atau Menista Ego?

Pengalaman pertama saya bersinggungan dengan isu penodaan agama adalah pada tahun 2006, ketika saya berada di tengah ribuan demonstran di kota Lahore, yang memprotes pemuatan karikatur yang menghina Nabi Muhammad S.A.W oleh sebuah koran Denmark. “Ini adalah wujud cinta pada Rasul” tertulis di salah satu poster yang dibawa demonstran. Seorang pemuda yang membawa pentungan berkata pada saya, “Kami mencintai Nabi kami, lebih daripada kami mencintai anak dan orangtua kami sendiri.” Para demonstran menuntut pembuat karikatur dijatuhi hukuman mati, sebagaimana berlaku dalam hukum Pakistan terhadap penghujat Nabi. Semua demonstran yang saya wawancarai mengaku tidak pernah melihat sendiri karikatur itu, tetapi amarah mereka meledak setelah mendengar dari ulama mereka di masjid. Selepas siang, demonstrasi yang dilandasi cinta itu berubah menjadi amuk massa dahsyat. Orang-orang membakar mobil dan sepeda motor di sepanjang jalan. Mereka juga menjarah dan membakar restoran, kantor, toko, dan bank, diiringi seruan memanggil Tuhan Yang Maha Besar. Lebih dari seratus bangunan dan empat ratus kendaraan hancur. Kerusuhan meluas ke kota-kota lain di seluruh negeri. Massa juga membakar gereja, sekolah-sekolah dan rumah-rumah milik warga Kristen di berbagai lokasi di Pakistan, sebagai balasan untuk “penodaan” karikatur Denmark itu. Masih pada saat saya berada di Pakistan, pada akhir 2005, kasus lain yang menggemparkan [...]

May 17, 2017 // 57 Comments

Pakistan: Ketika Tuhan Menjadi Negara

Perbatasan Wagah (disebut Attari oleh India) terletak hampir tepat di tengah jarak antara Lahore di Punjab Pakistan dengan Amritsar—kota suci umat Sikh di Punjab India. Walaupun ini satu-satunya perlintasan resmi sepanjang 2.900 kilometer garis batas kedua negara, perbatasan biasanya sepi sepanjang hari. Sangat sulit bagi penduduk mereka untuk saling mendapatkan visa; minat saling berkunjung juga rendah. Perbatasan ini sesungguhnya adalah pseudo-stadion, dengan tribun-tribun berhadap-hadapan bagi penonton, di sisi Pakistan maupun India. Menjelang sore, perbatasan mendadak ramai oleh penduduk kedua negeri yang membanjiri tribun masing-masing seperti suporter sepak bola fanatik. Di sisi India, dari lautan manusia berbaju warna-warni memenuhi tribun di seberang garis batas dan berkilau keemasan dibilas matahari senja, terdengar meriahnya dendang musik pop Bollywood, juga gemuruh pekikan: “Hindustan Zindabad!” Hiduplah India! Di sisi Pakistan, di bawah bayang-bayang Gerbang Kebebasan, kami tak mau kalah, memekik sekencang-kencangnya, “Pakistan Zindabad! Pakistan Zindabad!” Pemandu sorak kami adalah seorang kakek berjenggot putih. Konon dia tak pernah absen agar semangat kami Pakistan jangan sampai kalah dari India. Dia selalu mengenakan pakaian hijau yang sama, bergambar bulan sabit dan bintang—lambang Islam dan lambang Pakistan—dan bertuliskan huruf Urdu: Pakistan Zindabad. “Nara e Takbir!!!” Pekikkan kebesaran Allah! kakek itu berteriak. “Allahuakbar!” [...]

April 14, 2016 // 12 Comments

Third Book, Titik Nol (Point Zero) is Coming

Faraway. Why everybody is obsessed by that word? Marco Polo traveled faraway from Venice to the Mongolian Empire. The explorers adventured through dangerous seven seas. The climbers put their life on the line just for a few moments conquering majestic peaks. He was also overwhelmed by the “faraway”. The Traveler decided to get involved in globetrotting journey. He sneaked to the forbidden land in Himalaya, staying in mysterious Kashmir, and became witness of warzones and massacres. Started by a dream, flowing like a series of dreams, this is a journey of a traveler searching for a meaning. Until to the point that he had traveled very, very far, he was forced to return home, kneel down besides his mother’s bed. And from the story of the very mother who has never traveled anywhere, little by little he revealed the meanings of journey that he was missing. Paperback, 568 pages Published February 2013 by Gramedia Pustaka Utama ISBN: 9789792292718 edition language: Indonesian For the details of this book, please visit : http://agustinuswibowo.com/TitikNol ——————————————————————————————————————————————– My third book, Titik Nol, is being released in Indonesia. This book is so special for me. It [...]

February 7, 2013 // 0 Comments

Media Indonesia (2011): Menelusuri Jalur Para Penakluk

Saya melintasi Khyber Pass tiga kali. Dua kali pertama pada 2002, dari Pakistan menuju Afghanistan, dan berselang tiga minggu sesudahnya, dari Afghanistan kembali ke Pakistan. Hanya setahun setelah rezim Taliban runtuh, Khyber Pass masih menyiratkan nuansa misterius dari negeri yang terus-menerus dilanda perang berkepanjangan.

October 4, 2011 // 0 Comments

Six Months in Pakistan – A Conclusion

How I missed Pakistan badly Six months in Pakistan? Six months might be a long period, but might also be an incredibly short of time to enjoy a country named Pakistan. My six months in Pakistan made me learn many things, but also made me feeling I knew almost nothing about Pakistan. It’s a country of love and hospitality, but it’s also country of grieve and anger. Trying to conclude about my six month of experience in Pakistan in this one posting, is indeed a difficult task. OK, rather than thinking about where to start, let’s start from the hospitality. Everybody, I am sure, who comes for the first time in Pakistan, would be overwhelmed by the hospitality of the people. The concept of ‘mehman’ or ‘guest’ in Pakistan is a very big deal. Pakistanis feel honoured to serve guests, to protect them, and to give them anything they need. Sometimes the mihmannavazi or hospitality reach to some extends that is difficult to believe. A Kashmir earthquake victim may sacrifice all of the chickens he has to provide the best biriyani for the dinner of the guest, despite of his own difficulty of daily food. Invitations for tea and dinner [...]

June 12, 2006 // 0 Comments

Peshawar – Village Experience

June 6, 2006 Walled houses of the Pashtuns. Behind the concrete walls, nobody knows what is hidden there. Ziarat Gul (not real name) is a young boy of 19 years old taking computer education in Peshawar whom I met two months ago incidentally in an Internet Cafe in University Town area. I was in Internet Cafe, and he sat next to me. He kept staring at me and asking me questions this and that, that I couldnt even concentrate of using the connection. Then my Malaysian female friend came to the Cafe. The boy’s attention turned to the girl, and he kept asking me questions about my Malaysian friend. I didnt answer so much as I was annoyed. Later I found that he was desperate about girls with Chinese appearance. But at least he didnt show any intention of interested at me sexually, so I accepted his invitation to visit his village and gave him my mobile number. The chance to go to his village just came yesterday, two months after the invitation. I met him again in the same place, and he agreed to take me home. As computer student, and as I am an engineer of computer science, [...]

June 6, 2006 // 3 Comments

Peshawar – Sexual Innuendo (Again???)

June 6, 2006 Man-to-man body contact is very normal here I was looking for a cheap transport to go to Khyber Pass, as foreigners are not allowed to take the public transports. So a friend of mine introduced me to a travel guide. The travel guide was very friendly, visiting me to my hotel almost every night and yesterday took me to his office. It was night. He said, “Dont worry, you are my friend, I will give you cheap price…” bla bla bla. It didnt matter for me. He liked to touch my shoulder which is for me OK, but in his office he tried to rub my ear, then I thought I should keep the distance. When he took me back to my hotel with a taxi, he even gave me a chain of flower. Not until 3 minutes, I was already in the hotel, climbing the stairs to my room. Two guys, one fat one slim, both in shalwar qameez, both moustached, started to stare me and kept following me. They wanted to chat with me but they didnt speak Urdu well, only Pashto. From what I understood, they wanted me to go to their room. I [...]

June 6, 2006 // 3 Comments

Peshawar – Permit to Afghanistan

June 6, 2006 Bodyguards of Afghan consulate in Peshawar Three years ago, July 17, 2003 exactly, I was applying for the permit to pass thru Khyber Pass to go to Afghanistan. This is one of the essential procedure for foreigners to get to Afghanistan by land ‘legally’, as those areas bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan are all tribal controlled areas. I was with my travel companion, Adam from England, in the Home Department Office to apply for the permit for both of us. The Home Department didnt allow anybody to bring camera inside the office. I guessed maybe because that the office was too filthy. At the third floor we saw that the floor was flooded by water, leaking from cooler machine apparently. The rooms were all dark, with water on the floor, thousands of papers every here and there, … But something more embarassing about the office that we experienced. First we were directed to go to the third floor where we were supposed to get the form. The old man in charge, in white dress, white cap, and white beard, first interviewed us. First he emphasized, “You know, in this office, my signature is the most important signature. Without [...]

June 6, 2006 // 3 Comments

Peshawar – Afghanistan Miayam

The guys in Afghan consulate in Peshawar My trip in Pakistan is about to finish, the six months of time, seemingly long enough, is still not enough for me to visit even all of the provinces of Pakistan. And I still feel very hard to leave this country in very near future. But the journey has to go on, and the next trip is Afghanistan. Afghanistan Miiayam, in Farsi means Afghanistan, I’m coming. I have got the visa easily from its consulate in Peshawar. It cost 1$ per day, and I applied for three month visa which cost me 90$. Mr Rasuli, the visa officer, said that the visa started from the date of issue, but it seems that after confirmation with other traveller, the visa started from the date of entry and not the date of issue. I think that there is even miscoordination between the government and the visa officer of the country. I picked my visa at 3 pm. There were to Afghans sitting, also waiting for their passports. One of them thought I was from Afghan (I dressed in shalwar qamiz) and the other was sure I was foreigner. Then to make confirmation they started to [...]

June 5, 2006 // 2 Comments

Islamabad – Mahfil-e-Naat

June 3, 2006 Hysteric sea of audience in the party of Naat Syed Abid Gilani and Syed Rashid Kazmi, both I knew from the NGO working in Kashmir earthquake, were two among the people who organized a Naat concert, or Mahfil-e-Naat in Rawal Town, an area between Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Naat is an Islamic tradition here, to chant teachings about the religion in melidious way. It’s comparable to Nashid music in Malay tradition, minus the musical instruments. So a Naat singer (actually the people dont like to say Naat as song/gana, as Naat is from Quran and even it’s melodious we should avoid calling Naat as song) will chant the religious melody, and someone might accompany him with beating background vocal and it somehow turned to be like Acapella music. The background vocal sounds like Kalimah (the holy sentence) to be pronounced over and over with a certain beat. Today, the Naat star tonight is Syed Awais Qadri. My friend said that he was the Michael Jackson of Naat. No wonder that the audience were overwhelming. The concert started at midnight, and ended at 3 am. I also like Awais Qadri’s Naat and have saved some MP3 files in my [...]

June 3, 2006 // 1 Comment

Islamabad – Friday Prayers

June 2, 2006 Most mosques are not for women I am staying in a friend’s house, whose father is quite a renowned religious leader in the country. Syed Asmat Gilani had been in Danmark and other parts of Europe in last few years, and his modern teaching of the religion had converted thousands of people to grab Islam. Today is Friday, the most important day in the week for the Muslims. Mr Asmat was invited to give speech in a mosque nearby, and he also invited me to attend the prayers. The speech was delivered in Urdu. Even not all parts of the speech that I understood, I could grab little bit of the teaching. The speech was about the soul of religion (mazhab ki ruh), that is feeling the existance of God in your heart. Religion should be from the heart. There are three phases of the religion, that are shariat (religion), tarekat (spiritual), and hakikat (truth). Somehow the teaching resembles what we learnt in Taoism, that the Truth, what they call here as Hakikat, is to be found in your inner heart. The scene of friday prayers, where hundreds of people inside the mosque, and hundreds more outside, [...]

June 2, 2006 // 0 Comments

Karachi – The Biggest City of Pakistan

May 30, 2006 Karachi Talking about the biggest city of Pakistan, no, it’s not the new capital of Islamabad, it’s the port city of Karachi. Karachi was the capital of the new republic after the partition, but after the capital shift to the north, Karachi still serves as the economic center of the country. Karachi house the mausoleum of the founder of Pakistan, Mr. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, known as Quaid-i-Azam (the prime leader). This mausoleum is located not far from city center, and becomes the main pilgrimage spots for Pakistanis from the whole country. The architecture itself cannot be described more than distinctive, but still interesting place to spot the pilgrims. Karachi also has beaches. Cliffton beach might be the most popular in the city. If there is something that this beach doesnt share with other beaches in the world, it is the camels provided for the tourists to linger around the sand. It is not common for the visitors to swim here, so dont expect spotting girls with bikinis like those in Bali. In weekends, the beach might be crowded, by single visitors, couples, families, and even gay couples, who share affections quite openly on the benches near the [...]

May 30, 2006 // 0 Comments

Thar Desert – Life of Survival

May 22, 2006 Special thanks to Om Parkash Piragani from Sami Samaj Sujag Sangat and Jamal from Ramsar Otagh It’s a vast, hot, dry, dusty, shady desert area stretching from the corner of Interior Sindh of Pakistan up till Rajasthan and Gujarat over the other side there in India. Water is a main problem here, food is insufficient, and education is luxury. Thar or Tharparkar desert is where about one and half million tribal people, living in more than 800 widespread villages, survives their life, with their cattle, despite all of the hardship. Umerkot is a small, busy town connecting the desert to the interior Pakistan. It’s a vital survival for the people from the deep desert. Umerkot is not a common Pakistani city. It boasts the point of world history as the birth place of the biggest Mughal king, Akbar. And what makes the town special: it has the largest Hindu inhabitants proportion in this Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Most of the people, some claimed seventy percent, are Hindus. If might said, Umerkot is the ‘little India’ of Pakistan. The town has some offices, a bustling bazaar, rows of shops, and decent schools. For the people in the desert, [...]

May 22, 2006 // 1 Comment

Umerkot – A Hindu Family in Umerkot

May 20, 2006 Parkash enjoying morning tea I know Om Parkash from my Malaysian friend, Lam Li. They met for the first time in World Social Forum in Karachi. Om told Lam to come to Umerkot, as it’s a special place in Pakistan, where most of the population are Hindus instead of Muslims and has desert culture. Lam Li couldnt go to Umerkot due to her visa problem, so I ‘replaced’ her instead. When I came to Umerkot, it was around 12 pm on May 8, 2006. I was completely exhausted. When I arrived in Parkash’s office, he was not there. He is working in Sami Samaj Sujag Sangat, a local NGO, and he was out to the ‘field’ so I waited him. I was completely exhausted, that I suspect my hepatitis A came back again. When at last Parkash came I was sleeping on the desk of the director’s room, with my saliva everywhere on the desk. I felt embarassed. He took me immediately to his house. His house is big, there are 52 people living there. The interior resembles a hotel with many rooms in rows surrounding a square ground. Family full of laughters Later I found that [...]

May 20, 2006 // 0 Comments

Umerkot – A Day in Tharpakar

May 17, 2006 Hut in the middle of desert Today is another ‘field’ day for the social workers in Sami Samaj Sujag Sangat NGO in the desert area near the Indian Border, South Pakistan. Today, as the activities of previous weeks, the workers visited the villages (what they called as ‘fields’) in the deep desert of Tharpakar to introduce the new machine-readable ID card (computer sekhnati card) to the people deep in the desert. The people lived so much scattered in the dry desert of Tharpakar, isolated from outside world, uneducated, and unregistered. The NGOs were working hard to make data of how many people to be distributed ID Cards, but it was not an easy work considering the area and the fact that most of these desert people are still nomadic. Today we visited six villages; one village among them was half deserted already, left by the inhabitants to somewhere else greener. The desert was very dry, after years of drought, despite the fact that now was monsoon season, and people kept traveling to find greener and wetter area for their life and their cattle. It was noticeable, that all animals in this yellow dry desert: camels, cows, donkeys, [...]

May 17, 2006 // 3 Comments

Umerkot – A Failed Nation?

May 15, 2006 Giving understanding to the people and the leaders is a main task for the development programs here Sami Samaj Sujag Sangat is a small NGO in Umerkot dealing with the welfare of the people in the rural areas of Umerkot, bordering with the vast Tharpakar connecting this interior Sindh with Rajasthan and Gujarat in India side. This part of Pakistan had quite a substantial amount of Hindu people, and especially in deep desert, the rural villagers were mostly Hindus from the lowest caste. Umerkot itself had a glorious history as the birthplace of a Mughal king, Akbar. The town had a very ancient fort, but not much was left from the ruins. Parkash, a friend of mine, was working in this NGO with a teamwork which consist of people from the two religions: Muslims and Hindus. They work together without any problem. Religions had never been problem here, as people from both religions respect each other and live harmoniously. Beef was even not served in restaurants here, as about half of the population were Hindus and the Muslims respected their diet choice. Neither pork (as everywhere in Pakistan). The NGO was planning to held a health session [...]

May 15, 2006 // 0 Comments

Umerkot – Heatwave

May 14, 2006 The heatwave almost killed me Pakistan was boiling, Punjab was attacked by heatwave. The newspapers reported hundreds of people fainted and 30s killed in Sialkot and Lahore, where the temperature rocked until 50. And actually, I was among the victim. The hot days in Multan and Bahawalpur, and the unforgiving train journey from Punjab to interior Sindh, had eaten all of my power. ‘My old friend’ had come to visit me, and forced me to have a complete bed rest for a week. Fortunately, on my weakest time, I had arrived to a house of my survivor, the Hindu family of Piragani in deep Umerkot, where I could recover my health in a comfortable room filled with love and affection of the whole family of 52 people. My recovery was fast, but still hard work of research in hot and deep desert might danger my body. But I will try my best for [...]

May 14, 2006 // 0 Comments

Bahawalpur – Train Journey to Sindh

May 8, 2006 The totally-not-express Bahauddin Zakariya Express Packed. Hundreds of passengers, agressively jumped into the economy train of Bahauddin Zakariya which served the bottom class of people of cheap mass transport. The passengers blocked the only passage from the chart door until the seats with the unimaginable number of luggage of their each, and their huriness which dont allow others to pass. This was the common scene of passenger boarding in public transports in Sub Continents. It seems that everybody doesnt have any second of time, and ‘time is money’ concept suddenly overwhelmed the laid-back mind of these Pakistani passengers. The hurried passengers, each with their own hysteria of screaming and pushing, also zipping through, made everything worst. The train came late. It started from Multan, and Bahawalpur was supposed to be the second stop, separated around one and half hour. But the train came two hours late, and departure from Bahawalpur was in the middle of the night. Many of passengers didnt have seat, and this forced even babies had to sleep on the floor, with risk of being stepped by people. It was a struggle to get into my seat, and in this hot weather, even at [...]

May 8, 2006 // 0 Comments

Bahawalpur – The Christian Community

May 7, 2006 Father Nadeem Joseph That morning, 28 October 2001, just few minutes before 9, the Christian Protestant devotees were just finishing their weekly mass. The church was a Catholic curch, St Dominic Church, in the Model Town area, a well-to-do area in Bahawalpur. The Protestant were allowed to do mass here, with the concession with the Catholic fathers. They were given the morning shift, from 8 to 9. The mass has just almost finished, the pastor walked toward the gate, and the people following him, ready to receive blessing. Suddenly two strangers with machine guns came through the door, splashing the bullets from their weapons to all directions. The hungry bullets flew to the breasts, legs, chests, women, children, men, everybody. The casualties was not few, 16 people killed by the firing. This was the first in Pakistan history of brutality against Christian minority. But it was not the last. The church is a small building, very simply decorated, with only three rows of benches in both male and female quarters. Most of the spaces given to visitors were matrass. The devotees sat on their knee while delivering their prayers here. In Urdu, church is “girjah”, sounds quite [...]

May 7, 2006 // 0 Comments

Uch Sharif – The Saint City

May 5, 2006 Half Left Bahawalpur is the gate to the saint city of Uch Sharif, where some of the most holy men of Islam and Sufi were putting their roots here. Uch Sharif is said to had the second oldest university, after Rome. Where in Rome, the universities were already left their medieval time, replaced by cableless internet connection equipped classrooms, the religious schools in Uch Sharif were still looked wrapped by the time of their heydays. Uch Sharrif is about 100 kms away from Bahawalpur. The bus had to change in a nearby city, Ahmedpur, which was 20 kms away from Uch. The bus conductors, as in other places in Pakistan, would admit everybody even when they were sure that the bus wouldnt take the passenger to the destination. I departed early to avoid the summer heat (reach almost 45 now), but still I spent too much time on road because the bus going to other direction insisted to take me anyway. And as result of this friendly and helpful ticket seller, I was lost in the middle of nowhere. Pilgrims bring flowers as symbol of their prayers Uch Sharif bazaar was the gate to the little town. [...]

May 5, 2006 // 1 Comment

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