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Fakir S Ayazuddin is an interesting, intemperate columnist for The Nation of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. Always worth a read for the fine challenges he places before both the state machinery of Pakistan and the fundamentalist forces. In his latest column, titled "Abject Surrender", he spews venom at Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Ijaz ul-Haq, for having succumbed to the dictates of the mullahs who would "put up a mosque by way of mischief and infidelity". The minister has apparently "redrawn the map of the tribal areas (where the laws of Pakistan did not apply) to include parts of Islamabad, the Federal Capital of Pakistan. His abject surrender to the Mullahs now gives them the right to stop any searching of their premises, and stockpile any manner of weapons within striking distance of the Presidency itself." Justifiably livid, the columnist refers to the recent attacks on the Marriott Hotel, at the very heart of the capital, and the blast at the airport, and states: "Yet with all the threats and acts of suicide bombers, an impenetrable madressah was allowed to dictate its own terms, and succeeded in forcing the government to condone an illegality. Religion is to be respected, always, but not when it is used to bludgeon the law of the land into submission. When it also flouts the words of the Holy Quran itself then we have a serious administrative problem. The Minister should be put out to pasture, perhaps as an ambassador to a faraway land where he should not be able to damage cast or creed. The rest of Southasia needs columnists such as this – sharp with the pen, but also with a point of view that is humanitarian and principled.