What we do
We bring communities together by stimulating an open dialogue based on mutual respect.
We organize regular events often on the topics, which are taboo but are close to our hearts and impact us.
We try to understand and analyze important issues and encourage the community to come up with answers through discussions and workshops.
We work to bridge the generation gaps and promote cultural harmony.
We support critical debates on socio-economic-political issues and promote tolerance.
We offer moral support to the like-minded organizations in the Netherlands, Europe and Pakistan.
What is radicalization? What are the reasons and symptoms of radicalization? There are many diverging views and interpretations. Muslims from one country are more prone to radicalization than the other. Could it be that the people asserting their identities are often considered “radicalized”? Has the religion been (mis)used to serve vested interests of the ruling class
Aren’t Donald Trump, Geert Wilders, Matteo Salvini, Marine Le Pen, Viktor Orban, Jair Bolsonaro etc. radicalized?
This dialogue will help us to separate the myths from realities and understand the reasons for the emergence of radicalization - its past, present and the future challenges, in particular among young Muslims living in Europe, who are born and raised in secular societies.
Forced marriage is a life-changing reality for many of many women and girls. It is a practice rooted more in tradition than religious custom and one that spans the globe but more present in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The UNO views forced marriage as a form of human rights abuse, since it violates the principle of the freedom and autonomy of individual states that a person's right to choose a spouse and enter freely into marriage is central to his/her life and dignity, and his/her equality as a human being. The impacts are far-reaching – exposure to domestic violence, slavery, sexual abuse, increased maternal death, infant health risks, deprivation of future and freedom, threats of abandonment and divorce, honour killings, acid attacks, human trafficking etc. According to UNICEF, worldwide more than 650 million women alive today were married as children. Every year at least 12 million girls are married before they reach the age of 18. This is 28 girls every minute. One in every five girls is married, or in a union, before reaching age 18. In the least developed countries, that number doubles – 40 per cent of girls are married before age 18, and 12 per cent of girls are married before age 15. Forced marriage is not a problem specific to one country or culture and is also prevalent in Pakistan, to a degree even within their communities living abroad. This panel discussion was designed to share the experiences of those who were forcibly married, to discuss the reasons, consequences and solutions.
Populism has been on the rise in Europe and globally. It has entered mainstream politics and become a formidable force. It has pushed the centre-right parties more to the right. The conflicts and wars (supported by populists) which created millions of refugees were exploited to the fullest using clever manipulation techniques. Immigrants are portrayed as criminals, terrorists, a danger to “our values” who want to “misuse our social system” and will “take over our country”. Europe spent millions of Euros to keep the refugees out - in Turkey and other countries - while Greece and Italy took the brunt without any serious support from the EU, resulting in inhuman treatment of refugees. Thousands died. Europe totally failed to distribute even a small “quota” of refugees, with Eastern Europe closing their borders completely.
OPP’s open discussion on this topic had covered the rise of populism, its causes, the ways it was impacting the politics, economy and the lives of the immigrants, and how could we respond to the threats posed by the populists. In particular, the second and third generation of the immigrants who were born and bred in Europe could have played a crucial role in fighting the prejudices created by the populists and building the bridges between the new immigrants and their host countries.
The constitution of Pakistan guarantees fundamental rights. It is however debatable how much these rights are practised. In fact, respect for various human rights has deteriorated. Whether under dictatorship or democratic governments, the struggle for the rights of minorities, women, students, transgenders, workers or children rights, freedom of expression etc. has been hard and long.
This event was meant to commemorate Asma Jahangir’s first death anniversary, one of the most outspoken fighters for human rights in recent history.
Asma Jahangir (Jan 27th, 1952 – Feb 11th, 2018) was a staunch critic of Hudood ordinance and blasphemy laws, put in place by General Zia-ul-Haq, as a part of his Islamization program. With her fellow activists and her sister, she formed the Women’s Action Forum. Campaigning against the proposed Law of Evidence where the value of a woman’s testimony was reduced to half of that of a man. She co-founded and chaired the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Asma was known for playing a prominent role in the Lawyers' Movement and served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief and as a trustee at the International Crisis Group.
There is a separation of the State and Religion, by law or by practice, in most democratic and developed societies. In the countries with a state-religion, the societies are becoming more intolerant and the (religious) minorities have come increasingly under threat. The problems really get worse when the authorities use religion for political goals, or when religions try to control the authorities or hold them hostage. Every state must guarantee freedom of conscience and religious expression for all citizens and allow all religions to develop in the same conditions. Can democracy flourish in a society with a state-religion? Or should state be neutral and treat religion as an individual matter? Can people who do not belong to the faith of the state be ever treated equally? Pakistan is signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Its article 18 states: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance." Is Pakistan living up to the declaration it has signed? Are democracy and religion compatible?
We are all born with a “baggage”. Every society has its norms. But there are always new developments that challenge the norms. Cultures and norms themselves are not something static. They evolve over time. Everywhere in the world the societies change and so do the norms. No one knows this better than the Pakistani youth born and raised outside Pakistan. There’s an on-going tug of war in their minds. They are confronted with extremes, contradictions, opposing sets of values, the norms and values at home and outside home. What we often see as a dilemma can in reality be big opportunity. The richness of different cultures can be a source of inspiration. Can we combine best of both worlds? Or, does it have to be an “either or”. The choice is ours”. We are living in a society that encourages individual development and freedom.
Overseas Progressive Pakistanis has arranged a family picnic in which spouses and children eat together in a very relaxing environment. The program was subjected to the weather conditions therefore announcement were made and invitations were sent a week earlier.
Media has always been a forceful tool for the classes in power. In the so-called free market, the media went through significant changes. Large, extremely powerful multinational media groups, driven by the big commercial interests, have an ability to exercise power over governments, manipulate the financial markets and the society. To understand the academic as well as practical perspectives to this subject, Overseas Progressive Pakistanis (OPP) organised this seminar. The event was attended by a very active audience from all walks of life. Renowned journalist from Pakistan Mr. Hamid Mir and media scholar Dr. Farooq Sulehria from Sweden delivered their lectures. Dr. Farooq Sulehria talked about the manipulation of media in Pakistan. He also mentioned that the media was never totally free in any society. Mr. Hamid Mir, a champion of civic and media liberties, explained how the media freedom was under threat by all influential stakeholders to protect their own interests. Journalists have been coerced and/or enticed by fake news, charges of blasphemy and physical threats. He further noted how the media was being used globally as a tool for waging and justifying wars.
“It is in the best interest of the whole family if the women of the family are given the opportunity to become a productive member of the Dutch society and have the ability to choose their own careers and partners”. This was the consensus developed in the dialogue that was attended by huge number of Pakistanis living in Netherland. Dr. Aniqa; Tanzeela Riaz, community activist; Iffat Gill, director of Chunri Chopaal; and Aname Sheikh, student of pedagogy were the panelists. After a very productive question and answer session, participants brainstormed remedies for the major issues pointed out during the panel discussion in small groups, and then presented their collective opinion in the plenary. This event was an effort to give voice and understand the problems and concerns of the silent part of the Pakistani community in the Netherlands, the Pakistani women!
This event was organized to educate and sensitize Pakistani Diaspora and Non-Pakistanis on a subject that has become a vindictive common practice of the state institutions to suppress dissidence in society. Atif Tauqeer, author, journalist & researcher from Germany; Taj Baloch, human rights activist from Sweden and Ahmad Waqas Goraya, blogger & social-media activist from Netherlands were the main speakers of the event. Later, Dr Ayesha Siddiqa, columnist and author from Pakistan and Khalid Farooqi, senior journalists from Belgium also joined the panelists in the second half of the program.
OPP was launched one year ago. To be precise, its first public meeting was held on December 16th 2016. Now was the time to review our progress, achievements and mistakes, to evaluate what we did well but also identify what we could have done better. Almost a half day long meeting was designed in a workshop setting where we reviewed our vision, mission, and objectives while recalling and reiterating our progressive thoughts. The participants discussed certain aspects of the organizational development and then presented their consensus based deliberations to the plenary. Focus of such a very healthy and productive discussion was to ascertain perception of the diaspora about OPP; whether events organized by the OPP were somehow responsive to the intellectual and practical needs of the community; besides events, what type of other activities could be arranged to engage the community while promoting progressive thoughts; and last but not the least, what steps should be taken in future for developing and strengthening this platform in a sustainable manner?
Like many other countries NGO's in Pakistan are recently under government restrictions. New legislation has been introduced to curtail their activities. In this talk Karamat Ali discussed history and types of NGOs by the definition of laws; Contribution of NGOs in construction of the social fabric of the society; How true were the allegations made against NGOs by the establishment, media, elected governments and general public; Reasons and outfall of recent crackdown against NGOs and Under newly introduced legal framework who was controlling and monitoring their work.
The issues related with the minorities are becoming increasingly serious in Pakistan. The threats to Hazaras, Ahmadi’s, Hindus, Christians or other minorities have reached alarming proportions. The tolerance is disappearing. The mob justice is on the increase. We, people of Pakistani origin, living as a minority in Europe, can understand the minority issues better than anyone else, because we ourselves are a minority in the European countries. Despite being a minority here, we expect and fight for equal rights as the natives, but what about the minorities in Pakistan? Who will fight for there rights?
After our last talk on the subject of "Pakistan, in Search of Identity", we received several requests for a follow up meeting and a more in-depth discussion with regard to the Identity issues of Pakistanis living in the Netherlands. Responding to the feedback, OPP constructed a panel of a range of persons representing different generations with different backgrounds – those who migrated for different reasons to the Netherlands and also those who were born here. During the discussion, we heard about their motivations, experiences, their dreams and fears, what inspired them, the ways they dealt with cultural and social differences, key obstacles in achieving their goals etc. The discussion revolved around the current context and what it means for the youth with Pakistani origin.
Who are we? What unifies us? Are we a nation? Do we have a national identity? Does our national identity conflict with the ethnic identities? We have been in search of answers to these and related questions since the birth of Pakistan. There are several answers, but it is hard to agree on any one of them. Given the cultural, social and political developments in the recent years, and increasing intolerance in society, the questions about identity have become more pressing than ever before. Dr Lal Khan's talk followed by a general discussion was focused on trying to collectively find answers to the questions pertaining to the national identity.