#RIP- Iqbal Haider was a voice of voiceless people # Obituary


 

Agencies and Jatin Desai

Former Law Minister, and co-chairman of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Iqbal Haider passed away on Sunday in a local hospital here in Karachi. He was suffering from lungs ailment.

His funeral prayer will be offered after Zuhar prayer on Monday at Imambargah Yasrub in phase IV Defence Housing Society, Karachi.

Mr. Iqbal Haider was born on January 14 1945. He was a close associate of Benazir Bhutto. He was elected as a Senator in 1991 and soon became law minister of Pakistan. He also served as an Attorney General of Pakistan. Frustrated with Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP), he quit it in 2005 and concentrated on human right issues. He will always be remembered as a man of principle. He was a successful lawyer and he always stood for the cause of downtrodden.

Former Law Minister, and co-chairman of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Iqbal Haider passed away on Sunday in a local hospital here in Karachi. He was suffering from lungs ailment.

His funeral prayer will be offered after Zuhar prayer on Monday at Imambargah Yasrub in phase IV Defence Housing Society, Karachi.

Iqbal Haider was one of the founder member of Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace & Democracy (PIPFPD) & Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). He was a true champion of peace. Till he breathe his last, he was trying for an enduring peace between India and Pakistan. In fact, he was planning to come to Mumbai on 26th November 2012 for Mr. Kuldip Nayar’s  felicitation to be held on 28th November.

He was disturbed with the growing influence of fundamentalism in Pakistan and elsewhere. He never missed an opportunity to criticise Taliban and other extremist forces. He was aspiring for a Secular Pakistan. In fact, in June this year he took an initiative and launched The Forum for Secular Pakistan along with few friends.

Iqbal Haider often used to quote Quaid e Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s historic delivered in the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11 1947. Mr. Jinnah had said”In the course of time Hindus will cease to be Hindus and Muslims will cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense… but in the political sense as citizens of the Pakistan.

Mahesh Bhatt was aghast when he called me and so many of his Indian friends. He had a vast friend circle. I have fond memories of him. We travelled together to Coastal Gujarat & Diu in September 2011. The fishermen of Gujarat & Diu had organized his & Justice (R) Nasir Aslam Zahid & Karamat Ali’s felicitation programme. Thanks to their efforts Pakistan had released 442 Indian fishermen in the last week of August & first week of September 2010.  Iqbal Haider appeared for Indian fishermen in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

When Pakistan released 442 Indian fishermen he was equally keen that India must reciprocate. He immediately flew to Delhi along with Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid & Karamat Ali. Before flying to Delhi, he told me, Mahesh Bhatt & Kuldip Nayar that they are coming and you should do ‘miracle’ and see India release Pakistani fishermen. We met UPA Chairperson Sonial Gandhi and then Home Minister P Chidambaram and  could get around 50 Pakistani fishermen released.

He was conferred with Mother Teressa Memorial Award for Social justice in 2010.

The Coastal Gujarat’s travel was hectic. We travelled around 700 km by road. He was not feeling well. He was a diabetic and used to take Insulin. But, he was not tired. Though, he told me that now we are no younger and the programme should not be too hectic. I feel sorry now. He was also one of the leader of the lawyers’ movement for the restoration of judiciary.

He was in the forefront of the movement launched by Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) for the removal of Martial Law. He was arrested at least ten times by then military dictator Zia ul Haq between 1981-1986.

He was also a political commentator. He used to write articles for various English newspapers of Pakistan. Indian media, too, has published many of his articles on the socio-political scenario of Pakistan.

He left us at a time when his presence was needed most. He was a voice of voiceless people.

Hindu teen girl kidnapped in Pakistan #VAW #Minorityrights


 

 

Agencies : Islamabad , Thu Aug 09 2012

A 14-year-old Hindu girl has been kidnapped from Pakistan‘s Sindh province, triggering widespread concern among the minority community members and reports of their apparent exodus.

The teenage girl, Manisha Kumari, was kidnapped from Jacobabad in Sindh, which has a sizeable Hindu population, on Tuesday, Pakistan Hindu Council president Jethanand Doonger Mal Kohistani said today.

“Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah has taken notice of the matter and asked provincial Minority Affairs Minister Mohan Lal to visit Jacobabad to look into the issue,” Kohistani said.

The kidnapping of the girl from Jacobabad and the abduction of 11 Hindu traders from Balochistan and Sindh provinces over the past few months has added to the community’s concerns, Kohistani said.

“There is sadness among Hindus as the law and order situation is deteriorating. Even Muslims have been affected by the deteriorating situation, it is not just the Hindus,” he said.

Though TV news channels claimed several Hindu families from Jacobabad had decided to migrate to India because of forced conversions, extortion and kidnapping, Kohistani and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan activist Amarnath Motumal said there was no evidence to substantiate these reports.

Babu Mahesh Lakhani, the head of a Hindu panchayat, had claimed several Hindu families had decided to migrate to India and others were planning to follow them as they felt insecure in Pakistan.

Some Hindu leaders even claimed 60 families had left for India and more families would cross via the Wagah border this week.

However, sources in the Indian High Commission in Islamabad said there were no reports of mass movements of Hindu families via Wagah.

Kohistani acknowledged that Hindus were facing pressure due to the poor law and order situation but said there was no exodus.

“The land of the Indus river is our motherland. Some people may be going to India on a pilgrimage or a private visit,” he said.

He added that police were not helping Hindus being targeted by criminal elements for extortion and kidnapping.

“Right now, three traders from Balochistan and eight more from Sindh are being held hostage. There are unconfirmed reports that one trader from Khuzdar (in Balochistan) may have been killed by his abductors,” he said.

Rights activist Motumal said he had conducted inquiries and found no proof of an exodus.

“I am not saying that the Hindu community is not being pressured in the interiors of Sindh but the reports that they are migrating to India in droves are not verifiable,” he said.

He said he had personally gone looking for people who claimed there was an exodus from Sindh but could not find any proof.

“There might be a few families where one member left for India to settle there and then asked other members to join him. These families are leaving due to existing problems but the numbers are not so high,” he said.

Officials said a group of Hindu families from Sindh and Balochistan is set to travel to India for a pilgrimage to Haridwar on 30 days’ visas. Some sections of the media wrongly projected it as an exodus, they said.

Motumal blamed “extremist religious groups” for pressuring members of the Hindu community in Sindh to convert to Islam.

“Businessmen are being targeted for extortion and kidnapping but the situation is such that no one – Shias, Sunnis, Hindus, Sindhis is safe,” he said.

Reports over the past two years have said that dozens of Hindu families from Balochistan and Sindh had moved to India after the community was targeted by criminals and militants.

Hindus have also been shaken by several high-profile cases of the kidnapping and alleged forced conversion of women.

Indian officials have acknowledged there was a trend of Pakistani Hindus extending their stay in India after entering on a valid visa.

 

Pakistan: Investigate Plot to Kill Leading Rights Activist Asma Jahangir


Human rights watch, June 6, 2012-
Pakistani authorities should urgently and thoroughly investigate the alleged plot against Asma Jahangir and hold all those responsible to account, regardless of position or rank. A threat against Jahangir is a threat to all those in Pakistan who struggle for human rights and the rule of law.
Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at Human Rights Watch

(New York) – The Pakistani government should investigate allegations that elements in the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies have plotted to kill the prominent human rights activist Asma Jahangir, Human Rights Watch said. Jahangir made the allegation in a television interview on June 4, 2012.

Jahangir is globally recognized for her human rights work and is one of Pakistan’s most respected rights activists. She is credited with establishing the highly regarded independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and AGHS Legal Aid, the first free legal aid center in Pakistan. In a career as a human rights activist spanning 30 years, Jahangir has been a consistent critic of human rights violations by the Pakistani military and the intelligence services.

“Pakistani authorities should urgently and thoroughly investigate the alleged plot against Asma Jahangir and hold all those responsible to account, regardless of position or rank,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at Human Rights Watch. “A threat against Jahangir is a threat to all those in Pakistan who struggle for human rights and the rule of law.”

Jahangir told Pakistani media on June 4 that she had discovered through a “security leak” brought to her attention by a “highly credible” source that an assassination attempt was being planned against her from “the highest levels of the security establishment.” She said that she believed it was best to go public with the information because she feared that she might be killed and a member of her family framed for the murder.

In recent months, Jahangir has been at odds with the Pakistani military in a series of high profile stand-offs. In November 2011, Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, was forced by the Pakistani military to resign his position after allegations that he was responsible for a secret memo delivered to senior US military officials seeking support for Pakistani civilian control of national security policy. As defense lawyer in the “Memogate” affair, Jahangir raised serious reservations about lack of due process in legal proceedings against Haqqani and threats to his life from the military Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Jahangir has also been a critic of the military’s policies in the insurgency-hit province of Balochistan, where it is accused of widespread killings, enforced disappearances, and torture.

Jahangir has frequently been the target of harassment and threats over the course of her career, Human Rights Watch said. She was placed under house arrest by Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the military ruler at the time, after he imposed emergency rule in 2007. She played a prominent role in the “lawyers movement” in Pakistan, which led to Musharraf’s ouster and to the restoration to office of Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

In 2010, Jahangir became the first woman to lead the Supreme Court Bar Association, Pakistan’s most influential forum for lawyers. During her campaign for the Supreme Court Bar Association, Jahangir repeatedly received threats for raising issues such as corruption in the legal arena. Extremist groups and allied Pakistani media ran a campaign accusing Jahangir of apostasy – a capital offense in Pakistan – and urging lawyers not to vote for her.

From 1998 to 2004, Jahangir served as the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions. From 2004 until mid-2010, she was the UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

The involvement of the military and its intelligence agencies in high-profile killings is well-documented, Human Rights Watch said. In April 2010, a three-member UN inquiry commission into the December 2007 assassination of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto concluded that Pakistani authorities failed to provide Bhutto adequate security and that elements within the military may have played a role in her assassination. The panel was highly critical of the “pervasive role” played by the ISI in the events leading up to the assassination. In May 2011, Saleem Shahzad, a reporter for the Hong Kong-based Asia Times Online and the Italian news agency Adnkronos International, was tortured and killed after receiving repeated and direct threats from the ISI.

“Governments that have lauded Jahangir’s human rights advocacy both in Pakistan and internationally should be alarmed by this alleged plot and press for a prompt and persistent investigation,” Hasan said

Death sentence for Singing and Dancing in Pakistan #WTFnews


Residents of a remote tribal village sentence two men, four women to death for allegedly violating segregation at wedding.

By Nazar Ul Islam / AFP

Four women and two men have been sentenced to death in northern Pakistan for allegedly singing and dancing together at a wedding, police said Monday.

The decree was issued after a mobile phone video emerged of the six at a recent reception in the remote Gada village in the mountainous district of Kohistan, 176 kilometers north of the capital Islamabad. The video appears to show the six celebrating the wedding in defiance of strict tribal customs that separate men and women at weddings.
“The local clerics issued a decree to kill all four women and two men shown in the video,” said district police officer Abdul Majeed Afridi. “It was decided that the men will be killed first, but they ran away so the women are safe for the moment. I have sent a team to rescue them and am waiting to hear some news,” he said, adding that the women had been confined to their homes.
Afridi said the events stemmed from a dispute between two tribes and that there was no evidence the men and women had been intermingling. “All of them were shown separately in the video. I’ve seen the video taken on a cell phone myself, it shows four women singing and a man dancing in separate scenes and then another man sitting in a separate shot,” he said.
“This is tribal enmity. The video has been engineered to defame the tribe,” he added.
Hazara Division Commissioner Khalid Khan Omerzai refuted Afridi’s version of events, claiming it was an internal family matter, and no clerics were involved. “The family saw their children dancing with each other and became embarrassed. So, they decided to kill them,” he told Newsweek Pakistan.
“We have contacted the families and told them to leave the women alone or face the consequences,” he added, confirming that the men had already fled the region. He said security forces had taken eight people into custody already.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said at least 943 women and girls were murdered last year for allegedly defaming their family’s honor.

Nearly 1,000 Pakistan women “killed for honour” in 2011


At least 943 Pakistani women and girls were murdered last year for allegedly defaming their family’s honor, the country’s leading human rights group said Thursday.

The statistics highlight the growing scale of violence suffered by many women in conservative Pakistan, where they are frequently treated as second-class citizens and there is no law against domestic violence.

Despite progress on better protecting women’s rights, activists say the government needs to do more to prosecute murderers in cases largely dismissed by police as private, family affairs.

“At least 943 women were killed in the name of honor, of which 93 were minors,” wrote the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in its annual report.

The Commission reported 791 “honor killings” in 2010.

Around 595 of the women killed in 2011 were accused of having “illicit relations” and 219 of marrying without permission.

Some victims were raped or gang raped before being killed, the Commission said. Most of the women were killed by their brothers and husbands.

Only 20 of 943 killed were reported to have been provided medical aid before they died, the Commission wrote.

Despite the rising number of reported killings, activists have praised parliament for passing laws aimed at strengthening women’s protection against abuses.

Rights groups say the government should do more to ensure that women subjected to violence, harassment and discrimination have effective access to justice.

(AFP)