#RIP – Tribute to Hassam , Friend and Human Rights Activist from Pakistan


aisha

Life partner of my first friend  from  Pakistan is no more

As I opened the Facebook page of Aisha  Gazdar to share

Neela  Bhagwat’ s  classical rendition of Faiz poem, “Bol”

As her page slowly opened, I wondered why

She had  removed her Profile Pic

and then

I felt a bolt from blue , I was numb, with a blank stare

The news stared at me

Rights activist Hassam Qadir no more amongst us, He was just 44

My Eyes closed, fervently wishing  this to be a bad dream.

 

I went to a Flashback

My friendship with  Pakistan began with  Aisha in 2000

My  Myths about  Pakistan started crumbling ,

thanks to our friendship ,

which happened as we met at a neutral ground in London

We both were Chevening  Scholars studying Human Rights

 

Our friendship beyond borders ripened

She came to India to make a film on women rights and CEDAW

I was her coordinator in India   and loved every bit of it

Hassam  also came with her in 2005,

My first reaction was WOW

This is a Marc Zuber look- alike from Pakistan

Kumbh ke bichade bhai ke samaan

 

His first morning in Mumbai,

This is what we see

He is standing in the Kitchen making his own Tea

Broad shoulders and  a broader smile

Behind the Robust Masculine exterior

Lay a  Gender Sensitive Man,within

 

A human rights activist and Lawyer

Hassam

was a Passionate Fighter

 Aisha , the most soft spoken person I have evermet

is a carnation of ‘  Tameez and Tehzeeb.”

Hassam  was a  True Punjabi from Lahore   in every sense of word

His jokes and crackling laughter, still echoes

He  forgot his Black Sandals

Every time I talked with  Aisha and him

We laughed and said

‘Tuhade chittar taan aithe hi reg gaye, ki kariye “

( Your sandals are still here, what to do ? )

He once jokingly said- Sambhal ke rakhna  Amitabh Bachchan na lae jaye !!

( Please take care Amitabh Bachchan does not take them !!)

 

 Left behind Memories , Jokes,  Vaccum

and yes

A pair of large sandals

sitting in a drawer

with hopeless anticipation ……

A pair of large sandals

befitting a  towering personality

Remains…………………………………………………………waiting forever

2013-07-01 21.58.53

 

#Monsanto digs its heels in Pakistan


Monsanto's Involvement With Agent Orange - 40 Years After the Vietnam Conflict

Coming from a politician or bureaucrat, it wouldn’t have been surprising.
But it was unexpected from the Vice Chancellor of Faisalabad University of
Agriculture when he claimed that GMOs would “bring about a new green
revolution based on biotechnology, precision agriculture and climate
change.” As if the first Green Revolution wasn’t bad enough! If it was for
citizens’ benefit, why wasn’t Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan addressing sustainable
farmers and concerned citizens, instead of briefing diplomats from 24
countries? That fit more into loaded trade and investment talks, not a
country’s delicate agricultural security.

Dr Khan offers no evidence based on local research whatsoever to prove that
GMOs are “a great and safe invention that would enhance crop productivity”.
He seems oblivious of the fact that even GM seed-producing corporations
don’t make that claim.

“Where is the independent data which shows that GM Corn would increase
average yield?” demands Ijaz Ahmed Rao, professional farmer, graduated from
Australia, “Data from USDA clearly shows that despite GM technologies
(Insect-resistant (Bt), Herbicide-tolerant, Stacked gene varieties), yields
in USA have not increased since 1987!”

Rao sounds an alarm the government must note – that Pakistan’s corn exports
to Europe and elsewhere would be seriously affected as they import non-GM
corn and corn products from Pakistan at premium rates and on bases of
certification. Far from boosting Pakistan’s output and earnings, Bt corn
would be the ideal weapon to destroy our exports to Europe which recently
banned Monsanto and other GMOs, with ongoing plans to wipe them out
completely.

Similarly, sans evidence, Dr Khan claims that Bt (GM) cotton increased
productivity while pesticide-application was reduced in Pakistan. Strange
indeed, when in the rest of the world – including USA, the heaviest GM user
– it rapidly lost resistance to pests and required increasing amounts of
pesticides, now multiplied several-fold.

He disregards India’s terrible 15-year experience with Monsanto’s Bt cotton
that, with Monsanto’s overpriced products and unfair practices, led to over
300,000 suicides since 1995, making India the world’s farmers’ suicide
centre. Should we be joining their ranks?

Indeed, Dr Khan ignores Monsanto’s long and ignominious history around the
world – originally a chemical corporation that co-supplied 19 million
gallons of herbicide to defoliate Vietnam’s forests and crops on 4.5
million acres over 11 years, killing or maiming 400,000, causing half a
million deformed children born, helpless and dependant for life, and two
million cancer cases. After diverse other ventures, Monsanto got into GM
seeds which are ‘successful’ only if Monsanto’s accompanying poisonous
chemicals are heavily sprayed.

While appearing to promote Monsanto’s planned launch of ‘Herbicide
Resistance Corn’, Dr Khan was blind to the dangerous ground he was treading
on. Chemically-grown food crops have already lost nutritive value and led
to malnutrition, in both South countries and USA.

Because it wasn’t reported here, the VC probably doesn’t know that on May
25, over two million participants in 436 cities across 52 countries,
protested against Monsanto, demanding it gets out from everywhere. This,
apart from the long-standing, ongoing “Millions against Monsanto” campaign
that informs and brings together concerned citizens and activists globally.

Or that the Carnival of Corn in Mexico City coincided with and joined the
global protest. Mexico was the cradle of corn boasting thousands of corn
varieties; it needed no more, let alone GM corn, from outside. But their
own president sold his country out to Monsanto and other GM corporations,
just as Bush and Obama did the same to their people. In country after
country, it was not the merit of the product but officials that succumbed
to tempting lures.

And last week Japan and South Korea cancelled huge contracts for US wheat
when it was revealed Monsanto’s unapproved GM seeds had contaminated vast
farmlands in USA.

Monsanto dug in its heels in Pakistan over a decade ago since Musharraf’s
time. The General probably didn’t understand agriculture which may have
made it easy to sway him. His regime unilaterally sanctioned corporate
farming, which is increasingly pursued with GM seeds. The timing was
significant.

When Musharraf’s rule ended, the PPP government dealt an unexpected shock
when Mr. Gilani’s very first speech as prime minister ended with the
incongruous announcement – having nothing to do with his political
statements – that they had decided to let Monsanto in. Clearly, political
changes did not undo special interests. Since then, ceaseless crises in
Pakistan have kept attention diverted from Monsanto activities in Pakistan.

Dr Khan should remember the ‘Precautionary Principle’ – unless he’s
excluded ecology from agriculture – and investigate the extent of unchecked
contamination in Pakistan. GM monoculture threatens to wipe out what’s left
of our biodiversity without which even GM can’t continue, will further
chemical-drench and kill our deteriorating farmlands, while he risks being
remembered among the short-sighted responsible for near-extinction of
species.

*
http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2013/06/12/comment/columns/genetically-modified-threats/

#RIP- 11 dead in Pakistan women university bomb blast


AP
Quetta, June 15, 2013
A Pakistani police chief says a bomb planted on a bus for a women’s university has killed 11 female students on Saturday, in Quetta city of southwest Pakistan. Mir Zubair Mahmood says the Saturday blast in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, set their bus on fire. Another 19

were injured, he added.

 

According to latest PTI reports another bomb blast hit a Quetta hospital where these students injured in the bus attack were being treated.

Earlier that day in a different town in the same province, militants destroyed a historic house associated with the country’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, shooting dead a guard.

The province is home to Islamic militant movements as well as an ethnic nationalist insurgency.

 

A Pakistani in Delhi


Farooq Sulehria
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
On January 6, I nervously landed at the Delhi airport. I say nervously because I wasn’t there as a tourist. I had gone to India as a researcher – to spend six months conducting research on the Indian media. As a Pakistani, I was uncertain if I’d be able to get my work done without being suspected of any other activities.

 

On reaching India, however, it did not take long to for my nervousness to dissipate. My Pakistani origin, I soon discovered, was not a disadvantage. On the contrary, my Pakistaniat was not only helping me achieve desired research goals, it also began to pose gastronomic challenges: in the form of endless dinner invitations.

 

That my arrival coincided with the alleged beheading of an Indian soldier at the LoC invoked an unknown fear within me. Four months later, Sarabjit’s murder terrified me as well for a while. A fear of the unknown would grip me even otherwise – particularly when alone or lonely. ‘Anything can go wrong and land me in trouble,’ was a thought constantly nagging at me. However, the hospitality extended by my Delhi friends and acquaintances would lay to rest all such fears. Most importantly, a sense of familiarity – at times transforming into a sense of belonging – hardly ever made me feel alien.

 

My language, skin colour, name, or religion – nothing is alien to Delhi. On the streets, people would stop by and ask for directions. In one incident, while at a metro station I had asked a person standing next to me: “Which line goes to Rajiv Chowk?” Ironically, I was standing right underneath a route-map, which happened to be in Hindi. Rather well dressed and holding a laptop, I hardly looked like the stereotypical unlettered person. The man I spoke to was perhaps in a bad mood. Pointing towards the map, he shouted, “Why don’t you read for yourself?”. “I am from Pakistan, can’t read Hindi”, I replied in Urdu. At which he apologised immediately, shook my hand and politely guided me.

 

The similarities were even stronger in the case of Punjabis and Muslims – even though I am neither Punjabi nor religious. For about four months, I lived in Malviya Nagar, a Punjabi neighbourhood. My Punjabi language skills invoked such an affinity that within weeks I had an udhar system working with two local grocery stores.

 

Everywhere in Delhi, one overhears the azaan. Is it that moezzins in Delhi recite the azaan in a highly melodic way. My Swedish-Pakistani friend Prof Ishtiaq helped me understand that the azaan is also an assertion of Indian plurality and rights of the Muslim there.

 

As if to appreciate this plurality, I would candidly discuss the Kashmir question as well as the situation of Indian Muslims with my non-Muslim friends and comrades. My interaction with Muslim and Kashmiri students at Jamia Millia Islamia, with which I was attached, helped me enrich my understanding of their situation. While Kashmiri students – infested with conspiracy theories – visualised Pakistan as an Islamic paradise, Indian Muslims have no such illusions about Pakistan even if, like any other Indian, they are concerned about the crises in our country.

 

Also, like any other religious community, Muslims are divided along ideological and sectarian as well as class and caste lines. Jamia Millia epitomises Muslim diversity as well as the cultural progress Indian Muslims have made.

 

Imagine a campus in Pakistan with statues of Mirza Ghalib and Maulana Jauhar. While the road to the Mir Taqi Mir Hall is dedicated to Manto, a beautifully built auditorium is attributed to Noam Chomsky. However, my favourite hang-out was the Castro Café surrounded by the M F Hussain Gallery and the Maulana Azad Hostel.

 

Beyond Jamia Millia, my favourite escape was Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). Away from conservative Delhi, JNU’s walls – graffitied with huge images of Marx, Lenin, Che, Bhagat Singh and Manto – offer relief to any frustrated progressive. However, it is Faiz one finds all over the place. But Faiz and Manto are not confined to the JNU’s romantic campus. They are all over Delhi. In fact, Delhi it seems has become Urdu’s last refuge in the Subcontinent.

 

While the annual Jashn-e-Baharan Mushaira symbolised Delhi’s role in preserving Urdu, a qawali session during Khusro Week at the National Museum or an evening with dhrupad master Ustad Wasifuddin Dagar at the India International Centre (IIC) convinced me that Delhi is also protecting other forms of culture that Muslims have greatly contributed to.

 

There is a vibrant Urdu press and a flourishing publishing business. At the International Book Fair held in February at Pragati Maidan not merely offered a glimpse into Urdu publications, it was interesting to see an Ahmadiyya bookstore next to Tahirul Qadri’s Minhaj-ul-Quran bookstall. While Urdu press and publications promote a conservative agenda, progressive Muslim voices have found refuge in the recently-launched DD Urdu.

 

Visits to Doordarshan were always a great experience owing to the warmth shown by its Additional Director General, Ranjan Thakur. However, Faiz’s life-size portrait – surrounded by those of Gandhi jee and Tagore – at DD’s reception would add a special touch to every visit. Once a profitable enterprise, DD is now running huge financial losses. However, it remains committed to its social responsibility.

 

Apart from DD, the Indian television media is sensationalist. TRP-hungry channels have compromised themselves – journalistically and morally. Luckily, sections of the daily press, notably The Hindu and some magazines, haved stayed committed to the Indian tradition of quality journalism. Interestingly, India is the only major newspaper market that has expanded even after the arrival of the digital age.

 

But electronic media – the television – has outdone other outlets. The sprawling Noida Film City, on the outskirts of Delhi, is a testament to this growth. An enviably modern and efficient, though overcrowded, metro is the best way to reach Noida. Ironically, from metro station one can reach huge media houses via cycle-rickshaws. Initially, I tried to avoid using cycle-rickshaws pulled by skinny migrant workers from Bihar. But they were unavoidable as well as living proof of India’s ‘combined and uneven development’, a theory brilliantly propounded by Leon Trotsky.

 

Beyond glaring class contradictions, one also comes across sights that would be very familiar for a Pakistani. The traffic is messy; manholes are usually uncovered; and there is an utter neglect for monuments (with few exceptions) and old buildings. Apart from some posh areas, most streets are littered with garbage. While there may be no power cuts, there is a real water crisis.

 

Since my return on June 4, I have been quizzed by siblings and cousins, friends and acquaintances. ‘What do they think about us? Do they hate us?’ I am asked. ‘I do not know. However, I had wonderful time,’ is my standard reply. Honestly, such simple questions cannot be answered in a similarly simple manner. Also, I do not have any documented evidence to substantiate or deny any claims. I can only narrate my impressions. And I think Pakistan is not the most hated country in India. We could say that about perhaps Bangladesh or Afghanistan where Pakistan is disliked near-universally. However, I can safely assert that the only country where I have been warmly received as a Pakistani is India.

 

The writer is a freelance contributor.Email: mfsulehria@hotmail.com

source- http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-183118-A-Pakistani-in-Delhi

 

Sarabjit’s death probe: Judicial commission visits jail, interviews prisoners


PTI Jun 9, 2013,

LAHORE: A judicial commission of the Lahore high court visited Sarabjit Singh’s cell in Kot Lakhpat Jail and interviewed prisoners as part of its probe into the brutal murder of the Indian death row convict.

Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, the head of the commission, collected the complete record of Sarabjit from prison officials.

Registrar Bushra Zaman of the high court told reporters that the commission had interviewed some prisoners about the incident and gathered complete records of the case.

The commission had already issued notices to Sarabjit’s family through the foreign ministry to record their statements and produce any evidence they had regarding the incident, Zaman said.

Local witnesses have been summoned on June 10 to record their statements.

The commission will unearth the facts at the earliest in view of the importance of the matter, she said.

The commission will also interview the two prisoners arrested for attacking Sarabjit, jail officials and witnesses before finalising its report.

Five to six prisoners had brutally assaulted Sarabjit in a well-coordinated attack on April 26.

After being comatose for nearly a week, Singh died at Jinnah Hospital in Lahore on May 2.

Police registered a murder case against two death row prisoners Amer Aftab and Mudassar for allegedly assaulting Sarabjit.

Both men told police that they wanted to kill Sarabjit as he was involved in killing Pakistanis in bomb blasts.

 

Indian legal fraternity invites Pakistan’s CJP


PAKISTAN TODAY

ISMAIL DILAWARWednesday, 5 Jun 2013

Pakistan_india_flags

karachi – The judges and lawyers of the Supreme Court of India (SCI) are keen to invite Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhri to their country before his retirement this year in December.
They also showed their determination to take up with their government in New Delhi the issue of hundreds of Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails. “We are interested to invite the chief justice of Pakistan to India,” said Justice (r) AK Ganguly of the SCI.
Justice Ganguly along with Advocates Colin Gonsalves, Prashant Bhushan, Mukul Sinha and Nijhari Sinha are in Pakistan to attend the two-day India-Pakistan conference on “judicial activism, public interest litigation and human rights” which concluded on Wednesday.
Pakistani lawyer Faisal Siddiqui, Karamat Ali Executive Director of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler), and others accompanied the Indian delegation.
“He (CJP) has taken many bold steps to show what important role the judiciary can play in a society,” said Justice Ganguly during a visit to the press club.
KPC President Imtiaz Faran, Secretary Aamir Latif, Vice President Saeed Sarbazi, Joint Secretary Shams Keerio, Senior Journalist Habib Khan Ghauri and members of governing body welcomed the guests.
Advocate Colin Gonsalves said they had decided to invite Justice Ch during the two-day moot in Pakistan where events relating to the inspirational lawyers’ movement for the restoration of CJP were brought to his knowledge.
“We have concluded to invite him (CJP) to India before his retirement,” said Advocate Gonsalves. Chief Justice Chaudhri would retire on the 13th of December this year.
The Indian lawyer was all praise for the CJP for the latter’s suo motu actions with regard to the public interest litigation (PIL). “The exchange of views is very important,” remarked Justice Ganguly.
Quite few people in India knew about the lawyers’ movement in Pakistan in the favour of Justice Chaudhri after he was sacked by the then military ruler Pervez Musharraf.
However, a Pakistani lawyer, Advocate Faisal Siddiqui told Pakistan Today that the CJP’s visit to India was just a ‘dream’ now. He, however, believed that such interaction would promote people-to-people contact between the two neighboring nations.
Earlier in a meeting with KPC’s governing body, Justice Ganguly said he had observed that judges in Pakistan were bolder than that of India. This, he said, was because of the lawyers fraternity which had been fighting for the independence of judiciary shoulder-by-shoulder with the judges.
About the two-day moot, Advocate Gonsalves said a weeklong conference would soon be held in India to which 20-25-member delegations would be invited from the South Asian countries.
The lawyer also vowed that his side would take up the issue of around 200 Pakistani fishermen imprisoned in Indian jails with the Indian government.
The Indian delegation viewed that the two countries had common values and culture, so they should live in peace and promote people-to-people contacts. Specially, they said, visa procedures should be simplified. “This is our first step towards building a link between the lawyers and judges” living across the border, said Advocate Gonsalves. The members of Indian delegation were later gifted “Ajrak”, the sign of thousands of years old Sindhi cultural.

 

Pakistani Dalits – the disadvantaged survivours


 


By Amar Guriro 

KARACHI: Dalits or co-called lower caste Hindus – comprising 90 percent of Pakistan‘s religious minorities – are the most underprivileged, with lowest access to education, said a study conducted by Pakistan Hindu Seva (Welfare Trust).

The report said only 16 percent Pakistani Dalits get basic education and only 3 percent of them reach graduation level, while 2 percent go for postgraduate studies.

According to Indian National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, Dalits are ‘outcasts’ falling outside the traditional four-fold caste system consisting of the hereditary Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra classes; they are considered impure and polluting and are therefore physically and socially excluded and isolated from the rest of society.

“Majority of Dalit students are compelled to leave their education between primary and middle level because of their parents low income, who neither work in public sector nor on daily wages, but rather do mean jobs to survive.”

Explaining facts behind the low literacy ratio, the study said that it was because of the dropout ratio of Dalit students during primary and middle school, as their parents find it difficult to afford their educational expenses. Even though the public sector schools give exemptions, the rest including uniform, school shoes, and books are the parent’s responsibility, which they find difficult to fulfil.

Dalits are on the last step of ladder of Hindu caste system, in which they are treated as third-grade citizens. Most Pakistani Dalits live in different districts of Sindh with a majority in Mirpurkhas division and Thar Desert.

“Doughts in the Thar Desert frequently prompt temporary migration of Dalits to barrage areas to scour water, livelihood and fodder for their livestock. This seasonal migration affects their children’s education,” said the study.

Dalits often work as landless peasants on farms of some of the most powerful feudal lords, who treat them as slaves. “In many places, the landlords ask Dalits about the strength of their family members for assistance in work, prior to employing them. Resultantly, influential land owners take Dalit children under their custody, which is another reason behind low literacy ratio,” the study claims.

“In Pakistan, parliament approved thousands of programmes for health, education and poverty reduction during each of their reign, but none of the programmes specifically focus on the issues faced by Dalits,” said Vice President Hindu Seva, Chander Kolhi.

Low literacy rate combined with lack of awareness regarding basic human rights has made matters worse for Dalits; facing issues like bonded labour, being denied seats in public transport, and made to clean toilets, even after passing primary or secondary level education, they are systematically discriminated against, he said.

“Government must know that minorities are a valuable asset and have been living here for a long time, even before partition. It is their right to get complete and free education, good health facilities at hospitals, proper freedom and employment as per their eligibility,” said Kolhi.

“It is unfortunate and sad, that it has been more than six decades since the establishment of Pakistan, but the discrimination and gap between minorities and majority keeps widening with no hope in sight,” said Hindu Seva President Sanjesh Kumar.

 

source- http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/

 

Attn Delhi – JOIN the GLOBAL DAY of ACTION on McDONALD’S @6june


JOIN the GLOBAL DAY of ACTION on McDONALD’S

on 6th June, 2013 at 6PM

at McDonald’s in the C.P. (B-24, Inner Circle, Opposite gate No. 2 of Rajiv Chowk Metro Station)

Dear friends,

As many as 47 unions, labor federations, youth, and human rights organization from over 30 countries are observing Global Day of Action on McDonald’s on 6th June, 2013.  McDonald’s agents recruit low-wage temporary workers from developing countries to come to work in McDonald’s franchises in the United States. These international subcontracted workers from Asia and Latina America reported that they paid $3,000 to $4,000 apiece to participate in the U.S. State Department’s J-1 student guestworker program, expecting decent work and a cultural exchange. Instead, McDonald’s used them as a sub-minimum wage captive workforce. Workers faced:

  • Threats of deportation by McDonald’s franchise management
  • As few as four hours of work a week at $7.25 an hour, with exorbitant housing deductions that brought their net pay far below minimum wage
  • Shifts as long as 25 hours with no overtime pay
  • Being packed into employer-owned basement housing, up to eight students to a room, for $300 each per month
  • Retaliation by the McDonald’s franchisee and labor supplier Geovisions, including surprise home visits and cuts to work hours

Despite threats of deportation by the franchise management, these young workers bravely joined the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA), went on strike and launched a campaign to demand dignity and the freedom to organize for themselves, and for all McDonald’s workers. On March 6, temporary international workers on J-1 visas from around the world went on strike to expose severe exploitation and retaliation at McDonald’s restaurants in the United States. They joined U.S. workers and union leaders in demanding that the fast food giant take responsibility for labor abuse at its restaurants—and their fight reached the pages of Wall Street JournalThe Nation, and NBC News.

As workers, trade unions, students, fathers, mothers, human rights organizations and community members from countries around the world where McDonald’s agents recruit international labor we are demanding an end to the abuse.

We demand that McDonald’s:

 

1.      Agree to end exploitation and retaliation of the international guestworkers recruited to work in all U.S. stores; and

 

2.      Guarantee freedom of association and the right to organize without retaliation for all of McDonald’s workers worldwide.

The AFL-CIO, the IUF and the ITUC is supporting the Global Day of Action against exploitation and retaliation at McDonald’s, coordinated by the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA) on June 6, 2013. We request you to join the protest in New Delhi in front of the McDonald’s in the C.P. (Opposite Gate No. 2 of Rajiv Chowk Metro Station) and join hands with following organizations protesting world-wide 

1.      ·American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO)  – United States

2.      ·Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) – Philippines

3.      ·Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos “Segundo Montes Mozo S.J.” (CSMM)

4.      ·Confédération Chrétienne des Syndicats Malgaches (SEKRIMA) – Madagascar

5.      ·Confédération Française des Travailleurs Chrétiens  (French Democratic Confederation of Labor) (CFDT) – Gilles Desbordes – France

6.      ·CNS “Cartel ALFA” – Romania

7.      ·Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (EFIT) – Bassem Halaka – Egypt

8.      ·Health Services Workers Union of Ghana (HSWU) of TUC – Franklin Ansah – Ghana

9.      ·Independent Trade union of Miners of Ukraine – Deputy Head Anatolyi Akimochkin – Ukraine

10.  ·International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) – Jeroen Beirnaert – Brazil

11.  ·International Union of Food workers (IUF) – General Secretary Ron Oswald – Switzerland

12.  ·International Union of Food workers (IUF) – Vijay Hiremath – India

13.  ·International Union of Food workers – 식품 농업 호텔 요식 캐터링서비스 관광 연초 및 유사산업 국제노동조합연 (Hotel Food and Agriculture Hospitality and Catering services) (IUF Korea) – South Korea

14.  ·IUF Thailand: Cuisine and Service Workers Union and the Cook and Servers Workers Union of Thailand – Thailand

15.  ·IUF Poultry Workers’ Rights Network – Thailand

16.  ·Federation of Hotel, Restaurant, Plaza, Apartment, Catering and Tourism Workers’ Free Union (FSPM)/IUF – Indonesia

17.  ·Federación Nacional de Trabajadores en Industrias de la Alimentación, Hoteles, Bebidas, Tabaco y Afines (FENTIAHBETA) – Dominican Republic

18.  ·Pakistan Hotel, Restaurant, Clubs, Tourism, Catering and Allied Workers (PHRCTCAWF)/IUF – Pakistan

19.  ·International Union of Food workers Hong Kong Catering & Hotels Industries Employees General Union (CHIEGU)/IUF

20.  ·Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) – Canada

21.  ·Jobs with Justice/American Rights at Work (United States)

22.  ·Kommunistinen Nuorisoliitto KomNL (The Finnish Communist Youth Alliance) – Simo Suominen – Finland

23.  ·La Confédération générale des travailleurs de Mauritanie (CGTM) General Confederation of Mauritanian Workers – Mauritania

24.  ·La Confederación Paraguaya de Trabajadores C.P.T – Presidente FRANCISCO BRITEZ RUIZ – Paraguay

25.  ·La Fédération Générale du Travail de Belgique (FGTB HORVAL) (General Federation of Labor) – Yves Demeuse       – Belgium

26.  ·La Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo (PIDHDD) – Ecuador

27.  ·Le Bureau National de l’Association Malienne des Expulsés ( AME) – President Ousmane Diarra – Mali

28.  ·Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI)  – Ireland

29.  ·New Trade Union Initiative  (NTUI) – General Secretary Ashim Roy – India

30.  ·National Union of Workers in Hotel, Restaurant and Allied Industries (NUWHRAIN) – Philippines

31.  ·National Day Labor Organizing Network (NDLON) – United States

32.  ·National Guestworker Alliance – Argentina – Malaysia – Mongolia – Romania – Poland – Turkey

33.  ·Proyetco de Derechos Economicos Sociales y Culturales (Project for Economic Social and Cultural Rights) (ProDESC) – Alejandra Ancheita – Mexico

34.  ·Restaurant Opportunities Center – United States

35.  ·Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union – Ireland

36.  ·SEEB – SP – Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT) (Unified Workers’ Central) -Rita Berlofa – Brazil

37.  ·Sindicato dos Trabalhadores em Gastronomia e Hospedagem de São Paulo e Região (SINTHORESP) (Trade Union of Workers in Lodging and Dining in Presidente Prudente and Region) – Brazil

38.  ·Socialist union of Youth / SZM Slovakia – Chairman Miroslav Pomajdík – Slovakia

39.  ·Society for Labor and Development (SLD) – India

40.  ·UITA (SIREL), Uruguay (International Union of Food workers) – Patricia Iglesias Aguirre – Uruguay

41.  ·Unite the Union – Jennie Formby – Great Britain

42.  ·Unite Union – Mike Treen – New Zealand

43.  ·United Worker Congress – United States

44.  ·Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft (Ver.di) (United Services Union) – Jeffrey Raffo – Germany

45.  ·Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago – United States

46.  ·Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) – Zimbabwe

47.  ·Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations (ZCIEA) – Zimbabwe

We hope you can add your country and organisation to this list or join the already planned action.

Thank you!  

In solidarity,

Parimal Maya Sudhakar

+91-8800241099

Project Coordinator – Migration

Society for Labour and Development

New delhi

 

Pakistani lesbian couple marry in U.K. defying threats


HASAN SUROOR
 LONDON, May 27, 2013, The Hindu

On a day that a French lesbian love story won the top award at Cannes, two young lesbians from Pakistan became the first Muslim women in Britain to marry in a civil ceremony in what the gay community hailed as a “landmark” event.

Rehana Kausar (34) and Sobia Kamar (29) said they decided to go ahead despite receiving death threats because they believed it was “no one’s business what we do with our personal lives”.

Immediately after tying the knot, they sought asylum in Britain claiming that their lives would be in danger if they returned to Pakistan where homosexuality is illegal and gay people live in fear.

The couple, who met three years ago while studying business and health care management in Birmingham, were reported as saying they had been living together in South Yorkshire for about a year but were able to gather enough courage to come out openly only last month.

According to their relatives, the two had been threatened both in Pakistan and in Britain, and could not find an imam to perform a “nikah”.

Ms. Kausar, originally from Lahore, and Ms. Kamar, from the Mirpur region of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, took vows at Leeds Registry Office under Britain’s Civil Partnership Act 2004 which gives gay couples the same rights and responsibilities that heterosexual couples enjoy in a civil marriage.

Personal act

“This country allows us rights and it’s a very personal decision that we have taken. It’s no one’s business as to what we do with our personal lives. The problem with Pakistan is that everyone believes he is in charge of other people lives and can best decide about the morals of others but that’s not the right approach and we are in this state because of our clergy, who have hijacked our society which was once a tolerant society and respected individuals freedoms,” Ms. Kausar told Birmingham’s Sunday Mercury newspaper.

Ms. Kamar described her partner as a “soul mate” and said she loved her.

Praising them for their courage, a relative said: “They have been very brave throughout as our religion does not condone homosexuality. The couple have had their lives threatened both here and in Pakistan and there is no way they could ever return there.”

 

Rethinking Development In Pakistan


Flag map of Pakistan

 

 

 

By Q. Isa Daudpota

 

25 May, 2013
Countercurrents.org

 

Trickle-down economics invariably fails in poor countries. For long-lasting progress, development policies that are bottom-up, those that ‘put the last first’, often succeed. Ideas supportive of this thesis are presented in the post-election Pakistani context.

 

Good development experts have failed to get across a basic truth to Pakistan’s politicians and economic planners: If you are on a dirt road, fill the ruts – don’t dream of bullet trains and flyovers! One has to get the basics right before anything else can work. This obvious fact failed to register with the government and the Election Commission as it set in motion the recent ballot-box democracy exercise, allowing law breakers of all shades a free hand in returning to parliament. They overlooked the fact which every cook knows: clean the pans before preparing fresh meals! For those undaunted by this recent failure and blessed with an optimistic spirit, a potpourri of home truths is laid out.

 

A poor country like Pakistan cannot have sustainable development without reducing its population significantly through enlightened family planning. (It is best not to use the euphemism ‘developing country’, which we were in the 1960s when an attempt was made at population control.) How can we get back on track? A global perspective will help.

 

About 3 million children in poor countries die annually of diseases that can be prevented by basic healthcare and vaccination. The cost of providing a package of basic vaccines to a child is about Rs. 3000 – the price of a good meal in a luxury hotel. Pakistan has about 3% of the world’s population of 7 billion. Therefore roughly 250 kids die here daily. What’s the cost of avoiding these deaths? Just the price of one lavish wedding reception daily! And as for the basic healthcare for all, nothing is more important than providing potable water through community outlets, which is easily affordable.

 

Enlightened education, particularly of females, that encourages critical thinking is another key area needing urgent attention. Attempts at improving higher education level over a decade have overlooking the more critical lower levels where irreversible damage is presently done to impressionable minds. Education when viewed holistically should integrate all levels of education, including informal education, which brings the adult population up to steam and encourages lifelong learning. But who is going to do this?

 

The standard of pedagogy at all levels is poor. This failing can be corrected by a nationwide program of teachers’ training, principally in English communication skills. The world’s knowledge will continue its exponential growth in this language and we need to build on our advantage in English from the colonial era. Shortage of master trainers will require importing talent and where better to find it economically than India. Even more important is the provision of fast internet access nationally in neighborhood community cybercafés — that double up as cultural centers.

 

Large-scale provision of inexpensive multi-media projectors in institutions would allow students to view off-line programs of the best teachers globally with the local teacher acting as a facilitator. Our teachers and professors should use them as role models, while weaving the knowledge from the Net into the Pakistani context for their students. Above all we need a rethinking of the curriculum across the board, cognizant of the amazing range and quality of knowledge now on the Net.

 

Pakistan’s radio and TV are largely news and entertainment outlets than need redirection towards worthier goals of enlightening, lifelong learning. The models of the BBC in the UK and PBS and NPR in the USA – live and on the Net – can show us how this can be achieved. Such tools of the new media will help achieve full literacy in the country faster than the mere 5 years that it took some South American countries to do so using the ideas of Paulo Friere.

 

I conclude with brief reference to three commonly voiced concerns: energy, human and environmental security.

 

Instead of lurching forward into dangerous technologies such as nuclear and coal, we need to focus on our natural abundance of sunshine and hydropower (about which much has been written). While wind technology needs exploration, the area calling for immediate implementation is solar thermal, i.e. direct capture of heat energy from the sun’s rays to turn turbines for power generation – an option cheaper than wind energy. It has the advantage of our engineers accomplishing this largely themselves. At the other end, appropriate technologies such as green roofs (or simply oil painting or installing reflective high insulation tiling) could cool our homes and reduce cost, as can improving efficiency of industry, vehicles and other energy guzzlers. Some complex problems have cheap, simple solutions, see: http://tinyurl.com/kg4ows4.

 

Human security issues require that we establish not just peace but cordial relations with India, Afghanistan and Iran and open our borders to free exchange of people and commerce. Let’s be honest and admit that Kashmir cannot be snatched from India – ask the experienced retired general under house-arrest in his farmhouse in Islamabad [Musharraf]! Money for wasteful military gadgets can then be diverted towards human development.

 

Human security would be best advanced by providing decent livelihood to the poor and disadvantaged — gimmicks such as the expensive Income Support Program will fail. What are needed are low-cost projects which provide employment and honorable income for the multitudes of unskilled and uneducated, coupled with literacy and skills training. One such project ought to be for countrywide reforestation – green cover is well below 5% of the land-area; it ought to be at least 5 times higher. The environmental and social benefits of it would be enormous.

 

Publicity-attracting expensive mega-projects have been dear to our leaders. The real skill of wise leaders, though, lies in generating a sense of self-worth among the citizens. Ensuring self sufficiency through transforming the country from the bottom up is the way. The new government must take up this challenge.

 

The author is an Islamabad-based physicist and environmentalist.