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.

 

 

 

Bomb blasts cast shadow over Pakistan’s milestone election


Reuters | May 11, 2013,

Bomb blasts cast shadow over Pakistan's milestone election
A woman voter holds her ballot paper and stamp while moving to a polling booth inside a polling station in Karachi on May 11, 2013.
ISLAMABAD: A string of militant attacks cast a long shadow over Pakistan‘s general election on Saturday, but millions still turned out to vote in a landmark test of the troubled country’s democracy.

The poll, in which some 86 million people are eligible to vote, will bring the first transition between civilian governments in a country ruled by the military for more than half of its turbulent history.

A bomb attack on the office of the Awami National Party (ANP) in the commercial capital, Karachi, killed 11 people and wounded 35. At least two were wounded in a pair of blasts that followed and media reported gunfire in the city.

An explosion destroyed an ANP office in the northwest. There were no immediate reports of casualties. Television channels also reported an explosion in the city of Peshawar.

Pakistan’s Taliban, who are close to al-Qaida, have killed more than 120 people in election-related violence since April. The group, which is fighting to topple the US-backed government, regards the elections as un-Islamic.

The Taliban have focused their anger on secular-leaning parties like the ruling coalition led by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the ANP. Many candidates, fearful of being assassinated, avoided open campaigning before the election.

The people of Pakistan hope the polls will deliver change and ease frustrations with the Taliban, a frail economy, endemic corruption, chronic power cuts and crumbling infrastructure.

Disenchantment with the two mainstream parties appears to have brought a late surge of support for former cricket star Imran Khan, who could end up holding the balance of power.

Khan, 60, is in hospital after injuring himself in a fall at a party rally, which may also win him sympathy votes.

Results from nearly 70,000 polling stations nationwide are expected to start tricking in from around 10pm (1700 GMT).

“The problems facing the new government will be immense, and this may be the last chance that the country’s existing elites have to solve them,” said Anatol Lieven, a professor at King’s College, London, and author of a book on Pakistan.

“If the lives of ordinary Pakistanis are not significantly improved over the next five years, a return to authoritarian solutions remains a possibility,” Lieven wrote in a column in the Financial Times.

The army stayed out of politics during the five years of the last government, but it still sets the nuclear-armed country’s foreign and security policy and will steer the thorny relationship with Washington as NATO troops withdraw from neighbouring Afghanistan next year.

With no clear-cut winner, weeks of haggling to form a coalition will follow, which would raise the risk that the government is undermined by instability.

That would only make it more difficult to reverse the disgust with politicians felt among the country’s 180 million people and drive through the reforms needed to revive its near-failed economy.

Power cuts can last more than 10 hours a day in some places, crippling key industries like textiles, and a new International Monetary Fund bailout may be needed soon.

The party of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif looks set to win the most seats in the one-day vote. But Khan could deprive Sharif of a majority and dash his hopes for a return to power 14 years after he was ousted in a military coup, jailed and later exiled.

Pakistan’s best-known sportsman, who led a playboy lifestyle in his younger days, Khan is seen by many as a refreshing change from the dynastic politicians who long relied on a patronage system to win votes and are often accused of corruption.

Late surge for Imran Khan

Voters will elect 272 members of the National Assembly and to win a simple majority, a party would have to take 137 seats.

However, the election is complicated by the fact that a further 70 seats, most reserved for women and members of non- Muslim minorities, are allocated to parties on the basis of their performance in the contested constituencies. To have a majority of the total of 342, a party would need 172.

Khan appeals mostly to young, urban voters because of his calls for an end to corruption, a new political landscape and a halt to US drone strikes on Pakistani soil. About one-third of the country’s population is under the age of 30.

Early opinion polls had put the share of votes for Khan’s Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) party as low as single figures. However, a survey released on Wednesday showed nearly 25 percent of voters nationally planned to vote for his party, just a whisker behind Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N).

The Herald magazine poll showed Sharif’s party remained the front-runner in Punjab, which, with the largest share of parliamentary seats, usually dictates the outcome of elections.

It also pointed to an upset for the PPP, placing it third. Pakistan’s politics have long been dominated by the PML-N and the PPP, whose most prominent figure is President Asif Ali Zardari, widower of assassinated former premier Benazir Bhutto.

“The PPP didn’t take care of the poor masses and always engages in corrupt practices whenever they come to power,” said Sher Nabi, a banker from Peshawar.

“So we’ve decided to vote for the PTI candidate this time and test Imran Khan to see if he proves as honest as he claims.”

Pakistan, which prides itself on its democratic credentials, ordered the New York Times bureau chief in Islamabad to leave the country on the eve of the polls, the daily said on Friday.

A two-sentence letter was delivered by police officers to the home of the bureau chief, Declan Walsh, it said.

“It is informed that your visa is hereby cancelled in view of your undesirable activities,” the Times quoted the letter as saying, without explaining what was undesirable. “You are therefore advised to leave the country within 72 hours.”

 

 

Pakistan’s Ashraf government makes history


Raja Pervez Ashraf (June 2012)PM Raja Pervez Ashraf is facing corruption allegations
BBC

Pakistan‘s PM has hailed as “a victory” for democracy the completion of a full term by an elected government for the first time in the country’s history.

“No-one will be able to harm democracy in future,” Raja Pervez Ashraf said.

An interim government will now be installed until the next election, which is expected to be held in May.

Since Pakistan was founded in 1947, government were often overthrown in coups, toppled by political infighting or end in assassinations or murders.

But overhanging the democratic transition is the continuing militancy and growing sectarian unrest, the BBC’s Mike Wooldridge in Islamabad says.

‘No rivers of milk and honey'”There is a long history of tussle between the democratic and undemocratic forces in Pakistan, but the democratic forces have finally achieved a victory,” Mr Ashraf said in a televised address to the nation.

He added that Pakistan had finally managed to strengthen “the foundations of democracy”.

And admitting that his governing Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) may not have been “able to provide rivers of milk and honey”, the prime minister said it had tried its best to alleviate the country’s problems.

Residents walk through debris after a bombing in Quetta, Pakistan. Photo: February 2013Pakistan continues to be racked by sectarian violence and Taliban insurgency

Mr Ashraf also promised that the forthcoming elections would be free and fair, and said he hoped the parties would reach consensus “amicably” on which of the rival candidates should head the caretaker cabinet.

Pakistan’s parliament was dissolved at midnight local time (19:00) GMT, and the interim administration is expected to be installed in the next few days.

Two opposition parties – led by ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and former cricket star Imran Khan – are expected to present the greatest challenge to the PPP in the elections.

At the same time, Mr Ashraf is facing a corruption investigation over allegations that he took bribes while he was a minister.

Mr Ashraf, who became prime minister after his predecessor was forced out amid a dispute with the judiciary, has been in the job for less than a year.

 

LGBT discourse & cultural imperialism in Pakistan


Thursday, 14 February 2013 22:15by Hashim bin Rashid, http://www.viewpointonline.net/

Hope for them lies in the constitutional change and culturally located critiques such as Bol. Only through these, and not US cultural imperialism, shall they be able to be reintegrated into a social fabric they were so brutally de-rooted from by the last imperial cultural project

This more than any other article I have written before requires that the audience for it is defined before one sat down to write it. It also requires that I define myself and the particular sense in which I am situated within these debates.

The article has four audiences. First: those western intellectuals, activists and governments that wish to ‘help’ the LGBT community of Pakistan. Second: members (English-speaking only) of the LGBT community of Pakistan. Third: non-members of the LGBT community who support their cause. Four: those who find the idea of being LGBT repulsive to their faith and their notions of what it is to be human.

All ideas articulated in this article are for all four – unless otherwise stated. The need to speak arising out of the genuine fear members of the LGBT community that I know have experienced after the US Embassy in Islamabad’s intervention [On June 26, 2012 the American Embassy in Islamabad held its first lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride celebration], purportedly to ‘protect them.’ Never have I seen such fear come after a promise to protect from a superpower. Nor has such a non-story ever been played up as much.

Within Muslim cultural history:

The first point shall be to run through my own story. Situate myself and to allow the reader to re-situate their understanding of a part of Muslim culture that may have been hidden from them, withheld or they may have otherwise ignored.

I think we may best be served by choosing a reference urban bourgeoisie culture in Pakistan will identify with. Let’s work with a couplet from Iqbal’s Shikwa:

Aik hi saf mein kharay ho gaye Mehmood o Ayaz
Na koi banda rha na koi banda nawaz
[Mehmood and Ayaz stood in a single file
Neither remained servant nor master]

Iqbal chose to present them by isolating the historical metaphors attached to them. Iqbal chose the metaphor of master-slave becoming equals. What Iqbal conveniently ignored was that Mahmud and Ayaz, in the Sufi tradition, became the quintessential Muslim male lovers. The theme under which they were historically represented was love, not equality. The same sets of stories are translated across a number of narratives considered distinctively Muslim.

Male love, as a means to intellectual and spiritual growth, has been integral to Sufi traditions in Persia, Arabia and the subcontinent. The fundamental rupture that produced both Rumi (with Tabrez) and Bullah (with Shah Inayat) comes from a male possessing supreme spiritual depth. There are other Sufis that find that inspiration within an innocent youth.

The influx of Muslims into the subcontinent itself gave credence to such. Ayaz, the fabled lover of Mahmud, has served as governor of Lahore. Babur, the first Mughal king, himself expresses his love for another male, Baburi, in the Baburnama.

Thus – even late manifestations of sub-continental Muslim culture were able to integrate a more fluid understanding of masculinity.

A tryst with British cultural imperialism:

And it is this that brings us to the second point I wish to make: the significant influence of earlier British imperialism (colonization, you may call it) in re-shaping the legal and cultural contours of being LGBT in the subcontinent. The effects of these shifts are integral to how the late hegemonic Muslimness has imagined masculinity and femininity.

First, at the level of discourse, a run through of the British Gazetteers (and I do encourage you to read any) on the subcontinent reveals their discomfort with sub-continental sexuality. A prime concern remained, what the British would read, as gender fluidity. And it could not be digested under heavily Christian Victorian values.

Thus, this translated into how the British employed power – and importantly how one could legitimately consider the clear, categorical distinctions between male and female that sub-continental urban spaces are intimate with, as being a product of the colonial period.

Second, at the level of law, it was the British that introduced laws criminalizing being ‘LGBT’ (if the category could be read into history).

Being transgender was made a crime under the Indian Penal Code 1860. All hijras were added to the Criminal Tribes act and the legal requirement to try someone for being transgender was merely cross-dressing.

The consequences of this legal shift have, sociologically, not been fully traced out. But, in a recent research project I supervised, traces of the discourses of criminality affiliated with the transgender community (which also found themselves into the Supreme Court of Pakistan judgment granting them ‘third sex’ status) took formal roots within State practice.

The transgender became the criminal. And so comes to be that Pakistan’s hijra community continues to suffer (uniquely) from police harassment.

Speaking from within culture:

Third, at the level of Muslim discourse, it is in the colonial period that Muslims, accused of being morally and sexually lax, began to reinvent themselves and constitute a new set of fundamental values. One of the new values set up was the strict separation of male and female genders – a binary that did not know itself in history quite similarly.

Thus we move to the third point: to turn to existing cultures within Pakistan that are open to the idea of being LGBT – and doing so while being ‘culturally located.’

Here, I must make a candid admission. History is the subject I am more comfortable with. Existing culture is a matrix that requires much careful study.

The sense is however that Seraiki masculinity and masculinity with segments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa operates on a different node. Within urban spaces, the fashion circle is also understood to operate with different understanding too.

Again, these are not clear-cut derivations. But again it is important to realize these exist.

What is also important is to realize that not all turns to queerness are healthy or voluntary. It is a question that a number of people have narrated from their experiences in same-sex boarding schools during the age of their puberty.

A student, otherwise of the devout variety, suggested that it would be impossible for one to not have a queer encounter at a particular private boarding school and then he narrated his own story of frustration and desire.

In so many ways, the imposed silence on questions about sexuality remains a key note for people of all persuasions reading this article. Anyhow the boarding schools example may give those who condemn being LGBT more ammunition than I would like them to have.

So, we must remind them of madrassahs and the repression around child molestation that prevails within them. Again, as a journalist, I have encountered an instance of a madrassah student backtracking on an expose because of fears that he shall be murdered by groups sent after him.

Again, this is not to stereotype, but to demarcate areas where silence and jokes cover up for the lack of serious discourse.

A turn to social sciences and Bol:

And at this note about discourse, I turn to the fourth point of the article: to turn to discourses from within the social science to articulate a distinction between ‘gender’ and ‘sex’ – which if a step be taken back is very much common sense.

It is clear that our understanding of gender comes from social mores. I was cultured into being a male – according to the culture that surrounds me. I accepted. Female culturalization operates similarly. There are specific disciplinary regimes that go into constructing one’s gender.

The question to ask is: if gender was natural, why would anyone need to tell what being a male or being a female is?

It is a powerful moment within Shoaib Mansoor’s Bol when the sister slaps her transgender ‘brother’, dressing up in female clothing in front of the mirror, and says, “Is this how men behave?,” in ignorance of the real biological sexuality of him.

The question the movie is able to articulate is: how are we to deal with alternate biological sexualities?

The question engaging in LGBT discourse makes you ask is however a bit different. It is: how are we to deal with alternate social sexualities?

I have my answer. But there is no point to imposing it here.

No to Western cultural imperialism:

But it is important to make this articles fifth point: that the US declaration of support was not needed and should not be welcomed by LGBT activists.

That is the only normative claim in the article that I stress upon.

While homophobia seeps deep into the social contours of postcolonial Muslimness, the space for acceptance has been more than it has been in the traditional west.

The need for violent LGBT struggles in the subcontinent has not been needed in the same way these were needed in the West. The liberal discourse in the West, the change in the stance of the Christian Papacy is the product of the particular socio-material conditions of the West – where persecution has known itself to be worse and more systematic than anywhere, or any period, within Muslim societies.

Postcolonial Muslim perspectives, even if keeping queer identity a pedestal down on the social ladder, had not declared them worthy of persecution (doctrinally).

The current declaration of exile of ‘all such individuals’ by Jama’at i Islami is in fact unique.

And it is so due to the attempt by the new imperial power (US) to create a cultural hegemony over what it is to be queer.

It would have been best for the US to stay out of matters in Pakistan. And it would be best if it learns before a systematic persecution of LGBT actually begins.

As a concluding note, however, it must be said, that all that has been said above, promises nothing for the most systematically discriminated against queer community in Pakistan: the hijra (transgenders).

Hope for them lies in the constitutional change and culturally located critiques such as Bol. Only through these, and not US cultural imperialism, shall they be able to be reintegrated into a social fabric they were so brutally de-rooted from by the last imperial cultural project.

Let us hope that US cultural imperialism does not do more damage to the queer cause in this already fractured socio-polity we label Pakistan.

 

Well-known Pakistani journalist Marvi Sirmed shot at


Press Trust of India | Updated: November 02, 2012 22:42 IST

IslamabadUnidentified gunmen today attacked prominent rights activist Marvi Sirmed in the Pakistani capital. She escaped unharmed.

The gunmen, who were in a black car, fired at Sirmed’s vehicle at Murree Road near Bani Gala on the outskirts of Islamabad while she was returning home from work. Sirmed has received threats from extremist groups several times in the past.

“They tried to target us twice and fired several shots at my car which they missed. Luckily, my driver sped away and we escaped,” Sirmed told PTI.

Sirmed is an outspoken defender of democracy and human rights, especially the rights of minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Shias. She has received threats from rightwing and extremist groups several times in the past, forcing her to change her residence frequently.

Often seen wearing a sari and a bindi, Sirmed has also faced accusations of being “pro-Indian” from extremists.

However, threats have never deterred her from taking steps to protect the rights of minorities and she was recently at the forefront of a campaign to prevent the abduction and forcible conversion of Hindu girls.

Sirmed, who works as the manager of a UN project to strengthen Pakistan’s democracy and parliament, also played a key role in the recent campaign to free Rimsha Masih, a Christian girl who was wrongly accused of blasphemy after a Muslim cleric planted evidence against her.

Friends who had visited Sirmed at work two days ago said they had spotted a suspicious looking car parked outside her office late at night.

Police officials said they had launched an investigation into today’s shooting.

No group claimed responsibility for the incident.

In a message posted on Twitter, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Sirmed had been provided security at her residence.

Malik said he had asked authorities to submit a report on the attack on Sirmed’s car.

 

Mumbai, Karachi press clubs for liberalized media visas


 

KARACHI: The Press Club, Mumbai and Karachi Press Club have welcomed the scheduled meeting between Indian External Affairs Minister, S M Krishna, and Foreign Minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, to be held in Islamabadon September 7-9, 2012.In a joint statement issued both the prestigious press clubs reiterated their demands of free movement of journalistsbetween two countries in order to promote people-to-people contact and enduring peace in the sub-continent.The press clubs hoped both foreign ministers would give due attention to their demands.

In the meeting both the foreign ministers will review the resumed peace process, which began last year.

I the statement issued the press clubs have demanded of the ministers to liberalize the visa regime for the journalist community and should be made easily available.

It is pertinent to mention that the joint statement issued by Indian and Pakistan’s Foreign Secretaries after their meeting on July 4-5, 2012 had emphasized the need to promote media and sports contacts.

Moreover they also demanded removal of the cap on the number of journalists allowed to function in both the countries as currently only two newspersons from one country are allowed work in the other and vice versa.

The statement also said that more and more journalists from both the countries should not only be encouraged bul also allowed to move easily.

Sale of hard copies of newspapers and periodicals should be allowed to sell in other country, said the joint statement.

Editor of Pakistani English newspaper beaten up for watching TV #intolerance


 

PTI | Sep 3, 2012, 06.18AM IST

ISLAMABAD: An editor of one of Pakistan‘s leading English dailies was beaten up by four men outside his home in the port city of Karachi for watching TV and listening to music.

Though the incident occurred on August 27 and Zainul Abedin, op-ed editor of The News daily, reported the matter to police, no action has been taken by authorities so far, journalists in Karachi said. The men who attacked the journalist are members of a proselytising group.

According to Abedin, four men kicked open the gate of his house in the in Gulshan-e-Iqbal area at 11 pm on August 27 and began to abuse him.

When Abedin went to the gate to talk to the men, he was surrounded and grabbed.

One of the men objected to Abedin watching TV and listening to qawwalis.

When he asked them who they were and why objected to whatever a person did in the privacy of his home, one of the men reportedly said: “We do have a problem with these things but we will solve your problem today.” The men beat Abedin and one of them punched him on the face and broke his glasses.

As they kicked and slapped Abedin, the men warned they would not let him go unless he repented and said he would not watch TV or listen to music.

 

Blasphemy case: Pak imam held for ‘implicating’ Christian girl- #Rimshacase


 

Islamabad, Sep 2, 2012, (PTI) :

In a new twist to the blasphemy case involving a minor Christian girl, an imam in the Pakistani capital was arrested and remanded to 14-day judicial custody today for allegedly planting pages of the Quran in her bag and using it to implicate her under the controversial law.

Khalid Chishti, the prayer leader of Jamia Aminia mosque in the low-income Mehria Jaffar neighbourhood of Islamabad, was arrested last night after a man testified that he had seen the cleric stuffing pages of the Quran in the bag of the Christian girl named Rimsha Masih.

The bag originally contained only some other papers and ashes.
The witness, Hafiz Muhammad Zubair, recorded a statement against the cleric before a magistrate.

Police subsequently arrested Chishti on the basis of this statement.
Chishti was produced before a judicial magistrate, who sent him to Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi for 14 days.

Police officials said they expected Chishti to be charged under the controversial blasphemy law.

Earlier, Zubair told the media: “When the bag was brought to the mosque, there was nothing in it.    When he (Chishti) was given the bag, he went into the mosque and pulled out two or three pages and added them to the bag.

“I told him what he was doing was wrong. He told me it is evidence against the Christians and a way to get them removed (from the area),” Zubair said.

The incident had occurred while Zubair and some other men were in ‘aitekaf’ (seclusion) in the mosque during the holy Islamic month of Ramzan.

Zubair said a neighbour of Rimsha named Malik Ammad, the complainant in the case, handed over the bag with the pages of the Quran to the police.

Chishti had acknowledged in a television interview last week that he had, during a recent sermon, called for the eviction of all Christians from the neighbourhood if they did not stop their prayer services because “Pakistan is an Islamic country given by Allah.”

Pakistan Ulema Council chief Allama Tahir Ashrafi asked the Supreme Court Chief Justice to take suo motu notice of the incident and initiate action against those who had really desecrated the Quran and them blamed the Christian girl for the incident.

Rimsha was arrested on August 16 after an angry mob surrounded a police station and demanded that action be taken against her.

She is currently being held at the high-security Adiala Jail.

Her judicial remand was extended by 14 days last week.

Though an official medical board concluded that Rimsha was aged about 14 years and that her mental development did not correspond to her age, the findings were challenged last week by Rao Abdul Raheem, the lawyer of Rimsha’s accuser.

A district and sessions court, which is hearing Rimsha’s case, is looking into Raheem’s allegations.

Rimsha’s bail hearing is scheduled to be taken up by the same court tomorrow.

The new evidence against the cleric could help defuse the religiously-charged case
against the girl.

The case has prompted concern from Western governments and the Vatican. It has also focused attention once again on Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law, under which a person can be punished with life in prison or death.

Rights groups have warned that the law is often used to settle personal scores or persecute minorities like Christians.

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.

Pakistan on path to establish National Human Rights Institution (NHRI)


 

Asis Pacific Forum ( APF Bulletin) January 2012

Pakistan’s National Assembly has unanimously passed a bill to establish an independent human rights institution (NHRI) with wide judicial powers.

The passage of the bill on 21 December 2011 follows years of advocacy from national organisations, with advice and support provided by regional and international organisations, including the APF and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Under the bill, the National Commission for Human Rights will have the power to receive and consider complaints. When undertaking inquiries, it will have the powers of a civil court and can summon any individual, public or private department.

A retired judge from the higher judiciary, or any other “eminent person of known integrity, competence and experience,” must head the body, which will include two members from minority communities and one from each province, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Gilgit-Baltistan and the Islamabad Capital Territory. It will also include three female members.

The commission will have the power to intervene in any proceedings involving alleged violations of human rights, to visit jails nationwide and to appoint special investigation teams of officers from police and other law enforcement agencies.

It will be required to submit an annual report to the federal government which will then be bound to lay it before parliament.

In addition, the commission will have full administrative and financial autonomy and its accounts will be audited by the auditor general of Pakistan. It will be based in Islamabad and may establish offices in provincial headquarters or other places as appropriate.

While supportive of its objectives, members of the Senate have referred the bill to the house committees on human rights and law and justice for review, with a report expected to be presented in late February.

If amendments are made, the Bill will need to be resubmitted to the National Assembly for consideration. Once approved by both houses of parliament, the Bill will require the signature of the President before becoming law.

The APF welcomes this significant progress in establishing a NHRI in Pakistan.

The APF conducted visits to Pakistan in 2005 and 2008 to meet with key stakeholders and has provided technical advice during the drafting of legislation to promote compliance with the Paris Principles.

Previous Older Entries

Archives

Kractivism-Gonaimate Videos

Protest to Arrest

Faking Democracy- Free Irom Sharmila Now

Faking Democracy- Repression Anti- Nuke activists

JAPA- MUSICAL ACTIVISM

Kamayaninumerouno – Youtube Channel

UID-UNIQUE ?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6,235 other followers

Top Rated

Blog Stats

  • 1,753,329 hits

Archives

July 2019
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  
%d bloggers like this: