Tag Archives: Aafia

Interlude in Brown?

by Omar Ali

Pakistan’s existing political and administrative system is based almost entirely on Western models. but the official national ideology is ambivalent or even hostile to Western civilization and its innovations. In the past this was less of a problem since “national ideology” was not very well developed (Jinnah himself was famously confused about what he wanted and while the Muslim League used Islamist slogans freely during the Pakistan movement, a number of its leaders and ideologues were happy to go along with vaguely left wing justifications for the state once they were comfortably in power after partition), but  ever since the time of General Zia, there has been a steady push to establish a particular Islamist version of Pakistani nationalism as the default setting. The process has not gone entirely smoothly and significant sections of the super-elite  intelligentsia remain wedded to Western left-liberal (and more rarely, frankly capitalist/”neo-liberal”)) ideologies while the deeper thinking Islamists tend towards Salafism, but it has gone further in the emerging middle class and within the armed forces. There, a superficially Islamist, hypernationalist vision has taken root and can be seen in its purest form on various “Paknationalist” websites.
This “paknationalism” is an extremely shallow and rather unstable construct. It is not classically Islamist but it regards Islam as the main unifying principle and ideological foundation of the state. In practice, it is more about hating India (and our own Indian-ness) that it is about any recognizable orthodox form of Islam. It is also very close to 1930s fascism in its worship of uniforms, authority and cleansing violence. People outside Pakistan rarely take it too seriously and prefer to  get their versions of Pakistani nationalism from more liberal interpreters, but the “Paknationalists” are serious and one of these days, they are going to have a go at Pakistan if present suicidal trends persist in the civilian elite.  Their interlude may not last very long, but it is likely to be exceptionally violent and may end in catastrophe.

Read more: 3QuarksDaily

http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2012/06/the-iron-guard-by-omar-ali.html#more

Al Qaeda and its apologists in Pakistan

Al Qaeda and its apologists

By Raza Rumi

The new al Qaeda chief, Ayman al-Zawahiri in his new video statement has urged the people of Pakistan to overthrow the “corrupt” government in Islamabad. Interestingly, he has also asked the people to rise against the Pakistan Army, which has been fighting a battle against some extremist groups in the north west of the country. Al Qaeda has been making such desperate calls for a decade now. But the worrying part is that the message — or its operative part — has gained currency in many middle class Pakistanis. Despite the crackdown, Hizbut Tahreer (HuT) continues to operate like several other militant groups. The extent of its advocacy for overthrowing the generals and the politicians is such that a HuT affiliated senior army official is on trial these days.

But these trials and military interventions are pointless when Islamabad, virtually a security zone, displays HuT posters and stickers almost everywhere. Why are the activists not tracked down and why do the government and the all-powerful intelligence agencies allow proliferation of such propaganda? A partial explanation is that elements of the state are also steeped in this a similar mindset. It is an established fact that the composition of the officers’ corps in the army and civilian bureaucracy is overwhelmingly middle class.

In his latest statement, again al-Zawahiri has mentioned the 70-year-old American aid worker Dr Warren Weinstein, who was kidnapped in August 2011 from Lahore. The message from al Qaeda is that Weinstein will not be released until their demands are met. Among others, a key demand is the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist sentenced by the US courts and currently languishing in an American prison. Ms Aafia’s story is still incomplete and there are competing claims over her role in perpetrating ‘terrorism’ as well as her innocence. ….

Read more » The Express Tribune

A Statement from the Asian Human Rights Commission – PAKISTAN: The government must inform the public about the health and conditions of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui who is imprisoned in the USA

AHRC-STM-169-2011, November 4, 2011 – The Asian Human Rights Commission has published several statements on the imprisonment of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, the American-educated Pakistani cognitive neuroscientist who was convicted and imprisoned for 86 years on the charge of assault with intent to murder her U.S. interrogators in Afghanistan. See PAKISTAN/USA: A lady doctor remains missing with her three children five years after her arrest. We have now received information from Dr. Siddiqui’s sister that she has now undergone a forced abortion while in detention and was hemorrhaging seriously.  In the email received from her younger sister, Dr. Fowzia Siddiqui, she reported that:

Continue reading A Statement from the Asian Human Rights Commission – PAKISTAN: The government must inform the public about the health and conditions of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui who is imprisoned in the USA

Then spoke Aafia

By Aziz Akhmad

I sat among the audience in the courtroom of federal judge Richard Berman, in Lower Manhattan, watching the sentencing proceedings of Aafia Siddiqui, on September 23.

Before Aafia Siddiqui spoke, her lawyer made what sounded, at least to me, a compassionate plea for a minimum sentence. She argued that Aafia Siddiqui was not mentally stable, or words to that effect, because of the impossible circumstances she had been through. That she needed professional care and compassion rather than a long term in prison. The lawyer concluded her plea by asking for a sentence not more than 12 years.

All this time, Afia Sidddiqui sat quietly, clad in a beige niqab, only her eyes visible. At times she would place her head on the table in front of her, as if not interested in what her lawyer was saying, or would stretch back into the chair clasping her head in both hands, as if exasperated. Soon after her lawyer finished, she stood up and asked the judge if she could say something. The judge said yes.

Then Aafia spoke. It was as if a dam had been breached; the words came gushing out of her mouth like a torrent. She spoke in a sharp voice and flawless English. Every once in a while she would pause and ask the audience, like a teacher in a classroom: “Do you understand what I am saying?” At one point the judge had to say, yes, we all understand you very clearly. Sometimes during the course of her speech she would break into a short, agitated laughter. Once, she even made a humorous comment about her trial referring to the court as Manhattan Institute of Theatrics, a pun on MIT, her alma mater.

She declared at the outset that she was not tortured or mistreated in jail (in Texas). She said if you hear people saying otherwise don’t believe them. She then quoted a verse from the Quran to the effect that when you hear something, verify it before you believe it. She said she was not mentally unbalanced, as her defence lawyers had tried to make out and that she did not trust them.

Several times she said she loved America and had no hostility against Americans or anyone. She also thanked the soldiers who, she said, did not harm or mistreated her daughter in captivity (in Afghanistan?).

Continue reading Then spoke Aafia

The myopia continues – Cyril Almeida

Excerpt:

…..  Well, no less a person than the American president has weighed in on what he thinks ought to be the fate of a piddling employee/contractor of the American government.

Whatever spurred those comments — he was asked a question rather than made a prepared statement — you can be sure the weight and might of the American state machinery will press very, very hard to ensure their president isn’t embarrassed by the self-righteous defiance of some judges and a few politicians in a country surviving on American handouts.

The Americans want their guy back and, by golly, they seem bent on getting their way. Which leaves our response.

By now the cat is out of the bag. When the interior minister, the ex-foreign minister and the all-powerful spy chief met to decide the fate of Raymond Davis, two of those gents were of the opinion that Davis doesn’t enjoy ‘full immunity’.

One of those two has now been fired by Zardari. The other, well, if Zardari tried to fire him, the president might find himself out of a job first.

Which leaves the obvious question: once the government had, surprise, surprise, screwed up, what did the self-appointed custodians of the national interest make of the situation?

Forget all that mishegoss about Vienna conventions and legal minutiae and the like. In its dealings with the US over the past decade, the security establishment’s concern for the letter of the law has been, at best, patchy.

Tongues are wagging in Islamabad that the calculus would have been far simpler: through a stroke of luck, the Pakistani state now has something the Americans desperately want back — Raymond Davis — so what will the Americans be willing to give in return?

The Davis incident has come at a time when by all accounts relations between the US and Pakistan were growing more tense, and worse was expected in the months ahead. All manner of American pressure was expected to be put on Pakistan to further US counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency goals in this country and across the border in Afghanistan.

Some believe the contours of the security establishment’s response had become visible in recent months: discreetly and indirectly encourage anti-American sentiment in the country as a bulwark against American pressure. If/when the Americans leaned too heavily on the security establishment here, the generals would be able to turn around and say, we can’t do what you want, the people won’t let us.

But long after Raymond Davis is back home in the US, hawking his talents in the lucrative private sector there, we here in Pakistan will still be stuck with the fallout.

The security establishment seems to view extremist sentiment like a faucet: turn it off, turn it on, leave it half open, depending on the need of the hour. But in the real world it doesn’t quite work like that.

Once released into society, the poison lingers on, its pernicious effects revealed years and maybe even decades later. Kind of what Pakistan looks like today, 30 years since Zia tried to Islamise this unfortunate land and her luckless people.

The recent evidence is just as harrowing. Hafiz Saeed was trotted out in support of the blasphemy laws, and everyone knows what that fire ended up consuming. Now the right-wing is up in arms again, demanding the head of Raymond Davis, arguing for a swap with Aafia Siddiqui, crying out for the lives of Pakistanis to be treated at par with American lives — with the security establishment passively looking on, possibly counting the benefits.

Who knows, the arrogant Americans may or may not get their way on Raymond Davis. The security establishment may or may not be able to wrest some compromises from the US in return for facilitating the release of Davis.

But Pakistani society will be uglier, more intolerant and a little more vicious as a result — and that surely cannot be worth whatever the short-term tactical advantage which may or may not be gained.

Read more : DAWN

A Pakistani journalist on Raymond Davis issue

The language of program is urdu/ Hindi

Courtesy: Geo TV (Aapas ki Baat Najam Sethi ke Saath – 31st january 2011.)

via – ZemTVYou Tube Link

Altaf criticises US

Altaf criticises US court order against intelligence personnel

BHIT SHAH: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain on Saturday reacted to a purported US court order seeking appearance of top Pakistani intelligence personnel to testify in a compensation suit in respect of the Mumbai attacks. …

Read more : Daily Times

We hypocritical Muslims – by Dr Manzur Ejaz

Muslims have convinced themselves that they are super-humans. They believe that the world should be very attentive to the Muslims’ religious and cultural sensitivities while they can persecute any minority

On an international level, people from every religion exchange greeting cards to commemorate different occasions. We all know that most of these cards are meant for the wastebasket. What if a Christian or Jew saw a Muslim salesperson throwing his card with Jesus or Moses’ name on it and called the police to register a case of blasphemy against him/her and the police arrested the violator? Most western readers would laugh out loud at this unlikely scenario but it is not a laughing matter for a physician from Hyderabad, Pakistan, who, unwittingly, threw a Muslim’s visiting card in the trash basket. He apologised to the offended party and yet the police arrested him under pressure from religious fanatics.

The manner in which the religious parties are campaigning for Aasia Bibi’s hanging has given me many nightmares while living in the US capital. What if the Bible belt of the southern states in the US became as influential as the religious parties in Pakistan? The US Congress and Senate would add a constitutional amendment on blasphemy laws according to which anyone who believes in any prophet after Jesus would be sentenced to death. Under pressure from Washington, most European and South American countries and those with majority Christian populations would follow suit in making the Christian blasphemy law. Hindus, Buddhists and people of other religions would also be forced to pass such laws. What kind of world would we live in if all that should take place?

Whatever happens, the Blasphemy Law will be fully operational against Muslims because they were the ones who set the precedent. This means that the millions of Muslims living in non-Islamic countries would face persecution and may even be led to the gallows. Fundamentalists and extremists of every religion will justify Muslim persecution on the basis of their belief in a prophet who came after Jesus and other prophets and the way the people believing in this religion have been targeting Christians and other minorities in their own countries.

Lucky for the Muslims living in the US and other non-Islamic countries that no nation has blasphemy laws and Muslims can throw any greeting card in the wastebasket or even openly put down other religions without fear of reprisal. Of course, after 9/11, Muslims may be screened more at airports. Even the Indian ambassador to Washington, Ms Meera Shankar, was put through a body search for which India has lodged a strong protest with the US. One can see regular white Americans also being humbled at airports. Therefore, discrimination is there but Muslims never realise that they have worse practices in their own countries. They do not see a connection between the liberties they enjoy abroad in contrast to the persecution of minorities in their homelands.

Furthermore, Muslims in the US and other European countries are not taking discrimination lying down; they are fighting for their equal rights. Nowadays, US-based Muslim organisations are campaigning for the US government to allow them to send zakat money to other countries. The US put many restrictions on such charities under the pretext that such money is being used to fund Muslim terrorist organisations. The point is that Muslim organisations can challenge such laws publicly despite American sensitivity about the role of charitable organisations in funding jihad.

While Muslims enjoy such liberties in the western world, they are intolerant towards minorities in their own countries. Religious parties take the most hypocritical positions at home and abroad. They agitate for equal rights in the west and demonstrate to maintain the Blasphemy Law and hang a poor rural Christian like Aasia Bibi in Pakistan. Religious parties want democratic freedom when it comes to their own interests but become fascists when it is someone else’s right. For example, the Jamaat-e-Islami wants pure democracy and transparency in the country but in institutions under their control, like the Punjab University, they become a corrupt, tyrannical force. A similar pattern is repeated wherever religious parties gain control, be it in FATA or an educational institution.

Aasia Bibi’s case does not make much sense. Having lived with many rural Christians — who are mostly very poor and are considered untouchables — I know that these poor souls are incapable of committing the crimes they are accused of. Most of the time, the grudging ‘Muslim masters’ register such cases to punish them for disobeying or refusing to do free work. Muslim organisations are up in arms to free Aafia Siddiqui for violating US laws but show no compassion for Aasia Bibi. Obviously, this is a crude example of double standards. …

Read more : WICHAAR

A column about Aafia Siddiqui

The Aafia mafia – by Fasi Zaka

Her ex-husband rubbishes many of her claims, and the family of Dr Aafia won’t let the media speak to her children who can shed light on what really happened ….

About a year ago, I wrote a column that got the ghairat brigade on my case. The gist of the column was that the trial in the US was based on a case of evidence, and lack of, that the US had full control over in the alleged attempt to shoot a US soldier by Dr Aafia Siddiqui. That she would get a fair trial was dubious, plus the case was opportunistic because the US took the easy way out and didn’t prosecute her for her alleged links to al Qaeda but instead for a shooting during a questioning. She was, after all wanted for links to terrorism initially. Then of course, one of the main problems is the US took a third party national from Afghanistan for a trial in their domestic courts.

The offending opinion which got the aforementioned ghairat specialists riled up, which I still subscribe to, is that from what we know Dr Aafia cannot be categorically described as innocent or guilty.

Before she went missing, before the alleged shooting, Dr Aafia was on the radar as an enabler of terrorism. A UN commission described her as a member of al Qaeda, Sheikh Khalid Mohammed gave her name to the US and court records show her as the second wife of an al Qaeda member. One of her uncle’s claims to have met her when she was supposedly in detention in Afghanistan by the US during her missing year’s period. Her ex-husband rubbishes many of her claims, and the family of Dr Aafia won’t let the media speak to her children who can shed light on what really happened. …

Read more >> THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE

Is he in danger of being involved in the Imran Farooq investigation? Why is he suddenly all concerned about international powers targeting him?

MQM would have cut ties with US over Aafia: Altaf

KARACHI: Had the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) been in power, it would have severed all ties with the US and its allies over the inhuman sentence of the daughter of the nation Dr Aafia Siddiqui by the US court, MQM chief Altaf Hussain said on Saturday. ….

Read more >> Daily Times