Tag Archives: concern

US lawmakers voice concern over human rights situation in Pakistan

By PTI

WASHINGTON: Influential American lawmakers have expressed concern over deterioration of human rights situation in particular those of the minority Hindus in Pakistan’s Sindh province.

“Sindh’s Hindu community lives in constant fear of their women being forcibly converted to Islam,” Congresswomen Loretta Sanchez alleged during a briefing on human rights situation in Sindh held in US Congress this week.

Sanchez, Co-Chair of Sindh Caucus in US House of Representatives, said that Sindh is now in “humanitarian crisis” due to terrible human rights violations and other crimes like disappearances and assassinations of political activists and dissidents, forced conversions of Hindu women and religious extremist violence is on rise in Sindh.

“Political activists or dissidents are specifically targeted and Islamic extremism continues to grow in the Sindh province. The madrassa network is constantly going against the Sindhi population,” she alleged.
Read more » THE ECONOMIC TIMES
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/us-lawmakers-voice-concern-over-human-rights-situation-in-pakistan/articleshow/49214334.cms

Australians March in March to Show No Confidence in Government

March In March Australia 2014, three days of peaceful assemblies, non-partisan citizens’ marches and rallies at Federal Parliament and around Australia to protest against government decisions that are against the common good of our nation.

This signifies a ‘people’s vote of no confidence’ in government policies and decisions that go against common principles of humanity, decency, fairness,social justice and equity, democratic governance, responsible global citizenship and conserving our natural heritage.

Many Australians are deeply concerned with the way our country is being governed. Not just at the present moment, but in general. They are concerned over issues which directly affect them, their families, and indeed all Australians. They are concerned about the policies and behaviour of all Australian political parties. They are concerned with the direction in which Australia’s great civil society is heading.

Democracy doesn’t end at the ballot box. It is the right, if not duty, of all Australians to hold our elected representatives to account; to remind them that they are, above all else, public servants. We must inform them regularly, daily if need be, of our concerns with the issues that affect all Australians. We must participate directly in our democracy in order for it to be truly representative.

Read more » http://revolution-news.com/australians-march-march-show-confidence-government/

Food poverty now bigger public health concern than diet – expert claims

Panorama explores claims many turn to food banks due to being penalised when judged to have broken benefit conditions

By Patrick Butler, social policy editor

The prevalence of poverty–stricken families who cannot afford to buy sufficient food is overtaking unhealthy eating as the most pressing public health concern, a public health specialist has claimed.

The claim is made in a BBC Panorama documentary to be broadcast on Monday evening which found that over a third of local authorities in England and Wales were now providing funding for food banks, despite government claims that charity food is not a part of the social security system.

Julie Hirst, public health specialist at Derbyshire county council, told Panorama the authority had invested £126,000 from its public health budget in food banks.

She said: “It’s now become an issue of food poverty and some people in the country are not being able to eat at all – and if people can’t eat at all, what’s the point in trying to get them to eat healthily?”

Elizabeth Dowler, a professor at Warwick University and the co-author of a recent government-commissioned report on food aid provision, told the programme it was shocking so many councils were investing in food banks.

“Food banks are an inadequate plaster over a gaping wound … They do not solve the problems. And that they should be enshrined as an inadequate solution is deeply immoral.”

Read more » theguardian
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/mar/03/food-banks-public-health-benefits-panorama?CMP=twt_gu&utm_source=hootsuite&utm_campaign=hootsuite

ECP urged to shun ‘dictatorial-era’ tactics

KARACHI: Members of the public, civil society, professional bodies and trade unions have expressed their strong disapproval of the tactics being used to push the election process in a certain direction, demanding that no attempt be made by any quarter to vitiate the atmosphere that can lead to subverting the will of the people as the upcoming elections are of crucial importance to the future of the country.

The statement issued on Thursday has been endorsed by I.A. Rehman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Mohammad Tahseen of the South Asia Partnership Pakistan, Karamat Ali of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, Suleman Abro of the Sindh Agriculture Forestry Workers’ Coordination Organisation, Naseer Memon of the Strengthening Participatory Organisation, Jami Chandio of the Centre for Peace and Civil Society, Dr Tipu Sultan of the Pakistan Medical Association, Dr Manzoor Awan of the Sungi Development Foundation, Samson Salamat of the Centre for Human Rights Education, Farhat Parveen and Mir Zulfiqar of NOW Communities, Uzma Noorani of the Women’s Action Forum, Zahida Detho of the Sindh Rural Partners Organisation, Javed Qazi of the Forum for Secular Pakistan, Nasir Mansoor of the National Trade Unions Federation, Saeed Baloch of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, Dr Kaiser Bengali, Dr A.H. Nayyar of the Pakistan Peace Coalition, B.M. Kutty, Zulfiqar Halepoto and others.

“We express particular concern at the process of scrutiny of the candidates by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), which amounts to Zia-era vigilantism and a disguised return to the ‘accountability before elections’ mantra. This whole exercise smells of mala fide intentions,” the statement read.

Continue reading ECP urged to shun ‘dictatorial-era’ tactics

Canada drops in worldwide justice index

Access to justice is discriminating against poor and immigrant populations, says a new report by the World Justice Project.

By: Jeff Green, Staff Reporter

A new report from suggests immigrant and poor populations are being discriminated against in Canada because of a limited access to justice. Canada dropped since last year in six of the eight “Rule of Law” factors listed in the report from the World Justice Project.

The report ranked Canada among 97 countries worldwide in categories including government power, corruption, order, fundamental rights, open government, enforcement, and civil and criminal justice.

Some 97,000 people were polled worldwide, in addition to 2,500 experts in 97 countries to compile the report.

Continue reading Canada drops in worldwide justice index

International Community Raises Grave Concerns Over the Forced Disappearance and Killings of Political Activists In Pakistan

LONDON, World Sindhi Congress delegation participated in 14th session of Universal Periodic Review working group at United Nations on 30th October. WSC delegation was represented by Dr. Hidayat Bhutto and Dr. Rubina Shaikh.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a process which involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years. This year Pakistan was under review on 30th October 2012.

World Sindhi Congress submitted two UPRs on Forced Disappearance and Extra Judicial Killings of Sindhi Political Activists and Violence Against Lesser Known Minorities in Sindh. Both UPRs were submitted on behalf of Liberation, an ECOSOC accredited NGOs. Information from both UPR was referred by a number of countries and became part of UN recommendations.

During UPR review a large number of countries expressed their grave concerns over Pakistan’s Human Rights situation in particularly forced disappearance of political activist, and human rights campaigners. Countries also shown their concerns over forced conversion of religions of young girls and bonded labor practices in Pakistan and called for abolition of death penalty and Blasphemy Law.

“Pakistan has ratified a several UN Human Rights Convents and Treaties, but continues to violate many of its fundamental clauses,” Said Rubina Shaikh, Secretary General of WSC. “International Community is greatly concerned over this lack of adherence during this review process,” she further said.

Continue reading International Community Raises Grave Concerns Over the Forced Disappearance and Killings of Political Activists In Pakistan

Arsalan Iftikhar case: Asma voices concern over one-man commission

LAHORE: Former president of the Supreme Court Bar, Asma Jahangir on Monday said that the officer tasked by the SC to investigate the Arsalan Iftikhar case has close ties with the chief justice’s son and cannot be trusted to conduct a transparent investigation, DawnNews reported.

Speaking to media representatives at the Lahore High Court (LHC), Jahangir remarked that the UK’s Scotland Yard should be called in to probe the Arsalan Iftikhar case if Pakistani institutions are deemed unreliable.

Jahangir alleged that Shoaib Suddle, the investigating officer, is also known to regularly attend Arsalan Iftikhar’s events, she said, adding that he could not be expected to conduct a transparent investigation into the case.

Pakistan’s apex court is investigating allegations of a Rs342 million business deal between Dr Arsalan, son of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, and business tycoon Malik Riaz.

On Aug 30, the Supreme Court had accepted a review petition against its own earlier order, appointing Federal Tax Ombudsman Dr Mohammad Shoaib Suddle as the one man-commission to probe the controversial case. The commission is required to complete the task in a month.

Criticising the court’s decision, Jahangir said that if there were any questions over the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) investigating team, then the team could have been changed instead of changing the whole verdict.

Continue reading Arsalan Iftikhar case: Asma voices concern over one-man commission

Hindu teen girl kidnapped in Pakistan

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

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

“Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah has taken notice of the matter and asked provincial Minority Affairs Minister Mohan Lal to visit Jacobabad to look into the issue,” Kohistani told . The kidnapping of the girl from Jacobabad and the abduction of 11 Hindu traders from Balochistan and Sindh provinces over the past few months has added to the community’s concerns, Kohistani said.

There is sadness among Hindus as the law and order situation is deteriorating. Even Muslims have been affected by the deteriorating situation, it is not just the Hindus,” he said. Though TV news channels claimed several Hindu families from Jacobabad had decided to migrate to India because of forced conversions, extortion and kidnapping, Kohistani and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan activist Amarnath Motumal said there was no evidence to substantiate these reports.

Continue reading Hindu teen girl kidnapped in Pakistan

64 and counting: Farmers refuse to take the bait on their fourth hunger strike

By Mithal Khuhro

KHAIRPUR: Comrade Ghulam Rasool Sehto, popularly known as the Anna Hazare of Sindh, has been on a hunger strike with his friends for the last 64 days to bring attention towards to the issues farmers face.

Sehto, who is over 60 years old, is known for his loud laugh. He was an active member of the Communist Party and was the owner and editor of a Sindhi newspaper.

Comrade Sehto has been active in participating in several other movements to support the poor and bring attention t their plight.

Continue reading 64 and counting: Farmers refuse to take the bait on their fourth hunger strike

Hindu migration a concern

Hindu migration a concern in Pakistan

Every month one family migrates to India, say action groups

By: Ayyaz Gulzar, Karachi

Hindu leaders in Pakistan say persecution is the main reason for the recent migration of members of their community from the country.

“Every month a Hindu family leaves for neighboring India. Insecurity, killings, kidnappings and forcible conversion of women to Islam are the major causes,” said Jaipal Chabria, a Hindu politician in Pakistan.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan says that every year about 300 Hindu girls are abducted and converted to Islam against their will in Sindh province alone.

Hyderabad diocese’s Vicar General Father Samson Shukardin also referred to “increasing frustration” among minority groups. “Most of the cases registered from Hindu families are from the Haris (peasants) community. The recent murder of the only Catholic federal minister has also increased desperation among minority groups,” said the director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace in the Catholic diocese in Sindh province. “Many Christian families wish to leave the country but cannot do so because they are poor,” he said adding “Minorities are feeling left out.” ….

Read more » UCA News

‘Ousting PM instead of Parliament is the new khaki tactic’

By: Adnan Farooq

It goes without saying that the first thing which the Supreme Court will ask the next PM to do is to write the letter to the Swiss authorities. He will refuse too and the game continues

The Supreme Court’s verdict to disqualify Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani “is not a routine democratic change”, according to Ayesha Siddiqa. “In fact, it represents the new tactics of the military and its agencies,” she says.

Author of ‘Military Inc’, Ayesha Siddiqa is internationally known analyst on military and political affairs.

Commenting on the latest political developments in the country in an interview with the Viewpoint, she says: “Instead of ousting the entire Parliament, the military gets rid of prime ministers which has the same effect meaning a weak democracy. The judges seem to have become party to this”. Read on:

The opinion on Supreme Court’s verdict on Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani’s disqualification is divided. In general, the Opposition is hailing the verdict while the PPP and liberal circles are presenting it as a coup by other means. How do you assess the situation?

This is an intense political battle in which the Supreme Court is not neutral but a party as well. Look at the Supreme Court’s comparative behavior. There are times when it bails out murderers and looters but does not spare the ruling party in particular. Its wrath is mainly for the PPP and the chief judge seems to be making sure that he can ensure the PPP government’s ouster especially since he is now worried about his son being investigated.

Continue reading ‘Ousting PM instead of Parliament is the new khaki tactic’

Load shedding in America!

Rolling Blackouts: a Black Eye For Texas?

By Dave Fehling

There’s fear in Austin over what could happen if the state runs short of electricity and has to use rolling blackouts to keep the statewide electrical grid from collapsing.

The fear is for the state’s image.

At a meeting of the Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) June 13th, Chairman Donna Nelson expressed concern that pleas to the public to conserve electricity during the late afternoon when demand is greatest might also send a message that Texas was running out of power and therefore was no place you’d want to do business. ….

Read more » State Impact

http://stateimpact.npr.org/texas/2012/06/27/rolling-blackouts-a-black-eye-for-texas/

One suo motu too many – By: Tausif Kamal

Whenever some of our preconceived myths are shattered by a stark, unyielding and yet truthful reality, we tend to revert to denial and a refusal to face up to the facts as they are

The Supreme Court’s short order in the Arsalan Iftikhar case absolving the Honourable Chief Justice (CJ) without any investigation or examination of any evidence in the underlying imbroglio is premature. It is in fact contradicted by the Supreme Court’s own statement in this order: “…the Supreme Court (SC)…cannot judge the guilt or innocence of the parties without evidence or trial…” So how is this ruling not applicable to the CJ, who is so intertwined in this scandal being the father of one of the main suspects, and whose judicial power is at the heart of this corruption scandal?

This is in way to imply that the CJ is guilty but there cannot be an exemption from inquiry and investigation along with other participants and witnesses, for possible criminal violations based just on mere words of one of the parties. Who is Malik Riaz to give a clean bill of health to the CJ? It is strange that the SC is relying on the good word of Malik Riaz whom the former considers to be an accused fit to be prosecuted for some serious criminal offences under Pakistan’s criminal laws.

To contend that the media is maligning the judiciary by highlighting this scandal is to blame the messenger and not the message. Let us not be sidetracked, for now at least, by corruption in the media, which no doubt prevails, but which is less important than the imperative of our judiciary to have an unassailable reputation and an image above reproach. Conducting a thorough probe or inquiry of all those allegedly involved, including the Honourable CJ, will clear rather than tarnish the judiciary’s reputation and remove the dark clouds hanging over our most esteemed institution.

The nation has a right to know answers to such vital questions as how long the CJ knew about his son’s involvement with Malik Riaz and how many meetings the CJ had with Malik Riaz before the matter was seized through a suo motu action. The only other acceptable alternative to such an inquiry would be for the CJ to quit honourably in the larger interests of the judiciary and the country.

Continue reading One suo motu too many – By: Tausif Kamal

Democracy under threat

By: Asma Jahangir

THE masks are off and daggers drawn. Pakistan’s democratic process may once again become a part of history, leaving the world to wonder how we could so willingly poison ourselves in the belief that it would lead to better days.

Those in power have consistently let their people down — ruthlessly. But no one is being fooled. They may feel helpless in the face of manipulation by everyone trying to save their skins — the judiciary included — but as the courts have often held themselves the truth does eventually prevail.

In the meanwhile, the country is headed for another phase of political instability that may finally lead to yet another autocracy. Sense may prevail at the end, but in the process, many heads will roll and hopes will be demolished. These are sad days for Pakistan.

Continue reading Democracy under threat

See this in backdrop of Libi’s killing – Pakistan conveys ‘serious concern’ over US drone strikes

Pakistan conveys ‘serious concern’ over US drone strikes

By Reuters

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday summoned the US charge d’affaires to the foreign ministry to convey its “serious concerns” over drone strikes, a ministry statement said, a move that could further escalate tensions between the allies.

The move came after Pakistani intelligence officials said that a US drone strike may have killed an al Qaeda leader, Abu Yahya al-Libi, in Pakistan’s northwest.

Drone attacks are a major sticking point in talks aimed at improving ties between Washington and Islamabad.

The foreign ministry had earlier called the attacks “illegal” and said they violated the country’s sovereignty.

Read more: droneattack
More details » BBC urdu
Via – Twitter.

Ancient Jain temples in Tharparker

Temples too discriminated!

By Kapil Dev

You may dislike President Asif Ali Zaradari for his political smartness for he had outwitted many of his opponents and for his failure to deliver to masses. But you may not dislike him for his love for environment. The reason may be he himself held portfolio of Environment Minister in Benazir Bhutto’s first government or his instinctive love for environment.

On Monday, President Asif Ali Zardari expressed concern over the damage to the centuries-old Kataas Raj temple near Choa Saidan Shah, Chakwal, due to the environmental degradation caused by the construction of industrial complexes around the temple and asked for a report from the relevant ministry.

Similar reports were also published some time ago regarding dilapidated conditions of temples in Sindh, particularly ancient Jain temples in Tharparker and an attempt to demolish a Hindu temple in Choorio, Nangarparker, by a Granite lease owner. But the Presidency did not move to instruct authorities for protection.

On Kataas Raj temple located in a small village of Punjab, the President called for a report after taking note of a media report that the building of industrial complexes around the Kataas Raj temple had destroyed its pristine beauty and threatened the natural water pond with complete extinction.

The report was published in Dawn Newspaper on April 22 under the headline “Holy pond at Kataas Raj dying up” and reported by Nabeel Anwar Dhakku.

The natural pond had been in existence for thousands of years attracting pilgrims from far and wide in the South Asian subcontinent. Since ages water flowed from the pond to downstream villages of Wahoola, Tatral and Dulmial without any drop in the pond level that was constantly replenished by the spring waters underneath. However, the industrial units constructed near the site had sucked up groundwater and diverted the flow of the springs resulting in the drying up the pond, the report said. ….

Read more » The Sindh Journal

Civil Society of Sindh deeply concerned over the operation against the whole community and unavailability of water, food, medicines, electricity and nonexistent of basic necessities of life due to the unofficial curfew in Lyari.

Punhal Sario, Mustafa Baloch, Zulfiqar Shah, Amar Sindhu, Kashif Bajeer, Dr. Ashothama, Rizwan Abbassi, Rabail Aziz, Jabbar Bhatti of the Civil Society of Sindh shows deep concerns over the operation against children, women, and common citizens in Lyari-Karachi, Sindh in the context of confined innocent citizen of the area. The Civil Society of Sindh deeply concerned over the unavailability of water, food, medicines, electricity and natural gas supply for thousands of innocent citizens of the area since couple of the days due to ongoing operation in the lyari and fear deaths and health damages of the innocent citizens due to nonexistent of basic necessities of life. Therefore, civil society of Sindh demands to stop the operation against the citizens of Lyari and government should ensure all basic necessities of living specially water, food, emergency medical support and gas supply as well as securities in the area where it plans to take law and order measures, it also demands immediate water, food and medical rescue to the residents of Lyari confined due to curfew in the area.

Courtesy: News adopted from Facebook

Indians & many in Pakistan also want President Zardari to act firmly against jihadis.

WELCOME MR PRESIDENT

By Vikram Sood

Benazir Bhutto made five pilgrimages to the Dargah Sharif of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, the last being in 2005. She wanted to visit one more time in 2007 but this did not materialise. Instead, she went home to Pakistan to a tumultuous welcome but ultimately to become yet another Bhutto martyr. Her friends had cautioned her that her return to Pakistan could be dangerous for her but Benazir insisted that the country needed her. Quite apparently, there were powerful figures in her country who did not want her alive. So she became the fourth Bhutto to die a violent unnatural death.

Continue reading Indians & many in Pakistan also want President Zardari to act firmly against jihadis.

The Future of History – By Francis Fukuyama

Can Liberal Democracy Survive the Decline of the Middle Class?

Stagnating wages and growing inequality will soon threaten the stability of con­temporary liberal democracies and dethrone democratic ideology as it is now understood. What is needed is a new populist ideology that offers a realistic path to healthy middle-class societies and robust democracies.

Something strange is going on in the world today. The global financial crisis that began in 2008 and the ongoing crisis of the euro are both products of the model of lightly regulated financial capitalism that emerged over the past three decades. Yet despite widespread anger at Wall Street bailouts, there has been no great upsurge of left-wing American populism in response. It is conceivable that the Occupy Wall Street movement will gain traction, but the most dynamic recent populist movement to date has been the right-wing Tea Party, whose main target is the regulatory state that seeks to protect ordinary people from financial speculators. Something similar is true in Europe as well, where the left is anemic and right-wing populist parties are on the move.

There are several reasons for this lack of left-wing mobilization, but chief among them is a failure in the realm of ideas. For the past generation, the ideological high ground on economic issues has been held by a libertarian right. The left has not been able to make a plausible case for an agenda other than a return to an unaffordable form of old-fashioned social democracy. This absence of a plausible progressive counter­narrative is unhealthy, because competition is good for intellectual ­debate just as it is for economic activity. And serious intellectual debate is urgently needed, since the current form of globalized capitalism is eroding the middle-class social base on which liberal democracy rests.

THE DEMOCRATIC WAVE

Social forces and conditions do not simply “determine” ideologies, as Karl Marx once maintained, but ideas do not become powerful unless they speak to the concerns of large numbers of ordinary people. Liberal democracy is the default ideology around much of the world today in part because it responds to and is facilitated by certain socioeconomic structures. Changes in those structures may have ideological consequences, just as ideological changes may have socioeconomic consequences

Read more »Foreign Affairs

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/136782/francis-fukuyama/the-future-of-history

The bloody civilians and the almighty generals

Baaghi: Caviar to the general – By Marvi Sirmed

Even if the agencies in other countries play this ‘august’ role of interrupting the democratic process in their countries, does it justify ISI’s doling out money to keep a certain political party of the people’s choice out of government?

“Tacitly registering his concern over the debate in the media on the role of the army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Kayani on Wednesday said, ‘The national institutions should not be undermined’”, said a news item in an English language daily newspaper on March 15. What merited this royal annoyance was open to discussion in the media about the re-eruption of a long simmering ‘Mehrangate’ that should be best described as ISI-gate. According to this case, some Rs 140 million had been doled out to politicians to rig the elections in 1990. The rest of the money out of Rs 350 million, as claimed by one Younas Habib, Zonal Manager of Habib Bank at that time, who was allegedly asked by the ISI to generate these funds, eventually went to the coffers of ISI and its officials and General Aslam Beg, the then army chief.

Continue reading The bloody civilians and the almighty generals

Threatened Hindu girls to be moved to Islamabad

By Zahid Gishkori

ISLAMABAD: A National Assembly panel directed on Friday the Sindh police to shift two Hindu girls to Islamabad for protection against severe threats to their lives at the Panah Shelter Home in Karachi.

The panel gave the directions after the Sindh police expressed concern over the security for Rinkle (now, Faryal Bibi) and Lata Kumari, who were allegedly abducted and forced to get marry after embracing Islam.

Both girls will be shifted to Islamabad via the first flight available on the Pakistan International Airlines on Monday, according to the chairperson of the National Assembly Standing on Human Rights, Riaz Fatyana.

“I have directed the Sindh police to shift the girls to Islamabad for better security,” Fatyana told The Express Tribune.

Additional IG Police Sindh Falak Khurshid informed the panel that both girls were forcibly abducted ….

Read more » The Express Tribune

Concern about new bid to censor the Internet: HRCP, FIDH

By Zohra Yusuf, HRCP chairperson

Lahore, March 13: On the occasion of the international day of action against Internet censorship, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organisation, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), have expressed deep concern over an attempt by the Ministry of Information Technology in Pakistan to further restrict freedom of expression, creativity and peaceful thought on the Internet, by projecting an extensive filtering system that will, if implemented, allow authorities to block up to 50 million “undesirable” URLs at the national level.

The National ICT R&D Fund of the Ministry of Information Technology released in February a call inviting academia/research institutions, companies, organizations to submit, by 16 March 2012, a proposal for the set-up of a filtering system. The call claims that Internet access in Pakistan is mostly unrestricted and unfiltered, so that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and backbone providers in the country need a high-performance system to block millions of URLs containing “undesirable” content as notified by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

Censorship is already very tight in Pakistan; 13,000 websites considered guilty of publishing adult and blasphemous content have already been blocked. On 14 November 2011, authorities requested mobile operators to censor the content of SMS and ban 1,600 words and expressions. Over the last summer, operators received the order to submit lists of Internet users trying to escape censorship, which corresponds to a system of surveillance”, said Zohra Yusuf, HRCP chairperson.

Continue reading Concern about new bid to censor the Internet: HRCP, FIDH

Inside Balochistan’s dirty war – Praveen Swami

Baloch secessionist leader Brahmdagh Bugti says he wants political engagement with Pakistan — but that its military wants war.

Late last month, Zamur Domki and her 12-year-old daughter were driving back to their home in an upmarket Karachi neighbourhood when a black car swerved across the road, blocking their route. Thinking she was a target of an armed robbery, Ms Domki offered the masked men who surrounded the car her jewellery and mobile phone — but the attackers weren’t interested.

An eyewitness recalls that Ms Domki watched in horror as the assassins repeatedly shot her daughter in the chest and neck. Then, it was her turn to die.

Baloch politicians allege the murders, for which no one has been held, were carried out by Pakistan’s intelligence services to send a message to Ms Domki’s brother, Brahmdagh Bugti — a soft-spoken 31-year-old father of three who, from exile in Geneva, leads the region’s largest secessionist party.

Concern over assassinations

In recent months, assassinations of Baloch nationalist politicians and their kin have provoked growing concern. Last year alone, the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has reported, there were at least 107 new cases of enforced disappearances. The missing, the commission’s chairperson Zohra Yusuf said, “were increasingly turning up dead.” The United States’ State Department has voiced concern, and political leaders have called for action.

Continue reading Inside Balochistan’s dirty war – Praveen Swami

The statement of the Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians: ‘Winds of Change? Balochistan and US-Pak Relations’

On Nov 16, 2011 and Jan 13 this year respectively, State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner, and chief spokesperson Victoria Nuland, expressed U.S. concern about the human rights situation in Balochistan. On Feb. 8 Congressman Brad Sherman spoke at a subcommittee of Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives of the marginalization of the Baloch and Sindhi (speaking people) and the disappearances, torture and killing of their activists by Pakistan’s security forces.

Sherman went to say that the Baloch and Sindhis, being secular and moderate-minded, shared American values and that the US should reach out to them. Feb 18 saw the introduction of a resolution in the House stating that the people of Balochistan, currently divided between Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, have the right to self-determination and their own sovereign country and should be afforded the opportunity to choose their own status.

A fuller argument openly calling for support of the separation of Balochistan from Pakistan because the latter was acting against American and western interests, appeared in the Globe and Mail – a key mouthpiece of big capital and imperialism in Canada – in an op-ed piece on Dec 21, 2011, titled ‘Solve the Pakistan problem by redrawing the map’ by Chris Mason, a retired US diplomat now at the Center for Advanced Defence Studies in Washington.

Without a doubt the Sindhi people have suffered grievous injustices in Pakistan. Many times greater has been the pain inflicted by the state on Balochistan which, in addition to severe cultural, economic and political deprivation, has been on the receiving end of almost half-a-dozen prolonged and brutal military attacks which began in 1948 and continue to this day. Frustrated and angry beyond measure – and justifiably so – at their appalling treatment by the Pakistani state, the above developments in the U.S. have been widely welcomed by the Baloch.

Continue reading The statement of the Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians: ‘Winds of Change? Balochistan and US-Pak Relations’

US express concern over Hafiz Saeed’s public appearances

By Huma Imtiaz / Web Desk

WASHINGTON: The US State Department has raised concerns about Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed’s public appearances, including at the Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) rally held in Karachi earlier this week.

The State Department issued a brief press release on Thursday, In response to a question submitted earlier in the week, which said that, “Lashkar-e-Taiba and its front group Jamaatud Dawa, is internationally sanctioned because of its associations with al Qaeda. We have and continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to uphold its obligations in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1267/1989.”

The release further stated that the UN resolution “calls for all countries to freeze assets of sanctioned groups, prevent the transfer of arms to them, and prevent sanctioned individuals from entering or transiting their territories.”

JuD has been functioning in the country as a religious and charity organisation. Post Mumbai attacks in 2008, the organisation was declared a terrorist organisation by the West, UN and India. ….

Read more » The Express Tribune

Civil Society Calls for a Joint Stand Against the Undemocratic Overthrow of the Elected Govt in the Maldives

SINDH – Karachi, Feb 11, 2011: The civil society in Pakistan expressed grave concern over the events in Maldives where an elected government was ousted in a coup following political unrest in the country. The government of the now toppled President Mohamed Nasheed came to power after the 2008 elections ended 30 years of autocratic rule (by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom).

The political turmoil in Maldives and the unlawful overthrow of an elected government in the country remains a matter of grave concern for the South Asian neighbours and the partners of Maldives since the event may have a far ranging impact on the direction and the future of democracy in the region. The coup d’état is a condemnable act and all South Asian states and civil societies must join forces against this undemocratic move by the security forces of Maldives. At least two countries in South Asia – Pakistan and Bangladesh that have faced martial laws and coups in the past know very well how people suffer when democracy is brought down. Not only did the military rule in these two countries compromised political and administrative institutions, it took these countries several decades back in terms of economic and social development.

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An outrageous ban – The Express Tribune

The Lahore Bar Association (LBA) has banned Shezan drinks from subordinate court complexes on the basis that it belongs to  Ahmadi

By Editorial

Things in our country are really moving from the absurd, to even more absurd. And most frightening of all is the hatred that flows with this madness. The latest example of this comes at the Lahore Bar Association (LBA) — where lawyers following a campaign led by the Khatme Nabuwat Lawyers Forum — have banned the sale of drinks manufactured by the Shehzan Company from canteens at all subordinate courts on the basis that it is an Ahmadi concern. This action takes discrimination against the Ahmadi community to new heights. We can only wonder if the instigators of this plot imagine that sipping the ‘offensive’ drink will in some way contaminate their minds, or alter beliefs. Everyone, after all, has the right to follow the religious philosophy they adhere to — and no drink can alter this. The real aim, of course, is to attempt to hurt the economic interests of the Ahmadis — who have through the decades been subjected to violence in all kinds of different forums, whether it is through physical acts such as murder or other means intended to prevent them from occupying a place as equal citizens in society. The Shezan Company has also been targeted before, during mob violence and through other such means.

The LBA president has said that around 100 lawyers voted in favour of the decision. It is frightening that a so-called ‘educated community’ of professionals could take a decision such as this. The evil of ignorance has obviously sunk deep within our society, leaving scars everywhere. The knives which inflict these wounds are carried by groups dedicated to spreading intolerance and campaigning against the minorities. The Ahmadis, of course, draw the special wrath of the forces committed to acting against them. When professionals such as lawyers, who should know more about justice than most, join hands with them, we can only wonder about the future of our country and ask what grim abyss we are headed for. The direction we have set out in does not augur well for the coming years — with this move also certain to hurt Ahmadi lawyers who practice at lower courts.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, February 12th, 2012.

 http://tribune.com.pk/story/335000/an-outrageous-ban/

‘Restraint’ must follow ‘activism’

By Khaled Ahmed

Expansion of judicial power is welcome, but one must not forget that there is also such a thing as judicial excess

On 30 February 2012, the Supreme Court (SC) has allowed former Pakistani ambassador to US Husain Haqqani to travel abroad after an important witness in the ‘memo’ case finally refused to present himself at the judicial commission set up by the Court. This is the first sign of gradual erosion of the charges that were finally to target President Zardari as the originator of ‘treason’ against the Pakistan Army through an American businessman, Mansoor Ijaz.

Analysts believe the Court has been let down by the other parties interested in crucifying the PPP leader and sending the PPP government packing before its term. Nawaz Sharif may have stitched up a deal with Zardari over the timing of next general election; and the Army may have been appeased through Zardari’s sacrifice of Husain Haqqani as burnt offering to the generals. At the time of writing, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan was defending Prime Minister Gilani against a charge of contempt and persuading the honourable Court to relent and be satisfied with a belated letter to the Swiss authorities.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan is hearing two cases – and a third one is coming up later in the month – that threaten to expose it to lack of judicial restraint. At home, internecine politics and the besiegement of the ruling party give it the ballast with which it can keep going if it wants. But the lawyers’ movement – which deluded it into feeling that it was backed by ‘the nation’ rather than the Constitutionis split at the top, the vanguard of its leaders now skeptical of its steamrollering activism. Internationally too it is now facing isolation.

On January 25, 2012, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) expressed its concern over the convening of the inquiry commission for the memo affair, saying ‘there are legitimate concerns‘ that, by neglecting the rights of the ex-ambassador Husain Haqqani, the Court ‘may have overstepped its constitutional authority and that this action could undermine the ongoing Parliamentary inquiry. The ICJ supported the ousted Supreme Court and consistently accepted its activism in a national environment of extreme dereliction and corruption in state institutions topped by the incumbent executive.

Sitting inside Pakistan and bristling over country’s eroding sovereignty, it is easy to be isolationist and ignore the ICJ warning. Those among the top lawyers – Asma Jahangir, Munir A Malik, Ali Ahmad Kurd, Aitzaz Ahsan – who have decided to caution judicial restraint after a bout of activism so intense it looked like revenge, are being cursed by the mainly conservative and bucolic (mufassil) lawyers’ community as well as the media clearly bent on getting rid of a largely dysfunctional PPP government.

The ‘national consensus’ is chiding the Supreme Court to review just anything under the sun as the forum of last resort. There is no forum higher than the Supreme Court if you feel aggrieved. Except that the Court takes an objective view of its authority and a realistic view of the fallibilities of a third world state cut to pieces by terrorism. It is more difficult to convict a known terrorist in Pakistan than the sitting prime minister.

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International scrutiny of the Supreme Court – Pakistani Spreme Court may have overstepped its constitutional authority

International scrutiny of the Supreme Court

By Asad Jamal

In a press release issued on January 25, 2012, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) expressed its concern over the convening of the inquiry commission for the so-called memo affair. The ICJ, while calling for respecting the rights of former ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, said there are legitimate concerns that in doing so the “SC may have overstepped its constitutional authority and that this action could undermine the ongoing Parliamentary inquiry”. Can the honourable judges of our apex court ignore the views of the ICJ?

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The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) expresses concern over Husain Haqqani’s security

PRESS RELEASE – GENEVA – The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has expressed grave concern for the infringement of rights of Husain Haqqani, former Pakistani ambassador to the United States of America.

Husain Haqqani faced a vicious media trial following which the Supreme Court of Pakistan on a petition filed debarred him from travelling abroad, despite the fact that he has not been charged with any crime,” said Sheila Varadan, International Legal Advisor at the ICJ Asia-Pacific Regional Office. “Husain Haqqani continues to receive threats and has been painted as disloyal to the country. There is, though, no proof of any betrayal of his duties as an Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States.”

“We are calling on the Pakistani Authorities to respect Husain Haqqani’s right to be presumed innocent and to remove the restriction on his right to leave the country and any other restrictions on his right to freedom of movement,” added Varadan. “They must also ensure his personal safety at all times and respect his right to a fair and impartial hearing throughout the Inquiry process.”

Courtesy: Pakistan Today