London, UK and Garden Grove, CA: Overseas Sindhis including USA-based Sindhi Association of North America and UK/USA based World Sindhi Congress (WSC) condemn the kidnapping and as that is what she said in open court; forced conversion to Islam of a Hindu teenage girl, Rinkal Kumari. Ms. Kumari kidnapped from Mirpur Mathelo and held in custody of local PPP MNA. When the local community protested, Ms. Kumari was brought to a court but members of the Hindu community were not permitted to enter the public court session. She stated to the court that she wants to go home. But the judge forced her to remain in the custody of her kidnappers.
The Sindh High Court Chief Justice, Mushir Alam, has ordered by March 12, the production of 19-year-old Rinkle Kumari, a girl kidnapped from Mirpur Mathelo in Sindh’s Ghotki district. She is said to have been subsequently forcibly converted to Islam and married off to a Muslim man — or that’s the version of her family members. The judge was outraged by the event and pledged that law would no longer tolerate such crimes.
The Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network (PDSN) has been instrumental in raising public awareness of caste discrimination in Pakistan in 2011 and creating a stir in the media. Media reports on caste discrimination have included issues such as bonded labour, untouchability, kidnapping and forced conversions of Dalits.
Media have also reported widely on discrimination in flood relief work in Pakistan following new monsoon rains, causing one of recent history’s worst disasters. Dalit communities were denied access to relief camps because of their caste and were forced to live under the open sky. The President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardai, has spoken out against this discrimination against Dalits in the on-going flood relief work saying that any discrimination in extending rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations to anyone on the basis of caste is unacceptable. Nonetheless the discrimination continued throughout 2011. PDSN has worked to support Dalit victims of the flooding and bring their plight to the attention of authorities, International NGOs and agencies involved in relief operations.
2011 also saw an increased visibility of Dalit women in Pakistan and Ms. Kalavanti Raja joined PDSN as Coordinator of the women’s wing of the network. Ms. Raja participated in several events, including the Dalit Women’s conference in Kathmandu, a South Asian Dalit conference in Bangladesh, and the IDSN International Consultation on Caste-Based Discrimination and council meeting in Nepal, where PDSN Coordinators also took part. She spoke at several events and monitored Pakistani media attention to the issue of caste discrimination, with regular updates to IDSN on the situation.
Jinnah Institute, a think tank working on minority issues, released a report in 2011 highlighting caste discrimination in Pakistan. According to the report the vast majority of Dalits in Pakistan do not own lands and work on daily wages, a consequence of them not having any permanent settlement. The report said, “One day, they are with one landlord, the next day with another. And this is how they spend a life of debt, with no accountability or education.” Their castes have translated into daily life. For instance, Dalits may be restricted to separate water wells in school, “from which also Muslims will not drink.” Dalits working in bonded labour continues to be a central issue in Pakistan. They are often forced to work under terrible conditions in what has been deemed ‘modern slavery’ with no view to ever repaying their debts. This form of slavery is particularly prevalent in the agricultural sector, construction work, mining and textile industries.
March 8, 2012 – Washington, DC – The Sindhi American Political Action Committee (SAPAC) was recently informed about the urgent and alarming case of a Hindu girl, Rinkel Kumari, who was abducted by Muslim fanatics from her home in Mirpur Mathelo and forced to convert her religion to Islam. We are in the process of arranging appointments with members of Congress and their staff to discuss Rinkel’s case as well as the plight of minorities in Pakistan. We would like to invite you to join us as we meet with members of Congress.
Sadly, Rinkel Kumari’s is one of many cases of abduction and forced religious conversion in Pakistan. We have gathered some information about Rinkel’s case and the situation of Hindus in Pakistan below:
· Rinkel Kumari was forcibly abducted from her home in the early hours of February 24, 2012 by Naveed Shah who was accompanied by three other armed men.
· Rinkel was held in custody by Mian Mohammad Aslam, the son of Pakistan Peoples’ Party MNA Miya Mithoo in Bharchundi Shareef where she was forced to marry Naveed Shah and convert to Islam.
· On the morning of February 24, Daya Ram, Rinkel’s uncle registered an FIR against Naveed Shah.
· On February 25, Rinkel’s case was brought before a Ghotki civil judge. Rinkel testified that she had been kidnapped and forced to change her religion against her will. However, the judge ruled in favor of Naveed Shah and Rinkel was taken into police custody for two days at Sukkur police station.
· Rinkel was allegedly threatened while in police custody that if she did not change her statement, she and her family would be killed.
· On February 27, Rinkel appeared in court again. This time, her relatives were not allowed inside the court. Additionally, there were armed followers of the MNA surrounding the court.
· During this second hearing, Rinkel was under pressure and changed her statement in favor of Naveed Shah. She was given into his custody. Rinkel’s family is not aware of the whereabouts of their daughter.
· On March 2, the Hindu community protested in front of the Press Club against the abductions and forced conversions of Hindu girls to Islam. The family of Rinkel also participated in the protest.
· Hindus are a minority group in Pakistan, making up approximately 2% of the population.
· According to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), around 20 to 25 forced kidnappings and conversions of Hindu girls take place every month in Sindh.
· The Hindu American Foundation states that “many Hindus in Pakistan are compelled to pay regular sums, as a type of ransom, to extortionists and local leaders in exchange for the physical security of their families and themselves.”
· As a result of Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws, minority groups in Pakistan are not free to express their own religions and ideologies without fear of persecution.
· State sponsored discrimination against minority groups in Pakistan is rampant. This state sponsored discrimination has caused several Hindus to migrate out of Pakistan. In March 2011, Hindu politician in Pakistan Jaipal Chabria, said that “every month a Hindu family leaves for neighboring India. Insecurity, killings, kidnappings and forcible conversion of women to Islam are the major causes.”
We humbly request that you contact us to join us in presenting Rinkel’s case to members of Congress on Capitol Hill. Please let us know as soon as possible if you plan to participate. We hope to work together to bring justice to Rinkel and her family and to bring an end to state sponsored discrimination in Pakistan.
By Riaz Sohail
A court in Pakistan has ordered police to find a Hindu woman who was allegedly abducted and forced to marry her Muslim husband.
In a petition before the Sindh High Court, the family of Rinkle Kumari say that her abduction was supported by a powerful politician.
But her husband’s friends say that she voluntarily left home in Sindh province and willingly converted to Islam.
Judges at the court said that Ms Kumari must be produced before them next week.
Human rights activists say that other reported abductions of members of minority communities in Pakistan, which is overwhelmingly Muslim, have not been properly investigated by the authorities.
In the most recent case, Hindu community leaders say that an oath Ms Kumari made in front of a court in her home town that she had freely got married and converted to Islam was made under duress.
They say that many others like her have been forcibly taken away by powerful politicians – some allied to the governing Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
The Hindu community has accused one of the party’s MPs, Mian Abdul Haq, of supporting the abduction and the forced conversion.
But in an interview with the BBC he strenuously denied the allegations.
“I contacted her family when Rinkle came to me last month,” he said.
“But they refused to respond – and then I was left with no choice but to convert her to Islam and get her married [according to] her will.”
Ms Kumari’s family say that she was kidnapped from her home on 24 February by Naveed Shah – who later married her.
They say that they have registered a police complaint against Mr Shah even though he appeared in court on 25 February with Ms Kumari, who made a statement before the magistrate that she had married him of her own free will.
The family and community leaders, however, say that the magistrate was under “a great deal of pressure” because hundreds of armed tribesmen loyal to Mr Haq were in the court premises.
Mr Haq said that his supporters would abide by the court ruling and that Ms Kumari would appear in court on 12 March.
More » Where shall we go?
To read more » BBC urdu
KARACHI: Preetam Das is a good doctor with a hospital job and a thriving private clinic, yet all he thinks about is leaving Pakistan, terrified about a rise in killings and kidnappings targeting Hindus.
A successful professional, he lives in mega city Karachi with his wife and two children, but comes from Kashmore, a district in the north of Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh.
His family has lived there for centuries and in 1947 when the sub-continent split between India, a majority Hindu state, and Pakistan, a homeland for Muslims, Das’ grandparents chose to stay with the Muslims.
They fervently believed the promise of Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah that religious minorities would be protected. Sixty years later, their grandson says life in Kashmore has become unbearable. “The situation is getting worse every day,” he says.
Two of his uncles have been kidnapped and affluent Hindus are at particular risk from abduction gangs looking for ransom, he says.
Rights activists say the climate is indicative of progressive Islamisation over the last 30 years that has fuelled an increasing lack of tolerance to religious minorities, too often considered second class citizens.
Das says the only thing keeping him in Pakistan is his mother. “She has flatly refused to migrate, which hinders my plans. I can’t go without her,” he said.
Hindus make up 2.5 per cent of the 174 million people living in the nuclear-armed Muslim nation. Over 90 per cent live in Sindh, where they are generally wealthy and enterprising, making them easy prey for criminal gangs.
An official at the ministry of external affairs in New Delhi who declined to be named said: “Every month about eight to 10 Hindu families migrate from Pakistan. Most of them are well-off.”
He had no comment on whether the number was on the rise, but Hindu community groups in Pakistan say more people are leaving because of kidnappings, killings and even forced conversions of girls to Islam.
“Two of my brothers have migrated to India and an uncle to the UAE,” said Jay Ram, a farmer in Sindh’s northern district of Ghotki.
“It’s becoming too difficult to live here. Sindhis are the most tolerant community in the country vis-a-vis religious harmony, but deteriorating law and order is forcing them to move unwillingly,” he added.
By Qazi Asif
Hindu protesters demand justice for 17-year-old girl, who they believe was forcefully converted to Islam, Blame PPP MNA Mian Abdul Haq alias Mian Mitho for her ‘abduction’
KARACHI – A sizable crowd of Hindu protesters gathered outside the Karachi Press Club on Sunday, demanding justice for a 17-year-old Hindu girl from Mirpur Mathelo in Ghotki district, Rinkle Kumari, who was allegedly abducted forcefully converted to Islam and renamed Faryal.
The relatives of the girl, who were among the protesters, blame one man for her alleged predicament – Pakistan People’s Party MNA Mian Abdul Haq alias Mian Mitho, who is also the spiritual leader of Bharchundi Sharif in Daharki.
The girl’s relatives claimed that the girl fell in love with her neighbour Naveed Shah, whose friend Hussam Kalwar is a supporter of the MNA.
Kalwar, a criminal, has been arrested several times but always manages to get released due to his ties to the influential MNA.
Giving details about the night when Kumari was “abducted”, her uncle, Daya Ram, said in the early hours of February 24 this year, Kumari was supposed to meet Naveed Shah, believing that he would be alone. But Shah was not alone and accompanied by armed men, who abducted her and took her to Bharchundi Sharif, where she was forcefully converted to Islam.
“She did not leave home out of free will. If she had, why was one of her shoes at the home’s entrance and her dupatta outside? She was kidnapped by armed men, who barged into the home,” Ram told Pakistan Today.
He further said on the morning of February 24, he reached the Mirpur Mathelo police station and had an FIR registered against Naveed Shah.
On the same day at 1 pm, Kumari’s family received a phone call from MNA Haq’s son Mian Aslam Shah, who told them that if they wish to meet the girl, they should come to his residence.
However, Ram claimed, the family told him that they do not wish to meet her at his residence and would instead want her brought to the DSP’s office or the Hindu Panchayat Hall, where she can talk with them freely. However, both these options were rejected.
Ram said the next day, Kumari’s family was told that they can meet the girl at the Ghotki DSP’s office, but they would have to come along with Jeay Sindh Mahaz Chairman Riaz Chandio.
When Chandio and the girl’s family entered the office of the DSP, they saw that Mian Shaman, the brother of the PPP MNA, was seated on the chair of the DSP. The family again refused to talk with the girl in Shaman’s presence and was again given an option that they can meet her in the presence of Naveed Shah. The family did not accept the offer and went to the Ghotki civil judge.
The first time Kumari met her family after the “abduction” was in the court. She told her family in the presence of counsels from both sides that she was kidnapped. “Some people entered our home and kidnapped me. I did not want to leave with Naveed Shah,” Kumari’s uncle quoted her as saying.
At that moment, Ram said, Naveed Shah fainted and the judge, instead of letting the recording of her statement complete, remanded Kumari to police custody for two days.
“At the Sukkur police station, a policewoman handed her a cell phone on which she was threatened that if she did not change her statement, she and her relatives will be killed and the property of all Hindus in the area will be demolished,” Ram claimed.
“When Rinkle was brought to the court again, she was confused and upset and asked us to forgive her and allow her to sacrifice herself for our sake,” he added.
He said on February 26, President Asif Ali Zardari took notice of the incident and police again “kidnapped” Kumari and at 2 pm, she was shifted to Mirpur Mathelo from Sukkur.
On February 27, the day when Kumari had to appear in the court again, all routes to the court were blocked, but not for the “fanatic” followers of the MNA.
“If Rinkle was acting out of her own will, then why was she surrounded by armed men at the court?” Daya Rama questioned.
During the second hearing, Kumari gave a statement in favour of Naveed Shah and the court ordered her to be given into his custody.
In response to the family’s allegations, MNA Haq’s son Mian Aslam Shah has claimed that the couple had come to him seeking help and the girl wanted to convert to Islam so she could marry Shah.
MPA Petamber Sehwani, during the Sindh Assembly session on February 29, said Hindus’ daughters are being kidnapped and boys killed. “They are being forced to leave Sindh. But I want to make it clear that the Hindus of Sindh will not leave their motherland. Do not push us to the wall,” he said.
The pirs or spiritual leaders of Bharchundi Sharif have a history of religious extremism. On November 2, 1939, a famous Hindu Sufi singer Bhagat Kanwar Ram was killed in a train while travelling to Sukkur. The FIR of the murder was registered against MNA Haq’s father, Mian Abdul Rahim and his two followers.
Courtesy: Pakistan Toady
Courtesy: Geo Tv » YouTube
The Executive council of Sindhi Association of North America Canada Chapter has condemned in strongest terms the kidnapping of a Sindhi Hindu girl Rinkle Kumari and her forced conversion to Islam under coercive conditions in Mirpur Mathelo, Sindh, Pakistan.
Sana Canada chapter is of the view that it is well planned act of aggression and intimidation against peace loving Hindus of Sindh to scare them and make them feel un-secure in their own motherland and force them to leave the land of their birth by the religious extremist groups with the help of existing PPP government.
Sana Canada chapter believes that it is a well thought strategy of religious extremist groups on the behest of government in Pakistan to torn a part the fabric of tolerant Sindhi society and promote hatred and break the unity of Sindhis as a nation on religious grounds.
Sana Canada appeals the Prime Minister of Canada, Human rights commission of Canada to help stop these acts of aggressions against Hindus in Sindh and other religious minorities in Pakistan.
Sana Canada also appeals Chief Justice of Pakistan to take suo motto action in the case of Rinkle Kumari and provide her coercion free environment to decide her future and establish a mechanism where all such kind of kidnappings and forced conversions can be decided by courts in a coercion free environment in the presence and satisfaction of human rights commission of Pakistan.
Sana Canada, Chapter
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For more details » Save Daughter of Sindh → RINKAL KUMARI
Land of bigots
By Tazeen Javed
It has been a year since Shahbaz Bhatti passed away. No, strike that, he did not pass away; his life was brutally cut short when he was murdered. Everyone from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to the Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan have been suspected with his murder, either by the police officials, or by the home ministry, yet no decent progress has been made.
In a way, it all makes sense, since only certain kinds of angry groups of men, who bay for blood and destruction, seem to carry any weight around here. Bhatti was NOT that kind of a man. He believed in fighting for rights the democratic way and had planned to introduce legislation that would ban hate speech and hate literature against all. He was campaigning for official holidays for minorities’ religious festivals and wanted the blasphemy law to be repealed which turned out to be a crime worthy of death.
Bhatti’s death is not a lone incidence of brutal violence. Planned acts of aggression and cruelty against minorities — whether ethnic, religious, sectarian or communal — is becoming a norm in the ‘Land of the Pure’. Intolerance has reached such levels that people with names that revealed their sectarian or religious beliefs are afraid to use them when they feel unsafe. Slain journalist, Mukarram Khan Atif narrated one such incident, which depicted the extent of narrow-mindedness and fanaticism in the country. He and another reporter were travelling south from Mohmand Agency through Khyber Agency and one of them had to use a name that would make him pass off as a member of the majority sect.
The minority communities — no matter who they are and where they are living — are constantly under threat. We have cases of forced conversions of Hindu girls, mostly minors in Sindh who are forcefully abducted and married to Muslim men and then presented to the court as religious converts. According to a treasury member of the Sindh Assembly, around 20 to 25 forced conversions take place every month in the province.
Acts of mob violence against Ahmadis seem to be rising at an alarming rate. The situation is such that any Ahmadi family is at risk of being threatened with the blasphemy law. Their places of worship are gunned and/or ransacked and the law-enforcement community and the state does nothing and silently looks on.
The perpetrators of the Gojra incident, where a whole Christian colony was burnt down, still roam free and the Hazaras in Balochistan are regularly targeted for their sectarian and ethnic identity. Also, nothing is done to check the dissemination of hate literature, some of which can be found even in mainstream bookstores. Last week’s tragic shooting of passengers travelling on a bus to Gilgit on the Karakoram Highway, where people were asked to show their CNICs and then taken off and killed — all of them were Shia — shows that we have reached an even higher level of prejudice and bigotry.
It would not be wrong to say that intolerance rules our society and no one is safe here in this country other than the men who perpetuate bias, bigotry and hatred?
Courtesy: The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2012.
Mother of all cases?
A testimony of the slim, short, veteran businessman-cum-banker, Yunus Habib, may come in handy when the Supreme Court starts hearing the almost decade-old petition of Air Marshal Asghar Khan on Feb 29, 2012. Habib hit the headlines in the 1990s for his key role in the release of Rs14 million (or maybe more) from his own Mehran Bank to defeat the Benazir Bhutto’s PPP in the next elections.
The affidavit submitted by the then ISI chief, Lt. Gen. Asad Durrani, is the first ever confession by any official of Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency of the role it played in pre-poll rigging and its direct involvement in political matters. But there is much more to it and all facts must come to the surface.
Though there was an unusual delay in the case being taken up for hearing, one hopes it will proceed as fast as other petitions like the ones dealing with NRO, NICL, the infamous Memo Case or the Haj scam.
Members of Sindh Progressive committee protest against State Terrorism in Baluchistan outside the Hyderabad press club. Hyderabad, Pakistan. 11th February 2012.
Today a news article in Dawn revealed the shocking case of female students and staff members forced to offer sexual favours in return for grades and demands of their immediate superiors.
I do not believe that this news is “shocking” because such cases are a rarity. In fact I believe that such cases probably proliferate throughout educational institutions, or indeed in any institution where men are in a position to extract sexual favours. This case is shocking because of the International Islamic University Islamabad’s indifference to these cases and its efforts to cover it up. Further, they have tried to justify their actions by claiming that they hushed up these allegations to protect the parents of female students and the reputation of the institution.
So what exactly has happened?
Toronto, 02/02/2012 – Baloch Human Rights Council [BHRC] (Canada) strongly condemned the cold-blooded killings of a prominent Balochistan independence leader, Brahmdagh Bugti’s sister and niece and claimed it a political murder aimed at the hardcore movement for rights and freedom. President, BHRC (Canada) Zaffar Baloch, Vice President & Coordinator IVBMP Aziz Baloch, Secretary General Sher Abidian, and Secretary Information Imtiaz Baloch in a joint statement maintained that this tragic incident was a state-sponsored assassination, planned and executed by the operatives of the Pakistani military intelligence services.
Furthermore, BHRC (Canada) leadership expressed its deepest sorrow over the loss of family members of Brahmdagh Bugti, Mir Bakhtiar Domki, and Mehran Baluch and stated that the Baloch community in Canada shares the moments of grief with them, the Baloch Diaspora, and people of Balochistan. BHRC statement also extended condolences to the family members and relatives of the Baloch driver who lost his life in the incident.
By Jahanzaib Haque
I have vowed to write article after article with a call to action. This one has a very simple one: awareness.
Take some time out to read the news reports and Op-eds on Balochistan. That way, at the very least, you will not be shocked or surprised when the bombs start going off in your city, and you learn that we are in for another war that has (on the face of it) no end.
Wake up and talk about it.
To understand the war in Balochistan, read these articles:
Inside Balochistan – Declan Walsh
Separatism online – Jahanzaib Haque
The problem with Balochistan – Salman Latif
Saving Balochistan – The Express Tribune editorial
Recalling Baloch history – Yaqoob Khan Bangash
The right to self determination – Fahad Desmukh
To read complete article » The Express Tribune Blogs
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ISLAMABAD – The counsel for the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) directors general conceded before the Supreme Court on Monday that four out of 11 prisoners of Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi, picked up by intelligence personnel for investigation into their alleged role in the October 2009 attacks on General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi, had died.
He said some of the remaining seven prisoners were in Lady Reading Hospital Peshawar and Internment Centre, Parachinar, thus he was unable to produce them in court. “No one is above the law and the prime minister also appeared in court when he was summoned,” the chief justice remarked. A three-member bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Tariq Parvez, directed the spy agencies’ counsel Raja Muhammad Irshad to file a reply explaining the circumstances under which the four prisoners died and produce the remaining seven prisoners in court on February 9. ….
Read more » Pakistan Today
….. All the misdeeds and misdemeanours of the army here have gone unchallenged and mostly misreported or under-reported. One cannot expect bumbling civilian prime ministers who regularly eat crow after blurting out against the army to hold them to account. The judiciary dilly-dallies on missing persons and kill and dump issues because it has never been people-friendly. Atrocities and injustices are possible because people have become too docile and too obedient and have abdicated their right to protest.
Howard Zinn rightly said, “Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves…(and) the grand thieves are running the country. That is our problem.”
As long as the people continue to accept injustices and atrocities being perpetrated against them or others, the ‘grand thieves’ will remain in power everywhere and atrocities will not cease. The plea of ‘negligent dereliction of duty’ will always come in handy to the perpetrators if those judging them are of their ilk. Only when people will give up their docility and obsequiousness will justice be done and be seen to be done. And therein lies the solution to the injustices and atrocities anywhere in the world.
To read compete article » Daily Times
Out of 11 people taken from Idyala jail last year by the ISI, dead bodies of 4 of them has been found from Peshawar. The disappearance case was taken in supreme and ISI accepted that they have these men and they are interrogating them and so they accepted the responsibility in the supreme court.
Now as 4 of them has been found dead, definitely by the ISI, therefore will Supreme Court (SC) deliver contempt of court notice to DG ISI??? whose agency members were given order by SC to make sure their safety of life and they didn’t obey the SC order. ….
Read more » Siasat.pk
U.S. Department of State Spokesperson Victoria Nuland answers questions submitted to the Department’s 10 official Twitter feeds during a Twitter Q&A at the Department of State in Washington, D.C. on January 13, 2012.
BY Mohammad Hanif
What is the last thing you say to your best general when ordering him into a do-or-die mission? A prayer maybe, if you are religiously inclined. A short lecture, underlining the importance of the mission, if you want to keep it businesslike. Or maybe you’ll wish him good luck accompanied by a clicking of the heels and a final salute.
On the night of 5 July 1977 as Operation Fair Play, meant to topple Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s elected government, was about to commence, then Army Chief General Zia ul Haq took aside his right-hand man and Corps Commander of 10th Corps Lieutenant General Faiz Ali Chishti and whispered to him: “Murshid, marwa na daina.” (Guru, don’t get us killed.)
General Zia was indulging in two of his favourite pastimes: spreading his paranoia amongst those around him and sucking up to a junior officer he needed to do his dirty work. General Zia had a talent for that; he could make his juniors feel as if they were indispensable to the running of this world. And he could make his seniors feel like proper gods, as Bhutto found out to his cost.
General Faiz Ali Chishti’s troops didn’t face any resistance that night; not a single shot was fired, and like all military coups in Pakistan, this was also dubbed a ‘bloodless coup’. There was a lot of bloodshed, though, in the following years—in military-managed dungeons, as pro-democracy students were butchered at Thori gate (Thorri Phaatak) in rural Sindh, hundreds of shoppers were blown up in Karachi’s Bohri Bazar, in Rawalpindi people didn’t even have to leave their houses to get killed as the Army’s ammunition depot blew up raining missiles on a whole city, and finally at Basti Laal Kamal near Bahawalpur, where a plane exploded killing General Zia and most of the Pakistan Army’s high command. General Faiz Ali Chishti had nothing to do with this, of course. General Zia had managed to force his murshid into retirement soon after coming to power. Chishti had started to take that term of endearment—murshid—a bit too seriously and dictators can’t stand anyone who thinks of himself as a kingmaker.
By Declan Walsh
Even before you reach Pakistan there’s reason to fret. “Ladies and gentlemen, we will be landing shortly, inshallah,” says the Pakistan International Airlines pilot, 10 minutes outside Islamabad. To the western ear this ancient invocation – literally “God willing” – can be disconcerting: you pray the crew are relying on more than divine providence to set down safety. But these days it’s about right – Pakistan, a country buffeted by mysterious if not entirely holy forces, seems to have surrendered to its fate.
Viewed from the outside, Pakistan looms as the Fukushima of fundamentalism: a volatile, treacherous place filled with frothing Islamists and double-dealing generals, leaking plutonium-grade terrorist trouble. Forget the “world’s most dangerous country” moniker, by now old hat. Look to recent coverage: “Hornet’s Nest” declares this week’s Economist; “The Ally from Hell” proclaims the Atlantic.
ISLAMABAD – Pakistan’s embattled Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday said conspirators were plotting to bring down his government and delivered an unprecedented tirade against the powerful military.
In astonishing confirmation that he fears being ousted, he angrily denied the government was subservient to the army, long considered the chief arbiter of power in Pakistan as his administration grapples with a damaging scandal.
Pressures are at boiling point over a memo, allegedly written with approval from the president, asking for US help to prevent a feared military coup after Osama bin Laden was killed in May.
Rampant speculation that President Asif Ali Zardari could be forced out of office over the scandal and illness has refused to ease, despite his return to the capital following two weeks of medical treatment in Dubai.
“I want to make it clear today that conspiracies are being hatched here to pack up the elected government,” Gilani told a gathering at the National Arts Gallery, without naming anyone.
“But we will continue to fight for the rights of people of Pakistan whether or not we remain in the government,” Gilani said, declaring himself the country’s longest serving premier, with 45 months on the job. ….
Read more » One Pakistan
ISLAMABAD: A senior Baloch nationalist leader warned that Balochistan would not “remain with” Pakistan if extra-judicial killings and excesses by security forces in the restive province were not stopped immediately.
If steps were not taken immediately to halt the extra-judicial killing of Baloch nationalists and to engage them in a dialogue, then “Balochistan will not remain with you” (Pakistan), said Sardar Ataullah Mengal, a senior leader of the Balochistan National Party.
He made the remarks while addressing a televised news conference with PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif in Karachi. Sharif said he met Mengal to discuss ways to address the grievances of the Baloch people and to strengthen democracy in the province.
In unusually blunt remarks, Mengal said the violence and killings by security forces had taken “Balochistan to the point of no return” and steps have to be taken to engage youths “who have been driven into the mountains by the army“.
Criticising the powerful Pakistan Army, Mengal question why the security forces only acted in response to killings and political violence in Balochistan and not in places like Karachi and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
“I don’t understand why our beloved army doesn’t react to killings in those places as it does in Balochistan,” he said. “This army only takes up the issues of Punjabis. This is Punjab’s army and not Pakistan’s army,” he said. ….
Read more » TOI
Below please see a letter from Young Women of Balochistan, forwarded by a friend who received it via email on Dec 10, 2011, Human Rights Day – a day commemorated around the country and dedicated to the people of Balochistan by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (See this report by Rabia Ali). Ironically and tragically, that very day, a young Baloch human rights activist, 35-year old Faisal Mengal, was gunned down in Karachi (details in this report). As Rabia Ali reports, from July 2010 to November 2011, around 300 dead bodies were found — some even of 14-year-olds, according to Tahir Hussain, Vice Chairperson of the HRCP’s Balochistan chapter. Those killed include two HRCP activists, while the number of people missing range from 5,000 to 6,000. Read on for this brief appeal by the Young Women of Balochistan…
We are young women from Balochistan, belonging to Quetta, Pishin, Mastung, Khuzdaar, Lasbella, Sibi, and Qila Saifullah.
On International Human Rights day, we want to send forward our message.
Each of us has horror stories; each of us has lived through nightmares. We want to tell you our fears.
We want to tell you that we no longer sleep at night. Because we fear the midnight knock. We don’t sleep in the day either, because when men we love go out, we don’t know if they will ever come back or not.
We want to tell you that when our loved ones ‘disappear’, we don’t know what to pray for – whether we should pray for them to come back broken, tortured and maimed, or whether to pray for their quick and painless death. We know unharmed return is not a possibility.
We fear that our daily battles for dignity within our homes and communities will be lost; that our fight for equality and progress will vanish in our fight for survival as an ethnic group.
We fear our own blindness.
We fear the Frontier Constabulary, the army, the state, and the ‘unknown assailants’ that all FIRs record. We have now started to fear ourselves. We fear that years later, when others tell us ‘We didn’t know what was happening in Balochistan’, we will not be able to accept that.
We fear we will lose our capacity to forgive.
We need you to help us fight our fears.
We ask you to help us fight for our future. A future in which the FC and the army does not rule over our lives and deaths.
We want to attend universities, not funerals.
From: Young Women of Balochistan
Courtesy » Journeys To Democracy
By SALMAN MASOOD
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Husain Haqqani, the embattled Pakistani ambassador to the United States, resigned Tuesday in the wake of accusations that he had sought American help to rein in the powerful Pakistani military.
Although he had hoped to stay on, Mr. Haqqani offered to resign last week. But on Tuesday, the prime minister said he should resign so that an investigation into the accusations could be “carried out properly.”
The accusations center on a memo that Mansoor Ijaz, an American businessman of Pakistani origin, said Mr. Haqqani asked him to have delivered to Adm. Mike Mullen, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. According to Mr. Ijaz, the memo asked for American help in heading off a possible military-led coup and promised concessions in return.
The accusations, which Mr. Haqqani denies, created a political storm in Pakistan, where anti-American feelings run high and Mr. Haqqani is considered by some to be an apologist for the United States.
He has also made enemies among some in the military for his criticisms of the army before he became ambassador. Some analysts believe that the military’s leaders, who wield the real power in the country, pushed for the government to oust Mr. Haqqani.
Some American officials on Tuesday expressed concern that Mr. Haqqani’s exit could complicate attempts by the United States and Pakistan to repair badly strained relations. …
Read more » The New York Times
Finally the Federal Ministry of Human Rights has woken up to the woes of the people of Balochistan and taken notice of the rising number of deaths in the province. The human rights ministry has decided to form a task force that will probe human rights violations in Pakistan’s largest province. A report was earlier compiled by the interior ministry’s Crisis Management Cell (CMC). According to this report, Rs 900 million has been spent by deploying 17 regular units and paramilitary troops to put an end to rising violence in Balochistan. This is astonishing considering that the money is being spent on the same forces that the Baloch people hold responsible for their miseries. A military operation is going on in the province and the ‘kill and dump’ policy being pursued by the military and its intelligence agencies is no secret. Various NGOs and human rights organisations, both local and international, have documented this in their reports. The human rights ministry’s task force needs to take into account how deploying more paramilitary troops is part of the problem, not part of the solution, to the ongoing crisis in Balochistan. Although it is not in the hands of the federal and/or the provincial governments to end the military operation since they do not call the shots when it comes to the military’s policies, it is pertinent for the human rights ministry to act according to its nomenclature by persuading GHQ that its policies in Balochistan are hurting the federation.
Killing innocent Baloch whose only fault is to ask for their basic and just rights is criminal. Thousands of Baloch are missing. Tortured and bullet-riddled bodies of Baloch missing persons are found every other day in the province. Under these circumstances, pursuing a repressive policy is not just the height of injustice but also a threat to the country’s unity. The military made the same mistake in East Pakistan. Instead of learning from past mistakes, our military keeps making new and more senseless mistakes.
The need of the hour is to stop the military operation at once. The Frontier Corps (FC) has terrorised the Baloch for many years now. It is time to stop their brutal activities. Kidnapping, torturing and murdering our own Baloch brethren is not something that can be allowed to take place. Baloch insurgents have taken up arms in frustration. The calls for ‘freedom’ are a result of the FC’s ‘kill and dump’ policy.
Trying to solve the crisis in Balochistan through military means is a disaster waiting to happen. This is the fifth military operation in Balochistan. The last four operations only alienated the Baloch further and this one could well be the last nail in the federation’s coffin. A political solution is the only way out of this quagmire. Talking to the Baloch leadership — those in the mountains and those in exile — can bring peace pack. The democratically elected civilian government may be weak but it should not sweep this issue under the carpet because in the end, the blood of the Baloch will be on the hands of the whole Pakistani nation that silently watched this massacre and did not raise its voice. Let us not bloody our hands any further; let us raise our hands for justice instead.
Courtesy » Daily Times
DHAKA: A senior Bangladeshi official on Sunday urged Pakistan to formally apologize for alleged atrocities and acts of genocide committed by the Pakistani military during the independence war in 1971.
Foreign Affairs Minister Dipu Moni made the demand in a meeting with Pakistan’s new envoy to Bangladesh, a statement released by the ministry said.
Aided by India, Bangladesh, then the eastern wing of Pakistan, won its independence in 1971 after a nine-month war.
Bangladesh says Pakistani soldiers, aided by local collaborators, killed an estimated 3 million people, raped about 200,000 women and forced millions to flee their homes. Pakistan has disputed the allegations. …
Read more » DAWN.COM
– 21st-Century Slaves: How Corporations Exploit Prison Labor
In the eyes of the corporation, inmate labor is a brilliant strategy in the eternal quest to maximize profit.
By Rania Khalek
There is one group of American workers so disenfranchised that corporations are able to get away with paying them wages that rival those of third-world sweatshops. These laborers have been legally stripped of their political, economic and social rights and ultimately relegated to second-class citizens. They are banned from unionizing, violently silenced from speaking out and forced to work for little to no wages. This marginalization renders them practically invisible, as they are kept hidden from society with no available recourse to improve their circumstances or change their plight.
They are the 2.3 million American prisoners locked behind bars where we cannot see or hear them. And they are modern-day slaves of the 21st century.
It’s no secret that America imprisons more of its citizens than any other nation in history. With just 5 percent of the world’s population, the US currently holds 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. “In 2008, over 2.3 million Americans were in prison or jail, with one of every 48 working-age men behind bars,” according to a study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research(CEPR). That doesn’t include the tens of thousands of detained undocumented immigrants facing deportation, prisoners awaiting sentencing, or juveniles caught up in the school-to-prison pipeline. Perhaps it’s reassuring to some that the US still holds the number one title in at least one arena, but needless to say the hyper-incarceration plaguing America has had a damaging effect on society at large.
The CEPR study observes that US prison rates are not just excessive in comparison to the rest of the world, they are also “substantially higher than our own longstanding history.” The study finds that incarceration rates between 1880 and 1970 ranged from about “100 to 200 prisoners per 100,000 people.” After 1980, the inmate population “began to grow much more rapidly than the overall population and the rate climbed from “about 220 in 1980 to 458 in 1990, 683 in 2000, and 753 in 2008.”
The costs of this incarceration industry are far from evenly distributed, with the impact of excessive incarceration falling predominantly on African-American communities. Although black people make up just 13 percent of the overall population, they account for 40 percent of US prisoners. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), black males are incarcerated at a rate “more than 6.5 times that of white males and 2.5 that of Hispanic males and “black females are incarcerated at approximately three times the rate of white females and twice that of Hispanic females.”
Michelle Alexander points out in her book The New Jim Crow that more black men “are in prison or jail, on probation or on parole than were enslaved in 1850.” Higher rates of black drug arrests do not reflect higher rates of black drug offenses. In fact, whites and blacks engage in drug offenses, possession and sales at roughly comparable rates. ….
Read more » AlterNet