Tag Archives: grip

Cuba – A Regime’s Tight Grip on AIDS

By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.

HAVANA — Yudelsy García O’Connor, the first baby known to have been born with H.I.V. in Cuba, is not merely still alive. She is vibrant, funny and, at age 25, recently divorced but hoping to remarry and have children.

Her father died of AIDS when she was 10, her mother when she was 23. She was near death herself in her youth.

“I’m not afraid of death,” she said. “I know it could knock on my door. It comes for everyone. But I take my medicine.”

Ms. García is alive thanks partly to lucky genes, and partly to the intensity with which Cuba has attacked its AIDS epidemic. Whatever debate may linger about the government’s harsh early tactics — until 1993, everyone who tested positive for H.I.V. was forced into quarantine — there is no question that they succeeded.

Cuba now has one of the world’s smallest epidemics, a mere 14,038 cases. Its infection rate is 0.1 percent, on par with Finland, Singapore and Kazakhstan. That is one-sixth the rate of the United States, one-twentieth of nearby Haiti.

Continue reading Cuba – A Regime’s Tight Grip on AIDS

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I.A. Rehman on forced conversions – THE Hindu community, particularly in Sindh, has been in the grip of strong feelings of grief, anger and insecurity Unless its grievances are speedily addressed Pakistan stands to suffer incalculable harm in both material and moral terms

Unwelcome conversions

By I.A Rehman

THE Hindu community, particularly in Sindh, has been in the grip of strong feelings of grief, anger and insecurity for several weeks. Unless its grievances are speedily addressed Pakistan stands to suffer incalculable harm in both material and moral terms.

The issue of Hindu girls’ conversion to Islam and marriage to Muslim men, both transitions alleged to be forced and often after abduction, is not new. Indeed, it has always been high on the Hindu citizens’ list of complaints. What is new is the scale and intensity of their reaction and the large number of their appeals for justice. It seems three recent cases involving Rinkal Kumari, Lata Kumari and Aasha Kumari have unleashed the Hindu community’s long-brewing fears of loss of its religious and cultural identities.

The three cases are not identical in detail. Dr Murli Lal Karira, who belonged to Jacobabad and practised medicine at Suhbatpur, in Jafarabad district, was reported to have been abducted while travelling homeward. Some days later, his niece, Aasha Kumari Karira, who was taking lessons at a Jacobabad beauty parlour, did not return home after her work hours, and was believed to have been abducted. Her whereabouts are unknown.

Dr Lata Kumari, the 29-year old daughter of a medical practitioner from Jacobabad and employed at one of Karachi’s premier medical institutions, was reported to have married a young Muslim man after converting to Islam. Her father alleged that her conversion and marriage took place under coercion after abduction and he moved the high court for redress. The lady denies these allegations. She came to the court when her husband applied for bail before arrest.

The brother of Rinkal Kumari (18) says she was abducted by unknown persons, allegedly backed by an influential MNA. Her family had difficulty in filing an FIR. The next day she and the young man she was said to have married after conversion to Islam were presented in a court at Mirpur Mathelo, while her family had been told to go to a court in Ghotki. The family was not allowed to see her. It is said that she told the magistrate she wanted to go with her family but the latter reportedly expressed his inability to allow a Muslim girl to go to a non-Muslim house and sent her to a Darul Aman. Subsequently she is said to have modified her statement.

One suspects that these cases have provoked an unusual wave of protest because unlike the poor and voiceless victims in earlier cases of forced conversion-marriage affairs, the women now involved come of socially noteworthy families who have some access to electronic means of communication.

Several non-Muslim citizens have argued that these women have been, or are being, forced to accept conversion and marriage under threats of dire consequences to their families if they refuse to surrender.

The state of the common Hindu citizens’ mind is reflected in the e-mail Rinkal Kumari’s brother addressed to the chief justice of Pakistan (copied to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan). He says that Rinkal’s abductors have told her that “if she wants to save her parents’ life she should choose to convert [change] her religion and marry [an] unknown guy…. And yesterday [the] judge ordered that [the] girl wants to change her religion and want[s] to marry …Naveed…. [The] judge even didn’t allow [the] girl to meet … her parents or anybody from her family. There were 500-700 people in [the] courtroom all with guns and there was nobody from [the] girl’s family…. Now hundred[s] of people will take advantage of [the] 18-year-old girl and after that they will sell her to somebody”. Nobody with a reasonably sound heart will fail to be moved by the feelings of anguish and despair oozing from these words.

These cases raise several questions of a fundamental nature.

Continue reading I.A. Rehman on forced conversions – THE Hindu community, particularly in Sindh, has been in the grip of strong feelings of grief, anger and insecurity Unless its grievances are speedily addressed Pakistan stands to suffer incalculable harm in both material and moral terms

A U.S.-Pakistan Reset

A charismatic envoy’s sudden downfall is the chance for Washington to move from engagement with Islamabad to containment.

BY SADANAND DHUME

It’s not every day that an ambassador’s departure from office makes international headlines. But then Husain Haqqani, who resigned Tuesday after serving for more than three years as Pakistan’s envoy to Washington, was no garden-variety diplomat. He managed to be unapologetically pro-American, while representing one of the most anti-American places in the world.

The extraordinary circumstances of Mr. Haqqani’s departure reveal much about Pakistan’s precarious politics. He was forced to step down, reportedly under pressure from the country’s notorious intelligence agencies, amid unconfirmed allegations that he secretly sought U.S. assistance to weaken the grip of the military. His exit should …

Read more » The Wall Street Journal

MQM: a neo fascist organization

– By: Farooq Tariq

I started visiting Karachi in the mid-1990s after the Labor Party established a group there. Whenever I came to speak to a public meeting, comrades advised me to avoid verbal attacks on the MQM. “We have to live here” was the usual justification.

After the National Trade Union Federation was formed in 1998, I was one of the key speakers at the annual May Day rallies in Karachi. And whenever I ignored the advice and called the MQM a neo-fascist organization, I received maximum applause. It seemed that among the Karachi working class there was tremendous antagonism against the MQM, but not many were prepared to speak publically against this organization.

On 10th September 2011, speaking on GEO television, Mustafa Kamal, the former mayor of Karachi, responded to the criticism of some who talked to Hamid Mir by commenting, in coded language, of retaliation against those who dare to be critical. He falsely compared Bangladesh’s struggle for independence struggle with the situation of Karachi. One was a struggle by an exploited nationality against the atrocious treatment of the West Pakistan civilian and military establishment while in Karachi today there is a struggle to break the shackles of the neo-fascists, who have attempted to strangle working people for over three decades.

I distinctly remember 12 May 2007, when I was going to speak at a peasant rally in Punjab. I received several calls from Karachi, one from Azra Perveen, a female activist of the Labour Party. She had been part of a group organized by LPP to go to a rally at the airport and welcome the chief justice. Shots rang out while buses were still arriving. The main victims were ANP activists, whose bus had to stop and let the passengers rush to find safe places. Azra, whose white dress was drenched in blood, was forced to hide behind a pole as she tried to help the wounded.

I tried to contact Eidhi, the BBC and other media to aid activists encircled by MQM thugs. Earlier in the morning, I was informed that all the transport arranged by LPP had been withdrawn on the instructions of the MQM. No one was willing to risk their transport. In fact the previous day, even commercial painters refused to prepare the LPP banners because of the fear of retaliation by MQM. Nevertheless brave activists of the LPP, ANP and some other parties attempted to get the airport. They found containers blocking the roads and were fired on at several places.

On 10th September 2011 night, I was very angry to hear Mustafa Kamal denying that the MQM played a role in shedding blood in May 2007. Earlier in the press conference from his exile cage, Altaf Hussain, the “leader” accepted the MQM the “negligence” by the local chapter of MQM. And what a negligence, over 50 were killed, chief justice was unable to come out from the airport, all the main roads were blocked by the heavy containers and so on. This was an act of fascism. MQM believes in fascist philosophy that means the physical elimination of political opponents.

It was no accident that when Benazir Bhutto visited our bookstall in Lahore in 1992, she bought all fifty copies of a bookletFASCISM What It Is and How To Fight It.” The booklet was written by Leon Trotsky and translated in Urdu by Dr. Khalid Javed Jan. Benazir Bhutto must have felt the need to arm the activists of PPP with this booklet. And what a historical paradox that her husband Asif Ali Zardari is trying his best to go along with this terrorist organization instead of fighting it in an effort to win a “peace” in Karachi and other cities of Sindh.

You cannot have peace by compromising with the fascists. That is a lesson evident from studying the political history of the fascism. All the social democrats and even the communists who tried to compromise with Hitler, Mussolini, and Franc, the fascist leaders of Germany, Italy and Spain, became their victims. Fascists are not democrats. They do not believe in democracy. For them democracy is just an opportunity to spread their influence.

What is fascism? It is a system of government characterized by rigid one-party dictatorship, forcible suppression of the opposition, private economic enterprise under centralized governmental control, belligerent nationalism, racism, and militarism. It is a mass movement, with its leaders employing a great deal of socialist demagogy. Its base is the petty bourgeoisie, the middle class.

The capital of Sindh, Karachi has been in the grip of a one-party dictatorship for long time. The MQM talks of revolution, instead of Socialist demagogy. It has always had close links with the military establishment; they always make efforts to smooth over any differences. The MQM gave full support to General Musharaf.

MQM has always used the race issue to unite the groups around it. Racism may be defined as the hatred of one person or group by another because of skin, color, language, customs, place of birth or any other factor. This reveals the belief that one is less than human establishes an unequal power relationship that is perpetuated through wars, slavery, the formation of nations, and legal codes.

In order to popularize its message, the MQM propagated the “discriminated” attitude of the Sindhis, Punjabis, Pushtoons and Baluchs against Urdu-speaking migrants. It uses the racist card to divide the working class in Karachi, the main industrial city of Sindh, Pakistan. MQM members make jokes about the native Balucies and Sindhies, revealing a contemptuous attitude that these people are not “civilized” enough to be equal to other people.

When journalist Hamid Mir asked a question Hyder Abbas Rizvi, a MQM representative of MQM, why the party pressurized the AAJ television channel to sack Nusarat Javed, one of the channel’s main anchor people who was sacked during a programme when he was criticizing MQM fascist tactics, , he responded by denying the charges, stating that no one from MQM called the AAJ owners. That may be so, but the sheer fear of MQM retaliation might have forced the owners to sack this reputed journalist.

What had Nusrat Javed said? He simply reacted to the three-hour press conference by Altaf Hussain, the chief of MQM by stating the whole nation was kept hostage for five hours. Yet the MQM representative slyly remarked that the MQM did not force the media to broad the entire conference but only gave out a press release announcing the conference. Yet it is the fear of retaliation by MQM that forced all the media to carry the entire the press conference live for over 5 hours.

Recent developments have forced the neo-fascist MQM retreat from their ambitious plan to expand nationally. All their sloganeering against feudalism is rolled back to their original political stand that to maintain their base among the Muhajirs, taking refuge in Karachi.

The case of the MQM exposes the failure of Pakistani state to address the question of racism and fascism. In fact, the Pakistani state is deeply rooted in religious bigotry and racist superiority where some nationalities are dominant and others are oppressed. It has tried to impose the Urdu language on the Bengalis as early as 1948. Sindhies have had to wage a struggle for their linguistic rights. The emergence of the MQM in the mid-1980, with the help of the military dictator General Zia Ul Haq was mainly based on the supposed superiority of the Urdu language. Different institutions of the state played vital role in bringing this monster up in the air and the MQM has very cleverly used this attitude against all other local, indigenous and other languages.

Today the MQM-PPP alliance reveals a crisis of bourgeoisie democracy. The PPP government is facing one of the most real crises it has faced so far during the three and half year of power. It is both the crisis of the system and the leadership. The so-called clever, smart, witty, intelligent, gifted and chic leadership of Asif Ali Zaradari has to confront one of his most trusted handpicked Zulfiqar Mirza. The crisis has weakened the grip of PPP leadership from its own apparatus. It has weakened their basis in Sindh. That is a result of their policies of conciliations with the neo-fascists MQM. You can never gain by allying with your own enemies.

The working class must not have any illusions in Zulfiqar Mirza’s fight against the fascists. He wants to reap the anger of the working people of Sindh against MQM and put it back to PPP or to the military establishment but he cannot wage a serious fight against the fascists.

What is the way forward? It is revealed in the current struggle of the workers at Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) for jobs and against privatization. Here we see the MQM and the PPP united to crush the heroic struggle of the KESC trade union with state repression. We must support this struggle and demand an immediate release of the workers, organizing strike support actions. Building the working-class movement in Karachi is the answer to the present crisis.

It is with the present political scenario that the forces of the Left can expose the real nature of the neo-fascist forces and the danger it presents for the working class in Pakistan. At different times religious fundamentalists or the neo-fascist MQM have been promoted by state institutions and bourgeoisie in order to divide and conquer and thus maintain rotten capitalism. Both, along their master, deserve rejection by the working people of Pakistan.

About the writer – Farooq Tariq is spokesperson of the Labour Party Pakistan

Courtesy: → SocialistPakistan, September 12, 2011

via → Indus Herald

Pakistan after bin Laden

Humiliation of the military men

Civilian leaders and the United States put pressure on the beleaguered generals

AMERICA’S killing of Osama bin Laden on May 2nd brought with it a rare chance to ease the Pakistani army’s unhealthy grip on the country’s domestic and foreign affairs. The generals have floundered since the raid in Abbottabad, unsettled by accusations of complicity with bin Laden or, if not, then incompetence. It has not helped that video clips show bin Laden apparently active as al-Qaeda’s leader in his last years.

Pakistanis cannot agree what is more shocking, that bin Laden had skulked in a military town so close to the capital, Islamabad, or that Americans nipped in to kill him without meeting the least resistance. Either way, they know to blame the humiliated men in uniform. Columnists and bloggers even call for army bosses to fall on their swagger sticks.

Ashfaq Kayani, the now sullen-faced head of the armed forces, and his more exposed underling, Ahmad Shuja Pasha, who runs the main military spy outfit, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI), are unused to such cheek. Their spokesmen have fumbled to come up with a consistent line. They have claimed both that Pakistan abhorred America’s attack and helped to bring it about. Army inaction on the night was because someone forgot to turn on the radar, or because it only worked pointing east at India. And General Pasha would, and then certainly would not, fly to America to smooth things over.

That disarray gave elected leaders a chance. Neither President Asif Zardari nor Yusuf Raza Gilani, the prime minister, deludes himself that he is really in charge. Nor do outsiders. Just after they had killed bin Laden, the Americans first telephoned General Kayani, not the president. In the past year both Generals Kayani and Pasha have had their spells in office extended beyond their usual terms, without a squeak from the brow-beaten civilians.

The armed forces scoop up roughly a quarter of all public spending and large dollops of aid, with no proper oversight, says Ayesha Siddiqa, a defence analyst. They also run big firms, employ over 500,000, grab prime land for retired officers, set foreign and counterterrorism policies and scotch peace overtures to India. They are racing to expand a nuclear arsenal beyond 100 warheads—Pakistan will soon be the world’s fifth-biggest nuclear power and has been a chief proliferator.

Civilian silence thus spoke volumes. Rather than try to defend the army, both elected leaders found pressing needs to be out-of-town. …

Read more : The Economist

Fighting Nears Tripoli, Where Qaddafi Keeps Grip on Power

By KAREEM FAHIM and DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK

TOBRUK, Libya — Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya kept his grip on the capital, Tripoli, on Wednesday, but large areas of the east remained out of his control as the uprising against his 40-year rule spread to more cities.

Libyans fleeing across the country’s western border into Tunisia reported fighting over the past two nights between rebel and pro-government forces in the town of Sabratha, home of an important Roman archeological site 50 miles west of Tripoli. Thousands of Libyan forces loyal to Colonel Qaddafi have deployed there, according to Reuters.

“The revolutionary committees are trying to kill everyone who is against Qaddafi,” said a doctor from Sabratha who had just left the country, but who declined to give his name because he wanted to return. …

Read more : The New York  Times

What uprisings give rise to – Dr Manzur Ejaz

The Egyptian army is no different than its counterparts in the developing countries. After a peace treaty with Israel, the Egyptian army’s sole function was to maintain a corrupt and unjust economic system in which a small section of society owned most of the national wealth. As time goes by, the Egyptian military’s obstructive role will become clearer

Many Pakistanis have been wistfully looking towards the Tahrir Square uprising and questioning why the same cannot be done in Pakistan. These uprisings have happened many times in Pakistan, whereby army dictators were forced out of power by popular movements of one kind or the other. However, the people did not experience any improvement in their living conditions or even civil liberties during democratic periods. By now they are disillusioned and do not know against whom they should rise.

The Ayub Khan era was not as long as Hosni Mubarak’s but the democratic rights in Egypt were almost the same as those in Pakistan of that time. Ayub Khan was secular and an enemy of the Jamaat-e-Islami like Hosni Mubarak was against the Muslim Brotherhood. Up until 1967, Ayub Khan had such a strong grip on Pakistan that it appeared as if his family would rule for generations just like a few months back, Hosni Mubarak’s son seemed all prepared to take over Egypt by the next elections. However, a small incident in Rawalpindi Polytechnic Institute, in which some students were killed, triggered such a popular movement that Ayub Khan was out in a few months. In a way that incident was not unique because the then Governor of West Pakistan, Amir Mohammad Khan, the Nawab of Kalabagh, was notorious for his repressive techniques. However, the masses were fed up with Ayub Khan’s rule and a mammoth movement was born in both parts of the country. Sheikh Mujibur Rehman and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto became the leading forces in East and West Pakistan respectively.

The people who had seen massive crowds on both sides of the GT Road, from Rawalpindi to Multan — making a human chain of hundreds of miles — would agree that the scene was not any less impressive than what we have seen in Tahrir Square in the last few weeks. Just like in the Egyptian uprising, the political environment was so tolerant and non-discriminatory that several Ahmedis were elected to the provincial and national assemblies. In short, what we are seeing in Egypt now did happen in Pakistan some 40 years back.

Now, if we skip the details of the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) against Ziaul Haq, which brought back the PPP and PML-N, and jump to the 2007 movement for an independent judiciary, we see another Tahrir Square-style uprising. Once again, the people turned the GT Road into a Tahrir Square as Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s motorcade made its way to Faisalabad/Lahore from Rawalpindi in 24 hours. Once again, the people’s movement forced General Musharraf to quit power and run away from the country. But what did people get from the democracy they struggled for so many times?

In a way, the Egyptian uprising for democracy was not as mature as Pakistani democratic movements. …

Read more : Wichaar

Clerics on the march

by Ayaz Amir

If the Pakistani establishment continues to see India as the enemy, keeps pouring money into an arms race it cannot afford, is afflicted by delusions of grandeur relative to Afghanistan, and remains unmindful of the economic disaster into which the country is fast slipping, we will never get a grip on the challenges we face.

This is not about blasphemy or the honour of the Holy Prophet. This is now all about politics, about the forces of the clergy, routed in the last elections, discovering a cause on whose bandwagon they have mounted with a vengeance. …

Read more : The News

What is behind demonstrations against Pope Benedict?

by Dr. Manzur Ejaz

Watch how Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) and its follower religious parties use Pope Benedict’s statement in which he asked for change in blasphemy law. JI hheld demonstrations against it today and Tahreek Namoos Rasalat (TNR) has asked for a country wide strike against it. This is is just an effort of continuation of mullahs to keep their grip on ideological discourse and terrorize its oppenents. One should watch its developments.

Pope Benedict is The Leader of the Christians. His duty is to seek protection for his followers every where in the world. What else could he say on what has been happening in Pakistan? He is not a leader of any superpower or has political means to pressure Pakistan or intefere in its affairs. His size may be huge but he is just like Mullah Munwwar Hasan, Fazalur Rehman et ell.

But on the positive side he has not asked his followers in Christian world to do mob killing of minority Muslims. He has just issued a statement which can be ignored by Pakistan or its citizens. But, the issue is Ji’s concerted campaign to increase religious extremism in Pakistan to provide cover for Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Pope Benedict statement is just being used in this context.

In such a situation liberal and enlightened Pakistanis get confused. They also start blaming the outsiders for instigating the Pakistanis. What they do not understand is that JI and its followers do not need outside instigation. They can always cook up something to keep them going.

Pope and the rest of the world has their own obligations and one cannot stop them from issuing statements. We would condemn the Pope and others if they incite Christians against Muslims like JI and other religious parties are doing. Other than that we should know that JI and its extensions are going to use one excusde or the other to assert their agenda of Mullah Shahi and dictatorship.

Courtesy: http://www.wichaar.com/news/285/ARTICLE/23570/2011-01-11.html

Salman Taseer’s murder will become a pretext to topple the democratically elected PPP government!

Pakistani governor Salman Taseer’s assassination signals tightening grip of Islamist extremism

By Karin Brulliard
KARACHI, PAKISTAN – The tightening grip of Islamist extremism in Pakistan was violently highlighted Tuesday with the assassination of one of the nation’s most outwardly progressive politicians by his own police guard, who told investigators he was incensed by his boss’s stance against a controversial anti-blasphemy law.
Read more : Washington Post