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A ray of hope? or Akhtar Jan Mengal’s capitulation?

A ray of hope? — Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

There is no denying that Sardar Akhtar Mengal has influence but his capitulation has alienated many Baloch people and his powerbase will erode rapidly

Sardar Akhtar Mengal’s unexpected capitulation and appearance before the Supreme Court (SC) has pleased a few but angered a majority of the Baloch. He has climbed down from his position of demanding an independent Balochistan. In the Daily Times of May 8, 2009, its then Quetta correspondent Malik Siraj Akbar reported Akhtar Mengal’s speech from the western Panjgur district bordering Iran. Mengal said that the ultimate goal of his party (BNP-M) was to seek Balochistan’s independence from Pakistan, for which the party was striving to prepare the ground and ensure unity among all Baloch nationalist political groups. The BNP-M chief said the Baloch had become tired of the unabated military operations and the excessive exploitation of their natural resources by the federal government, and now the BNP-M wanted the separation of Balochistan from Pakistan. Such climbdowns certainly have good reasons, the good reason here being a shot at the lucrative chief ministerial post. A bad bargain for sure, because Baloch rights would be bartered for a pittance. Wading through Baloch blood to this coveted position is insincerity personified.

Mengal’s six points, not akin to Sheikh Mujib’s six points, are certainly not the demands that the Baloch have fought and shed blood for, but are his spin on his capitulation in preparation for participation in the elections in the hope to once again adorn the post of chief minister that the Baloch label the ‘Cheap Minister’ seat. He has called for measures for the alleviation of symptoms but, unfortunately, has conveniently forgotten the disease that caused these symptoms in the first place. He has forsaken the Baloch sacrifices on the altar of uncertain personal gains and has tried to sabotage the Baloch demand for their inalienable rights. His submission to the wishes of the Pakistani state and going along with the SC charade of recovering the missing persons will simply lend legitimacy to all the past, present and future atrocities and excesses against the Baloch. He has thrown in his lot with the very establishment directly responsible for the disappearance of his brother, Asadullah Mengal, and Ahmed Shah in 1976.

Continue reading A ray of hope? or Akhtar Jan Mengal’s capitulation?

Paknationalist Sufis

By: Omar

One regularly hears about the “moderate” sufis who will save islam or Pakistan (and who therefore deserve a quick injection of money…see how much Tahir ul Qadri is making via this route). But Sufi-ism is not a well defined ideology, anyone can be a sufi and almost everyone IS a sufi of some sort in Pakistan. Some innocents see positive implications of such confusion in the wider Islamicate world, thinking that this will weaken the Wahabi-Salafi vision of one folk, one leader, one law that seems so scary these days, though I dont see empirical proof of such assertions.  Anyway, that was not the topic I had in mind. I just wanted to post this link to “spiritual Pakistan”..a fairly typical and representative “Sufi Paknationalist” website. They are promoting “Ghazwa e Hind” (the weak hadith that supposedly promises a huge war in India, and victory and eternal reward for those Muslims who fight to conquer India) and they are much more ardent about it than the “evidence-based” Deobandis, who do have some standards and hesitate to make-up stuff on demand like the Sufis (“the sufis” meaning some sufis…keep in mind, there is no such things as “standards” when it comes to Sufis….an indophile like me is a sufi, a jihadi nutcase like Zaid Hamid is a sufi, Orya Maqbool Jan is a sufi. Its a free for all…its not better or worse, its whatever you want).

And if anything, “the sufis” promote blasphemy prosecutions more than salafists. Of course, many famous sufis also died for supposedly blaspheming something. Which is my point. Sufi can mean anything. Not just the hippie Islam that twinkles in so many Western eyes. ….

Read more » Brown Pundits

Sindh’s Stolen Brides

On the other side of the Thar, Hindus, especially girls, are forced into Islam

By Mariana Baabar

Hindus In Pakistan

Hindus constitute about 2.5 per cent, or 26 lakh, of Pakistan’s population.

Though sprinkled all over Pakistan, 95 per cent of Hindus are in Sindh.

Only Tharparkar district in Sindh has Hindus in majority: 51 per cent.

Other districts with sizeable population: Mirpur Khas (41 per cent), Sanghar (35 per cent), Umerkot (43 per cent)

Nearly 82 per cent of Pakistani Hindus are lower caste, most of them farm labourers

Cities with some Hindu population: Karachi, Hyderabad, Jacobabad, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta.

In Tharparkar, Hindus own land. Krishen Bheel, Gyan Chand and Ramesh Lal are the Hindus in the Pakistan National Assembly.

***

Let me confess at the outset: I’m travelling in rural Sindh to verify specifically the reported widespread menace of abduction of Hindu girls, their forcible conversion to Islam and betrothal to Muslim men. My first port of call is the district court of Mirpur Khas. I promptly mingle among the crowd waiting for the court’s decision on a kidnap-and-conversion case. Different voices narrate contradictory stories. I am befuddled for the moment.

Soon, a frisson of excitement sweeps through the throng, as a police van drives through the gate. Inside it is Mariam. She’s 13 years old—and married! Mariam was Mashu, and Hindu, till the night of December 22, 2005. I pick my way through the jostling crowd. Mariam is in a red burqa, her gold nose ring sparkles. She tells me, “I’m happy. I don’t want to return to my parents or brother.” What’s the fuss about, I wonder.

It’s quite another story under the pipal tree of the court compound. Huddled under it are the villagers of Jhaluree, 20 km from Mirpur Khas. Among them is Mashu’s father, Malo Sanafravo. He says that at 11 pm, December 22, four armed men barged into their room. One of them was Malo’s neighbour, Akbar. They picked up Mashu, bundled her into the waiting car. “She was taken to Pir Ayub Jan Sarhandi’s village in Saamaaro tehsil.” There Mashu became Mariam and was married to Akbar.

Not true, insists husband Akbar. “Mariam has been always in my heart,” he gushes, saying, at 11 pm, December 22, it was she who had come over to his house. But it’s true that the Pir converted her and married them—it was his idea that they issue statements in the court. “Mariam was sent to Darul Aman in Hyderabad, in judicial custody,” Akbar declares.

A 13-year-old choosing to convert and marry? A 13-year-old testifying in the court, without her family by her side? Suspicious, I walk over to the SHO, caught in the middle of a heated exchange between two groups. Someone suggests he should allow the girl to meet her relatives. Before the conversion yes, not now. She has now become Muslim, says the SHO. He argues, “There’s a huge crowd here. If Mariam breaks down after seeing her father, there will be a communal riot here in the compound.”

A little later, there are celebrations as the word spreads: the court has allowed the couple to live together. Standing next to me is Kanjee Rano Bheel. He works for an NGO in the education sector; volunteers for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) as well. “In just two hours Mashu was converted and married,” Kanjee says incredulously.

Disappointment and helpless rage fleet across his face. “In Darul Aman the girls are kept away from parents and pressured into issuing statements favourable to the abductors. They tame stubborn girls through death threats.”

So, was Mashu abducted and forcibly converted?

In Mirpur Khas, truth resembles the mirage of the surrounding Thar desert, teasing and tormenting me as I drive from Karachi into interior Sindh. It tests your credulity, it challenges your journalistic skills. Wherever I go, and whoever I meet, in disconsolate voices the Hindus talk about ‘missing girls’; their stories resemble Mashu’s—the theme of abduction, conversion, often followed by marriage, is common to most narrations. The girls then appear in courts to issue statements declaring their conversion was voluntary. All links to the natal family and the community are severed; they are lost to the family forever. On January 4, 2005, Marvi, 18, and Hemi, 16, were kidnapped from Kunri village in Umerkot district; three months later, on March 3, 14-year-old Raji was abducted from Aslam Town Jhuddo, Mirpur Khas. The script in their cases was similar to Mashu’s. “Only 10 per cent of all conversions involving girls are voluntary; because of romance,” says Kanjee.

Ten per cent of what? No official figures are available. The DIG in Mirpur Khas, Saleemullah, says, “If there’s need I’ll collect these figures.

Saleemullah, perhaps, should tap the HRCP for statistics. Its director in Lahore, I.A. Rehman, is an honourable man. Rehman told Outlook that the HRCP has, between Jan 2000 to Dec 2005, documented 50 cases involving conversion of Hindu girls to Islam. Its investigations too endorse what I had found in interior Sindh. In many cases where it was claimed the girls had eloped with their Muslim partners, the HRCP found that most were, in fact, abducted, forcibly married to Muslim men or sold to them. There have been cases of Hindu girls, usually from economically better off families, eloping with their Muslim boyfriends. Rehman says in most cases such marriages didn’t last long. With links to their families cut off, the girls were subsequently forced to marry another Muslim or sucked into marriage rackets.

Nuzzhat Shirin, who works for the Lahore-based ngp Aurat Foundation, understands why the girls don’t reveal their plight at the time they are presented in court. “When a Hindu is forced to become Muslim, such a ruckus is made that if the young kidnapped girl appears in court, the fanatics yell, scream, throw rose petals in the air and follow the youth into the building so that she’s intimidated and can’t speak,” Shirin explains.

Social stigma arising from the loss of virginity, and the consequent difficulty of finding a groom, prompt these women to accept their misfortune—and hope for the best.

Fifty incidents in five years represents just a percentage of the total number of cases, says Kanjee, pointing out that a majority of such crimes go unreported. “There have been 50 such incidents last year,” insists Krishen Bheel, who is a Hindu member of the National Assembly (MNA), the Pakistani equivalent of the Lok Sabha. He begins to rattle out the cases he remembers: two months back Sapna was kidnapped and converted in upper Sindh; seven months earlier it was 17-year-old Lakshmi in Nawkot, and then…. “The trend is increasing,” he says. “If these conversions are voluntary, then how come boys rarely ever convert?”

Only once did the popular resentment against abduction spill out in the streets of Mirpur Khas. It was in the ’80s: a girl named Sita had been kidnapped. Some 70,000 Hindus turned up to protest the kidnapping. The police opened fire, killing several. “Sita was never returned,” Krishen laments. “She had even told Justice Dhorab Patel, who later joined the HRCP, that she had been forcibly converted. We have now stopped agitating.”

Instead, the Hindus take the support of civil rights groups and the media to publicise abduction cases, hoping public scrutiny would goad the state into action.

On Dec 30, the day after the Mariam case was disposed, the Supreme Court took cognisance of the complaint Qosheela’s parents from Ghotki, Sindh, had filed. They claimed their 13-year-old girl had been kidnapped, converted, given the name of Hajra and married to a Muslim man. The girl, as in most other cases, had said she had converted of her own free will. A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, ordered the medical examination of the girl to determine whether she had attained puberty (Islam permits marriage at that age). Should it be proved otherwise, the husband could be tried for rape.

Even cities are not immune to the menace. Last year, Sammo Amra and Champa in Karachi received a letter from their three missing daughters—Reena (21), Reema (17) and Usha (19)—informing that they had converted to Islam and were ordained under the dictates of their new religion not to live with infidels, including their Hindu parents. The letter bore the address of Madrassa Taleemul Islam, Karachi. It prompted Supreme Court Bar Association president Malik Mohammad Qayyum to petition the Supreme Court in the first week of December. He accused the religious seminary’s administrator of using coercive methods to convert the three girls. On December 16, the court ordered the police to shift the girls to the Edhi Welfare Centre and provide protection to them until the time it was ascertained they had been indeed compelled to convert to Islam.

Sensitive Muslim citizens feel the way to counter the menace is to reinterpret and widen the scope of law.

Major (retd) Kamran Shafi, an absentee landlord from Sindh, cites the case of 17-year-old Kochlia, who was kidnapped and gangraped in Jacobabad, Sindh, in Sept 2005. Four men were arrested for the crime. They were subsequently released because Kochlia stated in the court she had converted and was married to one of them. Shafi asks, “Isn’t something very, very wrong here? Suppose the poor girl was forced into changing her religion and marrying one of the assailants so that they get off the hook? Can’t the state prosecute the four on its own, for their original crime of rape?”

The three Hindu MNAs—Krishen Bheel, Gyan Chand and Ramesh Lal—raised the Kochlia case in the National Assembly. They claimed Kochlia’s statement was not tenable as under the local Hindu custom and law a girl can’t marry of her own will until the age of 20. Since Kochlia is a minor, her abductors should be tried for rape. Such an interpretation of existing laws could provide ample relief to Hindus.

Till then, though, the fear of kidnap stalks the Hindus of Pakistan. Krishen Bheel says Hindu girls are scared to go out; he has enrolled his own children into a Christian school. He points to Mirpur Khas’ strange predicament: there’s freedom to worship, there are 10 temples which bustle through the day with devotees; and yet Hindu girls here are kidnapped and converted—and the community humiliated.

Perhaps these abductions are part of the general scenario of crime against women in rural Pakistan (see box). Perhaps they are converted and married to criminals to enable the latter to escape the dragnet of the law. Yet, such arguments don’t comfort the Hindus. Sat Ram, of Shadi Bali village near Mirpur Khas, says Hindu girls are deprived of education because their parents are apprehensive of sending them to schools located at a distance. “They receive education only till the primary level. It isn’t safe to send them to school after that.”

But the plight of Hindu women can’t be seen just through the prism of gender discrimination rampant in rural Sindh. Reena Gul, of Sattar Nagar village, Mirpur Khas, says the boys too are converted but their numbers are very few. The community here feels it is the Islamist’s agenda to drive out non-Muslims from Pakistan. In fact, Krishen told the National Assembly that even Hindu businessmen are being kidnapped in Sindh for ransom. He said on the floor of the House, “Several religious parties are reportedly behind the move to convince the people that it is their responsibility to get rid of infidels from Pakistan, (that) taking ransom from non-Muslims is not a sin.”

I now set out to meet Pir Ayub Jan Sarhandi, whose name surfaces repeatedly in conversion stories. The drive from Mirpur Khas to Sarhandi village, Somarho tehsil, is through a picturesque landscape. Peacocks dance in the field and gypsies pitch their tents for the night. Even the Pir appears tranquil, his white flowing beard and winsome disposition camouflaging his mission.

Yet, when he begins to talk, he conceals nothing. Yes, the Pir declares, he has been converting the Hindus for the last 30 years. Perhaps his claims of converting a 1,000 families a year is a boast. “There’s a surah in the Quran which speaks specifically about conversion, especially about conversion of women,” he says to justify his mission. “Recently, three Hindu girls were brought to me. I named them Benazir, Sanam and Nusrat,” he reveals, with the righteous air of someone who had bestowed a favour. “These Hindu women are mistreated by their husbands who do nothing but watch TV.”

The Pir rubbishes the allegation that he converts abducted Hindu girls. The unwilling are sent back. Yet, he adds in the same breath, “In many cases Hindu girls are kidnapped and kept as keeps. But these keeps are not converted. But believe me, they are very happy.”

I express the desire to meet the women whom he had converted and found sanctuary with him. The Pir agrees, even allows us to photograph them, contrary to the local tradition. Into the room, the women walk. Rehana, 50, was earlier Nabee; she converted three years ago, after the death of her husband. “I had no one to turn to. If we do not convert we would not be helped by this family.” It was the same reason for 35-year-old Mariam, who came here seven years back. “Under the Pir’s protection, I earn at least Rs 200 a month.” Ruksana was earlier Chotee, and hails from Umerkot. Extreme poverty and a drug-addict husband persuaded her to take the extreme step. “I brought my four kids as well,” she declares.

As I talk to these women, I realise most of them are widows or wallowing in poverty. I mention this to the Pir. He says, “The government is responsible for all Hindus and non-Hindus. When the government doesn’t help them, they come to us.”

Forced or economically enticed, the Hindu converts do not symbolise Islam’s appeal. Rather they represent the state’s failure to provide succour to the poor and protect their religious rights. Perhaps it’s also symptomatic of the sickness afflicting the Pakistani state. As they say, the condition of the minorities is an indicator of a nation’s health.

Courtesy: OutLook

http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?229886#.T3IYtTDwlfl.twitter

Via – Twitter

The Death of Stalinism in Bohemia

Jan Švankmajer born 4th September 1934 is a Czech surrealist artist and filmmaker. His work spans several media. He is known for his surreal animations and features, which have greatly influenced other artists such as Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam, the Brothers Quay, and many others.

» YouTube

Bashir Jan Revealing Shocking Information About Karachi terrorists

YouTube

Dedicated to Salman Taseer

by Dr. Khalid Javaid Jan.

Mazhab kay jo byopari hein,

Woh sab se bari beemari hein.

Woh jin kay siwa sab kaafir hein,

Jo deen ka harf-e-akhir hein.

In jhootay aur makkaron say,

Mazhab kay theke-daron say,

Mein baaghi hoon mai baaghi hoon.

Jo Chahe mujh per Zulm Karo

= – = – = – = – =

Benazir Bhutto used to recite this poem. CLICK HERE to listen her recitation of the poem!

Aziz Jan: A dynamic Sindhi journalist

Profile of a departed journalists

– Desk report

It was mid night of April 3 and 4, 2009 that Aziz Jan Baloch died due to a fatal accident on Hyderabad-Karachi Super Highway. He was in his 30s. Aziz Jan was Senior News producer to an upcoming news channel “Awaz TV”.

Aziz, a very loving, caring and always in happy and pleasant mood is missed by everyone who worked with him. His close friends cherished his company, he was an easy going person.

Aziz’s true professional life had began afterwards, he had moved from Sanghar to Hyderabad and then to Karachi to seek an career in Journalism.

He was news caster for PTV and latter was associated with KTN, as narrated by Jami.

He was an ambitious person, sky was limit to him, he left KTN and joined City News, a local channel owned by ARY One World group, he rejoined KTN but again when Sindh TV was launched he joined it as news caster.

His voice was clear and loud, the way he used to read news stories people liked it very much, he became a model news caster and popular. He also hosted some talks shows on current affairs. He was deeply involved and interested in the currents of politics. That actually made him not only news caster but someone who would think independently and decide with regarding to planning the news bulletin, seeking telephonic interviews of top leaders, he interacted from top Baloch politicians to Kashmiri leaders. He had earned a say and was known in the political circles, MQM leader Altaf Hussain would know him with his name. When he launched his second book based on articles in Karachi’s Mehran Hotel, PML Q leader Syed Mushahid Hussain was to be the chief guest of the program. He would not shy away using his media contacts to establish that he is a well-connected person. True he was very resourceful person, he was like a directory of contacts, and that is actually works a lot in journalism.

Due to his ambitious aims, he would keep make entries and exists from Channels knowing his worth. He left twice Sindh TV and rejoined it and latter on eventually left it and started working on a new project the “Awaz TV”, owned by a noted Sindhi businessmen Sikandar Jatoi. “Awaz TV” is in pipe line, experienced Sindhi folks of electronic journalism was working to launch it. Aziz, Altaf Memon, Maheen Hisbani and Zariyab Khaskheli, to name few people were working for launching this new channel.

Aziz was very happy that he finally would be working freely in a channel which would be free from control of owners. Though funded by a businessmen but this channel is largely seen as franchise of journalists.

Aziz Jan was enjoying working in Awaz, he had both freedom to work and better remuneration package. He had reached to place which was striving for and dream for, but life did not give him chance to live a dreamed life. It’s a loss not only of his family (two wives and few children) but of Sindhi electronic media, he had emerged a well-trained and professional media guy.

Lala Qadir, district reporter of Sindh TV wrote “All is lost with his death”. It was not time for him to die, it was time to grow and make achievements in life and let society know what its youth has to offer.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009