Tag Archives: mourning

Nation in mourning after suicide blast in Lahore kills 72, including 29 children

By Rana Tanveer / Agencies / Muhammad Shahzad / Ali Usman / Abdul Manan / Tahir Khan

LAHORE / ISLAMABAD: At least 72 people were killed and more than 233 injured when a suicide bomb ripped through the parking space of a crowded park in Lahore where Christians were celebrating Easter Sunday, officials said.

Dozens of ambulances were seen racing to the Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, situated near Allama Iqbal Town, with many women and children among the dead and wounded.

Read more » The Express Tribune
See more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/1073825/blast-in-lahore-leaves-several-injured/

Three Sindhi Hindu doctors gunned down on Eid, Sindh observes mourning

Three Hindu doctors gunned down on Eid, Sindh observes mourning

By AFP / Express

Excerpt;

…. Sindh observes 3-day mourning

A three-day mourning is being observed in Sukkur and adjoining areas against the murder of three Hindu doctors in Shikarpur district, reported Express 24/7 on Tuesday.

Following the incident, the SHO of Chak police station was suspended while the head constable was arrested on the directives of SP Shikarpur Junaid Shaikh.

Ten people were also arrested in different raids on the directives of President Asif Ali Zardari and Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Wassan; however, no case has been registered so far. ….

Read more » The Express Tribune

Dying to Tell the Story

By UMAR CHEEMA

Islamabad, Pakistan: WE have buried another journalist. Syed Saleem Shahzad, an investigative reporter for Asia Times Online, has paid the ultimate price for telling truths that the authorities didn’t want people to hear. He disappeared a few days after writing an article alleging that Al Qaeda elements had penetrated Pakistan’s navy and that a military crackdown on them had precipitated the May 22 terrorist attack on a Karachi naval base. His death has left Pakistani journalists shaken and filled with despair.

I couldn’t sleep the night that Saleem’s death was confirmed. The fact that he was tortured sent me back to a chilly night last September, when I was abducted by government agents. During Saleem’s funeral service, a thought kept haunting me: “It could have been me.”

Mourning journalists lined up after the service to console me, saying I was lucky to get a lease on life that Saleem was denied. But luck is a relative term.

Adil, my 2-year-old son, was the first person in my thoughts after I was abducted. Journalists in Pakistan don’t have any institutionalized social security system; those killed in the line of duty leave their families at the mercy of a weak economy.

When my attackers came, impersonating policemen arresting me on a fabricated charge of murder, I felt helpless. My mouth muzzled and hands cuffed, I couldn’t inform anybody of my whereabouts, not even the friends I’d dropped off just 15 minutes before. My cellphone was taken away and switched off. Despite the many threats I’d received, I never expected this to happen to me.

Sure, I had written many stories exposing the corrupt practices of high-ranking officials and pieces criticizing the army and the intelligence agencies. After they were published, Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s prime security agency, always contacted me. I was first advised not to write too much about them and later sent messages laced with subtle threats. But I never imagined action was imminent.

On Sept. 4, I was driven to an abandoned house instead of a police station, where I was stripped naked and tortured with a whip and a wooden rod. While a man flogged me, I asked what crime had brought me this punishment. Another man told me: “Your reporting has upset the government.” It was not a crime, and therefore I did not apologize.

Instead, I kept praying, “Oh God, why am I being punished?” The answer came from the ringleader: “If you can’t avoid rape, enjoy it.” He would employ abusive language whenever he addressed me.

“Have you ever been tortured before?” he asked.

“No,” I said.

“These marks will stay with you forever, offering you a reminder never to defy the authorities,” he replied.

They tortured me for 25 minutes, shaved my head, eyebrows and moustache and then filmed and photographed my naked body. I was dumped nearly 100 miles outside Islamabad with a warning not to speak up or face the consequences.

The following months were dreadful. I suffered from a sleep disorder. I would wake up fearing that someone was beating my back. I wouldn’t go jogging, afraid that somebody would pick me up again and I’d never return. Self-imposed house arrest is the life I live today; I don’t go outside unless I have serious business. I have been chased a number of times after the incident. Now my son asks me questions about my attackers that I don’t answer. I don’t want to sow the seeds of hatred in his heart.

When Saleem disappeared, I wondered if he had been thinking about his children, as I had. He had left Karachi, his hometown, after receiving death threats, and settled with his wife and three children in Islamabad. From there, he often went on reporting trips to the tribal areas along the Afghan border. Tahir Ali, a mutual friend, would ask him: “Don’t you feel scared in the tribal areas?” Saleem would smile and say: “Death could come even in Islamabad.” His words were chilling, and prescient.

The killing of Syed Saleem Shahzad is yet another terrifying reminder to Pakistani journalists. He is the fifth to die in the first five months of 2011. Journalists are shot like stray dogs in Pakistan — easily killed because their assassins sit at the pinnacle of power.

When Daniel Pearl was brutally murdered by militants in Karachi in 2002, his case was prosecuted and four accomplices to the crime were sentenced. This happened only because Mr. Pearl was an American journalist. Had he been a Pakistani, there would have been no justice.

Today, impunity reigns and no organization is powerful enough to pressure the government to bring Saleem’s killers to justice. Journalists have shown resilience, but it is hard to persevere when the state itself becomes complicit in the crime. Now those speaking up for Saleem are doing so at a price: they are being intimidated and harassed.

Pakistan is at a crossroads and so is its news media. In a situation of doom and gloom, Pakistani journalists offer a ray of hope to their fellow citizens and they have earned the people’s trust. Even the former prime minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has admitted that people who once went to the police with complaints now go to the press.

But this trust will be eroded if journalists continue to be bullied into walking away from the truth. News organizations throughout the world must join hands in seeking justice for Saleem and ending the intelligence agencies’ culture of impunity. An award for investigative journalists should be created in his honor, as was done for Daniel Pearl. No stronger message could be delivered to his killers than making him immortal.

Umar Cheema is an investigative reporter at The News International, Pakistan’s largest English-language daily. He was a Daniel Pearl Fellow at The Times in 2008.

Courtesy: The New York Times

Pakistan: Lies, lies and more lies

Lies, lies and more lies

By: Nazir Naji

We are gullible. We lap up any tosh that is fed to us. We were told in 1965 that India attacked us and we defeated it. The reality was that we were the ones who attacked and India attacked Lahore and Sialkot in retaliation. In 1971, we were told that Indian-trained Mukti Bahini is carrying out terrorist activities. The reality was that we launched an offensive on East Pakistan. We were also told that Mujeeb-ur-Rehman is a traitor and that he wanted to break the country with his 6 points. The reality was that he was ready to pass the constitution of joint Pakistan in collusion with Bhutto. He himself told me in a meeting, “Am I crazy? Why would I want to break the country and rule a province when I instead rule the whole of Pakistan?” We were also told that we were conducting guerrilla resistance or “jihad” against the Soviets because their expansionist plans extend to Karachi and Gwadar. In actuality, we were America’s proxy in a war between two superpowers. The Russians left but the motley crew assembled in the name of Jihad played, and is still playing, an unholy game of bloodshed unabated. We were also told that the mujahideen had conquered Kargil but the reality was that our jawans [army] were sent there in civilian garb for conquest but the Indian army apprehended them and our prime minister had to flatter the US to facilitate their return.

We weren’t really interested in Osama bin Laden. Many lunatics in our midst consider him a warrior of Islam but the world views him as a deadly terrorist. The deluded class of people doesn’t consider him the architect of 9/11 even though he himself praised the perpetrators initially and then eventually 4 years later accepted the responsibility for planning 9/11. But this particular group of people will not even be dissuaded by his own admission of guilt. They are mourning openly in newspapers. But the people who wrote obituaries in columns did not have the daring to attend his funeral prayers conducted in absentia in Rawalpindi and Lahore.

Anyhow, our military rulers milked the US and Britain for fighting terrorism and maintained that Osama Bin Laden (OBL) was not in Pakistan whereas America insisted the opposite was true according to its reports. But we kept denying it in the strongest terms. But we Pakistanis kept believing what our protectors were telling us. We always do, but what to do when the world refuses to believe them as easily as we do. The Americans kept searching on their own. And the day our protectors and guardians were slumbering, American helicopters in flagrant violation of Pakistan’s airspace flew to Abbottabad and smoked out OBL. They got their man and took him back to Afghanistan with ease.

President Obama addressed his nation to inform them of this victory. At 11 am PST, the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, also conducted a press conference and clarified his stance and stated clearly that the world’s most wanted man had been found in Pakistan and our contestation that Pakistan is the hub of terrorism has been proved. But the keepers of our defence kept their lips sealed till 12 pm. Why? The only reason was that their lies had been indubitably exposed and there was no room left for denials or cover-ups.

Finally, the Foreign Office’s spokesman issued a loose and meaningless statement which stated that Americans have conducted an operation as they have stated against OBL. The horrifying fact that Pakistan had been aerially attacked was not even alluded to. Our borders and airspaces violated. An operation was carried out a mere kilometre away from the country’s biggest military academy but our defence systems remained dormant. We neither stopped the helis from entering our borders, nor condemned the aggression committed. The statement was drafted with such nonchalance as if informing of a routine matter. As if the occurrence had taken place elsewhere. As if it did not concern us in the least bit.

The Pakistanis who remember 1971 will relate that while a full-fledged war was raging in East Pakistan, we were being told some Bengali terrorist were merely disturbing law and order and the situation would soon be under control. On 16th December, a table was set up in the battle-grounds of Dhaka on which the commanders of our military sat down with the enemy commander-in-chief and signed the deal to surrender. But we were told by our Commander-in-Chief that it was a “temporary ceasefire.” His words did not belie at all that the ignominy of the world’s biggest military defeat had befallen us. That united Pakistan was no more. We learnt of the reality when the radios across the world were announcing that India had captured East Pakistan.

The events of 2nd May were no ordinary events. They exposed the hypocrisy of the people who are supposedly our guardians and exposed the discrepancies in their words and actions. Our lie had been called out. We denied for eight years that OBL was in Pakistan but he was caught here. We kept calling the world mendacious when we ourselves were liars. Because of this lie, our defence system was reduced to tatters but our government was pretending as if our sovereignty and defence remained unscathed.

On the evening of 2nd May, some people caught their wits and then it was thrown around that we had “aided” the US and our help is what led the US to bin Laden. But what the world really wanted to ask was that why did we repeatedly lie to them? The CIA Chief, Leon Panetta, told the representative of Congress that Pakistan had either willfully hid OBL or it was incompetent. The army’s own retired general, Talat Masood, said that the presence of Osama in Pakistan was due to the incompetence of our institutions and if they knew, that was an even graver mistake than incompetence. Whether it was collusion or incompetence, our defence system and the people responsible for it have failed unequivocally at their professional obligations and national duties. A failure in defence responsibilities is unpardonable. If court-martials had been conducted when necessary, we would never have seen this day. It’s the mistake of a few people; but the humiliation and disgrace is the lot of the entire nation. How much longer will we have to take this? How many times will we pay for the crimes of others?

The writer is one of Pakistan’s most widely read columnists.

Courtesy: PAKISTAN TODAY

http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2011/05/lies-lies-and-more-lies/

Mourning and Grieving Baloch nation while Pakistan celebrates its 23th March: Report

Balochistan: 23 March perhaps a day the Pakistani’s celebrate their “First Resolution Day” but 23 March 2011 brought mourning and grieving for Baloch nation, as such two bullet riddled bodies of Baloch missing persons were found from Vinder, District Hub. ….

Read more : frontierindia.org

Pakistan assembly fails to denounce Bhatti’s death

by Imtiaz Ahmad,

While Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani announced a national mourning for the slain minister for minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, many politicians and political parties in the country have chosen to remain silent on the issue. In the country’s parliament, a joint statement also could not be iss ued as many MPs refused to condemn the killing.

The main opposition parties, headed by the PML-N party of Nawaz Sharif, has remained strangely silent. Religious parties, which include the Jamaat-e-Islami party have termed the murder a plot to malign Pakistan.

A similar silence was seen when Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer was shot earlier this year. After that killing, most political figures including Nawaz Sharif, and his brother Shahbaz Sharif, who is the chief minister of Punjab, stayed away from the funeral prayers of the slain governor.

This silence is seen as an endorsement for the murder,” MP Asia Nasir, a Christian, said in parliament. Nasir also pointed to the picture of Muhammad Ali Jinnah hanging on one wall in parliament and told the assembly that it was a sad day for minorities.

Read more : Hindustan Times

Chronicle of a murder foretold – Dr Manzur Ejaz

Unless the anti-mullah shahi forces become competitive, the tide of theocracy cannot be stopped. To be competitive, anti-mullah shahi forces have to capture the intellectual discourse in the country and even have the street power to stop the religious madness. If the liberal intelligentsia is hoping that the formal state will reform itself and come to their aid, they are delusionary. The state is nothing but a compromise of interest groups

I am not sure if the state’s official three-day mourning period was for late Governor Salmaan Taseer or for its own paralysis. As it has been reported, Taseer’s martyrdom — that is what it is — was pre-planned and well rehearsed before the day Qadri stole the innocent man’s life, yet no intelligence agency could detect it. If the security agencies are as pervasive and involved in the system as they purport, such a mission could not have gone undetected unless the security apparatus itself is infested with extremists. Either way, the security agencies have proven to be an extension of mullah shahi (rule of the mullahs) and, hence, a fundamentalist party themselves. Indeed, the martyrdom of Salmaan Taseer was foretold by the increasingly fundamentalist security body, which has imposed a toxic ideology amongst the unsuspecting people of Pakistan.

In a way it was a murder foretold, as Garcia Marquez would call it. As every colour and every shade of mullah shahi was issuing fatwas (edicts) against Taseer for supporting Aasia Bibi and branding the blasphemy law as a kala qanoon (black law) — which it is — the state agencies remained silent spectators. How can a private group issue a death sentence when Pakistan is ruled by the constitution and the courts are appointed to protect the people and persecute wrongdoers? And, if mullah shahi can issue death fatwas against citizens, then we should all wonder what the function of the state is. In order to bring Pakistan out of its current state of chaos, fatwa declarations should be banned like they were in Bangladesh and their writers should be put behind bars for sedition.

The anti-Tasser/Aasia Bibi campaign was not limited to fatwas; many mullahs and illiterate and rich politicians and businessmen were offering head money for the death of these two people. A mullah in a Peshawar mosque during a Friday gathering had offered a huge sum of money for Aasia Bibi’s head. Another petty politician in southern Punjab had offered Rs 2 crores for Taseer’s and Aasia’s heads. Were these not extreme cases of blatant hate speech? But the state agencies looked the other way. Even now, the state agencies have no will or intention to bring these criminals to book for their wrongdoings. For example, they arrested the above-mentioned petty politician and released him after his supporters blockaded the highway. So, it is clear that the state’s security agencies lack the will to enforce the law or they are too cowardly to do so. ….

Read more : Wichaar

Pakistan has lost the confidence of the world. After India, Russia, USA, UK, France, Germany, and almost every other single country of the world, now Iran … how long it will stay in denial of… and would that denial help … & how long Pakistan will be used for these dramas…?

Hand over ‘terrorists’, Ahmadinejad tells Zardari

TEHRAN: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari on Monday to arrest and hand over “known terrorists,” the Iranian leader’s office said on its website.

In a telephone call, the Iranian president “asked Zardari to order his country’s security forces to quickly arrest known terrorists and hand them over to the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Ahmadinejad’s office said in a statement posted on its website.

The phone call followed a suicide attack last week in the southeastern Iranian city of Chabahar that killed 39 people during a Shia mourning procession. …

Read more : DAWN