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Separate the religion from the State – the Forum for Secular Pakistan (FSP) has been lanched in Sindh

FSP for a secular Pakistan

KARACHI: The Forum for Secular Pakistan (FSP) has been constituted by liberal progressive social activists and like-minded people to struggle for a secular Pakistan.

This was announced by FSP President Iqbal Haider at a press conference held at Karachi Press Club (KPC) here on Sunday.

Journalist Zubaida Mustafa, chief guest Sardar Sherbaz Khan Mazari, Vice President of forum Hasil Bizenjo, KPC President Tahir Hassan Khan and others were also present on the occasion.

Addressing the press conference, Iqbal Haider said that Pakistan’s critical situation was just because of us forgetting the principles laid down by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

He said that FSP was a national forum being supported by people throughout the country. Secular system in Pakistan can change the situation of the country, he said adding that people from Sindh, Punjab, Azad Kashmir and other areas are being encouraged to join the forum.

Haider said, “Non-Muslims also gave us an opportunity by joining the forum,” adding that Pakistan came into being on secular basis where all were supposed to have equal rights. Hasil Bizenjo said that time was ripe for the people to consider secular system seriously. He said that secularism was a part of various parties’ manifestoes in 1970s, but eliminated later on, giving rise to extremism. People, who termed secular system as Kufr, favour it in India, he said. He further added that they would try to promote secular system through the forum. Earlier, Haider read the declaration of the forum in which he also quoted speeches of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

Courtesy: Daily Times

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=20126\18\story_18-6-2012_pg7_18

The many meanings of March 23

By: Haider Nizamani

AS always, March 23 will be celebrated by official ceremonies at home and abroad. Iqbal’s dream will get due mention as will the political acumen of those who passed the Lahore Resolution in 1940 calling for a separate country.

Rarely, though, do we hear about the actual contents of the historic resolution. The annual celebrations are routine, but voices calling attention to the contents drown in the din of fervent patriotism. Why is that the case?

The operative section of the resolution says: “no constitutional plan would be workable in this country or acceptable to Muslims unless it is designed on the following basic principles, viz., that geographically contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be so constituted, with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary, that the areas in which Muslims are numerically in a majority, as in the north-western and eastern zones of India, should be grouped to constitute ‘Independent States’ in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign.”

Present-day nationalists in Pakistan, particularly in Sindh, embrace the contents of the resolution. Sindhi nationalists argue that the contents of the 1940 resolution constitute key elements of the pledge on which Muslim-majority regions opted for Pakistan.

In their assessment, the 1940 resolution envisaged a country where the constituent units would be autonomous and sovereign. The All India Muslim League was able to secure the support of Muslim-majority regions by opposing the centralist platform of the Congress.

Some who had been supporters of the Muslim League at the time of the Lahore Resolution, such as G.M. Syed, later turned against the party and eventually against the country. Why did they switch from being pro-Pakistan to anti-Pakistan?

The official Pakistani reply accuses people such as G.M. Syed of working on the instructions of India to weaken Pakistan. In reality, the opposition concerned the handing down of a product that was markedly different from the one promised in the 1940 resolution.

Instead of autonomous units forming the union, what transpired was a highly centralised state that trampled on the rights of the provinces.

Continue reading The many meanings of March 23

International Dalit Soliderity report 2011 – Plight of Dalit of Pakistan

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.

Continue reading International Dalit Soliderity report 2011 – Plight of Dalit of Pakistan

Who are they? the mysterious Mohajir province campaigners

by AAMIR MAJEED

Excerpts;

KARACHI – With nobody ready to lead them, dozens of people demonstrated outside the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Tuesday demanding a separate province ….

…. Interestingly, nobody among the participants was ready to own each other and when asked about their representatives, ….

…. Another protester, Faisal, said he had come from Landhi for the protest.

When asked who was leading the demonstration, he replied in the negative. ….

Read more » Pakistan Today

PAKISTAN’S ARMY: DIVIDED IT STANDS

By: Pervez Hoodbhoy

Excerpt;

… Religion deeply divides the Pakistan military. Perhaps it might be more accurate to think of it as two militaries. The first is headed by General Kayani. It seeks to maintain the status quo and the army’s pre-eminence in making national decisions.

The second is Allah’s army. This awaits a leader even as it launches attacks on Pakistani military installations, bases, top-level officers, soldiers, public places, mosques, and police stations. Soldiers have been encouraged to turn their guns on to their colleagues, troops have been tricked into ambushes, and high-level

officers have been assassinated. Allah’s army hopes to launch its final blitzkrieg once the state of Pakistan has been sufficiently weakened by such attacks.

What separates Army-One and ISI-One from Army-Two and ISI-Two? This may not be immediately evident. Both were reared on the Two-Nation Theory …

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Let us call a spade a spade by Special Correspondent

Though there was nothing against him in the Hamoodur Rehman Commission Report, Mr Bhutto preferred to keep it firmly under lock and key. Reason: He did not want the report, a comprehensive and devastating indictment of the Pakistan’s armed forces, to come in the way of his grandiose plans to rehabilitate and revive on a grander scale the demoralised and defeated institution. But then, in a matter of five years, he was made to pay with his life for setting up the commission of enquiry.

Next, when Mohammad Khan Junejo set up a commission to enquire into the Ojhri camp scandal, it did not take long for General Ziaul Haq, the then army chief and country’s all-powerful president, to send him home most unceremoniously.

And when, after the Kargil debacle, the talk of subjecting General Musharraf to a court martial started making the rounds in the corridors of power, Musharraf hit back by ousting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a manner most unbecoming of a soldier.

So, perhaps the present coalition government has advisedly agreed to let the Army conduct its own investigation into the failure of the ISI to track down Osama bin Laden and the violation, for more than an hour, of our air space by US helicopters on May 1-2.  One does not know if this seemingly astute approach of the elected government would in the final analysis save it from meeting the fate of its predecessors who acted otherwise.  And what was Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Kayani trying to achieve by going on a lecture tour of three garrisons on the same day the prime minister was making a supposed policy speech in the NA? Was he trying to upstage the PM? Was he trying to tell the nation that his institution is a separate entity from the govt? Why did he do it when the need of the hour is to speak with one voice? He should have been there in the parliament galleries listening to the PM’s speech (most probably the handiwork of an ISPR copy writer rather than that of a political speech writer) to convey the impression that everyone in the country is on the same page.

But then, strangely enough, while the chief seemingly tried to distance himself from the government, he sought the help of parliament – help to save the institution from the wrath of the people at large who, no matter what spin one gave to the May 1-2 incidents, have been persuaded by the media that Osama was living untraced right under the nose of our security agencies and that US helicopters violated our airspace undetected and unchallenged. …

Read more : Wichaar

Siraiki Province: PML-N Falling Into Zardari’s Trap; To Be Limited To Central Punjab

By: Aziz Narejo

In a glaring example of cynical, reactionary and unprincipled politics, Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif the other day demanded that Sindh be divided and Karachi be made a province. His statement justifiably created furore in Sindh and the parliamentary parties including PPP, MQM and ANP as well as other politicians and activists swiftly condemned the unimaginative and unscrupulous statement by the PML-N leader.

The PML-N government and Punjabi nationalists seem to be under considerable pressure as the demand for a separate Siraiki province is gathering momentum in southern Punjab but this was most crooked and uncalled for response that could ever come from anyone with even the slightest political wisdom. PML-N leader was obviously trying to get back with the PPP. It may be noted that PM Gilani has suggested the creation of a new province in southern Punjab and PPP manifesto committee is deliberating to make it a part of the PPP manifesto for next elections.

No Sindhi would have any objections if Shahbaz Sharif, other PML-N leaders and Punjabis as a whole turn into nationalists but all the Punjabis and others should understand that Sindh and PPP are not ONE and the same. They are two separate entities. PML-N can’t and shouldn’t get back with the PPP by hurting Sindh. It must agree or disagree with the Siraiki people’s demand for a separate province with the force of arguments and not by playing tit for tat, conspiratorial and ugly politics.

PML-N should also realize that with this kind of politics they will be completely routed out from Sindh and their aspirations to become a “national” party or to form next government will die for ever.

Do they understand that this is exactly what PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari wants the PML-N to do? Are they willingly falling into the trap set by Zardari ..? Do they realize that with this kind of politics, they will forever become a Central Punjab party? Are there any sane elements in PML-N who would rein in Shahbaz Sharif and the likes of him in their party? Guess not. Good luck to them on their journey to doom.

Courtesy: Indus Herald

Mujib’s 6 points

1. The constitution should provide for a Federation of Pakistan in its true sense on the 1940 Lahore Resolution and the parliamentary form of government with supremacy of a legislature directly elected on the basis of universal adult franchise.

2. The federal government should deal with only two subjects: defence and foreign affairs, and all other residuary subjects shall be vested in the federating states.

3. Two separate, but freely convertible currencies for two wings should be introduced; or if this is not feasible, there should be one currency for the whole country, but effective constitutional provisions should be introduced to stop the flight of capital from East to West Pakistan. Furthermore, a separate banking reserve should be established and separate fiscal and monetary policy be adopted for East Pakistan.

4. The power of taxation and revenue collection shall be vested in the federating units and the federal centre will have no such power. The federation will be entitled to a share in the state taxes to meet its expenditures.

5. There should be two separate accounts for the foreign exchange earnings of the two wings; the foreign exchange requirements of the federal government should be met by the two wings equally or in a ratio to be fixed; indigenous products should move free of duty between the two wings, and the constitution should empower the units to establish trade links with foreign countries.

6. East Pakistan should have a separate militia or paramilitary forces.

Source – Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, April 21, 2011.