When people ask me about my experience studying abroad in India, I always face the same dilemma. How does one convey the contradiction that over the past few months has torn my life apart, and convey it in a single succinct sentence?
“India was wonderful,” I go with, “but extremely dangerous for women.” Part of me dreads the follow-up questions, and part of me hopes for more. I’m torn between believing in the efficacy of truth, and being wary of how much truth people want.
Because, how do I describe my three months in the University of Chicago Indian civilizations program when it was half dream, half nightmare? Which half do I give?
Do I tell them about our first night in the city of Pune, when we danced in the Ganesha festival, and leave it at that? Or do I go on and tell them how the festival actually stopped when the American women started dancing, so that we looked around to see a circle of men filming our every move?
Do I tell them about bargaining at the bazaar for beautiful saris costing a few dollars a piece, and not mention the men who stood watching us, who would push by us, clawing at our breasts and groins?
When people compliment me on my Indian sandals, do I talk about the man who stalked me for forty-five minutes after I purchased them, until I yelled in his face in a busy crowd?
Do I describe the lovely hotel in Goa when my strongest memory of it was lying hunched in a fetal position, holding a pair of scissors with the door bolted shut, while the staff member of the hotel who had tried to rape my roommate called me over and over, and breathing into the phone?
How, I ask, was I supposed to tell these stories at a Christmas party? But how could I talk about anything else when the image of the smiling man who masturbated at me on a bus was more real to me than my friends, my family, or our Christmas tree? All those nice people were asking the questions that demanded answers for which they just weren’t prepared.
When I went to India, nearly a year ago, I thought I was prepared. I had been to India before; I was a South Asian Studies major; I spoke some Hindi. I knew that as a white woman I would be seen as a promiscuous being and a sexual prize. I was prepared to follow the University of Chicago’s advice to women, to dress conservatively, to not smile in the streets. And I was prepared for the curiosity my red hair, fair skin and blue eyes would arouse.
But I wasn’t prepared.
There was no way to prepare for the eyes, the eyes that every day stared with such entitlement at my body, with no change of expression whether I met their gaze or not. Walking to the fruit seller’s or the tailer’s I got stares so sharp that they sliced away bits of me piece by piece. I was prepared for my actions to be taken as sex signals; I was not prepared to understand that there were no sex signals, only women’s bodies to be taken, or hidden away.
I covered up, but I did not hide. And so I was taken, by eye after eye, picture after picture. Who knows how many photos there are of me in India, or on the internet: photos of me walking, cursing, flipping people off. Who knows how many strangers have used my image as pornography, and those of my friends. I deleted my fair share, but it was a drop in the ocean– I had no chance of taking back everything they took.
By Tony Lazaro
The Editor, Time Magazine
I recently returned from a charitable trip to Pakistan, whereby I visited both Karachi and Islamabad. I spoke with several universities, key businesses, prominent business leaders and several religious people from all generations…
On the day I returned to the office, someone had placed your magazine (January 16, 2012), on my desk. I read with interest your article on Karachi and the city in doom. For a person to have just returned from the very same place that your magazine described was somewhat bizarre, so I read with great detail your writer (Andrew Marshall’s) account.
Let me begin by saying that I often flick through your magazine and find the articles of great interest, but on this particular day and this particular article, I found certain comments to be both one sided and indeed very negative. I say that because I saw a different Pakistan to what was portrayed in your article. I do not and will not comment on the political or religious problems that the country faces, but I will go so far as to say that not everything is as bad as the image that your magazine paints.
Sure there are deaths in the cities. Please show me a city in the world, that is free from political fighting and unrest. Sure there are differences in the political party opinions. Please show me a country in the world where the political parties agree. Sure the innocent are suffering. Please show me a country in the world where wealth and power is equal and the innocent don’t suffer. Sure corruption is in Pakistan. Please show me a country in the world that is corruption free.
My list could go on, but my point is that Pakistan does have problems…but so does every other country in the world in some way or another. However, in the case of ALL other nations, there are often good things to report and the media goes out of its way to promote these good things across the globe, whenever possible. The ridiculous amount of shootings in the USA are balanced off by the success of Google, Microsoft and Apple. The financial dilemmas of Greece are lost in the marketing of the Greek Islands as a holiday destination of choice. The child slave industry of India, is brushed under the carpet in favour of the nation’s growth in the global software boom. What I am trying to say, is that someone needs to look further into Pakistan and see that there are millions of great stories to write about, which would portray the country in a different light, to that what is being portrayed by your article.
When I was in Pakistan, I visited a towel manufacturing company (Alkaram Towels). They produced some $60million in export in 2011 and are aiming at $85million in 2012. A substantial increase in sales…in a recession I would remind you. The company was started by the current Chairman, Mr. Mehtab Chawla, at the tender age of nine, after his father passed away. Today the very man employs 3000 staff. Now that’s a story.
I visited universities of NED, Hamdard, Karachi, Szabist and NUST. The students are unbelievably intelligent. They spend their spare time developing APPS for android and apple. They are involved in cutting edge technology and no one in the world knows this. Why not send a reporter to Pakistan to look into this. Why not research good things in this nation, rather than just the bad things. At NUST (National Institution for Science and Technology – Islamabad)) there were 38,000 applications for medicine. There are only 83 seats for the medicine course on offer. The competition is unbelievable. In short it pushes the best to be even better. But the world doesn’t know this. Why ? Because no one wants to report on it, or no one knows about it…or both !!
A friend on Facebook had status which said (Translated from Sindhi): “Mian Mithoo can harass a helpless, poor girl to say whatever he likes! Let us give this Pir of Bharchundi (alone) to the men of Bal Thackeray and he would convert (to Hinduism) in no time! (sic)”
Sindh has been known for its Sufi culture which has kept pushing the extremism off its borders. It has in it several shrines, religious harmony, coexistence and tolerance, not to mention the centuries-old civilization, Mohen-jo-Darro. Sindhis have always claimed to have secularism and Sufism to be present as if in their gene and, thus, they wouldn’t ever side with religious intolerance and extremism.
Well, this is true to a great extent since we can see that where Pakistan has seen surge in extremism throughout the post-9/11 period, Sindh has remained comparatively more peaceful and, especially, incidents of extremist activities have been equal to none. There definitely was an incidence of burning NATO oil tankers in Shikarpur, Sindh, but the same was condemned by the Sindhi nationalist parties attributing the incidence to the agencies trying to tarnish the soft image of Sindh; in fact, there were massive protests against the blazing up of the oil tankers throughout the land.
Sindh has been home to many religions, all coexisting peacefully. However, there have been certain incidents which would reveal the nature of the ‘rare’.
One such event which took place on the unfortunate day of November 02, 1939, which blotted the humane face of Sindh, was when a saintly Sufi singer and poet of humble and peace-loving nature, Bhagat Kunwar Ram was murdered at Rukk Station, Sukkur (Sindh) in the name of religion – for being a Hindu.
The person booked as the major perpetrator in the murder was Mian Abdur-Rahim of Bharchundi Dargah, a religious center in a small village of the same name. Bhrarchundi Dargah is famous for spreading hatred against the Hindus, and converting them to Islam forcibly for years now.
Thus, to many in Sindh, this news did not come as a surprise, but it did disturb them to come out on roads and protest against the Pirs of Bharchundi — what happened was that Rinkle Kumari, a Hindu teenage girl, was kidnapped on February 24, 2012, forced to convert to Islam and, subsequently, marry a Muslim boy, Naveed Shah (a Punjabi settler). And the person involved is none else than a Pir of Bharchundi Dargah, Mian Abdul Haq (popularly known as Mian Mithoo), the son of Mian Abdur-Rehman, the major perpetrator in the case of Bhagat Kunwar Ram’s murder in the past. Mian Mithoo also happens to be an MNA of the Pakistan People’s Party, the ruling party.
To know how the security agencies of the deep state operates in Pakistan and silences all. Please read the sad and frightening story [the will] of the reporting journalist on a missing persons of Sindh and the atrocities of Holy ISI, written by Hasan Mujtaba “Mama Don’t Cry If I Die” at BBC urdu website.
On August 15, 1947, the New York Times carried a front page story on what it called “Two Indian States emerge on the World Scene.” The map clearly showed Balochisatn as an independent state while the caption read, “Pakistan recognized Independence of Kalat, on the Arabian Sea.”
Read more » Scribd
Via – TK’s facebook page
Gen. Ziauddin Khawaja, an ex–security chief for Pakistan, accuses former president Pervez Musharraf of knowing where bin Laden was hiding and saying nothing.
By Bruce Riedel
Ever since the Navy SEALs found Osama bin Laden hiding in Abbottabad, Pakistan, less than a mile from the country’s national military academy, the question haunting American relations with Pakistan has been: who knew he was there? How did the most-wanted man in human history find a hideout in one of Pakistan’s most exclusive military cantonment cities and live there for five years without the Pakistani spy service finding him? Or did it know all along?
Now there is an explosive new charge. The former head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI) says former president Pervez Musharraf knew bin Laden was in Abbottabad. Gen. Ziauddin Khawaja, also known as Ziauddin Butt, was head of the ISI from 1997 to 1999. A four-star general, he fought in the 1965 and 1971 wars with India. He was the first head of the Army’s Strategic Plans Division, which controls the country’s nuclear weapons. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made him director-general of the ISI in 1997 and promoted him to chief of Army staff on Oct. 12, 1999, when he fired Musharraf from the job. Musharraf refused to go and launched a coup that overthrew Sharif. Ziauddin spent the next two years in solitary confinement, was discharged from the Army, and had his property confiscated and his retirement benefits curtailed. So he has a motive to speak harshly about Musharraf.
Bearing that in mind, here is what the former spy chief claims. Ziauddin says that the safe house in Abbottabad was made to order for bin Laden by another Pakistani intelligence officer, Brig. Gen. Ijaz Shah, who was the ISI bureau head in Lahore when Musharraf staged his coup. Musharraf later made him head of the intelligence bureau, the ISI’s rival in Pakistan’s spy-versus-spy wars. Ziauddin says Ijaz Shah was responsible for setting up bin Laden in Abbottabad, ensuring his safety and keeping him hidden from the outside. And Ziauddin says Musharraf knew all about it.
Ijaz Shah is a colorful character. He has been closely linked to Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a British-born Kashmiri terrorist who was imprisoned in India in 1994 for kidnapping three British citizens and an American. Saeed was freed when Pakistani terrorists hijacked an Indian airliner to Kandahar, Afghanistan, in December 2000, a plot masterminded by bin Laden and assisted by the ISI and the Afghan Taliban. Saeed was part of the plot two years later to kidnap Daniel Pearl and turned himself in to Brigadier Shah. Musharraf nominated Shah to be ambassador to Australia, but Canberra said no thanks. So he got the intelligence-bureau job.
Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto accused Shah of being behind the attempt to murder her when she returned from exile in late 2007. She was, of course, killed in another attempt later that year. Shah fled to Australia for a time while the situation cooled off.
Ziauddin says Ijaz Shah was responsible for setting up bin Laden in Abbottabad and Musharraf knew all about it.
Without a doubt, Ziauddin has an ax to grind. But he is also well tied in to the Pakistani intelligence world. When he was DG/ISI, he set up a special commando team to find and capture bin Laden with U.S. help. Elite commandos from the Special Services Group, Pakistan’s SEALs, were put on the hunt. Musharraf disbanded the group after he took power. Ziauddin’s successor at the ISI, Gen. Mahmud Ahmad, refused American requests to go after bin Laden right up to 9/11. Then Musharraf had to fire him because, even after 9/11, he did not want to do anything to bring bin Laden to justice.
We don’t know who was helping hide bin Laden, but we need to track them down. If Mush, as many call him in Pakistan, knew, he should be questioned by the authorities the next time he sets foot in America. The explosive story about him, which was first reported in the must-read Militant Leadership Monitor, is more than an academic issue. If we can find who hid bin Laden, we will probably know who is hiding his successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the rest of the al Qaeda gang.
Courtesy: The Daily Beast
Robert Greenwald and Reporter Michael Hastings Take on the Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War Machine
Hastings, in his hard-hitting new book, discusses “politically correct imperialism,” why the military is obsessed with its legacy, and why we’re stuck in post-9/11 thinking.
By Robert Greenwald
Not many journalists can say they had a hand in getting a commanding general relieved of duty in the middle of a war. But Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings did just that when his 2010 story on Stanley McChrystal, then the commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan, sent shockwaves through Washington and resulted in McChrystal being recalled to DC and uneremoniously fired by Barack Obama. ….
Read more » AlterNet
Courtesy: Front Line with Kamaran Shahid
— o — o — o — o —
If you watch the video of Imran Khan’s Karachi Jalsa, you will see Imran Khan coming to the venue by an Army helicopter and then escorted and surrounded by armed Army commandos. The Army and ISI provided full security to him, before and during the jalsa. A million dollar question is , where was the Army and ISI when twice prime minister of Pakistan, Chairperson of PPP, Benazir was speaking at Liaquat Park, Rawalpindi, a stone’s throw distance from GHQ? Why was absolutely no security was provided to her, even as is now disclosed by ISI that there was a specific plan to murder her? Was it because the generals perceived BB as a threat to expose them before the public?
Is their support of Imran Khan because Army generals think that he will get them out of the deep hole they have dug for themselves and get Talibans/ Jihadis and Americans off their backs, sustain their narrow destructive policies and that they can go back to their messes and golf courses and DHAs? [Above text is taken from Pakistani e-lists, e-groups, credit goes to TK for above piece]
By Tasneem Fatima
… Rafia Bibi, 70, is an unlucky Pakistani woman, who lost her son in China, after the Chinese Supreme Court sentenced him to death. Besides other human wishes, seeing loved ones before their death is one of the most important desires of every person, but Rafia was one of those mothers who could not see her son, when he was passing through the final stages of his life.
“In my mind, my son is still in front of me, and he will remain alive in my dreams,” said Rafia, with tears in her eyes.
Rafia’s son, Syed Zahid Hussain, was a 30-year-old resident of Haripur, Pakistan. He had a business importing and exporting jewellery in Thailand, and visited China in connection with a business deal. Narrating the fateful story, which has ruined the lives of Zahid,s family members ….
Read more » News Blaze
Translation by Dr. Syeda Saiyidain Hameed
Second Edition, November 2004
[ page 194 & 195] … Pakistan was a different story. The Muslim League had taken no part in the country’s freedom. They never launched any movement or struggled for freedom. So engrossed were they in opposing the Congress Party that they sought British help in fulfilling their objective. The British were aware that in the whole of Pakistan there was only one organisation which had participated in the struggle against British imperialism, the Khudai Khidmatgars of the North West Frontier Province. The British and the Khudai Khidmatgars were naturally not kindly disposed towards each other. On these two scores, the MuslimLeague and the British were on common ground; therefore, whoever opposed the British, was also opposed to the Muslim League. Consequently, a Muslim League Government was expected to fall in line with the British, and would allow the British to use it in taking revenge on behalf of the allies. The British viewed Pakistan as a totally new country, which would take a while to stand on its own. For years to come the Government of Pakistan would have to look up to the British for assistance. Another reason for British complacency about Pakistan was that her rulers were not locally born, but had migrated from India. They were immigrants who did not have their roots in the new country. Their authority was derived from the Muslim League. Based on empirical evidence the British realised thatthe Muslim League could not acquire political power even inMuslim Punjab. It is axiomatic that if a political party is not properly organised and disciplined, the political power slips outof its hands and passes on to the bureaucracy. The Governmentof Pakistan did precisely what the British had expected them to do. Almost all key positions were given to the British. Whenthe names of the new Governors of the Provinces were announced, with the exception of Sind all the provinces hadBritish Governors: (1) Sir Frederick Bourne, East Bengal; (2)Sir Francis Mudie, Punjab; (3) Sir George Cunningham, NWFP; and (4) An Englishman as Agent in Baluchistan. Sir Ghulam Husain Hidayatullah was the only Pakistani, who was appointed the Governor of Sindh. This appointmentwas made because the capital of Sind was Karachi which alsohappened to be the capital of Pakistan. The Government Houseof Sind was occupied by Jinnah, the Governor-General of Pakistan. Therefore another residence had to be arranged for the Governor of Sindh!The British were appointed the Chiefs of the PakistanArmy, Air Force and Navy: (1) General Sir Frank Messervy,Commander-in-Chief, Army; (2) Air Vice-Marshal Perry Keane, Chief of Air Force; and (3) Rear Admiral Jefford, Chief of Naval Staff …
[page 199] It is curious logic that when we participated in thestruggle for freedom with the Congress against the British rule, the gutless Muslim League leaders used to taunt us by calling us the children of the Hindus. Now when the Hindus have left behind properties worth crores of rupees, those very leaders are the first to arrive, take possession of them, and assert their right on them. ….
– Heroic Tale of Holocaust, With a Twist
By ELAINE SCIOLINO
PARIS — The stories of the Holocaust have been documented, distorted, clarified and filtered through memory. Yet new stories keep coming, occasionally altering the grand, incomplete mosaic of Holocaust history.
One of them, dramatized in a French film released here last week, focuses on an unlikely savior of Jews during the Nazi occupation of France: the rector of a Paris mosque.
Muslims, it seems, rescued Jews from the Nazis.
“Les Hommes Libres” (“Free Men”) is a tale of courage not found in French textbooks. According to the story, Si Kaddour Benghabrit, the founder and rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, provided refuge and certificates of Muslim identity to a small number of Jews to allow them to evade arrest and deportation.
It was simpler than it sounds. In the early 1940s France was home to a large population of North Africans, including thousands of Sephardic Jews. The Jews spoke Arabic and shared many of the same traditions and everyday habits as the Arabs. Neither Muslims nor Jews ate pork. Both Muslim and Jewish men were circumcised. Muslim and Jewish names were often similar.
The mosque, a tiled, walled fortress the size of a city block on the Left Bank, served as a place to pray, certainly, but also as an oasis of calm where visitors were fed and clothed and could bathe, and where they could talk freely and rest in the garden. …
Read more → The New York Times
Mumbai, India: Renowned Sindhi story writer of Sindh and India, passed away on 15 September 2011 at Mulund Colony Mumabi due to complications of diabetes. He was 68.
He was born on April 21, 1941, in Karachi, Sindh. He was author of 11 Collections of short stories, 4 novels, and 1 on essay. Most significant amongst them are: Darda Bhari Dil (Painful heart), 1963, Dil Ji Basti (Dwelling of heart), Short Stories Collection, 1965, Chandermukhi, Short Stories Collection, 1965, Sawal (Question), Novel, 1976, Rishtan Jo Ant (End of relationship), 2001. Vishnu Bhatia was Sr. Sub-Editor, Hindustan Sindhi Daily Newspaper & Hindvasi, a Weekly Sindhi Magazine. Also he was columnist of Sindhi magazines Koonj, Sipoon, and Rachna.
Vishnu Bhatia had also written the following Radio Plays: Bebu O Bebu, Akh Pharke, Dil Dharke (Twinkle in Eye Beating of Heart), Inam (Reward), Nind Na Kar Nandan (Do Not Oversleep). Vishnu was basically a creative writer. He turned to journalism comparatively at later stage, when he joined Hindustan Daily in mid-seventies. some of his short stories have been translated in other Indian (south Asian) languages, such as Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati, Tamil, Telgu, Malyalam and English.
1995 he had won Lifetime Achievement Award, (At Mumbai by Akhil Bharat Sindhi Boli Ain Sahit Sabha).
Here is a story from the 1947 religious riots (as related by Saadat Hassan Minto):
A statue of Sir Ganga Ram once stood on Mall Road in Lahore. An inflamed mob with religious hatred in Lahore, after attacking a residential area, turned to attacking the statue of Sir Ganga Ram, the Hindu philanthropist.
They first pelted the statue with stones; then smothered its face with coal tar. Then a man made a garland of old shoes climbed up to put it round the neck of the statue.
The police arrived and opened fire. Among the injured were the fellow with the garland of old shoes. As he fell, the mob shouted: “Let us rush him to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.”
Don’t forget, there is other side of the story too. They say that it was Indian Muslims who started genocide and rape first. And then, there was no stop to it.
Muslims killed every single one on a train of Hindus/ Sikhs, train was leaving Pakistan to go to India. Sikhs & Hindus killed every single one on a train of Muslims, train was leaving India to go to Pakistan.
Here in the video below, watch a senior citizen who lived to tell the story. You couldn’t dare to watch this more than once.
ISLAMABAD – The murder case of MQM convener Dr Imran Farooq is nearing its conclusion as the secret agencies nabbed three suspects in Pakistan some days back, while the British police conducted raids in London on Thursday.
Khalid Shamim, who also belongs to Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) is said to be the mastermind of Dr Imran’s murder, and two other youth were reportedly arrested form Karachi a few days back. And presumably, taking action on the leads from the arrested suspects in Pakistan, the Scotland Yard Thursday conducted raids in London. Some 35 police officials participated in the operation wherein they seized documents and other items from a house and an office. However, no arrests were made in the raids as both the places had already been abandoned.
Sources revealed that Khalid Shamim was given the task of killing Dr Imran Farooq in London. He sought the help of a man named Hammad Siddiqi, who provided him two boys both of whom belonged to All Pakistan Muttahida Students Organisation. Khalid Shamim arranged student visas for both these boys. The two youth met an unidentified man in London who briefed them about the routine of Dr Imran, and they killed him near his house on September 16, 2010.
After the murder, both the killers left for Colombo instead of coming to Pakistan. After reaching there, they contacted the mastermind Khalid Shamim, who advised them to reach Pakistan. A secret agency recorded all the conversation between Shamim and the killers and kept the former under strict watch. Shamim had also planned to murder both these boys as soon as they would reach Karachi.
The agencies arrested both the young killers when they reached Karachi from Colombo and shifted them to Rawalpindi whereas contacts were also made with the MQM for handing over Khalid Shamim.
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
The pall of gloom, anger and despondency in Pakistan has deepened with Saleem Shahzad’s gruesome murder. If the past is any guide, we will neither discover verifiable facts about his murder, nor will his killers be brought to justice. But let us revisit what we do know. Saleem Shahzad was called in by the ISI in October last year to discuss a story that he had filed for Asia Times Online and felt that he had received a muffled threat. He shared the details with his family, employers and some friends, including Human Rights Watch. Shahzad had written the first part of a story this past week suggesting that Al-Qaeda/Taliban had infiltrated the navy and the attack on PNS Mehran was a consequence of efforts to weed them out. Shahzad was abducted from a high-security zone in Islamabad while he was on his way to participation in a TV talk show. He was tortured to death and his body dumped in the canal close to Rasool Barrage a couple of days later.
Who could have abducted a journalist from one of the most fortified areas of Islamabad? If all this was the handiwork of Al-Qaeda/Taliban, why did they not make demands in return for his release, as they often do? If they didn’t abduct him for ransom or barter, why did they not claim credit for his assassination? Why did they not hold him out as an example for others they see as enemies or double agents, rather than silently dumping his tortured body, followed by an anonymous burial in Mandi Bahhauddin? Was the local representative of Human Rights Watch conspiring with Al-Qaeda and their “foreign” patrons when (according to reported conversations with interlocutors) he disclosed that Shahzad was being held by the ISI and would be released soon? Shahzad feared for his life and had pointed fingers. Should we simply disregard his account now that he is dead?
No terror group has claimed responsibility for Shahzad’s murder. But the ISI has denied involvement in his torture and killing, and resolved “to leave no stone unturned in helping bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice.” Let us assume that the ISI is being truthful here. How did we come to this pass where our leading intelligence agency is the prime suspect in the brutal murder of a journalist and, conscious of such a perception, feels obliged to issue a contradiction? Was Umar Cheema of The News really tortured by spooks or did he just imagine security personnel shaving his head? Was Kamran Shafi’s house never attacked? Is there some bright line rule that people will be roughed up but not killed? Or are the countless reported episodes of intelligence personnel intimidating journalists all lies? Has the US-Indian-Israeli nexus successfully manipulated the minds of our media and intelligentsia? Is this the best explanation for the suspicion that segments of our national security apparatus arouse?
Back in January 2010, I wrote about “reforming khakis.” I had endeavoured to identify multiple facets of the khaki mindset, as I understood them. “The first is an undaunted sense of righteousness,” I had argued. “This indoctrinates the military with the belief that its vision and definition of national security and national interest is the perennial manifestation of wisdom and truth. Any involvement of civilians with matters deemed to fall within the domain of national security is seen as unwarranted interference and an affront to its interests. This protective sense encourages the military to guard its proclaimed territory as a fief. The second facet of the khaki mindset is the military’s saviour instinct. Despite being a non-representative institution, the military has assigned to itself the role of deciphering aspirations of Pakistanis and protecting them. And the most insidious facet of this mindset is the unstated sense of being above the law that binds ordinary citizens.”
Consequently, I was “invited” to the ISI headquarter to meet with a brigadier who looked after internal security. I was offered a “tea break” while being informed that people within the GHQ had taken offence at my article. The brigadier read out “objectionable” excerpts from my article back to me and read from hand scribbled notes that spread over half-a-dozen pages to educate me on how I was wrong. He spoke for about 45 minutes before I sought permission to interrupt his speech and engage in a dialogue. At some point in this conversation he told me quite categorically that the army was more patriotic than the rest of us!
I wasn’t directly threatened at any point. However, I was informed, as a matter of historical record, that there was a time when the agency dealt with people only with the stick; but now things were different. During the meeting I felt obliged to reiterate my fidelity and loyalty to my country and was later ashamed and angry with myself for doing so.
I did not walk away from the ISI headquarters with a sense that this was another free exchange of ideas with a state official who disagreed with my opinion on how best to secure our national interest. In what is hard to describe accurately, I felt an eerie sense of anxiety and a need to protect my back. Not from the Taliban or terror groups but from the same security apparatus that is mandated by law to protect and defend my constitutional right to life, liberty and physical security. …..
Read more: The News
My Sindh: By Najmul Hasan
“My Sindh”, memoirs by journalist, Najmul Hasan. His family travels from India to Shikarpur in Sindh, first impressions of his new hometown, the welcome, hospitality & the help his family receives from Sindhis, his father’s first job through Shams-ul-Ulama, Dr Umar bin Mohammad Daudpoto & the story of a “potli ….
Read more : Indus Herald
HEC: Story Of Gross Injustices To Smaller Provinces
HEC injustices: Out of the total of 61 scholarships, no scholarship was awarded to any university in Balochistan while only one scholarship was awarded to a student from the University of Karachi, Sindh. 36 scholarships went to Punjab, 19 to Islamabad and 5 to Pakhtoonkhwa.
By Aijaz Ahmed
Islamabad: The country witnessed a high drama in the past few weeks as certain people with vested interests, some pro-establishment media hawks, bureaucrats and few so-called intellectuals created uncalled for hype and misgivings against the government decision to devolve the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan & hand over some of its powers to the provinces according to the 18th Constitutional Amendment. The opposition has cowed down the present government, weak as it is, and it may delay the devolution of a federal agency, which doesn’t have any justification to exist anymore. The education is a provincial subject and all the relevant subjects need to be transferred to the provinces, sooner the better.
Higher Education Commission like all other federal departments and agencies has been widely accused of following policies detrimental to smaller provinces. It is also accused of gross injustices in awarding scholarships and carrying out other projects completely ignoring the smaller provinces.
Read more : Indus Herald
– Pratap Mehta: Pakistan’s Perpetual Identity Crisis
The reconsideration of partition is a critical, current existential question not only for South Asians, but also for Americans who watch the continuous outrages from Taliban and CIA sanctuaries inside Pakistan. It’s a question on many levels — terrorism, geopolitics, ethnicity and religion — but, Pratap Mehta says, “it’s fundamentally the question of the identity of a country.”
In his telling of the partition story, the contemporary reality of Pakistan grew out of a failure to answer a core challenge of creating a nation-state: how do you protect a minority? It’s Mehta’s view that the framers of the modern subcontinent — notably Gandhi, Jinnah & Nehru — never imagined a stable solution to this question. He blames two shortcomings of the political discourse at the time of India’s independence:
The first is that it was always assumed that the pull of religious identities in India is so deep that any conception of citizenship that fully detaches the idea of citizenship from religious identity is not going to be a tenable one.
The second is that Gandhi in particular, and the Congress Party in general, had a conception of India which was really a kind of federation of communities. So the Congress Party saw [the creation of India] as about friendship among a federation of communities, not as a project of liberating individuals from the burden of community identity to be whatever it is that they wished to be.
The other way of thinking about this, which is to think about a conception of citizenship where identities matter less to what political rights you have, that was never considered seriously as a political project. Perhaps that would have provided a much more ideologically coherent way of dealing with the challenges of creating a modern nation-state. – – Pratap Bhanu Mehta with Chris Lydon at the Watson Institute, April 12, 2011.
Unlike many other Open Source talkers on Pakistan, Pratap Mehta does not immediately link its Islamization to the United States and its1980s jihad against the Soviets. Reagan and his CIA-Mujahideen military complex were indeed powerful players in the rise of Islamic extremism in Pakistan, he agrees, but the turn began first during a national identity crisis precipitated by another partition, the creation of Bangladesh in 1971.
Suddenly, Mehta is telling us, Pakistan could no longer define itself as the unique homeland for Muslims in the subcontinent. In search of identity, and distinction from its new neighbor to the east, Pakistan turned towards a West Asian brand of Islam, the hardline Saudi Wahhabism that has become a definitive ideology in today’s Islamic extremism.
Mehta is hopeful, though, that in open democratic elections Islamic parties would remain relatively marginalized, that despite the push to convert Pakistan into a West Asian style Islamic state since 1971, “the cultural weight of it being a South Asian country” with a tradition of secular Islam “remains strong enough to be an antidote.”
by Yoginder Sikand
Zehra Cyclewala is a leading figure in the reformist movement against the tyranny of Syedna Burhanuddin, the head-priest (dai-e mutlaq) of the Daudi Bohra Ismaili Shia sect. Here, in a conversation with Yoginder Sikand, she relates the story of her decades-long personal struggle against priestly tyranny.
The Syedna turns 100 this month, and massive celebrations are being organized by his followers across the world to project him as a popular and pious leader. Zehra’s life tells a different story, however.
My name is Zehra Cyclewala. I am 55 years old, and have lived in Surat for most of my life. I was born in an orthodox, lower middle-class Dawoodi Bohra family. My parents had five children, and I was the youngest child. In the mid-1980s, soon after I completed my education—I did my graduation in Commerce—I joined the Saif Cooperative Society in Surat, a bank established in the 1960s by a group of Bohra traders. It was inaugurated by the Bohra head priest Syedna Burhanuddin himself, and enjoyed his blessings. I started work there as a clerk, and, gradually, rose to become its manager.
From the very beginning, the Saif Cooperative Society gave and took interest. The Syedna naturally knew of this, and he had no problem with it, although some Muslims believe that even bank interest is forbidden or haraam in Islam. However, two years after I joined the bank, the Syedna issued a fatwa claiming that bank interest was forbidden, and demanded that the Bohras working in our bank leave their jobs at once. All the staff of the bank was Bohras at that time. Because the Bohras believe the word of the Syedna to be almost like divinely-inspired law, they hurriedly complied with his order and quit their jobs. I was the only one to refuse. After all, I thought, when, from the time the bank was established till the Syedna had issued this fatwa, the bank had been giving and taking interest, and the Syedna knew about this all along, how come he had suddenly decided or realized that such interest was haraam? The Syedna himself had inaugurated the bank, and when he did so he had no problem with it dealing in interest. There was something fishy in this fatwa, I felt.
Despite enormous pressure to leave the job, I refused. I lived with my mother, Fuliben Taherali, in Surat, and was the sole source of her support, because my father had died when I was 20. I simply could not do without this job. So, despite the Syedna’s order, I stuck on. The District Cooperative Society Board appointed a non-Bohra administrator—a man called Mr. Daru—to run the bank, and I worked under him. My defiance of the Syedna’s orders was not liked by the Bohras of Surat, and soon complaints about me reached the Syedna’s religious establishment—the Kothar. …
… I appeal to the Government, political parties, intellectuals and social activists, and to people in general to see through this charade of the Syedna and his cronies, who have been twisting Islam in order to promote their own interests. I ask them to stop supporting and patronizing these men. …
Read more : Wichaar
by Sher Ali Khan
A few days ago, the progressive-leaning parliamentarian Shabaz Bhatti was shot down in cold blood for advocating a moderated stance against a draconian law in Pakistan. The changing societal dynamics comes in the backdrop of a struggling democratic government, which is failing to assert itself for Pakistan’s survival.
It was almost a month ago when I wrote a report for the Express Tribune about the Christian community yearning for a ‘more tolerant’ Lahore. After exploring various pockets of the society, it was sad to see that the community had become insolent and rather afraid to even interact with general population.
If one spoke to historians regarding the character of Lahore say not sixty but thirty years ago, one would have found a completely different social structure in Lahore. Though Islam had rapidly become a majority entity, communal activities were not exclusive rather they were inclusive.
The story of Pakistan’s road down the conception of Islamic state has only hardened differences between various communities to the point Pakistanis cannot be considered Pakistanis without obeying to a certain brands of Islam.
For years, the army and the ISI have provided safe havens for militant groups as part of a greater plan to maintain a strategic and military presence in Kashmir and Afghanistan. It is clear with the confirmed death of Colonel Imam, the so-called father of the Taliban that the dynamics of these relationships have changed over time. Increasingly these militant groups have become rouge thus functioning beyond the scope of the state. …
Read more : View Point
by Raymond Turney
It’s actually pretty hard to figure out what will happen as a result of the Raymond Davis incident, because Raymond Davis is not just a security guy/probable US intelligence operative (maybe he works for the CIA, but he might also work for the DIA, which is a part of the military) who killed two people. He is also a symbol of US dominance over Pakistan.
So for Pakistanis who tilt toward the Chinese (a much more reliable ally for the Pakistan Army than the US), or are Islamists his killings tap into a much deeper issue than whether one spy should be allowed to kill two other people, who were probably also spies. The issue is, what should the Americans be allowed to do?
From an American perspective, Raymond Davis may be doing work against AQ/Taliban types that the ISI should be doing. The ISI is refusing to do what to an American seems to be obviously the job of a national intelligence agency. So the Americans decided to do it themselves. When something went wrong, the Pakistanis promptly made things much worse, rather then quickly releasing the guy using his cover story. So from the American viewpoint, the case raises the issue of whether Pakistan is really willing to fight the Islamists.
I strongly suspect that the cover story leaves a fair amount to be desired. To the Pakistanis, the failure to have a decent cover story may seem like an insult. To the Americans, it’s a war and the cover story really isn’t important anyway.
There is also another issue, which is that demanding diplomatic immunity for someone who kills two people may remind Pakistanis of the British colonial occupation. While it probably isn’t widely sensed as an explicit parallel many middle and upper class Pakistanis remember the Brits, and not with fondness. One of the few things Indians and Pakistanis agree on is to blame the Brits … and US attitudes are a lot more like the old attitudes of the Brits than we in the US like to think.
So un one level it is a murder case, but on another level it raises bigger issues.
Besides possessing a mastery of the Punjabi language and comprehensive knowledge of all aspects of life, Waris Shah’s greatness lies in his philosophical discourse. He understood the role of the different institutions of 18th century of Punjab (and India) and used the epic Heer Ranjha story to debate and expose them.
His technique, as shown by Najm Husain Syed, is to show an institution from a distance and then take you inside. From a distance every institution looks perfect but from inside it is dirty and rotten. In the process, Waris Shah exposed the institution of property, qaza (judiciary), religion (through mullah and qazi), capitalism (mallah), and feudalism (Heer’s father, Jog and the crown (raja) …
Read more : Wichaar
Sharia Laws — Heavy Deception With Abusive Divinity
The dogmas of Fatwa and Sharia Laws still dominate million of Muslim lives
by Mesbah Uddin
No doubt, early Islam possessed many fine and noble attributes. But Islam couldn’t have swept Arabia and its adjacent lands so fabulously if Sharia Laws and Fatwa had been the models of Islamic edicts at that time.
It is an irony to iron-out the deep wrinkles of Islam, we know today. Corrupted beliefs are too profoundly ingrained in Islam. The dogmas of Fatwa and Sharia Laws still dominate million of Muslim lives and the vulnerable ones get succumb to Fatwa’s claws.
A year before his death and before the Koran was compiled, Prophet Muhammad made his last pilgrimage from Medina to Mecca. There He made a great sermon to his people. The sermon breathed a spirit of generosity. The Muslims created a society more free from widespread cruelty and social oppression than any society had ever been in the world before.
But that was then – the prophetic Islam. Today, Islam encompasses numerous fragments, interpretations and the dreadful echoes of Sharia Laws. The Sharia Laws are much heavier on one side. It is the side that is not the Koran but the Hadith. It might surprize the readers that “stoning to death” cannot be traced anywhere in the Koran, but it is profusely enshrined in the pages of the Hadith. Obviously the Hadith narrators borrowed it from a famous story in the Christian Bible – the New Testament, and passed it in the name of Prophet Muhammad.
The story (John: 8) tells us that some Jewish crowd brought a woman who had been caught in adultery. They made her stand before Jesus, and then said to him: “Now, master, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. According to the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women to death. Now, what do you say about it?’ After they persisted in their questioning, Jesus finally straightened up and said simply, “Let the one among you who has never sinned throw the first stone at her.” …
Read more : Bangladesh-web
– Pakistani media publish fake WikiLeaks cables attacking India
Comments alleged to be from WikiLeaks US embassy cables say Indian generals are genocidal and New Delhi backs militants
– Declan Walsh in Islamabad
They read like the most extraordinary revelations. Citing the WikiLeaks cables, major Pakistani newspapers this morning carried stories that purported to detail eye-popping American assessments of India‘s military and civilian leaders.
According to the reports, US diplomats described senior Indian generals as vain, egotistical and genocidal; they said India’s government is secretly allied with Hindu fundamentalists; and they claimed Indian spies are covertly supporting Islamist militants in Pakistan‘s tribal belt and Balochistan.
“Enough evidence of Indian involvement in Waziristan, Balochistan,” read the front-page story in the News; an almost identical story appeared in the Urdu-language Jang, Pakistan’s bestselling daily.
If accurate, the disclosures would confirm the worst fears of Pakistani nationalist hawks and threaten relations between Washington and New Delhi. But they are not accurate.
An extensive search of the WikiLeaks database by the Guardian by date, name and keyword failed to locate any of the incendiary allegations. It suggests this is the first case of WikiLeaks being exploited for propaganda purposes.
The controversial claims, published in four Pakistani national papers, were credited to the Online Agency, an Islamabad-based news service that has frequently run pro-army stories in the past. No journalist is bylined.
Shaheen Sehbai, group editor at the News, described the story as “agencies’ copy” and said he would investigate its origins. …
Read more : Guardian.co.uk
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More details about Fake WikiLeaks : BBC urdu
A young man fulfills all his promises made to his beloved he shapes his life according to her innocent desires. He promises her to become very rich and become what her wants him to be… but at what cost??