Tag Archives: Taseer

Malala asks Pakistan to recreate itself

The attack on Malala has pushed liberal Pakistan to re-ascertain its face. However, the important thing to see is whether Pakistan restructures itself as a liberal moderate democracy.

THE TALIBAN attacked Malal Yousafzai due to her denial of their barbaric codes of self-described and imposed religious taboos. Unlike on the brutal murder of Salman Taseer, the people of Pakistan vociferously denounced this heinous act and stood by her – a good omen for the country, which is living in misery between devil and the deep sea.

Pakistan, which has been historically an Indus country in the past, and once was known as Sindh, have a deep background of secular ethos that until the recent past remained unchanged. The beginning of perversion in Pakistan kicked off with the adaptation of state-religion. In the social and cultural context, it began when the people of Pakistan were pushed through socio-cultural engineering by imposing Arab terminologies in spite of the local ones – replacement of Maseet with the Arabic word Masjid for a mosque and word Khuda with Allah for the God. It was the cultural fanaticism, which came first through sponsored Tabligh (preaching) and was gradually introduced during General Ziaul Haq period when he started altering historical Indian cultural roots of Pakistan and resisted possible Iranian influence- thus the Arabic terminologies, and Salafi school of thought was blended with the Sunni Hanafya majority of the country.

Continue reading Malala asks Pakistan to recreate itself

Why Pakistanis Won’t Speak Out Against Blasphemy Law

By: Tahir Gora

The arrest of 11-year-or-so-old Christian girl, Rimsha Masih, in Pakistan in connection with the blasphemy charges has shocked the world but not Pakistan and majority Pakistanis.

For instance, a Pakistani Canadian from Mississauga, Ontario Canada wrote on the Internet in the wake of this senseless arrest, “Lets fight against the terrorism of USA and support the cause of AAFIA SIDDIQUE (a Pakistani lady convicted and jailed in the USA for assault with intent to murder her U.S. interrogators in Afghanistan)”, he stated further, “I am 100% sure that nothing will happen to the girl (Rimsha) and she will be released, not to worry.”

While undermining the arrest of poor little Rimsha and provoking dispute in Aafia conviction case, that Pakistani-Canadian fellow completely forgot that a Pakistani Christian lady, Asia Bibi, a mother of five is still behind the bars. She received a sentence of death by a Pakistani court in connection of Blasphemy Law in November 2010.

Continue reading Why Pakistanis Won’t Speak Out Against Blasphemy Law

How long and how many more liberals you will kill? You can crush all of us. But you can’t stop the spiring.

Pakistan’s musician Taimur Laal on massacres of liberals in the “Land of the Pure” by the “guardians of the Religion of Peace!?” Laal’s video on the trials, tribulations, and sacrifices of the people of Pakistan in the struggle against extremism in our society.  Religio-fascists! how do you claim that the battle is over in which we have not even taken the very first step! You can crush All of us. But you can not stop the spring.

Poet: Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Directed by Dr. Taimur Rahman.

Courtesy: Laal » YouTube

The Talibanisation of Society in Pakistan

Abandoned by their government, the poor of Pakistan have turned to the Taliban and other fundamentalist groups for support and solace. At the same time, a growing pressure for emancipation presses against fundamentalism. Which force will triumph? A report based on travel in rural Sindh.

By: Jan Breman (J.C.Breman@uva.nl) is professor emeritus at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Sciences, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

In her prison cell, Asia Bibi is waiting since 2010 for execution of the verdict brought against her. Blasphemy is the crime she has been accused of and for that gravest of sins the penalty is to be hanged. Why and how was she found guilty?

Asia Bibi is an agricultural labourer in Punjab, illiterate, mother of small children and Christian. When at work in the field as part of a female gang, she went to fetch water to drink and passed around the jug to her fellow workers. A few of them refused, saying that having touched her mouth, the spout had become unclean. Asia belongs to a low caste of Hindu origin that has been converted to Christianity. This attempt to escape from the stigma of untouchability has not ended the discrimination to which she is subjected.

Continue reading The Talibanisation of Society in Pakistan

Blasphemy: Mob burns man alive

Blasphemy: Mob burns man alive for burning Holy Quran

By Kashif Zafar

BAHAWALPUR: An angry mob lynched a man accused of burning the Holy Quran in the Chanighot area of Bahawalpur, burning him to death after pouring petrol on him on Wednesday.

The police reached the spot to control the matter but the mob refused to hand over the accused and continued to torture him.

Continue reading Blasphemy: Mob burns man alive

New Prime Minister of Pakistan Raja Pervaiz Ashraf was born in Sindh and speaks Sindhi but he was elected in Punjab

Zardari bowls out opponents once again

by Omar Derawal

Asif Ali Zardari has been underestimated from day one. The shrewd businessman has proved not only to be a master of the boardroom, but of political strategy as well. Nominating Raja Pervaiz Ashraf as Prime Minister after losing successive wickets appears his latest triumph. And, as with his previous deliveries, this one too seems to have outwitted the opposition.

Nawaz Sharif termed Raja Pervaiz’s election as ‘tragedy’, but perhaps the PML-N chief was thinking of his own political fortunes. After all, Raja Pervaiz was born in Sindh and speaks Sindhi, but he was elected in Punjab. Even the carefully staged energy riots look a little bit awkward with a new Prime Minister who, as Minister of Water and Power, added more Megawatts to the national grid than anyone since the government of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.

Imran Khan too seems to have been outplayed in this innings as he finds himself with a Vice-Chairman from a feudal family while Asif Zardari has a Prime Minister who rose through party ranks from a middle class background. By nominating Raja Pervaiz, Zardari has also neutralised Khan’s nationalistic appeals to security hawks. Though a liberal himself, Raja Pervaiz is strong on national security. In his first speech as PM, he declared that there can be no peace in Pakistan without peace in Afghanistan, sending a clear signal that the government continues to be united on defending Pakistan’s priorities.

Qamar Zaman Kaira’s stellar performances on talk shows had many PPP supports hoping he would pull off a surprise win, but it’s Kaira’s unmatched ability to silence the chattering heads that made him indispensable as Information Minister. Some suggested the name of Hina Rabbani Khar, too – but her deft handling of foreign affairs means that she too is more needed where she is. What is impressive about this debate among PPP supporters is that despite losing such figures as Benazir Bhutto, Salmaan Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti, Husain Haqqani, Yousaf Gilani, and Makhdoom Shahabuddin, PPP still has such a deep line-up from which to draw new players.

Politics is a test match – not T20. You have to play a long term strategy if you want to win. Zardari’s opposition thought they could force him to retire early, but he proved too skilled for that. Now they are praying for a draw. But with this latest innings, Zardari has shown once again it’s the opposition who is still chasing.

Courtesy: new Pakistan

Manto and Sindh – Excellent write up of Haider Nizamani, it helps to understand why Sindh is tolerant and secular society in nature.

Punjab at the time of partition in 1947.

Manto and Sindh

By Haider Nizamani

SINDH has no equivalent of Saadat Hasan Manto as a chronicler of Partition. And the absence of a Manto-like figure in Sindhi literature on that count is good news. It shows the resilience of Sindh’s tolerant culture at a time when Punjab had slipped into fratricidal mayhem.

While Amrita Pritam called out for Waris Shah to rise up from the grave to witness the blood-drenched rivers of Punjab, Sindhi woman writers such as Sundari Uttamchandani were not forced to ask Shah Latif to do the same.

The tragedy of Partition inflicted different types of pain on the Punjabi and Sindhi communities and these peculiarities shadowed and shaped post-Partition communal relations between people of different faiths who traced their roots to these regions. What Manto endured and witnessed in 1947 and afterwards, became, through his eloquent writings, simultaneously an elegy and indictment of Punjab losing its sense of humanity at the altar of religious politics. The political air in Sindh was filled with religious demagogy but it did not turn into a communal orgy.

Urdu literati and historians interested in Partition and its impact on the subcontinent have used Manto’s birth centennial, that was recently observed, to remind us of his scathing sketches of lives destroyed by Partition. Ayesha Jalal in her essay ‘He wrote what he saw — and took no sides’ published in the May issue of Herald, writes Manto “looked into the inner recesses of human nature…” to “fathom the murderous hatred that erupted with such devastating effect” …in “his own home province of Punjab at the dawn of a long-awaited freedom”.

There was no eruption of murderous hatred between Sindhi Hindus and Muslims. They did not lynch each other en masse as was the case in Punjab. The violence against Sindhi Hindus and their mass migration to India was a tragic loss scripted, orchestrated and implemented by non-Sindhis in Sindh. As result of varying trajectories of interfaith relations during the Partition period, the intelligentsia of Sindh and Punjab evolved and adopted different views towards Hindus and India.

The collective memory of the Partition days in Punjab is marked more by the stories and silence of the victims and perpetrators of violence. Even the journey towards the safer side was fraught with danger. People who survived had bitter memories of the ‘other’.

The Sindh story is not the same. Ram Jethmalani, a leading lawyer in India today and a member of the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was a young advocate in Karachi in 1947. His senior partner was none other than A.K. Brohi, a right-wing Sindhi lawyer who became federal law minister during the Zia period.

Jethmalani has no compunction in saying that there was no love lost between the two because of Partition. Jethmalani stayed back in Karachi and only left for Mumbai in 1948 when Brohi told him he could not take responsibility for his safety as the demography of Karachi had changed with the arrival of migrants from the northern Indian plains. That arrival was accompanied by violence against Sindhi Hindus.

Kirat Babani, a card-carrying communist, chose to stay in Sindh after 1947 and was thrown in prison in 1948. Released 11 months on the condition of leaving Karachi within 24 hours, Kirat took up a job with Comrade Hyder Bux Jatoi, pioneer of the peasant struggle in Sindh. The administration pressured Jatoi for harbouring an atheist. Jatoi advised, much against his desire, Kirat to go to India. Even the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) that groomed L.K. Advani, a native of Karachi who later became India’s deputy prime minister, acknowledges that Sindhi Muslims did not push Hindus out of the province.

Continue reading Manto and Sindh – Excellent write up of Haider Nizamani, it helps to understand why Sindh is tolerant and secular society in nature.

SAPAC efforts for Rinkal Case

March 30, 2012 – SAPAC, Washington, DC: On 24th February, 2012 , a young Hindu girl named Rinkel Kumari was abducted from her home in a small village in Sindh, Pakistan. It was a full twelve hours before her family discovered where she was. Rinkel, aged 19, had been forced to change her religion to Islam and to marry a young man named Naveed Shah. Her parents immediately filled a first information report and brought her case before a civil judge. The court house was surrounded by thugs and supporters of the Pakistani Peoples’ Party Member of the National Assembly (PPP MNA) who was assisting Naveed. Under tremendous pressure, and obvious duress, Rinkel testified that she had married and converted to Islam of her own will. The judge released her into Naveed’s custody. Unsatisfied with the verdict, the Hindu community in Sindh rallied together to demand justice for Rinkel and other Hindu girls who had faced the same fate.

Continue reading SAPAC efforts for Rinkal Case

Kidnapping Of Hindu Girls On The Rise In Pakistan

KARACHI – Lata Kumar, a medical student on her way to college, was kidnapped earlier this week by unidentified persons from a busy Karachi street in the upmarket Defence Housing Area. In February in a similar incident, Rinkle Kumari was abducted in Mirpur Mathelo, a small town in rural Sindh. Both women, Hindus by faith, are feared to have been converted to Islam and married off.

The rise in the number of reports of Hindu girls being kidnapped or made to convert to Islam has sparked concern from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).

At the launch of its report on minorities in Pakistan titled ‘Perils of Faith’ earlier this month,the HRCP’s Amarnath Motumal said minor girls and married women are kidnapped and then converted to Islam.

“They kidnap girls who are younger than 15 but they say they are adults and that the girls have accepted Islam and been married of their own free will,” he said. He also pointed out that no one is supporting the Hindu community on the issue. “We are Pakistanis first, and then Hindu. We earn enough and have food to eat but this conversion issue is not acceptable, it has discouraged Hindus in Pakistan.”

HRCP chief Zohra Yusuf noted that the “situation of religious minorities in Pakistan has grown worse over the last year. The government has not taken steps which could improve the status of minorities.”

“Minorities are not considered equal citizens in Pakistan. Some incidents that happened in 2011 have increased their vulnerability”, she said, citing the assassinations of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer and former federal minister for minorities affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti.

In front of the Karachi Press Club on Sunday, members of the minority communities, including Hindus, Christians and Sikhs protested. “Give us our Rinkle back. Give us the daughter of Sindh back,” demanded the relatives of the 17-year-old girl.

Courtesy: http://thelinkpaper.ca/?p=14962

A country for bigotry

Land of bigots

By Tazeen Javed

It has been a year since Shahbaz Bhatti passed away. No, strike that, he did not pass away; his life was brutally cut short when he was murdered. Everyone from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to the Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan have been suspected with his murder, either by the police officials, or by the home ministry, yet no decent progress has been made.

In a way, it all makes sense, since only certain kinds of angry groups of men, who bay for blood and destruction, seem to carry any weight around here. Bhatti was NOT that kind of a man. He believed in fighting for rights the democratic way and had planned to introduce legislation that would ban hate speech and hate literature against all. He was campaigning for official holidays for minorities’ religious festivals and wanted the blasphemy law to be repealed which turned out to be a crime worthy of death.

Bhatti’s death is not a lone incidence of brutal violence. Planned acts of aggression and cruelty against minorities — whether ethnic, religious, sectarian or communal — is becoming a norm in the ‘Land of the Pure’. Intolerance has reached such levels that people with names that revealed their sectarian or religious beliefs are afraid to use them when they feel unsafe. Slain journalist, Mukarram Khan Atif narrated one such incident, which depicted the extent of narrow-mindedness and fanaticism in the country. He and another reporter were travelling south from Mohmand Agency through Khyber Agency and one of them had to use a name that would make him pass off as a member of the majority sect.

The minority communities — no matter who they are and where they are living — are constantly under threat. We have cases of forced conversions of Hindu girls, mostly minors in Sindh who are forcefully abducted and married to Muslim men and then presented to the court as religious converts. According to a treasury member of the Sindh Assembly, around 20 to 25 forced conversions take place every month in the province.

Acts of mob violence against Ahmadis seem to be rising at an alarming rate. The situation is such that any Ahmadi family is at risk of being threatened with the blasphemy law. Their places of worship are gunned and/or ransacked and the law-enforcement community and the state does nothing and silently looks on.

The perpetrators of the Gojra incident, where a whole Christian colony was burnt down, still roam free and the Hazaras in Balochistan are regularly targeted for their sectarian and ethnic identity. Also, nothing is done to check the dissemination of hate literature, some of which can be found even in mainstream bookstores. Last week’s tragic shooting of passengers travelling on a bus to Gilgit on the Karakoram Highway, where people were asked to show their CNICs and then taken off and killed — all of them were Shia — shows that we have reached an even higher level of prejudice and bigotry.

It would not be wrong to say that intolerance rules our society and no one is safe here in this country other than the men who perpetuate bias, bigotry and hatred?

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2012.

Pakistan is beautiful – and it’s mine

By Shehrbano Taseer

2011 was a bleak year for Pakistan — even by its own harrowing standards.

My father, Governor SalmaanTaseer, was assassinated by his own fanatical security guard in January for his stand on Pakistan’s cruel blasphemy laws, and minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian in the federal cabinet, was gunned down in March allegedly by the Punjabi Taliban for holding a similar view. In April, five of the six men accused of gang raping village woman Mukhtar Mai on the orders of a village council of elders were set free by the Supreme Court. Since the sexual assault on her in 2001, Mai has braved death threats to have her victimisers punished. She has appealed the verdict, but the court, it is widely believed, is unlikely to reverse the acquittal.

In May, Pakistanis around the world hung their heads in shame as Osama bin Laden was found and killed in sleepy, sedate Abbottabad, a stone’s throw from our premier military academy where Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani spoke just weeks earlier declaring that the “terrorists’ back” had been broken.Then the tortured body of journalist Saleem Shahzad was discovered and suspicion fell on the country’s intelligence services. Pakistan had yet to recover from the devastation wrought by the 2010 floods when the August monsoons inundated Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and especially Sindh affecting tens of million of people. My older brother, Shahbaz, was kidnapped on August 26. It’s January 2012 now and he is still missing.

These are just some of the highlights from a ruefully eventful year. All of these events played out against the cacophonous discord that we have become accustomed to: target killings, routine disappearances in Kashmir and Balochistan, suicide bombings, riots decrying the overall economic condition of the country, protests mourning the loss of Pakistan’s sovereignty, the unsettling hum of rote learning at poisonous madrassas.

But there’s nothing that’s bad about Pakistan that can’t be fixed by what’s good about it. The narrative of lost hope is a tired one.

After the Arab Spring, the first question I was asked by journalists and interviewers was “When will it be Pakistan’s turn?”. General Zia tried hard to convince us that we’re Arabs, but we clearly are not. Watching Muammar Qaddafi’s bloodied and bullet-riddled body paraded up and down streets as protesters cheered, and seeing desperate dictators inflict violence on their own people, I realised that in many ways Pakistan is far ahead. Our transition from a dictatorship to a democracy was relatively smooth — no bloodshed, no political prisoners, no violence. And in 2010 — long before the Arab Spring — Pakistan’s nascent democracy returned the powers usurped by dictators back to parliament with the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, passed unanimously in parliament. As a people, we are more critical, more engaged. We believe in peaceful evolution of existing structures, not revolution. A record number of people have registered to vote in the upcoming elections and the deadline isn’t even up yet. We’ve snatched our democracy back and we’re not letting it go.

Continue reading Pakistan is beautiful – and it’s mine

US government website shows that the Sunni Ittehad Council received $36,607 from Washington in 2009 under the State Department’s Public Diplomacy Programmes

US aid to Sunni Ittehad Council backfired

By Huma Imtiaz

WASHINGTON: The United States gave money to the Sunni Ittehad Council to organise anti-Taliban rallies in 2009; however, the council later led demonstrations in support of Mumtaz Qadri, the self-confessed killer of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, in an apparent boomerang of US policy to support religious moderation in Pakistan.

US government website Usaspending.gov shows that the Sunni Ittehad Council received $36,607 from Washington in 2009 under the State Department’s Public Diplomacy Programmes for Afghanistan and Pakistan. …

Read more » The Express Tribune

CIA agents in Pakistan

By Najam Sethi

These are difficult times for professional journalists in Pakistan. Eleven were killed last year in the line of duty. They were either caught in the crossfire of ethnic or extremist violence or targeted and eliminated by state and non-state groups for their political views.

Saleem Shehzad, for example, was abducted, tortured and killed last year and a commission of inquiry is still floundering in murky waters. He had exposed the infiltration of the armed forces by elements affiliated with Al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Several journalists from Balochistan have been killed by non-state vigilantes sponsored by state agencies, others have fled to Europe or USA because they had sympathies with the nationalist cause in the province. Some from Karachi have taken refuge abroad because they were threatened by ethnic or sectarian groups or parties.

Now an insidious campaign is afoot to target senior journalists who question the wisdom of the security establishment on a host of thorny issues. They are being labeled as “American-CIA agents”. This is an incitement to violence against them in the highly charged anti-American environment in Pakistan today. Consider.

If you say the military’s notion of “strategic depth” in Afghanistan is misplaced, outdated or counter-productive, you are a CIA agent.

If you say the military was either complicit or incompetent in the OBL-Abbottabad case, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that the civilians should have control over the military as stipulated in the constitution, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that the military shouldn’t enter into peace deals with the Taliban that enable them to reorganize and seize Pakistani territory, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that the drones have taken a welcome toll of extremist Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that the military’s annual defense budget, which amounts to nearly half of all tax revenues, should be scrutinized by parliament or the Auditor General of Pakistan, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that the one and same resignation criterion should be applied to both Ambassador Husain Haqqani and DG-ISI Ahmed Shuja Pasha – the former is accused of trying to influence the American government to back up the civilian government of Pakistan in its attempt to establish civilian control over its army and the latter is accused of seeking the support of Arab regimes for the overthrow of the civilian regime ( both accusations come from one and the same individual) – you are a CIA agent.

If you say we should construct a social welfare state in place of a national security state, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that fundamental citizens rights enshrined in the constitution cannot be violated at the altar of a narrow definition of national security defined exclusively by the security state, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that human rights violations in Balochistan carried out by the security agencies are as condemnable as the ethnic cleansing of Punjabi settlers by Baloch insurgents, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that Pakistan’s foreign policy should not be the exclusive domain of the military establishment, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that the Pakistan military’s conventional and nuclear weapons doctrine amounts to a crippling arms race with India rather than a minimal optimal defensive deterrence, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that the ISI is an unaccountable state within a state, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that belt-tightening measures to control budgetary deficits and inflation should apply to wasteful aspects of defense expenditures no less than to wasteful aspects of civilian government expenditures, you are a CIA agent.

If you say that the Supreme Court should pull out Air Marshal Asghar Khan’s ISI-Mehrangate 1991 case from cold storage and adjudge it along with the Memogate 2011 case, you are a CIA agent.

The irony is that the Pakistan military remains the single largest recipient of American aid in the last sixty five years. The irony is that all military coups in Pakistan have drawn legal and political sustenance from America. The irony is that the Pakistani military has signed more defense pacts and agreements with America than all civilian governments to date. The irony is the Pakistan military has partnered America in Afghanistan in the 1980s, fought its war on terror and leased out Pakistani air bases and Pakistan air space corridors to America in the 2000s, and sent hundreds of officers for training and education to America in the last six decades.

The greater irony is that all those liberal, progressive, anti-imperialist Pakistani citizens who have opposed US hegemony and protested American military interventions in the Third World all their lives are today branded as CIA agents by the very state security agencies and non state religious parties and jehadi groups who have taken American money and weapons and done America’s bidding all their lives.

Courtesy: Friday Times

http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta2/tft/article.php?issue=20120106&page=1

PAKISTAN – Roses for a killer

Can Pakistan step back from the brink?

One year ago, Pakistan was shaken when leading politician Salman Taseer was murdered by his own bodyguard. His violent death and the lack of government response were merely the beginning of a turbulent year for the country. Writer Ahmed Rashid considers whether Pakistan can step back from the brink in 2012.

The death of Salman Taseer, governor of Punjab province, now appears as both the start and the symbol of the political, economic and social unravelling of Pakistan that has taken place since that fateful 4 January day.

The gruesome aftermath of his death, when the governing Pakistan People’s Party, the army, the mullahs and civil society appeared to deny the reality of what had happened, made many Pakistanis ashamed of their rulers.

Roses for a killer

Mumtaz Qadri, an elite police force member, pumped 27 bullets into the politician as he was walking back to his car after lunch at an Islamabad restaurant. ….

Read more » BBC

Husain Haqqani interview: ‘If I leave my house, I fear I will be killed’

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s embattled former ambassador to Washington, fears he will be murdered if he leaves his sanctuary in the official residence of the country’s prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani.

By Dean Nelson, South Asia Editor

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, he said he has been branded a ‘traitor’ and a ‘Washington lackey’ by ‘powerful quarters’ – a reference to the country’s powerful ISI intelligence agency – and that he now fears he will be murdered like his friend, the late governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, who was shot dead by one of his own security guards last year after being branded a ‘blasphemer.’ ….

Read more » the telegraph.co.uk

Salmaan Taseer: optimism assassinated – By Dr Mohammad Taqi

The snake-bitten 2011 comes to an end as I sit struggling to collect my thoughts. There are certain moments in life that one wishes one does not have to relive. That unusually dark and cold January 4, 2011 dawn in Florida was one such moment. I had turned on my phone first thing in the morning to get my daily news fix. But the banner headline was anything but a fix. Stunned, dazed and shocked; these words cannot begin to describe that overwhelming feeling. It was almost like I stood outside my body. It was not real.

Salmaan Taseer, the larger than life governor of the largest Pakistani province, Punjab, had been assassinated in broad daylight in Islamabad. The killer, Mumtaz Qadri, a member of the governor’s elite police guard, had pumped a magazine-full of bullets into Taseer, at point-blank range. The governor had died on the spot. I cannot help but think of Taseer’s December 31, 2010 message on the micro-blogging website Twitter: “Peace prosperity & happiness for new year (1 1 11) I’m full of optimism [sic].” ….

Read more » Daily Times

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More on Salmaan Taseer » BBC urdu

PAKISTAN: Killers are waiting for me, says Zardari aide

By Dean Nelson

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s embattled former ambassador to Washington, fears he will be murdered if he leaves his sanctuary in the official residence of the country’s prime minister, Yusuf Raza Gilani.

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph yesterday (Tuesday), he said he had been branded a traitor and a “Washington lackey” by “powerful quarters”: a reference to the country’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

He said that he feared he would be murdered like his friend Salman Taseer, the late governor of Punjab, who was shot dead by one of his own security guards last year after being branded a “blasphemer”. Mr Haqqani was forced to resign last year after a Pakistani-American businessman claimed to have been asked by the then ambassador to pass on a memo to the American government calling for help to oust Islamabad’s military leadership. ….

Read more » http://www.theaustralianeye.com/news/killers-are-waiting-for-me-says-zardari-aide-aoi35814190.html

Pakistan: bombs, spies and wild parties

By Declan Walsh

Even before you reach Pakistan there’s reason to fret. “Ladies and gentlemen, we will be landing shortly, inshallah,” says the Pakistan International Airlines pilot, 10 minutes outside Islamabad. To the western ear this ancient invocation – literally “God willing” – can be disconcerting: you pray the crew are relying on more than divine providence to set down safety. But these days it’s about right – Pakistan, a country buffeted by mysterious if not entirely holy forces, seems to have surrendered to its fate.

Viewed from the outside, Pakistan looms as the Fukushima of fundamentalism: a volatile, treacherous place filled with frothing Islamists and double-dealing generals, leaking plutonium-grade terrorist trouble. Forget the “world’s most dangerous country” moniker, by now old hat. Look to recent coverage: “Hornet’s Nest” declares this week’s Economist; “The Ally from Hell” proclaims the Atlantic.

Continue reading Pakistan: bombs, spies and wild parties

Pakistan: The State of Human Rights in 2011

The year 2011 was started with the killings of hundreds of persons including the killings of high profile personalities, the governor of a province and a federal minister of minority affairs, by the extremist religious groups who seeped in to the law enforcement agencies. The arrest of one Christian lady, Aasia Bibi, on Blasphemy’s baseless charges from some mosque leaders leads to the religious intolerance and fanaticism at its highest peak. The state played a dubious role to appease the religious extremism. state remained as silent spectator in the country and killings of Mr. Salman Taseer, former governor of Punjab province and former federal minister of minority affairs, a Christian minister in cabinet. The government’s ineptness to stop the religious and sectarian intolerance has strengthened the banned militant religious groups to organize and collect their funds in the streets and hold big rallies. This ineptness of the government has helped the forced conversion to Islam of girls from religious minority groups. In total thorough out the country during the year 1800 women from Hindu and Christian groups were forced to convert to Islam by different methods particularly though abduction and rape.

Read more » Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Countering Extremism in Pakistan

Countering Extremism in Pakistan: Need of Political Approach

By Jamil Junejo

ESCALATING sectarian and religious violence has made a disquieting situation for religious minorities in particular and other vulnerable sections of society in general in the country. In just less than a year, a number of such cases from murders of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer and Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti and mishandling of a 10-year-old Christian girl for her alleged misspelling of a word, the Sept 19 massacre of 26 Hazara Shia in Mastung to expulsion of Ahmedi students from a university in Punjab and scores of other such incidents have put the social, religious and sectarian harmony at peril.

Continue reading Countering Extremism in Pakistan

The judge, who had handed down two death sentences to Mumtaz Qadri for killing Punjab governor Salman Taseer, has left Pakistan along with his family after receiving death threats from jihadis

Qadri case judge sent abroad

by Zulqernain Tahir

LAHORE: The district and sessions judge, who had handed down two death sentences to Mumtaz Qadri for killing Punjab governor Salman Taseer, has left for Saudi Arabia along with his family after receiving death threats from extremists.

“The death threats have forced Judge Pervez Ali Shah to leave the country along with his family for Saudi Arabia,” Advocate Saiful Malook, the special prosecutor in the Qadri case, told Dawn on Monday.

He said sensing the gravity of the situation the government had arranged the lodging of Mr Shah and members of his family abroad. “Although security was provided to the judge and his family members, the government on the reports of law-enforcement agencies opted for sending him abroad,” he said.

There were also unconfirmed reports that extremist elements in religious parties had fixed the head money for the judge. “There were such reports but there was a potential threat to the life of Mr Shah and his family members,” he said.

Mr Malook said he also had been receiving threats to his life and urged the government to arrange adequate security. “The government has deployed only two policemen for my security which is not adequate,” he said.

Judge Pervez Ali Shah had said in his verdict: “No-one can be given the licence to kill anyone in any condition, therefore, the killer cannot be pardoned as he has committed a heinous crime.”

Assassin Qadri, a constable in the Punjab Police Elite Force, tried to justify the murder by stating that he had killed Mr Taseer for supporting Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman who the slain governor had projected as having been wrongly convicted of blasphemy. Qadri, who was on duty to guard Taseer, gunned him down outside a restaurant in Islamabad on Jan 4 this year. ….

Read more » DAWN.COM

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Courtesy » Aaj News Tv (Bolta Pakistan with Nusrat Javed and Mushtaq Minhas – 25th October 2011)

via » ZemTv » YouTube

Pakistan: Surrender to fanaticism

– Surrender to fanaticism

Today the orthodox clerics are supporting their quaint theory of private justice and denying a person’s accountability under the law on the ground that his action is not an offence under the Islamic code. How has this about-turn taken place?

By I.A. Rehman

Nobody should be surprised at the wave of protest unleashed by religio-political groups against the award of death sentence to the self-confessed assassin of Salmaan Taseer.

Continue reading Pakistan: Surrender to fanaticism

Pakistan – a nation immune to logic

Judge, jury and executioner

By Maheen Usmani, DAWN.COM

Once upon a time we were privileged to have barristers and lawyers like Justice M.R Kayani, Justice A.R Cornelius, Justice Dorab Patel and Mohammed Ali Jinnah- men who were the very embodiment of brilliance, hard work and gravitas. They were circumspect in their personal as well as public dealings and were a credit to the nation. Now our icons of the past must be turning in their graves at the unsightly spectacle of  furious lawyers attacking and ransacking Judge Pervez Ali Shah’s courtroom in Rawalpindi because of their opposition to the death penalty handed down to Salman Taseer’s assassin Mumtaz Qadri.

Read more » DAWN.COM

Rs30m demanded for Taseer’s son release

– By: Jam Sajjad Hussain

LAHORE – Commander Arif of Tehrik Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is holding the fate of Shahbaz Taseer, son of slain Governor Punjab Salman Taseer, demanding Rs 30 million as ransom money for his safe return, The Nation has learnt reliably.

Shahbaz Taseer, has been hidden somewhere in the provincial capital since his abduction, whereas his cell phone is being used by his abductors from Razmak, which is one of the three sub-divisions of North Waziristan Agency. ….

Read more → The Nation

The killer has no remorse

– Salmaan Taseer case: No remorse as defence wraps up arguments

By Mudassir Raja

RAWALPINDI: In their concluding remarks on Saturday, lawyers representing Malik Mumtaz Qadri, the self-confessed killer of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, tried to justify the high-profile assassination by saying the governor’s conduct was “unbecoming of a Muslim”.

Special Judge Anti-Terrorism Court-II Pervez Ali Shah put off the hearing in the case until October 1 after the lawyers representing Qadri said that if their client had not killed Taseer, someone else would have.

Special Public Prosecutor in the case, Saiful Malook, was absent from court on Saturday, though he is likely to make the prosecuting case on the next date of hearing.

Talking to the media after attending the hearing in Adiala Jail, Advocate Raja Shujaur Rehman, representing the accused, said they had argued before the court that the action of Qadri was as instantaneous as the statements of a public figure like the Punjab governor had been provocative. He added that Taseer’s conduct was against the sentiments of the common man.

The lawyer said the accused himself had tried to justify his act by presenting different passages of the Quran and Islamic teachings against blasphemy.

The governor’s statements against blasphemy laws, Rehman said, were also against the laws of the country but state machinery did not take any legal action against him.

Courtesy: →  The Express Tribune, September 25th, 2011.

Faith based Killing no crime – Jamaat e Islami

– Taseer`s killer committed no crime: JI

PESHAWAR, Feb 2: Jamaat-i-Islami Senator Prof Muhammad Ibrahim said on Wednesday that former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer was responsible for his comments about the blasphemy law, which led to his killing, and the accused Malik Mumtaz Qadri should be released.

“The accused Malik Mumtaz Qadri has committed no crime and he should be released,” said Prof Ibrahim, who is also the JI provincial amir, while speaking at a press conference at Al-Markaz-i-Islami here.

He asked the government to stop supporting Nato forces and reject American pressure for military operations in parts of the country. He expressed grave concern over the killing of three Pakistani citizens by an American national in Lahore and asked for awarding capital punishment to him. ….

Read more → DAWN.COM

Drivers of social change & mass awareness

by Waseem Altaf

The social media is now impacting the political scene in Pakistan too. The press conference of Zulfiqar Mirza and the recent speech of Altaf Hussain are thoroughly being discussed on the social media. Earlier the murder of Governor Salaman Taseer turned Facebook into a battleground between his supporters and opponents

Earlier civilizations relied on the oral tradition to pass on advice and knowledge from one generation to the next. The human development took a giant leap when man developed writing systems around 3200 BC. Human experience could now be preserved to be transmitted to posterity in a more organized and systematic manner. However handwritten material was restricted to a privileged class with tremendous influence of the clergy on the content. …

Read more → ViewPoint

Terrible news – Shahbaz Taseer abducted from Lahore

Shahbaz Taseer abducted from Lahore, police commandos start search operation

By Asad Kharal / Express

LAHORE: Police commandos have launched a search operation in upscale areas of Lahore including Defence, Gulberg and Model Town in connection to Shahbaz Taseer’s kidnapping on Friday. Earlier, the CIA had arrested two suspects believed to be involved in the abduction.

The son of late Governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer, was abducted from the Gulberg area of Lahore on Friday. …

Read more → The Express Tribune