Tag Archives: Washington DC

Pakistani Major Among 2 New Arrests in Bombing – By JANE PERLEZ

New York Times

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — An army officer and a businessman have been detained as part of a widening inquiry into a circle of Pakistanis who had some knowledge of the activities of the man charged with trying to set off a crude car bomb in Times Square, according to a Western official and an American intelligence official.

Continue reading Pakistani Major Among 2 New Arrests in Bombing – By JANE PERLEZ

Long live Sindh, South Asia and long live the world – Sindh Round Table Conference in London

by: Javed Qazi

London round table conference on Sindh, organized by Sindh Monitors a Washington based advocacy group, whose main activist are Dr Maqbool Halepoto, Dr Safdar Sarki, Hanne Bursech and Mr Munawar Laghari, held from May 5rd to 8th, was indeed a successful event. It was first of all a novel in its format, and it had taken place in one of the prestigious educational Institution of the World, and also in its department of oriental sciences. It was mainly academic and well recognized people in this respect had participated in its different session. Almost all issues and corners of Sindh and its society and about its politics had been discussed. Its all sessions were brain storming. I give the organizers congratulations for its success.

Continue reading Long live Sindh, South Asia and long live the world – Sindh Round Table Conference in London

Jaswant Sigh Speaks to Indo-Pakistani Audience in Washington DC

India and Pakistan has no choice but to pursue the Path of Peace to alleviate Poverty

By: Khalid Hashmani

Washington DC – March 29, 2010: Jaswant Singh, an eight-term member of Indian Parliament and a former Finance and External Affairs Minister of India discussed his recent controversial 637-page book “Jinnah: India – Partition – Independence” at School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington DC. The event was one of rare occurrence as a large number of Indians and Pakistanis attended the same event. Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa, a SAIS resident Pakistan Teaching Fellow provided a review of Jaswant Singh’s book from the perspective of a Pakistani analyst.

Mr. Jaswant Singh

Talking about himself, Mr. Jaswant Singh said that he comes from the Indian state that is adjacent to Sindh meaning Rajasthan. He said that what fascinated him about Jinnah was how an ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity became the ‘sole spokesman’ of Muslims in India within a span of few years. Other key take-aways and memorable statements from this discussion are as follows:

1. Like Sindh, Rajasthan too did not suffer loss of lives and blood-shed due to partition. Both Muslims and Hindus lived and continue to live amicably in his home province.

Continue reading Jaswant Sigh Speaks to Indo-Pakistani Audience in Washington DC

Washington DC Discussion – Those who Control Pakistan’s National Narrative do not allow other Ideas

By Khalid Hashmani

Washington D.C. – On February 19, 2010, the South Asia Studies program of School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) organized yet another (SAIS) thought-provoking discussion with Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa. The writings of Dr. Siddiqa, who was once the Director of Naval Research with Pakistan Navy, have boldly challenged supremacy of Pakistani military and hegemony of thought process imposed by the growing religious coalition in Pakistan. Her two books Military Inc, Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy and Pakistan’s Arms Procurement and Military Buildup exposed the Pakistan military’s growing hold on the decision making process and gaining effective control of politics and economy of Pakistan. Although the title of her session “Salvaging Pakistan: The Changing Face of Civil Society” has mild connotations, her hard-hitting presentation and her responses in the follow-up Q&A session were not only provocative but also challenged many of the current assumptions and predicaments. She spoke in no uncertain terms that the extremism will continue to engulf Pakistan unless the the current national narrative of Pakistan is changed and there was a genuine tolerance for religious diversity in terms of other religions and other Muslims whose opinions differed from Sunni-Devbandi-wahabi ideology.

Continue reading Washington DC Discussion – Those who Control Pakistan’s National Narrative do not allow other Ideas

Washington Sindhis Celebrate Sindhi Topi Day

Washington Sindhis Celebrate Sindhi Topi Day and debate Issues and Opportunities faced by Sindhis

By Khalid Hashmani

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Washington, DC – Several Sindhis living in Washington, DC gathered at a local restaurant in Arlington to join their compatriots in Pakistan who celebrated Sindhi Topi (Cap) Day. The event was in reaction to malicious criticism of Pakistani President Asif Zardari, who wore a Sindhi cap while inspecting Guard of Honor in Afghanistan by some members of Pakistani media. Although, Mr., Zardari and the People’s Party of Pakistan (PPP) have lost much credibility among Sindhis, Mr. Zardari is himself of Sindhi origin. The attendees at the Washington DC moot, who wore Sindhi caps and Sindhi Ajraks (a traditional shawl worn by men either as turban or wound around shoulders, and women as shawl), attracted attention from other patrons of the restaurant. The Sindhi attendees proudly explained the purpose of the celebration and briefed them on Ajrak, a form of which was depicted in the excavations of a city that existed 5,000 years ago. The local Sindhis also discussed recent news from Sindh and debated strategies for protecting their culture, language, and identity.

Continue reading Washington Sindhis Celebrate Sindhi Topi Day

Baluchs make a passionate plea for Independence at Washington DC International Conference

By: Khalid Hashmani

The “American Friends of Baluchistan” organized an International Conference On November 21, 2009 in Washington DC. According to organizers, the main purposes of the conference were to highlight issues in Eastern and Western Baluchistan that organizers and to pay tribute to Baluch leader Balaach Marri, who was slain two years ago. This all-day conference was very well attended with many standing in the back of the meeting room. The venue of the conference was National Press Club in downtown Washington, DC. The list of persons who addressed or presented papers was long and covered a variety of topics from history of Balochistan to happenings as recent as three days ago. The presenters included Selig Harrison (Asia Director at the Center for International Policy), Aziz Baloch (British Columbia representative of Baloch Human Rights Council and former General Secretary of Baloch Student Organization), Andrew Eva (an expert on resistance warfare fighting for his homeland Lithuania to regain independence), Saghir Shaikh (a Sindhi Rights activist and former Chair of World Sindhi Congress), Wendy Johnson and Annie Nocenti (co-producers of wll-known “The Baluch” documentary), Zafar Baloch (A Baloch Rights activist from Toronto, Canada), T. Kumar (Advisory Director for International Issues for Amnesty International), Gul Agha (A Computer Scientist and a well-known speaker on Sindhi Rights), Musa Arjemandi (brother of Norwegian Ehhan Arjemandi, who recently disappeared in Pakistan), Humaira Rahman (A Sindhi Rights activist and the General Secretary of World Sindhi Institute) and others.

Continue reading Baluchs make a passionate plea for Independence at Washington DC International Conference

Deteriorating Political and Security Situation in Sindh

World Sindhi Institute , Washington DC, Press Release

On Saturday 14th November 2009 , a board meeting of the The World Sindhi Institute was convened in Washington D.C., to deliberate on the deteriorating political and security situation in Sindh, one manifestation of which was the recent targeted killing of Nisar Baloch , a highly respected and committed social justice and environmental activist of Lyari-Golimar, in Karachi Sindh.

World Sindhi Institute , endorses the formation of the recent Sindh Joint Action Committee(SJAC) , convened by Usman Baloch and endorsed by Chairman Jiay Sindh Mahaz Abdul Khaliq Junejo, central leader of Baloch National Front Wahab Baloch, President JSQM Karachi chapter Elahi Bakhsh Bikak, Sindh Tarraqi Passand Party STPP’s Gulzar Soomro, Awami Tehreeq’s Mazhar Raojo, Sindh National Front’s Nawaz Summo, Labour Party’s Younus Rao, Sindhiani Tehreek’s Fehmida Soomro, Nasir Kareem Baloch and Gattar Baghicha Bachao Tehreek’s Nadir Baloch and others

The World Sindhi Institute is of the view that coordinated, peaceful , nonviolent and united action of political forces in Sindh is the need of the hour. The SJAC has been convened to protect the rights of Sindh and against all the forces that continue to hatch conspiracies against the indigenous people of Sindh, thereby depriving them of their historical and fundamental rights of living in peace on their own land…

Humaira Rahman, General Secretary, The World Sindhi Institute, Washington D.C & Toronto, Canada

Students from Rural Sindh and Balochistan visit Washington DC under Pak-US Exchange Program

By Khalid Hashmani

Washington DC, November 2009 — Two separate batches of 26 female and 26 male high school (10th grade) students from the rural areas of Sindh, Balochistan, and FATA areas attended a two-week training in Northern Virginia, a suburb of Washington DC. The training was held during October and November of 2009. Their visit was made possible under a Pakistan-US Cultural program funded by US Aid.

Continue reading Students from Rural Sindh and Balochistan visit Washington DC under Pak-US Exchange Program

Sindhi NGOs/other Organizations Need to show Initiative and Drive

Khalid Hashmani
Khalid Hashmani

Where are the Sindhi Organizations when other Pakistani NGOs showcase their Wares?

By: Khalid Hashmani

October 2009 — Washington, D.C. has seen many visitors from Pakistani NGOs in the last two weeks. They were here to secure funding for their pet projects under the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009. A State Department official commented that no final decision has been made whether the new assistance will be channeled mainly through the Pakistani Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) or through the traditional way through USAid department with focus on government-to-government transactions. The Pakistani NGOs, some in collaboration with their US partners showcasing their capabilities and marketing their expertise. The irony is that none of these organizations have any roots in Sindh or Balochistan, where Human Development Index (HDI) is one of the lowest in the world. None of the NGOs officials making presentations had any abilities in the Sindhi and Balochi languages; much of their focus was securing projects in Sindh. A presenter even commented that the Punjab Government does not want much privatization of their public education system. Many in the local Washington Sindhi community are fearful that just as Islamabad government officials have not been fair in distribution of resources to Sindh and Balochistan, so will these Islamabad-based NGOs would divert major portion of the new US funding for their pet projects at the cost of Sindh and Balochistan. In order to ensure that such malicious designs do not succeed, this article provides information about these NGOs, about their claims that they are already running many private schools, health centers, and micro finance projects in Sindh. It is hoped that people of Sindh and Balochistan would be diligent and help verify whether or not such claims are true. Further, in the event that non-Sindhi organizations do win major projects in Sindh, Sindhis ought to monitor their performance and report on any discrepancies to ensure that true beneficiaries of the funds allocated to any projects in Sindh would be Sindhis.

Continue reading Sindhi NGOs/other Organizations Need to show Initiative and Drive

Democratic Forces of Sindh welcome the Kerry-Lugar Bill

Sindh Democratic Forum (SDF)

Press Conference : Gentlemen, a raging debate has started in the country about the about the contents of the Kerry-Lugar Bill. Electronic media has especially had a field day and so has the print media which is also plastered with the news of the Bill on daily basis.

Continue reading Democratic Forces of Sindh welcome the Kerry-Lugar Bill

Kerry-Lugar bill : The Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan

Separating Myth from Fact on The Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009

Courtesy: Senator John Kerry

The United States wants to transform its relationship with Pakistan into a deeper, broader, long-term strategic engagement with the people of Pakistan. The Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act (S.1707), also known as the Kerry-Lugar bill, was designed to help turn the page in our bilateral relationship by moving beyond a military relationship to one where the United States engages directly with the people of Pakistan as a true ally and friend.

Continue reading Kerry-Lugar bill : The Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan

Powered by pride, Pakistan set to reject Kerry-Lugar Bill

Islamabad – The government is gently moving in a direction where it may reject the Kerry-Lugar Bill in its present shape. The rejection will be accompanied by a request to he US Congress and the Obama administration for an understanding of Pakistan’s sovereignty and its right to decide issues of national security and foreign policy, according to several senior Pakistani officials and an important federal cabinet minister, the sources said.

Kerry-Lugar bill – An interesting point!!

by Omar Ali

Now they don’t like various political parties having direct contact with Washington. I wonder how they would justify the direct contact of army chiefs and a strong spy agency’s chiefs and other generals have with Washington (and with visitors from every other power)? Why is it OK for them to run their own foreign policy, but not OK for the elected Prime minister, President and Foreign minister to do the same??

Courtesy: crdp@yahoogroups.com

Civil-Military Rift in Pakistan Over US Aid

by Omar Ali, USA

Lets see what happens. My guess is that the US embassy will do what the US president does with congress, bribe them by increasing the unmonitored goodies (announced or unannounced). But will the army bite? On past performance, one would guess they will. Its hard to see how a rift with their paymasters and a revival of jihadism will help the property values in sector E-7, but one must keep in mind that these are generals who think of themselves as amazing trapeze artists who can fly through the air and grab that handhold at the last possible moment. They may be calculating that Obama has absolutely no choice in this matter since a face-saving exit from Afghanistan depends mostly on ISI cooperation. This perception has probably been bolstered by Obama’s very public wavering over Afghanistan, but the problem I see is that even if they are correct and Anne Patterson gives them their India-specific Jihadis and even their “good taliban”, it is the jihadists who will not stick to the script. In the long run, this extortion is a recipe for disaster (some would argue that so is meek acceptance of the American plans, but we may have to compare disaster to disaster and see which nasty medicine tastes a shade better)….

I can hear some people saying “China will bail us out” or “Saudi Arabia will take up the slack”. Well, we will see. I don’t think so…

If anyone has any doubts left about who is orchestrating the opposition to the Kerry Lugar bill, they should read Kamran Khan’s column. It seems the main sticking point is not the Kashmiri Jihadis or even the blessed “good Taliban”. Its the fact that bloody civilians may try to “interfere” in the army that is supposedly subservient to the same “bloody civilians”. Unfortunately, the short sighted Mian brothers have opted for the politically expedient and suicidal route of supporting the corpse commanders on this issue….

Courtesy: CRCP yahoo groups

PPP on positive track but the message is not getting to constituents

Reported By: Khalid Hashmani, USA

Washington DC, September 24, 2009 – A few members of Washington’s Sindhi community met the Minister of Sindh fo Education last week at an informal gathering. There was a candid exchange of views between the participants and the Minister about the plight of Sindhis and performance of PPP government in Sindh so far . The minister said that the government of Sindh is on the positive track but the story of their achievements is not getting reaching to their Sindhi constituents as Sindhi media is mostly focused on criticizing the government.

Continue reading PPP on positive track but the message is not getting to constituents

Inaugural Ceremony of SAPAC

Press release – Washington, DC, August 15, 2009

Sindhi American Political Action Committee (SAPAC) is a newly established organization, based in Washington DC. You are requested to kindly confirm your availability to attend the Inaugural Ceremony of SAPAC. (Participation with invitation only; To receive formal invitation, please contact Munawar Laghari on phone # (202) 378-0333 or e-mail: sapac.sindh@ gmail.com). President of SAPAC, Dr. Maqbool Haleepota will welcome the Guests and participants. Congressman Gary Ackerman* will be Special Guest in the Inaugural Ceremony of SAPAC. Congressman Brad Sherman** has very kindly consented to grace the occasion as Chief Guest. Speakers: Mr. Selig S. Harrison***, Center for International Policy. Dr. Marvin Weinbaum**** , Middle East Institute.

Continue reading Inaugural Ceremony of SAPAC

Provincial autonomy & the entangled affairs of Pakistan

Khalid Hashmani

Treat the demands of Balochistan, Sindh & other small provinces with utmost seriousness

by Khalid Hashmani, McLean, Virginia, USA

The writer can be reached at khashmani@hotmail.com

The Baluch people have been struggling for their rights since Balochistan became a part of Pakistan, when the country was created after the partition of British India in 1947. Unfortunately, instead of establishing Pakistan’s constitution and setup on the lines 1940 Pakistan resolution that contained the commitments of sovereign and autonomous provinces, the civilian and military dictators,  and bureaucracy have created a highly centralized system that is dominated and controlled by the largest province of Pakistan (Punjab). The people of three small provinces (Balochistan, Sindh, and NWFP) have been demanding provincial autonomy and adherence to the commitments that were in the 1940 resolution for decades.
About 18 months ago, a group of Baloch men and women led by Akbar Bugti were bombarded by the security forces in which scores including Nawab Akbar Bugti were killed. Since then, the Baluch struggle has taken a more vigorous turn as they have given their hope that Punjab will ever accept significant provincial autonomy and are now demanding outright separation from Pakistan.
In my remarks at the Washington DC-based Baloch organizations rally in front of the Pakistan Embassy on Friday, April 17, 2009, I urged the current government of Pakistan and its establishment (that actually runs Pakistan) to treat the demands of Balochistan and other small provinces with utmost seriousness as the delays in addressing the issues of autonomy and sovereignty of provinces is only hardening the attitude of the grieved people. I, further said there is an urgent need that the Pakistan’s National Assembly immediately pass overdue amendments in Pakistan’s constitution abolishing concurrent list, which enables the federal government and the federal establishment exercise complete control on almost every aspect of the country including revenue collection and how that revenue is spent and distributed to the provinces. Any further delay in addressing the issue of provincial autonomy would further complicate the already entangled affairs of Pakistan.

Washington DC Protest Rally against brutal killing of Baluch Leaders

Washington DC- Various Baluch and Sindhi organization representatives will hold a protest rally in front of the Pakistan Embassy at 3517 International Court, NW, Washington DC on Friday, April 17 at 10.30 a.m.
The protest rally has been organized against the Nazi-style execution of three prominent Baluch activists Ghulam Mohammed Baloch, President of the Balochistan National Movement (BNM); Lala Munir Baloch, General Secretary of the BNM; and Sher Mohammed Baloch, Deputy General Secretary of the Balochistan Republican Party.

Munawar Laghari Attends Briefing at White House

Washington – March 27th 2009: Former WSI Executive Director and Sindhi Activist, Munawar Laghari recently attended President Obama’s briefing on the new strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, at the White House Thursday morning. Sufi Laghari, proudly wearing a Sindhi cap and Ajrak, also met with Paul Montero, White House Liaison on Religious Freedom and discussed the current situation in Sindh. He briefed Mr. Montero about Sindhi Sufism and tolerance, stressing the historical opposition of Sindhis to religious fundamentalism in all guises. Mr. Laghari also met with various diplomats, officials from State Department, and representatives of Think Tanks and distributed copies of “Sindh Monitor” and “Human Rights Situation in Sindh.” Mr. Laghari’s invitation and subsequent visit to meet President is an honor for the Sindhi community of DC.

CURRENT STATE OF FEDERALISM AND DEMOCRACY IN PAKISTAN

Report by Khalid Hashmani, McLean, Virginia, USA

On Friday, March 20, 2009, the World Sindhi Institute (WSI) organized an international seminar on the topic of “Federalism and Democracy – Pakistan’s Experience and Challenges” at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington DC… The very well-known expert on Pakistan affairs, Mr. Stephen Cohen (Senior Fellow at Brookings Institution) attended the seminar and made brief comments.

A report of this meeting based on the notes that I took at the meeting is shared with you below and I hope you would find it worthy of inclusion in Indus Asia Online Journal.

Continue reading CURRENT STATE OF FEDERALISM AND DEMOCRACY IN PAKISTAN

A Sindhi Shaam was held in Washington, DC

Report by Iqbal Tareen
March 18, 2009
A Sindhi Shaam was held in memory of Shaikh Ayaz and Tajal Bewas by Washington DC community on March 7, 2009.
This event was hosted by Iqbal and Nasreen Tareen at their residence in Herndon, Virginia on March 7, 2009. The special guests who lead the event were Hidayat Baloch and Jami Chandio. Hidayat Baloch made last minute changes in his international travel plans to fly to Washington,
DC from Houston, TX. It was a very informal and an open session. It took us back to the roots and reminded us of sixties when the series of Sindhi Shaam events had triggered a Sindh Rights Renaissance movement. A whole new breed of Sindhi poets, writers, thinkers, and
activists were introduced and inspired by these igniting events. As a matter of fact the Sindhi Shaam was a catalyst and fuel that energized Sindh Sovereignty movement. Kudos to SuhRin and Tariq Ashraf also for
providing the platform. Sindhi Shaam was a new phenomenon, which took a sharp departure from a traditional Sindhi literature of “Gul and Bulbul” to Mitti, Motherland, Hari, and Mazdoor.
Those who enriched this event with their presence and participation were: Nafisa Hoodbhoy, Nasreen Hashmani, Razia Memon, Ali Nawaz Memon, Dr. Badar Shaikh, Hanif Sangi, Jawaid Bhutto, Sarfraz Memon, Shafik Siddiki
Sikandar Baloch, Atif Chandio (Opened the session with a beautiful recital of poetry)and Milo Tareen.

Continue reading A Sindhi Shaam was held in Washington, DC

Opinion- MQM: Perspective and Prospective

by: Jami Chandio

1.Executive summary:

There have been different and opposite points of view about the emergence and existence of MQM in political and intellectual circles. MQM has been calling itself the product of the tyranny of circumstances. And the blame for this was first leveled against Sindhis and now apparently the establishment is charged with it. A great bulk of the Urdu speaking intellectuals has been holding a similar point of view. Majority of the Punjabi intellectuals have suffered from a lack of clarity in this regard. And, except for a few of them, they have been keeping away from a categorical expression, in this regard due to political opportunism. Sindh, so far, has not produced political intellectuals with enough and incisive scientific understanding of the circumstances, whereas, some writers and political circles have been there with a stance in this context. I too have been tackling it for the last 18 years on occasions at policy level. In these contexts, I have never been pressurized by the idea as to what conflicts of understanding could germinate from this. I have always considered it my primary duty to write about the major and fundamental issues related to Sindh. And since MQM has also been an important issue concerning Sindh, it has been among my basic intellectual responsibilities to lay before the Sindhi public my readings on it.

Continue reading Opinion- MQM: Perspective and Prospective

Ayaz Palejo, Yong Sindhi Leader and Local Sindhis Meet in Washington DC

By: Khalid Hashmani (McLean, Virginia, USA)

Washington DC, August 24, 2008: A group of Washington DC Sindhis and Ayaz Palejo, a young political leader from Sindh, met at a local restaurant and exchanged views about the current affairs of Sindh and Pakistan.

Ayaz Palejo is a prominent Sindhi lawyer, intellectual, nationalist, and a key leader of AWAMI TAHREEK. His recent book QANOON SABHNEE LAE” (Law for All) has received critical acclaim in Sindhi press for its clear explanation of laws governing human rights, rights of women, and rights of laborers.

The discussions covered a variety of subjects but mainly were focused on the protection of Sindhi interests and Sindhi rights. The following are the key take-aways from the meeting:

PPP GOVERNANCE and SINDH

* For Sindh to overcome poverty and Sindhis to advance, it is imperative that the present Sindh government maintains highest standards of integrity and strives to reduce poverty and corruption and promote merit.

* There is a general perception among people that much more improvement is needed in governance with rumors that some ministers are charging fees for jobs and influence paddling remains key currency as was in the previous government. Some PPP operatives and government officials have taken over government lands and profiting from them in a variety of ways. Any government officials who complain about such actions are simply transferred.

* Many people are unhappy about re-structuring of Sindh coal agency that has effectively give control of coal resources of Sindh to federal government officials. Most Sindhis see the transfer of three highways in Sindh to the federal government for maintenance and toll fee collection as another usurpation of provincial jurisdiction by the federal government.

* Except for the chief leader of PPP, there is a lack of clear chain of management in the Sindh government. Multiple persons have become mini-decision- making centers. This often confuses government officials resulting in a lot of inaction, hesitation, re-issuance of orders and re-work.

* There is a substantial migration of people from rural Sindh to Hyderabad. This has put tremendous pressure on real estate market in Hyderabad, particularly in the Sindhi neighborhoods, where the real estate prices have skyrocketed. In contrast, Karachi is seeing a downturn in the real estate values.

* In Sindh, none of the top government officials (Chief Secretary, Inspector General Police, etc.) are Sindhis. Some people say that Sindhis are being asked to continue to accept non-Sindhi top officials to enable PPP to gain more ground at the federal level.

* An improvement that was mentioned at the meeting involved appointment of government officials with better reputations as District police and administration officials. However, conflicts between honest officials and corrupt local PPP chieftains are also seen having some negative affect on good governance.

* Longevity of a government where Sindhis have some say in the decision-making process should remain the most important goal. To achieve this goal, it is important that intellectuals and writers do not hesitate in criticizing the government for good governance.

SINDH POLITICS – PPP and MQM

* In the last government, MQM succeeded 15.000-20,000 persons recruited in police. Thus, the armed presence of MQM and its sympathizers is quite large. The PPP government has to start addressing these issues if they wish to see survival of their base.

* In previous government, MQM had a control of almost everything. Now, their control is limited to their share and PPP controls their share. This has encouraged community to slowly start moving back from other towns to Karachi to look for better job opportunities.

* There is a consensus among Sindhis in Sindh that they are better off under the present government than they were under the previous MQM/General Musharraf government. People have started seeing some relief. More important is the emotional relief that Sindhis have started feeling.

FEDERAL and SINDH POLITICS – PPP and PML-N

* The general impression is that this is the last chance for PPP to remain as a federal party. PML-N operatives are slowly succeeding in reducing the PPP popularity in Punjab, where restoration of Chaudhry Iftakhar as Chief Justice of Supreme Court remains has become a popular demand.

* In Sindh, PML-N remains largely unpopular, as it has very few seasoned and experienced Sindhi politicians in its ranks. Most people of smaller provinces consider PML-N as a Punjabi patriotic party and do expect them to have politicos that are friendly to small provinces. However, recent appearance of Ghaus Ali Shah could help PML-N to show some presence in Sindh.

* One interesting contrast is that Nawaz Sharif and some of the top leaders of PML-N appear to be little progressive but their grass root membership and followers are conservative and follow Punjab-first policies in the name of Pakistan. The people of smaller provinces do not expect PML-N to have policies that will be friendly to smaller provinces. On other side, grassroots membership of PPP is more progressive and prefers fair and equitable policies for all provinces but PPP leadership is acting more conservative, cautious, and fearful of taking any bold actions that they think will not be perceived well in Punjab or by MQM leadership.

* The big risk for small provinces is that if PML-N gets into power solely because of its dominance in Punjab, it will not be good for Sindhis, Baluch, and Pashtuns. PML-N is almost like Pakistan military except that only Pashtuns have reasonable presence in military.

* An observation was made that in the previous coalition government, all PML-N ministers were from Punjab (none from Sindh, Balochistan or Pushunwa provinces). On the PPP side, most powerful ministries and a dominant number of ministers in the federal cabinet were also from Punjab.

OTHER KEY TAKE-AWAYS

* A striking observation was made that it appears that PPP’s leaders are keeping mum about defending PPP and talking about PPP’s progressive policies. It seems that only the office of the top PPP leader is half heatedly defending PPP in the face of criticism. The net result is that attacks against PPP in media and other forums largely go unanswered further fueling anti-propaganda.

* The actions of the present PPP government display more business brinkmanship and shrewdness but is short on “principles” in dealing with friends and foes. This may work well in the short term but abandonment of principles will prove harmful in the long run.

* The support in Sindh for Chaudhry Iftikhar is largely on account of his standing up to the military and saying NO to its arbitrary governance as Military dictatorships are perceived as tools to deny rights to Sindhis and Baluch.

* In Sindh, there is a strong dislike for fundamentalist forces. It is not only because of the traditional Sindhi values of secularism and tolerance for religious differences but increasingly because Sindhis are viewing “fundamentalism” as their enemy. Many Sindhis hold “fundamentalists” responsible for the assassination of their hero Benazir Bhutto.

* In Northern provinces of Pakistan, fundamentalism is securing more ground. The latest tacit used by terrorists to recruit suicide bombers is to tell them that as soon as they die, Prophet Mohammed and his friends will welcome them at the gates of heaven. They are being told that any loss of innocent lives is actually good for those people. They are told this is only a transitory life and since most people who will die in a suicide attack are living poor lives anyway; their accidental death is doing a favor to them. It shortens their wretched lives and takes them quickly to a better world, where their lives will be much better than what they can hope to ever get in this world.

Washington DC: Baloch Leaders demand sovereignty

Report by: Khalid Hashmani (McLean, Virginia, USA)
Washington DC, August 15, 2008 – A group leaders of Baluch nationalists and religious minorities in North America addressed a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington DC. The press conference was dubbed as an event marking the founding of Pakistan. The speakers severely criticized Pakistan government and security forces and demanded that their rights be respected and restored. The Baloch leaders demanded independence of Balochistan and emphasized that Balochistan was never a part of the country.

Continue reading Washington DC: Baloch Leaders demand sovereignty

DEMOCRACY IN PAKISTAN

Iqbal Tareen’s speech in front of White House, Washington, DC on June 3, 2007.

Mr. Tareen, presented profile of forces, which are the constant threat to freedoms and democracy. He said regimented, small, clandestine, narrowly focused, and power-hungry extremist forces, which can’t ordinarily capture power without disruptive and chaotic conditions will always be found working against establishment of democracy.

These forces are eager to collaborate with military and bureaucracy (Nation’s most powerful institutions) to act as a conduit creating desired conditions to overthrow elected governments. Under representative governance, these forces remain hyper-active, distasteful, and demeaning to elected governments and are quick to unite with dictatorships to backdoor into power.

Although smaller in numbers but these forces are usually concentrated in population clusters and are located in large cities or in strategically important geographic locations. Through the power of disruption these forces can lock-down major industrial cities thus wreaking a massive logistic and economic havoc on any nation.

Mr. Tareen categorically pointed to MQM and religious extremist groups, which play out this role in Pakistan. He said “MQM was created by Zia-ul-Haq as a counter balancing force against influence of Pakistan Peoples Party. Its one-point agenda was and remains to dilute constituencies of all pro-democracy forces especially the one of Pakistan Peoples Party in province of Sindh”

He said “Arming of MQM and its enforcement terrorism against peaceful citizens of major cities of Sindh ensured suppression of any uprising that might have occurred after the execution of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. MQM was nurtured and groomed by General Aslam Beg, financed by moneys of notorious dons and bankers, and graduated into power by General Musharraf”

He reminded all those who were present in the rally how supporters of dictatorship distributed sweets and candies at the death of first Pakistani democracy under Z. A. Bhutto. It also distributed sweets celebrating fall of 2nd democracy under Benazir Bhutto, and it organized Nimaz-e-Shukranas when 3rd democracy under Mian Nawaz Sharif was ousted.

He challenged everyone present to prove if MQM had ever mobilized mass opinion against any dictatorship in Pakistan. He said that “As a matter of fact MQM has remained permanently embedded into Pakistani dictatorships”

Mr. Tareen said that MQM AND DEMOCRACY IN PAKISTAN ARE MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE. ONE CAN’T SURVIVE WITHOUT FALL OF THE OTHER.

Expanding on his thoughts, he said “Whenever there is a representative government in Pakistan, MQM demeans and rejects rule of democracy as a rule of Choudhries, Khans, Sardars, and “Waderas”. If you look into MQM’s track record, it has always teamed up with the worst kind of Choudhries, Sardars, Khans and Waderas when serving their client dictators”

He said that “May 12th Massacre” saw a glimpse of a new kind of lord, which is most ferocious and merciless than Pakistani nation has ever seen. He called them “Shaderas” who planned, executed, condoned, and praised the May 12th Massacre in Karachi. Explaining the term coined by Mr. Tareen, he said Shaderas are new breed of city (Shahar) waderas. On May 12th, MQM Shaderas declared exclusivity on city of Karachi. They declared Karachi as their “Jaagir” by denying right of entry to Pakistan’s Chief Justice and hundreds and thousands of his supporters.

Describing a historic irony, Mr. Tareen said “Before rise of MQM, citizens of Karachi stood like a rock facing dictatorship of Ayub Khan. Today Karachi has been placed on the wrong side of history. Not by choice but by terror. Karachi deserves freedom from fear and tyranny. Witnessing Aaj TV and GEO trashed by street scavengers; when we see Pakistan’s oldest and leading newspaper Dawn poured in blood; when we see opposing members of the media coming under MQM-Musharraf fire, we know Karachi is yearning for freedom”

Addressing citizens of Karachi in Urdu, he said “Karachi, we can hear you loud and clear. Your calling for rescue from ransom and intimidation has touched millions of hearts in Pakistan and around the world. Once again you want to lead the nation to a new dawn of freedom from fear, tyranny and dictatorship. You want to join millions of your brothers and sisters in this holy struggle to restore individual and collective dignity in Pakistan”

He continued addressing in Urdu and said “My brothers and sister of Karachi, the moment has arrived to break your silence. Break away from the chains to claim your rightful place in history. Just remember MQM  and democracy in Pakistan are mutually exclusive. There is only MQM between you and your freedom”

Addressing President Bush and facing White House he said “Mr. President you know this era will end and it will end soon. The new dawn will bring democracy and freedom to 160 million Pakistanis. It is up to you to decide whether you want to side with weak dictator or 160 Million Pakistanis? He added “Siding with the people you can seal US-Pakistani friendship until eternity”