Tag Archives: Watch

Where is the evidence of Democracy?

Scientist muzzling probed by information commissioner

Complaint was filed by Democracy Watch and University of Victoria on Feb. 20

By CBC News

Canada’s information commissioner has confirmed that her office will investigate allegations that the federal government is muzzling its scientists.

The office of Suzanne Legault has concluded that a complaint made by Democracy Watch and the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Clinic in February falls within its mandate, wrote Emily McCarthy, assistant information commissioner, in a letter released Monday by Democracy Watch, an Ottawa-based non-profit organization that advocates for government accountability.

The letter, dated March 27, added that the office has notified and sent a summary of the complaint to the relevant government institutions:

  • Environment Canada.
  • Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
  • Natural Resources Canada.
  • National Research Council of Canada.
  • Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
  • Department of National Defence.

Treasury Board included

The letter added, “We have also determined that the Treasury Board Secretariat should be included in your complaint because of its role in relation to the development and implementation of government policies.”

Tyler Sommers, co-ordinator of Democracy Watch, said in a statement, that the group is “very pleased” about the investigation being called.

“And we will continue to push the information commissioner to get to the bottom of this situation, publicly release the results, and push the federal government to change these policies,” he added.

The complaint, filed on Feb. 20, suggested that federal government policy “forcing scientists to jump through hoops before speaking with the mediabreaches the Access to Information Act.

The complaint included a 26-page report with 100 pages of appendices, containing details and examples, based on internal government documents previously released through freedom of information requests, along with conversations with current and former federal public servants, journalists, members of non-profit organizations, and professors at Canadian universities.

The federal Access to Information Act requires the Office of the Information Commissioner to investigate “any matter related to obtaining or requesting access to records” from federal institutions.

Continue reading Where is the evidence of Democracy?

Pakistan’s festering wound – TOI

On February 8, representatives of Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International testified before the Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee on Oversight and Investigations at the US Congress against grave human rights abuses committed by Pakistan’s security forces in the restive province of Balochistan. Since then, Islamabadhas used as many as 10 different channels to strongly protest against what it calls America’s “blatant interference” in its “internal affairs”.The issue has flared up further following the introduction of a House Concurrent Resolution by Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher seeking the right of self-determination for the native Balochs. Pakistan has summoned the acting US ambassador to Islamabad twice in a single week at the foreign office, passed a parliamentary resolution and protested through its ambassadors in Washington DC and at the UN. Wasim Sajjad, a former Pakistan Senate chairman, while referring to HRW, has called for “immediately taking action against those NGOs or persons who are accepting dollars from the US and are pursuing their agenda on the lands of Pakistan and destabilising Balochistan.”

Although the congressional hearing and subsequent resolutions were not sponsored by the Obama administration, American diplomats still face the wrath of Pakistani officials due to utter ignorance of the American poli-tical system. Anti-Americanism is not unfamiliar in Pakistan, but bashing the Obama administration for a ‘crime’ it has not committed simply means there is something fishy in Islamabad’s cupboard.
Continue reading Pakistan’s festering wound – TOI

Freedom for Balochistan – Protest against Pakistan’s barbarism in Balochistan

London: The barbarism of Pakistani security agencies in Balochistan continues to infuriate the Baloch people. A Human Rights Watch report titled “We can Torture, Kill, or Keep You for Years’: Enforced Disappearances by Pakistan Security Forces in Balochistan” exposes the fact that Pakistani agencies are responsible for widespread disappearances of Baloch political activists. The 32-page report slams Pakistan authorities for taking people into custody and then denying all responsibility or knowledge of their fate or whereabouts. The rights group investigated several cases in which uniformed personnel of the Frontier Corps, an Interior Ministry paramilitary force, and the police were involved in abducting Baloch nationalists.

Courtesy: South Asia News » YouTube

RIM Asked to Hand Over Memogate Data to Pakistan Court

By Tarek Fatah

this involves the private messages between two individuals and as such RIM is unlikely to share this data — if it exists — with Pakistan’s Supreme Court

Research in Motion (RIM) and the Canadian High Commission in Islamabad have become the latest actors in the so-called “memogate affairthat observers believe is a slow-motion palace coup by Pakistan’s military aimed at unseating the civilian administration of President Zardari.

In a decision on Friday, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered the country’s attorney general to demand RIM hand over BBM messages allegedly exchanged between the former Pakistan ambassador to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, and American businessman Mansoor Ijaz. The exchanges involve an unsigned memo handed over to to former American Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, requesting U.S. intervention to stave off a military coup in Islamabad.

The latest tug of war between the government of President Zardari and his generals erupted on Oct. 11, 2011 when the Financial Times ran an op-ed titled “Time to take on Pakistan’s Jihadis.”

In the article, Mansoor Ijaz, a Pakistani-American businessman, claimed he was contacted by a Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, and asked to contact Admiral Mullen to prevent a military coup from taking place in Pakistan. The military was outraged and wanted heads to roll. Ijaz wrote:

Early on May 9, a week after U.S. Special Forces stormed the hideout of Osama bin Laden and killed him, a senior Pakistani diplomat telephoned me with an urgent request. Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan’s president, needed to communicate a message to White House national security officials that would bypass Pakistan’s military and intelligence channels.

As evidence, the American businessman handed over copies of his alleged BlackBerry message exchanges with Haqqani to Pakistan’s feared military intelligence force, the ISI. On his part, Haqqani categorically denied that he had asked Ijaz to draft any message and dismissed the messages cited by Ijaz as a fabrication.

As a result of the controversy, Ambassador Haqqani — a man not liked by his country’s jihadis, whether civilian or military — was forced to resign his post and ordered back to Pakistan, where he was placed under security watch and barred by the military from leaving the country.

The country’s parliament set up a commission to get to the depth of the matter, but this inquiry was upstaged by opposition politician Nawaz Sharif who took the matter to the country’s Supreme Court that is closely allied to the country’s military generals.

Pakistan Supreme Court

Last Friday, the Supreme Court ruled that there was merit in the complaint against Haqqani and set up a three-member judicial commission that will report back in four weeks to determine the guilt or innocence of the former Boston University professor and Pakistan’s most prominent diplomat in the last four years.

At the crux of the matter is the authenticity of of the BlackBerry messages that were allegedly exchanged between the two men.

In its decision on Friday, the Pakistani Supreme Court ordered the country’s attorney general to get in touch with Research In Motion in Waterloo, Ontario to secure from RIM the data verifying the validity of the alleged BlackBerry conversation between Haqqani and Ijaz.

In an unprecedented move, the Pakistani Supreme Court stepped beyond its jurisdiction to direct the Canadian High Commissioner in Islamabad, ordering it to facilitate in the securing the data from RIM.

In August 2010, Research In Motion was pressured by the Indian government to allow it access to data exchanged on its BBM messenger service. RIM resisted that pressure and the two parties came to a resolution. However, that involved BlackBerry messages within India, not overseas.

RIM ended up ready to compromise on the privacy of corporate customers to placate Indian regulators. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates too threatened to shut off BlackBerry services unless RIM opened its encrypted client data for the sake of national security.

However, in this case, the alleged exchanges between the Pakistani Ambassador and the American businessman were conducted in the United States, not Pakistan. Unlike the Indian request, this involves the private messages between two individuals and as such RIM is unlikely to share this data — if it exists — with Pakistan’s Supreme Court.

In addition, the Supreme Court ordered former ambassador Husain Haqqani to not leave the country, thus placing him in virtual house arrest. Haqqani, fearing for his life at the hands of the military and jihadis, has now taken refuge inside the Prime Minister’s residence in Islamabad.

Dark day for Pakistan

Haqqani’s counsel in the case, prominent human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir reacted with shock at the Supreme Court decision, labelling it a “dark day” for the country’s judiciary.

Ms. Jahangir a former president of the country’s Supreme Court Bar Association and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion, said the decision was evidence Pakistan’s civilian government had for all practical purposes come under the thumb of the army.

Speaking to the media outside the Supreme Court on Friday, Ms. Jehangir said that the court’s judgment in the “memogate scandal” had forced her to wonder whether Pakistan’s judiciary represented the people of Pakistan or the country’s (military) establishment.

Two days later Jahangir announced that in protest at the high-handedness of the Pakistan Supreme Court, she was stepping down as counsel for Husain Haqqani. She alleged the judges of the Supreme Court were acting “under the influence of the [Military] establishment” and not in the cause of justice or due process.

A noose around Haqqani’s neck

She told Karachi’s DAWN Television she was stepping down because the only outcome left was a noose around Haqqani’s neck. She said:

“If nine judges of the Supreme Court can be under their [military] influence, then I am sorry to say I cannot have any expectations from three judges, who are subordinate to the same Supreme Court judges.””Should we close our eyes? Should we allow ourselves to be fooled?… I have told my client [Haqqani] he can appear before the commission if he wishes to — and he will go–but I have no confidence at all in the [judicial] commission.”

Continue reading RIM Asked to Hand Over Memogate Data to Pakistan Court

Protest rally held against the human rights violations in Balochistan at the 18th session of UN Human Rights Council in Geneva

– PRESS RELEASE: A peaceful demonstration was held at the 18th session of the UN Human Rights Council by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) and the Baloch Human Rights Council (BHRC), on Thursday 15 September 2011 in Geneva , Plais des Nations ‘ Broken Chair Square’ to protest against the increasing number of human rights violations in Balochistan.

The demonstration was aimed to raise awareness of alarming number of enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and arbitrary detentions that have been reported by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the Human Rights commission of Pakistan and prompt the international community to act. Baloch delegates from London, Europe and Scandinavia and other human rights activists took part in the event.

A parallel event took place entitled ‘Climate of Fear: Enforced Disappearances, Extrajudicial Killings & Arbitrary Detention in Balochistan’ between 12 to 2 pm at Plais des Nations in Room 23.

Three arrested over Imran Farooq’s murder

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.

Continue reading Three arrested over Imran Farooq’s murder

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Shocking report on Balochistan Disappearances

“Even if the president or chief justice tells us to release you, we won’t. We can torture you, or kill you, or keep you for years at our will. It is only the Army chief and the [intelligence] chief that we obey.” – Pakistani official to Bashir Azeem, the 76-year-old secretary-general of the Baloch Republican Party, during his unacknowledged detention, April 2010

“Disappearances of people of Balochistan are the most burning issue in the country. Due to this issue, the situation in Balochistan is at its worst.” – Supreme Court Justice Javed Iqbal, commenting on the establishment of the Commission of Inquiry for Missing Persons on May 4, 2010.

“One of them pointed his gun at Abdul Nasir and shouted, ‘Get up!’ As soon as Abdul Nasir got off the ground the man walked him to their car. Since that time I have not seen Abdul.” – Witness to enforced disappearance of Abdul Nasir, June 2010

On December 11, 2009, a 39-year-old Baloch nationalist activist, Abdul Ghaffar Lango, and his wife were leaving a hospital in Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi after her discharge from surgery when two white Toyota pickup trucks suddenly stopped at the main gate. Lango’s wife said that about 10 men in plain clothes approached the couple and one started beating Lango with the butt of an AK-47 assault rifle until he lost consciousness.

The men then dragged him into one of the pickups and drove away. When the family went to register the abduction with the police, the police informed them that Lango had been detained because of his political activities, yet refused to provide further information on his whereabouts or specific charges against him.

Read more → Human Rights Watch

http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/pakistan0711WebInside.pdf

US, Western diplomats under strict watch in Pakistan

By ANI

Lahore, July 21 (ANI): Pakistan authorities will keep the American and Western diplomats under strict surveillance to prevent them from going to places they are not authorised to, sources have said. The Nation quoted the sources ….

Read more → Yahoo News

Journalist Saleem Shahzad goes missing – Days before his disappearance, Shahzad had authored an article that alleged links between navy officials and al Qaeda.

ISLAMABAD: Syed Saleem Shahzad, the Pakistan bureau chief of Asia Times Online, went missing Sunday evening, DawnNews reported.

Days before his disappearance, Shahzad had authored an article that alleged links between navy officials and al Qaeda.

Ali Imran, a Coordinator at the South Asia Free Media Association (Safma) in an email stated that Mr Shahbaz had left his house in Islamabad to participate in a television program but that he did not reach the TV station.

He did not contact his family and friends either, Mr Imran said, adding that Mr Shahzad’s mobile phone and car had not been traced yet.

Courtesy: DAWN.COM

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Missing journalist in ISI custody, says HRW

By Afnan Khan

LAHORE: The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has, through credible sources, learnt that journalist Saleem Shahzad is in custody of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), HRW’s Pakistan representative Ali Dayan Hasan told Daily Times on Monday.

Dayan remarked that the ISI remained a major human rights abuser in Pakistan and it frequently kept abusing and torturing those journalists it disagreed with. He further said the HRW had previously documented similar cases of abduction and torture on journalists by security agencies.

People close to Shahzad told Daily Times that he was picked up by officers of an intelligence agency who have promised through anonymous calls to release him soon. Shahzad, who was working as bureau chief of the Asia Times Online in Islamabad, was whisked away by unidentified people on Sunday evening when he left his F-8 Sector residence to participate in a television talk show. His mobile phone remained switched off and his car could not be traced.

People close to Shahzad stated that he had received numerous warnings from security agencies for his reporting in the past, adding that his recent reporting on the issue of terrorist attack on PNS Mehran might have become the reason of his abduction.

Meanwhile, a case has been registered against the unidentified kidnappers in the F-8 Sector Police Station.

Courtesy: DAILYTIMES.COM

http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=20115\31\story_31-5-2011_pg1_2

Pakistan: Drop Blasphemy Charges Against 17-Year-Old

Student’s Case Underscores Urgent Need to Repeal Abusive Law

Pakistan has set the standard for intolerance when it comes to misusing blasphemy laws, but sending a schoolboy to jail for something he scribbled on an exam paper is truly appalling. It’s bad enough that a school official flagged it, but for police and judicial authorities to go ahead and lock up a teenager under these circumstances is mind boggling. – – Bede Sheppard, senior children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch

(New York) – The Pakistani government should immediately drop blasphemy charges against a 17-year-old student and ensure his safe release from detention, Human Rights Watch said today.

The authorities arrested Muhammad Samiullah on January 28, 2011, and charged him under Pakistan’s “blasphemy law,” article 295-C of the criminal code, for allegedly including derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad in his answers on a written school exam in April 2010. According to press reports, police at Shahra Noor Jahan Police Station in Karachi registered a case against Samiullah after receiving a complaint from the chief controller of the intermediate level education board. On January 29, a judicial magistrate, Ehsan A. Malik, ordered Samiullah sent to a juvenile prison pending trial. …

Read more : Human Rights Watch