Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto speech on 63rd birth anniversary of Benazir Bhutto

Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's speech on... by PPPOfficial

A Tribute to Benazir Bhutto

Wajid Shamsul Hasan

“Our suffering and pain has been enormous. One day the season will change and the tide will turn and Inshallah it will be soon,” were Benazir Bhutto’s words on her 50th birthday in 2003. It took almost five years for season to change and the tide to turn but Bibi had to give her blood for it. She knew hounds were after her and “something terrible was waiting for her” and yet she returned to Pakistan.
“My people are waiting for me to free them from dictatorship”
“You could still lead them from London or Dubai,” I suggested.
Her response was a firm NO. “They will feel let down” and then she added, “Come, come Wajid Bhai, don’t you think it is better to die for the cause you have lived and struggled all your life for rather than be run over by a double-decker crossing the road”. Indeed, like father like daughter.
Until then and 2007 President General Pervez Musharraf had absolute power backed to the hilt by his foreign masters. He saw in her return to Pakistan an end to his rule and return of democracy. As such he was determined not to let her come back. He would not, at any cost, let her participate in elections whenever held. Obviously he knew the moment she would announce her return home, it would usher in dynamics of change and sound a death knell to his dictatorship.
Bhutto’s was a non-negotiable commitment with the people –to return to Pakistan, to fight to her last—to uproot dictatorship to usher in democracy and to scotch the hydra-headed threat to Pakistan’s existence posed by growing terrorism, sectarianism and bigotry. Long dictatorial rules one after the other, had inflicted enormous domestic problems on Pakistan and its people. She was also conscious of multifaceted external issues that were sure to have serious consequences for Pakistan and rest of the world too as are being now manifested in its regional and global ramifications.
She had believed that democracy was never really given a chance to grow or nurture by the powerful establishment that had directly ruled the country for over 30 years and rest of the time pulled the strings from behind the façade of democracy to make the government of the day dance to martial music. Indeed, Pakistan continues to reap the bitter harvest until today, of the seeds sowed by General Ziaul Haq and General Pervez Musharraf.
The results of long suppression of democracy have had profound institutional consequences. Parliament is there but a non-serious government has made it almost dysfunctional. The present government instead of further consolidating a vendetta-free democratic culture of tolerance left as a legacy by the previous Zardari government has been creating an atmosphere justifiable for extra-constitutional intervention. It was Parliament that protected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif when his chips were absolutely down during the Dharnas of 2014.
I had forecast that the battle of ToRs over Panama Gate scandal would end in an exercise in futility. It seems imminent that the matter would go to the street and it would, advertently or inadvertently, prove to be fatalistic for the system or gravely undermine it. Political parties and their leaders are already demonised. Most deplorable is the case of Dr Asim Hussain who is being apparently made to sing. May be a time would come when he would be forced to claim that he robbed Somnath’s temple.
Analysts believe that all the happenings in and around would make be a happier occasion than October 12, 1999 when people had distributed good riddance sweets. The on-going politicking by unidentified spooks for undermining the political parties, creation of splinter groups—are from the book of standard procedures for change in civilian government readily available in Aabpara.
GPM sought to strengthen himself on the crutches of religious parties and by running with the American hares and hunting with the Taliban hounds. It was the perseverance of Bhutto and her sacrifice in blood that made elections inevitable early 2008 that paved the way for democratic change and GPM’s ignominious exit.
Unfortunately, democracy has remained on roller coaster mould and it has not happened the way she had wished for. While the establishment played wily games as usual from behind the scene as manifested in Memogate conspiracy, the then Supreme Court Chief Justice, kicked out by GPM, restored by PPP government—had his own agenda or personal scores to settle in destabilising the fragile democratic dispensation to keep it for five years on tenterhooks.
The decision by ex-president Zardari to sustain Benazir Bhutto’s vision in Charter of Democracy as a panacea to political ills and his historic decision to further empower the provinces through 18th Amendment, have weakened the overbearing existence of the Centre and the powerful establishment. Despite the fact that machinations are on to strike back at 18th amendment by both Takhte Lahore and Takhte Rawalpindi—emergence of yet another centre of power is indeed landmark achievement in consolidating the federal structure with maximum autonomy to the provinces.
While poor people in the country wish Bhutto were alive today to solve their multifaceted problems inflicting their lives—be it high prices, perpetual load-shedding, deterioration in law-and-order, galloping unemployment—the most to long for her are women, children and minorities. Overly abused women and oppressed minorities—would have found her standing with them against male chauvinism and oppressive bigotry of the religious extremists who continue to bask under the overt and covert patronage of the government and the establishment.
As a tribute to her on the occasion of her birth anniversary, PPP leadership must get down to stock taking of its pluses and minuses. It must realise that the odds it faces today are extremely onerous. With Benazir Bhutto not around, to surmount them would be challenging. It would require extra ordinary effort and rare qualities of leadership. It must understand that the present government and the establishment--though sleeping in different beds, have the same dream to decimate PPP further as a political force.
Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto and PPP President Asif Zardari must have a common strategy to address immediately problems of the abused women, children and minorities. The number of women burnt to death recently in Punjab is alarming, sexual abuse of children, rape of girls and victimisation of minorities—are multiplying. And the irony of horrid scenario is that neither the Punjab government is bothered nor is the Federal Interior Minister—remotely concerned.
It was a cherished dream of Benazir Bhutto to revert Pakistan to its founder Quaid-e-Azam Mohamed Ali Jinnah’s vision of a secular, liberal and progressive country and to SZAB’s egalitarian society. Being a young man Bilawal would do well in returning PPP to its original left-of-the-centre ideological moorings. Success at that would be the best tribute to the memories of the departed leaders.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Pashto Music - Sardar Ali Takkar سم قامت دوست محمد کامل

Pakistan - Kalash teenager's Forced conversion - A tale of bigotry

Not without reason is Pakistan considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world for minorities. Hidden underneath the more publicised and shocking incidents of massacres and mob lynchings are incidents of ordinary bigotry. A general sense of superiority and entitlement in the majority, discrimination in educational institutions and workplaces are so common that they by their very prevalence have gained a high degree of acceptance. This low-level bigotry keeps intercommunity tensions simmering constantly and all it takes is one spark for the situation to boil over and turn into yet another massacre, burning or lynching. The Kalash people of Chitral, a tiny minority of a few thousand individuals, have become the most recent victims of mob mentality that took over their Muslim neighbours due to a single but crucially important incident.
On June 16, a teenage Kalash girl, who had recently converted to Islam and moved in with a Muslim family, returned home, stating that she was forced to convert to Islam. However, it was assumed by the local Muslim community that she had been taken back by force. A clash resulted when a large group of Muslims gathered around the home of a neighbour where the girl was present. The local police eventually intervened in order to disperse the crowd and prevent bloodshed. A clear message has been sent to the Kalash community and other minorities in this country: forced conversion is a one-way street and there is no going back. As they slowly dwindle in numbers by moving to safe havens abroad or merging with the majority either by choice or by force, our religious minorities continue to be made to feel increasingly isolated and unsafe. From the law enforcement agencies that are slow to take action against religiously-motivated hate crimes, to clerics who are quick to call for action against ‘blasphemers’ and a public that is at best indifferent to the suffering in their midst, there appears to be little recourse available to our minorities when made to suffer indignities such as the one witnessed in the Chitral incident.

Tension in Pakistan town over conversion of Kalasha girl to Islam

The conversion to Islam of a 14-year-old girl from Kalasha community, Pakistan’s smallest religious minority, has sparked clashes between majority Muslims and a few thousand remaining members of the animist tribe.
Nestled in the picturesque Chitral valley, the Kalasha people, who follow an ancient animistic religion and number only around 3,000, had claimed that the teenage girl was lured to convert to Islam.
However, a district official on Friday said that the girl has recorded her statement before the court that she converted out of her own free will.
On Thursday, clashes were reported between Muslims and the Kalasha people after the girl returned back to her family amid reports that she was lured and coerced to convert to Islam.
According to eye witnesses, a mob of few hundred Muslim men attacked a house in the Kalash tribe’s valley of Bumburate in the northern district of Chitral after the girl returned and police had to fire tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Chitral Deputy Commissioner Usama Waraich said that the situation was now under control and the issue has been resolved as both local Muslims and Kalasha people have agreed to respect the girl’s decision.
However, some elders of the Kalasha community still claim that the girl was forcefully converted and demand an impartial probe into the matter.

Pakistan - Consul General of the United States in Karachi Brian Heath called on Bilawal Bhutto

Consul General of the United States in Karachi Brian Heath called on Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party at Bilawal House today.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and the US Consul General exchanged views on matters of mutual interests and discussed the cordial relations between two countries.

Pakistan’s major foreign policy challenge

By Dr Qaisar Rashid

Pakistan seems to have taken to heart the grievances reflecting reduction in its perceived size regionally and internationally

In 2016, the major foreign policy challenge Pakistan is beset with is reduction in its conceptual size, both regionally and internationally. The challenge is emanating from certain grievances that can be divided into three parts. The first part is against India, the second part against the US and the third part against the world.
Against India, Pakistan’s first grievance is that India is overplaying the terrorism card, as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi did on June 8 while addressing the US Congress, and by doing so India has superimposed the issue of Mumbai attacks that took place in 2008 — blamed on non-state actors of Pakistan — on the issue of Kashmir lingering on since 1947. Second, India has made a deliberate attempt to counterbalance the port of Gwadar strategically by helping Iran financially develop its port of Chabahar, also located in the Gulf of Oman. Third, India has penetrated Afghanistan’s economy at the expense of Pakistan by investing in Afghanistan’s reconstruction. Fourth, on May 15, India has tipped the regional balance of ballistic-missile power in its favour by successfully test-firing its anti-ballistic missile in the Indian Ocean. Collectively, India has made efforts to dwarf Pakistan regionally, and it has been encircling Pakistan from the southwest.
Against the US, Pakistan’s first grievance is that the US does not respect Pakistan’s sovereignty, and misses no chance to violate it, especially by resorting to drone strikes. Second, the US has not yet appreciated the sacrifices given by Pakistan’s soldiers, officers and civilians in making the military operation Zarb-e-Azb against the Taliban as part of war on terror successful. Third, by killing the head of the Afghan Taliban Mullah Akhtar Mansur in Balochistan on May 21, the US has sabotaged Pakistan’s efforts to promote peace talks between the Afghan Taliban — many of whom have taken refuge in Pakistan — and the Kabul government, sponsored by the world. Fourth, the US deliberately avoids drone strikes on the head of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Mullah Fazalullah who has sought refuge in Afghanistan, and who controls the hordes of terrorists wreaking havoc on Pakistan. Fifth, the US has disturbed the balance of power in South Asia by offering defence cooperation facility to India. Sixth, the US has supported India in the nuclear sphere and not Pakistan. Collectively, the US has enhanced the vulnerability of Pakistan.
Against the world, Pakistan’s first grievance is that the world values Pakistan’s relevance in the region just in the context of Afghanistan. Second, the world has not yet sympathised with Pakistan on the discovery of Kulbhushan Yadav, a serving Indian naval officer, caught in March in Balochistan on spying charges. Collectively, the world has left Pakistan on its own.
The package of these salient grievances poses a major foreign policy challenge to Pakistan. The thread common in these grievances is that these are related more to the military half than the diplomatic or civilian half of Pakistan. The military half seems to have overwhelmed the diplomatic half as far as Pakistan’s foreign policy and the ensuing challenges are concerned. To put it straight, either the foreign office is irrelevant or it is dysfunctional. It is apparent that Pakistan seems to have taken to heart the grievances reflecting reduction in its perceived size regionally and internationally. The worst side of the argument is that, in response to these grievances, Pakistan is in the process of imposing isolation on itself, instead of reaching out to India, the US and the world. These grievances seem to have exhausted the nerves of Pakistan, which has now taken refuge in the lap of China.
In response to the drone strike of May 21, on June 9, China had to ask the “international community to respect Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” The statement exuding solemn intent issued by China is replete with six serious implications. First, Pakistan is not an independent country that has to bank on external help to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Second, after more than 60 years of its formation, Pakistan has not reached the stage of maturity from where it can make other countries — whether they be India or the US — listen to it. Third, Pakistan’s relations with the US are now onward less bilateral and more multilateral subject to China’s approval. Fourth, in case of the next drone strike or any interference from across the Afghanistan border — or any other border — interpreted as the violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be tantamount to provoking China directly into the consequent attrition or confrontation. Fifth, Pakistan has brought China to counter the US and its international allies in the region. Sixth, Pakistan is no more tolerant to the war on terror spearheaded by the US and backed by the world at large. This is a very serious turn of events.
In principle, Pakistan should not have asked China to issue such a statement, or China should not have jumped into the foray, as this was a hide-and-seek game going on for the past 12 years — exposing often the complicity of Pakistanis despite all hue and cry — and was taking the last breath. Afghanistan is a complex war theatre, and the Pak-Afghan border is quite intriguing to understand and equally difficult to predict. Whereas the statement foists permanence, the ground situation is in a state of flux. On June 11, a 14-minute audiotape of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri has surfaced online pledging allegiance to the new leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Haibat ullah. It means that al-Zawahri is alive and can be found sooner or later. On June 12, Pakistan and Afghanistan exchanged fire at Torkham border. Hence, today, Pakistan’s major foreign policy challenge is how to avoid confrontation with the US and its allies, even if India is excluded from the list of US allies. The civilian half of Pakistan must interfere in this development and make arrangements to retract the statement.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Pakistan - Reversal of NAP?

On December 24, 2014 an All Parties Conference attended by political parties in the government and opposition as well as leadership of the Army had finally approved a 20 points National Action Plan (NAP) to defeat terrorism and extremism in the country. Coming after the massacre of school children in Peshawar on December 16, 2014 the plan enjoyed full and unconditional support from all segments of population of the country. This was supposed to be a milestone in the history of a country that had lived in denial of the existence of terrorism for long years. The plan seemed to be relatively comprehensive and ambitious compared to the half hearted and ad hoc measures adopted in the past. It created hope inside the country and also abroad that finally Pakistan has mustered political will to eliminate the menace of terrorism once and for all and is on the course to become a normal country.
But when it came to implementation it gradually became clear that it was basically more of the same. Apart from taking some partial steps against some individuals and organisations the government and state authorities confined themselves in the war against terror to high rhetoric without any substance. The only clause of NAP implemented with almost unholy haste was amending the Constitution and Army Act to provide for the creation of military courts to try civilians accused of committing terrorist offenses. The state started dragging its feet on implementing all other clauses such as registering and reforming religious seminaries, disallowing proscribed organisations to operate under other names, banning hate speech, acting against terror networks in the Punjab, mainstreaming FATA etc.
Interestingly both civilian and military institutions tried to blame the other for the non-implementation of the NAP. While the civilians could grumble only in private about the deep state’s connections with some notorious terror outfits hindering action against them, the khakis publicly blamed bad governance of civilian, particularly in the Punjab, being responsible for the failure of state’s campaign against terror. Operation Zarb-e-Azb that destroyed terrorist infrastructure in Tochi Vally, North Waristan and pushed most terrorists into Afghanistan for a new fight against the Afghan state, came handy in creating the impression of a continued state campaign against terror despite the non-implementation of NAP.
Then came May 2016. Renowned English poet of the 20th century T S Eliot had dubbed April as the cruelest month due to a number of happenings attributed to at the start of World War I, but for Pakistan May has become such a month. In May 2011 US military helicopters entered Abbotabad in Pakistan and killed OBL before flying back to their basis in Afghanistan. After a deep shock and prolonged paralysis a commission was appointed by a parliamentary resolution to look into those events and pinpoint reasons for the failure of state. The commission took a long time in writing the report but then its contents didn’t see the light of the day as the report was never made public. No lessons learnt. So there is little surprise that we had to relive that history on May 20, 2016 when US drone strike took out Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour. For 24 hours there was complete silence and paralysis of the entire state machinery. After that incoherent noises started emerging in bits and pieces. This time round with military part having upper hand in the affairs of state and civilian government under political siege the question of probe into the whole thing or apportioning of responsibility was not even raised. Violation of sovereignty was the only conclusion drawn and the presence of Afghan Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan were totally ignored. Interestingly the killing of a Taliban leader was also called a disruption of the peace process, totally obfuscating the fact that the slain leader was determined to continue the war till the very end.
But the more ominous development came after that. In a public gathering of all supporters of the “Jihadi” project, the erstwhile Defense of Pakistan Council, a platform for providing support to militant activities in Pakistan and neighbouring countries was revived. Ironically the aforementioned function was hosted by the proscribed organisation JuD. This platform was originally created in 1999 as Defense of Afghanistan Council, as an expression of solidarity with Afghan Taliban, when they had come under increasing international pressure for extraditing OBL from Afghanistan. The participants of the revival ceremony minced no words about their militant designs. It practically means Pakistan is back to square one. It is ready to publicly allow activities that are regarded terrorist activities by the rest of the world (and also banned under Pakistani NAP) but interpreted as a “Jihadi Project” by the extremist circles in the country. It practically represents the reversal of NAP in unambiguous terms. This ominous development has taken place without approval of the parliament or any decision by the federal or provincial cabinets. Even the army convened civil-military huddle at the GHQ took place later. It seems the deep state is not answerable to any one. Question is, how after all these developments, some one from Pakistan can be complaining that the world is not recognising our sacrifices in the war on terror when we ourselves have totally disregarded them? Are we surprised to see the growing international isolation of the country? But instead of putting our own house in order our security establishment is still hiding behind conspiracy theories.
In normal state systems counter intelligence operatives look for enemies, diplomats look for friends and political leadership looks for partners in the world for mutual cooperation. In our case our entire system is geared to look for enemies. Are we surprised to find them in abundance and what are going to do with them? It is hardly a new thing to say that the myopic policy of using terror as instrument of foreign policy is not only counterproductive but disastrous for Pakistan. Is the death of more than 60,000 Pakistanis (absolute majority of them Pashtuns ), millions of IDPs in FATA and Pakhtunkhwa, billions and billions of rupees in material losses and dangerous isolation of the country is not sufficient proof of the bankruptcy of the aforementioned policy? What is the deep state waiting for?

Pakistan's honor Killings - Blood does not cleanse honor


Why does the honor of a man or a family always lie with woman?

What exactly is honor killing?
It is when the offender (93% of the times a woman) has committed such a grievous crime that her family or community can no longer see other people eye to eye. They no longer can show their face in public unless the lost honor has been restored.
The most popular way to reclaim that honor is usually by killing the culprit. Yes, by killing. Apparently murder is an honorable thing do for such people as “blood cleanses honor.”
What are the things that could lead to honor killing?
A few months back, a brother stabbed his sister multiple times and left her to bleed and eventually (and painfully) die on the steps of their house. It took over 2 hours for her to breathe her last, while her brother waited patiently scrolling through his cellphone.  Her crime was that she had spoken to a man on her cellphone. The brother is in jail now, but hey at least he went with his honor restored.
A man killed his wife the night they were married because he was suspicious that she was not a virgin.
A Saudi cleric also killed his daughter in an extremely brutal way a few years ago under the same suspicion. He used wires and an iron rod in violent and sick ways to find out whether she was a virgin or not. She was left with a crushed skull, broken back, broken ribs, broken left arm, burns and bruises so severe, that she fell into into a coma for 4 months, which then led to death.
She was 5 years old.
But hey, at least when he goes to parties (which he does because he is a free man), he can go with both pockets full of intact honor.
A girl eloped with a boy last month because her family refused to let them marry. A group of 13 wise elders (Jirga) sentenced the teenaged girl who had helped them escape to be burnt to death in a car the runaway girl had once sat in.  Both sentences were carried out. They would have probably killed the ones who had run away too had they not been arrested.
Last week a girl who had married someone of her own choice (love marriage) was tricked into coming home by her family. Then her own mother with the help of her son beat her, strangled her, tied her to a cot and lit her on fire. The neighbors heard her screams and tried to save her but were not allowed to enter the home. When asked about her actions, the mother said, “I have no regrets.” Honor is such a strong possession, that it even turns mothers into savages.
Sometimes it is other non-family members who feel they have to restore their honor too. A few weeks ago an 18 year school teacher was beaten, drenched in petrol and then set on fire by 4 men. Why? She had refused a marriage proposal.  How would they face everyone knowing a mere girl had had the audacity to say No!
“All is fair in honor” seems to be their motto. And they do love setting people on fire too.
There were 1,100 reported cases of honor killing in Pakistan alone in the year 2015, and as the CII has given the go ahead that it is okay to beat wives, the number is clearly and steadily rising. Violence is acceptably on the increase against women.
Just yesterday, a member of Pakistani senate Hafiz Hamdullah who is also a religious Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader told Marvi Sirmed during a disagreement that she was a “whore” and he would take her and her mother’s pants down. He later on went on to try to assault and punch her as well but was stopped and taken away by security.
Many people took his side including women, who said she was a ‘rude person’ anyway, while others wished that she had in fact received the punches.
No, such violence against women is not restricted to just our country or Saudi Arabia. There are on average a 1,000 honor killings in India as well, and for the same reasons too.
Last week a video went viral where a father and an uncle were stabbing a girl to death for marrying a man they did not approve of. A cow had to rush in for the rescue and attacked the culprits. Some say it was to save her calf, but either ways, even the cow knew that you can’t kill your own blood.
For an HBO TV show a few months back, a journalist asked an Afghani MP about marital rape. His nonchalant reply was simply that maybe he should have her nose cut.
A little 10 year old child was raped by a Mullah in a local mosque after her Quran class. She would have died from the injuries she had sustained due to the horrific rape had it not been for the shelter, “Women for Afghan Women”. Her family however believed that by being raped, she had bought shame to their family and must be killed by drowning her in the river. In spite of this, she was taken from the shelter and handed over to them. The police simply asked them “not to kill her.” Whether she lives or not, it is not known.
Until 1980, a law that allowed honor killing was part of the Italian penal code. It was only taken out after a lot of campaigning. In Brazil, men could be acquitted for murdering their wives up until 1991.
Such laws that promote violence against women seem to be there since time started. It was there in Assyrian law codes dating back to 6000 BCE and even the codes of Hammurabi.
Under Roman law, the head of the family, the father had the power to decide who could live and be put to death in their family. Fathers who failed to punish women who had taken away their honor, were then persecuted instead by their peers. It was the same with the Ching dynasty in China, fathers and husbands alike had the right to kill daughters they deemed to have dishonored them.
Kanun of Lekë Dukagjini or simply Kanun was a legal code in olden Albania which stated that women who committed adultery shamed their families and should be killed (as well as blood revenge.) This was formally recognized as the law of the land until the Second World War. To this date, it still continues in some parts though it is now more related to blood revenge.
Why does the honor of a man or a family always lie with woman?
What does this special woman possess that no one else does? That the mere fact that she spoke to a man violently shakes the walls of purity in the community. The fact that she made the choice to marry a person of her own liking changes all the faces of her family to that of beasts?
In yesterday’s incident, had a man replied back to Hafiz Mandullah on TV, he probably would have continued arguing and then eventually shut up, but as it was a woman who replied to him with a similar tone, his honor fell 80 feet under the ground and he had to retrieve it by hitting her.
They are all mistaken, every time they try to restore their honor with violence, it only sinks even lower. To such a point, where even if they tried to dig themselves out, they would only fall deeper.
It is the not the woman who brings shame, it is the person who murders her, who cuts her nose, who slashes her face, who punishes her violently who has brought shame.
"Blood does not cleanse honor"

Examining Pakistan's 'honor killings' scourge

The recent burning to death of a teenage girl by her own mother has once again turned the spotlight on the issue of so-called "honor killings" in the country. What are the reasons behind the prevalence of this practice?
Pakistan Protest Steinigung einer schwangeren Frau
In the eastern city of Lahore this week, 18-year-old Zeenat Rafiq was doused with kerosene and set ablaze by her mother Parveen Rafiq, because the young girl had defied her family to marry a man she was in love with.
While the case sparked nationwide outrage, such killings are not uncommon in Pakistan. Last year alone, nearly 1,100 women were killed in the country by their relatives for "dishonoring" families and allegedly violating cultural values on love and marriage, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), a non-governmental organization.
The case of Zeenat Rafiq is the latest in a series of such incidents over the past several months. In the Punjab province, a 19-year-old school teacher named Maria Bibi was set on fire last week for refusing to marry a man twice her age.
A month earlier, police arrested 13 members of a local tribal council in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province for allegedly strangling a 17-year-old girl and setting her on fire for helping a friend elope with her lover.
A rise in reporting
"There has been an increase in the reporting of these crimes to police and the media in recent years," says Tahira Abdullah, a Pakistani human rights activist, adding that this is raising awareness in society about the problem.
At the same time, she told DW, the country is becoming increasingly polarized, with moderate forces losing ground and religious extremists having a bigger say in shaping the nation's politics and laws.
Although the nation's parliament passed a law against honor killings in 2004, it has so far been poorly implemented, say critics.
Furthermore, activists point out that even with better implementation, the law itself will not be enough to prevent such crimes. "Laws cannot do much until there's a positive change in society's attitude toward women," Samar Minullah a social activist and filmmaker, told DW.
Nevertheless, there is a need for strengthening the existing law against honor killings, Abdullah stressed, pointing out that at present most of these cases are not pursued in court. This has led to such crimes being committed with impunity, believe rights advocates.
"The state has to become the guardian of the victims in such cases and ensure stringent punishments for the perpetrators," Abdullah said.
Role of media and religious bodies
The activist also blames the nation's media of partly reinforcing anti-women social attitudes, by portraying women as submissive individuals in their television programming. "In their reporting, the media inadvertently often glorifies the killers," she noted.
Abdullah says there also needs to be reporting on positive stories, citing a father who left his village, property and family in order to protect his daughter from being killed in the name of honor. "A message must be sent to society that there is no honor in killing," she underlined.
Minullah also blames the Islamic Republic's religious parties and Muslim scholars for not doing enough to put an end to such killings.
Pakistan's top clerical body, the Council of Islamic Ideology, has taken controversial stances in recent months, saying that a husband should be allowed to "lightly beat" his wife and declaring a women's protection legislation "un-Islamic."
"We don't talk about women's rights in mosques and how important it is to treat women with equal respect. While the latest CII recommendations concern women's rights, no one from the CII or any other religious body has ever come forward and condemned crimes committed against women," Minullah said.
An ongoing struggle
Abdullah admits it is not easy to change societal attitudes toward women in Pakistan. But she and other activists vow to carry on with their struggle to eradicate the violent practice, notwithstanding the fatwas and threats they receive.
Zaman Khan, head of the complaint cell at HRCP, criticizes the nation's government for not prioritizing women's rights, noting its failure to appoint a chairperson for the National Commission on Status of Women - one of the most important government bodies on women rights - for the past six months.
Khan, however, remains optimistic about women's empowerment in the country.
"I believe that ultimately the women will win, there is a very slow and quite revolution taking place in Pakistan; women from all economic backgrounds are coming out and working. When a woman is economically empowered, it is difficult to suppress her."

Pakistan's Islamic council should be abolished for encouraging violence against women, opposition says

The Pakistan government’s official religious council is fuelling violence against women with its misogynistic recommendations and must be immediately abolished, senators warned on Friday.

The unprecedented high-level attack on the influential Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) by opposition leaders came as the husband ofZeenat Rafiq, victim of the country’s latest gruesome “honour killing” in Lahore this week, vowed to bring his wife’s attackers to justice.
Zeenat, 18, was burnt alive after she married Hasan Khan, a motorcycle mechanic, against the wishes of her family. Her mother has been arrested over her death. 
Hasan Khan at his home in Lahore earlier this week 
Hasan Khan at his home in Lahore earlier this week  CREDIT: AP
She is one of hundreds of women killed every year in Pakistan - often by their own family members - for violating the country's conservative norms regarding love and marriage.
Mr Khan told the Telegraph that he would devote the rest of his life fighting for justice for his late wife, whom he had loved since they were both children.
“I demand justice for my wife. This is the aim of my life,” he said.
The CII, a constitutional body which advises on religious law andwomen’s role in society, has been accused of encouraging violence against women with its frequently controversial legal recommendations.
For instance, it has suggested that husbands should be allowed to "lightly" beat their wives if they turn down sex, and that the minimum marriage age be lowered to nine for girls if there are “visible signs of puberty”.
Although non-binding, the CII’s advice remains influential in fiercely conservative Pakistan.
Schoolteacher Maria Sadaqat Abbasi was drenched in petrol and set alight after refusing a marriage proposal
Schoolteacher Maria Sadaqat Abbasi was drenched in petrol and set alight after refusing a marriage proposal
Senate opposition leader Aitzaz Ahsan said on Friday that recommendations made by the CII allowing violence against women had “contributed to crimes against women with impunity”.
Farhatullah Babar, another opposition leader, called for the validity of the council’s continued existence and its submission of annual reports to parliament to be examined.
“The CII is biased against women and has lost its relevance as well as constitutional basis," he said.
Leaders also criticised the government for allocating Rs100 million (£665,000) annually in funding for the CII.
The CII’s role was initially raised on Friday by senate chairman Mian Raza Rabbani, who linked its influence to Ms Rafiq’s murder.
According to the post-mortem report released on Friday morning, Zeenat, 18, was partially strangled before being burnt alive as she drew her final breaths.
Pakistani teenager survives attempted honour killingPlay!01:56
Zeenat's mother Parveen has stated that she had burnt her daughter to death and shown no remorse for the crime.
But a police official told The Telegraph that was “not possible” that the 50-year-old woman could have committed the act alone. Police on Friday were searching Zeenat Rafique brother, who is believed to have absconded.
Mr Khan said he believed other people must have been involved in her death. “Zeenat's mother is not only the culprit of the heinous crime," he told the Telegraph. 
Zeenat had fled her family after they beat her when she first told them she had fallen in love, he said, but she had later been tricked into returning.
“Her other family members lured her home on the promise of a proper wedding reception. Instead of a reception they killed her brutally.”

Former President Asif Ali Zardari Asks US To 'Trust' Pakistan

Former president Asif Ali Zardari has asked the US to "trust" and "mend ties" with Pakistan to defeat terrorism, amid tension between the two countries over an American drone strike that killed the Afghan Taliban chief in Baluchistan.

Mr Zardari, who served as president from 2008 to 2013, also challenged those US Congressmen who doubt the intention of Pakistan and its role and commitment to take action against the dreaded Haqqani network, which is blamed for a number of attacks against American interests in Afghanistan.

"I would challenge any faction in Congress that holds this view to come to Pakistan and bear witness to our solidarity and resolve," Mr Zardari wrote in an article in Chicago Tribune.

He said in order to defeat terrorism the US and Pakistan should raise the trust level and mend ties.

"Doubters should know that Pakistan has lost nearly 5,000 troops and many thousands of civilians in this fight. These losses were sustained in offensives against terrorist networks in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas - a long-time US priority," The Nation quoted him as saying in the article.

The Pakistan People's Party leader also criticised the US for blocking the sale of eight F-16 jets to Pakistan and said the decision will be counter-productive and self-defeating.

The US Congress has blocked funding for the jets citing Pakistan's unsatisfactory actions against the Haqqani network.

Mr Zardari said the US must play its role along with Pakistan to combat terrorism. "Pakistan is ready and willing to continue its role at the front lines of the war against terrorism. But the US has a part to play in assuring our ability to fight and win on the battlefield."

His comments came amid tension between Pakistan and the US following the May 21 drone strike that killed Mullah Akhtar Mansour deep inside Pakistan.

Prime Minister's Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz yesterday told a high-level US delegation in Islamabad that the drone attack "was not only a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and breach of the principles of the United Nation's Charter, but has also vitiated bilateral ties".

Pakistan-US ties are sliding down due to differences over handling of peace process in Afghanistan and US' growing defence ties with India, especially its support to India's membership for the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Mr Zardari said as the talks between the delegation and the Pakistani government continue, the US should reaffirm sale of fighter aircraft and with it faith in an indispensable partnership in defence of civilisation.

He said the war against terrorism has not only cost Pakistan human lives but has also taken the country towards economic crisis.

"Three decades of war has also meant slower economic growth and foreign direct investment than that of other developing countries whose borders are not active war zones. These are among the hidden opportunity costs of our commitment to fighting terrorism," he wrote.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Video - Bilawal Bhutto Speech In Kotli Azad Kashmir 30th April 2016

Pakistan - Budget an attempt to break federation, says Bilawal

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Tuesday rejected the federal budget for fiscal year 2016-17 terming it an attempt to break the federation.
“[It] seems this budget has been designed to break the federation. We reject one unit budget for Punjabistan,” the PPP chairperson tweeted.
Seems this budget has been designed to break the federation. We reject one unit budget for Punjabistan.