Monday, March 25, 2019

#Pakistan's Hindu Girls - Forceful Conversions

The recently surfaced video of two underage Hindu girls married to two Muslim men is not the first incident of its kind. We have come across many such stories before where the men, girls elope with, claim that the girls had accepted Islam willingly and subsequently married Muslim men. The tale of Reena and Raveena, the latest addition to the list of Hindu girls’ conversion to Islam, makes a story that is playing on repeat in Umerkot – a district that is home to large communities of Hindus – as media reports suggest that around 25 forced marriages to take place every month in the region mentioned afore.
What does this mean to the religious minorities living in Pakistan in general and the Hindus in particular? The present scheme of things suggests that religious minorities are not safe in Pakistan, to put it bluntly. The issue of forceful conversions and underage marriages mean that the state is continuously failing its minorities.
The present case violates the law of the land on two accounts. Firstly, the sad state of affairs tells that while some people in the society flout article 20 of the Constitution of Pakistan that guarantees freedom of religion to every citizen, the government often the times stands as a silent spectator. Secondly, the act was also in violation of “The Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act” – as the two girls are 14 and 16 years old according to the first information report (FIR) registered in the police station – calls everyone under 18 a child.
The Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan has already ordered the provincial governments of Sindh and Punjab to take appropriate measures in this regard. However, this is not the correct approach to deal with the problem. Dealing with the case in isolation will not stop recurrence of such mishaps in future. The issue of forceful conversions and marriages is one of the many problems that religious minorities in Pakistan face.
The PM is already aware of the constant abuses of the rights of minorities. Being the Chief Executive of the country, he needs to devise a strategy that can ensure the protection of lives, properties and other fundamental rights of religious minorities. Doing so is also important if he is still keen on converting Pakistan into a truly Islamic welfare state. But if he and his party fail in providing a safe living space for religious minorities to live their lives peacefully in Pakistan, then his dream of the Islamic welfare state can turn into an ugly reality where everyone will be at war against everyone.
https://nation.com.pk/25-Mar-2019/forceful-conversions

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari: Questionable accountability process

It seems that there are two kind of laws reserved for politicians when it comes to their accountability. On one hand, we have Prime Minister Imran Khan and his family members either given clean chit or lighter penalties while on the other hand, former president Asif Ali Zardari and Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari are consistently facing court hearings and appearances in front of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
The prime minister and his sister Aleema Khan may not have held a public office before but so has Bilawal. He’s being cornered by not only NAB but the media as well when the fact remains that there’s a due process to be followed. The media cannot decide who’s guilty or innocent on its own and must report within the norms of journalistic ethics.
As for NAB, its reputation isn’t as clean as being presented in some quarters. Stories of harassment, victimisation and politically motivated cases are widely known in relevant circles. Brigadier (retd) Asad Munir’s case is a key example of how NAB’s investigating officers impose their inhumane policies upon the accused.
Similarly, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members have also faced severe victimisation at the accountability body’s hands. The legal process was not only questionable but clearly indicated that it was all about political vendetta. Indeed, the Panama Papers had incriminating evidences, but the due process was not followed by the books and there was an urgent hurry in convicting the Sharifs.
As for Bilawal, he’s most likely being victimised because he belongs to one of the most influential political dynasties of the country. His father remained in jail for 11 years accumulatively who also had to face injustices. Neither the accountability process was followed with sincerity nor anything was proven to confine him to prison in the past.
Certain sections of the media should refrain from media trials of politicians which influences the accountability process. Moreover, NAB needs to reform itself, hire competent and highly qualified officials on all levels, and pursue cases through a credible legal process free of any external influences.
If someone is guilty then the law would duly take its course but in current conditions, this is not even remotely possible. All politicians should be equally treated when it comes to their accountability rather than promoting favouritism or having deep-seated hatred. 

#Pakistan - Death of dialogue - Professor's murder in #Bahawalpur shows we have forgotten how to respect difference of opinion

By Huma Yusuf
LAST week, Khalid Hameed, head of the English department at Bahawalpur’s Govern­ment Sadiq Egerton College, was stabbed to death by his student who accused him of promoting un-Islamic activities (a mixed welcome gathering). After the shocking incident, opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif said that the fatal consequences of the difference of opinion should lead to a moment of national reflection.
But you cannot reflect if you don’t know how to reason. Reasoning is a form of internal debate. It is a discursive practice that requires acknowledging and accommodating dissenting views. And this practice, of recognising, respecting and perhaps reconciling differing opinions, is something that Pakistanis have forgotten how to do.
They are no longer taught to think critically, they are no longer allowed to speak freely, and their political representatives no long engage in debate, so how can we expect better? We now live in a time so alienated from the concept and value of meaningful dialogue, that even a flicker of disagreement or dissent creates such profound unease that it provokes accusations of treason or blasphemy, all too often used to justify death.
Tragically, Hameed’s murder is not unprecedented. It has echoes of governor Salmaan Taseer’s killing, as the student who opted for murder as an expression of disagreement dismissed the judicial system for ‘freeing blasphemers’. Rather th
an learn lessons over the past decade, we have simply mainstreamed hate, extremism and the practice of taking the law into one’s own hands. You cannot reflect if you don’t know how to reason.
It was also not the only incident last week that highlighted that dialogue is dead in Pakistan. The sentencing to life imprisonment of two more accused in Mashal Khan’s killing was a reminder how that outspoken young man who sought to champion students’ rights was silenced through false blasphemy accusations and lynching, rather than debate.
Take a look: Intolerance? Bigotry? Ignorance?
Similarly, the KP Assembly’s unanimous resolution against the Aurat March held earlier this month signalled the complete lack of appetite for a national debate on a key issue: women’s rights. With its parliamentary trappings, the resolution may seem like a discursive way of presenting an alternative opinion. But in the Pakistani context we cannot be so naive.The resolution accused women who participated in the Aurat March of behaving in an un-Islamic manner and furthering the agenda of ‘hidden forces’ seeking to undermine Pakistan’s social norms. It called on the federal government to ‘expose’ those forces and unravel the ‘conspiracies’ of the marchers.Despite the democratic veneer, KP’s parliamentarians know that by invoking ‘hidden forces’ and claiming that the participants went against Islam they have effectively silenced those voices and squashed the potential for a much-needed debate on women’s rights. In the present climate, there can be no worse insinuation than that someone has behaved unpatriotically or potentially committed blasphemy: the former results in intimidation, harassment, unlawful detention, torture; the latter in mob violence and death.
The resolution is doubly frustrating because it will douse the spark of dialogue that the Aurat March had lighted. The days after the march were a rare instance in recent history in which an actual debate was brewing.
Following the peaceful marches — and in light of the media’s disproportionate focus on a few provocative posters — there was a lively conversation among Pakistani feminists: march organisers defended their decision not to police the content of posters; feminist icons such as Kishwar Naheed spoke out against some women’s calls for greater sexual and reproductive autonomy; women’s rights activists from different political backgrounds and generations discussed the priorities and parameters of gendered activism in Pakistan.Initially, a wave of cyberbullying, and the ridiculous #MardMarch social media campaign, sought to silence these women’s voices that had proven brave enough not only to agitate, but also to debate. But what the misogynistic online backlash failed to silence, the KP resolution likely will.Abdul Rasheed, an MMA MPA in Sindh, will be pleased. He argued there was no space for the Aurat March in Pakistan’s narrative. His comments presume that this narrative is the same for all 200 million-plus Pakistanis, when it could not possibly be so. His call for the government to control such events shows that dialogue — which is what peaceful movements want — falls well outside the imaginary of our political representatives.
The death of dialogue is a global phenomenon thanks to the noise of 24/7 media, the power of the sound bite, the rise of the celebrity politician, and the far right resurgence. But in Pakistan — which is weaponised, brutalised by a decade of terrorism, and traumatised by a history of martial law — the lack of dialogue means the only language we know is violence. God help the nation that speaks by killing.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1471742/death-of-dialogue

ٹرین مارچ: بلاول 25 مقامات پر کارکنوں سے خطاب کرینگے

پاکستان پیپلز پارٹی کے چیئرمین بلاول بھٹو زرداری منگل کو خصوصی ٹرین کے ذریعے کراچی سے لاڑکانہ کے لیے روانہ ہوں گے، وہ راستے میں 25 مقامات پر کارکنوں سے خطاب کریں گے۔
بلاول کے لیے خصوصی ٹرین کے لیے خصوصی سیلون آج کراچی پہنچے گا،اس خصوصی ٹرین کی سیکیورٹی کے انتظامات بھی خصوصی کیے جائیں گے۔
ریلوے حکام کے مطابق بلاول بھٹو زرداری کے لیے کراچی سے لاڑکانہ تک خصوصی ٹرین چلانے کی درخواست دی گئی تھی، جسے منظور کر لیا گیا۔
بلاول بھٹو منگل کی صبح کراچی کے کینٹ اسٹیشن سے روانہ ہوں گے، خصوصی ٹرین 10 ڈبوں پر مشتمل ہو گی جس میں ایک خصوصی سیلون، ایک ایئرکنڈیشن سلیپر اور اکانومی کلاس کی 8 بوگیاں شامل ہیں۔
بلاول بھٹو کے لیے ریلوے سیلون پیر کو کراچی پہنچے گا، اس میں بلاول بھٹو زرداری اور ان کا اسٹاف سفر کرے گا، اس سلسلے میں ریلوے پولیس سمیت سندھ پولیس کی جانب سے سیکیورٹی کے خصوصی انتظامات کیے گئے ہیں۔
ذرائع کے مطابق وی وی آئی پیز کو سیکیورٹی فراہم کرنے والے اسپیشل سیکیورٹی یونٹ کے 50سے زائد افسران و اہلکار بلاول کے ساتھ سفر کریں گےجبکہ پیپلز پارٹی کے رہنماؤں، کارکنوں اور میڈیا کی ٹیم بھی خصوصی ٹرین میں سفر کرے گی۔
بلاول ہاؤس کے ترجمان کے مطابق بلاول بھٹو زرداری کراچی سے لاڑکانہ کے سفر کے دوران 25 مقامات پر عوام سے خطاب کریں گے۔
وہ 26 مارچ کی رات نوابشاہ میں قیام کریں گے، وہاں سے 27 مارچ کی صبح خصوصی ٹرین براستہ سکھر رات کو لاڑکانہ پہنچے گی، جہاں پیپلز پارٹی کے کارکن بلاول بھٹو زرداری کا استقبال کریں گے۔

Sunday, March 24, 2019

China has a responsibility to not shield Pakistan, says Trump official

 

This comes after China put a technical hold on the proposal to designate Masood Azhar as a global terrorist for the fourth time.

China has a responsibility not to shield Pakistan and should urge Islamabad to take action against terrorists, a senior Trump administration official has said, expressing deep disappointment over Beijing’s decision to block a bid in the UN to designate Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a “global terrorist”.
Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) led by Azhar claimed responsibility for the February 14 terrorist attack in Kashmir’s Pulwama district which killed 40 Indian security personnel.
“We think China has a responsibility to not shield Pakistan and join the international community in calling on Pakistan to take action against terrorists operating on its soil,” the senior Trump administration official said on Wednesday.
After the Pulwama attack, the US, France and Britain moved a resolution in the UN Sanctions Committee of the Security Council to designate Azhar as a “global terrorist”.
The move suffered a setback as China put a “technical hold” on the proposal for the fourth time, a move India termed as disappointing.
“We believe that China and the US share a mutual interest in achieving regional stability and peace. And that any failure on the Security Council as part to designate Masood Azhar as a terrorist would run counter to this mutual goal that China and the United States have,” the official said.
“We don’t really understand this. China should not be shielding Pakistan’s support for known terrorist organisations. So, we’re hoping that we can work together on a mutual goal in terms of countering terrorism and upholding our security council responsibility,” the official said.
The Trump administration’s view on China’s decision on Azhar came as Germany initiated a move at the European Union to list the JeM leader as a global terrorist.
Noting that it was not the first time the JeM attacked India, the official said this was the reason the Trump administration thinks now is the time for Pakistan to crackdown on the terror group.
This has been made very clear to the leadership of Pakistan, said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
This same group was responsible for other attacks in India like the 2001 Parliament attack, which resulted in a six-month India-Pakistan mobilisation, the official said.
The US is also working at the United Nations, urging Pakistan to uphold its responsibilities pursuant to its UN Security Council commitments to deny safe haven and support to terrorists and to freeze the funds and financial assets of entities on the UN Security Council 1267 sanctions list.

#Pakistan - Dr Ramesh to table resolution for ending abduction of #Hindu girls

A five-point resolution seeking to end the kidnapping of Hindu girls and forced conversions would be tabled in the next session of National Assembly.

According to a resolution draft circulated on Social Media, prominent Hindu lawmaker Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani was asked by Pakistan Hindu Council to play his due role for raising voice in parliament, media, civil society and all other forums available, in wake of recent kidnapping of two Hindu sisters named Reena and Raveena, and another girl Shania from Mirpur Khas. Ages of all three girls are around 13-14 years.

Dr Ramesh Kumar, according to resolution draft, demanded that the most unfortunate incidents of kidnappings and forced conversions must be condemned unanimously by all honorable members of parliament. “The bill against forced conversions which was unanimously passed by Sindh Assembly in 2016 and then reverted due to pressure of extremist elements, must be resurrected and passed in the Assembly on priority basis, “ said the resolution draft.

The resolution also mentioned that Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights has already unanimously approved the draft bill to amend the Child Marriage Restraint Act raising the minimum age of marriage to 18 years, and also by Sindh Assembly. According to Dr Ramesh Kumar, the bill must be passed in National Assembly on urgent basis, and implemented throughout the country in letter and spirit.

Dr Ramesh Kumar, in his resolution, also demanded to take strict action against controversial religious elements including Mian Mithu Bharchoondi and Pir Ayub Jan Sirhindi for their alleged role in supporting such inhuman practice. He asked the parliament to seek answers from such elements that why neither boy nor old woman, only young girls are converting religion? “All of those who are preaching hate under the cover of religion must be handled like banned religious organizations,” the resolution stated.

The resolution to be presented by Dr Ramesh Vankwani, concludes that ensuring a peaceful society is responsibility of all Pakistani nationals and thus, regardless of minority or majority, all segments of society must struggle together to promote tolerance, interfaith harmony and protection of minorities’ rights, according to Quaid-e-Azam ‘s vision.

https://pakobserver.net/2019/03/25/dr-ramesh-to-table-resolution-for-ending-abduction-of-hindu-girls/

Pakistan: Ever-Present Threat – Analysis

By Ajit Kumar Singh
On March 17, 2019, at least five passengers were killed and seven others wounded in an explosion inside a moving train near Shaheed Aziz Billo checkpost in Naseerabad District of Balochistan.
On March 15, 2019, a Police Constable attached to the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) was killed by unidentified assailants in the Muddy Area of Kulachi tehsil(revenue division) in the Dera Ismail Khan District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).
On March 14, 2019, two persons were killed and nine injured in an improvised explosive device (IED) explosion in the Chatkan area of Panjgur District in Balochistan.
On the same day, a Doctor was killed by assailants in the Zangal Khel area of Kohat District in KP.
On March 8, 2019, four Defence Service Guard (DSG) personnel were killed while two local employees were injured in an explosion in a gas pipeline in the Sui area of Balochistan.
According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), Pakistan has recorded at least 71 fatalities (25 civilians, 29 Security Force (SF) personnel and 17 militants) in 2019 (data till March 17, 2019). During the corresponding period of 2018, there were at least 134 fatalities (36 civilians, 49 SF personnel and 49 militants). Through 2018, Pakistan recorded a total of 691 terrorism-linked fatalities. There were 1,260 such fatalities in 2017; 1,803 in 2016; 3,682 in 2015; 5,496 in 2014 and 5,379 in 2013. A sharp fall in overall fatalities is evident since 2015.
The number of major incidents (each involving three or more fatalities) and resultant fatalities have also witnessed declining trends. There were a total of 446 major incidents and 3,737 fatalities in 2014; 310 incidents and 2,495 fatalities in 2015; 149 incidents and 1,169 fatalities in 2016; 143 incidents and 994 fatalities in 2017; and 67 incidents with 534 fatalities in 2018. At least nine such incidents with 48 fatalities have already occurred in 2019 (data till March 17, 2019).
Incidents of explosion and resultant fatalities have also declined. There were a total of 429 incidents with 1,019 fatalities in 2014; 232 incidents with 548 fatalities in 2015; 148 incidents with 538 fatalities in 2016; 119 incidents with 528 fatalities in 2017 and 78 incidents with 352 fatalities in 2018. 2019 has so far recorded 10 such incidents resulting in 22 fatalities (data till March 17, 2019).
Meanwhile, the number of suicide attacks has also declined, with an aberration in 2017. There were 38 suicide attacks in 2014; 31 in 2015; 23 in 2016; 25 in 2017; and 19 in 2018. Resultant fatalities in such attacks stood at 556 in 2014; 235 in 2015; 371 in 2016; 318 in 2017; and 302 in 2018. There has already been one incident in 2019, with 12 fatalities. While the number of suicide attacks has been declining, their intensity, in terms of fatalities, has increased.   
A comparative analysis of the proportion of civilian fatalities in total fatalities registered in the country during this period, indicates that civilians are increasingly bearing the brunt of terrorist violence. Of 3,682 fatalities 2015, 940 were civilians, i.e. 25.52 per cent. This percentage increased to 33.94 in 2016 (612 civilians in a total of 1,803); 42.85 in 2017 (540 civilians in a total of 1,260), and 53.40 per cent in 2018 (369 civilians in a total of 691).
On the other hand, the proportion of militant fatalities has declined considerably. Militants accounted for 65.26 per cent of total fatalities in 2015 (2,403 militants in a total of 3,682); 49.80 per cent in 2016 (898 militants in a total of 1,803); 40.63 per cent in 2017 (512 militants in a total of 1,260); and 22.72 in 2018 (157 militants in a total of 691).
At peak in 2009, Pakistan recorded 11,704 terrorism linked fatalities; with the proportion of militants killed at 71.67, as against 19.85 per cent of civilians. In the subsequent years, even as overall fatalities started declining, the proportion of militant fatalities also declined, while that of civilians has been on the rise.  This trend continued recorded aberrant reversals in 2014 and 2015.    
2018 witnessed at least three prominent incidents targeting civilians: 
November 23: At least 33 people, including 22 Shias, were killed and more than injured in a suicide attack at a crowded marketplace near an imambargah (Shia place of worship) in the Juma Bazar (Friday Market) of Kalaya town in the Lower Orakzai District of KP.
July 13: A suicide bomber targeting a political rally of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) killed at least 149 people and injured over 200 at Dringarh village in Mastung District, Balochistan.
July 10: At least 22 persons, including Awami National Party (ANP) leader Haroon Bilour, were killed in a suicide blast which targeted an ANP election gathering in the Yakatoot area of Peshawar, the provincial capital of KP.
While the decline in fatalities is indicative of sweeping gains across the country, deep concerns remain. In Balochistan, though levels of violence have been relatively low, a smoldering discontent continues to feed the fires of rebellion. In Sindh, the Pakistan Rangers’ operations have marginalised terrorist and organized criminal gangs, but persistent street crime remains significant and retains the potential for resurgence once the operational deployment of the Rangers is withdrawn. In KP, while the fruits of successful SF operations are visible in terms of declining terrorism and related fatalities, irritants persists, with violence disrupting tranquility at regular intervals. People’s grievances remain unaddressed in Gilgit Baltistan, where Islamabad has ensured ‘peace’ only with the help of draconian laws and brutal military repression, and is likely to use the provisions of the Gilgit Baltistan Order 2018 (with the Supreme Court’s stamp of approval) to intensify the use of brute force, this time ‘more legally’. In Punjab, radicalized forces continue to find fertile ground, support and a feeder line of recruits.
Meanwhile, Islamabad’s open support to terrorist formations operating out of its soil remains intact, creating mayhem in neighboring countries. They prominently include the Hafiz Muhammad Saeed-led Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), the front organisation of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), which openly engages in anti-India activities and operates out of its Headquarters in Murdike in the Sheikhupura District of Punjab. Saeed operates freely across the country, holding rallies dominated by anti-India and Islamist hate speech, inciting cadres to wage jihad against India. For instance, on December 18, 2018, addressing a rally at Mall Road in Lahore under the banner of Difa-e-Pakistan Council, Saeed threatened, “You forgot Somnath, (Prime Minister) Modi. The time is near when this war will be fought in your cities not at the borders. You will not be able to hide your terrorism behind curtains.” Most recently, following the February 5, 2019, rally in Lahore addressed by Saeed, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on February 6 issued a note verbale to the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi and registered India’s strong protest at the “continued use of Pakistan controlled territory by extremist and terrorist elements” to freely propagate and promote violence and terror against India.
Similarly, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) ‘chief’ Maulana Masood Azhar, the architect of the February 14, 2019, Pulwama attack, continues to operate freely out of Pakistani soil. In an audio tape he is heard threatening, “If Kashmir is not surrendered, the fire will reach Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow and subsequently engulf the entire country.” On March 6, 2019, former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf admitted that JeM was a terror outfit and his his country’s intelligence, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), had used it to carry out attacks in India during his tenure. Making the disclosure in a telephonic interview to Pakistani journalist Nadeem Malik of Hum News in his talk show, Musharraf added that JeM had tried to assassinate him twice in December 2003.
Recent cosmetic actions again these groups and their front organizations in the wake of the Pulwama attack are no more than another eyewash, as Pakistan has taken several such measures in the past as well, without any real impact on ground and even as these terrorist formations and their leaders continue to be protected by the state and military intelligence apparatus. Both Rawalpindi and Islamabad continue to treat these groups as state assets in their geostrategic overreach into India.
There is, however, no guarantee that these groups will not turn rogue and start targeting Pakistan, joining groups of domestically oriented terror groups operating in Pakistan. This happened with elements within JeM, when it targeted Parvez Musharraf, though the group was subsequently purged and its leadership reinstated.
Pakistan continues, moreover, to support terrorist adventurism against its other neighbours as well, with the continuing and bloody campaigns of the Taliban and Haqqani network drawing resources from and receiving safe haven in Pakistan. Similarly, Iran has suffered attacks by the Jaish-al-Adl, again from Pakistani soil, the most recent of which was the February 13, 2019, Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) attack on the Revolutionary Guard Corps bus, which killed 27 soldiers and injured another 17.
Towards the latter part of 2018, some analysts had been hoping that Pakistan would change for the better under the new Prime Minister Imran Khan, who took the oath of office on August 13, 2018. Very quickly, it has become apparent that Khan is a product of the deep state driven democracy, essentially a nominee of the Army establishment, and, expectedly nothing has changed on the ground.
Despite the sustained decline in terrorism-linked fatalities and incidents over the last four years, a festering wound continues to afflict Pakistan. Islamabad continues use terrorism as an instrument to fulfil its ‘national goal’, exporting terror in neighboring countries including India, Afghanistan and Iran, and well beyond, even as wide spaces remain for domestic and renegade groups to engineer a resurgence, despite their present and substantial repression. America’s imminent flight from Afghanistan and the absence of effective international pressure to compel Islamabad to reorient its policies, have enormously encouraged the establishment in Pakistan to stay the course in its support to terrorism, particularly in the immediate neighbourhood.

Two Hindu Girls Kidnapped, Converted to Islam in Pakistan on Eve of Holi; Sushma Swaraj Seeks Report



The Hindu community in Pakistan has carried out massive demonstrations calling for strict action to be taken against those responsible, while reminding Prime Minister Imran Khan of his promises to the minorities of the country.

Two minor Hindu sisters were allegedly kidnapped and forcibly married after being converted to Islam in Pakistan's Sindh province, triggering protests by the minority community.
The two girls, 13-year-old Raveena and 15-year-old Reena, were allegedly kidnapped by a group of "influential" men from their home in Ghotki district on the eve of Holi. Soon after the kidnapping, a video went viral in which a cleric was purportedly shown soleminising the Nikah (marriage) of the two girls.
Later another video surfaced in which the two sisters claimed they embraced Islam themselves and no one forced them to covert or get married.
The Hindu community in Pakistan has carried out massive demonstrations calling for strict action to be taken against those responsible, while reminding Prime Minister Imran Khan of his promises to the minorities of the country.
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said on Twitter that she had asked the Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan to send a report on the incident.
Sanjesh Dhanja, President of Pakistan Hindu Sewa Welfare Trust, an NGO, called on Prime Minister Khan to take note of the incident and prove to everyone that minorities were indeed safe and secure in Pakistan.
The truth is minorities suffer from different sorts of persecution and the problem of young Hindu girls being kidnapped at gunpoint and forced to convert to Islam or get married to much older men is widespread in Sindh, he said.
Dhanja said the Hindu community had staged several sit-ins in Ghotki district after which police reluctantly registered FIR against the accused persons.
The Hindu community leaders have claimed that the accused belonged to the Kohbar and Malik tribes in the area. Following the incident, an FIR was filed by the girls' brother, alleging that their father had an altercation with the accused some time ago and on the eve of Holi they armed with pistols forcibly entered their home and took the sisters away.
A Pakistan Muslim League-Functional MPA Nand Kumar Goklani, who had initially moved a bill against forced conversions, urged the government to get the law passed immediately.
We demand the government to take up my bill and get it passed without any delay, he said.
Goklani said: "The fact that the two girls were underage confirmed it was a crime and they couldn't show free will on getting married or conversion to Islam". "One of the accused persons has been arrested, while the police were conducting raids to arrest the others," a senior police official of Ghotki district said.

Pakistan’s terrified Christians



The prime minister and people of New Zealand have put before us gold-plated standards of decency, compassion, and firmness against religious terrorism. Their response to last week’s horrific mosque massacres in Christchurch was exemplary. Many countries need to learn from New Zealand, Pakistan more than most.

Donning a black chadar, 38-year-old Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was visibly sorrowing as she tightly hugged the bereaved women around her. Muslims are not others, she said. Referring to the dead, she spoke of them simply but poignantly, “they are us”. To the Australian killer: “You may have chosen us — we utterly reject and condemn you.” Without the Bible and without reference to God, Ardern had been sworn into the prime minister’s office just 18 months ago. She says it is compassion that matters, not religion.

From end to end, her country also mourned. Newspapers reported florists running out of wreaths to be placed outside the two attacked mosques; donations for afflicted Muslim families poured in; churches held special services; and candle-light vigils were everywhere. An angered white teenage boy successfully landed an egg on the face of a far-right Australian senator who had blamed the Christchurch attack upon Muslim immigration into New Zealand. The senator promptly punched him — a punch that the youth will probably forever treasure.

Compare New Zealand’s reaction with the aftermath of every mass killing in Pakistan. With the sole exception of the Peshawar Army Public School massacre in December 2014 carried out by the TTP, I am unaware of any other atrocity inspiring significant public grief and outrage.

One hopes for the day when Pakistan has a prime minister like New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern.

None was evident after a simultaneous attack in May 2010 upon two Ahmadi worship places in Lahore that left 94 dead. No ministers, politicians or other prominent figures hugged the bereaved ones. Shahbaz Sharif, the then Punjab chief minister, chose not to visit the Ahmadi community. However, his elder brother Nawaz Sharif called them our “brothers and sisters”, instantly drawing condemnation from many within his own party. Although one of the accused attackers was overpowered and handed to the police by unarmed worshippers, he was subsequently released.

In numerical terms, the two back-to-back suicide bombings on Peshawar’s All Saints Church in September 2013 were still more gruesome. They left 127 dead — more than two and a half times the number at Christchurch. Commiserations by national leaders rang hollow. Imran Khan, standing outside the bombed-out church, told the survivors that calamity had visited them because of US drone strikes. He said that to prevent still more such attacks Pakistan should negotiate with the TTP (which claimed the church bombing).

How can we know which of Pakistan’s minorities — Ahmadi, Christian, Hazara, Hindu, Shia — has had the roughest deal? One measure of desperation is the extent to which a minority avoids the mainstream and pursues anonymity. Nothing speaks more eloquently to this than the naming of newborns nowadays.

Take Christians. Back in the 1950s the names of Karachi’s Christians, including those in my Garden East neighbourhood, were usually biblically derived. Boys could be Jacob, Joseph, Michael, Paul, Peter, Robert, etc. Girls were often Mary, Pauline, Rachel, Rita, Ruth, etc. But no longer — Christian parents are opting for safety: Emaan, Hina, Iqbal, Maryum, Naveed, Saima, Shafqat, Shahbaz etc. Survival in a hostile milieu demands camouflaging.

But earlier this month, even this dissimulation did not work for one happily married Christian couple with three children, with the entire family having non-Christian specific names. (Dawn’s policy does not allow identification of the rape victim.) Little did they know of the hell that lay in wait. A sexual predator in their Islamabad neighbourhood stalked the wife but was rebuffed by her. With pistol in hand, and with an accomplice, the man later entered their house and abducted her. The police initially refused to register an FIR or recover her, eventually acting only under pressure.

Two weeks later the distraught and disoriented woman was shifted to a Dar-ul-Aman. With severe visible bruises, she says she had been raped for a full 10 days. The police refused the husband’s request for a medical inquiry because, according to the signed evidence, she had converted to Islam and was now one of the abductor’s wives.

This has made the problem infinitely more serious since the woman cannot now legally revert to being a Christian. That she signed the conversion document under duress may or may not matter. The courts, of course, will have to decide. But, given the slowness of such trials, this may take from many months to many years. Meanwhile the family is in hiding and the predator roams freely.

Let us step back and reflect for a moment: in a population of 220 million, there are bound to be egregious examples of wrongdoing; a wider judgement from any single example is unwarranted. A more reliable guide is the extent to which people around demonstrate empathy, and how a religious minority perceives itself positioned in the society. Sadly, this too does not look promising.

At a rally last Saturday (March 16) at the Islamabad Press Club protesting the recent abduction just a few dozen people — mostly Christians — turned up. Speaker after speaker claimed that Christians didn’t deserve this mistreatment because “we too had fought for Pakistan”. Just as unconvincing and pathetic were their appeals to the so-called “Quaid’s Pakistan” and his Aug 11, 1947, speech. But let us not blame these desperate people for clutching at straws; Pakistan’s minorities live under the boot of the majority and know they cannot speak the truth.

If there was a slight ray of hope, it came from one solitary bearded imam from the same neighbourhood of Islamabad as the victims. Forced conversions go against Islam, he said, citing the Quranic verse containing “la ikraha-fi-din” (there is no compulsion in religion). One wonders how far this line of argument will go towards easing the family’s anguish.

As structures of hate proliferate across the world, one desperately looks around for those who can intelligently use love and sympathy as tools to dismantle them. I much hope someone someday will think of nominating Jacinda Ardern for the Nobel Peace Prize. And I hope that someday Pakistan too will have a prime minister like her.
https://www.dawn.com/news/1471340/pakistans-terrified-christians

#Pakistan #PPP - Begum Bhutto remembered - A 90th-birthday tribute

BY  ,

Pakistani politics— an exclusively man’s world— is outrageously discriminatory against women. Pakistan’s founder Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah  had time and again warned the nation that without women standing shoulder to shoulder with men, there could be no progress. No doubt our women despite enormous hurdles in the way to empowerment, have achieved much but still they have a long way to go. They have to demolish anti-feminine taboos, distorted religious inhibitions, bigotry of the powerful clerics and restrictions imposed by feudalistic customs that continue to straightjacket space for progress of rural women.

Whatever limited freedom Pakistani women are enjoying today they owe it to pioneering seniors, especially those great women who can be counted on fingertips. Surely, Pakistan’s history would not be complete without mention of those women who played a lead role in struggle for Pakistan. One cannot forget Bi Amma, widow of Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar who in recognition of her contribution to the freedom movement, was given a place of equality as member of All India Muslim League Working Committee— virtually the Politburo of the party led by MAJ.

Although there were many more that had deep impact, but one cannot undermine four or five of them on top of the ladder who proved to be catalysts, -namely Madre Millat Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah,sister of the Quaid; Begum Raana Liaquat Ali Khan; Begum Nusrat Bhutto; the martyred Benazir Bhutto; and Asma Jehangir. Each one has contributed immensely for the emancipation and empowerment of women in Pakistan.

For the larger interest of democracy she even forgave those in the opposition who had opposed Bhutto

Begum Nusrat Bhutto has had the singular distinction of taking on two dictators, one more ferocious than the previous, when her husband Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was incarcerated by them for his opposition to military dictatorship. She led the PPP– that ZAB had introduced in the national political arena in the face of strongest opposition by the forces of status.

Begum Bhutto was chosen by destiny to play the role of a crusader like her ancestor Salahuddin Ayubi. Her date of birth March 23 (1929) was not just coincidental. When she was 11 years old the Lahore Resolution was adopted for seeking the political rights of the Muslims of India. It was again a strange coincidence that General ‘Tiger’ Niazi laid down his arms to Indian General Arora on 16 December 1971 in the city where in 1906 All India Muslim League was established. On the same day in 1977, Begum Bhutto was brutally injured by General Ziaul Haq’s storm troopers during a Test match at Gaddafi Stadium. On seeing Begum Bhutto in their midst the teeming crowd broke into a deafening crescendo of “Bhutto Zindabad!”

Bhutto’s mock trial and later judicial murder on the orders of four judges from the majority province as against his acquittal by three judges from the smaller— continues to hang like an albatross around the neck of Pakistan’s superior judiciary.

In the limited space here one cannot do justice to the life of struggle, blood, toil and tears of Begum Bhutto. It is a small tribute to her on her birthday anniversary and to honour Pakistani women who stood by her when most of the male leaders of her party had preferred to indulge in the pleasures of life and new wives when politics had become a Herculean challenge to pursue under General Zia.

Begum Bhutto kept ignited the populist aspirations of her husband and his devoted followers by keeping aloft the flag of defiance against the dictator. Initially she was alone but later Bhutto’s “Dearest Daughter” joined her. And that is when the team of mother-daughter served as the catalyst that transformed their peaceful efforts into the ultimate return of democracy that has been rendered now once again into a mess by male leadership.


Begum Bhutto’s most outstanding contribution was towards formation of the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) against Zia’s dictatorship. She did not make it a matter of personal ego but for the larger interest of democracy she even forgave those in the opposition who had opposed Bhutto either on their own or in cahoots with General Zia . Only a woman of big heart could sit with such people. But then for all the Bhuttos, it is the cause that matters and not person or personal ego.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/03/23/begum-bhutto-remembered/#.XJcrilGhXRo.twitter

PPP announces the schedule of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s Caravan-e-Bhutto regarding the 40th Yaum-e-Shahadat of Quaid-e-Awam Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto


Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has announced the schedule of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s Caravan-e-Bhutto regarding the 40th Yaum-e-Shahadat of Quaid-e-Awam Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The 40th Yaum-e-Shahadat would be commemorated with great fervour and esteem at Garhi Khuda Bux. In this context, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will reach Larkana via train from Karachi starting his Caravan-e-Bhutto travel on March 26 morning reaching Larkana on 27th. PPP leaders and workers will warmly welcome the PPP Chairman enroute to Larkana.
PPP Sindh President Nisar Ahmed Khuhro announced this schedule. He was flanked by former Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Waqar Mehdi, Rashid Hussain Rabbani, Bilawal House Media Cell (BHMC) in-charge and MPA Surender Valasai and Noman Shaikh at BHMC, Saturday.
Khuhro said that the 40th Yaum-e-Shahadat of Quaid-e-Awam Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto would be commemorated with great fervour and party workers and people from all corners of the country would rush to Garhi Khuda Bux to pay him rich tribute.
He said that since the air routes to nearby airports has been suspended temporarily, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari would travel to Garhi Khuda Bux via train, which has been named as Caravan-e-Bhutto by the Party. This decision has instilled a wave of joy and happiness among the hearts of the party Jiyalas.
To a question, the PPP Sindh President said that Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s travel via train will not be a protest march because in case there is a need for the protest march then it would be decided by the Party.
Replying to a question, the former Sindh CM Syed Qaim Ali Shah said that the incumbent federal government is applying variety of tactics to place the PPP under duress but it won’t be successful as the party could not be intimidated with such tactics.

https://mediacellppp.wordpress.com/