Thursday, June 21, 2018

Video Report - Did Obama separate families at the border?

Video Report - Bernie Sanders reacts to Trump's executive order

Video Report - #ImmigrantChildren - Joe Kennedy III Eloquently Destroys Trump's Family Separation Policy

The Story Behind TIME's Trump 'Welcome to America' Cover

John Moore, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer for Getty Images, has been photographing immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border for years. This week one of his pictures became the most visible symbol of the immigration debate in America.
“This one was tough for me. As soon as it was over, they were put into a van. I had to stop and take deep breaths,” Moore told TIME Tuesday, describing his reaction to the scene of a two-year-old Honduran girl crying as her mother was being detained in McAllen, Texas. “All I wanted to do was pick her up. But I couldn’t.”
John Moore—Getty Images
John Moore—Getty Images
Due to the power of the image, which appeared as critics from across the political spectrum attacked President Trump’s now-reversed policy of separating children from parents who are being detained for illegally entering the United States, TIME’s editors selected Moore’s photograph to create a photo illustration, including Trump, to make the July 2, 2018, cover of the magazine.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/21/politics/trump-time-cover/index.html

Video - #ImmigrantChildren - Gupta: Kids develop toxic stress without parents

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Video - Texas Democrat: 'Strong racist element' to child detentions

Video - Elijah Cummings Rips Republicans For Allowing Trump's Child Internment Camps

Video Report - Horrifying Video Shows Immigrant Children In Cages

Video - #PPP - Har Ghar se Bhutto Nikle Ga - #BenazirBhutto

Video - #BenazirBhutto - Bilawal Ki Soorat Main Bhutto Nazar Aya

Video - Bilawal Bhutto's address On Birthday Of Benazir Bhutto

#BenazirBhutto - Legendary Benazir Bhutto's 65th Birthday Being Celebrated Today

Video - “ Happy Birthday Benazir Bhutto ”| June 21

PPP will not accept ‘censored, puppet democracy’, says Bilawal

Pakistan Peoples Party Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that the “Pakistani media is being censored but we will not accept a censored democracy”.
Bilawal’s oblique criticism was directed at the powerful establishment which has been indirectly accused of stifling freedom of expression in the country.
“If pressure is applied on candidates of PPP or other democratic parties to join another party, then we will not accept such a puppet democracy,” said Bilawal while speaking at a ceremony in Larkana celebrating the 65th birth anniversary of his mother Benazir Bhutto. The scion of the Bhutto dynasty also fired a broadside at his key political rivals – PTI Chairman Imran Khan and PML-N founder Nawaz Sharif. “We have defeated them in the past and we will defeat them again in the 2018 elections,” he said.
He said the PPP was facing the remnants of military dictatorship. “The headquarters of one is in Jati Umra, while the other is based in Bani Gala,” he said while referring to Sharif and Imran.
“One has turned politics into a business while the other has turned it into a joke,” Bilawal said. “One [Nawaz] is on the warpath with the state institutions while the other [Imran] is using violence and abusive language as his weapon.”
Speaking of politics in Sindh, Bilawal said that “political mosquitoes” have once again attacked provincial politics. “These mosquitoes can be seen everywhere, but the people of Sindh recognize their true faces,” he added. The PPP chairman went on to claim that his party would teach its rivals a lesson they would not forget for the rest of their lives.
On Benazir’s birth anniversary, Bilawal wrote on Twitter:




My mother Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto would have been 65 today & Pakistan would have been on a different trajectory had she not been taken from us. As her son I remain forever committed to building a peaceful, prosperous, progressive Pakistan no matter the challenges.

Ardern and Benazir: Two leaders, two different pregnancies

Now that New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has hit world headlines by becoming only the second elected head of government to give birth in office, attention has naturally been drawn to the first such leader - Pakistan's late two-time Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
And there are some interesting coincidences here.
Ms Ardern's baby girl was delivered on 21 June - the very day Bhutto was born 65 five years earlier, in 1953.
Also, Ms Ardern is 37, as was Bhutto when she gave birth to her daughter Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari on 25 January 1990.
In a tweet on Thursday, Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari congratulated Ms Ardern.
Bhutto had been in office for just over a year, while Ms Ardern has been in power just under a year.
  • But that's where the similarities end.
Ms Ardern announced her pregnancy a good six months before her expected delivery date. She has also taken six weeks' maternity leave and passed her duties to her deputy.
Bhutto kept her pregnancy secret and returned to work as soon as her doctor would allow.
Not only was the country not told about her pregnancy, even colleagues were kept in the dark.
"None of us in the cabinet virtually knew that this prime minister was about to deliver a baby," Javed Jabbar, a member of her cabinet, later told the BBC.
"And then lo-and-behold suddenly we learn that she has not only gone and delivered democracy, she's also delivered a baby."
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern posted a picture on Instagram of her with her new babyImage copyright@JACINDAARDERN
Image captionNew Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern posted a picture on Instagram of her with her new baby
Bhutto was in stormy political waters at the time.
When Bakhtawar was born, a military-funded right-wing alliance was besieging her government.
She had just survived a no-confidence vote, triggered by some of Pakistan's former ISI intelligence officials. They had tried to buy off Bhutto's supporters in parliament.
And she was struggling to build support to undo the discretionary powers of the president to sack an elected government.
The ISI operation, codenamed Midnight Jackal, was revealed, and the move failed, but Bhutto couldn't undo the presidential powers.
So when she became pregnant she did not go public with the news and did not take maternity leave.
In fact, she had a quick Caesarean section performed by her gynaecologist and returned to work soon afterwards.
"The next day I was back on the job, reading government papers and signing government files," Bhutto later wrote.
"Only later did I learn that I was the only head of government in recorded history actually to give birth while in office.
"It was a defining moment, especially for young women, proving that a woman could work and have a baby in the highest and most challenging leadership positions."

'Motherhood, domesticity and glamour'

The dangers inherent in Pakistani politics, unlike those of New Zealand, can be gauged from the fact that months after Bakhtawar's birth, then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan used his powers to dismiss her government.
And a centrally rigged election paved the way for a rival alliance to come to power later that year.
Opposition leader Syeda Abida Hussain had called Bhutto "greedy" and accused her of wanting to have "motherhood, domesticity and glamour" rather than serving her country.
Bhutto's other two children were born in similar conditions, shrouded in secrecy.
In May 1988, military ruler Gen Zia sacked the government and announced elections for November that year.
Bhutto was then pregnant with her first child, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
It is widely held that Gen Zia announced elections for November because intelligence reports said Bhutto would then be in the last months of her pregnancy and therefore unable to conduct an effective campaign.
But the news of Bilawal's birth hit the headlines in September, sending a wave of excitement on the election scene.
It was said that Bhutto had deliberately spread wrong information about when her delivery was due.

#PPP - Shaheed Benazir; Leader of the masses





By Senator Rehman Malik
I happened to see Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto for the first time when I was posted in Karachi in 1978 post-1977 coup at Karachi airport. I remained posted in Karachi during Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s government where I had ample chances to interact with senior leaders of PPP and close aides of ZAB, which included Hafeez Pirzada, Sattar Gabol, Qasim Patel, Pyar Ali Allana, Jam Sadiq, Hafeez Cheema, Habib Ullah, and Mustafa Jatoi. It was a great experience to work in this tenure of PPP.

Unfortunately, when ZAB became a victim of ‘judicial murder’ in the dictatorial regime of Ziaul Haq, most of the above mentioned close political aides switched their loyalties and left him. None of them was found leading resistance movement against the hanging of ZAB consequent to a controversial hearing of his case. The judicial murder of ZAB caused serious political damaged to his party, which took it decades to recover from the loss. Zia regime terrorised the PPP workers and leaders and hence mid-level leadership went into hiding.
Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto (Pinky as her father would affectionately call her) decided to struggle to save her papa. However, she was locked and her voice was suppressed behind high walls of Sukkur jail. Sometimes authorities would put her under house arrests to not let her carry out the struggle.
She once confided in me during an informal discussion that sometimes the food supply would not be allowed to enter the sub-jail and she had to cook the available piece of fish with lime and salt under sun heat using her bit of knowledge of cooking. Her locking up in jail and continuous persecution caused her loss of hearing of one ear but she was not allowed the treatment in time. Indeed, it was not easy to bear the heat of June and July in the shabby rooms of Pakistani jails. She continued her struggle but could not save her Papa from the powerful jaws of Gen Zia duly backed by a world power, which had claimed to teach a lesson to her Papa who declined to bow before their wish to roll back the nuclear development. The tree of nuclear planted by him not only survived but born fruit in the form of nuclear bomb and Pakistan became the first Islamic nuclear power. ZAB made it possible with sacrificing himself. He would, however, live forever in the minds and hearts of Pakistani nation. Pinky of Papa decided to take the responsibility of carrying the unfinished mission of ZAB. She started her campaign fearlessly and emerged a true leader of the people. She acted very maturely and played her political cards very wisely and free of mistakes. She went in exile as strategy and Zia regime continued chasing her and her brothers abroad. Eventually, Shah Nawaz Bhutto was killed through the influence of a world power. It was fact Gen Zia was too scared of determined Shah Nawaz Bhutto.
I investigated this matter post-murder in Cannes under the instructions of PM Benazir Bhutto. It was a tragic and heart-hitting moment when I briefed both Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and Begum Sahiba in the PM House. I am unable to express the feelings of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto as sister and Begum Sahiba as a mother how they were hurt while listening to the details of the investigation. The murder of her brother was yet another price for preservation and restoration of democracy in the country after hanging of his great father. The enemies of Bhutto made another hit by killing her elder brother, as planned murder and mystery of suicidal of SHO Mr Haq Nawaz Sial were not yet resolved. It is evident that killing of Murtaza Bhutto was part of a larger plan to oust her government. Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto continued to face tragedies all her life including the torture of her mother at Karachi airport by the police, which resulted in the memory loss of her mother. Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto continued to look after her mother under all odd circumstances till her death.
Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto always displayed bravery and did not succumb to the pressure of dictators as she continued to rise and rise and the world witnessed her rise when she landed in Lahore and millions of people received her at Lahore airport.
Like her father, during her second exile period, her 17 MNAs ditched her and sided with the dictator to join his government. One day prior to their change of hearts, all of them had a lunch with her and assured her of their loyalties but on very next day, they decided to leave her and join the establishment. I saw her very gloomy on that day and she used words for them, which I would not like to repeat.
She continued to face the cases where her own party men had become the most powerful ministers in the cabinet of Gen Musharraf.
She was a God fearing person and woman of character and she earned respect internationally. She emerged as a leader of the leaders. I remember when we were in Bangkok upon the invitation of Mr Thaksin Shinawatra, the then PM of Thailand and her speech was on the last day of the conference and many heads of the states had delayed their flights just to listen to her speech and she made a historic speech on democracy. While in exile she was always on the move and always projected Pakistan in a positive light but continued to struggle against the dictator. It was her thought that the mainstream political parties must work together rather against each other to strengthen democracy in the country, which ultimately culminated in the signing of Charter of Democracy (CoD) in 2006 between PPP and PML/N. Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif signed the CoD at my residence in London.
She did manage to oust dictator but in the struggle, she lost her life and on return from exile, Mian Nawaz Sharif forgot all the things he had committed in CoD as he was the first to lead anti- PPP campaign. She was born for Pakistan and democracy and she lost her life for Pakistan and democracy.
I had served with her as head of FIA and then assisted her while in exile and acted as her lead representative in almost all political dialogues with Gen. Pervez Musharraf, MQM and world leaders. It was a great experience to work under her guidance and she used to believe in flawless jobs.
I noticed a great level of creativity in Aseefa Bhutto Zardari and I am quoting an incident hereby:
It was mid-June when Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto had left for her lecture in the USA. All three children Bakhtawar, Bilawal and Aseefa stayed behind in their London flat with maid Sita. It was just before midnight of 20th that I got a call on my mobile by Aseefa saying: “Uncle I want to give birthday surprise to mum when she returns at 6.00 am in the morning and I need to decorate the house with something special to greet her.” I got it arranged pooling my efforts to convert the flat into truly welcoming atmosphere with all kind of fancy decoration. I went to receive Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto from terminal 4 of the airport in the morning and I was supposed to tell her that a birthday surprise was waiting for her at home arranged by Aseefa. The flight landed and I drove her to the flat, which was at the fourth floor. She entered and the greeting chanting of happy birthday to Mama by Aseefa and her bother Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and sister Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari welcomed her, which was very pleasant scene. She had deep love and affection for Aseefa and said that she knew that it would surely be Aseefa’s idea to greet her with warmth. I am witness to the love she had for her children.
The cruel game of politics and anti-Bhutto sentiments have snatched away a loving mother from the kids and her family is paying a heavy price to hold the flag of PPP and the mission of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto high. The family will never able to get the love and care of their mother and nothing can companionate the missing love of their mother. She was a great wife too who always used to pray for Asif Sahib and always used to recite Quranic verses on the telephone and pray for him.
She has gone through long duration of victimization especially when she and Mr Asif Ali Zardari were convicted under the direct instructions of the then PM Nawaz Sharif and Chief Justice of Lahore High Court Rashid Aziz. We received the conversation duly tapped by an official of the IB and entire planning and it was made public under the directions of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. It is now history how we got the shameful judgement overturned from the Supreme Court. But this is a separate story and needs a detailed account. This story has already appeared in Sunday Times, UK, exposing all the characters.
She used to pursue the trial of her cases in the court along with Mr Asif Ali Zardari. The trials further strengthened the bond of love between the couple. The children missed a part of their life without their father while they were growing, as he was put behind the bars. The story of Bhutto family is a tragedy but worth celebrating. The family was victimised because the family rendered unmatched services and a voice to the masses. Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, you must be proud of your children. I wish you could see the young Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, whom we drove once to Oxford, is a grown-up young man and leading the party. I remember you teaching him and I wish to see him the Prime Minister of Pakistan. I have great confidence in Bilawal Bhutto to carry the nation through the numerous challenges with his two sisters to his aide who are equally capable.
I firmly believe that had she been not victimized she would not have left the county and she would have alive today.
Although she has left us forever, however, her memories will always remain in our hearts as well as her political legacy and wisdom which will keep inspiring the masses and especially workers of PPP. She fought against two dictators and she defeated both of them and she continued to advocate for democracy till her last breath.
Let us pray May God bless her soul in peace.

#BenazirBhutto - جمہوریت بہترین انتقام ہے


محمد زابر سعید بدر


جب مادر ملت فاطمہ جناح اپنے مخصوص انداز میں فرما رہی تھیں کہ جمہوریت میں ہی اس ملک و قوم کی بقا ہے تو میں ان کے پر نور چہرے پر موجود ایک آہنی عزم اور بوڑھی آنکھوں میں ایک عجیب چمک دیکھ رہا تھا یہی چمک قائد اعظم محمد علی جناح کے چہرے پر ہمیشہ موجود رہتی تھی اسی لیے تو میاں بشیر احمد نے کہا تھا
لگتا ہے ٹھیک جا کے نشانے پر جس کا تیر۔۔۔۔ایسی کڑی کماں ہے محمد علی جناح
یہ واقعہ میرے والد گرامی محترم سعید بدر نے مجھے سنایا۔جنرل ایوب کے دور آمریت میں مادر ملت نے لاہور کے المنظر سے اپنی انتخابی مہم کا آغاز کیا۔ المنظر میاں بشیر احمد کی رہائش گاہ تھی جہاں 1940 سے 1947 تک قائد اعظم اور محترمہ فاطمہ جناح متعدد بار تشریف لائے۔
جمہوریت بہترین انتقام ہے
والد گرامی نے بتایا کہ جب مادر ملت جمہوریت کے بارے میں ارشاد فرما رہی تھیں تو میاں بشیر احمد بھی پاس موجود تھے۔مادر ملت ان دنوں انہی کے ہاں المنظر میں قیام پذیر تھیں۔اس میں کوئی شک نہیں کہ بہترین آمریت سے بدترین جمہوریت بہتر ہے۔
جمہوریت بہترین انتقام ہے
یہی بات دختر مشرق محترمہ بینظیر بھٹو نے کہی۔آج شہید جمہوریت ذولفقار علی بھٹو کی شہید صاحبزادی محترمہ بے نظیر بھٹو کا 65 واں جنم دن ہے۔جنگ پبلشرز کی شائع کردہ نفیس صدیقی کی کتاب '’بھٹو سے بھٹو تک‘ کا مطالعہ دل اور روح کو اداس کر گیا۔جب اس وقت کے منصف کے سامنے پاکستان کی سب سے بڑی اور طاقتور سیاسی جماعت کا بانی سربراہ، عالم اسلام کو پہلا ایٹم بم دینے والا عظیم لیڈر، اسلامی سربراہی کانفرنس میں مسلم امہ کے اتحاد کا نعرہ لگانے، عالمی اسلامی بینک، عالمی اسلامی میڈیا نیٹ ورک، اسلامی معیشت کی بات کرنے والا رہنما انتہائی دکھ سے کہہ رہا تھا کہ’ اسی عدالت میں مجھے کہا گیا کہ تم تو نام کے مسلمان ہو تو وہ انتہائی دکھ سے خلیفہ ہارون الرشید کے دربار کا ایک واقعہ بیان کرتا ہے، جب وہ کہتا ہے میں تین ماہ سے سو نہیں سکا کیونکہ کوٹ لکھپت جیل میں 50 پاگل میری کوٹھری کے قریب لا کر تین ماہ رکھے گیے جو سارا وقت چیختے چلاتے ہیں۔راولپنڈی میں میری کوٹھری کی چھت سے کنکر پھنکے جاتے ہیں،پچیس دنوں سے مجھے پانی نہیں دیا گیا۔‘
جمہوریت بہترین انتقام ہے
مرنے کے بعد جناب بھٹو کا مختون ہونا چیک کیا گیا کرنل رفیع کی ڈیوٹی جنرل ضیا نے خود لگائی اور انہوں نے چیک کر کے جنرل ضیا کو بتایا۔یہ واقعہ بھی جنگ پبلشرز کی شائع کردہ کتاب، بھٹو کے آخری323 دن میں بیان کیا گیا ہے۔
جمہوریت بہترین انتقام ہے
پاکستان میں جمہوریت نے بڑا جبر سہا ہے، اب بھی وہی ڈرامہ چل رہا ہے۔ پاکستان کی سب سے مقبول جماعت کے سربراہ اور اس کے خاندان کے ساتھ بالکل اسی طرح کے حالات پیش آ رہے ہیں جس طرح چالیس برس پہلے بھٹو خاندان کے ساتھ پیش آئے۔
اقبال اور جناح نے ایسے پاکستان کا ہرگز خواب نہیں دیکھا تھا۔ہمیں اس حقیقت کو تسلیم کرنا پڑے گا کہ پاکستان کی بقا صرف جمہوریت میں ہے یہی جنرل ایوب کا تن تنہا مقابلہ کرنے والی جناح کی عظیم بہن فاطمہ جناح نے کہا اور یہی بات عظیم بھٹو کی عظیم بیٹی بینظیر نے کہی کہ جمہوریت بہترین انتقام ہے۔
جمہوریت بہترین انتقام ہے
کاش تاریخ سے ناواقف آج کے بونے، مسخرے اور بھانڈے اینکرز پاکستان پر تھوڑا رحم کر لیں۔ 1971 میں 56 فیصد آبادی والا مشرقی پاکستان گنوا چکے ہیں خدانخواستہ اب گیا تو کچھ بھی نہ رہے گا۔
تاریخ ہمیں بہت کچھ یاد دلاتی ہے ہم اگر سبق نہ سیکھنا چاہیں تو وہ الگ بات ہے۔ یہ بات یاد رکھنے والی ہے کہ 1492 میں غرناطہ کے سقوط کے بعد مسجد قرطبہ آج بھی اذان کے لیے ترس رہی ہے۔
وہ لوگ ہم نے ایک ہی شوخی میں کھو دئیے۔۔۔ڈھونڈا تھا آسماں نے جنہیں خاک چھان کر
https://jang.com.pk/news/509468#_

#Pakistan - #PPP - Benazir Bhutto: A bright star

Bashir Riaz



The Daughter of Pakistan, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto is the star on the horizon of politics that neither fades away nor breaks down. This tribute was given to Shaheed Benazir Bhutto by a delegate from the Middle East on the occasion of the 50th commemoration of the Socialist International.
The ceremony of the Socialist International took place in Portugal where people from various walks of life participated including politicians, pro-peace activists, writers and thinkers fighting against poverty and struggling for socio-economic justice. On this occasion of the commemoration, the delegation representing Pakistan People’s Party included me, Mian Misbah ur Rahman, Mr Zaka Ashraf, and two ladies.
Among various democracies of the world, BB Shaheed stands out as an unequivocal symbol of democracy. She is the person who spent her life fighting the dictatorship and even gave her life for democracy for the sake of the people of Pakistan. On the international level today, programmes have been introduced in Universities, and various seminars are organised to take advantage of the political wisdom and the legacy of Shaheed BB.
In April 1999, a conference was organised for women by the local mayor. I attended that conference along with Shaheed BB. At that time, Shaheed BB was touring America for lectures and sent me a message that I should reach Portugal and accompany her to the conference. The conference focused on the political and social role of women. Everyone greatly appreciated Shaheed BB’s speech. She answered all the questions in her signature way, and everyone wished to meet her. Therefore, during lunch, she mingled with the participants and discussed with them in a very amicable way. She was jubilant.
Upon our return to London, we saw the news that because of not appearing in the court, Shaheed BB was sentenced to three years in prison. She commented on this sad news by noticing the irony of how people in Europe appreciated her, but her own country continued to oppress her.
Apart from Europe, the Arab World also gave Shaheed BB immense respect, and she was known as the Daughter of Islam. Shaheed BB was a leader who represented a democratic and progressive Pakistan on the international level. She was the first woman Prime Minister of the Muslim World. She fought against the tyrannical rule of dictators who actively tried to oppress her and the workers of Pakistan People’s Party. However, Shaheed BB always stood side-by-side along with her people not only during her life but also in death.
While commenting on the false cases against her, Shaheed BB would say that such tactics can never break her resolve or dampen her spirits. On the contrary, challenges encouraged her to re-double her struggle for democracy with great fortitude. She believed that Allah tests His special and favourite subjects. During exile, Shaheed BB was fighting simultaneously on several fronts. She was a mother as well as a father to her children. She had a sense of loneliness; however, she utilised that time for party work and to keep an eye on the global politics. She used to work on her computer for 5 hours every day, writing articles and publishing her statements on various matters. Due to this reason, between 1999 and 2007, PPP stayed functional and united. A beautiful aspect of Shaheed BB’s personality is that she had a kind heart and cared for the poor. She used to feel the pain of others just like her own and used to consider it her duty to alleviate the suffering of the downtrodden. She worked towards this end when she became the Prime Minister and helped numerous families. She always supported her party workers when in need as well. She had a special fund that she utilised to help people associated with journalism and literature. She gave financial support to renowned journalist Hameed Akhtar, the progressive poet Zaheer Kashmiri, Hafeez Raqib, Asrar Zaidi, actress Sabeeha Khanum etc. Once, she gave a tip of Rs. 100,000 to the caretaker of Pak Tea House, bringing joy to his household. She helped scores of people through me. She gave employment opportunities to several people. A lot of people benefited from her generosity. Even today, the less fortunate ones remember the kindness and big-heartedness of Shaheed BB and keep her in their prayers.
After Shahadat, the entire World recognised BB as a great leader. Just like her parents, Shaheed BB had a lot of charisma. I witnessed all her traits and her personality first hand as I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to accompany her everywhere. For this reason, she referred to me as her shadow. She was very kind to me, and the trust she bestowed upon me is invaluable and an asset for me.
June 21, 2018, marks Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s 65th birthday. In her life, she shone like a bright star in the hearts of the people, and in her death, the glow of the star continues to guide her people in the direction of democracy and peace.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

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#Pakistan: Choking Free Voices – Analysis

By Tushar Ranjan Mohanty
The Media in Pakistan has long faced the brunt of the all-powerful military establishment. Of late, with elections around the corner, there has been an intensification of the crackdown against journalists and news establishments.
On June 6, 2018, The New York Times thus wrote, “Just a month and a half away from national elections, Pakistan’s powerful military establishment has mounted a fearsome campaign against its critics in the news media, on social networks, and in mainstream political movements. It is all adding up: journalists abducted or threatened, major news outlets blocked, sympathetic views toward the civilian governing party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, censored or punished. Interviews with journalists and political analysts in recent days have been dominated by concerns that a military campaign of intimidation and crackdown on dissent is intensifying ahead of the vote – and nearly unanimously, none dared discuss it on the record.”
General Elections are scheduled to be held on July 25, 2018.
A prominent British-Pakistani journalist and activist, Gul Bukhari, known for his criticism of the military establishment, was abducted by ‘unidentified persons’ at around 11 pm [PST] on June 5, 2018, from Sherpao Bridge in the Cantonment area of Lahore, the provincial capital of Punjab. Gul Bukhari was reportedly whisked away by gunmen when she was on her way to the Waqt TV studio for a show.
The driver of the Waqt TV cab told the Police that two persons came out of a vehicle and asked Bukhari to get into their vehicle. “When she refused they bundled her up in the vehicle and sped away,” he said, adding that her abductors did not say anything to him. As the news of Bukhari’s abduction broke out, several people took to the social media blaming the intelligence agencies for her forced disappearance because of her views about the Pakistani military. Some three hours later, Bukhari’s family confirmed that she had returned home. She has refused to talk about her abductors.
Elsewhere in the city, on the same day, senior journalist and television anchor Asad Kharal was reportedly attacked by ‘masked men’ near Allama Iqbal International Airport. Kharal, who was on his way home from the airport when his vehicle was intercepted, was taken out from the car and assaulted.
On May 15, 2018, the Government of Pakistan ‘blocked’ the distribution of Dawn, one of the country’s leading English dailies. A report by Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF) stated that the distribution of Dawn had been blocked in most of Balochistan Province, in many cities in Sindh Province and in all military cantonments. The RSF observed,
The unwarranted blocking of the distribution of one of the main independent newspapers has yet again shown that the military are determined to maintain their grip on access to news and information in Pakistan. It is clear that the military high command does not want to allow a democratic debate in the months preceding a general election. We call on the authorities to stop interfering in the dissemination of independent media and to restore distribution of Dawn throughout Pakistan.
The action followed publication by Dawn of an interview with former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on May 12, 2018. Sharif had acknowledged that the terror attacks launched on Mumbai between November 26 and November 29, 2008, were carried out by Pakistan-born terrorists. According to the RSF report, the ‘blockade’ came into effect as the Pakistani Army brass was reportedly unhappy with the newspaper’s publishing of the interview.
On April 1, 2018, Geo TV, part of Pakistan’s largest commercial media group, Jang, was taken off the air in many parts of the country. The ban only ended a month later after talks between the military and the network’s chiefs, who reportedly pledged to make sure the network’s coverage does not cross the military’s line. Significantly, in April 2014, Geo TV’s most prominent anchor and journalist, Hamid Mir, was shot by ‘unidentified gunmen’. Mir survived his injuries and was on record blaming military intelligence agency Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) for the attack.
On March 1, 2018, Anjum Muneer Raja (40), a sub-editor at Urdu newspaper Qaumi Pukaar, was shot dead in a high-security zone in the Pakistan Army General Headquarters area in Rawalpindi in Punjab. He was on his way home from work when the incident occurred. While speaking to Dawn, Raja’s uncle Tariq Mehmood asserted that his nephew did not have a personal enmity with anyone and expressed shock that Raja was murdered in such a ‘highly secured’ area.
On January 10, 2018, prominent journalist, Taha Siddiqui, who reports for France 24 and is the Pakistan Bureau Chief of the Indian television channel World Is One News (WION), escaped a kidnapping attempt on his way to the airport in Islamabad. “The Army and intelligence agencies were threatening me and I suspect the people who tried to kidnap me were from the Army,” Siddiqui said, speaking to Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) from Paris, where he has relocated, “They do not like investigative reporting that uncovers the wrongdoings of those institutions.”
Press Freedom Barometer 2018 (monitored from May 1, 2017 to April 1, 2018), released by Freedom Network (FN) on May 2, 2018, observed that Islamabad was the most dangerous place to be a journalist in Pakistan, accounting for 35 per cent of the 157 violations recorded by the Report. Other areas found dangerous for journalists were Punjab, the second worst, with 17 per cent of the violations (26 cases); followed closely by Sindh with 16 per cent (25 cases); Balochistan with 14 per cent (22 cases); and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 10 per cent (16 cases). The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) documented the lowest number of overall violations at eight per cent of the total with 13 cases. According to a press release issued by FN, the group has recorded over 157 cases of attacks and violations against media and its practitioners, including journalists, in Pakistan in the preceding year, “signifying a worryingly escalating climate of intimidation and harassment that is adversely affecting the freedom of expression and access to information environment”. The report points to the state and its agencies and functionaries, as the most serious ‘threat actors’ targeting media in 39 per cent of the incidents, as compared to other actors, such as militant groups, political parties, religious groups and criminals.
An April 25, 2018 report by RSF revealed that Pakistani journalists were increasingly resorting to self-censorship due to pressures from intelligence agencies and extremist groups. RSF placed Pakistan at the 139th position out of 180 countries that restrained press freedom.
Pakistan’s media community is effectively under siege. The Gul Bukhari abduction came only hours after the military warned that it was monitoring those criticising Pakistan. At a press conference on June 4, 2018, Director General (DG) of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor derided the rise of social media troll accounts which, he said, spread propaganda against the Army and State, and warned that ISI was monitoring such accounts and those that engage with them, including journalists. During his presentation, Major General Ghafoor showed a graphic featuring an alleged troll account’s Twitter activity and the journalists and other individuals allegedly connected to the account. Ghafoor claimed that these journalists redistributed anti-state and anti-Army propaganda from the troll’s account.
Reacting to Ghafoor’s warning, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)’s Asia Program coordinator in Washington, D.C., Steven Butler stated,
Displaying photos of journalists alleged to help push anti-state propaganda in Pakistan is tantamount to putting a giant target on their backs. General Ghafoor should apologize for his comments and explain how security forces might help promote journalist safety in Pakistan, where reporters and editors are routinely threatened, attacked, and killed for their work.
The practice of bulldozing media, however, is an old phenomenon. As noted, top Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir was seriously wounded in a targeted shooting in Karachi, the provincial capital of Sindh, on April 19, 2014. Mir’s car was ambushed as soon as it left Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport and was on the way to his Jang group-owned Geo TV’s office. Mir had earlier told his family, friends, colleagues, Army and Government officials in writing that he would hold ISI chief Lt. General Zaheerul Islam responsible if he was attacked. Hamid Mir had been relentlessly highlighting the issue of missing persons in Balochistan. The incident also demonstrated the ruthless attempts by the military establishment to silence an increasingly critical media, with the civilian Government expectedly toeing the Army’s line.
In 2011, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was accused of abducting, torturing and killing Saleem Shahzad, a journalist working as the Pakistan Bureau Chief of Asia Times Online (Hong Kong) and Italian news agency Adnkronos (AKI). Shahzad disappeared in the evening of May 29, 2011, from Islamabad and his mutilated body was recovered from a canal in Mandi Bahauddin District of Punjab on May 31. His body bore marks of severe torture. Human Rights Watch researcher, Ali Dayan Hasan, claimed he had “credible information” that Shahzad was in the custody of ISI. Indeed, Shahzad’s friends and colleagues revealed that the ISI had warned Shahzad at least three times prior to his death. In October 2010, Shahzad was summoned to ISI headquarters the day after publishing a sensitive article on Afghan Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar’s capture.
Attack on Media: 2000-2018
Years
Killed
Assault/ Injured
Arrested/ abducted
Intimidated
Banned/ Barred / Censored
Damage to Property
2000
5
14
10
24
6
6
2001
2
2
5
3
4
2
2002
1
37
10
13
8
2
2003
2
7
4
17
2
1
2004
2
2
8
17
3
2
2005
3
7
13
18
28
3
2006
5
31
12
22
15
9
2007
11
215
325
79
43
16
2008
13
74
40
118
20
4
2009
10
70
10
28
35
10
2010
9
19
1
1
0
4
2011
8
10
1
3
0
0
2012
9
4
0
1
0
0
2013
8
8
1
2
1
2
2014
3
4
0
1
2
2
2015
6
7
1
0
1
1
2016
4
2
1
0
2
1
2017
3
3
6
2
0
2
2018
1
2
2
1
3
0
Total*
105
518
450
350
173
67
Source: 2000-2009: Intermedia; 2010-2018: South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) *Data till June 10, 2018
At least 105 media personnel have been killed in Pakistan since 2000. Another 518 have either faced assault or have been injured in attacks. At least 450 media persons have been abducted/ arrested, while another 350 have faced direct intimidation. According to the partial data compiled by SATP, 2018 has already recorded the killing of one journalist, thus far.
The punishing pressure now being applied to Dawn and other news outlets is more insidious than the outright censorship of times past, Dawn’s editor Zaffar Abbas noted. “They want to control the narrative,” Abbas claimed, without elaborating who “they” were, “And to a large extent, they are succeeding.”