Friday, July 6, 2012

US drone kills nine militants in Pakistan

A US drone attack
on a militant compound in Pakistan's northwestern tribal area killed nine insurgents and injured three late Friday, security officials said. The unmanned aircraft fired two missiles on the compound in Datta Khel village, some 35 kilometres (22 miles) east of Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan tribal district, near the Afghan border, they said. "The US drone fired two missiles. At least nine militants have been killed and three injured," a senior security official based in Peshawar told AFP. Two security officials in Miranshah confirmed the strike. Datta Khel is considered a stronghold of Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a Taliban commander who is accused of sending fighters across the border to fight NATO troops in Afghanistan. A similar attack in the region on Sunday killed six militants.

Pakistan: Shia pilgrims killed on way to Iran

About 18 people were gunned down by miscreants in Quetta on Friday night. According to Dunya News, the tragic mishap occurred when two unitentified armed motorcyclists started indiscriminate firing on the bus carrying pilgrims from Karachi to Iran near Turbat. As a result, 18 people died on the spot while many were injured who were shifted to hospital for treatment. According to sources, the victims mostly belong to Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. This is second shameful incident occurred in current month.

Veena Malik stops traffic
Traffic came to a standstill in Bangalore yesterday not due to any accidents or demonstrations, but due to the presence of our very own Veena Malik. Bollywood’s golden girl was shooting at a bus station for her first Kannada film ‘Dirty Picture: Silk Sakkath Maga.’ Production on the film commenced last week and it was the first time outdoor scenes were being shot. The filmmakers had informed local police, and employed security personnel to shoot the scene but still the crowd managed to get out of control. Malik’s presence was kept under wraps but remained no more a secret when the masses caught a glimpse of the star and recognized her immediately. People started congregating on the spot, for a chance at the mere sighting of the Pakistani star, making it impossible for security personnel to manage the crowd. Several fans even broke down barriers just to talk to her. But Malik didn’t let that dampen her spirits and seemed to enjoy the attention. She later remarked “this response is unbelievable,” flashing a smile and signing autographs as she made her way around. This is the second time the controversial superstar has been mobbed by crazed fans. The first time was at a beach in Fiji.

1977 military coup: Zia’s coup observed as black day across country

The Express Tribune
The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) observed a black day on Thursday with its leadership issuing statements of condemnation and its workers holding public gatherings across the country to mark the undemocratic dismissal of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s government by General Ziaul Haq. Terming July 5 1977 as the “darkest day” in Pakistan’s history, PPP co-chairman President Asif Ali Zardari said in a statement that “on this day a dictator driven by his self-serving motives” attempted to seal the fate of a progressive society by deposing a constitutionally elected prime minister and systematically dismantling the constitutional edifice of the country. Echoing the president’s remarks, Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said the country was plunged into an “era of darkness” when Ziaul Haq’s vendetta emerged and he hanged Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He said the people would never forget the inhuman victimisation, blatant flogging and unjust hangings perpetuated by the dictator during his 11-year rule when PPP workers were thrown into jails for demanding their democratic rights. Party workers in Punjab organised district level protests while a procession was held in the provincial capital at Aiwan-e-Iqbal where PPP Lahore president Samina Khalid Ghurki and PPP Punjab president Imtiaz Safdar Warraich addressed the gathering. Similar to other parts of the country rallies and processions were held in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) to observe black day. In Mirpur PPP AJK President Ghulam Rasool Awami attended a ceremony where speakers recounted the undemocratic actions of Ziaul Haq and called for democracy to be strengthened in the country. In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), the Peoples Doctors Forum organized a ceremony in Peshawar where party stalwart remembered the sacrifices of PPP workers and PPP provincial information secretary Syed Ayub Shah called for a jihad in party ranks to restore Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s vision of working for farmers, laborers and the poor. Party workers took the opportunity to criticise the prime minister’s recent visit to the city where he did not meet party workers. Meanwhile, the dissident PPP couple Naheed Khan and Safdar Abbasi, who have been ostracised from party circles, held a press conference to mark the black day. The couple said party policies had widened the gulf between the people and party leadership which could only be resolved with a return to the ideological roots of the party Zulfikar Ali Bhutto established. They added that fresh elections under a unanimous caretaker government were the only solution to the current crisis.

PAKISTAN:Floods damaged 10,407 educational institutes

The unprecedented floods in last two years has damaged a total of 10,407 educational institutions in around 90 affected districts of the country. Of the total damaged schools, 3741 are fully destroyed and 6,666 are partially damaged. Moreover, around 32,000 teachers and 1.04 million students have been affected by the floods. According to report of Society for the Rights of the Child(SPARC), Sindh faced the largest destruction as a total number of 5,655 educational institutions are affected. While in Punjab, 2,817 schools were destroyed, followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Balochistan, FATA, AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) with 915, 557, 176, 194 and 81 number of schools being affected respectively. The report manifests that the two worst affected provinces in terms of numbers of schools destroyed are Sindh and Punjab,whereas 18.5 % and 8.8% of the pre flood educational facilities have been damaged or destroyed. This is followed by 12.9% and 5.6% of pre-flood facilities damaged in Balochistan and KP. Talking to APP, Child Coordinator SPARC, Shaista Kiran said the total damage and loss for Pakistan's educational institutions has been estimated at Rs26,464.3 million. She said Sindh is considered as being the most affected with figures amounting to Rs13,354.9 million followed by Punjab with Rs7,881.3 million and KP with Rs2,859.5. Damage and loss in Balochistan is Rs775.5 million, and for AJK, FATA and GB, it is Rs842.3 million, Rs414.8 million and Rs336.2 million respectively

Karachi lawlessness: 1257 killed in just 6 months: HRCP
Despite the tall claims of government and police there is no respite in the targeted killings of Karachi, as according to the data of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) targeted killings and other crimes claimed at least 1257 lives in Karachi during last six months from January to June, 2012. According to statistics compiled by HRCP Karachi chapter, a total of 1257 are killed in the city during first six months of 2012, with 972 fall prey to targeted killings, which is 77% of the total killings, on different grounds including sectarian, personal enmities, bomb blasts, Lyari Gang War and abduction. While during first six months of 2011, the figure was 1138. According to HRCP report, a total 972 people were targeted killed, of them 135 gunned down were political activists, 27 shot dead in sectarian killings, 84 in Lyari gang war, 160 abducted and killed, two burnt to death, 42 killed by robbers, 87 killed due to enmity, 39 dead bodies found, seven security guards, four died in prison, eight in bomb blasts and 11 in Karo Karo (honour killing). Of total 972 targeted killings, the HRCP figure shows that 366 people with no political affiliation are killed this year in first six months while 250 killings were reported during the corresponding period of last year. According to the statistics, women killed during the same period include – 24 by relatives, 12 by unidentified culprits, 13 targeted killed, four were set on fire, four each killed by robbers, burnt to death and Lyari gang war, 12 on pretext of Karo-Kari and one each killed by stray bullets, drug addiction and in bomb blasts. Of the total 99 killings related to law enforcement agencies, 48 killed in police encounters, 44 policemen were gunned down in different incidents, three killed in police custody, three soldier/paramilitary and one person killed by soldier/paramilitary. Of the 64 children killed in different incidents, 11 killed by stray bullets, seven targeted killings, seven falling into canal/drains, five abducted and killed, six abducted, raped and killed, four Lyari gang war, five by robbers, five on grounds of personal enmity, seven newborn dumped, two killed after ransom payment, two on railway track while one by soldier/paramilitary.

Pakistan: 50pc state-run schools lack basic facilities, 400 non-functional
Around 50% of state-run primary schools are deprived of basic facilities of education, while still over 400 schools are non-functional due to various reasons in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. This was said by Sameena Imtiaz, executive director PEAD foundation here on Tuesday while addressing a seminar on "Education Policy", organized by Peace Education and Development (PEAD) foundation in collaboration with Action Aid. She said according to annual report 2011-12 of Education Management Information System as many as 45% male and female primary schools do lack electricity, bathrooms, boundary walls and availability of clean drinking water for students. Besides others, the seminar was attended by Hamid Naveed, DG director coordination Education Sector Reforms Unit KP, Shagufta Gul, principal of a private school, Tariq Hayat, programme manager PEAD, representatives of civil society and relevant stakeholders. Sameena Imtiaz further added out of over 27 thousand schools, about 400 educational institutions are not operational while according to Labor Force Survey 2009-10 literacy rate in the province is about 50% including 70% male and 32 female literacy rate. She stated drop out rate from nursery to class 5th is around 45% in the province. Hamid Naveed remarked Teacher Training Information Management System (TTIMS) and Parents Teacher Council networking system is being introduced to enhance the teacher's skills and performance and to make ensure the community participation particularly parents in growth and improvement of education system. He said ESRU has enhanced the administrative and financial role of PTC in the school management system, adding we are working on reviving and developing education sector plan and developing lesson plan according to 2006 drafted curriculum. Hamid Naveed further stated that government was focusing to increase female literacy rate and intend to spend more than 70% resources of annual development program 2012. Under the "Stury Da Khyber Pakhtunkhwa" scheme 63% packages are offered to girls while Rokhana Kur Education Program over age persons would be enrolled in schools. For establishment of probable 500 schools, one billion rupees are allocated for next fiscal year. He stressed on the need of role of civil society particularly parents for improvement of educational system. Other speakers said after 18th amendment people should get its benefits and government should make ensure adhering policies pertaining to education.

Zardari shocked over burning of blasphemy accused

Dunya News
President has expressed profound grief over the incident of burning of a man alive in Bahawalpur. President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday expressed profound grief and shock over the harrowing incident of burning of a man alive in Bahawalpur district after pulling him out of a police station. Expressing shock, the President directed the Advisor to the Prime Minister on Interior to conduct an inquiry into this unfortunate incident and submit the report to the Presidency immediately. The President said that no one should be allowed to take law into in his own hands no matter what the crime is. The President also directed the concerned to dispense justice according to the law in this case. The man, who was burnt alive, was reported to be mentally unstable and was accused of blasphemy.

Long road ahead in US-Pakistan ties after NATO deal
Pakistan and the United States are set to resume broader talks on security cooperation, militant threats, aid and other issues in the wake of an agreement to reopen supply routes into Afghanistan, Pakistan's envoy to Washington said on Thursday.But bridging underlying differences that strained U.S.-Pakistani ties close to the breaking point will be daunting as the allies remain at odds over how to handle the twin threats of the Taliban in Afghanistan and militants in Pakistani tribal areas. The agreement reached this week prompting Pakistan to reopen NATO supply routes into Afghanistan, clinched when U.S. President Barack Obama's administration ceded to months of Pakistani demands to apologize for the U.S. air attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last November, was a relief for both countries. "I certainly think it opened the door to many other issues," Ambassador Sherry Rehman told Reuters in an interview. "There's a long road ahead, but both sides can use this opportunity to build a path to durable ties," she added. After U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton apologized in a phone call to Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Pakistan permitted trucks carrying NATO supplies to cross into Afghanistan for the first time in more than seven months. This was a boon for NATO nations that had been paying 2-1/2 times as much to bring supplies in through an alternate route. While NATO will not pay any new fees for shipping supplies into Afghanistan, Washington will give Pakistan at least $1.2 billion owed it for costs incurred while fighting militants. A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said no specific commitments were made to increase military or counter-terrorism activities for Pakistan, but there was a 'good faith agreement' to continue talks on those issues. ALL ABOUT THE APOLOGY "A number of other things became stuck with all this," the official said. "It was never a money haggle or a transactional deal," Rehman said, speaking during a visit to Islamabad where she helped usher in the arrangement ending the months-long deadlock. The death of the 24 soldiers inflamed public opinion among Pakistanis already angered by U.S. drone strikes, the presence of CIA personnel in Pakistan and other issues. "We're a very hospitable people but we don't like being taken for granted - that was the public sentiment," she said, stressing why the apology was so vital. "You had 24 boys draped in flags ... that's not something that was going away from the public domain. At every level this percolated up and down" Pakistani society. While the breakthrough is welcome news for both sides, a harmonious road ahead is unlikely. Issues that have inflamed bilateral ties persist, including U.S. accusations that Pakistan harbors militants and meddles in Afghanistan, Pakistani chafing at U.S. drone strikes and fears on both sides that Pakistan's western neighbor will revert to chaos after most NATO troops leave by the end of 2014. Pakistan has long complained that the United States has overlooked its contribution to the fight against militants - scores of al Qaeda fighters were apprehended in Pakistan with American help - and the threat Pakistanis themselves face. Late last month, more than 100 fighters loyal to Pakistani Taliban leader Fazlullah snuck across the Afghan border and staged an ambush inside Pakistan. Several days later, the fighters released a video of what they said were the heads of 17 ambushed soldiers, along with their identification cards. It was a chilling reminder of the threat militants based in Afghanistan pose to Pakistan - the mirror image of the situation that fuels U.S. complaints about Pakistan, and a threat that would be sure to become more serious if Afghanistan were to slip back into civil war. The United States repeatedly has pressed Pakistan to pursue the Taliban and its allies, especially the Haqqani network, which it blames for a series of high-profile attacks in Afghanistan. Last month, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the United States was reaching the limits of its patience with Pakistan over what it deems as foot-dragging on militants. Rehman said that most of al Qaeda has been decimated with Pakistani cooperation, and that Islamabad would go after foreign fighters linked to other militants according to "Pakistan's priorities" and time frame. The immediate military priority was combating insurgents who target Pakistani security forces and civilians, she said. "We are going after our own right now - foreign fighters and militants who are on our soil, who are attacking us. If there is someone beheading me I am going to go after him first." Rehman said Pakistan stood to pay a high price if the NATO project in Afghanistan does not produce a stable country, in part because instability is likely to spill over the two countries' porous border. "For Pakistan, the stakes in Afghan stability are very high," Rehman said.

PPP in the line of fire

Riaz Ali Toori
It is wrong to say that PM Gilani declined to write this letter. In fact, he turned down this order against the president of Pakistan who is the Supreme Commander of Pakistan’s armed forces Z A Bhutto introduced democracy in Pakistan, empowered the poor and oppressed sections of our society, gave women their due rights and made Pakistan the first Islamic atomic power in the world, but was mercilessly put to death by a dictator through a judicially orchestrated murder. Benazir Bhutto knocked at the door of every court from Karachi to Peshawar, but did not get any justice. She remained a victim of dictatorship and the apathy of the Pakistani courts from the lowest tier to the apex level. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), its leadership and its workers have been the worst victims of both dictatorship and the prejudice of the courts. The democratically elected prime minister (PM) of Pakistan, Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani was thrown out of office. Democracy suffered dishonour and the sentiments of those who had voted for the PPP were badly hurt. In the history of Pakistan, once again an attempt was made to destabilise the PPP. Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani’s only crime was that he resisted the court’s order of writing a letter to the Swiss courts regarding the president of Pakistan. It is wrong to say that PM Gilani declined to write this letter. In fact, he turned down this order against the president of Pakistan who is the Supreme Commander of Pakistan’s armed forces. Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, as a democratic prime minister of Pakistan, had well realised that it was not only against the national and international laws as well as against the prestige of Pakistan to write to a mere magistrate of another country to open cases against its president. Thus following his charismatic predecessors, Z A Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto, Mr Gilani preferred to be sacrificed rather than to ruin and wound the constitution and be known as its destroyer. Today, Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani is a champion in the court of the public even if he was overpowered by the judiciary. World history is rich with such examples, but history remembers them as victorious. Not only this, while two legislators of the PPP, Ms Farahnaz Ispahani and Abdul Rehman Malik were disqualified by the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan in the dual nationality case. Ms Farahnaz Ispahani was the first parliamentarian whose membership of the National Assembly was suspended. Here, the SC of Pakistan needed neither a commission nor time to study the case and did not need to consult parliament. Instead, the SC proceeded to order the collection of data of all parliamentarians and if anyone belonging to parties other than the PPP has dual nationality, would justice be delivered in the same manner? Ms Ispahani has a historical family background, whose grandfather Abol Hassan Ispahani was not only among the creators of Pakistan but had also supported the Pakistan movement, and later contributed in strengthening a nascent Pakistan financially. Whenever, for the movement for Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam M A Jinnah needed financial support, the first name on his lips was that of Abol Hassan Ispahani. A nation who maltreats its great founders and benefactors seldom touches the peak of success. Rehman Malik, who was born in Pakistan, has served the country on very esteemed posts and has bravely fought terrorists. For his relentless services for the well-being of Pakistan and his fight against terrorism, the government awarded him with the highest civil awards of Sitara-e-Shujaat (gallantry) and Nishan-e-Imtiaz. His disqualification is like refusing to recognise his services even though he put his life in danger for making Pakistan a peaceful country. None can challenge both leaders’ honesty, love and loyalty for Pakistan and their services, but they are disqualified only because they belong to the PPP? Nowhere in the constitution is it written that the SC can disqualify members of parliament, because it is the duty of parliament, executive and the election commission to look into the qualification of a member. One by one, if every leader and worker of the PPP is victimised in such a way, it will definitely create a rift between the institutions. We applaud the leader of the PPP, President Asif Ali Zardari, for restraining his party’s workers from any kind of agitation against the courts after the judgment in the PM’s contempt case. Recent history is witness to the event when the workers and leadership of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, led by Nawaz Sharif as prime minister, not only battered the judges but physically attacked the building of the SC, just because he was called to appear before the SC. None of the PPP’s leaders hitherto has ever received justice from the Pakistani courts — from the hanging of its founder, Z A Bhutto, to the overthrow of Mr Gilani. The present leader and co-chairperson of the PPP remained in jail for more than a decade, but the Pakistani judiciary did not give him due justice. Today, when he is the constitutional democratic president of Pakistan, why is the SC so keen to make him answerable in the court of a magistrate of another country? Why in our malice for Mr Zardari and the PPP, do we become so biased and intolerant that we are willing to even violate Article 248 of the constitution and mortify our country and nation before the world? Why could not this judiciary finish these cases in 10 years when Mr Zardari was in jail, when we were being ruled by a dictator and the former was not the president of Pakistan? Why today can the judiciary not wait to open the cases after Mr Zardari is no more the president? Defeated in the judicial courts, the leadership of the PPP always wins in the court of the people. Today, from Parachinar to Karachi and from Gilgit-Baltistan to Balochistan, millions of hearts beat for the PPP and its leadership. Dictators like Ziaul Haq and Musharraf and their establishment, fully supported by the judiciary, could not uproot the PPP from the hearts of the poor oppressed people of Pakistan. The more it is victimised, the more it is loved. Let us all together strengthen democracy and work within the parameters laid down by the constitution. The writer is a political analyst and expert on FATA affairs.


It is the sole responsibility of the State to protect the NATO supplies to Afghanistan once the Government, at the highest level, had permitted to allow the cargo from Karachi Port to Afghanistan or for safe return from Afghanistan back to USA through Karachi Port. Prestige of the Pakistani state is involved in protecting the NATO supplies from all sorts of people, terrorists, saboteurs or the ‘Ghariat Brigade’ earlier launched deadly and dreadful attacks in order to disapprove the supplies to ISAF despite a Government commitment to the world community. Adviser to the Prime Minister on Internal Security had already briefed the Prime Minister about the measures to protect the NATO supplies from mischief mongers or those who opposed to the resumption of supplies to the ISAF for an early and orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan. In the past, Pakistani citizens operating the oil tankers and trucks carrying cargo from Karachi Port to Afghanistan came under attack in KPK and Balochistan and not in Sindh and Balochistan giving an impression that hostile elements to the US and policies were involved in those attacks. The Pakistanis suffered a lot, many lost their lives in deadly and indiscriminate attack without considering that the drivers and cleaners are Pakistan. They destroyed the whole caravan along with the Pakistani drivers and cleaners or helpers killing score of people. All those people lost their property in shape of trucks and oil tankers and also their lives should be compensated by the Pakistani State so that the State should realize its responsibility to protect all sort of transit goods permitted under the law by the Government. Hopefully, the rulers will not permit the ‘Ghariat Brigade’ to resume the deadly attack on one pretext or the other once the State had permitted the transit of goods, mainly fuel and essential commodities of daily use for the ISAF troops. Let us honour our commitment to the international community and protect the transit trade with full force and authority with a clear signal to lawless people that they will be punished under the law if they carried out attacks or endangered lives of the Pakistani truck and tanker operations.

Pakistan: Duel nationality blues

EDITORIAL:Frontier Post
What else could be the intent of tinkering with the double nationality law if not to enable a select clutch of beneficiaries to keep holding on to their parliamentary memberships and ministerial jobs? The very contention of the law minister that the amended dual nationality law will be applicable to 16 countries alone indeed says it all. This, the knowledgeable people insist, would cover all those parliamentarians and ministers who the government wants to protect from being disqualified under the double nationality law as it exists now. They are even naming names of the potential beneficiaries. Indeed, the excuse the official hierarchs are trotting out for this legislative ambush is all obscene. Pakistan may be having double citizenship agreements with those 16 countries. But those deals provide only that their citizens and the Pakistani nationals could have two citizenships simultaneously. But that doesn't postulate that they would also be entitled to the parliamentary memberships and public offices. In fact, these positions are open only to the citizens holding the citizenship of only their own country, not to those in possession of double nationality. The reason is simple. In the case of double nationality, the element of conflict of interest creeps in inevitably, influencing its holder's acts in the public sphere. Not only on issues of foreign policy but even in internal matters, including economic affairs and business and trade. This could be visualised from the anecdote of a minister's reaction to the Kerry-Lugar law enacted by the US Congress for aid to Pakistan. The enactment was hinged on a set of disgraceful conditionalities that almost gave an incisive role to the US administration in our internal defence and security matters and reduced this country virtually into the status of colony of the United States. It stirred widespread anger across the cross-section of our polity. Yet the minister statedly penned down a laudatory resolution thanking the American administration and congress for this enactment profusely and brought it to the cabinet for adoption. But since the public backlash was too severe to the enactment to adopt the resolution, the minister had to be ticked off by the prime minister and he dropped it grudgingly. Indeed, the double nationality could only be anathema to the acute sensitivity of defence and security spheres. Even as one doesn't doubt the patriotism of a double citizenship holder, one cannot take chances in these spheres, so vital are these to the nation's security and stability. While the cabinet routinely is taken into confidence on highly sensitive security affairs and secrets of top confidentiality are made known to it, even the parliament's members at times are made privy to them. One may be hard put to recall how many times over these past four years or so have the parliamentarians been given in-camera security briefings, apart from the select parliamentary committees, in full house of the two chambers separately as well as collectively by the top military leadership and intelligence top echelons. With members of double nationality sitting both in the parliament and in the ministerial cabinets, one can never be sure of the confidentiality of information of highly-sensitive secrets divulged in those briefings not being breached and leaked to alien powers. Indeed, foreign powers and intelligence agencies are not unknown for planting their moles in other countries in ministerial cabinets as well as in other segments of polity, including legislatures. This is quite a known fact; and not infrequently respectable-looking figures the world over have been discovered to be the moles of foreign powers. In our case, a highly-regarded finance minister of late Ayub Khan's cabinet was latterly found to be on the US payrolls. He would often pass on the sensitive information divulged in the cabinet meetings to his contacts in the US embassy here. So, one has to be very wary of this double nationality. Voting right to the holders of double citizenship is all right. In our case, this is all the more imperative, when our overseas citizens have traditionally been a big contributor of foreign exchange to our cash-strapped exchequer. But one cannot take any risk at all with our national security. The doors of our parliamentary membership and ministerial slots certainly cannot be opened up to the double nationality holders. If they want to be in those places, they must renounce their foreign nationality. That is a must. And the government is well advised to review its act and withdraw the bill to amend the double nationality law.

Militancy: A progressive voice for tribal women silenced in targeted attack

The Express Tribune
This file photo shows Farida Afridi working in her office. PHOTO: FILE
In Farida Afridi’s death, women from the tribal belt have lost a fierce fighter. Farida, belonging to the Afridi subtribe Kokikhel, was targeted on Wednesday morning at 6.30am when she left her house in Tehsil Jamrud Ghundi Kali for her office in Hayatabad. “She was cornered by motorcyclists who shot her and she died on the way to Jamrud hospital,” said witness Abid Ali. Farida was 25. Along with her sister Noor Zia, Farida was committed to social change and economic emancipation for women from the platform of a welfare organisation called the Society for Appraisal and Women Empowerment in Rural Areas (SAWERA). Both women were among the founding members of the NGO and had a Masters degree in Gender Studies. Due to tribal customs and traditions, women in the area remain mostly restricted and unable to achieve their true potential, but Farida broke all barriers and relentlessly worked for women’s development. “We have lost a great member of our team,” said Lal Jan, the technical advisor of the organisation. To increase women’s involvement in the social and economic sphere, a few educated and aspiring women, including Farida who was still in school at that time, established SAWERA in 2004. The NGO works for the rights of women and children’s rights in the tribal belt. Farida had three sisters and four brothers and she was the second eldest. She belonged to a poor family that had no personal enmity, Lal Jan said. In an interview for The Express Tribune published in September 2011, Farida had said: “The government is oblivious to the general attitude of tribesmen towards women and the extent of inequality in our patriarchal society. This pushed us to start a struggle for their empowerment.” The sisters faced tough resistance when they told their family about the path they had chosen for themselves. “We told our parents that we would work in accordance with our religious and cultural traditions, assuring them that we would never let the family honour suffer because of our line of work. Finally, they agreed,” Noor had said. Syed Afzal Shinwari, project coordinator in Community Appraisal and Motivation Program (CAMP), said that SAWERA started small but is now an influential organisation. “Because of this brutal act, women in Fata will be discouraged to work and development will come to a halt,” he said. Condemnation “Both government and security agencies will be sleeping and people like Farida, Zartif Khan, Khan Habib Afridi and Mukarram Khan Atif will be mercilessly killed. We, the participants of civil society organisations in Peshawar, strongly condemn this tragic death and vow to raise our voice against this tyranny and brutality at the hands of anti-state elements who have been given a free hand to kill people from the civil society,” civil society group Strengthening Participatory Organisaion said in a statement. The End Violence Against Women/Girl alliance in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Fata also condemned the murder. Farida’s struggle and efforts towards the empowerment of tribal women will never be forgotten.