Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Pakistani Minorities Need To Be Advocated Too – Hamza Ali Abassi Has A Different View

Persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan is an issue that needs to be addressed. Christians, Shias, Hindus and many other small religious minorities face exceeding marginalization.
Although there are many platforms that represent minorities at different levels, many social activists have different stances. If the Rohingya Muslims of Burma are represented at one level hypocrisy and double standards continue to be prominent at others.
In recent media stances given by prominent celebrities like Hamza Ali Abbasi the double standards are visibly prominent. He recently praised the government for its efforts for the Rohingyas of Burma. After showing his respect he went to pass a statement about how there are repeated “rants” about the persecution of minorities within Pakistan such as Hazzaras, Ahmedi, Shia etc.
He went on to down grade those who voice their stances on the persecution of minoritetes within Pakistan. No body denies that the Rohingya of Burma are being persecuted beyond imagination and are even denied basic rights of citizenship in their own country. It seems that Mr. Abbasi has forgotten the fact that ‘charity begins at home’.
Its not that he is showing hatred towards any community but the question that arises is that why it is shameful to voice ones opinion about persecution of a minority a person belongs to? How is it wrong to advocate the basic rights of belonging to a recognized minority within Pakistan?
The case of Rohingya needs to be recognized at a global platform. There is no doubt that their plight is real and deserving of our voice, and to not lend our voice to them is criminal. However, we can never forget the plight our Pakistani religious minorities face. Bomb blasts, suicide attacks, target killing and to top it all the blasphemy law. All these matters rightfully deserve our attention and there is no harm in standing up for basic human rights even in Pakistan.
Turning a blind eye to our own problems will never paint a rosy picture of Pakistan.
- See more at:

Pakistan: Christian woman on death row Asia Bibi 'so weak she can hardly walk' says family

A 50-year old Christian woman on death row in Pakistan for alleged blasphemy is in urgent need of medical treatment, her family say.
Asia Bibi is suffering from intestinal bleeding, The Global Dispatch reports. Relatives visited her for the first time in a month at the end of May and found that she was "so weak she can hardly walk".
"When vomiting there is also shown traces of blood, Asia has difficulty feeding properly, while constant pain in the chest. Therefore, it is necessary that Asia Bibi be submitted as soon as possible a full medical check-up, including blood work," a source told the website.
Bibi's lawyers are said to be working to get her the treatment she needs.
Found guilty of blasphemy in November 2010, Bibi has been imprisoned for five years and is currently on death row. She continues to deny accusations that she insulted the Prophet Muhammad – charges levelled at her by former colleagues.
Human rights groups say that Pakistan's strict blasphemy laws are frequently misused by extremists, and false charges brought against Christians in order to settle personal scores or to seize property or businesses. Bibi's case made global headlines when two prominent politicians were assassinated after trying to help her.
Speaking to the BBC earlier this year, her husband, Ashiq Massih, said that he and the couple's five children have been in hiding ever since Bibi was first arrested. "We get death threats. We can't stay in one place very long," he said.
"We live in hiding. It's very hard especially for the children. They can't settle down or study. It's not a normal life to be constantly living in fear."
More recently, anti-Christian violence erupted in a suburb of Lahore after a mentally ill man was accused of burning pages from the Quran. Last year, a Christian couple were beaten and burned to death in a brick kiln following rumours that they had also burned pages from the Quran. They were later proved innocent, and Pakistan has now charged 106 people with their murder.
However, news recently broke that the laws could soon be modified to combat increasing misuse. A draft bill introducing severe penalties against those who make false allegations of blasphemy has been finalised by the interior ministry, and will now be put before the Pakistani government. The new legislation aims to ensure that people do not take the law into their own hands, and will require proof that an individual intended to commit blasphemy before they can be charged.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) last month urged the Obama Administration to designate Pakistan a "country of particular concern".
"The government failed to protect citizens, minority and majority alike, from sectarian and religiously-motivated violence, and Pakistani authorities have not consistently brought perpetrators to justice or taken action against societal actors who incite violence," its annual report said.

Pakistan - Murder and mayhem in Balochistan

One does not wish for yet another youth to be added to the thousands of Balochistan's missing persons. Hopefully, Tahir Hazara's son will return home safe and soon
There simply is no reprieve for the
star-crossed people of Balochistan. After the carnage in Mastung just over a week ago, this past weekend saw the usual suspects shooting and killing the usual victims — the Hazara Shias of Quetta — at one of the busiest intersections of the city, within an earshot of the law enforcement agencies’ pickets. The security agencies did not lift even a finger and the jihadist terrorists fled comfortably. Usual condemnations poured in and then Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif “took notice of yet another incident of targeted killing against the Hazara community and ordered the swift arrest of the culprits behind the incident”. Really, Mian sahib? Were you just not in Quetta taking similar notice of the Mastung massacre of Pashtuns? What became of that, sir? Do you seriously think that your words carry an inkling of meaning for the devastated families, let alone assuage the deluge of grief that has submerged them? Your mega projects in Punjab are all fine and dandy, and indeed much needed, honourable PM, but an old adage in Farsi — the mother tongue of those five slaughtered Hazara Shias — goes: “Aalam pas e marg e maa cheh darya o cheh saraab?” (Would it matter to me whether the world were a sandy mirage or a lush oasis with flowing water after my death?)

To add insult to injury, the 25-year-old son of the veteran progressive Hazara politician and human rights activist Tahir Khan Hazara was, according to him, taken away illegally on June 9, 2015. Tahir Hazara had made a speech at the protest organised by the Hazara mourners the day before in which he targeted sectarian jihadists like Ramzan Mengal and Rafique Mengal who were attempting to neutralise the secular Baloch struggle and in the process slaughtering the Hazara Shias to ignite a sectarian war. Tahir Hazara told me over the phone that some men came to his place at Spin Karez, an hour’s drive west of Quetta, and asked for him but since he was not there they forcibly took his only son, Athar Hazara, with them. As we go to press there has been no word from the government about the young Athar Hazara despite a nightlong physical protest by the Hazara men and women as well as outrage on social media. One does not wish for yet another youth to be added to the thousands of Balochistan’s missing persons. Hopefully, Tahir Hazara’s son will return home safe and soon. Tragically, Tahir Khan Hazara was once a political assistant to the late and much revered Mir Ghaus Bux Bizenjo whose lacklustre son, Hasil Khan Bizenjo, presides over the National Party (NP) that leads Balochistan’s toothless coalition government today.

If the NP-led government was just powerless there could potentially be a flimsy excuse for sordid incidents like forced disappearances, dumping of mutilated bodies of Baloch nationalists and the massacre of Pashtuns like in Mastung. But, sadly, the Balochistan Chief Minister (CM), Abdul Malik Baloch, and his party leader, Hasil Bizenjo, have been actively peddling conspiracy theories that blame the Indian secret service, RAW, for everything that ails Balochistan. Hasil Bizenjo recently alleged on a television talk show that the late Nawab Khair Bux Marri’s son, Nawabzada Mehran Marri, who purportedly oversees the United Baloch Army (UBA), had accepted responsibility for the massacre of Pashtuns in Mastung, which simply is not true. Nawabzada Mehran Marri has vehemently denied any involvement in the Mastung bloodbath.

Quite curiously, a certain Haji Wali Muhammad Qalati, claiming to be the leader of the UBA, surrendered to the government last week. Accepting Wali Qalati’s surrender was none other than the estranged brother of Nawabzada Mehran Marri, Changez Marri, who has sided with Islamabad against his brothers, his late father and the Baloch at large. No questions were asked as to how Wali Qalati — an ostensible militant — after killing 22 Pashtuns, had a sudden change of heart overnight and gave up his arms. No information was given by the NP-led government about Qalati’s direct involvement in the butchery at Mastung and whether he would be brought to justice. The UBA’s alleged claim and then the convenient surrender of its supposed leader, Wali Qalati, simply do not pass the whiff test but, unfortunately, that is what Hasil Bizenjo’s faux nationalist government is trying to sell.

In the same interview, Hasil Bizenjo also said that in the event the liberation struggle succeeded, a sovereign Baloch state would be weak and fall prey to Afghanistan or Iran. One is compelled first to ask Hasil Khan Bizenjo if there was any foreign power that orchestrated the December 14, 1947 speech delivered by his illustrious father, Mir Ghaus Bux Bizenjo, to the Kalat National Assembly, which went on to become the ideological backbone of modern Baloch nationalism and liberation struggles. The late Bizenjo sahib had said: “We have a distinct culture like Afghanistan and Iran, and if the mere fact that we are Muslims requires us to amalgamate with Pakistan, then Afghanistan and Iran should also be amalgamated with Pakistan. They say we Baloch cannot defend ourselves in the atomic age. Well, are Afghanistan and even Iran capable of defending themselves against the superpowers? If we cannot defend ourselves, a lot of others cannot do so either. They say we must join Pakistan for economic reasons. Yet we have minerals, we have petroleum and we have ports. The question is: what would Pakistan be without us?”

It seems that the venerable Ghaus Bux Bizenjo was virtually quashing then the very aspersions that Hasil Bizenjo is casting today on the Baloch national movement. The fact is that the NP-led government has failed to conceive even a roadmap for resolving the myriad problems Balochistan is faced with. The Hasil Bizenjo-Malik Baloch duo claims to have initiated dialogue with the insurgents but not only that such parleys do not even exist, the insurgents are loathe to talk to them for they are deemed Islamabad’s fellow travellers. On the Shia/Hazara massacres issue, the duo consistently harps on about the security establishment’s line that it is ostensibly an ‘Iran-Saudi proxy war’ without ever showing how many — if any at all — the Hazaras have ever killed. On the other hand, in its two years’ stint, the sham nationalist dispensation of the NP has failed to apprehend and punish even a single killer of the Hazara Shias. With the federal government’s naivety and the provincial government’s inept plans to stem them, murders and mayhem in Balochistan are bound to increase in the foreseeable future.

Pakistan - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa crisis

After the failure of the All Parties Conference in which the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government had hoped to resolve the controversy surrounding the May 30th Local Government (LG) elections, the opposition went through with their strike on June 10 (yesterday). However, the strike did not gather much traction with the people of KP, despite the tripartite opposition alliance’s best efforts. There have been reports of clashes as political workers of the ANP attempted to force traders and shop owners to close down their businesses and block the roads. A partial strike was observed in some districts, yet the activities of the province were not brought to a standstill as the opposition had hoped. Given the fact that this strike seems to have fizzled out before it could even begin, the opposition will have to rethink their strategy for pressurising the KP government to resign. ANP leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain has said that the opposition parties will hold a rally on June 16 in Peshawar. At a press conference, Hussain said: “We will announce our next line of action in the rally.” It does seem however, that the opposition may have to soften their stance, given the Chief Election Commissioner’s (CEC’s) reluctance to hold fresh elections and their inability to mobilise the masses to join their campaign. It does not seem likely that the opposition will be able to convince the entire province to go on strike or even get a significant number of people to join their protests.

The proposed resignation of the KP government would mean that the provincial Assembly too would have to be re-elected, in addition to the LG. The PTI leadership and KP government realise that this controversy is a setback and that they have lost any moral high ground they may have had when they were accusing the PML-N of being complicit in widespread rigging in the 2013 general elections. PTI chairman Imran Khan has been asserting his party’s willingness to hold the elections again to save face amid the allegations of wilful rigging by his party members in the LG polls. CEC Justice Sardar Raza has commented that holding elections is not child’s play and has not agreed to nullify the results of the LG elections, but specific rigging complaints will be considered by the ECP. The CEC has also accused the police of not being vigilant enough to prevent clashes at polling stations and the mishandling of ballot boxes. In this respect, ensuring security at polling stations is the responsibility of the provincial government and PTI officials in KP cannot avoid the blame for mismanaging these elections. All of the KP government’s attempts at negotiating with the opposition have failed and the latter is not backing down from the demand that the provincial government resign and the elections be held anew under a caretaker setup. This polarisation has called into question the legitimacy of the KP local bodies elections as well as the PTI government’s continuance in office. It still remains unclear how any of the parties will proceed, in the light of the hurdles that they are facing. The ghosts of PTI’s recent past have come back to haunt it, as the opposition refuses to accept the explanation that the LG elections were merely mismanaged and not intentionally rigged — the same explanation that the PTI refused to accept after the 2013 general election. However this issue is resolved in the future, it can only be hoped that the way in which the KP LG polls have been handled, both before and after the elections, does not set a precedent for future elections. Reforms in the electoral process should be made before elections take place to ensure the credibility of election results and prevent post-polls controversies arising again and again.

Pakistan: Former President Zardari deplores latest spurt in hostile rhetoric from India

Former President Asif Ali Zardari has deplored the latest spurt in hostile rhetoric from New Delhi terming it as highly disappointing and not conducive to the promotion of peace in the region.
Coming from as responsible a state functionary as Prime Minister Modi’s irresponsible remarks in Bangladesh taking pride in India’s role in the breakup of Pakistan is most unbecoming, unfortunate and unwarranted to say the least, said the former president in a statement today.
The confirmation by the Indian Prime Minister himself of his country’s negative attitude towards Pakistan will only feed certain perceptions in Pakistan that will gravely undermine peace process or whatever is left of it, he said.
He said that such admissions of willful violation of a neighboring country’s sovereignty will provoke public opinion to demand stern notice by the United Nations as well as a trial by the international criminal court.
How India will take it if some responsible state functionary in Pakistan publicly stated that Pakistan welcomed the dismemberment of India, the former President asked.
As for the threats of hot pursuit the former President cautioned adventurists that Pakistan was not Myanmar.