Friday, August 21, 2015

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Video Report - Migrant crisis raises tough questions for Europe

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Asia Bibi - The innocent troubled soul: “My mother hugged and kissed us from behind the bars”

The blasphemy laws are not a heartache for Asia Bibi only, but her family also suffers from the agony followed by the ghastly episode of tragedy.
Asia Bibi’s blasphemy case is of extraordinarily sensitive nature and high-profile one. Her husband Aahiq Massih and her five children talked with the BBC and portrayed their predicament since they have been on the run since Asia was arrested.
Aashiq Masih said, “The danger of someone killing any of them hung over him every day. We get death threats,” he said, adding as he apparently with a worried and wearied look.
“We can’t stay in one place for very long. We live in hiding. It’s very hard especially for the children. They can’t settle down or study,” he added. “It’s not a normal life to be constantly living in fear.”
The tale of dilemma was also narrated by Asia Bibi’s 14-year-old daughter Esham. “They went to fields and beat her and tore her clothes. They beat her in front of us.” As she recounted the account of her mother’s quandary she was trying her utmost to hold back her tears to roll out of her eyes.
“We were crying, begging them to let her go and stop hitting her. They did that for almost one hour. They also hit me when I tried to defend her,” Esham continued while agony imprinted on her soul was evident from her shaky voice.
“At the time I could not understand why this was happening to my mother, and was told later that it was about blasphemy. I try to forget the way she was beaten and tortured that day,” Esham said.
Aashiq Masih almost in a weepy tone said “The blasphemy law had destroyed our lives. I call on the international community to help. And I ask the Pakistani government to review this law.”
Asia Bibi’s daughters who are now able to realize the nature of charges brought against their mother and the consequences applicable to them visit her from time to time but seeing her in prison is not an easy affair.
“We see her after many days. We asked the warden to open the cell so we can hug her, but he didn’t. My mother hugged and kissed us from behind the bars. She cried deep from her heart,” Esham barely uttered.
Asia Bibi a Pakistani Christian woman was accused of committing blasphemy by her fellow workers in 2009. In 2010, she was awarded death sentence, however, later appeal was filed against the ruling which was rejected by the Lahore High Court in 2014, and most recently, her appeal case is pending for a hearing before the Supreme Court.
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Pakistan: "Seditious propaganda" and governmental inaction result in Ahmadi Muslim killings

he 37 year old Ahmadi man, Ikram Ullah, who was killed in his medical store at Tonsa, district Dera Ghazi Khan on August 19th was a victim of religious hatred, Jama'at Ahmadiyya Pakistan has asserted in a press release.

"This incident is the reinforcement of religious hatred and biasness," the community press release read, adding, "Baseless nationwide propaganda against Ahmadis is strangling the lives of the members of innocent community."

The written statement by the beleaguered community detailed the circumstances surrounding the attack on Ikram Ullah who was shot multiple times at his place of business.

Four unknown target killers rode into Ikram Ullah's place of business and sprayed him with bullets, killing him on the spot.

The victim, a pharmacist by trade, and described as "an active member of the community and a noble person," leaves behind his widow, a daughter age 5 and a son age 18 months.

Ikram Ullah was not known to have enmity with anyone and police officials suspect killing was motivated by faith.

"Ikram Ullah had no personal enmity and neither did he have any questionable financial dealings, he was most probably targeted because he was a member of Qadiani[*] community," District Police Officer of Dera Gazi Khan, Ghulam Mubashir Maken, told BBC news.

Spokesman of Jamat Ahmadiyya Pakistan, Mr Saleem Ud Din said: "Continuous, seditious propaganda against Ahmadis all over the country is a primary reason of these kinds of incidents."

He said that it was announced in the National Action Plan, established by the Government of Pakistan on January 2015 to crack down on terrorism, that effective action will be taken against all persons who spread hatred.

"But it is sorry to say that not only all seditious elements spreading hatred against Jamat Ahmadiyya are free but also continuing their seditious propaganda against Ahmadees fearlessly," Saleem Ud Din said.

Spokesman demanded administration to arrest the killers of Mr Ikram Ullah urgently and punish them in accordance with the law.

Pakistan - Misogyny, rape and silence

By Zeeba T Hashmi

The recent scandal of the Kasur child abuse case shows how politicians and the powerful have tried to hush up the matter by linking it to a land dispute and how the villagers were intimidated and threatened against speaking up.

Pakistan is a land of diversities with many lifestyles, customs and traditions stemming from the ancient agrarian roots of this land, which have remained integral in forming a human psyche that cannot escape the notion of honour deeply internalised in our societal thought. This stringent traditional honour is the result of the material dominance and prestige associated with it, which weighs heavily on interlinking women with honour through their sheer objectification. In our brainwashed, subliminal minds, women are not considered individual persons. Women are the ones made to be bear the brunt of exploitation and suffering, and are denied their right to consent. The motive for the objectification of women is to keep property within the family or exchange them in marriage, like cattle, to settle their material disputes. Any attempt to uncover the ugly designs against women are obstructed and silenced in lieu of protecting the ‘honour’ of the concerned family.

Inhibited values demeaning the position of women seems to trickle down in society, which internalises misogynist attitudes, something even the most liberal among the lot are not fully able to escape. The impact becomes double-edged when we witness the complete handicap of a sense of justice: of equality and equitable rights on the whole. In a situation that blames the victim and justifies the acts of the perpetrators, even to the extent of romanticising them, it makes for a doomed nation where the aggressor remains scot-free and the afflicted remain at the mercy of their masters, sans confrontation.

Liberties of consent for women are determined by class structure, especially when it comes to matters of love and sexual freedom, though many women sadly keep it concealed for fear of punishment and social embarrassment. Patriarchal values can be blamed for such victimisation of women. This can be seen by how the once matriarchal society of the ‘red light’ community of Heera Mandi in Lahore has been taken over by middlemen who use their might to take control of women and exploit them. Worse, these exploited women cannot approach the gates of the courts for redress of their grievances of rape and money exploitation for if they do so, they can be indicted under the Hudood laws. They remain helpless, weak and without protection in a business that is considered illegal. Nor are they allowed to leave this tradition at will because of heavy intimidation from their dealers and lack of their rehabilitation into mainstream society.

The mention of rape in Pakistan is considered a taboo that needs to be hushed up. Besides a prominent religious and political leader of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) telling women on live television that they should keep their mouths shut about their rape, conspiracies to keep rape a silent act are there to protect patriarchy. Misogyny continues to manifest itself by keeping the vulnerable in control and also to threaten with horrific consequences all those who try to defy what are considered to be social ‘norms’ and ‘cultural values’. Some politicians and influentials, even those who portray themselves as adherents of modern values, protect vehemently the traditional misogynistic mindset and are diehard proponents of keeping women away from decision making roles.

There are specific status quos that are arbitrarily protected by the state to keep the crimes of the powerful unpunished. The recent scandal of the Kasur child abuse case shows how politicians and the powerful have tried to hush up the matter by linking it to a land dispute and how the villagers were intimidated and threatened against speaking up on the issue. If we go back to 2005, a similar case was recorded in Azad Kashmir when three army personnel were accused by the villagers of the rape of a minor girl but the villagers were coerced by the military to take their complaint back, the whole matter was silenced and no news could surface in Pakistan, despite the fact that it got reported by the BBC. If the mystery over why the voices of the relatives of the minor girl were hushed up raises suspicion and doubts over the validity of this incident, then the crimes of the army in 1971 where thousands of women were raped cannot be cornered. To this day, those rape victims are still denied justice due to a pact Bangladesh signed with Pakistan to keep Pakistan’s military out of international courts. With the unaccountable status given to the powerful, the same has historically transcended into all levels of society, where the authoritative feed on the agony of the weak to satiate their lust for power.

Submission to injustice means victory of the oppressors: victory of protecting their status quo and those who benefit directly through such endorsements. An indoctrination of such submission to systematic aggression under the excuse of religion, culture or the tribal justice system should be deemed criminal. However, there is some hope as people are becoming more democratically aware of the issues that directly concern them but it needs some time to reach the level of maturity needed to curb such attitudes that have subconsciously harmed women. At present, those differing in terms of beliefs, gender or sexual orientations are criticised, publicly humiliated, socially ostracised and even murdered. Though misogyny in a patriarchal society is starkly obvious, it goes away without much intrigue as it has been heavily entrenched as part of our society. It is like a love struck wonder: you cannot see the flaw in love unless you come out of it. This is our Stockholm syndrome.

Malala aces her O-levels

Pakistani-born child activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousufzai has aced O'Level Exams in the United Kingdom. According to the Express Tribune, the Nobel laureate's father tweeted her result, showing that she has scored six A*s and four As in her O-level examinations.

The 18-year-old secured A*s in Maths GCSE, Maths IGSE, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Religious Studies. While she scored As in History, Geography, English Language and English Literature. Proud of his daughter's achievement, Malala's father, Ziauddin Yousufzai tweeted, "My wife Toor Pekai and I are proud of Malala getting 6A*s and 4As. #education for every child." Malala was 15 when a Taliban gunman shot her in the head as she travelled on a school bus in response to her campaign for girls' education. Last year, she received the Nobel Peace Prize alongside India's Kailash Satyarthi for risking their lives to fight for children's rights. 

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Asif Ali Zardari Former President of Pakistan in an exclusive interview with Arif Nizami – Thursday, August 20, 2015

DNA - 20th August 2015 by pkpoliticsfive