Tuesday, May 10, 2016

#Bangladesh - Death designer Nizami hanged for war crimes

Leader of a ruthless militia that massacred innocent civilians during 1971, Motiur Rahman Nizami has been hanged for crimes committed against humanity during the Liberation War.
The 71-year-old Jamaat-e-Islami chief was hanged by the rope inside Dhaka Central Jail at 11:55pm, Jahangir Kabir, superintendent of the prison, said. The body was taken down from the noose at 12:10am.
District’s civil surgeon Abdul Malek Mridha checked his pulse to confirm the death.
Two ambulances, bearing the dead body of Nizami, have headed towards Pabna, his ancestral home, escorted by six vehicles of the law enforcement agencies.
The infamous war criminal will be laid to rest at his ancestral soil in Pabna, Ali Hossain, an inspector of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), told The Daily Star earlier.
Nizami masterminded the formation of the ruthless militia Al Badr that unleashed terror on peace-loving Bangalees, killed unarmed civilians, raped women and destroyed properties during the Liberation War.
Towards the end of the nine-month war, the infamous militia -- Al-Badr Bahini -- committed “crimes of serious gravity intending to demean the human civilisation”.

Sensing Pakistan's imminent defeat, the notorious force systematically rounded up, tortured and killed the nation's brightest luminaries to intellectually cripple the soon-to-be independent Bangladesh.
Convicted of committing war crimes, a special International Crimes Tribunal handed him the death penalty on October 29, 2014. Later, on January 6 this year, the Supreme Court upheld capital punishment for him.
After his review plea against death scrapped, Nizami did not seek presidential mercy. Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, earlier this evening, told The Daily Star that the government had ordered for Nizami’s execution.
As per code, Nizami’s family had one last meeting with him. A total of 24 family members entered Dhaka jail around 7:50pm and stayed inside for about one-and-half hours. Later, they left without speaking to the media.
District Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Salahuddin, Executive Magistrate Tanveer Ahmed, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) deputy commissioner (north) of Detective Branch Sheikh Nazmul Alam and Additional police IGP Col Iqbal Hasan were present during the execution.


Pakistan - Ali Haider Gilani recovered from Afghanistan after three years in captivity

Former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s son, Ali Haider Gilani, was recovered on Tuesday in a successful operation in Afghanistan.
Foreign Office in a statement said Ali Haider had been recovered “today in a joint operation carried out by the Afghan and US security forces”.
“Afghan National Security Adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar in a telephone call to prime minister’s senior aide Sartaj Aziz confirmed Gilani was recovered in a joint operation carried out by Afghan and US security forces in Ghazni, Afghanistan.”
Preparations are being made to return him to Pakistan following a medical check-up, the statement added.
The Afghan presidency said the raid had targeted an al-Qaeda cell, and Ali Haider had been sent to the Pakistani embassy in Kabul.
However, later in a statement, President Ashraf Ghani said Ali Haider was recovered from Giyan district of Paktika province.
The Pakistani embassy said Ali Haider was not yet handed over to them.
“There is possibility he will be handed over by tomorrow (Wednesday),” spokesperson Akhtar Munir told The Express Tribune from Kabul over telephone.
Yousaf Raza Gilani’s son kidnapped
According to sources, the embassy had sought access to Gilani, who is at the Bagram airbase with the American military.
Meanwhile, addressing a rally in Bagh, Kashmir, the former premier said, “I received news of my son’s recovery when I landed in Kashmir.”
“However, instead of going back home to receive my son, I felt it was my duty to come here first and address the rally,” Gilani said.

Former PM Yousuf Raza Gillani speaks to media in Islamabad. PHOTO: ONLINE
PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also confirmed the former premier’s son’s recovery.
“PM Yousuf Raza Gilani received a call from ambassador of Afghanistan. His son Haider Gilani has been recovered in a successful operation,” the PPP chairman said on Twitter.

PM @YR_Gillani received call from ambassador of Afghanistan.His son @haidergilani has been recovered in a successful operation.Alhamdulillah

The brother of kidnapped Ali Haider, Abdul Qadir Gilani, told media he was “so happy today that I can’t explain it in words”.
“He is still in Afghanistan and soon he will be among us,” he said of his brother.
Afghan ambassador to Islamabad Dr Okmar Zakhilwal said “He [Gilani] is well and will be repatriated to his family soon.”
Delving into details regarding his telephonic conversation with the former premier, the envoy wrote on Facebook: “He was ecstatically delighted as expected and grateful of President Ashraf Ghani’s personal attention to his son’s safe release.”
The former premier also thanked the Afghan Security Forces for bringing a happy ending to a dreadful family saga for them, Zakhilwal added.

PM congratulates Gilani over recovery
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also congratulated Gilani over the recovery of his son, the PM’s office said.
“I am pleased at the news of the safe recovery of your son Ali Haider Gilani. I pray to Allah Almighty he may return home soon,” Nawaz Sharif said.
“I pay tributes to you and your whole family for spending three years with courage and patience,” the premier added.
In May 2013, armed assailants kidnapped the son of the former prime minister, while also killing two PPP workers in the attack.
Two years on…: Ex-premier Gilani’s abducted son ‘happy and safe’
The incident took place at a party corner meeting in Farrukhabad, near Matital Road in Multan, where Ali Haider was scheduled to address.
At the time of abduction, CPO Multan had said eight armed men riding a black Honda City car and two 125 cc motorcycles, opened fire at a corner meeting in Farrukh Town, an area falling in Ali Haider’s PP-200 constituency.
Witnesses said a bullet also hit Ali Haider and that he was bleeding when the kidnappers dragged him into the car.
Militants release video of Ali Haider Gilani
The attack killed Ali Haider’s secretary, Muhammad Muhiuddin, and his private guard, Amin Ahmed.
Earlier, a top government official had said Gilani was in custody of a militant group not part of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.
The official had also stated that the group had demanded Rs2 billion in ransom and warned that they would kill him if their demand was not met within a month.
Ali Haider’s recovery comes two months after Salmaan Taseer’s son Shahbaz Taseer was recovered five years after he was abducted.


Sex Talk for Muslim Women

By Mona Eltahawy
After I gave a reading in Britain last year, a woman stood in line as I signed books. When it was her turn, the woman, who said she was from a British Muslim family of Arab origin, knelt down to speak so that we were at eye level.
“I, too, am fed up with waiting to have sex,” she said, referring to the experience I had related in the reading. “I’m 32 and there’s no one I want to marry. How do I get over the fear that God will hate me if I have sex before marriage?”
I hear this a lot. My email inbox is jammed with messages from women who, like me, are of Middle Eastern and Muslim descent. They write to vent about how to “get rid of this burden of virginity,” or to ask about hymen reconstruction surgery if they’re planning to marry someone who doesn’t know their sexual history, or just to share their thoughts about sex.
Countless articles have been written on the sexual frustration of men in the Middle East — from the jihadi supposedly drawn to armed militancy by the promise of virgins in the afterlife to ordinary Arab men unable to afford marriage. Far fewer stories have given voice to the sexual frustration of women in the region or to an honest account of women’s sexual experiences, either within or outside marriage.
I am not a cleric, and I am not here to argue over what religion says about sex. I am an Egyptian, Muslim woman who waited until she was 29 to have sex and has been making up for lost time. My upbringing and faith taught me that I should abstain until I married. I obeyed this until I could not find anyone I wanted to marry and grew impatient. I have come to regret that it took my younger self so long to rebel and experience something that gives me so much pleasure.
We barely acknowledge the sexual straitjacket we force upon women. When it comes to women, especially Muslim women in the Middle East, the story seems to begin and end with the debate about the veil. Always the veil. As if we don’t exist unless it’s to express a position on the veil.
So where are the stories on women’s sexual frustrations and experiences? I spent much of last year on a book tour that took me to 12 countries. Everywhere I went — from Europe and North America to India, Nigeria and Pakistan — women, including Muslim women, readily shared with me their stories of guilt, shame, denial and desire. They shared because I shared.
Many cultures and religions prescribe the abstinence that was indoctrinated in me. When I was teaching at the University of Oklahoma in 2010, one of my students told the class that she had signed a purity pledge with her father, vowing to wait until she married before she had sex. It was a useful reminder that a cult of virginity is specific neither to Egypt, my birthplace, nor to Islam, my religion. Remembering my struggles with abstinence and being alone with that, I determined to talk honestly about the sexual frustration of my 20s, how I overcame the initial guilt of disobedience, and how I made my way through that guilt to a positive attitude toward sex.
It has not been easy for my parents to hear their daughter talk so frankly about sex, but it has opened up a world of other women’s experiences. In many non-Western countries, speaking about such things is scorned as “white” or “Western” behavior. But when sex is surrounded by silence and taboo, it is the most vulnerable who are hurt, especially girls and sexual minorities.
In New York, a Christian Egyptian-American woman told me how hard it was for her to come out to her family. In Washington, a young Egyptian woman told the audience that her family didn’t know she was a lesbian. In Jaipur, a young Indian talked about the challenge of being gender nonconforming; and in Lahore, I met a young woman who shared what it was like to be queer in Pakistan.
My notebooks are full of stories like these. I tell friends I could write the manual on how to lose your virginity.
Many of the women who share them with me, I realize, enjoy some privilege, be it education or an independent income. It is striking that such privilege does not always translate into sexual freedom, nor protect women if they transgress cultural norms. But the issue of sex affects all women, not just those with money or a college degree. Sometimes, I hear the argument that women in the Middle East have enough to worry about simply struggling with literacy and employment. To which my response is: So because someone is poor or can’t read, she shouldn’t have consent and agency, the right to enjoy sex and her own body?
The answer to that question is already out there, in places like the blog Adventures From the Bedroom of African Women, founded by the Ghana-based writer Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, and the Mumbai-based Agents of Ishq, a digital project on sex education and sexual life. These initiatives prove that sex-positive attitudes are not the province only of so-called white feminism. As the writer Mitali Saran put it, in an anthology of Indian women’s writing: “I am not ashamed of being a sexual being.”
My revolution has been to develop from a 29-year-old virgin to the 49-year-old woman who now declares, on any platform I get: It is I who own my body. Not the state, the mosque, the street or my family. And it is my right to have sex whenever, and with whomever, I choose. http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/05/06/opinion/sex-talk-for-muslim-women.html?referer= b>

Pakistan criticised for censoring article about Muslim women and sex

A feminist writer has criticised Pakistan for censoring an article on Muslim women and sex, saying the ban exposed the extent of the country’s discrimination against women.
Mona Eltahawy, an award-winning Egyptian-American journalist and campaigner for women’s rights, wrote an opinion column, “Sex talk for Muslim women”, that was published by the International New York Times on Friday.
The case of Saba Qaiser and the film-maker determined to put an end to 'honour' killings.
The article was available online in Pakistan, but the newspaper version, which should have been published in the opinion section of the local Express Tribune, was replaced by a blank space.
Eltahawy told AFP that the decision to ban her article was an example of how Pakistan’s authorities think a woman “who claims ownership over her body is dangerous … and must be silenced”.
A senior source at the Express Tribune told AFP, on condition of anonymity, that the newspaper “can’t afford to publish such controversial articles about Islam”.
In the piece, Eltahawy discussed her decision to have sex before marriage – in defiance of her own upbringing and Muslim faith – and detailed many conversations with other women of Muslim and Arab descent suffering under the “sexual straitjacket” of virginity imposed on them by men.
“Where are the stories on women’s sexual frustrations and experiences?” she wrote. “My revolution has been to develop from a 29-year-old virgin to the 49-year-old woman who now declares, on any platform I get: it is I who own my body. Not the state, the mosque, the street or my family. And it is my right to have sex whenever, and with whomever, I choose.”
Women have fought for decades to establish equal rights in Pakistan, where so-called honour killings and acid attacks remain commonplace.
Last week a teenage girl in the north-west of the country was strangled to death and set alight after a village council ruled she must be killed for helping a friend to elope.
Eltahawy said the censorship showed “a woman who disobeys and who openly claims sexual liberation and pleasure is dangerous and must be silenced” and cited a similar backlash faced by the Pakistani director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy after her documentary about honour killings won an Academy Award.
“So many Pakistanis attacked her for making Pakistan ‘look bad’ and not enough attacked what is actually making Pakistan look bad: men who are ready to kill women for daring to believe they have the right to consent and agency over their bodies.”
Eltahawy said she was not aware of her article being censored in any other country and defended the right of Muslim women to openly talk about sex. “Sex is happening, but shrouded in taboo and shame … As women of colour and women of faith, we need to see women who look like us. Sex positivity isn’t the domain just of white feminism.”
She said a recent trip to Lahore for a literary festival introduced her to “wonderful young feminists” who “keep my tenacious optimism intact”. “The more feminists such as the ones I met push, the greater the space they’ll create for everyone.”

#panamapapers - #Pakistan - Ordeal of democracy

By Afrasiab Khattak
The Panama leaks are expected to dominate the “national” political discourse in Pakistan in the foreseeable future like the charges of rigged election monopolized it in 2014. Along with numerous other Pakistanis I had vehemently supported a full investigation into the charges of rigging in elections at that time and today I am wholeheartedly in favor of credible investigation into the questions arising out of the contents of Panama Papers.
After putting the question of investigation out of the way I want to draw attention to a completely different dimension of the situation. We remember very well that the elected political government had narrowly escaped a putsch at the climax of the previous polarisation (although it had to cede a lot of space in policy and control to the khakis) and can face a similar threat in the coming few months when the situation heats up due to the current stand off. But have we not been here before? Remember Memogate and Prime Minister’s letter to Swiss banks? Many of these stories that made headlines in the past are completely forgotten now.
The aforementioned “crises situations” that seemed to spell disaster, and were supposed to be created by the civilian dispensations, were actually produced by the refusal of the deep state to reconcile with the system dominated by civilians. But the deep state, after strengthening its grip on the commanding heights of the system of governance and modern media, has developed political engineering into a fine art. For all practical purposes the Pakistani state system has become a hybrid of military rule and civilian dispensation with a permanent inner contradiction. The clash between de jure and de facto is not invisible anymore. This is the root cause of the “permanent crises” in Pakistan, but ironically this is a subject that is generally avoided in public debate.
It all started in 1971 after the political and military debacle in East Pakistan. Since the military junta had presided over the disintegration of the country the generals had to beat a political retreat from the power politics, at least for the time being.
It was during this interval that the elected political leadership put together a federal parliamentary Constitution of 1973. But the security establishment of the country has never fully reconciled with the system enunciated by the aforementioned Constitution. They felt “cheated” at the end of controlled democracy. The generals have in practice regarded it to be an aberration and have made efforts to “correct” it more than once.
The civilian government led by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto faced three military coups.
The first two were unsuccessful but the third one resulted in the overthrow of civilian rule. General Zia’s military dictatorship did not hide its intention of overhauling the Constitution. After Zia’s death in a plane crash in 1988 the military was not in a position to continue a direct rule so it settled for indirect control. But in 1999 it intervened once again and had no hesitation in imposing distortions and deformations on the Constitution. Interestingly General Zia’s “Islamization” and General Musharraf’s “enlightened moderation” had remarkable similarities when it came to the adoption of a constitutional scheme of controlled democracy giving a veto power to the generals. In the process the Constitution lost its basic structure of a federal and parliamentary system and acquired the character of a quasi unitary and quasi presidential system. In 2010 the parliament was able to restore to a large extent the Constitution of 1973 to its original form through the 18th amendment, something that is hard to swallow for the proponents of controlled democracy.
Be that as it may, Pakistan can’t afford to live with this ever-deepening contradiction indefinitely. Terrorism fed by religious extremism, rampant corruption in all state institutions, environmental degradation and international isolation among so many other challenges are threatening the very existence of the federation.
A country at loggerheads with three out of its four immediate neighbours can’t be a country living in peace. No civilian government can focus on resolving these serious challenges when it is proven to be “ shallow” or weak in the face of political machinations of the deep state. Electronic media, largely controlled and manipulated by the deep state, is instrumental in creating artificial crises and hysterics. Here the purpose is not to whitewash the weaknesses of political elites arising out of corruption and incompetence. But that is something that can be overcome by continuity of democratic process where people can reject the old political teams and elect new ones. But the entrenched diarchy in the state system tilted against civilians will not allow even the best of political government to deliver. Fearing to lose power the sitting governments stick to the mantra of being at the same page with the security establishment and aspiring to come to power riding the crises most of the opposition political parties deny the existence of the problem.
All the while the said contradiction not only persists but it is also eating into the very vitals of state and society by blocking almost all avenues of development.
The problem of civil-military divide in the state system is too big and too deeply entrenched for any one party or one institution. Its resolution will require collective wisdom of the people of Pakistan.
As the main repository of the people’s will and wisdom it is the duty of elected parliament to address this issue and devise ways and means for its amicable resolution. It doesn’t have to be a zero sum game. But the solution will definitely have to be with in the framework of the democratic vision of the founding fathers of the country. Will it be too much to expect from the Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly and Honourable Chairman Senate of Pakistan to constitute a joint Parliamentary Committee (or Committee of Whole if the rules permit) with the approval of members of both the houses to tackle this problem over and above partisan politics with help from civil society? Otherwise we shall be waiting some thing on the pattern of Arab Spring. But as we have seen in Iraq, Libya and Syria it may kill the patient along with the disease.