Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Music Video - Michael Jackson - Billie Jean

Joe Biden: ‘I Wish to Hell I’d Just Kept Saying the Exact Same Thing’

Joe Biden’s personal compartment on the modified Boeing 757 that serves as Air Force Two had the feel of a motel manager’s office equipped with state-of-the-art communications gear. The room held a little black couch with a pullout bed he had slept on more times than he could count over the last eight years, during which he logged more than a million miles aloft. We were en route back to Wilmington, Del., from Cartagena, Colombia, in early December, and Biden was sitting in a black leather seat with a binder in his lap.
It contained the speech he had given at the Democratic National Convention in July. He told me he had been rereading it. He began reciting aloud: “If you live in neighborhoods like the one Jill and I grew up in, if you worry about your job and getting decent pay. ...” His voice accelerated. “If you worry about your children’s education, if you’re taking care of an elderly parent, there’s only one person in this race who. ...” He looked up at me and sighed. “I wish to hell I’d just kept saying the exact same thing.”
Biden was afflicted with regret. He was sorry that, on the campaign trail, he had spoken so often about Donald Trump’s unfitness for office and not enough about what Hillary Clinton would do for the middle class. He was sorry he didn’t push harder inside the White House for a middle-class tax cut. And he was still torn over his decision not to run for president, a race that he said would have been “brutal” but that he also believed he could have won.
I spoke with Biden intermittently in the months before and after Election Day, and I had no doubt as to why he didn’t jump in. He was still corny, gabby, lovable Uncle Joe, the guy who once said: “Stand up, Chuck! Let ’em see you!” to a man in a wheelchair. But nearly every speech and interview now included some moving mention of his son Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015, and how much Biden was doing, and intended to continue to do for the rest of his life, to speed the search for cancer cures. I saw Biden cry in Manchester, N.H., in October when holding an infant that he was told was named after Beau. I saw him near tears in West Mifflin, Pa., the weekend before the election, when he was joined onstage by the former Pittsburgh Steelers Franco Harris and Mel Blount — which reminded him of the footballs the team owner sent to young Beau and his brother, Hunter, in the hospital after they were injured in the 1972 car accident that killed Biden’s first wife and baby girl.
On his deathbed, Beau advised his father to run, but many friends — including President Obama — didn’t think he was up to it emotionally, and the vice president finally agreed. “For all that’s important to me in almost a sacred sense,” he told me mournfully, the decision was unavoidable. “The family was broken, and I was more broken than I thought I was.” How broken? “I don’t know what I’d do if I was in a debate and someone said, ‘You’re doing this because of your son,’ ” he told me one late November day in his West Wing office. “I might have walked over and kicked his ass.”
And yet minutes later, he was standing at his desk, fidgeting and replaying what might have been in 2016. The South Carolina primary would have given him a strong start, he said, citing his internal polls there. “Hard to believe, but I was more popular with blacks than Barack was.”
Biden clearly loathes the new president; he said during the campaign that if he and Trump were in high school, he’d “take him behind the gym” for the way he bragged about groping women. Trump reminded him of the bullies who teased him as a child on account of his stutter, calling him “B-B-Biden.” But the politician who has long believed all politics is personal wants to keep it impersonal with Trump. “The president and I have concluded that there’s no value in making that ad hominem argument,” he told me of Obama. “It gets you nowhere.”
Biden wasn’t shocked that Hillary Clinton lost. He had noticed before the election that Trump was connecting with the people he grew up with in Pennsylvania. This shaped his thoughts on how Democrats should respond. When the subject of Trump came up aboard Air Force Two, Biden referred to a well-worn story about how, as a freshman senator, he saw Jesse Helms, the archconservative North Carolina Republican, ripping into a piece of disabilities legislation. Biden was furious about it and began attacking Helms to Mike Mansfield, the Democratic Senate majority leader. Puffing on his pipe, Mansfield asked Biden if he knew that Helms and his wife had adopted a disabled 9-year-old boy no one else would take. “Question a man’s judgment, not his motives,” Mansfield instructed.
Biden, who was invited by Helms decades later to give his eulogy, is convinced that absorbing Mansfield’s advice is what allowed him to work with Senate Republicans during the Obama years, to negotiate the approval of the New Start nuclear-arms-reduction treaty, the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and the expansion of the earned-income tax credit, among other accomplishments. His approach to Trump, he said, wouldn’t be fundamentally different. “It falls in that category,” Biden told me. “It’s one thing to say: ‘I think the proposal on the following is a serious mistake. I think it’s gonna do the following damage.’ It’s another thing to say, ‘The guy’s a fucking idiot, and he is an egomaniac who’s a whatever.’ ”
Biden suggested he might lobby former Republican colleagues when “circumstances generate blowback among mainstream Republicans.” He remains in the shrinking camp that believes Trump may yet step up, at least a bit, to the demands of high office. His hope is that Trump’s “sense of grandeur is so immense that he’d rather succeed than unleash these forces.” Given how many Trump voters would lose their insurance under full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, he may well back off of repealing it, Biden said. As for the rest of his own administration’s legacy, he said, “I’m not prepared to bet my granddaughter’s college tuition, but it’s less likely to be undone than frayed on the edges.”
Biden’s biggest worry is that Trump, for all his bluster, could be a global bystander, unwilling to engage a messy world with anything more than chest-thumping. “The question I get everywhere is: ‘Is American leadership going to continue?’ ” he told me on Air Force Two. If Trump “just stays behind the lines — hands off — it could be very ugly. Very, very ugly.”
In July, the president of Latvia asked Biden to fly there as soon as possible and give a televised speech assuring the Baltic states that the United States would fulfill its NATO obligations and defend them against a Russian invasion. He did so, emphatically, but his promises offer little comfort post-Election Day. The prospect of Vladimir Putin fulfilling his dream of re-establishing Russian hegemony over Eastern Europe is not far from Biden’s mind. “Now if we walk away — Hungary, Poland, even the Baltic states, these guys all start to hedge their bets,” he said.
Biden’s national security adviser, Colin Kahl, who was with the vice president on the plane, interjected to outline the contradictions in Trump’s emerging foreign policy. If the United States is going to be more cooperative with Russia and Bashar al-Assad’s Syria but more confrontational with Iran, Kahl asked, how will Trump handle them joining together to fight ISIS? “It’s like a Rubik’s cube trying to figure this guy out,” Biden sighed. “We have no freakin’ idea what he’s gonna do.” When they were Senate colleagues, and Biden was chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Biden thought Obama was in too much of a hurry — and Obama found the chairman a tad condescending. But in the White House, the two men became exceptionally close. “There was never a point,” Obama told me recently, “where I thought he was distancing himself from me or positioning himself. Never been a time when he wasn’t telling me something he really thought.” Their families, too, drew together. “Family has been central for us — that’s our baseline,” Obama told me. “We both feel freer to do what we think is right because if it doesn’t work out, our families will still love us.”
Biden later told friends that he thought the president was sincerely looking out for him in 2015 when he advised him not to run — though he also felt Obama had grown fond of the bright mark he could leave on history by passing the baton from the first black president to the first female president.
The big question now is when, and how, they will re-enter the arena. Obama has already said that, unlike George W. Bush, he won’t refrain from commenting on his successor. Biden may go further. Amid discussion of resistance to Trump, he surprised me with talk of 2020, when he’ll turn 78. “I’ll run,” the vice president deadpanned, “if I can walk.” Three days later, he informed the Washington press corps that he wasn’t joking.
Biden isn’t likely to run, but keeping the door ajar gives him a bigger voice in Democratic Party debates. The one that worries him most is over repositioning to win back Trump voters. He has little patience with Democrats who want to move either left or right. “ ‘We gotta move to the center,’ ‘We gotta move to those white guys,’ ‘We gotta move to those working-class people’ or ‘We gotta double down on the social agenda.’ ” It’s a false choice, he said: “They are totally compatible. I have never said anything to the A.C.L.U. that I wouldn’t say to the Chamber of Commerce.”
This was the vision of the Democratic Party to which Biden had dedicated his career. “Amtrak Joe” famously commuted every day from Wilmington to Washington — three hours round-trip, for 36 years. He told me that as the train neared Baltimore, he habitually peered into the rapidly passing homes close to the tracks — a flip book of middle-class families of various backgrounds who might have recognized themselves in his convention speech. “I wonder what the conversation at the dinner table is,” he told me.
Sometimes he saw his own family in the early 1960s in those houses. He imagines the families’ struggles with everyday expenses: “ ‘Honey, we need a new set of tires, but you gotta get another 20,000 miles out of them.’ That’s the goddamn discussion people are having! That’s their lives!”
Before the election, Biden had begun to map out what his post-vice-presidential plans would look like. Soon he would be back on Amtrak, riding to and from a foreign-policy institute bearing his name at the University of Pennsylvania and a domestic-policy center at the University of Delaware, and continuing the “cancer moonshot” — a Biden-led initiative marshaling resources in government and the private sector to accelerate cancer research. In the meantime, he’ll help play defense against Trump. “Even if the Democratic Party didn’t want me, I’m not walking away,” he said. “I’ve worked on this stuff my whole life.”
After Air Force Two touched down on the tarmac in Wilmington, I asked him about a line he liked to use before the election. “So do you still believe what your grandfather said, that God looks out for drunken Irishmen and the United States of America?” Biden said he wasn’t sure about the Irishmen, but he was about the country. “I have to believe that,” he said. “There’s no sense being in this business unless you’re an optimist.”

Obama to travel to Palm Springs after inauguration

By Kevin Liptak
President Barack Obama plans to travel to Palm Springs after the inauguration Friday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday.

"The first family is looking forward to flying to Palm Springs, California, on Friday," Earnest said, noting the desert city fits the bill of a warm destination, which Obama has long promised.
"He and his family have enjoyed the time they spent there in the past, and they're looking forward to traveling there on Friday," Earnest added. Obama will fly aboard the presidential aircraft to the Coachella Valley oasis, where he's taken frequent golf trips as president, two sources familiar with his plans told CNN earlier Tuesday.
Another source familiar with the trip confirmed Obama and the first lady will be staying at the Rancho Mirage home of Michael Smith, the decorator responsible for designing the Oval Office and private residence, a location where the Obamas have stayed in the past.

Video - 1/17/17: White House Press Briefing

Transcript: President Obama on What Books Mean to Him

Michiko Kakutani, the chief book critic for The New York Times, interviewed President Obama about literature on Friday at the White House. Here are excerpts from the conversation, which have been edited and condensed.
These books that you gave to your daughter Malia on the Kindle, what were they? Some of your favorites?
I think some of them were sort of the usual suspects, so “The Naked and the Dead” or “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” I think she hadn’t read yet.
Then there were some books I think that are not on everybody’s reading list these days, but I remembered as being interesting, like “The Golden Notebook” by Doris Lessing, for example. Or “The Woman Warrior,” by Maxine [Hong Kingston].
Part of what was interesting was me pulling back books that I thought were really powerful, but that might not surface when she goes to college.
Have you had a chance to discuss them with her?
I’ve had the chance to discuss some. And she’s interested in being a filmmaker, so storytelling is of great interest to her. She had just read “A Moveable Feast.” I hadn’t included that, and she was just captivated by the idea that Hemingway described his goal of writing one true thing every day.
What made you want to become a writer?
I loved reading when I was a kid, partly because I was traveling so much, and there were times where I’d be displaced, I’d be the outsider. When I first moved to Indonesia, I’m this big, dark-skinned kid that kind of stood out. And then when I moved back from Indonesia to Hawaii, I had the manners and habits probably of an Indonesian kid. And so the idea of having these worlds that were portable, that were yours, that you could enter into, was appealing to me. And then I became a teenager and wasn’t reading that much other than what was assigned in school, and playing basketball and chasing girls, and imbibing things that weren’t very healthy.
I think all of us did.
Yeah. And then I think rediscovered writing and reading and thinking in my first or second year of college and used that as a way to rebuild myself, a process I write about in “Dreams From My Father.”
That period in New York, where you were intensely reading. I was hermetic — it really is true. I had one plate, one towel, and I’d buy clothes from thrift shops. And I was very intense, and sort of humorless. But it reintroduced me to the power of words as a way to figure out who you are and what you think, and what you believe, and what’s important, and to sort through and interpret this swirl of events that is happening around you every minute.
And so even though by the time I graduated I knew I wanted to be involved in public policy, or I had these vague notions of organizing, the idea of continuing to write and tell stories as part of that was valuable to me. And so I would come home from work, and I would write in my journal or write a story or two.
The great thing was that it was useful in my organizing work. Because when I got there, the guy who had hired me said that the thing that brings people together to have the courage to take action on behalf of their lives is not just that they care about the same issue, it’s that they have shared stories. And he told me that if you learn how to listen to people’s stories and can find what’s sacred in other people’s stories, then you’ll be able to forge a relationship that lasts.
But my interest in public service and politics then merged with the idea of storytelling.
What were your short stories like?
It’s interesting, when I read them, a lot of them had to do with older people.
I think part of the reason was because I was working in communities with people who were significantly older than me. We were going into churches, and probably the average age of these folks was 55, 60. A lot of them had scratched and clawed their way into the middle class, but just barely. They were seeing the communities in which they had invested their hopes and dreams and raised their kids starting to decay — steel mills had closed, and there had been a lot of racial turnover in these communities. And so there was also this sense of loss and disappointment.
And so a bunch of the short stories I wrote had to do with that sense, that atmosphere. One story is about an old black pastor who seems to be about to lose his church, his lease is running out and he’s got this loyal woman deacon who is trying to buck him up. Another is about an elderly couple — a white couple in L.A., — and he’s like in advertising, wrote jingles. And he’s just retired and has gotten cranky. And his wife is trying to convince him that his life is not over.
So when I think back on what’s interesting to me, there is not a lot of Jack Kerouac, open-road, young kid on the make discovering stuff. It’s more melancholy and reflective.
Was writing partly a way to figure out your identity?
Yes, I think so. For me, particularly at that time, writing was the way I sorted through a lot of crosscurrents in my life — race, class, family. And I genuinely believe that it was part of the way in which I was able to integrate all these pieces of myself into something relatively whole.
People now remark on this notion of me being very cool, or composed. And what is true is that I generally have a pretty good sense of place and who I am, and what’s important to me. And I trace a lot of that back to that process of writing.
Has that continued to be so in the presidency?
Not as much as I would have liked. I just didn’t have time.
But you keep some form of a journal?
I’ve kept some, but not with the sort of discipline that I would have hoped for. The main writing that I’ve done during the presidency has been my speeches, the ones at least that were important to me.
How has the speechwriting and being at the center of history and dealing with crises affected you as a writer?
I’m not sure yet. I’ll have to see when I start writing the next book. Some of the craft of writing a good speech is identical to any other good writing: Is that word necessary? Is it the right word? Is there a rhythm to it that feels good? How does it sound aloud? I actually think that one of the useful things about speechwriting is reminding yourself that the original words are spoken, and that there is a sound, a feel to words that, even if you’re reading silently, transmits itself.
So in that sense, I think there will be some consistency.
But this is part of why it was important to pick up the occasional novel during the presidency, because most of my reading every day was briefing books and memos and proposals. And so working that very analytical side of the brain all the time sometimes meant you lost track of not just the poetry of fiction, but also the depth of fiction.
Fiction was useful as a reminder of the truths under the surface of what we argue about every day and was a way of seeing and hearing the voices, the multitudes of this country.
Are there examples of specific novels or writers?
Well, the last novel I read was Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad.” And the reminder of the ways in which the pain of slavery transmits itself across generations, not just in overt ways, but how it changes minds and hearts. It’s what you said in your farewell address about Atticus Finch, where you said people are so isolated in their little bubbles. Fiction can leap —
It bridges them. I struck up a friendship with [the novelist] Marilynne Robinson, who has become a good friend. And we’ve become sort of pen pals. I started reading her in Iowa, where “Gilead” and some of her best novels are set. And I loved her writing in part because I saw those people every day. And the interior life she was describing that connected them — the people I was shaking hands with and making speeches to — it connected them with my grandparents, who were from Kansas and ended up journeying all the way to Hawaii, but whose foundation had been set in a very similar setting.
And so I think that I found myself better able to imagine what’s going on in the lives of people throughout my presidency because of not just a specific novel but the act of reading fiction. It exercises those muscles, and I think that has been helpful.
And then there’s been the occasion where I just want to get out of my own head. [Laughter] Sometimes you read fiction just because you want to be someplace else.
What are some of those books?
It’s interesting, the stuff I read just to escape ends up being a mix of things — some science fiction. For a while, there was a three-volume science-fiction novel, the “Three-Body Problem” series —
Oh, Liu Cixin, who won the Hugo Award.
— which was just wildly imaginative, really interesting. It wasn’t so much sort of character studies as it was just this sweeping —
It’s really about the fate of the universe.
Exactly. The scope of it was immense. So that was fun to read, partly because my day-to-day problems with Congress seem fairly petty — not something to worry about. Aliens are about to invade. [Laughter]
There were books that would blend, I think, really good writing with thriller genres. I mean, I thought “Gone Girl” was a well-constructed, well-written book.
I loved that structure. Yeah, and it was really well executed. And a similar structure, that I thought was a really powerful novel: “Fates and Furies,” by Lauren Groff. I like those structures where you actually see different points of view.
Which I have to do for this job, too. [Laughter]
Have there been certain books that have been touchstones for you in these eight years?
I would say Shakespeare continues to be a touchstone. Like most teenagers in high school, when we were assigned, I don’t know, “The Tempest” or something, I thought, ‘My God, this is boring.’ And I took this wonderful Shakespeare class in college where I just started to read the tragedies and dig into them. And that, I think, is foundational for me in understanding how certain patterns repeat themselves and play themselves out between human beings.
Is that sort of comforting?
It gives me a sense of perspective. I think Toni Morrison’s writings — particularly “Song of Solomon” is a book I think of when I imagine people going through hardship. That it’s not just pain, but there’s joy and glory and mystery.
I think that there are writers who I don’t necessarily agree with in terms of their politics, but whose writings are sort of a baseline for how to think about certain things — V. S. Naipaul, for example. His “A Bend in the River,” which starts with the line, “The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.” And I always think about that line, and I think about his novels when I’m thinking about the hardness of the world sometimes, particularly in foreign policy, and I resist and fight against sometimes that very cynical, more realistic view of the world. And yet, there are times where it feels as if that may be true.
So in that sense, I’m using writing like that as a foil or something to debate against.
I’ve read that Lincoln loved Shakespeare his whole life, but when he was dealing with the Civil War, reading the history plays helped give him solace and perspective.
Lincoln’s own writings do that. He is a very fine writer.
I’d put the Second Inaugural up against any piece of American writing — as good as anything. One of the great treats of being president is, in the Lincoln Bedroom, there’s a copy of the Gettysburg Address handwritten by him, one of five copies he did for charity. And there have been times in the evening when I’d just walk over, because it’s right next to my office, my home office, and I just read it.
And perspective is exactly what is wanted. At a time when events move so quickly and so much information is transmitted, the ability to slow down and get perspective, along with the ability to get in somebody else’s shoes — those two things have been invaluable to me. Whether they’ve made me a better president, I can’t say. But what I can say is that they have allowed me to sort of maintain my balance during the course of eight years, because this is a place that comes at you hard and fast and doesn’t let up.
Is there some poem or any writing or author that you would turn to, say, after the mass killings in Newtown, Conn., or during the financial crisis?
I think that during those periods, Lincoln’s writings, King’s writings, Gandhi’s writings, Mandela’s writings — I found those particularly helpful, because what you wanted was a sense of solidarity. During very difficult moments, this job can be very isolating. So sometimes you have to hop across history to find folks who have been similarly feeling isolated. Churchill’s a good writer. And I loved reading Teddy Roosevelt’s writing. He’s this big, outsize character.
Have you read a lot of presidential biographies?
The biographies have been useful, because I do think that there’s a tendency, understandable, to think that whatever’s going on right now is uniquely disastrous or amazing or difficult. And it just serves you well to think about Roosevelt trying to navigate World War II or Lincoln trying to figure out whether he’s going to fire [George B.] McClellan when Rebel troops are 20, 30, 40 miles away.
I watched some of the civil-rights-movement documentary mini-series “Eyes on the Prize” after the election. It was useful. You do see how far we’ve come, and in the space of my lifetime. And that’s why seeing my daughters now picking up books that I read 30 years ago or 40 years ago is gratifying, because I want them to have perspective — not for purposes of complacency, but rather to give them confidence that people with a sense of determination and courage and pluck can reshape things. It’s empowering for them.
What books would you recommend at this moment in time, that captures this sense of turmoil?
I should probably ask you or some people who have had time to catch up on reading. I’ll confess that since the election, I’ve been busier than I expected. So one of the things I’m really looking forward to is to dig into a whole bunch of literature.
But one of the things I’m confident about is that, out of this moment, there are a whole bunch of writers, a lot of them young, who are probably writing the book I need to read. [Laughter] They’re ahead of me right now. And so in my post-presidency, in addition to training the next generation of leaders to work on issues like climate change or gun violence or criminal justice reform, my hope is to link them up with their peers who see fiction or nonfiction as an important part of that process.
When so much of our politics is trying to manage this clash of cultures brought about by globalization and technology and migration, the role of stories to unify — as opposed to divide, to engage rather than to marginalize — is more important than ever.
There’s something particular about quieting yourself and having a sustained stretch of time that is different from music or television or even the greatest movies.
And part of what we’re all having to deal with right now is just a lot of information overload and a lack of time to process things. So we make quick judgments and assign stereotypes to things, block certain things out, because our brain is just trying to get through the day.
We’re bombarded with information. Technology is moving so rapidly.
Look, I don’t worry about the survival of the novel. We’re a storytelling species.
I think that what one of the jobs of political leaders going forward is, is to tell a better story about what binds us together as a people. And America is unique in having to stitch together all these disparate elements — we’re not one race, we’re not one tribe, folks didn’t all arrive here at the same time. What holds us together is an idea, and it’s a story about who we are and what’s important to us. And I want to make sure that we continue that.
I know you like Junot Díaz’s and Jhumpa Lahiri’s books, and they speak to immigration or the American Dream.
I think Lahiri’s books, I think Díaz’s books, do speak to a very particular contemporary immigration experience. But also this combination of — that I think is universal — longing for this better place, but also feeling displaced and looking backwards at the same time. I think in that sense, their novels are directly connected to a lot of American literature.
Some of the great books by Jewish authors like Philip Roth or Saul Bellow, they are steeped with this sense of being an outsider, longing to get in, not sure what you’re giving up — what you’re willing to give up and what you’re not willing to give up. So that particular aspect of American fiction I think is still of great relevance today.

Urdu Music - Atif Aslam - Pehli Dafa

Video - Hats Off!!! - #AtifAslam - Pakistani singer Atif Aslam stops show to rescue harassed girl

A Pakistani singer has been praised after stopping his concert mid-song to rescue a girl from the audience who was allegedly being harassed. A video of Atif Aslam interrupting his live performance in Karachi on Saturday has been shared thousands of times. The popular singer told the alleged harassers: "Have you ever seen a girl? She could be your mother or a sister." Pakistani media said the venue was overcrowded and that several girls reported being harassed. Aslam, who is also a film actor, called security after seeing the alleged attack. A video posted on Twitter shows the guards pulling the girl by the arms from the crowd and taking her to the stage.


The families of Salman Haider filed an application with the National Commission on Human Rights (NCHR), asking it to take notice of a campaign launched to harass the families of the abducted men.

NCHR Chairman retired Justice Ali Nawaz Chohan said he had already taken suo motu notice of the matter and directed the Ministry of Interior to inquire about the missing persons and inform the commission.
“The families should also tell us who we should write to for clarification,” he suggested.
On Monday, Mr Chohan was also present at a meeting of the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights. However, the issue of the five missing activists could not be taken up due to the absence of the Islamabad inspector general.
In the application to NCHR, Salman’s brother Zeeshan Haider has stated that though an FIR concerning his brother’s disappearance has been lodged at the Loi Bher police station, “a concerted campaign to malign Salman Haider... has been initiated by certain quarters.”
Referring to allegations that Mr Haider operated a Facebook page that carried objectionable material and comments, the application said: “This accusation is completely false, baseless and fabricated simply to put pressure on the victim’s family, who are tying their utmost to learn of their loved one’s well-being.”
“We pray that NCHR, in its remit as the country’s human rights watchdog, should direct law enforcement agencies to take action against those levelling unsubstantiated and false allegations against Salman Haider and his family, which are tantamount to hate speech and incitement to violence against the victim,” the application concluded.


اداریہ: عمارتوں ،سڑکوں کے نام اقلیتی مہان شخصیات سے منسوب کرنے سے تکفیری دہشت گردی کے خلاف فتح حاصل نہیں ہوگی

جماعت احمدیہ پاکستان کے مرکزی دفتر واقع ربوہ (چناب نگر) ضلع چینوٹ میں انسداد دہشت گردی پولیس ڈیپارٹمنٹ نے انٹیلی جنس ایجنسیوں اور ایلیٹ فورس کے اہلکاروں کے ساتھ چھاپہ مارا-دفتر میں موجود لٹریچر، لیپ ٹاپ،کیمرے اور دیگر دفتری دستاویزات قبضے میں لے لیں-جبکہ فصیل آباد میں سی ٹی ڈی پولیس نے دو پرنٹنگ پریس سیل کرڈالے،ان کے مالکان کو ممنوعہ لٹریچر چھاپنے اور غداری جیسے سنگین الزام میں گرفتار کرلیا-جبکہ جماعت احمدیہ پاکستان کا موقف ہے کہ فیصل آباد میں جس لٹریچر کی بنیاد پہ چھاپہ مارا گیا اس حوالے سے ہائیکورٹ میں ایک سٹے آڈر پہلے سے موجود تھا جس کی پنجاب حکومت نے پاسداری نہ کی۔
جب یہ سب کچھ ہوا تو پاکستان میں سعودی عرب کے چمچے وزیراعظم میاں محمد نواز شریف کی جانب سے ملک کے ایک نامور ماہر طبعیات اور نوبل انعام یافتہ ڈاکٹر عبدالسلام کے نام پہ قائد اعظم یونیورسٹی کے ایک شعبے کا نام رکھے جانے کے اقدام کو ہمارا مین سٹریم میڈیا بہت کوریج دے رہا تھا اور جماعت اسلامی زدہ اردو میڈیا اور نام نہاد لبرل انگلش میڈیا کے اندر نواز شریف کے درباری اسے احمدیوں کے حقوق کی بازیابی کا اگلہ قدم قرار دے رہے تھے۔نواز حکومت کے لبرل اور روشن خیال ہونے کا یہ پاٹ پڑھنے والے ٹی وی ٹاک شوز میں یہ دکھانے سے قاصر تھے کہ اسی دوران کوئٹہ شہر میں علمدار روڈ پہ ایک ویلڈنگ شاپ کے شیعہ ہزارہ مالک علی خان کو تکفیری دیوبندی دہشت گرد گروپ اہلسنت والجماعت/سپاہ صحابہ پاکستان/لشکر جھنگوی کے قاتلوں نے فائرنگ کرکے قتل کردیا۔
مستونگ کے علاقے کردگاپ میں چار فٹبالر بلوچ نوجوان جبری گمشدہ بنالئے گئے۔یہ سب بلوجستان میں مسلم لیگ نواز کی حکومت ہوتے ہوئے ہوا ہے۔ایسے میں یہ دعوے کہ اس ملک میں مذہبی و نسلی اقلیتوں کے حقوق کی بازیابی کا عمل مسلم لیگ نواز اور سعودی کٹھ پتلی نواز شریف نے شروع کررکھا ہے ایک مذاق کے سوا کچھ بھی نہیں ہے۔
اور افسوس یہ ہے کہ قریب قریب ہر کوئی اس المیہ سے بے خبر ہے کہ اس یونیورسٹی کا نام پہلے ہی ملک کے بانی کے نام پہ ہے جو شیعہ تھے۔اور وہ کئی سڑکیں، ائر پورٹ ، ہسپتال ، اسکول شیعہ بانی پاکستان کے نام پہ ہیں لیکن اس سے پاکستانی شیعہ کے بارے میں پھیلائی جانے والی نفرت اور دشمنی میں کوئی کمی دیکھنے میں نہیں ملی اور شیعہ آج بھی سلو موشن نسل کشی کا سامنا کررہے ہیں-
آپ پہلے سے موجود عمارتوں کا نام اقلیتی فرقوں سے تعلق رکھنے والی مہان شخصیات کے نام پہ رکھیں یا پہلے سے اہم عمارتوں کے نام جو اقلیتی شخصیتوں کے ہیں رکھیں رہنے دیں اور اقلیتوں کو نشانہ بنایا جاتا رہے جیسے شیعہ اور احمدی ہیں اس سے صورت حال بہتر نہیں ہوگی۔
بدنام زمانہ احمدیوں کے خلاف نفرت پھیلانے والا مدہوش ملّا طاہر اشرفی اب بھی نواز حکومت میں بہت اہمیت رکھتا ہے اور سعودی عرب سے اس کے معاملات ٹھیک رکھنے والے واسطوں میں سے ایک ہے۔ملا طاہر اشرفی اکثر احمدیوں کے خلاف نفرت پھیلاتا اور دیوبندی نوجوانوں کو اکساتا ہے لیکن اس کو ے نقاب کرنے کی بجائے اور اس پہ دباؤ بڑھانے نواز لیگ کے لبرل اس کو پروموٹ کرنے میں لگے رہتے ہیں
حالیہ دنوں ميں ہوئے واقعات نے یہ ثابت کردیا ہے کہ کلاسیکل لبرل ازم کا رام رام ستے ہوگیا اور جو بچا ہے وہ محض نیو لبرل ازم کا ٹوکن ازم یعنی علامتی اظہار ہی ہے۔اور اس میں نرگسیت پسندی اور نفسیاتی خود پسندانہ بیماری صاف جھلکتی ہے۔
بلاگ تعمیر پاکستان احمدیہ جماعت کے مرکز پہ پنجاب حکومت کے چھاپوں ، فیصل آباد سے گرفتار کئے جانے والے پرنٹنگ پریس کے احمدی مالکان کی گرفتاری اور ان پہ غداری جیسے مقدمے قائم کئے جانے کی شدید مذمت کرتا ہے۔اور مطالبہ کرتا ہے کہ احمدیوں کی مذہبی آزادی سمت ان کے بنیادی انسانی حقوق کا تحفظ کیا جائے اور تکفیری دیوبندی ازم کے خلاف کریک ڈاؤن کیا جائے

Pakistan - No electricity in 35% Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa schools

A report compiled by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Elementary and Secondary Education Department appeared to belie the provincial government’s claims about achieving ‘record development’ in the education sector over the past three years.
A report collated by the Independent Monitoring Unit set up by the provincial government showed that 35 per cent of schools were still without electricity, 12 per cent had no toilets and 11 per cent were still without boundary walls.
According to the Education Department’s data, nearly 17,000 schools had been made functional across the province over the past three years. The number included 539 primary schools. Another claim: ‘Electricity output to rise by 11,000MW’
The report stated that 386 schools were upgraded to middle school level, 385 middle schools upgraded to high schools while 207 high schools were upgraded to higher secondary schools.
The report showed that 12,000 additional classrooms, 13,600 school boundary walls, 16,000 toilets had been built in schools across the province.
Similarly, the government also provided electricity to 9,800 schools, including primary, middle and high schools in 25 districts.
Over the period under review, the government launched several initiatives, including the establishment of an independent monitoring unit (IMU), supported poor students under voucher scheme, introduced automatic management action system and trained around 83,000 teachers.
But according to a report issued by the provincial government’s own IMU in December last year, 35 per cent of schools across the province were still without electricity, 11 per cent were without boundary walls, 12 per cent had no toilets and 25 per cent were still without clean drinking water.
The IMU report showed that teachers’ attendance improved after it was determined that 86 per cent of teachers took regular classes while 82 per cent of non-teaching staff was available in schools.
Programme Manager at the Centre for Governance and Public Accountability (CGPA) Malik Massood Khan said that although the incumbent government was more focused on education, it failed to achieve set targets.
According to him, children in rural areas were still deprived of their right to education.
Criticising the government for not formulating a law in conformity with Article 25-A, he urged the provincial government to conduct a need-based survey across the province and fulfill the needs in all districts.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Elementary and Secondary Education Minister Muhammad Atif Khan said that the government was forging ahead with its new policy for schools with a minimum requirement of six classrooms and six teachers in every government school.

Pakistan's ten year old Tayyaba - Labour without love

Andleeb Abbas

At an age where the child is full of energy and mischief, this child has been made mindless by the cruelty of the society and by the insensitivity of each one of us.
Child labour has savaged into child torture. The story of ten year old Tayyaba is shockingly shameful but alas not uncommon. What is uncommon is the media attention followed by Supreme Court suo moto despite the manipulated patch up between the child’s parents and the accused. Children working as housemaids is almost a norm. Children working in Brick kilns is almost a given. Children begging on streets is almost a job. Child labour is almost accepted with the justification of huge family sizes, appalling poverty, growing illiteracy and non-existing employment opportunities. We have accepted all these with a comfortably numb approach as part and parcel of a ground reality most underdeveloped countries go through.
According to The Global Slavery Index 2013, Pakistan comes third, after Mauritania and Haiti, in the prevalence of child labour while the International Labou rOrganisation (ILO) says that the overall number of child labourers has declined from 200 million in 2000 to 168 million in 2014. In a country where we are not bothered to conduct National Census, Statistics on Child Labour are as outdated as 1996 when the last National Child Labour survey was held. Thus we have to rely on international statistics. The ILO estimated in a 2012 survey that 12.5 million children in Pakistan are involved in child labour. Besides, 264,000 Pakistani children are involved in domestic child labour, according to the ILO’s report. There are 8.52 million home-based workers in the country, according to the official National Policy on Home-Based Workers.
Some, glances, looks, expressions, are unforgettable. Sharbat Gul’s sorrowful eyes after the earthquake are still etched in the mind. But Tayyaba’s look is heart wrenching. It is expressionless. It is as if the pain has reached a level where only deadening your feelings can make it bearable. It is as if a zombie is going through the motions. It is as if nothing registers and nothing matters. For a ten year old this state is incredible. At an age where the child is full of energy and mischief, this child has been made mindless by the cruelty of the society and by the insensitivity of each one of us. For after all it was a suo moto notice by the Chief Justice that has made us notice it more rather than treating it as business as usual.
The story of Tayyaba is more profound and telling than just another case of exploitation. It is not the case of an MNA or MPA throwing his arrogance at the helpless, rather one of the most educated and respected professionals in the society throwing off his mask of hypocrisy. This is the case of an Additional District and Session Judge (ADSJ) Raja Khurram Ali Khan and his wife facing the inquiry for his alleged involvement in keeping a juvenile housemaid in a wrongful confinement, burning her hand over a missing broom, beating her with a ladle, detaining her in a storeroom and threatening her with dire consequences. This is a case of police aiding and abetting the disappearance of the child to hide the heinous crime of the Me lord. This the case of the deceitful lawyer lying and forging documents to make the child’s parents sign a forgiveness bond. And this is the case of the greedy grabbers who became family members to take advantage of Tayyaba’s media value.
In most poor households with no education children are a matter of routine. The house maid industry is a sorry tale of dysfunctional families. The norm of these families is to make their women and children work while the men do not work, are on drugs, and either just abuse their wives or produce more children.
There are no specific laws on domestic workers below the age of 18 in Pakistan. To make matters more complicated, the laws addressing adult domestic workers are not specific enough to be effective. Domestic labour is mentioned in two legislations: one is The Provincial Employees Social Security Ordinance, 1965; Section 55-A of the ordinance stipulates that “Every employer of a domestic servant shall be liable to provide at his own cost to the domestic servant medical care to the extent mentioned in section 45”. The other is the Minimum Wages Ordinance, 1961 that includes ‘domestic work’ in its definition of ‘worker’ but the government has not yet notified the minimum wages applicable to domestic workers.
However, the law that allows the criminals to go scot-free is the law of forgiveness. This law is the plea bargain of violence. This law exploits ignorance and indifference. This law makes a mockery of the judicial system. This law makes the rule of law lawless. It is the government’s responsibility according to Article 25A of the constitution to provide basic education to all children. Thus if 2.5 million children are out of school who should be penalized for it. If a ten year old instead of being in playgrounds is being locked up in storerooms, those who do not provide opportunity are equally responsible and should be issued a suo moto too.
The Additional Judge has been made an OSD as a penalty. But is this enough? Being an Officer on Special Duty is not firing him from the job and he still gets paid. What is his punishment for harassing her, for assaulting her, for burning her? The Tayyaba case is a case of judge Vs judge where an Additional judge has brutally, cruelly and heartlessly indulged in violence against a minor. The judge who committed and the judge who allowed forgiveness on written statement without face to face investigation of the parents are complicit in this crime. For true justice to prevail these judges should be brought to trial and meted out a punishment that becomes an example for those who believe that to win a case do not solicit a lawyer, just solicit a judge.

From 'abduction' to blasphemy allegation - What's in store for Pakistan's missing activists?

Shamil Shams
While the Pakistani civil society is campaigning for the recovery of secular activists, a blasphemy complaint has been put forward against the "disappeared" persons. Experts say this increases the risks to their lives.
Pakistan Demo vermisste Blogger (picture-alliance/Zumapress.com)
The families of the missing secular activists await the return of their loved ones. In the past few days, the civil society has held several demonstrations against the "forced disappearance" of the activists, demanding the government to recover at least four bloggers, writers, social media activists and human rights workers.
It is unclear who "abducted" these people. Some rights groups blame the security agencies whereas some accuse the militant groups for the disappearances. The government denies the military's role in it, and there has not been any statement from any Islamist organization in this regard either. Authorities have ordered an investigation into possible kidnappings, but have not yet located the missing persons.
Renowned rights activist and university professor Salman Haider disappeared from the capital Islamabad on January 6, according to his relatives and human rights organizations. At least three other secular activists - Waqas Goraya, Asim Saeed and Ahmed Raza - are also missing. While all these people work in different fields, they all have one thing in common: their consistent and sharp criticism of Pakistan's security establishment and conservative groups.
The blasphemy issue
On Monday, January 16, the missing persons' case took a new turn when a resident of the capital Islamabad filed a complaint with the police accusing the missing activists of committing blasphemy.
Blasphemy is a sensitive topic in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, where around 97 percent of its 180 million inhabitants are Muslim. Rights advocates have long been demanding reform of the controversial blasphemy laws, which were introduced by the Islamic military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s. Activists have said the laws have little to do with blasphemy and are often used to settle petty disputes and personal vendettas.
"I have filed a complaint against these bloggers, requesting the authorities to book them under the blasphemy law," Mohammad Tahir, the complainant, told Sattar Khan, DW's Islamabad correspondent.
Tahir's lawyer Asad Tariq told DW the reason behind registering a blasphemy complaint against the missing activists was to "inform the public and the bloggers' supporters about what kind of anti-Islam material these activists were posting on social media."
For the past few days, Pakistan's conservative sections have been sharing images and quotes from a number of secular Facebook pages that they claim were administered by the missing activists like Haider and Goraya. Although there is no proof that these people were running those pages, the South Asian country's anti-liberal TV commentators are criticizing them for engaging in "anti-national" and "anti-religious" activities.
Pakistan Demonstration für vermisste Angehörige in Queeta (DW/Shadi Khan Saif)
Baloch men and women have repeatedly taken to the streets to protest against apparent kidnappings
A 'new trend'
"There has been a propaganda campaign against these bloggers on certain social media websites. Those who spoke in favor of the missing writers were also criticized. I have informed the Supreme Court about this organized campaign," Jibran Nasir, a social activist, told DW.
Some experts say that even if the missing activists were recovered now, their lives would be in huge danger following the blasphemy accusations.
Asad Butt, the vice chairman of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), says the blasphemy complaint has been filed by those who support the Islamization of the country. "It is their way of threatening the people. That is why we have been demanding that the government amends the blasphemy law," Butt told DW.
The "missing persons" phenomenon is not new in Pakistan. Thousands of people have disappeared over the past few years, but most of them are connected with an ongoing separatist movement in the western Baluchistan province or the Islamist insurgency in the northwestern tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. In both places, the army claims it is operating against "miscreants" and "terrorists" that are working against the state. Rights groups also accuse the paramilitary forces of illegally picking up political activists from the southern city of Karachi.
Local rights groups have the details of at least 8,000 people they say have disappeared over the past 12 years without a trace.
But the disappearance of secular writers and activists is a relatively new "trend" in the majority Muslim South Asian nation. Rights groups have been alarmed by it, saying it is a big threat to free speech in the country.
"Forced disappearances are not a new phenomenon in Pakistan. In the past, it was mostly restricted to the kidnappings of people from Baluchistan and the southern Sindh province, but now we see a nationwide situation," Farzana Bari, a prominent social activist in Islamabad, told DW.
Liberalism versus orthodoxy
Rights groups find the "trend" alarming for freedom of expression in the country.
"The civil society needs more unity now to protect the freedom of speech in the country. In the age of social media, independent thinkers have a platform to voice their concerns against certain actions of the government, and it is their right," Nahyan Mirza, an Islamabad-based development professional, told DW.
"Pakistani society, unfortunately, is being controlled to a large extent by the rightwing. These groups will never tolerate social, cultural and intellectual change that poses a challenge to their power. But I am hopeful the change will come soon," Mirza added.
The activists' disappearance is not only condemned in Pakistan but across the world, especially among the Pakistani diaspora.
Asim Ali Shah, a leftist member of the London-based Faiz Cultural Foundation, doesn't directly accuse the government for the kidnappings, but rather views the issue as a failure of the state to protect the country's intellectuals.
"The government's National Action Plan to eradicate terrorism has been a total failure. We see the extremist literature that promotes hatred, sectarianism and intolerance is in circulation all across the country. Yet the state only cracks down on progressive bloggers, peaceful writers and political activists," Shah told DW.
But there are also people in Pakistan who say the liberal sections only protest when one of their "comrades" disappears, and that they never raise their voices against the military operations in the tribal areas that, according to them, have killed thousands of innocent people. They argue that many people with no links to the Taliban or any other militant group have disappeared in those areas, yet the civil society is silent about them.
"The missing persons belonging to the Islamist camp have never been an issue for the Pakistani liberals. They were happy when former military dictator Pervez Musharraf acted unlawfully against Islamic clerics and activists," Naufil Shahrukh, an analyst at the Islamabad-based Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), told DW.
"The US drone killings in the northwestern tribal region, and the kidnappings and extrajudicial killings of anti-Musharraf people never bothered the secular groups. The case of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, who is imprisoned in the US, is just one example of this hypocrisy," Shahrukh underlined.

Pakistan's violent cyberspace: No place for dissent

By Rabia Mehmood

The online war against the abducted four bloggers and an activist in Pakistan continues.
During the last few days, notifications of people in my phone contact list joining the encrypted mobile chat app, Signal, have kept popping up every few hours. These are journalists, rights activists, minority community members of different faiths, and some are politicians and even a police officer or two. It has also been over a week since the story of the disappearance of first of the four bloggers surfaced on Pakistani social media platforms and then the press and stirred fear among many.
Between January 4 and 7, four bloggers and a Karachi-based activist have gone missing from Islamabad and Punjab. Hence, 2017 started on a claustrophobic note in Pakistan, where unknown hands have gone for the throat of free expression.
The battlefront of this fight for reclaiming shrinking space for the freedom to speak up is on social media. While the recent online aggression of the religious nationalists against the kidnapped bloggers is unprecedented in scale, this is not the first time the hate-filled internet jihadis are unleashed against progressives, seculars and the left.
Online attacks on dissidents Dissent or critique of state policy is not only not tolerated but snubbed in a way that an example is set for others. It has been happening to outspoken voices against religious conservatism, state's appeasement of clergy or the military establishment for years.
Since the increase of internet consumption in the last 10 years, the space allowed to the religious supremacists in the offline world has been handed to them in cyberspace, too. A pattern exists of hate-filled online activity against activists and journalists whose lives either ended or changed after violent attacks. In the missing bloggers' case, the online harassment is the continuation of the oppression of their forced disappearances.
Since the disappearances, Twitter accounts and Facebook pages with satirical commentary on religion and political issues, allegedly affiliated with the missing bloggers, were deactivated. The most controversial of the deactivated pages was taken over by the self-proclaimed "Elite cyber force of Pakistan", which claimed it had removed all "blasphemous" material from it.
A pro-Pakistani military page with over seven million followers called "Pakistan Defence" framed the critical writing of the disappeared bloggers as blasphemy by an "atheist secular group". This is not the first time this page has incited violence against people supposedly harming national security.
Pakistan Cyber Force, a Facebook page with over 400,000 likes, in addition to posting against the bloggers, has accused them of taking funds from the Indian intelligence agency. It is an established propaganda move to blame dissent on Indian funding.
A stream of tweets, Facebook posts and YouTube videos are asking for blasphemy cases to be filed against the missing bloggers. Queries of the key hashtags and terms used by the pro-state and conservative religious users show thousands of tweets calling for physical attacks on the disappeared. Twitter accounts that are leading the hashtag wars have one thing in common: They are critical of different political parties, but love the Pakistani military and religious conservatism. Facebook pages continuously posting against the missing bloggers and their supporters have a different set of hashtags in Urdu which equate being secular with atheism.
On Twitter, there is a surge in tweets in Urdu with terms like Gustakh-e-Rasool, (person who commits blasphemy towards the Prophet), liberal (referred to anyone who is a moderate) and secular. Tweets with hashtags created against the bloggers are also over a thousand in number.
As of now, three Barelvi and Deobandi religious groups with sectarian agendas have tweeted and put up Facebook posts against the missing bloggers, calling for their blasphemy trials and executions.
Smearing dissent
The demonisation of secular voices goes beyond attacks on the bloggers. For example, accounts and pages that are tweeting against bloggers in the name of religion also posted against leading journalist Cyril Almeida when he was put on the Exit Control List for reporting a story critical of the military in 2016 and broadcast journalist Hamid Mir in 2014, when he survived an assassination attempt and accused Pakistan's primary intelligence agency of responsibility.
Attacks have been levied by ultra-conservative voices on traditional media, too. One-anti secular TV talk show host, in particular, waged his war against secular bloggers and online journalists for months. He has drawn comparisons between Pakistani and Bangladeshi bloggers, has labelled a very small group of secular online writers, including the missing activists, and other progressives blasphemous and implied their views are a threat to national interest.
It is assumed by some in the ultra-conservative part of society that there is an atheist, secular social media movement against Islam and Pakistan, just because tough questions are asked.
The abduction of the bloggers has spread an overwhelming sense of fear and paranoia among digital media users from different professions. And the cluelessness of the government's response to the disappearance of the bloggers does not help the deterioration of free speech.

Pakistan's Missing Human Rights Activists

Salman Haider — a Pakistani poet, human rights activist, and academic — wrote an Urdu poem in July last year highlighting the disappearances of activists and his friends in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. Ironically, he also predicted in his poem that he could soon face a similar fate. A translated excerpt from his poem reads:
Now friends of my friends are going missing,
Then it will be my friends, and then, 
It will be my file [of me missing] that my father will take to the courts.
Unfortunately for Haider, his prediction came true when he was recently abducted in the outskirts of the country’s capital Islamabad. Soon after his abduction, which occurred around 10 p.m. on January 7, friends, family, and social media users started the hashtag #recoversalmanhaider on Twitter and Facebook. The hashtag soon gained attention, with the issue selectively taken up by the national media.
Pakistan’s implicit censorship code restrains TV news channels from directly blaming the security forces for such incidents, and thus Haider’s disappearance couldn’t get the coverage it deserved. Print and social media outlets, on the other hand, are still doing their best to keep the issue alive and maintain pressure on the security agencies for Haider’s recovery. Also, large groups of people have organized protests in various cities demanding Haider’s safe return.
Haider was known for raising an active voice against human rights violations and abductions in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. He was also serving on the board of editors for Tanqeed, a bilingual online Pakistani magazine. Tanqeed is one of the few alternate media sources in the country that highlights state and policy failures related to security and citizen’s rights. The magazine has also regularly criticized military operations and the situation in Balochistan and Pakistan’s tribal areas in the north.
Haider wasn’t the only one to have disappeared this month in Pakistan. Four other activists, namely Ahmed Raza Naseer, Samar Abbas, Asim Saeed, and Ahmed Waqas Goraya, were either abducted or went missing in the past week. All were also critical of the state’s policies and advocated for civil rights. Both Saeed and Goraya were known for managing Mochi, a famous anti-military Facebook page. These abductions (and disappearances) have startled a number of social media users and pages critical of the military, with many having deactivated their accounts.
This is not the first time left-leaning activists have either been targeted or abducted. Renowned journalist, author, and liberal activist Raza Rumi was attacked by a militant organization in March 2014 for being critical of the state’s policy of nurturing and protecting militants. Even though his driver died in the attack, Rumi managed to survive, and afterwards immigrated to the United States, fearing for his life. Rumi believes that the state, having already controlled the television news medium, is now going after the digital spaces and trying its best to suppress any dissent.
The attack on Rumi was followed by the death of Sabeen Mahmud, a 40-year-old female Pakistani activist, who was attacked in April 2014. On the day of her death, Mahmud was hosting a discussion on Balochistan’s missing persons and had invited Mama Qadeer, a famous Baloch activist, to take part in the panel. Qadeer, 70, was initially invited by the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) to speak at an event, titled ‘Un-silencing Balochistan’, on the alleged abduction and killing of the Baloch people. The event was ultimately cancelled by LUMS after stern pressure from the government. Soon after her own event, Mahmud, on her way home in her car, was surrounded by unknown armed assailants on motorbikes, who shot her three times, in the chest and neck.
Incidents involving attacks on liberal activists in Pakistan were rare in the 20th century, but are slowly becoming a norm in the 21st. Where Pakistan was supposed to move ahead, and consolidate its slow transition toward democracy and democratic norms, it’s instead going backwards by suffocating the space for limited voices of reason in the country.
Now, with a targeted campaign against outspoken activists, questions are being raised as to whether the state, along with the security agencies, is targeting the right people in its campaign against militancy. If people advocating for human rights and the recovery of missing persons are going missing themselves, it would seem that something is seriously wrong with the state and its policies.
Farooq Yousaf is a PhD Politics Candidate from Peshawar, Pakistan, currently pursuing studies in Australia. His research focuses on the role of indigenous conflict resolution methods in countering Insurgency in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Prior to his PhD studies, Yousaf completed his Masters in Public Policy, with concentration in Conflict Studies, from the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy, University of Erfurt, Germany.

Pakistan's activists - Conditional Freedom

There is a growing sense of insecurity and alarm among the civil society as the enforced disappearance of activists enters another week.
This climate of uncertainty is starting to affect the public now, which has come out to protest, it is calling civil societies into action, galvanising political parties and drawing attention from all international observers and players.
Soon this uncertainty will harden into resolve and resentment, and the state will have itself to blame.
The powers-that-be seem to be trying too hard to maintain their positive image, or perhaps they are actively try to inculcate a severe and frightening one from time to time. Threats to free speech, and a lack of answers never result in anything positive for state institution, except fear and loathing from people and eventual revolt.
In the last eight years, it has taken the establishment painstaking effort and a series of well thought out decisions to win back the public’s unwavering support.
It is easy to see how it did that.
It targeted the religious militancy head on and without giving any quarter, it refrained from inserting itself in civilian matters, even where the opportunity presented itself, and allowed the media to act freely without censor. The praise from home and abroad was unequivocal, and General Raheel Sharif became one of the most popular men in the country as a result.
But popularity isn’t unconditional, and the abduction of these activists has bought back the spectres of a totalitarian past. Overnight the mood has changed, and a country that was beginning to get used to a hard-won democratic space where free speech and open discussion could guide issues is now pegged back – not by religious fanatics or dictatorships, but by state institutions themselves – whether through their complicity or silence.
While it is true that officially no one knows who abducted these men, the silence of the government has forced the public to connect the dots. Common perception is that these activists criticised the military and raised a voice against the enforced disappearances in Balochistan. Online forums that usually present the military’s viewpoint have suddenly sprung into action against these men.
The fact is that whatever these men were writing, or protesting, it was peaceful and none of them had yet committed a crime. We can disagree with their perspectives but we cannot deny their right to hold them. Anyone who argues that these men deserve to disappear for criticising the army or the state is giving currency to a very cruel idea that people should be kidnapped or killed if they hold “unacceptable” views.
We also cannot deny that the state has failed these men, their families, and anyone who may ever voice dissent in Pakistan. A target has been painted on all of our foreheads, lest we ever offend the powerful.