Friday, January 27, 2017
The United Nations aid chief warned that Yemen is sliding deeper into humanitarian crisis and could face famine this year.
The poor Arab country has been engulfed in war since a Saudi-led coalition launched a bombing campaign in March 2015 to push back Houthis who had seized the capital Sana’a and other cities.
“The conflict in Yemen is now the primary driver of the largest food security emergency in the world,” Stephen O’Brien, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, told the UN Security Council on Thursday.
“If there is no immediate action, famine is now a possible scenario for 2017.”
About 14 million people – nearly 80% of the entire Yemeni population – are in need of food aid, half of whom are severely food insecure, O’Brien said.
At least 2 million people need emergency food assistance to survive, he added.
The situation is particularly dire for children with some 2.2 million infants now suffering from acute malnourishment – an increase of 53% from late 2015.
“Overall, the plight of children remains grim: a child under the age of 10 dying every 10 minutes of preventable causes,” O’Brien said.
The Saudi-led coalition’s shutdown of the Sana'a airport has had a heavy toll on civilians because medicine cannot be flown in and Yemenis cannot receive treatment abroad.
O’Brien warned that Yemen could run out of wheat within months because foreign banks no longer accept financial transactions with many of the country’s commercial banks.
The country is almost entirely dependent on imports, most of which transit through the Hudaydah port, which was bombed by the coalition in 2015.
O’Brien said the Saudi-led coalition had ordered a vessel carrying four mobile cranes for the port to leave Yemeni waters and it was now awaiting approval from Riyadh to deliver the new equipment.
The cranes will boost the port’s capacity to handle humanitarian cargo.
The United Nations is calling for a ceasefire in Yemen to allow urgently needed deliveries of humanitarian aid and to resume political talks on ending the war.
As per a study by Never Forget Pakistan, at least 4,707 Pakistanis have been killed in sectarian violence between January 2001 and August 2016. The killing of Shias has been systematic in terms of targeting places of worship, religious gatherings and community leaders such as doctors, lawyers and clerics. A case for Shia genocide in Pakistan is indeed undeniable.
Raids are taking place all across Karachi in what the Sindh Government claims is to arrest those responsible for sectarian violence. This of course is said to be part of the implementation of the National Action Plan.
But what if those militants, to combat whom NAP was designed, end up sitting in our Parliament attending official security briefings and reviewing performance of our government and security agencies under NAP. We may not have to wait much longer for this to become a haunting reality.
On 1st December by-elections are taking place in PP-78 Jhang IV. Jhang is no ordinary district to contest elections in. It is home to Pakistan’s biggest and most organized militant sectarian outfit, Sippah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP). However, the biggest threat is not that one of these outfits will carry on a terror attack on election day but it is the possibility that the head of the SSP, Ahmed Ludhianvi, may get elected to the Punjab Legislative Assembly.
Ludhianvi is not contesting alone. He has a cover or back up candidate in Masroor Nawaz, son of the founder of SSP, Haq Nawaz Jhangvi.
It is not that Pakistan doesn’t have laws to keep a check on the activities of people like Ludhianvi and Masroor. Both of these men have been proscribed which means their activities are banned under Section 11EE(1) of the Anti Terrorism Act 1997 and feature on its fourth schedule through Home Department Notification No. SO(IS-I)4-10-2011.
Their organization has also been banned repeatedly as it continued to resurface under different names. The SSP was proscribed on 29th January 2002 via S.R.O 71(1)/2002. It reappeared as Millat-e-Islamia Pakistan (MIP) and was again banned on 15th November 2013 via S.R.O 1037(1)/2003. Its current and most known manifestation is in the form of Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamat (ASWJ) which was also banned via S.R.O. 257(1)/2012 on 15th February 2012.
Proscribed persons, such as Ludhianvi, require prior written approval from the local police station of their designated area to move outside that area or go to any public place or enter any educational institutions where people under the age of 21 years are studying or training. As active members of a banned outfit the government is required to seize their passports and prevent them from travelling abroad. The inference drawn here is that the government deems people like Ludhianvi a threat to peace and public order and clearly a bad influence on young minds.
Since a banned outfit cannot register with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Ludhianvi filed his nomination papers as an independent candidate. Rejection of Ludhianvi’s nomination papers due to him being a proscribed person would appear a natural consequence but only the contrary is true.
There are no clear and specific instructions from the Ministry of Interior or the ECP which would declare nomination of a proscribed person void by default. Hence it comes down to either the Returning Officer being proactive or for a voter of the constituency or a contesting candidate to file objections to such a nomination. In a place like Jhang and against a man like Ludhianvi, both filing an objection and rejecting the nomination means putting your life in grave danger. So the state has put its entire machinery to rest and is expecting a R.O. with inadequate protection and ordinary citizens to prevent militants from contesting elections and reducing the legal system to a joke.
Hence, it was no surprise that it took a candidate like Sheikh Sheraz Akram to come forward and file objections in front of the Returning Officer (R.O.), Tanveer-ul-Hasan. Sheraz is the son of the area’s MNA, PML-N member Sheikh Mohammad Akram, who carries considerable political clout in Jhang and is an old rival of ASWJ. Sheraz’s application not only notified the R.O. that Ludhianvi is a proscribed person and head of a banned outfit but also lists up to 11 FIRs in which Ludhianvi has been nominated which included charges ranging from murder to terrorism. It has been reported that in three of those cases, Ludhianvi has been declared a proclaimed offender by Court.
However, the R.O. disappointingly, but not surprisingly, dismissed Sheraz’s application claiming it to have “no merit” and in violation of Section 14(4) of the Representation of Peoples Act 1976 did not even give reasons for same. The actions of the R.O. though deplorable are understandable. In 2013, Ludhianvi contested NA-89 against Sheraz’s father. According, to Sheraz’s brother Sheikh Waqas who is a fomer MNA himself, the R.O. serving at that time wrote a letter to the Lahore High Court’s Registrar demanding more security as he claimed that he was getting threatening calls from Afghanistan and Waziristan asking him to announce the election results in favour of Ludhianvi.
After having his application dismissed by the R.O., Sheraz was scheduled to argue his appeal in the Lahore High Court before Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan and Justice Shahid Waheed. However, due to unknown reasons Justice Shahid Waheed excused himself from the tribunal creating a more alarming and uncertain situation. As per the election schedule the tribunal had to decide appeals latest by 8th November (today) but the tribunal needs to be constituted of two judges for it to proceed.
Here it is important to highlight that radicals like Ludhianvi may need to terrorize election officials but they don’t necessarily need to scare voters to vote. Ludhianvi is not a delusional fool nor is he running just to make a statement. Ludhianvi got more than 45,000 votes when he contested NA-89 in 2013. For those who may think the NAP would have dented Ludhianvi’s hopes can view his speech on 28th October at ASWJ’s rally in Islamabad which was live streamed on Facebook by the outfit. Section 144 was in place that day, the authorities were cracking down on workers of legitimate political parties like the PTI and AML but ASWJ’s rally went ahead uninterrupted attended by thousands and all facilitated by the local police in a shameless and gross violation of the ATA.
Last year ASWJ in order to get its demands met laid siege on the Supreme Court in Islamabad and the Sindh Chief Minister’s House in Karachi but not a single one of their members were arrested for doing so. How did ASWJ gather this much clout?
ASWJ/SSP has had political aims since its inception in 1985. Haq Nawaz contested NA-89 Jhang in 1988. He lost the elections but since then several members of the ASWJ/SSP have been elected to the National and Provincial assembly with two of them, Riaz Hashmat and Sheikh Hakim Ali, even becoming provincial ministers in Punjab in the mid 90s under the Government of Muslim League – Junejo.
SSP claims to follow the Sunni Deoband school of thought and is engaged in targeting of Shia Muslims, indulging in hate speech, fanning sectarianism and has also been involved in killing of Shias. The reason SSP has contested elections is not just to give their workers political cover but because it has a publicly declared manifesto of amending the Constitution of Pakistan to declare Shias as infidels under same.
The government’s inaction against the activities of SSP gave birth to a Shia militant organization in 1993, the Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan (SMP), formed by Ghulam Raza Naqvi, who till then served as the Jhang President of Tehreek-e-Jafaria Pakistan. The clashes between SSP and SMP resulted in hundreds of deaths.
The most hardened and known terrorists from SSP, whose association with the outfit appeared to hinder its political ambitions, formed a separate but affiliated entity in 1994, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). As LeJ’s former head Malik Ishaq once commented “LeJ was a party of proclaimed offenders.” LeJ named after the founder of SSP is by far the most lethal terrorist outfit which has carried out massive attacks on citizens, politicians and military personnel but has primarily targeting Shias.
The SMP for most part was made defunct in 1996 when a heavy contingent of police raided its headquarters in Thokar Niaz Baig, Lahore and Naqvi was sent to jail. According to ARY News, Naqvi who was released in 2014 was killed in March this year on Taftaan border by firing of Irani border forces.
The only reason police was able to penetrate Thokar was because Naqvi had been accused of killing a prominent fellow Shia leader, Murad Abbas Yazdani, resulting in him losing popular support. An earlier Police raid in Thokar in December 1994 was thwarted by the ordinary residents of the area. The residents' resistance spoke of how unprotected the Shias in Thokar felt in the face of government inaction against SSP and LeJ and had seen SMP as some sort of a defence mechanism. That sense of insecurity continues till today and with good reason. It has led to ghettoization of Shias in form of Alamdar Road and Hazara Town in Quetta and House Societies like Rizvia 1, 2 and 3 in Karachi.
In 1997, the then PML-N government, with different priorities from now, attempted to take on the militants. The government enacted the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 under which special courts were set up where a lesser burden of proof lay on the prosecution for speedy trials and easier convictions for terrorists. However, in absence of adequate protection of judges, prosecution and witnesses, a problem we still face, the ATA courts didn’t prove effective. Rather than strengthening the courts, PML-N resorted to street justice killing 36 SSP and LeJ members in encounters. The LeJ responded with two attempts on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s life. It was during this time that SSP and LeJ strengthened their alliance with Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) in Afghanistan seeking refuge at their camps.
In the aftermath of 9/11 pressure grew on General Musharraf to take action against terrorists. In 2002, Musharraf banned SSP and several other organizations claiming “No organization is allowed to form Lashkar, Sipah or Jaish”, but the same appeared to be an exercise on paper to appease our western allies. The dictator allowed these outfits to continue to oil the jihad machinery to meet the military’s disastrous aims of strategic depth.
A ban under ATA on an organization means that its offices are to be sealed, its literature seized, all of its public engagement activities are to be suspended, arms licenses of it workers are to be rescinded and passports of its active members are to be cancelled. Any violation carries a prison sentence.
However, despite banning SSP, Musharraf allowed its then head, Azam Tariq, to contest for the National Assembly in October 2002 and used his help and vote to get Mir Zafarullah Jamali get elected as Prime Minister.
In 2008 all major political forces including the PML-N embraced this dangerous trend of aligning with banned outfits helping these outfits gather genuine street power with members which have far little fear of law and much less concern for life than ordinary political workers.
In an interview given to Gharida Farooqi on Samaa TV, the then General Secretary of ASWJ, Khadim Hussain Dhilon, revealed that Shahbaz Sharif and Javed Hashmi sought their support in 2008 on PML-N’s ticket. Shahbaz Sharif in fact formed an official alliance making the ASWJ Bhakar President, Abdul Hameed Khalid, withdraw in his favour helping Sharif win the by-election in Bhakar unopposed on his way to becoming Punjab’s Chief Minister.
In addition 25 MPA and MNAs of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) including former Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Kamaruz Zaman Kaira, Jamshed Dasti, Nazar Gondal and Manzoor Wassan as well as former Chief Minister KPK Ameer Haider Khan Hoti of the Awami National Party also sought and got the support of ASWJ in order to secure their wins in 2008 according to Dhilon.
By 2013, ASWJ was not only forming alliances, but making its own members contest elections under a new and purpose built political party Muttahida Deeni Mahaza (MDM) which was headed by Sami-ul-Haq of JUI-S. The MDM fielded at least 40 candidates from the ASWJ all of whom featured on the fourth schedule of the ATA. Aurangzeb Farooqi, who is the second in command after Ludhianvi, contested from PS-128 in Karachi getting more than 21,000 votes and losing only by a little over 2,000 votes, a margin which he reduced to a little over 200 votes in the by-election in 2015.
People’s Aman Committee (PAC) and MQM workers clashed in Karachi while ASWJ negotiated its co-existence with both of them. ASWJ’s Karachi President, Taj Mohammad Hanfi, performed Dastaar Bandi of PAC’s head Uzair Baloch whereas an MQM delegation met with Aurangzeb Farooqi at ASWJ’s headquarters in Karachi in March 2013. Hanfi who was arrested on Sunday on suspicion of being involved in sectarian violence has also been cleared by the ECP to run for the National Assembly from NA-258 in Karachi on 24th November this year.
Around that time, Ludhianvi was more vocal about distancing himself from LeJ in his attempt to allow ASWJ to become more mainstream. However, in February 2013, the then Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, claimed that LeJ was divided into two factions with one headed by Malik Ishaq and the other operating under Ludhianvi. ASWJ and LeJ nexus became evident when Ishaq was made Vice President of ASWJ after his release from jail in 2014.
In June 2015, Ishaq along with 13 other militants was killed by the police in an encounter. Ishaq was in police custody at the time. Not much changed since 1997. The ATA courts are still ineffective and PML-N is still opting for street justice.
Ludhianvi, focused on the bigger picture, distanced ASWJ from Ishaq completely and did not even offer a word of condemnation for the killing of his outfit’s former vice president.
It wasn’t long before PTI also joined this trend of questionable alliances with its members being unapologetic about it. In March 2015, PTI’s Barrister Salman Mehmood, held a press conference to announce the party’s alliance with ASWJ for the Mirpur by-election which he later went on to win. In the Haripur by-election in August 2015 for NA-19, PTI’s Dr. Raja Amir Zaman even published an ad titled “izhaar-e-tashakkur” in a local newspaper thanking ASWJ for supporting him. In October 2015, a PTI delegation met with Taj Hanfi at ASWJ’s Central Office in Karachi.
In the local body election in 2015, ASWJ formally launched activities of its new political front, Pakistan Rah-e-Haq Party. PRHP was registered by ASWJ’s former provincial head, Muhammad Ibrahim Qasmi, in February 2012 shortly after ASWJ was banned. PRHP and ASWJ turned out to be the most flexible and astute political force as it successfully aligned with PMLN, PPP, PTI and JI all across Pakistan ending up with substantial influence on the local governments. In Karachi alone, PRHP along with its allies bagged 49 seats.
The most appalling political alliance however took place back in Jhang itself. In pursuit to defeat its old rival family, the Akrams who belong to PML-N, the ASWJ through PRHP formed a public alliance with Asad Hayat brother of Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayat. Not only is Faisal Saleh Hayat a former federal minister but he is also the Sajjad-a-Nasheen of one of the most influential Shia political clans of Jhang, the Shah Jewna. Shah Jewna is one of the main clans to counter whom Haq Nawaz Jhangi had founded SSP in Jhang. The alliance was made possible by father of then PML-N MPA, Rashida Yacub.
ASWJ’s alliance with a Shia political family should make it clear to us that it will leave no stone unturned to become a mainstream political force taking advantage of the short-sighted, hypocritical and self-serving interests of the actual mainstream political forces.
It is not just local, provincial and national issues but ASWJ through outfits like the Difah Pakistan Council (DPC) is aiming to become a stakeholder in Pakistan’s foreign policy as well. For the past several months, the DPC has been holding rallies on Kashmir, CPEC, relations with Iran and the the Saudi Arabia-Yemen conflict. Moreover, Ludhianvi’s nominations paper reveal that he himself has travelled to South Africa in 2013 for “tableegh” and has been to Saudi Arabia five times in the last three years citing pilgrimage as the purpose of visit. However, while in Saudi Arabia he has attended conferences organized by the Muslim World League (MWL). MWL is a Saudi backed organization known to fund the state’s militant version of Islam in seminaries abroad.
In the DPC, ASWJ doesn’t only get patronage from political forces like JUI-S, Sheikh Rasheed’s AML and JI but has enjoyed considerable support by one of the founding members of DPC and former head of the ISI, the late General Hamid Gul.
Today despite repeated protests by civil society organizations and activists, the government allows ASWJ to administer several madrassahs across the country, has numerous chapters in all provinces, regularly stages rallies and holds conferences and publishes a weekly newspaper. They have allies ranging from mainstream political parties to militant outfits like Jamat-ud-Dawa, HuM, the Taliban, Haqqani Network and the Lal Masjid Brigade. They were officially recognized as stakeholders in our internal security as Rangers in Sindh and Police in KP consulted them over the security plan for Muharram. Not many things could be more ironic than that.
Its leader, Ludhianvi, doesn’t hide in the mountains or takes refuge in caves. Instead, he roams freely on the streets of Islamabad with armed personnel, has interviews with the national press and dictates the Interior Minister into reviewing his actions against him such as suspending CNICs of persons on the fourth schedule.
We can present the argument to the growing followers of Ludhianvi and Hanfi that they are militants or radicals but to them they are religious activists and political leaders. They are seen as such because our political forces and military have treated them as such. Very soon both of them may also become Parliamentarians, a haunting reality which we won’t be able to reconcile even with ourselves.
Let us see if any political party will appear to have clarity of thought and equal conviction in taking back political space back from these militants.
People have gathered on the streets of Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province in protest to the suspicious death of a Shia political prisoner.
The demonstration was held on Wednesday in Mohammad Radhi al-Hasawi’s home town of Awamiyah, where protesters also chanted anti-Riyadh slogans and demanded the release of all political prisoners in the country.
Earlier in the day, the European human rights envoy for Saudi affairs, Aadel al-Saeed, announced Hasawi’s death in the Dammam prison, where he had been held for four years without ever being tried in court.
He was arrested around four years ago over charges of participating in activities against the Saudi regime.
According to local doctors, clear signs of torture were evident on Hasawi’s remains.
Pakistan's government has banned a controversial television host for making highly charged allegations of blasphemy and treachery against several social media activists who disappeared this month, as well as against other activists or journalists demanding their recovery.
Social media activists started to go missing in the first week of January. Within a few days, at least five of them — Salman Haider, Waqas Goraya, Aasim Saeed, Ahmed Raza Naseer and Samar Abbas, all famous for promoting liberal views and criticism of Pakistan's powerful military — had disappeared from major cities like Islamabad, the capital, and the country's second city, Lahore.
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority said in a statement it made the decision to ban anchorman Aamir Liaquat Hussain's show after monitoring the program for several weeks and receiving hundreds of complaints against him. A complaint accusing him of hate speech also has been filed with police.
Hussain was not the only TV anchor who denounced the missing activists, but he was one of the most outspoken. He was not reachable for comment, and the management of his channel, Bol News, said it would issue a statement later.
The accusations against the missing liberal bloggers first appeared online soon after their disappearance, and were broadcast by several TV anchors who are considered to be religiously conservative.
Facebook postings draw fire
The bloggers, known as secular activists, have been accused of either supporting, or being associated with, Facebook pages religious conservatives believe have blasphemed Islam.
The allegedly offensive Facebook pages (Bhensa, Roshni and Mochi) have been around for several years, but the bloggers were not linked to them until after their recent disappearances.
The families of the missing and human rights activists fear talk of blasphemy is meant to divert attention from their disappearance, or perhaps to diminish the influence of demonstrations and statements demanding their return.
Zohra Yusuf, chairperson of the Independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said the allegations possibly were meant to " lessen sympathy" for the missing bloggers. Another possible motive, she added, "is that when [the bloggers reappear], there could be a charge against them, so that could be like a pre-emptive move."
Climate of intimidation
Farzana Bari, a human rights activist who has protested in Islamabad on behalf of the missing bloggers, complained about what she thought were efforts to intimidate other activists.
"There is a very systematic campaign against those who are raising this issue — people like Jibran Nasir, who are being threatened on social media and on mainstream media," she said.
Nasir, a Pakistani lawyer and human rights activist, was one of the loudest voices demanding recovery of the missing. Before becoming a target himself, he had railed against what he said were unsubstantiated allegations endangering the missing bloggers and their families.
"You all know that when such allegations are levied against someone, whether there is any proof of blasphemy or not, people become violent. We have a history of entire villages and communities being burnt down [for similar allegations]," he said at a news conference last week.
However, Tariq Asad, chairman of Civil Society of Pakistan, an organization that filed a police complaint of blasphemy against the missing men, told Reuters it was not part of any campaign. "Every Pakistani has awareness of this issue, and many have asked us to take this up. ... Whoever does not love the Prophet, peace be upon him, more than his own family is not a true Muslim," Asad was quoted as saying.
Government sees no blasphemy
Pakistan's interior minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, said last week that there was no truth to the allegations of blasphemy against the missing bloggers.
A charge of blasphemy is considered extremely dangerous in a country where religious vigilantes have killed more than 60 people, sometimes by mob violence, after similar accusations.
In 2011, a powerful Pakistani governor, Salman Taseer, was gunned down by his own police security guard after he demanded reform of the country's controversial blasphemy laws.
Many Pakistanis hailed Taseer's killer, who was convicted and executed, as a hero, and more than 100,000 attended his funeral.
Member of Parliament and Shadow Minister (Transport), Richard Burden asked the Secretary of State office the following questions on January 18, 2017:
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent representations he has (a) received and (b) made to the government of Pakistan on reports of persecution and mistreatment of the Ahmadi community in Pakistan.
Alok Sharma, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs provided the following reply on January 25, 2017:
I am aware of reports of the persecution of the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan. I condemn the attack on the Ahmadiyya mosque in Chakwal on 12 December. The Government strongly condemns the persecution of all minorities, including the targeting of people based on their beliefs.
We regularly raise our concerns about the protection of minority communities, including religious minorities, with the Government of Pakistan. During my visit to Pakistan earlier this month, I discussed the protection of religious minorities, including the Ahmadiyya, with Kamran Michael, Pakistani Minister for Human Rights, and Barrister Zafarullah Khan, the Prime Minister's Special Assistant for Human Rights. The Foreign Secretary, my Rt Hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson), raised religious tolerance and the importance of safeguarding the rights of all Pakistan's citizens when he visited Pakistan in November 2016. The Government continues to urge Pakistan to honour in practice its human rights obligations, including those related to religious minorities, and to uphold the rule of law.
Questions & Answers in the UK Parliament
Question time in a parliament occurs when members of the parliament ask questions of government ministers (including the prime minister), which they are obliged to answer. (Wikipedia)
In addition to oral questions, MPs and Peers can ask government ministers written questions. These are often used to obtain detailed information about policies and statistics on the activities of government departments. (Paliament.uk)
بریگیڈئیر واثق کے بقول ملتان تعیناتی کے دوران جنرل ضیاء الحق نے افسران اور جوانوں سے یہ کہا کہ وزیرِ اعظم بھٹو ملتان تشریف لا رہے ہیں لہٰذا ان کے استقبال کے لئے ہم سب کو مع فیملی جانا چاہئے۔ یہ بات فوج کے ڈسپلن اور روایات کے خلاف تھی۔ لہٰذا دورانِ میٹنگ نوجوان میجر نے اس پر اعتراض کیا کہ جب بھٹو فیملی کے ہمراہ
نہیں آ رہے تو ہم فیملی کے ہمراہ ان کا استقبال کیوں کریں۔
Pakistani Christian Brother is tortured by Muslims and forced to listen to his sister, 17, being gang-raped
A brother has been tortured and forced to listen to his 17-year-old sister being gang-raped after they were kidnapped by a Muslim gang in Pakistan after refusing to convert from Christianity.
The British Pakistani Christian Association say they have been assisting the family in Kasur in the east of the country following their ordeal.
According to the charity, the Muslim gang targeted the family home, which was a mud house in a small village, knowing that they were Christian and threatened them with guns, sticks and metal poles.
A brother has been tortured and forced to listen to his 17-year-old sister being gang-raped after they were kidnapped by a Muslim gang in Pakistan after refusing to convert from Christianity. Pictured are Christians in Pakistan
The gang told them to convert to Islam or die but the family refused and said they were staying resolute to Christianity.
The men then tied up and blindfolded all but two of the family 20-year-old Arif and 17-year-old Jameela and took them to a n unknown building.
There, Arif was tortured and then had to listen as his sister was gang raped in a separate room.
The next morning he managed to escape and return to his family, who had escaped their shackles.
But his sister Jameela was left behind and she remains missing.
According to the charity, local police have refused to investigate the case and the family are deeply traumatised.
Wilson Chowdry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association said: 'We will now begin the arduous task of helping them rebuild their lives in an atmosphere of safety.
'However, the captured daughter Jameela may well never be found and her malicious kidnap is causing great anguish and despair.
'That Muslim despots can kidnap Christian girls with such impunity is a blight on Pakistan's international reputation.'
Christians make up about four per cent of Pakistan's population and tend to keep a low profile in a country where Sunni Muslim militants frequently bomb targets they see as heretical, including Christians, and Sufi and Shi'ite Muslims.
All of Pakistan's minorities feel that the state fails to protect them, and even tolerates violence against them.
In 2014 a British man with a history of mental health illness, sentenced to death for blasphemy earlier this year, was shot by a prison guard in his cell.
Also that year, a Pakistani court upheld the death penalty against a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who is also accused of blasphemy, in a case that drew global headlines after two prominent politicians who tried to help her were assassinated.
A 70-year-old Christian man’s refusal to sell his home in Pakistan prompted Muslim arsonists to burn down the property while everyone inside, including his daughter and four-year-old grandson, were sleeping.
Love and sensitivity have flown out of the window and all we are left with is an in-your-face hookup culture.
While sex still remains a taboo topic in our social set up, sexual harassment is an accepted form of social transaction between males and females. It may often be shrouded in more respectable terms such as flirting; often called ‘line maarna’ by those who favour and/or are desensitised by it. It is no secret that some men consistently ruffle the boundaries set by women on a daily basis to merely up their ‘score’; expecting women to take it nonchalantly.
For centuries, our subcontinent has believed in ridiculous adages like ‘hansi to phansi’ (she’s all yours if she laughs) and ‘dil main haan moo penaa’, which permit stalker-like behaviour to permeate at every corner. Now that Pakistanis have discovered sex and booze in a big way, their leap has been grand and turbulent. We went from an ultra-conservative society (where merely talking to females gave men the jitters) to a place where everyone has been overexposed to things like porn so they simply do not know how to deal with women anymore. Love and sensitivity have flown out of the window and all we are left with is an in-your-face hookup culture; one that is unapologetic of its brashness and does not care much about consent either.
Last week, an Islamabad-based journalist, Zubaria Jan, took to the social media to expose her boss, a certain resident editor of a newspaper, for sexually harassing her. Her blog contained screenshots of the boss, Mr Salman Masood, calling her a pretty pistol and messaging her late into the night in hopes of steering the conversation on a risquè route. While her allegations are yet to be proven in the court of law, it is evident that her ordeals are not new. This frequently happens in Pakistan, but it takes a lot of guts for a desi woman to publicly come out and speak up against being harassed. Most outcomes in such situations are, however, against the woman where she is painted as evil; the case usually gets closed soon. Slut-shaming is rampant and often comes into play in such instances; a woman with a romantic past is deemed as characterless, doubtful and ‘problematic’.
‘Akeli aurat khuli tijori hoti hai’(a lonely woman is a man’s treasure) was the advice meted out to Kareena Kapoor in Jab We Met and nothing can be truer than this. Some men — no matter how educated and polished they may be — take a woman to be their property once she steps out of home for work or any other reason.
While gender-specific roles are repeatedly explained to us at the beginning of our lives, some equally important aspects such as consent, privacy and harassment are constantly overlooked. Any woman in a public setting thus appears to be ‘easy’ and ready to be devoured through the eyes: the stare game is quite strong in the country. Countless women will tell you stories of being groped or touched inappropriately in bazaars of Pakistan. Men bump into us deliberately and within a fraction of a second end up grazing their hands against our private parts, violating all sense of privacy.
While sexual education that pertains to our reproductive organs is non-existent in the country, Urdu language has now been adorned with many phrases, which have been converted and reconstructed to emit a vulgar sense. One hesitates nowadays to use many terms on their own as these are instantly misconstrued to an invitation towards a sexual exchange of some kind.
With rape cases and child molestation incidents on the rise, one must look within and assess where we are headed as a country. Why has it become okay to make females feel insecure at home, at work or in school?
Last week, an anchor and journalist, Tanzeela Mazhar, also went on a Twitter overdrive to expose her bosses at the state television studios for sexually harassing her time and again. Once again, as proof, she had posted a WhatsApp conversation between men of power at PTV who were happily discussing her ‘nangi tangien’ (naked legs) and how it turned on one of the bosses. Locker room talk? Maybe, but one that would make any woman furious and uncomfortable.
In Pakistan, we often stress the need for women’s education — which is a valid demand — however, what we truly require is men’s re-education. A system where they are taught that in addition to their sisters and mothers, other females also deserve respect and security. We need social reforms, discourses and even campaigns where men are taught that women are neither baby-making machines nor fitted with a vagina for their pleasure but are beings with feelings, a soul and the right to reject.
By Nighat Kamal Aziz
The gory pictures of little Tayyaba’s injured face and burnt hand, flashed on the TV screens all over the country, over and over again and shocked a nation which is unfortunately not so easily moved, having already seen many terrible sights. Perhaps it was the tenderness of Tayyaba’s age, the fact that a child so small was a domestic help, perhaps it was the fact that she had been working in the house of a person responsible for the protection of human rights by profession and yet she met this fate, that it caused an uproar countrywide, enough for the Chief Justice to take notice of.
The role of the media here was commendable, bringing to light the silent suffering of a helpless child. Had it been a solitary incident causing such injuries, one might have given the benefit of the doubt to her torturers. However, inquiries revealed that the child had been subjected to repeated beatings to which the healed and fresh injuries all over her body bore testament.
The story as it unfolded on TV, bought to the fore the ugly faces of the many characters involved in this case. It also showed the obnoxious temperament of some base elements in our society.
The sudden emergence of the several pairs of parents claiming that Tayyaba was their child was mind-boggling. This was a case in which the parents should have been rightfully hanging their heads in shame that they had left their child at the mercy of such cruel and heartless people who had been subjecting her to such inhuman treatment. The appearance of fake claimants who could only be gold-diggers, for want of a less decent word, just goes to show how low some people can stoop to try and extract some financial leverage from a sad situation.
After ascertaining the identity of the real parents, the media would do well to pursue the case and make sure these fake parents are rounded up and punished for blatantly lying to take advantage of the fate of a poor little girl.
The actual parents of Tayyaba should also not be spared for first of all sending their under-age daughter to work for such deadly people and then not checking up on her to find out how she was faring.
It is highly unfortunate that the poor people in our country are producing off-spring with gay abandon, least concerned about the dangerously high birthrate and the population explosion which is the root cause of all our ills. Shortage of natural recourses like water, power, electricity, illiteracy, crime, terrorism are some of the results of uncontrolled rise in population. The poor produce children calling it the will of Allah.
There is no doubt that nothing can happen without the will of Allah, but Allah has also given us a brain to use. Producing unwanted children and leaving them to grow on the streets or subjecting them to the barbarity of child labor and living off their wages is shameful and cruel. Tayyaba’s case should be an eye –opener for all and birth control should also be discussed, for all segments of society, especially for people who do not possess the means to give a decent living standard to their children.
It is difficult to imagine that monsters like Tayyaba’s employers exist in our society, apparently in the garb of normal, educated people. It is chilling to wonder what could a little girl have done so wrong to enrage her employers enough to burn and beat her, repeatedly, knowing that they could get away with it? But sometimes, the silent suffering of such an innocent soul can move heavens, as it did in Tayyaba’s case. These people do not deserve any sympathy, leniency or tolerance. They need to be paid back in their own coin.
The, an eye for an eye, needs to be applied here. Media must neither protect nor shield them. Their gory faces should be flashed on TV also so that the world sees them for what they are, so that other children do not fall in the same trap as Tayyaba. The media has done a commendable job but it needs to be taken full circle. It should not get side –tracked by other juicer stories and abandon this story before it reaches a logical conclusion. Punishment needs to be meted out to the employers and their house put on surveillance. The parents of Tayyiba need to make some explanations and must be stopped from repeating the same mistake. The false parents must be fined for their lies.
The clips of little Tayyiba playing in the safe home may be heartening , but stricter laws need to be in place and enforced for child protection if we want the smile on her innocent face to be lasting instead of a momentary. Before we move on to other issues and Tayyiba is forgotten, let us insure that her bruises have left a lasting mark on our conscience.
India and UAE would work together to counter radicalisation and misuse of religion by groups and countries for inciting hatred and perpetrating acts of terrorism. A joint statement issued at the end of the visit by the UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan declared "strong condemnation of and resolute opposition to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, wherever committed and by whomever, and declared that there could be no justification for terrorism anywhere."
Though the statement did not mention by name, it was clearly aimed at Pakistan. It said, "The two sides condemned efforts, including by States, to use religion to justify, sustain and sponsor terrorism against other countries. They further deplored efforts by countries to give religious and sectarian colour to political issues and pointed out the responsibility of all States to control the activities of the so-called 'non-State actors'."
India has stepped up diplomatic pressure against terrorism. UAE has been increasingly uneasy, confronting as it is the twin dangers of Pakistan-supported terror groups in close proximity and the looming threat from Daesh/ISIS. The most recent reminder was the killing of five UAE diplomats in Kandahar — the Taliban asserted it was not their doing. The UAE is reluctant to openly condemn the Taliban which it had supported in Afghanistan in the 1990s, along with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. A security team from the UAE has just returned from Afghanistan after investigating the attack in Kandahar. Minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said the government would take appropriate steps after the team submits its report. For the time being, the government is being circumspect on the possible outcome of the investigation.
But with indications that it may have been the work of the Haqqani network, with help from ISI, as the Kandahar police chief stated, the UAE is in a bind. Sirajuddin Haqqani, head of the Haqqani network is now also the deputy leader of the Afghan Taliban, so it would be difficult to insulate the Taliban from responsibility. But it reinforces the Indian position which does not distinguish between good and bad Taliban/terrorists considering both a threat. The attack has provided fresh thrust to the UAE's current approach of countering extremist ideologies that have created groups like al-Qaida and now ISIS/Daesh. The same UAE which was a supporter of the Taliban government in Afghanistan, after 9/11 decided to send troops to fight al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.
Today, the Emirates, through numerous state-sponsored organisations like Hedayah, is working with schools, Islamic clerics, and governments to steer away from extremist ideologies, weed out extremism from school curricula and even tailor the message clerics deliver to the faithful. Within UAE, the Friday sermons delivered by the imams are written and vetted by a government department on Islamic affairs to make sure the message is of "tolerance, moderation" etc. It shows the growing alarm coursing through these societies about radicalised Islam becoming an existential threat. "There is a close relationship between extremism and terrorism. Not every extremist becomes a terrorist, but every terrorist is first an extremist," said state foreign minister Anwar Gargash, to Indian journalists in Abu Dhabi this week.
"We have a problem within Islam, within Muslim societies, while the Islamisation of states are also contributing to growing extremism," he added. There is a growing sense that countering terrorism is key to maintaining what they call the "UAE model" - a modern, tolerant Muslim nation. It is actually one of the anchors that have drawn India and UAE to each other in recent years.