Monday, August 7, 2017

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Pakistan - Psychological ailments on rise among Parachinar people

Ashfaq Yusufzai
Psychiatrists have expressed concerns over increasing depression, post traumatic stress disorder and anxiety among the residents of Parachinar owing to acts of terrorism.
They urged the government to set up a foundation to provide assistance to the orphans and rehabilitate the people, who lost their limbs and other organs in acts of terrorism.
“The residents of Parachinar have suffered immensely. On an average, one person died in violent acts in every household during the past few years. There are widows, orphans and disabilities all around,” renowned psychiatrist Prof Syed Mohammad Sultan told Dawn.
He said that it was common in Parachinar to see young people walking with the help of on crutches. He said that the victims happened to be poor. He added that of the 250,000 population of the area, 2,500 people were killed in acts of terrorism.
“The inhabitants have paid heavy price for the decade-long insurgency, which caused depression among them,” said Prof Sultan, the chairman of psychiatry department at Khyber Teaching Hospital.
He said that foundations for the families of killed people were set up to provide education to the children and assist them in getting other needs of life. “Otherwise, the burden of psychiatric ailment would take heavy toll on the population because their lives have become hard,” he added.
Ajmal Shah, who lost his both lower limbs in the latest twin bomb blasts on Eidul Fitr, said that all the victims were daily wagers or shopkeepers, whose families were destined to look for alms and charity as there was no assistance for them. He said that Eidul Fitr was not celebrated in Panachinar as people mourned their dead.
Mr Shah, who was treated at Lady Reading Hospital, said that every graveyard in his hometown had at least a dozen graves of the victims of terrorism with red flags hoisted on them. He said that the children, who were supposed to be in schools, were sitting in homes because they had lost their bread earners.
“The recent attack killed a child, his father and a grandfather. A mother of five children lost her husband. Who will bear the cost of their upbringing,” he questioned.
Another psychiatrist said that he had been receiving the members of bereaved families from Parachinar. They needed medication, rehabilitation and socio-economic support to be able to come out of the quagmire, he added.
Parachinar, the headquarters of Kurram Agency, has been neglected by government to the extent that people had got a complete sense of deprivation.
“A terrorism attack in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad get extensive media coverage while attacks in Fata are reported for a brief period. Compared to other parts of the country, terrorism incidence get five per cent coverage on media,” he said.
He said that the attitude would create distance between Fata and rest of the country. “The latest example is the deaths of the people, who were collecting petrol from oil tanker in Punjab.
The victims’ families were given Rs2 million as compensation but the people of Fata people get Rs300, 000 for losing their family members in acts of terrorism,” said the psychiatrist.
He said that government announced Rs1 million per person for victims of Parachinar only after a weeklong sit-in and countrywide protest but that compensation was not going to help them on durable basis. Mian Iftikhar Hussain, another psychiatrist, said that not only terrorism but natural calamities affected people due to which they got exposed to host of ailments. The government should extend support to them on permanent basis, he added.
“Post traumatic stress disorders, phobic disorders, anxiety and depression are definite outcome of bereavement that can be overcome through continuous medical and economic support by the government. We need to give them continuous medication and put brakes on relapses among the affected people,” said the psychiatrist.

Pakistan - Khadija Siddiqi: Justice Delayed, Not Denied


An explosion occurred in Lahore's western suburbs on Monday evening which left at least one person dead and more than 34 injured. Lahore too has fallen victim to the Deobandi takfiri terrorism perpetrated by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Taliban and their other groups.

DIG Operations Dr Haider Ashraf confirmed that the explosion happened in a fruit laden truck which was parked at a parking lot on Out Fall Road in Islampura area. He said that explosives were hidden in the truck which accidentally triggered around 9pm, causing damage to scores of vehicles parked in the area.
The injured were rushed to nearby Mayo Hospital, Services Hospital and Mian Munshi Hospital where an emergency has been imposed. At least four injured are said to be in critical condition in Mayo Hospital.
Due to a power breakdown following the blast, hospital authorities are facing problems in carrying out emergency operations.
Police and other law enforcement personnel (LEAs), including forensic experts, reached the blast site soon after the incident and cordoned it off.
The authorities have launched an investigation to determine how and when the truck arrived in the area.
The roof of a nearby house had collapsed due to the intensity of the explosion, while the windowpanes of nearby buildings had shattered from the shock waves. A number of automobiles were also damaged in the incident.
Rai Ijaz, a senior police officer at the site, told reporters that the explosion created a big crater.
String of bombing incidents
There have been several high-profile terrorism incidents in Punjab's capital city this year.
Last month, 26 people, including nine policemen, were killed and 58 others were injured in a bombing attack near the Arfa Karim IT Tower on Lahore's Ferozepur Road.
Another blast, targeting a census team in April, had resulted in the deaths of six people, including five forces personnel.
Similarly, a suicide blast on February 13 had ripped through a camp of protesting chemists in front of the Punjab Assembly, leaving 13 people dead and 70 others wounded.

Pakistan's ISI new Drama - Pakistani 'terrorist' charity launches political party

By Asad Hashim
Milli Muslim League launched by Jamaat-ud-Dawa, whose chief is under US and UN 'terrorist' sanctions.
A Pakistani charity designated by the United Nations as a front for armed group Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) launched a political party on Monday, in a move that could see the anti-India group accused of carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attacks, enter mainstream national politics.
Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the chief of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) organisation that launched the party, has been designated by the UN as a "terrorist", and the United States has had a $10m bounty on his head since 2012 for his alleged role as the leader of LeT armed group.
Pakistani police have held Saeed under house arrest in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore since January under local anti-terrorism laws. His detention was extended for a further two months on August 1.
The UN sanctions include the freezing of all assets, a ban on international travel, and an arms embargo.
At the formal launch of the Milli Muslim League (MML) party in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad on Monday, party chief Saifullah Khalid was clear that he held Saeed in high regard, although the question of what role he would play in the party remained an unanswered one.
"What role he will play in the Milli Muslim League or in Pakistan's ongoing politics will be seen after Allah ensures his release," said Akhtar, adding that the issue of Saeed's release was high on the MML's agenda. "[Once he is released] we will meet him and ask him what role he would like to play [in the party]. He is the leader of Pakistan."
Link to Mumbai attack
Saeed has repeatedly denied any role in planning the coordinated attacks on the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008, which killed more than 160 people.
He also said that his JuD charity is distinct from LeT and has no connection with it.
The US, as well as several international governments and security analysts, however, disagree with that assertion, listing JuD as one of a number of charitable front organisations for LeT, with Saeed listed as the group's leader.
The UN listed LeT on an international sanctions list in 2005 for "participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf or in support of […] supplying, selling or transferring arms and related material to […] or otherwise supporting acts or activities of" al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and the Afghan Taliban.
The Pakistani government lists JuD as "under observation" on a list of banned "terrorist organisations", rather than banning the group outright.
In 2015, Pakistan's media regulator banned all coverage of the group's humanitarian activities by the country's news media. LeT has been listed as a "terrorist organisation" by Pakistan since 2002.
The MML party has submitted registration documents to Pakistan's Election Commission, said Akhtar, but it was unclear if the party's links to JuD would prevent its official registration, which is required to put up candidates for elections. Khalid said that the MML will work in close conjunction with JuD, which has a network of thousands of volunteers across Pakistan who work mainly in the education and disaster and medical relief sectors.
"We will maintain coordination with Jamaat-ud-Dawa and all other like-minded organisations that hold the ideology of Pakistan … we will offer them our cooperation, and accept theirs."
India's reaction
Monday's developments are likely to draw a sharp reaction from India, Pakistan's neighbour to the east with whom it has fought three wars. India has sharply criticised what it terms Pakistan's "tolerance" of LeT and apparent unwillingness to prosecute those it deems responsible for the attack in Mumbai and numerous other attacks on the Indian military in the disputed region of Kashmir.
Khalid has long been a member of the JuD's central leadership.
In June, he led funeral prayers in absentia for those killed by Indian security forces in Kashmir, Indian media reported. Ayesha Siddiqa, a security analyst, told the Reuters news agency that the new party was designed to cloak the group amid heightening pressure from the international community on Pakistan to crack down on LeT and JuD. "The making of a party indicates the need of JuD to hide itself further so to avoid criticism," Siddiqa told the news agency.
While Saeed was unable to attend the MML's launch event in Islamabad owing to his arrest, Yahya Mujahid, a close aide and also subject to UN terrorism sanctions, was present at the news conference.
He confirmed to Al Jazeera that Saeed was challenging his detention in Pakistani courts.
"He is in high spirits," said Mujahid.

ANP demands immediate merger of FATA with K-P

Rejecting the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), the Awami National Party (ANP) has demanded the government immediately merge the tribal region with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
“Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi should avoid doing politics on petty issues and instead divert his attention towards the actual problems being faced by the country, including implementation of Fata reforms,” said ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan while addressing the launch of Haroonur Rasheed’s book on the life and struggle of late ANP leader from Swat, Muhammad Afzal Khan Lala, at the Bacha Khan Markaz on Sunday.

Pakistan - Women and workplace harassment

By Quratulain Fatima
“Given how our patriarchal understanding dictates that only prostitutes are to be found outside the safe space of the home — we thus cannot understand any other kind of suitable work for women outside these confines”.
Imagine this. An official government Whatsapp group sees a supposedly respectable senior male officer pass a lewd comment. This was appreciated by a rather young and modern male contemporary. And in this virtual space sat many women. As if this were not enough, insult was added to injury when it transpired that the former was none other than the chief of the inquiry committee constituted under the famous Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010. Maybe this gentleman should be reminded of the fact that within a formal organisation any incident of harassment represents a major abuse of power. And though misplaced perceptions would tell us otherwise — harassment is never about morality. It is about demonstrating in whose hands power lies and how easily this can be abused.

Women refusing to give into sexual demands of male colleagues in positions of power find themselves routinely sidelined when it comes to promotions or bonuses... As for those who manage to break the glass ceiling — disgruntled male colleagues often accuse them of sleeping their way to the top. 

Women in the workplace endure all kinds of ordeals, both emotional and physical, as they go about their daily business. More and more women from the middle-class and upper middle-class have started joining the urban workforce here in Pakistan. All of which as begun to challenge the longstanding cultural norms of Chaadar and Chaar-dewari, meaning that the place for virtuous women is in the home. Which brings to mind a quote from Urdu literature that is, sadly, still relevant today: “given how our patriarchal understanding dictates that only prostitutes are to be found outside the safe space of the home — we thus cannot understand any other kind of suitable work for women outside these confines.”
Workplace harassment comes in many forms. This may range from verbal abuse, subtle sexual advances, after work invitations as well as explicit attempts to extract sexual favours from women. Moreover, it is a myth that women in positions of power in so-called elitists sectors escape such untoward attention. If this were the case, the following would not have happened. In a much respected military organisation that was the first to induct women into service — an overwhelming amount of harassment cases were reported during the initial years. The number was said to have gone down when intra-organisational marriages began to take place, once more lending credence to cultural notions of respect for women being intertwined with supplementary identities of wife, mother, sister or daughter.
It has been seven years since the aforementioned Act was promulgated. Section 2(h) defines harassment as: “any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favours or other verbal or written communication or physical conduct of a sexual nature, or sexually demeaning attitudes, causing interference with work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, or the attempt to punish the complainant for refusal to comply with such a request or is made a condition for employment”. Whereas section-III provides that an inquiry committee shall look into matter and has the authority to impose penalties ranging from censure to removal from service.
At the time, this legislation was welcomed as a giant leap forward towards countering the rampant harassment of women in the workplace. And in fact, it represents a comprehensive document. Committee members are required to regularly monitor working environments and act on a priority basis upon all incidents of harassment brought to their notice. The Act also establishes powers to lodge complaints with an ombudsman at both the provincial and federal level. It is, additionally, mandatory for the Act to be displayed at prominent places throughout.
Yet here on the ground not much has changed, not in real terms. Consider this. The head of a particular government agency was removed following an inquiry into allegations of harassment filed by a woman employee. Yet the response of the majority of the men was that the complaint was nothing more than the sham actions of a typical feminist-minded (read evil-minded) woman intent upon seeking recourse in the law with the sole purpose of blackmailing men to advance her interests.
International and development organisations have traditionally been considered safer environments for women. Yet inevitably the reality has proved rather different. Women refusing to give into the sexual demands of men in power find themselves routinely sidelined when it comes to promotions or bonuses. This is to say nothing of the humiliation itself. As for those women who manage to break the glass ceiling — disgruntled male colleagues often accuse them of sleeping their way to the top.
Although The Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act has provided a mechanism through which women can report harassment — the ratio of formal complaints still remains very low. The reasons are profoundly simple: our societal and cultural norms place a high value on the honour of women and therefore demand silence from women whose honour is violated. This is because society prefers to hold a woman responsible for any sort of provocation received. Old adages such as, she must have been asking for it; she was leading the man on; look at what she was wearing — suddenly become common currency. Meaning that she would do herself a favour if she just kept quiet. Again. Why risk being fired or losing out on promotions?
Sadly, the patriarchy cannot be smashed by legislation alone. But it is a good place to start to affect much needed social change. What is required is a concrete commitment on the part of organisations, government or otherwise, to ensure implementation of comprehensive frameworks geared towards securing workplaces as safe spaces for women. Crucial to this is the taking seriously all complaints of harassment, however subtle they may be, and taking punitive measures where appropriate.
The onus is on organisations to create an enabling environment that is also self-corrective in nature. One in which is sufficiently empowering to itself detect harassment while simultaneously preventing aggressors from further climbing the career ladder. It cannot be so hard.

Will not resign from seat, says Gulalai amid ruckus during NA address

Former Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MNA Ayesha Gulalai addressed a session of the National Assembly on Monday and said she will not resign from her seat in the assembly, amid ruckus created from PTI benches. 
Gulalai, addressing the assembly after taking permission from the deputy speaker, said that she was elected on merit and would continue her duties as a lawmaker. 
She added that she gave voice to weak women and added that she never compromised over integrity.
“Imran is not a deity that he cannot be criticised, character is important,” said Gulalai over noise created by PTI lawmakers. 
She further said that allegations were hurled at her family and she received death and acid attack threats.
Gulalai said that she wanted to tell PTI's members that they too can face the same treatment in the future. 
"The trend of using abusive language should change," said the former PTI lawmaker. 
The former PTI MNA said that her sister, Maria Toorpakai, is apolitical but PTI supporters did not spare her.
The deputy speaker requested the lawmakers to maintain discipline during her address, while asking PTI leader Shireen Mazari to remain seated.

"Proud of myself"

Gulalai, speaking to the media outside the assembly, said she always spoke in favour of weak and vulnerable women.
“I am proud of myself, I fulfilled my constitutional duty,” she said.
She added that her measures strengthened the women of Pakistan.
“One PTI minister along with an armed squad attacked my sister’s hospital and broke the windows,” she alleged.
Gulalai's allegations
Gulalai, earlier had claimed that Imran Khan had sent inappropriate messages to her and hinted at tying the knot in the texts.
She claimed to have informed her father that Khan had asked her to meet him alone and took her father and brother along with her to meet the PTI chief which irked him.
Gulalai also said her father asked Khan about his intentions but he dodged the question.
"I am ready to sit in front of Imran and can confront him on the obnoxious messages that he sent. He put me through mental torture and pain," said Gulalai.
As per Gulalai, Khan first sent inappropriate messages to her in 2013.

Pakistan - In defence of Ayesha Gulalai

By Tabinda M. Khan
I was a local worker and elected representative of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) from 2012 to 2015, and can attest to the culture of chauvinism that Naz Baloch and Ayesha Gulalai have spoken about. In 2012, chauvinism in PTI was a bit controlled, but after the party was captured by ‘electables’ in 2013, its internal democratic structures, which protected the interests of grassroots workers, women, and the youth, were progressively weakened and then completely dismantled in 2016. As PTI was de-democratised, Imran Khan and his immediate team became the supreme leaders, unconstrained by party institutions that could regulate or restrain their behaviour.
There has always been zero tolerance for dissent in the party. Javed Hashmi was called senile because he accused Imran Khan of having links with the military during the first sit-in against Nawaz Sharif government in 2013. Justice (Retd) Wajihuddin was called out of touch with political realities when he asked Imran Khan to penalise Jehangir Tareen for rigging the intra-party elections. Tasneem Noorani faded into the background, without a ripple, after he resigned as PTI’s Election Commissioner in 2016. Noorani had insisted that elections for the party leadership be held at all levels, including the national level, but Imran Khan rejected his demand and sided with Tareen’s preference for a top-down structure, in which grassroots workers were dis-empowered.
Naz Baloch was called a turncoat and opportunist, when she left PTI for PPP, and exposed the ‘institutional disarray and chauvinism’ within the party.
Gulalai has committed the ultimate crime of suggesting that perhaps Imran Khan is not the saviour he claims to be, that perhaps he is worse than those he seeks to replace. Unlike other whistle-blowers, her story is receiving greater attention because it has a sexual angle and Pakistani viewers, like those the world over, are titillated by such stories. While other dissenters were called senile, unrealistic, or opportunistic — and promptly faded from the public imagination — Gulalai’s story will be repeated over and over in the media and, therefore, she is a whistle-blower who may leave a greater dent in Imran’s credibility.
Without knowing the facts of Gulalai’s interaction with Imran Khan, we should refrain from issuing judgments. But how are attacks on her character justified? As a former PTI worker, witness to the institutional vacuum in the party and the chauvinistic and elitist attitudes of the national-level (almost entirely male) leadership, I believe the sequence of events she narrates sounds credible and deserves a serious investigation. When most women in Pakistan face unwelcome and repeated sexual advances by male colleagues, what do they do? They initially tend to ignore it but later erect barriers — such as avoiding one-on-one interaction with the man or asking family members to confront him. And finally, if the situation persists, they choose to quit. That is essentially what Gulalai did.
Staying silent about sexual harassment is the norm in our society. Had Gulalai spoken out against Imran Khan in 2013, she would have lost her position in PTI and the opportunity to serve her constituents as an MNA. Staying silent about sexual harassment is the norm in our society. Had Gulalai spoken out against Imran Khan in 2013, she would have lost her position in PTI and the opportunity to serve her constituents as an MNA. It is plausible that she chose to focus her attention on the larger cause — the vision that Imran Khan and PTI ostensibly represented — and ignore unwelcome advances. It is also plausible that she confronted Imran Khan about corruption within PTI during their last meeting, was humiliated by him, and decided to speak out publicly only then, because she felt that it not worth putting up with his behaviour if he had also abandoned his political mission and was selling voters the lie of a corruption-free Pakistan. Several grassroots workers, who have levelled corruption allegations against Jehangir Tareen, Aleem Khan, and Pervez Khattak, have reportedly returned with stories of being humiliated by the chairman. It is plausible that this was the last straw that led her to abandon PTI and voice long-held grievances.
It is difficult to decide who to believe in Pakistan these days and maybe Gulalai was used as a “pawn” by the PML-N, as PTI and her worst critics allege. But PTI’s behavior in the aftermath only confirms its disrespect of women. In the media, PTI spokespeople — men and women — have shamed Gulalai’s sister, a national squash player, for wearing shorts, and have threatened to hold a tribal jirga and demolish her house. KP PTI leaders have accused Gulalai of corruption and the province’s Accountability Bureau is reportedly launching a case against her. Even if we suspend judgment on Gulalai’s allegations till the investigation is done, PTI’s leaders personal attacks on her are condemnable to say the least.
Parliament has formed an inquiry committee but PEMRA and law enforcement agencies should also play their role in protecting Gulalai. The laws against cyber crime should be used to restrain those bullying her and the institutions established under the sexual harassment law should take notice of her case. Human rights activists should use Gulalai’s case as an opportunity to test and strengthen sexual harassment and cyber crime laws so protection of women rights can be ensured.