Sunday, February 18, 2018
Teen survivors of the school shooting massacre in Florida last week are calling for a march on Washington to demand action on gun control.
Student organizers of the protest told ABC News' "This Week" Co-Anchor Martha Raddatz on Sunday that they are determined to use protests and political action to make the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Florida, a turning point in the national debate over gun control.
“People keep asking us, 'What about the Stoneman Douglas shooting is going to be different, because this has happened before and change hasn't come?'” Cameron Kasky, an 11th-grader told Raddatz. “This is it.”
“People are saying that it’s not time to talk about gun control. And we can respect that,” Kasky added. “Here’s a time. March 24th in every single city. We are going to be marching together as students begging for our lives.”
Called "March for Our Lives," the demonstration should transcend politics, according to Kasky and four of his classmates whom Raddatz also interviewed -- Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, Alex Wind and Jaclyn Corin.
"This isn't about the GOP," Kasky said. "This isn't about the Democrats. This is about the adults. We feel neglected and at this point, you're either with us or against us."
“Any politician on either side who is taking money from the NRA is responsible for events like this,” the high school junior said of the shooting on Feb. 14 that killed 17 students and teachers at the school. “At the end of the day, the NRA is fostering and promoting this gun culture.” Kasky said the point is to "create a new normal where there's a badge of shame on any politician who's accepting money from the NRA.” Gonzalez added that the student activists from Parkland want to have conversations about guns with President Donald Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Gov. Rick Scott, also a Republican.
“We want to give them the opportunity to be on the right side of this,” she said.
Raddatz asked Gonzalez what she would say to other students around the country to encourage them to join the protest.
The high school senior said, "The kids who need to take part in this are kids, everyday kids just like us. They are students who need to understand that this can very quickly happen to them ... They need to join us, and they need to help us get our message across. All students should realize that a school shooting could happen anywhere."
Student survivors of the deadliest-ever shooting at a U.S. high school reacted angrily on Sunday after U.S. President Donald Trump said the FBI may have been too distracted with a Russia probe to follow leads that could have prevented the massacre.
“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter,” Trump tweeted late Saturday. “They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign - there is no collusion.”
Trump offered no evidence that there was any connection between the investigation of Russian meddling and the FBI’s failure to prevent the Florida shooting.
“Oh my god. 17 OF MY CLASSMATES AND FRIENDS ARE GONE AND YOU HAVE THE AUDACITY TO MAKE THIS ABOUT RUSSIA???!!,” Morgan Williams, a 16-year-old junior, tweeted in response to Trump’s message. “HAVE A DAMN HEART.”
The FBI has acknowledged it failed to act on a tip warning that the suspect, Nikolas Cruz, possessed a gun and the desire to kill. Cruz is charged with 17 murders at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, near Ft. Lauderdale.
Another student said they wanted authorities to take action, not engage in a blame game. “You know what isn’t acceptable?” said Carly Novell, a senior at Douglas. “Blaming everyone but the shooter and the lack of gun control in our country. You even blamed the students. We did report him, we tried. But how were we supposed to know what would happen? Your lack of sympathy proves how pitiful of a person you are.”
The students’ outrage over Trump’s comments came one day after hundreds of gun control advocates rallied at the Broward County federal courthouse with students who survived the attack, parents and community leaders to demand a ban on the sale of assault weapons in the state.
By Cyril Almeida
Allow yourself to be a little irritated with Imran.
Because, by God, is he annoying. The Lodhran loss could be a blip or it could be confirmation of what many have long suspected — that Imran can’t win, doesn’t know how to win.
Many have lusted after power, few have achieved it. Imran has over-promised and under-delivered for so long now that a definitive defeat the next time round wouldn’t be such a big deal.
At this point, Imran winning may be the bigger surprise.
But even in defeat, an impact can be had. So you don’t get to be in government or parliament in large numbers, but there’s still a chance to shape the governance agenda or the national discourse.
Kinda like the PPP did with the south-Punjab-province gamble. Knowing it was heading for a walloping in the last election, the PPP tried the ethnic card: vote for us and we’ll give you your own province.
There’s nothing really — nothing new, significant or potentially lasting — that Imran has added to politics here.
It was all kinds of stupid. Two Punjab provinces would have doubled Punjab’s share in the Senate and representation in the CCI, ECP, NFC and sundry federal bodies. It would have given Punjab two high courts, possibly funnelling more Punjab judges to the Supreme Court.
If the smaller provinces think they have a bad deal of it right now, two Punjab provinces would have been a whole other headache.
But the PPP was desperate, the Seraiki vote was its only chance in Punjab and an election had to be fought.
It did cause a change of sorts, though. Alarmed by the possibility of their prized possession being split and concerned that the separatist genie may be difficult to put back in the bottle, the PML-N began to take south Punjab seriously.
A decent electoral haul from south Punjab followed and the past four years have been spent pouring money into the region. South Punjab isn’t and will never be Lahore, but the political distance between Lahore and south Punjab has shrunk.
The heavy turnout in the by-election was a clue as is the problem of having too many winners in the PML-N camp. Having too many winners in the same constituency fighting for the same ticket can be a problem, but it’s a better problem than having no winners.
Point being, the PPP’s desperation forced the PML-N to respond to the ethnic card by doing more of the stuff the N-League is handy at, like pouring cement and tar and sprucing up infrastructure and handing out stuff.
So back to Imran. Imagine he disappears and the PTI implodes. Poof, gone, suddenly, all of it. What would the contribution left behind be, to national politics, to what other parties do, to how the system behaves?
That’s what’s so irritating about Imran.
You can’t think of anything.
It’s all the more frustrating because of how far he’s come. From a party of one he’s dragged the PTI all the way to becoming the second largest party in the country. Even now, he’s still got a realistic shot at power in a few months.
But there’s nothing. Nothing durable that the PTI has contributed, by design or accident, to the national game. PTI groupies harp on about the anti-corruption stuff, but it’s mostly more of the same.
Sure, Imran has made anti-corruption his signature message, but by narrowly focusing on Nawaz, and occasionally Zardari, he hasn’t moved the needle on systemic corruption. ‘My opponent is corrupt’ isn’t exactly a novel political message.
PTI haters will flag the coarsening of political rhetoric that the PTI has effected. It’s true that Imran has been crude and the PTI got a jump on the social-media game with a mocking, ugly tone.
But tales of what BB suffered at the hands of the IJI and the PML-N before the Sharifs became holier-than-thou are hardly forgotten. And the universality of social-media ugliness suggests it’s less the PTI and more the medium that has unleashed wretchedness globally.
Up and down and through the PTI agenda you can sift and search and there’s nothing really — nothing new, significant or potentially lasting — that Imran has added to politics here.
There’s nothing even that Imran has forced the PML-N to change tack on.
Unless Nawaz barnstorming the country like Imran is considered a change. Given the success Nawaz seems to be having with it, if you were the PTI you’d probably rather that Nawaz hadn’t taken to matching jalsa for jalsa.
Electoral reforms were the great possibility — and the catalyst was definitely Imran’s campaign to delegitimise the results of the last election. But once it became clear that the PML-N wasn’t about to be ousted, Imran lost interest in electoral reforms.
In the end, the electoral reforms package was overshadowed by the Nawaz-as-party-president clause and the repulsive character who arrived in Faizabad.
So vote for PTI or don’t vote for PTI, love Imran or hate Imran. But also allow yourself a little irritation.
Because for all the noise Imran has made, for all the votes he’s won, for all the disruption he’s caused, he’s managed to achieve virtually nothing.
He doesn’t seem to know how to win nor has he forced, directly or indirectly, deliberately or unwittingly, positive change in anyone else or the system itself.
It’s annoying, irritating and exhausting.
The verdict in the Zainab rape and murder case has been as expected, with the anti-terrorism court sentencing her murderer Imran Ali to death on four counts. Zainab’s family has hailed the verdict as have other; and perhaps the verdict offers some sense of justice. DNA testing and forensic evidence had left little doubt that Imran was the culprit, and he had confessed to the crime during the trial. It also appears that he was responsible for the rape and murder of at least seven other girls in Kasur. There are, however, many questions that come to mind, questions that should perhaps have been asked when the Kasur child pornography and sex abuse racket broke in 2015 and we learnt how between 2006 and 2014 at least 280 children had been sexually abused, filmed, the footage sold to pornographic rings and money extorted from their parents.
The main question is that of the vulnerability of children, especially those from lower-income groups, who cannot always be protected by cars, tall boundary walls and household staff. These children must face the dangers of the streets and in too many cases their parents are forced to hand them over to madressahs or to work as labourers in households or workshops. The year 2001 Javed Iqbal case, in which 100 boys were murdered and their bodies dissolved in acid, had exposed what risks were faced by children who had run away from home because of tensions or domestic violence within their homes.
Sadly the media, schools, society and other groups have neglected the problems which lead to tragedies such as that of Zainab. The manner in which the Zainab case was highlighted at a specific time and politics pulled into it highlights the character of our country and the willingness to exploit a dead child, even before she had been buried, in order to hit out at political enemies. The media allowed itself to become a tool in this game – forgetting the broader aspect of what we can do to prevent other children from facing the same fate as Zainab or cracking down on abuse which is entrenched deep within our society. The death sentence rids us of one man. But there are many others like him who have still to be punished And, until there is a major overhaul in our mindset, we will be unable to protect the weak and the vulnerable.
In a country where students are lynched to death and sexual assault is common, apathy still prevails. Should nothing end up changing, this verdict will do little to make us a safer, fairer society.
By Raza Rumi
The earliest and the only judgment against a military coup is attributed to her name.
It will take some time to accept that Asma Jahangir has gone silent. That she is not at the centre of Pakistan’s political discourse. As a formidable and relentless fighter, Asma Jahangir personified the struggles Pakistanis have waged against executive excesses, shameful cultural practices and discriminatory legislation throughout the country’s history. Jahangir kept the torch of public liberty, freedom and democracy alive for decades. Since her foray into activism as a young woman, Asma Jahangir remained a fearless champion of democratic rights and, in many ways, the conscience of Pakistan during the last forty years.
A leading Pakistani lawyer, Jahangir was most renowned for her role as a human rights activist. This was a role which resulted in her confronting the military dictatorships of General Zia-ul-Haq and General Pervez Musharraf, as well as civilian autocrats. In 1972, when Asma Jahangir was a teenager, she filed her first petition to have her father — who had been arrested for denouncing war crimes in Bangladesh — released from prison. She won the case. In fact, the earliest and the only judgement against a military coup is attributed to her name. Her resistance to the Pakistan army’s active role in politics was legendary. In 1999, when sections of Pakistan’s civil society welcomed the apparently secular Musharraf, hers was the only clear, unequivocal voice against military intervention. A decade later when Pakistan rallied behind judges and lawyers to oust Musharraf, Jahangir was once again at the forefront.
In 1980, Asma Jahangir and her sister Hina Jilani partnered with other women lawyers formed the first law firm established by women in Pakistan, named the AGHS Legal Aid Cell. To date, AGHS has provided legal services to several women and members of minority groups, and it continues to be a benchmark against which the legal profession and public law in Pakistan will be judged in the annals of Pakistani history.
During Ziaul Haq’s dictatorship, Asma was also at the vanguard of activists who created the Women’s Action Forum (WAF). Jahangir, along with other women activists, led protests against enforcement of fundamentalist laws, specifically the Law on Evidence (which made a woman’s testimony inferior to that of men), together with demonstrating against the conviction of a 13-year-old blind rape victim for zina (adultery). WAF was the first spark of resistance against military rule and inspired men and women of all faiths, ethnicities and backgrounds to rally against a repressive dictatorship. Her struggles continued thereafter even when civilian governments were ruling Pakistan. She was as outspoken as before and refused to adopt a partisan line. Within years, Jahangir received global acclaim and became a symbol of progressive and liberal-democratic elements within Pakistan. She was recognised and honoured across the globe for her stellar contributions to human rights and advocacy for marginalised segments of Pakistani society.
Another key contribution by Jahangir was the establishment and nurturing of the formidable Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). Today, it is the biggest and most credible network of rights’ activists in Pakistan with a presence in all corners of the country. Jahangir remained the Co-Chairperson of the HRCP for several years. She was also one of the founders of the South Asia Forum for Human Rights.
Even though Jahangir will always be remembered for her work in Pakistan, her influence had turned global in the past two decades. The United Nations appointed her as a Special Rapporteur of Freedom of Religion of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. From 1998-2004, she also worked as a Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Commission on Extrajudicial, Arbitrary or Summary Executions, a job, which took her to Afghanistan, Central America and Colombia. In recent years, she was UN’s special rapporteur for Iran and her straight-talk angered the hardliners in Iran as well.
But it was home where she dazzled. In 2010, she was elected as the first ever woman president of the Supreme Court Bar Association. This was a time when she was also a fierce critic of the Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. Jahangir supported Chaudhry when Gen Musharraf wrongfully fired him in 2007 but once the judge regained his position, Jahangir was back to business of checking abuse of power. As the bar leader, Jahangir brought some sanity amid hyper-activism of the Supreme Court during 2010-2012.
Yet, her credibility at home was always challenged by fundamentalists and the all-powerful establishment. Her opponents in the Mullah-Military combine left no stone unturned to defame her. She was declared as a Western agent and, in recent years, an Indian stooge. The reason was obvious: Jahangir stood for peace with India and vociferously articulated an alternative vision for Pakistan which was secular, democratic and based on regional cooperation.
Her consistent stance on principles of human rights and democracy unnerved every ruler in the country. During Musharraf’s time, she was a fierce critic of his regime and he even named her several times in a disparaging manner. In 2005, she was abused and manhandled during a mixed gender marathon which had been organised to raise awareness about violence against women. Little wonder then that after Musharraf launched his second coup in the guise of an emergency in 2007, Jahangir was placed under house arrest.
Unlike many in Pakistan’s fractured civil society, Jahangir shunned public offices. Benazir Bhutto, in her two stints as Prime Minister, wanted Asma Jahangir to become a judge of the superior courts but Jahangir refused.
In 2013, Nawaz Sharif was elected as the prime minister for the third time. From the very start, it was evident that Sharif’s relationship with the establishment would be rocky to say the least. And it turned out to be just the same. A long drawn civil-military conflict culminated in the judicial ouster of Sharif. Throughout his tenure, Jahangir supported the primacy of civilian institutions and after Sharif’s controversial dismissal by the court, she was the staunchest of voices against the judicial excess. The opposition leader Imran Khan and his party distorted her position as political support for Sharif. Jahangir called out Khan for his soft stance on Islamic extremism and his bidding of the military establishment to destabilise Sharif. Jahangir’s detractors, therefore, multiplied as Khan’s young supporters saw her as the foe. In addition to being anti-Pakistan, an Indian agent, enemy of Islam, she was also painted as an apologist for ‘corrupt’ Sharif dynasty.
Jahangir fought back and with her usual gusto. Never deterred by personal attacks she was unmoved. Her positions on all matters, political and legal, remained unchanged. This was her real strength and confidence in principles she had remained loyal to.
This larger-than-life commitment to her passion and gritty hard work came at a cost. Her health suffered. Leading a highly stressful life — waging multiple battles at the same time — perhaps ended in that fateful cardiac arrest last Sunday. For many of us, it will be a black Sunday for we are yet to determine all that has been lost with the passing away of an exceptional individual.
Even in her death, Jahangir overthrew conventions and her public funeral was attended by women who are generally not allowed to pray with men. The right-wing has created a furore with fatwas flowing in. A nasty campaign on TV and social media continues defamation. But these desperate attempts are likely to fail in dwindling her legacy of resistance and hope.
Rest in power, Asma Jahangir. You showed us what a meaningful life entails.