Monday, February 19, 2018

Video - #FloridaSchoolShooting #ParklandStudents - Kasich rips Trump for inaction on guns

Video - #FloridaSchoolShooting #ParklandStudents - School shooting survivors demand action on gun control

#FloridaSchoolShooting #ParklandStudents - Protect kids, not guns: students stage gun reform protest in front of White House

#FloridaSchoolShooting #ParklandStudents Stop going on vacation and fix gun laws, angry #Florida students tell #Trump

#ParklandStudents - Young people ask ‘am I next?’ at demonstration against Washington inaction in the wake of Florida attack

Students stage White House protest as Trump gives nod to background bill
Dozens of teenage students lay down on the pavement in front of the White House on Monday to demand presidential action on gun control after 17 people were killed in a school shooting in Florida.
Parent and educators joined the gathering, where protesters held their arms crossed at their chests. Two activists covered themselves with an American flag while another held a sign asking: “Am I next?”
“It’s really important to express our anger and the importance of finally trying to make a change and having gun control in America,” said Ella Fesler, a 16-year-old high school student from Alexandria, Virginia. She added: “Every day when I say ‘bye’ to my parents, I do acknowledge the fact that I could never see my parents again.”
Meanwhile the White House said Donald Trump was supporting an effort to improve background checks on gun buyers.
The US president has been criticised for his tepid response to the shooting and his past vigorous backing of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
The White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, said Trump had been in talks with the Republican senator John Cornyn and the Democratic senator Chris Murphy about a bill that aimed to strengthen how state and federal governments report crimes that could ban people from buying a firearm.
“The president spoke to Senator Cornyn on Friday about the bipartisan bill he and Senator Murphy introduced to improve federal compliance with criminal background check legislation,” Sanders said. “While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system.”
Students, teachers and politicians have urged Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress to act following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida, to prevent a future tragedy.
David Hogg, a 17-year-old student at the school, told NBC’s Meet the Press: “You’re the president. You’re supposed to bring this nation together, not divide us. How dare you.”
The bipartisan Cornyn-Murphy bill, announced last November after the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs in Cornyn’s home state of Texas, falls well short of what many activists want, but offers Congress a chance to say it is not doing nothing. It seeks to ensure that federal and state authorities accurately report relevant information, including criminal history, to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (Nics), the Texas Tribune reported.
“For years, agencies and states haven’t complied with the law, failing to upload these critical records without consequence,” Cornyn said.
Murphy is one of the most outspoken members of the Senate on gun control. His home state is Connecticut, where a gunman killed 20 students and six teachers at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown in 2012. Michael Hammond of the lobby group Gun Owners of America told the Guardian he believed it would be a “huge mistake” if the Trump administration threw its weight behind the legislation, called the Fix Nics Act. “We feel that Bonnie and Clyde are basically already in the Nics system, and the incremental names that would be attend as a result of this $625m bribe pot are names that probably shouldn’t be in there,” Hammond said.
Hammond said it was not yet clear what agreement the administration had made with Cornyn on “cleaning up” the background check system.

“Saying ‘revisions to the Fix Nics bill might be needed’ suggests to us that Cornyn didn’t completely sell him on it. To the extent that the president would consider Fix Nics that would be to us very disappointing. Over the next couple of days, our members are going to be contacting the White House in fairly large numbers to let him know what the exactly problems with this bill are, problems that weren’t necessarily communicated to Trump by Cornyn.” He added: “Fix Nics is a huge mistake and it would be a massive political mistake if Republicans are the party that finally delivered on gun control after Obama had failed for eight years.” Nikolas Cruz, the suspect in the Parkland school shooting, appeared in a Fort Lauderdale courtroom on Monday for a brief procedural hearing. He nodded once or twice to acknowledge his public defenders, but otherwise stared down and said nothing.
Trump has a history of shifting his positions in response to events or advice. Before he entered the political fray in earnest, he expressed support for a ban on assault weapons and “a slightly longer waiting period” to purchase a gun.
But during his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump ran as an unabashedly pro-gun candidate, warning the NRA: “The only way to save our second amendment is to vote for a person that you all know named Donald Trump.” Trump has since overturned a Barack Obama-era regulation restricting certain people from buying guns. Critics said this made it easier for people with mental illness to access to weapons, increasing the threat to themselves or others.
After last year’s massacre in Las Vegas, the president said he was potentially open to banning bump stocks, an accessory used to more rapidly fire rounds, but there has been no notable action by the White House since. The Guardian reported on Sunday that Slide Fire Solutions, a bump stock manufacturer, was offering 10% off in a Presidents’ Day sale with the coupon code “Maga” – a reference to Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America great again”.
Trump also provoked anger over the weekend by conflating the issue of gun violence with the special counsel’s investigation into his Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. He wrote on Twitter that the FBI missed “many signals” about the Florida gunman, claiming that the agency was spending “too much time” trying to prove Russian collusion.
Trump met injured victims and first responders from the Parkland shooting on Friday night. He spent the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida but did not play his customary golf, according to a pooled press report. However, the president returned to the golf course on Monday. The driver of an official van carrying journalists nearby was detained during a security screening for what he said was a personal firearm found in his baggage, a pool report said.

Pakistan PM reluctant to take stern action against JuD: report

Abbasi says Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal has opined that a ban now will invite a crisis similar to the one in November. Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi reversed his decision to take stern action against Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD)and Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (FiF) fearing that any such move could trigger a political crisis, a media report said on Monday.
Pakistan has come under intense pressure to rein in terror groups after United States President Donald Trump accused the country of harbouring terrorists and suspended nearly $2 billion in security assistance to it.
The JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which is responsible for carrying out the Mumbai attack that killed 166 people. It has been declared as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US in June 2014.
He fears a crisis
At a meeting, Mr. Abbasi said both the outfits “should be banned but Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal was of the view that if these organisations were banned at this point, the government would be facing a similar crisis which it faced in November,” The News reported, citing two different sources who attended the meeting last month. In November, a sit-in by supporters of Islamist organisation Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah led by Khadim Hussain Rizvi in Faizabad had paralysed the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. In the meeting, Prime Minister’s Adviser on Finance and Economic Affairs Miftah Ismail and Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua apprised him of the possible repercussions of the upcoming Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) meeting that could decide placing Pakistan on the watch list of countries that financially aid terrorism, the paper said.
After their input, Mr. Abbasi constituted a three-member committee, comprising Iqbal, Ismail and Attorney General Ishtar Ausaf, to finalise the decision of taking a strict action against the JuD and FIF, it said. The committee decided to resolve the issue through a presidential ordinance bringing an amendment to the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997 enabling the law to freeze all the assets of the organisations banned by the United Nations Security Council. The paper quoted General Ausaf as saying that still a notification by the Interior Ministry was required to formally ban both the organisations.
Assets freezed, but no cases
Following the February 9 presidential ordinance, the federal government formally ordered the freezing of all the assets of JUD and FIF across the country without placing them in Schedule I of Anti-Terrorism law, the paper said. Early this month, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah had said that on the Interior Ministry’s directions, Saeed and his charities have been banned to operate in Pakistan and the government has already started taking over all the facilities, offices, schools, dispensaries and seminaries that belong to the JuD and FIF. The law explicitly defines placement of any organisation into the banned list that is not enabling the police to take any legal action against both the organisations. “Although, the federal government has decided to freeze the assets of JUD and FIF through the law, it does not empower the provincial police to register cases against their activists, so we’ve taken over their assets but not registered cases against their activists,” the paper quoted a senior officer police officer as saying.
Citing sources, it said a formal notification of placement of JuD and FIF in Schedule I was still awaited. Without the said notification, both the organisations will not be formally admitted as a defunct organisation at the federal and provincial levels.
Banned groups’ list not updated
The sources claimed that in the same pretext the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) has refused to update its list of banned organisations on its website.
A high-level meeting, headed by Nacta chief Ehsan Ghani on February 15 deliberated the above-mentioned notification of the Interior Ministry and also pointed out the same flaw in the notification issued by the government, the paper added.

Pakistan - Political prisoners in Gilgit Baltistan

The authorities in Islamabad need to live up to their claims regarding equal treatment of Pakistani citizens regardless of their geographic location inside the country. The fact of the matter is that their approach towards many Pakistanis, in hitherto marginalised territories like Gilgit-Baltistan, remains no better than that of the colonial masters whose control over our state institutions ended several decades ago. Several political activists, led by the iconic Baba Jan, who had raised voice for those displaced in the Attabad lake fiasco, remain incarcerated on charges of terrorism. That our law enforcement apparatus can charge GB residents with terrorism for exercising civil liberties that the rest of us, in mainland Pakistan, take for granted should be a moment of shame for those representing the Pakistani public in Islamabad. Incidentally, Pakistan’s greatest champion for human rights who left us last week, Asma Jahangir, had condemned the authorities for Baba Jan’s incarceration and sought a fair and speedy trial for GB’s political prisoners.
Instead of trying to address the grievances of the region, the authorities continue with their undemocratic practices. The latest example is the arrest of the president of Gilgit Baltistan Supreme Appellate Court Advocate Ehsan Ali.  He was held for re-sharing a photo from recent Iranian protests on social media. The photo showing a woman protester sitting on the platform meant for prayer leaders in a mosque had become a symbol of defiance of ordinary Iranians against the clerical regime. There was hardly anything derogatory about the photo but Ali reportedly still took it off from his social media profile and also apologised for re-sharing it. He was still arrested and remains behind bars. Meanwhile, protests have been held against his arrest in GB as well as in major cities across the country. The protesters, including a large body of students from GB, have sought an end to our double standards vis-a-vis the region. The authorities in Islamabad will do well to listen to these youngsters of GB for this lopsided relationship of Islamabad with the region and its people needs to end.
The case against Advocate Ali needs to be annulled and he must be released immediately. The occasion should also be used to reflect on the undemocratic impulses in the recently passed controversial legislation on electronic crimes. The legislation should be reviewed for any curtailments it places on Pakistani citizens’ fundamental rights and liberties. For there simply cannot be any room for such policing of cyber space in a democratic dispensation. 

Govt refuses to divulge 'operational details' of Pakistani troops' deployment to Saudi Arabia

Nadir Guramani
Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani on Monday threatened Defence Minister Dastagir with 'contempt of parliament' proceedings after the minister outright refused to provide details of the ‘unilateral decision’ to send Pakistani troops to Saudi Arabia for deployment.
The chairman said he 'rejected' Dastagir's briefing to the upper house after the minister said he could not divulge "operational details" of the deployment.
"Why don't we proceed against you and the prime minister over contempt of parliament?" Rabbani asked Dastagir after the minister revealed that it was Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi who green-lighted the deployment.
The Senate chairman censured Dastagir for not taking the house into confidence even though both the defence minister and premier had knowledge of the decision for several months. "The parliament found out [about the deployment] through a press release," Rabbani said. "The executive has itself rubbed parliament's nose in the dirt." But the defence minister argued that despite the decision, Pakistan remains "neutral" — in line with a unanimous resolution passed by a joint sitting of parliament in 2015 stating that Pakistan will not become party to any war in the Middle East or any Arab state.
Disclosing the size of the deployment for the first time since the decision was announced, Dastagir said a total of 1,000 Pakistani troops are being sent to the Kingdom on a training mission. He said 1,600 Pakistani soldiers are already stationed in Saudi Arabia.
The defence minister attempted to assure Senate that the troops will not be deployed outside the Kingdom's territory, but Chairman Rabbani expressed a lack of confidence in the assurance, saying this information was already known. "The House is not satisfied with your response," he told Dastagir, while Senator Farhatullah Babar stressed that "all concerns remain despite the defence minister's statement". "Has a decision been taken to deploy troops at the border of [the southern Saudi province of] Sharura," he asked.
The Senate chairman told the defence minister that he could not hide any information from parliament, and even offered him the option of briefing the Senate on the issue in detail in an in-camera session.
"[But] don't give us a lollipop... we are not children," Rabbani told him.
However, the defence minister turned down the offer, stressing that he could not divulge operational details of the mission. "Don't ask where in Saudi Arabia the troops will be deployed," he further said. 'Deepening defence relationship'
In a statement issued after the Senate briefing, the defence minister gave a rundown of Pakistan-Saudi relations, seemingly in an attempt to justify the troops deployment.
Military cooperation between Pakistan and KSA dates back nearly five decades, the minister recalled, adding that Pakistani troops' training of Saudi forces is governed by the '1982 bilateral Pak-Saudi Protocol on the Deputation of Pakistan Armed Forces Personnel and Military Training'.
The statement revealed that nearly 10,000 Saudi armed forces personnel have been trained in various training academies and institutions in Pakistan. "The assistance being rendered to Saudi Arabia is a continuation of the ongoing support and is within the confines of joint parliamentary resolution of April 2015 [that called for neutrality]." The defence minister clarified that the Pakistani contingent comprising more than 1,000 troops of all ranks will be dispatched to the Kingdom on the training and advisory mission "shortly".
He recalled that a contingent of Saudi armed forces had participated in the Pakistan Day Parade on March 23 last year, "which manifests the deepening defence relationship between Pakistan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia".
On Thursday, the army had said it was sending troops to Saudi Arabia for deployment under a bilateral security pact. The announcement came after Saudi Ambassador Cdr Nawaf Saeed Al-Maliki reportedly discussed the “regional security situation” with Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa. The latter had also recently met Crown Prince Salman and Saudi military commanders during a three-day visit to the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia has been demanding the deployment of Pakistani troops since the start of the Yemen conflict in 2015, but Pakistan has been struggling to concede due to the parliamentary resolution asserting the country’s neutrality in the conflict. Last year, Pakistan had sent its famed army chief, retired Gen Raheel Sharif, to lead a Saudi-led coalition of troops contributed by several Muslim countries. Thereafter, it had been speculated that the deployment would take place even if it would not happen as quickly as the Saudis wanted.
Bill decriminalising suicide attempt passed The Senate on Monday also unanimously passed a bill seeking to decriminalise attempted suicide and providing treatment and protection to those who try to end their lives. Under Section 325 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), both suicide and attempted suicide are currently considered criminal offences, with the latter punishable either by a jail term of up to a year, or a fine, or both.
The Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill 2017, moved by Senator Karim Khawaja and already cleared by the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, proposes that the survivors of suicide attempts should be provided treatment and not awarded punishment as they try to commit suicide because of chemical changes in their brain which is nothing but a disease.
The state should treat those who seek to take their own lives like a mother, the bill argues.
"A person attempts suicide only in a state of extreme frustration," it says, demanding that the state safeguard the victims of mental illnesses and depression. The Senate had in October last year deferred the same bill, with Chairman Raza Rabbani ruling that a decision was not possible without a definitive view of the Council of Islamic Ideology. Chairman of the Senate standing committee Rehman Malik had then informed the house that according to the CII, there were no clear directions in the religion about the fate of survivors of suicide attempts.
The criminalisation of suicidal behaviour is one of the main reasons that people do not seek help for the psychological problem that may have precipitated the act.

Controversy rises over Pakistani troops to Saudi Arabia

By Aamir Latif 

Parliamentarians say Pakistani troops may be used in Saudi-led war in Yemen.

Pakistan’s decision to send its troops to Saudi Arabia for “advisory and training” purposes has sparked controversy, with some fearing that the troops might be used in the Saudi-led war against pro-Iran Houthi rebels in Yemen. 
Although the army insists that the unspecified number of troops being sent to Saudi Arabia under a longstanding bilateral agreement will be stationed within the kingdom, and will not be part of any armed conflict, several parliamentarians questioned the move, claiming it violates a parliamentary resolution that Islamabad will not be part of any conflict in the Middle East, particularly Yemen. 
The upper and lower houses -- Senate and National Assembly -- have asked the defense minister to appear before the parliament on Monday to explain the move, which follows a recent meeting in Riyadh between the country’s powerful army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdel Aziz. 
The development also coincides with the culmination of a weeklong joint exercise between Pakistan’s Navy and the Saudi Royal Navy on Saturday in the Arabian Sea. 
Though the army has not given the specific number of troops being sent to Saudi Arabia, opposition Senator Farhatullah Babar claimed in his speech during the Senate debate that a full division was being sent. 
However, a senior military official, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media, told Anadolu Agency that slightly more than 1,000 troops were being sent to Saudi Arabia to join the already stationed more than 1,100 troops in the kingdom in line with a 1982 security protocol between the two sides. 
Despite repeated attempts by Anadolu Agency, army spokesman Maj. Gen Asif Ghafoor was not available for comment.  
'Unilateral decision' 
“Who has taken this unilateral decision? Has anyone given serious thought to its grave consequences?” Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani said during a debate on Friday. 
Referring to repeated Foreign Ministry statements condemning the missile attacks by Houthi rebels as a threat to Saudi Arabia and the holy mosques, Rabbani, who belongs to the left-wing Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), argued that they seemed to justify the move to actively engage the Yemenis in the conflict on the side of Saudis. 
Shireen Mazari, a legislator from former cricket hero Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, voiced similar views. 
“Why has such an important decision been taken without consulting the parliament, especially when there is already a resolution that bars the government from taking such steps, which could harm our relations with other countries?” Mazari, a former professor of international relations at Islamabad’s Quaid-I-Azam University, told Anadolu Agency, in a thinly veiled reference to Iran. 
Pakistan army, in a previous statement, insisted that neither the fresh contingent nor the already stationed troops would be deployed outside Saudi Arabia. 
“In continuation of ongoing Pak-KSA bilateral security cooperation, a Pakistan army contingent is being sent to the KSA on training and advise mission. These or troops already there will not be employed outside KSA. Pak Army maintains bilateral security cooperation with many other GCC / regional countries,” said the statement. 
Security cooperation 
Downplaying parliamentarians’ concerns, security analysts see growing security cooperation between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, which according to them is facing internal security issues. 
“I do not give any weight to the apprehensions from some parliamentarians. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have had longstanding security cooperation, which includes the deployment of Pakistani troops on Saudi soil only for internal security and training purposes,” Ikram Sehgal, a Karachi-based defense analyst, told Anadolu Agency. 
Pakistani troops stationed in Saudi Arabia, he insisted, have never been deployed outside the kingdom’s territory. 
Sehgal, editor of the country’s respected Pakistan Defense Journal, observed that security cooperation between the two allies is beefing up. 
“Saudi Arabia is facing problems over its internal security,” Sehgal said, referring to reported differences within the ruling Al-Saud family, and a recent crackdown on corruption which led to the arrest of several ruling family members. 
“Pakistani soldiers will have nothing to do with the Yemen war or any other conflict. Their only role will be to train and help Saudi forces maintain internal security,” he said, citing the appointment of former army chief Gen Raheel Sharif as commander of a 42-nation anti-terrorism alliance in support of his argument regarding growing security cooperation between the two sides. 
Sehgal dismissed fears that sending additional troops to Saudi Arabia would irk its longtime rival Iran. 
“The army chief already made it clear to the Iranian leadership during his recent visit to Tehran that Pakistan’s army will not be part of any conflict involving Tehran and Riyadh. I don’t think Iran will take this move to be against it,” he maintained. 
Retired Brig. Mahmood Shah, an Islamabad-based security analyst, supported Sehgal’s point. 
“Deploying additional troops in Saudi Arabia has nothing to do with the Yemen conflict. It is linked to the kingdom’s internal security, which seems to be in trouble,” Shah, who himself was part of a Pakistan army contingent stationed in Saudi Arabia in 1984-87, told Anadolu Agency. 
“There was no need for additional troops for training and advisory purposes when over 1,100 soldiers are already there for the same. Similarly, they will not be used in Yemen as Pakistan has already made it clear that it will not be part of any conflict involving pro- and anti-Saudi elements,” said Shah.  
“It seems as if Saudi Arabia needs additional strength to deal with its internal security related issues,” he added. 
But he also said the issue had been mishandled. 
“The deployment is part of a government-to-government agreement between the two countries. Pakistan’s army should not have announced it unilaterally. Instead, the defense minister should have made an announcement in this regard,” said Shah.

Benazir Bhutto showed you can be a mother and prime minister – I know, I am her son

By Bilawal Bhutto

After Jacinda Ardern announced her pregnancy, some questioned how she would cope. They should look at Pakistan’s late leader.
The news about Jacinda Ardern struck a nerve with my sisters and I. It is indeed uplifting to see the world rejoice at her good fortune.
While there are the detractors and naysayers, the barrage of good wishes, the #knitforJacinda campaign and countless other little gestures, has been overwhelmingly positive.
But it was only natural for me to look back and compare this situation with the one my mother faced 28 years ago when she became the first world leader to give birth while in office.
At the time, as her children, we didn’t appreciate how extraordinary her life was. Looking back it is clear that despite her accomplishments, every day she had to prove that as a woman she had every right to be who she was, larger than life and leading from the front, every step of the way.

The news about Jacinda Ardern struck a nerve with my sisters and I. It is indeed uplifting to see the world rejoice at her good fortune.
While there are the detractors and naysayers, the barrage of good wishes, the #knitforJacinda campaign and countless other little gestures, has been overwhelmingly positive.
But it was only natural for me to look back and compare this situation with the one my mother faced 28 years ago when she became the first world leader to give birth while in office.
At the time, as her children, we didn’t appreciate how extraordinary her life was. Looking back it is clear that despite her accomplishments, every day she had to prove that as a woman she had every right to be who she was, larger than life and leading from the front, every step of the way.
As her children we didn’t comprehend the scale of her challenges because we never saw her complain, not even in private, about how she was held to a different standard just because she was a woman.
My mother began her political journey as a symbol of hope and resistance to the repressive, regressive, Islamist regime of General Ziaul Haq. He imposed dictatorship, hanged my grandfather – the first democratically elected prime minister – on trumped-up charges, and brutalised Pakistani society under the most authoritarian regime our country has ever seen.
He radicalised Pakistan to such an extent that we are still haunted by his actions today. So aggressive and pervasive was the misogyny that as a result of his extremist legislative rollbacks Pakistan became the first country on earth to revoke rights already granted to women.
Zia’s regime decided that a woman’s worth would be half that of the man in the eyes of the law. It was in this environment that my mother cut her political teeth, and led the political campaign against the regime.
Enduring imprisonment, solitary confinement, exile, assassinations of family members and associates was what she had to live through as a young woman.
A poet of the time encapsulated the patriarchal regime’s fear of my mother quite succinctly: “Dartay hain bandooqon walay, aik nihatti larki sai.” (How the people with guns fear an un-armed girl.)
In 1988 my mother led a nationwide election campaign, wrote a bestselling book, had her first child and became the youngest and first female prime minister of the Muslim world. All in one year! For her detractors this wasn’t good enough. She was unacceptable because she was a woman.
Disregarding her overwhelming popularity and mandate, a public campaign was launched to say Islam did not allow for women to rule.
So-called scholars issued fatwas decreeing that if anyone voted for her their marriage would be null and void. This kind of overt misogyny continued while she was prime minister.
Perhaps most controversially when she was pregnant with my sister, Bakhtawar, her prime ministership was challenged for that fact. There were calls for her dismissal, the setting up of a caretaker government because a pregnant woman had no right to be prime minister. It’s not like the constitution allowed for maternity leave.
My mother, being who she was, took this all in her stride with a smile on her face, had her baby in secret and was back at work the next day. For misogynists, no matter what women do, it was and is never good enough.
When my mother was not married, they would say, “Oh, good women are married, so why isn’t she married?” When she did get married, they would say, “Oh, why did she choose to marry him?” Then they would say, “Why is she not having children?” Then when she did have children, they said, “Oh, why is she always pregnant?”
Growing up we just did not appreciate these challenges. Her final campaign was against the military dictatorship of General Musharraf and the scourge of violent extremism in Pakistan.
She led the long fight against Musharraf, fought consistently for democracy, and advocated for the release of political prisoners, including my father who at this point had spent a collective 11-and-a-half years in prison without a conviction. All the while raising her children as a single mother, lecturing and giving speeches to make a living, making time to have a meal with us every day, taking us to the mosque every Friday, helping us with our homework, and much to our annoyance, never missing PTA meetings!
Driven always by a sense of destiny and a duty to her people, she returned to Pakistan to lead the fight against extremism and dictatorship. In doing so she spoke out against religious fascists with a brand of courage not shown by any of her contemporary male politicians.
Ultimately the forces of dictatorship and extremism robbed me of my mother but she lives on as a symbol of hope, a role model for women across the world. She proved beyond a doubt, with her life and relentless courage, that women can certainly do everything. While the political pygmies who opposed her will be forgotten, she lives on in history as a global icon.
I know every child thinks of their mother as superwoman, I certainly did.