Sunday, March 25, 2018

Video Report - Stormy Daniels says she was threatened to keep quiet about Trump

Hillary Clinton: US does 'not deserve' Trump

By Eli Watkins

Hillary Clinton told a receptive audience over the weekend in India that while she thought President Donald Trump played to some of Americans' worst fears, he does not reflect the country as a whole.
"No, we did not deserve that," Clinton said when asked if the US "deserves" Trump as its leader.
Clinton called the 2016 presidential race the "first reality TV campaign," and said Trump, as a bombastic "reality TV candidate," was able to win over enough of the audience to win the election.
And in comments seized on by the Republican National Committee, Clinton said she had won sections of the country with more economic output and attributed some of Trump's insurgent victory to a series of social and economic anxieties and discriminatory attitudes among his supporters.
    "I won the places that represent two-thirds of America's gross domestic product," Clinton said. "So I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward. And his whole campaign, 'Make America Great Again,' was looking backwards. You know, you didn't like black people getting rights, you don't like women, you know, getting jobs, you don't want to, you know, see that Indian-American succeeding more than you are, whatever your problem is, I'm going to solve it."
    Clinton said there is "the phenomenon of disappointment" about economic outcomes, particularly after the 2008 financial crisis, one of three main areas where she said she sees Americans' fears play out.
    Second, she pointed to "a reaction to advancing opportunities and rights for other groups," citing advancements for African-Americans, the LGBT community and women -- and said the third area was "the reaction against immigrants."
    As for Trump's conduct on the international stage, Clinton pointed to the President's "affinity for dictators," including Russian President Vladimir Putin.
    But when asked if the Russians have anything compromising on Trump, Clinton said, "We'll find out. Follow the money."
    She made clear later in the discussion that she did not know where the special counsel's investigation into Russian election meddling and possible coordination with Trump's team is likely to lead.
    "Whether or not it affects him or just people around him, nobody knows," Clinton said.

    Video - #MarchForOurLives - 🇺🇸 Debate over US gun rights: 'Second Amendment is outdated'

    Video - #MarchForOurLives - 🇺🇸 Trump silent through largest US gun reform protest

    Video - #MarchForOurLives 'Welcome to the revolution': Students across the country rally for gun control reform

    Urdu Ghazal - kya se kya ho gaya dekhte dekhte

    Video Report - #Islamabad Beat #Peshawar to Lift #PSL 3 Trophy

    US adds seven Pakistani companies to export control list

    By Vaqas Asghar

    The US Department of Commerce (DoC) has added seven Pakistani companies to a list of foreign entities that are subject to stringent export control measures.
    The Pakistani companies are among 23 additions to the Entity List of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) which is managed by the DoC’s Bureau of Industry and Security.
    The other companies added to the list include a Singaporean affiliate of a Pakistani company, and 15 entities from troubled South Sudan. The additions were published in the Federal Register on Thursday. The list identifies entities “reasonably believed to be involved, or to pose a significant risk of being or becoming involved, in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States”.
    Three of the companies were listed for “their involvement in the proliferation of unsafeguarded nuclear activities that are contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.”
    Two were found procuring supplies for nuclear-related entities already on the list, and two others are suspected to be fronts for already-listed entities.
    Some media reports suggest that additions could affect Pakistan’s chances of joining the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
    Amid threat of US sanctions, an economic crisis looms
    Although China and Turkey have cited procedural issues in adding new members to the NSG, both have underlined the right of Pakistan to aspire to become a member of the club, which works on the principle of consensus to accept new members. Earlier, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Yukiya Amano said he was highly impressed by the standards Pakistan is maintaining at the various civilian nuclear facilities and installations that he recently visited in Pakistan. Amano, while addressing a seminar in Karachi, told the audience, “Your country [Pakistan] is an experienced user of peaceful nuclear technology.”
    Trump poised to unveil China trade sanctions for theft of US intellectual property
    The IAEA chief, while summing up the visits he made during his three-day trip, said, “Everywhere [I went] it was clear you [Pakistan] have the knowledge and the pool of people who are dedicated to do this job.” While speaking about his visit to the under-construction facilities, the IAEA chief remarked, “You [Pakistan] are taking a lot of care for the safety and security of the plants.” Nuclear neighbours Pakistan and India have both shown interest in being added to the NSG, but both are not signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which is a hurdle as all other members of the export control regimes are part of the NPT. Inclusion in the Entity List is considered the ‘highest level of red-flag’ that there is the US export control regime aimed at preventing misuse or repurposing of American dual-use technology (equipment or technology that can be used for both civilian and non-civilian purposes) for undeclared use, mostly military.
    Entities on this list – businesses, research institutions, government and private organisations, individuals – are required to seek a licence from the US government to purchase items subjected to EAR, which, it is generally presumed, will be denied to them.
    US slaps sanctions on six militants after cutting aid to Pakistan
    Companies listed The Pakistani companies on the list include Akhtar & Munir, which has an office on Adamjee Road in Lahore; Proficient Engineers, which has an office in New Garden Town in Lahore; Pervaiz Commercial Trading Co, with an office in Lahore’s Model Town area. Another company on the list is Engineering and Commercial Services, with an office in F-10 Markaz, Islamabad; and Marine Systems Pvt Ltd, with an office in Blue Area, Islamabad.
    The last two companies have multiple addresses. Mushko Electronics Pvt Ltd has two offices on Abdullah Haroon Road, one on Main Boulevard in Gullberg-III, Lahore, and two separate offices in Blue Area, Islamabad. It also has a Singapore-based affiliate named Mushko Logistics Pte Ltd with four addresses listed, two at Pemimpin Drive one on Pandan Road, and one on Lakeside Drive.
    The last company, Solutions Engineering Pvt Ltd, has been identified as having two aliases – Solutronix Engineering Pvt Ltd, and Solutronix Pvt Ltd. Its listed address include Lahore’s DHA Phase 8, PAF Colony, Begum Salma Tassadaq Road, on The Mall, at Gohawa Dakkhana, Bhatta Kohaar, Lahore, and Sehajpal Village, along with other offices in Islamabad’s F-10 Markaz and at The Mall in Rawalpindi.

    Is Strategic Alliance Between Iran And Pakistan Possible? – Analysis

    By Hesamoddin Hojjatzadeh
    To answer this question, we must first see what the concept of “strategic alliance” is. According to some definitions, those people or countries are called strategic allies, who have commonalities in one of several financial, political, military and cultural fields and are willing to take advantage of each other’s potentialities and achievements in these fields and benefit each other. The key point in a strategic alliance is that while benefitting by that alliance, the two sides must have mutual confidence in each other. It is also assumed that they should not be affected by pressures and suggestions from other parties and should take no steps against their strategic ally.
    For this reason, the two sides aim for long-term and sustainable alliance and close cooperation. An example in this regard is the strategic alliance between the United States and the European Union and between China and Pakistan. However, according to the aforesaid definition, relations between Iran and Pakistan, especially following victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, have not enjoyed needed potential to lead to a strategic alliance between Tehran and Islamabad and even if such a potential has existed, it has not received due attention.

    Background of Iran-Pakistan relations

    Iran and Pakistan are two age-old neighborly countries with many commonalities. The background of their relations dates back to the time when Pakistan was not still an independent state. Before Pakistan became independent of India in 1947, Iran had centuries of relations with the Greater India. Although those relations were marked with many ups and downs, they were mostly cordial in comparison to Iran’s relations with its western neighbors.
    After the independence of Pakistan, then Iranian government was the first country to recognize its independence, and up to the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, relations between Tehran and Islamabad were mostly friendly and close. Since both countries were ruled by Western-backed governments, they both were members of such regional security pacts as the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) and the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). In addition, Pakistan always availed itself of political, military and economic support of Iran’s monarchial regime. A clear example of this was the second Pahlavi king’s firm military and financial support for Pakistan through the 1960s and 1970s during its war with India over Kashmir region and also during separation of East Pakistan and establishment of Bangladesh in 1971. It must be noted that at that time, India was considered as an ally of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
    Following victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, and despite many cultural, historical and ideological commonalities between the two Muslim neighborly countries, then Pakistani government, which was led by General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, felt threatened by the new Islamic establishment in Iran. Therefore, although he apparently lauded Iran as a friend of Pakistan, his government resorted to various methods in order to prevent spread of the ideas of the Iranian version of political Islam in Pakistan, especially spread of those ideas among Pakistani Shias. In doing this, Islamabad was probably under pressure from the United States as well as extremist Salafist groups, which had gotten quite close to Pakistani government and army. General Zia did not stop at that point and harbored a number of separatist leaders and activists from Iran’s Baluchestan region. He also covertly and overtly supported then Iraqi government in its eight-year war against Iran to show that his government is a good agent for the United States’ anti-Iran policies in the region.
    The policy of confrontation with Iran did not stop after Zia’s sudden death in 1988, but changed ways. New Pakistani leaders – both military (like General Pervez Musharraf) and nonmilitary (like Benazir Bhutto and Muhammad Nawaz Sharif) – tried to get closer to Iran and show a more positive image of Pakistan to Iranian people and statesmen by giving promises about more cooperation with Iran in fighting extremism and terrorism along the two countries’ common border. However, those promises did not go beyond mere lip service.

    Are conditions ripe for strategic alliance between Iran and Pakistan?

    During recent years, Pakistan’s relations with the United States have been clearly tense and choppy due to escalation of differences between the two sides following the assassination of former leader of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, in Pakistan’s Abbottabad on the suburbs of Islamabad in May 2011. In parallel to tension in Islamabad’s relations with Washington, Pakistani officials have launched an effort to bolster political, military and economic relations with regional rivals of the United States. As a result, they have started serious interactions and negotiations with Russia, China and Iran and have concluded large-scale contracts with these countries, which may appear to be a positive development on the surface. However, this cooperation would only lead to a strategic alliance between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan and would meet the interests of Tehran if it were based on goodwill and mutual trust rather than being tactical and of a temporary nature. The existing evidence shows that this is a good time for a change in attitude toward Iran by Pakistan’s government, and more importantly, by the country’s army and intelligence agency, the ISI.
    At the present time, strategic relations between Pakistan and its most important strategic ally, that is, the United States, are deteriorating and are marred by the highest level of tensions as a result of which economic and military aid by Washington to Islamabad has come to a practical halt. The administration of US President Donald Trump has threatened the government of Pakistan with a host of punitive measures, including economic sanctions and arms embargo, over what Washington calls lack of a serious resolve on the part of Islamabad to fight militant and terrorist groups based in this country. At the same time, steps taken by Pakistani officials during recent months to reduce tensions in relations with Washington have proven to be futile. The most important of those measures were hosting the American Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis in late September 2017 and freedom of Canadian-American hostages by the ISI in cooperation with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from captivity of Haqqani Network in late October 2017. In addition, due to the US pressure, Pakistan will be possibly put on the blacklist of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in 2018.
    Under these conditions and at a time that Iran seemed to be willing to boost strategic cooperation with India over important political and security issues in the region and to develop economic and trade ties with New Delhi, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan Army, paid a sudden visit to Iran in November 2017. The visit to Iran by the highest-ranking military official of Pakistan was meant to send two different messages to Washington and New Delhi. First of all, it was a warning to the United States at a time that war of words is at its highest between Tehran and Washington. Pakistan wants to tell the United States that if it does not pay due attention to Islamabad’s geopolitical demands and considerations in the region, Pakistan will continue to get close to Iran, especially in political and security fields. The second message is to India by reminding new Delhi that it if continues to develop relations with Iran in economic, trade and security fields, Pakistan may do the same with China, which is the archrival of India in this region, and this would not be a favorable development for India.
    In the meantime, Iran has shown that based on its strategic policy of maintaining balance in relations, especially with neighboring countries, it has no plan to be caught in exhausting regional rivalries by taking sides with one party to those rivalries against another. This is also true in the case of Pakistan and India.

    Proposed solutions

    In view of all considerations and benefits of expanded economic, political and cultural interactions between Tehran and Islamabad, the following solutions are proposed for the two countries to move toward establishment of strategic relations:
    1. If Pakistan expects the Islamic Republic of Iran to respect Islamabad’s considerations in its relations with New Delhi, its officials must distance from certain slogans and partiality in their relations with the Persian Gulf littoral states. In doing so, they will prove in practice that they are committed to the principle of balance in their relations with Iran and Iran’s hostile rivals in the region, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. To achieve this goal, reducing military and intelligence cooperation between Pakistan and the aforesaid two countries, including within framework of the so-called Saudi-led anti-terrorism coalition, is a priority.
    2. Pakistan and Iran can work together to resolve major regional crises or at least reduce untoward effects of those crises, including the war in Afghanistan, just in the same way that Iran is currently cooperating relatively well with Russia, China and India in this regard. However, the Pakistani side must not expect Iran to give priority to Pakistan’s interests in such regions as Afghanistan or Kashmir, and in doing so, distance from the principle of balance in its foreign policy.
    3. It is a reality that during past decades and through its economic and trade interactions with Iran, Pakistan has always tied to undertake the least cost and restrict its interactions with Iran in these fields. In order to establish a successful strategic relation with Tehran, Islamabad must first change its approach to economic agreements it has signed with Tehran. At the top of those agreements is the one, which has been signed for the construction of the Iran–Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline. Since that agreement was signed, Pakistan has refrained from implementing its share of this key regional project under the pretext of its high cost and perhaps under pressure from the United States. On the opposite, the country is bent on going ahead with construction of the Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline (TAPI), which is supposed to transfer natural gas from Turkmenistan and through Afghanistan and Pakistan to India. Avoiding such double standards is necessary to boost cooperation between Iran and Pakistan.
    4. Pakistan is well aware that the huge project started to develop Iran’s Chabahar port with financial and technical support of India will greatly help economic and trade prosperity of the region and even the entire world. The same can be said about development of Pakistan’s Gwadar port through investment by China. Therefore, even the Chinese are sure to welcome development of Iran’s Chahbahar port. As a result, it would be beneficial to Islamabad to take necessary measures – with the help of Beijing – for connecting these two important ports, which enjoy a special geostrategic position along the coasts of the Sea of Oman and the Indian Ocean. Even Iranian experts can take part in the development of Gwadar port, if allowed by Pakistani officials, and such measures will certainly be major strides toward further cementing of a strategic alliance between Pakistan and Iran.
    5. In cultural and historical terms, Pakistan is considered as part and parcel of the “Iranian culture,” which covers a wide geographical expanse from China to Southeastern Europe. The common cultural heritage of Iran and Pakistan, including Urdu language and multitude of Persian words that are used in this language, is extremely rich. Therefore, if the two governments and the two countries’ nongovernmental organizations make finical and research investment in this field, it would be a long step that could provide grounds for further proximity between the two nations and governments. On the other hand, experts in Iranian cultural heritage and archeology can make arrangements with Pakistani officials to reconstruct those buildings and historical sites, which have been left behind in various parts of Pakistan by Persian-speaking dynasties, after conducting necessary studies and repair measures.

    Pakistan honors late human rights icon Asma Jahangir

    Pakistan has conferred the country's highest civilian award on Asma Jahangir, the human rights icon who died in February. DW talks to Pakistani women who are continuing Jahangir's legacy in a male-dominated society.
    Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain on Friday awarded 141 Pakistani citizens and foreign nationals for their extraordinary services in many fields, including science, literature, arts, sports and media. These honors are given every year on March 23, which the country celebrates as "Pakistan Day."
    Asma Jahangir, Pakistan's most prominent human rights activist, who died of cardiac arrest on February 11, received the "Nishan-e-Pakistan" (Symbol of Pakistan) award for her relentless struggle to promote democracy and advocate human rights. 
    Born in Lahore in 1952, Jahingir braved death threats, beatings and, at one time, claimed Pakistan's much-feared Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency was trying to murder her.
    Jahangir was an outspoken critic of Pakistan's powerful military establishment. She was placed under house arrest in 1983 and later jailed for campaigning for the restoration of democracy. Years later, she was detained again by the government of then military ruler Pervez Musharraf.
    Pakistani rights activists have hailed the incumbent government's decision to honor Jahangir's services, but there is also a sense of concern in Pakistan that not many women in the South Asian country can carry Jahangir's legacy forward. 
    Women's rights – now and then
    Jahangir's struggle was also against patriarchy and male domination in Pakistan. There is very limited space for women in politics and social activism, and in the 1980s, when Jahangir gained prominence for her work as a lawyer and activist, the social outlook was even grimmer for Pakistani women.
    "The Women's Action Forum [which Jahangir helped establish] was formed in the 1980s during a dark period in Pakistan's history. General Zia-ul Haq had overthrown a democratically-elected government and hanged then Prime Minister Zulfiaqr Ali Bhutto. There was a ban on political parties and the media was facing censorship," Nasreen Azhar, a veteran human rights activist in Islamabad, told DW.
    "Women were at the forefront of the pro-democracy struggle," Azhar added.
    Azhar says that 36 years on, Pakistan legislators are more responsive to human rights and have passed many pro-women laws.
    "Today, the real threat is not from the state but from non-state actors and groups that are using religion to gain political space," she added.
    But Ramish Fatima, a blogger, says despite some improvements as a result of efforts by senior feminists like Jahnagir and Azhar, things are not easy for today's general of women activists.
    "A majority of people in Pakistan don't take women's opinions seriously. Social media users often remind me that my following and readership has something to do with my sex and not because of my ideas and writings," Fatima added.
    "Many women are still not allowed to receive formal education and they don't have access to health care facilities simply because men don't think it is necessary for women. Domestic violence and sexual harassment in the workplace are also rampant in Pakistan," she told DW.

    Video Report - Opposition leader Sherry Rehman also supporter of Peshawar Zalmi

    I'm here to change my community's destiny, says Pakistan's first transgender news anchor Marvia

    Marvia Malik is believed to be Pakistan's first trangender news anchor
    Marvia Malik is believed to be Pakistan's first trangender news anchor
    A local news channel claims to have made history by hiring the country’s first transgender news anchor.
    Having aired for the first time 10 years ago, Kohenoor News re-launched on Friday with an elaborate ceremony where it also announced its hiring of transgender individual Marvia Malik as a news anchor – apparently a first in Pakistan’s media history.
    The response to this initiative could be gauged from the appreciation it has received on social media with tweets and video messages by scores of people including renowned journalists and TV personalities.

    Who is Marvia Malik?

    Lahore-based Marvia, not Maavia as she's been called before, is confident, determined, ambitious and goal-oriented.
    She has a bachelors degree and has now applied for admission to a masters of arts programme. She claims to have read the basics of journalism and civics and has already dabbled in modelling; she recently made headlines by walking the runway at the PFDC fashion week in Lahore earlier this month.
    Marvia made her runway debut at the recently held PSFW in Lahore
    Marvia made her runway debut at the recently held PSFW in Lahore
    “I have several modelling offers that I’m considering, but I want to do something for my community that I feel is way behind. So I want to strengthen my people. Everywhere we go, a transgender person is looked down upon. But there’s nothing we can’t do; we’re educated, have degrees, but no opportunities, no encouragement. This is what I want to change. Just as I created history in the fashion industry, I want to do the same in the media industry.”
    Marvia says she had made up her mind as a child that she doesn’t want to end up where her fellow transgenders do: dancing on the streets, begging, selling their bodies. She wanted to become either a journalist or a lawyer.
    “The story of every transgender is the same whether they beg on the street or end up becoming the prime minister; we all suffer: our families disown us, beat us up. It’s the same for me. I worked really hard to be where I am – worked at parlours (eventually becoming a trained make-up artist), did odd jobs, but refused to beg or dance. I wanted to make a name for myself and eventually for my community. My family only helped me till my matriculation, but I supported myself for intermediate and graduation.”
    "There’s nothing transgender people can’t do; we’re educated, have degrees, but no opportunities, no encouragement. I want to change this." — Marvia Malik
    All her life she has faced abuse of all kinds, which Marvia claims has made her stronger as a person and in her resolve. So determined was she to make a name for herself that during her two-year intermediate from a boys’ college, she ignored every comment, every remark that came her way with her head held high.
    She strongly feels the transgender community has not been supported despite several tall claims by authorities. “Pakistan has been independent for so long, yet we don’t have the same rights as any other individual in the country. Only claims have been made and promises of quota in government jobs, but nothing has come out of it.”
    Marvia admits she's getting more attention and respect than any fresh news anchor at the channel
    Marvia admits she's getting more attention and respect than any fresh news anchor at the channel
    Marvia has another plan too. She wants to push for a law making mandatory for families to give transgender persons their share in property as a boy or girl is. “Transgenders are forced to dance and beg because they have no other means to make ends meet. When they are shunned by families, they have nowhere else to go. My trans friends who have masters degrees don’t have jobs which is why they end up on streets or become sex workers. This is why I want to push for a law so a transgender, if disowned, can make a living out of the share in property.”
    About landing the job at Kohenoor News and the experience so far, Marvia says she applied when positions were advertised, came in for an interview over three months ago and was hired the same day. “The channel management told me the same day they wanted to support me and my community and help us get our rights and an honourable place in society. The three-month training also went like a breeze because everyone is so friendly, loving and helpful. It feels like home here at work; I feel they’re all my family because I never got a family’s love. Even the experienced anchors helped me a lot.”
    Marvia tells us she’s receiving the same salary, perks and privileges that any fresh news anchor at the channel would, but is getting much more attention and respect than everyone else.
    "The three-month training at Kohenoor News went like a breeze because everyone is so friendly, loving and helpful. It feels like home here at work; I feel they’re all my family because I never got a family’s love." — Marvia
    Sharing her thought about survival as a trans person, Marvia says for over a year she’s been troubled by the fact that as a child they’re not accepted by their family, on the streets society doesn’t accept them despite becoming its source of entertainment, in old age one has to work as domestic worker and after death their burial is a struggle because they’re essentially a disowned body and the community has to collect funds for burial.
    “I don’t want to die like this. My circumstances have made me confident and bold. I have set out on this journey to change lives of transgenders. Like I said earlier, there is no difference in the life and story of any transgender in this country. There is only one reason: family acceptance. If that property law gets promulgated I can guarantee no family will ever disown a trans child.”
    She firmly believes that only one’s skill and talent should serve as criteria for job recruitment. “Gender ka kya hai? Kapron mein sab kuch chhup jaata hai (What is gender? Everything is eventually concealed under your clothes). We only need to change our mentality and everything else will change itself. I’m here to change my community’s destiny, not represent myself as an individual.”
    As a parting note, she recites a verse summing up the difference between society’s approach and of those with a positive attitude. “Neak ne neak samjha, bad ne bad samjha. Jis ka jitna zarf tha us ne utna samjha.

    Is hiring Marvia the first step in normalising trans people in the media?

    Kohenoor News' News Director Bilal Ashraf told Images that they wanted to relaunch the channel with a different approach and work for social causes instead of depending on the monotonous formula other channels are employing. Marvia’s application for a job was organic while advertising positions for the relaunch, he added.
    The channel’s chief executive offer, Junaid Mahmood Ansari, added that he had never planned to take such an initiative, but when they received the job application, he did not see a reason why he shouldn’t give her a job if she fulfilled the criteria.
    "After Marvia received a positive response from us, she encouraged her educated community members to also apply. We ended up hiring another transgender person, Veena, on the copy editing desk because why not?” — Bilal Ashraf, Kohenoor News News Director
    Ashraf said they called her in for an interview, considered her education, abilities and the spark in her as we would with anyone else and just opened the door to her and her community because: “We didn’t want to discriminate on the basis of gender. After she received a positive response from us, she encouraged her educated community members who also applied. Besides Marvia, we ended up hiring another transgender person, Veena, on the copy editing desk because why not?”
    Ansari said Marvia and Veena’s hiring translated into a long-term campaign by the channel called #RastaDijiye to ensure transgender rights. “I want to use this platform to work for people’s problems and society at large. There’s a lot much more to this campaign than the hiring of transgenders. We want to take this forward and set an example. And we hope other channels and organisations follow suit not just for ratings, but genuinely accept and help this community and other underprivileged sections of society.”
    He brushes off the negative online reactions to his decision of opening doors to transgender people, saying he would continue doing his job and opening avenues to anyone who is educated and capable.

    #Pakistan - #PashtunTahafuzMovement - Manzoor Pashteen - First among equals

    Manzoor Pashteen, the leader of the PTM, is charismatic and brave, but is that enough for the state to grant Pashtuns the right to life?
    When Manzoor Pashteen gets nervous, his right eyebrow twitches. It’s almost unnoticeable; he himself claims to be unaware of it. He is also fidgety when he becomes nervous, especially with his hands. When television anchors expect him to prove his Pakistaniat, his patriotism — a hoop all marginalised communities are made to jump through before they are heard — you can hear the sustained tick tick, tick tick of the ball point pen in his hand.
    Off camera, during his talks, when he is interrupted  he uses his hands to wave down the chanters, the sloganeers. This is because he’s not a speaker who riles up the crowd using anger. His style is more bayaaniya — he will tell you stories that shrink and expand your heart, and make you understand how human the Pashtun pain is, how universal their demands are.
    Pashteen, the leader of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), has not taken centre-stage to ask for separation; on the contrary, his demand is inclusion. He’s not here to ask for a change in the Constitution; he simply demands that the Constitution be upheld in FATA. His demands are basic: justice for the murder of Naqeebullah Mehsud; the formation of a judicial commission to investigate police encounters; the demining of FATA; a reduction of military curfews and check-posts in the tribal areas; and the return of the thousands of missing Pashtuns that are allegedly held by the army and its intelligence services. The formal list of missing people that the PTM has compiled has 1,200 names.
    “We are not out here to ask for money, or schools, or even roads, our basic demand is the right to life,” he tells me during a series of phone conversations between us. According to the 24-year-old who is the eldest among his seven siblings, currently there is no certainty to life in his hometown in the Sarwakai district of South Waziristan Agency or other tribal agencies. “This is why we are protesting, we want the right to live without being disappeared, without losing limbs to landmines, without being shot in murky police encounters, without being abused and humiliated at every check-post,” he says to me. “Are my demands unconstitutional? Don’t you already have all these rights?”
    When Pashteen speaks, you listen. At first I thought it was just me who was spellbound by his stories, hanging on to every word. But looking around, at a student rally in Garden Town Lahore, and then at a discussion at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) earlier this month, I realised that Pashteen’s storytelling abilities are at par with those of Scheherazade. After all both storytellers tell tales for the same reason: to stay alive.
    Manzoor Pashteen tells heartbreaking tales, in the simplest possible language. He talks of mothers who have missing sons. Of how it feels to see a mountain of burnt books, Babylon style.
    Pashteen tells heartbreaking tales, in the simplest possible language. He talks of mothers who have missing sons. Of a 7-year-old girl who saw her mother being shot to death. Of how it feels to see a mountain of burnt books, Babylon style. Of families whose bodies were attacked and obliterated by drones, to such an extent that when the father wanted to piece his children together he had to sit down and think about which finger matches which palm. He tells stories about families that lost homes to bombardments and had no option but to set up camp under the shade of keekar trees, only to lose their daughter’s life to a snake that shared their camp.
    But along with the logos — the cold hard facts — he also brings pathos, in the form of humour, to the table. Once your heart is heavy and devoid of hope, Pashteen will reveal his naughtier side and take a dig at someone. One of the devices that Pashteen uses is that of apophasis. This is when the speaker brings up a subject by denying that it should be brought up. Ideal for rhetoric in Pakistan. At a speech in Lahore, he says, “I won’t speak about how when we came back to our villages we saw our houses destroyed and the bricks of our houses used to build the Army Hospital. It might be dangerous to speak about this, so I won’t.”
    He does it again on TV when a journalist grills him about his demand of relaxing the number of check-posts in FATA. “I won’t talk about the hanky-panky and double dealing that goes on at these check points. It might be dangerous,” says Pashteen. Even the grizzly journalist succumbs, and smiles.
    Pashteen’s stories are not unheard. Unless you consciously chose to have your head in the sand, you would know about the brutality of the Frontier Crimes Regulations, the collective punishments, the landmines and so on. But then what is it that makes Pashteen’s retelling so moving?
    One of his listeners, Rabia Saeed, a Lahore-based student whose family hails from the Orakzai Agency, has a few ideas about why Pashteen’s bayaan deepened her sorrow but lessened her pain.
    “Pashteen made my hurt, our hurt as a community, real. I’ve heard these stories before, but I didn’t know that I was allowed to discuss them in public, nor did I know that I was allowed to feel pain about these stories,” she says. “The death and brutality were just facts of our lives. Pashteen turned them into tales that can be retold and spread.”
    Pashteen says that for the last 16 years, talking about their trauma was a taboo, which he has finally broken.
    In school Pashteen had the reputation of being an all-out nerd. Once accepted to Gomal Univeristy in Bannu for an MA in veterinary sciences, when Pashteen decided to run for president of the Tribal Students Organization in 2014, the buzz was that he’s not popular enough to be president. “He sacrifices his sleep to study, he’s too much,” they said. In his defense, he says his father, a schoolteacher, would teach him at night after completing his day’s work, and that is how his night-time studying habit formed, he says at a lecture at LUMS.
    But why veterinary studies, I ask him. Does he have a particular interest in animals? In response, the leader of a movement — that is “an affirmation of life in the midst of death,” according to academic-activist Ammar Ali Jan — placidly says: “Walid sahib ney kaha tha, toh hum nay karliya,” [My father said I should do veterinary studies, so I did].
    Pashteen’s father dissuaded him when he began campaigning and creating awareness for Pashtun rights, in 2014. But he thinks that secretly his father was happy and proud. Apart from the pressure Pashteen felt from his family and villagers, there was pressure to stop demanding the right to Pashtun life from colleagues as well.
    It was after securing presidency of the Tribal Leaders Organization that Pashteen really began his career as a human rights activist. He organised the only way he knew: door-to-door. He knocked on tribal students’ doors to ask for support in raising a united voice for Pashtuns. They told him he was paagal [mad]. “You should go see a psychologist, they said” says Pashteen at LUMS. “Whenever Pashtuns have demanded their rights, they’ve been shot dead. You are nothing but the son of a common school teacher, you have no power behind you.”
    They began helping people get over their fear of speaking truth to power by holding study circles. Then they expanded to small jalsas, protests at Haq Nawaz Park in D I Khan, demonstrations in Bannu; at that time, they were still only known as the Mehsud Tahaffuz Movement (MTM).
    And then after four years of slow but steady activism, a few arrests and threats, arrived a catalyst — in the form of Naqeebullah Mehsud’s untimely and unfair murder. Everyone connects Pashteen’s popularity to Naqeebullah’s murder, but very few know that Pashteen had already chalked out the Islamabad Long March in the December of 2017, a month before Naqeebullah was killed.
    There was something about Naqeebullah, his social media persona or maybe his aspirations to be a model that gripped not just Pashtun heartstrings, but those of the nation at large. So when Pashteen announced a jalsa and connected it to Naqeebullah, this time not in the tribal agencies or its surrounding areas, but in Islamabad, people came out in droves.
    At the start of the ten-day sit in, journalists ignored it. Politicians looked the other way. But eventually the 6,000 non-violent protestors outside the National Press Club, in February 2018, could not be ignored. The jalsa no longer represented only the Mehsuds, so from MTM, the movement became Pakhtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM). Political parties came to give their haazri and eventually the government came too. They agreed to fulfill PTM’s demands and the jalsa dispersed.
    The jalsa dispersed from Islamabad on Feb 10 but in the hearts of Pashtuns, the awakening had just begun. So the PTM and Pashteen have been holding jalsas and events in Lahore, D I Khan, Quetta, Killa Saifullah, Peshawar and all over social media. After 16 years of war and oppression, they have found a leader who looks like them, dresses like them and most importantly, dares to speak their truth.
    Pashteen is not the only Pashtun leader who has risen in the last decade or so. To say that would be to erase the history of so many brave Pashtuns. Take Ali Wazir for example. He is vocal about the oppression of FATA, and has paid the price of losing 17 family members. But while Ali’s hurt is fiery and angry, Pashteen’s is calm and controlled. Pashteen doesn’t make his pain about himself, the PTM is about humanity at large; they have invited all the historically oppressed to his movement: Baloch, Hazara, women, and all Pashtun regardless of their tribe.
    And they have all come running. When Pashteen arrived at Killa Saifullah earlier this month, he was greeted like a rockstar. While walking up to the stage, the crowd love-surged towards Pashteen so ferociously that his posse had to hold hands and make a human chain around him for protection.
    Pashteen is articulate, educated, and fearless, but that’s not all. His appeal is also cultivated through details. For instance, the clothing he chooses. The red-and-black hat that he won’t be seen without has developed its own legend: it’s said that Pashteen received it from a labourer in his hometown. Now, his followers, including PkMAP’s Hashim Khan, don the Pashteen-hat with pride.
    A close friend of Pashteen’s, Raza Wazir, says that his appeal comes from the work he has done at the grassroots level. When no one was working for the Pashtuns, it was Pashteen who was recording the names of the those who had been forcibly disappeared, or those dead by landmines. “He was providing food and ration to families that had lost everything,” says Raza. But Pashteen’s true appeal, in Raza’s opinion, lies in his vast vision. “Most leaders work for their village, their tehsil, their tribe. Pashteen invited all Pashtuns,” he says. “And made them feel welcomed, important and heard.”
    Pashteen can’t say why he is receiving this attention. He does say that he derives his energy from the mothers whose sons are missing and fights for their right to life. “Laapata is such a small worthless word. It doesn’t carry the pain of a missing family member,” he says. “When your son is laapata, your trauma has no wound so it can never heal.”
    Pashteen claims to not have any mentors. When I ask him who he looks up to, he laughs awkwardly. “You are right, most leaders do have someone to look up to, but everyone we looked up to has been killed,” he says. He’s speaking of FATA’s local masharaan [leaders]. In his stories, Pashteen pays homage to how they continued to dare to speak truth to power — despite knowing the costs — until there were no masharaan left. He says instead of learning from books of philosophy or literature, he has learnt from his own experiences of living in a warzone.
    In a recent opinion piece, he says that people tell him to read the history of Pashtun people, to prevent repeating the same mistakes. A friend recently gifted him Dr King’s A letter from Birmingham Jail. But he hasn’t yet found time to crack it open. He says, instead, perhaps it’s time for the Pashtun to make history of their own. Since the pain is their own, only they know the prescription.
    He doesn’t think that no one can replace him, nor does he care about who leads the PTM to success, as long as Pashtuns are awarded the right to live. In this sense, he can be regarded less as a leader, and more as the first among equals.
    According to journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai, the army is watching the PTM and Pashteen closely. “They aren’t acting yet because perhaps they are waiting for Pashteen and his excitable colleagues to make a mistake themselves.”
    Activists are not politicians; they aren’t trained about what they shouldn’t say to the media. Already, the PTM has made some mistakes. In Killa Saifullah, earlier this month, Pashteen and others were booked for raising anti-army slogans.
    A second fear for PTM is pressure from Pashtun ethno-nationalist parties. At first, they supported him and the Pashtun Long March, but now, Yusufzai says, they may be feeling threatened by the PTM. “Just last week a member of the PTM, Mohsin Dawar, who is also a member of the ANP, was removed from ANP’s youth committee. He was told that since he is part of another [PTM] group he can’t hold a position in the ANP,” says Yusufzai.
    On his part, Pashteen negates the idea of him entering parliamentary politics. But who is to say that in the upcoming election, the PTM won’t garner support for certain parties over others? Already, under coercive pressure from television talk show hosts, Pashteen has admitted that on a personal level he wishes FATA to be merged with KP.
    Yusufzai also predicts “in the future, there may be infighting in the PTM, especially at the tribal level”.
    But even with these fears looming large, PTM’s demands are steadily being met. The demining of South Waziristan has begun. Rao Anwar was arrested last week. Although the naysayers say the arrest has nothing to do with PTM, many such as Yusufzai and activist Jibran Nasir believe that PTM’s pressure had a lot to do with Anwar’s arrest. Even disappeared Pashtuns are being sent home, others are being presented in court. The numbers are small, mere hundreds in light of the missing thousands. But it’s a start.
    In another life Pashteen would’ve opted to be an Air Force Pilot, but when he saw the Air Force dropping bombs on him, he gave up that dream. Then he thought, maybe the system could be changed from the inside? He thought about joining the Public Service Commission and even took the exam, he scored a 150 — you only need 124 to be called in for an interview.
    Unfortunately, the date of the interview clashed with a national event he had arranged — the Long March — and he chose consciously.
    “I wish I had a chance to live a normal life, who doesn’t?” he says. “Your capability is one thing, but the halaat around you also define your life choices.” Recently he’s made another choice he wishes he didn’t have to. His baby girl is one month old, but he hasn’t been able to carve out time to sit with his family and choose a name for her.


    Arrest warrants have been issued for Tehreek-e-Labbaik leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi, and other absconding suspects in the Faizabad sit-in case, by an Islamabad Anti-Terrorism Court. The Supreme Court is also hearing a case against him relating to the November 2017 violent “dharna” that disrupted life in Islamabad and Rawalpindi for 20 days. The top court, especially, has expressed great interest in learning how Rizvi managed to cause so much suffering to the general public while also establishing a nascent political party that is already winning more votes in by-elections than the established Pakistan Peoples Party.
    Shockingly, no one appears to know much about Rizvi, least of all the intelligence agencies that should have started keeping tabs on him after his Labbaik brought Lahore to a standstill in 2016 after the hanging of Salmaan Taseer’s murderer, Mumtaz Qadri. Despite being an absconder, he continues to stage rallies, even threatening to bring the government to a standstill once more if it does not fully implement the Faizabad agreement by April 1. Even the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate claims ignorance, perhaps finding it routine that absconders in Pakistan rarely bother to appear in court. After all, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Imran Khan, as well as most of the leaders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, have pending cases that they refuse to face, continuously rebuffing court summons and defying arrest-warrants.
    All this is perhaps “normal” because it relates to the nature of a sick state whose writ is thin in most of its territory. Former president Pervez Musharraf managed to duck out of treason case and was able to leave the county while having his name on the Exit Control List. Somebody just let him go. When he had to return to renew his expired passport, someone at the Pakistani embassy in Dubai renewed it. Former ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani, also facing a treason case, was also able to leave Pakistan despite having his name on the same ECL.
    Rather than facing the ongoing collapse of its writ, the state seems far more convulsed about the alleged blasphemy committed by the changing of a single word in the text of the oath administered to all members of parliament. It should, perhaps, focus more on how its governance—or lack thereof—increasingly resembles that of “failed states” Somalia and Afghanistan.