Monday, June 4, 2018

#Pakistan - #PTI’s pandering to the religious right. We should all be worried

Farhan Janjua
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has entered the battlefield with full force ahead of the general election 2018 and isn’t keeping its ambitions to secure right wing votes a secret. PTI wants to play the holier than thou game even if it has to pander to the murderous narrative of extremist parties such as the Tehreek i Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).
Here are six instances that have worried even the well-meaning supporters of the PTI.
Recommendation of Orya Maqbool Jan as Punjab’s caretaker CM
Amidst much confusion in the party, its Opposition Leader in Punjab Mehmoodur Rasheed has insisted that Orya Maqbool Jan is still one of the recommendations made by his party. Orya is notorious for his pro-Taliban, anti-minority, misogynistic, violence-inciting and pro-TLP stances. He not only praised TLP leader Khadim Rizvi during sit-ins against the government, he publicly announced full support.
In his prime time show, he not only declared bloggers arrested last year as blasphemers but also called for their executions.
The party first made its ambition known last year when its ally and Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed on a TV show discussed how Mumtaz Qadri, the murderer of Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer had emerged as a political force and how that ‘huge vote bank’ will help Imran Khan. Here’s the video if you don’t believe it.
The maverick TV presenter Aamir Liaquat is now in PTI. In April, he actively used his TV platform to incite violence against Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) leaders and went so far as calling them Indian agents and blasphemers.
Even though the party spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry said it was Aamir Liaquat’s personal opinion, Liaquat persisted on his actions.
In Sialkot, a PTI ticket holder led demolition of an Ahmadi worship place
In May 2018, the person who led the mob to destroy an Ahmadi place of worship (also a historic site) in Sialkot was a PTI supporter. Hamid Raza along with TLP operatives destroyed the site and openly took responsibility for it. The PTI later distanced itself from Raza but there is clear evidence such as photos with the leader Imran Khan, local level party activism and contesting election from PTI platform.

PTI leader fanning sectarian conflict to prove how big of an ‘Aashiq-e-Rasool’ he is
Everyone remembers Aamir Liaquat’s dramatic exit from his own show Ramazan mei Bol after one of the clerics, Qari Khalilur Rehman objected to Liaquat’s implication that Dr Zakir Naik was blasphemer. The next few days Dr Liaquat along with fellow Berlavi clerics continued targeting the Salafi sect saying it was ‘disrespectful’ to the religious personalities including the Prophet (PBUH). The stunt backfired and Aamir Liaquat had to face massive criticism including from party supporters on social media and he ended up apologising and bringing back the Salafi cleric.
Possible alliance with TLP
Aamir Liaquat in his Friday’s show discussed with the TLP’s Lahore candidate Allama Khizrul Islam who appeared in his show as one of the clerics how PTI and TLP would work together. The cleric nodded saying they can definitely work with PTI. Imran Khan had earlier tried to please the TLP by attending the Khatm e Nabuvvat conference last year.

#Pakistan - Bilawal Bhutto to vie for NA-246, files nomination papers

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is all set to contest the upcoming election on NA-246.
He submitted his nomination form through his counsel, Farooq Naek, to the returning officer of District South on Monday.
Candidates have begun filing their nomination papers. Monday is the first day. The exercise will continue till June 8. The list of candidates will be displayed on June 8.
Pakistan polls its next government into power on July 25.

Pashtun protests a test for Pakistan’s democracy

Maria Bastos 

The state has been openly hostile towards the Pashtun Tahafuz movement — the right to protest must be protected.

PAKISTAN is set to go to the polls on July 25th. Trusting the general elections will go ahead, they will mark an important step towards strengthening the country’s democratic process. But there is still much more to be done: democracy is not confined to the ballot box. Despite the progress made in the past decade, Pakistan continues to be bewitched by an array of partially real, partially imagined threats. The figures at very top of Pakistani society have spun a powerful narrative of a nation under constant attack, which dismisses any criticism or dissent as either ‘foreign influence’ or ‘anti-patriotic’ politics; a tactic that has been deployed in response to protests by the country’s ethnic minority communities. How Pakistan responds to these nascent movements is as much a test case for democracy as the forthcoming elections. 
Pakistan is slowly moving away from a decade that was marked by a wave of terrorism. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, a website that monitors terrorism across the region, civilian deaths from terrorist attacks have fallen from 3000 in 2013 to 540 in 2017. Indiscriminate attacks have posed a constant challenge for the state, and civilians have paid the price of the country’s unconditional support for the United States-led ‘war on terror’. Only after a ruthless attack on a school in Peshawar in 2014 which killed 132 pupils has the government made a decisive turn towards a fully-fledged counterterrorism strategy, with the aim of eliminating once and for all the menace that has left severe open wounds across the country.
One of those open wounds can be located within the Pashtun community. Pashtuns live predominantly in the north-west regions that border Afghanistan, which includes the federally administrative tribal areas and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Since 1979, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the populations of these regions have been engulfed by state-led conflicts. A guerrilla war that served Pakistan and US designs against the Soviets, fuelled radicalisation, and perpetuated colonial-style rule, created the conditions for two of Pakistan’s most underdeveloped regions to be further marginalised.
Pashtuns have been demonised as violent extremists, traffickers, and Taliban sympathisers. Pashtun students have been profiled by security forces and have been subject to harassment and abuse, which, in the case of Mashal Khan back in 2017, ended with his brutal assassination at the hands of religious extremists. Several hundreds of Pashtuns have been reported missing; earlier this year, a UN human rights body said it had received over 700 reports of enforced disappearances in Pakistan. The promised dignity that democratic rule brings to all citizens has not been experienced by Pashtuns or by most of Pakistanis in general.
After decades of being misunderstood, dehumanised, deprived by the state, Pashtuns are finally awakening, peacefully. A new social movement known as PTM, or Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (Pashtun Protection Movement), formed in 2014, has organised several protests to demand dignity and rights not just for themselves but all Pakistanis. PTM is demanding what, by definition, a functional democratic state must guarantee to all her citizens.
Reactions to PTM are conferring the movement a crescent legitimacy. The top military leadership classified PTM as a movement supported by ‘foreign forces’ and an obstacle to their fight against terrorism. More recently, attempts to link PTM to the Taliban have been circulated on social media, which the organisation denies. The right to protest and to demand human rights and dignity should not be equated with army efforts to bring peace and stability to Pakistan. PTM, like any other citizen, or civilian group, has the right to be critical of the military.
The English-language media within Pakistan have covered PTM’s protests, however, they reach only a fraction of the population. TV channels, however, have not covered the protests seemingly due to ‘self-imposed’ censorship from above. Karachi’s PTM gathering in May was disrupted hundreds of miles away, with the movement’s leader being barred from boarding two flights, first in Islamabad, and, some hours later, in Lahore. Political leaders from main parties like PPP or PML-N, perhaps motivated by the upcoming elections, have voiced their concerns on attempted censorship of the PTM.
Social movements are constitutive of every democratic society, and play an important role in making them more just and progressive. Parliament’s recent decision to merge the federally administered tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is a step in the right direction to bring constitutional rights to all citizens in Pakistan. The existence of a social movement borne in a region where democracy and constitutional rights were a mirage is a sign that young people in Pakistan’s most remote regions are eager to be part of democratic processes.
Although the army’s anti-terrorism campaign has been successful in reducing the number of attacks, it must acknowledge that it’s past errors have contributed to the marginalisation of ethnic communities like the Pashtuns. Secondly, the military must come to terms with the fact that democracy grows out of the right to protest. If it continues to see democracy only in the narrow terms of the ballot box, the dream of a fully democratic Pakistan will not be realised.

#StopUsingTalibanAgainstPTM - #Pashtun activists killed in #Pakistan, blame militants and security forces

Saud Mehsud, Jibran Ahmad

Several Pashtun ethnic rights activists were killed and at least 25 were wounded in a Pakistan tribal region on Sunday, when Taliban militants attacked their gathering and security forces opened fire on protesters during disturbances that followed.
The violence took place in Wana, the main administrative center for South Waziristan, one of the most volatile of the tribal lands on Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.
Local tribesmen and one security official, speaking on condition on anonymity, said two people were killed and 25 wounded. But Manzoor Pashteen, the head of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), said in a posting on social media that at least 10 people died and 30 were wounded during Sunday’s violence. In his Twitter post, Pashteen described how Taliban fighters had first attacked the PTM gathering. Later angry protesters threw stones, prompting “indiscriminate” firing by security forces, he said.
The PTM became prominent after the killing of a Pashtun youth by police in the southern city of Karachi in January. Since then it has held rallies across many towns and cities.
Ali Wazir, a PTM leader who was wounded in the attack, told Reuters that the militants wanted PTM to leave the area and were “dictating an end to PTM activities in Wana”. Some PTM members said they suspected the gunmen who attacked them belonged to a Taliban faction that has covert support from Pakistan’s powerful military. The military, which denies fostering proxy groups, did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.
The PTM alleges that thousands of Pashtuns were targeted in state-organized killings after Pakistan joined the U.S.-led war on terror in 2001 and launched major military operations against militant strongholds in tribal areas between 2009 and 2014. The military has been engaged in talks with PTM members to address some of their grievances. Pashteen called for protests at U.N offices in response to the latest outrage.
“Pashtuns wherever should protest now and those who cannot should do it tomorrow in front of the UN offices because this state doesn’t listen to our voice,” Pashteen said.
PTM supporters in Peshawar protested outside the Islamabad Press Club late on Sunday evening.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) assembly on May 27 approved the merger of the province with the semi autonomous tribal areas and frontier regions, in a move aimed at bringing them into Pakistan’s political mainstream.

#JusticeForKhadija - #Pakistan where Taliban & killers Can Get Away With Murder ......Khadija Siddiqui’s attacker acquitted by Lahore High Court

So in Pakistan, killers, terrorists, Rapist can really get away with murder. Corrupt Pakistani elite is sending a very wrong message to its younger generation and to the world community. It's just shameful and disgusting.

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday acquitted Shah Hussain, who had been sentenced for attacking Khadija Siddiqui.
The decision was announced by LHC judge, Justice Ahmed Naeem after hearing arguments from both parties.
In July 2017, Shah Hussain was found guilty of stabbing Khadija at least 23 times on Lahore’s Davis Road. 
The single bench of the LHC acquitted the convict today, giving him the benefit of doubt, after he appealed against his five-year sentence.
During the proceedings, the convict’s lawyer stated that his client has been facing punishment over baseless allegations.
He said that Shah Hussain was not present at the time of the attack and the evidence against him is insufficient. Following the arguments, the LHC acquitted the convict. 
After the verdict came in favour of Hussain, #JusticeForKhadija became a top trend on social media.

Last year, a local court sentenced Shah to seven years in prison, which was later reduced to five by a district and sessions court on March 30, this year.
After committing the attack, the suspect had managed to flee from the scene of the crime but was captured on a mobile camera by an eyewitness. Siddiqui was saved by her driver, who had tried to overpower the attacker, forcing him to flee from the scene on May 3, 2016.
The attack was witnessed by hundreds of people in front of a hotel on Davis Road.
A few days later of the assault, Khadija had identified her attacker and got him booked on charges of attempted murder. 
After the registration of a case, the accused, Shah Hussain, requested a sessions court for bail before arrest, which was turned down. Hussain, whose father happens to be a renowned lawyer, was aided by a number of other lawyers to flee from court premises after his request was turned down.