Sunday, June 30, 2019
اکیسوی صدی میں جہاں لوگوں کو اپنے گھروں میں ہی ہر طرح کی آسائشوں بھری زندگی میسر ہوتی ہے، وہیں پر ضلع خیبر کی تحصیل جمرود کے کچھ علاقوں میں لوگ آج بھی غاروں میں رہنے پر مجبور ہیں، جہاں نہ پانی ہے اور نہ ہی کھانا پکانے کو گیس میسر ہے۔
غاروں کی زندگی کیسی ہوتی ہے؟ یہ جاننے کے لیے انہی غاروں میں رہنے والی ایک 70 سالہ بزرگ خاتون میمی بی بی کے گھر جانے کا اتفاق ہوا۔ جمرود شہر سے باہر کچھ کلومیٹر کی دوری پر موجود یہ علاقہ ’گودر‘ کہلاتا ہے، جہاں جانے کے لیے آپ کو کافی پیدل سفر کرنا پڑتا ہے۔
میمی بی بی کی دو بیٹیاں اور ایک بیٹا ہے۔ ان کی بیٹیاں شادی شدہ ہیں اور وہ اپنی بیوہ بہو اور پوتے پوتیوں کے ساتھ اس غار میں گذشتہ 30 سال سے رہائش پذیر ہیں۔ 30 سال پہلے وہ تیرہ کے علاقے سے یہاں آئی تھیں اور پھر یہیں کی ہوکر رہ گئیں۔
میمی کے خاندان کے باقی افراد میں ان کے دیور اور اس کا خاندان ان کے غار کے قریب رہتے ہیں۔ان کے دیور نور شاہ نے انڈپینڈنٹ اردو سے گفتگو میں بتایا: ’ہمارا تعلق کوکی خیل قوم سے ہے اور ہمارے آبا و اجداد تیرہ میں رہتے تھے لیکن اب ہم یہاں 30 سال سے رہائش پزیر ہیں۔ ہمارے پاس بجلی کا ٹرانسفارمر تو ہے لیکن ان میں بجلی نہیں ھوتی۔ ہم نے خود پیسے جمع کرکے یہ اپنا ٹرانسفارمر لگایا جس میں آدھا گھنٹہ بجلی آتی ہے اور پھر دس گھنٹے نہیں ہوتی۔‘
میمی بی بی کا کہنا تھا: ’ہمارے پاس نہ تو پانی ہے اور نا بجلی۔ ہم شمسی طریقے سے بجلی حاصل کرکے غار میں ایک بلب جلا لیتے ہیں، جس کی روشنی میں بیٹھ کر میرے پوتے اور پوتیاں سکول کا کام کر لیتے ہیں۔ کھانا پکانے کے لیے ہم گوبر سے بنے اوپلوں کا استعمال کرتے ہیں۔ میں اپنے گھر میں خود ہی گوبر سے اوپلے تیار کرتی ہوں، جس کی مدد سے کھانا بن جاتا ہے۔‘
60 سالہ موری گلا، میمی بی بی کی دیورانی ہیں، انہوں نے انڈپیندنٹ اردو کو بتایا: ’ہم دونوں خاندان 30 سالوں سے یہیں رہتے ہیں۔ میمی کا اکلوتا جوان بیٹا مرگیا لیکن اس نے ہمت نہیں ہاری اور آج دن تک بہادری سے حالات کا مقابلہ کر رہی ہے۔ وہ خود باہر جا کر دور دراز پہاڑوں سے پانی کے مٹکے بھر کر لاتی ہیں لیکن اپنے پوتے اور پوتیوں سے کام نہیں کرواتی تاکہ وہ اپنے سکول کا کام کرسکیں۔ انہوں نے اپنے سب پوتے پوتیوں کو سرکاری سکول میں داخل کروایا ہوا ہے کیونکہ ان کو نجی سکولوں میں پڑھانے کی حیثیت نہیں رکھتیں۔
By Steve Warren
A poor Christian family in Pakistan is calling for justice after their teenaged daughter was reportedly kidnapped at gunpoint and raped by five Muslims.UCANews.com reports the girl named Maria, 15, was taken from her house in Sheikhupura city of Punjab province on June 9. Her father, Jalal Masih, was at his job at the time, working as a laborer.
Masih filed a police report accusing Muhammad Sajid, a local businessman, and four others in the attack in which there were several witnesses. "The locals saw them abducting her at gunpoint in a vehicle. I reached his (Sajid's) office but he was absent," Masih said in the First Information Report (FIR) filed six days after the incident. "We made contact the next day and he threatened to return her dead body if we informed the police."
"Sajid escaped after leaving Maria on our doorstep on June 10 night. She was extremely scared," her father said.
As the news of the attack spreads on social media, Christian activists are calling for the arrest of the suspects. According to Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD), a non-profit advocacy group providing legal aid to persecuted minorities, 28 Christian girls became victims of abduction, torture, sexual harassment, rape, forced conversion and forced marriages in Pakistan from November 2018 to June 2019.
"The number of unreported cases will be higher as the families of victims usually avoid getting help from biased police officials who support cruel and influential culprits. Only Christian and Hindu girls are victims in such cases," LEAD national director Sardar Mushtaq Gill told UCANews.com. "Crimes against religious minorities are increasing at a high scale in Pakistan."
"In Pakistan, abduction of girls from Christian and Hindu minorities' communities has been on the higher side since years," Gill wrote in his online blog. "These girls after abduction are sexually assaulted, forcibly married to the abductors and forced into conversions. Some human rights groups define persecution in old fashion(ed) way but the persecutors have changed their ways to persecute religious minorities in a new ways and they called it policy and it could be implemented at both by Government sector and at private sector.""So it is the need of time to define religious persecution in a broader-way and to believe it or not Pakistani Christians and Hindu are most vulnerable who are being persecuted by Islamic extremists objectively because their poor status and poor defense in society," he continued. The news website also reports the interfaith group Rwadari Tehreek launched an anti-rape campaign with a protest on June 15 in front of the Punjab Assembly in Lahore.
"It is a sad reality that dozens of male and female children are subjected to sexual abuse and violence almost every day," Chairman Samson Salamat told the website.
"Unfortunately, governments and concerned authorities have turned a blind eye toward these serious violations of human rights and the victims are being denied justice because of the lacunas in the justice system," he said.
Salamat also called local officials to organize sessions to educate police officers and other law enforcement officials on the issue.
"Most cases are dealt with in a wrong manner because of the bad treatment and attitude in police stations. The victims only become more victimized. Safe and fully equipped rehabilitation centers should be established for the victims of rape and child sexual abuse," he said.
Ewelina U. OchabIn recent years, the world observed how Asia Bibi, a Christian woman, fought for justice in Pakistan. She was accused of making blasphemous statements during an argument about drinking water from a well. She was acquitted last year after spending eight years on death row. Several months later, she has managed to leave Pakistan in pursuit of a safe haven. She endured years of struggle and threats made to her life. While her story is one that was ultimately successful, there are more such Asia Bibis in Pakistan, members of religious minorities who bravely stand up to laws and procedures (or lack thereof) that are designed to give them little if any redress. This type of situation is not only confined to cases of blasphemy. The case of minority girls and young women abducted, forcibly converted and forcibly married to Muslim men deserves attention too. Just recently, a 16-year-old girl Christian girl, Sheeza Riasat, faced exactly this fate. Sheeza Riasat was reportedly abducted from her family home, by armed men, at the age of just 15. (It is noteworthy that the legal age for a girl to marry in Pakistan is 16. Only in April 2019, the Pakistan Senate voted on the Child Marriage Restraint Bill which would put an end to child marriage and increase the marriage age for girls to 18.) She was converted to Islam and forcibly married to a Muslim man on February 12, 2019. While Sheeza was under the age of 16 when she was forcibly married, her age in the marriage certificate was reportedly indicated as 18. There are further concerns surrounding the case. For example, the marriage certificate is dated one day before her abduction. Although her family reported the abduction and forced marriage to the police, the police reportedly have inextricably dropped the case. As a result, the family have taken the case to court. Sheeza’s parents are fighting for her return. The case is expected to be heard soon. It is crucial to emphasize that Sheeza’s case is not an isolated one. According to the Movement for Solidarity and Peace (MSP), a human rights organization located in Pakistan, around 1,000 Christian and Hindu girls and women are kidnapped each year, forced to convert and to marry Muslim men. The victims are usually girls and women between the ages of 12 and 25. Despite these already shocking statistics, the number of victims may be even higher as many cases remain unreported, often due to the families’ limited financial means. Considering other such cases in Pakistan, there is little hope that the situation will change. For example, Laveeza Bibi was 23 when she was abducted from her home by two armed men. She was forced to convert to Islam and marry one of her abductors. It was reported that despite her family’s attempts to report her abduction, the police were reluctant to accept and investigate the case. A Christian girl, Mehwish, was kidnapped when she was just 14. It was reported that the police have not taken any steps to investigate her case or made any attempt to rescue her. Two teenage girls, Farzana and Sehrish, aged 14 and 16 respectively, were abducted and subjected to gang rape perpetrated by three Muslim men. Despite one of the perpetrators being apprehended, the family was pressured to settle the case outside of court. Similarly, the case of Maria Sarfraz, an 11-year-old girl abducted and gang-raped for three days, was forcibly settled outside of court. Pakistan must take steps to ensure that it combats child marriage. It must ensure that the recent Child Marriage Restraint Bill passes through the National Assembly. However, considering that even the current minimum marriage age for girls at 16 is not being enforced, more needs to be done to ensure that the higher marriage age is adhered to. This could be achieved by strict punishment for failure to do so. Furthermore, Pakistan needs to ensure that any alleged cases of child marriage (but also of forced marriage) are adequately investigated and the victims have effective legal avenues for redress. Nonetheless, legislation and its enforcement can do only as much. Men need to be educated that a forced wife is not a wife, she is a slave. https://www.forbes.com/sites/ewelinaochab/2019/06/20/asia-bibi-has-won-her-battle-but-many-more-christian-minorities-struggle-for-justice-in-pakistan/#5e1ffac863ee
Last Sunday, Qasim Suri, Deputy Speaker of Pakistan’s National Assembly (NA), asked Members of Parliament not to use the word ‘selected’ for Prime Minister Imran Khan. Federal Minister of Power Omar Ayub Khan was speaking on a point of order when he asked the Deputy Speaker to stop the Opposition members from using the word. Mr. Ayub Khan threatened to use privilege motions against those who would use this word.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) workers led by party’s provincial general secretary Misbah-ud-Din and Naghat Orakzai protested rising inflation in front of Press Club Peshawar on Saturday, media reported.
The protesters raised slogans against the PTI government and told media that prices of essential day-to-day commodities are getting out of affordability.
They said that the government is not concerned for a common man anymore and it has turned a deaf ear towards the complaints of the general public.
Saturday, June 29, 2019
The recent killing of a young Pakistani blogger, known for criticizing the nation's powerful military, has once again reignited the debate about the deteriorating freedom of expression in the country.
The stabbing to death of Muhammad Bilal Khan, a 22-year-old blogger, in Islamabad on Sunday night showed how fragile free speech in Pakistan is. Khan, who has over 16,000 followers on Twitter, 48,000 on his YouTube channel and 22,000 on Facebook, is known for criticizing the country's powerful military and the spy agency Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).
The blogger was also religiously inclined and held controversial views. "My son's only fault was that he spoke about the Prophet," the deceased's father Abdullah said.
But Khan's killing hours after posting a sarcastic tweet criticizing the appointment of General Faiz Hameed as the new ISI chief, has fueled speculation that the security establishment was behind his murder. Several Twitter users said that his criticism of the Pakistan army and the ISI led to his killing, although these allegations can't be verified.
Soon after his killing, #Justice4MuhammadBilalKhan started trending on social media.
Some rights activists believe the incident has created fear among those who are critical toward the nation's powerful military. Pakistan's army denies any role in curbing free speech or targeting those who criticize it.
The military has previously been accused of being involved in abductions of bloggers critical of the security establishment
The country's non-governmental Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called on the government to conduct an impartial inquiry into the killing and bring the perpetrators to justice. It also demanded that the authorities protect people regardless of their political and religious views.
HRCP's Asad Butt believes the space for free speech is shrinking in Pakistan. "The fact that he was murdered hours after a tweet criticizing the appointment of the ISI chief raises important questions. Who has the capacity to trace the blogger in such a quick span of time, get his mobile number and kill him in this way?"
Butt says the murder will lead to increased censorship in the country. "The media in the country have already been stifled. A little space was available on Twitter and other social media networks, where some media people and other independent-minded ones would express critical views," he pointed out. "Now, even they will be scared of expressing their views."
Pakistani journalists and media outlets say they are facing increasing restrictions, particularly when it comes to critical coverage of the security establishment.
Authorities are also targeting social media, asking Twitter to suspend accounts and submitting thousands of requests to Facebook to take down pages for a variety of reasons, ranging from criticism of the military to propagating hate and insulting Islam. The government says the curbs are aimed at monitoring extremist content.
In recent months, the security establishment has been accused of arresting dozens of workers of the Pashtun Tahafaz (Protection) Movement, or PTM, which has criticized the military's actions in the tribal regions in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the western province of Baluchistan.
"We have been facing a media blackout since the very first day," Mohsin Dawar, a parliamentarian and founding member of the PTM, told the AP news agency last December. "The military now is enjoying unquestioned power in the country, and the PTM questioned their power."
PTM leader Said Alam Mahsud told DW that there is no freedom of expression in the country. "At least 27 activists of our movement have been arrested for merely criticizing the army on social media," he said. "We held massive rallies, but the media was instructed by the army's media wing not to cover our rallies, protests and public gatherings. The situation is so dire that the army instructs news channels as to what topics they should discuss during their talk shows and what to avoid."
Blame the army for everything?
Still, some in Pakistan say Bilal Khan's murder has nothing to do with the military. General Amjad Shoib, a defender of the Pakistani army policies, dismissed the allegations, saying: "There are many anti-army social media activists with millions of followers, but the army has never harmed them. What will it get out of the murder of an ordinary man whose following ran into a few thousands?"
The allegations are "completely baseless," Shoib said, criticizing the rights groups leveling allegations. "It's become a fashion to blame the army for everything."
To back his criticism, Shoib pointed to a previous incident, when an activist named Sabeen Mehmood was killed in Karachi and some sections immediately blamed the army for the murder. He noted that the "Islamic State" group later claimed responsibility for the killing.
Ahsan Raza, a Lahore-based political analyst, said the reason behind the blogger's killing is still unclear. "Most of Bilal Khan's tweets were filled with hate. He was the member of a religious group that is going through internal fragmentation. So there is a high possibility that he might have been killed because of internal rivalry."