Tuesday, January 15, 2019

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'I am one of the lucky ones': Rahaf al-Qunun vows to defend women's rights #HumanRights

Saudi teenager made her first public comments since she landed in Canada as a refugee over the weekend after fleeing alleged abuse.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun says she's "one of the lucky ones".
The Saudi teenager, who drew international headlines after fleeing an abusive family situation, landed in Toronto over the weekend after the Canadian government accepted the United Nations' request to grant her asylum and fast-tracked her resettlement.
In her first public statement since arriving in Canada, the 18-year-old thanked her supporters on Tuesday while acknowledging that many Saudi women may not be as lucky.
“I know that there are unlucky women who disappeared after trying to escape or who could not do anything to change their reality," said Mohammed, who has dropped al-Qunun from her name because her family has disowned her, CBC News reported.
"When I heard the news from [UN refugee agency] UNHCR that Canada was selected as my new home, the stress that I felt over the last week melted away," she said during a press conference in Toronto, which CBC News broadcast live online.
She read out a statement in Arabic and an aide delivered an English-language translation of her comments moments later.
“I was not treated respectfully by my family and I was not allowed to be myself and who I want to be," she told reporters.

'I was not allowed to be myself'

The 18-year-old's story has captivated people around the world, after she landed in Thailand in transit from Kuwait earlier this month and refused to be deported, saying she feared her family would hurt her if she were forcibly returned to them.
Mohammed barricaded herself inside a hotel room at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport and shared her demands for asylum in live videos posted to social media.
Thailand relented, saying it wouldn't deport her amid the international pressure, and a short time later UNHCR granted Mohammed refugee status.
I want to be independent, travel, make my own decisions - on education, a career, or who and when I should marry
- Rahaf Mohammed
In Tuesday's press conference, the teenager criticised Saudi Arabia's strict guardianship laws, which force Saudi women to get approval from a male relative to complete basic tasks and make decisions related to education, work, marriage and more.
Most women in the Gulf kingdom "can’t be independent and they need the approval of their male guardian for everything", she said.
"Any woman who thinks of escaping or escapes will be at risk of persecution. I want to be independent, travel, make my own decisions - on education, a career, or who and when I should marry," Mohammed said.
"I had no say in any of this. Today I can proudly say that I am capable of making all those decisions."
While Mohammed's family previously denied mistreating her, in an interview with CBC Newson Monday, the teenager said she was physically and mentally abused by her family since age 16, and that she thought about escaping for years.
"I was exposed to physical violence, persecution, oppression, threats to be killed. I was locked in for six months," Mohammed told the Canadian public broadcaster, as she described what happened after she cut her hair.
"I felt that I could not achieve my dreams that I wanted as long as I was still living in Saudi Arabia."

Questions over resettlement process

Canada's decision to grant Mohammed asylum - with such speed and under such extraordinary circumstances - has been welcomed by human rights groups and the United Nations, which thanked Ottawa in a statement on Friday.
"Ms al-Qunun’s plight has captured the world’s attention over the past few days, providing a glimpse into the precarious situation of millions of refugees worldwide," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, as news broke that Mohammed was en route from Bangkok to Toronto.
"Refugee protection today is often under threat and cannot always be assured, but in this instance international refugee law and overriding values of humanity have prevailed."
Her resettlement was also hailed as "a victory for everyone who cares about women’s rights, values youth boldly seeking change, and demands that governments operate in light and not darkness", Human Rights Watch senior researcher Sunai Phasuk said.
The Saudi teenager drew attention to her case by posting updates on social media (Reuters)
Some have linked the Canadian government's motives for accepting Mohammed to its recent diplomatic standoff with Saudi Arabia.
That spat kicked off last year when Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland tweeted for the Saudi authorities to immediately release detained women's rights activists.
The Saudi government responded by kicking the Canadian ambassador out of the country and accusing Ottawa of meddling in its internal affairs.
The kingdom also demanded a public apology from Canada, which instead doubled-down, insisting that it would continue to speak out on human rights issues around the world, including in Saudi Arabia.
Freeland personally welcomed Mohammed at Toronto's Pearson International Airport on Saturday, handing the teenager a bouquet of flowers and welcoming her as a "brave new Canadian".

Security concerns

Some have also raised questions about the alleged preferential treatment Mohammed received.
Refugees often have to wait years to have their asylum claims processed in Canada, which is facing a serious backlog in its immigration system, and even longer still before they can be resettled.

Still, Mohammed is receiving the same type of support given to other government-sponsored refugees that have been resettled in Canada, said Mario Calla, executive director of COSTI Immigrant Services in Toronto.
A local resettlement support agency on contract with the federal government, COSTI will help her find temporary lodging, apply for health coverage and a social insurance number, open a bank account, and learn to get around Canada's largest city, Calla explained.
Later, Mohammed will get help to enroll in English-language courses and find more permanent accommodation, he said during Tuesday's press conference.

Safety issues

Ensuring her safety in Toronto is also an issue, Calla told reporters, and COSTI has hired security guards to be posted where she is staying.
"We are concerned about her security," Calla said.
"She has had threats on social media. She has taken a position that some taking issue with. I have not seen the threats, but she’s said yes, she was feeling unsafe, and so we have taken those measures."
But for her part, Mohammed said being in Canada means the possibility of a fresh start.
"I would like to start living a normal, private life, just like any other young woman living in Canada," she told reporters.
"Today and for years to come I will work in support of freedom for women around the world - the same freedom I experienced on the first day I arrived in Canada."


Video Report - Rahaf al Qunun pledges to use her freedom to help others | ABC News

Video Report - #Saudi teen who fled family says freedom was worth risking her life

Video Report - Saudi teen granted asylum in Canada gives public statement - PRESS CONFERENCE

Pashto Music - Chi Pa Ma Mayin Di - Sardar Ali Takkar

#Pakistan - If you want to be friends, even one reason is enough: Husain Haqqani

Former Pakistan diplomat and journalist Husain Haqqani on Monday said the people of India and Pakistan must realise the common threads between them and not hold America responsible for the animosity between the two neighbours in the subcontinent.
Asked during a discussion on ‘Why India and Pakistan can’t be friends’ at The Hindu Lit for Life Festival in Chennai — moderated by the paper’s Diplomatic Affairs Editor Suhasini Haidar — if people-to-people ties could indeed change the foreign policy standoff between the two countries, he said, “We should make it happen.”
Elaborating, he said, “People should realise common threads. Country and civilisation are two different things. And you have to acknowledge all elements of the civilisation. Indian civilisation is not a Hindu or a Muslim civilisation. It is a civilisation of every body constituting India. Civilisations evolve. We cannot say it was born 5,000 years ago. It has transformed over time.”

U.S. role

Mr. Haqqani added: “Hostility between two countries could be fanned, facilitated, and it can be financially and militarily supported by somebody else. But, it cannot be fostered by somebody else. By arming the Pakistani militarily and providing the resources, the U.S. has probably heightened its own instincts. It is not fair to say the U.S. has kept us enemies.”
Speaking about the Kashmir issue, he said, “If you want to fight, you can find a dozen reasons. If you want to be friends, even one reason is enough. In 1963, the biggest offer was made to Pakistan...which was 5,400 square miles more territory in Kashmir. A negotiation by definition is meeting half-way. In the end, there will be a negotiation.”
He said that he hoped India and Pakistan will have open borders one day making the borders irrelevant.

#Pakistan - The missing prime minister

Soon after taking oath, Imran Khan made big promises about coming to the parliament regularly and attending the Wednesday ‘Question hour’, but he has so far failed to deliver,
Would it be correct to say that in just about five months into his new government, Prime Minister Imran Khan is fast losing interest in the affairs of the National Assembly?
According to the data gathered by the National Assembly and Free and Fair Elections Network (FAFEN), Khan has appeared in six of the 32 (till date) sittings of the assembly, three each in the first two sessions. He has remained away completely from the next four sessions.
The assembly record shows that he has spoken on only one Point of Order, related to ‘peace building and conflict resolution’ and has voted for only one resolution titled ‘National Anthem should be played on the commencement of the NA’.
Looking back, Nawaz Sharif attended 10 percent of the NA sessions during his tenure as the prime minister and his successor Shahid Khaqan Abbasi 19 percent. In recent years, former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani made himself the most familiar prime minister in the assembly with 90 percent attendance.
Khan’s poor attendance so far contradicts his earlier statements against the PML-N and Nawaz Sharif in the previous assembly. He used to criticise Sharif for staying away from the assembly and how it affected the attendance of ministers and other ruling party leaders.
On November 1, 2018, opposition leader Khusheed Shah said, “It is sad that the PM is absent from the house even on important days and does not like to take the house – the right forum – into confidence on important issues and prefers to make speeches outside the house”.
“There is a history of imbalance between the executive and the parliament in Pakistani democracy,” says political scientist Dr. Mohammad Waseem. “Executive is accountable but it does not like to be answerable to a subordinate house like the National Assembly. Prime ministers do not feel obliged to answer questions and same is the case with ministers, thus affecting the parliament’s efficiency in terms of policy and lawmaking. That means the parliament is reduced to the third function of constituency work only.”
He says that for the past few months the lawmaking process in the parliament has been stalled. “The input of standing committees is slow and there is no bargaining and understanding between the government and the opposition.”
Clearly the debate on issues of national interest has moved from the floor of the assembly to primetime talk shows on TV, and “on the street, which is contrary to the spirit of the parliament”. To him, this means a failure of the parliament — “this makes democracy a formal but not substantive and participatory procedure.”
As a member of the National Assembly, during 2013-2018, Imran Khan made it to only 24 of more than 500 sittings in the past assembly. He was amongst the worst performing parliamentarians with around five percent attendance in 56 sessions of the previous assembly.
Soon after taking oath in mid-August last year, Khan pledged to take the floor of the house to address questions every fortnight on the same pattern as the British parliament. In September last year, the government moved the house to make it mandatory for prime ministers to respond to questions on government affairs. The proposed rule was to introduce ‘Prime Minister’s Question Hour’ on the first Wednesday of each session for answering questions on matters relating to the overall substantive policy or the performance of the government.
“Leadership role is fundamental to democracy, particularly in a parliamentary form of government — and it seriously affects the parliament’s performance if leaders do not become an example,” says Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President PILDAT (Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency).
He says the presence of the PM is absolutely crucial, and ultimately affects the interest of ministers which trickles down to other members of the parliament, ultimately leading to less than 25 percent members in the house, “a situation also noticed in the house in the past”.
“Unfortunately, such leaders think that the parliament’s task is to elect them. They do not want to become answerable and accountable to the members of the assembly,” he says.
Mehboob adds that ministers are speaking on policy matters in TV talk shows. “How can one imagine that ministers announce polices and developments projects in talk shows rather than on the floor of the house.” He suggests public awareness and education on this subject, where the public should be asking their elected representatives about their performance in respective assemblies. “Parliament’s effectiveness is vital and that is only possible with the continuous presence of the PM and his cabinet.”

ملالہ کے کمرے میں کس کی تصویر لگی ہے؟

دنیا کی کم عمر ترین پاکستانی نوبل انعام یافتہ ملالہ یوسف زئی برطانیہ کی آکسفورڈ یونیورسٹی میں زیر تعلیم ہیں جہاں اُن کے کمرے میں پاکستان اور اسلامی دنیا کی پہلی منتخب خاتون وزیر اعظم ’بے نظیر بھٹو‘ کی تصویر لگی ہے۔
’دی بی بی سی‘ کو انٹرویو دیتے ہوئے 21 سالہ ملالہ یوسف زئی نے بتایا کہ انہیں دیواروں پر پوسٹرز یا تصاویر لگانے کا شوق نہیں ہے لیکن اس کے باوجود انہوں نے اپنے کمرے کی دیوار پر پاکستان کی سابقہ وزیر اعظم ’بے نظیر بھٹو‘ کی تصویر لگائی ہوئی ہے۔
دوران انٹرویو نوبل انعام یافتہ ملالہ یوسف زئی نے بتایا کہ انہیں برطانوی سٹ کامس یعنی مزاحیہ ڈرامےدیکھنا بے حد پسند ہےجس میں ’بلیک ایڈر، مائنڈیور لینگویج‘ شامل ہیں۔
اس کے علاوہ انہوں نےاپنی پسند سے متعلق بتایا کہ وہ اپنے فارغ وقت میں کرکٹ کھیلتی ہیں ، انہیں کرکٹ کھیلنا بہت پسند ہے۔ 
ملالہ سے سوال کیا گیا کہ پاکستان چھوڑ کر بیرون ملک شفٹ ہونا ان کے لیے کتنا آسان تھاتو اس کے جواب میں انہوں نے کہا کہ سوات چھوڑ کر امریکا منتقل ہوناابتداء میں اُن کے لیے کافی مشکل تھا لیکن اب وہ وہاں سیٹ ہوگئی ہیں اور انہوں نے یونیورسٹی میں نئے دوست بھی بنا لیے ہیں۔
واضح رہے ملالہ یوسف زئی کی کتاب’وی آر ڈسپلیسڈ‘ (We Are Displaced) رواں ماہ کے آغاز میں فروخت کے لیے پیش کی گئی تھی جس میں انہوں نے نا صرف اپنی بلکہ دنیا بھر کی دیگر خواتین کے بے گھر ہونے کی کہانی بیان کی ہے۔ اس سے قبل وہ اپنی سوانح حیات بھی لکھ چکی ہیں۔

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari pays rich tribute to world famous Urdu Poet Mohsin Naqvi on his 23rd martyrdom anniversary

Chairman Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has paid rich tribute to world famous Urdu Poet Mohsin Naqvi on his 23rd martyrdom anniversary.
In his message, PPP Chairman said that Naqvi individualised his poetry and personality through tedious efforts in the field of arts and literature and his voice was unique as was his poetry.
Poet Naqvi had full command on Urdu linguistics, poetry and literature and his particular field was Urdu Ode.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said Naqvi was an asset and his work is an everlasting asset which we are proud of. After joining People’s Students Organisation (PSF), he remained in the forefronts of party’s struggle for rights of masses and faced the imprisonment and hard times bravely. Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto appreciating Mohsin Naqvi’s commitment with party and granted party ticket to him to contest election.

The PPP Chairman said that poet Naqvi always remained in close touch with the people and knew what their sentiments were at times and so he acted and wrote his poetry accordingly.
The world famous rhyme that gave a vibrant slogan in honour of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto – Ya Allah, Ya Rasool – Benazir Be Qasoor – meaning “The almighty Allah and His last Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) will acclaim that SMBB was innocent.”
He said that Shaheed Naqvi’s work and contribution to the literature would always be remembered and benefited from.