Tuesday, April 23, 2019
Mariam Ijaz Admiration of humane handling of the terrorist attack in New Zealand while inhumanely handling of a terrorist attack against Hazara Community within your own country, Mr. Prime Minister. Ironical! Isn’t it?? Imran Khan needs to learn from the very prime minister of New Zealand he was all praise for a few days ago. The attack in Hazar Ganji targeting the Hazara community took the innocent lives of 19 people while rendering another 48 injured. We have had seen many such incidents in the past as well but what caught my attention is the indifference and insensitivity that I have observed on this heinous terrorist act against the innocent Hazara community. This indifference is not only on the part of masses of “Naya Pakistan” but also from Mr. Prime Minister Imran Khan that is, even more, is heart-wrenching. Our worthy Prime minister would have thought that a tweet for the loss of only 19 people would have been enough. In fact, he is right it should be enough. It is just a matter of 19 lives and only other 45 who are struggling for life. The Hazara Community continues their sit in for the 4th consecutive day with the most innocent demand of Prime Minister visiting them but unfortunately even this demand amid all the grave issues the community is facing cannot be fulfilled by our worthy Prime Minister. The only thing that we expected from our Prime Minister in this hour of grief was to demonstrate some empathy, care, and solidarity by visiting these Pakistani people belonging to the Hazara community. Why are we not able to see the essential qualities defining leadership, the most important being the empathy within our worthy Prime Minister. It takes guts and strength to be an empathetic leader which surely is lacking in our leadership. The world is in a dire need of empathetic leaders as good as Jacinda Ardern while Pakistan is no exception to it. The plague that Pakistan is faced with is the “othering syndrome”. The “othering” on the basis of ethnicity, sects, and religions becomes the instrumental cause for sectarianism, ethnic hostility leading to terrorism breeding social conflict. We, Pakistanis belonging to different sects and ethnicities, are one unit. And this terrorist attack is on us and hence we all shall have to raise our voices unanimously against the vile forces committing these brutal acts of terrorism. The Hazara community has never been in the news for the wrong reason. They are poor innocent people trying to lead a peaceful life in Quetta with meager resources that they have. We should stand with Hazara Community as one unit to make them feel that they are as much Pakistanis as we are. Within days of church Christ incident in New Zealand, a ban was imposed on all the automatic weapons, I wonder what major measure has been taken in Quetta for the protection of Hazara Community. Peace cannot be brought to land through mere statements and hollow promises. It is high time that PM Imran Khan learns from Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister, on how to effectively respond to such incidents of horror. In New Zealand, it took one mass shooting to awaken the government. I wonder what will it take to awaken our leaders? How many more people have to die before the political leadership finally comes out of deep slumber? When will Pakistan become a place where sectarianism and ethnic intolerance would not be welcomed and would not have a chance to stand? Why can’t we show Arden – like strength by unanimously raising our voices against Hazara genocide and by visiting the community to show solidarity or even by visiting an imam-bargah or a mosque in our very own cities to show compassion and unity? Let us make Pakistan a “Naya Pakistan” in its truest sense depicting beautiful colors of diversity, compassion, and kindness. All we need is to mushroom the seeds of tolerance, sympathy, and love in the soil of our beautiful country, Pakistan. Terrorists need to hear loud and clear message once and for all by our political leadership that there is no place for them on this land and Pakistan is a country of peace-loving people. https://dailytimes.com.pk/378531/nothing-beats-empathy-which-clearly-pm-imran-khan-lacks-ironical-isnt-it/
Total number of reported polio cases in country rises to 8 since beginning of 2019.Two new cases of polio virus have been reported in northwest Pakistan, an official said on Tuesday. With the new cases, reported in Bannu and North Waziristan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the total number of reported polio cases in the country has risen to eight since the beginning of this year. Six polio cases were reported in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and tribal districts, while one case was reported each in Punjab and Sindh provinces. “Only anti-polio vaccination could protect children from crippling virus and people should vaccinate their children in every campaign to attain full immunity against the virus,” Babar Atta, head of polio eradication program of Pakistan, told Anadolu Agency. Pakistan is among three countries in the world, including Afghanistan and Nigeria, where polio virus still exists and the country remains under a polio-linked travel restriction imposed by the World Health Organization (WHO). In 2014, the WHO made it mandatory for all people traveling from Pakistan to carry a polio vaccination certificate. Armed assailants belonging to militant groups have frequently targeted polio vaccinators and their security detail in several parts of Pakistan. The groups see the anti-polio campaigns are part of an elaborate anti-Muslim and Western conspiracy, and often issue death threats to vaccinators, many of whom are women, for administrating the vital vaccines to children. According to Pakistani officials, around 88 people associated with the drive have been killed across Pakistan since December 2012. https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/2-new-polio-cases-reported-in-pakistan/1460690
#Pakistan - 'This is not funny anymore': PM Imran's statement in Iran comes under intense opposition attack
By Atif Tauqeer
In an exclusive interview with DW, Ziauddin Yousafzai, rights campaigner and Nobel Peace laureate Malala Yousafzai's father, talks about Pakistan's security policies and the rise of an anti-war movement in Pashtun areas.
DW: Tell us about your recently published book, "Let Her Fly."
Ziauddin Yousafzai: "Let Her Fly" is about my family. It is a story about the transformation of a patriarchal, male-dominated family into a family that now carries forward gender equality.
I always tell people that although we were poor [back in Pakistan], we were rich in our values. You can read about these values and our transformation in the book.
After Taliban militants attacked Malala in 2010, your family moved to Britain. Do you want to return to Pakistan?
We visited Pakistan in March, last year. It was an exciting and emotional moment for us. We want to visit Pakistan more frequently. Pakistan is our home and we want to live in our country because we belong there.
The Malala Fund, established by your daughter, has been involved in a number of development projects. What is the main focus of the organization?
We work on girls' education all over the world — to ensure free, safe and quality education for them. Out main focus is on countries where the number of girls attending school is very low, for instance, in Afghanistan, Brazil, India, Nigeria and Pakistan. We are also working with Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. We have built schools in Pakistan, as well as for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
How do you view the current Pakistani government, headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan?
The government made tall claims that it would turn things around in the country. After assessing the performance of its first 100 days, any honest person would say it has been a fiasco. The economy is in shambles, the so-called National Action Plan [against militant outfits] is a failure, and the government has not done anything for the development of the tribal region [that borders Afghanistan].
But it is never too late. Rather than wasting time on lobbying for a "Islamic presidential system," the incumbent government should try to restore people's faith in parliamentary democracy. They should also take the opposition into confidence on major national issues such as the restoration of economy and elimination of terrorism. It is the only way forward. Strong and sustained democracy is Pakistan's only hope.
As you mentioned the northwestern tribal region, you must be aware that a people's movement for the protection of the Pashtun people, known as the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), has become quite popular in these areas. The leaders of the movement are critical of war and the Pakistani military's alleged atrocities in the region. Do you find their demands legitimate?
The PTM is an indigenous movement, spearheaded by the Pashtun youth. They are educated, well organized and clear about their demands. We went through a [violent] conflict in Swat area and witnessed Taliban atrocities. This was followed by the war against terrorism in the shape of different military operations against the Taliban and other militias.
For decades, the people in Pakistan's northwestern areas have suffered wars. Thousands of people have been killed and tortured. Families have been displaced, and properties have been destroyed. There has been a mass exodus in that region. Pakistan's war against militancy was successful to some extent, but it has remained dubious, as we could see that Pakistan's security forces could have reined in militant groups in Swat from the very beginning. But unfortunately, they were allowed to operate and subsequently they gained a lot of strength.
This is the backdrop in which the PTM emerged. The movement is a response to all these atrocities, troubles, and also to Pakistan's policies that triggered the conflict.
Pashtuns should be treated as equal citizens of Pakistan; it is also their constitutional right. Their demands are legitimate and constitutional.
The only reason why some people are critical of this movement is that it is challenging the Pakistani military. The military needs to understand the Pashtun plight. Labeling them as "traitors" would increase the alienation among them. Decades of violence, Talibanization of the region, and military operations have created a huge trust deficit between the security forces and the the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and the tribal areas. We need genuine trust-building measures. The military should talk with the PTM leadership, listen to them and pay heed to their constitutional demands. The PTM, too, should be open to negotiations and reconciliation. That is the only way out in my opinion.
But the civilian government and military leadership say they are cracking down on banned militant outfits. Shouldn't this satisfy peace activists?
PM Khan recently said that there is no place for militias in the country. We have to see whether he really means that and makes changes to the state's policy. It is easy for the government to ban these groups. It will send a strong message to the world that Pakistan wants to be a democratic country, which respects the rule of law, and which believes in justice. Pakistan needs a political, as well as a security, paradigm shift.
The overall human rights situation in Pakistan has deteriorated in the past few years. The country's civil society complains of increased curbs on the freedom of expression. How do you look at it?
Democracy is synonymous with free speech. Citizens have the right to openly express their views on government policies that affect their lives. If the authorities stop people from being critical, if they have a selective view on the freedom of speech, and if they try to control media, such measures would be tantamount to fascism.
The situation is very bad in Pakistan. Mainstream and social media are being repressed by the government, forcing TV channels to expel independent-minded journalists and newspapers to censor articles by columnists. I believe Pakistan has never seen anything like this before.
How do you view the ongoing Afghan peace process and Pakistan's role in it?
I think that if all stakeholders, including the Taliban and the Afghan government, are on board, and if Pakistan, Iran and other regional powers also come together to facilitate this process, there is a great chance for peace in Afghanistan. But the process requires sincerity, and more importantly, a genuine wish for peace that guarantees basic human rights for all Afghan men and women. There should be no compromise on girls' education and women's freedom.
If Islamabad genuinely supports the Afghan peace process, it would also be a great opportunity for Pakistan to improve its image in the world.
Ziauddin Yousafzai is a Pakistani educationist and human rights activist. He protested against the Taliban advances in Pakistan's Swat region and campaigned for the education of girls. He is currently based in Britain with his family.
COL. VINAYAK BHAT (RETD)