Monday, December 9, 2019

Religious, ethnic minorities in Pakistan are facing worst abuses: BRP spokesperson

By Namrata Biji Ahuja

He says Pakistan is playing a dubious role in the war against terrorism.

Sher Mohammad Bugti, the central spokesperson of Baloch Republican Party and a close aide of BRP president Nawab Brahumdagh Bugti, has horrific memories of his brother Shah Mohammad Bugti and eldest son Haq Nawaz Bugti being tortured and killed in secret operations launched by the Pakistan army in Baluchistan. Shah Mohammad Bugti was the president of BRP in Dera Bugti district when he was abducted on December 5, 2010 by alleged Pakistani secret agencies and paramilitary forces, and after two days his bullet-riddled and torture-marked body was found. Sher Mohammad's eldest son Haq Nawaz Bugti was also allegedly killed by the Pakistan Army in Noshki in Balochistan.
Struggling against complete media censorship by Pakistan's ISI, Sher Mohammad has taken the issue of human rights violations in Balochistan to various international forums, including the United Nations' Human Rights Council.
In an exclusive interview to THE WEEK, Sher Mohammed Bugti, in exile in Switzerland, says Pakistan is playing dubious role in war against terrorism. Excerpts from an exclusive interview:
Why do you think the Baloch Movement has not got visibility in the international media as other movements?
There are so many factors in play as far as coverage by international media and action by the world community for a movement like the Baloch struggle is considered. All countries raise their voices and become proactive in supporting or denying such struggles based on their own interests. Unlike the other such movements where more than one country has stakes and interests and therefore they internationalise the issue to benefit from the situation, the Baloch nation is fairly a case between the oppressor Pakistani state and the oppressed Baloch people. Besides, Pakistan has been playing dubious role in war against terrorism where it has been supporting and exporting terrorism on one hand and pretending to be an ally of the western world on the other hand. This has helped Pakistan to keep the struggle in Balochistan away from world eyes. Despite all this, the struggle and sacrifices of the Baloch people have gained international attention recently and more people are talking about and supporting the Baloch nation than anytime in the past.
Can Balochistan afford to sustain itself as an independent nation?
The nations do not base their struggle for their self-determination and rights on likelihoods of getting the objective and sustaining their rights. Baloch as a nation has all the rights that any nation in the world has, and it should be given those rights. As far as achieving those objectives and sustaining them is considered, nations have faced more difficult situations than being in a "conflict zone" neighborhood regionally. Nations continue to fight for their national identity and its protection in spite of all the challenges.
What is the state of media freedom in Pakistan?
The state of media freedom is at its worst in Pakistan today than ever. It was limited to Balochistan before where journalists were abducted, tortured and killed for reporting the cases of human rights abuses by the Pakistani military there, but it has been expanded to entire Pakistan. Any journalist, newspaper or news channel that does not toe the line of Pakistan Army's media wing, the ISPR, is silenced by all means possible. There is a complete media censorship to even question, let alone criticize, the policies of the Pakistani military which controls all the matters of the country from behind the scenes.
Have you taken up the human rights violations of Baloch people with the UNHCR?
We have been highlighting the issue of human rights violations in Balochistan on all forums internationally, including the United Nations' Human Rights Council. We have presented in detail the cases of gross HR violations, including military operations on civilians, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings by the Pakistan Army in Balochistan on these forums.
How do you see the political and economic future of Pakistan in context of the present crisis?
With the current state of affairs concerning Pakistan, I do not see the future of Pakistan being any better. Religious and ethnic minorities in Pakistan are facing worst abuses, media is under complete control of the army as a result of censorship. Political and democratic voices of the country are being targeted and put behind bars or silenced based on false charges. Judiciary is blackmailed to the extent that it has become a tool at the hands of the Army against the democratic voices. Internationally, the country is completely isolated with no friends. Financial crises are so big that the country has virtually handed over the controls of state affairs to the IMF. The FATF is considering to move Pakistan from grey list to black list as a result of the country's policy of supporting and exporting terrorism to the entire world. I don't think any country can survive for long in such circumstances.

14-Year-Old Christian Girl Kidnapped, Forced to 'Marry' Muslim - Pakistan's Trafficking Epidemic Explodes

Steve Warren

A 14-year-old Christian girl who lived in the Zia Colony located in Karachi, Pakistan has been kidnapped, forced to convert to Islam and then "married" off to a Muslim man.
According to multiple media outlets, Huma Younus was kidnapped by three men from her home Karachi in October. The men waited on her parents to leave the house before forcibly taking the young girl. She was reportedly taken to Dera Gazi Khan, a city in the Punjab province of Pakistan, more than 370 miles from her home. 
Since she was taken, the girl's parents have been doing everything they can to recover their daughter. Unfortunately, local law enforcement officials have not been any help. Christian Today reported the city police at first refused to file any type of complaint against the girl's abductors, but finally, after numerous attempts by the parents, police officials did file a complaint.
The website also reports Huma's parents received documents from the abductors a few days after she was taken, including papers showing her conversion to Islam and a marriage certificate. The girl's mother Nagina says the papers are fake because the date on documents was the same as the day when her daughter was abducted.
"It is not possible," she told Asia News.
Huma's parents have appealed their case to the Court of Justice in Sindh Province. Their daughter was supposed to appear in court on Nov. 11, but she did not appear. 
"We don't even know if she's still alive," her parents said.
Father Saleh Diego, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Karachi and director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), wants the Pakistan government and courts to prevent such kidnappings and to ensure those responsible be brought to justice as soon as possible. 
Tabasum, a local Christian attorney, says the case offends the Christian community as a whole. "These sacrilegious acts are against the concept of interfaith harmony and threaten society's multicultural fabric and sense of brotherhood. Minorities feel deeply wounded," she said.
The Younus family's tragic case is not uncommon in Pakistan.
According to International Christian Concern, in the first nine months of this year, there were 34 incidents of abduction, forced conversions, rape and assault against Christian women and girls in Pakistan, exhibiting the widespread vulnerability of Christian women in the country.
629 Pakistani Girls Sold as Brides to China
Cases that involve young girls like Younus have been rising over the past year in Pakistan. 
In an exclusive report, The Associated Press recently discovered that 629 girls and women were taken from Pakistan and sold as brides to Chinese men. Many of those girls were Christians, easily exploited in Pakistan because of their minority status.
"Pakistan's Christian minority has become a new target of brokers who pay impoverished parents to marry off their daughters, some of them teenagers," the APreports.
Some Pakistani investigators are trying to break up trafficking networks exploiting the country's poor and vulnerable. The list of victims is the most concrete figure yet for the number of women caught up in the trafficking schemes since 2018.
However, the Pakistani government has tried to curtail investigations, putting "immense pressure" on officials from the Federal Investigation Agency pursuing trafficking networks, said Saleem Iqbal, a Christian activist who has helped parents rescue several young girls from China and prevented others from being sent there.
"Some (FIA officials) were even transferred," Iqbal said in an interview. "When we talk to Pakistani rulers, they don't pay any attention."
Several officials said investigations into trafficking have slowed as investigators grow frustrated and Pakistani media are pushed to curb their reporting on trafficking. The officials spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they feared reprisals.
"No one is doing anything to help these girls," one of the officials said. "The whole racket is continuing, and it is growing. Why? Because they know they can get away with it. The authorities won't follow through, everyone is being pressured to not investigate. Trafficking is increasing now."
He said he was speaking out "because I have to live with myself. Where is our humanity?"

#Pakistan #PPP - Govt’s app unable to identify corrupt people in PM’s cabinet, says Bilawal

PPP chairman says Nawaz went abroad despite being sentenced, while Zardari is in prison without being indicted.
Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Monday said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had launched the anti-corruption app called Report Corruption and he should apply this app on all his cabinet members.
Talking to the media outside the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) in Islamabad, he said that the prime minister launched an app to identify corrupt individuals but the government’s app had been unable to identify the corrupt people in the PM’s cabinet.
Bilawal said that the governor’s rule in Sindh was the government’s dream and many predictions had been made, but the PPP was still ruling the province.
The PPP chairman went on to say that the public didn’t want to watch a puppet show, adding that Imran Khan had made a compromise to save his government by allowing former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif to travel abroad and now he (Imran Khan) was saying he won’t leave the former PM.
He said, “Nawaz Sharif went abroad despite being sentenced, while former president and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari is inside prison without being indicted.”
He said that his father and aunt Faryal Talpur would be granted bail in the fake bank accounts case. He hoped that Zardari would get justice on December 11, the day the Islamabad High Court takes up his bail plea filed on medical grounds. He said Zardari’s medical report would be presented in the court and his father would hopefully be shifted to a hospital in Karachi. He said that the former president told him that the medical board has done his check-up.
He further said that the incompetent and selected PM could not resolve the issues of the general public, and efforts being made to keep political opponents under pressure.
“The selected government’s tactics to pressurise us are continuing, but we will not relinquish our struggle against them,” the PPP chairman said.
He reiterated that this year on his mother Benazir Bhutto’s death anniversary, a gathering would take place at Liaquat Bagh, where he said that the ‘selected government’ would be called out.
Meanwhile, in his message on the eve of Human Rights Day, Bilawal stressed the importance of the state honouring its contract to its citizens and upholding the human rights of every citizen regardless of gender, creed, caste or ethnicity. He went on to say that any dereliction of this duty by the state would be a deviation from the founding principles of Pakistan and would be tantamount to a betrayal of the ethos of Pakistan.
Bilawal, who also is chairman of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Human Rights, said that human rights violations were increasing in Pakistan since the installation of the federal government.
“The PTI government has overseen a campaign of repression of fundamental rights, from freedom of the press to freedom of association.” He went on to say that the Punjab government’s recent actions of filing FIRs against student leaders and the father of Mashal Khan for sedition were a damning indictment of the federal governments claims of being the state of Madina. “Freedom of expression, freedom of religion and belief, women and children’s rights and protection of vulnerable segments has to be ensured for a peaceful and progressive society,” he added. The PPP chairman also stated that the economic policies being followed by the government were infringing on the dignity and right to live of the less-privileged segments and were contributing to the further marginalisation and erasure of the poor.
Bilawal said that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto led a struggle for the protection of the nation’s democratic and human rights, and they laid down their lives for this cause.

#Pakistan - Hamid Mir and his consistency in admiring sectarian political cult of SSP/ASWJ

When Hamid Mir was working in daily Ausaf Islamabad, he conducted an interview with Molvi Azam Tariq and Zia-ur-Rahman farooqi top of the leaders in SSP, an sectarian militant cum political party. That interview was published in color edition on ful page of daily Ausaf Islamabad, Lahore, Multan, Karachi and Azad Kashmir editions.
In intro Hamid Mir introduced SSP as an emerging anti-feudal party in the province of Punjab particularly in Faisalabad Division. He admired the politics of Sipah e Sahaba Pakistan and even not a single sentence he had written in critical way in the intro of the published interview at that time.
He did very misguided and in fact pro-establishment analysis about performance of SSP in local bodies election in Punjab. He mentioned that PPP was the first political party which had shocked the feudal domination in Punjab but then that itself became party of feudal lords and now it is SSP which is emerging as anti-feudal political party in Punjab.
Actually Hamid Mir was presenting a sophistry based and totally false contrary to facts narrative about formation and origin of SSP. SSP from start was a organization having support in urban municipalities of Faisalabad Division and that support was also manufactured by local administrations due to directions from Ziaulhaqite Establishment. SSP couldn’t make dents in rural constituencies in Faisalabad division till the time when interview was conducted by Hamid Mir. There was urban municipalities where SSP had managed to get many seats of councilors and Chairmanship of only Jhang city and that was not only result of popularity of SSP in Jhang but that victory was also engineered and manufactured.
From 90s till today Hamid Mir’s journalism has one consistency, that is his love for Takfiri and sectarian radical tendency arose from Deobandi Sunni Hanafi tradition particularly for SSP aka #ASWJ.When Hamid Mir joined daily Jang then he projected and glorified leadership of SSP/ASWJ, Jihadi militant organizations like Harkatul Ansar first and then Jaish e Muhammad.Like in his journalism in daily Ausaf, in Jang-Geo media group his journalism served more for Alqaeda, Talibanism and Takfirism spread by Takfiri organizations like SSP.
He is included in army of those journalists who glorified Talibanization not only in Pakistan but in Afghanistan also. His heroes were Osama bin Laden, Mullah Umar, Haqnawaz Jhangvi, Azam Tariq, Ziaurahman Farooqi, Maulana Samiulhaq.
We have watch on TV screen him delivering emotional speech on funeral ceremony of Sami ul Haq, speaking in support of Taliban even on first death anniversary of martyred Dr. Sarfraz Naeemi in presence of Shahbaz Sharif. He promoted and projected Muhammad Ahmed Ludhiyanvi as ‘ambassador of peace’ in his popular TV talk show ‘Capital Talk’ on Geo TV like other so called anti-Establishment anchors-cum journalist(Talat Husain, Najam Sethi, Ijaz Haider and others). He admitted that Muhammad Ahmad Ludhiyanvi, Col(r) Khalid Khawaja and other notorious actors of Jihadi and Takfiri proxies and projects were/are his friends in Public.Recently once again he showed his love and devotion for Maulana Fazal ur Rahman in Public. In a video clip we saw him admiring clean and pious congregation in Islamabad organized by Fazal’s JUI and taunting Imran Khan-Qadri’s Dharna while mocking girls and women’s participation due to wearing colorful and modern dresses.He had tried to misguide reporters and journalists from international media who had come to cover sit-in of Shia Muslim community organized in Islamabad and to obfuscate Shia Genocide in Pakistan through false binaries like Shia-Sunni conflict, Iran-Saudi proxies etc.
Hamid Mir in his columns and Talk Show advocated of imposing restrictions on Procession of mourning of Imam Hussain and Birth Anniversary processions of Holy Prophet Muhammad صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم and argued that Pakistani economy suffers and citizens of Pakistan suffers, such false and contrary to the facts sophistry in fact first of all was propagated by Takfiri groups like SSP/ASWJ. In fact in the name of sufferings of citizens during Ashura or Milad month it was act of blaming the victims of faith based violence and terrorism, which had forced the governments to cordon off and seized the Procession routes.
Despite such oddly and shameful partisan journalism in support of sectarian, Jihadist and Takfiri elements Hamid Mir is still a progressive, anti-establishment and liberal iconic journalist in a big section of liberals and so called lefties.
In case of analysis about genesis of SSP/ASWJ and genesis of Takfirism, sectarianism, Jihadism and faith based militancy and violence emerged from Deobandi sect not only Hamid Mir but there are many more so called anti-establishment, Pro-democratic Journalists obfuscated the facts or twisted them and thus tend to create apologetic tendency about them.
We have seen long and in-detail interviews of Ludhiyanvi and Tahir Ashrafi in weekly ‘Friday Times’ and appearing Tahir Ashrafi as co-host in TV talk shows with so called liberal anchors like in TV Talk Show ‘Mien Our Maulana’ with Raza Rumi. As Hamid Mir projected Ludhiyanvi as Ambassador of Peace, Najam Sethi not only Ludhiyanvi but Ashrafi as moderate and Liberal cleric despite his venomous campaign against Salman Taseer, Asia Bibi.
Despite their dishonesty, committing of big fouls, their tendency of inclination to sectarianism and opportunism journalists cum anchors like Hamid Mir, Najam Sethi are romanticized and admired by so called educated middle chattering class of Pakistan.
They are radical and iconic journalists in eyes of chattering middle class living in big urban cities and they are admired their rebellious paraphrasing in literary and cultural festivals by liberals and some lefties, particularly when they make a artificial rags on censorship, controlling the media and public despite their ass licking of media owners.
Recently Hamid Mir, Asma Sherazi, Mazhar Abbas and Wusat Ullah Khan made rebellious paraphrasing while talking on freedom of press and plight of working journalists in the media industry in a session of 12th International Urdu Conference at Karachi Arts Council and they received a lot of admiration from section of Urban chattering class wearing liberal and left masks but such duffers didn’t dare to ask these so called radicals about their criminal silence over expulsions and forced terminations of hundreds of journalists without paying dues from Geo-Jang, Dawn, Aaj and others media groups.
Hamid Mir gets Rs 45 lac salary from Mir Shakeel Ur Rahman aka MSR Don which is equal to total budget of salaries of employees working in daily The News International Karachi. ( This figure is confirmed and I got it from accounts and admin section of the The News International Karachi station) Mazhar Abbas gets more than Rs 20 Lac. Neither Hamid Mir nor Mazhar Abbas stood along with expelled and terminated journalists from Geo, Jang, Inqlab and Awaz and not along with those who are still not being paid their dues against MSR Don.
Dawn Media group has also terminated dozens of employees, closed monthly Herald magazine, closed regional offices from Hyderabad, Faisalabad, Bahawalpur etc, terminated many employees working there and didn’t give there dues. Cartoonist Feica says that he was given Rs 30 lac instead of 70 lac and he was paid Rs 30 lac because friends and fans of Feica had run an effective campaign over this injustice. He says he had deserved for Award for Press Freedom from International Press bodies but mafia sitting in media groups like DAWN and Geo-Jang groups sent the names who are in fact integral part of commercial liberal mafia and ass-lickers of media owners like Zafar Abbas, Hamid Mir and even Asma Sherazi.
Darlings of media owners like Hamid Mir, Zafar Abbas, Shahzeb Khanzada, Asma Sherazi, Kashif Abbasi, Arshad Sharif, Sabir Shakir, Mubashir Luqman, Dr. Danish and Bla Bla get salaries in millions but one one side hundreds of regular on third-part contract reporters gets in thousands without many basic perks(and irregularity in paying their salaries is consistent practice and sword of termination always hangs over their heads) and on other side there are thousands of district and city reporters in all over the country are working without out any salary, even now many TV channels are not issuing even them authority letters to them. Why consciences of champions of Press Freedom like Hamid Mir, Zafar Abbas, Asma Sherazi, Sohail Warraich, Mazhar Abbas, Sabir Shakir, Wusatullah Khan, Shazeb Khanzada, Kamran Khan have not awaken for such bonded and slave reporters of TV channels and newspapers?
Media owners and their darling anchors and elite reporters either they are in camp of radical, progressive and liberal camp or pseudo patriot-positivist camp in fact are in network-cum mafia of exploiting and oppressing class. They are sellouts thugs.

Pakistani Authorities Suffer Apparent Setback In Twitter Wars

For years, Twitter served as a major cyber arena for ideas, influence, and reach in Pakistan, where the main battles were fought between pro-military users and a host of activists, students, politicians, rights campaigners, and journalists.
But the Pakistani authorities are now approaching Twitter to restore what appears to be a large number of suspended accounts after a major newspaper this week reported on how Twitter is being abused in the country.
“Twitter has recently suspended accounts of [a] number of Twitter users from Pakistan without any warning and on unsubstantiated grounds,” the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the main telecommunication regulator in the country, tweeted on December 4. “PTA considers action of Twitter admin against set principles of freedom of speech.”
The PTA asked users to report their suspended accounts so that it can raise the issue with Twitter. In the recent past, the PTA has issued takedown requests to numerous websites and social media platforms.
The suspensions apparently peaked after the country’s leading English-language daily, Dawn, reported on the manipulation and abuse of Twitter. In a December 2 expose, it showed that “almost 95% of the trending political campaigns in Pakistan are boosted artificially to mislead the public, giving a false impression that there is genuine grass-roots support or opposition for a particular group or narrative.”
The story showed how “hashtag merchants” or groups of real people with authentic accounts “propose and trend a campaign every day for Twitter users and sub-networks to amplify, rally retweets and celebrate when any of their hashtags makes it to the trending panel.”
Major General Asif Ghafoor, the military spokesman, expressed his displeasure over the suspensions on December 3.
“Pakistani users are facing problems on Twitter. Mostly on expressions in support of Kashmir. Accounts are being suspended on one pretext or the other,” he tweeted. “Authorities are in contact and issues will be resolved soon. Stay put as responsible users to defeat all those involved in this.”
But there were hints that the recent suspensions were not exclusively linked to Pakistan’s rivalry with neighboring India over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. In a December 4 tweet, Ghafoor alluded to the suspensions in December being linked to exiled Pakistani dissidents who frequently criticize Islamabad for censorship and extensive curbs on the media. They also accuse the military of running online troll armies to malign and discredit pro-democracy activists and rights campaigners.
“With less than 1% comparative reach ‘they’ elusively and wishfully claim winning 5GW,” Ghafoor tweeted on December 4 as here referred to “fifth-generation warfare,” a term Pakistani military officers and analysts use to identify security threats Islamabad faces because of cyber and information warfare. “A selfless voluntary passion for Pakistan as yours can never be defeated, let alone by ‘them’. And you know ‘them’,” he added.
As activists celebrated the takedown of what many see as troll accounts, Ghafoor again talked about the issue in an apparent bid to boost the morale of those whose accounts had been affected.
“Just don’t bother especially about the few irrelevant ran away ones,” he wrote. “Keep doing your sincere bit for good of Pakistan. Let them expose themselves through their foul expressions and failing attempts.”
It is not clear how many accounts Twitter has suspended, but searches on the platform revealed the numbers could be substantial, with some users complaining that they have suddenly lost thousands of followers.
A Twitter spokesperson told RFE/RL's Gandhara website that the company considers platform manipulation, including spam and other attempts to undermine the public conversation, a clear violation of its rules. "We take proactive action against millions of accounts each week for violating our policies in this area,” the spokesperson said.
Earlier a Twitter spokesperson told Dawn that the company does not allow platform manipulation regardless of the political views expressed. “This means that coordinated abuse, hateful conduct, attempts to game trends, and the spread of disinformation at scale are all violations of our policies,” the representative said.
Meanwhile, on December 6, some 100 protesters besieged Dawn’s Islamabad bureau for the second time in a week. They chanted slogans against the paper and set copies on fire.
In recent years, international media and rights watchdogs have frequently criticized Pakistan for imposing censorship on the media and launching harsh crackdowns against activists.