Monday, January 27, 2020
In Pakistan's Sindh province, where several cases of abduction, conversion and marriage of young Hindu girls have been reported in the recent past, another case surfaced on Sunday.A 24-year-old Hindu woman was allegedly kidnapped by assailants under the supervision of local police authorities from her wedding venue in Hala, a city located in Matiari district in Sindh province, about 215 km away from the provincial capital Karachi.According to reports, the woman Bharti Bai, was then forcefully converted to Islam and married to a Muslim man.Bharti was to be married to a Hindu man in Hala city, when unknown assailants allegedly stormed the venue and kidnapped her. Kishore Das, the father of Bharti Bai, said his daughter's marriage ceremony was underway when the kidnapper named Shah Rukh Gul came with several men along with policemen and took his daughter away in broad daylight.
Later, a picture of Bharti along with documents of her conversion to Islam and marriage to Shah Rukh Gul went viral on social media.
According to the documents of her conversion, it seems that Bharti had converted to Islam on December 1, 2019, which may be the reason why she was taken away from her wedding venue.As per the conversion certificate, Bharti's new name after converting to Islam is 'Bushra'. Jamiat-ul-Uloom Islamia, located at Allama Muhammad Yousuf Banuri town in Karachi, issued the certificate of Bharti's conversion while her conversion was witnessed and certified by Mufti AbuBakar Saeed ur Rehman.
As per her National Identity Card, details of which were shared in the documents, her permanent address is in Hala. However, her temporary address is of Gulshan Iqbal area in Karachi, which may be taken as her current area of residence.
It is still uncertain as to when she got married to Shah Rukh Gul. However, her marriage certificate aka nikkah document shows that the Muslim man is also a resident of Hala. Shah Rukh, the son of Nisar Ahmed, is also 24 years old.The family of Bharti aka Bushra has demanded for her return, who they claim was kidnapped by Shah Rukh under the supervision and presence of local police authorities.On the other hand, it is being said that Bharti had converted to Islam at least one month prior to the incident. Her parents allegedly found out about her conversion and were getting her married to a Muslim man forcibly.
It is being claimed that the news of her marriage prompted Shah Rukh Gul to go to the police and claim that Bharti aka Bushra was his wife and being married off by her parents to a Hindu man illegally.
Even though the news and details of the whole episode is based on details gathered from locals in Hala, the issue has raised serious concerns amongst the Hindu community in Pakistan, who are questioning the Imran Khan-led government of its promises to provide security to minorities in the country.
India and Pakistan are two separate countries. But they have a common problem: corruption. The problem is getting worse under two celebrated Prime Ministers, Narendra Modi in India, and Imran Khan in Pakistan. That's according to a recent ranking published by Transparency International. India ranks 80th out of 180 countries listed. That's two notches below the 2018 ranking and four notches down from 2014 when Modi became Prime Minister. Corruption under Prime Minister Modi includes a wave of high-profile scandals that shook his administration during his first term in office. Like a muddy 7.8 billion euro weapons contract to purchase 36 Rafale jet fighters from France. And a $2 billion bank fraud uncovered at India's state-owned Punjab National Bank. Pakistan ranks 120th, three notches below the 2018 ranking when Khan became Prime Minister. Corruption in Pakistan under Prime Minister Khan includes high profile cases like one of the Khan's cabinet members who kept Rs465 millions of properties in his servant's name.
Both leaders have made fighting corruption central to their re-election campaigns, promising to clean up this old vice from their respective countries. And they have taken measures to follow through with their promise.Modi, in particular, has gone as far as to launch unconventional means like getting rid of "black money," ie, the 500 and 1000 rupee notes. Khan has launched measures to fight tax evasion and corruption. However, the Modi and Khan governments have been fighting corruption in the wrong places — among their countries’ poor. And they have left corruption thriving in the high areas, among the rich and powerful. Persistent corruption is one of the old vices of frontier and emerging markets. It creates monopolies and oligopolies in critical economic sectors, limiting competition and raising the prices for necessary products consumed by the masses. Higher prices for necessities, in turn, fuel runaway inflation, another vice of frontier and emerging market economies, which is followed by social unrest, the third vice of these economies. All three vices prevent emerging economies from achieving sustainable economic growth, and from spreading the benefits of economic growth from a narrow elite to the masses. Sadly, the Modi and Khan administrations confirm the hypothesis that populist regimes of all kinds and sorts come to office with a promise to get rid of corruption. But all too often they embrace the existing situation they embrace once in office. This has been thoroughly argued by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson in Why Nations Fail: The Origins Of Power, Prosperity And Poverty.
According to authorities and independent research groups, militant violence since 2002 has forced more than five million people in Pakistan's north-west to leave their homes to seek refuge either in government-run refugee camps or rented houses in peaceful areas.
There are no official figures of the total death toll of this war but estimates from academics, local authorities and activists put the number of civilians, militants and security forces killed at well over 50,000.
Many see the PTM as breaking new ground in the political landscape of a country where proxy wars have disenfranchised large populations not only in tribal areas and the north-west, but also in Balochistan and other parts of the country.
By Asad Hashim
Pashteen, leader of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement, was taken into custody in the northwestern city of Peshawar.
Pakistani police say they have arrested prominent rights activist Manzoor Pashteen, the leader of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), which is known for its strident criticism of the country's powerful military for alleged enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.
Pashteen was arrested late on Sunday from the Shaheen Town area of the northwestern city of Peshawar, police official Nabibul Khan told Al Jazeera.
"He was required in a case by the police from Dera Ismail Khan city police station, so we [arrested him]," said Khan.
According to the police report, he was arrested on sedition charges.
As the PTM rose to prominence through nationwide rallies, police routinely filed cases alleging Pashteen and other PTM leaders committed sedition in their speeches.
However, it is the first time Pashteen has been arrested in such a case.
Mohsin Dawar, a PTM leader and member of parliament, confirmed the arrest to Al Jazeera.
"This is our punishment for demanding our rights in a peaceful [and] democratic manner," Dawar said in a Twitter post on Monday. "But Manzoor's arrest will only strengthen our resolve."
Pashteen, in his 20s, and a small group of other young activists who had been displaced by the Pakistani military's war against the Taliban in their native South Waziristan, founded the PTM in Dera Ismail Khan, located about 250km south of Peshawar.They shot to national prominence in 2017 when the group championed the cause of Naqeebullah Mehsud, the victim of an extrajudicial killing by a notorious Pakistani counterterrorism police officer.Since then, Pashteen has led rallies of thousands across the country, demanding justice for other victims of enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and alleged torture while in security forces' custody.His group has also demanded that the Pakistani military clear the country's northwestern tribal districts - the site of the war against the Pakistan Taliban since 2007 - of all land mines and other unexploded ordnance.
'Funded by foreign intelligence services'
The group has long been in the crosshairs of Pakistan's military, which has directly ruled the country for roughly half of its 73-year history and still holds control over security and foreign policy.
Coverage of PTM rallies and Pashteen's statements is regularly censored across Pakistani news media.
In April, the military warned the PTM that its "time is up", accusing the group of being funded by foreign intelligence services. PTM denies the charges and has invited the military to make its evidence of any such funding public.
A month later, a PTM rally clashed with security forces at a checkpoint in the northwestern district of North Waziristan. Soldiers fired into the crowd, killing at least three people, rights activists say.
Police registered a terrorism case against Dawar, the member of parliament, who was leading the rally and spent days in hiding following the violence.
He was eventually arrested, alongside fellow PTM leader and Member of Parliament Ali Wazir, and held for three months before being released on bail for lack of evidence against them.