Saturday, February 22, 2020
By Mannan Samad
The students of Balochistan have long been beset by the egregious circle of violence, ruthlessness, persecution, exploitation, intimidation entailing unfathomable pain and anguish triggered via various angles which remains unabated so far. Students are regarded as the future builders of any nation. They are the valuable assets of the nation who are overwhelmingly contributing for the progress and advancement of the country but the despicable maneuvering to push students to the wall is highly lamentable, unacceptable and condemnable. It is very frustrating to jot down that students, in this hapless province, seem more on roads than academic boundaries. They are perpetually engrossed in staging protest demonstrations to seek acceptance of their demands instead of being engrossed in their studies.
There is no iota of doubt that it is a planned and organized conspiracy of unidentified or identified plotters to close the doors of education by inducting gruesome tactics after every passing day. The entanglement of students, in protests, lurking from one problem to another problem, is, no doubt, a glaring manifestation of putting students away from the essence of education. The anti-education elements know if they (students) acquire education, they (students) witness stumbling blocks on the way of materializing their nefarious designs.The University of Balochistan blackmailing scandal leaves no ambiguities to corroborate my aforementioned notions. The scandal largely parked hue and cry in societal spheres, political circles and education boundaries in which students particularly female students were allegedly blackmailed and harassed by the security officials and vercity faculty under the tutlage of Vice Chancellor in order to extort money, extinguish lust and restrict students in getting access to education.
On the one hand, the scandal left a visible stain on education system of the province, while on the other hand, it has massively bolstered the stereotype of confining girls and women within the boundry of home and mere monitor the domestic activities. The eruption of scandel came as a jolt for all conservative families of Balochistan, aftermaths, they (families) piled up pressures on concerned students to return home immediately and skip education in halfway. A number of students did alike as they were submissive at the behest of their families. This has directly affected the literacy proportion of women education. The plotters somewhat become victorious in closing the doors of education for female students in an already-educationally marginalized province.
After the very few days of vercity scandal, another mishap emerged out wherein the house offiers of Bolan University of Medical and Health Sciences (BUMHS) were forcibly ejected from their hostel. Assistant Commissioner (AC) Quetta Nida Kazmi was seen in a video who was misbehaving and threatening the female students of dire consequences, aftermaths, the video went viral on social media invoking a wave of anger and outrage on behalf of public. The Governor and Chief Secretary neither took notice of force ejection of female doctors nor they issued directives regarding new hostel for postgraduate doctors which frankly domonstrates the sheer reluctance of promoting women’s education.
The students of BMC are now grappling with another issue which is drastically adding to their financial woes. The students and employees of BMC are protesting over the past several weeks against the privatization of the institute. The have been conducting peaceful sit-ins in order to meet their demands. They demand that Bolan Medical College (BMC) should be restored, BMC2017Act should be changed, the decision of hike fees should be reversed and University Vice-Chancellor should be sacked immediately. But it is very lamenting that around,128 students and employees of the veracity were arrested at GPO Chowk recently in Quetta through the hooliganism of police. Peaceful protesters were heading towards Balochistan assembly to stage a peaceful sit-in in front of assembly in favour of their demands when police launched a crackdown against the students but this shameful act couldn’t break their resolve for marching towards provincial assembly.
Embarrassingly, police also tried to arrest the female students. In a video, women were seen being humiliated and beaten up at the hands of police, went viral on social media which jolted the reputation and reverence of the Baloch society. The act of beating and humiliating women is flagrantly against the values and traditions of Baloch nation.
It is outrightly astounding that police misbehaved inappropriately with the peaceful protesters instead of provinding adequate security to them. On the one hand, police is considered a protective entity which is supposed to deliver safety to the ordinary folk, but on the other hand, it is promoting the culture of violence and prevailing an atmosphere of awe and trepidation.
The students of BMC are now grappling with another issue which is drastically adding to their financial woes. The students and employees of BMC are protesting over the past several weeks against the privatization of the institute
Resorting to violence is the emblem of immature democracies while suppressing the dissent voices reeks of directorial tactics. It is the constitutional right of every citizen to conduct peaceful protest demonstration. It must be noted that torturing the peaceful protesters is not a good omen in a democratic country. The vanguard role of students in the democratic struggles of the country should not be denied at any cost.
The Balochistan government is hell bent upon neglecting the serious issue of BMC privatization and tends to turn a deaf ear to the demands of concerned students. It seems oblivious in terms of addressing the genuine grievances of the students instead of the fact that, education is a provincial subject after the implementation of 18th amendment.
Time is ripe the incumbent government should wake up from its deep slumber to take stern action against the corrupt and incompetent administration in order to foil the hideous designs of privatizating BMC and restore the veracity which is the only ray of hope for the thousands of medical students of the province.
Hopes were raised by Prime Minister Imran Khan who claimed during his electoral campaign that he would not only empower the parliament but would personally attend parliamentary sessions.Long ago our political science teachers taught us that any parliament is expected to perform three basic functions: bona fide representation of citizens’ interests, effective and honest legislation and monitoring government actions in public interest. In an ideal democratic set-up, public representatives are supposed to perform a legislative function besides introducing legislation on their own, because they are entrusted with the power to amend, approve or reject draft laws introduced by the government.
IF I were mad enough to occupy a federal government building in Islamabad with a group of like-minded men and women, you can easily imagine the consequences: we would be thrashed, dragged to jail and probably charged with sedition.
However, this is not what civil society protesters experience when they are agitating against human rights violations so widespread in Pakistan. They are usually beaten up and taken to jail. Our cops know they have no lobby or party to back them, so they are free to wield their sticks with great gusto.Another aspect of this equation is the fact that while secular, free-thinking protesters are viewed as godless people deserving of no sympathy, other agitators are regarded as doing their religious duty. They are thus exempt from manmade laws. This view is widely shared by law-enforcement agencies, much of the judiciary and the bureaucracy.Then, of course, there is the recurring need of the establishment for allies: time after time, religious parties have given military dictators political cover and legitimacy. They have also provided foot soldiers for the ‘jihad’. Few figures in uniform would wish to alienate potential supporters.
Finally, there are Saudi finances for seminaries that promote a rigid brand of religion. True, some of this money comes via the private sector, but we still suffer the consequences.
To be fair, Pakistan is not the only state where extremists are treated differently from liberals. Just look at what’s happening in Modi’s India where Hindutva nationalists are aided by the police as they thrash and murder those protesting the new anti-Muslim law. University students and professors have been targeted. Instead of protecting them, cops have joined the hooligans in beating up liberals. Needless to say, Hindu nationalists form the core of Modi’s support.
Trump’s America has seen a similar swing in attitude. Today, white supremacists — once on the fringes of society — have been empowered by Trump’s rhetoric, and are now spearheading his re-election campaign.
Clearly, right-wing politicians have spotted an opportunity in the shape of a nationalistic resurgence. This resembles the Fascist rise to power in Italy and Germany in the 1930s, and one can only hope it will not be as destructive.
It is clear that the right wing is on the march. In part, it draws its energy from the mass movement of migrants, and the local resentment it generates. But equally importantly, a dislike of the globalised elite, and the condescending attitude of the college-educated drive much of the resentment we see today.
Another problem for progressive elements is their inability to take to the streets with the kind of fervour and righteousness shown by Pakistan’s religious right. While we are perfectly happy to sign online petitions, the reality is that these don’t bother the establishment at all. Until we are willing and able to put our skin on the line, we shouldn’t expect things to change.
By Ayaz Gul
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) met Friday at its headquarters in Paris and reviewed Islamabad’s commitments under an action plan agreed to with the international agency. It decided to keep Pakistan off its blacklist in the wake of “recent and notable improvements,” giving the country four months to deliver on its remaining commitments.
In a post-meeting statement, however, the FATF said that while it recognized progress made by Islamabad, it was concerned about the failure to complete the action plan to reduce money laundering and terrorist financing risks.“The FATF strongly urges Pakistan to swiftly complete its full action plan by June 2020,” said the global agency. “Otherwise, should significant and sustainable progress, especially in prosecuting and penalizing TF [terrorism financing] not be made by the next plenary, the FATF will take action.”
Call for special scrutiny
The watchdog group said punitive action could include the FATF calling on member states and urging all jurisdictions to give special attention to investment-related business relations and transactions with Pakistan.
“FATF members agreed to maintain Pakistan’s status on FATF’s Compliance Document, normally referred [to] as the gray list,” the Pakistani government said in a statement issued after the Paris meeting.
Pakistan was placed on the “gray list” in 2018 for a lack of adequate controls over terrorism financing, which made foreign firms more cautious about investing in the South Asian nation.
Islamabad has long been accused of harboring and supporting Islamist militant organizations allegedly orchestrating terrorist attacks in neighboring Afghanistan and India. Pakistan rejects the accusations and has been able to avoid being blacklisted because of support from close allies, including China, Malaysia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.Finance Ministry adviser Abdul Hafeez Shaikh hailed Beijing’s continued “massive support” in FATF meetings.
“China and other brotherly countries have supported Pakistan throughout the process in terms of guiding the country to improve its frameworks,” Shaikh said in a statement his office issued Friday.
The Pakistani government maintains it has taken “significant” steps in recent months to address terrorism-financing-related deficiencies under the FATF action plan.
Just days before Friday’s meeting in Paris, a special court in Pakistan convicted a radical cleric, Hafiz Saeed, and an associate in terrorism-related cases, giving Saeed two 5½-year prison sentences that will run concurrently.
The Pakistani cleric became a known figure worldwide when the group he headed at the time, Lashkar-e-Taiba, or LeT, was blamed for a series of coordinated attacks lasting almost four days in Mumbai, India's financial capital, in November 2008. The attacks killed 166 people, among them, Americans, Canadians and Europeans.
The United States has offered a financial reward for bringing Saeed to justice.
Senior State Department diplomat Alice Wells swiftly hailed the February 12 Pakistani court ruling.
“Today’s conviction of Hafiz Saeed and his associate is an important step forward – both toward holding LeT accountable for its crimes, and for Pakistan in meeting its international commitments to combat terrorist financing,” tweeted Wells, the State Department's principal deputy assistant secretary.