Friday, July 23, 2021
Opinion: By Jonathan CapehartCan’t believe I’m going to share this story to get into a considered opinion on voting rights, but . . . here goes. Back in the day, when you had to go to a store to rent movies on VHS tapes, a certain hormonal teen approached the counter with four or so G-rated titles. As I handed them to the clerk, I prayed he would make no mention of the racy movie mingled with them. No such luck. The clerk rattled off each title aloud. And when he hit that smutty film, he not only raised his voice, he turned a one-syllable title into a multi-second public comeuppance. Shamed but undeterred, I took the movie home.This embarrassing episode came to mind after reading John C. Ackerman’s op-ed in The Post entitled “Are our election laws here in Illinois also ‘21st century Jim Crow?’” No Republican president has won Illinois since 1988, thus defining it as a blue state. Ackerman, a Republican and the county clerk in Tazewell County Ill., uses that status to hammer away at Democratic criticisms of new voter (suppression) laws in Republican-controlled states. He compares and contrasts Illinois’ restrictions on vote-by-mail, third-party ballot collection, ballot drop boxes, and bans on distributing food and water to folks waiting in line to vote to those being rushed through in Georgia, Texas and Florida. The spirit of John Lewis lives on in the voting rights fight Most notably, Ackerman took issue with President Biden and other Democrats who call the current cluster of restrictive laws “21st century Jim Crow.” And he especially took offense at the president, in his powerful defense of voting rights last week, asking aloud of Republicans, “Have you no shame?” In response, Ackerman says it is the Democrats “and their media allies” who are shameless. Nope, not by a long shot. What Ackerman seems to hope no one will notice is the equivalent of that naughty VHS tape I hoped that clerk would overlook. Leave aside, for the moment, Republican objections to how and when votes are cast and by whom. Focus on this: Ackerman has nary a word to say about the moves by Republican governors and legislatures to rig who gets to count the votes and whether said votes count at all. The Georgia law strips the independently elected secretary of state of their role as chair of the state’s election board. Instead, the chair will now be elected by the General Assembly, which is controlled by Republicans. This galling change came after Brad Raffensperger, a Republican who declared “the process was fair and accurately counted,” resisted the demands of then-President Donald Trump to “find 11,780 votes.” “To me, this is simple: This is election subversion. It’s the most dangerous threat to voting and the integrity of free and fair elections in our history. Never before have they decided who gets to count — count — what votes count,” Biden correctly assessed in his speech. “Some . . . state legislatures want to make it harder for you to vote. And if you vote, they want to be able to tell you your vote doesn’t count for any reason they make up. They want the ability to reject the final count and ignore the will of the people if their preferred candidate loses.” On the filibuster, ‘stop being afraid of Mitch McConnell ’cause he’s not afraid of you' This is the threat that looms large over next year’s midterm elections and the 2024 presidential vote. This is why there is such urgency around passage of the For the People Act, which continues to languish in the evenly divided Senate. And this is why the calls are growing louder for reforming the filibuster to allow passage of that vote-protection bill by a simple majority. But the onus is not just on Democrats or the president to protect the integrity of our elections and, therefore, our republic. It is on local officials like Ackerman. As Biden said: “We must ask those who represent us at the federal, state, and local levels: Will you deny the will of the people? Will you ignore their voices?” So far, if Ackerman is any barometer, the Republican response is an undeterred and shameful silence.
#JusticeForNoor - Murder of ex-diplomat’s daughter has shaken #Pakistan. Media & money are both being questioned
The brutal murder of 27-year-old Noor Mukadam has sparked fresh debate over the safety of women. Now there are thousands of tweets asking for justice.Pakistanis are asking what it will take to punish influential criminals in the country. This time they are angry over the brief abduction of an Afghan envoy’s daughter and the murder of a former Pakistani diplomat’s daughter in the span of a few days. Citizens are trending #JusticeForNoor to search for answers that authorities won’t give them. The grisly murder of 27-year-old Noor Mukadam, daughter of former diplomat Shaukat Mukadam, has sparked fresh debate about the safety of women. According to reports, Noor Mukadam was shot at and beheaded after a quarrel in a residence in a posh area of Islamabad Tuesday. Allegedly, over a breakup. The suspect, Zahir Jaffer, whose father is reportedly the CEO of a construction company in Islamabad, was arrested at the crime scene Tuesday.
Questions have been raised over how the Pakistani media reported the incident – revealing more about the victim than the suspect – and Jaffer’s mental health and ‘plan’ to leave for the US.What happened to Noor
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
BY Qamar RafiqOpen your eyes as wide as you can and take note of where you are, why you are, and who you are with? For too long, our politics has been alienated by those who believe that decency, compassion, and honesty are not important ingredients of a recipe. That is why our politics has remained polarised to rust the compass that activates magnets of wisdom and prosperity in a society. Today, the gap between the status quo and real life has become treacherously visible, and ironically, the faith in politics as a hope for change and a force for good has doomed over the entire country. It is almost eight years since Imran Khan stood at D-Chowk to tell us that he had a “vigorous plan” to fix the loopholes of the economic and social care system and offered multiple reform schemes. And yet we are no closer to any semblance of one. Perhaps, he seems so desperate to steal himself a slice of ecstasy, whereas, the members of his squad are carrying a knife in their pockets, looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies. To the best of my knowledge, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leadership seems tired, exhausted, confused, aggravated and much more doubtful as to whether they have a strategy to deliver jobs, good health care, education, and basic utilities of life. Now in 2021, an entire generation of young people have almost no chance of getting jobs whilst gig economy workers are left to moan in grinding poverty. Instead of showing us the way forward, PTI’s inadequate domestic policies have rightly declared a war on overloaded healthcare and outdated education system which has bruised the dream of a welfare state.
The National Council of Free Balochistan Movement (FBM) chaired by Hyrbyair Marri was held on July 4th, 2021 after the completion of the first term of the central cabinet.
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
There is a very serious threat knocking at the gates of Pakistani establishment, and it’s well inside the country. China is not going to like that at all.It couldn’t have got more embarrassing for Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmud Qureshi. A blast on a bus kills more than 13 people, including nine Chinese dam workers in the remote areas of Kohistan in northern Pakistan. According to a Chinese readout, Qureshi informed China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi at a meeting in Dushanbe that it was a mechanical failure resulting in leakage of gas. The Chinese minister emphatically said that it was not. Turns out that Beijing was right. That says something about the abilities of both countries. But it’s curious that China chose to do so publicly, before the Pakistani establishment had time to draw breath. A furious China has already sent its own investigation team to, quite literally, dig through the evidence. In its own interest, Beijing would be advised to also look carefully into the reasons why Chinese nationals are being targeted not just in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but also in other provinces like Sindh and Balochistan. The usual cry of subversion from India is lazy analysis. Dig deeper. Blast at Dasu hydropower project, Kohistan The blast targeted a bus belonging to the China Gezhouba Group, which is building the Dasu hydropower station on the Indus River in Kohistan, carrying 41 people, 28 of them Chinese. Five other Chinese companies are involved in other sectors on the project, which was financed initially by the World Bank. The Chinese embassy confirmed that nine of its nationals were among the 13 killed, which also reportedly includes two Pakistani servicemen.One report suggests the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber in an explosives-packed vehicle. That’s quite a stretch from ‘mechanical failure’ or sabotage as pointed out by local officials. It’s all rather puzzling. Meanwhile, Qureshi is being sent hot foot to Beijing to assuage Chinese anger, while Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed was in a more than half-an-hour ‘conversation’ with China’s public security minister. In addition, a virtual meeting of the Joint Coordination Committee has been postponed. Everybody wants to attack the Chinese? Dasu is not on the list of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) energy projects. That makes the attack rather curious, since Pakistanis regularly accuse ‘foreign forces’ and India of targeting projects under the CPEC like the Gwadar Port. A collation of facts indicate that these attacks began decades before such projects were even thought of. The first known attacks against Chinese nationals in Pakistan started in 2004 and were claimed by the Baloch Liberation Front. In July 2007, Chinese nationals were attacked in Peshawar, but this was linked to Pakistan’s storming of the Lal Masjid that year. That was when extremists inside the mosque protested against the activities of Chinese sex workers and abducted seven Chinese women. The clerics said they valued friendship with China, but would not allow such immoral activities. Thereafter were random attacks, such as one in 2018 against two Chinese citizens who worked with Cosco Shipping Lines, a company operating in Pakistan since the 1980s. With some 44 attacks between 2014 and 2016, more suspects became apparent. That included the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), and later the Pakistani Taliban, who claimed the recent attack on the Peshawar luxury hotel, at a time when the Chinese ambassador was staying there. It seems there are as many suspects as there are attacks. Suspect No. 1: Dissident Uyghurs, ETIM Uyghur unhappiness with China dates back to the 1950s, when Osman Batur led a rebellion in Xinjiang, which sparked severe repression. But the ETIM was raised in 1993, operating mainly from Pakistan. Despite repeated requests to end their activities, Islamabad managed to kill its leader Hasan Mahsum only in 2003, while milking the Chinese for economic assistance all along. And as noted above, the first attacks against the Chinese began in 2004. But China was not deceived. In 2011, the China Daily was noting, “The leaders of the group learned terrorist techniques in ETIM camps in Pakistan before they penetrated into Xinjiang.” This was a clear sign of Chinese fury. Then came a car bomb attack on Tiananmen Square in October 2013, and a series of other attacks thereafter. Then-Army chief General Raheel Sharif promised a crackdown, and air attacks followed in the tribal areas. By then, however, associations had been made with other groups like al-Qaeda, which was even admitted by the US, which briefly designated it as a terrorist organisation. As of now, Uyghurs remain in Pakistan, with some admitting that they assist fellow citizens in Xinjiang to escape the now infamous detention camps in the province. One probable cause for terrorism is, therefore, the most simple one — those badly affected are hitting back, wherever and whenever they can. And that is clearly most easily done from inside Pakistan, a long-time ‘friend’ of the extremist narrative. Suspect No. 2: Pakistani Taliban, unrest in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Then there are the Pakistani Taliban, a thorn in the side of the Pakistani military since 2007, when the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was first formed by Baitullah Mehsud, a former ‘mujahideen’ recruited to fight the Russians, and then the Afghan Taliban. He has been described as a charismatic leader who reigned over a bloody series of attacks, primarily against the Pakistan Army, including one on the ISI headquarters. Mehsud’s death in a US drone attack in 2009 led to the TTP splintering into small groups, some stooges of the Pakistan Army itself. One instance of this was a suspicious ‘escape’ of Ehsanullah Ehsan and his later interview from Turkey (a known Pakistan ally), which indicated that he had arranged a ‘deal’ with military intelligence. Ehsan was, however, right in predicting a TTP revival as evident from the April 2021 bombing of the Peshawar hotel. But it does not seem to have been specific to China, with even Chinese mouthpiece Global Times observing that the group wanted to “create bigger noise by targeting Chinese nationals…in a bid to advance a “malicious domestic agenda”, and quoting Chinese sources that said locals were not anti-China at all.People in these areas have, however, been seething with resentment against the Pakistani military. This is most apparent in the PTM (Pashtun Tahafuz Movement), an entirely non-violent group that has been protesting the abduction and humiliation of locals for decades. Its popularity has spread across the country, leading to it being labelled ‘foreign funded’ without the slightest evidence and its leaders being murdered in broad daylight. Unhappiness following the ‘historic’ merger of the tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2018, which was opposed by various tribes even at the time, has increased with elders demanding revocation of the merger, while a black day was observed against it on 1 June in the restive Khyber area. In sum, the very real grievances against the iron hand of Islamabad has led to an explosive situation, where any friend of the State is seen as an enemy. Suspect No. 3: Balochistan ‘terrorism’ and decades of repression The story repeats itself in Balochistan, where the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) recently claimed a series of attacks on Chinese telecommunications installations, and detained several employees. It accuses Islamabad of using the Universal Service Fund fibre optic service to spy on them. This project worth PKR 5.11 bn was awarded to Chinese companies last year. Again, Baloch opposition to Pakistan’s dominance goes back to the time of Pakistan’s betrayal of the Khan of Kalat in March 1948. The history of repression and Baloch courage is too long to be adequately outlined here, but suffice to say that the thousands of heinous attacks on Baloch youth have been ignored by the so-called ‘international community’ for years. But it exists, and continues to grow such as the recent murder of respected Baloch leader Usman Kakkar. The spectacle of massive crowds grieving his passing was ignored by the Pakistani media, now largely tamed into submission. But that resentment again leads Baloch groups to view the Chinese as much of an occupation force as the ‘Punjabis’ who push its agenda. And now for the ‘accused’ Pakistanis are most prone to accusing India and the US primarily for anything and everything, including the actions of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a body whose job it is to root out financing of terrorism across the world. At various times, there are cries of an Axis with Israel’s Mossad. Overwhelming evidence over decades shows that Pakistan has not only become a resting place for terrorists of every shade, but its own government also seems to be tilting more and more to the Right. Prime Minister Imran Khan wasn’t called ‘Taliban Khan’ for nothing. Now it seems that the Army has got it right, as usual. Najam Sethi reports that the top brass has warned the government and media not to glamourise the Afghan Taliban – probably because it would further expose Pakistan’s role. But more to the point, it has asked that activities of the Pakistani Taliban in Balochistan and tribal areas not be reported in the press. Apparently, there is a very serious threat knocking at the gates of the establishment, and it’s well inside the country. Beijing is not going to like that at all. Suspect No. 3: Balochistan ‘terrorism’ and decades of repression The story repeats itself in Balochistan, where the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) recently claimed a series of attacks on Chinese telecommunications installations, and detained several employees. It accuses Islamabad of using the Universal Service Fund fibre optic service to spy on them. This project worth PKR 5.11 bn was awarded to Chinese companies last year. Again, Baloch opposition to Pakistan’s dominance goes back to the time of Pakistan’s betrayal of the Khan of Kalat in March 1948. The history of repression and Baloch courage is too long to be adequately outlined here, but suffice to say that the thousands of heinous attacks on Baloch youth have been ignored by the so-called ‘international community’ for years. But it exists, and continues to grow such as the recent murder of respected Baloch leader Usman Kakkar. The spectacle of massive crowds grieving his passing was ignored by the Pakistani media, now largely tamed into submission. But that resentment again leads Baloch groups to view the Chinese as much of an occupation force as the ‘Punjabis’ who push its agenda. https://theprint.in/opinion/china-will-need-to-sift-through-a-long-list-of-suspects-attacking-its-citizens-in-pakistan/698567/
I pray that Eid-ul-Azha heralds an auspicious future for not only our nation, but the entire world – Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari
Monday, July 19, 2021
The United States is at an unprecedented juncture of the pandemic, where just under half the population is fully vaccinated, health and safety restrictions are looser than they have been in 18 months, and cases of new coronavirus infections are once again on the rise after months of decline. “The pandemic is not over, and delta changes the calculus,” Joel Wertheim, an associate professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health at the University of California at San Diego, told The Washington Post. As the delta variant spreads, the messaging from public health experts and officials is unequivocal: Vaccines are the best protection against severe illness and hospitalization. More than 97 percent of new hospitalizations from the delta variant are from people who are unvaccinated, making what Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, calls “a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” In this summer of covid freedom, disease experts warn: ‘The world needs a reality check’ Health experts said even though the delta variant is more infectious than the original strain that first took hold in the United States last year, precautions can help both vaccinated and unvaccinated people limit their risk.Los Angeles County recently decided to reinstate indoor mask rules — regardless of a person’s vaccination status — on account of rising coronavirus infections and hospitalizations. Some other cities have also begun urging the vaccinated to wear masks inside again. Here’s what to know: If I’m fully vaccinated, do I need to wear a mask indoors? The CDC announced in the spring that people who are fully vaccinated can go without masks in most indoor settings, except when required by certain federal, state and local guidelines. Several health experts who spoke to The Washington Post said the CDC mask guidance is insufficient.Emily Landon, chief infectious-disease epidemiologist at University of Chicago Medicine, said the CDC should have included parameters on the mask rules, such as establishing a threshold allowing unvaccinated people to go without masks only if a certain percent of the population is inoculated. “I think the CDC in May made a mistake,” Landon said. “They made a recommendation based on biological science, but not any social science. Unfortunately, the policy of letting people self-sort into vaccinated and unvaccinated resulted in a sort of behavioral science problem.” Several experts consulted by The Post said it is safe for fully vaccinated people to spend time indoors with others who are fully vaccinated. The shots have proved widely effective, even in crowded indoor settings. But they said it is nonetheless a smart practice to continue wearing masks in environments where there might be people who are not inoculated. Masks can help prevent the wearer from getting covid-19, and also protect those who haven’t gotten the shot and could be at risk of complications if they get sick. Though “breakthrough infections” are rare among the fully vaccinated, some, mostly mild, cases have been reported. Experts say it is smart to try to avoid getting even a mild case of the virus. “If you yourself have been fully vaccinated for at least two weeks and if people you are spending time with have been fully vaccinated for a least two weeks, you can feel relatively safe about not having to mask indoors,” said Betty Jean “BJ” Ezell, who serves as a vaccine hesitancy outreach coordinator for Citrus County, Fla. Is attending a big outdoor gathering such as a wedding or a concert high-risk? On the spectrum of risk, an outdoor setting for fully vaccinated, masked and socially distanced people is the safest — but maybe not an ideal party situation. Ezell said it’s a good idea to mask up or socially distance if you’re at a large gathering outdoors and don’t know whether the people around you are vaccinated as “the delta variant has shown that it’s rampant and unforgiving in its ability to spread.” “When you talk about outdoor weddings and parks, I think physical distancing is still a good thing because an infected person may be asymptomatic,” Ezell said. While the outdoors is generally less risky for coronavirus transmission because of ventilation, Yonatan Grad, an associate professor at the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said to stay aware of your exposure to other people, noting that an experimental outdoor music festival in the Netherlands in early July has since been linked to nearly 1,000 new infections. Grad encouraged people to look at risk not just through a binary lens of “safe” or “unsafe.” Other factors such as the rates of infection and vaccination in a given area are key. Going to a party in a community with rising covid-19 cases and lackluster inoculation numbers, for example, could be riskier than attending one in an area with a strong vaccination rate. “'Safe' can imply that you’re totally protected,” he said. “The goal for many people is to be at the lowest risk possible.” I’ve had only my first dose of the vaccine. Do I have enough protection from the delta variant? “The data from the U.K. suggest that the protection from a single dose of the vaccine is low for the delta variant,” Grad said. “There’s a big jump in the level of protection with the second dose for the delta variant specifically.” Wertheim agreed. “We have this large swath of America that has only gotten one dose, and if we could only get them to get a second shot, I think that’s a group where we could make a big difference,” he said. “If you’ve been slow about getting a second dose, now is the time.” Wertheim said people should get their second dose even if they’ve had an extended interval since their first shot. “There’s no evidence to suggest that waiting longer [to get the second dose] is worse.” My children aren’t old enough to get a vaccine. How can I protect them? Even though children tend to have milder cases of covid-19, Landon said infections in children are following the trend lines in delta variant hot spots: States with large outbreaks are seeing more children with infections. “I understand that it’s really enticing to think of covid as just another cold, but it’s not,” Landon said of the typically milder infections in children. “It’s always best to avoid getting sick at all.” For children who aren’t old enough to get a vaccine, Landon said adults and older siblings can reduce the risk to these children by avoiding crowded indoor settings and wearing a mask inside. Experts also advise common-sense precautions to prevent all respiratory illnesses. “We still pay attention to hand-washing — sing that ‘Happy Birthday’ song twice — we still pay attention to masking and the fit of the mask,” Ezell said. However, the intensive surface cleaning that people engaged in early in the pandemic is no longer considered necessary. Can I resume working out at the gym if I’m vaccinated? “I wish there were hard numbers we could give for all of these variations to questions about risk,” Grad said. “But it’s a question of what risk you want to tolerate.”Getting as much ventilation as possible in an indoor setting like a gym, where people may be breathing heavily, is one important way to reduce risk.“If we knew the vaccination status of all the people in the gym, we could have a greater level of comfort,” Grad added. “If we don’t, we might want to be masking — think the same kinds of precautions we have in an airport.” Landon of the University of Chicago said since the chance of catching covid-19 increases with the amount of close contact to infected individuals, even healthy people who are vaccinated run a risk — albeit a low one — when they voluntarily increase their exposure. “The amount of breathing you do matters — that’s why gyms are kind of risky,” Landon said. “The amount of distance and ventilation reduces your risks, so better if your gym is ventilated and you can get some space between treadmills.”
How do I talk to loved ones who are still hesitant about the vaccine?Ezell, the vaccine hesitancy outreach coordinator in Florida, said when it comes to meeting vaccine skeptics, she follows the advice of her pastor: You gain people’s confidence not by “beating them over the head” but by planting a seed. Give someone factual information to get them started, Ezell said, and the next person who comes along follows up by “watering,” increasing the number of times trusted voices have shared sound information.“I think it’s especially important when you’re having these conversations to present with what I call an active listening voice,” Ezell said. “Ask people in particular what their objections are, and don’t interrupt them; let them finish. Then give them the facts in a very calm manner.” If cases continue to rise with the delta variant, will restrictions return? No health expert can predict the future, but most who spoke to The Post were skeptical that there would be a return to widespread restrictions such as stay-at-home orders and shuttered businesses like those in 2020.Some restrictions such as indoor mask rules could return, as seen in Los Angeles County, though Landon and other experts said they are likely to be hyperlocal and responsive to infection and hospitalization rates in a specific area. Landon likened state-imposed measures — such as masking rules - to waging a fight with small children. “It’s like being exhausted and telling your kids, ‘Fine, you can have ice cream for dinner,‘ ” she said. “You don’t have the will to say ‘no’ anymore.“The bottom line, we should have mask mandates indoors,” she said. “In public buildings, there’s no reason we’re not mandating masks. But will we go back to that? I doubt it. Now I think it will be really hard to go back to those restrictions.” Ezell agreed. “The horse has left the barn on relaxing restrictions, so it’s going to be really important that there are perhaps more public service announcements, group meetings, more getting trusted voices involved in communicating information from reliable sources,” she said.
BY HIRA MIRZA
Shahnwaz Bhutto died mysteriously 31 years ago on July 18, 1985. He was spending holidays with all his family members in the south of France. They were up late night and having a nice family time. Next morning, his wife Rehana informed Begum Nusrat Bhutto that Shahnawaz was dead. The French police detained Rehana on charges of not helping her dying husband, according to French law. After six months of detention, she was released and she moved to California, USA. There were stories that some important authorities played a role in her release. There were also rumours that since she moved to California, she had been living a comfortable life. The sudden death of Shahnawaz was a great shock for the Bhutto family. Mir Murtaza Bhutto immediately divorced his wife Fouzia on suspicion that her sister Rehana had a hand in his brother’s death. Shahnawaz and Murtaza had married two Afghan sisters. Shahnawaz’ death was the greatest shock to Begum Nusrat Bhutto and also to Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. Begum Nusrat Bhutto loved him so much that it became unbearable for her to cope with this tragedy.Shahnawaz was also very close to his sister Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and she was greatly pained by her brother’s death. Sanam Bhutto was also going through the same pain because the two were not only close, they were also good friends. Shahnawaz was an idealist. He dedicated his youth to revolution for the sake of the poor. His life was like a storm. He decided to give up all the good things in life. He even gave up his education and all the comforts of life and devoted himself to a mission. The mission was end of martial law and restoration of democratic rights of the people. He and his brother Mir Murtaza Bhutto worked very hard to save his father’s life by raising the issue on the international level. On April 4, 1979 military dictator General Ziaul Haq assassinated the elected prime minister of Pakistan Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in the darkness of night. This act of brutality changed the course of Shahnawaz Bhutto’s life and he chose to follow the path of revolutionary politics. When the military coup took place against prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto on July 5, 1977, Shahnawaz was on holidays in Pakistan. He went back to Switzerland to continue his studies on the instructions of his parents. When Bhutto was sentenced to death by chief justice of Lahore High Court on March 18, 1978, Shahnawaz left Switzerland and joined his brother in London. He helped Mir Murtza Bhutto in his international campaign to save his father’s life very effectively. Shahnawaz had his own ideas and plans and knew how to materialise them. Both brothers loved each other very much. Shahnawaz Bhutto had personal relations with many international leaders. When Imam Khomeini and his followers came to power after the revolution in Iran, Shahnawaz contacted the new Iranian government and managed to secure a meeting with Imam Khomeini in a short time. Both brothers were invited to visit Iran as guests. They met Imam Khomeini in Qum. He assured them that their father’s life will be spared. Iranian leaders had contacted the dictator, Zia, in this regard. This initiative of the Iranian government was prominently reported in the Iranian press. After the judicial murder of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto on April 4, 1979, Shahnawaz found it difficult to accept this horrible reality. He said: “I don’t believe that Papa has left this world; he is alive and is around and will appear before us any time.” Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto called me on July 18, and informed me about the sad news of Shahnawaz’ death. She came to London on July 26 to meet the workers who wanted to condole the untimely death of Shahnawaz.All the top PPP leadership as well as leaders of other parties came and condoled with BB. She was shattered and tears flowed from her eyes all the time. She told the visitors who were coming to condole that, Shahnawaz, his wife and daughter were with them the night before. Her aunt Bijhet and her husband were also there. “We talked till very late that night. Shahnawaz left with a promise that he would take me to walk next morning but who knew that we will never meet again,” Benazir said at the time. Shahnawaz was very happy in our last meeting. When Shahnawaz’ wife phoned and informed about his death in the morning, I felt lifeless. His daughter went to wake her father and found him dead. He always told his daughter Sassi, I will take you to my home in Larkana. He used to tell me: “I want to see the Mazar of my Shaheed father.” But that was not in the stars. Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto announced that she would take his brother’s body to Pakistan and bury him in their ancestors’ graveyard. This announcement made the government of the day nervous and the administration did everything so that the body does not arrive in Pakistan. The arrival had been scheduled for August 14, the Independence Day. The military government used delaying tactics to stop BB from coming to Pakistan with her brother’s body fearing that thousands of people will attend his funeral. After a month-long agony, Shahnawaz’ body was at last released. It was decided to take his body to Pakistan a Singapore Airlines flight via Zurich. There was a lot of international press at the airport. When BB spoke to them, she was in tears all the time. Her heart was bleeding that she would never see her brother again. Her face reflected her inner feelings and her broken heart. We arrived at the Karachi Airport on the morning of August 22 at about 8:00 AM. The airport was shrouded with sadness. Armed commandos surrounded the Singapore Airlines flight. In the meantime, Shahnawaz’ body was transferred to a Fokker plane, destined for Larkana, which was covered with PPP flags and roses. Thousands of people gathered at Mohanjodaro Airport despite travel restrictions. A huge number of people could be seen all around. Benazir Bhutto went to Garhi Khuda Bakhsh directly from the airport. She selected a grave for Shahnawaz which was 33 feet away from his father’s Mazar. After returning to Al-Murtaza, Shahnawaz’ body was given final bath and then Namaz-e-Janaza was offered at the Larkana Stadiuam. His body was then taken to Garhi Khuda Bakhsh and he was put to rest in a flag of the PPP. After a very hectic day, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto addressed thousands of people who had travelled from all over Pakistan to share the grief and condole with BB. In her address she said, “The pain of the people of Pakistan is my pain. Shahnawaz’ death is not just my personal loss, it has saddened the whole nation. Everyone knows how many difficulties we have faced. We will continue the mission of Shaheed Bhutto. We will continue our war against injustice and poverty which has been inflicted on the people. I am your sister and will be with you at every step. My feelings are the same as yours and our goal will remain the same too.” After her address, a foreign journalist asked BB, “Why do you say Shahnawaz’ death is mysterious?” This question upset her greatly and she asked the journalist, “Do you know what is the cause of Shahnawaz’ death?” No, he replied. BB said, “That is why I say my brother died in mysterious circumstances. Many investigations have been carried out since July 18 up till now but we got no report. Under these circumstances, if we don’t say Shahnawaz’ death is mysterious then you tell what I should call it.” https://archive.pakistantoday.com.pk/2016/07/18/mysterious-death-of-shahnawaz-bhutto/
Sunday, July 18, 2021
Brit-Pakistani charged with conspiracy to kill Pak blogger (Ahmad Waqass Goraya), to be produced in UK court Monday
The London-based Khan was charged with the crime by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), a United Kingdom-based independent investigation agency, which works in collaboration with the police and courts, on 28 June. According to a report by Pakistan news agency, The News, “ Mohhamed Gohir Khan is in high-security custody and will be produced at the Old Bailey on 19 July”, Monday.The target was allegedly Ahmad Waqass Goraya, a social media activist who had gone missing for some weeks in 2017. A ‘liberal’ blogger, Goraya is known for his alleged anti-establishment activism and had been accused of posting blasphemous content on his Facebook page. Blasphemy is a criminal offence in Pakistan and can attract death penalty. Goraya took refuge in Netherlands in 2017, and in an interview claimed that he was afraid for his life and had been advised to be “careful” by his friends and family. He had claimed then that his activism was “based on the universal declaration of human rights”.
“This is the least we can achieve in Pakistan – the right to assembly, equal rights for all citizens irrespective of their gender, race and faith”, he had added in the 2017 interview.Who is Mohhamed Gohir Khan? Khan, who finished school in Lahore, Pakistan, moved to London soon after. He is believed to have gained British citizenship through marriage. Khan’s financial records also show that he owned several cargo businesses, one of which was declared bankrupt in February 2020.
Saturday, July 17, 2021
By Afrasiab Khattak
Afrasiab Khattak writes that Afghan and Pakistani advocates for peace and democracy should work together.