Showing posts from February, 2012

Balochistan: waiting for closure

Maye sah inth Balochistan, maye jaan inth Balochistan,
Maye zind-e-hamok dard-o-darmaan inth Balochistan.
Percha man naban bandeeg, percha man naban koleeg,
k zahr-en-teer ani dhem paan inth Balochistan
” — G R Mulla.

(Balochistan is my heart, my soul,
A cure for all conceivable pains of life.
Why should I not sacrifice,
Or hesitate to suffer indignities of confinement,
When my motherland is facing poisonous bullets.)

Balochistan: a land so beautiful and a people so brave. A land full of hope, a people inspired. But today the soil of Balochistan is soaked with the blood of its children, its mountains reverberate with the harrowing wails of its women, its air haunted by the distraught cries of the older men, its plains full of orphans. The culprit is none other than the Pakistani military. One shudders at the thought of the bloody massacre being carried out in Balochistan by the same military that is supposed to protect its citizens.

No wonder the Baloch are asking for freedom. No won…

Bullying tactics

Difa-i-Pakistan Council (Defence of Pakistan Council) is at it again. The group staged another rally, this time in Islamabad, despite the ban imposed on three of its main leaders — Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) President Maulana Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, Secretary General Maulana Khalid Dhillon and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed — from entering Islamabad. Due to the ban, these three men did not attend the rally but the question is: what happened to Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s ‘promise’ that banned outfits would not be allowed to hold a rally in the federal capital? Would the SHO of Aabpara be suspended for this rally? There are speculations that a compromise between the government and the powers that be was struck to allow the Difa-i-Pakistan Council to hold the rally in Islamabad. Instead of holding it in front of parliament, the rally was held in Aabpara, quite close to the ISI headquarters. It seems that the Difa-i-Pakistan Council has the backing of our military estab…

MQM’s appreciable rally

‘Empowered Women, Strong Pakistan’ was the theme of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM’s) rally in Karachi the other day. It was quite heartening to see thousands of women at a rally in Pakistan, one of the largest gatherings of women in the country. The MQM must be commended for its efforts to support the empowerment of women. MQM chief Altaf Hussain said, “The world over women are considered equals in every sense. Unfortunately and sadly in Pakistan they continue to be treated worse than animals. They are subjected to treatment meted out to second-or-third-class citizens.” A patriarchal mindset still prevails in our country as if we are living in medieval times. In some parts of Pakistan, women are not even allowed to vote and in others their vote is decided by the men in their families. Pakistan’s founding father, Mr Jinnah, laid great stress on women’s empowerment. Unfortunately, his words were not heeded. To the credit of this PPP-led coalition government, many pro-women bills h…

US resolution on Balochistan

Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher, who first chaired a US Congressional hearing on Balochistan, has now introduced a resolution calling for self-determination for Balochistan. Pakistan has taken a strong exception to this resolution, with Prime Minister Gilani, the Foreign Office, Pakistan Embassy in the US and the Pakistani media all condemning it in unison. The US Embassy in Islamabad issued a statement saying that the US respected Pakistan’s sovereignty and Balochistan was an internal matter of the country. The Obama administration may have distanced itself from the resolution but there are three factors behind this development. One, the Republicans are surely annoyed with Pakistan and its double dealing in the war on terror. It began in General Musharraf’s time and the army has continued with his policies to date. Tabling a resolution on Balochistan’s freedom from Pakistan could also be a way for the Republicans to embarrass the Democrats and the Obama administration. Wha…

Too little, too late?

“Now dreams are not available,
To the dreamers,
Nor songs to the singers.
In some lands,
Dark night and cold steel prevail,
But the dream will come back,
And the song break its jail” (‘Oppression’ by Langston Hughes)

Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, announced this week that the government will soon convene an All-Parties Conference (APC) on Balochistan. “There is a law and order situation in Balochistan, which has to be addressed,” said PM Gilani. His announcement comes days after a US Congressional hearing on Balochistan took place on February 8, 2012. While the Baloch leadership welcomed the hearing, the Obama administration distanced itself from it and Pakistan expressed its displeasure. The Baloch are hailing this as a big achievement because their voice is finally being heard at an important international platform. The Obama administration does not want to further alienate the Pakistani security establishment. The relations between the two ‘allies’ have hit rock bot…

Murder and mayhem

Last month, PML-N chief Mian Nawaz Sharif urged all political parties to call an All-Parties Conference (APC) on Balochistan. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has finally decided to convene an APC to discuss the Balochistan issue. Mr Gilani said that even though the government tried to reach out to the Baloch through the Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan Package, the deteriorating law and order situation overshadowed the initiative. When the package was announced, we had cautioned in this space that “bringing normalcy to Balochistan may not be as easy a task as may appear because the people of Balochistan carry a history of neglect, exploitation and repression” (‘Balochistan package’, Daily Times, November 25, 2009). The penny has finally dropped for the government that addressing the woes of the Baloch is not so simple. Since then, there has been a lot of bloodshed in the province, mostly carried out by our intelligence agencies and paramilitary forces; the damage has already been done. …

Harrowing condition of missing detainees

Finally the seven missing detainees were produced before the Supreme Court (SC) on Monday after the apex court flexed its muscles. Eleven prisoners went missing in 2010 from Adiala Jail despite being freed by the courts. It was later revealed that they had been picked up by the intelligence agencies as they were accused of committing terrorist attacks against the military. Four prisoners died while in the custody of the intelligence agencies. Had the SC not been stringent, there was no way that the remaining seven prisoners would have been produced before the court. Four of them were brought from Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar and the other three from the internment centre in Parachinar. It was harrowing to see their condition — some carrying urine bags while all of them were hardly able to walk properly. One of them said that they did not have “proper food and (were) never offered a doctor while in custody” while another said that he has severe pain in his chest and his shoulders ar…

Dangerous rallies

Difa-i-Pakistan Council (Pakistan Defence Council), a conglomerate of religious parties — predominantly banned militant outfits — held a rally in Karachi on Sunday. That they were able to hold a rally in the port city without any hitch was surprising given that the ruling party in Sindh, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), has been quite critical of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) for allowing banned outfits to stage rallies in Punjab. Difa-i-Pakistan Council is said to be the initiative of Hafiz Saeed, chief of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), who is not just the moving spirit behind this ‘defence council’ but is also said to be its chief financier. The JuD is ostensibly a front for the banned terrorist organisation, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT). Thanks to General Musharraf turning a blind eye to terrorist organisations renaming themselves and posing as welfare organisations, we now have a plethora of terrorist outfits operating freely on Pakistani soil. Apart from spewing venom against …

Pak vs Eng: besting the best!

The third Test between England and Pakistan came to an end on Monday when Pakistan won the match by 71 runs, completing its momentous 3-0 victory against the world’s number one Test side. According to the International Cricket Council (ICC), “Pakistan, who were bowled out for 99 in their first innings, became the first team to win a Test after being dismissed for under 100 since England, dismissed for 76 in the first innings, beat South Africa by 53 runs at Leeds in 1907.” It is not a surprise therefore that Pakistani cricket fans all over the world celebrated this whitewash, also termed as a ‘Greenwash’ on Twitter. England could not adjust to the conditions in the UAE and the Pakistani bowlers, particularly the spinners, took full advantage. Once a batting side loses confidence in being able to address and attack the opposing bowling side, it psychologically allows itself to be dominated by its opponents. The tentativeness and defensiveness of the English batsmen proved to be the dow…

Banned or not?!

Banned terrorist organisations are freely operating all over Pakistan without risking the ire of the law enforcement agencies. Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) was banned but changed its name to Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) was banned but changed its name to Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), and now both these terrorist outfits are carrying on with their activities with impunity. Even if a banned organisation does not change its name, like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) that still operates under its own name, their activities are not stopped. Interior Minister Rehman Malik blames a delay in the approval of an amendment to the Anti-Terrorism Act for banned organisations’ holding rallies across the country. Apparently the amendment bill is still with the Senate Standing Committee despite the passage of two years. Mr Malik also said that if a banned organisation holds a rally in the capital, the SHO of the concerned police station would be suspended. Now that is a ludicrous idea …

Stand up and be counted

“In Satellite Town Rawalpindi, ‘Ewan-e-Tawheed’ is in place for the last 17 years. It is the property of Jama’at Ahmadiyya and is used as a place for prayers ever since. Some adventurists have decided to make it an issue and have started a false, baseless campaign of hatred to create problems. There are no concrete issues as such as the miscreants keep coming with new allegations one after another. The bottom line is that miscreants want to deprive the Ahmadis of their right to pray and congregate. The miscreants gave an open warning to demolish the ‘Ewan-e-Tawheed’ on January 29, 2012, also they will not allow this Friday prayers at ‘Ewan-e-Tawheed’. The [Ahmadiyya] community is under attack and there are known security threats to community members from these miscreants. Yet innocent and peaceful Ahmadis are not even allowed to defend or protect themselves,” read a press release from the Ahmadiyya community.

January 29 is also the date of birth of Pakistan’s only Nobel Laureate, Dr …

Balochistan: a self-fulfilling prophecy

The Balochistan Assembly passed a resolution against the brutal murder of MPA Nawabzada Bakhtiar Khan Domki’s wife and daughter in Karachi. A complete shutter-down strike was observed all over Balochistan to condemn their murders. The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility for a retaliatory attack on four Frontier Corps (FC) checkposts near Margat coalmine area in which at least 15 FC personnel were killed and a dozen sustained injuries. This attack, according to the BLA spokesman, was in reaction to the murders of the Domki women. Karachi is no stranger to target killings and it seems that this horrible trend along with bhatta (extortion) activities have started again after a brief lull. But the murder of Balochistan Republican Party (BRP) chief Brahamdagh Bugti’s sister and niece in Karachi was unlike any other target killing. The claim by the Karachi police that this could be the result of a ‘tribal feud’ could not be further from the truth. It is highly unlikely that …