Showing posts from February, 2013

Shooting the messenger

In a national security state, those who raise their voice against oppression and injustice are constantly hounded by state and non-state actors. Thus it was not surprising to see the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) issue an extremely critical press release regarding the annual Human Rights Watch (HRW) report. According to the ISPR, the HRW’s annual report is “a pack of lies, propaganda driven and totally biased” and “seems to be a clear attempt to further fuel already ongoing scectarian violence and to create chaos and disorder in Pakistan (sic).” Two things first: 1) ISPR should do a spell check before issuing press releases, and 2) it also needs to do a ‘logic check’ for its logic is flawed. How can the HRW “further fuel” an “already ongoing sectarian violence” just by reporting that “at least 325 members of the Shia Muslim population were killed in targeted attacks that took place across Pakistan"? In fact, 325 is a conservative estimate by most accounts. If anything, H…

Dirty tricks brigade

Human Rights Watch (HRW) and its Pakistan Director Ali Dayan Hasan are once again under fire, this time for the chapter on Pakistan in HRW’s World Report 2013. The military’s public relations department issued a scathing press release denouncing HRW. It said, “A spokesman of ISPR [Inter Services Public Relations] has termed the Human Rights Watch (HRW) recent report a pack of lies, propaganda driven and totally biased. He said it is yet another attempt to malign Pakistan and its institutions through fabricated and unverified reports, completely favouring an anti Pakistan agenda.”

The military’s anger at HRW was due to the fact that its annual report mentioned how the military has turned a blind eye to Shia genocide in the country. As per HRW’s report, “The government was unable or unwilling to break the links between Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies with extremist groups. Sunni militant groups, including those with known links to the Pakistani military, its intelligence …

The Siege Within

A maverick cleric, a proactive judiciary and a belligerent Pakistan Army throw democracy into a tailspin again

There is never a dull moment in Pakistan, but the political temperature was unusually high this week; with January 15-17 being most eventful. Sitting inside a special bullet-proof container, a cleric dressed in long, flowing fashionable robes and even more fashionable headgear addressed thousands of people in the heart of Pakistan's capital, Islamabad. The cleric, who gave the government "time till tonight" to quit and dissolve the national and provincial assemblies, could clearly not count properly for he kept referring to the crowd as a "million-man march".

In any other country, if a dual-national cleric had turned up out of the blue, demanded the ouster of a democratically elected government mere months before forthcoming General Elections, given an ultimatum to elected parliamentarians, and led a 'long march' to the capital, he would have b…

Three cheers for Asma Jahangir

Asma Jahangir, former Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President, noted lawyer and human rights activist, is being hounded by the Pakistani Urdu press these days. The reason for another malicious campaign against Ms Jahangir is simply the fact that her name was included in the list of nominees for the next caretaker Prime Minister of Pakistan by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). Just because the PML-N has included her name in a list does not mean she will actually become the caretaker PM but her detractors cannot even digest the fact that her name is being considered for this post.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan has also rejected the appointment of Ms Jahangir as caretaker PM because of her objective views on the Supreme Court and her supposed attachment with the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Mr Khan is ignoring the fact that the same Asma Jahangir has fought for the independence of judiciary all her life. Just because she has been objective about the ju…