‘Not just India’s daughter’ – article for TNS Special Report

Jyoti Singh’s death has become a global symbol and the beginning of change. Here’s hoping she did not die in vain… ‘Not just India’s daughter‘: My article for The News on Sunday Special Report on the issue

Not just India’s daughter

India has been under the spotlight for the rape and gender violence since the horrific gang rape in Delhi on December 16, 2012. That night, a 23-year-old physiotherapist on her way home from the movies with a male friend was brutally gang-raped by six men in a moving bus in the national capital. She died of her injuries on December 29, 2012. Her friend who tried to save her was also brutally beaten but survived.

The BBC documentary, ‘India’s Daughter’ following up on a rape that shook not just India but the world, and the Indian government’s subsequent ban on the film has re-ignited hot debate on an issue that is relevant to far more than just India or India’s daughters. Continue reading

Is resistance futile? Lahore church attacks and beyond

Lahore church blast protest. Photo: Mani Rana, Reuters

Lahore church blast protest. Photo: Mani Rana, Reuters

My article in Scroll.in a few days ago pegged on the Lahore church attack and the Global Vigils of Pakistanis against terrorism 

Citizens, artistes and courts are mounting new resistance to halt spread of terror in Pakistan

News about the suicide attacks at two churches in Lahore broke on the morning of Sunday, March 15, as Pakistanis were gearing up for a global vigil against terrorism in several cities around the world, to be held that day in the UK and USA, and in Pakistan on March 16.

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UPDATE: Shafqat execution stayed… for now

beenasarwar:

Huge, heartfelt thanks to all those who raised a voice to save Shafqat Hussain. The President of Pakistan has reportedly granted a 72-hour reprieve (originally reported as ‘indefinte’) for the case to be re-investigated. This young man has spent 10 years or more in prison already, since the age of 14 when he was first arrested for the murder of a little boy who had been kidnapped. There are many flaws in the case that led to Shafqat being sentenced to death at age 15 after a confession extracted under severe police torture. He has not seen his parents since he left his village in Neelum Valley, Azad Kashmir to come to Karachi for work after dropping out of school (has a learning disability). The execution has been stayed – for now. It’s a temporary victory for those who’ve fought for his life. The question remains, will the government re-examine the evidence and move to give him justice? And how many more Shafqats languish, poor, marginalised and resourceless, in our prisons and death rows?

Originally posted on Journeys to democracy:

Shafqat Hussain, photo taken before he left Muzaffarabad more than 10 years ago. Shafqat Hussain, photo taken before he left Muzaffarabad more than 10 years ago.

Who is Shafqat, why is he being hanged, and why should we care? What were you like when you were 14? Please watch this lovely little video (also embedded below) and act to save Shafqat Hussain, death warrant issued (again) for Thursday, March 19. Shafqat was 14 when he left his village in Muzaffarabad, AJK, to go to Karachi looking for work. He was dirt-poor and resourceless, tortured into confession for the murder of a child, tried under the Anti-Terrorism Act (because the murder ‘spread terror in the neighbourhood’). The government-appointed lawyer never provided proof of his age. He was 15 when the court sentenced him to death. He has now been on death row for 10 years. In January, his execution was stopped under pressure from people like us. Pakistan Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar had promised a re-investigation into the…

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What were you like when you were 14? #SaveShafqat

Shafqat Hussain, photo taken before he left Muzaffarabad more than 10 years ago.

Shafqat Hussain, photo taken before he left Muzaffarabad more than 10 years ago.

Who is Shafqat, why is he being hanged, and why should we care? What were you like when you were 14? Please watch this lovely little video (also embedded below) and act to save Shafqat Hussain, death warrant issued (again) for Thursday, March 19. Shafqat was 14 when he left his village in Muzaffarabad, AJK, to go to Karachi looking for work. He was dirt-poor and resourceless, tortured into confession for the murder of a child, tried under the Anti-Terrorism Act (because the murder ‘spread terror in the neighbourhood’). The government-appointed lawyer never provided proof of his age. He was 15 when the court sentenced him to death. He has now been on death row for 10 years. In January, his execution was stopped under pressure from people like us. Pakistan Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar had promised a re-investigation into the case. That never happened. There has been no medical exam conducted for his age, and the state-provided birth certificate that proves his age has not been taken into account. Read Fatima Bhutto’s eloquent plea in NYT to save Shafqat

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Despair is not an option. Neither is silence.

March 15: Activists protest in front of the Lahore Press Club in solidarity with Pakistan's Christian community. Photo: courtesy Sajjad Anwar Mansoori

March 15: Activists protest in front of the Lahore Press Club in solidarity with Pakistan’s Christian community. Photo: courtesy Sajjad Anwar Mansoori

As I posted my last update about the third monthly Global Vigil of Pakistanis united against terrorism, March 15-16, 2015, to commemorate the Peshawar APS attack of Dec 16, 2014, news came in about the suicide attacks at two churches in Lahore – yet another horrible reminder of what happens when you keep snakes in your backyard and develop a culture of impunity. See my comment on the issue in Huffington Post, right after the Peshawar APS attack. It is a sign of the brutality and rage that engulfs Pakistan that a mob lynched, killed and burnt two men suspected of being co-conspirators in the attacks. Continue reading

Pakistanis against Terrorism: Global Vigil, March 2015

NOTE: This is the first blog post I’ve done since Feb 21, 2015. That day a beloved, courageous and wise childhood friend lost her fight to cancer. I dedicate this post to Poppy, Shayan Afzal Khan, always so incredibly supportive, bold and outspoken for the liberal, progressive, secular Pakistan she believed in. She was there at the first Global Vigil in London in January. “A defiant figure in bright red lipstick and a yellow bobble hat, she yelled anti-Taliban slogans,” as Moni Mohsin wrote. Miss you and love you forever. We will keep the torch alive and see your dream come true, Inshallah. 

Never Forget PK March 15-16 Since the barbaric massacre of school children and teachers in Peshawar on 16 December, 2014, Pakistanis in the country and abroad have been converging for monthly global protest vigil around the 16th of every month. The third Global Vigil is taking place in several cities on Sunday 15th and on Monday 16th March in the following cities we know of so far:  Continue reading

An app for India Pakistan love, the patriotism question, and peace-mongering, regardless

20150218-AKA pageMy latest Personal Political post for Times of India blogs

I have for some time been in touch with a young Indian software engineer turned project manager turned ‘digital nomad’, Amrit Sharma. Last week in the Aman ki Asha page that I edit published weekly in The News, Pakistan, we featured a small report on a heart-warming initiative he has started (all the articles are online at the AKA website).

In August 2013, Amrit launched India Loves Pakistan for the joint commemoration of India and Pakistan’s Independence Days. The aim: “to add the human element into the India Pakistan relationship”.  Now he has launched an Android app called “India or Pakistan” through a self-funded tech startup. Continue reading

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