Please, not Sabeen. And no, that won’t shut us up.

SabeenIn shock and grieved beyond words at this horrible news that our dear friend and comrade Sabeen Mahmud has been shot dead, her mother in critical condition in hospital. They were returning from the event Unsilencing Balochistan (Take 2) held at The Second Floor (T2F) [NOTE: the facebook event link posted above mysteriously disappeared then reappeared]. It was tremendously brave of Sabeen to allow the event to be hosted there given that Balochistan is essentially a ‘no go’ area. Even as we grieve our friend we refuse to be silenced.

“She always spoke out. We must honour her legacy of speaking out,” said Mohammad Jibran Nasir when I spoke to him just now. “We will not let Balochistan be a no-go area”.

“They want to make us into a nation of intellectual cripples, no discussion, no dissent, no dialogue,” said Mona Kazim Shah. “How many will they kill?”

This intellecticide cannot continue. Sabeen… all-inclusive humanist, only child of her single mother, cat-lover, a gentle and compassionate soul who did all in her power to create spaces and platforms to give a voice to the less fortunate, the vulnerable, the under-privileged, those whose for whom her heart beat. Rest in peace my friend. I can’t believe you are no more. We will keep speaking out. We will honour your legacy.

Long March for Baloch Missing Persons
Photo Credit: Syed Ali Shah (DAWN)

At an interfaith meeting in Fremont, CA, and beyond

Pakistan’s proposed cybercrime bill threatens civil liberties on the pretext of security

The Pakistan National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information Technology (IT) on Thursday passed a controversial cybercrime bill that industry leaders and civil society members have been protesting against – see objections in the media release below as well as the warning sounded by Bolo Bhi, a net freedoms organisation. Two earlier news reports summing up the reservations: In Dawn – New cybercrime bill tough on individuals’ rights, soft on crime and in Express Tribune – Legislative bungling: In a bill about cybercrime, MoIT inserts clauses legalising censorship.

BoloBhi Pasha Cybercrime bill update

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Op-ed supporting Pakistan’s ‘NO’ to Saudi war in Yemen taken off newspaper website

This meme that is doing the rounds on social media may be a bit harsh (not sure of original source) but it expresses the feelings of many Pakistanis.

A meme that is doing the rounds on social media (not sure of original source)

Pakistani citizens have for days been agitating against the reported decision to send troops to Yemen as requested (read “demanded”) by Saudi Arabia. It is tremendous news that the Pakistani parliament has taken a stand that supports the mood in the country. But there will be a price to pay. Just got this from an email list I am on, moderated by Shaheryar Azhar who writes: “The value of this op-ed is tremendous. Because it has been removed (from the website).. all its traces have been wiped out even though it had appeared in hard print where I had read it myself (Note: it is still there on the e-paper link). Luckily, I had received a digital copy on my email, which I had saved before the authorities (or whoever) decided to remove its existence. The Prime Minister is set to issue a policy statement on Yemen today in about an hour. If he sticks to his guns and to the unanimous Pakistani parliamentary resolution on Yemen, he will have our continued support. But if he backs off or dilutes our essential position of neutrality, he would be opposed.”

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Balochistan discussion at LUMS cancelled under pressure from ‘angels’

Censored- unsilencing balochistanJust got this press release that was read out to the LUMS student body earlier today (UPDATE: online petition at this link To the Prime Minister of Pakistan: Prevent Agencies from interfering in academic institutions; Also see this Storify by iFaqeer)

RE-SILENCING BALOCHISTAN?

Today, a roundtable on “Unsilencing Balochistan” to be held on Thursday 9 April at LUMS was cancelled due to state intervention.

The event was an academic event, gathering academics and activists involved in, or concerned by the situation in Balochistan. The guests were I. A. Rehman, director, HRCP; Aasim Sajjad, Professor, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad; Sajjad Changezi, Activist, Alif Ailaan; Mohammed Ali Talpur, Columnist; Mama Qadeer, President VMPB; Farzana Majeed, General Secretary VMPB (Voice of Missing Persons Balochistan). Continue reading

Remembering Tahira Mazhar Ali

A fighter at the barricadesI was sad to learn about the indomitable Tahira Mazhar Ali passing away. She was and will remain an inspiration for many. Below, my tribute to her published in Indian Express – Torchbearer for a progressive politics. Also see A fighter at the barricades in TNS, I.A. Rehman’s informative obituary for his old friend and comrade and Omar Warraich’s piece in The Independent, Tahira Mazhar Ali: Women’s rights campaigner who was the mother of Tariq Ali and acted as mentor to Benazir Bhutto. RIP Tahira Mazhar Ali (1925-2015) – my tribute in Indian ExpressContinue reading

‘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

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