Musharraf’s trial and Pakistan

Musharraf and the famous fist. Photo T. Mughal/EPA

Musharraf and the famous fist. Photo T. Mughal/EPA

Below, my (un-populist) take on the Musharraf treason trial, in an opinion piece published in International Business Times, London, Jan 23, 2014. N.B. The recent attack on the bus in Mastung, Balochistan, that killed some 30  Hazara Shia Muslims, including women and children returning from pilgrimage in Iran is an example of the result of Musharraf’s policies of letting the home-grown ‘jihadis’ function. Plus I forgot to mention his role in the murder of Akbar Bugti… Continue reading

Five years on, same questions…

BB shaheed Bashir Ahmed Bilour Was her courage in vain, or do we still not know?

Text of editorial in Economic & Political WeeklyJANUARY 5, 2008:

Benazir’s Last Battle

Benazir Bhutto died battling the “state within the state”. Can Pakistan rid itself of the cancer?

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan’s former prime minister and opposition leader, on December 27 at the conclusion of an election rally in Rawalpindi has sent shockwaves across the world. Bhutto’s party, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), and the public at large held the government of president Pervez Musharraf responsible for the murder, while the government and its allies pointed the finger at Taliban and Al Qaida. The first reaction of US president George Bush also appeared to deflect blame from the Pakistan government and in the direction of Islamic militants. Continue reading

Four years on…

Benazir Bhutto on her arrival in Karachi in Oct, 2007. Photo: Beena Sarwar

It’s four years since those pistol shots and bomb blast in Pindi’s Liaquat Bagh ended the life of Pakistan’s most promising politician and hope for democracy. There is no one to replace Benazir Bhutto but her legacy lives on in many ways. This is the first legitimately elected government ever in Pakistan to remain in office for as long as it has – and it will be the first to complete its tenure if allowed to do so and hand over power to the next elected government. This political process is essential to move Pakistan out of a quagmire that has taken decades to push us into. There are no quick fixes, no magic wands that can change things overnight. What’s important is the process and at least that is under way – thanks to Benazir Bhutto.

Thanks to YouTube, archival footage is now available to remind us of her legacy. Continue reading

Zarteef Khan Afridi: The tribesman who showed the way

Zarteef Afridi's latest photo. Courtesy: HRCP

A tribute to the human rights activist Zarteef Khan Afridi who was shot dead recently – my article in The News on Sunday. Latitude News earlier published a shorter, different version titled In Pakistan, an unlikely hero dies for his cause. Also see my earlier article: Pakistan’s ‘enlightenment’ martyrs

The tribesman who showed the way

There was the letter from an anonymous writer saying he was going to hunt down and kill her. And then there was the letter from an Afridi tribesman offering to come down and protect her.

This was in the mid-1990s. The recipient of the letters was the fiery human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir, under threat for having taken on the case of Salamat Masih, the illiterate Christian boy sentenced to death for ‘blasphemy’ for having allegedly written sacrilegious words on the walls of a village mosque. Continue reading

Campaign against the genocide of progressive Pakistanis

Prof. Nazima Talib of Balochistan University

Prof Saba Dashtiyara 'Waja' of Balochistan University

Prof. Saba Dashtiary of Balochistan University

Modified from a post just sent to my yahoogroup: We need a campaign against the genocide of progressive Pakistani intellectuals and activists at the hands of those who have been distorting religion for political purposes, criminal and ethnic mafias. One or other of these elements is responsible for the murders of Salmaan Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti, Naeem Sabir (HRCP coordinator in Khuzdar, Balochistan), former senator Habib Jalib of Balochistan National Party (BNP-Mengal),  Saleem Shehzad and Prof. Dashtiyari. Baloch journalists killed include: Rehmatullah Shaeen, Ejaz Raisani, Lala Hameed Hayatan, Ilyas Nazar, Mohammad Khan Sasoil and Siddiq Eido and Abdus Rind. Also the fisherfolk leaders Haji Ghani and Abu Bakar spearheading a movement against the land mafia; Nisar Baloch who was fighting against the land mafia in Karachi; Latifullah Khan, the Communist Party member from Dir, and Nazima Talib, the professor of Balochistan University shot dead a year ago, and so many others. Continue reading

So beautiful and so bitter: Fatima Bhutto and her versions of truth

Photo: Courtesy Mag Weekly http://www.magtheweekly.com

She’s beautiful and bright (looks so much like her late aunt Benazir) – no wonder journalists (outside Pakistan notably) have been bowled over, leading to an overdose of fawning media attention (Khuswant Singh’s article takes the cake) in which few have tried to go beyond the surface.

Her father Murtaza’s cousin Tariq Islam (Z.A. Bhutto’s sister’s son) is one of the few people to have publicly challenged her version of the truth in at least one aspect. In her recently published, highly publicised book, Fatima writes that Z.A. Bhutto wrote to Murtaza to set up a militant base Afghanistan to wage an armed struggle against the military dictator, Zia ul Haq. Continue reading

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