“The Occupation kills us all”: Israelis in Tel Aviv protest Netanyahu’s attack on Gaza

Banner: The Occupation Kills us All. Israelis protesting in Tel Aviv against Netanyahu’s assault on Gaza (Thanks Farrukh Abbas for the share). Photo: Haim Schwarczenberg, Israeli photographer living in Jaffa, taking part in the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli occupation and oppression https://www.facebook.com/schwarczenberg

I’m sharing below a slightly edited Facebook comment by Syed Farrukh Abbas, a blogger and a student of media studies, based in Pakistan, that he posted with the photo above. Farrukh is also one of the administrators of the Laal Facebook page, which is where I know him from. To his words below, I just want to add: Respect and salute to, and solidarity with, all those in Israel who stand up and protest Israeli atrocities – including all those I know personally who’ve been doing this consistently for years, termed ‘traitor’ and ‘agent’ by the Israeli right-wing (sound familiar, anyone?). Here’s Farrukh’s note: Continue reading

Hamid Ansari: Mumbai man missing in Pakistan (we treat each other’s citizens differently)

Hamid Ansari, 27, MBA, Rotarian from Mumbai... missing since Nov 2012

Hamid Ansari, 27, MBA, Rotarian from Mumbai… missing since Nov 2012

My article on the case of the Indian national Hamid Ansari who has ‘disappeared’ in Pakistan, published in The News, July 11, 2014; an abbreviated version in Hardnews, India. See Hamid’s mother’s online petition appealing to the governments of India and Pakistan to find her son and my friend Indian journalist Shivam Vij’s earlier articles on this case, in The Friday Times, and in the Christian Science Monitor

On July 1, the Peshawar High Court directed Pakistan’s defence and interior ministries to provide full information about an Indian national, Hamid Ansari, who disappeared from the mountainous Kohat district in late 2012. There is room here for cautious optimism on several fronts. Continue reading

“I lay his poems on my lips and sip at leisure” – Gulzar on Naseer Ahmed Nasir

2014- Man Outside HistoryMy piece for the weekly Aman ki Asha page on July 9 and on the TOI blog

The iconic lyricist and poet Gulzar in his preface to Dr Bina Biswas’ translation of a collection of Urdu poetry pays rich tribute to Pakistani poet Naseer Ahmed Nasir

———

A Man Outside History
Poems of Naseer Ahmed Nasir
Translated into English by Bina Biswas
Foreword by Gulzar
Free Verse, an imprint of LiFi Publications,
New Delhi, 2014; Pp 173; INR 300
(available in Pakistan with Messers Al Abbas International, Rana Chamber, 2-Dil Muhammad Road, Lahore)

————-

Continue reading

Pakistan’s media wars – my article for Himal Southasian

Himal-Growing media, shrinking spaces?Himal Southasian, a publication I’m proud to have been associated with since its inception in 1996, has a new issue on the media. My piece Pakistan’s media wars (below) and Mass media and the Modi ‘wave’ by Paranjoy Guha Thakurta are web exclusives. Two additional points to my article:  1. Corporate media owners in Pakistan have always been part of reactionary and anti-democratic forces in general. Their disputes with censoring governments have almost always had commercial motivations. 2. Journalists have played a positive role whenever they remained united in their professionalism. They compromise this unity when they allow journalistic standards to slip and try to become power brokers themselves.

By Beena Sarwar

4 July 2014

What is the political fallout of the battle between a media behemoth and Pakistan’s largest security agency?
Continue reading

The North Waziristan military operation and appeal to help internal refugees

IDPs Bannu. Courtesy: Dawn

IDPs Bannu. Courtesy: Dawn

While supporting the much delayed military operation against the militants, we need to also support the democratic political process and strengthening accountability and the rule of law in Pakistan. See ‘Recapturing North Waziristan: A tragic necessity‘ – interview of Pervez Hoodbhoy in Viewpointonline. Meanwhile, the fighting is taking a toll on the people of North Waziristan, thousands of whom have fled the fighting and are now refugees in their own land – internally displaced people or IDPs in development jargon.

Here are links to three moving articles on the issue that highlight the humanitarian aspect and suffering, by Rashida Dohad, Owais Tohid and Taha Siddiqui. Rashida and Taha also make the point that militant organisations are reaping dividends in terms of goodwill “while the state fidgets or forsakes”; credible organisations are made to obtain non-objection certificates while religious and extremist organisations are allowed “to operate freely”. Continue reading

Tricks of the Dirty Tricks Brigade

Belatedly updating my blog with the article I wrote for The News on Sunday, June 15, 2014, as part of a Special Report on conspiracy theories. Other reports in that issue were Dr M. Taqi’s The truth behind conspiracy theories in Pakistan, an interview of Nadeem Farooq Paracha and more.  Lots has happened since then, but this remains relevant.

Tricks of the Dirty Tricks Brigade

Graphic: TNS

If India and Pakistan develop a good relationship, how will the security establishment justify its existence? Continue reading

Pakistan/India: There is no honour in killing… End the culture of impunity

HK-Iqbal - Farzana pic

Iqbal holds up a picture of his wife, Farzana Parveen, killed outside the Lahore High Court. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images

On the murder of Farzana Parveen in Pakistan and the two Dalit girls in India – something I wrote last week, published in The News and in The Times of India blog

There is no honour in killing

End the culture of impunity

Beena Sarwar

Last Tuesday, May 27, two crimes that shocked the world took place, one in the morning in Lahore, Pakistan and the other at night in Uttar Pradesh, India. Three young women – two of them just girls, really, were killed in these incidents. A fourth casualty was the unborn child of the five months pregnant woman in Pakistan. Continue reading

Censored! Pakistan blocks progressive Facebook pages

PTA censor BhensaGot the word a few hours ago. Without any notice, warning or explanation, Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has blocked several progressive pages on Facebook. Interestingly, there is no bar on the pages spewing hatred and furthering the ideology of banned groups.

The blocked pages include Laal, the largest leftist page in South Asia with over 408,000 followers. The other pages include those that post largely in Urdu and therefore reach large numbers, like: Continue reading

There is no ‘honour’ in killing – Sept 2008, sadly still relevant

samia sarwar

Not just the ‘poor’ and ‘uneducated’ – Samia Sarwar was murdered in her lawyer’s office by a man abetted by her own mother, a doctor.

The outrage against the murder of Farzana Parveen outside the Lahore High Court reminded me of something I wrote in September 2008, published in The News, Pakistan and in The Hindu, India, below. Farzana was going to the court to testify that she had married her husband of her own choice (defending him against kidnapping charges her family had brought against him). Such murders for ‘honour’ are common in the region. In Pakistan, the situation is exacerbated by the Qisas and Diyat law which enables the perpetrators to literally get away with murder (as Raymond Davis did). This case is particularly horrific because of where it happened and because the woman was three months pregnant.  See booklet by Hassam Qadir Shah: Honour killing-criminal procedures-Hassam Qadir Shah-Shirkat Gah (2002, PDF) 

There is no ‘honour’ in killing, Sept 2008

[Note: in my published article, I had mixed up the names, corrected below - the correct names are Saima Waheed and Samia Sarwar Continue reading

India, Pakistan: Moving on the right track

May 25, , Puri beach, Odisha: Sand artist Sudarshan Pattnaik's image of India’s Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi and the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made in sand, with the message ” Peace gets a chance’.

May 25, , Puri beach, Odisha: Sand artist Sudarshan Pattnaik’s image of India’s Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi and the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made in sand, with the message ” Peace gets a chance’.

I don’t have any great expectations from Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s upcoming visit to Delhi for PM designate Modi’s inauguration but it’s good that he’s going (despite all the pressures) and that contact is being initiated. Hopefully this contact will lead to steps being taken to implement agreements that have already been signed (re: trade, travel) that are in limbo. In that spirit, a re-plug for the Aman ki Asha petition against visa restrictions. Please sign and share if you haven’t already. Also, a very positive step ahead of the Modi-Sharif meeting is that, as a goodwill gesture, Pakistan has ordered the release of over 150 Indian prisoners, mostly fishermen, from Pakistani prisons. And for the first time, they are also releasing fishing boats. This is the first time in years that any side has decided to release fishing boats – kudos to Pakistan for taking the lead in this direction.

PIPFPD welcomes fishermen’s release, participation of Sharif in Modi’s swearing in ceremony

Modi’s invitation to Nawaz Sharif – a welcome move: Justice Markandey Katju Continue reading

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