What Mastung blast survivors need now

Ridha and Ibtihaj

Ridha and Ibtihaj: He bravely faces his staggering loss.

My article for The News on Sunday, shared here with additional links, pix, and tweets:

By Beena Sarwar

Death, destruction, disaster are newsworthy for the mainstream media. What happens to the survivors and how they cope in the long-term are not.

Those who orchestrate bomb blasts thrive on media attention. Those affected by their dastardly acts are left to carry on as best as they can, often with inspiring courage and resilience. Continue reading

The nightmare must end – my op-ed in Dawn, 2009

Zahoor: Taliban and the media, The Frontier Post, June 2008

Zahoor: Taliban and the media, in The Frontier Post, June 2008

Those who justify the Taliban uprising in Pakistan as an anti-imperialist movement forget that since the Taliban first swept into Afghanistan in 1996 (with the blessings of the Pakistani establishment), they have been a threat to women, pluralism and democracy in the region. Their oppressive order in Afghanistan pre-dates the American invasion of Iraq, bombing of Afghanistan, and drone attacks in Pakistan -- from an article I wrote in Dawn, 2009. Came across it again while searching for something else. Read it, and tell me, what has changed? 

By Beena Sarwar, Feb 7, 2009

OF the many challenges Pakistan’s elected government faces perhaps the most menacing and deep-rooted is Talibanisation — a phenomenon identified earlier on (as Talibanism) by the then exiled Afghan government’s acting foreign minister, Abdullah Abdullah in his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Sept 21, 2000. Continue reading

A migrant’s tragedy and a heartwarming response

Photo from her charred Pakistani passport

Not a ‘Jane Doe’: Photo from her charred Pakistani passport

Some days ago, a woman died in a fire in Cambridge, MA. The media initially reported that she was in her mid-30s, but within hours, the local Pakistani and Indian community was abuzz with the news that she was a Pakistani, in her 50s. They identified her as Farzana Khan, who lived completely alone here as her entire family was in Pakistan. It was moving to see how many people were concerned and wanted to help. When I sent the report below to The News in Pakistan a couple of days after the incident, the medical examiner still hadn’t managed to get a close friend or relative to identify the body. Until then, she had to be kept in the morgue although she was not quite a ‘Jane Doe’. As word of the dilemma spread, a Pakistan origin couple in the Boston area whose children she had looked after briefly,  Continue reading

Those demanding ‘Sharia’ in Pakistan, FYIP

Why I do not want Shariah in Pakistan

The Pakistan government is trying to hold talks with the Taliban, who should really be referred to as Fasadis*. There are no women in the government committee, and of course none on the Taliban side. One of the Taliban negotiators pulled out, refusing to participate until the agenda includes the imposition of Sharia law. Here’s a note posted by The Traitors of Pakistan and  Pakistan Votes  on Facebook, ’10 reasons why I do not want Shariah in Pakistan’. I have an additional question to the reasons they listed: 11. Whose Sharia? Each religious sect has its own version. Many of us reject the one propagated by the Fasadis and the Saudi-patronised Takfiris**. Here’s the note, for your information please, as desis say:

Continue reading

Musharraf or Zia… A dictator is a dictator

20130408 Mush Tamil UnrealTimes

One-man rule is disastrous in the long term. Image courtesy: Tamil UnrealTimes

My opinion piece published in The News op-ed, and for Hard News, India

Former Pakistan army chief Pervez Musharraf ousted an elected civilian government from power, and usurped power illegally, holding on to it for over ten years, but there are those in India and in Pakistan who feel quite sympathetic towards him.

He had dash and bravado, they say. He nearly resolved the long-pending Kashmir issue with India. He encouraged the classical arts, liberalised the media, oversaw a telecommunications revolution, and partially revived the joint electorate system that the previous military dictator Gen. Ziaul Haq had divided by religion (Ahmadis still are not allowed to vote as Muslims). Musharraf also took the teeth out of the controversial Hudood Ordinances, making it more difficult for false charges of zina (adultery) to be brought against women on various pretexts. Continue reading

Martyrs and Fasadis. Rest in peace, brave Aitzaz Hasan and Ch. Aslam Khan

Screen shot 2014-01-09 at 2.33.58 PMScreen shot 2014-01-09 at 2.37.05 PM TTP: We did it.
JI/PTI: No.
TTP: Yes.
JI/PTI: No. Look, drone!
TTP: Where?
JI/PTI: Who cares? It made you do it.
TTP: It did? Hmmm.
- tweet by @NadeemfParacha

Rest in peace, brave Aitzaz Hasan, schoolboy who sacrificed his life saving his schoolmates from a suicide bomber. Rest in peace, SSP Ch. Aslam Khan, targeted and killed by the coward Fasadis (please let’s not call them ‘jihadis’ or ‘mujahideen’, holy warriors which confers a degree of legitimacy on them). Rest in peace all those innocent souls murdered in cold blood by coward Taliban Fasadis and their ilk. Shame on Jamat-e-Islami and all those who term these criminal Fasadis as ‘mujahideen’ and ‘shaheed’. They’ve made it very clear which side of the fence they’re on.

Nitu’s mission: Save Kiran

My column PERSONAL POLITICAL published in The News, TOI blogs, and Aman ki Asha

Kiran Soomro: "I want to live".

Kiran Soomro: “I want to live”.

Nitu Jiwani-1

Nitu Jiwnani: “Save Kiran”

By Beena Sarwar

Didi, I want to live,” 16-year old Kiran Soomro in Karachi tells her friend Nitu Jiwnani in Mumbai. “I don’t want to die.”

They are talking on Skype in Sindhi as they often do, since first meeting at Apollo Hospital, New Delhi, in May 2013.

Kiran had gone there with her parents to undergo surgery for her congenital heart defect (“hole in the heart”) that should have been operated upon when she was much younger. But her father Sikandar Ali Soomro, a tall, thin matriculate who earns daily wages selling potato wafers at a Karachi roadside stall could not afford the operation. Her parents were resigned to losing Kiran, a weak and sickly child.

But she wouldn’t give up. Pulled out of school when she was in class five, Kiran studied at home. A few years ago, as a spunky teenager, she realised that without the surgery, she would die. Continue reading

Jan 1 rallies across Pakistan in solidarity with victims of extremism; demanding a coherent Foreign Policy, empowered Local Government

Aman Ittehad rally, Hyderabad, Jan 1, 2013

Aman Ittehad , a coalition of non-government organisations and individuals around Pakistan has been commemorating Jan 1 every year with rallies around the country, in solidarity with victims of terrorism and to demand better governance, democracy and economic policies. Here’s the press statement for this year’s rallies, being held in dozens of cities including Lahore, Karachi, Sialkot, Hyderabad, Peshawar, Abbottabad, Quetta, Mithi, Mardan, Loralai, Gilgit and other places.

PRESS STATEMENT  Continue reading

Online petition and GIA demo against invasive TV show

GIA demo in Karachi (file photo): Human beings must be treated equally, regardless of gender or sexual orientation

GIA demo in Karachi (file photo): Human beings must be treated equally, regardless of gender or sexual orientation

The Gender Interactive Alliance (GIA) has called for a demonstration against Abb Takk TV’s show Khufia for its gross invasion of privacy and human rights, to be held today, Monday Dec 30, at 4:00 pm at the Karachi Press Club. If you’re in Karachi, please show your solidarity by joining them. Also please read and sign this online petition “Act against AbbTakk TV for violating privacy and human rights

Media/Pakistan: Worse than Maya Khan. The vigil-aunty TV moral brigade strikes again

Abb Takk Khufia

A still from the offending show – it was difficult to find one that didn’t reveal the victims’ faces.

As if there aren’t enough human rights violations in Pakistan, sections of the media have joined the ranks of the violators, accosting individuals on the streets, barging into private homes, accusing people of being gay or bullying them to prove otherwise. The show, part of a vigilante series sensationally titled Khufia (Secret), was broadcast on Dec 15 on a new channel called Abb Takk – here is the programme link (if you can bear to watch). These vigil-aunties can do this because the people they target are poor and resourceless, with no armed security guards. (Here’s the link to the PEMRA feedback form and the Abb Takk email address: md@abbtakk.tv if you want to register your complaint. Please do share a copy with Citizens for Free and Responsible Media, at this link). My article on the issue in The News, Pakistan and Hardnews, India. More below.
Continue reading

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