Targeting of Marvi Sirmed latest in attacks on human rights activists, journalists, in Pakistan

Marvi Sirmed ransack-2018

Journalist couple Marvi and Sirmed Manzoor’s house ransacked: Humiliating violation of privacy besides theft of laptops, cell phone, passport. Online photo

Journalists in Pakistan are under increasing pressure, besides severe, ongoing censorship. The break in to columnist and activist Marvi Sirmed’s house and its ransacking is the latest in the series of intimidation, threats and violence to those who uphold democratic values and are critical of the security establishment.

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Nowhere man: An accidental Pakistani seeks Indian citizenship

viqar sharifUPDATE: Reunited with his family in India on 23 May, M. Viqar Sharif is now trying to figure out how he can stay there. Suggestions? Email: editor@amankiasha.com. This story Meet the Nowhere Man, an Accidental Pakistani Seeking Indian Citizenship was first published in The Wire on 21 May 2018.

Nowhere man: An accidental Pakistani with Indian family seeks Indian citizenshi

By Beena Sarwar

In a wonderful gift at the advent of Ramzan, on 17 May, the Indian High Commission in Islamabad granted a visit visa to Muhammad Viqar Sharif, 47, an accidental Pakistani stuck in a boys’ hostel in Islamabad since February.

His entire family is in Hyderabad, India, including 74-year old mother, wife and four children, all Indian citizens. His father and grandparents are buried there. His wife and children have never been to Pakistan.

“Pakistan is a beautiful place. All it’s missing is my six family members,” he told me.

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Once spy vs spy, former chiefs of RAW and ISI co-author a book

A S DULAT AIRPORT

Former RAW chief A.S. Dulat on arrival at Karachi airport for the Aman Ki Asha seminar “Re-engagement for Peace”, March 2011.

A short preview published in Aman Ki Asha the other day about the just published Spy Chronicles co-authored by former heads of India and Pakistan’s intelligence agencies.

In March 2011, Pakistan had an unusual visitor. Among the Indian delegates of a ground-breaking seminar titled “Re-Engagement for Peace” in Karachi was A. S. Dulat, former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW).

The delegates were participating in the second in a series of three closed-door ‘strategic seminars’ organised by Maj. Gen. (rtd.) Mahmud Ali Durrani in conjunction with the peace platform Aman Ki Asha jointly launched by the Jang Group of Pakistan and the Times of India in 2010.

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Youth-led, social media-powered movement in Pakistan gains ground – despite media blackout

Woman at a PTM rally clutch photos of missing loved ones. Photo: courtesy Taqra Qabaili Khwenday (brave tribal sisters) via Amna Durrani

When Scroll asked me to write something on the Pashtun movement sweeping through Pakistan, I thought it would be an easy assignment because I’ve been following the issue. But writing this piece was much more difficult and took a lot longer than I expected. Here’s my piece contextualising the issue trying to explain to a non-initiated audience what this is all about, published in Scroll on May 6, 2018 under the head: FIGHTING CENSORSHIP. 

In Pakistan, a youth-led, social media-powered movement is gaining ground – despite a media blackout

The revolution will not be televised in Pakistan. Unless it has the blessings of the powers-that-be. This has been proved time and again in the past, under a system ruled directly by the military for more than half the country’s 71-year history. The current censorship may be the worst-ever. Continue reading

Pakistani journalists protest growing censorship

 

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Over 100 Pakistani journalists, editors, columnists, media persons from across the media landscape in the country have endorsed this statement since it was initiated on 19 April, protesting against the ongoing curbs on freedom of expression in the country. It follows on the heels of a statement signed by prominent academics including Noam Chomsky. Besides the stifling of debate at university campuses, articles are being pulled off media websites in Pakistan like Babar Sattar’s oped (published in this blog) as well as three other pieces in The News on Sunday this past weekend. Others were not published to begin with, like Mobashir Zaidi’s oped in The News, and Gul Bukhari’s article on 16 April that The Nation didn’t run (published in Naya Daur). Statement and list below.

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Censored: Babar Sattar’s article on the Pashtun peace movement; solidarity with academic Ammar Ali Jan and Geo TV

“PTM could very well stand for Pakistan Tahafuz Movement, for peace is indivisible”

Manzoor Pashteen, leader of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement, addressing a protest gathering in Peshawar on April 8. Photo: Abdul Majeed/AFP

Lawyer Babar Sattar writes an excellent weekly column in The News. This week column didn’t run because, as he tweeted, the media is banned from mentioning PTM, and Geo and the Jang Group (that publishes The News) shut down/ordered not to touch “sensitive” topics.

In the interest of freedom of express and in solidarity with the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement and those fighting for peace and democracy in Pakistan, read Babar Sattar’s article reproduced in full below (trigger warning: graphic description of child rape). Please also raise a voice in support ofthe young academic Ammar Ali Jan who has been fired from Punjab University for encouraging students to think for themselves. “Certain quarters” also warned him to stay away from Manzoor Pashteen and the PTM, otherwise he will face “dire consequences”. But this is not, as he says, a time to be silent. See his post below also. Continue reading

Asma. A human rights giant, and more. My tribute in EPW

Wrote this piece for the Economic and Political Weekly, published a couple of weeks ago. Unedited version here with additional links, photos and videos.

  • Asma Jahangir, lawyer, human rights activist.
  • Born 27 January 1952, Lahore; died: 11 February 2018, Lahore.
  • Co-founder: AGHS law firm, 1980, AGHS Legal Aid Cell, 1983; Womens Action Forum, 1981;
  • Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 1986.
  • Involved in launch of Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy, 1994, and launch of South Asians for Human Rights, 2000.
  • UN Special Rapporteur: extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, 1998 to 2004; freedom of religion or belief, 2004-2010; situation of human rights in Iran, November 2016 till death.
  • Elected first female President, Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Association, 2010.

Asma was all this and so much more. Continue reading

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