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

Update on Hamid Ansari, Indian national “missing” in Pakistan

Update to Hamid Ansari case: He was produced in court, tried in a military court and awarded three years’ vigorous imprisonment starting from December 15, 2015. He has appealed to be treated not for anti-state (espionage) but illegal activities (crossing the border without a visa).

Journeys to democracy

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

Update to case below: Hamid Ansari was produced in court, tried in a military court and awarded three years’ vigorous imprisonment starting from December 15, 2015. He has appealed to be treated not as a spy.

The police in Pakistan have confirmed that the ISI and MI have custody of Hamid Ansari, the young Indian national who has been missing in Pakistan since 2012. So will we see him produced in court as directed by the honorable judges? See my earlier post Hamid Ansari: Mumbai man missing in Pakistan (we treat each other’s citizens differently). On second thoughts, not that differently. Our security agencies treat their own citizens as badly. Plenty of examples all over both countries — Kashmir, Balochistan, Sindh, Assam, Manipur, to name some areas where such violations take place routinely. The documents below, presented…

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Soch Columbia: “Rethinking Partition: The Quest for Jinnah’s Nation”

L to R - Kapil Dev, Ameena Zia, Yasser Latif Hamdani, Qasim Rashid, Hira Azhar

Panel on Azadi: The Fight for Religious Freedom in South Asia: (L-R) Kapil Dev, Ameena Zia, Yasser Latif Hamdani, Qasim Rashid, Hira Azhar. Photo: Columbia Soch.

Delighted to have participated at the Soch (thought) conference organised by Pakistani students association that includes at least one Indian (love it!) at Columbia University in New York last weekend. I was struck by the boldness of the themes they chose as well as the choice of speakers, many known for their outspokenness against the ‘establishment’. Below, their press release (photos: courtesy Soch). Continue reading

Asma’s tribe: a remembrance at Harvard

Shahla Haeri-pic Ibrahim Rashid

Iranian anthropologist Shahla Haeri pays tribute to her Pakistani behen Asma. Photo: Ibrahim Rashid.

Days after Asma Jahangir passed away in Lahore, some of us, members of what I think of as Asma’s tribe, got together at Harvard to commemorate her life, impact and achievements. We had lots of flowers, and music, and chai and samosas – she loved these things and loved hosting people. The languages spoken — English, Urdu, Punjabi, Bengali and Farsi — are a testament to Asma’s reach. Below, two reports about the event by students at Emerson College and Wellesley College, with video clips of some speakers’ comments. All video clips online on Vimeo, courtesy Rick Brotman. Cambridge Community Television will run a full video of the event next Saturday. Here’s the slideshow we displayed at the event :

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India, Pakistan: For a better future, build on prisoner exchange agreement

Maier-tikka

Two-year old Maier Jawwad needs urgent heart surgery in India.

Wrote a piece on a glimmer of hope regarding India Pakistan relations that needs to be built upon. Published in The News and in The Wire; original text below.

The best news in some time is that India and Pakistan are rising above their differences and joining hands for a humanitarian cause – they have agreed to exchange vulnerable prisoners (women, the elderly over 70 years, and those with special needs), as well as revive the Joint Judicial Committee on Prisoners that has not met since 2013. They will also allow medical experts from both sides to meet and examine mentally challenged prisoners in preparation for their repatriation.  Continue reading

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