Proposed amendments to the Blasphemy Laws

PPP Parliamentarian Sherry Rehman’s proposed AMENDMENTS TO THE BLASPHEMY LAWS ACT 2010 – posted by Marvi Sirmed at her blog

Communist Party member Latifullah Khan murdered


Communist Party of Pakistan strongly condemns the audacious targeted killing of Comrade Latifullah Khan, member CPP in village Gandigar, District Dir, Pukhtoonkhwa province.

Since the start of Taliban and fanatics insurgency in Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa (ex. NWFP) province, a planned holocaust of the enlightened and educated people is underway. The sheer oblivion of the state intentionally keeps this area backward in education and development of infrastructure, which has contributed to the rise in Islamic fanaticism and jingoism (once sponsored by the state of Pakistan through its international donors from Saudi Arabia and USA and allied countries).

The insurgency of Taliban in the region since last year has destroyed over 1,100 schools and educational institutions in the area; school teachers and school going children are mercilessly targeted and killed in a large number on a daily basis. Continue reading

Aasiya blasphemy case: Field notes, petitions and a press release

The death sentence that a district court handed down to Aasiya Bibi, a poor Christian woman in Punjab, is not the first of its kind except that this is the first time a woman has been so sentenced (but not the first time one has been so accused). Since the ‘blasphemy law’ was promulgated, there have been many such convictions – that the higher courts have always over-turned. District courts have also shown sense: I remember a woman district judge in Karachi acquitting Chand Barkat, a bangle seller who had been accused by a rival). However, vigilante violence (cold-bloodedly orchestrated by extremist organisations) has claimed the lives of some 20 charged under this law or publicly accused of this ‘crime’. Continue reading

Father, Son and the Holy War by Anand Patwardhan wins Sheffield Doc/Fest Audience award


The results of the Sheffield Doc/Fest Audience Award were announced on Monday 8 November and we have two winners, following a tie! The Sheffield Doc/Fest Audience Award is a highly respected award, the winners of which are chosen by the delegates and public who attend the film screenings at Doc/Fest.

The winning films of the 2010 award are Father, Son and the Holy War by Anand Patwardhan and Scenes from a Teenage Killing by Morgan Matthews.

Doc/Fest’s Film Programmer Hussain Currimbhoy comments of the winning films: “Both films are about violence in society and their ties to masculinity so I can’t think of a more relevant set of films to be giving our prize to at this particular moment in time.”

When the directors were informed and were delighted. Anand Patwardhan (Father, Son and Holy War) said of result: “Just heard this fantastic news! Never imagined that people would even bother to vote for an old film from the retro section, let alone vote the way they have. A big thank you to the good people of Sheffield and all the new and old friends of the festival. onwards and into the summer…!” Continue reading

Zekiye Eglar’s Punjabi Village in Pakistan (with my intro, epilogue & bio)

Thrilled to receive my copy of  A Punjabi Village in Pakistan – Perspectives on Community, Land, and Economy by Zekiye Eglar, for which I wrote the introduction, epilogue and biography of Eglar, a Russian-Turkish anthropologist, protegee of Margaret Mead at Columbia University. Eglar provides a fascinating account of village life in Punjab, Pakistan, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, when she lived in Mohla, a village not far from Gujranwala.

The OUP publication has compiled her out-of-print award-winning book (A Punjabi Village in Pakistan, Columbia University Press 1960) and its until-now unpublished sequel, (The Economic Life of a Punjabi Village), from a manuscript that Eglar’s friend and protege Fazal Chowdhry brought to the attention of Mary Catherine Bateson (prominent anthropologist, Mead’s daughter).

From the OUP website: “This volume contains relevant insights into Pakistani society, particularly women, which are still pertinent today, as well as a more holistic and humanistic view of village life in South Asia. Eglar’s study is useful for precisely what she focused on—the patterns of ritual service and gift exchange which underlay every facet of life in a village.”

Hardback 473 pages ISBN: 9780195477238 Price: PKRs.1,295.00

Donate a breeding goat to a flood refugee this Eid

Not everyone was able to save their precious goats (AFP: Arif Ali)

The flood waters are receding but the needs of the flood refugees and survivors remains enormous. Blogger Farrukh Siddiqui summarises the main needs in this post  How can We Help flood victims in Pakistan

Here’s another way to help them: donate a live breeding goat to help them re-start their lives in a sustainable way.

At least two organisations I know of are working on this novel idea: Pakistan Animal Welfare Society and Sadiqa Salahuddin’s Indus Resource Centre (IRC) which has a long history of working on education (especially of girls) in the Khairpur area of Sindh.
Continue reading

Personal Political: Dear Abhijeet, please come to Pakistan

Yes, we do have theatre in Pakistan. Sania Saeed in 'Mein Adakara Banoongi'. Many other listings at

My monthly column Personal Political in The News on Sunday (Political Economy section, as ‘Going beyond ‘nothing’ in Pakistan’) and in Hard News, New Delhi

Good music too: Zeb and Haniya. See their interview at

Oct 24, 2010 Personal Political

Going beyond ‘nothing in Pakistan’

Beena Sarwar

“There is nothing in Pakistan,” said the Indian playback singer with finality. “They have no auditoriums, no facilities, there is nothing there. Everything is here (in India).”

Another example of the misconceptions about Pakistan, I thought, waiting to respond. The playback singer, Abhijeet Bhattacharya, and I were participating in a talk show for NewsX TV in New Delhi. Participating from a hired studio in Karachi, I could hear, but not see, the others.

When I tried to reply to this comment, the Indians couldn’t hear me, although I could still hear them through my earpiece connected to a phone line. I was no longer on air. NewsX had booked a live uplink from Pakistan for 20 minutes, which was over. Symbolic? Continue reading

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