WAF statement on May 22 killings in Karachi

A young man, bleeding apparently due to gunshot wounds, runs for his life after "unknown assailants" opened fire at a rally in Karachi on May 22, 2012. Photo: Faysal Mujeeb/Whitestar

A young man, bleeding apparently due to gunshot wounds, runs for his life after “unknown assailants” opened fire at a rally in Karachi on May 22, 2012. Photo: Faysal Mujeeb/Whitestar

The violence in Karachi on May 22, 2012 that killed 11 people reminded many people of the firing that claimed nearly fifty lives on May 12, 2007 (about which I wrote ‘Eyewitness Karachi‘, originally published in The News on Sunday). Below, a statement from Women’s Action Forum (WAF) about the recent bloodshed:

Women’s Action Forum Hyderabad, Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad is appalled that a peaceful demonstration against the division of Sindh on May 22, 2012 was violently attacked, resulting in the tragic death of at least 11 people, including two friends and comrades. We strongly condemn the use of force under any circumstances and particularly when it is used to subdue the democratic rights of the people to express their sentiments and political positions. Continue reading

Rinkle Kumari: A Test Case for Jinnah’s Pakistan (Updated)

Marvi Sirmed raises some critical questions about the complex case of Rinkle Kumari, with a timeline of the case, on her blog Rinkle Kumari: A Test Case for Jinnah’s Pakistan (Updated).

Signature campaign and public performance against violence in the name of religion

Signature campaign against violence in the name of religion


CFD volunteers receive an encouraging response as they engage with members of the public.

On April 14, 2012 Citizens for Democracy organized a signature campaign against killings and other violence in the name of religion, as well a public theatre performance. Read more at the CFD blog… Signature campaign and public performance against violence in the name of religion.

Dr Khalil Chishty is back home – three cheers for candle-light peaceniks

Ajmer: Dr Chishty talks with his family after his release from jail in Ajmer on May 9, 2012. PTI Photo

A post by my Delhi-based journalist friend Shivam Vij in Kafila but he modestly leaves out his own role in this – it was his idea to get President Zardari briefed about the Dr Chishty case before he left for Ajmer. Thanks to Farahnaz Ispahani for getting the information to President Zardari, following up via Bilawal Bhutto who accompanied the President, and ensured that the matter came up when they met Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. It was after this meeting and their discussion of the case that things began moving forward. Perhaps that was what gave the Honourable Judges of the Supreme Court of India the confidence to make this unprecedented judgement – though not without cautioning that it should not be seen as a precedent! Shivam’s Kafila piece: Dr Khalil Chishty is back home – three cheers for candle-light peaceniks.

Beyond business

New Delhi, May 2010: OUP Director Ameena Saiyid presents Brij Mohan Lal Munjal of Hero Honda with a souvenir at the first Aman ki Asha Indo-Pak Business Conference. Photo: TOI/ Piyal Bhattacharjee

My article on how it all started for The News special edition published ahead of ‘Dividends’, the Aman ki Asha Indo-Pak Business Meet in Lahore, May 7-8, 2012, attended by several top Indian businessmen, addressed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the Chief Minister of Punjab, and the Foreign Minister of Pakistan. See Aman ki Asha website for more.  Continue reading

Soft power, woman power: Forging a new security paradigm

My article on the Amn-o-Nisa delegation’s visit to the USA, for Global Post, published  May 7, 2012: Soft power, woman power: Forging a new security paradigm in Pakistan

Women work to combat extremism by closing rift between Americans and Pakistanis.

Beena Sarwar

Peshawar, Dec 2011: Madrassah students and US embassy staff pose with one of the cards made by the students. Photo courtesy: PEAD

It was a unique Christmas party. Eight madrassah students in Peshawar, Pakistan took giant homemade cards, cake and flowers over to the US Consulate last year. The students and diplomats sat and talked for four hours, facilitated by teachers who provide English language and computer skills to the Islamic schools.

“This is the first time that these boys are connecting to and being exposed to a world outside the madrassah,” said Sameena Imtiaz, executive director of Peace Education and Development (PEAD), a non-profit foundation in Pakistan that has been working with madrassahs since 2005. “It wasn’t easy to build this relationship. It has taken a long time for them to trust us.” Continue reading

Bengali “Crossfire” reaches U.S.

This is a slightly longer version of my interview of Bangladeshi photographer-activist Shahidul Alam published in Latitude News, May 4, 2012, with reference to his exhibition at Queen’s Museum in New York. The exhibition is an attempt to internationalise the issue of extra-judicial killings. Thousands have been killed in such ‘crossfire’, allegedly at the hands of Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) that the U.S. and UK governments have been training and providing arms to.

Crossfire @ Queens

Crossfire launch at Queens Museum. Photo: Beena Sarwar

In “Crossfire,” an exhibition of photographs at the Queens Museum of Art in New York that closes on Sunday the 6th, acclaimed Bangladeshi photographer and activist Shahidul Alam chronicles the extra-judicial killings allegedly committed by Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion, or RAB.Over a thousand victims have been ‘cross-fired,’ or executed by police without trial, in the last four years in the South Asian country, human rights activists claim. Many more people, perhaps thousands in total, have suffered similar fates, they say. Continue reading

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