The Kohistan ‘video scandal’ in context

Screenshot of the video: the women sitting on the floor clap and sing a song… a man dances. Kohistan, Pakistan.

My article in weekly The News on Sunday published on June 10, 2012. I wrote it to meet their June 7 deadline, before the fact-finding team submitted its report. One of the members of that team was the activist Fouza Saeed who wrote about her experience in this article of June 8, A tipping point?: Real concerns in Kohistan.

Kohistan in context

The ‘religious’ militancy is adding to the social conservative values that weigh down women

By Beena Sarwar

Over the past few months, Kohistan has hit the headlines for reasons that symbolise much of what’s wrong in Pakistan: short-sighted policies that have given a boost to ‘religious’ extremists, poor law and order and prosecution systems that allow people to get away with murder, and conservative social values that reduce women to the status of chattel who can be killed for the sake of ‘honour’. Continue reading

Cartoon and comment: Indo Pak pee further contest, May 1998

In Kathmandu for a meeting, on May 28, 1998 when Pakistan retaliated to India’s nuclear tests with its own, I found my journalist friend Kunda Dixit trying to draw this cartoon, that I re-drew for him. It was published with the commentary “Let them eat grass” in Himal Southasian, June 1998. I’d been trying to find it – thanks Roman Gautam at Himal for emailing the page scan.

Pakistan’s medical fraternity plea re: the tragic death of Dr Aftab Qureshi and SayNoToWeapons

Dr Aftab Qureshi: Another life snuffed out

Received via email, a doctor’s heartfelt plea about the tragic death of his colleague, the eminent neurosurgeon Dr Aftab Qureshi who had been kidnapped and was killed during a rescue operation that also claimed the lives of two security personnel, followed by citizen activist Naeem Sadiq’s note about his “Say No to Weapons” campaign. Unless police are properly trained, equipped, empowered, de-politicised and allowed to tackle crime at the local levels, with successful prosecutions, there’s no winning ‘war on terror’.

To: Continue reading

Human rights activists condemn threat to Asma Jahangir’s life

 Link to South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) statement of concern regarding the threat to Asma Jahangir 

Signatories to HRCP Press release condemning threat to Asma’s life:

Lahore, 4 June 2012: We the undersigned citizens, belonging to various sections of Pakistan’s civil society, express our serious concern and alarm at the information-leak from a responsible and highly credible source that there is a serious threat to the life of the country’s leading human rights activist and one of the most influential leaders of the bar, Ms Asma Jahangir. What makes the reported conspiracy to liquidate Asma Jahangir especially serious is, firstly, the environment of target-killings, in which dissident persons’ dead bodies are being dumped all over, and, secondly, the fact that the finger of accusation has been pointed at the extraordinarily privileged state actors. We wish to make it clear to all and sundry, especially those who preside over the security apparatus, that they must not under-estimate the consequences of any harm being caused to the life of Asma Jahangir. This is not a conspiracy against one individual alone; it is obviously a plot against Pakistan’s future as a democratic state, of which the threat to Asma Jahangir may be only one, though crucial, part. What the duty of the state in this matter is and how the civil society must face the challenge thrown to it need no elaboration. Continue reading

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