There is no ‚Äėhonour‚Äô in killing – Sept 2008, sadly still relevant

samia sarwar

Not just the ‘poor’ and ‘uneducated’ – Samia Sarwar was murdered in her lawyer’s office by a man abetted by her own mother, a doctor.

The outrage against the murder of Farzana Parveen outside the Lahore High Court reminded me of something I wrote in September 2008, published in The News, Pakistan and in The Hindu, India, below.¬†Farzana was going to the court¬†to testify that she had married her husband of her own choice (defending him against kidnapping charges her family had brought against him). Such murders for ‘honour’ are common in the region. In Pakistan, the situation is exacerbated by the Qisas and Diyat law which enables the perpetrators to literally get away with murder (as Raymond Davis did). This case is particularly horrific because of where it happened and because the woman was three months pregnant. ¬†See booklet¬†by Hassam Qadir Shah:¬†Honour killing-criminal procedures-Hassam Qadir Shah-Shirkat Gah¬†(2002, PDF)¬†

There is no ‚Äėhonour‚Äô in killing, Sept 2008

[Note: in my published article, I had mixed up the names, corrected below Рthe correct names are Saima Waheed and Samia Sarwar]  Continue reading

India, Pakistan: Moving on the right track

May 25, , Puri beach, Odisha: Sand artist Sudarshan Pattnaik's image of India‚Äôs Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi and the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made in sand, with the message ‚ÄĚ Peace gets a chance‚Äô.

May 25, , Puri beach, Odisha: Sand artist Sudarshan Pattnaik’s image of India‚Äôs Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi and the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made in sand, with the message ‚ÄĚ Peace gets a chance‚Äô.

I don’t have any great expectations from Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s upcoming visit to Delhi for PM designate Modi’s inauguration but it’s good that he’s going (despite all the pressures) and that contact is being initiated. Hopefully this contact will lead to steps being taken to implement agreements that have already been signed (re: trade, travel) that are in limbo. In that spirit, a re-plug for the¬†Aman ki Asha¬†petition against visa restrictions. Please sign and share if you haven’t already. Also,¬†a¬†very positive step ahead of the Modi-Sharif meeting is that, as a goodwill gesture, Pakistan has ordered the release of over 150 Indian prisoners, mostly fishermen, from Pakistani prisons. And for the first time, they are also releasing fishing boats. This is the first time in years that any side has decided to release fishing boats – kudos to Pakistan for taking the lead in this direction.

PIPFPD welcomes fishermen’s release, participation of Sharif in Modi’s swearing in ceremony

Modi’s invitation to Nawaz Sharif – a welcome move: Justice Markandey Katju Continue reading

“In a democracy the people are supreme, and can criticize all government agencies, which are only servants of the people”

Hamid Mir: Fighting on. AFP photo: Aamir Qureshi

Hamid Mir: Fighting on. AFP photo: Aamir Qureshi

Retired judge of the Supreme Court of India, Justice Markandey Katju, Chairman Press Council of India, emailed the following statement about the attack on Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir:

May 23, 2014: I strongly condemn the attack in Karachi on Hamid Mir, the well known Pakistani journalist, who sustained six bullet injuries in the attack. This is a direct attack on media freedom, whether it was by the Taliban or ISI or anyone else.

Though I have differed with some of the views of Mr. Hamid Mir, I believe, like Voltaire, that he has the democratic right to express his views. Continue reading

Requiem for a rights activist

Rashid Rehman KhanSenior journalist and Director, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan I.A. Rehman on a valued comrade and beloved nephew, shot dead in his office last week:

He loved life but he loved justice even more. He did not fail anyone, everybody who mattered failed him…. What is the situation now?

‚ÄĘ The journalists in Multan dare not write about the murder.
‚ÄĘ The judges in the Lahore High Court are apparently avoiding hearing Aasia Bibi‚Äôs appeal.
‚ÄĘ The Multan police want the people to believe they do not know who the mischief-makers are.
‚ÄĘ There is no authority in the country that can stem the wave of intolerance that is going to erase all remnants of reason and civilisation.

Let all those hurt by murder in the HRCP office stop mourning  Rashid’s loss and gird up their loins to save the next ones marked for annihilation.

Read the complete article: Obituary: Requiem for a rights activist

“Another light has gone out in Pakistan”: the martyrdom of Dr Faisal Manzoor

 

Dr Faisal Manzoor“Another light has gone out in Pakistan.” Less than a week after advocate Rashid Rehman was killed¬†in Multan, Dr Faisal Manzoor has been gunned down outside his hospital in Hasanabdal. Tragic beyond words. May his family and friends find the courage to bear the loss. May the security and political establishments find what it takes to find his killers, charge, try and punish them. This culture of impunity must end. Please read Dr¬†Omar Ali’s blog post about his colleague¬†Dr Rashid Manzoor, killed just two months after his cousin, also a doctor at the same hospital, was gunned down at the same spot¬†— both killed only because they were Shia (The Martyrdom of Dr Faisal Manzoor). “They were not just Shia, they were¬†prominent Shias. They were also prominent philanthropists, prominent doctors, prominent helpers of those in need, prominent hosts of distant cousins of friends of friends..and prominent friends of all and sundry. But being prominent Shia was what got them targeted…..and all the other prominences did not help one bit when the motorbike boys came looking for targets.”

¬†Also see my earlier piece¬†–¬†Pakistan’s ‘enlightenment martyrs’.

Rashid Rehman and the ‚Äúmedia campaign by vampires‚ÄĚ…

Khabrain2-April21-2014¬†On April 21 evening, Supreme Court¬†advocate¬†Rashid Rehman Khan in Multan sent this note below to an¬†email list with the subject line,¬†‚Äúmedia campaign by vampires‚ÄĚ. He included scans of a¬†report in that day‚Äôs daily Khabrain¬†about a press conference by¬†Tehrik-e-Tahafuz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat (Movement to Protect the Honour of the Prophethood), where speakers¬†objected to his attempts to move the case of a ‚Äėblasphemy‚Äô accused teacher¬†whom he was defending, out of Multan. It was also after a media campaign against him that the Governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseer was murdered.

Continue reading

A quiet hero. RIP Rashid Rehman Khan

Rashid Rehman- screenshot from Mukhtiar Mai documentaryHeard the terrible news a few hours ago that the courageous Multan-based advocate Rashid Rehman Khan of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has been shot dead in Multan. Criminal cowards barged into his chamber and opened fire, killing him and injuring two others. He had been under threat for some time for defending a blasphemy accused, but refused to back down. More ominously, no protection was provided to him – although given the climate in Pakistan, any lawyer taking up a blasphemy case should be given 24-hour protection. Continue reading

Joint statement of solidarity by senior Pakistani journalists against censorship, urging media unity against threats and attacks

press-freedomDozens of senior Pakistani journalists have signed a¬†statement expressing unity and solidarity with each other¬†in today’s divisive times.¬†Many of us have¬†associations with different companies, we have fought long and hard against censorship and for media ethics,¬†and we¬†will not let ourselves be used against each other.¬†Note:¬†This was released on¬†May 3,¬†World Press Freedom Day, with 50 signatories. More are being added as they come in.

Joint statement of solidarity by senior Pakistani journalists against censorship, urging media unity against threats and attacks

Continue reading

Ali Dayan Hasan leaves Human Rights Watch

Ali Dayan Hasan. Photo: Malik Siraj Akbar

Ali Dayan Hasan. Photo: Malik Siraj Akbar

Human Rights Watch has issued a laudatory press release about the departure of their long-time Pakistan Director Ali Dayan Hasan from the organisation. Since¬†statement will not be posted on their website, I’m sharing it below. Incidentally,¬†I’ve known Ali since he was a school student in his teens, when¬†he¬†did his first reporting assignment for me at The Frontier Post in Lahore¬†—¬†long before he became a¬†senior editor¬†at monthly The Herald and then a hot shot human rights activist. He told¬†me some time back that he wants to do his own thing. Good luck Ali. Whatever you do, I’m sure you’ll do it well. May the force(s) be with you.¬†

***Media Advisory***

Ali Dayan Hasan Departs Human Rights Watch Continue reading

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