Women’s Action Forum letter to the Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Pakistan

recover-activistsReproducing below the letter sent by the Women’s Action Forum letter to the Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Pakistan about the “disappeared” activists and the deliberate and sustained campaign against them in the media and on social media. This campaign, with its accusations of blasphemy and treason being leveled against the missing activists and those campaigning for their safe recovery poses a danger to those missing, their families and the human rights campaigners.

WAF urges that the state, its institutions and agencies be held responsible for the recovery of the missing bloggers/activists and inform what the investigation has yielded, and that the federation be held answerable for non-compliance of SC orders on the issue of enforced disappearances.

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An Indo-Pak tribute to Amjad Sabri

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Nitin Mitta and Naseeruddin Saami with the Saami brothers at Peabody Essex Museum. Photo: Beena Sarwar

My article for Aman ki Asha, “hope for peace”, the India-Pakistan peace initiative launched in 2010 by two media giants on either side, the Jang Group of Pakistan and the Times of India

The morning of Wednesday, 22 June 2016 dawned in New York with shattering news of the target killing of Amjad Sabri in broad daylight across the world in Karachi. The tragedy, devastating for millions of fans, was a personal blow for the legendary classical music maestro Naseeruddin Saami and his sons, on tour in the USA towards the end of their first ever visit to America.  Continue reading

Another assassination in Pakistan; just have to ‘keep on keepin’ on’

My article in PRI’s The World, June 25, 2016

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Thousands of people attend the funeral procession of Amjad Sabri. Photo: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

“They’ve shot dead Amjad Sabri” — the first words I heard on Wednesday morning marked news of yet another assassination in my beloved Karachi, still “home” despite living in the Boston area since 2011.

Sabri was one of the world’s most famous exponents of the devotional music known as Qawwali. On Wednesday, two gunmen intercepted his car and shot him dead at close range in the crowded locality near his house. Continue reading

RIP Amjad Sabri, symbol of a syncretic Sufi culture increasingly under attack

Amjad SabriA sad, sad day. Rest in peace, Amjad Sabri, qawwal, shot dead in a target killing in Karachi today. Shortly afterwards, the young naat-khwan, Farhan Ali Waris escaped a murderous attack on his way home from a recording where he had in fact waiting for Amjad Sabri to join him.  A continuation of the trend of killing Shia and Ahmadi doctors for their faith, now musicians…? But Amjad Sabri was not just a ‘musician’.

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Muslim Americans strongly condemn the horrendous crime in Orlando, express deepest condolences to the victims and their families

Returned from a long road trip today to news of the horrendous massacre in Orlando. As details emerge about the bloodshed and condemnations pour in, some Boston-area Muslim American organisations have issued the statement below, and Mayor Marty Walsh has announced a vigil in front of City Hall Plaza at 6 pm on Monday

PRESS STATEMENT (please share widely)

Shooting attack at gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida

Photo: Phelen M. Ebenhack / AP

Muslim Americans strongly condemn the horrendous crime in Orlando, express deepest condolences to the victims and their families

BOSTON: The community and leaders of the Islamic Mausemeen Center of New England, Imamia Muslim Foundation and Masumeen Trust join all Americans in condemning the senseless act of violence perpetrated in Florida today against fellow human beings. Such criminal acts against any human beings are against all belief systems of the world.

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Harsh Mander and his vision of “a world of new solidarity”

My column in Himal Southasian, published 10 June 2016 –  Harsh Mander on why we should raise our voice against injustice

By Beena Sarwar

Photo : Beena Sarwar

Harsh Mander: Committed, consistent and soft-spoken. Photo: Beena Sarwar

Cross-border solidarity isn’t exactly a new idea. The rallying cry, “Proletarians of all countries, unite!…” that emerged in 1848 from The Communist Manifesto has resounded around the globe in many forms since it was first articulated.

Meeting Harsh Mander, one of India’s foremost activist-intellectuals and a courageous former civil servant, again revived the idea for me, but this time, beyond workers. I had first met the soft-spoken Mander in Karachi, when I worked for Geo TV. He had been part of a small delegation from India visiting Pakistan in early 2004, a visit aimed at improving understanding between India and Pakistan, organised by the social-cultural group Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD). Continue reading

Sabeen Mahmud: Inclusive spaces and #tree4Sabeen

In Karachi last week, I wrote about Sabeen Mahmud and the Creative Karachi Festival held to commemorate her life and work. PRI published it with the title Remembering a Pakistani woman who died because she wanted everyone to have a space to speak freely along with my radio interview with Marco Werman of PRI’s The World. Below is the unabridged text including with more links and photos. Also see our friend Afia Salam’s tribute to Sabeen in The Wire, Why Sabeen Mahmud Will Always Matter.

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A poster with Sabeen’s photo at CKF 2016 on a divider between a stall and walkway at the Alliance Francaise. Photo: Beena Sarwar

Beena Sarwar

Early on Sunday morning in Karachi, a small, eclectic crowd converged at The Second Floor, the iconic coffee shop-cultural hub founded by my young friend Sabeen Mahmud in 2007.  Continue reading

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