Rising above divisive politics, golf tournament brings Indians and Pakistanis together in America

Wrote this curtain raiser a couple of weeks ago together with a colleague in India, published in Aman Ki Asha 20 September 2019.

By Neel Kamal and Beena Sarwar

The world’s largest India-Pakistan golf tournament will take place in Los Angeles early October, even as relations between nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours India and Pakistan sink to a dangerously low levels.

Photo from Mohubbat Golf Tournament 2018
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Cricket World Cup and the spirit of South Asia – #SouthAsianUnion

Bashir-Chacha-CWC-2019

M. Bashir ‘Chacha Chicago’ cheers for both teams (for details see this report)

I wrote this piece published in The Wire 6 June 2019, Letter From a Pakistani to an Indian Friend: Can We Please Have a South Asian Union? — pegged on Eid at the time. Posting it here on the eve of the Cricket World Cup match between Pakistan and India in Manchester Sunday. As Admiral Ramu Ramdas says in his little video message, treat it as a game, not a proxy war… And we want a South Asian spirit (also see Himal SouthAsian map and caption below)

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Press Freedom: Challenges to journalism go beyond violence and commercial threats

Indian journalist and trade unionist Sabina Inderjit and others at the conference. Photo: Beena Sarwar

After I attended a media conference in Poland in June last year where I also presented a paper on digital and traditional media, an old friend and colleague from Lahore asked me to write a short report about it for his media outlet Dispatch News Desk. Shared below, belatedly, on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day. p.s. DND, which has a presence in Central Asia, also published the report in Russian.

Journalists at media conference vow to uphold journalistic values and ethics

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Youth-led, social media-powered movement in Pakistan gains ground – despite media blackout

Woman at a PTM rally clutch photos of missing loved ones. Photo: courtesy Taqra Qabaili Khwenday (brave tribal sisters) via Amna Durrani

When Scroll asked me to write something on the Pashtun movement sweeping through Pakistan, I thought it would be an easy assignment because I’ve been following the issue. But writing this piece was much more difficult and took a lot longer than I expected. Here’s my piece contextualising the issue trying to explain to a non-initiated audience what this is all about, published in Scroll on May 6, 2018 under the head: FIGHTING CENSORSHIP. 

In Pakistan, a youth-led, social media-powered movement is gaining ground – despite a media blackout

The revolution will not be televised in Pakistan. Unless it has the blessings of the powers-that-be. This has been proved time and again in the past, under a system ruled directly by the military for more than half the country’s 71-year history. The current censorship may be the worst-ever. Continue reading

Update on Hamid Ansari, Indian national “missing” in Pakistan

Update to Hamid Ansari case: He was produced in court, tried in a military court and awarded three years’ vigorous imprisonment starting from December 15, 2015. He has appealed to be treated not for anti-state (espionage) but illegal activities (crossing the border without a visa).

Journeys to democracy

Hamid Ansari, 27, MBA, Rotarian from Mumbai... missing since Nov 2012 Hamid Ansari, 27, MBA, Rotarian from Mumbai… missing since Nov 2012

Update to case below: Hamid Ansari was produced in court, tried in a military court and awarded three years’ vigorous imprisonment starting from December 15, 2015. He has appealed to be treated not as a spy.

The police in Pakistan have confirmed that the ISI and MI have custody of Hamid Ansari, the young Indian national who has been missing in Pakistan since 2012. So will we see him produced in court as directed by the honorable judges? See my earlier post Hamid Ansari: Mumbai man missing in Pakistan (we treat each other’s citizens differently). On second thoughts, not that differently. Our security agencies treat their own citizens as badly. Plenty of examples all over both countries — Kashmir, Balochistan, Sindh, Assam, Manipur, to name some areas where such violations take place routinely. The documents below, presented…

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Returning inadvertent border-crossers and more: Glimpses of humanity

fauzia-ansari-and-nehal-ansari-parents-of-hamidLast week I wrote this short piece below for Aman ki Asha (hope for peace) after the Indian border security forces returned a young, inadvertent border-crosser to Pakistan. Today, there’s news that the Pakistan government will allow the wife of the Indian national and alleged spy Kulbushan Yadav to meet him “on humanitarian grounds”.

This raises hopes that the parents of another Indian prisoner Hamid Ansari will finally also be allowed to meet him. In fact, as the Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy has said, the families of all cross-border prisoners should be given access to their loved ones in prison across the border.  Continue reading

Relief at Zeenat Shehzadi’s recovery

Zeenat-%22Quaid and daughter of Quaid%22 2014I wrote this piece for The Wire on Oct. 24, after hearing that the young journalist-activist Zeenat Shehzadi who “disappeared” over two years ago, has been recovered. A brief re-cap of what happened and how her case is linked to that of a young Indian man whose case she had been following after his “disappearance” in Pakistan. 

Pakistani Reporter Zeenat Shahzadi, Who Disappeared While Searching for Indian Man, Reappears

The Pakistani journalist-activist – who had gone missing in August 2015 – has paid a heavy price for wanting to uphold humanitarianism and the principles of social justice.

Five days before she was due to testify before Pakistan’s Commission of Enquiry on Enforced Disappearances in August 2015, 24-year-old journalist-activist Zeenat Shahzadi herself became a disappeared person. She remained missing until her parents received word on Friday – October 19, 2017 – that she had been recovered.

Shahzadi’s mother has spoken to her and reported that she was alright. The family would like to be left alone and not pressed for more details.   [Read more…]

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