Asma’s tribe: a remembrance at Harvard

Shahla Haeri-pic Ibrahim Rashid

Iranian anthropologist Shahla Haeri pays tribute to her Pakistani behen Asma. Photo: Ibrahim Rashid.

Days after Asma Jahangir passed away in Lahore, some of us, members of what I think of as Asma’s tribe, got together at Harvard to commemorate her life, impact and achievements. We had lots of flowers, and music, and chai and samosas – she loved these things and loved hosting people. The languages spoken — English, Urdu, Punjabi, Bengali and Farsi — are a testament to Asma’s reach. Below, two reports about the event by students at Emerson College and Wellesley College, with video clips of some speakers’ comments. All video clips online on Vimeo, courtesy Rick Brotman. Cambridge Community Television will run a full video of the event next Saturday. Here’s the slideshow we displayed at the event :

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Pakistani, Indian citizens appeal: “Let’s talk peace”

Over 400 artists, writers, activists, academics, lawyers, businesspeople, journalists and students from Pakistan and India appeal to their governments, fellow citizens, politicians and media to strive for peaceful relations between the two countries

Sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik’s piece for Raksha Bandhan at Puri beach, Odisha, with a message urging India and Pakistan to “Stop Bullets, Be Friends”

Sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik’s piece for Raksha Bandhan at Puri beach, Odisha, with a message urging India and Pakistan to “Stop Bullets, Be Friends”

It started out as an admin note to members of the Aman ki Asha Facebook group, by volunteer moderator Samir Gupta on August 30, 2015. The pinned post he put up on the AKA group wall read:

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 3.23.14 PM“Peace or war?
———————–
As our governments and militaries lose their minds and continue to escalate this dangerous game of military conflict, it is the duty of all members of this group to stand together and demand peace in all fora available. We expect members to be responsible for peace and refrain from making provocative posts and comments. We expect you to be bipartisan”

Several group members commented there, expressing their support for the idea. Continue reading

Pakistanis against Terrorism: Global Vigil, March 2015

NOTE: This is the first blog post I’ve done since Feb 21, 2015. That day a beloved, courageous and wise childhood friend lost her fight to cancer. I dedicate this post to Poppy, Shayan Afzal Khan, always so incredibly supportive, bold and outspoken for the liberal, progressive, secular Pakistan she believed in. She was there at the first Global Vigil in London in January. “A defiant figure in bright red lipstick and a yellow bobble hat, she yelled anti-Taliban slogans,” as Moni Mohsin wrote. Miss you and love you forever. We will keep the torch alive and see your dream come true, Inshallah. 

Never Forget PK March 15-16 Since the barbaric massacre of school children and teachers in Peshawar on 16 December, 2014, Pakistanis in the country and abroad have been converging for monthly global protest vigil around the 16th of every month. The third Global Vigil is taking place in several cities on Sunday 15th and on Monday 16th March in the following cities we know of so far:  Continue reading

There is no ‘honour’ 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 ‘honour’ in killing, Sept 2008

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

Projecting Quaid-e-Azam as ‘secular’ is treason?

The #fakenationalists have been targeting progressive Pakistanis for some time, aided by the #DirtyTricksBrigade, but their desperation has intensified of late. Is it a coincidence that a treason case has been filed against those identified in this defamatory poster, along with others? The poster, uploaded on facebook on March 13, 2012 by an APML supporter, features (left to right) Nusrat Javeed, Najam Sethi, Beena Sarwar, Marvi Sirmed, Imtiaz Alam. The text identifies us as “sellouts for religion and country” set on an “anti-Pakistan agenda” along with the South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) (that most of us are not part of). It ends: “Come join the patriotic forces to unveil these traitors of Pakistan who hide behind the veil of journalism”.

UPDATE: May 8, 2014 – The Supreme Court of Pakistan admitted Zaid Hamid’s petition filed two years ago, seeking a treason trial against Asma Jahangir and several journalists for allegedly undermining the Two Nation Theory and glory of Islam. Coming just days after the April 19 attack on Hamid Mir  (one of the ‘treason’ case respondents) and subsequently Geo TV, is this development a coincidence? 

On March 28, 2012, lawyer Ahmed Raza Kasuri  filed a petition for high treason (under Article 6, punishable by death) on behalf of the so-called ‘security and defence analyst’ Zaid Zaman Hamid in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Islamabad, against 17 respondents whom the petition terms ‘snakes’ (including your’s truly). Our alleged crimes include “Trying to project Quaid-e-Azam as secular leader, lowering the image of Allama Iqbal, aggressively attacking the image of armed forces and ISI”.

The respondents include the prominent human rights advocate and former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association Asma Jahangir and journalists Continue reading

Concern for Pakistan democratic process, safety of human rights defenders

Citizens’ statement of concern about the democratic process in Pakistan democratic and safety of human rights defenders, to be released to the media on Jan 5, 2012 (to endorse, please enter your information in the form at this link)

We, the undersigned, express our grave concern that Pakistani human rights defenders are being threatened and intimidated for their stance in the ‘memogate’ case. We are also concerned at the danger this crisis poses to Pakistan’s democratic political process that had taken a step forward with the elections of 2008. Continue reading

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