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

Some facts about Husain Haqqani and ‘memogate’

Husain Haqqani: Pawn in a larger game?

There are numerous issues besides ‘Memogate’ that directly affect the people, like the shortage of gas, electricity, clean drinking water, housing, healthcare, employment and so on. But the issue gains significance because so far, no democratically elected civilian government in Pakistan has ever been allowed to complete its tenure and hand over power to the next one through democratic elections (as I outlined in this paper). There were hopes that this government would be the first to do so – a critical step towards the continuation of a democratic political that is necessary to move the country away from the military-dominated politics of the past – something, as it is now all too apparent, is not a thing of the past after all. In this context, it’s important to understand the current situation and its dangers. Myra MacDonald sums it up in an analysis for Reuters. Some insights were posted to this blog earlier (here and here). Additional facts are laid out in a document received today (reproduced below) that outlines some facts about Husain Haqqani and ‘memogate’. Also read this important article, ‘Treason? Under what Constitution? in the New Pakistan blog, which dissects the ‘memo’ contents and notes that each item in the document falls under the constitutional purview of the federal government…

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‘Memogate’ commission should examine existing evidence, not create new evidence

The equation as it should be: Army following policies set by the civilian elected government, not the other way round. (Reuters file photo)

What is ‘Memogate’? The ‘memo’ in question is a letter allegedly written at the behest of Pakistan’s President by the Ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani, asking USA to prevent a possible military coup in Pakistan after US Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 2, 2011. Haqqani denied the allegations, sent in a letter offering to resign in order to facilitate an impartial inquiry, and returned to Pakistan to clear his name. Instead, he found his resignation letter accepted. The Supreme Court barred his exit from Pakistan. He has been forced for his own safety to confine himself first to the Presidency and then to the Prime Minister House. On Dec 30, 2011, The Supreme Court in response to a petition against the ‘memo’ formed a three-member judicial commission to look into the matter that the media has dubbed as ‘memogate’.

Asma Jahangir, counsel for Husain Haqqani and former Supreme Court Bar Association President, has refused to appear before the commission saying that she does not trust the judiciary. She has said that instead of forming a commission to create or produce new evidence the Supreme Court should have looked into the evidence placed before it to decide whether there was a prima facie case and whether the court could proceed to enforce any fundamental rights by making a binding order. Continue reading

‘Memogate’: The basic issue is the civil-military relationship

Asma Jahangir: Speak out for democracy

Husain Haqqani: scape-goated and threatened

Former Pakistan ambassador Husain Haqqani’s counsel Asma Jahangir sounds a sombre warning about the danger Haqqani is in from the military and intelligence agencies that are capable of picking him up and ‘twisting his limbs’ to make him say what they want to hear. Talking to Dawn TV’s Matiullah Jan in a detailed interview of Jan 1, 2012 she says that she took up the case because she found it a travesty that an individual was being condemned on the basis of a media trial without due process or representation. However, she will not represent him before the Judicial Commission that has been formed as she does not trust the process. The interview, posted in six parts (about 5-6 min each), is worth listening to in full as she makes some crucial points about the significance of this judgement to Pakistan’s politics. She sums some of these points up in this earlier brief interview with Al Jazeera English:

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