Asma Jahangir: A meaningful life, an inspiring legacy

I wrote this piece for a web dossier produced by Heinrich Boell Foundation for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights‘ 70th anniversary 2018 – Asma Jahangir – ein bedeutungsvolles Leben, ein inspirierendes Erbe. Sharing now, a year after Asma Jahangir has passed on. This piece doesn’t include her role for peace in the region and in the UN system that I’ve written about earlier and also detailed in a longer essay to be printed in an anthology titled Voices of Freedom from Asia and the Middle East, co-edited by Mark Dennis and Rima Abunasser, TCU, is under publication by SUNY Press. Above: Asma Jahangir at her office; still from my documentary Mukhtiar Mai: The struggle for justice (2006)

By Beena Sarwar

The field on the outskirts of Lahore was full of workers waiting to hear the woman from the city speak. They squatted on their haunches with dull hopeless eyes, the drab greys and browns of their clothes at one with the earth they fashioned into bricks to bake in bhattas — kilns that dot the rural landscape of Punjab and upper Sindh. For their back-breaking labour they were paid in kind, leading to generations of indebtedness as the traditional informal economy transitioned into a cash-based system.

Brick kiln-Shehryar Warraich:News Lens-2015

Brick kiln workers, Pakistan. Photo: Shehryar Warraich/News Lens, 2015

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Pakistanis against terrorism: global protest vigils #ReclaimYourMosque

Pakistanis against terrorism: Shehroz Hussain speaking at the global protest vigil on Jan 16, in Boston

Pakistanis against terrorism: Shehroz Hussain speaking at the global protest vigil on Jan 16, in Boston

Shehroz Hussain was a foreign student from Pakistan, a freshman at college in the USA, when Taliban or their affiliated groups shot dead his father, Dr Riaz Hussain Shah, in front of his clinic in Peshawar in January, 2013. “In August 2012, as I stood at the airport to say goodbye to my family, I did not know I would never see one person again,” said Shehroz, speaking at a protest vigil last Friday in Boston’s historic Copley Square. “That person was the one with the most tears. He cried so much that relatives joked with him. I will never forget that night when I was woken up in the middle of the night on 9th January, 2013, to the sound of my crying brother on the phone: ‘Baba ko Maar Diya‘. They have killed Baba.”  Continue reading

Devise a long-term strategy for dealing with terrorism: Forum for Secular Pakistan

Peshawar-blast-78-Church-killing-suicide_9-22-2013_119340_lRead Omar Ali’s blogpost Three Layers of Confusion.. and their consequences” for a sound analysis of the vicious suicide bombing in Pakistan on Sunday targetting a church in Peshawar, killing at least 81 people, many of them women and children. Among them were six members of one family, including five women and a child.  As Dr Ali points out, “it is not that no action has been taken against them. ..but there is a curious disconnect between these operations and the national narrative being promoted by the same military”.  BELOW: a statement by the Forum for Secular Pakistan urging the government to Devise a long-term strategy for dealing with terrorism

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Planned attack on Christian properties in Lahore; protest demonstrations Sunday

Demonstration in Karachi against the attack on Christians' homes in Lahore. AP Photo/Fareed Khan

Demonstration in Karachi against the attack on Christians’ homes in Lahore. AP Photo/Fareed Khan

Another day, another bout of madness in Pakistan. On Saturday, a mob torched Christian houses in Joseph Colony in the Badami Bagh area of Lahore, after allegations of ‘blasphemy’ against one of its residents. This was clearly no spontaneous ‘riot’ but a well-planned and orchestrated move. Because of the warnings received ahead of time, the residents were evacuated so that there was no loss of life (though the alleged blasphemer’s 65-year old father was beaten up). Small mercies.

Locals say that the land mafia was behind this attack. No surprise. Malafide motives (property, debt, rivalry etc) have been behind all accusations of ‘blasphemy’ investigated so far. Continue reading

Jashne Faiz – CFD Resolution

Karachi, you were wonderful tonight. Photo: Sabeen Mahmud

April 17: Karachi, you were wonderful tonight. Great event, attended by about 30,000 people. See the text of the resolution (long version as well as short version read out in the plenary) at the Citzens for Democracy blog.

Congratulations to the CFD team for making this happen. This is our Pakistan.

The real Pakistan: report on CFD’s inspiring signature campaign

CFD volunteers engaged with the public and got a great response. Photo: Shuja Qureshi

Posted to the Citizens for Democracy blog:

“Without exaggeration, the exercise was a phenomenal success. Not only because a total of 15,000 signatures were collected… but also because it showed that ordinary people… overwhelmingly agreed with the cause…”

The real Pakistan | By Farieha Aziz Continue reading

Statement on assassination of Salmaan Taseer

Copy of a pamphlet including contact details of those threatening Sherry Rehman and anyone else who supports amendments to the 'blasphemy laws', distributed today in Karachi after Friday prayers

Citizens for Democracy, Pakistan:

Position and Press Statement on assassination of Salmaan Taseer

Karachi: Citizens for Democracy (CFD), a nation-wide umbrella group of political parties, trade unions, professional organisations, NGOs and individuals, strongly condemns the cold-blooded and cowardly murder of Salmaan Taseer.

The unarmed Governor of Punjab was shot in the back in the most cowardly manner by one of his own bodyguards on Jan 4, 2011, following a concerted propaganda campaign that falsely accused him of having been disrespectful to the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon on Him). This campaign was conducted in the media and through the mosques. Continue reading

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