Media figures call for release of Himal Editor Kanak Mani Dixit

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Kanak being arrested at a pro-democracy rally in Nepal, 2006. Photo by Shehab Uddin

Press Statement: media figures call for release of Himal Editor Kanak Mani Dixit

New Delhi, April 23 — Editors and media figures as well as intellectuals and scholars from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, UK, US, Australia and Sri Lanka have called for the release of Himal editor and prominent Nepali journalist Kanak Mani Dixit who was arrested yesterday in Katmandu by anti-graft officials.

The following is the text of the statement:

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India/Pakistan: Sedition and blasphemy – Southasia’s déjà vu

Something I wrote last month about how sedition and blasphemy are the two sides of the same hyper-nationalist coin in India and Pakistan. Updated after the tragic bombing at a park in Lahore on Easter Sunday, published in Himal Southasian on March 30, 2016. 

People vote in the February 2008 elections in Lahore Photo: Wikimedia Commons / boellstiftung - Flickr

People vote in the February 2008 elections in Lahore Photo: Wikimedia Commons / boellstiftung – Flickr

From Pakistan there is mixed news. Recent headlines on the country juxtaposed with news from India prompts the thought that the kind of fascism that Pakistanis have been fighting against is now erupting across India. The encouraging news from Pakistan includes its second award at the Oscars, the execution of convicted killer Mumtaz Qadri (arguments against the death penalty notwithstanding) despite the militant rightwing support for him, and the recovery of the kidnapped son of Qadri’s victim Salmaan Taseer, killed for alleged blasphemy. The bad news includes the horrific suicide attack, allegedly by Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan Jamaatul Ahrar, on Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park in Lahore on 27 March 2016.

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Unsilencing Pakistan and the 5th Global Vigil #NeverForget

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Daily vigil for Sabeen Mahmud in Karachi, 8-9 pm at Do Talwar

Protestors holding daily public protest vigils in Karachi demanding justice for Sabeen Mahmud hold placards calling to #unsilencePakistan and end the culture of impunity. Today’s vigil, marking give months of the Peshawar Army School massacre, also incorporates the carnage at Safoora Chowk in Karachi where armed men in police uniforms killed 45 of the 60 Ismailis on a bus.

“It has been 17 days since I have been present here daily from 8pm to 9pm,” poignantly writes Ibad Sheikh who initiated this event and brings along his drums to pound on. “I come to celebrate Sabeen, to grieve her death, to find comfort in fellow protesters and to tell the world that I have not forgotten her.” (From APS victims to Sabeen Mahmud: Honouring all who have been taken away from us, May 15, 2015)

Protestors at the Fifth Global Vigil this weekend in various cities are demanding an end to impunity and against terrorism in Pakistan.

  • Karachi – 16th May – assemble at Danish Gah, Punjab Chowrangi at 5:30pm and march to Do Talwar.
  • Islamabad – 16th May – 5.30 pm at Press Club
  • Boston – 16th May – 4 pm – Boston Common (near the fountain by the Part St. T)
  • Toronto/Mississauga – 6 pm, 7880 Keele Street, Unit #14, Vaughan, ON L4K 4G7
  • London – 17th May – 3-5 pm in front of Pakistan High Commission

Below, an extract from something I wrote recently about the Unsilencing Balochistan events in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi:  Continue reading

#Rise4Sabeen: Keep the dialogue going

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Below, some of the widespread condemnation and protest vigils against the cowardly murder of human rights activist and upholder of free speech Sabeen Mahmud, shot dead in Karachi on the night of April 24, 2015 after she hosted a conversation on human rights violations in Balochistan. Just published: Tanqeed’s partial transcript of the discussion. No, Sabeen was not a separatist, nor did she condone violence by anyone, whether in the name of nationalism, ethnicity, religion, or honour. She was a firm believer in open, civil dialogue. The best tribute we can pay to her is to keep her legacy alive by continuing to speak up and keep the dialogue going.

Statement by Malala Yousafzai on the killing of Sabeen Mahmud, April 25, 2015

LUMS STATEMENT on Sabeen Mahmud’s murder, April 25, 2015

HRCP shocked at T2F director’s murder, demands justice, April 25, 2015

Target Killing of Sabeen Mahmud: WAF Statement, 25 April 2015

SAHR Statement of Concern on the killing of Sabeen Mahmud, South Asians for Human Rights, April 27, 2015

Karachi citizens press release, April 28, 2015

Report from Lahore rally for Sabeen, April 28, 2015  Continue reading

Pakistan’s proposed cybercrime bill threatens civil liberties on the pretext of security

The Pakistan National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information Technology (IT) on Thursday passed a controversial cybercrime bill that industry leaders and civil society members have been protesting against – see objections in the media release below as well as the warning sounded by Bolo Bhi, a net freedoms organisation. Two earlier news reports summing up the reservations: In Dawn – New cybercrime bill tough on individuals’ rights, soft on crime and in Express Tribune – Legislative bungling: In a bill about cybercrime, MoIT inserts clauses legalising censorship.

BoloBhi Pasha Cybercrime bill update

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Op-ed supporting Pakistan’s ‘NO’ to Saudi war in Yemen taken off newspaper website

This meme that is doing the rounds on social media may be a bit harsh (not sure of original source) but it expresses the feelings of many Pakistanis.

A meme that is doing the rounds on social media (not sure of original source)

Pakistani citizens have for days been agitating against the reported decision to send troops to Yemen as requested (read “demanded”) by Saudi Arabia. It is tremendous news that the Pakistani parliament has taken a stand that supports the mood in the country. But there will be a price to pay. Just got this from an email list I am on, moderated by Shaheryar Azhar who writes: “The value of this op-ed is tremendous. Because it has been removed (from the website).. all its traces have been wiped out even though it had appeared in hard print where I had read it myself (Note: it is still there on the e-paper link). Luckily, I had received a digital copy on my email, which I had saved before the authorities (or whoever) decided to remove its existence. The Prime Minister is set to issue a policy statement on Yemen today in about an hour. If he sticks to his guns and to the unanimous Pakistani parliamentary resolution on Yemen, he will have our continued support. But if he backs off or dilutes our essential position of neutrality, he would be opposed.”

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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

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