“Future of Pakistan” Conference: London Declaration 2016

IMG_0602.JPGLondon Declaration for Pluralism and Democracy in Pakistan
October 29, 2016

Several prominent liberal, progressive and nationalist intellectuals, human rights and social media activists, and public figures from Pakistan gathered in London for a conference on ‘The Future of Pakistan’ organized under the banner of South Asians Against Terrorism and for Human Rights (SAATH), co-hosted by US-based columnist Dr Mohammad Taqi and former Pakistan ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani.

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Zarteef Khan Afridi: The tribesman who showed the way

Zarteef Afridi's latest photo. Courtesy: HRCP

A tribute to the human rights activist Zarteef Khan Afridi who was shot dead recently – my article in The News on Sunday. Latitude News earlier published a shorter, different version titled In Pakistan, an unlikely hero dies for his cause. Also see my earlier article: Pakistan’s ‘enlightenment’ martyrs

The tribesman who showed the way

There was the letter from an anonymous writer saying he was going to hunt down and kill her. And then there was the letter from an Afridi tribesman offering to come down and protect her.

This was in the mid-1990s. The recipient of the letters was the fiery human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir, under threat for having taken on the case of Salamat Masih, the illiterate Christian boy sentenced to death for ‘blasphemy’ for having allegedly written sacrilegious words on the walls of a village mosque. Continue reading

Human rights activist Zarteef Khan Afridi killed

Photo: courtesy Idrees Kamal

Grieved beyond words to hear this news: “Renowned human rights activist and social worker Zarteef Khan Afridi is killed in Saparee area of Khyber Agency this morning while he was on his way to school where he has been teaching for more than two decades. Zarteef Afridi has been a committed human rights worker, member Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and active member of several peace groups working in FATA for last two decades. He has been receiving threats from local militants for his work on peace and rights in FATA. He was a bold and courageous worker and refused to bow down to the pressure of these militants. Till his last breath he was working for his mission and fighting for rights of tribal people. We are anguished on this brutal act and demand immediate action from law enforcing agencies against those involve in this murder. We also extend our words of condolence and to his family and all those friends that were part of his struggle. Our message shall also be conveyed to these extremists’ forces that the society will not deter from its resolve to bring peace and fight against extremism and all those forces harboring such elements in the country. Zarteef and his struggle will always be remembered and cherished.” — Email from Irfan Mufti, South Asia Partnership. For a detailed report on Zarteef Khan Afridi and his work see: In the eye of the storm. Also  see my earlier article: Pakistan’s ‘enlightenment’ martyrs

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