Pakistan: Protest curbs on academic freedom, freedom of expression and public debate

Censored- unsilencing balochistanSTATEMENT OF CONCERNED FACULTY MEMBERS AND STUDENTS OF LUMS REGARDING THE DECISION TO CANCEL THE TALK ON BALOCHISTAN IN KARACHI UNIVERSITY SCHEDULED TO BE HELD WEDNESDAY 6 MAY, 2015:

We, concerned students, alumni and faculty members of LUMS, deeply deplore the decision by the Karachi University administration to cancel the talk on Balochistan titled “Baloch Missing Persons and The Role of State and Society”, planned tomorrow Wednesday 6 May 2015 at Karachi University. This decision comes on the heels of the cancellation of the LUMS roundtable on “Un-Silencing Balochistan”, scheduled to be held on 9 April, and the tragic killing of Ms. Sabeen Mahmud, director of the café T2F in Karachi, right after a debate on the very same issue on 24 April on the premises of T2F. Continue reading

#Rise4Sabeen: Keep the dialogue going

Protest4Sabeen-28April2015

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

“In a democracy the people are supreme, and can criticize all government agencies, which are only servants of the people”

Hamid Mir: Fighting on. AFP photo: Aamir Qureshi

Hamid Mir: Fighting on. AFP photo: Aamir Qureshi

Retired judge of the Supreme Court of India, Justice Markandey Katju, Chairman Press Council of India, emailed the following statement about the attack on Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir:

May 23, 2014: I strongly condemn the attack in Karachi on Hamid Mir, the well known Pakistani journalist, who sustained six bullet injuries in the attack. This is a direct attack on media freedom, whether it was by the Taliban or ISI or anyone else.

Though I have differed with some of the views of Mr. Hamid Mir, I believe, like Voltaire, that he has the democratic right to express his views. Continue reading

Music: Touching the soul, defying the Taliban

Asfand Yaar Mohmand performing - photo: Shiraz Hasan

Asfand and his Rubab! This lovely, moving post by Shiraz Hasan reminded me of another moving documentary film I saw over a decade ago, Amir: An Afghan Refugee Musician’s Life in Peshawar by Dr. John Baily (1985). It is tragic how musicians have been pushed around, forced to flee the fighting during the Afghan war of the 1980s and now, persecuted and punished for their art by the ‘taliban’.

Asfand Yaar Mohmand, as Shiraz Hasan writes, comes from a family of labourers. They initially opposed his decision to become a musician but realising he would “not step back” have came around. “I love playing the Rubab, this is such a beautiful instrument. Its strings touch your soul, literally,” says the 19-year old Afsand.

The only international organisation in the world advocating freedom of expression for musicians and composers is Freemuse, which I came across some months ago when Salman Ahmad of Junoon introduced me to its founder Ole Reitov. In an subsequent email Ole wrote that his own “deep interest and dedication to this issue started in Lahore in 1980 when – invited by Raza Kazim – I recorded Iqbal Bano (in Kazim’s studio) and talked to her about the reasons why she stopped performing in public”.

Editorial: The Baloch Noam Chomsky Is Dead

Reproduced from the Baloch Hal website, which the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA ) has blocked in Pakistan

There is renewed anger across Balochistan over the dreadful assassination of one of the most popular icons of Balochi literature and civil society, Dr. Saba Dashtiyari. A professor of Islamic studies at the University of Balochistan, the fifty-eight-year old university educator was gunned down when he was taking a walk in Quetta on Wednesday night.

The fresh flow of disillusionment does not solely emanate from political circles. Over two decades, no student passed out of the province’s highest center for learning without noticing Professor Dashtiyari’s ubiquitous presence and acknowledging his commitment to liberalism. He did not have any children but he has left behind tens of thousands of UoB alumni, current students, faculty members and poets and writers across the province to mourn his killing. Continue reading

Obituary: The Martyred Professor

Prof. Saba Dashtiyari giving an interview. Photo courtesy Homayoon Mobaraki

From the Baloch Hal. Reproducing here as PTA has blocked the website in Pakistan

Obituary: The Martyred Professor

By Malik Siraj Akbar

I do no know any young Baloch of my generation who was not keen to meet Professor Saba Dashtiyari during his early school days. As a school student in Panjgur, my hometown, I first heard about Saba, who was brutally shot dead on Wednesday night in Quetta where he was among the very few remaining brave men who would still take a walk on Sariab Road in spite of serious law and order problems confronting the provincial capital.
As young kids, we had heard charming stories about a Baloch professor who was an atheist but, ironically, taught theology and Islamic studies at the University of Balochistan. Another thing that fascinated us about him was the narrative that he spent most of his salary on the promotion of Balochi language academies and preparation of Balochi text books. Continue reading

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