With a queered pitch and biased umpires, Pakistan’s struggle for democracy is far from over

Haroon Bilour -s:o Bashir Bilour ANP

ANP’s Haroon Bilour, whose father was killed in the 2013 election campaign, was among those killed at an election rally in Peshawar on 10 July, 2018.

My comment contextualizing the politics of the upcoming Pakistan polls for India Today’s digital edition Daily O, shortly after a deadly suicide bombing at an election rally in Peshawar. The next day, there were two attacks at election rallies, one in Bannu which fortunately took no lives, and a bomb blast Mastung in which the death toll has risen to over 200.

Politics of the upcoming Pakistan polls

With a queered pitch and biased umpires, Pakistan’s struggle for democracy is far from over

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Owning Mashal Khan: Pakistan’s road to redemption

MashalLike many, I feel shattered and heartbroken by the brutal murder of the university student Mashal Khan. In this op-ed published in The News, April 19, 2017, I try to contextualise the tragedy, share my observations about changes underway and suggest a way forward. Copied below with additional links and visuals. Please also sign and share this online petition: Pakistan Against Extremism: Minimum Common Agenda. Continue reading

Haider, jigar, are you at peace now?

Haider in Gilgit-fb pageMy article on a journalist, activist, humanist, friend, eternal optimist and conflicted human being who left us forever recently. Illustrations by Feica. Scroll.in published a slightly abbreviated version titled ‘Journalist, optimistic rebel who stood up to General Zia’s excesses’, breaking the text up with sub-heads that I’ve used in the full text below. Their intro: “Haider Rizvi was a Pakistani journalist and activist who passed away in Lahore on October 29. His three-decade-long journalistic career began in Pakistan. He moved to the US in the mid-1990s and covered the United Nations, before returning to Pakistan in 2013 and taking up a job as a lecturer. He was 52.”
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India and Pakistan must unite to fight terror…  

A student in Chennai prays for those killed in Peshawar. Schools across India held a two-minute silence on Wednesday. Photo: R. Senthil Kumar/ PTI

A student in Chennai prays for those killed in Peshawar. Schools across India held a two-minute silence on Wednesday. Photo: R. Senthil Kumar/ PTI

My op-ed in The Indian Express today, Dec 18, 2014…

Together we can 

By Beena Sarwar

In an unprecedented move, students at schools across India observed a two-minute silence on December 17, 2014 in solidarity with the victims and survivors of the barbaric attack on an army-run school in Peshawar.  

Immensely moved, Pakistanis have responded with gratitude for this humane gesture that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had appealed for. There is also gratitude for the hashtag #IndiaWithPakistan that began trending on the social media a few hours after the attack on the school began on December 16.

A Pakistani friend remarks on the “irony that our so-called arch enemy’s sympathy and voice seems more comforting in this time of need then our pious apologists”. Continue reading

“The Occupation kills us all”: Israelis in Tel Aviv protest Netanyahu’s attack on Gaza

Banner: “The Occupation Kills us All”. Israelis protesting in Tel Aviv against Netanyahu’s assault on Gaza (Thanks Farrukh Abbas for the share). Photo: Haim Schwarczenberg, Israeli photographer living in Jaffa, taking part in the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli occupation and oppression https://www.facebook.com/schwarczenberg

I’m sharing below a slightly edited Facebook comment by Syed Farrukh Abbas, a blogger and a student of media studies, based in Pakistan, that he posted with the photo above. Farrukh is also one of the administrators of the Laal Facebook page, which is where I know him from. To his words below, I just want to add: Respect and salute to, and solidarity with, all those in Israel who stand up and protest Israeli atrocities – including all those I know personally who’ve been doing this consistently for years, termed ‘traitor’ and ‘agent’ by the Israeli right-wing (sound familiar, anyone?). Here’s Farrukh’s note: Continue reading

Pakistan’s media wars – my article for Himal Southasian

Himal-Growing media, shrinking spaces?Himal Southasian, a publication I’m proud to have been associated with since its inception in 1996, has a new issue on the media. My piece Pakistan’s media wars (below) and Mass media and the Modi ‘wave’ by Paranjoy Guha Thakurta are web exclusives. Two additional points to my article:  1. Corporate media owners in Pakistan have always been part of reactionary and anti-democratic forces in general. Their disputes with censoring governments have almost always had commercial motivations. 2. Journalists have played a positive role whenever they remained united in their professionalism. They compromise this unity when they allow journalistic standards to slip and try to become power brokers themselves.

By Beena Sarwar

4 July 2014

What is the political fallout of the battle between a media behemoth and Pakistan’s largest security agency?
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‘My years with WAF’ – Zohra Yusuf on the Pakistani women’s movement

Below, an article by Zohra Yusuf, my first editor, with whom I worked at The Star Weekend in 1981-82, outlining the birth of the women’s movement in Pakistan

Lahore, Feb 12, 1983: Police brutality on the women's demonstration against the 'Law of Evidence' catapulted the nascent women's movement into the limelight. Photo: Rahat Ali Dar

Lahore, Feb 12, 1983: Police brutality on the women’s demonstration against the ‘Law of Evidence’ catapulted the nascent women’s movement into the limelight. Photo: Rahat Ali Dar

“My years with WAF” 

By Zohra Yusuf | Article written for a souvenir on WAF’s 25th anniversary, Oct 2006

Certain memories are etched on the mind. The birth of Women’s Action Forum is, for me, surely among them. It was on an afternoon in September 1981 that Aban Marker (Shirkatgah) called. She told me about the distressed call she had just received from Najma Sadeque (another SG founding member) regarding the case of Fehmida-Allah Bux. Pakistan’s first sentence of death by stoning and public whipping handed down to a couple under the Zina Ordinance of 1979. We had all read about the sentence and in our individual capacities felt deeply disturbed. After a bit of discussion, we decided to call a meeting of all women’s organizations at Aban’s place. The rest, as they say, is history. Continue reading

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