“We want to attend universities, not funerals” – Young Women of Balochistan

HRCP activist lit candles on Dec 10, Human Rights Day, that they dedicated to Balochistan. But the killings and disappearances continue - as the photos on the wall testify. Photo: Reuters

Below please see a letter from Young Women of Balochistan, forwarded by a friend who received it via email on Dec 10, 2011, Human Rights Day – a day commemorated around the country and dedicated to the people of Balochistan by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (See this report by Rabia Ali). Ironically and tragically, that very day, a young Baloch human rights activist, 35-year old Faisal Mengal, was gunned down in Karachi (details in this report). As Rabia Ali reports, from July 2010 to November 2011, around 300 dead bodies were found — some even of 14-year-olds, according to Tahir Hussain, Vice Chairperson of the HRCP’s Balochistan chapter. Those killed include two HRCP activists, while the number of people missing range from 5,000 to 6,000.  Read on for this brief appeal by the Young Women of Balochistan… Continue reading

Protest against murder of Zarteef Khan Afridi: “He followed his truth till the end! Respect and Salam”

Protest rally, Hyderabad, Dec 9, 12 noon, Old Campus to Press Club.

Sharing the grief of friends who have suffered this great loss. I first heard of Zarteef Khan Afridi in 1995, when he wrote to Asma Jahangir offering to come to Lahore with a tribal lashkar to protect her when she was under threat during the Salamat Masih case. I met him later at an HRCP meeting in Peshawar. He hosted us in Khyber, showed us the little library he had opened for local children. He told us wanted his daughter to marry of her own choice and not wear a burqa, but his wife told him she would leave him if he encouraged such behaviour. “Our dear dear friend, renowned leftist and human rights activist Comrade Zarteef Khan Afridi, from Jamrud, Khyber Agency was killed this morning in Saparee area of Khyber Agency while on his way to school where he has been teaching for more than two decades. He had been receiving threats from local religious militants for his revolutionary ideology, work on peace and rights in FATA. He was a brave revolutionary and refused to bow down to the pressure. He followed his truth till the end! Respect and Salam,” writes Ismat Shahjehan. His struggle shall not be in vain.

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

Pakistan: The ‘blasphemy’ issue | No shortcuts

Cartoon by Sabir Nazir | Viewpointonline.net

Originally published in Viewpoint Online, Nov 3, 2011

No shortcuts

Beena Sarwar

Watching Libyans celebrate the toppling of their dictator two things come to mind. First, Gaddafi’s apparent extra-judicial murder after being captured must be condemned. Secondly, a cautionary reminder: don’t expect the death or removal of a dictator to mark the end of the struggle. It is just the beginning of another struggle, an even messier one — the political process known as democracy. We in Pakistan know this all too well. Dictators die or get toppled but their legacies live on. Their creations like Zaid Hamid may lose, even as the creator Gen Zia wins (see Anas Abbas’ de-construction of this phenomenon at his blog) Continue reading

An extrajudicial murder in a Karachi park

Television reports showing a young man shot in cold blood by the Rangers in Karachi are disturbing to watch (I feel physically sick after watching it). An unidentified cameraman filmed the episode and made the footage available to TV channels – it’s online if anyone has the heart to watch it but better to read this report about the incident by AFP reporter Hasan Mansoor: Five soldiers arrested after Pakistan park killing.

The extra-judicial murder of this young man, Sarfaraz Shah, at the long, coastal Benazir Bhutto Park opposite Boat Basin (a hub of food shops and cafes) in Karachi, is a reminder of the impunity that our security forces enjoy. They claimed he had tried to rob a policeman’s family. Even if he had succeed, they had no business shooting at him. What happened to due process of law? Why aren’t the Rangers and other security people given basic human rights and legal training? Continue reading

HRCP *URGENT APPEAL*: Abduction of Mr. Muzaffar Bhutto, General Secretary of Jeay Sindh Muttaheda Mahaz (JSMM)

Sent: Monday, May 30, 2011
Subject: URGENT APPEAL HRCP: Abduction of Mr. Muzaffar Bhutto, General Secretary of Jeay Sindh Muttaheda Mahaz (JSMM)

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan requests your urgent intervention in the following situation

Description of the situation:

Mr. Muzaffar Bhutto, General Secretary of Jeay Sindh Muttaheda Mahaz (JSMM) has been abducted for the second time by the agencies. Jeay Sindh Mutttaheda Mahaz( JSMM) is a nationalist party of Sindh province, Pakistan.

He was traveling in his car with his wife and younger brother on 25 February 2011, when they reached Saeeabad Tool Plaza, Hyderabad his car was stopped by plainclothes people belonging to intelligence agencies of Pakistan and he was taken away. Continue reading

‘Pro-jihadi, anti-India’ policy #fail

“’Pro-jihadi, anti-India’ policy #fail” – my column Personal Political published in Hardnews, India, and in The News on Sunday. Many in Pakistan have been saying this for a long time, and been attacked and branded as traitors, Indian agents and kafirs for going against ‘the establishment’. Now, for the first time, this argument is in the public domain, being discussed on live television. Recently, Asma Jahangir Chairperson Emeritus of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan, lashed out at the Pakistan army’s self serving policies and demanded that they stay out of politics – in words that one would never have heard on television before. Her view reinforces what I wrote a few days earlier, below (predictably, efforts are afoot to portray her as ‘anti-national, pro-Hindu, pro-India’. These efforts too, will #fail). Continue reading

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