Mumbai journalists visit Pakistan: a sign of hope; a warm welcome but no cellphone roaming

Mumbai for Peace: "SAY NO TO TERROR AND WAR! SAY NO TO VIOLENCE!"

Below, my comment in The News about the forthcoming visit of Indian journalists to Pakistan (The News also carried this report on their visit based on their press statement). As I wrote earlier, just one of these journalists has ever visited Pakistan before. A CORRECTION to my comment below: the Mumbaikars who formed the human chain on Dec 12, 2008 numbered not in the ‘hundreds’  but thousands. “Nearly 60,000 people including several celebrities… formed a 50 km long ‘human chain for peace’,” according to this report in The Indian Express (I found it after filing my story). One of the people behind this event, organised by ‘Mumbai for Peace’, was the journalist Jatin Desai, spokesman for the current delegation to Pakistan.

Situationer: Mumbai journalists’ visit: yet another sign of hope

 By Beena Sarwar

 The journalists from Mumbai landing in Karachi on Monday will arrive to a warm welcome – and no cell phone roaming. India and Pakistan both deny this facility that millions today take for granted, to each other, as foreign correspondents, businesspeople and others who travel in the region know all too well. Continue reading

Indian Peace Delegation meets Pakistan Prime Minister, policy makers and people in successful visit

PRESS STATEMENT

Indian Peace Delegation meets Pakistan Prime Minister, policy makers and people in successful visit

An Indian Peace Delegation visited Pakistan from March 17-25, 2011. During their stay they visited Karachi, Hyderabad, Islamabad and Lahore. They met Pakistan Prime Minister Mr. Yusuf Reza Gilani, Sindh Chief Minister Mr. Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Senators of various political parties, civil society activists, journalists, members of business community, and students amongst others. Continue reading

Murders most foul

Salute to Naeem Sabir and Shahbaz Bhatti: dedicated human rights workers, paid with their lives for speaking out for the truth and for justice.

Yesterday we heard the tragic news about the cold-blooded murder of human rights activist Naeem Sabir, HRCP coordinator in Khuzdar, Balochistan. We had yet to recover from that blow when assassins gunned down Federal Minister for Minority Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti, who was the only Christian member of the cabinet.

There is outrage and anger at these cowardly acts that have deprived Pakistan of two dedicated human rights activists just when we needed them most. It is heartening that citizens in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad assembled at very short notice to protest, however small in numbers they may have been.

Here’s my response to an email quoting the famous saying “They came for the Socialists and I didn’t speak…”:

People are speaking out. Protests were held today, convened by Citizens for Democracy, in front of Karachi Press Club 5.30 pm, Lahore Press Club 3.00 pm and then on Mall Road, Islamabad opposite Mr Books at 6.30 pm. Another protest in Islamabad is scheduled on March 3 at 5.00 pm at the same venue.

Also tomorrow Mar 3rd, 2011, 11 am – protest at Miran Muhammad Shah Road near Hyderabad Press Club, via Movement for Peace and Tolerance (MPT) and Pakistan Peace Coalition (PPC)

But it’s not enough. Also, our fight is not on the streets in competition with the mullahs who can bring thousands of brain washed youth from their captive audience madrassahs and ‘religious parties’. We have to fight through Parliament, rule of law, ideas and public positions eg statements at CFD blog – http://citizensfordemocracy.wordpress.com – pamphlets in local languages etc.

Unfortunately, our ideas don’t get much space in the mainstream television channels, that are in general more interested in talk shows that fan conflict (get more ratings) rather than in propagating responsible ideas that make people think…

I also want to share this note from Kamran Shafi: “You and I and other friends can protest until we are blue in the face, it will make no difference as long as the Deep State goes on supporting these extremist obscurantists. It is time we picketed the Establishment itself if we are to save this country from its nosedive into the shadows of hate and intolerance. We need slogans like: ‘Murderers cannot be this country’s “STRATEGIC ASSETS”‘! WE ARE!'”

Please also see posts at Citizens for Democracy, Gawaahi.com and this excellent post by Kalsoom Lakhani at  Changing Up Pakistan, (CHUP), which includes a video of Shahbaz Bhatti.

IRC’s Khairpur and Hyderabad camps: Eid report by Sadiqa Salahuddin

Eid distribution at IRC camp - Sadiqa Salahuddin (in cap)

Sadiqa Salahuddin, a dear family friend, has been working in the Khairpur area for over a decade, providing education to children there (mostly girls) through her Indus Resource Centre (IRC). Since the floods hit, they have turned their energies towards relief work.

Here’s an update from her, received this morning, about Eid, the festival that marks the end of the month of fasting, in the IRC camps:

September 14, 2010
Dear Friends,

Eid in a Tent City was a unique experience of my life. I do not remember seeing so many happy faces around on Eid as I saw this year. This might seem contrary to what we are hearing and watching on television about the deprivation and gloom among internally displaced persons (IDPs) on Eid. I have no doubt about media portraying realities but what I am saying is real too. A young journalist has captured Eid in our Tent City in Tribune. Please see this report Learning to say ‘I love you’ Continue reading

Flood relief efforts in Sindh & contact details

Flood displaced people in Nowshera, KPK. Photo: Reuters/ Adrees Latif

Information compiled from email received this morning from Maqsood Ali Joyo (grandson of Muhammad Ibrahim Joyo), Petarian 2k007 Jinnah House, Junior Engineer ACE (Pvt) Ltd. Tel. +92 333 2760276:

Floods have forced thousands of people to migrate from Ghotki, Sukkur, Larkana, Shikarpur and Jacobabad. In the latest development 90% of Jacobabad has been evacuated. Special trains have been mobilised for the refugees, heading towards Hyderabad and Karachi. There may be some other camps but so far our civil society teams, political parties and media friends have identified four camps in Karachi: Continue reading

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