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

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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?
Continue reading

Musharraf or Zia… A dictator is a dictator

20130408 Mush Tamil UnrealTimes

One-man rule is disastrous in the long term. Image courtesy: Tamil UnrealTimes

My opinion piece published in The News op-ed, and for Hard News, India

Former Pakistan army chief Pervez Musharraf ousted an elected civilian government from power, and usurped power illegally, holding on to it for over ten years, but there are those in India and in Pakistan who feel quite sympathetic towards him.

He had dash and bravado, they say. He nearly resolved the long-pending Kashmir issue with India. He encouraged the classical arts, liberalised the media, oversaw a telecommunications revolution, and partially revived the joint electorate system that the previous military dictator Gen. Ziaul Haq had divided by religion (Ahmadis still are not allowed to vote as Muslims). Musharraf also took the teeth out of the controversial Hudood Ordinances, making it more difficult for false charges of zina (adultery) to be brought against women on various pretexts. Continue reading

Musharraf’s trial and Pakistan

Musharraf and the famous fist. Photo T. Mughal/EPA

Musharraf and the famous fist. Photo T. Mughal/EPA

Below, my (un-populist) take on the Musharraf treason trial, in an opinion piece published in International Business Times, London, Jan 23, 2014. N.B. The recent attack on the bus in Mastung, Balochistan, that killed some 30  Hazara Shia Muslims, including women and children returning from pilgrimage in Iran is an example of the result of Musharraf’s policies of letting the home-grown ‘jihadis’ function. Plus I forgot to mention his role in the murder of Akbar Bugti… Continue reading

Pakistan: What the Tuq is going on?

Cartoon- Sab kuch Live hai by K.B. Abro. Listen to his blog in his voice http://bit.ly/13USxnO

Cartoon- Sab kuch Live hai by K.B. Abro. Listen to his blog in his voice http://bit.ly/13USxnO

Below, my take on what’s going on in Pakistan, written on Friday for the Sunday edition of The Telegraph, Kolkatta –  which published a slightly abridged version titled ‘Anna Hazare, anyone?

By Beena Sarwar

So this smooth-talking ‘moderate’ cleric called Tahir-ul Qadri (TUQ, as he has been dubbed on twitter), a dual Canadian-Pakistani national, announces a ‘million man’ long march to Islamabad, calling for changes to the electoral system just as the government’s five-year tenure is ending. He heads over to Pakistan’s capital on Jan 13 to lay siege to the elected government along with thousands of supporters. Continue reading

The murder of Mir Rustam Marri, champion of IDPs and human rights, Balochistan

Below, please read this recent editorial from Baloch Hal, inaccessible to readers in Pakistan since the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority blocked it in Nov 2010.  We’re reproducing it here in the interest of freedom of expression and democratic rights, and in protest at the PTA’s censorship of a sane, moderate voice from Balochistan.

Editorial: Killing of a Man Who Stood For IDP Rights  Continue reading

‘Making windows into men’s souls’

Benazir Bhutto on arrival in Karachi, Oct 2007. Photo: Beena Sarwar

Slightly revised version of my column in Hardnews January issue, published in The News on Sunday, Jan 3, 2010, written on Dec 25 with a recent postscript.

PERSONAL POLITICAL: Making windows into men’s souls

Beena Sarwar

Writing this on Dec 25, 2009, two words come to mind – ‘morality’ and ‘terrorism’.

Flashback to the first Al Qaeda arrest, Feb, 1995: Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) picks up Ramzi Yousaf, the Kuwaiti-Pakistani behind the 1993 World Trade Center car bomb that killed six people (the target was thousands). His arrest is credited among others to then FIA additional director Rehman Malik (current Minister for the Interior).

June 1997: Then opposition leader Benazir Bhutto mentions Malik in her diary series for Slate, A Week in the Life of Benazir Bhutto, writing in her entry of June 21, 1997 about a prison visit to Wajid Shamsul Hasan (currently Pakistan’s High Commissioner in London): Continue reading

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