‘An honest Pakistan is a better Pakistan’: the ‘unsilencing’ idea and the ongoing intellecticide

Citizens in Lahore at a #Rally4Sabeen. Photo: Farooq Tariq

Citizens in Lahore at a #Rally4Sabeen. Photo: Farooq Tariq

I wrote this piece last week for EPW – Economic and Political Weekly, India; reproduced below with photos and additional links.

“Unsilencing Pakistan” was an idea first articulated in 2011. It has been revived following the recent murder of Sabeen Mahmud, who had attempted to create a space where Pakistanis could discuss contentious issues–like the human rights violations in Balochistan–without fear. Can Pakistan’s intellectuals and human rights activists survive the “intellecticide” being perpetrated?

By Beena Sarwar

When the prestigious Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) announced that it was organising a seminar titled “Un-Silencing Balochistan” on 9 April 2015, it reminded me of the “Unsilencing Pakistan” initiative of the summer of 2011. Continue reading

Pakistani journalists: standing tall – my article in EPW

Pakistani journalists: standing tall

Journalists in Pakistan walk a tightrope between the military and the militants, risking their lives as never before to get the truth into the public domain. They have always had to tiptoe around directly challenging the concepts upheld by the security establishment. But as a Pakistani writer and filmmaker writes, the media in Pakistan is still standing.

By: Beena Sarwar 

Economic and Political Weekly, India | Vol XLVI No.29 July 16, 2011 | PDF | Text below

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Ilyas Kashmiri, Saleem Shehzad and the media in Pakistan

“It’s amazing how things change here. The moment it was reported that Ilyas Kashmiri was killed the entire media began explaining that he was a mastermind of the Mehran attack. The only person who had reported this at the time of the attach was Saleem Shehzad, and look what they did to him.

“Up to the point of Kashmiri’s killing the media were busy peddling conspiracy theories with no clear view on who was behind the Mehran attack – or deliberately obfuscating, as one would surmise now. And the only person who was taking a clear view had to be silenced. Then, with the killing of Kashmiri in a drone attack, with cooperation from the Pakistani side, everything changes.

“Now a fully worked out CV of Kashmiri becomes available within minutes with every news outlet. A CV that is exactly what Shehzad had compiled and includes feats such as Mehran, GHQ and Mumbai. This rapid clarity following such intense confusion without any visible process of getting from one to the other needs to be explained”

— comment from a friend in Karachi

Hameed Haroon backs HRW claims on Saleem Shahzad abduction, murder

A leading newspaper publisher in Pakistan and the president of  the nationwide newspapers body has reacted sharply  to charges by the Inter Services`Intelligence Agency (ISI) that allegations by Human Rights Watch of the intelligence agency’s involvement in the abduction and murder of  Pakistani journalist Salim Shahzad were “baseless”. Following is the full text of his statement, released to the media on June 1, 2010.
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‘Learn your lesson, identify the safe areas and play there…’

Saleem Shehzad - facebook page photo

Just posted to my beena-issues yahoogroup:

Uploaded to my blog: HRCP URGENT APPEAL for Muzaffar Bhutto, Gen. Secy Jeay Sindh Muttaheda Mahaz.

Another disappearance on Sunday didn’t end well. I felt sick hearing the news that Saleem Shehzad, the Asia Times correspondent who had gone ‘missing’ from Islamabad, was found dead, with torture marks on his body. As I write this, his body, exhumed from a hurriedly dug grave at the behest of a judge, was being sent for a second autopsy to establish the cause of death. Continue reading

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