The return of Salmaan Taseer’s abducted son gives Pakistan another ray of hope

Very happy to be able to write about some good news – the recovery of Salmaan’s Taseer’s son Shahbaz Taseer, kidnapped nearly five years ago. Wrote this piece on March 8, 2016, for Scroll.in

The return of Salmaan Taseer's abducted son gives Pakistan another ray of hope

The best news coming out of Pakistan this week was about the recovery on Tuesday of Shahbaz Taseer, the abducted son of slain Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer. The businessman, in his early thirties, had been kidnapped in August 2011 as he drove to his office in Lahore. Continue reading

‘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

Is resistance futile? Lahore church attacks and beyond

Lahore church blast protest. Photo: Mani Rana, Reuters

Lahore church blast protest. Photo: Mani Rana, Reuters

My article in Scroll.in a few days ago pegged on the Lahore church attack and the Global Vigils of Pakistanis against terrorism 

Citizens, artistes and courts are mounting new resistance to halt spread of terror in Pakistan

News about the suicide attacks at two churches in Lahore broke on the morning of Sunday, March 15, as Pakistanis were gearing up for a global vigil against terrorism in several cities around the world, to be held that day in the UK and USA, and in Pakistan on March 16.

Continue reading

Jan 4, 2015: Remembering Salmaan Taseer

SalmaanTaseer vigil file pic

Vigil for Salmaan Taseer: File photo

On  Jan 4, 2011, the Governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseer was assassinated by his bodyguard who believed in the propaganda that had been orchestrated against Taseer falsely accusing him of ‘blasphemy’ (See: Salmaan Taseer: The political context of a ‘religious’ assassination, my article for Viewpoint). Vigils commemorating him are planned in several cities around Pakistan. Here is the information I have about some of them:

* Islamabad:  Kohsar Market, 5 pm
* Lahore:        Liberty Roundabout, 5 pm – Facebook event
* Karachi:       Do Talwar, 8 pm – Facebook event

Salmaan Taseer: The political context of a ‘religious’ assassination

Falsely accused of 'blasphemy' when he stood up for another accused, he paid for his stand with his life. AFP photo

Falsely accused of ‘blasphemy’ when he stood up for another accused, he paid for his stand with his life. AFP photo

My recent article for Viewpoint Online, published Jan 7, 2012: Salmaan Taseer: The political context of a ‘religious’ assassination

Enforce rule of law, expose hypocrisy of the Taliban mentality

Just over a year ago, Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer was assassinated in the most cowardly manner by a government-assigned security guard. Mumtaz Qadri, a member of the Punjab Elite Force assigned to protect the Governor, pumped 27 bullets into his victim’s back as he headed to his car on the afternoon of January 4, 2011.

The sensational murder was no spontaneous act by an enraged fanatic. It was a well-thought out, cold-blooded plan. Was the executor acting alone, motivated only by ‘religious fervour’ as projected, or is there more to the issue than meets the eye? And even if his act was purely altruistic, should the law of the land not be applied to punish him? Continue reading

Salmaan Taseer: The man who shook a nation awake

Salmaan Taseer: The man who shook a nation awake. Pakistan is awake again. And we have only one man to thank for this. One man who woke us all up in his life and in his death.  Lovely post by Anthony Permal.

Pakistan’s ‘enlightenment’ martyrs

Investigative journalist Saleem Shehzad

Below is the original, unabridged version of the article published in The News, Jun 9, 2011, with the somewhat misleading heading Pakistan’s secular martyrs (not all those killed for defending the values discussed in the article were ‘secular’).

Pakistan’s ‘enlightenment’ martyrs

Beena Sarwar

The murder of professor Saba Dashtiyari in Quetta last week, coming on the heels the killing of of investigative journalist Saleem Shehzad, is yet another sign of an ongoing ‘genocide’ of progressive Pakistani intellectuals and activists.

‘Waja’: Prof. Saba Dashtiary, Balochistan University


‘Genocide’ generally means the deliberate destruction of an ethnic group or tribe. In this context, it applies to the tribe of Pakistanis who have publicly proclaimed or implicitly practiced the enlightenment agenda of freedom of conscience. They may have very different, even opposing, political views but they are people who are engaged knowingly or unknowingly with spreading ‘enlightenment’ values. Continue reading

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