‘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

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

Campaign against the genocide of progressive Pakistanis

Prof. Nazima Talib of Balochistan University

Prof Saba Dashtiyara 'Waja' of Balochistan University

Prof. Saba Dashtiary of Balochistan University

Modified from a post just sent to my yahoogroup: We need a campaign against the genocide of progressive Pakistani intellectuals and activists at the hands of those who have been distorting religion for political purposes, criminal and ethnic mafias. One or other of these elements is responsible for the murders of Salmaan Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti, Naeem Sabir (HRCP coordinator in Khuzdar, Balochistan), former senator Habib Jalib of Balochistan National Party (BNP-Mengal),  Saleem Shehzad and Prof. Dashtiyari. Baloch journalists killed include: Rehmatullah Shaeen, Ejaz Raisani, Lala Hameed Hayatan, Ilyas Nazar, Mohammad Khan Sasoil and Siddiq Eido and Abdus Rind. Also the fisherfolk leaders Haji Ghani and Abu Bakar spearheading a movement against the land mafia; Nisar Baloch who was fighting against the land mafia in Karachi; Latifullah Khan, the Communist Party member from Dir, and Nazima Talib, the professor of Balochistan University shot dead a year ago, and so many others. Continue reading

RIP Prof. Saba Dashtiyari… Tujh ko kitnon ka lahu chahi’ay ay arz-e-watan

Prof. Saba Dashtiyari giving an interview. Photo courtesy Homayoon Mobaraki

The situation in Balochistan continues to be volatile. The latest victim of the violence and anarchy in Pakistan’s largest province is the well known Baloch rights activist and professor, Saba Dashtiyari, gunned down in Quetta on June 1, 2011.  Words are not enough to express outrage and grief at this continued genocide of Pakistan’s liberal, secular, progressive citizens.

“As young kids, we had heard charming stories about a Baloch professor who was an atheist but, ironically, taught theology and Islamic studies at the University of Balochistan. Another thing that fascinated us about him was the narrative that he spent most of his salary on the promotion of Balochi language academies and preparation of Balochi text books,’ writes Malik Siraj Akbar in his moving obituary for the slain professor in Baloch Hal.

Video of Prof. Dashtiyari speaking at Karachi Press Club at a seminar last year on missing persons  – at the start a woman ‘journalist’ tries to interrupt him but he rightly insists on having his say and presents a strong argument about the situation in Balochistan, giving a historical and political perspective   Continue reading

The real Pakistan: report on CFD’s inspiring signature campaign

CFD volunteers engaged with the public and got a great response. Photo: Shuja Qureshi

Posted to the Citizens for Democracy blog:

“Without exaggeration, the exercise was a phenomenal success. Not only because a total of 15,000 signatures were collected… but also because it showed that ordinary people… overwhelmingly agreed with the cause…”

The real Pakistan | By Farieha Aziz Continue reading

Reference for Shahbaz Bhatti, Mar 20, 5.00 pm, Karachi


Citizens for Democracy

Reference for Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti
Date: 20th March, 2011
Time: 5:00 PM
Venue: Karachi Press Club

Shahbaz Bhatti was a man who ascribed to the vision of Jinnah, and was a strong believer of pluralism, freedom of religion and rule of law. With a few other citizens and government leaders, he founded the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA), and was unanimously elected to lead this nationwide coalition of minority representatives and NGOs. Continue reading

Mass letter signing campaign TODAY, Sat. March 12, 2011, 11am-7pm

Say No to Violence & to a Denial of our Civil Rights

Join CFD’s mass letter-writing campaign, for which people are gathering to add their signatures on letters addressed to the President of Pakistan, Prime Minister, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the Chief Ministers of all four provinces. “We are demanding from those in positions of power to take appropriate actions to reverse the erosion of our civil and human rights and to uphold the rule of law without fear or favour. Please join us in a mass letter campaign – we are your peaceful fellow citizens, struggling to survive with dignity, and yet trying to preserve our inalienable democratic rights. The purpose of this campaign is to allow all citizens to speak out in support of inter-faith harmony and to resist a growing climate of religious intolerance in Pakistan,” says a press release.

Support Citizens for Democracy, 11 am to 7pm  TODAY (Saturday, March 12, 2011) at Jahangir Kothari Parade (opposite Park Towers), Clifton, Karachi. Bring postage stamps and friends


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