For the past few days a specific gut wrenching video has been making its way around the Pakistani web-sphere which shows a Pakistani Army Major conducting an interrogation of two people suspected of harboring Talibans. During the Question and Answer session the Major steps back and orders his crew to ruthlessly beat the person punching, kicking and whipping the suspects, who scream in pain and writhe on the ground. The 10-minute video is at best deliberately being shot (but is seemingly concealed away from the spectators) to record the entire interrogation, that goes to suggest that such treatment is a norm within the Army and should not be treated as a one off random affair. [BBC Link]
Sadly this inhumane treatment dealt out by this officer of the Pakistan Army makes me also want to fight back against these ruthless uniformed personnel. Such actions I consider as blatant human rights violation and the Army must be held accountable for such treatment, and not treat this as a one-off incident
Dawn.com reports that the Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said ‘the army was investigating the alleged abuse’, but declined further comment Friday. Pakistan’s poorly trained and underfunded security forces have long been accused of human rights abuses.
Jameel Jaffer and Amrit Singh may not mean anything to most readers. Jameel Jaffer is a London, Ont. born litigator for the American Civil Liberties Union and Director of the ACLU’s National Security Project. Amrit Singh is Manmohan Singh’s daughter and is a Staff Attorney at the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.
credit Ruby Washingon, NYT and wikipedia
Jameel Jaffer, was “instrumental in filing and fighting an unlikely Freedom of Information Act request that eventually unearthed thousands of pages of secret documents which illustrated damning evidence of U.S. government complicity in violations of international humanitarian law.” link. and link Continue Reading
In a very shocking development a young 32 year old person, father of four kids looses his life during the filming of a reality show sponsored by Unilever and being produced by their advertising agency Mindshare. Saad Khan was a game show contestant and the host/model Amina Sheikh, who also is the model of Clear Shampoo, gave an underwater challenge to Saad and during the execution of the stunt he apparently lost control, struggled and pleading for help could not recover, the inadequate safety personal and the equipment could not react in time and eventually he drowned
Saad Khan, 32 year old young man from Karachi and a father of four kids is sadly the victim, his body was returned to Karachi for burial two days back and the infuriated family has been running from pillar to post but it seems for some awkward reason it fails to catch the media attention and apparently no media house is ready to ‘run the story‘. It is a known fact that the media in Pakistan is usually head over heals on every other lame ass political slander, but surprisingly in Saad’s case this case of gross neglect is not worthy of even a short news item. Might this have anything to do with the influence of Unilever and Mindshare who are giant spenders armed with enormous advertisement budgets. Continue Reading
In an email from Farooq Tariq a spokesperson of the Labor Party of Pakistan has explained how Islamic Religious group fanatics Khatim an-Nabuwwah have threatened their workers of dire circumstances for having sided with the Christian community during the Gojra riots which left approximately 9 people dead due to intensive burns.
Khatim an-Nabuwwah [Wikipedia] or finality of Prophethood, is an Islamic belief that prophethood came to an end after Muhammad. Many Muslims believe that the line of prophets sent by God ended with the advent of Muhammad, who they believe received the final revelation in the form of the Qur’an.
The concept of the finality of prophethood of Muhammad has caused controversy. The Ahmadiyya Community, hold Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to be a prophet subordinate to Muhammad. Ahmed claimed to be the Promised Messiah and Mahdi in 1889 and founded a movement in Qadian, India. His claims resulted in a violent reaction among many Muslims of the India subcontinent. The Salafi and Sunni scholars vehemently opposed him and in subsequent years a movement for the “protection of Khatme Nabuwwat” was founded. This movement, at times violent, is still very active in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other countries where Ahmadiyya adherents are present.
This Islamic fundamentalist group quote extreme about forcibly reinforcing the Blasphemy law in Pakistan, a law created more or less to outlaw the Ahmedi community in Pakistan. These Gojra riots need to be vehemently condemned and strict criminal action must be taken against these aggressors, it ironic that this organization has the audacity to hold a press conference and in turn is threatening other and also the Government to release their ‘muslim’ friends who were arrested by the police during the Gojra riots, its amazing how they have the balls to threaten after they themselves burnt alive 9 innocent people Continue Reading
Guest Blog by Brigadier Samson Simon Sharaf is a retired officer of Pakistan Army and a political economist.
The recent incidents in Gojra are a grim reminder of how existing half laws can be manipulated for personal and political ends. Besides loss of life, property or the reputation of the country, it also reflects an opportunist political system in which strange bedfellows can be espoused for political expediency and where rule of law can be applied selectively. Worse, it exposes false claims of the provincial and federal governments over constant surveillance of banned militant outfits in Punjab.
The entire trail from Jhang to Gojra, Mian Channu and Shantinagar is littered with similar incidents of religiously fanned hatred spearheaded by banned militant outfits. Time and again such incidents take place with impunity and remarkable alacrity. It is to question why the local administration is caught sleeping and why no preventive measures manifest themselves in pre emptive actions.
There is no doubt that the working relationship between the Federal Government and PMLN Government is dysfunctional. It took the Government of Punjab three days to move into a belated action despite warnings given by Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti, the Federal Minister of Minorities Affairs. The provincial government dismissed the factual reporting of the federal minister for over two days and moved reluctantly after all the damage had been done and Faisalabad-Karachi Railway traffic blocked for two days. The Chief Minister has repeatedly postponed his visit to the city citing security reasons. Meanwhile the frustrations continue to grow resulting in resignations of one federal and one provincial minister. Continue Reading
A lot of detail has been published in the newspapers today. Brig. (R) Samson Sharaf of PTI visited Gojra yesterday and has met and interviewed a lot of people.
He informs us that the incident started at a wedding reception where there was some misbehaviour by a drunk person. On my query he said it was a Pakistani but on my insistence he just said that the person did not belong to the Christian community but of the majority religion in Pakistan. This person was, as courteously as possible in such a situation, escorted out.
But he and his friends reacted and created a scene and started making allegations. The easiest way to put non-muslims on the defensive in Pakistan is an accusation of blasphemy. It is like Karo Kari where an allegation is enough for criminals to unleash their venom. Continue Reading
I share with you an email sent by Bishop Ijaz Inayat from the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Karachi where he talks about the killing of seven Christians in Gojram Please circulate widely so that people who matter must not pay only lip service every time but come down with a heavy hand on the culprits and prevent such incidents from happening. Compensations alone though cannot compensate for the fear and terror created in the hearts of our Christian and non-Muslim brothers and sisters.
According to Print, Electronic media and versions from the eyewitnesses there were veiled persons in the mob that attacked “Christian Town”, Gojra yesterday burning alive persons and creation tension both for public and the Government.
The Police, Administration and the people say they could not be handled. The vital question is, who were they and why they needed to hide their faces while they were protesting the desecration of the “Holy Quran”, thought to be noble cause by the Muslims. Continue Reading
Married with 2 kids, Burhan Din is 28 years old and belongs to Amankot in Mingora, Swat. He is pursuing an M. Phil. in Anthropology from Peshawar University. He had been working for a trust called Muslim Aid in Mingora as a hygiene promotion officer for one year before he was forced to leave his home on the 2nd May, 2009. I was given the contact of Burhan, who had tried to go back to his home in Mingora and was keen to share his experience.
Burhan mentioned that the problem of Taliban had begun two years ago and although they were not targeting civilians they were considered a threat by the people of Mingora. Security personnel, government servants and especially the military were their main targets as well as anyone they deemed worthy of punishment such as criminals, drug dealers and political party workers.
The arrival of the army in late April was a severe threat to his life and with the fighting intensifying, he like everyone else in Mingora city, decided to leave. Burhan took his family and reached Takht-Bhai on May 4th and was registered at the Jalala Camp. However, there was no room for people then in the camp. Along with five other families, Burhan, his wife, two children and parents settled at Government Boys Primary Schools Sher Hasan Kilay at Pir Saado in Takht-Bhai. Continue Reading
Recently Mr Ali Anan Qamar, an Assistant Coordination Officer and in-charge of Sheikh Yasin camp was beaten up and publicly humiliated by two officers of Pakistan Army, Maj. Asad Jamal and Lt. Haider marwat of 32nd Cavalry on 8th July 2009. Mr Qamar is a very well educated official of the government and we fear that if such treatment is meted out to high officials of the civil bureaucracy what may be happening to those who are the poor and illiterate in society and who cannot even raise their voices.
A few members of the Peoples Resistance group visited Banares Colony in Karachi, Pakistan and interviewed an IDP refugee Doctor from Swat who shares his thoughts.
I would also like to quote a short section from the email by Abira Ashfaq which had accompanied this video
It seems like one can always accuse people who are opposed to the operation on humanitarian, human rights, and political grounds that we are twisting the words of the interviewees to suit our viewpoint – but never before have I met so many Swatis who were unanimous in the opinion that something has gone/or was always awfully wrong with this military operation – that it has caused immeasurable human suffering – that there are other powerful interests at play -that people have not been allowed safe passage and have had to resort to mountainous and unfriendly terrain and escaped in horrific conditions – almost everyone says that civilians are being targeted and never (purposefully) the Taliban – that they have seen burning bodies of these civilians – and the next day ISPR will report that a taliban commander and several militants were killed. That we are taking ISPR reports in DAWN as authentic is indicative of the lack of media critique and questioning in our state. Understandably there is a lot of outrage in the IDP community against the operation.
“The twins were born as the mother desperately struggled with the pangs of pain, the sound of falling artillery shells, the suffocation of gun powder and the stench of decaying dead bodies. By the time it was morning, the family realized that one of the two babies, had not survived the ordeal of childbirth. The one who had said good bye to life, shared the same bed with the one who was still clinging to it. There was no way that a burial could be held in a curfew. Suddenly there were frantic announcements for a 2 hour curfew break asking the residents to vacate the valley as soon as possible. The family hurriedly packed their humble belongings, picked up the new born and dashed out of their home into one of the many cramped trucks headed towards Mardan. It was some where close to Dargai, that the unfortunate mother realised that she was carrying the dead child, while the living one had been left behind.” This heart breaking story was narrated by a doctor who treated this shattered family at Sahakot. This may just be one glimpse of the untold trauma faced by the millions of fleeing residents of Swat. Little did they know that their suffering and agony would appear diminutive in comparison to what lay ahead in the days to come.
The Rangmaala relief camp located at the very top of Malakand, close to the borders of Swat and Buner, provides the first opportunity that a displaced family can avail as a shelter. The camp set up by the Red Crescent Society of Pakistan houses 4600 persons (702 families) and is by far the most well organized refugee camp. The government has provided various support services, including electricity and cooked food. Each family has received a tent, a mat, a cooler, a fan, a bucket, a kitchen set and a hygiene set. There are common toilets, washing area and a dispensary. From the point of view of the organizers, they have provided all that was needed to make Rangmaala a model camp. There should be no further cause for a complaint. This is the first conceptual mistake made in a relief process, when people become numbers and the relief goods become check-lists. None of the organizers had actually spent even one day in a tent, lined up for food or visited the toilet even once to get a personal experience of what it was like to live in a camp. The temperature inside the tents where the women remain motionlessly seated like toasts in an oven was at least 10 degrees higher than outside. People and buckets queued up three times a day to surrender their dignity in return for a few mugs of the yellow liquid called ‘daal’ and the toilets’ hygiene permitted visits only in situations of unbearable duress. Continue Reading
Talking to the displaced people in various IDP camps, or in the homes of friends/relatives during my recent visit to Takht Bhai and Charsadda they have taken refuge it is obvious that for them the objectives of the army operation remain unclear. At the same time their suffering as IDPs are manifold.
According to a social worker at a camp in Takht Bhai,, the government is providing two maund of wheat, four kilo dal, five kg cooking oil, five kg sugar, one packet salt, 250 gram of tea to each registered IDP; the rations are provided on a monthly basis.
People have to stand in lines to get their quota; they queue up early in the day and spend the day waiting for their turn. There are few distribution points and sometimes they have to go again the next day. Continue Reading
Have been silent about the many developments that have been taking place with regard to the regularization and restoration of the village to the Khaskelis as they were so confident of “winning” this final round — because one of their own representatives whom they trust implicitly (and who has since become a minister without portfolio) had promised it would happen, and we were not supposed to ‘rock the boat’. We have repeatedly warned them not to bank on promises too much because even if their rep was trustworthy, it didn’t automatically follow that others whose agreement and help he needed would be the same, and we would ultimately have to resort to legal means again. As it turned out, he failed; not for lack of trying.
It has been over a month and half since Vali Dad died after a heart attack in front of the press club, and the same day several Sindh ministers including the Chief Minister promised in writing they would get their village back. It hasn’t happened and it won’t because a series of delay tactics and dirty tricks were used all this time — which details I’ll give in my next e-mail as it’s a long story; also because I’m supposed to wait until a final report (explained below) come out. The new minister recently had a thundering row with the CM’s secretary who finally blurted out the same story Varyam Faqir claimed when the issue first came up — that the village never existed and was created unauthroisedly only recently.This after having submitted all the verified inquiries and reports starting from decades ago ! He also stated that the Khaskelis would have to legally prove that they and their descendants were the original inhabitants ! Continue Reading