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Archives for : Karachi

Senior Pakistani TV journalist Hamid Mir shot at in Karachi #WTFnews

World | Press Trust of India | Updated: April 19, 2014 19:31 IST

 
Karachi Senior Pakistani TV journalist Hamid Mir, who faced threats from Taliban and other terror groups, was today shot at in Karachi by four unidentified motorcycle-borne gunmen near a bridge on way to his office.

Mir, 47, sustained bullet injuries after he was shot at near Natha Khan bridge soon after he left the Karachi airport for his office, initial reports said.

GeoTV reported that Mir, who has security guards with him, called up office to inform them of the attack on him. He was rushed to a hospital in a private car.

Four gunmen riding two motorcycles opened fire on Mir’s car about six kilometres from the airport, GeoTV said.

Dawn reported that the gunmen opened fire at the vehicle at 5:30 pm and Mir was admitted to hospital in a state of unconsciousness.

Geo News Islamabad bureau chief, Rana Jawad said Mir told him after being attacked that the gunmen were following him and continued to fire at the car.

A popular news anchor, terrorism expert, and security analyst, Mir currently hosts political talk show Capital Talk on Geo TV.

In November 2012, a bomb was recovered from under his car which was believed to have been planted by the Pakistani Taliban.

Just last month, senior analyst Raza Rumi was shot at in Lahore that killed his driver.

The issue of security of media personnel was raised by Committee to Protect Journalists, a media advocacy group, during a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last month.

The Prime Minister had promised to take appropriate steps to ensure security of journalists in Pakistan

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#Pakistan- Fishing community objects to nuclear power project

KARACHI, Nov 28: The Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) has expressed reservations against two newly-inaugurated Karachi Nuclear Power Projects (K-II and K-III) along the coastal area of the city in Keamari Town, saying that the authorities should have reviewed its environmental and social impacts before their launching.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the PFF said that the community residing in the project area should have been taken into confidence to avoid any loss due to such power plants.

It said that the project area was located close to a fault line and the people had been facing frequent warnings and threats of cyclone and tsunami.

In case of any eventuality, it could be disastrous for not only the communities but also the marine ecology, the PFF said.

“The project site has already been declared disaster-prone and there is no justification of environmental safety and community protection,” it said.

Quoting environmental impacts of similar projects launched in the world, the PFF said that the use of this form of energy did not come without a unique set of consequences.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif inaugurated a project of 2,200 megawatts and 1,100 megawatts each at the KANUPP-II to end loadshedding in the country.

It said the power plants usually released heat into the seawater, which might cause significant drop in populations of several marine species, including the fish and might increase poverty among coastal communities, which depended on fish catch for their livelihood.

The statement also linked negative effects on human health of the power project and appealed to environmentalists, civil society and human rights activists to raise their voice against the power project to avoid “disasters in the future in the name of development to end power shortages”.

“The prime minister has dreamt that the Karachi Coastal Power Project would make the country loadshedding free, but environmentalists and the community residing close to the project have their reservations against this mega project.

“The government never initiated the move to take the communities on board about the positive and negative impacts of the project.”

The PFF advised the government to review the project with its fresh impact survey and tell the community and environmentalists about its safety, because the power plants in Japan had played havoc when it was hit by an earthquake and caused colossal damage to humans and national economy.

The statement said that the PFF was leading the move to oppose such projects in the interest of local communities, because fishermen might pay more price of such kind of development.

“The PFF, being member of international networks, is advocating for conservation of water resources, land rights and food security, which opposes power projects, terming them horrible for the biodiversity.

“The hazards associated with the nuclear power include the risk of potentially catastrophic accidents, routine releases of radioactive gases and liquids from nuclear plants. Further the nuclear power generation is expensive, slow and dangerous.

“To avoid these threats, environmentalists should make a commitment to sensible alternatives that produce sustainable cost-effective reductions in the greenhouse effect: wind power, solar energy, energy efficiency gas and energy from organic matter such as sewage and waste.”—PPI

 

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Pakistan- Women in journalism: Harassed at work #Vaw

The field of media is not the easiest for women who often face harassment and discrimination. PHOTO: FILE

The field of media is not the easiest for women who often face harassment and discrimination. PHOTO: FILEThe field of media is not the easiest for women who often face harassment and discrimination.
KARACHI: “My eyes are up here,” she snaps at the reporter as, mid-conversation, his attention drifts away from her face towards her chest. He giggles; she shrugs it off as just another display of myopic male mentality.

Sadly, these incidents are not uncommon; female broadcast and print journalists share that discrimination and harassment shadow work – in the newsroom, or out in the field.

Of sticks and stones

“Some reporters harass their own female colleagues. A male colleague once offered to ‘help’ me with an assignment if I agreed to meet him at night in an internet café,” says *Ayesha, a 31-year-old reporter at a leading Urdu-language  newspaper. “When I refused to meet him, he revoked the offer.”

Quetta-based broadcast journalist *Nadia recalls similar early experiences.

“Back when I started, if I went to meet the police or a government secretary, they would get a bit too friendly,” she recalls. “One official told me to meet him alone in his office at a specific time, and emphasised that I should not bring my cameraman.”

The schools are full, the field is empty

For female field reporters in Pakistan, a major issue for women is that harassment often goes unreported and unpunished.

Despite the unwelcoming environment, females continue to join the field of journalism undeterred. A report of the NGO “UKS” that was published this month, titled Who’s Telling Our Story: A Situation Analysis of Women in Media in Pakistan, reveals that the number of women and men enrolled in mass communication departments at major universities all over Pakistan is more or less the same.

Paradoxically, the UKS data also brings to light that from the total number of employees at major media houses, only 1.8% are female.

Veteran journalist Afia Salam shares that “When we spoke to final year students [when collecting data for the survey] they told us their families won’t permit them to work since mahol acha nahi hai (the atmosphere is not good). Families are afraid to let their daughters work night shifts and use public transport to come home after sunset,” she explains.

Salam adds that apart from a handful of English-language daily publications, the environment and policies at magazines and newspapers is not conducive to women working.

“The perception of women is skewed also because of their portrayal in the media,” she says. “Parents think that the media is all entertainment and showbiz.”

Broadcast journalist Sana, who hails from a conservative Pashtun family, says she encountered similar setbacks. “My relatives would taunt me and ask if I wanted to model on TV. When I told them that I was going to be a reporter, they were happy.”

An ugly assault

Senior TV journalist Quatrina Hosain relates an ugly episode that took place right before the general elections. Hosain tells The Express Tribune that she was assaulted by a group of 30 men at a PTI rally in Wah Cantt, where she had driven to interview party candidate Ghulam Sarwar. Without going into the gory details, Hosain says, “I don’t know if they were told to teach me a lesson, but I do know that the nature of the assault was really horrific. There were multiple people grabbing at various parts of my body. I was scared that if I fell or any of my clothes were torn, no one would have been able to prevent a rape from taking place. I felt like a cornered animal.”

In the aftermath of the incident, Hosain “had flashbacks.” “I was rude to people who were asking to help me with my bag at the airport. I felt vulnerable and my brain was wired into flight mode. In public spaces, I would desperately search for women so I could go and stand near them,” she says.

She says she was mortified when people on social media accused her of concocting the story to “boost ratings” for her show.

Hosain explains that she did not register an FIR because she did not want the episode to become a political issue. “It happened to me because I am a woman. Men ask us ‘why were you there’. Luckily for me, I reached out to friends and family and got therapy. I am not afraid to talk about it.”

*Some names have been changed

Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2013.

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Pakistan releases 45 Indian fishermen as a goodwill gesture #goodnews

Press Trust of India | Posted on May 25, 2013

Islamabad: Pakistan on Saturday released 45 Indian prisoners as a gesture of goodwill though confusion surrounded the move as Indian authorities in Islamabad were not informed about it.

“We have freed 45 Indian prisoners and they will be repatriated via Wagah tomorrow,” Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani told a news briefing at the Foreign Office.

The prisoners, most of them fishermen, were freed from a jail in Karachi and put on a bus to take them to the eastern city of Lahore.

Pakistan releases 45 Indian fishermenThere are currently 482 Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails while 496 Pakistanis are in Indian jails.

However, official sources said Pakistani authorities had not formally informed the Indian High Commission about their release till this afternoon.

The verification of the identity of several of the fishermen had not been completed while others had not completed their jail terms, the sources told PTI. Several formalities have to be completed before the fishermen can be allowed to cross over to India via the Wagah land border crossing tomorrow, the sources said.

Footage on television showed the fishermen coming out of Malir Jail in Karachi and boarding the bus. On May 7, caretaker Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso announced that Pakistan would release 51 Indian fishermen who had completed their jail terms.

The figure was subsequently revised to 49 and later, 45 prisoners were freed. India and Pakistan frequently arrest fishermen for illegally crossing the maritime boundary.

There are currently 482 Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails while 496 Pakistanis are in Indian jails. When Khoso announced the release of the Indian fishermen, he expressed the hope that the Indian government would reciprocate by freeing Pakistani prisoners.

The move to release the prisoners came after Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh died in Lahore on May 2 following a brutal assault within Kot Lakhpat Jail.

Following his death, Pakistani prisoner Sanaullah Ranjay was assaulted in a jail in Jammu and died later in a hospital in Chandigarh.

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Bomb blasts cast shadow over Pakistan’s milestone election

Reuters | May 11, 2013,

Bomb blasts cast shadow over Pakistan's milestone election
A woman voter holds her ballot paper and stamp while moving to a polling booth inside a polling station in Karachi on May 11, 2013.
ISLAMABAD: A string of militant attacks cast a long shadow over Pakistan‘s general election on Saturday, but millions still turned out to vote in a landmark test of the troubled country’s democracy.

The poll, in which some 86 million people are eligible to vote, will bring the first transition between civilian governments in a country ruled by the military for more than half of its turbulent history.

A bomb attack on the office of the Awami National Party (ANP) in the commercial capital, Karachi, killed 11 people and wounded 35. At least two were wounded in a pair of blasts that followed and media reported gunfire in the city.

An explosion destroyed an ANP office in the northwest. There were no immediate reports of casualties. Television channels also reported an explosion in the city of Peshawar.

Pakistan’s Taliban, who are close to al-Qaida, have killed more than 120 people in election-related violence since April. The group, which is fighting to topple the US-backed government, regards the elections as un-Islamic.

The Taliban have focused their anger on secular-leaning parties like the ruling coalition led by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the ANP. Many candidates, fearful of being assassinated, avoided open campaigning before the election.

The people of Pakistan hope the polls will deliver change and ease frustrations with the Taliban, a frail economy, endemic corruption, chronic power cuts and crumbling infrastructure.

Disenchantment with the two mainstream parties appears to have brought a late surge of support for former cricket star Imran Khan, who could end up holding the balance of power.

Khan, 60, is in hospital after injuring himself in a fall at a party rally, which may also win him sympathy votes.

Results from nearly 70,000 polling stations nationwide are expected to start tricking in from around 10pm (1700 GMT).

“The problems facing the new government will be immense, and this may be the last chance that the country’s existing elites have to solve them,” said Anatol Lieven, a professor at King’s College, London, and author of a book on Pakistan.

“If the lives of ordinary Pakistanis are not significantly improved over the next five years, a return to authoritarian solutions remains a possibility,” Lieven wrote in a column in the Financial Times.

The army stayed out of politics during the five years of the last government, but it still sets the nuclear-armed country’s foreign and security policy and will steer the thorny relationship with Washington as NATO troops withdraw from neighbouring Afghanistan next year.

With no clear-cut winner, weeks of haggling to form a coalition will follow, which would raise the risk that the government is undermined by instability.

That would only make it more difficult to reverse the disgust with politicians felt among the country’s 180 million people and drive through the reforms needed to revive its near-failed economy.

Power cuts can last more than 10 hours a day in some places, crippling key industries like textiles, and a new International Monetary Fund bailout may be needed soon.

The party of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif looks set to win the most seats in the one-day vote. But Khan could deprive Sharif of a majority and dash his hopes for a return to power 14 years after he was ousted in a military coup, jailed and later exiled.

Pakistan’s best-known sportsman, who led a playboy lifestyle in his younger days, Khan is seen by many as a refreshing change from the dynastic politicians who long relied on a patronage system to win votes and are often accused of corruption.

Late surge for Imran Khan

Voters will elect 272 members of the National Assembly and to win a simple majority, a party would have to take 137 seats.

However, the election is complicated by the fact that a further 70 seats, most reserved for women and members of non- Muslim minorities, are allocated to parties on the basis of their performance in the contested constituencies. To have a majority of the total of 342, a party would need 172.

Khan appeals mostly to young, urban voters because of his calls for an end to corruption, a new political landscape and a halt to US drone strikes on Pakistani soil. About one-third of the country’s population is under the age of 30.

Early opinion polls had put the share of votes for Khan’s Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) party as low as single figures. However, a survey released on Wednesday showed nearly 25 percent of voters nationally planned to vote for his party, just a whisker behind Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N).

The Herald magazine poll showed Sharif’s party remained the front-runner in Punjab, which, with the largest share of parliamentary seats, usually dictates the outcome of elections.

It also pointed to an upset for the PPP, placing it third. Pakistan’s politics have long been dominated by the PML-N and the PPP, whose most prominent figure is President Asif Ali Zardari, widower of assassinated former premier Benazir Bhutto.

“The PPP didn’t take care of the poor masses and always engages in corrupt practices whenever they come to power,” said Sher Nabi, a banker from Peshawar.

“So we’ve decided to vote for the PTI candidate this time and test Imran Khan to see if he proves as honest as he claims.”

Pakistan, which prides itself on its democratic credentials, ordered the New York Times bureau chief in Islamabad to leave the country on the eve of the polls, the daily said on Friday.

A two-sentence letter was delivered by police officers to the home of the bureau chief, Declan Walsh, it said.

“It is informed that your visa is hereby cancelled in view of your undesirable activities,” the Times quoted the letter as saying, without explaining what was undesirable. “You are therefore advised to leave the country within 72 hours.”

 

 

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Joint Statement on Sixth meeting of the India-Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners to Pakistan

 

May 03, 2013

  1. Members of the India-Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners visited Pakistani Jails in Karachi, Rawalpindi and Lahore from April 26-May 1, 2013. The members of the Committee, Justice (Retd.) Mr A.S Gill and Justice (Retd) Mr. M.A Khan from the Indian side and Justice (Retd) Abdul Qadir Chaudhry, Justice (Retd.) Mr. Nasir Aslam Zahid and Justice (Retd.) Mian Muhammad Ajmal from Pakistan side visited the Jails.
  2. A total number of 535 Indian prisoners including 483 fishermen (including 11 juveniles) and 8 civil prisoners, believed to be Indian nationals at District Jail Malir, Karachi, 8 Prisoners, believed to be Indian nationals at Adiyala Jail, Rawalpindi and 36 Prisoners, believed to be Indian nationals at Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore were presented before the Committee.
  3. The Committee also visited Jinnah Hospital, Lahore and saw Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh, who was admitted in the Intensive Care Unit of the Hospital on April 26, 2013 following an assault on him by few other inmates in the prison and is in a state of coma. The Committee interacted with the doctors about the prognosis of the case. The Committee noted the unfortunate incident of violent attacks on two Indian prisoners at Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore and recommended that Jail authorities to ensure adequate security for all Indian prisoners to avoid any such incident in the future; and would review the arrangements during its next visit to Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore. The Committee also recommended that detailed report of the official inquiry conducted by relevant Pakistani authorities on the assault on Sarabjit Singh on April 26, 2013 be shared with the members of the Committee at the earliest.
  4. The Committee was also informed about escape of one under-trial Indian fisherman from District Jail, Malir, Karachi on February 11, 2013 and detention of the crew of the two Indian wooden vessels along with its cargo, off Pasni, Pakistan on April 18/19 by Pakistan authorities and requested Pakistan side to apprise about these two incidents to Indian side at the earliest.
  5. The Committee noted with satisfaction that as per the Agreement on Consular Access signed on 21st May 2008 between the two countries, the list of prisoners was exchanged on 1st January 2013. The Committee appreciated the release of 684 Indian fishermen and 30 Indian civil prisoners by Pakistani authorities and 96 Pakistani fisherman and 59 Pakistani civil prisoners by Indian authorities since January 2012 till date.
  6. On the conclusion of the visit, the Committee made the following recommendations:

a) The “Consular Access Agreement” of May 2008 signed between two governments be implemented in letter and spirit and consular access must be provided within three months of the arrest and not after completion of the prisoners’ prison term. Complete details of charges on the prisoners and a copy of court’s judgment of the sentence be shared in each case. The prisoners must be repatriated within one month of confirmation of national status and completion of sentences;it was noticed that in District Jail Malir, Karachi, there were 29 Indian prisoners who had completed their sentence more than a month ago; it was recommended that they be released and repatriated before May 17, 2013 and the two Governments should make all efforts that the time schedule is complied with strictly.

b) Consular access must be provided immediately to all those prisoners who have not been given consular access so far and the process of nationality confirmation should start immediately after consular access is provided;it was found that there were 459 fishermen and 10 such civil prisoners in the three jails for whom consular access was not provided. The Committee recommended providing consular access to all such prisoners and fishermen before May 17and the Pakistani side agreed for the same.

c) Consular access be provided to all prisoners/fishermen who are believed to be Indian, in Pakistani jails and vice versa, every year, at least four times, namely in the first week of February, first week of May, first week of August, and first week of November.

d) The Committee noted that several names of prisoners had been dropped from the successive lists of prisoners, believed to be Indian, which were shared by Pakistan side twice every year. It is recommended that Pakistan side provide a formal verification to Indian side and vice versa if any names were left out from the previous list of prisoners, so that each side could follow up on each case and discrepancy in list maintained by each side reduced.

e) A mechanism should be developed for compassionate and humanitarian consideration to be given to women, juvenile, mentally challenged, old aged and all those prisoners suffering from serious illness/permanent physical disability;Indian prisoners (like Pakistani prisoners in Karachi jail) should be allowed to make phone calls to their relatives in India at least once a month. The Indian prisoners appreciated the provision of basic necessities to them by the Prison and further demanded that they should be given some additional facilities. It is recommended that the existing facilities be continued and additional facilities required be provided by the Prison Authorities. Further, High Commission of India is allowed to supplementing any such requests for Indian prisoners.

f) It was also recommended that serious/terminally ill, mentally challenged and deaf and mute prisoners must be kept in appropriate hospitals/special institutions irrespective of confirmation of their national status and offence;it would noticed that 1 prisoner in District Jail, Malir, Karachi, 2 prisoners in Adiyala Jail, Rawalpindi and 20 prisoners in Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore were mentally challenged; additionally, copies of the FIR, medical report and photograph at the time of their detention, to be shared with the High Commission of India, so that renewed efforts could be made to confirm their nationality; moreover, effort should also be made to rule out that these prisoners are not Pakistani nationals.

g) While noting that mortal remains of Mr Chambail Singh, Indian prisoner at Kot Lakhpat Jail, was repatriated to India after a lapse of nearly 2 months after his death on January 15, 2013, the copy of the post mortem report has not yet been shared with Indian side. It was recommended that post mortem report of Mr Chambail Singh be shared with the Indian side without any further delay.

h) Prisoners involved in minor offences like violation of Foreigners’ Act, visa violation and inadvertent border crossing deserve compassion from both the sides.

i) The Committee noted that the respective courts must be requested for expeditious trial of all “under trial” prisoners. Respective High Commissions should create a panel of good repute lawyers/firms to pursue the cases of their prisoners in the local courts to locate, identify and defend such prisoners at all stages of their cases, if the prisoner(s) so wishes.

j) The Committee also endorsed the recommendations of the Home/Interior Secretary level talks held on 28-29 March 2011 at New Delhi to task the Pakistani Maritime Security Agency and Coast Guard of India to work on setting up a mechanism for release of inadvertent crossers (fishermen) and their boats, on the same lines as the inadvertent crossers on land; It was recommended that the fishermen should be repatriated by sea lanes along with their boats;a delegation of boat owners could visit Pakistan within the next 3 months to inspect all the Indian fishing boats detained in Pakistan so that decision could be taken regarding their return to India or sale in Pakistan, in consultation with concerned authorities and the same action be taken for return of Pakistani fishing vessels detained in India.

k) It was suggested that, subject to the confirmation of dates by both the sides through diplomatic channels, the next visit of the Committee to Indian jails will be arranged during the second half of September 2013 for at least 7- 9 days to ensure that the Committee is able to see each case in detail.

l) The Committee will review the action taken report on the earlier recommendations when the Committee meets next in India.

Justice (Retd.)Mr A.S Gill                                                             Justice (Retd.) Abdul Qadir Chaudhry
Justice (Retd.) Mr. M.A Khan                                                        Justice (Retd.) Mr. Nasir Aslam Zahid
                                                                           Justice (Retd.) and Mian Muhammad Ajmal

Lahore
April 30, 201

 

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Living Through Terror, in Rawalpindi and Boston

April 16, 2013

By HAIDER JAVED WARRAICH, NYT

BOSTON

I WAS in the middle of having Chinese food with my wife and friends yesterday afternoon when we heard the dull and deathly reverb. The water in our plastic cups rippled. We looked at one another, and someone made a joke about that famous scene in “Jurassic Park.” We tried to drown the moment in humor. But then a rush of humanity descended upon us in the Prudential Center on Boylston Street, right across from where the second bomb blast had just occurred, near the marathon’s finish line.

People gushed across the hallway like fish in white water rapids. It was a blur of bright clothes and shiny sneakers, everyone dressed up for Patriot’s Day weekend on what was moments ago a beautiful spring day. Instantly, images of the shootings in Aurora, Colo., Newtown, Conn., and Tucson came to mind. I felt my thoughts reduced to singular flashes. My life, all of it, was the first. My wife, sitting across me, was the second. I yelled out to her to run, and we did, not knowing what had happened, only that it had to be something terrible.

We ran out of the food court and onto the terrace overlooking Boylston Street. We could see people fleeing from the finish line even as, in the distance, other weary marathoners kept running unknowingly toward the devastation. What was left of the food court was a land frozen in an innocent time, forks still stuck in half-eaten pieces of steak, belongings littered unattended. I felt fear beyond words.

This was not my first experience with terror, having grown up in Pakistan. But for some reason, I didn’t think back to those experiences. Looking onto to the smoked, chaotic Boylston Street, I forgot about cowering in my childhood bedroom as bombs and gunfire rained over the army headquarters in Rawalpindi, close to our house. My mind did not go back to when I stood on the roof of my dormitory in Karachi as the streets were overrun with burning buses and angry protesters after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. None of the unfortunate experiences of growing up in the midst of thousands of victims of terror, personally knowing some of them, helped me in that moment. Nothing made it any easier.

Perhaps, if I had been thinking more clearly and hadn’t had my wife with me, I might have gone down to try to help the wounded. But at that moment all I could think about was getting us out of there. We lost our friends, then found them again. Our cellphones weren’t working. And then, as we worked our way through the dazed throngs in Back Bay, I realized that not only was I a victim of terror, but I was also a potential suspect.

As a 20-something Pakistani male with dark stubble (an ode more to my hectic schedule as a resident in the intensive-care unit than to any aesthetic or ideology), would I not fit the bill? I know I look like Hollywood’s favorite post-cold-war movie villain. I’ve had plenty of experience getting intimately frisked at airports. Was it advisable to go back to pick up my friend’s camera that he had forgotten in his child’s stroller in the mall? I remember feeling grateful that I wasn’t wearing a backpack, which I imagined might look suspicious. My mind wandered to when I would be working in the intensive care unit the next day, possibly taking care of victims of the blast. What would I tell them when they asked where I was from (a question I am often posed)? Wouldn’t it be easier to just tell people I was from India or Bangladesh?

As I walked down Commonwealth Avenue, I started receiving calls from family back home. They informed me about what was unfolding on television screens across the world. I was acutely conscious of what I spoke over the phone, feeling that someone was breathing over my shoulder, listening to every word I said. Careful to avoid Urdu, speaking exclusively in English, I relayed that I was safe, and all that I had seen. I continued to naïvely cling to the hope that it was a gas explosion, a subway accident, anything other than what it increasingly seemed to be: an act of brutality targeted at the highest density of both people and cameras.

The next step was to hope that the perpetrator was not a lunatic who would become the new face of a billion people. Not a murderer who would further fan the flames of Islamophobia. Not an animal who would obstruct the ability of thousands of students to complete their educations in the United States. Not an extremist who would maim and hurt the very people who were still recovering from the pain of Sept. 11. President Obama and Gov. Deval L. Patrick have shown great restraint in their words and have been careful not to accuse an entire people for what one madman may have done. But others might not be so kind.

Haider Javed Warraich is a resident in internal medicine at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

 

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PAKISTAN: The International Day for Street Children 12th April

 

April 11, 2013, http://www.humanrights.asia/

Amir Murtaza

The International Day for Street Children is celebrated every year on 12th April. The Street Children Day was launched in 2011 by the Consortium for Street Children (CSC) to create a broader awareness about the issue of street children all around the world. The Consortium for Street Children (CSC) is the leading international network dedicated to realizing the rights of street children worldwide. According to the CSC, “This year we are demanding that the United Nations recognizes the Day, so that street children and their champions have a louder voice.”

The phenomenon of street children have been growing rapidly and at present street children are quite visible in big cities of the developing world, such as Karachi, Mumbai, Manila, Sao Paulo, Mexico City and Durban.

A Research Paper, “The Problem of Street Children: Case Study of Sargodha City” jointly written by Sadia Rafi, Mumtaz Ali & Muhammad Amir Aslam stated that, “Street children are not limited to the developing world. Perhaps every industrialized country has its runaways and orphans. In nineteenth century Europe street children were written about in the famous novels Oliver Twist and Les Miserables (Agnelli, 1986, p 45.). In the mid-1800’s articles appeared in newspapers and about “street Arabs” (Williams, 1993, p. 831). In Nobody’s Child, Christina Noble (1994) describes how her life as a street child in mid-twentieth century Ireland led to her work with street children in Vietnam.” 

Due to their fluid nature, it is hard to quantify the number of street children; however, a number of researches and studies mentioned that around 100-140 million street children are present worldwide. It is important to mention that it is widely recognized that around 25 million children and youth are living on the streets of countries, located in Asia. International, national and local organizations, working on the issue of street children, believe that numbers of street children are increasing very rapidly.

The number of street children has grown in recent decades because of growing urbanization, increasing work opportunities in big cities, widespread recessions, unemployment in rural areas, poverty, conflict, civil unrest, family disintegration, large family size, and natural disasters. Violence against children, mistreatment and neglect are also some of the documented factors compelling the young children to leave their homes and seek shelter in big cities.

Either in Karachi or Mumbai or Mexico City, these children face similar problems. They are living and working in terrible conditions with no protection. Lack of adequate food, shelter and other basic needs are the major problems, they face regularly.

The ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has bound the state parties to follow the Convention in letter and spirit.

CRC Article 2: 
1. States Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child’s or his or her parent’s or legal guardian’s race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.

2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that the child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of the status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs of the child’s parents, legal guardians, or family members.

CRC Article 3: 

1. In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration. 

2. States Parties undertake to ensure the child such protection and care as is necessary for his or her well-being, taking into account the rights and duties of his or her parents, legal guardians, or other individuals legally responsible for him or her, and, to this end, shall take all appropriate legislative and administrative measures.

3. States Parties shall ensure that the institutions, services and facilities responsible for the care or protection of children shall conform with the standards established by competent authorities, particularly in the areas of safety, health, in 

All around the world, street children are subjected to physical, sexual and emotional violence by the criminals, police and even ordinary people. “Violence refers to acts of aggression and abuse, which causes or intends to cause criminal injury to a person. Violence essentially falls into two forms, Random violence, which includes unpremeditated or small-scale violence, and coordinated violence, which includes actions carried out by sanctioned or unsanctioned violent groups as in war and terrorism.”

Mostly street children are the victims of random violence. Basharat is only twelve years old and has been living on the streets for last four years. “I usually get my food from a charity hotel, located in a densely populated locality. Once, while taking extra care of my food I was mistakenly collided with a heavily built young man. The young man severely punished me that even the passer-by and hotel’s staff rescued me from his wrath,”Basharat informed and added that he also lost two teeth during the punishment.

Wajid is now fifteen and at the age of ten he adopted the streets as his new home. “My father was very cruel and without any reason, he shouted and slapped on me. I left the house due to his behaviour; however, I am in regular contact with my mother and elder sister,” Wajid told and added that once he was collecting the trash in a local market and some shopkeepers severely beaten him and handed over to police as they doubted that he had stolen something from their shop. Later, police also punished him though Wajid repeatedly told them that he is not a thief.

National governments, UN agencies, international and national organizations and members of civil society around the world have expressed their concern over the violence against street children. It is widely agreed that these children need care and protection. However, it is highly recommended that community-based alternative care is a good option and institutional care should be used as a last resort.

The Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children have also reaffirmed the responsibility of the State to ensure the provision of appropriate alternative care for children deprived of parental care. (UN General Assembly, Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children: resolution adopted by the General Assembly, 24 February 2010, (A/RES/64/142).)

Occasions such as 12th April, the International Day for Street Children gives us an opportunity to review the situation and take more plausible and practical steps to tackle the issues confronted by these children. Like other children, these children too have the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life. Due to their vulnerability, these children should be introduced to an environment that facilitates and fulfils their basic needs. Allocation of resources is essentially required to encourage and establish efficient childcare alternatives to protect vulnerable street children.

Amir Murtaza is a regular contributor on human rights issue for the AHRC, he can be reached at; [email protected]

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Pakistan- Civil society condemns target killing of Parveen Rehman #Vaw

Listen to her interveiw here-
https://soundcloud.com/desmukh/parveen-rehman-interview-2011

 

PRESS RELEASE

calls for urgent action by the state to protect citizens

KARACHI,
March 14, 2013: Leading civil society organizations of Pakistan have expressed
shock and profound grief at the brutal target killing of Director of the Organi
Pilot Project (OPP) Ms. Parveen Rehman by terrorists near her office on
Wednesday evening.

In
a joint statement here on Thursday, the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education
and Research, the South Asia Partnership – Pakistan, Strengthening
Participatory Organisation, Sungi Development Foundation, the Pakistan
Fisherfolk Forum, and Pakistan Peace Coalition, condemned the target killing of
the social activist who dedicated her entire life to the cause of the empowerment
of the marginalized communities in the slum areas of Pakistan, particularly the
Orangi Town which is one of the largest slums of Asia. After the demise of the OPP’s
founder head Dr. Akhtar Hameed Khan in 1999, Ms. Rehman steered the mission of
the organization, expanding one of the worldā€™s largest and pioneer low cost
sanitation and basic services programmes that went on to change the lives of
the downtrodden rural population.

Paying
tribute to Ms. Rehman, the statement observed that she was a relentless social
activist who was highly respected for her innovative work for the slum
communities which went beyond merely facilitating low cost services. She sought
to empower the unattended-by-the state community through education, skills-development
and provision for microfinance facilities. It was this work of hers that was targeted
by the powerful mafias as a threat to their existence. While police have yet to
identify her murderers, her brutal killing in the middle of a crowded road in
Karachi is an indication of the backing of powerful forces behind her murder. It
has been reported in the press that she had been receiving threats from local mafias
for a long time. Her murder is a symbol of stateā€™s failure to protect its citizens.

The
civil society organisations strongly demanded the government to order a
judicial inquiry into the killing of Ms. Rehman to ascertain the killers and
their actual masters. The state must stand up to protect sane voices and
peaceful forces of the country that remain target of the brutality of the
non-state actors and the apathy of the state. Parveen Rehmanā€™s killing is a
serious move to demoralize the forces of peace and development in the country. The
organizations expressed the resolve that they will not bow under pressure, but
the state must take its responsibility to protect its citizens.

The
civil society also expressed solidarity with the OPP team headed by late Parveen
Rehman. They resolved to work together to carry forward her mission to empower
the marginalized stressing that no terrorists and mafias should have the power
to stop peace and development in the society.

Ends

Released by:

Shujauddin Qureshi

Co-Manager Programmes (Advocacy and Networking)

Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER)

Gulshan-e-Maymar, Karachi-75340

Ph: +(92-21) 36351145-7

Fax: +(92-21) 36350345

Cell: +(92)300-3929788

URL: www.piler.org.pk

Shujauddin Qureshi

Co-Manager Programmes (Advocacy and Networking)

Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER)

Gulshan-e-Maymar, Karachi-75340

Ph: +(92-21) 36351145-7

Fax: +(92-21) 36350345

Cell: +(92)300-3929788

URL: www.piler.org.pk

 

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Death by a thousand cuts

Farahnaz Ispahani, The Hindu, March 11,2013

 

After each act of violence against religious minorities, the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi or Sipah-e-Sahaba proudly own up to it without fear of punishment

The recent mob attack on Christians in Lahore, resulting in the burning down of over one hundred Christian homes while the police stood by, is a reminder of how unsafe Pakistan has become for religious minorities. The attacks on Christians follows a rising tide of attacks on Pakistan’s Shia Muslims, sometimes mischaracterised in the media as the product of sectarian conflict. In reality, these increasingly ferocious attacks reflect the ambitious project of Islamists to purify Pakistan, making it a bastion of a narrow version of Islam Sunni. Pakistan literally translates as “the land of the pure”. But, what started in an imperceptible way as early as the 1940s, picking up momentum in the 1990s, is a drive to transform Pakistan into a land of religious purification.

Muslim groups such as the Shias that account for possibly 20-25% of Pakistan’s Muslim population and Non-Muslim minorities such as Christians, Hindus and Sikhs have been target-killed, forcibly converted, kidnapped and had their religious places bombed and vandalised with alarming regularity. At the time of partition in 1947, Pakistan had a healthy 23% of its population comprise non-Muslim citizens. Today, the proportion of non-Muslims has declined to approximately three per cent. The distinctions among Muslim denominations have also become far more accentuated over the years.
Changing times

Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan and his two closest political and personal lieutenants, the Raja of Mahmoodabad and my grandfather Mirza Abol Hassan Ispahani, were all Shia Muslims. All three devoted their political lives and personal finances to the creation of Pakistan. Mr. Jinnah named Sir Zafrulla Khan, member of the embattled Ahmadiyya sect, as Pakistan’s first foreign minister. As originally conceived, Pakistan did not discriminate among various Muslim denominations, and non-Muslim minorities too were assured of equal rights as citizens. But things have changed over the last several decades. Last week, the massacre of the Shia community of Abbas Town in Karachi took place on and around a road named after my Shia grandfather.
Driven out or degraded

Over the years, Pakistan’s constitution has been amended to designate the Ahmadiyya as non-Muslims. A similar drive, influenced by Salafi ideology from Saudi Arabia, has been undertaken by Deobandi groups against the Shias. A terrorist offshoot of the Deobandi movement (‘Takfiris’ — those who declare some Muslims as ‘kafirs’ or unbelievers) has been escalating atrocities against Shias in an effort to drive them out of the country or to force them to accept a lowered status in an Islamised Pakistan. Their targets have included men, women and children.

Pakistan’s Shias belong to different ethnic and linguistic groups and different tribes. They are spread all over the country. The one thing that unifies them in the eyes of their murderers is their religious beliefs. The anti-Shia terrorists roam the land with impunity, appear on primetime talk shows on television and hold political rallies where they declare Shias as unbelievers and Wajib-ul-Qatal (deserving of death). They are very rarely arrested, even after they proudly and publicly announce their deeds — like in the two recent massacres of the Hazara Shias of Quetta. When they are arrested, they have access to mobile phones in prison, receive visitors openly and are often released swiftly on their own recognisance. The few who have been tried have always been acquitted by Pakistan’s judiciary for “lack of evidence”.
State turning a blind eye

What is often painted — deliberately — as a Shia-Sunni conflict is, in fact, quite another creature. The anti-Shia groups are used by Pakistan’s permanent establishment in Afghanistan and other neighbouring countries in pursuit of “strategic depth”. When, inspired by their bigotry, the Jihadis attack Shias within Pakistan, their state sponsors tend to avert their eyes.

A year ago, a bus was stopped on its way to Gilgit-Baltistan. Shias on board were identified by their names and other means, taken off the bus and beheaded and shot dead. Several months later, the same type of massacre was repeated in the same region. The Taliban took credit for both acts of terrorism. Shias in Parachinar and Hangu located in the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) have been fighting the Taliban unaided for years. And, their dead bodies now number thousands.

The recent extensive reporting of the plight of the Hazara Shias by the media is the result of mass protests held across the country in solidarity with the victims. The targeting of Shia doctors and other professionals in Karachi has also been an attempt to make the middle-class Shia flee abroad to leave only the poor and voiceless of their community behind. After each act of violence the Taliban/Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) or Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) proudly own up the operations.

One example is from a news agency reporting from Qudrat News in Quetta: “Banned religious terrorist organization, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, has claimed responsibility for the suicide blast on Kirani Road, Hazara Town. The spokesman, Abu Bakr Sidiq, called the news channels on Saturday evening from an identified location and said that the attack was carried out by our colleague, Umar Farooq.”

“In 2013, this was our second suicide attack in the Shia areas. Like this, we have 20 vehicles full of explosives ready for our suicide bombers. Soon as we get the order [from LEJ leader Malik Ishaq], their target will be Alamdar Road, Mehr Abad, and Hazara Town. God Willing, now we will kill Shias in their home.

“We want to tell the Sunnis, for God sake, strap your bodies with bombs and stand up with LEJ in the fight against the Shias… If Sunnis won’t rise up, then they should refrain from having any relation with the Shias because now either we will live in Balochistan or the Shias… We seek help from Allah in this fight and this fight will end as Balochistan becoming the graveyard of the Shias.”

The international community must not ignore the systematic elimination of Pakistan’s Shias, Christians, Hindus and Ahmadis. The United Nations must nominate a Special Rapporteur on the systematic elimination of Pakistan’s minorities. Pakistan’s military-intelligence establishment as well as the federal and provincial governments must be asked to fulfil their responsibilities in protecting the Shias and other Muslim and non-Muslim minorities in Pakistan.

(The author is a former Member of Pakistani Parliament)

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