Tag Archives: Citizens

ASIA: Wide-ranging restrictions on freedoms of expression must be addressed

This statement by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), shows that we are not the only one keen to curb freedom of expression (Raza Rumi)

The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) wishes to highlight a number of restrictions to the freedom of expression ongoing in several countries in the Asian region. There are a number of situations in the region that are cause for concern with regard to this important right, affecting a range of countries with different levels of development, democracy and records concerning human rights.

At one extreme, in Myanmar, the absence of opportunities for free speech is nullifying the prospect for any notion of free and fair elections. The media have been prohibited from analysing the new laws and rules for the planned elections, or from saying anything about parties already registering for the ballot. The ALRC has submitted a separate written submission concerning the issue of the elections in Myanmar to this session of the Human Rights Council (HRC). Continue reading

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Filed under Activism, Pakistan

Introducing Amankaar Tehrik (peace movement) in Pakistan

Courtesy Fouzia Saeed

DISSPELLING THE MYTHS ABOUT TALIBAN

Myth: The root cause of Terrorism is extreme poverty and lack of education
Reality: This is not true. There are many countries in the world that suffer from extreme poverty but do not have terrorist groups.  Within Pakistan many areas are more poor than Swat, but have not become violent. On the other hand people who have become terrorists are not doing anything to eradicate poverty or provide education. Terrorists merely use the resentment of the marginalized and those resentful of other state actions in the initial phase of their ideological campaign. Once in control, they tax the poor, destroy school buildings and stop girls from going to schools. Most of those who have been killed due to militant attacks are women, peasants and the poor. Continue reading

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Filed under Activism, Citizens, movements, Pakistan, Taliban, Terrorism

Citizens, Sepa and Sewage

by Naeem Sadiq

KARACHI’s sewage disposal problem is a reality which cuts across sectors, affecting the whole city’s health, environmental quality and development.”  ~ Arif Hasan

Imagine for a moment that each time you pull the lever of your toilet flush, the contents flow down and spread around the periphery of your house.
In a few months, you are likely to end up with a large, nauseating sewage pond that is home to germs and deadly disease. How many of us are aware that we are, perhaps inadvertently, guilty of such misconduct? Each time we use the flush, and the untreated sewage waste makes its way to the, we become party to the crime of creating a sprawling gutter around our city.

Karachi dumps over 370 million gallons of raw untreated sewage daily into the sea, turning its coasts into cesspools of rancid water and latent pandemics. Laden with E.coli and harmful chemicals, the toxic waste is destroying coastal and marine habitats. It also causes skin ailments, gastroenteritis and urinary tract infections to the general public especially those living near the seaside, besides posing a serious threat to the livelihood of fisherfolk and to tourism. Continue reading

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Filed under Pakistan

Islamabad: this too shall pass

Raza Rumi
bemoans Islamabad’s fall from grace


Many of the new roads in Islamabad have nothing to offer to those who do not own cars

The view outside the Diplomatic Enclave

Contitution Avenue, Islamabad

The Serena Hotel, an architectural gem, is no longer accessible to
the public

Today, sleepy Islamabad, with its clear skies and majestic hills, has turned into a classic capital under siege. It is not just under siege from Islamists; internal forces are also set to eat it up in pursuance of a suicidal streak that runs along the faultlines of Margalla-land

Chiding me for returning to Pakistan when its end is nigh, this corporate type endlessly complained about what a s**t hole Pakistan had become. Predictions of decay and disintegration flowed out as his clean, nimble fingers played with a BlackBerry

Not long ago, Delhi and Lahore were vulnerable to hordes of foreign invaders. The Mongol fear was overwhelming and indeed Delhi, the capital of the Caliphate for nearly eight centuries, was time and again ravaged by Central Asian fortune hunters. The builders and beneficiaries of idyllic Islamabad may have forgotten the shrill lesson of history: once the central throne was weak and maladministration at its peak, invasions and insurgencies were almost a natural consequence.

Today, sleepy Islamabad with its clear skies and majestic hills has turned into a classic capital under siege. It is not just under siege from the Islamists; the internal forces are also set to eat it up in pursuance of a suicidal streak that runs along the fault-lines of the Margalla-land.

After a long time away, a day in the capital was a trip into a fear-zone. Although it was admittedly for work reasons, the experience was nevertheless insightful and a little melancholic, especially when one has lived in Isloo during peaceful times. It is not pleasant to see a loveable city turn into a ghetto of barricades, echoing of trepidation; and incessantly wobble on the slippery foundations of civilian power-sharing arrangements. Since the suicide bombing at the Chief Justice’s reception last summer, the slide of the city’s law and order into chaos has been remarkably swift and unrelenting. The Lal Masjid saga, its location, proximity to the invisible force of the power market and bungled operations were clearly reflective of the seething unrest within the polity.

My parents were locked inside the house and recounted those few days with curfews, blackouts, nightly explosions and panic in the air. This had never happened before and a new history akin to the mainland was being scripted for the capital. The rest is history as they say – from the targeting of foreign missions, restaurants, hotels and not to mention the excesses against the sitting Chief Justice and later the lawyers and the media personnel.

This has surely made the proverbially oxymoronic Constitution Avenue a no-go area. On the crisp Thursday morning when I arrived in the city to attend a meeting in the besieged diplomatic enclave, the multiplicity of barricades was astounding. The Serena Hotel, an architectural gem, is no longer accessible to the public; in fact, normal traffic cannot pass on the road that leads to Constitution Avenue. The diplomatic enclave, now proposed to be a gated hamlet within the capital, is also nearly impossible to enter unless you have passes, stickers on vehicles and various identifications ready for inspection.

I wonder what the inhabitants of the diplomatic enclave feel. Apparently, nervousness is rampant despite the sense of adventure that many an international staff share as a life trait. Once inside, life within the compounds replicates “home” with ex-pat clubs, festivals and international nights, or so I am told. My friend, LA, from Canada, is undaunted as she continues to attend parties and even sneak into local markets with Pakistani friends and acquaintances. Not all ex-pats are so lucky: most have sent their families back to the countries of their residence and are barred from going to local markets and restaurants. Essentially, they are limited to the securer circles of work and living.

The obvious question that evades the attention of foreign missions is how much are they, if at all, responsible for all that is happening to Pakistan, particularly Islamabad. If the NATO allies are unable to control Afghanistan despite the massive amounts spent on the war machine, then there is something wrong somewhere. And, if billions in relief, emergency and development aid have been unable to alleviate the miseries faced by Afghan people, then the aid architecture should be revisited or perhaps scrapped to avoid senseless technical assistance on sophisticated government machinery in a country where millions are maimed, hungry and shelter-less.

Islamabad is also a haven for all the planners, architects and beneficiaries of international aid industry. This is what has made Islamabad different from the rest of urban Pakistan. Men and women of all ages and ideologies are now in the service of the international development Continue reading

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Filed under Citizens, Islam, Islamabad, Pakistan, Society, south asia, Terrorism, urban

Asma Jahangir’s Appeal

Asma Jahangir, the brave fighter, has sent this message from house arrest in Lahore

Appeal for support to lawyers and judges in Pakistan

I am fortunate to be under house arrest while my colleagues are suffering. The Musharaf government has declared martial law to settle scores with lawyers and judges. Full entry here >>

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Filed under Citizens, Democracy, Lahore, Law, Media, Pakistan, Politics, World