Tag Archives: Freedom

Who’s afraid of Sherry Rehman?

Raza Rumi

Express Tribune: It has been rather disturbing to witness the way Sherry Rehman has been the latest target of the purists within the ruling PPP. For years, Sherry has represented the intellectual vigour within her party. From drafting of manifestoes to holding the important portfolios, she has been an articulate defender of the PPP and its government. Her decision to resign in the wake of the judges’ saga and media handling of the 2009 Lahore-Gujranwala Long March was a matter of democratic choice.

After her resignation, she did not defame her party leadership and continued to demonstrate her loyalty. She is now a victim of an unwise ban on PPP leaders and legislators preventing them from appearing on a particular television channel. Worse, she has been lumped with the other dissenters — Naheed Khan and Safdar Abbasi — whose politics is altogether different. Continue reading

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Filed under Justice, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, liberal Pakistan, Pakistan

Israeli assault on freedom flotilla

Salman Latif’s timely comment on the current crisis.

In a vicious attack, defying all humane obligations, Israeli naval forces attacked a flotilla heading Gaza-wards with its 10,000 tonnes supplies of humanitarian aid. The Israeli commandoes descended on the boats while they were still in the international waters, killing some 19 personnel, unarmed and declaredly sailing to Gaza solely for humanitarian activities. Not only was it a breach of international law, it also depicted the violation of human rights by killing unarmed civilians. With yet again another pre-emptive and disproportionate retaliation, Israel continues the now-three-year-long siege of the region, severely disrupting daily life and resulting in many acute problems for the residents.

Back in 2006, when a Hamas-led government was elected by the Palestinians, it was a golden opportunity for the international community to bring the organization into the fold of legal recognition. Not only would it have persuaded Hamas to give up its militant outfit gradually, it’d also have assured the Palestinians that their plight is heard and realized, democratically. But what we witnessed was sheer hypocrisy both from the West and Israel who clearly refused to admit the democratic position of the party and always nudged away from the possibility of accepting it as the elected representative of the people of Gaza. As much as the arrogance of this policy, it was also a huge strategic mistake. Not only did it lend currency to Hamas’ militant tactics and efforts, it also brought them even more mass popularity in the region which is not a surprise since the Palestinians were explicitly told by the international community that there only choices were either to elect the pro-Israel camp or else, take the course they had long followed – Intifada.

Now that the siege of Gaza makes three years, the circumstances are even worse. The Israeli blockade of all movement into and out of Gaza, termed inhuman by many nations and international organizations, continues unabated. The siege has caused severe problems for the residents of Gaza including acute shortages of food and other daily-use items. International community seems to be gradually realizing the rigidity of the Zionist state in denying all human rights to the inhabitants of Gaza. In fact, the attack on Gaza strip in 2008 only re-asserted it, with HR organizations accusing Israel of having used phosphorous bombs during the attack. This policy of pre-emptive and disproportionate retaliation has incurred huge loss of human lives, including innocent children. Continue reading

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Lahore’s now the latest target of Taliban

Raza Rumi

Once again the terrorists have hit Lahore. But this time they have chosen the favourite target of the fundamentalists – the Ahmedis who were declared as non-Muslims in 1974. Two places of worship have been attacked and innocent people have died. This is unacceptable and outrageous. It means that the state policy of exclusion has finally turned the country into a nightmare – a polity where freedom to worship, profess religious orientation and expression is not only curtailed by simply denied.

The resolve of the Government and the Army must be now strengthened after these tragedies. We condemn the state excesses and also the this heinous act of terrorism.

It is almost surreal to see what is happening in Lahore – there is no law and order, no law enforcement worth its name and hapless citizens witnessing the crumbling of a society. It is time to wake up – complacency will not do.

We have to fight terror and the enemy within and not blame the external forces time and again.

As I write these lines, I am petrified as a very dear friend’s father is trapped in the Model Town mosque. may God protect him.

Updated at: 1437 PST,  Friday, May 28, 2010
Ahmadis’ worship places attacked, five killed LAHORE: Firing incidents have been reported at religious places of Ahmadi sect in Garhi Shahu and Model Town areas of Lahore on Friday.

Five people have been reported killed and 10 injured in the attack at Model Town mosque. Seven terrorists attacked Model Town mosque and police have arrested one of them.

TTP Punjab has claimed the responsibility for the attack, Geo News reported.
Continue reading

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Filed under Al Qaeda, Islamism, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, liberal Pakistan, minorities, Pakistan, Politics, public policy, Punjab, Society, Taliban, Terrorism, violence, war, War On Terror

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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Mass madness over the internet

Ahmed Nadeem has sent another exclusive contribution for PTH. We are posting it to show that a large number of people are enraged at curtailing the freedom to use the internet. We do not endorse all the views here but would like to give airtime to all views. Raza Rumi

There is a ‘mass madness’ ranging from TV talk shows to headlines of News Papers and debate on internet. Charged workers of religious organisations are out in streets of Pakistan. As Malaysian are relatively more religious people as compared to Pakistani’s and share the same Prophet. I was thinking that today country would be choked like Pakistan from electronic blackout to burning shopping malls and McDonalds. Especially, the State of my work my worst as it is currently being ruled by a conservative religious party considered as ‘fanatic’ as Jamat e Islami of Pakistan.The conservative religious rulers of the State where I work have already declared Friday as a off day despite the fact the rest of the country have off days of Saturday and Sunday.

Since yesterday Pakistan Telecommunication authority has blocked Facebook, Youtube and Wikipidia along with interruption in Blackberry services on orders of a ‘Holly Lordship’ of Lahore High Court. The bearded Mullah are on the loose in streets chanting against western infidels burning tyre’s and destroying public property. There are 45 million Pakistani users of social media site Facebook, twice the entire population of another Islamic state, Malaysia. Many of them running businesses, charities and communicating with families and friends have been deprived of access to communication without being heard by a religiously charged self righteous judiciary. All being done in name of a ‘Holly Cause’ to defend the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) from conspiracies of Infidel west.  Continue reading

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Halal Media or Free Media?

Ahmad Nadeem Gehla

Over the last weeks, television screens have broadcasted the growing and angry media sentiment against government over ban on a talk show of a private TV channel by Dubai authorities. Freedom of expression denotes not only freedom of verbal speech but any act of seeking, receiving and delivering information or ideas.  Freedom of expression is closely related to the concept of freedom of conscience and freedom of thought. Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan gives powers to the state to restrict the freedom of expression in interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defense of Pakistan or any part thereof, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, or incitement to an offense.

It is the jurisdiction of the judiciary, which itself has been under strong influence of establishment to decide what restrictions may be placed on freedom of expression. Although these restrictions are not strictly enforced by the judiciary but religious conservative groups in the population enforce these restrictions at will followed by the heavy-handed tactics of the police, the army and the intelligence services to intimidate journalists perceived to cross the ‘limits’. The history and influence of religious extremists in media dates back to the process of the politicization and militarization of religious groups initiated both by national and international actors during cold war. Continue reading

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Book Review: Curfewed Night by Basharat Peer

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

Picture right below Bashart Peer

lal-chowk-srinagar-oct-6American author and academic Alastair Lamb wrote of the Kashmir dispute as “incomplete partition”.  He wrote that had it not been for the Kashmir dispute, Pakistan and India might have worked out their differences and existed as two prosperous nations “evolving towards each other” –which was the stated objective of partition in the first place- instead of away from each other. The cleavage instead has widened and Kashmir remains etched in the consciousness of Indians and Pakistanis – both anxious to claim it to complete themselves.  So  Basharat Peer’s memoir epitomizes the effect of this incompleteness that both Indians and Pakistanis have brought to bear on the lives of hapless Kashmiris.
“Curfewed Night” is a chronicle from the eyes of a Kashmiri growing up in the valley and watching it transform into a hotbed of violent militancy pitted against state oppression. It is also about a people unwilling to lose their identity. What is it about identity anyway that causes people to sacrifice their future in its name?  Identity is the most powerful mobilizing force in history.  But what happens when identity gets into a perpetual conflict with those who wish to crush it?   Does identity dissipate?  Kashmir has been ill-served by India, by Pakistan, by the militants and by its own politicians who have failed to work out a compromise.  It has turned the serene valley into the bloodied nose of Asia. Continue reading

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Filed under Books, India, Kashmir, Pakistan, Reviews, south asia, violence