In Praise of Pakistan’s Aurat March 2019

Secular Pakistan congratulates the local, provincial and national organizers of Aurat March across the country, for showing us the strength of feminist movements in Pakistan by creating a diverse platform that was able to accommodate all shades of political and personal views held by organizations and individuals.

We rejoice to witness that some women were courageous enough to go against ‘convention’ by speaking the truth of women’s daily lives in an upfront and direct manner knowing that it’ll offend the very core of patriarchal control.

lo beth gaye saheeh se: here i’m sitting proper‘ with the image of an open-legged woman is a great one-line critique on the vulgar lived reality of women where they are constantly harassed and hounded by men and other adults to sit, stand, talk, smile, eat in ways to make themselves small, silent, submissive and insignificant. This routine, of course, creates the conditions where a human being is effectively controlled by patriarchal systems at the physical, emotional and sexual levels. Our compliments to the woman who came up with this brief yet impactful critique.

It is wonderful that women felt so self-empowered in their togetherness that they were chanting ‘main awara hoon: i am a vagabond‘, to declare themselves to be someone who defies the status quo created and perpetuated by patriarchy. ‘Tum khana garm karo main bistar garm karti hoon: you heat up the food i’ll heat up the bed‘ speaks very well to the sexual and personal exploitation of women within marriage. Some additional good ones are available for viewing at the link below.
thequint.com/neon/social-buzz/aurat-march-2019-pakistan

Secular Pakistan, as a progressive and equality-seeking current, offers unconditional support to women who brought out the reality of women’s lives in a manner as to disturb the status quo and challenge its oppressive and exploitative conventions, cultures and ensuing consciousnesses. We acknowledge that this action by some women may create difficult situations for them, and we urge progressive organizations and individuals to assure that the ‘targeted’ women are supported and protected online and offline.

Fauzia Rafique
March 14, 2019

VOTE & VOTE Pakistan! General Election 2018

Photo: Reuters

This election day, we hope for a Peoples’ verdict on Pakistan’s current political situation. A verdict on the system as represented at this time by the army, judiciary, bureaucracy, political parties and the politicians of Pakistan.

We hope to receive this verdict today even when the establishment has and is trying to quell that hope by rigging and trying to influence the outcome of the election. Many candidates of one party have been prevented from participating through unjust legal means and some of their leaders are in jail, workers and candidates of non-religious parties have been killed, harassed and threatened, media has been manipulated, and, some parties are taking unfair advantage of people who are struggling with poverty by offering to buy their votes.

Our hope is alive because People of Pakistan whenever given the chance to use their vote have sided more with those promising to fight for their right to have basic necessities, pleasures and dignities of life than those who support the repressive, biased and unfair interests of the establishment and its agencies, parties and politicians.

Corruption may be a big issue, but it’s NOT the main issue facing Pakistan at this time even when the establishment and their supporters want us to believe that it is. The main issues are of poverty, unequal access to basic services and protections, unequal distribution of wealth and resources, inequalities based on gender, sexual orientation, faith and ability.

Based on this understanding, these are our recommendations.

Vote for BULB – Awami Workers Party (AWP) in all the 22 constituencies for being the only party in this election with a program promising to protect the rights of common people.

Vote for LOUDSPEAKER – Jibran Nasir (Independent) in the one constituency he is contesting for standing on a ‘people-loving’ program, and for showing the strength to not succumb to intimidation and pressures.

Vote for LANTERN – Awami National party (ANP) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for giving a secular program, and sustaining violent repression from both the Agencies and the Extremists.

Other than that:

Vote for LION – Pakistan Muslim League (N) throughout the province of Punjab.

Vote for ARROW – Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) wherever you prefer.

All Power To the Voter.
Down with the Establishment, its agencies and organizations.
Yes to Peace and Fairness.
(‘Pakistan is holding its 11th general election since 1970 today. Voting has begun at 85,000 polling stations. About 4,00,000 police officers and 371,388 army personnel have been deployed at the booths as a precautionary security measure.’ Indian Express)

Fauzia Rafique
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Pak man shot dead after being acquitted of blasphemy

Another blasphemy killing in the Punjab. Sajjad Hussain’s murderers surrendered to the police, but will they be tried and punished for their crime?

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Lahore: A Pakistani man who was acquitted of a blasphemy charge has been shot dead by two men in Punjab province, police officials said Saturday.

Sajjad Hussain, a resident of Khan Muslim village in Gujranwala district, 80 km from Lahore, was gunned down yesterday.

He had been arrested in February 2011 after Sath Sanaullah, a resident of his neighbourhood, accused him of committing blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed during a private conversation.

Hussain was booked under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, the harsh blasphemy law.

Hussain’s family held a demonstration and demanded that the two men be punished.

PTI

http://zeenews.india.com/news/south-asia/pak-man-shot-dead-after-being-acquitted-of-blasphemy_806642.html

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U.S. official killed in Libya protest over anti-Islam film – CBC

CBC.ca
Sept 11, 2012

Protesters angered over a film that ridiculed Islam’s Prophet Muhammad fired gunshots and burned down the U.S. consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, killing one American official, witnesses and the State Department said. In Egypt, protesters scaled the walls of the U.S. embassy in Cairo and replaced an American flag with an Islamic banner.

It was the first such assaults on U.S. diplomatic facilities in either country, at a time when both Libya and Egypt are struggling to overcome the turmoil following the ouster of their longtime leaders, Moammar Gadhafi and Hosni Mubarak in uprisings last year.

The protests in both countries were sparked by outrage over a film ridiculing Muhammad produced by an American in California and being promoted by an extreme anti-Muslim Egyptian Christian campaigner in the United States. Excerpts from the film dubbed into Arabic were posted on YouTube.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton confirmed that one State Department officer had been killed in the protest at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. She strongly condemned the attack and said she had called Libyan President Mohammed el-Megarif “to co-ordinate additional support to protect Americans in Libya.”

Continued…
http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/09/11/cairo-embassy-protest.html?cmp=rss
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Shaheed Bibi Ghazala Javed: Peshawar Pakistan – June 18/12

Shaheed Bibi Ghazala Javed was a renowned singer and a brave woman, who despite being in an extreme conservative social environment, was continuing to follow her glorious career that had earlier required for her to escape Taliban by moving from one area to another. As well, she was demanding a divorce from her influential and polygmous husband.

Pushto singer Ghazala Javed shot dead

PESHAWAR: A popular Pakistani singer who fled the Taliban to pursue her music career away from their repressive dictats was shot dead in the northwestern city of Peshawar, police said Tuesday.

Ghazala Javed, 24, was shot six times by gunmen as she left a beauty salon, although police do not believe the Taliban was responsible for her murder and said her ex-husband was a suspect in the case.

Her father, who was with her, was also killed, police said. “Two men on a motorbike sprayed bullets and fled leaving them in a pool of blood,” senior police officer Dilawar Bangash told AFP. She was shot six times and her father once in the head, Bangash said.

“We have registered a case and launched an investigation. The murder seems to be result of some internal dispute,” he added. Police official Imtiaz Khan said the ex-husband was suspected of involvement in the murders.

The singer had fled to Peshawar in 2009 to escape the then Taliban-dominated northwestern district of Swat as the army launched a sweeping offensive.

From 2007 to 2009, Taliban fighters controlled by radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah effectively seized control of the district, terrorising people with murders, beheadings, attacks on girls’ schools and music shops. Singers and dancers were singled out in particular until the army reasserted control in July 2009, winning praise from the United States for eliminating an Islamist threat 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the capital Islamabad.

Javed sung in her native Pashto language and released more than two dozen albums that were popular among Pashto speakers in the northwest. She married businessman Jahangir Khan in 2010, but demanded a divorce after finding out he had another wife and because he tried to ban her from singing, the family said. It is rare for women in the deeply conservative northwest to solicit a divorce and under Islamic law men can have up to four wives at once.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-54932-Pushto-singer-Ghazala-Javed-shot-dead

Information pointed to by Ismat Shahjehan
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Killer of blasphemy accused gets death

FAISALABAD, April 18: An anti-terrorism court on Monday sentenced to death a man who had gunned down two Christian brothers accused of blasphemy. The court also imposed a fine of Rs4 million.

Maqsood alias Soodi had been convicted of killing Sajid and his brother Rashid and injuring police inspector Mohammad Hussain on July 7 last year.

The convict was also sentenced to 10-year imprisonment each under Section 7-C of the ATA and 324 of the PPC and a fine of Rs200,000. Under Section 337-D, he will pay Rs500,000 Arsh (compensation) to the injured inspector and serve a 10-year term.

In July last year, the Civil Lines police had registered a blasphemy case against the two brothers on charges of distributing handwritten blasphemous pamphlets and arrested them.

Maqsood had killed the brothers near the City Police Office when a police team was taking them to the Civil Lines police station after producing them in a court.

By Our Staff Correspondent | From the Newspaper
Dawn.com
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Bin Laden sets alarm bells ringing

By Syed Saleem Shahzad

ISLAMABAD – After a prolonged lull, the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has launched a series of covert operations in the rugged Hindu Kush mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan following strong tip-offs that al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has been criss-crossing the area in the past few weeks for high-profile meetings in militant redoubts.

The US has been on Bin Laden’s trail ever since he fled Afghanistan when the US invaded the country in 2001 to oust the Taliban, but the 54-year-old with a US$50 million reward on his head has always remained several steps in front.

Asia Times Online has learned that decision-makers have put a lot of weight on the information on Bin Laden’s movements as it
has come from multiple intelligence agencies, in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. For at least two years, little credible news has emerged of Bin Laden’s movements and motives. Now, intelligence officials believe they have top-grade accounts as they come from the inner circles of militant camps.

Officials are said to be “stunned” by the visibility of Bin Laden’s movements, and their frequency, in a matter of a few weeks in the outlawed terrain of Pakistan and Afghanistan, the most unprecedented reports about him since he evaded the US in the Tora Bora mountains in Afghanistan in 2001.

The development has fueled speculation in intelligence circles that al-Qaeda could be planning another major attack along the lines of the September 11, 2001, assault on New York and Washington, and the July 2007 foiled bomb attack in London.

However, extensive investigations by Asia Times Online, including exchanges within al-Qaeda’s camps, point in another direction: given the nature of Bin Laden’s meetings, this appears to be the beginning of a new era for a broader struggle in which al-Qaeda, through its Laskhar al-Zil (Shadow Army), will try to capitalize on the Arab revolts and the Palestinian struggle and also revitalize and redefine its role in Afghanistan.

A meeting in Bajaur
Several weeks ago, Bin Laden is reported to have met with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the legendary Afghan mujahid and founder and leader of the Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) political party and paramilitary group, in a militant camp in thick jungle on the fringes of Kunar and Bajaur provinces in Afghanistan. The encounter was publicized by leaks from the HIA’s inner circle and the news was circulated within militant camps in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal area via top-level Pakistani militant commanders in Bajaur.

Despite him being an ally in the war in Afghanistan, the Taliban led by Mullah Omar have always been skeptical about Hekmatyar’s intentions, while Bin Laden and some other al-Qaeda leaders view him differently. Hekmatyar’s representatives of the HIA have been in direct active negotiations with the Americans and have also brokered limited ceasefire agreements with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in Afghanistan.

Bin Laden fought alongside Hekmatyar in the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s and they remained in contact during Bin Laden’s days in Sudan, where he had settled in 1992. When Bin Laden returned to Afghanistan in the mid-1990s, he stayed in regions that were controlled by warlords loyal to Hekmatyar.

Intelligence sources privy to the meeting in Bajaur said Bin Laden could not afford to meet Hekmatyar simply for a dinner party, which was hosted by a Pakistani militant commander of Salafi tendencies and who was a member of the HIA during the Soviet jihad.

“The talks appeared to discuss some grand strategy and Osama bin Laden aims to take Gulbuddin Hekmatyar on board, especially as Hekmatyar’s commanders have brokered ceasefire agreements with NATO forces in Afghanistan and Hekmatyar’s representatives have been negotiating a truce with the Americans,” an intelligence source told Asia Times Online.

Beyond terror operations
Adding to the view of the importance of Bin Laden’s meeting with Hekmatyar is that it took place when the interest of the CIA and its special forces had already been piqued by reports of the al-Qaeda leader’s movements in Kunar and Nuristan for meetings with various militant commanders and al-Qaeda bigwigs. Bin Laden would have been aware of the dangers and was obviously prepared to take the risk.

While intelligence agencies might be involved in a guessing game about Bin Laden’s plans and a possible grand al-Qaeda operation, his movements can be read in the perspective of recent discourse in al-Qaeda circles and a major shift in its policies.

International Islamic militancy that had its roots in the decade-long war against the Soviets in the 1980s was broadly divided into two main schools of thought; both considered themselves righteous despite embodying contradictory themes. These were doctrines of armed struggle espoused by Palestinian Sunni Islamic scholar and theologian Dr Abdullah Azzam, and Egyptian ideologue and Bin Laden’s deputy, Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Azzam preached in favor of defensive jihad by Muslims to help the Afghan mujahideen against the Soviets. He firmly believed in a broader Muslim bloc including Muslim ruling establishments and never supported revolt against Muslim regimes. Despite being Palestinian with Jordanian nationality and a background in the Muslim Brotherhood, Azzam kept himself aloof from the Palestinian revolt against the Jordanian monarchy in September 1970 (called Black September).

Azzam was very close to the Saudi Arabian royal family and considered it essential to lobby it for support of Islamic armed movements like the Afghan resistance against the Soviets and the Palestinian resistance against Israel. He struggled to achieve unity among Muslim rulers and Islamists to resist Western hegemony. He was less dogmatic than others in his strategic purview.

After Azzam’s assassination in Pakistan in 1989, Zawahiri emerged as the main ideologue of Islamic armed opposition. Coming from the same ideological background of the Muslim Brotherhood as Azzam, Zawahiri faced an entirely different world after the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s when, under American instructions, Muslim regimes were intolerant of Islamic militancy.

Zawahiri therefore promoted the idea of ideological divides within the Muslim world, and encouraged revolts and terrorism to polarize societies to such a point of chaos that they would be unmanageable and amenable to Western intervention. It was believed that such intervention would open the gates for a battle between the West and the Muslim world.

Like Azzam, Zawahiri is not too dogmatic, but he encouraged narrow ideological views in resistance movements as a strategy to boost revolts against Muslim-majority states.

Of the two schools of thought, Azzam’s has never been criticized and is respected by all while Zawahiri’s has come under heavy fire from mainstream Muslim scholars and intelligentsia. Zawahiri’s adherents had no argument in his defense other than him operating under the law of necessity.

A recent ideological discourse within al-Qaeda’s ranks shot down Zawahiri’s arguments. This was sparked by key al-Qaeda ideologues and commanders such as Sulaiman Abu al-Gaith (see Broadside fired at al-Qaeda leaders Asia Times Online, December 10, 2010) and Saif al-Adel.

Adel emphasized that while polarization within the Muslim world was essential after 9/11 to gather strength behind al-Qaeda, nowadays, especially in light of the great Arab revolt, there was a need to switch to Azzam’s viewpoint that sees no need for polarization within Muslim-majority states viz-a-viz the Muslim world’s confrontation against Western hegemony.

After this, al-Qaeda began a new phase with the Muslim Brotherhood and Palestinian groups to revive its old contacts and establish a new nexus for a joint struggle against Western interests in the Muslim world.

Bin Laden’s meeting with Hekmatyar and other militant commanders in the Hindu Kush can be seen as a part of this new war in which al-Qaeda aims to involve the whole Muslim nation.

Hekmatyar’s HIA has been a part of al-Qaeda’s Laskhar al-Zil, which comprises elite guerrillas. Possibly, al-Qaeda aims to revitalize its operations in Afghanistan, and throughout the world, along with mainstream resistance groups (sons of the soil or Ibnul Balad) and in addition to Islamic political parties.

While fears attached to Bin Laden’s unprecedented visibility and movement for a grand al-Qaeda operation cannot completely be dismissed, it is more possible that al-Qaeda will undertake both worldwide terror operations and join forces with mainstream Muslim groups.

From http://www.atimes.com/

Information provided by
Ijaz Syed
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