From Swat – with no love: Pakistani Taliban!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Zubair Torwali

The main town of Swat, Mingora, has now virtually fallen to the militants. The police are escorted by army officials and come out from their ‘hide-outs’ only for a couple of hours. One of the busiest squares, Grain chowk, was renamed by the shopkeepers as ‘Khooni chowk’ because when they come to their shops in the morning on each day they find four or five dead bodies hung over the poles or the trees. They see dead bodies scattered along the foot path in the morning. The bodies are usually headless. The practice goes thus with an average of four deaths daily in the square. Similarly on each morning there are found bodies with their throats slit in Qambar, Kabal, Matta, Khawza Khela and Charbagh. This practice has been going on for weeks; and unfortunately does not seem to stop.

Jan 15 is the deadline set by the militants to close all schools, especially those of girls. As the deadline approaches people are getting more and more terrified. The government’s writ is all but absent. Nazims have been killed, women are not allowed to visit bazaars (which are deserted), NGOs have stopped working and children play a ‘Fauji Taliban’ game. The people live a miserable life in the cold. Most bridges have been damaged and beyond the main town phones have been dead for months. Most people live in darkness at night because the fighting has badly affected the power infrastructure as well.

Curfew is imposed constraining the people inside for days on end. And security forces personnel sometimes fire indiscriminately. The residents can do nothing – they cannot protest against the high-handedness of the military or stand up to the militants. The Taliban gain from strength to strength, partly aided by the use of FM radio. Various checkposts set up by the security forces seem to be no little use. Scores of militants entered Kalam last week in spite of six checkposts set up from from Bagh Dahri to Bahrain. It is quite clear that for now the victors in the war are the Taliban – and the losers the people of Swat.

But who cares about that in the rest of the country. The government seems too busy dealing with the aftermath of the Mumbai carnage. That said, the predicament of the people of Swat is worse than even of the people of Gaza. In Gaza the enemy is well known but in Swat the people know not who the enemy is and whom to hold responsible.

The civil society of any country is regarded as a great force to mobilize the general public against the violation of civil rights and liberty. It is considered as a bulwark against the violation of human rights. It is deemed as the upholder of people’s rights where the state fails to deliver. Its mettle was tested in the lawyers’ movement but we in Swat wonder why it is silent now? We hear no voice raise against the atrocities committed in Swat. No civil society organization has its voice against the plight of the women and children in Swat. We have not seen a single demonstration in the big cities against the monster of militancy in Swat, or in FATA for that matter. The media also seems apathetic about the plight. The print media does well to some extent but their scope is limited.

The people of Swat ask you to come out on their behalf and mobilize the general public against the war tearing the valley. We implore you to come out of your drawing rooms and stage protests so that the government does something about our plight.

The writer is a social activist who lives in Swat.

From Ijaz Syed

Number of children at CPWB rising

Daily Times Monitor

LAHORE: The number of children, who are abandoned, orphan or homeless is increasing at the Child Protection and Welfare Bureau (CPWB), City-42 reported on Wednesday.

The television channel said that the bureau provided lodging and food to the children, besides education and vocational training to enable them to live a productive life when they grew up.

At least 306 boys and 86 girls reside at the bureau.

CPWB Director General Muhammad Khalid told the channel that the bureau’s aim was to look after the children during their stay at the bureau, and reunite them with their parents.

Pakistan close to bottom on global gender gap list

ISLAMABAD: The World Economic Forum (WEF) on Wednesday released the Global Gender Gap Report 2008 through its partner institute in Pakistan, the Competitiveness Support Fund (CSF).

According to the annual report, the social and economic empowerment of women is still very low in Pakistan and they are struggling for their livelihood and survival. Pakistan ranked 127th among 130 countries in this year’s Global Gender Gap ranking.

The report provides a comprehensive framework for assessing and comparing gender gaps in 92 percent of the world’s population this year. There are three basic underlying concepts of the report; it ranks countries according to gender equality rather than women empowerment; focuses on measuring gaps rather than levels and measures those gaps in outcome variables rather than input variables.

There are 14 gender gap indices, which focus on the economic participation and opportunities available to women, their educational attainment, health, survival and political empowerment.

Political empowerment: Pakistan ranked poorly in almost all categories in the report. It, however, fared better in empowering women politically, ranked 50th among 130 countries.

Norway: Norway leads the world in closing the gender gap, followed by Finland, Sweden and Iceland. Germany (11), the United Kingdom (13) and Spain (17) slipped down the ranking, but remained in the top 20. Netherlands (9), Latvia (10), Sri Lanka (12) and France (15) made significant gains.

Pakistan ranked 117th in both women’s literacy rate and workforce population, 115th in healthy life expectancy, 110th in enrolment in primary education, 60th in wage equality for similar work and fifth in years of a female head of state.

The CSF is a joint initiative of the United States Agency for International Trade and Development (USAID) and Pakistan’s Finance Ministry. It has been established to reposition Pakistan’s economy on a more globally competitive footing.

USAID’s support for the CSF is part of the $2.8 billion aid that the US government has provided to Pakistan since 2002 to improve the latter’s economic growth, education, health, governance and to reconstruct the areas affected by the October 2005 earthquake.

Staff report

Increased unfair labour practices against women workers

Khadijah Shah

LAHORE, PAKISTAN, Oct 25: Muttahida Labour Federation chairman Muhammad Yaqub articulates there is a marked increase in unfair labour practices against women workers due to suspension of labour inspections.

Speaking at a training workshop for informal sector women and trade union workers at Kot Lakhpat here, he said a number of medicine companies, garments and confectionary units had started employing home-based women workers to multiply their profits. Such women were being paid nominal wages and denied all the benefits available under labour laws.

Federation secretary-general Muhammad Hanif Ramay alleged hundreds of thousands of workers in formal and informal sectors were being denied minimum wages and made to work for up to 12 hours a day in violation of the ILO conventions due to relaxation in working hours allowed during the tenure of Pervez Musharraf.

A majority of female workers in formal sector had not been issued appointment letters and were denied social security and old-age benefits.

The violations of law could not be checked owing to suspension of labour inspections.

Ferhan Mazher
Chairman (Rays of Development Organization, Sargodha, Pakistan)

US elections: An Indian Perspective

By Amaresh Misra

As America goes to vote on 4th November 2008, a hitherto unseen specter is haunting the historic Obama-McCain stand-off; till now, electoral Pundits have relied basically on the traditional theory of both the Democratic and the Republican Party possessing roughly a 37%-37% base vote—and then the 20-26% Independent voter deciding the final outcome.

The Independent mantra however is questionable— it gives too much power to spin doctors on either side of the political divide and to the idea that voters in the middle can be swayed almost exclusively by a media blitzkrieg or some zany twists, like the nomination of Sarah Palin.

Laws of political science inform that the notion of the Independent voter cannot exist in a political vacuum. There has to be some magnetic pull, emerging from the base vote category, which can trigger the decisive slide of the Independent voter towards the winning side: in this scenario, it is unlikely that the phenomenon of hockey moms or even Wal Mart moms, or any other Independent category, voting any which way independently will decide the next American President.

Similar is the case with the impact the current Wall Street collapse; growing economic problems shifted media focus away from Sarah Palin; there was an uneasy question mark over the fundamentals of supply side Reagan-economics and the economic philosophy America should adopt for the 21st century. But, historically, economic uncertainty, unless it is of the Great Depression type with a figure like Roosevelt stimulating a class polarization, leads to less, not more voter participation in the electoral process; moreover, voters tend to vote both right and left in such an atmosphere.

To understand the invisible specter that seems to haunt the American electoral fight, one may have to look towards India, a country where regular elections since 1952 have thrown up what is known as a `base assertion’—as opposed to the `Independent voter assertion’—theory.

While America has a Presidential system, Indian democracy has a Parliamentary system; but electoral trend behavior in democracies has shown a wide level of similarity.

In India, from 1952 and roughly till the late 1980s, the Congress Party was able to win elections after elections because of the assertion of a single bloc: the minority-Muslim voter. Fighting on a socialist plank, Congress always formed a coalition of social forces and got the vote of the vast majority of India’s poor. Yet within that coalition, it was the assertion of the minority-Muslim vote in successive constituencies that provided the resources and the atmospherics for the non-Muslim poor to assert as well.

A quick look at Congress’ electoral graph over the years reveals a startling pattern: the party suffered significant defeats whenever, within the pro-Congress coalition, the minority-Muslim vote dipped by as little as 2-3%; thus in the 1967 General elections, the Congress lost more than 100 seats; in the 1977 General elections, when minority-Muslim support dipped by 10%, the Congress party was for a moment wiped off from the Indian electoral scene.

By the early 1990s, following a series of anti-minority-Muslim measures, most importantly the decision by a sitting Congress Prime Minister Narsimha Rao (who wanted to attract Hindu votes to the party) to allow the demolition of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, a town in the province of Uttar Pradesh (UP), the party lost the minority-Muslim support for the first time over an extended period. Consequently, throughout the 1990s, the Congress was relegated to an unthinkable third position, as the Hindu Nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and a new secular and Left leaning anti-Congress front of regional parties slugged it out in the electoral arena.

Thus was born the phenomenon of regional secularism, wherein in UP and Bihar, two of India’s most populous states, backward caste, anti-Congress, anti-BJP Hindu leaders stormed to power, mainly on Muslim support. In both UP and Bihar Muslims formed roughly 15% of the total population. But their unprecedented electoral group-base assertion swayed the Independent voter completely in the favor of regional secularists.

A similar phenomenon accompanied the rise of Mayawati, the Dalit leader in UP, in the 1990s; Dalits, or the lowest of the low caste, comprise 22% of UP’s population; earlier, they used to vote for the Congress; but then, their vote was not part of a singular group assertion. Mayawati was able to triumph because the Dalits decided to jettison the Congress and identify with her totally.

In the American elections, the most obvious and simple aspect— the African American black vote in Obama’s favor— may well prove to be the most relevant in the final count. True, the black vote has traditionally been with the Democratic Party; and often, black assertion was not enough for a Democratic Party victory. But it has to be seen and analyzed as to how many times black assertion was base assertion— it seems that the three times when black assertion was base assertion, with Roosevelt, Kennedy and Clinton, the Democratic Party made history.

In the 2000 and 2004 American elections, Bush was able to defeat the Democrats, because somewhere along black assertion did not approximate in intensity to base assertion. On the other hand, the Christian Right, perhaps for the first time, asserted as a base for Republicans. Interestingly, the white vote, like the Hindu vote in India as such can never form a base assertion vote— it has been seen that in democracies, majority communities are too fragmented along class, regional or ethnic lines, to comprise a base assertion vote. The assertive minority vote has been decisive— and yet, ironically, it has remained so far the least recognized element of pre-election calculations.

In America, black assertion in Obama’s favor, is leading also to a pro-Democratic swing of Hispanic and white working class voters, much more than this otherwise would have been even in an economic crisis situation. In fact, the economic crisis has led blacks, the worst hit, to assert more as a group— few will recognize this at the end, but on 4th November 2008, America’s 12% minority blacks will play the determining role in choosing the next President of their country.

‘India: A Fistful of Follies’ by Amaresh Misra

A Perspective on Maharashtra incidents, bomb blasts and the current political crisis
By Amaresh Misra

After writing so much and achieving at least something, on the recent spate of violence/bomb blasts/attacks on minorities, the Maharashtra and Assam events leaves writers and commentators like Ghulam Muhammad and I, numb. The arrest of Pragya Singh, and the whole needle of suspicion towards ex and serving army officers in the 29th September Malegaon blasts has confirmed what we have been saying all along: that terror indeed has a face; that the Indian Mujahideen and SIMI were creations of the Indian security forces and the real wires of terrorism are linked inextricably to the hate/fascist ideology of the RSS-BJP. RSS-BJP in essence is a home grown, terrorist-fascist force par excellence— and it is not the first time that they have bared their fangs.

I still remember a meeting with the anti-RSS, pro-Muslim Shanakaracharya Swami Swarupanand, the Shankaracharya of Dwarika and Badrinath. In this, the Shankaracharya had stated clearly and I quote, ‘Amaresh these Sanghis are the most criminal of all forces. They run a secret wing of assassins. They have been indulging in murder and arson since their birth. They are adharmis like Ravana and they dare to pose as Hindus! They have even tried to assassinate me!’

This is the Shankaracharya speaking— it is also clear that there was a secret nexus between the RSS and the British during the 1947 partition riots. In an article published earlier, Akhilesh Mittal, the columnist of Asian Age and Covert, has exposed the entire conspiracy by highlighting a true case which I am quoting from the original article:

Hard evidence of the nexus between the British government of India and the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh) is available in A Life of Our Times, the memoirs of Rajeshwar Dayal, ICS published by Orient Longman in 1998. The RSS was supplied detailed maps of towns and
villages to enable them to attack Muslims.

Dayal says: “At a cocktail party, in early 1946, the Chief Secretary told me, almost casually that I would be the next Home Secretary of the U.P. I happened to be the first Indian officer named to the post which had hitherto apparently been reserved for British officers.”(Page 77).

As Home Secretary Rajeshwar Dayal became privy to the most confidential information “I must record an episode of a very grave nature. When communal tension was still at fever pitch, the Deputy Inspector General of Police Western Range a very seasoned and capable officer, B.B.L. Jaitley arrived at my house in secrecy. He was accompanied by two of his officers who brought with them two large steel trunks securely locked. When the trunks were opened, they revealed incontrovertible evidence of a dastardly conspiracy to create a communal holocaust throughout the western districts of the province. The trunks were crammed with blueprints of great accuracy and professionalism of every town and village of that vast area prominently marking out the Muslim localities and habitations. There were also detailed instructions regarding access to various locations, and other matters which amply revealed their sinister purport.”

Dayal took the incriminating evidence to the Chief Minister Gobind Ballabh Pant “There, in a closed room, Jaitley gave a full report of his discovery backed by all the evidence contained in the steel trunks.

Timely raids conducted on the premises of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh) had brought the massive conspiracy to light. The whole plot had been concerted under the direction and supervision of the Supremo of the organisation himself.

Both Jaitley and myself pressed for the immediate arrest of the prime accused Shri Golwalkar, who was still in the area. Pant decided to put the matter before his cabinet. There were RSS sympathisers in the Congress and the presiding officer of the Legislative council, Atma Govind Kher was a sympathiser and his sons were known to be members of the RSS.

The action taken was not arrest but a letter to Golwalkar stating the evidence and asking for an explanation. As could be expected Golwalkar slipped away and managed to elude the couriers. “This infructuous chase continued from place to place and weeks passed.”

The next paragraph, on page 94 of the book speaks for itself “Came 30th January 1948 when the Mahatma, the supreme apostle of peace fell to a bullet…”

These maps could have originated only in the British Surveyor General’s office. The British administration was known for the passionate zeal with which they guarded maps. That these were made available to the RSS is evidence of the link.

Further, in a book written by Alex Von Tunzelmann, called ‘The Indian Summer: secret history of the end of an empire’, the author has exposed how the 1947 August-September-October Delhi ‘riots’ were no riots— they were in fact an armed uprising conducted by RSS in alliance with retired army officers and personals against the secular basis of the new Indian nation state. Nehru was aware of the RSS plot, as was Patel—and Nehru gave Patel a stern warning to choose sides at this very moment. Patel caved in— then the Indian army was brought in to crush the anti-Muslim RSS rising, which left hundreds of thousands of Muslims of old Delhi dead.

These two instances show that RSS’s criminal character has a long history. In contemporary times, since 1990, with Advani’s first Rath Yatra these forces have persisted with just one agenda: anti-Muslim, anti-secular, anti-constitutional tirade. In the process, they have given birth to the Mumbai riots, then the backlash the Mumbai Bomb Blasts, then a whole spate of terrorist activities when the NDA was in power, and then the 2005-06-07 Mumbai, Malegaon, Nanded, Nagpur, UP terror attacks and then the latest spate of violence beginning with the 26th July Ahmedabad Blasts. Since that date in less than six months India has seen 64 serial blasts in six states leaving 215 dead and 900 injured.

To further elaborate an earlier point: What has become now of Indian Mujahiden and SIMI? Why is the media not screaming about them after the latest Assam Blasts? Which new ‘terror’ organization and which devilish scheme the Indian security forces will come up with now?

In India there is a clear alliance between a large section of Indian State (bureaucrats and security officials), the communal/fascist forces, the opportunist elements in the Congress and the BJP, the two main parties, and a large section of the Indian corporate pro-US, business class and leading media houses. The latter in fact have emerged as a major rallying point for fascist forces. Imagine after the death of several North Indians in lynch-style Ku Klux Clan marka attacks in Mumbai, Rajdeep Sardesai, the editor of CNN-IBN writes a letter to `his dear friend’ Raj Thackeray in Hindustan Times (31-10-2008) hailing him for representing Marathi sentiments but then advising him not to resort to violence against North Indians! Sardesai goes on to mention that after all he to is a migrant in Delhi!

Now Delhi liberals, who hate UP and Bihar wallas as much as any elite in Mumbai, will welcome Rajdeep Sardesai’s article as a voice of sanity or something. But Rajdeep does not even question Raj Thackeray’s attempts to project himself as a protector of Marathi Manoos. Rajdeep nowhere raises the issue of backward caste and Dalit Marathis and how they have been cruelly suppressed in the name of Marathi unity and how the latest attack on North Indians is also a ploy to deflect the growing power aspirations of Dalits and the Marathi OBCs and MBCs— power aspirations which would threaten ultimately the unchallenged rule of the Marathi-Maratha forward castes.

In Maharashtra, the Congress, NCP and the Shiv Sena, as well Raj Thackeray all represent the Marathi forward caste— so does Rajdeep Sardesai and a whole lot of other Marathi intellectuals. The voice of the Vijay Tendulkar type Marathi liberal has been suppressed— now Rajdeep type individuals with a new, Anglicized, neo-forward caste tinge are in the field. However much they might not like the `violence of it all’ they share certain basic, elitist, anti-North Indian assumptions of the Maratha and Indian metro city forward castes. This neo-liberal/city elite is also mortally afraid and will continue to act buddy-buddy with Raj Thackeray, a clone of the even the most second rate Nazi trooper.

The larger question is why are North Indians being targeted systematically? And what is the role of corporate houses?

Since 2006, more than Rs.80, 000 crore investment, mainly in the auto industry, is coming Maharashtra’s way. Concentrated in the Mumbai-Thane-Nasik triangle, this investment seeks to edge out especially the small auto part, indigenous manufacturers dotting the triangle. The only way to do so is to encourage the large scale migration of the labor of the region— who happen to be North Indians!

This scheme fits in well with the Congress game of making one Sena (MNS) compete against the other (Shiv Sena) with an eye to the next elections. Rajdeep of course has not mentioned the Congress-NCP game or the linkages with the corporate lobby— it is clear that in this win-win situation the corporate lobby and the Maharashtra Government as well as the communal fascist forces are hand in glove. If the North Indians die in Ku Klux Clan Style attacks so be it.

Perhaps these actors realize, or perhaps they do not, that a wider game is being played in India; the British East India Company came and colonized India through India’s eastern shore; the new game of global/US/finance capital is to effect an East India Company kind operation from the western shore. In this, first communists are browbeaten— like they were during the rise of Bal Thackeray— and then fascist, anti-Muslim forces are encouraged— and now North Indians are targeted. The aim is to create a situation where the Central or the Federal Indian power loses its grip over at least Gujarat (where Modi, the great friend of corporate-fascist India is ruling) and Maharashtra. The failure of the Central Government to act against Raj Thackeray is a deliberate move by Shiv Raj Patil, India’s Home Minister who also hails from Maharashtra, to suspend his own powers and that of the Indian State!

But— again— why North Indians and people of UP and Bihar? The reason is simple— UP and Bihar were the centers of anti-colonial resistance in 1857, and beyond. During the Mughal, Gupta and the Mauryan period too these two areas constituted the heartland, the base of India’s movement for independence. These areas are very fertile and peasant dominated with abundant resources, scope for development and Industrialization and a proud people who never gave up their freedom. What is more, UP and Bihar are home to the most stable, truly traditional and humanist-modern sections of Sanatan Dharma and Islam, the two great religions of India.

These religions and Hindi-Urdu Belt peasantry resisted not just the British forces in 1857; they also struck a mortal blow to the world’s first corporate state— the East India Company. In fact, from 1857 till the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, private corporate state ceased to exist.

The 1990s and after are periods when under the IMF-World Bank, global capital went on the offensive against the state power as a whole in different countries. The idea was to dismantle/discredit state power as such and pave the way for the gradual privatization of entire, social-public and state sectors.

In this, the concept of nation and nationhood was a major problem; nations of the developed world were still fine; but, according to the new emerging corporate logic, third world country states presented an anomaly partly because their overall orientation, despite several distortions, was socialist and nationalist— and partly because the global private sector found dealing with third world bureaucracy and respecting sovereignty a problem. This has been laid out bare in several books and plans, chiefly the PNAC (Plan For a New American Century), made by Neo Cons who acquired power under George Bush.

The 9/11 attack forced global forces to pause and take a second look at the dismantling of state process. But in the name of war of terror, even war, warfare and military equipment was privatized. Right now in Iraq a large, parallel mercenary force run by a Christian Right Wing Company called Blackwater almost equals the US army strength. Through Blackwater and other such companies, Bush outsourced not just prisons and tortures but military operations. Blackwater is a profit making company like the British East India Company. When it operates on foreign soil, it is exempt from American laws, from Geneva conventions— as the latter concerns States only!

Now if we come to India and the Ken Haywood angle in the Indian Mujahideen story, ignored by the Indian media, we see that Ken Haywood was an employee of a private multinational company called Campbell White, which was linked to the right wing Potter House Church in Arizona, which in turn was close to the most virulent, fundamentalist sections of America’s bible belt.

Now it is not too incredible I hope to at least think that terror in India has been outsourced to private companies who for the moment are operating covertly for the time being.

While the arrest of Pragya Singh and the exposure of her network is a welcome step, the total neglect of the Ken Haywood angle makes the Indian State susceptible to manipulations of private, International outfits, who are partly controlled by the CIA and the Mossad but are also capable of wringing themselves out of the control of any state agency. So it is possible that even RAW and the ISI do not have control over what is happening in India, and by extension in Pakistan. Only a thorough investigation, by a JPC can reveal the truth as to who started this process of privatizing terror. Organizations like Abhinav Bharati and the Bhonsale Military Academy found to be linked with Pragya Singh and the Malegaon Blasts are like Blackwater only— they are private outfits, which adhere loosely to the RSS and the Hindutva ideology, but are also capable of becoming a loose cannon.

The Assam blasts may also be a work of private forces beyond the control of ULFA or HUJI.

In this entire conspiracy, the Congress, the BJP, media houses and communal forces are primarily to blame— for they have supported privatization of media, security and terror— everyone knows how Lal Krishna Advani allowed a number of private organizations, bearing loose adherence to the Sangh ideology, to hold armed training camps during his tenure as the Home Minister.

So there are two types of forces working against India and the idea of India— a section of the fascist forces inside and outside the state forces are targeting minorities— in the name of combating terror, they have institutionalized Muslim persecution in particular. Their long-term goal is to stem the tide of social change in India, roll back the OBC-MBC-Dalit assertion and create a chaotic situation in which the Parliamentary form of Government may get suspended and a Presidential form is instituted, suited more to the bipolar Congress VS BJP polity. In this conspiracy to roll back parliamentary democracy and suspend/change the Indian constitution written by Baba BhimRao Ambedkar, both the Congress and the BJP are hand-in-glove. The corporate sector is backing this line of thought.

Then there are private forces, supported by foreign money, which are working sometimes in tandem with state forces and sometimes independently, to create fissures, and divide Indian society at all possible communal, regional and other levels. The role of Indian corporate houses and security elements in furthering these forces is paramount.

In certain situations, these two forces— State-communal and private-communal-mercenary— come together as in the Malegaon blast, the Mumbai incidents and the Assam blasts. It can be seen that the Assam blasts occurred just when the heat on Raj Thackeray got intense and investigations in the Pragya Singh case were revealing the face of real actors like the private Abhinav Bharati militia.

In Mumbai, the Maharashtra Government is behind Raj Thackeray and the corporate lobby is behind the Maharashtra Government. The UP Bihar labor is labor-intensive and the new foreign investment coming into Maharashtra is technology-intensive. This is the economic reason behind the fake encounter of Rahul Raj of Bihar, the killing of Dharmadeo Rai and several other people from UP and Bihar.

The Indian State therefore is being held hostage by two forces— a section of its own personell and secondly by private, national and International players working either with an ideology to create instability in India and Pakistan, or just like mercenaries working to create anarchy and perpetuate the forces of darkness as per their calling.

Despite the American economic crisis and the world financial meltdown, foreign capital needs enclaves in India where things like sovereignty do not interfere with its activities. The Mumbai-Thane-Nasik triangle is one such enclave— so Raj Thackarey has powerful international backing and international forces have reached a point where after weakening the central Indian State during the liberalization era they are now dealing directly with states, encouraging them not to follow central dictates. Hence the scenario that Vilasrao Deshmukh is not listening to Man Mohan Singh or the Central cabinet and Maharashtra seems to have seceded from India. Hence the scenario in Gujarat and Orissa as well where too State Governments are not listening to the Center.

The Center of course is weakening itself— in India we are seeing a war of Center against Center, state against center, state against state. The ultimate aim of anti-national foreign and domestic players is to encourage the security forces and government elements of various states to seek Independent actions and ultimately secession.

The media is not even reporting cases like that of Allahabad and UP where an Islamic preacher named Zakir Naik was transported suddenly from Mumbai to create controversies about Imam Hussein and his status in Islam and polarize and divide Muslims also; this modern exercise was in stark contrast to earlier crude infightings between different Muslim sects, which did not carry the Zakir Naik type modern-political implications.

Hindus have already been divided between Hindutva and Sanmatan Dharma— despite knowing that Sanatan Dharma is the Hindu religion, media and other forces have always depicted Hindutva as representing Hindus.

Similar ploys are on to divide Indian Sikhs and Christians; the folly of Yogendra Yadav type figures is apparent in that while writing about how injustices produce terrorism and the like, they do not even hint at the wider conspiracy against the nation. Then they create non-issues like the unease felt by Hindus over minority communalism where no such unease exists— and moreover has Yogendra Yadav spoken to Sanatan Dharma leaders to find about their unease? It is obvious that Shri Yadav is bothered mainly about Hindutva forces and thinks they represent Hindus!

In America, the military-Industrial complex is fighting back to hold on to ‘privatization of war and misery’ agenda against the espousal of more State intervention by Obama. The Obama Vs right wing conflict will determine in a way whether private corporate forces, and the military-Industrial complex will rule the roost. In India the communal-fascist-media-private corporate- nexus fears losing their grip over India— Shivraj Patil, the Home Minister is their leader— notice how the media has let him off!

These forces have somehow convinced the Congress and the BJP to go in for a Presidential style of Government as in that it will be easier to control the OBCs, MBCs, Dalits, women and minority aspirations. Failing that, a military-fascist coup cannot be ruled out.

In this grave crisis, defeating the Congress and BJP is the main task of all secular-democratic, constitutional forces.

Intellectuals in west and North India do not realize that they are playing with fire. Shivraj Patil, Raj Thackeray, and Rajdeep Sardesai do not know the power of UP and Bihar people. If the police was not backing Raj Thackeray, UP and Bihar people would have retaliated in so many words to telling effect.

Remember that UP and Bihar fought as a social structure to combat fascism and economic liberalization— see how the BJP has been marginalized in both the states. The pro-US, foreign-Indian corporate lobby will never forgive UP and Bihar for standing for Indian sovereignty, deen and honor. UP and Bihar will resist forever corporate homogeneity and the rule of Ambanis and Tatas and Thackerays.

The UP-Bihar angle links the Raj Thackeray episode, with bomb blasts and fake encounters like those of Batala House in Delhi and Rahul Raj in Mumbai. All are different sides of the same coin. In fact by killing Sajid and Atif in Delhi and Rahul Raj in Mumbai, the Delhi and Mumbai Police have de-communalized encounter killings— the sight of two similar fake encounters— one in which innocent Muslims were killed and another in which a Hindu fell to police bullets are before the nation to see and review.

The parallels are glaring and too close for comfort.

In India, Muslim persecution is now synonymous with persecution of North Indians. These two are synonymous with the persecution of Indian honor, sovereignty and dignity. In Raj Thackeray, the Maharashtra Government has created a Bhrindanwale. But this time, not the Indian army but the people of India, particularly of the North will exercise their supreme sovereign right to defeat the state-sponsored paper tiger.

… The answer to the question as to why 1857’s 150th celebrations did not take place, and why such a historic opportunity of celebrating national sovereignty was let go off by the Indian State is this: 1857 created problems once it was ‘appropriated’ from the perspective of criminal-intellectuals like Swapan Das Gupta and Chandan Mitra by a Left nationalist like me— after all I wrote a 2000 page two volume magnum opus on the subject which no one could ignore. Giving importance to a subject like 1857 meant giving importance to me, which meant giving importance to Muslims, North Indians and Marathi Dalits OBCs and MBCs— the three forces behind 1857 and persecuted the most under the current dispensation.

Of course liberals like Rajdeep Sardesai, Vinod Mehta and Yogendra Yadav too did not utter a word of support for me, or 1857.

The silver lining is that the Congress and the BJP have not been able to polarize the situation. The BJP has fallen down the electoral ladder; the Congress hopes to scramble up but it is doubtful whether it will be able to form the next government without the Left or the third front.

In this scenario, the task is to form a new patriotic, democratic front, a people’s movement for civil rights and national sovereignty. Whether you call it the All India Patriotic Front (AIPF) or the Indian Patriotic Civil Liberties Union (IPCLU), this exercise will be friendly towards efforts aimed at building a new democratic political platform such as the Jan Sangharsh Morcha (JSM), the beginnings of which are already seen in UP where the JSM is organizing a huge rally on 10th November 2008. The next phase is to organize a march against Shivraj Patil in Delhi— and then a giant civil rights march early next year in Delhi to highlight two issues: enactment of civil rights laws like ‘atrocities against minorities (prevention)’ act and ‘torture and compensation’ act.

Man executes sister, niece for rejecting to grant loan

Khadijah Shah

DADU, Pakistan Oct 24: A man killed his sister and her daughter in Khad village of Mehar taluka on Friday.

Zahid Hussain Depar went to the house of his sister, Mukhtar Khatoon, 34, and asked for Rs 10,000 ($US 125) loan which she declined. In a fit of anger, Zahid opened fire, killing Mukhtar and her daughter Ajmi alias Bakhtawar.

The police took the bodies to Mehar taluka hospital for autopsy and later handed them over to relatives. Mehar police on the complaint of Mukhtar’s husband Haroon Depar have registered a double murder case against Zahid and his cousin Mehmood Depar.

Ferhan Mazher
Chairman (Rays of Development Organization, Sargodha, Pakistan)

Landowner abuses a minor

Imran Mazher

KHANEWAL, PAKISTAN: On Friday, Safia Rani (16) daughter of Mohammad Ramzan, a labourer working on the lands of Mohammad Siddique in Mauze Hajipur of Kabirwala Tehsil was allegedly sexually assaulted by the latter.

When Safia became pregnant, the landowner kidnapped her from her village near Kabirwala, and kept her in detention for three months.

Kabirwala Sadr Police FIR stated that an abortion was carried out at a private hospital, however, the bill amounting to Rs 17,000 (Dollar US 212.5) was claimed by the landowner from Safia’s father, on the threat of “shaming” them in public. But when the poor family failed to pay the amount, the landowner allegedly took the whole family hostage.

Meanwhile, the police have secured the release of the family due to the involvement of an NGO, and a case has been registered against the landowner.

Ferhan Mazher
Chairman (Rays of Development Organization, Sargodha, Pakistan)

Gendercide in Pakistan: Women are a colonized population!

By Fauzia Rafiq

Aurat Foundation has released numbers for the First Quarter of this year, January to March 2008: 91 days. Just for now, i will count them 90 in honor of the 90 Shaheed Women who were reported to be killed for ‘honour’ in these three months.
90 ‘Honour’ Killings…

This is somewhat the picture that emerges from this report:

Each Day in Pakistan
1 woman is killed for honour (read ‘male honour’)
4+ women are murdered (‘murdered by men’)
2+ women are abducted (‘abducted by men’)
1+ women are injured in ‘domestic violence’ (‘wife assault, daughter assault, sister assault, daughter-in-law assault, sister-in-law assault’)

Each Week in Pakistan
4+ women are raped
1+ women are gang-raped
5+ women commit suicide
2+ women face ‘custodial violence’ (‘sexual, physical, psychological abuse by officials while in police custody’)
2- women face sexual assault
1+ women are burnt (‘burnt with kerosine oil’)

Each month in Pakistan
1 woman faces acid attack

This is how a month looks like
30 women are killed for male honour
122 women are murdered
82 women are abducted
39+ women are injured in ‘domestic violence’
20 women are raped
6 women are gang-raped
22 women commit suicide
11+ women face ‘custodial violence’
8 women face sexual assault
5+ women are burnt

Women Are A Colonized Population in Pakistan
This is 152 women killed every month; and, 193 women abducted, battered, raped, gang-raped, violated in police custody, sexually assaulted, acid attacked and burnt. No wonder 22 women choose to end their lives each month.

Where 367 women are killed/assaulted/raped/humiliated each month, the entire population of women of that country is subjected to a minimum of 367 violent, cruel and gender-biased threats on monthly basis.

As well, and at the same time, 367 messages of vulgar victory are delivered to privileged Muslim men around the country.

The history of the colonization of Pakistani women may not be short and sweat but it is for sure un-complicated. In a feudal/tribal/religious society, the implementation of Muslim Sharia Laws, the Hudood Ordinances, provided what was lacking: the divine sanction to subjugate/abuse a whole population group to serve another. The Military, the MullaN and the US Empire have all benefited at the expense of Pakistani politicians and bureaucrats who are now reduced to errand boys/girls helping out to manage and exploit an already dis-empowered population.

Out of this, women, who are more than half the number of men, are rendered expendable. The ‘Declaration on Burying Women Alive/Killing of Women in the Name of “Honour” and other Customary Practices’, passed by women’s and human rights organizations in Islamabad after a national-level consultation in September, acknowledges and points to the situation like this:
‘that we will no longer allow women to be used as pawns – as convenient expendable targets – in feuds between men over murder, property, money, political and tribal rivalries, blood vendettas and misplaced perceptions of “honour” issues;’

Which Women?
The women being murdered, assaulted and mutilated in Pakistan are not you and me. I may be a ‘kari’ but i will not be the one caught/flogged/stoned/killed. It is inevitable that the woman who will suffer this punishment will be a woman of less social and economic status or a woman ‘belonging’ to men of less economic and social status; and, it will not matter if she is a ‘kari’ or not.

A woman Minister was shot dead by the eXtreme MullaNs last year but such instances are few and far between. So far, its 91 under-privileged women to about 1-2 privileged women a year.

Just as the war in Vietnam became an issue for American people and the Western world only when white soldiers began to die there in numbers, the gender-cide in Pakistan remains un-acknowledged by Pakistani people and the world because the women being killed/assaulted at the minimum rate of 367 per month do not belong to the privileged classes.

The ‘acknowledgment’ of gender-cide is not sought from the Military, MullaN or the Empire but from the progressive politicians, academicians, professionals, activists and bureaucrats who are engaged in a fight for peace, democracy and human rights.

We have to acknowledge a situation of urgency before we can respond to it; and, this is one such situation. Because you know why?

The ‘367 per month’ is an Inaccurate Number
Based on the information released by Aurat Foundation for the First Quarter of this year, the number of ‘honour’ killings rose from 1000 a year in 2001-2002 to 1192 a year in 2008. However, I truly believe that the actual number of killings is much higher.

Most cases involving lesser women/people do not get registered to be counted in researches and surveys. ‘Rapes and gang-rapes are a dime a dozen in feudal Pakistan; exploitation, of women, as also of other lesser mortals is managed in urban environments with sophistication. Neither, gets reported in routine.’ In Search of Decency by Zafar Samdani

There are graves being un-earthed in Pakistan of unregistered crimes against women. ‘… during the past two years, as many as 100 young girls and women had been murdered and their graves were unearthed recently.’ Motion Filed in Senate Against Killing of 100 Women

Delivering Justice to (under-privileged) Women
This is an article published in 2004 where the author recalls the memory of Nawabpur case that had happened in 1984. Beginning with the ‘Elder’ of the avenging family, the author has this to say in The tormenting memory of Nawabpur by Omar R. Quraishi :
‘One can only be astonished by the audacity of this man who probably saw it fit to deny or justify the parading of women naked at gunpoint, because one of their relatives allegedly had an affair or affairs with female relatives of the men who came to take revenge.
(Touch-wood 2008: Mir Israr Ullah Zehri)
‘A military court heard the case and after the incident an amendment (through the Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance 1984 – Section 354 A) was inserted in the Pakistan Penal Code.
(Touch-Wood 2008: Laws will be amended, Sherry Rehman)
‘It increased the maximum sentence from two years in jail to capital punishment for anyone who forced a woman to strip naked in public. Despite that, the men tried in the Nawabpur case were not given capital punishment or even life sentence.
(Touch-Wood 2008: The more influential culprits in the Baloch women case have not even been charged yet)
‘In fact, two months later they were all released on bail. Akbar’s shattered and broken family left the village fearing that the released men might return and persecute them.’
(Persecution is on. Three older women were buried alive for objecting to the earlier alive burials of five women.)

The Most Unfortunate Fact is the People Who Are Killing Women
In the case of Five (now Eight) women who were buried alive in Balochistan, seven people were arrested, and this is who they are:
‘The arrested include the fathers of the three girls, a brother of two of the girls, a cousin of one of the girls and two others whose identities have not been disclosed’.

This is robbing the hearts and souls of women. One hell of a scary ‘family’! I wonder why a society continues to protect it.

And that is why if we cannot mount enough legal and social resistance in Pakistan and outside to protect women in their homes, we will be putting a vast majority of women’s population at an increased risk of violence and abuse from ‘displeased’ and now a bit ‘hunted’ men in their lives.

This is even more true where women are living in tribal, rural or extreme religious home/family environments.
Aithae vudh hyati nochdae/mere sajjan saak peyarae

An Unscietific Indicator of the Current level of Resistance on this Issue
I am proud to belong to some of the most vibrant Pakistani lists on the Net; foremost among them is the one used by five organizations of progressive workers, peasants, women, and rights activists with over 3000 members.

On September 26, ‘Zardari flirts with Palin’ and ‘Zardari calls Palin gorgeous’ were posted with ‘Three more women buried alive in Balochistan today’.

From September 26 to October 1, the first two drew 19 and 6 posts while the third got 2.

From those two, one was mine.

I think that it is almost a true indicator of the order of our priorities in Pakistan; and in that order, women receiving alive burials for wanting to exercise their basic human rights are remembered twice every 25 instances of imperial gossip.

Related Content
‘Violence Against Women’? No! GENDER-CIDE in Pakistan!
Women Slam Govt Against ‘Honour’ Killings
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Motion filed in Senate against killing of 100 women

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

By Mumtaz Alvi

ISLAMABAD: Opposition on Monday filed an adjournment motion with the Senate Secretariat, seeking an in-house debate on the reports of killing of 100 women in Sindh under the tag of “Kari”.

Jamaat-e-Islami Senators Prof Khurshid Ahmad, Prof Muhammad Ibrahim, Dr Muhammad Saad, Dr Kausar Firdous and Aafia Zia signed the motion. They contended in the motion that it was alarming that the poor parents in various parts of Sindh were not only being deprived of their daughters under “Kari”, but also being forced to leave their homes because of the powerful and influential landlords of the province.

Quoting media reports, they noted that during the past two years, as many as 100 young girls and women had been murdered and their graves were unearthed recently. The legislators pointed out that the unearthing of the graves exposed the reign of terror unleashed in the province by the high and mighty landlords.

They said the gory practice was against the Islamic Shariah and the law. They described the custom of “Kari” an oppressive one and called for the Senate chairman to initiate a debate on the matter, suspending the routine business of the house.

If the motion was found in order, the chair could allow a two-hour debate on the issue, as the upper house of parliament was expected to meet in the third week of October.