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.

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

CPSHR (Vancouver) Supports Minority Rights in Pakistan

The Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights (CPSHR) Statement sent on the eve of Vancouver’s March 15 Candle Light vigil.

The Quran says: God forbids you not, with regards to those who fight you not for your faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them; for God loveth those who are just. (Quran, 60:8)

The Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights (CPSHR) stands in solidarity with the struggles of Pakistani people for human rights and the longstanding injustice to non-Muslims in Pakistan.

We condemn the murder of Minister Shahbhaz Bhatti, for speaking out against the Blasphemy Laws, preceded by the assassination of the Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer who had taken up the cause of Aasia Bibi, a poor Christian labourer who is currently imprisoned awaiting death by hanging under the Blasphemy Laws, an injustice which has caused a litany of suffering among Pakistan’s religious minority.

CPSHR believes that people of all religions who suffer oppression and violence must place perpetrators accountable to humanity outside their religious claims. Any beliefs, seemingly based on the Quran, the Bible or on faith or on history, that legitimizes oppression and injustice, is far from its calling.

We add our voice to all those who are campaigning for the repeal of Blasphemy Laws to protect Muslim and non-Muslim lives, minority rights, freedom of speech and democracy.

Stop the persecution of all minorities in Pakistan!

Release Aasia Bibi and all those being victimized by discriminatory laws!

Long live international solidarity!

Shahbaz Bhatti murder: Churches announce 3-day mourning

Shahbaz Bhatti murder: NCJP update
March 2, 2011
by Citizens for Democracy

Churches announce three-day mourning: all missionary schools closed. Sunday March 6 to be observed as a day of prayer and fasting.

March 3: demonstration in Faisalabad , 11 am, starting from Catholic Church Railway Road to Press Club.

The Mirror Update (from the National Commission for Justice and Peace)

Assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti (1968-2011), Federal Minister for Minority Affairs

Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti Federal Minister for Minority Affairs was assassinated by unknown assailants on March 2, 2011, near his residence in I/8 Sector, Islamabad. He received 30 bullets fired by two gunmen with automatic rifle(s). He was rushed to a Hospital by his driver, and pronounced dead by the doctors.

While the Taliban claimed the responsibility, the attack was widely condemned at national and international level. President, Prime minister of Pakistan, Chief Minister Punjab, Muthida Qaumi Movement, Minister for Foreign Affairs Germany, Pakistan Muslim League N, Civil Society of Pakistan and Christian leadership has strongly condemned the assassination of Mr. Bhatti. His funeral is expected to take place on March 4, with the burial in Khushpur, his native village near Faisalabad.

The backdrop of the assassination is the need and demand to bring about changes in the blasphemy laws of Pakistan with their known abuse and discrimination.

After the assassination of Governor Salman Taseer who expressed sympathy for Aasia Bibi a Christian convicted under the blasphemy law, this is another attack on the freedom of expression and conscience of the people of Pakistan and sovereignty of the state. The extremist forces want to silent all enlightened and moderate voices. The country has lost a patriot, and a progressive voice.

Public reaction

* Demonstrations were held in Islamabad, Lahore Karachi, Multan, Quetta and other cities of Pakistan condemning the incident.

* The Churches have announced the closure of Christian schools, etc. throughout the country for three days mourning, while the Sunday (6th March, 2011) will be observed as a day of prayer and fasting.

* There will be a demonstration in Faisalabad on 3rd March, 11 am, starting from Catholic Church Railway Road to Press Club.


Drop Blasphemy Charges Against 17-Year-Old

Student’s Case Underscores Urgent Need to Repeal Abusive Law

(New York, February 2, 2011) – The Pakistani government should immediately drop blasphemy charges against a 17-year-old student and ensure his safe release from detention, Human Rights Watch said today.

The authorities arrested Muhammad Samiullah on January 28, 2011, and charged him under Pakistan’s “blasphemy law,” article 295-C of the criminal code, for allegedly including derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad in his answers on a written school exam in April 2010. According to press reports, police at Shahra Noor Jahan Police Station in Karachi registered a case against Samiullah after receiving a complaint from the chief controller of the intermediate level education board. On January 29, a judicial magistrate, Ehsan A. Malik, ordered Samiullah sent to a juvenile prison pending trial.

“Pakistan has set the standard for intolerance when it comes to misusing blasphemy laws, but sending a schoolboy to jail for something he scribbled on an exam paper is truly appalling,” said Bede Sheppard, senior children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “It’s bad enough that a school official flagged it, but for police and judicial authorities to go ahead and lock up a teenager under these circumstances is mind boggling.”

The police have said that they cannot report exactly what was written in the exam paper as doing so would also amount to blasphemy.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, an international treaty to which Pakistan is a party, guarantees everyone under age 18 the right to freedom of expression, thought, conscience, and religion.

Section 295-C of Pakistan’s penal code makes the death penalty mandatory for blasphemy. Although this case involves a Muslim, Human Rights Watch has documented how the law is often used to persecute and discriminate against religious minorities in Pakistan.

Pakistan has applied the blasphemy law to children before, Human Rights Watch said. On February 9, 1995, Salamat Masih, a Pakistani Christian boy who was then 14 was sentenced to death for blasphemy by a lower court in Lahore, Pakistan, for allegedly writing derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad on the wall of a mosque. He was also sentenced to two years’ hard labor and fined. Masih was acquitted on February 23, 1995, because the court found that he was, in fact, illiterate. Masih then fled the country out of concerns for his safety. Justice Arif Iqbal Bhatti, who acquitted Masih, was assassinated in his chambers at the Lahore High Court in 1997. The assassin, who was subsequently arrested, claimed to have murdered the judge as revenge for acquitting Masih.

Hundreds of people have been charged under section 295-C since it was added to the penal code in 1986 by Gen. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the military ruler at that time. In 2009, authorities charged scores of people under the law, including at least 50 members of the Ahmadiyya religious community. Many of those charged remain in prison.

Pakistani and international human rights organizations have long called for the repeal of the blasphemy law. The law has come under renewed scrutiny in recent months as a consequence of a death sentence imposed on November 8, 2010, on Aasia Bibi, an illiterate farmhand from Sheikhupura district in Punjab province.

Extremists responded to government attempts to pardon Aasia Bibi with a campaign of intimidation, violence, and threats against critics of the law. On January 5, Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province, was assassinated, and the man charged with the killing said he had committed the crime because Taseer had called the blasphemy law a “black law.” Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s former information minister who in November proposed a parliamentary bill to amend the law, has also received death threats, which Pakistan’s government has ignored.

“While Pakistan’s government keeps up the mantra that it will not allow ‘misuse’ of the law, government inaction has only emboldened extremists,” Sheppard said. “Until this law is repealed, it will be used to brutalize religious minorities, children, and other vulnerable groups.”

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on children’s right issues, please visit:

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Pakistan, please visit:

For more information, please contact:
In London, Brad Adams (English): +44-7908-728-333 (mobile)
In Washington, DC, Sophie Richardson (English, Mandarin): +1-202-612-4341; or +1-917-721-7473 (mobile)
In New York, Bede Sheppard (English) +1-917-664-3727 (mobile)

No one has the right to term someone else a ‘blasphemer’

Press Statement: No one has the right to term someone else a ‘blasphemer’

Feb 2, 2011: Citizens for Democracy (CFD), an umbrella group of professional groups, NGOs, trade unions, student unions, political parties and individuals, expresses alarm at the growing trend to accuse individuals of ‘blasphemy’ – an accusation that in this current climate has become an incitement to violence and even murder.

The assassination of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, and the orchestrated glorification of his murderer, has created an atmosphere of great insecurity in the country.

Those who have glorified the assassin as a ‘ghazi’ or hero are now using violence and threats of violence against those who term the slain Punjab Governor a ‘shaheed’ or martyr.

We demand that the murderer be tried according to law, and that those threatening violence also be dealt with according to law.

We believe that each citizen has the right to view or term anyone as a ‘ghazi’ or a ‘shaheed’ without fear of reprisals.

No one has the right to term anyone else a blasphemer or ‘gustakh’ – especially publicly – as such accusations have become an incitement to violence and murder.

Those who support such accusations are equally guilty of inciting violence and murder – whether they be senators, newspapers, television anchors and so-called ‘religious personalities’.

We urge all political parties, parliamentarians and senators to take a clear stand on this issue: No citizen has the right to cast aspersions at the faith and beliefs of any other citizen of Pakistan or to term someone else a ‘blasphemer’.

All such allegations will be viewed as incitements to violence and murder and may be proceeded against in a court of law.

From: Citizens for Democracy – a coalition of professional organisations, trade unions, political parties, non-government organisations and individuals including: Professional Organisations Mazdoor Federations & Hari Joint Committee (POJAC), an umbrella organisation including: 1. Sindh High Court Bar Association; 2. Pakistan Medical Association (PMA); 3. All Pakistan Newspaper Employees Confederation (APNEC); 4. Mutahida Labour Federation; 5. Karachi Union of Journalists; 6. Pakistan Workers Federation; 7. All Pakistan Trade Union Federation (APTUF); 8. All Pakistan Clerk Association; 9. Democratic Labour Union State Bank of Pakistan; 10. UBL Workmen Union (CBA); 11. National Bank Trade Union Federation; 12. Karachi Bar Association; 13. Pakistan Nursing Federation; 14. National Trade Union Federation; 15. Sindh Hari Committee; 16. Govt. Sec. Teachers Association; 17. Pakistan Hotel And Restaurant Workers Federation; 18. Mehran Mazdoor Federation; 19. All Sindh Primary Teachers Association; 20. Sindh Professor Lecturer Association; 21. Malir Bar Association, Karachi; 22. Pakistan Trade Union Federation (PTUF); 23. Railway Workers Union Open Line (cba) Workshop; 24. Mehran Railway Employees Welfare Association; 25. All Pakistan Trade Unions Organisations; besides other CFD members and endorsing organisations: 26. Awami Party; 27. Labour Party Pakistan (LPP); 28. Progressive Youth Front (PYF); 29. Communist Party Pakistan (CPP); 30. Peace and Solidarity Council; 31. Pakistan Institute of Labour, Education & Research (Piler); 32. Action Committee for Human Rights; 33. Dalit Front; 34. National NCommission for Justice and Peace (CJP); 35. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP); 36. Caritas; 37. Aurat Foundation; 38. Women¹s Action Forum (WAF); 39. People¹s Resistance; 40. Sindh Awami Sangat; 41. National Organisation of Working Committees; 42. Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF); 43. Child and Labour Rights Welfare Organisation; 44. Progressive Writers Association (PWA); 45. Port Workers Federation; 46. Shirkat Gah; 47. Pakistan Peace Coalition (PPC); 48. Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA); 49. Sanjan Nagar Public Education Trust (SNPET); 50. Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network (PDSN); 51. Sindh Democratic Forum (SDF); 52. SAP-Pakistan; 53. AwazCDS-Pakistan; 54. GCAP-Pakistan; 55. Home Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF); 56. Labour Education Foundation (LEF); 57. Progressive Youth Forum; 58. National Students¹ Federation (NSF); 59. The Researchers; 60. Tehrik-e-Niswan; 61. Democratic Commission for Human Development (DCHD); 62. Crises Support Group of Residents for Defence and Clifton, Karachi; 63. Baaghi: A blog for secular Pakistan; 64. Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party (CMKP); 65. Ansar Burney Trust International; 66. Viewpoint International; 67. Pakistan Youth Alliance

Citizens For Democracy

PAKISTAN: Involvement of Army and Judiciary in Disappeared Person Cases

January 25, 2011

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

PAKISTAN: Army officers acknowledged that a disappeared person was in their custody but the courts failed to recover him

The case of the disappearance of a master tailor exposes how the army is involved and the weaknesses of the judicial system

The Asian Human Rights Commission has received the details of the saga of disappearance of a master tailor who was arrested on two occasions by army personnel and how since October 2001 his whereabouts are unknown. The high officials of the Pakistan army including Corps Commander of Balochistan province, a major general, the governor of the province and above all of them, the chief of the Inter Services Intelligence agency (ISI) had confessed on the holy Quran in 2003 that the victim was in the custody of the ISI and that he would be released after the investigation.

The Judicial Commission to probe the cases of missing persons has also submitted a report to the Supreme Court of Pakistan that Mr. Bangulzai, the master tailor, was in the custody of secret services of Pakistan.

The dilemma is that since 2001 to date, the higher courts, the governments of the federation and Balochistan have failed to recover him because of the involvement of the army and its intelligence agencies in his disappearance.

Mr. Ali Asghar Bangulzai 50, the son of Ghulam Nabi was arrested the first time by secret services on June 1, 2000 from his tailoring shop. After 14 days he was released. After his release it was found that he had lost his memory because of the severe torture he had endured. He could not even recognise his own house where he was born. After his recovery he revealed to his family that he was kept in a torture cell at the basement of army’s Kulli camp situated at Quetta cantonment. During his confinement he was kept blindfolded at all times; his hands were cuffed and he was frequently suspended by the wrists by officials of ISI. This is according to his family members whom he later told them. After his release for almost one year he was not able to run his tailoring shop.

Mr. Bangulzai was the resident of Chaki Shahwani, Sariab Road, Quetta, capital of Balochistan province. His tailor shop was in walking distance from his home. The army was suspicious that many people were visiting his shop and that he must be involved in militant activities.

Again, on October 18, 2001 Bangulzai was arrested along with his friend Mohammad Iqbal by men who came in army vehicles. Iqbal was released after 22 days he told Bangulzai’s family members that he was in an army torture cell. The family tried to contact the local officials and army command office for his whereabouts but they refused to meet the family. In early 2002, a constitutional petition was filed in the Balochistan high court, during hearing Mr. Iqbal recorded his statement that Bangulzai was in Kulli Army camp. He also took part in a press conference in Quetta Press Club with Bangulzai family members with regard to his arrest .The family members also submitted an application to SHO (Station head officer) Sariab Police Station with a request to lodge an FIR (First information report) about his illegal arrest and disappearance but the police refused to file the FIR because of the involvement of military intelligence agencies. The family of the victim also filed an applic ation before the High Court to order police to file the FIR but the court could not help the family.

On April 27, 2002 family members of Bangulzai met the then Major General Abdul Qadir Baloch, who was Corp Commander of the province to inquire about the whereabouts of the Bagulzai. The family was given assurance that they would be informed about his whereabouts. The Corps Commander sent two officers from military intelligence to the house of victim on May 15, 2002 who told the family that Bangulzai was safe and in the custody of the ISI. As the interrogation is completed he would be released but officials refused to allow the family members to meet him.

In the meantime the family members in desperation tried to meet members of the parliament. They were able to meet Mr. Hafiz Hussain Ahmad MNA (Member of National Assembly) who took the family members to meet with the head of ISI (Inter services intelligence) Baluchistan, Brigadier Siddique. During the meeting Brigadier called Colonel Bangush and asked him to bring the file of Bangulzai. After seeing the file Brigadier Siddique congratulated the family and said that Banguzai was in their custody. During different meetings the family members of Bangulzai insisted that they wanted to meet with him but every time they were told that there was no need as he would be released soon.

On October 4, 2003 Brigadier Siddique asked the family members of the victim to provide clothes for him because all arrangements had been made for his release.

For the whole one year family members waited for his release and then they adopted the peaceful protest. Bangulzai’s children left their studies and went on a token hunger strike camp in front of Quetta Press Club for the safe recovery of their father and to record their peaceful protest. The camp was there for one year.

On July 14, 2005 the Baluchistan High Court on the pressure from lawyers and civil society took suo motto notice and directed the Superintendent of Police (SP) of Chilton Town, Mr. Wazeer khan, to investigate and register an FIR for Bangulzai’s disappearance by the state intelligence agencies. During the hearing seven persons recorded their statements that army personnel had arrested him and that had assured them many times he would be released from army custody. As usual on the pressure from army Sariab Police Station Quetta refused to register the FIR.

On March 2006 Hafiz Hussain Ahmad, the member of national assembly, visited the token hunger strike camp of family members of Bangulzai and told the local news papers representatives that the head of ISI (Inter services intelligence) Brigadier Siddique has himself acknowledge before him that Bangulzai is in their custody and also assured him that he will be released soon. Hafiz deplored the attitude of ISI officers for lying and misguiding the people.

On February 2007 the family members of Bangulzai submitted a petition in Supreme Court of Pakistan, in which Hafiz Hussain Ahmad’s written statement was submitted in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

In continuation of their efforts the family members filed a petition in the Supreme Court of Pakistan in February 2007 where Mr. Hafiz Hussain Ahmad, the MNA, has submitted his written statement that ISI had assured him several times that Bangulzai is in their custody. The Supreme Court then ordered on January 31, 2010 that the FIR of his disappearance should be filed. The court also directed the police to file the FIRs of other disappeared persons also.

The Joint Investigation Team to probe the cases of disappeared persons, formed by the government of Pakistan, has also submitted a report to the Supreme Court that according to the testimonies of the eye witnesses and other supportive statements Bangulzai was in the custody of state intelligence agencies.

A Judicial commission to probe the cases of the missing persons, formed by the Federal Government on the instruction from Supreme Court has also came to the conclusion in the March 2010 that after recording all the witnesses that Bangulzai was arrested by the Pakistan secret services and that he was in its custody. The report was duly submitted to the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

During the hearing of the Judicial Commission, Mr.Hafiz Hussain Ahmad (MNA) has recorded his statement that the Brigadier Siddique, head of the ISI in Balochistan province, has acknowledge to him that Bangulzai was in their custody and soon he would be released. Mohammad Iqbal who was arrested with Bangulzai also recorded his statement that they were arrested by secret services and that Bangulzai was in their custody. The other witnesses as well recorded their statements that Brigadier has several times accepted in front of them, and Corps commander Qadir Baloch sent his two (MI) (Military intelligence) personnel to the victim’s family and said that he was in the custody of an Intelligence Agency.

It is appalling that 11 years after his arbitrary arrest and incommunicado detention by the intelligence agencies Bangulzai’s whereabouts are still unknown. None of the institutions and officials who were involved in his disappearance has been put on trial despite the fact that they have admitted his detention 11 years ago! Judges hearing disappearances cases have stated in court that any intelligence officer involved in the disappearance of an individual should be placed on trial but this has never happened. Not one has ever been punished.

In the presence of all the evidence that he was illegally arrested and kept incommunicado in an army torture cell by the ISI, the weakness of the country’s justice system is blatantly evident before the powerful military and security agencies. His disappearance by the military is contravention of the basic rights guaranteed by the constitution of Pakistan for example:

Article 4 — The right of individuals to be dealt with by law, Article 10–safe guards as to arrest and detention — the arrested person should be produced within 24 of his arrest before the magistrate, Article 14 — no person should be tortured, Article 15 — freedom of movement and Article 25- all citizens are equal before the law.

The case of Bangulzai is a clear demonstration that the laws of the country do not apply to the military and intelligence agencies. When it comes to providing justice to the ordinary citizen in the face of these institutions the judiciary remains silent.

The Asian Human Rights Commission urges that Mr. Bangulzai should be released immediately from the captivity by the army and its intelligence agencies and that the officials responsible for this arrest and disappearance are prosecuted. Furthermore, the compensation must be paid to his family for the ordeal suffered by him and his family members.

Asian Human Rights Commission
#701A Westley Square,
48 Hoi Yuen Road, Kwun Tong, Kowloon,
Hongkong S.A.R.
Tel: +(852) – 2698-6339
Fax: +(852) – 2698-6367

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Pakistan 2010: 19 media workers killed, 327 Wounded, 1500 retrenched

Islamabad, January 1, 2011

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has termed the year 2010 as one of the worst in the History of Pakistan which ushered into a grave yard for media related employees as 19 media persons lost their lives in target killing, bomb blasts, floods and suicidal attacks which is highest in this year in whole world.

According to the PFUJ as there was no protection of life, media persons continued to work under stress, and at least 19 media related employees lost their lives while at least 327 were wounded, tortured, and threatened by government agencies in Baluchistan. Over 238 media persons were implicated in criminal cases.

The year also witnessed record retrenchments of over 1500 media related employees including 850 media practitioners in the electronic and print media of Pakistan, without any legal formalities and payments of the legitimate dues.

The PFUJ further pointed out that despite heavy casualties of the media persons during performing the professional assignments the media houses have not taken any measures for their safety and training.

The brutality of the media tycoons can be judged from this hard fact alone that even cell phones and petty equipments are duty insured but they never bothered to realize the importance of human life which is far costlier than any material objects; and, did not care to provide insurance to media persons working in the hostile environments in the conflict zones.

The PFUJ further contended that the year 2010 proved another deadly year for media practitioners of Pakistan who were callously deprived by media owners of legitimate and fair wages, job security, life insurance, training, capacity building, while they were increasingly targeted by terrorists and pressure groups.

Highlighting ‘the plight of Pakistani media persons’ in the main representative body of the print and electronic media, the PFUJ observed during the whole preceeding year, media persons in Pakistan remained under clutches of ‘media owners’ and were forced to work without basic amenities including provision of clean drinking water, medical facilities, life insurance, security gadgets, wash-rooms, an unbiased gender policy, training for working in a hostile environment round-the-clock while media persons were employed on contract basis and deprived of benefits of provident fund, gratuity, pension, and no increase was made in their wages since July 1996.

‘A review of the year suggested that like the preceding years, from 1996 onwards, media persons were continuously denied their legitimate benefits by the owners, including a conducive working environment, security of job, wages under a government announced wage board and an unbiased gender policy, and the contract system introduced in media organisations by the media owners for media persons was not abolished’, the PFUJ asserted.

The PFUJ further pointed out that despite ever increasing incidents of killing, kidnapping, torture and intimidating, the media persons working in all parts of Baluchistan no remedial measures have been adopted by the concerned agencies to ensure their protection which is a constitutional as well as obligatory international protocol of the government.

Those killed during the proeceeding year include:
1. Hameed Marwat, TV artist (Quetta)
2. Ashiq Ali Mangi, reporter Mehran TV channel (Sindh)
3. Malik Arif, Samaa TV Cameraman (Quetta)
4. Azmat Ali, Correspondent Samaa (Orakzai Agency)
5. Ghulam Rasool Birhamani, reporter Hyderabad-based Daily Sindhu
6. Imran Ashfaq, correspondent Daily Assas (Karachi)
7. Shahid Square, correspondent Daily Assas (Karachi)
8. Faiz Mohammad Khan Sasoli, President Khuzadar Press Club
9. Abdul Haque, Security Guard, PBC Khuzdar (Baluchistan)
10. Asma Anwar of Nowshera
11. Mohammad Sarwar, Aaj TV crew driver (Quetta)
12. Cameraman Ejaz Ahmed Raisani (Quetta)
13. Misri Khan, senior journalists of Hangu (Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa)
14. Mujeebur Rehman Saddiqui, senior correspondent Daily Pakistan
15. Mehar Mohammad Akmal, Reporter Punjab TV, Daily Asas
16. Abdul Hameed Hayatan, (Balochistan)
17. Altaf Chandio, President Mirpurkhas Press Club (Sindh)
18. Abdul Wahab, Express News (Mohmand Agency)
19. Pervez Khan, Waqt TV (Mohmand Agency)
20. Mohammad Khan Sasoli, correspondent Baluchistan Times, President Khuzdar Press Club.

The PFUJ said that ironically none of the killers of media practitioners who were killed after 9/11 were brought to justice so far which has aggravated the miseries of the deceased families as well as the media community. Moreover, majority of the media practitioners and media related employees who lost their lives were not compensated at par with the security personals.

“Situation in the Baluchistan province and Tribal Belts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhawa is very volatile for the media practitioners and a still more painful aspect of the same is that in both areas which are ridden by insurgency for almost over a decade, ninety-nine percent media practitioners of the same areas are neither regularly paid employees nor they are being provided any training for safety in the wake of reporting which further aggravated the safety of the life of the media persons”, said Shamsul Islam Naz, SG PFUJ.

The trend of kidnapping and torturing even killing has also attained a dangerous trend in these areas by unknown persons as well as security agencies yet there is none in the country to ensure the safety of the media persons.

Secretary Shamsul Islam Naz
Cellular +92(0)300 8665523 . +92(0)321 8665523

8000 people still missing in Pakistan

Missing Persons a Critical Scio-Political issue of Pakistan

Right to life with liberty and dignity is one of the fundamental human rights. Human rights are universal and all human being are entitled for all human rights (civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights) regardless of cast, tribe religion or social and political affiliation. Since the inception of state of Pakistan authoritarianism, centralism and religious nationalism have dominated the psyche of rulers. Ruling elite of Pakistan has tried to evolve a monolithic nationalism by hook and crook that has entailed enormous conflicts between the centre and provinces. Sidelining the diverse national groups in the form of Balochs, Sindhis, Pashtuns, Seraikis and Punjabis, the establishment has carved out amorphous Pakistani nationalism derived from one religion. In the first three decades of the existence of the country one of the provinces (now Bangladesh) has seceded due to this obduracy but people at the helm of affairs of the state are not ready to pay attention to this.

Apart from Bengalis, who opted for separate homeland, various ethno-national movements in Balochistan, Sindh, Pashtunkhuwa and Kashmir have challenged this state imposed nationalism. These movements underpinned by different ideological leanings have one commonality that they resist the centralism and authoritarianism that strip them of their respective identity, history, culture and resources. As it happens with the political movements that they remain active and at some point of time they become latent but the questions stirred up in the minds of masses get manifested in various forms of resistance.

Balochistan and Sindh has always been hub of such political movements. From the beginning of this country till now, Balochistan has fought around five insurgencies with the centre to obtain its socio-political and economic rights. Present insurgency started in the Mushraf era (2005) is still going on, which has caused innumerable disappearances of political workers affiliated with various nationalist Baloch political parties. Time and again Baloch leaders, intelligentsia, journalists and masses have indicted spy agencies of Pakistan that they have picked up the political workers. Several leaders and political workers have been killed in cold blooded manner in which the murder of veteran Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, Balach Marri, Ghulam Muhammad Baloch and Habib Jalib are significant. The media is apparently muzzled on this issue and it is almost clear to the masses in Pakistan and world at large that dismissal Chief Justice of Pakistan by Musharaf was precipitated by the active pursuance of the cases of disappeared workers that irked the general. Even though chief justice of Pakistan has been restored, the families of disappeared people of have yet to see the justice and get their dear ones released.

Incidences of disappearance and mysterious killings are continuing but institution of the state such as courts and parliament seem to be silent on these issues. On the other hand the phenomenon of disappearance has caused ambiguities in terms of determining the number of disappeared people; however Baloch leaders claim it in thousands, whereas police records are mum on this. It has intensified the conflict. Certain political parties and armed resistance groups within Balochistan have openly started demanding separation from the Pakistan that is why federal government has recently declared some political parties and armed groups as proscribed. In this state of affairs it has become difficult for political workers to continue their political activities so civil and political liberties in the Balochistan are completely denied and people are living under ever looming fear of being picked up, disappeared and killed.

Simultaneously agencies have been involved to disappear several political workers in Sindh in which cases of Asif Baladi, Dr. Safdar Sarki were significant during 2006-7. A number of political activists and common people are disappeared over the period of time and some of them have been found killed in which murder of Saeed Kalhoro during 2005 found wide coverage in local dailies. Disappearances are taking place in various cities and particularly in areas close to Indian border but again media is not reporting such cases due to the reign of terror being perpertrated on anyone, who speaks on this issue. In the same vein people have been picked up from Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa and Kashmir but none is coming forward to take up this issue and hold the agencies accountable.

Agencies are acting against law of land by denying people to exercise their basic human rights of association, freedom of speech and recourse to legal aid in case of being implicated in any case. The families of disappeared persons are suffering since long and their despair does not seem ending any time soon. The issue of disappearance has assumed enormous proportion, which require from human rights organizations within and outside of the country to raise the voice against this highhandedness on the part of state agencies and hold the state accountable for the denial of rights to the people of Balochistan and other provinces. In this regard it is essential to bring political parties and social movements in the fold to wage college struggle across the country to combat centralism and authoritarianism that a way-forward can be achieved in this regard. As per different media reports thousands of people particularly political activists have been kind napped and abducted by different security and intelligence reports even in Balochistan only more than 8000 people are disappeared.

Round Table Conference
On Dec 10, 2010 On the occasion of international human rights day the International Institute for Research and Education, Asian Human Rights Commission and Labour Education Foundation jointly organized a round table conference titled “The tragedy of Missing Persons-Role of State and Responsibility of Civil Society”. The conference focused on, ongoing burning issue of Missing persons.

Conference Objectives
1. To sensitize the human rights and political activists to take this issue as a priority and constantly raise it at different forums/levels (local, national and international) and build a social movement against the worst human rights violations and political victimization of human rights and political activists in the country and Kashmir
2. To influence and build pressure on government and other stakeholders to play their role for the recovery and release of the missing people

A Large number of activists from different walks of life, especially political parties, human rights organizations, Lawyer association and trade unions, attended the conference. The conference was moderated by Nisar Shah Advocate, Secretary General LPP and Director IIRE. On the opening of the conference Sohail Ahmed a human rights activist introduced the issue of Missing persons.

Sohail Ahmed mentioned in his presentation that there is no proper data of missing persons available but according to the different sources in all over the country around eight thousand peoples are missing four thousand of them from Baluchistan and four thousands from Khyber Paktoonkwa, Punjab, Sindh and Kashmir. He also mentioned that a large number of missing persons are political activists from Baluchistan and were picked up by intelligence agencies.

Waleed Bloch, representative of Bloch Student Organization (Azad), appreciated the initiative of conference on missing persons, he mentioned that the figures of missing persons from Baluchistan are very high, he said that the persons outside the Baluchistan cannot imagine, how much the political victimization the Bloch youth are facing. He said that Baluchistan had become a hub of intelligence agencies network. Waleed said that sixty years have passed but we are still facing state repression, military and civil bureaucracy want to suppress our voice but know the Bloch youth are on the way of revolt which will lead Baluchistan towards a revolution.

Wajid Ali Wajid representative of United Kashmir Peoples National Party said that a large number of Kashmiri youths are still missing after the Pakistani intelligence agencies’ and religious fundamentalist waged a holy jihadies in Indian administered Kashmir in 1988. He said that his party raised the voice against this proxy war but had to face the consequences. The central chairman of party Sardar Shoukat Ali Kashmiri was picked up by intelligence agencies and tortured about nine month in hidden place and we are still facing the political victimization.

Professor Khalique Ahmed the spokesperson of All Parties National Alliance said the freedom of speech is fundamental right of every person but unfortunately the state wants to revoke this right of citizens. They don’t want to listen to even a single word against their policies. People are facing the state-sponsored repression and terrorism. He said that it is easy for intelligence agencies to accuse someone of being unpatriotic and keep him under custody at any hidden place.

Amna Massod Janjua chairperson Defance of human rights, an NGO working on missing persons, said that her husband Masood janjua was picked up five year ago, and he is still missing. She said that her children are still waiting for his safe return. She said that she is very thankful to the organization which organized the event.

Malik Maqbool Awan, leader of PTCL workers ittehad, said that Pakistan has ratified a number of international human rights conventions and declarations but nobody can exercise these rights independently. He said PTCL workers are facing the brutality of state. We are strictly against the privatization of PTCL. The negative impact of PTCL privatization can be felt now. Thousands of workers have been rendered jobless and the managements has withdrawn a number of facilities that workers were enjoying previously. Privatization also affected consumers and there has an increase in line rents and other services of the organization. When the trade union leaders their raised voice against the sacking of workers and withdrawal of facilities, the management of PTCL lodged fake cases. The management views trade unionist as terrorists and it has lodged a number of cases against the workers which fall under the Anti- Terrorism Act. He strongly supported the recovery campaign for missing persons.

Representatives of Labor Party Pakistan, Islamabad Bar Association, Human Rights Movement, Kashmir National Party, Kashmir National Conference, Jammu Kashmir Peoples National Party, Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Batta Mazdoor union and Progressive Youth Front also attended the conference. The gathering put forward the following demands:

1. All missing persons should be released unconditionally

2. If Government has any charges against any person, he should be produced before courts.

3. Compensation should be paid to the all involuntary disappeared persons’ families.

4. Those who are responsible for this disappearance should be trialed by the courts.

The conference decided to form a joint working group to continue the campaign for the recovery of missing persons.

Azhar Iqbal Secretary LPP Rawalpindi/Islamabad concluded the conference with vote of thanks.

Report provided by Nisar Shah Advocate
Director IIRE Islamabad Cell No: +92-300-2147960

Conference organized by
International Institute for Research and Education Islamabad (IIRE) Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
Labour Education Foundation (LEF)

Aafia Siddiqui: WILL US Attorney General Call for a Mis-trial?

Letter to US Attorney general from Yvonne Ridley


Dear Mr Holder,

I am a journalist and film-maker who has been investigating the rather intriguing case of Dr Aafia Siddiqui since her disappearance with her three children in 2003.

Can you please tell me why a Pakistani citizen, who allegedly carried out a crime in Afghanistan, was charged, tried and sentenced in a US court?

Not only did the alleged crime happen in another country, but Ms Siddiqui was renditioned without formal extradition papers and without correct consular access according to official US records.

No other citizen, from anywhere else in the world, has ever been put on trial in a US criminal court for the attempted murder of US soldiers although quite clearly, from the horrific statistics coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan the death toll and injuries of US soldiers is now running in excess of tens of thousands.

Can we assume from this that the US is now in full occupation, and therefore in control of sovereignty of Afghanistan or did Judge Richard Berman simply make a mistake by accepting such a case in to his court?

I have copied in Lord Nazir Ahmed from the British House of Lords in to this email since he has taken a particularly close interest in the whole case.

I look forward to a response soonest.

Kind regards
Yvonne Ridley
First Witness Productions Ltd.

86 Years for Aafia Siddiqui

23 September 2010

On the afternoon of 23rd September 2010 Pakistani neuroscientist and mother of three Aafia Siddiqui was sentenced to 86 years on five charges by Judge Berman in a Manhattan courtroom.

The Justice for Aafia Coalition released the following statement:

“We are deeply saddened by the harsh sentence passed on Dr Aafia Siddiqui by Judge Richard Berman today. At such a difficult time, our thoughts and prayers are with Aafia’s family, who have been separated from her since March 2003.

It has now been over seven and a half years since Dr Siddiqui was abducted with her three young children by Pakistani and American agencies. She has since been separated from her children and family, detained in a series of secret prisons and physically and psychologically abused by her captors. Following a blatantly prejudiced and unfair trial in which little conclusive evidence of her guilt was presented, she was found guilty.

We hoped that Judge Berman would have opened his eyes to the manifest injustice that has been committed against Dr Siddiqui and repatriated her to her country. But it seems that Judge Berman was adamant in his position despite the enormous level of public support for Aafia. Last week, Iran, in a goodwill gesture, released Sarah Shourd, an American woman accused of espionage, a crime against the state punishable by death. We are disappointed that the United States has been unable to exercise a similar degree of mercy and leniency in the case of another innocent woman who stands accused of crimes against its government.

While we are disappointed by Judge Berman’s decision, we condemn in the strongest terms the stance of the Pakistani government towards this beloved daughter of the nation. While we must never look to the wolf for protection, we expect the shepherd to care for his flock. The Pakistani government has from the outset been complicit in Aafia’s disappearance and detention, and has displayed nothing but contempt for its people and dignity through its cowardly stance in requesting her repatriation. They are a stain upon the honourable reputation of the country.

JFAC will continue the struggle for justice for Dr Aafia to try and secure her freedom and unite her with her family and loved ones. We remind Aafia’s supporters that this struggle may seem tiresome but as Imam Ahmad advised his student, we will only find rest when our feet set foot in paradise.”

Notes for editor:
1. The Justice for Aafia Coalition is an umbrella body for a number of organizations, groups, and activists created in February 2010 to campaign for the release and return of Aafia Siddiqui and for the opening of a full investigation into the circumstances of her detention.

2. Aafia Siddiqui’s lawyers maintain that she was abducted by the Pakistani and US agents along with her three children in 2003 and rendered to Afghanistan where she was detained by American forces for over five years. Siddiqui claims she was abused and tortured throughout her detention. She was convicted in February 2010 of allegedly firing on US soldiers while in custody in what appears to have been a grave miscarriage of justice. Her son Ahmed was released in September 2008 from Afghan custody, and her daughter Maryam was eventually recovered in April 2010. For full details of the case, please visit

3. For media enquiries contact