Status of World’s Women – Report 2011-2012

“Progress of the World’s Women 2011-2012: In Pursuit of Justice”‏ by UN Women.

By Myra Imran

Raising numerous serious questions regarding lacunas in the prevalent justice systems around the world, the UN Women launched its first major report titled ‘Progress of the World’s Women 2011-2012 — In Pursuit of Justice’ in Pakistan on Friday.

Presenting a comparative analysis of global statistics, the first major report following the organisation’s launch in early 2011, mentions that justice remains out of the reach of millions of the world’s women. It says Domestic violence is outlawed in 125 countries of the world but globally, 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not considered a crime.

Laws based on custom or religion, which exist alongside state legislation, frequently restrict women’s rights within the family, in marriage, divorce and the right to inherit property. “Much has been achieved in the private and public spheres in the last century. Yet discrimination and gender injustice remain prevalent around the world.”

The report says that 117 countries have equal pay laws yet, in practice, women are still paid up to 30 per cent less than men in some countries and women still do more unpaid domestic and caring work than men in every region of the world.

It points out that globally, 53 per cent of working women — 600 million in total — are in vulnerable jobs, such as self-employment, domestic work or unpaid work for family businesses, which often lack the protection of labour laws.

Highlighting another such dimension, the report says that by 2011, at least 52 countries had made marital rape a criminal offence. And yet, over 2.6 billion women live in countries where it has not been explicitly criminalized.

It mentions that in countries where there have been steep increases in women’s representation in Parliaments, progressive laws on women’s rights have often followed yet there are still less than 30 per cent of women in parliament in the vast majority of countries. It further mentions that donors spend US$4.2 billion annually on aid for justice reform, but only 5 per cent of this spending specifically targets women and girls.

The report also recognises the positive progress made and says that 139 countries and territories now guarantee gender equality in their constitutions but it also shows that too often, women continue to experience injustice, violence and inequality in their home and working lives.

To ensure justice becomes a reality for all women, UN Women calls on governments to repeal laws that discriminate against women, support innovative justice services, put women on the frontline of justice delivery and invest in justice system that can respond to women’s need.

It stresses the need to ensure that legislation protects women from violence and inequality in the home and the workplace and demands innovative justice services such as one-stop shops, legal aid and specialised courts, to ensure women can access the justice to which they are entitled.

The report says that across the board, existing laws are too often inadequately enforced, the report finds. Many women shrink away from reporting crimes due to social stigma and weak justice systems. The costs and practical difficulties of seeking justice can be prohibitive — from travel to a distant court, to paying for expensive legal advice. The result is high drop-out rates in cases where women seek redress, especially on gender-based violence.

The thought provoking and colourful launching of report was attended by a large number of women right activists, representatives of civil society organisations, lawyer’s associations and law enforcing agencies. Speaker National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza was the chief guest on the occasion.

Others who spoke at the event included Federal Ombudsperson for Harassment Act Mussarat Hilali, President Lawyers for Human Rights Zia Awan, AIG Islamabad Ehsan Sadiq and Country Director UN Women Alice Shakleford.

The speakers stressed the need for collaborative efforts to create an enabling environment for women in pursuit justice. They pointed out that enough legislation has been formulated in Pakistan for women in past few decades but the real issue is the effective implementation of these laws. They also demanded elimination of discriminatory laws.

Besides formal speeches made by the guests, the event included an interactive session with the stakeholders and poetry recitation by UN Gender Expert Salman Asif who read some of the very fine verses by eminent social worker Bilqees Edhi urging everyone to feel for women in distress and help them.

Another unique feature was the audio of inspiring stories of women survivors played for the guests. These women faced extreme forms of violence against women but were brave enough to fight back and become a role model for others.

Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza said that no system can claim to be democratic and participatory if it fails to include and address the issues concerning its women. She said that women’s pursuit for justice stretches back beyond recorded time to the myths and legends told by ancient seers in all cultures and civilisations.

“Societies were always hesitant in accepting them on a par with their men. It is high time that we make our society realize that gender roles, inequities and power imbalances are not a ‘natural’ result of biological differences, but determined by the systems and cultures in which we live.”

She highlighted the efforts of Pakistan People’s Part to bring women in the lime light at every level. She said that in the last three years of its 5-year tenure, the women Parliamentarians ran 60 per cent of the business in the National Assembly and the government has passed 77 bills in which more than a dozen relate to women and children.

“Laws hold a critical balance in shaping societies although they alone cannot bring a change in mindsets. No government, no matter how democratic in nature, can bring about a revolution on its own if it is not backed by a strong and committed public opinion,” she opined.

She said that Pakistan will hold the seventh meeting of the Women Speakers of Parliaments around the world in November this year, where the women speakers will focus on making parliaments more gender sensitive. At the Saarc Speakers Conference in Delhi, she has also proposed the creation of a Saarc Parliament which could allow the Parliamentarians of the region to jointly address issues of social injustice, the speeding up of the MDGs and the realization of an equity-based gender-balanced mutually beneficial Saarc community.

Saturday, July 30, 2011
National Commission on the Status of Women-Pakistan
Government of Pakistan
Phone: +92-51-9224875,9209885

Tariq Ali on Salman Taseer Shaheed by

Salman Taseer Remembered
Tariq Ali

Mumtaz Hussain Qadri smiled as he surrendered to his colleagues after shooting Salman Taseer, the governor of the Punjab, dead. Many in Pakistan seemed to support his actions; others wondered how he’d managed to get a job as a state bodyguard in the carefully screened Elite Force. Geo TV, the country’s most popular channel, reported, and the report has since been confirmed, that ‘Qadri had been kicked out of Special Branch after being declared a security risk,’ that he ‘had requested that he not be fired on but arrested alive if he managed to kill Taseer’ and that ‘many in Elite Force knew of his plans to kill Salman Taseer.’

Qadri is on his way to becoming a national hero. On his first appearance in court, he was showered with flowers by admiring Islamabad lawyers who have offered to defend him free of charge. On his way back to prison, the police allowed him to address his supporters and wave to the TV cameras. The funeral of his victim was sparsely attended: a couple of thousand mourners at most. A frightened President Zardari and numerous other politicians didn’t show up. A group of mullahs had declared that anyone attending the funeral would be regarded as guilty of blasphemy. No mullah (that includes those on the state payroll) was prepared to lead the funeral prayers. The federal minister for the interior, Rehman Malik, a creature of Zardari’s, has declared that anyone trying to tamper with or amend the blasphemy laws will be dealt with severely. In the New York Times version he said he would shoot any blasphemer himself.

Taseer’s spirited defence of Asiya Bibi, a 45-year-old Punjabi Christian peasant, falsely charged with blasphemy after an argument with two women who accused her of polluting their water by drinking out of the same receptacle, provoked an angry response from religious groups. Many in his own party felt that Taseer’s initiative was mistimed, but in Pakistan the time is never right for such campaigns. Bibi had already spent 18 months in jail. Her plight had been highlighted by the media, women had taken to the streets to defend her and Taseer and another senior politician from the Pakistan Peoples Party, Sherry Rehman, had demanded amendments to the blasphemy laws. Thirty-eight other women have been imprisoned under the same law in recent years and soon after a friendly meeting between Yousaf Gillani, the prime minister, and the leader of the supposedly moderate Jamaat-e-Islami, a member of the latter offered a reward of ten thousand dollars to whoever manages to kill Bibi.

Taseer’s decision to take up Bibi’s case was not made on a whim. He had cleared the campaign with Zardari, much to the annoyance of the law minister, Babar Awan, a televangelist and former militant of the Jamaat-e-Islami. He told journalists he didn’t want the socio-cultural agenda to be hijacked by ‘lunatic mullahs’, raged against governments that had refused to take on fanaticism, and brushed aside threats to his life with disdain. He visited the prison where Bibi was detained – the first time in the history of the Punjab that a governor has gone inside a district jail – and at a press conference declared his solidarity with her. ‘She is a woman who has been incarcerated for a year and a half on a charge trumped up against her five days after an incident where people who gave evidence against her were not even present,’ he told an interviewer. He wanted, he said, ‘to take a mercy petition to the president, and he agreed, saying he would pardon Asiya Bibi if there had indeed been a miscarriage of justice’.

Two weeks after this visit Taseer was dead. I never much cared for his business practices or his political affiliations and had not spoken to him for 20 years, but he was one of my closest friends at school and university and the two of us and the late Shahid Rehman – a gifted and witty lawyer who drank himself to death many moons ago – were inseparable. Some joyful memories came back when I saw his face on TV.

It’s 1960. The country is under a pro-US military dictatorship. All opposition is banned. My parents are away. The three of us – we are 17 years old – are at my place and we decide that something has to be done. We buy some red paint and at about 2 a.m. drive to the Cantonment bridge and carefully paint ‘Yankee Go Home’ on the beautiful whitewashed wall. The next morning we scrub the car clean of all traces of paint. For the next few weeks the city is agog. The story doesn’t appear in the press but everyone is talking about it. In Karachi and Dhaka, where they regard Lahore as politically dead, our city’s stock rises. At college our fellow students discuss nothing else. The police are busy searching for the culprits. We smile and enjoy the fun. Finally they track us down, but as Taseer notes with an edge of bitterness, Shahid’s father is a Supreme Court judge and one of my aunts is married to a general who’s also the minister of the interior, so naturally we all get off with a warning. At the time I almost felt that physical torture might be preferable to being greeted regularly by the general with ‘Hello, Mr Yankee Go Home.’

Two years previously (before the dictatorship) the three of us had organised a demonstration at the US Consulate after reading that an African-American called Jimmy Wilson had been sentenced to death for stealing a dollar. On that occasion Salman, seeing that not many people had turned up, found some street urchins to swell our ranks. We had to stop and explain to them why their chant of ‘Death to Jimmy Wilson’ was wrong. Money changed hands before they were brought into line. Years later, on a London to Lahore flight, I met Taseer by chance and we discussed both these events. He reminded me that the stern US consul had told us he would have us expelled, but his ultra-Lutheranism offended the Catholic Brothers who ran our school and again we escaped punishment. On that flight, more than 20 years ago, I asked him why he had decided to go into politics. Wasn’t being a businessman bad enough? ‘You’ll never understand,’ he said. ‘If I’m a politician as well I can save money because I don’t have to pay myself bribes.’ He was cynical in the extreme, but he could laugh at himself. He died tragically, but for a good cause. His party and colleagues, instead of indulging in manufactured grief, would be better off taking the opportunity to amend the blasphemy laws while there is still some anger at what has taken place. But of course they are doing the exact opposite.

Even before this killing, Pakistan had been on the verge of yet another military takeover. It would make things so much easier if only they could give it another name: military democracy perhaps? General Kayani, whose term as chief of staff was extended last year with strong Pentagon approval, is said to be receiving petitions every day asking him to intervene and ‘save the country’. The petitioners are obviously aware that removing Zardari and replacing him with a nominee of the Sharif brothers’ Muslim League, the PPP’s long-term rivals, is unlikely to improve matters. Petitioning, combined with a complete breakdown of law and order in one or several spheres (suicide terrorism in Peshawar, violent ethnic clashes in Karachi, state violence in Quetta and now Taseer’s assassination), is usually followed by the news that a reluctant general has no longer been able to resist ‘popular’ pressure and with the reluctant agreement of the US Embassy a uniformed president has taken power. We’ve been here before, on four separate occasions. The military has never succeeded in taking the country forward. All that happens is that, instead of politicians, the officers take the cut. The government obviously thinks the threat is serious: some of Zardari’s cronies now speak openly at dinner parties of ‘evidence’ that proves military involvement in his wife Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. If the evidence exists, let’s have a look. Another straw in the wind: the political parties close to the ISI, Pakistan’s main intelligence agency, have withdrawn from the central government, accusing it of callousness and financial malfeasance. True, but hardly novel.

Another necessary prerequisite for a coup is popular disgust with a corrupt, inept and failing civilian government. This has now reached fever pitch. As well as the natural catastrophes that have afflicted the country there are local wars, disappearances, torture, crime, huge price rises in essential goods, unemployment, a breakdown of basic services – all the major cities go without electricity for hours at a stretch and oil lamps are much in demand in smaller towns, which are often without gas and electricity for up to 12 hours. Thanks to the loan conditions recently imposed by the IMF – part of a gear change in the ‘war on terror’ – there have been riots against the rise in fuel prices in several cities. Add to this Zardari’s uncontrollable greed and the irrepressible desire of his minions to mimic their master. Pakistan today is a kleptocracy. There is much talk in Islamabad of the despised prime minister’s neglected wife going on a shopping spree in London last month and finding solace in diamonds, picking up, on her way back home, a VAT rebate in the region of £100,000.

Can it get worse? Yes. And on every front. Take the Af-Pak war. Few now would dispute that its escalation has further destabilised Pakistan, increasing the flow of recruits to suicide bomber command. The CIA’s New Year message to Pakistan consisted of three drone attacks in North Waziristan, killing 19 people. There were 116 drone strikes in 2010, double the number ordered in the first year of the Obama presidency. Serious Pakistani newspapers, Dawn and the News, claim that 98 per cent of those killed in the strikes over the last five years – the number of deaths is estimated to be between two and three thousand – were civilians, a percentage endorsed by David Kilcullen, a former senior adviser to General Petraeus. The Brookings Institution gives a grim ratio of one militant killed for every ten civilians. The drones are operated by the CIA, which isn’t subject to military rules of engagement, with the result that drones are often used for revenge attacks, notably after the sensational Khost bombing of a CIA post in December 2009.

What stops the military from taking power immediately is that it would then be responsible for stopping the drone attacks and containing the insurgency that has resulted from the extension of the war into Pakistan. This is simply beyond it, which is why the generals would rather just blame the civilian government for everything. But if the situation worsens and growing public anger and economic desperation lead to wider street protests and an urban insurgency the military will be forced to intervene. It will also be forced to act if the Obama administration does as it threatens and sends troops across the Pakistan border on protect-and-destroy missions. Were this to happen a military takeover of the country might be the only way for the army to counter dissent within its ranks by redirecting the flow of black money and bribes (currently a monopoly of politicians) into military coffers. Pakistani officers who complain to Western intelligence operatives and journalists that a new violation of sovereignty might split the army do so largely as a way to exert pressure. There has been no serious breach in the military high command since the dismal failure of the 1951 Rawalpindi Conspiracy, the first and last radical nationalist attempt (backed by Communist intellectuals) to seize power within the army and take the country in an anti-imperialist direction. Since then, malcontents in the armed forces have always been rapidly identified and removed. Military perks and privileges – bonuses, land allocations, a presence in finance and industry – play an increasingly important part in keeping the army under control.

Meanwhile, on a visit to Kabul earlier this month, the US homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano, announced that 52 ‘security agents’ were being dispatched to the Af-Pak border to give on the spot training to Afghan police and security units. The insurgents will be delighted, especially since some of them serve in these units, just as they do in Pakistan.

Pointed to by Ijaz Syed



Islamabad, 20th July, 2010

Civil Society Organizations, Peace and Human Rights Activists are once again shocked and outraged at the vigilante killings in Faisalabad of two young men under trial, accused under the infamous Blasphemy Law.

We strongly condemn the absence of law enforcement, the lack of protection to the under trial accused, and the impunity with which the fanatics who carry out extra-judicial killings are allowed to get away with murder – quite literally.

Whether or not 35-year old Sajid and Rashid would ever have received justice is now an academic debate. They are dead, killed by religious intolerance in the prime of their youth, for no fault of their own except the accident of being born Christian in the theocratic Islamic State of Pakistan, where, two and a half years into its five-year rule, the self-professed progressive Government is unwilling or unable to provide its non-Muslim citizens the required protection and security that the Constitution guarantees them; and where the elected Legislature shows neither the political will nor the commitment to repeal the Zia-imposed Blasphemy Laws.

We demand that the Punjab Government should immediately increase security at law courts, prisons, all places of worship, and should particularly provide protection to all non-Muslim Pakistani citizens in view of recent intelligence reports on specific targeting of non-Muslims and Muslim minority sects. We demand that the killers of Sajid and Rashid should be apprehended immediately and dealt with by the full force of the Law, without any leniency or mitigation.

We demand that the federal Ministers for Religious Affairs and Minority Affairs should immediately jointly table a Bill in Parliament to repeal at least Sections 295 B and C of the Blasphemy Laws for a start.

We ask: How many more Shanti Nagars and Gojras and Ayub Masihs and Bishop John Josephs and Sajids and Rashids and Hafiz Farooqs and Naimat Ahmars and Dr. Akhtar Hameed Khans must we suffer before the alarm bells start ringing in the corridors of power? What more will it take?

Tahira Abdullah

Last moments of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto‏

This article is an abridged translation of one of the chapters from Col Rafi ud Din’s Urdu book “Bhutto kay akhri 323 din” (The last 323 days of Mr. Bhutto). Col. Rafi ud Din was the Special Security Superintendent of Rawalpindi Jail.

Official Notification of Mr. Bhutto’s Execution

According to the orders of the SMLA, the following officials were to inform Mr. Bhutto of his execution on the night of 3-4 April 1979:

1) – Jail Superintendent, Mr. Yar Mohammad
2) – Security Battalion Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Rafi-ud-Din
3) – Magistrate First Class, Mr. Bashir Ahmad Khan
4) – Jail Doctor, Mr. Sagheer Hussain Shah

This party entered the jail cell at 6:05 p.m. in the evening on April 3rd and found Mr. Bhutto lying on the mattress on the floor.

Jail Superintendent, Yar Mohammad, read the execution order to Mr. Bhutto, “According to the 18th March 1978 order of the Lahore High Court, You, Mr. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto are to be hanged for the murder of Nawab Mohammad Ahmad Khan. Your appeal in the Supreme Court was rejected on 6th February 1979 and the review petition was turned down on 24th March 1979. The president of Pakistan has decided not to interfere in this matter. So it has been decided to hang you.”

I did not see any signs of panic on Mr. Bhutto’s face while the Jail Superintendent was reading out the orders. Instead, I could see that he was quite calm & relaxed and had a smile on his face. I was really surprised at the way Mr. Bhutto had handled the news. I was thinking that we were about to hang a leader who had listened to the orders of his execution with such calm and serenity. I could hear a voice inside me that the death of this person would be disastrous for our nation & our country. Probably for the first time in my life I felt that I was losing control over myself.

Bhutto Sahib looked the Jail Superintendent in his eyes and said to him (these words are Mr. Bhutto’s own) “I should have been informed by the competent authority 24 hours prior to the execution, but it has not been done. On the contrary when my daughter and wife met me today at 11:30 hours, they were not sure about it. I called Jail Superintendent and asked him for necessary clarification. He told me vaguely that the required order for the execution has been passed and it was with him. He also told me that my relations: my sister Monawar ul Islam and my cousin, Mr. Mumtaz Ali Bhutto would be seeing me after my daughter and wife left me. He also told me that after the visitors, he would come himself to get my ‘will’ etc. at 13:50 hours. No written order of my execution has been shown to me so far. I want to see my counsels as soon as possible. My other relatives should have been allowed to see me. My teeth are very bad and I would like to see my dentist, Mr. Zafar Niazi, immediately”.

After these words from Mr. Bhutto, Magistrate First Class, Mr. Bashir Ahmad Khan introduced himself and told Mr. Bhutto that he could write his will if he wanted to. He would be provided with paper etc. for this. After this, the official message read by the government party was over and the officials started to leave. I was still in a state of confusion at that time. I felt as if I was petrified. Bhutto Sahib tried to get up but stumbled. I helped him by supporting him with my arm. He said that he was feeling sick in his stomach.

Bhutto Sahib called out for his helper, Abdur Rehman, and asked him to bring some warm water for his shave. He then turned to me and asked me, “Rafi! What is this drama that is being staged?”

I remained silent for a while so he repeated his question.

I answered, “Sir, have I ever tried to joke with you?”

He said at once, “What do you mean?’ and then repeated the question again.”

I answered, “Sir, the order has been given. You will be executed today.”

For the first saw I saw a bewildered look on Mr. Bhutto’s face. He waved his hand and said in a loud voice “OK… It’s finished… OK… It’s finished.” I said, “Yes Sir.”

It seemed like Bhutto Sahib’s eyes had exploded because of fear. His face turned yellow and dry. I cannot accurately describe the condition he was in
at that time.

Then he said, “At what time? Today?”

I showed him 7 fingers of my hand just like a jump master tells the time before the jump.

He said, “After 7 days?”

I went near him and told him, “Sir, hours.”

He said, “Tonight, after 7 hours?”

I answered by nodding my head in affirmation.

When Bhutto Sahib was brought to the Pindi Jail he seemed as hard as a rock, but now he seemed to be evaporating. At that time I felt the reality of life.

After silence of a few moments he said; “Rafi, that’s all?” I said yes by nodding again.

After a brief silence I told Mr. Bhutto that Begum Bhutto and Benazir met me after their last meeting with him and the part I had played in conveying their mercy appeal to Gen. Zia. At that time I saw that Mr. Bhutto was feeling very nervous and weak. I helped him sit on the chair inside the cell. I told him that by now Begum Sahiba probably would have met Gen. Zia and I hoped that Allah would be merciful and would create a way out of this situation. Mr. Bhutto stood up from his chair and embraced me. He said, “You are a brave man. I wish I had met you earlier.” At that point I felt a slight bit of trembling in his body, but I could see that his nervousness had faded away to a great extent and he looked almost normal.

After a short pause, he said, as if talking to himself, “My lawyers have messed up this case. Yahya* is responsible for my hanging. He kept on telling me all the wrong things. He has screwed everything up.” Then he said that his party needed a dead- not an alive- Bhutto.

He held my hand when I exclaimed that I was sorry to hear all that. He said that he was sorry that his lawyers had not treated me (Col. Rafi) properly. I told him that I had no ill feelings about it. Bhutto Sahib said that Pirzada** & Yahya had given statements against me in the press. I told him that I had not been questioned by the authorities and that he should not worry about these things.

He then thanked me for my kindness and how I had treated him with honor & dignity. I also thanked him & reminded him that he should start writing his will. He wanted me to sit beside him but I had strict instructions not to be with him alone. It would have been very useful to spend some more time with him and he could have shared a lot of personal feelings with me at that particular time. But just that moment a warder came in to deliver some writing material and I had to leave the cell.

As I have written before, Bhutto Sahib had never seriously thought that he would one day be taken to the gallows. He always thought that the case was cooked up against him, was politically motivated and was without any substance. On the 3rd of April, his wife and daughter had realized that the government had decided to hang him.But Bhutto Sahib still thought that to be a hoax because the jail authorities had not shown him the execution orders 7 days before the hanging as they were legally supposed to do.

After that, even after the government officials had informed him at 6 p.m. of his imminent execution, he was still in doubt. But I believe all his doubts were washed away when he asked me what all this drama was and I had answered plainly that he was to be executed that day. I believe that was the time when he realized that he was face to face with death. He was human after all and it was but natural to panic and be afraid when facing death.

After I left his cell, Mr. Bhutto shaved in the presence of Deputy Superintendent of Police, Khawaja Ghulam Rasul at 7:05 p.m. During the shave he had the following conversation with the Deputy Superintendent: “Deputy Sahib, where will you find a leader like me? But why would you need a leader like me in the first place? I am needed by the poor, not by the likes of you. I used to make speeches to mochis (cobblers) at Mochi Gate because I am a mochi myself. You people are taking away the leader of the poor from them. I am a revolutionary. I am a supporter of the poor. Yaar, if you had to kill me, why didn’t you kill me 2 years back? Why didn’t you respect me like the whole world does? I could have been kept in a rest house and could have been killed with dignity. Today, the Chairman of the Islamic Council, who was selected by Muslims all over the world, cannot even shave on his own. You are standing near me so that I don’t hurt myself with the blade. Yes, another thing, yaar… I have troubled you a lot… please forgive me. You have forced the other accused in this case to lie about me so that I can be hanged and they can go scot free.”

Then he called the sentry who was on duty outside his cell and told the Deputy Superintendent to give his wrist watch to the sentry after his death.

Tears came into Bhutto Sahib’s eyes when at 8:05 p.m. his helper, Abdur Rehman, brought a cup of coffee at Bhutto Sahib’s request. Bhutto Sahib said to him, “Rehman, please forgive me if I’ve ever treated you badly. I will be hanged anyway and tonight is my last night with you. I am your guest for just a few more hours.”

Mr. Bhutto worked on his will from 8:45 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. After that, for about 10 minutes, he tried to organize his mirror, comb, hair brush, prayer mat etc. on his table.

Then, till 9:55 p.m., he brushed his teeth, washed his face and combed his hair.

After that, for about 5 minutes, he cleaned the ashes of his cigar and some burnt papers.

He again started to write from 10:10 p.m. to 11:05 p.m. He then burnt all the papers on which he had written. The ashes spread all over in his cell. He called Abdur Rehman and asked him to clean his cell. He asked the sentry how much time was left. The sentry replied that there’s enough time left. Bhutto Sahib again asked how much time was left but the sentry remained quiet. Bhutto Sahib then said to himself that he could probably sleep for 1-2 hours.

The cell was opened at 11:10 p.m. and helper Abdur Rehman came in and cleaned the ashes from the floor. The cell was then closed and Bhutto Sahib lay down quietly.

At 11:25 p.m. he said that he’ll try to sleep for a while because he was not able to sleep properly last night but you people should wake me up at 12a.m. He called out Sanam’s (Bhutto Sahib’s daughter) name a few times while he was sleeping.

At 11:55 p.m., Assistant Superintendents Majeed Ahmad Qureshi & Kazim Hussain Baluch arrived. They tried to wake Mr. Bhutto from outside, but he did not respond. Mr. Qureshi telephoned the jail office and asked what he should do. He was told to enter the cell and try to wake up Mr. Bhutto. He went inside but Bhutto Sahib still didn’t wake up. Mr. Qureshi informed over the phone that Mr. Bhutto was not answering, as if he was unconscious. I got worried at that state of affairs, as it was my responsibility to ensure that under no circumstances should Bhutto Sahib commit suicide.

One minute before the clock struck midnight, I entered the security ward along with the jail superintendent, the jail doctor and the magistrate. Bhutto Sahib was lying on the mattress inside the cell and his face was towards the cell. Chaudhry Yar Mohammad & the jail doctor saw that Bhutto Sahib had opened one eye and after seeing all of us he closed it at once.

Chaudhry Yar Mohammad and I called Mr. Bhutto’s name a few times but to no avail. I asked the jail doctor to check Mr. Bhutto. The doctor checked his pulse and then listened to his heartbeat with a stethoscope and whispered to me that Bhutto Sahib was fine. I again called Mr. Bhutto’s name but didn’t get a reply. I asked the jail doctor to check Mr. Bhutto again. The doctor checked him again and told me that he was fine. I asked the doctor to come outside with me and enquired why Bhutto Sahib was not answering. The doctor assured me that Mr. Bhutto was perfectly fine and that I need not worry. He told me that Mr. Bhutto was only faking. I told the doctor that he’ld be responsible if anything happened to Mr. Bhutto and told him to check Mr. Bhutto again. The doctor checked for the third time and told me that he was fine and was just faking.

At 1:10 a.m. in the night, Mr. Bhutto got up himself. Mr. Qureshi told him that warm water was available for his shower but Mr. Bhutto answered that he did not want to shower anymore.

The Execution

According to the orders, Bhutto Sahib was to be executed on the night of 3-4 April, 1979, in the presence of Inspector of Jails. Chaudhry Nazeer Akhtar – who was present at the Rawalpindi Jail since morning on April 3rd. A stretcher had been arranged keeping in view Mr. Bhutto’s physical condition because of the hunger strike that he had been on. Arrangements had been made for a few petromax lamps as the night was extremely dark and there were thick clouds on the horizon.

The following officials entered the security ward at 1:35 a.m:

1) – Jail Superintendent, Mr. Yar Mohammad
2) – Security Battalion Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Rafi-ud-Din
3) – Magistrate First Class, Mr. Bashir Ahmad Khan
4) – Jail Doctor, Mr. Sagheer Hussain Shah
5) – Deputy Superintendent Jail, Khawaja Ghulam Rasool

Assistant Superintendents of Jail Majeed Ahmed Qureshi, Kazim Hussain Baluch, Mahabat Khan and warders selected by the Jail Superintendent also followed the above mentioned officials up to the security ward. Inspector of Jails Chaudhry Nazeer Akhtar went straight to the gallows from his office. Additional army personnel had been deployed on the route from the security ward to the gallows.

The officials entered Mr. Bhutto’s cell. Bhutto Sahib was awake and was resting on the mattress. Magistrate Mr. Bashir Ahmad Khan asked him whether he wanted to leave any will. Bhutto Sahib remained quiet. He had turned yellow and pale and seemed very weak physically. His voice was barely audible because of weakness. He said something to the effect:

“I…had…tried…but…my… thoughts…were…so…upset…that…I…could…not…do…it…I…have….burnt…it.”

I went near him and said as I bent over him, “Sir, are you able to walk or shall we pick you up?” He did not answer me, but kept looking into my eyes. I again repeated my question after a while. He kept on looking at me like that and then said, “I pity.” (He said something else also but we could not understand what it was).

I again leaned forward and told him that I could not understand what he said. He repeated the same sentence again but I could not comprehend the last one or two words. I bent fully upon him and said, “Excuse me Sir, but I did not understand what you said.”

After a pause and with a lot of effort he said, “I…pity…my…wife…left.”

He was in a very sad state at that time. May be what he wanted to say was that he could not walk but he also did not want to be carried. May be he was thinking that his wife could have given him support, had she been present.

The magistrate again came forward and asked him if he wanted to write a will. Bhutto Sahib remained quiet. The magistrate repeated his question. Bhutto Sahib replied, “Yes…I…would…like…to…dictate.”

At that moment, the time was up and the jail superintendent ordered the head warder to call his men inside and to lift up Mr. Bhutto. Four warders entered the ward. Two of them grabbed Mr. Bhutto’s feet and two his arms, and lifted him up.

While he was being lifted, Mr. Bhutto said, “Leave me.”

Mr. Bhutto’s back was almost touching the floor while he was being brought out of the cell. The lower part of his shirt got entangled in the warder’s shoes and I heard the sound of the shirt being torn. He was put on the stretcher in the lawn. His hands were placed on his stomach and he was handcuffed. In the meanwhile, helper Abdur Rehman came with the cup of tea that Bhutto Sahib had ordered before we had entered his cell. I wondered: “on the other side of the Jail house’s wall, in the Prime Minister House, Mr. Bhutto used to get anything that he wished for, from anywhere in the world. And today he could not even fulfill his simple wish of having a cup of tea.”

The four warders lifted the stretcher from each corner. Bhutto Sahib lifted his head but remained motionless otherwise. His feet were yellow as if all the blood had been sucked out of him. He remained motionless till we reached near the gallows. The warders put the stretcher down on the ground near the gallows. Two of the warders put their arms under Mr. Bhutto’s arm pits and helped him stand up on the plank of the gallows. I was the one closest to Mr. Bhutto. I was just keeping my feet away from the wooden plank of the gallows, but my ears were only a few feet away from his face. His handcuffs were removed, his hands and arms pushed to his back with a forceful jerk, and he was handcuffed again.

In the meanwhile Tara Masih (the executioner) came and placed a mask over his face. He was either having trouble breathing because of the mask or he was feeling pain because of the way his arms were twisted when he was handcuffed. He said, “These”. May be he wanted to say: ” these are hurting me.” I was very close to him. I had come so close to him, while avoiding the plank, that the distance between his face and my ears was not more than 1 or 2 feet. But I could not hear his last sentence.

At exactly 2:04 a.m. on 4th April, 1979, the executioner pressed the lever and Bhutto Sahib was executed. I climbed down the stairs to reach one level below to where Mr. Bhutto’s body was hanging. I saw that Mr. Bhutto’s body was moving slightly but that was because of the momentum of the body falling down. He was certainly dead at that time. I went and sat down near the Inspector of Jails on one of the chairs that had been placed near Mr. Bhutto’s hanging body.

The scene of Bhutto Sahib’s hanging body is something that I have never been able to forget. I shiver even now when I think of that moment again.

After a few minutes I saw someone moving Mr. Bhutto’s body. I asked Chaudhry Yar Mohammad who it was. Instead of him, IG Prisons spoke up and told me that it was Tara Masih and he was straightening the arms & the legs so that the body would not get twisted due to spasms.

Mr. Bhutto’s Burial

Half an hour after the hanging, and after the jail doctor had issued the death certificate, Bhutto Sahib’s hanging body was taken down at 2:35 a.m. His dead body was given a bath, the arrangements for which had already been made at the spot. A photographer, who had been sent by an intelligence agency, took some photographs of Mr. Bhutto (of Mr. Bhutto’s private parts, which the author also mentioned in an earlier chapter). The authorities wanted to confirm whether Mr. Bhutto had been circumcised in Islamic manner or not. After the photographs were taken, it was confirmed that he was circumcised in the Islamic way.

His body was then placed in a wooden casket and was sent towards Chaklala Airport. I also had to accompany Mr. Bhutto on this journey. I conducted this caravan to PAF Chaklala where a VIP C-130 was waiting for us. Bhutto Sahib’s casket was loaded on to the plane along with a few other boxes and the plane started its journey towards Jacobabad. While the plane was over Sakesar (which is near Mianwali), I was told that there was some technical fault and the plane had to be taken back to Rawalpindi where another plane would take us to Jacobabad.

Another C-130 was waiting for us at Chaklala. Bhutto Sahib’s casket was loaded onto the plane and we again started our journey towards Jacobabad. We landed at Jacobabad Airport on the morning of 4th April, a few minutes before 7 a.m. A helicopter was waiting for us. Commanding Officer of 7 Punjab Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Mohammad Sadiq, received Bhutto Sahib’s casket from me, had it placed in the helicopter and then took off for Nau Dero. Mr. Bhutto was buried in a grave already dug for him in Garhi Khuda Baksh.

* Yahya Bakhtiar, was one of Mr. Bhutto’s lawyers
** Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, another of Mr. Bhutto’s lawyers.

From Shahzad Nazir Khan at

Who murdered Benazir Bhutto? by Christina Lamb

From The Sunday Times
May 2, 2010

Benazir Bhutto was brought back to Pakistan from exile as part of an international deal. Then she was killed — and all traces of evidence were immediately swept away. Our award-winning correspondent follows the clues to her killers in London, Karachi and Washington
Across fields of cotton and baked mud in the village of Garhi Khuda Bakhsh in southern Pakistan rises a white marble mausoleum with Mughal-style cones that shimmer in the heat. Inside lie four bodies — a father and his three children — all murdered over a 30-year span. The father was hanged by a military dictator, one son poisoned and one son shot, both by unknown assailants. The daughter was still building the mausoleum when she, too, was assassinated. Her killing was captured on live television, yet who did it — as well as how — remains a mystery.

Benazir Bhutto was Pakistan’s most important political figure, the leading female politician in the Islamic world, an Oxford and Harvard graduate who was the West’s best hope of tackling terrorism. Yet 2½ years on, and despite a $5m United Nations commission of inquiry, her murder remains unresolved.

Almost every Pakistani has a theory about who did it; practically nobody expects to find out. Pakistan’s history is dotted with unexplained political assassinations, but this time there was an unexpected twist. Bhutto’s widowed husband ended up as president, with all the government apparatus at his disposal. One might think that for once there was a good chance of establishing a culprit. Instead he had called in the UN to investigate, claiming “This thing is bigger than us.”

I had my own reasons for wanting answers. I’d known Bibi, as friends called her, since 1987, when her kind wedding invitation to a 21-year-old led to me falling in love with her country and starting a life as a foreign correspondent, covering both her spells as prime minister. I was with her on the truck in Karachi the first time they tried to kill her: two bombs killed 150 people, but she survived.

Ten weeks later, just after 5pm on December 27, 2007, they succeeded. As Bhutto left an election rally in Liaquat Park, Rawalpindi, she stood up through the sunroof of her armoured car to wave. Moments later she was dead, blood gushing from a wound to her temple, as a suicide bomber exploded himself in the crowd.

Bhutto’s action had been foolhardy when she knew there were people out to kill her, and her death sadly unsurprising in a family that has sacrificed everything for politics. What was less explicable was what happened next.

“Everything was manipulated,” says Athar Minallah, a leading lawyer who sits on the board of the Rawalpindi hospital where Bhutto was taken. “The evidence was washed away and no autopsy or investigation allowed. As a lawyer I can’t come to any conclusion, but it’s all too sinister to believe there wasn’t mala fide in this.”

In the 20 years I knew Benazir I had been both captivated by her and infuriated by her, once even deported by her. But I had also personally witnessed the lengths gone to to stop her by what she called “the Establishment” , the old guard of Pakistan’s military and intelligence, which at the time of Bhutto’s death had ruled the country for 32 of its 60 years. Despite being warned off by friends in the Pakistani media, I travelled from London to Dubai, Karachi to Kabul, Waziristan to Washington, asking questions from those involved, many of whom had never spoken out before.
If ever there was a death foretold, this was it. Bhutto’s days were numbered from the time she decided to end eight years in exile in Dubai and return home, following a deal with President Pervez Musharraf backed by the US and Britain. Under the deal, corruption charges against her, her husband and senior members of her Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) would be dropped, enabling them to contest elections. In return they would allow Musharraf to remain president. But neither trusted the other, and the military ruler had sworn he would never allow her back in power.

“We might as well have painted a bull’s-eye target on her head,” admitted a British Foreign Office minister involved in the negotiations.

Her closest friends begged her not to go back. “I said, ‘You’ve been prime minister twice, why do this?’ ” said Peter Galbraith, a former UN envoy to Afghanistan, who had been a friend since 1969, when a primly dressed Bhutto arrived at Harvard aged 16 and went to dinner at his parents’ house.

Mark Siegel, a Democrat strategist who co-wrote her last book, said goodbye to her in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton in Washington. As he turned back to wave, he recalled the scene in The Graduate of a rain-soaked Anne Bancroft standing bereft after realising that her lover, Dustin Hoffman, is in love with her daughter. “I had this terrible feeling,” he said.
In London before her return, Bhutto told me she knew the risk. “I know there are people who want to kill me and scuttle the restoration of democracy,” she said. “But with my faith in God and the people of Pakistan, I’m sure the party workers will protect me.”

She then flew to Dubai to say goodbye to her daughters, Bakhtawar and Asifa. On October 16, the day before she was due to fly to Pakistan, she was warned by UAE and Saudi intelligence of a plot to kill her. She immediately wrote to Musharraf naming three suspects: Pervez Elahi, then chief minister of Punjab; General Hamid Gul, the retired head of Pakistan’s military intelligence, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI); and Brigadier Ejaz Shah, the former head of the Intelligence Bureau (IB). But there was no changing her mind. “The time of life is written and the time of death is written,” she insisted.

When the plane landed at Karachi and Bhutto came down the steps, she could not hold back the tears. Huge crowds had lined the streets. Waving from the top of a special bus, she was transformed, her face alive, so different to the Bhutto of the last few years in exile, gorging on ice cream and reading self-help books. I understood then why she had gone back.
But her security people were worried. The jammers promised by the Pakistan government to impede remote-control bombs were not working. Bhutto refused to go behind the special bulletproof screen in her bus that would separate her from her people. Eventually, she went to the armoured compartment on the lower deck to work on her speech. It was nearly midnight and we had been on the bus nine hours when the first blast came, throwing us to the ground. Moments later came a second, much larger, blast. There was silence, then screams, sirens and little pieces fluttering down like black snowflakes: bits of charred skin.

Bhutto had no doubt who was behind it. She emailed Mark Siegel on October 26: “Nothing will God-willing happen. Just wanted u to know if it does I will hold Musharraf responsible.”

She also called Musharraf. “He told her, ‘I warned you not to come back until after the elections,’ and threatened her, ‘I’ll only protect you if you’re nice to me,’ ” said Husain Haqqani, a former Bhutto aide who was living in the US and is now Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington.

Instead of stepping up her security, it was reduced. She was even told not to travel in vehicles with tinted windows, as this was against the law of the local government.

She appealed to the American and British officials who had helped negotiate her return. “I called everyone,” said Haqqani. “I even got the US ambassador in Pakistan, Anne Patterson, to visit her.” It did not go well. “Patterson wasn’t nice to her,” said Bhutto’s cousin and confidant, Tariq Islam. “She harped on, ‘You must not talk against Musharraf.’ The Americans never trusted her. It was a marriage of convenience.”

In November, Bhutto returned to Dubai for a few days. Her daughters believe she knew then she would not see them again. “She kept on telling us life is in God’s hands,” said her youngest, Asifa, interviewed for Bhutto, a film about her mother’s life that opens in June. “It was going to be my 18th birthday in January, and she said she wanted to wish me happy birthday in advance,” said her older daughter, Bakhtawar. “I said, ‘Don’t wish me in advance, wish me then.’ ”
The next morning, after her mother left, she found a be-ribboned box containing a silver jaguar head on a pendant. A note wished her “Happy birthday, all my love, Mummy”.

Back in Pakistan, on December 26, the day before the Rawalpindi rally, she addressed a public meeting in Peshawar and a suspected suicide bomber was caught trying to get in. That night her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, called her, begging her to let him campaign in her place. “I pleaded with her, ‘You stay home and I’ll go do the rallies. You’re the mother.’ But she said, ‘What can I do? I have to go and meet my people.’ ”

In the early hours of December 27, she was visited by General Nadeem Taj, the head of the ISI, the agency that in the past had done all it could to stop her becoming prime minister, from printing propaganda leaflets to creating a new political party. What he told her is unknown. Despite the late night, Bhutto was up early sending emails, including one to Peter Galbraith asking him to contact his friend, the Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, to send some of his jammers.
Back at her Islamabad home for a light lunch, she called her political secretary, Naheed Khan, to sit with her. Naheed had worked for her for 23 years and accompanied her through beatings, tear gas and arrests. Bhutto told her some American politicians would be coming that evening. Convinced that Musharraf was planning to rig the elections, Bhutto had collected information of a secret ISI rigging cell based in a house in Islamabad, which she planned to present to the Republican senator Arlen Specter and the Democrat congressman Patrick Kennedy.

Around 2pm, the two women climbed into her armoured, white Toyota Land Cruiser with an entourage of five men, including Makhdoom Amin Fahim, who had led her party while she was in exile, and Senator Safdar Abbas, Naheed’s husband and also a long-time aide.

As they left manicured Islamabad for the dusty streets of Rawalpindi, passers-by waved at the motorcade. In front was a blue police van and a black Mercedes containing her security chief and other officials. Behind were two pick-up trucks of her bodyguards.

Once they reached Rawalpindi and saw people massing, Bhutto stood up as usual. “ ’Pindi was hard for her,” said Naheed. Her father was killed in ’Pindi jail and she was too much excited. It was a huge gathering, we weren’t expecting, and such a charged crowd.”

As they drove out of the back of the park with dusk falling, the gates were opened. The crowd flooded out and gathered round her chanting “Jiye Bhutto” [long live Bhutto], “wazir-i-azam Benazir” [prime minister Benazir]. She stood up, climbing on the seat so that she could be seen.

Then they heard shooting. “Suddenly I felt some pressure, she had fallen on me,” said Naheed. She sobs as she recalls cradling Bhutto’s bleeding head. “She was completely unconscious, her blood seeping over me. That scene is still going on in front of me two years on,” she said.

All those in the car, and her spokeswoman Sherry Rehman, in the car behind, insist that Bhutto fell first, then a bomb went off. “As soon as she ducked down, after three to four seconds there was a bomb blast,” said Naheed. Safdar checked Bhutto’s pulse. “There was nothing.”

A bodyguard shouted “Move the car!” but the left tyres had burst in the blast. The backup car had mysteriously disappeared, so the bodyguard carried her into Sherry Rehman’s 4×4 and they rushed to Rawalpindi general hospital.
“I thought she was already dead,” said Zahid, the driver, showing the back seat of the Jeep where the bloodstains are still visible. “She was unconscious and bleeding from the left side of her neck and top right of her skull.”

At the hospital, doctors tried to resuscitate her. Sherry Rehman describes the chaos of bloodied, injured and dead victims being brought in and party workers crowding the building. Rehman found Naheed and Makhdoom Fahim in a state of shock. “The hospital wanted us to get the body out,” she said. “The whole place was heaving with people. Makhdoom and I created a diversion by driving out so they could get the body out without supporters realising. It didn’t occur to us to demand the medical report. I was sure she was shot, I heard the shots, then our heads being shoved down in the drill we’d had since Karachi, then the boom of the bomb. We never thought anyone would contradict this.”
In Dubai, Bhutto’s family had been watching on television. “All we knew was something had happened,” said Zardari. “I said, ‘Arrange a plane.’ When I came back into the room, the TV was announcing she was dead.” Bhutto’s body was placed in a makeshift plywood coffin and taken to the nearby military airbase of Chaklala.

Around 1am, the family arrived, and both they and the coffin were flown to Moenjodaro in the southern province of Sindh, to drive through the night to Bhutto’s ancestral home town of Naudero. In keeping with the Muslim tradition, she was buried the next day.

On December 30, just three days after her death, Zardari summoned a meeting of the party’s central executive committee. He asked their son, Bilawal, to read out a handwritten letter from Bhutto to the PPP. It stated: “I would like my husband, Asif Ali Zardari, to lead you in this interim period until you and he decide what is best. I say this because he is a man of courage and honour.”

Zardari told me afterwards he had no idea she had drawn up such a will. “The day her remains came to Naudero, a person came from Dubai and said, ‘I have this document Madam left with me.’ ” He said he did not know the person.
It was dated October 16, two days before Bhutto returned to Pakistan. “That was the day she’d been warned not to go back,” Zardari said, “and she wrote that letter to Musharraf showing apprehensions about certain people.”
In a shrewd move, Zardari named their son, Bilawal, as co-chairman, adding Bhutto to his name to make him Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, and said he would take over the leadership when he was old enough. Bilawal was then only 19, and starting his second term at Christ Church college, Oxford. He freely admitted he was more interested in Facebook and movies than politics.

Still in shock, nobody on the party’s executive questioned the document. Afterwards, Fahim, the party’s former leader, who had expected to take over, told me he was astonished that Bhutto would hand the party over to Zardari. Known in Pakistan as Mr Ten Per Cent, his alleged corruption was thought to be largely responsible for the demise of both Bhutto’s governments.

Torn apart with grief, Naheed was also too stunned to say anything. “She never mentioned it [the will] to me, nor had I seen it,” she told me.

Back in Islamabad, the Musharraf government appeared to be in panic. Within an hour of the attack the scene had been washed down with high-pressure hoses, wiping out almost all the evidence. Saud Aziz, then chief of Rawalpindi police, said he issued these orders after receiving a phone call from a close associate of Musharraf. The interior ministry said they were worried about “vultures picking up body parts”.

This was in stark contrast to what had happened after two assassination attempts on Musharraf in the same city, when the area had been sealed off for weeks.

With the country in chaos, there was an unseemly rush to announce the cause of death and to name an assassin. At 5pm on Friday December 28, less than 24 hours after her death, Brigadier Javed Cheema, the interior ministry spokesman, held a press conference. He said the hospital report showed Bhutto had been killed by striking the lever of the sunroof as she ducked to avoid the bomb. “There was no bullet or metal shrapnel found in the injury,” he said.

He also said intelligence services had intercepted a call from Baitullah Mehsud, head of the Pakistani Taliban, proving he was behind it. A transcript was later made available — though no audio tape — on which the militant leader is self-congratulatory and gives away his location. A week later, journalists including myself were called in to our respective embassies to be told that MI6 and the CIA had authenticated the transcript and were convinced Baitullah had carried out the attack. The former Pakistani cricket captain-turned- politician Imran Khan was incredulous. “The day after the murder they produce a tape of Baitullah saying, ‘I’m sitting here, tomorrow I’ll be having breakfast. Well done, boys.’ Is this a joke? The guy is being hunted down, on the run. Would he be talking like that?”

Baitullah insisted he was not responsible. “I strongly deny it,” he said via his spokesman, Maulvi Omar. “Tribal people have their own customs. We don’t strike women.”

In years of reporting on Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, never once had I known them not take responsibility for something. Moreover, Bhutto had told me that after the Karachi attack Baitullah had sent a message saying: “Identify your enemy. I’m not your foe.”

Meanwhile, footage had emerged in which a clean-shaven man in dark glasses was clearly visible waving a gun and firing three shots. A TV station had filmed bullets lying on the ground. Other footage showed Bhutto’s chief bodyguard, Khalid Shahenshah, gesticulating strangely from the stage as Bhutto left.

Aside from Bhutto, 22 others were killed in the attack. Family members told Pakistani media that some had bullet wounds. But no autopsies were carried out, even though they are required by law.

I started my own investigation in the sprawling port city of Karachi on the basis that whoever had tried to kill her there on October 17 was probably the same person that eventually got her.

That bombing was Pakistan’s most lethal terrorist attack, yet I was shocked to find from the local police chief that there was no investigation under way. It wasn’t even clear whether it was a suicide bomb or a car bomb, though a retired army colonel who lived round the corner sent me photographs of a burnt-out car that had its chassis number scratched off so it could not be identified.

Many of those who died were “Martyrs for Benazir”, young party volunteers who formed a human chain round the bus and prevented the bomb getting nearer. One was 25-year-old Intukhab Alam. I went to see his widowed father, Mahmood Yunis, 70, in Muhammadi Colony, Liaquatabad, one of the poorest parts of Karachi. He cannot believe the government is not investigating Bhutto’s death. “My son was a small person, but she was a great leader,” he said. “No Zardari can take her place.”

Someone else with little time for Zardari is Benazir’s niece Fatima. It was eerie going to see her: she lives in 70 Clifton, the house of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, her grandfather and Benazir’s father. He was the first Bhutto to be murdered, hanged by his former army chief, General Zia, in 1979.

Fatima was just 14 in September 1996 when her father, Murtaza, the elder of Benazir’s two brothers, was gunned down on the street, along with six of his men. The murder scene was also washed clean before investigators could arrive.
Fatima and her stepmother, Ghinwa, Murtaza’s second wife, invited me to stay for lunch. They talked of the rivalry between Zardari and Murtaza, who they told me kept a cartoon of his brother-in-law genuflecting to the Sultan of Oman in the guest toilet. It is clear who his wife and daughter believe responsible for his death. “The orders could have only come from the highest levels,” said Fatima. Her Aunt Benazir was prime minister at the time.

Bhutto’s friends and family say she was devastated by Murtaza’s death. Her cousin Tariq Islam accompanied her to the morgue in Karachi. “We went to the cold room where his blood-soaked body was and she collapsed, put her head between his feet and cried and howled, ‘You’re my baby brother, don’t do this to me.’ ”

Bhutto, who was prime minister at the time, called in a Scotland Yard team to investigate and asked Islam to be the liaison person. “Even though it was her government, they were stymied at every turn,” he said. “They wanted to see the scene, but within hours it had been pressure-washed. They wanted to see the vehicle in which Murtaza’s body was flung and taken to hospital but were told it had been taken to a garage.”

Six weeks after the murder, a coup took place and Benazir was ousted as prime minister. Scotland Yard was sent home.
Zardari was detained for allegedly being involved in the murder, as well as a number of corruption cases. He was released from jail into exile in 2004 by Musharraf and acquitted on the murder charge in 2008 owing to lack of evidence.
Last December, 18 police officers also alleged to have been involved in Murtaza’s murder were all acquitted. Some had been highly promoted. “Shoaib Suddle, the police chief who was there on the night, was made head of the IB,” said Fatima. “Zardari’s defence lawyer in the case is now attorney general.”

Similarly, following Benazir’s death, nobody has lost their job despite clear lapses in security and failures to investigate. Bhutto’s security chief, Rehman Malik, who disappeared with the backup car, is now interior minister and Zardari’s closest adviser. “My enemies are talking nonsense that I ran away,” he said when I asked why he left the spot. “I wasn’t a security officer that I had to be there. I’m not a guard or a gunman.”

Musharraf’s interior secretary, Kamal Shah, is still in his post, though it was his ministry that put out the version of events Bhutto’s friends and family dispute. Saud Aziz, who ordered the roads to be washed, was transferred to Multan, the prime minister’s constituency, but was suspended last week following the UN report.

Then there is the unexplained shooting of Benazir’s bodyguard Khalid Shahenshah, who was also in the car the night of her killing. I tracked down his best friend, Mohammed Yarwar, a former US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent, who met me in a house full of caged snakes on a busy Karachi road. A student activist for the party, Shahenshah ran a grocery store in Connecticut and seems a strange choice as chief bodyguard. “We hung out in New York,” said Yarwar. “He had a connection with Zardari and got to know Benazir because he would drive her when she visited.”

Shahenshah was heading security at Bhutto’s residence in Karachi, Bilawal House, when, on July 22, 2008, Yarwar got a panicked call from one of his guards, who was outside his friend’s house. “He was screaming, ‘There’s firing going on!’ ”
The guard later told him that Shahenshah had arrived home and got out of his car outside the gate. A small car approached with three men inside who began firing. “They shot 62 rounds, of which seven bullets hit Khalid,” said Yarwar. The car was later abandoned. Yarwar denied rumours that it was a gangland killing. “There was no proper investigation,” he said. “People say he might have known something about Benazir’s death. If he did, he never told me: all he ever said was that she was definitely shot. But I don’t like it. I’ve quit the PPP. ”

Fear is tangible when I start asking about Benazir’s death, something the UN commission noted, describing themselves as “mystified by the efforts of certain high-ranking government authorities to obstruct access”.

In Rawalpindi I went first to Liaquat Road, where Benazir was killed. The spot is marked by a garish painting of her on a red background surrounded by what look like pink bathroom tiles. In front lay a dried-up wreath. Behind a few barricades was a cabin where five policemen were sitting around drinking tea under a lightbulb hanging from a wire.
When I started to take photographs they became animated, telling me to go away. They noted down my driver’s numberplate, after which he refused to take me anywhere else.

I hailed another cab to take me to Rawalpindi’s police headquarters and found the charming chief police officer, Rao Iqbal. When I asked what was the usual procedure after a bombing, he said: “Our priority is to get life back to normal and remove all the rubble, but after collecting the evidence, not before.” Why did this not happen after Bhutto’s death? “The orders may have come through the mouth of CPO Saud Aziz, but it was a government agency that ordered the washing, not a policeman,” he replied, adding: “In my view it should not have been washed.”

As a result, they collected only 23 pieces of evidence, in a case where there would normally be thousands. One of the pieces was her car, and that had also been washed of any evidence. The UN commission pulled no punches, stating: “The failure of the police to investigate effectively Ms Bhutto’s assassination was deliberate.”

Police did find the blown-off face of the suicide bomber, who they say was a 15-year-old boy, on a roof. And to my surprise they told me they have five suspects in custody picked up in 2008, and five more they plan to arrest. They believe they were recruited from madrasahs and part of a team sent to target Bhutto in different cities — but they did not seem to be interested in who had sent them.

The lack of evidence has made it very difficult to establish how Bhutto died. Under pressure, Musharraf called in Scotland Yard to investigate her death. They backed his government’s version that Bhutto died after hitting her head, rather than from an assassin’s bullet. Yet every single person in her car insists she fell before the blast.
I went to the hospital hoping to see Professor Mussadiq, who led attempts to resuscitate Bhutto. I was first refused entry, then told he was at the Holy Family hospital. When I got there, they told me he was not at work. Eventually I met one of the other doctors who attended her; he would only speak off the record.

“Our main concern was saving her life, not what caused the injury, because that is done in an autopsy,” he said. “We all thought she had been shot.”

Because she was an emergency patient, the medical team had made no official report, just clinical notes. They were horrified then when the interior-ministry spokesman held the press conference in which he cited their report, attributing the cause of death to hitting the lever of the sunroof.

“They were very perturbed,” said Athar Minallah, the lawyer who sits on the hospital board. “When they couldn’t revive her, they told the police chief three times there needed to be an autopsy. He was constantly on the phone to someone else and refused, even though by law it’s mandatory.”

If how Bhutto died cannot be properly established, it seems unlikely we will ever find out who did it. In August last year, Baitullah Mehsud, the Taliban suspect, was killed by an American drone.

The person fingered by Bhutto, Musharraf, now lives in exile in London, accompanied everywhere by six Scotland Yard officers. Before Christmas I met him at a dinner at the home of a mutual Pakistani friend, where he lounged on the sofa, drinking whisky, smoking a fat cigar and handing out £50 notes to the singers.

When a reporter asked him if he had blood on his hands, he retorted that the question was “below my dignity”, going on to say: “My family is not a family which believes in killing people. For standing up outside the car I think she was to blame — nobody else. Responsibility is hers.”

The UN disagrees. “Ms Bhutto’s assassination could have been prevented if adequate security measures had been taken,” states the report. Describing the government protection as “fatally insufficient” , they point out that there were few police present to guard her, and that those posted on roofs to watch for threats did not even have binoculars.
Ask most Pakistanis who killed Benazir and they ask who benefited. A Google search on Zardari turns up Zardari jokes, Zardari corruption, Zardari assets and Zardari killed Benazir as among the most common searches. Bhutto had told friends that she would not let her husband be involved in politics again. The plan was for him to stay in Dubai. They had lived separate lives for years. He argues this was because in 20 years of marriage, he spent 11 years in jail. But when he was released, instead of Dubai he went to New York, ostensibly for medical treatment.

Her closest friends say the will is in her writing, and they believe she wanted to keep the party in the family, in the South Asian tradition. “She thought it would split into factions otherwise,” said Bashir Riaz, who knew her all her life. But they are at a loss to explain why, when Zardari became Pakistan’s president in September 2008, he did not begin an investigation.

I put this to Zardari when I went to his house in Islamabad. “The stature of Bhutto called for an independent, transparent and above-board investigation so no accusation of bias could be made,” he said. “This is bigger than us.”
He showed me a framed copy of the will. “This was the joker in the pack,” he said. “Whoever killed her wanted a weak PPP minus Benazir. They thought they would get their own choice.”

His interior minister, Malik, claimed the government are now investigating and will soon release their own report. “We are after just one more person, then the circle will be complete,” Malik said.

“I don’t want nine people strung up to avenge her death — it’s the whole system,” said Zardari. “Only when we’re prospering and we’re Singapore will she be avenged.”

Fine words. Last week, Pakistan’s parliament voted to repeal a constitutional amendment used by military dictators to give themselves sweeping powers. But it remains a nation besieged by bombings and power cuts where militant leaders go free, even holding public rallies, and intelligence agencies make people disappear. When a government delegation went to Washington last month it was clear that the army chief, General Ashfaq Kiyani, was the real power. This is the same army whose generals suggested to Zardari last time Bhutto was prime minister that he replace her because they didn’t like saluting to a woman.


8 March Celebrations Across Pakistan

Labour Party Pakistan and its sympathizing organizations are organizing various activities on the occasion of International Women Day on 8 March 2010.

Women Workers Help Line (WWHL), National Trade Union Federation, Anjaman Mozareen Punjab and Labour Education Foundation have announced the following activities:

Bangle Women Workers Rally
7th March, 3pm, from Comrade Hyder Bux Jatoi chowk to Hyderabad Press Club
Organized by Labour Education Foundation and Home Base Bangle Women Workers Union

8 March, Seminar ‘Women workers: Globalization and movement building’
3pm at Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) House near Garden
Organized by Labour Education Foundation, Home Based Women Workers Federation,

8th March, 2pm, Rally by Home based and Domestic Women Workers
National Press Club to Super Market, Islamabad
Organized by Labour Education Foundation

8th March, Seminar: ‘Home Based Women Workers and Rise of Fundamentalism in Pakhtunkhuwa’ 10 am at office Labour Education Foundation, Old Identity Card office near Railway Lines New Adda, Mardan
Organized by Labour Education Foundation

13th March, 11am, ‘Dialogue with Women Workers on Feminism’
Organized by LEF at office Labour Education Foundation, 25A Davis Road, Lahore

Baluchistan: Jhal Maqsi
8th March, Seminar on ‘Women issues in Baluchistan’ 9am at Tehsil Hall Ghandara, Jhal Magsi
Women Rally from Main Adda to Ghandara Press Club
Organized by Labour Party Pakistan, Baluchistan Chapter in association with Young Development Society Jhal Maqsi

8th March, 11am, Meeting of women working in Carpet industry at Mandhi Dhaba Singh, District Sheikhopura
Organized by Itehad Labour Union Carpet Industries

8th March, Meeting of peasant women and 8th March at all different Military Farms including:
Military Farms Okara
Military Farms Renalakhurd
Kulyana Military Estate
Army Welfare Trust Pakpattan and Depalpur
Organized by Anjaman Mozareen Punjab
Contact Mehr Abdul Sattar 03006961545

Lahore Main Rally
8th March, Speeches & Cultural Program: 12:00pm at Nasir Bagh, Lahore
Rally: 1.30pm from Nasir Bagh to Assembly Hall, The Mall Lahore
Organised by Women Workers Help Line (WWHL)

8th March, Seminar: 12:00pm Press Club, Mardan
Organized by Women Workers Help Line (WWHL)

8th March, Seminar: 12:00pm, Sibbi
Organized by WWHL

Toba Tek Singh
9th March, Seminar: 02:00pm, Goband Pora, Toba Tek Singh
Organized by WWHL

14 March, Seminar: 2pm, Rasool Nagar, Kasur
Organized by WWHL

15 March, Seminar: 11:00am, Rasool Nagar, Kasur
Organized by WWHL

18 March, Seminar: 12:00pm, Faisalabad
Organized by WWHL

Contact for WWHL functions
Bushra Khaliq 03219402316

Contact for LEF functions
Kalid Malik 0321 9402322

Contact for Sindh LEF functions
Zara Akbar 03003770755

NEWS BREAK, Anne Patterson Blocks Shireen Mazari

U.S. Ambassador Forces Newspaper to Censor Known U.S. Critic in Pakistan

By Ahmed Quraishi

Finally, the Americans take their revenge. Dr. Mazari single-handedly threw cold water on Washington’s plan last year to send a rabidly anti-Pakistani US army general as defense attaché to Islamabad. The Pakistani government quietly accepted the appointment. But Dr. Mazari broke the story and aborted the plan. When the new pro-US elected government seized power, Mr. Zardari’s special assistant Husain Haqqani’s first order of business was to fire Dr. Mazari from her official post. And now the US ambassador succeeds in blocking her column. Welcome to the Banana Republic of Pakistan where soon US ambassadors will have the right appoint presidents and prime ministers. Some say they already do.

United States Ambassador Anne W. Patterson intervened with one of the largest newspaper groups in Pakistan to force it to block today a decade-old weekly column by a prominent academic and critic of US policies.

Dr. Shireen Mazari, the former director of the Islamabad Institute of Strategic Studies and a mordant critic of US blunders in Pakistan and the region, was stunned when her column failed to appear in today’s edition of the newspaper. This happened after the US ambassador sent a ‘private’ letter to the management of The News International, one of the largest English-language dailies of Pakistan.

This is a new high for American influence inside Pakistan.

Never before did a US ambassador manage to force such a change in a newspaper’s policy. For those who are new to Pakistan, this is equivalent to having Maureen Dowd or Tom Friedman’s column knocked off the pages of the New York Times because Dick Cheney does not like their criticism.

Unlike Ms. Patterson in Pakistan, her colleague in London, ambassador Louis Susman, could never dream of achieving a similar feat by, say, convincing The Times of London to block a column by David Aaronovitch. Or the US ambassador in Moscow, John Beylre, Jr., who could never even think of forcing Komsomolskaya Pravda to do anything remotely similar. They have Vladimir Putin in Russian who knows how to protect his country’s interest.

Only in Pakistan, where American meddling has reached alarming proportions and risks turning this second largest Muslim country and the world’s seventh declared nuclear-armed nation into another version of Latin America’s banana republics where Washington has been known to change governments at will.

The US achieved a feat last year when it forced the country’s military establishment under a weak and insecure Pervez Musharraf to strike a ‘deal’ to forgive the questionable illegal wealth and other criminal cases against several Pakistani political figures in order to help them come to power in exchange for supporting US policies in Pakistan.

Another major break for Washington is Pakistan’s acquiescence in the construction in Islamabad of what will soon become the largest US embassy in the world. Recently, members of privately armed US militias have been spotted in Islamabad, in some cases roughing up Pakistani citizens, without Pakistani government daring to take action.

But blocking Dr. Mazari’s column is a new high for American influence in Pakistani affairs.

She especially earned the ire of the Americans last year when she single handedly threw cold water on US plans to post a notoriously anti-Pakistan US army general to Islamabad. It was March 2008 when the new pro-US government in Islamabad allowed Washington to post Major General Jay W. Hood as the Chief, Office of the Defence Representative in Islamabad.

But Dr. Mazari broke the news of the appointment through her column, creating an uproar and forcing the Pakistani government to reject the appointment.

Dr. Mazari held a press conference today at the Islamabad head office of Pakistan Justice Movement, or PTI, a political party headed by cricket star Imran Khan where she is a senior official handling foreign policy issues.

Ambassador Anne Patterson is reported to have sent a letter to the management of the newspaper protesting at Dr. Mazari’s writings, especially on the question of the presence of Blackwater and other private American militias on Pakistani soil. Interestingly, Ms. Patterson said she did not want to see her letter published in the newspaper and insisted it be kept private. It is also not clear if Ms. Patterson actually threatened legal action or other form of protest or pressure if the newspaper continued to publish Dr. Mazari’s columns.

The newspaper editorial team is said to be ready to publish the blocked column later, possibly with some editing. Frankly, no one can blame a newspaper for protecting its interest when the very government of Pakistan seems incapable of protecting the national interest. Had Pakistan had a truly nationalistic government in Islamabad, one that inspired confidence, I can imagine that any newspaper would have politely deflected undue pressure from a foreign diplomat.

But the very fact that the column failed to run marks a victory for the US embassy and a fresh sign of the growing US influence and meddling in Pakistan’s internal matters.

It is not clear if Ms. Patterson sought the permission of the Pakistan Foreign Office before directly contacting a Pakistani newspaper to exert pressure.

This is the fourth attempt by the US Embassy to silence Dr. Mazari, whose incisive political commentary based on her close brush with power corridors in Islamabad over the years has given the Americans and the Brits a constant headache. Her columns are fodder for those who advocate a more nationalistic and Pakistan-centric approach in dealing with Washington instead of the current approach where the United States is reaping strategic benefits at the expense of Pakistan’s interests and stability.

In 2006, the US ambassador at the time, Ryan Crocker, is reported to have warned Pakistan’s foreign secretary Mr. Riaz Khokar, that he will consider Dr. Mazari’s writings to be reflective of official Pakistani thinking because Dr. Mazari was heading a think tank financed by the Foreign Office. The US diplomat demanded Dr. Mazari, according to her, be removed from office or told to stop criticizing US policies.

The foreign secretary resisted the pressure and Dr. Mazari continued her policy discourse. The interesting thing is that the first order of business for the present pro-US government in Islamabad after seizing power last year was to fire Dr. Mazari.

Her ousting was engineered by Mr. Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington who is widely known in Pakistan as a staunch American apologist. Many jokingly call him ‘America’s ambassador to the Pakistani embassy in Washington.’ So it was no surprise that Dr. Mazari was fired as soon Mr. Haqqani’s government came to power.

I personally faced a similar situation when a US diplomat telephoned me in November 2007 to accuse me of spreading anti-Americanism on the state-run PTV. My crime was to start a series of talk shows discussing how our ally the US turned Afghanistan into a hub for anti-Pakistan forces in the region. The US diplomat, used a cheap trick to intimidate me when she asked, ‘Does Musharraf know what you’re doing?’

My answer was, ‘Does President Bush know when US media frequently runs anti-Pakistan articles?’

Dr. Mazari is not disheartened by this episode. ‘They might have knocked me off this time,’ she told me today after her press conference, ‘but the last round will be mine. The Americans can’t gag me in my own country.’ And that is exactly what the newspaper, The News International, has assured her of.

Pakistan Daily

Senate body slams slow progress in honour killing probe

By Muhammad Bilal

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights criticised the authorities on Monday for not arresting those involved in burying alive women in Balochistan, five months after the so-called honour killings.

The committee – which met here under Senator Latif Khosa – has now directed police and other departments to submit a detailed investigation report on the incident by January 15. Dissatisfied with the progress made so far in the investigation, the committee said “influential people responsible for committing the crime are still at large”. Members have urged police to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Five months on from the killings, it is still not clear whether five women were buried alive, as reported by the media, or two, as reported by police. The Senate body branded the killings ‘a crime against humanity’, and said the incident did not have a precedent in recent history. Latif Khosa — who is also the attorney general of Pakistan – condemned the killings, and said he would himself direct the Balochistan advocate general to take steps to make headway in the probe. Earlier, National Police Bureau Director General Tariq Khosa briefed the committee on the ‘honour killings’ in Naseerabad district of Balochistan and the progress made so far in the investigation.

He said 11 suspects had been arrested, and raids were being made to arrest more people. Representatives of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the National Commission on the Status of Women also briefed the committee on their views on the matter. The committee also directed the Interior Ministry to submit a report on the murder of Taslim Solangi – who was sentenced to death by a jirga in Sindh eight months into her pregnancy.

The committee also took notice of attacks on schools in Swat and threats to female teachers and workers, and asked the Interior Ministry for a report on the subject. Resolutions: The senate body adopted two unanimous resolutions – one condemning the Israeli attacks on Gaza and another on Sunday’s suicide attack in Bunir.

In the resolution on Gaza, the committee strongly condemned the brutal Israeli offensive which has so far killed more than 300 people. The committee took notice of the ‘West’s silence’ over the ‘genocide of Muslims’. Members expressed solidarity with the people of Palestine, and called for an immediate end to the violence. In the other resolution, the committee condemned the bombing in Bunir that has killed 40 people. Senators Dr Khalid Ranjha, Senator Muhammad Ali Durrani, Prof Khurshid Ahmed, Hafiz Rashid Ahmed , Saadia Abbasi, Abdur Rahim Khan Mandokhail, Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli, Maulana Samiul Haq, Yasmeen Shah, Jamal Leghari and Haji Muhammad Adeel attended the meeting.

Shaheed Bibi Tasleem Solangi: Hyderabad police claim breakthrough

Shaheed Bibi Tasleem Solangi
Hyderabad police claim breakthrough in Tasleem Solangi case
Wednesday, January 14, 2009

By Rauf Klasra

ISLAMABAD: DIG Hyderabad Sanaullah Abbasi has claimed a breakthrough in the Tasleem Solangi honour-killing case, saying he has found out documents signed by the local Nazim of the area giving details of how the poor girl, who was thrown in front of hungry dogs, was actually treated like a “slave”.

The powerful tribesmen having the backing of local politicians had documented the whole process, which finally ended in her physical elimination. This is the first time a written clue has been found in an honour-killing case which might help the police frame the participants of a Jirga that actually documented the whole process.

Meanwhile, the clothes that Tasleem was wearing at the time of her death, which might serve as an evidence of how she died, are mysteriously missing. Investigation officer Abbasi has also rejected the post-mortem report of Tasleem Solangi as unauthentic.

Meanwhile, two persons provided the DIG evidence of how Tasleem was thrown in front of hungry dogs before she was shot dead. Abbasi found out how a Jirga was actually held, whose decisions were properly documented by the participants. Even the local Nazim, Saleem, was present there and he too put his signature on these documents, which now police have taken into possession and might use them in the court of law.

“I am shocked to read the document which was signed at the time of deciding the fate of this unfortunate girl,” said Sanaullah Abbasi while talking to The News from Khairpur after recording the statements of about 30 people on the first day of his investigation into this crime against humanity.

President Asif Zardari had appointed Sanaullah Abbasi as investigation officer after rejecting the findings of MNA Nafeesa Shah. The president was dissatisfied with the report submitted by Nafeesa Shah, daughter of Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah, in whose constituency the murder took place.

Abbasi visited the village of Tasleem Solangi on Tuesday and interviewed the concerned people. He met the father of Tasleem Solangi, who confirmed that his daughter was subjected to the worst kind of torture before being killed. He explained to the officer how she was first made to run before the hungry dogs and later gunned down in front of his eyes.

Likewise, Sindhi journalist Ajeeb Lakhoo also recorded his statement in which he confirmed that he had seen the dog-bitten body of Tasleem lying in a pool of blood inside a police van. Talking to The News, Sanullah Abbasi confirmed that he had found out documentary evidence that a Jirga was held to decide the fate of Tasleem and none other than the local Nazim had signed those papers, which clearly showed that the girl was taken away from her second husband.

Abbasi said the Jirga had followed the official procedures of “handing and taking over” the girl as she was some sort of “commodity” and not a human being. Abbasi said the girl was taken forcibly from her husband belonging to the Kunhar tribe by her first Solangi husband after the Jirga decided that the accused husband would pay Rs 400,000 for remarrying the wife of Solangi tribesman.

He said the Solangi tribe took Rs 400,000 from the second husband of Tasleem but killed her afterwards. He said the father of the girl and the Sindhi journalist Ajeeb Lakhoo had confirmed that Tasleem was thrown in front of dogs.

Closure of Girls’ Schools in Swat Condemned

Civil Society Strongly Condemns Closure of Girls’ Schools in Swat
Islamabad, 15 January 2009

All over Pakistan, huge numbers of civil society organizations, human rights activists, lawyers, teachers and concerned citizens protest against and condemn in the strongest terms, the barbaric, inhuman and un-Islamic act of blowing up and closing down girls’ schools in Swat, under the orders of a local Taliban group, led by Mullah Fazalullah.

We remind the Mullah that the first word of the Quran is “IQRA” and it is NOT confined to the male species. Neither are the Hadiths that enjoin on ALL to seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave, even if it means travelling to China.

We most strongly condemn and protest against the sacking and thereby the loss of livelihoods of the thousands of women teachers of these schools. We strongly condemn and protest against Mullah Fazalullah’s forcing Swat’s industry owners to sack all their women industrial workers, who were the sole breadwinners of low income families living in dire poverty.

We are outraged at the Taliban’s brutal killing of a young woman and dragging out her body for a public spectacle. We are further outraged at the horrific photograph of the ban on women from markets and public places – as also the immediate action on the ban by intimidated traders.

We are profoundly angry at and strongly condemn the Taliban’s daily barbaric and inhuman execution of men in Swat and hanging up their dead bodies in Khooni/Zibah Khana Chowk.

We condemn the total absence of law and order, police, courts and district administration. We condemn the injustice of the Taliban’s decisions of “instant justice” and instant punishment.

We MOST STRONGLY protest against and condemn the professed helplessness, criminal silence and indifference of the Pukhtunkhwa ANP Government and the federal PPP Government. We condemn the total absence of the writ of the State, despite prolonged and ongoing military operations against extremist militancy in Swat and FATA. We also condemn these operations for their negative results, due to he Government and military’s appeasement policy and a lack of political will and resolve.

We strongly protest and condemn the deafening silence from the religio-political parties (former MMA coalition ruling Pukhtunkhwa since 2002) and the so-called ulema.

The brutal loss of life and livelihoods in Swat has reached gigantic proportions, but since neither the military nor the Taliban permit electronic media coverage, we do not see the daily brutalities in the manner in which Al-Jazeera, BBC & CNN have been covering Israel’s brutalities in Gaza.

Thus, there is an eerie silence on the killing fields of Swat, and the ruling ANP Government of the so-called secular, progressive party of Bacha Khan is enacting Shariah Laws and states on the record that once Shariah is enforced in Swat, as it has been in the rest of Malakand, there will be peace and tranquility.

We ask: peace and tranquility for whom? Not for the thousands of those killed, maimed, brutalized and turned out of their homes and the district. Not for the shelterless IDPs and refugees, not for the schoolgirls now at home, not for the jobless school teachers and factory workers. Only for the ANP, the PPP, and their military and U.S.A. masters.