Editor's Choice

Featured Post

"Let us build Pakistan" has moved.
30 November 2009

All archives and posts have been transferred to the new location, which is: http://criticalppp.com

We encourage you to visit our new site. Please don't leave your comments here because this site is obsolete. You may also like to update your RSS feeds or Google Friend Connect (Follow the Blog) to the new location. Thank you.


Wednesday, 8 April 2009

How possibly could a party such as the secular ANP get into such a low deal with those of the Taliban’s ilk?

Barbarians at the gate

By Kamran Shafi

SORRY for the trite title, but its blood-chillingly true, isn’t it? As my readers well know, I am quite quickly moved to tears: films like Il Postino and East is East and books like Chronicle of a Death Foretold can set me off like a little baby.

Even the logo on the tail of a PIA airliner taking flight makes me weep happy and bitter and heartbreaking tears as I pray to God our country could also one day lift its head and reach for the stars.

But the horrific pictures that beamed out of my television set this past week showing a young Swati woman — how does it matter whether she was 17 or 34 years old, dammit — being held down hand and foot and mercilessly lashed on her buttocks and thighs by a bearded Yahoo in public, 37 times, only made me furious; absolutely incandescent with rage.

Far more than being livid at the Taliban Yahoos, I raged at those representing the ANP so-called ‘government’ of the Frontier. Even there whilst I could understand the likes of Senator Zahid Khan and Law Minister Arshad Abdullah and someone called Pervez Khan try so futilely and so foolishly to defend their government and the Taliban, whilst I could understand Muslim Khan try to defend the Taliban, I just could not get myself to give any let to Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain.

Iftikhar Hussain whom I have met and appreciated (kindly note the past tense) as a secular and well-read man, actually had the gall to accuse Samar Minallah who has done so much good (and courageous) work for the cause of the dispossessed, specially faceless women and innocent children, of being part of a conspiracy to derail the ‘peace deal’ with the Taliban in Swat. What in God’s name has the person of Ms Minallah got to do with the Taliban publicly lashing a woman in public? Why did he name her? Does Mian Sahib not know that Samar is not an unknown; that she is the much-respected Nasruminallah Khan’s daughter? That she does not hide behind pseudonyms and innuendo, and says what she says in your face?
He then has the impudence to say that the lashing ‘took place on Jan 3 while the peace agreement with the TNSM was signed on Feb 16’. Well, doesn’t that in itself make your deal with such barbarians doubly disgraceful, Mian Sahib? How possibly could a party such as the secular ANP get into such a low deal with those of the Taliban’s ilk? Is this ANP, the successor to the National Awami Party of Bacha Khan?

Let me go back in time for the younger of my readers who may not know the tortured political history of our poor country. No matter which political party one came from, no matter which political thought one was enamoured of, no matter what the establishment said about the NAP one always admired it for the fact that it was solidly secular, and always stood by its principles. Is this present ANP even a shadow of the NAP of Mir Ghous Bakhsh Bizenjo?

What ‘peace deal’ do you talk about, Mian Sahib? Is cravenly throwing down your weapons before a cruel and monstrous enemy who has wrought so much pain and misery in your home a ‘peace deal’? An enemy that your own and federal forces outnumbered 30 to 1? An enemy, moreover, who was far poorly equipped than your own forces? What ‘peace deal’ do you speak about, sir?

Which reminds me. Against my own better judgment, I went to see President Zardari along with about 40 or 50 other TV anchors/journalists a week or so ago. I had been to the presidency in days gone by but had forgotten the opulence and the sheer massiveness of the place. Which, be as it may, the man was completely out of his depth, his grip on reality tenuous — being completely satisfied with the way the army conducted itself in Swat(!), and talked as if he knew everything about everything under the sun.
Unforgivably, he was snide about the judiciary — when asked to ensure the safety of working journalists he said, ‘Why don’t you go to the restored Supreme Court which you said will fix everything?’ Tragically, he did not even know that Nawabzada Balaach Marri, son of Nawab Khair Bukhsh Marri, was dead, murdered allegedly by the Pakistan Army in Afghanistan in November 2007. And this despite Benazir herself visiting the old nawab to condole his son’s death, to the utter chagrin of the Commando.

But nothing lasts forever, particularly in this case, for his buddies Salmaan Taseer and Rehman Malik have grievously wounded and weakened him by the needless and mad adventure mounted in Punjab. It defies description, though, how the three can so brazenly carry on as if nothing happened at all. The sad part is that the shenanigans of these three have greatly hurt the Pakistan People’s Party, a national asset that the country can’t afford to lose, just as it cannot afford to lose other political forces that represent the people.

But back to the matter of the increasingly successful assault on Pakistan by the Taliban. What gives? We will know all if a few very basic questions are answered. One, how come the Pakistan Army, the ISI, the Intelligence Bureau, Military Intelligence and the Frequency Allocation Board could not find Mullah Radio’s FM station in six years?
Two, ditto. Three, ditto. Four, ditto. Ninety-nine, ditto. Just who is preventing all these when-they-want-to-be most oppressively efficient organisations from finding the clandestine broadcaster that is the foundation upon which Mullah Fazlullah has built his dreadful empire of death and destruction?

To the government I say this: If it is true that the cake and pastry and tikka-selling, property-dealing industrial and banking conglomerate, the Pakistan Army, has failed to tactically defeat (I did not say bomb and shell and strafe, sirs) a ragtag militia, then demob large parts of it and distribute its weapons and equipment among the populace. We well know how to defend our hearths and homes, and wives and daughters and sisters and mothers; and neighbours, against the advancing barbarians.

To our visiting paymasters who are presently in the Citadel of Islam, I say this: if the choice is between having a strategic and a transactional relationship with this regime when it comes to doling out money please do yourselves, and us, a favour. Please opt for the transactional, COD (cash on delivery) as they say in business. Only then does this country have a chance of survival. Otherwise it is dead in the water.

Witness Chakwal. It broke my heart to hear friend Ayaz Amir, MNA, say, ‘I never thought Chakwal would become a target, sir’ when I called him on Sunday afternoon to condole the wanton death and destruction spread in his city by the self-same barbarians.

He was at the hospital at the time and the screams of pain in the background made me invoke the Almighty’s curse on those that kill and maim innocents.

Daily Dawn --- 8th April, 09


Munna Bhai said...

I thought, by now, I was quite familiar with all the 'operational aspects' of the Pakistani army. But evidently, there are some, viz. 'cake and pastry and tikka-selling' activities as mentioned in the post that have left me flummoxed. Request if the same may be duly elaborated so that I can rest assured, secure in the knowledge, that the defense of Pakistan is in safe hands.

Aamir Mughal said...



Ansar Abbasi filed a news quoting Hoti the CM of NWFP he belongs to ANP

Zardari to sign deal despite flogging: Hoti By Ansar Abbasi Monday, April 06, 2009


and Ansar Abbasi's wish is to somehow deny the flogging but the same Mullah type Journalist particularly the Rascal Jamat-e-Islami had in the past had raised hell against the same ANP which is being praised by Jamat-e-Islami nowadays in Jasarat. The case was a killing of one Saima Sarwar and ANP Senator , Ilyas Bilour was involved in that Honour Killing, now read the details:

Honour Killings of Women Seeking Divorce

Several women who have sought divorce through the courts have been injured, killed or never been heard of again. Seeking divorce gives a strong signal of public defiance which calls for punitive action against such women to restore male honour within the traditional honour scheme.

One of the most recent honour killings of a woman seeking divorce occurred in the afternoon of 6 April 1999, when 29-year-old Samia Sarwar, a mother of two young sons, was shot dead in her lawyer's office in Lahore. Her lawyer Hina Jilani was also threatened but not injured. A para-legal trainer, Shahtaj Qisalbash was abducted by the killers but eventually released.

The apparent reason for the killing, threats and abduction was that Samia Sarwar's family felt their honour defiled by her disobedience to their wishes and her persisting in seeking a divorce from her abusive husband. They had allowed Samia to return home and had accepted the incompatibility of the spouses, but would not allow her to divorce. The case shows that some prosperous city dwellers -- Samia's father is a prominent business man, her mother a doctor while Samia studied law, her sister medicine -- follow the same traditional norms of what constitutes shameful behaviour in a woman and advocate the same punishments as rural populations.

Samia Sarwar was married to her cousin in 1989 in Peshawar, North West Frontier Province (NWFP). In the 10 years of her marriage, Samia was subjected to high levels of domestic violence, beating, kicking and other physical abuse which she was not willing to bear. In April 1995, she returned to her family home after her husband had thrown her down the stairs of their home when she was pregnant with their second child. When she expressed her intention of seeking a divorce, both her parents refused to help and instead allegedly threatened to kill her. Her mother and her husband's mother are sisters and it was considered shameful for the family that the marriage had broken down. Hina Jilani, Samia's lawyer said after her death: "On the two or three occasions that I met her personally to discuss her case, she repeatedly expressed the fear of death at the hands of her family. ... She seemed well-educated. However, I had the impression that she lacked confidence. I was surprised that a timid woman like her had resolved to take on the enmity of her family by resorting to legal action for divorce which, according to her, the family was opposed to even after five years of separation from her husband. ... Samia was a frightened, unhappy woman who felt very alone in a predicament that she couldn't deal with confidently."

Grasping the opportunity of her parents' absence from Peshawar during their pilgrimage to Mecca, Samia fled to Lahore on 26 March 1999 and sought help in the law firm AGHS33 and refuge in the AGHS-run shelter Dastak. Acutely aware of her family's threats to her life, Samia refused to see male relatives but agreed to meet her mother who was to hand over papers needed for the divorce settlement.

On 6 April, Samia Sarwar consulted lawyer Hina Jilani in her office when her mother arrived, accompanied by Samia's uncle, Yunus Sarwar and Habibur Rehman, a driver employed in the NWFP Directorate of Education in Peshawar. When Hina Jilani told the men to leave the room, Samia's mother declared that she could not walk and needed her driver's assistance. Habibur Rehman then pulled out a gun and shot at Samia's head; she died instantly. He also fired at Hina Jilani who narrowly escaped injury. In the ensuing confusion, the driver threatened a security guard and was shot dead. Meanwhile Yunus Sarwar who had waited in the antechamber, took hold of AGHS paralegal coordinator Shahtaj Qisalbash and, using her as a shield, escaped with Samia's mother. According to Shahtaj Qisalbash's account, they drove to a local hotel where Samia's father awaited them, asking if "the job was done". They released her soon afterwards.

The fact that the killing was carried out in the lawyer's office during a busy afternoon, in the presence of well-known Supreme Court lawyer Hina Jilani suggests that the perpetrators were convinced they were doing the right thing, were not afraid of publicity as they could count on widespread support and not inclined to hide their identity. They were possibly convinced that the state would not take measures to hold them to account. They were right. Despite a First Information Report (FIR, the complaint registered with police obliging them to investigate the alleged offence) filed on the same day, nominating Samia's father, mother and uncle for murder, to date no one has been arrested. Low ranking police officers were on 20 April sent to Peshawar with arrest warrants, but were "shooed away"as a human rights activist put it. On 29 April, the accused obtained bail. In the first week of May, Hina Jilani petitioned the Lahore High Court against police failure to investigate and to submit their investigation report; an interim report was subsequently submitted. At a second hearing, on 15 June, a written note of the Crime Investigation Agency (CIA) explained the delay saying that the case was complicated and that a second FIR had been registered (see below).

Newspapers reported that the public response to the killing of Samia Sarwar in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) overwhelmingly sided with the murderers. Many Pashtun commentators argued that since it was in accordance with tradition it could not be a crime. Some argued, however, that the parents should have obtained a jirga verdict before undertaking the honour killing to lend it legitimacy.34 A similar attitude was also manifest in the Senate of Pakistan. When opposition Pakistan People's Party Senator Iqbal Haider presented a resolution condemning the killing of Samia Sarwar, Senator Ilyas Bilour referring to Asma Jahangir and Hina Jilani said: "We have fought for human rights and civil liberties all our lives but wonder what sort of human rights are being claimed by these girls in jeans." Other senators shouted abuse and threats against the two women lawyers. An amended resolution was being debated in the Senate in July and rejected on 2 August.35

The Sarhad Chamber of Commerce of which Samia's father is president and several religious organizations on 8 and 9 April demanded that Hina Jilani and Asma Jahangir be dealt with in accordance with "tribal and Islamic law" and be arrested for "misleading women in Pakistan and contributing to the country's bad image abroad". Several people belonging to religious organizations issued fatwas [religious edicts] against both women and promised to pay rewards to anyone who would kill them. In late April 1999, Asma Jahangir lodged a First Information Report with police against 16 people, including prominent businessmen in Peshawar, for issuing death threats against her and her sister. She also called on the government to set up a judicial inquiry headed by a Supreme Court judge to investigate almost 300 cases of honour killings reported last year in Pakistan. No action is known to have been taken on either issue.

On 11 May, Ghulam Sarwar Mohmand filed a complaint with Peshawar police accusing Hina Jilani, Asma Jahangir and two others with abducting and murdering his daughter. The accused obtained bail before arrest and on 15 June the Peshawar High Court admitted their petition to quash the case and ordered police not to take any adverse action on the basis of the later complaint. The case is pending.


1 - An acronym composed of the first letters of the first names of the four women lawyers who founded it; they include Hina Jilani and her sister Asma Jahangir, the current UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Arbitrary and Summary Executions and then chairperson of the non-governmental HRCP.

2 - M. Ziauddin, "The legitimacy of honour killings", in: Dawn, 8 May 1999.

3 - Farzana Bari, representing 15 human rights groups commented: "It is highly unfortunate that the so-called custodians of the constitutional rights of the citizens are violating the constitution by upholding and reinforcing archaic tribal value systems, chauvinism, fanaticism and political expediency." Financial Times, 5 August 1999.

Post a Comment

1. You are very welcome to comment, more so if you do not agree with the opinion expressed through this post.

2. If you wish to hide your identity, post with a pseudonym but don't select the 'anonymous' option.

3. Copying the text of your comment may save you the trouble of re-writing if there is an error in posting.