You have to stand guard over the development and maintenance of democracy, social justice and the equality of mankind in your own native soil. [Mohammed Ali Jinnah]

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Proof of Indian hand in South Waziristan Militancy: army

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has found concrete evidence of India’s involvement in militancy in South Waziristan and decided to take up the matter with New Delhi.

This was disclosed by Information Minster Qamar Zaman Kaira and military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas at a press briefing on the progress of operation Rah-i-Nijat here on Monday. It was the first time in recent times that Pakistan had pointed fingers at India from a forum having representation of political and military leadership.

Mr Kaira said although it had been decided to raise the issue with India, Pakistan would not deviate from the peace process.

Gen Abbas said a huge quantity of Indian arms and ammunition, literature, medical equipment and medicines had been recovered from Sherawangi area, near Kaniguram. He said the Foreign Office had been informed and the matter would be taken up with the Indian authorities through diplomatic channels.

Sources in the Foreign Office said a dossier containing proofs of India’s involvement in South Waziristan would soon be handed over to officials in New Delhi.
KANIGURAM TAKEN: Gen Abbas said security forces had secured control of Kaniguram, a redoubt of Uzbek fighters.

He said there were fortified positions and bunkers in the area which were being used by militants in possession of modern weaponry. The entire area had been cleared of mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Five truckloads of arms and ammunition were recovered from the area on Monday, he added.

Full Story: DAWN.COM | Pakistan | Proof of Indian hand South Waziristan: army
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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Diya - A Hero's Daughter

Text & Photos by Fauzia Minallah


Diya with her father Pervez Masih's photograph

Diya 3 and her mother Shaheen

Diya is only three, she is lost and has many questions about her father Pervez Masih. Pervez was a janitor at the International Islamic University. On the fateful day when IIU was attacked by suicide bombers, he was the hero who stopped the terrorist from entering the cafeteria for female students. Pervez lost his life, while saving the lives of more than 300 students.
He will always be remembered as a true hero by us. Diya will always be remembered as a hero’s daughter.

The Minister of Interior, Mr Rehman Malik, publicly announced that his family will recieve a compensation of approximately $10,000. So far, the family has not been contacted by anyone from his office. The IIU administration helped the family with Rs. 10.000 for the burial costs, employed his widow Shaheen as a sanitory worker and promised to help with Diya’s education. Other than that there has not been any help from anyone for Pervez’s family. The only person who has helped this hero’s family so far is a young student of Behria University, Maham Ali . She motivated her friends to donate funds for Pervez's family. She collected Rs. 52,500 and bought toys and clothes for Diya.
Maham and Diya.

We might be going through tough times, but even in this darkness there is hope. And for me that hope is in young people like Maham. She was our pillar of support by collecting funds for our effort in helping the internally displaced Pakistanis.
As a society we need to recognise our heroes, we need to rise above our prejudices and name streets, buildings and squares after Pervez Masih. So what if he was a poor Christian sanitory worker, he saved the lives of 300 Muslim students. Atleast on November 16th on the 'International Day of Tolerance', Maham was there to cheer Diya- a hero's daughter.

--
Fauzia Minallah

www.funkorchildart.com
http://funkornews.blogspot.com/

Monday, November 16, 2009

Is America Serious in Fighting 'Terrorism'?

Pakistani army is advancing at a fast pace in south waziristan. Resistance by the opponent group is far less than expected. Question arises that why is the resistance that low when it was considered a safe heaven for the armed militants residing there for so many years? Answer to this question becomes evident if we note that american checkposts in afghanistan along the south wazriristan border were removed within a few days after the start of the operation (Reported Here). So we can easily conclude that the militants have moved to afghanistan (obviously they'd have, they were provided the chance by the troops on eastern border of afghanistan).
See more on Random Thoughts
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Friday, September 11, 2009

Protest against Gojra victimization and in favor of minority rights, organized by FASTRising.org

Do issues die out when their intrinsic value diminishes? Or when there is no one left to agitate for their just resolution?

WHAT: Protest against the burning alive of fellow citizens at Gojra

WHEN: 5.00 PM, Saturday, 12th September, 2009

WHERE: Lahore Press Club

Join us if you feel the agony, if your conscience does not let this issue die out!

To Follow Updates: http://fastrising.org/?p=672

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Victims of The Half Law ( Samson Simon Sharaf on Gojra violence)

Samson Simon Sharaf is a well known columnist for THE NEWS daily english news paper. He is a respected Defence analyst, and is son of Mr. Sahraf, who was an active anti-Unionist activist of the pre-partition erra, and was instrumental in successfully aligning the Christian community in Punjab with Muslim League, owing in part to Mr. Jinnah's ideals w.r.t. minorities, in 1946 elections, to defeat the Unionist Govt. Here is what he had to say in one of his recent blog entries at Pak tea House.

This in part highlights the usual the inefficiency of the government, and their consideration of the protection of minorities as a non-issue. Exploitation of Blasphemy laws, still much open to interpretation by both the Muslim & Christian community to settle personal and political scores, and how easily can our public (we among them) be incited into mob mentality when it comes things which we don't want happening around us.


Victims of The Half Law

The recent incidents in Gojra are a grim reminder of how existing half laws can be manipulated for personal and political ends. Besides loss of life, property or the reputation of the country, it also reflects an opportunist political system in which strange bedfellows can be espoused for political expediency and where rule of law can be applied selectively. Worse, it exposes false claims of the provincial and federal governments over constant surveillance of banned militant outfits in Punjab.

The entire trail from Jhang to Gojra, Mian Channu and Shantinagar is littered with similar incidents of religiously fanned hatred spearheaded by banned militant outfits. Time and again such incidents take place with impunity and remarkable alacrity. It is to question why the local administration is caught sleeping and why no preventive measures manifest themselves in pre emptive actions.

There is no doubt that the working relationship between the Federal Government and PMLN Government is dysfunctional. It took the Government of Punjab three days to move into a belated action despite warnings given by Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti, the Federal Minister of Minorities Affairs. The provincial government dismissed the factual reporting of the federal minister for over two days and moved reluctantly after all the damage had been done and Faisalabad-Karachi Railway traffic blocked for two days. The Chief Minister has repeatedly postponed his visit to the city citing
security reasons. Meanwhile the frustrations continue to grow resulting in resignations of one federal and one provincial minister.

Reportedly, around 18th of July, intelligence agencies had issued a warning to the Government of Punjab of likely incidents of terrorism in which some enclaves of minority Pakistanis could be targeted. Rather than take this information seriously, the provincial government deemed it fit to act as it did, allowing free access to militant outfits for arson and murder. Perhaps they were too engrossed in the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling sparing no moments for the welfare of its citizens.

The entire incident belying the fragility of our system began at a wedding party in Korrian, a Christian village 6 Kms from Gojra on 29 July. A local guest was escorted out of the celebrations for being drunk. He took revenge by leveraging the Blasphemy slogan in cahoots with some local clerics and sleepers of the banned outfits. The Federal Minister Mr. Bhatti moved into action but all his cautions fell on deaf and defiant ears in Lahore.

The Christian enclave in Gojra is located close to Awan Town named after a local property tycoon Mr. Qadeer Awan. Qadeer also runs and controls many local businesses like CNG and Petrol Pumps. He is reputed to be a very influential PMLN member and financier of the party and sleeper militants. He is known to hold the neighbouring Christian enclave in contempt with a long record of confrontation. He saw the incident at Korrian as an opportunity to settle issues and extract advantage. He is the prime suspect in the FIR, registered after 48 hours of delay. Christians allege that he with his team of sons and relatives master minded the entire operation including movement of militants from Jhang and surrounding areas.

These militants moved on public transport with automatic weapons, explosives and incendiaries with complete impunity despite many Police Check Posts en route. Rather than risk confronting heavily armed militants, the baton wielding local police chose to by stand. A nearby sizable Christian Village Chak 424 was put on hold through an expected militant attack. This was done through messages by militants, clerics and local administration. The village was never attacked but the warnings served to block reinforcements to the besieged people of Gojra. The militants were seen taking orders on cell phones as also pass on information. If all calls on cell phones from the area were to be checked during the arson, it would reveal a long trail of connections leading to militant leaders, politicians and handlers residing outside Pakistan.

But there is a positive side too. Neighbouring Muslim communities gave shelter to men, women and children, escorted them out of the area on their own transport and provided food. Some Pakistani NGOs have also established camps and MQM relief has arrived in trucks from as far away as Sindh. Pathetically, the only missing group is the Government of Punjab.

Standing next to seven caskets on the railway crossing at Gojra, I was questioning myself why seven females were burnt alive with incendiaries and why innocent people shot in the head at point blank. As I write this, two more men have succumbed to burn injuries in the local hospital. The Punjab Government made no efforts to evacuate them to a Burn Hospital in Lahore. I ask myself, did they deserve this treatment. Do Pakistani Christians who put the opportunist Unionist of Punjab to shame by aligning with Jinnah deserve this?

Local Christians allege that PMLN Government is reluctant to act because it fears losing its vote bank in the area. The incident has become a political battle ground between PMLN and PPP in which justice, rule of law and criminal accountability would ultimately be eclipsed. I remain in awe of the political system to move beyond its petty politics.

In an environment where the legal community is charged and Supreme Court taking landmark decisions, it is incumbent to take a look at half laws that provide a pretext for mob justice. The Supreme Court needs to re evaluate Section 295 C of the Pakistan Penal Code and direct the Parliament to frame it in a manner, wherein it cannot be exploited or manipulated.

Original Story at http://pakteahouse.wordpress.com/2009/08/04/victims-of-half-law-in-gojra/

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Political unrest in Gilgit-Baltistan .. ( Abbas Ali for DAWN)

GILGIT-BALTISTAN is a simmering cauldron of discontent. The continued deprivation of political, economic and human rights is driving the people of this strategic northern end of Pakistan to desperation. They have been fighting for their rights not just since 1947, when they won liberation from Dogra rule, but since Dogra occupation of 1848.

A brief review of history will be in order to understand the current hostile attitude of the people towards the current political set-up in Gilgit-Baltistan. The British left the Gilgit Agency on July 31, 1947, two weeks before the independence of the subcontinent. On October 27, 1947 the people of Gilgit-Baltistan defeated the forces of Gansara Singh (Dogra Raj) and achieved independence to celebrate their own ‘Yaum-e-Azadi’ on November 1 and founded a new country ‘Islamic Republic of Gilgit’.

However, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan wanted to be part of the newly-born Pakistan. During the transitional period the ‘Islamic Republic of Gilgit’ approached the founder of Pakistan, Quid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah with a plea to join Pakistan. As a corollary, on November 16, 1947 Pakistan established its administration in the area. But until today the region has not become the legal and political part of Pakistan. Many people in the region think that their efforts and sacrifices of their ancestors have gone waste.

continue to full story

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Dying Symphony by Akmal Khan on Mianwali / Essa Khel musical culture and challenges it faces

Essa Khel (A sub-district in West Punjab), part of Mianwali District, has an illustrious history of producing musical geniuses. The area situated on banks of the mighty Indus River, has music, rag, folk lore, poetry & compositions rivaled by none other in Pakistan.

This short movie by Akmal Khan, presented in Film Festivat "Culture Unplugged" is a brilliant summrization of its musical genius. An area where music had replaced the gun/violence culture around a few decades ago, is again threatened by emergence of religious etremism in the area. The music is facing the biggest threat since it became popular country wide.

Must watch, beautiful, and above all, brilliant "Saraiki" sound over.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

My TAX Money

Capital suggestion
Sunday, June 21, 2009
By Dr Farrukh Saleem


Budget 2009-10 has allocated Rs3 million a day, every single day of the year, for Prime Minister Gilani's foreign tours. That's a wholesome Rs100 million a month or Rs1.2 billion a year. If our prime minister somehow manages to restrain himself from leaving the geographical boundaries of Pakistan the same allocation could mean Rs500 for each and every IDP, every man, woman and child, sick and old. For Rs.1.2 billion, the Utility Stores Corporation can distribute 25 million kilograms of Dal Chana among the 400,000 IDP families so that each family gets 60 kilograms of Dal Chana.

Foreign tours or IDPs? Imagine; if our prime minister forgoes his foreign excursions just for a month the Rs100 million saved that month can go to feed and cloth at least 300,000 IDPs. This is what Rs100 million could buy: 500,000 kilograms of rice plus 100,000 kilograms of sugar, 250,000 kilograms of Dal Masoor, 50,000 kilograms of tea, 25,000 kilograms of red chilli powder, 50,000 kilograms of ghee and 250,000 kilograms of soap. Do you know how much Rs1.2 billion would buy? Six million kilograms of rice plus 1.2 million kilograms of sugar, three million kilograms of Dal Masoor, 600,000 kilograms of tea, 300,000 kilograms of red chilli powder, 600,000 kilograms of ghee and three million kilograms of soap. Do you know how many IDPs can live on that and for how long? Our entire pool of IDPs can live on that for at least two full weeks.

This year, the presidential allocation under the head of budget for "staff, household and allowances" stands at Rs390 million. Imagine; if our president forgoes his budget for "staff, household and allowances" just for a month the Rs30 million saved that month could go to feed and cloth at least 90,000 IDPs. This is what Rs30 million could buy: 150,000 kilograms of rice plus 30,000 kilograms of sugar, 75,000 kilograms of Dal Masoor, 15,000 kilograms of tea, 7,000 kilograms of red chilli powder, 15,000 kilograms of ghee and 75,000 kilograms of soap. Do you know how much Rs390 million would buy? Two million kilograms of rice plus 400,000 kilograms of sugar, one million kilograms of Dal Masoor, 200,000 kilograms of tea, 100,000 kilograms of red chilli powder, 200,000 kilograms of ghee and one million kilograms of soap. Do you know how many IDPs can live on that and for how long? Our entire pool of IDPs can live on that for five full days (all prices as quoted by the Utility Stores Corporation of Pakistan).

Imagine; budget 2009-10 has allocated Rs1 million a day for every day of the year under the head of budget for the president's "staff, household and allowances". For the record, three out of four Pakistanis make Rs160 or less a day. Amazingly, President Zardari took out a mere Rs230 million from the public kitty for his foreign junkets. And, that translates to around Rs20 million a month or a paltry Rs600,000 a day.

On an average day some 200 babies are born to IDP families, around 6,000 babies a month. How about prenatal care, fetal assessment and obstetrics? If our president and our prime minister forgo their foreign travels just for a day the savings would be enough to build, maintain and sustain an outpatient clinic, a primary health care centre plus diagnostic equipment. Imagine; how many hospitals can be built if our leaders forgo their foreign travels for one full year.

There must be some 1.5 million school-age IDPs. How about primary and secondary schools? How about vocational schools? If our president and our prime minster forgo their foreign travels just for a month imagine the number of schools that can be built, teachers hired and children taught?

Look at our priorities: NWFP allocates Rs2 billion for all our IDPs. Islamabad allocates Rs1.2 billion for prime minister's foreign travels, Rs38 million for Islamabad's law courts, Rs2.8 billion for Frontier Constabulary and Rs504 million for Pakistan Coast Guards.

Imagine; budget 2009-10 has current expenditures that actually exceed net government revenue. All this travelling around the globe is in essence on money borrowed in the name of the Islamic Republic. Is this addiction, obsession, compulsion, psychological dependence or just a sweet tooth? Where are our democratically elected MNAs? Hasn't anyone heard of a 'Balanced Budget Amendment' (under which our budget drafters would be under legal obligation to balance all projected revenues and expenditures)?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Donate $5 for Swat IDP's from US Cell phones

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has enabled every American to donate for Internally Displaced Pakisranis by sending a text from their personal cell phone. Now any US citizen can donate for IDPs from their cell phones, they can text the word “swat” — to the number 20222 and make a $5 contribution that will help the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees provide tents, clothing, food, and medicine to hundreds of thousands of affected people.

For Details please visit: http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2009/05/19/clinton-text-aid-straight-to-pakistan/

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Donate for IDPs from Swat

As Pakistan is in the middle of the "War against Terror", there is a huge operation going on in the beautiful valley of Swat. There is an estimate that this operation can force 1.5 million people to leave their homes. There are four big refugee camps set up in order to provide shelter to these displaced Pakistanis. Other than that people have also taken shelter in different schools and government buildings.
There is no need to elaborate on the living conditions in the camps. One more important fact is that number of children under the age of seven is equivalent to the number of adults in these camps.
Right now, they require medicines and powdered milk in large quantities, along with other basic needs that include camps, quilts, mattresses, food items, water, pedestal fans, etc.
We at LUMS have set up a website which allows you to donate to this cause and we will ensure that your money is well spent and reaches the affected.

http://swatrelief.org/

You can donate online as well as through conventional means (cash, cheque, bank draft).

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Swat – a report from the frontline ... Farhat Taj

Recently an AIRRA (Aryana Institute for Regional Research and Advocacy – an Islamabad-based research organisation) investigation team went to some parts of Swat that had been under army attacks. The team observed whether the attacks were targeted at the Taliban and their installations. It observed two villages -- Ladikas and Watkai in Mingora -- and Khwazakhela, a tehsil in Swat. The team with its access to the people of the area could manage to take Besham route from Islamabad to reach Mingora via Khwazakhela. Though continuous curfew and alternate threats from the military posts and the Taliban posts badly hampered the journey of the team but somehow some of the members could manage to reach Mingora via Khwazakhela and Charbagh with the exodus of the people from different parts of Swat valley. The team was able to access and interview several dozens of those families who were still stuck up in the valley.

The team observed that the security forces have successfully destroyed the installations of the Taliban and have disrupted their chain of command in that area. They have killed many Taliban there with very little collateral damage, albeit with the destruction of civilian infrastructure. The best example is the Taliban headquarter in Khwazakhela. The headquarters was located on a mountain. It housed the Taliban operational command led by commander Yamin, the intelligence department led by commander Rashid and the department of logistics and supplies. The aerial bombardment of the Pakistan army reduced all that to rubble. The entire side of the mountain housing the headquarters has been exploded and razed.

The Taliban terrorists had established the headquarters with great efforts. They had cleansed a huge portion of the forest on the mountain to make free space for the building. They recruited the youth on a large scale, strengthened their command and control structure, established their hierarchical structure, planted mines on the main roads, dug bunkers and occupied the strategic passes in only two and a half months. And they did all this after the peace deal agreed with the NWFP government in February of this year.

The team interacted with the people in the area. Most of those killed were confirmed Taliban. There had been almost no serious collateral damage. Nearby buildings collapsed due to the force of explosions. Some people got injuries when hit by the collapsing debris.

Moreover, the army has cordoned off several narrow alleys of Mingora to prevent the Taliban from escaping. The military has cordoned off Swat from the northeast (the Shangla side), the southeast (the Buner side) and the southwest (the Dir side). In Mingora city itself, the Taliban are reported to be lying dead in the streets and local people confirm that some of them are well-known Taliban leaders.

There are still stranded people in Swat. The people are facing enormous difficulties due to power failure and water reservoirs in their homes which have dried up. Food commodities have become scarce and fuel stations have more or less stopped functioning. Soldiers of the Pakistan army and the FC are sharing their limited food rations with the stranded people. This goodwill gesture has earned respect of the stranded people for the security forces.

It is suggested to the army to issue the photos or video clips of the killed Taliban to the media and of the destroyed Taliban installations. Local people and the IDPs often know the Taliban and location of their installations. They would confirm that the dead were indeed the Taliban and the installations shown as destroyed indeed belonged to the Taliban. This is important because it will ensure transparency and reassure people of the success being achieved in the war.

It is highly commendable that the security forces are conducting targeted operations that have considerably damaged the Taliban in Swat. I would once again request the army high command to destroy the Taliban networks, installations, headquarters everywhere in Pakistan, including FATA and south Punjab. Taliban leaders in each and every city or town of Pakistan have to be neutralised. There is a strong connection between the Taliban in Waziristan, Orakzai, Swat, South Punjab, Khost and Kunar in terms of supply of manpower, weapons and chain of command. This connection is the Al Qaeda-linked Jalaluddin Haqqani and his terror secretariat in North Waziristan. This connection has to be broken, which means that Haqqani's 'secretariat' must be destroyed. Other than the military front, the war against militancy also needs to be fought on the ideological battleground -- Talibanisation needs to be denied ideological space in the country's security and state apparatus and this can be done by targeting elements in state structures and institutions deemed as being sympathetic to the militants.

The army must carry the war against the Taliban to its logical end. The army owes it to the Pakhtun and by extension to Pakistan, because the Pakhtun are citizens of the country and hence deserve the same protection by the state as accorded to those in the other provinces. The Pakhtun have always taken pride in giving their best sons to the army. It is now the turn of the army to reciprocate in such a manner that truly honours the Pakhtun martyrs of the army. This means complete elimination of the Taliban so that the Pakhtun live their lives free of the jihadi fear and intimidation. If done successfully, this will bind the Pakhtun even more closely with the state and the army. In that context, the army must convert this war into an opportunity that will substantially contribute towards making Pakistan a successfully functioning multi-ethnic state.

While the army is rising itself to the occasion, the performance of the politicians is dismal. The soldiers are giving their blood to save us from the Taliban. They are sharing their limited food ration with the stranded people. The army has given a share of their salary to support the relief work for the IDPs. Where are political leaders? What is President Zardari doing abroad? He should be visiting the IDPs rather than foreign lands. What is Asfandyar Wali doing in London? Why is Afrasiab Khattak in Dubai? The IDPs constantly complain that the ministers, MPAs and MNAs only come when the media is there and leave soon afterwards, without tending to their (the IDPs) problems.

All MNAs and MPAs, especially those elected by the people of Swat, Dir and Buner, should stay with the IDPs of their respective constituencies as long as possible because these are after all the people who voted them into public office.

Internally Displaced People in Islmabad .... Fauzia Minallah

Following is an email by Fauzia Minallah (funkor.childart@gmail.com) an active civil worker from Islamabad, sent on a volunteer group, making it public, so that it can help create awareness on the situation of IDP's who have migrated to Islamabad.

According to some news reports there are nearly 50,000 IDPs in Islamabad. Civil Society Islamabad, visited 4 locations identified by out of these only one was an informal camp with approximately 40 tents near the Katchi Abadi in G 7/1. The IDPs are not registered in Islamabad and unless they are registered it is difficult to identitify deserving and genuine IDPs.

Amna Paracha and Ghazala Minallah met Sattar Edhi, according to him there should be a camp in Islamabad to identify genuine IDPs only then one can help them. The three other locations we visited, we found the IDPs living with their relatives. Several families cramped in one room.

Their problem is the sudden increase in rents by the locals. They are vulnerable to exploitation by individuals and dodgy NGOs. Despite all these problems atleast there is a roof over their heads. They need to be registered during summer break these families can spend the hot summer months in schools

IDP camp in G 7/1

Amna Paracha and Ghazala Minallah in IDP camp in G 7/2 IDPs camp in G 7/2 Islamabad

IDP camp in G 7/2 IDP camp in G 7/2

IDP camp in G 7/2 PPP workers are running G 7/1 camp

All rights reserved

IDP camp in G 7/2 IDP camp in G 7/2

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IDP camp in G 7/2 IDP camp in G 7/2

IDP camp in G 7/2 IDP camp in G 7/2

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Hazara Colony, Near Nala Leh.Pindi

Hazara Colony, Near Nala Leh.Pindi Swati child in Hazara Colony, Pindi

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Hazara Colony, Near Nala Leh.PindiHazara Colony, Nala Leh Rawalpindi

Swati child in Hazara Colony, Pindi Swati child in Hazara Colony, Pindi

IDP in Golra

Sara Mehmood, Ali Kazmi and Ghazala Minallah in Golra, Islamabad Swati children in Golra, Islamabad

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Swati children in Golra, Islamabad Swati IDPs in Golra, Islamabad


Swati children in Golra, Islamabad Swati children in Golra, Islamabad

Swati child suffering from cancer, in Golra, Islamabad Swati child in Golra, Islamabad

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All rights reserved

Swati child Manan suffering from cancer, in Golra, Islamabad

Swati children in Golra, Islamabad Swati child in Golra, Islamabad

Swati children in Golra, Islamabad

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Here it comes - SC takes up petrol, gas price issue

The court has asked the government to decide whether it will reduce on its own prices of petroleum or let the apex court intervene.—File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the government to decide by Wednesday whether it would reduce on its own prices of petroleum and gas as suggested by a judicial commission or let the apex court intervene.

The judicial commission said in an interim report to the Supreme Court: ‘It is high time that the government should ponder seriously over reducing the burden of petroleum development levy (PDL) and uniform general sales tax (GST) at the rate of 16 per cent.’

Signed by Justice (retd) Bhagwandas, the five-page report observed that ‘freight rates, dollar-rupee parity source, cost of refining, margins allowed to distributors and dealers’ commission (too) need rationalisation and review in the larger public interest’.

Attorney-General Sardar Mohammad Latif Khan Khosa is required to v seek instructions and inform the three-judge bench, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Raja Fayyaz Ahmed and Justice Chaudhry Ijaz Ahmed, about the government’s decision on price reduction by Wednesday.

‘It is open to the Supreme Court to make appropriate directions for the relief in prices of petroleum products as well as natural gas, CNG (compressed natural gas) and LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) as deemed just, fair and proper.’

‘The government is earning profit worth billions of rupees by doing business with its own people,’ Justice Raja Fayyaz said when Advocate Mohammad Ikram Chaudhry read out the interim report before the court.

The chief justice was also unhappy over Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) insensitivity for not reducing petroleum prices by a single penny even though the court was seized with the matter for the past month. read more

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pakistan faces biggest human flood since 1947

complete story: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=103987025

Thousands of civilians fled Pakistan's Swat Valley on Sunday after authorities briefly lifted a curfew. Pakistan's army said its war planes killed at least 180 Taliban militants within a 24-hour period in its all-out offensive in northwestern Swat Valley.

The army's casualty figures cannot be independently verified, but the U.N. warns that the fighting is producing one of the world's largest displacements of people. As they gather in makeshift camps, refugees' attitudes conflict about their plight and just who is responsible for the war that has driven them from their homes.

Across the district of Mardan, row upon neat row of tents is going up as the messy business of housing refugees from the conflict next door in Swat Valley picks up pace.

Swat Valley has become the epicenter of the power struggle between the militants and Pakistan forces. International aid agencies say 200,000 people have already escaped the widening conflict there. Another 300,000 are either on the move or trapped by the fighting.

Hundreds seeking help have overwhelmed the sprawling, century-old tuberculosis hospital that's turned into a receiving center in Mardan city. The new arrivals jostle each other in long lines. A full-throated official, or nazim, steps in as the heat bears down and patience wears thin. "It is our duty as Muslims to support you," he said to applause.

"Within two or three weeks you'll be back home and, God willing, those terrorists in the name of Taliban will be destroyed. Maximum three weeks."

read more ...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Nawaz announces launch of struggle for Baloch people

PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif exchanging views with former Governor Balochistan Lt. Gen. Abdul Qadir Baloch and Hamid Mir Nawaz who called on him at the Punjab House. –APP Photo ISLAMABAD: Leader of Pakistan Muslim League (N) Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday declared that his party would launch a struggle for the redressal of the grievances of the people of the much neglected province of Balochistan on the pattern of the movement for restoration of judges sacked by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

Talking to reporters after a party meeting here at Punjab House, he said the Federation cannot be run without harmony with the federating units. The people of Balochistan had genuine grievances which cannot be ignored any more. He said the small provinces had been neglected during the military rule in the country for about 32 years.

‘The time has come when removal of the sense of deprivation in the province had become inevitable’, he remarked.

He termed the assassination of prominent Baloch leader Nawaz Akbar Bugti during a military operation in the days of Musharraf’s rule as a dictatorial act and said it was a deliberate attempt to lead the country towards anarchy and turmoil. read full story

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Pakistani TV Journalist Takes Camera Inside Pakistani Taliban Held Swat Valley

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akocYqJMukQ&feature=related

With Pakistan's Swat Valley under Taliban control, worldwide interest about how life has changed in the region has grown. Prominent Pakistani journalist Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy recently went to investigate, spending two days in the valley to produce a documentary for the PBS television program "Frontline", which is being streamlined online at pbs.org/frontlineworld. VOA's Ravi Khanna spoke with the journalist and filed this report.

source: VOA's Youtube Channel ( http://www.youtube.com/user/VOAvideo )

Thursday, April 23, 2009

How to clear the mess? Article by Imran Khan

Read the article in URDU

The reason why there is so much despondency in Pakistan is because there is no road map to get out of the so-called War on Terror - a nomenclature that even the Obama Administration has discarded as being a negative misnomer. To cure the patient the diagnosis has to be accurate, otherwise the wrong medicine can sometimes kill the patient. In order to find the cure, first six myths that have been spun around the US-led “Global War on Terror” (GWOT) have to be debunked.

Myth No. 1: This is Pakistan’s war

Since no Pakistani was involved in 9/11 and the CIA-trained Al Qaeda was based in Afghanistan, how does it concern us? It is only when General Musharraf buckled under US pressure and sent our troops into Waziristan in late 2003-early 2004 that Pakistan became a war zone. It took another three years of the Pakistan army following the same senseless tactics as used by the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan (aerial bombardment) plus the slaughter at Lal Masjid, for the creation of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). If our security forces are being targeted today by the Taliban and their suicide bombers, it is because they are perceived to be proxies of the US army. Iran is ideologically opposed to both Al Qaeda and the Taliban yet why are its security forces not attacked by terrorists? The answer is because their President does not pretend to be a bulwark against Islamic extremism in return for US dollars and support.

Michael Scheuer (ex-CIA officer and author of the book Imperial Hubris), writing in The Washington Post in April 2007, cited Musharraf’s loyalty to the US even when it went against Pakistan’s national interests by giving two examples: the first was Musharraf helping the US in removing a pro-Pakistan Afghan government and replacing it with a pro-Indian one; and, the second, for sending Pakistani troops into the tribal areas and turning the tribesmen against the Pakistan army. To fully understand Musharraf’s treachery against Pakistan, it is important to know that almost a 100,000 troops were sent into the tribal areas to target around 1000 suspected Al-Qaeda members - thus earning the enmity of at least 1.5 million armed local tribals in the 7 tribal agencies of Pakistan.

The most shameful aspect of the lie that this is our war is that the government keeps begging the US for more dollars stating that the war is costing the country more than the money it is receiving from the US. If it is our war, then fighting it should not be dependent on funds and material flowing from the US. If it is our war, why do we have no control over it? If it is our war, then why is the US government asking us to do more?

Myth No. 2: This is a war against Islamic extremists รณ an ideological war against radical Islam

Was the meteoric rise of Taliban due to their religious ideology? Clearly not, because the Mujahideen were equally religious - Gulbadin Hekmatyar (supported by the ISI) was considered an Islamic fundamentalist. In fact, the reason the Taliban succeeded where the Mujahideen warlords failed, was because they established the rule of law - the Afghans had had enough of the power struggle between the warlord factions that had destroyed what remained of the country’s infrastructure and killed over 100,000 people.

If the Pushtuns of the tribal area wanted to adopt the Taliban religious ideology then surely they would have when the latter was in power in Afghanistan, between 1996 and 2001. Yet there was no Talibanisation in the tribal areas. Interestingly, the only part of Pakistan where the Taliban had an impact was in Swat where Sufi Mohammad started the Shariat Movement. The reason was that while there was rule of law (based on the traditional jirga system) in the tribal areas, the people of Swat had been deprived of easy access to justice ever since the traditional legal system premised on Qazi courts was replaced by Pakistani laws and judicial system, first introduced in 1974. The murder rate shot up from 10 per year in 1974 to almost 700 per year by 1977, when there was an uprising against the Pakistani justice system. The Taliban cashed in on this void of justice to rally the poorer sections of Swat society just as they had attracted the Afghans in a situation of political anarchy and lawlessness in Afghanistan. It is important to make this distinction because the strategy to bring peace must depend on knowing your enemy. Michael Bearden, CIA station chief in Pakistan from 1986 to 1989, wrote in Foreign Affairs magazine that the US is facing the same Pushtun insurgency that was faced by the Soviets in Afghanistan. According to him, as long as NATO is in Afghanistan, the Taliban will get a constant supply of men from the 15 million Pushtun population of Afghanistan and the 25 million Pushtuns of Pakistan. In other words, this Talibanisation is not so much religion-driven as politically-motivated. So the solution to the problem in the tribal belt today does not lie in religion and “moderate” Islam but in a political settlement.

Myth No. 3: If we keep fighting the US war, the super power will bail us out financially through aid packages.

Recently, the Government’s Adviser on Finance stated that the war on terror has cost Pakistan $35 billion while the country has received only $11 billion assistance from the US. I would go a step further and say that this aid is the biggest curse for the country. Not only is it “blood money” for our army killing our own people (there is no precedent for this) but also nothing has destroyed the self-esteem of this country as this one factor. Moreover, there is no end in sight as our cowardly and compromised leadership is ordered to “do more” for the payments made for their services. Above all, this aid and loans are like treating cancer with disprin. It enables the government to delay the much needed surgery of reforms (cutting expenditures and raising revenues); and meanwhile the cancer is spreading and might become terminal.

Myth No. 4: That the next terrorist attack on the US will come from the tribal areas.

First, there is an assumption, based purely on conjecture, that the Al Qaeda leadership is in the tribal areas. In fact, this leadership could well be in the 70 % of Afghan territory that the Taliban control. More importantly, given the growing radicalisation of the educated Muslim youth - in major part because of the continuing US partiality towards Israeli occupation of Palestinian land - why can it not follow that the next terrorist attack on the US could come either from the Middle East or from the marginalised and radicalised Muslims of Europe, motivated by perceived injustices to Islam and the Muslim World.

Myth No. 5: That the ISI is playing a double game and if Pakistan did more the war could be won.

If Talibanisation is growing in Pakistan because of the covert support of ISI in the tribal areas, then surely the growing Taliban control over Afghanistan (70 % of the territory) must be with NATO’s complicity? Surely a more rational understanding would be to see that the strategy being employed is creating hatred against the US and its collaborators. Aerial bombardment and its devastating collateral damage is the biggest gift the US has given to the Taliban. According to official reports, out of the 60 drone attacks conducted between 14 January 2006-April 8 2009, only 10 were on target, killing 14 alleged Al Qaeda. In the process almost 800 Pakistani civilians have been killed, while many lost their homes and limbs.

Despite its military surge effort, the US will eventually pack up and leave like the Soviets, but the “do more” mantra could end up destroying the Pakistan army - especially the ISI which is being targeted specifically for the mess created by the Bush Administration in Afghanistan.

Myth No. 6: That Pakistan could be Talibanised with their version of Islam.

Both Musharraf and Zardari have contributed to this myth in order to get US backing and dollars. Firstly there is no such precedent in the 15-hundred years of Islamic history of a theocracy like that of the Taliban, outside of the recent Taliban period of rule in Afghanistan. However, as mentioned earlier, the Taliban’s ascendancy in Afghanistan was not a result of their religious ideology but their ability to establish order and security in a war-devastated and anarchic Afghanistan.

In Swat, the present mess has arisen because of poor governance issues. Also, it was the manner in which the government handled the situation - simply sending in the army rather than providing better governance - that created space for the Taliban. Just as in Balochistan (under Musharraf) when the army was sent in rather than the Baloch being given their economic and provincial rights, similarly the army in Swat aggravated the situation and the present mess was created.

What Pakistan has to worry about is the chaos and anarchy that are going to stem from the radicalisation of our people because of the failure of successive governments to govern effectively and justly. Karen Armstrong, in her book The Battle for God, gives details of fundamentalist movements that turned militant when they were repressed. Ideas should be fought with counter ideas and dialogue, not guns. Allama Iqbal was able to deal with fundamentalism through his knowledge and intellect. The slaughter of the fundamentalists of Lal Masjid did more to fan extremism and fanaticism than any other single event.

Pakistan is staring down an abyss today and needs to come up with a sovereign nationalist policy to deal with the situation. If we keep on following dictation from Washington, we are doomed. There are many groups operating in the country under the label of “Taliban”. Apart from the small core of religious extremists, the bulk of the fighting men are Pushtun nationalists. Then there are the fighters from the old Jihadi groups. Moreover, the Taliban are also successfully exploiting the class tensions by appealing to the have-nots. But the most damaging for Pakistan are those groups who are being funded primarily from two external sources: first, by those who want to see Pakistan become a “failed state”; and, second, by those who wish to see the US bogged down in the Afghan quagmire.

What needs to be done: A two-pronged strategy is required - focusing on a revised relationship with the US and a cohesive national policy based on domestic compulsions and ground realities.

President Obama, unlike President Bush, is intelligent and has integrity. A select delegation of local experts on the tribal area and Afghanistan should make him understand that the current strategy is a disaster for both Pakistan and the US; that Pakistan can no longer commit suicide by carrying on this endless war against its own people; that we will hold dialogue and win over the Pushtuns of the tribal area and make them deal with the real terrorists while the Pakistan army is gradually pulled out.

At the same time, Pakistan has to move itself to ending drone attacks if the US is not prepared to do so. Closure of the drone base within Pakistan is a necessary beginning as is the need to create space between ourselves and the US, which will alter the ground environment in favour of the Pakistani state. It will immediately get rid of the fanaticism that creates suicide bombers as no longer will they be seen to be on the path to martyrdom by bombing US collaborators. Within this environment a consensual national policy to combat extremism and militancy needs to be evolved centring on dialogue, negotiation and assertion of the writ of the state. Where force is required the state must rely on the paramilitary forces, not the army. Concomitantly, Pakistan needs serious reforms. First and foremost we have to give our people access to justice at the grassroots level - that is, revive the village jury/Panchayat system. Only then will we rid ourselves of the oppressive “thana-kutchery” culture which compels the poor to seek adjudication by the feudals, tribal leaders, tumandars and now by the Taliban also - thereby perpetuating oppression of the dispossessed, especially women.

Second, unless we end the system of parallel education in the country where the rich access private schools and a different examination system while the poor at best only have access to a deprived public school system with its outmoded syllabus and no access to employment. That is why the marginalised future generations are condemned to go to madrassahs which provide them with food for survival and exploit their pent up social anger. We need to bring all our educational institutions into the mainstream with one form of education syllabus and examination system for all - with madrassahs also coming under the same system even while they retain their religious education specialisation.

Third, the level of governance needs to be raised through making appointments on merit in contrast to the worst type of cronyism that is currently on show. Alongside this, a cutting of expenditures is required with the leadership and the elite leading by example through adoption of an austere lifestyle. Also, instead of seeking aid and loans to finance the luxurious lifestyle of the elite, the leadership should pay taxes, declare its assets and bring into the country all money kept in foreign banks abroad. All “benami” transactions, assets and bank accounts should be declared illegal. I believe we will suddenly discover that we are actually quite a self-sufficient country.

Fourth, the state has to widen its direct taxation net and cut down on indirect taxation where the poor subsidise the rich. If corruption and ineptitude are removed, it will be possible for the state to collect income tax more effectively.

A crucial requirement for moving towards stability would be the disarming of all militant groups - which will a real challenge for the leadership but here again, the political elite can lead by example and dismantle their show of guards and private forces.

Finally, fundamentalism should be fought intellectually with sensitivity shown to the religious and heterogeneous roots of culture amongst the Pakistani masses. Solutions have to be evolved from within the nation through tolerance and understanding. Here, we must learn from the Shah of Iran’s attempts to enforce a pseudo-Western identity onto his people and its extreme backlash from Iranian society.

The threat of extremism is directly related to the performance of the state and its ability to deliver justice and welfare to its people.

Source: The News

Monday, April 20, 2009

LUMS Student Killed: Call CCPO Lahore and Protest

Three drunk people hit and killed a LUMS student early this morning, also severely injuring two other students. The students were walking near H block. The DHA police have been busy helping the culprits. Almost 500 students are protesting against this inaction in Defence right now. Please join the protest, if that is not possible, make one phone call to the police cheif of lahore and protest. Help keep the pressure up!

CCPO Lahore, DIG Pervaiz Rathore

0301-4093189

042-9202976

P.S. Please spread this around. Remember every phone call counts!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Yelling Yelling and more Yelling ...

UK Police

UK Police

LAHORE, Pakistan: The 11 Pakistani students arrested in Britain will be released, as the authorities have not found any evidence against them, Pakistan High Commissioner to London Wajid Shamsul Hassan has said. Hassan said the arrests were a mistake on the part of British intelligence agencies, a private TV channel reported. He said the British government had exaggerated the incident (UK PM used “Very Big Terrorist Plot” while talking about it), adding the remand ... read more

Monday, April 13, 2009

Balochistan and Baloch Nationalism

Many in Pakistan, especially the generation of the 80’s and 90’s, cut off from the 60’s & 70’s erra by the State’s crackdown on information, publication and news during Military regime of Gen Zia, view Baloch Nationalism as a relatively recent phenomenon. The fact of the matter, however, is that Baloch Nationalist political and armed movements have recurrently arisen in the Balochistan after its division among Iran, Afghanistan & British India in late 19th and early 20th century.

Original Balochistan:

The information regarding an original Baloch State is shady, But a great deal is known about the early Baloch history through recent academic research and different historically prominent resources, which include the work of the famous poet Firdousi, when he details out the war between Alexander The Great & Baloch when he returns to Babylon via Balochistan. The secret documents prepared by the British Indian government in late 19th century and early 20th century by the British Indian ambassadors to Khanate of Kallat, War descriptions of Baloch forces who fought against Astyages (585-550 B.C.) and surviving texts and records from 1200 B.C. put them as an effective military and political force in time of Cyrus The Great and Cambyses. And they point out that:

  • Balochistan, a predominantly tribal state, has a loose, localized structure of power. Prime powers were delegated to the local ‘Sardar’. Khanate of Balochistan had its capital at Kallat.
  • The pre-dominant life style of Baloch, was reported to be semi-Nomadic and agricultural.
  • Baloch religions have evolved over the history of 2 millennia, but by late 19th century, it is on record that they are predominantly Sunni Muslims with exception of Zikiri’s in Turbat (still present in Turbat) and a minor population of Shia’s.

ThThe geographical area consisting Balochistan was

  • Kech and Makran(East Makran is now part of Iran, West Makran is now part of Pakistan, previously part of Sultanate of Oman)
  • Khanate of Kallat(Modern day Kallat Division, encompassing Panjgur, Turbat, Khuzdar, and probably Jafarabad & Naseerabad)
  • Sibi
  • Southern Punjab Districts of D.G. Khan, Rajanpur & Rahim Yar Khan
  • Jacobabad(modern day Jacobabad distt. Of Sindh),
  • Siestan (the modern day Siestan province of Iran including Zahidan, Taftan and port city of Chabahar)
  • Registan ( South of Helmand River of Afghanistan, part of modern Afghan provinces of Farah & Nimruz)
  • A migration to Oman, reported around 200 years ago, made a strong Baloch community there. currently Oman’s 35% population is Baloch. However, Baloch Nationalists don’t lay claim to this geographical area.

Mir Jalal Khan In the 12th century united a total of 44 Baloch tribes to form a consolidated Baloch political authority. Rind Lashkari’s established a Confederacy in 15th century in the command of legendary Mir Chakar Khan Rind. Khanate of Balochistan was established in the 17th century with headquarters in Kallat.

Division of Balochistan

Before the division of Balochistan, it was governed by Kahante of Kallat, recognized as an Independent state by British India. After the division of Balochistan (which was motivated by countering Russian influence in the region) and pleasing the pro-Russian Iran & pro-British Afghanistan, Kahante of Kallat was given the status of ‘Proctorate of Kallat’ and considered part of British India.

  • The Perso-Baluch division (The Goldsmid Line) took place in 1871 and through 1895 till 1905, during which Siestan and West makran were awarded to Iran.
  • Baloch Afghan frontiers were demarked in 1895, during which areas of Balochistan in Farah and Nimruz were given to Afghanistan.
  • The British annexation of Balochistan in British India followed soon after which put the Jacobabad in Sindh and D.G. Khan in Punjab.

Annexation to Pakistan:

Khan of Kallat, on 15th August 1947, one day after lifting of British Raj from Indian Sub Continent, declared Balochistan as an independent state. Mr. Jinnah, whose party was supported by the Khan during the 1946 elections was close to Khan of Kallat. He insisted on annexation of Balochistan with Pakistan. His visit to Kallat, was part of the effort to convince him to annex to Pakistan.

On April 1, 1948, Balochistan was annexed to Pakistan, officially, but not without a military presence in Kallat and adjoining areas. Baloch Nationalist are of the view that it was a full scale invasion, but keeping in view Pakistan Army’s commitment in Kashmir and its resource lessness at the time, others argue that it was a will full act on part of Khan of Kallat. The two opposing arguments still exist today.

Rise of Baloch Nationalism

Late 1920’s and early 1930’s saw a major political and armed revolt against the British Indian government. It was a time when suffering of Baloch people was felt across India, it eventually led to Mr. Jinnah’s demand of rights for Balochistan and providing state services in Balochistan in his 14 point agenda of demands presented in 1929.

In 1948, when Balochistan was officially annexed to Pakistan, with promise of greater provincial autonomy. Many people including brother of the then Khan of Kallat, Karim Khan did not agree with it. He was in favour of an independent Balochistan. He waged a small guerilla resistance for around an year.

In 1954, When the Government of Pakistan made the West Pakistan ‘One Unit’, and abolished all the provinces, a political movement started in Balochistan. Demand of this movement was re-establishment of Balochistan as a province, and providing the political provincial rights promised in 1948. Army operation went underway in Kallat which led to arrest of Khan of Kallat, and many others. A Baloch leader, Nouroz Khan, led an armed campaign against the Army, he was arrested in 1959, and died in prison in 1964.

In 1973, after Mr. Bhutto’s visited Iran, the then Shah of Iran demanded that Pakistan should show its commitment to Iran as a friendly nation, and act against Baloch insurgents, crossing over to Iran’s western borders, from Pakistan. That resulted in a Military Operation in Balochistan.

The position of Pakistan Government was that this military operation was intended to crush the support elements for insurgency in Iran, while the Baloch position saw a rift towards an independent ideology rather than political autonomy as a province.

Soon after the discovery of 350 soviet machine guns and thousands of rounds of ammo in Iraqi Embassy, allegedly enroute for Kallat. Provincial government was dismissed and Army moved in Balochistan, with an alleged air support of Iranian Cobra Helicopters.

The number reported during that time by international media puts military casualties around 3,000 and tribesmen casualties around 5,000.

In 1977, when Gen. Zia took over, he declared victory in Balochistan and Army moved out.

It is perceived that there was a period of lull during 80’s. However many groups such as BPLF and BLA started to emerge during that time. The Government of Pakistan maintained that pro-Russian Communist Government in Afghanistan was behind funding and training of BPLF & BLA. It can be noted that the BLA’s policy of pursuing Greater Balochistan includes the Afghani Provinces of Fara and Nimruz, which is contradictory to the then Afghan Government’s position, on the other hand many analysts believe that after withdrawal of Russian troops from Afghanistan, BPLF seized to exist and BLA was reduced to a very small support base.

During Gen. Musharraf’s regime, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, the former C.M. of Balochistan, former Federal Minister, lead a media based campaign against Federal Governments policies towards Balochistan. Armed skirmishes were erupting around Balochistan targeting Gas pipelines and similar installations. A political dialogue led by PML-Q failed, the Army then again moved in Balochistan, which led to siege of Kohlu for weeks and Dera Bugti for months, and eventual death of Nawab Bugti.

The military spokesman of the time, maintained a position that Nawab was being supported by India via Afghanistan and had made an armed coup against the state. However opposition political parties, condemned this killing, and many liberal newspapers wrote editorials against this act.

Killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti was turning point for many Baloch leaders who believed in a political struggle for provincial autonomy, including Nawab Akhtar Mengal who, along with many others was arrested.

The infamous missing persons case, includes, the names of 450 Baloch nationalists as well, which eventually became the reason for illegal removal of Chief Justice of Pakistan.

A reported 900 Baloch tribesmen have lost there lives since then, engaged in conflict with the Army.

Balochistan Alaskan Model

When the new Government took power, the infamous constitutional package of Mr. Zardari, which was rejected by PML-N since it gave cover to unconstitutional orders of Gen. Musharraf of Nov 3, had infact, a proposition for Balochistan.

Soon after release of all Baloch leaders, with whom government went into dialogue, which led to formation of a clause in the package, that all resources in Balochistan were to be divided among province and Federation on a 80% provincial and 20% Federal share. No settler, not hailing from the current population of Balochistan will be given citizenship in Balochistan and right to vote. Only locals can vote. Gwadar port will be under control of Government of Balochistan.

Mr. Zardari cleverly tied it with the acceptance of the package as a whole, to create pressure on Mr. Nawaz Shareef. Mr. Nawaz Shareef rejected it on the pretext described earlier. Thus this political tug-of-war deprived people of Balochistan, with an important step towards addressing their suffering.

Unfortunately, an year has passed since then, and no one, from Government or the Opposition has said anything about it. Except the usual lip serving, nothing has been done.

Balochi Sex Slave scandal

A lot of Baloch were infuriated by this scandal. The details of this scandal surfaced with context to 23 year old Zarina Marri, a school teacher from a respected Baloch tribe, who was arrested in 2005 from Balochistan.

Mr. Munir Mengal, the managing director of a Balochi-language television channel, was arrested on April 4, 2006 from Karachi International airport by the state intelligence agencies and transferred to a secret jail in Karachi for nine months He narrated the story of the forced sex slavery of the young teacher Zarina Marri whom he encountered in a military cell. He was of the view that many other young women were held in captivity and forced into sex slavery; this is used as a tool to disgrace the rebellious Baloch Tribes.

Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF) and Asian Human Rights Commission has issued statement validating the fears of Baloch Nationalists. Other Baloch Nationalists have also reported similar incidents.

Resignation of Baloch Leaders from Parliament and Senate.

Senator Sanaullah Baloch resigned from Senate, soon after elections citing ‘Concurrent List’ and short falls of 1973 constitution and military actions as reasons for suffering of people of Balochistan. The Balochistan National Party had resigned all its seats from parliament in protest over killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti .

This is creating fears among many, that Baloch Nationalists, are moving away from parliamentary and mainstream politics, as they don’t see any change in sufferings of Baloch people. The only path left, then, is either that of a military engagement or political struggle for a sovereign Balochistan.

Recent Killing of Baloch Nationalist Leaders:

Bodies of three prominent Baloch nationalist leaders, Baloch National Movement chairman Ghulam Mohammad Baloch, Baloch Republican Party members Lala Muneer Baloch and Sher Mohammad Baloch whose bodies were found in Turbat, which sparked a violent streak of protests across Balochistan and Karachi. These members were reportedly arrested from the office of a former Opposition Leader in Balochistan Parliament. The Army spokesman has denied it categorically.

Nawab Akhtar Mengal, a prominent Baloch leader, and former parliamentarian, however, maintains his accusations against state intelligence agencies.

MQM held a rally on 12th April against the killings, while Supreme Court Bar Association has called for a week long strike of courts by Lawyers, All major political parties have condemned this act, as well as UN, US and Pakistan Army.

A statement issued by the US embassy confirmed that BNM leader Ghulam Mohammed Baloch played an active role in securing the release of American citizen and UNHCR official John Solecki, who was recently freed after being held for over two months.

The Modern Balochistan

According to Najam Sethi, editor-in-chief of Daily Times, in his T.V. program on April 12, for the first time in history of Balochistan a vast urban middle class is rising, it is nationalist in its political outlook. If something regarding suffering of Baloch people is not done soon, it will move along with the separatists version of a political future.

Baloch Nationalism in 50’s and 60’s was considered under the effect of Marxist-Leninist ideology. Even today, it is considered religiously liberal and moderate. Many analysts believe that it can be a force which is not allowing Talbanization to take place in Balochistan, if Baloch Nationalists are not heard, who are increasing their sympathies with separatist military groups like Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) things might take another turn.

The Baloch Nationalist movement, has taken a position, questioning participation in parliamentary politics. Even the mainstream politicians like Nawab Akhtar Mengal, are now airing their concerns of becoming part of political, parliamentary process.

The Pashtun population of the areas such as Pishin, Ziarat & Quetta consider themselves as a separate ethnic group. In 1992 armed clashes between the two led to imposition of curfew in Quetta and adjoining areas. This is another issue, relating to identity of a community of Balochistan, which is un-resolved.

Hazara population dominating the largest urban area of the province, Quetta, considers itself as a separate ethnic groups. They are not considered Baloch by Balochi’s. Though a minor population, but influential in Quetta and surrounding areas, have been ignored in the past, and remain one of the under progressed communities.

Pakistani media, military and Government Spokesmen, have repeatedly said that a cash in-flux from Indian Embassies in Afghan cities near Pakistan border, is the cause of recent upheaval.

Whatever the case, If issues of Balochistan are not addressed, and they are either ignored, or crushed upon by use of force, they might, soon, unanimously opt for an independent country, rather than a Province with liberties and rights they have demand in past.

Some Stats (provided by UNPO)

Population
The total population of Baloch is 13 to 15 million people. Although there are no independent figures about Baloch population in Iran, it is approximated at 4 million Baloch, who do not enjoy even limited political and cultural autonomy. The Baloch population is deliberately sidelined and marginalized in policy and practice by the occupant governments of Pakistan, Iran & Afghanistan.

Language
The Baloch speak Balochi and Brahui derived from the Indo-European - and Dravidian branches of language respectively.

Culture and religion

The majority of Baloch are Sunni Muslims with small minorities of Shia and Zekri.
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