women

Exodus from Pakistan’s troubled north presents risks, opportunities

27 June 2014

By Raza Rumi, Special to CNN

Polio

 

Pakistan’s much-awaited military offensive in North Waziristan was launched more than a week ago, and followed an attack on Karachi airport that left at least 36 people dead.

Due to the strategic calculations of the Pakistani state, North Waziristan has steadily fallen into the hands of motley militant networks, and has become a mountainous zone for the Pakistani Taliban to recruit, regroup and launch attacks against the country.

The Pakistani Army conducted a similar operation in the Swat Valley in 2009, not too far from the tribal areas, that has been a relative success in reclaiming territory. It is unclear which direction the latest operation will go. But a major humanitarian crisis is brewing in the wake of the new offensive.

As of Wednesday, the government had registered over 450,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) who have been fleeing the area in view of the aerial bombardments and warnings by military authorities. There are fears the figures could be much higher. (more…)

MQM’s MNA Tahira Asif Died, a clear Target Killing

20 June 2014

MQM’s legislator Tahira Asif has been killed after being shot 4 times by “unknown” assailants in Lahore two days ago. She raised the issue of cleaning Punjab University from Al-Qaeda elements. My tweets!

Farzana Parveen and the death of the state

1 June 2014

Farzana’s brutal murder represents all that is wrong with us.

It has become a useless routine to condemn the most ghastly acts of violence and injustice in Pakistan. For many, these are daily occurrences and thus the levels of desensitisation have grown. So has the brutalisation of society, when it adapts to some bare facts and upholds and sometimes celebrates the worst of what constitutes custom, tradition or ‘culture’. What else would explain the fact that there were dozens of passerby near the Lahore High Court — known for its imposing architecture and not the delivery of justice now — who silently witnessed the death of a woman scorned for choosing her partner? Worse, the police did not intervene either. This has become the norm with what we know as the ‘state’ in Pakistan. It chooses to remain indolent, indifferent and even complicit at times. This has left the citizen vulnerable. The weaker you are, the more chance there is of your life meaning absolutely nothing.

A few weeks ago, I underwent the worst of nightmares. Seeking help on a roadside with two wounded men: one almost dead and the other struggling to stay conscious. My romanticism for my own country was shattered on that fateful night of March 28. I am privileged and lucky that I escaped a brutal, unsung death but a life was lost. A large crowd had gathered to ogle at the blood sport but none of them was willing to help in taking a near-dead body out of the car. On a busy street, no car was willing to stop to take my injured driver to the hospital. Farzana’s death and her calls for help have only reopened my wounds — far from healed and as painful as before. This state of our society, drunk on honour, pride, ghairat and other medieval notions of self-worth, has crossed all tolerable levels of dysfunction. Yes, two girls were also hanged, allegedly gang-raped in India, and crimes against women are prevalent in other societies as well. But, at least, there is collective uproar, pressure on the governments and results. (more…)

Farzana’s honour killing is a national shame

28 May 2014

My outrage – sadly limited to social media on the brutal stone age murder of a pregnant woman in Pakistan’s ostensibly ‘developed’ city

Women, pilgrimage and nation building in South Asian Sufism

12 November 2010

Came across this interesting abstract of a paper entitled Beyond division: Women, pilgrimage and nation building in South Asian Sufism authored by Pnina Werbner. Can’t wait to read it.
Unlike other religious movements, Sufi orders rarely preach ideologies of either nationalism or religious nationalism. Sufi annual pilgrimages and festivals are open and inclusive: they cut across provincial and even national borders. They gather followers traversing vast distances across the entire country to the order’s centre. This feature of movement in and across space, and of gendered, ethnic, regional and caste mixing, the paper argues, creates networks of devotees criss-crossing Pakistan, connecting villages, workplaces and large organisations. Pilgrims come together in amity, and in doing so create the grounds for nation building. Women take an active part in these pilgrimages and celebrations, and visit the lodge as supplicants seeking help for a variety of afflictions. In connecting people and spaces across the whole of Pakistan, rich and poor, men and women, Punjabis, Sindhis, Pathans, Baluchis and Muhajirs, Sufi orders thus reach out beyond the local to create the performative and embodied experience of moral relations between strangers, arguably the essential pre-condition and grounds of nationhood, without explicitly articulating ideologies of nationalism or of a global.

UK Election: Yasmin Qureshi, MP

12 May 2010

Yasmin Qureshi, a barrister in the UK, is one of the few Muslim women of Pakistani origin to have entered the British Parliament. Despite the overall inconclusive results of the election, Qureshi’s election is most delightful.

YQ has been an old friend and colleague in the United Nations. Her integrity and competence were well-recognised across . This time the constituents of Bolton East have noted that by voting her in as their representative. I remember that YQ was also outspoken, confident and quite passionate about her beliefs.

Well done YQ and viva democracy – even in times of terror and Islamophobia, democratic process has the ability to undo and trash the media cultivated myths.

This is why we need more democracy in Pakistan to correct the ills of the current electoral system.

More on Fahmida Riaz

30 March 2010

Thanks to Isa Daudpota  who sent me the text and the translated poems after he had heard Kamila Shamsie talk about her..

Fahmida Raiz, who graduated from Sindh University and married in 1965, has published several volumes of poetry. During the Martial Law regime she was editor and publisher of the magazine, Awaaz. In all, fourteen court cases of sedition were filed against the magazine, one of which (under section 114A) carried a death penalty. She escaped to India whilst on bail, with her husband and tow children, where she lived for seven years. She worked as Poet-in-Residence at Jamia Millia, an Indian university, during this period.

She has translated Erich Fromme’s Fear of Freedom and Sheikh Ayaz’s poetry, from Sindhi into Urdu. Since the restoration of democracy she has returned to live in Pakistan and served as Director General of Pakistan’s National Book Council in Islamabad when Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party was in power. (more…)

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