After today’s ghastly attacks on the Ahmadi community of Pakistan, one can only despair at the state of affairs. The essay below was recently published in a publication and I am also posting it here for the readers. It is imperative that we speak up for the rights of fellow Pakistanis who are being constantly […]
An interview of – Ali Dayan Hasan (Director, Human Rights Watch) taken by me, published in TFT December 30 – January 05, 2012 – Vol. XXIII, No. 46
Q. HRW has consistently commented on civil-military relations in Pakistan. Why is this aspect of Pakistan’s politics so important for human rights?
Since 2008, Pakistan has made yet another attempt at a transition from direct military rule to rights-respecting constitutional governance. But history teaches us that this moment is as fleeting as it is special. It would be naïve to assume that the 2008 general election has transformed power relations in the country. Pakistan remains a praetorian state structured and geared to service, above all, the needs of a military that remains every bit as convinced as ever that Pakistan’s national interest is synonymous with its institutional priorities and the preservation of its position as the final arbiter of political power and patronage. Indeed, Pakistan’s foreign and national security policies are primarily controlled by the military. In the absence of civilian oversight, and given the military’s history, greater abuses will ensue unless Pakistan’s elected institutions assert themselves.
Q. What are the worrying flashpoints in HRW’s view?
It is hardly a secret that the government and the military are engaged in both a legal and political confrontation over the so-called “Memogate” affair. HRW finds it reassuring that both the Supreme Court Chief Justice and Army chief General Kiyani have ruled out military intervention. Indeed all arms of the state must act within the constitutionally determined ambit and in aid of legitimate civilian rule. In this context, justice must both be done and be seen to be done. Pakistan desperately needs a full democratic cycle and a peaceful transfer of power from one civilian administration to another. Should this process be derailed, the constitutional safeguards and legal rights protections created since 2008 may suffer irreparable damage. […]
Fearless and a formidable fighter, Asma Jahangir personifies the struggles Pakistanis have initiated against shameful cultural practices, discriminatory legislation and executive excess. A frail woman has kept the torch of public liberties, freedom and democracy alive for decades. Born on January 27, 1952, in Karachi, Asma Jahangir during the last forty years has become a champion of women, child and minority rights and in many ways the conscience of Pakistan.
A leading Pakistani lawyer and an advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Jahangir is most renowned for her role as a human rights activist, a role which has made her confront military dictatorships of General Zia-ul-Haq and General Pervez Musharraf and the civilian autocrats. In 1972, Asma Jahangir was only 18 when she filed her first petition to have her father — who had been arrested for denouncing the genocide in Bangladesh — released from prison. In a landmark judgment ten years later, she won the case. In fact, the earliest and perhaps the only judgment against a military coup is now attributed to her name. Her resistance to army’s role in politics […]
From an interview that I conducted:
There is, of course, a nationalist discourse, as shrill as it is bogus, centered on US-bashing and lionizing dubious characters such as Afia Siddiqui. The US and Pakistani role in the strange tale of Ms. Siddiqui is murky but she herself has suspiciously failed to […]
Courtesy Fouzia Saeed
DISSPELLING THE MYTHS ABOUT TALIBAN
Myth: The root cause of Terrorism is extreme poverty and lack of education
Reality: This is not true. There are many countries in the world that suffer from extreme poverty but do not have terrorist groups. Within Pakistan many areas are more poor than Swat, but have not become violent. On the other hand people who have become terrorists are not doing anything to eradicate poverty or provide education. Terrorists merely use the resentment of the marginalized and those resentful of other state actions in the initial phase of their ideological campaign. Once in control, they tax the poor, destroy school buildings and stop girls from going to schools. Most of those who have been killed due to militant attacks are women, peasants and the poor. […]
How horrific to read this news-analysis with this grim end-note:”while the bourgeoisie likes to proclaim India the “world’s largest democracy,” it is increasingly indifferent and hostile to democratic rights and is turning to authoritarian forms of rule.”
India: Supreme Court judge advocates “animal rights” for alleged terrorists
The third most senior judge on India’s Supreme Court has bluntly said in a public forum that alleged terrorists should be denied “human rights.” Instead terror suspects should be treated like animals. “What is required are animal rights,” declared Supreme Court Justice Arijit Pasayat. […]