Thursday, November 29, 2007

Missing in Pakistan (hi-res)

Independently produced documentary about the abduction and illegal detention of Pakistani citizens by Pakistani intelligence agencies. The film is circulating informally among concerned citizens in Pakistan as the subject is too "hot" for commercial channels. This is truth-telling at its bravest, unflinching best. Watch, share, distribute. Learn.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Pakistan - A true sad story

What did the people of Pakistan get in the last 60 plus years from the so called leaders of Pakistan or the Pakistani ruling parties?? Nothing, absolutely nothing at all is what they got, most would say.

If you ask the common man, the peasant, the average person on the streets of Pakistan he will tell you the same. Many average Pakistanis say the truth is that Pakistani people, whoever they are, got no recognition as Pakistanis in the first place. Either they are called Punjabi, Pathan, Balochi, Sindhi or to the shame of the entire partition of India, Muhajirs, immigrants, are a few examples of how people are usually referred to in the not so Urdu speaking Pakistan. The real Pakistan. I know it too as it is my mother land, but that was India, so my homeland, the land of the pure, might not be, all that.

The fact that the people of Pakistan were never given any incentives, living examples, material support nor encouragement in being called Pakistanis or in return to be a part of a broken down and departed land of the warring nations. The term Pakistani is a combination of people mostly from different ethnic backgrounds, all put together in one basket without even asking them.

The result now, decades of cheating and looting and corruption eating away all that’s left of the little Pakistan. PPP, ARD, PML Q or PML N, PTI, MMA, MQM, ISI, CIA, Terrorists, fundamentalists, radicals, or just simply crazy warlords who can all be branded as loyalist terrorists working to eat Pakistan from the grass root to the top, fulfilling their legacies just like how their ancestors did in the past.

Sindh is as barren and desolate as it were when Benazir Bhutto's dad Zulfiqar Bhutto ruled, criticsa rgue that Punjab takes away most of the budget just like administrations before Nawaz Shariff has done, Baluchistan, don’t bother asking about them as they are not regarded as people in the eyes of the country's rich elite rulers, but as a burden on Pakistan, and north west frontiers, even the title that we have given to that state is shameful, as if we don’t regard them as anything but some frontier provinces waiting to defend a country that has never been their own in the first place.

Now, when Musharraf, who only seemed like a lonely voice coming to save the poor and the dying middle class through the intervention of the army, army again?, army being another caretaker, nurturer, protector of Pakistan that only consumes 80 percent budget of the country, protecting Pakistan again seemed like an impossible but probable task keeping in view how the army has always shed or saved Pakistan's skin in the past. But now, surprisingly this man, who seemed to make a headway, now seems to be doing something good for Pakistan, despite the hurdles put against him. But political watchdogs and critics argue that the so called political parties have tried to damage the country from inside and out instead of helping to flourish it, and now they are all standing united against him, to over throw him, this clearly shows the motives of most of the political parties or landlord gangs in Pakistan, but it seems difficult to understand what do they actually want from Pakistan or to steal again from it. See how their activists protest on the streets or kill another party member just to show bloodshed in Pakistan. But not to say, that the Government and the Army intelligence agencies wont do that too, they are all thieves as far as the people are concerned. But how can you simply not trust anyone? Can we leave Pakistan stranded again, do you have any other candidate or choice besides Musharraf? And if Musharraf wants democracy thriving with a happier wealtheir successful Pakistan, then what would you call those people who are fighting trying to appose him? asks, the common painter on the streets of downtown Karachi, critics say.

Nothing done on education, nothing done on providing livelihood for the poorest of the poor of Pakistan, nothing done to stop child abuse, nothing done to uplift the disgusting literacy rate, nothing done to provide access to health care, retirement, pension funds plummeting to the lowest levels in the world, what the hell’s going on??? Why is the Pakistani poor being constantly consumed by the elite? When that poor Pakistani will rise, that day will be called a revolution.

What did Kennedy do when the white supremacists attacked the Africans Americans when all they wanted was to go to school, he retaliated with the military force, why?/, well that’s because all they could understand was that. When no one in Pakistan wants to talk, but before commencing a dialog wants to break your face, then what do you do??? Pakistan, keeping in view all her diversity, is an extremely dangerous and difficult place to live, and yet so many innocent Pakistanis have been doing so for the past 6 decades, all they want is to live, work, prosper, they struggle and then they die at some street corner, while chanting away slogans of harmony and good faith of their party leaders. Who will be held accountable for letting millions of people miss out on basic amenities of a good life??? Who are responsible for the millions of lives lost in Pakistan by the hands of their own disgraced leadership and democracy makers and dictators and blood feuds, and killing of your people by your own people?
Some might say, that is how life is, in many parts around the world, but the question is, is that the only way to live you life? Or is there a better way, to get to a better place?

It is surprising and at the same time encouraging, seeing the people's global response with reference to the emergency in Pakistan. Not only from the west but also from India, Nepal and UK, people from different cast, creed and religions got together to demonstrate their solidarity towards the people of Pakistan. But people who are well fed and don’t have empty stomachs, make a lot of common sense. No one is talking about the actual plight of the people, the face of that common Pakistan whom you might get a glimpse of in the background of an image of some bomb blast, standing shocked and dazed and stunned to his brains. Who would care about him?? Everyone’s after their own personal gains to maybe win an award, or get noticed or maybe to get some sort of a political asylum, or maybe just to show their faces or how they say in Pakistan, if you are not a political journalist then you are not a journalist at all, and that coming from a very senior Pakistani journalist. No wonder why Pakistanis in the media business never think about social journalism, entrepreneurship, ethics and codes of conduct in broadcasting and getting the citizen so aware and involved that he intelligently rises to the challenge with the entire community, and then you bring a policy change and revolution on a national scale, in the real sense, not just by shouting slogans and carrying banners.

I wonder why no one thinks about social journalism in Pakistan, the youth is being falsely misled.

I think of the Pakistan that I remember, like the screen shot you see on top, these are the kinds of sunrises we use to see. But then again, its like asking, is Iraq better off now or during the time of Saddam?

This was unthinkable prior to the proclamation of the emergency rule, it seems as if the global audience was waiting for the people of Pakistan to get up and react so that the peoples call for a free and democratic society would not only be heard but will also be acknowledged and commended. But did the people of Pakistan react or was it just a tiny little part of the entire society that you just saw, bank rolled by the opposing political regimes with their own agendas and vendettas?

A child asks me, do you think they will let Musharraf live, I look at him with deep longing eyes, and say, only if you allow them not to let him live.

But as the title of M. Hanif Raza's book suggests, "The best of Pakistan", is yet to come.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Is it martial law or emergency in Pakistan?

Dr. Walter Andersen has worked as Chief of State Department's South Asia Division in the Office of Analysis for the Near East and South Asia. He assumed his duties as Associate Director of the South Asia Studies program in July of 2003. Before the launch of the new program at Johns Hopkins, he taught several courses on South Asia at SAIS School of Advanced International Studies. In addition to holding several key positions within the State Department, including special assistant to the ambassador at the Embassy in New Delhi, he has taught at the University of Chicago and the College of Wooster.

Mr. Anderson's reflections on President Bush's phone call to President Musharraf and much more on Pakistan's current emergency crisis.

Ambassador Schaffer from CSIS - Pakistan in an emergency

Former American diplomat and now Director of the South Asia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Teresita Schaeffer, says that whatever that's happening in Pakistan was in a way expected. Not because of some conspiracy theories but because of the conditions within and on the ground in Pakistan. Ambassador Teresita Schaffer joined CSIS in August 1998 after a 30-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service. She devoted most of her career to international economic issues with a focus on South Asia. Ambassador Schaffer speaks many languages, and the best part is that one of those languages... is Urdu.

The story can also be viewed at

America's response to the Emergency crisis in Pakistan

Beyond the headlines, Voice of Americas Urdu flagship TV program caught up with some of the think tanks, funding and research institutes in Washington DC to weigh in on the current situation in Pakistan. Experts include Caroline Wadhams from the Center for American progress, Patricia Taft from the Fund for peace and Naeem Salik from SAIS Johns Hopkins.

You can also watch the story on

Appeal for support to lawyers and judges in Pakistan

Appeal for support to lawyers and judges in Pakistan

Asma Jahngir writes to us in an email:

"I am fortunate to be under house arrest while my colleagues are suffering. The Musharaf government has declared martial law to settle scores with lawyers and judges. While the terrorists remain on the loose and continue to occupy more space in Pakistan , senior lawyers are being tortured.

The civil society of Pakistan urges bar associations all over the world to mobilize public opinion in favor of the judges and lawyers in Pakistan . A large number of judges of superior courts are under arrest. Thousands of lawyers are imprisoned, beaten and tortured.

In particular the cases of Muneer A Malik, Aitzaz Ahsan, Tariq Mahmood and Ali Ahmed Kurd are serious. Muneer A Malik, the former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association and leader of the lawyers’ movement has been shifted to the notorious Attack Fort. He is being tortured and is under the custody of the military intelligence. Tariq Mahmood, former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, was imprisoned in Adiala jail. No one was allowed to see him and it is reported that he has been shifted to an unknown place. Mr. Ali Ahmed Kurd, former Vice Chair of the Pakistan Bar Council is in the custody of military intelligence and being kept at an undisclosed place. Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan, President of the Supreme Court Bar is being kept in Adiayala jail in solitary confinement.

Representatives of bar associations should approach their governments to pressure the government of Pakistan to release all lawyers and judges and immediately provide access to Muneer A Malik, Tariq Mahmood, Ali Ahmed Kurd and Aitzaz Ahsan. The bars are also urged to hold press conferences in their country and express their solidarity with the lawyers of Pakistan who are struggling to establish the rule of law".

Asma Jahngir

Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan
Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan



By Imran Khan

The imposition of martial law under the garb of emergency should make it abundantly clear to everyone that dictators cannot afford even a semblance of either an independent judicial system or a free media. And neither can the assortment of criminals camouflaged as politicians who collaborate with dictators.

No one is fooled by Gen. Musharaf’s latest deception to hang on to power. The war on terror has served him well so far and so why change a successful strategy; spread fear in the western capitals by invoking images of bearded men with guns and in the meanwhile brutally crush all dissent within the country, as was recently done by the Burmese Military. Having inducted pliant and amoral judges through the PCO, the next step would be to massively rig the elections while keeping the media muzzled. What he hopes is that he will again have a rubber stamp Assembly, a controlled majority and a friendly opposition, while real power will rest with him for another 5 years.

So, what we are witnessing is the first phase of the plan. Massive crackdown on the genuine opposition, lawyers, human right activists and the civil society. He is hoping that the police brutality will induce enough fear in the people for him to crush all dissent within a couple of weeks, before he takes the next step of getting himself endorsed by his pocket judges.

Unfortunately for Musharraf, everyone can see through his latest power grab attempt. No one believes that the judges were an impediment in his fight against terrorism. He has had absolute power for the last 8 years and yet terrorism and militancy is rising rapidly. What is he going to do that is different? He has had Pakistanis abducted and handed over to the U.S authorities without allowing them their right to prove their innocence in a court of law. Others have simply disappeared. Many tortured. Our own people have been bombed by helicopters and jets and when women and children have been killed, it has been shamefully called “collateral damage”. No one to this day knows how many Pakistani (soldiers and civilians) have been killed since 9/11.

Most significantly his liberal credentials stand exposed completely, something he needed to make his dictatorship palatable to the west. Gimmicks like “enlightened moderation”, “soft image” and “sufi Islam” stood exposed as the nation saw police boots and sticks shower on peaceful human rights protestors, lawyers and the media. All laws whether it was through PEMRA, PCOs, the 17th amendment or the disgraceful NRO were only to consolidate his power.

The time has come for the people of Pakistan to decide their destiny. If Musharraf succeeds in destroying the independent judiciary through his PCO, then I am afraid it is all down hill. His “pocket” judges will assist him in suppressing the media and in rigging the elections.

A Government formed from this unholy alliance will be a disaster for Pakistan and will ensure that it heads towards becoming a failed state.

For a start there will be a quantum leap in terrorism. His policies have alienated the Pushtuns in general and the tribal Pushtuns in particular. There are around a million armed men in the tribal areas. Does it make any logical sense that to capture a couple of thousand Al-Qaeeda we invoke the hostility of around a million armed men – all natural guerilla fighters? And that is why history tells us the British lost more soldiers in the tribal areas than the whole of the sub-continent during their Raj.

Moreover fundamentalism is on the rise in most of Northern Pakistan because of Musharraf’s “enlightened moderate” media policies. There is great reaction amongst the masses who perceive this as a license to be vulgar. The Lal Masjid “warriors” belonged to this category. While in Swat & Dir, there has been a rising discontentment due to the poor governance system ever since the two regions became a part of Pakistan in 1974. Thanks to Musharraff being perceived as an American Stooge imposing an anti-Islamic agenda on the country, all these movements are morphing into one.

Another five years of Musharraff will mean that certain discontented sections of the society will lose faith in the democratic process and will also join the militants; thereby raising the prospects of Pakistan turning into another Algeria – the Army against its own people.

The other disaster of Musharraff dictatorship would be a further diversion of the country’s resources away from the people. During his 8 years 1.8% of the GDP was spent on education – the lowest ever in our history and consequently today Pakistan ’s state school education system has collapsed. According to the U.N Human Development Index Pakistan has the worst social indicators in South Asia . Even Burma is ahead. On the other hand in 2006 Pakistan spent US $ 5.1 billion on arms. A new GHQ is being built on 2500 acres in Islamabad at the cost of billions of dollars.

Equally disastrous is the collapse of governance in Pakistan . According to Transparency International this is the most corrupt Government in our history. Hardly surprising since crooks, criminals and even terrorists (according to the Canadian Supreme Court the MQM is a terrorist organization) are sitting at the helm of affairs. The biggest scams in our history have been during the past 5 years. Rs.55 billion loans to the rich and powerful have been waived off while the common man has been crushed by unprecedented inflation.

Hence it is imperative that all sections of Pakistani society stand behind Chief Justice Iftikhar and demand his restoration along with the other honourable judges. We should not accept the PCO or those judges who have taken oath by it.

Only if Justice Iftikhar is restored will we have an independent judiciary, which is the bedrock of a genuine democratic system. The independent judiciary will protect the media’s freedom and ensure free and fair elections that are vital for the country’s survival only. Free and fair elections can throw up a Government that can start a political dialogue with the Militants. The war against terrorism can only be won if the people from within whom the terrorists operate, also consider them to be terrorists. If on the other hand they are perceived as heroes or freedom fighters than it is a never ending war – and history tells us that it cannot be won. Moreover, a democratic Government which comes through free and fair elections has to invest in the people. Otherwise no matter how high the growth rate it will lose the elections – as happened to the BJP despite “shining India ”

Above all only an independent judiciary will stop criminals from entering politics. At the moment they know that once they are part of the power structure they are safe from the courts. The NRO is a classic case in point which under Musharraff’s pocket judges will absolve politicians of their crimes that includes plunder of the country’s resources as well as assassinations and target killings. Once a P.M. or President are not above law only then can this country develop a governance system that will make it achieve its great potential.

What needs to be done is for all sections of the society – especially the students whose future is at stake, to demand the restoration of Chief Justice Iftikhar and a total boycott of the PCO judges. Until our demands are accepted we should agitate throughout the country. The APDM should immediately give a call to its workers to join the lawyers and the civil society in the streets.

And finally it brings me to Benazir and Maulana Fazal ur Rehman. They are the only two “opposition” leaders who are allowed to freely roam around. The former is even given protocol. Both of them have played a major role in strengthening Musharraff by undermining the opposition at every stage. Both have used the opposition to strengthen their bargaining position with the Government for their personal ends. Most regretfully neither has demanded the restoration of Chief Justice Iftikhar. The APDM should tell them that we have had enough of their “Noora Khushti”. If they want to be part of the genuine opposition both must demand the restoration of Chief Justice Iftikhar and announce a street movement immediately. But they should not be allowed to sabotage the opposition movement for their personal gains again.

Article by Imran Khan - Pakistan's legendary cricketer, now a Politician.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Omar Waqar the rock sound of underground DC

Omar Waqar, A Pakistani-American rock artist, is not just a singer-songwriter but also a lyrical activist whose music is engaging underground DC audiences like wild fire.

His songs reflect diversity, originality, independence and expression of free thought -- the most celebrated symbols of American society. Omar says that people are the same all around the world, but what makes us different is how we think and treat one another.

Click the link below to watch the story

Imran Siddiqui's Facebook profile