Thursday, April 19, 2018

#MeToo - #Pakistani women use hashtag to expose scale of sexual abuse




Thousands of women across the world, including Pakistan, have put up a brave front against sexual assault and workplace harassment in a monumental precedent set by a powerful hashtag on social media. The hashtag, “MeToo”, translated into a viral movement on October 17 as an increasing number of posts started to appear on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, after Hollywood actress Alyssa Milano posted a screenshot on Twitter calling upon women to speak up “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet”.
The movement comes days after Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was accused of rape and sexual assault by a number of A-list actresses.
Unlike previous instances when campaigns against sexual assault had little impact in Pakistan, the “MeToo” lobby gained an alarmingly high traction in the country. Women from all walks of life took to social media to admit they had suffered too.
Nighat Dad, a lawyer and digital rights activist, tweeted, “#MeToo Countless times! First sexual assault happened when I was in grade one. Still remembers, each and every bit of it.”
In a societal set-up where women are faced with harsh criticism for having experienced instances of unwanted sexual advances, the movement has, in fact, brought out the magnitude and universality of the matter.
Journalist Reham Khan regretted the country’s treatment of harassment discourse in a tweet on her official account: “In Pakistan women will not be believed if they talk about sexual harassment. Their own family & in-laws will blame them instead.”
In recent years, efforts against sexual harassment culminated in the enactment of the landmark Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2010 but given the cultural barriers that restrict harassment discourse, victims have remained tight-lipped for too long.
Echoing the distress of having remained voiceless despite being a victim, Lahore-based actress Nadia Jamil joined the movement and tweeted on her official account: “I was too young when it first happened. It went on too long. Too much anger. Too much violence. Too much hurt. Too much silence. So over. #MeToo.”
Journalist Rabia Mehmood expressed similar views in her contribution to the online movement: “#MeToo. As a child and as an adult. Took me hours and whatsapp/fb chat reassurances from friends to be able to post this. Still not easy.”
The hashtag, which was among the top trends on Twitter for three consecutive days, also saw widespread outrage on other social media platforms.
“If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem. My timeline is already full of people who shared this,” classical dancer and women rights activist Sheema Kermani posted on her Facebook page.
Although it is too early to assess whether the online movement would yield a permanent solution to the grave issue, women have embraced MeToo as a ‘monumental’ slap on their assaulter’s [feeds].

#Pakistan - What went wrong in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa





People are blindly following their leaders without realising the damage they are causing in the name of development.
Corruption, inflation, bribery, poor law and order, poor security, lack of health and education facilities are the things why we are still in the list of struggling/third world countries. When Imran Khan started his political career, a decent lot of people started to believe that he might be the solution to our problems as his manifesto always revolved around corruption. But Saleem Safi, a senior journalist revealed some shocking facts about KP government. Not only Saleem Safi, but any journalist in KP would second the senior veteran journalist in this regard.
He says that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is the only government in the world in which its own Minister (Ziaullah Afridi) has accused his chief minister of corruption and the CM has accused his cabinet minister. Under leadership of Javed Naseem, dozens of PTI MPAs accused the chief minister and ministers of corruption, but the allegations were not investigated. It is the only province where chief secretary wrote a letter, alleging his chief minister of irregularities and now the same chief secretary is distributing the tickets of PTI candidates.
A minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Israrullah Gundapur was targeted in a suicide attack back in 2013. His brother was elected on PTI’s ticket, became minister and even after five years he could not bring justice for his brother from his own provincial government. Since the provincial government is taking the lead in investigating the killing of his brother, the federal government should make a JIT for its investigation.
The senior journalist adds that, In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, hospitals are in worst condition than Punjab and Sindh. Imran Khan lies when he says that one lakh children have been shifted from private schools to government schools. The result of government schools was so bad that the Peshawar High Court had to take a suo motu Action.
In the PEODO scandal, an acquaintance of Asad Umer was illegally made MD of the department against following rules of merit. If an investigation takes place, it will be discovered that in the past four and a half years they could not come up with a single power project. In the garb of ending corruption in the province, laws related to the Provincial Ehtesab Commission were made with a favourite MD in place, but when he started investigating the chief minister and the ministers, he was removed from his post. As for now, no MD has been appointed for this commission despite the passage of 2.5 years; although laws state that the commission’s MD has to be appointed within two to three months. This commission could not take notice of any corruption case besides that of Ziaullah Afridi.
KP CM Pervez Khattak’s security officer has been made the head of Anti-Corruption Department and all accountability departments in the province are currently in control of CM Pervez Khattak. A fraud has taken place in the name of the Billion Tree Tsunami, the claim was made to plant billion trees, but not even 25 crore trees were planted.
For the first time, the Bank of Khyber’s MD got advertisements published in newspapers against his in-charge Finance Minister. He leveled serious accusations against the finance minister and the finance minister in turn accused the minister under him. Then Jamaat-e-Islami (who backed the Finance Minister) and Imran Khan (who had elected the MD) reached a settlement between them, but NAB did not take any notice of this incident.
In Peshawar, the BRT Project is costing more that the Lahore Islamabad motorway. The design has been changed three times and questions are being raised about the contract and the contractors. Yet no one is taking notice. People are blindly following their leaders without realising the damage they are causing in the name of development.

#Pakistan - Journalists sign declaration condemning ongoing censorship fiasco



Over fifty working journalists, editors, columnists, media persons and media freedom organisation representatives on Wednesday expressed serious concern over the ongoing curbs on freedom of expression in the country.
Condemning the ongoing censorship fiasco in a declaration, the journalists said that beginning with a crackdown against selected media groups and banning the broadcast of various channels, there was now an enhanced pressure on media houses to refrain from covering certain rights-based movements.
“Media house managements, under pressure, are dropping regular op-ed columns and removing online editions of published articles. One media house even asked its anchors to stop live shows,” the declaration read further and added that growing self-censorship and discussions on “given news” rather than real news was synonyms with violating the citizens’ right to information.
“We strongly protest against all forms of censorship imposed on free media and freedom of information and stand united against it,” the declaration concluded.
The undersigned of the declaration included I A Rehman, Hamid Mir, Nusrat Javeed, Asma Shirazi, Babar Sattar, Beena Sarwar, Farah Zia, Farooq Mehsud, Haroon Rashid, Husain Naqi, Murtaza Solangi, Raza Rumi, Saadia Salahuddin and others.
It may be noted that a similar issue pertaining to freedom of expression on university campuses has also been highlighted by a grand collective of nearly 200 university professors, who on Tuesday came together from all over the country to protest what they called increased repression of academic freedom in universities.
In a collectively written open letter pertaining to recent events in different universities of the country which allegedly curtail free thinking in academic spaces, the letter was signed by a number of important Pakistani professors who are part of the faculty at foreign universities, including Cambridge University, University of Chicago, University of Toronto, NYU, University of Edinburgh, and others.
The four events that the letter referred to included cancelled events at Habib University and LUMS, the firing of a politically active professor in Punjab University and the questioning of Gomal University official by ‘state functionaries.’

بلاول بھٹو: کوئی جلدی نہیں ہے، میں یہاں طویل مدت کے لیے ہوں

پاکستان میں حزب مخالف کی جماعت پاکستان پیپلز پارٹی کے چیئرمین بلاول بھٹو زرداری کا کہنا ہے کہ وہ اپنے سیاسی کریئر کے بارے میں ہریشان نہیں ہیں کیونکہ وہ پاکستانی سیاست میں طویل مدت کے لیے آئے ہیں۔ 
بی بی سی نیوز کے پروگرام ’ہارڈ ٹاک‘ میں اپنے سیاسی مستقبل کے بارے میں بات کرتے ہوئے بلاول بھٹو زرداری کا کہنا تھا کہ 'جہاں تک میرے سیاسی کریئر کے بارے میں تشویش کی بات ہے تو مجھے کوئی جلدی نہیں اور کوئی پریشانی نہیں، میں 29 برس کا ہوں اور اس عمل میں طویل مدت کے لیے ہوں۔'
پاکستان کا وزیراعظم بننے کے حوالے سے ایک سوال کے جواب بلاول نے کہا کہ پاکستان کی عوام ایک ایسے ترقی پسند ملک کے مستحق ہیں جہاں ہر ایک کو بلاتفریق مساوی حقوق اور مواقع حاصل ہوں۔
انھوں نے کہا کہ وہ اس بات کے قائل ہیں کہ انھیں اپنے نظریات اور مقاصد حاصل کرنے ہیں اور یہ کہ وزیراعظم بننے کی خواہش نہیں ہے۔
ان سے جرمن ٹی وی ڈی ڈبلیو کی رپورٹ کے حوالے سے ایک سوال پوچھا گیا کہ پاکستان میں بہت سارے لوگوں کے مطابق بلاول بھٹو کا سیاسی مستقبل مایوس کن ہے کیونکہ بےنظیر بھٹو کی پیپلز پارٹی کا اب وجود نہیں اور اس کا وجود 2007 میں ہی ختم ہو گیا تھا۔
اس پر بلاول بھٹو زرداری نے کہا کہ 'ظاہر ہے کہ میری والدہ بےنظیر بھٹو کے قتل نے نہ صرف پیپلز پارٹی بلکہ پاکستان کی اجتماعی سیاست میں بھی ایک بڑا خلا چھوڑا ہے۔ نہ صرف بےنظیر کا قتل بلکہ اس وقت پاکستان کی سیاست کا ماحول انتہا پسندی، بےجا طرف داری اور نفرت پر مبنی سیاست سے بھر گیا ہے اور میں نے اس سرگرمی میں حصہ لینے سے انکار کیا ہے۔'

پیپلز پارٹی یا ذاتی جاگیر

پیپلز پارٹی کو ذاتی جاگیر کے طور پر چلانے کے حوالے سے ایک سوال کے جواب میں انھوں نے اسے الزام قرار دیتے ہوئے کہا کہ پاکستان میں کسی حد تک تمام سیاسی جماعتوں کا خاندانی سیاست پر انحصار ہے۔
انھوں نے کہا کہ 'میں اس کی خوبیوں اور نقائص پر بحث نہیں کروں گا لیکن پاکستان پیپلز پارٹی نے خاندانی سیاست کا راستہ خود اپنی مرضی سے منتخب نہیں کیا، میرے نانا اور والدہ کو قتل نہ کیا جاتا تو میرے نانا سیاست دان ہوتے اور میری والدہ دفتر خارجہ میں ہوتیں اور میں اب بھی طالب علم ہوتا۔'
بلاول نے کہا کہ 'پاکستان میں دوسری سیاسی جماعتیں جو خاندانی سیاست پر انحصار کرتی ہیں وہ قتل کی تکلیف سے نہیں گزریں لیکن پھر بھی بھائی، بہنیں اور دیگر شو چلا رہے ہیں۔'
پیپلز پارٹی میں آصف علی زرداری کے اثر و رسوخ کے حوالے سے ایک سوال کے جواب میں بلاول بھٹو نے کہا کہ جمہوری جماعتوں میں آپ اکٹھے کام کرتے ہیں اور اتفاق رائے سے فیصلے کرتے ہیں۔
انھوں نے کہا کہ 'میں اور میرے والد فیصلے نہیں کرتے بلکہ ہماری سینٹرل ایگزیکٹیو کمیٹی ہے جو جماعت کی پالیسی بناتی ہے اور تنقید کرتی ہے اور ہم اس پالیسی کی تعمیل کرتے ہیں۔'
اس سوال پر کہ پیپلز پارٹی کی سابق رہنما ناہید خان نے الزام لگایا ہے کہ اس وقت پیپلز پارٹی کی قیادت کو صرف اقتدار سے غرض ہے اور اس کے اپنے نظریات کو ترک کر دیا ہے، بلاول نے کہا کہ 'میں ان سے اتفاق نہیں کروں گا۔ وہ ہماری مخالف ہیں اور ہمارے خلاف الیکشن لڑا اور ان کو تنقید کا حق حاصل ہے تاہم پیپلز پارٹی اب ابھی پوری طرح اپنے اسی نصب العین پر قائم ہے اور میں جانتا ہوں کہ میں اپنی والدہ کے آئیڈیلز پر قائم ہوں اور ان کے لیے لڑوں گا اور ان کے لیے جان بھی دوں گا۔'

انتہا پسندی کے خاتمے کے لیے حکمتِ عملی درکار

پاکستان انتہا پسندی کے خلاف صرف فوجی حل پر توجہ دے رہا ہے لیکن اس کے خاتمے کے لیے وسیع حکمتِ عملی کی ضرورت ہے۔
بی بی سی نیوز کے پروگرام ہارڈ ٹاک میں بات کرتے ہوئے بلاول بھٹو زرداری نے کہا کہ ریاست کو چیلنج کرنے والوں اور اس کے خلاف ہتھیار اُٹھانے والوں سے عسکری طور پر نمٹنا چاہیے لیکن دہشت گردی سے نمٹنے کے لیے وسیع حکمت عملی کی ضرورت ہے۔
طالبان سے مذاکرات کے بارے میں پوچھے گئے سوال کے جواب میں بلاول نے کہا کہ 'ہمیں مجموعی طور پر ایسی 'اپروچ' کی ضرورت ہے جس میں صرف توجہ دہشت گردی پر نہ ہو بلکہ انتہا پسندی کے خاتمے پر بھی توجہ ہو۔'
انھوں نے کہا کہ انتہا پسندی ختم کرنے کے لیے تعلیم، نصاب، پولیس اور عدلیہ میں اصلاحات کی ضرورت ہے اور اس کے ساتھ سب کو مساوی معاشی مواقعے حاصل ہوں اور یہ ایک جامع پیکج ہے جو پیپلز پارٹی دے سکتی ہے۔

بےنظیر بھٹو کا قتل اور تحقیقات

اپنی والدہ بےنظیر بھٹو کے قتل کے بارے میں ایک سوال کے جواب میں انھوں نے کہا کہ پرویز مشرف نے میری والدہ کو دھمکی دی تھی اور اس حوالے سے گواہ بھی ہیں جنھیں عدالت میں پیش کیا گیا۔
بلاول بھٹو نے سوال کیا کہ پرویز مشرف نے کہا کہ وہ اپنا دفاع کر سکتے ہیں لیکن وہ واپس آ کر عدالت میں الزامات کا سامنا کیوں نہیں کرتے؟
بلاول نے کہا کہ 'صرف میری والدہ کے قتل کے کیس میں ہی انھیں ملزم نہیں ٹھہرایا گیا بلکہ ان پر بلوچستان کے سابق وزیراعلیٰ پر بمباری اور قتل کا الزام ہے، غداری کا الزام بھی ہے لیکن وہ کسی مقدمے میں بھی پیش نہیں ہو رہے۔'
پیپلز پارٹی کے دورِ حکومت میں بےنظیر قتل کیس کی تحقیقات کے حوالے سے ایک سوال کے جواب میں بلاول نے کہا کہ اُسی دوران ملکی تاریخ میں پہلی بار پاکستان اقوام متحدہ کے پاس تحقیقات کے لیے گیا۔
انھوں نے کہا کہ 'ہمارا ملزمان کے خلاف کیس بہت مضبوط ہے بلکہ بی بی سی کی اپنی تحقیقات میں بھی یہی کہا گیا۔ حقائق یہ ہیں کہ اسی کیس میں ڈی این اے شواہد کو نظر انداز کیا گیا اور یہ بہت سنگین الزام ہے۔ ہماری حکومت ختم ہونے کے بعد مشرف کے خلاف مضبوط کیس کے پراسیکیوٹر کو قتل کر دیا گیا جبکہ کیس کے دوران سات بار جج تبدیل ہوئے۔'
بلاول نے کہا کہ 'قانون کے تحت اس مقدمے کا دو ہفتوں میں فیصلہ ہونا چاہیے تھا لیکن اس کو دس برس لگے اور سچ ہے کہ یہ انصاف کا تمسخر تھا۔'
جب ان سے پوچھا گیا کہ اقوام متحدہ کی تحقیقاتی ٹیم کے سربراہ نے کہا تھا کہ اسٹیبلشمنٹ کے علاوہ اس وقت چند حکومتی ورزا نے انٹرویو دینے سے انکار کیا تھا تو اس سوال کے جواب میں بلاول بھٹو زرداری نے کہا کہ'میں اس سے انکار نہیں کروں گا۔ حکومتی وزرا تھے اور ہم ان انفرادی شخصیات کو پیش کرنے میں ناکام رہے جن کو وہ چاہتے تھے کہ پیش کیا جائے لیکن اس کے ساتھ رپورٹ میں یہ کہا گیا تھا کہ انفرادی شخصیات تک رسائی حاصل نہ ہونے سے اس رپورٹ تیار کرنے کی اہلیت پر اثر نہیں پڑا ہے۔

Video - #PPP - Bilawal Bhutto's interview on #BBC World programme Hardtalk

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Pashto Music Video - Gulnar Begum - film Nimgary Armaan

#Typhoid superbug spreads throughout #Pakistan



By Anne Gulland



A highly drug-resistant strain of typhoid is spreading in Pakistan, killing at least one person and affecting around 850 others. 
The “extensively drug-resistant” bug was first identified in November 2016 in Hyderabad but has since spread to other parts of the country.
Because typhoid spreads quickly via food and water – and in places where there is poor sanitation – doctors are worried about the drug-resistant bug's potential to threaten vast numbers of people in Pakistan and beyond.
In December, the strain was identified in a patient who came to the UK from Pakistan. The patient, who was isolated and treated successfully, was one of around 300 diagnosed with typhoid in the UK every year, the majority of whom are infected in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem in lower and middle-income countries such as Pakistan and India, where drugs are poorly regulated and it is easy to buy antibiotics over the counter. There have also been reports of superbugs in countries such as Yemen and Syria, where the health infrastructure has been damaged after years of unrest. 


Sadia Shakoor, assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, and her colleagues at Aga Khan University in Karachi, were the first doctors to identify the drug-resistant strain of typhoid in the current large outbreak of the disease. She said that because so many people have already been affected it is likely to spread even further.
“We've also learnt from history that once the typhoid bug acquires a resistance gene it holds on to it and just spreads within geographical regions where sanitation measures are poor,” she said.
For patients who do not need to be hospitalised doctors are using the antibiotic azithromycin but if patients are seriously ill and require admission to hospital they are given an intravenous antibiotic called meropenem.
Dr Shakoor said azithromycin was a commonly used and effective drug for typhoid.
"We can use this drug but azithromycin is the last resort. Many regions of the world have reported resistance to this drug. There is no resistance yet in Pakistan but if we lose this drug we will have no drugs left for patients to take orally," she said.
Those most affected by the drug resistant strain are children under the age of five, however there have also been cases of the bug in adolescents.
Last year, Dr Shakoor and her colleagues asked geneticists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute in the UK to genetically analyse the outbreak. The scientists performed whole genome sequencing of the typhoid samples from Pakistan and found that this outbreak was caused by an extra strand of bacterial DNA – a plasmid – which had possibly been picked up from E. coli. Elizabeth Klemm, one of the the researchers who sequenced the typhoid isolate, said antibiotic resistance in typhoid has been a mounting problem for decades. However, because this strain acquired an extra piece of DNA it was classified as "extensively drug resistant".
“This is the first time we have seen an outbreak of extensively drug-resistant typhoid,” she said.
Researchers at the Aga Khan University in collaboration with the provincial government of Sindh launched an emergency vaccination programme to contain the current outbreak of typhoid but experts have been lobbying the World Health Organization and the Pakistani government to initiate a large-scale typhoid vaccination programme across the whole country. In March WHO pre-qualified a new typhoid vaccine, Typbar-TCV, which can be used in children as young as six months old and which is more effective than other vaccines. Dr Shakoor said that the only way to eradicate infectious diseases was through vaccination.
"We have eradicated smallpox and we are on the way to eradicating polio because we have an effective vaccine," she said.
Raw sewage leaking from a faulty pipe into the drinking water supply is believed to have sparked the current outbreak and Dr Shakoor said infrastructure improvements were also needed.
"There is a huge infrastructure problem here. There is a lack of planning, people just build on top of each other and we have had large-scale urbanisation," she said.

Pakistan watchdog slams 'grim' state of human rights



By


Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reports rising forced disappearances, rape and attacks on religious minorities.
An independent watchdog has expressed concern over Pakistan's commitment to protecting human rights amid an increase in enforced disappearances, blasphemy-related violence and extrajudicial killings in the past year.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), a non-profit rights group, launched its annual report on Monday, highlighting the "grim markers" of the state of human rights in the country in 2017. 
"An overarching concern is that even where the protection of legislation exists, the prosecution and conviction of perpetrators has remained at a very low level," the report said. 
The rights group revealed that out of the 868 cases of "enforced disappearances" - higher than previous years - received by the commission in charge, 555 were disposed of.
While the report noted a decrease for the third successive year in deaths caused by "terrorist" attacks, violence against religious minorities was on the rise last year.
Mehdi Hasan, HRCP chairperson, blamed Pakistan's "weak government" for not having an "effective hold on the society".
He said that "most" human rights violations that occur in Pakistan "are committed by the government institutions",
"So, you can't solve the problem, because the government itself is responsible for those violations," he told Al Jazeera in a phone interview from Lahore.
"In fact, you don't see any plan for the well-being of the ordinary man in the agendas of any of the political parties," he added. 
Last year, after a 24-month gap, Pakistan was re-elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), an inter-governmental body responsible for "strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe". 
Zainab Malik, head of advocacy at rights group Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), hailed the development as a "political victory", but warned : "Pakistan has consistently failed to uphold those commitments and voluntary pledges it made."
"There hasn't really been any significant progress made by the government of Pakistan," she told Al Jazeera. 

Religious persecution

According to HRCP, the killings of people from the Ahmadi sect continued unchecked and their persecution was harsher last year than in the past.
Ahmadis are a sect that consider themselves Muslim, but whose faith is rejected by the Pakistani state.
There was also increasing violence associated with the country's blasphemy laws. 
At least 74 people have been killed in attacks motivated by blasphemy accusations since 1990, according to an Al Jazeera tally.
Sometimes, it just takes something as small as passing a law to have a huge impact on human rights violations.
ZAINAB MALIK, HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER
Rights groups, including HRCP, have repeatedly criticised and called for the reform or repeal of the controversial blasphemy laws, which date back to the British empire.
The crime is punishable by death if the Prophet Muhammad is insulted. Other punishments include a fine or prison term, depending on the specific offence.
In a high-profile case in April last year, university student Mashal Khan was killed and two others wounded during a violent mob attack after being accused of committing blasphemy in the northern city of Mardan.
In June, an anti-terrorism court sentenced Taimoor Raza, 30, to death for allegedly committing blasphemy on Facebook - in the first such case involving social media.
"This law is being misused by people to take revenge against their opponents, and it is very easy to charge anyone for blasphemy," Hasan told Al Jazeera in a phone interview last year.

Social media crackdown

In January last year, five bloggers, known for their liberal views on social media, went missing within days of each other.
Meanwhile, dozens of social media users were arrested or summoned by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for posting "anti-military" content or material that was against the national interest.
Those targeted included political and social activists, as well as at least three journalists.
Pakistan ranks 139th out of 180 countries on rights group Reporters Without Borders' World Press Freedom Index.
Out of the 60 journalists killed in the country since 1992, 33 of those were targeted for murder, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
In its annual report for 2017, US-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said: "Media outlets in Pakistan remained under pressure to avoid reporting on or criticising human rights violations during counterterrorism operations."
HRCP also raised concern over the threat to freedom of expression, saying that a "climate of fear and culture of silence" prevailed in the country.
"Journalists and bloggers continue to sustain threats, attacks and abductions, and the blasphemy law serves to coerce people into silence," the report said.
HRCP's Hasan believes in a country where "statement journalism" is popular and investigative reporting is suppressed, freedom of press is in jeopardy.
"The Pakistani media is allowed to reproduce the statements, but it is not allowed to do investigative reporting because in an investigation, powerful people get caught and they don't want that their activities to get exposed to the public," he told Al Jazeera.

Sexual violence

During the first 10 months of 2017, more than 5,660 crimes were reported against women across the country, HRCP cited a newspaper report as documenting.
In Pakistan's most populous province Punjab, alone, at least 2,980 rape cases were registered with the provincial police last year - an increase from 2,942 in 2016.
That trend spilled over to the start of 2018 as well.
In a case that sparked outrage and protests across the country, seven-year-old girl Zainab Ansari was raped and murdered in Kasur district near Lahore in January.
The rape and murder of Zainab Ansari was the 12th such case in Kasur district in the last year, according to local media reports.
Reported cases of violence against women in 2017 were considered to be "the tip of a huge iceberg", HRCP said in its yearly review.
Malik, of JPP, believes Pakistan has "failed" to protect its women and children.
"The problem with regards to addressing these crimes is that the state narrative seems to be focused on increasing punishment, whereas what is actually needed is to increase child protection measures for the case of sexual abuse of children and for women, we need to increase more safeguards for the protection of women from sexual violence," said Malik, who is also a human rights lawyer.
"Sometimes, it just takes something as small as passing a law to have a huge impact on human rights violations.

#Pakistan - Coercing the media



Zahid Hussain
AN unannounced censorship seems to have been imposed on the media. The restrictions have certainly not been imposed by the federal government or any regulatory body. Still, the media houses are compelled to follow a diktat. Opinion pieces violating ‘guidelines’ have reportedly been withdrawn by the management of some leading newspapers for fear of being penalized. Indeed, TV channels are much more vulnerable to the threat. And that fear is not unfounded.
Over the past weeks, a TV channel has reportedly been taken off by cable operators or shuffled out of the main bouquet of news channels as ‘punishment’ for being too ‘outspoken on certain sensitive issues’. Such a clampdown, in violation of the directives of Pemra, the electronic media regulator, is more effective in the cantonment areas where certain ‘blacklisted’ newspapers are not allowed to be distributed. No one can dare challenge these unlawful and arbitrary actions.
What we are witnessing is described by some analysts as the creeping expansion of the power of the ‘deep state’. It is not just about media gagging or the increasing number of cases related to enforced disappearances, it is also about the growing perception of political manipulation by ‘invisible forces’, often referred to as namaloom afraad. The recent political re-engineering in Balochistan and allegations that the Senate chairman elections were ‘managed’ have reinforced the apprehension. Punitive actions against the press will only sharpen polarisation and encourage non-professionalism.
Not surprisingly, the latest desertion from the ranks of the PML-N lawmakers, too, is being attributed to a perceived wider plan to restrict the power base of the ruling party in its stronghold in Punjab before the elections. However exaggerated the suspicion may sound, it is not unfounded given our shadowy political history where such manipulation has not been unprecedented. With the political crisis getting deeper, there is a growing feeling of coerciveness accompanied by the weakening of the authority of state institutions notwithstanding the growing assertiveness of the top judiciary. In fact, the current judicial overreach encroaching on the domain of the executive has also allowed the deep state to strengthen its stranglehold.
What is commonly meant by the deep state is the security establishment. But the term also includes other non-elected institutions such as the bureaucracy. By definition, the deep state means “organisations that are said to work secretly in order to protect particular interests and to rule a country without being elected”.
Subjected to long periods of direct military rule over the decades, the country has seen many fundamental freedoms curbed, including the right to expression. From direct censorship under authoritarian generals to other forms of pressure exerted by civilian governments, the media’s gains have been hard-won. Unfortunately, the weakening of democratic institutions such as parliament has provided a greater opportunity to forces outside the government to get more deeply involved in domestic politics while attempting to thwart basic rights. The removal from office of prime minister Nawaz Sharif has deepened the political crisis in the country and has brought to the surface various contradictions that seem extremely difficult to manage. While trying to fill the vacuum, these forces seek to curb any voice of dissent. The threshold has been further reduced by the growing internal and external security challenges.
Many believe that the unannounced censorship of the media may be a part of a wider plan. The media houses reportedly receive ‘advice’ on what should or should not be telecast or printed — all in the name of national security interest. In fact, the pressure can be so intense that oftentimes, even if there is no such ‘advice’, the owners and editors of certain media houses indulge in self-censorship in an attempt to remain on the right side of the powers that be.
Freedom of expression and freedom of press along with the right to vote and the right to a fair trial are critical parts of a liberal democracy. Any move by an elected government or an unelected organisation to curb fundamental rights is a violation of the Constitution. And it is certainly not the job of elements of the security establishment to decide what should or should not be covered by the media. Freedom of expression is one of the biggest achievements of the democratic movement in Pakistan and a free media has helped strengthen civil society.
Indeed, there is a need for the media to be more responsible and formulate a code of ethics to maintain a higher degree of professionalism, as freedom of expression comes with a sense of responsibility. But curbing that freedom on whatever pretext will not help instil a more ethical culture. Instead, such punitive actions will only sharpen polarisation and encourage non-professionalism such as the alleged move to create a parallel pliant media.
Such a divisive approach will be extremely harmful not only to democracy, but also the country’s integrity. It could lead to the further widening of the gap between the security establishment and civil society. The country has paid hugely for the suppression of democratic rights in the past and it cannot afford any reversal of the democratic process. Any move to crack down on the media for whatever reason on the eve of a general election that promises to lead to a historic second transition from one elected government to another raises questions about the fairness of the polls. What the elements of the security establishment fail to understand is that a free discussion and debate on critical issues increases faith in the state. Suppressing free debate leads to more discontent, a lesson we have failed to learn from our own history.
There is little probability that the democratic political process will be completely derailed. But the growing perception of the deep state increasingly getting involved in alleged political manipulation raises apprehensions that we may be heading towards a ‘managed’ or ‘guided’ political dispensation.

#Pakistan - OP-ED Right to education without discrimination



Naumana Suleman
During Pakistan’s review in 2016, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child showed serious concern over the discriminatory hate material in school textbooks against religious minorities. In March 2018, The UN Human Rights Council adopted the outcome report of Pakistan’s third Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The Pakistani government accepted 168 out of the 289 recommendations it received from the UN member states, while 117 recommendations were ‘noted’ and four were rejected. Several recommendations that Pakistan accepted and noted, call for an end to all forms of discrimination against minorities. Recommendations 87, 148, 149, 224 and 225 in particular, call to ensure that all children enjoy a right to education without discrimination and protection of freedom of religion or belief of religious minorities.
Besides this, during Pakistan’s review in 2016, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child showed serious concern over the discriminatory hate material in school textbooks against religious minorities. The said committee in its recommendation number 31 strongly urged Pakistan to protect freedom of religion of all children, including children from minority groups. The committee also recommended the removal of all derogatory statements about religious minorities from school textbooks and the promotion of tolerance, non-discrimination and human rights. Pakistan has a binary obligation to adhere with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the recommendations by its committee, first as a state party to the convention and second as a beneficiary of the European Union’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) status.
Conversely, the 2009 education policy which is currently in use, contravenes the international treaties to which Pakistan is a state party. For instance, Article 14 and 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, guaranteeing freedom of religion to every child in member states and the development of child’s personality in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance and equality among all peoples. The said policy also infringes Article 13 (1 and 3) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and Article 18 (4) of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guaranteeing religious freedom and religious education to children in conformity with their parents’ convictions. Besides this, the 2009 education policy violates Articles 20, 22, 25 and 36 of the Constitution of Pakistan, which guarantee freedom of religion, safeguards at educational institutions in respect of religion, equality among citizens and protection of minorities, respectively. The proposed education policy 2017 also overlooks the constitutional guarantees under Articles 22, 26 and 36 about safeguards against discrimination in educational institutions with respect to religion and rights of religious minorities.

Our textbooks carry material biased against minority religions, which create negative feelings about them among Muslim students, resulting in incidents of violence
Prohibition of religious discrimination is enshrined in the constitution of Pakistan as well as international human rights law. However, the education policy and textbooks in Pakistan are discriminatory on the basis of religion, particularly on four counts.
First, textbooks carry material biased against minority religions, which create negative feelings about them among Muslim students, resulting in several incidents of violence. One example is the killing of Sharoon Masih in Vehari in 2017 by his fellow students. This hateful propaganda in the syllabus is among the major causes of growing religious intolerance in society, and diminishes the probability of peaceful coexistence. Hence, it is imperative that besides removing hate material from syllabi, appropriate material should be included in the curriculum to promote a culture of religious and social tolerance. For instance, the role of religious minorities in the creation and progress of Pakistan and Quaid-e-Azam’s speech to the constituent assembly on August 11, 1947. In addition, teachers’ training, the school environment and co-curricular activities should be designed to maintain respect for all religious traditions, values and acceptance for religious diversity in Pakistan. In order to promote peace and a culture of religious and social tolerance in Pakistan, a swift and comprehensive implementation of the Supreme Court’s judgment of June 19, 2014 would be a step in the right direction.
Second, the option for minority students to study ethics in lieu of Islamic studies is impractical. Islamic studies is a compulsory subject for Muslim students at school and college levels, and most of the minority students are forced to study Islamiat, due to fear of enhanced discrimination against them during examination marking. This discrimination can be addressed through an arrangement to ensure that minority students can study their own religions as a substitute for Islamiat and Nazrah.
Thirdly, besides Islamiat, the curriculum of subjects such as history and social studies also contain a significant amount of Islam related topics. Students belonging to religious minorities have to study these topics to pass as well. To end this discrimination, religion related topics should be limited to religious studies only, and should not extend to other subjects.
Fourthly, a Hafiz-e-Quran (one who has learnt Quran by heart) is eligible for 10-20 extra marks for admissions in professional colleges and jobs at the Public Service Commission since 1992. However, no such provision is established for the minority students for learning their own religion. It is best to do away with this provision completely to ensure equality of opportunity.
In order to increase access to education at all levels, under the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number four of ‘Quality Education’, the Federal and Provincial governments should keep in view the socio-economic marginality of the religious minorities, and introduce a five percent education quota for admissions for the minority students, especially in public colleges, universities and technical training institutes. This initiative would also be helpful for the successful implementation of the five percent job quota policy for religious minorities.
Exclusion of religious discrimination from the education policy and curriculum is a prerequisite to ensuring quality education in Pakistan, which can be achieved through adherence to the constitutional guarantees under Articles 20, 22, 25 and 36, and the international human rights law.

#Pakistan - NO COUNTRY FOR #CHRISTIANS

Banaras Khan


MEMBERS OF THE MINORITY IN PAKISTAN CONTINUE TO BE TARGETED—WHETHER THROUGH THE BLASPHEMY LAW OR BY MILITANTS.

On April 15, militants belonging to the Islamic State group killed in a drive-by shooting two Christians coming out of church after Sunday services in a Christian-majority neighborhood of Quetta. Every time members of the minority go to church, they know they risk being killed. Earlier in the month, four Christians of a family were killed in the same manner. In December 2017, nine were killed and 30 injured in a suicide attack on the Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in Quetta’s Zarghun Road. In 2013, the diocese of the All Saints Church in Peshawar suffered a Christian massacre that resulted in 54 children orphaned, 16 widows, and seven widowers.
Even beyond these militant assaults, Pakistan’s state also targets them through its infamous blasphemy law, forcing the community to try and flee the country for safety. Those left behind are ghettoized for the sake of security, which makes it easier to identify and kill them. When it comes to blasphemy the state participates in this bloodbath; but in other cases domestic and foreign terrorist organizations that Pakistan can’t control proudly announce their Islamic duty of exterminating a community that doesn’t pay “jizya” (protection tax).
Under Article 20 of the Constitution of Pakistan, there is freedom to profess religion and to manage religious institutions; under Article 22, there are safeguards for education with respect to religious freedom; under Article 25, there is equality of citizenship; and under Article 36, there is protection for all minorities. But these rights and values, enshrined in the Constitution, have been undermined by a series of legislations related to the affirmation of the state’s ideological credentials. In 2013, Dr. Ruth Pfau, a symbol of Christian selflessness and devotion to Pakistan’s leprosy patients, died at the age of 87 at a Karachi hospital. She had been the recipient of Pakistan’s top civilian honors, the Hilal-e-Imtiaz and the Hilal-e-Pakistan, but her service to the country was not enough to stop the massacre of Christians.

http://newsweekpakistan.com/no-country-for-christians/

#Pakistan - #PPP - Bilawal Bhutto To Be Candidate For Next Prime Minister



Faizan Hashmi

Pakistan Peoples Party central secretary information Dr Nafisa Shah on Wednesday said that party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari would be the candidate for prime minister after upcoming general elections.

Pakistan Peoples Party central secretary information Dr Nafisa Shah on Wednesday said that party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari would be the candidate for prime minister after upcoming general elections.
She said this while addressing the media in a meet the press organized by the Lahore Press Club (LPC). She said the PPP had a deep relationship with the press club and Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto several times visited the LPC.
She said it was the PPP which implemented Wage Board Award for the journalists. Nafisa said that Lahore was the base camp for the PPP and the party could never forget the sacrifices of the LPC for democracy especially during the dictatorship of General Zia-ul-Haq.
"It is fort of democracy and its members know the sanctity of the vote," she added. She said that it was the PPP which introduced constitution of 1973 and several memories related to that period could be recalled today.
She was of the view that the party was once again in the process of its rebirth. The PPP always struggled for democracy and its narrative was for the people, she added. To a question, she said that PTI chairman had failed in implementation of its manifesto of accountability in the province where his party was in power.
PPP leader Ch Manzoor Ahmad supported Nafisa Shah in answering the questions of the journalists while PPP leaders Faiza Malik, Barrister Amir and LPC president Azam Chaudhry were also present. Later the LPC president thanked the guests for visiting the club.

بھٹو ،قومی لیڈر

تاریخ دو طرح کی شخصیتوں کا احسان کبھی نہیں 
بھولتی اور انہیں ہمیشہ اپنے اوراق میں زندہ و جاوید رکھتی ہے۔ ان میں ایک شخصیت کسی ملک یا نظام کے بانی(FOUNDER) اور دوسری اپنے وقت کے مصلح (REFORMER) کی ہوتی ہے۔ اس حوالے سے قائداعظم بانیء پاکستان اور قائدِ عوام ذوالفقار علی بھٹو ایک مصلح کی حیثیت سے پاکستان کی تاریخ میں ہمیشہ زندہ جاوید رہیں گے لیکن سوال یہ پیدا ہوتا ہے کہ اس بات کا فیصلہ کون کرتا ہے کیونکہ تاریخ کی ہر ممتاز شخصیت ’’متنازعہ حیثیت کی حامل ‘‘ ہوتی ہے اور حکمراں طبقے اپنے اپنے دور میں لا محدود اختیارات کی بنا پر خود کو ’’بہترین‘‘ اور اپنے مخالفین کو ’’بدترین ‘‘ ثابت کرنے میں کوئی حربہ اور دقیقہ فروگزاشت نہیں کرتے۔ لیکن بسا اوقات تاریخ کا فیصلہ مختلف ہوتا ہے۔ وہ وقت کے حاکموں کو مجرم اور ان کے معتوبین کو ’’ہیرو‘‘قرار دے 
دیتی ہے۔ دراصل یہ فیصلہ عوام کرتے ہیں اور ’’زبانِ خلق کو نقارہء خداسمجھو‘‘کے مصداق عوام کی عدالت ہی تاریخ اور خدا کی عدالت ہوتی ہے۔ جس کا فیصلہ حتمی ہوتا ہے کیونکہ تاریخ کی عدالت کسی مخصوص وقت کی عدالت کے ’’نظریہ ء ضرورت (DOCTRINE OF NECESSITY ( کی بجائے نظریہء فطرت(DOCTRINE OF NATURE) کے تحت فیصلہ کرتی ہے۔ جس پر فطر ی اصولوں کے سِوا کسی اور طاقت کا اثر نہیں ہوتا۔ اس کے قانون سب کے لیے
برابر اور حقیقی انصاف کے حامل ہوتے ہیں۔ذوالفقار علی بھٹو ہر بڑی شخصیت کی طرح اپنی زندگی میں متنازعہ حیثیت کے حامل رہے ہیں ۔ ان کے چاہنے والے انہیں قائدِ عوام قرار دیتے رہے جبکہ ان کے مخالفین انہیں فاشسٹ ، غدار اور قاتل کے الزامات سے نوازتے رہے ہیں جنرل ضیاء کے گیارہ سالہ دور میں بھٹو کی کردار کشی میں سفاکانہ ذہنیت کا مظاہرہ کیا گیا ۔ ان کے سیاسی کردار کے ساتھ ساتھ ان کی ذاتی زندگی ، یہاں تک کہ ان کے مسلمان ہونے کو بھی مشکوک بنا نے کی کوششیں کی گئیں انہیں ایک ’’قاتل‘‘ کی حیثیت سے 
ایک متنازع فیصلے کے ذریعے تختہء دار پر لٹکادیا گیا۔ انہیں اور ان کے خاندان کو طرح طرح کی اذیّتیں دی گئیں اور ایک طویل عرصے تک بھٹو کی تصویر اور ذکر کو 
بھی ممنوع قرار دے دیا گیا۔ لیکن اس سب یکطرفہ پروپیگنڈہ کے باوجود عوام کی اکثریت نے نہ تو وقت کی عدالت کے فیصلے کو تسلیم کیا اور نہ ہی حکومتی پروپیگنڈہ پر یقین کیا۔ بلکہ اس کا الٹا اثر ہوا اور ہم نے دیکھا کہ ہماری تاریخ میں پہلی بار عوام نے اپنے بچوں کے نام بھٹو کے نام پر رکھّے اور جنرل ضیاء کی ہوائی حادثے میں ہلاکت کے بعد ہونے والے پہلے عام انتخابات میں بھٹو دشمنوں کی تمام تر ٹیکنیکل دھاندلیوں کے باوجود پیپلز پارٹی کو کامیاب کرایا ۔ جیسے جیسے وقت گزرتا گیا بھٹو کا سحر بڑھتا گیا اور اس کے مخالفین تاریخ کی دھند میں مجرموں کی حیثیت سے گم ہوتے گئے۔آج یہ عالم ہے کہ بھٹو جمہوریت اور انسانی حقوق کا سمبل بن چکا ہے اور اسے تختہء دار پر لٹکانے والا جنرل ضیاء خود تاریخ کی سولی پر جھول گیا ہے ۔ حد تو یہ ہے کہ جنرل ضیاء کے ذریعے سیاسی میدان میں اترنے اور سالوں تک اس کے نام کے گن گانے والے بھی آج جنرل ضیاء کا ذکر کرنا یا اس کا اپنے ساتھ تعلق جوڑنا گوارا نہیں کرتے۔۔ اور نہ ہی وہ ذوالفقار علی بھٹو کے خلاف وہ زبان استعمال کرتے ہیں ،جو وہ کبھی ضیاء دوستی اور بھٹو دشمنی میں کیا کرتے تھے۔ کیونکہ ذوالفقار علی بھٹو علامت ہے جمہوریت اور جمہوری جدوجہد کے لیے جان قربان کرنے والے بہادر انسان کی جس نے عوام کے حقوق کی خاطر تختہء دار کو چوم لیا لیکن ایک غاصب کے سامنے سر نہ جھکایا۔ اور ضیاء الحق علامت ہے ایک غاصب کی ایک ایسے مطلق العنان شخص کی جس نے اپنے ذاتی اقتدار کے لیے عوام کو کوڑے مارے، ان کے حقوق غصب کئے اور پاکستان کے ہر ادارے کو تباہ وبرباد کرکے رکھ دیا۔
آج ذوالفقار علی بھٹو صرف پاکستان پیپلز پارٹی کے ہی نہیں، پاکستان کے ہر جمہوریت پسند اور انسانی حقوق کے داعی کے بھی لیڈر ہیں۔ کیونکہ عوام نے ان کے خلاف غدّاری اور قتل کے الزا مات کو تسلیم نہیں کیا اور تاریخ کی عدالت نے بھی انہیں ان الزامات سے بری الذمہ قرار دے دیا ہے۔یہی وجہ ہے کہ جب ان کے کٹر مخالفین بھی ان کے مقدمہ ء قتل کو انصاف کا قتل قرار دیتے ہیں اور میاں نواز شریف اور عمران خان انہیں عظیم قوم پرست لیڈ ر کہنے پر مجبور ہوجاتے ہیں تو وہ پاکستان پیپلز پارٹی کے بانی سربراہ کو نہیں ایک مقبول عوامی لیڈر اور مصلح(ریفارمر)کو خراجِ تحسین پیش کر رہے ہوتے ہیں۔ کیونکہ اپنی تمام تر بشری خامیوں کے باوجود ذوالفقار علی بھٹو نے پاکستانی قوم کے لیے جو تاریخی کارنامے سرانجام دئیے انہیں تاریخ کبھی فراموش نہیں کر سکتی ۔ ان میں 73ء کا متفقہ جمہوری آئین ، اسلامی سربراہی کانفرنس ، مسلم ممالک کی اکثریت پر مشتمل تیسری دنیا کے بلاک کی تشکیل ، چین اور اسلامی ممالک کے ساتھ مخصوص تعلقات ، آزاد خارجہ پالیسی، 90ہزار جنگی قیدیوں اور پانچ ہزار مربع میل علاقے کی بھارت سے بازیابی اور پاکستان کے ایٹمی پروگرام کی بنیاد رکھنا شامل ہیں۔مسڑ بھٹو کا سب سے بڑا کارنامہ محنت کش طبقے کو زبان دینا اور ان کے حقوق کو اجاگر کرنا ہے ، انہوں نے محنت کش طبقے کو تحفظ ِ ملازمت ، حقِ یونین سازی اور دیگر مراعات سے بہرہ ور کیا اور انہیں انسان ہونے کا شعور بخشا ۔ انہوں نے پہلی مرتبہ سیاست کو ڈرائنگ روموں سے نکال کر گلی کوچوں اور کھیت کھلیانوں میں پہنچادیا۔ انہوں نے غریب طبقے کو پاکستان کی سیاست میں اہم مقام دیکر ان کے اندر جو ذہنی انقلاب پیدا کیا تھا، اس نے انہیں تاریخ میں ہمیشہ کے لئےامر کردیا ہے۔ وہ ایک ریفارمر اور پاکستان کی جدید عوامی سیاست کے بانی کی حیثیت سے ہمیشہ قابلِ احترام رہیں گے ۔ جمہوریت کی بنیادیں مضبوط بنانے کے لیے ضروری ہے کہ جمہوری جدوجہد کی علامت ذوالفقار علی بھٹو کو قومی لیڈر کا درجہ دے دیا جائے کیونکہ جمہوریت کے تسلسل ہی میں ہماری بقا ہے۔
https://jang.com.pk/news/480261