Saturday, 20 January 2018

The cost of criticizing the military in Pakistan, Imaan Mazari-Hazir

The cost of criticizing the military in Pakistan, Imaan Mazari-Hazir
Either the State is complicit, which is perhaps the most likely scenario, or it is simply incompetent, which is just as alarming. Either way, the people of Pakistan deserve answers.

Martin Luther King said, “We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear”. In Pakistan, those journalists, activists and students who have chosen to act with great courage to criticize the unlawful conduct of the military, vis-à-vis illegal abductions, torture, murder, oppression and corruption, find themselves and their families in the midst of horrifying and dangerous circumstances.
In the last few months alone, almost every major newspaper has covered stories from Pakistan of journalists, bloggers and students either being abducted and tortured or beaten in broad daylight by “unknown” assailants. This is not the first time Pakistan has been confronted with the phenomenon of enforced disappearances. After all, under military dictator Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan agreed to abduct, torture and effectively sell its citizens to the United States under the policy of extraordinary renditions.
Investigative journalist Taha Siddiqui was the most recent target of an attempted abduction in the Federal Capital. En route to the airport to catch a flight to London, Siddiqui was dragged out of a cab, beaten to a pulp and threatened by around a dozen armed men. His passport, phone, laptop and other personal belongings were confiscated by the armed men but miraculously, Siddiqui, through his determination to live,  managed to escape. What was the crime for which he was meted out such unlawful treatment? One need only scroll through his social media posts and articles in local and international papers to see he was one of the most vocal critics of the Pakistani military establishment.
Just a few weeks earlier, a social media activist, Raza Khan, was abducted in Lahore following a meeting organized by him to discuss the right-wing takeover of the capital by Islamic fundamentalists. Last year, at least four human rights activists/bloggers (namely, Waqas Goraya, Asim Saeed, Salman Haider and Ahmed Raza Naseer) were abducted, detained and tortured by the security agencies. What all these people have in common is the choice of institution they criticized: the military establishment.
Will everyone who speaks up against the misuse of authority by the military establishment be subjected to enforced disappearances and torture?
In all these cases of abductions, Pakistan saw the same rhetoric we have been hearing over the last many decades to justify unlawful conduct by state agencies. Paid social media accounts and suspect journalists with ties to the establishment have done everything in their power to launch dangerous and slanderous campaigns against all these individuals. The four activists abducted in 2017 were accused of blasphemy – a charge for which no trial is ever needed: there is an automatic death sentence by the masses (as we saw in the case of Mashal Khan, a university student falsely accused of blasphemy who was murdered on his campus). No action is ever taken against those who level such false allegations, nor are the mobs who engage in such violence ever punished by the State.
With regard to Siddiqui, while he has thus far been able to avoid the fate of those who are accused of blasphemy, he has been accused of staging his own abduction allegedly to seek asylum in the West. The persons who launch such vicious attacks would have you believe that every single critic of the military is either foreign-funded or has some ulterior motive. Some have even gone so far as to argue that the State has a right to illegally abduct those who criticize it. Those who dissent in Pakistan are not only punished for dissenting at the hand of state agencies: they are also ridiculed, mocked, ostracized and threatened by society either for surviving the ordeal inflicted upon them or for speaking up against such tactics.
The cost of speaking up against the military in Pakistan, it now seems, is too high a cost for many to bear. Threats to the lives of dissenters and their families are not only common but those who so threaten do so with complete impunity. There are no consequences. In fact, these attacks occur on such a regular basis now that it has become crystal clear that the State’s security agencies fear no accountability for these violations of the Constitution and international law.
The Committee for the Protection of Journalists has deemed Pakistan one of the most dangerous places for journalists. One would just like to highlight that the practice of enforced disappearances doesn’t only affect journalists but includes as a potential target literally any individual who dares to criticize the Pakistani military establishment. We live in strangely ironic times: on one hand, the military establishment leeches off the budget and claims it is one of the most superior intelligence agencies in the world, while, on the other hand, such abductions and murders are rampant. Either the State is complicit, which is perhaps the most likely scenario, or it is simply incompetent, which is just as alarming. Either way, the people of Pakistan deserve answers. Will anyone who speaks up against the misuse of authority by the military establishment be subjected to enforced disappearances and torture? Will those who are lucky enough to survive ever see justice being done against those who perpetrated these heinous attacks against them?
In October last year, senior journalist, Ahmad Noorani (another vocal critic of the establishment) was beaten in broad daylight by “unknown” attackers. Following the attack, the Director General of the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) sent the journalist a bouquet of flowers and voiced his “full support” to “catch culprits and bring them to justice”. Operating with complete impunity has allowed the security agencies to not only violate the law but act like a callous mafia that first attempts to murder people and then sends them a box of chocolates which might as well come with a note that says, “we hope you have learnt your lesson”. When has action ever been taken against those involved in these enforced disappearances? Many of these “missing persons” remain missing – their families have no idea whether they are dead or alive.
We deserve better. Pakistan deserves better. If someone has committed a crime, the State must produce them before a court of law but this culture of impunity has to end.
Lawyer pursuing her Masters in International Law at the University of Vienna.
 The writer is a lawyer
Published in Daily Times, January 20th 2018.


Tuesday, 16 January 2018

A German’s View on Islam, does it apply to us Muslims?


A German’s View on Islam, does it apply to us Muslims?

‘A German's View on Islam - worth reading because this is by far the best explanation of the Muslim terrorist situation I have ever read. His references to past history are accurate and clear’.

‘The author of this email is Dr. Emanuel Tanya, a well-known and well-respected psychiatrist--a man, whose family was German aristocracy prior to World War II, and owned a number of large industries and estates. When asked how many German people were true Nazis, the answer he gave can guide and shape our attitude toward the present day Islamic fanaticism. He said:

"Very few people were true Nazis, but many enjoyed the return of German pride the Nazis brought to the German nation, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, the Nazis were in control of the nation, they owned us, and we had lost control. Suddenly they plunged the country into a devastating and costly world war, and by the end of the war we had woken up to a new reality - our world of comfort, peace and freedom had come to an end. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.

"I see the same situation playing out today with respect to the attitude of the majority towards the the current Islamist movement. We are told again and again by 'experts' and 'talking heads' that Islam is the religion of peace and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace. This unqualified assertion may be true, but the fact is that it is entirely irrelevant!’

‘It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the specter of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam. The fact is that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history. It is the fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who are waging any one of the 50 shooting wars currently going on worldwide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups in Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, and carry out the so - called honour killing. It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals. It is the fanatics who teach their young to kill and to become suicide bombers. The hard and quantifiable fact is that the peaceful majority, the 'silent majority,' has been cowed and made extraneous and irrelevant."

"Communist Russia was comprised of Russians who just wanted to live in peace, yet the Russian Communists were responsible for the murder of about 20 million people. The peaceful majority were irrelevant. 

China's huge population was peaceful as well, but Chinese Communists managed to kill a staggering 70 million people."

"The average Japanese individual, prior to World War II, was not a warmongering sadist. Yet, Japan murdered and slaughtered its way across South East Asia in an orgy of killing that included the systematic murder of 12 million Chinese civilians, most killed by sword, shovel, and bayonet." 

"And who can forget Rwanda, which collapsed into butchery. Could it not be said that the majority of Rwandans were 'peace loving'?" 

"History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt. Yet for all our powers of reason, we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points: peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence. Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don't speak up, because, like my friend from Germany, they will awaken one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun. 

Peace loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Serbs, Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late."

"Islamic prayers have now been introduced into Toronto and other public schools in Ontario, and, yes, in Ottawa too while the Lord's Prayer was removed due to being so offensive! But to whom? Not to the vast majority of Canadians but to the few Islamic fanatics!"

"The Islamic way is only peaceful until the fanatics move in and take control. In Australia, and indeed in many countries around the world, many of the most commonly consumed food items now have the halal emblem (i.e a sign or instruction that says this product is not to be eaten, consumed or used because Islam forbids it) on them. Just look at the back of some of the most popular chocolate bars, and at other food products in your local supermarket. Foods on aircraft have the halal emblem, just to appease the privileged minority who are now rapidly expanding throughout the world. 

In the U.K, the Muslim communities refuse to integrate and there are now dozens of no-go zones within major cities across the country that the police force dare not intrude upon. Sharia law prevails there, because the Muslim community in those areas refuses to acknowledge British law. As for we who watch it all unfold, we must pay attention to the only group that counts -- the fanatics who threaten our way of life."

Anyone who doubts the seriousness of this issue and just deletes without sending it on, is contributing to the passiveness that allows the problems to expand. So, extend yourself a bit and send this on and on and on in the hope that thousands, world-wide, read this, think about it, and send it on’ [truncated by WhatsApp]

On Monday, January 15, 2018, 12:10 PM, Narayan Nair <nygvos@gmail.com> wrote: