This all was coming from tribal belt and KP. Most of Pakistanis know rather too well that how world looks at these regions. KP stands out in some other respects as well. For instance it has the worst record in centre-province relationship, law and order situation, unemployment rate since the creation of Pakistan. Therefore, irrespective of the underlying reasons, whether these women decided their political pathways independently or were influenced by men in their families and or immediate communities what was noticed is the vim and valor of Pashtun women. These women brought sighs of relief among the liberals and progressives and mere sighs to the otherwise at least for a few days prior to the Elections 2013.
As someone who was specifically interested in knowing the degree of inclusion of women and their issues in the election with a special focus on conflict zones of Pakistan( though these are not officially declared as the conflict zones) I began to see my own optimism being gradually replaced by taints of cynicism if not pure disillusionment. The catalyst to this response was the open threat of Taliban to three mainstream political parties-thus depriving them of the level playing field before election. It was therefore not at all surprising to read that Gulana Bibi withdrew her nomination and ANP decided to hold corner meeting instead of jalsa to save lives. What was surprising is the absence of articulation of women’s’ issue and promises for their advancement among right and left or perceived right and left political parties.
In some of the heavily donor funded five star hotels based pre election seminars that I attended I failed to understand the failure of the concerned ones to rehabilitate inhabitants of Jallozai camp, protection of the resident women and girls of this camp and at least acceptance of the fact that inhumane conditions leading to psychosomatic disorders are prevalent there. Similar I noticed with shock the absence of voices on the need to provide enabling environment to women voters and women in media in harsh geographical and cultural terrains of FCR and FATA and the casual responses of intelligent media” men” and many renowned cso representatives ( operating from Islamabad).
A day before the election I came to know through my sources that an agreement had been materialized in lower Dir to bar women from casting vote. I also noticed an email on the same issue by renowned activist. While I was thinking of sharing my information with a group of human and women rights activists I came across a long e mail from a Pashtun woman rights activist , a politician as well as the head of an NGO suggesting effectively that this news is baseless. Knowing in the light of my past experiences that Pashtun nationalism is very strong and perhaps some of their firebrand activists do not like a non Pashtun like me to talk about them I remained silent. I knew it would be fatal for me to act as more loyal than the king. On 12 May ’13, I finally got hold of the copy of the written agreement ( my colleague and journalist Kahar Zalmay did it) which I shared with key networks if CSOs and rights based activist. Geo TV “broke” the news that very evening (without acknowledging Zalmay) and in the following days almost all TV channels and newspapers talked about it.
As expected a majority of the frontline activists and networks of CSOs become suddenly active. Soon another agreement of similar nature was found from upper Dir. Civil society mainly donor driven has limited capacity of looking at the problems with its own lens and it chooses its battles carefully- hence I was neither shocked nor surprised at the response ,non response and reaction of the mainstream NGOs and renowned activists.
Anti women practices, policies and preaching are prevalent in Pakistan despite some pro women activism, legislation and advocacy. However, what shocked me in the post election phase is the silence of the judiciary and most of the popular media channels and TV hosts of news and current affairs programs.
As if all this was not enough to damage the interests of a vast majority of ordinary women across the country in general and in conflict areas of tribal belt and KP all of a sudden the magic recipe for peace was discovered. In this post election 2013 “new Pakistan” the talk of the town is talk with Taliban. Both PTI and PML-N want to give peace a chance through negotiations with these terrorists. I am neither a popular TV anchor nor an expensive consultant political analyst therefore I refrain from commenting on the selective naivety of the “new leadership” in Pakistan and making any intelligent or unintelligent guesses about the outcomes of this negotiation. However, being a non elite self made Pakistani woman I am a qualified non specialist to put forward a suggestion. If you all mighty men are determined to talk with Talibans kindly include at least two ordinary women-two mothers who are still surviving the loss of their loved ones and seeing amputees around on daily basis with no place to seek hope.
About the Author:
Dr. Rakhshinda Perveen, director of creativeanger by rakhshi
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Irrespective of who wins today’s election, nothing except more insecurity awaits non-Muslim communities, Ahmedis and Shias in an increasingly intolerant country
Naya Pakistan is the new buzzword in the country. It is the campaign slogan of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, and it speaks to those who are seeking not only a new leadership but also new Pakistan. There is an expectation that with this election must come a Pakistani renewal that would be more in keeping with the original promise of Partition, instead of the present corruption, poor governance and the absence of any sense of security. Many see the country suffering from the burden of an inept leadership and an expensive partnership with the United States in its war on terror, and believe Pakistan has paid too high a price for this. In the past few years, the media seems to have put the burden of both internal mismanagement and skewed external relations on the ruling Pakistan People’s Party. With new leaders like Imran Khan on the horizon, it is believed that a positive change is in the offing. Although it is not clear that Mr. Khan will be the ultimate winner in the elections, it is taken for granted that the new 40 million votes added to the voters’ list, including those of the youth, will favour the cricketer-turned-politician.
However, there is a lot of uncertainty underlying the change mantra. Given the fact that the voter turnout in past elections was low, it is still not certain how many will show up for the election today. In provinces like Balochistan, the voter turnout in the 2008 election was as low as 20 per cent. Countrywide voter demotivation could get compounded by the threats being issued by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which has warned people, especially in the tribal areas and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, against going anywhere near a voting booth. Thus far, there have been numerous murderous attacks by the TTP against the previous ruling combine of the Pakistan People’s Party, the Awami National Party, and the Muttahida Quami Movement, targeting its leaders, candidates and campaign rallies. The TTP has declared these parties liberal-secular and thus deserving of its ire. The irony of course is that none of the three parties challenged terrorism and radicalism in the country despite being in power for five years.
Even if voters overcome these challenges to come out and vote, there is no evidence yet that a Pakistan under a different leadership can bring about the sort of renewal that is required for the task of nation-building. Nowhere is this more evident than in the attitude of political parties to the religious minorities. There are 2.9 million non-Muslims in the country formally registered with the National Database and Registration Authority. Of this, the biggest number is of Hindus (approx 1.4 million), followed by Christians (1.2 million), and then others which include Ahmedis, Zorastrian, Bahai, Sikh, Buddhist and even a handful of Jews.
Pakistan, which opted for separate electorates for its minority communities at the time of Partition, took the decision to integrate these communities in the political mainstream by abolishing that system in 2002. But in other ways, the process of integration of the minorities has been non-existent and, thanks to the overall ideological-political climate in the country, the attitude towards them is one of violent intolerance.
After many such incidents of violence targeting them and their mosques, the Ahmedis, for instance, are feeling more ostracised and threatened than before by the growing latent-radicalism in the country. The community was declared non-Muslim by the Bhutto government in 1974. Mainly concentrated in Central Punjab, the Ahmedis have opted to boycott these elections as none of the political parties seems to heed their concerns.
Earlier in the campaign, Imran Khan, who spoke about changing Pakistan from his hospital bed after his fall this week, issued a formal press statement contradicting the video footage about the party’s plan to revisit the law declaring Ahmedis non-Muslims. The video clip had gone viral on social media and the ensuing controversy forced Imran Khan to make the statement that he believed in the finality of Prophet Muhammad. But shockingly, he went on to add that no one from his party had sought Ahmedi votes. More than anything else, that declaration raises worrying questions about a national party’s agenda. Notwithstanding differences on interpretation of faith, the right of Ahmedis to life and inclusion in politics has to be ensured. It is also interesting that Imran Khan used the term ‘Qadiyani,’ which the Ahmedis in Pakistan consider derogatory.
The situation in relation to other political parties is not encouraging either. Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N, which is trying to maintain control of the largest province of the country, is entrenched in an electoral partnership with the defunct militant Deobandi organisation, Sipha-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), that is contesting elections under the title of Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat (ASWJ). The party’s rabidly fundamentalist posturing in Punjab does not bode well for the Ahmedis, or for the Shia community. In these last few months, the Shia community has been violently targeted in different parts of the country, especially in Balochistan, by the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an offspring of the SSP. The Shias are not a minority, but their relentless targeting is a result of the mainstreaming of Deobandi and Wahabi discourse in society and politics in general.
Misuse of blasphemy law
The Christian community is not happy either. In the past five years, there was a noticeable increase in the number of attacks on Christians using the blasphemy law. The Zia-era legislation condemns anyone guilty of blaspheming against the Prophet of Islam to death. The law is frequently manipulated to settle personal scores and disputes over land, especially by land mafias that are spread across the country. Some ministers of the PML-N were allegedly behind some of the attacks.
A similar situation seems to prevail in Sindh where Hindus feel increasingly insecure and abandoned like everyone else by what was once Bhutto’s party. Many PPP candidates are wealthy land-owning wadheras; some of them have well-known links with criminal gangs and militant outfits. The Hindus of Sindh will probably vote pragmatically for the PPP in areas dominated by the party, not out of loyalty, but to safeguard their interests and buy security, seriously deficient in Sindh.
Unlike the Hindus in South Punjab who mainly consist of the scheduled castes, the Sindhi Hindus include castes that are more affluent. They dominate business and industry in rural Sindh but consider themselves a threatened species primarily due to the abysmal economic and security conditions in the province. In upper Sindh, they say that the banyas dare not even show off their wealth for fear of attracting unwelcome attention, usually in the form of kidnappings for ransom. The overall increase in poverty and poor governance in the province have raised ordinary people’s threshold as far as crimes against rich Hindus are concerned. No one is outraged if some of their wealth gets stolen or extorted.
A bigger concern for Sindhi Hindus in recent years pertains to forced conversion of upper caste Hindu girls to Islam. Their economic influence has not translated into sufficient political clout to generate support among the political elite of Sindh to solve this particular grievance.
The lack of political engagement does not help counter the influence of religious wadheras or the wadhera-mullah combine which is now increasingly behind the conversion issue. It was in 2012, for example, that the conversion scandal involving a pir of the Bharchundi shrine became public. Mian Mithu, as he was popularly known, was also a PPP member of the National Assembly. He was instrumental in converting a local Hindu girl, Rinkle Kumari, to Islam after one of his men facilitated her abduction and then married her off to a boy she allegedly had an affair with. As Rinkle’s Talraja caste has some influence in Ghotki and adjoining Dharki, where it even has a huge shrine of Sacho Satram Das, the PPP eventually abandoned Mian Mithu.
Pakistan’s renowned Sindhi playwright, Noor-ul-Huda Shah, believes that there is a tendency to treat conversions, especially of upper caste girls such as Rinkle Kumari, as a trophy. The pride in converting upper caste Hindu girls could also be linked with the gradual spread of militant organisations like the SSP, JeM and LeT in interior Sindh. Piggybacking on the shoulders of the religious party, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, the various militant outfits are said to be engaged in several cases of violence including the killing of three Hindu boys in Khairpur who were suspected of involvement with Muslim girls.
The efforts made by some Hindus in the last couple of years to migrate to India caught media attention. Though most people in the community still consider Pakistan their country and would not leave, political parties have paid scant attention to their problems.
For the minorities in Pakistan, the biggest question is whether this election will help them negotiate their safety and security in a society and polity increasingly drifting towards the right wing. So far, no political party has had the courage to provide a reassuring answer.
(Ayesha Siddiqa is a commentator based in Islamabad and author of Military Inc.: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy)
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Saturday surprised most pundits by scoring a thumping victory, mainly in Punjab, and is set to form the next federal government. Imran Khan’s PTI also impressed with an impressive performance coming close to becoming the second largest party in the country. Mian Nawaz Sharif, in his victory speech, promised a clean and efficient government after his brother Mian Shahbaz Sharif declared that his brother would become the country’s prime minister for the third time. PML-N leadership, within five hours after the polling ended, has dropped hints of sitting together with all those in the arena to form a coalition government, including PTI of Imran Khan to deal with the deep-rooted gigantic problems, Pakistan faces today. The PML-N sweep across the Punjab, unexpected as it was in numbers, has ensured that Mian Nawaz Sharif will not need any coalition partners, except for the sake of keeping a federal face by including some PML-Functional, Jamaat-e-Islami and JUI-F men in his cabinet.
Conratulation to Mian Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif. People have trusted on them to eradicate, load shedding, corruption and for development of country. Learning from the past, their thinking should be positive now, making friends and setting aside the revenges.
Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) appeared locked in a neck-to-neck battle with the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) for second position in the next parliament. The PTI, which has done tremendously well for a new party and which could easily become the next government in the KP, will have to perform the role of an effective and vibrant opposition in the new house, as Imran Khan has repeatedly promised. With men like Javed Hashmi, Sheikh Rashid and Imran Khan himself in the opposition, it would not be a cakewalk for Mian Nawaz Sharif to run the country except on clean policies conforming to the national interest and not his own party or family. Chief of the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan has reportedly alleged rigging in the elections after accepting defeat while also indicating that the party would sit in the opposition benches of the National Assembly.
Congratulations to Imran Khan and his other party leaders. PTI have gained a lot of trust from the public first time especially from Khyber Pakhtoon Kha where chances to make a provincial government by PTI are sure. PTI have to leave the politics of blaming others and focussing their charter. We hope once Imran Khan and Sheikh Rashid are in parliament, Mian Nawaz Sharif will be under a lot of pressure to complete the task of accountability that was left in abeyance because of the position President Zardari enjoyed.
The polls saw the PPP being washed away from central Punjab by the PML-N and PTI sweeping Peshawar and even not sparing veteran Ghulam Ahmad Bilour. The PPPP working during his five year ruling, could not give the poor people except load shedding and corruption. PPPP played the game in the name of his leaders who are not in this world now. All mis-handling was blamed to previous government of Mr. Pervez Musharraf while we listend on TV that people liked the previous government instaed of PPP.
Who will then lead the PPP is a big question. At the moment, Faryal Talpur is the front face but Makhdoon Amin Fahim has also expressed reservations over the manner the party was run by Asif Zardari. Now that the PPP has lost its political clout, it would also be interesting to see how he is treated by the judiciary and various organisations which carry out accountability, specially NAB, FIA and others.
PPPP started its compaign without leadership. Mr. Zardari enjoyed Presidentship leaving the party without leader and ladder. He did not like to take any leader in front due to fears that he will hijack the party. PPPP ruled for five years but without any development in the country. Leaders worked for them, not for the country.
The elections have thrown the MQM and ANP in a serious political crisis as the MQM will either have to sit in the opposition or take a huge U-turn to support Mian Nawaz Sharif. But the initial message of the MQM chief Altaf Hussain, describing the PML-N as a Punjabi party, does not augur well for the new government-in-waiting.
Congratulations to MQM who kept their traditional seats in Karachi. Remarks made by Altaf Hussain while congratulating to Nwaz Sharif on his success have not been praised in the public.
Jamaat-e-Islami, Sunni Tehrik, Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen boycotted the elections in Karachi, citing massive rigging while Jamhoori Watan Party also boycotted the elections due to similar reasons. There are hints that polling could be held again on four to five NA seats in Karachi.
Those who have litlle resources and believe in clear poling alway loose and bycot. This happend with these parties. The best for them is to pray for the system. And the best advice is, religious parties should be religious, not political.
Like in 2008 elections, again Maulana Fazlur Rehman finds himself in a comfortable position to strike a deal with the major stakeholders on formation of a coalition government not only in the Centre but also in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
Congratulations to Maulana Fazlur Rehman. His decision to shake hands with Nawaz Sharif should now be wiseful to get facilitation in the name of religion.
The repercussions for the ANP are going to be more serious as the party has almost been white-washed and there are credible reports that the Bilours will break away from the Wali Khan family-led party. Ghulam Ahmed Bilour has already hinted that his party leadership was responsible for the debacle.
Sad news for ANP who suffered a lot in terrorisom and failed in securing their seats.
In view of voter trends, the PML-N is all set to form government in Punjab while the PTI can be in a position to lead a coalition set-up in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Balochistan is in again for a split mandate among different parties, mainly JUI-Fazl, BNP-Mengal and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party.
On a personal level, the May 11 results have also washed away all chances of President Zardari getting a second term in office. Mian Nawaz Sharif has been reported as saying in private meetings that he would like to see a president from a smaller province and Sindh is out of the running.
ISLAMABAD: The interim government has refused to try former president, General (retd) Pervez Musharraf for treason under Article 6 of the Constitution.
In its reply to the apex court, the interim government said that considering, deliberating or commencing any legal proceedings under Article 6 of the Constitution will be a measure not in its mandate.
The reply further said that the interim government was busy with the security of election candidates. The apex court expressed its displeasure with the reply of the interim government. Justice Jawaad s Khawaja remarked that the court had been seeking an answer for the last eight days and today (Monday) the interim government said that nothing would be done.
Justice Khawaja further remarked that the interim government said it was not in its mandate to initiate proceedings and in the future it may say that a FIR cannot be lodged.
The hearing of the case will resume on April 23 when the lawyers of Pervez Musharraf will start their arguments.
Pervez Musharraf appeared before the Islamabad High Court on Thursday to seek a bail extension in the judges’ confinement case, however his plea was dismissed. During proceedings of the case, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui remarked that Musharraf was accused of destroying the judicial system. The court ordered that the charge of terrorism be added in the case.
Pervez Musharraf immediately left the court and drove to his farmhouse in Chak Shahzad escorted by his security personnel. Police are guarding the main gate of Pervez Musharraf’s farmhouse and have blocked off access to the street.
IHC ISSUES DETAILED ORDER
The Islamabad High Court has issued its detailed order regarding the rejection of Pervez Musharraf’s bail extension.
The court has taken notice of Musharraf’s fleeing from the court premises and summoned Inspector General Police Islamabad. The court said that Musharraf’s fleeing was a separate crime.
The IG Islamabad has been asked to explain what measures have been taken regarding the arrest of Musharraf and what action will be taken against those officers who failed to arrest him from the court’s premises.
PRE-ARREST BAIL NOT SUBMITTED
Musharraf’s lawyers could not submit a pre-arrest bail petition against his arrest orders by the Islamabad High Court in the Judges’ confinement case on Thursday. The petition could not be submitted as the court’s hours of operation had expired.
Pervez Musharraf’s lawyer Advocate Ibrahim Satti said the advocate on-record had taken the petition to the Supreme Court but could not submit it as the court’s working hours had expired.
Satti added that the Registrar Supreme Court and Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry were attending the full court meeting and petition will be filed in the Supreme Court on Friday.
“Former President Musharraf earlier today appeared in Islamabad High Court in a procedural matter to seek extension in his transitory bail, which was due to expire today, April 18, 2013. The Judge, in an unprecedented move, took an unwarranted decision to reject the extension request.
The augmented State Security Apparatus assigned to President Musharraf in the face of specific and credible physical threats to his life by the enemies of Pakistan escorted the Former President to his home in Islamabad.
The Former President is filing an appeal in the Supreme Court of Pakistan against this ill-conceived decision of Islamabad High Court. We expect this unwarranted judicial activism, motivated by personal vendettas since his return to Pakistan to participate in the upcoming elections, will cease and the Supreme Court, without prejudice, will immediately grant necessary relief following precedence and the Rule of Law; the absence of which will cause mockery of the nation, can result in unnecessary tension amongst the various pillars of State and possibly destabilize the country.”
The judges’ confinement case stems from the detainment of several top judges including Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry during the imposition of emergency by the former president in Pakistan on November 3, 2007.
Pervez Musharraf returned to Pakistan to contest general elections last month. His nomination papers from four constituencies were rejected by Election Tribunals earlier this week.
Musharraf is also accused in the Benzair Bhutto murder case and was granted interim bail till April 24 by the Lahore High Court Rawalpindi bench.