Dawn – Mother convicted in UK of tricking daughter into forced marriage in Pakistan

London – UK, 23 May 2018. A mother was convicted in a British court on Tuesday of deceiving her teenage daughter into travelling to Pakistan to enter into a forced marriage, in the first successful prosecution of its kind.

The woman, who cannot be named without uncovering the identity of her daughter, was found guilty following a trial at Birmingham Crown Court where a jury heard how the girl had sobbed as she was wedded to a male relative 16 years her senior, the same man who had sex with her and left her pregnant on an earlier trip.

The then 13-year-old had to undergo an abortion on returning from Pakistan to Britain, but concerns over the girl’s welfare were allayed by her mother who said the pregnancy was a result of “two teenagers who had sneakily had sex”, prosecutors said.

Jurors heard how as the girl approached her 18th birthday she was tricked by her mother into returning to Pakistan on what she was told would be a family holiday.

The couple were then married in September 2016 despite objections from the girl, before she was returned to Britain with the assistance of the Home Office and her mother was arrested in January 2017.

The mother was convicted on a charge of deceiving the victim into travelling abroad to enter into a forced marriage, the first conviction of its kind, as well as for the forced marriage itself and for perjury, after she lied about the incident in the High Court, where she was summoned when concerns were raised by authorities.

As the verdicts were read the defendant appeared shocked and was remanded in custody for sentencing on Wednesday, as her daughter watched from the public gallery.

Judge Patrick Thomas QC told the jury the adjournment was appropriate as the case was “entirely novel”, with no other relevant case law to rely upon.

“Forcing someone into marriage against their wishes is a criminal offence, and a breach of their human rights,” said Elaine Radway of the Crown Prosecution Service.

“It is thanks to the brave testimony of the victim that this serious offending was uncovered and that there was sufficient evidence to secure the conviction today.” The new offence of forced marriage came into effect in June 2014, but prosecutions have been rare.

However the Forced Marriage Unit, a joint Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Home Office team, provided support to about 1,200 potential cases in 2017, a government spokesman said, making Britain a “world leader” in tackling the problem.

Sikh parents better beware ! Do not play such foul tricks on your children.
Arranged marriages are fine as long as the young couple has the final say in the matter.
Man in Blue



Dawn – Road to Jati Umra: Nawaz Sharif skips NAB hearing

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 21 May 2018. Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Sunday did not appear before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Lahore, in “illegal” construction of a road leading to his residence in Jati Umra, Raiwind.

Earlier, the bureau had sent the PML-N supreme leader a notice asking him to appear before its combined investigation team on April 21, but he could not appear before it as he was in London to inquire after his ailing wife Kulsoom Nawaz.

“The NAB had issued Nawaz Sharif a notice to appear on May 20 (Sunday) for his own convenience as he usually has to appear before an accountability court in Islamabad during working days”, a source told Dawn. He said Mr Sharif neither appeared before the NAB at Thokar Niaz Baig office nor sent his legal counsel.

In the notice to Sharif, NAB said: “Investigation has revealed that you (Nawaz Sharif) being then prime minister illegally convened a meeting on March 15, 1998 regarding construction of the road from Adda Plot to Sundar Mull by utilising funds of Zila Council Lahore for your personal benefit”.

It asked him to explain his position regarding his “illegal direction” to the authorities concerned to enhance the width of the road from 20 feet to 24 feet for his “personal benefit” which resulted in cost escalation.

“It has also been revealed that you exercised the authority which was not vested with you by passing illegal directions on the project funded by the Zila Council Lahore”.

The notice further says: “Being then prime minister you misused your authority by way of initiating the project for your personal benefit in connivance with your brother Shahbaz Sharif who was then the chief minister of Punjab.

Because of your illegal direction the Zila Council Lahore had to drop various other projects of public welfare at the cost of the said project in connivance with Shahbaz Sharif”.

The source further said the NAB would decide whether to issue another notice to Mr Sharif or file a reference in this case in the accountability court.

Earlier, the NAB executive board had approved the filing a reference against Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif and others involved in this road project case.

Mr Sharif, his sons Hassan and Hussain, daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Capt Mohammad Safdar are already facing trial in three corruption references filed against them by NAB.


Dawn – Nawaz, Zardari ruined institutions by appointing cronies: Imran Khan

Mansoor Malik

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 19 May 2018. Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan on Friday alleged that the Sharif brothers and Pakistan Peoples Party’s Asif Ali Zardari had ruined the country’s state institutions by posting their cronies in them, and blocking justice for the masses.

He cautioned that the new government after the 2018 general elections would face a plethora of challenges.

Speaking at the launch of journalist Zia Shahid’s book and a fundraising dinner for Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital, Mr Khan said that Mr Zardari and the Sharifs had increased the country’s debt burden from Rs6 trillion to Rs27trillion over the past decade.

Speaking about the Quaid-i-Azam’s visionary leadership and his 47-year struggle to carve out a separate homeland for Muslims, Mr Khan regretted that the country’s politicians were corrupt people who only looked out for their vested interests.

“The assets of politicians start piling up as soon they come into power and that speaks volume of their ‘service to the masses’,” he said.

The PTI chairman deplored that the country was headed downhill and was losing respect globally because its leaders had abandoned the spirit behind the movement for a separate homeland for Muslims.

“Pictures of the Quaid-i-Azam adorn the walls of public offices but his qualities are not being appreciated by the people at the helm of the state’s affairs,” he said.

The poor people of the country did not have access to justice, while the parliament was full of corrupt politicians, he added, while lamenting that 45 % children in Pakistan had stunted growth, which hindered their potential to grow in life.

Referring to various global movements that had taken years to come to fruition, the PTI leader said there was no timeframe for someone to achieve success in their struggle. “Humans can only struggle, Allah gives success to his people,” he said, adding that leaders needed to work with missionary zeal and not prioritise vest interests.

Responding to Awami Muslim League president Sheikh Rasheed’s statement that people should give him a chance to govern the country, the PTI chief said Allah would change the hearts of the masses.

At the Shaukat Khanum Hospital fundraiser, he said there was no hospital in Pakistan that could offer treatment to the Sharif family.

He said the former prime minister and former foreign minister Khawaja Asif had criticised the Shaukat Khanum Hospital, yet its coffers continued to grow. Around 75 % of patients brought to the hospital received free treatment, Mr Khan added.


Dawn – Influential politician Sardar Ghulam Abbas quits PML-N over ex-PM’s interview

Nabeel Anwar Dhakku

Chakwal – Punjab – Pakistan, 16 May 2018. Already having grim chances of getting two tickets of his choice, Sardar Ghulam Abbas, the most influential politician of Chakwal, took Nawaz Sharif’s recent interview to Dawn as a chance to quit the PML-N.

At a press conference on Monday evening, Mr Abbas announced that he could not defend Nawaz Sharif during the election campaign due to his recent interview. “From today I have nothing to do with PML-N. We are leaving the party and from today our group is independent”, he added.

With his exit from the PML-N, the politics of Chakwal returned to its old course that was Sardar Group vs Anti-Sardar Group or PML-N.

Explaining his decision, Mr Abbas said he listened to the discussion of various analysts on TV channels and read Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s statement about the Mumbai attack trial in which the latter declared that the trial was stalled due to India’s non-cooperation. This led him to make up his mind to quit the party.

In the interview published in Dawn on May 12, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif expressed his concern over what he alleged isolation of Pakistan on global front and said: “Militant organisations are active. Call them non-state actors, should we allow them to cross the border and kill 150 people in Mumbai? Explain it to me. Why can’t we complete the trial?”

His remarks stirred a political storm in the country and he is being labelled as a “traitor”.

Mr Abbas registered himself as the first politician to have left Mr Sharif.

“Many questions were raised regarding Mian Saheb’s interview. I found a paragraph very bizarre of which answer was supposed to be given by the government but the question was put before a journalist,” he maintained.

“I read those four lines repeatedly. I cannot satisfy the voters during election campaign on this issue,” he maintained.

When asked what different thing Mr Sharif had said than statements given by former national security adviser retired Major General Mahmud Ali Durrani and Rehman Malik, Mr Abbas said: “I failed to understand two things given in the interview.

First, he mentioned the court (trial) which is the responsibility of the government of Pakistan. India has not cooperated in this case and I am saying this after listening to Chaudhry Nisar. The present government has been in office for about five years.

Why couldn’t it fulfil its responsibility? The second thing is that phrase which begins from “should” (should we allow them to cross the border and kill 150 people in Mumbai?). This means that you are declaring Pakistan a culprit”.

On the other hand, since Mr Abbas joined the PML-N in September 2016, he faced severe opposition from MNA Tahir Iqbal, MNA Sardar Mumtaz Tamman and MPA Zulifqar Ali Dullah as these three lawmakers opposed Mr Abbas’ inclusion in the ruling party.

Now Mr Abbas wanted to get two tickets: one for NA 64 and another for PP 23 while Tahir Iqbal and Zulifqar Ali Dullah are already candidates in these two constituencies.

A few days ago when Shahbaz Sharif visited the District Headquarters Hospital Chakwal, Mr Abbas was not present at the ceremony which was attended by all local MPs. Furthermore, when a few weeks ago Nawaz Sharif addressed political leaders of Rawalpindi Division in Islamabad, Mr Abbas was also not present there.

When hopes to get the tickets faded, Mr Abbas issued a video message to voters stating to contest the elections at any cost, be it as an independent.

Mr Abbas was first elected to the Punjab Assembly in 1985. He was elected MPA in 1993 under the banner of the PPP and made a minister. When Pervez Musharraf founded the PML-Q, Mr Abbas joined the party and was twice elected as the district nazim.


Dawn – The ‘not-yet-disappeared’

Rafia Zakaria

Op/Ed, 16 May 2018. It’s the stuff of nightmares: the sudden arrival of a number of men into the privacy of one’s home, a search, and then a family member taken away. This is what reportedly happened last month to a Ph D student Laeeq Aslam.

According to details of the reported event, about half a dozen men barged into his Rawalpindi home late at night. The men showed the inhabitants, including the victim and his family, a search warrant, and then proceeded to go through all the contents of the house.

They must have gone through personal belongings in the cupboards and drawers and everywhere else, scattering items across the floor of the home.

At the end of this, they were said to have taken some mobile phones and a laptop that belonged to Laeeq, indicating that they would need to conduct some tests on it. No one objected; after all, everyone was scared. Then, as they were leaving, they took Laeeq outside, to ‘talk’ to him. He did not return.

Laeeq’s family, his bereft mother and his father, have done everything that parents can do in such a hapless situation. They have filed a missing person’s case. In a short video, Aslam’s mother begs for her son to be returned.

We imagine ourselves safe, not at threat of armed men arriving in the depths of the night

They are hardly alone in their grief. In January of this year, a young scientist, Nozair Hassan, and his wife were suddenly taken away from their house in Islamabad. Their two young children cried and watched their parents disappear.

A petition filed in that case is before the Islamabad High Court, which has repeatedly demanded that the whereabouts of the couple be revealed and that they be brought before the court. So far, this has not happened.

According to the data kept by the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, which has been ordered to investigate these cases, 1,822 remained pending since April 30 this year.

A hearing before the Supreme Court earlier this month, resulted in additional attorney general Sajid Ilyas Bhatti admitting that over 1,330 people were being kept in ‘internment’ centres in various parts of the country. A little over 250 have been released from these centres.

When the judge asked for more details and whether proceedings had been initiated against these centres, the AAG requested an additional two weeks. It is difficult to tell from the record of the hearing whether these obviously illegal internment centres and the people in them form part of the 1,822 total missing persons cases that are pending.

The confusion and lack of information must undoubtedly be excruciatingly painful for those whose loved ones have been ‘disappeared’.

While all losses are terrible, the uncertainty of not knowing what exactly has happened to them, whether they are being tried or persecuted, held safely or are in peril, dead or alive, exerts its own torturous cruelty on those left behind.

The depth of this kind of pain is attested to in historical memoirs that speak of repressive realms as in the Soviet Union and pre-war Germany. Then, too, strange men would appear, often in the dead of night and always without warning.

Then, too, people, hurriedly dressed and still groggy from sleep, were carried away to unknown locations. Then, too, children and wives or parents and husbands were left behind, wondering if they would ever see their loved one again. Then, too, there was a regime of ‘disappearance’, where one is not dead, not alive, just inexplicably, painfully gone.

But Pakistan is not Stalin’s Soviet Union or Hitler’s Germany. We have, at least in theory, a system that includes the rule of law, where detention must be lawful and its conditions transparent, where every citizen has the right to freedom unless they are accused of committing a crime.

But these perhaps are the pretensions of all the rest of us, the not-yet-disappeared, who choose to believe in certain sorts of fictions, such as legality and criminality.

These stories, in turn, give us the courage to look away, to imagine the disappeared as inherently culpable, people who were involved in something sticky or nasty, something that offended the powers that be.

We, the play-it-safe, not-yet-disappeared, thus imagine ourselves safe, not at threat of armed and unknown men arriving in the depths of the night and rifling through our belongings and then taking away with them the most cherished, children or husbands or sons or daughters, with no explanation, not a single clue to their destination.

There may be 101 hearings, orders by courts demanding the production of the disappeared in courts, asking for explanations to these unknown ‘internment’ centres where so many Pakistanis reportedly remain far from the law of the land.

None will end the problem of enforced disappearances. For that to happen, the not-yet-disappeared, each and every one of the rest of us who imagine the gone as guilty, the present as safe, must let go of that myth, recognise disappearance as a fate worse than death imposed by unseen, unaccountable powers.

It is only when the ‘not-yet-disappeared’ recognise how perilously close their own existence, the lives they have built, are to being erased, that this problem will find a solution.

It is this silence, practised by the not-yet-disappeared in the Soviet Union and in Germany, that permitted enforced disappearances to take place, their numbers to grow. So, too, will be the consequences of similar silence in Pakistan. No one expects things to devolve, their own lives to be impacted — until it is too late.

The not-yet-disappeared of Pakistan must awake, suddenly and immediately, and realise that innocence is not sufficient protection against the abyss of disappearance.

The writer is an attorney teaching constitutional law and political philosophy.



Dawn – India hushed up Mumbai attacks case, says Nisar

Islamabad/Lahore/Karachi – Pakistan, 14 May 2018. Former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Sunday blamed India for hushing up the Mumbai attacks case and hanging principal accused Ajmal Kasab in haste to hide facts.

His comments came in the wake of a statement by ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif that has been spun by the Indian media as a tacit admission of Pakistan’s involvement in the 2008 attacks that left over 150 people dead.

Chaudhry Nisar said that due to non-cooperation and stubbornness of New Delhi, investigation into the attacks which was being carried out simultaneously in India and Pakistan could not reach its logical conclusion.

Chaudhry Nisar in his statement said: “In a country where cases concerning capital punishment face years of delays, the only proof in a very important case was sent to the gallows in extreme haste to take him away from the public eye and close the door before facts became public.”

Opposition parties condemn Nawaz Sharif’s statement and demand his trial under treason charges

He said Kasab was hanged in haste so that the Mumbai attacks could be used as a tool for “Pakistan bashing” across the world.

“I say with full responsibility that the delay and slow pace of the Mumbai attacks-related case in Pakistan was not Pakistan’s doing but was a result of non-cooperation and stubbornness by India,” he added.

The former interior minister said: “Despite repeated efforts, India refused to share those facts and evidence with the FIA and the investigative committee formed by Pakistani courts,” he added.

Treason trial

Meanwhile, main opposition parties condemned Sharif’s statement about the Mumbai attacks and sought his trial under treason charges.

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Sherry Rehman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) termed Mr Sharif’s statement “irresponsible, self-serving and damaging” and asked him to explain his position.

“He cannot make such an irresponsible statement inimical to the national security of Pakistan and to its stated foreign policy, even during his own time,” she said at a press conference in Karachi.

Ms Rehman said no democratic state would ever allow non-state actors to go maim, plunder and loot across its border. “What is Nawaz Sharif trying to do apart from serving his own interest?”

She said Pakistan was fighting a huge war “against terrorism against all odds alone and constantly under international criticism and he [Mr Sharif] is adding fuel to that highly critical narrative”.

“There is no concrete evidence linking Pakistan to the Mumbai attacks or for Mumbai to proceed with a trial. Pakistan, too, wants a judicious resolution of the Mumbai case and we are still waiting for the requisite evidence from India,” the PPP senator said.

In a press statement issued in Islamabad, former interior minister and PPP Senator Rehman Malik held India responsible for the Mumbai attacks and said the incident had been engineered to divert world’s attention from human rights violations in India-held Kashmir. He said the state of Pakistan had no role in the attacks.

“Such a statement [by Mr Sharif] implicating Pakistan amounts to backing the UN resolution against Hafiz Saeed who was found ‘not’ involved in the attack,” he added.

Mr Malik asked the PML-N supreme leader to withdraw his statement that created a false impression about Pakistan’s role in the Mumbai attacks.

“It was the RAW [Indian intelligence agency] which facilitated the non-state actors some (of which) were recruited from Pakistan. That is why India did not give access to Pakistani investigators despite numerous requests,” he added.

The former minister said it was a RAW operation supported by some western countries to frame Pakistan.

PML-Q leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi said Mr Sharif’s ‘anti-Pakistan statement’ was a “well thought-out conspiracy” against the country’s security agencies.

He said the former premier had stooped to such a low to commit treason. “In order to hide his corruption, Nawaz Sharif has gone to the extent to target Pakistan’s security agencies and armed forces. The Sharifs are hatching conspiracies against the army and judiciary with the help of their foreign patrons. The patriotic people of Pakistan will foil their evil designs,” he added.

Awami Muslim League leader Shaikh Rashid said Mr Sharif’s statement was against the country’s security and could lead to economic sanctions. “Defaming the judiciary and army was part of an international agenda and an attempt to create obstacles in the way of accountability,” he told the media in Multan.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Punjab president Abdul Aleem Khan said Mr Sharif had once again proved that he was more interested in having friendship with Indian Prime minister Narendra Modi than protecting the interest of Pakistan.

PTI leader Ejaz Chaudhry de­­manded institution of a treason case against the former prime minister.

Former foreign minister and PTI leader Sardar Assef Ahmed Ali said the authorities concerned should proceed against the PML-N supreme leader under Articles 5 and 6 of the Constitution for his statement that shocked the nation and pleased the enemies of Pakistan.


Dawn – Punjab Assembly condemns Indian army chief’s statement calling Kashmiri struggle ‘futile’

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 11 May 2018. Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf MPA Shoaib Siddiqui on Friday tabled a resolution in the Punjab Assembly condemning a statement by the Indian army chief in which the military official described the struggle for freedom in India-Held Kashmir (IHK) as “futile”.

The resolution pointed out that the Indian general’s statement was an admission that the Kashmiri people are not terrorists but ordinary people who are fighting for freedom.

The resolution urged Organisation of Islamic Cooperation member states and other international organisations to intervene in the matter and ensure that the Kashmir conflict is solved in accordance with the United Nations’s resolution.

‘Azadi won’t happen’

In an interview to The Indian Express on Thursday, Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat warned Kashmiri youth that “azadi (freedom) is not possible”.

“It won’t happen,” he told the publication. “Don’t get carried away unnecessarily. Why are you picking up weapons? We will always fight those who seek azadi, those who want to secede. (Freedom) is not going to happen, never.”

Held-Kashmir’s new normal: Curfew, search operations and military crackdowns [italics/centre]

General Rawat claimed that the number of ‘militants’ killed in the encounters didn’t “matter to him because […] this cycle will continue”.

The general said that he did not “enjoy” killing innocent people but if Kashmiris wanted to “fight” the Indian army, the latter would “fight back with all [its] force”.

He added that the Indian security forces have not been “so brutal” to the Kashmiris. “Look at Syria and Pakistan,” he insisted. “They use tanks and air power in similar situations”.

He then admitted that the Kashmiri people have grievances but warned that “throwing stones at the forces isn’t the way”.

The Indian general expressed surprise that the Burhan Wani encounter incited so much “anger” in the people of Kashmir.

“(The Burhan Wani encounter) wasn’t the first such encounter in Kashmir,’’ he said. “I am still trying to understand where did all that anger come from. The youth have gotten themselves in Pakistan’s trap. They are being consistently incited to attack us”.

India-held Kashmir has seen an explosion of protests against Indian rule since government forces shot and killed Burhan Wani in 2016.

The death of the charismatic 23-year-old, who had built up a big following on social media, sparked an outpouring of grief and anger that spilled into the streets and led to months of clashes with security forces.

“We had to tell people that azadi isn’t happening,” Rawat insisted. “We had to establish the writ [of the state]”.

He admitted that a military solution to the Kashmir issue was not possible and the army wanted politicians to visit the area and “talk to people”.

“But [the politicians] are scared that they will be attacked,’’ he said.

He also regretted that tourism in the area had been affected due to the Kashmiri struggle.

Separatists have been fighting since 1989 against the roughly half a million Indian soldiers deployed in the territory, demanding independence or a merger of the entire disputed region with Pakistan.

Tens of thousands, mostly civilians, have died in the fighting.


Dawn – I was invited to talk on Partition. I was then told to talk on Independence as Partition ‘never happened’

Anam Zakaria

Op/Ed, 07 May 2018. The word ‘taqseem’ is commonly used by Partition survivors to refer to the events of 1947. A division, a split, a rupture that gave birth to Pakistan.

In English, the word ‘Partition’ is part of the established vocabulary that gives voice to one of the most significant events in recent history.

As an oral historian and researcher, I have interviewed hundreds of Partition survivors over the past several years. These words are uttered often in interviews, allowing people to share their memories, to in some way express what they had endured during the cataclysmic division.

And just as these words are present in all the interviews I have conducted, so too are the horror stories of Partition. Bodies chopped up, breasts cut, throats sliced, figures mutilated.

Regardless of the volume of work conducted on Partition, on both sides of the border, perhaps not even a fraction of the bloodshed and violence endured by Partition survivors has been captured in its essence.

Many of these survivors continue to live in the trauma of Partition, its journey ongoing, interjecting their dreams, their thoughts and their everyday lived experiences.

Yet 70 years after Partition, the Pakistani state has devised its unique way of referring to 1947; these official versions have their own ontology, removed from the context of the survivors.

The politics of recognition of certain events, or certain version of events, and the politics of denial of other episodes is at the heart of these policies.

I was recently invited to speak about Partition at a literary event. The students who were putting together the event had wanted me to share the Partition narratives I had collected, particularly focusing on the violence that the survivors had experienced.

I wasn’t surprised for it is often assumed that the only experiences of 1947 are the violent ones. It serves to justify separation, the creation of Pakistan that ‘liberated’ Muslims from the ferocious ‘infidel’ perpetrators they had left behind on the other side.

Narratives of inter-communal harmony, of nostalgia and longing of the pre-Partition past are seldom explored in the mainstream discourse.

However, days before I was scheduled to speak, there was a subtle change. I was no longer meant to talk about Partition; rather, I was supposed to limit myself to talk about ‘Independence’.

While 1947 indeed marks both Partition and Independence, one cannot talk about Independence without addressing Partition.

However, the organisers, I was told, believed that there was no Partition but only Independence that had taken place.

Moreover, they rejected the idea of discussing the bloodshed of 1947. Instead, they claimed there were no horrors. 1947 was Pakistan’s triumph, its victory. After all, if there was no Partition, how could there by any bloodshed?

Today, Partition has metamorphosed into Independence. And it is not Independence from the British but rather from ‘Hindu’ India.

The colonial past receives little attention in Pakistani textbooks and the Divide and Rule Policy is often sidelined. Using the Two Nation Theory to inculcate the idea that Hindus and Muslims were always separate nations, the two communities are shown as divisive throughout history.

A common phrase found in textbooks is, “Hindus can never be the true friends of Muslims.” 14th August then is a cause for celebration because it gave Pakistan independence from India.

In the collective memory of the nation, independence from the British holds little significance.

What the actual survivors feel, those who had fought tooth and nail to create Pakistan, those who had suffered the loss of family members and friends, of childhood, properties and their homeland, does not matter.

No taqseem, no Partition, no horrors took place. By depriving them of the language to express these sentiments, the state can erase any memories of longing, of remorse, of nostalgia. It can impose the official understandings of a tumultuous ‘victory’.

The use of selective language, of particular words and symbols, is a powerful way to mold memories and understandings. By imposing or depriving citizens of specific words, of the tool of language, states are able to construct identities, meanings and experiences that fit national projects.

Interestingly, while Pakistan insists on referring to the events of 1947 as Independence, when it comes to the 1971 war and the creation of Bangladesh, terms such as ‘The Fall of Dhaka’ or ‘Dismemberment’ are openly used.

This is in stark contrast to the use of the word ‘Liberation’ by the Bangladesh government. To call it anything else in Bangladesh can invite charges of anti-state behaviour, just as calling it Liberation or Independence in Pakistan would.

In India, it is unacceptable to refer to the part of Kashmir under India’s control as anything but Jammu and Kashmir. Titles like ‘Indian-administered Kashmir’ are deemed objectionable on the pretext that they challenge the notion that J&K is an integral part of the country, that they challenge India’s sovereignty over the territory.

The open and ongoing resistance against the Indian state by Kashmiris who indeed do challenge Indian rule and view India as an occupying force are dismissed.

By insisting that the territory is referred to as Jammu and Kashmir, the apparatus to express that occupation is snatched away.

Publishing houses and media outlets too are expected to abide by these ‘guidelines’ laid down by the state, undermining freedom of speech and denying Kashmiris freedom of expression.

In Myanmar too, there has been an active effort by the state to deprive the Rohingya community of their ethnic identity and their claim to the land by insisting that the Rohingya people should not be referred to by that name.

In 2016, it was reported that Aung San Suu Kyi, the State Counsellor of Myanmar, had advised that the term not be used. Foreign Ministry official, Kyaw Zay Ya, further reasoned that, “We won’t use the term Rohingya because Rohingya are not recognised as among the 135 official ethnic groups” in Myanmar.

By making the community nameless, the state can deny them the right to the land, the language to express their grievances, and the world recognition as a persecuted community, facing genocide.

The forced use of particular terms or the silencing of certain other terms like Partition, taqseem, Rohingya, Indian-administered or Occupied Kashmir successfully suppress indigenous voices, sentiments and aspirations.

States are able to rein in elements that may question state policies, histories and ongoing violence perpetuated in the name of security.

Through this politicisation of language, attempts are made to try to reconstruct national identities, sidelining the very citizens that often helped create and sustain these nation-states.

Did you, or anyone in your family, have to leave home due to Partition? Share your story with us at blog@dawn.com

Anam Zakaria is the author of Footprints of Partition: Narratives of Four Generations of Pakistanis and Indians and an upcoming book on Azad Jammu and Kashmir.


Dawn – Curbs on thinking

Huma Yusuf

Op/Ed, 07 May 2018. It is no secret that our university campuses have become spaces of intimidation rather than debate, censorship rather than critical thinking. Panel discussions are cancelled, speakers are forced off campuses, student events are disrupted by mobs, professors who encourage engagement are fired.

The threats to critical thinking and debate come from many sources: so-called ‘state functionaries’, student wings of religious political parties, firebrand students wielding blasphemy charges, politicised academics, complicit university administrators, and even right-wing media commentators who name and shame educational institutions, forcing them to go on the defensive and resort to self-censorship in lieu of jeopardising students’ safety from mobs.

The range of issues deemed too sensitive to debate grows every day. Beyond academic debate on matters of national security and foreign policy, discussions on culture, history, law, constitutionality and even science are increasingly perceived as too sensitive.

Opportunities for debate are cancelled both by authoritarians for fear of what might be said, but also by the academically inclined for fear of the violent reaction that genuine debate may provoke.

How is the next generation meant to learn how to think?

And this is the fate of those who dare to speak, to engage, to question. The ranks of those who no longer bother, who opt for silence and safety over debate and danger is growing.

A new report from Media Matters for Democracy, a Pakistan-based, not-for-profit initiative, on the practice of self-censorship among Pakistani journalists found that 79 per cent of respondents had self-censored their personal expression online and in the company of strangers (aside from the routine self-censorship required in a professional context).

One can imagine that these statistics among university students would be similar.

The demise of debate, and the critical thinking it necessitates, on university campuses is especially problematic because Pakistan’s youth don’t have access to other spaces where they can engage their minds.

According to the excellent Pakistan National Human Development Report on youth released last week, 85pc of young Pakistanis do not have access to the internet, and a shocking 94pc do not have access to a library. How is the next generation meant to learn how to think?

The various groups cracking down on academic debate think that by enforcing silence they enhance their power and, eventually, wrangle the public’s consent and compliance. Terrifyingly, they are right.

If you suck ideas and opposing viewpoints out of circulation, at first, they live on behind closed doors, then they start to seem irrelevant, and ultimately, they cease to exist.

And what takes their place, in our case, conspiracy theories, paranoia, fanaticism, sectarian and ethnic hostility, is taken for truth, and not recognised as the pressure tactic that was its first incarnation.

In the short run, widespread censorship does result in a pliant population. The silencing that the Zia generation endured explains the attractiveness of hare-brained conspiracy theories today. Pliant populations are also easier to govern.

People who are intimidated into silence in one arena of their life will be placid in others too. Students who watch every word they utter on campus are unlikely to become entitled citizens demanding service delivery, human rights and state accountability.

But this conception has one major flaw, it is underpinned by an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality. Censorship and the stifling of debate require an elite who decides what can and cannot be said, and a public that complies.

There is an uncomfortable power dynamic here, a division of the polity into those who can use critical thinking skills to manipulate debate and knowledge and those who are not entitled to anything beyond obeisance.

How short-sighted, then, are those who seek to silence? Today’s students are that elite of tomorrow. By stifling critical thinking on campus, we are ensuring a future in which Pakistan has corps commanders, parliamentarians, judges, senior bureaucrats, CEOs, police chiefs and doctors who are incapable of sophisticated reasoning.

These are the people who will have to plan the country’s economic trajectory and allocate increasingly scarce resources. They will have to negotiate trade and defence deals on behalf of our country.

They will have to engage in diplomacy on the world stage. They will have to win business. They will have to keep Pakistan safe. And they will have to train the generation that comes after them.

To do any of these things, you need to think critically, engage with and process facts, identify alternative possibilities, and reason or negotiate with people on the other side of the table.

If all you know is the power of brute force, if your comfort zone is that of censorship, authoritarianism, silence and complicity, then you are not fit to do any of the things needed to help a country and a society prosper. As such, today’s silence is being bought at the expense of Pakistan’s future. Is it really worth that much?

The writer is a freelance journalist.

Twitter: @humayusuf


Dawn – Hazara massacre

Irfan Husain

Op/Ed, 05 May 2018. I recently received an email from a reader that made me ashamed for not having written earlier about the Hazara ethnic/sectarian cleansing taking place in Balochistan.

The young Hazara woman writes: “… in Quetta we are imprisoned to a few kilometres … we can’t go out of this confined area… I am writing to you because I want you to support us, write about us, stand by us, stand against Shia killing and the genocide of Hazaras….”

Reinforcing her perception, Human Rights Watch reported a few years ago: “There is no travel route, no shopping trip, no school, or no work commute that is safe for the Hazaras.” According to this organisation, at least 509 Hazaras have been killed in this campaign that began nearly two decades ago. Hazaras put this figure closer to 3,000.

The recent hunger strike in Quetta by Hazara women emphasised the daily horrors the community faces.

Out of the reported 900,000 or so Hazara citizens who live mostly in Balochistan, around 70,000 are said to have fled, mainly to Australia, where there are reports that hundreds may have drowned during this perilous sea journey.

Those who haven’t been able to make the attempt are confined to two ghettoes in Quetta guarded by police and military check posts. But once they leave to shop or work, their lives are at risk.

The recent hunger strike in Quetta by Hazara women emphasised the daily horrors the community faces.

And the fact that they called off their protest after meeting the army chief, General Bajwa, rather than accepting the promises of security made personally by Ahsan Iqbal, the interior minister, is an open indictment of the failure of successive governments to protect them.

The Hazaras have not been protesting for better living conditions, or schools, or jobs: all they are demanding is the basic human right to live.

This right is enshrined in our Constitution, international law and in all religions. And yet, a spokesman for the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, while accepting responsibility for most of the Hazara killings a few years ago, added that his group was exacting vengeance for the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of American commandos.

In fact, some suggest that the slaughter of Pakistani Hazaras began in earnest after 9/11 when the Afghan Taliban found safe haven in Quetta. Part of their baggage was apparently the desire to continue the genocide in Afghanistan where they had killed thousands of Hazaras for supposedly siding with the Northern Alliance.

Pakistani groups like the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan who had fought with the Taliban turned their guns on the Hazaras. Malik Ishaq, a founding member of the former group who is alleged to have masterminded the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore in 2009 from behind bars, was released on bail by the Supreme Court in 2011.

Unsurprisingly, elders of the Hazara community had expressed their apprehension at his release. Around the same time, several prominent Shia-hating extremists broke out of Mastung jail, possibly with inside help.

So when the Supreme Court chief justice conducts his suo motu hearings of the Hazara persecution in Quetta next week, I hope he will keep their fears of such collusion in mind. One possible nexus he might want to explore is the one mentioned by Jalila Haider, a Hazara lawyer and human rights activist, in a recent TV interview.

According to her, Hazaras were being forced by the killings to sell their properties at throwaway prices to avoid the killers who were targeting them at their shops. Could they be acting in conjunction with some of the land mafias that thrive across the country?

The other thing to ask is how come Balochistan, the most heavily militarised province in the country, is so deadly not just for Hazaras, but for Baloch nationalists and non-Baloch workers as well.

After all, if the many intelligence agencies and paramilitary forces operating there have managed to largely contain the separatist rebellion, why can’t they smash groups like the Laskhar-i-Jhangvi and the Sipah-i-Sahaba?

More than the Panamagate scandal, I blame Nawaz Sharif and his henchmen for their abject failure to implement the National Action Plan to end religious extremism in the country.

Had they been even half-serious in taking the tough measures involved in cracking down on hate speech in our television chat shows, classrooms and mosques, we might have a chance to end the massacres the Hazaras are being subjected to.

Instead, we are stuck in our normal cycle of killings of minorities, crocodile tears from politicians and the media, and then business as usual.