Monday, November 26, 2007

Student Action Committee Lahore issues Call


· Under the guise of emergency, on the 3rd of November a brutal attack was launched against the civil society of Pakistan which recently mobilized in unison with the judiciary and the lawyers.
· All the judges who stood by their oath to protect the constitution were removed and placed under house arrest. Moreover, the two judges blamed for releasing terrorists have taken oath under the PCO. There is no excuse for the treatment meted out to the judiciary.
· The media has effectively been silenced as have all opposing voices to the totalitarian regime.
· Fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression and assembly, right to association and right to life, liberty and property, have been taken away.
· A direct assault on the students has been made: talks and debates on academic campuses have been banned. Students are being threatened with expulsions and are being pressurized by a pseudo-student’s (non-democratic) organization. Threats have been made against the students’ future careers and job acquisitions.
· Thousands of people are in jail to date without any legal basis.
· Our industries and businesses have suffered immense losses in millions of rupees due to the aforementioned governmental policies.

If not Now, WHEN? If not Us, Who?
There is no neutrality anymore; SILENCE IS CONSENT. SPEAK!
Do not strengthen the forces of repression which plunder the life and liberties of innocent citizens. SPEAK!
“I will not remember the words of my enemies but the silence of my friends.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Raise your voice with ours for the restoration of the constitution and the judiciary; freedom of the media and release of protest prisoners to enable a democratic process to take root through free and fair election.
Join us to peacefully PROTEST on 30th of November near Salt & Pepper (Liberty) at 2:30 (after the Jumma prayers)
Student Action Committee

Students of Lahore Universities and Colleges form Student Action Committee

After intensive negotiations, the students of 15 universities and institutes of Lahore have come together to establish a unified stance with regard to the recent political upheavals in Pakistan. The statement issued by the students is as follows.

Press Release:

We - students of universities in Lahore – raise our collective voice against the current state of emergency rule and unite on a common agenda. Our demands in sum are aimed to ensure that the people of Pakistan are empowered through a free and fair election process, in order to move national development and progress forward.

We unite to condemn the coercive actions of the government that have moved Pakistan away from the path of peoples' rule towards internal chaos, through extreme restrictions of constitutional freedoms.

We call upon youth all over Pakistan to unite in order to denounce the state of emergency cum martial law imposed against the country's judicial organ and the people of Pakistan. We declare our intent to remain in steadfast opposition to these actions of the regime and to boycott the upcoming elections if the government does not accept the following demands:
1. Lifting of Martial Law
2. Restoration of the Judiciary to its pre-3rd Nov state
3. Restoration of the Constitution to its pre-3rd Nov state
4. Removal of curbs on Media Freedom
5. Release of Protest Prisoners and dropping of charges against them

We declare our unified decision of refusing to recognize as legitimate any government formed under an election process that precludes the acceptance of these demands. We call upon all political parties of Pakistan – that have repeatedly stated that they stand for democracy and justice – to stand by their declarations and boycott any such election held before these basic demands have been satisfied.

We, students of universities in Lahore, hereby declare that we consider any such election to be both unconstitutional and an affront to the very name of democratic rule in the country.

Convince PPP to boycott elections

We would strongly urge everyone to contribute in anyway possible in regards to pressurizing PPP to boycott the upcoming election drama. Participation by 3 major parties (PPP, JUI-F and MQM) can give a semblance of legitimacy to these sham elections.

1) Contact the main leaders of PPP and show them your dissent. Below is their information. Please write/call/email/txt/ meet them in person to show your dissent with elections under emergency. Even if they don't pick up your call, THEY WILL READ YOUR SMSes! The main people to contact are:

Ms Sherry Rehman
Information Secretary
49-Old Clifton, Karachi051-9224129, 021-5834663-4, 0300-8222881, Personal Mobile: 0300-5001420 E-mail:

Mr. Babar Awan
27-E, Ali Plaza, Blue Area, Islamabad. 051-2823778, 2276540,0320-4265000, Personal Mobile: 0300-5000161 E-mail:

Mr. Farhatullah Babar
Assistant to Mohtarma
Personal Mobile 0300-8552543

Senator Mohammad Enver Baig
House No. 5, Street 55, F-7/4, Islamabad Tel: 2206778, Mobile: 0300-8542308; Fax: 2201107

Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto
H. No. 8, St. 19, F-8/2, Islamabad. 051-2282781, 2255264, Fax 2282741Personal Mobile (old number) 0300-5000001 (might not be available onthis but her secretary Awan will probably be.)E-mail:

Makhdoom Amin Fahim
Vice Chairman
11-A, 2nd Sun Set Street, DHA, Karachi, 021-5842140, 0228-31199, 051-2840588,0300-9221234 E-mail:

Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani
Vice Chairman
Gilani House, Ghaus-al-Azam Road, Multan, 155-B, Phase-I, Defence, Lahore061-542424, 0300-8448141, 8730662; 042-5723234.E-mail :

Mr. Jehangir Bader
Secretary General
140/107 Karim Block, Allama Iqbal Town, Lahore. 042-5414990-1,0300-8470402; 051-2276014, Fax 051-2276016. E-mail:

Mian Raza Rabbani
Deputy Secretary General
H. No. 14/II, St. 31, Phase-V, Ext. DHA, Karachi:021-5865841-2, 0300-9291624, 051-9223854. E-mail:

Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi
Deputy Secretary General and President PPP Punjab
H. No.445, Bab-ul-Quresh, Muhallah Daulat Gate, Multan061-4514666, 042-5712289, 0300-8634453, E-mail:

Mr. Sajjad Bokhari
Deputy Information Secretary
8 - Davis Road, LahoreTele: 042-63714559, 0300-8446754, E-mail:

Mr. Babar Awan
27-E, Ali Plaza, Blue Area, Islamabad. 051-2823778, 2276540,0320-4265000 Personal Mobile: 0300-5000141E-mail:

Central Secretariat Pakistan Peoples Party
House No. 1, Street 85, Sector G-6/4, IslamabadE-mail: (92-51) 2276014-5
In addition if you know who the PPP person for your relevant area is you can find his/her number at:

2) Student Council's of various universities, lawyers' associations, journalist associations' and other relevant groups should send press releases boycotting the elections under emergency and under the the puppet supreme court and that all parties which take part in the elections without the restoration of the judges will be condemned, boycotted and unjoined, etc. If you want your university's press release to be sent to newspapers, email them to or

3) Forward this message to as many mailing lists.When you forward this email please remove all previous information of the sender.

Make your voices heard!

Update on Muneer A Malik

The update is that yesterday the government withdrew detention orders against Muneer A Malik. However, we hold the government directly responsible for the criminal negligence and for any consequences to Mr Malik. His condition is stable now, although obviously the delay has caused damage, say friends who are there. They emphasise that people should not panic, but that we should keep the pressure on the Govt to withdraw detention orders on all political prisoners, and please keep them in our thoughts and prayers. To recap, as Salahuddin pointed out, the government did not allow or provide timely medical help to Muneer A. Malik. When his condition deteriorated they panicked and transported him to PIMS on Nov 23 at 6pm. He suffered acute renal failure and was placed on dialysis in the ICU.
There is news that Aitzaz Ahsan is being shifted to Lahore where his house will be declared a sub-jail and he will be placed under house arrest.

Get Real and Engage

Cynicism is the opium of the elite. This is the main thing that I would like to say to Mr. Nadeem Farooq Paracha, in response to his article called "Air Bag" that was published in DAWN magazine on November 18th.
NFP argues that the ongoing civil society protests against the emergency reek of "hypocrisy" and "pretension", and that he does not want to be part of a "crusade" in which the lawyers, democrats, extremists, and liberals are hurled together in the same boat. If aunties protest, they are too elitist and it is convenient for them to rally "on a full stomach." If students protest, they are misguided. I want to ask NFP: who would you rather have, your highness? Perfect socialists who grow their own food? Or laborers on an empty stomach? A while back, mullahs all over the country were protesting against the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Does that mean that I should not have protested against the war?
NFP apparently wants a perfect civil society, but does not want to do anything constructive towards its creation. He seems to think that his resistance to Zia's regime was the only valid cause to uphold, because he was involved in it. Wake up, Mr. NFP, please shake yourself out of your bubble. We are living through a more insidious Zia these days, which makes the challenge much more critical and daunting. Politics – like life – is messy, confusing, and full of contradictions. "Civil society" anywhere is ridden with ironies, exclusions, and axes of difference such as class and ethnicity, and these need to be negotiated for bringing about progressive change, not escaped through use of self-aggrandizing wit and cynicism.
It is too easy to believe in economic and social justice, and then sit back and comment on how no one is getting it right. And when in times of brutal repression, people finally find the need and courage to stand up, the threatened arm-chair cynics like NFP love to run them down even more: why did they not stand up for a,b,c cause before? Only if they stand up against x,y,z now, will I – the self-proclaimed sage of the age – deem their cause worthy enough.
One can criticize any stance – which, by the way, is only a convenient way for not taking any stance at all. It is always convenient to be cynical and contradictory, as if that makes us all intellectual. This is the surest way to escape ever standing up for anything, and for masking one's own ignorance, and unwillingness to engage. It is simply an excuse to stay in our elite comfort zones. But silence is a form of political action, and it has strong consequences especially in these severe times. By not standing up and vocalizing our discontent with this kind of exceptional repression, we are implicitly telling the regime – and all subsequent regimes – that it is ok for them to do whatever they please, and we will sit idle like innocent bystanders. Our fatalistic ("whatever will be will be"), over-critical ("I don't agree with anything"), and cynical ("this is such a crazy farce") postures are not only unfair to those who are willing to struggle and sacrifice, but they in effect help to sustain the status quo.
I am obviously not against humor, wit, or critique. We would not get anywhere without these. Indeed, there are many shortcomings of the current resistance that I have experienced myself. Amongst other things, it is not broad-based enough and will perhaps flounder in the absence of a viable leadership. The situation, though, demands more minds and more engagement, not an offensive use of witty cynicism.
The "decked up supermarket aunty" who NFP so condescendingly rebukes might be shopping at Agha's, but at least she has the decency to stand up for the cause of democracy and justice. With the kind of elite apathy, non-seriousness, and fear that I see around me, even one elite woman taking part in a flash protest is refreshing, and makes a difference. The daughter of Murtaza Bhutto – who to NFP's displeasure is also part of the anti-emergency struggle – published a moving and timely article on the tremendous suffering of missing peoples' families in Baluchistan, on the same day as NFP was putting down the protestors who are trying to protect the rights of these families to due process of law. NFP loves to mock Imran Khan as well -- will he recognize that the latter accomplished almost revolutionary change in the culture of Punjab University by enabling students to challenge IJT oppression? Salman Ahmad is NFP's favorite target, yet the rock singer wrote a more real and insightful article for the Washington Post in which he took a clear stance against martial law.
It's all too easy to disparage protesting students as well by saying that they are immature, trying to act cool and pseudo-revolutionary, or just joining the bandwagon. Why are we so bent on dismissing them instead of giving them credit? They are not impulsive fools who love Benazir or Nawaz Sharif – they are as disillusioned with "democratic" regimes as anyone else. Does this mean that they should now give up all hope and respect for political process? Do we simply accept the kingdom of a military dictator? The students are genuinely frustrated, and refuse to watch tyranny take root. They are a heterogeneous bunch, do not have all the answers, and are also uncertain about what the future will bring – as in any struggle. Yet, not standing up to current atrocities is a graver concern for them. Despite enormous fears in these times of repression, they have the integrity and courage to take a stance.
This is the time to make distinctions. We need to recognize that the current struggle is about resisting the wholesale annihilation of the rule of law, and the freedom of expression. I, too, cannot stand talk shows on certain channels, and in fact, loved NFP's spoof on them that was published recently. Does that mean that a high-handed closure of channels and silencing of critique under PEMRA is acceptable? The Supreme Court might be corrupt, brash, and naïve, but it showed an unprecedented sense of social and political responsibility by taking up cases against forced disappearances, shady privatizations, and illegal building practices. Unlike the shameless legislature, executive, and most of the citizenry, the lawyers and judges who have been hounded for months are still bravely refusing to accept an elitist and military-dominated status quo. What power are they getting by risking their lives and the security of their families? Why, for once, can we not think about their struggle with the seriousness that it demands? What amount of violence and human rights abuse will it take to move us into action? Is the decimation of the highest judicial institution not enough? Are over 5,000 indiscriminate and unlawful arrests not enough? What about the anti-terrorism and sedition cases against innocent people? Are the laws for court-marshalling citizens also acceptable, so that the military-intelligence establishment can simply press "delete" on citizens like it did on the Supreme Court?
Democracy is something you achieve through citizens' engagement, not through self-serving apathy and through blaming the judiciary, politicians, and just about every one else. Indeed, as a friend recently said to me, "those who have spent their lives struggling for freedom and democracy and have seen their efforts go to waste time and time again are actually the least likely to develop this perverse form of cynicism." If we do not have the courage to protest the ever-increasing despotism that is shredding our country, at least we should not trivialize and ridicule the efforts of those who do. Better still, we should express our solidarity, lend support, and actively shape this defining historic moment.
I request NFP to shed his holier-than-thou, "I'm too well-informed to take a stance" posture because that is what really reeks of elitism, hypocrisy, and pretension