Saturday, February 9, 2008

CCP rally assaulted

The CCP rally from Lahore to Islamabad, passing through various other cities, was assaulted by the police on its way. Details of this incident are still awaited. There is also news of a protest outside the press club, right now, to condemn this illegal and uncalled-for attack on a peaceful rally.

(More details soon)

The 'Marsia' of Our Time: Story of Pakistan’s Missing - Part 1

The most tragic part of Saud Memon’s story is the fact that he never told it. He never could. Not because of any curtailment of the freedom of speech, not because of political pressure, not because he didn’t want to. He could not tell the world about what goes on in Guantanamo Bay or in ISI’s cells in Pakistan. He died before that.

In its 60-year history, the Supreme Court of Pakistan could not have witnessed a more tragic scene than what it saw on May 4th, 2007: A 44-years-old emaciated man, reduced to 80 pounds, was produced before the Court, lying on a stretcher. Abducted by the security agencies in 2003, he had been kept in detention in Guantanamo Bay, then in Afghanistan and finally in ISI’s torture cells in Pakistan. He had survived Guantanamo. He survived Afghanistan. But ISI took him. Finally, as a result of a nationwide campaign by families of the missing people, and the Supreme Court’s suo moto intervention, the government was forced to release him. They dumped him in a garbage heap near his house, after beating him to a pulp. Some neighbors recognized him and brought him home. He could neither walk nor hold his head. A week later he was presented before the country’s Supreme Court which had managed to make the ISI capitulate

As many in his audience were brought to tears, advocate Shaukat Akhtar Siddiqui proclaimed, “This skeleton of a man has a reward of Rs3 million on his head in the Red Book of our Interior Ministry,” pointing to the emaciated body of Saud Memon.

The FBI had arrested Mr Memon, 44, on March 7, 2003, because Daniel Pearl’s body had been found on a plot of land allegedly owned by him. He was never given a chance to defend, because a case was never filed against him. He was not even arrested because then he'd have to be presented before a court. There was so little evidence to link him with that crime that he could not even have been indicted before any court, in Pakistan or the US. The governments in Pakistan and the United States, though, couldn’t care less. Daniel Pearl was dead and someone or another had to be framed. Saud Memon was unlucky enough.

On Saturday, May 18, 2007 only 20 days after his was finally released from illegal detention, he died of meningitis and brain TB - all that he had gone through in the US’s and Pakistan’s torture cells simply killed him.

As Muharram wanes, the victims of Karbala must not wither from our memories. Here in the our midst, quite bemoaned remains a son of the nation, Saud Memon – on of the most tragic victims in Pakistan’s history - and hundreds of other missing people still languish in torture cells. If the text-books that we teach our kids are to bear the names of martyrs and victims, then shoulder to shoulder with all those soldiers should be standing (or lying down) this victim of the government’s brutality, and, perhaps, our own insensitivity. Indeed, the true marsia of our times is the story of Pakistan’s missing – a story that we must sit in a majalis to weep over, in the hope that by this public admission of guilt and expression of remorse, a nation that has so brutally wronged so many of its sons and daughter may be forgiven. May it be that in this weeping, we find atonement for our sins.
This was essentially the message of an event arranged today by the Rule of Law Project and LUMS Law & Politics Society.
More on this tomorrow

An Activist Fights Back

(An unusually interesting series of emails is being exchanged on the SAC's mailing list. In a fairly attacking mail, one Ms. S raised a series of objections against the continuing struggle of lawyers, students, civil society activists, media and the judiciary, and advocated the current government's case.
In the message underneath, one Mr. Wasion Ali Khan fights back in brutally compelling prose, touching upon some of the most crucial issues facing Pakistan today, including the Waziristan War.)
As explained by Miss S, the Human Rights commission, lawyers and other people of THEIR category DID NOT raised hue cry for the support of the military personnel being slaughtered in Waziristan and no one is listening to their plight (media that is).
Ms. S., May I ask that was it our fault in the first place to send those soldiers to fight fellow Pakistanis? Was it our fault that a mad dictator (who has usurped all powers and is trying to act llike Amir-Ul-Momineen) has corrupted a professional department by engaging it in civil matters and using force to solve all matters? Was it a popular vote by us, common Pakistanis, common man, that forced Mr. Musharraf to send the sons of Pakistan to kill other sons and families of Pakistan in Waziristan?
Are you willing to accuse and blame media and judiciary for not giving adequate COVERAGE to the DEATHS of our sons instead of going into the root of all problems, i.e. Mr. Musharraf??
Are you deft and blind to all the reality around you? Did you miss the carnage of 12th May as Mr. Kamil pointed out so clearly in his reply? Did you miss the judicial crisis Mr. Musharraf caused? Did you miss the reaction of judicial community throughout the world that was in favor (and still is) of deposed Chief Justice? Have you not realized that economic crisis our country is in? Did you miss to notice the spoon-feeded facts of government are blindfold to hide reality? Did you miss noticing the privatization fiasco? Did you miss the warm welcome that Benazir received with a bang on returning to Pakistan? Did you miss the fiasco the government created regarding the manner of her death? Did you miss Musharraf breaking his promise? Did you miss members of Q League saying that Lal Masjid crisis were settled but Musharraf ordered the assult?
Did you miss growing up and being mature?
Red Mosque Terrorists? How dare you. Whether they were trouble-makers, whether they were morons or whether they puppets or pawns in the great political game of Pakistan, they were fellow Pakistanis and were helped by Musharraf himself to be what they were and seeing the right time he disposed them off. Why aren't you crying over media on this, since they fully covered the whole crisis? Why are you showing biased opinions with no clear signs of understanding of politics?
Do you think that thousands of Lawyers that are protesting, boycotting the courts and are currently robbing themselves off their livelihood, are filthy rich rascals? You think they have enough to eat and leave behind for the sons and grand sons to live a life of luxury? You think that judges are opportunists and highly corrupt? Well name me any department that is NOT corrupt since Musharraf came to power? If judges were so corrupt as you indicate, are they idiots as well for missing a chance to get more power by taking oats under PCO? Judges did that 8 years ago and benefitted, you think they would miss a chance like that? You think judges who took oaths under PCO have no chance for corruption at a greater scale? Do you know that since current judges are not being accepted as legal by the lawyers community and since there is no law or legal guidance for such unique matters, the judges are simply giving verdicts of their own choice without the fear of any repercussion (they have full protection from Musharraf) and not even charging hefty sums as verdict fee from the accused but are also receiving financial and administrative benefits from the government for solving cases (irrespective of how they are being solved)?
Are you blind to notice all this? Did you actually read what you wrote in your email before
sending it?
I would advice you to get yourself educated in matters related to Pakistan before entering the arena of Conspiracy Theories. It would benefit you greatly and those around you and most of all, it will be a service to your nation. Think carefully.
In Solidarity
Wasio Ali Khan Abbasi

Musharraf Limo ambushed in London

London 25 January 2008

President Musharraf's limousine was forced to halt in Park Lane, London, tonight (25 January), when human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell ran in front of his car in protest at the Pakistan dictator's "suppression of democracy and human rights." The ambush happened outside the Hilton Hotel Park Lane, as the President's motorcade drew close to the hotel, where he was scheduled to speak.
“I stood inconspicuously at a bus stop reading a newspaper, waiting for Musharraf's motorcade to arrive,” recalled Mr Tatchell “When the police motorcycle escorts drew level, I ran out into Park Lane and straight in front of the President's car. It screeched to a halt.”
“I unfurled a placard protesting against Musharraf's massacre of civilians in occupied Baluchistan. The placard read: "Stop Pakistan Massacre of Baluch people.”
“Musharraf could clearly see the placard. He did not look pleased. His driver tried to back up and drive around me, but I ran in front of the limousine again, forcing it to halt once more. I could see Musharraf in the back seat shouting something at his driver. Perhaps he feared that I was an assassin or a suicide bomber.”
“The limo reversed again and tried to swerve past me. I blocked it for the third time. Musharraf and his colleagues looked very agitated.”
“Eventually, police motorcycle escorts ran over and dragged me away from the bonnet of Musharraf's vehicle. They pulled me across the road to the central reservation in Park Lane, where I was pinned against the railing.”
“Shortly afterwards, the police let me go and I joined the main anti-Musharraf demonstration outside the Hilton Hotel, organized by lawyers protesting against the arrest of fellow lawyers and supreme court judges in Pakistan.”
“Although my placard specifically condemned Musharraf's human rights abuses in Baluchistan, I support all the people of Pakistan who are struggling against dictatorship and for democracy. It is shameful that the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, is entertaining Musharraf at Downing Street on Monday. He is siding with a dictator against the people of Pakistan.”
“Musharraf is guilty of crimes against humanity, including the indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas in Baluchistan, using weaponry supplied by Britain and the US. Pakistani human rights groups say his regime practices torture, detention with trial and extra-judicial killings.”
“Musharraf is a criminal and should be arrested by the UK authorities and put in trial in The Hague,” said Mr Tatchell.

LAST RALLY outside Aitzaz Ahsan's House before Elections

On Sunday, February 10, we will be holding our LAST RALLY outside Aitzaz Ahsan's house before the elections. LET'S MAKE IT COUNT! Many of you are going on the car rally to Islamabad as well the day before, but please do call on all your energy reserves and try to make it here afterwards.
Sunday feb 10, 3 pm. 5 Zaman Park, canal bank - Lahore.

In Complete Solidarity,