Monthly Archives: April 2018

Thank you #SabeenMahmud for giving us morale to “debate”

It was the sad day, when I searched out through media that Sabeen Mahmud, a female activist shot dead by the unknown gunman who had fled the scene where her car’s windscreen pieces were spread around her, and her thin chappals were lying in the front seat when she was driving toward home from her recent debate at the second floor café.

The brave voices exist in all ages and every society, as they’re created ones to give morale to rest of the people no matter if it is with the cost of their own lives. Don’t we read about the Socrates, who did not change his version before the dogma and accepted the bowl filled of poison? And he even stopped his pupils not to cry cowardly on his death would have been the gesture to keep the mission on until we keep the world free from the shackles of slavery.

We remember comrade Sabeen Mahmud on this very day when she was silenced on 24th April 2015 when she had successfully arranged a gathering and debate session on the Baloch missing persons and their miseries. That was attend by Mama Qadeer Baloch, the person who lost his son after getting missed and his dump dead body was thrown.

Sabeen and Mama’s up for the thousands of missing persons of the Baloch nation who’re struggling for equal rights, social justice, democracy, peace and equality in this country. And many of their dead bodies are received and majority of them are still missing till these lines are written.

Pakistan has been through the longer dictatorship eras where the Human Rights violation is having its own history. But after the 9/11 Pakistan came to a new era controlled by a dictator General Pervez Musharaf who considered the media and freedom of press to be used as communique to counter the Indian propaganda on Kashmir and its long nemesis with Pakistan.

But it gave a space to the journalists, democratic social and political rights activists, as well as writers and speakers to keep on their views exchanged with in their own circles and discuss the Pakistani society as a whole and certain issues in it.

Sabeen Mahmud had opened T2F “the second floor” café for the said reason to bring in open debates and discussions among different people. “A community space for open dialogue, T2F provides citizens with a platform for social change through rich cultural activities, public discourse, and advocacy using progressive ideas and the new media”, reads the comments on the T2F website.
These ideals are never accepted by Pakistan’s deep state and the people who’re vocal on such issues like Sabeen are either pressurized to keep silence or are silenced the other way round, means targeted and killed.

Individuals like Sabeen can be physically killed and separated from us, but the ideals they followed are that much powerful which have given more boost to her mission to speak open for human rights of the society. Its recent example was when the well-known bloggers on social media were asking their space while criticizing the country’s military establishment through a sarcasm tune. They’re abducted and then released after a much more pressure from the countrymen and women through their voices on social media.

It was the first General of Pakistan who violated constitution of the country to implement the first martial law on the country. Imposing such a military rule no doubt suspended all the “debating corners and individuals” because an open discussion and creation of public opinion in the light of logic and argument would always be raising people’s fingers on the dictating generals for violating the basic human rights of the people.

Pakistan’s popular journalists in the General Zia’s era were punished in the public to terrorize rest of the society for not using their lips and pen against the hegemony of the martial regime. And these thoughts of the minority imposed on the majority of the country have been made a political culture by the powerful army establishment of Pakistan. Even-though, Pakistan constitution article 19 is giving right to every individual citizen of the country for expressing his her opinion and views openly. But at the same time this article is violated.

Though, it’s the elected government second term in Pakistan and earlier the Pakistan People’s Party led government completed its tenure for the first time in the country’s history. The second tenure though underway is in cross hairs again by the censorship and pressure from the “hidden forces”—refers to deep state of Pakistan, who’re pressurizing the open say and its recent example is the no coverage for the Pashtun Tahafooz Movement, who’re out for their demands.

But Sabeen is considered the one who did not fear before these hidden forces even-though she had got fatal threats. This is why now an open discussion is under way on the internet blogs, social media commenting, releasing of minutes long videos and discussing different aspects of the hegemonic pressure of the state against its people. This is how the ice was break by Sabeen Mahmud, we miss her as she’s not among us at a time when masses from across the country have kept on her mission alive to debate openly and discuss things the way they think are fine.

The best homage to Sabeen’s soul can be paid in keeping her struggle for “freedom of expressions” and human rights on. So, let’s vow on this very day to remain stuck to her mission until we go for a liberal society where the basic human rights are respected and we live as civilized masses.


#ClimateChange is killing the agriculture in Balochistan and a threat to vulnerable communities, not considered serious issue by the government

The Climate Change has caused cool winter return again in the last of April around Quetta and rest of Pakistan; it’s forced me to turn the heater on and get warmth that way and today sitting in the sun is again a fun but alas it caused billions of PKR loss to our farmers.

The apple orchards, the palm, apricot trees, & the very base of different vegetable has been attacked by the harsh Climate Change across Balochistan; where snow’s scene on the mountains in a time when people were happy that their trees are full this year but a sudden cold killed.

The use of solar tube-wells and no or less annual rain and snow is letting the water table disturbed causing water deficiency even for drinking, the capital city Quetta is faced by the harshness of Climate Change that first accelerated the urbanization now no potable water.

Neither the federal nor the provincial governments could alleviate the issue by adaptability and survival techniques and following the UN Environment and NASA Climate Change policies the last three decades are proving deadly for the agriculture, live stock and under ground water.

Not only this, the geography and geology experts are of the view that the disturbance of the water table can cause the Earth Quakes as Quetta and rest of Balochistan are in the red-zone; and we’ve nearly lost Ziarat juniper forest.

Here to note Ziarat, Pishin were badly affected by the earth quake in 2008, let me mention that Quetta faced the most deadly earthquake in 1935 that killed almost its population but current violation of building code and Climate Change are threats.

ISIL radio network in #AfPak

Jalalabad (Malik Achakzai 23rd Feb 2016): The Southern East provinces of Afghanistan are now hearing the Caliphate FM Radio for last two months. The propagation of the said radio is focusing the young foot soldiers and common masses to attract them for the Islamic State manifesto. The aim of the radio is to target the young from across the region to be energetic recruits in the future for spreading Daesh interpreted agenda of Islam.

It’s not only Afghanistan; the Caliphate Radio is heard in the neighboring regions of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas; where locals have confirmed hearing programs from the Daesh radio. The radio waves can be heard with technically engineered bilingual programs in Pashto and Dari, the two languages spoken across Afghanistan.

The United Nations reports have shown Daesh recruitment and activities in 25 provinces out of 34 Afghan provinces.

The radio has different sections of programs; separated for the audience taste; one of them is the program for “Children” is aimed to target the children at very young age equal to the play group of schools. That has interviews with the children mostly told about of the fighting parents in the Islamic State ranks.
The presenter announce proudly one of the child speaking to the Khilafat radio, as the presenter explain him having cap on his fore head, showing him happy though spending life in the artillery and jet bombings but never shiver him because he’s a Mujahid—holly warrior son.

“Praise to Allah, I am migrated here from Logar for the cause of Holly war”, replies Dadullah, seemingly speaking a scripted say to his presenter, a sheer propagation aimed for attraction. He recites the holly Quran verses in the radio program. “I am familiar with the bombs, I will be part of holly war against the apostate Afghanistan and Pakistan; this is why I play with plastic guns in this age”.

The presenters seem to be trained FM radio journalists; the background in the Daesh radio programs are not music as played in other FM radios across Afghanistan; they use the Arabic verses played in the back.

“We are asking Muslim; they should research; they should know that the areas under our control are ruled by Allah’s law or any other?” says Hafiz Said Khan the ISIL chapter Pakistan Afghanistan head.

“We are against the apostate (murthad) govt of Pakistan and Afghanistan armies would fight them till we are breathing, this is why we have killed several of these infidel armies and would do same in the future too” says Hafiz Said Khan the IS Afghanistan Pakistan chapter head.

One of the Daesh official having his code name as Abu Taloot, who told he’s a technical director for propagation and media for the IS in Afghanistan and Pakistan chapter, stated that the aim of the Islamic State is to counter the propaganda against their organization.

“We want to spread our voice this way; to motivate people and let them get out of the ambiguity propagated by the infidel states [referring to Afghanistan and Pakistan]”, says Abu Taloot. “We are having 17 boasters across Afghanistan and the neighboring areas of FATA; they are functioning so well; and untraceable because we are using the techniques and digital tools to overcome any kind of tracing”.

Abu added their boasters are functional in Achin, Kot, Jalalabad, Urakzai, Tirah, Miranshah and would go on to other areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan soon. While talking to news lens Pakistan Abu Talut stated that they’ll soon launch powerful tools that the IS radio would be heard in Peshawar and Kabul at the same time.

The Afghan government has tried to trace the radio but they are not succeeded till now; as these radios are mobile and undetected easily.
The Daesh Radio is having from one to two hour program every day, but they are on a run and go down after completing the programs, Ataullah Khugyani told News Lens Pakistan.

“The propagation of the Daesh are not that much hazardous as people know their brutal face; it’s functional from Shinwari district”, says Khugyani. “We are in search to trace the exact point and the equipment and station used for this propagation”.

Khatima, 55, is a house wife; she hears the Daesh FM radio on her radio set every evening the programs are on. “We are scared that the deadly force would attack our children and homes as like the Taliban are doing; even though I don’t like them but tune it for information of their fight”.

After the 9/11 and International Community Alliance against the Taliban regime; the Afghan government and different news organizations launched more than 100 FM radios across Afghanistan for the development of society; and they were financed and equipped so will till the 2014 American forces withdrawal time approached.
Now the residents of Afghanistan are not heard with that enthusiasm so alike Khatima, many people hear the radio as something new and unique.

According to security analysts after the death of Taliban emir and his death report kept in secrecy; many of the field commanders switched to Islamic State; therefore IS can be a major threat for the government and international community in Afghanistan.

“Islamic State would be even more ruthless group. They are effectively recruiting educated class of the society including those having bachelor; they are also focusing on underage kids who are vulnerable to joining them”, says Hekmatullah Azamy and I am a researcher at the Centre for Conflict and Peace Studies (CAPS), a Kabul-based think-tank focusing primarily on security studies.
Azamy thinks that the excessive violent operations and activities of Islamic State are a campaign itself; second they unite different militant groups from Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) who have pledged allegiance to the group.

“ISIS has been able to curve support of the elements in Afghan and Pakistani Taliban who believe in Jihad in both the countries” says Azamy.

Salafists already in large number in Pakistan while their number is increasing in eastern belt of Afghanistan and would easily join ISIS, Azamy told News Lens.
A mix reaction about Daesh (IS) is found among the people; some say they are good to counter Taliban; others say no they are more brutal than Taliban are; a sort of confusion is created, Jamshed a social activist from Kabul told.

“The Sunni hard liners in Afghanistan see that Hazaras and Shias are given more than their number and share; so this way they want an avenge and think that IS would be a conclusion for this; which I see is totally a mess of ideas now created in the society”, says Jamshed.

Jamshed see that it’s time when very smaller portion of people are having welcoming mind for IS, majority of the society see them as “butchers” social media and local news channel have role in exposing IS activities in the Middle east.

The Radio Photo’s a courtesy one from Google

Repatriation back to Afghanistan is hard for Pakistan born Afghan Refugees

PESHAWAR (5th June, 2016): The young boy in dark shalwar qameez, trimmed hairs in popular western style, looking more like a boy from elite family of Peshawar surrounded by his friends enjoys the locally prepared green tea—qahwa, possibly be his farewell gathering in Peshawar.

Aimal Mustafa, 27, is afraid that Pakistan has zero tolerance for Afghan Refugees to remain on its soil anymore. Aimal, with half smile on his face asks, “Where should I go, I am by birth Pakistani, Peshawri [residence of Peshawar], I have never visited Afghanistan [the country of my parents in my life]”.

Aimal told, narrating his parents that they had migrated from “Khugyani” one of the district of Nangarhar, where the Islamic State, the organization of religious hardliners well known for their brutality in Iraq and Syria, has got sanctuaries and fighting Afghan government and NATO allies.

Six millions of Afghans fled their country after the USSR invasion in 1979 and took refuge in Pakistan and Iran based refugee’s camps, cites the UNHCR report. And their stay took longer when the 1988 USSR withdrawal caused the Afghan civil war and then the Taliban taking control of the country in 1994 till 2001.

Aimal, opened his eyes in Peshawar, went to a local school in the Peshawar town, then college and finally graduated from Peshawar University as graduate in Business Administration, Aimal has no citizenship documents either of Pakistan or Afghanistan. “Most of the nations across the western world award nationality by birth, I do not know why Pakistan is reluctant awarding me my nationality?” asks Aimal.

Aimal is a Pakhto compere for the music programs, he told he came in “love with” when he was a school going teenage and took part in stage dramas and plays at his college. He now works as freelance writer as well for music shows and sometimes television and radio programs.

Alike Aimal thousands of youths born to their Afghan parents went to school, businesses and joined their professional life in Pakistan. Speaking same language [Pakhto], having same facial features, culture, religion and blood relations socially and ethnically blended Afghan migrants in the Pakhtun populated towns of Peshawar and around makes them undistinguishable whether they are “Pakistanis or from Afghans”.

But the shift in Pakistan’s policy for resending Afghan Refugees back to their country after the Army Public School and Bacha Khan University attacks claimed by the Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan, changed state policies toward Afghan Refugees. As Pakistan allegedly blamed Afghanistan land used for the coordinated the attacks that resulted killing more than 132 students and staff members in APS Peshawar and more than 20 in the Bacha Khan University Charsadda.

Farida Siddiqi, 45, an Afghan lady a mother of two children who’s professionally attached to a social organization in Peshawar, married a Pakistani Pakhtun from Swat, says, “For me it would be hard to go back to Afghanistan, though, I came as a child, but I am married to someone in Swat, Matta”. She asked how she can separate from her Pakistani family.

Even though, Farida visited NADRA office a year ago for getting her CNIC [Pakistani Citizenship Identity card], when she showed her “nikkah nama”—marriage registration agreement, she was given a token and her CNIC was processed that was reportedly later blocked [for not having parents CNICs required]. “The officer told me, that dozens of women from Afghan Refugees get a male with a [nikkah nama—marriage registration agreement] and ask for CNICs, we cannot access your form because we doubt you are not married with the local person”.

Pakistan is host to 1.5 million registered Afghan refugees, told Duniya Aslam Khan, the UNHCR spokesperson for the country [Pakistan]. “In the recent Tripartite Commission meeting on 19 July in Bhurban all parties (the governments of Afghanistan, Pakistan and UNHCR) reiterated their commitment to find sustainable solutions for more than 1.5 million registered Afghan refugees to have “voluntary repatriation with dignity”.

“A five-year national plan of action will soon be presented to the High Commission for Migration”, which integrates returnee needs within national development planning processes across responsible line by the Afghan ministries, told Duniya.

The statement released by the Afghanistan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation on the Tripartite Commission meeting held in Bhurban states that Afghanistan’s Minister of Refugees and Repatriation (MoRR) Sayed Hossein Alimi Balkhi stressed the importance of reinvigorated efforts to create an environment conducive for voluntary repatriation and sustainable reintegration in Afghanistan, including improved access to basic services and livelihood opportunities, and land tenure reform.

“We pay gratitude to the Government and people of Pakistan for hosting millions of Afghan refugees and economic migrants for more than three decades amidst economic challenges and significant strain on the infrastructure and resources,” Afghan minister told.

While replying via mobile, Abdul Jabbar, 70, is now living in Jalalabad after being sent back to his home town after living for four decades in Pakistan. “I am concern about the jobs for my children, they used to sell vegetables and fruit and make good earnings in Peshawar, but I am concern, what will happen to them, as they are yet to search job”.

He’s also complaining to have house, as many who are returning have lost their houses in war that damaged everything, or their lands encroached by relatives who were in Afghanistan when “we lived in Pakistan”. It will take time to settle permanently, “we were ousted on emergency basis, every other day our sons were arrested and heavy payments made to the police and they spent days in prisons”.

Haroon Shinwari, a practicing lawyer at Peshawar High Court told, according to Pakistan Citizenship Act 1951, any child born to a non-Pakistani citizen on the territory of Pakistan does not automatically becomes Pakistani. Only children born to Pakistani parents (either both parents Pakistanis or just one) are Pakistanis by birth. “Pakistan has its constitution and can be reformed in regards to the Afghan Children who are born here and have grown up here in Pakistan”.

For Aimal it would be hard to leave Peshawar, the town he had adopted by birth and has made several friends and now “love every street, school, mosque, hujra [traditional guest house of Pakhtuns in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa] and all friends he made in his life”. He’s concerned of his own security while going to Khugyani district in Afghanistan. As he does not know where to live and who to be friend with and what profession he can join for earning a life.

On the other hand Farhad Ahmed Popalzai, 28, once a university student in Quetta, used to teach at his private Computer and English center, is now working in a Afghanistan International Bank in Kabul, as payroll manager and do visit and attend classes in one of the Kabul based University, as visiting lecturer. “I am happy, having a living here, and most of my friends who are here are concern about finding a job, and very few of them are given chances, as Afghanistan is not having resources to settle these young educated returnees at once”, he told via skype call from Kabul.

Farida is not concerned about life in Afghanistan, and she is of the view that those who got education in Pakistan are a good “human resource” for Afghanistan, and this four decade war destroyed country, need professional and technical human lot living as refugees outside the country. “My sisters, brothers, nephews and nieces, all are contributing to the Afghan society on its way to progress, one of my niece graduated from Botany department at Peshawar University, now a researcher in Kabul and teaches there”, says Farida.

Dilawar Khan, 60, a senior citizen of Peshawar backs the government [of Pakistan] decision for the repatriation of Afghan Refugees. “Our own population is now a burden, most of our graduates are unable to find jobs and earn a living in Pakistan, and they [locals] go after jobs to Middle East and western countries, once Afghan Returns, our youths would find space in market”.

One of the social and political activist Sanna Ejaz, who lead Shirkat Gah, a social organization in Peshawar as manager, says, “No doubt Afghan Refugees were forced to leave their country in hard times, but they contributed to our society being skilled and cheap labors”.

Most of the people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were idle, and their larger families were dependent on the piece of agrarian land they had. Rest they [locals] did not work as technical professionals. These were Afghans who encouraged them to become bakers, barbers, cobblers, and labors for offices and industries and construction work, told Sanna. “Otherwise, even today, most of the local are lazy to become low wage workers”.

Sanna told that Afghans willingly returning to their country is “fine”, but pushing them in a knee jerk reaction would be a clear violation of the UNHCR and International Laws and convention Pakistan is signee of. “I do not see Afghan Refugees involvement in crimes on street of Peshawar; even now you can observe the FIRs in the police station, very few Afghans you will find involved in crimes”.

Sanna does not see Afghan Refugees a burden over the Pakhtun society and Pakistan in general. And she is of the view, “they are free human resource we have got, and they have played important role in the development of our society, whether we acknowledge the Afghan Refugees contribution or not”.

It is “the politics that divide us [people of Afghanistan and Pakistan]”, otherwise, there should be no boundaries among people, who are same human beings, follow single religion, culture, history, heroes and blood relations and people of such relations are “hard to be separated by boundaries”, Farida told. “You can oust the Afghan Refugees from Peshawar, but Peshawar would always remain in their spirit as their first home”, says Farida.

#Nawroz in Peshawar arranged by Bahai community

Peshawar: A multicultural and religiously harmonized gathering, with the prayers for peace, love and unity, show of foods, poetry and cultural music and dance are the signs of hopes the Peshawarites enjoy in the gathering organized in a calm area of the city.

The weather is pleasant, the cool breezes and a bit of rain from the cloudy sky of Pesahwar are signs of the weather change. The trees are having a deeper green shade around the small quarter in Hayatabad where the small street is filled with vehicles of participants of the “Nawroz”—the Bahais religious ritual of Eid is underway.

The Bahais calender start from the day 20th of March, and the follower of the sect believe in that the first prophet was born on the same day and this is why they perform Nawroz on the said date every year after completing their 19 days longer fast.

The most active lady, a young woman in her forties is Malalai Akhatari take the stage, “different communities and nations celebrate Nawroz around the world, but Bahais celebrate it as their Eid and the ritual is celebrated since the beginning of the humanity”.

The leader of the Bahai’s Faith has his universal message “The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens”, Bahá’u’lláh, cites the religious book of the community in Pakistan.

On this day the gatherings are aimed to rethink and re-plan activities for the “social transformation” and whether these activities are on individual or collective basis should remain for the peace, betterment and progress of “humanity”, says Malalai.

More than fifty youths, girls and old age men were part of the gathering where Professor Meher Dad Yousaf, 70, focused on the importance of “Nawroz” and the solution of issues “we are faced by” should find a wise end, told Dad.

The children recited the Bahai prayers, all centering the humanity across the globe, region and Pakistan. Participants of the gatherings were from all religions and sects living in the valley, who exchange their views on the importance of the day and being in harmony with each other irrespective of religious and sectarian differences.

Fawad Bahai is of the view that they invite people from across the society to take part in their joyful event of Nawroz. “We are the children of the same soil, we should exchange joys and spread co-existence and this is the only way to understand each other”, says Fawad.

Peshawar used to go through the harsh phases of its history, the bomb blasts, the target killings, the bloodshed terrorized everyone from the city, thanks God things are changing and “peace” is now not only hope but going to prevail again in the city of “flowers”—referring to Peshawar, told Kashmala, 30, the MPhil student in the department of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Peshawar.

“Pakistan where religious minorities a like rest of the citizens of the nation faced hard times, now having such gatherings like Nawroz shows that we would again get the religious harmony and co-existence”, says Kashmala.

The history of Nawroz is seemingly 3000 years old and its center used to be the Afghan and Persian regions the current Afghanistan and Iran told Habib Hassan Yaad, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan active member. “Religions are having their peaceful preaching for co-existence, human love and overcoming the hurdles society is faced by”, says Yaad.

Though the Bahais believe in the Nawroz ceremonies as their religious rituals but the history of Nawroz is the practices of the world oldest civilization. According to Salam Khan, a history student, actually the Nawroz is having its roots in the Zoroastrian New Year when the lands of the Asia [currently central Asian nations, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran] were covered with snow and life would come to a start exactly on the same days “20th of March”.

The current Pakhto word for Eid ‘Akhtar’ is having its background in Zoroastrian civilization of this land. As “Akhtar is actually Yakh—winter, Tar—ends” when the cold whether would end life would go again in its normal flow. This was a belief that the end of winter is meant to give life to the living things, buds grows on trees, flowers show their faces, animal breeding system starts, is actually a life phase of nature, told Salam.

Fawad ur Rehman, a social activist says “I feel really excited attending the Nawroz gathering, we are having enough rituals and cultures living in our province, Bahais is one of them, who focus on social transformation and always teach to remain peaceful, treat all genders of human equally and love life and nature”.