Sunday, September 23, 2012
Radio Pakistan President Zardari while condemning burning of a church in Mardan says it is contrary to the teachings of Islam. President Asif Ali Zardari has condemned and deplored the attack and burning of a church in Mardan on Friday by a mob protesting against the anti-Islam film. In a message‚ the President said that the highly provocative anti Islam film had been roundly condemned throughout the world and particularly in Pakistan by Muslims and non Muslims alike. But he said ransacking public and private property particularly the places of worship of other religions was itself unislamic and highly condemnable. The President said that ransacking and vandalizing revered places of worship and inflicting self damage in retaliation amounted to playing into the hands of perpetrators of the crime who produced the anti- Islam film. Describing torching of the church as 'unfortunate and reprehensible ' President Zardari said that it was contrary to the teachings of Islam which ordained respecting places of worship of all religions. The President called upon Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government to take all appropriate measures for protecting the places of worship of Christians and other minorities and address their grievances. ======= Pakistan Peoples Party's Human Rights Cell has also strongly condemned the burning of the Church. Central Coordinator PPP Human Rights Cell Dr Nafisa Shah in a statement said it is a conspiracy to give a bad name to Muslims. She also condemned the violence on Friday that led to the taking of innocent lives‚ besides burning of private and public property that led to the loss of millions. The PPP Human Rights cell called upon the authorities to take severe action against all the miscreants that have used the occasion to perpetuate violence and to take special measures to protect religiuos minorities.
by Mahim Maherone of the saddest days in Karachi’s history. Six of its downtown cinemas were attacked by mobs and set on fire. That’s pretty much the major ones completely destroyed. Only two big ones remain, one at the edge of downtown and one by the seaside. The mobs, which were in the thousands, swept through the centre of the city on Friday setting banks, businesses and the cinemas on fire as part of protests against the Innocence of Muslims film. The pillaging and arson was condoned by our toothless and two-faced ‘religious’ leaders heading the protests. Whenever anarchists sweep through the crowd, these clerics disown them and have the gall to later say that the men were not part of their group but were ‘criminal elements’ as if this was a lesson from the periodic table. The mobs wanted to storm the US consulate in Karachi, which was protected from all approaches by the police and strategically placed shipping containers. The protesters first swept through the main financial artery of Karachi, MA Jinnah Road, to converge at Native Jetty bridge which leads to the consulate. Along the way they ransacked the banks, kicked in windows, stole money, even food from the cinema’s bars. In the morning as I turned on the TV the violence seemed to be mostly concentrated in Islamabad and Peshawar up north in Pakistan where cinemas were attacked as well. The government had made the mistake of caving in to the extremists and declaring Sept 21 Ishq-e-Rasool (pbuh) day, or Love for the Prophet (pbuh) Day. You see, in Pakistan we have to beat our breasts about these kind of things. The government’s reasoning was that it would save itself by appearing religiously correct. What I don’t think it had bargained for was the protests that were planned. This was a failure of police intelligence. Also, since we only have about 3,000 cops we can actually use in Karachi of 20m people, they are stretched to thin. As far as I understand, via our reporter Saba Imtiaz, the police did not have orders to take action unless the US consulate was attacked. We’re trying to find out what exactly happened there and why the police did not have the kind of backup they needed from the paramilitary Rangers force who we pay billions of rupees to keep. The irony is that we showed our love for Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) by setting our own city on fire. I’m sure he’s really happy and all the ‘criminal elements’ will get a special place in heaven for the great work they did. The non-violent residents of Karachi watched on in dismay at the complete anarchy that descended on the city. We are a cursed metropolis, unable to get through any day without some kind of disaster. Just last week 289 garment factory workers perished in the worst fire in our history simply because the exit doors were sealed. As the city editor of The Express Tribune, I’m supposed to know by now the way events will unfold in Karachi. But I confess, each day for the last month has stripped away my naiveté. I never thought it would get so bad and this happens to me each time. I’m never prepared to predict the extent of the depravity. I feel like a fool because I err on the side of the goodness of human nature. But as the footage rolled, I realised that there was no limit to the madness. The same thing happened to me when Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in 2007. All of us in the newsroom were unprepared for the fires that would sweep through the province. Each time I’m caught on the backfoot. The neighbourhood where I live in is relatively protected but as I drove to work I had to pass through a shopping strip where tyres were burning on the road. A group of young men were gathered at the end. I had to somehow get through them by driving carefully around the scattered flames. “Stop her!” I heard one of them scream. “Get her!” cried another. I was wearing my press badge but I had a feeling it wouldn’t help. I rammed my foot against the accelerator. My subeditors had a hard time getting to work as well. One of them found mobs around the office and turned back. He went home, changed into a shalwar kameez, grabbed a skull cap and pretend to be a protester to reach the office. Before heading out to work, I had to raid my fridge to get food together as my subeditors at work messaged me that they were hungry and there wasn’t going to be any access to food that day. Plus I had reporters out in the field who I knew would return hungry. So I’ve learnt my lesson and have decided to stock the office with food supplies. Petrol is another concern. In Karachi you can never let your tank be close to empty because what if you need to drive reporters or subeditors home? Sometimes even water runs out at the coolers and you need to keep bottles in your car. I can only imagine it was much worse for newspaper offices that are located downtown. But perhaps the worst part was that the government decided to suspend cell phone services on Friday. Two of my reporters were downtown covering rallies and protests and the cinema burnings. When we lost contact with Saad Hasan for an hour or so our hearts were in our mouths. All I could say to his wife, Rabia Ali, who is also my reporter, that he’s smart, he’ll always know what to do to protect himself.
http://www.sananews.netForeign Minister Hina Rabani Khar
http://www.hindustantimes.comThe economic cost of the riots that erupted in Pakistan on Friday to protest an anti-Muslim film may be as high as Rs76 billion (R42.84 billion), local business associations have warned. As the country picked up the pieces of the rioting and mayhem on Saturday, the government said that arrested and would be sent to anti-terrorism courts in Karachi and Lahore. Militant groups like the Jesh-e-Muhammad and the Jamaat-ud Dawah (JuD) teamed up with other religious parties to stage the demonstrations. In Some of the damage may be irreversible. The Bambino Cinema in Karachi, which was once owned by Hakim Ali Zardari, the father of President Asif Zardari, was gutted along with ten other cinema houses in the country. Famous Karachi cinemas like the Nishat, Prince and Capri were set also ablaze. Nawab Hasan Siddiqui, the owner of Nishat Cinema, said he will never open it again. “Now I know there is no guarantee of our safety.”
The Express TribunePolice officials investigating a blasphemy case against Rimsha Masih submitted an interim charge-sheet on Saturday declaring cleric Khalid Jadoon Chishti guilty before the trial court. Submitting the charge-sheet, Investigation Officer Munir Jafri said that three eyewitnesses had recorded their statements against Chishti. Though District Attorney Mehfooz Paracha raised objection over the charge-sheet, he put his signature on the document. Talking to The Express Tribune, Jafri said Rimsha appears innocent according to the charge-sheet since there is no evidence to prove the blasphemy charges against her. “Neither the complainant, nor any eyewitness recorded a statement against her,” he added. The officer said that Hafiz Zubair, the mosque’s muezzin, had already disclosed in his statement that Chishti added some pages of the Quran to the ashes of the pages Rimsha allegedly burnt. Two other witnesses, Hafiz Awais and Khurram Shahzad, endorsed Zubair’s statement as well. Jafri alleged that the district attorney tried to pressurise him into declaring Chishti innocent, but the former refused to do so. The charge-sheet was submitted before District and Sessions Judge Raja Jawad Abbas due to the civil judge’s absence. The case was adjourned till September 24. On September 7, the court had given the police a final warning against delaying the charge-sheet and directed them to submit it by September 21. The court had also granted bail to Rimsha against two surety bonds of Rs500,000 each. She was flown off to an undisclosed location upon her release from jail. Rimsha was arrested on August 16 for allegedly burning a booklet used to familiarise children with the Arabic used in the Quran. The Ramna Police Station registered a case against her on the insistence of a mob incited by Chishti.
http://www.brecorder.comIt is not rare in democracies for ministers to acknowledge responsibility for tragic incidents involving loss of life on their watch, and resign. Not so in Pakistan, though. Creditably for him, the Sindh Minister for Industries Abdul Rauf Siddiqui, took the first step in that direction when he resigned from the provincial cabinet following the fire in a Karachi garment factory in which 289 lives perished under most horrific circumstances. Siddiqui said that he found himself "helpless and with no authority to move against the people responsible for the deadly factory fire." Contending that the two relevant departments, civil defence and labour, "responsible for safety measures and labour rights are not under my authority", Siddiqui averred "I was compelled to see people dying in the fire." His detractors might argue that in taking the step he has while pointing a finger at others, the minister tried to shift the blame and earn political mileage. That though would be unfair, considering that in the absence of any precedence he was under no pressure to give up the ministry. Besides, Siddiqui said he was quitting so as to allow the investigations to be conducted in a transparent manner. Whatever the reason, his decision sets a good precedent. There are numerous examples from other democracies, including our neighbour India, wherein ministers have given up office after tragic incidents involving loss of life. The first such resignation in India was tendered by railways and transport minister Lal Bahadur Shastri as far back as 1956 after a train accident in Tamil Nadu in which 114 people were killed. The then prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, accepted the resignation citing constitutional propriety. The precedent has since been followed, the more recent example being that of Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, who took "moral responsibility" for an Air India plane crash during landing at Mangalore in May 2010 that resulted in the deaths of 160 people - Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh though rejected the resignation. We have had two devastating plane crashes in Islamabad during the last two years alone (Air Blue and Bhoja Air accidents in Islamabad claimed 202 lives in August '10 and 127 in April this year, respectively) yet no one at the top received as much as a rap on the knuckles. The present example therefore is an important assertion of the principle of accountability. The buck must stop at the office of the minister in charge. Of course, when Indian railways and aviation ministers resigned they were not driving or flying the machines involved in accidents, yet they felt answerable for the conditions that might have contributed to accidents and the consequent loss of life. It is about time ministers in this country, too, begin doing the honourable thing and take the fall for any such loss.
DAILY TIMES:BY LAL KHANMurtaza had his shortcomings but his charisma and honesty were beyond dispute. He admonished the lust for wealth, power and office. His courage and determination were implacable Sixteen years ago on September 20, 1996, in the dusk falling into darkness, Mir Murtaza Bhutto, aged 42, was riddled with the bullets of this ferocious state. He was assassinated along with six of his comrades in front of his house, 70 Clifton, Karachi — the most renowned political address in Pakistan. At the time, ironically, his sister was the prime minister and the chief executive of the country. Innumerable conspiracy theories and accusations have been doing the rounds since. Yet none of the culprits have been apprehended or indicted and those personnel of the state forces who were named and arrested have gone scot-free. Murtaza had led a turbulent and challenging life. After his father Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was deposed and later assassinated on the gallows in April 1979 by General Ziaul Haq, a wily Islamist stooge of imperialism, manipulating Islam to perpetuate his tyrannical despotism, Murtaza’s life was shattered. This one traumatic event plunged him into a tumultuous political struggle. All his efforts to mobilise support to save his father’s life, appealing to heads of state, much-touted international organisations and political figures failed. Supported by US imperialism, the cowardly ‘pious’ general had no mercy. The US and Zia at the time were manipulating Islam to perpetuate his tyrannical despotism serving imperialist interests. To avenge his father’s harrowing murder and advance the mission of revolutionary socialism etched in the origins of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), founded in 1967, Murtaza chose the arduous path of armed struggle. However, in spite of several attempts, his organisation, Al-Zulfiqar failed to eliminate the brutal dictator and dislodge his despotic regime. Paradoxically, the devious and cynical experts of the regime used these violent individual acts to exacerbate their brutal repression of the youth and workers in Pakistan. During the hijacking of a PIA plane in 1981 in which more than 200 political activists were freed from Zia’s notorious torture cells and incarceration, a military captain was killed. This was also a period when a mass revolt was simmering in society against Zia’s regime. The vicious dictatorship used this pretext to carry out some of the most brutal atrocities to crush the rising revolt. In 1983, the Zia regime carried out a massacre of workers, peasants and youth who had come out to defy the repression of the state. In Sindh alone, 1,063 people were killed by military gunship helicopters and the sheer brutality of the army. However, like so many other guerrilla organisations of armed struggle, Al-Zulfiqar also began to wither as successes were rare and state repression was mounting. Intrigues and betrayals were inevitable in such stagnation. But Murtaza never wavered, although through the experience of armed struggle, he had come to the conclusion that to succeed, a mass mobilisation and class struggle were decisive. The row between US imperialism and Ziaul Haq resulted in the latter’s elimination in an air crash, while another mass upheaval on Benazir Bhutto’s return in 1986 had already sent tremors through the echelons of power. The imperialists, in connivance with the strategists of the comprador elite, conveniently switched from a brutal military dictatorship to a paralytic democratic setup based on the same economic, social and political strategy. Benazir was brought into power sharing after scrupulous preparations and assurances for the continuation of the status quo. Murtaza was revolted that a party founded to change the destiny of the oppressed was now being inducted into the mechanism to perpetuate bourgeois exploitation, the rule of the rich and powerful. The PPP’s anti imperialist stance was turned into its opposite. Appeasement of foreign and domestic capital became the core policy of the new PPP regime. He vowed to return and overturn this degenerative trend. It was a daring step to take as being a sworn enemy of a vicious state, he was putting everything at stake. On his return, he was arrested and incarcerated, and this was during the tenure of his own sister. Media melodramatics and personal spite apart, it was the same old Zia’s state calling the shots. Eleanor Roosevelt had once remarked, “I always forgive but never forget”, but the reactionary bourgeois state neither forgives nor forgets someone who had taken up arms against it. Events were manufactured, family feuds stirred up, and events were engineered in such a manner that Murtaza was refused a party ticket by the PPP. Although he won a provincial seat in Sindh as an independent candidate, his umbilical relationship with the PPP had not severed. He was putting forward a bold revolutionary programme, mobilising the masses and trying to reorganise the PPP as a party of the working class. During his exile, he had read Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and other revolutionary teachers. During a meeting with activists, he once used Trotsky’s lengthy quotation from the Brest-Litovsk talks of 1918 to substantiate his arguments. Murtaza was prepared to accept arguments on various ideological issues even after intense debates. However, his rapid predilection to the left and rising popularity in the party’s mass base was alarming for sections of the state. He brushed aside provocations without being subdued and maintained his stance with dignity and valour. But the critical mistake was that he was coaxed to declare a separate party from the traditional setup led by his sister Benazir by some devious political leaders masquerading as Bhutto loyalists. There was not one activity that he could not have done in the mainstream party. By building a Marxist cadre network, he could have carved out a revolutionary wing that could lead the struggle to achieve the party’s socialist ideals. The split isolated him, but he was still a threat to the capitalist political superstructure and the socio-economic system. Hence, sections of the state struck with a bloody vengeance. Lenin remarked long ago, “Only fools don’t make mistakes.” Murtaza had his shortcomings but his charisma and honesty were beyond dispute. He admonished the lust for wealth, power and office. His courage and determination were implacable. Trotsky once wrote, “No struggle ever goes in vain.” Murtaza fought for the founding principles and the genuine mass traditions of the PPP. His struggle and blood are a challenge for the youth that orientate towards the party and those who aspire to change this system. It is the historical task of this generation to ensure the redemption of the unfinished revolutionary transformation he strove and died for.