Monthly Archives: November 2010

December Palestine fundraiser in London

 

Palestine fundraising event 9 December 2010

 

The Mazdoor Kissan Party has the pleasure to inform everyone that our friend barrister Mary Nazzal-Batayneh is holding a fundraising event for the Palestine Legal Aid Fund (PLAF).

Prominent legal practitioners at the English Bar such as MICHAEL MANSFIELD QC and MICHEL MASSIH QC will be showing their solidarity with the cause of the Palestinian people against Israeli atrocity and war crimes.

The PLAF is inspired by the success of a similar fund during the South African anti-apartheid movement, our supporters are at the forefront of a new legal movement. All proceeds support an unprecedented legal aid fund to defend Palestinian rights through unique legal challenges about war crimes, home demolitions, settlements, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

Please click on the picture to book online or here to access the PLAF’s website.

The event will cost £50. It will be hosted at:

Old Finsbury Town Hall
Rosebury Avenue
London EC1R 4RP
Thursday, December 9th, 2010.
Doors open 7.30pm.

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Condition of widows in Pakistan

Dr Masuma Hasan

Being a widow is not a stigma in Pakistan either in religion or under the law. Marriage in Islam, which is the religion followed by the majority of the population, is not considered as sacrosanct. It is viewed as a civil contract between two individuals which can be dissolved. Thus the extreme sanctity attached to marriage in certain other religions does not operate to turn a widow into an outcast or be held responsible for her husband’s death. Traditionally, widows have been encouraged to re-marry and marriage to a widow has always been considered as an honourable act.

According to the latest Census (1998), in a population of 132.4 million, there were 2.7 million widows in the female population of 69 million. The largest number, 442,179, were found in the age bracket 75 years and above, followed by 416,773 in ages 60 to 64 years, and 326,176 between 50 to 54 years. However, Pakistan’s population in 2010 is estimated at over 170 million so the number of     widows has also increased.

Supportive influences

The law of the land, as embodied in the Constitution of 1973, and all previous constitutions, does not discriminate between the rights of women and men. The Constitution guarantees equal rights to both and rules out discrimination on the basis of sex. It empowers the State to make special laws for the protection of women and children and take steps to ensure the full participation of women in all spheres of national life and protect the marriage, the family, the mother and the child.

A widow inherits one-fourth of her husband’s property if she has no children, and one-eighth of his property if she has children. The Government has made humane provisions for the widows of its employees. After the death of a Government employee, his widow receives the family pension until her own death. Widows of lower paid employees also receive a one-time grant for rehabilitation from the official Benevolent Fund. In the private sector, which works for profit, there are no universal rules governing support for widows of deceased employees, but given the culture of philanthropy, some short-term provision is probably made. Continue reading

In memoriam: Fatehyab Ali Khan 1936-2010

Fatehyab Ali Khan speaking in 1962

Fatehyab Ali Khan, Chairman of the Council of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs from 1995 to 2009, passed away on 26 September 2010. He was a legendary figure in the public and national life of Pakistan. A visionary in politics, his struggle for democracy, fundamental freedoms, justice in society and the rule of law forms a glowing chapter in the history of our country. His support for the cause of the oppressed and under-privileged will long be remembered.

Fatehyab’s family migrated from Hyderabad Deccan to Pakistan after the Partition and settled in Shikarpur and Karachi. His bold stand against injustices in the local education system made him prominent at a very early age. Gifted with unusual organizing skills, persuasiveness and charm, he joined the National Students Federation and soon assumed leadership roles in the student community. He was elected as Vice President of Islamia College Students’ Union (at that time the president used to be an official), President of Karachi University Students’ Union and Chairman of the Inter-Collegiate Body. He was a brilliant debater. Continue reading

Aurat Foundation’s response to the floods

(By Dr Masuma Hasan, Chairman, Pakistan Institute of International Affairs)

The Indus River floods almost every year. After the flood recedes, the people living along its banks repair their homes and shops and pick up the threads of life again. In some years, the flooding is acute and the government, civil society and other donors mobilise to bring relief to those left homeless and destitute.

Dr Masuma Hasan

This year, the floods have been described by some, as the worst natural disaster in the history of mankind. Devastation? Tragedy? Calamity? None of these words truly describe the magnitude of what has struck disaster-prone Pakistan. As if terrorism and the war against it had not caused misery and displacement enough. It is estimated that 20 million people have been affected by the monsoon rains and the Indus flood which has broken dykes and embankments and submerged millions of acres of land. Hundreds of towns, villages and hamlets have been evacuated. People are on the move, desperately seeking a patch of dry ground and the means of survival.

The impact of this disaster will be felt for generations to come. The gains Pakistan’s economy, infrastructure, industry, health and education sectors had made have been washed away by the angry Indus. Heritage sites have been destroyed. Sludge covers the land, many feet deep. Crops, livestock and fodder have been lost, public and private records of governance, education, businesses and landownership have drowned. Stocks of grain and rice have been swept away. Who will sow the next crop? Epidemics and disease threaten our land. Continue reading

Congratulations to Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma

Prior to the Government of India Act 1935 British imperialists had ruled Burma as a part of India. Through the 1935 Act Burma was formally separated from “British” India and it failed to develop as a democratic state. The country gained independence from Britain on 4 January 1948 but it suffered a coup d’état on 2 March 1962 and the junta has ruled ever since. Continue reading

Blasphemy and the rule of law: Asia Bibi’s case

History

A barrister by trade Mr Jinnah shared with the profession its militant passion for espousing very precisely advocated arguments and it is not by chance that six decades after his death we can still hear his principles echo. In his first speech to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan Mr Jinnah provided his people with clues for future action. He described the evils which threatened Pakistan’s interests and suggested remedies which would aid its inhabitants in achieving the secular dream that he had dreamt for the newborn state.

Mr Jinnah

In his first address to the Constituent Assembly Mr Jinnah very famously declared that in Pakistan there could be “no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another”. He also reassured Pakistan’s citizens by his declaration that:

“You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”

Clearly Mr Jinnah’s Pakistan was very much about an impartial state which did not treat its minorities poorly and one which did not persecute them.

In his speech Mr Jinnah also reiterated his fears for the future. Pakistan, argued Mr Jinnah, would have to fight diseases such as “bribery, corruption, jobbery, nepotism and black marketing” and in order to win against such evils the post-colonial state would have to grant all its citizens equality and constitutional “human” rights.

Equally, even the later Objectives Resolution (considered to be the touchstone of the “Islamic” influence on Pakistan’s constitution) – which was passed in March 1949 under the aegis of Nawabzada Liaqat Ali Khan – clearly made provisions for the protection of the rights of minorities. Keeping with Mr Jinnah Nawabzada envisaged a nation: Continue reading

Land and the politics of ethnicity

Politically motivated targeted killings, sectarian violence, forced occupation of other people’s property, illegal bulldozing of poor settlements, an increasing crime rate and an increasingly helpless and corrupt administration, are making Karachi ungovernable. There are many local, national and international causes for this state of affairs. However, a major cause is the politics of ethnicity and the close link it has unwittingly acquired with the trillions that can be made from the land and real estate business.

According to the 1998 Census, 48 per cent of the city’s population is Urdu speaking, 14 per cent is Punjabi speaking, 12 per cent is Pashto speaking and about 9 per cent is Sindhi speaking. The rest of the population speaks all the remaining languages of Pakistan. Continue reading

Khairpur Nathan Shah

By Arif Hasan (published in Dawn on 28 October 2010)

Muhammad Iqbal Memon, DCO Dadu invited me to visit Khairpur Nathan Shah to “advise” him on its “rehabilitation”. In the briefing held in Dadu on 10 October 2010, and attended by Imran Zafar Laghari (the MPA of the area) and Sikandar Panhwar (the TMO) , we learnt that the town had over 15,000 plus homes and shops, its water came from tube wells seven kilometres away as the local subsoil water was brackish, and that the sewage system consisted of open drains (as in the rest of the small towns of Sindh) and disposed into cesspools or pumped untreated into the saim nali through three disposal points. The absence of an underground sewage system is a major cause of disease and environmental pollution. The town is divided into thirteen community based paras or neighbourhoods. It has functioning educational and health institutions including degree colleges for both girls and boys. Continue reading

Floods and after

By Arif Hasan (Published in Dawn on 27 August 2010)

For a sustainable reconstruction of the physical and social infrastructure of flood ravaged Sindh, it is necessary to understand to what extent the damage caused by the flood is man-made. Some of the broad indicators are obvious.

Arif Hasan

Due to the construction of barrages and hundreds of kilometres of flood protection embankments the flood plains of the Indus have been considerably reduced. They can no longer cater to exceptionally high floods. As such, these flood waters are carried away by canals to considerable distances away from the flood plains. The canals in turn flood the colonised areas. An important question is whether the water carrying capacity of the flood plains can be increased and whether engineering works can reduce pressure on the canals in case of high floods? Preliminary discussions with engineers suggest that this is feasible.

Not only have the flood plains shrunk but shrub-lands and forests in them have been destroyed to make way for agriculture. This has increased the scale of flooding and the velocity of water. It has also made embankments more susceptible to erosion and collapse. In addition, settlements, some permanent and other semi-permanent, have developed in the flood plains, adding considerably to the vulnerable population. Continue reading

Human rights in Pakistan: what’s next?

To say the very least the Pakistani “human rights” lobby is comprehensively impotent in changing the diminishing fortunes of Pakistan’s poor and repressed people. Thus far, since their inception, the “fundamental rights” enumerated in Articles 9-28 of Pakistan’s 1973 Constitution have not been granted to the people. In fact military dictators and their civilian acolytes have done all that they could to murder democracy in its nascency in Pakistan. The crime, of course, has not gone unnoticed and in one instance  it has been exposed by Allen McGrath in his most excellent book The Destruction of Democracy in Pakistan in which he unequivocally holds Munir CJ as being the foremost accomplice of the Army’s designs in conclusively ousting the civilian leadership from running the country forever. Continue reading

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