Category Archives: Geneva Conventions

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

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Imperialism and the Settler State

Bin the Israeli war machine

Today Palestine lies at the heart of the global misunderstanding which was once fashionably called the “war on terror”. The problem, however, is more dated than that. History, through the Balfour Declaration in 1917, testifies to the fact that the Palestinians – the majority inhabitants of the land of Palestine – were relegated to marginality by Britain’s insistence on “the establishment in Palestine of a national homeland for the Jewish people.” Moreover, by way of his infamous letter of 2 November 1917 to Walter Rothschild, the British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour also reduced the indigenous majority Arab inhabitants to be the “existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine” whose rights would be protected by His Majesty’s Government. Yet His Majesty’s Government failed to honour its pledge.

The sole purpose of the present writing is to express solidarity with the people of Palestine. The historical subject matter, however, is so complex that it is not an easy task to write anything on the issue at all. For the sake of simplicity, since Pakistan does not recognise Israel, we will make things simple for ourselves by excluding Palestinian bashing (that they are Muslim Arab terrorists) from our analysis. In fact our objective is to repudiate the depiction and caricature of the Arabs as a “terrorists”, a label which has lastingly been stuck on them by a mixture of historical events, poor leadership, and propaganda. We will seek dispel this myth and argue the point from the Arab point-of-view. In any event, apart from killing innocent people, the Israeli state is apt at defending its criminal behaviour by employing the Harvard and Yale gurus and pundits which it uses to disguise its murderous actions. So we can let it be their lot to do this dirty work themselves. But one thing is certain, no matter how demonic an image of the Arab the Israelis and Americans manage to conjure up, they will never be able to wash clean the blood which Israel has spilt to support its six decade long existence. Expressions such as Dier Yassin, Sabra, Chatilla, Qana, and Operation Cast Lead etc are not just household expressions for Israeli atrocities in the Occupied Territories, they also globally used metaphors for murder, loot, and destruction. The characteristic which connects these horrific events is that they were Israeli crimes against humanity whose perpetrators should be brought to justice. Continue reading

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