Stories from Quick Reads and Pakistan
Facing persecution in Pakistan, many Ahmadiyya Muslims and Christians have taken refuge in Sri Lanka. These refugees are mostly held in Boossa and Mirihana detention centers and have to live on government-provided rations as they are not eligible for work.
According to the media, the Sri Lankan government is preparing to deport about 1,450 Pakistani and 50 Afghan refugees who have apparently fled to rural areas in Sri Lanka. More than 1,400 of the targeted refugees have been registered as asylum seekers at the UN refugee agency office in Colombo.
Human Rights Watch has requested the Sri Lankan government not to summarily deport these minorities. Meanwhile, Pakistan has disowned these refugees and an uncertain future awaits for them if they are deported.
W3Lanka English blog opines:
The practice of deporting them is very unethical. They can be economic migrants per se the claim of the Pakistan government. What if they are actually threatened people?
On June 15, 2014, the Pakistan Army launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb, a joint-military operation involving Pakistan against armed insurgent groups such as the Taliban (TTP), al–Qaeda, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).
The operation started exactly a week after the terrorist attack on the Karachi airport. Kashif Aziz at Chowrangi fears that innocent people will suffer and seek refuge elsewhere to avoid the military attacks and the backlash of the militants:
This offensive in Waziristan will bring a fresh wave of IDPs [internally displaced people] to other parts of Pakistan. They need to be accommodated with care.
Hope the operation will end swiftly and without much collateral damage.
Chowrangi blog informs about a free interactive mobile app which introduces kids to Urdu alphabets and words. The app titled “Urdu Ustad” originally had the diaspora Urdu-speaking families as its target audience, but recently majority of download requests have come from Pakistan proving its usefulness.
Notable Pakistani, columnist, TV anchor and blogger (also a Global Voices author) Raza Rumi was attacked by unidentified gunmen near Raja market on Ferozpur road in Lahore, Pakistan. At 8:55PM tonight he tweeted:
Was fired at near Raja Market. My driver is wounded. I was dreading this day
— Raza Rumi (@Razarumi) March 28, 2014
According to reports, Rumi escaped with a minor injury after unknown gunmen opened fire at his car and he managed to take the injured guard and driver to the hospital. His driver succumbed to his injuries and the guard is fighting for his life.
Netizens’ reactions are pouring in:
Strongly condemn attack on journalist,TV anchor @Razarumi a bold and courageous voice against bigotry and intolerance.
— Nafisa Shah (@ShahNafisa) March 28, 2014
liberal journalist Raza Rumi who opposes blasphemy law is shot at in Lahore, survives attack but his driver is killed http://t.co/Ig6i6CKaLE
— Ex-Muslims Forum (@CEMB_forum) March 28, 2014
Shocked & saddened by attack on Raza Rumi & death of his driver. Govt must provide proper security & bring killers 2 justice.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 28, 2014
The attack on Raza Rumi is an attack on freedom of expression and democracy. Policy of appeasement has emboldened the terrorist.
— zahid Hussain (@hidhussain) March 28, 2014
A day after a tiny news items titled, “Saudi Arabia ‘seeking Pakistani arms for Syrian rebels” appeared in Pakistani newspapers, political blogger Ahsan Butt posts a provocative piece warning Pakistan's foreign policymakers against tiptoeing into Syria's affairs.
In “This is not our war (Syria Edition)” on the Five Rupees Blog, Ahsan writes:
What Pakistan is doing vis-a-vis Syria is one of the dumbest things Pakistan has done in a long time, and that’s really saying something. The Syrian civil war, tragic as it is, has nothing to do with Pakistan. Pakistan has no interests in that conflict. None.
Saudi Arabia is in talks with Pakistan to provide Pakistan-made anti-aircraft and anti-tank rockets. Ahsan warns:
Is it wise and advisable to wade into a sectarian civil war two thousand miles away?[...]
Just examine the trajectory of sectarian violence over the last decade.
He explains that any interference in Syria will force the Pakistani state to pay attention to rising sectarian violence in the country:
What are the possible ramifications for such a policy on sectarian violence in Pakistan? Is it likely to exacerbate and make more deadly sectarian cleavages or the opposite?
Ahsan lists four more provocative questions which you can read here.
From a slow start in the late Nineteen Nineties mobile phone penetration in Pakistan has jumped up in recent years to 77% nationally and amongst urban class people to almost 100%. Dr. Tahir Rauf at Pak Tea House reports that the ubiquitous mobile phone use in Pakistan has brought a lot of social and economic changes:
These changes in a broader context called Pakistani neoliberalism, characterized by accelerated consumerism with full scale participation in the global economy.
Aamir Atta at ProPakistani reports quoting local media houses that social media applications like WhatsApp, Viber and Skype may be blocked in Pakistan's Sindh province to maintain law and order. The Sindh government had proposed a similar ban in October last year, citing security concerns.
However, experts say because a majority of IP addresses in Pakistan aren't city-specific or province-specific, so a blockade of social media content is not likely possible.
You can imagine the irony when talk show hosts take over primetime news broadcasts and become more relevant to the pursuit of “facts” than their colleagues in the newsroom or out in the field.
“Talk show hosts and TV anchors are the stars of the media revolution” as per Hassan Belal Zaidi, who posts a satirical review of the new phenomenon in Pakistan.
The first meetup of the Lahore Brigade members took place on Sunday, 23 February, in Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). The brigade consists of civic hackers – software developers, designers, urban mappers who will be working to solve civic problems in Pakistan. Code for Pakistan and Technology for People Initiative partnered to launch the Lahore Brigade.
Code For Pakistan blog reports:
All the attendees introduced themselves and also proposed potential solutions to civic problems, pertaining to the areas of health, transportation, education, and governance. Some of the participants expressed interest in some of the projects that had been created at the Lahore Civic Hackathon. The ideas were all captured, followed by a rigorous discussion of them. A couple of Brigade Project Mentors were also present and they, like everyone else, expressed their interest in certain ideas. 6 promising project ideas or areas were agreed upon by the group.
One of the Taliban negotiators pulled out during a recent talk with the Pakistan government demanding that the agenda includes the strict imposition of Sharia law. Pakistani Blogger and Journalist Beena Sarwar highlights a protest note posted in Facebook titled '10 reasons why I do not want Shariah in Pakistan’ by communities The Traitors of Pakistan (Liberal/Secular Pakistanis against oppression, discrimination, extremism and intolerance) and Pakistan Votes (activist community). Here are some gems:
1. Religion and how I choose to practice it is my business and not that of the State.
2. Enforcing Shariah will not make me a better Muslim nor will it make Pakistan a welfare state. The world’s welfare states are all governed by secular governments.
3. I reject the idea that Shariah in any form can be enforced by those who have raped and plundered my country, blown up schools and mosques and beheaded soldiers. I will not give these criminals the right to dictate to me.
4. I will not give up my civil rights, including freedom of thought and expression, under the guise of Shariah.