Islamabad—Yvonne Ridley, British Muslim journalist, Thursday slammed the United States for illegally detaining people in Afghanistan and dumping 150 Pakistani children in orphanages.
Afghanistan’s Taliban had picked up Ridley along with her two guides close to the eastern city of Jalalabad in October 2001.
She had been working for Britain’s Sunday Express newspaper when arrested by the Taliban and she later converted to Islamabad.
Yvonne Ridley compared her detention by Taliban with the American detention centres in Afghanistan and said Taliban had respected her privacy but the American troops had forced Pakistani Dr Afia Siddiqi to use male toilet at Bagram air base, north of Kabul.
Speaking at a press conference in Islamabad the British human rights activist said that the American forces are holding two Pakistani women in Bagram and they have now been moved to undisclosed location after she raised the issue two months ago.
Yvonne Ridley said that four or five women, including Arab and Asians, are also detained at Bagram in dark prison.
She said that 150 Pakistani children are also dumped in orphanages across Afghanistan, adding these children wonder what happened to their parents. “It is a matter of humanity. We need to find the missing persons in Afghanistan as they would never come to light if we ignore them,” she said.—NNI
Another sad news for our nation , on Wednesday a 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit the Pakistani province of Baluchistan in the areas around Ziarat.
Reports say that the death toll has risen to 236 and thousands have become homeless. Nation has not yet overcome the shock and devastation of the 2005 earthquake in Northern Pakistan and now new test has come for the people and the government.
May Allah help us in overcoming the difficulties our nation is facing.
Balochistan quake death toll rises to 236(The News)
QUETTA: The death toll in an earthquake hit Ziarat division of Balochistan has risen to 236 whereas 391 people were injured. The toll is expected to climb further
Balochistan police sources said that Ziarat, Khawas, Varshoom are the worst affected areas where more than 300 houses have been destroyed completely and recovery of bodies and injured from the rubble is still underway.
Meanwhile, series of aftershocks continue in Ziarat. Metrological office predicted cloudy weather in quake-hit areas of Balochistan.
DG Met office Qamaruzzaman Chaudhry said rains are not expected in these areas, however, cold will be increased.
He told Geo News that last night temperature was ranged between –1 to –4 C. About aftershocks, DG said so far 44 aftershocks have been recorded and it still continues.
Ali Ahmed Kurd, an active and one of the most enthusiastic leader of the lawyers and civil society movement for the restoration and indepemdence of judiciary in Pakistan has won the SCBA elections despite the government’s interference and rigging.
Ali Ahmed Kurd’s election as president and the defeat of PPP candidate is taken as a victory of CJP Iftikhar’s Camp over the camp of Zardari/Mush supporters.
Congratulations to Kurd and the supporters of the movement.
Keep up the good work.
|Kurd elected as SCBA President (APP)|
ISLAMABAD, Oct 28 (APP): Ali Ahmed Kurd on Tuesday won election for the seat of President of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) held simultaneously in the four provincial capitals, besides Islamabad, Multan, Bahawalpur and Abbottabad.
According to unofficial results, Ali Ahmed Kurd secured 930 votes from Lahore, Peshawar, Islamabad, Karachi and Quetta while his rival M. Zafar got 419 votes.
Kurd secured 542 votes from Lahore, 62 from Peshawar, 144 from Islamabad, 138 from Karachi and 44 from Quetta. M. Zafar got 220, 37, 69, 75 and 18 votes from Lahore, Peshawar, Islambad, Karachi and Quetta respectively.
Results from Multan, Bahawalpur and Abbottabad are yet to be announced. A total of 1,724 registered members of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) were to elect new office bearers of the lawyers’ body.
Don’t Blame the Victim
On March 30, 2003, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui disappeared from Karachi along with her three minor children. Media reported that she had been taken by the US authorities with compliance of Pakistani authorities since the FBI had wanted to seek some information from her. In the face of general outcry, the US and Pakistani authorities quickly backtracked but then a year later Pakistani Foreign Office admitted publicly that Aafia had been handed over to the US.1
She became a concern for human rights organizations including Amnesty International who kept the case alive for five years. On July 6, 2008, political party Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf presented a British journalist in Islamabad who said there was reason to believe that Aafia was the “Prisoner 650″ at Bagram (Afghanistan) and had undergone brutal rape and torture for five years. Outcry reaches a high water mark and urgent appeals were sent by Asian Human Rights Commission on July 22, to President George Bush and other persons of authority.
On August 4, the US authorities officially admitted of having Aafia in their custody but the US Department of Justice brought forth a charge sheet against her, claiming that she was arrested on July 17 (and not before) while loitering around near the residence of Ghazni’s Governor. They alleged that papers found in her handbag included instructions on making bombs and notes about installations in US.
They explained her wounds by saying that a day after her arrest she took an M4 rife which belonged to US military personnel and fired two rounds at close range, which missed, and she had to be shot in the torso.
On August 16, the US envoy to Pakistan made a public statement saying that the US had no “definitive knowledge” of the whereabouts of Aafia’s children but only a few days later the Afghan authorities revealed that an 11-year-old boy had also been “arrested” with Aafia and this boy was then repatriated to be received by Aafia’s family as her eldest son.
The story narrated about this alleged episode is not plausible, and contradictions self-evident. Yet Aafia has been suffering pain and humiliation in US prison for more than two months now. There are fears that she is now being brainwashed in order to render her incapable of giving evidence against any atrocities that might have been committed against her.
Three anomalies in the trial
Basically: (a) victim has become the accused; (b) allegations are not being addressed in proper order; and (c) allegations against US authorities by human rights groups and concerned citizens are going un-addressed.
Victim has become the accused
Those who say that they hope to get justice from US legal system in this case are overlooking the fact that the trial is not being held to provide justice to Aafia. It is being held against her.2
Allegations not addressed in proper order
The case involves three allegations, not one. These need to be addressed in the order in which they appeared:
1. The FBI’s declaration that it needed Dr. Aafia Siddiqui for interrogation (2003)
2. Allegations allegation raised by human rights organizations and Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf that Aafia Siddiqui was being illegally detained, raped and tortured by US authorities (with possible compliance of Pakistani authorities) for five years, and that her three minor children were in illegal detention. July 6, 2008 is the high water mark for this allegation.
3. Allegation raised by US authorities against Dr. Aafia Siddiqui that she tried to assassinate US army personnel on July 18, 2008. This allegation was brought forth on August 4, 2008.
The first of these has not been legally pursued by authorities even after they admitted having custody of Aafia. Hence it may be considered as dropped.
The second allegation, which is against US authorities, has never been answered seriously except for a flat rebuttal in inappropriate and condescending tone (consider the US envoy’s open letter of August 16).
Now the third allegation is being addressed in a court of law without addressing the second.3 This leads to great confusion. The victim has been given into the custody of the party accused of committing offenses against her, and mandate is given to them to further curtail her liberties as a “high security risk”.
Let’s understand: it’s not as if US Government said that it would rather like to keep Aafia in a rehabilitation center in America for treatment of torments suffered by her during five-year-long illegal detention. The victim is now in custody of the party accused of committing the following atrocities against her:
1. Abduction and illegal detention of the victim
2. Abduction and illegal detention of the victim’s minor children
3. Attempt of coercing the victim to sign false evidence
4. Threatening the victim with murder of her children
5. Sexual abuse, rape and torture
6. Attempted brainwashing
7. Possibly, murder of two of the victim’s minor children
The first step should have been to ensure that the party accused of committing these offenses didn’t have any further access to her with malevolent intent. The opposite has happened.
Aafia’s transfer from military to civil authorities doesn’t ensure that her abusers have lost influence: responding to journalists’ question about why they didn’t seek bail for Aafia, her lawyer answered, “There’s more in this case than meets the eye.”
What’s going wrong now
Following incidents which can be seen as injustice or malpractice have occurred after August 6, when Aafia was first presented in New York:
1. Victim was remanded on implausible charges4
2. Bail was not even sought by her lawyers5
3. US envoy gave a questionable statement about victim’s children6
4. It’s possible that the victim’s eldest son was brainwashed before being handed over by Afghan authorities7
5. Motion to establish the victim as mentally unfit to stand trial, if accepted, will disqualify her from giving evidence later against her abusers
6. At Carswell, the victim can be at risk of being brainwashed or rendered incapable of providing evidence
Two children of the victim are still missing. If they are still alive then it is possible that they are being used as hostages to pressurize her. Allegations of her illegal detention, rape, etc, and the abduction of her children, is going unaddressed.
Can she get justice from US legal system?
That question will arise only after a case is brought up to seek justice for her. The current trial has been registered against the victim and not against her abusers.
Unfounded speculation is bad but some speculation is required for arriving anywhere in legal matters. Here we are forced to choose between two options: either the story about Aafia’s alleged arrest and shooting as told by the DOJ is true, or it is false.
The story is not likely to be true. Consider this passage from rejoinder to US envoy’s letter by Kamran Shafi, journalist and former trainer in small arms:
By the way Excellency, if you care to notice, Aafia Siddiqui is about your build and dimensions. May I suggest you get one of your Marines at the embassy to bring you a US army-issue M4 rifle. Now ask him to clear the chamber, affix the magazine, put the rifle on ‘safe’, and place it on the ground which would be the exact position in which Aafia Siddiqui found hers and with which she is alleged to have fired upon the US officer. You may very well fail to even cock it in 10 seconds, let alone find the safety catch, lift the rifle to your shoulder and fire it.8
It seems as if the US authorities knew that this story won’t stand a test in the court and their real strategy was to buy time for declaring Aafia mentally unfit or perhaps even to induce mental disorder while in custody.
Such speculation sounds harsh but once the DOJ story is rejected there is no way we can pass over it as an “honest mistake”. If the story is false then obviously we are dealing with an unusually ugly and disturbing cover-up of enormous dimensions.
We must not forget the three other victims in this case: Aafia’s minor children. The first is Ahmad Siddiqui, 11-year-old, and the anomalies in his case raise suspicions of a three-step approach to cover up brainwashing in captivity.9 First, deny having any “definitive knowledge” of the captive’s whereabouts. Second, admit that he was in detention even at the time of those denials. Third, send him home in mentally unstable state where he cannot recall details about captivity. There is a stark analogy between his fate and the contradictory reports now coming out about her mother: is she at step 2 now, undergoing brainwashing?
By the authorities’ own admission Ahmad’s detention at least from July 17 to August 22 was irregular: it was covered up despite urgent appeals from around the world.
The second victim is Aafia’s daughter Mariam, 10 years old (5 at the time of her disappearance), and the third is the youngest son Salman, 5 years old (six months at the time of his disappearance). Authorities deny having “definitive knowledge” of his whereabouts too.
It may be remembered that capture of minor children and infants for pressurizing their parents was described by Pakistan’s former president Pervez Muharraf as fair tactic while participating in American War Against Terror.10
What needs to be done
We need to be absolutely clear that the real issue here is the second set of allegations in which Aafia is victim, not accused.
By remaining silent on that issue now, the whole world is allowing a victim to become accused. Since this has already become one of the most famous trials of the new century, a bad precedent in this matter is likely to affect the future of human rights for very long time and almost everywhere in the world. Time is of essence here, because it seems as if evidence is being destroyed very fast.
The following steps may need to be taken without losing any further time:
1. Human rights groups in US should file petition in a US court to the effect that Aafia’s trial is unfair and should be dismissed. It needs to be dismissed immediately, and in any case latest by November 7, i.e. forty days before the date which has been set for hearing whether or not Aafia is mentally fit to stand trial: there is reason to suspect that some foul play is going on which is likely to accomplish its ends by that date and evidence related to actual culprits will have been destroyed, possibly including memory of the victim herself.
2. Separately, a complaint should be lodged against culprits who victimized Aafia earlier, and a plea should be made for the recovery of her two missing children.
3. All peaceful and healthy means should be used for educating people in as many countries as possible about the AAFIA issue – especially the message that a victim should not be victimized and the meaning of justice should not be distorted.11
4. Concerned citizens of the world need to explore whether there is a proper channel for taking up this issue beyond slogans, protests and demonstrations. If no such channel exists then it needs to be created.
5. If any rights group decides to make a separate committee for pursuing this case, then that committee should also look into the wider implications and related issues, and hence “AAFIA” might be a good acronym for “Affirmative Action for the Freedom and Independence of All” (Aafia literally means comprehensive safety). Fresh grounds need to be broken for safeguarding human rights in these new times.
United Nations was a giant step towards peace, but what about “united humanity”? We need to alter certain perceptions now and we need to set new precedents.
Consequences for everyone
Terrorism is a serious threat which should not be trivialized the way it has been through the victimization of Aafia Siddiqui and her minor children. Genuine efforts being made against terrorism will also earn a bad name, if not fall flat on their face, if moral superiority is lost – and it will be lost if injustice in the case of Aafia Siddiqui completes its course.
The case is so complex, and its details so gruesome, that many still may not have realized what the possible outcome of her mistreatment might turn out to be. The analysis offered here may not be how everyone is seeing things now but it is likely to be how these things will be seen in times to come, as the truth gradually seeps into people’s conscience.
Then a great setback for human rights may be suffered because in our times such rights rest on the premise that people are entities who should be respected, their humanity cannot be usurped by any government and a person cannot be objectified before the mystique of state. Losing this one case of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui can mean losing the very premise of human rights, and losing it in bright limelight.12
It is not just about Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, but rather ironically, it is also about what her first name means literally in her native language: comprehensive safety. She is a highly educated woman who made it to the upper strata of middle class in two societies – Pakistan and US. What happened to her can happen to anyone, and it may happen more easily in future if bad precedent is set now.
For America, it is a moment of truth. The international community has been hearing so much about the “deposed” Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Chaudhry, who used to take suo moto action on such cases, forcing his government and its much-dread intelligence agencies to become answerable to the court. For that he risked his job, personal freedom and the future of his children. Global observers are likely to notice that no judge in US seems to be as willing to take suo moto action in this case as Justice Chaudhry of Pakistan would have been even if such thing had been found in his jurisdiction. Tables are turning: at the going rate it might not be very long before US finds itself lagging behind developing countries in matters of awareness about human rights among the masses. For its own good, US ought to revise its take on this case.
1 Her children were not mentioned by FO, but President Musharraf later dropped hint in his autobiography that “arresting” minors and even infant children of accused was part of tactics being used in the US War Against Terror.
2 In the case of rape, the term “victim” is applied to the aggrieved party even before her case is proven true in a court.
3 I am presuming that the first allegation has already been dropped by the party which raised it, so we need not address it anymore. In all fairness, we should be open to give it due importance, with proper attention to the whole context, in case the first party (i.e. the FBI) chooses to bring it back in the future.
4 Charge sheet against Aafia was implausible and inaccuracies could have been exposed through a simple simulation/demonstration. Yet the American judge gave remand of her person instead of sending her to a hospital as she deserved in view of her condition (she was still bleeding from bullet wounds)
5 Why should seeking bail be so difficult in a case where the accusation doesn’t pass the test of common sense, let alone legal proceeding? More importantly, why was bail not even sought?
6 On August 16, the US envoy to Pakistan stated publicly that the US authorities have no definitive knowledge of the whereabouts of Aafia’s children. About ten days later the Afghan authorities stated that they had also “arrested” a boy along with Aafia. One could smell a rat here: a person of such prominence as US envoy is unlikely to risk a misleading statement unless the stakes are really high.
7 Aafia’s son, finally repatriated by Afghan authorities, cannot recall much and is having nightmares. Did the authorities deny knowledge of his whereabouts initially because at that time they were brainwashing him and were still unsure that it would work?
8 Published in Dawn (Karachi) on October 14. Earlier on September 10, Joane Mariner, an attorney with Human Rights Watch in New York wrote in Counterpunch, “If you trust the US story, you have to imagine that… more than the al Qaeda mom, as the New York Post dubs her, she would have to be al Qaeda’s Angelina Jolie.”
9 The word “definitive knowledge” in US envoy’s statement leaves an uncomfortable impression of preparing for a future moment when it may turn out to be otherwise and then it could be said that the knowledge which the US authorities had in this matter was not “definitive” but of some other sort (The statement said, “The United States has no definitive knowledge as to the whereabouts of Ms Siddiqui’s children”). Was Ahmad being subjected to brainwashing so that his detention could not be revealed till making sure that the process had been successful?
10 In the Line of Fire: A Memoir by Pervez Musharraf published in 2006 by Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, p.224.
11 In Pakistan and Islamic countries this case study can be specially useful: given the peculiar nature of this case, the masses are likely to accept the message and apply it to other injustices against the weak.
12 In Pakistan, even now the HRCP might be facing a crisis about its credibility with the masses, who generally feel that the HRCP has done less than what was expected of it in this regards.
Imran offers to help bolster forex reserves–>Imran gave credit of the exiled leadership return to CJP Iftikhar.
|Imran offers to help bolster forex reserves(The News)|
Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has offered to inject overseas Pakistanis’ capital in local banks provided the government ensures the accounts of President Asif Zardari and all politicians are transferred from foreign banks to Pakistan.
The conditional offer by the cricketer-turned-politician to help the government address its economic woes came during Imran’s address to party workers at Baghbanpura, here on Sunday.
There PML leader Mian Mirajuddin’s son Hamid Miraj announced to join PTI. Imran said he could undertake the mission to bring the capital of Pakistanis living abroad to local banks but set the condition for government to first ensure that all politicians, the president, prime minister, legislators and political leaders transferred their foreign accounts to Pakistani banks.
The government could save itself from self-inflicted embarrassment of seeking monetary aid from foreign countries, which would come with hard conditions by following this measure, Imran maintained.
He said the economic woes of the country would subside if only the politicians brought their money back, most of which was black money, he alleged.
Imran blasted the incumbent and former presidents for scratching each other’s back at the expense of the poor people of the country.
Gen (Retd) Pervez Musharraf had accused Asif Zardari of corruption of billions of rupees while Zardari on his part had also alleged that Musharraf had embezzled 50 billion US dollars American aid, which was to be used in the war on terror.
‘It appears that both have forgiven each other unilaterally although the money looted belonged to the people of Pakistan,’ Imran jested. Lamenting the absence of an independent judiciary, Imran said Musharraf and Zardari should have been brought before the courts had there been a free judiciary.
Flaying the political parties for double standards, Imran said when in opposition all political forces demanded independence of judiciary but the same parties stabbed judiciary in the back after coming to power.
He accused PPP of reneging on its promises of reinstating deposed judges saying the PPP had struggled along with other forces for independence of judiciary but now its leaders derided deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry by dubbing him as a political person.
Imran claimed the return of exiled slain PPP Chairperson Ms Bhutto and PML-N Chief Mian Nawaz Sharif would never have took place without the courageous stand against a dictator taken by the then CJ on March 9, 2007.
Imran questioned the basis of Law Minister Farooq H Naek’s statement whereby he had declared deposed CJ’s retirement. ‘The current rulers are more scared of a free judiciary than Musharraf ever was,’ Imran said.
Imran opined the absence of supremacy of law in the country had given way to rise in corruption alleging the PPP-led government had included corrupt people into cabinet whose loot had been waived off by the state under the infamous NRO. Imran said if President Asif Zardari was innocent and corruption cases against him were politically motivated then a judicial tribunal should have been constituted.
But, judiciary has always served as ruling party’s B-Team, he said. Speaking on the war on terror, Imran lambasted the government for not taking the course of dialogue to defuse the situation in FATA.
He lamented that while the US and UK governments were now considering negotiating with the Taliban, the rulers of Pakistan were vowing to eliminate them. ‘The current government is more loyal to the US than Afghan President Hamid Karzai,’ he said.
While deploring the state of education in the country, Imran underlined the need of declaring state emergency in the field of education. He criticised the government’s attitude towards education saying while the government had purchased weapons worth 5.1 Billion US dollars, the amount being spent on education was not enough.
PTI Punjab president Ahsan Rasheed, central information secretary Umer Cheema, Lahore president Mian Mehmood and other office-bearers were also present at the occasion and welcomed Hamid Miraj’s entry into the ranks of PTI.
Chaudhari Iftikhar Reaches SC on Aitzaz’s Invitation.–>Iftikhar Chaudhary calls for efforts to end crises.
According to reports genuine CJP Iftikhar Chaudhary has reached the SC building on the invitation of SC Bar president Aitzaz Ahsan to have a photo session and a meeting.
PPP government has barred the media to cover the historic event, you all are requested to register your protest on the email addresses below:
Iftikhar calls for efforts to end crises(The Post)
Ex-CJP to address Pindi Bar on Nov 3
HYDERABAD: Deposed chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Choudhry has underscored the need for effective functioning of the three pillars of the state for good governance as well as peace, progress and prosperity of the country.
Addressing a reception hosted in his honour by the Sindh High Court Bar Association and District Bar Association Hyderabad here at the Civil Court building, he said the country was in the grip of terrorism and price hikes and the situation demanded that all stakeholder realise the severity of the issues and team up to steer the country out of these challenges. These crises are the challenges for the masses, he said and hoped that people would rise to the occasion and bring the country out of crises. Besides, the three pillars of the state should work hard for betterment and it could only be possible with formulation of effective policies and rules as well as check and balances, he said.
He said the administration should comprise educated, dedicated and experiences persons who could implement the policies and rules and establish the government’s writ. “The judiciary should also play its due role in protection of basic rights of the citizens and providing them with speedy justice,” he added.
He said the government’s writ and peace could only be established if there was an effective and better system in place. Restoring people’s confidence is the basic responsibility of administration, he said. He said the Bar always played an important role in effective judicial administration and guided the bench on important matters. The independence of the judiciary was only possible if there was unity between the bar and the bench, he added.
Among others SCBA President Aitzaz Ahsan. Rasheed A Rizvi and Hamid Khan also addressed the reception. Meanwhile, Iftikhar Chaudhary would address the convention of Rawalpindi Bar on Nov 3 while all bar associations of the country would observe ‘Black Day’. According to a private TV channel, lawyers have decided to observe ‘Black Day’ on November 3.
Nation on 8 October remembered the tragic eartquake of October 8, 2005 with heavy heart.
It still seems to me an event happened just yesterday or so when the nation saw one of the most devastating earthquakes the world has ever seen.
Mountains on North of Pakistan shook with the vibration of death and horror. Thousands died (figures varying from 79000 to over 100,000 mostly school going children) , more than 300,0000 people got displaced and billions of dollars of property loss was reported.
Also I cannot forget the united effort shown by the nation (and I want that unity back but without any disaster) for a cause to help their brothers and sisters facing the most shocking experience of their lives.
Still there is lot to be done in the area (Govt. says 2011 will be the date when the area will be fully rebuild, God knows better we can just hope for the best).
Also questions should be asked about the inquiries which were initiated to investigate the collapse of structures like Margalla Towers in Islamabad and why the state machinery wasn’t ready for the disaster?
(Margall Towers:When the victims will get justice?)