I am really sick of these pathetic occupied armed forces who just know how to control power, kill their own people, suppress their own people and serve their foreign masters and thier greed.
Likewise, the BU students were warned of expulsion in case they participated in protests or expressed solidarity with the outspoken professor. The BU main gate was closed to stop the students from going out. Nevertheless, the bravos not only showed up in a reasonable strength but also resolved to do so again on Tuesday when the sacked professors would deliver lectures on the roadside on the issue of leadership. The BU Rector, vice admiral (retd) Haroon, has meanwhile left for Hong Kong on vacation, as the situation grew tense in the university. Registrar of the university, retired commodore Mumtaz Raza, was called several times, messages were dropped, requesting for his version on the conflicting situation but he did not return the calls.
Dr Shafqat who earned doctorate in management sciences is only 32 years old but has authored three books and 50 research articles in international journals. He returned to Pakistan last year with a passion to serve his country after teaching in reputed UK universities for eight years where he was inducted into the academic staff at the age of 23 after earning distinctions in post-graduation.
Dr. Shafqat, who heads the department of Management Sciences, was expecting this showdown for a long time as he confronted the university administration on a number of occasions. Now when the administration decided to sack Professor Qamar Riaz, the termination letter was to be served through him. And he refused.
Instead, he asked for a proper inquiry to establish Qamar Riaz’s guilt. It was not done and the professor was roughed up and later sacked. It followed the termination of Dr. Shafqat. Interestingly, the sacked professors are regular employees and no notice was served nor any inquiry ordered into their conduct.
As Dr Shafqat had to attend the protest rally on Monday, he was passing through the F-8 Markaz for some business and was surrounded by two cars. “Do you know who we are?” said the sleuths as they came out of the cars, Dr. Shafqat told The News. “I got the point that they were 7-9 persons of Naval Intelligence.” They had him locked in there until the protest was over.
Dr. Shafqat has been at unease with the university’s administration since he joined it. First, he refused to keep three children of Navy officers in MBA classes, as they did not fulfil the admission criteria. Dr Shafqat had refused to take them notwithstanding the fact they were already granted admission by the registrar’s office, he told The News.
“The Registrar said we have to enrol the scions of Navy officers. I said, OK but you will have to devise a policy. Then that was never done but the pressure always keeps mounting.”
Likewise, Dr. Shafqat refused to take into the faculty a female teacher, the daughter of a serving rear admiral, and he was then put on warning: “You will face the consequences.” He also faced the wrath of the administration when he bluntly refused to comply with a wish list also including a Naval officer who desired to be inducted into the faculty when he was already taking classes at the same department. Dr. Shafqat said that he had also taken up the issue of the harassment of female students by some officials of the administration. The female students submitted a written application, naming the officers who harassed them. “As I took up the issue, the administration reprimanded me for doing this”, Dr Shafqat said.
By Shakeel Anjum
ISLAMABAD: Unknown attackers who last month abducted, tortured and humiliated Umar Cheema, a senior investigative journalist of The News, have again started chasing him and the latest harassment of this kind occurred on Friday night.
Cheema was heading home with his family at around 10 pm when some suspects, again in a black Land Cruiser, started chasing his vehicle and did so for as long as nine kilometres on the Islamabad Highway. They started following his car from near Faizabad and remained in pursuit until he took a U-turn from the highway towards the PWD Housing Society. As he got off the main highway, the suspects stopped the Land Cruiser and started staring at the vehicle till it remained in sight. Incidentally, it was also a Friday night when Cheema was abducted in the wee hours of September 4, 2010. Likewise, a black Land Cruiser was used for his abduction and for chasing him again.
Cheema said this is not for the first time that he has been followed, adding the Friday night’s incident panicked his family members traveling with him. He said he has written a will and handed it over to his family, advising them as to who should be held accountable in case some tragedy hits him.
Umar Cheema was last picked up in a cloak and dagger style on his way home on September 4. He was stripped naked, tortured with a long piece of leather like whip and a wooden rod. His attackers had accused him of writing against the government.
The information he gathered later on indicated that the operation was presumably done by the thugs of an intelligence agency. Cheema, who wrote critical pieces about the federal government, Army, and intelligence agencies, said that it was always the ISI people who would contact him directly or indirectly for giving him ‘brotherly advice.’
After this brutal incident, the attackers didn’t lose track of him. He noted their presence on a number of times outside his residence after this incident and was also chased in the latest incident on Friday night.
The government so far has failed to bring the culprits to justice. Even the adjournment motion on Cheema’s issue in the National Assembly that was moved by the PML-N lawmakers, though approved for discussion, was not taken up in the last session that was prorogued without discussion on this important issue. Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who had promised completing the criminal investigation in a week, could not keep up his pledge as usual. A Joint Investigation Team that was formed later under pressure from journalist organisations failed to make any headway. The Lahore High Court had taken a suo moto notice of Cheema’s torture but police keeps buying time again and again without coming up with any solid clue. A judicial commission headed by a retired judge of high court is recording statements for a fact-finding report on this incident.
Besides Cheema and Ansar Abbasi who was also sent threatening messages, six journalists have recorded their statements narrating their harassment in the past by intelligence agencies. Geo TV anchor Hamid Mir, Kamran Shafi, a Dawn columnist, Sarmad Manzoor, chief coordinator of SAFMA, Shakeel Anjum, senior journalist of The News, Azaz Syed, investigative reporter of Dawn TV and Shakil Turabi, editor of SANA news agency, are among those who recorded statements before the judicial commission.
ISLAMABAD:(Umar Cheema) The wee hours of late Saturday brought a metamorphosis in my life. Not just that I was muffled, picked up, tortured, and humiliated. No absolutely not. Rather the torture has removed the remaining fear, if there was any in my heart and mind, and has instead given me the realization that we have to die fighting for this country.
My love for this country is based on some reasoning which is inspired by my firm belief that we can neither change our past nor our national identity. I learned this during my stay abroad for one and a half years when I went for studies, first in the US and then in UK. Lord Curzon’s words that “exile is a nursery of nationalism” always keep resounding in my ears.
Let us suppose I decide to settle abroad. I will again be Pakistani-British or Pakistani-American and the prefix ‘Pakistan’ cannot be dropped from my identity. It is always counted where you’re rooted in. So I have to stay attached and take care of my country wherever I am.
Having decided to live and die on this land, I have a dream to see Pakistan where brains, not batons reign supreme, where people can question the use of public money, where all institutions can be held accountable without any fear or favour, where our children love to live instead of fear to live, and where we are governed by the rule of law and not on the basis of personal loyalties.
The message of my captors for me was to become a status quo abiding person, not law abiding. They forced me through violence to accept their views and become a silent spectator to the rot without questioning what was happening to my beloved country.
I instead learned a different lesson from the torture and humiliation, to stand guard for this country, help the oppressed, keep questioning the high and mighty and continue the struggle to make this land livable and safe for the next generation.
The captors thought themselves to be heroes but emerged as villains and will go down in the history with same status. I feel pity for them. They were born innocent but forced to become sick minds. Instead of cursing them, I only pray for them because they don’t know we’re fighting for their betterment too.
My captors were probably not aware that I was also hit by a car in December 2004 that left me with compound fractures in my left leg. But I never bowed to those attackers either. Although I’ve forgiven my captors but not forgotten the perpetrators of this act that should be exposed and this mind-set be eliminated once and for all.
I believe in reporting with a moral force without any personal grudge against anybody or any institution. Whenever I write about anyone, the concerned people have always been approached for their version to balance my reporting. It is however a different story that those without answers to our questions try to propagate as if the stories are being planted and we are being bribed for doing this.
Such excuses are crafted by the individuals and institutions not inclined to revisit their conduct. But they don’t know that we, by virtue of our profession, have been tasked to unfold the truth, no matter who is affected by whatever way.
Some consider journalism as a shortcut to rise on the ladder to political power but we are here to protect the interest of people, neither our own nor of the rulers.
I have no words to thank so many of my well-wishers in Pakistan and abroad for consoling me and praying for me. I didn’t know many of them before. I was amazed to note how they struggled to reach me. Due to the flood of calls, I could not attend most of them. It was a silent majority that rose against the oppression of a tiny minority claiming to have monopoly on violence.
There was a mixed reaction to this incident. Those who didn’t know me gave me a new strength and conviction, emboldened me further and offered all-out help. People, who know me for years, were concerned about me and my family’s security. They think that I should think about my children. This is a question which comes to every parent’s mind. I would like to explain that the fight we are into is for my children and for the children of all Pakistanis.
We have to see the broader picture. Pakistani media is fighting the war for the future of this country. The country’s neighbours China and India, are emerging as superpowers but we, in spite of our immense capabilities, are on the decline. There are many who are even worried about its existence. The situation calls for internal accountability and restructuring the society but vested interests and pro-status quo forces seem to be strong, at least for the moment.
But we have to fight on and they don’t realize that a change is in progress, it is bound to come, sooner than later. I’m ready to pay any price for speaking up. Thomas Horaceman, who is considered the father of the public education system in US had said: “One should feel ashamed to die until one has done anything for humanity.” And I stand by his words.
Another attack of State Institutions on Freedom of Expression;Pakistani journalist kidnapped and tortured
Another attack on freedom of expression is made by so called state institutions which run like mafias under few criminals.
Umar Cheema, investigative reporter from The News, was kidnapped and tortured by state institutions. Also the kidnappers threatened that they will do this with other journalists writing against the criminal acts of government and its institutions. Kidnappers told Umar that Ansar Abbasi is next on their list.
CJ LHC has taken suo motto of this incident and an inquiry is being ordered.
We strongly condemn this act of terrorism and whoever is involved must be brought to justice.
LHC CJ takes suo moto notice of Cheema torture. PM Gilani, Nawaz console Umar Cheema on phone
LAHORE: Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Khwaja Muhammad Sharif on Saturday took suo moto notice of the torture of The News (a local newspaper) reporter Umar Cheema and summoned the Islamabad inspector general police on Monday.
Taking notice of the incident, the chief justice observed that torture of the journalist was an attack on press freedom, which was protected under the Constitution of Pakistan.
“Not only the judiciary but every citizen is duty bound to stop such incidents,” Justice Sharif further observed.
He directed the federal IGP to appear in the court along with the complete case record and apprise it of the facts of the incident. He also directed Additional Advocate General Muhammad Hanif Khatana to assist the court in the matter.
Read complete : http://www.paktribune.com/news/index.shtml?231274
Students protest as investigation ordered
By Umar Cheema
ISLAMABAD: A retired brigadier, the registrar of the Army-run National University of Modern Languages (NUML), on Thursday assaulted his respected professor colleague when the latter questioned the role of General Musharraf in brokering a deal with the PPP through the NRO.
The staff room discussion on President Asif Zardari’s alleged corruption and Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s role in granting a clean chit through the NRO, infuriated Brig (retd) Obaidullah Ranjha to an extent that he started hitting Prof Tahir Malik like a punching bag, leaving the latter virtually unconscious.
The incident triggered protests by the university students, who blocked the road and chanted slogans supporting the victim professor, Tahir Malik, and demanding the removal of the brigade of brigadiers, led by Rector Brig (retd) Aziz Ahmad, and assisted by the brutal Brigadier Ranjha and Brigadier Saulat Raza.
Tension gripped the university premises with all gates closed and cellphones switched off. Brig (retd) Ranjha, instead of regretting his act, said he wouldn’t care in case an FIR was lodged and defended the use of muscle power, saying: “If somebody disgraces the Army and its institution, what should I have done?” and asked the media to write whatever they wanted, adding: “I’m not answerable to you.”
The NUML administration reacts so loudly against the people questioning the Army’s role that it has taught a lesson to two civilian teachers in the short span of two weeks. The university’s journalism department, headed by Brig (retd) Saulat Raza, an ISPR veteran, recently sacked a journalist, Azaz Syed, who was in the department’s visiting faculty, after he did stories for his newspaper critical to the Army and the ISI.
The NUML is fast gaining notoriety as the recent audit report exposed rampant corruption with the auditor caught the rector and the university’s senior staffers committing different irregularities, obliging their near and dear ones, and fleecing money in the name of watchmen. The tension between the academic staff with civilian background and military background is growing by the day, making the situation worse.
As far the unfortunate thrashing incident is concerned, it occurred in the International Relations Department where Brig (retd) Ranjha was invited to attend a reception ceremony of the students where a discussion on the political situation started. As Ranjha criticised President Asif Zardari and lamented the country was being run by incompetent politicians, Professor Tahir Malik intervened, questioning why Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf brokered the deal with the PPP.
Tahir Malik, who is the son of the rector of the Islamic International University, said the politicians were always hounded and one should respect the mandate the public gave to them.
Brig (retd) Ranjha, whose appointment has also been criticised and declared illegal in the recent audit report, had also to face criticism on this count. “You have been appointed registrar without any advertisement. You don’t qualify for the position for not having the required academic experience of 15 years. You should set your house in order before pointing fingers towards the politicians. One should preach what one practices,” Tahir bluntly said, addressing Brig (retd) Ranjha.
Facing humiliation of his person and the criticism of the military’s top brass role in political bickering, in the presence of a TV journalist, sank Ranjha into chair, his shoulders drooped. But he took no time to stand up and leave the place, only to return within 45 minutes. As Ranjha arrived again, he took Tahir Malik along, saying some urgent business was to be discussed. As they walked away from the staff room, Ranjha started hurling abuses, hitting Malik on the face, kicking him on the upper part of the legs. But doing all this could not alleviate his anger. He then struck in his chest with head like a goat. Malik, who is a heart patient, fell on the ground.
In the meantime, the staff and students of the IR Department rushed to the spot, liberating Malik from the clutches of Brig (retd) Ranjha, eyewitnesses said. Dr Sohail Ahmad, head of the IR Department, who was an eyewitness, told The News he had witnessed this unfortunate incident. “Tahir is my faculty member and he was a clear victim,” he said. “We’ve demanded justice as the matter is now in the hands of the rector.”
The rector, when contacted, appeared to be very calm. Instead of going into the details of the incident and who the aggressor or victim was, he said an investigation into the incident is under way.
As far as the sacking of a journalist teaching in the NUML’s Journalism Department is concerned, it is yet another case in point of how the Army-run institution demonstrated intolerance towards freedom of expression. Azaz Syed, an investigative journalist, first had his house attacked on January 19, a week after a premier intelligence agency warned him against writing about its chief. Some days after this incident, Brig (retd) Saulat conveyed to the journalist not to come to the university for he had annoyed the institution of the Army, Azaz told The News.
Later, he was asked through the clerical staff of the department not to come till further orders. The students protested on the sacking of Azaz. Brig (retd) Saulat told the students that he could not bring him back because his own job would be in danger in that case, a student who gave audience to Saulat, later told The News. However, Saulat, when contacted for his version, denied anything like this had happened.