Few days ago I shared a news from UN website regarding forced conversion. Here is the other side of the story. Case is in Sind High Court, hopefully there will be a fair decision
by Sarfaraz Memon (Express Tribune)
SUKKUR: Faryal Shah (Rinkle Kumari) appeared before the media on Thursday and made it clear that she had not been kidnapped and had not been forced to convert to Islam and marry Naveed Shah.
Faryal said that she had converted to Islam and had married Naveed Shah of her own free will, and that nobody had pressurised her into this. Reading out the Kalma-e-Tayyaba, Faryal said she was a Muslim girl and therefore had nothing to do with her parents.
Faryal (Rinkle Kumari) and her husband Naveed Shah were produced in front of the Sindh High Court (SHC) Sukker bench on Thursday morning amid tight security.
The couple was escorted by SSP Ghotki Pir Mohammad Shah along with a heavy contingent of police. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MNA Mian Abdul Haq of Bharchoondi Sharif, his son Mian Mohammad Aslam and a large number of their followers were also present.
The couple through their lawyer, Achar Gabole, had filed a constitutional petition stating that their lives were under threat from the relatives of the girl, who had been issuing threats of dire consequences.
Answering a question on threats to their lives, she said, “Our lives are under threat from my maternal uncle Raj Kumar”. She once again made it clear that she was a Muslim and wanted to live with her husband Naveed Shah.
Advocate Mohammad Murad Lund, who was representing Faryal’s grandfather Manohar Lal, told The Express Tribune that the single bench comprising of Justice Ahmed Ali Shaikh without recording the statement of the girl had ordered SSP Ghotki to provide protection to the couple and ensure that they are produced before the SHC chief justice in Karachi on March 12.
Advocate Mohammad Murad Lund kept on insisting that, the girl was under pressure due to the presence of a large number of Bharchoondi Sharif followers. He said everything will become “crystal clear” in Karachi, as the girl would be able to record her statement in a tension free atmosphere.
Mian Mohammad Aslam of Bharchoondi Sharif said that everyone had seen that Faryal was neither under pressure and had not said a word against the Pirs. “Rather she gave a statement against her own maternal uncle who is threatening to kill her.”
He said his father, PPP MNA Mian Abdul Haq had also come to the court because the girl’s parents had requested that they wanted to meet their daughter, but they didn’t come to see her.
Aslam said when the couple had come to Dargah Bharchoondi Sharif on February 24, Faryal had spoken to her parents on his instructions and had told them that she had come there to convert to Islam and marry Naveed Shah.
“I personally requested them to come over and meet their daughter to see for themselves that she was not under pressure, but they didn’t’ come,” Mian Aslam said.
He once again said that neither Islam nor the law of the land allowed forced conversion.
This seems really pathetic. there is no room for these type of actions neither in constitution nor in Islam. forceful conversion is not allowed and directly against Quran. I think human rights organizations especially some of rich or political class hindu community member can raise the issue in high court or supreme court or even in Sharia Court as it is a direct violation of Islamic law as well. Only conversion allowed is voluntary conversion by heart. Also I believe Islamic organizations can help in this as it is a direct insult and misuse of Islam.
“Even after a year of `marriage’ I am not used to my new name. I was called Radha before,” she told IRIN on a rare occasion when she was allowed to go to the corner shop on her own to buy vegetables.
Ameena, or Radha as she still calls herself, was abducted from Karachi about 13 months ago by a group of young men who offered her ice-cream and a ride in their car. Before she knew what was happening, she was dragged into a larger van, and driven to an area she did not know.
She was then pressured into signing forms which she later found meant she was married to Ahmed Salim, 25; she was converted to a Muslim after being asked to recite some verses in front of a cleric. She was obliged to wear a veil. Seven months ago, Ameena, who has not seen her parents or three siblings since then and “misses them a lot”, moved with her new family to southern Punjab.
“The abduction and kidnapping of Hindu girls is becoming more and more common,” Amarnath Motumal, a lawyer and leader of Karachi’s Hindu community, told IRIN. “This trend has been growing over the past four or five years, and it is getting worse day by day.”
He said there were at least 15-20 forced abductions and conversions of young girls from Karachi each month, mainly from the multi-ethnic Lyari area. The fact that more and more people were moving to Karachi from the interior of Sindh Province added to the dangers, as there were now more Hindus in Karachi, he said.
“They come to search for better schooling, for work and to escape growing extremism,” said Motumal who believes Muslim religious schools are involved in the conversion business.
“Hindus are non-believers. They believe in many gods, not one, and are heretics. So they should be converted,” said Abdul Mannan, 20, a Muslim student. He said he would be willing to marry a Hindu girl, if asked to by his teachers, “because conversions brought big rewards from Allah [God]. But later I will marry a `real’ Muslim girl as my second wife,” he said.
According to local law, a Muslim man can take more than one wife, but rights activists argue that the law infringes the rights of women and needs to be altered.
Motumal says Hindu organizations are concerned only with the “forced conversion” of girls under 18. “Adult women are of course free to choose,” he said.
Sunil Sushmt, 40, who lives in a village close to the city of Mirpurkhas in central Sindh Province, said his 14-year-old daughter was “lured away” by an older neighbour and, her parents believe, forcibly converted after marriage to a Muslim. “She was a child. What choice did she have?” her father asked. He said her mother still cries for her “almost daily” a year after the event.
According to official figures, Hindus based mainly in Sindh make up 2 percent of Pakistan’s total population of 165 million. “We believe this figure could be higher,” Motumal said.
“My family has lived in Sindh for generations,” Parvati Devi, 70, told IRIN. “But now I worry for the future of my granddaughters and their children. Maybe we too should leave,” she said. “The entire family is seriously considering this.”
*not her real name
Dr Fauzia Siddiqui, in an exclusive chat with The News from Karachi, said that Davis was a killer and after meeting the heirs of the deceased youth, Aafia’s family can never imagine to forgive the blood of Pakistanis against repatriation of Aafia.
She mentioned that first Aafia should be brought home with respect then the government should think of dealing the case of Davis with the Americans. “Aafia has not killed anyone; therefore, we can not demand exchange of an innocent lady with a double murderer,” said Dr Fauzia, adding that it was the time for government to negotiate with Americans regarding respectful repatriation of Dr Aafia.
She said that Aafia has been jailed for a falsely carved crime in Afghanistan whereas Davis was a daylight killer, so we should not compare the crimes of both of them. “Government should bring Americans on negotiating terms regarding Aafia; otherwise, these rulers will be kicked off from their palaces by the people of Pakistan if they handed over Davis to America.”
Dr Fauzia said that she has met the families of the three deceased youths of Lahore and after looking at the condition of mothers of those three boys, she could not demand for forgiving the blood of Pak nationals rather David should be punished under the penal law of the country for the crime which the has committed. On the other hand, a few parliamentarians have raised their voice for exchange of Davis for Dr Aafia and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf vows to establish a fund for the legal heirs of the three youths who were killed by American so that those families should not compromise on money with US. Fakhar Chathha, President PTI Traders-Wing, while talking to this correspondent said that Pakistan should make a simple deal with US: “Give us our innocent Aafia and take your double murderer Davis.” He mentioned that time has come for Pakistan to take a stand before the Americans, otherwise, world will curse on us.
He said that his party is ready to establish a fund for the heirs of three deceased youths of Lahore so that they should not accept American offer of money against blood rather ask for the extradition of Dr Aafia from America in return of Davis. It is worth mentioning here that the PTI is the only political party in the country, which has stage protests regarding American killing in Lahore. Even the protesters were baton charged in Islamabad when they tried to enter the red zone to get their protest registered in front of US embassy.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s ex-Chairman Iqbal Haider on Geo TV said that Dr Aafia has not killed any person, and the way she was produced before the American court was also condemnable. “On the other hand Davis has killed three people in broad daylight, yet immunity is being sought for the killer,” the lawyer said. He mentioned that Aafia has been sentenced for 86 years, which was again cruel whereas America wants a killer to be free. On the other hand, an SMS campaign to exchange Aafia for Davis has already started, and cyber groups, like OSAPK, have launched campaigns for Davis for Aafia.
On the other hand, the family of Dr Aafia Saddiqui has closed the debate of her nationality once for ever. Mother of Dr Aafia showed three Pakistani passports of her daughter in Capital Talk of Geo News on Monday night and claimed that Dr Aafia did not have even a US green card. Rana Sanaullah and mother of Aafia were talking to Hamid Mir in Capital Talk.
Hamid Mir asked question about the possibility of double nationality of Dr Aafia, but her mother Ismat Saddiqui showed a US visa on the last passport of Dr Aafia which was expired on February 3, 2008. She said that US visa can only be issued to a non-US citizen.
Sister of Dr Aafia read some parts of the US court verdict against Dr Aafia, in which it was clearly said that Dr Aafia is a 38 years old Pakistani citizen. Dr Fauzia Saddiqui said that the arrest of her sister from Afghanistan was also a violation of international law because Dr Aafia was not provided any consular access.
The Executive Director of the South Asia Strategic Stability Institute, Maria Sultan, said that US violated international law by arresting a Pakistani citizen Aafia from Afghanistan because the two countries have no extradition treaty.
Former Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokhar said that Raymond Davis is a killer; he does not enjoy any diplomatic immunity. Riaz Khokhar said that arrival of suspicious US citizens in Pakistan was started in Musharraf era. Once Riaz Khokhar objected to the arrival of a secret US flight in Pakistan. The ISI also endorsed the view of Foreign Office, but President Musharraf over ruled their objections.
Host of Capital Talk aired the last statement of Shamaila, who committed suicide on Sunday in protest of VIP status given to Raymond Davis. Human Rights activist Tahira Abdullah said that nobody in the government will listen to the last plea of Shamaila because US dollars will work, but Rana Sanaullah disagreed. He said that days of military dictators have passed now, and only the courts will decide the fate of Raymond Davis.
Issue of power sharing between center and different units of federation has always been a topic of great importance in Pakistan. In a country, which was founded on the basis of a common ideology of Islam but itself is consisted of a diversified demography, adapting a centralized common system becomes a very tricky question.
The diversity in our society is not only in terms of culture, linguistics, races, life style and living standards but if we look at religion, diversity is their to a large extent despite us being an Islamic State and vast majority is Muslim. Not only religious diversity is there in the form of different religious minorities but within the majority Muslim population presence of different sects with range of conflicting issues have created many problems in terms of legislation and implementation of law.
Distribution of resources and authority to run their affairs has also seen its share of conflicts in our country. The biggest example is the fall of Dhaka when more than half of our population felt that their rights are not been given by the authorities controlling the center. Even after the fall of Dhaka smaller provinces have felt the similar feelings. This issue of provincial autonomy has always played an important part in the electoral politics of the country. Even if we see the current parliament, we can clearly see the strong provincial and ethnic color of our political base.
The history of our country shows that these demographic diversity and provincial autonomy issues are not tackled well by our mainly centralized system. Whether we see feudal-corporatist democratic periods or military dictatorships, the tensions between different communities and regions have increased over the time. This situation indicates us of adapting a different approach of running our affairs related to governance, legislation and economy which will not only cater the problems mentioned above but ensure a sustainable progressive path for our future. This type of system will require the loosening of grip by centralized power structure over our national affairs, in other words we need a decentralized governance, legislative and economic structure.
Decentralization of governance means a state gives majority of authority and control to the lower levels of administration for e.g. provinces and local bodies. In this the decision making process will be in a bottom-up model i.e. decisions are taken at the local and gradually passed on to the center and in most cases passing on to the center is not required. This type of governance model will ensure that governance decisions and structuring of institutions is done according to the needs of local requirements for e.g. policing system of Karachi may not work well in FATA and Dera-Bugti.
If we see in past several steps have been taken like setting up local bodies, establishing alternate policing structure in the form of FC or giving some departments to the provinces. But the main problems was and still is the upper hand of central government and flow of resources from center to the federation constituents. The big size of the government also plays a negative role in implementing decentralization of governance as we see several ministries and departments work where there is no requirement of government at all.
The other thing which we need to do is to decentralize the process of legislation. Even thought we are a dominant Muslim state but still our customs and cultures vary from area to area in our country. Also the presence of different religions, sects and social communities demands for a legislative system flexible and capable enough to cater the needs of regional and social diversity. This can be achieved by keeping the centralized common laws as minimum and delegate the legislative powers to regions and social communities. By giving legislative powers to social communities means law making related to a particular social community should be done by the representatives of those communities. Careful provisioning can be done to ensure basic human rights and conflicts of interest.
Now the issue will come of handling the situation where different people from different social and religious backgrounds are involved in a dispute. This can be done through social contracts between communities like “Meesaq e Madina”, empowering civil courts to resolve disputes based on social customs and some careful central legislation just to resolve disputes between different social communities can be made.
After governance and legislation, we see how we can run our economic affairs more efficiently and transparently. It is again an issue of great discussion in Pakistan whether the state should control the economy and run the institutions like steel mills, PIA itself or not. But if we look our history more than having the issue of it should or should not, the issue is the capability of the state of doing it. We have seen huge corruption scandals involving key government and establishment personalities being highlighted in media and taken up by courts. Most of the time the main reason behind other than greed is having too much discretionary powers. If we see many of these powers are a result of unnecessary state involvement and undesired regulations. All these not only lead to corruption but also result in economic loss as a result of inefficiencies created.
Therefore regulation, in areas other than where it is required to cater corruption and social benefits, should be removed and free market economy is needed to be promoted. The discretionary powers of licensing and quotas needed to be eliminated so that fair play can take place and more economic opportunities are created. Privatization is also a key element of decentralization of economy but it needs to be fair and transparent otherwise it will be counter productive and will result in more economic instability.
The two key steps we need to do to achieve decentralization and reap its benefits are strengthening the judiciary and to reduce the size of state. Strengthening judiciary is necessary in order to ensure smooth running of affairs between different federal constituents and social communities. In absence of a strong, independent and impartial judiciary we cannot expect any smooth running and harmony among different constituents of our country. Luckily through recent lawyers movement we have at least come to the point where a big portion of our society has realized the importance of having a strong and effective judicial system. The other thing which we need and as discussed above is reducing the size of our government. This is necessary to create more economic opportunities and more freedom.
If we look at the 18th amendment, the situation is not that promising. On one hand if they have dissolved the concurrent list, the parliament on the other hand has strengthened an unelected party head who will be in actual the ruling authority whether in center or in provinces. The biggest thing which happened in 18th amendment is weakening the judiciary and making them dependent on parliamentarians by forming judicial commissions and parliamentary review committee. This will not only pave way for corruption and lack of accountability but it will also endanger the rights of people not represented by the elected parliamentarians or not represented by the government as judiciary is supposed to be an institution safe guarding the basic human rights of all people including those who didn’t vote for the government or don’t give votes at all.
If we look at our history main challenge we face towards achieving decentralization is political will not the lack of capacity and resources. Our national politics is mainly dominated by our military establishment and feudal-corporatist political class who are mainly interested in having the tight grip over the country affairs, economic resources and political decision making. This totalitarian approach has given us nothing except for miseries and sense of deprivation and hopelessness for our people.
Even though slogans like provincial autonomy, provincial harmony, devolution of power have played key roles in country politics but not much in true sense has come out. Its high time for us to re-think our strategy as a nation and decide how we should proceed towards our future course in time. Decentralization is not only necessary for efficient and smooth running of our affairs but it will give more freedom, confidence and sense of ownership to our people.
- Faisal ur Rahman
By Ansar Abbasi
|By Ansar Abbasi|
|The war between crime and justice has intensified. The Supreme Court that rose in the wake of popular struggle is fearlessly busy in demolishing powerful idols, whereas those with some clout in the government are endeavouring not only to save them but also to glorify them as heroes. The government has emerged as the biggest hurdle in the way of justice. The accused, counsels and prosecution have all joined hands to weaken the judge and make him toothless. Efforts are afoot to murder justice and courts are made the butt of criticism. The only crime of the Supreme Court is that it is determined to bring to book every criminal regardless of his position, connections and his office. It beats one’s imagination that when a corrupt officer like Ahmad Riaz Sheikh is sent behind the bars, PPP leaders start issuing anti-judiciary statements. Nobody bothers to ask how a corrupt person who earned notoriety because of his corruption could be laundered of all his black deeds through the NRO. Not only that he was reinstated, and too within one year, he was given promotion from BS-18 to BS-20 and made in-charge of a very important department — the Economic Crime Wing.
To elevate such a person as head of a department meant for eradicating corruption was a hoax played on the people of Pakistan. When the government did this, all remained mum except the Jang Group of Newspapers. None raised a voice against this cruel joke, neither on the media, nor in parliament or the corridors of power. Why did the powerful bureaucrats, including the interior secretary, establishment secretary, DG FIA and other heavyweights of promotion board, prefer to remain silent and why did they not protest against wrong promotion? All knew the real background of Ahmad Riaz Sheikh but the senior officials chose to look the other way.
Now when the Supreme Court has ordered to handcuff him, restored his sentence and ordered that he be sent to jail, a hue and cry has been raised. A particular class has become nervous when the SC is asking the powerful secretaries as well as the NAB chairman as to why they were defying the apex court’s orders instead of implementing the same, and as to why they should not be sent behind the bars for the same. Now voices are being raised against such treatment against senior and big officers.
Perhaps, we do not like to come out of the pit of mental degradation where only the weak and voiceless people can be punished and there was no concept of bringing the rich, the powerful, the big bureaucrats, and rulers in the dock. Now when the winds of change have started blowing and we are witnessing the birth of a new Pakistan, this class has started screaming. Previously, one felt shame on being punished for corruption, but after restoration of his punishment by the Supreme Court, Ahmad Riaz Sheikh was seen saluting the media, making victory signs. One felt as if he had won some laurels in the court.
On his way to jail from the police station, the criminal said that he was with Asif Ali Zardari yesterday, and he was still with him today. This statement alone was sufficient for proceeding against a government official.
One is at a loss to know what was special in this official that three advisers of the Presidency — Fauzia Habib, Rukhsana Bangash, and Farahnaz — rushed to the police station to meet him.
Similar attitude is being shown in case of resignation of PPP MNA Jamshed Dasti. An influential minister of the incumbent government said the Supreme Court was unjust to Dasti. When asked whether it too was unjust that our political leaders, who should be our role models, should return to assemblies on the basis of fraud? The minister had the cheek to say that the court should not have insulted the MNA and he should not have been told either to resign or to go to jail. I was at a loss to know why the minister was oblivious of the insult the said MNA had meted out to the people. He had ignored the lie on the basis of which he had sat in the National Assembly.
The Supreme Court reprimanded the NAB on another fraud and directed it to take disciplinary action against the prosecutors who, with their silence, helped some NRO beneficiary big guns to be acquitted from accountability courts. It is a mockery of justice that a counsel appearing against the accused should be subordinate to him. When the NAB works under the government and the Law Ministry, how can it speak against the accused who are part of the government? We have been clamouring since long that as long as the NAB prosecutors are under the thumb of the government, courts will continue to be cheated and the murder of justice cannot stop.
Forget me, forget the Jang Group because we are prejudiced in the eyes of the government. Just read the Dawn of Wednesday in which it has been reported that the NAB did not oppose the appeal for acquittal of Siraj Shamsuddin, former principal secretary of PM Gilani, and the court acquitted him. Reporting about the acquittal of Agha Sirajud Din, Sindh Minister for Local Bodies who happens to be very close to President Zardari, the paper writes that NAB prosecutor submitted in the court that he had no proof against Agha Sirajuddin and this led to his acquittal. The same paper writes in the same news that Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Principal Secretary to the President Suleman Faruqui, his brother and ex Chairman Pakistan Steel Usman Farooqi and Agha Siraj Durrani are among those who were acquitted because of silence of NAB. A few days ago, in response to my question, the NAB told me that they were not going to appeal in higher courts against any of these acquittals of influential persons and those close to President Zardari. The Supreme Court ordered the NAB on Wednesday that appeals should be filed in these cases too.
This is going to cause hue and cry. However, all were mum at that time; the NAB was mum; and criminals were being acquitted. This class of people wants the return of Dogar era when all the big guns, capitalists, bureaucrats, ministers, and rulers were safe, all their crimes notwithstanding. The courts even paid them respect. But now a change has come to Pakistan and we must learn to live in a changed country.
Source : http://ftp.app.com.pk/en_/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=96105&Itemid=2
LONDON, Feb 10 (APP): Describing the conviction of Pakistani neuroscientist Dr.Aafia Siddiqui as “miscarriage of justice”, British Parliamentarians have called for withdrawal of case against her and repatriation to Pakistan. At a function organised at the House of Lords on Tuesday evening to raise support for the incarcerated Dr. Siddiqui, Lord Nazir Ahmed together with other speakers said her trial in New York was full of flaws and not based on facts.
They sought the intervention of the US leadership and demanded a fair trial based on real facts and not assumptions. Lord Ahmed said he would be writing a letter to the US President Barack Obama carrying signatures of other British MPs calling for Dr.Siddiqui’s repatriation to Pakistan and withdrawal of case.
The Labour Peer further said he would also raise this question in the Parliament to ascertain how the British Government could help in this regard.
According to Lord Nazir, the conviction of Dr.Siddiqui has been received with great dismay in Pakistan which would further fuel anti-American feeling in the south Asian country.
“If US wants to create a good impression of itself in Pakistan, it should release Dr.Siddiqui and send her back to Pakistan,” he asserted.
He said no credible independent evidence was presented at the New York court and in the words of defence lawyers the decision of the jury was based on fear rather than facts.
Lord Altaf Sheikh, MP Muhammad Sarwar, Muhammad Saghir, a representative of Caged Prisoners which represent the inmates of Guantanamo Bay, Rabia Zia of UK Chapter of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, journalist Yvonne Ridley, who witnessed the trial and Barrister Abid Hussain also spoke on the occasion.
The thrust of their speeches was to mobilise public opinion against Dr.Siddiqui’s conviction and call on Pakistani authorities to demand her repatriation as well making efforts to find the whereabouts of her two missing children.
Sarwar said Pakistani authorities must hold inquiry at their end to know the circumstances of her disappearance from Karachi in 2003 and her appearance in Kabul five years later.
Ridley said it was now up to the people of Pakistan to organise regular rallies in support of Dr.Siddiqui and send strong message of their resentment to the USA on this trial.
Barrister Abid Hussain urged the British Pakistanis to lobby their respective MPs and sign on-line petition in support of the neuroscientist for exerting maximum pressure on the US Government.