Archive for October, 2009

BANGLADESH: Police prevent a journalist from filing torture allegations against paramilitary soldiers

October 31, 2009


                                                                     We have Former President of National Students Federationlearned that a team from
the Rapid Action Battalion-10, a paramilitary force involved in
maintaining law and order in Bangladesh, tortured a journalist at his
house while in their custody, and detained him for more than ten
hours. The soldiers made a fabricated video at his house and in their
office involving drugs, in an attempt to discredit him. The police
would not allow him to register a torture complaint against his
perpetrators and the authorities have not yet taken any lawful action
into this matter.


On 22 October 2009, according to the victim and other eyewitnesses, a
(Rapid Action Battalion) RAB-10 team, in plain cloth, raided a house
under the jurisdiction of the Jatrabari police, in Dhaka. One
resident, Mr. F. M. Masum is a crime reporter for the New Age – a national daily newspaper based in Dhaka, and lives on the second

At about 10:30am, Masum saw some plain clothed people beating the wife
of the owner of the house in front of the building’s gate. They asked
him to open the gate and he refused, but when the men identified
themselves as RAB personnel he obeyed. However the men then started to
beat him.

The battalion personnel, led by Fight Lieutenant Anis, took him inside
and started to torture him with iron rods, wooden stick and with the
blunt backside of machetes. According to the victim they hit him on
the knees and other joints, then applied salt to the bleeding wounds.
After about an hour they took him inside his apartment where they
reportedly produced six bottles of Phensidyl (codeine) syrup, placed
them on his bed and videoed the display.

The battalion took him to the RAB 10 headquarters at Dhalpur, while
handcuffed. Masum begged to be allowed his inhaler; the officer swore
at him and refused. The torture then continued at the RAB-10 office,
where he was told that he may be arranged to die in a ‘crossfire’
killing. The team stuck a label on Masum’s t-shirt that read ‘Drug
peddler’ and shot more video with another batch of drugs at the

In the meantime we are told that senior journalists of the New Age
contacted the battalion’s director general, home secretary and the
home minister, telling them that the arrest was mistaken. The
journalists were given different reasons for his detention by
different battalions; some claimed Masum had been found in possession
of Pethedine, some said with Phensidyl syrup, while some others said
they found him with prostitutes. They promised his release.
After these assurances from the battalion’s director general, home
secretary and home minister, it took four more hours for Masum to be
released at 10:30pm. The colleagues he was released to had to sign a
paper that alleged that he had been picked up for not cooperating with
law-enforcers, but was being released ‘in good health’. Masum reportedly was covered in torture wounds; his body and his feet were swollen, his eyes bloodshot. After being admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH), physicians advised that he have a CT scan and X-ray, with the tests run early Friday. Masum was then discharged earlyfrom the DMCH, at about 2:30pm although his condition was still serious. He admitted himself to the Dhaka Community Hospital, a private hospital, on the same day where he is being treated.

Masum told that he is experiencing hearing problems in his left ear and has serious pain in his knees, elbows, shoulders, soles and in the back of the head. Quoting his physicians he said that his full physical recovery may
take many months, if medical treatment is adequately provided.

On 23 October, the RAB Headquarters released a statement
which said” “RAB sincerely expresses regret for the unwarranted
incident that has taken place between RAB personnel and journalist FM
Masum of the largely-circulated daily New Age. RAB is looking into the
matter with importance. The RAB headquarters has formed an inquiry
team and the matter is being investigated. Punitive action will be
taken against anyone of RAB found guilty.”

However Mr. Shahiduzzaman, the Chief Reporter at the paper, told the
AHRC that the Jatrabari police rejected their attempts to register a
complaint at the station on 24 October.

On 25 October the Home Minister Ms. Sahara Khatun along with her
deputy Mr. Shamsul Haque Tuku, state minister, visited Masum at the
Dhaka Community Hospital. The Home Minister assured him that his
torture allegations will be registered, yet the Jatrabari police have
still not acted.

The only action that appears to have been taken inside the RAB is for
one man, Flight Lieutenant Anis, to have been transferred to the
Bangladesh Air Force, where he used to serve.


Masum and his family have accused the staff of the Dhaka Medical
College Hospital (DMCH) of misconduct, regarding his hasty treatment
and discharge, and suspect that they were influenced by the military
connection of the case.

The New Age, as a national daily, constantly highlights the issues
surrounding human rights abuses in Bangladesh., with the editor, Mr.
Nurul Kabir known for his independent views, expressed in writing,
televised talk-shows and civil society meetings on the rule of law and
human rights issues. Before his torture F. M. Masum reportedly
published several articles on extrajudicial killings conducted by the
We strongly urge Mrs. Sheikh Hasina Prime Minister to take an immedate action as not only the compensation, but also the justice is required by the people of our region.


BANGLADESH: Police pressure a female victim of an acid attack to withdraw her case and marry her attacker

October 31, 2009
Faheem Aamer

Former President of National Students Federation

Name of the victim:
1. Ms. Reshma, age 18; daughter of Mr. Md. Habibullah Morol; residing in Horinkhola village under the Koyra police station in Khulna district..

Names of the alleged perpetrators:
1. Mr. Md. Abdul Hashem, Sub Inspector of Police; attached to Koyra Police Station in Khulna district at the time of the incident.
2. Mr. Kazi Daud Hossain, Inspector of Police and Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Koyra Police Station in Khulna district at the time of the incident.
3. Mr. Md. Ayub Mollah, age 20; son of Mr. Eakub Mollah; living in Ghatakhali under Koyra Police Station in Khulna district.

Date of incident: 7 May 2009
Place of incident: The victim’s home, Horinkhola village, Khulna district

I am writing to express my deepest concern over the acid attack of a teenage girl, who has since been repeatedly intimidated by the alleged attacker and police while fighting her case. I am appalled to hear that Koyra police are reportedly working to support the attacker rather than the vulnerable victim, and have pressured her to marry him. The final investigation report cleared and discharged the accused despite strong evidence linking him to the crime, and I demand to know why no action has been taken against the officer responsible.

According to the case information I have received, Mr. Ayub Mollah took to harassing and threatening Ms. Reshma (whose parents work out of the country) after a marriage refusal. The victim moved away to escape the threat, but on a brief trip back home she reports that Mr. Mollah entered the house, sexually propositioned her and threw acid at her face. She suffered burns to her face, ear and left shoulder; neighbours admitted her to the Khulna Medical College Hospital (KMCH).

However I am disturbed to hear that the complaint – drafted by the One-Stop Crisis Centre (OCC) at the KMCH on 13 Oct was not recorded. I hear that it was only lodged after a full month of pressure from civilians (FIR No. 10/09), and that officers illegally changed the date of the signed complaint.

Eyewitnesses then report that the Investigating Officer (IO), Sub Inspector (SI) Mr. Md. Abdul Hashem, went to the area of the crime-scene and accepted refreshment from Mr. Mollah, along with various other members of the ruling political party, the Bangladesh Awami League, before visiting the victim at home to insist that she withdraw her case. The SI suggested that she settle for a cash payment and, I am outraged to hear, marry Mr. Mollah for her own safety and benefit.

I hear that Mr. Mollah and his political associates have given death threats to Reshma and warned other witnesses not to testify. While she has lodged a General Diary with the Koyra police seeking protection and has been given none, the perpetrator has been granted his own form of police protection: despite strong evidence to the contrary, SI Hashem’s overdue final report in September discharged him.

I strongly urge the Bangladeshi authorities to rescue the reputation of law enforcement in this area, and give the crime the investigation it is due by law; taking particular note of the age and vulnerability of the victim. Such acid attacks against women must only be met with strong criminal sanctions if they are to be discouraged. The alleged illegal actions of the Koyra police, particularly SI Md. Abdul Hashem, must be probed and those proved guilty brought before the law and removed from their positions. As is evident from this case, the Bangladesh police require thorough reforms for the sake of the rule of law in the country.

I strongly urge  Mrs. Sheikh Hasina , Prime Minister  – Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Mr. M. M. Ruhul Amin, Chief Justice Supreme Court of Bangladesh, Barrister Shafique Ahmed, Minister
of Law, Justice & Parliamentary Affairs, Ms. Sahara Khatun MP, Home Minister, Mr. Mahbubey Alam, Attorney General of Bangladesh, Justice Amirul Kabir Chowdhury, Chairman National Human Rights Commission and Mr. Nur Mohammad Inspector General of Police to take an immediate action against this crime.

Friends, if anybody wants to make a direct appeal to the athorities, please feel free to contact us.

Communist Party of Pakistan criticizes visit of Hillary Clinton to Pakistan

October 30, 2009
National Studets Federation

Communist Party of Pakistan

The press statement on the subject “CPP criticizes visit of Hillary Clinton to Pakistan.” as issued by the Central Secretariat of the Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP) for the information of public and press is as under:-

Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP) has planned for a warm welcome to the former first lady and US Foreign Minister Hillary on her first visit to Pakistan by hoisting black flags as a token of protest but could not do so, as all the roads and cities where she is visiting are being closed.

Hillary visit here could not achieve anything in positive direction. Neither she can pacify and decrease the hatred feelings of Pakistani nation about America nor can her visit save the defeat of America and NATO forces in Afghanistan in the coming times.

All the problems which our nation is facing today are due to American policies in Pakistan. America is enemy of Muslims and Communists, whereas, we communists, wherever, they are, are not the enemies of Muslims. The Communists believes in class struggle and are fighting for Socialist system only.

These views are expressed in a policy statement by Engineer Jameel Ahmad Malik, the Chairman of CPP, here today.

In the opinion of CPP, all the terrorism in our motherland is the outcome of the policies of America and our Government since the existence of Pakistan till date; is supporting and party to the aggression of America.

Engineer Jameel stressed that our Government and Pak Army has not learnt any lesson from history and both are committing severe mistakes again and again.

The first blunder, which they committed under the direction of America, was, when our Government, Pak Army, ISI and MI promoted the philosophy of Jihad and supported Al-Queda and Taliban with all moderns and sophisticated weapons for fighting against the pro-communist regime of Afghanistan and the Communists of Russia.

But surprisingly, when these Al-Queda and Taliban are fighting against the aggression of America and NATO forces, they are now termed as a terrorist, which while fighting with the Communists were given the name of Mujahideen, which means freedom fighter.

If they were Mujahideen while fighting with the Communists of Afghanistan than how suddenly they now become terrorists while fighting against the American, who itself is the biggest known terrorist in the known history of world.

If the philosophy of Jihad against Communists were right in Afghanistan than how that philosophy of Jihad now converted into terrorism, when the same Al-Queda and Taliban are fighting for the liberation of their mother land from the clutches of American Imperialism and its NATO troops in Afghanistan.

The CPP Chairman stressed and said that in the hidden agenda, America is enemy of Muslims and Communists whereas the Communists and Communist countries are not the enemies of the Muslim Umahh.

The Communist Russia given us Steel Mill free of cost and Communist China has installed and aided a numerous projects on free aid without imposing any restrictions as was done by US in Kerry-Lugar Bill.

America is killing two birds with one stone. On one hand, she is using our Government and Pak Army and pushing them into war with their own citizens and on the other hand using them to influence its impact on the ongoing liberation war of Afghani people in Afghanistan and surprisingly this our Government and Pak Army are both doing on a very pretty price under the Kerry-Lugar Bill, which, of course is a regrettable and sad affairs on the part of our ruling elite and army.

Our Parliament unanimously passed the resolution against Drone attacks in Tribal belt but the American Imperialism and Hillary don’t cares the sanctity of our Parliament and by Drone attacks; they have killed a numerous innocent citizens of Pakistan. If this is not aggression what else is the aggression then?

The notorious Blackwater and the American bases are operating openly in Pakistan with the permission of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Government but surprisingly the Marxist Group led by Dr. Lal and Manzoor Chaudhry, who are working under the official name of Mazdoor Jeddojahd Tabqati on its Interism policy in ruling PPP are silent till date on these sensitive issues, which, otherwise are against the integrity and sovereignty of our motherland.

All the evils and problems which we are facing as a nation are the direct outcome of the policies of American Imperialism and as our all rulers till dates were and are the watch dog of American policies and so our Party don’t expect from the present Government that they will give a cold shoulder and shift its policies from the America.

The only way left for us is that we as a nation has to come out openly on streets and roads and has to protest against the aggression of American Imperialism for leaving Pakistan, otherwise, the America will not leave our motherland, these are the concluding remarks by the Chairman of CPP.


(Press Media of CPP)

UNITY IS OUR WEAPON an article from Student’s Herald

October 29, 2009
Beena Sarwar
Film maker, journalist and activist



















Contributed by : Beena Sarwar

President, Democratic Students’ Federation

As I sit to write about our glorious struggle for a better ducation and for a better future my mind is flooded with scenes – inspiring and poignant – which I will never forget. For how can I forget the mighty demonstrations of January 7 and 8, by thousands of disciplined students. How can I erase from my memory the tear-gassing, lathi-charging and firing during the three days that shook not only Karachi but the whole of Pakistan?  I can never forget the spontaneous support of the people and press of Pakistan for the right and just cause of students of Karachi.

I am writing this article with the mingled feelings of joy and grief. Joy for our great victory and grief for those who gave their lives during this painful struggle. When some day the history of the student movement will be written, as I am sure it will be, the names of those who fell martyrs will be printed in letters of gold. They will live in our memories as no one else has lived so far. Their sacrifices will always remain enshrined in our hearts.

And now when a settlement has been reached between the Prime Minister and the students I trust and hope that the authorities will do nothing which will affect the goodwill created. On our part we can assure the Prime Minister that it was never our intention to create any trouble. It is proved by the fact that despite grave provocations the students throughout the fortnight acted with restraint and showed better understanding than some of the officials of the Karachi Administration. The students appreciate that the Prime Minister eventually accepted their demands and saved the situation from taking a bad shape. However, I wish the Prime Minister could have taken personal interest in the matter before January 8 and if he had done so many precious lives would have been saved.

My idea in writing this article is to assess the situation as it stands today. For it is imperative to let you know in brief the background of the ‘Demands Day’. Since the inception of the Democratic Students’ Federation about two years ago, the DSF started drawing the attention of the authorities towards the deplorable educational condition that existed in Karachi. The DSF passed resolutions, held meetings and asked the Government to reduce the exorbitant tuition and examination fees. We asked the authorities to build more hostels and more than anything we appealed to the students to unite for fighting for their elementary rights and demands. While the authorities refused to pay any heed to what we said the students slowly and gradually started realizing their responsibility. A definite consciousness grew among them.

They started thinking as to how to get their demands conceded. They wanted to fight for their just demands but too many students’ organisations bewildered them. The official College unions were monopolised mostly by persons who just did not bother about the students’ welfare. They belonged to a class which was busy grinding its own axe.

Such was the situation till the last session. But this year things changed. Realising the fact that if their lot had to be bettered they must elect office-bearers to the unions who were their genuine representatives, they elected many honest and sincere students as office-bearers of different college unions. This was the first step in the right direction.

These elected representatives had to justify the trust reposed in them. An Inter-Collegiate Body consisting of all Vice-Presidents and General Secretaries of the Karachi College Unions was formed. It started its work and made it very clear to the Vice-Chancellor, who was all the time trying to disrupt it, that the ICB meant business.

As the days went by our campaign for better education caught momentum. In the meantime, the disruptive forces were not sitting idle. They were busy in planning and intriguing. The Vice-Presidents of Urdu and Law Colleges betrayed the students and succeeded though for a little while in misleading some other members.

In order to focus the attention of the authorities on the sorry state of affairs existing in Karachi colleges the DSF decided to observe ‘Demands Day’. Then the ICB took up this matter and in co-operation with the DSF made preparations for the day. We made repeated attempts to meet the Education Minister but on somebody’s advice he gave us a cold shoulder. Our intention was to observe  ‘Demands Day’ in the beginning of December but as the Education Minister was going to London to attend the Commonwealth Conference the ICB postponed it. What happened on January 7 and how the ICB frantically tried to meet the Education Minister is a matter of recent happening and all of us know it very well. Hence there is no need to mention in detail the events that took place during those days.

In fairness to the General Secretaries of Law College Union and Commerce College Union I must say that though they were not with us on January 7, they realised their mistake after the lathi-charge and tear-gassing of students’ procession and since then they have worked tirelessly and fearlessly for the common cause. By their work after January 7, they made amends for their past attitude which had helped only the enemies of the student movement.

However, there are some lessons that we have learnt from this struggle. The first and foremost thing is that discipline and unity in our ranks is indispensable. Never before was such unity achieved among the students as this time. The reason for this united action was that while drawing up the demands we kept one thing in view. That was the general welfare of the students. Let us always remember that if we are united and strong nothing can stop us from winning our demands. The students deserve congratulations for standing united. Attempts were made to disrupt the unity of the students by raising the communist bodey but the students saw through this oft-repeated and stale game and refused to fall a prey to it. Let us guard our unity and I may tell the students here that such vile attempts will be made in future also but they should refuse to succumb to any such move whether it comes from the Chief Commissioner of Karachi or from some so-called student leaders who after lying low for some time have already reverted to their old game.

The second lesson that we have learnt is that if our demands are just and right we will have the co-operation of the public as well as the press. In fact in addition to unity in our ranks what enabled us to win most of our demands was this support from the general public and the press.

Another important thing which emerged out of this struggle was the great role played by the High School Students’ Federation in mobilising the school students in our favour. Had it not been for the active and close co-operation of this organisation it would have been somewhat difficult for the ICB to enlist the support of school students. I am confident that the school student wil organise and strengthen this organisation which will play a great role in their own sphere. To the college students I would say, “help and encourage the school boys and they will prove great allies”.

This struggle also brought out the fact that our sisters do not lag behind. The students of Women’s College and St. Joseph’s Convent did not cooperate with us in the beginning but they came out in open support after January 7. What held them back probably was their shyness, fear and apprehension. However, the artificial wall of seclusion was swept away as the student movement marched forward. And to the surprise of many the students of Women’s College and St. Joseph’s Convent went on strike and fought against their foreign principals of both the colleges whose behaviour was anything but dignified. I request the girl students through these columns that they should not allow themselves to be rusted in the four walls of their college compounds and participate in every sphere of student life. Without them no student movement can be complete and I am confident that they will not allow their principals to stand in their way.

This struggle has also brought into the forefront the dire need of an all-Pakistan students’ organisation. The student movement is quite strong in East Pakistan and by organising a students’ organisation on an all-Pakistan basis the students of both wings can come closer, learn from each other’s experiences. The Inter-Collegiate Body has already given a call for a convention to be held very soon. We must work earnestly to make the proposed convention a success for in it lies our future welfare.

I must again congratulate the students on their great victory. Let not the lesson be forgotten that it was due to unity in our ranks that we succeeded. However, even after this victory there is no room for complacency. We have to work hard and organise the students. We have to raise our standards both mentally and materially. And for this we have to work ceaselessly. We have to keep in mind our studies also. Let no one raise his finger and say that the students of today are not very qualified. Our struggle for better studies means that we have to register an all round progress.

Last but not least we have to continue the word started by the ICB Relief Committee. We must provide financial and legal aid to the members of the public who suffered for our cause. We cannot and will not forget them.

Long Live Student Unity!

Q&A: “We Refuse to Be Held to Ransom By Terrorism”

October 29, 2009


Beena Sarwar

Film Maker, Journalist and Activist

Beena Sarwar interviews VEENA MASUD, Pakistan Women’s Swimming Association

KARACHI, Oct 29 (IPS) – Karachi-based, Trinidad-born and educated Veena Masud is a school principal who wants to see Pakistani women shine in the international sports arena.

Honorary Secretary of the Pakistan Women’s Swimming Association, president of the Sindh Women’s Swimming Association, and executive committee member of the Pakistan Olympic Association, she has cheered Pakistani swimmers as they returned to the Olympics after 40 years.

In 2004, Rubab Raza was just 13 when she won a wild card entry to Athens along with a male swimmer (Mumtaz Ahmed). She was the first female swimmer to represent Pakistan at the Olympics. Four years later at the Beijing Olympics, Kiran Khan – another wild card entrant, from Lahore – swam for her country.

Pakistani female swimmers are making a splash despite the hurdles, which include “little government support” and social conservatism, Masud tells IPS. Excerpts from an interview.

IPS: Last weekend, after schools countrywide were closed following the suicide bombing at the Islamic University in Islamabad (Oct. 20) there was a major swimming competition in Karachi. How does the ongoing violence affect sport?

VEENA MASUD: Yes, that was the 18th Sindh Women’s Swimming Championship organised by the Karachi Women’s Swimming Association. The club where the event was being held told us categorically to cancel. But our sponsor said it’s up to us. We decided to go ahead. We are not afraid, we refuse to be held to ransom by this terrorism.

The club management then said if we could arrange our own security, we could go ahead. We had a massive turnout – 280 swimmers representing 22 institutions. They bettered 30 provincial records. See, 90 percent of Pakistanis want to go forward, get on with our lives. We can’t allow this (disruption) to happen.

IPS: You were born and educated in the West Indies. How did you come to Pakistan?

VM: I came back to my roots – my grandfather (in Trinidad) told me that one of my forefathers was from Sindh; he went on a ship to the West Indies as indentured labour.

My husband (a Pakistani) and I were in London when our son was born in 1979. We moved back to Pakistan because we wanted to bring him up here. I love it; the culture is so rich, and there is so much to offer.

IPS: You are not a swimmer, how did you get involved?

A. You don’t have to be a swimmer to be a coach, or a technical official. I coached my son (Kamal Salman Masud, now 30) in swimming. Until then, the army, navy and air force swimmers won all the competitions. My son set several national records. We’d be at the pool and his (girl) friends wanted to swim competitively too. That’s how it started.

Four of us (mothers) started the Karachi Women’s Swimming Association in 1991, mindful of the confines of Islamic culture. We had great difficulty getting sponsors for the First Sindh Women’s Swimming Championship – but 75 girl swimmers competed, representing local clubs and schools.

In 1994, the then Benazir Bhutto government agreed to host the Second Islamic Women’s Solidarity Games. Iran, the initiators of these games, insisted that swimming be included. The Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) and the Pakistan Swimming Federation (PSF) asked us to form the Pakistan Women’s Swimming Association.

The games went back to Iran when Pakistan couldn’t conform to standards but we encouraged the formation of women’s swimming associations. Sindh and Punjab (provinces) did that.

Before long women swimmers from the Pakistan Navy, Pakistan Army, Wapda (Water and Power Development Authority) and NWFP (North West Frontier Province) began participating. The Balochistan Women’s Swimming Association was recently formed.

Now, we have over 300 swimmers from 30 schools and clubs around the country.

IPS: How have Pakistan’s women swimmers fared internationally?

VM: They’re improving all the time. Now a lot of our swimmers are doing ‘American A’ timings (coached by my daughter-in-law Melanie Masud, herself an ‘American A’ swimmer). They’re very tenacious and they have their parents’ support.

Fourteen of our swimmers at the Fourth Islamic Women’s Games (Tehran, September 2005), won 10 of Pakistan’s 19 medals. They came second in the swimming events and seventh among the 45 participating countries.

The introduction of the longer “fast-skin” swimming costumes made it possible for our girl swimmers to participate in international competitions. For the first time, Pakistan sent two women swimmers (Sana Wahid and Kiran Khan) to the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, July 2001.

When we convinced the Pakistan government to include women’s swimming in the 9th SAF (South Asian Federation) Games in Islamabad 2004, our girls took 14 medals, competing in the open arena on home ground for the first time.

Our swimmers returned to the Olympics after 40 years in 2004.

IPS: What about technical officials?

VM: This was initially one of our biggest drawbacks, not having any female technical officials. We have now trained up to 60 female technical officials to international standards and they are lauded everywhere. I’m really proud of our female technical officials.

Pakistan is the only South Asian country to have two female technical officials on the Asian list, and one on the international list.

All over the world women get the rough end of the stick, but we have four women out of 10 members in the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA). I was in fact the first woman inducted into the POA when the International Olympic Committee in 1992 stipulated that all national committees must have women.

IPS: What hurdles do Pakistan’s women swimmers face?

VM: First of all, there is little government support or funding. Also, swimming is still an elite sport for women, because you have to be a member of a private club to participate.

We need to push for the government to build infrastructure for swimming all over the country and take women’s swimming to the corners of Pakistan, so that Pakistani women have the opportunity to be at par with women all over the world. Then there’s the conservative mindset – many people don’t want their daughters participating in sports, or in public events.

Still, I believe that being determined and strong and tenacious will in the end bring you medals

Mitchell: Peace plan to include Syria, Lebanon

October 29, 2009
Ijaz Inayat
Rt. Rev. Ijaz Inayat

The regional agreement that the Obama administration is trying to push forward is not only about peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but also peace between Israel and both Syria and Lebanon, local daily The Jerusalem Post cited U.S. special Middle East envoy George Mitchell as reporting Thursday. 

Mitchell made the remarks during his meeting Wednesday with opposition leader Tzipi Livni that concluded two days of meetings in Israel and the Palestinian National Authority. 

After meeting with Livni, the Kadima chairwoman, Mitchell flew to Cairo. From there he will go to Lebanon on Thursday, and then continue on to Damascus Friday and Saturday for his first meetings there since taking up his position in January. 

While the State Department’s Jeffrey Feltman and the U.S. National Security Council’s Dan Shapiro have traveled to Syria twice since U.S. President Barack Obama was sworn into office in January, this will be Mitchell’s first visit to Damascus and — according to diplomatic sources — indicates an interest in involving Syria in the new U.S.-propelled process. 

Though the Bush administration appeared not too keen on encouraging Israeli-Syrian ties, it seems U.S. President Barack Obama thinks differently. 

Before Mitchell’s visit, Syrian President Bashar Assad sent out signals that he was interested in renewing negotiations with Israel through the Turks, said The Jerusalem Post. 

After Israel launched military offensive against the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in late December, Syria formally suspended indirect peace talks with the Jewish state which began last May under the mediation of Turkey. 

Syria has said it would resume indirect peace talks with Israel’ s Netanyahu government as long as they focused on a complete Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau Israel seized in 1967 and annexed in 1981 with no recognition of the international community. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had appeared cool to the idea of resuming stalled peace talks with Syria and has repeatedly voiced opposition to withdrawing from the Golan Heights, said on May 20 that his country was ready to immediately open peace talks with Syria without preconditions. 

Netanyahu made the remarks to reporters at Ben-Gurion Airport after three days of talks in Washington, including meeting with Obama. 

“I said I was ready to immediately open peace talks with the Palestinians, by the way, with the Syrians as well, of course, without preconditions,” said the prime minister, adding “But I made it clear that any peace settlement there must find a solution to Israel’s security needs.” 

Despite the U.S. interest, the Syrian signals and Netanyahu’s words, the Syrian track is not expected to play a prominent place in Netanyahu’s anxiously awaited speech on Sunday at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. 

It is not yet known whether the indirect peace talks between Israel and Syria could be resumed anytime soon. 

“Between Israel and Syria it’s all about confidence-building measures, ways to break the ice, because there is a large element of distrust and as long as there is no real belief in the true intentions of the other side, it’s impossible to negotiate,” Ronen Hoffman, an expert in strategy and tactics in political negotiations, told Xinhua.



Who will authorize the rebuilding of the Third Temple – The Islamic Mahdi, The Sanhedrin or A Prophet?

October 29, 2009
Rt. Rev. Ijaz Inayat

Bishop of Karachi - Church of Pakistan


Rt. Rev. Ijaz Inayat, the Bishop of Karachi Diocess – Church of Pakistan sent this post.




 A new Jewish interfaith initiative launched last week argues building the Third Jewish Temple in Jerusalem would not necessitate the destruction of the Dome of the Rock. 

“God’s Holy Mountain Vision” project hopes to defuse religious strife by showing that Jews’ end-of-days vision could harmoniously accommodate Islam’s present architectural hegemony on the Temple Mount. 

“This vision of religious shrines in peaceful proximity can transform the Temple Mount from a place of contention to its original sacred role as a place of worship shared by Jews, Muslims and Christians,” said Yoav Frankel, director of the initiative. 

The Interfaith Encounter Association at the Mishkenot Sha’ananim’s Konrad Adenauer Conference Center in Jerusalem is sponsoring the program, which includes interfaith study and other educational projects. 

According to Islamic tradition, the Dome of the Rock, built in 691, marks the spot where Muhammed ascended to Heaven. 

But according to Jewish tradition, Mount Moriah, now under the Dome of the Rock, is where the Temple’s Holy of Holies was situated. 

Until now Jewish tradition has assumed that destruction of the Dome of the Rock was a precondition for the building of the third and last Temple. 

However, in an article that appeared in 2007 in Tehumin, an influential journal of Jewish law, Frankel, a young scholar, presented a different option. 

His main argument is that Jewish doctrine regarding the rebuilding of the Temple emphasizes the role of a prophet. 

This prophet would have extraordinary authority, including the discretion to specify the Temple’s precise location, regardless of any diverging Jewish traditions. 

Frankel considers the scenario of a holy revelation given to an authentic prophet that the Temple be rebuilt on the current or an extended Temple Mount in peaceful proximity to the dome and other houses of prayer such as the Aksa Mosque and nearby Christian shrines. 

However, both Muslims and Jews have expressed opposition to the initiative. 

Sheikh Abdulla Nimar Darwish, founder of the Islamic Movement in Israel, said it was pointless to talk about what would happen when the mahdi, the Muslim equivalent of the messiah, would reveal himself. 

“Why are we taking upon ourselves the responsibility to decide such things?” Darwish said in a telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post. “Even Jews believe that it is prohibited to rebuild the Temple until the messiah comes. So what is there to talk about. 

“The mahdi will decide whether or not to rebuild the Temple. If he decides that it should be rebuilt, I will go out to the Temple Mount and help carry the rocks.” 

Darwish warned against any attempt to rebuild the Temple before the coming of the mahdi. 

“As long as there is a Muslim alive, no Jewish Temple will be built on Al-Haram Al-Sharif [the Temple Mount]. The status quo must be maintained, otherwise there will be bloodshed.” 

In contrast, Baruch Ben-Yosef, chairman of the Movement to Restore the Temple, made it clear that the Temple had to be built where the Dome of the Rock presently stands. 

“Anybody who says anything else simply does not know what he is talking about,” he said. “A prophet does not have the power to change the law which explicitly states the location of the Temple.” 

Ben-Yosef also rejected the idea that rebuilding of the Temple had to be done by a prophet. 

“All you need is a Sanhedrin,” he said. 

Mainstream Orthodox rabbis have opposed attempts to rebuild the Temple since the Mount came under Israeli control in 1967. 

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel even issued a decree prohibiting Jews from entering the area due to ritual purity issues. 

However, several grassroots organizations such as the Movement to Restore the Temple, and maverick rabbis, including Rabbi Israel Ariel, head of the capital’s Temple Institute and a leading member of the revived Sanhedrin led by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, have called to take steps to renew the sacrifices on the Temple Mount and rebuild the Temple.

Pakistan: What to do about Religious Fundamentalism?

October 28, 2009

spokesperson - Labour Party Pakistan




let’s deal with the ISI [Pakistani intelligence agency] and the Pakistan military and let’s go recruit these mujahideen. Here is a very strong argument which is… it wasn’t a bad investment to end the Soviet Union but let’s be careful with what we sow… because we will harvest.”  Hillary Clinton (23 April 2009)


Once again Pakistan has become the focus of world attention. Every day there is news about the latest suicide attack or military operations, with killings, injuries and displaced communities. Lately schools were ordered closed for over a week. Even children talk about death and suicidal attacks.


With over 125 police checkpoints in Islamabad, it has become a fortress city. Lahore and other large cities suffer the same fate: there are police road blockades everywhere. After each terrorist attack authorities issue another security high alert and set up additional barriers. How ironic that, until recently, officials and the media described these “terrorists” as Mujahidin fighting for an Islamic world.


Under immense pressure by Obama administration, the Pakistan government has launched a series of military operations in various parts of the country. This has lead to an unprecedented wave of killings, with hundreds of thousands more forced to leave their home for temporary shelter.


Pushed out of Afghanistan after 9/11, religious fanatics from different nationalities have found refuge in Pakistan. They have two aims: to make Pakistan more Islamic and to teach the government a lesson for its close relationship with American imperialism. However the price is paid by ordinary people.


Religious fanatics’ are new fascist. They believe in the physical elimination of their political opponents. Although they may appear to be anti-imperialist, they are not a progressive force. Instead they are an extreme right-wing force that wants to turn back the clock of the history.


The religion of the state

Pakistan is also known as Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Religion is part and parcel of the state. The constitutions and the judiciary are all beleaguered with Islamic demagogy. Most of the educational syllabus is also colored with Islamic ideology; even scientific explanations somehow manage to drag in religion.


Religion has become a way of life. Every donation to charity ends up in coffers of the religious institutions. Life without religion is unthinkable.


Although the only rational for the Pakistani state is to be a place for Muslims, it was to be a secular Muslim state. When the state was formed in 1947 the population was not fundamentalist. But as time went on Pakistan adopted an Islamic ideology that today gives these fanatics a more favorable ground for the promotion of their dream of an Islamic country.


At the end of the 1970s, with the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, Washington decided it needed to develop an indigenous counter force. In order to fight “communism” in Afghanistan, Washington worked closely with Pakistan’s military dictator, General Zia Ul Haque, and the Pakistani intelligence, the Inter-Services intelligence (ISI). There are dozens of books explaining the rise of Taliban and Mujahedeen under the direct guidance of the Americans, but the ISI had no reason to cut off the funding after the Soviet retreat in 1987. If the Americans were no longer interested in these guerillas, the ISI found these jihadis useful in its conflict with India over Kashmir.

Second, there are many religious political parties in Pakistan. Jamaati islami and Jamiat Ulmai Islam, along with other Sunni and Wahabi political parties, are all for an Islamic revolution. They also give a political support to the religious fanatics of Taliban and Alqaida.


Hillary Clinton admits American role

Even Hillary Clinton, the US foreign secretary, acknowledged Washington’s responsibility in promoting the religious fanatics. Here is her admission to a US Congressional sub-committee on April 23, 2009, that the Americans had effectively created the current disastrous situation in Afghanistan:


“It was President Reagan in partnership with Congress led by Democrats who said you know what it sounds like a pretty good idea… let’s deal with the ISI [Pakistani intelligence agency] and the Pakistan military and let’s go recruit these mujahideen. Here is a very strong argument which is… it wasn’t a bad investment to end the Soviet Union but let’s be careful with what we sow… because we will harvest.”


However, it is not only Americans that are harvesting what they have sown. Numerous Pakistani governments were ready to do whatever the Americans wanted them out of sheer financial greed. Since 1978 the different governments have all been a close US allies. This includes 20 years of military dictatorship under Zia (1977-1988) and General Musharaf (1999-2008). These various governments enabled the religious fanatics to establish religious educational institutions that have changed the country’s religious culture.


The Madrasas’ tactics

One of the main strategies used by the religious fanatics to bring jihad to the youth of Pakistan was through opening religious schools (madrasas). They mushroomed under the General Zia ul Haque dictatorship. At present, there are religious schools throughout Pakistan. Of the more than 15,000 registered madrasas, about half are in the Punjab. Experts estimate the numbers are higher: when the state tried to count them in 2005, a fifth of the area in the province refused to register.


The madrasas found a place among the working people as they were marketed as offering a free education with religious teachings. In fact, failure of the government to provide adequate resources for free public education paved the way for the progress of the madrasas. Pakistan has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world. The government spends less than 3 percent on education. Only about half of Pakistanis can read and write, far below the proportion to countries with a similar per-capita income, such as Vietnam. According to UNESCO, one out of three school-age Pakistani children does not attend school; of those who do attend, a third drop out by the fifth grade. The enrollment of girls is among the lowest in the world, lagging behind Ethiopia and Yemen.


Though madrasas make up only about 7 percent of primary schools in Pakistan, their influence are amplified by the inadequacy of public education and the innate religiosity of the countryside, where two-thirds of the population lives. These madrasas are the real breeding grounds for religious fundamentalism.


More than 15,000 registered religious seminaries in the country cater to more than 1.5 million students and over 55,000 teachers. Before 2002, according to the Religious Affairs Ministry, the number of registered madrasas in Pakistan were not more than 6,000. After 9/11, the religious fanatics who left Afghanistan came to Pakistan and with the help of the two provincial governments of religious alliance MMA, North West Frontier Province and Baluchistan; they were able to quickly establish more madrasas. By 2007 there were around 13,000 registered seminaries across the country. At this time General Musharaf was a partner in the so-called “Alliance against terrorism.” He was manipulating both the fanatics and the imperialists.


By March 2009, the number of registered madrasas in Pakistan reached 15,725.


The growth of religious fanatics

The partnership of religious fanatics with American and the Pakistani intelligence agencies went unchecked until 9/11. Then the whole scenario shifted. The Mujahedeen was labeled terrorist and America wanted a military solution to the growth of religious fundamentalism.


The growth of religious fundamentalism was not only the result of the American and Pakistani intelligence agencies but also the complete failure of the civilian and military governments to solve any of the basic problems of the working class and its allies. Successive regimes have been unable to end the grip of feudalism, the absolute exploitive nature of Pakistani capitalists and their humiliating treatment of workers and farmers, the repression of smaller nationalities and exploitation of natural resources they possessed.


The ruling class has failed miserably to bring about democratic norms. That is why whenever the civilian government was overthrown by a military dictatorship, the vast majority of the masses did not offer any resistance to dictatorship.


Establishing Islamic courts

The present civil government of the Pakistan Peoples Party has been contradictory in dealing with religious fanatics. In the Swat area, they have gone from peace talks to agreements with the fanatics to establish Islamic courts. The religious forces were decisively defeated during the general elections of 2008. Where in the 2002 general elections they received 15 percent of the vote, in 2008 they got less than three percent.


Just after the 2008 general elections, when the masses had rejected the religious forces, instead of a mass mobilization to end religious fundamentalism, the present regime opted for negotiations. This gave the fanatics an incentive to go further: they demanded Sharia laws in the Malakand division. This was accepted and an agreement signed. It was real boost for the religious fundamentalists who then went further in their attempt to control more areas and therefore giving an impression that they were not far from Islamabad.


In a panic, the regime, with full support of the Americans, went for a full military operation in the Malakand division in June 2009. The result was over 3.5 million internally displaced people and over 5000 killings. The present government boasted a military victory over the fundamentalists and then asked people to go back home. But this was not the army’s military victory but a temporary retreat of the fanatics. Able to save their infrastructure, the fanatics did what Afghan Taliban did during the October 2001 military attack. That too was a military retreat, only to re-emerge later.


The celebration of a military victory over the religious fanatics had not last even one month before the fanatics were able to attack the military’s general headquarters, the famous GHQ, along with several police training centers in different parts of the country during the month of October 2009. This month was seen as the bloodiest with killings on both sides.  


Saying there was no other option, many liberals in Pakistan have supported the military actions against the religious fanatics. But no military solution can eliminate the religious fundamentalists. It has been the case of Afghanistan and so it will be in Pakistan. It can only push them back to other areas. The religious fundamentalists have used the tactics of urban terrorism. An urban terrorism cannot be eliminated by invading areas considered to be under fundamentalists’ control. Military actions in Malakand division and now in Wazirestan have pushed the fanatics to other parts of Pakistan.


The fallacy of short-term and long-term strategies

Military solution has been presented as an immediate step to the ultimate solution to fight against fundamentalism. It is like the old Stalinist theory of minimum and maximum goals. “Demand minimum to get the maximum” was the philosophy. It was known as minimum and maximum stage of revolution. In social circles, this is been presented short-term and long-term strategies.  For them, military solution is a short-term strategy while the long-term strategy requires reforms and more development. But this is all false; it will not solve anything. This is just an excuse to please American imperialism.


There is no in between the short-term and long-term strategies. If the fight against religious fanatics has to go forward, it must begin with a revolutionary programme. It had to start with the political will to separate religion from the state. It has to deal with the question of the nature of Pakistani state. Religion cannot become the basis of a nation. Pakistan’s two nation theories were torn apart by the events of the ‘60s and ‘70s when Bangladesh came into existence. Now a more severe crisis is erupting in Baluchistan over similar lines. There is strong movement developing that calls for the independence of Baluchistan.


A whole package

There has to be a concrete programme to fight religious fundamentalism. It has to combine an immediate dealing with the suicidal attacks and curbing the activities of the fascist forces from their strongholds along with an overall plan of action in economic, political and social fields. This should include the nationalization of religious madrasas and retraining of teachers. It should include an immediate increase in workers’ wages in both the private and public sector to at least 12,000 Rupees a month.


All discriminatory laws must go and all citizens of Pakistan should enjoy equal constitutional status. At present there are several laws that make religious minorities second-rate citizens. The government should be committed to fully back local resistance to the religious fanatic. Civil society organizations in the stronghold of the religious fundamentalists should be given full backing by the state so that they can function. The state must help to strengthen and sustain the local defense committees to fight the religious fanatics.


All trade union rights must be restored in all the public and private sector with full freedom of speech and gatherings. The present civilian seeks military solutions. Most of the discriminatory laws are still intact, including the blasphemy laws. The government has no plan to do away with these discriminatory laws promulgated under military dictatorships so the organizations of civil society must demand governmental action to restore rights.


The forces of religious fundamentalism organize on an international basis. A fight against them has to be organized at that same level. The Americans’ “war on terror” is fueling more religious fundamentalism. It is seen as a war on Muslims. The occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan by the imperialist forces is providing the religious fanatics a political justification for their terrorist activities.


Clearly occupation must end. The campaign to end the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and no support to the fanatics can be the basis for a united action of progressive forces internationally. The campaign against religious fundamentalism must be part and parcel of an anti-globalization campaign by all progressive forces.

We must oppose both occupation and religious fundamentalism.


No support to one against the other. The fight between the religious fundamentalism and the imperialists is a fight between bulls. There is not much to gain in siding with one against the other, but to end the fight and open the space to create an alternative way of living.


Farooq Tariq spokesperson
Labour Party Pakistan

Pakistan: Will a corrupt judiciary, corrupt civil politcians and a rotten system will give justice to a 16 years old girl raped by strong PML-Q leaders?

October 23, 2009
Former President of National Students Federation

Former President of National Students Federation


I am writing to express my deep concern regarding the inaction by
Saddar police regarding the gang rape of a 16-year-old girl. I am
horrified to hear that officers are instead supporting an illegal out
of court settlement with those accused.

According to Miss Ruby Perveen, she was kidnapped at gunpoint and gang
raped by five men, some of whom had been following and taunting her
for a number of days. Three of the men – Mr. Qiaser Shahzad, Mr.
Adeel Shahzad and Mr. Irshad (known as Shada) – are the sons of a
powerful landlord, who leads the local PML-Q, a political party. Her
father claims that he alerted emergency services but could not get
police assistance. The next day Ruby was found semi conscious at a bus
stand in Shumali (North) Sargodha.

I understand that Ruby’s mother Ramzan Bibi was not able to get help
from the Saddar police until she asked for the help of an assembly
member, and registered FIR 615/09. Yet no arrests were made and the
family later discovered that some of the accused men had applied for
and been granted interim bail from Mr. Samar Hyat Gondal, the
Additional Session Judge in Sargodha on 22 October. This appears to
have been granted with little consideration for the victim and I have
been told that the FIR was not presented to the judge, who simply
accepted the accused men’s promise that an out of court settlement was
being arranged. One perpetrator, Qaiser Shahzad, did not consider it
necessary to apply for such bail, and no attempts have been made to
arrest him.

Officers involved have claimed that a settlement is being arranged but
Ruby’s family have reported that they do not want to settle and have
not been given that option. Such a settlement would be clearly illegal
under Pakistan law. I am shocked that it is being entertained.

Furthermore, the medical checkup for the victim was not automatically
ordered, as the law requires. The family pursued the check up and DNA
test themselves, which was authorised by Dr Usman Anwer, the district
police officer (DPO) in Sargodha. Yet though a DNA test should also be
carried out on the accused, the suspects have not been tested and
police have told that such a test is not necessary due to the
upcoming settlement.

As you must be aware, immeasurable damage is done to the rule of law
and the complaints procedure when monetary settlement becomes an
acceptable response to crime, and when victims can be pressured and
threatened into settling cases. As the rape of a minor, this crime
should also have warranted extra care, responsibility and a sense of
particular urgency from the judge and the local police, none of whom
appear to have acted in accordance with the Convention on the Rights
of the Child, ratified by Pakistan in 1990.

Finally I hear that journalists have complained that they have been
pressured into withdrawing negative coverage of the case by PML-Q
members, which is a matter that deserves serious attention.

I urge that this case be taken swiftly through the appropriate legal
channels and that protection and redress is provided for the young
rape victim and her family. The first clear step would be to arrest
those who she has accused of her rape, regardless of the political
power they may wield. Please also ensure that the negligent officers
in this case be thoroughly investigated and disciplined or charged

I urge Chief Justice of Pakistan to take a strict action against the Bench Officers who have made law a joke for the litigants and yet have kept the the justice hostage in the hnads of the powerful people.

I also wanted to urge to the Prime Minister and the Mr. Rehman Malik, But I feel that their is no need of it as they have much more things to do other than the actual issues being born by the people.

I wanted t urge my appeal to the Chief Minister Punjab, but whe I see that the victims of Patoki Case are at large under their protection, probably they also won’t have much time for a gang raped child.

So I urge the people opf Pakistan toi undestand these so called civil political leaders, who can not see beyon the tip of their nose. I urge the people of Pakistan to uite against these exploiting classes and le them know that we the people are the real power who can bring justice to this system.

PHILIPPINES: Military style intimidation tactics are being used

October 23, 2009
Former President National Students Federation

Former President National Students Federation

KNOWLEDGE                               STRUGGLE                                   VICTORY

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the surveillance and
intimidation tactics being used against volunteers at the Cebu Center
for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) by men that are suspected to
be from the military.

I have learnt that since late September various men have been taking
pictures and videos of people coming in and out of the CTUHR Cebu
Center in Lapu-lapu city, (Visayas island). It is alleged that these
men, suspected to be military and who appear to be armed, have been
taking turns watching the only entry to and exit from the CTUHR
private compound.

On October 2 a volunteer and human rights defender at CTUHR who
assists workers of the nearby Mactan Export Processing Zone (MEPZ) and
who works with victims of demolitions in the surrounding zone,
reported that a man sat outside for about half day at a table, taking
photographs of people coming in and out of the office. . Late that
night the volunteer was called to by three men near the compound,
raising his fears that he was being targeted.

CTUHR Workers Center started operation in April this year, but its
staff and volunteers have facilitated training and basic human rights
. The Center also supports the activities of Unity for
Workers Rights (U4WR) – an organization of workers and workers rights
advocates which was established in February this year.

Considering the lamentably long and strong history of violence waged
by the state against human rights defenders and labour rights
activists in the Philippines, I am sure you understood the threat
posed by any kind of military-style surveillance techniques. Please
ensure the protection and support of these civilians by initiating
thorough investigations into the threat.

I strongly urge the gvernment of Philippines to take a strict action and urge our Foreign Minister to bring this on a diplomatic level. 

Plus I suggest all my friends to PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo


Republic of the Philippines

Malacanang Palace

JP Laurel Street, San Miguel

Manila 1005


Fax: +63 2 736 1010

Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80

E-mail: <>

2. Ms. Leila De Lima


Commission on Human Rights

SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue

U.P. Complex, Diliman

Quezon City


Fax: +63 2 929 0102

Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188

E-mail: <>
or <>

3. Deputy Director General Jesus A. Verzosa

Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP)

Camp General Rafael Crame

Quezon City


Fax: +63 2724 8763

Tel: +63 2 726 4361/4366/8763

E-mail: <>

4. Ms. Agnes Devanadera


Department of Justice (DoJ)

DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura

1004 Manila


Fax: +63 2 521 1614

E-mail: <>

5. Lieutenant General Victor S. Ibrado

Chief of Staff

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)

AFP-GHQ Offices, Camp Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo

Quezon City


Fax: +63 2 911 6436

Tel: +63 2 911 6001 to 50

6. Mr. Emilio Gonzalez

Deputy Ombudsman

Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military

and Other Law Enforcement Offices

3rd Floor, Ombudsman Bldg., Agham Road, Diliman

1104 Quezon City


Fax: +63 2 926 8747

Tel: +63 2 926 9032

Thank you.