Writing letters no more

Cross post: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/11/03/comment/writing-letters-no-more/


The art seems to have died, no thanks to technology


In the soft sunlight of winters, sunning in the back verandah, one could hear the sharp sound of the cycle bell and the doorbell that sounded as the postman pushed the mail with a promising ‘sshhhhh’ sound from under the main door. The pale blue pre-stamped envelopes or the white ones with square brown stamps affixed to them, lying on the floor and sent from assorted cousins and my father’s brothers, both abroad. In case of the latter, the brighter pink stamps showing the face of the queen with her crown, a half faded stamp across her face. Stamps that I would later carefully take off the envelopes and put away in a diary.

Writing of letters takes my mind to Mirza Ghalib, Jane Austen, Paul of Tarsus to name a few. What pieces of art! I especially love one by Mirza Ghalib, written to Munshi Hargopal Tufta, part of which I reproduce, “There is a new phrase in vogue these days — the newnawabs — and it is in common use for both Hindus and Muslims. What happens is that when a man of means dies, his son inherits his wealth. He is surrounded by sycophants, and these despicable people start fawning on him. They tell him that “such and such courtesan is dying for you, such and such nobleman wants to invite you to his palace. It is but fair that you send for that courtesan and invite the noble to your house. This is how one should live. No one takes his riches to the next world. Did your late father take anything with him that you will take yours with you?”

I used to be a phenomenal letter writer in my young age. My desire to virtuously travel to other countries led me to make pen pals from other countries, across cultures. I remember one pen pal Ann from America with particular fondness; I still have most of those letters. Beautiful glimpses in an unseen world. A part of preserving history. I loved the feel of writing on papers. Either white or pale blue, no margins. A soft gloss to the surface that made the pen flow. Later, to cater to different tastes many types of letter writing pads found their way in the market. These ranged from tasteful variety from the one with white background and a delicate blue forget-me-not at one side to pale pink paper turning into darker pink at the other end, cluttered with flying doves, multi coloured butterflies and in some designs with Urdu verses, the type one usually reads on colourful Pakistani trucks. One verse I recall clearly in spite of the decades that have slipped by:

Kal chodween ki raat thi balti mein tera aks dekha,

Aur phir balti hila hila kar rat bhar tera raks dekha

I never met Begum Hafiza, my paternal grandmother, the granddaughter of the Nawab of Gandara. A woman of reputed startling beauty with a height of five feet and ten inches. She was married to my grandfather Syed Yousuf Ali, a Judge from Hyderabad Deccan, three inches shorter to her in height.

He was the scion of the family of Hazrat Syed Shah Abdul Razaqq Banswi of Bansa Sharif to whom the House of Farangi Mahal were designated Khalifas.

She died an early death, way before my father was married. My father, and his two brothers, were brought up by my eccentric grandfather in a house with no female presence. I came to know this amazing woman through her letters written to my father. At that time, she was still in Hyderabad Deccan with her husband and my father had come to Pakistan to look for a job. A young man in his early twenties. Going through my father’s library, I came across the bundle of letters that revealed my grandmother to me. The family politics. I laughed, I cried and smiled as I read those letters. To this day, they remain a cherished possession, locked away in a box that originally belonged to my paternal grandfather. Her love for my father, whom she called Chand, and Chand he remained for the rest of his life, reflected itself in her writings. Every four days delay from my father in sending a letter to her merited at least two from her expressing her concern at the delay. Though these letters may not amount to much for others, it introduced to me my grandmother, her strong likes and dislikes and the strength of her character.

Jane Austen was a prodigious letter writer. Most of those that survived are addressed to her much loved sister Cassandra. Most of her letters are deposited at The Morgan, and the department of Literary and Historical Manuscripts has nearly two-thirds of her letters. Laura Boyle traces the exquisite history of love letters and talks at length about them in her beautifully written piece, The History of Love Letters. She writes, “The nineteenth century spawned the great private love letters of Beethovan to his “Immortal Beloved”, as well as the literary romance of poets Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett.”

Sa’adat Hasan Manto’s first letter to Jawahar Lal Nehru is a piece of art. I share an excerpt:

“Pundit-ji, this is the season for babbogoshas. I’ve eaten lots of goshas, but I long to eatbabbogoshas. What injustice that you’ve given Bakshi all the rights over them and he does not send me even a few as a gift! Well, let the gift go to hell, babbogoshas too… No, on a second thought, let them be. Actually, I wanted to ask you: Why don’t you read my books? If you’ve read them, I’m sorry to say that you’ve never appreciated them. However, it is more regrettable if you have not read them at all, because you are a writer yourself.

“I have one more grievance against you. You’re stopping water from flowing in our rivers, and taking a cue from you, the publishers in your capital are hurriedly publishing my books without my permission. Is this proper? I thought that no such unseemly act could be perpetrated under your regime. You can find out right away how many publishers in Delhi, Lucknow, and Jallundhar have pirated my books. Several suits have already been filed against me on charges of obscenity. But look at the injustice that in Delhi, right under your nose, a publisher brings out the collection of my stories and calls it The Obscene Stories of Manto.”

The letter is tongue-in-cheek, naughty and pinches where it is supposed to pinch.

As we live in a digital age, the letters are no more. E-mails, WhatsApp, Viber etc have uprooted letter writing. Whereas geographically these forms of digital communication have brought people closer, it has taken away for us a part of our self, our roots. I read somewhere and completely agree with the thought, “Loquacious letters and epistolary exchanges between authors are falling by the wayside in the digital age – and readers and literary estates are all the poorer for it.”

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.’ She can be contacted at: yasmeenali62@gmail.com and tweets at @yasmeen_9.

Changing face of South Asia

Cross post: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/10/27/comment/changing-face-of-south-asia/


The nexus between America and India


‘The United States, which once considered Pakistan a ‘corner stone’ of its foreign policy seems to have shifted the balance towards India. There are speculations that US may soon, or may already have, “outsourced” the management of its South Asian Security Policy to India. India may have been tasked to ‘guard the US interests’ in South and East Asian regions, against a common adversary, China. If this is true then the concern is far more serious for India’s neighbours in the region. South Asian analysts believe if India has agreed to play this role in the region, then the US must have offered her incentives, obviously of strategic nature. And that might have links to the reference of ‘Kashmir’ and ‘Pakistan’ in their joint communiqué.” (Editorial, Weekly Pulse October 13-19) The joint communiqué refers to the official joint statement released on the Indian Prime Minister’s recent visit to the US.

We need to look at this opinion closely and in detail. Security issues were the high point of the meeting between Barack Obama and Narendra Modi. The 2005 Framework on Defence, originally signed between Manmohan Singh and George Bush, was given a new lease of life by the current Prime Minister of India and US President. Issues of “defence technology transfers, trade, research, co-production, and co-development” have been given weightage between the two.

India’s focus to “Act East” brings up an interesting preposition: Does this indicate a meeting between America, India and Japan? America and Japan are strategic allies whereas Japan and India enjoy a Strategic Global Partnership focused more on maritime activities.

America also agrees to provide vehicles to India that are not only mine resistant but also ambush protected. This comes on the heels of America closing a deal to sell 160 similar machines to Pakistan. Does this mean India’s Prime Minister jealously brought up the deal with Pakistan to curry a similar deal? Probably yes.

There have been talks between both the leaders on “dismantling terrorists, criminal networks and safe havens”. Only a day following the joint communiqué, America announced her decision to freeze assets of at least two of Pakistan based terror organisations: the first being Harkatul Mujahideen and the second being Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Earlier, in August 2014, Chuck Hagel had visited India for three days, a follow up to John Kerry’s visit as well as a trip by US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “In one masterstroke, Kerry solved the highly emotive issue of the denial of visa by dismissing it as a decision taken by a previous government, thus distancing Obama from any “Modiphobia”. Modi himself had never played it up as an impediment and now it has become a non-issue. The snooping issue was similarly dealt with in a forthright manner, with Swaraj insisting that it was not acceptable and Kerry giving assurances of non-intervention without discussing intelligence matters. Swaraj did not provide any alibi for the US in the name of anti-terrorism measures, as her predecessor did on an earlier occasion.” (TP Sreenivasan, Former Ambassador of India)

The signal is clear. It’s green. It indicates America’s renewed interest in India. Chuck Hagel’s main agenda was to help move both countries closer. “India is likely to buy Apache gunships and 22 Chinook attack helicopters, both built by Boeing. The deals are expected to feature in Mr Hagel’s meetings with Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha. Sources say Mr Hagel hopes to persuade India into a follow-on order of 39 AH-64D Apache helicopters in addition to the 22 now being negotiated. The two sides have been wrangling over the price of the gunships, with the initial deal having been estimated to be worth $1.4 billion. The initial batch of Apache helicopters is meant to replace the Indian Air Force’s ageing fleet of Soviet-era aircrafts and will be armed with Hellfire and Stinger missiles.

“The Indian Army has separately requested a fleet of at least 39 of these attack aircrafts, some of which will be deployed as part of a new mountain strike corps it is raising along the disputed border with China, an army official said. The two sides are also in talks to finalise a contract for the Indian Air Force to buy 15 CH-47F Chinooks, a twin-rotor helicopter capable of lifting heavy loads, also valued at $1.4 billion. The Cabinet has just cleared a proposal to allow 49 percent foreign participation in the defence industry, up from a current cap of 26 percent, in a bid to boost local manufacturing and end a long dependence on overseas acquisitions that made India the world’s biggest arms importer in recent years.” (NDTV, August 08, 2014)

“Leadership in South Asia is, of course, just one part of India’s increasingly important global role. As India is both a rising power and a democracy, we in Washington view its growing influence in the world as broadly congruent with US interests. Both countries seek to promote democratic principles and institutions around the world because we know that stable democracies are largely peaceful and better able to manage the consequences of globalisation. Whether it comes to ensuring that China’s rise is peaceful or preventing the Muslim world from turning its back on modernity or stopping rising economies from being ruined by rising temperatures, it is hard to think of two other countries with as much at stake or as much to offer to global stability.” (Nicholas Burns, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs writing for Foreign Affairs).

He goes on to write, “Meanwhile, the United States and India must also achieve more advanced cooperation on counterterrorism, intelligence, and law enforcement, based on the recognition that terrorism is a central threat to both countries. This means, among other things, working more closely to disrupt the flow of funds to terrorists. We also urge India to participate in our Container Security Initiative (which, among other things, allows the United States to check suspect US-bound cargo containers at their foreign ports of departure) and to unleash its proven expertise in information technology to meet a new generation of threats from cyberspace.”(November-December 2007 issue)

More recently, Indian-American Sampat Shivangi has been appointed as the Chairman of the Mississippi Board of Mental Health, making him the first Asian to occupy the top health post in the southern American state, announced The Times of India on July 25, 2014. His credentials notwithstanding, it’s not the appointment but the timing of the appointment that makes it interesting. Further, Anita M Singh, who previously worked at the White House on cyber-related issues, has been appointed the Chief of Staff and Counselor in the National Security Division of the US Justice Department. As NSD’s Chief of Staff, Singh will focus on strategic management issues including the design of structural changes to support work in emerging threat areas, according to a statement from the Justice Department, says TheTimes of India. (Oct 22, 2014) My observation remains the same as in the case of appointment of Sampat Sivangi.

Is the Editorial of Pulse right after all in stating that the US may soon, or may already have, “outsourced” the management of its South Asian Security Policy to India?

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.’ She can be contacted at: yasmeenali62@gmail.com and tweets at @yasmeen_9.

Are you funding the ISIS?

Cross post: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/10/20/comment/are-you-funding-the-isis/


Who is behind it?


Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh’s New Yorker article titled, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?”, and quoted by Tony Cartalucci in his piece, says:

“To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organisation that is backed by Iran. The US has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”

Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer Tony Cartalucci, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook concludes his article with, “While the US downplays the sectarian aspects of ISIS’s invasion of Iraq before global audiences, its propaganda machine across the Middle East, assisted by Doha and Riyadh, is stoking sectarian tensions. The ISIS has committed itself to a campaign of over-the-top sectarian vitriol and atrocities solely designed to trigger a wider Sunni-Shia’a conflict.” (Published June 18 2014 by Global Research)

Renowned writer Aryn Baker writing for Time in her article published on July 19, 2014, titled ‘Why Iran Believes the Militant Group ISIS Is an American Plot’, says, “In its previous incarnation as an Iraqi al-Qaeda affiliate, ISIS has been responsible for thousands of Shi‘ite deaths in terrorist attacks since its formation in 2003. The group’s current success in Iraq — by some estimates it now controls a third of Iraq’s territory, including the city of Mosul — has as much to do with its considerable funding and military prowess as it does the weaknesses of the Iraqi state, led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, an Iranian-backed Shi‘ite who has alienated Iraq’s large Sunni minority.”

The writer goes on to state, “Yet Iranian government officials refuse to accept that there is a sectarian root to ISIS’s agenda, or that ISIS was able to advance in part because of Sunni discontent. When American leaders suggested that al-Maliki’s Shi‘ite chauvinism may have played a role in rallying Sunni support for the ISIS advance into Iraq, and suggested he step down, Iranians saw it as a direct threat to their influence… Instead Iran has declared the group a region-wide terrorist threat that funded and peopled by outsiders, including the US, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies.”

The key question that caught my eye here was ISIS’ considerable funding and military prowess. How difficult can it be to trace the chain of funding? To determine who is funding whom?

However, sometimes this may not be as easy as it sounds, according to David Palllister forThe Guardian (February 8, 2007) who in a stunning expose, shares, “The US flew nearly $12bn in shrink-wrapped $100 bills into Iraq, then distributed the cash with no proper control over who was receiving it and how it was being spent. The staggering scale of the biggest transfer of cash in the history of the Federal Reserve has been graphically laid bare by a US Congressional Committee… The memorandum details the casual manner in which the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority disbursed the money, which came from Iraqi oil sales, surplus funds from the UN oil-for-food programme and seized Iraqi assets. The minutes from a May 2004 CPA meeting reveal “a single disbursement of $500m in security funding labelled merely ‘TBD’, meaning ‘to be determined’.”

This does NOT mean that the US is involved in funding ISIS but the example is used to show how sheer carelessness and in other cases deliberate cleverness can be used to cover the funding trail.

Yet again, the finger is pointed towards some rich Qataris ensuring a steady supply of funds to the ISIS: “Former US Navy Admiral and NATO Supreme Commander James Stavridis says the cash flow from private donors is significant now and was even more significant in the early fundraising done by ISIS and al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, the al-Nusrah Front,” says Robert Windrem for NBC News. According to the report, ISIS is making $1 million per day from all its sources. US officials believe that it is the oil smuggling adjacent to the border of Turkey yields the largest income to the group. The ISIS had taken over the Iraqi and Syrian oilfields offering barrel price of oil as ridiculously low as $25 per unit. There is a deep end to this, says Luay al-Khatteeb for CNN, “ISIS controls smuggling routes and the crude transported by tankers to Jordan via Anbar province, to Iran via Kurdistan, to Turkey via Mosul, to Syria’s local market and to the Kurdistan region of Iraq, where most of it gets refined locally.”

A June 18, 2014, news by The Telegraph says that the major haul of ISIS income comes from smuggling of antiques and funds coming in from oil sales. Plus, of course, acquiring towns in Iraq has helped ISIS take over American made ammunition and supplies. “Everybody knows the money is going through Kuwait and that it’s coming from the Arab Gulf,” said Andrew Tabler, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Kuwait’s banking system and its money changers have long been a huge problem because they are a major conduit for money to extremist groups in Syria and now Iraq.” (The Daily Beast)

If these claims are true why can the sources be not capped? What stops powerful states like US, UK and others who can invade nations to impose embargos and use the multifaceted tools to ensure the cash flow trickles down to a stop? A report states Turkey, Qatar and Kuwait as supporting and funding ISIS. Wait a minute, are they not allies to USA?

A report states, “Another constructive move would be to gauge the potential for altering Washington’s contentious dynamics with Kuwait and Qatar regarding terrorism financing. There are signs that ISIS’ “successes” may fuel higher levels of private Saudi and other Gulf support to a variety of Sunni extremist groups operating in Iraq and Syria, which would be important to counter. At the same time, the current reality — that of ISIS acquiring major independent sources of income — demands a counter-terrorism financing approach that shifts away from focusing on private donations made by residents of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. Significantly undermining ISIS’s financial base would now require rolling back the group’s access to local Syrian and Iraqi income sources.”

The key is to develop a counter-terrorism strategy that not only meets ISIS on its terrorism based tactics but also drains their sources. Unfortunately, there seems to be a deficit of long term understanding of the fallout effects of shortsighted policies carried out individually and nationally.

Apparently, as the treatment requires long term and persistently focused implementation, no such strategy is being pursed. Therefore the disease is being treated symptomatically at best. This will not work.

Outlining history of Poonch

Cross post: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/10/13/comment/outlining-history-of-poonch/


A friend on Twitter posted on my timeline the following question: ‘Why 110km long border (Poonch Sector) in Kashmir is getting hot? Any idea?’ The amazing lack of being in touch with one’s roots never fails to horrify me. How can one form an opinion without knowing the historical background? What is the present but a continuation of yesterday and the history of tomorrow?

It was the Rajas of Loran who ruled Poonch. Poonch, also known as the City of Sufi Saints, boasts of a well-known name of Hazrat Doda Pir whose Urs attracts thousands. In 1848, however, Poonch was made part of the parcel transferred to Maharaja Gulab Singh under the Treaty of Amritsar. Prior to this handing over, it was a part of the Lahore district. Poonch suffered from repressive Dogra rule of the Hindu Maharajas, in particular the Muslims of the area. Poonch is bound by Line of Control on three sides. In 1947 it was split in two, one part each going to India and Pakistan.

Currently, the Poonch district in India is divided into four tehsils i.e., Surankote, Mendhar, Haveli and Mandi.

Christopher Snedden, an Australian politico-strategic analyst, author, and academic specialising in South Asia, in his very interesting book ‘Kashmir: The Unwritten History’states, “The Poonch uprising has been ‘glossed over in virtually all accounts of the origins of the Kashmir dispute’. This serious and significant anti-Maharaja uprising by Muslims living in Poonch was a response to a number of factors. These included their dislike of the Hindu Maharaja and his repressive regime, their need to obtain protection from some anti-Muslim activities that the Maharaja’s army engaged in soon after Partition, and their desire for J&K to join Pakistan. Additional factors included the provocative stationing of Dogra forces in Poonch in 1947, the ‘invasion of Jammu by Sikhs’ and other militant non-Muslims after partition, and disenchantment with the corruption surrounding an unpaid per capita grant for personnel who had served in the Indian Army or the Labour Corps during World War II (while they were barred from serving in the Maharaja’s army).

A further factor concerned the Poonchis’ weakening ability to defend themselves. Hari Singh was aware that many more Poonchis and Mirpuris had military capabilities and experience than the numbers serving in his army. He also had been ‘specially impressed and alarmed’ by a gathering of some 40,000 men, ‘almost all ex-servicemen of the British Army from Sudhnutti and Bagh Tehsils of Poonch, assembled to greet him on April 21, 1947, at Rawalakot during his tour of the ‘frontier areas’ of J&K. In July 1947, the ‘spooked’ Maharaja’s government ‘encouraged’ military-capable Poonchis and Mirpuris to disarm, including those ‘on leave with arms and ammunition’ from the Pakistan Army. These Muslims then became ‘alarmed’ when the J&K Police, with whom they had deposited their arms, redistributed these to Sikhs and Hindus for self-defence.

A further factor motivating Poonchis was the creation of Pakistan and the Maharaja’s reaction to their support for it. The transfer of British power to the new dominions of India and Pakistan, coupled with Hari Singh’s vacillation on the accession, inspired much interest, even fervour, among the people of J&K. In Poonch, many people were already identifying themselves with Pakistan. From 14 August, the day before Pakistan became a legal entity and a physical reality, pro-Pakistan, anti-Maharaja meetings took place in Poonch, even though public meetings were banned. Many Poonchis declared their desire for J&K to join Pakistan, particularly on ‘Pakistan Day’ (14 August, 1947) when they raised Pakistan flags and supported the Muslim Conference’s (by now unequivocal) pro-Pakistan stance.”

Accusations by India that the Poonch uprising was supported by Pakistan were incorrect and false as pointed out by Snedden, “Geography also suggests that the Poonch uprising was an indigenous affair. The region that Poonchis inhabited was a remote, highland area, difficult to access. The jagir was east of the border created by the Jhelum River, which, flowing southwards from a point west of Muzaffarabad to near Mirpur town, physically separated Pakistan and J&K. Poonch was much higher and more difficult to enter than the undulating Mirpur lowlands at the end of the Punjab plains. After crossing of the Jhelum at Kohala, ‘the mountains of Poonch rise very steeply’. Furthermore, a person seeking to enter Poonch surreptitiously needed to secure transport to cross the swift-flowing Jhelum and avoid Kohala bridge, which the Maharaja’s armed forces guarded. These forces made the task even more difficult when they ‘cut off Poonch from direct communication with Pakistan’ by destroying the six ferries that facilitated Jhelum crossings.”

Hari Singh was indecisive and could not decide between aligning with either India or Pakistan. Therefore, he decided to maintain a temporary status quo signing an agreement with Pakistan to maintain different services including the transport service. Vernon Herwitt in “Kashmir, the Unanswered Question” is of the view that Hari Singh wanted to create an independent state joining neither of the two.

In the meanwhile, Lord Mountbatten who at the time was serving as India’s Governor-General, in his infinite wisdom (or lack of it) decided that Kashmir must join Indiatemporarily for peace. It was determined a vote of deciding upon the long-term status would follow later. Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession soon after. By so doing, he effectively handed over control of defence and foreign policy to India. India took over the major part of the territory whereas Pakistan was left with a small northern area.

The question forming the core dispute is whether the Indian troops arrived first making Hari Singh’s signing of the Instrument an unavoidable action directed by force or signing of the Instrument was followed by coming of the Indian forces.

However, both views ignore the core issue which in my considered opinion is that the Instrument of Accession in either case was a temporary measure to be followed by a vote to determine its long term future.

Therefore, Pakistan’s demand that a referendum must be held is a valid demand. Will India acquiesce to the demand? Obviously not. Vernon Herwitt writes: “The Indian emphasis upon the Instrument of Accession was weakened almost immediately by their decision to hold a referendum to ratify the decision of the Maharaja. The decision is revealing in the sense that both Nehru and apparently Mountbatten felt that ‘in the case of any state where the Instrument of Accession has been the subject of dispute [sic], the question of accession should be decided in accordance with the wishes of the people’. In his reply to Hari Singh’s letter asking for military help from India, Mountbatten noted that ‘It is my government’s wish that as soon as law and order have been restored in Kashmir, the question of the state’s accession was itself the subject of a dispute, and that some form of election was needed to further — and perhaps critically — legitimise the instrument of Accession. Following India’s referral of the case to the United Nations, the UN-sponsored ceasefire of 1949 and the establishment of a ceasefire line, India and Pakistan sat down to discuss the terms of the proposed referendum. However, the necessary conditions to ensure a free and fair result were never agreed.”

An interesting article by Dr Shabbir Chaudhry talks at length of Hari Singh’s priceless treasures, calculated in 2011 at Rs100 crore. “The treasure was reported to be in the custody of the Srinagar administration till 1981 in six huge steel boxes under the direct control of the then treasurer Dewan Iqbal Nath.” (May 11, 2011) According to Dr Chaudhry, ‘In 1963, two boxes — box number 3 and 5 — containing nearly 717kg of gold (worth today Rs60 crore) were “donated” from the treasure for the Defence Fund started by the Government of India to fight the Chinese.’

Chinese Author Li Peng rightly states, “As a historical legacy, the Kashmir conflict has been an outstanding issue for more than half a century.”

Seems like the conflict will continue for the years to come.

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.’ She can be contacted at: yasmeenali62@gmail.com and tweets at @yasmeen_9.

Freedom of expression and speech: an absolute right? (Part II)

To read Part I please click on the link:   https://pakpotpourri2.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/freedom-of-expression-and-speech-an-absolute-right-part-1/

This is a cross post from Pulse Weekly

By: Yasmeen Aftab Ali ArticleYAA

Obscenity generally may be described as disgusting and in violation of standards acceptable in a given society of decency or morality. Obscenity differs from culture to culture, even in the same culture; it is different from one geographical area to the other. Or, different during different times in the same country, province, area. This is especially true of developing nations like Pakistan, where norms, life styles, dressing, etc are completely different in rural areas as compared to urban areas. One may not be obscene in garb of freedom of expression. In any liberal society we must determine the boundaries to a right. If all limitations from freedom of speech are removed, as clamored for by certain sections of societies, does this mean, we endorse pornography? Does this then endorse, a lifestyle, dressing et al in complete contempt of the value structure on which our society is built? Does this mean obscenity in behavior becomes acceptable? On the other hand; who defines obscenity/vulgarity? It has certainly not been done so in our laws dealing with freedom of expression and speech. What may be obscene to one person may not be obscene to another person coming from a different spectrum of the same society. What then, is the benchmark to determine whether or not a programme is obscene?

A list of 1500 words were sent to the three largest mobile carriers by The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). “The list includes many crude and sexual terms that the government is attempting to root out as part of a 1996 ban on transmitting information through telephone systems that is “indecent or obscene.” (Times News Feed titled “Purity in Pakistan: Government Bans Text Messages with Obscenity” by Nick Carbone published 19th November 2011)  PTA banned pornographic websites in Pakistan in January 2012. According to SITE News Pakistan,“PTA has provided a list to the ISP’s in Pakistan to block the frequently accessed adult sites. It is believed that more web pages will be added to the initial banned list of 1,000 websites and as many as 170,000 websites may be banned in the near future.”(Published on News Pakistan by 23rd January 2012)

In Butler v. State of Michigan court made it a misdemeanor to sell or make available to the general reading public any book containing obscene language “tending to the corruption of the morals of youth” violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”352. U.S 380(1957).Thereby creating a clear benchmark, “tending to the corruption of the morals of youth.”

Fundamental to protect human rights is the underlying principle of awarding dignity and equality to all. Being sensitive to the religious feelings of others. Dr. Agnes Callamard states in his article, “States may, but are not required to introduce legislation on blasphemy. Several established democracies still have blasphemy provisions on the books, although most of these are rarely, if ever, used. In the United Kingdom, for example, there have been only two prosecutions for blasphemy since 1923. Norway saw its last case in 1936 and Denmark in 1938.” (Article published in Equal Voices, magazine for European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), Issue, 18th June 2006)

The universe is full of people with diverse beliefs. Religions are many, followers of each religion believes they follow the “best” one. Irrespective of whether someone is a Muslim, a Christian, an Atheist, so on and so forth, the best course of action to maintain peace and harmony is to be respectful towards the other’s beliefs. As we would want respect to be shown to ours. Why hurt feelings and create a chain reaction that may gather speed and erupt like a volcano? And like a volcano, destroy everything that comes its way.

The list of limitations is by no means exhausted and includes copyrights and patents .Any logo, product name, patent product by a company, may not be used by another in exercise of right of freedom of expression. Copyright laws are governed by legal doctrines for example Anti-Trust Law in US (1995) and Competition Laws in the European Union. Each country has its own set of copyright laws.

Accountability is difficult in societies that generally lack respect for the law. The two intrinsic elements for a person to be guilty of perjury are that he/she must have deliberately lied to mislead and this must have been done under legal oath.

“I still think President Clinton may have some real problems because he testified under oath. There is a real question of perjury and obstruction of justice.”  This came from Don Nickles, an American businessman and politician who was a Republican United States Senator from Oklahoma from 1981 till 2005 on Clinton-Lewinsky case on the testimony by Clinton in court. Bill Clinton was impeached and the House approved Articles that alleged perjury and obstruction of justice for lying under oath and obstructing justice for cover up with an intern in the Oval Office.

How can we, while discussing limitations on freedom of expression, overlook profanity?

The vulgar, irreverent word or action that we hear so commonly in the course of conversation, even by the educated, what to speak of the rickshaw drivers, that one is likely to forget that this too, is a bar on as we exercise freedom of expression. And profanity is not just restricted to one-to-one exchanges but is gaining greater acceptance in form of crude comedy and sitcoms. Do we allow society and media as a powerful instrument of opinion formation, to exercise this right with no limitations and governed only by good sense? If in spite of the limitations, we see so many violations, how can we allow an unrestricted profane choice to the people? It will be akin to giving a loaded gun to a two year old and expect him not to shoot himself in the foot- or shoot off his mouth, in this case!

In the well- known case Cohen v. California, the United States Supreme Court overturned a “disturbing peace conviction” of a man wearing a jacket decorated with profanity.  On 26th April 1968, Paul Robert Cohen was arrested for wearing a jacket with profanity written on it. He was convicted of violating California Penal Codesentencing him to 30 days in jail. The conviction was upheld by California Court of Appeal, and the California Supreme Court denied review of the case.

Invasion of privacy by media, governments, or institutions, are a part of privacy laws of many countries. A good example of privacy is reflected in the Fourth Amendment of the American Constitution, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Contempt of Court relating to media usually takes the form of discussing issues that are sub judiceto the court.The term “sub-judice” is Latin. It simply means “under judicial consideration.” Thereby meaning to state any matter that is under judicial consideration must not be commented and debated upon, unless and until the Court delivers a verdict. This makes sense.If a matter is pending before court, and the same is being discussed in its entire speculative splendor in media, it will be fair to assume that it will create public perceptions. There are vested interests. Media persons, just like any other have their own biases and prejudices. Besides, media persons, not being lawyers may not grasp the elements within a case. The projection of news, may lead to running of a media trial and deliver a media judgment before a judgment from the court. Even if truth is spoken in the media, is it fair to prejudge a case before being presented in Court and before it may be judged by a court of competent jurisdiction? What if facts by the media are not what they are? There can be a genuine misunderstanding of legal points- after all; everyone is not a lawyer, notwithstanding the desire to act as one- is this not seriously compromising an issue by virtue of running a media trial?

Is it not likely for a media trial to endanger and jeopardize the fair trial of a man? Can it not put in danger the life of a key witness? Or his/her family? Can it not sway a judge by a public trial? The newspaper and TV is read and viewed by people from across the board. Or other officials involved in the investigation? Or pronounce a sentence on half-truths where there should be none, on an innocent person?

The question of practical relevance that arises here is: in any case that arises and is incourt, some may have great public interest. Now, this interest is heightened during the pendency of the case. The case may take a year or more to reach the decision by a court. Do the media, then, stay mum till the conclusion of the proceedings?To address the above question, the principle of “clear and present danger” was developed; whether the publication presented an immediate likelihood that justice would be thwarted, -whether there was a “clear and present danger that the publication would obstruct justice.”The famous rule, expressed first in 1919 by Justice Homes in Schenck v United States.Justice Wendell Holmes in the famous case Schenck v. United States(1919) clearly expressed his opinion that a restriction is legitimate only if it poses a real and clear present danger that relates to public interests or threat to safety. When America entered the World War I in 1917, Congress passed the Espionage Act. This law clearly enunciated that any individual working to cause disloyalty or disobedience among the soldiers will be deemed as a war crime. Charles Schenck was against the war. He mailed thousands of pamphlets to men who had been drafted into the armed forces. The government accused Schenck of violating the Espionage Act. The contention of the government was that the pamphlets were aimed to weaken the loyalty of the soldiers and create a clear obstruction in the recruitment procedure. Argument put forth by Schenck was that the Espionage Act was in violation of the First Amendment that clearly states, “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.” The case was eventually decided by the Supreme Court in 1919. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote the decision for a Supreme Court that was unanimous in its decision. “When a nation is at war,” he said, “many things that might be said in time of peace are such a hindrance to its effort that their utterance will not be endured so long as men fight and that no Court could regard them as protected by any constitutional right.” (Edmonton Journal V Alberta (1969)2 SCR 1326)

In a known case of SaadatKhialy, an article was carried by some newspapers. The article made some comments on some pending cases in the court. The Supreme Court ruled it was contempt of the court. The ruling stated: “If the Article, read reasonably and as a whole, was calculated or had the tendency to prejudice mankind against one or the other of the parties involved in the proceedings, it is enough to amount to an interference with the course of justice, for the question in the case is, not as to whether the publication has, in fact, interfered with it or not, or as to what was the intention of the author  and/or publisher, but whether it has the tendency to produce such prejudicial effect. The principle on which this type of contempt is punished is to keep the stream of justice unsullied so that the parties against whom litigations are pending in courts of law should get a fair trial from the Courts and not be subjected in advance to a trial by newspapers.”(SaadatKhialyVs The State PLD 1962 SC 457)


Freedom of expression and speech places a huge responsibility upon the person practicing it-in this case the media. With vested interests involved, an open cheque can lead to serving vested interests at the cost of national interests. Freedom of publication is a huge responsibility. To whom are we entrusting the responsibility to? In a race to sell more than the competitor, media panders to sensationalism, indulging in speculations that can ultimately harm the national interests. In a powerful article by Yawar Abbas, in Daily Times, says, “During the last decade, Pakistan’s media has contributed positively to the cause of democracy in the country and also played an active role in the restoration of the judges through round the clock coverage of the famous Lawyers’ Movement. Nonetheless, serious doubts and conflicting views regarding the media’s role in the country have also accompanied these wide-scale developments. Some of these views rise from concerns that the media is strictly averse to the idea of even the most modest regulation by the government and that it refuses to abide by a unanimously agreed code of conduct or ethics. The media groups in the country have grown into big mafias; they own print as well as electronic media — a situation that is almost unprecedented anywhere in the world. Critics also maintain that the Pakistani media is creating an environment of despair and hopelessness by presenting a very bleak picture of the country. This constant fearmongering and pessimistic outlook on such a broad scale can have its own psychological ramifications for Pakistani society in the future.” (Daily Times, published 24th March 2011 titled, ’Is Media fanning extremism’?Yawar Abbas)

The good, the cultural, the beautiful has all been relegated to the back burner. All that is projected is the bad, the ugly, and the destructive. Talk shows talking of doomsday scenario seem to have replaced entertainment and any good things related to Pakistan. This has on one hand created despondency in the local population; on the other hand, it has effectively created a consistently negative view of Pakistan for the rest of the world. The culture of Pakistan has been overtaken by the Indian culture in entertainment in the electronic media. The local news is full of news of the Bollywood actresses and actors- taking them over as Pakistani film industry.

This tendency must be curbed.

The world has become a global village. Any incident happening in one part of the world is reported in another part of the world within seconds owing to electronic media, social media and forums like Twitter and Face Book. A very, very responsible approach is needed by the players involved to avoid trampling on this right of others while exercising their own.Freedom of expression is a desired trait for any nation. We must all aspire to achieve this. However, with every freedom comes responsibility. Limitations that are reasonable and in the larger benefit of the society must be respected and followed. Not because they are forced, but because of the understanding that this leads to harmony. Like in any other country in the world, Pakistan too places certain restrictions on freedom of expression for the greater good of the country. This must be understood and respected. The mark of a mature nation is not to belittle and humiliate the Constitution, but to respect and follow it.


About the writer

YasmeenAftab Ali is a Lawyer and also holds a Master’s degree in Mass Communication. She has authored, “A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan,” in 2011. She is a weekly Op-Ed Writer for ‘The Pakistan Today’ daily national newspaper published from Lahore and has been teaching in a private university for 9 years. She is known as the leading Media Laws specialist in Pakistan.




Freedom of expression and speech: an absolute right? (Part 1)

This is a cross post from Pulse Weekly

By: Yasmeen Aftab Ali ArticleYAA


Media today has become a powerful tool all over the world and in Pakistan expressing views and conveying news. In Pakistan, media has gone from one strength to another since 2002. More specifically, from the year government allowed private TV channels to make a debut.  Owing to a low literacy rate, television is viewed and enjoyed by people across the board. Although a different set of laws govern the print medium of communication and also in some cases overlap laws governing electronic media like Article 19 and 19A Constitution of Pakistan, (Freedom of Speech/Access to Information) Article 204 (Contempt of Court) and Defamation others governing the latter also include the PEMRA Ordinance 2002, PEMRA Ordinance (Amendments) 2007, Code of Conduct for Media Broadcasters/Cable TV Operators aiming to regulate the working of electronic media. Violations nonetheless occur. Not once, not twice, but repeatedly!  This is with reference to electronic medium of communication in particular.  We need to see the bigger picture; we need to understand the concept of freedom of expression and speech. We need to understand that nowhere in the world is it absolute. We need to understand the need to respect the law.

My paper shared here is drawn from my book, “A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan,” published ending 2011 and later accepted by Harvard Law College Library as a reference book on the subject.

Freedom of expression is often confused with freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is a part of freedom of expression. The latter is an umbrella term that covers many a form of expression that includes the freedom of speech, but only as a part thereof. It is deemed to be a basic human right, that includes; freedom of thought, freedom of press, freedom to express oneself in arts, poetry, architecture, crafts, lifestyles, dressing, eating, culture, music, sculptures so on and so forth.

“Freedom of speech may be defined as the right to express one’s ideas and opinions freely through speech, writing and other forms of communication but without deliberately causing harm to others’ character and/or reputation by false or misleading statements. Freedom of press is part of freedom of expression.” (Definition by BusinessDictionary.Com) Freedom of expression is as a basic ingredient or a cornerstone to a functioning democracy. Freedom of expression is a term giving an umbrella to many types of freedoms including  most importantly, freedom of speech ;of the press, of association, of assembly and petition – all  protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution. The relevant portion of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution written in 1791 reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

A well- known quote, largely attributed to Voltaire, is originally of Evelyn Beatrice Hall, who wrote under the pen name of S.G Tallentyre, known for her biography of Voltaire titled, “The Friends of Voltaire” Hall wrote in that biography, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” is the tenet on which the very principle of right to freedom of expression rests. This quote is often misattributed by some to be from Voltaire himself. Noam Chomsky, correctly stated, “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”

On December 10th, 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 19 of the Declaration states, “ Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” However, is this right truly inviolate? Does this allow hate speech? Racism? Breach against the security of a country? Contempt of Court?Defamation? The list is long and the question demands a hard look at the question itself. A balance must be struck here. A line must be drawn.

Every nation has the right to constitute laws to deal with new challenges. Laws are for societies. As societies change, so must the laws to meet the ongoing challenges of time. Interestingly, USA has passed The Trespass Bill, in August 2011. The Bill creates a “bubble” zone around certain government officials, dignitaries and areas, using a broad meaning, giving room to interpretation by the prosecutor. John Glaser states, “Starting with making it illegal to trespass on the grounds of the White House, the grounds or buildings included as off-limits even cover those that the President – or whatever other official protected by the Secret Service – is residing temporarily. It would even include a peaceful protest outside a presidential candidate’s concession speech, for example.” He goes on to say, in the same article, “The government already has inordinate ability to crush free speech, silence protesters, and arrest civilians peacefully assembling, but this legislation would mark the beginning of the end of the First Amendment.” Obama signed the Bill in March 2012 that essentially makes it a federal offence to create disturbance at certain political events. (“Trespass Bill Would Violate Peaceful Assembly Rights”: by John Glaser published February 28th 2012 in AntiWar.COM)

I am discussing here some of the broadly accepted limitations worldwide on the freedom of expression and speech:

Limitations on Freedom of Expression

Let us see some of these limitations that create a bar against the right of unbridled exercise of the right to freedom of expression.

I would first like to discuss Hate Speech here as a justified bar on the right to freedom of expression. “Hate speech is a communication that carries no meaning other than the expression of hatred for some group, especially in circumstances in which the communication is likely to provoke violence. It is an incitement to hatred primarily against a group of persons defined in terms of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and the like. Hate speech can be any form of expression regarded as offensive to racial, ethnic and religious groups and other discrete minorities or to women.” In a piece carried by Defence Blog of Pakistan, by David Ben Gurion in 1948 during Israel’s Independence Speech, “The world Zionist movement should not be neglectful of the dangers of Pakistan to it. And Pakistan now should be its first target, for this ideological State is a threat to our existence.” (1948 Speech by David Ben Gurion) Geert Wilders, a popular Dutch MP, in 2008, released a 17 minutes film against Islam. Titled Fitna, the film demonstrates how the Koran encourages acts of terrorism, anti-Semitism, violence against women, homosexuals and infidels. “I don’t hate Muslims. I hate Islam”. (Published The Guardian (The Observer) UK, by Ian Traynor, Sunday 17 February 2008)  He had shown his film in the House of Lords in UK, sparking angry scenes of violence. So hate speech cannot be promoted under the guise of freedom of expression and speech.

Another limitation to the exercise of the right of freedom of expression is defamation. Generally described as a false statement against the reputation of another in verbal (slander) or recorded form (libel). It is vilification, aimed to damage the reputation about whom made.

Slander is verbal communication, which by virtue of being verbal is transitory in nature. Libel on the other hand has a permanent form. It can be in writing, broadcast or in any from where it may be referred back. Slander can be more difficult to prove as compared to libel. Witnesses to a verbal communication can be coerced, pressurized, threatened and bought. This however, does not mean that slander cases are not filed or not settled. Slander will be described as: “Speaking of base and defamatory words tending to prejudice another in his reputation, community standing, office, trade, business or means of livelihood.” (Black’s Law Dictionary Sixth Edition. Centennial Edition (1891-1991) Pg 1388)

During my research I came across a particularly interesting one that I would like to share. Las Vegas surgeon Mark Kabins was convicted of a felony in federal court, agreed to pay $800,000 to settle a slander lawsuit filed against him by an anesthesiologist. The allegations in both the civil and criminal cases stem from the treatment of Melodie Simon, who became a paraplegic after Kabins and Thalgott performed spine surgery on her in August 2000. The lawsuit accuses the defendants of making “false and defamatory statements concerning Burkhead’s ability to competently practice medicine.” The malpractice case settled for $2.3 million, but prosecutors argued it was worth much more. After attorney fees and costs were deducted, Simon received $1.3 million. Kabins’ plea agreement, which allowed him to avoid prison time, requires him to pay her another $3.5 million.” (Article published in Las Vegas Review-Journal by Carri Geer Thevenot published 7th March 2010) Libel is the second kind of defamation. Here, the ingredients of libel are (a)Words stated must be defamatory(b)it must be in form of a permanent record that can be referred back to, and(c)it must refer to the person of the plaintiff(complainant).Black’s Law Dictionary defines libel as “A method of defamation expressed by print, writing, pictures or signs. In its most general sense, any publication that is injurious to the reputation of another. A false and unprivileged publication in writing of defamatory material.” (Sixth Edition, Centennial Edition (1891-1991) Pg 915)

In a benchmark case, in 1934, Princess Irena Youssoupoff, niece of Russian Tsar Nicholas II, sued the Metro-Goldwyn Pictures. In the picture by the studio, “Rasputin and the Empress”, it was shown that the princess fell for the ‘mad monk’ once he set out to seduce her. She was awarded US$125,000 at that time, the biggest libel judgment in England. Monson V Tussauds case that again is a milestone in the history of libel, took place in 1894. The Ardlamont Murder took place in Argyll, Scotland in 1893. It led to two cases. The HM Advocate Vs Monson and in 1894, a case of defamation by Monson against the Madam Tussauds. John Monson was acquitted of the charge of the murder of Cecil Hambrough. Tussauds in the meanwhile had put up a waxen effigy of John Monson in its gallery of criminals. Monson sued Madam Tussauds for libel. Though Monson won the case and the lowest possible defamation costs were awarded, it did establish a new principle. The principle was “libel by innuendo”.

Innuendo will generally mean, “An indirect or subtle reference, especially one made maliciously or indicating criticism or disapproval.” (The Free Dictionary by Farlex) Libel is actionable per se . Claim of damages for publication of defamatory statement: “While determining damages due regard has to be taken of following factors: (a)Nature of defamatory statement (b) conduct of person responsible for its publication(c)conduct of such person after issuance of notice and after institution of case (d)degree of care and caution exercised before publication of disputed statement. “(Majid Nizami Vs Sheikh Muhammad Rashid: PLJ 1997 Lahore 652=PLD 1996 Lahore 410).

Incitement to offence cannot be allowed in exercise of the right to freedom of expression. Incitement to offence is a real encouragement to commit a crime. It can be through persuasion, threat, advice, and direct help of any kind. The intention must be for the crime to be committed. A plea that the person encouraging the other to commit an offence did not know the act was an offence will not stand. Ignorance of law is no excuse. Anger words spoken by politicians on electronic media, which has a huge impact in a country like Pakistan, irresponsible journalism by anchor persons whose words carry weight with the public at large, can have a cascading effect. It can result in acts akin to incitement, even if the desire to result in that act was not there, on face of it.

Incitement can be public ie encouraging a group of people to take a particular action and private incitement, encouraging an individual to do a particular act. Incitement to genocide was an unknown term, when Streitcher and Hans Fritzsche were charged and judgment against them passed in 1946, the grounds were crimes against humanity. But were they to be charged today for the same offence, it will fall within the ambit of incitement to genocide. Incitement to genocide became a crime under International Law with passing of this epic judgment against both by the International Military Tribunal.

Julius Streitcher , founder, editor, of anti-Semetic weekly Magazine Der Strurmer, was found guilty of spreading hate propaganda. In many letters and articles that he wrote himself, Jewish people were portrayed as, “a parasite, an enemy, an evil doer, a disseminator of diseases”, and “swarms of locusts that must be exterminated completely.”  The Tribunal found Streitcher guilty of incitement to genocide. The Tribunal judged that he “incited the German people to active persecution.”  He was awarded death by hanging.” ((1946)22 Trial of Major German War Criminals p. 501) Hans Fitzsche was a senior official from the Ministry headed by Goebbel for Proper Enlightenment and Propaganda. He also headed the Radio Division from 1942. He was accused of having, “incited and encouraged the commission of War Crimes by deliberately falsifying news to arouse the German people those passions that led them to the commission of those atrocities.”  Fitzsche was acquitted, the Tribunal having judged that, “…..his position and official duties were not sufficiently important……to infer that he took part in originating or formulating propaganda campaigns.” (Ibid)

Freedom of expression, like any other liberty, brings with itself a very heavy responsibility, on the shoulders of all of us exercising that right and in particular upon those who are placed in positions to influence policies, impact and form public opinion. At no stage, can we encourage criminal acts and then feign innocence or shrug off the responsibility that goes with freedom.

Whether incitement is against an individual person or a group which may be based on ethnic, racial or any other ground, it stands as limitation against the right to freedom of expression.

About the writer

Yasmeen Aftab Ali is a Lawyer and also holds a Master’s degree in Mass Communication. She has authored, “A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan,” in 2011. She is a weekly Op-Ed Writer for ‘The Pakistan Today’ daily national newspaper published from Lahore and has been teaching in a private university for 9 years. She is known as the leading Media Laws specialist in Pakistan.

The Ideology of Intolerance

This is a cross post from Pulse Weekly

ArticleYAABy Yasmeen Aftab Ali

Intolerance of views other than a nation, a religion, a culture, an ethnic group may subscribe to is becoming wide spread and manifesting itself in the unkindest forms. The spillover of this intolerance can damage personalities and psyches of nations. Religious groups are intolerant of other groups within; gender discrimination is yet another form of intolerance as is ethnic intolerance.

According to an interesting dissection of the ‘Ideology of Intolerance’ (A term I’ve coined to explain the growing number of subscribers to the creed) Intolerance of Others takes three distinct steps: stereotyping, prejudice and both then lead to discrimination. The Urban Dictionary defines stereotyping as, “when you judge a group of people who are different from you based on your own and/or others opinions and/or encounters.

Guy 1: I met this hot chick from Hawaii 
Guy 2: All women from Hawaii are sluts, I met one yesterday
Guy 3: You are just stereotyping. How can you judge an entire group of people based on one person?”

Clark Kent Ervin writing for The International Herald Tribune on stereotyping writes, ‘the vast majority of Americans – and many Europeans – do have a stereotype in mind when we think of terrorists, and that stereotype is of someone of Arab descent.’ He shares, ‘Stereotypes become stereotypes for a reason, of course. Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al- Zahawiri, are Arabs. All 19 of the Sept. 11 hijackers were Arabs. The late, unlamented Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Al Qaeda’s top man in Iraq, was an Arab. But even if it is to some extent understandable that we are more suspicious of those we take to be Arabs than we are of others, it is also illogical, politically incorrect and morally repugnant.’

Nevertheless, no matter how illogical, politically incorrect and morally repugnant stereotyping may be, it remains a fact that most of us subscribe to it to some degree or another- setting up mental barriers that stop us from knowing those ‘different from us’ better. Is this fear what keeps us entrenched in our comfort zones and separated from those who view issues differently? Stereotyping can create blocks that can be literally immovable.

Prejudice is the natural outcome of stereotyping. It is defined as, ‘Prejudice is a baseless and usually negative attitude toward members of a group. Common features of prejudice include negative feelings, stereotyped beliefs, and a tendency to discriminate against members of the group.’  Prejudice is a natural outcome of stereotyping and can be gender, ethnic, religious, nationality based to name just a few.

Once stereotyping and prejudice are clearly established, it leads to the crystallization of the unjustifiable behavior; in discrimination. María Elena Martínez in her book has tried to analyze how the concept of the purity of Spanish blood has been instrumental in being fundamental in solidifying the racial and patriotic ideologies in the bygone era of colonial Mexico. Her book published by Stanford University Press titled Genealogical Fictions Limpieza de Sangre, Religion, and Gender in Colonial Mexico has is recommended reading for better understanding of the subject.

In an absorbing piece in The Daily Beast titled ‘Don’t Ignore the Roots of Discrimination’  it says, “Last year, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination described Israel’s systematic violations, such as “segregation” and “[un]equal access to land and property.” as grave enough to necessitate a reminder of the “prohibition” of “apartheid.” This is the reality, and no amount of ‘co-existence’ industrial parks at home or rebranding abroad can mask it.’ (March 6, 2013)

Amnesty International on its official site states, ‘Discrimination is an assault on the very notion of human rights.  Discrimination is the systematic denial of certain peoples’ or groups’ full human rights because of who they are or what they believe. It is all too easy to deny a person’s human rights if you consider them as “less than human”. This is why international human rights law is grounded in the principle of non-discrimination. The drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stated explicitly that they considered non-discrimination to be the basis of the Declaration.

Yet discrimination due to factors such as race, ethnicity, nationality, class, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or health status – or a combination of factors – persists in many forms in every country in the world.’

It continues to state. ‘Discrimination in law enforcement can mean that certain groups are viewed by the authorities as ”potential criminals” and so are more likely to be arrested and imprisoned.  It can also mean that they are more likely to suffer harsher treatment, possibly amounting to torture or other forms of ill-treatment, once in criminal justice system.’

The cascading effect of this cycle is hate speech.

An online site defines hate speech as‘speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.’

Hate speech is not just restricted to Pakistan its widespread and an international phenomenon. .. “Hate speech is a communication that carries no meaning other than the expression of hatred for some group, especially in circumstances in which the communication is likely to provoke violence. It is an incitement to hatred primarily against a group of persons defined in terms of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and the like Hate speech can be any form of expression regarded as offensive to racial, ethnic and religious groups and other discrete minorities or to women.” (Definition by Legal.com) In the world that we live in today, with geographical barriers down, a world fraught with wars, hatred and conflicts, can the world, and media in specific, afford to vent more hatred, more conflicts by ignoring the legitimate and valid limitation that must be taken into consideration while exercising the right to freedom of expression? Media plays a powerful role today, in terms of forming opinions and attitudes and the impact of media cannot be undermined. Above all, choice of words by media practitioners must be carefully weighed before delivering.

The comments by politicians, opinion leaders, media all are part of creating opinions and effecting those who follow. This in turn can have a cascading effect on the actions of the members of society. How a news is projected, what angle is given, the choice of words therein, can and does, create hatred. Since 9/11 , attitudes worldwide in non -Muslim countries towards Islam are more negative than positive. Though, Islam explicitly prohibits taking the life of another human being, sometimes perceptions become more real than the reality itself. According to a 201o, Time magazine poll, 28 percent of voters do not believe Muslims should be eligible to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, and nearly one-third think they should be barred from running for president. (TIME POLL: ARTICLE TITLED:” Majority Oppose Mosque, Many Distrust Muslims” by Alex Altmani published Thursday19th August 2010)


Media can play a huge part in playing a positive role in correcting these perceptions and developing harmony between different religious groups inter countries and within a country. Unfortunately, media too, on many occasions, is hostage to vested interests . When hatred is fanned by media, of which social media has come up as a powerful means of communication, hate speech translates itself into actions that horrify.

Irresponsible use of freedom of expression is an abuse of the right. Those exposed to hate speech are all kinds of people, educated, uneducated, frustrated, maybe having faced injustices. It is the frame of mind; it is that one moment that may accept the full impact of hate speech in any form and commit an act, later repented, but cannot be undone.

Let us look at Pakistan and in particular the role of electronic media. Can the electronic media aggravate or mitigate hatred towards groups within? Are there any laws that may be used to curtail any aggravation?

According to the exceptions listed within Article 19 Constitution of Pakistan 1973, creating public order disruption is a violation of freedom of speech. Disturbing the public peace is punishable under Section 153-A Pakistan Penal Code. “The term public order has reference to the maintenance of conditions where under the orderly functioning of the government can be carried on. It is the duty of the government to ensure that the lives, properties, and liberties of the citizens are not endangered. The term public order is wider than the term public safety and implies absence of internal order, rebellion, interference to the supply and distribution of essential commodities or services.”( Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan published by PLD Publishers, 1996, by Justice Muhammad Munir, Formerly Chief Justice of Pakistan, Pg 359) Likewise PEMRA Ordinance (Amendment) states, “Sec 2(l) states, “not broadcast any programme inciting violence or hatred, or any action prejudicial to maintenance of law and order.” Sub clause (a) of Section 1 of Code of Conduct for Media; TV Broadcasters/Cable Operators states, “) Passes derogatory remarks about any religion or sect or community or uses visuals or words contemptuous of religious sects and ethnic groups or which promotes communal and sectarian attitudes or disharmony.”  Whereas clause C of same section states, “(c) contains an abusive comment that, when taken in context, tends to or is likely to expose an individual or a group or class of individuals to hatred or contempt on the basis of race or caste, national, ethnic or linguistic origin, color or religion or sect, sex, sexual orientation, age or mental or physical disability.”

If we look at the Anti Terrorism Act 1997, clause 11 A sub clause (e ) says, “ Patronize and  assists in the  incitement of  hatred and contempt on religious, sectarian or ethnic lines that stir up disorder.” Sub clause (f) states, “  Fails to expel from its ranks or ostracize those who commit acts of  terrorism and present them as heroic persons.”

Public order seeks to minimize crimes like arson, murders, rape, targeted violence, striking fear in the hearts of people in their free movement. Lack of public order can be strikingly destabilizing for economies creating fear, hatred between coexistence of ethnic groups and sub-groups and destroy the base of a peaceful society. Activities that are either politically motivated or criminally motivated, create a cascading effect of negativity, like kidnappings, misuse of power, illegal detentions, so on and so forth. In situations of breakdown of public order, people may be caught up in a rush, be trampled underfoot and in cases of shootouts innocent bystanders may lose their lives.

Giving media coverage endlessly to those seeking the exposure, media inadvertently may play in the hands of such negative elements.  Giving coverage to events of public disorder endlessly create hatred within society at different levels.

We need to take a pause and take stock.

The writer is  a political analyst and Author of, “A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.” She may be reached at yasmeenali62@gmail.com and  tweets at: @yasmeen_9











Musharraf, Modi, India and Pakistan

Yasmeen Aftab Ali

ArticleYAAThis is a cross post from Weekly Pulse

“Former military ruler Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf said on Wednesday that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an enemy of Pakistan and Muslims, urging the Indian premier to change his anti-Pakistan attitude… Speaking to an Indian news channel, the former president said that Pakistan would never neglect the defence of its eastern borders and added that the country would not hesitate in using the nuclear bomb against India if the need arose.”(Dawn Oct 22, 2014)

Talking about Prime Minister Modi in an interview, the former President of Pakistan stated, “We know his anti-Pakistan credentials. Now, it may be a red line for you that people of Pakistan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, or the Foreign Secretary must not meet the APHC. That is not our red line. We do not follow your red line. They must meet. I would say that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, when, he went to India, should have met the APHC leaders. Why is that a red line? There is dispute, internationally recognized, recognized by the UN, and we myself, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Vajpayee were discussing Kashmir. I used to meet the APHC leaders every time. So why is there a change of heart? That itself shows and proves the anti-Pakistan credentials of Prime Minister Modi. Now, if that be so, so certainly it’s a confrontationist course. He is taking a confrontationist course with Pakistan. So, this red line that he has declared is confrontationist certainly. It is not peaceful. And when you say he had invited Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif invited him to Pakistan and he didn’t come.” (India Today October 22, 2014)

Though Musharraf may be factually correct, it never fails to surprise me why our leaders feel other countries and leaders of other countries owe an obligation to Pakistan to resolve our problems.

I had stated my reservations about Prime Minister Modi’s foreign policy vis a vis Pakistan and that I would like to share here in light of Musharraf’s interview:

‘BJP carries a heavy Hindutva baggage. So much so that the BJP manifesto states, “India shall remain a natural home for persecuted Hindus and they shall be welcome to seek refuge here.” A narrow based party representing one religious group can afford to keep narrow minded clauses in its manifesto, but can a party leading a nation of 1.3 billion, calling itself a secular state?

Modi has a very limited experience of foreign policy. His appointment as the national security advisor has been Ajit Doval. Looking into Ajit Doval’s past and thought process is interesting as it reflects upon the shape of foreign policy India would like to map out with Pakistan. Let’s be very clear. The position Ajit Doval holds is not a ceremonial one. It’s a powerful seat that has a strong place in the nuclear line of command. Ajit Doval holds sway over Indian intelligence agencies. His predecessors hailed from the diplomatic core; not Ajit Doval. He is from the intelligence operations. He has been part of a think tank with expertise in Pakistan and China affairs. The second he steps out of this ambit, he will have to heavily lean on others for expert advice. To say that Ajit Doval’s background is interesting is an understatement. He had infiltrated the Golden Temple reportedly in the uniform of an ISI officer, he was involved in negotiating the release of hijacked prisoners of the Indian Airlines Flight 814 in Kandahar in 1999 and “handed over insurgents” from Kashmir and Mizoram. Quoting The Hindu, “Mr Doval has talked of the importance of covert action. In a 2012 article, he defines these as “a low cost sustainable offensive with high deniability aimed to bleed the enemy to submission.” In his view, “the most effective way of dealing with terrorism would be to identify boys who have got the courage of conviction to match that of the fidayeens and who are capable of taking risks. Identify them and put them in action.” He notes, ominously, that “Pakistan has its own vulnerabilities many times higher than India.” (Published June 23, 1014)

Are we talking of an increased degree of Indian supported proxy war or/and terrorism in Pakistan in light of Ajit Doval’s preferred mode of combat? The reason why it’s important to know key players of Modi’s team is because policies depend upon their preferences. India’s hold over the Ayni Air Basealso called as ‘Gissar Air Base’ located 10km west of the capital of Tajikistan-Dushanbe and the Farkhor Air Base; a military air base located near the town of Farkhor in Tajikistan, 130 kilometers south east of the capital Dushanbe — can lead to worrisome results for Pakistan. Sudha Ramachandran writing for The Diplomat says, “While agreeing that Modi will appear tough with Pakistan, TP Sreenivasan, a former diplomat who spent 37 years with the Indian Foreign Service, argues that “this toughness will not go beyond a point” as he will realise soon that with “war not an option anymore, a tough approach will go only so far.” (Published May 6, 2014) This more or less supports Ajit Doval’s thought process.’

To a certain given degree, states can be friendly. However, this ‘friendship’ is strictly of a utilitarian nature. It may be in form of two unequal states providing service to one another, or two more equal or less equal states facing a common threat or a common interest that draws them together in a bond. It makes taking joint steps a lot of sense.

Gadi Heimann, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem when discussing this Aristotelian concept of friendship between states gives an apt example in his paper, “Saudi Arabia is not the United States’ client but its friend, and this makes it easier for both countries to continue to enjoy the reciprocal ties that benefit them. Even the relationships between an empire and its colonial protégé usually merit a façade of friendship. It may be remembered that Poland was called the “friend” and even “sister” of the USSR. during the Cold War.”

The perception of ‘friendship’ may therefore not be strictly true. Lord Palmerston was very correct when he stated, “states have neither eternal friends nor enemies, just eternal interests.”

To think that India will willingly give up occupied Kashmir is like living in a fool’s paradise. Why should India do what Pakistan asks her to do? What is the advantage that India reaps? Answer:  None. In the particular context of moving towards resolving the issue of occupied Kashmir, Modi is going to do what every Prime Minister has done earlier: nothing.

On the contrary, in order to further consolidate Indian hold on Kashmir under their control there were plans by India to build a wall to separate the southwestern part from India Occupied Kashmir. “According to Indian officials, the wall would pass through 118 villages within the three districts of disputed Kashmir and would be 41 meters wide and 10 meters high to accommodate bunkers and check posts.” (Al-Jazeera 21 Dec 2013) In furtherance of its belligerent tone, the Indian foreign ministry had asked UN Military Observers Group on India and Pakistan (UNMogip) to hand over the Delhi premises from where it was running a liaison office for more than four decades reported the Dawn on Jul 08, 2014. “New Delhi considers the whole of disputed Kashmir as an integral part of the country and has bristled against external involvement in the region including the UNMogip that was set up under the Karachi agreement in 1949 after the first war between the two countries.”

The question therefore Mr Musharraf is not what Modi thinks or does, because he is India’s Prime Minister and must do and act in the interest of his own country after all, but rather, what our leaders say or act which must be in the interest of Pakistan. What they intend to do to resolve existing multifaceted issues.

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book, ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media and Media Laws in Pakistan.’ Her mail ID is yasmeenali62@gmail.com and tweets at @yasmeen_9

Mixing the old with old?

Mixing the old with old?

ArticleYAAYasmeen Aftab Ali

This is a cross post from Weekly Pulse

Amir Dogar pulled no punches about being supported by PTI- scion of a family that has supported PPP for three generations, himself having served as the PPP South Punjab general secretary, his win over Javed Hashmi may be viewed by some as maintenance of the status quo rather than promotion of a break from it. But wait, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

What exactly is happening in Pakistan today?

On the ‘dharna politics front’ huge crowds attracted by PTI earlier have been petering thin. They have been huge; no question about that. They are exuberant people who want to see a change. The red and green supporters look for dynamism in leadership, end to corruption, and ease in the lives of millions of Pakistanis. This is the ‘Naya Pakistan’ they are looking eagerly forward to. PTI failed to strike a deal with the beleaguered Federal Government on any front; the well organized crowds notwithstanding. It was not successful in bringing the government to its knees and bringing about its ouster. Tahir-ul-Qadri having thrown in his lot with PTI- following the Model Town tragedy brought out students from Minhaj-ul-Quran International.  He with is supporters was part of a ‘dharna’ since August 2014, camping outside of Pakistan’s Parliament building having recently announced taking the ‘dharna’ to different cities of Pakistan.

However, PTI is determined to stay put at the Constitution Avenue until the PM quits office. Khan’s  party has already held huge rallies in Multan, Lahore as well as in Karachi.  The steam has however obviously let off….. the steak is no longer sizzling. The aroma has escaped the dish, which has turned cold.

The government was in a classic catch 22 situation. Upon PTI demanding investigating alleged irregularities in four constituencies, PML N turned around and demanded investigation of same number of constituencies where seats were won by PTI. Had PML N agreed without this clause to PTI’s demand and had irregularities showed up, this would have brought the entire election process in question.  Therefore, they did the predictable; they did nothing.  Imran needs to realize something in his act has to change in order to get some mileage from the long drawn out campaign. The Model Town PAT workers’ killings had placed both PTI and PAT on the same boat. However, the present following of different policies by both parties will strengthen the hand of the present political dispensation.

Looking beyond the dharna politics, once again we see that MQM has fallen out with PPP. May one dare add; once again? Bilawal, tipped to be the new face of his party, in a rally in Karachi, recently, organized to launch him, he stood atop a bus at the spot his mother; Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. To his credit, young Bhutto did not mince words when he condemned harshly not only the Pakistan Taliban but also similar other outfits. The 26 year old scion of the Bhutto family according to a leading English daily, “warned Altaf Hussain to control his “Namaloom Afraad,” saying that “Uncle Altaf if my workers get a scratch, forget London police I (Bilawal) will make your life miserable.” According to the Economic Times, “The PPP, claimed that nearly one million people showed up for the rally the figures given by the security agencies and Sindh police differed drastically. The Sindh police put the attendance at 120,000 while the security agencies and home department put the figure at 100,000.The rally is also seen as significant as for years now the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) which represents the Urdu speaking population has held massive rallies that other parties have not been able to match in numbers.” (October 18, 2014)

MQM reacted as it was expected to react under the given circumstances. MQM leader Haider Abbas Rizvi in a press conference along with other members of the Rabitta Committee said, “ “MQM considers Bilawal’s statement a preplanned policy, as PPP patron-in-chief was reading his written speech.” (October 06, 2014) The advisors and ministers of MQM who had joined the PPP coalition government at the provincial level; resigned.  Apparently Bilawal’s comment was not the only thing that led to this development, it was also Khursheed Shah’s comment that in his opinion the term ‘Mohajir’ is an insult. Action begets reaction. A report in a daily says, “But the choice of words Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui used while announcing his party’s decision to quit the provincial government tends to suggest that from now on their mismatching political aspirations are going to escalate and acquire ideological struggles. For one, instead of division of Sindh into ‘administrative units’, earlier proposed by MQM chief Atlaf Hussain and sharply contested by the PPP leadership – Bilawal had reacted to it by asserting ‘marvesoon marvesoon Sindh na desoon’ – he further upped the ante asking for more provinces for ‘better administration and more resources’.” Though Shah withdrew his comment, MQM’s reaction to Bilawal’s comment needs a closer look. Is this because MQM feels it should join PTI on a common platform? PTI’s popularity wave across the country may have warranted such a turn. Is there a smell of elections in the next year? Imran has created some momentum in his favor –the wind is giving him a push, if the elections are held sooner, he can surprise many but if held on schedule his party may not be able to gain dividends from the present momentum. The wind may well be taken out of its sails. Also, PTI’s performance at Khyber Paktoonkhwa will be brought sharply in focus in case of elections held per schedule.

MQM has held sway over Hyderabad ad Karachi for decades now. Antagonizing MQM at a juncture where not only political parties have joined hands to overthrow the coalition government with the future of the parties in power, tenuous at the best in the next elections is not exactly great timing. Further, many feel, that Bilawal’s assertion of ‘marvesoon marvesoon Sindh na desoon’ was too local, his speech revolved more around Sindh, Karachi and MQM. PPP however has always been a national party and more focus should have been awarded to national issues. What is however clear is that the PPP’s young Chairman’s speech is a sharp turn-around from the politics of reconciliation pursued by PPP.  Or, was the speech meant to jolt the Pakistani political world? It certainly got the attention with a reaction that was unexpected. If this was the reason, it has set off a chain of reaction that may not be either ell timed or welcome for PPP. The fact that Nahid Abbasi with Dr Safdar Abbasi has launched a new PPP faction is not welcome news for PPP. Mr Abbasi elected President of the new faction is reported to have said, “Since the PPP had stopped following the vision of Z.A Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto, it lost the last election badlly.” Sajida Mir, Sardar Hur Bokkhari, Gen (retired) Ahsan Ahmed, Nasir Khatak, Waqas Ahmed, Ibn-e-Rizvi and Fayaz Khan also spoke. A large number of workers from Kashmir and Gilgit Biltistan also attended the convention.” (The Dawn October 23, 2014)

The political cauldron is cooking. Time will tell which hand holds the till.

The writer is  a political analyst and Author of, “A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.” She may be reached at yasmeenali62@gmail.com and  tweets at: @yasmeen_9

Defender of Pakistan’s ideological boundaries

In memory of Naveed Tajammal _DSC0151

By Yasmeen Aftab Ali


He was the most learned, rakishly debonair man I had had the privilege of knowing. Naveed Tajammal, a captain in 3rd Baloch was apprehended by General Ziaul Haq in 1980 for attempting a coup against him with many other officers and organised by his father, Major General Tajammal Hussain Malik, the only brigadier who was promoted to the rank of Major General for having refused to lay down his arms in the 1971 war and was taken prisoner of war with his wrists broken, skull cracked open and having thereby fainted. The alleged plan was to assassinate Ziaul Haq on Pakistan Day Parade on 23 March, 1980. Naveed Tajammal was awarded 10 years rigorous imprisonment in jail where he served five. The remaining five were rescinded upon the general accepting full responsibility for the aborted coup, thereby allowing all others indicted, including Naveed Tajammal, to go free. The general himself was later released by Gen Mirza Aslam Beg after Zia’s plane crashed on a Hindu Shamshan Ghat in basti Lal Kamal on the historic 17th August, 1988. He was released by his successor General Beg who restored his full military rank and honours. Naveed Tajammal was given a clean chit many years later retiring him honourably from the Army with a statement saying “no fault of the Officer”.

When Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged to death and his body was flown to his home village, Naveed Tajammal’s regiment received late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s body. It was Naveed Tajammal who stood on duty at the grave of the departed day in and day out to note who came to visit for the initial 40 days of traditional mourning. I was never tired of listening from the horse’s mouth the sad details of those days. History as it happens, and as it is reported, can often be two different things.

An avid reader and lover of history, he had three masters to his name: Fine Arts, Business Administration and History. Undoubtedly, his love was with history, an affair that lasted until his death from the world at the age of 57 on September 12, 2014. Representatives from Universities in Canada and others would turn up at his doorstep requesting him to deliver lectures on the subject of his research, the Indus Valley Civilisation, where he could unerringly take you back for centuries in timeline. His articles were carried on many blogs and newspapers. A son of the soil, Naveed Tajammal was passionate about Pakistan and her interests. In a piece, The Indus Accord 1960, he writes, “Two sets of laws govern the water disputes: first is the Harmon Doctrine, named after a Judson Harmon, who was the Attorney General of USA in 1895, when arose a dispute between Mexico and USA over the usage of Rio Grande waters. Mexico was a lower riparian, the doctrine above cited gives “absolute territorial sovereignty” to the upper riparian as goes the usage of water resources passing through its lands, though the matter was resolved by a convention held between USA and Mexico on May 21, 1906, by which Mexico got its share of waters.”

Indus valley river system is an ‘international drainage basin’, as the geographical area extends and covers the administrative boundaries of more than two states, from Afghanistan to Chinese administered Tibet in the north east, and to Indian Occupied Kashmir. Technically India cannot claim sovereignty over Kashmir as it remains a disputed state, and the matter is in reference before the world courts while it has over a million troops keeping its control of the area.

“The ILA (International Law Association), a set of rules, drafted in 1966, called “The Helsinki Rules” define the perimeters in case of water related disputes in the cases where the drainage of a basin is international, as stated above. There are 11 main points/clauses that govern the rights of a lower riparian. They are briefly all about the geography of the basin, extent of drainage, and area in the territory of each basin state, the hydrology of the basin, past history of water flow, population dependent on the waters, economic and social needs of each basin state, and the degree to which the needs of a basin state may be satisfied without causing injury to a co-basin state.

India, it seems, follows the Harmon Doctrine while we twiddle our thumbs.”

All his pieces root back in history giving dates, names and all relevant information that made it impossible for anyone to dispute.

In yet another piece titled The Imposters that Now Threaten Balluchistan! (The spelling is NOT a typo but how it was originally spelt), he writes and I share:

“The roots of the system of Sardari in Balluchistan needs a closer scrutiny. The pettysardars were technically abolished by the Presidential Ordinance of 1976, which was focused on abolition of the ‘Sardari system in Balluchistan’.

“Under Naseer Khan Barrohi, the Nizamate of Kalat was divided in four political entities. This Nizamate was the creation of Nadir Shah, to teach a lesson to the Kalhora for not paying the tribute in 1740 AD.

“Naseer khan was a successful administrator and a brave warrior. His administrative areas were:

1) Sarawan, the plateau from Nushki till Sibi, inclusive of present Mari and Bugti region.

2) Jhalawan, the lowlands from Surab to the boundaries of Las Bela.

3) Makuran under the Ghicki Chief, but subservient to the Khan.

4) Kaachi, extending till Harrand-Dajjal, (later, DG Khan district). This region was awarded in lieu of Naseer Khan’s help to Abdali in the third Battle of Panipat against the Mahratta intruders. The point to appreciate and understand here is the system of Naseer Khan.”

Regarding his dealings with tribal chiefs:

“The powers of the Sardars or feudal lords were limited in the Barrohi tenure of rule, until the British jumped in. These Sardars held a consultative position in the matters of importance and in deciding tribal cases. They were as a sort of conciliatory commission. Their duty was that of an arbitrator of peace between the contending parties. In case they failed, the matter was referred to the Khan — the Supreme Power — who in return forwarded it to the Qazi-ul-Quzzat (chief judge) for the final decision. Such was the position of the Sardars in the criminal cases, while civil cases were directly dealt by the Qazi. The Khan was the Court of Appeals in all matters concerning the tribes of the conquered areas. The Sardars (tribal chiefs) were given jagirs by the Khan, and consequently they supplied the Khan with men and material in emergencies. Failing to produce specified quota of men, their jagirs were confiscated. Regarding internal affairs, the Khan acted quite independently in making laws and various other changes in the administrative spheres. While in his dealings with external matters, the feudal lords acted as a sort of advisory council. It was Naseer Khan, who had appointed tribal chiefs through general elections of the tribe by the headmen. Seniority in age and personal distinction were the deciding factors in the nomination of the tribal chief. (History of Baluch Race, by Muhammad Sardar Baluch, Page 85, 1958).

“When the British came and started setting up their new class order, they met with problems in the Nazimate regions. Sir Robert Sandeman was of the view that owing to the democratic setup found amongst the tribes, the headmen (Tumandars) if unsupported could not enforce authority over the unruly spirits and in order to preserve what influence they possessed, they were compelled to follow the path where the unruly spirits led (unruly being those who opposed the British).But the balance of power was turned when the Tumandars were given the means to entertain armed servants of their own, and when supported by suitable allowances and the prestige of connection with ‘OUR’ power. They then can exert themselves successfully, to keep their tribes in order. (Sir Robert Sandeman by T H Thornton, Page 304, 1895).”

The research, references and in-depth study was always superb.

Naveed Tajammal was the unsung hero of Pakistan. The defender of ideological boundaries of his motherland.


Cross Post : http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/09/29/comment/defender-of-pakistans-ideological-boundaries/


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