First, they tore down the posters —and then they came for the mural.
Aurat Azadi March, in its third year now, seems to be really shaking things up.
And as the grassroots movement expands, the backlash against it has also increased in hate and fervour.
Recently —ahead of the planned march on International Women’s Day this Sunday —activists, artists and volunteers painted a beautiful mural in the country’s capital as an ode to those who are silenced, and celebrating the ones that have empowered others.
But before the mural painting could be finished, it was violently shut down by some bearded men and burqa-clad women.
And if brow-beating activists into abandoning their artwork wasn't enough, thugs and goons later came back to the spot in G-7 and vandalised the mural, blackening faces of the female figures depicted on the wall.
The mural, which was a labour of love, was not only a way for people to come together but was a beacon of hope and tolerance.
But according to activists present, the mob referenced fahaashi, or obscenity, as a reason to terrorise and put a stop to the peaceful congregation.
Faces on the mural were blackened in the middle of the night— Twitter
By obliterating symbols of hope and change, close-minded individuals and groups in our society have put themselves on the wrong side of history.
But instead of being a hindrance, movements with legitimate concerns thrive in the face of pushback.
Speaking to Images, Nida Mushtaq, street artist and member of the Aurat March Islamabad chapter who was involved with painting the mural and was present when the mob arrived to destroy their work, said, "In our society, two women out on their own are still ‘alone’. Unless we are accompanied by a man, women are considered ‘akeli’ and not only cannot be seen in public but should always aspire to have a male companion for life. Yeh konse mardon ka des hai jahan do, teen, char, sabb larkian akeli hain?"
"The Do Akeli Larkian mural envisioned a Pakistani society where women are explorers, wanderers, and creators of a just and beautiful world. The mural is part of the Aurat Azadi March campaign that demands that in our society people of all genders should be respected, provided equal social and economic opportunities to grow and navigate the world on their own terms — without harassment, discrimination and violence."
She continues, "Organisers of Aurat Azadi March, along with a group of progressive activists, students, teachers, political workers, artists came together to make this mural for Aurat Azadi March 2020 after we received immense hatred and backlash from the society at large. Our art speaks for us and the collective effort, colours, details and symbols of our paintings on the streets are testament what we are willing to put out in the world to make it just for everyone. The groups who vandalised our mural also proved to the world what sort of a dark world they want to create."
Mushtaq reiterates that they will continue to stand against such violence and use public art to speak on issues that affect marginalised gender groups, including women, and envision a beautiful and peaceful world for everyone.
While posters for the Aurat March were recently torn off by bystanders in various cities, activists, artists and volunteers have continued to use public spaces for artwork that depicts their vision.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) police on Tuesday registered a case against the member of National Assembly and leader of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) Ali Wazir over hate speech and desecration of Pakistani flag. The First Information Report (FIR) reads that MNA Ali Wazir is involved in the desecration of Pakistani flag , hate speech and provoked people against the national institutions in his speech at a public gatherings.
Section 120, 121 and 153 of the constitution has been included in FIR registered by SHO Charsadda police. It may be noted that Ali along with nine others had earlier booked in an attack on an army check post in North Waziristan. The group of attackers was led by PTM leaders and MNAs Mohsin Dawar and Ali. A video of Ali Wazir provoking protesters to attack the check post also emerged.
Provincial Minister Shaukat Yousafzai has demanded of the National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser to impose a ban on MNA Ali Wazir from attending NA proceedings. He said action must be taken against Ali Wazir over anti-state speech and provoking people against institution.
PPP chairperson says in today’s Pakistan, women can join any profession they want, protest in any manner they choose
The Aurat March 2020, set to take place this Sunday, International Women’s Day, will proceed as planned and no one can stop it from happening, Pakistan Peoples Party Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on Thursday.
Addressing the PPP Women’s Convention in Lahore, Bilawal came out in full support of the Aurat March and told its detractors their regressive views would no longer be tolerated. “Today, Pakistani women will march; today, Pakistan women, if they want, will become doctors, lawyers, members of the armed forces… if a Pakistani woman so desires, she will even become the prime minister,” he said to thunderous applause. “There is no one—whether politician, maulana, or TV anchor—who can block their path,” he added.
Referring to his mother, assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, Bilawal said it was she who had shown the path to independence to Pakistan’s women. “This path was shown by the PPP,” he said, adding that his party would never back down from its support of women.
“No one has the authority to tell the women of Pakistan how to do politics, of what their politics should be, of what they should or should not protest,” he said.
The PPP leader urged the provincial and federal governments to ensure that any women protesters—regardless of their political affiliation—be assured security. “It is the responsibility of the state to ensure that anyone who is threatening [women], trying to stop them is arrested, thrown in jail,” he said. “This is the Pakistan of Fatima Jinnah. This is the Pakistan of Benazir Bhutto. This is the Pakistan of all women who reside in it,” he added.
Bilawal isn’t the only politician to speak out about the Aurat March in recent days. Last week, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman accused the marchers of promoting “vulgarity” through the use of the slogan ‘mera jism, meri marzi’ (my body, my choice). He urged his followers to not let Pakistan’s “eastern values” be subsumed by western thoughts.
From the government, Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry has urged the Punjab government to ensure the protection of marchers—even if there are some concerns about the modalities of their protest.
Similarly, Special Assistant to the P.M. on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan said insulting women on TV was “unacceptable.” She was referring to a talk show released earlier this week in which director and writer Khalilur Rehman Qamar abused activist Marvi Sirmed over the ‘mera jism, meri marzi’ slogan, prompting massive backlash on social media.
At least nine people were injured after an explosion occurred near the Levies Lines in Balochistan's Chaman area, Levies sources confirmed.
The blast took place on Taj Road in Chaman, which is located just kilometres away from the country's border with Afghanistan.
According to the sources, the blast was directed towards Levies Risaldar Maj Naseebullah who remained safe in the incident. He was travelling in his car along with his security guards when the explosion occurred.
The bomb was planted in a motorcycle according to initial information.
Chaman is considered a sensitive town in Balochistan as it shares a border with Afghanistan's volatile Kandahar province.
JeM chief Masood Azhar moved to Rawalpindi for personal safety
Days after he mocked the US as a “wolf whose tail was cut” by Taliban jihadists in Afghanistan, ailing Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief and global terrorist Masood Azhar has been shifted by Pakistan’s deep state from his Bahawalpur headquarters to Rawalpindi for his personal safety, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
While it is not clear whether Azhar was shifted by the Rawalpindi General Headquarters under pressure from the
Trump administration, counterterror operatives say the JeM chief was moved to a safe house in Rawalpindi on March 3, a day after he was summoned by Rawalpindi GHQ along with his brothers Maulana Rauf Asghar, the de facto chief of operations of JeM, and Maulana Ammar, who heads the terror group’s jihadist magazine Al Qalam.
For someone who was reported “untraceable” by the Pakistan government to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) plenary in Paris last month, Azhar’s statement praising his ideological brothers, the Taliban, has come as an embarrassment to the Imran Khan government, according to experts.
Signed under the pen name “Khadim”(servant of the faith), Azhar’s statement congratulated the mujahideens and ghazis (Islamist warriors) as well as Taliban deputy chief and military commander Sirajuddin Haqqani for forcing the US to seek peace with the terrorist group in order to withdraw from Afghanistan.
He took potshots at the US policy in Afghanistan by saying that “there was a day when America was walking like a wolf wandering in Afghanistan, today is that day in Qatar, Doha where faith is high, jihad is high, hopes are smiling, the wolf’s tail is cut off and its teeth are shattering”.
People aware of the development said that Azhar and his two brothers were called to Rawalpindi on March 2, and the former was moved to a safe house for his personal security even though the US has not launched armed drone attacks in the Punjab province of Pakistan.
According to experts, Azhar is one of the principal promoters of the Taliban since the early 1990s, and has a personal bond with top leaders such as their founder Mullah Omar, Akhtar Mansour, current chief Hibatullah Akhundzada, and the Haqqani network headed by Jalaluddin and his son Sirajuddin.
Though India is skeptical of the US-Taliban peace deal, given the Islamist group’s links with Azhar and other terror groups in Pakistan, it will not pose hurdles to either bringing peace to Kabul or withdrawal of the US and NATO forces from Afghanistan. HT learns that, for the moment, India has adopted a graded approach and intends to closely watch the Taliban on their commitments to move away from terror.
While the Taliban are learnt to have made backchannel overtures to India, the Narendra Modi government has no intentions of engaging the group at the moment, people familiar with the matter said. At the same time, it will watch the developments closely over the group’s contribution to peace in the strife-torn country.
“We are with the Afghanistan government, which is in favour of a Republic and not an Islamic Emirate as favoured by the Taliban where Sharia laws apply. While the US is just in withdrawing from Kabul after 18 years, it has also to balance this with the force giving it access into Central Asia and keep a watch on China as it races towards the Indian Ocean through Pakistan and Myanmar… Direct talks with the Taliban are not even on the table and beyond the horizon,” a senior security establishment official said on condition of anonymity. JeM chief Masood Azhar moved to Rawalpindi for personal safety: Intel
ISI’s man in US, Ghulam Fai is back lobbying against India
Ghulam Nabi Fai, a convicted criminal and the ISI’s former points man in the United States, who was sentenced to two years’ prison for working as an agent of the Pakistan government in the US without disclosing his affiliation, has become active again. He is using his links in the Capitol Hill and with media influencers to further Pakistan’s interest vis-a-vis Kashmir.
Observers of Indian interest in the US believe that the barrage of anti-India noise in the Capitol Hill and in the media, which has become prominent in the past few months after the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), is linked to Fai becoming active again.
Fai, who was arrested in July 2011 from Virginia for concealing the transfer of $3.5 million from the ISI to fund his lobbying efforts, was sent to 24 months of prison sentence in March 2012. He began his incarceration from 26 June 2012 at the Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland. However, he was prematurely released due to his “cooperation” with US officials, in November 2013.
After lying low for a couple of years following his release, the 70-year-old Fai, information reveals, restarted his activities and has now again started working as a well-connected anti-India lobbyist. “He has been appearing on audio-video mediums across US to highlight ‘Indian atrocities in Kashmir and against Muslims’, penning articles and collaborating with Indian influencers for the same purpose,” an intelligence official monitoring the developments told The Sunday Guardian.
Fai, information states, has resumed his interactions with members of the US Senate and the media and has become very active following the passage of CAA in India.
Fai is now the secretary-general of the Washington-based World Kashmir Awareness Forum (WKAF), which is headed by Ghulam Nabi Mir, president of World Kashmir Awareness Forum. WKAF is among the most aggressive anti-India voices in the US and openly calls
for Kashmir’s secession from India. Mir’s son, Aimem, who twice served as president of the youth wing of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), had worked in a top advisory position in the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a national security post in the Treasury Department, where he was appointed by President Barack Obama. Aimem’s appointment had led to a lot of controversy because of his close links with the ISNA, as it is known to be the most prominent Muslim Brotherhood group in the US.
Fai, in his statement to the Virginia court, after his arrest, following a plea bargain, on 7 December 2011, said he was given almost $500,000 (Rs 3 crore) in the year 2000 by the ISI to push Pakistan’s agenda. This included Rs 60 lakh for US Congress members, Rs 1.20 crore for organising conferences, Rs 35 lakh for media relations and Rs 18 lakh for organising Congress members’ trip to Kashmir. All these events were organised under the aegis of the Kashmiri American Council (KAC), which also goes by the name of “Kashmir Center”. The FBI found that the KAC is one of three “Kashmir Centers” that are actually run by elements of the Pakistani government, including Pakistan’s military intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI). The two other “Kashmir Centers” are in London and Brussels.
In 2001, the budget was revised to $455,000, $490,000 for 2005 and $719,000 for 2006. By the time he was arrested in 2011, Fai had a coffer of almost Rs 7.5 crore per year which he was spending on conferences, influencing members of the media and people at the Capitol.
Fai and the FBI special agent, Sarah Webb Linden, who investigated the case, identified Javed Aziz Khan, also known as “Brigadier Abdullah” as the ISI officer responsible for handling Kashmiri affairs in the mid-1990s.
ISI, Fai told the court, worked on three objectives: (1) persuade the administration that self-determination in Kashmir would advance the national interests of the United States; (2) influence Congress, with the House International Relations and the Senate Foreign Relations Committees being the centrepieces of KAC’s advocacy effort; and (3) capture media attention to influence the debate on Kashmir, including staging creative events that draw the press corps to the issue of Kashmir.
In April 2012, the Jammu and Kashmir state government had constituted a SIT to find out the organisations and individuals in the state who were on the payroll of Fai and ISI. The SIT was constituted under the leadership of Uttam Chand, a 2002 batch IPS officer, who was posted as SSP, Badgam. Chand is presently on a Central deputation in the Cabinet Secretariat. No one knows what the SIT found and what action was taken, if any, against individuals and organisations, who were working for Fai in India.
As per the government order, Chand was required to unravel Fai’s links in the state and find about the hawala funds that were reported to be received by various individuals, including separatists, journalists, intellectuals, NGOs etc., from Fai.
The findings of the SIT were expected to be the precursor to seek the extradition of Fai from the US. However, the matter was forgotten.
The SIT was headed by the Badgam SSP, as Fai was born in village Soibugh in Badgam district. A Public Safety Act (PSA) warrant issued against him by the then District Magistrate in Badgam in 1980 for his involvement in anti-national activities is still pending against him in police records. After the issuance of the PSA warrant, Fai had fled the Kashmir valley and reached Saudi Arabia from where he was sent to the US by the King Faisal Foundation which paid for his schooling and other expenses at Temple University in Pennsylvania.
The importance of people like Fai for Pakistan when it comes to Kashmir can be gauged from an October 2016 report prepared by a 13-member committee of the Pakistan Senate which recommended constitution of a Media Coordination Committee (MCC), which would have journalists plus representatives of the Foreign Office, Ministry of Information, Parliament and intelligence to prepare counter-propaganda campaign against India and to design and promote a media strategy for continually highlighting the Kashmir issue. The committee had also called for regular special briefings of foreign journalists for publicising the Jammu and Kashmir issue and had directed Pakistani officials to indulge in a “comprehensive outreach” exercise to those in India who are opposed to “Modi’s extremism and his anti-Pakistan policies, including political parties, media, civil society organisations and human rights groups”. ISI’s man in US, Ghulam Fai is back lobbying against India - The Sunday Guardian Live
Between posting this on Meanwhile in Paxtan, Funny Stuff & this thread, I chose the latter as this is mainstream. There's nothing exceptional about it. In fact I believe that Meanwhile in Paxtan should be merged with this thread.
Aur bhi gham hain zamaane mein, mohabbat ke siwa,
Raahatein aur bhi, wasl ki raahat ke siwa!