July 31, 2010

A country in floods of tears

By Habib R. Sulemani

Monsoon wreaks havoc in Pakistan. After landslides, waves of terror and aircrash, a vast area of our country has been submerged by floods. Hundreds of people have lost their lives during the last few days while thousands are living in danger. About half a million people have so far been affected in the heaviest flooding in the region since 1929.

It’s time for the government and it’s organs to concentrate on problems of the affected people, but public welfare has never been top priority of any regime. Therefore, the over 160 million people of this unfortunate country are suffering. They're bearing this pain since independence. The widespread apathy of the ruling class is also affecting other countries in some way in the globalizing world.

When I see our media in this time of crises, I’m really shocked! Leaders in the government and military (yes both) are not caring much about the devastating natural calamity but are perturbed by a statement of British Prime Minister David Cameron, who, during a recent visit to India, reportedly said that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan was involved in the business of exporting terror.

This issue should have been handled by our Foreign Office in a diplomatic way, but the country's powerful spymaster has stepped in. Director-General ISI Lt-Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha has cancelled his scheduled visit to the UK but President Asif Ali Zardari is expected to meet Mr. Cameron in London soon.

Why the spymaster has cancelled his foreign visit while the president is going to the UK? The ISI chief himself can answer this question in a better way. However, I think he is seeking some solution to the flood of tears this unfortunate nation is shedding for a long time now!

July 30, 2010

When a bird becomes an elephant

By Habib R. Sulemani

Good heavens! We escaped an air disaster on Friday. Fortunately, the over 421 passengers and crewmembers of Boeing 747 of the government-owned Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) were able to see their near and dear ones again!

This is the second shocking incident in our airline industry within two days. It happened in Karachi, the financial capital of our country. Earlier, 152 people had lost their lives in the aircrash in Islamabad, the political capital of Pakistan.

Initial reports say that a bird struck the Lahore-bound aircraft and with a loud blast, the engine caught fire. Luckily rescuers reached in time and extinguished the flames.

This latest incident shows that we’ve some serious flaws in our air-safety system, which needs to be addressed immediately.

I’ve not visited Karachi since 1992. But some years back, I came to know that our Parsi community's burial place, Tower of Silence, was near the airport. In the Zoroastrian tradition, dead bodies are left exposed to birds in the open. If it is true, then the tower could be shifted to somewhere else after consultations with this peaceful community that has contributed a lot to the city and our country.

However, after googling the web, I found that the Boeing 747 was produced in the late 1960s and entered service with Pan American Airlines in 1970. Thus age of the aircraft can be the main reason for the fire!

I want to say again: It’s time for the officers with intoxicating salary packages to come to their senses (see yesterday’s blog)! The government should properly investigate both incidents. It must bring reforms in the aviation. Change is a must for the national flag-carrier to get its lost glory back. Remember: it takes no time for a bird to become an elephant in the airline industry!

Link
1- Dawn: http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/metropolitan/14-pia-plane-engine-catches-fire-at-karachi-airport-zj-05
2- Flight Global: http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2007/06/03/216270/boeing-747-aircraft-profile.html

July 29, 2010

Pakistan aircrash: an act of terror or accident?

By Habib R. Sulemani

Yesterday was a sad day of my life although it started with a pleasant rainy morning. Yes! July and the monsoon together!!

I was surfing the news when an aircraft crossed above my home—it was flying low and due to the noise, I almost lost my hearing power for a while. Later on came the breaking news.

The Airbus A321 of a private airline had tried to land at the Islamabad airport, near my home, but due to “cloudy weather crashed” into the nearby Margalla Hills. Officials have declared 152 people, including two Americans, dead in the “biggest air tragedy” in the 62-year history of Pakistan.

Terror and tragedies have struck our unfortunate country for the last many years. But our ruling class is busy in the bloody game of power-struggle. The corrupt politicians and cunning establishment are playing politics-politics while the common people are dying in terror attacks, careless accidents and incidents of suicide due to the apathy of our governments.

No-one is sincere to remove the life-threatening ignorance and poverty from this nation state’s body—even in the second decade of the 21st century. Yesterday, after the plan crash, besides the volunteers, some people went to the hills not to help the victims but to loot valuables! Some adventurous guys went there out of curiosity while others to see and tell our news-starving media the horrific story in an exaggerated way!

The competency of government officials, rescuers and media persons equally proved nuts!!! But, yes this is Pakistan—as they say: Yahan aisa he hota hay (it’s not something new to bother us). Classical carelessness! I wonder: when things will change for better and our people will get some hope and respect in the comity of nations?

Anyhow, after the 9/11 tragedy, the business of airlines went down all over the world. The situation of our national flag-carrier, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), has gone worse since then—corruption and nepotism have brought the corporation near to bankruptcy!

Western countries are not only suspicious of us but also our national airline today! In such a situation, the latest airline tragedy has added to the fear of the people about our air safety system. It’s time for the officers with intoxicating salary packages to come to their senses!

You may know that the Margalla Hills is not only a famous picnic spot in the twin cities of Rawalpindi-Islamabad but also an area from where attack of the Taliban on the capital was feared last year! Inhabitants of the skyscrapers, situated near the hills, had left for safer places in that time. However, after the military operation in Swat, this fear got diluted.

According to officials, a body has been set up to carry out investigation into the airline disaster. However, I want to draw attention of the government to a point, which the investigators must consider carefully: the aircrash was an act of terrorism or just an accident? Where is the black-box?

(Photos of the cloudy city, taken by the blogger from his rooftop, after the tragedy)

July 28, 2010

Is there a democratic government in Pakistan?

By Hassina Parveen

Today—four months have been completed. My elder brother is living under a sort of house arrest in Rawalpindi. After attempts on his life, our family sought security from Pakistan's federal government, and decided not to let him go outside unless security was provided. But, unfortunately, our government has adopted criminal silence. It speaks volumes about the conspiracy against our family!

Personally, I will never forget the mental torture at the Karakoram International University (Gilgit) in my life. Our lives have changed forever. My younger sister Nasira Parveen (see her blogs below) has been stopped from attending classes at the university since March this year while I’m being tortured indirectly so that I could leave my education incomplete (final semester of MSc economics).

My studies have suffered a lot as I remained sick for a long time after the criminal drama against my sister on campus. My blood pressure had crossed 150/100 but still I appeared in the examination. I never accepted defeat and left for my village to keep myself busy with the herds of sheep!


We’re grateful to all those people who have been supporting us morally in this time of tyranny when we've been isolated in the society, and organs of the state are being used against our family members. But I’m surprised that why some people smile at our suffering. Indeed, these sadists are not aware of their own families' future!

However, we’ll not stop until we get justice through the judicial system of our country. We’ve faith in this country and its constitution. And we'll continue our struggle to hold the criminals accountable. Today, they're powerful and can make fun of us—but we’ve faith in God and our judicial system. With the prayers of my parents, the criminals would be put behind bars soon!

Like other family members, I’m always positive and filled with hope. I along with my parents and siblings think about betterment in the society. That's why in my family education is given priority. We’re armless but fighting with the “powerful evils” in our society. We’ve never kept a gun and are fighting with pens (read keyboards). We still want to prove that pen is mightier than sword.

We’ll continue to tell the nation and world at large how a group has held the entire population hostage in our country! They terrorize common people whenever they seek basic rights or criticize the inhuman behavior of the elite. We’ll tell the world that the majority of Pakistanis wants economic, educational and social development not wars. People are getting our message now. This will bring an end to the tyrant rule of the "godfathers" hopefully! We, the common people, stand for peace but the establishment wants wars—because it makes money out of conflicts!

July 27, 2010

ISI is an evildoer in the world?

By Habib R. Sulemani

On July 25, 2010 the WikiLeaks released a set of documents – the Afghan War Diary, containing over 91,000 classified reports from 2004 to 2010 – written by soldiers and intelligence officers.

The documents reveal that Pakistan’s main secret agency the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is clandestinely collaborating with the Taliban in Afghanistan despite the US aid to our government to end terrorism in the region.

The documents say that the ISI supports the militants and its officers meet directly with the Taliban in “secret strategy sessions to organize militant networks fighting US soldiers”. Former ISI chief Lt-Gen. Hamid Gul met Al Qaeda guys in South Waziristan to plain a suicide attack on US forces.

The leaks link the ISI to a plot to assassinate Afghan President Hamid Karzai, attacks on NATO warplanes, a plot to poison the beer supply of Western troops and the 2008 Indian embassy bombing.

Earlier media reports had also claimed that the ISI allegedly sent 1,000 motorbikes – the heavenly-ride of the militants in the rocky terrain – to the chief of the Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network to carry out suicide attacks in Afghanistan.

I wonder is the ISI really an evildoer in the world or some rogue officers have disgraced the national security organization to the level that even common citizens are horrified by its name!

(Impression by the blogger)

July 26, 2010

Intellectual terrorism: keeping the record straight

By Ghulam Rehman

Sitting in front of my PC, I’m thinking about those of my friends and relatives who used to meet me on regular basis or kept connected through emails, phone calls and text messages—but soon after the criminal attacks on members of my family, they suddenly disappeared!

“I’m afraid of the secret agencies,” said a friend, who came across accidentally the other day.

He showed sympathy with me and explained how helpless he was to meet me on regular basis like prior to the crisis (Please see archives of The Terrorland blog).

“They (secret agencies) may pick me if I keep meeting you,” he added truthfully.

Most of our relatives and friends have the same fear. It’s not something surprising. I know the reason very well! They’re being terrorized directly or indirectly! They know how powerful the culprits are—this shows that Pakistan belongs to those who can terrorize the common people.

Our people know the reality—but they’re afraid to speak out load! According to a criminal plan, my younger sister, Nasira Parveen, was targeted at the Karakoram International University in Gilgit and later attempts were made to kill my elder brother, Habib R. Sulemani, in Rawalpindi. When they failed to achieve their target in the first place, they started a propaganda campaign against our family and isolated us in the society as ‘traitors’. And when someone in this country is declared ‘infidel’ or ‘traitor’ then social boycott of the accused is a ‘normal’ public reaction!

But thanks to the internet that we’re telling the truth to the world and this has given the group of criminals sleepless nights (sources say). No doubt, the internet has proved lifeline for our family in this period of tyranny and operation in Pakistan. However, now they want to cut this lifeline in some tricky way—insiders say that they’ve already started an “engineered” campaign! Evidences are being collected in this regard. We will never stop writing and keeping the nation and world informed no matter what happens. Thanks God, majority of our family members can read and write!

A few so-called relatives – either they're part of the government machinery or have become their puppet – had been a part of the plot to kill our family members. Even today, they’re trying hard to please their masters in different ways! Currently, in different cunning ways, they’re trying to stop us from writing blogs—but we’ve clearly said: No. They’re in search of a chance to complete their sinister mission incomplete, and please their powerful masters and get benefits—as some of them want to make their jobs going on while others want to get promotions and other benefits in this chaotic country! It’s very shocking but I don’t want to go into details—I'm writing this to set the record straight. However, these relatives, who're playing in the hands of the criminal group, should keep in mind that we believe in forgiveness! 

July 25, 2010

Mr. Obama! Think twice before handing over sack of dollars

By Ghulam Rehman

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in her recent visit to Pakistan assured an additional aid to support our government in different areas particularly in the energy, agriculture, trade, education and women’s empowerment sectors.

During her two-day visit, she met President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani, Army Chief Gen. Kayani, federal ministers, representatives of civil society and media persons to convey the Obama administration’s message regarding peace and development in our terror-hit country.

The US Senate on September 24, 2009 had approved legislation, commonly known as the Kerry-Lugar Act, to triple non-military aid to Pakistan—about $1.5 billion a year for the next five years. This amount is now expected to be invested by the private sector development organizations especially NGOs to minimize chances of corruption—our trademark symbol in the world!

But there is no guarantee that the private sector would be able to achieve the given target of the American administrations. Every sector and organization is under the influence of the establishment and without it no-one can work in Pakistan. We’ve groups of swindlers who rule everywhere! They are interlinked in our country. That is why development is just a slogan here and thus majority of the population is poor and illiterate.

We're living in a very strange era of history! The powerful elite are abusing their power everywhere in a ruthless way without any shame and fear while the poor people are being terrorized. The media has become a battleground for different factions of the ruling class! After the media, secret agencies have taken control of different NGOs and even the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan—in such a way development of the social sector especially empowerment of women is just an American dream!

Our education system has given free space to criminals to use schools, colleges and even universities for their nefarious activities. The example of the Karakoram International University Gilgit is historic in nature (see The Terrorland blog archives), where the administration at the behest of a group of powerful journalists and secret agencies tried to kill my younger sister, Nasira Parveen. We've written to the president, prime minister, chief justice and army chief but there is no response so far. In such a situation, can the US government get its target of social development in Pakistan? It’s a question worth millions!

If the Obama administration wants to spend the American tax-payers' money unlike the former Bush administration—then there must be a direct monitoring system to watch every development project in Pakistan. This is the basic need no matter it is done through foreign officials, satellites or the Google earth! To educate and empower women, and bring an end to violence against the most depressed segment of our society, needs extra ordinary measures before handing over the sack of dollars to the government or NGOs in Pakistan. In this way, extremism and terrorism couldn’t be cashed ruthlessly at the American ATM!

July 24, 2010

Whether women’s rights?

By Nasira Parveen

First of all, let me say a few words of thanks. I’m gratified to all those who are encouraging me by their comments. I’m really thankful to Nicole MacDonald, Jmal Ashiqain, Rajab Ali, Alpha Za, Deneb Sumbul, Sidhusaaheb and all others. This is a healthy sign of humanity.

In Pakistan, dozens of government and non-governmental organizations are claiming that they’re working for the rights of women in our male-dominated society. But experience has proved that they're, mostly, involved in a PR-affair through their friends in the media. And in this way they do more paper-work while sitting in air-conditioned rooms. Thus they succeed to trap ‘naïve’ donors from abroad.

So far, these human and women rights bodies have failed to provide even the basic rights to the fair sex especially in rural areas of our country. Women are being treated worse than animals even by the so-called educated people. This is a tragedy of our education system.

Although there is now a law but even then women are being harassed at workplaces and educational institutions. In such a situation, most of the women remain silent or commit suicide. They’re unable to look straight in the eyes of the criminals. A woman in such a situation thinks that if she raised her vice against the culprit/s or tried to fight back, she would fail and face the worse! So her family and friends also compel her to keep silent as it has been the tradition in our 'veiled' society.

Men often attack their opponents’ womenfolk to take revenge in the “honor-conscious” society. In this evil practice, not only the uneducated and rural people are involved, but very educated and urban people are also using this tactic in ‘tactful’ ways! I’m a living example of this social behavior--to punish my brother for writing against the establishment, they targeted me in a planned way. Destroying a woman's career is very common nowadays, and men often pride themselves for such a shameless ‘bravery’ in our Islamic republic.

The sickly sadistic ways of many men in our 'democratic' country are strange. It's a shock for those who read religious literature which favors women’s rights. The rights of women are guaranteed by Islam but in our society it is being violated, which is a matter of shame for our political and religious leaders. Why are women being disgraced in this Islamic society, especially those women who use their brain? Are we going back to the Middle Ages?!

July 23, 2010

All in the name of human rights

(Protest letter to the Human Rights Watch on a recent report)

Ali Dayan Hasan is a former employee of the Dawn Media Group in Pakistan, which has published his ambiguous article. He was a colleague of Editor Dawn Zaffar Abbas, who has been accused of working for the ISI and being involved in a plot to kill Habib R. Sulemani for writing a novel, The Terrorland, which discusses the nexus between a group of journalists and secret agencies.

As a researcher of the Human Rights Watch, Mr. Hasan has kept silent over the continuing torture to Mr. Sulemani and his family members for the last four months. However, now he has come out with this controversial article in the controversial newspaper under a controversial editor!!! What Mr. Hasan really wants to say in this ‘crafty’ article?

That:

1) Pakistan's intelligence and law-enforcement agencies are engaged in 'abusive' practices at the behest or pressure from Britain, the US and other players in the fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda?

2) The Pakistani agencies are puppets in the hands of foreign players?

3) Mr. Hasan, at the behest of the accused editor, wants to justify the criminal acts of our own agencies?

4) Or there is something else…?

The Human Rights Watch should investigate the matter for its global reputation.

Link:

Intelligence matters: http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/07/16/intelligence-matters

July 22, 2010

Let Pakistan grow intellectually

FREEDOM of thought and expression is what that will make Pakistan stronger in this cyber age. If we can’t speak about the errors in our system then others will do 'damaging' things as there is no more any secret in the cyber age. The news reaches the world in some way no matter how stronger the “news cartel” is in this country!

Let’s be realistic and point out the flaws in every institution including the military, secret agencies and journalism. The traditional tyrant ways should now be history. Do you understand at the helm of affairs?

Look, what the traditional mindset has done to us -- intellectual bankruptcy! A live example is the story of Habib R. Sulemani and his family! After leaking his novel, The Terrorland, to secret agencies, he has reportedly been declared a ‘traitor’ for writing fiction! This is the traditional tyrant mentality of our traditional establishment.

It’s time for the clergymen to stop calling fellow citizens ‘infidels’ and the ‘wise’ establishment should take creative people easy—don’t declare them ‘unpatriotic’. Let Pakistan intellectually grow now! This is the first and foremost defense-line!

Men! Wake up! It is 21st century!

(By Rehman, The Express Tribune: http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/606/i-confess-i-am-a-traitor/?sms_ss=facebook)

July 21, 2010

Dialog: Pakistan gets blood-bath again & again


REHMAN: Why Pakistan gets blood-bath again and again?

TERRI: A very good question. Violence is pandemic, though in different forms - like a disease, a virus which affects the whole of the human race; it wounds, scars, culls us. Has done since time began, as if it is in our genes, as if we had no choice. Rage certainly eradicates choice: it is the point where anger explodes within us - the explosion... See More demonstrated by the bomb and the bullet. Oh, who armed rage??? If only we valued life more than our judgment, our opinions, our sense of pride, of honour. If only we could love with more energy than we put into our rage.

REHMAN: Terri! Thanks for the comments. In our society, people are being terrorized... they fear to talk about aspects of terrorism freely, and silently become victim! The Terrorland blog is a liberal forum to discuss terrorism especially intellectual terrorism and the mass media, which is a taboo subject in Pakistan. Habib R. Sulemani wants to make our country stronger and a global leader through knowledge and wisdom, not borrowed weapons! But this is not acceptable to the corrupt-to-the-core establishment, because in this way there is no kickback! Thus, Mr. Sulemani along with his family members is in the line of fire!

TERRI: Yes, there are many forms of terrorism, Rehman. That which induces terror: a feeling of extreme fear, a state of mind which pushes all other considerations aside and freezes the natural capacity to live life, to create, build a family, a home, a community, a country. Freezes also the necessary energy to right wrongs, to address injustices, till all ... See More that is left is the minimal survival instinct to live, eat, breathe… So terror freezes potential, arrests development, blinds us to all that could be in our lives, our family, our country.

TERRI: Yes, education - leading to insight and understanding, broadening our capacity to analyse and plan action which is the most effective but the least harmful. Much like the Hippocratic Oath, come to think of it! "To do no harm"... something which is not an easy task in the effort to find healing in our societies. It is very true though that two wrongs don't make a right - but who knows 100% what is right and what is wrong - every person has differing views on the same subject! A philosopher such as Kant I think said something is right only if it is universally applicable - ie what is right for one must be so for all - such as we should not kill. But in anger and desperation people do kill, perhaps thinking there is no other way out of their situation. Martin Luther King said 'a riot is the language of the unheard'. That to me is a lesson that no-one, whether individual or a government, ought to act without consideration and consensus. Yet again - there is a majority rules view - for we would never get anything done if we listened to all. So the minority will become angry and feel disaffected - unless we realise that in each community some decisions need to be made and if the majority agree then the rest of us have to concur.

TERRI: If we feel strongly enough we can campaign for what we feel is fair and just! But comes a time when we come to the end of our capacity to campaign… many of us become tired. But some, still, have the energy and resentment enough for anger and bitterness to become entrenched. We can only plead with them to come to the table to talk, be listened to, respectfully, and for any wrongs to be righted or an attempt, a beginning, be made…

TERRI: Oh, we could all talk forever on this subject. It comes down to one choice - whether we as an individual have the right to terrorise another human being. We have the right to voice our opinion... but even there some don't have that right respected - so it comes down to respect for one another in all circumstances - and sticking to that even when others do not. The alternative is mayhem. We can only campaign for justice. Eventually it will come. Look at Martin Luther King. A giant voice! Mandela. The Suffragettes. Faiz Ahmed Faiz!! All my humble opinion, I should add...

REHMAN: Great! And thank you again for this piece of wisdom... very poetic and philosophical in nature. Blessing be upon you always.

(This dialog between Terri Liddell and Rehman Pak took place on the Facebook the other day. Impression by The Terrorland Team)

July 20, 2010

Mock exercise! Cellphone snatched at gunpoint

By Ghulam Rehman

Yesterday, in the evening, a relative came to visit us at our home in Rawalpindi. We chatted for about an hour or so and then he wanted to meet someone in the area. He left, saying that he would be back within 20 minutes.

After three minutes the doorbell rang. He was back but with a terrorized face!

“What happened?” I asked, “are you okay?”

“I saw death from a very close range,” he answered while cleaning the beads of perspiration from his forehead.

We all there were shocked but happy that he was alive! Since March this year, we're living under the shadow of death especially after attempts on the life of my elder brother in the same locality. Since then, he has not stepped outside the home, seeking security from the government.

Anyhow, the relative set on the sofa near his wife. “Two armed guys on a bike snatched my cellphone just outside,” he told his wife with a weary smile.

We all looked at each other and took sigh of relief that the culprits didn't hurt him. "Cellphones come and go, no problem, life is precious," someone commented happily.

“The cellphone is no problem,” his wife said, “did they beat you?”

"No," he said, "I didn't show resistance."

Then he narrated the whole story with a pretended smile. The men, riding on the bike stopped him outside our home as if they were on a sort of ‘duty’ and put the gun towards his head. They snatched his phone and fled away.

Such incidents rarely happen in our Satellite Town, a middle-class area of the city. The movement of ‘mysterious’ people has also been reduced in the area, which had even terrorized some of our neighbors.

“Spies were moving here and there especially in the park (outside our home) after the attempts on your brother's life,” a neighbor told me while looking around. “But this (snatching of cellphone) seems a new phenomenon! Be careful!”

There are some questions in my mind: why the culprits made our relative a target although there were some other people around as well? Why this happened in a time when we’re facing threat from the accused gang of journalists, government officials and secret agencies?


Isn’t this a "mock exercise" to fulfill their sinister plan – kill and declare it an incident of street crime? A reporter of DawnNews was reportedly killed in such a mysterious way in Lahore last year (See links).

"I know the criminal minds and their crimes very well," my brother says, "they want to kill me because they’re sure that when I'm gone the family would be scattered and finally history!"

Since start of the tragic episode, my parents are very ill due to continuous mental torture, but the government of Pakistan is still silent. No security, no investigation into the allegations and no registration of criminal cases against the powerful accused. We've no one but God!

Links
1- DawnNews reporter shot dead: http://www.allvoices.com/news/2801628-dawnnews-reporter
2- Dawn editorial: http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/editorial/tariq-malik

(Photo of the crime scene -- D-Block, Satellite Town, Rawalpindi -- by the writer)

July 17, 2010

I escaped death but she was killed

By Nasira Parveen

This year the racist and sectarian bent of mind people tried to kill me but they failed. However, last year, they had forced a man to kill his daughter in Hunza valley – considered a moderate and peaceful region in the violent Pakistan – in the name of “honor”.

Shila, 22, was killed and her death was declared an incident of suicide. She got "death sentence" from the community leaders because she had chatted with a guy who was from another sect and caste. There was a total blackout of this heinous crime in the media.

After Shila's chatting with that guy, the Taliban-like "moral brigade" of the village approached her father with their traditional cock and bull story. (One of the culprits is the same guy who tried to compel my family members to kill me—I'll write about it in my next blog).

"Your daughter has dishonored your family, our community and the entire valley," a local leader reportedly told Shila’s father. "Her existence in this world is a disgrace to all of us!"

"So what can I do?" the father asked in sheer helplessness.

"Do what is expected from a man with a sense of honor!" The leader pressed him to kill his poor daughter in the name of the so-called honor.

According to one of my classmates from the same village, it was an evening when Shila found her father moving here and there in the courtyard of their house. He was thinking the ways to kill his daughter but escape the long arm of the law. He was being forced to commit the crime to appease the angry bigwigs of the area.

Then the father gave Shila a piece of rope to hang herself for the sack of the family. Her tearful mother was totally helpless beating her chest in grief. Her father tried to make it easy for Shila by fixing the rope on a nearby tree-branch. She refused to hang herself and sought help from her mother. But she was too weak in the men's world.

Shila told her father that she was innocent but, unfortunately, the man was under immense pressure from the brutal community leaders who had threatened to boycott the family if the "stigma" was not removed from the society!

The father forced his daughter towards the gallows—controlling his emotions. "Give sacrifice for the sake of the family!"

Shila shouted for help but the whole village had become deaf and dumb.

"I'm innocent," she cried again before being hanged from the branch of an equal helpless tree.

After Shila's murder, the perpetrators made a fake story by saying: "Shila was depressed and committed suicide by hanging herself from the tree."

No postmortem was performed on her body as the so-called leaders said that it was “disgracing” the body of a woman in the society.

Shila's family members and villagers have not forgotten the heinous crime but they keep mum due to the terror of the powerful culprits. When I contacted some people in the village by phone (I’m living hundreds of kilometers away in Rawalpindi city after the attack on me in March this year), no one was ready to speak on the issue. “Don’t write anything about this case, they will kill you,” a relative feared.

Anyhow, Shila’s family pleased the society by killing her in a brutal way but her father is said to be in a miserable condition nowadays. Out of guilt, he has lost his senses!

Being a woman in our male-dominated society is really a very painful experience! And those women, who try to act like those brutal men, are a shame for humanity. I wonder if the government would order a judicial inquiry into the crime! A terrible story indeed! But, as my brother says, who cares for the laws and ethics mimicked as “intellectual snobbery” in our chaotic country.

(Impressions by The Terrorland Team)

July 14, 2010

The voice can't be suppressed

By Beth White

I read some of the blogs today for the first time. My heart goes out to you, your family and associates.

As an American, I hold the beliefs of freedom from oppression and freedom of speech close to my heart. How can I help you?

You must know that Americans - for the most part - are good people seeking the same things other people around the world seek - opportunities to care for our families and live a peaceful coexistent life. I feel shame for mankind that we have not achieved peace and equality in our shared world.

You must keep up your blog and keep in your mind and heart that people are reading it and are angry about how you must live your lives. It is only through knowledge and exposure of the wrongdoing that the greater good for all can be reached.

You have touched me so much that I again ask - what can I do to help you??? I wish you all the best and will remain a reader of the blogs.

(Photo by The Terrorland Team)

July 13, 2010

Facing cyber censorship in Pakistan

By Ghulam Rehman

“Who will publish your story—who will believe you?” This was what those criminal minds, who wanted to strangulate our entire family, had told my elder brother. Thanks to the cyber age that the news of our suffering not only reached the nation but also the entire world.

There is nothing for hackers in The Terrorland group blog, which is, currently, focusing on the sufferings of a journalist and his family members. This blog is just like a lifeline for the family which is under overt and covert attacks. If we had not this facility to tell the world our story, the "journalistic cartel" in the country with the help of secret agencies and other networks would have strangulated us so far—and no body would have doubted them as they had spent months to execute their criminal plan in a foolproof way! But, as they say, man proposes but God disposes!

However, now, this blog has become a victim of cyber censorship. It's really shocking for all those who believe in democracy, human rights, freedom of thought and expression. We’ve found a voice in the cyberspace but the rogue authorities want to suppress it. I don't know what is the real task of the anti-cyber crimes department in our country?!

The moderators are facing problem to operate this blog. The blog doesn't open often. Whenever the moderators try to update the blog, after entering the user ID and passwords, the Dashboard of unwanted blogs appear suddenly, and access to the original blog is denied. The blog can't be operated on the internet protocol level for hours. Sometimes certain posts and comments – critical of the establishment and accused – remain invisible.

The hacked Dashboard is often filled with a group of blog as you may see in the photograph here.

In this way this blog remains out of reach of the moderators. It's frustrating for all of us including family members, relatives, friends, well-wishers and regular blog visitors in our country. Counterfeit blogs often replace The Terrorland blog. They change every time. These cyber harassers are using Pakistani IDs.
There're problems to access social networks as well, especially the Facebook, Twitter and The Terrorland Google Group. While using the Facebook, often the ID changes spontaneously. My account is suddenly replaced by someone else’s. “Authentication failure,” this appears on the screen when I try to operate my own account. Thus one is unable to operate ones own account on the Facebook and Twitter.

We’ve observed that there are fake accounts using the names of our family members. We doubt they’re being abused. An email account was hacked recently. Our family's email accounts are interrupted continuously. Sometimes mails disappear from the inbox—sometimes they just appear for a second and then disappear again—they can't be seen at all again or are shown below or in the middle of the old emails later on—I think all of our emails are being filtered that’s why we don’t get many emails from friends.

Besides the websites and emails, our telephones are also being bugged. My brother complained to the cellular company in an email on April 13, 2010.

Dear Sir,

As a subscriber of Telenor Pakistan (Cell: 03459724909), I’m shocked that my phone is being bugged. Text messages from my family members are being edited before reaching me and some SMS disappear unexpectedly from my Inbox although there is no problem of space. This is in violation of the laws and not expected from a multinational firm like Telenor.

Sincerely,

Habib R. Sulemani
Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

Soon a ‘smart’ guy from the company contacted my brother on his cell phone but my brother sought answers in the form of an email. And then there was a tricky response on April 14, 2010.

Dear Mr. Sulemani,

Thank you for writing to Telenor. With reference to your email hereunder and as per our subsequent telephonic conversation, we would like to inform you that your stated apprehensions aren’t technically possible. During our conversation, we also couldn’t acquire/conceive any concrete rationale behind your apprehensions. We hope our comment answers your concerns.

Moreover, please feel free to contact us whenever you think we can be of any assistance. We shall be more than delighted to hear from you!

Najam Riaz
Customer Relations
Telenor Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd.
The Mall, Lahore.
My brother immediately replied.

Dear Mr. Riaz,

I had not a long conversation or reasoning “during our (telephonic) conversation” so how could “we acquire/conceive any concrete rationale”. I faced the problem for days and had asked to write me how bugging was not possible technically.

Regards,

Habib R. Sulemani

Then there was another phone call explaining that they were helpless to stop the secret agencies from bugging calls and messages. When my brother demanded that the company should write the reason in written. The man excused showing his helplessness, but later wrote this "technical" email.

Dear Mr. Sulemani,

Thank you for writing to Telenor and having brought your concern into our notice. With reference to your e-mail hereunder and as per our telephonic conversation on 03459724909 regarding the issue mentioned hereunder. Pertinent to the same, please be informed that your concern has been completely addressed on the phone call.

Furthermore, we have noted down your concerns in this regard. Nonetheless, we sincerely regret the inconvenience caused in the due course.

Moreover, please feel free to contact us whenever you think we can be of any assistance. We shall be more than delighted to hear from you!

Best Regards,

Muhammad Mustanser Yaqoob
Customer Relations
Telenor Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd.
The Mall, Lahore.


Similarly, on May 28, 2010 my brother complained to the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL), saying that our landline phone at home was being bugged. There was an automatic acknowledgement, however, the PTCL authorities didn’t bother to address this issue. There is no response since then. We’re at the mercy of a bunch of tricky people with their tricky games. These sadistic guys neither care about the professional ethics nor the laws of the land!

On June 16, 2010 we started using the PTCL broadband internet service, but the connectivity is more or less like that of the dialup connection. We’ve complained on the phones: 051-2505194 & 1218 but no official has bothered to solve the problem.

Our suffering has proved that Pakistanis are basically gentle, honest, loving, hospitable and peaceful people but our establishment is the real bad guy that has earned us a bad name globally! Let’s be clear: we’ve nothing to hide. We’re an open book. We’re not afraid of the harassing tricks, but they’re in violation of the laws and basic human rights. No one can stop us from fighting for our basic human rights in this oppressive society! We'll fight until we get our due rights according to the Constitution of our beloved country.

(Photos by The Terrorland Team)

July 6, 2010

Mr. President! I need justice in the Islamic Republic

By Nasira Parveen

I had never thought that a day will come in my life when everyone would turn against me suddenly. But this happened! It was the day when the dishonest administration of the Karakoram International University (KIU), in Gilgit, made a cock and bull story and tried to kill me in the name of honor.

On March 22, 2010, my roommate Safina Bano, who was made part of the well planned drama, took me to the KIU faculty from the hostel. There we came across her fiancé Sheraz Ali Khan (an employee of the Military Accounts in Rawalpindi) with his friend Shah Fahad (working with the military-owned Askary Bank in Gilgit). Then all of a sudden hell broke down. “Two girls raped on KIU campus, see the news in the newspapers tomorrow,” SMSes started circulating with the speed of light. I was shocked but, to my surprise, my roommate was normal! I came to know the reason later only…

Indeed, I was a soft target for those who wanted to punish our entire family for the writings of my elder brother (Habib R. Sulemani). They had selected me as the prime target according to their mass murder plan. I was a woman, a symbol of honor and vulnerable to attacks in our male-dominated society. So, they were very sure of the success of their wicked plan at the first stage. But, it went wrong!

When I stood before the university's monkey administration like a mountain, they were shocked to death! They tried to force me to leave the hostel without any reason or investigation. I argued with the officials that I had not violated any rule of the university in my four-year stay there, and on the basis of their rumors and character assassination campaign, I was not ready to walk out.

“Keep silent," Dr Ahsanullah Mir, the KIU registrar, warned, "otherwise you will be made a colorful story in the media, even in the very newspaper where your brother works.”

Another official said that it was a matter of their jobs so I should leave the campus temporarily.

Vice-Chancellor Dr Najma Najam was shuttling between Islamabad and Gilgit as my elder brother was planning legal action against the culprits.

“My brave sister Nasira. I'm so sorry that you've been targeted by the coward criminals who were attacking me for years in different ways for being an upright journalist. The attempt on you was actually an attack on me, but they've failed again. I salute you for showing courage when the whole world was made against you in this tribal society. Our lives are under threat but we refuse to bow before the racist and sectarian terrorists. Your proud brother Habib,” my brother sent me this SMS on the occasion.

The university administration in frustration called my father at the hostel one day and grilled him brutally inside a closed room to take me along (he is sick since then). But he refused to take me out of the hostel amid the propaganda-triggered looming dangers. Some relatives, people from our area and sect were openly accusing me of 'dishonoring' them by talking to a Pathan (non-local), with whom, after the people of Kashrote, the so-called locals hesitate to interact as a part of social prejudices.

Anyhow, my father demanded an independent investigation into the matter. It was almost a week and I was refusing to go out of the hostel due to the looming dangers. But they didn't allow me to attend classes. I objected on this illegal action again.

In the meanwhile, the university administration tried to kill me. I was also suggested to commit suicide to avoid the 'shameful' situation. When failed, they forcefully took me to the house of my uncle so that any 'honor-conscious' relative kills me so that their crime remains hidden. Fortunately, their criminal plan had been exposed and support of family members saved my life at that point.

One thing bothers me a lot. Being a female vice-chancellor, why Dr Najma Najam with Prof Salma Durrani, her closest friend on campus, put my life in danger? I’m ashamed when I see them in the media advocating for the rights of women. I'm ashamed to call them women! Anybody can hire their services to destroy someone’s life or carrier. They’re evils on campus, and enemies of students and our education system.

I’m out of the university for over three months and have missed one semester. I’m being tortured along with other family members in different ways. They’re powerful and are using state apparatus and social agents against us. Despite appeals from my family members, the federal and provincial governments are silent.

As an innocent citizen and younger sister of a martyr of the Pakistan Army, I appeal to President Asif Ali Zardari, who is also Chancellor of the Karakoram International University Gilgit, to immediately suspend KIU Vice-Chancellor Dr Najma Najam, Registrar Dr Ahsanullah Mir, Additional Registrar Muhammad Hussain, Prof Salma Durrani, Associate Professor Dr Muhammad Ramzan, Assistant Professor Manzoor Ali, Director Campus Administration Karim Khan, hostel warden Ms Tahira and others involved in this heinous crime.

I also appeal an independent investigation into the matter and registration of criminal cases against the criminals so that no one dares to destroy the lives of innocent students, at the newly established university in Gilgit-Baltistan, in the future.


ENEMIES OF EDUCATION: Members of the Karakoram International University's administration (left to right) Dr Najam, Dr Mir, Mr Hussain, Manzoor Ali, Dr Ramzan, Karim Khan, Prof Durrani and Ms Tahira. (Letter to the President of Pakistan)

July 3, 2010

Suicide bombers hit my city again

By Habib R. Sulemani

Last night suicide bombers hit a Sufi shrine in Lahore—the cultural capital of Pakistan. About 50 people died and over 100 were injured in the terror attack. Last week, during two terrorist attacks on the minority Ahmadiya community in this city, about 100 people were killed and 107 injured. The news of the latest attack on the TV made me gloomy. There was pain in my head during the whole day.

Lahore is the city where I lived for over a decade and the shrine of Data Sahib (also known as Ali Hujwiri Data Ganj Bakhsh) was in my neighborhood. I used to go inside the shrine and mosque whenever I felt the urge. He was an eleventh-century saint considered author of the first book on Sufism in Persian. His shrine is a spiritual place for those Sunni Muslims (majority) who believe in Islamic mysticism instead of ‘jihadism’.

In the same locality, there is also a Shia Muslim shrine known as Karbala Gamay Shah. I was a regular visitor to this worship place as well. Besides going to the Jamaat Khana of the Ismaili Muslims, I also used to visit the Cathedral Church. The Gurdwara of Sikhs and Baitul Ahmediya were not strange to me either. I get spiritual enhancement everywhere. I have no problem with a temple, mosque, church, synagogue or any other place of worship. But whenever any of the religious places are attacked, I shed tears of blood. “Can God of any religion be this much ruthless?” I always speculate.

In addition to the military, police and paramilitary forces, there are more than a dozen secret agencies working in Pakistan including the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intelligence (MI), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Crime Investigation Agency (CIA) and Special Branch.

Now, the questions in my mind are: what is our government doing today to maintain law and order in the country? What is the task of our security agencies? Why are these agencies not able to stop acts of terror in major cities including Karachi and Lahore? Which ones of these agencies give alarms of 'possible' terror attacks and which ones fail to stop the attacks? What are the links between the two? Officers of these agencies are professional or just getting their salaries like other government departments? Whose orders officers of these agencies obey really? Are there certain officers in these agencies who play political, racial and sectarian games in the country? What is the parameter to declare a person ‘true’ Muslim or ‘patriotic’ citizen? Why the mindset of the mullahs and officers of secret agencies is similar (as they can declare anyone ‘infidel’ or ‘unpatriotic’ besides giving those extremists entry visa to haven who volunteer to kill the accused)? What is the actual role of foreign agencies in the deteriorating law and order situation?

Presently, terrorist groups are operating everywhere in the country but our government and security agencies are busy in dirty politics. Personnel of the secret agencies are being used to harass innocent people. They’ve become symbol of terror among the common people since cases of missing persons came in the national and international media. They can directly or in directly attack or humiliate anyone, but yet they fail to control the Taliban, Al Qaeda and other terrorist networks who are not killing the common people only but security personnel as well. But these agencies seem silent spectators. What kind of message this gives to the nation and the world? Our rulers give a damn about it?
 
The public’s perception about our secret agencies and their working style has been negative as successive military dictators always misused them to remain power. What people think and say cannot be ignored in this cyber age. A reflection of it can be witnessed in the global media as 'cartelization' of news doesn't allow our local media to touch real issues of the country! To be frank, our agencies need overhauling according to the changed world. They're maintaining the status quo of military dictators, General Zia and General Musharraf.

For the last three months, after attempts on my life, I'm locked inside my home. I’m being harassed with my family members. Our telephones are being recorded, text messages and emails being bugged. The Terrorland blog is often interrupted and moderators fail to connect or update the site for hours.

However, the terrorists have been given free hand! Is this democracy? Where are we destined for in the 21st century as a nation state? What will history tell posterity about the current heads of our state, government, judiciary, military, secret agencies and other departments? What decision history will give about our media and journalists?

When I look around, nobody seems caring much about such silly questions. People in power are caring for only ‘today’ and they firmly believe that there is no ‘tomorrow’ for them! They’ve also lost connection with the ‘yesterday’ long ago! Oh, my unimaginative ruling elite!

Currently, my family members are living in three cities of the country: Rawalpindi, Gilgit and Hunza. Telephone is the only source of communication among members of our divided family in these difficult times when we're under attack from all directions.

The other day I was talking to a family member on the phone when suddenly a violent interruption in our conversation started! We were irritated.

“Listen to me,” I addressed the intruder, “I know who you’re...! We as a nation are ashamed of you! You’re supposed to protect the tax-paying citizens, but you’re harassing us! You’ve let the terrorists free but are terrorizing us in this country. Shame on you. Bastard!”

There was an awkward silence.

“They can't escape the wrath of God,” my relative from the other side tried to cool me down. “Just wait and see what God is going to do with these rogue people!”

(Photo by Habib R. Sulemani)