SACW | 5-6 March 2006 | A Brit Pak Ahmadi visits Pakistan; India in Neocon Embrace; Manifesto to fight Islamism; Kashmiris appeal to Pakistani's
- South Asia Citizens Wire | 5-6 March, 2006 | Dispatch No. 2226
 Unwelcome home: A Brit-Pak-Ahmadi spends Eid in Pakistan (Kiran Malik)
 India in Neocon embrace? (Praful Bidwai)
 Bush in India: Just Not Welcome (Arundhati Roy)
 International: Manifesto: Together facing the new totalitarianism
 Kashmir: An Appeal to the Civil Society in Pakistan (Association of
Parents of Disappeared Persons)
 India: Ambushed (Ananya Vajpeyi)
 Upcoming seminar: Communal Ideology and Resistance (Ahmedabad, March
Daily Star (Bangladesh)
March 05, 2006
A Brit-Pak-Ahmadi spends Eid in Pakistan
No dome, no minaret, no call to prayer, just an unmarked house in a
secret location. This is Eid prayers for the Ahmadiyya Muslim community
of Karachi, Pakistan.
As our taxi turns the corner, my mother recognises the "place of
worship" by the obvious blank space where its signboard once was. She
says nothing as we drive past it, then asks the driver to drop us at the
end of the road.
At the gate, a man asks us who we are, where we're from, who we're
related to. Satisfied, he lets us in.
He is right to be suspicious. The Ahmadiyya Muslim sect -- of which I am
a British Pakistani member -- was recently described as, "one of the
most relentlessly persecuted communities in the history of Pakistan" by
the BBC's Aamer Ahmed Khan.
In 1974, following riots orchestrated by Pakistan's Jamaat-e-Islami
party, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto caved into pressure from the Mullahs and
passed a motion to declare Ahmadis non-Muslim.
Ignoring warnings from prominent judges, human rights activists and
academics, Bhutto argued that appeasing the Mullahs would put an end to
But more than 30 years on, Pakistan's Muslims are in a state of civil
war. As well as the persecution of Ahmadis and recent attacks on the
minority Ismaili sect, extremists from Pakistan's dominant Sunni and
Shi'ite sects are intent on destroying each other.
Mosques and mullahs
As we enter the mosque, a small television in the corner plays MTA, the
television channel run by the Ahmadis out of London. On it is a re-run
with the Pakistani poet Obaidullah Aleem exchanging humorous couplets
with the third Caliph of the Ahmadi Jamaat, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad.
Although watching MTA in your own home is not forbidden under Pakistani
law, this seemingly innocuous action has led to targeted attacks on
Ahmadis all over Pakistan.
The Khutba is on the importance of giving charity and helping others.
There is no mention of Ahmadi persecution, no demand for rights, no
cries for vengeance.
At the end of the Khutba our Caliph asks us to pray for those killed in
the earthquake which took place a few weeks earlier. He also asks us to
remember those Ahmadis killed in an attack on an Ahmadi mosque around
the same time. That's it.
We say our salaams and wish Eid Mubarak to those around us. If caught,
we would face a minimum of three years in prison.
Freedom of expression
During my two weeks in Pakistan this January, I come across four
articles citing recent anti-Ahmadi propaganda. All report inflammatory
speeches from various mullahs describing the "Qadiani problem" (Qadiani
is what detractors call Ahmadis) as "the greatest problem facing Muslims
today," nearly all compare Ahmadis to Jews and insist they are agents of
One Mullah, not satisfied that Ahmadis are legally forbidden from
calling their places of worship "mosques," from giving Azan, from voting
and from calling themselves Muslim, insists on a social boycott of all
remaining "Qadianis" -- "Anyone who speaks to Qadianis will be
considered an agent of the Qadianis and deserves to be punished."
In another speech quoted by The Herald, a local mullah insists it is a
good Muslim's duty to "wipe Ahmadis off the face of Pakistan." Another
allegedly tells his audience at Majlis-e-Khatm-e-Nabuwat that Ahmadis
are "non-Muslims who deserved to be killed."
In light of recent events, when Muslim groups in Pakistan and the world
over have urged the media to consider practicing freedom of expression
with responsibility it seems ironic that for Pakistan's mullahs, freedom
of expression is a one-way street.
Irfan Hussain, a columnist with Pakistan's Daily Times and Herald
magazine, is one of the few voices maintaining pressure on the Pakistani
administration to resolve the Ahmadiyya issue. He argues that
Musharraf's policy of enlightened moderation is ineffective until the
will to change is passed through the entire system. A system which,
under Zia-ul-Haq, was progressively Islamised.
The mullahs don't agree. They see Musharraf's modernisation drive as a
sinister plot to create a "Qadiani state." Their criticisms would be
laughable if the repercussions were not so sinister.
One rants: "Musharraf is giving the Qadianis free reign, they are saying
Assalamo-Alaikum with impunity. We have evidence that they are praying
in the Muslim way and many have the Kalima in their homes."
In fact, according to figures published last November, 756 people have
been booked for the "crime" of displaying the Kalima -- which carries
the death penalty, 404 for "posing as Muslims," and 27 for celebrating
the Ahmaddiyya Centenary in 1989. More than 1,300 others have been
charged under similar provisions of this law -- all facing punishment
ranging from three years and a fine to life imprisonment or the death
In one case, Nazir Ahmad Khoso, a seventeen-year-old Ahmadi boy from
Sindh, was charged with "injuring the religious feelings of Muslims,"
and other related blasphemy charges and sentenced to 118 years in prison.
And the entire population -- 35,000 people -- of Rabwah, a town built by
the Ahmadis -- was charged under "PPC 298-C" in 1989. The crime --
having inscribed the Kalima Tayyaba and other Quranic verses on their
graves, buildings, offices of the community, places of worship, and
business centres. They were also charged with having said
Assalamo-Alaikum to Muslims, for having recited the Kalima Tayyaba, and
for having repeatedly indulged in similar Islamic activities.
Of course, I haven't researched any of this as I make my way to Rabwah
-- the centre of the Ahmadi community in Pakistan.
Houris and bureaucrats
On the face of things, Rabwah is an ordinary town. Unusually clean and
well-ordered compared to its surrounding area perhaps, but ordinary in
every other way.
Flanked on one side by the river Chenab, it is built on land purchased
by contributions from the community's faithful.
But Ahmadis have not even been able to find peace here. Local government
bodies, from which Ahmadis are excluded, have maintained an incessant
campaign of harassment against the townspeople.
In 1985, eleven years after declaring Ahmadis non-Muslim, the Punjab
Assembly ruled that the town be declared an open town, and forcibly
changed the name to Chenab Nagar.
Prior to this, in 1976, local mullahs took over Ahmadi-owned land on the
eastern part of Rabwah as police and local government forces looked on.
Ahmadis petitioned the Lahore High Court, and, unusually, the court
upheld the Ahmadis rights to the land.
Despite this, numerous mullahs and their acolytes are still in illegal
occupation of the land and have established a mosque, a seminary, and a
"Muslim Colony" there -- with government support.
"Muslim Colony" is flourishing and the various Mosques set up in it take
every opportunity to use their loudspeakers to spew hatred filled
sermons at their "Qadiani" neighbours. Ahmadis are, of course, legally
prevented from using loudspeakers in their own "place of worship."
And during my trip, the District Housing Committee Jhang, a government
body, advertises empty plots in Rabwah on the riverside in the press. In
direct violation of the Lahore High Court hearing, the text of the
advert reads: "Plots will be sold by auction, but only to those who
believed in 'complete and unconditional end of prophethood' and who is
not a disciple of anybody who claimed to be a prophet in any sense of
the word or was an Ahmadi/ Qadiani/Mirzai/Lahori."
And a few weeks earlier, local authorities shut off Rabwah's water
supply for four days, leaving "citizens groping for drops," according to
a Lahore-based newspaper.
This, under Musharraf's policy of enlightened moderation.
As we drive to my grandmother's grave, my mother tells me about the
university graduate she met on a train who insisted he had seen naked
houris dancing in the Ahmadi graveyard in Rabwah. My mother politely
suggested that this was maybe hearsay, but the man was adamant he had
seen them "with his own eyes."
Disappointingly, no such visions of loveliness greet us at our arrival
to the Chiste-Mukhbara, where my grandmother is buried alongside other
Instead, an ordinary graveyard, with two old men acting as guards.
As we are guided to my grandmother's grave we walk past hundreds of
graves which have had the Islamic inscriptions written on them scraped
off. Even in death, there is no respite.
I come across one positive story though. A family friend tells us of how
a teenager was arrested for saying Assalamo-Alaikum to a military man.
Apparently, after the boy had offered the greeting, the man asked him if
he was "Qadiani" to which the boy replied truthfully. This admission of
"guilt" was then used to drag the boy to the local police station.
Apparently, the police officer on duty that particular day saw the
absurdity of the charge and admonished the boy saying, "Did you have to
wish Salaam on this man? If you had just told him to go to hell I
wouldn't have to arrest you."
Preaching and PR
After Rabwah, I go to Lahore where I meet up with an uncle who has just
come back from the earthquake zone.
A trauma surgeon at Chicago's Cook County, he is one of 60 American
Ahmadi doctors who came to help following the earthquake in northern
Like other overseas Pakistanis, Ahmadis have been active in the
earthquake effort and the community's charity has donated over 286 tons
of Aid and helped over 50,000 earthquake survivors.
Yet they are unable to disclose who they are in the region, for fear of
being accused of missionary activity.
In the meantime, the earthquake region has turned into a PR battlezone
for Jamaat-e-Islaami and other extremist parties -- each loudly claiming
its role in helping the citizens of Pakistan and no doubt recruiting
members as they go.
Another positive story (kind of). I meet a lady in Lahore whose cousin
died in an attack on an Ahmadi mosque the day before the quake. Seven
Ahmadis were gunned down and 21 injured after gunmen attacked the mosque
in Moong, near Mandhi Bahuruddin.
She tells me of how local Sunnis rallied round their Ahmadi neighbours
at the time, and were the first to condemn the attacks: "Relations
between Ahmadis and other Muslims had always been good in Moong," she
says. "It was trouble-makers from outside, they came on motorcycles."
Ahmadis, Ismailis and the rest
Back in Karachi, it hits me that this rage and spirit of sectarianism
doesn't stop with the Ahmadis. As we drive past a KFC in my uncle's
lower-middle-class neighbourhood of Gulshan-e-Iqbal, my cousin tells me
of how it was rebuilt only months ago after it was burnt down by
protestors in May last year.
The protestors were not the usual anti-US suspects, but an enraged
Shi'ite mob that not only torched the building but prevented emergency
services from saving the workers trapped in the building. Four were
burnt alive and another two froze as they hid from the rabble in the
They were victims of a revenge attack after three men from a militant
Sunni group, including a suicide bomber, stormed the local Shi'ite
mosque during evening prayers.
It wasn't the first time violence flared between the two largest sects
and the latest Shi'ite-Sunni clashes in the NWFP show that it isn't
likely to be the last either.
And last year, a new group was formed. The Difa-e-Islam Mahaz: "Front
for the Defence of Islam" purports to protect Islam from the "evils" of
the "Aspostate Ismailis." They do this by burning down charitable
schools and hospitals built by the Aga Khan Foundation, which is
patronized by the spiritual leader of the Ismailis, the Aga Khan.
While Pakistan's Shi'ite and Sunni clerics continue to war amongst
themselves, police collusion and government apathy make Ahmadis an easy
target. In a country where Ahmadis are not allowed to defend themselves
through legal means (any defence of Ahmadi beliefs constitutes
missionary work and is thus a jailable offence), they reject violent
And the persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan, codified in law and
completely institutionalised, takes far more insidious forms than the
killings that make the news.
There are tragic stories of forced conversions, of people who keep the
truth about their beliefs secret from their neighbours and colleagues
and of other Muslims who have been forced to cut all links with Ahmadi
friends and family after threats of violence. In one particularly
obscene example, a Sunni doctor was brutally beaten after tending to an
Ahmadi child. This is the state of tolerance in Pakistan.
Hatred at home and abroad
In Naeem Mohaiemen's recent film, Muslim or Heretics
(muslimsorheretics.org), an anti-Ahmadi protestor in Bangladesh raises
his hands up to the sky as he prays, "Oh Allah! We are happy to live
side-by-side with our Ahmadi brothers, as we do with Hindus and
Christians, but that they call themselves Muslim, this we cannot bear!"
The experience of Pakistan, however, shows that branding the Ahmadis
non-Muslim will not be enough. Each concession leads to ever greater
In Pakistan, appeasing the mullahs has horribly backfired. And putting
the genie back into the bottle is a task that no government in Pakistan,
democratic or otherwise, has managed to do. Today, not only Ahmadis but
Ismailis, Christians, Hindus and even Shi'ites and Sunnis are open
targets in their places of worship. Places which, in all but the most
barbaric societies, are supposed to be sanctuaries.
During my trip, I met a surprising number of ordinary, practicing
Muslims who were genuinely ashamed of the way Ahmadis are treated.
By not speaking out however, those who know better in Pakistan have
allowed those who shout the loudest to hijack the political agenda.
There are a few brave exceptions, but most of the Pakistani media has
moved on -- Ahmadi persecution has become mundane.
And Ahmadis themselves seem resigned to their status as second-class
citizens. Many fear that rocking the boat could lead to more problems
for those who live there.
When I suggested making a documentary about the treatment of Ahmadis in
Pakistan, an Ahmadi Imam warned me against it saying: "Pakistan is not
Bangladesh, doing something like that here is almost impossible."
This indictment of Pakistan is a tribute to Bangladesh, where the battle
against fundamentalist forces is far from over.
As for Pakistan, some argue that the country -- which has the dubious
honour of being the birthplace of the term "secticide" (the systematic
destruction of a religious sect) -- is too far gone. They say it is only
a matter of time before the rest of the country follows the NWFP into
Others are more optimistic, and point out that the Islamic parties
garnered less than 5 per cent of the vote prior to the US "War on
Terror." They believe it is not too late to roll back to Jinnah's vision
of a secular and democratic state of Pakistan.
After years of repression, dissenting voices are few in Pakistan. Let us
hope that the example of Bangladesh will inspire Pakistani progressives
to once again speak out. And let us hope that this time, the Pakistani
administration has the will -- and the guts -- to listen.
Kiran Malik is a freelance contributor to The Daily Star.
The News International
March 04, 2006
India in Neocon embrace?
The writer, a former newspaper editor, is a researcher and peace and
human-rights activist based in Delhi
The visit to India by President George W Bush is a good occasion to
survey the changing but still confused attitudes of the Indian elite
towards the United States. An opinion poll commissioned by Outlook
magazine among the lower-middle class and higher strata in nine cities,
says 66 per cent of respondents believe that Bush is a ‘friend of
India’. Yet, 50 per cent believe Washington is ‘closer to Pakistan’ than
to India. (Only 30 per cent think the opposite to be true.) Strangely,
49 per cent think that this ‘friend’ hasn’t done ‘enough to help India’
fight terrorism. But an even larger 55 per cent still believe that
‘India can trust the US’ when in need!
As many as 72 per cent of respondents think the US is a global ‘bully’.
Fifty-nine per cent think India has ‘compromised on its foreign policy’
by getting too close to it. And yet, 46 per cent ‘love the US’! (Only 14
per cent ‘hate’ it.)
A June 2005 survey by the Pew Research Centre in the US confirms this
and highlights an India-Pakistan contrast. As many as 71 per cent of
urban Indians have a favourable opinion of the US — the highest such
proportion among the 16 countries surveyed. Only 41 to 45 per cent in
most Western European countries have such a favourable opinion, barring
the UK (55 per cent). The percentage is a miserable 23 per cent in Pakistan.
Other surveys show that poor people, who constitute a majority of
India’s population, are far more critical of Washington, but that
India’s upper crust is much more pro-US than even the middle class. This
elite is now severely re-aligning India’s foreign policy in Washington’s
favour — with evangelical zeal.
The enthusiastic welcome accorded to Bush offers eloquent evidence for
this. Indian policy-makers seem to suffer from amnesia about the
character of the US as a power in search of a global Empire, and about
Washington’s role in spreading insecurity and instability in the world,
including its most volatile region, West Asia-North Africa, as well as
This assessment is not based on knee jerk anti-Americanism or nostalgia
for non-alignment. It derives from an analysis of the driving forces
behind contemporary US foreign policies and actions. The US is engaged
in an aggressive project to reshape the world. Various statements of
this orientation are publicly available, including the ‘National
Security Strategy of the US’ and ‘Nuclear Posture Review’ of 2002, a
total of 44 National Security Presidential Directives signed by Bush,
documents such as the ‘Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations’, and
various reports of the National Intelligence Council, including ‘Mapping
the Global Future’ (December 2004).
The US wants to establish ‘full-spectrum’ dominance in all strategic
areas and prevent the possible emergence of a potential rival anywhere,
including, most importantly, Eurasia. It wants unfettered neo-liberal
globalisation. To achieve this, the US must control strategic resources
such as oil and gas and reject any limits on its consumption. Washington
is prepared, indeed eager, to beat back any challenge to its economic,
political and military hegemony by waging preventive or pre-emptive
wars, if necessary.
The most articulate formulation of these ambitions is contained in the
Neoconservative manifesto, ‘The Project for a New American Century’
(website: www.newamericancentury.org). The Project seeks to indefinitely
prolong the ‘unipolar moment’, which arose with the Cold War’s end. The
primary means by which this dominance is to be ensured shall be
military. US defence spending, now $450 billion-plus, exceeds the
military expenditure of the next 14 nations put together.
Under Bush, the Neocons have emerged as the most powerful group in
command of US policy. It’s impossible to delink their influence from
specific US actions — whether the terrible mess in Iraq after its
occupation, or the rush to further develop mass-destruction weapons, the
atrocities in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, refusal to ratify the Kyoto
Protocol, rejection of the International Criminal Court, or pushing of
an iniquitous agenda in the World Trade Organisation. It’s impossible to
understand the logic of these actions without reference to Washington’s
larger strategic goals.
To achieve these, the US must build a system of alliances which
neutralises dissension and co-opts numerous states. Such alliances must
contain or counter all possible challenges which might arise.
That’s where formerly non-aligned India comes in. The US has been trying
to recruit India into a ‘partnership’ — among other things, to counter
China. India’s strategic location and her emergence as an economic power
give it special advantage. That’s the rationale of the US offer last
year to ‘help India become a great power in the 21st century’.
India has dutifully reciprocated US overtures. Ashley Tellis of the
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has approvingly listed some
‘US-friendly’ Indian actions, including enthusiastic support for Bush’s
Ballistic Missile Defence (‘Star Wars’) plans even before his closest
strategic allies backed them; silence over the abrogation of the
Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty. India’s offer of military bases for the
war in Afghanistan after 9/11 (something India never offered to the USSR
during the Cold War); endorsement of the US position on climate change,
including its latest avatar, the ‘Asia-Pacific Partnership’; and of
course, the September and February votes against Iran.
To these must be added the 30 India-US military exercises involving all
three services, 50 high-level military conferences; $990 million worth
of American arms imports; and India’s close strategic relation with Israel.
India maintained a deafening silence on the 2002-03 US campaign for war
against Iraq — right until the day before the invasion, when the
Opposition forced a resolution through Parliament. Worse, India came
close to sending a division for Iraq’s post-war ‘stabilisation’.
Bush’s visit consolidates this partnership. Its overall thrust is
strategic and comprehensive, covering nuclear cooperation, economics,
agriculture, space, scientific research, energy, the Container Security
Initiative (which mandates intrusive checks on shipments for supposedly
‘anti-terrorist’ purposes), and not least, medical drug trials (using
Indians as guinea-pigs).
Some of these agreements are one-sided or will undermine multilateral
arrangements like the Climate Change Convention. It’s wrong to say
they’re in India’s ‘enlightened national interest.’ In a greatly
asymmetrical relationship, the stronger partner always calls the shots,
the weaker partner follows.
All that India will gain if the nuclear deal goes through and is
ratified by the US Congress — a far-from-certain prospect — is
acceptance and legitimisation for its weapons of mass destruction. And a
second- or third-rate status as a US ally which acts as its junior
policeman in escorting ‘high-value’ US cargo to the Straits of Malacca
and otherwise provide support for US strategic operations.
Indians must pause and ask if the cost involved — a complete betrayal of
the Gandhi-Nehru legacy of peace and abandonment of the promise to
return to the global nuclear disarmament agenda and fight for a
multipolar world order — is worth the price.
Similarly, Pakistanis should ask if an unequal alliance with Washington
is preferable to foreign policy independence. This is not an idle
question. A pliable Pakistan is and will remain useful to Washington —
independently of India. To be halfway credible, the US global alliance
system needs a major Muslim-majority nation in South Asia, which can be
this region’s counterpart for Saudi Arabia. Pakistan too will come under
pressure to join Washington’s orbit. It must resist it.
The Nation (USA)
March 1, 2006
Bush in India: Just Not Welcome
by Arundhati Roy
On his triumphalist tour of India and Pakistan, where he hopes to
wave imperiously at people he considers potential subjects, President
Bush has an itinerary that's getting curiouser and curiouser.
For Bush's March 2 pit stop in New Delhi, the Indian government
tried very hard to have him address our parliament. A not
inconsequential number of MPs threatened to heckle him, so Plan One was
hastily shelved. Plan Two was to have Bush address the masses from the
ramparts of the magnificent Red Fort, where the Indian prime minister
traditionally delivers his Independence Day address. But the Red Fort,
surrounded as it is by the predominantly Muslim population of Old
Delhi, was considered a security nightmare. So now we're into Plan
Three: President George Bush speaks from Purana Qila, the Old Fort.
Ironic, isn't it, that the only safe public space for a man who has
recently been so enthusiastic about India's modernity should be a
crumbling medieval fort?
Since the Purana Qila also houses the Delhi zoo, George Bush's
audience will be a few hundred caged animals and an approved list of
caged human beings, who in India go under the category of "eminent
persons." They're mostly rich folk who live in our poor country like
captive animals, incarcerated by their own wealth, locked and barred in
their gilded cages, protecting themselves from the threat of the vulgar
and unruly multitudes whom they have systematically dispossessed over
So what's going to happen to George W. Bush? Will the gorillas cheer
him on? Will the gibbons curl their lips? Will the brow-antlered deer
sneer? Will the chimps make rude noises? Will the owls hoot? Will the
lions yawn and the giraffes bat their beautiful eyelashes? Will the
crocs recognize a kindred soul? Will the quails give thanks that Bush
isn't traveling with Dick Cheney, his hunting partner with the
notoriously bad aim? Will the CEOs agree?
Oh, and on March 2, Bush will be taken to visit Gandhi's memorial in
Rajghat. He's by no means the only war criminal who has been invited by
the Indian government to lay flowers at Rajghat. (Only recently we had
the Burmese dictator General Than Shwe, no shrinking violet himself.)
But when Bush places flowers on that famous slab of highly polished
stone, millions of Indians will wince. It will be as though he has
poured a pint of blood on the memory of Gandhi.
We really would prefer that he didn't.
It is not in our power to stop Bush's visit. It is in our power to
protest it, and we will. The government, the police and the corporate
press will do everything they can to minimize the extent of our
outrage. Nothing the happy newspapers say can change the fact that all
over India, from the biggest cities to the smallest villages, in public
places and private homes, George W. Bush, the President of the United
States of America, world nightmare incarnate, is just not welcome.
MANIFESTO: Together facing the new totalitarianism
After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now
faces a new totalitarian global threat: Islamism.
We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to
religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal
opportunity and secular values for all.
The recent events, which occurred after the publication of drawings of
Muhammed in European newspapers, have revealed the necessity of the
struggle for these universal values. This struggle will not be won by
arms, but in the ideological field. It is not a clash of civilisations
nor an antagonism of West and East that we are witnessing, but a global
struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats.
Like all totalitarianisms, Islamism is nurtured by fears and
frustrations. The hate preachers bet on these feelings in order to form
battalions destined to impose a liberticidal and unegalitarian world.
But we clearly and firmly state: nothing, not even despair, justifies
the choice of obscurantism, totalitarianism and hatred. Islamism is a
reactionary ideology which kills equality, freedom and secularism
wherever it is present. Its success can only lead to a world of
domination: man's domination of woman, the Islamists' domination of all
the others. To counter this, we must assure universal rights to
oppressed or discriminated people.
We reject « cultural relativism », which consists in accepting that men
and women of Muslim culture should be deprived of the right to equality,
freedom and secular values in the name of respect for cultures and
traditions. We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of
being accused of "Islamophobia", an unfortunate concept which confuses
criticism of Islam as a religion with stigmatisation of its believers.
We plead for the universality of freedom of expression, so that a
critical spirit may be exercised on all continents, against all abuses
and all dogmas.
We appeal to democrats and free spirits of all countries that our
century should be one of Enlightenment, not of obscurantism.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP)
Contact: The Bund, Amira Kadal, Srinagar, 190001 – Jammu and Kashmir
AN APPEAL TO CIVIL SOCIETY OF PAKISTAN
The Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) is an
organization of families of victims of enforced or involuntary
disappearances (EID) in the state of Indian controlled Jammu and
Kashmir. APDP, which is neither a political nor a human rights
organization, has been persistently campaigning against phenomenon of
EID since its formation in 1994.
Since the inception of armed insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir in 1989,
about 8 to 10,000 people have been subjected to EID by the Indian armed
Be it direct rule of New Delhi (in the form of governor’s rule or
president’s rule) or so-called civilian governments, the phenomenon of
enforced disappearances in Jammu and Kashmir continues unabated. People
have disappeared after having been picked up on one pretext or another
by different military or paramilitary agencies operating in the strife
torn state. Nothing has been heard about the fate of these disappeared
people despite their relatives running from pillar to post. And under
the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), the armed forces
operating in the state enjoy impunity and their actions are beyond
questioning even in the courts of law.
Over one hundred thousand family members of these victims are facing
social, economical and mental problems after the disappearance of their
In order to know the fate of these disappeared persons, their family
members have joined for collective efforts under the banner of the APDP
to highlight their plight and trauma, and to invite international
humanitarian intervention. Their right to know about the truth of their
dear ones has been denied to them all along.
While the big question mark hangs over their fate the successive
governments have tried to either out rightly deny such happenings or to
cleverly obfuscate the facts. Meanwhile, the lives behind these lies
have been shattered to irreparable limits.
However, families have not lost the hope and they are relentlessly
holding protest demonstrations, media campaigns, and building alliances
with the international organizations in order to pressurize the
government to respond to the phenomenon of enforced disappearances. They
are determined not to rest till they know the truth and they want to
know the truth however, unpalatable it is.
Ironically, government has come out with varying statements at different
times about what they call “missing people”.
The demands of the APDP are:
1) Appointment of an independent probe into the disappearances in Jammu
2) Identifying and bringing the perpetrators to justice
3) Stopping further enforced disappearances
4) Repealing all impunity laws
With untiring efforts over the years, the APDP has now become a part of
global campaign against disappearances. The APDP in 1998 became the core
group member of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances
(AFAD), formed in Philippines now consisting of groups from eight Asian
countries who are also fighting against the EID in their respective
The Association has been campaigning under tremendous pressures in this
conflict area. One of its members was killed and its office bearers have
been implicated in false cases by the establishment.
The foundation stone of the monument that the Association was planning
to raise in the memory of the disappeared persons was demolished by the
state police and Indian Border Security Forces (BSF) on 18 July 2001,
the same day it was laid.
The state therefore has made it clear that it is against raising any
memorial in remembrance of the disappeared persons in Jammu and Kashmir,
which is not surprising considering the fact that the number of enforced
disappearances in Jammu and Kashmir is double than the number of such
disappearances under Pinochet regime in Chile and Marcos regime in
Philippines. Ironically, the state has allowed its armed forces to raise
memorials for their dead soldiers since 1947. In many countries,
memorials have been raised by the concerned groups to remember the
disappeared persons in these countries.
Even in the face of such pressures and intimidations, the APDP has
re-laid the foundation stone of the memorial on 21st April 2005.
The APDP’s struggle has to some extent succeeded in minimizing the EID
through its relentless campaign against this phenomenon. However, the
menace continues unabated. The other objectives of the APDP have not yet
been realized. The demand of the Association for appointing a commission
under the Commissions of Enquiry Act, or to allow UN Working Group on
EID or any other international organizations to probe into the EIDs in
Jammu and Kashmir since 1989 has not been accepted by the Indian
Unfortunately, the mainstream Indian media has either toed the official
line or completely blacked out the stories related to this phenomenon.
However, a microscopic section of the Indian civil society is supportive
of the Association’s demands and have even formed APDP support group in
New Delhi to extend moral support to the relatives of the victims of
EID. There are various international organizations and civil society
groups concerned about the EID anywhere in the world and they have
extended their moral support to the suffering relatives in their
campaign against EID. This moral support has all along been a source of
strength to the Association.
The Nuremberg trails have set a precedent that the perpetrators of war
crimes or crimes against humanity have to face the consequences. Since
then a number of international tribunals have been constituted to probe
the genocides and crimes against humanity and have even brought
perpetrators to book. The impunity became a global issue in 1998 after
the Judge Garzon of Spain issued an arrest warrant against the
ex-dictator of Chile Pinochet during whose regime about 4,000 people got
disappeared. In a class action suit filed under Alien Trot Act against
the ex-dictator of Philippines, Marcos, the US court awarded exemplary
compensation to the relatives to be paid by the ex-dictator. Even the
perpetrators of the World War II are being still hounded. Recently the
chief minister of an Indian state, Gujrat, Narindera Modi, responsible
for the genocide of members of minority community in his state, was
refused visa by the US government after the successful lobbying by the
non-resident Indian groups under the banner of “Coalition Against
One of the benefits of globalization is that impunity has become an
international issue and the perpetrators are facing accountability not
only by the people but also by the international civil society
organizations. Whether the crimes are being committed in Iraq,
Palestine, Philippines or any other conflict area, the infringement of
the International Humanitarian Law is unacceptable, as injustice
anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
The Association has been informed that PUGWASH, an international think
tank and a noble peace prize winner, also working on track two
initiatives on Kashmir, is holding a conference on Jammu & Kashmir and
Indo-Pak dialogue in Islamabad Pakistan in the second week of March 2006.
Earlier, PUGWASH meetings in Kathmandu and Srinagar recommended peaceful
conflict resolution, ending of violence and stopping of oppression and
humiliation of Kashmiri people. Besides, it also appreciated the
ceasefire between Pakistan and India, which has paid dividends. The
resolution on the track II efforts and these initiatives from PUGWASH
was appreciated widely.
However, the Association is questioning the participation of some of the
perpetrators talking about peace without being questioned about the
excesses or without accepting responsibilities for the crimes against
humanity committed during their regimes in the state of Jammu & Kashmir.
The National Conference (NC) was in power in the state of Jammu and
Kashmir from 1996 to 2002. During their six-year rule, the EIDs did not
stop and in fact the highest number of disappearances took place during
this so-called civilian government. About four thousand people were
subjected to disappearances during this period, which accounts for
roughly 40 percent of the total disappearances since 1989.
The NC leadership was responsible for the crimes against humanity in
the name of law and order and fighting “terrorism”. They are legally
responsible as their chief minister was head of the Unified Command, a
body of civil, military, paramilitary and intelligence structures
responsible for security affairs in the state. Now in opposition, NC is
suddenly “concerned” about the human rights violations.
This is more or less true about all other pro-Indian political parties
including Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Congress and Communist
parties. PDP led by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, also blamed the previous
governments for rights violations but during his tenure as chief
minister of the state from 2002 to 2005, 164 cases of EID were reported
by the APDP.
Participation of the pro-India politicians who are responsible for
crimes against humanity in an event organized by reputed group like
PUGWASH amounts to rubbing salt on the wounds of the families of the
victims. How can these politicians be allowed to be part of any event,
which aims at promoting peace and justice!
APDP demands that these people should be brought to book for crimes like
disappearances now defined as crime against humanity by Rome Statute.
We appeal to the members of Pakistani civil society as also other civil
society groups in different countries to condemn their participation and
talking about peace in their country.
APDP believes that these politicians cannot get away with the crimes
committed during their regimes and they have to seek an apology before
talking on peace, and the prerogative of pardoning them lies with
victims only. We are not making any political demand as it is not the
mandate of the APDP. But we appeal to the conscience of civil society in
India, Pakistan and other countries that perpetrators for the crimes
against humanity have to be reminded of their criminal past and they
have to be accounted for their acts.
We shall never allow the past to be forgotten and we shall never allow
it to happen again to future generations. The peace we seek should be
based on truth and justice. The justice we seek lies not in forgetting
the past but in remembering those who should never be forgotten…
The state regimes in the state have not acknowledged the phenomenon
of EID, nevertheless, they have admitted time to time the number of
missing person ---
1. On July 18, 2002, the then Home Minister Khalid Najeeb Soharwardy of
the erstwhile National Conference government admitted on the floor of
the Legislative Assembly that 3,184 person were missing in the Valley
since the inception of militancy.
2. The new Chief Minister of J&K state, Mufti Muhammad Syed on February
25, 2003 unveiled what the security agencies had been doing during 2000,
2001 and 2002. Mufti informed the State Assembly in Jammu that "Three
thousand seven hundred and forty four persons are missing in between
2000 to 2002. 1,553 persons got disappeared in 2000. 1586 went missing
in 2001 and 605 in 2002".
3. Law Minister Muzaffer Beig of newly constituted government of PDP
stated on 25th of March 2003, that since 1992 December 3,744 are
reported missing of whom 135 have been declared dead up to June 2002,
the investigations are on and the number of disappearances could be even
4. Recently, Abdul Rehman Veeri Minister of State& Parliamentary
Affairs, in the legislative assembly on June 21- 2003 has come up with
new figure of 3931.
ÿ During PDP lead Coalition Regime 164 cases of enforced disappearances
were reported by the APDP. (24 cases between November – Dec 2002, 81
cases in 2003 – 41 cases in 2004 and 24 cases between January 2005 to 2
12 cases of EID were reported in Congress led coalition regime by the APDP
Like the origination in Sri Lanka OPFMD where there are highest
number of documented disappearances (60,000), Philippines, Thailand,
March 02, 2006.
Today the Indian government signed an agreement with US President George
W. Bush that would, if passed by the American Congress, allow
unprecedented Indo-US cooperation on nuclear energy. The Indian stock
market went through the roof. Indian television channels and newspapers
could barely contain their euphoria.
Nay-sayers, of which there are always some to be found, even in these
times of near-total consensus between all shades of political opinion on
practically all matters of any importance to the world, took out a
protest demonstration in the heart of official Delhi, on Parliament Street.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) called a rally to express
anti-Bush sentiments. Forget rallying dissenters from the public at
large, the CPI(M) could scarcely muster its own party workers. Some
Samajwadi Party workers crashed the party, but they were there to raise
slogans in favor of their own leadership, not express any resentment
against Bush. CPI(M) and Samajwadi leaders, having come all the way in
the middle of a day that was much too warm for early March, made bland
speeches for an hour or two. A motley audience of university teachers,
hardly any students at all, a few Muslims, and rather rural-looking
party workers sat on the road, drowsy in the midday heat, trying to pay
attention. Hawkers moved about, selling coconut slices-plastic
combs-purses made by women marking Women's Day, and other sorts of
items of some quotidian use, no doubt, but little discernible symbolic
value. At lunch time, the crowd, such as it was, dispersed.
Maybe there were 25-30,000 people at the start of the day; 10-15,000
people by the time hunger got the better of everyone. The media was
marked by its absence. Traffic police, regular police, and rapid action
force personnel, armed and in riot gear, swarmed the entire route of the
march, looking rather sheepish, as they had nothing much -- nothing at
all! -- to do. Guns and helmets are everywhere, but they are entirely
superfluous in a gathering where no one really wants to question or can
conceive of challenging the state's authority.
A famous writer, as famous for her writing as she is for hating Bush,
was present, conspicuously low-key, surrounded by a cluster of
protective friends and admirers. Alas they had nothing to protect her
from, as she was very far from being in danger of being mobbed by
press-wallahs, who were missing in action. Or rather, they were where
the action was, at the venue where President Bush and Prime Minister
Singh were issuing joint statements. The rally, small for a city as
populous as Delhi, but nonetheless (potentially) a sign of some
dissensus, some critique, some resistance, was largely ignored in news
What is one to conclude?
1. There's pretty much no Left left to speak of.
2. The Left, what's left of it, doesn't care about Iraq.
3. The media doesn't care about the Left, or about Iraq. Nor,
incidentally, does it care about nuclear proliferation, climate change,
Islamophobia, suicidal farmers, torture, the state of exception,
racism... and, really, its own credibility or independence.
At first policemen try to stop the small group of academics that I'm a
part of, because we're carrying -- admittedly somewhat naively -- a
placard that says "Bush go back". My older colleagues remember their
student days with nostalgia; my younger colleagues assume the position
of anthropologists among protesting natives. My colleagues who teach
cannot persuade their own students to join them for the day. I make like
a journalist, but only intermittently, when I can muster up some
enthusiasm despite the obvious political desolation that extends in
every direction from the pretty heart of my city looking so lovely in
the springtime. The best thing about our expedition from our library to
the rally is the ride we get to take, en route, in the spanking new
Delhi Metro. It's a bonus to spot friends in the crowd. We know what
Bush stands for and what his visit to India means for India, but who are
we to say anything?
Somebody help me out here. Why is the Left in disarray? Why is the media
utterly emasculated? Why are we -- by which I mean simply people who
feel that there ought to be some space for disagreement in a democratic
society, and more so in a dialogue between the world's two largest
democracies -- so completely, unequivocally, undeniably, helpless? Who
represents -- well, whatever you want to call it, let's try a
quick-and-dirty phrase: the objection to George W. Bush and all that HE
represents? Quite frankly, I was aghast at the lack of radical energy in
the token protest that some of us participated in today.
A few of you were there as well. Please point out to me something that I
missed, something less in the nature of a lament like my own, and more
in the nature of an analysis of the petrification of politics to which
we are all witness, and for which we are all, surely, at least partially
Ananya Vajpeyi, Ph.D.
Nehru Memorial Museum and Library
Teen Murti House
New Delhi 110011 INDIA
As part of Gujarat Social Forum
ANHAD & AMAN SAMUDAYA INVITE YOU TO A TWO DAY SEMINAR ON
COMMUNAL IDEOLOGY AND RESISTANCE
on MARCH 10-11, 2006
Venue: TAGORE HALL COMPLEX, PALDI, AHMEDABAD
TIME 2.30- 6.00PM
MARCH 10, 2006
SESSION I- 2.30-4.00
CHAIRPERSON- DR. RAM PUNIYANI
COMMUNALISM –DOES IT AFFECT ONLY MINORITIES? -PROF. GAURANG JANI
FORMATION OF COMMUNAL IDENTITY- GAUHAR RAZA
SOCIO ECONOMIC CONDITION OF MINORITIES-JIMMY DHABHI
CHAIRPERSON- HARSH MANDER
COMMUNALISM: PRESENT SCENARIO:
NATIONAL -DR. RAM PUNIYANI
GUJARAT- RAJU SOLANKI
RAJASTHAN- KAVITA SRIVASTAVA
MARCH 11, 2006
CHAIRPERSON- GAGAN SETHI
COMMUNALISM: SLOW POISIONING OF THE MIND- IFTIKHAR AHMAD KHAN
SUBVERSION OF JUSTICE- MUKUL SINHA
COMBATING COMMUNALISM IN TIME OF PEACE- HARSH MANDER
CHAIRPERSON- PRAKASH SHAH
CULTURAL RESISTANCE- HIREN GANDHI
STRATEGIES FOR FUTURE- DIGANT OZA
Buzz on the perils of fundamentalist politics, on
matters of peace and democratisation in South
Asia. SACW is an independent & non-profit
citizens wire service run since 1998 by South
Asia Citizens Web: www.sacw.net/
SACW archive is available at: bridget.jatol.com/pipermail/sacw_insaf.net/
DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed in materials carried in the posts do not
necessarily reflect the views of SACW compilers.