STORMING SPEECH FROM IMRAN KHAN AS SKIES OPEN

23RD MARCH PTI JALSA LAHORE, CROWD EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS

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Anyone who has followed Imran Khan’s political career in recent years will know that when he makes a promise to his followers at his Pakistan Tehreek -I-Insaf (Movement for Justice) party it comes to fruition. (The former cricketer is aiming to be the next prime minister of Pakistan). 23RD March Jalsa at Minar- e -Pakistan, Lahore did not disappoint. To those I talked to, it exceeded expectations with media crowd estimates of around 200,000 in the run up to the elections on May 11th  The “tsunami” of followers extended beyond the grounds as the venue was full to capacity. Seat hire companies must have been doing a roaring business with chairs laid out as far as the eye could see.

Imran is known to attract large throngs of supporters which I first saw during his dharnas (peaceful protests) against US armed drones in Waziristan blocking the NATO supply line in protest. PTI’s main opposition in the elections are the Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-N which have dominated main stream politics in Pakistan over recent years. The Chairman, as he is sometimes known continues to highlight the suffering of those from the Tribal Areas recently attending a sit in outside the Press Club in Islamabad with Internally Displaced Persons. These IDPs are caught between military operations and drone strikes aimed at “alleged” insurgents but often killing civilians.

Almost half of Pakistan’s more than 80 million registered voters are under the age of 35. The youth of Pakistan are attracted to Imran’s stance against corruption and violence (which comes from many directions). There is also a direct challenge to the inherited political status traditionally passed down through families.

PTI have recently successfully completed internal elections. The party has developed and utilizes an impressive range of media outlets, with PTI, radio, TV, websites, Twitter and Facebook to name a few. Through multi-media, supporters have championed policies encouraging more women into politics, promoting education for all and equal rights as well as establishing a policy of full inclusivity for those that are differently abled. Many also want to see a more buoyant economy and an end to the frequent power cuts.

As crowds carried a 100 metre red, white and green PTI flag into the venue and cheered in anticipation of Imran’s speech, Musharaff was not fairing so well in the popularity stakes. There are threats on his life relayed in a video from Tehreek-e- Taliban (TTP) now that he has returned to Pakistan and Human Rights Watch is calling for him to be held to account for alleged human rights violations.

Some PTI supporters flew in from the UK and Canada to participate in the jalsa. The journey to the Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore however was not without its difficulties as supporters tweeted that roads were blocked with containers cutting off routes, public buses suddenly called off and cellphone networks down in some areas as a security measure against terrorism.

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Faisel Javed Khan, head of Electronic Media – Founding Member PTI did a great job rallying the crowd and introducing speakers. Those appearing on stage in the run up to Imran speaking included Qasim Khan Suri, recently elected, PTI President, Baluchistan who has helped those suffering in Quetta following recent bombings. The Chairman was also joined by Javed Hashmi, President of PTI and Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Vice Chairman PTI as well as other key figures supporting his party.

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King of Punjabi Pop, inspirational Youth leader, Abrar ul Haq sang his newest song “Jitna Vey Jitna Imran Jitna” and Salman Ahmed gave an uplifting performance of “Naya Pakistan” which has become an anthem for PTI in the forthcoming election. A man called Ammad tweeted to the singer, “I lost hope  and pride in being a Pakistani, but looking at Imran Khan’s commitments, I am smiling and heart starts beating again for Naya Pakistan.

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One of the main reasons for the weekend rally in Lahore was to take an oath from the 80,000 newly elected party workers and to deliver the party manifest.

Imran was photographed in prayer before the rally.

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MAIN POINTS OF IMRAN’S SPEECH

During his speech he was keen to state that “I have strength only because I’ve a strong belief in Allah” and “I always follow the path of PBUH Muhammad at every hard time… Allah has given me everything – it’s your rights I am fighting for – ”

“Whenever I have faced a difficult time in my life I look at my Prophet and think what he would do. You all must follow the Prophet’s footsteps in your life and you will be free. You will never have to answer to anyone and success will follow you…….On the other hand are my political opponents, like Miyan Nawaz Sharif, who has included everyone with him. The reason I can stand alone and fight without being a slave to such partnerships is because of my faith in Allah”

“Now, I take you back to 1940, when the Quaid was speaking in this ground. A 19 year old youth was standing in this ground listening to him. That 19 year old youth’s name was Ikram Ullah Niazi, that was my father. When Pakistan’s resolution was being passed my own father was here and all the while growing up my father always told me and my sisters the feeling of pride he felt on being there. Tomorrow, when you will stand in front of your kids, you will tell them that you were at the 23rd march Jalsa of PTI when Pakistan changed.”

He stressed that, “it was a huge decision to conduct Intra-party elections, people said we will get disintegrated. It was an even bigger decision to go to Waziristan, people told me that I will die. Learn from these examples and remember that those who believe in God and fear him need not fear anyone else!

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“I will only promise what I can do and not something that I cannot achieve. I will present the PTI manifesto in front of you and all the promises will be based on things I can fulfil

My and Inshallah my government will fight a Jihad to end oppression in Pakistan. We will fight for all oppressed facets of society without prejudice

The Chairman also gave his promise to the people to build a Naya (New) Pakistan and highlighted the following six points…

PTI CHIEF IMRAN KHAN 6 PLEDGES:

1. I will always speak the truth to the people of Pakistan.

2. The PTI government that will come into power, I promise that we will try to end tyranny. Until the time our system in this country isn’t grounded in equality and justice, Allah will never send his blessings to this nation.

We will stand the weak and the powerful in front of law all the same.

3. I further promise you, that all my wealth and property will be in Pakistan. I will take ownership of this country and won’t be like those leaders who create hideouts abroad”

4. “I will never take undue benefits from politics nor will I grant favours to my friends and family. I am not here for personal gain.

5. I will protect your tax money! It won’t be spent on Prime Minister and Governor houses. Inshallah the day PTI government comes in power these walls of governor houses will be brought down. We will break these walls and make libraries and playgrounds for the public to use.

6. We will stand together with every Pakistani in or outside Pakistan.

The deluge that accompanied Imran’s speech did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd. In fact it was a fitting and symbolic finale on the Tsunami theme as the winds whipped the crowd into a frenzy, Imran’s voice battling and rising above the storm. He concluded his speech by asking people to “sign up with Tabdeeli Razakar (volunteer for change) program so we can sweep elections in the coming weeks.”

Supporters praised him “standing in the rain with his people, not in a bunker” with one supporter stating “when I saw him in that rain, I had tears in my eyes.”

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Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad.  She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”.

 

 

VOICES FROM THE TRIBAL AREAS, STOP DRONES, SUPPORT EDUCATION, SERIES

EDUCATION IN NORTH WAZIRISTAN

(First Published 9th March, 2013, big thanks to TAHIR ALI for writing, sharing and permitting reprint)

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When someone refers to North Waziristan, issues such as terrorism, Taliban, Al-Qaeda, bomb blasts and drone strikes automatically come to mind. No doubt, North Waziristan hosts local, national and international militants and extremists roam freely in the area but the area is predominantly inhabited by tribesmen who side neither with the militants nor with the military, and simply want to live an independent life. Unfortunately they are destined to suffer both at the hands of the militants and the security forces.

Due to militancy-related issues, North Waziristan easily finds a place in the headlines of the print and electronic media− both nationally and internationally. But issues related to the common people, even if on serious themes, are hardly ever discussed in the media.

It is a common belief that the tribesmen of North Waziristan are ignorant and cannot differentiate between “evil” and “good”. But this is totally inaccurate. These people are not against development work in their areas; they want to educate their children. The continuous crises in the area have ‘educated’ them and they are aware about what is going on in the region. Ask a youngster, even if he does not go to school, about the situation of North Waziristan and his answer is simple, ‘It is a game and we are being used’.

An overwhelming majority of the inhabitants of North Waziristan wants to educate their children; but the problem is how to do this. The continuing activities of the militants and the military have paralysed the education system in North Waziristan. The well-off are sending their children to settled areas to get an education but the majority of the people are poor and can’t afford the schooling of their kids outside the area.

In North Waziristan, there is no threat to educational institutions from the militants but the social system itself is a big enemy of schooling. Unlike the rest of the tribal agencies and some settled areas of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KP), in North Waziristan there is no threat to school buildings by the militants. There are no threats to teachers if they want to educate the tribal children. Journalist friends and other local sources from North Waziristan have confirmed that there was no threat to educational institutions from the militants. The threat to education here is posed by tribal chieftains, the custodians of “ghost schools” and “hujra schools”.

On paper, an umbrella of educational institutions exists in North Waziristan. In this particular agency, there are some 872 government-run and private institutions both for males and females. Regarding the number of educational institutions, North Waziristan leads in all seven tribal agencies but the question is how to make these schools and colleges functional. There is no discrimination towards women, as there are 456 institutions for males and 416 for females – the difference is not that great. Apart from a number of primary and high schools, there are post-graduate colleges, degree colleges, a girls’ degree college, an elementary college and a cadet college in North Waziristan.

Every year a large amount of money is allocated for the education sector of North Waziristan but these funds are misused as a routine. The allocation of funds in the education sector always causes a disturbance in the area; the Malakaan start fighting with each other to get the maximum share of the funds. They receive an amount for the furniture and the renovation of school buildings in their areas but do not invest the entire amount on the task. The corrupt officials of the Political Administration and the education sector never bother to go and check the development work supposed to be undertaken by these local elders. The Malakaan who own “ghost schools” and “hujra school” (schools used as guest houses) are so influential that the FATA Secretariat and Governor’s House do not interfere in their activities.

The intellectuals and other experts term lack of education and awareness as a main cause of problems in the tribal areas of Pakistan. These experts always correlate the lack of education with the existence of militants in tribal areas but the Malakaan are hardly blamed for their role in keeping the youngsters away from educational institutions. The Malakaan are aware about the importance of education, as their own children are learning in the leading institutions of the country, but when it comes to the education of poor children, these elders play the role of villains. If illiteracy is one of the main causes of militancy, then the Malakaan should be blamed instead of the Taliban for the growing extremism in the area.

 

By Tahir Ali is a journalist based in Peshawar and travels extensively in FATA

 

 

Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad.  She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”

 

 

VOICES FROM THE TRIBAL AREAS, STOP DRONES, SUPPORT EDUCATION (SERIES)

THE STAMMER AND STUTTER FROM FATA – THE STORY OF A YOUNG MAN FROM WAZIRISTAN

(First Published December 24, 2012 at 2:29 pm, big thanks to AKHTAR MASOOD for writing, sharing and permitting reprint)

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People in Pakistan (and perhaps overseas too), claim that the people of FATA are illiterate and have no value for education. Probably they are right. But how did this happen? And who is responsible?

I am a young man from FATA Tribal area, a Mehsood from Waziristan to be exact. Let me try to explain why my people have no education.

Before analyzing my people, I thought, I should see what short comings I had in myself. I found embedded in myself, many problems. I was wondering from where to start.

Let me start with my body. I feel extreme pain and all my body aches. But then, I thought, these pains were not the reason for the lack of my education. Focusing on my body, it occurred to me that most severe physical problem that affects me, is the stammering and stuttering of my tongue.

It occurred to me that in order for me communicate talk to other people for my problems I needed to speak properly or else no one would be able to understand me. I can speak a little with stammering and stuttering accent but it’s not enough for public.

One of my cousins, working as a driver in Dubai, advised me to consult a ‘speech therapist’. It was the first time I heard the term and asked him to explain who or what that was. After understanding, it dawned upon me that I have no money for such types of treatment.

The region I live in has no doctor for such facilities. For the treatment of this disease, I will have to go Peshawar, Islamabad, Karachi or other big cities of Pakistan. But thinking to myself, I was wondering why such facilities are not available in our area.

About the money, I thought maybe, if I sell a few of my animals such as the Goats, Sheep or the cows maybe I could arrange some amount for the treatment. I wondered if such facilities were available in my area, I would not have to spend 10 times a person living in the big city.
Cursing the FATA region, I thought to myself why we don’t have development. We don’t have schools, and the ones we have act as Hujra’s for the loyal part of tribal elders.

Universities, Medical Colleges, Engineering Colleges and Technical Colleges etc, are just the part of my fantasy. I wonder why such facilities are not available in my destitute region. For those who want these facilities they have to spend 10 times more than a person in the city. A person who wants these has to spend on fare from village to university and from university to village or spend on hostel accommodation and many other expenses.  Alas if such facilities were available in FATA.

The people who send their sons and daughters to those universities are already acquainted to some extent with the urbanized life but there are many who have no knowledge about university life, in Islamabad and Lahore.

One other hilarious facility given by the government to the student of FATA which is called “Quota System” this is good step of the government because, Bhagtay chor ki langoti hee sahi, “a running thief’s underwear is right” or get what you can before you lose it all.

If government has neglected FATA since with its inception, on other side, there are some special seats which have been reserved on the basis of Quota for FATA student and people in various educational institutions of Pakistan. This system is not less than the punishment for the student of FATA. Because they are traveling hundred and thousand miles away to Sindh, Balochistan and Peshawar etc and spending Rs 10 instead Rs 1.

If the government is too devoted with FATA, they should have endowed FATA with all these facilities including the removal of the draconian law, so that to save FATA people and students from these punishments and also to save their domestic animals from selling out.

Go and inspect the schools of FATA more than 80% schools are being used as guest houses and Hujras. My people have no higher education as they don’t have a sound base of education. If the foundation of a building is weak, how can you raise the building. And this is the reason they remain away from value education and are illiterate. Who is responsible for this? I wish you can tell me!!
FATA is a part of Pakistan but why do different laws apply here?

Anyway finally I managed to arrange the money and someone in the city helped find a doctor for my problem. The good doctor examined me and inquired.

Finally he told me the treatment. “The treatment for a stammering and stuttering tongue is to get a good education.”
BY AKHTAR MAHSOOD

Health Care Professional,
Health Department KP

 

 

Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad.  She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”

 

 

UNITED NATIONS/HUMAN RIGHTS/DRONES

Statement of the Special Rapporteur following meetings in Pakistan (reprint)

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UN Counter-Terrorism Expert meets victims of drone strikes in Waziristan and receives clear statement from the Government of Pakistan that it considers US drone strikes to be counter-productive, contrary to international law, and a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity

ISLAMABAD (14 March 2013) – UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson on Thursday issued the following statement following his visit to Islamabad between 11 and 13 March 2013:

The UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights, Ben Emmerson, conducted a three-day visit to Islamabad, Pakistan between 11 and 13 March 2013. This visit took place in connection with the Special Rapporteur’s ongoing inquiry into the civilian impact of the use of drones and other forms of targeted killing in the context of counter-terrorism operations.

During the course of the visit the Special Rapporteur met with officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Human Rights and other relevant entities including a senior representative of the Secretariat of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Defence and Defence Production. He is particularly grateful for the assistance that was provided by the Minister for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar and by the Foreign Secretary during his meetings with them.

The Special Rapporteur regrets that he did not have the opportunity to meet with representatives of the Pakistan Military or the ISI. However, he was informed that their position would be adequately reflected by consultations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defence.

Separately, the Special Rapporteur met with lawyers representing individuals and groups who have brought legal proceedings in Pakistan in connection with the use of drones in counter-terrorism operations in the FATA. He also met with a group of tribal leaders (Maliks) from North Waziristan who had been selected to form a delegation to meet the Special Rapporteur as the result of a tribal Shura specially convened for the purpose. In addition, he met with a group of direct and indirect victims of drone strikes, including individuals who had suffered serious physical injuries, individuals who had witnessed fatal drone strikes, and individuals who had lost family members in such strikes. He also met with a senior judge of the Peshawar High Court familiar with the issues, a number of opposition politicians, journalists and civil society representatives.

The Special Rapporteur is grateful to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for facilitating his visit, and for the helpful co-operation he received from all officials and Government representatives.

During the visit, the Government emphasized its consistently-stated position that drone strikes on its territory are counter-productive, contrary to international law, a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and that they should cease immediately.

The Special Rapporteur was informed by the Government that Pakistan does not consider the situation in FATA to amount to an armed conflict (whether international or non-international). To the contrary, Pakistan considers that its own military forces operating in the region are engaged in a law enforcement operation aimed at countering terrorism in support of the civilian administration.

The Government, including the Foreign Minister, emphasised to the Special Rapporteur that the principal threat posed by the Pakistani Taleban (TTP) and other terrorist groupings operating in FATA is directed at military and civilian targets of Pakistan itself and that the country has sustained very heavy losses and damage through acts of terrorism.

Official figures showed that nearly seven thousand Pakistani soldiers and policemen had been killed in acts of terrorism and that the total death toll, including civilian victims of terrorism, was over 40,000 people.

The Government informed the Special Rapporteur that the total economic cost of the struggle against terrorism in Pakistan over the last decade has been nearly $70 billion. The Government emphasised that its commitment to ethical, effective, sustainable and lasting solutions to the problem of terrorism on its territory was a matter of the greatest national important and among the highest priorities of Government.

In order to achieve this, the Government informed the Special Rapporteur that Pakistan is committed to an effective counter-terrorism strategy that combines law enforcement with dialogue and development in an effort to tackle not only the manifestations of terrorism, but also its root causes in the region.

The Special Rapporteur was informed that Pakistan considers that its own democratically elected civilian Government, aided by its law enforcement agencies and military forces, are best placed to judge how to achieve a lasting peace in the region, and that interference by other States in this process has been, and continues to be, counter-productive to those efforts.

The Foreign Minister and her staff, as well as representatives of the Ministry of Defence, and the Ministry of Human Rights underlined to the Special Rapporteur that Pakistan is committed to and capable of dealing effectively with the threat of terrorism in FATA using its own resources and pursuant to its own local knowledge and integrated counter-terrorism strategy. The Special Rapporteur was informed in the clearest possible terms that Pakistan’s Government and Parliament unequivocally rejects any suggestion that its authorities and armed forces, acting together, are either “unable or unwilling” to tackle the problem of terrorism effectively on the sovereign territory of Pakistan.

The Government emphasised that the Pakistani military has more than 145,000 ground troops stationed in FATA as well as air-borne resources at its disposal in the region. It was pointed out that the Government, acting under Article 245 of the Constitution of Pakistan, has adopted regulations governing the deployment of military force in FATA in support of the civilian authorities, which include provision for temporary internment on national security grounds, subject to judicial review by an independent commission.

Taken together with its broader strategy of engaging militant groups in dialogue, and the provision of development assistance to the tribal communities in FATA, the Government considers that it has the necessary legal, law enforcement and military resources at its disposal to tackle the issue of militant groups operating in FATA in a manner which is effective and which respects local tribal affiliations and traditions, with a view to building a sustainable route to peace in the region. The Special Rapporteur was informed that the Government and Parliament of Pakistan both reject and resent any suggestion that Pakistan’s commitment to this objective is anything other than resolute.

Officials stated that reports of continuing tacit consent by Pakistan to the use of drones on its territory by any other State are false, and confirmed that a thorough search of Government records had revealed no indication of such consent having been given. Officials also pointed to public statements by Pakistan at the United Nations emphasizing this position and calling for an immediate end to the use of drones by any other State on the territory of Pakistan.

In addition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed the Special Rapporteur that since mid-2010 (and to date) the Government has regularly sent Notes Verbales to the US Embassy in Islamabad protesting the use of drones on the territory of Pakistan and emphasizing that Pakistan regards these strikes as a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and requiring the US to cease these strikes immediately. The Ministry informed the Special Rapporteur that these concerns were expressed in the context of a longstanding bilateral relationship and dialogue with the US that includes positive cooperation across a broad range of issues.

Officials also drew attention to a series of resolutions passed by both Houses of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) calling for an end to the use of drones. The most recent of these resolutions, dated 12 April 2012, was unanimously adopted by a joint session of both Houses and is entitled Guidelines for Revised Terms of Engagement with the USA/NATO/ISAF and General Foreign Policy. The resolution begins with a statement that relations between Pakistan and the USA should be based upon mutual respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of each other, and inter alia (a) calls for an immediate cessation of drone attacks inside the territorial borders of Pakistan; (b) reaffirms Pakistan’s commitment to the elimination of terrorism and combating extremism in its own national interest; (c) provides that neither the Government nor any of its component entities may enter into verbal agreements with any other foreign Government or authority regarding national security; (d) provides that any such agreements previously entered into should forthwith cease to have effect; and (e) provides that any such agreements should, in the future, be subject to scrutiny by specified Ministries and Parliamentary bodies and then announced through a Ministerial statement in Parliament. The resolution also calls on the international community to recognize the human and economic losses caused to Pakistan by the so-called “war on terror” and affirms that “[i]n the battle for hearts and minds an inclusive process based on primacy of dialogue” which “respect[s] local customs, traditions, values and religious beliefs” should be adopted.

A number of Governmental and non-Governmental sources pointed out that despite this (and previous) clearly-worded resolutions passed by a democratically-elected legislature, drone strikes on the territory of Pakistan continued unabated. Several sources pointed out that Pakistan’s democracy is fragile, and that the upcoming general election marks the first occasion in Pakistan’s history when it will undergo a fully democratic transition of authority from one civilian government to another.

These sources suggested that the continued deployment of drones in the FATA, despite clear Parliamentary resolutions calling for them to cease, had the capacity to undermine public confidence in the democratic process in Pakistan.

The Special Rapporteur was informed that according to statistics compiled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there have been at least 330 drone strikes on the territory of Pakistan since 2004. Records showed that the total number of deaths caused by drone strikes was at least 2,200 that in addition at least 600 people had suffered serious injuries. Officials pointed out that efforts to identify the exact number of deceased (and therefore to establish the exact number of civilian deaths) were hampered by security concerns and by topographical and institutional obstacles to effective and prompt investigation on the ground by officials working on behalf of the FATA Secretariat, as well as by the cultural tradition of Pashtun tribes in the FATA region to bury their dead as soon as possible.

Nonetheless the Special Rapporteur was informed that the Government has been able to confirm that at least 400 civilians had been killed as a result of drone strikes, and that a further 200 individuals were regarded as probable non-combatants. Officials indicated that due to under-reporting and obstacles to effective investigation on the ground these figures were likely to be under-estimates of the number of civilian deaths.

The Special Rapporteur requested further information on the methodology for the compilation of these statistics and their disaggregation but this information was not immediately available. A senior representative of the FATA Secretariat however informed the Special Rapporteur that when the FATA was alerted to a drone strike involving potential civilian casualties, investigations were carried out, so far as possible, to confirm whether the dead and injured were indeed non-combatants and he stated that the figures supplied to the Special Rapporteur reflected this.

In discussions with the delegation of tribal Maliks from North Waziristan the Special Rapporteur was informed that drone strikes routinely inflicted civilian casualties, and that groups of adult males carrying out ordinary daily tasks were frequently the victims of such strikes. They emphasized that to an outsider unfamiliar with Pashtun tribal customs there was a very real risk of misidentification of targets since all Pashtun tribesmen tended to have similar appearance to members of the Pakistan Taliban, including similar (and often indistinguishable) tribal clothing, and since it had long been a tradition among the Pashtun tribes that all adult males would carry a gun at all times. They considered that civilian casualties were a commonplace occurrence and that the threat of such strikes instilled fear in the entire community.

They emphasized that drone attacks had fractured their existing tribal structures, and destroyed their way of life. They also pointed out that their local tribal law, the Pashtunwali, prescribed revenge for the loss of a life and that this entrenched tribal tradition had given rise to a desire, particularly among young men, to seek revenge for the drone strikes, thus radicalizing a new generation.

This assessment was confirmed by the Ministry of Human Rights. In the course of preparing for Pakistan’s Universal Periodic Review before the Human Rights Council the Human Rights Ministry held consultations in March 2012 aimed at assessing whether drone strikes had increased radicalization in the FATA. Their findings, though largely anecdotal, supported the conclusion that the strikes were frequently cited as a source of radicalization to violent extremism amongst younger Pashtun males, thus perpetuating the cycle of violence and providing support for the Government’s position that such strikes are counter-productive.

The Special Rapporteur is extremely grateful to all the individuals who came forward to provide information relevant to the inquiry, in particular those who had been injured or lost family members in drone strikes and who had travelled from North Waziristan to meet with him. He was impressed by their testimony. Their accounts will be reflected, along with the other evidence compiled, in the Special Rapporteur’s final report to the United Nations.

Speaking at the end of his visit, the Special Rapporteur said:

“The position of the Government of Pakistan is quite clear. It does not consent to the use of drones by the United States on its territory and it considers this to be a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. As a matter of international law the US drone campaign in Pakistan is therefore being conducted without the consent of the elected representatives of the people, or the legitimate Government of the State. It involves the use of force on the territory of another State without its consent and is therefore a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. Pakistan has also been quite clear that it considers the drone campaign to be counter-productive and to be radicalising a whole new generation, and thereby perpetuating the problem of terrorism in the region. Pakistan has called on the US to cease its campaign immediately. In a direct challenge to the suggested legal justification for these strikes, the Government of Pakistan has also made it quite clear during these discussions that any suggestion that it is “unwilling or unable” to combat terrorism on its own territory is not only wrong, but is an affront to the many Pakistani victims of terrorism who have lost their lives. Based on its direct knowledge of local conditions, Pakistan aims to a sustainable counter-terrorism strategy that involves dialogue and development in this complex region and that tackles not only the manifestations of terrorism but also its root causes. The people of Pakistan need to be given room to develop this strategy. The Pashtun tribes of the FATA area have suffered enormously under the drone campaign. These proud and independent people have been self-governing for generations, and have a rich tribal history that has been too little understood in the West. Their tribal structures have been broken down by the military campaign in FATA and by the use of drones in particular. It is time for the international community to heed the concerns of Pakistan, and give the next democratically elected government of Pakistan the space, support and assistance it needs to deliver a lasting peace on its own territory without forcible military interference by other States.”

ENDS

 

Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad.  She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”.

PAKISTAN PRE -ELECTION SPECIAL

INTERVIEW WITH ANWER CHAUDHRY, PTI WEST PUNJAB STEERING COMMITTEE)

Anwer Chaudhry addressing a seminar with diversyfide comunities

WORKING FOR A BETTER PAKISTAN

I first began to follow the work of politician Imran Khan and his political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) after he stood up to America against armed drones and the culture of “foreign aid with conditions” which may have included turning a blind eye to drone strikes over Waziristan. PTI stands for justice, humanity and self- esteem http://www.insaf.pk/ Imran is interviewed on a daily basis, his policies and views are often in the media however a party leader is only as good as his army of supporters on whom he must rely. I decided to catch up with one PTI worker, Mr Anwer Chaudhry on the West Punjab Steering Committee and find out how he was working towards a better Pakistan.

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Q: What first motivated you to become politically active as a young man?

 
A: I enjoyed public speaking and communicating to a group on a public forum in my University days. My friends propose my name as a president of the chemical society and I was elected with over whelming majority. Then I start taking interest in University Students Union. Soon I became one of the students who were very active in National Students Organization. Imtiaz Alam (now famous TV analyst), Jahangir Badar (now general secretary PPP), Hassan Nisar (now famous columnist), Manzur Ejaz (famous columnist in USA), Shahid Mahmood Nadeem (general manager PTV), Raja Anwer (now minister in Punjab Government) were all members of NSO. I was selected to contest Punjab University Students Union Election in 1970 against Javed Hashmi (now President of PTI).

Q: Tell me about your early experience as a founder member of Pakistan People’s Party?

 
A: It was a wonderful experience. Former Prime Minister Zukifiqar Ali Bhutto was an amazing personality. He told us that it is your party. We owned it by heart. We had a voice in the party. Everybody had a right to criticize anybody in the party.

Q: When former Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr Zulifiqar Ali Bhutto was deposed by Army Chief General Zia-ul-Haq how did that affect your work?


A: It was very painful as if my own father was hanged. It was shocking news for us. The political activities were banned. In the mean time I become busy in my import business and many years passed away.

Q: What was it like working under former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto?

A: We had many hopes with Benazir Bhutto. She was also very encouraging to party old workers. When Benazir Bhutto came into power she was surrounded by new people, land lords and capitalists so many PPP workers kept quitting and left politics. I was one of them.

Q: Tell me about your campaign to free politician Javed Hashmi? (In 2003, Hashmi was arrested and faced a trial on charges of treason in the Central Jail Rawalpindi after allegedly making controversial statements against Pakistan Armed Forces and was released on 4 August 2007).

A: Javed Hashmi Release committee (JHRC)(Overseas) was formed in Canada and America. I was convener for this committee. We managed to get articles published in the press and made a signature campaign overseas and as well as in Pakistan. I was in regular contact with Javed Hashmi in jail as well as with his family. The Government of Pakistan had charged Javed Hashmi in 2004 on the basis of a fraudulent case of treason to silence a strong political voice and imprisoned on a 23-year jail term. The JHRC was formed January 14, 2006 in Toronto to lobby for the release of Javed Hashmi and all political prisoners in Pakistan. A petition was brought online on January 26 and Signature Sheets were introduced see old links below:-

Case details at: http://www.shariahaunt.com/javedhashmicampaign.html
Direct link for Online Petition: http://new.petitiononline.com/jh011406/petition.html

He is now free and President of PTI.

Anwer Chaudhry with Javed Hashmi photo

Q: How did you first come into contact with Imran Khan and PTI?

A: A friend of mine Mr Ahsan Rasheed who was Punjab PTI President introduced me to Imran Khan  at his home in Zaman Park, Lahore.

Q: What were your first impressions of Imran?


A: Whatever he says, it comes from his heart, an honest man which our nation needs.

Anwer Chaudhry with Imran Khan.

Q: Why did you decide to join PTI?


A: I was attracted to its manifesto. This party is not a family party. People will come to the top through the political process.

Q: What is your role within the party?
A: I am just a worker at this time. I have applied for party ticket for National Assembly (NA-79). One year before PTI West Punjab Steering committee was formed I was selected as its member (only one person from Samundri). It was an acknowledgement of my work in Samundri by my Party.

PTI Divisional Head Tariq Chaudhry

Q: What would you say to critics concerned that politicians transferring from older political parties will bring their old ideas/behaviour with them?
A: Imran Khan will never compromise with corrupt elements from other parties who are running into our party nowadays. This will be a big test for our party and I am sure that our leadership will make the right decisions.

Anwer Chaudhry with Shah Mahmood Qureshi

 

Q: Tell me about your work in your hometown of Samundri, Punjab?
A: Two years before when I start working in my home city Samundri (NA-79), it was a big challenge for me. I started working alone but I had my passion with me. I went village to village and convinced the people that PTI is the future of a common man. Do you imagine that I know personally about 15,000 people. When they come in front of me, I recognize them by name. I love my people. They also pray for my success in mosques. I must mention that I got good guidance by our divisional Mr TARIQ CHAUDHRY (ex-Senator).

Q: What are the main issues affecting your area?


A: Education, unemployment, drinking water are the biggest issues. If I will be elected, I will try my best to solve these issues.

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Q: What is your vision for your constituency? 
A: I have a plan to solve unemployment issue in my area which no Member National Assembly (MNA) of any area could have thought. I will get declared from the Government Faisalabad-Samundri Road as an industrial state. You will ask me that who will invest in this area when many industrialists are running away from Pakistan? Yes here will be my test. My years of experience in an international business background has allowed me to develop a strong network of institutional investors from various regions that are eager to come to Pakistan but hesitate due to the corrupt political regime. If PTI is given a chance, these “sidelined” investors will storm in as they understand the opportunity and have limited opportunities as other emerging markets do not offer the same potential that Pakistan does….which I still consider what they call in investment terms a “frontier market”. You also have to keep in mind that Pakistan ranks as one of the easiest places to form a business in Asia…above India as well. SO… THE SKY IS THE LIMIT FOR MY HOME TOWN.

Q: How do you intend to overcome a longstanding culture of corruption in Pakistani politics?

A: Carol, it Is what in the west they phrase as the “trickle -down effect”. If the leader of the ship is not corrupt he will make sure the people reporting directly to him are not and they in turn will do the same as they will be answerable to their seniors. I am not saying corruption will be rotted out. It still exists in countries like the UK when developers are seeking planning permission….but I can assure with confidence that it will be minimized and controlled….because that is the hope that IK brings… the hope of honesty and accountability.

Q: What do you think about talks with the Taliban (TTP)?
A: Every solution is in talks.

Q: How do you encourage youth to become politically active?

A: I have too much interaction with youth in my area. I have made 8000 young people members of PTI. Nowadays I am pursuing others to become TABDILI RAZAKARS (Volunteers for Change https://www.insaf.pk/Forum/tabid/53/forumid/74/tpage/1/view/topic/postid/184514/Default.aspx#184514

 

Q: What role can women play in local politics within your town?

A: First time in the history of Samundri women come out for Imran Khan. They contest the PTI intra party elections and there are 72 women representatives in our tehsil body.

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Q: What is your view on US drone strikes?

A: No, No & No

Q: What should be the policy regarding foreign aid?

A: Technical Aid is OK but big NO to Financial Aid. Our so called rulers have made us beggars.

Q: How do you promote peace and good relations among diverse communities?

A: I am already working with other communities in my area. I presided over a seminar which was held in Samundri.

Anwer Chaudhry with Shafqat MahmoodAnwer Chaudhry with Asad Omer and Naim-ul-Haq

Q: What actions need to be taken to ensure a fair system of voting in forthcoming elections?

A: Fair and impartial Care Taker Government.

Q: How do you think Imran Khan will fair in forthcoming elections?

A: We are going to win. PPP and PMLN are making conspiracies to delay the election. But people of Pakistan will not let them do. This is 2013.

Q: What will be your priorities locally if PTI come into power?
A: I will concentrate the problems of my area: education, unemployment, drinking water.

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THANK-YOU ANWER FOR YOUR TIME…

 

 

Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad.  She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”.

 

 

TRIBAL AREA REPRESENTATIVES LIST THEIR DEMANDS TO GOVERNOR OF KHYBER PAKHTUNKHWA

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Following on from International Women’s Day, firstly I pay tribute to the women of Waziristan and their struggle to raise a family and work in the most difficult of circumstances caught up in the War on Terror in Pakistan. Social development in the region is directly linked to ongoing security problems within FATA, Federally Administered Tribal Areas and those living in the region are trapped between the Pakistan military, the Tehrik -e-Taliban (TTP) and US drone strikes.

Here on this audio link, an inspirational Maryam Bibi, (currently based in Peshawar) and founder and Chief Executive of Kwandor Kor  http://www.synergos.org/bios/mbibi.htm  talks to British politician, David Miliband (Labour). She discusses her work in Waziristan initiating and maintaining women and children’s education and development whilst battling discrimination against those living in the region https://audioboo.fm/boos/404947-discussing-women-s-education-in-waziristan-pakistan-with-maryam-bibi-founder-of-khwendo-kor#t=2m28s

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Maryam (who was one of 1,000 women nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005) advocates using “person to person” contact to work towards educating and empowering people, strengthening families and implementing community based training programmes. This brings me to my second tribute to political activist Alamzaib Khan Mahsud, Insaf Students Federation (ISF) for his assistance and “person to person” contact with me so that I may learn about the current issues faced by tribal people and inform others through my writing.

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In earlier articles I covered the grievances of Mahsud tribe protesting against US drone strikes and military operations carried out by Pakistan armed forces. The hunger strike outside the National Press Club in Islamabad only ended after Shaukatullah Khan, Governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,  agreed to address their concerns http://blog.approximatetargetfilm.com/no-to-drones-and-military-operations-voices-from-tribal-areas-must-be-heard-6/

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MAHSUD TRIBAL PERSONS LIST THEIR DEMANDS:-
1. Operation Rah-e-Nijat (Path to Salvation) must be stopped.

“The Operation Rah-e-Nijat was a strategic military operation by the unified command of Pakistan Armed Forces against the Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP) and their extremist allies in the South Waziristan area of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas that began on June 19, 2009, a major ground-naval-air offensive was subsequently launched on October 17.” This led to thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) uprooted from their homes due to ongoing conflict in the region http://www.irinnews.org/report/97570/How-best-to-serve-Pakistan-s-750-000-IDPs
2. Return tribal people to their homeland and give compensation for the destruction of 57 homes destroyed by the army. The total number of homes destroyed is much larger but this number relates specifically to the army.
3. The kidnapped persons of Mahsud tribe must be released and cases brought to courts of Pakistan.
4. The quota in federal and provisional governments seats 4
5. Drones attacks must be stopped.
6. The local colleges in Waziristan should be opened in Tank and DI Khan.
7. Gomal Zam dam jobs must be given to local people because they gave their land for the dam (and were left without any rice) so they should be prioritized for employment. Tribal persons claim that such initiatives are followed through all over the world.
8. FATA  university should be established.
9. The harassment of Mahsud tribe by police and other local government officials should be stopped.
10. Medical and engineering quota of FATA should be increased.
11. Give compensation to the victims of drones and military operations.
12. Political agent should behave properly.
13. Election should not be postponed.
14. Government should give scholarships to students and give opportunities equally.
15. The aid given to Waziristan IDPs by the whole world should be investigated because no money has been spent on the people of Waziristan.

Alamzaib informed me that these were the points given by him to the Mahsud youth to present to the governor of KP. The governor responded by stating that he was also tribal and would do what he could to assist but that some issues such as drones and military operations were not within his control.

Alamzaib’s article in the local Pakistan press also covered the motivation of youth from FATA in the run up to elections, their role in society and journey to empower tribal communities. One other pressing issue of concern was the mandatory registration of Mahsud Tribe and the system of payment for travel permits known as “rahdaree” which is seen by many as a heavy handed response to militancy in Waziristan which punishes ordinary civilians not involved in insurgency http://tribune.com.pk/story/424324/chained-by-rahdaree-mehsud-tribe-imprisoned-in-south-waziristan/

 

Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad.  She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”