Washington D.C.: The South Asians Against Terrorism and For Human Rights (SAATH) Forum expresses serious concerns over the continued harassment by Pakistani authorities of Professor Mohammad Ismail, the father of renowned exiled human rights activist and member SAATH Forum, Gulalai Ismail. His only “crime” – supporting his daughter’s human rights activism for the Pashtun community.
The Pakistani government has charged him under the draconian cyber-crime law, and had arrested him for the same previously. The courts had given him relief in this regard and granted him bail, owing to the frivolous nature of the charges but once again, the government is pursuing the courts to cancel his bail and imprison him. He was asked to present himself in the courts today for this regard. Fortunately enough, for now, the hearing has been delayed.
But it is still an extremely worrying situation for the civil society and Gulalai Ismail’s family, especially since Professor Ismail is 65+ years old and therefore is in the category of extremely vulnerable people to COVID-19 and not just because of his age but also owing to his underlying conditions including hypertension, heart and kidneys problem.
When in October 2019 Professor Ismail was jailed after being abducted by agencies in Pakistan and later reproduced in the court after international outcry, he was denied medical care in prison. And now summoning Professor Ismail to the court during this pandemic and asking for him to be sent to prison again is putting his life at risk intentionally and is in violation of his constitutional rights. Also, we have been informed by Professor Ismail’s family that his access to his financial resources have been blocked – allegedly at the orders of state agencies. This creates further stress on him as he is unable to provide for his family.
We urge the civil society and media in Pakistan to raise voice against this targeting of human rights activist in the country and demand that the Pakistani government drop all charges against Professor Ismail and his family members.
On March 9-10, representatives of the SAATH UK and Europe chapters met in London. The aim of the meeting was to activate the SAATH chapters in UK and Europe, and hold regular chapter meetings.
The discussions focused on how to engage governments and nongovernmental organizations on these countries and to raise awareness about Pakistan’s imperiled democracy, its human rights challenges, and women and religious minorities rights being under fire. The participants also discussed the regional ramifications of the deal with the Afghan Taliban as well as developments inside India.
South Asians Against Terrorism & For Human Rights (SAATH) Forum condemns
the vile attack and use of abusive language against a political activist and
Forum member Marvi Sirmed by Khalilur Rehman Qamar on a national TV channel
earlier this week.
believe the national TV channel must apologise to Marvi Sirmed and ban Khalilur
Rehman from any TV appearance. We also demand from PEMRA to look at the matter
and fine the said TV channel for broadcasting such act on a national TV. The
abusive language and disrespect for a woman is not acceptable.
SAATH Forum supports the 3rd annual Aurat Azadi March and call the authorities
to protect the freedom of speech. We also unequivocally believe in the slogans
that are used by women in Pakistan such as “Mera Jism Meri Marzi” (My body, my
choice) and “Khana Khud garam karo” (Warm up your food). These slogans rightly
highlight the multiple issues which women in Pakistan are facing such as sexual
and reproductive health, domestic violence and rape, education, right to
assembly and freedom of speech.
stand in solidarity with our women forum members and the women marchers of Pakistan,
and would defend their right to speech and freedom of expression. We call upon
media organizations, political workers and international community to join us
and stand in solidarity with Marvi Sirmed and the Aurat Azaadi March 2020.
Pakistan has a long history of hounding the dissenters. The country’s military establishment -and occasionally the civilian one too- has stigmatized, ostracized and persecuted those who differed with whatever was considered the state-sponsored gospel truth at the time. Pashtun and Baloch nationalist leaders like Ghaffar Khan and Ghaus Bux Bizenjo were smeared as traitors and arrested within a year of the country’s independence. Regrettably, even Ms. Fatima Jinnah, the sister of the country’s founding father Mohammed Ali Jinnah, was not spared by Pakistan’s first military dictator Field Marshal Ayub Khan when she opposed him in a presidential election; he denigrated not just her politics and but also her character. Pakistan’s state apparatus and its partisans have continued since to torment, vilify, and even worse, attack and physically eliminate the dissident voices.
This persecution is not random; there is a method to this madness.
On October 28-30, 2016, Pakistanis from around the world gathered in London for the Future of Pakistan Conference hosted by SAATH Forum.
The discussions at this deliberative conference focused on how the pluralist and secular narrative in Pakistan can be strengthened. Can individuals currently spread over many political parties, NGOs and media houses agree to collaborate for greater goals setting aside individual interests and differences? How can we ensure greater support for pluralist ideas in Pakistan given the array of forces opposed to it? Is there a scope for such politics and how can it be mainstreamed especially in Pakistan’s youth? These and many other questions were the topics of the day, and helped shape the Declaration of the attendees, as read by Rashed Rahman.
In the ‘London Declaration for Pakistani Pluralism’, the participants agreed that, “Pakistan faces the risk of global isolation because of widespread obscurantism, official support for extremism and general disregard for human rights”.
The military’s influence in Pakistan’s public life came under fire at a conference here that brought together more than 60 left and liberal thinkers and political activists from the beleaguered country and elsewhere, with some calling for “controlled demolition” of the army’s role.
LONDON: Several prominent liberal intellectuals, human rights and social media activists, and public figures from Pakistan and the Diaspora are gathering in London for a conference on ‘The Future of Pakistan’ to discuss the liberal and progressive way forward for the South Asian country.