SACW | 1 July, 2003
Tue, 1 Jul 2003 02:30:54 +0100
South Asia Citizens Wire | 1 July, 2003
#1. Pakistan: An Open Letter to The President and PM (Pakistanis for
Peace and Alternative Development)
#2. The Aryan Connection (Satya Sagar)
#3. Violence against women in Pakistan (Dawn, Editorial)
#4. Women's Liberty Under Attack in Northwest Pakistan (Juliette Terzieff)
#5. India: Compounding Injustice - Gujarat Massacre Cases Sabotaged
(Human Rights Watch)
#6. ' worse than egg on India's face' - Letter to the Editor re
Gujarat (Mukul Dube)
#7. Gujarat Genocide - Did It Happen? (Editorial, The Telegraph)
#8. Indian Troops in Iraq would be a disaster: A letter to the editor
#9. Pakistan: Mubashir Hasan against Pak troops in Iraq
#10. Misleading the people (Prakash Karat)
Pakistanis for Peace and Alternative Development
26 June 2003
An Open Letter to
The President General Pervez Musharraf, and
Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, Prime Minister of Pakistan
Dear President and the Prime Minister,
Please stop the Greater Thal Canal And help the rural poor in Sindh
On behalf of the members PPAD - a group of professionals and
academics from Pakistan working for Peace and alternative development
- we appeal to you to use your good offices to cancel the Greater
Thal canal (GTC) project and rescue the people of rural Sindh where
more than 60% population lives below the poverty line. The Greater
Thal canal (GTC) will have enormous detrimental impact on the people,
economy and environment of Sindh.
The Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) and other
government agencies that manage water resources of Pakistan are not
listening to the people of Sindh. All of the decisions relating to
water have been made without any concern for the interests of the
people of Sindh who have neither been given the basic essential
information nor consulted about these decisions of such importance to
their lives and livelihood. The organizations such as WAPDA have
callously flouted internationally recognized rights of the lower
riparian that have been upheld in the local and international
courts. Due to neglect and lack of affirmative actions, rural Sindhis
have become the poorest of poor in the world. Even by Pakistani
standards, more than half the population of nearly 30 million - most
of them in rural Sindh - live below the poverty line.
The water crisis being experienced in Pakistan is not so much a
result of general water shortage and climate changes as some would
have us believe - it is a direct result of mismanagement of the
water resources. The desire and actions of Punjab to take more than
its fair share from Indus River have existed since the middle of the
nineteenth century. On many occasions, the British courts and
officials prevented Punjab from diverting water from the river at the
expense of Sindh. In 1901, the Indian Irrigation Commission
prohibited Punjab from taking any water from Indus without the
approval of Sindh. In 1919, the then government of India issued the
Cotton Committee report wherein, it ordered Punjab not to undertake
any projects until the Sukkur barrage was completed and the water
needs of Sindh were determined. In 1925, Lord Reading, the British
Viceroy of India, rejected the Punjab's request for the Greater Thal
canal from Indus considering the undue deprivation of Sindh's lower
In spite of strong opposition that has included resolutions in the
parliaments of Sindh, Baluchistan, and North-West Frontier Province
(NWFP), the government is proceeding to build the Greater Thal Canal.
This diversion of Sindh's share of water will have devastating
consequences for the province and its people as described below:
Deforestation and livelihood of people: Shortage of water will
deprive the 'kacho' area from river inundation. About 100,000 people
live here and derive direct sustenance from this area. In addition,
about a million people benefit from the timber trade, firewood
supply, and as fishermen and boatmen. Forests along the Indus River
are threatened due to reduced flow of water which is the only source
of regeneration and growth of these forests.
Lakes, wetlands and mangrove destruction: Indus river water and the
nutrients and silt deposited when it discharges into the sea, sustain
the mangroves forming an important element of the coastal ecosystem.
The forests support many species and are a source of timber, fodder,
and wild life. They are major breeding areas for shrimps and crabs.
The reduced flows flow of water will pollute and dry out the lakes
and wetlands so very important for the ecology of the area.
Salt water intrusion: The Indus water discharge to the sea keeps the
sea water at bay and does not let it intrude too much into the
surface and ground water resources inland. Salt-water intrusion has
been witnessed inland up to 100 kilometers north of the sea. This
destroys water supplies and renders fertile agricultural lands
useless, resulting in loss of jobs and economic devastation. Pakistan
National Institute of Oceanography and National Science Foundation
has established that salt-water intrusion into the plains of lower
Sindh is directly related to the decrease in the river water flow.
Rare and endangered species at risk: The Indus Blind Dolphin or
Bullahan - a rare specie - was once present throughout the entire
Indus river system and numbered in hundreds of thousands. These had
dwindled from 500 in 1993 to less than 200 in a short stretch of the
river between Sukkur and Gudu barrages. Shad or Pallo fish,
Barramundi fish, Dangri fish, and shrimps are equally threatened with
extinction due to lack of water outflow to the sea and destruction of
the mangrove forests.
Cultural deprivation: Water is of great importance to the lives and
beliefs of the Sindhi people. The religion, literature, and many
cultural and social aspects of their lives are intertwined with
water; especially the Indus. Depriving them of water is to deprive
them of their core belief system and cultural values.
We therefore appeal to you to review this policy of building large
dams and canals and instead institute a comprehensive water
distribution plan for the whole country based on the following
1. Fair Indus River water distribution policies should be developed
and implemented based on the Sindh-Punjab agreement of 1945. These
policies should ban construction of any structures, including the
Kalabagh Dam, the Greater Thal Canal, and similar projects.
2. A study should be conducted as envisaged in the 1991 Water Accord
to cover all environmental and ecological consequences downstream
from Kotri Barrage due to reduced water release. The study must
establish the water needs downstream for human population, protection
of mangroves, prevention of sea intrusion, sustenance of fisheries,
and maintenance of groundwater quality.
3. A new agreement should be developed based on the 1945 Sindh -
Punjab agreement and the 1962 Indus Basin Water Treaty between India
and Pakistan. The new agreement must recognize the internationally
accepted lower riparian rights.
We very much hope that we have made a convincing case for you to
intervene and save the environment as well as prevent economic and
ecological devastation to a vast area and its people by canceling the
Greater Thal Canal and instituting an equitable water distribution
policy and programme for the benefit of the whole country.
Dr Ahmed Shible,
Coordinator: Dr Ahmed Shibli, London firstname.lastname@example.org
Members: Dr Ghazala Anwar, New Zealand. Group Captain (Rt.) Cecil
Chaudhry, Pakistan. Nazeer A Chaudhry, USA. Prof. Hassan Gardezi,
Canada. Arif Hasan, Pakistan. Prof. Dr. Syed Hamidullah, Pakistan.
Prof. Bilal Hashmi, USA. Owais Hasin, Pakistan. Ayyub Malik, UK. Dr
Babar Mumtaz, UK. Prof. A H Nayyar, Pakistan. Dr Saghir Shaikh, USA
South Asia Citizens Wire Special
30 June 2003
The Aryan Connection
It is late night and I am still listening to this slick, pony-tailed,
middle-aged Indian I chanced upon in a Munich caf=E9. "I meet them once
in a while, the old Nazis" he tells me "They have a soft corner for
(Thanks, I tell myself, that's what I really need now ' a Nazi soft corner'.=
It is my keenness to get a tangential Indian view of Munich that
keeps me here with this bloke. An architect by profession, X-Ray (let
us call him that) has lived in Germany now for over three decades and
obviously has a 'soft corner' for the Nazis too.
Not surprising at all. Many well-heeled Indians living overseas are
ardent supporters of the quasi-fascist, Hindu chauvinist politicians
ruling India right now. X-Ray's beloved Hindu right wing politicians,
in turn, come from a long tradition of admiration for Hitler and
everything he stood for- including the ethnic cleansing of the Jews
in his times.
But why should the Nazis have a 'soft corner' for India? How did it
fit into their Weltanschauung?
The answer lies in the 'Aryan' Connection. According to this piece of
fiction the populations of Europe, India and Iran had a common
ancestry in the Aryan Race, which migrated from the mountainous
regions of Central Asia and produced some of the earliest human
Over two centuries after the myth of the 'noble, superior' Aryan Race
was first postulated the political, historical processes it set forth
in motion are still with us in a variety of ways- in South Asia, the
Middle-East, Europe and even the United States. Though thoroughly
discredited by modern scholarship as well as the horrific experiences
of the Second World War, the Aryan Connection is still very much
alive and killing.
Let me explain first with a little bit of history about the Aryan
Race myth itself.
The origins of the concept partially go back to Sir William Jones, a
18th century judge in Bengal as part of the British Raj, who studied
the Sanskrit language and discovered several structural affinities it
had with Greek, Latin, Celtic and German. Later, other scholars
showed that Avestan (from ancient Iran), Armenian, and the Slavic
languages were also related. All these were referred to as the
Indo-German, or Indo-European group of languages.
As translations of old Sanskrit texts like the ancient Vedas
flourished in Europe (Napoleon apparently carried it on the
battlefield !) and enthusiasm for everything Indian grew dramatically
it was just a matter of time before the notion of a common
Indo-European language gave rise to the idea of common 'racial'
origins too. The Brahmins of ancient India, according to their
traditional lore, were supposed to be descendants of Aryan conquerors
who migrated to India from the highlands of Central Asia, a tale that
blended perfectly with beliefs among European occultists that white
'Caucasians' too had originated from the same Central Asian
mountains. Ergo, the concept of the Aryan Race as the creator of
ancient civilizations was born.
Given the nineteenth century European obsession with 'race' and
'history' the theory of the 'noble, superior' Aryan race became
wildly popular, took legs and ran all over the world posing as the
answer to the mysteries of all ancient civilizations. By the early
twentieth century this absurd concept had grown claws, a beak and
even sprouted wings with the rise of Hitler before finally crashing
to the ground in the flak and fury of the Second World War.
Let me explain why the idea of the Aryan race is so ridiculous. To
begin with the category of 'race' itself is itself quite dubious.
Genetically almost all of humanity is identical and the only 'race'
we are all part of today, I believe, is the 'rat race' of global
Secondly the seemingly logical leap from postulating a common set of
'Aryan' languages to the Aryan Race is also quite idiotic. A simple
example will suffice to show its idiocy. If an extra-terrestrial
studied the languages spoken on Planet Earth today and concluded that
all those who speak, read and write English belong to the same
race/ethnic group would he/she/it be right or wrong ? Obviously wrong
unless I look like Tom Cruise, which I assure you - I don't. (I don't
even look like Woody Allen)
Linguistic and cultural influences typically travel much faster than
human populations (even in ancient times) and so the similarities
that one sees between Sanskrit and Latin are entirely possible
without both languages having a common origin. Even though it is
safe to assume that there were several waves of migration from parts
of central Asia into India over the millennia it does not follow that
there is any one central source for Sanskrit. In all probability it
evolved as a hybrid of both imported and indigenous languages native
to ancient India.
How is all this discussion of the Aryan race, supposedly buried with
the Nazis, so relevant to what is happening in our world today?
=46irst of all, the idea of the 'Aryan race' is unfortunately not fully
interred yet in popular consciousness in several parts of the world.
Just do a search for the 'Aryan Race' on the web and see the number
of sites that turn up talking about the term as a historical fact.
Secondly, the Aryan myth still plays an important role in the
contemporary politics of South Asia.
In India, for example, the 19th century European notion of the
ancient 'Aryans' as the fount of all human wisdom and civilization
underpins the modern Hindu chauvinist worldview according to which:
a) The history of the Indian sub-continent is essentially an 'Aryan
Hindu history' reaching back continuously over 5000 years (including
the Indus valley civilizations) and interrupted only by the 'vicious'
invasions of Muslims and later Christians during the last millennium.
So if Muslims and Christians want to survive in India today they will
have to 'Hinduise' themselves. If they don't do it on their own the
Hindu storm troopers will force them to. The Aryans themselves in
this version are believed to be completely indigenous to India and
not migrants from Central Asia.
b) The Vedas, the world's oldest 'Aryan' literature, are the
repository of all 'truth' and its wisdom needs to be revived and used
in the modern Indian context irrespective of their relevance. So we
now have courses in 'Vedic mathematics' and 'Vedic astrology' being
taught in Indian universities thanks to the current Hindu chauvinist
regime. Though they will never spell it out in so many words the
more insidious part of this project to revive the 'virtues' of
ancient India is to justify and perpetuate the Indian caste system
with the fair skinned 'Aryans' at the top and the darker non-Aryan
'rabble' at the bottom of the pile.
c) India should aspire to be a 'great power' in world affairs today
to recover the 'glory' of its ancient past. If necessary this should
be done with the help of the nuclear bomb and strategic alliances
with the only existing superpower- America.
In neighboring Sri Lanka the Aryan myth has played a devastating role
in dividing the island's allegedly 'Aryan' Sinhalese population from
the so called 'Dravidian' Tamil population over the past century or
more. Several studies by Sri Lankan sociologists have traced the
Orientalist propaganda of the Aryan race theory in the mid-nineteenth
century as having shaped Sri Lanka's national consciousness
drastically. While there were other factors also responsible for the
eruption of this tragic island's two decade long civil war between
Tamils and the Sinhalese there is no doubt that the Aryan fable has
taken its deadly toll here too.
As for the Middle-East the role of the Aryan myth in shaping its
modern history is quite obvious- through the creation of Israel in
1948. Quite simply put, if not for Nazi obsession with establishing
'Nordic Aryan purity' in Europe and the consequent Jewish Holocaust
there would be no Israel today, the European Jews would still have
been in Europe and Palestine might have been the most peaceful place
on Earth (barring of course the chance of Bush Jr. searching for WMDs
Sure, Zionism pre-dates the Holocaust but then it was also born as an
extreme reaction to the anti-Semitism widespread throughout Europe in
the nineteenth century. An anti-Semitism that had always existed in
Europe for two millennia but which acquired a particularly virulent
form with the coming of the Aryan Race myth, which was used by
anti-Semites, among other reasons, as a counter to the Jews calling
themselves God's 'chosen people'.
Ironically the early Zionists picked up the dubious category of
'race' prevalent among their worst enemies and insisted that the Jews
were one 'race' thereby lumping diverse people belonging to the same
faith into one racial/ethnic category (so today we have people from
the north-east Indian state of Manipur, thought to belong to the
ancient Jewish Bnei Menashe tribe, freely migrating to Israel because
they are all supposed to be part of the same 'race').
The basis for the creation of Israel, drawing as it does on
nineteenth century notions of race and obsession with historical
origins, was clearly the 'Jewish myth'- an inverted image of the
Aryan myth. And when has an evil ever ceased to be so by merely
putting a mirror to it.
Now coming to modern-day Europe, though there are signs of
anti-Semitism on the rise in many countries, I do not think that the
Aryan myth is still taken seriously by many people. (There is nothing
like a World War to cure a continent of bad scholarship!)
But Europe still has a responsibility for the continuing global
consequences of the Aryan Race theory and the anti-Semitism it
spurred on in its past. Let me explain how.
=46irstly, it is well known that anti-Semitism was not unique to
Germany and widespread throughout Europe. This is a point worth
focusing on, because the way the history of anti-Semitism and the
Second World War has been popularly told the blame has been
simplistically placed entirely on Nazi Germany whereas a lot more of
Europe should be sharing such blame.
Apart from countries in mainland Europe, even in the United Kingdom
and the United States anti-Semitism was rife in those days. (In 1938
four polls showed that up to 85% of the American public was opposed
to increased immigration quotas which would have allowed Jewish
refugees to escape Nazi Germany.)
Also, it has to be recognized that the way the Aryan Myth and
anti-Semitism played out under the Nazis was only an extension,
albeit an extreme one, of the notions of racial superiority that
permeated all of European colonialism. The concepts of colonialism
being a 'civilizational mission' , 'the white man's burden', the
colonized natives being close to 'animals' and so on were all
precursors to the deadly brew of fascism that Hitler finally stirred
up. (And that is why as the US elites embark upon their own brazen
colonial expedition in Iraq some of the justifications bandied about
sound almost as if the word 'Aryans' has been just displaced neatly
It is interesting to me, as a citizen of a former colony, that when
the blame-game began following the defeat of the Nazis after the
Second World War few scholars took up the link between fascism and
European colonialism. To me it seems that the upstart that he was,
Hitler upset the racist, colonial applecart by taking it to logical
extent with his theories of Aryan superiority and the practice of
holocaust. Basically the fellow thought he would outsmart his fellow
Europeans at what they were doing in their colonies anyway.
Thirdly, the logic of the Allied action at the end of the Second
World War vis a vis Europe's Jews seemed to be that a people who had
been so grievously wronged by Europe certainly deserved to have a
land of their own --- in faraway Asia ! (Imagine the much oppressed
Kurds getting a homeland in Bavaria. Why not indeed ?)
I know all about the Balfour declaration of 1917 (who the hell were
the British to 'promise' Palestine to a handful of Zionists) and also
about the 2000 year old claim of the Zionists to Palestine (sure, and
I am now about to grab some prime real estate in Tashkent).
In the process of accepting the creation of Israel the Allies also
ironically fulfilled, wittingly or unwittingly, - a long-standing
dream of all European anti-Semites ie. to get the continent rid of
the Jews. Amazingly enough, the vanquishers of the Nazis did with the
carrot of Israel what the Nazis failed to do with the stick of the
In fact, when I as a South Asian, look at the seemingly perpetual
conflict between the Jews and the Palestinians- one desperately
trying to hold on to a new born nation and the other desperately
trying to retrieve an old one- what I see is a tragic conflict
between two sets of victims. The Jews, victims of European and indeed
Western racism/fascism pitted against the Palestinians, victims of
Western colonialism/opportunism. There is nothing more terrible than
two members from the same family fighting each other or the
quarreling of two slaves owned by the same master (there is virtually
no evidence of animosity between the Jews and the Muslims before the
early twentieth century).
Since I have taken so much of your time explaining the Aryan
Connection between India, the West and the Jewish Holocaust let me
take a little more - with a modest proposal towards what a solution
to the so called Middle-East crisis could look like.
It is quite clear to me that the solution does not lie within the
geographical or political parameters of the middle-east itself. The
solution really lies with Europe, which while pretending to act as a
broker of peace between the Jews and the Arabs- has not yet fully
compensated for what its people did to the Jews of Europe or foisted
upon the hapless Palestinians. (This is in fact particularly true of
'new Europe' which consists mostly of countries that have
conveniently buried their anti-Semitic past in the fog of the Cold
What Europe needs to do now is to undo that old Nazi and in fact old
pan-European notion of making Europe 'free of the Jews' to 'settle
the Jewish question'. Wait, I am not saying take the population of
Israel back to Europe.
Be more creative- make Israel along with a newly independent
Palestinian state full members of the European Union. Make the
borders meaningless just like in Europe. Of course, all this with the
United States bearing part of the expenses involved in such an
Stretch out your hand, be generous and help the Israelis and
Palestinians achieve what the old warring nations of Europe
themselves are doing so brilliantly- bury their differences and
create a new, peaceful future.
As the current round of bloodshed between the Israeli government and
Hamas shows, left to themselves the Zionists and Palestinian
hardliners will enact nothing short of Armageddon in their ancient
land. And already I can hear Adolf Hitler laughing in his grave,
wherever that happens to be, at the prospect of these 'non-Aryans'
doing to themselves - exactly what he wanted to do to them.
Satya Sagar is a journalist based in Thailand. He can be reached at
DAWN (Pakistan), 30 June 2003
Violence against women
A Rawalpindi-based NGO's revelations about women victims of violence
are horrifying. According to the data collected by it, some 5,000
women were burnt to death in the last five years by their husbands or
in-laws in Rawalpindi-Islamabad and the adjoining areas alone.
Revealing the gory details, the rights group's spokeswoman noted with
shock and horror the latest method of torturing women to death by
The situation in many other parts of the country is no better either.
Considering the alarming number of women becoming victims of violence
- harassment, physical abuse, selling of girls in marriages or
offering them to adversaries as compensation to settle tribal
disputes, rape, imprisonment under false charges of fornication,
mutilation, acid throwing, burning, electrocution, honour killing -
not enough is being done at any level - legal, social or political -
to fight these evils and to safeguard women's rights, interests and,
above all, their physical safety and well-being. The fact that their
tormentors are seldom, if ever, brought to justice, makes it only
Regressive social practices, rooted in tribal and feudal customs and
traditions, coupled with an obscurantist interpretation of religious
edicts, are the main hurdles in way of according women their due
rights, status and protection. Changing social attitudes towards
women in a society in transition such as ours requires sustained
legal and social efforts and nation-wide legal aid services for women.
The discriminatory Hudood, Qisas and Diyat Ordinances and the Law of
Evidence are repressive in spirit and application and deserve to be
repealed or suitably modified. Increased representation of women in
our legislatures now provides the right conditions and opportunity to
get things moving on this very important front.
Pakistan cannot become a moderate, progressive and a prosperous
Muslim country without strengthening civil society and abiding by its
norms. This requires, first and foremost, giving men and women equal
access to opportunities in life, with particular emphasis on the
protection of the rights, interests, safety and well-being of women.
Women's eNews (USA)
June 30, 2003
Women's Liberty Under Attack in Northwest Pakistan
By Juliette Terzieff
A religious alliance in Pakistan's Northwest provinces is ushering in
strict new laws that threaten the rights of women and remind many of
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (WOMENSENEWS)--Nighat Orakzai strode purposefully
down the wood-paneled corridors of the Northwest Frontier Province
assembly building situated in the heart of this overcrowded dusty
border town. She was determined to fight legislative moves introduced
by the ruling Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal--a six-party religious
alliance--that threaten basic rights of the population in this
"They are pursuing a political agenda, using religion as a way to
whip up emotions on issues that, at the end of the day, are not
issues that address the basic needs of the population," she argued
passionately last month at the opening of the current assembly's
sixth sitting since elections last year. "In fact, instead of
addressing basic needs like job creation and education, the result is
a deteriorating situation."
Orakzai is one of a dozen women in the assembly of this impoverished
area along the border with Afghanistan. They are there as a result of
an inclusion process instituted by President Pervez Musharraf last
year. The spunky outspoken 43-year old mother of four doesn't
describe herself as a women's rights activist. For her, that would be
too narrow. She says she is a concerned mother and politician seeking
to better living conditions in her home province.
"Women's rights are human rights," Orakzai fumes, "and with this
government we see the protection of neither. We don't even see the
rule of law."
Recently, over a 100 student activists of the Jamaat-I-Islami, one of
the religious alliance's lead parties, rode around Peshawar with
bamboo sticks and ladders tearing down advertisements for soft drinks
and tea products containing the images of women as part of a loosely
defined "anti-obscenity" campaign. Peshawar police did nothing to
stop the mob, which was led by Jamaat-I-Islami's district chief and
former mujahideen commander Sabir Hussain Awan, setting off fierce
argument and protest from the secular political parties. Religious
zealots have also attacked musicians, cable networks, cinemas and
Many of the religious alliance's leaders were schooled in the same
madrassas (religious schools) as high-ranking members of
Afghanistan's former Taliban regime where the Deobandi school of
thought teaches young men that music is sinful and education for
girls beyond 8-years-old is a waste of time.
At the assembly's opening session, Orakzai repeatedly jumped up
alongside other opposition members to call the ruling alliance to
task for that recent bout of vigilantism. She argued that not only is
the tearing down of billboards according to one small groups' rigid
interpretations of Islam illegal but that nowhere in the Koran does
it state that a woman's face is "obscene."
"Instead of creating jobs, they're destroying them," Orakzai said, in
a furious mix of Urdu and broken English.
Similarities to the Taliban
After winning their surprise landslide victory last October, the
religious alliance outlawed male coaches of female sports teams,
moved to ban male doctors from treating female patients and to
segregate educational institutions.
"It reeks of Taliban-like influence and I argue there is no place in
Pakistan for that type of religious extremism and must be opposed,"
says Ilyas Bilour, a male assembly member from the more secular
oriented Awami National Party.
Despite opposition parties' ability to join hands on certain issues,
the religious alliance holds a commanding 74-seat majority in the
122-seat provincial assembly. Only a simple majority is required to
Supporters of the moves argue the changes are meant to bolster
women's security and access to services.
"Some families do not wish to send their girls to school with males
or to male doctors," argues Qazi Hussein Ahmed, national leader of
Jamaat-I-Islami. "We will do everything to ensure women have their
proper place in society."
But in a country where more than 60 percent of women are illiterate,
there are precious few qualified female professionals to step in
where males dominate.
"If a man and woman are standing in an operating theater, they are
just doctors trying to save a life and the patient certainly deserves
the best treatment available from a doctor of either sex," says
Orakzai. "Banning treatment of the opposite sex is going to deprive
many people their rightful claim to health care."
Worst May Yet Be to Come
A month ago the religious alliance unveiled two new acts designed to
bring the province in line with their beliefs--the Sharia
Implementation Act of 2003 and the Hisba Act.
The vaguely worded Sharia initiative, which passed unanimously
earlier this month, provides for the enforcement of Koran-based
Islamic law covering the judiciary, education, and the eradication of
social evils. Prepared by a 21-member religious council, the law bans
honor killings and "swara"--the forced marriage of women as
compensation for family feuds or murders--a move applauded by most
Despite opposition worries that danger may lie in the ruling clerics
interpretation of the law, all political parties in the provincial
assembly voted in favor, lest the clerics brand them as "bad" Muslims
who refute God's law as given in the Koran. As the results were read
out to the gathered assembly, ruling alliance supporters jumped up
screaming "Allahu Akbar!" (God is great!) and placed chocolates in
each other's mouths.
More worrisome for frontier province women is the Hisba Act--Islamic
duty to promote virtue and prevent vice--slated for debate in the
coming weeks. The proposal calls for the formation of a Hisba force
to mete out punishments on the spot. The new department will be
headed by a muhtasib (Islamic law officer) whose dictates cannot be
questioned even by the assembly.
While the new laws under solid circumstances could serve to
strengthen the position of women in some spheres, most here worry
their implementation will more closely resemble that of the Taliban
in neighboring Afghanistan where the religious police regularly beat
women in public for even the slightest perceived infraction.
"We are not the Taliban," insists Jamaat-I-Islami leader Ahmed. "We
want to ensure justice for all members of society, set an example
that, God willing, will spread across the country."
Despite the repeated assurances of key alliance leaders, human rights
campaigners remain unconvinced.
"Issues under discussion are very woman focused and that is
frightening," says Palwasha Bangash of the Human Rights Commission of
Pakistan. "On the one hand, the federal government says incidents of
violence and militancy are going down, and yet at the same time it is
being institutionalized in the Northwest Frontier Province."
Violence is a common way to settle disputes, especially in tribal
areas, which dominate most of the region. Retaliatory murders, rape
and banishment are punishments often condoned, and sometimes even
prescribed, by local councils made up of tribal elders.
"Even if the ruling parties respect the true spirit of the laws,
which remains to be seen, that may not trickle out into the areas
where the situation is most severe," believes Bangash.
Cognizant of growing fear amongst the general population, opposition
parties jointly requested more time to study the proposals, in order
to forge a common position on amendments before putting the motions
up for vote.
"We're going to do what we can to forward debate on concrete issues
that speak to needs of the common people, forge a government that can
achieve results" says Orakzai. "But at the end of the day, the
religious alliance is in control and what agenda they want, they're
likely to get."
Juliette Terzieff is a freelance journalist currently based in
Pakistan who has worked for the San Francisco Chronicle, Newsweek,
CNN International and The London Sunday Times.
India: Gujarat Massacre Cases Sabotaged
(New York, July 1, 2003) The ringleaders of massacres committed in
2002 are still roaming free in Gujarat, Human Rights Watch charged in a
new report released today.
The 70-page report, Compounding Injustice: The Government's Failure to
Redress Massacres in Gujarat, examines the record of state authorities
in holding perpetrators accountable and providing humanitarian relief to
victims of state-supported massacres of Muslims in February and March
Human Rights Watch urged the federal government to take over cases of
large-scale massacres where the state government has sabotaged
investigations. On June 27, a Gujarat state court acquitted twenty-one
people accused of burning alive twelve Muslims in a bakery in Vadodara.
Thirty-five of the seventy-three witnesses reportedly retracted in court
the statements they had given to the police identifying the attackers.
"The government's record on the massacres is appalling," said Smita
Narula, senior researcher for Human Rights Watch and author of the
report. "Sixteen months after the beginning of the violence, not a
single person has been convicted."
More than one hundred Muslims have been charged under India's
much-criticized Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) for their alleged
involvement in the train massacre in Godhra. No Hindus have been charged
under POTA in connection with the violence against Muslims, which the
government continues to dismiss as spontaneous and unorganized.
Although the Indian government initially boasted of thousands of arrests
following the attacks, most of those arrested have since been acquitted,
released on bail with no further action taken, or simply let go. Police
regularly downgrade serious charges to lesser crimes =96 from murder or
rape to rioting, for example =96 and alter victims' statements to delete
the names of the accused.
Even when cases reach trial, Muslim victims face biased prosecutors and
judges. Hindu and Muslim lawyers representing Muslim victims, and
doctors providing medical relief to them, have also faced harassment and
Hundreds of women and girls were brutally raped, mutilated, and burnt to
death in Gujarat. The police have refused to pursue these cases.
In numerous instances, and in an effort to cover up their own
participation in the violence, the police have instituted false cases
against men and women injured in police shootings.
Living conditions for more than 100,000 people displaced by the violence
continue to be grossly inadequate. For months they resided in makeshift
relief camps with little support from the state. By the end of October
2002, the government had closed most of the camps, forcing some families
back into neighborhoods where their attackers still live and where their
security is continuously threatened. Most people interviewed by Human
Rights Watch received negligible amounts to compensate for the
destruction of their homes, ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand
rupees, or less than one hundred dollars.
Hindus in Gujarat have suffered as well, Human Rights Watch said.
Thousands of small businesses owned by Hindus closed down during the
violence. The relatives of the Hindus killed in Godhra have been denied
redress and some face economic destitution. The Human Rights Watch
report also documents and strongly condemns the September 2002 massacre
of Hindus at Akshardham in Gandhinagar, Gujarat's capital.
Hindu nationalist groups continue to arm civilians in Gujarat and many
other Indian states. Instead of cracking down on these groups, the
Gujarat state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has included the
distribution of arms as part of its election manifesto.
In December 2002, the BJP won by a landslide in Gujarat state elections.
Using posters and videotapes of the Godhra massacre, and rhetoric that
depicted Muslims as terrorists intent on destroying the Hindu community,
the party gained the most seats in areas affected by the communal
In states that go to the polls later this year, such as Rajasthan and
Madhya Pradesh, potentially explosive campaigns are already in full
swing. Members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council, VHP)
are distributing weapons similar to those used in Gujarat, as well as
literature depicting Muslims as sexual deviants and terrorists. Members
of both communities live in fear that a simple altercation could become
the pretext for large-scale violence.
The Human Rights Watch report also examines the recruitment of Dalits
(so-called untouchables) and tribals (indigenous peoples) in the
violence against Muslims in Gujarat, and the subsequent scapegoating of
these communities in police arrests. Since the events of last year,
Christians in the state have also come under renewed administrative,
legislative, and physical attack.
The Human Rights Watch report includes forty detailed recommendations to
Indian authorities and the international community. Human Rights Watch
called on the Indian government to act immediately to prevent further
attacks, end impunity, and deliver meaningful assistance to those
displaced and dispossessed by the violence.
=46or Human Rights Watch's original report on the 2002 massacres of
Muslims and Hindus in Gujarat, "We Have No Orders to Save You," please
Testimony from the report Compounding Injustice: The Government's
=46ailure to Redress Massacres in Gujarat
Khalid Noor Mohammed Sheikh lost nine family members in the February
2002 massacre in Naroda Patia, Ahmedabad, including his pregnant
thirty-year-old daughter Kauser Bano. Her belly was cut open and the
fetus was pulled out and hacked to pieces before she was killed:
I took [my daughter] Kauser to the hospital for delivery the day before
the attack. She was ready to deliver. But the doctor said there was time
and to come back in the morning. But there was no morning after. By
then it was all over. And the tragedy is that the people who ripped my
daughter's child out of her body and killed her are walking about
freely. Why does it have to be this way?=85 Please make every effort that
the criminals get punished. Even if they don't get punished a lot, they
should at least get punished a little=85. They keep going on about Muslim
terrorists, but who are the terrorists? Those who torture Muslims so
much should be punished a bit. In a family of nine, I am the only
survivor. Whom should I live for now?
R. Bibi's thirty-six-year-old son was killed by the police in Naroda
A lot happened that day. The crowds came. Everything was destroyed. We
didn't know what was going on, that something was going to happen. We
were just doing our work. Suddenly there was an attack. They were
raping women. Then they were killing them, burning them and cutting them
up into pieces. The police killed my son. They shot him=85. The government
tells us to bring proof when we go to ask for [compensation]=85. My life
was taken away when they shot my son. Everything has been taken away and
now they want evidence, where will I get the body from? I wasn't even
able to see his body=85. They stole everything, they burnt everything,
they killed people, and [Rs. 1,250 (U.S.$27)] is all we got. Now my
daughters go and do housework in other people's homes. They wash dishes,
they sweep and clean=85. We find some way to fill our stomachs. Somehow we
have to survive=85. It's too much. Even now we have no relief.
Nishith Acharya is a volunteer at the Akshardham cultural complex in
Gandhinagar and was an eyewitness to the September 2002 massacre of
They threw something inside, a grenade, into the bookstore. By God's
grace it did not explode in the bookstore. One middle-aged lady tried to
come out. They fired on her, and she was immediately killed. They
started moving ahead and went to the podium. I had no weapons and no one
in the campus had weapons [so as] to preserve the sanctity of the
place=85. They threw a grenade inside [an exhibition hall]. It exploded
and they started firing on the public. Many people were injured. There
were many casualties=85. People were killed there also. One volunteer
opened all the doors to let the people out. So they threw a grenade at
the entrance part and did firing also. Maximum casualties were there=85.
The room was full of blood.
During the embargo period, the new report is available at:
http://docs.hrw.org/embargo/india0703/, using the username "gujarat2k3"
and access code "injustice2k3." After the embargo period, please see:
=46or more information, please contact:
In New York, Smita Narula: (English, Hindi/Urdu, French): + 1 917 209
6902 (c), +1 212 216 1253 (w)
In New York, Joe Saunders: +1 212 216 1216
In London, Urmi Shah: +44 207 713 2788
Letter to the Editor
30 June 2003
Sir or Madam,
The judgment in the Best Bakery case, which exonerated all those
charged with burning alive over a dozen people in Vadodara last year,
will go down in history. It will be remembered by Muslims - not just
those in India - as an instance of a supposedly rational and fair
system's failure to even recognise the wrongs done to them. In a
larger, abstract way, it will be remembered as a gross perversion of
the very notion of justice. What "justice" can be administered by a
police force itself implicated in the crime? What charges can be
pressed by a prosecution which belongs to the same "family" as the
villains named by many witnesses? Fair play has been ground into the
dust in a macabre farce. There is far worse than egg on India's face.
The Telegraph (India)
July 01, 2003
DID IT HAPPEN?
Vanishing tricks can sometimes be surreally frightening. The Gujarat
genocide is now beginning to unhappen right in front of everybody's
eyes. All the 21 people accused of burning 12 Muslims in a Vadodara
bakery, following the Godhra carnage last year, have been acquitted.
This is the first verdict in a trial court - after the Nanavati-Shah
commission hearings, which started on June 16 - on one of the most
gruesome episodes of the pogrom. The tone of the judgment was one of
casual despair. All the witnesses had turned hostile, deposing in
favour of the accused, even gushing on about the Schindlerian
goodheartedness of some of the accused who actually saved Muslims
from being raped and slaughtered. This sudden change of version was
initiated by Ms Zahira Sheikh, daughter of the bakery's owner, whose
entire family was massacred in front of her eyes, and who is now
incommunicado. The judge has made noises about dubious police
procedure and about people losing faith in the judiciary. In the
absence of "legally accepted evidence", he cannot but let these
This then is a crisis of evidence - both in the technically legal and
in the general sense of the word. What is ultimately at stake here is
not only the delivery of justice in a court of law, but also the more
fundamental question of holding on to the truth, and to the reality,
of what actually happened in Gujarat. Every form of legally
recognized evidence has been undermined here by the police, the civic
bodies and the state administration: first information and
post-mortem reports, panchnamas and police transcriptions of
witnesses' accounts. Most of these witnesses and complainants - apart
from being variously brutalized and suffering from severe trauma -
are poor, illiterate, dispossessed and powerless. They would be
hardly in a position to verify or challenge the contents of what they
put their thumb impressions to. This systematic abuse of power at
every level of a brazenly communalized law and order machinery has
not only subverted the evidentiary process, but has also fostered a
regime of fear in which truth-telling, and hence justice, are a
logical absurdity. Yet, the reality of Gujarat has been scrupulously
documented by individuals, organizations, fact-finding panels and a
number of bodies concerned with the abuse of secular values, civil
liberties and human rights. Reports, photographs, video footage,
recorded testimonies and every other form of documentary evidence
exist to "prove" that Gujarat did happen, and continues to happen, in
the lives and memories of actual human beings. It is a brutal comment
on the powerlessness of the judiciary and of civil society in India
that such a body of evidence means absolutely nothing in an Indian
court of law.
A letter to the editor
We unwittingly get impression from those who favour sending Indian
troops to Iraq that this operation is simple and innocent like
sending some construction workers there. It is often dubbed as 'peace
keeping'. It seeks to hide the motive of 'stabilising the illegal and
immoral occupation by US' done with great force and without the
sanction of UN. That the Indian troops will not be involved in combat
operations is another wild dream that cannot be fulfilled given the
increasing hostility of local Iraqis towards US / British forces. As
the days pass, this hostility is likely to take the form of organised
guerilla warfare. Hence, it is inevitable that the Indian soldiers
will come under the fire of Iraqis whom the US british forces are
mentioning as 'terrorists' -which is laughable given the fight they
are waging against the imperial design of US and Britain.
We understand that there was immense goodwill towards India among
Iraqis which was evident even to the Indians trapped in the 1991 war.
US forces want to utilise this goodwill for their 'stabilisation' .
All this will disappear with our soldiers fighting on behalf of
occupation forces. This is a sure recipe for greater hostility from
all countries particularly Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq and
generally from all Islamic countries. It will be a foreign policy
disaster. The role of India in the days of Nehru was that of champion
of non-alignment and that of supporter of freedom movements all over
the world. If we abandon these roles in favour of imperial powers, we
can expect only hatred from people of many third world countries.
If we are to take this position, we will have to throw all our
patriots like Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and many others -who fought for
our motherland - in dustbin of history. We will have to stop
eulogising them for their patriotism in our textbooks and songs.
The patriotism of Iraqi fighters to save their motherland from
invaders is no less important.
B-302, Amish, Laxman Mhatre Road, Navagaon, Dahisar West, Mumbai
400068. Tel. no. 28953612.
The Nation (Pakistan)
June 29, 2003
Mubashir against Pak troops in Iraq
By our staff reporter
Lahore -- PPP (SB) Punjab President and peace activist Dr Mubashir
Hasan on Saturday opposed Pakistan's reported intention to send
troops in Iraq contending that the U. S. occupation of the oil-rich
country is illegal and violative of the UN charter.
Talking to The Nation, he said Pakistan must not send its troops to
Iraq as it does not have the approval of the UN Security Council. He
said that the invasion of Iraq was in direct violation of the
sovereignty of an independent nation.
"The US cannot prove that Iraq was any threat to the US or Britain.
The invasion is pure aggression of a bully superpower against a small
nation", he believed.
Dr Mubashir termed the invasion of Iraq as 'predatory'. He said the
US wants to implement the law of the jungle where "big animals eat
smaller ones". Pakistan cannot be a party to help the big predator,
he maintained. The people of Pakistan, he said, are against sending
of our troops to Iraq. If referendum is held on this question, he
believed, the government may hardly get one percent votes.
By sending troops, Pakistan will set a wrong precedent which, he said
may create problems for Pakistan in future. Pakistan was right in not
sending its troops to Afghanistan to help the US despite the whole
world being against Taliban. How can we declare it right to send
troops to Iraq while three out of five veto powers had opposed any
aggression against Iraq.
How will Islamabad feel if US takes action against Pakistan for
eradication of its nuclear weapons and India, Afghanistan, and Iran
agree to land their troops on Pakistani soil to help the Americans.
They can say "you sent your troops to Iraq, why cannot we come to
deprive you of your nuclear weapons in Pakistan, he argued.
Unfortunately, if we agree to send troops, he said, Pakistan will be
completely isolated in South and Southwest Asia. The long term
effects of sending Pakistani troops into Iraq would be highly
damaging, he warned. The move will certainly not endear Pakistan army
to the people of Pakistan. The decision can affect Pakistan in terms
of the politics of the region.
A day has to come, the peace activist said, when there will be a
second superpower in the world and at that time Pakistan will be
condemned as a lackey of the US and will stand isolated and
excommunicated from the polity of a small nations of the world. It is
incumbent upon the government to revise the decision, if one has been
taken to join the US or any other coalition troops in Iraq.
The Hindu (India), July 01, 2003
Misleading the people
By Prakash Karat
The Vajpayee Government has been secretly negotiating with the Bush
administration and misleading the people... Participation of Indian
troops in the subjugation and re-colonisation of Iraq will spell the
end of an independent foreign policy.
SACW is an informal, independent & non-profit citizens wire service run by
South Asia Citizens Web (www.mnet.fr/aiindex).
The complete SACW archive is available at: http://sacw.insaf.net
DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed in materials carried in the posts do not
necessarily reflect the views of SACW compilers.