Monday, July 18, 2016

Qandeel Baloch: Leading Social Revolution in Pakistan?

Could Qandeel Baloch, also known as Pakistan's Kim Kardashian, even be imagined in conservative Pakistan just a few years ago? Doesn't the fact that she existed is in itself a sign of a social revolution sweeping Pakistan today?

Tragic honor killing of Pakistani social media phenomenon Qandeel Baloch by her own brother in the city of Multan in highly conservative Seraiki region has received global media coverage. It's being offered as yet another example to support their convenient narrative of unspeakable brutality against women in Muslim Pakistan.

Fauzia Azeem AKA Qandeel Baloch
Unanswered Questions:

What is missing from the news reports, op-ed pieces and editorials about these incidents, however, is any serious research and analysis to answer the following:

A. Why are such events happening with increasing frequency?

B. Is it because Pakistanis' sense of "honor" has suddenly become more acute?

C. Or, is it because Pakistani girls are defying old traditions in much larger numbers than ever before?

Going by Karachi-based architect and sociologist Arif Hasan's insight into Pakistani society, the answer is C. As he said in a 2015 interview with The News: "Media projects a lot of injustices against women, but they do not project the changes taking place, nor are they projecting the role models who are challenging these traditional barriers. Role models, too, are just individual cases, like Malala."

Enabling Environment:

What is the enabling environment for these social changes?

There are a number of enabling factors ranging from increasing rural-to-urban migration to greater access to education and technology and growing opportunities for communication and self-expression via the new social media like Facebook. Here are a few them:

1. Pakistani women and girls in rural areas and small towns are better educated than ever before. Since 2000, over twenty universities have been established in small towns of Pakistan where men and women from small towns and villages are enrolling and graduating.

2. Young men and women are questioning conservative traditional values with rapidly growing access to television, cell phones and social media.

3. Nearly a quarter of Pakistani females over the age of 10 now work, up from 14 percent a decade ago, according to government data. Women now hold 78 of the 342 seats in the National Assembly.  Women now make up 4.6% of board members of Pakistani companies, a tad lower than the 4.7% average in emerging Asia, but higher than 1% in South Korea, 4.1% in India and Indonesia, and 4.2% in Malaysia, according to a February 2011 report on women in the boardrooms.

4. Court marriages that were rare just a decade ago have increased dramatically. Girls and boys are defying their parents by rejecting arranged marriages.

Causes of Violence Against Women: 

Whether it was the bloody Civil War to abolish slavery in America or the Meiji Restoration that transformed feudal Japan into an industrial giant, history tells us that violent conflict has been an integral part of the process of social change.  Pakistan, too, is experiencing a similar violent social revolution. It started well before the terrorist attacks  of 911 and the subsequent US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.  It has only intensified after these events.

The "peace of the dead" has ended with the continuing "eclipse of feudalism" in Pakistan.  A significant part of  the what the world media, politicians and pundits call terrorism is in fact  an "unplanned revolution" in the words of a Pakistani sociologist, a revolution that could transform Pakistani society for the better in the long run.

 Violence is being used by the defenders of  a range of old feudal and tribal values in Pakistan. Some of the traditionalists are fighting to keep girls at home and out of schools and workplaces while others are insisting on continuing traditional arranged and sometimes forced marriages within their clans. Such violence is being met with brave defiance, particularly by the younger generation.

Sociologist Arif Hasan's Insights:

Media coverage of the attempt on Swat schoolgirl Malala Yosufzai's life by the Taliban has brought attention to what the tribal traditionalists see as a serious threat to their old feudal-tribal ways. In an October 2012 speech at a social scientists conference in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, Arif Hasan recalled what a village elder in Sindh told him about the reasons for the increase in honor killings. He said: “The young people, they’ve gone to the city, and they’ve done all the wrong things. The girls have learned how to read and write, they’ve gone to school, some of them have gone to university as well. They have no morals left, so this is bound to happen.”

When Hasan asked the village elder as to when will the honor killings stop? He replied: “The honor killings will stop when everyone becomes shameless, then it will end.” Then he added, “But I hope that I die before that day.”  Hasan says "he was a man of the old, feudal rural culture, with its own pattern of behavior and way of thinking. He was part of it, and it was dying, so he wished to die with it."

There was a news story this morning about young Pakistanis engaging in Internet dating and marriages. In 1992, the applications for court marriages in Karachi amounted to about 10 or 15, mainly applications from couples who were seeking the protection of the court for wedlock without familial consent, according to Arif Hasan. By 2006, it increased to more than 250 applications for court marriages per day in Karachi. Significantly, more than half of the couples seeking court recognition of their betrothal came from rural areas of Sindh. This is yet another indication of how the entire feudal system and its values are in rapid collapse.

Rapid urbanization , rising economic mobility  and media and telecom revolutions have been the key contributors to the process of social change in the country.   New York Times' Sabrina Tavernise described the rise of Pakistan's middle class in a story from Pakistani town of Muzaffargarh in the following words:

For years, feudal lords reigned supreme, serving as the police, the judge and the political leader. Plantations had jails, and political seats were practically owned by families.

Instead of midwifing democracy, these aristocrats obstructed it, ignoring the needs of rural Pakistanis, half of whom are still landless and desperately poor more than 60 years after Pakistan became a state.

But changes began to erode the aristocrats’ power. 
Cities sprouted, with jobs in construction and industry. Large-scale farms eclipsed old-fashioned plantations. Vast hereditary lands splintered among generations of sons, and many aristocratic families left the country for cities, living beyond their means off sales of their remaining lands. Mobile labor has also reduced dependence on aristocratic families.

In Punjab, the country’s most populous province, and its most economically advanced, the number of national lawmakers from feudal families shrank to 25 percent in 2008 from 42 percent in 1970, according to a count conducted by Mubashir Hassan, a former finance minister, and The New York Times.

“Feudals are a dying breed,” said S. Akbar Zaidi, a Karachi-based fellow with the Carnegie Foundation. “They have no power outside the walls of their castles.”

As early as 1998 when the last census was held, researcher Reza Ali  found that Pakistan was almost half urban and half rural, using a  more useful definitions of ‘urban’, and not the outdated definition  of the Census Organization which excludes the huge informal settlements in the peri-urban areas of the cities which are very often not part of the metropolitan areas.

A 2012 study of 22 nations conducted by Prof Miles Corak for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has found that upward economic mobility to be greater in Pakistan than the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, China and 5 other countries. The study's findings were presented by the author in testimony to the US Senate Finance Committee on July 6, 2012.

 Pakistan's media and telecom revolution that began during the Musharaf years is continuing unabated. In addition to financial services, the two key service sectors with explosive growth in last decade (1999-2009) in Pakistan include media and telecom, both of which have helped create jobs and empowered women. The current media revolution sweeping the nation began ten years ago when Pakistan had just one television channel, according to the UK's Prospect Magazine. Today it has over 100.  Pakistan is among the five most dynamic economies of developing Asia in terms of increased penetration of mobile phones, internet and broadband, according to the Information Economy Report,  2009 published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad). Among the five countries in terms of mobile penetration in South Asia, Pakistan is placed at number three followed by Sri Lanka and Bhutan. Iran and Maldives are ranked above Pakistan.

Here's how Arif Hasan concluded his Kathmandu speech:

 Pakistani society continues in its state of flux, and the Afghan war has escalated this. The normal evolution of society has been stopped by the militancy in Pakistan linked to the war in Afghanistan. If you remove these militants – which you won’t, by the way – then a whole new world emerges in Pakistan, a transformation in a society trying to define itself. The recent shooting of Malala Yusufzhai has shown what Pakistani society really feels and how it thinks on issues. For the first time the Pakistani establishment – the army as well as the three major political parties – have all condemned the Taliban for the shooting. The people have spoken in the huge rallies, in Karachi and elsewhere. Earlier, this never happened because people were scared of being shot, kidnapped, and having bombs thrown at them. This is the first time that there has been such a huge public outpouring.

But even as people find a voice, we do need the inculcation of new societal values. The problem is, how do you promote these values and through whom? It is too much to ask media, and academia is busy in consultancies for the donor institutions. The literature is all about the struggle between fundamentalism and liberalism, but that is not where the problem lies. The challenge is for Pakistani society to consolidate itself in the post-feudal era. The society has freed itself from the shackles of feudalism, but our values still remain very much the same. There are very big changes that are taking place – how do you support them, how do you institutionalize them, how do you give the people a voice? I leave you with these questions, rather than try and provide the answers.

 Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Silent Social Revolution in Pakistan

Arif Hasan's Website

The Eclipse of Feudalism in Pakistan

Social and Structural Transformations in Pakistan

Malala Moment: Profiles in Courage-Not!

Urbanization in Pakistan Highest in South Asia

Rising Economic Mobility in Pakistan

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan


Ahsan H. said...

I hope a social revolution for women has begun in Pakistan. For too long now, women in Pakistan --- indeed in all male-dominated societies of the world --- have been subjugated and brutalized. It's time to institutionalize gender equality in the old country, as women's empowerment has been picking up steam in the rest of the civilized world.

Too bad Qandeel Baloch wouldn't get to see the culmination of the women's empowerment struggle in Pakistan

Anonymous said...

Fact is, honor killing is on the rise in Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Fact is, honor killing is on the rise in Pakistan."

This fact is not in dispute.

But why is it? That's the question I have answered in my post.

In the past, girls did not question traditions and submitted to the authority of their family elders. Hence few honor killings happened.

Now, with better education and greater media/communication exposure, girls are defying conservative norms and asserting themselves. They are declaring independence causing the status quo forces to commit more violence to defend their old ways.

Farrah R. said...

We cannot handle internet , Pakistan is a very isolated country .Border is closed on four sides even we do not travel within the country .Sorry to say no exposure with other cultures , peoples , no tourism , no business expansion .Internet in Pakistan has become a preaching centre too every two minutes , hadith , quran , Kaaba , Masjid , qabar , aur qabar ka ahwal , welcome to internet in PK . PK media is an insult to injury .It does not educate people about social issues neither help to form a consensus .Actually there are more people in Broadcast and social media who keep repeating themselves as if we are in 1857 actually that is wrong because 1857 and 1947 were very positive , radical eras for Muslims of Indo Pak . Pakistani society is dead and stagnant because no dialogue happens , zero tolerance

Riaz Haq said...

Farrah: "Pakistan is a very isolated country ."

To the contrary, Pakistanis are now much more exposed to external influences than ever before. Pakistan's air travel market is among the fastest growing in the world. Broadband Internet access is growing at an explosive rate via rapid uptake of at least a million new 3G subscriptions every month. There are over 6 million Pakistanis living overseas, making Pakistani diaspora the 6th largest in the world. That global exposure is what is causing young people to defy traditions as Qandeel did.

Anonymous said...

We need more qandeels in Pakistan only then can mullahs be defeated.

Jasbir said...

In South Asia, Pakistan has the highest gender gap according to the World Economic Forum
Sadly, Pakistan has been unchanged since 2008 while rest of South Asia has made progress.

Riaz Haq said...

Jasbir: "In South Asia, Pakistan has the highest gender gap according to the World Economic Forum"

Well, the UN thinks otherwise.

India ranks 130 out of 155 countries in the Gender Inequality Index (GII) for 2014, way behind Bangladesh and Pakistan that rank 111 and 121 respectively, according to data in the United National Development Programme’s latest Human Development Report (HDR) 2015.
Among South Asian countries, India fares better than only Afghanistan which is at 152.

Here are a few highlights from Freakonomics series authors about Indian women:

1. If women could choose their birthplace, India might not be a wise choice of a place for any of them to be born.

2. In spite of recent economic success and euphoria about India, the people of India remain excruciatingly poor.

3. Literacy is low, and corruption is high in India.

4. Only half the Indian households have electricity, and fewer have running water.

5. Only one in 4 Indian homes has a toilet.

6. 40% of families with girls want to have more children, but families with boys do not want a baby girl.

7. It's especially unlucky to be born female, baby boy is like a 401 K retirement plan, baby girl requires a dowry fund.

8. Smile Train in Chennai did cleft repair surgery at no cost for poor children. A man was asked how many children he had. He said he had 1, a boy. It turned out that he also had 5 daughters which he did not mention.

9. Indian midwives in Tamil Nadu are paid $2.50 to kill girls with cleft deformity.

10. Girls are highly undervalued, there are 35 million fewer females than males, presumed dead, killed by midwife or parent or starved to death. Unltrasound are used mainly to find and destroy female fetuses. Ultrasound and abortion are available even in the smallest villages with no electricity or clean water.

11. If lucky enough not to be aborted, girls face inequality and cruelty at every turn because of low social status of Indian women.

12. 51% of Indian men say wife beating is justified, 54% women agree, especially when dinner is burned or they leave home without husband's permission.

13. High number of unwanted pregnancies, STDs, HIV infections happen to Indian women when 15% of the condoms fail. Indian Council of Medical Research found that 60% of Indian men's genitalia are too small to fit the condoms manufactured to international standard sizes.

14. Indian laws to protect women are widely ignored. The government has tried monetary rewards to keep baby girls and supported microfinance for women. NGO programs, smaller condoms, and other projects have had limited success.

15. People had little interest in State run TV channel due to poor reception or boring programs. But cable television has helped women, as 150 million people between 2001-2006 got cable TV which gave them exposure to wider world.

16. American economists found that the effect of TV in 2700 households empowered women to be more autonomous. Cable TV households had lower birthrates, less domestic abuse and kept daughters in schools.

Anonymous said...

Rana said...


There is a gender gap in ALL countries but relatively speaking (the gender inequality index is being revamped) Pakistan is the 10th from the bottom.

Yet that doesn't mean India doesn't have problems. It does but it is the progress and direction where the country is going.

Riaz Haq said...

Rana: "Yet that doesn't mean India doesn't have problems. It does but it is the progress and direction where the country is going. "

India has much more serous problem...that of the women's right to life. It's much more serious than female representation in paid workforce.

The land of former Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi is killing its daughters by the millions. Economically resurgent India is witnessing a rapid unfolding of a female genocide in the making across all castes and classes, including the upper caste rich and the educated. The situation is particularly alarming among upper-caste Hindus in some of the urban areas of Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, specially in parts of Punjab, where there are only 300 girls for every 1,000 boys, according to Laura Turquet, ActionAid's women's rights policy official.

Riaz Haq said...

Five young Indians die in suspected 'honour' killings

New Delhi (AFP) - Five young people in northern India are believed to have been murdered by their families or partner's relatives in suspected honour killings, in three separate incidents this week, police said Saturday.

Police arrested the father and brother of a 19-year-old Hindu woman Friday on suspicion of murdering her and her 23-year-old lover, both from the lowest Dalit caste.

The relatives allegedly strangled the couple after catching them having sex at their home in Shamli district in Uttar Pradesh state, police said.

"We have arrested the father and brother of the girl. They told us they killed them because she had brought disrepute to the family," Bhushan Verma, investigating officer in Shamli, told AFP.

"We are investigating to see if there were more relatives involved. Both were strangled to death."

It came after another Hindu couple in their 20s were Thursday found dead in nearby Saharanpur district, also in Uttar Pradesh, after their families allegedly objected to their relationship.

Police have not ruled out suicide after the couple were found hanging inside the man's house.

"It could be honour killing or suicide. We are waiting for the post mortem reports to confirm the cause of death," Pradeep Kumar Yadav, police chief of Saharanpur, told AFP.

Yadav said the couple were in a three year relationship and wanted to marry but faced resistance from both families.

Both of the deceased couples were biologically unrelated to one another.

However, in each case, the couples belonged to the same "gotra" -- or kinship group -- something considered incestuous by many Hindus despite the lack of biological links, and which can be a cause for such killings.

In a third case, police on Thursday found the body of a 16-year-old Muslim boy buried near an edible oil factory in neighbouring Muzaffarnagar district, after he earlier went missing from his home.

Police said the teenager was in a relationship with the niece of the factory's Hindu owner, adding her relatives strangled him to protect the "honour of the family".

"We have arrested the girl's brother, uncle and cousin for the murder," Deepak Kumar, police chief of Muzaffarnagar district, told AFP.

Marriages outside one's caste or religion still attract censure across India.

Honour killings -? which often see couples targeted because their families or communities disapprove of their relationship -? have been carried out for centuries in the country, especially in rural areas.

They are typically enacted by close relatives or village elders to protect what is seen as the family's reputation in a hereditary caste system.

United Nations statistics suggest 1,000 out of the 5,000 such murders that occur worldwide every year are in India.

India's Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that those found guilty of the killings should face the death penalty.

Srinivasan said...

Riaz Haq said...

#Israel tourist woman assaulted & raped in #India. Epidemic of rapes continues across #India.

The police in India arrested two men on Monday and accused them of raping an Israeli woman in the tourist town of Manali the day before.

The district police chief, Padam Chand, said the authorities were seeking four more people in the case.

A series of brutal sexual assaults in India have attracted widespread attention, especially after a young woman was gang-raped on a bus in New Delhi in 2012 and later died of her injuries. India responded by imposing stricter penalties for sexual assault.

Some of the reported assaults have been against foreign tourists, leading many female visitors to fear for their safety, particularly when traveling alone. Mr. Chand said that Manali, in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, was the scene of at least one previous rape of a tourist, an American who was assaulted in 2013.

The Israeli woman who was attacked on Sunday came to Manali from Dharamshala, the seat of the Tibetan government in exile, on her way to meet friends in the remote, mountainous Spiti Valley, the police chief said. The valley is a favorite spot for foreign tourists, especially backpackers.

The woman, 25, was looking for a taxi to take her to the town’s bus station early on Sunday morning when six men in a small Maruti hatchback abducted her, Mr. Chand said. They took her two or three miles away, he said, and two of them raped her there.

The woman reported the assault to the police at around 10 a.m. on Sunday. The police chief said the woman had bruises on her body.

“The preliminary medical examination suggests rape, and the victim is being further examined by forensic experts,” he said.

Mr. Chand described the six who were accused in the attack as young men in their early 20s who have worked as drivers and mechanics and had no prior criminal records. He said they did not rob the victim but that her passport was missing.

An official at the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi said the embassy was in touch with the victim and with the Indian authorities and added that the victim did not want the case to be publicized.

Riaz Haq said...

#India: 14-year-old killed in second double rape as epidemic of rapes continues. #Dalit @CNN

A 14-year-old girl died Sunday in another case of a lower-caste woman allegedly being raped by the same man twice in India.

The victim was kidnapped in May by the same suspect who allegedly attacked her in December of last year, according to a police report filed by her parents, a senior Delhi police official told CNN.
The suspect was reportedly out on bail while he awaited trial for his first rape of the teenager.
Rape survivor: Not enough victim protection in India
The girl belonged to the Dalit caste, Swati Maliwal, Chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women told CNN, traditionally regarded as "unclean" and the lowest of the low.
Her parents told police she had been forced to drink chemicals by her alleged attacker.

She died on Sunday after being admitted to hospital in June after falling ill. The suspect was re-arrested following her death, police said.
The case comes soon after brutal details emerged last week of another attack on a Dalit student allegedly raped by the same group of men for a second time. News of the horrific double gang-rape caused an international outcry, raised questions around why the accused were granted bail, and highlighted the vulnerability of Dalit women in India.
According to India's National Crime Records Bureau, more than four Dalit women are raped every day, with 2014 statistics saying crime against Dalits rose 19%. In many of the cases, these crimes are committed by upper caste perpetrators.
"For centuries the lower caste have been subject to oppression, and one form of suppressing their empowerment has been through violence," Sunitha Krishnan, a rape survivor, activist and mental health specialist, told CNN following the first incident.
"And to a woman or a child, the worst form of violence you can think of is sexual assault and sex crime."
Four year-old and foreigner attacked
Unfortunately, these incidents are by no means unusual, but the more sensational cases help increase visibility, according to Krishnan.
"We need to acknowledge that statistics say every 22 minutes a woman or a child gets raped in this country, and we need not only to break our silence, but to act on it," she said.
"Sex crime is not only in India. You can single out India, saying that is is the only one having this problem, but it happens everywhere. However, in a country like India, these issues are not highlighted. For every 100,000 cases, only one gets highlighted."

Riaz Haq said...

A star rises from poverty, is killed defying #Pakistan norms. #QandeelBaloch

Like most of the men in this village of mudbrick homes and wooden carts pulled by water buffalo, Muhammed Azeem cannot read or write. Like the other fathers, he raised a family of six boys and three girls on whatever he could coax out of a soil baked by the searing Punjab sun.

But in a culture where a family’s worth is tallied in the number of males it can produce and girls are second-class citizens at best, Azeem was different.

He valued his daughters as much as his sons.

He raised them to be independent young women. When one of the girls married, she refused to take her husband’s name. Another changed hers to Qandeel Baloch and became famous, shocking this conservative Islamic country with risqué dance videos that showed her in skin-tight clothing grinding against men.

Azeem didn’t care. He loved Qandeel - whose new name meant “torch” in their native language.

“I supported everything she did,” Azeem says, tears glistening on his weather-beaten face. “I liked everything she did.”


Her father’s love helped make Qandeel a role model to a generation of young Pakistani women. But it also may have planted the seeds of her destruction.

Her younger brother Muhammed Wazeem seethed. It was bad enough that he couldn’t compete with his sister for their father’s affections, and lived in a home that she paid for. But even worse was the relentless sniping from villagers. Storekeepers would show him her Facebook posts on their phones, criticizing his family for allowing her to make the videos.

He decided he had to save the family’s “honor.” Last month, he drugged Qandeel and then, as their parents slept downstairs, strangled her.

In most so-called honor killings, families close ranks around the killer. But Qandeel’s father wants his son punished.

“My son was wrong,” Azeem said. “I will not forgive him.”
t is a paradox of today’s Pakistan, a deeply religious country where 4G service and social media have arrived in even the most isolated communities, that one family could produce a wildly untraditional daughter and a son so traditional he felt compelled to kill his sister for her 21st-century ways.

Qandeel’s home village, Shah Saddaruddin, is a seven-hour drive from the capital, Islamabad, a journey through sugar-cane and mango fields, often on roads that are no more than dirt tracks. Murky streams and canals flow through a vast countryside owned by feudal landlords who keep their workers deep in debt.

Most girls are hidden away once they reach puberty, and many are married shortly afterward to a boy chosen by their parents. Occasionally, women are exchanged to pay off a debt, or to settle a dispute.

“Women here are strictly controlled,” Qandeel’s sister Munawar Azeem says. “It’s our tradition, but Qandeel was stubborn, she always wanted more, had different ideas.”

Riaz Haq said...

Fortunately, there are others who understand her murder for what it was. In recent years, Pakistan has witnessed a political revival of its feminist tradition. Decades after the Women’s Action Forum led a 1980s women’s movement against the military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq, a new generation of activists is challenging the patriarchal status quo. This includes groups such as Girls at Dhabas that have, in less than a year, initiated a countrywide conversation on women’s access to public spaces. It includes the Feminist Collective, which has taken up political fights such as public campaigns in support of domestic violence legislation. It includes the Awami Worker’s Party’s Women’s Democratic Front, organising in working class communities and taking on feudal landlords in local elections.

It is clear that for this new generation of feminists, Qandeel’s murder was a catalyst. Countless enraged denunciations were delivered on social media and on the airwaves. Protests erupted across the country and a petition demanding justice and accountability by a feminist group was signed by thousands.

Within days, the Pakistani government, not known for bold stands against patriarchal violence, announced the introduction of a long-delayed anti-honour killing bill. The bill, criticised as inadequate by activists, is unlikely to work without broader social and legal reform, but will be an important exercise in state signalling nonetheless. A perceptible shift in consciousness appears to be under way.

In his book Metapolitics, the French philosopher Alain Badiou says that all political consciousness emerges from moments when the truth of power is forced to reveal itself, “undermining the illusion of the existing order”.

Through her life and death, Qandeel laid bare the truth of patriarchal power in Pakistan. Her murderer wished to silence her audacity in death; her detractors wanted to bury her defiance in shame. Instead, she ended up teaching a lesson about the reality of Pakistani patriarchy to a generation of feminists unlikely to forget it.

Riaz Haq said...

#PMLN Senator Sardar Yaqoob Nasr: "Poor are born to serve the rich... God made people rich or poor" … via @indiatoday

"The poor of this country will never get to decide their own fate," Haidar said.
To this, Nasar remarked that if everyone were to become wealthy, there would be no one to grow wheat or to work as labourers.
"This is a system created by God and He has made some people rich and others poor and we should not interfere in this system," he said.
Haider countered that socio-economic classes were man-made and God had nothing to do with it.
Another Senator, Mohammad Usman Khan Kakar, too said that God created all people as equal and that the poor were not meant to serve the rich.
But Nasar could not be convinced and said: "Once in China all people were considered equal, which did not work out well.
"Those who cannot get an education and cannot earn more have no right to live the life of a bureaucrat," he said.

Riaz Haq said...

‘Honour killings’ in the West

Mon., June 2, 2014

Toronto Star Op Ed

Family stones woman to death outside court, May 28

Your article says that, since 2013, 869 women suffered “honour killings” in Pakistan. Compare this to the United States, where three women a day are killed by their male partners or husbands. By my count, since 2013 about 1,095 women were killed by men who think they have been dishonoured by their female partners.

Maybe the women wanted to leave the marriage, or had found a new partner, but clearly the men felt betrayed and dishonoured by their partners and killed them. The media are quick to target women murders in Muslim-dominated countries, but maybe the media should also look at the facts in the U.S. (and Canada) as well.

Judy Haiven, Department of Management Professor, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, N.S.

Riaz Haq said...

I attended Silicon Valley book launch of Pakistani-American Saqib Mausoof's "The Warehouse".

The Warehouse is set in Pakistan's federally administered tribal area (FATA) that has seen a powerful Taliban insurgency since the US invasion of Afghanistan.

The author's novel's protagonist is Cash (Syed Qais Ali), an insurance company adjustor from Karachi who ends up in Waziristan to survey damage in a warehouse fire.

During discussion at the launch event at PACC last Saturday, Sept 10, 2016, Mausoof said he saw many FATA women attending Namal University in MIanwali that was founded by PTI Chief Imran Khan.

Namal University is located close to Pakistan's tribal areas where women have traditionally not benefited from higher education.

Mausoof saw several women from FATA wearing veils using computers and developing software in information technology classes at Namal.

Fyza Parviz, originally from Peshawar but currently in SF Bay Area, confirmed that she too is seeing many veil or hijab wearing Pashtun women from KP's rural areas attending colleges and universities.

Fyza Parviz originally hails from Peshawar Pakistan and has been living in the Bay Area for 14 years. She is a Software & Electrical Engineer by profession and loves to read, write, attend events, and create literary experiences. She is also the Web Producer for the Annual Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley. She is currently developing an engaging Online Social Platform for writers and readers. Her short stories, essays, and reviews have been published in PaperCuts Magazine and LitSeen.

Here's a news story from last year's graduation ceremony that feaured Imran Khan as keynote speaker at Namal:

Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Imran Khan on Sunday attended the convocation ceremony of Namal University at Mianwali.

Imran Khan, while addressing the ceremony gathering, welcomed the Parents of the students hailing from Waziristan and also extended his congratulations to the parents whose children earned Bradford degree.

Imran Khan, in his message to the students, said that those people had never failed, who stuck to their aim, adding that unfortunately quality education in Pakistan was not accessible to poor’s segment of the society.

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - 'Honour killings': #Pakistan closes loophole allowing killers to go free. #QandeelBaloch #honorkillings

Pakistan's government has closed a loophole allowing those behind so-called honour killings to go free.
New legislation means killers will get a mandatory life sentence.
Previously, killers could be pardoned by a victim's family to avoid a jail term. Now forgiveness will only spare them the death penalty.
It is being seen as a step in the right direction in a country where attacks on women who go against conservative rules on love and marriage are common.
According to the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), nearly 1,100 women were killed by relatives in Pakistan last year in such killings, while many more cases go unreported.
The loophole allowed the perpetrators of 'honour killings' - often a relative acting on the pretext of defending family 'honour' - to avoid punishment because they can seek forgiveness for the crime from another family member.
'First step'
In recent months, a number of high-profile deaths have made headlines both in Pakistan and abroad, including the killing of British woman Samia Shahid in July, allegedly by her father and her former husband.
The same month, Pakistani social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch was strangled to death, allegedly killed by her brother in the province of Punjab.

The amended law was debated by Pakistan's National Assembly for four hours on Thursday, before being passed unanimously.
Campaigners have been calling for tougher legislation to protect women from violence for years.
A 2005 amendment to the law pertaining to 'honour killings' prevented men who kill female relatives pardoning themselves as an 'heir' of the victim.
Pakistani activist and filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid - who won an Oscar earlier this year for a documentary on 'honour killings' - paid tribute to the people who had worked to get the bill through.
"It may not change much over night but it is certainly a step in the right direction," she said in a Facebook post. "And today I am proud that we have gone the distance on this bill."
Others were more cautious, raising concerns over the fact the bill still allows a judge to decide whether a murder qualifies as an 'honour killing' or not.