Shandoor belongs to Gilgit-Baltistan.

Historically, geographically, culturally, ethnically, attitudinally, apparent looks and accent, socially and from every other aspect Chitral, including Shandur, has been a core part of Gilgit – Baltistan.

If an independent survey is conducted in Chitral and the people are given the choice to opt for either PKP or GB, they would be happily willing to rejoin their families in Gilgit – Baltistan.

No one can snatch our lands, as No One Ever Did in the Past. We will not give away an inch of our land to any one. Insha-Allah, now the outlanders would see the unity and the love of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan.

These are our Lands, we will it again. InshaAllah.

These are our Lands, we will it again. InshaAllah.




A graceful lady changes the face of Gilgit-Baltistan.

The Terrorland Report

Sadia Danish is the new face of Gilgit-Baltistan – The

Ms Sadia Danish, a new hope for the oppressed female population of G-B.

Orphaned Land of Pakistan. She is the Tourism, Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs Adviser to the unconstitutionally elected Chief Minister.

She is also President of the women-wing of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in the region, which has no constitutional rights and no representation in the Pakistani Parliament since 1947.

Yes! Gilgit-Baltistan is really the Orphaned Land of Pakistan!

But, now, it seems that the Orphaned region has got a graceful mother out of the blue! That is what the youth of the region thinks today as the Cyber Generation is fed-up with their uneducated and uncivilized traditional leaders who are actually agents of the secret agencies… the real rulers in the region.

Sadia is young, educated and charismatic. She is changing the image of the region rapidly, and the helpless people of the mountainous region are happy to find a leader-in-the-making! The frustrated people see a ray of hope at the end of the tunnel that after 64 years of independence, finally they may get all constitutional rights and their voice may reach other regions of Pakistan.

Ms Danish is said to be a brave lady. She married a man from a different sect and faced criticism from her community and relatives. Unfortunately, her husband, a political activist, was assassinated. A friend of Sadia’s husband writes about him on the Facebook:

“I knew this man personally, he was a man of courage, zeal and ambitions. we had a very good time a few months before his dreadful assassination. he was a promising leader for this long ignored nation. i often miss him when I look around for a courageous leader in the region. may God bless him thereafter with His utmost kindness. Ameen.”

The murder of her husband was a great tragedy for Ms Danish and her young children. But this iron-lady decided to fight back against biases, hatred and crimes in a democratic way so that there is peace and prosperity in the terrorized region especially the capital city, Gilgit.

Thus she joined practical politics and now the over 2 million people of Gilgit-Baltistan consider her the Cyber Generation leader. Men, women, youth and children everyone is fascinated by this graceful lady. Locals say that when she speaks, uncontrollable crowds become dumb silent!

“Besides the Sunnis, Shias, Ismailis and Noorbakhshias, Ahmedis and Christians also consider a friendly Sadia as a leader of their own, rather a family member,” says an educationist from the region.

Shina, Balti, Burushaski, Wakhi, Khowar, Domaki, Punjabi, Pashtu, Kashmiri and other ethnic groups settled in the region say that a new era of pluralism has started in Gilgit-Baltistan. “It’s according to the demands of the new globalized age!”

Besides her personal leadership qualities, Sadia comes from a very learned family-background of Gilgit. Her father Amin Zia is known as Shakespeare of Shina, one of the main local languages. He is author of many books. So are many other family members.

Therefore, instead of wearing a veil and hesitating to talk to men, Sadia gracefully dresses and leads crowds of men in the society, considered male-dominated, conservative and tribal in nature. This is a great change. “But her confidence should be transferred to every girl from the region,” says a girl student.

Recently, during a polo tournament in a far-flung village of the region, for the first time, women were reportedly allowed to see the matches. However, when a photograph of the event was posted on the internet, it had been blurred so that no participant becomes victim of domestic violence.

A comment on the photo said: “Never had seen this before, great step towards women-empowerment… yes women are also human beings, they also need entertainment.”

“When Sadia Danish walks,” says a political analyst while talking about the changed behavior of men in Gilgit-Baltistan, “men silently and respectfully follow her. This has increased her confidence immensely. She has got the status of a rock-star.

“Despite being compared with Benazir Bhutto (BB), some people call her Margaret Thatcher (former British Prime Minister) and the only Man in the current regional cabinet. However, she herself may like to compare herself with the modern-day Jawari (a legendary woman who ruled Gilgit-Baltistan centuries ago).”

Sadia is said to be an avid user of the internet. Her favorite quotations on her Facebook page reads: “I am convinced that dealing intelligently with the press is of the greatest importance to the success and effectiveness of a humanitarian mission–Alvin Adams.”

Another quotation reads: “The Aim of an Argument … should not be victory, but progress–Joseph Joubert”

She considers herself a “social worker” and her status says: “Social worker busy working to provide basic health care, educational facilities and safe guarding women’s rights in Gilgit-Baltistan. Popularizing BB’s visions among people in general and women in particular.

“Sectarian harmony in GB is atop my priorities and working to my best level to create a conducive socio-politico environment based on re-conciliatory terms. Represent womenfolk of Gilgit-Baltistan on national and international forums and seminars.”

That is why she has been declared a “Ray of Hope” and people believe that she will turn the dreams of the people in reality one day. However, local journalists say that until there are many Sadia Danish-like women in every village and city of the region, development will just remain a dream of the educated lot! “From Khaplu to Ishkoman, and Gojal to Chilas, Sadia Danish should develop a network of young women and men so that the change in the region is real not cosmetic.”

Some people, who have seen all weathers in the region, say that the military establishment is not ready to give Gilgit-Baltistan a Constitutional status as they still consider the region a part of Kashmir. “Johar Ali was an Aligarh-educated national-level leader,” says a retired bureaucrat, “but the secret agencies accused him of incest and there were overnight wall-chalking all over the city (Gilgit) as a result he couldn’t make the region a province despite promises from Z.A. Bhutto. Another promising leader was Saif-ur-Rehman but he was killed in cold-blood.”

A retired officer of the Pakistan Army says that the secret agencies want leaders of their choice from all sides including the Sunnis, Shias, Ismailis and Norbakhsis. “Their bosses use these so-called leaders to create sectarian rift as a part of their divide-and-rule strategy. This is what is happening for the last 64 years.”


Bahraini nurse’s union leader calls for solidarity..

StumbleUpon Rula al Saffar by Judith Orr & Dominic Kavakeb

Rula al Saffar is the president of the nursing union in Bahrain, assistant professor at the college of health science and head of the emergency nursing programme.

She has just been sentenced to 15 years in prison – one of 20 medical workers, including doctors, nurses and paramedics, jailed this week in a military trial.

Their crime? Treating the injured during the demonstrations in February this year, which saw the Pearl Roundabout in the centre of Bahrain’s capital Manama occupied by protesters calling for democracy.

Rula spoke to Socialist Worker as she awaits the result of her appeal – and made a call for solidarity from health workers. “We are all professionals, health workers and medics who helped people in a crisis,” she said.

“I believe we are being punished because we are witnesses to what happened here on 17 February. That was the day they started using live ammunition on people.”

The medical workers all worked in Manama’s Salmaniya Medical Complex, where injured protesters were taken after security forces savagely attacked pro-democracy demonstrations.

“We worked for days as volunteers, without sleep, in the hospital to treat the injured,” she continued. “They came in suffocating from tear gas, their backs filled with pellets because they had been trying to run away.

“My job is to treat. People came to the hospital because they saw it as a safe haven. We all thought that it was safe under the terms of the Geneva convention.” But after suppressing the demonstrations, the government launched a campaign of persecution against the medical professionals inside Salmaniya.

The charges against the medics are a strange mix of accusations. The government is arguing that the medics tried to turn the hospital into a site of protest and wanted to bring down the state. They also stand accused of fabricating injuries against protesters.

“The court accused me of organising a coup d’etat,” said Rula. “They say I took blood from the blood bank to the demonstration at Pearl Roundabout and smeared it on protestors to make it look like they had been injured. “If I’d wanted to do that I could have used tomato sauce or dye.”

Since the protests began around 40 people have been killed and thousands injured. No exaggeration of the truth is necessary in a country where repression is routine. 47 medics were arrested in total and detained without trial for several months. Many say they were tortured during this time – including Rula. “For the first week I was held in isolation in a freezing dark cell,” she said.

“Throughout the five months I was tortured and sexually harassed. “I was not read my rights. I did not see a lawyer. I was made to sign a confession blindfolded. “I saw my family for the first time after three months. But it was only three minutes a week.”

Rula was the first from the hospital to be arrested in March – and the last to be released five months later. Following a hunger strike the medics were released on 8 September, to huge jubilation. It was not known that for many it would be a last chance to say goodbye to their families before being jailed again.

All those accused strongly deny the accusations – and many international organisations have been quick to defend their work. Richard Sollom, deputy director of Physicians for Human Rights, described the treatment of the Salmaniya workers as “the worst violation of medical neutrality he’s seen in 20 years”.

Rula is calling for solidarity from across the world. “My job is to treat,” she said. “If it happens again I will do it again. Never forget your oath or your ethics. We did not forget. “I am begging and appealing to health workers and medics everywhere for help.

I don’t want to spend another day in prison. “Please write and appeal against what has happened to us. If it was them, I would stand up. Let them protest all over the world.”

Send messages of support to For the full interview see this week’s Socialist Worker


Secular or Islamist?

By Niaz Murtaza

THE controversy about Jinnah’s vision for Pakistan rages on. Did Jinnah want a secular or a Sharia state? The two sides buttress their arguments by quoting his words selectively.

Liberals quote his Aug 11, 1947 speech which says, “You may belong to any religion or caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the state”.

Furthermore, his broadcast to the Americans in 1948 said, “Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state — to be ruled by priests with a divine mission”. However, the same speech also stated, “I do not know what the ultimate shape of this constitution is going to be, but I am sure that it will be of a democratic type, embodying the essential principles of Islam”.

Another speech says, “There are people who want to create mischief and make the propaganda that we will scrap the Sharia law. Islamic principles have no parallel”. What should one surmise from these seemingly contradictory speeches? I am a proud liberal secularist. However, being one means analysing reality objectively. In doing so, I find more in his speeches to warm a conservative heart than to delight a liberal mind, though the scales are not decisively tilted towards conservatism.

Nowhere in his speeches is there a clear statement saying ‘I want a secular Pakistan’. The Aug 11 speech promises religious freedom. It does not define the state’s ideological moorings. The American speech discounts a theocratic, priest-run state but not one with an official religion run by commoners. Thus, it is a stretch of liberal imagination to claim that he bequeathed an unambiguous secular legacy.

However, neither is the Sharia option crystal clear within Jinnah’s speeches. His speeches certainly present essential Islamic principles as an inspiration but nowhere does he specifically speak of amputating limbs or discounting women’s testimony at the hefty rate of 50 per cent. Moreover, as psychologists confirm, actions reflect one’s intentions better than words.

What do Jinnah’s actions as governor general reflect?

True, he had just a year at his disposal. However, while secular constitution-making is a tortuously long process, Sharia-inspired constitutionalism should not be so, for as Sharia supporters maintain, it is all there, fully understood and agreed upon universally by Muslims, waiting to be applied. Moreover, he could have banned liquor and night clubs, and enforced the veil, compulsory prayers and flogging by the mere stroke of an administrative pen, as the Taliban did. Thus, it is a stretch of conservative imagination to claim that he bequeathed an unambiguous Sharia legacy.

His true intentions seem to lie in between — to base the constitution on essential Islamic principles, e.g., justice, but to have the details decided democratically in line with the present requirements. This last point raises the important issue of whether it is even worthwhile trying to read Jinnah’s mind, for he was the founder of Pakistan, not its owner or a prophet. Sixty-three years after his death, the primary basis for fixing the nation’s ideological moorings should be the democratic will of the people rather than expeditions into the depths of the founder’s mind.

What does the collective Pakistani wisdom desire? In surveys, Pakistanis favour Sharia; in elections they reject the religious parties promising it. However, this choice is not an endorsement of secularism (which means separation of state and religion and not agnosticism), for a secular Pakistani party can fare worse than religious parties. Hence, ironically, Pakistani democratic choices reflect Jinnah’s position (confirming his genius as a politician in touch with the people’s mood despite his cerebral demeanour): a constitution with Islam as the state religion but not one based on detailed Sharia laws.

Thus, most Pakistanis may believe in an Islamic interpretation that mandates certain timeless essential principles but gives people the flexibility to craft details according to changing circumstances utilising the powers delegated to them as vice-regents rather than one that demands puzzling clerical obedience from the meticulously and proudly created lone intelligent species. Pakistanis recognise the disagreements which will surface in applying detailed laws from a distant era at the hands of the fallible mortals that even the best of us are and in the absence of the towering figures from that era.

These less than secular inclinations will still depress secular souls. However, liberalism mandates democracy along with its messy politics. Politics is the art of recognising the possible, the chore of building large coalitions and the will of compromising on non-essentials. Is having a state religion an unacceptable deviation from liberalism?

Inquiry reveals that several liberal states, even Sweden and Norway, have state religions or churches. Religious beliefs even affect specific laws infrequently among them, e.g. the abortion restrictions in Ireland, instigating counter-movements. Thus, the focus must be on specific laws rather than aspirational preambles. This may help build much larger coalitions than the secular platform, whose mere mention unfortunately repels moderate Pakistanis, in some cases towards extremism.

Clearly, that goal should remain a long-term aspiration. However, the practical calculus of coalition-building reveals that a secular Pakistan is a more distant dream than a Sharia-run one presently. But the achievement of more immediate and important goalposts may expand the menu of possibilities subsequently.

With respect to specific laws, Pakistan’s situation has been neither perfect nor horrific. Democratic mechanisms have thwarted several misguided legislative attempts. The Senate rejected Nawaz Sharif’s ‘khilafat movement’, courts scuttled the Hasba law and assemblies defanged the dictator-era Hudood laws. These successes should serve as inspiration for developing large coalitions around other issues, with incrementalism as the guiding principle.

Viewed so, Jinnah’s seeming contradictions become less puzzling — the nuanced speeches to different audiences and his transformation from the lawyer who left a dinner party because even the British criticised his wife’s dress to the Quaid-i-Azam who is said to have disowned his daughter for marrying her mother’s co-religionist. As another latter-day, mercurially brilliant Pakistani politician reminded us, foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.

The writer works as a research associate on political economy issues at the University of California, Berkeley.

Secularism, ‘Patriotism’ and Marvi Sirmed by Abu-Bak’r Agha.

September 18, 2011

Marvi Sirmed was called anti-Pakistani, anti-Islamic, a Zionist, indecent, and pro-Indian because she was wearing a saari

Surfing along my Facebook newsfeed like any other day, today I came across a link a contact of mine had shared. It was titled, “Marvi Sirmed exposed again”. I watched the 10 minute video clip of Miss Sirmed on a current affairs show, making what I thought was perfect sense. The other guests on the show disagreed strongly with what she had to say, but could only support their argument by calling her anti-Islamic.

Posted under the link were a flood of comments written in very bad taste against Marvi. Besides those that were too profane to mention, she was called anti-Pakistani, anti-Islamic, a Zionist and indecent and pro-Indian because she was wearing a saari – all from that video. This was not the first time I had come across something like this. I had seen the infamous Shahidnama episode she was on with Zaid Hamid and a few other shows, but this time it was on a forum that I could be part of. I put on my internet activism boots and commented away in her defense.

I was baffled by some of the responses I received.

All the people on the thread were convinced that just because Marvi Sirmed did not believe that Pakistan was meant to be a theocracy, and that she was against the two nation theory in that capacity, she was anti-Pakistani. She was a Zionist because she believed in rights for homosexuals, and she was anti-Islamic for saying Muslims should allow nude picture ceremonies.

I thought Marvi spoke boldly and truthfully. She spoke of the artistic aspects of nude paintings and the intellectual growth they produce; she spoke against the violence inside an art gallery against an innocent woman; she spoke about how religion should be kept at an individual level because everyone has their own interpretation of it, and how it should not be used to govern a country where there are people of different faiths.

She did not deserve the ridiculous descent that was directed at her. However, this angry, emotional hatred teaches us an important lesson about present day Pakistan.

A very large part of our society shares a particular opinion considering history, religion, culture and nationalism with a slightly radical element. They cannot endure anyone who would dare to disagree with them. Common views include:

“Pakistan was made in the name of Islam and for Islam”

“Islam is the greatest religion and Islamic laws should be used for people of all religions”

“anyone who disagrees is a non-believer and hence inferior to us and could be harmed lawfully”

In matters like these, people become judge, jury and executioner. They seek justification for their acts through a moulded version of their religion.

The narrow-minded, uncompromising nature of society can also be studied on a micro-level by analyzing its blind trust in some self-proclaimed heroes. Even after being exposed numerous times, people give their unconditional support to Dr. Aamir Liaqat just because of his pro-Islamic accepted profile. No matter what Zaid Hamid says on air to anyone, how factually incorrect his history may be or how far-fetched his conspiracy theories may be, he will always be loved because of his patriotism.

Speaking of patriotism, is secularism the answer to Pakistan’s woes?

The debate about whether secularism would make Pakistan more progressive or tolerant has been rekindled recently. It has been intriguing to read different opinions on the matter, but still the argument doesn’t remain quite settled.

First of all, it has to be admitted that secularism is a tried and tested philosophy that has been extremely successful wherever implemented. But that does not mean being a theocracy spells out inevitable failure.

Pakistan unfortunately, as I see it, is neither here nor there. Jinnah clearly stated that he did not want Pakistan to be theocratic, and was a man who did not believe in religion intervening with state affairs, the inspiration and idea of Pakistan though, came from Muhammad Iqbal who believed in the Islamic role in politics and legal philosophy, and today Pakistan is officially an Islamic state, but is still mostly governed by secular laws. Sixty four years independent now, it is no wonder we struggle to agree on Pakistan’s identity.

Secularism guarantees you freedom of religion, but so does Islamic law. Yet today in Pakistan, Hindus cannot get married legally, innocent Christians are killed after being wrongly accused of blasphemy, Jews are unconditionally hated and Ahmadis are murdered and also declared non-Muslim. This shows that the problem does not lie in the philosophy you chose to govern the country, but in the society.

Secularism will not save Pakistan, because it will not make any difference. There is no pure culture, religion or form of politics that denies human rights or freedom of religion to members of the state – only personal, self-made forms and interpretations of the aforementioned have done that.

That’s why in my opinion to save Pakistan we need to nurture its people. We need to educate them on matters of sociology, philosophy and critical reasoning in ideas from the east and the west. We need to educate people on basic human rights and stop the enforcements of a particular brand of religion on them. Religion should be a personal matter and learned by study and examination rather than force, and no one should be able to call anyone a non-believer of any faith because they think their own faith, or version, of it is superior.

The lack of education is Pakistan is staggering, and even where there is education, the quality must be improved. Illiteracy and also injustice both drive people towards crime and extremism. Unfortunately, some of these acts are justified wrongly by the use of religion, hence tarnishing its name and calling for cries of secularism. If the idea of secularism is mentioned presently and to such a society, unprecedented violent reaction may occur; an example is the murder of Salmaan Taseer, the general reaction of the public and then the subsequent praise for the murderer.

With all this being said, I must confess that personally, I do favour a secular Pakistan, just not now. Even though Pakistan was created for the freedom of the Muslims of India, there are non-Muslims living in Pakistan. If you guarantee equal rights to all citizens of your country, you must make it legal for any citizen to run for president or prime-minister, which is not the case.

Religious minorities cannot show patriotism if you ask them to chant slogans like “Pakistan ka matlab kya, La Ilaha Illallah”, especially if Pakistan translates to ‘Land of The Pure’. But most importantly, to me it does not seem like a safe option to govern the state using religion. Everyone has a different interpretation of Islam today, which hides its true essence, and values. The religion is used wrongly and is being used to hurt itself in the process.

A country cannot progress in this system unless the true spirit of religion is brought forward, which I do not see happening. In its perfect form, I wholeheartedly believe Islam governs peacefully and justly in every capacity. The charter of Medina is a fantastic example of how two different religious populations lived in harmony. Sadly, this version of Islam is not going to be allowed to show itself in Pakistan. Rather the Islam of our heroes like Aamir Liaqat and Zaid Hamid, who we all follow so blindly, is the Islam we have come to know.

In a secular state where religion is kept away from state matters and cannot be used to curb laws and justify acts, the society will be free and justice will prevail. Pakistan will know to recognize its true champions of the oppressed, like Salman Taseer and Marvi Sirmed, and perhaps someday in secularism, Pakistan will be a better and more Islamic state then it is under the title or being ‘Islamic’ itself.


The Poem By Ayat al-Qarmezi (Bahraini Brave Girl) , which lead her to imprisonment.

Ayat al-Qarmezi: Pakistanis are with you and the people of Bahrain seeking liberty.

The Poem
By Ayat al-Qarmez

Ayat al-Qarmezi: Pakistanis are with you and the people of Bahrain seeking liberty.

[First of all I wish to send a short message to those who think they are able to dance over our pains and base them upon sectarian strife and above all to the one-eyed channel (Bahrain TV)]

We do not wish to live in a palace nor do we yearn for leadership,
We are a nation that slays humiliation and assassinates misery,
We are a nation that demolishes injustice peacefully from its foundations,
We are a nation that doesn’t want this nation to remain at a constant setback,

[I shall start reciting my poem and will prey upon an individual who is the one of the main causes of injustice in this country: Yes, it is their King Hamad!]

At the dining table of this nation’s calamities sits Satan and Hamad,
And from there this conversation takes place:

O Hamad! Fear Allah when you deal with them!
For my heart is breaking over what you are doing to them,
Despite being Satan you have made me side with them!
Do so now before I turn against you and prostrate to their Prophet!
And return to my Lord I shall for I am bewildered by their struggle.

O partner you have taught me of how discredit them,
With humiliation, insults and calamities I have learnt from you bestow upon them,
And now O Satan you have come to intercede for them?!
It seems their awareness and ability to disobey has shaken your identity!

Yes O Hamad your nation has shocked me!
And yet you do not pay any attention to what they say!
Do not pay any attention to their chants, calls and the sound of their horns.
“Down with Hamad!”
Do you not see the masses of people gathered together?
I will not be surprised if the Messiah is amongst them!
Who listens to their complains, their struggle,
Their each and every footstep,
Be careful O Hamad! For I warn you.
With all your wealth you will never be able to bribe your nation.

Hold on O dear Satan,
I have not yet finished filling my stomach with their blood,
I have not yet naturalised the rest of my family, friends and their women,
I have not yet instructed all my fellow thugs,
To become birth-giving machines where mother and father work together while my other thugs collide with them also!
I have not yet finished forcing every candle of dreams (youth) on this motherland,
To each traffic light he stands,
Begging each passerby,
“Please buy these water bottles from me”
While nobody responds to his call,
I have not yet finished torturing every turbaned man on this land,
Every youth and child,
Nor have I yet finished stamping upon the flowers of youth inside my prisons,
I have not yet finished opening a million routes to humiliation,
Nor have I yet finished putting this entire nation into a state of lamenting,
Not yet O Satan has the number of youths with martyrdom upon their chests heightened!
With no job nor occupation held
Forget them! They deserve it!

I have not yet finished paying each south-Asian on this precious land,
To hold our flag up (at pro-government rallies) shouting
in a poor Arabic accent: Long lives the father of Salman!
I have not yet finished sucking blood from flat to flat with the burden of bills,
Meanwhile the thugs have lands and houses,
But not to worry those affected don’t exceed 120 in number,
I doubt anyone will be able to hear their cries.

This entry was posted on September 17, 2011. 1 Comment