Here’s what’s happening across the border: Pakistan-origin author wins coveted Women’s Prize for Fiction, while military cracks down in north Waziristan.
Bloody images of assaulted scribe shake Pak media after Gul abduction
Close on the heels of the alleged abduction of scribe Gul Bukhari in Lahore, the media in Pakistan finds itself shaken by a gruesome assault on broadcast journalist Asad Kharal by unidentified men early Wednesday.
Soon after Kharal was reportedly assaulted by unidentified men in Lahore in the wee hours of Wednesday, images emerged on social media showing Kharal in hospital in blood-stained clothing, with a wound on his head soaking his collar entirely.
— Hamid Mir (@HamidMirPAK) June 6, 2018
Several journalists as well as politicians took to Twitter to condemn the attack, which came days after the Pakistan military spokesperson accused some senior journalists of peddling “anti-state” propaganda.
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) issued a statement Wednesday, condemning the statement of Inter-Services Public Relations director general Asif Ghafoor.
Major General Ghafoor, while addressing a press conference Monday, questioned the use of social media to “propagate certain message against Pakistan and its institutions” and singled out certain journalists who he said “retweeted anti-Pakistan slogans”, reported The Express Tribune.
“They’re using their own handles to retweet, praise and spread anti-state propaganda,” Dawn quoted him saying.
The PFUJ said Ghafoor’s statement had “jeopardised the lives of concern journalists (sic).
Abducted scribe requests privacy
Pakistani journalist Gul Bukhari, who was briefly abducted by unknown men in Lahore Tuesday evening, posted a statement on Twitter Wednesday, saying that she was well and requesting privacy.
I would like to express my deep gratitude and love to my friends, family, colleagues & supporters in civil society, journalism and politics across the board, for coming together in solidarity out of concern for my well being last night.
— غدار (@gulbukhari) June 6, 2018
Gul Bukhari’s abduction led to outrage among journalists, activists as well as political leaders across the spectrum.
Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari condemned the incident and asked for a thorough investigation.
The abduction of Gul Bukhari & assault of Assad Kharral are unacceptable attacks on freedom of expression. These attacks must be investigated and those responsible held accountable. Censored Democracy na manzoor.
— BilawalBhuttoZardari (@BBhuttoZardari) June 6, 2018
British parliamentarian Mark Field also expressed concern on the abduction of the columnist, who holds dual British-Pakistani citizenship, and said he was relieved to know Bukhari was safe, reported The Express Tribune.
Deeply concerned by reports of the abduction of British-Pakistani journalist Gul Bukhari in Lahore, Pakistan, last night. Relieved that she has now been released. The UK strongly supports freedom of expression which is a cornerstone of democracy
— Mark Field MP (@MarkFieldUK) June 6, 2018
Pakistan-origin author wins coveted Women’s Prize for Fiction
Pakistani-origin British author Kamila Shamsie has won the 2018 Women’s Prize for Fiction for her seventh novel Home Fire, Geo TV reported. This was her third nomination for the honour, earlier won by the likes of Chimamanda Adichie and Zadie Smith.
Home Fire revolves around three orphaned siblings, one of whom goes on to join the media arm of the Islamic State terror group.
Karachi-born Shamsie, 44, who was among six finalists, including American writer Jesmyn Ward, received the award in London.
The prize, which seeks to recognise fiction’s best women from across the world, was instituted in 1996 and comes with a cash prize of £30,000.
According to The Guardian, the chair of the panel of judges, British journalist Sarah Sands, said they “chose the book which we felt spoke for our times… Home Fire is about identity, conflicting loyalties, love and politics. And it sustains mastery of its themes and its form. It is a remarkable book which we passionately recommend”.
Home Fire was also nominated for the 2017 Man Booker Prize and Costa Novel award.
Hasan Askari named Punjab’s caretaker CM
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Thursday named professor Hasan Askari the caretaker chief minister of Punjab, reported Dawn. Askari is a political scientist and analyst with international thinktanks who is known for his work in comparative politics, nuclear weapons, and Pakistan’s domestic policy.
The ECP will also decide the caretaker chief minister for Balochistan by Friday. The process was handed to the ECP after the parliamentary committee failed to reach a consensus on the proposed candidates at a meeting Wednesday, reported Geo TV.
Military crackdown in north Waziristan
The Pakistan military is reportedly cracking down on a sit-in organised by the youths of Mir Ali, Waziristan, Wednesday night against an alleged wave of targeted killings in the district.
It was also reported that the army surrounded the area and arrested people participating in the sit-in, with some participants “sustaining injuries”.
The Pakistan military’s increasing crackdowns on political movements, news media and social networks on threshold of its second transition to a democratically elected government have been heavily criticised by citizens as well as global media.
“It is all adding up: journalists abducted or threatened, major news outlets blocked, sympathetic views towards the civilian governing party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, censored or punished,” The New York Times reported.
Jemima warns Imran Khan’s ex Reham against publishing memoirs in the UK
British activist Jemima Khan, Imran Khan’s first wife, has threatened to sue journalist another of his former wives, Reham Khan, if her ‘tell-all’ autobiography is published in the UK, reported The Nation. In a tweet, she called the book “too libelous”.
In her book, Reham is alleged to talk about Jemima and Imran’s relationship and their private life.
Former PMs Sharif and Abbasi to be probed for graft
The National Accountability Bureau, the country’s top accountability watchdog, Wednesday ordered a probe against former Pakistan prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi over their alleged “misuse of authority” in handing out a contract for an LNG terminal, reported The Express Tribune. Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif, Nawaz’s brother, is also being investigated in the case.
The PML-N, whose tenure ended 31 May, stopped the construction of the LNG terminal when it cancelled the bidding process a week before handing out the sites, the report added. The government stopped the Port Qasim Authority (PQA) from going ahead with the bidding in what is being seen as an opportunity to give a monopoly to the Engro Elengy Terminal Limited in the private sector.
Pakistan’s SC admits petition seeking implementation of landmark judgment on minorities’ rights
Pakistan Chief Justice Saqib Nisar accepted a petition that seeks the implementation of a landmark judgment to protect religious minorities issued by a bench of the apex court in June 2014, reported Daily Times. The petition was moved by three human rights organisations — Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Centre for Social Justice, and The Cecil and Iris Foundation
Four years ago, the Supreme Court had instructed the provincial and federal governments to follow seven specific directives for the protection of religious minorities, said to face deep persecution in the Islamic republic. The authorities were asked to constitute a task force for developing a strategy of religious tolerance and establish a national council for minorities’ rights.
A bench of the Supreme Court will start to hear the petition in June.
Compiled by Priyamvada