Here’s what’s happening across the border: Punjab women to flood roads on bikes for empowerment, and the ‘burglary-style’ raid activists have decried.
Manzoor Pashteen guides protesters on how to rally for Pashtuns’ rights
When the man with the red cap speaks, thousands listen. Even on social media. Manzoor Pashteen, the leader of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM, a movement for the rights of Pashtuns, which the PTM alleges is deeply persecuted in Pakistan), took to social media Sunday to request followers to protest peacefully against the arrest of the movement’s members in Lahore. Earlier, the Lahore district administration had cited security concerns to reject the application for a PTM rally at Mochi Gate.
“We have tolerated a lot… we have collected tiny pieces of flesh of our children, in bags for burial. We can’t take their cruelties anymore. We will continue to protest in Lahore. Whoever can come to Lahore, do come”, he said.
Since 8 April, the day of the grand PTM rally in Peshawar, Pashteen has emerged as the leader of the movement.
His social media message Sunday stressed the non-violent nature of the protest and guided activists on how to organise themselves. “They are arresting us, let them arrest us so that we can go to the jails and see how our innocent Pashtuns have been humiliated… those who can’t make it to Lahore, please organise yourselves and carry out protests in your own areas. But remember one thing, we will not indulge in vandalism,” he said. “We will convey our message by waving plain black and white flags.”
Punjab women to get 700 motorbikes, all for empowerment
A wave of women riding motorbikes will soon hit the roads in Punjab, Pakistan, in a bid to reclaim public spaces. In the first phase of his ‘Women-on-Wheels (WoW)’ campaign, Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, along with the transport department and Bank of Punjab, will be giving out 700 subsidised motor bikes to women before Ramazan , which starts mid-May. The women shortlisted for the first phase will then participate in a bike rally meant to express solidarity with the cause of women’s empowerment.
The motorbikes being offered are modified versions of the Honda CD-70 Dream, complete with leg guards. The original model is priced at approximately 65,800 Pakistani Rupees (INR 39,200). A customised canvas bag and a pink helmet will also be provided to the shortlisted candidates. The provincial government will pay 100 per cent of the mark-up along with a subsidy of Rs 24,975. The women shortlisted will submit a down payment and a monthly instalment of Rs 1,856 for a year.
One thousand women will receive motorbikes in the second phase of WoW, and 1,326 in the final phase.
HRCP editor’s home robbed after scathing report
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has decried the “burglary-style raid” at the residence of editor Maryam Hasan Thursday night. Two armed men broke into Hasan’s house around 8.45 pm, when she was home alone, and stole her laptop, two hard drives, two mobile phones, as well as some jewellery and cash. The burglary occurred two days after the release of HRCP’s ‘State of Human Rights’ report, edited by Hasan, which painted a scathing account of the situation in the country.
The men reportedly also sought to “intimidate” Hasan and questioned her about her profession until 10 pm, after which they left. The robbers reportedly told Hasan that they had come two days earlier as well, but returned as she was not home.
Condemning the incident, the HRCP said in a statement, “HRCP suspects that the two suave raiders were no ordinary thieves and calls on the government of Punjab to apprehend the culprits and establish their identity”. “HRCP will hold the provincial authorities responsible for any attempt by state or non-state actors to harass any persons associated with the commission,” it added.
LoC population in danger, says PoK leader:
The leader of opposition in the ‘Azad J&K’ (Pakistan-occuiped Kashmir) legislative assembly, Chaudhary Muhammad Yasin, highlighted Saturday the dangerous living conditions of people residing along the Line of Control (LoC) as he talked to a delegation of people reportedly affected by Indian shelling in Kotli. “People residing along the LoC live in miserable conditions as they cannot move out of their homes, plough their fields or even bury the dead,” Yasin was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune. He urged the local and the Pakistan government to “take practical steps for safety like constructing concrete bunkers” alongside every house at the LoC, and “setting up mobile medical units for immediate treatment”.