Thinking of Spring in Summer: Martyrs’ Day in Kashmir

by Huma Dar
July 13, 2013

for Naheed Shah-Sheikh

in conversation with the attached photograph by an anonymous photographer…

Frisking Ghosts: India Prepares for Martyrs' Day in Kashmir, July 13, 2013.  Photographer Unknown.
Frisking Ghosts: India Prepares for Martyrs’ Day in Kashmir, July 13, 2013. Photographer Unknown.


In my homeland
beloveds are planted as seeds
singly, or in mass
23, 54, 77, 131…
(each madness has its method —
each massacre its algorithm)
marked, unmarked, empty graves
or those packed like sardines
in football fields where children once played
or open meadows where people once prayed. 

In my homeland
the bodies of my martyrs
even in death
are deemed seditious,
dangerous, explosive.    Continue reading “Thinking of Spring in Summer: Martyrs’ Day in Kashmir”

Hawking Women’s Rights

Considering the amount of uninformed commentary that has been proliferating on Pakistan, readers might want to check out Tanqeed, an important new initiative started by a group of progressive Pakistani academics, writers and journalists. The trigger was a typically obtuse ‘debate’ on New York Times about the recent assassination attempt on a school-girl in Swat. In response Tanqeed (which means ‘criticism’) asked 6 Pakistani writers to present a less ideologically skewed take on the same event (and its broader context). You can find the result here. The following is my contribution:

Ten year old Nadia, whose family was incinerated in a drone strike.

For advocacy to be successful, it has to come from a place of empathy rather than superiority. Many of the most vocal advocates of women’s rights in Pakistan today are also known for their sanguine views on the “war on terror.” It is, therefore, doubtful that their new self-image as the deliverers of women from patriarchal tyranny will gain much purchase among the sufferers.

Women have doubtless borne the brunt of the dislocation and insecurity occasioned by the “war on terror.” But, to treat women’s rights in isolation from the general malaise merely serves to put the concern under a pall of suspicion. Women’s rights have been long used as a pretext for imperial aggression. Far from bringing relief, their invocation by the apologists for war merely helps obscurantist criminals, like the TTP, elevate misogyny into an anti-imperial expression.

The situation in Pakistan’s troubled northwest is no doubt ugly. From the indiscriminate violence of the Taliban, the gratuitous butchery of sectarian criminals, the bombing of girls’schools, the targeting of children, to the threats against the media, it is a predicament that is begging for a visionary political solution.

Continue reading “Hawking Women’s Rights”

Obama Administration Silencing Pakistani Drone-Strike Lawyer

by Medea Benjamin

Shahzad Akbar (left) with Karim Khan, a resident of North Waziristan whose 18-year-old son and 35-year-old brother were killed in a CIA drone strike which destroyed his family home. (Reuters)

When is the last time you heard from a civilian victim of the CIA’s secret drone strikes? Sure, most of them can’t speak because they’re deceased. But many leave behind bereaved and angry family members ready to proclaim their innocence and denounce the absence of due process, the lack of accountability, the utter impunity with which the U.S. government decides who will live and die.

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government has increasingly deployed unmanned drones in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa. While drones were initially used for surveillance, these remotely controlled aerial vehicles are now routinely used to launch missiles against human targets in countries where the United States is not at war, including Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. As many as 3,000 people, including hundreds of civilians and even American citizens, have been killed in such covert missions.

The U.S. government will not even acknowledge the existence of the covert drone program, much less account for those who are killed and maimed. And you don’t hear their stories on FOX News, or even MSNBC. The U.S. media has little interest in airing the stories of dirt poor people in faraway lands who contradict the convenient narrative that drone strikes only kill “militants.”

Continue reading “Obama Administration Silencing Pakistani Drone-Strike Lawyer”

Syria: Songs of Defiance

This is typically excellent and courageous. The journalist is supposed to be anonymous but they haven’t disguised his voice very well.

An Al Jazeera journalist who was forced to remain anonymous for security reasons offers an unusual but compelling first-person account of a country in turmoil and a revolution in progress in this intriguing episode of People and Power.

Journalists and activists killed in Homs shelling

Two foreign journalists have been killed in Homs, activists say, as shelling of a district of the Syrian city continued amid warnings of an escalating humanitarian crisis.

Omar Shakir, an activist in the city, told Al Jazeera that the deaths of Marie Colvin, a US reporter working for the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper, and French photographer Remi Ochlik occurred as a building used by activists as a media centre was shelled on Wednesday.

Counter-terrorism?

Our friend Paul Woodward of the indispensable War in Context asks some pertinent questions about the attacks on Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia:

Have we reached a quite predictable moment where counter-terrorism needs redefining? In other words, that when car bombings initiated by one state-sponsor of terrorism provoke a counter-attack of the same kind, that we should call such an attack an act of counter-terrorism?

Only last week there was confirmation from U.S. government officials that Israel is a state-sponsor of terrorism, having trained and deployed Iranian dissidents to conduct car bombings killing civilians in Iran. By internationally accepted definitions of terrorism and state-sponsored terrorism, there’s no question these were acts of terrorism and Israel’s role in instigating them makes it a state-sponsor of terrorism.

Now it would appear that Israel is reaping the reward for its own actions as Israeli diplomats have been targeted in India and Georgia. The attack in Delhi appears to have involved the use of the same method favored by Mossad — a magnetic bomb attached to the Israelis’ car by a passing motorcyclist.

Continue reading “Counter-terrorism?”