Sunday October 22, 2017
Home India New India awa...

New India awaits Geeta

0
38

By Sapan Kapoor

The Indian deaf-mute girl Geeta, stuck in Pakistan for 13 long years, finally returned to India on Monday accompanied by members of the social welfare organization Edhi Foundation, who had been generously looking after her since 2003, so that she could be reunited with her loved ones.

Geeta – whose heart-rending story bears an uncanny resemblance to that of a character named ‘Munni’ in the Bollywood blockbuster Bajrangi Bhaijaan – was unable to return home, for she could not remember or explain where she was actually from.

The Indian government said that members of Edhi Foundation would be treated as guests and were welcome to stay in the country as long as Geeta’s family was identified. In fact, as soon as the plane carrying her landed at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport, she was at once mobbed by an army of reporters and rubberneckers with news channels covering her every movement live.

As I write this piece, a meeting between Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Geeta is underway. She is expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi later today besides being hosted by Pakistani High Commission in the national capital. Needless to say, the girl must be overwhelmed with all the attention she is receiving from one and all.

While leaving for India from Karachi, in a bid to express her gratitude to the people of Pakistan, Geeta used the sign language to say she felt blessed to be in that country, as translated by her instructor Ishrat Shaheen.

“She will never forget how much love and respect Pakistan has given her.”

That’s the challenge. After the Indian foreign ministry under the leadership of Sushma Swaraj pulled out all the stops to facilitate her homecoming, we must now ensure that she is meted out with a far better treatment than she got in the Islamic Republic.

Geeta’s anxiety to return to her country as soon as possible was understandable considering the prevailing atmosphere of intolerance and violence in Pakistan, even though the Edhis treated her just like their sister and daughter.

However, in India once all the hype around her around is over and media shifts its attention to some other pressing issue, Geeta would find ample time to observe the current state of affairs in the country.

She would discover an India that is somewhat different from what she must have expected it to be. An India where a 50-year-old man is lynched for merely eating beef, where two Dalit children are burnt alive by members of an upper caste community, where rationalists are killed for their ideas, where people are murdered over beef rumours, where people are attacked with black paint for helping in the launch of a book and where freedom of speech and expression is apparently under threat.

Geeta would soon learn that her country is walking on the same path trodden by Pakistan where she spent years under the guardianship of Edhi family. She would realize that if Shahzad Masih (26) and his five-month-pregnant wife Shama Bibi (24), a Christian couple, are burnt alive following an announcement from a Mosque loud-speaker accusing them of committing blasphemy in Pakistan’s Kot Radha Kishan, Mohammed Akhlaq is beaten to death after an announcement from a temple loudspeaker accusing him of slaughtering a cow in India’s Dadri.

Besides, there are thousands of Geetas and Mehrunissas in both the countries longing to be reunited with their loved ones, reaping what their ancestors sow in 1947 when people who had been living together for centuries were divided along the lines of religion, blighting their future. Every year hundreds of fishermen are arrested by both the countries for no fault of their own.

Therefore, in the wake of Geeta’s return, I hope the governments on both sides will show similar zeal to such humanitarian issues, instead of using wretched people as a bargaining tool. Being humans, this is the least we can do.

In Mahatma Gandhi’s words,

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”

 

Next Story

Zeenat Shahzadi, Missing Pakistani Woman Journalist Fighting For Jailed Indian, Found After Two Years

A Pakistani woman journalist who was allegedly kidnapped while pursuing the case of an Indian engineer two years ago has been rescued

0
16
Zeenat Shahzadi
Zeenat Shahzadi had allegedly been kidnapped in Pakistan's Lahore city in 2015. Twitter.

Lahore October 21:  It was reported by PTI that A Pakistani journalist, Zeenat Shahzadi had “forcibly disappeared” while working on the case of Indian citizen Hamid Ansari.

  • A Pakistani journalist, Zeenat Shahzadi who was allegedly kidnapped two years ago has been rescued.
  • Zeenat Shahzadi, a 26-year-old reporter of Daily Nai Khaber and Metro News TV channel, was kidnapped by unidentified men while she was reaching her home in Lahore on August 19, 2015.
  • She was pursuing the case of an Indian engineer jailed in Peshawar on espionage charges.

The chief of Pakistan’s Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (CIED) Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal said that Shahzadi was retrieved nearby the Pakistan-Afghanistan border on Thursday night. He also mentioned the key roles of tribals from Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces in her recovery.

Zeenat Shahzadi
Rescue of Pakistani Journalist is celebrated in Pakistan. Twitter.

Ansari, a resident of Mumbai had been arrested for illegally invading Pakistan from Afghanistan to meet a girl he had befriended online in 2012. He was convicted to three years imprisonment on charges of spying and entering Pakistan illegally.

On Shahzadi being kidnapped, her brother Saddam Hussain committed suicide in March last year, making the situation an importance by the media.

Human rights activists, including former Secretary General of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, IA Rehman, have raised their voice to set Ansari free since he has completed to serve his sentence.

Next Story

Pakistan Elected to UN Human Rights Council along with 14 other countries

The new members will serve a three-year term from January 1, 2018

0
4
un human rights council
UN General Assembly elect 15 new members of Human Rights Council. Wikimedia

United Nations, October 17, 2017 : Fifteen countries, including Pakistan, have been elected to the UN Human Rights Council by the UN General Assembly.

In a vote on Monday, Afghanistan, Angola, Australia, Chile, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, Senegal, Slovakia, Spain and Ukraine were elected, a Foreign Office statement said.

They will serve a three-year term from January 1, 2018. (IANS)

 

Next Story

Pakistan Electoral Body Bars Political Party Due to Terror Ties

0
8
Sheikh Yaqub
Sheikh Yaqub (C) candidate of the newly-formed Milli Muslim League party, waves to his supporters at an election rally in Lahore, Pakistan. voa

Pakistan’s Election Commission (ECP) on Wednesday rejected the registration application of a newly established political party with alleged ties to a banned militant group in the country.

Milli Muslim League (MML) has been disqualified to participate in the country’s state and general elections.

The electoral commission’s decision is said to be based on a request made earlier by the country’s Ministry of Interior Affairs, stating that Milli Muslim League is a front organization for Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a U.S.-designated terror sponsoring organization in Pakistan.

“The government is vigilant and under no circumstances will allow any political party with a proven record of promoting violence and terrorism to spread their extremist ideology through democracy and political means,” Tallal Chaudhry, Pakistan’s minister of state for Interior Affairs, told VOA.

Saif Ullah Khalid, president of Milli Muslim League, dismissed the election commission’s decision and said the party will take the matter to the country’s judiciary.

Political wing

Milli Muslim League was established in August 2017 as a political wing for the controversial Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), which is believed to be a front organization for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror group led by Hafiz Saeed.

Saeed was accused of masterminding Mumbai’s 2008 terror attacks that killed 166 people, including six Americans.

The U.S. government has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his arrest. Saeed has been reportedly under house arrest in the eastern city of Lahore for the past eight months.

In September, during an important by-election in Lahore, when the National Assembly’s seat fell vacant following the disqualification of then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the newly launched MML backed an independent candidate who finished fourth in the race for Sharif’s seat.

At the time, Pakistan’s upper house of parliament strongly criticized the country’s election commission for allowing JuD’s political wing, MML, to participate in the Lahore by-election.

Some experts were concerned about the emergence of militant groups joining mainstream politics in Pakistan. They maintain that the political trend seen in Lahore’s by-election, where parties linked to militant groups are able to mobilize and generate sufficient numbers of votes within a very short period of time, as alarming.

“There should be a debate on this sensitive issue through social, political and media channels. By allowing militant-based political parties to integrate into mainstream politics, it will only escalate radicalization in the society,” Khadim Hussain, a Peshawar based political analyst, told VOA.

“There are people who believe with the merger of such militant groups into politics, we’ll provide them an avenue to maintain a political presence without leaving their extreme ideologies,” Hussain added.

Army’s support

Earlier last week, Pakistan’s army acknowledged they are mulling over plans to blend the militant-linked political groups into the mainstream political arena.

Some analysts side with MML, arguing the party should be allowed to participate in elections.

“I do not understand in what capacity the election commission has rejected MML’s application to register as a party,” said Ahmad Bilal Mehboob, the head of Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT).

“Did they (MML) break any law? If not, how can you bar MML from entering the mainstream politics when they’re doing it through legitimate ways,” Mehboob emphasized.

Zubair Iqbal, a Washington-based South Asia expert, also raised concerns over the validity of the decision.

“This is how democracy works. … There are some extreme groups, some moderate groups and no one should be stopped because of their extreme ideologies,” Iqbal told VOA. “The extremist groups can be barred from entering into the politics only through people and democracy.”

“Unless these parties and individuals are allowed to participate in the political system they might never change their extreme ideologies and might continue operating underground which will prove to be more dangerous,” Iqbal added.

International pressure

In the past few years, Pakistan has faced escalating pressure from the international community for not being able to crackdown on militant groups enjoying safe havens in Pakistan and launching attacks in neighboring countries.

In his recent speech on the region, U.S President Trump put Pakistan on notice to take actions against safe havens in Pakistan. Pakistani officials deny the existence of safe havens on its soil.

Pakistan is also accused of being selective in its pursuit of terror groups. It allegedly goes after only those groups that pose a threat to the country’s national security, ignoring others that threat India and Afghanistan.

Pakistan rejects the allegations and reiterates its stance of having no sympathy for any terror group operating in the country.(VOA)