Tag Archives: Discrimination

Like mother like daughters

Every day is women’s day.

The International Women’s Day is all about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action – whatever that looks like globally at a local level. But one thing is for sure, International Women’s Day has been coming about for well over a century – and continues to grow from strength to strength.

This day was celebrated for the first time by the United Nations in 1975. The General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be remarked on any day of the year by Member States.

Obsession is, the domination of one’s thoughts or impressions by a persistent idea, image, or desire. Since I met with Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, I am obsessed with her fearlessness, her vision for democracy, her views on human rights and freedom of speech. Today Pakistan is celebrating the International Women’s day, I would like to share not a pleasant incident, but it is linked to her bravery.

On Nov 27 1991 a friend of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, Farhana Veena Hayat was assaulted by five gunmen at her residence in Karachi. Ms Farhana Veena Hayat was the daughter of Sardar Shaukat Hayat, a prominent member of the All India Muslim League and granddaughter of Sir Sikander Hayat, chief minister of united Punjab.

She accused the province’s home affairs adviser, Irfanullah Marwat, a son-in-law of the then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, of having ordered the violation. She claimed the rape was politically motivated because of her friendship with Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. There were two other cases set out the limelight because of Farhana Hayat’s case, Khursheed Begum and Rahila Tiwana, a Pakistan Peoples Party student activist. All three women were connected with PPP.


She was raped to send me a message. This is the worst sort of male prejudice, male chauvinism to send a message to a woman political leader by raping her friend, her supporters: Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto led her Pakistan People’s Party, chanting “Fascists,” in an unprecedented walkout from President Ghulam Ishaq Khan’s ceremonial address to a session of Parliament. Firing tear-gas canisters and swinging batons, police later drove 2,000 Bhutto supporters away from the heavily guarded Parliament House. Ghulam Ishaq Khan denied any official complicity. He told the reporters that the charges against Irfan Ullah Marwat are nothing more than fabrication.

Initially, the Sindh. The government tried to sink off the case as one of audacity and assault. The police even refused to lodge an FIR. Benazir Bhutto, along with several political parties and women’s organizations, established a countrywide campaign demanding the arrest of the offenders but no arrests were made. Protests over the rape of Farhana Hayat reached a peak on 12 December 1991 when rallies were called in Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi

On Dec 12 1991 the Sindh government formed a one-man tribunal consisting of Abdul Rahim Qazi of the Sindh High Court to test the case. The tribunal’s report, presented to the Sindh government two weeks later and made public. The tribunal cleared Mr Irfan Ullah Marwat of any engagement in the rape and also concluded there was no political motive behind the rope.

Mr Irfan ullah Marwat remained highly controversial during the term of office of all powerful Sindh Chief ministers, the late Jam Sadiq Ali. The two, along with the former DIG CIA, Samiullah Marwat, were blamed by Benazir Bhutto for unleashing a reign of terror on the PPP leaders and workers, which reminded her of the days of the late General Ziaul Haq.

Mr Irfan Ullah Marwat, who was elected from the PS-114 constituency on the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) ticket, met Ex-President Asif Ali Zardari on 24TH February 2017 at the Bilawal House and announced joining the party. I just got blanked when I heard this news, couldn’t understand how to respond.

While I was in shock BB’s daughter came to the deliverance;

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All faiths and all societies have given parents an honourable status. From a purely material standpoint, we find ourselves indebted to our parents, I am sure it must have been very difficult for Miss Bakhtawar Bhutto and Aseefa Bhutto to show their disagreement publicly, but it was the training of their brave mother who taught her children how to show your disagreement without being rude. Our indebtedness to our parents is so immense that it is not possible to repay it in full. Bakhtawar Bhutto and Aseefa Bhutto you are an inspiration for millions this year and years to come. I hope you always will stand strong for the women of Pakistan.

Disabled does not mean less abled

I have got a bad habit of watching news first thing in the morning ,most of the time there is always one bad news which causes stress for the rest of the day, last year on doctor’s advice I have stopped watching news and talk shows to avoid stress, for a change few week ago I tuned a news channel which was showing a protest of the people with disabilities, who were demanding from Balochistan government to ensure implementation of quota in government services and few other demands and in few minutes Police started manhandling the protesters to clear the route for a government official. The disabled persons have been protesting for five months to press the authorities for acceptance of their demands but none of their demands are met.
This was not the first incident, in December 2014 and 2016 on International day of people with disabilities a group of blind protesters who were protesting to increase job quota for them in government institutions were brutally manhandled by Punjab Police.
When I tried to find some statistics of people with disabilities in Pakistan I got surprised after finding out that the last census in Pakistan was conducted in 1998 after a gap of 16 years. Holding census is a constitutional requirement which is not being met. In March 2015 Prime Minister of Pakistan with the consent of four provinces announced country’s sixth census to be held in March 2016, unfortunately it has not been conducted to date. Now Federal Government is willing to carry out census in March 2017. If the government does not have the statistics of people with disabilities the budgetary allocations will always be wrong. So, the first hindrance that persons with disabilities encounter is statistics.
It took me some time to find an institution who can provide statistics, after putting some efforts I managed to contact Helping Hand for Relief and Development a private NGO who produced a detailed report about the People with disabilities Statistics in Pakistan.
According to 1998 census Pakistan had 3.28 million people with disabilities. According to Helping Hand’s report of 2012 population of PWDs in Pakistan was 5.035 million, which is more than the population of any of the individual countries population of Norway, New Zealand, Lebanon or Kuwait. From within Pakistan, PWDs population is more than the combined population of three cities i.e. Multan, Hyderabad and Peshawar. It is estimated that around 1.4 million are the children of school going age including 0.6 million girls.
The data incorporated in publication at district, provincial and national level should’ve facilitated the researchers, policy makers, planners, government departments and welfare organizations. It should’ve helped the governments to address the issues and vulnerabilities of PWDs but after witnessing protests in Quetta and Lahore subsequently I believe provincial governments have wasted the efforts of Helping Hands.
Disabled Persons’ Employment and Rehabilitation Ordinance initially promulgated in 1981. The declaration established responsibility of the State toward the prevention of disabilities, protection of rights of persons with disabilities and provision of medical care, education, training, employment, and rehabilitation to the persons with disabilities.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006. Pakistan became the 101st country to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities when former President Asif Ali Zardari signed the Instrument of Ratification on UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in September 2008.In 2009 PPP government took some measures by launching special CNIC scheme for the special persons. The main purpose was to identify special people throughout the country and provide them facilities.

Special Citizens Act, 2008 seeks to provide the accessibility to disabled citizens at every public place, with regard to allocation of seats in public transports, provision of facilities on footpaths for wheelchairs and blind persons. Similarly, while crossing the roads special citizens must be given priority. Under this act, government shall make the concerned authorities bound, before the construction of buildings in public or private sectors particularly in Educational Institutions, Banks, Hospitals, Shopping Malls, Police Stations, Airports, Railway Stations, Bus Stops, Hotels and at every public place to provide the facility of access of wheelchairs. After the 18th  Constitutional Amendment in 2011, the provincial governments have been empowered to take further initiatives.
We cannot force the governments but we can at least raise awareness through different means, social media can play an important role to educate people. Our overall cultural apprehensiveness on how we treat and interact with disability is questionable, let the change begin at primary level. Let us educate our children from young age to respect without discrimination. Let us educate people to stop calling them with ugly names certain terms that were once considered politically correct are now offensive. The terms “retarded” was once considered correct, as so many people use in impertinent fashion but not any longer. We need to celebrate our co-equals for their differences. As a society, we have the responsibility to promote the inclusion of our differences. When interacting with someone with a disability, we can be respectful in both our words and actions. It may be easier to understand how to interact with people who have disabilities if we imagine having a disability ourselves. Think about how we would want people to talk to or treat us?
Let us discourage discrimination and create a more tolerant world.