Brave Pakistani women have been in the vanguard of social change in a country infested with religiously radical and extremist groups. The women have also emerged as the first line of defiance against extremism in a country with a poor record in protection of women’s rights.
Over many years, they have refused to be silent spectators of social injustice and gender inequality, and have openly denounced the Taliban’s radical agenda. Many determined women have sacrificed their lives for these causes and many more remain active despite facing grave threats to their lives.
In the latest campaign of violence against such women, terrorists gunned down the prominent social worker Parveen Rehman this month in Karachi, the southern port city where the Taliban are believed to have increased their presence over the past few years. Ms Rehman was a long-time director of the renowned Orangi Pilot Project, which works to uplift poor areas.
KARACHI – Former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf has returned home after four years in self-exile this week amid death threats from Islamist extremists.
The ex-dictator has returned with democratic aspirations. As leader of the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML), the political party he formed in 2010, he is prepared to enter electoral politics. He plans to contest in the May 11 general election from three National Assembly seats throughout the country for a possible political comeback. Given the political scene of the country, that is seen as an difficult prospect.
“I returned to Pakistan for the sake of my country. I am trying to persuade the people to vote for me,” Dawn reported Musharraf as saying.
KARACHI – Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday announced the next general election will be held on May 11, as the Pakistani Taliban raised tension ahead of the long-anticipated polls by warning people to stay away from political gatherings and public meetings of key mainstream parties during their campaigns.
The country’s top military brass resolved on Tuesday to continue the fight against terrorism and said that the armed forces would give backing to the Election Commission that will oversee the vote. That expression of support came a day after the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said it was withdrawing from peace talks.
”It was reiterated in unequivocal terms that comprehensive strategy will be followed by armed forces to combat terrorist threat being faced by the country,” Dawn reported a military spokesman as saying after a quarterly meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.
KARACHI – The Pakistani Taliban has declared a war on Pakistan’s judiciary and announced it will suspend peace talks with the Pakistani government. At least four persons were killed and 30 injured including three policemen and a woman judge on Monday when two suicide bombers blew themselves up within the premises of the judicial complex in Peshawar, the capital of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has accepted the responsibility for the suicide attack saying it is the beginning of a new battle against the judicial system which has failed to protect innocent citizens like Dr Aafia Siddiqui, an American-educated Pakistani cognitive neuroscientist imprisoned in the US.
Two suicide bombers on Monday stormed the crowded court complex in the city of Peshawar and opened indiscriminate firing on the policemen performing guard duty at the entrance.
Islamabad and Tehran are all set to begin work on a much delayed US$7.5 billion Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, a project that faces stiff opposition from the United States. The project can bring an economic bonanza for Iran, which faces sanctions from the United Nations, the US and the European Union over its nuclear programme.
The pipeline was originally a trilateral project planned to extend from Pakistan to India in the 1990s. In 2009, India withdrew under US pressure. The US discouraged India and Pakistan from any deal with Iran because of Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
Beijing has also shown interest in joining the pipeline, which could provide a chance for a secure overland gas supply if it were extended from Pakistan into Xinjiang.