BAN THE GUN

ON March 1, a burst of gunfire snuffed out the life of a gentle soul in Washington D.C. He was a social worker helping the mentally challenged and drug addicts. He was Jawaid Bhutto, a teacher of philosophy and a progressive scholar in Pakistan before he moved to the US. I knew him as my friend and the husband of a former colleague Nafisa Hoodbhoy. Bhutto’s death grieved us immensely.

The irony didn’t escape me on this occasion. Here was a man who was known to be an ardent advocate of peace and love as well as gun control laws being killed by someone who was not entitled to be carrying a gun, given his mental state, so it was reported.

Such are the ways of America where the gun is god. I would also say this was a murder committed not by just one man — it was a killing by the entire gun lobby in America which has now globalised its reach. I still remember the pain in Barack Obama’s voice when he said in a television interview that “failure to tackle gun control has been the greatest frustration of my presidency”. It was horrifying to learn that Bhutto’s killing was the 50th case of homicide in D.C. alone since the start of the year. According to New York Times column writer Nicholas Kristof, the US has suffered more gun deaths (1.45 million) since 1970 than have occurred in all the wars that America has fought in the same period.

A fortnight after his killing, the world was shaken by the mosques shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, that took the lives of 50 worshippers as the country’s gun control laws were lax and a white supremacist could buy guns and shoot at will. The prime minister of New Zealand, Ms Jacinda Ardern, reacted with compassion, immediately promising, “Our gun laws will change”. And they did within a week.

It was a murder committed not by a single man but by the entire gun lobby.

These gunshot incidents are horrifying. Yet we in Pakistan react differently. I can count people known to me personally who were shot dead in Karachi — Perween Rahman, Abdul Waheed Khan, Zara Hussain and Sabeen Mahmud. Thousands have been targeted but these deaths didn’t stir our leadership the way similar killings moved Obama (who actually cried in public) and Ms Ardern.

Glance at some of the data to know where we stand and why we need the compassion of Obama and Ardern in our macho leadership. Guns in Pakistan have more than doubled in the last decade — 1.8m in 2007 and 4.39m licensed (with another 30m illicit ones) in 2017, says Naeem Sadiq of Citizens against Weapons, the sole civil society group in the country demanding a ban on guns.

Why is the government so unresponsive? True the laws are weak and inadequate. Sadiq says they allow too much discretion to the licensing authorities. They are discriminatory and licences are given to the rich and powerful as a bribe or political favour. Surely the government can change this. It doesn’t because it uses guns as a political tool. The excuse given is that guns are ostensibly needed for the security of the citizens. This is an incongruous excuse in a country where the state is bound to protect the lives of all its citizens and where the Constitution bans private armies (Article 256). Given this attitude, it is not surprising that no strict background checks are carried out by the licensing authorities.

For the last several years, CaW’s has been the single voice in Pakistan, demanding unequivocally a de-weaponisation programme that includes the surrender of all illicit weapons and buyback of all licensed arms. CaW has cited Australia and Britain as models for this process.

CaW also wants “the government to explicitly declare that all categories of weapons lie only in the domain of the state and no citizen, group or gang will be allowed to possess, carry or display any weapon — licensed or otherwise”.

It is time each of us who value human life should demand the same. Pakistan is at a watershed point. It is a do-or-die moment for the country. The choice is between surviving by cracking down on the militant extremists who thrive on terrorism or perishing by allowing a free rein to those who believe their path to paradise is awash with the blood of victims of terror attacks. They should have been disbanded a long time ago under the National Action Plan.

NAP could never have succeeded even if the government was serious because it had no provision for de-weaponisation. Today, there is much that is being said about mainstreaming the terrorist lashkars, but again, the issue of de-weaponisation does not figure in the picture. It would be horrifying to visualise hordes of fully armed bloodthirsty brutes being let loose in the name of mainstreaming.

There is a need to look at the gun control issue more closely and wisely.

www.zubeidamustafa.com

Scholar Jawaid Bhutto’s murder termed great loss for Sindh

HYDERABAD: Speakers at a condolence reference paid rich tribute to philos­opher and scholar Jawaid Bhutto, who was gunned down in Washington on March 2, and called him a great asset of Sindh.

They were speaking at the programme organised by Progressive Writers Associa­tion and Awami Workers Party at Sindhi Language Authority on Friday.

Late Jawaid’s widow and writer Nafisa Hoodbhoy recalled that her husband had always loved such gatherings and was a regular in them. The man who mur­dered her husband was a mentally sick person, she said.

She said she badly missed Jawaid today. His murder was mysterious and she failed to reconcile with the fact that her husband had been killed and was no more with her, wondering why that man killed an innocent person like Jawaid.

Sindh United Party presi­dent Syed Jalal Meh­mood Shah said that Jawaid was a nice and humble man who had always felt people’s pain. In such incidents one paid the price for the mis­takes committed by others. He had had several meetings with Jawaid but philosophy was never discussed between them, he said.

Rahat Saeed observed that one must discuss as to why Jawaid left Sindh. Perhaps he had thought that he was talking to walls and there was no one to listen to him. Such conditions always caused despondency among people but his love for Sindh always brought him back to his land and people, he said.

She said that Jawaid believed that philosophy of Karl Marx ensured eman­cipation of humanity and he never gave up being compa­ssionate to people. This was something that led him to mysticism.

Awami Workers Party president Dr Bakhshal Tha­lho recalled that he had first witnessed Jawaid talking to students on philosophy in Sindh University in the ’90s and he could never forget that moment. Jawaid was a free-thinking soul and he always believed in moulding opinion but he never compromised over truth, he said.

He said that Jawaid was a teacher of philosophy and his death was a great loss for Sindh. “There are many poets and artists today but we do not find philosophers in our society and since Jawaid was a teacher of this subject he had command over every subject. Jawaid was not a conventional socialist or communist but he was a man who believed in ground realities,” he said.

Imdad Chandio said that Jawaid always remained in search of truth and redis­covering everything. The late scholar had defined an intellectual as a person who could challenge establish­ment and stand for uprig­htness and truth, he said. He said that today Sindh needed people like Jawaid who had the art of explaining different concepts and ideas. He was a great asset of Sindh, he added.

Writer Amar Sindhu cal­l­ed for redefining progre­ssi­vism in Sindh and said that only people like Jawaid could interpret real progressivism. If anyone was able to redefine progressivism for the educa­ted lot of Sindh it would be a great achievement.

https://www.dawn.com/news/print/1471258

Glowing Tributes Paid to Jawaid Bhutto in Karachi

The gathering in Karachi Arts Council was as untraditional as Jawaid Bhutto’s life had been. The portrait of him looking down on the gathering was the face of a thinker, a philosopher who reflected in the most intense way on the meaning of life.

But Jawaid was no hardnosed intellectual. Instead, he was a `peoples person,’ loving the human spirit through his clear prism of love and humility.

Ever effervescent Ayub Shaikh, who was master of ceremonies, started with a minute of silence for Bhutto. It echoed the celebration of his life that had been held in Washington DC a week ago. There, again Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus and secular admirers… spoke of the man who radiated pure love… his spirit rising far above the hate filled bullets of a deranged tenant who lived below us and whose dark past had been kept a secret from us.

Jawaid’s nephew Ranwal recalled the amazing uncle he lost, senior journalist Mazhar Abbas remembered Jawaid’s friendship from his days in Karachi University; Niranjan Rajwani his days in Bulgaria; Rafiq Chandio, Amar Sindhu and Arfana Mallah his inspirational teaching years in Sindh University; Afrasiab Khattak recalled the comrade whose vision of a tolerant society will continue to inspire; Moonis Ayaz his generous friendship; Qaiser Bengali the gentleman like qualities of the man; Nuzhat Kidwai how his beloved sister, Fauzia Bhutto’s murder had taken him on the path to seek justice. And Mir Mazhar Talpur about how Jawaid had taken a stand on pot smoking in the gentlest way before he was gunned down.

Tribute to Jawaid Bhutto at Arts Council Karachi

Posted by Aziz Ahmed on Saturday, March 16, 2019

Voice of Sindh, London carried the following report on Youtube

Gathering in memory of Jawaid Bhutto

Arts Council of Pakistan Karachi has arranged a sitting in memory of Jawaid Bhutto, a man of values, a progressive intellectual who lost his life in Washington DC on March 1, 2019 at the hands of a deranged killer.

Friends will pay tribute to the man whose life was filled with love for his fellow beings, regardless of race, ethnicity, color or religion. A sufi at heart, Bhutto’s life was devoted to upliftment of humanity especially the long suffering people of Sindh.

Please join us on 16th March 2019, 3:00pm at New Auditorium, Arts Council of Pakistan

President & the Governing Body Arts Council of Pakistan Karachi

SU VC pays glowing tribute to Javed Bhutto

Javed Bhutto was Socrates of Sindh. It was Sindh’s ambassador of love and peace to the world. People like Javed Bhutto stay immortal in the hearts of people on account of their intellectual contribution to society. Javed Bhutto’s death has created a void which will be hard to fill.

This was stated by VC-SU Prof. Dr. Fateh Muhammad Burfat while he addressed the condolence reference organized by SU Department of Philosophy to pay tribute to legendary lover and practitioner of philosophy, former chairman Department of Philosophy, University of Sindh Javed Ahmed Bhutto.

Dr. Burfat also reminisced fondly the days he spent with Bhutto as his batch mate at Karachi University and the pleasant memories of Bhutto’s visit to SU and his subsequent interaction with him at the eve of his lecture at Shaikh Ayaz auditorium last year.

Secretary SUTA and Javed Bhutto’s close associate Prof. Dr. Arfana Begum Mallah said she was one of those blessed individuals who profited hugely from Bhutto’s erudite company. Dr. Mallah, terming Bhutto a modest mystic, opined that Bhutto loved men regardless of their social status. She declared him essentially “a peoples’ person”.

Philosopher Jawaid Bhutto laid to rest in ancestral burial ground

HYDERABAD: Amid elegies sung by pall-bearers, the 64-year old intellectual and philosopher Jawaid Bhutto, who was shot dead in Washington DC on March 2, was laid to rest in a graveyard in Shikarpur district on Sunday. His funeral prayers were offered earlier at Faisal Mosque in Bath Island, Karachi, on Saturday night.

Writers, poets, intellectuals and civil society activists, including men and women, attended the burial rites at Chirangi graveyard which is the ancestral burial place of Bhutto. His wife Nafisa Hoodbhoy, who arrived in Pakistan along with his body on Saturday, also attended the rare burial event in which women also went to the graveyard.

“Jawaid can’t die,” she expressed this conviction in her brief comments in the graveyard. “He is as alive in my heart as he was before his death.” She regarded her husband as a truthful and courageous person who wanted justice for all.

“I was drawn towards him due to the truthfulness of his heart,” said Hoodbhoy, who first met Bhutto when she was a journalist working for daily Dawn. “Jawaid’s marriage to me was the luckiest thing to happen to me in my life.”

She said that the couple, who spent over 18 years in the United States of America, had planned on returning to Pakistan and that they had almost completed the preparations. “But then this incident happened.” According to her, the man who killed her husband was a convicted murderer who was released from prison due to his mental health condition.

She told that the local police did not inform the neighbourhood about his past criminal record. “We should have been informed who was living below our apartment.” Recalling the incident, Hoodbhoy said that she had sent her husband to bring things from the car parked on the road when he was shot from behind. “His death is like a bad dream from which you can’t wake up.”

Pakistani philosopher Jawaid Bhutto murdered in US
Pervez Mari, a contemporary, informed that Bhutto received his early education from Shikarpur and Sukkur. He became affiliated with the Maoist party during his college days in Sukkur. He later got enrolled in Bolan Medical College in Quetta during Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s government but discontinued his medical studies in less than two years and started studying philosophy at University of Karachi.

After completing his doctorate from Sofia University, Bulgaria, he started teaching philosophy as a lecturer at Sindh University. Bhutto came in the limelight when he started struggle to get justice for his sister Fouzia Bhutto who was killed by former Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Rahim Bux Jamali when she was a student of Nawabshah Medical College.

“We weren’t expecting Jawaid’s sudden death,” said Zahid Mangi. “He always supported Sindhi and Balochi movements for their rights.”

The life and death of Jawaid Bhutto

It was Sunday morning on March 3, 2019. The last day of the KLF was about to start when Dr Ayoub Shaikh posted on Facebook a most devastating piece of news for the friends and students of Jawaid Bhutto. He had been killed in broad daylight in the capital of the most advanced and powerful country of the world. Washington DC is not an unlikely place to get killed in the US. Somebody can murder you there, as they can do in Chicago or New York. But for Jawaid Bhutto it was an unlikely place.

This column is not an obituary, nor is it a lamentation of American law and order. Obituaries are normally written of people who are famous, notorious, or rich. Jawaid was none of these, but to his dozens of friends and hundreds of students he meant a lot. His life was a lesson for many, right from his decision to quit medical studies to his opting for philosophy as his vocation, and from socialism to Sufism as his preferred mode of thinking, Jawaid Bhutto carried a torch for many. A look at his life gives us a reflection of the past four decades both in and out of Pakistan.

In the early 1980s, Pakistan was under General Ziaul Haq’s dictatorship. Five of the 11 years of his repressive rule had already seen a prime minister going to the gallows, and not hundreds but thousands of activists, democrats, journalists, intellectuals, and political leaders arrested, sentenced to imprisonment, or lashed in full public view. It was a reign of terror unleashed by General Ziaul Haq against all those who wanted to see Pakistan return to civilian rule and strived to make it a democratic and welfare state rather than a state based on religious and sectarian strife.

The Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) was in full swing but it was mostly confined to Sindh. Punjab, which had supported Z A Bhutto for at least 10 years and had seen PPP workers immolate themselves in protest against the death sentence to him, was now relatively calm. The press was in chains and under siege as described by Zamir Niazi, a journalist and writer who documented the establishment’s onslaught against freedom of expression. While the MRD struggle raged across Sindh, the rest of Pakistan was relatively calm with a graveyard silence imposed on it.

It is in this background that I met Jawaid Bhutto in Karachi in the early 1980s. He belonged to Shikarpur, went to Bolan Medical College to study medicine, soon got tired of it, and moved to Karachi University to study philosophy. I was still a teenager studying at the Government College of Technology (formerly Karachi Polytechnic Institute) near Sher Shah. Student politics in Karachi was dynamic and vibrant, with the Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) supported by General Zia on the one side, and some liberal, left-wing and progressive student unions on the other. It was not a level playing field.

Jawaid Bhutto and I belonged to the Democratic Student Federation (DSF). This new DSF was sort of a reincarnation of the old DSF that was active in the 1950s and was led by progressive student leaders such as Dr Adeebul Hasan Rizvi, Dr Haroon Ahmed, Dr Muhammad Sarwar (father of journalist Beena Sarwar), Dr Rehman Hashmi and many others. This new DSF, in which Jawaid Bhutto and I met, was a nursery of progressive ideas for many of us. Jawaid Bhutto was almost ten years older than me and he served as a guide and mentor for countless young students.

Rarely does one come across a young man who is so immersed in knowledge of almost all social sciences, especially of philosophy. His room was always full of books in English, Sindhi and Urdu. He was not one of those who pretend to read a lot by displaying books and by dropping names of philosophers and writers. His understanding of political ideas, social theories and philosophical frameworks was immense and he was always ready to impart his knowledge to anyone who came to him and showed a willingness to learn. He was always open and smiling, even at the most stupid of questions.

As the MRD was not visible in Karachi, the students of the DSF and other progressive student outfits decided to stage protests, do wall chalking against the dictatorship, and even hijack and torch buses. Jawaid Bhutto was less of an activist and more of an intellectual with us. He and his brother Shahid Bhutto were also music lovers, composed poetry into songs and recited poetry – from Faiz Ahmed Faiz to Shaikh Ayaz. They were also active with us in the Dastak Theatre Group led by the legendary Aslam Azhar and Mansoor Saeed (father of actress Sania Saeed).

But the might of the dictatorship was not mild for anyone who dared to challenge the narrative of jihad in Afghanistan and promotion of sectarianism in Pakistan under the guise of Islamisation. The goons of the IJT were targeting all liberal and progressive student activists and the DSF was no exception. In these bleak times, many left the country. Some went to Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, India, Libya, Scandinavian countries, Soviet Union, and Syria. When Jawaid Bhutto and I left Pakistan and went to India, we were accompanied by Farhan Azmi, son of comrade Dr Aizaz Nazeer, and Khurram Khalid, son of comrade Saif Khalid.

Fehmida Riaz was already there and had been declared a traitor in Pakistan. The death of Fehmida Riaz last year in Lahore and the way she was paid homage and respect across the country proves that the label of traitor only enhances the public prestige of the victims of state repression and not the other way round. It was in India that Jawaid and I spent months together. His grasp of Indian art and culture, history, philosophy, politics and religions was impressive to say the least. Even there, he was always looking for books and engaged in heated discussions with our hosts, especially with Noor Zaheer, daughter of Sajjad Zaheer.

Ultimately, Jawaid went to Bulgaria, and I landed in Patrice Lumumba Peoples’ Friendship University in Moscow. Our stay there relieved us of our romantic revolutionary zeal as we saw the socialist system in the full monty, warts and all. The crumbling of the socialist bloc prompted us to rethink the so-called universal applicability of Marxism that was our staple earlier. We came back to Pakistan almost at the same time in the late 1980s. He joined the University of Sindh as a lecturer in philosophy, and I was given a copywriting job in IAL/ Saatchi by Sarmad Ali (now MD of Jang Group).

In 1990, Jawaid had to suffer a major blow within his family when his sister, Fouzia Bhutto was murdered in her medical college hostel in Karachi. The murderer was Rahim Bux Jamali, a political leader who was arrested and spent some years in jail. After almost 20 years, Jamali was also murdered by someone on another account. It was during the murder trial of his sister that Jawaid came to know journalist Nafisa Hoodbhoy, sister of Dr Pervaiz Hoodbhoy. They got married in the mid-1990s. Jawaid continued to teach and enlighten his philosophy students for almost a decade.

Jawaid and Nafisa decided to move to the US in the late 1990s and settled in Washington DC. Jawaid kept reading and working in a rehab centre where he helped many drug addicts, mostly African-Americans. But he himself became a victim of a drug addict. Jawaid had complained of the rowdy behaviour of his neighbour; this enraged the man who shot Jawaid dead at 11am on March 2. Rest in peace Jawaid; you were needed in Pakistan more than in the US. Your dream for a democratic, progressive and secular Pakistan lives on.

The writer holds a PhD from the
University of Birmingham, UK and works in Islamabad.
Email: mnazir1964@yahoo.co.uk

Remembering Siddiq Baloch

Siddiq Baloch had a personality that made a distinct impression on people who met him. He was a moving force, fiercely proud in the Baloch tradition. His inquiring mind led him to explore independently, never willing to take other people’s account of reality. It also made him a fine journalist in Pakistan’s English language newspaper, Dawn where he sought answers to the nation’s intractable problems.

I met Siddiq upon joining the Dawn Reporters Room in 1984. His rugged, warrior like appearance belied the sensitivity that lay underneath. Foremost in his personae was a commitment to seeing justice, prominently for the people of Baluchistan. Moreover, his energy and bustling humor brought life to the city desk where we reported to encapsulate the politics of an ever-burgeoning Karachi.

It was a period when Gen. Zia ul Haq had ushered in military rule and when journalists and management alike walked a tight rope of censorship. As an activist in the National Awami Party and a follower of Ghaus Baksh Bijenzo, Siddiq was imprisoned for five years by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto under the Hyderabad conspiracy case and freed only after Gen. Zia overthrew Bhutto’s government.

Notwithstanding the twists and turns in Pakistan’s politics, Siddiq kept up his unrelenting opposition to military rule. He was elected president of the Karachi Union of Journalists in 1981, at a critical juncture in history. Thereafter, he energetically worked around Gen. Zia’s draconian laws against the print media, which was then the primary source of news and information.

The MQM led by Altaf Hussain was just then consolidating its grip on Karachi. The city was divided on ethnic lines even as it burned during violence, strikes and curfew.

Driving into the Dawn newspaper compound, I would see Siddiq Baloch energetically revving up his motor bike, with our mild-mannered Sindhi colleague Ghulam Ali clutching the rear. The two would zoom off to expeditions to Liaquatabad, Nazimabad, Orangi Town and far flung areas of Karachi, where MQM was testing out its new-found strength.

By late evening the two returned triumphantly from the frontlines, with eye-witness accounts of a city that had turned into a battlefield.

Both these colleagues lived in Lyari, where the lines between Baloch and Sindhis have blurred, and which added to the sense of fraternity one saw between them.

Ghulam Ali, who sat next to me, popped a joke every few minutes. The jokes were often about martial law, and what the average person… the barber or the rickshaw driver had said about the khakis. It complemented Siddiq’s remarks, who kept up his cynical commentary on military rule.

Lighter moments with Ghulam Ali and Siddiq Baloch stand out in memory. It was a hot, muggy summer evening in the Dawn Reporters Room, when fans circulated the stale air. Sweat dribbled down my colleagues and the grumbling grew louder that we had been condemned to work in a non-ventilated cubby hole.

Suddenly, the door opened and Siddiq and Ghulam Ali entered shirtless – wearing only vests over trousers. I laughed with delight at the sight of the two of them. They looked so comic in their zeal to show the bosses our plight. Siddiq sent for a photographer, where he dutifully took pictures of the burly, sweaty men typing away without their shirts.

Word got out to the management that two planned to keep up their shirtless protest. But one day of high drama served the cause of propaganda. In due course, an air conditioner was installed in the cubby hole and we were eventually able to type away in peace.

Siddiq had a sense of camaraderie that made him engage with every colleague. In the evenings, our short statured bulky colleague, Sabihuddin Ghausi would enter the Reporters Room with aplomb – newspapers rolled in one hand and a cigar in the other. Invariably, Siddiq looked up from his typewriter and in his inimical style teased Ghausi with an affectionate slight:

“Here comes the drug mafia!”

Ghausi was unfazed. While Siddiq was getting into economic reporting, Ghausi was the soul of Dawn’s Economic and Business Review (EBR) section – ferreting news with his penetrating intellect and sense of integrity. Siddiq shared Ghausi’s serious economic bent, even as he focused on Balochistan’s political economy – of which he became a notable authority.

I would see Siddiq’s mischievous smile around our colleague, Hameed – known by his by-line H.A. Hamied. Our colleague distinguished himself from the `riff raff’ by his starched white shirts, suspenders and supercilious remarks.

Whenever I heard Hamied say, `Har Shakh pey Uloo Baitha Hai’ (there’s an owl on every branch) I knew he was heaping contempt on some character being discussed in the room. Straightforward to the core, Siddiq would join the banter. He jokingly called Hamied by his by-line, Humaiy-eed to make him sound refined.

Siddiq’s other friends from Lyari were Latif Baloch and Aleem Pathan – both of whom worked with him in the sub-editor’s room. In time, Latif Baloch also joined reporting, bringing the flair of the locality to which he and Siddiq belonged.

Fair skinned Aleem was a Pathan from Lyari, who walked slowly and smoked in deliberate fashion. He told me that foreign journalists mistook him for Italian. When Siddiq was not around, Aleem would transport Ghulam Ali on his motor bike to riot-stricken areas like Orangi town.

Even when the 1985 Mohajir Pathan riots had peaked in Orangi town, Ghulam Ali would return from the affected area with a new joke. Returning from a dangerous expedition with Aleem, Ghulam Ali narrated with his flair for drama:

“When I turned around and said Aleem… he put his finger to his lips and said, Shhh go no further.” Aleem could have been concerned that Ghulam Ali would blow his cover, that he was no foreigner!

As was his habit, Siddiq liked to chuckle at his buddy’s jokes – which changed according to the seasons.

It was this sense of camaraderie that kept us going under the toughest circumstances. Once, Siddiq walked into the Reporters Room and picked on me – the only young woman among middle aged male colleagues. He began to sound the alarm that the Taliban were coming…. they would drive me off my job and make me stay at home.

As was Siddiq’s nature, he joked so energetically that for a while I thought he was serious. But I stood my ground and returned his verbal fire, telling him that even Mohammed Bin Qasim soldiers could not put my family in purdah. Knowing that I took his banter as “friendly fire,” Siddiq withdrew his joking offensive.

On another occasion, Siddiq had just returned from Saddar where he had an altercation with a police man who tried to ticket him on the ground that his motor bike was “illegally parked.” Knowing this was a prelude to taking a bribe, he narrated to me… eyes flashing as they did when he was animated… what he had said to the policeman:

I told him, “The whole government is illegally parked, and you talk about my motorbike!”

Each week the editor of Dawn, Ahmed Ali Khan would summon our weekly meeting. The meetings were more akin to showing presence in an imperial court rather than to elicit debate. While other reporters generally spoke to please the editor, Siddiq spoke with the conviction that showed he was his own boss.

Once in a while Dawn’s editor asked Siddiq for an update on his signature pieces – among them the Saindak copper and gold mine project in Balochistan. Siddiq gave updates on how Saindak had fallen victim to bureaucratic wrangling with the Punjab. Listening to him over the years, to me the Saindak project began to sound as intractable as the problem of Kashmir.

With his fierce Baloch nationalism, Siddiq was not one to give up. As late as 2017, he returned to the issue of Saindak mines, then being run by the Chinese. In an article written in the newspaper, he owned, The Daily Balochistan Express, Siddiq expressed his life-long desire that the people of Balochistan should benefit from their own resources.

“The Federal Government should surrender all the revenue in favor of the Government of Balochistan for the simple reason that the Government had failed to develop the basic infrastructure for future development during the past 70 long years.”

While Siddiq did not live to see the Saindak mines benefit the Baloch people, he saw China help construct the road network around Gwadar Port in Balochistan. Having traveled on the roads that were built under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, he told me with a touch of sarcasm aimed at the Pakistan government.

“More roads have been constructed in these parts in the last few years than in 70 years of Pakistan’s existence.”

Being firmly grounded among his people, it was but natural that Siddiq would leave Dawn in 1989 and move to Balochistan to start his own newspaper. It was a risky decision, given the financial capital needed to survive in a province with a low literacy rate.

Indeed, Siddiq’s first newspaper publication `Sindh Express,’ did not survive. Undeterred, he pursued his passion and a few years later began publishing `The Balochistan Express.’

I glimpsed his sense of independence at the time he left Dawn. His parting words have stayed with me:

“I’ll eat grass but I won’t eat from the `seth’ (boss).”

Seated next to me, Ghulam Ali wistfully remembered Siddiq long after he had left. With his incorrigible sense of humor, he kept joking about how all the newspapers Siddiq had been publishing… `Sindh Express,’ `Balochistan Express,’ `English Weekly Express,’… sounded like “railway timetables.”

Being an office bearer of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and the Karachi Union of Journalists, Siddiq kept returning to Karachi to speak at events that promoted freedom of expression and a living wage for media workers.

After the events of September 11, 2001, I was living in the US when an international media organization, Internews sponsored me to visit the border areas of Afghanistan to report on the state of the media. My research into Balochistan’s media found numerous “dummy publications” out to get advertising revenue, and newspapers that “paid” reporters by merely giving them the organization’s visiting cards.

Despite the poverty levels and the terrorism that engulfed Balochistan because of the war in Afghanistan, Siddiq Baloch kept the flame of journalism alive. Apart from the English language newspaper, The Balochistan Express, he also became chief editor of the Urdu language Azadi newspaper.

In recent years while visiting Karachi from the US, I drove through Saddar when the light turned red. With my car stopped at the signal, lo and behold I saw Siddiq Baloch approaching on foot – with an entourage of young men behind him. Instinctively, I put out my hand and shook hands with him. His smile was just as energetic and encompassing, even though our paths had long since diverged.

In July 2016, Siddiq Baloch spoke at the launch of the expanded edition of my book `Aboard the Democracy Train,’ at the Quetta Press Club. The book had arrived late, and my ex colleague had not had the opportunity to read it. Still, he spoke generously about our years in Dawn – leaving me touched by his observations.

That was the last time I saw Siddiq Baloch. Despite being diagnosed with cancer in 2014, he had kept up a brave face. Indeed, when I expressed my concern to him about not being well, he brushed off any suggestion that his health was in decline.

Meanwhile, creeping commercialization of the electronic media also took a toll on Siddiq’s attempt to promote journalism. After 2001, investors with little experience of media had obtained TV licenses – hiring non-journalists and young women for infotainment rather than news. Their golden rule was to stay in the good books of the government.

With declining advertising revenues and a tighter military grip on news, the space shrank further for a print era journalist like Siddiq Baloch.

Indeed, Baloch nationalists who protested against the theft of their resources were still being `disappeared’ and their bodies found in wastelands. The military painted as `anti-state’ the voices that expressed concern at Baloch marginalization by China’s investment in their province.

Six months before he passed away, Siddiq sounded dejected about the government’s clampdown on the media.

It concerned me to hear Siddiq say that his right of expression was being muffled not only in print but in speech. Still, knowing him to be an adept political worker, I figured he was laying low until the wind blew over.

Despite his ailment, Siddiq was preparing his family members to run his newspapers. They would be equipped with the baton of the press that advocates the genuine rights of the people of Balochistan

In February 2018, Siddiq Baloch joined the list of my colleagues in the Dawn Reporters Room – Huzoor Ahmed Shah, Saghir Ahmed, H.A. Hamied, Aleem Pathan, Ghulam Ali, G.D. Ghauri, Ali Kabir, Shamim ur Rehman and Sabihuddin Ghausi – who departed the earth.

Among them, Siddiq Baloch stands out as a moving force who inspired a generation of journalists to write passionately about Pakistan… and his beloved province of Balochistan… at a time when the business of building the nation is still unfinished.

A Princess Vanishes. A Video Offers Alarming Clues

BEIRUT — The princess known as Sheikha Latifa had not left Dubai, the glittering emirate ruled by her father, in 18 years. Her requests to travel and study elsewhere had been denied. Her passport had been taken away. Her friends’ apartments were forbidden to her, her palace off-limits to them.

At 32, Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum went nowhere without a watchful chauffeur.

“There’s no justice here,” she said in a video she secretly recorded last year. “Especially if you’re a female, your life is so disposable.”

So it was with a jolt of astonishment that her friends overseas read a WhatsApp message from her last March announcing that she had left Dubai “for good.”

“I have a very uncomfortable feeling,” one of them, an American sky diver named Chris Colwell, messaged back. “Is this real,” he added. “Where are you.”

“Free,” she responded. “And I’ll come see you soon.” She added a heart.

Her escape — planned over several years with the help of a Finnish capoeira trainer and a self-proclaimed French ex-spy — lasted less than a week.

Within a few days of setting sail on the Indian Ocean in the Frenchman’s yacht, bound for India and then the United States, the Sheikha went silent. She has not been seen since, except in a few photos released in December by her family, which says she is safely home after surviving what they said was a kidnapping.

Yet thanks to the video she made before fleeing, the sheikha’s face and voice have made their way around the world, drawing more than 2 million views on YouTube, spurring avid news coverage and marring Dubai’s image as a world capital of glitz and commerce like a graffiti tag.

Like the young women who have fled Saudi Arabia’s restrictive regime, Sheikha Latifa has made sure no one can forget how few freedoms are allotted to women in the Middle East’s most conservative societies — or how costly crossing Dubai’s ruler can be.

For all its megamalls, haute cuisine and dizzying skyscrapers, Dubai can flip at speed from international playground to repressive police state. It has drawn headlines in the West for detaining foreigners for holding hands in public and drinking alcohol without a license.

Last year, it was widely condemned for holding a British academic, Matthew Hedges, after accusing him of being a British spy. In recent years, the authorities have also intensified a crackdown on internal dissent.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re an ordinary Emirati citizen or a member of the royal family or an expat from a close ally like the U.K.,” said Hiba Zayadin, a researcher at Human Rights Watch. “If you’re harming that carefully tailored image,” she added, “you will face the consequences.”

Over the video’s 39 stark minutes, her voice composed and forceful, Sheikha Latifa described in fluent English her life of constricting privilege and stunted hopes. She hoped it would change if she could win political asylum in the United States.

“I don’t know how, how I’ll feel, just waking up in the morning and thinking, I can do whatever I want today,” she said. “That’ll be such a new, different feeling. It’ll be amazing.”

Fearing for her life if she was caught, she said she was recording the video in case she failed.

“They’re not going to take me back alive,” she said. “That’s not going to happen. If I don’t make it out alive, at least there’s this video.”

Sheikha Latifa first faced rigid restrictions after her sister’s failed escape attempt years earlier.

When she was 14, her older sister Shamsa escaped from her family’s security detail on a trip to England. Her father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, owns a large estate and a prominent thoroughbred racing stable, Godolphin, there.

Hervé Jaubert, right, spoke at a news conference in London after Sheikha Latifa was captured aboard his yacht. He said he was helping her escape. Sheikha Latifa’s father said Mr. Jaubert had kidnapped her.

Hervé Jaubert, right, spoke at a news conference in London after Sheikha Latifa was captured aboard his yacht. He said he was helping her escape. Sheikha Latifa’s father said Mr. Jaubert had kidnapped her.

News reports at the time said Emirati personnel eventually tracked Shamsa to a street in Cambridge, forcing her into a car. When a Scotland Yard detective began investigating her case as a kidnapping, Dubai authorities refused to let him interview her. The case dead-ended there.

Sheikha Latifa said Shamsa, the only of 30 siblings to whom she was close, had been drugged into docility ever since, “basically like walking around with a cage following her.”

Horrified by Shamsa’s treatment, she said she tried to escape across the border to Oman. Retrieved almost immediately, she said she was held in solitary confinement for more than three years.

Emirati family law allows women to be punished for disobeying, and she said she was frequently pulled out of bed to be beaten, deprived of medical care and, until the final few months, even a toothbrush.

Even after she was released at 19, her life was defined by her family’s constraints as much as by its wealth.
She lived in a palace behind high walls, with 40 rooms spread over four wings — one for each female relative who lived there, said Tiina Jauhiainen, a Finnish woman who began training Sheikha Latifa in the Afro-Brazilian martial art of capoeira in 2010. There were about 100 servants and an athletic compound with its own swimming pool and spa. Wherever the sheikha went, a Filipino maid went too.

But hers was a life of enforced, confined leisure. She could spend her money only on hobbies and sports including horseback riding and scuba diving, or on treating friends to lunch or manicures. She was not allowed to study medicine as she had wanted, friends said.

Nor could she travel, even to the next-door emirate of Abu Dhabi, one of seven city-states making up the United Arab Emirates. She pressed friends to describe every trip for her “like she was traveling with me,” said Stefania Martinengo, her friend and skydiving coach.

She was also barred from visiting any nonpublic places, even friends’ homes. An avid sky diver, she once parachuted secretly into an unapproved part of the city for 20 minutes of kayaking with Mr. Colwell.

When friends rode along in the boxy black Mercedes that often ferried her around, she put on headphones and sat in silence, refusing, in front of the driver, to say a word.

Skydiving was her chief distraction.

Dropping into the sky, “you’re equal to everyone,” Ms. Martinengo said. “You don’t talk, you’re just flying. I think she enjoyed being free in the sky.”

At first glance, she seemed neither fabulously wealthy nor wildly unhappy.

Introducing herself as Latifa, she was often taken for just another local woman. Under the all-covering abaya she wore in public, she usually dressed in T-shirts and athletic pants. She demurred her way out of most photos. She listened rather than talked. She never outright complained about her situation, friends said.

She never spoke about her family. Dubai’s dazzlingly wealthy flaunted their lives on Instagram; she was barely Googleable.

But she fantasized about running her own life. She talked about starting an Emirati skydiving team, hoping her father would let her travel to international competitions. A vegan who had become passionate about wellness and detox, she planned to invest in a yoga-and-juice center in Europe with Ms. Martinengo.

When Ms. Martinengo asked how she would help run the business without traveling, she said, “I have a feeling things might change.”

Almost no one realized until later that she had been planning to run for several years.

She first contacted Hervé Jaubert, whose website describes him as a former French intelligence officer and “no ordinary man,” who had once managed to escape Dubai in a small rubber boat by dressing as a woman.

She then enlisted Ms. Jauhiainen. At one point, they trained to dive and swim to Oman via underwater scooter.
Ms. Jauhiainen said Sheikha Latifa wanted to help other women who had been trapped in similar situations, and she wanted to get Shamsa out. If necessary, she thought she could work as a skydiving instructor.

To show that she was safe at home, the government of the United Arab Emirates distributed this picture showing Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum, left, with Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, in December.

To show that she was safe at home, the government of the United Arab Emirates distributed this picture showing Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum, left, with Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, in December.

“I’m ready to flip burgers or do anything as long as I have my freedom,” she told Ms. Jauhiainen.

A few days before they left, she sneaked out of a mall to record the video at Ms. Jauhiainen’s apartment.

“I’m feeling positive about the future,” she said. “I’m feeling like it’s the start of an adventure. It’s the start of me claiming my life, my freedom, freedom of choice.”

“I’m really looking forward to that,” she said.

The morning of the escape, Sheikha Latifa was driven to eat breakfast with Ms. Jauhiainen at a restaurant, as she often did. According to Ms. Jauhiainen, they got into her car and made for Oman, where they rode an inflatable raft, then Jet Skis, out to Mr. Jaubert’s yacht. A selfie they took in the car shows Sheikha Latifa grinning behind mirrored sunglasses, elated.

“We’re like Thelma and Louise,” Ms. Jauhiainen joked, referring to the 1991 American film.

“Don’t say that,” Sheikha Latifa protested. “It has a sad ending!”

As they sailed toward India on the evening of March 4, the women were getting ready for bed below decks when they heard loud noises. They locked themselves in the bathroom, but it filled with smoke. The only way out was up.

On deck, armed men whom Ms. Jauhiainen identified as Indian and Emirati pushed Mr. Jaubert, Ms. Jauhiainen and the Filipino crewmen to the ground, tying them up and beating them. They told Ms. Jauhiainen to take her last breath. Ms. Jauhiainen saw Sheikha Latifa on the ground, tied up but kicking, screaming that she wanted political asylum in India.

Before long, an Arabic-speaking man boarded. He made it clear, Ms. Jauhiainen said, that he had come to retrieve the sheikha.

“Just shoot me here,” she cried, Ms. Jauhiainen recalled. “Don’t take me back.”
Then she was gone.

Her father, Sheikh Mohammed, did not address her whereabouts until December, when the BBC was about to air a documentary. His office issued a statement saying that she was safe in Dubai, celebrating her 33rd birthday with family “in privacy and peace.” (Ms. Jauhiainen said the sheikha had not chosen to spend her birthday with family in years.)

The statement accused Mr. Jaubert, whom it called a “convicted criminal,” of kidnapping her for a $100 million ransom.

Sheikh Mohammed did not reply to a request for an interview sent to his office. The Emirati embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.

Things have only gotten stranger since.

On Christmas Eve, Dubai released the first public photos of Sheikha Latifa since her disappearance. They showed her sitting with Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, who confirmed that she had met the sheikha at her family’s request.

Ms. Robinson said Sheikha Latifa was safe with her family, but said she was receiving psychiatric care, calling her a “troubled young woman” with a “serious medical condition.”

“This is a family matter now,” Ms. Robinson said.

The sheikha’s advocates were taken aback that a respected human rights crusader had seemingly embraced Dubai’s official line. They disputed that she had a psychiatric condition, apart from any she might have developed because of imprisonment or drugging.

“I know 100 percent for sure that she doesn’t need mental care,” Ms. Martinengo said. “Maybe now, after all these treatments, but not before. How can you think that a person who’s been in prison for nine months wouldn’t seem troubled?”

Friends also found Sheikha Latifa’s appearance in the photos — slightly dazed, her eyes missing the camera — concerning.

With negative attention thickening around her, Ms. Robinson issued a statement saying that she had made her assessment “in good faith and to the best of my ability,” adding that the sheikha’s “vulnerability was apparent.”

By mid-January, a lawyer who had been working with activists left the sheikha’s case without explanation.

Several friends still in Dubai said they were too frightened to speak, while Mr. Jaubert abruptly stopped responding to requests to be interviewed for this article.

Sheikha Latifa had little doubt about what would happen to her.

“If you are watching this video, it’s not such a good thing,” she said in her video. “Either I’m dead, or I’m in a very, very, very bad situation.”

Pakistani journalist arrested for critical Twitter posts

Washington, D.C., February 9, 2019–The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Pakistani authorities to immediately release and drop all legal proceedings against Rizwan-ur-Rehman Razi, a TV host for Din News, a privately-owned Urdu-language news station. Razi was arrested and taken into custody this morning in Lahore, according to news reports and CPJ reporting.

“Expressing opinions, even critical opinions, should not be a crime, in Pakistan or anywhere,” said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler. “Justice–and Pakistan’s constitutional guarantee of freedom of the press–can only be served by Rizwan Razi’s immediate release.”

Razi, also known as “Razi Dada,” was taken from his home at 10:30 a.m. today, according to his son, Osama Razi, who told CPJ his father was beaten and bundled into a black car, which he then chased after as it sped away from the house in Lahore. In an interview with CPJ, Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry confirmed that Razi had been arrested by the Federal Investigation Agency for social media postings that allegedly violated Pakistan’s Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act. A photograph was later circulated showing Razi in handcuffs.

A First Information Report released by the FIA Cyber Crime Wing, which CPJ has seen, said that Razi had put up “defamatory and obnoxious posts” on his Twitter account against the “judiciary, government institutions and intelligence agencies” of Pakistan.

The FIR further stated that Razi had “confessed” to uploading the posts, apologized and promised to refrain from posting similar material in the future. The agency also said it had seized and searched Razi’s mobile phone.

Although it was unclear what specifically led to the arrest, earlier this month, Razi had criticized extrajudicial killings in Punjab at the hands of security forces and pointed fingers at the Army, according to screenshots of Twitter postings provided to CPJ. Razi’s Twitter account, @RaziDada, appeared to have been disabled on Saturday.

Osama Razi said that he expected his father to be released after he goes before a judge for formal charging, although this was not guaranteed.

Steven Butler
Asia Program Coordinator
sbutler@cpj.org
+1 (202) 445-3216
Facebook.com/CPJAsia
@CPJAsia

Aliya Iftikhar
Asia Program Research Associate
aiftikhar@cpj.org
+1 (212) 300-9023
Facebook.com/CPJAsia
@CPJAsia

Committee to Protect Journalists
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