As the story of an 11-year-old girl in Pakistan charged with the capital crime of blasphemy continues to make headlines around the world, Al Jazeera’s Folly Bah Thibault spoke with Ayesha Tammy Haq, a barrister-at-law and civil rights activist; Khalid Rahman, the director general of the Institute for Policy Studies, specialising in domestic and regional politics; and Aasim Sajjad, a professor of political economy at Quaid-i-Azam University, and a member of the central committee of the Worker’s Party, about the history of the laws and whether they can be enforced in a just manner, or whether they should be repealed.
In celebration of Pakistan’s Independence Day earlier this month, a group of Pakistani students produced this short video that provides a glimpse into a Pakistan that too many Americans don’t get an opportunity to see – one of pride, hope, joy, and love.
It’s an important reminder that, despite facing the challenge of a global economic crisis and the threat of extremist violence, the vast majority of Pakistanis are working hard to provide their families a better tomorrow.
Ambassador Cameron Munter spoke to Hamid Mir on Capital Talk on Monday, July 23 in his last major interview before leaving Pakistan to return to his academic career in the US. During the interview, Ambassador Munter left the program with the following message:
Pakistan, I believe, needs to have confidence in itself – and by that it has to believe that it can solve its own problems, that it can elect the right people, that it can repair its democratic system; that these things are possible; that it’s not waiting for other people to do it for them; that Pakistan has the brains and Pakistan has the guts to solve these kinds of issues. When Pakistan does that, the true friends of Pakistan around the world – and America is among them, but we’re not the only ones – Pakistan’s friends around the world are there to support Pakistani leadership.
Ambassador Munter concluded by saying that he is optimistic about the future of Pakistan, noting that “Pakistanis are great people – they simply have to achieve their potential.”
US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter spoke with BBC Urdu on Tuesday about current issues in US-Pakistan relations.
Samar Minallah Khan is the recipient of the Fern Holland Award at the 2012 Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards. The Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards honor and celebrate women leaders who are working to strengthen democracy, increase economic opportunity and protect human rights around the world. Samar is a Pakistani Pashtun filmmaker and Cambridge-trained anthropologist who created a documentary on swara, a feudal justice system practice where young girls are made into child brides. Thanks in part to Samar’s campaign, swara was made illegal in Pakistan in 2004. Through her media initiative, Ethnomedia, she has produced documentaries on human trafficking, dowry and acid crimes, child domestic labor, and, most recently, forced marriage.
Q: Thank you, Senator McCain. I’m a former World Bank official and former senator from Pakistan. I — Pakistan is a key ally to United States and, in fact, only non-NATO ally. Next week is Chicago Summit. What do you see the role of Pakistan? Thank you.
SEN. MCCAIN: Pakistan is vital to United States national security interests for a broad variety of reasons, including the nuclear inventory that Pakistan has, including the fact that Pakistan’s role in the region is vital, not to mention relations with India.
But we have to operate in our relations with Pakistan with the realization that the ISI has close relations with the Haqqani network, and they are carrying out activities that kill Americans. Now, that’s just an assessment that cannot be refuted by the facts, and it saddens me.
We were talking earlier, just before this — (inaudible) — one of the gravest mistakes in recent history was the so-called Pressler Amendment, which basically cut off our military-to military relations, and we are paying, still paying a very heavy price for.
I think there are some who would argue that Pakistan is a failed state. I don’t argue that, but I do — could argue plausibly that the politics in Pakistan are very, very unsettled, to say the least.
And it is in our interest to have good relations with Pakistan. It is in our interest to aid Pakistan and try to assist them to a better democracy and a lessening of corruption and a severing of relations between the ISI and the Haqqani network. But we cannot force it. If there is any lesson we should have to learn over and over again, we can’t force the Pakistani government and people to change their ways unless they want to.
And it’s so disheartening sometimes to see the lack of progress towards a meaningful democracy and rule of law and all the things that we would hope that the Pakistanis might achieve. But whether we are successful in persuading them or not, Pakistan will remain a country that is vital to United States national security interests. I don’t have to draw for you the various scenarios of a breakdown in their government.
Pakistan’s democratic National Assembly recently passed a landmark bill to protect women’s rights in Pakistan. The bill still needs to pass the Senate, and deeply rooted cultural practices will make enforcement challenging in some areas, but the legislation represents and important step forward in protecting the rights of women in Pakistan and moving the country forward towards a society that respects the rights of all citizens.
Pakistani human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir discusses U.S.-Pakistan relations and the fragility of the Pakistani democracy. Jahangir criticizes the United States for sending mixed messages to Pakistanis, saying “the U.S. has to be very clear on what it wants from us.” Jahangir also emphasizes the need for the U.S. to prioritize Pakistani interests in order to improve cooperation. “As an individual ordinary citizen of Pakistan, I want to hear from them that what they want us to do is for the benefit of larger humanity rather than their own, or alone their, security concerns,” she says.