Condemned by Silence: Dr Aafia Trial

As said by someone, “Oppression in the world is not because of few oppressors, rather it is due to the Silent Majority Who Do Not Speak Against the Oppression.”

Edmund Burke once said that Evil would only triumph if good people sat back and did nothing.

And we are doing exactly the same i.e. keeping silent.  We have to take stand for the truth and justice. Injustice has been done in the case of Dr Aafia. Yvonne Ridley proves this with strong evidence & argument. The article covers & exposes the role of trial judge, people in pakistani government, pakistani Ambassador Husain Haqqani and others:

Condemned by their Silence
By Yvonne Ridley (24th September 2010)

There are literally millions of people across the world who are now involved in the intriguing case of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui and they fall into several categories.

The first is a huge army of ordinary people of faith and no faith who represent many different nationalities and their aim is to see justice and fair play delivered to Aafia.

The second is a small, but on the surface of it, more powerful group of individuals who are ruthlessly ambitious; prepared to manipulate the truth and openly lie to elevate their own position to the detriment of others and Aafia in particular.

These are numerous people in the Pakistani government, past and present, as well as the last two U.S. administrations and include the dark forces at play which support them as well as the coterie of smooth-talking diplomats and ambassadors who tread the corridors of power. Then there are the others — perhaps the most despicable group of all, who are what I call fence sitters and spectators. The great Irish philosopher Edmund Burke once said that evil would only triumph if good people sat back and did nothing and he was right.

With few exceptions, the larger Muslim organizations have remained uncharacteristically quiet about Aafia’s case.

Why have they been muzzled? Correction. Why have they allowed themselves to be muzzled? To their eternal shame, they have remained silent about the plight of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui because they have been duped by an officially-sanctioned unofficial whispering campaign.

The rule is simple, brothers (and sisters), comrades, friends, and campaigners. If something is wrong, it is wrong, entirely wrong, and in Aafia’s case there is something wrong about the kidnap, torture, and rendition of a brilliant academic and her three children.

The fence-sitters in the U.S. are a disgrace. Men without courage or backbone are more to be pitied, I suppose, as cowardice is a dreadful affliction in the battlefield that is life.

A yellow streak down the spine makes people look the other way, blinkers their vision, and forces them to adopt an ostrich position. This makes it all the more easy for hate preachers like Pastor Jones in Florida to emerge and threaten to burn the Holy Quran.

But Edmund Clarke was right when he said evil will triumph if good people sit back and do nothing. The leaders of the organizations I’ve mentioned are good people but they are frightened and I pray that one day they will muster the courage they so desperately need to stand up and be counted.

And in these troubled times, it does take courage to stand up against an arrogant, bullying, intimidating political machine which brought words like kidnap, torture, rendition, water-boarding, and extra-judicial killings into daily use.

Just a few hours remain before the resumption of a trial in a New York court which is being presided over by Judge Richard Berman. To his eternal shame, he is one who has remained silent about the manner and style with which Dr. Aafia Siddiqui was presented in his court.

How the hell can a Pakistani citizen who allegedly committed a crime in Afghanistan be tried in his court without an official extradition procedure at the very least?

Why did he not demand that the paperwork was at least in order? He has presided over a mistrial from the outset.

He deemed the defendant mentally fit to stand trial but not mentally capable of determining her own legal team. Whenever Dr. Aafia Siddiqui — a brilliant neuroscientist bordering on genius by the way — attempted to sack her lawyers, he refused her request, saying she wasn’t mentally fit to make the decision. You can’t have it both ways, Your Honor.

Judge Berman has alas, so far, remained silent about the private — behind closed door meetings — he has had with Pakistani Ambassador Husain Haqqani. Another good reason for a mistrial, if only the legal team had the backbone to challenge the judge in his court.

The trouble is so-called ‘Dream Team’ lawyers Charlie Swift and Linda Moreno’s very lucrative two-million-dollar trial was being paid for by the Pakistani government, making Mr. Haqqani the overall client. Hmm, how does that one work when the Pakistani government colluded in the first place with U.S. intelligence agencies to kidnap Dr. Aafia Siddiqui and her three children from the streets of Karachi in March 2003? Another reason to declare a mistrial.

And what of the ubiquitous Mr. Haqqani? He’s not a career diplomat. In fact, he holds U.S. citizenship or has aspirations to, making him a very peculiar choice as Pakistan’s man in Washington. Once his foray into the world of diplomacy comes to an end, he’ll resume his career as a lecturer in America, something his U.S. controllers remind him on a regular basis.

His Excellency has certainly been a busy little bee with regard to Dr. Aafia’s case… briefing some of my colleagues in the Western media, telling them ‘off the record’ what a bad woman she is!

Just recently his cover was blown when he refused to grant the very excellent female politician Cynthia McKinney a visa to Pakistan. Cynthia was part of an international delegation due to travel to Islamabad to raise concerns about the case with the government there.

Mr. Haqqani, who thinks nothing of giving visas to Blackwater/Xe guns-for-hire and mercenaries heading to the fresh killing fields of Pakistan, saw fit to stop the former U.S. congresswoman from travelling there.

He squirmed and wriggled after being hoisted by his own petard, but like a worm impaled firmly on a fishhook of his own making, he could not escape the humiliating exposure of his duplicitous behavior.

If he has been briefing against Dr. Aafia Siddiqui all this time, one can only imagine what nonsense he filled in Judge Richard Berman’s head during their private meetings. In any other country this sort of revelation would be a career wrecker for both men, but justice in the U.S. is a strange beast.

(Yes, this is a serious allegation to make and I would have asked the judge personally, but he has banned me from using his fax and phone! Hilarious really, when you consider he has no legal jurisdiction in London, where I live. Obviously, he thinks if he can hold a trial on a crime allegedly committed in Afghanistan, he can have me renditioned and charged with contempt of court.)

But let’s get back to Dr. Aafia’s case, which has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with protecting the names and reputations of a collective of men and women in the U.S. and Pakistan — from presidents past and present to lesser politicians and their craven diplomats.

And if it means sacrificing one Dr. Aafia Siddiqui on the fire of their burning ambitions, then these ruthless people have shown they are more than capable of doing it.

What you have to decide now is if you are a fence-sitter or a fighter for justice.

Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, but there is a growing army of ordinary people out there who will continue to campaign for justice for Aafia.

We will not be silent — nor will we throw in the towel after Thursday.

That is when our campaigning will really begin.

In the interests of justice, common sense, and decency, let all concerned bring an end to this farce now and reunite this innocent mother with her family.

Beautiful Balochistan – Quetta (Part 2)

  (Read Balochistan Part 1 Here

Quetta: An Amazing City

NOTE: Click on photo to enlarge 

Dry Fruit Shop in Quetta

The City 

Quetta City

Quetta, the largest city in Baluchistan is an old city with current population of approx 1.8 million. Quetta (the word derives from kwatta, meaning ‘Fort’ in Pushto) is surrounded by hills forming a natural fort.  It is the capital of Balochistan hence the heart of all political & financial activities in the province. 

Famous Quetta Nalla (Trench)

1935 Earthquake 

Quetta city was completely destroyed & 40,000 people were killed in 1935 with a powerful earthquake. Quetta cantt & city are naturally divided by a water trench. City was destroyed by earthquake on one side of this trench but cantt remained intact. Earthquake centre was in Mach. 

Much Train Station

Military in Quetta 

Due to its strategic importance, Quetta has always been a big center for army. Currently it has 2 division army, world renowned Army Staff College (established since 1907), the oldest arsenal depot (established 1886), EME Training Centre, and Infantry school. Quetta’s livelihood heavily depends on this army presence. 

Staff College is well reputed worldwide for army officers training. Famous generals (e.g. Montgomery, Rommel, etc) graduated from here. It is an unwritten must to graduate (complete staff course) from here to get promotion above Major’s rank in Pakistan army.  Admission is very competitive, an army officer can only appear four times in the admission test. 

Staff College, Quetta

Quetta cantt is one of the oldest & largest in Pakistan. Its location is very strategic due to its proximity to Iran, Afghanistan, China and Russian states. 

Balochistan Railway 

 Realizing this English brought a high military presence here and built a train line in 1886 which was one of the most difficult railway lines in the world at the time. This railway line’s history is quite fascinating. English faced a lot of challeneges while building it, including harsh desert conditions, tribal atacks & tunnel digging through mountains. The line goes through many tunnels. This is why there are two engines pulling the train to Quetta, actually one pulls and other one pushes from the back. The line was extended to Afghanistan & Iran and used for trade heavily. 

Balochistan Hills & Train Tunnels

Quetta’s railway station bears a big plate on its entrance showing names of 139 railway employees died in the 1935 earth quake.

Wrong Day to Travel

The day we travelled back from Quetta to Lahore was the first anniversary of Akbar bugti’s death (August 2007). Security was on high alert. Whole Quetta city was empty and completely sealed off; train station was almost deserted. We made home safely but there were 3 bomb blasts on the very railway line the next day. The train was late, just by 6 hours!

Quetta Railway Station

We saw a bunch of 20 or 30 prorperly built mud houses with all facilities e.g. water, phone, electricity. But there was no human at all. Where were the inhabitants?? 

No Inhabitant

Aab-i Gum 

This station (below) is called “Aab-i Gum” meaning Lost Water in urdu. Natural Water used to travel over ground and then somehow go underground, hence the name Aab-i Gum. There is a famous urdu book “Aab-i Gum” by Mushtaq Ahmed Yousafi named after this place, well worth a read, infact one of my favourite. 

Aabe Gum Station

And lastly, the Hanna Lake. I was fascniated by the beauty of this place. 

Hanna Lake

Goodbye Quetta, Goodbye Balochistan!! 

(Read Balochistan Part 1 Here)

Beautiful Balochistan (part 1)

An Awfully Beautiful Place

I visited the awfully charming Pakistani province of Baluchistan in August 2007. Baluchistan is situated in the North West of Pakistan and borders with Iran, Afghanistan & Arabian sea. It is situated at a very strategic place and is full of natural resources. No wonder foreign forces namely USA, Russia, China and India have keen interest in it. Our leaders are playing puppet in the foreign hands and our poor Balochi brothers are paying the price for it.

Quetta Road, Hills & Tanga (Horse Carriage)

NOTE: Click on photo to enlarge.

Fascinating Landscape near a Coal Mine

Few Facts

Baluchistan is:

–        The largest province covering 43% area of Pakistan

–        The least populated, houses only 7.2 million, 5% of Pakistanis

–        The poorest, as most of its land is barren desert or dry high mountains. Water is scarce

–        Winters are bitterly cold and summers are scorching hot, making living here very difficult

–        About 55% inhabitants speak Baluchi, whereas other languages include Pashto, Sindhi, Punjabi and Urdu

–        The area has huge amounts of minerals. It has largest copper deposits in the world. Balochistan is the biggest supplier of natural gas (from Sui). Coal & petrol are few others to name.

Dry Hills

Balochi people are generally friendly & less exposed to rest of the world. Education level is quite low. Baluchi culture is tribal whereby the leader & the traditions are followed strictly. Baluchi people have many tribes living in Pakistan as well as in Iran & Afghanistan. Dry hills and desert stretches for miles. Landscape is fascinatingly full of different colors & shapes.

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Mud Houses in Desert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MUD HOUSES

Baluchis have no agriculture no industry or any other trade to live on. Most of them live in rural areas in mud houses and rely on livestock, little bit of fruit farming and smuggling of non-tax paid goods from Iran & Afghanistan (even this is on decline after tight border security in recent years). Cheaper Iranian oil and general household items are easily available in the market. Meat is the main item on Baluchi menu.

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Amir Afzal Karahi Gosht, Quetta

AMIR AFZAL KARAHI GOSHT RESTAURANT

We visited the most famous karahi shop in Quetta “Amir Afzal” to try Namkeen Karahi Gosht (meat cooked in fat and salt). We had to wait for about an hour but it was worth it, karahi was just so delicious. They served the tender juicy karahi meat with green salad and thin large chapati (bread) and raita.

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Weird Looking Hills

Highlands like Ziarat & Chaman have fruit farms. Apple, plums, pomegranate grow in wild too. Fruit is supplied throughout Pakistan & abroad. We saw beautiful fruit farms on the way from Quetta to Ziarat, mainly apple. We passed through stunning hills, and high lands.

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Juniper Tree

 

 

ZIARAT

Ziarat town is situated 133 kM from Quetta at an altitude of 2449 meters above sea level. It is a holiday hill resort amidst one of the largest and oldest Juniper (sanobar) forests in the world. It is said that some of the Juniper trees are as old as 5000 years.

The name Ziarat means “Shrine”. A local saint, Kharwari Baba, is believed to have rested in the valley and blessed it.

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Qaid e Azam House Ziarat

 QUAID E AZAM RESIDENCY

We visited Quaid e Azam Muhammd Ali Jinnah’s residency in Ziarat. It is a beautiful English style building. This is where Quaid e Azam spent last days of his life. It is believed locally that he was poisoned here by the then corrupt government and then taken back to Karachi. He passed away during this journey.

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Hanna Valley & Lake

 

 

MAGNIFICIENT HANNA VALLEY

We explored the Hanna Valley & Hanna Lake near Quetta city. Usually it has very little water but due to recent rains it was full. Hanna Lake is beautiful & elegant with clear waters. We could see large fish near its surface.

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Magnificient Hanna Lake

We stayed overnight in the rest house at Hanna. There are one or two restaurants near Hanna Lake, where we went to buy some food in the morning around 9 am but there was no movement, only a cleaner was doing his duty. Mostly visitor arrive in the afternoon. So disappointed, we headed back…

Read Part 2 about Quetta Here.

Biggest Ever US Arms Deal

Biggest Ever US Arms Deal

  Obama Govt has recently approved the Biggest Ever Arms deal in the US history. They are going to sell $60 billion worth of latest military equipment, plus a further $30 billion naval stuff deal is underway, Wall Street Journal reports.

 It will create jobs for up to 75000 people, badly needed to support US’s troubled economy. I wonder who are the Saudi’s going to use the weapons against?? Perhaps Iran. Well-done US, a very well all-rounded move…

 And what about Saudi Arabia? The weapons bought by them are not for hunting animals, these will of course be used by Saudi humans to kill other humans from neighbouring countries. And neighbours are Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates. So who is really the enemy of Saudi Arabia for which she is buying weapons?

War will bring more destruction & killing for Saudis & neighbours, with Saudi wealth & would support the US Weapons industry; very well done Saudi Arabia….

 Wouldn’t be better to spend this $ 90 Billion for the welfare of Saudi people, more schools, more hospitals, better infrastructure better life standard!!!!

 For Full News, Click Here