Pakistanis Stuck in ASEAN Labor Trafficking Scams

Pakistan_MalaysiaIn current scenario, the cases of sex trafficking get a lot of global attention and media coverage, whereas labor trafficking gets sidelined. Needless to say, labor trafficking is a huge phenomenon faced by the world.  While labor trafficking is not exactly a secret, it is very difficult to identify the persons who become the victims of labor trafficking scams.

But if we look around, this is something we see “everywhere.”

Recently on a Dubai-Kuala Lumpur transit a group of closely attached young Pakistani men were seen at the airport lounge. The group constituted 12 men and it was apparent that it was their first ever time to sit on a plane. The most interesting thing to be noted was they were barely able to speak in Pakistan’s national language Urdu, and barely managed few liners in English. However they were all on their way to Malaysia holding valid work permits.

Local investigations  find that a quarter of all workers in Malaysia in forced labor include large number of young men from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Most South Asian youth arrive to Malaysia via employment recruiting agencies. This trend has been criticized within Pakistan by several leading politicians who argue that Pakistani workers sign agreements with lucrative wages and wonderful terms in Pakistan, but when they actually land inside Malaysia, the outsourcing companies substitute those contracts for more exploitative ones.

Speaking with a Pakistani labor who has recently returned back into the country was an eye opener. For maintaining privacy, we will call this twenty-six year old man Zahir Murad originally from Faislabad district. Zahir spent five years in Johor, Malaysia where he worked as a window cleaner on the tourist Hotels.

In his own words, “I spend my days hundreds of feet high to work overtime all the time, day in day out, sickness or not. I don’t think I will ever think of going abroad again.” Zahir Murad was offered a lucrative contractual job by a recruiting agency of a construction company but upon arrival to Malaysia, he turned into cleaner overnight and spent almost all those years cleaning only despite his educational credentials. More ever, he lived in a small room with other four men.

Zahir watches me but his expression tells me he is reliving those times, and suddenly he blurts out, “I feel like such a failure, what I got after spending five years aboard to show it at home. On top of that, the recruiting agencies told such wonderful stories of Malaysia, a great destination for Muslim migrants.” 

The humiliation Zahir suffered won’t fade away so easily and like many others, this trauma has scarred him for life. After speaking with him, my mind immediately thought of those eager looking faces at the Dubai airport terminal. But I will probably never know what happened to them, one can just hope that their fate wasn’t like that of Zahir’s.

For past two years, another Pakistani Junaid Mohammad is working as a security guard in Kuala Lumpur with a Malaysian security company. He is one of the hundreds of young Pakistanis and Afghans who came to Malaysia seeking better career prospects and larger earnings. His recruiters provided documents that on paper seemed like a Golden Dream come true and even instigated that the company car would pick him at the airport. But upon arrival, Junaid spent four days at the departure terminal to understand that nobody was coming. Finally, the recruiting agency man came making excuses of a family emergency. He took Junaid to the new work premises, but went away with his passport citing official documentation motives.

Junaid’s contract stated his monthly salary at 3000 Malaysian Ringgits (approximately US$900).In reality, he’s actually only managed to less than half of the promised amount and cannot move freely to seek help due to his vulnerable status of being a foreigner without his passport. During this time, he fell sick and needed medical attention. As he braved the roads, he was arrested and labelled as an illegal immigrant. The local police let him go; it seems bribes work well in Malaysia just like Pakistan.

Junaid complains of being abused both by his recruiters and the authorities in Malaysia who don’t want to deal with the problems of migrants workers. But he knows, any open retaliation means he will be fired and without his passport he is stranded into nowhere.

Some of his colleagues were able to contact the embassy but that too didn’t help change their situation. Junaid says, “The embassy staff in Kuala Lumpur don’t help us at all, they are immoral and unkind. They are enjoying good salaries but when it comes for serving Pakistanis, they really do nothing.”

Junaid and his colleagues demand that Governments of Pakistan and Malaysia respectively look into the matter, because migrant labor rights are getting abused as we so speak. Such cases are a tip on the iceberg of the complexity that faces Asian migrant laborer rights and need immediate attention. The regional network CARAM Asia works on migration and health issues says that Pakistanis makes up the majority of  more than half of foreigner workers in Malaysia. The organization also says that over two-thirds of migrant workers don’t get their wages on time and many get physically and sexually harassed.

Its time to stand up against Labor trafficking which is a form of modern-day slavery in which individuals perform labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.

First published on Sept.16 2015 

South East Asia News

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1947 Partition|The Legacy of Fatima Jinnah, Mother of the Nation

The “Mother of the Nation” (Maadar E Millat), “The Lady of Pakistan”(Khatoon E Pakistan) are given titles to one of the finest Pakistani women who lived in history. Yes, I am speaking of Fatima Jinnah, the younger sister of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan and an active political figure in the movement for independence from the British Rule.

She was a leading, founding and instrumental figure in the Pakistan movement and the primary organizer of the All India Muslim Women Students Federation. Fatima Jinnah like her brother dedicated her whole life to the cause of Pakistan’s birth and its nation building. The Father of Nation Quaid E Azam was always accompanied by Fatima Jinnah, at each public appearance he made before and after partition. It is said that this siblings legacy, in particular of Fatima Jinnah’s unwavering support is the key to his success. When the All India Muslim League was being organized, she was taken on as a member of the Working Committee of the Bombay Provincial Muslim League, and worked in that capacity until 1947.  Paying tribute to her sister, the Quaid once said, “My sister was like a bright ray of light and hope whenever I came back home and met her. Anxieties would have been much greater and my health much worse, but for the restraint imposed by her.”

quaid-e-azam-and-fatima-jinnah-outside-the-pakistan-constituent-assembly

By profession she was a dental surgeon, biographer and stateswoman. After the untimely demise of Quaid E Azam, Fatima Jinnah despite her personal loss continued struggling for the betterment of the newly born country. She played a significant role in the settlement of Muhajirs in the new state of Pakistan. In those years, she focused on her literary projects, “Brother” is the name of the biography she wrote on the life of Quaid E Azam, but was held from publishing for many untold reasons. By the time it was published, pages from the book’s manuscript had vanished.

“If there was another leader in Pakistan today like Quaid and Fatima Jinnah Pakistan would be a heaven on earth. I had the good fortune to meet Miss Jinnah in February, 1959 when she very kindly attended a N.E.D. College sports function in Karachi. I found her to be a delightful personality with a lovely smile and full of positive encouragements for the young people.  How can one forget those moments when you are congratulated and asked to serve Pakistan well, now that is real leadership.”  A Pakistani engineer A.K accounts.

Late 1960s was an era when dictators and religious zealots had gained power over political scene in Pakistan yet this noble, gracious and courageous lady did not hesitate to take on a military dictator in her later years. She returned to forefront of political life when she ran for the presidency of Pakistan as a candidate for the Combined Opposition Party of Pakistan (COPP). This had her opponent Ayub Khan furious whose dictatorship was in full swing.

He labeled her being pro-Indian and pro-American and accused her of an being an enemy of Pakistan.“They call her the Mother of the Nation,” sniffed Pakistan’s President Mohammed Ayub Khan. “Then she should at least behave like a mother.” What upset Ayub was that Fatima Jinnah looked so good in pants. The more she upbraided Ayub, the louder Pakistanis cheered the frail figure in her shalwar (baggy white silk trousers). By last week, with Pakistan’s first presidential election only a fortnight away, opposition to Ayub had reached a pitch unequaled in his six years of autocratic rule.”

Fatima Jinnah responded by proclaiming him to be a dictator. She started her rallies where it is said nearly 250,000 people turned out to see her in Dhaka, and a million lined the 293 mile route from there to Chittagong. Her train, called the Freedom Special, was 22 hours delayed to arrival because south Asian men hailed by  crowds at each station pulled the emergency cord and begged her to speak impromptu. It is said people waited hours on foot to catch a glimpse of Fatima Jinnah. Her greatest advantages were her legacy as a politically active founding member of the nation and being the Quaid’s sister who had detached herself from the political conflicts that had plagued Pakistan after its Founder’s death. But the sight of this dynamic lady moving in the streets of big cities, rural towns and on train stops of a Muslim majority country was both moving and unique. The crowds hailed her as their leader and called her the rightful heir of Quaid; the chantings of Mother of The Nation were heard far and wide. Her campaign generated tremendous public enthusiasm. She drew enormous crowds in all cities of East and West Pakistan In her rallies Jinnah argued that, by coming to terms with India on the Indus Water dispute, Ayub had surrendered control of the rivers to India. Fatima Jinnah lost the election but it was a narrow win for Ayub Khan attained by vote rigging. More over, it’s believed that had the elections been held via direct ballot, Fatima Jinnah would have won. The Electoral College consisted of only 80,000 Basic Democrats, who were easily manipulated. These have been the findings of historians, investigative media reports and this election did not conform to international standards.

Interestingly Fatima Jinnah defeated Ayub Khan in two of Pakistan’s largest cities, Karachi (Pakistan) and Dhaka (now Bangladesh). During the election campaign, Ayub Khan gathered support of “those Muslim Ulema who were of the view that Islam does not permit a woman to be the head of an Islamic state.” This sort of propaganda against a woman leader of her stature was uncalled for, but very commonly used resort by patriarchal and insecure men throughout history.

01isbs-PAK-JINN_01_1976420e

Despite the fact that she lost the election, the importance of this election lay in the fact that a woman was contesting the highest political office of the country. The orthodox religious political parties, including the Jamaat-i-Islami led by Maulana Maududi, which earlier had repeatedly declared that a woman could not hold the highest office of a Muslim country also had modified their stance to support her Presidency candidature.

Through her life’s example and her battles with power hungry men, Fatima Jinnah laid the foundation for the women of Pakistan to aspire and follow into her footsteps.

There are three things common between this iconic lady and myself.

We both have been born in the city of Karachi.

We both aren’t scared to speak our mind.

We both believe sincerely in working for the glory of Pakistan.

Pakistan Zindabad!

First published on August 17.2015

South East Asia News

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‘ The Online Series on FM Mulla’s & Taliban Insurgency – Part One ‘

Illegal FM radio stations, illiteracy, religion and the governance system introduced in 2001 have aided the growth of Islamic militancy in the Swat Valley, according to the 2010 research report “A Survey of Perceptions about the Drivers of Conflict in Swat” by a Peshawar based Regional Institute of Policy Research and Training (RIPORT).

Khalid Aziz, heads the institute that is looking into certain grave areas of concern that arose after a decades old privatization of media and the “communication boom.” Suddenly number of new media outlets started to grow on a rapid scale across the country, in particular I will talk today about the FM radio stations that have been a strong tool used by the Taliban and militant groups in their anti State agendas. Please see this graph 1.

1_19

Television and Radio Popularity in Pakistan

Over all, radio is the most popular medium in both urban and rural based Pakistan, since its birth in 1947 with state-run Radio Pakistan announcement of the independence of Pakistan on Aug 13, 1947 at 11:59 pm in Urdu, followed by a similar announcement in English. It is considered a running school for media and journalism industry and the love of radio listenership continues till date.

Other crucial reasons include:

  1. Millions of illiterate Pakistanis in rural, impoverished or hard-to-access areas – continue to have very limited news media options therefore radio is a huge source for information dissemination and keeping village based people updated with the current happenings.
  2. Pakistan suffers from acute shortage of power, with 10 – 12 hours power shut down, therefore despite its economic progress, television and print media are still not doable options due to their dependency on electric power. Also in many areas, there are no or very few television cable operators.
  3. The north-west regions and its tribal agencies continue to stay under military conflict, including proxy warfare under Pakistan-US-Afghanistan NATO led agreements, with the TTP, LeT etc groups.
  4. Severe damage of infrastructure, displacement and instability in daily lives have created vulnerable, isolated and challenging odds for populations.
  5. There aren’t many sources of entertainment and information in this region. FM radio is an easy and in some cases the only – option people have.

This is where the Taliban stepped in, to cater this niche of population with their creative imagination bordering on the evil. In Taliban and other militant groups strong presence regions, its is easy to cater to the information starved people by putting a mic in the hands of a radical mullah broadcasting the message of hate and Taliban’s version of entertainment. See graph II for the locations deemed to have been under/ continued strong presence of the Taliban groups.

Taliban Strong Hold Areas in North West Pakistan, source BBC

A poor person just needs a small radio set to reduce his boredom by listening on.

The research report’s in-depth analysis of the Swat Valley’s case with its FM radio stations run by TTP groups, were a timely warning to the government to improve security and provide reforms to deal with the situation in Swat but due to lack of political will, external interference and pro-Taliban sentiment the cycle of death and destruction continues till date.

Taliban Run Radio Stations Propaganda’s

Things continued to go downhill in Swat Valley and soon this menace of illegal radio stations spread across other tribal location including Buner, Waziristan, Charsaddah, Mingora, and so on.

The militants use air waves to broadcast propaganda against their opponents and Western governments. These clerics popularly known as “FM mullahs” condemn everyone and everything that goes against their interpretation of religion.

Illiterate women and men sitting inside their homes in far-flung villages listen on a daily level to conservative sermons on women-related issues and other day-to-day affairs on air. The sermons also promote that discussing women issues like rape and domestic violence etc are not to be discussed because it goes against their imaginations of cultural and Islamic values. Other shows advise men on following a strict code of conduct with their women and to prohibit women from stepping outside homes. These suppressing of women messages are well received by patriarchal and male oriented Pushtun men hailing from village backgrounds.

Another damaging effect of these transmissions is the indoctrination against the anti-polio campaign that led to the failure of national polio campaign. Taliban’s offensive against the polio immunization program highlights the success of TTP and other sectarian militant groups against the involved health workers and security personnel working on giving health care to children. The Taliban run radio stations have time and again issued fatwa against female health workers in Swat and Malakand.

I will highlight two fatwas in particular: 1…. One called the presence of women in public spaces a form of indecency, and instructed that it “was a Muslim man’s duty to kidnap the woman’s health workers when they paid home visits, to marry them forcibly even if they were already married women, or to use them as sexual slaves.” Another similar Taliban decree declared that it was morally illegal for Muslim women to work for wages.

Pakistan Electronic Media and Regulatory Authority

It is not possible that illegal stations can continue to run unchecked without any governing bodies. Established in 2002, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority is independent federal institution responsible for regulating and issuing channel licenses for establishment of the mass-media culture, print and electronic media.

PEMRA’s monitoring reports on illegal radio stations have shed light on extremely grave concerns for human rights issues within the country. Its says that further growing trend of extremism in parts of the NWFP is negating the government’s efforts to portray a soft image of Pakistan abroad. The governing body noted that some 62 illegal FM stations in settled areas while 49 others are being operated from the Federally- Administered Tribal Areas and Provincially-Administered Tribal Areas (Fata and Pata). Almost all are under the control of radical clergymen from Madressahs and mosques.

An under staffed Pemra, has been taking actions against illegal FM operators with the help of the provincial governments. But there are many challenges.. It is impossible to close down illegal FM radio stations because local technicians re-manufacture the equipment for only Rs10,000 or Rs15,000. ($150 – $200)

Last year, the regulatory body’s counter measures include : stopping the illegal up-linking by three channels. PEMRA raided more than 21,000 cable TV operators and 2,803 systems were seized. It also issued penalties worth millions were imposed on TV, radio and cable operators. Nearly 10 illegal FM radio stations preaching hate and extremism were shut down.

To know about the nefarious personalities behind these illegal radio stations and the content analysis of their Broadcasting Content, please keep a lookout for The Human Lens’s part II of the series “Taliban Insurgency|Fiascoes of the FM Mullahs.”

South East Asia News:

Disclaimer: This article is not written by ACE NEWS GROUP. The original source of this article can be found here:

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AMERICA: ‘ US Funding IS Terror on Pakistani Soil ‘

Last month, Pakistan shared crucial information with top US officials, including Mr. John Kerry on the matter of international funding for ISIS, Pakistan group on what is actually my home soil. The Washington financing of terrorism is nothing new, but these startling revelations come at point in time, when Obama and most of the first world are actually contemplating a full-scale global war against Islam.

Among the details shared with US include the mandate of a Pakistani-Syrian, Yousaf al Salafi, an IS operative and highly dangerous suspect.  Al- Salafi is alleged to have been arrested last year in Lahore, Pakistan, but this information was kept confidential throughout this time. And during the investigations, “Yousaf al Salafi revealed that he was getting funding – routed through America – to run the organization in Pakistan and recruit young people to fight in Syria.” 

Al Salafi also allegedly confessed to recruiting jihadists for the Syrian jihad and has received about $600 per person. It wad further revealed that he had operated inside Pakistan with the help of a local accomplice, who was reportedly the Imam of a mosque. It also emerged that Al Salafi entered Pakistan through Turkey five months ago. Earlier, it was reported that he crossed into Turkey from Syria and was caught there. However, he managed to escape from Turkey and reached Pakistan to establish IS in the region.

Also citizens from different countries including Afghanistan, India, Libya and Pakistan itself are being recruited by IS to fight in Syria. Interestingly, the IS is also paid from a torrent of fighters, arms, equipment, and cash flowing from NATO territory in Turkey.

The exact nature of the monetary funding sources still remains to be seen and these matter has been discussed among the top officials of both Pakistan and USA recently with US Secretary of State John Kerry on his recent trip to Islamabad.

With the growing ISIS terror on global front, local media has discussed the rising influence of Islamic State and the several incidents in cities of Lahore and Multan where Islamic State flags and graffiti were seen publicly. While Pakistani authorities indicate that local militants including Pakistan Taliban TTP would be opposing the Islamic State, it does nothing for the fact that IS operatives like Al Salafi and other are becoming successful due to foreign funding.

The IS terror is a major problem that the Muslim world must urgently address for our own sakes, and on the pother hand the West can help by stopping its historical pandering and support of Middle East’s Wahabi tyrants who spread this extremism that is destroying countless countries, including Pakistan.

Al Salafi’s arrest is a lip service, catching and eliminating an occasional militant leader in raids, drone and special-forces strikes is not really the solution.

The fight against ISIS and Al-Qaeda is deeply ironic since these organizations were created and are sustained, in part, by Western funds that are handed over to the Saudis and Gulf Arab nations for oil purchase. And if we continue down this road, it may well be a never-ending war.

The House of Saud is working against the best interests of the Muslim world, it has helped to unleash its Wahabi agenda and is blatant support for the Salafi movements that are a huge obstacle for a poor and fragile Muslim state like Pakistan, and for Muslim communities worldwide.

As US had to dispel the impression that it is financing the group for its own interests, continues to portray itself as “at war with ISIS,” going as far as bombing Syrian territory while claiming it must now train more militants to topple Assad’s regime, but on other hand, it’s ineffectual in stopping the funding of these organisations, which is being routed through the US  from its own borders into the hands of its implacable enemy. This also reminds of a similar conundrum in Charlie Hedbo’s free France that is participating in military operations aimed at both toppling the Syrian government and allegedly fighting ISIS – yet claims to be unable to stop thousands of its own citizens from leaving its borders to join ISIS’ ranks.

It will be interesting to note if US reacts to the Pakistani leaks on Yousaf Al Salafi and the rise of IS terror, however it seems unlikely. The unfortunate probability is that the farce of War on Terror” will continue, with the US propping up ISIS, using it both as impetus to funnel more cash and weapons that shall intentionally and intentionally – end up in ISIS’ hands.Point to ponder? 

Yousaf al Salafi getting funding routed through America to run IS organization in Pakistan and recruit young people to fight in Syria.  

The Writer from the East: 

Source: 

South East Asia News 

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PAKISTANI WOMEN’S DAY: ‘ THE FIGHT CONTINUES SINCE 1983 ‘

On February 12, it was an historic and eventful day in the history of Pakistani women and its observed as “National Women Day” in my country to mark the catastrophic events that took place on 12 February 1983.

This was when we Pakistani women were dismissed as nonentities within the country and under special assistance of so called democratic foreign powers that colluded towards the devastating long term effects on us, events of and around 12 February will never be forgotten by any Pakistani women in her life time.

It was on 12 Febuary 1983 when some 100 Pakistani women activists took out a rally in defiance and against Gen Ziaul Haq’s religio-military dictatorship in the city of Lahore. The women activists defied the military order against public gatherings, to protest Gen. Zia’s anti women laws that upheld the testimony of a male as equal to that of two females in a court of law. Lest we forget, the Law of Evidence was among a series of laws that Gen. Zia imposed in the name of Islam.

All this was done with the supreme model of democratic ally USA, because with this partnership General Zia needed to appear devout Muslim in order to prove his credibility to lead the “nefarious jihad” in Afghanistan. For Washington has propped up Gen. Zia in order to counter the Russians in Afghanistan. Their strategy of turning the Afghan’s war of national liberation into an Islamic jihad or holy war against the “God-less Communists” made Pakistan the front liner state in this nefarious and horrifying war that is still going on in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Today is it not funny to hear ignorant westerners having the gall to inform that my country is a primitive piece of joke, as western hands are also partly instrumental in shaping today’s Pakistan as it is, appalling for women.

Another law imposed by the the military dictator was the Hudood Ordinance, including the Zina (adultery) law that made sex outside marriage a criminal offence, and rape a private offence. So a woman who had been raped had to prove her innocence or be accused of adultery. (Face palming). Now these Wahabi-inspired ideology and legal system that Gen. Zia introduced resulted into sky rocketing number of women inside prisons and these were mainly on girls and women. Some women were whipped, however the higher courts over turned all the sentences of stoning to death that some lower courts prescribed, but Taliban who back then were the “mujahedeen” army of God didn’t prescribe to this and continued to demand their version of Sharia imposition on Afghanistan and Pakistan. That includes stoning and flogging women to death in public, which are in reality Middle Eastern barbaric customs imported forcefully on the South Asian soil.

This battle is far from over today, this is the battle that angers my heart beyond words can describe. I cannot sit and do nothing. And this exactly how the women rights activists felt back then, a group including famous lawyersAsma Jahangir, Shehla Zia and other forwarded a petition to the Lahore High Court Chief Justice as a protest against the discriminatory laws. And then defying military ordinance, 100 of them stepped on the roads, flanked and supported by Habib Jalib, a veterinary Pakistani revolutionary poet, left-wing activist politician who opposed martial law and state oppression. They were attacked by the police with batons and many were beaten including Habib Jalib who perhaps was being given a lesson for his never ending support to women rights cause and Pakistani feminism.

That day women were beaten, and mass arrests took place. But the message since then has remained the same that we the Pakistani women will continue our struggle for rights as equal citizens, and for a society upholds, in theory and practice, its obligations to all citizens.

Today the military dictator who started this has long gone, but the evil forces he unleashed and nurtured have turned into a never ending nightmare for the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Others carried on his work including Gen Musharaf etc who stayed silent as the multiplication of actors including the dangerous Afghan Taliban, Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda and so on.

Today, it is far more important for human rights concerns to separate religion from the state, completely and effectively. For in the name of Islam, these groups attack unarmed civilians particularly women and children, desecrated graves, beheaded innocents and in past two decades undergone expansion of their theatrical war to attack and threaten girls schools and polio campaign in Pakistan.

This is simply not a version of Islam we can accept at any cost and we refuse to surrender by being bullying in name of religion.

We, the Pakistani women resolve to condemn all atrocities of religious extremism, of traditional discrimination against women and minorities, and of all hegemonic forces of women’s oppression.

As we have celebrated Pakistani Women Day, and annually renew our pledge for winning this fight, not just for the sake of Pakistani girls and women, but for our rightful place in the society and world peace order.

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Agents of Change |My Dream For Every Little Girl

The Girls’education progress has remained marginalized in the political and general discourse of Pakistan. There is no denying the very fact that there are parts of the country that have the lowest literacy rates in the world, this fact constantly pinches me with passing times.

As a nation, we are falling and failing behind due to two main issues POVERTY and EDUCATION.  

The time has come to stop denying the very fact that education lifts whole communities out of poverty forever. Inside turbulent Pakistan, Oxfam is doing whatever it takes to get more children into class by lobbying with governments, training teachers and also building schools in rural areas, which will provide little children and girls opportunity to attend school. Watch this sensitive video on girl’s education, this is my dream for every little girl and let’s work towards making it a reality.

After-all, educated women are agents of change and Pakistan is in dire need of a social change that empowers its women.

Posted in Gender and Women Issues

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#education-2, #girls, #poverty

Trying to Understand Journey of Glasgow Girl to an ISIS Bride

With the recent surge of ISIS terror spreading across the globe, yet again we are left to pick the pieces after the chaotic collusion of the rising religious fundamentalism.

Before I go further, let it be clear that I DO NOT, REPEAT DO NOT support any form of terrorism in particular that which is done with the name of anybody’s God, Allah, Bhagwan and Superior Being.

Be it the historical bloody Crusades waged by Christianity or the current futile Jihad trolling by Islamists, all this is wrong and let it be understood once and for all.

As a Muslim feminist, the news that many sisters are leaving their lives to join ISIS as recruit brides is extremely depressing and equally disturbing. When I heard of this 20-year-old British woman of Pakistani origin, left her home in Glasgow to move in Syria where she joined the ISIS and got married to an and ISIS fighter, I was really stunned into silence (something that doesn’t happen very often, I am told).

What made Aqsa Mahmood do what she did? What made her choose what she has chosen?

I want to comprehend this. I tell you I am just trying to understand her reasoning.

Why Did Aqsa Mahmood Go to Syria?

According to reports, Aqsa was reported missing in November but contacted her parents after reaching Syria and had maintained the connection through social media until stories of her involvement with the ISIS came out. It is understood that she traveled with a Canadian Muslim woman known only as Umm Haritha.

I fear that like Dr. Shams, Aqsa Mahmood too have had led different lives had they not set out on a never-ending path of violence and militancy. Did this young woman fall into the trap of helplessness that is being experienced by many angry Muslims on behalf of the wrong doings that are going on against Islam in this idiotic war of terror?

I fear much more greatly that Aqsa Mahmood too has ended up wasted her precious life for fake words and false promises. Her new life is leading into nothing but what she probably set out to change: death and destruction.

The parents of Aqsa Mahmood have been public is voicing their concerns and making a plea for her return. They say that one day Aqsa was home and next she was gone, in a poof. There was no involvement of recruiting tactics, no such organization brainwashing their daughter to do this. Yes, coming from a Muslim family, she was practicing usual religious norms and studying Islam at home.

Her peers too have come out to say that she was normal fun-loving woman, well-integrated into Scottish society and a remarkable college student.

In short, Aqsa Mahmood’s future looked as bright as the sky stars on a clear night.

SO. Why a young bright woman like Aqsa left Scotland to become a Jihadi bride?

In a recent press meeting, her father Muzaffar Mahmood, said that “Our daughter is brainwashed and deluded and helping those engaged in genocide. She may believe that the jihadists of Isis are her new family but they are not and are simply using her.”

Further more; they have made an emotional appeal recently stating that Aqsa’s actions have not just betrayed them, but also Muslim community and the whole people of Scotland. They have urged their daughter to come back from the path she has chosen. The path she chose leads to destruction and despair only.

Aqsa Mahmood’s family members were of the opinion that like many other young Muslims, their young daughter was naturally angry and frustrated at the loss of innocent life in the Middle East and the Syrian conflict. But, they are at a loss to fathom her choice of path for lending a helping hand.

It is heart breaking at so many levels, because Aqsa Mahmood was someone who might have ended up with an opportunity to achieve so much constructively, including helping war-struck Muslims, through volunteering, emergency assistance work or refugee aid with some humanitarian organization. The possibilities were endless, but only if we had no lost Aqsa to the ISIS.

In my mind, there is no doubt of the depth of compassion and strong will of justice that made the very fabric of Aqsa Mahmood’s character.

To me, the whole case of Aqsa Mahmood points at a bigger more unspoken of issue at global level. Aqsa is one of the countless recruits that are young, disillusioned and yearning for a better change.

Only God knows how many more Aqsa’s will be lost to this irreversible destination before the we the world will really wake up. Wake up to the fact that our global youth are forced through a feeling of political and social hopelessness to embrace extremism and fight.

And that we all have our role in forcing them towards this darkness and destruction.

posted in Emergencies and Conflict

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