Showing posts with label Pakistan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pakistan. Show all posts

Apr 24, 2022

Western Union Employees in Pakistan ask for Religious Orientation

In the aftermath of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, a lot of Afghanistanis* fled to Pakistan. Among the them were the Hazaras who escaped the Taliban and other Sunni extremist groups who are systematically targeting them. I have been in touch with a few people in Islamabad who are SIV applicants. Some of the individuals have been facing challenges especially with receiving funds from overseas. They told me that the Western Union employees in different Pakistani banks in Islamabad have asked them whether they are Christians because people with Christian names from overseas wired money to them. They told me that they assured the employees that they are Muslims, but they were still rejected on the grounds that Christian believers from Europe and America are sending money to convert them. This incident occurred at least for three individuals who are Hazaras.

When I heard it, I was totally flabbergasted and didn't know how to react. My advice to them was to ask their Pakistani landlords or the guesthouse owners to get the money. It worked for them but obviously, this was not a single incident until I came upon a blog post and a Facebook post about a similar issue. It appears that the Pakistani employees of Western Union in Islamabad have been interrogating other refugees as well, mostly Hazaras refugees, because they stand out due to their Asiatic look. 

Here is the blog post by William Harvey, a music teacher who taught violin at Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) from 2010 to 2014. and I copy and paste part of it here with block quote, but if you want to check out the original post, click here.

I am furious to learn that Western Union employees are illegally imposing religious tests in order to release funds that have been normally sent through your service. 
On April 6, 2022, I received an email from Mr. I. He is an Afghan resident in Pakistan and is one of 326 of a list of Afghan musicians that my nonprofit organization, Cultures in Harmony, is helping find freedom and security following the takeover of Afghanistan by the violently anti-music Taliban on August 15, 2021. In Mr. I's April 6 email, he writes: "up to now, I haven’t picked it up [the Western Union transfer Cultures in Harmony sent him]. They told me. If this money transferred from an Islamic country. We can pay you. But not Christian country."
This seemed so outlandish that I was inclined to dismiss it as a fabrication. However, today via WhatsApp, Mr. H, another Afghan on that list, informed me the following: "I went to a bank offering Western Union they didn’t give me the money. I went out of green zone to a red zone for Hazaras. There is one main office of Western Union, kept me there for hours interrogating that why the sender is a foreigner. He must be a Muslim. According to Pakistan’s rule a foreigner(Foreign Name) can not send money to a Muslim! ( they think something is fishy fishy)."

*Afghanistani is someone from Afghanistan vs Afghan that is a tribe name for Pashtuns. 

Feb 4, 2021

A lesson to be learned from the miners in Pakistan

This AFP news published on Dawn says that after the 10 Hazara miners were killed a few weeks ago, "Pakistan coal miners reluctant to work after Hazara killings." Around 15,000 Hazara miners stopped going to work and as a result, around 200 mines are about to close or slash their production.

The reason for Hazara's reluctance to return to work is obvious. They are not secure and their return to work means their might be potentially more attacks because there is no guarantee for their safety. The Hazaras in Pakistan have been systematically persecuted by various extremist Islamist groups and the Pakistani government has done very little to stop it.

Now that the businesses are getting closed and people are out of work, the government eventually understands what such precarity means and what it would do in the long run in the province of Balochistan. The Hazaras in Pakistan should turn their reluctance into a movement and use it to pressure the federal government to beef up security in their areas.

But guess what happens if Hazaras in Afghanistan takes this lesson and use it for their own struggle against the Afghan government's aggression. If Hazara leaders and elders call on the Hazara men and women, who are now in the battlefield fighting against the Taliban, to come home, the government would stop its onslaught on the Hazaras in Behsud and else where.

This is a trump card that can be used against this government for any type of negotiations. Hazaras would lose nothing and won't go hungry if their sons and daughters leave the army, in fact, they save their lives, not getting killed in vain by the Taliban.

Jan 13, 2014

ISI’s Plot at Indian Consulate in New York

The Indian diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, who was arrested on a slavery offense in New York, finally left the United States for her home country. At the V.I.P aisle at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, hanging on his father's shoulder, Khobragade complained about her cavity search by police in New York: “They put their hands here,” pointing to her crotch “and here,” pointing to her cleavage, “I didn’t understand what they wanted from me.” Said Khobragade.

A journalist who belonged to the National Democratic Alliance asked Khobragade: “Don’t you think your case is being knowingly confused by the ruling party in India that no official has regretted so far?” While Khobragade tried to get her strength back and find an answer, another journalist asked: “Ms. Khobragade, don’t you think your case is a modern day slavery, which is a norm and widely practiced in India and deeply engrained in Indian psych that they don’t think it is wrong?” Bewildered, Khobragade, in the meantime, looking chagrined, she angrily tried to answer the question, but her father, Uttam Khobragade, intervened: “It was a plot by the Pakistan ISI to prepare the ground for another attack on Indian soil by Lashkar-e-Taiba, like the 2008-Mumbai Attacks. Don’t worry, this time, it will be on the U.S. Embassy.” He was reminding the journalists of India’s retaliation against the United States in which the Indian government removed security barriers to U.S. embassy as anger over the diplomat's arrest.

Uttam Khobragade said to media that the slavery charge against his daughter was a plot by the Pakistani intelligence service in New York. Uttam added that at first, he believed that his daughter’s ordeal was a complicated machination by the CIA, but he finally came to the conclusion that Sangeeta Richard was an ISI agent.

“Slave,” Sangeeta Richard, who earlier this week spoke to journalists in New York City, denied the Uttamn’s claim that she has been an ISI agent. She told the media that she was forced by Ms. Khobragade to work 168 to 190 hours a week, with no breaks for sleep, calls, and meals. “I told her a lot of time that madam, I’m unhappy, too much work, no time to do my things.” Ms. Richards continued while a mood of despondency turned her face pale: “In two years, no sex, nothing. Every time I tried with my husband, Philip in Delhi, over the phone, madam interrupted.” Said, salve, Sangeeta Richard.

On Friday, January 11, the Indian government welcomed the return of Devyani Khobragade, and promised to appoint Ms. Khobragade as the Minister of Modern Slavery of India.

May 3, 2011

Killing Osama: Would it Have Been Possible Without ISI Help?

Many people are writing and discussing the outcome of Osama Bin Laden’s death, will his death make the world safe and is this a final nail in the coffin of Al Qaeda? These are part of the big questions on his death which have been raised during the last 48 hours. Yet, there is a crucial question that no one touched on: was this operation inside Pakistan possible without the ISI assistance?

The answer for this question is simply no. The reality that lies behind this operation must have been caused by a deep rift inside the Pakistani intelligence service otherwise this operation would not be possible without cooperation between the ISI and CIA. It is now quite crystal clear for everyone that Osama was under the safeguard of ISI for the past few years. The fortified million dollar compound in which he dwelt and its location next to a military academy makes it clear that he was enjoying living under ISI protection.

The ISI has so far simply said that it did not know about the operation, and it is possible that they are contemplating how to find proper answers to the question: how is it possible for American forces to fly two helicopters from Afghanistan to Pakistan and launch an operation under the ISI’s nose, only a few kilo meters away from Islamabad? This incident definitely brought shame to Pakistani intelligence service and they must be now working on how to find this rift, and understand what was going wrong inside the organization.
The U.S forces could have used drone attacks to kill Osama Bin Laden, instead of risking their lives through ground operation. It would be less controversial and also less humiliating to Pakistan authorities. Anyway, it is a complex issue and it is too soon to tell what made things so easy for the U.S. Navy SEALs to manage this operation so successfully.