HONORING CONGRESSMAN BRAD SHERMAN: A CELEBRATION
ISLAMIC EXTREMISM + SINDHI WOMEN REMEMBERING THE BELOVED MOHAMMAD ALI LAGHARI 1
C.P.E.C AND ITS IMPACT
CONTENTS 3 PAKISTAN’S NUCLEAR WEAPONS Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program has become a major issue on the world stage.
5 THE CONSTITUENT P.O.V. Part of our work at SAPAC is to lobby our congressman to think carefully about how their votes on U.S. Foreign policy are affecting the Sindh people. We met with them to discuss this matter.
9 ISLAMIC EXTREMISM IN SINDH
A look at how Islamic Extremism has been on the rise in Sindh since 9/11 and how the United Stated can play in role in improving the conditions of people who are affected by such groups.
12 SINDH ON THE HILL Current legislation and interests of the Sindhi PAC.
13 C.P.E.C. How is the China Pakistan Economic Corridor having an impact on Sindh and Pakistan?
15 IN REMEMBERANCE Celebrating the life of Chacha Mohammad Ali Laghari
17 CELEBRATING CONGRESSMAN »» p.7
An account of the Sindhi Foundation’s event to honor the advocacy done by the Californian Congressman
CONTRIBUTORS NATALIE CASEY-SANGER POLA DOBRZYNSKI KHALID HASHMANI ETHAN TRUCKER HANNA ZINN Note: The views presented in this publication are of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect the views of S.A.P.A.C. 3
Pakistan and their Nuclear Weapon Arsenal By ethan trucker
In 1972, Pakistanâ€™s nuclear program was established by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Minister for Fuel, Power, and Natural Resources. It was initiated shortly following the loss of East Pakistan (Bangladesh) in the 1971 war with India in a meeting with Pakistani scientists in the city of Multan. In 1974, the program gained momentum after India began testing its own nuclear device. By 1975, the program acquired sensitive uranium enrichment technology and expertise with the arrival of Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, a German-trained metallurgist. With him came knowledge of gas centrifuge technology that he had acquired through his position at a classified uranium enrichment plant in the Netherlands. Khan was put in charge of building, quipping, and oper-
ating Pakistanâ€™s Kahuta nuclear facility, built in 1976. Through AQ Khan, Pakistan created an extensive clandestine network that was able to obtain the necessary materials and technology for uranium enrichment capabilities. There are many potential effects of nuclear weaponry and energy on the province of Sindh and the Sindhi people. Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan, is the economic and cultural hub of the country and is a large target in case of nuclear conflict. Additionally, the government has a nuclear power facility only 20 miles away from Karachi downtown where at least 7,000 people live in every square mile of the distance. One of the most major concerns is the effect of natural disasters. The plant is located in earthquake and tsunami prone areas;
if there were to be a natural disaster, Karachi has no way to cope with it or to contain the potential damage done to the nuclear plant. Nuclear waste is another major concern; tons of liquid and solid nuclear waste has been created by the nuclear power plant. The Sindhi provincial government and Pakistani government have no proper way of disposing it; many are afraid that the waste will just end up into the city. Lastly, there are no safety controls, especially in Karachi, and there are fears that the nuclear waste can easily get into the hands of extremists. Another major concern for Sindh Province is a possible invasion, and destruction, of the province in case of war. Due to its location next to the border with India, Sindh has been invaded by India in many of the IndoPakistani wars. For example, in the 1971 war, India was able to capture approximately 5,000 kilometers of territory in Punjab and Sindh provinces. Pakistani authorities fear a major Indian armored thrust into Sindh if the ongoing conflict in Kashmir ever escalates. Due to this fear, the Pakistanis have developed battlefield nuclear weapons. Developed after the Kargil War, the battlefield nuclear weapon is a localized nuclear weapon that is supposed to be used against rapid-deployment military forces. They are supposed to be primarily used against concentrations of troops and armor. The Pakistani government then hopes that international pressure on India will restrain it from escalating the confrontation to a full-blown nuclear conflict. However, there are many downsides to these weapons, especially for Sindh. Theyâ€™re constantly at risk for theft, diversion or unauthorized use, especially since they need to
be under the control of the local commanders in Sindh. If a local commander is not always on guard against theft, these nuclear devices can easily be taken by extremist elements. In case of war, Sindh would be on the frontline due to Indiaâ€™s conventional superiority. Large parts of the province would be rapidly taken by Indian forces with Pakistani forces utilizing the battlefield nuclear weapons. With these strikes, large parts of Sindh would be destroyed and become uninhabitable, not even mentioning the human damage. The potential dangers of nuclear conflict in Sindh is extremely high and should be noted in any potential scenarios. 5
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There is so much connotation behind the word lobbying. The word conjures images of big business, corruption, and corporations funneling millions of dollars into Congress. While this can happen, lobbying is also a means for constituents to play an active role in their government. Meeting with the people who represent you is a great way to push progress on an issue that is important to you as a citizen. One of the main ways we advocate for the Sindhi people is through meeting with representatives to make them aware of the numerous state sponsored human rights abuses experienced by them. The Sindhi people have a long and rich history which provide context for their struggles, something that cannot easily be articulated via email. Setting up meetings with representatives, while frustrating at times, is not impossible. After all, itâ€™s in their job description to listen to the people who elected them into office. After reaching out and consistently following up, we secured four meetings with a variety of senators and congressman. It was easiest to coordinate with representatives from our respective districts, but we also were able to meet with delegates from Pennsylvania to California. We were also lucky enough to be joined by the President of the Sindh United Party, who had traveled all the way from Pakistan to speak on the issues from an insider perspective. Visiting Capitol Hill is personally a very exciting experience. After all, we were entering the place is which some very powerful people make decisions which impact an entire nation. It seemed to be purposefully intimidating, with the metal detector looming over us and the security guards sternly mov-
ving along the line of people waiting to get in. Our first meeting was with Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. The seven of us shuffled into to his office and waited patiently for our chance to speak with the Senator. To my dismay, we were ushered into a room with a staffer who would instead be listening to what we had to say. Although she was attentive and responsive to what we had to say, I could not help but be discouraged that we could not have met with Senator Casey himself. After a comprehensive session detailing the issues and presenting the bills in session which had the potential to affect the Sindhi people, we moved on to our next meeting. Next we met with the office of my own Congressman, Representative Lee Zeldin of the first district of New York. Although Representative Zeldin and I do not share many of the same views, I was eager to make him aware that his constituent cared about. Unfortunately, we were met with another staffer. I understand that this is a particularly busy time for our delegates, and I trust that their staffers are capable of relaying information to them. However, the opportunity to speak directly with someone who is actually casting the votes is invaluable. This meeting went very smoothly, each of us already having gone through our spiels once before. I enjoyed meeting with this particular staffer, and I got to speak with him briefly. It turned out we were from relatively close areas, and his demeanor and appearance reminded me of home. We consequently were scheduled to meet with Congresswoman Elise Stefanik. I was unsurprised when we were sat down with yet another staffer, who offered us a variety of 7
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Pepsi products. Unbeknownst to me, the office of each representative is stocked with food and drink manufactured in their respective districts. Our meeting went the same as the previous two, until we were about to walk out, to run into Congresswoman Stefanik. She said she was planning to pop in, and what started as a brief overview of the issues turned into a sweeping review of everything we had just articulated to her staffer. She seemed extremely interested and commended us for paying a visit to her office. She was particularly responsive to our point that U.S. funding to Pakistan should be conditional, and that funneling millions of dollars into a country that places it in the hands of extremists is not the way to help the people who need it most. Overall, it was an overwhelmingly positive experience. It felt productive and also validating to see some female representation in government. Congresswoman Stefanik is the youngest representative ever elected to congress. Our day culminated in the office of representative Adam Schiff, of California’s 28th congressional district. My supervisor explained to me that this meeting would go quite differently than the rest, as the congressman was well versed in the issue of the Sindhi people, and was actually a member of the Sindh caucus. Several photos of the congressman with President Obama decorated the room, and it comfortably seated the nine members of our party. To my surprise, I was suddenly shaking the hand of the congressman himself. He greeted my supervisor and her husband with a hug, and I couldn’t help but feel that this was a man who cared deeply about what we had to say. 8
Pictured: Fati Gul, Executive Director of SAPAC Jeffrey Lowenstein, Adam Schiff’s Chief of Staff Natalie Casey-Sanger and Ethan Trucker, Interns
After some discussion the congressman needed to leave to vote, and we followed up with his chief of staff. Tall and gravelly voiced, this staffer made me realize more than any of the others that each one was a small slice of the district they worked for. This man seemed to come straight out of Beverly Hills, California. He assured us that Congressman Schiff would be carefully reviewing our points.
I had always known in theory that politicians are a body of people who serve those who have elected them into office, but I could not really fully comprehend that until I saw it firsthand. Each representative serves their constituents differently, some better than others. It was imperative for me to see that in action to reinforce the importance of consciously electing people who will best meet my needs and the needs of my community. As election day gets closer and closer, I urge you to vote! Every election is as important as the presidential one, and it is critical that we have people representing us who care about what we have to say.
Pictured Left to Right: Mr. Syed Jalal Mahmoudd, Presudent of the Sindhi United Party,
NA TAL IE C A
Islamic extremism is rampant in the Sindh province of Pakistan. The Sindhi people have been victims of persecution from the Pakistani government for years, and in recent years have experienced heightened abuse at the hands of Islamic extremist groups. Islamic extremism has increased its influence in Sindh following Western crackdown on terrorism, resulting in a network of interacting organizations preying on the vulnerability of different minority groups within and surrounding the Sindh region. Many of the crimes against the Sindhi people go unreported, but there is much that the United States can do to work towards improving the situation of the Sindhi people and to promote stability and peace in Pakistan. Groups like Lashkar10
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-i-Taaiba, the MQM, Al Qaeda, and Tehreeki-Taliban are primarily political groups—they use religion as a front and excuse for their actions. Extremist groups go against many Islamic beliefs when they murder and destroy, and groups who support them share their political motivations—this is not as much a conflict of faith as it is a power grab.
Conquest and conversion by Islamic powers has long
been a part of Sindh history; for centuries, different Islamic empires came across Sindh in their expansionary efforts, and the Sindh province was forced to become a part of Islamic Pakistan in 1947. Though there are many Sindhi people who are Muslim by choice, different groups— including the Pakistani government, Tehreeki-Taliban, Al Qaeda, Lashkar-i-Taaiba, MQM
. and Jamaat-ud-Dawahâ€”have employed a variety of tactics to forcefully convert these traditionally peaceful and accepting group of people. Though Islamist groups and Islamic extremism have existed in Pakistan and Sindh since the inception of this nation, there has been a drastic upswing in the violent and negative effects on civilians in recent yearsâ€”particularly since 2001, when the United States initiated a global crackdown on Islamic extremist groups. As action against terrorism in northern Pakistan has increased, many groups have moved into Sindh and other southern provinces to evade western anti-terror programs. Islamic extremist, terrorist, and militant groups have moved south and found Karachi and the rural areas of Sindh. Because the Pakistani government reallocates most foreign aid meant for Sindh, the region is also in poverty, making it particularly vulnerable to these groups. For example, madrassas are rampant in Sindh because they provide resources like basic resources like food, clothing and shelter to children; that these schools often indoctrinate their students is a secondary concern for those who donâ€™t have the resources to care for their children. Those people belonging to religious and ethnic minorities who found a peaceful home in Sindh have become targets for aggressive campaigns of violence and eradication by Islamic extremist groups. Minorities who are not attacked and/or murdered for their faith are processed and converted, mainly through madrassas, kidnapping and forced marriage to members of extremist groups; children are among the most heavily targeted for these practices.
The Pakistani government contributes to the popularization of extremist attitudes by implementing and upholding damaging legislation. The Blasphemy law, for example, makes the death penalty mandatory for those convicted of blasphemy. The Hudood Ordinance and even the Pakistani Constitution also contain language which, on the surface, seems to tolerate religious diversity but which is usually construed to persecute religious minorities. The Pakistani government has been reprimanded for such laws, and for its involvement in allowing and even funding the activities of extremists groups in Pakistan, but little has been done in response. Even where new laws or conditions are implemented, they are rarely actually practiced or do not address the problem sufficiently.
IMAGES SOURCED FROM DAILYMAIL.CO
The United States has a vested interest in the stability of Pakistan and the surrounding region, and in eradicating extremism both in this region and globally. And while the US has been an ally of Pakistan, and provides a great deal of aid to the nation, we have seen very little done to improve the quality of life for those whose human rights are so thoroughly and consistently abused. With the help of trusted friends in the US government, like Brad Sherman and the Sindh Caucus, progress has begun towards moving the US towards exacting real change in Pakistan. Following are some suggestions SAPAC has for how we can build on the good work being done.
WHAT CAN THE U.S. DO? Hold the Pakistani government accountable for its involvement with extremist Continue to make funding to the Pakistani government conditional, and provide materials for specific projects to prevent misuse of funding, support the development of entrepreneurial programs and creation of employment opportunities Support institutionalized, province-based equality in Pakistani government programs like the military Reassess foreign policy in Pakistan, angle away from security and the war on terror, and towards economic and social development and human rights campaigns. 12 IMAGE SOURCE: FLAGSONCARS.COM
By contacting your representatives and asking them to support these efforts to aid the Sindh people, you can make a difference in Congress! H.R. 6069: Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act. Sponsor: Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX-2) Co-Sponsor: Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA-48) Requires the United States government to make a formal statement about whether Pakistan is a state sponsor of terrorism; after the President makes this initial designation, the Secretary of State is required to give a follow-up report either explaining why Pakistan does or does not meet the legal criteria of a state sponsor of terrorism. Introduced and referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. S. 3125: Stop Terrorists Operational Resources and Money Act. Sponsor: Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA) Co-Sponsors: Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) The President is authorized to designate a country that is not doing enough work against terrorism financing as a “Jurisdiction of Terrorism Financing Concern.” The country then faces a variety of penalties, or is required to enter a capacity building agreement with the US to improve their work to end terrorist funding. Introduced and referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Sindhi Voice of America: In 2011, Congressman Brad Sherman added an amendment to the House Foreign Affairs bill which would have provided Voice of America with $1.5 billion for Sindhi language Programming. The bill was not passed. SAPAC now wishes to urge our friends in Congress, on the Sindh Caucus, and the Foreign Affairs Committee to consider a similar program in creating this year’s budget.
IMAGE SOURCE: CLKER.COM
C. HINA P. ASKISTAN E. CONOMIC C. ORRIDoR The China Pakistan Economic Corridor plan is one that will severely and negatively impact the Sindhi people of Pakistan. In the deal that China is trying to make with Pakistan, the Sindhi people will suffer by having their land taken from them, forcing them to move to a different region of Pakistan where they will be persecuted even more, and these people will be forced to help pay back a debt that will make them economically impoverished for decades to come. The proposed corridor starts in China and runs through Pakistan out toward the Arabian Sea. This corridor seems like a brilliant idea on paper: bringing thousands of jobs to Pakistan, creating economic development for the very impoverished nation, and giving Pakistan an ally
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in the region. While these positives are being used to sway public opinion about CPEC, many of the negative impacts are being suppressed in the media, which already happens too often. The negative impacts should outweigh the positives, but because China is such a powerful nation, these negatives often get overlooked. The people of Pakistan, most specifically the Sindh people, will be forced to go along with this development project because they have no voice in their own government. Pakistanâ€™s government is only looking at the economic positives that CPEC could bring to the region, the government is not looking at the long-term effects this Corridor will have on the region. Because of this project, Pakistan will be indebted to China, a debt that
will be extremely difficult to repay because of the high interest rate proposed by China. Pakistan is only looking at the short term impacts on the economy, and refusing to accept the consequences of accepting this deal. Recently, more and more public officials from Baluchistan, India, and Sindh are speaking out against this proposed project. Even as the building of this corridor begins, many high level officials are rejecting the idea and plans proposed by China. The Prime Minister of India has become very vocal in the past few months about his resistance to the building of the corridor because of the economic ramifications it would have on the people of Baluchistan and Sindh. This public outcry by important world leaders is important, but more people need to speak out about this issue. The debt that Pakistan would be in after CPEC is complete would be irreversible, Pakistan will be in debt to China for decades, maybe even a century. This debt will only grow because of the high interest rates that China knows Pakistan won’t be able to pay off. China is trying to become a powerhouse in Asia, and this taking over of Pakistan’s economic climate is just the first step. Steps need to be taken by Pakistan’s government to assure that these interest rates are fixed at a reasonable rate, and that people working in the Sindh province are not causing undo harm to the people already living there.
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CO D A R NGR E S S MA N B
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A CELEBRATION WITH THE SINDHI FOUNDATION SEPTEMBER 25TH, 2016 16
On Sunday, September 25th, 2016 the Sindhi Foundation held a dinner in honor of Congressman Brad Sherman. Both the Sindhi community and allies came together to celebrate both the strides which have been made in securing rights for the people of Sindh, and the people who have devoted their energies to this cause. Dr. Halepota started the conversation introducing SAPAC and the Sindhi Foundation in relation to the work Congressman Brad Sherman has done to raise awareness for their cause. Thanks to Congressman Sherman the Karachi Consulate can now be viewed in Sindhi. The Congressman has been brave about being vocal since the start of Sindhi’s relationship in 2009. There were many members of the community who shared their views on a variety of subjects, and three main speakers. Dr. Maqbool Halepota introduced Syed Jalal Mehmood Shah, who in addition to coming from a family of distinguished thinkers and leaders is himself the leader of the Sindh United Party. He was formerly the Sindh National Assembly Speaker in 1998-2000. Mr. Shah was raised in one of the most distinguished families in Sindh. He was at the event to discuss current issues in the Sindh region. As the leader of the Sindh United Party, the main focus is on ending discrimination based on color, gender, religion, creed, beliefs, and language. Their motto is “Live and Let Live”. There are three main issues that need to be taken care of: the alignment of religion with state affairs, the lack of recognition that Pakistan is a multinational nation, and the need to learn how to live and work with not only neighboring countries
but the world as well. Under Article 2 in the constitution, Pakistan is a Muslim state. By keeping the alignment between religion and state, Pakistan is constantly under threat for extremism. Pakistan needs global support, particularly the US, in order to maintain multinational identities. For all US aid to Pakistan, less money needs to go to the border and defense budget and more towards promoting peace, progress, and prosperity. Mr. Shah also believes that Pakistan needs to focus more on maintaining relationships with Afghanistan and Iraq and less about interfering in their affairs. The next speaker was Sufi Laghari, Executive Director of the Sindhi Foundation. Mr. Laghari discussed how lucky the Sindhi community was to have Congressman Sherman on their side. The community has “no worries” because Congressman Sherman will fight for their rights. Following Mr. Lagari, Congressman Brad Sherman spoke to the crowd. He explained how many americans have a misinterpretation of Islam and Muslims. They see people screaming “death to America” and believe that synonymous for Muslim beliefs. This is not true. If they visited Sindh they would realize how wrong this was. The government finds excuses for slow development, poverty, and corruption. They choose to embrace the jihadist form of Islam. Eventually the people will demand a government that respects human rights and doesn’t feel the need to oppress the people. Congressman Brad Sherman is frequently accused of being an American who is trying to undermine the territorial integrity of Pakistan. It is quite the opposite. Islamabad believes that the only way to 17
maintain territorial integrity is by controlling, oppressing, and pushing out the other cultures that have bought Pakistan together. This does not work. In recent history, Pakistan tried to oppress the now Bangladesh culture. It didnâ€™t work and Bangladesh became its own nation. After Congressman Brad Sherman spoke, he was presented with gifts from the honored guest, Mr. Rahghvir Singh Sodho, who had traveled all the way from Jodhpur, India to present them. He awarded the Congressman with a turban, as a sign of thanks and honor on behalf of the Sindhis. Congressman Brad Sherman will do what he can on behalf of the Sindhi community. He will work tirelessly to urge the State Department and Karachi Consulate to accept all legal documents in the Sindhi language starting with marriage licenses. USAID also needs to be analyzed regionally to make sure that the Sindh region is gaining its fair share of aid as well as ensuring the projects are proceeding effectively and efficiently. Another focus is making the Voice of America broadcast in the Sindhi language. At this point in his career, the State Department knows that when they have a meeting with Congressman Sherman they need to get updated on what is happening in Sindh. There is not a more important region of the world than Pakistan.
REMEMBERING CHACHA MOHAMMAD ALI LAGHARI As an activist Sindhi in Sindh in late sixties, I am not sure if I had met Chacha Mohammad Ali Laghari in those years. My best recollection is from January 2000 when I had the fortune of meeting him in Hyderabad. I was visiting my family, who live not far from his residence. I contacted him as Sufi Munawar had given some gifts for his family. During this short meeting, he and his family bestowed on me their legendary kindness and hospitality. During few hours of our kachahary, I learnt a great deal about the poor people of rural Sindh, their poverty, and their helplessness. I also discovered why people lovingly call him “Chacha”, which in Sindhi language means uncle. Indeed, like a real “Chacha”, he was more concerned about the welfare of poor people and Sindhi identity than the well-being of himself. 20
He was both nationalist and a passionate advocate of underprivileged and he devoted his life time serving both of these causes. A few years back he lost his beloved wife Fatema Laghari. Last year, his second son Anwar Laghar was assassinated by unknown assailants for reasons that he held the same values as his father that of nationalism and helping poor and disadvantaged. He was not only was a scholar on Legendary Sindhi poet Sheh Abdul Latif Bhitai’s poetry but he urged veryone including his insisted to read, understand, and live by the traditions and principles enshrined in the poetry of Shah Abdul Latif. I met Chacha Mohammad Ali again in May 2008; he was tending to his wife Ghulam Fatema Laghari at Munawar Laghari’s apartment. Fatema was suffering from cancer and had traveled thousands of miles to see her son. Munawar cannot visit Sindh due to fear of prosecution. She soon departed after returning to Sindh few days later. The last time I met him was in early part of 2011, when visiting his son to participate in a rally for the victims of enforced disappearances. Chacha Laghari wrote a book “Sindh Ji Fatema – A book Tribute by Chacha Mohammad Ali Laghari to his Wife”. I immediately started browsing this 200-page plus book written in the Sindhi language enshrined with spiritual Sindhi poetry by legendary Sindhi poets such as Shah Abdul Latif, Sachal Sarmast, Shaikh Ayaz, and others. I was intrigued because it is not often that a person writes a book about his/her spouse. This was quite extra-ordinary since Chacha Laghari came from a male-dominated society, where literacy rate is substantially low. His book about his wife was quite a remarkable undertaking and indeed a great tribute. In the book, Chacha Mohammad Ali Laghari made a point of describing major events that had profound impact on the Sindhi Rights movement Today, Chacha Mohammad Ali is no more among us in this world. However, I am sure he is up there watching us all and asking us to continue to fight for Sindhi culture, Sindhi language, and Sindhi identity. May God bless his soul and give us the courage to continue the struggle for Sindhi Rights! - Khalid Hashmani 21
22 image source: tooba tariq