Pakistani Peasants Threatened
Basim Usmani, member of Bostonstan's favorite taqwacore (Muslim punk) band The Kominas, has a story in the Manchester Guardian.
Apparently the military has been using dirty tricks to try to get peasants and farmers to vacate land the military wants.
Last weekend, military rangers encroached on 25 acres of land in a neighbouring stud farm in Pak Pattan, where a similar land dispute led to another light machinegun firing spree took the life of one protesting farmer eight months ago. On Saturday morning, rangers stormed the Bail Gunj Tehsil Sharif Stud Farms, emptying a canal nearby and effectively cutting off water to the village. This sparked a response from AMP party activists, who held a sit-down protest in the stud farm. I got an update on Friday from Labour Party chairman Farooq Tariq, who told me 16 of the party heads were arrested by police.
They have been arrested under anti-terrorism laws, even though they are political activists. Basim details his efforts to get military and security service statements on the arrests, which have been met with stonewalling.
With the help of those who are more experienced, I hope to crack this stone wall that has successfully kept every major local newspaper from reporting on the new developments in Pak Pattan. Under military rule, the bulk of disputes in Pakistan's provinces are over sovereignty. "Democracy" never lasts in a country that's spent more than half its life under military rule. What good are elections or new prime ministers if the impoverished are most likely to lose their homes when the country is pulled back under martial rule? Stability doesn't rely on Benazir or Sharif, it depends on the resolution of these land issues that will continue to worsen unless we crack this wall.
Unfortunately, in the 48 hours since this story was published, Musharraf has suspended the constitution and imposed martial law, amid widespread protests. It remains to be seen how it will end.