Archive for June, 2009

India and Pakistan in Wimbledon Doubles Partnership Success


London, United Kingdom- India and Pakistan are nuclear powers and  arch enemies that have fought 3 wars in the last 60 years and came close to a few more in the last few years, this everyone knows. What many people are not aware of is that the people to people contact between citizens of both countries continues to grow. One such example can be currently found on the court in Wimbledon at this year’s tournament.

India’s Prakash Amritraj and Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi paired up to play doubles together in this year’s all grass tournament in England. Both insist that they are “brothers” on and off the tennis court and that the animosity between the two countries will never threaten their doubles partnership.  The pair believes that their doubles partnership is a testament to the fact that the two countries can come together and work together and that real peace between the two countries in not impossible.

This is the first time the two paired up as a team and despite being unseeded, they managed to make it all the way to the third round of Wimbledon’s doubles game.  The failed to qualify for the quarterfinals however losing a 2 hour and 50 minute match to the veteran high seeded pair of Indian Mahesh Bhupathi and Bahamian Mark Knowles, taking the much experienced pair to the limit before bowing out of this year’s tournament Monday.

Tennis analysts stated that the pairing of Amritraj, son of Indian Tennis legend Vijay Amritraj and Qureshi , the Lahore based son of Nausheen Ihtisham, a former 10 time national women’s champion of Pakistan, is a very promising partnership and should they continue to play doubles tennis together will surely yield championships for the duo as they become more familiar with each other’s playing styles.

This partnership gives hope to hundreds of millions of people across India and Pakistan who despite sharing a common ancestry, language, history and a almost a 2,000 mile border, live in tension and hostility to each other since their independence from the United Kingdom in 1947. One hopes that this partnership is another small sign for the two neighbors to see that together they are world beaters and  at their strongest and to end years of hostility and normalize relations as only a long lasting and just peace between the two countries will allow for both nations to truly advance and achieve prosperity for its long suffering citizens.

Reported by Manzer Munir for

Michael Jackson’s death felt far away in Pakistan


Los Angeles, California- Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, died unexpectedly on Thursday June 25, 2009 of a cardiac arrest in Los Angeles, California.  He was just 50 years old and was working on staging a comeback with a sold out series of concerts in London in July of this year.

Although Michael Jackson was an American singer and artist, Pakistanis like many people around the world had long adopted him as one of their own. For anyone who thinks that Pakistan is completely consumed by bombs and bullets, that the people in Pakistan only think about the Taliban and terror, know that Michael Jackson was an icon here too.

 Michael Jackson was for me the personification of America long before I set foot on its shores. Growing up in a strict Islamic country like Saudi Arabia, I became familiar with his music in the 5th grade while attending an American school in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

His MTV music videos were brought to Saudi Arabia by American friends returning from the US and we would watch them at their houses over the summer break. When going to Pakistan for holidays, I would see young men in brightly colored jackets with sleeves pushed up to the elbows, white socks with black shoes, and even gloves on one hand by some of his impersonators. The Thriller album had Karachi, Lahore and other cities by storm. Break dancing became very popular that there were many competitions of break dancing in Karachi and other big cities. Some of my closest friends started to wear similar clothes, practiced his dance moves and started curling their hair in a similar style and fashion.

Michael Jackson defined the childhood and adolescence of many of us in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and many other Muslim countries around the world in addition to countless young people in the United States and Europe and elsewhere. More than his great music, song writing and dance talents, Michael Jackson was a very compassionate and generous man. He was directly and indirectly involved in as many as 43 charities at the time of his death and was instrumental in raising millions of dollars in the 80’s with his “We are the World” concert to benefit Africans suffering from famine.

Jackson’s popularity was immense in Pakistan like elsewhere not because he was not white, or he had helped raise money for charity in the developing world, or as was reported a few years ago that he converted to Islam as his brother Jermaine. But rather it was his music and incredibly original dance moves that the people of Pakistan loved. It was his bootlegged records and tapes of Beat It and Thriller, and the VHS videos of the Thriller video that cemented Jackson as an icon in Pakistan years ago. And not just Pakistan’s middle class was familiar with him, but rather the working poor who did not speak a word of English also knew who Michael Jackson as he was perhaps the biggest celebrity the world has ever known.

Michael Jackson’s death dominated the news and media Friday morning as Pakistanis woke up to learn of his sudden death. To many Pakistanis it feels like one of their own has died.

 Reported for by Manzer Munir

Iran paying for freedom with Blood

Iran Protest Tehran, Iran- Iranians are protesting the results of the recent election they believe was unfairly rigged for the incumbent candidate in President Ahmadinejad and paying for it in blood. At least 17 people have died at the hands of the government forces who are cracking down on the protesters with increasing violence.

A particularly chilling death of a protester happened on Saturday in Tehran when a young girl was shot in the chest by a single sniper shot from a member of the government militia. Her last few seconds of her life were captured on a mobile phone video and then posted on the internet where it has gone viral getting millions of hits on various websites around the world. Her name was Neda, meaning Voice in Farsi, and she has indeed become the voice of this movement of the Iranian people as a symbol for Iran’s pro-democracy movement.

We at Pakistanis for Peace support the men and women of Iran in their quest for real democracy and freedom in their country from the oppresive regime of Ahmadinejad and the ruling Supreme Council and Ayatollah Ali Khameni. The government should realize that Iran will prosper and become stronger only with a more open and fair society that is a real democracy rather than a front for an authoritarian regime. Iran and virtually the rest of the Muslim world needs to realize that although democracy is not the only form of government, it is the best form and one that needs to be embraced across the Muslim world as only it will lead these countries out of the political darkness that they are in with their monarchies, dictatorships, and theocracies.

The citizens of the Muslim world from Morocco to Malaysia are yearning for a true democratic form of government that gives them more rights to participate in their government without fear of reprecussions and real freedom of speech that is missing in far too many of these countries. For the brave people of Iran to stand up and speak out against one of the most oppressive and authoritative regimes in the world is a great sign of hopefully more things to come across the Muslim world!

Reporting by Manzer Munir for

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt give $1 Million to Pakistan’s Refugees


Islamabad, Pakistan- Hollywood’s most powerful couple, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt today donated $1 million to the refugees fleeing the fighting in Swat valley in Pakistan. Jolie, a UN goodwill ambassador was in Washington DC Thursday to celebrate World Refugee Day which is on Saturday June 20.

She spoke of her visits to Pakistani refugee camps having visited Pakistan as a goodwill ambassador on three separate occasions. Brad and Angelina donated the $1 million to the U.N. refugee agency providing aid to displaced people in Pakistan fleeing the fighting in Swat between the government and the Taliban.

In 2001, Pakistan was already host to the largest refugee population in the world due to almost 5 million refugees from Afghanistan that had escaped the invasion of their country by the Soviet Union in late 1979. Now it has an additional 2.3 million refugees from its own population of Pakistani citizens escaping the recent fighting between the Pakistan army and the Taliban militants in the Swat valley.

The United States recently pledged to give $110 million to the Pakistani refugee crisis but additional money and lots of it is needed for the millions of refugees in Pakistan and more needs to be done by other countries especially European nations and rich Gulf Arab countries according to the UN.

Although this donation by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie is a drop in the bucket, it is a great humanitarian gesture by Hollywood’s most glamorous and popular couple to bring worldwide scrutiny to the plight of the refugees in Pakistan.

We at Pakistanis for Peace commend their effort in bringing more attention to the refugee crisis in Pakistan and hope that this will spur more donations to help millions of people and hundreds of thousands of displaced families survive until God willing the Taliban are eradicated from the Swat valley and eventually from all of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Ameen.

For Donations please visit:

And also from any mobile phone:  Text “Swat” to 20222 to provide a $5 donation to the UN refugee agency in Pakistan

Reporting by Manzer Munir for

Iran’s election results disputed and more protests planned

Iran's Elections Disputed

Tehran, Iran- Iranians planned more protests on Tuesday against a presidential election they say was rigged as incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared a winner by a landslide vote over reformist challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi.

The Iranian capital has already seen three days of  some of the biggest and most violent anti-government protests since the 1979 Islamic revolution after the hardline Ahmadinejad was declared winner of last Friday’s vote.  Further protests, especially if they are maintained on the same scale, would be a direct challenge to authorities who have kept a tight grip on dissent since the overthrow of the U.S.-backed shah after months of demonstrations 30 years ago.

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday he was “deeply troubled” by the violence in Iran.”The democratic process, free speech, the ability of people to peacefully dissent — all those are universal values and need to be respected,” he said.

Demonstrators filled a broad avenue in central Tehran for several km (miles) on Monday, chanting “We fight, we die, we will not accept this vote rigging,” in support of Mirhossein Mousavi, the defeated moderate candidate.

Mousavi said he was “ready to pay any price” in his fight against election irregularities, his Web site quoted him as saying, indicating a determination to keep up the pressure for the election result to be annulled.

Some formed a human chain in front of a building of the Basij Islamic militia but others broke through and paramilitaries opened fire on the crowds, sending thousands fleeing in havoc.

One man was killed and many wounded, said an Iranian photographer who witnessed the shooting.

This may be a turning point for the nation of Iran and one hopes that the situation improves and that the leaders of Iran realize the will of the popular vote and re-examine the election results as rigging the election will not give any legimitacy to Ahmadinejad’s government.

Pakistan to release cleric linked to Mumbai attacks

Islamabad, Pakistan- In what would be seen as a court ruling that would surely worsen the already tense relations between India and Pakistan, a court in Lahore ordered the release of the founder of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), seen by many as the main group behind the attacks in Mumbai India in November of 2008.


Hafiz Saeed, the head of a charity that international organizations have said is tied to the militant group and had been under house arrest since December 11 of last year was ordered released by a panel of three judges in a Lahore court Tuesday. Lashkar-e-Taiba has been accused by Indian officials of engineering and carrying out the attacks on Mumbai that left about 170 people dead last November.


Saeed founded Lashkar-e-Taiba reportedly with support from Pakistan’s intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence to fight Indian rule in the Himalayan region of Kashmir.


The court ruling will likely worsen relations between Pakistan and India, both nuclear armed countries that regard each other as archenemies and have fought three wars in the last six decades. After the attacks in Mumbai, India accused Pakistan of dragging its feet in tracking down Lashkar-e-Taiba members involved in the terrorism that lasted several days in India’s commercial and financial capital of Mumbai. And only after pressure from the United States did Pakistan arrest several members of the militant group, including 2 men still held and believed to be masterminds of the attacks. Saeed was placed under house arrest and the government closed many of the relief offices, hospitals, schools and madrassahs operated by Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the relief agency associated with Lashkar-e-Taiba.


The ruling Tuesday renewed criticisms from India that Pakistan’s resolve to fight militant organizations was not genuine. Indian analysts say that Pakistan has a history of arresting militants only to release them once the spotlight has faded weeks or month later. They believe that the intelligence agency and the militant groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba have close links and that the military and the intelligence agency have used these groups in the past as proxy warriors in the decades long war with India over the dispute region of Kashmir.


These are valid points by Indian analysts and Pakistan must do more to disassociate itself with these militant groups. Just as Pakistan has finally gotten serious in fighting the Taliban inside its borders, it must also be consistent and forceful in tackling other militant groups within Pakistan as they threaten its security and sovereignty. Unfortunately, the Pakistani intelligence agency and some members of the military see these groups that are determined to fight India for liberation of Kashmir as allies rather than enemies.


One hopes that as the Obama administration starts working on a dialogue between the Arabs and the Israelis in solving the decades long Arab-Israeli conflict, it must realize that a peace between India and Pakistan is just as important for regional and global security and working towards that end will go a long way in achieving this goal.


Reported by Manzer Munir for




%d bloggers like this: