The Asian Human Rights Commission has received information from Pakistan that the government of the North Western Frontier Province has banned the booklet on Kashmir titled “Kashmir Ki Pukar” (loud voice of Kashmir) on October 21 by issuing an official notification. The writer was informed through telephone calls that if he enters the province he will face dire consequences, including loss of his life. The writer is receiving threatening calls at his home and to his mobile phone insisting that he denounce the book and make an apology in public, otherwise his family will not be safe. The writer says that most of the calls are from the officials of Pakistan secret services (ISI). When the writer made a phone call to the number from which he was receiving the threats no one answers the call. Even if it was answered by chance, there is just an announcement telling that this number is not in use. The police have not yet registered the author’s complaint of being threaten yet.
Mr. Arif Malik is a prominent journalist from Mirpur, the capital city of the Pakistan territory of Kashmir and has worked in several leading newspaper companies in different cities of the country. He is the editor of monthly magazine “Bharosa” in Mirpur, which was closed down after the ban on his booklet was announced by the government. The book “Kashmir Ki Pukar” (the loud voice of Kashmir) was largely circulated in Pakistan and it has given a different view about Kashmir’s stand with the Pakistani government and holy war in Kashmir on the both sides of India and Pakistan.
The writer criticised the Muslim religious Parties and their leaders about their role in holy wars in the book. Mr. Malik accused the government of Pakistan that it had treated Pakistani side of Kashmir as its colony, not as an independent state and claimed that Pakistani Kashmir is run by the ministry of interior of Pakistan. Although Pakistan Kashmir has a parliament, the elected members all have close connections to the government of Pakistan and the military intelligence service including the ISI.
He also pointed out the role of the ISI in the holy war against India by referring to several examples from the past. The audacious greediness of religious fundamentalist parties and its leadership was also criticised by him in the book and he pointed out the privileges that those people had been enjoying over the propaganda that they made during the war, urging youths in the country to sacrifice their lives for the holy war.
In the book he also pointed out a cynicism towards the two-faced attitudes of the religious parties that once fought against Pakistan government for the rights of people in the Kashmir territory and called the youth to sacrifice their life for the so called “holy war” against the imperialism of the United States. The religious parties now are catering to the extremist Pakistani government.
The writer, Mr. Arif Malik is now facing threats to his life since his book was published. He tried to register the report to the police however the Mirpur police station refused to register the case. Instead the police officials said this is a high profile matter so that only high officials in the rank of Superintendent Police can register this type of case. The writer is receiving continuous threats, not only from fundamentalists groups but also from the army, particularly from the ISI. Mr. Malik and his family cannot move about freely after they started to receive threats and now they are taking shelter in different places. The government of NWFP instructed the police in the province to arrest the writer when they find him in the province.
The government of North Western Frontier Province (NWFP) is purely Islamic fundamentalist and the members are from Islamic religious groups who had started a holy war after the intervention of USSR in Afghanistan in 1980.
The fundamentalist religious parties have won the elections in NWFP in 2002 as an alliance group called Muttehda Majlis-e-Amal (MMA). This alliance has also won several seats in different assemblies including National Assembly. In 2002 MMA formed a government in NWFP and announced the Islamic system by introducing the Hisba bill (accountability bill) that allows district Islamic officers to monitor the religious conviction and practice of Islam of all citizens.
Please write letters to the concerned authorities and urge them to provide protection for the life of Mr. Arif Malik and his family and take necessary actions to stop the intimidation and take legal action against the perpetrators. Please also demand the governments of NWFP and Pakistan to respect the freedom of speech and movement within the country as it has been guaranteed in constitution of Pakistan that meets the international human rights standards.