Posts Tagged ‘Pakistani’

Salma Yaqoob and George Galloway to speak at public meeting on Pakistan

Injured men are seen near the site of the car bombing in Lahore, Pakistan on Wednesday, May 27, 2009. (AP / K.M. Chaudary)

Injured men are seen near the site of the car bombing in Lahore, Pakistan on Wednesday, May 27, 2009. (AP / K.M. Chaudary)

Respect leader and Birmingham Stop the War Coalition chair Salma Yaqoob will be speaking alongside George Galloway MP at a meeting on the crisis in Pakistan this weekend.

The public event, which will be taking place at the Bordesley Centre in Birmingham’s Sparkbrook area, will explore the current deepening crisis in Pakistan.

Over the last few months a million people had been displaced by the fighting in the province of Swat and this week saw a massive car bomb in Lahore kill 23 people.

Lord Nazir Ahmed, Green Party’s MEP candidate Felicity Norman, Labour Councillor Tahir Ali and Lib Dem Councillor Tariq Khan will be among a host of speakers discussing the growing instability in the region.

The meeting is organised by the Stop the War Coalition. Its Chairperson Salma Yaqoob said:

“US drone strikes on Pakistani territory and Pakistan’s support for the Western occupation of Afghanistan continues to severely destabilise the country. Stability in the Pakistan is intimately tied up with a resolution to the war in Afghanistan where the conflict is increasingly deadlocked, the death toll of British soldiers continues to rise and Taliban are growing in strength.

“This meeting will outline what positive measures our government can pursue to help bring peace to the region. It is free entry and everybody is welcome to attend”.

The meeting begins at 2pm on Sunday 31st May atthe Bordesley Centre in Stratford Road, Camp Hill, Birmingham, B11 1AR.

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Respect condemns deportation of Pakistani men innocent of alleged terror plot

Respect leader Salma Yaqoob condemns plans to deport 11 Pakistani men innocent of alleged involvement in a terror plot:

“Everybody in the Muslim community understands that the police have to act if they suspect a terrorist threat. We also understand that innocent people might occasionally be arrested and subsequently released. That is the nature of policing.

But these recent arrests are indicative of a worrying pattern developing.

Firstly, far too many of the most high profile raids and arrests lead to no charges at all. The release of these 11 Pakistani men and one Briton without charge follows February’s high-profile arrests and detentions and release without charge in the north-west of nine men on unspecified overseas intelligence linked to a supposed terrorist activities outside Britain. Some of those arrested were in act from a convoy taking medicines, computers, toys and such to Gaza – all were innocent. And in the past we have also had lurid allegations about terrorist plots to blow up Old Trafford football stadium, the so-called ‘ricin’ plot and the police raids and shooting in Forest Gate East London of a supposed ‘bomb factory’– all claims later shown to be unfounded.

Secondly, there is a real danger that manner in which these raids are dealt with by the politicians is both prejudicial to any notion of a fair trail and also damaging to community relations.

When the government starts talking about ‘a very big terrorist plot’ before any case goes to court they show contempt for fair legal process and undermine the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’.

When policing is conducting is such a high profile way in the media in advance of any trial it creates sensationalist headlines. This climate of fear damages relations between the Muslim communities and other communities and undermines trust between Muslim communities and the Police.

The trend of trial by politicians and media has to be reversed. This means politicians and police officers refraining from premature briefings before cases have come to court where actual evidence can be evaluated. Such restraint in one stroke would not only restore the principle of innocent until proven guilty, but would help restore confidence in the government and police.

These 11 men should now be allowed to rebuild their lives. Given that they have been released without charge it is a further smear on their characters and extension of their horrendous ordeal that they are facing deportation with more unsubstantiated claims hanging over them”.

Public Meeting: Pakistan in Crisis

  Report by Abu Jamal and Adam Yosef

George Galloway MP in Birmingham

George Galloway MP in Birmingham

A public meeting entitled ‘Pakistan in Crisis’, held by Respect at the Birmingham Central Mosque in the Highgate area of the city on Saturday (18th Oct), was attended by over 250 people.

Salma Yaqoob, city councillor for Sparkbrook, set the tone for the meeting by condemning the recent US military operations in Pakistan which have created numerous civilian casualties; and spoke of the hypocrisy of the British media for failing to report these attacks “on a sovereign nation”.

“We care about every single human being, whether they’re in Birmingham, Baghdad or Pakistan. We do not have the double standards of the British government and media,” she said.

She called for a genuine democratic Pakistan that would not tolerate US military attacks on its own people and explained the current crisis in Pakistan could only be resolved by ordinary people struggling for peace, justice and equality.

Salma Yaqoob speaks about Pakistan

Salma Yaqoob speaks about Pakistan

“I want to see a democratic Pakistan, a peaceful Pakistan, free of all corrupt influences. We need a Pakistan without religious intolerance, that’s what most Pakistanis want. They don’t need Western leaders lecturing them on religion.”

George Galloway, Respect’s MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, spoke at length on the recent history of Pakistan and Kashmir, and received a rousing reception upon declaring the “people of Kashmir have every right and dignity to fight for the freedom of their land.”

He briefly focused on “The Hangman” Zia-Ul-Haq (a reference to General Zia’s execution of former PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1979), highlighting how Zia became America’s favourite in a line of ‘dictators’. Galloway went on to challenge the corrupt nature of General Pervez Musharraf and how his craven support for US policy in the region had not protected the Pakistani people but exploited them for financial gain.

The outspoken Member of Parliament told a diverse audience that recent bombings in the south Asian state were a direct result of the unstable war in Afghanistan. He also claimed the ‘War on Terror’, which has recently spilled into the country with US bombing strikes frequently targeting South Waziristan, was being allowed due to the complacency of British Pakistani MPs.

Audience at Birmingham Central Mosque

Audience at Birmingham Central Mosque

“I love Pakistan, all my life I have loved it, even before it became two countries,” he said. “We are reminded that there are four Pakistani MPs in Parliament. A fact I nearly forgot as none of them has raised a finger or voice against the US-led attack on Pakistan. They’re just there to be reeled in when their political leaders want to justify an attack on Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia or Pakistan.”

Galloway also noted the political silence of another MP, Labour’s Roger Godsiff, whose Parliamentary Hall Green seat Salma Yaqoob intends to challenge at the next General Election. His views were echoed by Yaqoob herself, who urged Muslims from the region to increase pressure on Asian councillors or deny them their vote.

“We need to tell these people who come to our homes asking for our votes, and there are over twenty Asian councillors in Birmingham, we need to tell them they will not get our votes unless they do something to help the people of Pakistan,” she explained.

“They [US/UK coalition] haven’t learnt from the past and are taking their war into Pakistan. As people from all backgrounds, and I stand here as a proud British citizen, we cannot allow this to happen in our name.

“We have that special responsibility as British citizens to pressure our government to stop bombing Afghanistan. If Afghanistan hadn’t been bombed, Pakistan would have never been bombed,” she added.

The meeting was primarily attended by members of the Pakistani, Somali and Arab community, many of whom identified with the political climate in Pakistan. Galloway also touched on the crisis in Somalia, reminding the audience their taxes contributed towards the conflict in the African country.

“In Somalia, the country is occupied by Ethiopian armed forces, paid for by you. Perhaps you didn’t realise the British government is supplying and paying for a foreign army to occupy Somalia.

“They’re doing so using your money while children still suffer a famine on both sides.”

He concluded by imploring those in attendance to support Salma Yaqoob’s campaign to become MP for the Birmingham Hall Green constituency, in an effort to highlight, challenge and resolve many of the issues that had been discussed.

George galloway in Birmingham Central Mosque

George galloway in Birmingham Central Mosque

“Can you imagine if Salma Yaqoob was standing in Parliament as an MP. You might not see her in Downing Street but you’d see her in Parliament day after day speaking out against the oppression of the downtrodden people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Pakistan. So you have to support and raise funds for Salma’s campaign so she can become the MP for Hall green in Birmingham.”

His appeal was reiterated by fellow speaker and activist Yvonne Ridley.

“There are many reasons to support Respect and for supporting Salma Yaqoob. We need as much help as we can get to continue holding rallies like this and getting Salma Yaqoob into Parliament is going to cost money.

The Birmingham Respect team with George Galloway and Yvonne Ridley

The Birmingham Respect team with George Galloway and Yvonne Ridley

“We don’t have corporate fat cats throwing money towards us and that’s a good thing. Please dig deep and give generously. You have a fantastic candidate in Salma Yaqoob, someone who cares about issues locally, nationally and internationally.”

The gathering was chaired by Councillor Mohammed Ishtiaq. Other speakers included Councillor Naeem Ullah Khan, local activist Richard Hutcher and Pakistani political commentator Choudary Tasadiq Arvi.

In pictures: ‘Pakistan in Crisis’ public meeting

A selection if images from the ‘Crisis in Pakistan’ public meeting, held by Birmingham Respect at the Birmingham Central Mosque on Saturday 18th October, 2008.

For more images, please see the Birmingham Respect facebook group. Thank you.