Friday, December 14, 2007


Democratic Institutions, HR Organizations and International Journalist Forums.

I, Engineer Manzoor Hussain Parwana; age 30; resident of District Skardu Baltistan (Pakistan Administrated Northern Areas, formally a region of Jammu & Kashmir under Pakistani occupation) would like to draw your kind attention towards human rights violations and attack on the freedom of _expression and press by occupied regime in Gilgit and Baltistan. On September 8, 2004, the civil administration of District Skardu banned a local monthly magazine “Kargil International" and confiscated thousands of printed copies. The Home Department, Northern Areas of Pakistan admitted that the action against the magazine and arrest of journalists has been taken on behalf of Force Commander Northern Areas (FCNA), the current military governor of Northern Areas.
The magazine has been banned on publishing an analytical article called "The Independent State of Gilgit Baltistan on World’s map" further, the magazine has also been charged for publishing “subversive and seditious”article in its March/June, 2004 issue “instigating people against President Musharaf and maligning his personality". The Northern Areas Home Department issued an order on 14 September 2004, asking the Skardu Police to take stern action against the chief editor and publisher under sections 124A, 131,153A, 501 and 505B of the Pakistan Penal Code.
On 4 November 2004,the police arrested publisher Ghulam Shehzad Agha,who is Central President of newly formed nationalist party Gilgit Baltistan United Movement (GBUM). Shezad was released on 11 November after public protests in the area.
The administration also issued a warrant for my arrest. I myself presided Baltistan Students Federation (BSF) couple of times and am the founder and Exective member of Gilgit Baltistan United Movement ( GBUM).
Police attempted several raids to arrest me and also harassed my family members and colleagues. During these six months after the charges have been pressed against me, I have been forced to live incognito. However, I successfully secured bail from the court.
The forced closure of the magazine is immoral and illegal while the allegations are totally false and based upon the ulterior motives and malafied intention of the administration to humiliate and harass me. I along with other political activist are struggling for the basic, political and democratic rights and freedom of one million deprived and enslaved people of Gilgit and Baltistan for the last 12 years through writing and speaking at regional, national and international forums.
Our magazine has been vocal against sectarian violence instigated by government elements as well as the problems faced by the people of Gilgit Baltistan due to government policies since last 58 years. It was basically our largely circulated and popular local publication that exposed the Kargil fiasco of 1999, publicized the names and stories of the Kargil Heroes (soldiers of the Northern Light Infantry) as well as published socio-economic hardships faced by families of the martyrs, and the refugees. Kargil International also demanded the establishment of a commission to identify the forces responsible for Kargil War. We also demand the reopening of the Kargil-Skardu, Leh-Skardu and Nubra-Khapulo roads for the convenience of divided families across the borders. The civil administration falsely accuses me of sedition in order to punish me for advocating plight of the soldiers of NLI and exposing the militants (terrorists) during Kargil misadventure. The magazine's popularity and policy did not go down well with the occupied administration. In the view of the authorities, “Kargi International” was stirring discontent among people while educating them about their rights and creating awarness.To justify illegal banning of the magazine, agencies published defamatory article against me in a weekly newspaper (Siachen); called me an enemy of Islam and Pakistan. Militants and muslim extrimists backed by Pakistani agencies also made attempts to exterminate me as they accused me of an agent of Jews and America.
I am fighting a legal battle for the Magazine,s restoration and removal of the sedition charges but my life is still on the mercy of agencies and muslim extrimist . I am getting death threats and getting harrassed continuously. currently, I am under strict observation of agencies and my telephone calls are tapped, and letters and mails are censored. I have restrictions on free travel as well as earning my livelihood. The closure of the magazine has cost me one million Rupees (Rs:1,000,000) within the last eight months and the expences of proceeding cases is extremely burdensome.
In the light of above facts, I appeal to the international community, human rights organizations and International journalists forums to exert pressure on Government of Pakistan to ensure freedom of speech and press in Gilgit and Baltistan with restoration of "Kargil International" and removal of sedition charges against chief editor and publisher.

Awaiting your best cooperation.
Manzoor Hussain Parwana
Chief Editor “Kargil International”
District skardu, Baltistan
(Pakistan occupied part of Jammu & Kashmir).
Dated: 1st July 2005.

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