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The Military And It’s Relevance In Pakistan’s Democracy

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By Manisha Chachra:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross on iron.”- Dwight Eisenhower.

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The prowess of Military in Pakistan needs no introduction. If I have to turn the pages of history it might become tedious and dull for the readers. If I trace the footprints of partition it will be nothing but an unfortunate and bitter taste to be gulped down. Nonetheless, Jinnah the founder of the notorious two-nation theory would have never thought that his vision of largest Muslim state will be muddled in such a way that exploitation of its people will become an occasion of celebration for military. If one has to scrounge for the reasons as to why the military has become so influential in Pakistan one major reason are the conflicts and wars that Pakistan continues to fight with India, Afghanistan or Kashmir. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that it has been poking nose in almost everything.

Whether it is mass killing of Shias or the Pakistani Christians who bear the brunt of country’s blasphemy law, the military continuously targets speaking in Locke’s language the people’s natural rights. The domination of military over Pakistan politics has played a crucial role in worsening its relations with India. The recent military exchange in which soldiers on Indian border were chopped off their heads and killed mercilessly indicates the dangerous role that military continues to play. It will be a repeated fact if I assert that when military does anything that doesn’t suit its purposes it is bound to create havoc in the country. That is why Mahatma Gandhi wanted the army to take part in many other productive activities when the defense purpose has been served.

The military intervention in politics has caused revolutions in countries to fight for democracies. For instance, Myanmar’s recent upsurge for a democratic state, rise of Aung San Su Kyi is a change where military acted as a catalyst though a negative one.
As political science is about predicting and I am predicting a change on the part of civil society which will have to recognize its rights and unite irrespective of the political, religion and regional cleavages.

What shocked me as an Indian is the truth that we don’t seem to be concerned. We are half of the time cracking jokes on India-Pakistan, or other cricket related jokes where India is so naive that it seeks to improve its relations with Pakistan by that sport which will not fetch anything. I will be called an idealist after this write-up. However, I truly appreciate all the policies India executes in order to better the relations with Pakistan. Yes, we are highly ignorant if we don’t wish to notice the differences between the political structures of two countries. The background from which both of them started might be the same, but the two have moved into different directions. All those bitter reasons why we don’t maintain healthy relations with Pakistan, are the reasons that lurk behind the negative development that Pakistan internally continues to deal with. It is the very influence of tarnished leaders like Pervez Musharaff without whom the concept of ‘Indian Mujhadeen’ would have remained unseen. The civil society of Pakistan, at least who really wish for peace, excluding the fundamentalists, are same like you and me. They also want to have contented lives where government can ensure them their rights rather than seize them. It is for this humanity that I want to think beyond those extremist barriers which curb the chances of development inside or outside the country.

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  1. Shivani Singh Rajput

    brilliant article
    i agree with your point of view completely. Even i m stunned why aren’t we actually reacting aggressively like we should have over the barbaric killing of our soldiers by Pakistani militants. Even it was alleged that the Pakistan’s national army has a major role in this.
    How could we even think of having peace talks and improving our relations with them when the pakistan government didn’t have the grace to even apologise.
    And when the whole nation is on the brink of election why are we just hearing the virtuous development agendas of the parties and not even a single one has came out strongly on Indo Pak relations and explained their views on it.
    The lives of our soldiers are precious and we should honor their sacrifice rather than forgetting it and take necessary measures so that a strong message is to be passed to militants and even pak govt. that India will not tolerate these inhuman act on its border

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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