Archive for March 1, 2011

“War, Peace, and Reconciliation: The Way Forward for Sri Lnka,” a panel discussion hosted by the India and South Asia Program at the Harvard Kennedy School.

The panel features:

  • Ambassador Palitha T. B. Kohona, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Sri Lanka
  • Ahilan Kadirgamar, Spokesperson Sri Lanka Democracy Forum
  • Vasuki Nesiah, Associate Professor of Practice, New York University
  • Moderated by: Nicholas Burns Director, India and South Asia Program and Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politic

Location: Weil Town Hall, 1st Floor Belfer Building

Date: Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Time: 4:15pm – 6:00pm

Short Bios for the Panelists

Ambassador Nicholas Burns (Moderator)

Amb. Burns in currently Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics and was the US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.

Dr. Palitha Kohana

Dr. Kohana is currently the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN. During the final stages of the civil conflict he was the Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He has represented the government in a number of peace negotiations with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and also served as the Secretary-General of the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process. He holds a doctorate from Cambridge University.

Mr. Ahilan Kadirgamar

Mr. Kadirgamar is a spokesperson of the Sri Lanka Democracy Forum, a contributing editor for Himal Southasian and a member of the South Asia Solidarity Initiative in New York. He is interested in the political economy of South Asia and writes on questions of state and society in Sri Lanka in forums such as the Economic and Political Weekly and the newly formed Sri Lankan social justice magazine dissenting dialogues. He is currently a PhD candidate at the Graduate Center, City University of New York.

Dr. Vasuki Nesiah

Dr. Nesiah is currently an associate professor of practice at New York University. Her main areas of research include the law and politics of international human rights and humanitarianism, with a particular focus on transitional justice. Her past publications have engaged with different dimensions of public international law, legal history focused on colonialism and self-determination, the politics of memory, comparative constitutionalism, law and politics in South Asia and international feminisms. She holds an SJD and a JD from the Harvard Law School.

(Report from HRC) Amid the Nonviolent Movements for human rights and democracy for change across the world the 16th session of the Human Rights Council takes place from 28 February to 25 March at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. Libya and other issues are on the UN body’s agenda.

Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay

UN human rights chief Navi Pillay stresses that the Council “commands credibility through action – nothing else.” This is very important session in which high dignitaries have participated.  Among them who took the floor were the President of Switzerland Micheline Calmy-Rey, Vice President of Colombia Angelino Garzón, Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. Such high participation shows the mandate and importance of human rights agenda.

The Human Rights Council in its special session last Friday has recommended the UN General Assembly to suspend Libya’s Council membership and it has established an independent enquiry to investigate human rights violations in that country. Joseph Deiss, President of the General Assembly, announced that the General Assembly would meet urgently on 1 March in New York to follow up on the Council’s recommendation.

Press Release: RightsNOW Pakistan

RightsNOW Pakistan praises the speedy and timely action of both UN Security Council and Human Rights Council on Libya and calls it a step towards justice and prevention of further human rights violations and serious crimes in Libya. This decision of UN Security Council will open the closed gates of humanitarian support for the civilians in Libya. This decision is message for dictators as reminders that sovereignty cannot be used any longer to exterminate their population. In the name of sovereignty, crimes against humanity will not be tolerated.

This decision of the UN Security Council to refer the Libya as situation to the International Criminal Court will give legitimacy to the International Criminal Court and will further strengthen it. This is an strong steps toward ending impunity.

Director RightsNOW Pakistan commend the unanimous decision of 15 members of the UN body on Libya.


Press Release: Human Rights Watch

Washington, DC – Human Rights First today commended the UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council for taking swift and clear action on Libya. On Saturday, the Security Council imposed a travel ban, an arms embargo and asset freeze against the Libyan regime. It also unanimously agreed to refer the Libyan situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC), a necessary step to enable the Court to consider criminal charges against individuals implicated in human rights abuses in Libya, since Libya is not a party to the International Criminal Court Treaty.

“While these measures will take time to take effect, they send an unequivocal message that the international community will not stand idly by in the face of gross violations of human rights,” said Human Rights First’s Gabor Rona.

UN Security Council

Rona notes that the unanimous Security Council decision to engage the ICC is welcome not only as a measure of accountability for the atrocities being committed in Libya, but as a vote of confidence for the ICC itself. Permanent UN Security Council members China and the U.S. are also not parties to the ICC, but their vote in favor of the referral demonstrates strong support for the ICC’s important role.

Despite its praise for the Security Council, Human Rights First did express regret that the Council’s decision to exclude non-Libyan nationals – for example, foreign mercenaries and contractors acting on behalf of the regime – from possible ICC prosecution. It noted that that in any case, the primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute human rights violators rests with countries where the violations occur, or with countries of which the violators are nationals. In this respect, Human Rights First calls on all countries to investigate and hold accountable their citizens implicated in human rights violations in Libya.

Separately, Human Rights First praised the UN Human Rights Council’s passage of a February 25 resolution to urgently dispatch an independent international commission of inquiry to investigate alleged violations of international human rights law in the Libya, to establish the facts and circumstances of such violations and of the crimes perpetrated, and where possible, identify those responsible.

“It is gratifying to see that the lessons of past human rights crises, such as Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, are being learned and that United Nations institutions are moving to fulfill their obligation to protect human rights and hold accountable those who violate international law,” Rona concluded.

If you say that Tooba is not a media celebrity in Pakistan then thousands of people are going to disagree with you” this is response of one of Tooba’s fans to my question: Is Tooba Ghumroo a media personality? I was talking to Tooba on a completely different issue and suddenly an idea struck my mind that why not I interview her for RightsNOW and ask questions which her fans want to know about her. I asked Tooba and she agreed. Thanks for her generosity. Tooba is the youngest Sindhi media icon.


RightsNOW-Pak: How do you describe yourself?  (What kind of personality you are? Your education, family and whatever, you would like to share with the readers).

Tooba- Thank Ali, for giving me this opportunity to talk to my friends and viewers through this platform. I would describe myself as a very passionate girl. I love my work and do it with complete passion. If I am assigned to perform any task, I do that with full dedication. I am very reserved kind of person but not when I am in my circle of friends.  As far as education is concerned, I have completed my bachelors in commerce with majors in economics and now I am preparing for CSS and would like to be an official.


RightsNOW-Pak: You would like to be a official, for power, prestige or…what is motivation Tooba?

Tooba: Motivation is  simple: to serve my people in a capacity where I will be in a position to do something for them. May be that is the proper mechanism to reciprocate love and support to our people who have been showing their love and support for a long time. I am thankful for our people’s prayers and support.

RightsNOW-Pak: What attracted you to media? Particularly Sindhi Media?

Tooba: I started my career from Sindhi media KTN news (Kawish Television Network) back in 2006 after my matriculation. I started from Bangkok, you were there, and you know that. I joined Sikandar Baloch and other KTN crew there…….what attracted to media is important question…Well, I wanted to have experience and exposure to see and feel outside world. At the same time, I had decided to do something for Sindh and people through media. So could give them awareness and raise their voice and get their point of view heard.

Frankly speaking, I was not what I am now. Media has given me exposure, name, fame etc. After working in Sindhi media, I have come to know about the problems of Sindh. Later I realized that I should move from regional media to national media and also I had this thing in mind that it through that platform, I will be able to work for Sindh and its issues. As I told, not only Sindhi cause but also my personal career motivation made me to switch to Urdu media. However, I feel comfortable with my urdu colleagues and like Urdu media also but I cannot forget what Sindhi media has given me. Sindh media has been my mentor, my school…

RightsNOW-Pak: Why you left KTN?

Well, the reason of leaving KTN was to switch to a national channel. Of course,I I am professional and I wanted to climb the ladder of my career and move upward from regional to national TV Channel whose viewer-ship is in Asia,Europe and elsewhere.  Also, I wanted to show the world  that Sindhi girls  can also  be presenters on Urdu and national channels. And they have such potential.

RightsNOW-Pak: How do you differentiate ARY and KTN?

Tooba: First of all I would like to mention that both are the medium media which conveys news, plays an important role to highlight the major issues. Big difference I would say, language difference. It is language which plays an important role to gather viewer and make a strong viewership. No doubt ARY news has got an excellent viewership not only in Asia as well as in entire Europe. Another difference is the difference of preferences and priorities. Being a part of ARY news I have come to know that ARY prefers national high level issues first than the local ones while KTN prefers issues of SIND first.

RightsNOW-Pak: Who is your ideal in your family and in media?

My ideal in my family is my mother. She is the woman who has done a lot of sacrifices in life. She left her career to give me and my siblings a quality time, to make us grow in a liberal environment, to support us in every manner. In media I don’t have any ideal but the person who does his work with complete passion and hard work can be my ideal.

RightsNOW-Pak: Tell us about your family?

Tooba: I have a small family. Aman (mother) Baba (dad), a younger sister and a younger brother. Younger sister is 20years old doing majors in Economics and younger brother is sixteen and he is in college. I am the eldest one.

Tooba Ghumro

RightsNOW-Pak: Being the oldest among your siblings, you must be getting the lion’s share (big portion) of chocolates, cakes rights?

Tooba: (Laughter)..No I love them so I give my share to them even. They are my life and soul.

RightsNOW-Pak: How did you manage to get permission from your family to enter in media?

Tooba: As I have mentioned above my mother is very liberal in thinking so is my other family members. I with my siblings have grown up in a very liberal environment. My family understands and respects the desires and rights of an individual. My family knew what I want and they not only supported but even helped me to get in media and do the progress by right means. And practically speaking educated and empowered girl/women can protect her in a better way.

RightsNOW-Pak: What are challenges for a girl in Sindhi or Pakistani electronic media?

Tooba: As we all know that we have been living in a male dominated society. Man always gets first preference in everything. A Pakistani woman has to face many challenges to get herself recognized. Women have to prove that there is no such job which they cannot do. If they run a house and bring up children then they can do the hardest jobs of the world.

As compare to Pakistani woman, Sindhi woman face additional challenges and difficulties in reaching to her destination. Every step is discrimination and challenge but I would say there are lot of positive minded men there everywhere in the form of brother, father, friends and colleagues who support you when you determined to do something. Working in media is not an easy job for a girl but I would say it should not scare us to do that. From my own experience, I have learned that if you are from a good family with good and show respect to everyone then there are lot of good souls to support you.

RightsNOW-Pak: How do you deal with your fans? Do you remember their names and details?

Tooba: OHH! I feel very happy when people recognize my work, my talent, my confidence. I feel great when I see people wants to talk to me they want to know about me, about my personal life, about my friends. I just love it! Yea! I do remember my fans, I do remember their names. In fact I prefer to send replies to their emails, tweets and face book messages whenever I can.

RightsNOW-Pak: Anything scares you in life?

Tooba: Well, there are a lot of things which makes me scared but I’d like to mention that I am very much afraid of reptiles especially snakes.

RightsNOW-Pak: If you are reading news and snake enters in studio? How you would react?

Tooba: I would manage to run away hahahhahaah…….

RightsNOW-Pak: If people say Tooba is rude and arrogant. What will be your response?

Tooba -At ARY Studio during News

Tooba: My response will be- No Tooba is neither  rude nor arrogant. Tooba is sweet.Tooba is considerate and Tooba is respectfull

RightsNOW-Pak: Any childhood memory?

Tooba: YEAH! I have a very sweet memory of my childhood.  I guess I was 5 years old when it had happened. Once I went to the market with my father and I asked him to buy me cookies, ice cream and some chocolates. He did buy but only cookies. Being a five years old kid I begged him to buy me chocolates but he did not so when shop keeper went inside the shop to bring something and Dad was busy in payment or something. I seized the opportunity and stole 6 or 7 candies and put them in my pocket.

Tooba in Studio

After reaching home, I went to my mom with a happy face and showed her my cookies and chocolates. Mom asked my dad why did he buy me 6 candies. It’s not good for tooba’s teeth!  Dad replied: I did not buy Tooba 6 candies I only bought her cookies and then my dad called me and asked me ‘from did I get those candies’? I was not replying him for the second time he spoke to me loudly and I told him the truth that I stole the candies because he did not buy for me. After knowing the truth Dad immediately took me to the shop and told the story to the shopkeeper paid him the cost.  That was my life’s first and last Chori hahhah

RightsNOW-Pak: Any friend? Best friend?

Tooba: My sister Marvi and my brother Sufiyan are my best friends. Saima Omer Hayat, my colleague and Co-anchor is my best friend. Sikander Baloch, Aijaz  Panhwer, Altaf Babar , Laraib, Saira, Kamran, Qadir Kandhar, Junaid Ali, Aziz Ansari, Saif are my friends. And of course you, Ali Palh 🙂

Childhood Memories of Tooba

RightsNOW-Pak: How do you see women rights in Sindh? How Sindhi women can come forward and have rights equal to men?

Tooba:  Education. Once a girl is educated she can have her rights. I request all my friends, viewers, respectable Sindh people that please educate your daughters and treat them equally and humanely. NGOs can play important role in awareness of women rights but primary responsibility is of state and our own as a brother, father and male member of society.

RightsNOW-Pak: Any message for people?

Tooba:  Always believe in the best; because, when you believe in the best you have best of the best. Never lose confidence in yourself, if you want to achieve your goals you need to work hard.  In life, never give up. Never! Always remember there is “NO GAIN WITHOUT PAIN”.

RightsNOW-Pak: Thanks Tooba for being with us today.

Tooba:  Thanks to RightsNOW Pak. Takecare.

See Tooba on Screen…….