My Pakistani of the Year 2021: Ali Wazir

Source: YouTube

Ali Wazir has earned a distinction. Probably no other sitting MP has been incarcerated this long for simply making a statement. The charge against him, “hate speech,” and treason. It is grand coming from a country that penalizes people for blasphemy and protects hate speech against its minority communities.

Ali Wazir represents the most alienated communities in the Waziristan District of the newly merged and formerly Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Ever since the deaths of his family members at the hands of Taliban terrorists, he with other tribal leaders such as Mohsin Dawar and Manzoor Pashteen initiated the non-violent Pashtun Tahafuz Movement or the Pashtun Protection Movement. The movement criticizes the ethnic profiling of Pashtuns by the Pakistani state establishment.

Ali Wazir was arrested in Karachi on the charge of making anti-state statements by the orders of Sindh High Court. It was only this November, that the Supreme Court ordered his bail after months of incarceration.

There is a reason why Ali Wazir is important for Pakistan this year. He has shown a nation largely forgetful or ignorant of democratic resistance a way to resist a draconian and authoritarian state establishment in a peaceful and persistent manner. He, along with his colleague Mohsin Dawar, are changing the face of democratic consciousness in a country that remains alien to democracy and where the deep state sponsors terror-wrecking theocratic lunatics like the TLP.

Read about my Pakistani of the year 2020 here.

Pakistani Free Speech Hero of the Year: Hamid Mir

Journalists in Pakistan are either at the forefront of accomplishing great, brave things or being the worst mouthpieces of the establishment. Such are the hazards in this great profession in a dangerous, authoritarian country like Pakistan. But none are braver than those who openly speak truth to power. He has paid the price for it before by enduring a shooting and now he has paid it with a self-imposed exile. Hamid Mir has made himself distinct in the company of his peers where others will bow out.

Hamid Mir has done this time and again and has bravely and boldly criticized the military establishment for their draconian authoritarianism, which almost puts him in the political activism area with this rhetoric. However, with the state machinery at war with the journalists of the country, what choice is he and other journalists are left with?

All of them are free speech heroes. But some more than others.

Read about my Pakistani free speech hero for the year 2020 here.