Thursday, July 31, 2014
In 2013, the world witnessed the largest displacement of religious communities in recent memory. In almost every corner of the globe, millions of Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and others representing a range of faiths were forced from their homes on account of their religious beliefs. Out of fear or by force, entire neighborhoods are emptying of residents. Communities are disappearing from their traditional and historic homes and dispersing across the geographic map. In conflict zones, in particular, this mass displacement has become a pernicious norm.All around the world, individuals were subjected to discrimination, violence and abuse, perpetrated and sanctioned violence for simply exercising their faith, identifying with a certain religion, or choosing not to believe in a higher deity at all. Militants in Pakistan killed more than 400 Shia Muslims in sectarian attacks throughout the year and more than 80 Christians in a single church bombing; the government arrested and jailed a number of those responsible for sectarian attacks, but it generally failed to prevent attacks.
In Pakistan, authorities continue to enforce blasphemy laws and laws designed to marginalize the Ahmadiyya Muslim community; these laws continued to restrict religious freedom, and remained the most visible symbols of religious intolerance.On International Religious Freedom Day, Secretary Kerry stressed that “nations that protect this fundamental freedom will have the partnership of the United States and the abiding commitment of the American people as we seek to advance freedom of religion worldwide.” It is our hope that this year’s report not only identifies the abuses, problems and violations, but also sparks the areas for change, action, and accountability. We invite governments, community groups, faith-based and secular organizations, students, activists, human rights defenders, change makers and every-day citizens to use this report to defend and advance international religious freedom, a universal right which we are all entitled. - See more at: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/religiousfreedom/index.htm#wrapper
http://www.abna.ir/Two Shia Scouts martyred in SSP terrorist attack in Quetta on Eid Day Two Shia Scouts embraced martyrdom due to a targeted attack on their lives by militants of Sipah-e-Sahaba in Quetta on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr. The terrorists opened fire upon Syed Zakir Hussain and Syed Jawad Hussain on Sabzal Road in Quetta. They were martyred due to fatal wounds. Shia trader embraces martyrdom in Karachi
Shia trader, who was seriously injured due to terrorist attack by Sipah-e-Sahaba militants during Ramadan, breathed his last in hospital on Wednesday, second day of Eid-ul-Fitr.
Noman Raza Abidi, a Shia trader of Kareemabad was ambushed near Sohni Mobile Market in Kareemabad of Karachi’s district central. He was under treatment since July 22 (Ramadan 23) at the hospital where he breathed his last on Wednesday.
Shia parties and leaders have condemned the genocide against Shiites. They vowed, they would not sit in comfort and would do everything they can, to stop Shia genocide in Pakistan. They demanded the government to order military for countrywide operation against banned Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi now renamed as ASWJ and all their affiliated takfiri terrorists. They also demanded public hanging of the condemned terrorists.
http://www.ucanews.com/Pakistan's government must investigate the deadly attack on the minority Ahmadi community in Punjab province, Amnesty International said on Wednesday. Amnesty called on citizens to write Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, "urging them to investigate the mob violence." The violent attack occurred on July 27 after an Ahmadi youth posted a picture on the social networking site Facebook that was deemed blasphemous. A 55-year-old woman and two young children were killed in the attack. One of the injured, a pregnant woman, later miscarried in the hospital. Amnesty also urged people to call on authorities to ensure no charges of blasphemy are brought against members of the Ahmadi community. Saleem ud Din, a spokesman for the Ahmadi community, said state authorities are not investigating the case, even though the community has identified numerous suspects. "Those involved in the brutal attack are roaming free in the city while the Ahmadi people are still in hiding due to fear and the tense situation," he said. The Ahmadi community are a religious minority that consider themselves Muslim but are regarded as heretics by most Muslims in Pakistan. They were declared non-Muslims by a constitutional amendment in 1974. In the 1980s, Pakistan's government made it a crime for the Ahmadis to publicly preach or claim they are Muslim, an offense carrying a maximum penalty of life imprisonment or death under blasphemy laws. Pakistan's independent Human Rights Commission said the attack on the Ahmadi community "represents brutalization and barbarism stooping to new lows". "The people who were killed were not even indirectly accused of the blasphemy charge. Their only fault was that they were Ahmadi. Torching women and children in their house simply because of their faith represents brutalization and barbarism stooping to new lows." Read more at: http://www.ucanews.com/news/amnesty-calls-for-probe-into-pakistan-ahmadi-attack/71560
What do the parents think? That's always a crucial question when it comes to vaccinating kids. And it's particularly important in Pakistan, which is one of the last places in the world where the polio virus is still making kids sick.Health workers in Pakistan are trying to convince millions of parents to allow their children take the polio vaccine. But the program faces vehement — and at times violent — opposition. So researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health recently did a poll to find out if parents are part of the problem. The results surprised them. Imagine you're a parent in northwest Pakistan. You live in a remote village, perhaps in a mud hut on top of a mountain. Every few weeks some strangers carrying vials of a clear liquid come knocking on your door. "Frankly, if someone came to my house and said, 'You know, you don't know me from Adam, but I'd like to vaccinate your child,' I wouldn't let them," says Sona Bari, of the World Health Organization. But eradicating polio worldwide depends on these parents in Pakistan saying yes. Strangers showing up at your door isn't the only hurdle to getting children vaccinated. In Pakistan, the Taliban threaten to kill parents who immunize their kids. More than 60 vaccinators have already been killed in the past two years.
Delivering a very strong message to the country's hostile neighbour, the outgoing Army chief General Bikram Singh on Thursday said that his men have avenged the beheading of Indian jawans by the Pakistani troops last year. “We have responded to Pakistan at a tactical level to prevent the recurrence of such incidents in future,” Gen Singh said during a farewell ceremony held here. "We are carrying out tactical operations at the LoC. It is an ongoing process and our soldiers are doing their job...," General Bikram Singh added. When pressed by the reporters to elaborate on the issue, Gen Singh said, “It was done by the local commanders.” On the use of force against Pakistan, he said, “We have always responded to Pakistan at the tactical level on the borders. Use of force has been from tactical to operational to strategic level.” Gen Singh also praised the 1.3 million strong Indian Army and said that it is prepared to take on any challenge. “Indian soldiers are prepared for the line of duty, up for any challenge,” Bikram Singh said. The outgoing Army Chief also extended his good wishes to his successor Dalbir Singh Suhag and said that the Indian Army under him will reach unparalleled heights. "Army is a robust organisation, very very accountable, very responsive, very potent and a very relevant instrument of national power with the capability to take up any challenges," the outgoing army chief said. Lt. Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, whose appointment as Army chief had kicked up a row, today took over as the next head of the 1.3 million strong force succeeding General. Bikram Singh. Gen Singh also visited the Amar Jawan Jyoti before demitting office. After paying tribute to the martyred Indian soldiers, Gen Singh wrote a few words in the visitor's book before departing from the venue. On January 8, 2013, an Indian soldier Hemraj was beheaded by the Pakistani troops in the Mendhar area of Jammu and Kashmir – an incident which further strained the bilateral ties between India and Pakistan. Gen Bikram Singh had then warned Pakistan, saying India reserves the right to retaliate at the "time and place" of its choosing. Gen Singh also said the beheading was "unacceptable" and "most unpardonable" and the troops would respond immediately, aggressively and offensively if provoked.
War on the Rocks
Myra MacDonaldIf you think reconciling the Israelis and Palestinians is hard, try the Indians and Pakistanis. The latest war in Gaza has laid bare India’s and Pakistan’s different views about the Middle East, revealing a great deal about how these countries view themselves and each other. The newly elected Indian government of the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has become more confident about showing sympathy for Israel, bringing to the surface a relationship that has been growing for more than two decades. Pakistan refuses to recognize the Jewish state and its outrage over Palestinian deaths in Gaza is colored by its identity as a country bristling to defend the rights of Muslims around the world, from Palestine to Kashmir. These different worldviews could ultimately exacerbate the historical animosity between the two countries, and pit the pro-Israel Hindu right in India against the hawkish pro-military establishment in Pakistan. In the early decades after independence in 1947, it was India rather than Pakistan that was particularly vocal about the Palestinian cause. The partition of Palestine to create the state of Israel in 1948, coming just one year after British India was partitioned to create Pakistan, was seen in South Asia as a legacy of British imperialism. India’s commitment to champion the Palestinian cause fitted, therefore, with the anti-colonial spirit of the Non-Aligned Movement of which it was a leading member. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi — disliked by Pakistan for her role in its defeat in the 1971 war that led to the creation of Bangladesh — got on particularly well with Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat. In addition to its anti-colonial stance, India had powerful domestic political reasons for supporting the Palestinian cause. The Israel–Palestine conflict is viewed monolithically in South Asia as one primarily between Muslims and non-Muslims. Indian governments, wary of alienating Muslim voters who make up roughly 14% of the electorate, had an incentive to side with the Palestinians. Finally, India was determined to prove its secular credentials. Support for the Palestinians — which was then a leftist cause — was one way for governments in New Delhi to show they could fairly represent both Hindus and Muslims, thus demonstrating that Pakistan had been wrong to insist on the need for a separate homeland for Muslims.
While Pakistan also viewed Israel as having been imposed on Palestine as a result of European colonialism, it was nonetheless more circumspect because of its alliance with the United States during the Cold War. Islamabad’s close ties with Washington also meant it was regarded with suspicion by Arab nationalists and kept at arm’s length. Though Pakistan refused to recognise Israel, Pakistani support for the Palestinians in the early decades after 1947 came from the public rather than officials, who had a different message. Its future military ruler, then-Brigadier Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, massacred Palestinians on behalf of Jordan in the Black September civil war in 1970.
The end of the Cold War, Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait and subsequent defeat by the United States, and India’s own economic liberalization in 1991, all forced New Delhi into a major reappraisal of its policies towards the Middle East. The ideological approach that inspired the Non-Aligned Movement was replaced by a more pragmatic one designed to secure India’s economic and security interests. After siding mainly with secular Arab nationalists in the past, India began to improve relations with Saudi Arabia, a close ally of Pakistan, to secure its energy needs. Its new pragmatism also led it to give full diplomatic recognition to Israel in 1992. The two countries had much in common in terms of security. Both were status quo powers, with less incentive than their enemies to try to change the existing set-up — Israel when it came to Palestinian statehood and India in its conflict with Pakistan over Kashmir. Both were non-Muslim democracies that faced a threat from Islamist militants. Growing defense and security cooperation between the two countries bore fruit during the border war between India and Pakistan in the Kargil region of Jammu and Kashmir in 1999. At the time, India was facing sanctions over its nuclear tests the year before. When India ran short of artillery shells, Israel stepped in to supply them. India and Israel have steadily increased defense cooperation ever since. Among other things, Israel provides India with high-tech defense equipment that New Delhi has traditionally failed to get from the United States because of U.S. laws about transferring sensitive equipment. This includes Israeli Phalcon airborne warning and control systems that could be used against Pakistan. In contrast to India, Pakistan has become, if anything, more ideological in its worldview. After the independence of Bangladesh undermined the raison d’etre for Pakistan as a homeland for India’s Muslims, it became more strident in asserting its Islamic identity. The anti-colonialism fuelling support for Palestinians was viewed through a distinctly Muslim historical narrative , which implied that undivided India might have been freed from British rule far sooner had its Muslim inhabitants not been let down by the Hindus. This narrative also conflated anti-Hinduism with pan-Islamist sentiment in which Pakistan became the defender of all Muslims. This worldview gained in strength over the years as the Pakistan-run jihad against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan melded into its longstanding anti-India stance. Thus, for example, in one typical textbook for “Pakistan Studies” — a compulsory course in the country’s history and ideology — Hindus under the British Raj were players of a double game who let down the Muslims “on account of their primordial psyche.” The Pakistan Studies textbook, this particular one published in 2012 for use at the Islamia College University, Peshawar links Palestine to Kashmir, describing a resolution of both conflicts as integral to Pakistan’s national interests. Importantly, it stresses that Pakistan is committed to the peaceful resolutions of all conflicts, whitewashing Pakistan’s own role in nurturing Islamist militants to counter India, including in Kashmir. The narrative of victimhood, of a peaceful country forced to defend Muslims against threats both near in India and far in Israel, has served Pakistan’s security establishment well, allowing it to justify a large and politically powerful army. It is also self-perpetuating. Pakistan’s external behaviour — exerting influence through the use of Islamist proxies — has led to such difficult relations with India and Afghanistan that it can reasonably claim to be faced with hostile neighbors on both sides. This in turn empowers the military, reinforcing its role in domestic politics. The national narrative — which enmeshes Palestine and Kashmir, pan-Islamism with anti-Hinduism — has so far proved extremely difficult to challenge, whether in seeking peace with India, demanding a stronger role for democracy, or the full-scale dismantling of militant networks inside Pakistan. The different worldviews of India and Pakistan have been on full display since the latest crisis over Gaza erupted. In New Delhi, the BJP-led government made a show of support for Israel by refusing to allow a resolution in parliament condemning it for the strikes on Gaza. In 2006 , Prime Minister Narendra Modi, then chief minister of Gujarat state, visited Israel and promised to return. India’s support for Israel is somewhat hesitant and discreet for now. It voted in favor of a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution launching an investigation into Israeli strikes in Gaza. BJP hawks, however, are calling for India to be much more vocal in supporting Israel. Domestically, the government appears to have room to do so. Having won national parliamentary elections this year despite suspicions over Modi’s role in presiding over the killings of Muslims in communal violence in 2002, the BJP is in a strong position to override any objections at home to warming ties with Israel. Internationally, India has discovered that its relationship with Israel does not prevent it from building ties with Muslim countries, in part due to the Arab world’s own pragmatism and divisions on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and in part reflecting its own growing political and economic clout. Notably, it has been able to improve ties with Saudi Arabia — a country that is militarily close to Pakistan — while maintaining positive relations with Iran, a Saudi and Israeli rival. Growing world anger over high Palestinian civilian casualties might limit India’s public support for Israel in the short term. But the trend is clear. Neither concern about Muslim voters at home, nor traditional “Third Worldism” apply any longer to India’s policies towards Israel. Pakistan responded to the crisis in Gaza by sponsoring the UNHRC resolution setting up an independent commission to investigate Israel’s behavior in Palestinian territory. It also promised to observe a day of mourning for the Palestinians by flying its flag at half-mast. On social media, popular outrage occasionally spilled into outright anti-Semitism — at one point #IfHitlerWasAlive was trending on Twitter in Pakistan. Clearly, Pakistan is not alone in being angered by the scale of Palestinian civilian deaths in Gaza. In other Muslim countries, resentment over Israeli policies is usually wrapped together with dislike of the West. Where Pakistan is unusual, however, is in its degree of hostility toward the United States, Israel’s main backer. The two countries have been at odds since the 1990s over Pakistan’s support for the Islamist militants it nurtured to counter India and exert Pakistani influence in Afghanistan. The U.S.-led overthrow of the Afghan Taliban in 2001 exacerbated these differences without ever fully bringing them to the surface, so that Pakistani public opinion is both deeply hostile and suspicious of anything the United States says or does. Pakistan also has the distinction of mourning Palestinians rather more than its own people at a time of a major domestic refugee crisis. Close to a million people have registered as internally displaced persons after fleeing a military offensive in North Waziristan and there are increasing reports of civilian casualties in an operation that Pakistan, like Israel, says is to eradicate a threat from terrorism.
As the only country created specifically as a homeland for Muslims, and one that sees itself as an ideological Muslim state defending Muslim rights worldwide, Pakistan is particularly susceptible to the influence of external events. When Muslims are perceived to be ill treated by non-Muslims, in Palestine or Kashmir, Pakistan bristles with the sense of victimhood that allows it to justify maintaining a hyper-nationalist militarized state. In turn, it becomes a country that thrives on conflict, and where the military establishment dominates despite its incomplete transition to democracy. This is not necessarily the intention of many Pakistanis standing up for Gaza, but it is the effect. Outrage over Palestine feeds a carefully cultivated national narrative that wraps it together with perceived ill treatment of Muslims in Kashmir and conflates anti-India sentiment with pan-Islamism. Its stance will have no impact on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict; for all its talk of human rights abuses, Pakistan cannot afford to annoy Saudi Arabia by siding too closely with the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Hamas. The different approaches to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, and to the Middle East as a whole, have long been a source of tension between India and Pakistan. By trying to steer a pragmatic course and maintain good relations with all players for its own economic, energy and security interests, India is increasing its diplomatic clout in the Muslim world, the very constituency Pakistan would like to consider its own. In doing so, it is pulling far ahead of its smaller, pricklier neighbor, accentuating Pakistan’s sense of victimhood. India is also using its relationship with Israel to build its high-tech military capabilities, giving Pakistan another cause for anxiety and another reason to prioritise defense spending. While this is a longstanding issue, the latest crisis in Gaza comes at a particularly delicate time for South Asia. Both Kabul and New Delhi fear that as the United States prepares to withdraw more combat troops from the region, Pakistan will step up support for Islamist militants in Afghanistan and Kashmir. Pakistan denies this. Yet in its stridency over Gaza, wearing its support for Palestine as a badge of national honor, Pakistan is showing no sign of stepping away from its national narrative. It is one that leaves no room for pragmatism or compromise. It is not the kind of mood authorities would normally encourage if they planned on making peace with Pakistan’s neighbors. Rather it is one that has spilled into open conflict with India in the past, while reinforcing the power of the military at home.
A recent spate of acid attacks in Balochistan has sparked an impassioned debate about rising Islamisation that is forcing an increasing number of women to stay at home. The horrific crime, which disfigures and often blinds its overwhelmingly female victims, has long been used to settle personal or family scores with hundreds of cases reported every year. But two fresh attacks on consecutive days in the province last week, where until a few years ago such assaults were unheard of, suggests a new pattern is emerging. Last Tuesday, two men on a motorcycle sprayed acid using syringes on two teenage girls who were returning from a market in Mastung town, 40 kilometres from the provincial capital Quetta.
The day before, four women aged between 18 and 50 had suffered the same fate in Quetta, in the market area of Sariab. They were partially burned. “In accordance with our Baloch traditions, they were wrapped in big shawls as well as covering their faces. That... saved (them) from severe injuries,“ said Naz Bibi, mother of two of the victims. Asked about the attackers, she said: “I can only request that they should not treat women in such a cruel way.“ In most acid attack cases around Pakistan, the majority of victims know their attackers. When caught, relatives found guilty speak of punishing their victims for having sullied their “honour” or that of their family with “indecent” behaviour. But, in these latest cases, the victims had no known connection to their assailants — which has led campaigners to suggest the attacks are part of rising religious extremism in the region. Vast and sparsely-populated but rich in resources, Balochistan has long been racked by a separatist insurgency that has staunch leftist secular elements — including strong participation by women — and which reveres Communist icons like Argentine revolutionary Ernesto 'Che' Guevara. Separatists say the attacks on women are the latest battlefront in an ideological war between the rebels, who are fighting for a greater share of the region's mineral and gas wealth, and state-backed Islamist proxies who want to terrorise the population into acquiescence. “The aim of these inhuman acts is to prevent women from participating in education, as well as social, political and economic aspects of life by creating a climate of terror,” said Jahanzaib Jamaldini, vice president of the Baloch National Party, which is fighting for greater autonomy. This week, three more women suffered injuries to their legs and feet in yet another attack — though police and senior officials have so far said the latest incident was a case of a “family feud”. Mohammad Manzoor, a brother of one of the victims, lamented that the attackers were still at large. “They roam the area on motorcycles and the local people have spotted them, “he said. Militant involvement? In the Sariab district of Quetta, the scene of one of last week's attacks, Islamist groups like the Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal-Jammat (ASWJ), are increasingly coming to the fore. Dressed in Arab garb, they are able to roam the area armed with automatic weapons without fear of molestation -- leading many to believe they are given tacit state backing. “ASWJ controls the area with dozens of armed men,” said one young resident, standing under the group's flag as it fluttered in the breeze, adding that their presence scared families into preventing women from being out in public. The group said the accusations were “without any basis”. “We condemn these attacks,” Ramzan Mengal, the group's leader in Balochistan said. The acid attacks also fit a wider pattern of a steady erosion of women's rights, especially in separatist and erstwhile relatively secular strongholds. Al-Furqhan, an obscure militant group, recently appeared in the one-time separatist rebel stronghold of Panjgur district, which borders Iran, threatening private schools over the teaching of girls, according to residents. In an atmosphere rife with fear, no suspects have so far been arrested and no group has claimed responsibility. The first recorded acid attack in Balochistan came in 2010, with two more reported in 2012. Mohammad Aslam, a women's tailor in Sariab, has seen sales drop by three-quarters since the market attack. “Women are afraid to step out of their homes or their men stop them from going,” he said. Shopkeepers in Mastung reported a similar decline in sales. “We fear that such incidents could increase and leave no space for women in an already male-dominated society,” said human rights activist Saima Jawaid.
By AOUN SAHI, SHASHANK BENGALI A six-week Pakistani army offensive has succeeded in disrupting the militant groups that have long enjoyed free rein in the rugged North Waziristan tribal region along the border with Afghanistan, Obama administration officials say. But proof of the operation's success, they say, will be whether groups such as the notorious Haqqani network are allowed to reconstitute themselves in North Waziristan or elsewhere and again plot attacks against U.S.-led forces in neighboring Afghanistan or elsewhere. Previous Pakistani offensives in the tribal belt have either ignored groups like the Haqqanis — who are blamed for deadly attacks against U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan — or allowed them to return. U.S. military officials believe that top levels of Pakistan's security establishment back the Haqqanis as a proxy force to maintain influence in Afghanistan. But with most U.S. forces withdrawing from Afghanistan at the end of the year, the U.S. military's ability to battle the Haqqani network is expected to diminish sharply. Obama administration officials have pressed Pakistan's military leaders in a series of meetings this month to ensure the group does not escape the current operation.
"We keep telling them they must go after all the terrorists and that they cannot cherry-pick," said a senior U.S. official who requested anonymity to discuss the sensitive talks. "We've been quite emphatic about that."Pakistan insists that no insurgent groups will be spared in the offensive, which began in mid-June and has resulted in the deaths of more than 500 militants and the seizure of large weapons caches and bomb-making factories, according to unconfirmed Pakistani army reports.
But some officials say that insurgents fled the area before the start of the offensive, which had been rumored for several months. U.S. officials have not received photographs or other visual evidence from Pakistan showing it has directly targeted the Haqqani network. In the end, the senior U.S. official said, "We end up having a good conversation but the bottom line is we have to be convinced there is no reconstituting of terrorist facilities and safe havens."Some analysts believe that Pakistan is taking action now because of a provision in the 2015 Pentagon budget that could withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in counter-terrorism funding unless Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel certifies that Pakistan has "significantly disrupted the safe haven and freedom of movement of the Haqqani network." Now that they have begun such an operation, "the Pakistanis are making an argument in Washington that they should be given continued coalition support," C. Christine Fair, author of "Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army's Way of War," told the Times of India in an interview this week. Pakistan has received $28 billion in U.S. military and economic aid since 2002, and additional expenditures would be "outrageous," she said.
Pakistan has not given a timetable for the offensive, which began with airstrikes and has proceeded to ground operations in Miram Shah and Mir Ali, the largest towns in North Waziristan, which are now mostly controlled by the military. Pakistani officials declined to comment specifically on the Haqqani network, which analysts regard as one of the most experienced insurgent groups fighting in Afghanistan. The group, led by Sirajuddin Haqqani, is under the umbrella of the Afghan Taliban but is seen as being more closely linked to Al Qaeda's central leadership. U.S. military leaders have long believed that Pakistan did not target the Haqqani network before because it does not carry out attacks in Pakistan. Afghan authorities also accuse Pakistan of sparing the Haqqani network in the current offensive, arguing that no senior commander in the group has been reported killed.
Last week, a spokesman for the Afghan intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security, alleged that Pakistan's security establishment had shifted Haqqani fighters to safe places before the operation began, prompting swift denials from Pakistani officials.At a news conference the next day, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said Afghanistan, whose army is struggling to contain a domestic Taliban insurgency, should take action against militants fleeing over the border from Pakistan. "It is … our expectation that action would be taken on the Afghan side to check the fleeing terrorists and not to allow Afghan territory to be used by anti-Pakistan elements," Chaudhry said. Tribal leaders who spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared reprisals from the militants have said the Haqqanis and other groups fled North Waziristan in the days before the operation began. With less than one-third of the tribal region reportedly under government control, many fighters are believed to have taken refuge in other areas of North Waziristan, including Datta Khel, the site of recent U.S. drone strikes, and in the thickly forested Shawal valley.
Rahimullah Yusufzai, a Pakistani journalist who closely follows militant groups, said the current operation has displaced the Haqqani network but the insurgents, who typically operate in groups of about 20, would eventually be able to regroup and plot attacks in Afghanistan from elsewhere in the area. "It would take some time for them to establish their training and communication facilities at some other place," he said, and targeting Afghan border provinces such as Khowst and Paktika soon "would not be a problem for them."
Ahmadiyya TimesAn independent religious freedom watchdog panel has welcomed the State Department’s annual religious freedom report and its list of the world’s worst offenders, which had laid dormant for three years. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) was created in 1998, and serves as an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom was created in 1998 as an independent, bipartisan body. Public domain image The list of “countries of particular concern” had remained unchanged since 2006 — and hasn’t been formally issued by the State Department since 2011 — when Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan were cited. In April, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended that the list be doubled to include Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Vietnam, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Nigeria and Egypt. Turkmenistan was the only new addition to this year’s CPC list, bringing the total to nine countries. The State Department and the independent USCIRF have often been at odds on who makes the list of worst offenders, and in a statement, USCIRF noted the “disappointing omission” of Pakistan in particular. “Pakistan represents the worst situation in the world for religious freedom for countries not currently designated by the U.S. government as CPCs,” said USCIRF Chair Katrina Lantos Swett. Katrina Lantos Swett serves as Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. On Sunday (July 27) ,a violent mob torched at least eight homes in an Ahmadi Muslim neighborhood in eastern Pakistan after a member of the minority sect was accused of posting a blasphemous photo online. A woman, two children and an unborn baby died in the blaze. Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK reports that since 1984, 244 Ahmadis have been murdered in Pakistan because of their faith. Ahmadi Muslims are considered heretics in Pakistan, and it is a criminal offense for them to identify as Muslim. Those who do may be subject to harsh anti-blasphemy laws, which include the death penalty among other punishments. Other religious minorities, including Shiite Muslims, Sufis, Christians, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Baha’is, have also been subject to attack in the Sunni-majority state. Syria was also left off the CPC list, even as the country’s civil war continues to devolve along sectarian lines. Militants from the Islamic State have persecuted Syria’s Alawite Muslim sect and Christians in Syria and Iraq. The extremist group’s recent ultimatum to Iraqi Christians in Mosul that they convert to Islam or face execution will likely bring further pressure on the State Department to add both countries to its CPC list next year. USCIRF also welcomed Monday’s nomination of a new ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, Rabbi David Saperstein. If confirmed by the Senate, Saperstein would be the first non-Christian to hold the position since its inception in 1998. The post has been empty since October.
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
China’s Special Envoy for the Middle East Wu Sike affirmed that finding a political solution to the crisis in Syria will contribute in spreading peace and stability in the region and the world as a whole. Chinese News Agency (Xinhua) quoted Wu as saying in a press conference that the deteriorating situation in Iraq threatens all other countries of the world, adding that what is happening in Iraq could not be separated from the crisis in Syria. He called on the international community to abandon the double standards regarding countering terrorism.
The Chinese official also called for supporting Iraqi government, stressing that China is confident in Iraq’s various sides’ ability to boost cooperation to overcome the current difficult conditions.
A strong desire to leave a legacy comparable to that of Deng Xiaoping and a sense of crisis over the survival of the Communist Party are driving President Xi Jinping's relentless fight against corruption, say people connected to the party's inner circle. The president will use the crusade against corruption to sweep away resistance to his ambitious reform agenda, as entrenched interest groups have become too powerful and are reluctant to change, they say. Xi, who greatly admires Deng, wanted to become a leader in a similar vein, who could lead China into a new era of reform and growth, said sources including senior officials and "princelings" - the children of former high-ranking leaders. They said Xi identified himself strongly as a member of the princeling group and saw it as his mandate and mission to revive the party, whose ruling bases have been eroded by rampant corruption and bureaucracy. "Xi is inspired to claim his own place in history as one of the party greats. To achieve this, he needs to consolidate power and weaken the resistance to reforms," said a princeling who has known the president for decades. "He [Xi] could take it easy by finishing his time in office without making any major change, just like his predecessor [President Hu Jintao ] did. "But he chose a more difficult path because of his strong sense of responsibility as a son of the revolutionaries." The president's father, Xi Zhongxun , who died in 2002, was a party elder who helped establish the People's Republic in 1949 and later led the vanguard of Deng's economic reforms in the late 1970s. While both his predecessors launched anti-corruption campaigns in the early days of their presidencies, Xi's drive is unprecedented. On Tuesday, China broke the decades-old political taboo of not prosecuting the highest-ranking officials for corruption by publicly announcing a probe into former security tsar Zhou Yongkang . Just a month ago, the leadership under Xi expelled a former vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, Xu Caihou , from the party for corruption.
The release of a video allegedly showing a group of jihadists gathered for prayer in the rural part of Istanbul has sparked concerns in Turkey.
The video has prompted deputy Sezin Tanrıkulu of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) to question whether the gathering took place upon consent from both the police department and the Gendarmerie Command.
“Is the claim that the group alleged to have been the Turkey-branch of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL] has been allocated a campground or other places in Istanbul? Who is this group? Of whom does it consist?” asked Tanrıkulu in a motion filed to the parliamentary speaker’s office on July 30 in order to be answered by Interior Minister Efkan Ala.
Tanrıkulu asked for the locations of the camps if the claim was true and added: “Where is the field where the group, alleged to be the Turkey-extension of ISIL, used for holiday celebration that it organized in Istanbul on July 28, to which hundreds of people attended, as openly seen in the photographs?” The related video was released through a Turkish website administered by a group apparently close to ISIL. According to the website, the group gathered in the rural part of Istanbul for prayer and celebrations on the first day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, July 28. Tanrıkulu also asked whether it is true that the group “declared jihad in Turkey on July 28,” and whether the field in the footage was being used by the group for military training.
“Did the organization ask for permission, arranged in the name of holiday celebrations? Which authorities granted the group official permission? Why weren’t these people directed to mosques for Eid prayer, but were let to organize a holiday celebration in a field? What were the Istanbul Provincial Police Department and Provincial Gendarmerie Command doing during the hours when the group, which is the extension of the ISIL terrorist organization, was calling for jihad in Istanbul? Is it true that Istanbul Provincial Police Department and Gendarmerie Command were ordered not to interfere when the group, the extension of a terrorist organization, was calling for jihad in Istanbul? Who gave these orders?” Tanrıkulu asked. ISIL recently renamed itself simply as the Islamic State (IS). The IS stormed the Turkish Consulate-General on June 10 and has since been holding all 49 there hostage, including Turkey’s Consul General Özturk Yılmaz.
Soldiers of the Iraqi army have been engaged in heavy fighting with the militants on different fronts and have so far been able to push back militants in several areas. Maliki has said Saudi Arabia and Qatar are responsible for the security crisis and growing terrorism in his country, denouncing the Al Saud regime as a major supporter of global terrorism.
An Islamic State fighter, who is in Ankara for medical care, told a Turkish journalist that since the war in Syria began, the “AKP government has helped us a lot.” The Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor of MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute) exclusively provided The Jerusalem Post with a report on Tuesday based on an interview of the fighter by journalist Deniz Kahraman from the left liberal Aydinlik and the OdaTV website, in which the fighter says that Turkey had a crucial role in the group’s advance. The Islamist AK Party is headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "Turkey paved the way for us. Had Turkey not shown such understanding for us, the Islamic State would not be in its current place. It [Turkey] showed us affection. Large number of our mujahedeen received medical treatment in Turkey,” said the Islamic State fighter. “We do not have the support of Saudi Arabia, but many Saudi families who believe in jihad do assist us. But anyhow, we will no longer need it, soon,” he said. "We will build the Islamic state in the territories from Tigris to Jordan and Palestine and to Lebanon. Sunni Law will rule,” he added. The Islamic State fighter explained his personal history, how he has been fighting with jihadist groups for the past 12 years, first taking part in fighting against the Americans in Fallujah, Iraq. He told the Turkish journalist how he had established a relationship with al-Qaida in Iraq and trained in small groups, learning to fight, gather intelligence, Islamic jurisprudence, and politics. “I joined the system of cells in 2010 and moved into Syria in 2011. At that time, all groups fighting against Assad were joining forces. We fought on multiple fronts with different groups and under different commanders,” he said according to MEMRI. “But when the lack of faith among the Free Syrian Army became apparent, we changed our paths,” he said adding, “When ISIS [precursor to the Islamic State] declared itself, we started fighting under its banner. I participated in 12 operations against the Kurds, and personally directed the three raids into Kamishli.” The fighter went on to assert the intelligence services of many countries “are making attempts to contact us,” pointing out that France, German, and the Dutch have been especially interested as of late. “Rather than being interested in what we do in Syria or Iraq, these countries want to learn about our mujahideen's activities in their countries.” The jihadi added that the Islamic State currently has mujahideen from 21 countries, not all Muslim ones, including from Europe and Russia. He also said that there were fighters from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkey.MEMRI report on interview of jihadi: 'We will build the Islamic state in the territories from Tigris to Jordan and Palestine and to Lebanon. Sunni Law will rule.'
Istanbul’s Sevda Tepesi (Love Hill), which has belonged to the king of Saudi Arabia since 1984, has returned to the agenda after the main opposition said a construction permit for the hill was granted only after Saudi Arabia sent $100 million to a charity that counts the prime minister’s son as one of the board members. Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu submitted a parliamentary question yesterday asking if the Service for Youth and Education Foundation of Turkey (TÜRGEV), a charity NGO that includes Bilal Erdoğan, son of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, among its board members, had received $99,999,900 donation in its account at Vakıfbank on April 26, 2012, in return for a construction permit for Saudi King Abdullah’s plot of land on the shores of the Bosphorus. The permit was given only two months after the money transaction sent by chief of the Royal Protocol, which conducts protocol and agreements for the king, the CHP deputy added.
Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç confirmed at the time that TÜRGEV had received $99,999,900 in aid from abroad between 2008 and 2012. Tanrıkulu also asked if the king had formally applied for the permission to conduct construction and, if so, its date, as well as why the permit was not given.
The property was reportedly purchased by King Abdullah in 1984.
Hundreds of Turkish women posted pictures of themselves laughing on Twitter on Wednesday to protest against comments by Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc who had urged women not to laugh in public to “protect moral values.”Melda Onur, a lawmaker from the main opposition party CHP said on Twitter Arinc's comments portrayed laughing as a dishonorable act and left women exposed to violence.
Opponents accuse Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government of ruling in an increasingly authoritarian manner and meddling in people's private lives, which has long been a source of conflict between the country's secularists and Erdogan's conservative supporters.
Erdogan is running to become the first directly elected president of predominantly Muslim Turkey.
Arinc's comments, in which he also criticized television soap operas for promoting decadence, also drew criticism from opposition presidential candidate Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu who tweeted: “Our country needs our women to laugh and to hear everyone's joyful laughter more than ever.”
Moscow is concerned by reports that Ukraine’s government troops have used ballistic missiles against independence supporters in the country’s east, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday. Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko Tuesday confirmed the country’s readiness to provide access to international experts to the crash site of the Malaysia Airlines passenger plane in Donetsk Region, declaring a unilateral ceasefire within a 20-kilometer (12-mile) radius. “Now, unfortunately, actions suggest the opposite: Donetsk, Luhansk and other villages in these regions are being shelled with Grad rocket launchers, artillery and tanks.” On Tuesday, citing US officials CNN reported that Ukraine’s government troops used short-range ballistic missiles in the east. The weapons have a range of about 50 miles and pack warheads of up to 1,000 pounds. These missiles could have been fired from a Tochka short-range ballistic missile system (NATO Designation SS-21 Scarab), the report said. If the reports are accurate, these are “the most deadly missiles to date used in the conflict,” CNN said. “All this is concerning, and everything is happening amid allegations that Russia and the militia are impeding inspectors’ access to the [Boeing] crash site,” Lavrov told a group of young Tajik diplomats. The military governor of Luhansk, Serhiy Grachev, said earlier Tuesday eastern Ukrainian militia forces have found what appears to be a ballistic missile warhead in Luhansk Region. A spokesman from Ukraine’s National Security information center, Andriy Lysenko, rejected the report, saying that Ukraine has no such missiles. The Russian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that the Kiev government intensified military operations against its own people after getting support from Western countries. Moscow has described the ongoing military action as a punitive operation and has repeatedly called on Kiev to put an immediate end to the bloodshed.
http://abbtakk.tv/Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon has said that Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) is afraid of declaring Taliban as Terrorist adding that government is trying to create conflicts between army and political parties.
Addressing the press conference in Hyderabad the Minister said Prime Minsiter Nawaz Sharif has been given wrong advices by his ministers. He suggested Premier to act wisely.
He demanded that Government should withdraw its decision regarding calling army in the capital. Sindh Information Minister said the government is trying to create conflict between political parties and army as political thinking is lacking in the government’s approach.
Sharjeel opined that Punjab government’s act in the Model Town Incident was barbaric.
By Raffaello Pantucci
The appointment of a former ambassador to Kabul and New Delhi by China to the role of Special Envoy for Afghanistan highlights China’s thinking of what it can do in Afghanistan.China is not seeking a leadership role in the country, but is rather looking for regional partners to support its efforts. A key partner is being sought in New Delhi where the Narendra Modi administration has welcomed Xi Jinping’s early overtures for a closer broader relationship. The opportunity presents itself that Afghanistan’s two largest Asian neighbours might be on the cusp of closer cooperation to help the nation onto a more stable footing. It is clear that there are issues with Sino-Indian collaboration on Afghanistan. First among these are differing perceptions on Pakistan and its responsibility and role in Afghanistan’s current predicament. For China, Pakistani security forces are trying to deal with a monster within their country with links across the border. For Indian authorities, it remains a Frankenstein’s monster of Pakistani construction that is, therefore, fundamentally theirs to address. China’s particularly close relationship with Pakistan plays into this divide, raising concerns in New Delhi as well as complicating China’s approaches to Afghanistan. Nevertheless, all three sides (China, India and Pakistan) seem to have found some way of working through these concerns, as there has been considerable movement and public discussion (including this project the author has been working on) between China and India in particular about their future collaborations in Afghanistan. All of this highlights how divergent views on Pakistan aside there remains substantial scope for cooperation between the two in Afghanistan. In particular, both sides agree that terrorism in Afghanistan is a problem that needs to be addressed and a part of this is through the strengthening of Afghanistan’s security forces. Neither power is going to send forces, but there does seem to be the possibility of some agreement to increase their security training contribution. While this has to be managed carefully, it is clear that there is a need to do something to support the Afghan National Security Forces post-2014, and in particular with the more than 100,000 men under arms who will become unemployed in line with the Chicago declarations of shrinking the ANSF from 350,000 to around 228,500. One idea would be that China and India step in to find a way to support the transformation of some of these men into a ‘mineral protection corps’ or some other paramilitary role that means they will continue to retain jobs rather than becoming unemployed men with arms and military training. This is a logical lead for China and India given it is most likely to be their national firms that are coming in to rebuild Afghanistan and profit from its mineral wealth.
Beyond this, the most obvious strand of cooperation between the two in Afghanistan lies in focusing on developing the country’s economy and building the nation’s technocratic infrastructure. This works through governments ensuring their state-owned firms (those most likely to be investing substantially in Afghanistan’s economy in the future given their higher risk threshold and capacity to make major infrastructure investments adjacent to mineral extraction projects) maintain a certain level of coordination when building infrastructure and that they agree to not go below certain thresholds of corruption when entering into deals within the country.Given it is state-owned firms that make the most investments in Afghanistan, it is more likely that governments in either country will be able to drive policies forwards in this direction. They can further consolidate this with support to Afghanistan’s bureaucratic future through the creation of a large pool of scholarships at their technical universities for young Afghans. This will have the effect of building a soft link between the nations as well as provide Afghanistan with the needed technocratic capability that will help it build institutions to confidently rebuild the country. The net result of these efforts is likely to be incremental. Neither China nor India are going to take the lead in Afghanistan having watched the West flounder for the past decade. At the same time, both have an interest in rebuilding Afghanistan and have many of the necessary levers of power to make a difference. The longer-term benefit of this cooperation is a tangible result for the increasingly warming Sino-Indian relationship — something that will only strengthen the hands of both powers in Asian affairs. Afghanistan could become the starting point of a new Asian order, increasingly led by billion-person giants China and India.
On Wednesday the Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced their acceptance of the United Nations (UN) proposition on the recount and invalidation of ballots, but the presidential candidates have not yet agreed. The UN proposal includes a total of 13 points that outline the invalidation of ballots and ballot boxes. Five points are in regards to the invalidation of ballots and the remaining eight are the criteria for the cancellation of ballot boxes as a whole. The IEC confirmed their agreement to the UN plan at the IEC headquarter in Kabul in the presence of Ján Kubiš, head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). The audit process was postponed until the third day of Eid, but on Wednesday IEC said that the audit procedure will commence on Saturday. Meanwhile, all the election observers will be trained in accordance to the audit criteria until then.
THREE airless aluminium warehouses, shaped like giant armadillos, sit hunched on the outskirts of Kabul. Inside hundreds of volunteers and international election observers have been bustling around in stifling heat, arguing over the shape of tick-marks on individual ballots. During Ramadan the lack of food and drink made the stale atmosphere inside the godowns all the more draining. The Ramadan fast has since broken, but the counting goes on. Until it has finished, the presidential election that was supposed to replace Hamid Karzai hangs in suspension. After a surprising reversal of fortunes suddenly favoured Ashraf Ghani in the second round of the presidential elections, his opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, cried foul. Alleging fraud, several of his powerful supporters threatened to establish a breakaway government. It took an emergency agreement brokered by John Kerry, America’s secretary of state, to keep the process alive, but the deal is starting to show some of its inherent flaws. Mr Kerry has moved on and the two presidential hopefuls are now left to wrestle over its shortcomings.
To prevent Afghanistan from splitting down the middle, the candidates committed themselves to a two-pronged agreement: a full, internationally supervised audit of all 8m votes cast; and the formation of a government of national unity. Mr Ghani and Mr Abdullah were induced to hug each other before Mr Kerry and the cameras on July 12th. Since then the mood has soured. One dispute is over the national-unity bit of the deal. Mr Ghani and Mr Abdullah agreed to divide power between the president and a “chief of the executive council”, to be nominated by the losing side. In two years’ time, a loya jirga (a gathering of tribal elders, local power-brokers and elected officials) is to vote on the option to turn the new executive role into the post of prime minister.
To this extent, both sides agree. The balance of power, however, is a matter of debate. Mr Abdullah is pushing for something close to a 50-50 division of power. Mr Ghani however, perhaps feeling confident that his contested lead will stand up in the face of the audit, seems reluctant to put too much “share” in power-sharing. Referring to the Afghan constitution, his side insists that the real power must remain in the hands of the president. “Nobody can push the president,” as Abbas Noyan, a member of Mr Ghani’s team, puts it. He says Mr Ghani is committed to the agreement, but that “further details about the national-unity government will be discussed after the announcement of the audit result.” Mr Noyan claims that positions in the unity government must be based on merit, not simply on whomever the losing side chooses to introduce. And that the leader of the opposition is supposed to be someone who is loyal to the government of the president. A prime-ministerial post may be established, Mr Noyan allows, “but we will not change the system to a parliamentary one.” It becomes unclear exactly what power will be left to the executive council—Mr Ghani’s side says that its chief will be “responsible for implementing government policies”.
A decade ago it was widely thought that democracy in fissiparous Afghanistan could only work with a strong central authority. But Mr Karzai's unsatisfactory and increasingly whimsical rule, under which cronies flourished, has underlined the disadvantages of an overstrong presidency. When the Kerry deal was announced, Mr Karzai called it “a bitter pill”. As it turns out, some Afghan voters are finding it hard to swallow. “They don’t respect our votes,” said Lutfuddin Osmani, a 28-year-old NGO worker. “Why did they have to spend so much money on the elections, if [the candidates] are going to share the power anyway?” As a result of this dispute, talks behind the scenes have stalled. Mr Ghani and Mr Abdullah have met only twice since Mr Kerry’s visit, most recently on July 18th. The technical part of the agreement also provides grounds for disagreement. As the audit limps along, the agents of both candidates are arguing strenuously over minor details. Should they void only individual votes that appear spoiled? Or should they dump the whole of any contaminated ballot box? In what cases does a sharp increase in voter turnout warrant suspicion? Can a fingerprint stand in for a tick mark? Initially scheduled for four weeks, the audit was suspended for the third time on July 26th, and will not resume until after Eid. At its current pace, Afghanistan will not have a new president to inaugurate until December. Mr Kerry’s mission to Kabul left many Afghans feeling relieved. He appeared to have salvaged an election in which Western donors had invested over $130m. But neither of the rivals seems to have accepted the basic fact of the contest between them: one of the two must lose more than the other. Stalling and prevarication are the only outcomes on which they seem to stand in agreement.
The Chief Minister of Balochistan time and again expresses his determination to promote education in Balochistan. According to Chief Minister of Balochistan his Government has imposed educational emergency. He claims that the educational budget has been raised from 4 per cent to 25 per cent. We also hear about the efforts to provide all the modern facilities to the younger generations for ensuring them quality education and facilitated life to the masses in the fields of education, health and other fields. However, the above mentioned quotations seem not less than exaggerations when we see teachers demanding for their salaries in different parts of Balochistan. The overstatements of educational revolution in Balochistn become unsound when we see number of hurdles confronting education sector in Balochistan, where one of them is no payment of salaries to the female teachers appointed mostly in primary schools in different districts of Balochistan. Currently more than 150 Teachers are demanding for their salaries who were appointed in last five years by United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). Recently, more than dozens of female teachers held a press conference in Khuzdar and said that they were forced to starve due to no salary for more than ten months. According to them through an agreement between government of Baluchistan and UNICEF’s education section they were appointed and it was agreed that they would be regularized after three years; however, since UNICEF concluded its project in Kalat division they were not being paid. They added that after UNICEF‘s project conclusion government of Balochistan was responsible to pay their salaries. The teachers’ appealed government of Balochistan to recognize their plea so that they continue their services to the nation. They said that if they discontinued teaching as protest so it would affect educational career of thousands of students. The teachers from Khuzdr demanded that government should prove itself as education welcoming and fulfill their demands. A group of teacher from Kalat district also informed The Balochistan Point that all Joiner English Teachers appointed by UNICEF have been deprived of their salaries, therefore, to pressurize the government and responsible authorizes they have decided to boycott taking classes at their schools. They further said that if they were not paid salaries and be regularized soon they would prolong their protest for their right. No doubt, despite huge amount of funds allocated for educational development no remarkable changes have been witnessed. Numbers of schools are still with no facility, even the books have not been provided to the students required in the middle and high sections in the schools. It is need of the time government should be sincere in its promises and rather than doing its own hyperboles it should make tangible measures. Governments’ first and foremost priority should be provision of salaries to the female teachers, assurance of facilities and protection of teachers in the already backward Balochistan. If possible theses teachers, who have been serving for more than five year should be permanent so that government’s sincerity is proved regarding the dream of educated Balochistan.
An acid attack in Pishin district of Balochistan inflicted wounds on six women. This is the third acid attack on women in Balochistan during last 10 days.
According to the district administration of Pishin, the brutal attack took place in Tang area of Pishin district. Four assailants entered a house and sprayed acid on faces of women. The assailants managed to flee the crime scene without any problem. The acid attack victims were rushed to the nearest hospital. Luckily, the acid didn’t damage the faces of the women and only their feet were damaged. Deputy Commissioner of Pishin, Bashir Bazai, ruled out the involvement of religious extremists in the acid attack. An old personal enmity was the reason behind the acid attack, added Deputy Commissioner. It must be noted that government officials are quick to declare personal enmity the reason behind any criminal activity. This transfers the blame away from the government officials to some extent. The statement by Deputy Commissioner should be taken in the same context. In Baloch and Pashtun society there is no perception of attacking women in tribal or family feuds. So, the claim that perpetrators of the acid attack were motivated by family feud is absurd at best. Third acid attack on women in Balochistan within last 10 days has put serious question marks on governance of Dr. Malik. No action has been taken against the perpetrators of the first two attacks and it’s less likely that the attackers of Pishin attack will ever be apprehended.
By Kashmala Chaudhry Pakistan has finally launched a military offensive against militants using its land for terrorism. The operation Zarb-e-Azb has been going on since mid-June with its full pace in the North Waziristan Agency of Pakistan, from where local and foreign militants were not only operating against Pakistan but were aiming at international targets as well. So far the operation is going on successfully in Mirali after clearing Miranshah, Boya and Degan areas of North Waziristan Agency from terrorists. More than 500 terrorists have been killed, and dozens of hideouts wiped out. Tons of armor, numerous improvised explosive device (IED) making factories have been recovered along with notebooks with clear English handwriting and formulae for explosive materials. All of this depicts how once considered strategic assets are now playing in hands of foreign forces. The operation, however, is aimed at eliminating terrorism from Pakistan and according to the premier it could bring peace to the motherland. In this wake, Pakistan army has pledged not to spare any militant be it local or be it a foreign militant. Although security institutes are determined at driving all the terrorists out of the country yet the question that remains integral to address is will this operation alonebe enough to eliminate terrorism from Pakistani soil. Especially when internationally declared terrorists organizations like Jammat ud Dawa are still operating freely in the rest of Pakistan and are even alleged to have the support of the state. The question is when we are going to learn from our mistakes.
We nurtured the Taliban, though it is considered as a requirement of the time by some to secure our western borders because there were no other options to stop the proceedings of the then USSR. Today, these Taliban have become tools in the hands of foreign forces and are used against Pakistani soil. They have done irreparable damage to the country economically, socially, and in terms of precious lives that cannot come back ever. They have damaged the country’s image too. Yet we haven’t learnt from this mistake and are giving protection to groups like Jamat-ud-Dawa. On the one hand the state is carrying out an operation against Taliban and like-minded organizations in one part of the country, and on the other hand it is allowing these groups to move freely in the main centers of Pakistan and to recruit our youth to fulfill their agenda. Hafiz Saeed the head of JuD with a 10 million bounty on his head by the US has huge fan base in Pakistan and his gatherings attract massive crowds. Though at the moment Saeed might not seem as a threat to Pakistan — like the Taliban were once considered friends of Pakistan – however, history shows that such groups with extremist mind-sets cannot be trusted. As Hussain Nadim maintained in 2013, Saeed, a reformed militant acting on the behalf of the state, is considered a key figure by the security establishment who would either assemble militants and mollify their enmity against Pakistan or would evolve them into political actors. History, however, shows that these extremist groups cannot be trusted. Appeasing them and molding them in favor of Pakistan is not going to work. Because time and again it has been experienced that no agreement can bind them to remain faithful towards the state. And if these militants converted into political actors they again could not be considered safe because their mindset and ideology would remain the same. To eliminate terrorism, this mindset needs to be defeated. Reforms and rehabilitation policy is required at massive scale and at national level. In this regard not only curricula revision and madrassa transformation is required, but all those Dars centers which are operating as established institutions or from homes should be closed. These Dars centers are preaching extreme interpretations of religion and are attended by hundreds of women. These women are responsible for running the institution of their families. If the mindset of these women is inclined towards extremism, then growing up their children as balanced individuals who can turn down the fancy calls by such radical jammats would become difficult. And most important of all the state should abandon all such organizations which could again become a threat to Pakistan in the future.
The government has also kept close tabs on the spread of perceived blasphemy online, initiating monitoring services for sites like Google and Yahoo in 2010. Facebook was also temporarily banned that year in advance of an event called “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day,” which was a response to censorship of a South Park episode in which the Prophet Muhammad was visually obscured by a black box.
The recent violence was condemned by a spokesman for the Ahmadi community, who alleged that the accused individual in question had his Facebook password stolen, which resulted in the image being posted. A representative of the Ahmadi Muslim community did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast. Nor did the Embassy of Pakistan in the United States. Taha Siddiqui, the Pakistan correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor, told me that he spoke with other members of the Ahmadi faith who had been targeted with violence as well. “So I spent an evening with some Ahmadis tonight in Karachi where I’m visiting my own family for Eid,” Siddiqui said in an email, referring to the ceremonial breaking of the fast after Ramadan. “Met a guy who was shot thrice and survived. He says he was targeted because of his faith.” This is by no means an isolated incident, according to Pakistani lawyer Yasser Latif Hamdani, who also suggested that anything that goes online could draw the unwanted attention of extremists. “Ahmadis have been persecuted by the Sunni majority increasingly over the past few years,” Hamdani, known for his advocacy for the Ahmadi community in Pakistan, told The Daily Beast. “As a lawyer I would say that there is no protection for content produced on social media. Pretty much any content produced can land you in trouble and it has in the past.” The rise in Islamic extremism has been widely reported in Pakistan, creating a situation so dangerous in recent years that even those who choose to defend individuals charged with blasphemy are putting their lives at risk. Rashid Rehman was assassinated in his office earlier this year after defending a university lecturer accused of blasphemy. “It just tells you how deeply felt and how dangerous this law can be in terms of motivating people towards extra-judicial violence,” Kine said. In 2011, then Prime Minister Yousaf Gilani asserted that there would be no changes to the controversial blasphemy law, even after another politician and former governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, Salman Taseer was killed for denouncing the strict legal code. With social media being increasingly used as a method of discussing and protesting religious beliefs, it seems like there is no discernable end in sight for prosecution of blasphemy in Pakistan. “The immediate aftermath has been shock and expressions of outrage but soon it will die down and be forgotten as inevitably any tragedy in recent years has in this country,” Hamdani said. “For the Ahmadi Muslim community it has been another incident in a long list of violent outrages against them in the last four years.” And despite persistent efforts from human rights groups, the law doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon.
“The key is the state stepping up, the Pakistani government stepping up and realizing that this law is facilitating some of the extremely negative and extremely violent tendencies of a very small minority,” Kine said. “All I can tell you, is it’s a very, very uphill fight.”