Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Music: Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Want To Have Fun

Sri Lanka: Court approves deporting of Pakistani refugees and asylum seekers

The Court of Appeal today gave permission to authorities to send back scores of Pakistani asylum seekers, after the government said they were a threat to the island’s security and public health.
Deputy Solicitor General Janak de Silva asked the Appeal court to lift an earlier suspension of deportations, saying there was evidence Pakistanis were committing crimes and bringing malaria into the country, which was otherwise virtually free of the disease, the Reuters news agency reported.
“Interim relief was vacated and the court has dismissed the application. Now all the asylum seekers are exposed to deportation if government wants,” said Lakshan Dias, lawyer of a 38-year-old Pakistani woman who complained after her husband, brother and father were detained pending deportation.
The court on Aug. 15 ordered authorities to temporarily stop deporting the Pakistanis, after the woman said her family was being forcibly sent home without having their claims properly assessed.
The United Nations refugee agency says 88 Pakistanis have been deported since Aug. 1 in what is has called a breach of international law.
The agency has called for an end to the deportations and demanded access to another 75 detained people who are awaiting deportation.
The Sri Lankan government says the Pakistanis are part of an influx of economic immigrants in the past year who have become a burden on the country’s resources and potentially compromised state and regional security.
Most of the Pakistanis are from the Ahmadiyya Islamic sect. The Ahmadi consider themselves Muslims, but a 1984 Pakistani law declared them non-Muslims and many Pakistanis consider them heretics.
In July, a mob killed an Ahmadi woman and two of her granddaughters in Pakistan after another sect member was accused of posting blasphemous material on Facebook.
According to UNHCR guidelines, members of religious minorities may need protection and require particularly careful examination of their asylum claims.
Sri Lankan authorities deny violating any international laws, saying the country is not a signatory to the 1951 U.N. Refugee Convention.
The number of refugees or asylum seekers rose by 700 percent in the year through June 2014 from the previous year, says the foreign ministry. That included 1,562 asylum seekers and 308 refugees.

Pakistan: PTI agrees to dialogue with govt as Zardari contacts political leaders

The contact among Former president Asif Ali Zardari, Jamaat Islami (JI) chief Sirajul Haq and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Tuesday resulted in PTI’s acceptance of government’s dialogue offer, Dunya News reported.
Sirajul Haq and former Interior Minister Rehman Malik also agreed to resolve the conflict through dialogue.
The ongoing political crisis in the country led politicians to establish contact with each other in a bid to find a democratic solution acceptable to all stakeholders.
Zardari – known for his political reconciliation – contacted Sirajul Haq for consultation. Haq then contacted Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Sources revealed that both leaders agreed to resume dialogue with the government.
Former president then contacted Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Javed Hashmi, Mehmood Achakzai, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi over the phone and deliberated over the ongoing crisis in detail.
A meeting between Jamaat chief and PPP leader Rehman Malik also took place. Addressing the media, Sirajul Haq said that politics, constitution and democracy face grave threats.
He said that the in-fight should not give an opportunity to seize power to a third force.
Speaker Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly also established contact with Jamaat chief and discussed the political situation.

Pakistan: Former President Zardari discussed prevailing political situation with political parties’ leaders

Former President Asif Ali Zardari today (Tuesday) telephoned separately JI Amir Sirajul Haq, Chief of JUI Moulana Fazalur Rehman, PML-Q leader Ch. Pervez Illahi, Pakhtunkhawa Milli Awami Party head Mehmood Khan Achakzai and senior politician Javed Hashmi and discussed current political situation with them.

Afghanistan political crisis casts shadow over NATO summit

Despite a UN-led audit of votes from June’s disputed presidential election, the threat of further turmoil in Afghanistan hangs over this week’s NATO summit.
It follows the collapse of talks on a power-sharing deal, with former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah’s campaign threatening to withdraw from the political process.
It is “at a stalemate” said Mohammad Mohaqeq, one of Abdullah’s vice presidential running mates.
“If it continues like this, we don’t see any way out.”
Abdullah and his rival, ex finance minister Ashraf Ghani, had agreed to the deal brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry but it was left to the two campaigns to work out the specifics of power sharing.
NATO has faced criticism over civilians killed in air strikes or night raids.
Kabul residents nonetheless worry that the departure of foreign forces could lead to worse violence or the return of the Taliban, ousted from power by a US-led invasion in 2001.



By Dr Subhash Kapila
The Pakistan Army stands at the centre of facilitating the ongoing besiegement of Pakistan’s democratically elected Government by its political stooges and notably synchronising it with escalation of border clashes on the India-Pak borders.
Pakistan Army’s end-game is patently clear and that is to engage in calibrated escalation of the dubious political demonstrations in Islamabad through its minions, namely, PTI Chief Imran Khan and the parachuted Pakistani Canadian cleric Tahirul Qadri, combined with ceasefire violations escalation on its Indian borders so that a combustible mix occurs justifying any impending military coup.
The Pakistan Army needs to answer as to how these political demonstrators were allowed to penetrate into Islamabad’s ‘Red Zone’ housing the Pakistan National Assembly, PMs House and other constitutional organs of Pakistan. Nobody seems to be asking the question as to how when the security of Islamabad was handed over to the Pakistan Army preceding the siege, how did Imran Khan’s motley crowd succeeded in penetrating the Army -secured Red Zone area.
The infamous 111 Infantry Brigade at Rawalpindi is tasked for the security of Islamabad besides being more famous as the spearhead of all Pakistan Army’s coups against democratically elected governments. Why is it been found wanting to adequately secure Islamabad’s nerve centre of governance? Or, is it that it is being made to wait the calibrated plan of the Pakistan Army to declare Martial Law on the pretext that both Pakistan’s internal security and Pakistan’s external security along the Indian borders stands threatened?
Pakistan’s domestic actors in the ongoing political turmoil are obviously the Pakistan Army and its political stooges like Imran Khan and Qadri who preferred to collude with the Pakistan Army rather than following the constitutional route of seeking redress from the Pakistani Courts.
Noticeably, the present political turmoil seems to be confined to Islamabad only without reverberations in Pakistan’s heartland of Punjab.
Imran Khan’s PTI Party won only thirty four seats in the National Assembly and is disputing rigging in four constituencies. Presuming that even all these four seats are given to PTI by any Election Commission verdict which Imran Khan has not awaited, he still could not overturn Nawaz Sharif’s Government which commands a comfortable majority. Or is it Imran’s claim as the main disputant that massive rigging took place in all the over three hundred plus National Assembly seats?
This flies in the face of verdicts given by European Union’s election observers and also those from the United Nation, both of whom certified that Pakistan General Elections 2013 were by and large fair.
Obviously, Imran Khan has willingly played along the tunes orchestrated by the Pakistan Army and the ISI. This is also revealingly being unfolded by the statements of his own PTI President and that the forced march to the Parliament House which was not on the PTI agenda was ordered by Imran Khan two nights back on instructions from someone. This obviously seems to have been done on the Pakistan Army’s instructions so that political violence is provoked and Pakistan Army has a ready- made ‘cassus belli’.
India would be misreading the situation in Pakistan if led to believe by Pakistan Army press releases that it is not in favour of toppling of a democratic government but the Government should reach a political settlement. Why has the Pakistan Army not insisted that Imran Khan and Qadri should seek judicial and constitutional redress for their political grievances?
Moving to the external actors that come into play in any political crises in Pakistan generated by the Pakistan Army, these are the United States, Saudi Arabia and China. All these three patrons of the Pakistan Army have made substantial investments in the Pakistan Army and the Pakistan Army’s strategic utility to serve their respective strategic investments.
United States-Pakistan Army relationship is a sordid saga of Pakistan’s experiments with democracy being put aside on grounds of American political and diplomatic expediencies. In the instant case too, I have been informally airing that with the impending exit of US Forces from Afghanistan, the United States would prefer that the Pakistan Army is at the helm of Pakistan in terms of political control. The Americans in strategically challenging situation prefer to deal with Pakistan Army Generals.
Saudi Arabia’s regime rests heavily on Pakistan Army shoulders both in the conventional sense and in terms of nuclear deterrence in relation to the Iranian threat. The Saudis have also played politics in Pakistan’s political dynamics by offering sanctuaries in Saudi Arabia for dispossessed Pakistani political dignitaries and also Pakistani Generals.
China gives the impression that it is only a passive spectator in Pakistani politics but we cannot forget that when China cracks the whip as it happened during the Lal Masjid incidents some years back the Pakistan Army swung forcefully into action.
The United States has made perfunctory noise initially that America does not favour any change of a democratically elected Pakistani Government but it now seems to be awaiting a Pakistan Army military take-over. Saudi Arabia and China are content with Pakistan Army being in power in Pakistan.
Regrettably, the Pakistani silent political majority has not made any counter-moves to defeat the Pakistan Army-Imran Khan-Qadri dubious nexus to topple Pakistan’s democracy by unconstitutional methods of political disruption.
Since America and the Army (Pakistan) display no signs of preventing the toppling of a democratically elected Government. The silent political majority in Pakistan can only invoke divine intervention of PBUH The Almighty Allah to instil better sense in the Pakistan Army Generals to forestall the impending military coup which can take place any time.

Political turmoil in Pakistan: China follows the situation in Pakistan very closely

Spokesman of Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that China follows the situation in Pakistan very closely and hopes political parties in Pakistan can resolve issues through dialogue.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang has said that China sincerely hopes that relevant parties in Pakistan can give priority to the fundamental interests of the state and the people, properly resolve issues through consultation and dialogue, and jointly uphold national stability.
He made these remarks while responding to a question on the current situation in Pakistan during a regular press conference in Beijing on Monday, according to Chinese Embassy here on Tuesday.
It may be mentioned that Chinese President is due in Islamabad this month and political turmoil has intensified in Islamabad. There are fears that Chinese President can postpone his visit to Pakistan due to political turbulence in Pakistan.
He said that as its friendly neighbor, China follows the situation in Pakistan very closely.
USA has also expressed its concern over political situation in Pakistan and said that it (USA) would not support any political change through violence against sitting government of Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif.
There are reports that on August 31, several thousand protesters gathered in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital. They tried to make their way to the parliament building and the Prime Minister’s official residence, and clashed with the police, causing heavy casualties. What is China’s comment on this? How does China view the current situation in Pakistan?
China follows the situation in Pakistan very closely. As its friendly neighbor, China sincerely hopes that relevant parties in Pakistan can give priority to the fundamental interests of the state and the people, properly resolve issues through consultation and dialogue, and jointly uphold national stability.

Pakistan: Aitzaz Ahsan - Opposition supports democracy, constitution unconditionally

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan said opposition parties support the constitution and democracy unconditionally. Ahsan cautioned that if the government overcame this crisis its ministers would become more arrogant.
Addressing the joint session, Ahsan said parliament was unanimous in its support for the prime minister. The PPP senator added that the parliament, prime minister and cabinet would remain intact. “It is unprecedented how opposition parties are standing with the government.”
Referring to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif , Ahsan said you (PM) will have to consider that your government was overthrown twice before and who was around you then. “You (PM) in a speech on 17 April 1998 said you would not be resigning but resigned on 18 April 1998.”
Ahsan stressed that the government would need to change its attitude going forward and evaluate what led to this political crisis in the country. “Can't the ministers especially the ones from Punjab be less-arrogant?”
Emphasising that there is purity to revolutions, Ashan said according to him army personnel were well-read and the Corps Commanders were aware that the sit-ins had a low turnout.
The PPP leader was critical of the government’s mishandling of the Model Town tragedy. He said the police was refusing to listen to the government due to this mishandling.
Ahsan also condemned attacks on the media saying that this was a shameful for Pakistanis.
Aitzan Ahsan said there was truth to what the ‘lashkar’ sitting outside was saying as there was rigging in the elections. He added the Imran Khan’s allegations pertaining to corruption were also correct.

Bilawal Bhutto tweets in favor of Javed Hashmi

Pakistan People’s Party co-chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has tweeted in favor of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) President Javed Hashmi.
Javed Hashmi is one of the country’s credible politicians, and has been in news for a few days for his recent acts.
Earlier today, he hurled some allegations on Imran Khan and revealed some interesting stories about the party.
BilawalBhuttoZardari @BBhuttoZardari
Ek bahadur aadmi, Hashmi, Hashmi!
Bilawal in his recent message chanted a slogan in favor of PTI president, which his party’s workers and other supporters used to chant for Hashmi.

Pakistani Protesters Ransack State Television Headquarters

Pakistan’s political crisis deepened on Monday when protesters stormed the headquarters of the state-run television network, causing a temporary lapse in transmission until army troops regained control and secured the building.
Hundreds of people, many armed with sticks, ransacked the Pakistan Television building in central Islamabad, smashing vehicles in the parking lots and cutting transmission cables in the newsrooms. The network said that at least 14 cameras had been stolen.
The dramatic scenes underscored the growing sense of chaos in the Pakistani capital, which has been paralyzed for more than two weeks by protesters calling on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign. Mr. Sharif has refused to leave office, but to help bring the capital under control, he has been forced to rely on the military — which ousted him in a 1999 coup.
Hours after the attack on the television headquarters, Mr. Sharif held a two-hour meeting with the army chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif (the two men are not related), prompting speculation in some local media outlets that the prime minister had been asked to resign. The government and the army immediately denied the reports; in a Twitter post the military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa, called them “baseless.”
The protesters are led by the opposition politician Imran Khan and the cleric Muhammad Tahir-ul Qadri, who accuse Mr. Sharif of election rigging and who led thousands of supporters into central Islamabad on Aug. 15. After two weeks of heated speeches and political theatrics, the standoff turned violent over the weekend when thousands of demonstrators burst through police lines amid clashes that left at least three people dead and hundreds wounded.
Now groups of protesters are camped on the lawn of the country’s Parliament and outside the prime minister’s official residence — a humiliating image for Mr. Sharif, who only 15 months ago came to power when his party scored a landslide election victory.
“We want a revolution,” said Muhammad Zulqarnain, a 25-year-old farmer from Punjab Province wearing a gas mask around his neck and holding a metal bar outside the Parliament building. “We will not leave before we achieve victory.”
Mr. Khan, a former cricket star, has had the media spotlight largely to himself since the protests began. Yet Mr. Qadri’s fervent following, which is drawn from his countrywide religious network, has provided the impetus for the protests. The men who attacked Pakistan Television on Monday appeared to be mostly in Mr. Qadri’s camp, as evidenced by their flags and slogans.
They met little resistance as they entered the building, and they cheered the army troops as they left. Some demonstrators pulled a portrait of Mr. Sharif from the building and beat it with their shoes.
The army’s role as mediator has heightened anxiety in a country where the military has a history of seizing power during times of political strife — fears that were stoked by a prominent defector from Mr. Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party, who warned on Monday that a slow-motion coup was taking place.
In a sharply worded speech outside the Parliament, the defector, Javed Hashmi, the party’s former president, accused his former leader of taking orders from the military and its intelligence agencies. “He said we cannot move without the military,” Mr. Hashmi said, referring to Mr. Khan.
Hours later, the military rejected Mr. Hashmi’s accusations. The “army is an apolitical institution and has expressed its unequivocal support for democracy,” the military said in a statement.
Although the armed forces have resisted the urge to mount a coup, many Pakistani analysts believe that the military is using the crisis to erode Mr. Sharif’s authority. The two sides have a notably troubled relationship. Since Mr. Sharif’s return to power 14 years after the military ousted him, he and the armed forces have repeatedly clashed over talks with the Taliban, relations with India and the treason trial of the former military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf.
Mr. Sharif, however, has also undermined himself. As the street protests neared in the early summer, he resorted to violence instead of negotiation to deter Mr. Khan and Mr. Qadri. The police killed at least 10 supporters of Mr. Qadri during clashes in June, lending his movement a sense of wounded legitimacy in the eyes of many Pakistanis.
Mr. Sharif still enjoys the backing of most of the opposition, which fears that the demonstrations could upend the country’s fragile democracy. Yet the prime minister’s failure to find a negotiated end to the protests has badly eroded his authority and created a palpable sense of drift.
Mr. Sharif says he is willing to accede, at least in part, to the demands for electoral reform put forward by Mr. Khan and Mr. Qadri. But he has insisted that he cannot, under any circumstances, accept the calls for his resignation.
In the hope of bolstering his standing, the prime minister has called an emergency joint session of the lower and upper houses of Parliament for Tuesday. But if the chaos on the streets continues — during the worst violence, demonstrators threw pavement stones as they clashed with the police, who fired rubber bullets — it could prove hard to attract a strong showing in Parliament.
The attack on the television headquarters was symbolically significant because many Pakistanis have strong memories of the last coup, when soldiers seized control of the same building. Mr. Khan and Mr. Qadri denied any involvement in the assault, drawing a disbelieving response from Mr. Sharif’s party.
“Both Qadri and Khan are saying these are not their people,” said Marvi Memon, a governing party lawmaker. “Then who are they?”
The defense minister, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, indicated the government was preparing to take tougher action against the protesters. “If not mass arrests, selective use of force can be used,” Mr. Asif told Reuters in an interview at his home on Monday.
But the protesters insisted they were going nowhere. “We will follow our leader’s orders,” said Usman Ahmad, a 23-year-old barber from Sialkot who wore a badge with Mr. Qadri’s image. “If he says ‘go back’, we will retreat. If he says ‘move ahead’, we will obey the command.”

Pakistan: Dictator Imran?

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf spent quite a lot of time talking up its democratic and revolutionary party structure before the elections. It was hailed as a party that holds inter-party elections, takes decisions based on comprehensive meetings, and involves all stakeholders in its deliberations; a model party for a new Pakistan. Yet the party’s elected President, Javed Hashmi, has unleashed a deluge of accusations against the Chairman which cast serious doubts on these cherished notions. The party that is crusading against the Sharif ‘monarchy’ is looking increasingly like Imran Khan’s personal fiefdom.
‘I don’t take dictations from anybody and Mr. Hashmi knows it,’ thundered Imran Khan as he announced that Mr Hashmi is part of the party no more. It would appear he doesn’t take non-aggressive dictation (also known as advice or dissent) from his party members either. This comes on the back of the report that three MNAs have been kicked out of the party for hesitating to give their resignations; elected representatives simply discarded for dissenting with the Captain without proper due process. The party has a constitution that promises a fair hearing and a cause to be established before members can be removed. Imran Khan, whose grievance with the government stems from denial of due process in the election tribunals, himself treats the concept with little regard. This doesn’t end here; reservations about the march in the party were bulldozed over, the coalition partner, JI, was similarly sidelined when it protested. His speeches refer to himself, to ‘Prime Minister Imran Khan’. His narrative is built around a spectacular battle between himself and Nawaz Sharif. The party has become a vehicle for Imran Khan; you’re either with him, or you’re against him. When he is unwilling to allow for a democratic party, how can we expect him to formulate a democratic government?
A democracy is built on compromise; a word detested by Khan. The basic idea of democracy is that the whole nation contributes its ideas, morals and policies through its representatives, and then we debate, and compromise to reach a single notion that is known as the ‘collective conscience’ of the nation. The final outcome usually doesn’t resemble the original election mandate, but a negotiated version; an acceptable version, a fair version. That is the essence of democracy; that we cater to everyone, not only to ourselves or those who sound just like us. Imran Khan’s behaviour contradicts everything he claims to stand for. It’s quite a simple question in the end: how will he change the system, if he can’t change himself?

Imran,Qadri's Revolution comes to the headquarters of Pakistan TV

What Protestors Did With An Anchor Uzma... by zemtv
As if storming the PM House and assaulting journalists was not bad enough, the ‘leopards and tigers’ of the two dharnas attacked the headquarters of PTV on Monday. Armed with clubs they destroyed equipment, vandalised the building and left staffers traumatised. That they had the technical ability to take PTV off the air would hint at the attack being planned in advance rather than a random outbreak of anger. It took the deployment of Rangers and then the army to clear the building and get the station running again. This is an unprecedented event which appeared to have been staged mainly by supporters of Tahirul Qadri, who had praised the hooliganism before he started lying. Some reports suggest PTI activists also followed the hoard in. Since then both the leaders have denied, in somewhat contradictory terms, that their people were involved. Qadri has said the ‘Awam’, in other words ordinary people, broke in. Why they should do so he did not explain. Imran first insisted that none of his workers was a part of the attack and then said anyone who was would be dismissed from the party. It is clear that Imran and Qadri’s words incited these people to action. What we see is sheer thuggery unleashed by frustrated, angry people whose leaders lack clarity and wisdom.
Imran’s denial of responsibility is similar to his claim that the assault on the PM House was not his fault since he and his people were in the background while others led the attack. It is certainly true that Imran has kept a safe distance but that can be attributed to his self-preservation instincts. Everyone heard his calls for the rally to move there and he purposely sent his young “cornered tigers”, armed with sticks and stones, to the frontlines. Now he has called for the Kohsar police station to be stormed if his activists -detained for rioting – are not released. He has taken full and deliberate advantage of an absent government. The police seemed too fearful to take the necessary action to disperse the criminal crowd. The FIRs filed against Imran and Qadri for their role in the attack on parliament may be an attempt to regain the initiative but it is more likely to be a case of too little too late. Still, the assault on the PTV headquarters should be added to the charge sheet.

Pakistan: The economic cost of the two sit-ins

The ongoing sit-in on Constitution Avenue by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) is taking a serious toll of the economy. Figures released by several federal ministers including Finance Minister Ishaq Dar vary between 500 to 800 billion rupees during the last 17 days with the business community of the country concurring with these estimates and warning that the toll is rising with each passing day that the political crisis is not resolved. The Finance Minister pointed out that the bulk of the loss - 350 billion rupees - was on account of the stock market, or in other words it was in portfolio investment, which is the most susceptible to political turmoil yet this too has major macroeconomic implications.
Transporters from Karachi port to upcountry areas are reluctant to take any consignments through Punjab for delivery not only in Punjab but also in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) for fear that their trucks may be attacked by angry mobs of PTI and PAT workers. While the consignments may be insured yet most of the trucks are not and the transporters have refused to take the risk. Thus, for example, palm oil importers have been unable to move the product to Punjab and KPK during the past two weeks or so, creating shortages that would soon begin to bite the common man.
Inventories are rising throughout the country and until and unless they are offloaded soon stockpiling would make any additional output/import uneconomic due to shortage of storage facilities that would automatically lead to workers layoff.
No federal ministry is open for business to the general public including the Ministry of Finance and Commerce and therefore business activity remains stalled. And finally the daily wage earners in Islamabad are suffering especially those who were engaged in the Metrobus project as that has come to a complete standstill.
Recent data released by the Federal Board of Revenue indicates that tax collections have exceeded targets for August by over one billion rupees, however, the implications of rising inventories and inability to transport to up-country areas would have major implications for revenue collections in weeks to come. The business community has expressed serious concern over their failure to meet with their foreign clients due to the sit-ins maintaining that they could lose existing clients if they divert their orders to competing businesses in other countries. Once a client is lost it is very difficult to get him back, exporters are warning.
The rupee-dollar parity has also declined as a consequence of the political uncertainty, which implies that imports would become dearer though exports may receive a boost as Pakistani products would now be cheaper than before. However, blocked roads and other transport-related issues would limit the favourable impact of the rupee-dollar parity.
Imran Khan's call of civil disobedience that includes non-payment of electricity bills is also a cause of serious concern as power sector recoveries remain low; and any further rise would automatically lead to a worsening of the power crisis.
While no one challenges the right to protest in a democracy yet the continuing sit-n for over two weeks is exacting a heavy economic toll from the general public and one hopes that the two protagonists begin to move towards resolution of the crisis. Imran Khan would do well to heed his own advice to the government in the matter of the Taliban namely to first negotiate prior to using force. At the same time the onus of concessions in negotiations is on the greater power, which in this case is clearly the government. One can only hope that better sense prevails on both sides and the existing stalemate is breached promptly.

Pakistan's Protests: Method in the madness

According to Javed Hashmi, former President Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, Imran Khan unilaterally reversed the party’s core committe’s decision not to enter the Red Zone or cross the government’s red line. Hashmi said that Imran has been taking dictation from ‘someone’ other than his party members. Hashmi has gone so far as to claim that Imran has been persuaded by the establishment to tighten the noose around the government’s neck through protests and agitation. And the idea to include Qadri in the protests also came from the same source. Hashmi rebuked Imran for putting democracy in peril by serving the establishment’s agenda. After these revelations, the scales have fallen from Imran’s image. Imran has been accusing Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif of running the country like a monarch. After Hashmi’s disclosures, Imran himself appears to be an autocratic leader. Stories have been making the rounds about Imran’s undemocratic attitudes within the party. With Hashmi’s expose, the cat is now out of the bag. The manner in which Imran castigated Hashmi after he went public about Imran’s indiscretions shows yet again Imran Khan’s rude side. He has been doing this ever since the sit-in has begun. Imran’s reluctance to negotiate a way out of the crisis and his intransigence on seeking the PM’s resignation were already being seen as signs of a third force directing the course of events.
Imran’s options are shrinking with each passing day and his credibility is eroding as he swings from one crisis to another. He had committed to the authorities he would not enter the Red Zone; he went there. He then committed he would not cross the red line or storm state institutions; he did exactly that. He promised his crowd would remain peaceful; he instigated and spurred them on to aggression through his abrasive and provocative speeches. Then he talks of honesty and insaaf (justice). The protest that went on peacefully for days became ugly on Saturday night when the protestors stormed state buildings with the aim to create the conditions for bringing the government down. The government is on record as having made it clear to both the PAT and PTI that any attempt to invade state buildings would be met with force. The protestors carrying slingshots and sticks were clearly being instructed by Imran and Qadri to forcibly take over the PM’s House. What followed, three deaths and hundreds injured, was as much the result of the protestors’ violating their solemn commitments as the well known roughness the police resorts to once unleashed. The army has been able to keep the mob from entering the PM’s House and parliament but not the PTV headquarters (at least initially). The charged crowd managed to enter PTV on Monday morning, damaging equipment and ransacking the place, which led to a temporary suspension of broadcasting until the army finally arrived and turfed out the occupiers.
We do not know how far Hashmi’s charges of the establishment being responsible for bringing the country to this pass are true. The decision of the Corp Commanders’ meeting to support democracy goes some way towards putting to rest the speculations about the army’s involvement in encouraging the protests. But it has still not entirely allayed the fear of the government’s weakening opening the door to the army’s carving out for itself a larger chunk of control in the arena of security and foreign policy, especially involving India and Afghanistan. The army’s formulation to support the democratic system does not automatically mean it supports the incumbent government too. That is still a grey area so far. To consolidate its political support further, the government in the meantime has called a joint session of parliament today. It has also decided that parliament will remain in session so long as the sit-in continues. This parliament versus street confrontation seems destined to settle parliament’s sovereign status. In any case, a motley crowd of rowdy supporters should not be allowed to overthrow an elected government. The PM’s reiteration of his resolve not to resign at gunpoint will save the country from setting a wrong precedent, and is therefore a welcome step. Amidst this cacophony, the role of the electronic media in broadcasting unsubstantiated rumours is irresponsible and deplorable. If the attack on journalists by the police was wrong and condemnable, the media’s role in jumping to the (wrong) conclusions is as bad.

Pakistan: Imran, Qadri have army, ISI’s backing: Hashmi

By Ijaz Kakakhel
Making startling disclosures, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) President Javed Hashmi on Monday quoted PTI chief Imran Khan as saying that “the badge bearers”, a reference to the army, wanted the PTI protesters to move along with Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) leader Tahirul Qadri.
Addressing journalists outside parliament, the PTI president complained that he was disappointed with the attitude of the PTI chief. “Imran Khan said we can’t move forward without the army. ... Imran Khan also said that all the matters had been decided and there will be elections in September,” Javed Hashmi claimed, adding that it appeared as if everything had been planned in advance. He further said that “a hijacked PTI has come here”.
“We have been held hostage”. Javed Hashmi said while adding that he is still the president of PTI “because Imran Khan did not follow the provisions of the constitution in sacking him”. “Imran Khan should have gone through the party’s constitution first. ...I regret to say that Imran Khan breached every promise he made to me,” the elderly politician said. Making one disclosure after another, he said that Imran Khan did not even have regard for the constitution. Hashmi said he would even sacrifice his life for upholding the sanctity of parliament, Supreme Court and other institutions of the country.
He claimed that he will sacrifice his life for the supremacy of the constitution and protection of the state institutions. He said protection of the National Assembly and Senate is part of his faith. Hashmi said parliament is the forum which gives opportunity to the elected representatives from different parts of the country to meet each other. It was the unanimous decision of the party leadership, he said, that we will not go towards the Prime Minister’s House.
Hashmi said party leaders Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Jehangir Tareen, Asad Umar, Arif Alvi and Pervaiz Khattak were all agreed on this decision. Hashmi also claimed that a scripted political crisis is being engineered in Pakistan has led to widespread speculation among analysts that a version of the “Bangladesh Model” may be in the works. The “Bangladesh Model”, a soft coup, is based on the idea that the political system must be cleansed of corrupt elements for the welfare of the public, which perhaps has been left incapacitated to elect honest leaders.
The model works on the premise that the military and judiciary must intervene to help differentiate the “right” from the “wrong” before it is too late. The model stipulates that democracy that follows such a “cleansing” is therefore of a truer form since the people have been rightly “guided” and are now able to make informed decisions. He also disclosed that Imran Khan forced party members to resign. “I advised Khan not to take any short-cut for the government”, he said.
Denying being a part of a conspiracy, Hashmi said Imran guaranteed him that democracy will not be derailed and there wouldn’t be any martial law. “Not only me, but several members of PTI’s core committee expressed concerns that Imran Khan is following someone’s instructions. When we questioned, Imran’s reply was army,” said Hashmi. He also said that Imran told him that PM Nawaz will soon be overthrown by judges, saying a “friendly’ judge” was coming to SC who will expel Nawaz and Shahbaz.

Pakistan: Army’s questionable decisions

The carefully constructed veneer of neutrality that the army leadership had constructed through much of the national political crisis instigated by Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri has been torn apart.
First, came the army’s statement on Sunday, the third in a series of statements in recent days on the political crisis, which quite astonishingly elevated the legitimacy and credibility of the demands of Imran Khan, Tahirul Qadri and their violent protesters above that of the choices and actions of an elected government dealing with a political crisis.
Consider the sequence of events so far. When the army first publicly waded into the political crisis, it counselled restraint on all sides — as though it was the government that fundamentally still had some questions hanging over its legitimacy simply because Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri alleged so.
Next, the army crept towards the Khan/Qadri camp by urging the government to facilitate negotiations — as though it was the government that was being unreasonable, and not Mr Khan and Mr Qadri.
Now, staggeringly, the army has ‘advised’ the government not to use force against violent protesters and essentially told it to make whatever concessions necessary to placate Mr Khan and Mr Qadri.
It is simply extraordinary that it is the PAT and PTI supporters who want to break into and occupy state buildings, but it is the government that has been rebuked.
It’s as if the army is unaware — rather, unwilling — to acknowledge the constitutional scheme of things: it is the government that is supposed to give orders to the army, not the other way around.
The government has already issued its order: invoking Article 245.
On Saturday, as violent thugs attacked parliament, it was surely the army’s duty to repel them.
But the soldiers stationed there did nothing and the army leadership the next day warned the government instead of the protesters — which largely explains why the protesters were able to continue their pitched battles with the police and attacked the PTV headquarters yesterday.
If that were not enough, yesterday also brought another thunderbolt: this time from within the PTI with party president Javed Hashmi indicating that Mr Khan is essentially doing what he has been asked and encouraged to do by the army leadership.
It took the ISPR a few hours to respond with the inevitable denial, but a mere denial is inadequate at this point. The functioning of the state stands paralysed because a few thousand protesters and their leaders have laid siege to state institutions.
Where is the army condemnation of that?
Would the army allow even a handful of peaceful protesters to gather outside GHQ for a few hours?
The army is hardly being ‘neutral’. It is making a choice.
And, it is disappointing that choice is doing little to strengthen the constitutional, democratic and legitimate scheme of things.

Pakistan: PTI, PAT leaders face sedition case

Five cases have been registered against the leaders and activists of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and the Pakistan Awami Tehrik on different charges, including sedition, murder attempt and terrorism.
More than 200 activists were arrested from the Constitution Avenue and hospitals on Monday and Sunday night, officials said.
Police launched a crackdown against office-bearers and activists of the two parties in Punjab. According to a PTI leader, 150 workers were arrested only from Lahore, a claim rejected by police.
PTI leaders and activists got one of the arrested people, MPA Iftikhar Mashwani, released during an attack on the Secretariat police station, they alleged.
On Sunday evening, the government submitted a complaint to police seeking registration of a case against PAT and PTI leaders and workers, they said. Later the case was registered under section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act and the Pakistan Penal Code’s section 124-A (sedition), 324 (murder attempt), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter a public servant from discharging his duty), 148 (rioting and being armed with deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by a public servant) 452 (trespass after preparation for hurting, assaulting or wrongful restraining a person), 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with the intent to destroy a house), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions) 152 (assault to obstruct public servant when suppressing riot), 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 109 (punishment of abetment if the act abetted committed in consequence and where no express provision is made for its punishment).
PTI chief Imran Khan and PAT head Dr Tahirul Qadri are among the leaders nominated in the case.
The Aabpara police registered another case against leaders and activists of the two parties on separate charges.
Likewise, the Margalla police registered two cases against PTI activists on charges of snatching weapons used in lobbing teargas shells and setting a police vehicle on fire.
PTI leaders Shireen Mazari, Arif Alvi and Shah Mehmood Qureshi, along with activists, came to the police station and, after lodging the complaint, forcibly got MPA Mashwani released from the lockup, they said. They also attacked the Moharar and the incident led to the registration of another case.
To counter the FIRs, the PTI leadership lodged a complaint with the Secretariat police to seek registration of a murder case against police, officials of the administration and a federal minister.
The case has not been registered to date.
The officials said that police were seeking legal opinion about registering a murder case against PAT and PTI leaders and activists. They claimed that on Saturday night policemen deployed at the Constitution Avenue were unarmed and two protesters were killed by bullets fired by one of the agitators.
It had been decided to insert the section pertaining to murder into the FIR registered with the Secretariat police station, they said.
The officials said that IG Khalid Khattak had directed his subordinates to register as many cases against the leaders and activists of the PTI and the PAT as they could.
Our staff reporter adds from Lahore: The Punjab police launched late on Monday night a crackdown on office-bearers and activists of the PAT and the PTI for taking part in rallies in some parts of the province and thus violating section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
The arrests were made in the light of lists sent to all station house officers of the province.
But in the provincial capital, no arrest was officially reported by police contrary to allegations levelled by a PTI leader.
Informed police sources told Dawn that the crackdown had been launched on the ‘order’ of the provincial government and the IG had issued ‘verbal’ orders to his subordinates.
Most of the office-bearers and leading activists of the two parties were reported to have gone underground to avoid arrests as policemen raided their residences and outhouses.
The sources said police had been directed to arrest PAT members across the board but to pick up only those PTI leaders and office-bearers who incited activists to hold rallies and stage sit-ins.
They said the arrested people would be booked under section 188 (disobedience to order duty promulgated by a public servant) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
Meanwhile, the Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly, Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed, alleged that police had arrested around 150 PTI activists in different areas of the city.
Talking to reporters, he said the arrests had been made in Iqbal Town, Faisal Town, Shahdara and Baghbanpura.
He claimed that the provincial government had instructed its ‘Gullu Butts’ to pick up party workers to prevent them from staging demonstrations and sit-ins.
The PTI leader alleged that the party leaders were receiving threatening calls and being asked to stay at home.

What is really going on in Pakistan?

By Dean Nelson
Who is Nawaz Sharif?
In May 2013, Nawaz Sharif made a remarkable return to power with a landslide general election victory – which gave him a large majority in Pakistan's National Assembly.
He had been ousted in a coup by General Pervez Musharraf in 1999, jailed, and then exiled to Saudi Arabia – where he lived as a guest of the king, but was regarded by diplomats as a spent force.
His victory was bad news for General Musharraf and to some extent for the army: it was seen as an overwhelming mandate for civilian, democratic government and the military to step further back from the country's politics.
The election was broadly welcomed by European Union observers who said there was an "overall acceptance of the outcome" despite a lack of transparency poor counting procedures in some constituencies.
Why are there still protests against him?
Despite winning the provincial assembly elections in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) complained of ballot rigging at national level and that the 35 seats it won did not reflect how people had voted. His party increased the volume of its protest over the issue earlier this year and it coincided with growing concern in the Pakistan Army over Mr Sharif's conciliatory attempts to open dialogue with India and his "humiliation" of General Musharraf – the generals fear that a treason conviction of their former chief and dictator would be a humiliation for the entire military and want the charges to disappear.
The protests began with a march to Islamabad from the eastern city of Lahore on the country's Independence Day, August 14. A day later the demonstrators marched to the capital to try to oust Mr Sharif over alleged election fraud.
Once in the capital, the protesters camped out near the parliament, pushing their demands.
Three people were killed over the weekend in riots.
Pakistani anti-government protesters stormed the state TV building on Monday, forcing the channel briefly off the air as they clashed with police and pushed further into a sprawling government complex in the capital, Islamabad, in an effort to reach the prime minister's residence. Mr Sharif met the army chief General Raheel Sharif on Monday to discuss the crisis, military sources said.
What do the military think?
Muttering within the military over Nawaz Sharif's "failure" to take the top brass "into confidence" before making overtures to India's new prime minister, the Hindu nationalist leader Narendra Modi, reinforced a feeling that he was challenging their traditional control over foreign policy.
Now with the capital's main avenues in the hands of thousands of club and slingshot-wielding supporters of Imran Khan and the Muslim sect leader Tahirul Qadri, both of whom have support within the military, Mr Sharif suddenly needs the army's support.
What happens next?
By urging both the government and the protesters to refrain from using force, the army has left Mr Sharif to sweat. If he orders paramilitary troops to shoot to protect the National Assembly, he risks an army intervention to restore peace in the national interest. If he dissolves his government and calls fresh elections – which some supporters say he may yet reluctantly do – he risks losing power or returning with a weaker government and the ignominy of having been bullied into submission by a few thousand protesters.
The strong mandate he won in last year's election has already been effectively overthrown by a charismatic former cricketer and a few even-handed statements by General Raheem Sharif, his army chief.
Nawaz Sharif is due to address both houses of parliament on Tuesday in an apparent effort to show that he is firmly in control.

How Fighting in Pakistan Affects War Against Polio

Fierce fighting in Pakistan is harming and helping the country’s drive to eradicate polio.
With cases steadily decreasing in Nigeria, the only other persistent global hot spot, Pakistan is becoming the virus’s last refuge; 117 cases of polio paralysis have been found this year, up from 25 by this time last year. And in three months of fighting between the armed forces and the Taliban, nearly a million people have been displaced, spreading the virus, according to Unicef.
But the military operations can be “a blessing in disguise,” in the words of the Federation of Islamic Medical Associations, which wants the disease eliminated.
Most cases are in the rural Waziristan region, where leaders of some Taliban factions have banned vaccinations since 2012. As refugees flee, they often encounter polio vaccinators, who have given two million doses at roadside posts in parts of Waziristan now controlled by the army and in cities to which people from the region have fled.
However, cases do appear elsewhere, including just across the Afghan border and in distant urban neighborhoods where people from Waziristan now live.
If the grip of Taliban leaders is broken, the giving of vaccinations may increase quickly. A Harvard-Unicef survey of parents in other areas where the Taliban is strong found that more than 80 percent thought offering vaccine in their neighborhoods was a “very good” or “somewhat good” idea.
In May, the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency when polio spread to Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and Iraq. But unless new cases are being missed because of fighting in Iraq and Syria, those appear — like the 2013 outbreaks in Somalia and Kenya — to have been snuffed out by vaccinations.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Music: Vanilla Ice-Ice Ice Baby

US army attacks terrorists in Somalia

US military forces carried out an operation on Monday against al-Shabaab militants in Somalia, a US Department of Defense spokesman said.
"We are assessing the results of the operation and will provide additional information as and when appropriate," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.
No further details about the operation in the African country were immediately available.
Al-Shabaab is an Islamist group affiliated with al-Qaida that wants to impose its own strict version of Islam in Somalia. It ruled most of the southern region of Somalia from 2006 until 2011, when African peacekeeping troops marched into the capital, Mogadishu.
African and Somali forces have regained several towns this year, but rebels still hold other centers and tracts of countryside.
On Saturday, the US also carried out air strikes against Islamic State fighters near the besieged Shi'ite town of Amerli in northern Iraq and airdropped humanitarian aid to civilians trapped there, the Pentagon said.
President Barack Obama authorized the new military action, broadening US operations in Iraq amid an international outcry over the threat to Amerli's mostly ethnic Turkmen population.
Aid was delivered by US aircraft as well as planes from Britain, France and Australia, signaling headway in Obama's efforts to draw allies into the fight against Islamic State.
Iraqi army and Kurdish forces closed in on Islamic State fighters on Saturday in a push to break the Sunni militants' siege of Amerli, which has been surrounded by the militants for more than two months.
Armed residents of Amerli have managed to fend off attacks by the Islamic State fighters, who regard its majority Shi'ite Turkmen population as apostates. More than 15,000 people remain trapped inside.
"At the request of the government of Iraq, the United States military today airdropped humanitarian aid to the town of Amerli, home to thousands of Shia Turkmen who have been cut off from receiving food, water, and medical supplies for two months by ISIL," Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said, using an alternative name for Islamic State.
"In conjunction with this airdrop, US aircraft conducted coordinated air strikes against nearby ISIL terrorists in order to support this humanitarian assistance operation," he said, adding that a key objective was to prevent a militant attack on civilians in the town.
He said the operations would be "limited in their scope and duration" as required to protect Amerli's population.
When Obama ordered the first air strikes and air drops in Iraq earlier this month, he justified the military operation in part to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe for thousands of ethnic Yazidis trapped by Islamic State militants on Sinjar mountain in northern Iraq.
In mid-August, he declared that the militant siege there had been broken.

Activists Urge President Obama to Act Alone on Immigration

President Obama speaks at the 2014 Milwaukee Laborfest

Amid foreign crises, Obama takes solace in U.S. economic turnaround

Throughout much of his presidency, Barack Obama has been under siege about the state of the U.S. economy.
But with economic growth now far more robust than when he took office, he is finding some measure of solace on the domestic front while a number of crises rage abroad.
With his handling of foreign policy under fire in confronting challenges from Ukraine to the Middle East, Obama made a Labor Day trek to Milwaukee's annual Laborfest event to underscore how he feels his leadership on the economy has paid off.
"I just want everybody to understand because you wouldn't always know it from watching the news," he said. "By almost every measure, the American economy and American workers are better off than when I took office."
The national unemployment rate was 6.2 percent in August, down more than a percentage point from the year before, and a far cry from when he took office in 2009 with the economy in crisis. After a 2.1 percent contraction in GDP in the first quarter of this year, GDP rebounded at a 4.2 percent growth clip in the second quarter.
Still, the job market for many is unsatisfactory and some have given up looking for jobs. Also many of the proposals Obama has made to create more jobs, such as persuading Congress to accept an increase in the minimum wage and boost infrastructure spending, have gone nowhere, forcing him to act where he can with executive orders.
Obama took credit, however, for the improving economic picture by harking back to decisions he made early in his first term, when he led an effort to bail out the U.S. auto industry. He also said his signature healthcare law has made life better for American workers:
"America is stronger because of decisions we made to rescue our economy and rebuild it on a new foundation asking the simple question: is this good for ordinary Americans?"
With little more than two months to go until November mid-term elections, the president was greeted at the airport by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a potential Republican candidate to succeed Obama in 2016.
Walker's Democratic challenger, Mary Burke, who had earlier said she would not be at the Laborfest event because it was an official event, not a political one, ended up meeting briefly with Obama backstage. A White House official confirmed the meeting, but had no details.
Obama made no specific reference to the state's governor's race, but he continued a pattern of criticizing Republicans at official events, blasting them for refusing to go along with his agenda in Congress and telling members of the audience who booed: "Don't boo. Vote!"
Foreign policy challenges will retake center stage this week when Obama travels to Estonia and to a NATO summit in Wales.

Video: What Protestors Did With PTV Anchor Uzma

What Protestors Did With An Anchor Uzma... by zemtv

Russia: Putin breaks ground on Russia-China gas pipeline, world's biggest

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli have launched the construction of the first part of Gazprom’s Power of Siberia pipeline - which will deliver 4 trillion cubic meters of gas to China over 30 years.
“The new gas branch will significantly strengthen the economic cooperation with countries in the Asia-Pacific region and above all - our key partner China,” Putin said at the ceremony outside the city of Yakutsk - the capital of Russia's Republic of Yakutia on Monday.
Both President Putin and Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli signed the freshly-welded pipeline in a time-honored Russian tradition. The 'Power of Siberia' was welded together by workers from Chayanda gas field, overseen by CEO Aleksey Miller.
"Gazprom is always a reliable supplier of gas to its customers - which also applies to the ‘Power of Siberia," Miller said.
The 3,968 km pipeline linking gas fields in eastern Siberia to China will be the world's largest fuel network in the world. Both Putin and Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli have called the project the world’s largest construction project, as investment from both countries will be more than $70 billion.
“The gas pipeline ‘Power of Siberia’ will increase energy security and ensure Russia’s ability to fulfill export obligations,” Putin said in the opening remarks.
Starting in 2019, Power of Siberia will pump gas from Siberia to China’s populous northeast region as well as to Russia’s Far East. The Chinese side will start the construction of its part of the pipeline in the first half of 2015, the Vice Premier of China said.
Last year, China consumed about 170 billion cubic meters of natural gas and expects to consume 420 billion cubic meters per year by 2020. Europe still remains Russia’s largest energy market, buying more than 160 billion meters of Russian natural gas in 2013.
“Once we create a gas pipeline network here in the Far East and Siberia, we will be able to connect European pipeline system to the East. And this, in terms of export opportunities and expanding Russia’s ‘gasification’, is very beneficial. Depending on the situation in world markets, we can more effectively implement gas flows- either more to the West or to the East,” Putin told students at North-Eastern Federal University earlier on Monday.
Running from the Chayanda gas field in the Republic of Yakutia, the cost of construction is estimated at more than $20 billion (770 billion rubles), which includes other investment in the region of $7.5 billion (283 billion rubles). Russia’s largest steel pipeline manufacturer, TMK, will provide materials for the project.
The gas pipeline will become a common transit center for gas production centers in the Yakutia and Irkutsk regions.
The first stage of the project will be to transport gas from the Chayanda deposit in Yakutia and connect to the town of Blagoveshchensk on the Chinese border. The 968 km pipeline should be completed by 2018.
The Chayanda field, which will begin production in 2015, is estimated to have reserves of 1.2 trillion cubic meters in gas and 93 million tons of liquid hydrocarbons. Each year the field is expected to produce up to 25 billion cubic meters of gas and at least 1.5 million tons of oil.
Putin also said that China can become a shareholder in the Vankor oil and gas fields in the Krasnoyarsk region in Eastern Siberia. China will enter into a strategic relationship with Rosneft, Russia's largest oil company, which owns the field.
The area is estimated to hold reserves of 520 million metric tons of oil and 95 billion cubic meters of natural gas. It has been in operation since 2009 and last year produced 21.4 million tons of oil and oil condensate.
“We generally take a very careful approach to the approval of our foreign partners, but of course, for our Chinese friends there are no restrictions,” Putin said.
In May, Russia's state-run Gazprom signed a 30-year gas deal with China’s CNPC valued at $400 billion.

Peshmerga, Shi'ite militia drive IS fighters from Sulaiman Pek stronghold

Turkey summons U.S. envoy over spying report

Iggy Azalea Ft. Charli XCX - Fancy (Summertime Ball 2014)

Music: MC Hammer - U Can't Touch This

Afghanistan: Abdullah’s team sets deadline for conditions, warns to boycott audit process

The electoral team of Dr. Abdullah Abdullah has once again warned to boycott the ballots audit and invalidation process along with negotiations to form national unity government, if their demands are not met by the election commission.
Syed Fazel Sancharaki, spokesman for Dr. Abdullah, told reporters on Monday that they will entirely boycott the audit and invalidation process and negotiations over national unity government if their demands and conditions were not met by tomorrow. Sancharaki further added that their camp will only agree to form a national unity government once the audit process has been finalized.
Dr. Abdullah’s camp threatened to boycott the election audit process last week and set conditions for audit and invalidation process.
Abdullah’s chief observer, Fazal Ahmad Mawani, warned on Tuesday that they boycott the vote audit process, claiming that the audit process was not transparent and influenced by politics.
The audit process was resumed following hours of suspension on the same day, after Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai’s camp pulled all it’s observers from the audit process based on United Nation’s request.
The request by UN was made after Dr. Abdullah’s observers did not participate in the audit process a day after they warned to boycott the process.

Afghan talks on unity government collapse; crisis deepens

Talks on a power-sharing deal between Afghanistan's rival presidential candidates have collapsed, a top leader said on Monday, rekindling fears of ethnic unrest over disputed election results.
Under the terms of a deal brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the runner-up in the vote was to name a "chief executive" in a national unity government conceived to keep the lid on political tensions.
Abdullah Abdullah was runner-up in the official election results. Mohammad Mohaqeq, one of Abdullah's vice presidential running mates, told Reuters the two sides could not agree on the powers of the chief executive, accusing the camp of election winner Ashraf Ghani of hardening its position.
"The talks collapsed two days ago. The political process is now at a stalemate, we don't see any way out," Mohaqeq, a leader of the minority Hazara community, said in an interview in Kabul, as a months-long power struggle to succeed President Hamid Karzai showed no signs of a resolution.
The breakdown in negotiations on a political deal comes days after Abdullah's team walked out of a U.N. audit of votes from a June 2 run-off ballot, saying it was dissatisfied with the way that fraudulent votes were being handled.
Together, the two failures have left the U.S.-mediated deal in tatters and deepened the uncertainty about when President Hamid Karzai can hand over power to a successor.
Karzai had earlier planned Tuesday as the inauguration day for the new president, in time for him to attend a NATO summit in Wales two days later. But that was pushed back after the United Nations said it would be able to complete the audit only by around Sept. 10.
Karzai is not going to quit power without the completion of the process, a spokesman said.
"The President is not considering the step down before the official transfer of power to the new Afghan President. It is unconstitutional to step down before officially transferring the power to his successor," Aimal Faizi said in a statement.
The deadlock comes as the United States, Kabul's biggest aid donor, and other NATO nations withdraw their troops after nearly 13 years of fighting Taliban insurgents.
Officials and diplomats fear it could trigger conflict along ethnic lines, on top of the insurgency. "Announcing the results based on fraudulent means endangers the whole process and takes the country deeper into crisis. It is in no one's interest. It will divide Afghanistan," Mohaqeq said.
Ghani, a former finance minister and World Bank economist, is a member of Afghanistan's biggest ethnic group, the Pashtuns, who make up of most of the population in the south and east.
Abdullah is part Pashtun and part ethnic Tajik, but draws most of his support from Tajiks, the Hazaras and other smaller ethnic groups, largely in the center and north.
Under the terms of the deal agreed during Kerry's visit in July, the chief executive would share control with the president over some key decisions, such as nominating the heads of the Afghan security forces.
But it was left to the two campaigns to work out the specifics of power-sharing.
Ghani has said the language of the document signed during Kerry's visit was ambiguous and it was up to the two teams to work out the details. His spokesman Tahir Zaheer dismissed the Abdullah campaign's demands as unconstitutional.
Chaos in Afghanistan as Western forces pull out would be a political blow for those countries which have spent billions of dollars and lost about 3,500 soldiers in a bid to bring peace nd stability after Taliban rule.

Ariana Grande - The Way & Problem

Conflict Alert: Protecting Pakistan’s Threatened Democracy

A little over a year ago, Pakistan entered an unprecedented second phase of democratic transition, with one elected government handing power to another by peaceful, constitutional means. This fragile transition will be gravely threatened unless a fast-escalating political crisis is urgently defused. The protests rocking Islamabad threaten to upend the constitutional order, set back rule of law and open the possibility of a soft coup, with the military ruling through the backdoor. Renewed political instability at the centre would imperil any progress that has been made in addressing grievous economic, development and security challenges. The government’s moves, supported by the parliamentary opposition, to accommodate some of the protestors’ demands – particularly as regards electoral reform – are welcome. It is worrying, however, that protest leaders appear adamant in rejecting such outreach. Crisis Group calls on the political and military leadership to continue adherence to the constitution and enforcement of the rule of law, while permitting the right to peaceful protest.
Protesting with several thousand supporters in front of the national parliament in Islamabad, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Imran Khan and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek’s (PAT) cleric-cum-politician leader Tahirul Qadri are demanding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation. Beyond that their demands diverge. Qadri has called for resignation of the government, dissolution of all legislatures and formation of a national government to enact sweeping constitutional reform that would replace parliamentary democracy with a neo-theocratic order. Khan, who has prime ministerial ambitions, has claimed that massive rigging by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), then Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, segments of the media and many other institutions and individuals deprived him of victory in the May 2013 national and provincial elections. He wants those responsible for rigging tried for treason, Sharif’s resignation, dissolution of the national parliament, formation of a neutral interim government and new elections. While threatening the PTI’s resignation from the national parliament and the Sindh and Punjab provincial legislatures in which he has very limited representation, he has yet to decide a course of action in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (KPK) where his is the governing party.
The government cannot absolve itself of all responsibility for the impasse, including confrontation between the police and Qadri’s followers in Punjab’s capital, Lahore, that resulted in the deaths of several PAT supporters in June and foot-dragging on Khan’s initial demands for a limited electoral audit. In the face of the Islamabad protests, however, it has thus far exercised restraint, concerned that any attempt to use force could further inflame sentiment, exacerbate the crisis and give spoilers opportunity to disrupt the democratic process. Further, it has accepted Khan’s original demand to recount votes in some disputed constituencies. It has also accepted his demand for a judicial probe into rigging, having requested the Supreme Court to set up a commission to investigate conduct of the May elections; and has responded positively to Khan’s critique of the ECP and the electoral process by constituting a parliamentary committee, including PTI legislators, to develop proposals for meaningful electoral reform. However, Khan has rejected these concessions and moved the goal posts, rejecting the elections entirely and calling for new polls.
All the major parties in the national parliament, including the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which leads the opposition and was in power until losing to PML-N in 2013, have strongly opposed any steps to derail democracy. They urge Qadri and Khan to resolve their differences with the government peacefully and vociferously reject demands for the dissolution of national and provincial legislatures. Elected representatives from Sindh and Balochistan consider the crisis a tussle for power between Sharif, Khan and Qadri – all from Punjab, the most populous province – and a threat to the budding democratic institutions. Justices of the higher courts, including the Supreme Court of Pakistan, have called on the government and protestors to refrain from anything that would undermine constitutionalism and rule of law. Pro-democracy activists and civil society organisations, including bar councils and associations and journalist unions, also vow to protect democratic institutions and governance.
Khan and Qadri appear bent on upping the ante. They have reneged on commitments to the government to restrict their activities to areas allocated for their respective demonstrations outside the “Red Zone” that includes the legislature and Supreme Court, the prime minister’s official residence and secretariat and many embassies. To avoid violence, the government has allowed them to enter this sensitive area, but the crisis would escalate if Khan follows through on calls to his followers to seize the prime minister’s residence unless Nawaz Sharif immediately resigns. Despite a past record of his followers resorting to violence, including against law enforcement officials, Qadri insists his protest will remain peaceful. He has yet to moderate demands for an end to the entire political order.
Khan’s and Qadri’s refusals to moderate their demands and the increased potential for violence have brought the military in more directly. Even before the crisis escalated, the government had given it the responsibility, under article 245 of the constitution, to secure the capital. It is now in charge of protecting all important Red Zone buildings, including parliament. Prime Minister Sharif, his brother and Punjab Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan have met with army chief General Raheel Sharif, apparently to seek army support or at least neutrality. Nisar has strongly rejected suspicions in some political quarters of a high-command role in fuelling the crisis, given its displeasure with the government’s decision to try former army chief and President Pervez Musharraf for treason and Khan’s and Qadri’s own ties with the defence establishment.
That said, with several platoons of troops and paramilitary forces now facing off against demonstrators in the Red Zone, the dangers of military intervention have multiplied. If Khan’s threat to storm the prime minister’s residence or Qadri’s to cordon the National Assembly are realised, there could be bloody confrontation or, as in past political crises, an indirect military intervention. In the high command’s first public response, the head of Inter-Services Public Relations, Major General Asim Bajwa, called on all “stakeholders” to demonstrate “patience, wisdom and sagacity” and “resolve the prevailing impasse through meaningful dialogue in the larger national interests and public interests”. There is in this an implied risk that past military interventions – including the removal of three elected governments in the 1990s – cannot be ignored: that the military might decisively enter the fray if it judges the politicians to be insufficiently wise.
If democracy is to survive and stability preserved, it is essential that political and military leaders:
Exercise restraint:
While Qadri has few stakes in the system and little interest in sustaining it, Khan’s party, which had its best electoral results in 2013, must understand that disruption of the democratic order could deprive it of the chance of forming governments by legitimate means. It should in particular cease calls to attack public property, including the prime minister’s residence or parliament. The danger that infiltrators, including terrorists and violent extremists, could exploit the situation to attack elected representatives, security personnel, diplomats or even demonstrators to provoke violence, cannot be ruled out. The government should allow the demonstrations to continue – peaceful protest is a constitutional right – while ensuring that citizens, public property and embassies are protected.
Respect constitutionalism and protect democratic institutions:
The government, parliamentary opposition, demonstrators and the security apparatus must all respect the constitution and rule of law. Otherwise it would be next to impossible to resolve Pakistan’s security challenges, including militancy and terrorism that have claimed thousands of lives. The threat or use of force to advance political goals empowers spoilers and cuts the country’s moderate moorings. The abrogation of constitutions and closure of democratic avenues to address grievances and demands by successive dictatorial regimes fuelled political polarisation. The various components of the federation must not be led to believe that their interests and priorities could again be made hostage to extra-constitutional power deals.
Hold meaningful negotiations:
The government must continue its efforts to seek a negotiated settlement of the crisis with Khan and Qadri, but should not allow the military to dictate the outcome of the bargaining process or concede to any demand that undermines constitutionalism, democratic governance and the rule of law. If Khan and Qadri are to convince the public their actions are in the national interest, they must respond constructively to such overtures.
Published 08/21/2014

Pakistan: Javed Hashmi's allegations: What is the 'Bangladesh model'?

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) President Javed Hashmi's startling claims of a scripted political crisis being engineered in Pakistan has led to widespread speculation among analysts that a version of the 'Bangladesh Model' may be in the works.
"Imran had told the PTI core committee it won't be called a martial law," Hashmi alleged at a press conference, hinting at a covert form of takeover by the military establishment, using PTI Chairman Imran Khan and Chief of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek Tahir-ul-Qadri as their instruments.
The 'Bangladesh Model', a soft coup, is based on the idea that the political system must be cleansed of corrupt elements for the welfare of the public, which perhaps has been left incapacitated to elect honest leaders.
The model works on the premise that the military and judiciary must intervene to help differentiate the 'right' from the 'wrong' before it is too late. The model stipulates that the democracy that follows such a 'cleansing' is therefore a truer form since the people have been rightly 'guided' and are now able to make informed decisions.
Technocrats, current and former officials aligned with the military and judiciary play a vital role in the implementation of the 'Bangladesh Model' of which the strings are pulled from the background and through an interim government that remains in power for a lengthy period as happened in Bangladesh in 2007.
"If Nawaz Sharif survives, for the rest of his term, he will be a ceremonial prime minister—the world will not take him seriously," said Ayesha Siddiqa, an Islamabad-based analyst told the Wall Street Journal on Saturday.
"A soft coup has already taken place. The question is whether it will harden."
Reacting to the drama in Islamabad, the International Crisis Group (ICG) had also warned last week that the possibilities of a coup were very high and that such a development "would imperil any progress that has been made in addressing grievous economic, development and security challenges."
"The protests rocking Islamabad threaten to upend the constitutional order, set back rule of law and open the possibility of a soft coup, with the military ruling through the backdoor," the ICG said in its statement.
According to the PTI president Hashmi, a script for such a move was laid out well in advance.
"When Imran laid out the plan, I said to Imran, 'Khan sahab what are you doing?'"
"He said, 'I am telling you there will be elections in September and everything has been worked out.'"
In January this year, the Washington Post cited Pakistan as 'high risk' on a list of countries likely to face coup attempts.

Crisis in Pakistan could become unmanageable

The ongoing political crisis in Pakistan is hurting the country's economy. The nuclear-armed nation's powerful army is concerned, and so is the West. A greater turmoil could become unmanageable for everyone.
Not many people in Pakistan expected the anti-government protests to last this long: 19 days and counting. The protesters, who claim that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came to power through rigged elections, have one key demand: the premier must resign from his post.
Sharif and his ministers had hoped the demonstrations would die down, or that the opposition leaders – cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and Pakistani-Canadian Sunni cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri – would eventually compromise and end the sit-in outside the parliament building in the capital Islamabad. None of that happened. The protests turned violent, the Islamic Republic's powerful military chief, Raheel Sharif, stepped in as a mediator, and a number of other political groups joined Khan and Qadri in demanding Sharif's ouster.
Experts fear that things are getting out of control in the country. Hundreds of protesters briefly seized the state broadcaster, Pakistan Television (PTV), on Monday, thus intensifying the political crisis. The army was called in to disperse the violent demonstrators. The security forces managed to regain control of the PTV building after few hours.
Over the weekend, Pakistani police clashed with thousands of demonstrators marching on the official residence of the prime minister. At least three people were killed and hundreds wounded when the police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at Khan's and Qadri's supporters.
The ongoing violence prompted the top generals of the nuclear-armed state to hold an emergency meeting on Sunday, August 31. The army – which has directly ruled the nation for more than three decades collectively – voiced support for democracy, but also "expressed concern."
Pakistani military – back in charge
But many people in the country think the army's "concern" is part of the script that the generals have written themselves. Pro-democracy activists believe Khan and Qadri have the full backing of the army, which is wary of Sharif's cordial moves towards the country's regional arch-rival India. The PM and the army are also not on the same page over the Islamic Republic's Afghanistan policy, nor on the future of Pervez Musharraf, former military chief and ex-president, who is currently detained.
The military, which has been in control of the country for most of its recent history, enjoyed limited power during the five years former President Asif Ali Zardari was in office. The generals fear that if Sharif remains in power, they may further loose grip on the country's defense and foreign policy.
But the protests against the incumbent government, which came into power after winning a landslide victory in the May 2013 general elections, have put the army back in the driving seat.
"It seems that history is repeating itself in Pakistan," Siegfried O' Wolf, a South Asia expert at Heidelberg University, told DW. "There is a possibility that the military could once again use the so-called 'doctrine of necessity' to intervene in the political process. However, this does not mean there will be a direct takeover, but the army will definitely curtail the civilian government's decision-making power," he added.
Arshad Mahmood, an Islamabad-based social activist, is critical of the army's role in the conflict. "It is the military's constitutional responsibility to support the elected government. The statement that the generals issued after Sunday's meeting encouraged the protesters. I think the army definitely wants big changes in the government, if not a coup."
Ali K. Chishti, a security analyst in Karachi, also thinks the chances of a direct military coup are quite low: "The military does not like PM Sharif and his government's attempts to assert the civilian authority, but at the same time it is skeptical of both Khan and Qadri and their leadership skills. So, will the military topple the government? I think it will find a middle way," the expert told DW.
But some say the military has already cut Sharif down to his size. Abdul Agha, an Islamabad-based analyst, told DW that "I would call it a symbolic coup," adding that the military did not need to intervene directly now. Is it up to Sharif now?
The pressure is on the prime minister now. The political impasse is hurting the country's already weak economy. Should the PM resign to end the crisis and let an interim government hold fresh elections?
"Nawaz Sharif is head of an elected government. An extra-constitutional and enforced resignation would have an extremely negative impact on the future of democracy in Pakistan," O' Wolf said.
Chishti says no one in Pakistan resigns voluntarily. "PM Sharif remains adamant that he won't stand down, and from what I know of him, it would really be an extraordinary situation that would force him to leave office."
But activists like Mahmood believe that Sharif should hold his ground and not surrender to the opposition's blackmailing. "If he is forcefully removed, the world will see how the popular mandate of an elected government was violated by a handful of people."
West is concerned
Western nations have been cautiously watching the crisis in the Islamic state. They have so far not directly commented on the turmoil. But to say that they are not concerned about the future of an unstable nuclear-armed Islamic state would be naïve. Islamist groups, including the Taliban and al Qaeda, have been weakened after a decade-long western operation in neighboring Afghanistan, but the militants are still strong in Pakistan and have safe havens in the country's semi-governed northwestern areas. A bigger chaos in the country could become unmanageable not only for the Pakistani state but also for the international community.
"European governments would most likely not intervene in Pakistan's domestic political issues, however, the difficulties in the context of the US-Afghan bilateral security agreement might force Washington to draw decisive attention on the happenings in Islamabad," believes O' Wolf.