Friday, February 21, 2020

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Pakistan to remain on FATF Grey List till June 2020; watchdog warns of action if Islamabad fails to check terror funding

Global terror financing watchdog FATF on Friday decided continuation of Pakistan in the 'Grey List' and warned the country of stern action if it fails to check the flow of money to terror groups like the LeT and the JeM, sources said. The decision was taken at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) plenary in Paris. The FATF decided to continue Pakistan in the 'Grey List'. The FATF has also warned Pakistan that if it does not complete a full action plan by June, it could lead to consequences on its businesses, a source said.
The plenary noted that Pakistan addressed only a few of the 27 tasks given to it in controlling funding to terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and the Hizbul Mujahideen, which are responsible for a series of attacks in India. The FATF said Pakistan has to swiftly complete its full action plan by June, the source said.
With Pakistan's continuation in the 'Grey List', it will be difficult for the country to get financial aid from the IMF, the World Bank, the ADB and the European Union, thus further enhancing problems for the nation which is in a precarious financial situation. If Pakistan fails to comply with the FATF directive, there is every possibility that the global body may put the country in the 'Black List' along with North Korea and Iran.
India has been maintaining that Pakistan extends regular support to terror groups like the LeT, the JeM and the Hizbul Mujahideen, whose prime target is India, and has urged the FATF to take action against Islamabad. Pakistan is believed to have received strong backing from Malaysia but failed to impress western nations due to India's consistent efforts by providing materials and evidence on Pakistan's inaction to check funding to terror groups operating from its soil.
Pakistan needed 12 votes out of 39 to exit the 'Grey List' and move to the 'White List'. To avoid the "Black List", it needs the support of three countries. The 'Grey Listing' of Pakistan came three days after a sub-group of the FATF recommended continuation of the country in it. The FATF meeting, from 16 to 21 February, was held a week after an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan sentenced Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attack and founder of the LeT, to 11 years in two terror financing cases. The Pakistani court's judgment came ostensibly to please the FATF and western countries so that the country can exit the 'Grey List'.
Saeed, a UN-designated terrorist on whom the US has placed a $10 million bounty, was arrested on 17 July, 2019, in the terror financing cases. The 70-year-old fiery cleric is lodged at the high-security Kot Lakhpat jail in Pakistan. Pakistan has also recently informed the FATF that JeM founder Masood Azhar and his family are "missing". It has claimed that there were only 16 UN designated terrorists in Pakistan, of which "seven are dead".
Out of the nine who are alive, seven had applied to the UN for exemption from financial and travel restrictions. In the last month's FATF meeting in Beijing, Pakistan got support of Malaysia and Turkey besides FATF current chair China. In the Beijing meeting, Pakistan provided a list of its action taken to comply with FATF directions. Pakistan was placed on the 'Grey List' by the FATF in June 2018 and was given a plan of action to complete by October 2019 or face the risk of being placed on the 'Black List'.
The FATF is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system. It currently has 39 members, including two regional organisations the European Commission and the Gulf Cooperation Council. India is a member of the FATF consultations and its Asia Pacific Group.

#Pakistan - #IMF mission came to hold discussions with their representatives, says #Bilawal

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari slammed the government on Friday, saying that the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) mission had arrived in Pakistan to hold talks with its own representatives.
Bilawal was speaking to media when he lashed out at the government, saying that the IMF mission had arrived in Pakistan to hold negotiations with its own people. He accused the incumbent government of robbing the people of their economic rights, saying that when the PPP was in power, it approached the IMF but protected the people's interests.
“Whenever they wanted to burden the people of Pakistan then we would fight them,” said Bilawal while talking about the PPP’s decision to approach the IMF.
“The government is not fulfilling the promises it made, and the promises they made were incorrect,” said the PPP chairman. He further lamented that the government took over a year to approach the IMF over a bailout package.
On July 3, the IMF Executive Board had approved a three-year bailout package worth $6 billion to Pakistan. Soon after the agreement was signed, Pakistan had received the first tranche of a loan of $991.4 million from the fund.
The PPP chairman said that the government cannot document the economy at one go when it knows that a “huge section of Pakistan’s economy is undocumented”.
“You are making the businesses afraid. By setting the CNIC requirement you have taken the energy out of the economy,” lamented Bilawal. He added that the government needs to stop believing that those who are not in the tax net are corrupt.
“It is your system which is corrupt and inefficient,” said the PPP chairman.


Addressing a meeting of PPP women wing in Lahore, Bilawal Bhutto said that his party has rendered immense sacrifices for the restoration of democracy and upholding supremacy of the constitution in the country.
Criticizing the incumbent government for rising inflation and unemployment, the PPP chairman urged the people to stand for their rights.
During its tenure, the PPP-led government had initiated a war against the menace of terrorism and faced the challenges, he added.
Earlier on February 19, Chairman Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari talking to the media in Islamabad had said that he and his political party will not sit idly by as Pakistanis are dealing with rising inflation.
The PPP chairman demanded of the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan to tear away the written agreement between the government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The politician had said that he was ready to work alongside the federal government to alleviate the burden of inflation from the masses.

In memory of Tanvir Gondal (Lal Khan) June 1956-February 2020

I have just heard the sad news of the death of Tanvir Gondal, a dear friend and comrade of mine. Although he had been ill with cancer for some time, the news of his death was nevertheless a cruel blow.
It is true that in recent times we had been separated by some serious political differences, and it is a matter of deep regret that I was unable to be with him in this last, most difficult period. But at this moment, I cannot think of the differences. I can only think of the great and deep friendship that bound us together for many decades. When all is said and done, what united us was far greater than anything that divided us.
It is to that friendship that I now turn in what must be my final farewell to a beloved friend and comrade. I first met Tanvir in 1980 when he was a political exile in Europe. I remember him as a handsome, likeable young man, entirely dedicated to the cause of socialism and world revolution. We immediately struck up a friendship, which lasted for the best part of four decades.
In the course of my revolutionary life, which has lasted for sixty years, I have had many friendships with many fine people. But I think I can say that none of these friendships has been so close as that which united me to this man. It was not just a question of political agreement, which remained absolutely unshakeable for almost all this time. It was a warm, human relationship, born of profound mutual respect and confidence.
Tanvir was born the only son of a landowner in a small village in a remote part of the Punjab. That rugged land was an area that provided soldiers for the army from very distant times right up to the present. Unlike the lush green pastures of the central Punjab, this is a harsh and unyielding land, broken by mountains, rocks and stones. Tanvir used to say to me: “This land does not produce wheat, fruit or vegetables. It produces soldiers.” The people here are tough and resilient. They are also cheerful and enjoy music, dancing and jokes. But in time of war, as he explained to me, the villages are full of wailing women, mourning the death of their menfolk.
His father was an officer in the Pakistan army who naturally assumed that his son would follow in his footsteps. But Tanvir was always stubbornly independent, and he had other ideas. He wanted to study medicine, to become a doctor. And the intolerable injustices of society led him to seek the road to socialist revolution.
One of the hardest things he had to bear was not being able to be with his father when he died, being unable to travel to Pakistan under the dictatorship. But he remembered his father with great fondness.
He told me that in one of the last conversations they had, when his father learned of his revolutionary vocation, he said to him: “Son, no matter what you do, fight for what you believe. Remember you are a soldier. Never turn your back on the enemy. If you are going to be killed, make sure that you are shot from the front.” He took this advice to heart.
In the 1970s, Tanvir was a student of medicine in college and a political activist in Pakistan, participating in gun battles with the fanatical Islamist counterrevolutionaries on campus. After the 1977 military coup led by General Zia-ul-Haq he was imprisoned for a year.
He managed to escape to the Netherlands in 1980, where he began to organise a group of left-wing Pakistani exiles around a paper called The Struggle. It was at this time that he went to London with the express purpose of establishing contact with the leading British Marxist, Ted Grant.
From the very first moment, Ted formed a warm friendship with this young Pakistani revolutionary, of whom he had a very high opinion. For his part, the attitude of Tanvir towards Ted was one of profound admiration, almost, one might say, of reverence. In his house in Lahore, a large photograph of Ted with Tanvir still occupies pride of place on the wall.
I was in Spain at that time, conducting revolutionary activity. But I often met Tanvir at international meetings, and we struck up a great friendship. Like Ted, I had a very high opinion of his abilities.
Towards the end of the 1980s, he decided to go back to Pakistan. Although the situation had improved after the death of the hated dictator in an air crash, undoubtedly an assassination, the situation in Pakistan remained very difficult. Ted had doubts as to the wisdom of his return, but Tanvir persisted, and achieved remarkable results in a short space of time, starting virtually from nothing.
At the time of split in the International, Tanvir was absolutely firm in his support for the minority led by Ted Grant. I was made responsible for Pakistan section of what later became the IMT and visited the country on many occasions.
I have very fond memories of those visits, during which I was able to observe first-hand the extraordinary growth and development of the Pakistan section. Of course, there were difficulties problems of all sorts, but despite all the problems, the section grew by leaps and bounds.
The congresses of the Pakistan organisation were very impressive affairs, although, to tell the truth, they were more like rallies than congresses in the proper sense of the word. Large numbers of people came from all over Pakistan to attend these events which, for many comrades were the high point of the year’s activities.
This is not the place for me to talk in any detail about the political activities and achievements of the section. Nor is it the purpose of an obituary to do so. However, I must say that I met some very extraordinary people during these visits. One of them – a poor landless peasant from a remote rural area in Sind – had been a bandit (“dacoit”) in his youth and had been in prison, from which he escaped before finding his true vocation as a revolutionary. His life story would have made a very impressive novel.
Another was an old communist who had been imprisoned and brutally tortured under Zia-ul-Haq. He then spent years in solitary confinement, which she said was far worse than torture, with no kind of human contact for years on end. He told me that he would often wish that they would take him out of his cell to be tortured, so that he could at least hear a human voice again.
In those years, following the Congress of the section, Tanvir often invited me to accompany him to his village, where I met his mother – a remarkable old woman who dressed simply and carried on domestic tasks together with the servants. She could be seen very early in the morning, bent double, sweeping the patio with an old-fashioned broom. It was a kind of life that reminded me of Turgenev’s descriptions of rural Russia in semifeudal times.
Tanvir liked to go to the village so that he could get some peace and quiet to write. And in fact, he wrote quite a few books on the history of Pakistan, the crime of partition, the 1968-69 revolution, Kashmir, etc. He also travelled a lot to different parts of Pakistan. But he spent most of his time in Lahore.
Before the Zia-ul-Haq dictatorship, Lahore had been the artistic and cultural centre of Pakistan, and perhaps of the whole subcontinent. But that monstrous Islamist dictatorship tore the heart out of Lahore. It’s cultural and artistic life suffered dreadfully, and never fully recovered.
Despite that fact, some elements of the old cultural life still remained. Tanvir’s house became a magnet for cultural personalities, such as two remarkable men. One was Javed Shaheen, a very gifted writer and poet, and a dedicated communist who put this great talent at the service of the workers and peasants, the poor and oppressed. The other was my old friend Munnu Bhai, a highly talented and respected journalist, a fine poet and a man of great culture and personal charm.
To many Europeans it may seem strange that poetry can serve as a revolutionary weapon that can find an echo in the oppressed masses. But there is a long history of revolutionary poetry in the Subcontinent, where ordinary people are moved by a very ancient tradition of oral poetry and song.
I remember on many occasions sitting on the roof of Tanvir’s house together with these old intellectuals, spending hours talking about politics, religion, philosophy, art and poetry. They used to recite their poems, and Tanvir would sing songs about revolution or love, as the mood took him. He actually had a very good singing voice.
There are so many other memories that I have. But above all, the memory that I have, and will always have, of Tanvir Gondal is of a dedicated revolutionary Marxist and a warm, kind and generous friend.
Did he have faults? Oh yes, he had many of those. But which of us does not? And in the grand order of things, his virtues and abilities by far outweighed any negative considerations. Even his harshest critics cannot in all justice deny that he played an outstanding role in building the forces of Marxism in Pakistan.
He left a lasting impression on everyone who knew him, and his influence spread far beyond the frontiers of Pakistan. Particularly in India he was known to many on the left as an outstanding figure in the revolutionary movement of the subcontinent.
Many thousands of miles separate me from Lahore. And now an unbridgeable abyss separates me from my old friend and comrade. But from a distance I dedicate to his memory the following moving stanzas:
THEY told me, Heraclitus, they told me you were dead,
They brought me bitter news to hear and bitter tears to shed.
I wept as I remember’d how often you and I
Had tired the sun with talking and sent him down the sky.
And now that thou art lying, my dear old Carian guest
A handful of grey ashes, long, long ago at rest
Still are thy pleasant voices, thy nightingales, awake;
For Death, he taketh all away, but them he cannot take.
Our deepest sympathy goes to Sadaf and the children and to Paul (Rana), Tanvir's lifelong friend and loyal companion.
London, 21st February 2020

Thursday, February 20, 2020

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Why Is Pakistan’s Military Repressing a Huge, Nonviolent Pashtun Protest Movement?

By Madiha Afzal

On January 27, a man named Manzoor Pashteen was arrested in the 
middle of the night in Peshawar. He faced five charges, including sedition, criminal conspiracy, attacking Pakistan’s sovereignty, and promoting ethnic hatred. Pashteen is the young leader of the Pashtun Tahafuz (Protection) Movement, or the PTM: a non-violent protest movement demanding rights for Pashtuns in Pakistan’s former Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
Days after Pashteen’s arrest, PTM activists—elderly women among them—protesting for his release in front of the press club in Islamabad were arrested and also charged with sedition. Those activists were released on bail after a few days, but Pashteen remains under arrest.
Coverage of his two-year-old movement is censored in Pakistan. Newspapers and TV outlets are not allowed to report on the huge rallies the movement holds—with attendees numbering in the tens of thousands—or to air the movement’s demands. In a state that has routinely negotiated with right-wing Islamists who take to the streets, why have the PTM’s members been repeatedly arrested, and why does this movement of dissenters present such a challenge to its military?
The Movement and Its Demands
The movement alleges grave human rights violations by Pakistan’s military against Pashtuns in the country’s northwest. It says that Pashtuns have been the target of violence at the hands of both the Taliban and the Pakistani military for two decades. The movement claims that the military has killed innocent civilians in its operations against the Pakistani Taliban, and that it needs to answer for “missing persons.” It also contends that Pashtuns are regularly harassed at checkpoints and treated with suspicion, and that landmines continue to make their lives insecure.
These complaints festered for years before the movement was officially created in 2018. In 2015, while conducting interviews for my book, I met Pashtun students in Lahore who told me that the army’s ongoing, multi-year military operation—Zarb-e-Azb—was not what it seemed from outside the tribal areas.
The PTM demands a truth and reconciliation commission to address claims of extrajudicial killings and missing persons. The movement also claims that the military supported Pakistani Taliban (also known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP) militants, and its leaders have said—most explosively—that after the military claims to have decimated the Pakistani Taliban in Zarb-e-Azb, “the Taliban are being allowed to return” to the tribal areas in a “secret deal with the military.” One of its slogans translates to: “This terrorism—behind it is the uniform.”
The military categorically rejects these claims, arguing that the movement is dangerous and that its rhetoric threatens Pakistan’s constitution. PTM leaders argue, in turn, that they are only asking for their constitutional rights. Two of the PTM’s leaders, Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar, were elected parliamentarians in the July 2018 election that also brought Prime Minister Imran Khan to power, giving the movement some parliamentary representation. Yet last May, after a protest turned violent (the PTM claims soldiers shot unarmed protesters; the state claims the protesters shot first), Dawar and Wazir were arrested and spent four months under detention.
Fact-checking the PTM’s Claims
While sources have corroborated some of the PTM’s claims regarding missing persons and civilian deaths at the hands of the military, the assertion that Taliban militants are being allowed to return to these areas—some carrying weapons—remains mostly uncorroborated. This is in large part due to the fact that the army has kept a chokehold on the tribal areas, shuttling in journalists and officials for sanitized tours of the region. The army does not allow anyone except locals free rein to see for themselves the full effects of its kinetic operations against the Pakistan Taliban.
While the number of TTP attacks has fallen dramatically—lending credence to the military’s story—and the military has lost thousands of soldiers in operations against the Pakistani Taliban, some reports do claim that members of the TTP have been given amnesty in return for sharing intelligence, and allowed to return to the area. But these are sporadic accounts, largely due to the lack of access that the military provides to these areas.
Why the PTM Threatens Pakistan’s Military
Since last year, Pakistan’s military—increasingly emboldened and powerful vis-à-vis the country’s civilian institutions—has said publicly that it has had enough of the PTM, telling the protesters their “time is up.” While the group has mostly been allowed to hold protests, it has also been maligned relentlessly as full of traitors, charged with a colonial-era sedition law (which criminalizes disloyalty, contempt, hatred, and disaffection for the state), and labeled agents of “enemy governments,” alternatively India and Afghanistan.
Why does the army find the PTM unbearable? Because the movement is calling the army to account and questioning its integrity.
Ironically, the state has given more voice to terrorists than it has to this group. The spokesperson for the Pakistan Taliban, Ehsanullah Ehsan, was allowed to be interviewed for television in 2017 (though most channels pulled the interview after receiving complaints; most recently, Ehsan appears to have escaped the military’s custody). The state also engaged in talks with the Pakistani Taliban before beginning the Zarb-e-Azb operation against them in 2014. Yet for the state to silence the PTM more than it did terrorists is not surprising either, because a non-violent protest movement calling the army’s integrity into question may threaten the army’s legitimacy in Pakistan in a way the TTP never did.
On another level, the Pakistani state finds the PTM threatening because the former has always been troubled by strong ethnic loyalties; the state believes ethnic cleavages threaten Pakistan’s unifying glue of an Islamic identity. The rhetoric wary of ethnic loyalties began with Pakistan’s founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who soon after the country’s creation warned Pakistanis against the “poison of provincialism” that could threaten Pakistan’s unity. The lesson the Pakistani state took from the secession of East Pakistan to form Bangladesh in 1971—caused by political and ethnic grievances—was ironically to double-down on its Islamic identity (and to Islamize its laws and its education system), at the expense of individual ethnic loyalties. In Baluchistan, the military has been fighting a low-level separatist Baluch insurgency with acute repression for decades. And the state has long worried about Pashtun separatism and about the Pashtuns’ close ties with Afghanistan. It appears to believe its policy of support to fundamentalist Islamists, including the Afghan Taliban, helps counter Pashtun influence.
What Ordinary Pakistanis Think About the Movement
The censorship of the PTM and the state’s official stance on the group has largely worked in shaping the narrative for Pakistanis. Though there is no formal polling on this, many Pakistanis seem to buy the state’s narrative; they are critical of the PTM, calling them traitors who operate at the direction of other states.
In addition, many Pakistanis conflate Pashtuns with terrorism, which also hurts the PTM’s case. Only a small group of liberal, progressive lawyers and activists—and among political leaders from the three major parties, only Bilawal Bhutto Zardari of the Pakistan People’s Party—have spoken out in favor of the movement. The conversation about the PTM takes place mostly on social media, where journalists, who have seen segments of their shows covering the PTM cut from the airwaves, have also been more open.
Khan’s Stance
Prime Minister Imran Khan and the military are likely not on the same page regarding the PTM. If he were unshackled by the military, my sense is that it would not be Khan’s instinct to repress the movement. Nonetheless, it is an issue on which Khan chooses to remain silent to preserve his position as prime minister, for which the military serves as the ultimate guarantor.
Khan periodically says that “armies are not meant to go into civilian areas” when he talks about the Pakistani army’s efforts to help the U.S. war on terror, and that such military operations only increase militancy, which he says explained the rise of the Pakistan Taliban. When pressed about the PTM at an event at the U.S. Institute of Peace during his visit to Washington last July, he said directly:
We should never have sent army there. Whenever you send an army into civilian areas, there are massive collateral damage, and massive casualties and destruction. (…) And, and so once this whole thing was over, this young Pashtun movement started. And this Pashtun movement was correct, what they were saying. The area was devastated, the people of the tribal areas, I mean, half of them were internally displaced, the shops were gone, the most of them relied on livestock. Livestock disappeared. The whole area was, as it is tribal areas before 2001, 75% of the people were under the poverty line. So after this military action, they even went further down. So we had this young movement and, and movement stemming out of anger. And they, of course, they blame the Pakistan Army for, for all the devastation there.
But Khan also said that the PTM started attacking the Pakistan army (he implied that it was via its rhetoric), and that in the encounter at the protest last May, civilians charged at an army post. He said he was hopeful that his merger of the former federally administered tribal areas with the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would bring progress to the region. All this suggests that he has sympathy for the PTM, but Khan has remained studiously silent on the issue in recent months.
Going Forward
This protest movement shows no signs of receding: PTM activists say they have “nothing more to lose” and will continue to protest. But it is also clear from Pashteen’s and the other protesters’ arrests that the state will continue to repress it. The PTM’s allegations are all gravely serious, and if true, would be a damning indictment of the state’s malintent toward its own citizens. If the movement’s charges are false, as the army claims, then the army can engage with the PTM, pull back the curtain on the tribal areas, allow for a truth and reconciliation commission, give an accounting of its actions against the Pakistani Taliban, and absolve itself.
But there is no reason to think it will do so. Pakistan’s military has always guarded itself against accountability, and in recent months, Pakistan’s civil-military scales have tipped further in favor of the military. The current army chief’s term has been extended, and parliament passed new rules for extensions of all military chiefs. The real question is: How far will the military go to repress this movement? The cause for concern is the potential for the confrontation to turn violent.
Beyond the Pakistani state’s repression and the potential for violence, the PTM’s allegations have direct relevance for American security interests. Because if true, the movement’s claims that the army is in cahoots with the Pakistani Taliban would continue to put Pakistan’s sincerity in fighting terrorism both within its borders and beyond into doubt. Such sincerity is something that the Pakistani army has repeatedly asserted in recent years. It suggests that the army will continue to support the Afghan Taliban, too, once the U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan. All this should be of direct concern to America as it seeks to negotiate with the Taliban and leave Afghanistan.

First woman journalist in Pakistan’s Swat says press club denied membership due to gender


Shaista Hakim — the first woman journalist in the city of Swat — has alleged that she was denied a membership in the Swat Press Club because of her gender.
She also said that she had been denied membership in the Electronic Media Association for the same reason.
According to Hakim, her journalistic credentials of nine years were never acknowledged by the local journalistic community in Swat because she is a woman.
The Swat Valley is a deeply conservative region that was once briefly under Taliban control  — from 2007 to 2009It is located in the north-west frontier province of Pakistan, where South Asia, Central Asia and China meet, making it a strategic location. 
It was here where Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban. Though they cleared out in 2009, a strong military presence remains to safeguard the area.
“Local journalists are not ready to acknowledge my journalistic identity,” Hakim said.
Hakim has worked with Radio Pakistan, Tribal News Network, among other media organisations.
The Pakhtun Journalists Association has come out in support of Hakim and tweeted: “#PJA stands with the only Female Journalist of #Swat @shaistahakim1. Swat Press Club must award her Membership to make our whole community proud.”
According to the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, less than five per cent of the 20,000 journalists working in Pakistan are women.

Would pull govt down now if I could: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari

The Pakistan People's Party Chairman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, said that he would oust the government then and there if he could.
He said the PPP wants to remove the government within the ambit of the Constitution. He said that PPP would not be part of any conspiracy to topple the government unconstitutionally. He said that he was asked if he was acceptable to the establishment but he had the criterion to be acceptable to the people.
He urged Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif to return to the country and play his role in the prevailing situation. Talking to the media after visiting the residence of party member Jameel Ahmed Manj to express condolence over the death of his mother, Bilawal said the nation would reject the opposition parties if they don’t come out to support them. He announced holding rallies against inflation. He said people would certainly raise the question to the opposition parties in the next polls over their performance. He said for the sake of the poor population of the country, the PPP is ready to move ahead with any political party.
The purpose behind his opinion of the party stalwarts and devise a strategy to rid the country of present rulers who are running the government through magic. He said that ministers, instead of consulting Moody’s and Bloomberg, should contact people to register the actual situation of the economy.
To a query, he said the court gave a remarkable verdict on Article 6 and stated that a traitor is a traitor, his definition cannot be changed. To a question, he said Maryam Nawaz should be granted permission to see her father. He said an incapable leadership is ruling the country and the entire nation is aware of this fact, but the government is shifting blames for its own failures to previous governments.The PPP chairman said people are being murdered economically and instead of asking the IMF, the rulers should ask the nation about their performance. Referring to the MQM and the PML-Q, the two main allies of the PTI government, Bilawal said neither the people of Karachi nor the people of Gujrat are happy over this alignment.
Expressing solidarity with the journalists community, he said the PPP expressed profound grief over the killing of journalist Aziz Memon and the Sindh government could also think of setting up a judicial commission on the demand of the family of the deceased. He said the PPP wouldn’t compromise on the interests and rights of the nation.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

#Pakistan #PPP - Bilawal Bhutto hints to topple the federal government

Chairman Pakistan People’s Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that despite all the government’s tactics, he will continue to his political struggle against the federal government.
According to the details, Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari while talking to senior journalists said that I would prefer to topple the PTI’s government as soon as possible, and the reason behind this decision is not political but I have taken this decision because of the worsening economic conditions, human rights issues and restrictions on the media.
Criticizing the government, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that this government has lost its stack, so they are accepting all the terms of the IMF.
“Yes! We also went to the IMF but we didn’t accept all the conditions of the global monetary organization, he added.
Chairman People’s Party said, “We fought the war against terrorism and also managed two floods despite these salaries were increased by more than 100 percent in People’s party’s tenure.

Bilawal Bhutto to contact opposition forces

I will contact all sections of different walks of life against the government and will communicate with the public through conventions and seminars, the Chairman added.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also said that we have to tell the people that they are the stakeholders in the election, politics, and economy.
In his statement, Chairman PPP  further said that institutions should maintain their dignity by staying away from national issues. If they fall into these issues, the fingers will raise on them.

Welcome to Khan’s ‘Naya Pakistan’! - On Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ‘Naya (New) Pakistan’ – OpEd

By Nilesh Kunwar
Just the other day Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that there are no safe havens for terrorists in his country and on the face of it, his claim sounds convincing because many high-profile terrorists suddenly seem to have fled Pakistan.
Readers would recall that after last year’s terrorist car bomb attack in Pulwama, J&K, when CNN asked Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi about the whereabouts of its mastermind Maulana Masood Azhar, who is also chief of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) ), confirmed that “He is in Pakistan, according to my information” and then went on to say “He is unwell to the extent that he can’t leave his house, because he’s really unwell.”
But a year down the line we find Islamabad telling Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that not only Azhar, (who was supposed to be “unwell to the extent that he can’t leave his house,”) but his entire family are “missing.” Could it be that this UN designated global terrorist has ‘fled’ Pakistan as he feared persecution in Khan’s ‘Naya Pakistan”?
The same seems to be the case with former Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan whose terrorist outfit was responsible for the Army School Peshawar massacre in which 132 students and eight staff members lost their lives. He is also behind the cowardly and unsuccessful attempt to murder Nobel prize winner Malala Yousafzai.
Ehsan had apparently ‘surrendered’ to the Pakistan army three years ago and for reasons unknown, instead of being lodged in a jail as one would have expected, he was accommodated in a ‘safe house’ alongwith his family.
The Pakistan army decided that Ehsan would be tried by a military court but once again for inexplicable reasons, Rawalpindi didn’t even care to file a charge-sheet against this unrepentant murderer. So, could it be that despite enjoying a blissful life with his wife and children without any fear of being brought to justice for his terror related acts, Ehsan still chose to fly the coop along with his family because he feared that Khan would make an example out of him?
Speaking of making examples, by convicting Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) co-founder and the 2008 Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed on whom the US State Department has announce a bounty of $ 10 million, Pakistan has shown to the world how serious it is when it comes to dealing with those who plan, perpetuate or finance terrorist activities.
Having found Saeed and one of his associates guilty on two counts of terror financing and money laundering, a Pakistani court has sentenced both to five and half years in prison on each count. Both have also been fined a sum of Rs 15,000 each. But, since both sentences will run concurrently, the duo will only have to serve for five and a half years each in prison and remission for good behaviour will reduce this period significantly.
Since Pakistan is itself a victim of terrorism, why are its courts still so casual and lenient while dealing with terrorism-related is difficult to explain.
Whereas Khan may boast about Pakistan having a robust and independent judiciary, there is very strong evidence of Rawalpindi’s interference in the judicial process. Then, last year we heard Khan saying that “Until we came into power, the governments did not have the political will (to act against Pakistan based terrorist groups)” and admitting “we still have about 30,000-40,000 armed people who have been trained and fought in some part of Afghanistan or Kashmir.”
Today, when PM Khan says that there are no more safe havens for terrorists in Pakistan, one is tempted to ask him as to where has this humungous body of “30 to 40 thousand-armed people” gone? Is it that just like the Jaish-e-Mohammad chief and former TTP and JuA spokesperson, these veterans of irregular warfare in Afghanistan and Kashmir too have fled Pakistan out of fear and simply disappeared without any trace? Or is it just that they have been instructed by Rawalpindi to lie low and cool their heels till the FATF meet concludes? Could Khan’s threat that “This government will not allow Pakistan’s land to be used for any kind of outside terrorism” forced those who have “fought in some part of Afghanistan or Kashmir” to leave the country to search for new safe havens?
A supposedly ailing Pakistan based terrorist leader who could be a source of embarrassment to the government at FATF meeting suddenly goes ‘missing’. Another terrorist who had a hand in the murder of 132 innocent students negotiated his ‘surrender’ with the army and then manages to escape from custody, while a terrorist with $10 million bounty for master minding the Mumbai attacks that left 166 dead and 293 injured is instead tried only for money laundering and terror financing, and given such a lenient sentence that makes mockery of the law.
Welcome to Khan’s ‘Naya Pakistan’!

India's Military Is Quite Deadly (China and Pakistan Should Worry)

By Kyle Mizokami Missiles, carriers, and more.
Key point: India is faced on two sides by powerful, nuclear-armed countries it has fought wars with—China and Pakistan.
India occupies one of the most strategically important locations in the world. A short distance from the Persian Gulf, Central Asia and Southeast Asia, India has been an important hub for ideas, trade and religion for thousands of years.That geographic positioning has its disadvantages. India is faced on two sides by powerful, nuclear-armed countries it has fought wars with—China and Pakistan.India’s most formidable rival is China, with whom it fought a short, sharp border war with in 1962. China’s growing military has transformed it from a mainly ground-based threat to a multifaceted one with powerful assets in the air, at sea and even in space.
India’s second most powerful rival is Pakistan, which was also part of the British Raj. India and Pakistan have fought four wars since 1947, and frequently appear on the verge of a fifth.
Complicating matters for India, the two countries are allies. Advances in military technology mean India’s large reserves of manpower are no longer as useful as they once were, and India will need to favor the former over the latter if it wants to match—and deter—Chinese and Pakistani forces.
AH-64D Apache Longbow Block III Attack Helicopter
Indian selection of the AH-64D Apache as its future attack helicopter is a prime example of technology over manpower. The Apache’s versatility means that it will be able to do everything from engage tank formations in a conventional war to hunt guerrillas in a counterinsurgency operation.
The heavily armed, fast-moving Apache can counter a number of land-based threats to India, sensing enemy armored vehicles with its mast-mounted millimeter-wave radar and destroying them with Hellfire missiles, Hydra-70 anti-armor rockets and a 30mm chain gun. The helicopter can also detect insurgents under heavy cover using its thermal imaging sensor and engage them with anti-personnel rockets or the 30mm chain gun.
INS Vikramaditya Aircraft Carrier Commissioned in November 2013, INS Vikramaditya is India’s newest aircraft carrier and the only aircraft carrier that calls the Indian Ocean home. In the event of war, Vikramaditya will be used to blockade Karachi, Pakistan’s largest port, or sever China’s economic lifeline to the Persian Gulf and beyond.
Vikramaditya is 282 meters long and displaces 44,000 tons, making her about 20 percent smaller than China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning. Unlike Liaoning, however, she is a fully operational carrier, with an air wing capable of executing air superiority, anti-surface, anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare. The carrier air wing is expected to consist of twenty-four MiG-29K or Tejas multirole fighters and ten anti-submarine warfare helicopters. India has ordered forty-five MiG-29Ks. Vikramaditya will operate as the centerpiece of a full carrier battle group, protected by the new Kolkata air-defense destroyers. A further two carriers of indigenous designs are planned, bringing India’s total carrier force to three.
BrahMos Anti-Ship Missile
A joint Indian-Russian project, BrahMos is a short-range supersonic cruise missile capable of being launched from a wide variety of platforms. BrahMos is one of the most advanced missiles in the world, capable of hitting targets on land and at sea with precision. The versatility of BrahMos means it could equally target enemy ships and terrorist training camps with ease. A ramjet propels BrahMos to speeds of up to Mach 3, or 1,020 meters a second. The anti-ship version is a so-called “sea skimmer,” flying just over the wavetops to give enemies as little as 35 seconds’ warning time.
Depending on the variant and method of launch, BrahMos is armed with a 440-660 pound penetrating high explosive warhead and has a range of 186-310 miles.The combination of speed and hitting power makes BrahMos a particular concern to the Pakistani Navy, whose surface ships lack adequate area air defenses. Even the Chinese Navy will find BrahMos formidable, as it would face the daunting prospect of a Mach 3 missile threat launched by aircraft, coastal defense batteries, destroyers and submarines.One of India’s newest fighters is an updated design dating back to the late 1970s. An evolution of the Su-27 Flanker, the Su-30MKI has been extensively upgraded, and the result is a long-range, twin-engine fighter with a powerful radar and amazing twelve hard points for the attachment of weapons.
The Su-30MKI’s air-to-air armament includes R-73 infrared guided missiles and R-77 and R-27 radar-guided missiles. Of particular interest is the upcoming Novator K-100 “AWACS killer” missile, capable of engaging targets at up to 300 to 400 kilometers. Against targets on the ground, the Su-30MKI can employ laser-guided bombs, Kh-59 standoff land-attack missiles and the BrahMos missile.The Indian Air Force has 200 Su-30MKIs air superiority fighters in service with another seventy-two on order. A portion of the IAF’s Su-30MKI force has been modified by Israel for the strategic reconnaissance role.
INS Chakra Nuclear Attack Submarine
India’s first nuclear attack submarine, INS Chakra, started life as a Russian Navy submarine funded to completion by the Indian Navy in return for a ten-year lease.
Based on the Soviet Union’s Akula II class, Chakra displaces 8,000 tons, making it more than twice as large as any of India’s German-made Type 209 or Russia Kilo class submarines. It can sustain a speed of 30 knots submerged and can dive to a depth of 520 meters. The submarine has eight submarine tubes enabling it to launch regular homing torpedoes, Kh-55 “Granat” cruise missiles, and “Shkval” supercavitating torpedoes, capable of traveling at 220 knots to ranges of 15 kilometers.
As a nuclear submarine, Chakra will be able to spend prolonged periods underwater, making it difficult to detect. During wartime, the advanced submarine will go after high value targets, such as Pakistani submarines (possibly carrying nuclear-armed cruise missiles) and Chinese submarines, destroyers, aircraft carriers and submarines.

Pakistan scrambles to exit FATF grey list but ‘not many takers’ for its diplomatic offensive

The plenary meet of global terror financing watchdog FATF began on 16 February and it will announce its final assessment on 21 February.
With just two days left for the final assessment by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Plenary, it seems clear now that Pakistan will continue to remain on the grey list of the global terror financing watchdog. Islamabad has been trying hard to exit the grey list, failing which it runs the risk of getting automatically blacklisted, ThePrint has learned.
According to FATF norms, if a country fails to meet its parameters within a prescribed time-frame, it automatically gets blacklisted.
“Pakistan is trying to get out of the grey list. They have mounted a diplomatic offensive. So far, there are not many takers and therefore they will remain under scrutiny. FATF will take a decision (on Friday) based on the progress made by Pakistan on well-defined parameters,” a top Indian official told ThePrint.
The plenary meet of the FATF began on 16 February and it will announce its final assessment on 21 February.

‘More or less decided’ that Pakistan won’t be blacklisted

According to FATF norms, Islamabad has to completely overhaul its financial network systems to strengthen its anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism regime, or AML/CFT, regime. In other words, it was asked to crack down on terror outfits like Jaish-e-Mohammed, Jamat-ud-Dawa and Lashkar-e-Taiba, among others.
According to another Indian official ThePrint spoke to, India has already provided adequate proof to the FATF that Islamabad continues to extend financial support to these terror outfits and that it should be blacklisted.
But it was saved at the last moment by China, Malaysia and Turkey, according to the official, who didn’t want to be identified.
The fact that Pakistan will not be blacklisted was “more or less decided” by the FATF after a report by the International Cooperation Review Group, a sub-group of the FATF, recommended against it Monday.
In January, the Asia Pacific Group, another sub-group of the FATF, had recommended giving Pakistan additional time to implement measures to control terror funding, sources said.

Blacklisting will be a big blow to Pakistan

According to the FATF norms, Pakistan has to meet 13 of the 27 parameters laid down by the watchdog to come out of the grey list. It would also need 12 votes from the 39-member groups to exit the grey list, which it has not been able to get as of now.
Blacklisting by the FATF will have serious repercussions on Pakistan’s economy.
If blacklisted, global financial institutions will not be able to lend money to Islamabad. In December 2019, the IMF had said such a move will have implications for capital inflows to Pakistan.
Last year, the IMF had approved $6 billion loan to Pakistan on tough conditions.
During the FATF’s last plenary meet in October, the Paris-based body had issued a stern warning to Pakistan to meet all the parameters. The plenary is the FATF’s highest decision-making body.
The next FATF plenary meet is scheduled in June.

‘More or less decided’ that Pakistan won’t be blacklisted

According to FATF norms, Islamabad has to completely overhaul its financial network systems to strengthen its anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism regime, or AML/CFT, regime. In other words, it was asked to crack down on terror outfits like Jaish-e-Mohammed, Jamat-ud-Dawa and Lashkar-e-Taiba, among others.
According to another Indian official ThePrint spoke to, India has already provided adequate proof to the FATF that Islamabad continues to extend financial support to these terror outfits and that it should be blacklisted.
But it was saved at the last moment by China, Malaysia and Turkey, according to the official, who didn’t want to be identified.
The fact that Pakistan will not be blacklisted was “more or less decided” by the FATF after a report by the International Cooperation Review Group, a sub-group of the FATF, recommended against it Monday.
In January, the Asia Pacific Group, another sub-group of the FATF, had recommended giving Pakistan additional time to implement measures to control terror funding, sources said.

Blacklisting will be a big blow to Pakistan

According to the FATF norms, Pakistan has to meet 13 of the 27 parameters laid down by the watchdog to come out of the grey list. It would also need 12 votes from the 39-member groups to exit the grey list, which it has not been able to get as of now.
Blacklisting by the FATF will have serious repercussions on Pakistan’s economy.
If blacklisted, global financial institutions will not be able to lend money to Islamabad. In December 2019, the IMF had said such a move will have implications for capital inflows to Pakistan.
Last year, the IMF had approved $6 billion loan to Pakistan on tough conditions.