Thursday, May 28, 2015

Video - President Obama Receives the Annual Briefing on Hurricane Season Outlook and Preparedness

Pashto Music Video - Rahim Shah - Mama De Mama De

ځیني افغان چارواکي له ISI سره پر هوکړلیک پښیمانه دي

د افغانستان د ولسي جرګې د کورني امنیت کمیسیون غړي وایې چې جمهور ریس اشرف غني ورسره ژمنه کړې که د ولسي جرګې غړې راضي نه وي نو د پاکستان سره استخباراتي تړون به لاسلیک نه شي.
یو شمېرحکومتي چارواکي چې د پاکستان سره د معلوماتو د شریکولو د استخباراتي تړون په لاسلیک کولو کې دخیل دي د دې تړون لاسلیک د بېړې پریکړه بولي او د ولسي جرګې غړو ته یې ویلي چې په خپل دې کارپیښمانه دي.
د ولسي جرګې د کورني امنیت د کمیسیون مرستیال عبدالحی اخندزاده که څه هم د دې کسانو نومونه نه اخلي خو وایې کسانوتېره شپه له ولسمشرغني سره د ولسي جرګې د اداري پلاوي، کورني امنیت، نړېوالو اړیکو او د دفاعي کمیسیونونو سره په یوه غونډه کې دغه څرګندونې مطرح کړې.
ښاغلي اخندزاده د پنجشنبې په ورځ ازداي راډيوته وویل چې جمهورریس غني له دوی څخه د وخت ورکولو غوښتنه کړې ترڅو د پاکستان سره په دې تړون کې اصلاحات راوستل شي:
((موږ تقریبا تر یوه ساعته پورې د جمهور ریس سره ملاقات درلوده، د ولسي جرګې د نورو غړو ترڅنګ اداري پلاوی هم په دې غونډه کې وه په همدې مو خبرې وکړي.
موږ چې د حکومتي مقاماتو سره خبرې لرلې، دوی هم له دې تړونه له امله پیښمانه دي او وایې چې اشتباه یې کړې ده.
جمهور ریس غني هم وویل چې په دې تړون کې ستونزې شته او وخت راکړئ چې په هغې کې اصلاحات راولم او بیا یې تاسې ته در ولیږم نو ګورو به چې کوم اصلاحات په کې راوستل کیږي.))
د ملي امنیت ریس رحمت الله نبیل له هغو څرګندونو وروسته چې له ده سره د دې تړون په وروستي کولو کې مشوره نه ده شوي، ولسي جرګې پریکړه وکړه چې د ملي امنیت شورا سلاکارحنیف اتمرد وضاحت لپاره د چهارشنبې په ورځ استجوابیه غونډې ته ور وغواړي.
خو په ټاکلي ورځ بیا د ولسي جرګې اداري پلاوي پرته له دې چې ښاغلی اتمر ورشي، دې موضوع ته د پای ټکی کیښود چې دې کارد ولسي جرګې د زیاتو غړو غوصه راوپاروله.
د ولسي جرګې منشي عبدالروف انعامي وایې چې د ښاغلي اتمرد رابللو پریکړه لا په ځای پاتې ده او د دې کارلپاره له جرګې څخه زیاته اندازه لاسلیکونه را ټول شوي دي.
دی وايي، جمهورریس اشرف غني ژمنه کړې چې د اصلاحاتو سره- سره که د ولسي جرګې غړې راضي نه وي نو د پاکستان سره استخباراتي تړون به لاسلیک نه شي:
((د ملي امنیت شورا سلاکار د استجواب لپاره شل فیصده لاسلیکونه را جمع شوي دي، که څه هم په هغه ملاقات کې چې موږ د جمهور ریس سره درلوده جمهور ریس وضاحت راکړ او ټینګار یې وکړ چې له اصلاحاتو وروسته به ولسي جرګې ته ولیږل شي، خو داسې هم ده چې که ولسي جرګې هغه د لاسلیک کیدو وړ و نه باله رد به شي.))
له دې سره د امنیتي چارو یو شمېرکارپوهان د ولسي جرګې د غړو څرګندونې تاییدوي او وایې چې د داسې مهم تړون په لاسلیک کې باید د ملي شورا سره مشوره شوی وای.
د کورنیو چارو وزارت پخوانی مرستیال میرزامحمد یارمند وایې، افغانستان، پاکستان خپل دښمن ګڼي او دی په دې باور دی چې پاکستان به کله هم د داسې تړونونو له مخې د افغانستان له امنیت سره مرسته ونه کړي:
((د پاکستان سره د افغانستان تېر وختونه او اړیکې ښې نه دي او دغه هېواد د سولې په پلمه تل د افغانستان جنګ ته لمن وهلي ده، ښه دا وه چې د دې تړون په اړه یوه ټولیزه پوښتنه شوي وای، د اوربند او د سولې په اړه مشخص تعریف موجود وای او بیا دا تړون پاکستان ته وړاندې شوی وای نوستونزې به یې نه درلودای، اوس په دې وخت او دې وضعیت کې دا تړون زه مناسب نه ګڼم.))
کارپوهان وایې، د پاکستانه د امنیت او سولې غوښتلو موضوع زړه شوې او کلونه وشول چې افغانستان د سولې کلي له پاکستان نه غواړي.
دوی ټینګار کوي چې افغانستان باید د پاکستان په وړاندې له سم سیاسته کار واخلي او هغه هېواد ته اجازه ورنه کړي چې په بېلابېلو پلمو او یا د استخباراتي تړون په نوم بیا افغانان تیر باسي.

Book review: The Arabs at War in Afghanistan

The Arabs at War in Afghanistan Mustafa Hamid and Leah Farrall C Hurst & Co, Dh115
Conversations between enemies are rare and still more rarely overheard. Mustafa Hamid and Leah Farrall are not enemies, but they represent two vastly different worlds, and ones that routinely clash. This makes their new book The Arabs at War in Afghanistan an important and very unusual collaboration.
Structured in a series of interviews, Hamid gives a behind-the-scenes perspective on how Arab fighters came to play a prominent role during the 1979-1989 war against Soviet forces in Afghanistan and how Al Qaeda got its start.
His narrative departs significantly from commonly held views and he brings fresh insights into the current generation of militants in Syria and Iraq. Farrall, a former counter-terrorism analyst for the Australian Federal Police turned academic, asks the questions and offers her own insights.
Together the two paint a picture not just of the complex networks of Arab fighters that fought in Afghanistan; they also show how Osama bin Laden spent much of his life after the anti-Soviet war on a crisis-footing, barely keeping out of reach of his enemies and struggling to retain his relevance.
A former journalist, Hamid was captivated by the plight of Afghan resistance fighters battling the Soviet-backed forces. And he was hardly alone. Across the Middle East, in parts of Asia, and in the West, men and women rallied to aid the mujaheddin after the Soviet Union invaded, a period of history captured so aptly in the 2007 US movie, Charlie Wilson’s War.
Born in Egypt, Hamid travelled to Afghanistan and took up arms. Also known by the nom de guerre Abu Walid Al Masri, he became a close friend of bin Laden, but claims not to have joined Al Qaeda. He and others advised bin Laden against carrying out the September 11, 2001 attacks, he says, although it’s not clear whether he had foreknowledge of the details of the plot. But in Hamid’s story, bin Laden, chasing glory, stubbornly refused to listen.
After those devastating attacks and the subsequent US invasion of Afghanistan, Hamid fled to Iran, where he was detained and spent a decade under house arrest. He was released in 2011 and returned to Egypt, although he remains a specially designated global terrorist by the US Treasury Department.
At a time when the US government’s account of bin Laden’s death is under fresh scrutiny, Hamid’s relationship with bin Laden is especially fascinating.
He paints a picture of a wealthy and self-important man who never regained the kind of prestige he won after the 1987 battle against Soviet forces in Jaiji, on Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan.
Bin Laden spent most the rest of his life trying to maintain the loyalty of his followers – far fewer in number than people usually think – before ordering the September 11 attacks. Apparently entirely misjudging the US response, bin Laden anticipated fighting US paratroopers sent to capture him on Tora Bora. At the end of that struggle he believed, victorious, he would become head of a newly united legion of “holy warriors”.
In Hamid’s version of history, bin Laden was a thorn in the side of the Taliban and many of the other Arab Afghan groups. He ignored instructions from Taliban chief Mullah Omar to stop making threats and other pronouncements from Afghanistan. But though he was recognised as dangerous for the Taliban’s project, bin Laden was powerful and rich, and tribal custom meant that Omar could not simply turn him in, despite pressure from foreign governments.
The Arabs at War in Afghanistan is unquestionably an involved read. The authors are aware only the few and the persistent will make their way through the 300-page plus, text-dense tome. Thankfully, the book contains very necessary guides to the myriad people, battles, religious terms and organisations discussed. Some individuals, such as Saif Al Adel, are members of Al Qaeda that have not yet been captured or killed. Others, such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the chief architect of the September 11 attacks, are more widely known.
It’s obvious that Farrall finds what Hamid says fascinating, but while the two collaborate, they don’t always agree. For example, Farrall has a very different point of view than Hamid of the role that extremist groups play in relation to western governments. Farrall is also careful to make clear that she is not his biographer. It’s to her credit that she’s succeeded in drawing out a man with unique insights into the world of religious militancy, a feat very few, if any, have done to the same depth.
Still, the words are mainly Hamid’s and the reader either must take him at his word or read the book like any other autobiography, with the knowledge that it mostly contains his necessarily flawed and biased recollections and perspective. For example, at times he comes across as overly defensive of the Taliban and his views are tinged with conspiracy theories. The reader is also left wanting more of Farrall’s own insights. Her own desire to hear Hamid’s thoughts limits the book and too often, she seems content to let him speak.
“In Afghanistan, the ideological control of the Salafi Wahhabis over armed groups was consolidated, and has since expanded and come to dominate Salafi jihadi yards around the world,” Hamid says. “This has led to grave consequences for the people of the countries in which these groups operate, not only most recently in Syria, but everywhere they have gone.”
Hamid is not an impartial observer. His willingness to call for reflection and admit mistakes among the mujaheddin should perhaps be seen in this context: when he joined the ranks of those fighting in Afghanistan they were being praised around the world. They were once the heroes fighting communist Russia. Now, many of the same individuals have become outlaws.
Hamid reflects on why this happened. One issue was that many of these men could not return home to their own countries, because their governments often would not let them. Others simply wanted to continue the fight.
“Very few people intended to stay in Afghanistan,” Hamid says.
“Of course, some wanted to go to other fronts too, but many people wanted to go home and could not. I think if countries had behaved normally with us in 1991 and 1992, 9/11 would never have happened.”
A key driving force among militants, during the anti-Soviet war and also today, is young people. The “youth”, as Hamid calls them, were hungry for battle, with different ambitions, and the fear of losing their loyalty forced bin Laden’s hand.
To some extent, bin Laden had lost prestige among Arab Afghan groups by the late 1980s. Numerous other militant training camps cropped up. When bin Laden was forced to return from Sudan, he found difficulty establishing himself as head of the Arab Afghans. Among the young people who were eager to fight, many were attracted to the so-called Jalalabad School, or the school of the youth, which offered an opportunity to inflict more violence.
In Hamid’s telling, bin Laden eventually agreed to finance plots developed by these militants, which resulted in September 11. “In fact, today it is the strongest of all the schools, and the one that appeals most to the youth because of its focus on action without attention to consequences – despite the fact it has brought nothing but disaster,” he says.
The methods of extremists such as ISIL appear to have origins in the thinking practised at the Jalalabad School.
“Now the youths are fighting everywhere in different ways. It truly is a case of anything goes. While this had existed before Al Qaeda was finished, now there is nothing left to challenge it.”
In laying out the details of this history, Hamid and Farrall have embarked on an important task. The two seem unfinished, however.
Though they’ve gone over the complex details of past history, the impact of which can be seen today in Syria and Iraq, there are further discussions to be published, on Hamid’s time in Iran, for example.
And still more reflections on how ISIL’s extreme form of violence has taken hold. The reader with any interest in the Middle East and militancy is left wanting more.

Pakistan - Church Vandalized, 5 Including Pastor Beaten by Armed Assailants in Chakwal


Armed assailants have struck again. This time they vandalized a church and beat six people including a pastor. This is the second time that such an incident has happened in the last few days.
The incident happened in Chakwal City on Tuesday when a group of armed men attacked the church after being instigated by a local cleric. Javed Masih an eye witness reports that two people had been arrested in this regard and were released after being taken to the police station.
Pastor Suhail Masih and five other people were present in the church when it was vandalized. The attackers beat them all and managed to escape before police arrived. Those who sustained injuries were rushed to hospitals and are said to be out of danger.
Tariq Bhatti an influential person of the area had accused Pastor Suhail Masih and his fellows of preaching Christianity to Muslim residents of the area. “He accused us of trying to convert Muslim youth into Christians,” said Pastor Suhail.
The Christian Community of Chakwal held a demonstration in the area demanding the arrest of culprits and for the registration of the FIR. Locals have appealed to the government to heighten the security of churches and to punish those behind the repeated attempts to harm Christians in Pakistan.
This attack comes days after Humayun Masih was charged for blasphemy in Lahore where a charged mob attempted to burn a church and vandalized homes.
- See more at: http://www.christiansinpakistan.com/church-vandalized-5-including-pastor-beaten-by-armed-assailants-in-chakwal/#sthash.e2RBNYmh.dpuf

Pakistan - Analysis Of Education In Balochistan





Aimal Salang
As a Japanese scholar said; “If you want to keep a nation into the darkness of ignorance, then snatch the right of education from that nation.”
It will be foolish to talk about education without defining it, which is unclear in Balochistan and people remain confused without knowing the purpose of education. Alongside, a serious question needs to be answered that what are the factors responsible for destroying the society?
It is an easy task to define education; I would like to propose that education is nothing but the name of some skills which are essential to learn to deal with Real-life situations.
For instance, it is a moral value to speak the truth and to teach a child to speak the truth refers to educating him.
On the contrary, in our age remembering facts, having reasonable understanding of some theories proposed by eminent scholars and above all how smartly we tell a lie are the standards for someone to be an educated Icon. How pathetic and shameful is this? Although some text books contain sufficient material which favors the truth yet in practical life those who have read those books tell the lie more efficiently and sophisticatedly than rest of the community. We definitely need to understand and spread what is education.
Historically speaking, Education plays a very important role in the history of nations; it transforms primary values of a society from one generation to other so that the development of civilization may continue. It tends to make students able to deal with real life situations so that they may play their due part in the development of their communities and county. But in our country, unfortunately, books are taught to score excellent grades and to achieve a gold medal so that it may be remembered that someone topped at college or university level with distinction.”
Besides, there is a severe shortage of secondary school teachers and science lecturers. Most schools and colleges lack libraries and laboratory equipment etc.
Ironically, Most of the teachers are selected on the basis of political patronage and Hush Money. Such teachers are more dangerous than the known enemy. They do not educate students rather zombies who become mentally ill and slaves. At same time, most of teachers do not bother to go to schools, as I remembered by asking one friend about his posting, and got the amazing reply that “I do not know” but he was getting salary.
Now the question is what is the solution? Frankly speaking, we need a few genuine educators who will teach us the lessons of honesty. We must raise voice to kick out all fake scholars from our educational institutions which is the prime responsibility of Government.

Pakistan - NAP going nowhere

A REVIEW by the country’s political and military leadership of the progress made under the National Action Plan has resulted in an unsurprising though troubling admission: in key areas of NAP, the government has accepted that implementation has been far from satisfactory. Consider the areas in which implementation was found particularly unsatisfactory: foreign funding of seminaries and terrorist groups; proscribed organisations and sectarian groups; hate speech; and madressah reforms. Taken together, those areas amount to the very foundations of the terrorist and extremist complex. If funding, indoctrination and organisational capacity are left untouched and the focus is on finding, capturing and eliminating terrorism, it can be reasonably assumed that a new, smarter, more sophisticated generation of terrorists will emerge, a generation that will have adapted in order to survive and thrive. So the failures identified in the implementation of NAP at the high-level meeting nearly amount to a failure of NAP itself. There is much left to be done clearly.
However, even with the relative successes that were identified — the military-led Operation Zarb-i-Azb in North Waziristan Agency and so-called intelligence-based operations against militants in the cities — there is a question mark over how those assessments have been reached. To be sure, some parts of North Waziristan have been cleared of militants — but is there a strategy to consolidate those gains? If there is, it has not been apparent in the other agencies where large-scale operations have been conducted. And while the number of terror attacks in the cities are down, the Safoora Goth carnage in Karachi has demonstrated the capacity of the terror network to continue to launch devastating strikes. Furthermore, there is the old and seemingly intractable problem of the civil-military imbalance. Can the army leadership realistically cajole the government into taking its NAP responsibilities more seriously when in the big decisions — launching Operation Zarb-i-Azb, sanctioning military courts and lifting the moratorium on the execution of terrorists to name a few — there is a perception that the civilian government has been dictated to by the military leadership?
Of course, none of the above absolves the federal and provincial governments of the display of desultory behaviour when it comes to doing their job of helping keep the country secure. Sometimes, the disregard has verged on the perplexing. Consider that Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan, the linchpin of NAP on the civilian side, had allegedly not been on talking terms with his boss, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, until a meeting this week. How, even seasoned observers of politics here have wondered, was that an acceptable state of affairs, especially post-December and the Peshawar school attack? Sadly, the prime minister appears to have allowed flagrant indiscipline to go unpunished. Where also were the provincial chief ministers in Wednesday’s meeting? Can NAP really be effectively implemented without having the provinces on board? 

Pakistan - Punjab Govt's Arbitrary style

The Punjab government signed an agreement with Chinese investors for the Lahore Orange Line Metro Train project during the recent Chinese president’s visit. Its estimated cost is over $ 165 billion. The Planning Commission has raised serious objections over the hurried manner in which the agreement was signed without following the proper rules and procedure. Projects of over Rs 300 million must be vetted and approved by the Planning Commission, which in this case has merely been used as a rubber stamp. This pattern of project approval is not new to the Punjab government. The signal-free corridor on Jail Road/Main Gulberg, and the Canal Road project that threatened to destroy the green belt in Lahore, and even the Metro Bus projects are cases in point. These projects are worth billions of dollars and obviously have a serious impact on the province and the country’s straitened finances. All the more reason then for institutions like the Planning Commission to be allowed as per the rules to vet such endeavours on the touchstone of feasibility and priority. Adding to reservations regarding this approach to development, the $ 1.63 billion loan for the Orange Line project carries an exorbitant interest rate of 45 percent. This has raised additional concerns regarding its cost and feasibility, and it is not enough for the Punjab government to shrug off these concerns by arguing that it will be repaying the loan from its own resources and therefore Planning Commission approval is only a formality.

The Planning Commission cannot be ignored, kept in the dark or not allowed time and the requisite documents to examine the project thoroughly. Whether the project is part of the Federal Public Sector plan or not, its details need to be made transparently clear with all documents in accordance with the rules of procedure. No provincial government can be allowed to arbitrarily ignore state institutions set up for the purpose such as the Planning Commission before embarking on major projects without even a nod in the direction of the rules of business. China may be our generous friend, but this project not having gone through the necessary international tendering process could become the subject of a legal challenge down the road. It seems the Punjab government has failed to learn anything from the Lahore signal-free corridor debacle and is still wedded to its arbitrary style of work in violation of the state’s rules, procedures and laws. 

Pakistan - Buildings of 384 schools have been declared dangerous in Rawalpindi


Buildings of 384 schools have been declared dangerous in Rawalpindi, sources said.

As many as 150 classrooms of the primary, elementary girls’ high schools have already been declared dangerous.
The Punjab government while taking notice of the alarming situation has issued orders for working out data of dangerous buildings and classrooms of the schools in Rawalpindi.
As per educational sources, 631 government girls’ primary schools and 193 middle girls’ schools are operating in Rawalpindi district. 150 classrooms are stated to be in dangerous and dilapidated condition and have been declared dangerous since several years. These schools include Ziaul Aloom, Government Islamia Higher Secondary School, Pehlvi school, Shaukat Girls school and two primary schools of Murree.
Sources said that the Punjab chief minister has taken notice of the matter and issued directives to constitute committees comprising members of provincial assembly, district coordination officer (DCO) and Education executive district officer (EDO) to work out lists of these schools and forward them to the government of Punjab. 

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/islamabad/28-May-2015/384-schools-buildings-in-rawalpindi-declared-dangerous

In Pakistan, well-to-do and willing to terrorize

By Nadeem Farooq Paracha
Recent terrorist acts by educated men are reshaping the debate on terrorism in Pakistan. The notion that religious militants emerge from economic hardship or poor education has been debunked, writes Nadeem F. Paracha.
In February 2002 the Pakistani police arrested Omar Saeed Sheikh, a British-Pakistani accused of facilitating the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
Pearl was kidnapped in Pakistan's sprawling and chaotic metropolis Karachi by militants allegedly associated with al Qaeda. After being taken to a hideout in Afghanistan, he was slain.
A few eyebrows were raised when details of Sheikh's background began to trickle in. He wasn't your 'regular' religious militant. He was highly educated, middle-class and had lived a relatively comfortable life in England and Pakistan.
Most Pakistanis didn't know exactly what to make of such a revelation. The reign of terror unleashed by various militant groups across Pakistan was still in the immediate future.
From 2005 onwards the country eventually did spiral down into a vicious vortex of violence perpetrated by various extremist groups, who had by then started to aim at a wide range of targets - from western embassies, to local government and state officials, all the way to members of certain Muslim sects and subsects that they deemed "heretical."
The popular perception about an extremist or a suicide bomber at the time was of a desperate young man, driven towards terrorism due to harsh economic conditions, illiteracy and "imperialistic" policies of the US and its "stooges" in the Pakistani government.
Interestingly, this perception was not only popularized and endorsed by the more mainstream political outfits on the right and the center-right, but even by some on the left - especially those inspired by the likes of Noam Chomsky, Tariq Ali and other such bastions of the "new left" of yore.
Not that this perception does not hold any truth. It's only the half of it. But to most Pakistanis, Omar Sheikh was a British citizen. As a terrorist, he was seen as a freak anomaly.
So was Faisal Shahzad, the young, middle-class Pakistani-American who unsuccessfully tried to blow up New York's famous Times Square in 2010.
'Western problems'
In Pakistan, two views emerged when the Shahzad case became public. One was that Western governments were failing to fully integrate Muslim citizens and were actually alienating them through "discriminatory policies."
The other view was that many Western countries had carelessly allowed a number of Muslim evangelical groups to enter and freely preach a more intransigent, politically-charged and myopic strand of the Muslim faith - especially to young Muslims in the west who were coming of age after the tragic 9/11 episode and after American adventurism in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq.
In other words, violent Pakistani men holding citizenships of western countries were seen as products not of Pakistan, but of the West. It was a "Western problem."
However, amidst this debate, there remained voices who kept warning that even though men like Sheikh and Shahzad may have been products of assorted Western follies (or of 'multiculturalism' gone wrong), the extremist thought and mind-set emerging from within Pakistan was not solely emanating from radical madrassas (religious seminaries).
Intellectuals like Professor Parvez Hoodbhoy, A. H. Nayyar and Rubina Saigiol (and the celebrated late historian K.K. Aziz in the 1990s), began providing detailed studies and research on the books that are being taught in Pakistani madrassas and those being used in the country's mainstream schools as well.
Their analysis and conclusions suggested that though most madrassas are largely indoctrination centers, Pakistan's school and college text books (ever since the late 1970s) too have increasingly been stuffed with jaundiced ideas and half-truths.
They explained that the content of these text books subtly but surely encourages an extremely negative interpretation (in young minds) of other faiths and cultures; and even a persecution complex about how various hostile forces within and outside are hell-bent on undermining the role of religion in Pakistan and (thus) breaking the country!
Findings of these intellectuals had come under vigorous criticism from Pakistan's religious parties.
But this swiftly changed this May when gunmen killed over 40 members of a Shiite Muslim subsect as well as a human rights and cultural personality and attacked an American principle of a local medical college (who, though, survived).
These attacks shocked an already edgy nation, especially due to the fact that these killings took place during the military's unprecedented push against religious militancy.
But the bigger shock came when the police managed to apprehend the culprits. A majority of them belonged to middle-class families and were educated in well-known colleges and universities.
One of them had actually graduated from a prestigious business college in Karachi. He was considered by friends to be "normal" and was the owner of a trendy restaurant.
Suddenly, the old narrative about financially disadvantaged and illiterate men falling prey to the thorny charms of ideologically driven violence fell apart, and the demonized narrative about graduates of non-religious educational institutions too being equally vulnerable to the allures of religiously charged violence has come roaring in.
Yet this aspect of the debate is still too new in Pakistan. But rest assured, as things are at the moment - considering the impact of the government's and the military's vigorous crackdown against militancy - it is likely that the new narrative will be propelled into the mainstream scheme of things like never before.

Enemy Number One for Minorities in Pakistan: Public Opinion









BY USMAN AHMAD



    In a hostile world, Pakistani minorities face many threats; each new atrocity brings with it reams of analysis and no shortage of finger-pointing toward the perceived culprits. But general public opinion might be just as much to blame as terrorism.
    Earlier this year, on the same day that small pockets of Pakistani society came together to commemorate the birthday of Professor Abdus Salam, Human Rights Watch released its annual World Report, which found that attacks against minority communities rose significantly in the country through 2014. The timing was laced with irony; Salam, Pakistan’s first Nobel laureate, has long been shunned by the people of his nation because he was an Ahmadi — a sect long ostracized and persecuted for its perceived heretical beliefs — standing thereby as perhaps the most symbolic icon of the struggles faced by minorities in Pakistan.
    The cycle of violence has only escalated in 2015 in the form of a wave of brutal terrorist attacks, including an assault on two Christian churches in Lahore’s Youhanabad area, the targeted killing of an Ahmadi youth worker in Karachi, and the slaying of 61 Shiite worshippers in a suicide blast on a mosque in Shikarpur, in Sindh province’s interior. The latter marked theworst instance of sectarian violence against Shiites in almost two years and occurred in a part of the country that has remained largely outside the cross-hairs of Pakistan’s recent bloody history.
    With no signs of the strife abating, the most recent harrowing episode in this long litany of massacres was the May 13 gun attack on a bus carrying a group of Ismailis, a highly regarded and peaceful Shiite community. The attackers, reportedly dressed as policemen, surrounded the bus on motorbikes when it stopped at Safoora Chowk during a daily commute. Several of the gunmen climbed onto the bus, where they shot passengers at point-blank range in the head and chest, killing at least 43 people.
    In a hostile world, ever ready to devour them whole, Pakistani minorities face myriad threats; each new atrocity brings with it reams of analysis and no shortage of finger-pointing toward the perceived culprits.
    Pakistan’s sectarianism problem is mostly viewed as a top-down phenomenon — orchestrated by the state and armed forces to advance their own vested interests, both domestic and foreign. Invariably then, they are often the first target of blame. For example, two days after the Safoora massacre, an editorial in the respected English-language newspaper Dawnlamented:
    “After each new, grotesque low in the militants’ war on Pakistan, the state responds in the same manner. Emergency meetings, long huddles, promises to double down on the existing militarised security strategy — and some vague promises about doing something about the peddlers of hate. Then, unsurprisingly, as the media gaze turns to the next scandal or atrocity and the memory of the previous attack recedes, nothing of substance is done to crack down on extremism.”
    Then there are the terrorists themselves. Faceless networks of jihadis, some supported by the machinery of the state, others with more shadowy backing from foreign powers, all bent on pursuing a clearly defined agenda of religious violence. When news first spread that the Islamic State had claimed responsibility for the most recent sectarian strife in what would have been its first attack on Pakistani soil, analysts were quick to pounce on the development. They hailed the Islamic State as a new enemy that stood against the peace and security of the country as though it represented something of a game-changer as opposed to just the entry of another actor in a revolving cast of murky villains.
    The list of offenders does not end here, but extends far and wide to encompass the media, police, and, for the more conspiratorially minded, foreign powers like India and the United States. But beyond the usual suspects, there is another perilously ignored dynamic at work with regard to the plight of minorities in Pakistan — that being the weight of public opinion. The sad truth is that contempt toward non-Muslims is now the default attitude of significant numbers of Pakistanis, who, while not always condoning murder and violence, fully endorse the basic doctrinal core that fuels the hatred against non-Muslims.
    The evolving narrative framework around the country’s 38 million or so Shiites is a potent indicator of this trend.
    Many of the leaders of the Muslim League and the independence movement were Shiites, including Muhammad Ali Jinnah himself. Yet, after years of Salafi-sponsored Islamization, most notably during the era of Gen. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the terra firma is so changed that according to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2012, 41 percent of regular Pakistanis do not even believe that Shiites are true Muslims. This is a remarkable statistic given the reverence in which the founder of the nation is held. Further, militant groups like Jundallah, the organization that claimed responsibility for the Shikarpur attack, has recognized this shift in attitudes and justify its attacks before the public gallery on the grounds that Shiites are the enemies of Islam. The prevalence of anti-Shiite sentiment has also acted as a spur for religious and political groups to demand that they, like Ahmadis before them, also be recognized by the state as non-Muslim.
    Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, and other faith groups that have no link at all with Islam also suffer from negative perceptions, resulting in their increased marginalization from the public sphere. Pakistan’s blasphemy laws in particular have imperiled their civic and civil lives. In the minds of many, they are blasphemers simply because they are not Muslim; their very existence is an affront to Islam and thereby to Pakistan as well. In the case of Christians, the majority of violent attacks against them are conducted not by terrorist groups, but by civilian vigilantes, mainly after accusations of blasphemy or of being agents of a foreign power. In January, a Christian school in Bannu was stormed by a mob of almost 300 people in protest of the decision by French magazine Charlie Hebdo to publish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. Christians, it was reckoned, were guilty by association with these Western infidels and so had to be punished. Other mob attacks, like those in Joseph Colony and Gojra, have proved far more fatal and have been carried out not by pathological sadists, but by everyday Pakistanis who seamlessly return to their regular lives once the carnage is over.
    Even sympathetic Pakistanis are active partners in this unholy alliance. Though they may not share the intolerant attitudes of many of their countrymen, each Muslim passport or ID card is a disquieting indictment of those who exist outside the Sunni majority because it requires the signing of a declaration against the country’s Ahmadis. Acceptance of this official proclamation represents a complicity of indifference and lack of moral courage.
    The counter to this argument is that discrimination against minorities is so pervasive and institutionalized that public attitudes are merely a symptom of a broader manufactured hate campaign against non-Muslim by the country’s chief power brokers. Though there is more than just a grain of truth to this, it ignores the core truth that whatever the reasons for its emergence, societal discrimination is now a well grounded reality and one that needs to be tackled. Moreover, such lines of argument too readily vindicate Pakistani society as some sort of tragically impotent and oppressed people, ideologically bludgeoned by the trampling heel of a greater power. In truth, the general populace can no more easily be exonerated than those ordinary citizens who in various ways complied with the Nazis during the Holocaust or the Apartheid regime of South Africa.
    Pakistan’s sectarian schisms are born of many culprits. While it is true that the authorities need to do more not only to counter militants but also to initiate an ideological reorientation in the country, it is also important to recognize that domestically, there is no great public pressure for them to do so, for the crimes committed against minorities often represent the will of the people. Only when such attitudes change can the movement against sectarian divisions gain impetus.

    Wednesday, May 27, 2015

    #ThankYouZABhutto - Jeay Jeay Bhutto

    Z A Bhutto's Footprints on Nuclear Pakistan

    By Farhatullah Babar






    Bhutto was the real architect of Pakistan's nuclear program. In this respect his role may be likened to that of Nehru in India. Idealist Nehru was driven by a dream; to wipe off centuries of past humiliation and had grasped the significance of atomic energy for this purpose. Soon after independence he set up the Indian Atomic Energy Commission, placed it under his charge and presided over its first meeting that was convened within a week of independence.

    Bhutto also had a dream and understood the role of atomic energy but could translate his dream into reality only after 1970 when he had acquired real political power.

    But even before that and as Minister of Minerals and Natural Resources, Bhutto laid the foundation stone of PINSTECH in Islamabad in 1963. The plaque was removed during his political winter after 1967. Much later it was recovered from junk in the basement of the building and reinstalled in 1985, as it was impossible to erase his memory.

    As a minister Bhutto also tried to persuade President General Ayub Khan to acquire advanced nuclear technologies. In December 1965 Ayub was on an official visit to the UK. Bhutto planned a meeting of some nuclear experts with him and persuaded Ayub Khan to meet late Munir Ahmed Khan former Chairman of the PAEC who at the time was working in the IAEA.
    Late Munir Khan had recalled that when he was told that these technologies could eventually place in the hands of Pakistan a nuclear option, the General simply smiled and said that if needed, Pakistan could get it from China.
    Munir Khan had also recalled that Bhutto was pacing up and down in the lobby waiting as he was meeting Ayub. When Munir came out Bhutto asked him what had happened. "The President did not agree" Munir told him. "Do not worry -- our turn will come", Bhutto had said, according to Munir Khan.

    Bhutto has been associated with the nuclear programme from 1958 as minister to 1979 when he was sent to the gallows.

    "When I took charge of Pakistan's Atomic Energy Commission, it was no more than a sign board of an office. It was only in name. Assiduously and with granite determination, I put my entire vitality behind the task of acquiring nuclear capability for my country", recalls Bhutto in his book If I am Assassinated.

    Bhutto commissioned Edward Stone for designing PINSTECH the foundation stone of which was also laid by him. He negotiated the agreement for the 5-WM research reactor at PINSTECH. Bhutto himself has recalled that in the face of stiff opposition from Finance Minister Shoaib and the Deputy Chairman Planning Commission he negotiated with success the 137 MM KANUPP plant from Canada and performed its opening ceremony on November 28, 1972. In 1976 he approved the setting up of the Chashma nuclear power plant and also negotiated and concluded the nuclear reprocessing plant agreement with France.

    Bhutto approved the construction of a research laboratory for uranium enrichment near Chaklala airport. And when the PAEC selected the Kahuta site for the uranium enrichment plant in early 1976, Bhutto promptly approved it and ordered immediate construction of civil works.

    In August 1976, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger met Bhutto at Governor House Lahore to dissuade him from the reprocessing plant deal with France. Kissinger said that it was offensive to US intelligence when Bhutto insisted that Pakistan needed the reprocessing plant for its energy needs; but Bhutto demanded that the US should also not insist that Pakistan give up the reprocessing plant.

    After Bhutto's ouster, no one heard of the reprocessing plant until General Zia disclosed in a press conference in Rawalpindi on August 23,1978 that he had received a "very polite" letter from the French President suggesting modification in the reprocessing plant contract. As a matter of fact, France had refused to follow with the military government the agreement it had concluded with a constitutional, civilian government.

    Bhutto pursued the nuclear program even from jail. An indelibly larger than life footprint of his is the letter addressed by him from the death cell to the French President. The letter was released by the French President's office after Bhutto's execution. While in jail he also sent several messages to late Munir Khan enquiring about how various projects were progressing.

    Late Munir Khan confided to the present writer who was then working in the PAEC some of these messages. In one such message Bhutto suggested that the reprocessing plant be completed through indigenous efforts even if the French refused. He expressed his determination to step up the project once he came out of jail. I hope Thera Khan, Munir Khan's caring and assiduous wife, has preserved the private letters.

    After India's nuclear explosion, Germany reneged on its contract for a heavy water plant and Canada stopped supply of fuel heavy water and spare parts for KANUPP. Bhutto asked the commission to continue with its program through indigenous efforts and instructed the finance ministry to make available all monies asked for. He abolished the inter-ministerial committee dealing with atomic energy and took direct charge of the program.

    In his book The Myth of Independence, he said in 1969 "If Pakistan restricts or suspends her nuclear program, it would not only enable India to blackmail Pakistan with her nuclear advantage, but would impose a crippling limitation on the development of Pakistan's science and technology… our problem in its essence, is how to obtain such a weapon in time before the crisis begins." No one individual in Pakistan has left such huge footprints on the country's nuclear program as Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. But as one watches the foot prints with awe there is a nagging question: does the shame of the nuclear black-market that our unrepresentative rulers have presided over, lie at the root of denying Pakistan strategic nuclear parity in the region, and thereby turning sour Bhutto's dream?
    http://sixhour.com/bhutto_footprints_on%20nuclear_pakistan.htm

    #ThankYouZABhutto - Kitne Maqbool Hain Bhutto

    #ThankYouZABhutto - Kal Bhi Bhutto Zinda Tha

    #ThankYouZABhutto - Dila Teer Bija

    #ThankYouZABhutto - Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto–founder of Pakistan’s nuclear program

    #ThankYouZABhutto - ZAB Adress To Nation After Indian Nuclear Tests

    Video - Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's nuclrear policy statement

    Afghanistan’s first lady breaks taboos



    Afghanistan’s first lady has broken numerous conventions in a society that traditionally sequesters women behind closed doors — speaking out on issues such as violence against women, the rule of law and the power of
    religion. But perhaps Rula Ghani’s biggest taboo breaker is simply being the country’s first presidential spouse in decades to be seen and heard in public.
    When her husband, President Ashraf Ghani, took the helm of the nation eight months ago, he did something unprecedented — he introduced his wife in his inaugural speech.
    From that moment on, Rula Ghani has done what first ladies often do in democracies, attending public events alongside her husband and speaking before audiences on current issues. But her words have always been soft-spoken, measured and delivered away from the center stage of the Afghan political scene.
    “I don’t do politics,” she said. What she does do, she says, is listen.
    Since September, hundreds of people have streamed through her cool, wood-paneled meeting room to share their problems and seek the first lady’s advice. She says she sees herself as “a counselor ... a listening post” — someone fulfilling a need for a feminine presence close to the heart of the Afghan government.
    The last time Afghanistan had a first lady with such a public profile was almost a century ago, but few today remember Queen Soraya, who was forced into exile in 1929 after King Amanullah abdicated. Soraya’s modern approach to women’s issues and her refusal to wear a veil shocked many Afghans, and history texts hold her partly to blame for the demise of the monarchy.
    Zinat Quraishi Karzai, the wife of President Ghani’s predecessor, Hamid Karzai, was called the “invisible first lady” and in one of her rare interviews, she said Afghanistan wasn’t ready to see a first lady at her husband’s side.
    Rula Ghani begs to differ and insists that Afghanistan is going through profound change. “I seem to have answered a need that was there. I think previous first ladies were not accessible,” she says. “And I am accessible.”
    She is Afghan, as well as American and also Lebanese by birth — a heritage that has given her fluency in English, French, Arabic and Dari.
    Born in 1948, she was brought up in a Christian family and met her future husband at the university in Beirut. After they were married, the couple moved to the United States, where they lived for 30 years. She studied journalism at Colombia Universityand had two children — daughter Mariam, who is an artist in Brooklyn, and son Tarek, an economist who also lives in the U.S.
    The Ghanis returned to Kabul 12 years ago.

    The Narco-Republic of Afghanistan





     


    Every country on the globe would like to distinguish itself by some description of its societal achievements, natural beauty, education or other attributes. While Afghanistan can stand out with its beautiful landscapes and certain historical events such as defeating the invading USSR, for some time now it has had the dubious distinction of being by far the world's largest producer of opium, the raw material of heroin. The United Nations estimated that last year's opium harvest amounted to about 6400 tons, constituting 90% of the entire world's production, hence the 'Narco-Republic of Afghanistan.' The devastating consequences of this distinction are felt from the country of origin to Europe and even in the sleepy towns of rural America where heroin is more plentiful and cheaper than ever. In Afghanistan the number of "podaries" (users of powder) as they are called colloquially has been on the rise. According to reports by the US Department of State and the Afghan government 11% of Afghans use opium in various forms. This could be one of the highest number of addicts in the world. Teenagers and even children under the age of 10 have been afflicted by the problem. Surprisingly the percentage of Afghans using drugs in the rural areas is higher than that in the large cities. In a country which lacks any kind of social net, education or health care the problem is even more acute. Podaries are shunned by the rest of the society. The Kabul River, which bifurcates the city, runs mostly dry in the summer providing temporary shelter for the users. I have seen many podaries in Kabul taking refuge under the Kabul River bridges waiting to die. 
    The poppy planting season in Afghanistan begins in October and runs until the end of November depending on the region. The opium resin is harvested in late spring to early summer commensurately. So now is the high season of harvest and what kind of a bumper crop this year will yield remains to be seen. Poppy flowers are mesmerizingly beautiful, and decorate the countryside with assorted colors before the harvest season begins. The largest poppy fields are in the Helmand province in southern Afghanistan bordering Kandahar province, another fertile poppy producer. Due to the large scale of operation, the typical poppy farmer does not have enough manpower to harvest the opium. So many people such as school kids and teachers otherwise engaged in other activities pitch in. At times migrant workers from the neighboring provinces are brought in to help in the slow and laborious harvesting process. When the flower is gone and the bulb is ripe, it is time to extract the milky substance within. An incision is made on the bulb's skin similar to the tapping of a maple tree. This takes place in the evening. The thick milky sap (raw opium) begins to flow very slowly, becoming thicker and accumulating on the bulb. The harvester returns early in the next morning and scrapes off the stuff with a blade. They go from one bush to the other collecting the raw opium in tins or similar containers.
    The farmer sells his harvest to a wholesaler and thus the complicated journey begins. There are many layers involved, including the Taliban who collect hefty taxes which is one lucrative way to finance the insurgency. The opium is eventually processed into heroin in labs located in lawless areas of Pakistan's Baluchistan region and elsewhere, then trafficked to the rest of the world.
    Looking back at history, there is no indication that Afghanistan had been a drug exporting country prior to 1978 and the beginning of its descent into chaos. While poppy had been cultivated in the highlands for millennia, it was mostly for local use on a very small scale. Some argue that the current insurgency and instability is the result of the drug proliferation. I argue that the primary cause is insecurity which has resulted from the existence of ineffectual and corrupt Afghan governments since 2002. Many former warlords who perpetuate the culture of impunity have been directly or indirectly part of the government. Many of these warlords are also directly involved in the proliferation of poppy, especially in the southern provinces of Helmand, Kandahar and Nimroz.

    It is possible for Afghanistan to rid itself of the dubious distinction of the world's largest producer of opium. But, for that to happen, there will be a need for fundamental changes in the composition of the government and the marginalization of the war/drug lords who have had much sway. The Taliban banned poppy cultivation in 2000 when they were still in charge of Afghanistan. The yield fell to 180 tons in 2001 from around 3000 tons in the year 2000. If the Taliban could do it, a competent, legitimate central Afghan government could do it too.