Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Blast in Peshawar leaves three dead, six wounded

At least three people were killed and six others injured on Tuesday evening when a loud explosion ripped through a Qingqui Rickshaw in Peshawar – the capital of Pakistan’s militancy-hit Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province bordering Afghanistan. Contradicting with initial reports of a CNG cylinder blast, SHO Badaber Yasin Khan told Dawn.com that explosives were implanted in the Rickshaw to carry out the explosion in Pando Chowk area of the city. He confirmed the death toll and number of injured. “Those killed are Afghan refugees and injured are both Pakistani and Afghan nationals,” he said. “About eight kilos of explosives were used in the blast which was carried out through a remote-controlled device,” said Zahid Khan, an official of Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS). According to eye witnesses, the three-wheel passenger vehicle exploded when its driver switched it on. Injured and dead were taken to Lady Reading Hospital. Pakistan is on the frontlines of the US-led war on al Qaeda. Since July 2007, it has also been gripped by a local Taliban-led insurgency, concentrated largely in the northwest. It says more than 40,000 people have been killed in Pakistan by Taliban and al Qaeda-led militants, who oppose Islamabad's US alliance.

Terrorism must not be allowed to mar the Sochi Games

PRESIDENT VLADIMIR Putin rose to power on the promise of crushing Chechnya’s independence movement with an iron fist. The frightening explosions that destroyed Moscow apartment buildings in 1999, whose authors were never discovered, gave him a mandate: Russians enthusiastically supported his salty oath to “rub out the terrorists in the outhouse.” But as this week’s sickening suicide bombings in Volgograd have shown, Mr. Putin did not succeed. Terrorism remains a serious threat in Russia on the eve of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Few countries have succeeded in eliminating terrorism’s asymmetrical threat, but Mr. Putin’s failure must be attributed in part to his tactics. Making no distinction between Islamic extremists and those seeking greater autonomy for Chechnya and other Caucasian republics, he justified brutal tactics and a vastly expanded security state on the grounds that all rebel Chechens were terrorists. His scorched-earth approach succeeded in devastating Chechnya and destroying what remained of its secular pro-independence movement, but it left behind Islamic extremist groups that have made a point of targeting Russians where it hurts — in a Moscow theater, in an elementary school or on public transportation.
Now, once again, terrorists have struck at Russia’s underbelly. On Sunday and Monday, 31 people died in bombings at a Volgograd train station and on a trolley bus, both targets chosen to strike fear. The symbolism is potent: Stalingrad, as the city was once known, has been an iconic battleground for Russians since the fight there against the Nazis in World War II.
It is not yet clear who carried out the bombings, or why, but they are clearly a challenge for Mr. Putin. The Sochi Olympics, which open in six weeks, are his signature project, designed to show the world that, after so many years of upheaval, Russia has arrived as a modern state capable of hosting a global sports competition. A central part of Mr. Putin’s choice of Sochi, a Black Sea resort city, was to prove that Russia could provide a secure venue near the Caucasian battlefields of the past two decades.
We’ve been critical of Mr. Putin’s retreat from democracy and the anti-gay campaign undertaken by his government in the months leading up to the games. But the terrorists’ attempt to undermine the Olympics with violence is an atrocity that all civilized states must resist. Nations that are preparing to send delegations of athletes to Sochi should not now hesitate. Regardless of Mr. Putin’s preening and autocratic ambitions, those who join the Sochi Games will invest in Russia’s next generation — young people who seek greater freedom, the rule of law and connection to the global grid. This is a worthy project that must not be injured by violence.

Terrorists declare war on Russia. Will Russia respond?

Two terrorist attacks in Volgograd, at the railway station and in the trolleybus, have taken the lives of 32 people and wounded more than 70. Russian law enforcement authorities, and, in fact, the state, had to face a serious challenge. Who is standing behind the bombings and what goals they pursue - there are no doubts about that. But what is the reason of the frightening frequency and the constant character of such attacks? What measures should be taken to root out terrorism in Russia?
Suicide bombers do not explode themselves from excessive emotions or religious fanaticism. This is always a result of a well-planned operation. There are Western intelligence agencies and money from Saudi Arabia and Qatar that stand behind terrorist groups and gangs operating in Russia.
"This is definitely the beginning of a planned action," Yevgeny Lobachev, a retired Major General of the Russian Federal Security Bureau, told Pravda.Ru.
The expert sees two purposes. The bombings were conducted to destabilize the situation in the country before the New Year holidays and prior to the Olympic Games in Sochi.
A number of public and state Western leaders are now calling to boycott the Russian games. Every now and then they keep on reporting that someone else is not coming for the Olympics. These attacks are financed from abroad, most likely from Saudi Arabia, as the two Chechen wars showed. This is foreign influence, foreign control, foreign maintenance," said Evgeny Lobachev. "There is every reason to believe that this is the beginning of a large-scale operation to destabilize Russia. We have a lot of enemies who seek to undermine our credibility, especially in the run-up to the Olympics," Saeed Gafurov, the scientific director of the Institute of Oriental and African Studies said.
He believes that the bombings were an act of revenge to the Russian Federation for Syria and a result of the flabbiness of Russian diplomacy.
"Russia made several mistakes in the Middle East and in the Persian Gulf, where it showed generosity and softness in response to barbaric actions. We shouldn't have, for example, turned a blind eye on the beating of Ambassador Titarenko in Qatar. Officers of Qatari security forces received no punishment. It was a reason for war, and we just swallowed it. Russia said nothing when Saudi Arabia invaded Bahrain either," said the expert. According to him, the Gulf monarchies "understand only fear and it is impossible to negotiate with them."
"They found this behavior as a sign of Russia's weakness and increased the funding for Wahhabi and other radical Islamist underground in Russia." Moreover, the expert said, the funding is conducted through public organizations that may not always be headquartered in Doha or Al Riyadh - some of them can be located in London, for instance." "Now, when it appears that government troops in Syria are winning the war, revenge to our country will only grow," says Gafurov.
These opinions can be supported with the data that transpired in August through Russia Today and several Western and Arab publications about the visit of the chief of military intelligence, Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, to Moscow. Bin Sultan said back then that he guaranteed safety at Winter Olympics in Sochi next year, if Russia made concessions in relation to its position on Syria. "Groups of Chechen fighters, who express different threats to the Olympic Games, are under our control," The Guardian quoted the prince.
Apart from financing and administration from outside, there are internal Russian factors that create fertile grounds for Islamic radicalism and terrorism. "The problem is not only about foreign funding, but also about our internal reasons, Alexey Filatov, retired FSB colonel, veteran of anti-terrorist group Alpha, told Pravda.Ru. It goes about high level of social stratification and corruption, the expert explained. For example, the financing of criminal groups is carried out through taxation of local officials, who obtain their money from the federal budget. In addition, our police are too busy with less important things, like, for example, migration issue," Filatov said. These social causes, in his opinion, are the basis for steady influx of new candidates for suicide bombings, and it is highly difficult for security services to handle the problem. "One should also understand that in the 1990s, Russian security forces lost many professionals. It now takes decades to bring that all back," says Evgeny Lobachev. Political analyst Saeed Gafurov does not share such fatalism. "Terrorists' financial, organizational, human, logistical resources are not limitless. Fatalism, therefore, is inappropriate. We should improve vigilance. If we can not completely exclude terrorist attacks today, then we can make them very expensive. To do this, we must all raise vigilance," he said. The head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, does not share a fatal point of view on the problem either. According to experts, he solved the issue of illegal criminal groups by calling to enact a law that "infinitely increased punishment" for terrorist activities and outlawed all radical movements, parties and groups."
Alexey Filatov believes that Russia should follow the example of the United States.
"We need to do what Americans do. We have to keep tabs on each and every person. This technology that Snowden exposed - prevention and control - has a real effect. Metal detectors are useless. One should be able to follow the enemy, rather than prohibit radical movements. Metal detectors on all exists and entrances do not help, this is a waste of money."
What other measures should the state take? It appears that Russia should strengthen diplomatic activities on the international arena, find leverage over Saudi Arabia and Qatar. One should prove facts, put up the question to discussion at international forums and organize diplomatic scandals. To crown it all, as Lebanese newspaper As-Safir wrote, President Vladimir Putin promised Prince Bandar to strike a "massive military blow" on terrorist training camps. Western analysts concluded that Russia was threatening Saudi Arabia.

Putin warns 'terrorists' will face total destruction

President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday warned "terrorists" they face total destruction, after Russia was hit by double suicide bombings in its southern city of Volgograd that claimed 34 lives. "Dear friends, we bow our heads in front of the victims of the terrible acts of terror. I am sure we will toughly and consistently continue to fight against terrorists until their total destruction", he said. Putin made the comments in a New Year's address from the Far Eastern Russian city of Khabarovsk, which is seven hours ahead of Moscow and where he met with victims of devastating summer floods. "In the current year, we have encountered problems and have been challenged by serious experiences, including ones like the inhuman acts of terror in Volgograd," Putin was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.
Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/2013_12_31/Putin-warns-terrorists-face-total-destruction-3388/

Sokiryanskaya: 'Russia's terror threat is real'

Russia wants to know who is behind the suicide bombings in Volgograd.
Security expert Yekaterina Sokiryanskaya of the International Crisis Group in Moscow says there is only one suspect: the Caucasus Emirate group.
DW: Who in Russia is in a position to organize terrorist acts like we've seen in Volgograd?
Yekaterina Sokiryanskaya:
There are numerous terror groups in Russia, but in the case of Volgograd, I'm completely certain that it's the Caucasus Emirate. Its leader Doku Umarov published a video address at the end of July in which he threatened to sabotage the Olympic Games in Sochi. The suspected suicide bomber was of Russian ethnicity, but he belonged to the Caucasus Emirate. Although Doku Umarov did not claim responsibility for the first terror strike in October, nor for the last two, I'm absolutely certain that these attacks are the realization of his threats.
What's known about this group?
The Caucasus Emirate came into being in 2007 in conjunction with changes in the separatist movement in Chechnya. The UN, Russia, the US and other countries have classed the group as terrorists. At first, it operated in the North Caucasus region. Now there are reports that a cell is also active in Tatarstan. Traditionally, Chechens have been at the head of the Caucasus Emirate, but since 2009, the Republic of Dagestan has become the center of its activities.
The group has a complicated structure. In a few administrative districts, or vilayets, it has its own emir, meaning a leader, as well as a kadi - a judge. The vilayets function largely autonomously even though they pursue common goals. There are sympathizers there. Some people reject armed conflict but don't recognize the Russian authorities. For them, the kadis and Sharia law are the highest authorities.
The Caucasus Emirate finances up to 90 percent of its activities itself. It blackmails regional offices and business people. And everyone pays because the police cannot protect them. Many don't even report the blackmail or the "jihad tax" because it involves illegal earnings. The Caucasus Emirate doesn't depend just on an ideology but also on criminal sources of income.
Are there other terrorist groups that are comparably strong?
No. There are other terror groups, but none of them have as much power as the Caucasus Emirate. But one also has to admit that the security forces are very successful. Each year, part of the group's leadership is eliminated - for example, in the Kabardino-Balkar Republic. But the structure is arranged so that it regenerates itself. When it comes to terrorist threats, I want to mention a new phenomenon in Russia: radicalized lone perpetrators, like the Tsarnaev brothers in the US. They're people waging total jihad who do not belong to any organization. After all, you can build a bomb these days using instructions from the Internet. It doesn't take any bigger operation in terms of money or an organization to carry out a terrorist act. It just takes a suicide murderer to get on a bus.
How many potential terrorists are thought to be residing in Russia?
No one knows for sure. In the entire North Caucasus, estimates range from 1,000 to 1,500 people. But these days, terrorists don't need big armies. They would have to be housed illegally and fed - those would be additional costs. The groups have a lot of interest from recruits, but not everyone is taken on. But even a small number of people can represent a serious threat. If you include those supporting the direct accomplices, then it's around 2,000 to 3,000 people, but no more.
What role does radical Islam play?
There's no doubt that a radical interpretation of Islam is playing a key role, particularly Salafism. These people consider themselves as part of the global jihad. There are also fighters from Russia in Syria - where people estimate there are 1,500 to 2,000 jihadists from the North Caucasus. However, not all Muslims are radicalized. In Dagestan, there are a great many Salafists, but most reject terrorist methods. An attempt was made in 2011 and 2012 to integrate these people. As of January 1, 2013, though, the republic has a new government that is taking ruthless and drastic action. Salafism is being pushed toward illegality. In the last few months, 30 to 40 people were arrested daily. People are indiscriminately singling out bearded men, women with headscarves. Moderate leaders are moving abroad, while radicals take their places. I was in Dagestan not too long ago and saw how young people are being radicalized by violence perpetrated by local authorities.
It's easy to assume these terror acts are also going to target the Olympic Games in Sochi. There will be immense security measures in place.
What's your view on that?
The danger of terrorism is real. And the incredible efforts being undertaken in Sochi and other Russian cities cannot guarantee that nothing will happen during the Games. You see how little it takes to commit an act of terrorism. Nevertheless, I hope that it's possible to maintain security during the games.
Yekaterina Sokiryanskaya heads the International Crisis Group's Russia chapter.

Russia: Volgograd Suicide Bomb Came Two Months After Saudi Terror Threats

Following Monday´s Suicide Bombing in Volgograd, Four Months before the Start of the Winter Olympics, and Threats by Saudi Arabia´s Intelligence Chief, Prince Bandar, Russia´s President, Vladimir Putin appealed for Help from Russian Clerics, saying that Radical Islam, managed from Abroad, is used to destabilize Russia.
On Monday a female suicide bomber from the Northern Caucasus region of Russia, killed six and injured scores, when she detonated explosives in a bus in the city of Volgograd. The suicide bombing created widespread fear of using public transport.
During a visit to the predominantly Muslim Bashkortostan region of Russia, Putin stressed the Russian government´s concerns over ethnic or religious tensions which could threaten the unity of the Russian Federation. The suicide attack in Volgograd struck only four and a half months before the opening of the 22nd Olympic Winter Games in Sochi on 7 February 2014. Putin said: “Some political forces use Islam, the radical currents within it … to weaken our state and create conflicts on Russian soil that can be managed from abroad … Tensions between the West and the Islamic world are rising today, and someone is trying to gamble on that by pouring fuel on the fire.”
Putin did not explicitly mention any country but the Russian President has previously accused the USA and Saudi Arabia for using state-sponsored terrorism, among others, in Syria.
It is noteworthy that the suicide bombing in Volgograd was carried out less than two months after the Saudi Intelligence Chief made a thinly veiled terror threat against Russia during a meeting with Putin in Moscow. A special report, published in nsnbc international, that places the direct political and command responsibility for the chemical weapons attack in East Ghouta on 21 August with Top-Officials in the White House, the Pentagon, the CIA and the Saudi Interior Ministry states: On 2 August Prince Bandar met Russia´s President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin. Putin and Bandar spoke, among others, about the chemical weapons attack in Eastern Ghouta and the future of Syria´s President, Bashar al-Assad. Bandar tried to bribe Putin with weapons and oil deals in order to gain the Russian President´s support for ousting the Assad government. Bandar supposed that the Syrian government should be replaced with the Saudi-backed and sponsored opposition. Bandar guaranteed that Russia´s interests in Syria would be preserved by this Saudi-backed government if Russia supported the regime change. While Bandar attempted to gain Putin as a potential ally for regime change in Syria, he also delivered a thinly veiled threat, saying among others:
“I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us, and they will not move in the direction of the Syrian territory without coordinating with us. These groups don´t scare us. We use them in the face of the Syrian regime but they will have no role or influence in Syria´s political future”.
Putin rejected the Saudi “bribe and threat” attempt, saying that Russia was aware of that Saudi Arabia had financed Chechen terrorists for the last ten years. It was Putin´s rejection that prompted Banda´s thinly veiled threat against the 22nd Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. U.S. President Obama and Putin should have discussed Syria and the threat of the spread of international terrorism to the Caucasus at the sidelines of the APEC meeting in Bali, Indonesia, on 7 October. Obama cancelled the meeting, citing domestic financial problems as the reason for the cancellation. On 5 October, after Obama´s cancellation was announced, nsnbc international published an article on the subject, stating:
The Russian Foreign Ministry stressed, that these groups are prepared to continue murdering and destroying, not only in Syria but also in other countries, to establish a global caliphate. The Foreign Ministry emphasized that these groups will stop at nothing to achieve their goals.
The Russian Foreign Ministry stressed, that Russia had warned of just such a scenario resulting from the developments in Syria. The Ministry noted, that extremist terrorist and jihadist groups within the armed opposition control the majority of the support that is provided to the militants, including weapons. The Ministry stressed, that this accentuates the importance of the content of the closing statement of the G8 Summit, particularly regarding calling on the Syrian government and the opposition to work to expel terrorists or eliminate them. Analysts assessed, that between 50 and 80 percent of the armed insurgents in Syria come from foreign countries and that between 75 and 80 percent are tied to jihadist groups. The article also quotes the Chief of the Russian Drug Control Agency on the issue: The Chief of the Russian Federal Drug Control Service, Victor Ivanov, has warned that insurgents from Syria could begin infiltrating the Caucasus region. On Friday, Ivanov said:
“Aside from the obvious process of rapid destabilization of the entire region, it is necessary to carefully analyze the vector of expected redeployment of foreign mercenaries from Syria overhanging the Caucasus, which is only 600 kilometers away. … Our experts are predicting that foreign mercenaries in Syria, who have been structured into paramilitary groups competing with each other, will be out of the running in the near future and will swarm toward the Caucasus”.
Although it has been widely known but consequently omitted in western mainstream media, Saudi Arabia is one of the main state-sponsors of radical Islamist terrorist organizations and mercenary corps.
Regardless whether there can or cannot be established a direct causative link between Saudi state-sponsorship of and command control over Islamist militants in Russia and the suicide bomb in Volgograd, the terrorist attack, coming after thinly veiled Saudi threats and only four months before the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics underline the importance of countering so-called Al-Qaeda terrorism in the Caucasus; be it with or without the help of “Russia´s Western Partners”.

Video: Fireworks as New Zealand celebrates arrival of 2014

Video: Australia welcomes 2014 with spectacular Sydney fireworks display

An estimated 1.5 million people lined Sydney harbor for Australia's annual firework spectacular which organizers believe will be watched by up to a billion people worldwide

Happy New Year: Seeing and now smelling fireworks

Londoners will see in 2014 the world's first multisensory firework display. CNN's Isa Soares reports.

Australia: Celebration nation rockets into the new year 2014

ACROSS Australia the new year rituals were duly observed tonight, as revellers gathered to greet 2014 in style.
Sydney's dazzling harbour shone under the glow of more than seven tonnes of pyrotechnics at a cost of $6 million. More than 1.6 million partygoers positioned themselves at vantage points around the iconic Harbour Bridge at the centre of the country's biggest fireworks display.
Meanwhile, the nation's other capital cities were also enjoying magnificent light shows, with crowds streaming into central Melbourne for a 10-minute display that was to be blasted from 22 locations at midnight.
The streets of Sydney were shut off for its three New Year's Eve fireworks shows, themed Shine, at 9pm, 10.30pm and midnight. From dawn, eager spectators began filing into the harbour foreshore carrying everything from rugs and chairs to fishing rods and kettles as they vied to snatch the best view.
Access to the Opera House and Blues Point Reserve was shut off from 12.30pm as crowds reached capacity. As temperatures neared 27 degrees at the Botanic Gardens, those couldn't get access to shade stripped down to their swimwear. Ross Jollie, from the UK, said he was looking forward to seeing the show firsthand, having spent a lifetime viewing it on television.
"They are the first fireworks you see on TV, so definitely it is the place to be," he said.
At 10.30pm, a one-minute cracker show based on an absurdist self-portrait by the night's artistic ambassador Reg Mombassa will be launched. "
The cranium universe display will basically be the stars, the planets and the sun inside someone's head but on the sky," he told reporters today.
While remaining tight-lipped about the particulars, Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the bridge effect, to be unveiled just after midnight, will be "bigger than ever". For the first time in a decade, more than 1000 fireworks will also be launched off the Opera House's sails. But it hasn't been good news for all.
About 10,000 people have missed out on a New Year's Eve party at the newly opened Wet`n'Wild theme park in Sydney, after promoters cancelled the event just hours before it was due to kick off. Event organiser One Cube Entertainment said it had to cancel the festival because of "a major technical production issue" and will hold a replacement concert on Australia Day.
NSW Fair Trading Minister Stuart Ayres said a case manager has been appointed to deal with complaints and to ensure full refunds are granted where requested. Sydney's midnight show will be the first in a wave of pyrotechnics to usher in 2014 from Hong Kong to Dubai. Dubai is hoping to break the Guinness World Record for the largest display, pledging to set off more than 400,000 fireworks. Kuwait set the mark in 2011 with an hour-long blast of 77,282 fireworks. Before that cities across Asia will hail the New Year, with Hong Kong boasting the biggest-ever countdown show for the Chinese city. Fireworks will soar from skyscrapers and a one-kilometre line of barges along Victoria Harbour in a "wish upon a star" tourism board show. In Japan, shoppers were busy buying crabs, tuna sashimi and other delicacies to feast in the New Year, with noodle shops doing an especially brisk trade. However, in areas ravaged by Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, celebrations were muted. In Tacloban, which bore the brunt of the November 8 storm, officials were preparing a midnight fireworks display to try to boost spirits, despite nearly 8000 dead or missing. Aid agencies are also organising free concerts or distributing food for the traditional New Year's Eve dinner.
Seoul will ring in 2014 with a ritual clanging of the city's 15th-century bronze bell 33 times, reflecting the ancient practice of marking a new year.
In Singapore, people will flock to the financial district for fireworks while thousands of white spheres will be launched to bob on Marina Bay, holding residents' wishes for 2014. Jakarta has set up 12 city centre stages for performances to showcase the vast archipelago's kaleidoscope of cultures. However, 6500 police will be out to ensure security amid warnings that extremists in the Muslim-majority nation may target the celebrations, prompting travel warnings from countries including neighbouring Australia. Tonga, located near the international dateline, will be one of the first nations to greet 2014. The religious Pacific state is holding a prayer festival that culminates with bamboo "cannon" fired into the air. In Rio de Janeiro, authorities are predicting 2.3 million people - a third of them tourists - will crowd Copacabana Beach for fireworks and pop music. The theme will be romantic, said the city's tourism secretary, Antonio Pedro Figueira de Mello. "At one moment of the musicalised fireworks, the music sort of falls, and there we have a kiss in Copacabana, we'll hear a 'smack', ... we'll have 100 hearts exploding on Copacabana beach to toast for this reveillon of love," he said. Major spectaculars will also light up Moscow's Red Square, Berlin's Brandenburg Gate and central London when Big Ben bongs midnight. An expected one million revellers will gather in New York to mark the stroke of midnight and the traditional New Year's Eve ball-drop over Times Square. Cape Town will have a free concert with fireworks and a 3D tribute to Nelson Mandela who died December 5. Images from the anti-apartheid hero's life will be projected onto City Hall where he gave his first speech after release from 27 years in prison in 1990.

-Kainat - pashto song - Sitergi sharabi lare -Za speena spogmayi

Violent protests leaves 2 dead, 8 injured in northern Afghanistan

According to reports, at least two people were killed and eight others were injured following violent protests in northern Samangan province of Afghanistan on Tuesday. The protesters were reportedly calling on the provincial governor to resign from his position, and had gathered near government compound when the incident took place. Provincial council chief, Mohammad Zia said clashes took place among the governor’s security guards and protesters, which left two people dead and eight others injured. The protesters accuse provincial governor, Khairullah Batash for being involved in corruption along with a number of the local government officials. Provincial police chief, Mohammad Aslam Begzad confirming the report said two protesters were killed and eight others were injured, after gunmen among the protesters opened fire. He said an Afghan senator along with his armed supporters were also among the protesters, who attacked the governor’s office. Demonstration against Khairullah Batash started a week ago, and hundreds of Samangan residents took to the streets and called for his immediate resignation.

Afghanistan: Sharp rise in violence against journalists in 2013

Afghanistan remains an insecure country for reporters, where they are subjected to threats from state and nonstate actors, besides facing hurdles in access to information
Nai Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan (NSPMA) on Monday released its annual report about violence against Afghan journalists, reporting of 76 cases of violence in 2013. The cases including 3 murders, 34 cases of beating, 6 arrests, 7 cases of injuries and 26 cases of threats and insult have been registered by NSPMA administration. The perpetrators mostly were the police, government officials, militants, ordinary people and private sector.
Head of Nai Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan, Sediqullah Tawhidi, addressing a press conference said that in 2012, 69 cases of violence against journalists had been registered in NSPMA, but in 2013, 76 different cases including 3 murders have been registered, a rise of 10% in violence against journalists.
He tied the increase in violence against journalists to the inertia and negligence of relevant government organizations in investigating cases and prosecuting perpetrators. Tawhidi termed one of challenges of reporters the internal problems of media and said that most of the contracts of TV channels were against Labor Law, and the owner of private channels acted like taskmaster every time they wanted relieved their reporters adding that in this issue the Ministry of Information and Cultural hasn’t done any legal measures for resolution of the reporters problem in the media. “Influence of the media’s owners marred the standard work of medias also using of media as a tool to overcome in their political and tribal ambitions is seriously going on it created some tribal struggles, and accusing of medias by some government bodies also brought arrange of concern over medias” said Tawhidi. He asked the Ministry of Information and Cultural to send the occupation regulation to the minister council for conferment so that the current job immunity of reporter and media owner’s problems should be solved.
Tawhidi expressed his concern over delaying of confirmation of Access to Information Law and said that if the concerned law is not confirmed by the parliament the reporters may face with various challengeable issues during providing investigative reports asked the parliament to confirm the Access Information Law as soon as possible so that the people profit the freedom of speech in the country.
“The parliament of the country should confirm the Access to Information Law before presidential and provincial election till the reporters provide complete reports according to its principles” said Tawhidi. According to increasing of violences toward newsmen in the country, Nia Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan is not optimistic about the secure future of reporter’s activities in 2014 asking the responsible organs to take serous measure for securing of reporters in the country. According to report of NSPMA in 2012 four television satiations, 11 newspapers, 24 weekly letters, two monthly letters, one magazine, started to activities.
Head of NSPMA said that so for there are 100 televisions network 200 private and government Radio stations, 200 print Medias and 12 Agencies, it shows that media are expanding in spite of too many problems in the country.

Peshawar Residents Accuse Police Of Extrajudicial Killing

Residents of a neighborhood in the Pakistani city of Peshawar have torched a police checkpoint in protest at what they say was the extrajudicial killing of an employee of the city's Agricultural University. RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal reports that residents of the Regi area were angry over a police raid on a local home. Residents say police detained three brothers, all employees of the university, before eventually leading one of the brothers out of the home and shooting him dead. The purpose of the raid was not immediately clear. Neighborhood residents set fire to a police checkpoint and demanded that the local police chief be fired. Residents also blocked the road leading to their neighborhood. Local officials held talks with neighborhood representatives. The road was reopened and the body taken for burial.

Pakistan: KP and Pesco

When PTI chief Imran Khan demanded last week that control of the Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) be handed over by the centre to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government it seemed almost like a dare since the biggest criticism of the PTI has been its supposed inability to govern. If indeed Imran was bluffing, it has now been called by the PML-N and Pesco will be handed over to the KP government. But there is more to it than appears on the surface. It involves many complex issues but the wisdom of the move will best be judged in hindsight since there are both possible advantages and pitfalls. It is certainly the case that the provincial government should be better suited to collect bills since it knows the area and the people better – and bill collection is one of the most pressing needs of the perpetually under-funded Pesco – but there is also the danger that bigwigs and influential people will be let off the hook for their dues because the politicians in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are dependent on their support in a way that those in the centre are not. With Pesco facing a massive shortfall in electricity and having to resort to loadshedding – like every other electricity distribution system in the country – the PTI government should also be in a better position to decide how much loadshedding each area should go through. Under the federal government, Pesco had been increasing loadshedding in areas where the rate of bill recovery was low but this meant that the low-income residents of the province were bearing the brunt of the loadshedding. The PTI government should ensure a more equitable distribution of suffering.
Now if the PTI is handed control of Pesco, and it agrees to take it, the move itself may be subject to a court review to see if it falls within the bounds of the 18th Amendment to the constitution. Even before that has been done, the chief minister Parvez Khattak is asking that the centre also hand over the powers for electricity generation, transmission and distribution to the province. Doing so would be difficult and probably a huge mistake. The country does not function on the principle that each province can use all the electricity it generates since that would lead to an unfair distribution of electricity. Allowing provinces to be in charge of generating their own electricity would inevitably lead to provinces keeping all that electricity for themselves. Sindh has already started making demands that like KP it also be handed over these power units. The PTI should elaborate how it will handle this complex issue as it has changed its position from taking over Pesco to running the entire power system which is a federal subject. It appears to be pure politics and in the end nothing may come out of it.

Karachi: Policeman Killed

Unidentified gunmen opened fire on a car in SITE area of Karachi on Tuesday and killed a police inspector, Geo News reported. According to the sources, unknown assailants ambushed the car in Metroville area of SITE and as a result of firing, a police inspector identified as Bahauddin Babar lost his life on the spot. The sources further informed that the deceased policeman was currently stationed at Anti Violent Crime Cell (AVCC).

Bravest politician in Pakistan: '' Staying Alive ''

By Saroop Ijaz
How does one define courage? Who is a martyr? These and other questions like these belong to the ages and the quibbling will continue forever. Yet, the test remains simple. One recognises it when one sees it. As churches, mosques and hospitals are being attacked and responsibilities claimed gloatingly, the challenge boils down to the elemental level. Either one has the courage, both moral and physical to confront it or one is an apologist, which in our context, is just a polite word for cowardice or maliciousness or perhaps a bit of both.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has got the major question of our times (existential crisis, etc. if you prefer) exactly right and Mr Imran Khan and Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan have it exactly wrong. Mian Nawaz Sharif has good and bad days. Bilawal displayed incredible courage by saying what needed to be said; that there is no honour in cowardice and we will not surrender. Encouraging vigilantism and semi-coherent statements against far away, often imagined imperialist enemies requires no such nerve. One can understand Mr Khan’s embarrassment in particular — to be shown the gold standard by someone less than half his age must sting. One can spin it whichever way, bogus equivalences have a way of coming out as just that: bogus.
I do not feel the need for pseudo objectivity and make no secret of my admiration for Shaheed BB. Bilawal Bhutto is admittedly very young. However, he knows a thing or two about courage and the consequences of it. Lest anyone forget, he was speaking in the graveyard where his mother is buried. Courage, martyrdom and tragedy are inescapable at that venue. His extraordinarily brave mother was murdered for saying exactly what he chose to say. He will be acutely aware of who the enemy is; amongst other things, they are the murderers of his mother.
His speech articulated his strategy for dealing with militancy and terrorism, which had clear pre-conditions of laying down arms and bringing themselves within the ambit of the Constitution before any negotiations. One can disagree with his strategy, however, then the onus is on those who do, to bring forward their plan. What is Mr Khan’s and Chaudhry Nisar Ali’s plan? Cowardice, appeasement and obfuscation are no strategy. Good sirs, surely you have a better plan than the kid? We are holding our breath to hear it.
Courage alone does not run states. It is a necessary condition, perhaps not a sufficient one. To phrase it another way, courage alone will not make the state completely functional; however, the absence of it is enough to make a state sink. Bilawal’s speech was against sinking, it was for staying alive.
Bilawal Bhutto has thrown himself in the deep end. His speech does not mean that legitimate disagreements on issues of governance with the previous federal government and the critiques of the present Sindh government are brushed aside. There were many hardened, cynical, not-so-young people, who did not vote for his party last election for perfectly justifiable reasons, yet had moist eyes on December 27. It is not about partisan party politics alone; it is much more fundamental. It is about living and dying, about honour and servitude. It is about him being his mother’s son, regardless of voting preferences.
The follies of the previous or the present governments cannot be attributed to him. However, from now on, those of his party in the future, rightly or wrongly, will be. There is a price for affection and devotion. This is the price for standing out. Bilawal has won many admirers for himself in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh; he will have to now win votes for his party. The PPP will need to deliver and realise that governance is not a side issue. The PPP will need to offer something new to urban Pakistan. Bilawal Bhutto displays potential, yet let us suspend judgment on that for now.
Young Chairman, being your mother’s son is a privilege, which you have rightly earned now. However, remember, it is a privilege. And this privilege means the claim to be the flag-bearer of the federation. These are huge shoes. In a sane world, an ideal world, no 25-year-old son will ever have to make that speech standing at the grave of his martyred mother. This is not an ideal world. It does not get any easier from here on in. It is a terrific start; yet, there are miles to go.

Controversial interview: Army should clear its position on Musharraf, says Khursheed Shah

The Express Tribune
Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah on Monday demanded that the army explain its position with reference to former military ruler Pervez Musharraf’s statement, in which he had claimed the army was upset over his trial. “If army is not with Musharraf, it should rebuff his statement,” he said, adding that its silence could be misconstrued as its consent. Speaking to newsmen after Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting, Shah said Musharraf, by claiming to have army’s support, was trying to involve it in the treason case. Earlier, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari declared that defending Musharraf in treason case was also ‘treason’
Musharraf’s interview also attracted response from the government side, as Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid advised him to express his views in the court instead of doling out sensational statements in the media. He was talking to reporters on Monday.
The former military ruler, while talking to a foreign news agency, had said that he was leaving his treason trial issue to incumbent Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), Gen Raheel Sharif. “I would say the whole army is upset. Certainly, they wouldn’t like anything happening to their ex-army chief,” he had claimed adding, however, that the army was not his last hope. “Though the army chief has the final word but the top brass always goes through due consultations before an important decision is taken. Let’s see what the COAS does in this case,” Musharraf had said. The case is due to resume on January 1, but Musharraf said he had not yet decided whether or not he would attend the proceedings.
British lawyers will monitor treason trial
Human rights activists and UK-based lawyers Toby Cadman and Solicitor Raza Anjum say they will monitor Musharraf’s trial and report to the United Nations and human rights bodies across the world, at a press conference with a member of Musharraf’s legal team Barrister Saif ur Rehman. Saif did not confirm whether Musharraf will appear before the special court on Thursday. “We are deliberating on this issue and no decision has been taken so far,” he added.

Pakistan: Counterterrorism confusion

ALTHOUGH more than six months have elapsed since the new government came to power, neither the federal nor provincial policymakers have been able to formulate a clear strategy on combating terrorism and organised crime.
At the federal level, there’s no internal security policy. Two, the peace talks with the Taliban have not begun in the wake of US drones hitting targets in Fata, exposing the weakness of our security establishment’s half-hearted operations in the militants’ sanctuaries.
Three, the Cabinet Committee on National Security has yet to come up with a clear role and charter along with the rules of business for its secretariat pertaining to whether it will be under the prime minister’s office or the cabinet division. Such decisions have implications for the professionalism and autonomy of a set-up tasked with devising and implementing a national security policy.
Four, the National Counter Terrorism Authority has neither been reorganised nor staffed with professionals. A decision on posting an experienced counterterrorism expert as Nacta head is still pending. There’s confusion whether Nacta should report to the prime minister (as per the law) or to the interior ministry.
Such indecision is sending mixed signals as if the political leadership is facing resistance from all-powerful stakeholders. Professionals usually look to Punjab for providing the lead in facing challenges arising out of internal security threats such as the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan’s countrywide acts of terrorism. They often quote the example of the firm political will displayed by the Punjab government in the 1990s to tackle sectarian terrorism. It was then that the Crime Investigation Department was created by raising a special cadre of police and security officials with intelligence, analysis and investigative sections to augment the capacity of the district police to apprehend the sectarian terrorists of Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and Sipah-i-Mohammad.
The Anti-Terrorism Act was promulgated in 1997 with the provision of speedy trials before special courts, resulting in the death penalty for 72 terrorists within two years.
In order to provide muscle to the law-enforcement machinery, specialised combat squads called elite police units were raised, along with a state-of-the-art training facility in the suburbs of Lahore and trainers especially seconded from the SSG commandos. The Punjab police, assisted by intelligence and investigative agencies, squarely met the threat of sectarian terrorism and acquitted itself well because it had a clear mission and an able leadership.
Today, Punjab is emitting confused signals as it struggles to organise itself to face far more devastating terrorist outfits that threaten to shatter the peace and cause mayhem in the otherwise comparatively tranquil economic powerhouse of the country. In a meeting presided over by the prime minister, the Punjab government decided to raise a counterterrorism force comprising 1,500 retired and serving army and intelligence officers and to place it under the home instead of the police department. The CID, which had been upgraded to the Counterterrorism Department during the previous tenure of the Sharif government, is to be disbanded or placed under the home secretary. This decision means that the essentially policing function of counterterrorism is to be given to serving and retired military officers under the bureaucratic command of the home secretary.
It also means that the authority of the inspector-general as commander of police is to be further eroded and the officers and units under him to be placed under a non-professional bureaucrat. Instead of strengthening or reforming the police, politicians and bureaucrats are expressing no confidence in the present 250,000-plus policemen and policewomen.
This retrogressive step is a reminder and extension of decisions taken by the military rulers and their political surrogates in handing over law and order in Karachi to the Rangers under army command and taking away the counter-narcotics role from the police and creating the Anti-Narcotics Force under serving army officers. This trend of militarisation of civilian policing functions continues even under a democratic political dispensation. The prime minister seems disillusioned with the performance of the police who he believes are responsible for the failure to control crime, including terrorism. He wants a new force raised, instead of relying on an institution perceived as criminalised and corrupt. The politics of patronage and kinship, institutionalised in Punjab since the 1990s, has resulted in the deterioration of police professionalism and discipline. Successive political governments are responsible. Loyalty rather than merit has been the matrix of the governance framework. This has resulted in institutional decay. The present state of affairs in Punjab also reflects police command failure. While some mid-level and junior officers have raised their voice and conveyed their concern through the Police Service of Pakistan Association, senior commanders have chosen not to speak. They lack the courage to respectfully inform the chief executive that nowhere in the world are counterterrorism functions outside the purview of policing. Many countries have raised specialised task forces or professional counterterrorism units such as the SO15 in Scotland Yard UK, the NYPD CTF in the US and the National Investigation Agency in India. They are all under police command. Our prime minister and the Punjab chief minister would have surely learnt from the Turkish prime minister that counterterrorism is handled by the Turkish National Police with whom the Punjab Police have signed an MoU on capacity building and reforms. This matter is too serious to be made a turf issue between the bureaucracy and the police. They must rise above petty service rivalries and think about the principles of policing a society through a chain of command that upholds the rule of law rather than the use of force. Police commanders must stop acting as loyal courtiers of politicians. Integrity, professionalism and hard work will earn them respect from the public they serve. It is time to speak up and be counted.

Pakistan: Extremism breeds terrorism

Babar Ayaz
The humanist social democrats cannot debate with Islamists freely without being charged for blasphemy. For much less Salmaan Taseer was killed
It is seldom that journalists from the print and electronic media take time out to reflect and introspect on the crucial issues they cover on a day-to-day basis in the line of duty. Once in a year, the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) provides such an opportunity. Last week it invited over 100 journalists from all over the country to discuss the exploding issue of extremism and what media can do to promote tolerance in society. As the government has failed to provide an alternate to the extremist ideology, there is widespread confusion in society about what is the fascist agenda of extremism and its offshoot: terrorism. The apologists of these extremists compound the confusion when they try to justify it by declaring that terrorism is because Pakistan is supporting a US war. I wonder: if the US will not tell us to fight terrorist organisations, which operate in Afghanistan and Pakistan, will the state of Pakistan still allow the terrorists to impose their brand of sharia in the country and launch an insurgency against a neighbouring country?
To legitimise terrorism their apologists rely on the famous saying that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. That makes their credentials as democrats weak, as use of terrorist tactics to achieve legitimate or illegitimate objectives is negation of democratic norms. Then the question is raised both from the far left and also from the far right: what is the answer to state or imperialist violence or what is also called ‘state terrorism’? Another delicate question is: what is a national liberation war? When does it degenerate to fall in the category of terrorism?
However, first let us take to task the more immediate issue. In the case of religious terrorism we have to understand that the people who resort to terrorist tactics do so because they have a weak case and little public support. Actually ‘militant Islam’ is an offshoot of ‘political Islam’ as it has failed to capture power through democratic means. Militant Islam’s lineage can be traced to Shah Waliullah in this part of the world and to the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt under the teachings of Hasan al Bana and Sayid Qutab. Olivier Roy, Farzana Sheikh and Ayesha Jalal, to name a few, have explained this phenomenon in their compelling books. These books should be on the ‘essential reading list’ for journalists in Pakistan.
The Pakistani establishment, which has India paranoia, started patronising terrorism since its inception, e.g. the creation of a tribal lashkar (militia) in 1948, and continues to sponsor non-state militant jihadis to this day. Even at present our establishment considers India specific terrorist groups and Afghan terrorist as its assets although they were and are liabilities. If in a country’s accounting books ‘liabilities’ are entered as ‘assets’, the state is bound to collapse. Another aspect of this religious terrorism is that it is based on a strong ideology of al Qaeda. It cannot be ignored that they are official and unofficial al Qaeda franchises. Military operations against them in the tribal areas are tactical moves. The fact is that the state does not have a comprehensive strategy for countering al Qaeda’s ideological thrust.
Crudely applying the principle of equity, some journalists, at the two-day SAFMA conference, talked about listening to the other side. Yes, that is a democratic value but is not this question frivolous when on the one hand the Islamists invoke democratic rights of free speech and the right to preach, but on the other hand they do not allow a rational dialogue? The humanist social democrats cannot debate with Islamists freely without being charged for blasphemy. For much less Salmaan Taseer was killed. If the other side had a rational scientific ideology they would not have resorted to terrorism. Perfidy apologists of terrorist outfits also ask why we support talks and a political solution for Balochistan’s chronic problems and demand that the state first establish its writ against the Taliban and then talk peace.
The issue is that Taliban demands are not for the rights of the tribal people — they want to impose their brand of sharia on the country through the barrel of a gun. If they win the elections and form the government with an large enough majority to write another constitution, they are more than welcome. But they should not try to turn the wheel of history back to Salafiism. Now the second question: what is the difference between a national liberation war and terrorism by ethnic parties? When a democratic movement is suppressed by state terrorism then the militant struggle in aid of a normal democratic independence movement is a national liberation war. However, history has shown that non-violent movements have been more successful. The litmus test is that independence should lead to economic, social and political development of the common man. If it is retrogressive in itself then it is anti-people, and hence it should not be given the respectability of a national liberation war. Only a rational and dispassionate strategy covering economic, political and social facets can bring peace and tolerance to our society.
My fear is that we are heading towards bloodier times. Once the government moves towards building a peace bridge with India, the Kashmir specific terrorists, who are mostly Punjab-based, will turn their guns towards the government. I hope I am proven wrong this time.

Pakistan: Imran’s insanities

Inaugurating a new Foreign Ministry office building in Islamabad the other day, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif warned of Pakistan’s isolation in the international arena in the wake of the NATO supply routes’ continued blockade. The blockade by PTI has entered its eighth week, and the PM’s reflection on it was a reminder of the US’s threat to stop reimbursement of Coalition Support Funds unless the route is reopened. If Pakistan’s cooperation dwindles, this is likely to affect the US’s disbursements of other aid too. The impact of any such move will damage Pakistan’s interests in more ways than one. It would not only be the US stopping aid to Pakistan, the entire aid programme, both bilateral and that of the international financial institutions may come to a grinding halt. A country with depleting foreign reserves and struggling to manage its economic slowdown because of the energy crisis and terrorism cannot afford such adventures with foreign policy. It is high time that the government intervenes and brings some sanity to the ground situation.
No province is constitutionally allowed to interfere in the foreign affairs of the country. The US drone schedule in Pakistan has remained unaffected by the PTI’s blockade. The most this protest would do is to further isolate Pakistan and reinforce its image of a dubious and unreliable ally, allegations that still define Pakistan-US relations. Our adventurism with jihadi proxies to sustain a foothold in Afghanistan that complicated things for the US in restoring order there has been the reason for the US’s intervention through drones in our country. Imran Khan should be protesting against Pakistan’s Afghan and other foreign policies that feed on extremism and religious fundamentalism. Drones are eliminating those that we chose to nurture, the terrorists who are bombing our cities and killing innocent people. Pakistan’s image as a hostile country is the last thing that the country wants laid on its fragile economic back.
Unless Imran Khan is gullible enough to think his present path can lead overnight to Pakistan becoming independent of foreign assistance, he should keep himself away from issues that could prove damaging for the country’s interests. His argument that it is the US and not Pakistan that is being isolated because of drones is further proof of Imran’s inability to understand international affairs vis-à-vis the world’s sole superpower. It is about time the federal government takes charge and stops the PTI’s insanity.

Pakistan: PTI should not instigate workers to violence: govt

Information and Broadcasting Minister Pervaiz Rashid said on Monday the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) must not instigate its workers to violence as use of force in politics could give birth to anarchy. Talking to the media, he said that the government was ready to hand over the control of Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO) to PTI Chairman Imran Khan to make possible the recovery of electricity bills from the defaulters. To a question, he said the “court of history has already given its verdict regarding former president Pervez Musharraf and now his case is in the court of law”. The government has provided ample opportunity to the former president to give his side of the story in the court of law. “And his statements outside the court have no relevance as we have already seen him airing statements while hovering pistols and fists”, he added. To another question, he said the standard of living of people could not be improved via satellite while sitting in the cosy atmosphere of Canada. “The standard of living of people has registered significant improvement during the tenure of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz,” the minister added. He cited the examples of motorway, Metro Bus Service, Green Channel facility at airports and laptop scheme “which helped improving the standard of living of the people of the country”. He said the government has relaxed various conditions of prime minister’s business loan scheme.

Pakistan: Spiteful enterprise

So saddening it is that just for political point-scoring the politicos across the spectrum are feeling the least inhibited in trashing the most serious and grave into sheer triviality. Not even they seem any pushed about how their childish pranks are searing the hearts of a citizenry reeling under the worst of times in its life. They even seem not knowing that their silly antics are indeed hurting the people's sentiments ruefully.
At this point in time, the people all over the land are groaning woefully under the backbreaking load of tortuous power and gas load-shedding. For the most part, they are not getting electricity even to light their homes and gas even to cook their meals. The land is filled from end to end with the deafening shrill of a phenomenally distressed citizenry, crying hoarse to rid them of this torture. Yet, dismayingly, amid this public uproar, the federal and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa governments have got embroiled in a tiff over power distribution and generation in the province.
Not that this is something unheard of. If indeed there are countries where the federal authority alone controls both generation and distribution, instances no lesser abound where the federating units hold this monopoly. Indeed, in the Gujarat state of neighbouring India, the Narenrda Modi-government has attracted so much of private investment in power sector with alluring incentives that it caters abundantly to electricity needs of its consumers, industries and businesses while the mainland continues suffering from chronic power shortages acutely.
Had indeed the offer and demand for power generation and distribution been part of some thoroughly-considered and well-planned action strategy, that would have been admirably worth it. Arguably, the problems confronting the nation presently necessarily entail tight cooperation and collaboration between the federal and the provincial governments. And nothing like that if Islamabad and Peshawar get together to give a stab to disastrous power shortage that is eating irredeemably into the vitals of the polity.
But it is more than evident that there is nothing serious about the whole show; it is all politics. In all likelihood, neither the federal government will devolve power generation to the KP's domain. Nor will the KP government be prepared to collect electricity bills from the users in the province. Ludicrously enough, the tiff between the two has incited the Sindh ruling hierarchy as well to start flapping its wings heatedly to take the same hop. But, unmistakably, this too would be just politics. It really hurts that power-wielders and power-contenders could be so obsessed with their political ambitions and political agendas that for their objectives' perpetuation they would desist not ever from riding roughshod over the masses' acute sensitivities. Whatever the May general election was, the electorate had expected that winners would come to power with a sincere intent to overcome miseries making the people's lives increasingly unlivable.
The general expectation was that politics would henceforth be put behind and the people's wants and needs would occupy the incoming rulers' top priority. But from street to street, the common citizenry is livid that politics instead has become the political elites' prime, and sole, mover. The people are outraged that political capital is being sought to be made even on matters that should best be left to the forums they are being dealt with at. Pervez Musharraf is arraigned before the courts and the law will take its own course to decide his fate.
Yet the political hierarchs, particularly at the centre and in Sindh and Punjab, are apparently out to squeeze it to the last drop. With bowls in hands, they are wandering all around to make hay while the sun shines. He is being accosted blithely. Surmises are being thrown at him giddily. And he is being demonised with every ill on the earth. This political discourse may be enthralling the chattering classes, the media, the commentariat and the seminarians. But the street it is not. There is dead silence over there. No one is talking of him; no one is listening about him. The street is all engrossed about its own woes of bread and butter. It is all preoccupied with deepening concerns if ever power and gas would become available in quantities that homes are lit, industries, businesses and undertaking start working full blast and throw up jobs and opportunities aplenty and the access to basic needs becomes easier to make the people's lives livable. On this account, the political elites across the board are indeed under the microscopic scrutiny of the mass of the people. The public is not judging them by what political acrobatics are they playing. They are adjudging them strictly by their deeds in the service of the public. And there, truthfully, the political elites must be shocked from one to all. None lives in the people's good graces any more. They all stand condemned in the popular perception. It is only in the core constituencies of their loyalists that they still live lovingly. The street has begun distancing itself from them all unexceptionably. Even now, not all is lost. The political elites can still reclaim the lost territory. Only, they have to abandon petty politics and focus on public service both collectively and separately. But will they?

Iran’s Border Violations in Balochistan

Tensions are brewing on Pakistan-Iran border in Balochistan. To explicitly explain the situation, on needs to borrow a term or two from the contemporary Pakistani political lexicon. The Iranians are violating our “sovereignty”. The Pakistanis routinely use the term “sovereignty” only to refer to the drone strikes launched by the United States. But there are two reasons why the Pakistani media does not report the violation of our sovereignty on the Pakistan-Iran border.
One, sovereignty, according to the Pakistani official narrative, is something only a non-Muslim country such as the United States violates whereas Iran is an Islamic republic which cannot be involved in breaching the sovereignty of a brotherly Muslim country. Secondly, it indeed sounds absolutely ludicrous to call for Islamabad’s help considering the fact that Pakistan itself has been involved in violating people’s sovereignty in Balochistan for decades.
For the past one month, the Iranian security forces have been excessively firing rockets from their side on the bordering towns of Panjgur and Mashkil located in Pakistani Balochistan. The unprovoked cycle of rocket attacks has caused significant outrage as well as fear among the local population. While one rocket attack on November 25 killed a three-year old Baloch girl and injured her parents and two siblings in Kech district, another citizen, Nasir Ahmed, a resident of Paroom area in Panjgur district, was shot dead by the Iranian authorities on December 10th. Mr. Ahmed’s killing took place only a day after the Iranian security forces fired nine rockets on Mashkil town of Washuk district while they shot another four rockets on Panjgur district. Local residents say the the attacks killed several goats and cows which are the primary source of livelihood for the poor Baloch families in the border areas.
Last week, when the Iranians fired four more rockets on Baloch towns, Mir Mujeeb-ur-Rehman, a member of the Balochistan Assembly from the frontier towns, described the attack as a ‘border violation’. He said that a memorandum had been shared both the Iranian Foreign Ministry and the embassy in Islamabad against previous such unprovoked rocket attacks. On November 25, Balochistan Chief Minister Dr. Malik Baloch expressed his anguish over the Iranian aggression and repeated violation of the border. The head of the provincial government “condemned” the attacks and said he had raised the issue with Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Pakistan’s Interior Minister. Contrary to the Chief Minister’s condemnation of the Iranian aggression, Balochistan’s Interior Secretary, Akbar Hussain Durrani, ironically, has been insisting that the Iranians did not fire the rockets. Mr. Durrani may only be attempting to cover up the issue but the matter is rapidly getting so serious that even officials in his own department have begun to leak information to the media about the unfolding situation.
For example, Dawn, on December 9, 2013, quoted a Home Department official confirming that the Iranians had violated the border and fired rockets on 11 to 12 occasions within a month. The official added that the Iranian helicopters were also flying in Balochistan’s airspace. In the wake of these alarming activities, the Balochistan government, according to the same report published in Dawn, has written a letter to the National Crisis Management Cell while the Frontier Corps (F.C.), whose primary responsibility is to guard the border, has written a separate letter to the Interior Ministry.
Pakistan’s foreign office and relevant departments have not uttered a single word to protest the killing and terrorizing of the Baloch population by the Iranians. The federal government’s indifference is deeply disappointing but still understandable, as stated above, because Islamabad is known for killing, not protecting, the Baloch people within its own borders. In the backdrop of absolute silence observed in Islamabad, one is compelled to agree with the assessment of the situation by the Baloch Republican Party. Headed by Switzerland-based pro-independence leader Nawabzada Bramdagh Bugti, the B.R.P. has alleged that Iran is carrying out these operations inside Balochistan with the support of Pakistan as a continuation of their longstanding anti-Baloch nexus.
“Iranian attacks on the Baloch population have become the order of the day,” charged the B.R.P. in its statement which also condemned the recent unfortunate incidents.
Pakistani Urdu columnist Saleem Safi may not even be acquainted with what Iran is doing inside Balochistan but his observations about Iran’s changing role in the region that he has mentioned in his column on December 10 in Daily Jang merits attention. Mr. Safi, an ethnic Pashtun and an expert on Afghan affairs, predicted that Iran would follow an aggressive policy toward Pakistan as soon as it improves its relations with the United States. That time has not fully arrived but Iran’s behavior indicates that it has already started asserting its hegemony in the region.
As the Baloch expect little from Islamabad to come to their rescue from increasing attacks from the Iranians, we wish to remind Tehran that the world is fast changing and it’s become a different place. Therefore, it is the time for Tehran to give up its decades-old policy of suppressing the Baloch because of their race and (Sunni) religion. There are always batter ways to win the hearts and minds of the people. By attacking the Balochs on the Pakistani side of the border, Iran, in a way, is unnecessarily provoking mass reaction within the Baloch community on both sides. Attacking the Balochs on the Pakistani side will only mount tensions and create new enemies for Tehran.
While the Balochs on the Pakistani side are fighting a non-religious, nationalist, secular battle against Islamabad for a free land, Tehran should stay away from this battle as they do not pose a direct threat to Iran’s interests. We fear that the mistreatment of the Baloch on both sides of the border could possibly lead to an unprecedented alliance between the religiously motivated anti-Iran Sunni militant groups, such as the Jundullah, and the multiple left-wing Baloch armed groups operating inside Pakistan. Intensification of the existing conflicts will not serve anyone’s interests. Both Islamabad and Tehran should end their war against the Baloch and treat them as equal citizens instead of brutalizing them.

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb - review

Malala Yousafzai's tale is infamous throughout the world. Malala is an education activist from Swat district in Pakistan.
At the age of 16, she has written for the BBC (under a pseudonym) describing her life in Swat valley, stood up for education at various protests, been nominated for the Nobel peace prize and been shot in the eye socket and neck by one of the worlds most dangerous extremist terrorist organisations, the Taliban.
I Am Malala, written from Malala's point of view, is a beautifully written, brutally honest and heart-warming tale of a girl's innocence and will to make a positive difference, and how she was almost lost to the hands of a brutal and suppressive body who attempted, and still continue to threaten, to kill her.
Malala has been described as a martyr for her cause countless times. She's been portrayed as the 'poor brave girl who got shot' or the 'girl who survived the Taliban shooting and spoke at the UN'. We're all so caught up in making Malala sound like a heroine, that we forget she's a teenager as well. We're so busy talking about how brilliantly she speaks and what a wonderful vision she has for the world, that we tend to not care about her friends and her encounters, and what she likes to do in her free time. She's outstandingly bold, and a true idol, but Malala lives in the real world. She is one of us.
The way the book progresses is so powerful, it tends to hold on even after you've closed that perfect last page. Every child in the world must read this, or must have Malala's story read to them. For us readers, it may seem like a fairytale.
Malala now lives in the UK with her family; they're safe and happy. But the revolution that she started still continues to shake the world, and especially Pakistan, with its impact. There's still a long way to go before the children of Swat valley can pick up a book and a pen, stand up for education and not have their lives in danger.

لاپتہ بلوچ افراد کی بازیابی کے لیے پیدل لانگ مارچ ہالہ سے سعید آباد کی جانب روانہ

posted by Aamir Hussaini
حیدرآباد-لاپتہ بلوچ افراد کی بازیابی کے لیے پیدل لانگ مارچ کا قافلہ آج ہالہ پہنچ گیا-جہاں پر سندھی قوم پرست،بائیں بازو ،انسانی حقوق کی تنظیموں اور مقامی صحافیوں نے لانگ مارچ کے شرکاء کا زبردست استقبال کیا ،پھول کی پتیاں نچھاور کیں اور لاپتہ بلوچوں کی بازیابی کا مطالبہ کیا لانگ مارچ منظم کرنے والے ماما قدیر بلوچ نے اس موقعہ پر خطاب کرتے ہوئے کہا کہ وہ استقبال کے لیے آنے والی تنظیموں اور افراد کے شکر گزار ہیں ،ان کا کہنا تھا حکومت لانگ مارچ کے شرکاء کو سیکورٹی فراہم نہیں کررہی -اگر ان کے ساتھیوں کو کچھ ہوا تو زمہ دار حکومت ہوگی کراچی سے وائس فار مسنگ بلوچ کی طرف سے پیدل لانگ مارچ کا یہ 17واں روز ہے جبکہ کوئٹہ سے چلے اس لانگ مارچ کو 42 دن ہونے کو آئے ہیں-لانگ مارچ کا سندھ کے شہروں اور گوٹھوں میں زبردست استقبال کیا جارہا ہے استقبال کرنے والوں میں نوجوان،عورتیں،بوڑھےسب شامل ہیں -لانگ مارچ کے سندھ میں شاندار استقبال سے بلوچ قوم کی نسل کشی میں ملوث قوتیں بہت خوفزدہ نظر آتی ہیں ان کی کوشش ہے کہ یہ لانگ مارچ پنجاب کی سرحد عبور نہ کر
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Pakistan: Bahawalpur Church carnage 2001, she still fears to speak

It was October 28, 2001, day of Sunday; 8 o’clock in morning, city of Bahawalpur in Southern Punjab of Pakistan and place was St. Dominic Church of Catholic Diocese of Multan,where Pastor Rev. Emmanuel Allah Ditta, of Church of Pakistan had to lead Sunday Services instead of routine Catholic Congregation that day.
Elishba, a six years old girl walks holding hand of his father in St. Dominic Church for Sunday Services as usual where she kneels down and tries to sing hymns; Elishba closes her eyes when Pastor Emmanuel Allaha Ditta offers blessing to end prayers but suddenly silence brakes out with chanting of slogans by three masked men “Afghanistan and Pakistan the "graveyard of Christians." "Allahu Akbar" (God is most great) and uproar of gunfire.
Elishba sees Pastor Emmanuel falling on floor and masked men turning their Kalashnikovs on worshipers and people running towards Altar to save their lives. She remembers nothing after hearing cries of women, men and children and blood spreading on Church floor mats
It is story of eyewitness Baby Elishba who was in St. Dominic Church Bahawalpur when Islamic militants attacked Christian worshipers and killed 16 and injured dozens on October 28, 2001. That 6 years old girl was found under dead bodies of worshipers with two bullet wounds on her legs.
When I talked with Elishba on October 29, 2013, her age is 19 years and she is student of a college but she is scared to speak about that horrible incident of October 28, 2001.
Father of Elishba also survived with bullet wounds on his arms but there were 16 unlucky worshipers who were martyred and many injured in an Islamist militants attack on Sunday Services at St. Dominic Church which started at 8; 52 am and ended at 8: 55 am. (only 3 mintues)
Elishba told me “I am 19 years old now and student of 12th grade in a college. I have one brother and three sisters. I was 6 years old when incident of St. Dominic Church happened on October 28, 2001. I saw blood everywhere in Church. I was told later that I was found beneath 12 dead bodies when attackers left Church and rescuers approached. My father was also victim of firing of Islamists who’s right arm received bullet injury”
“I am grateful to Lord Jesus Christ that he saved us and many other worshipers to glorify his name in front of others” she said
She told me “There was fear among Christians of Bahawalpur after incident of October 28, 2001” and she became silent when she was trying to portray horror details of that incident.
I felt pain in her voice when Elishba said “I am fearful to tell all about that horrifying situation in Church because till this day I am scared of being killed if I speak”
I also became silent for few moments and started thinking “What kind of human being we are? What type of Christians we are Pakistani Christians? Why we forget our martyrs? Why there was not any memorial service in any Church of Pakistan and wherever Pakistani Christian Diaspora is on October 28, 2013, to remember 16 martyrs of St. Dominic Church of Bahawalpur city? Why we never celebrate anniversaries of Niamat Ahmar, Buntu Masih, Manzoor Masih and others who were killed by Muslim extremists on accusations of blasphemy? Why we not gather for 8 Christians burnt alive in Gojra by Muslim mob every year on August 1st? Then, a very big question make my head spin; Are, we Pakistani Christians a live nation or a community which died with its traditions and values?
Let us view incident of St. Dominic Church of Bahawalpur under facts: The Bahawalpur is about 60 miles from City of Multan in Southern Punjab province of Pakistan.
The city of Bahawapur was headquarters of a banned Islamist organization “Jaish-e-Mohammad” which was formed by establishment of Pakistan to recruit Mujahideen for terror acts in occupied Kashmir by India. The Mujahid of “Jaish-e-Mohammad” were trained by ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) of Pakistan Army and provided full security in Pakistan to spread terror in Kashmir.
On September 11, 2001, terrorists attacked WTC and Pentagon in USA and killed thousands of innocent civilians on which war was declared against Terrorists by former US President George W. Bush. The US Administration demanded Afghanistan to handover Osama Bin Laden and his affiliates of “Al Qaida” or to face war on which high alert was announced in Pakistan to provide adequate security to Churches and Christians to counter backlash if USA attacks. Four police guards were deployed at St. Dominic Church in city of Bahawalpur also like other Pakistani cities but three policemen went for breakfast on morning of October 28, 2001, leaving behind only one policeman when service started at 8; 00 AM, while they also knew that a week earlier, some men had approached the police guards, questioning them about church timings. The Islamists in Pakistan took note of visit of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Pope John Paul II's special envoy, Archbishop Paul Joseph Cordes, to Pakistan in same week and Al-Qida issued a press note of Christmas Bloodbath in newspapers which confirmed possible attack on Christians in Pakistan. The Islamic militants planned to kill as many as Christian worshipers in St. Dominic Church on October 28, 2001 but Catholic Worship Service was switched with Protestant Worship Time for Sunday. There were Catholic congregates in majority in Bahawalpur city while with agreement with Catholic Parish Priest Fr. Rocas Tatrias, the congregation of Church of Pakistani in city was also performing Sunday Services in St. Dominic Church as they had not own worship place. Therefore, more than one hundred members of Church of Pakistan were in St. Dominic Church at time on incident. According to PCP information’s, six men on three motorcycles rode up to Saint Dominic's Church and pulled out AK-47 assault rifles, shooting police guard before entering the packed church. Leaving their accomplices outside to stand watch and shoot any of their victims who managed to escape. The men were bearded, conventionally dressed in loose cotton shirts, and unmasked. The police guard might not have realized anything was wrong until the bags were unzipped and Kalashnikov assault rifles were pulled out. By then, it was too late for him, and for the people praying inside St Dominic's. The gunmen locked the doors and sprayed bullets at the Protestant congregation who were using the church at the time, riddling the walls with bullet holes. Five of the dead were children, including two brothers of two and eight years old. Four were women, and half a dozen of them were members of the same family named Jamshed Akhtar, a government clerk, his wife, Rifat, and five of their children, as well as Jamshed's brother Javed and his wife, Nargis.
On October 29, 2001, the daily Nawa-e-Waqt, Multan, received a fax from the militant group Lashkar-e-Umar, claiming responsibility for the incident. The fax stated, “We have accepted the crusade announced by US President George W. Bush. This is the answer to Bush. If he does not stop attacks on Afghanistan, we will continue to take action.” Shafiq, the person who faxed the message was arrested. More than 100 suspects in the Bahawalpur Church killings were detained by Pakistan police authorities including of at least three hardline Islamic militant groups, Jaish-e Mohammed, Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
The government of Pakistan paid compensation of one lakh rupees (over $1,600) to the families of the 16 Christians and one Muslim guard killed and to injured in the attack In July 2002 four people were arrested in connection with the Church massacre but on July 31, 2002, Police in Pakistan's Bahawalpur district said in a statement that the four were killed on Sunday when a police vehicle carrying the four came under attack which meant that government not wanted any one to bring before courts to ensure justice. Now, I understand why Elishba is scared to speak because killers of Christian worshipers are walking free in streets of Bahawalpur.
There is hundreds of millions of US Aid in Pakistan after 2001, but none is allocated to furnish benches in St. Dominic Church in Bahawalpur City not any Christian victim is awarded with USA or EU visa for asylum nor any financial support is given to victims who were just massacred as backlash on interests of Western nations in Afghanistan.
Weather, they are victims of Gojra, Joseph Colony Lahore, All Saints Church Peshawar or St. Dominic Church Bahawalpur, no one wants to live in Islamic Republic of Pakistan due to rising incidents of violence against them on religion grounds but what a fate? USA, Canada, Australia and EU is ready to give permanent residencies to Muslim terrorists of Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Tunisia, Egypt and Iran but reluctant to accept Pakistani Christians as refugees or issue them even visit visas. Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC in a statement said that Australia offers asylum to hundreds of thousands of Muslim Hazara community members after Quetta incidents and some EU countries offer permanent residencies to Muslims of Syria but Australia, EU, Canada and USA never showed any human sympathy towards victims of Bahawalpur, Gojra or Peshawar Churches victims who were only assassinated that they are Christians which is religion of NATO forces. PCC Chief said that more than fifty accused of blasphemy laws are hiding in different cities of Pakistan who can be killed by Muslim extremists in their cities but EU, Australia, Canada and USA are reluctant to issue visa to them. “I appeal all human rights supporting countries to award asylum to Christian victims of violence, oppression and Islamic blasphemy laws in Pakistan” said Nazir Bhatti
(By Pakistan Christian Post PCP investigative team)

Christians Not Enjoying Equal Rights In Pakistan: PCC

Pakistan Christian Congress foremost denies PM Sharif’s claims of Christians enjoying equal rights in Pakistan. -
Dr. Nazir S Bhatti-President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC glumly asserted in a statement issued from the Central Secretariat of PCC that declaration made by Prime Minister of Pakistan Mian Nawaz Sharif in a Christmas get-together organized in Governor House Lahore. During this get-together PM Sharif said: Christian in Pakistan are enjoying equal rights in Pakistan; which has been seen with impudence by the PCC’s President saying, ”It is not true as Christian leaders on stage with him were all selected by his Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz Group PML (N) but not elected by votes of Christians.”
Dr. Nazir Bhatti said: Islamic Republic of Pakistan not allows Christians to elect their leaders with their votes which is guaranteed under Article 226 of Constitution then how PM of Pakistan can claim that Christians are enjoying equal right in Pakistan. It’s unfortunate that Bishop Michael Nazir Ali was present in this event who always raised voice for equal Christian rights in Pakistan and against blasphemy laws but remained silent to speak truth because its on record that majority of cases under blasphemy laws are registered in Punjab against Christians under government of Pakistan Muslim League PML (N) which is headed by Mian Nawaz Sharif.
Dr. Nazir Bhatti went on to maintain that: To comment on presence of Catholic Bishop of Lahore and Church of Pakistan Bishop in Christmas function of Governor Choudhry Sarwar is not important because our clergy bows to ever government weather its democratic or dictatorship because they are only “Yes Men” and never care for due rights of Christians in Pakistan but only speak truth when visiting Western countries to collect funds against blasphemy laws.
Dr. Nazir went on to censure that: Pakistan Muslim League the ruling party declares to be legacy of All India Muslim League which strived for the formation of Pakistan in 1947. He maintained that, Founder of Pakistan Mohammad Ali Jinnah assured Election on votes in 14 Point doctrine during Pakistan Movement to Christians to favour formation of Pakistan but Selection system instead of Election is favoured by PML (N) in elections after 2002. He strongly disapproved the fact that the Pakistani Christians are not authorized to “elect” Christians leaders of their choice in the parliament on the seats reserved for the minorities by casting their votes save for Muslim political parties “select” Christians of their choice.
In the statement Dr. Nazir Bhatti sternly predestined claims of Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif while demanding “equal rights for Christians in Pakistan with rights to elect their representatives in the parliament and repeal of blasphemy laws along with all laws.
- See more at: http://www.christiansinpakistan.com/christians-not-enjoying-equal-rights-in-pakistan-pcc/#sthash.UalZQqBb.dpuf