Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's friends charged with cover-up in wake of Boston bombs

Three teenage college friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect, were charged on Wednesday with covering up evidence in an attempt to obstruct the investigation into the attack, which killed three people and injured more than 260. Two Kazakh students and a third man, a US citizen, all 19, are alleged to have disposed of Tsarnaev's laptop and a backpack containing fireworks in the frenzied hours after the names of the two Boston bombing suspects were made public. Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, both from Kazakhstan, and Robel Phillipos, a US citizen, appeared before a federal judge in a brief court hearing in Boston on Wednesday afternoon. Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov were charged with conspiring to obstruct justice, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail and a fine of $250,000. Phillipos was charged with making false statements to federal investigators, which carries a maximum sentence of eight years and a fine of $250,000. The three men were all friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, who was a student at University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. His older brother Tamerlan, 26, was killed after a shootout with police in the wake of the Boston bombings. Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov shared an apartment in the nearby town of New Bedford, Massachusetts According to the criminal complaint against Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov, the pair recognised Tsarnaev from pictures released by the authorities four days after the attack. Kadyrbayev is said to have told FBI agents that then he sent text messages to Tsarnaev, who replied "Lol", "You better not text me", and "Come to my room and take whatever you want".The complaint alleges the Kazakh pair then went with Phillipos to Tsarnaev's dorm room at Pine Dale Hall. They were let in by Tsarnaev's unnamed roommate, who told them Tsarnaev had left some hours earlier. The FBI says the accused men described how, while watching a movie in the room, they noticed a backpack containing seven red tubes of fireworks, emptied of their explosive powder. Kadyrbayev, by now sure of Tsarnaev's involvement in the bombings, admitted to agents that he decided to remove the backpack "in order to help his friend Tsarnaev avoid trouble". The trio are also accused of removing Tsarnaev's laptop, which they took in order not to alert the roommate's suspicions about the backpack. They went back to the New Bedford apartment, and Kadyrbayev later threw the backpack into a dumpster, according to the affidavit. FBI officers first detained and questioned the trio four days after the Boston bombings. The three were released, but the Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov were later taken back into custody and held by immigration authorities, accused of having overstayed their student visas. The complaint alleges that Phillipos lied to investigators when he was first questioned, insisting that he had not played any role in the disposal of the evidence. Law enforcement officers later recovered the backpack and its contents from a landfill waste site. There is nothing in the criminal charge sheet to suggest that the three accused men were involved in planning the marathon bombings on 15 April. Their alleged offences are confined to events after the attacks had taken place. But in a footnote to the charge sheet, the FBI said that about a month before the bombing, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev that he knew how to make a bomb. Lawyers for the two Kazakh men made separate statements outside court in Boston in which they said their clients were innocent of the charges. Robert Stahl, representing Kadyrbayev, said the 19-year-old and his family were "just as shocked and horrified by the violence in Boston" as the rest of the country, and that Kadyrbayev "had nothing to do" with it.
'Co-operating with the authorities'
Stahl, a New Jersey-based attorney who specialises in representing people from the former Soviet Union, stressed that his client had been fully co-operating with the FBI and that he had no inkling that the items removed from Tsasrnaev's dorm room were connected to the bombings. He said that contrary to the information in the charge sheet which lists Kadyrbayev as a student of UMass Dartmouth, he was in fact an engineering student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and had violated his student visa because he had attended classes so irregularly.Harlan Protass, representing Tazhayakov, also stressed that his client was co-operating with the authorities. "He was shocked to hear that someone who he knew was involved in the Boston marathon bombing. He considers it an honour to be able to study in the United States, and he feels for the people of Boston who have suffered," Protass said. In the two weeks since the bombing, more than 1,000 FBI agents have been dedicated to the task of finding out how the bombings were planned and, crucially, whether there was a wider network of support behind the bombers. Early indications from the inquiry have pointed to the brothers acting largely alone, though federal agents continue to look closely at a six-month trip taken last year by Tamerlan Tsarnaev to the troubled region of Dagestan in Russia, where his parents live. On Tuesday, a lawyer for the widow of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Katherine Russell, said she has declined to claim his body and instead authorised his family to collect it. Amato DeLuca said in a statement that his client had just learned that the medical examiner was ready to release Tsarnaev's body, and that she wants it released to the Tsarnaev family. An uncle of the brothers, Ruslan Tsarni, told the Associated Press that the family would take the body. "Of course, family members will take possession of the body," said Tsarni, of Montgomery Village, Maryland. "We'll do it. We will do it. A family is a family." He did not give any further details of the arrangements. DeLuca said Tamerlan Tsarnaev's widow met law enforcement officials "for many hours over the past week" and would continue co-operating. FBI agents on Monday visited her parents' home in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, where she has been staying, and carried away several bags.

Girl, 4, dies after rape in India

A week after the news of a child rape sparked protests in India, hospital officials confirmed the rape of another girl. The 4-year-old died Monday from cardiac arrest at Care Hospital in Nagpur, India, a spokesman said. A 35-year-old man has been arrested and accused of sexually assaulting the girl, said Mithilesh Shukla, superintendent of police.It is the latest in a number of assaults that caused outrage and raised questions about how women and girls are treated in India. The girl was allegedly abducted from Ghansaur, a small town in central India, on April 17, and her family found her the next day, unconscious and with severe head injuries, Shukla said.She was airlifted to the hospital in Nagpur and put on a ventilator but did not survive. "The doctors tried very hard but were not successful," hospital spokesman P.S. Shriram said. Police say the suspect, Firoz Khan, has confessed to the assault."We hope from the administration, the police and the court that a fast-track court will hear the case and that the accused will be given the death sentence," said one of the girl's relatives, Aalok Vajpayee. Last week, two arrests were made in the case of another victim, a 5-year-old girl who was raped in New Delhi. The assaults on the girls came just four months after a 23-year-old physiotherapy student was gang-raped in a bus in New Delhi, setting off furious protests in India. She later died at a Singapore hospital. After the attacks, the country's news media turned their attention to some of the thousands of rape cases reported in the nation each year. In a recent report, the Asian Center for Human Rights cited statistics that it said showed 48,338 child rape cases were reported in India between 2001 and 2011. The report said the number of cases rose from 2,113 in 2001 to 7,112 in 2011.

Sarabjit Singh: '' Prisoners, not pawns ''

The Hindu
There is simply no excuse for what happened to Sarabjit Singh in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail. The death row prisoner was in judicial custody, and Pakistani jail officials were duty bound to ensure his safety, as of every other prisoner in their charge. In Sarabjit’s case, they were also aware of specific threats to his life. Jihadi outfits had pledged to avenge the hanging of Ajmal Kasab, and later of Afzal Guru, and Sarabjit’s lawyer had petitioned the jail and the Punjab government for more security to his client. Condemned prisoners are locked up in individual cells. Going by reports, he was assaulted by two other inmates with bricks, rods, and sharp-edged utensils during his daily walk in the jail compound. The intention was to kill him. Even if not directly involved, the jail’s officials must be held responsible for dereliction. Just three months ago, another Indian prisoner, Chamel Singh, was brutally murdered in Kot Lakhpat. It is not known if any prisoner was charged for that killing, or if any officials were taken to task. But clearly, no one in authority was shaken enough to bring in measures to prevent such attacks from happening again. That would have emboldened Sarabjit’s attackers. If this murderous attack does not awaken both Pakistan and India to the shabby treatment they mete out to each other’s nationals in their jails, nothing can. Sarabjit was convicted for carrying out four bomb attacks in Lahore and Faisalabad in 1990 that killed 14 people and left 80 wounded, over his protestations that he was a victim of mistaken identity. Despite the opposition in Pakistan to the release of a terror convict, there was a time in 2008 when the newly elected Pakistan People’s Party government seriously considered this — it indefinitely put off his hanging — as a goodwill gesture towards India. This though is the real problem. Whether it is Sarabjit, or the other Indians and Pakistanis locked up in each other’s jails for far less — overstaying, fishing in each other’s waters — their fate gets enmeshed in the larger bilateral relationship. Prisoners, most of them poor and marginal in their own countries, are treated like bargaining chips, to be released only if goodwill needs to be shown to the other side, long after sentence completion. Not surprisingly, the recommendations of a commission comprising judges from both countries for quick release and repatriation of prisoners charged with minor offences have been implemented only in fits and starts. In turn, sometimes a single prisoner’s case, such as Sarabjit’s or Khalil Chishti’s, haunts relations. The first step out of this is for both countries to start treating each other’s nationals lodged in their jails as human beings instead of pawns.

Sarabjit Singh dies at Pakistan's Jinnah hospital
Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh died of cardiac arrest in a Lahore hospital on Thursday after being comatose for nearly a week following a brutal assault by other inmates of a high-security jail, officials said. "I received a call from the doctor on duty (at Jinnah Hospital) at 1 am (1:30 IST) informing me that Sarabjit is no more," Mahmood Shaukat, the head of a medical board that was supervising Sarabjit's treatment, said. Another doctor, who was part of the team treating Sarabjit said he died of cardiac arrest, adding that doctors made several unsuccessful attempts to resuscitate him. Officials of the Indian high commission in Islamabad said they had been informed by officials of Jinnah Hospital about Sarabjit's death. Shaukat said authorities were yet to decide on conducting an autopsy on Sarabjit's body. Asked whether the autopsy would be done after getting permission from the government, he said: "At the moment I have no idea." No decision had been made about handing over the body to Sarabjit's kin or to Indian authorities, he said. "These matters will be worked out according to the directions from the government," he said. Earlier in the day, official sources in Lahore had said Sarabjit had slipped into a "non-reversible" coma and this could lead to "brain death". His measurements on the Glasgow Coma Scale, which indicates the levels of consciousness and damage to a person's central nervous system, had dropped to a "critical level", the sources said. Sarabjit's heart was beating "but without brain function" because of the extensive head injuries he sustained when he was assaulted on Friday. He was completely unresponsive and unable to breathe without ventilator support. Sarabjit, 49, sustained severe injuries, including a fractured skull, when at least six prisoners attacked him in a barrack at Kot Lakhpat Jail on Friday afternoon. He was hit on the head with bricks and had been comatose in hospital since then. Police have booked two death row prisoners — Amer Aftab and Mudassar — for the attack. They reportedly told investigators that they had attacked Sarabjit because he had allegedly carried out bomb attacks in Lahore. No action has been taken so far against officials of the jail for failing to provide adequate security to Sarabjit. Sarabjit's wife Sukhpreet Kaur, daughters Poonam and Swapandeep Kaur and sister Dalbir Kaur, who went to Lahore on Tuesday to see him, have returned to India. Sarabjit was convicted of alleged involvement in a string of bomb attacks in Punjab province that killed 14 people in 1990 and spent about 22 years in Pakistani prisons. His mercy petitions were rejected by the courts and former President Pervez Musharraf. The previous Pakistan People's Party-led government put off Sarabjit's execution for an indefinite period in 2008. Sarabjit's family says he was the victim of mistaken identity and had inadvertently strayed across the border in an inebriated state. Following the rapid deterioration in Sarabjit's condition, New Delhi had requested that he be immediately released so that he could be treated in India or a third country. Pakistan had said it was "positively considering" the request to repatriate Sarabjit.

Unions, Bloggers, Lonely Girls Rally in Russia on Labor Day

Hundreds of thousands of people rallied across Russia on Wednesday to mark Labor Day with events ranging from Soviet-style state-endorsed marches to campaigns for promotion of European techno and single ladies’ rights. Moscow saw seven rallies, the biggest of them being a march of labor unions in Moscow, co-organized by the ruling United Russia party, which was attended by some 70,000 participants, according to the city police. It fell short of 2012, when some 150,000 attended a march on Day of Spring and Labor, as the holiday is officially called, though media claimed some participants were paid to attend. Columns were then joined by then-president-elect Vladimir Putin, who did not attend this year’s demonstration. The biggest rally this year took place in St. Petersburg, where 150,000 participated in the labor unions’ marched down the central Nevsky Prospekt, local police said. About 30 alleged anarchists were detained for trying to hijack the rally and clash with nationalists there, city media said. Moscow was also upstaged by the North Caucasus republic of Chechnya, where 120,000 rallied in the capital Grozny and another 210,000 across the rest of the region, according to figures by the rally organizers. Other large-scale rallies nationwide included a march of 40,000 in Khabarovsk, 35,000 in Vladivostok, 33,000 in Izhevsk, 25,000 in Volgograd and 20,000 in Yekaterinburg. In the far eastern city of Magadan, where some 15,000 took to the streets, a special place in the ranks was allotted for local bloggers, Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported, without providing their numbers. Several opposition groups also rallied Wednesday, chief among them the Communist Party, which maintains Labor Day traditions established in Soviet times, when the May 1 event was among the chief state holidays. The Communists’ biggest event in Moscow gathered 4,500, according to police estimates. The nationalists held two separate rallies in Moscow, the larger of which attracted 1,000 people, city police said. Though nationalist activists have a history of violent clashes with police and attacking migrants, the event in Moscow ended without any disturbances. The capital also premiered its two so-called “Hyde Parks,” or special reservations where mass gatherings can be held without special permits from authorities. The venues are situated in city parks and have a maximum capacity of 2,000 each. The “Hyde Parks” failed to attract any political groups, but instead hosted a slew of eccentric events including a Single Girls Rally, a rally against rude behavior and a dance flashmob to promote European hardcore techno.

May Day celebrations around the world - video

"د طالب پلوه وزیراعظم راوستو سازش روان دی"
د پاکستان د کیڼ اړخو ګوندونو عوامي نیشنل ګوند،متحده قامي مومنټ او پیپلز پارټي د چارواکو وینا ده چې په پاکستان کې ترهګرو او د هغو پلویانو ته د واک سپارلو سازش روان دی او هڅې کېږي چې طالب پلوه وزیراعظم راوستل شي . د یادو درې واړو ګوندونو مشرانو دا خبره بېګا شپه په کراچۍ کې د ایم کیو ایم ګوند په مرکز ناین زیرو کې د ګډې غونډې وروسته خبري کنفرانس ته وکړه. په دغه خبري غونډه کې د عوامي نیشنل ګوند د سند څانګې مشر سنیټر شاهي سید، د پیپلز ګوند رهنما او د کورنیوچارو پخواني مرکزي وزیر رحمان ملک او د ایم کیو ایم ګوند مرستیال کنوینر فاروق ستار ګډون لرلو. خبري ناستې ته په وینا کې د ایم کیو ایم ګوند مشر چارواکي ډاکټر فاروق ستار وویل چې په پاکستان کې د ۲۰۱۳ په ټاکنو کې درغلیو ته لار هواریږي نوموړي په دې کار کې د پاکستان او نړیوال اسټبلشمنټ ککړ وباله. (( موږ درې واړه ګوندونه دا غوښتنه کوو چې خپلواکې او په انصاف ولاړې ټاکنې دې ترسره شي په دې لړ کې دې د ټاکنو کمیشن، نګران حکومت او قانون نافذونکې ادارې خپل خپلې ذمه وارۍ پوره کړي )) خبري غونډې ته د عوامي نیشنل ګوند د سند صوبې مشر سنیټر شاهي سید په خپله وینا کې وویل چې دوی د ترهګرو د بمي حملو څخه نه ویریږي. هغه وویل د بمي حملو مقصد د لیبرل او روښنفکره قوتونو لپاره د پارلیمان مخه نیول او د ترهګرو پلوي ګوندونه پارلیمان ته رسول دي . د نوموړي په وینا که داسې وشول نو د پاکستان راتلونکی د غیر یقني صورتحال سره مخ کیدلی شي . سنیټر شاهي سید په دې اړه مشال ریډیو ته وویل: ((که دغه انتها پسند په پارلیمنټ کې هم کیني نو د پاکستان په حقله بیا ستاسو څه خیال دی؟ زه یقین لرم چې بیا به د پاکستان پوزیشن داسې وي لکه د یولسم ستمبر د پېښې روسته چې د افغانستان و. دنیا موږ ته دهشتګرد ریاست ویلی شي او په موږ بندیزونه لګولای شي. په داسې حال کې بیا له دوی سره وسایل څه دي ؟ له دوی سره مالومات څه دي؟ ددوی په دنیا کې د اوسیدو طور طریقه څه ده ؟ چې کله دا صورتحال دی چې ته د بل په پښو ولاړ یې نو بیا دړکې [ګواښونه] ولې کوې )) خبري غونډې ته د کورنیو چارو پخواني مرکزي وزیر او د پیپلز ګوند رهنما رحمان ملک هم وینا وکړه او وې ویل که د پنجاب حکومت د وسله والې ډلې لشکر جنګوي په ضد عملیات کړی وې نو نن به د کراچۍ په ګډون د پاکستان په نورو برخو کې د ټاکنیز کمپین په مهال بدامني نه وې: ((دې وایي دوي غواړي یو طالب پلوه وزیراعظم راوستل شي ، دا د پاکستان د ماتولو په ضد دا یو سازش دي)) په یاده غونډه کې د درې واړو ګوندونو مشران په دې سره سلا شوي دي چې د ترهګرو په وړاندې به خپلې سیاسي مبارزې ته دوام وربخښي .

Analysis: Attacks on ANP spur pre-poll rigging buzz

The Express Tribune
As Pakistan’s chequered democracy gears up for the upcoming general elections, fears of violence against mainstream political parties overshadow campaigning. With polls hardly a month away, political campaigning has not yet gained momentum in Peshawar and other parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Awami National Party (ANP), one of the largest political forces in the province, is being targeted with increased frequency. The party has come under attack at least seven times over the past few weeks, forcing the caretaker government to call an all-parties conference (APC) to devise a mechanism to cope with the threats. However, political parties do not appear to be united on the issue. This was evident from their participation in the APC. Only the ANP and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) were represented by senior leaders – ANP’s provincial president and PML-N’s central general secretary. Other parties sent their second and third-tier leadership to the conference. The parties which have not received direct threats from the Taliban are free to campaign and approach the public. Thus, they seem to be unperturbed by the threats faced by ANP and other ‘secular’ parties. However, they must understand increasing attacks and the resultant environment of fear is affecting interaction between voters and politicians – a basic prerequisite for democracy. A testament to the ANP’s predicament is the fact that a few days before being targeted by a suicide bomber, former railways minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour was scheduled to address a corner meeting in Dourah Road, Peshawar. When Bilour arrived at the site, only a handful of people were present to hear him speak. The former minister returned without delivering his speech, saying he could not address children. Interestingly enough, the Dourah Road area falls in the Kakshal neighbourhood, which is widely regarded as the party’s stronghold in Peshawar. The current situation is likely to have long-lasting effects on the country’s political landscape, which is just emerging from the shadows of military rule. A vibrant democracy and increased public participation can mature the country’s political culture and help it come out of the clutches of tribal, family and personal influences. However, now it seems the country will relapse into the Ziaul Haq referendum-like situation, wherein voting for the dictator was equated with endorsing Islam. Khadim Hussain, analyst and educationist at Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU), Islamabad views Pakistan’s politics as divided into two types. One advocates centrist or elitist ideals and believes that people cannot choose for themselves and they should be guided in doing so. The other group, according to Khadim, mostly evolved under nationalist parties and believes in democracy, decentralisation and public beneficial policies. Khadim argues the Taliban’s actions are a result of the centrists’ discourse, having evolved from the same ideals. “When only a few parties are being targeted, it becomes the state’s responsibility to provide a level playing field for all stakeholders,” said Khadim, adding in such a situation, people will definitely assume it is pre-poll rigging because certain groups are not being allowed to participate in the election process. Talking about the consequences of such forced exclusions, Khadim pointed out passionate activists of these parties may question the authority of the state, saying it failed to protect them. “Such a clash between liberal militancy and religious militancy can weaken Pakistan’s institutions,” he warned.


PMLN’s shameless shenanigans continue nevertheless

A lot has been written on this forum condemning the mainstream parties’ collaboration with the extremists in the forthcoming elections. We have also explained how these elections have paved the way for the extremists in the mainstream politics. Having now found an entry, going forward their main task would be to eliminate their rivals from the arena to consolidate their power. As a first step towards that, we are witnessing TTP’s cleverly orchestrated attacks on the parties they deem too secular to be a part of our scheme of democracy, while it lasts. Here I am confronted with another news item in arguably the most respected newspaper in the country. It explains how PMLN is shamelessly wooing the extremists in a constituency in Chakwal. This is just an example of what PMLN (in particular) and some other parties’ candidates are seeking in many other constituencies, especially across Punjab. As we all know, not very long ago PMLN was considering an overt party-level electoral adjustment with ASWJ (a camouflage for the dreaded SSP). While this would have pleased Sharifs’ Saudi patrons no end, PMLN had to back off in the face of strong opprobrium the news generated in Pakistan. This is a deplorable display of political expediency on the part of Sharifs, as we are aware of the perils the extremists pose to equality, peace, and democracy. AWSJ’s leader Ludhianavi and many others in the party have openly called for discrimination against Shias, and the minorities. Once in the mainstream politics, they would connect with their support base by doing exactly what they vouch and are supported for. Hence, there are dangers in ignoring the true nature of PMLN’s political stance and view its widespread flirtation with the extremists as individual local tactics of some candidates. Shouldn’t a national party like PMLN emphatically reject the divisive populism of hatred preached by AWSJ? Politics should be about bringing people together and working for everyone in our society – something AWSJ will never do. Shouldn’t the bomb blasts across Pakistan remind us where the extremist ideas of the far right can lead? As a matter of record I am against all mainstream parties alliance with the sectarian outfits from any sect. Unfortunately all religious parties in Pakistan are sectarian and they peddle lies and play on people’s prejudices or fears. But if you believe in democratic ideals and freedom of speech you have to expose them for what they are and not forge alliances with them. There is no straightforward recipe on how to deal with more rabidly sectarian parties but clearly political isolation is a better bet than collaboration and adaptation, which will only strengthen their hand to politicize their main respective issue(s).

Pakistani Liberals under attack: Two PPP workers shot dead in Lyari

Two young workers of the Pakistan People’s Party were killed in Lyari on Tuesday while they were busy making arrangements for a corner meeting in the area as part of the ongoing election campaign in an armed attack that also left two men and a nine-year-old girl wounded, police and party sources said. They said that six men on two motorbikes targeted Haji Guddu and Niaz Tajuddin near Mirza Adam Khan Road when they were sitting on the corner of a street after putting up party flags in the area. The intense firing also left two men, Mohammad Tasleem and Mohammad Saleem, and a nine-year-old girl, Ruqayya, wounded. “The motive for the firing is not yet clear,” said SP-Lyari Najam Tareen. “The attackers were on motorbikes, and we have talked to people from different parties in the area and they are blaming rival groups for the deadly incident. The investigations are in a very early phase and it would be too early to reach any conclusion.” Though the police authorities sounded reluctant to blame political reasons as the motive for the deadly attack, the PPP candidate for the Sindh Assembly from the constituency was sure that “political rivals” in the “PPP stronghold” were attacking his workers to keep the party away from the electoral process. “There is a corner meeting scheduled for Wednesday and the attack was carried out to sabotage that activity,” said Javed Nagori, the PPP candidate from PS-108. “But we are not scared and would carry on our plans. The PPP workers and candidates are under severe threat in this area as our rivals know that they can win from every part of Karachi but not from here. So they have chosen the brutal way to eliminate us from Lyari.” ST activist gunned down As the tension prevailed in Lyari, armed attackers struck again in North Karachi and this time the victims were Sunni Tehreek workers. The area police said that armed men fired shots at 35-year-old Faraz Qadri and 30-year-old Qamar Qadri near the Power House roundabout. “Both were shifted to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, where Faraz died from the wounds. The victims were residents of Sector 8 North Karachi and associated with the Sunni Tehreek,” said an official. Earlier, a pickup driver was gunned down in the Malir area. The area police said that armed men fired shots at 50-year-old Ghulam Muhammad near Bijju Farms while he was driving to home. “The victim was a resident of Agra Taj Colony and owned a Suzuki pickup,” said an official at the Memon Goth police station. “He used to visit this area for his transportation work. He was intercepted by armed riders and it’s still not clear if it was a mugging attempt or deliberate murder.” Tension gripped parts of the old city area after the killing of a young man in an armed attack on a chemical shop in Kharadar. The area police said that armed men on a motorbike fired multiple shots at Gharib Nawaz Chemical in Nanak Wara along the Napier Road. “The firing left 35-year-old Abdul Qadir critically wounded and later he died from the wounds in the Civil Hospital during treatment. The victim was a resident of the Pan Mandi area and worked at the shop as a salesman,” said an official at the Kharadar police station. Three bullet-riddled bodies were found in different areas. All the victims remained unidentified. In the early hours of the day a young man, apparently in his mid-20s, was found shot dead near the Mira Naka bridge within the remit of the Shershah police station. A few minutes later the body of another young man was found in the Mewashah graveyard within the remit of the Pak Colony police station. In the second half of the day, an aged man was found shot dead in the Pakhtunabad area of the Manghopir police station. The body was moved to the Edhi morgue after medico-legal formalities at the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital for want of identification.

Pakistan: May 11 to be a battle between progressives and the extremists

Clearly not reassured by General Kayani’s statement on Tuesday that the election will be held on time, the leaders of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) and Awami National Party (ANP) on Wednesday called upon ulema and scholars to issue a fatwa against terrorism and termed the elections as a battle between forces which were for and against the Taliban. They also expressed apprehensions as to whether elections in the current circumstances could be held in a free and transparent manner. These three parties have been facing terrorist attacks recently forcing them to restrict their election campaigns. Dozens of political activists from PPP, MQM and ANP have been killed in these attacks. PPP’s Rehman Malik, MQM’s Farooq Sattar and ANP’s Shahi Syed addressed a news briefing in Karachi on Wednesday. In an apparent reference to PML-N and PTI, they questioned why some political parties had been given freedom to carry out their election activities while others have become constant target for the extremists. They said a conspiracy was being hatched to ensure that right wing parties come to power in the May 11 elections. They urged the people to support them in the polls and defeat the "nefarious designs of extremists and terrorists". MQM’s Farooq Sattar said progressive parties were being prevented from actively participating in election campaigns. “The election campaign is being dictated by the Taliban and not the Election Commission,” he asserted. The leaders of PPP, MQM and ANP welcomed the remarks of General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani that the war against terrorists was Pakistan’s war. - See more at:

Are Pakistan and Islam really inseparable?

At a time when the world was hoping to see a shift in Pakistan's policies towards Islamism, its military chief Kayani made sure that nobody should be under any illusion. Pakistan and Islam can't be separated, he said. The Taliban have proven time and again that they can attack anybody anywhere in Pakistan, with impunity. They have not only targeted civilians but, over the years, have also killed thousands of Pakistani soldiers. The Pakistani military is still battling with the Islamist militants in northwestern areas close to the Afghan border. The protracted Islamist insurgency has shaken the Islamic republic, whose economy is already in a shambles. As the country gears up for the next parliamentary elections on May 11, the Taliban have increased their attacks on the members of liberal parties. Experts are apprehensive whether the elections will take place on time. They might be postponed for an indefinite time - something the Islamists are believed to want. Yet, the head of the Pakistani military General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani - arguably the most powerful man in Pakistan - told the world that Pakistan was not ready to change its decades-old policy of supporting the religious right.Pakistan was created in the name of Islam and Islam can never be taken out of Pakistan," Kayani said to his cadets at a military training academy in Kakul last month. Experts say that Kayani's statement is a reminder to secular Pakistanis and also to the West that his country will not abandon its support to religious groups with which Islamabad seeks to take leverage in Afghanistan and Kashmir.
More Islamization
Liberal Pakistanis were hoping that the Pakistani military would openly criticize the Taliban and their supporters and act against them. To their dismay, the army chief chose to tell them again about the role of Islam in Pakistani politics. "Kayani's statement should be looked at in the context of how Pakistan sees itself in the future," Farooq Sulehria, a London-based Pakistani researcher and political analyst, told DW. "It seems that the ground is being laid for a de-liberalized democracy in Pakistan where you can vote but can't challenge the Islamic foundation of the state. The fact that the Islamist militants can easily attack liberal parties is an indication." Sulehria said that, although Kayani - whose institution architects the major policies of the state - reminded the Pakistani people of Pakistan's "ideological foundations" repeatedly, his recent statement was a signal that the Pakistani military establishment was holding on to Islamic ideology even more firmly. "The military wants an elected government which can unite the country in the name of Islam and follow its dictation on domestic and foreign policies," Sulehria said. "They look inspired by the Egyptian model of democracy with a strong flavor of shariah. In other words, Kayani is telling that world: 'You want democracy in Pakistan? Okay, we want it too, but it will be an Islamic democracy.’" Yasir Dildar, a Canada-based Pakistani researcher, told DW that the Pakistani right-wing would be certainly pleased to hear such statements coming from one of Pakistan's most powerful men. "It reinforces the perception that the military establishment always supports Islamic groups." Experts fear that Pakistan would plunge into a deeper turmoil, if it pursued its support for the right-wing. "You expected Pakistan to abandon its support to the Taliban and other Islamists? Forget about it. The military is going for more Islamization of the state," a journalist in Karachi told DW on condition of anonymity. "You are talking about an army which did not change its policies after massacring millions of Bengalis in the former East Pakistan in 1971. What is happening in Pakistan now is nothing in comparison to that."
Legitimate concerns?
Apart from the Pakistani military's focus on maintaining its control on domestic politics by using the Islamic narrative, experts also say that the army is rightfully concerned about the regional situation in which India is emerging as a dominant force. They say that until the regional dynamics undergo a transformation, it would be unrealistic to expect that Pakistan would change its policies. Pakistan, they say, feels threatened by growing Indian influence in Kabul and believes that it can use groups like the Taliban as a bargaining chip while dealing with the West and India in relation to Afghanistan. Siegfried O'Wolf, a political science expert at Heidelberg University, said he was convinced that several elements within the Pakistan security apparatus still believed that the Taliban could be used as a strategic tool to counter Indian presence in Afghanistan. "On one hand, Pakistan's recent rapprochement efforts with Afghanistan and the possible cooperation between the Afghan and Pakistani forces look quite promising, but on the other hand, the recent statements of the Pakistani military chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani about the vitality of Islam in Pakistan's policymaking can be interpreted as an indication that Pakistan will pursue the same old policies in future too," Wolf told DW. That the US and Afghanistan now want to negotiate with the Taliban without Islamabad's involvement is also not going down well with the Pakistani government, say experts.The US is winding-up its operations in Afghanistan after a decade-long war against Islamist militants. NATO troops are scheduled to withdraw from war-torn Afghanistan in 2014. For more than a year, the US and the Afghan government have been trying to engage in "peace talks" with the Taliban to ensure a smooth transition of power in Afghanistan. They have so far been unsuccessful. Pakistan is not cooperating, some analysts believe. "Washington and Kabul want to take the Taliban on board, and there are reports that they are already conducting secret talks with some of their factions, but they want to exclude Pakistan from these negotiations. That, in my opinion, is the biggest hurdle in US-Pakistani relations and why Pakistan is sticking to its Afghanistan policy," Dr. Naeem Ahmed, professor of International Relations at the University of Karachi, told DW. Pakistan rights activists and liberal analysts, however, have an alternative theory: that the regional threat is merely an excuse for the Pakistani military to maintain a firm grip on Pakistan's domestic politics.

Bangladesh: Rekindling spirit of May Day

Every year, we revisit the sad event where workers were shot dead by US police in 1886. Their demand for an eight-hour work day was met by gunshots. It is ironic that this year’s observance in Bangladesh of the Day that established workers’ right to specific working hours is clouded by the death of nearly 400 people trapped under the rubble of a shoddily constructed factory building in Savar. With numerous more maimed and injured, the question may well be asked, have we progressed much in way of ensuring workers’ rights since that fateful day in 1886? Workers’ plight in the country remains sad, to say the least. The Rana Plaza incident highlights not only the dilapidated conditions in which they must toil away, everyday, but brings to light the fact that workers in the $19 billion dollar per annum export-driven industry have no rights worth the name. They are barred from forming unions that could act as a collective bargaining agent to take up issues of contention with the management. Appalling working conditions coupled with unscheduled long hours of work characterise a typical day on an average factory floor; health and sanitation issues are hardly considered important; and meagre wages are doled out for a life in the slums. While May Day has been observed each year with much fervour and fanfare, it takes an incident like the fire at Tazreen Fashion or the collapse of Rana Plaza to shatter our comfort zone and point out just how much yet remains to be done for ensuring the rights of not just the industrial workers, but also of the struggling masses as a whole. Let the event of April 24 galvanise the nation to demand a guarantee for all workers’ rights in the country.

Bangladesh: Death toll of the deadly building collapse now stands 405

Rescuers pulled out 17 more bodies from the debris of Rana Plaza in Savar as the rescue operation stepped into eighth straight day on Wednesday. With the fresh recovery, the death toll of the deadly building collapse now stands 405 according to an account of Dhaka District control room which is opened to provide information on the Savar tragedy. No person was rescued alive in the last two days, keeping the figure of survivors unchanged at 2,437. Rescuers gave up hope of finding any more alive seven days after the tragedy. So far, 149 people remain missing, said Maj Gen Chowdhury Hasan Suhrawardy of the 9th Infantry Division quoting Dhaka District control room sources. The control room made a list of missing people following the claims of the relatives whose near and dear ones still remain out of trace following the building collapse. People believe that unnumbered decomposed bodies remain stuck in concrete slabs of the sandwiched building. The number of death toll might be rise when the rescuers would manage to go into the tightly packed floors of the building, locals said. On April 24, the nine-storey Savar building housing five garment factories, a branch of Brac Bank and a shopping mall collapsed, trapping several thousand people, mostly garment workers, inside it. The frantic search and rescue operation however is going on as the rescuers have been using heavy equipment to remove the slabs of concrete from the ruins. They are also using trained dogs to trace the dead. “It could take another 12 to 15 days to remove the debris if a concerted effort is made,” Lt Col Moin Uddin of Third Engineering Battalion (Savar Cantonment) told The Daily Star on Tuesday. However, it might not be possible as the rescuers become careful whenever a body is found, he mentioned.

May 1 celebrations in Russia

Russia & India Report
By: Elena Revinskaya
The May Day demonstration was a very enjoyable event for Soviet children, who would start getting ready for it a few weeks in advance. We had to make paper flowers and stick it to the twigs so they would look like apple tree blossoms.
The May holidays in Russia, which have always been celebrated with a lot of pride and passion, start with May 1, International Labour Day. The country first celebrated Labour Day way back in 1890, decades before the formation of the Soviet Union. Initially it was called ‘Day of International Solidarity of the Labour Class.’ In 1997, the name was changed to ‘Labour and Spring Day.’ It has always being a symbol of revolution and the never-ending fight between rich and poor classes. From 1917, May 1 demonstrations were always influenced by the Communist Party. Millions of workers would attend demonstrations all over the country. They would carry various slogans, such as “All power to the Soviets” and “All power to the labour class.” Ironically, the mostly political gatherings slowly lost their political colour. For us, Soviet children, the run up to May 1 was always a very happy time for several reasons. There was a great anticipation of the time off from school. Usually we had 2 days off and after a weak another holiday would come - May 9th - World War 2 Victory Day.The May Day demonstration was a very enjoyable event to attend and we would start getting ready few weeks in advance. We had to make paper flowers and stick it to the twigs so they would look like apple tree blossoms. We had to take out balloons from cupboards. We had to make red paper flags to bring to the demonstration. Everybody was happy and the children danced, waved flags and balloons. The festivities were full of positive energy. Now those days are gone and are a part of history like the Soviet Union itself. The celebratory aspects are gone for today’s children, though they are still excited about the holidays and spring. Nowadays, Labour Day is also celebrated in India but I don’t think anybody gives enough importance to this holiday. Someone I know here cracked a joke that on Labour Day people should work the hardest and not have the day off. One of my Russian friends commented that in Russia before people have a day off, they work hard contributing to society by cleaning the streets. That was called ‘Subbotnik’ meaning something that is done on Saturday. This tradition came from Soviet Collectivism. Everybody would receive a notice about what time to come for Subbotnik. There would be organisers who would allocate areas to people. We would come prepared: wearing old cloths, gloves, bringing brooms and shovels. It was collective effort to contribute to society; everybody contributed and the experience was satisfying. I think India could definitely benefit from this practice. Maybe then more Indians would value International Labour Day.

Obama defends FBI, praises Russia after Boston bombings

U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday defended the performance of law enforcement authorities including the FBI and praised the Russian side's cooperation following the Boston bombings. Speaking at a White House news conference, Obama told reporters that all the U.S. law enforcement officials had performed in "an exemplary fashion" after the Boston bombings took place on April 15. Obama moved on to defend the country's national security team over reports about the alleged lack of enough intelligence sharing prior to the Boston bombings. "But what I can say is that based on what I've seen so far, the FBI performed its duties. Department of Homeland Security did what it was supposed to be doing," said Obama. However, the President acknowledged that the Russian intelligence services had alerted U.S. intelligence about the older suspect in the case and the FBI had investigated him and concluded there were "no signs that he was engaging in extremist activity." "It's not as if the FBI did nothing. They not only investigated the older brother, they interviewed the older brother," said he. Obama stressed that one of the dangers the country now faces is "self-radicalized individuals who are already here in the United States, in some cases may not be part of any kind of network, but because of whatever warped twisted ideas they may have, may decide to carry out an attack." "And those are, in some ways, more difficult to prevent," said he. Obama also said the Russians had been "very cooperative" with the U.S. authorities since the Boston Marathon bombings. He noted that he had spoken directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was committed to cooperation in investigation to the Boston bombings and counterterrorism issues. But he acknowledged that there were still "suspicions sometimes " between the two countries' intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Twin explosions occurred on April 15 near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and wounding 264. The FBI identified two brothers, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev and 19- year-old Dzhokar Tsarnaev, as suspects behind the Boston bombings. The elder brother died after a shootout with the police. Dzhokar Tsarnaev was apprehended four days after the bombings and charged last week with using a weapon of mass destruction against persons and property. The White House news conference comes on the 100th day of the president's second-term. Obama answered a wide range of questions from foreign policy issues related to Syria to domestic issues on immigration reform and gun control, regarded as two top legislative priorities in his second-term.

‘Birther’ lunacy leaves all Republicans painted as racist crackpots

The racist and lunatic crusade to prove that US President Barack Obama, a native-born American, is not eligible to hold office has now been going for over five years. This crusade has involved faking documents, claiming that real documents are fake and spurious claims of conspiracy. These "birthers" as they have become known, make up a substantial portion of the Republican voting base, with 64 percent of Republicans claiming to believe that the president is hiding some information about his past that may relate to his eligibility for the presidency. The core of this is the desperation to find some way to deny the legitimacy of a black president. However, far from being a danger to Obama, birther mania has actually helped his political agenda and has, more often than not, left the Republican Party on the political defensive. It is important to note that the legal question of Obama's eligibility for the presidency has been settled beyond any possible doubt. Every attempt that has been made to cast legal questions on the president's legitimacy has been refused by the courts. Continuing birther legal attacks on Obama have become the objects of mockery among the public, as well as providing fodder for comedians. The first advantage the birther movement has provided Obama is that it has worked to divide and discredit the Republican Party, commonly known as the GOP, for "grand old party." The GOP's leadership understands how damaging this movement is to the GOP's public image among independents and minorities alike, both of whom are well aware of its thinly disguised racist origins. Because of this, the party cannot adopt the birther platform, and yet must also step carefully in order to avoid antagonizing the significant percentage of the GOP who fervently believe in this theory. Even more damagingly, some prominent birthers make it impossible for the GOP to simply ignore the movement. The property tycoon Donald Trump, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and other nationally known figures have all made birther claims, and yet none of them have been able to show any evidence for their claims. This is especially true in the case of Arpaio, whose birther claims appear to be in response to the ongoing civil rights investigation targeting his department, leading many to believe that in addition to being irrational, his attacks are motivated by a selfish desire to distract the public from his own misdeeds. Arpaio's decision to send a "posse" to Hawaii added a ridiculous air to the entire situation. Worst of all for the GOP is the fact that it finds itself in the position of being unable to simply denounce the movement on a party-wide base, for fear of antagonizing birther supporters. Even attempts by such former party luminaries as Karl Rove and Colin Powell have had little success in creating the party-wide action that is needed to fully distance the GOP from the birthers' toxic beliefs. While this will not harm some Republicans, particularly those seeking election in conservative districts, Republicans facing seriously contested elections may find the birther phenomena costing them the general election. Additionally, since the birther movement is a fundamentally racist phenomenon, this has harmed the GOP's standing among minorities at the very moment the party is attempting to court them. But even more damagingly for the GOP, birtherism makes it hard to take the Republican Party itself seriously. The image of self-identified Republicans ranting on about secret conspiracies and faked birth certificates will continue to have an impact even after Obama has left office, and will work to harm the GOP's image as a serious national party in the eyes of moderates and independents alike. Fundamentally, the birthers have done worse than make the GOP an object of anger. They have made it an object of ridicule. Every Republican who is or who can be branded a birther loses credibility in the public eye. No matter the subject these individuals are discussing, it will be filtered through the perception of their irrationality. In the long run, the end of Obama's time as president may help reduce the damage the birther movement has done to the GOP, but it will not eliminate it. From crazed court submissions to desperate pleas to the electoral college, the birther movement has helped brand the GOP as the home of irrational conspiracy theorists, all without any effort on the part of Obama or the Democrats. Ultimately, birthers may once again prove that it is far worse for a political movement to be laughed at than it is for it to be hated.

Erdoğan shooting himself in the foot

For the last two years Labor Day celebrations have no longer been a source of political tension in Turkey as in the past. It was Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) government which declared May Day a National holiday for labor, opening Istanbul’s Taksim Square back up to demonstrations. Taksim Square was the scene of tragedy back in 1977 when 34 people were killed, mostly crushed in the crowd when still unidentified people opened fire on hundreds and thousands of workers and demonstrators gathered there. It is true that there has been massive construction work going on around Taksim which might be a safety risk for masses to gather there. It is true that some trade unions were insisting perhaps too much on having the rally in Taksim, as an apex of symbolism. But the government could have taken precautions in the months leading up to May 1st in cooperation with the unions to have a safe rally there. Instead, Erdoğan was determined not to let the masses gather in the heart of Istanbul; possibly due to worries that the Labor Day rally could turn into a rally against the government by opposition groups. Some 27,000 policemen were mobilized in order to stop demonstrators from rallying to Taksim. Public transportation, including metro, city buses and ferries and boats commuting between the European and Asian banks of the Bosphorus were suspended. Police used water cannons, tear gas and baton charge in order to disperse the crowds. In Beşiktaş district, where Erdoğan’s Istanbul office is, the police intervened to the rally group of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in one of the worst cases on May Day. Gürsel Tekin, a deputy chairman for the party told reporters that the police sprayed gas in his face despite the fact that he declared his identity as a member of Parliament; later on he was hospitalized. At the end of the day, the picture is not a bright one for Erdoğan who is actually taking promising steps for domestic peace by initiating a dialogue process to bring an end to Turkey’s chronic Kurdish problem. Freedom of expression and demonstration for all groups in a society are important for domestic peace, too.

Turkish police fire teargas in May Day protests

Trains and ferries were canceled and hospital staff walked off the job in Greece on Wednesday as workers marked May Day with a strike against harsh austerity required by the country's foreign lenders. Elsewhere, Turkish riot police fired water cannon and tear gas to disperse crowds gathering in central Istanbul for a rally on what has become a traditional labor holiday. Greece's 24-hour walkout was called by its two major public and private sector unions. It is the latest in a long line of strikes and protests in the debt-laden country ravaged by its sixth year of recession and popular fury over wage and spending cuts. "Our message today is very clear: Enough with these policies which hurt people and make the poor poorer," Ilias Iliopoulos, general secretary of public sector union ADEDY, told Reuters. "The government must take back the austerity measures, people can't take it anymore." About 1,000 policemen were deployed in central Athens to handle any violence during the rallies, though participation is expected to be well below the levels of major protests last year when as many as 100,000 Greeks marched to the central Syntagma square chanting slogans. Demonstrators began to slowly gather in central squares in Athens to rally before marching to parliament, the site of frequent clashes between police and protesters in recent years. Unions expected turnout to be low with the traditional May 1 holiday falling just a few days before Greek Orthodox Easter, which meant public schools were shut and many workers had already left for vacation. Public transport in Athens was disrupted with buses and subways halted, while ships and ferries stayed docked at ports after seamen also walked off the job. Bank and hospital workers also joined the one-day strike. Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has sought to maintain a hard line against striking workers in a bid to show European Union and International Monetary Fund lenders - as well as the public - that he is determined to push through unpopular reforms. The lenders' decision to disburse long-delayed aid last year has eased fears that Greece could go bankrupt and be forced to leave the euro zone, but the country still faces deep challenges from a volatile social climate and domestic opposition to a reform program that includes firing civil servants. In Istanbul, thousands of police were stationed across the city center to block access to the main Taksim square as crowds of protesters converged in different parts of the city early in the morning attempting to storm police barricades.

Pakistan: May Day in a deceptive election scenario

BY LAL KHANThe political elite and superstructure that dominates this society in the current period have shown utter disdain towards the working classe. This year the May Day falls during the electoral campaign in Pakistan when the main contesting parties have nothing to offer the toiling masses of this country. All parties have a similar economic programme of neo-liberal market capitalism under the overarching political hegemony of the ruling elite. The main economic mantra is the notorious Direct Foreign Investment (DFI) to kick start the growth rate and to shore up the crumbling economy. There is nothing in their programme or in their rhetoric for the working masses apart from a vague allusion of creating an Islamic welfare state under various charity programmes to support the poorest sections of the society. The reality is that this policy of wooing foreign and local investment means an appeasement that will be catastrophic for the interests of the workers. Mainstream politicians actually represent the interests of the ruling classes and are advocating policies that will create favourable conditions for the investors to maximise their profits. This in other words means the imposition of more deregulation, liberalisation, restructuring, privatisation and downsizing. For workers this translates in to an end to job security, systemic elimination of pensions and bonuses, replacement of permanent employment with contract labour, end to health, education and other benefits including large scale redundancies. Investment in the manufacturing sector has nosedived on a world scale during the post-global capitalist crash of 2008, but whatever investment is taking place is capital intensive as oppose to labour intensive. This is the utilisation of more and more technology and robots in modern manufacturing investment that cuts labour costs and boosts up the rate of profits. That is why the corporate capitalists have tremendously become rich and accumulated obscene amounts of wealth even during recessionary periods. Workers internationally including in the advanced capitalist countries have not only lost jobs, benefits but have had their wages reduced and have to do multiple jobs to make ends meet. In Pakistan the industrial production and heavy manufacturing has been suffocating long before the world slump, the rest of the anaemic formal economy has also been going through a debilitating crisis but the 2008 crash further aggravated the economic catastrophe. The country has accumulated record debt, budget, fiscal, trade, and current account deficits. In the last fiscal year Pakistan had its lowest ever foreign and domestic investment. Forex reserves have depleted to a new low. What is keeping the country afloat is the informal sector or the black economy. This is more than two thirds of the country’s total economy. Its growth rate is nine percent as compared to the growth rate of about two percent of the formal economy. This informal sector provides 72.8 percent of employment and the black capital actually expedites and runs Pakistan’s economic cycle and the banking system. The astronomical price rises particularly in food and energy has had a devastating impact on society with poverty and misery stalking the land, as never before. The defeat of the movement in autumn and winter of 2007 followed by a democratic counter-revolution brought further agony and despair for the oppressed classes in society. This was accentuated by the severe economic attacks on the masses. The number of workers organised in the unions has declined to about two percent and even this is mainly in the public sector as the subsequent regimes prevented the formation of the unions in the private sector through brutal state repression and the attacks of the goons of the capitalist bosses. The official minimum wage hardly applied anywhere in private enterprises. Conditions of work have been despicable and long working hours were savagely applied to squeeze the workers to the full. Even in the state sector the workers were forced to retreat and concede hard won rights and conditions mainly due to betrayals by the reformist and compromising leaders of many trade unions. The PPP-led coalition government imposed the Thatcherite policy of public-private partnership and golden handshakes, causing disarray in the workers’ unity and a wedge in the class struggle. In spite of these setbacks there were several struggles of the proletariat. The most notable successes were the victories in the PIA and the KESC. But the main reason of the setbacks was a difficult objective situation and the absence of a revolutionary leadership. But this situation is not going to last for long. It is true the old left and intellectuals had written of the working class as a lost force and perceive the class struggle as an obsolete phenomena, the reality is that there is a seething revolt simmering in the working classes who have been subjected to such callous indifference and oppression by the ruling classes and treachery and betrayals by their compromised leaders. The May Day is commemorated every year in the memory of the Chicago workers who fought and laid their lives for the workers’ rights and the class struggle on the 1st of May, 1886. The founding conference of the second Marxist international decided to commemorate this day every year in the memory of the Chicago martyrs and to reiterate the necessity and victory of the class struggle through a socialist revolution for the emancipation of the human race. The May Day is the only commemoration that is celebrated across the world cutting across national frontiers, ethnic, racial, creed, caste, colour divisions and religious prejudices to uphold the unity of the class struggle. The Pakistani proletariat has glorious traditions of revolutionary class struggle. The relative inertia in this movement at the present period is a lull before the storm. The political elite and superstructure that dominates this society in the current period have shown utter disdain towards the working classes and are waging a political war against the toiling classes. They have an illusion that the working classes will not rise in revolt and is perhaps permanently tamed. Hence with a cynical indifference they treat the poor and the oppressed with contempt and denunciation. Sooner rather than later they would be in for a shock of their lives. Their social, economic and political edifice is plagued by the disastrous crisis that is raging in this historically redundant capitalist system. History is not on their side. They represent the past, the youth and workers are the music of the future. By shedding the prejudices of the past, once they reject the individualism imposed by the ethics and the hypocritical morality of this system they can unite and rise in a collective class struggle that will not only transform society but change the course of history.

30 Pakistani Christian struggling for UNHRC protection in Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, last Saturday on the April 27th over five hundred torture claimants and asylum seekers joined a protest against the “zero percent acceptance” . This protest was organized under non-profit, independent and a private organization called “Vision First”. These torture claimants told the interviewers, that many of them are living here for more than 10 years but the government wants them to go back to their countries where they can be persecuted. There are over 4000 who are hanging in the space for their future and waiting to put their first step on the land of freedom. Among these 4000 plus, there are 30 Pakistani Christians who were able to escape persecution and many were severely persecuted, falsely accused and threaten by the government and Muslim religious parties of Pakistan. They are very much under pressure, stressed and worried what will happen to them if they will be removed back to Pakistan. What Christians are facing in Pakistan has been noticed and seen by the international media and United Nations but failed to stop injustice, false accusations of blasphemy, killing, kidnapping, gang raping, property snatching, threat calls, church attacks etc. Once if someone is target by Muslim groups it's almost impossible for a person to escape. They can't go to police because police does not help them but always give favor to the Muslims. Because the entire Muslim community thinks that Christians are second class citizens and infidels therefor they have not equal rights with them which causing Christians to seek protection in different parts of the country but it seems there is no such place which you can say it's safe now. The 30 Pakistani Christians here in Hong Kong appeals to the government of Hong Kong for not to remove them back, but to protect them. Pakistani Christians are peaceful, loyal and good citizens. This is also an appeal to the international community to write to the government of Hong Kong the injustice what Christians are facing in Pakistan.

Pakistan military angered by treatment of Musharraf: reports

Pakistan's powerful army chief has suggested the military is unhappy with how authorities have treated former army chief and president Pervez Musharraf since his return from exile. A Pakistani court on Tuesday imposed a lifetime ban on Musharraf from contesting elections, undermining his efforts to regain influence by winning a seat in parliament. The former army chief returned in March after nearly four years of self-imposed exile to contest a May 11 general election, but election officers disqualified him because of court cases pending against him. In what newspapers described as a veiled reference to Musharraf's legal troubles, Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani said: "In my opinion, it is not merely retribution, but awareness and participation of the masses that can truly end this game of hide and seek between democracy and dictatorship." Kayani, arguably the most powerful figure in Pakistan, was delivering a Martyrs' Day speech at army headquarters. Newspapers carried his comments on front pages. The military has ruled Pakistan for than half of its 66-year-history, through coups or from behind the scenes. It sets security and foreign policy, even when civilian governments are in power. Current commanders have meddled less in politics, letting civilian governments take the heat for policy failures. But Kayani has had an uneasy relationship with civilian leaders, as well as an increasingly interventionist Supreme Court, which has questioned the military's human rights record. The chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, was embroiled in a confrontation with Musharraf, who removed him from office in 2007 after he opposed plans to extend the general's stay in power. Chaudhry was later reinstated. Musharraf's has been embroiled in legal issues since his return. He became the first former army chief to be arrested in Pakistan when police took him into custody at their headquarters last Friday, breaking an unwritten rule that the top ranks of the military are untouchable, even after they have retired. On April 20, a court remanded the former president in custody for two weeks, a term set to expire on May 4, as judges pushed ahead with plans to put Musharraf on trial for a crackdown on the judiciary during his time in office. On Tuesday, an anti-terrorism court in the garrison city of Rawalpindi put Musharraf on 14-day judicial remand for charges of failing to provide adequate security for former prime minister Benazir Bhutto before her 2007 assassination. Musharraf ousted then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a coup in 1999. Sharif is seen as the front-runner in the election.

Breaking barriers: In Lakki Marwat, women in vanguard of ANP campaign

The Express Tribune
Ka da zilmo na pora nash wa Garana watana jenakai ba da gatina (If the youth fails, Dear motherland, the girls will guard you)
This old Pashtho Tapa (form of poetry) pays tribute both to the Pakhtuns’ love for their homeland, and also to their indomitable spirit. In essence it means that defeat is unacceptable to the Pakhtuns. The Awami National Party, it seems, has taken this maxim to heart, remaining adamant not only in the face of competition from other parties but also in the face of constant militant attacks and threats. And in keeping with the couplet, it is the women of the ANP that are leading the charge, at least as far as Lakki Marwat is concerned. In Lakki Marwat, a southern district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, women are stepping forward to campaign for the ANP – going door-to-door and holding corner meetings to convince people to vote for the party. “Our campaigners focus on the women of the households who then go on to convince the men in their family,” Yasmeen Zai, a former MPA from K-P, told The Express Tribune. Her husband, Advocate Sadrauddin is contesting on PK-74 on an ANP ticket. These legions of female campaigners cover entire neighbourhoods armed only with red pamphlets which include a message from the ANP, along with a list of the party’s achievements. It’s a strategy forced on them by necessity, as the ANP is not able to campaign like other parties in the face of terrorist attacks. Their opponents are under no such constraints. The chief of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl recently held a public gathering in Lakki Marwat, while the party’s workers are campaigning freely day and night. On the other hand, the ANP cannot hold large public meetings, and even corner meetings are often cancelled since the police have restricted their movement due to the security threats. Aftab Munawar, a female ANP leader and worker told The Express Tribune that this is the time for the ANP’s rank and file to stand up and be counted. “I know that some people will say that it is not right for women to take an active part in politics … but it is not a sin to campaign for my party,” she said. Advocate Sadrauddin told The Express Tribune that he running against JUI-F’s Anwar Hayath and PPP’s Anwar Saifullah, both of whom are able to campaign openly – something that he cannot do. And even if he were to be able to move about freely, he says it’s a fact that the ANP’s influence in Lakki Marwat is not as strong as that of the JUI-F’s, which is why he is banking on the ANP’s female campigners to met his message to the people. They say that behind every successful man is a woman. In Lakki Marwat, if the ANP is successful despite the odds, behind them would be not one but a whole group of extremely motivated women.

Pakistan tops worst list for religious freedom
Religious freedom is under attack in Pakistan and the situation next door in Afghanistan is not that much better, despite an improvement since the country was ruled by the Taliban, a U.S. government advisory commission said in a report released Tuesday. “Pakistan represents the worst situation in the world for religious freedom for countries not currently designated as ‘countries of particular concern’ by the U.S. government,” the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said in its annual report. “The government of Pakistan continues to engage in and tolerate systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of freedom of religion or belief.” The report found that violations reached unprecedented levels because of growing incidents of sectarian violence against Shiite Muslims. The government also failed to protect Christians, Ahmadis and Hindus, it said. Knox Thames, the commission’s director of policy and research, said the situation in Pakistan is “reaching crisis proportions.” The commission repeated a recommendation it has made since 2002 that Pakistan be designated a “country of particular concern.” “The U.S. naming Pakistan as a country of particular concern would bring these challenges to the forefront of the U.S.-Pakistani bilateral relationship and hopefully move Pakistan to make concrete improvements,” Mr. Thames said. Because the commission’s role is advisory, the State Department is under no obligation to enforce its recommendations. The report says Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy law is often used to intimidate religious minorities. Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S., Sherry Rehman, is the subject of an anti-blasphemy lawsuit. The law, which came into effect during the dictatorship of Gen. Zia ul Haq in the 1980s, prescribes the death penalty for those perceived to have insulted Islam or Prophet Muhammad. While the government has not carried out any death sentences, extremists often take it upon themselves to execute those accused in blasphemy cases. In 2011, two prominent Pakistanis — Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic and Cabinet minister for minorities, and Salmaan Taseer, governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province — were assassinated for their criticism of the blasphemy law. A Pakistani Embassy spokesman in Washington did not comment on the report. On Afghanistan, the commission noted that compared with the brutal rule of the Taliban from 1996 to 2001, conditions for religious freedom have improved markedly. “However, comparisons to the abusive actions of the Taliban provide an incomplete and misleading picture,” the report says. “Dissenting members of the majority faith and minority religious communities continue to face significant restrictions on the free practice of religion. Governmental and non-state actors have taken action against individuals for activity deemed to be ‘un-Islamic.’” “In addition, the Afghan government remains unable to protect citizens against violence and intimidation by the Taliban and other armed groups,” it adds. Moreover, the report says, Afghan President Hamid Karzai undercut the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission when he dismissed three of its nine commissioners in December 2011. Janan Mosazai, a Foreign Ministry spokesman in Kabul, said the Afghan government is “fully committed to ensuring religious freedom for followers of all religions in Afghanistan, something our constitution is very clear about.” “We also need to compare conditions in Afghanistan today with the suffering and brutality that people of all faiths were subjected throughout the 1990s — first during the civil war and then under the Taliban regime,” Mr. Mosazai said in an email. In light of the withdrawal of most coalition combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, the commission recommended that the U.S. government increase and strengthen diplomatic, development and military engagement to promote human rights, especially religious freedom in the country. Afghanistan is at a critical junction, Mr. Thames said. “President Karzai’s recent call to crack down on ‘un-Islamic’ television programming demonstrates the tenuous nature of freedom of thought, conscience and religion,” he said. “To ensure the government does not adopt a Talibanesque system repressing independent thought, the United States should increase its promotion of human rights, especially religious freedom.” The report recommends that the secretary of State redesignate Myanmar, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan as countries of particular concern. In addition to Pakistan, six other countries — Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Vietnam — should be designated as countries of particular concern, it says.

Pakistan: The key issue

In most elections, the issues that determine winners and losers involve economic policies, matters such as welfare of the people and sometimes broader international concerns. All of these hold at least partially true for the polls in Pakistan on May 11. But there is another daunting concern that hangs over this process: that of security and how the coming elections can be kept free of (more) violence. Too much blood has been shed already, with at least 48 killed and over 200 injured since April 21. We have as yet seen no indication that there will be an end to this violence any time soon, with reports of more deaths, more attacks and more fear pouring in on a daily basis. In an effort to ensure balloting in a peaceful atmosphere, as peaceful as possible, the army high command has met to determine its plan, as per discussions with the Election Commission of Pakistan. Following a meeting of the corps commanders, it has been decided by the military top brass that 50,000 troops – including the Frontier Corps – will be posted throughout the country. ‘Sensitive’ polling stations have been identified in KP, Sindh and Balochistan where violence has run high and the death toll has been devastating, and an emergency force will also be kept at hand to deal with any unexpected situation that may arise. All this goes to show just how precarious things are. Despite the wishes of some parties, army personnel will not be present inside polling stations and the ISPR has made it quite clear that the ECP advice in this respect will be adhered too. And this is exactly how things should be. But it is still far too early to say we have warded off trouble. We still do not know what will happen next. This is perhaps most true of the troubled province of Balochistan, where nationalist forces have also been involved in violence. On Monday, at the request of provincial authorities, the deployment of 15,000 military and paramilitary forces was begun in Balochistan. Nine districts are being covered first. Others are to follow. But there are also other problems authorities need to tackle in this province. Associations of teachers and lecturers have said they will not be performing polling duties due to the security situation. The overall scenario, then, is not a happy one at all. The tensions are palpable and, given where things stand, we can only hope the military security plan will work, enabling the conduct of peaceful elections during which people will feel safe in going to polling stations and voting. Whether we will succeed in doing this has become the most pressing issue of all as polling day draws nearer.

Pakistan: Need to speak up: Condemning election violence

THE joint statement on Monday from the PPP, MQM and ANP in Karachi saying that the parties would contest the elections despite the terrorist violence they have been confronted with is a bold move. It reflects political maturity as these very parties have in the past fought it out between themselves on the streets of Karachi. In fact, the statement in Karachi should be echoed by the parties’ top leaders at a national level. Obviously there has been a realisation that there is a bigger common enemy (religious extremists, mainly the TTP) to contend with and there is more at stake (the democratic transition) here than petty political gains. After all, these three parties have been most affected by the violence: the ANP has relentlessly been targeted in KP and the MQM’s election offices in Karachi have been bombed while one of its candidates was killed in Hyderabad. The PPP has not even begun its campaign due to the security situation. It is also important that the parties have called for the elections to be held on time. A delay will only serve as a victory for the militants. That is why it is essential that the state vastly improves its security measures. All parties must send out a strong message of having polls on time and not bowing to the extremists’ tactics on the national stage. In particular, those parties need to speak up who have escaped the militants’ wrath so far. After much debate Imran Khan has spoken out against the targeting of political parties, even if this has come in the form of making an appeal to the militants to cease their campaign of destruction. At least he has spoken up. On the other hand, major political forces such as Nawaz Sharif and the religious parties have either remained silent or been ambiguous in their condemnation of pre-poll violence. JI chief Munawar Hassan has called for an “all-party conference” to discuss the national situation. But with such a small window left between now and election day this may not be a feasible option, considering that many leading candidates are out on the campaign trail. Instead, the JI and all other political stakeholders need to condemn the violence in unequivocal terms and express solidarity with the parties that have been targeted and are under threat. If silence is maintained, it will only add to the feeling that certain parties are indirectly gain-ing from the militants’ campaign against liberal and left-of-centre political forces.

President Zardari for legislative, administrative mechanism for protection of rights of workers

President Asif Ali Zardari has expressed hope that the provinces, keeping in view their responsibilities after the 18th amendment, will put in place appropriate legislative and administrative mechanism to ensure protection of rights of the workers. In a message on the Labour Day, the President said "May 1 should serve to remind us of our commitment to the workers' right to dignity, decent wages and protection from arbitrary termination." The President while paying homage to the Chicago Martyrs for their fight against oppression a century ago said; "we also renew our pledges made to the workers, peasants and wage-earners that we will not abandon them in their struggle for a rightful place in society." The President said a contended and satisfied labour force was central to the production cycle and national development and was the driving force behind any industrial and agricultural progress. "All claims of development will remain meaningless until the vulnerable working class is emancipated, empowered and rehabilitated," the President said. President Zardari said emancipation and welfare of labour has been central to the struggle of leaders like Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He pointed that during the past few years a number of practical steps have been taken for improving the condition of the workers. These included reinstatement of sacked employees, regularization of contract and daily wage earners, empowering the workers to seek legal remedies against any unlawful dismissals, restoration of trade union activities, promulgation of Industrial Relations Act 2012 and making workers and employees share-holders in the state-run entities. However, the President pointed that the struggle for workers' rights was far from over. "We still have to go a long way in addressing issues relating to exploitation of the workers, child and forced labour and no representation in legislative assemblies etc." He said following the 18th Constitutional Amendment the subject of labour has been devolved to the provinces. "I am confident that the provinces are aware of their responsibilities for putting in place appropriate legislative and administrative mechanisms to ensure protection of workers' rights." The President while greeting the labour and workers also called upon them to continue working hard for the progress, prosperity and socio-economic development of Pakistan.

Pakistan: The slaughter of the lambs

EDITORIAL : Daily Times
Saying that the national and international establishment are keeping the moderate and liberal parties away from the elections purposefully sounds more like an attempt to shift the burden. Terrorism, as it has come to invade every part of our lives, and now the elections, was left to grow and fester in the absence of any concerted, integrated and responsive counter-terrorism strategy by the government. Had there been serious effort to control this menace, the elections, being the most important event of Pakistan’s history, would not have become an issue of life and death. Rehman Malik, the former interior minister of Pakistan, in spite of knowing that the elections would open a floodgate of terrorism could not do anything to prevent the development. Whether it was lack of political will or sheer negligence of the government, we are now reaping the results. Obviously the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) tactically is attacking the liberal and moderate parties. That sounds very much like the militants’ programme. It was the responsibility of the parties, now the target of the TTP, the PPP, the MQM and the ANP, who were part of the government both in the provinces and in the centre for five years, to build deterrent policies against the impending crisis. The emerging solidarity among the parties under attack now would do little except perhaps encourage their voters to frustrate the dirty game of the militants by going to the polls on election day. On the other hand the right-wing parties, having a free hand to campaign, should know that they too can be exposed to hard times. The TTP has its own agenda to follow. Their challenge to the state would not go away once the party they are going soft on is in power. In fact those they are now implicitly ‘helping’ to campaign in the elections fearlessly, would be under pressure to toe their line. For now the division between liberal/secular versus conservative reflects an ideological schism that could eventually tear Pakistan apart. Punjab, for the terrorists’ tactical reasons, since nearly 70 candidates of banned religious organisations are contesting from here, is left untouched. The rest of Pakistan has become a pool of blood. Two independent candidates have so far been killed. An election in Mirpurkhas has been postponed. PPP has done not a single large rally fearing a TTP backlash. MQM and ANP have already lost several party workers in a matter of one week. This will eventually deepen the resentment of other provinces that they always had for Punjab. Exclusivity somehow has always been Punjab’s prerogative. Now with militancy too favouring Punjab, division of hearts and minds between Punjab and other provinces could be easily imagined, especially in the post-election period. Now that the attacks by the TTP on only three parties in three provinces is already being seen as pre-poll rigging, the results of elections will also be considered skewed in favour of the centre-right parties. How will this affect the atmosphere of the post-election period is again disturbing. The new government will already enter office with lots of baggage. The TTP is a monster newly energised during the elections. Neither the PTI nor the PML-N has uttered a single word against the atrocity that is killing people like flies. Their silence is intolerable for many. It is not a free lunch that they believe they will savour forever. Eventually they might be slaughtered as well.

Pakistan: Call to close student hostels

In a letter to media, leader of banned outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Hakimullah Mehsud says his group is focused on jeopardizing democracy by hindering elections in the country. He urged TTP militants to target senior politicians and party leaders and continue the battle against the security forces. In attacks on the election rallies so far, the TTP has claimed lives of nearly 60 individuals. Amidst mounting fears of terrorist attacks, most leaders are shying away from holding public gatherings. With the political parties' subdued, the TTP rhetoric comprising threats and vows from undisclosed locations have become more frequent, making the overall election environment dreadful and frightening, indeed. In Multan, a young TTP activists and student Bahauddin Zakariyah University, has been found flashing posters and banners scripted with inflammatory messages to encourage people to refrain from going to polls pleading that democracy was 'un-Islamic and Haraam-a term often used for religiously illegal activity.' Good news is that the police have caught the TTP activists and are looking for his two accomplices. More details will follow in due course of police investigation. The incident, however, has given a big lead to the law enforcing agencies. Earlier, similar activity has been witnessed in other parts of the country too. Across the board, scanning of students at this point is a difficult task; yet, the best course that the administration can undertake is to shutdown all student hostels and residences affiliated with the government and private schools, colleges, universities and religious institutions immediately till elections are held. The closing down the educational institutions for a couple of weeks or so to save the country's system and the lives of the innocent people is not a big deal. The move will disrupt rather uproot the network of the TPP activists at once, bringing some respite--may be for time being. The caretakers governments in the Centre and the provinces must not live under the illusion regarding the extent of penetration of the TPP men across Pakistan. Coupled with the Army vigilance, the volunteers of all the political parties should also guard each and every polling station across the country. Despite terrorist threats, the people are pouring out large in numbers to attend public meetings notcaring for their lives. The political leaders should not take refuge inside armoured vehicles escorted by armed security men or behind the bulletproof glass screens; rather, they should come out in the public to lead the nation from the front-the Awami National Party despite loosing a number of activists and leaders-- is a classic example to follow, and its fortitude deserves appreciation. The support to the ANP will deny encouragement to the terrorists that they can disrupt the system of the country. The security is clearly a major preoccupation-it is just too dangerous, yet the fate of life and death lies in the hands of God only. No amount of security can save a life if it is not blessed by Allah Almighty. A handful terrorists cannot contest might of the nation if the people stand firmly stands behind political leaders. There are several countries, including Iran and Sri Lanka where the leaders weathered even-worst terrorist storm to form their governments in the best interest of the countries. Deriving courage, conviction and determination from faith, many believe in, the three main parties in the outgoing government. The PPP, the MQM and the ANP have curtailed public gatherings in the face of direct Taliban threats; however, this must not leave their followers disappointed in this critical phase of the Pakistan's history. It is a good omen that All Party Conference held in Karachi has united the politicalforces at one platform. Notwithstanding the measures the All Party Conference suggested and adopted, the moot would send a strong signal to that finally the political will of the people does not allow for any self-styled doctrine under any pretext, and that popular will, will prevail, All political leaders must show some spine to lead the country and the nation from the front. The salvation of the country is hidden in an upfront political response of the masses to the terrorist threats.