Monday, June 24, 2013

Istanbul crowd marches to denounce release of police officer suspected of killing protester

Hundreds gathered tonight on Istanbul's Asian shores to protest the court ruling to release a police officer suspected of shooting a demonstrator in the early days of the Gezi Park unrest. Having been on life support for a number of days, Ethem Sarısülük, a 26-year-old blue collar worker, passed away last week. Participants at a discussion forum in Kadıköy's Yoğurtçu Park, a gathering that has repeatedly been held since the police closed access to Gezi Park, agreed to march in order to show their indignation at the court's ruling. The crowd walked holding banners in support of Sarısülük and condemning police's violence. Hours earlier, the prosecutor in charge of the investigation into Sarısülük's killing ruled that the shooting was "within the limits of self-defense."

White House: Snowden still in Russia

The White House says they believe NSA leaker Edward Snowden is in Russia amid an international manhunt that has taken authorities and journalists around the globe this weekend. “We have known where he is and believe we know where he is now,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said during a Monday afternoon briefing. “It is our assumption that he is in Russia.” “I’m not going to get into specifics, but it is our understanding that he is still in Russia,” Carney added later in the briefing. "We have asked the Russians to look at all the options and expel Snowden to the US,” he said. Snowden, a 30-year-old American man, fled the US last month to meet with reporters with The Guardian in Honk Kong. There he supplied journalists with National Security Agency documents exposing vast surveillance efforts operated by the United States government. On late Friday, Snowden was reported to be in Moscow, Russia, possibly en route to a final destination in Latin America or elsewhere. An indictment against him was unsealed in the US earlier that day. Representatives with WikiLeaks said early Monday that Snowden submitted applications for asylum with Ecuador, Iceland and perhaps other locales. Carney, however, said the White House has been in discussions with “the diplomatic and law enforcement channels in countries where Mr. Snowden might transit.” Later in the day, President Barack Obama said the US is following all appropriate legal channels in an attempt to extradite Snowden back to America, and was working with other countries to ensure the rule of law is observed. “We are aware of where Mr. Snowden is,” WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange said in a conference call shortly before the White House briefing. “He is in a safe place and his spirits are high. Due to the bellicose threats coming from the US administration we cannot go into further detail at this time.” “Unfortunately we cannot reveal what country he is in at this time,” Assange added. Snowden was originally rumored to be heading to Cuba on Monday on the way to Ecuador, but his whereabouts remain publically unknown. “We believe we know where he is and we’re having appropriate conversations about that,” Carney told reporters. “If his passion here is for press freedom and freedom of the Internet and the like, than he has chosen unlikely protectors,” he said. Carney went on to condemn authorities in Honk Kong and mainland China and said the decision to allow Snowden to escape amid an US-authored extradition order “was a deliberate choice by the government to release a fugitive despite a valid arrest warrant.” “We are just not buying that this was a technical decision by a Honk Kong immigration official," Carney continued, adding that the action will have a “negative impact on US/China relations.” According to Assange, President Barack Obama’s actions so far, however, have hindered the reputation of the US. “The US government is taking on a generation — a young generation of people who find the mass violation of the right of privacy and open process unacceptable,” said Assange. “By taking on a generation, the Obama administration can only lose. Pursuing Edward Snowden and pursuing Bradley Manning is not the way to fix the weaknesses of laws and process in the United States. The only ways to fix these are to fix the policies. And to stop spying on the world [and] to eradicate secret law.” “The charging of Edward Snowden is not a matter of justice. It is an attempt to intimidate any country that might be considering standing up for its rights with regards to the truth,” Assange added. An indictment against Snowden was unsealed on Friday revealing charges of espionage and other counts more than two weeks after The Guardian first began leaking classified documents attributed to him.

Afghanistan presidential palace attacked in Kabul

Militants have attacked security forces near the presidential palace in the centre of the Afghan capital, Kabul. A BBC correspondent says the assailants are embroiled in clashes with President Hamid Karzai's bodyguards, as well as US personnel from the nearby CIA station. There have been a series of loud explosions, sending debris flying. The attack comes only days after Mr Karzai raised objections about US-backed peace talks with the Taliban. He said the High Peace Council, the government body set up to lead peace efforts, would not take part unless the process was "Afghan-led".

Kerry assures India and its neighbors that U.S. will not abandon Afghanistan

By Karen DeYoung and Ernesto Londoño
U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry assured India and other concerned partners in this volatile region Monday that the United States plans to continue supporting the Afghan military and to keep American forces in Afghanistan after the scheduled 2014 combat withdrawal, “under any circumstances.” India is particularly worried that the U.S. withdrawal will leave an ongoing war in Afghanistan between Taliban forces backed by Pakistan and other forces that have sought aid from India and Central Asian countries to combat any Taliban attempt to regain power. India also has questioned U.S. plans to conduct peace negotiations with the Taliban in a new political office for the insurgents established last week in Doha, the capital of the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar. An inaugural session of those talks was put on hold last week after Afghan President Hamid Karzai objected to the Taliban labeling the office an outpost of “the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” the name under which the Taliban ruled until they were ousted by U.S. and Afghan forces in 2001. James Dobbins, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, who was scheduled to head the U.S. delegation for the talks, traveled to Kabul on Monday for damage control with Karzai and other Afghan officials. Dobbins described a meeting with Karzai as “quite positive” and said the two countries were now waiting to see “whether the Taliban want to talk.” The envoy said a “combination” of misunderstandings led to the display of a Taliban flag and an Islamic Emirate plaque on the wall of the Doha office, in violation of conditions the Afghan government had set for the talks. Dobbins said the insurgents wanted to “score a propaganda advance and they seem to have overplayed their hand.” Through Qatari intermediaries, the United States insisted that the flag and plaque be taken down. Although they were removed from sight from outside the walled Doha residence where the office is located, the Taliban said in a statement Monday that it had acted with the acquiescence of the Qatar government in displaying the trappings of a virtual embassy and did not offer to desist. Dobbins did not say when the aborted talks might be rescheduled. After the initially scheduled meeting was canceled last Tuesday, U.S. officials offered to hold it Sunday. But the Taliban indicated through intermediaries that they needed approval from the insurgent political leadership in Quetta, Pakistan, and had not yet received it. U.S. officials said they were still open to a meeting, but would not wait forever. At a news conference here Monday with Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid, Kerry appeared to misstate U.S. requirements for negotiations, saying they would not be held until the Taliban met three conditions: a break in ties with al-Qaeda; an end to violence in Afghanistan; and fealty to the Afghan constitution, including respect of the rights of minorities and women. “Thus far, those conditions have not yet been met, so there is no negotiation at this point,” Kerry said. “If the conditions are met, then there is a negotiation that will take place not with the United States, but with the High Peace Council of Afghanistan.” While U.S. policy has long set the three conditions as necessary outcomes for successful negotiations, the Obama administration said last week that its two preconditions for beginning talks — Taliban statements eschewing international terrorism and recognizing Afghan democracy — had both been met. At the same time, the United States said it was ready to begin talks with the Taliban and then turn them over to the Afghan government. An administration official said U.S. policy on both the preconditions and the necessary outcomes of negotiations had not changed. Any final agreement with the Taliban, Kerry said later in the news conference, “will be decided by the Afghan people through this negotiation, or it will decided at the ballot box in 2014 without the Taliban. . . . The United States will continue, as President Obama has made clear, to support the Afghan government, to support the Afghan military, to continue to equip and train it well beyond 2014, and to continue to have a level of a force on the ground that will continue to conduct antiterrorism, counterterrorism activity.” In response to last Tuesday’s Taliban office dispute, Karzai also suspended U.S.-Afghan negotiations over the size and mission of the post-2014 force, although U.S. officials said they expected those discussions to resume. Kerry said that India has an important role to play in encouraging Karzai to prepare for presidential elections, scheduled for April 2014, and ensure they are “accessible, accountable, transparent, free and fair.” He also said Dobbins would visit India on Wednesday. During a two-day trip here, Kerry and Khurshid praised cooperation and growing economic ties between the United States and India. They said they made progress in resolving outstanding trade and investment matters. On one prickly issue, Khurshid said they “reaffirmed their commitment to full and timely implementation of the civil nuclear deal,” including the proposed sale of Westinghouse power reactors to India. He said he expected the Westinghouse agreement, which has been held up over Indian liability law, to be completed by September. The two men said they had also discussed Iran, with which India has close diplomatic and commercial ties. “We completely understand the relationship that India has,” Kerry said. “We are appreciative that India has worked hard to reduce its dependency on Iranian oil, and that has been an important step, and India has been very cooperative in communicating to Iran and in standing up publicly and holding them accountable for nonproliferation requirements.” India, Kerry said, could “help urge the new Iranian leadership, as well as the old leadership and the Supreme Leader, to take advantage of this moment,” and to “urge the Iranians . . . not to miscalculate about American and international commitment” to preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Khurshid, who visited Iran in early May, before the presidential election of Hassan Rouhani this month, said he had shared his assessment with Kerry.

Ukraine condemns attack on climbers in Pakistan

The Express Tribune
Ukraine on Monday condemned the shooting of three Ukrainian climbers by militant gunmen in Pakistan and demanded compensation for the victims’ families. Attackers stormed a base camp at the foot of Pakistan’s second-highest peak Nanga Parbat late Saturday, shooting dead 10 foreign trekkers, including three Ukrainians and a Pakistani guide at point-blank range. Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yevgen Perebiynis at a news conference condemned the “terrorist attack” and said the government had sent a note to Pakistan’s acting representative in Ukraine calling for compensation and punishment of the guilty. “We categorically demand compensation from the Pakistan side,” he said, calling the attack “murder carried out with particular cruelty.” Pakistan’s umbrella Taliban movement claimed responsibility, saying it had set up a new faction, Junood ul-Hifsa, to kill foreigners to avenge US drone strikes on Taliban and Al-Qaeda operatives. The three Ukrainians, identified as Igor Svergun, Dmitry Konyaev and Badavi Kashayev, were travelling in a group of six from the climbing club in the eastern city of Kharkiv, the president of the region’s mountaineering and rock-climbing federation, Gennady Kopeika, told AFP. It was the worst attack on foreigners for a decade in Pakistan and an unprecedented attack on tourists visiting the north, which until Saturday’s shootings was considered immune from militancy plaguing other areas.

BBC journalist received 'threatening' tweets from Turkish mayor

The BBC has expressed concern after one of its journalists was targeted in a "threatening" Twitter campaign by a senior Turkish politician over her coverage of protests in the country. The BBC Turkey reporter Selin Girit was accused of "treachery" and acting as a foreign agent in a series of tweets by Ibrahim Melih Gökçek, the longstanding mayor of Ankara, on Sunday. The corporation said the 24-hour Twitter campaign was prompted by its coverage of the uprising against the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Peter Horrocks, BBC global news director, said he was "very concerned" by the Turkish authorities' attempts "to discredit the BBC and intimidate its journalists". In a statement on Monday, Horrocks said: "A large number of threatening messages have been sent to one of our reporters, who was named and attacked on social media by the mayor of Ankara for her coverage of the current protests. "The BBC and all its journalists are committed to providing impartial and independent journalism. It is unacceptable for our journalists to be directly targeted in this way. There are established procedures for making comments and complaints about BBC output and we call on the Turkish authorities to use these proper channels." Gökçek is a member of Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development party (AKP), which has become the focus of protests in and around Istanbul since 28 May. In a stream of tweets targeting the BBC reporter, he asked: "Who is @selingirit? BBC's reporter in Turkey. Led by England, they are trying collapse our economy via agents hired, both nationally and internationally. They are dreaming for Turkey to be the 'Sick man of Europe' once again. Here is a concrete proof." He asked his nearly 700,000 followers to "show their democratic reaction" to Girit and attempted to popularise the Turkish hashtag "#INGILTEREADINAAJANLIKYAPMASELINGIRIT", roughly translated as: "Don't be a spy in the name of England Selin Girit." The campaign against Girit drew condemnation from the International Federation of Journalists, whose president, Jim Boumelha, urged Turkish authorities to "stop targeting and intimidating journalists and allow them to report protests without fear and censorship." The Turkish branch of the BBC's National Union of Journalists (NUJ) chapel also issued its public support for Girit. Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary said: "We want to send a strong message to Turkish authorities – it is simply not acceptable to target journalists in your turbulent times. "We condemn the attempts to intimidate journalists and the threats must stop immediately. Those who are responsible for the attacks need to back off. The freedom of the press is essential for all Turkish citizens and the rest of the Turkish people around the world – we need journalism in the public interest and we want to know about Turkey."

Bangladesh: WAR CRIMES TRIAL : Terrorists of “Al-Badr leaders” indicted

WAR CRIMES TRIAL Mueen, Ashraf indicted
A Dhaka tribunal on Monday framed 11 charges against “Al-Badr leaders” Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan in absentia for their alleged involvement in crimes against humanity committed during the country’s Liberation War in 1971. The charges include abduction and murder of intellectuals of the country at the fag end of the Liberation War. The International Crimes Tribunal-2 also set July 15 for opening statement in the case and examination of prosecution witnessess. The three-member tribunal led by Justice Obaidul Hassan asked the state appointed defence counsels to submit a list of defence witness and other documents if they have any by the date.

John Kerry admonishes China, Russia on Edward Snowden

Washington would not look favorably if it turns out that China and Russia purposely chose to ignore American desires to apprehend National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden on three felony counts, U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry said on a three-day visit to India.
Terming Snowden an indicted felon, Kerry said all appropriate countries have been notified of his status. “It would be very disappointing if he was willfully allowed to board an airplane” from Hong Kong to Moscow, Kerry said at a news conference with Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid, adding that he “would be deeply troubled” if Russia and China knew of Snowden’s plans, “and there would be, without any question, some effect and impact on the relationship and consequences.” “I’d urge them to live within the law,” Kerry added. “It’s in the interest of everyone.” Snowden, 30, an American citizen who has embarrassed the Obama administration by exposing the breadth of U.S. surveillance programs, has eluded U.S. efforts to arrest him. Considered a traitor by some and a folk hero by others, Snowden has kept a step ahead of U.S. authorities who have charged him with violating the Espionage Act and stealing government property. The latest speculation is that the former Booz Allen Hamilton contractor is headed for Ecuador by way of Cuba and Venezuela, although he appeared to have missed a flight to Havana that he had been expected to take. Kerry took a swipe at the civil liberties of countries Snowden has chosen to work with in eluding the U.S. "I wonder if Snowden chose Russia or China for assistance because they are such bastions of Internet freedom," he said.

Tourists Ask Russia to Evacuate Them from Pakistan

Hours after a deadly militant attack, a group of mountain climbers in Pakistan has requested Russia to evacuate them, Russian Mountaineering Federation executive director Alexei Ovchinnikov told R-Sport on Sunday. According to media reports, at least a dozen Islamic militants dressed in police uniforms shot nine tourists and a local guide early on Sunday after rousing them from their sleep in a hotel at the foot of the world’s ninth-highest mountain, Nanga Parbat, in northern Pakistan. "We have already contacted the Russian emergencies ministry [with the request]. In addition, our Ukrainian, Georgian and Lithuanian colleagues are set to ask the Russian Foreign Ministry and [its head Sergei] Lavrov to evacuate survivors and dead bodies by plane next week,” Ovchinnikov said. BBC said five Ukrainians, three Chinese and a Lithuanian national were killed, but Lithuanian diplomats did not confirm the report, saying the information is currently being verified. According to the data obtained by the Russian Mountaineering Federation, no Russians were among the victims. “A Lithuanian national, Ukrainians and people whose nationality is yet unclear were killed in the attack. Possibly, two Georgians also were there, but their fate is unknown. We were unable to contact the tent camp where the shooting took place,” Ovchinnikov said. He said that initial reports that a Russian national was killed were not confirmed by Russian mountaineer teams in the area. “We contacted our teams via a satellite phone. So far, they say that all Russians there were unharmed. They are yet to be evacuated from a camp near the site of the attack, and from a gorge nearby,” the official said. He also said that the number of Russians in the area is yet to be established. According to Ovchinnikov, three groups of Russian mountain climbers have flown to Pakistan recently: one is currently guarded by the Pakistani servicemen, the second has no armed guards and the third has just arrived at Islamabad and is now safe. "We are now trying to determine the exact number of Russians, there might be a dozen of them but no exact figures are available… Unfortunately, there are also people in the area who are just travelling, not climbing mountains. So now we are trying to find out if there are Russians among them,” he said.

CCTV VIDEO:- '' PML-N MPA slaps bus hostess ''

She should be slapped by the same road hostess publically, infront of the punjab assembly to give message to all other MPAs and make it sure that all others remain in their okaat. She should also be sentenced for atleast a year along with 10 years ban to hold any public office. Rights of the people of pakistan should be protected.

Manal al-Sharif: A Saudi woman who dared to drive

Pakistan: Christians in Rahim Yarkhan under threat of life by Muslim extremists

The Voice team requests you to pray for the Christian brothers and sisters residing in Nasrat Colony, Bheel Nagar, Rahim YarKhan about 650 kms away from Lahore. The Voice got a call from the source that in Nasrat colony there are about 2,000 Christian families are residing and the whole Christian colony is surrounded by Muslims there. Sipa-e-sahaba a radical Islamic organization attacked the colony and threatened the Christians that they will burn down the whole colony within two days. The reason is that, a Christian family residing there named Sadiq Masih's family had a dispute with a Muslim family named Mohammad Javed Sanjhu. the Muslims created the dispute on 21st June at about 6:00 pm in the evening saying that Sadiq Masih's nine years old son-in-law is sexually harassing the Muslim women of Javed's family. javed along with about 20 Muslim fellows of Sipa-e sahaba and entered the house of Sadiq Maish, they raised slogans and started firing at the house due to which the neighbors gathered around the house of Sadiq Masih and called the police. the attackers left the house after that and the Christians of the colony gathered and went to the police station to file a complaint against the Muslim group. When they returned home they heard the announcements on the loudspeakers of the Mosques that were inviting all sipa-e-sahaba group to attack the Christian Colony. Meanwhile, the Muslim group started gathering the Christian colony the Christians called the police but nobody came, than the Christians of the colony started protest against the Police and the Muslim group. After the protest started police went there and dispersed the Muslim crowd. The Voice came to know about this incidence and immediately contacted the DPO (District Police officer), DSP, (Deputy Superintendent of Police) and SHO (Station house officer) named Malik Ashraf, of the police station C-Division RahimYar khan to take the immediate and safe measures. At about 12:00 am in the night SHO told the Voice team that he have deputed two police wagons and is arranging for more Squad that will be arranged by 2:00 am. The Voice team is ready to take all the precautionary measures to save our Christian Brothers and sisters in Christ and are contacting all of our friends and contacts in order to avoid a terrible terrorist attack on a Christian Colony. The Christians are still sitting there outside their houses and trying to protect their houses. The Voice team is with them. Please pray for all our brothers and sisters in Christ and for the Voice team so that God may help us all in this dreadful situation and save us all.

Pakistan: ''Blood-soaked reality: Killing of foreigners''

EVENTUALLY, the illogic of conspiracy will have to give way to reality. Waliur Rehman, a TTP leader mind-bogglingly referred to by Imran Khan as ‘pro-peace’, was killed by an American drone, so now the TTP has killed nine foreigners in remote Gilgit-Baltistan in revenge. And instead of the focus being on how to prevent Pakistan from slipping further towards international isolation and internal instability, the question that will likely be asked most frequently, in the media, by the political class, by large chunks of civil society, is what can be done to stop drones strikes. The problem with the drone debate is not that it is unimportant but that it tends to obscure a more fundamental and important question: what to do about the TTP? And that more important and fundamental question is itself wrapped up in another set of distractions, namely whether or not to negotiate over what is not negotiable. Unhappily, the newly elected government appears to already be falling into the trap of rhetoric as a substitute for action. Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan has set an admirable new tone by speaking plainly and bluntly about all that ails Pakistan on the security front. That is good. But all the straight talk in the world will not substitute for a meaningful policy against militancy — and the necessary corollary of wresting national security policy from the army leadership. It is here that the PML-N already seems to be falling into the old trap of inaction through summits and all-party conferences and the like. Already, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appears aloof and disconnected, allowing his ministers to speak for his government instead of leading from the front himself. For the army’s part, a pattern now seems obvious: everything but North Waziristan can be tackled. The reasons for that can only be guessed at, but could it have something to do with the impending transition in Afghanistan, after which the much-loved Haqqani network may be encouraged to move its operations to the other side of the Durand line and then the TTP will be taken on? If Pakistan’s internal security is in fact linked to an external agenda, then perhaps the TTP is only a symptom of the disease. Bringing about change, particularly in powerful, entrenched institutions, is always a difficult undertaking. But if the Pakistani state doesn’t change its approach, the TTP will change Pakistan for all of us.

Balochistan : TWO WARS

The Baloch Hal
By Sajjad Hussain Changezi
Troubled Balochistan, in its unending series of sufferings, went through two most highlighted and yet insufficiently identified incidents of violence just a few days back. On the night between June 14 and 15 2013, Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s historical residence in Ziarat was burnt down by the separatist outfit, the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA). The following day Quetta witnessed students of Sardar Bahadur Khan Women University blown up by the first female suicide bomber in the history of Balochistan. This attack was followed by two more suicide attacks inside Bolan Medical Complex where the injured were being treated. The events that unfolded on June 15 were claimed by the sectarian outfit, Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ). Balochistan is at war on two fronts – the militant nationalist insurgency led by the BLA to separate Balochistan from Pakistan and the sectarian ‘jihad’ launched by the LeJ with the mission to wipe off Shias (predominantly Hazaras) from Balochistan (and ultimately Pakistan). While Balochistan remains lost in the myths of national security, sovereignty and integrity, the two wars continue to be confused when we must be able to distinguish between them. Why is there a need to distinguish between the LeJ and the BLA? Don’t both deny the writ of the state and the constitution in practice? Shouldn’t all militant organisations be treated absolutely the same way? Any serious student of conflict resolution will warn against ignoring the dynamics of a certain conflict and imposing a single ideal solution to resolve any and all conflicts. The BLA and the LeJ have much less in common than was repeatedly claimed by former interior minister Rehman Malik. The two militant organisations draw inspiration from different ideological sources, the tactics of their insurgencies are different, the targets to hit and the goals to achieve are different and, most importantly, their capacity to cause havoc are different. What are partially overlapping are the time and area of their actions. They are also similar to the extent that they use the Baloch youth as foot soldiers and at times government officials as their targets. Baloch insurgent groups are an expression of anger and desperation from those who politically identify themselves as Baloch and who are afraid of being absorbed by the giant demographic and political structure of the rest of Pakistan. The separatist groups vow to ‘rescue’ the Baloch (and break up Pakistan) in the face of decades of marginalisation, neglect and exploitation by the centre. On the other hand, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, unprovoked in the context of Balochistan, has taken up the voluntary task to eliminate the Shia community and declare Pakistan a Sunni state. Taking pride in its socio-political secular history, the BLA condemns the jihadists’ agenda and disassociate itself with the Baloch separatist movement of Jundullah that is at war with neighbouring Iran. Tactically speaking, the BLA and its fellow insurgent groups have never deployed suicide bombers and their modes of attacks often include rockets, cycle bombs, domestic IEDs and hand grenades. The LeJ, like its fellow Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has, however, demonstrated its capacity to attack via target killings, IEDs, suicide bombings, liquid bombs, and heavy vehicles laden with explosives. These attacks have killed at least 1200 members of the Hazara Shia community alone, apart from scores of policemen, judges, lawyers and non-Shia, non-Hazara citizens. On the contrary, Baloch insurgent groups mostly target the infrastructure of mega projects, representatives and symbols of the state and its institutions, as clearly demonstrated by their attack in Ziarat. It seems the two organisations have different strengths. While the Baloch insurgency has a deep-rooted political base due to the decades of negligence and exploitation increasingly admitted by Pakistani intellectuals as well, the LeJ has its militancy and potential for violence as its peculiarity. It is therefore a rational recommendation that if we are to win Balochistan back, we need to tackle the Baloch issue on political grounds and the LeJ’s sectarian agenda with strategic might. Challenging this notion of delicately applying two different strategies to the two different conflicts and their stakeholders, there is a strong voice advocating ‘absolutely zero tolerance towards any form of aggression that amounts to terrorism’. This approach recommends painting both militant organisations with the same brush. Instead, what happens is different treatment meted out to the two. Baloch insurgents and activists – perceived as Enemy No. 1 – are abducted, tortured, killed and dumped, or made to disappear. On the other hand, the LeJ and its mother organisation, the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) currently known as Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), have held mass rallies in the biggest cities right under the eye of security agencies. Hate literature by sectarian groups goes unchecked whereas Baloch websites, even moderate ones like The Baloch Hal, stay banned. If Pakistan continues this way, we are doomed to lose both battles, for we are offering space to the LeJ by making obvious and silent ‘deals’ with them, and by crushing the Baloch nationalist movement with brute force, we are deepening their sense of deprivation, desperation and anger. Of the two organisations, the one that needs to be tackled using physical might is permitted socio-political space while the one that deserves political understanding is being dealt with using uncompromised force. As wrong policies continue to be implemented, it’s the non-combatant citizens of Balochistan that pay the heaviest price.

Fake degree: Police arrest former PML-N MNA

Police arrested former parliamentarian Syed Salman Mohsin Gilani after a court in Lahore sentenced him for contesting 2008 elections on a fake degree, Express News reported on Monday. Gilani belongs to Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) The court awarded him a one-year-long jail term and ordered him to pay a fine worth Rs30,000. In August 2012, a case was registered against Gilani for contesting elections on a fake degree after the Election Commission sent his documents for verification and found them to be bogus. On April 19, 2013, the Lahore High Court granted protective bail to Gilani till April 26. Gilani contested the general election in 2008 from the NA-165 constituency of Pakpattan.

Afghan prospects strong for post-US era

The US-led coalition forces have announced their planned withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014. To meet the deadline, many members have already started extracting their soldiers and equipment from Afghanistan. A number of initiatives have already been undertaken as part of the transition in Afghanistan.
The Afghan National Army is taking the lead in securing Afghanistan. The coalition forces are switching to a support role by providing training, equipment and financial support. And the Afghan National Police forces are getting more professional and responsible for security in Afghan cities. In addition to transition in security issues, Afghans are taking on more responsibilities in leading development activities. The Afghan government is assuming more ownership in public service delivery and the private sector is doing most of the things international contractors used to do. When the Soviet Union left, the Afghan government was weak and limited to big cities, and an ideology-driven insurgency was much stronger in the country side. Besides, unemployment was high, the economy was in a critical situation, and the central government had uneasy relations with its neighbors, like Pakistan. The present Afghan government also grapples with similar issues. However, the situation is far less threatening than it used to be in the 1990s. Unlike in the 1990s, Afghanistan is now constitutionally an "Islamic Republic" forestalling any organized ideological confrontations. The present Afghan government and society enjoy better international relations and support than in the 1990s. Most Western countries have established strategic partnerships with the Afghan government, outlining their commitment to supporting Afghanistan well beyond 2014. In addition to the strategic partnership documents, Afghanistan and the US are negotiating a compact that spells out the responsibilities of the residual US military presence in Afghanistan. Other than a few public schools and universities in 2001, Afghanistan had no private schools or investment in education. But today, Afghanistan has many private schools that complement the public education system. Private investment in the health sector has also helped in the boom of private health facilities across the country. Some, such as the DK German Medical Diagnostic Center in Kabul, are explicitly foreign-owned, providing top quality services in Kabul. Developments in infrastructure construction, information technology, media and communication, banking, aviation, mining, trade and financial services have been unprecedented. Ordinary Afghans have mixed feelings about Afghanistan's future. Most recognize the mentioned developments, while they also understand that a lot more need to be done to keep the momentum going. A taxi driver in Kabul told me that "The situation in Kabul has changed drastically. In the past, one could not go safely from east to west and paved roads did not exist. There wasn't enough food, and having a car was a luxury. But today that has changed. Ordinary people can travel freely in Kabul and many provinces of the country. More Afghans have got involved in successful private businesses." There is a consensus both among Afghans and the international community that nobody wants a return to the 1990s. A huge amount of blood and treasure, both by outsiders and Afghans, have been spent in bringing Afghanistan to where it is now. Many factors will have a profound impact on future stability: the conduct and perception of the upcoming presidential elections in 2014 and the parliamentary elections in 2015, improvements in Afghanistan's relations with its immediate neighbors, international attention and support for the young democracy, investment and diversity in the Afghan economy, and more continuous investment in competent and motivated young Afghan men and women. If Afghans can stay united, they will have the hope of continuing their achievements and forging a better life post-2014.

UN chief "appalled" by attack on foreign tourists in Pakistan

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday urged the government of Pakistan to take immediate measures on the perpetrators of the violent attack that led to 11 deaths, saying he was "appalled" by the killing. Ban was appalled by the reported killing on Sunday of a group of foreign climbers in the area of Gilgit-Baltistan in northern Pakistan and extended his condolences, said a statement issued by his spokesperson. "While reiterating the support of the United Nations to the government of Pakistan in the face of terrorism and extremism, he urges it to take immediate measures to bring the perpetrators to justice and to ensure security," the statement said. Unidentified gunmen opened fire at tourists in a hotel near the base camp of Nanga Parbat, a mountain in Pakistan's northern area that is popular among adventurous travelers. The attack killed 11 people, among whom 10 were foreigners. The incident occurred near the border between China and Pakistani Kashmir. The identities of four foreign tourists have been determined. They were two Chinese nationals, one Chinese American and one Nepalese. Later on Sunday, the Pakistani Taliban claimed it had carried out the attack to avenge the death of their deputy leader in a U.S. drone strike in May. In his statement, the UN chief expressed his deep concern over the mounting terrorist attacks and bombings in Pakistan, which in the past several weeks alone have claimed the lives of dozens of civilians. The country has witnessed a series of violence over the past few weeks. A female bomber attacked a bus of a women's university in the southwestern city of Quetta on June 15th, killing 14 students. Just two days later, at least 28 people died in attacks in the same city.

PAKISTAN: '''Tourists’ killing'''

In an incident that appears to be unique in the history of Pakistan, nine foreign tourists and their Pakistani guide have been murdered in an attack that by mid-afternoon on Sunday was being claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. There have been rare instances of foreign tourists being attacked or robbed, and two or three reported murders over decades, but never a mass slaying such as this. The area the trekkers were killed is extremely remote, about 18 hours’ walk from the road. One Chinese man is reported to have survived but this is unconfirmed as yet. Their killers, according to the TTP, were the Junud-e-Hafsa faction and were acting in revenge for the killing of TTP chief Waliur Rehman Mehsud and as a protest against American drone attacks. Ehsanullah Ehsan speaking for the TTP said that ‘This will tell the international community about our feelings and sentiments against the killing of our fighters’. Such are the bald facts, and more details will eventually emerge. Reaction has been swift; Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan immediately suspended the IG Police and the chief secretary of Gilgit-Baltistan. The National Assembly passed a unanimous resolution on Sunday afternoon condemning the attacks. Suspensions and condemnations aside, this incident is going to echo around the world. It is said that the tourism industry in Gilgit-Baltistan was in ‘recovery mode’ and that, while not exactly booming, there was a sharp rise in domestic tourism and foreign tourists were also beginning to reappear. Pakistan has the potential – and the infrastructure – to be a world-class destination for adventure tourism, but the attack in Bunar Nullah is going to seriously knock back the much-needed recovery. Reports from local people say that there were no threats against tourists and security for tourists was either very light or wholly absent. This has changed in the blink of an eye as the TTP has brought foreign tourists into its sights, and foreign missions are going to be reviewing the travel advisories for their nationals. The interior minister is reported to have told the Chinese ambassador that Pakistan, rather than the Chinese people, were the target of the attack – which was designed to give the impression that Pakistan was an ‘insecure country’. On the evidence of the past fortnight with mass slaughters countrywide this is a difficult perception to gainsay. Whoever did the killing will have been local to the area, familiar with the mountains and moving around in them. Sealing roads or putting extra guards on tracks and trails will be meaningless as they can be easily circumvented. The jobs of hundreds of people in the tourist industry are now on the line and the image of Pakistan worldwide has just taken another kick in the face. The message from the TTP: all foreigners anywhere in Pakistan are considered targets.

President Zardari slams tourists’ killing

President Asif Ali Zardari on Sunday condemned the terrorist attack on a group of foreign tourists in Gilgit-Baltistan and directed the authorities concerned to present a report to him on the incident. Expressing shock and sorrow over the incident, the president said such acts of barbarity would not be tolerated and asked the authorities concerned to take stern action against perpetrators of the heinous crime. He expressed sympathy with the bereaved families and said the government and people of Pakistan shared their grief and sorrow at this hour of distress. He held out an assurance that every action would be taken to arrest culprits involved in the heinous act and bring them to justice

Bushra, Pakistan Actress, Suffers Burns After Acid Attack In Her Home After Refusing To Marry Producer

A young Pakistani actress has suffered burn injuries in an acid attack in northwest Pakistan, her relatives and police say.The 18-year-old, known as Bushra and popular in the northwest for her film, television and theater appearances, was attacked on Saturday while asleep at her home in the town of Nowshera, 148km northwest of Islamabad.
“A man climbed the wall of our house in the early hours, threw acid on my sister and fled,” Bushra’s brother Pervez Khan told AFP news agency on Saturday. A local police official, Sultan Khan, also confirmed the incident. Bushra was immediately taken to Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar where Dr Suhail Ahmad said she had suffered 33 percent burn injuries, on her face and shoulder, but was in a stable condition. Pervez Khan has lodged a complaint against a local TV drama producer, Shaukat Khan, over the incident, saying that he was unhappy over Bushra’s refusal to marry him. Acid attacks are common in Pakistan with scores of such assaults taking place each year.

Gilgit–Baltistan: Chief Minister G-B applauds performance of sacked officials

Chief Minister Gilgit–Baltistan Mehdi Shah on Sunday applauded the performance of Chief Secretary G-B and regional police chief hours after Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan suspended them for failing to provide security to the foreign tourists in Nanga Parbat. “Removing both the officials before launching an inquiry in to the tourists’ incident is not in the interest of G-B,” said a press note issued by the chief minister’s office quoting him. Shah was addressing a cabinet meeting held in Gilgit soon after the Nanga Parbat incident rocked the country. In his address to the National Assembly, the interior minister announced that Chief Secretary Munir Ahmed Badeni and IGP Usman Zakrya have been suspended in the wake of the attack that had left nine foreign tourists dead at Nanga Parbat base camp. In G-B, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is the ruling party of the coalition government, with Mehdi Shah as its chief minister and Pir Karam Ali Shah as governor. “If terrorism could be overcome by such acts, the officials in Balochistan and Khyber–Pakhtunkhwa should have been removed,” he added. Shah appealed to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to reinstate the officials in the interest of G-B.