http://www.policymic.com/On February 14, 2011, thousands in Bahrain, both Shia and Sunni, took to the streets demanding democracy and reform in their country. The only Gulf country with a Shia majority governed by a Sunni ruling family, the Bahraini government responded to the protests with violence and suppression. Peaceful demonstrators, along with medics, journalists, and other citizens that came to their aid, were arrested, detained, tortured, and even killed for their involvement.
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Bahrain's legal crackdown on demonstrators has been criticized heavily by the UN, which warned that there may be “serious consequences” in anticipation of a protest planned for August 14. The move has also prompted an open letter from human rights groups. The stricter penalties for protests, which were enacted on July 31, are amendments to the 2006 Law on the Protection of Society from Acts of Terrorism. The revisions also include increasing the detention period for committing or inciting an act of terrorism. But critics believe the toughened laws will be used against peaceful protesters – not just those committing “terrorist” activities. “They also provide for banning sit-ins, rallies and gatherings in the capital Manama,” spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Cécile Pouilly, said in a statement. Anti-government rallies have been organized for August 14, despite the new legislation. The UN expressed concern that the amendments – which are supposedly intended to protect the population from terrorism - may negatively impact human rights.
http://frontpagemag.com/Monday, August the 4th, was one of the most important days in modern Turkish history. Two hundred seventy-five (275) individuals known to be secularists stood trial for supposedly planning a military coup. In the end, some 200 of them were convicted, with many receiving lifelong sentences. The government had vilified the suspects from day one. Without further ado, they were thrown in jail, where they received worse treatment than the convicted terrorist and PKK-leader Abdullah Öcalan.Their crime? According to the prosecutors and AKP officials the suspects planned to wreak so much havoc in Turkey – by carrying out (fake) terrorist attacks and generally polarizing society – that the Turkish people would eventually support a military coup just so order could be restored again. Among the suspects were many officers. One of them was General Ilker Basbug, who served as the army’s chief-of-staff until he retired in 2010. Once enjoying the quiet life of a retiree, Basbug was arrested. According to the charges, he was the “terrorist” group’s leader. Yesterday, Basbug was sentenced to life in jail. Other suspects included journalists and even writers. Apparently, such “subversive” individuals pose a significant threat to democracy by writing down their opinions and analyses. Like General Basbug, several of them were convicted on Monday. One of them, Tuncay Özkan, received an aggravated life sentence as well. Journalist Adnan Bulut was sentenced to six years, while former journalist-turned-politician for the main opposition party (the CHP), Mustafa Balbay, was sentenced to 34 years and eight months in prison. Before the verdict was announced, the latter made clear what he thought of the allegations against him. “A warm autumn is coming,” he said. “They want to take over this case. We will not let it happen. This case is political. They want to hide away the case from the public.” Yet another journalist who was convicted for being part of this conspiracy is Gülen Kömürcü, who worked for the Aksam (“Evening”) newspaper when she was arrested. This “dangerous terrorist” was sentenced to seven years and six months. After her conviction Kömürcü received dozens of friendly well-wishes from Turks who, like the suspects, believe the case to be political in nature. And there certainly is something to say for that. AKP-leaders have for years publicly commented on the case. Even Erdogan himself has made several statements about it, going so far as to accuse his political opposition of defending — in the words of the Erdogan-friendly Today’s Zaman – the “Ergenekon terrorist organization.” Note that this was before anyone had been convicted of any wrongdoing. In no other country would political leaders have spoken about an ongoing investigation in such a polarizing manner. Such details do not seem to bother Erdogan. He even made clear that this was a highly personal case to him, since he had received “personal threats“ from the plotters. He made no secret of his view that the suspects — all of them — were clearly guilty and deserving of the most severe possible punishment. Again, he did so before any conviction had been handed out. Worse still, he even had the gall to lambast the Istanbul Bar Association when it criticized the case’s chief prosecutor for using Ergenekon as a means to retaliate against the government’s rivals; a statement that was not exactly controversial, since just about the entire opposition felt the same. After the announcement of the verdicts, secular Turks responded with disbelief and outrage. On Twitter and Facebook many have replaced their usual avatars with a solid black image. The reason? They mourn what they consider to be the death of Turkey’s secular system.Perhaps that requires an explanation: Until a few years ago many people still had faith in the judiciary and in the military, both of which were considered bulwarks of secularism. Whenever a government wanted to mix politics with religion, one of the bulwarks intervened and set matters straight. Sadly, secularists now conclude, those days are no more. They see the verdicts in the Ergenekon case as the ultimate proof that these “bulwarks” of secularism no longer exist. To them, the trial’s outcome is the final nail in the coffin of laïcité in Turkey. Not only, they say, has the military become powerless, but the AK Parti now also controls the country’s judges, which is why they are actively cooperating with political (show) trials. One of the most worrying aspects of the case is the fact that not only military officers and (former) politicians have been convicted, but journalists as well. Members of the Turkish opposition understand that this is a very dangerous development since it touches on the very foundation of democracy: No democracy can survive without a free and independent press. Besides, what do the government and the judges in this case believe “writers and journalists” will do during a coup? Throw pencils at AKP-officials? The answer is, critics say, that the government fears journalists’ ability to shape public opinion. Every single one of the arrested and convicted journalists is an ideological secularist, with a long history of criticism aimed at the ruling AK Parti. These professionals now have to pay for their outspokenness by spending many years, if not the rest of their lives, in jail. One of them, the aforementioned Tuncay Özkan, was even sentenced to life in solitary confinement. How were the prosecutors able to do that? Simple: they accused all the suspects of being members (or at least supportive) of a terrorist organization. That way, the judges could carry out higher sentences than would normally be the case. As a result, journalists will be imprisoned for many years, even decades, rather than months (or not at all). Not only secular Turks, but foreigners too have responded with outrage to such severe punishments. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) made clear that locking up journalists is always unacceptable. “I am deeply alarmed by today’s convictions and harsh sentences that are of unprecedented length and severity in the entire OSCE region,” OSCE media freedom representative Dunja Mijatovic said. “Criminal prosecution of those with dissenting views violates the fundamental right to free expression and the country’s OSCE commitments to develop and protect free media.” She continued: “The damage of today’s verdicts on free expression and media freedom in Turkey is immeasurable. I reiterate my call to the authorities for urgent and fundamental legislative reforms to improve media freedom, as well as the transparent and swift trial of all imprisoned journalists.” The European Union agrees with that sentiment, saying that it has serious concerns “over the rights of the defense, the lengthy pre-trial detention and the excessively long and ‘catch-all’ indictments” that are too general. Be that as it may, for now, the convictions stand. It will take some time for the convicts to appeal to higher courts, especially on a European level. In the meantime, we can only conclude that the polarization of Turkish society continues unabated and that the freedom of speech finds itself in an increasingly more perilous state. After all, these convictions will cause editors, newspaper owners and journalists to censure themselves even more than they have been doing for the last few years. As I wrote last week: “That’s why the freedom of speech may not only be on trial in Turkey, but may very well have already been sentenced to death. The prosecution and the judge want to end its life, and dissenting jurors, who understand what is at stake, are too afraid to intervene on the defendant’s behalf.”
Voice of Russia, Reuters
U.S. President Barack Obama confirmed on Tuesday that he would go to Russia this fall for a G20 summit but expressed disappointment that Russia had granted temporary asylum to former government contractor Edward Snowden. Obama did not mention whether he would attend a separate one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The White House has said it is evaluating whether that meeting makes sense. During the interview on NBC's "The Tonight Show", Obama also said the recent threat that caused the United States to close embassies throughout the Middle East was significant. Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_08_07/Obama-going-to-G20-summit-in-Russia-6592/
By MICHAEL D. SHEAR and STEVEN LEE MYERS WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel plan to meet here in Washington with their Russian counterparts later this week for a day of talks that could determine the fate of a September summit between President Obama and the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. Obama administration officials declined to comment on the meeting with Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister and Sergei K. Shoigu, the defense minister. But Russian officials said preparations for this week’s discussions, which they say will take place Friday, are now complete. “We expect a very intensive discussion, all the more so because there are quite a few sharp, controversial and difficult questions,” Sergei Ryabkov, the deputy foreign minister, said Tuesday. At the top of that list of difficult questions is certain to be the status of next month’s planned meeting between Mr. Obama and Mr. Putin, which has been in doubt for weeks because of Russia’s refusal to return Edward J. Snowden to the United States to face charges of leaking national security secrets and other issues between the two countries. American officials have signaled that Russia’s decision to grant Mr. Snowden temporary asylum undermined the relationship between the two countries and could affect whether Mr. Obama agrees to travel to Moscow next month. He is scheduled to be in St. Petersburg for a meeting of the G-20 scheduled for Sept. 5 and 6, and had planned to travel from there to meet Mr. Putin. On Monday, Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said a decision was forthcoming. “I think it’s fair to say that you can expect that we’ll have a decision to announce in coming days about that specific issue,” Mr. Carney told reporters. “We obviously disagree with the Russians very strongly about the decision they’ve made on Mr. Snowden.” But Mr. Carney said the administration also disagreed with Russia on “a number of other issues, including Syria.” And he said that the question of whether the two presidents meet would be determined by whether such a gathering could help make progress on a broader set of concerns. “We are evaluating that against not just our disagreement over Mr. Snowden, but some of the other issues where we have failed to see, thus far, eye to eye,” Mr. Carney said. “And once we have fully assessed the utility of a summit, we’ll make an announcement.” Russian officials said they expected the presidential summit to go on as planned. And they waved aside the assertion by the United States that the decision on Mr. Snowden should affect whether Mr. Obama and Mr. Putin come together for a face-to-face meeting to confront their disagreements. Russia’s decision to grant Mr. Snowden asylum, Mr. Ryabakov said Tuesday, had been blown out of proportion and threatened to undermine cooperation on important international issues, including the conflict in Syria, Iran’s nuclear program and the winding down of the American-led military operations in Afghanistan. “The usefulness of contacts at the highest level is obvious to us,” he said. He added that criticism of Russia’s handling of Mr. Snowden’s appeal were “simply absurd.” That issue seems sure to be discussed by the four officials at when they meet in Washington. Officials in the United States said the meeting had long been planned, but that the issue of Mr. Snowden and the implications for the summit were sure to come up. But American officials stressed that the standoff about the summit is the result of more than just Mr. Snowden. The relationship between Russia and the United States has bogged down over questions about nuclear weapons, a dispute over what to do in Syria, questions about Iran and other issues. Speaking in Rome, Mr. Lavrov said Tuesday that imposing new sanctions on Iran — like those proposed in a bill passed last week by the House of Representatives — would not be viewed as productive by Russians. Mr. Lavrov also discussed the need to move ahead with Syrian peace talks that had been agreed to by Mr. Lavrov and Mr. Kerry in Moscow last May. “The more we delay calling it, the more victims there will be among civilians,” Mr. Lavrov said at a news conference in Rome, according to Interfax. He blamed the Syrian rebels for resisting opening talks with President Bashar al-Assad’s government. Mr. Snowden, meantime, remains in seclusion, having made no public appearances or statements since he left Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow last Thursday. On Tuesday, his lawyer, Anatoly G. Kucherena, said in an interview that Mr. Snowden had received an official residence permit required for any Russian or foreigner to live in the country, though he again declined to discuss his exact whereabouts. He also said that he had extended an official invitation to help Mr. Snowden’s father and friends obtain visas to visit him in Russia.
http://www.thehindu.com/The UN said that it is ready to assist Pakistan and Afghanistan if required, as monsoon rains and floods have reportedly killed at least 120 people in these two countries. “The (UN) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and its humanitarian partners are reviewing the situation and stand ready to assist if required,” reported Xinhua citing UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky. “Further monsoons are forecast later in the month.” “UN and humanitarian partners are ready to provide food, basic household items, water, sanitation and emergency health support, if required,” Nesirky added. The OCHA “has received reports indicating that heavy monsoon rains have killed more than 80 people across Pakistan, displacing hundreds, ravaging thousands of acres of crops and causing huge damage to houses and infrastructure,” the spokesperson said, while adding the Pakistani authorities have not yet requested international assistance. Meanwhile, flash floods have affected villages in Kabul in the past few days. As of Aug 4, at least 40 people were reported to have died, and homes, schools and mosques had been destroyed or badly damaged, said Nesirky.
جھوٹ اور دروغ گوئی کے شرمناک فعل کے باوجود بھی خود درخواست گزار راجہ ظفر الحق اور ان کے صدارتی امیدوار ممنون حسین تک نے عمرے کی سعادت حاصل کرنے اور اعتکاف میں بیٹھنے کی زحمت گوارا نہیں کی۔ اعجاز درانی
27 رمضان المبارک کی مقدس شب اور پورا دن گزر گیا ۔ 24 جولائی کو ن لیگ کی جانب سے سپریم کورٹ آف پاکستان میں دائر کی جانے والی درخواست جھوٹی اور بے بنیاد ثابت ہوئی۔ ن لیگ کے اراکین پارلیمنٹ کی ایک فیصد تعداد بھی عمرے پر روانہ ہوئی اور نہ ہی کوئی کسی نے اعتکاف میں بیٹھنے کی زحمت گوارا کی اور تو اور درخواست گزار سینیٹر راجہ ظفر الحق اور مسلم لیگ ن کے صدارتی امیدوار نے بھی عمرے پر جانے اور اعتکاف میں بیٹھنے سے اجتناب کیا جو سراسر توہین عدالت کے مترادف ہے۔ بلاول ہاؤس کے ترجما ن اعجاز درانی نے کہا ہے کہ صدارتی انتخاب کی تاریخ کی تبدیلی کے لیے ن لیگ کے چیئرمین راجہ ظفر الحق کی جانب سے “عمرے اور اعتکاف” کے نام پر دائر کی جانے والی درخواست اور خودساختہ مذہبی دلائل اب 27 رمضان المبارک کا دن گزر جانے کے بعد مکمل طور پر جھوٹ اور بے بنیاد ثابت ہوچکے ہیں کیونکہ 30 جولائی کے یکطرفہ انتخابی نتائج کے حصول کے بعد ن لیگ اور ان کے اتحادیوں کے اراکین پارلیمنٹ کی 5 فیصد تعداد نے بھی عمرے کی سعادت حاصل کی اور نہ ہی وہ 20 رمضان المبارک کو اعتکاف میں بیٹھنے کے لیے مساجد میں تشریف لے گئے۔ ترجمان نے واضح کیا کہ 24 جولائی کو دائر کی جانے والی مذکورہ درخواست کے مقاصد پوری دنیا کے سامنے بے نقاب ہوجانے کے بعد نہ صرف صدارتی انتخابات کی حیثیت مزید غیر آئینی ہوگئی ہے بلکہ درخواست گزار رجہ ظفر الحق سمیت ن لیگ اور ان کے اتحادیوں کے تمام اراکین پارلیمنٹ کے عدالتی بیانات توہین عدالت کے زمرے میں داخل ہوگئے ہیں۔ جو سپریم کورٹ آف پاکستان کے لیے ایک کھلا چیلنج ہے۔ انہوں نے کہا یہ امر بھی انتہائی حیرت کا باعث ہے کہ جھوٹ اور دروغ گوئی کے شرمناک فعل کے باوجود بھی خود درخواست گزار راجہ ظفر الحق اور ان کے صدارتی امیدوار ممنون حسین تک نے عمرے کی سعادت حاصل کرنے اور اعتکاف میں بیٹھنے کی زحمت گوارا نہیں کی۔ اعجاز درانی نے کہا کہ معزز قانون دان، وکلاء برادری، قومی میڈیا اور سول سوسائٹی اس حقیقت کو بھی اپنے سامنے رکھیں کہ 30 جولائی کے صدارتی انتخاب میں ن لیگ اور ان کے اتحادیوں نے اپنے صدارتی امیدوار کے حق میں 878 ووٹ کاسٹ کیے تھے لیکن وزیر اعظم میاں نواز شریف، وزیر خزانہ اسحاق ڈار اور چند بااثر حکومتی شخصیات کے علاوہ کسی نے بھی سپریم کورٹ میں دائر کی جانے والی درخواست کی نہ صرف پاسداری نہیں کی بلکہ دنیا بھر کے لوگوں کے سامنے پاکستان اور یہاں کی اعلی عدالتوں کی جگ ہنسائی کی۔
Iconic musician Roger Waters gave support to the Gezi Park protests by having the names of the five Gezi Park victims screened on the wall during his Istanbul concert on the night of Aug. 4. The former Pink Floyd member was playing the British progressive rock legend's classic record "The Wall" in its entirety in his "The Wall Live" show. A gigantic wall was built on stage during the set, and many human rights activists and victims of terror and wars were projected to the stage during the concert. Names and photographs of Gezi Park protesters, Ethem Sarısülük, Ali İsmail Korkmaz, Abdullah Cömert, Mehmet Ayvalıtaş, and police officer Mustafa Sarı, who lost their lives in Turkey rallies earlier this summer were projected to the stage. Waters stated "for people who lost their lives because of state terror" in a speech he gave in Turkish. The audience chanted "Everywhere is Taksim, everywhere is resistance," the main slogan used during the protests that had spread to most of the country. Photos of prominent Turkish figures who were killed in political assassinations, including Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, investigative journalist Uğur Mumcu and former prime minister Adnan Menderes, were also screened on the wall, though separate from the Gezi Park victims.
Musicians in Pakistan call for the YouTube ban to be lifted saying it harms their careers.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi said India would not be cowed down by the "deceitful" killing of five of its soldiers by Pakistan along the LoC and asked the government to take "appropriate" measures. Expressing deep grief and shock over the incident in Jammu & Kashmir, she said that the entire Congress party as indeed the entire country stands by the families of the martyred soldiers. Sonia said the Indian nation could "not be cowed down" by such "blatant acts of deceit" and urged the government to take appropriate steps. Army chief Gen Bikram Singh will visit Poonch to take stock of the situation. India will take steps to uphold sanctity of LoC: Antony Making suo motu statement in both Houses of Parliament on this morning's incident, defence minister AK Antony said the attack was carried out on the Indian side of the LoC. An Indian army patrol, comprising one junior commissioned officer and five other ranks, was "ambushed on our side" of the LoC in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir, he said in identical statements in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. "The ambush was carried out by approximately 20 heavily-armed terrorists along with persons dressed in Pakistan army uniform," he said. "In the ensuing firefight, five Indian soldiers were martryred and one soldier was injured," he said. Strongly condemning the "unprovoked incident", Antony said, "I assure the House that our Army is fully ready to take all necessary steps to uphold the sanctity of LoC." He said the government of India has lodged a strong protest with the Pakistan government through diplomatic channels. His statement came after members expressed anger over the incident and wanted to know how the government was responding to it. Antony said the number of infiltration attempts from Pakistan have doubled this year in comparison to the corresponding period of January 1 to August 5. There have also been 57 ceasefire violations this year which is 80 per cent more than the violations last year during the same period, the defence minister said. He said the Indian Army successfully eliminated 19 hardcore terrorists in July and August along the LoC and in the hinterland in Jammu and Kashmir. The effective counter infiltration grid on the LoC has ensured that 17 infiltration bids were foiled this year, he said.
The Obama administration’s decision to close nearly two dozen embassies and issue a worldwide travel alert was difficult to quarrel with. We obviously do not have access to the intelligence that was the basis for the extraordinary closures, but American officials who do claim that they uncovered one of the most serious plots against United States and other Western interests since Sept. 11, 2001. According to The Times, officials intercepted electronic communications in which the leader of Al Qaeda in Pakistan, Ayman al-Zawahri, who succeeded Osama bin Laden, ordered Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the leader of the terrorist group’s most lethal branch in Yemen, to carry out an attack as early as this past Sunday. That day, the State Department extended the closing of 19 diplomatic posts in the Middle East and North Africa through at least Saturday. The information was credible enough that several European countries also closed embassies in the Middle East. It also was credible enough that Republican members of Congress who are among President Obama’s harshest critics on security and other issues have endorsed the administration’s response. Representative Peter King, the New York Republican who is chairman of the House subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence, told ABC News that “the government would have been totally negligent if it did not take the actions taken.” Still, both the administration’s acts, and the Republicans’ response are shaped by the recent political past. The administration, excoriated by Republicans for underestimating the deteriorating security environment in Benghazi, Libya, that led to the killing of four American diplomats last Sept. 11, is bending over backward to avoid a repeat. Republican lawmakers made such an issue of Benghazi and failed to prove any dark conspiracy that they can hardly fault Mr. Obama now for taking maximum precautions. It’s no surprise that some politicians are trying to exploit the episode by arguing that it proves the value of the National Security Agency’s domestic intelligence sweeps. On Sunday, Senator Saxby Chambliss, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said of the N.S.A. sweeps: “If we did not have these programs, then we simply would not be able to listen in on the bad guys.” No one has questioned the N.S.A.’s role in collecting intelligence overseas, but the debate is about domestic efforts to vacuum up large volumes of data on the phone calls of every American that are legally questionable and needlessly violate Americans’ rights. A threat from Al Qaeda, no matter how serious, should not divert attention from a thorough investigation of the domestic spying. The United States cannot fail to take reasonable precautions at its embassies, but neither can it be paralyzed and shut down its diplomatic functions for prolonged periods. The embassies should reopen as soon as possible and security should be hardened at high-risk stations. That will require Republicans in Congress, who have slashed embassy security budgets, to approve money for upgrades and other post-Benghazi recommendations. The challenge is to manage risk while staying involved in the world. Al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen and elsewhere will be a threat for the foreseeable future.
THE STATE Department has shuttered 19 embassies for a week, fearing terrorist attacks. Hundreds of prisoners, including senior al-Qaeda operatives, have busted loose in prison breaks in Iraq, Libya and Pakistan. At Bagram air base in Afghanistan, The Post’s Kevin Sieff reports, U.S. forces are holding 67 non-Afghan prisoners, many of whom can’t be tried in court but are too dangerous to release. Meanwhile President Obama says he wants to “refine and ultimately repeal” the mandate Congress has given him to fight the war on terror. What’s going on here? Without doubt, the central al-Qaeda leadership has been weakened, not least by the killing of Osama bin Laden. As Mr. Obama noted in a May 23 speech at National Defense University, “there have been no large-scale attacks on the United States” since 9/11 — a period of relative safety that few thought likely in the aftermath of the 2001 attacks. At the same time, as he also noted, al-Qaeda affiliates are emerging in many nations beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan, home-grown terror remains a danger and “unrest in the Arab world has also allowed extremists to gain a foothold in countries like Libya and Syria.” From the beginning of his tenure, the president has been reluctant to build a legal framework that would assume that the fight against al-Qaeda and like-minded groups might go on for a long time. He not only proposed closing the prison at Guantanamo, rightly given its poisonous effect on the United States’ image, but he also opposed options to hold prisoners taken in future operations. That may be one reason so many alleged terrorists have been killed during his time in office and so few captured. It also helps explain the quandary the United States faces with its non-Afghan prisoners when it transfers control of the Bagram prison to Afghanistan. The United States is holding prisoners of war without fully acknowledging the war. The president also has sought to minimize U.S. involvement in dangerous countries as much and as quickly as possible. He failed to negotiate a follow-on force in Iraq, where violence is again spiraling out of control. He has resisted engagement in Syria, where vicious brigades associated with al-Qaeda are establishing beachheads. He has provided little assistance to Tunisia or Libya, where emerging democracies are struggling to contain Islamist militias. He surged troops to Afghanistan but simultaneously announced a timetable for their withdrawal, which is underway. Mr. Obama’s preferred approach has been to rely on intelligence and drone strikes, but last week Secretary of State John F. Kerry said “the president has a very real timeline” for ending drone strikes in Pakistan, “and we hope it’s going to be very, very soon.” The State Department later qualified his statement, but Mr. Obama has supported the sentiment. He said in May, “This war, like all wars, must end.” Mr. Obama is right to worry about the corrosive effect, for example on civil liberties, of perpetual war. But like all wars, this one will end only if one party is defeated or both agree to lay down their weapons. Neither appears likely any time soon, and the president’s eagerness to disengage, while understandable and in sync with U.S. public opinion, may in the end lengthen the conflict. His hope of fighting the bad guys as antiseptically as possible, with drone strikes and a minimal presence, may prove as forlorn as President Clinton’s similar effort in the 1990s, when the equivalent weapon at his disposal was cruise missiles. While Mr. Obama is also right that military tools aren’t enough in a conflict like this, his promise of “patiently supporting transitions to democracy in places like Egypt and Tunisia and Libya” through non-military means — the proper strategy — is not being kept. The resulting vacuum will be filled, and not to the United States’ liking.
India's army says five of its soldiers were killed when Pakistani troops fired at a post near the cease-fire line in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir on Tuesday. The incident could threaten recent overtures aimed at resuming peace talks between the nuclear-armed rivals. The military called the attack a "gross violation" of a 2003 cease-fire in Kashmir between India and Pakistan. Pakistan's military denied that its soldiers killed any Indian troops. While the cease-fire has largely held for the last decade, such sporadic violations are not uncommon. Each accuses the other of initiating the fighting by firing mortars or gunshots across the line of control. The two countries have fought three major wars since they achieved independence from British India in 1947, two of them over Kashmir, which is claimed in its entirety by both but divided between them. Pakistan's newly elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been indicating he is open to restarting peace talks. Omar Abdullah, the top elected official of India's Jammu and Kashmir state, said in a tweet that such violent incidents "don't help efforts to normalize or even improve relations" and may even call the recent Pakistan peace overtures into question. While the countries remain rivals, relations between them have improved dramatically since the most recent low point in the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai siege, in which 10 Pakistani gunmen killed 166 people and forced the shut down the city for days. India says the terrorists had ties to Pakistani intelligence officials -- an accusation Islamabad denies. Signs of their improving ties include new visa rules announced last December designed to make cross-border travel easier. The countries have also taken steps to improve cross-border trade. Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/08/06/india-claims-5-soldiers-killed-by-pakistan/#ixzz2bB76WUPy
The future of millions of school-going children in Balochistan has been jeopardised due to gender disparity, bad governance and lack of quality education, said United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Balochistan Representative Qaisar Khan Jamali. He said gender disparity was increasing in Balochistan. “In urban areas 30 percent of the school-going children are girls whereas this fraction drops to 26 percent in rural areas,” said Jamali. “Out of over 12,000 schools in 32 districts of Balochistan only 3,400 schools are for females,” he said. A recent survey report by the government and non-governmental organisations revealed that 0.59 million children of school-going age in Balochistan had never attended school and 44 percent children (60 percent girls) were presently not enrolled in schools, he said, According to the UNESCO representative, the impression that Balochistan was a typical tribal society where girls were barred from attending schools was wrong. The children, both boys and girls of many tribal chiefs were enrolled in renowned institutions across the country, he said, adding that leading Baloch and Pashtun parties such as the National Party and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP) were firm supporters of education, particularly for girls. “PKMAP has held several rallies in the past for encouraging girls education and criticised the previous government’s policies for not giving due attention to this issue,” he said. “The only way to steer Balochistan out of the current crises is better access of the youth to quality education,” said the MPA-elect from Dera Bugti where the child enrolment in primary schools was the lowest at 27.5 percent with minimum ratio of girl students” enrolment. He said it was the responsibility of the government to ensure quality education and remove gender disparity by providing equal opportunities to both boys and girls. A recent survey report released by the Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) has questioned the quality of education being imparted in the province. “The learning ability of school-going age children in terms of reading Urdu, English or doing basic arithmetic is alarmingly poor,” said ITA Provincial Head Syed Tanzeem Akhtar. “85 percent of class 3 students are not able to read class 2 level Urdu and 64 percent of the students can not solve class 2 level division problems," he added. Balochistan's education department has been without any specific education policy for the last 30 years. There is no benchmark for hiring and monitoring the work of teachers and no effort is put into the improvement of teaching standards. “Yes there are issues stopping us from achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” said Planning and Development Department Education Sector official Nawaz Baloch. He said poor law and order in the province was the main reason for the poor quality of education. “When female teachers are reluctant to go to rural parts of the province for security reasons, how can we improve girls' education and resolve the issue of gender disparity,” he deplored. However, the provincial Education Department has prepared the provincial bill on Article 25A for free and compulsory education and forwarded it to the higher authorities for approval. Rs 34,898.635 million has been allocated for the education sector in the budget for financial year 2013-14, 37 percent more than the amount allocated in the previous budget. However, massive reforms are required in the education sector post devolution of the Education Ministry to the provinces. In his budget speech, Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch announced to build 300 new schools besides upgrading 300 existing ones. His government will, however, have to ensure equal opportunities to boys and girls and the immediate formation of a specific education policy to hire qualified teachers to save the future of millions of students. - See more at: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2013/08/05/news/national/gender-disparity-in-balochistan-jeopardises-girls-education/#sthash.21QCrWU7.dpuf
At least 14 people, including three security forces personnel, have been killed by rebel separatists after their vehicles were stopped at a fake checkpoint in Pakistan's volatile southwest, officials say. The gunmen, dressed in the uniform of Pakistani security forces, carried out Tuesday's attack in the Mach area of Balochistan province. Separatists kidnapped 23 labourers and security forces personnel after blocking the road, with 14 of them being killed in the attack. Mach is in the Bolan district of Balochistan, about 70km from Quetta, the provincial capital. "Miscreants blocked the road in two places. First they took away five FC [paramilitary] men from an FC patrol vehicle, tied them up and snatched their walkie-talkies and weapons," provincial home secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani told the AFP news agency. The rebels then stopped four buses and took away the 23 people. Nine of them, including six security forces personnel, were then released, Durrani told Al Jazeera. When security forces personnel confronted the attackers, the rebels fired off a rocket that killed one security officer, Durrani said. "Then they lined them up in the mountains and killed 13 [of the people kidnapped]," added Durrani. Local official, Kashif Nabi, confirmed the incident and said the bodies had been recovered. "We are making arrangements to bring them to Quetta," he said. Rebel groups in Balochistan say that the Pakistani state deprives those of Baloch origin of their rights, and have been fighting for independence from Pakistan for decades. In response, the Pakistani military has carried out a brutal crackdown on such groups. Durrani told Al Jazeera that authorities would be launching a "special operation" in response to Tuesday's raid. Violence in Balochistan has been particularly intense since the killing of Akbar Bugti, a Baloch separatist leader who was previously part of the government in 2006.
A court in Pakistan delayed the indictment of former leader Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday because it was too dangerous for him to attend the proceedings due to threats to his life. Musharraf, once Pakistan's most powerful man, had been expected to be charged over his failure to prevent the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007. The closely watched case has shattered an unwritten rule in Pakistan that the top military brass are untouchable. Charging Musharraf would be unprecedented in a country ruled by the military for half of its 66-year history. Public Prosecutor Mohammad Azhar told reporters at an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi - a military city where Bhutto was killed - that the indictment would now take place on August 20. "They have received threat letters," he said, adding that Musharraf's defense had formally requested the court delay the proceedings until the security situation improved. Musharraf was army chief and seized power in a 1999 coup. He later become president and stepped down in 2008. Bhutto was killed in a gun and suicide bomb attack after an election rally, weeks after she returned to Pakistan from years in self-imposed exile. The government at the time blamed Pakistani Taliban militants and Musharraf has said he warned her of the danger she faced. A U.N. commission of inquiry said in a 2010 report Pakistan failed to properly protect Bhutto or investigate her assassination. Pakistan has been on high alert this week and security has been tight in Islamabad and elsewhere ahead of a Muslim holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Taliban-linked militants threatened to kill Musharraf when he returned to Pakistan in March, hoping to contest an election in May after nearly four years of self-imposed exile. Instead, he was disqualified and became enmeshed in a thicket of legal cases going back to his near 10-year rule. His lawyer, Ahmed Raza Kasuri, said that intelligence agencies had intercepted messages indicating there could be attacks on various targets including Musharraf's residence just south of Islamabad. "In view of serious life threats to my client ... we have moved an application in court requesting he be dispensed from court appearance", he told Reuters. Pakistan's new civilian prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, who was toppled by Musharraf in the 1999 coup, stormed back to power in the May election. He has pushed for less army involvement in domestic affairs but behind the scenes the military is still believed to be calling the shots. An Interior Ministry spokesman said additional security measures had been in place since a jailbreak last week in which a number of militants escaped, saying it was not related to a separate global al Qaeda threat that prompted the closure of U.S. embassies in the Middle East and Africa.
Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbassi yesterday back-tracked on Eighteenth Constitutional Amendment, despite sounding stupendously tough 48 hours ago. The minister had evoked a considerable controversy by stating that the government is going to review the Eighteenth Amendment with a view to amending gas-sharing arrangement between the provinces. Senator Raza Rabbani, the head of the parliamentary committee that authored the Eighteenth Amendment with a consensus condemned the statement and ridiculed Abbassi by pointing out that the relevant Article 158 had not been amended in the Eighteenth Amendment. Fazlur Rehman, the chief of JUI (F), had also deplored Abbassi's statement and noted that it appears that like the past the government is defending Punjab's interest, which is creating insecurity in other provinces. Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) also castigated the minister's statement. Three statements of fact are required to be brought to the notice of the Petroleum Minister or whosoever is nursing any doubts about the profundity of this historic constitutional amendment without any further loss of time. First and foremost as broadly hinted at by Raza Rabbani the Eighteenth Amendment focused on unravelling the interventions to the constitution by successive military dictators who had gone to the appalling extent of even mentioning their names in the document. No other original clause of the constitution was touched upon by the Eighteenth Constitutional Amendment Committee as it would have been tantamount to compromising the original spirit of the drafters of the constitution. Second, harmony between provinces has eroded on a continuous basis with the passage of time. The fact that one federating unit namely Punjab constitutes the majority of the federation may well be one of the causes but certainly not the cause of inter-provincial disharmony that threatens to rock the federation. The 7th National Finance Commission Award did go some way in reducing the respective weight previously accorded to population in the federal divisible pool, and more to poverty/backwardness (10.3 percent) and revenue collection source (5 percent); however, Khaqan Abbassi's statement has refuelled concerns that Punjab is gung-ho zealot or overly zealous towards its strategy aimed at brow-beating smaller provinces of their constitutionally granted share of gas. Article 158 of the constitution states - clearly and unambiguously - that "the province in which a well-head is situated shall have precedence over other parts of Pakistan in meeting the requirements from that well-head subject to the commitments and obligations as on the commencing day." Abbassi and all other Doubting Thomases should not need reminding that one of the major grouse of Baloch insurgents is their legitimate contention that the province is the most undeveloped in spite of being the richest in natural resources. The situation had, therefore, warranted the insertion of a new clause in the Article 172 (through the 18th Amendment): "(3) Subject to the existing commitments and obligations, mineral oil and natural gas within the Province or the territorial waters adjacent thereto shall vest jointly and equally in that Province and the Federal Government." Thirdly, PML (N) was a party to the Eighteenth Amendment, all parties in parliament at the time were taken on board, and Abbassi's recent statement is being interpreted as the party's intent to push through an amendment by cobbling a two-thirds majority through fair means or foul that is required to amend the constitution. In this instance, however, one would sincerely hope that the ruling party acts more responsibly and seeks to form a consensus before embarking on an amendment that would simply further exacerbate provincial tensions. Additionally, one would hope that Abbassi's statement is one made by a maverick in the party though given the controversy it has generated it has become essential for the party leadership to distance itself from what he said. The PML (N) would do well to remember that during the 1990s when it had a two-third majority in the national assembly it supported the passage of the thirteenth and fourteenth constitutional amendments - the former took away the President's powers to dissolve the assemblies while the latter granted powers to the party leader that made the passage of a vote of no-confidence against him virtually impossible. Musharraf did away with these two amendments which enabled him to rule for almost a decade and which were restored with a consensus with the passage of Eighteenth Constitutional Amendment in 2010 by a civilian government. PML (N) would be well advised to seek a consensus before the party attempts to amend the constitution any further because that way alone lies provincial harmony - a necessary ingredient for the country to effectively tackle the myriad problems it faces today. Last but not least, Petroleum Minister Abbassi seeks to clarify his position by stating, inter alia, that he had told the media persons that his party never stated at the recent CCI meeting that the 18th Amendment would be reviewed, but his highly controversial statement has evoked a dangerous controversy nevertheless.
EDITORIALFresh from his bruising encounter with the Supreme Court, Imran Khan in a press conference on Sunday tilted against two new targets. First, he questioned the reasons for the one division of the army stationed in D I Khan not being deployed to prevent the jailbreak the other day, or in pursuit of the attackers. Imran Khan was in good company when he said it was beyond comprehension why the law enforcement agencies did not counter the terrorists. Everyone wants an answer to this conundrum. Logically the only two reasons for this debacle that suggest themselves are 1) either the jail staff was complicit; 2) they were not complicit but got cold feet and ran when the heavily armed terrorists arrived at the gates of the prison. Neither of these two propositions is contradicted by the fact that the prior intelligence warning of an imminent attack was discussed, but all to no avail when the calamity actually struck. The performance of the jail staff is one mystery, the other, the lack of help from the army, goes to the heart of the confusion surrounding our counter-terrorism operations. Under peacetime rules of engagement, the army cannot simply decide to intervene in a situation like that of the D I Khan jailbreak. The local administration and jail authorities should have called upon the army authorities if they feared they would not be able to stave off a determined attack, or informed the military of what was happening inside once the terrorists arrived (and stayed to enjoy iftar delicacies). The lack of communication underlines the lack of coordination for antiterrorist operations between the civilian and military authorities. This lack of coordination is replicated in the lack of coordination between the Centre and the provinces. Into this ‘Swiss cheese’ of our counter-terrorism edifice, the terrorist ‘mice’ can burrow through the holes with the greatest of ease. Once again, without the civilian and military, federal and provincial authorities being together under one counter-terrorist umbrella, it will remain an ‘unequal’ contest. Imran Khan’s other target was the redoubtable Maulana Fazlur Rehman. Imran Khan has threatened to take the Maulana to court over his allegation that Imran Khan is a Jewish agent. Now this kind of slander has been around ever since Imran Khan married his now divorced wife Jemima Khan. Although she is a Christian, her family is said to have Jewish ancestry. Does that suffice to label Imran Khan a ‘Jewish agent’? Apparently, in the ‘low’ narrative of the Maulana, yes. Imran Khan questioned the Maulana who after all was an agent when WikiLeaks had revealed the Maulana’s efforts to persuade the US ambassador to support Maulana for prime minister. True or not, we would advise Imran Khan not to stoop to Maulana’s level of vituperation, but indeed take him to court (and if possible to the cleaners) if he cannot substantiate his wild allegation.
Daily TimesThe Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Awami National Party (ANP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have pledged to counter any move by the government to modify the 18th Amendment. PPP leader in Senate, Raza Rabbani, has said that the party has started making contacts with the opposition to requisition a session of parliament on the issue. Talking to the media outside the Parliament House on Monday, he said that the requisition for the session would be submitted after Eid. He said that Federal Minster for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has threatened to roll back the 18th Amendment and talked about altering the clause 158 of 18th Amendment which pertains to distribution of natural gas. “If government would modify the 18th Amendment, it would be a hit on the face of federation and PPP would not allow it to do so,” Rabbani added. He said that the architects of 18th Amendment from the PML-N, including Ishaq Dar, Ahsan Iqbal and Mehtab Abbasi, will be contacted and asked to convince their party in this connection. The Awami National Party (ANP) also vowed to resist the moves of PML-N’s government to “usurp the rights of provinces envisaged in 18th Constitutional Amendment”. Addressing a press conference outside the Parliament House, ANP’s Vice President Haji Adeel accompanied by Information Secretary Zahid Khan took strong exception to Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s statement over natural resources sharing formula and termed it unconstitutional. Haji Adeel said that the 1973 constitution envisaged first right of the province on a resource discovered in its territory. He said that Abbasi has given a statement totally against this stipulation and he should not be given representation in the cabinet if he holds such views. Adeel accused the PML-N federal government of snatching the rights of the provinces given through 18th Amendment and vowed to resist such moves. The ANP leader also lashed out at the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), and Imran Khan whom he accused of exerting pressure for getting results of his choice in the bye-elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. About the terrorism incidents in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the ANP leader said that the current provincial government is hiding due to fear of terrorists. Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf also strongly criticised the PML-N government’s intentions of revising the 18th Amendment’s natural resources’-sharing formula – specifically targeting of the gas-sharing formula and first rights. According to a statement of PTI, Central Information Secretary Dr Shireen Mazari said the PML-N was part of the 18th Amendment discussions and final agreement. At the time they accepted the strengthening of the provinces control over their natural resources but it seems they were merely playing politics rather than sharing a conviction that power needed to be devolved to the provinces.
PPP’s Sindh Government has established the Sindh Human Rights Commission; a government-run body to protect people’s fundamental rights, with former judge Sindh High Court Justice (rtd) Majida Razvi as its chairperson. Speaking at a press conference here on Monday, Majida Razvi said that the Federal Government has taken steps and legislated laws that led to setting up of ‘Sindh Human Rights Commission’ under The Sindh Protection of Human Rights Act, 2011. Two members of the commission, Syed Gul Munir Shah and Rubina Brohi also accompanied her on the occasion. Razvi said the Commission’s job is to protect the fundamental human rights enshrined in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973, the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and to create a society ‘free of violence, extremism and have an environment of peace, interfaith and justice’. She added that the Commission would be able to inquire, take suo moto on petition by victims or any person on his/her behalf in complaint of a violation of fundamental rights or abetment, negligence in the prevention of such violation, by a public servant. It can also recommend the government to initiate measures, including action to be taken against anyone involved in violation of basic rights. The Commission can also formulate, implement and regularly update policies with a view to protect Human Rights as well as review the safeguards provided by or under the constitution. It will study treaties and other international instruments on human rights, and make recommendations for their effective implementation. An HRCC Complaint Cell will also be set up to monitor the violation of Human Rights; it will receive complaints for legal act, domestic violence, Karo-Kari, Burn Cases, etc.
CM KPK Pervez Khattak has revealed that local army units refused to follow orders of provincial administration to engage with Taliban terrorists who attacked the DI Khan prison. He said that army units even did not follow orders to blow up Taliban TTP vehicles standing inside DI Khan jail. CM Khattal told Army conveyed to brass that local army units did not cooperate with KPK admin prior to DI Khan jail break. He revealed that full anti-terrorist attack rehearsal was carried out three days before to repel the DI Khan attack but army and local security institutions behaved as sitting ducks when it actually happened. Instead of fighting, they gave easy walkover to Taliban allowing them to complete their operation in the jail and an easy escape back to North Waziristan which is at least 70 miles from D.I.Khan. CM Khattak also alleged that whole DI Khan Jail break drama was staged to malign and topple PTI government in KP province. Insider circles in Islamabad reveal that PML-N and JUI-F have approached Pakistan army and Sipah Sahaba Taliban to steup pressure on PTI govt in KP province, replacing it with PMLN-JUIF coalition government. While PMLN is known for its links with Takfiri Deobandi militants of ASWJ-Taliban, the footsoldiers are usually from the Deobandi sub-sect which is represented by Maulana Fazlur Rehman of JUIF. Corps Commander Peshawar is now investigating into CM KPK’s allegations about DI Khan Jail break, however, it is anticipated that just like Abbottabad Commission and Saleeem Shahzaz Commission, this mattr too will end up in exoneration of army generals. (Reported by Rauf Klasra in daily Dunya – Urdu). Recently Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan said on Sunday (4 Aug 2013) that terrorists succeeded in breaking the Dera Ismail Khan jail although one division of the army was present in the city. “We have to find a new way to fight terrorism. There is an entire division of army in Dera Ismail Khan. It is beyond comprehension as to why law enforcement agencies didn’t counter the terrorists,” Imran told a press conference. The PTI chief called the jail incident a source of concern for the nation and said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak’s inquiry report would be brought forward. (Source) When asked about the number of hardened criminals escaped from the jail, CM Mr Pervaiz Khattak said that 30 to 35 most wanted persons were among the total 250 runaway prisoners. He hinted at involvement of ‘big hands’ (army/ISI) in the jailbreak, but did not name any organisation, group or individual. “This is very strange that people came in pickup trucks, motorbikes, broke the jail and took away 250 prisoners easily,” the chief minister said, adding that no officer would be pardoned if negligence proved on his behalf. He said that federal interior minister should also visit the jail. - See more at: http://lubpak.com/archives/280323#sthash.9hUZMAcV.dpuf