Saturday, August 10, 2013

Egyptian prosecutors have evidence Morsi incited murder of protesters

Egyptian prosecutors have evidence that ousted president Mohamed Morsi incited the murder of protesters during the demonstrations that followed Morsi's controversial constitutional decree which gave him sweeping powers late last year, Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm quoted informed judicial sources as saying Saturday. According to the report, East Cairo Prosecution, charged with investigating the clashes in which dozens were killed and hundreds were injured, called on the public prosecutor to designate a judge to question Morsi.Al-Masry Al-Youm quoted sources as saying Morsi, who has been in custody since his July 3 ouster by the military, faces charges of "involvement in torture, intimidating citizens and attempted murder." Egypt announced a criminal investigation against Morsi shortly after his ouster last month, with prosecutors saying they were examining complaints of spying, inciting violence and ruining the economy. The public prosecutor's office issued a statement at the time saying it had received complaints against Morsi and eight other named Islamist figures including top Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie, and others it did not identify. Earlier this week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Egypt's interim authorities to release Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders currently in detention "or have their cases reviewed in full transparency." European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton met Morsi last month, saying she found that he was well and had access to television and newspapers. Ashton was speaking to journalists after meeting Morsi at an undisclosed location. "I've tried to make sure that his family know he is well," said Ashton. Ashton, who is trying to mediate a resolution to Egypt's political crisis, added: "I said I wouldn't come unless I could see him (Morsi)." Asked about a media report that she had offered Morsi a "safe exit", she replied: "I did nothing of the kind."

Saudi Arabia Continues to Fight Human Rights Organizations

It is almost impossible for human rights organisations to function legally in Saudi Arabia. The absolute monarchy has once again blocked the efforts of Adala Center for Human Rights to legalise its work in the country. The centre's lawsuit against the Ministry of Social Affairs was recently dismissed, drawing criticism from activists. The Ministry of Social affairs had earlier rejected registering Adala center as an official association when it was newly established in 2011. Their application was rejected because Adala is not a charity organization, the only type of civil society organizations allowed in the Kingdom. The court has found the ministry's refusal compatible with laws and regulations. Zaid al-Hussain, the vice president of the governmental Human Rights Commission, told Al-Madina that he expects a new civil society law to be issued soon. Adala's lawyer, Taha Al-Hajji, referred to the United Nation's Universal Periodic Review recommendation in 2008: “Saudi Arabia should guarantee civil society representatives and human rights defenders their rights to establish organizations and exercise their rights to free expression.” “Saudi Arabia responded positively to the recommendation saying that the Kingdom encourages the establishment of human rights organizations,” Al-Hajji told Al-Hayat.
On Riyadh Bureau, blogger Ahmed Al Omran explains:
''The three judges presiding over the case said in their ruling that they found MOSA’s refusal to register Adala as a licensed organization compatible with laws and regulations. MOSA has argued that their decision to deny a license to Adala was on the basis that they can only license charities, and that the activities of Adala are not covered by the Ministry’s definition of what is a charity. The fact that Adala’s principles and goals are based on international laws and accords like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was also of concern to the judges who said these “man-made laws” do not comply with Islamic Sharia. “Using these man-made laws without reservations as it is evident in the Center’s charter violates Article 7 of the Basic Law of Governance,” the judges said. The Basic Law of Governance serves as a proto-constitution in Saudi Arabia where the uncodified tenets of Islamic Sharia remain the supreme law and judges, most of them trained as clerics, are granted excessive power to issue rulings according to their own interpretation of the law.''
The Union for Human Rights:
The Union for Human Rights faced similar circumstances last May. All members were summoned to the bureau of investigations and persecution. There, they were asked to suspend any activities until their union gets licensed or they will face detainment. Later, the Ministry of Social Affairs rejected their application and asked them to wait for the new civil society law. On Twitter, activist Dr Madawi Al Rasheed comments on the continuous crackdown on human rights organisations and activists saying [ar]: The more people's awareness of human rights work increases, the more authorities resort to imprisoning activists to deter others from joining them. But this strategy is doomed to fail on the long run.
The Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association:
In March, a judge had ordered the dissolving of the unlicensed Saudi Civil and Political Right Association, ACPRA, in addition to jailing two of its members. Five more members are in jail on various charges that include “breaking allegiance to the ruler and his successor,” “trying to impede the country’s developments” and “speaking with foreign media channels” Under Saudi law, most forms of association are banned and public assembly is restricted. Human rights organizations have to get a license to operate, but the ministry rarely issues licenses to human rights organisations. The monarchy does not acknowledge basic human rights like freedom of speech. Most of the legal proceedings initiated against human rights activists in the last year have been because they are involved in organisations that “don't have permission” to operate.

Bahrainis hold funeral for boy killed in regime crackdown

People in Bahrain have held a massive funeral procession for a young boy who died after inhaling toxic gas used by the regime forces, becoming the latest victim of the kingdom’s brutal crackdown. People joined the procession that started from the town of al-Malikiyah to his resting place on Saturday. Ali Jaffar Habib, 10, was transferred to a hospital outside Bahrain after he became seriously ill for inhaling toxic gas. The young boy’s grandfather, Haji Habib, was killed on the same day the regime forces fired toxic gas. More than one hundred people have died since the revolution began two years ago. Many of the victims died when regime forces fired poisonous tear gas into residential areas and homes to crush anti-regime protests. The kingdom’s main opposition group, al-Wefaq, said earlier that the regime forces raided 216 homes in several villages across the country last week. The opposition group also said most raids took place after midnight or at dawn and 42 people including two children were also arrested. Manama has been under fire for its human rights record and harsh crackdown on protesters. On August 7, Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa banned protests in the capital, Manama, ahead of the August 14 celebrations of the country’s independence from the United Kingdom. Bahrainis have been staging demonstrations since mid-February 2011, demanding political reform and a constitutional monarchy, a demand that later changed to an outright call for the ouster of the ruling Al Khalifa family following its brutal crackdown on popular protests.

Bahraini govt ‘blocks’ activist from traveling home to Gulf kingdom

A prominent Bahraini activist was prevented from boarding a British Airways flight from Denmark ahead of major protests expected to occur in her home country next Wednesday. She says the Bahraini government denied her from traveling. “I was blocked at the boarding and told to check with the counter because there was a problem. The lady called the office in London who told her that there was a denied boarding message as a decision from the Bahraini government,” Maryam Al-Khwaja told the International Business Times. “Like all airlines, we are required to comply with requests from individual government authorities,” a BA spokesperson told the news website.
The activist asked the airline to explain why the ban had been issued, but was not initially given a reason. “I've put in a request and they're going to get back to me. I told them to move as fast as possible because if I don't receive a response I'll be consulting a lawyer on the possibility of going to court,” she said. Mass protests are scheduled to take place in Bahrain on August 14 – the country’s Independence Day. King Hamad, whose Gulf kingdom has been rocked by Shiite-led protests since 2011, banned protests in Manama on Wednesday in anticipation of the rallies.
The royal decree modifies the law to “ban organizing protests, rallies, gatherings or sit-ins in Manama, with the exception of sit-ins outside [offices of] international organizations” which have been approved by police. Al-Khwaja said that Bahrain’s government wants “no witnesses to its current and anticipated future violations,” according to a statement from the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BHCR). She later tweeted, “What I want to know is what the regime is so afraid of that they [would] issue a ban preventing me from traveling to Bahrain.” The activist was due to visit her father and her sister, who are currently imprisoned in Bahrain for their roles in pro-democracy protests. Al-Khawaja, who holds dual Bahraini-Danish citizenship but has not renewed her Bahraini passport, is acting president of the BHCR. Her predecessor Nabeel Rajab, the organization’s official president and prominent human rights activist, is currently serving a prison sentence. He was initially arrested for criticizing the prime minister on Twitter in 2012 and was later convicted of disturbing public order, calling for marches without giving prior notification, and participating in illegal gatherings. Bahrain, which hosts the US Fifth fleet, has made a record 221 entry-denials since February 14, 2011, according to Bahrain Watch. Those barred from entering the country include foreign journalists, NGO members, trade unionists, politicians, aid workers, and activists.

President Obama's Weekly Address

Islamabad: Would-be suicide bomber identified, 3 suspects arrested

A would be-suicide bomber who was shot dead inside a mosque in Bara Kahu area of Islamabad on Friday has been identified as Zakaullah. The attacker belongs to Chak number 239 of Bhawana area in Jhang district, police said. Police also raided the area and arrested two brothers and father of the suspect suicide attacker. A major terrorism attempt was foiled Friday afternoon when the suicide bomber was gunned down at a mosque in the federal capital Islamabad. According to initial reports, the suspected bomber was trying to enter the Imambargah in Bara Kahu a village on the northeastern outskirts of Islamabad, when he was stopped by security guards. “A suicide bomber targeted a Shia mosque on the outskirts of Islamabad in Bhara Kahu area but could not explode himself due to timely interception by a private security guard,” police officer Nasir Mehmood told news agency AFP. “The guard opened fire on the bomber as he entered the mosque and killed him. He could not explode his jacket.” Another police official, Majeed-ur-Rehman, said a guard was killed in an exchange of fire with the bomber before he was shot dead. Another police official confirmed the death. TV channels showed the body of the bomber lying in the main prayer hall of the mosque. Two cables going up from his left arm could also be seen. Senior Superintendent of Police Operation Dr Rizwan told a TV channel that the mosque was later sealed off by police personnel and that the bomb disposal squad was called in to clear the area of any explosives. Security has been beefed up in Islamabad and the rest of the country due to threats of terrorist attacks on the Muslim holy day of Eid ul Fitr. This was the second major attack on the same day. At least 10 people were killed and many others injured earlier on Friday morning when gunmen attacked worshipers during Eidul Fitr prayers at a mosque in Quetta, the capital of restive Balochistan province. The attacks came a day after a suicide bomber targeted a police funeral and killed at least 30 people, mostly police officers, in the same city. The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for Thursday's bombing.

Pakistan on High Alert After Intercepting Threats to Military Sites

Security forces in Islamabad were on high alert for a possible militant attack on Friday after intercepting threats against major military installations, the police said. The heightened security alert came hours after American officials evacuated the consulate in Lahore, Pakistan, also on security fears. The police said 2,500 officers had been deployed across Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, after intelligence intercepts indicated that militants were planning to attack the headquarters of the Pakistan Air Force and Navy. Private security guards killed a suicide bomber as he tried to force his way into a Shiite mosque on the edge of the capital, thwarting what appeared to be another in a series of sectarian attacks across Pakistan. Earlier in the week, military commandos patrolled in Margalla Hills, which overlooks Islamabad and is considered one of the city’s most vulnerable security points. “Government buildings are under threat, but we also have information that terrorists can also strike at a public place,” said a senior police official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Meghan Gregonis, a spokeswoman for the American Embassy in Islamabad, said all but essential staff members had been evacuated from the Lahore consulate. “It was a precautionary measure,” she said in a telephone interview. “We received specific information regarding the consulate.” Ms. Gregonis declined to specify the nature of the threat. In Washington, Obama administration officials said the threat was not linked to the one from Al Qaeda that caused the closing of 19 diplomatic missions across Africa, Asia and the Middle East last weekend. Lahore is the cultural capital of Pakistan and the home of the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif. It has been targeted by militant groups several times in recent years, with attacks on police facilities, intelligence offices, and sporting and cultural events. But the city is also home to militant groups that operate in plain view, like Lashkar-e-Taiba, which was responsible for terror attacks in 2008 in Mumbai, India, and whose leader, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, lives in a Lahore neighborhood under police protection. The other two American consulates in Pakistan, in Karachi and Peshawar, had not been affected by the security threats. All American diplomatic missions in Pakistan would have been closed until Monday anyway because of the Muslim holiday Id al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. But, Ms. Gregonis said, while most American offices are expected to reopen on Monday, it is not clear when the Lahore consulate will return to normal. A similar situation occurred in September when riots erupted in Lahore to protest a video clip that insulted the Prophet Muhammad and that had been produced in the United States. The protests forced the temporary closing of the consulate and the transfer of staff members to Islamabad. Video footage of the attempted attack on the Shiite mosque in Islamabad, which was shown on a private television network, showed the suicide bomber approaching the mosque and exchanging fire with a security guard. The bomber tried to detonate his explosives-laden vest, but it failed to detonate and he was shot dead by the security guards. One guard was seriously wounded and later died in a hospital.

US, Russia to work together on Afghanistan

US and Russia have agreed to continue to work together on Afghanistan, noting that it is in their mutual interest that this war-torn South Asian country poses less serious threat in terms of terrorism. "We noted that it serves our mutual interest to make sure that this country poses less serious threat in terms of terrorism, organised crime, drug industry," the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, told reporters at a joint news conference here yesterday after his talks with his American counterparts. "US colleagues thanked us for supporting their efforts and for agreement on transit between Russia and US came into effect -over 3,400 transit flights took place, and over 300,000 US troops were transported, which speaks for itself," he said addressing a joint news conference with the Russian Defence Minister, Sergey Shoygu. "We need to continue cooperation in the field, especially in light of the forthcoming 2014 withdrawal of the American contingent and the elections. To political settlement, we need to find format that would allow Afghanis to decide on their own future and make sure that they live in a country where all minorities would live in comfort and safely," he said. Shoygu said the two countries during their day long meetings with the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, and the Defence Secretary, Chuck Hagel, discussed a number of issues related to the post-2014 in Afghanistan because a large-scale withdrawal will begin. "We spoke about preparations for withdrawal and future prospects. I told my colleague that we have certain concerns, about Afghani neighbours, namely Tajikistan and Kyrgyz, they have concerns, and they're trying to take certain steps to guarantee their own security," he said. Shoygu said he briefed them about the Soviet experience of withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, about the preparations it made, about the training for the military, the police forces. Later talking to reporters a Senior Administration official said that the US delegation expressed appreciation for the support that Russia has provided, whether it's in the Northern Distribution Network or the assistance it has provided to the Afghan National Security Forces. "Both delegations agreed on the importance of sustained support for Afghanistan's security, as well as political and economic transition, and agreed that combating narcotics was an area that we should look at and how we can better help the Government of Afghanistan in this area as well," the official said.

Afghan Movie Nominated in US Film Festival

Afghan film "A Man's Desire for a Fifth Wife" has been nominated for the US's Boston International Film Festival (BIFF) which will held in April.
The film festival will be held from the April 12 to April 21 at the Boston Massachusetts which showcases over 90 films annually. The film, directed by Sediq Abedi, was made in northern Faryab and Balkh provinces and took about a year to make. It tells the story of an Afghan man who desires to take a fifth wife, and through the story line explores the issues of violence against women. It also shows aspects of the traditional culture of Afghanistan.The film runs for about 90 minutes and boasts more than 70 Afghan actors. "The movies have been selected from more than 2500 movies for the US's Boston International Film Festival and it also registered in France's the Cannes International Film Festival and an international Australian film festival," said the director of the movie Sediq Abedi. "I am sure that the movie has a good massage to the world and it's about the Afghan traditional cultural," he said. The film festival, established in 2003, features independent films from around the world and the US. The festival has presented many acclaimed films including Academy Award winner for short film West Bank Story and includes feature films, short films and documentaries, with a strong emphasis on multi-culturalism.

Pakistan's new game plan: capture Kabul, cripple Kashmir

By Shishir Gupta, Hindustan Times
It was around 4.30 am on July 1 when a Pakistani suicide bomber crossed the Line of Control and blew himself up about 25 meters from an Indian Army picket at Saujiyan in the Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir. Other than the bomber, there were no casualties. A week later, in the same area, a Pakistani improvised explosive device – a roadside bomb – proved more lethal and killed an Indian Army porter. India believes these attacks, and other such activity along the de facto border and inside Jammu and Kashmir, are part of a deliberate Pakistani game plan to push in as many militants as possible across the LoC. The goal of all this: escalate violence in the run-up to and possibly disrupt the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections next year.On the other side of Pakistan, though this may not seem obvious to people in India, is a related attempt by Rawalpindi to use the same terrorists to drive India out of Afghanistan. US intelligence had confirmed to India that Lashkar e Taiba cadre were being moved into the provinces of Kunar and Nuristan in expectation of the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan next year. The recent suicide bomb attack on the Indian consulate in Jalalabad which killed a dozen people was part and parcel of this larger strategy. “Pakistan is using Lashkar to target Indian interests in Kabul,” said a senior Indian official. “The Jalalabad attack was orchestrated by Lashkar.”Pakistan is similarly transferring militant cadre recruited from its Khyber Paktunkhwa province to boost militant ranks in the Kashmir Valley. The broad Indian assessment is that the LoC and Kashmir in general have seen relatively low levels of Pakistani action because Rawalpindi was forced to divert as many as 150,000 troops to the Pakistan-Afghan border. With the US troop withdrawal approaching and Pakistan sensing that it may soon have a friendly regime ensconced in Kabul, the Pakistani army and Lashkar are once more concentrating on destabilizing Kashmir. Lashkar chief Hafiz Sayeed declared this in a recent India Today interview saying, “Full-scale armed jihad will begin soon in Kashmir after American forces withdraw from Afghanistan.” Kashmir is starting to simmer again. Attempts by Lashkar’s border action teams, groups that are backed by the Pakistani Army, to ambush Indian Army patrols have gone up this year. The decapitation of two soldiers in Krishnaghati area of Poonch sector on January 8, 2013, and the recent killing of five Indian soldiers in the same sector on Tuesday morning are just two of the more bloody examples.“The escalation is evident from the fact that till July 2012 only 13 infiltrators had been killed but during the same period this year more than 23 infiltrators have been killed on the LoC,” said a source. “There have been no less than 10 border actions undertaken by Pakistan Army backed terrorists on the Jammu LoC ,” said a senior official. He warned that the infiltration figures are expected to rise this month. That is along the border. The situation inside the Valley has become equally violent. There have been two definitive suicide attacks by Lashkar cadres this year inside Jammu and Kashmir – the first in three years. A fidayeen attack on Central Reserve Police Force camp at Bemina in Srinagar on March 14 and an attack on Indian Army jawans at Hyderpora bypass a day before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s June 25 visit to Kashmir. Indian intelligence conducted a security review in Kabul days before the Jalalabad attack. The then home secretary RK Singh flew down to Srinagar on June 20 to brief army and police about a threat against a police station on the eve of Singh’s June 25 visit. “The Poonch action shows that Pakistan Army is opposed to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif normalizing ties with India and is also connected to the appointment of General Parvez Kiyani’s successor in November,” said a senior official. The Pakistani gameplan is quite clear: infiltrate militants eastward and westward, across the Durand and Radcliffe lines. Rawalpindi’s men in khaki want to turn the clock back to the 1980s when Afghanistan was a Pakistani colony and Kashmir was in flames.

Pakistan fires 7000 rounds on Indian posts at LoC
Pakistani troops violated the ceasefire yet again on Friday night by firing 7000 rounds of heavy ammunition and mortar shells for seven hours at Indian posts along the LoC in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir.The fresh ceasefire violation, which the Indian Army termed as the "biggest ceasefire violation" in recent times, comes four days after five Indian soldiers were killed by specialist troops of the Pakistan Army on the LoC. There was no loss of life in the firing from across the border to which the Indian Army fired back effectively. This fresh violation is likely to further jeopardise the resumption of a dialogue between the prime ministers of the two countries, scheduled on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly at New York in September. "Pakistani troops resorted to unprovoked firing on several Indian forward posts along LoC in Durga Battalion area in Poonch district around 10.20pm on Friday night,” defence spokesman S N Acharya said on Saturday. "They fired 7000 rounds of heavy weaponry pika ammunition and medium mortars targeting several Indian posts in order to cause heavy causalities till 4.30am on Saturday,” the spokesman said adding that it was “biggest ceasefire violation”. Army troops guarding the LoC took positions and fired back effectively, he said, adding that troops also fired 4,595 rounds of medium machine guns, INSAS rifles and KPWT machine guns besides 111 RPGs, 11 rockets and 18 mortar shells of 81 mm in retaliatory action. The sound of heavy firing and mortar blasts was heard in Poonch town and the firing exchanges triggered panic among the people living in the area. On August 6, a group of 20 heavily armed men led by Pakistani troops had entered 450 metres into the Indian territory and ambushed a patrol, killing five Indian soldiers. Reacting to the attacks, defence minister AK Antony had said in Parliament, “Our restraint should not be taken for granted nor should the capacity of armed forces and resolve of the government to uphold the sanctity of the LoC ever be doubted.”

Pak concerns on India’s role exaggerated: Dobbins
A top Obama Administration official has said Pakistan's concerns about India's presence in Afghan cities like Kandahar and Jalalabad were “simply exaggerated". The statement from the Obama Administration coming in the wake of a terrorist attack on Indian consulate in Jalalabad last week could be considered as significant. "I think it's exaggerated... that presence is rather minuscule. You're talking about a dozen or two-dozen people at most. India has a strong economic and cultural presence in Afghanistan. It's perfectly reasonably for them to have a diplomatic and consular presence in the country," Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan James Dobbins told the in an interview. He was asked whether Indian presence in Afghan cities like Kandahar and Jalalabad makes Pakistan uncomfortable. A suicide attack targeting Indian Consulate in Jalalabad killed 12 people, including three suicide bombers on Saturday. Many of the victims were children attending a religious class at the mosque located a short distance from the consulate. "I understand the source of Pakistan's concern. It relates to this issue of cross border militancy. As I've indicated the dominant infiltration of militants is from Pakistan into Afghanistan but recognise that there is some infiltration of hostile militants in the other direction as well so Pakistan's concerns aren't groundless, they're simply in our judgments exaggerated," Dobbins said. Dobbins, who visited India a couple of weeks ago, said, "I don't think either India or Pakistan want NATO or the US to leave entirely. I'm sure that both India and Pakistan will be using their influence in essentially the same manner. "In order to encourage the Afghans to conclude an agreement with the US and with NATO which will allow a continued military presence to advise and assist the afghan security forces. In this regard India and Pakistani policies are identical." Dobbins said his biggest concerns for both Afghanistan and Pakistan are similar. "They derive from the continued threat of insurgency and militant groups that want to overthrow the government, overthrow the constitutional order, undermine democracy," he said. "I think one shouldn't be naively optimistic about the future but at the same time I think both countries have a capability of overcoming these challenges, particularly if they cooperate. On the other hand if they don't cooperate, I think for both countries this is going to be a much more dangerous challenge," he said.

Pakistan: They could not reach home for Eid

By Naeem Tahir
It is killing, killing and killing everywhere. It is growing into the rule of lawlessness. Would the Supreme Court consider a ‘suo motu’? They had worked hard away from home, they had saved money to share with the family, they had fasted during the holy month of Ramzan and sought the blessings of the Almighty. They boarded the bus, but did not reach home. They were brutally murdered by target killers, who call themselves the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). Imagine the grief that the killers caused to the families. Killers absconded for the moment, thanking the ineffective law and order forces for their good luck. The death punishment given to 14 passengers of a bus bound for Punjab was only because they held Punjab-based Identity Cards. They were taken out of the bus, their ID cards were checked, and then they were shot in the head and their bodies abandoned. Two captives were spared because their ID cards were not from Punjab. These two narrated the tale of horror. This is how BLA presumes to succeed in its struggle. The BLA had also destroyed Quaid-e-Azam’s resting place in Ziarat earlier. The BLA is sending this message to the prime minister who hails from Punjab. Is the prime minister getting the message? Can he hear the cries of the children, women and men of the bereaved families? The prime minister, at the time of this brutality, was in Saudi Arabia for his religious obligations. He said his prayers in the Masjid-e-Nabvi. Fine, but what about Haqooq-ul-Ibaad towards his people? He may, on his return, ‘condemn’ this atrocity, but more than a ‘condemnation’ is required. In the absence of the prime minister the team investigating the Nanga Parbat tragedy has also been killed. As I am writing these lines more killings are occurring. From Lyari 11 children will not be home for Eid. These children will be under the dust, killed by a bomb. Their ‘crime’ was only playing football in the field. Mr Azim, a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) spokesperson and an ex-minister in Pervez Musharraf’s time, said in a television programme that it is the interior minister who is responsible for the maintenance of law and order. He said that it is primarily the responsibility of the provinces. It is an amazing statement. Does he mean to say that the prime minister is only an onlooker? Does he mean to say that the prime minister’s main interest is foreign visits with entourages? If he is right then there is little hope for improvement. The prime minister cannot leave critical situations to the ‘second’ in command. Law and order and the lives of nationals are the prime responsibility of the prime minister. It is he who has the responsibility and the authority to activate all relevant segments to perform. The major segments are the provincial governments and their police, constabularies, levies, spy agencies, and finally the armed forces. Their action needs full support from the central government as well as the courts. There are major gaps in coordination and the motivation is lacking. There is a noticeable lack of support from the courts that keep releasing terrorists on the pretext of ‘insufficient evidence’. Even if new laws are to be enforced for ‘evidence’ in such cases, these should be enacted by the Assembly. Terrorists have found the lack of evidence as the most convenient way of getting away. They threaten the judiciary and the investigators, and kill the witnesses who insist on appearing. So there are no convictions and there is freedom from the courts to kill more and more. Even if there are some convictions, the terrorists get their people out of jail by jailbreaks. The Pakistani people expect the prime minister to pay immediate attention to the faulty system. If coordination between secret agencies and the leads provided is required, then such coordination must be ensured. If a force for rapid response is required, then it should be trained, recruited, equipped and deployed. If judges and witnesses are to be protected, then it should be done. Even the establishments of the armed forces are attacked. It is killing, killing and killing everywhere. It is growing into the rule of lawlessness. Would the Supreme Court consider a ‘suo motu’? While the major role is to be played by those who have been entrusted power, it is also true that we, the voters, have to watch if the power is adequately used for the general benefit. The spokespersons for the people are the media. Today the media has an immense responsibility. The run of the mill bickering on the TV talk shows is out of date. It is time that national priorities be in sync with TV programming. Politicians are most concerned about their popularity graph and if they get convinced that if the law and order situation is not appropriately attended to, they can lose their seat of power, then they will be forced to take action. Unfortunately, our elected representatives reach the assemblies without the in-depth study of the issues, including the issue of law and order. There is no short cut for the media persons either. They need to bring responsible politicians to the screen, including the prime minister, and questions about the strategy that is to be evolved must be asked. Keep their commitments on record and follow up on what they do. The media must follow to the point that either a strategy is successfully adopted or the person in charge resigns. It may sound belligerent journalism but what would you prefer? More dead bodies at the time of Eid? More homes destroyed every day? Or some semblance of peace and secure life. Pakistan has been labelled as the most dangerous country to live in. I am sure the sensitive media controllers will take up the experiment to chase the non-performing leadership to the point that they are forced to act constructively. While the responsibility is of the prime minister, the media can convince him to defer foreign excursions and organise an effective anti-terror plan. If he still does not do it then many more dead bodies will be sent home.

Balochistan: Execution-Style Killings in Bolan

The Baloch Hal
The killing of 13 unarmed Punjabi laborers in Bolan District by Baloch nationalists is deeply shocking. According to official authorities, the attackers, attired in fake official uniforms, had established a phony security check point where they stopped a Punjab-bound passenger bus. The unarmed passengers were forcefully taken out of the bus and brutally slain after checking their identity cards. Most of the victims were young laborers from the Punjab province who were going home to celebrate Eid with their families in the Punjab. It is a great shame that the Baloch Liberation Army (B.L.A.), which claims to be fighting for the rights of the oppressed Baloch people, carried out this inhuman act. As good Muslims have nothing to do with suicide bombings, responsible and conscious Balochs also have nothing to do with this act against humanity. No matter how faulty Islamabad’s policies toward the Baloch are, there cannot be any justification for such callous attacks on innocent civilians. Such incidents, as noted by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan,will “erode whatever sympathy the people have for their [Baloch] cause inside the country or outside.” One wonders how mass murdering unarmed civilians helps achieve nationalists’ political goals. Their could only be one motive behind perpetrating such crimes: gain public attention. After the general elections in May this year and the appointment of a Baloch “nationalist” as the chief minister, the armed groups seem to believe that Islamabad is endeavoring to weaken their movement. Over the past many years, the armed underground organizations have had only one tactic to gain attention: violence. They have attacked official installations, for which they have had public support. However, attacks on poor laborers only embarrass everyone who supports the Baloch rights. It is wrong on the part of the armed groups to carry out such reprehensible acts in the name of Baloch. Balochistan is a tribal society with its own centuries-old code of conduct and the Baloch code does not allow attacks on non-locals or unarmed people. With such assaults, the armed groups want to send a message that the Baloch chief minister, Dr. Malik, is not in control of the province. Killing innocent people is not a smart way to settle scores against one’s political rivals. If a movement does not stand for equal rights for all, it has no moral ground to speak on the behalf of the oppressed people. There is no gainsaying the fact that the Baloch nationalist movement has lost its direction. It stands at a dangerous crossroad. Until a few years ago, a nationalist could not think in his wildest dream that he would bring down a bunch of passengers from a bus and kill them simply based on their ethnicity. Only the Taliban and their local affiliates from the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi are known for such barbaric attacks. Someone among the Baloch leadership should step forward and stop these senseless operations. There is an urgent need to pause and rethink the aims and objectives of the Baloch nationalist demands. Who will do it? Because there is a serious problem here. There is nothing such as “Baloch leadership” left. Even “Baloch nationalist” is not a monolithic term. There are dozens of different armed and political groups and political parties that identify themselves as “Baloch nationalists”. Not all of them operate under one leader nor do they always or ever cooperate with each other. Some of these nationalists, for example Chief Minister Dr. Malik Baloch and the Baloch Liberation Army, are each other’s worst enemies although both of them identify themselves as “Baloch nationalists”. They both claim to be the true spokesmen of the Baloch people but they have two absolutely different interpretations of what it means to be a nationalist. The nationalists operate from so many platforms that it is nearly impossible to hold someone responsible for the actions of the others or urge one group to review the other group’s actions. It is hard for the government to negotiate with all these factions of Baloch nationalists, nor will they all agree to sit on one table. Because they do not like the government and, at the same time, they do not like each other. If the government or the military applies force, this will benefit the hardliners among the nationalists.They want the government to carry out an operation against them because it perpetuates their movement, generates sympathies for them and also helps in diverting attention from their own attacks on civilians, such as the one in Bolan. The government must utilize all political and administrative options to protect the lives of the people in Balochistan. If the provincial government fails to curb violence during the initial months, it will have to face a very troubling five-year term.

President Zardari condemns attack on worshippers in Quetta
President Asif Ali Zardari Friday strongly condemned the attack on a former provincial Minister Ali Madad Jatak that killed several worshippers as they exited from a mosque after saying their Eid prayers in Quetta. The President said he was deeply saddened over the incident in which innocent lives were lost on a Eid day. In a message to the families he prayed to Allah Almighty to shower his blessings on those who lost their loved ones and for courage to bear the loss with equanimity. President Zardari asked the provincial authorities to provide best possible medical care to those who were injured.