Wednesday, August 14, 2013

No more sit-ins will be allowed in Egypt

Egyptian Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim says that supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi will not be allowed to hold any more sit-ins in the country. Ibrahim made the remark on Wednesday after riot police -- backed by armored vehicles, bulldozers and helicopters -- broke up two sit-in camps set up by Morsi supporters in Cairo, Reuters reported. "We will not allow any other sit-in in any square in any place in the country," Ibrahim said in a televised news conference.

Police fire teargas, birdshot at Bahrain demonstrators

Bahraini police fired teargas and birdshot to disperse scattered protests across the country on Wednesday, as Shi'ite Muslims responded to a call by online activists for pro-democracy demonstrations. The main opposition group said around 60 rallies were held in 40 locations, in an upsurge of a two-and-a-half-year-old campaign to push the Sunni Muslim ruling family for more democracy in the Shi'ite-majority nation of 1.25 million people. The United States temporarily closed its embassy and Bahrani authorities tightened security after opposition figures used social media to call for rallies. Small protests passed off peacefully across Bahrain earlier in the day, witnesses and activists said, but demonstrators and riot police clashed in some areas as evening fell. Security forces converged on the al-Seef district of Manama after activists used Twitter to encourage demonstrators to gather there, in defiance of a blanket ban on protests in the capital. In a village west of Manama, a standoff deteriorated into a clash between police on one side of a barbed wire fence they had erected overnight and about 300 demonstrators chanting anti-government slogans on the other. Witnesses said police charged the crowd, firing birdshot and teargas. Similar clashes occurred in other Shi'ite villages where demonstrators threw fire-bombs at police. The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights activist group said at least 10 people suffered from teargas inhalation or were wounded by birdshot. A spokesman for the main opposition Al Wefaq Society said two people were in a serious condition. "Despite the campaign of intimidation and surrounding villages with barbed wire, thousands of people turned up for the protests," said Sayed Yousif al-Muhafda of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights. FIRE-BOMB The Interior Ministry reported that an Asian worker had been injured by a fire-bomb as he tried to open a road blocked by protesters in a village south of Manama, and said burning tires had been used to block a main road in Muharraq to the northeast. It described the use of fire-bombs and road blocks as "terrorism", for which new laws passed this month allow tougher penalties including longer prison terms and the stripping of Bahraini nationality. Police arrested a woman driver and other occupants of her car, saying she had tried to run over a policeman at a road block. The concerted new pro-democracy push is being driven by "Tamarrod" (Rebellion), a loose association of opposition activists who coalesced in early July. Tamarrod is named after the Egyptian movement that helped muster massive protests against President Mohamed Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood before the military removed the country's first freely-elected leader on July 3. The Bahrain opposition complains of discrimination against majority Shi'ites in areas such as employment and public services, and is demanding a constitutional monarchy with a government chosen from within a democratically-elected parliament. The government denies any discrimination. Bahrain, a tiny island state that hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet as a bulwark for U.S.-aligned Gulf monarchies against Iran, has suffered bouts of unrest since February 2011 when a Shi'ite-led uprising demanded the al-Khalifa dynasty give up power. The authorities crushed the revolt, one of a series of "Arab Spring" upheavals, but protests and clashes have persisted, despite talks between government and opposition. That unrest has planted Bahrain on the front line of a tussle for regional influence between Shi'ite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia.

Anti-government protests in Bahrain amidst tight security

Police have reportedly used tear gas and birdshot to contain long-planned protests in the Gulf State of Bahrain. The country’s Shi’ite majority is demanding a greater say in the political decisions of the Sunni-ruled country. The long-planned protests mark two-and-a-half years since the unsuccessful uprising in the oil-rich state during which protesters called for the abdication of King Hamad, who has been in power since 1999. Despite a ban on public demonstrations, throngs walked through capital Manama shouting "Democracy! Democracy!", as police erected barriers and checkpoints through many of the main streets. In defiance government threats to use force against what they claim to be foreign-backed "riots" many in the villages outside Manama protested by organizing sit-ins outside their houses.In the village of Shakoora about 300 demonstrators clashed with a police cordon over a specially-built barbed wire fence, penning them in. In other Shi'ite settlements, the protests remained peaceful, and no casualties have been reported throughout the day. Unlike in Egypt, where protesters against the recently ousted Muslim Brotherhood government were backed by the military, Bahrain's security forces remain loyal to the government. Authorities warned they would "forcefully confront'' any large demonstrations. Concrete barriers lined major streets in the capital, Manama, and security checkpoints surrounded by barbed wire guarded roads leading to the city from majority Shiite neighborhoods. "Based on what we are following in the field, the government violence against protesters is inevitable,'' a spokesman for the group organizing the rallies, Hussain Yousif, told AP. "But we need to go ahead and show the world and the government that the Bahraini people have the right to express their political demands,'' he added. While protesters insist they'll remain peaceful and defiant, there have been attacks in recent weeks around Bahrain, including some from bombs made with natural gas canisters. Citing the fear of violence, the US temporarily closed its embassy in Bahrain on Wednesday after activists called on people to meet nearby. The kingdom is home to the US Navy's 5th Fleet, and is the Pentagon's main base to counter Iran's expanding military presence in the Gulf and protect oil shipping lanes through the Gulf of Hormuz. The protests have been organized by the Tamarod Bahrain campaign, which features several opposition groups and has adopted the name of Egypt's Tamarod movement. They are expected to stage nonviolent protests in nine areas of the country, with the largest expected in Manama. Wednesday coincides with the 42nd anniversary of Bahrain's independence from Britain. It also marks 2 1/2 years since the current wave of unrest started."The government will forcefully confront the suspicious calls to violate law and order and those who stand behind them through decisive measures,'' Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa told the official Bahrain News Agency on Monday. Meanwhile, Bahrain's largest opposition group, the Islamist al Wefaq Society, said it was not planning to join the protesters, but made it clear it supported the right to hold peaceful demonstrations. RT correspondent Lucy Kafanov says that the Bahrain government has dealt with all protests firmly in the country, since the beginning of the Arab Spring. "Bahrain has been rocked by political unrest since 2011. For the past two years the majority Shiite opposition has been pushing for democratic reforms, but those demands have been met with an iron fist," Kafanov said.The opposition is demanding a constitutional monarchy with a government chosen from within a democratically elected parliament. It claims there is discrimination against majority Shiites in areas such as employment and public services. The government has denied any discrimination. "There have been lots of violations in Bahrain, but unfortunately there's rarely anything in the Western media regarding all the violations. Torture is a daily act," Jalal Fairooz, former opposition MP from the Wefaq Party, told RT. "Over the past week three major human groups, including Amnesty International, have issued a very strong urging for the UK government and other foreign governments to stop supporting the dictator and try to enforce respect of human rights,” Fairooz said. “But unfortunately the money and petrodollars talk louder than principles in the West.”While there is no clear epicenter of revolt in Bahrain's uprising history, like Egypt's Tahrir Square, the capital's Pearl Square was cleared by police raids and sealed off from the public in the early weeks of the unrest. The organizers of the nationwide protests have called instead on Bahrain residents to flood the streets. The Tamarod campaign leaders have urged workers to join in a general strike and for shop owners to close their businesses. The Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called on workers and business owners to ignore the protests. Clashes have calmed down in recent months after the ruling family introduced some reforms, including giving the elected parliament more oversight powers and promising deeper investigations into alleged abuses by security forces. Many Shiites have dismissed the reforms as window dressing, however, saying that the monarchy is still in control of all key decision-making.Bahrain's parliament has passed strict new laws to curb opposition activists, including banning protests in the capital and giving authorities the right to remove citizenship from those convicted of violence. Courts also have jailed prominent opposition figures and others, including some with alleged links to Iranian-backed groups such as Lebanon's Hezbollah. Bahrain and other Gulf states claim that Iran, a majority Shiite country, has a hand in the protests. Iran denies the claim. Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa office, said Bahrain should allow the protests to take place. "The fact that some protesters perpetrate acts of violence in some demonstrations does not justify a blanket ban on demonstrations and protests in the capital city,'' Stork said. "Bahrain's total ban on protests clearly violates the right of citizens and residents to come together to raise political demands peacefully.''

Bahraini regime forces fire tear gas at anti-regime protesters

Bahraini regime forces have fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators who poured into the streets of the capital Manama, demanding the overthrow of the Al Khalifa regime.

Egypt imposes state of emergency after 95 people killed in clashes

At least 95 Egyptians were killed on Wednesday after security forces moved in on protesters demanding the reinstatement of President Mohamed Mursi, and the government imposed a state of emergency as violence swept the most populous Arab nation. Troops opened fire on Islamist demonstrators in clashes that brought chaos to the capital and other cities and looked certain to further polarize Egypt's 84 million people between those who backed Mursi and the millions who opposed his brief rule. In the streets around the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in northeast Cairo, where thousands of Mursi supporters have staged a sit-in for the last six weeks, riot police wearing gas masks crouched behind armored vehicles, tear gas hung in the air and burning tires sent plumes of black smoke into the sky. Several television stations ran footage of what appeared to be pro-Mursi protesters firing automatic rifles at soldiers from behind sandbag barricades. At a hospital morgue nearby, a Reuters reporter counted 29 bodies, including that of a 12-year-old boy. Most had died of gunshot wounds to the head. Violence spread beyond Cairo, with Mursi supporters and security forces clashing in the cities of Alexandria, Minya, Assiut, Fayoum and Suez and in Buhayra and Beni Suef provinces. The health ministry put the overall death toll at 95 people, including both police and civilians, with other sources saying at least 17 were killed in Fayoum province and five in Suez. Mursi supporters besieged and set fire to government buildings and several churches were attacked, state media said. Mohamed El-Beltagi, a leader of Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood movement that has led the protests, said his 17-year-old daughter had been killed in the clashes. He warned of wider conflict, and singled out the head of the armed forces who deposed Mursi on July 3 following mass protests calling for his resignation. "I swear by God that if you stay in your homes, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will embroil this country so that it becomes Syria. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will push this nation to a civil war so that he escapes the gallows." By 10 a.m. ET, only a few hundred protesters remained at the Rabaa site. A second, smaller camp near Cairo University was swiftly cleared in the early morning. STATE OF EMERGENCY The presidency announced a month-long state of emergency across Egypt and ordered the armed forces to help police enforce security. Rights activists said the move would give legal cover for the army to make arrests. The interim cabinet, installed by the military to guide Egypt to fresh elections in around six months, also announced a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. in several provinces as well as Cairo and Alexandria. Hosni Mubarak, the U.S.-backed autocratic ruler toppled in a 2011 uprising, imposed a state of emergency after Islamists assassinated Anwar Sadat in 1981 and used it over the next 30 years to stifle dissent and crack down on the Brotherhood. Lifting the state of emergency had been a key demand of the protesters who ousted Mubarak, and the military eventually did so last year. The West, notably the United States which gives the Egyptian military $1.3 billion each year, has been alarmed by the recent violence in the strategic Arab ally that has a peace treaty with Israel and controls the vital Suez Canal waterway. Wednesday's assault prompted widespread condemnation. Turkey urged the U.N. Security Council and Arab League to act quickly to stop a "massacre" in Egypt, and Iran warned of the risk of civil war. Nine hours after the start of Wednesday's operation, crowds of protesters were still blocking roads, chanting and waving flags as security forces sought to prevent them from regrouping. "At 7 a.m. they came. Helicopters from the top and bulldozers from below. They smashed through our walls. Police and soldiers, they fired tear gas at children," said teacher Saleh Abdulaziz, 39, clutching a bleeding wound on his head. "They continued to fire at protesters even when we begged them to stop." The move to break up the camps appeared to dash any remaining hopes of bringing the Brotherhood back into the political mainstream, and underlined the impression many Egyptians share that the military is tightening its grip. The operation also suggested the army had lost patience with persistent protests that were crippling parts of the capital and slowing the political process. It was the third time since Mursi's ouster six weeks ago that security forces had opened fire on protesters in Cairo, killing dozens of people on each occasion. The crackdown began just after dawn with helicopters hovering over the camps. Gunfire rang out as protesters, among them women and children, fled Rabaa. Armored vehicles moved in beside bulldozers which began clearing tents. MARKETS NERVOUS The government issued a statement saying security forces had showed the "utmost degree of self-restraint", reflected in low casualties compared to the number of people "and the volume of weapons and violence directed against the security forces". It added that it would press ahead with implementing an army-backed political transition plan in "a way that strives not to exclude any party from participation". Mursi became Egypt's first freely elected leader in June 2012, but failed to tackle deep economic malaise and worried many Egyptians with apparent efforts to tighten Islamist rule. Liberals and young Egyptians staged huge rallies demanding that he resign, and the army said it removed him in response to the will of the people. Since he was deposed, Gulf Arab states pledged $12 billion in aid to Egypt, buying the interim government valuable time to try to put the country's finances back in order. Egyptian stocks have rallied 23 percent since his ouster, but fell 1.7 percent on Wednesday. While the drop was relatively muted, market participants are becoming more nervous. Emad Mostaque, emerging markets strategist at Noah Capital Markets, switched to a "sell" position from neutral on Egyptian equities. "The organized nature of the Muslim Brotherhood and their chunky presence in society (let's say 10 percent), means they can be far more disruptive than the 2011 revolutionaries," he said in a client note.

India rape: Police hunt attacker of 7-year-old

A 7-year-old girl was raped in a train's toilet compartment in central India over the weekend, police said Tuesday. The incident comes amid widespread outrage in recent months over sex crimes across India.The child was lured away from her mother and her friend by a man in a park in Raipur, the capital of Chhattisgarh state, on Friday, railway police superintendent K.C. Agrawal told CNN. Police suspect that man then took her on board a train and sexually assaulted her in the toilet compartment of a carriage sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning.The suspect "was apparently known to the friend of the child's mother," Agrawal said. The alleged attacker, around age 40, remains at large. Police teams, Agrawal said, have fanned out to capture the suspect, whose identity has not been disclosed. The victim, who was found on Saturday morning at a train station, is under treatment at a hospital, and her condition is stable, police said.A robust public dialogue on sex crimes in India emerged in December after the gang rape of a 23-year-old woman in a bus in New Delhi. The student died in a Singapore hospital. Her case focused the nation's attention and anger on sex crimes. An outcry quickly grew over reportedly widespread harassment of women in public. Demonstrators took to the streets to call for stricter laws on sexual assault and changes in cultural attitudes toward women. Last month, a court convicted six men to life in prison in the gang rape of a Swiss tourist in Madhya Pradesh state. The men have denied the charges. The victim and her husband were on a cycling tour across India and had set up camp near a forest in Datia district when a group of men assaulted them, beating the husband and raping the wife, according to police. The men were members of a local tribe who live near where the travelers were camping.

Pak-India: The legacy of Partition

Syed Badrul Ahsan
CRACKS began to develop in India’s unity as a country when the poet Mohammad Iqbal began propounding the idea of Muslims being an entity separate from all other communities in the land. The All-India Muslim League developed the theme a little further and made it clear that the Muslims inhabiting the north-west and east of India would need to constitute themselves into independent states. The die, if one were inclined to observe circumstances in such critical manner, was cast. And yet the Cabinet Mission in 1946 raised the hope that somehow the territorial integrity of the country could be retained through a major restructuring of politics before independence could come to India. Mohammad Ali Jinnah reluctantly accepted the Cabinet Mission scheme. So did the leading lights of the Indian National Congress, until Jawaharlal Nehru put a damper on the entire plan. He made it clear that his party was not obligated to see the plan reach a definitive conclusion. That was on July 10, 1946. The Muslim League, already uncomfortable at having accepted the Cabinet Mission Plan, saw Nehru’s remarks as a godsend and swiftly backed out of it. A month later, thanks to the Muslim League’s Direct Action Day, Muslims and Hindus cheerfully hacked away at one another in Calcutta. That was on 16 August. Four days later, anywhere between five thousand and ten thousand people, Hindus and Muslims, lay dead all across the streets of the huge metropolis. Partition had become inevitable. Within days of the state of Pakistan coming into being on August 14, 1947, Jinnah went on an aerial survey of the situation on the ground. The sight of hundreds of thousands of refugees making their way away from their ancestral homes and toward villages and towns they had never seen or been to earlier sent a wave of shock through his being. ‘What have I done?’–that was the question he raised. No one answered. Within months, millions of Hindus and Sikhs would leave their ancient homes in Punjab and Bengal and trek to an uncertain future across unknown geography. Millions of Muslims would make their way to Pakistan, convinced that it was there they would live in dignity as masters of their destiny. Sixty six years after Partition, one would do well to take stock of the ramifications of the vivisection of the land. Hindus and Muslims have only seen their relations worsen through the decades, to a point where communalism continues to define life all the way from Pakistan through India to Bangladesh. Hindutva undermines the secular vision that was once Nehru’s legacy. In Pakistan and to a certain extent in Bangladesh, religious bigotry threatens to wreck liberalism of all sorts. India’s Muslims remain largely backward, poor and, in a very big way, less than well-educated. In Pakistan, Hindus are as good as non-existent; and the tiny Christian minority is always the target of blasphemy law peddlers in the country. Bangladesh’s Hindu population has been on a steep decline, despite the country’s self-proclaimed secularism; its Christian community becomes smaller by the day; and after Ramu, its Buddhists are not sure this is their country any more. Post-partition India has thrown up the likes of Bal Thackeray, who thought all Muslims should be kicked out of the country. Today, it is the controversial, none too Muslim-friendly Narendra Modi who dreams of being prime minister someday. In Pakistan and Bangladesh, no one imagines that a Hindu or Christian or Buddhist can play leading roles in politics and in the administration. If India’s BJP touts Hindu nationalism, Pakistan’s political parties continue to see nothing beyond Islam, while Bangladesh’s rightwing discovers, through ‘Bangladeshi nationalism’, a clever way of repudiating Bengali nationhood in favour of a shrewd pursuit of religion-based politics. Secular politics never took roots in Pakistan. In India and Bangladesh, it has been forced to the ropes. The division of India has led to a diminution of politics through the rise of dynasties across the old country. The Bhuttos in Pakistan, the Nehru-Gandhis in India and the Mujib and Zia clans in Bangladesh have created the perfect conditions for mediocrity to thrive in politics. Behind these larger dynasties come the little ones–in politics, in the movies, indeed nearly everywhere. The modern-day republic is thus but another name for monarchies in new wrapping. Partition saw the best among the Hindu community–teachers, philanthropists, doctors–leave Muslim Pakistan and make new homes across the newly drawn frontiers. It saw Muslim gentry, as in West Bengal, make the arduous decision to move to the new state of Pakistan in hopes of a better future. Both groups, as also their descendants, have remained trapped in nostalgia. Artistes and writers have seen their futures devastated by Partition. The singer Noor Jehan went off to Pakistan, together with Saadat Hasan Manto. Khushwant Singh, Kuldip Nayar and Inder Kumar Gujral, their homeland suddenly foreign territory for them, resettled in an India vastly different from the one they had known earlier. Sahibzada Yaqub Khan trooped off to Pakistan even as his parents and siblings decided to stay on in India. Jinnah, Liaquat Ali Khan, H.S. Suhrawardy and Bhutto abandoned homes in India and made new homes in Pakistan. Partition has seen democracy, minus the aberration of the 1975-77 Emergency, thrive in India. In Pakistan, the army has undermined prospects of democracy four times and continues to wield unbridled influence over the making of policy. In Bangladesh, the liberation of which was a revolt against Pakistan, military coups have led to the systematic murder of politicians and leading freedom fighters. Partition gave us Louis Mountbatten and Cyril Radcliffe, who gave us divided homes and villages and provinces. It gave us three wars. It gave the people of the subcontinent defence budgets that have left them impoverished. Sixty six years after 1947, the legacy of Partition remains questionable, for children in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh grow into adulthood without knowledge of one another, with mistrust and suspicion blocking the road to a full, satisfying comprehension of our post-modern world.

Saudi prince slams Riyadh crackdown, corruption

A Saudi prince who is living in exile has spoken out against the suppression of dissident voices and rampant corruption in Saudi Arabia. In an interview with Russia's RT on Wednesday, Khalid Bin Farhan Al Saud said Saudi Arabia has stepped up its crackdown on protests while supporting the insurgency in Syria.
“There is no independent Judiciary, as both police and the prosecutor’s office are accountable to the Interior Ministry. This ministry’s officials investigate ‘crimes’ (they call them crimes), related to freedom of speech. So they fabricate evidence and don’t allow people to have attorneys”, the prince said in the interview.
“Even if a court rules to release such a ‘criminal’, the Ministry of Interior keeps him in prison, even though there is a court order to release him. There have even been killings! Killings! And as for the external opposition, Saudi intelligence forces find these people abroad! There is no safety inside or outside the country,” he added. The Saudi prince also criticized Washington for ignoring corruption in the world’s largest oil exporter due to long-term interests. “The White House certainly does maintain a longstanding alliance with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, cemented by common political, economic and military interests in the Middle East,” said Prince Khaled. The Saudi prince defected last month from the royal family and is now living in exile in Germany. Since February 2011, protesters have held demonstrations on an almost regular basis in Saudi Arabia, primarily calling for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination. However, the demonstrations have turned into protests against the Al Saud regime, especially since November 2011, when security forces killed five protesters and injured many others in the Eastern Province.

Afghanistan's future depends on foreign soldiers

Afghanistan's future security will remain dependent on international troops for many years after most foreign combat forces leave by the end of 2014, the U.S. commander of the NATO-led force in the South Asian country said. With the formal security handover to Afghans closing in, intense debate is underway about how many troops the United States and its mainly NATO allies should leave behind to conduct training, support and counter-terror operations. The White House favors about 7,000 U.S. troops, but some in the U.S. military would prefer two or three times as many. However many there are left behind, they will play a vital role in supporting the Afghan National Security Forces. ANSF numbers have been projected at 352,000 by the time they take over, although they have not reached that level yet, according to some official U.S. estimates. U.S. General Joseph Dunford, the last commander of the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan, would not be drawn on how many he thought should remain, referring instead to "sustainability". In an interview with Reuters on Tuesday he argued for a significant presence after the U.S.-dominated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is disbanded next year. "The post-2014 presence is a lot more complicated than the numbers and the numbers have become a distraction, to be honest with you," Dunford said in his Kabul headquarters. "It's about a lot more than numbers. It's about what capability is required to sustain the Afghan security forces after 2014," he said. Twelve years into the war, launched in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on the United States, the Taliban and other insurgents are still able to make telling blows against foreign troops and Afghan government institutions. That makes the decision about the post-2014 force, to be made in Washington later this year, even more important. Others, such as Germany and Italy, will make smaller contributions. ISAF currently numbers about 87,000 troops, three-quarters of them American. Dunford said the intense debate about the size of the residual force was not helpful. One of the sticking points about that force has been the suspension of talks between Afghanistan and the United States over a bilateral security pact to replace the ISAF mission. The collapse of a similar pact between the United States and Baghdad in 2011 led Washington to pull all its troops out of Iraq, which has since descended back into sectarian violence. The pact talks were suspended in June amid Afghan anger over the opening of a Taliban office in Qatar, which President Hamid Karzai's government blamed partly on U.S. involvement. Dunford said he had talked "at every level from district and province to members of parliament ... to President Karzai" and was adamant the pact would be signed. He also said it was too early to judge whether the mission in Afghanistan had been successful, or how America's longest war would be remembered. "Our objective is a stable, secure and unified Afghanistan. And we're still working towards that end," Dunford said. "And if we achieve the objective ... I think it will be remembered as being successful."

Chaudhry Nisar obfuscates Shia genocide in Pakistan

Let Us Build Pakistan
On the evening of 13 August, just a few hours from the 66th anniversary of Pakistan, Chaudhry Nisar held a nationally televised press conference in which he explained his government’s plans on how to tackle “militancy” in Pakistan. Yes, “militancy” is the word. Since Taliban do not like to be characterized in terms “terrorism,” Nisar was careful not to use the word. The press conference was full of clichés and inanities such as asking the media men to guide the government to formulate the so-called anti-militancy policy. These clichés etc., are not the focus of this article. What is the focus of attention is that once again a PML-N leader obfuscated the ongoing Shia genocide in Pakistan. “It hurts me,’ said Nisar, “when Shias, Wahabis, or Deobandis are killed.” Really? No journalist present at the press conference asked Chaudhry Nisar to name a single Wahabi or Deobandi killed as a result of terrorism in Pakistan. On the contrary, the number of the Shias and Sufi Sunnis (brelvi) killed at the hands of the Takfiri Deobandis—allies of the PML-N—has so far killed twenty -two thousand Shias and about the same number of non Shia (mostly Sunni Sufi or Brelvis) in Pakistan. Hardly a day passes when a Shia is not killed somewhere in Pakistan. Being the interior minister of Pakistan, it is Nisar’s legal and constitutional responsibility to protect Pakistanis, Shias included. But he has spectacularly failed in his duty. Nisar has done what the likes of Imran Khan, the Sharif Brothers, and the pro-Saudi media in Pakistan has been doing for the past decade. Nisar’s heart-rending statement about the non-existent Deobandi and Wahabi martyrs will certainly win nods of admiration from Saudi Arabia and the ISI. He will be cheered on by the likes of Shahbaz Sharif who proudly claim Taliban to be their brethren. But he has amply shown that he is as much a failure as an interior minister as he is dishonest as a human being. The Shias of Pakistan continue to be cut down only because the likes of Chaudhry Nisar refuse to accept that there is such a thing as Shia genocide. - See more at:

Pakistan: The internal threat: Independence Day

THE nation celebrates Independence Day today amid hope and despair. There is hope because of the ground covered in our quest for democracy; there is fear because of the enormity of the challenges before us. Undeniably, the last half decade saw solid progress towards a democratic dispensation, with a government completing its five-year term and handing over power to another set of elected representatives. We can say that the march towards a fully democratic state has been inexorable since the last military-led dispensation came to an end. Measures like the 18th Amendment and the restoration to the prime minister of the powers the generals had by decree transferred to the head of state defined the efforts of politicians both in government and opposition. Recent years have also seen the rebirth of judicial independence, with the superior judiciary pronouncing some landmark verdicts. However, much remains to be done, and the changes on paper must now be translated into action. In fact, it is our collective failure that 66 years after independence we still fall short of the ideals of a fully functioning democracy. The litany of woes began with Ghulam Mohammad’s dismissal of the Nazimuddin ministry and the dissolution of the constituent assembly, followed by four military interventions in a hideous political and constitutional drama that seemed to distort the very idea of the liberal, democratic Pakistan visualised by Jinnah. Today, as we hope the consolidation of democracy takes Pakistan a notch closer to Jinnah’s ideals, we must be conscious of the perils along the way. The absence of social justice and economic uplift is one of the many evils that stalk the country; an even greater evil is the religious and sectarian militancy eating into the vitals of Pakistan. This threat is brazen and lethal, showing itself in the acts of terror that have traumatised Pakistan and killed and wounded thousands of civilians and soldiers. This foe can be defeated only if society as a whole takes up cudgels against what is undeniably the greatest danger to Pakistan. Regrettably, large sections of civil society are silent, mostly out of fear, and neither the ulema nor the men of letters have played their due role of condemning violence and raising awareness. Institutions that hitherto actively participated in propping up the militants are today confused about the nature of the beast their past efforts have produced. Yet we can draw comfort from the fact that Pakistanis continue to opt for a democratic dispensation. And in the strengthening of the latter lies a large part of our salvation.

Pakistan: Independence Day

Editorial: Daily Times
The national security paradigm that the military establishment has clung to for the last 66 years has made Pakistan the most insecure country in the world, where no one is willing to make investment, where people do not want to come as tourists, where its own people are hard put to find opportunities to grow and prosper. It is a country considered the bedrock and breeding ground of terrorism. Branded even more dangerous than Afghanistan, Pakistan has a few happy occasions to share with its people and many more to shed tears on for the wrong policies of its leaders (especially military rulers). Pakistan's reliance on proxies for projecting power in the region, especially against Afghanistan and India, has come back to haunt it in the shape of jihadi terrorism. The manufacturing of jihadi extremists through a network of madrassas established with Saudi money has by now reaped a deadly crop. The irony is that this adventure with Islamic extremism has resulted in severe fallouts, shaking the very foundation of Pakistan’s existence through internal terrorism and mayhem. We have been double dealing on virtually every issue. On the one hand we are churning out human bombs (suicide bombers) and on the other have been complicit in US drone attacks. We shook hands with India way back in 1999 and invited Prime Minister Vajpayee to Pakistan on a friendship bus. Even before the euphoria of the Lahore Declaration was fully absorbed, the Kargil adventure was staged. We allied ourselves with the US to hunt down the most wanted man of the world, Osama bin Laden, took money for our services, but were unable to trace him to the garrison city of Abottabad. We installed our favoured government of the Taliban in Afghanistan and later ostensibly helped the US against them while providing them safe havens on Pakistani soil. We want friendship with India yet spare no chance to infiltrate jihadists into Kashmir. This double dealing has now become the hallmark of our reputation, with the result that countries like the US and even our all-weather friend China have developed mistrust for us. While internally the country is bleeding to death because of the failing institutions that date back to the British era, we continue with our adventures in the neighbourhood, undeterred by their deadly blowback. Arguably, crises such as energy and the economy reflect our crumbling state institutions, structure and capabilities. We continue to give a free hand in Balochistan to groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi to conduct a sectarian genocide. The nationalists in the province have been long terrorized through the kidnapping and kill and dump policies of the military. A man with Rs 10 million on his head and implicated in the Mumbai attacks, Hafiz Saeed, is given right in the heart of Lahore at Gaddafi stadium an open space to deliver explosive Eid sermons on jihad, focusing on Kashmir. Meantime the pantomime of exchange of fire, casualties, accusations has flared up again on the LoC. The days are numbered for a continuation of these adventurist jihadi policies. Either we are heading for an internal collapse, or into isolation as a pariah state. Before any of these happen, it is time to recollect Jinnah’s vision on this Independence Day to create a tolerant, liberal and progressive state that works for the welfare of its people. For that we have to shed the proxy syndrome that has crippled the country in every respect.

HRCP Slams Killing of Labourers in Balochistan

The Baloch Hal
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) slammed the execution-style killing of 13 labourers in Balochistan, reportedly hailing from Punjab who was returning home to celebrate Eid. In a statement released on Wednesday, HRCP said: “HRCP is appalled by the cold-blooded killing of 13 labourers by insurgents in Mach area of Balochistan. An insurgent group that is reported to have claimed responsibility for the attack has sought to justify the heinous act by claiming that the men worked for the security forces. However, the reports given by local police contradict that claim. And quite apart from all that, it has been established that the 13 men who had been forced out of passenger buses and abducted by the insurgents were all unarmed. Their subsequent execution-style killing is as horrific act as it is condemnable and demonstrates further brutalization and desperation in the insurgents’ ranks. While HRCP has repeatedly reiterated its calls for respect for human rights in Balochistan, those calls are certainly not addressed only to the security forces in the conflict-hit parts of the province. HRCP believes that those claiming to struggle for realisation of their rights must also show respect for the fundamental rights of others and at all cost desist from committing grave human rights violations. Those indulging in premeditated killing must understand that such acts erode whatever sympathy the people have for their cause inside the country or outside. HRCP hopes and expects that all right respecting people, in Balochistan, elsewhere in Pakistan and beyond, will slam the brutal murders. HRCP calls upon the government to take all reasonable and appropriate steps to ensure protection of the right to live of all people in Balochistan, irrespective of their ethnicity. It also calls for the perpetrators of the labourers’ killing in Mach to be brought to justice. It urges the authorities once again to redouble efforts to restore peace and the writ of the state in Balochistan through political means and only rely on the use of force as a last resort.”

A sadder 14th August never was

It is a big day or it should have been a big day for Pakistan. Instead, it is a sad one, sadder than any other day of the year. Today, we should have been counting the achievements of the past year; instead, we are counting our dead in the war against terror. Today, we should have been counting the new schools, colleges and hospitals we were supposed to have built in the past twelve months; instead, we are counting our bombed schools, colleges, hospitals, mosques, churches, mosques and tombs. Even our graveyards and funeral precessions are not safe from the terrorists. Today, we should have been counting our foreign trade surplus, our GDP growth, rise in our per capita income; instead, we are counting the trillions of rupees lost by the nation due to the corruption of our military or elected civilian rulers. While our national affairs went from bad to worse, we, the people of Pakistan, watched with indifference corruption, ineptness and nepotism eating at the vitals of our nation. True, the army ousted civilian governments and took over the reigns; however, instead of getting outraged and coming out on the roads against the murder of democracy, we distributed sweat meats. But even before that we never kept vigil on our elected governments; yet even before that we, the people of Pakistan, elected time and again corrupt members of parliament and knowingly too. Today on the14th of August a new year has started as our history as an independent nation goes, we are not making plans for the future prosperity of our children or their better health, for we are involved in a deadly struggle against terrorists and not just the usual terrorists who come with bombs and guns and kill us on the spot. We have elected MNAs who have terrorised us for decades even before the Taliban came into existence and we continue to elect men and women who terrorize and manipulate us with election day tricks. We were terrorized to vote for the corrupt in the name of biridari, language, cast, colour and creed. We, nevertheless, never did stand up to these corrupt, sly and slimy terrorists terrorising us in the name of democracy and getting our votes that way. These political terrorists had no right even to run in elections, let alone be elected, but we, the people of Pakistan, elected them and took out processions and chanted their names as if we had luckily found our Messiahs. Those whom we elected were mostly thugs and they looted us to their hearts' content. But why blame them; it is their job to rob. It was for us to save our country from them; It was we who did not do their job. We let these corrupt politicians create a system in which corruption flourished. We let our corrupt politicians appoint dishonest, inept civil servants who ran these government departments set up to cater to the corrupt. Most rulers are potential looters and they most often than not rob the nation if they find the it asleep or distracted by less important or things of no importance at all. If today nobody gets the services which a government of welfare state gets; if we are run over by floods or rundown by earthquakes and the medicines, tents, blankets, food and clothes arriving for us from foreign lands is diverted by corrupt officials to be sold in markets, we have no right to curse the rulers or the officials, for we let them or elected them to rule us. If you are poor and a police officials locks you up in spite of your innocence; don't curse the cops or your bad luck, curse yourself for electing a government which hired such bad cops. It is for the people: You could have changed the conditions you live in, had you strongly objected and made it impossible for generals to come into power and stay in power or if you had kept a vigilant on the rulers elected by your vote. You and tens of millions of among you did not stand guard on your own national interests and now the complaining of the national losses will be misplaced. It is you to blame and only you. And while the hopes that were raised when the Supreme Judiciary disbanded by Musharraf was restored, have not materialised; the fact is that a judiciary cannot stand on its own. It has to have the apparatus of the state willing to implement its decision. Also, if the people show their will only to accept justice from the judiciary, it will deliver only justice. But not when we are divided and want the kind of decisions that either favours us personally or our favourite political party. We have not been demanding enough in this regard. Nevertheless, it is you and only you who can change the fate of the nation for better and because you are part of it, the betterment will also include you. You and the rest of Pakistanis still have a chance to atone for your past sins and negligence. We still have rulers elected by us and if we are vigilant, we can keep our elected rulers from straying towarfs the path of corruption. In a nutshell, we, the people of Pakistan, have to take charge of our nation.

President Zardari urges nation to stand united; never allow Constitution to be subverted
President Asif Ali Zardari Tuesday urged the nation to stand firm and united for safeguarding and strengthening democracy and to resolve never to allow the Constitution to be subverted nor the democratic process derailed.The President, in a message on the 67th Independence Day, extended his heartiest felicitations to all Pakistanis living in the country and abroad. He regretted that unfortunately Pakistan’s past history was marred by repeated assaults on democracy and abrogation of the Constitution, which was also endorsed by some state institutions.“Let us resolve that we will never allow the Constitution to be subverted nor the democratic process derailed,” the President said.