Sunday, August 25, 2013
Inside a half-empty lecture hall at the American University of Beirut, Maryam Alkhawaja explains her cause. "The thing about Bahrain is that nobody really knows what's going on there because there's not much media coverage," Alkhawaja said during a recent visit. "But the protests never stopped." At just 26, the young woman is already one of her country's most outspoken rights activists, and she's on a mission: to make sure "that people across the world, not just the Arab world, across the world, are hearing about what's going on the ground." To carry out that mission, Alkhawaja -- who has dual Bahraini and Danish citizenship, and is the acting president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights -- lives in exile and travels the world explaining how her people are oppressed. Back in the auditorium, her audience is small, but extremely attentive. "Every single day," Alkhawaja says, "between 15 to 25 different areas come out to protest in Bahrain. Every single day." Those demonstrations began in February 2011, at the height of the Arab Spring. Bahraini citizens, spurred by successful uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, demanded democratic reforms and other changes in the way the country was run. Anger from the majority Shiite population was directed at the ruling Sunni minority. But Bahrain's uprising failed to gain the traction of other regional revolutions after a crackdown by authorities in the tiny island state, backed by troops from nearby Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Demonstrators say authorities killed dozens of people and arrested, tortured and imprisoned hundreds of others. Opposition leaders have tried to keep the protest movement alive. For Alkhawaja, the cause continues. She says her countrymen and women will not be silenced, despite the odds they face. "When you're talking about human rights, it's black and white," she says. "There's no excuse for committing human rights violations." Alkhawaja accuses Bahrain's government of committing violations on a daily basis, and says her organization exists in part to document those abuses. The government denies the claims, saying it has implemented tough penalties for those who incite what it calls "terrorism." In a statement, the Bahraini government says it has implemented reforms and set up independent bodies to address grievances. "We would also like to make it very clear that Ms. Al-Khawaja's personal misguided view that 'Bahraini citizens are oppressed' is not representative of the broad consensus, nor of the opposition front," the statement said. The government also acknowledged the country's "challenging past" and said remedies are under way. "Since the release of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report in 2011, Bahrain has made a commitment to address all grievances, as well as well reform the institutional landscape to ensure historical errors are not repeated. In regards to grievances pertaining to any accusation of mistreatment, independent bodies have been established to investigate and address any incident of misconduct that may undermine public confidence in the Ministry of Interior (MOI), even if no formal complaint is filed." This kind of sparring is nothing new to Alkhawaja, who was literally born into this line of work. She comes from a well-known family of dissidents. Her father, Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, was sentenced to life in prison for his role in anti-government demonstrations and plotting to overthrow the country's royal family. Many rights groups have called him a prisoner of conscience. Her sister, Zainab Alkhawaja, is also a very prominent rights activist, and also currently locked up -- having been sentenced to prison for, among other things, insulting the police. It can all get to be too much, which is why Alkhawaja says she has to detach. "Part of doing this work is teaching yourself to depersonalize all of the cases that you deal with," she explains. "When I talk about Abdulhadi Alkhawaja the political prisoner and the torture victim, or the torture survivor, I don't talk about Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, my father, who I shared my childhood with -- I talk about Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, the person who is known to Bahrain and is known to the cause." "When I talk about Zainab Alkhawaja, you know, being separated from her three-year-old child, I'm not talking about my sister and my niece," adds Alkhawaja. "I'm talking about Zainab Alkhawaja the Bahraini citizen." Over the past two years, Alkhawaja has become somewhat of a celebrity in the world of human rights activism, and not just in Bahrain. Regularly invited to conferences around the world, she finds her platform growing every day -- with more than 94,000 Twitter followers. She was even named one of Foreign Policy Magazine's Top 100 Global Thinkers in 2012. She seems happy to address anyone willing to listen. Still, she says, it's never easy. "The thing with being a human rights defender is that it's always accompanied with guilt because no matter what you do, you feel you're not doing enough." Which is why Alkhawaja is always connected -- either online or on her phone, no matter where she goes -- reviewing claims, making cases, tweeting updates. She was in Lebanon for only a few days, but never stopped addressing audiences both digital and physical, large and small, urging the world to listen to the stories of the oppressed, one voice at a time.
The convict of Islamabad shootout drama, reportedly named as Sikandar, has admitted for giving his professional services as paid employee of a U.A.E's secret agency, Dunya News reported. An investigative officer told the local newspaper that important progress have been made which revealed that the original name of the convict is Sikandar Hayat. Sikandar Hayat went to U.A.E in 1996 and was involved in collecting funds for banned extremist organisation Lashkar e Taiba'. He was arrested by a secret agency on behalf of suspicious activities in 1998 but was released after a few months. In response, interior minister, Chaudhry Nisar has contacted U.A.E officials regarding the issue and a team will be sent to collect information regarding Islamabad shootout criminal. During this point of time Sikandar married Fatima and has one kid Yousuf. He continued to continue his suspicious activities and was arrested after 4 months. At the same point of time event of 9/11 took place in America. Sikandar was deported to Pakistan in 2001 and here he contacted Lashkar e Taiba and he took training in Waziristan. He changed his name from Sikandar Hayat to Muhammad Sikandar in 2003. He also made a new C.N.I.C and passport and successfully. Muhammad Sikandar went back to the security agency and offered his services which were accepted. He became addicted to drugs and wine. Sikandar gave divorce to his first wife in 2006. According to sources, he came back to Pakistan and married Kanwal who was also seen in Islamabad shootout on August 15th. According to investigative officer, Sikandar went to UAE 25 times from 2003 to March 2009. When he came back to Pakistan, he was extremely addicted to drugs and wine. Sikandar's friend admitted him in a local hospital in DG Khan. Sikandar was addicted to wine, heroine and cannabis but after his treatment in the hospital, he was able to overcome Wine and Heroine but not cannabis. According to sources, in 2010, he received his last salary from U.A.E agency and afterwards their contact was terminated.
The Russian Foreign Ministry on Sunday urged all outside powers concerned about the Syria crisis to exercise restraint and give up the idea of unilateral armed intervention. "Serious attention has been paid in Moscow to a statement by U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel about measures, ordered by President Barack Obama, to make American armed forces ready for armed action against Syria at any moment," said ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich in a statement. Similar approaches have also been heard from "Paris, London and some other capitals ... with complete disregard for a multitude of acts suggesting that the alleged use by Syrian armed forces of chemical weapons in Eastern Ghouta on Aug. 21 was a provocation on the part of the irreconcilable opposition," he said. Syrian rebels claimed that President Bashar al-Assad's forces killed as many as 1,300 people in the chemical weapons attack on Wednesday in the suburbs of Damascus, an allegation denied by the Syrian government. The alleged chemical weapons attack took place just two days after a group of UN inspectors began an investigation into alleged use of chemical weapons in the northern Khan al-Assal town and two other undisclosed locations. The UN team is set to start on-site fact-finding activities Monday on the latest incident, and the Syrian government has agreed to provide necessary cooperation, including a ceasefire at related locations. Welcoming Syria's decision to provide necessary cooperation, Lukashevich urged the international community to show patience and wait for the results of the UN investigation. Moscow, he added, believes that the current fuss about the alleged use of chemical weapons "clearly aims to interfere with the work of UN independent chemical weapons experts that has begun successfully." The diplomat also said it is "reminiscent of events of 10 years ago in which, using false information that the Iraqis possessed weapons of mass destruction as a pretext and bypassing the United Nations, the United States launched a reckless attack with consequences that everyone is well aware of." He warned that any unilateral armed action that bypasses the UN would "undermine international efforts to find a political and diplomatic solution to the Syrian conflict ... and have an extremely destructive effect on what already is an explosive situation in the Middle East." The UN team of inspectors was set up at the request of the Syrian government in March. The Syrian civil war, which began in March 2011, has killed more than 93,000 people and forced more than 1.7 million people to flee the country.
http://www.globalpost.com/As recently as 2010, India's economic rise was thought to be inevitable. Poverty? Call it a “low base.” Unemployed millions? Call that the “demographic dividend.” A runaway deficit? That's “inclusive growth.” Morgan Stanley's Ruchir Sharma warned against that kind of thinking in his 2012 book “Breakout Nations: In pursuit of the next economic miracles,” cautioning that India's rise was in no way guaranteed. The much touted demographic dividend — a population getting younger and more numerous as the rest of the world is aging — would only pay off if India could train and educate its young people and create jobs, he argued. And there were serious impediments to doing either. These days, those warnings are looking especially prescient. Growth has plunged to less than 5 percent, and inflation continues to rise. Meanwhile, the rupee continues to plummet, threatening to increase prices even further and widen the large current account deficit at the root of the problem. Perhaps worse, this week Nokia joined a long list of foreign companies threatening to quit India if the government doesn't get its act together, according to the Indian Express. What went wrong? And, more importantly, how can it be fixed? GlobalPost's Jason Overdorf spoke with Sharma to find out. The interview has been edited and condensed by GlobalPost. GlobalPost: How bad do you think the current crisis will get, and what are you advising Western investors to do? Ruchir Sharma: We are watching this from the sidelines and not really doing anything here. For India, the per capita income is still only $1500. There's still a lot of natural buoyancy at that level for things to go up. There are some trends for example on consumption, where we think things will not decline that much, even though growth has slowed down, because people are still looking to buy more toothpaste or more hair oil. How worried should India really be about the rupee? Is it the real problem, or a symptom of bigger things? It is a real problem. If the rupee freefalls, it has a domino effect. Sure, it will help exports eventually. But you have to understand that when it happens sharply and suddenly, it has negative consequences. A lot of corporate India has taken loans over the past decade in foreign currency [which will now be harder to reimburse]. You warned in your book that India's rise was not a sure bet. What has India done wrong over the past five years to get itself into the current crisis? The biggest fault line in India was that they completely misinterpreted the last decade's boom. It was a rising tide of global liquidity and a very strong emerging market boom that lifted all emerging markets, and India benefited in equal measure. But in India I think we mistook that boom for being our boom. What problems did that miscalculation cause? India spent that entire windfall, because the narrative was all about the fact that growth is coming anyway, so let's figure out how to redistribute the pie. There was hardly any productivity-enhancing reform throughout the boom period. It was seen as inevitable that with a high savings and investment rate, India would do well. [That] hubris, and the complacency that set in after that boom set the stage for what is happening now. Having presided over economic reforms prior to becoming prime minister, Manmohan Singh was seen as a promising leader for India. What went wrong, and what should he have done differently? I think he epitomized this complacency and hubris. A lot is spoken about how he had no political power and his power was undermined. But one of the things that is underappreciated about Manmohan Singh is how he's failed as an economist. He's been consistently been wrong in analyzing India's troubles. What are some of his mistakes? He was on record when inflation was going up as saying that rising food prices and other prices was a sign of prosperity, so rising inflation was perfectly fine. ... He was talking about how — because India has a savings rate of more than 30 percent and an investment rate of more than 35 percent — growth has to be 9 percent. [That’s] an academic concept that had no connection with what was happening on the ground. So he completely missed the downturn when it came. Then they've allowed a current account deficit of 4-5 percent of GDP, knowing as any economist knows that a current account deficit of more than 2 or 3 percent of GDP is a dangerous sign for any economy. Everybody talks about economic reforms, but plenty of projects are delayed by bureaucratic inertia. Are bad rules the main problem, failure to implement the rules? I think it's a combination of both. One [problem] is the regulatory uncertainty [that results] when you keep changing rules. That causes a whole lot of tension. Plus you do need some sort of policies to be put in place. You do need labor market reforms. You do need prices of your inputs, whether it's petrol prices or diesel, to be market-linked, rather than subsidies going out there. You do need some check on the fiscal deficit. They had a fiscal responsibility act [limiting the fiscal deficit to] 3 percent of GDP, but they've busted that. What, if anything, can India do now to get back on track, and what is the likelihood of that happening in the current political situation? Any step that is dialing back, and regressive in nature, will do nothing. From an accounting perspective, you may think you're saving a billion here and a billion there [with steps like raising the import duty on gold or TV sets, or limiting the amount of money Indians can send abroad]. But the confidence damage you do is far greater than this nickel and diming. They've got to stop this sort of thing to start with. But any major step will have to wait for a new election. Whether for Singh or the next PM... What are the government's best options for long-term, sustainable growth? A lot of this needs to be done at a local level. India is pretty much like Europe. It's a very federal structure. Having top-down reform in India is passé. More and more power needs to be given to the states, to figure out what is the best policy for them, and what they need to do. If you do retail reform, it needs to be done at the state level, so they can figure out what they need to do. Similarly labor reform. More freedom needs to be given to the states to decide. And [instead of] these huge central schemes, more schemes need to be given to the states to decide how to spend it, what to do, rather than having a central agency allocate funds. http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/india/130823/india-economy-ruchir-sharma-morgan-stanley
The Syrian government has agreed to allow UN inspectors to visit the site of a suspected chemical weapon attack outside Damascus, state media report. The move came shortly after a senior US official told reporters there was "very little doubt" that a chemical weapon had been used by government forces. Activists say Syrian forces killed more than 300 people in several suburbs east and west of the capital on Wednesday. The Syrian authorities have denied any responsibility and blamed "terrorists". On Saturday evening, US President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron agreed that there should be a "serious response" if Syrian troops had used chemical weapons. But Syria's information minister warned that US military intervention would bring chaos and that the Middle East would "burn". Omran Zoabi told Lebanon-based al-Mayadeen TV the Syrian state and its armed forces remained strong, with friends and allies in the region.
Police on Suday arrested twenty persons vehemently protesting against prolonged unannounced electricity loadshedding causing immense hardship and misery to the area people here, Geo News reported.
The images of the carnage on the outskirts of Damascus highlighted to Israel and the international community the degree of the horror currently unfolding just over the border.
Turkey's prime minister has quashed opposition in the streets, but now he faces a more menacing foe: challengers within his own party and from the nebulous Gülen movement. It could spell the end of political Islam in Turkey as we know it.The many hundreds of thousands of demonstrators who took to the streets in Istanbul did not succeed in toppling their country's prime minister or in continuing to occupy Gezi Park on the city's Taksim Square. The protests against the government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, sparked in late May by plans to level Gezi Park, have subsided. Yet the uprising's effects may last well beyond this summer. Members and supporters of Erdogan's conservative-Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) have long refrained from expressing any criticism. Now, though, AKP followers are turning against the prime minister, with Erdogan's competitors within the party using the post-Gezi unrest as an opportunity to distance themselves from him. In the English-language edition of the pro-government daily newspaper Zaman, columnist Yavuz Baydar recently compared Turkey under Erdogan to the United States during the McCarthy era. The conservative-Islamist Journalists and Writers Foundation (GYV) likewise warns that these current developments in Turkey overshadow any attempts at further democratization. Most striking about this criticism are its sources -- both Zaman and the GYV belong to the movement surrounding Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen, who is believed to have enormous influence within the government. Gülen himself has been living in self-imposed exile in the US for years, having left Turkey after public prosecutors accused the elderly imam of working to foment an Islamist revolution. His followers have established schools in 140 countries, as well as a bank, media outlets and hospitals (see graphic)
Compiled by HANNA INGBER
Some Afghan women live tradition-bound lives like this burqa-clad woman, left, in Herat, Afghanistan. Others appear to have more freedoms, like Aryana Sayeed, right, an Afghan singer and a judge on the international television show "The Voice," which launched in Kabul in May.
Female students at the Polytechnical University in Kabul in the mid-1970s.
The Committee to Protect Afghan Journalists (CPAJ) on Thursday said it had registered 41 cases of violence against media representatives during the first six months of the year. In its half-yearly report, the CPAJ said it was deeply concerned about the situation of media outlets, their future and the challenges and threats facing them. CPAJ member Najibullah Sharifi told a press conference in Kabul their findings showed the 41 cases of violence mostly involved government officials, the Taliban and illegal armed groups. He said the concerns about post-2014 situation and the government’s negligence to protect the freedom of speech had encouraged illegal armed groups to threaten journalists. He said incidents of violence against reporters were on the increase amid fears illegal armed groups could resort to further violence in future. With the security environment deteriorating, Sharifi said the government was increasingly denying journalists access to information, mostly in provinces. He said most media outlets in Afghanistan were reliant on foreign aid and they could confront many challenges after 2014 when the aid was said to be cut. The CPJ asked the government to step up efforts at strengthening media organisations, protecting the freedom of speech and keeping the media from collapse.
Afghan villagers say they’re unhappy that the U.S. soldier who massacred 16 Afghan civilians did not receive a death sentence. Survivors of the massacre and relatives of those killed say justice was not achieved in the case of U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales. A U.S. military jury sentenced Bales on August 23 to life in prison with no chance of parole. Villagers who lost family members in the March 2012 night attack by Bales, said justice was served only in what they called the "American way," not the Afghan way. One man who lost 11 relatives in the slaughter in Kandahar Province told reporters after the sentence was handed down at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state: "We came to the U.S. to get justice. We didn't get that." The man was among a group of Afghans who had been flown to the United States to testify against Bales. In June, Bales pleaded guilty to all charges under a deal in which he avoided a death sentence. Following that agreement, giving Bales a death sentence was not an option for the jury of U.S. military personnel. The jury could only decide whether he should or should not have the possibility of parole. The killings inside family compounds in the settlements of Alkozai and Najiban left 22 people dead or injured. Seventeen of the victims were women or children, and almost all were shot in the head. Bales also burned the bodies of victims. Another Afghan villager, whose family members were killed by Bales, told reporters after the sentencing: "We didn't get justice, as I said earlier. He only got a life sentence without parole. But I'm asking the average Americans right here, if somebody jumps in your house in the middle of the night, kills 11 members of your family and tried to burn them, what sort of punishment would you be passing onto that person?" Haji Mullah Baran, whose family members were also killed by Bales, said: "If I had a chance to talk to Sergeant Bales, I would ask him directly, right to his face: 'You're a murderer why did you do this? Didn't you ever think of being a human being, because a human being wouldn't do this.'" Bale Apologizes The day before his sentencing, Bales for the first time publicly apologized for carrying out the massacre. He described the killings as an "act of cowardice, behind a mask of fear...and bravado." But Bales offered no further explanation for the bloodshed, saying, "Nothing makes it right." He added, "I don't know why." Bales, originally from Ohio, is a veteran of four combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. He is a married father of two children. His attorneys have suggested his repeated deployments, as well as injuries including post-traumatic-stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury, may have played a role in Bales' actions. Bales has also admitted to drinking alcohol and to taking steroids in the weeks and months before the killings. The massacre marked the worst case of civilian deaths blamed on a rogue U.S. soldier since the Vietnam War, and led to severe strains in the relationship between Afghans and U.S. troops. U.S. forces briefly halted combat operations in Afghanistan in reaction to Afghan anger over the slaughter.
A curfew has been imposed in troubled areas in central Pakistan following sectarian violence that killed 11 people. District police chief Sarfaraz Falki said rallies and political meetings had also been temporarily banned in the Bakkar district of Punjab Province on August 24. Police officials said members of two rival religious political parties -- the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) party, a radical Sunni Muslim group, and Majlis-e Wahdat-e Muslimeen (MWM), a Shi'ite political group -- exchanged fire in Bakkar on August 23. Reports say the groups clashed after ASWJ accused MWM of gunning down one of its members. Pakistani security forces have been deployed to the town. Pakistan has seen a surge of sectarian violence in recent years.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) says the Islamabad government should detain and prosecute those responsible for deadly attacks on the Shia Muslims across Pakistan. “Militant attacks on the Shias have occurred with increasing ferocity while the security forces have looked on helplessly,” Human Rights Director Ali Dayan Hasan said in a letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday. “Whether the failure to hold and deter attackers is a function of incompetence or complicity by elements of the security forces, the government has a responsibility to reverse this state of affairs,” he added. Human Rights Watch says hundreds of Shias were killed in Pakistan in 2012, which was the deadliest year on record for the Shia Muslim community. Pro-Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked militants, who are reportedly behind the killings, have imposed an economic blockade against the Shia-dominated population areas across the volatile northwest. The frequent incidents have raised concerns among human rights groups, while moderate Pakistani Sunni groups have described the issue as a conspiracy against the country. Taliban leaders, who were toppled in the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan, took refuge in tribal regions of Pakistan and rapidly began to extend their influence from tribes to major towns and cities. The pro-Taliban anti-Shia groups have launched a violent campaign against the Shia Muslims, and are stretching the campaign toward the restive southwestern Pakistan as well. Quetta, the capital of Pakistan's restive southwestern Balochistan province has witnessed several instances of violence directed against the Hazara Shia community in recent months. Several Shia religious gatherings have also been targeted in central province of Punjab over the past months. Shia Muslims in Pakistan say the government must take decisive action against the forces involved in the targeted killings. They also accuse Islamabad of failing to provide security for the Muslim community. The country’s Shia leaders have called on the government to form a judicial commission to investigate the bloodshed. The killing of Shias has caused an international outrage, with rights groups and regional countries expressing concern over the ongoing deadly violence. Shias make up about one-third of Pakistan’s population of over 180 million.
بھکر کی تحصیل دریا خان میں ایک بار پھر کالعدم سپاہ صحابہ کے دہشتگردوں نے شہر کا امن تہہ و بالا کر دیا ہے۔ ابتک کی
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf popularity bubble burst in Peshawar on Thursday as the local residents either stayed home or went to the polling stations to vote against the nominee of Imran Khan’s party for the by-election in the local NA-1 constituency.