http://news.yahoo.com/With the 2016 election a little more than three years away, Hillary Clinton says she won't rush into a decision whether to make a second go for the White House.
Monday, September 23, 2013
Canada condemned the attacks that killed nearly 80 parishoners leaving a historic Anglican church in Pakistan Sunday. According to Reuters, two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the 130-year-old All Saints Church in Peshawar after mass had ended. “We are deeply concerned by the violent disregard of extremists in Pakistan for the right of all religious communities to practise their faith in peace and security," Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Andrew Bennett, Canada’s ambassador for Religious Freedom, said in a joint statement. "This was an act of cowardly violence that brutally targeted innocent worshippers. “Canada calls on Pakistani authorities to bring these perpetrators to justice and to protect those who seek to worship in peace, free from fear and intimidation." The Taliban-linked militant group TTP Jundullah claimed responsibility within hours of the attack. "They are the enemies of Islam, therefore we target them," said the group's spokesman, Ahmed Marwat. "We will continue our attacks on non-Muslims on Pakistani land."
Condemning the suicide attack on a church in Peshawar that killed 81 people, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Monday asked the government to explain how talks with the Taliban will address challenges facing the country. The HRCP described yesterday's attack on the church, which was claimed by a Taliban faction, as "inhuman and an affront to the values to uphold which Pakistan was established". The rights watchdog called on the government to share with the people its strategy to overcome "ongoing faith-based and militant-orchestrated attacks on citizens across the country". It asked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government to explain how holding talks with the Taliban will address the "challenges that haunt Pakistan today". "How will such talks help rein in the multiple other actors engaged in a bloody movement by extremist militants at the domestic level?" HRCP said in a statement. Over 120 people were also injured when two suicide bombers blew themselves outside the historic church in Peshawar, the capital of the restive Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. Sharif has been pushing plans for talks with the Taliban but he too said yesterday's attack could affect the process. HRCP said the suicide bombing and similar attacks in the past were symptomatic of a deeper malady. Amid the militants onslaught, the new government was yet to share "its vision and strategy for dealing with the problem of militancy in the name of religion", it said. The organisation asked the government to take steps to reassure non-Muslim citizens that authorities have the will and ability to protect their lives and religious freedoms.
http://www.euronews.com/The deadliest attack on Christians in Pakistan has brought protests in several cities. More than 80 people are known to have died after two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside an Anglican church in Peshawar on Sunday. Three days of mourning have been declared. Demonstrators vented their anger at the government, accusing it of failing to protect minorities. A militant group linked to the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility, saying it would continue its attacks on non-Muslims. People blocked streets in Islamabad and elsewhere, with more protests expected. Burials have been taking place in Peshawar, the northwestern city surrounded by tribal areas often controlled by militants. Pakistan’s Christians number about two percent of the population and are among the country’s poorest.
http://www.pajhwok.com/Gunmen dragged a female teacher out of a car and shot her dead in the Pushtkoh district in the Bala Baluk district of western Farah province, officials said on Monday. Farida, who taught at the Chah Zandan High School, was on her way to Farah City, the provincial capital, on Monday morning when gunmen intercepted the vehicle she was travelling in near Regi village. Abdul Rahman Zhwandai, the governor’s spokesman, accused the Taliban of killing the schoolteacher, but rebels have so far said nothing in this regard. Mohammadullah, who was in another car behind Farida, said five motorcyclists stopped her vehicle. He claimed the men were Taliban, who dragged the teacher out of the car and shot her to death on the spot. Her spouse Syed Nizamuddin works at the provincial Independent Election Commission (IEC) office, said the office head, Mirwais Azizi. She is the second teacher to be gunned down in a month. A male teacher was killed last month in an ambush in the Sangin district of southern Helmand province. Meanwhile, a security official said six insurgents had been killed during an overnight military operation in Grana and Seh Joy villages of Bala Baluk. An Afghan National Army spokesman, Mohammad Hanif Rezaee, said another seven suspected militants had been detained during the overnight offensive. The dead included Abdul Rahman Neka, a Taliban commander.
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and its allies tasted public anger for the first time when aggrieved families of those killed in the Sunday’s twin suicide attacks on All Saints Church in Peshawar city sparked anger over the government’s apathy. “Shame, shame, we don’t want your posters and slogans. Come and help us,” the Lady Reading Hospital crowded with families of the killed and injured in the attacks resonated with protest chants as one PTI MPA turned up to give a statement on media present on the spot instead of consoling the families of the victims. The yard outside the trauma centre resonated with cries of pain and anger as the aggrieved families did not let the MPA score points on media and speak. Mourners were chanting slogans against the provincial government and LRH management for not providing quick response to the traumatised wounded people. “The government instead of giving severe punishment to the culprits has been releasing militants and criminals from prisons,” remarked Father John William, who stated that not a single murderer was brought to justice. Umar Maseeh, another protester at LRH, accused PTI chairman Imran Khan of supporting the cause of militants. “Imran carried out his election campaign across the country, but he was never attacked, while we are unsafe even inside church, why?” he asked. “It only shows Imran is a sympathiser of militants,” he alleged. The bloody attack was a reality check for the coalition partners of PTI, including Qaumi Watan Party and Jamaat-i-Islami. The ministers and MPAs fearing backlash could not dare to visit the LRH for almost three hours after the incident to console the angry mourners and ensure timely treatment of the wounded. There were no arrangements at the official level to provide coffins. Thanks to Al Khidmat Foundation which arranged about 100 coffins for packing bodies. Of total 59 cabinet members, advisors, special assistants and parliamentary secretaries, only senior minister Sikandar Khan Sherpao and PTI provincial information secretary Ishtiaq Urmar, who is also parliamentary secretary, reached the LRH, but the angry protesters did not let them speak. Agitated Christians forced Sikandar Sherpao and Mr Urmar to leave the hospital’s premises immediately. The absence of Information Minister Shah Farman often seen in an offensive demeanour on the floor of the assembly and press briefings, was conspicuous. Health Minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai whose reckless statements frequently put the ruling coalition in hot waters was missing till the PTI chairman and chief minister turned up at the hospital where he just gave figures of the dead and injured in the attack. Perhaps, it was the appearance of the former information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain on media which might have spurred the PTI into action as Imran Khan came from Islamabad to the Peshawar hospital for damage control. Imran, while talking to media, blamed his political rivals for inciting the aggrieved Christians against the provincial government. He condemned them for politicising the incident. However, he seemed willy-nilly in condemning the terrorists who had attacked the innocent worshippers at one of the oldest churches of the city. “The previous government has left the mess for us and now people are being provoked against us,” he told media without mentioning the Awami National Party. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar, on the directives of the President and prime minister, came too late (at around 8:00pm) with the message of the Punjab chief minister’s offer of medical help. The agent of the federal government Engineer Shaukatullah, who did not come out from his palatial Governor’s House to console the religious minority brutally attacked by terrorists, was visible only when the interior minister was talking to media.
The senior Taliban leader released by Pakistan last week can no longer deliver what the U.S. and the Karzai regime expect from him Pakistan released Mullah Abdul Ghani Biradar on September 21 after a three-year detention. He was the senior most member of the Taliban at the time of his arrest by a joint Pakistan military/U.S. intelligence team in Karachi in 2010. There were conflicting theories about the reasons for his capture. It is believed that the U.S. authorities had located him and the Pakistani officials had no choice but to “extend cooperation” in making the arrest. Some believe that Mullah Biradar was in covert contact with the Americans for laying down the basis for reconciliation with the Taliban in Afghanistan, and that this had irked the Pakistan security establishment which could not digest any unilateral moves by Taliban leaders that bypassed it. That was enough excuse for restricting his freedom. Yet another theory is that he was detained at the behest of the top Taliban leadership because of his alleged clandestine links with some American mediators. Prolonging his detention did not deliver any political advantage for Pakistan. On the one hand, Islamabad got rid of a continuing and unwarranted headache by setting Biradar free; on the other it reciprocated Kabul’s overtures by accepting their demand for his release. Handing him over to the authorities in Kabul would have created a permanent breach in relations with the Taliban leadership. So he has been released and allowed to go wherever he wants, and he may head to Qatar or Saudi Arabia where other senior cadre of the Taliban now live. As mediator The point, however, is that by detaining Biradar, Pakistan has irrevocably damaged his credentials and his possible role as peace mediator. The Taliban have consistently followed the policy of not acknowledging any of its cadre detained either in Afghanistan or Pakistan. Freed, they lose their relevance as far as the Taliban are concerned. Their bona fide becomes suspect for a number of reasons. In the eyes of the Taliban, detained and released cadre could have been tutored or even indoctrinated, and would speak the language of the captor. The foremost example of this is Mullah Zaeef, who was arrested by Pakistan in 2001 while he was still the Taliban’s ambassador in Islamabad. The same thinking or yardstick would apply to Mullah Biradar. As Biradar is such a senior leader (or was), and is related to the Taliban leader Mullah Omar, he may prove to be of some help in providing insights into the Taliban mindset on issues such as the possible convergence of perceptions on how to mainstream the Taliban in the political and electoral processes of Afghanistan. He may even be useful in building bridges between the Taliban and the Americans, but certainly not between the Taliban and the Afghan regime. The bedrock of the Taliban approach to any negotiated settlement remains the complete withdrawal of all coalition forces. This would continue to be the main stumbling block to any resolution of the conflict that is predicated upon the acceptance of the U.S. scheme of things in Afghanistan, including talks with the Karzai government. Reaching out Why was the Afghan government so desperately seeking the release of Mullah Biradar? For several years now Kabul has been investing a lot of labour and resources in opening up channels of communication with the Taliban leaders. The idea was to establish direct contacts with the movement’s leaders so that “other” mediators or “spoilers” could be bypassed and the Taliban pressured or persuaded to join the government in return for some representation in the various branches of the administration. This was never going to work. It was then decided to make efforts to secure the release of Mullah Biradar who could possibly use his clout and influence in helping to facilitate contacts between the regime and the Taliban leadership. Towards settlement
The Afghan authorities, rather than seeking the release of a prisoner, howsoever eminent and important, should realise that the long term and sustainable resolution to the conflict lies in creating a consensus, with all groups on board, that will ensure the withdrawal of all coalition forces from the country — a sine qua non for the country’s sovereignty and stability. A consensus that will be based on the following foundations: no foreign militants in Afghanistan; Afghan soil not to be allowed to be used against any other country; progress towards pluralism and institution-building; guaranteeing human rights and interacting with the international community. Afghan institutions like its Parliament, Constitution, President are sacrosanct but more sacrosanct is the integrity, unity and sovereignty of the country. Treating symptoms, sometimes successfully, can drive one into a state of complacency such that the focus shifts from resolving the underlying problem. The U.S. and its appendage in Kabul have been endeavouring to somehow diminish the strength or support for the insurgency by bribes, detentions, killings, weaning away the reconcilables, night raids, tortures — but the rebellion or insurgency has not abated or diminished in its intensity, vigour or the number of people offering their lives for a cause which they believe is just. Just as rank and file Afghans rose to defend their liberty in the wake of the former Soviet Union’s military intervention in the 1980s, rank and file Afghans are resisting the U.S.-led military intervention that has lasted for nearly 12 years. That however is no proof that the people of Afghanistan support the Taliban’s policies overwhelmingly. It only demonstrates the will of the people in supporting a movement that is in the vanguard of a struggle to free the country of foreign occupation. As for Pakistan, its short-sighted policy of detaining a person of such seniority and destroying his credibility and capability to facilitate useful, meaningful contacts with the Taliban for either Pakistan or America would be termed a grave error of judgment — whatever be the cause or motive for his detention.
As bodies became unseemly piles in the morgue and victims offered up mangled injuries for attention, Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) was mercilessly transported back to the horrors of October 28, 2009 when a bomb exploded at Meena Bazaar. “It is difficult to tell how many people have been killed or injured, they are just pouring in,” said LRH Chief Executive Officer Arshad Javaid initially. “This is the biggest trauma we have had to deal with since the 2009 attack, which killed 139 people.” And no one was prepared. The LRH chief confessed the hospital was running short of medicines, supplies, coffins and something he did not need to say out loud – space. Pervez Masih, an eyewitness waiting to get head and chest injuries looked at, described how an ordinary weekend mass at the 130-year-old church turned into a bloody Sunday. Around 400 people, including the elderly, women and children, were at the church, he estimated. “What sounded like a minor blast occurred outside the church, but people rushed out to the main gate.” That is when the second suicide bomber, clad in a police uniform, ran at the crowd and blew himself up, said Pervez. “We don’t understand what happened next,” he said, and he does not remember how he reached the hospital. Principal of Geovernment High School No-4 Nothia William Ghulam and his son Neil William, a student of Khyber Medical College Peshawar, were not as fortunate as Pervez. They died in the blasts, but William Ghulam’s wife, daughter, brother Anwar and sister-in-law survived, however, not unscathed. Anwar and his wife were being treated for head, chest and hand injures at the LRH. The aftermath of the twin suicide attack has resulted in at least 78 dead and more than 146 injured. By evening, Khyber Teaching Hospital had 25 patients – six women and three minors – and had sent 15 of their nurses to the LRH. A jolt to the system As the first closest point of response, the LRH took in the lion’s share of the casualties but Sunday meant lean staff; even the blood bank was shut. Doctors had to be called in; the hospital had to be woken up with a shock to its system. The first response to any calamity or attack determines many eventualities. Most importantly, it controls the increase in fatalities and severity of injuries. This was near impossible in the attack at the church as ‘ambulances’ took the shape and form of anything with wheels and a working engine. No Rescue 1122, a few Edhi and mostly Al Khidmat ambulances were visible hurrying to the LRH. The latter eventually took bodies waiting to be buried to their homes. Inside the hospital, while LRH doctors, nurses and staff were being called in, not much could be done about the shortage of space – the dead and the injured remained lying on the floor for nearly three to four hours. Below ground, the LRH morgue has the official capacity to store 60 bodies. Without sufficient hands on deck, the deceased lay askew on blocks of ice. The hospital had only 52 coffins at a point when it had at least 70 bodies. The last straw, the first brick Above ground, the chaos only brewed chaos. As relatives collected inside the halls, there were not enough medical professionals to cater to everyone’s injuries and beds were in short supply. A majority of the injured seemed to be women and children. Distraught, with no place to even sit, loved ones raised a voice, chanting slogans against the absence of facilities and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government. “Yeh zalim loug hain, yeh humain is mulk mein nahin jeenay dein geh,” cried an inconsolable family member of a deceased victim. Younas Masih, an older adult, led the impromptu protest which resulted in some broken window panes and a rowdy crowd. “We are citizens of this country and we have equal rights like other citizens. Why is the PTI government not providing us with security and with facilities in the hospital?” “We only ask for our rights,” said Younas. “This is a huge loss for us.” Security lapse? As the hospital was overrun with patients and caregivers, safety measures were invisible. Standard procedures after a blast dictate heightened security to ensure a second disaster does not follow, bur there were no policemen or private guards visible at the gates or inside. After the hospital gained some control, LRH chief Javaid assured the victims and their worried caregivers the hospital was fully staffed and will attempt to treat every patient. Referencing the blood bank which was shut earlier, Javaid promised the hospital was equipped with blood but encouraged people to go and donate. Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2013.
The Express TribuneUN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned Sunday’s “atrocious” terrorist attack on a church in Peshawar and called on the government to bring the perpetrators to justice.
The death toll of twin suicide bombings at a church in Peshawar has reached 81, Geo News reported. The tragedy came to pass after two suicide attackers blew themselves up outside a church near Qissa Khawani bazaar here on Sunday. According to latest reports at least 145 people were injured in the attacks. Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) cordoned off the site of crime after what is said to be the Pakistan’s deadliest attack on the Christian community. The dead and injured, some of them seriously, were rushed to different hospitals of Peshawar including Lady Reading Hospital. AFP adds: The two attackers struck at the end of a service at All Saints Church in Peshawar, the main town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which has borne the brunt of a bloody extremist insurgency in recent years.There were 34 women and seven children among the dead. Pakistan's umbrella Taliban movement claimed responsibility, saying it had set up a new faction, Junood ul-Hifsa, to kill foreigners to avenge US drone strikes on Taliban and Al-Qaeda operatives. "We carried out the suicide bombings at Peshawar church and will continue to strike foreigners and non-Muslims until drone attacks stop," Ahmad Marwat, a spokesman for the group, told AFP by telephone. In June, the group claimed responsibility for killing 10 foreign climbers at a base camp of Nanga Parbat, the second highest mountain in Pakistan after K-2.Pope Francis also spoke out against the violence, calling it "a bad choice of hatred and war". The small and largely impoverished Christian community suffers discrimination in the overwhelmingly Muslim-majority nation but bombings against them are extremely rare. Schoolteacher Nazir Khan, 50, said at least 400 worshippers were greeting each other after the service when there was a huge explosion. "A huge blast threw me on the floor and as soon as I regained my senses, a second blast took place and I saw wounded people everywhere," Khan told AFP. An AFP reporter saw shreds of human flesh and bloodstains on the walls and floor of the church, whose windows had been ripped out by the blast. Pages of a Bible were scattered near the altar and rice meals mingled with dust on the floor amid shattered benches. Walls were gouged with ball bearings used in the explosives, he said. Grieving relatives blocked the main Grand Trunk Road highway with bodies of the victims to protest against the killings, an AFP reporter said. Christians in Karachi, Lahore, Multan and other cities also staged protest rallies to condemn the attacks and demand state protection for their lives and properties, AFP reporters said. In the southern port city of Karachi angry protesters clashed with police when they tried to clear a road in Isa Nagri, a low-income Christian neighbourhood.In the town of Gojra in Punjab province in 2009, a mob burned 77 houses and killed seven Christens.
http://troubledmindsthoughts.blogspot.com/On 22nd September 2013, around 78 people were killed and over a 100 were injured when two blasts occurred near a church in the Peshawar Kohati's gate area. Many women and children, including a three year old child, also died, and most of them are in a critical condition. What was their fault? What possible sin did they commit? What could they possibly have done to deserve something so horrific to happen to them? They were Christians. They were not Muslims. They did not believe what the 'official Muslims' of Pakistan believe in. Their fault is that they exist. Their fault is that they were born in Pakistan, the country which does not believe in the rights of minorities, rather it believes in the right to make their life a living hell. Their fault is that they are helpless. Their fault is that they are basically not Muslims. Today once again, the government has failed to provide adequate security to the minorities of Pakistan. Today once again people have died due to their beliefs. Today, children and women, for whom it was just an ordinary Sunday with ordinary church meetings, have died merely because they went to church to practise their beliefs. Now, they'll be returning home without their loved ones. Many of them will be returning to empty homes. But heartbreakingly, many of them will not be returning at all. All this commotion, all this haphazardness, all this chaos but the government just sits and does nothing. The government fails to provide adequate security to its minorities. It also fails to prevent hate speech against the minorities, all of them including Christians, Hindus, Ahmadis and Shias. It fails to give them their basic right - the right to live. No one can declare that any minority has been given that basic right, because that would be an outright lie. All the government can do when something like this happens is to fake a sad face, look grim and condemn the attack and demand for the victims to be brought to justice. They won't take any action against any perpetrators, they won't TRY to investigate the incident. Why? Because they're just minorities. So I ask the government and the politicians and everyone who just gave a statement condemning the attack - What will condemning the attack do? The victims, they don't need your fake sympathies. They don't need your phony statements about condemnation. They don't need your stupid statements to the press. They need security. They need justice. They need to be assured that this will not happen again. Can you provide it? Can you promise them this won't happen again? How can you when you don't even give a damn what happens to the minorities in Pakistan anyway? As long as no one hurts you and your family, why would you even care? We demand justice. We demand basic rights to be given to all minorities to be able to freely practise their religion, we demand them to be able to live without the fear of constantly look over their shoulder for someone who wants to kill them in the name of Islam. We want guarantee that all their rights will be safeguarded and that they will be provided security. We demand justice for each and every person who has been affected by those monstrous attacks in the name of Islam. This is not what Islam teaches. Islam is a religion of peace and love, it is not the religion of forcefulness and hatred and bloodshed. Today, Peshawar bleeds. Today Pakistan bleeds. You may not call them Pakistanis, you may even pass judgements that Christians have always been secretly working against Pakistan, but you know deep down that Christians are as Pakistani as they come. Today, they have lost over 60 members of their community. Just condemning an attack will not do. What good does it do to them? Will it bring their loved ones back? Will the perpetrators get what they deserve? Will the police even bother investigating? Or will they let it be, because after all, they're Christians, just another minority of Pakistan. Yesterday, the Kalima was removed from an Ahmadi mosque in Sialkot. Today, a massacre of Christians took place in Peshawar. What is next? Which minority is going to be targeted next? Shias? Hindus? Or back to Ahmadis? This is never going to end. This will keep on going until the extremists wipe out every minority from Pakistan and then live in the 'land of the pure'. That pure land which is now full of the blood of innocent men, women and children. The same pure land which all of these minorities helped to make. The same pure land which now has no place for anyone except the religious extremists inciting hatred against minorities and the greedy politicians, who only care about money and power. To the minorities, I say run. Run and do not look back. Pakistan is not the place to live right now, or anytime in the near future. Live somewhere where at least you will be treated like a human, at the very least. At least you would be able to live without the constant fear that you'll be murdered at that very spot. Run. To the attackers and the government, I say you can kill people and murder them in the name of Islam and you can condemn these incidents all you want, but God knows what is in your hearts. Fear the day when you will be judged in front of Him for murdering innocent people. Fear the day when He encompasses you in His Wrath. Because no wrath is greater than His. Fear that day. May some sense be knocked into you. So long. Till the next blast. Till the next minority attack in the name of Islam.
Suicide bombing in an historic church in Peshawar, Pakistan, has been widely condemned by a UK-based human rights organisation as another example of how Pakistan’s authorities fail to protect minorities in the majority-Muslim country. Global Minorities Alliance (GMA), which advocates for the rights of persecuted minorities the world over, has watched the story unfold with mounting concern as it becomes apparent that a lack of help at the scene has caused chaos and is hampering efforts to find the people still missing.