Monday, October 21, 2013
The Chinese government on Tuesday issued a white paper on west China's Tibet Autonomous Region, detailing its comprehensive development and rapid progress in the past 60-odd years. "The development and progress in modern Tibet results from the innate logic of its social and historical environment, and has its roots in China's progress in a larger context," says the white paper, released by the Information Office of the State Council under the title "Development and Progress of Tibet." Describing the region prior to the 1950s "as dark and backward as medieval Europe," the white paper notes in the foreword that Tibet was a society of feudal serfdom under theocratic rule, a society characterized by a combination of political and religious powers. According to the white paper, after a series of key historical stages including the peaceful liberation, democratic reform, the establishment of the autonomous region and the reform and opening-up drive, the Tibetan people have gained freedom, equality and dignity, and are fully enjoying the fruits of modern civilization. With six chapters, the white paper elaborates Tibet's development over the past six decades in the fields of economy, people's livelihoods, political systems, cultural preservation, religious freedom and environmental protection, among others.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said there is not an official date or any success factors for the Geneva II conference on Syria, according to a recent interview broadcast by Lebanese al-Mayadeen TV on Monday. "Officially, there is no date up till this moment," Assad said, adding "there are no factors that could help making it (conference) a success so far." The Syrian leader, speaking with a confident tone, cast doubt over who the opposition parties would represent at the conference, given their real weight and credibility on ground. "Who are the groups that will partake? What is their relation with the Syrian people? Do they represent the Syrian people or the countries that created them?" Assad questioned at a time when the exiled opposition coalition was in disunity and unclear on their participation in the conference. He said Syria has no problem in taking part in the conference, which is designed to bring together the opposition and the government to reach a political solution. "If the financial and arms support for the rebels stopped, there would be no problem in solving the crisis," Assad said. He noted that the crisis in his country has passed through several stages, adding that his administration is now in the stage of fighting al-Qaida and its affiliates. Meanwhile, he said weapons have been smuggled illegally into Syria since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, accusing regional and Arab countries of supporting the current rebels that are fighting his rule. Qatar was the first country to support the armed men in Syria with money, Assad charged, adding that Turkey provided the rebels with logistical support and Saudi Arabia followed their lead. He said Jordan was not involved in supporting the rebels during the early days of the crisis, but started to do so less than a year ago. Slamming Saudi Arabia, Assad said the country "has faithfully implemented U.S. policies," namely "Saudi is publicly supporting the armed groups in Syria with money and weapons as well through political and media means." Taking a swipe at the Muslim Brotherhood, Assad said the group has become more "terrorist" than before. Damascus has been accusing the Gulf states of being behind the rebellion since its start more than two and a half years ago, and Assad had no qualms naming them in the interview. Yet, the president admitted internal problems have opened the gate for regional and international powers to intervene in the Syrian crisis. Regarding the possibility of his running for re-election, despite the West's call for his resignation, Assad said he " personally" does not mind running for the upcoming presidential election in 2014. Meanwhile, he urged the UN-Arab League Joint Representative Lakhdar Brahimi to stick to his tasks only. The president said Brahimi "tried to convince me not to run for the 2014 election and I answered him that this is a domestic affair." Brahimi is currently on a regional tour to garner support for the upcoming conference planned to convene in Geneva in late November. The tour will end in a visit to Syria.
For several weeks now, a small number of women have been getting behind the wheel of their family cars in defiance of the kingdom’s traditional ban on female driving. These sporadic acts of civil disobedience are part of a renewed campaign against the ban meant to climax on Saturday, Oct. 26, with scores, or as organizers hope, maybe even hundreds, of women taking to the road. It's the third time in recent memory that Saudi female activists have publicly protested the driving ban. While they do not expect the government to rescind the ban in response to their actions, some say they see an encouraging shift in both social attitudes and official statements, as well as new government-sanctioned opportunities for women, that together point to a growing acceptance of women driving. Whether this eventually leads to a formal lifting of the ban, or a de facto disregard for it as increasing numbers of women drivers turn up on Saudi streets, remains to be seen. “Things are looking brighter for Saudi women,” said Tamador Alyami, a 34-year-old writer and mother of two in Jeddah who has had a California driving license since 1999 and plans to drive on Saturday. “There are a lot of things going on that make us hopeful and optimistic that this time it is going to be different. “ She noted that 30 women were appointed this year to the Majlis Al Shura, an advisory body to the king; that women will vote and run as candidates in municipal elections in 2015, and that several Saudi women recently were licensed to practice law. Women also comprise more than half of Saudi university students. Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/10/saudi-women-driving-ban-dissent-dissidents-police-arrests.html#ixzz2iPxLmWZ0
Many countries have problematic records, but Saudi Arabia stands out for its extraordinarily high levels of repression and its failure to carry out its promises to the Human Rights Council. Countries should use this opportunity to send a strong, unified message that Saudi Arabia needs to make critical human rights reforms.Other countries should use the rare opportunity for scrutiny of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record on October 21, 2013, to press for concrete steps to end abuses. Country representatives gathering in Geneva for the United Nations Human Rights Council’s periodic review of Saudi Arabia should press for actions that include the immediate release of Saudi activists jailed over the past year solely for peacefully advocating reform. Saudi Arabia has convicted seven prominent human rights and civil society activists since the beginning of 2013 – including Abdullah al-Hamid, Mohammed al-Qahtani, Mikhlif al-Shammari, and Wajeha al-Huwaider – on broad, catch-all charges, such as “trying to distort the reputation of the kingdom,” “breaking allegiance with the ruler,” and “setting up an unlicensed organization.” Saudi courts are currently trying others, including the human rights lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair, on similar charges and authorities have harassed and placed travel bans on dozens more. “Many countries have problematic records, but Saudi Arabia stands out for its extraordinarily high levels of repression and its failure to carry out its promises to the Human Rights Council,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director. “Countries should use this opportunity to send a strong, unified message that Saudi Arabia needs to make critical human rights reforms.” Despite longstanding reform promises, the government of Saudi Arabia has failed to make substantive changes, Human Rights Watch said. In particular, it should improve its arbitrary criminal justice system, abolish the system of male guardianship over women, and throw out discriminatory aspects of its sponsorship system for foreign workers, which leave workers vulnerable to abuses including forced labor. Saudi Arabia also stands out for its failure to heed the recommendations of its most recent Human Rights Council review, in February 2009. Human Rights Watch submitted its own human rights assessment of Saudi Arabia to the Human Rights Council in advance of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), highlighting key concerns and necessary steps to address them. The UPR comes just weeks before Saudi Arabia’s bid for a three-year seat on the Human Rights Council. States will choose 14 countries to replace the ones scheduled to rotate off. One other immediate step that countries should urge is for Saudi Arabia to immediately end its longstanding denial of access for the UN’s own rights monitors. Seven UN rapporteurs have requested access to the kingdom since 2009, but none have been allowed to visit. Saudi Arabia should also sign and ratify core UN human rights treaties and agreements such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. “Saudi Arabia’s exceptionally poor record of cooperation with the UN and its refusal to ratify major human rights legislation should be key features of the Universal Periodic Review,” Stork said. Other key concerns include: An arbitrary criminal justice system, which violates the most basic international human rights standards through systematic violations of due process and lack of fair trial rights. Since 2009, authorities have convicted and jailed scores of men and women under vague politicized charges that place impermissible limits on the right to free expression, association, and assembly for expressing their peaceful political and religious opinions. Saudi Arabia lacks a criminal penal code, leaving individual judges and prosecutors with wide latitude to define and punish alleged criminal behavior based on individual interpretations of Islamic law. An associations law that does not comply with international standards, forcing independent non-charity organizations to operate illegally and leaving activists liable for criminal prosecution for “setting up an unlicensed organization.” Despite some improvements on women’s rights, the failure to abolish fully the male guardianship over women, as Saudi Arabia promised during its 2009 human rights review. Women are required to get permission from male guardians for basic life functions such as to conduct official business with the government agencies, leave the country, or have certain medical procedures. Women remain barred from driving in Saudi Arabia. A discriminatory foreign worker sponsorship system, which gives employers inordinate power over workers and leads to abuses including non-payment of salaries, physical and emotional abuse, and even forced labor and slavery. Workers remain barred from switching employers without permission, even to escape abusive situations, and every worker must obtain an exit visa signed by their employer to leave the country. The UN General Assembly resolution that established the Human Rights Council says that member states should “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights” and “shall fully cooperate with the Council.” “Saudi Arabia’s record of repression and of breaking its promises to improve its human rights practices raise serious questions about its fitness for membership in the Human Rights Council,” Stork said. “Saudi Arabia needs to take concrete, visible steps before the council elections to show it’s willing to improve its abysmal rights record, including freeing the jailed activists.”
Amnesty International warns that Saudi Arabia has ‘ratcheted up the repression’ and that human rights are getting worse
Amnesty International on Monday said Saudi Arabia had failed to act on UN recommendations and “ratcheted up the repression” since 2009, with the arbitrary detention and torture of activists. The London-based watchdog’s statement was released ahead of a UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva on Monday to discuss the oil-rich kingdom’s record, and comes after Riyadh rejected a seat on the UN Security Council, citing the international body’s “double standards” and inability to resolve regional conflicts. “Saudi Arabia’s previous promises to the UN have been proven to be nothing but hot air,” said Amnesty’s MENA director Philip Luther, accusing the kingdom of relying “on its political and economic clout to deter the international community from criticising its dire human rights record.”In its report titled “Saudi Arabia: Unfulfilled Promises,” Amnesty criticised “an ongoing crackdown including arbitrary arrests and detention, unfair trials, torture and other ill-treatment over the past four years” in the kingdom. “Not only have the authorities failed to act, but they have ratcheted up the repression” since 2009, said Luther. “For all the peaceful activists that have been arbitrary detained, tortured or imprisoned in Saudi Arabia since, the international community has a duty to hold the authorities to account,” he said. Amnesty renewed calls for Saudi authorities to release two prominent rights activists handed heavy jailed terms in March. Mohammed al-Gahtani and Abdullah al-Hamed were sentenced to 11 and 10 years imprisonment respectively for violating a law on cybercrime by using Twitter to denounce various aspects of political and social life in the ultra-conservative kingdom. They are co-founders of the independent Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA).“These men are prisoners of conscience who should be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Luther. “Their peaceful activism against human rights violations deserves praise not punishment. The only guilty party here is the government,” he added. Amnesty documented other rights violations it said are committed by Saudi authorities such as “systemic discrimination of women in both law and practise” and “abuse of migrant workers.” Women in the kingdom are not allowed to drive and need permission from their male guardians to travel. It also accused the Sunni-ruled kingdom of “discrimination against minority groups,” including Shiites concentrated in the Eastern Province who occasionally protest to demand more rights. Amnesty also faulted the kingdom for “executions based on summary trials and ‘confessions’ extracted under torture.” The kingdom has executed 69 people so far this year, according to an AFP count. Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under the Gulf state’s strict version of sharia, or Islamic law.
http://www.reuters.com/Saudi Arabia's rights record came under fire at the United Nations on Monday, critics accusing the kingdom of jailing activists without due process and abusing the basic rights of Saudi women and foreign workers. At the U.N. Human Rights Council, Britain called for abolition of the Saudi system of male guardianship for women and was joined by the United States in raising cases of forced labor imposed on migrant workers. The U.S. delegation also voiced concern at Saudi restrictions on freedoms of religion and of association, while Germany called for a moratorium on its use of the death penalty. "Many countries have problematic records, but Saudi Arabia stands out for its extraordinarily high levels of repression and its failure to carry out its promises to the Human Rights Council," Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement to the meeting. Saudi Arabia, which hosts 9 million foreign workers out of a total population of 28 million, was taking all steps needed to protect their rights and provide appropriate conditions, said Bandar bin Mohammed Al-Aiban, president of the Saudi Human Rights Commission. They included a ban on outdoor work in the heat between mid-day and 3 p.m. from June to August, when temperatures are usually higher than 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) and can soar to 50 degrees. "With regard to women's rights, the Islamic Sharia (law) guarantees fair gender equality and the state's legislative enactments do not differentiate between men and women," he said. Saudi women were full citizens able to dispose of their property and manage their affairs without seeking permission from anyone, he said. Britain said more women should be placed in positions of authority and the Saudi government should end the guardianship system. The rules restrict women's legal rights in marriage, divorce, child custody, inheritance, property ownership and decision-making in the family, as well as choice of residency, education and jobs, U.N. experts have said previously.
The K-word, for those outside the Indian subcontinent loop, is code for Kashmir, eternal boondoggle/ bugaboo for all sides. Pakistan wants all of it; India has half of it and is hanging on to it; and US wants none of it - the issue, that is; not the territory. Now, for someone who is said to have complained that India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh brings his complaints against Pakistan to Washington DC like a "dehati aurat," it was rather rich for MianSahib to start his K-mantra during a layover in London, but the only K-word he heard on his arrival at Andrews AirForce Base in Maryland on a PAF Gulf Stream jet, was John Kerry, the secretary of state. Arriving on a Sunday for an official visit has the great advantage of beating traffic into DC, but the downside is it's Obama's day off. Unlike Clinton, who came to work even on a July 4 when Sharif last came to Washington DC for Pakistan's "Dehati Aurat" part I - when it was getting a smacking in Kargil - Obama has no time for time or sympathy for losers. The president was out playing golf with his White House staffers, including Sam Kass, the chef and logistics guys Mike Brush and Marvin Nicholson, leaving it to his secretary of state to welcome the visiting prime minister. Kerry, seen in Indian circles as being a mite too sympathetic to Pakistan, duly met Sharif and hosted him for a dinner later in the night. The menu consisted of Butternut Squash Soup and Grilled Halal Lamb - and you can use your vivid imagination to divine any hidden messages there. For the record though, Kerry welcomed Sharif with the following 127 words: "Let me just say that I'm really pleased to welcome Prime Minister Sharif here. He was just telling me that he hasn't been here since 1999 when he was last in office. He has received me several times very generously in Pakistan. We're very anxious to have a series of high-level, important discussions over the course of the next few days - the Vice President, the President, tonight's dinner. We have a lot to talk about and the relationship with Pakistan could not be more important. On its own, a democracy that is working hard to get its economy moving and deal with insurgency and also important to the regional stability. So, we're very happy to have you here, Mr. Prime Minister. I look forward to the conversations." Following this observation, the state department issued a 164-word statement describing the meeting: Secretary Kerry welcomed Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to the Department of State today for the first bilateral visit of his term following Pakistan's historic first transfer of power between democratically elected civilian governments. Secretary Kerry's meeting with the Prime Minister is their third in three months, and continued the robust dialogue on our shared goal of a stable, secure, and prosperous Pakistan. Discussions covered a broad range of domestic and regional issues, including peace and security, counterterrorism cooperation, collaboration on Pakistan's energy sector, increasing bilateral trade and investment, and the common interest in a secure and stable Afghanistan. Both sides agreed on the importance of our continued counterterrorism cooperation, and that extremism is countered in part by opportunities arising from greater economic stability. To that end, the US, Pakistan's largest trading partner, remains committed to an economic relationship increasingly based on trade and investment.??Following the meeting, Secretary Kerry hosted a private working dinner with the Prime Minister and senior officials from both countries. The word that caught my eye was "anxious." That about describes the state of the relationship and the feeling in Washington DC over Pakistan. When they say, "the relationship with Pakistan could not be more important," it is not the same as "defining partnership of the 21st century." More like ... you scare the hell out of us. Many Pakistanis take this as a compliment. Also duly noted that MianSahib did not say anything. Either his advisors/minders did not trust him to open his mouth or he's saving his much-improved English - upgraded during exile in Saudi Arabia - for a better occasion. Anyway, after feeding Sharif and Party, Kerry is hoofing off to some other crisis spot somewhere in the world, determined one suspects, to beat Hillary Clinton's travel record of 956,733 miles, and become first million-mile secretary of state in US history. That leaves Sharif two whole days to twiddle his thumbs before he meets Obama at the White House on Wednesday, by which time I maybe hoofing off too - not that anyone would notice. Obama remains in town, and in fact, will do a Rose Garden event on the Affordable Care Act in the morning — so it is something of mystery why MianSahib is being made to cool his heels. Maybe he'll jet off someplace to woo investors — they don't play cricket in these parts. Meanwhile, the White House has taken careful aim at the K-word and shot it off the agenda — not that it will stop the Pakistani caterwauling. Whether it is Kashmir or nuclear deal or predator strikes, the drone is incessant. For the record though, US officials who previewed the visit on background said on Sunday that the American policy on Kashmir "has not changed an iota" and it was left to the two sides to sort it out at time and pace and place of their choosing. The advice to Pakistan in the sub-text is: Forget Kashmir, and get on with other things, but as far as Islamabad (or rather, Rawalpindi) is concerned, Kashmir is some kind of facial tic which won't go away. It has to be mentioned at least for form's sake, even if the rest of the world starts yawning at the first sign or sound of it. Then there's also the N-word and the D-word - other signature items on the Pakistani agenda. They are still sore that US and the international community have promoted India to a different nuclear league and want the same deal. In this they now have some help from their taller-than-mountains, deeper-than-oceans, sweeter-than-honey friends who have promised them a couple of spanking new nuclear reactors just to poke Uncle Sam in the eye for making nice with India. Going by past form, Uncle Sam will not be poked in the eye; he will just turn away and pretend the problem does not exist. Some day when the spit hits the fan, there will be many people in the world with spittle on their face. As for the D-word, Pakistan has made such a song and dance about it that even the UN has taken note - not that this particularly bothers the US. The only reason drone strikes are tailing off is because there are very few people left in the badlands of Pakistan to kill by predatory strikes. They've all gone hell and Yemen - and Somalia - or they have become smart enough not to leave any electronic signatures. Of course, there are tons of them in other provinces of Pakistan closer to its eastern borders, but judging by the indulgence with which Uncle Sam has treated that fat terrorist who moves about in SUV convoys with state protection (despite a $ 10 million US bounty), they are not for US drones to take out.
A Christian family faces life threats as they remain hiding since they reportedly participated in protests held against the twin suicide blasts at a local Church. They have been reportedly receiving death threats for protesting against twin suicide attacks; in which their friends were killed. “All in all no less than 171 people died and some 150 people were injured in the deadliest blasts at Peshawar’s All Saints Church,” officials said. A resident of Peshawar Waqas Pervez, 26years old, told that,” Me and my family were “forced to flee” Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and now hide in another city after suspected Muslim militants threatened to kill me, my mother and other relatives.” He added, “The men were angry that I was openly expressing grief at an anti-violence demonstration about the loss of his friends and those who were injured in the suicide attacks.” “The problems began on Monday, September 23, when I and other Christians were protesting on University road near a Christian cemetery to mourn our loved ones and to express concerns over the suicide attacks. As we walked towards the Jamia Mosque, clerics and others came out and tried to stop the protesters and scatter them,” he said. Both the demonstrators and attackers were injured, according to witnesses. “Clerics from the locality vowed to avenge the injuries and they started looking for the people who were leading the protest,” Pervez said. “A day after, several men came to my house; where they threatened me and my mother who was injured in the attack. My father Griffon Pervez, my brother Fahad Pervez and my maternal uncle Johnson Younas tried to stop them, but they were assaulted also. My uncle was injured and they threatened to kill the whole family,” Pervez stated. He said,” My family was forced to leave everything behind and now lives hiding in another city.” However, a local priest who’ identity has not been disclosed for security reasons, helped them escape by providing them means and assistance. Human Rights Activists say,” This isn’t an isolated case. Christians in Pakistan have complained about persecution for their faith in several parts of this heavily Islamic nation.” - See more at: http://lubpak.com/archives/287197#sthash.34NHn1zQ.dpuf
The 16-year-old Pakistani teen targeted for a Taliban assassination because she championed education for girls has inspired the development of a school curriculum encouraging advocacy. George Washington University announced Monday that faculty members are creating multimedia curriculum tools to accompany a book recently released by the teen, Malala Yousafzai. Several faculty members will pilot the curriculum early next year for both college and high school instruction. Free of charge, it will focus on themes such as the importance of a woman's voice and political extremism, the university said. The tools won't just look at the teen's story, but also how the same issues get reflected elsewhere, such as when girls face child marriage and pressures to leave school, said Mary Ellsberg, the director of the university's Global Women's Institute. "It's going to be really interactive and really encourage students to do ... activities outside of school, it will encourage them to get engaged in the communities and as well to help the Malala Fund directly," Ellsberg said. The university's Global Women's Institute is partnered with the Malala Fund, a nonprofit that seeks to ensure girls around the world have access to education. In 2012 when a Taliban gunman walked up to a bus taking Malala and other children home from school in Pakistan's volatile northern Swat Valley and shot Malala in the head and neck. Another girl on the bus was also wounded. Malala now resides in Britain, where she was flown for medical care. Her memoir is "I am Malala."
The so-called progressive intelligentsia, devoid of any confidence in the working masses, are clueless about the perspectives of a mass movement There is hardly a day when the news coming out of Pakistan does not have some form of a calamity or trauma with harrowing footage splashing across television screens. Terrorist attacks or suicide bombings, earthquakes, floods, other natural disasters, unbearable price hikes, collective suicides of impoverished families, selling of children and human organs and so many other horrific events have become a norm in this tragic land. It has been years if not decades that the beleaguered masses of this country have had any blissful respite. A generalised despair stalks the land. This condition is also reflected in the political, cultural, moral, social and ethical milieu that prevails at the top of this crisis-ridden social (dis)order. The body language and utopian promises of the rulers sans sentiment, vigour or belief lay bare their collapse of any confidence in the system they represent. The masses are bewildered and stuck in this quagmire of deprivation, destitution and devastation. The filthy rich and mighty are unashamedly flaunting their ill-gotten opulence of wealth and the spiralling gap between the haves and have-nots is straining society acutely.
http://www.pakistanchristianpost.com/Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC in a letter to US President Barak Obama have appealed to raise issues of safety and security of Christians in Pakistan, to stop misuse of blasphemy laws against religious communities in Pakistan and to restore democratic election process on reserved seats for minorities in parliament instead of un-democratic selection system in a meeting with Prime Minister of Pakistan Mian Nawaz Sharif on October 23, 2013, as such issues undermine true spirit of human right and democracy in Pakistan. “PCC urges US to condition all civil and military aid to Pakistan with human rights, religious freedom and social justice” said Nazir Bhatti PCC Chief added “The Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz Group PML (N) which is ruling over a decade in Punjab province of Pakistan where Christian are second biggest population have failed to protect life and property of millions of Christian who have been targeted on pretext to blasphemy laws and culprits are never brought to justice” There was suicide attack on All Saints Church Peshawar where 113 Christian worshipers were killed and more than 150 injured on September 22, 2013, but no federal or provincial compensation promised is paid not injured are provided with adequate medical assistance. Nazir Bhatti said “Selection system adopted by Pakistan to fill on reserved seats of Minorities and Women is un-democratic and contrary to Article 226 of constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan and requires restoration of election system in which Christian, Hindus, Sikhs and Ahamdiyyia Muslims may elect their representation with their votes” The Pakistan Christian Post PCP will release contents of letter of Dr. Nazir S Bhatti to President Obama tomorrow.
http://www.thenews.com.pk/The Shura Ulema Mujahideen of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has issued a fatwa against what it declared as propaganda by many foreign and some Pakistani media outlets. It said instead of narrating facts, this media because of making propaganda has assumed the status of an agent of imperialist powers.In a 20-page edict, an attempt was made to prove by quoting Quranic verses, Ahadis and sayings of experts of Fiqh that during the war those indulging in propaganda despite warning are to be killed. Shura Ulema Mujahideen was asked in a questioner by TTP commander Ihsanullah Ihsan what is the status of that media which sides with Western and secular powers during the present war, dubs Mujahideen terrorists and enemy of peace, writes ‘killed’ for Taliban and ‘martyred’ for their opponents, considers defence of democracy as its policy, promotes obscenity and shamelessness, and calls itself as independent and impartial. In the edict, such media was declared as totally partial.
Security was tightened around the Federal Government Girls High School, R.A. Bazaar, after a threatening letter sent by the outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) warned that the institution should be closed otherwise it would be blown up. The one-page handwritten letter was found on the premises of the building by the school staff some time between October 10 and 11. Sources in the police said the letter contained some sayings about the respect and status of women in Islam and then addressed the administration of the school. “It is a message from Ameer Sahib Abdul Wali of TTP Mohmand Agency that the girls’ school should be closed. Thank God, we have been successful in every bomb attack and will be successful in future too. And we can carry out bomb attacks anytime...” The sources said after the threatening letter, police presence had been enhanced around the building during school timings. The chief executive of the cantonment board was also sent a letter to remove vendors and other encroachments around the school building located at Chungi No 22. All educational institutions in the city remained closed for about a week till October 20 for the Eidul Azha holidays. When contacted, a senior police officer confirmed that a letter had been found by the F.G. school staff before Eidul Azha. “Apparently, the letter written by TTP Mohmand Agency was thrown into the school compound and later found by the school staff,” the police sources said. The police officer, who requested anonymity, was reluctant to give details about the contents of the letter. He said the station commander and the chief executive of the cantonment board visited the school to inspect the security measures. When asked about the authenticity of the letter, the police officer said it was yet to be determined. However under the present situation, the letter could not be taken lightly. Security around the school has been enhanced for the safety of the students, he added. It may be recalled that on October 20, 2008, three simultaneous bomb threats to three schools in the garrison city forced the evacuation of hundreds of students. The first call was made to the administration of Faizul Islam High School at Raja Bazaar and the second to the F.G. High School Sarwar Road. However, both the calls turned out to be a hoax. The third bomb threat call was received by the management of the Punjab College in Commercial Market, Satellite Town. No explosive device was found on the premises of the school building by the bomb disposal experts. On October 17, 2008, the Federal Government High School on Abid Majeed Road was evacuated after a caller threatened the school administration that a bomb had been planted in the building. The police traced the caller who turned out to be a class- 10 student of a school in Lalazar. A senior police officer associated with intelligence added: “In the past, there had been no such threat to close any educational institution. However, some boy schools had received telephonic threats.” Meanwhile, the law enforcement agencies have been directed to beef up security around the residences of American nationals, restaurants and hotels being operated by foreign nationals as the TTP have planned to target them, sources in the law enforcement agencies said.
A bomb blast in Rawalpindi-bound Jaffar Express killed five and injured several other passengers, according to a report. More deaths are feared as many victims are critically injured. The blast took place in Dera Murad Jamali which severely damaged three coaches of the train. The police relief workers immediately reached the scene of the crime and removed the victims to the Civil Hospital. The Police have cordoned off the area and began collecting evidence from the scene of the blast. All the trains from Quetta have been stopped from leaving after the blast. Akbar Bugti Express and Bolan Express are among the train barred from leaving Quetta, it was learnt here. Few weeks back, a bomb exploded on a passenger train in central Pakistan, killing a toddler and wounding 13 others. The device on the Shalimar Express from the eastern city of Lahore to Karachi went off as it passed through fields near the town of Toba Tek Singh in Punjab province. Pakistan is battling a homegrown insurgency and faces near-daily bombings and shootings in the troubled northwest, but attacks on the railway are relatively rare. A bomb near the waiting lounge for the luxury Lahore-Karachi Business Express train last year killed two people.
http://mediacellppp.wordpress.com/Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Patron-In-Chief of Pakistan People’s Party paid a visit to the mausoleum of Abdullah Shah Ghazi in Karachi and laid floral wreath today evening. He prayed and offered Fateha at the mausoleum and paid glowing tributes to the Sufi saints of Sindh who spread Islam through love, peace, brotherhood and harmony teachings of the world’s fastest growing religion. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was accompanied by Syed Owais Muzaffar during the visit.
The Express TribuneThe incumbent Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Assembly has lost three people within five months, while a similar number of lawmakers were killed during five years of the previous assembly. The mounting number of incidents hints terrorism is growing in the wake of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led government’s relatively slower response to these attacks as compared to its predecessor, the Awami National Party (ANP). ANP stuck to its stance till the end and blamed militants for all terrorist attacks in the province. The present assembly first lost Farid Khan, who was gunned down by assailants on June 3 soon after he took oath as a lawmaker. Farid himself avoided holding the Taliban directly responsible for terrorism incidents. This was followed by Imran Mohmand, hailing from Mardan. Mohmand was killed in a suicide attack on June 18 along with 30 others. And most recently, on October 16, Israrullah Gandapur was killed in another such attack on his hujra in DI Khan, where he was meeting visitors on Eidul Azha. ANP parliamentary leader Sardar Hussain Babak ascribed these attacks to lack of ownership by the provincial government. He questioned the PTI’s strategy to deal with terror and said the issue has so far not appeared on their priority list. “They are just turning a blind eye to a reality that is blankly staring them in the face,” Babak said. The PTI’s attitude is like that of careless parents whose children eventually face problems, he added. “The government should come out of its imaginary world and take up its challenge. Other political parties and the nation will stand by them.” He asked the government to take a clear stand against militancy and said if even ministers are not safe, then one can only imagine the situation the general public faces. “The federal government should not be blamed for terrorism in the province as other provinces like Punjab have secured their people by taking responsibility for their area,” he added. In the previous provincial assembly, Alamzeb Khan from Peshawar was killed in an attack in February 2009 and Dr Shamsher Ali Khan from Swat was killed when a suicide bomber exploded in his hujra in December the same year. Mohammad Ali Khan was injured in an attack on Aftab Sherpao in March 2012 but he died later in November. The most high-profile victim was ANP’s Bashir Ahmad Bilour who was assassinated in a suicide attack on December 22.
THE stage is set this week for what is shaping up to be, by historical standards, a low-key meeting between a Pakistani prime minister and an American president. Prime Minister Sharif has made the obligatory statement about drones ahead of the visit, but has made it clear that he is not spoiling for a fight or a showdown. For its part, the Obama administration has indicated that monies owed to or aid meant to be delivered to Pakistan will be cleared in the months ahead – a boost to the federal government that is struggling on the fiscal front. In addition, a White House statement ahead of Prime Minister Sharif’s visit has given priority to economic issues rather than the more contested security ones. So all is well, then? The truth, as ever, is a fair bit more complicated than that. Economic issues are rightly being given importance but Pakistan’s problems are far deeper than any aid package or monetary assistance for military operations can help resolve. The Sharif government appears unwilling or unable to take the hard steps to structurally turn around the Pakistani economy, so what can an aid or trade partner — no matter how big — really achieve? On the security front, both sides appear to prefer to leave the principal issues left unsaid in public statement: a post-2014 Afghan settlement; the Sharif government’s bid for talks with the TTP; the internationalist jihadis in Fata and Pakistan proper; and non-violent extremism that creates an enabling environment for violent militancy. Mr Sharif has mentioned drones and his government’s desire to see drone strikes stopped, but that is a conversation unlikely to go very far. What, President Obama and his team will likely ask, is Pakistan doing about the very serious regional and international terrorist threat that lurks in Fata? And how exactly is Pakistan going to deal with the TTP threat, in the dialogue stage and later? Yet, that does not mean Pakistan does not have important questions of its own to ask. Is the White House any clearer about how to nudge the reconciliation process in Afghanistan forward? How will the highly disruptive and damaging cross-border movement — from both sides — along the Durand Line be managed as foreign forces pull out next year and then managed beyond that in 2014? On both sides then, the security-related questions that will likely be discussed aren’t just tough but also have no good answers. On the bright side, at least both sides are again talking to one another and not at each other.
The US has quietly approved $1.6 billion in military and economic aid to Pakistan, a signal that the relationship is being restored after a falling out over the operation that killed Osama Bin Laden, as well as America’s deadly drone strikes. The two countries have recently announced a restart of their strategic partnership after a long break. But despite Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s upcoming trip to Washington, the two are not displaying any public happiness at the prospect of cooperation: Pakistan is uncomfortable with its image of dependency on the US, while the latter would prefer not to be seen as too close to a government frequently accused of corruption by a substantial portion of its population. A number of crises have existed between the two: the 400 civilians killed by drone strikes in the last decade coupled with America’s failure to adequately inform Pakistan of its operations -including the one to capture Bin Laden. Or the two dozen Pakistanis killed by mistake in November 2011. The US State Derpartment’s deputy special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Dan Feldman, told the AP that "Pakistan's long-term stability is of critical national security interest to the US, so we remain committed to helping achieve a more secure, democratic and prosperous state, including through continued civilian and military assistance." But there is still no transparency in the relationship between the two. And with the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan coming up, questions remain as to who benefits most from this partnership. Anti-war activist with the international ANSWER coalition, Richard Becker, does not see the developments as surprising. He explains it as a multifaceted situation involving, on the one hand, the American desire to keep China, its adversary, in check; on the other – keep a foothold in the region by subsidizing a widely unpopular, but powerful, Pakistani military establishment. “We witnessed a charade in the US and Pakistan for many years, where the US carries out these blatant violations of international law… and the government pretends to object; the money keeps flowing and the charade keeps going on… [The] US views Pakistan as another asset in its strategy of surrounding China.” The sum to be donated kept changing as well. The State Department told Congress in late July that $295 million would be spent to assist Pakistan’s military. Twelve days later, the figure grew to 386 more million on top of that. And August 13 saw the arrival of two more notifications – worth $705 million, to help the country’s forces fight insurgents in western Pakistan. Secretary of State John Kerry’s August visit to Pakistan underlined the restart of a “strategic dialogue” between the two countries, with emphasis on both military matters and fostering investment. One of Pakistan’s biggest problems, aside from terrorism and corruption, is its chronic power shortages. A part of the investment is supposed to go toward studies leading up to the construction of a new dam, which, according to USAID, could provide 60 million people with electricity, as well as 1 million acres of crop land. But of the entire $1.6 billion, only $20 million will go toward those studies. The actual construction is projected to be a massive $15 billion. Pakistan still has not managed to secure construction money from the World Bank, while the Asian Development Bank is waiting for the US and India’s approval before it provides anything toward the dam’s construction – something Pakistan has heavily lobbied for. Neither the US, nor Pakistani officials at its Washington embassy have agreed to comment on the upcoming investment ahead of Sharif’s visit to the US. An atmosphere of secrecy continues as briefings concerning the money are mostly held behind closed doors. Therefore, according to Becker, it remains difficult to surmise who actually gets the money, where it goes once it arrives. “The political system in Pakistan in unsavory and it is an unsavory government, I believe, in Washington as well. And together they wanted to disguise what they are really doing, which is not in the interest of the people of Pakistan or Afghanistan or the US for that matter”, Becker believes. “But it is in the interest of empire and those who collaborate with the center of power in Washington.” Furthermore, Becker sees the relationship to be complicated by the widely criticized ties the Pakistani political establishment has with the very terrorist groups that Washington pledges to help it fight. “It is a complex relationship that is very un-transparent, which is designed to carry out the interests of Washington.”