Monday, November 18, 2013

Israel’s Mossad and Saudi Arabia Plan to Attack Iran

Israel’s Mossad, along with Saudi officials, is working on contingency plans that could include an attack on Iran if its nuclear program is not curbed enough during the negotiations in Geneva this week, a new report has revealed. Both powers have expressed concern that restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program will not be enough. According to The Sunday Times newspaper, Saudi Arabia already gave Israel the green light to use its airspace in the case of an attack on Iran. It was also revealed that the Saudis were willing to assist an Israeli attack by cooperating with the use of drones, rescue helicopters, and tanker planes. “Once the Geneva agreement is signed, the military option will be back on the table. The Saudis are furious and are willing to give Israel all the help it needs,”an unnamed diplomatic source told the paper. Tehran has been negotiating sanction relief in Geneva with the P5+1 countries – consisting of the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China – in exchange for assurances that it will not develop a nuclear weapon. Exact terms on offer from both sides have not been made public, but no agreement was made last weekend. The sides will sit down for a new round of talks on November 20. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that lifting sanctions on Iran without demanding sufficient concessions in return will only encourage Tehran on its path to nuclear armament and lead to future conflict. Israel has been lobbying hard against appeasement, with Netanyahu himself claiming that Iran is about to clinch “the deal of the century.” On Saturday, Netanyahu spoke to French daily Le Figaro about the situation, stating that Israel and the “leading states in the Arab world” agree when it comes to Tehran and its nuclear capabilities. “We all think that Iran should not be allowed to have the capacities to make nuclear weapons,” he said.“We all think that a tougher stance should be taken by the international community. We all believe that if Iran were to have nuclear weapons, this could lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, making the Middle East a nuclear tinderbox.” The prime minister’s comments were made just before French President Francois Hollande was scheduled to arrive in Israel for talks on Iran on Sunday. French objections reportedly caused an obstacle in the Iran talks last weekend. An attack would be an ‘economic catastrophe’ Iranian political analyst Seyed Mohammad Marandi told RT that an imminent joint attack on Iran was unlikely given the serious ramifications it could provoke for the region. “It is highly unlikely that the Saudis and Israelis would want to attack Iran because at the end of the day both countries would be losers, they would be seen as aggressors and obviously the Iranians would retaliate,” Marandi told RT. Although he consented that the Saudis and Israelis have been moving closer together lately, neither of them stood to gain from attacking Iran. “It would create an economic catastrophe for the world and only the Saudis and the Israelis would be to blame,” said Marandi.

Jews help Syria’s innocent victims in Bulgaria

Former pop musician Yank Barry is teaming up with celeb boxers, aiming to knock out hunger and homelessness among Syrian refugees, while Jewish group Shalom offers medical care
In escaping the horrors of the Syrian civil war, Hadirdrami Yantar hoped he would find solace in Bulgaria. Lured by dreams of a better life in a Western country, the 39-year-old Syrian and his family of four arrived in the town of Harmanli, only to be met by a harsh reality.Living as squatters in the makeshift trailer park that serves as a camp for new arrivals, Yantar’s family were forced to brave low winter temperatures with only outdoor fires to keep them warm. Unable to handle the growing number of refugees, the Bulgarian authorities are helpless to offer anything more than overcrowded camps in poor condition with little medical care or food. “We count on external assistance,” admitted Bulgarian Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski during a meeting with Jewish Canadian philanthropist, pop musician/jingle writer Yank Barry on November 13. Driven by personal ties to Bulgaria and his humanitarian mission, Barry is among the most recent contributors to join the relief effort to aid the Syrian refugees in Bulgaria, the European Union’s least wealthy member. Recently, Yantar, his wife and three children, moved to a private hotel. Their rent for the next six months is paid for by the Global Village Champions Foundation, co-founded by Barry and famous boxer Muhammad Ali, which is spending $1 million to help fund the housing of 50 refugees. Superstar boxer Evander Holyfield accompanied Barry on this recent trip.“I don’t know why I’m the one leaving the camp, but I have three children and my wife is pregnant. This is a chance for us,” Yantar told a local TV station after exiting Harmanli.
Bulgaria is now home to almost 10,000 refugees, 70 percent of whom are Syrian, according to latest data from the Interior Ministry. This may be a relatively small number within the overall Syrian humanitarian crisis, but it is triple the annual average the country used to receive. “When we set out for here we knew that the people and the police were good. But when we arrived we didn’t feel it. They don’t think we are people. Why are they accepting us?” a woman said to a local TV crew, complaining about the inhumane conditions. One of the main problems for the Syrian refugees in Bulgaria is finding a place to stay. The state offers only temporary lodgings in very modest conditions until the asylum procedure is completed. After that, the newcomers, often with little resources to support themselves, are on their own.But even if they have money, renting is a problem. “It is almost impossible to find accommodation. Owners refuse to have their property rented by refugees,” says Lydia Staykova, a Bulgarian volunteer, who is leading the relief efforts in the town of Haskovo. People who can no longer stay in the camps are those targeted by Barry’s charity campaign. “We also check their police records. We don’t want to get out somebody connected with al-Qaeda or Hezbollah! That won’t be good for anybody,” Barry told the Trud newspaper in an interview. The philanthropist says he identifies with the plight of Syrian refugees, who like Jews in the 1940s, became innocent victims. “They are people. They are good people. I will continue to do as much as I can to help,” says Barry, who also has a personal connection with Bulgaria: Two of his cousins escaped the Nazis in Belarus and found safe heaven in the Balkan country. It is a little known fact that despite being an ally of Hitler during World War II, Bulgaria saved tens of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust in a collective effort from the state, church and society.This year Jews in Bulgaria marked the 70th anniversary of their rescue. To commemorate the occasion and to honor the victims of the Holocaust, the Organization of Jews in Bulgaria, Shalom, started a campaign in August dubbed “Make good,” which offers free medical check-ups to people in need. Shalom has also discretely organized doctor visits for the Syrian refugees, most of whom are women and children. Teaming up with the Alexandrovska Hospital, Shalom is providing special prescription glasses for young Syrians and giving out sweet treats. The medical personnel, which includes two long time Syrian expats in Bulgaria, is touring the refugee camps on a weekly basis. The hospital is also providing two ambulances with special equipment. During one of the visits, two children were diagnosed with diabetes and special medication will be arranged. “In the beginning the conditions were awful. But now we see things are getting better – we have food. We really thank Bulgaria for what it does for us,” Rafa Ghanam, a Syrian refugee, told the TV station BNT. Back in the private hotel, rented in the outskirts of the capital city Sofia, several families are preparing for their new life. In addition to free food and accommodation, Global Village Champions Foundations is offering lessons in Bulgarian. One of the families, which has 17 members, was forced to live in a room designed to house only four. Their “rescue” was not planned, Barry says. “It was a spur of the moment decision. We were able to accommodate the family, and I decided to do it and I am so happy I did,” said Barry. “The kids had smiles on their faces. That was incredible.” Little did Barry know, but the family of 17 are the relatives of Ali, who gained some fame in the Bulgarian media after being stabbed in the back by an alleged skinhead on November 4. The incident was triggered by a hit and run attack on a 20-year old Bulgarian shop clerk by an Algerian boy, which led to a wave of anti-immigrant violence across the country. Ali is still in the hospital and awaits to join his family in the hotel provided by Barry.“The difference between here and the camps is like heaven and hell,” a female relative of Ali told a local TV news crew. And soon more Jews could be joining the effort to handle the refugee wave in Bulgaria: The Mossad, Israeli national intelligence agency, will be helping Bulgarian authorities in identifying potential threats among the refugees, Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev said in a statement after meeting Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Israel last week. Barry, who has relocated several dozen Syrians in Bulgaria, promises he will continue his charity campaign next time he returns to the country. “I will rent three or four more hotels, until I run out of money, if needed,” Barry said while leaving the Harmanli camp. “For me life is mitzva – a good deed in the name of God,” the Jewish philantropist told BNT television.

US-Afghan security pact collapsing after Karzai refusal

A pact between the United States and Afghanistan to keep American troops inside the country is in danger of falling apart.
According to a report by Reuters, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has rejected a provision in the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) that would grant the United States authority to unilaterally carry out military operations within the country, including the search of civilian homes.
Since these raids have sometimes resulted in the death of civilians, Karzai has opposed allowing them to continue under a new BSA. One Afghan official with knowledge of the negotiations told Reuters that on this issue, “there is no flexibility.” For its part, the United States says it wants the ability to raid Afghan homes in order to continue operations targeting Al Qaeda and other anti-government forces. On Thursday, Afghanistan’s loya jirga – a national gathering of thousands of political and tribal leaders from around the country – is scheduled to convene and debate the terms of the BSA. If the two sides fail to reach an agreement, the United States says it could pull all of its remaining troops out of the country by the end of 2014. "They want a window left open to go into Afghan homes, but the president does not accept that - not unilaterally and not joint," an Afghan official told Reuters, indicating that even raids operated by both U.S. and Afghan forces in tandem are out of the question. In addition to this search-and-enter issue, the United States wants American military personnel to be granted immunity from Afghan law during their stay in the country. This request is also opposed by Karzai. Two years ago in Iraq, the United States similarly required immunity from local law in exchange for its troops to remain and continue assisting local security forces. The Iraqis refused to grant this protection, and the U.S. subsequently removed its troops from the country. Neither the U.S. embassy nor NATO headquarters in Kabul would comment on the state of negotiations, but one unnamed Western diplomat told Reuters, "It's a very tense time.” If there’s no agreement between Karzai and the West by Thursday, the Afghan president is expected to address the loya jirga and say he does not support the provision that allows the U.S. to raid Afghan homes. Such a move could endanger the entire agreement. "If the jirga becomes about that one article then it risks seeing the entire document rejected," the Afghan official said. U.S. and NATO officials are expected to continue meeting with Karzai, though a resolution to the issue isn’t expected. With the Afghan presidential elections gearing up for next year, the U.S. thinks now is the best time for a new pact to be authorized.

Bilawal Bhutto urges crackdown against hate-mongers
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Patron-In-Chief, Pakistan Peoples Party has asked the government to launch a crackdown against the hate-mongering elements and invoke the concerned laws to curb hate speeches, hate crimes and incitement to violence before the violence spreads in more parts of the country. Condemning the violence in Kohat and elsewhere, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari further stated that hate-mongers have started operations to sow the seeds of hatred and fuel the fire thus every citizen of Pakistan should play their role and defeat the followers of Goebbels in sectarian colors. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said, “If hate-speech, hate crimes and incitement to violence laws were not implemented across the board, the authorities will be held responsible for the spread of violence.” PPP Patron-In-Chief said extremists want us to fight against ourselves and the spate of current infighting seems taking shape of what exactly the extremists want. They want to divide us and hate each other but we won’t let them succeed, he pledged. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said, “my Prime Minister should do what he was elected to do. He should return to the country and lead the nation with a strong message of unity. Opposition will support him.”

Paranoia from Soviet Union collapse haunts China's Communist Party, 22 years on
In the heyday of Sino-Soviet socialist brotherhood in the 1950s, Chinese liked to say that “today’s Soviet Union is tomorrow’s China”, as Beijing faithfully followed Moscow’s every footstep in development. But since the collapse of communist rule and the Soviet Union in early 1990s, the old saying has become an evil omen haunting China’s communist leaders. And there are renewed shudders among the Beijing leadership following a warning from President Xi Jinping calling for the need to pay greater attention to the dramatic events in Moscow more than two decades ago. Significantly, officials ranging from top central government ministers to heads of grassroots party organs have been called on to watch a four-part DVD documentary about the historic events. The video, In Memory of the Collapse of the Communist Party and the Soviet Union, is jointly produced by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and its affiliated Research Centre of World Socialism. It tells the story on how a once great power stumbled to become a second- or third-class nation. The video blames Mikhail Gorbachev’s radical moves to introduce Western-style democratic reform and to relax the party’s monopoly control of ideology and also Boris Yeltsin’s rush to privatise state-owned enterprises as the main reasons behind the collapse of Communist rule and the dismantling of the Soviet empire. Another new video co-produced by the National Defence University that was leaked late last month tells how the West, the United States in particular, has schemed for a Soviet-style collapse in China. Entitled The Silent Contest, the 100-minute video begins with a lament for the end of the Soviet Union, and proceeds through recent history to show the supposedly evil motives behind America’s relations with China and other communist countries. General Liu Yazhou, political commissar of the military institution and son-in-law of former president Li Xiannian, produced the work.Analysts pointed out that the renewed fear of a Soviet-style nightmare in China might reflect the leadership’s anxiety over slowing economic growth, rising social tensions and growing calls for political reform following the leadership transition last November. They said that whether the new generation of Chinese leaders will pursue reform in the next few years lies in how they interpret the Soviet collapse. Xi, the party’s general secretary, appears more fascinated by the ideological aspects of the Soviet downfall than his predecessors. In an internal speech early this year, Xi told party officials that China must still heed the “deeply profound” lessons of the former Soviet Union, where political rot, ideological heresy and military disloyalty brought down the governing party. “Why did the Soviet Union disintegrate? Why did the Soviet Communist Party collapse?” Xi asked, according to a summary of his comments that has circulated among officials, but has not been published by the state-run news media. “An important reason was that their ideals and convictions wavered,” he said. The mainland’s propaganda machines have responded to Xi’s call, publishing more articles warning about the possibility of a Soviet-style collapse in the last major communist-ruled state. Steve Tsang, director of the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham, said Xi was clearly setting out his “policy line”, which is to strengthen the party’s capacity and determination to adhere closely tight to the existing system, and resist any demand for democratisation or constitutional rule as understood in the West. “The sense of crisis has been reintroduced to warn the rest of the party not to be complacent and to embrace changes that he is introducing,” he said. Kerry Brown, executive director of the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, said that although Chinese think tanks had expended huge effort and time on trying to understand why communism in the Soviet Union failed, there remains a lack of consensus over the cause. Was the most critical issue a lack of economic reform, over-hasty political reform, issues intrinsic to the structure and culture of power within the USSR, or the failure to reach consensus within the leadership? “The one point upon which most Chinese intellectuals, politicians and officials seem to agree is that, contrary to mainstream opinion in the West, the collapse was not a good thing and the results were to cost Russia and the states created out of the ruins of the USSR dearly,” Brown said. He said that one of the great paradoxes of our time was that the world’s second-biggest, and most dynamic, economy happens in name at least to be governed by a system that was written off two decades ago. “This is no cause for celebration in China however,” Brown said. Xiaoyu Pu, a professor of political science at the University of Nevada, said that while the Communist Party had maintained its legitimacy through economic performance and nationalist mobilisation, it faces many challenges. Thus, the primary security concern of the party leaders is not national security, but regime security. “For the CCP, the collapse of the Soviet Union has always been regarded as a ‘negative example’,” Pu said. “The party has put a lot of energy and resources into examining what lessons the CCP could learn from the collapse of the Soviet Union.” However, Pu said the implications of the documentary programmes should not be over-estimated as they “might reflect the voice of the leftist and conservative faction within the party” “It is hard to say the programmes reflect the consensus of the CCP leadership,” he said. Tsang noted that the USSR lasted 69 years and the People’s Republic of China had now been in existence for 64 years. In other words, the Chinese Communist Party could surpass the Soviet Communist Party during Xi’s tenure. Xi has every intention to ensure the People’s Republic will outlast the USSR and thus has every reason to get the Communist Party to re-learn the lessons of why their comrades failed.

Amnesty slams Qatar migrant worker exploitation

Construction companies in Qatar, which is experiencing a massive building boom ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, are involved in widespread abuse of migrant workers, according to Amnesty International.Qatar’s construction sector is rife with unacceptable working conditions for migrant labourers, according to a report released by Amnesty International on Sunday. The report, titled “The dark side of migration: Spotlight on Qatar’s construction sector ahead of the World Cup”, details widespread abuse of migrant workers that the international human rights organisation claims often amounts to forced labour. “We have met workers that have been unpaid for many, many months, up to nine months or a year in Qatar,” said James Lynch, Amnesty International’s researcher on migrant workers in the Gulf, in a film accompanying the report. “Then they can’t leave the country because their employer won’t return their passports, won’t give them an exit permit, which is required under Qatari law, won’t buy them tickets,” he added. These factors combined, he said, meant life in Qatar for many migrant workers was “deeply traumatic”. Preparing for the 2022 FIFA World Cup The report is published as the Gulf Emirate experiences a massive construction boom ahead of hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup. According to Amnesty International, there are now around 1.35 million foreign nationals – mostly from Asian countries including Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines and Sri Lanka – working in Qatar, making up some 94 percent of the total workforce. Nepalese workers employed by a supplier to build the FIFA headquarters in Doha told the NGO they were being “treated like cattle”, with employees working up to 12 hours a day, seven days a week in Qatar’s searingly hot summer months. “Please tell me - is there any way to get out of here? ... We are going totally mad,” said one Nepalese construction worker, who had not been paid in seven months and prevented from leaving Qatar for three months. Amnesty researchers said they had witnessed 11 men sign papers to declare falsely that they had been paid their wages simply to get their passports back so that they could leave the country. Qatar must ‘seize the opportunity’ “It is simply inexcusable in one of the richest countries in the world, that so many migrant workers are being ruthlessly exploited, deprived of their pay and left struggling to survive,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International. The human rights group has called on the Qatari government to “seize the opportunity” to set an example on the protection of migrant workers’ rights. The organisation has also called on FIFA to work with the Qatari authorities to prevent abuses. “FIFA has a duty to send a strong public message that it will not tolerate human rights abuses on construction projects related to the World Cup,” said Shetty. “But unless critical, far-reaching steps are taken immediately, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who will be recruited in the coming years to deliver Qatar’s vision face a high risk of being abused,” he concluded.

The bloody disaster of Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan is laid bare

Bombs and militia violence make clear the folly of Britain's wars – the removal of law and order from a nation is devastating
Forty-three people died on Friday in clashes between militias in Libya, as did 22 on Sunday from bombs in Iraq. In Helmand, a return of the Taliban to power is now confidently expected. Why should we care? Why should it feature on our news? The answer is that we helped to bring it about. Britain's three foreign wars in the past decade were uninvited military interventions to topple installed governments. All have ended in disaster. In each case – Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan – it was easy to see evil in the prevailing regime. These are bad guys that we need to go after, said the Americans. Yet the removal of law and order from a nation is devastating, however cruel that order may have been. Iraqis today repeat that, whatever the ills of Saddam Hussein, under his rule most ordinary citizens and their families could walk the streets at night without fear of murder or kidnap. Religious differences were tolerated. Iraq should have been an oil-rich modern state. Even the Kurds, scourged by Saddam in the past, enjoyed autonomy and relative peace. In each of these cases Britain and its allies, chiefly America, intervened to overthrow the army, disband government, dismantle the judiciary and leave militias to run riot. Little or no attempt was made to replace anarchy with a new order. "Nation building" was a fiasco. The British bombs that flattened government buildings in Kabul, Baghdad and Tripoli did not replace them, or those who worked in them. Those who dropped them congratulated themselves on their work and went home. It is hard to exaggerate the misery and chaos created by so-called "liberal interventionism". It is hard to think of a more immoral foreign policy, roaming the (chiefly Muslim) world, killing people and sowing anarchy. That is why the blood-stained consequence should be splashed across headlines. Those who seek political kudos by visiting violence on foreign peoples should never be allowed to forget their deeds.

Sectarian violence spreads in Pakistan after days of unrest

Sectarian violence spread in Pakistan on Monday after clashes between minority Shi'ite and majority Sunni Muslims near the capital Islamabad prompted the government to impose a curfew and block mobile phone services over the weekend. Clashes confined to areas in and around the capital at the weekend spilled over on Monday into two towns in the volatile northwest. Tensions are high this month as Shi'ites mark Muharram, an annual period of mourning which has often sparked bouts of violence. Rawalpindi, a garrison city near Islamabad, remained under curfew and tight security for three days after a Shi'ite procession on Friday degenerated into sectarian clashes which killed at least eight people. On Monday, a mob set shops on fire in a predominantly Shi'ite district in the northwestern town of Kohat in clashes that killed a policeman and a civilian, police said. Tensions were high in the northwestern city of Hangu, also subject to a curfew, local media reported. During Muharram, a period of mourning to mark the death of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, Shi'ites hold long processions where they flagellate, beat or cut themselves to show their grief. The authorities imposed a mobile phone blackout on Rawalpindi, the seat of the Pakistani army, and parts of Islamabad over the weekend. The curfew was lifted only on Monday, but the city remained tense. Attacks on Pakistan's Shi'ites, who make up about a fifth of the 180 million population, have worsened in recent years. Most of the attacks are the work of Sunni extremists affiliated with banned groups, such as the Taliban or Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which wants to drive all Shi'ites out of Pakistan. Hundreds of Shi'ites were killed in bombings and other attacks last year, including children gunned down on their way to school and doctors heading for work.

Deadly sectarian unrest hits Pakistan

At least three people have been killed after renewed sectarian clashes in northern Pakistan, with the army being called in to establish control over the affected areas, officials say. The violence centred on the city of Kohat, where members of the Sunni Muslim armed group Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat held a rally on Monday to protest against the earlier killing of several Sunnis in Rawalpindi. The deaths occured after firing by unidentified assailants near a Shia Muslim mosque in the city, which is located in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. "The activists were rallying against the Rawalpindi violence when unidentified gunmen opened fire on the procession from near a Shia mosque in the area, killing two people," Saleem Khan Marwat, district police chief, told the AFP news agency. Pakistani media, quoting local police station chief Mazhar Jaan, said that the death toll was three, including two policemen. That toll was confirmed by Fazal Naeem Khan, a local police official. Jaan said that there had been an exchange of fire between the two sides. Marwat indicated that the ASWJ activists had been fired upon, before retaliating with their own gunfire. Police and army troops later cordoned off the area and ordered markets to be closed. Troops were also called into the nearby city of Hangu, where tensions between Shia and Sunni Muslims were also high. Friday's violence in Rawalpindi erupted when a procession of Shia Muslims marking the most important day of the mourning month of Muharram coincided with a sermon at a nearby Sunni mosque. That violence resulted in nine deaths, and the imposition of a curfew in Rawalpindi, a twin city of the capital Islamabad, that was only lifted on Monday morning. A ban on gatherings of more than five people remains in force. Troops were also deployed in Rawalpindi as well as in the southern Punjab city of Multan to keep the peace on Monday. Pakistan is facing rising sectarian violence, with armed Sunni groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan often attacking gatherings of Shias, who make up some 20 percent of the country's overwhelmingly Muslim population.

Pakistan Imposes New Curfews After Sectarian Clash

Authorities imposed curfews and deployed troops in two different areas of northwest Pakistan on Monday after three people were killed during a sectarian clash, police said. The violence occurred in Kohat city, where members of a hard-line Sunni Muslim group, Ahle Sunnat Waljamaat, were holding a rally to protest a sectarian clash in Rawalpindi city on Friday that killed 10 people, including at least eight Sunnis, said police officer Fazal Naeem Khan. Shooting broke out during Monday's rally, killing three people, including a policeman and two civilians, said Khan. It was unclear if the civilians who were killed were members of Ahle Sunnat Waljamaat. The Sunnis then clashed with police and Shiites, and several shops were set on fire, Khan said. Authorities responded by deploying troops and imposing a curfew in Kohat district and neighboring Hangu district, Khan said. The development came shortly after officials on Monday lifted a curfew in Rawalpindi that had been imposed after the clashes there on Friday, said police officer Mohammad Amir. Army troops will continue to patrol the city for several more days, and there is still a ban on more than four people assembling in one place, said Amir. The sectarian clash in Rawalpindi occurred when hundreds of Shiites were holding a procession to mark Ashoura, one of the sect's most important religious occasions. The Shiites clashed with members of an Islamic seminary affiliated with Ahle Sunnat Waljamaat. Ten people were killed in the clash and 56 were wounded, said the Rana Sanaullah, the law minister for Punjab province, where Rawalpindi is located. At least eight of the dead were Sunni Muslims. The identities of the other two were not made clear. Outbursts of sectarian violence occur regularly in Pakistan. Hard-liners from the Sunni majority who consider Shiites to be heretics have targeted the sect with bombs and shootings, with Shiite attacks on Sunnis less common, at least in recent years.

Yazidi terrorists attack Shia mosque, Imam Bargah & Market in Kohat
Yazidi nasbi takfiri terrorists of outlawed Sipah-e-Sahaba attacked Shia mosque, Imam Bargah and a commercial market in Kohat of Khyber-Pukhtoonkhwa province on Monday. A police cop was martyred and several others were hurt in the terrorists’ attacks. Shiite News Correspondent reported that the armed terrorists attacked Imam Bargah Syed Habib where one police cop was martyred and three were hurt. In Teera Bazar, they put a market owned by Shiites, on fire. The terrorists also attacked a Shia mosque in Kohat and latest reports had it that they were harassing people by sporadic firing despite imposition of curfew. Tension also prevailed in Hangu where rockets were fired by the Yazidi terrorists on the day of Ashura with intention to sabotage peaceful observance of Ashura. Curfew was imposed in Hangu also.

Curfew imposed in Kohat after two killed by gunmen

The Express Tribune
A curfew was imposed in Kohat and Hangu after unidentified gunmen killed two people, including a police official, Express News reported on Monday. The curfew was later lifted in Hangu after situation returned to normalcy. The shooting happened in the city of Kohat while activists from the Sunni organisation Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamat (ASWJ) were demonstrating against Friday’s violence in Rawalpindi which left nine people dead. “The activists were rallying against the Rawalpindi violence when unidentified gunmen opened fire on the procession from near a mosque in the area, killing two people,” district police chief Saleem Khan Marwat told AFP. Another local police official, Tanweer Ahmad, confirmed the incident. Marwat said the ASWJ activists retaliated by firing bullets in the air, which sparked tension in the area. Some shops were set on fire in a market near Shah Faisal gate. Police and the army cordoned off the area and ordered markets closed. A search operation is underway.

Former president Zardari condemns violence in Rawalpindi

Former president Asif Ali Zardari has condemned the clashes in Rawalpindi on the eve of Ashura on Friday that left 10 killed and injured scores of others, and called it as barbaric and inhuman that had nothing to do with religion but was aimed at fanning sectarianism to harm the country and its people. The former president said that no words were strong enough to condemn the senseless killing and wounding of innocent people. He said he was shocked and grieved over the loss of so many lives and injuries to many others and prayed for those who lost their lives and early recovery to those injured. Zardari cautioned the people against those who were bent upon destroying peace and tranquillity of the state and society in the name of religion to achieve their nefarious agenda. “We must be conscious against the machinations of the enemies of our society who by perpetrating such acts wanted to provoke reprisals and retaliation from the aggrieved persons to further fuel the fire,” he said.

Protestors force closure of several markets in Rawalpindi

Protestors shut several markets here on Monday after the curfew imposed following clashes during an Asuhra procession in the city. Protestors demonstrated against the Rawalpindi tragedy and forced the closure of shops in Raja Bazaar, Bara Market, Sabzi Mandi, Urdu Bazaar and other markets of the city. Earlier on Monday, authorities lifted the curfew which was imposed in the city on Friday. The city administration said that section 144 would remain imposed in the city, while the army would remain on standby. At least ten people were killed following clashes during the Ashura procession in the city. According to Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, all facts regarding the tragedy would be made public and the culprits would be brought to justice.

Pakistan: Cracks in the reactionary monolith

Lal Khan
The masses know, consciously or unconsciously, that Islamic fundamentalism and US imperialism are two sides of the same coin The statement of Munawar Hasan, chief of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) on martyrdom and the fierce reaction by the Pakistan army reveals nothing but the rottenness of the Pakistani ruling class, its state and politics. The army quickly demanded an apology and the JI’s subsequent response of “intervention in politics” by the army is quite sardonic. Historically, the JI is known as the most organised Islamic party, having close ties with the Pakistani state and US imperialism. In the decades of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, the JI was active as a vicious representative of the domestic and international right wing. Its student wing, the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, has always been used as a tool by the state and imperialism against left wing student organisations. After the victory of Gamal Abdul Nasser in the 1956 Suez war against Britain, France and Israel, the slogan of Arab Socialism was echoing in one country after another in the Middle East. Like the Arab Revolution of 2011, a revolutionary wave swept across the whole region in the 1950s and 1960s, sweeping aside old puppets of imperialism and replacing them with left-leaning parties and leaders in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Algeria and other Arab countries. These left wing governments under enormous pressure of the masses embarked on a process of large-scale nationalisation. This endangered imperialist interests in the Middle East, while the reactionary monarchies were trembling. To stem this revolutionary fervour against capitalism, the CIA started propping up Islamic fundamentalism. From Indonesia to Egypt, Islamic fundamentalist parties were strengthened as a counter-revolutionary force through financial and political support. The real creator of this Islamic fundamentalism was the US president Dwight Eisenhower’s secretary of state, John Foster Dulles. Dulles himself was a Christian fundamentalist and pathologically detested communism. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Nahdat-ul-Ulema (which played a key role in killing over a million communists and trade unionists in 1965) in Indonesia were contraptions of this reactionary onslaught. In Pakistan, the JI was the centre of this imperialist policy. This explains why it remained hand in glove with military dictatorships. The 1968-69 revolutionary movement of the masses in Pakistan swept across both wings of the country. But after the abdication of the movement by Maulana Bhashani and other left wing leaders, this class movement was derailed on nationalist lines and was ensnared by Mujibur Rehman’s Awami League. In the civil war that followed, the atrocities and massacres of the Bengali masses committed by the Pakistan army in connivance with the vigilantes of the JI in the shape of its armed wings — Al Badar and Al Shams — were carried out with vicious brutalities against innocent people. The deep involvement of the JI in this ‘Operation Blitz’ is revealed in the book, The Indo-Pak War by Major General Hakeem Arshad Qureshi, who was a battalion commander in the Dinapur district of East Pakistan during the operation. He narrates: “Maulana Tufail Mohammad (Amir) of the Jamaat-e-Islami visited us after the military action...The Maulana was particularly concerned about the performance of the ‘razakaars’ (volunteers) belonging to his party... He jokingly remarked that his party cadres had always come to the rescue of the Army in tough situations.” The first Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government embarked upon a welfare programme for the masses and reforms were introduced in health, education, transport and other sectors through massive nationalisation. The JI came out against these reforms and supported the feudals and capitalists against the PPP. The JI had the full backing of US imperialism. The JI spearheaded the Pakistan National Alliance movement against Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, which led to the military coup and hanging of Bhutto. This was organised on a religious basis and was actively supported by the Pakistani ruling classes and US imperialism. They not only supported the vicious dictatorship of Ziaul Haq but also played like a B-team of that brutal dictator. During this dark period of history, the military used the JI and its vigilantes in intimidating, arresting and torturing political activists. The Saur Revolution of April 27, 1978 in Afghanistan (18 months before the invasion of the Soviet forces) under the leadership of Noor Muhammad Tarakai of the Khalq Party threatened the interests of landlords, capitalists and imperialists in the whole region. To sabotage this revolutionary government in Kabul, which was making huge efforts for the downtrodden masses, the CIA initiated the ‘Dollar Jihad’, flooding the area with dollars managed by the ISI and distributed through the JI to its sister organisation Hizb-e-Islami led by Gulbadin Hikmetyar. But when huge sums of money started pouring in for this “Jihad” through smuggling of narcotics, many other obscurantist sects and organisations jumped on the bandwagon for this loot. The clergy became rich overnight and were riding SUVs instead of bicycles. With the withdrawal of the Soviet forces, imperialist funding suddenly came to an end. That was replaced by the multibillion dollar business of smuggling narcotics and arms, resulting in many of these groups not only turning against US imperialism but also against each other. Zia’s generals were deeply involved in that criminal business network, but the proxies fragmented and clashed in the lust for a greater share of black money. The JI remained and still is an integral part of this harrowing orgy of bloodshed and terror. The JI’s frustration with the US is in part due to dollar supplies drying up and in part due to the contradiction of the pro-US and anti-US factions of the Pakistani state, particularly within the military. In the absence of mass left wing forces, religious parties are struggling among themselves to exploit the anti-imperialist sentiments of the people. In this cutthroat competition, vitriolic statements like Munawar Hasan’s are a part of that process. To recapture the intoxication of potent power enjoyed with the patronage of imperialism and the Pakistani army, the JI, a party that always remained a fifth column of the army, has come out in open conflict with an important faction of the army. However, the support of the JI and other religious parties among the masses is very fragile and limited. The masses know, consciously or unconsciously, that Islamic fundamentalism and US imperialism are two sides of the same coin. The JI is doomed either way. If it withdraws its statement it will face the wrath of religious extremists, and if it does not it will face the severe displeasure of the generals. Religious parties and US imperialism, the liberal and secular rulers are all on board on the preservation of this capitalist system because their vested interests rest in it. These conflicts are temporary and superficial. The JI and army cannot do without each other. Let us not be in any doubt; as in the past, these forces of dark reaction will unite to save this system in the wake of a rising revolutionary movement of the oppressed. The working classes will have to unite to dislodge this reactionary monolith for its emancipation and should ignore this pseudo-wrangling.

Pakistan: Looming sectarian threat

While the country by and large saw off Ashura peacefully, the sectarian violence in Rawalpindi has caused not only 10 deaths, injuries to 68 and the gutting of some 100 cloth shops, it has also evoked an outbreak of sectarian clashes in Multan and Chishtian. The spread of sectarian violence beyond Rawalpindi, despite the authorities’ strong response and deployment of the army to scotch the trouble, leaves no room for complacency. If not nipped in the bud, the rising sectarian sentiment could enfold larger parts of the country, bringing freash headaches for the authorities. There can therefore be no dithering in taking the necessary timely actions to put the lid on the rising tensions between different sects. The Rawalpindi incident has reaffirmed the long standing plea of the secular-liberal forces of the country that hate speeches delivered from the pulpit need to be stopped. We have become so complacent about such flaws in our society that when Maulvi Shakir was spewing hatred against Shias in the Friday sermon from Maulvi Ghulamullah Wali Masjid, none of the police manning the mourning procession were spurred into action. Nor did the police use the power vested in it by law under the City District Government Rawalpindi that forbids mosques to use loudspeakers on Fridays other than for prayer calls. The police’s indifference on such a sensitive occasion, especially when the main Ashura procession route had been declared highly fraught under the Muharram security plan, resulted in the clash that destroyed lives and property. The city administration also failed at ensuring the presence of peace committees comprising scholars from different schools of thought to accompany the Ashura procession and ensure peace. Such failures show the shallowness of our understanding of the sectarian malice that by now has dug deep roots in our society. The police even remained oblivious of the presence of some prominent leaders of the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan inside the mosque in question and its adjacent Taleemul Quran madrassa. The intelligence report submitted to the Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif has blamed the local administration and its law enforcement agencies. Eventually heavy deployment of the army, a curfew and Section 144 was imposed on Friday night to bring the situation under control. The curfew will remain imposed for another 24 hours although brief relaxations have been allowed to facilitate the citizens of the city. The encouraging thing that has come out of this conflagration is the rallying of the ulema behind the government and their demand to make an example of the miscreants involved in the incident so that such incidents are prevented from recurring. On the request of the Punjab government, the Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court has constituted a judicial commission headed by Justice Mamoon Rashid Sheikh. In a few days, all other things being equal, things may revert to normal. The bitterness, however, among religious activists of different denominations may not subside and could reappear at another place and time. Unless a sustainable and consistent solution to the problem is found through a combination of regulations, dialogue and deterrent punishments, the monster of sectarian violence will be hard to tame. The fusion of sectarian violence and terrorism could mean many more years to prevail over the menace, something the country cannot afford. The state and the people must unite to nip the evil in the bud. There is no time to lose if we draw the correct conclusions from the Rawalpindi incident.

Sindh CM condemns Rawalpindi incident
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has strongly condemned Rawalpindi tragedy, which took place on the eve of Ashura procession. In a statement issued on Sunday, the Sindh CM said that the elements involved in the incident are the enemy of the people. The Sindh CM expressed deep grief over the incident and condoled with the families of the victims. He appealed to the ulema to play their role for promotion of inter-faith harmony. The Sindh CM also called upon the people to remain peaceful and united to foil the conspiracy of anti-Islam and anti-state elements.