Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pashto New Song - Naghma Jan - Der Me Yadigi Khost


Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Gloria Steinem receive Medal of Freedom

Former President Bill Clinton, media mogul Oprah Winfrey and feminist pioneer Gloria Steinem were among those honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House.

Pakistani Taliban blamed for international spread of polio virus
Pakistani militants' hard-line stance against vaccine has allowed the virus to migrate to Syria and could bring polio back to other places that had eradicated the disease.
Pakistani militants are being linked to polio's reappearance in Syria.
Syria, which had been polio-free since 1999, has a reported 13 polio cases so far this year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said in a November 12 statement. Genetic sequencing has shown that the strain of virus found in Deir al-Zor Province, Syria, originated from Pakistan. The reasons for blaming the militants are two-fold. First, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has been doing everything it can – from attacking and sometimes killing vaccination team members, or threatening parents and their children – to stop Pakistanis in the tribal region from getting the oral polio vaccine (OPV). That campaign has left 1m FATA children vulnerable to the disease, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) Polio Officer Dr. Muhammand Shoiab said. "Taliban militants are responsible for crippling 43 children in FATA in 2013 and are likely responsible for infecting children in foreign countries" now that the strain has gone beyond Pakistan’s borders, Shoiab said, adding that the 43 FATA children could all have been saved had they been vaccinated. Second, militants who receive training in Pakistan can pick up the virus and carry it wherever they go afterward. "Militants have a history of transporting virus to foreign countries," Dr. Mushtaq Khan of Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif's Polio Cell said. "The virus often infects children under 5 years old, but it can stay in faecal matter of adults, and then [flies can transmit the virus] to children." "So the argument by the Syrian government blaming the virus transmission on the militants who allegedly went from Pakistan to fight alongside rebels isn't misplaced," Mushtaq said, referring to comments by Syrian Minister of Social Affairs Kindah al-Shammat, who in media reports has blamed jihadists for bringing the virus into Syria.
TTP allows polio virus to survive
TTP militants have a long history of hampering Pakistan's anti-polio efforts, saying the vaccine is a Western ploy to keep the Muslim population from growing because, the TTP says, the OPV can sterilise those who receive it. In the past year or so, the Taliban have increased efforts to stop the administration of the vaccine, assassinating 30 health workers and policemen who were guarding vaccination teams in KP and Karachi since December 2012. The government has urged the Taliban to end their attacks against vaccinators and to stop terrorising the public and endangering children who go unvaccinated, but they have not relented, WHO Emergency Co-ordinator for Polio Eradication in Pakistan Dr. Elias Durry said. Although the Taliban's opposition to the OPV violates the tenets of Islam, convincing the public to defy the violent militants is difficult, religious scholar Mufti Inamullah Shah told Central Asia Online. "According to Islamic injunctions, we are bound to safeguard our children against diseases," he said. "All parents want to protect their children against disabilities, but they are afraid of the Taliban." Because of the TTP's fierce opposition to the OPV, Pakistan is one of only three countries where polio is still endemic. The other two countries are Nigeria (with 51 reported cases this year) and Afghanistan (9). Pakistan has reported 62 cases this year, already surpassing the total for all of 2012.
Ramifications of polio in Syria
With polio's reappearance in Syria, WHO fears the malady could spread across the Middle East. Medics detected a virus, closely linked to the one in Syria, in Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian territories over the past year, it said. In response, the group has stepped up efforts to respond should the virus appear elsewhere. Vaccination campaigns are planned to cover 22m children in seven countries and territories, AFP reported earlier in November. Children in impoverished or war-torn areas, such as FATA and Syria, are especially vulnerable to contracting polio, Durry said. "The role of a few endemic countries in reinfection is dangerous," he said, adding that no country is safe as long as the virus circulates somewhere in the world.
Pakistan is working to contain further spread of the virus.
"We are taking measures to prevent the virus from being transmitted outside our borders," Mushtaq said, noting that the government has instructed provincial governments to set up permanent vaccination counters at airports' international departure lounges to vaccinate everybody against the virus.

Pakistan Shia Genocide: Khanum Tayyaba Bukhari escapes unhurt in Yazidi terrorists attack
Eminent female Shia scholar and head of Bokhari Relief Foundation has narrowly escaped being target of Shia Genocide in Multan on Wednesday. Shiite News Correspondent reported here that she came under attack by Yazidi nasbi takfiri terrorists of outlawed Sipah-e-Sahaba (renamed now Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat) but she escaped unhurt. Khanum Syeda Tayyaba Bukhari is a prominent highly educated religious scholar, well versed in the Holy Qur’an, Hadith, Islamic Jurisprudence and Islamic History having spent around 15 years, from 1984 – 1998, gaining specialist education in these subjects. Her education began at the age of 9 in Qom, the educational capital of Iran. Madam Bukhari is an eloquent and talented speaker fluent in six languages; Urdu, Arabic, Persian, English, Punjabi and Siraiki and makes regular appearances before both live audiences and the camera for recorded and also live broadcasts on a variety of different international television channels.

Two dead, six injured in Quetta blasts

Three powerful coordinated blasts rocked Quetta, the capital of militancy-hit Balochistan province on Wednesday night, police said. Two people were killed and six others injured in three blasts on Sirki Road and Moti Ram Road area of Quetta. Muhammad Ismail, a police official told that a bomb planted by militants in a drain on Moti Ram killed one person and injured another four. "The bomb went off with big bang at Moti Ram road when people were coming out of the nearby mosque," he said. One person identified as Shah Jehan was killed in the blast. The injured were soon rushed to nearby civil hospital for medical treatment. In another incident, militants hurled a bomb at an official building on Sirki Road area of Quetta. The blast was followed by another one soon after. Police said the third bomb, planted by militants in a rickshaw, went off when people gathered in the aftermath of the first blast. Police said three people sustained injuries in the second blast. Coordinated blasts on Sirki Road smashed glass and window panes of nearby shops and homes in the area. Police and rescue workers were quick at the scene to shift the injured to civil hospital Quetta for medical treatment. There has been no claim of responsiblity for the explosions. These explosions have come after the Balochistan Government evolved a security plan to ensure peace in the restive capital of the province. According to Home and Tribal Affairs Department, more than 400 cameras would be installed at all sensitive locations of Quetta to ensure proper monitoring of the city. Under the security plan, the number of police and frontier corps would be doubled to maintain order.

Pakistan's Shia Genicide: Father and son among 4 Shia workers of Punjab, Sindh, martyred in Baluchistan
Notorious Yazidi nasbi takfiri terrorists of outlawed Sipah-e-Sahaba martyred four Shia workers of Punjab and Sindh provinces after having kidnapped them on gunpoint in Baluchistan province’s Turbat area. Shiite News Correspondent reported that Mulazim Hussain son of Fazal Hussain and Mulazim’s son Abdul Majeed and Haneef Abbas of Punjab and another Shia worker belonging to Sindh province were kidnapped in Turbat. They were subjected to severe inhuman torture and finally they were martyred. Shia parties and leaders have condemned the murders of four Shia workers saying that Yazidi nasbi takfiri terrorists were directly involved in the murder and they had renamed their terrorist out from Sipah-e-Sahaba to Ahl-e-Sunnat wal Jamaat. They said that PMLN’s government had opted of appeasement of terrorists due to which they were encouraged to genocide of peaceful and law abiding Shiites. They demanded immediate military operation against the terrorists.

Rice: Reports of a U.S. apology to Afghanistan are false

Reports the United States is on the verge of a security agreement with Afghanistan that includes a formal letter of apology for past mistakes by American troops are completely false, the National Security adviser told CNN on Tuesday.
The statements came amid claims by Afghan officials that the Obama administration offered to write the letter as part of an effort to keep a small number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan well past the 2014 deadline to withdraw. "No such letter has been drafted or delivered. There is not a need for the United States to apologize to Afghanistan," National Security Adviser Susan Rice said on CNN's "Situation Room."
"Quite the contrary, we have sacrificed and supported them in their democratic progress and in tackling the insurgents and al Qaeda. So that (letter of apology) is not on the table." Rice said she has seen news reports but has no idea where they are coming from, describing the claims as a "complete misunderstanding of what the situation is."
The claim first surfaced following talks Tuesday between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, when Karzai's spokesman told reporters that Kerry said President Barack Obama would write an official letter guaranteeing the United States would not repeat "past mistakes" that led to civilian casualties. Asked later about such a letter, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, "I don't have anything to tell you about whether there will or won't be a letter." The conversation between Karzai and Kerry came ahead of a meeting of Afghan leaders -- known as a Loya Jirga -- to potentially sign off on a deal that would allow a limited number of American troops to stay to train Afghan security services. Kerry declined an invitation to attend to the Loya Jirga, but offered to write a letter to the leaders offering U.S. assurances about a future security relationship, said two senior U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The letter Kerry offered would also clarify the U.S. position on past issues, such as civilian casualties and a pledge to do everything possible to avoid them, said one of the officials. But the letter in no way would be offered as an apology, both officials said. White House spokesman Jay Carney said a "general agreement" between the two countries was reached last month. There have been talks in the weeks since "to finalize the text," he said.Rice said the United States was in the last stages of negotiations on a framework that Kerry and Karzai signed off on last month during talks. "Without such an agreement, that level of cooperation would be all but impossible." Karzai's office issued a statement spelling out some points of contention, including the Afghan government's opposition to raids "on any Afghan homes by U.S. forces," while Washington wants to be able to conduct such operations "in exceptional circumstances."
According to the statement, Karzai proposed two alternatives: -- Have Kerry himself make the case for military raids when the Loya Jirga convenes later this week -- Don't sign any bilateral security agreement until a new Afghan government takes shape after the upcoming presidential election, set for next April
Carney acknowledged military raids were an issue, calling them a matter of concern for both countries. U.S. troops were deployed to Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, which were coordinated by al Qaeda leaders then based in the country. Obama has vowed to reduce U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, with the goal to end the U.S. combat mission by the end of 2014 Several military and Pentagon officials have told CNN that one option now being considered calls for a total NATO force of 8,000 to 12,000 troops, with 3,000 to 4,000 coming from NATO countries, and the United States providing up the balance of troops. While the final numbers could change, a senior Defense Department official said it's not likely to change by much. If fewer than 8,000 were to stay, relatively few would be able to engage in actual missions.

Kabul all set to host jirga on US security deal

Kabul will host an epoch-making consultative Loya Jirga from Thursday (tomorrow) to Sunday to debate the nitty-gritty of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the US and advise the government on whether or not the deal should be signed, an official said on Wednesday.
Around 2,500 people’s representatives, tribal chieftains and others would attend the assembly, for which all the arrangements have already been finalised. A literal security blanket has been thrown around the city, where several busy entry points have been blocked. National assembly and provincial council members, scholars, women, civil society groups, the Kuchi tribe, people with disabilities, traders, industrialists, rights activists, governors, presidential runners and representatives of refugees are also among invitees. Numbering 532, elders from different parts and communities of the country constitute a vast majority of participants. “All requisite preparations are in place and participants have reached the capital,” the Loya Jirga preparatory commission spokesman said.
Abdul Khaliq Hussaini told Pajhwok Afghan News that the fourm, having 50 committees to thrash out the BSA text, would elect its board members after candidates were named by each category. Discussing only the agreement, the jirga will last four days. Over the past two years, Afghanistan and the US have held several rounds of tough negotiations on how to shape a US military presence in Afghanistan after 20014, when all foreign combat troops are scheduled to leave. Both countries reached agreement on a number of important issues, but the Afghan government has left the ticklish issue of US troop immunity to consultative Loya Jirga. Some political and civil entities consider signing the pact an imperative for Afghanistan in the current situation, but others oppose the deal legalising the presence of US troops. President Hamid Karzai invited Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan and the Taliban to participate in the event and share their views with the government. The HIA declined the invitation and the Taliban demonstrated their disagreement through a suicide attack in front of the jirga venue.
Meanwhile, the preparatory panel said a number of media outlets had released a fake draft of the pact, creating confusion among the masses. The commission said on the eve of such an important gathering, a number of groups had launched propaganda, but their falsehood had been exposed. The commission insisted the document released was starkly different from the original one that was yet to be distributed to jirga committees. American troop immunity and their unilateral operations are the main controversial issues in BSA. But the two sides agreed if the jirga gives US troops the right to search Afghan homes, President Karzai will guarantee the American military avoiding past mistakes.
The Government has announced six day closed holidays to address traffic jams and reinforce security in Kabul. A number of similar jirgas have taken place in Kabul over the past 12 years, including the constitution Loya Jirga and peace jirga.

Books | I Am Malala – A truly inspiring story
Malala Yousafzai’s story truly is an inspiration and a stark reminder that we should be incredibly grateful for what we have. With the aid of British journalist Christina Lamb, Yousafzai writes in detail of the trials and tribulations of growing up in the Swat district of Pakistan. The theme of hope runs throughout I Am Malala; an exploration of her childhood, her campaigns for education and her aching recovery after being shot on a school bus by the Taliban. The horrific events which take place in the book show that Malala is a fearless threat to the oppressive ideals of the Taliban: “the Taliban could take our pens and books, but they couldn’t stop our minds from thinking”. Malala deservedly dedicates much of the book to her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, whose campaigns in Swat were equally as daring and ambitious as his daughters. He is easily the greatest symbol of hope and perseverance in Malala’s life, the most inspiring moment being his never-ending attempts to build a school for boys and girls, a process constantly thwarted by a lack of money, corruption in the educational system, and severe floods. Christina Lamb seems to provide much more factual accounts of events which went on politically around Pakistan. These parts are crucial to understand the context of Malala’s upbringing in Swat, but I did find myself disengaged from them at times, aching for the focus of the book to return to Malala’s experiences. I would also have liked to hear more about Malala after the shooting; obviously the news provides much of this since her worldwide recognition, but it would have been interesting learning about it from Malala’s point of view. I Am Malala is a captivating read, showcasing the effect that one person can have on the world. Malala’s passion towards education is ignited throughout the entire book, put most eloquently as she addresses the criticism that she demands Western ideals in the East: “Education is neither Eastern nor Western, it is human.”

Malala Yousafzai gets EU's Sakharov human rights prize

Pakistani schoolgirl and campaigner Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban, has received the EU's Sakharov human rights prize at a ceremony in Strasbourg. In a speech she dedicated the award to "the unsung heroes of Pakistan" and to human rights campaigners worldwide. European Parliament President Martin Schulz presented the award.
The 16-year-old activist was shot a year ago after campaigning for better rights for girls in Pakistan. The Sakharov Prize for free speech is awarded by the European Parliament annually in memory of Soviet physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov. The 50,000 euro ($65,000) prize is considered Europe's top human rights award. "I am hopeful the European Parliament will look beyond Europe to the suffering countries where people are still deprived of their basic rights, their freedom of thought is suppressed, freedom of speech is enchained," Ms Yousafzai said. "Many children have no food to eat, no water to drink and children are starving for education. It is alarming that 57 million children are deprived of education... this must shake our conscience." She began her speech with a famous quote from the 18th Century French philosopher Voltaire: "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." More than 20 former laureates are attending the ceremony, a parliament spokesman said. Malala rose to prominence in 2009 after writing a blog anonymously for the BBC Urdu service about her life under Taliban rule and the lack of education for girls. She lived in Pakistan's Swat Valley and her name became internationally known after the Pakistan army pushed the Taliban out of the area in 2009. The Taliban's Islamist doctrine puts harsh restrictions on women's rights and one of the militants shot her as she was riding in a bus with school friends. She joins a distinguished list of winners of the Sakharov Prize that includes Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi.

Cop deployed at Peshawar church killed

Unidentified persons shot dead a police constable deployed at a church in Umeedabad locality of the Swati Gate area here on Tuesday.A police official said Constable Attaullah of Landi Arbab was deputed to guard the church in Umeedabad when unidentified motorcyclists opened fire on him. The policeman was killed on the spot.Heavy contingents of police rushed to the spot but the attackers had already escaped the scene by then.

Pakistan’s nuclear weapons bigger worry than Iran: US official
Nuclear weapons of Pakistan poses more danger to the global security than “over-exaggerating” threat from Iran, a former US official has said. “Are we endangering our own safety and that of Israel by over-exaggerating the nuclear threat posed by Iran while drastically under-estimating the growing threat posed by Pakistan? Someone in authority had better answer that question before it’s too late,” said Douglas MacKinnon a former White House and Pentagon official and author of the memoir ‘Rolling Pennies In The Dark’ in an op-ed on the Fox News yesterday. “Day after day, week after week, and now literally year after year, we hear constantly about soon to be unleashed nuclear threat from Iran,” he said.
MacKinnon said, in a somewhat bizarre moment of candour from President Barack Obama — as related by actor George Clooney — when Clooney asked Obama several years ago what kept him awake at night, President Obama eventually answered ”Pakistan.” Strange that he would admit that to Clooney and not the American people, but no matter, how right the president was and is to fear the multiple threats emanating from that nation, he wrote. “Going back to the media and politician hype regarding Iran, it is almost always coupled with a mention of the State of Israel. During my time in the Pentagon, I had the opportunity to work with the Israeli Defence forces. Today, I fear President Obama is moving further and further away from supporting our best ally and friend in the Middle East for reasons known only to him,” he said. “As that reality is upon us, some of the leaders and people of Israel seem to be getting caught up in the same ”Iran hype” which floods our media and losing sight of the more lethal threat to their safety,” he said.
According to MacKinnon, addressing that real threat, a journalist in Israel recently sought to remind his nation of the dangers posed by Pakistan. In his piece, he quoted Tarek Fatah, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress who has said: ”The nuclear threat from Iran is a real one, but the nuclear threat from its neighbour Pakistan is just as dangerous if not more so… Pakistan has emerged as the world’s number one source of jihadi suicide bombers and ground zero for the training of Islamic terrorists around the world.” A few months earlier, Dr Rafael Ofek, a former senior researcher and analyst in Israeli Intelligence and an expert in the technology of nuclear power, warned of the same threat, the former White House official said.
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Missing persons: Quetta protesters finally near Karachi after 24-day march

The Express Tribune
Long march protesters led by relatives of missing Baloch persons reached industrial town of Hub, a township sharing a border with Karachi, after travelling 667 kilometres on foot from Quetta.
It has been 24 days since women and children – whose loved ones have been missing for years – began walking on the RCD highway. “Despite bruised feet and pain in the knees, the protesters have continued the journey with unwavering hope as their strength,” said Farzana Majeed, sister of missing student leader Zakir Majeed. The Lasbela Bar Association and Baloch student organisations in Hub welcomed the marchers, most of whom are women and children. More than twenty families started their long march from Quetta Press Club on October 27. Vice President of advocacy group Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VFBMP) Mama Qadir Baloch accused the security forces of kidnapping and dumping the bodies of Baloch political activists. He said thousands of Baloch political activists were whisked away by security agencies and had been missing for years. The body of Qadir’s son Jalil Reki – Information Secretary of Baloch Republican Party (BRP) – was found dumped in Kechi district a couple of years ago. The BRP is led by Baloch nationalist Barahmdagh Bugti. The long march participants are likely to reach Karachi tomorrow, where they will set up a hunger strike camp in front of the Karachi Press Club. “We will continue our protest until all the missing persons reappear or are produced before the court,” said Qadir. Sammi Baloch – daughter of kidnapped Din Mohamemd Marri – said she had left school to participate in the protest. “My father has gone missing for three years and our family is immensely disturbed because we all were dependent on him. I want my father get back,” she said. Marri was kidnapped from Khuzdar in 2009. President of VFBMP Nasurllah Baloch said international humanitarian organisations should take notice of these human rights abuses and launch an independent investigation.

Pakistan Looks For The Military Man Who Can Fill Kayani's Shoes

Pakistan has cast the mold it wants for its top military commander, now the government just needs to fill it. With General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani leaving his post as Army chief, the country's civilian leaders are seeking a successor who can mirror his style as a military man who took the fight to the militants and generally kept out of the political arena. Islamabad is tight-lipped about who will replace Kayani, who steps down on November 29, but the choice reportedly comes down to four contenders. Two made names for themselves fighting the Pakistani Taliban; the other two rose through the ranks by successfully navigating the military's entrenched bureaucracy. Retired General Talat Masood says that the new Army chief must be able to lead combat operations, maintain morale and discipline, and show a commitment to working with the civilian government in power. Ultimately, it is Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who will decide who takes the reins. But the recommendations of top military brass, including the outgoing military chief, will carry significant weight. Ignoring the military's endorsement comes at a great risk, as evidenced by coups d'etat that followed government decisions to handpick the Army chief in the 1970s and 1990s. Sharif himself was ousted as prime minister in 1999 after his unsuccessful attempt to appoint a protege to replace former General Pervez Musharraf as Army chief.
Political Considerations
According to Masood, a number of pressing political considerations will play a role in the decision. "How is he disposed toward promoting democracy, on keeping distance [between] the army and civilian [affairs]? And to what extent has he had experience in [fighting] the insurgency will be one of the important criteria in this selection," Masood says. "Of course, the chief also has to have diplomatic negotiate with foreign armies like the U.S. Army and NATO." The four men who are believed to be in the running to replace Kayani are all lieutenant generals. Haroon Aslam, a former leader of Pakistan's Special Forces, led commando missions during the government's push to end the Taliban's control of the country's northwestern Swat Valley in 2009. Tariq Khan has similar credentials, having helped defeat the Taliban in the tribal districts of South Waziristan in 2008 and Bajaur in 2009. Rashad Mahmood and Raheel Sharif each built promising bureaucratic careers and have served in both command and staff positions, although it has been reported that neither has led troops against the Taliban.
Seniority Could Count
In Masood's view, Aslam's seniority, owing to his 38 years of service, gives him an advantage over the other three. "Haroon Aslam is the senior-most," he says. "I don't see any reason why he should be passed over, because he has also got a very good record of service." But Hamid Hussain, a New York-based writer on Pakistani military affairs, says seniority is a loosely applied rule of thumb and won't necessarily determine who becomes the next Army chief. Hussain predicts that Aslam is more likely to be handed the largely ceremonial post of chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff committee. In theory, this would make him the most powerful military officer in Pakistan, but it is not a command post and the holder has no power to appoint senior officers. Such a scenario would open the door for Mahmood to be named the new Army chief, according to Hussain, who suggests that there are signs Kayani was grooming the lieutenant general to be his successor. Hussain says Mahmood has developed a good working relationship with the prime minister's brother, Shahbaz Sharif, while serving as the corps commander in Lahore in recent years. Lahore is the capital of the eastern province of Punjab, where Shahbaz Sharif has been chief minister since 2008. "He [Mahmood] is more formal in terms of career and his personality," says Hussain. "He is not a vocal or aggressive type of person. He just follows the norms and the routines, so the Sharifs may feel comfortable and not threatened because he may not be assertive and won't be pushing them around too much."
Dark-Horse Candidate
According to Hussain, there is little chance of Lieutenant General Raheel Sharif being appointed, because he is not seen as a strong enough commander. Tariq Khan, on the other hand, could be considered a dark-horse candidate. Over the course of his 36-year military career, he has commanded successful missions against militants and is reportedly an outspoken advocate of eliminating terrorists on Pakistani soil. "The person who is clear in his mind that this [terrorism] is an existential threat is General Tariq Khan," says Hussain. "He is clear in his mind about what to do about it. So, in that capacity, among all the four, he will be the best choice. For the next three-year tenure of the Army chief, proactive military action will most likely be needed. And for that reason he will probably be the right person."

Pakistan: KPK government's hasty move

Whether it was inexperience or enthusiasm to set new standards of clean governance in what it promises to turn into a 'model government' in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the PTI has created an unnecessary controversy over an important issue. First, PTI Chairman Imran Khan issued a public warning, saying corrupt ministers in his party's KPK government would be held to account. Then last Wednesday Chief Minister Pervez Khattak announced sacking Industries, Commerce and Labour Minister Bakht Baidar and Forest and Environment Minister Haji Ibrar Hussain of the Qaumi Watan Party on charges of corruption, without issuing a formal charge sheet. QWP has since been lashing out against Imran, saying he could not implement his plan of curbing corruption and hence had made QWP as a scapegoat. The party chief, Sikandar Hayat Sherpao, also accused Imran at a press conference of interference in the work of ministries allocated to his party. In support of his allegation, Sherpao brandished a letter that he said, Imran had sent him last July for the appointment of an engineer as chief executive of Oil and Gas Company. PTI spokesperson Shireen Mizari said the letter was fake and the party chairman's signatures forged. Common sense suggests that even if the PTI leader had wanted the appointment he could have done so by asking the Chief Minister to pursue the case with the minister concerned. Responding to the allegations, Imran himself sought to remind his accuser that the nation donated money to his two public welfare projects, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital and the Namal University, which was proof enough that he never interfered in the working of the two institutions. Lost in these allegations and counter-allegations is the real issue: what exactly is the nature and extent of wrongdoing the ministers are accused of? As per standard practice, the Chief Minister should have issued them show-cause notices that the QWP says did not happen. Second and most importantly, the government should have come up with a formal charge-sheet, initiating legal proceedings through proper channel. In a democratic dispensation no one must be condemned without being heard. According to Sherpao, the Chief Minister did not inform his party through as much as a verbal communication about the reasons behind the dismissal. "The news about sacking of the ministers," he claimed, "came to us through the media." If true, this is unacceptable behaviour. Corruption in high places being a major issue in this country, the news has generated huge interest with many applauding the PTI for making an example of a coalition partner's members. Imran himself has been using the issue to claim credit for having delivered on his promise to end corruption, saying the PTI was elected on an anti-corruption mandate, and that "this should be a clear warning for all our ministers and MPAs; the PTI cannot have as a coalition partner from any party that tolerates corruption." A media trial of the alleged offenders has already started amid unconfirmed reports of wrongdoing. Before patting itself on the back for its purported anti-corruption move and looking for public approval, the PTI government must justify its action. It must initiate proper legal proceedings against the accused, giving them a fair chance to clear their names.

Pakistan: Spreading sectarian violence

Pakistan seems to be facing a resurgence of sectarian violence, which seems in no way ready to abate. After the alarming situation in Rawalpindi in which a bloody clash between Sunni students from a seminary and Shia participants of an Ashura procession resulted in a curfew being imposed in the city, the rage and terror has spread to other parts of the country. We are now hearing reports of sectarian clashes occurring in the Kohat district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where firing in front of an imambargah resulted in the death of two people, a policeman being one of them. A curfew has also been imposed in Kohat because of protest demonstrations taken out against the violence in Rawalpindi. The situation in nearby Hangu district was also tense and called for a temporary curfew. The ongoing conditions tell only one truth: Pakistan is a powder keg and the slightest spark can set it off.
The whole country was breathing a sigh of relief this Moharram because the sensitive religious event went by without too much incident. However, on the 10th of Moharram things got out of hand when provocations by Sunnis during a Friday khutba (sermon) provoked Shia mourners to attack, which resulted in the whole of Rawalpindi coming to a halt, with the army called in to handle the situation. The reaction has spread, even reaching Multan where as many as 40 people have been injured in clashes between Sunnis and Shias. What happened in Rawalpindi has sent almost all of the country into the downward spiral that is sectarian strife, an issue so volatile that once it is provoked, it only gets worse. It seems that Sunnis are now retaliating after the deaths in Rawalpindi, and the Shia minority is not taking things lying down anymore. History has proved that the Shias have had to deal with much brutality in Pakistan, particularly of late. Wherever there has been a concentration of the Shia population in the country, e.g. the Shia Hazara community in Quetta, it has been targeted so extensively that it would not be far-fetched to call the attacks against them a slow but sure genocide. Shias have usually been on the receiving end of fundamentalist ire, faring only slightly better than the officially declared ‘non-Muslim’ Ahmedi sect. Comprising 20 percent of the population, the Shias have felt their anger boiling and frustration mounting at the injustices against them and the state’s inability to do anything to protect them. While the violence that was unleashed in Rawalpindi cannot be condoned, it is understandable why the Shia mourners reacted the way they did, after decades of murder and abuse.
That is the enemy we are facing today — the strife and bloodshed that accompanies religious extremism. Jihadi terrorism and deep-rooted fundamentalism have given birth to a fratricidal conflict. We are suffering from failure of the state and successive governments in curbing this religious hatred and not allowing it to flourish and become such a nuisance and threat. It is impossible to blame any side in this sectarian game of action and reaction but the focus now must be on preventing any full-scale sectarian mishap. The Punjab government has taken an excellent initiative in which it has urged the ulema (religious scholars) from both sides to come together; this step should be replicated across the country, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a province that is mired in a view of religion coloured by tribal culture. A dialogue process must begin to bring all communities together so as to ensure that ancient chasms do not swallow up the country whole.

Suicide attack kills two security personnel in North Waziristan

At least two security personnel were killed and seven others injured Wednesday morning in a suicide attack on a Frontier Corps (FC) checkpost on Bannu-Mir Ali Road in North Waziristan tribal agency, DawnNews reported. Security officials and Pakistan Army's Inter Service Public Relations (ISPR) sources confirmed the casualties. A suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into the Shawa checkpost situated on the Bannu-Mir Ali Road. Subsequently, two security personnel were killed whereas seven others sustained injuries. Following the attack, security personnel cordoned off the site of incident and a curfew was also imposed in the area. A little known shadowy group, Ansarul Mujahideen, has claimed responsibility for the attack. The spokesman for Ansarul Mujahideen, Abu Baseer, said their group had targeted the FC checkpost. He told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location that the attack was in revenge for the death of Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, who was killed in a US drone strike in early November. North Waziristan is one of the seven regions in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) governed by tribal laws. An extremist insurgency led by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) plagues the region and the area is known to be infested with militants, including those from Al Qaeda and other armed extremist organisations. The region also comes under attacks from US drones frequently which target militant hideouts in the area. The region is chiefly off-limits to reporters because of security worries and government restrictions due to which reliable casualty figures are difficult to acquire from there.
Security personnel repulse attack in Swabi; four militants killed
At least four militants were killed Wednesday during an exchange of fire with security forces’ personnel in Swabi, DawnNews reported. According to the District Police Officer (DPO), twelve militants attacked the Natian police checkpost in Swabi. Security personnel repulsed the attack and during an exchange of fire between the two sides, four militants were killed. Swabi is the hometown of the new Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) ameer Khalid Haqqani and presently also the acting ameer of the TTP in the absence of Mullah Fazlullah who is in Afghanistan.

Pakistan: A Christian lawyer escapes yet another assassination scheme

Well-known rights defender confirms he escaped an obvious assassination attempt.
One of Pakistan’s leading Christian lawyers, Sardar Mushtaq Gill confirmed earlier this week that he has endured yet another perceptible assassination attempt by a militant group. “I am being targeted by extremists who want me to end my legal support to victims in blasphemy cases,” said Sardar Musthtag Gill. He has formely been dynamically worked as the director of an advocacy group Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD). Sardar Mushtaq Gill, who is in hiding, told an international news agency that gunshots were heard November 2 on the street outside his home, I was not at home at the time as my wife urged me in a mobile phone text message to stay away following previous threats,” he explained. He claimed his brother stumbled on bullet shells subsequent to the attack. The frightened human rights defender asked his brother to lodge a complaint at the local police station. Note worthily, this isn’t the first terrorizing incident. He has previously made headlines after he was held at gunpoint in June this year by three armed men who threatened him of “dire consequences”, allegedly corresponding to his advocacy work. Almost a month later, some fighters of a militant group stormed at his home; an evident attempt to kill him. Moreover, legal representatives associated to LEAD have disclosed that they were harassed and endangered for their human rights work. Previously in June LEAD’s representatives purportedly petitioned the Lahore High Court to invalidate bail against individuals who had been allegedly involved in the Jospeh Colony arson in March 2013. Sardar Mushtaq Gill told that he anticipates more attacks against the Christian community if the perpetrators were to be freed. Nevertheless, he carried on,” LEAD lawyers were unable to attend a court hearing after being threatened by individuals who demanded that they withdrew the petition.” Seeing the seriousness of the matter, Prime Minister of Pakistan Mian Nawaz Sharif is therefore, urged to boost security of Sardar Mushtaq Gill and other minority Christians in the country. As an attempt to help Sardar Mushtaq Gill, William Nicholas Gomes- human rights ambassador for has written a letter to PM Sharif, calling for an investigate into the incidents of harassment. “I believe that the gunshots in front of Sardar Mushtaq Gill’s house are directly related to his work in the defence of human rights,” Gomes wrote. In his letter, Gomes asked the Pakistani Prime Minister to make sure that authorities “carry out a thorough, impartial and immediate investigation into the recent shootings outside the lawyer’s home, as well as the previous attacks and intimidation directed at him.” Furthermore, Gomes insisted in his letter that the PM should issue orders to arrest those responsible for aggression while bring them “to justice in accordance with international standards” and to perk up security for Sardar Mushtaq Gill, his family, and other LEAD members. “All human rights defenders in Pakistan should be able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including physical threats and intimidation,” Gomes wrote.
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Pakistan: Man arrested for sharing blasphemous content on Facebook

A young man in Pakistan's Punjab Province has been arrested for sharing blasphemous content on Facebook, as the government launched a crackdown on the spread of such content on social media. Authorities yesterday arrested Raza Kharal in Toba Tek Singh district of Pakistan's Punjab province, about 200 kilometres from here, for sharing blasphemous content on Facebook. A blasphemy case was registered against Kharal for sharing material containing objectionable language on his Facebook wall, a police official said. He said the police had taken action on the complaint of local cleric Maulana Salim. Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah has said the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has been requested to remove all objectionable and blasphemous material from the Facebook and other social media. "We have also requested the Federal Investigation Agency to take action against those spreading hate material through social media," Sanuallah said. This comes after Pakistan government ordered strict action against anyone propagating religious sectarianism through social media or mobile phones in the wake of a series of recent sectarian clashes in the country. The army was called in to take control of Rawalpindi city and curfew was imposed on Friday after ten people were killed and 44 others injured in clashes that started when a Shia procession was passing through Raja Bazar. The Shias were observing Ashura, which commemorates the death of Prophet Mohammed's grandson. Following the incident, sectarian clashes have spread in other districts too and tension still prevails in districts like Multan, Bahwalpur, Hangu and Kohat. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has appealed to the people not to believe on rumours as there has been not veracity in them. Some people also shared unverified video on Facebook claiming that three youngsters were found slaughtered at a worship place. "Such material and videos are triggering sectarian violence in the county which can not be tolerated. We will not allow the misuse of the social media," the law minister warned.