Thursday, November 21, 2013

Two senior Taliban faction members killed in US drone strike on Pakistan

Two senior members of a feared Afghan insurgent group were killed early on Thursday in the first strike by a US drone outside Pakistan's lawless tribal areas. A Pakistani intelligence official claimed five people were killed by the early morning strike on a religious seminary in Hangu, a district bordering the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), where nearly all US drone strikes have taken place in the past.
Residents and police claimed three or four missiles were fired at a section of the mud-built madrasa
just before 5am. The seminary's students, many of whom were sleeping in a nearby room, escaped unhurt.
The intelligence official, who asked not to be named, said all five killed were members of the Haqqani network, a militarily highly capable Taliban faction, including Mullah Ahmed Jan, a senior fundraiser known as the "minister of finance" and a close aide to the group's leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani. Jan's body was taken away for burial in North Waziristan shortly after the strike, according to witnesses.
Reuters reported that Haqqani himself had been spotted at the madrasa two days before the strike.
The four other men were Mullah Hamidullah Afghani, another senior adviser to Haqqani, Mullah Abdullah Afghani, Mullah Abdur Rehman Mengal and Karim Khan, the intelligence official said.
Confirming the identity or even a figure for people killed by drone strikes is notoriously difficult, but if the claims are true then Thursday's attack is a major blow to the Haqqani network, even at the cost of inflaming anger towards the US among Pakistan's politicians, who have been infuriated by recent strikes.
On 11 November the group's chief fundraiser, Nasiruddin Haqqani, was assassinated while buying bread at a bakery in Islamabad, the capital city, where he had apparently lived quite openly for several years.
Mystery surrounds his killing, with the finger of blame pointed at various possible culprits, including the Pakistani Taliban and Afghanistan's spy agency. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the political party that has campaigned most vociferously against drone strikes, declared that the attack "was a declaration of war against the people of Pakistan by the US". The party's leader, Imran Khan, had already threatened to try to disrupt convoys carrying Nato supplies to Afghanistan through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the north-western province where the PTI is in power.
Even the killing of militants regarded as lethal enemies of Pakistan creates considerable anger. The death of Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, in a drone strike on 1 November was blamed by the interior minister for wrecking the government's efforts to start peace talks with militant groups.
Of the 379 drone strikes understood to have taken place in Pakistan since 2004, all but a handful have been inside the FATA, a semi-autonomous region that a multitude of militant groups have made their home. In many areas, particularly the tribal area of North Waziristan, the Pakistani government has little or no power to control militants linked to al-Qaida.
Analysts have long suspected that the US receives permission from Pakistan to conduct drone strikes in specific areas, which are deliberately cleared of Pakistani aircraft. Hangu, which borders the tribal agency of Orakzai, is regarded as being just inside what in Pakistan is known as the "settled areas" of the country. Pakistan's government issued a statement condemning the attack, a now standard procedure after the missile strikes.
"There is an across the board consensus in Pakistan that these drone strikes must end," the foreign ministry said. "It has been consistently maintained that drone strikes are counter-productive, entail loss of innocent civilian lives and have human rights and humanitarian implications. Such strikes also set dangerous precedents in the inter-state relations." On Wednesday the government claimed it had been given assurances by the US that drone strikes would be suspended during peace talks with militants.

Pashto Urdu Mix Lovely Sad Song 2013

White House confirms President Obama's Afghanistan pledges
A White House spokeswoman confirmed early Thursday that President Barack Obama signed a letter to Afghan President Hamid Karzai pledging that U.S. forces who may remain in the country for the next decade will respect the dignity of Afghans in their homes and only enter their residences when it is essential to do so. "I know you have been concerned for some time to limit the impact of the conflict in Afghanistan on the Afghan people, with particular attention to the sensitive issue of the safety and privacy of people in their homes," Obama wrote in the letter dated Wednesday and released by Karzai's office. "Over time, and especially in the recent past, we have redoubled our efforts to ensure that Afghan homes are respected by our forces and that our operations are conducted consistent with your law. We will continue to make every effort to respect the sanctity and dignity of Afghans in their homes and in their daily lives, just as we do for our own citizens."
"As this new agreement states, U.S. forces shall not enter Afghan homes for the purposes of military operations, ecept under extraordinary circumstances involving urgent risk to life and limb of U.S. nationals," Obama continued.
Some press reports had suggested that Obama's letter would amount to an apology for past U.S. raids in Afghanistan that had resulted in civilians being killed or wounded. However, U.S. officials insisted that the president had not agreed to sign any letter of that sort, although they said the U.S. always regrets civilan casualties during military conflicts. Obama's letter is part of what Karzai requested and obtained from American officials in an effort to persuade a gathering of Afghan leaders, a so-called Loya Jirga, to approve a security pact with the U.S. that would allow American troops to remain in the country through 2024. The U.S. appears to have won the key assurance it insisted upon in the agreement: immunity for U.S. forces from prosecution in Afghan courts.

Iraqi group says fired shells at Saudi Arabia

Six mortar bombs have landed near a border post in northern Saudi Arabia in an attack claimed by an Iranian-backed Iraqi Shia armed group, which said it was warning the kingdom to stop meddling in Iraqi affairs. The mortar rounds hit desert on the far northwestern fringes of the kingdom's oil-producing region on Wednesday, several hundred kilometres from the major fields operated by the world's largest oil exporter and biggest Arab economy. "The goal was to send a warning message to Saudis to tell them that their border stations and patrol are within our range of fire," Wathiq al-Batat, commander of Iraq's al-Mukhtar Army group, told the Reuters news agency on Thursday. He said the group wanted Riyadh to stop "interfering" in Iraq and that it had also been angered by Saudis and Kuwaitis who he said had insulted the Prophet Mohammad's daughter. There was no independent confirmation that the armed group was behind the mortar fire, reported two days after twin suicide bombings killed 25 people near Iran's embassy in Beirut. A Lebanon-based Sunni group linked to al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the attack. Some Shia commentators blamed that assault on Iran's regional rival Saudi Arabia, which has condemned the Beirut attack.
'No high alert'
Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Major-General Mansour Turki said Iraq and Kuwait, as well as the kingdom itself, were investigating the mortars that landed in the Kingdom. Iran has not commented on the mortar attack. Baghdad said it was not involved. "There were no rockets or anything fired towards the Saudi border by security forces," said Jabar al-Sa'adi, head of Basra provincial council's security committee, in southern Iraq. Turki said Saudi forces had not been put on higher alert after the bombardment. Saudi news website published pictures of small craters in the desert which it said the mortar fire had caused. A high barbed-wire fence and a road were visible in some photos. "Six mortar rounds fell in an uninhabited area near the new al-Auja border guard centre of Hafr al-Batin in Eastern Province. Thank God, no damage resulted," said border guard spokesman General Mohammed al-Ghamdi. Al-Mukhtar Army is a relatively new Shia armed goup, which has said it is supported and funded by Iran. Batat is a former leader of the more well-known Kata'ib Hezbollah armed group. Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia, a close ally of Kuwait, has had tense relations with the Shia-led Iraqi government, which it views as a pawn of Iran.

EU criticizes Qatar over migrant workers abuse

The European Parliament has criticized Qatar over the exploitation of migrant workers preparing venues for the 2022 World Cup.
The parliament approved a resolution on Thursday, calling on the Persian Gulf state to ensure that any abuses of the migrant workers are ended, the Associated Press reported. It also planned to send a fact-finding mission to Qatar next year, insisting that the alleged abuses should be investigated.
"We cannot allow the 2022 World Cup to be built on slavery," said Hannes Swoboda, president of the Socialists and Democrats Group of MEPs.
The President of world football’s governing body FIFA, Sepp Blatter, described on Wednesday the situation of the workers in Qatar as “unacceptable.”
"Economic and political leaders must contribute to improving the unacceptable situation in Qatar,” he said.
The Persian Gulf state has been pressured to put an end to the exploitation of migrant workers, as it is implementing a multi-billion-dollar construction program as part of preparations for the international football tournament. Amnesty International said in a report on Monday that workers suffer “alarming” levels of exploitation such as dangerous working condition and non-payment of wages in Qatar's construction sector ahead of the important sport event. Amnesty conducted interviews with 210 workers, employers and government officials for its report, called "The Dark Side of Migration." "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," Amnesty’s Secretary General Salil Shetty said.


Pashto Music: Ahmad Zahir ( Obe derta Rawrlem)

Pakistan: Another drama: Musharraf Gate

– by Dr. Saifur Rehman
Nation was mourning, depressed and ashamed over Rawalpindi sectarian violence, which killed more than dozen people and scores were injured. Curfew was imposed in garrison city mobile phone service was banned for three days. Amidst of tense environment, interior minister appeared on news channels for his news briefing and told some funny things to nation that Government had decided to write the letter to supreme court that Musharraf had violated the constitution by imposing emergency rule in the country in November 2007. Was military coup of 1999 not the violation of constitution? Then why they selected November 2007 emergency incident to file treason case against Musharraf? Answer is very simple they want to save their skin as after bloodless coup in 1999 against his government, in year 2000, under an agreement facilitated by Saudi Arabia, Nawaz Sharif opted to live in Saudi Arabia for the next 10 years, Mr Sharif had agreed not to take part in politics in Pakistan for 21 years. Musharraf granted him pardon. A lot of proofs would have been disclosed in the court if trial would made on these lines. But insiders of the this development are of view that musharaf’s trial will end with an agreement like in year 2000. A Non issue was made the issue to flip the central story on main stream media and social media and to hide negligence of Punjab government to handle muharram processions in Punjab and Rawalpindi in particular. Interior minister seemed to be very frustrated as he erroneously told media that government would write letter to court to form commission to investigate the November 2007 emergency. Later on interior ministry and law ministry made correction in this regard. His wrong statements had no end, he said “This is the first time that any military conspirator is going to be put on trial”. My lord. please make correction. Trial was made against Maj. Gen. Akbar Khan and his supporters in Rawalpindi conspiracy in 1949, against the government of Liaquat Ali Khan, Pakistan’s first prime minister. Maj. Gen. Tajammul Hussain Malik and his fellow conspirators were put on trial in 1980, alleged plot to assassinate Zia-ul-Haq on Pakistan Day on March 23, 1980. And Maj. Gen. Zahirul Islam Abbasi and his conspirators were also put on trial In 1995, a coup attempt against the government of Benazir Bhutto. And all conspirators were convicted. If this government was really serious then they would have not spared all conspirators and supporters of Musharraf. Trial should be started against Musharraf but his supporters should have been put on trial along with him. I would like to suggest prime minister of Pakistan, don’t get indulge with non-issues. When you [Mr Sharif] became prime minister, public expectations were sky high that you would quickly get to grips with Pakistan’s most pressing problems – rampant terrorism, multiple insurgencies, an economy in free fall, the lack of electricity and a debilitating foreign policy, Instead, you have stumbled badly, incurring widespread public anger as terrorism intensifies and the economy worsens. My sincere piece of advice is that reign in your team and don’t pay heed to your close aides. I am afraid if in case yet another coup happens again then surely there would be no Musharraf to grant you pardon.
- See more at:

Afghanistan: Agreement to be signed after 2014 elections

President Hamid Karzai on Thursday said the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), even if approved by the consultative Loya Jirga and ratified by the parliament, would be signed after the 2014 presidential and provincial council elections were conducted. Addressing the Loya Jirga in Kabul, he said: “If you approve this agreement and the parliaments ratifies it, the US should be committed to BSA signing after the polls are held and the nation has started its journey toward peace…” The president added that no matter how the elections were held, he would be blamed by the powerful Americans and their Western allies. He needed support from the West and Afghanistan’s neighbours for successful and peaceful Afghan-led polls. He said Kabul and Washington had reached an agreement on all parts of the security deal except legal jurisdiction over the American forces staying in Afghanistan after 2014. “Our aims include strengthening and training of Afghan security forces, a halt to US operations in our villages and searches of civilian homes, protection of people and utilisation of US aid through Afghan institutions,” the president explained. “We want our army to be trained well; we don’t accept training only to the extent of survival. We want jetfighters and they give us dragonflies (useless aircraft). We demand tanks, they offer us pick-ups – vehicles that we can purchase on our own from Japan,” he remarked. He quoted President Barack Obama as saying in a letter today that the BSA would open a new chapter in bilateral cooperation in terms of Afghan forces’ training, respect for the country’s independence and counterterrorism efforts after 2014. “Whatever decision you take will be supported by the nation. Even people outside the country are waiting for the verdict of this august forum,” the president told the delegates, emphasising on them not to let anyone influence their conclusion.

Afghan Citizens Reaction to Advisory Jirga

TOLOnews reporters talked to a number of citizens in different provinces of the country to gather their opinions. A number of citizens who favor the signing of BSA agreement have said that, signing security agreement with the United States of America will prevent foreign interference. Those in favor of BSA, have also said that the participants of the Jirga, must make a decision which will guarantee development and progress of Afghanistan.
Abdul Waseh, resident of Kabul has said that: "We ask the members of Loya Jirga to prevent interference of foreign countries in Afghanistan".
Irshad, another resident of Kabul said that: "Members of the Loya Jirga must do something to bring security all over Afghanistan and make Afghanistan secure from foreign interference".
Meanwhile, residents of Herat have the following views:
Najeebullah Bayat "Until Afghanistan becomes self-sufficient and Independent, Afghanistan needs foreign countries like United States of America. Nasreen Hashemi, resident of Herat has said that: "The benefit of this agreement is that we have suffered three decades of war, we want a happy life for everyone from the members of Loya Jirga". Residents of Nangarhar province have also commented on the Advisory Jirga. Esmat, "We ask the members of the Loya Jirga to make decisions in accordance with our culture". Zafar Khan, "We ask the members of the Jirga to sign the agreement for the neighboring countries and should be in favor of all the Muslims".
Mazar-e-Sharif residents had mixed views on the issue.
Kawoon Malekzada, "We should not have any expectations from these Jirgas. There have been many similar Jirgas in the past, but it didn't affect the conditions of Afghanistan". Latif Mowhed, "We ask the members of Jirga to think deeply". Khusraw Yaqeen, "We ask the members of Loya JIrga to make good decisions that are in favor of Afghanistan". Residents of Zabul have said that, when signing BSA with the United States of America, cultural and religious values must be respected. Shamsullah Shams, "We want the members of Loya Jirga to set aside their personal emotions and private interests, and think about their religion and people of Afghanistan. Said Mohebullah, "This agreement must be in favor of Afghanistan and neighboring countries". Residents of Kandahar ask the members of Loya Jirga to think of the National interests and future of Afghanistan. Ghowsuddin, "We ask the members of Loya Jirga to truly think about Afghanitan and give suggestions that are in favor of people, not their personal interest". Fazel Bary, "We ask the members of Jirga to decide so that its in favor of everyone".
Most of the people are waiting for final decision of Loya Jirga members in regards to BSA with the United States of America. Although there are variety of views, but most of the people are expecting the member of Jirga to think of Afghanistan and its National interests.

At Loya Jirga, Karzai Urges Support For U.S. Pact

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has urged thousands of Afghan dignitaries at a Loya Jirga in Kabul to support a key security pact with the United States.
Addressing delegates at the start of the Loya Jirga, Karzai said up to 15,000 foreign troops could stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014 if the pact is signed. He said the pact would be in the country's best interest. "With any decision you make here, you should consider the future of your generation's prosperity and decide based on Afghanistan's national interest," Karzai said. "I once again repeat this -- having relations with the world is for our own good and prosperity. At the same time, we should have our independence, which is our dignity." The jirga -- which began on November 21 -- is considering a draft text that would form a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between Washington and Kabul governing U.S. and other foreign forces that would remain in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of NATO-led forces at the end of next year. In an effort to gain a national consensus, Karzai said he would like the Loya Jirga to approve the pact before it goes to the Afghan parliament for final approval and Karzai signs it. The deal would give Washington the exclusive right to try U.S. soldiers serving in Afghanistan. It also puts restrictions on U.S. forces entering the homes of Afghan civilians. An earlier reported request by Karzai requiring the United States to issue an apology to Afghanistan for civilians killed in U.S. military operations was not part of the deal. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on November 20 that he and Karzai never mentioned such an apology when they discussed the security pact. But U.S. President Barack Obama did send a letter to Karzai saying that Washington would respect "Afghan sovereignty" and "the sanctity and dignity of Afghans in their homes." Karzai acknowledged to jirga delegates that there are problems between Kabul and Washington. "My trust in America is not good," he said. "I don't trust them and they don't trust me. During the past 10 years, I have argued with them regarding the security of our people and the search of our people's houses." Karzai raised concerns when he said at the Loya Jirga that he would defer signing an approved BSA with the United States until after the Afghan presidential election on April 5. U.S. officials have been pressing for a quick approval and signing of the BSA to allow U.S. and other forces to begin planning a deployment.

Musharraf should face an open trial: Aitzaz Ahsan

Senior lawyer and central leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Aitzaz Ahsan said on Thursday that there the former president Pervez Musharraf who is facing treason charges, should have an open trial. Talking to media outside Supreme Court ‚ he said that the case would not be concluded quickly since prosecutors have enough evidence against Musharraf who also heads his party – All Pakistan Muslim League (APML). Ahsan claimed that Musharraf’s trial is impossible before the outgoing Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s retirement. The army chief will retire on Nov 29. The government has constituted a three-member special court to try the former army chief for treason. Justice Faisal Arab, Justice Tahira Safdar and Justice Yawar Ali have been named as judges for the court. Ahsan said that there should be an open trial, saying that Musharraf suspended the Constitution to impose state of emergency in 2007. He further added that Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry would not be a serving judge at the time of this trial, and in his opinion, this trial won’t end soon. Responding to a question, he said Musharraf used the word ‘I’ in several decisions, including the time he imposed emergency, therefore, there was no justification for Army to react (to this trial). On Wednesday, Attorney General Munir A.Malik said in his media talk in Islamabad that treason in Pakistan is punishable with death penalty or life imprisonment, however, the president of Pakistan is authorized to pardon the convict. - See more at:

We are sorry, Dr Abdus Salam

By Nayyar Afaq
November 21, marks the death anniversary of Dr Abdus Salam – Pakistan’s only Nobel laureate and one of the legendary physicists of the 20th century. The list of his achievements and awards is so long that one wonders how an ordinary man who grew up in the outskirts of Jhang, a relatively small and less developed city in Punjab, could accomplish so much.
Yet, Jhang, the land of the Sufi saint Sultan Bahu and the burial place of Heer and Ranjha, gave us another gem, Dr Abdus Salam.
Salam truly knew what the way forward for the country was.
He had a vision for the socio-economic development of third-world countries and saw development in the progress of science. He worked tirelessly all his life towards this cause. Abdus Salam worked as the science advisor for the Government of Pakistan and laid the infrastructure of science in the country. He also served as a founding director of SUPARCO, worked for the establishment of PAEC and contributed in PINSTECH as well. He believed in the idea of ‘Atom for Peace’ and contributed in the atomic bomb project of Pakistan. These are just a few selected contributions out of many. Salam’s biggest dream was to establish an international research centre in Pakistan. Unfortunately, the Government of Pakistan did not show any interest in his cause and eventually Salam had to set up the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy, the name of which was later changed to Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics. Just last year, when the world of physics applauded the discovery of the ‘God-particle’, CNN’s report was enough to make us lower our heads in shame.
“Imagine a world where the merchant of death is rewarded, while a scientific visionary is disowned and forgotten. Abdus Salam, Pakistan’s only Nobel laureate, the first Muslim to win the Physics’ prize helped lay the groundwork that led to the Higgs Boson breakthrough. And yet in Pakistani schools, his name is erased from the text books…”
Although Salam worked all his life in order to serve his motherland, his countrymen failed him. How can we even attempt to excuse ourselves from this failure?
While most countries worship their heroes, we chose to reject Abdus Salam.
Salam received the Nobel Prize in traditional Punjabi attire and quoted the verses of the Quran in his acceptance speech.
However, he had already been disowned in Pakistan. On his return to Pakistan in December 1979, there was no one from the public to receive him at the airport. He was like a pariah in his own country. He could not even give a lecture in the Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, since there were threats of violence from students belonging to Islami Jamiat-i-Talaba. This was not an isolated event and other institutes also found it difficult to invite him for the same reason. His reputation was further tarnished when the right-wing journalist stalwarts came up with their fictional stories claiming him an agent and a traitor, who had sold the country’s nuclear secrets to India. Salam’s misery did not end here. In 1988, he had to wait for two days in a hotel room to meet with the then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. However, the meeting was cancelled without any reason given.
Unfortunately, he was not even spared in death.
The epitaph on his tombstone was defaced and the word ‘Muslim’ was erased on the orders of the local magistrate. This final disgrace explains why this hero was abandoned in the first place. The theological amendment in the constitution of Pakistan does not allow members of the Ahmadiyya faith to call themselves Muslims.
Ironically for the rest of the world, Salam is still a Muslim and a hero.
While he was shunned in his own country, the world held him in high regard. The then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, invited him to India and bestowed a great gesture of respect by not only serving him tea with her own hands, but also sitting by his feet.
In Geneva, Switzerland, a road was named after him. In Beijing, the prime minister and president of China attended a dinner hosted in his honour while the South Korean president requested Salam to advise Korean scientists on how to win the Nobel Prize. Salam was also presented with dozens of honorary degrees of doctorate and awards for his hard work.
Perhaps, if Salam had been accepted and embraced in his own country, science would have enjoyed a completely different status in Pakistan. Our people may have travelled far on the road of scientific progress.
Alas, we did not.
However, it is never too late. If Pope John Paul II could apologise on behalf of the Catholic Church for the mistreatment of Galileo in the 17th century, why can’t we apologise to Salam?
We are sorry, Salam.
We are sorry for defaming you and for not understanding your worth. We are sorry for all the hatred we showed you in life and in death. For only once a mistake is acknowledged, can one strive on the path of rectifying it.

Rawalpindi riots: insult, injury and the milieu

Dr Mohammad Taqi
Ultra-fringe elements like the SSP/ASWJ have kept pushing for their version of the faith to become the state religion and for others to be banished from public life and view. The Shias see this as an attempt to relegate them to second-class citizenship “How, think you, will the Mohurrum go this year? I think that there will be trouble” — On the City Wall, Rudyard Kipling, 1888.
This Moharram was one of those, after many years, in which there was trouble. The tragic turn of events this past Ashura day in Rawalpindi overshadowed an otherwise peaceful mourning season countrywide. The destruction of the mosque-madrassa complex and murder of 10 men associated with that entity, apparently by some from within the procession, must be squarely condemned. There is no excuse for murder and mayhem. The same goes for those who ravaged several imambargahs later on. As abhorrent as the incidents were, they still seem to have happened because of a breakdown in law and order and classic tit-for-tat sectarian rioting rather than an elaborate CIA/RAW/Mossad plot or Saudi-Iran proxy war that many leaders and analysts in Pakistan are portraying them as. Nonetheless, domestic and transnational jihadists have already pounced on them to exploit the sectarian fault line. Omar Sheikh Khorasani of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Mohmand Agency wing, in an Urdu video statement, has vowed a Syria-like revolt to exact revenge on the ‘apostate’ Shia, ostensibly on behalf of the Sunnis. The banned sectarian outfit Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) reincarnated as the Ahle-Sunnat-Wal-Jamaat (ASWJ) and its jihadist allies are out in full force with preposterous claims about the number of casualties and are circulating gory pictures from elsewhere in the world to drum up sympathy for their rabidly anti-Shia cause.
By most accounts, the trouble started with a faceoff between the Maulvi Ghulamullah Wali Masjid congregation and the mourners in the Ashura procession over a vituperative Friday sermon by the prayer leaders Qari Amanullah and Maulvi Shakir using the mosque’s public address system. People in the procession reacted to Qari Amanullah and Maulvi Shakir’s vitriol and rattled the gates of the complex, eliciting a barrage of stones from the mosque. The hotheads in the procession apparently snatched weapons from the police when it tried to intervene and shot and killed several people. In the ensuing chaos nearby, markets were set on fire and by that evening four imambargahs were burnt to ashes in other parts of the town. It is inconceivable that the Rawalpindi administration would not know that the Ghulamullah Wali mosque has been a sectarian flashpoint for decades. As this newspaper has noted, several members of the SSP/ASWJ were inside the mosque and the adjoining Taleemul Quran seminary. There are reports that the SSP/ASWJ had been rallying their members to converge on the Ghulamullah Wali mosque for the Friday showdown that they intended to induce with the Ashura procession. However, despite knowing the volatile situation full well, the district administration failed miserably to implement the legal restriction on the mosque leader’s loudspeaker use. Even more disgraceful was the police surrendering their weapons, absconding and thus failing to protect the mosque, the markets and the imambargahs.
The district administration and the police are certainly spread thin during Moharram but they always have full information about the route and timings of the mourning processions. All major Ashura processions in Pakistan are licensed, their routes are chalked out in advance and the administration apprised of the itinerary by the licensees and caretakers of the imambargahs. Processions are even delayed or their route tweaked beforehand at the administration’s request to avoid potential conflicts. Once a procession — whether religious or political — is underway, the police and intelligence services monitor its progress and regularly update their superiors about the number and composition of the participants and the anticipated or actual problems en route. The administration apparently neither expected the disaster nor intervened to mitigate it once the tragedy was underway.
There is enough blame, however, to go around. Odious speeches are systematically delivered from many sectarian mosque pulpits to provoke exactly the response seen in Rawalpindi. Many such spiteful sermons constitute what are called ‘fighting words’. However, should even the most hateful of speeches be responded to by violence and destruction? Absolutely not! The mourning procession leaders have a responsibility to their flock and the general population for orderly conduct. While many ordinary members of the Rawalpindi procession intervened to stop their compadres from violence, there is little to suggest that the leadership did much to stymie the mêlée. If the SSP/ASWJ orchestrated to provoke the mourners, the latter’s leadership failed to restrain them and avoid the pitfall. However, the insulting provocation and an injurious retaliation of an emotionally charged crowd notwithstanding, it is ultimately the state making religion a touchstone of the Pakistani national identity that spurs sectarianism. Ultra-fringe elements like the SSP/ASWJ have kept pushing for their version of the faith to become the state religion and for others to be banished from public life and view. The Shias see this as an attempt to relegate them to second-class citizenship. That the state has consistently patronised jihadists that have systematically attacked non-Deobandi/Wahabi Pakistanis does little to alleviate Shia concerns.
The PML-N governments in Punjab and Islamabad have even outsourced the post-disaster damage control to the father of the Taliban, Maulana Samiul Haq, and his ilk. It seems lost on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his associates that less not more religiosity is needed to curb sectarianism in general and to manage the current episode in particular. The state cannot allow clergymen to spread hate throughout the year and then expect them to behave differently for a few days. There is no crash course in tolerance. By skirting its responsibility to take charge, bringing the criminals to book swiftly and sharing facts with the population, the PML-N leaders are letting ASWJ and its allies fill the vacuum and set the stage for the al Qaeda-linked TTP to unleash more terror.
It is not surprising that not just the TTP but all pro-Taliban groups and individuals are closing ranks behind the ASWJ zealots. What is disconcerting though is that many otherwise reasonable people are conflating an isolated riot with the years of brutal terrorist attacks against the Shias. Some, who for years have obfuscated jihadist terrorism, nominally denounced it or just sat on the fence, came out clearly as jihadist partisans. The Shias, on their part, must never waver from the nonviolent course again; they simply cannot afford to lose the moral high ground. The radicalisation of Pakistani society is deeper and broader than it seems. This societal milieu conducive to radicalism, not just the insult and injury in Rawalpindi, is what portends a bigger danger to Pakistan.

Pakistan: Expect Pindi like tragedies

It should surprise us not that senior police officials ran away from the troubled spot when the participants of the procession started firing on the worshippers in a mosque in Rawalpindi last Friday; such acts of selfless bravery by police officials have been observed in other parts of the country as well. Neither should it surprise us that local government officials, in spite of ban on use of loudspeaker, did not stop the management of a mosque from using the sound-amplifier through which the hate speech was being delivered and which ultimately became the excuse for the murderous violence: The police all over the country is notorious for not forcing compliance of government orders. Nor is it shocking that Rawalpindi police was unable to disarm the members of the crowd moving ahead of the Friday procession, in spite of ban on carrying arms in the city--- the attack was started by the arm-bearers in that crowd moving ahead of the procession. Neither should anyone be surprised that there were not enough cops or members of other agencies to intervene in case of violence; though, the mosque was officially declared a sensitive spot with reference to the Friday procession. Similar incidents have happened from time to time in the rest of the country. We should thank our lucky stars or the militants and the rioters who did not target more sites for their terrorist activities; the chances are that they wouldn\'t have met much resistance. Why should we, however, expect anything different when the governments\' machinery, both provincial and government, mostly comprise men and women who have been appointed after bribing or using the influence of their relatives. The police department, like most departments, in almost all provinces, are said to contain even men and women appointed in spite of their long crime sheets in police stations; some even have been convicted by courts. And like all departments there is no dearth of fake degree-holders in police. And like in all departments, except the armed forces, the police department does not give proper training to new appointees. Even if the police does arrange for training, the competence of the appointed trainees is usually so low that they wouldn\'t be able to benefit from it. There also is no weapon with police personnel to match that of the hardened criminals or terrorist; the cops usually have no government vehicles to use during the performance of their duties; their pay is so low that one could even use it as an argument to justify the corruption by cops. There are no proper laboratories or labs manned by appropriately qualified and experienced individual for forensic investigations. And to top it all, the police departments in all provinces are politicised to the extreme. Officials in police department usually don\'t owe their allegiance to the state or the province but to one or another political party or to the individuals in power. The police officers and lowly cops obey all illegal orders from above to stay in their lucrative positions, get promotions or avoid termination. Efficiency, better education qualifications, experience, clean past, dedication to job are all aspects related to merit and merit is the only thing missing in the considerations when making fresh appointments or ordering promotions. It is money or connections that count in these matters. We would be wrong in expecting different from our police and other government departments than what they did in contributing towards the Rawalpindi tragedy if the above situation is not changed while appointing and promoting individuals on considerations other than merit. Policing, especially in the modern age, is costly; there are countries which spend as much money on their police as they do on their defence and recruit as morally and physically fit individuals in the police as they do in their armed forces. Our rulers have to change their attitudes too, the police department is not a necessary evil needed to scare the public of the power of state; it is a tool to help the ordinary people against lawbreakers. Police departments are the first line of defence against violence inside any country. Cops in the modern world are trusted by the common people; they feel physically secure in the presence of police; their first call in distress is to the police station. In Pakistan police is a source of fear; Pakistanis feel insecure when their cops are present; they believe they cannot even register a complaint in the police station unless they have money to bribe the staff there. That is not to say that there are no honest individuals among cops but they are far between and as such not effective. Unless the police departments all over the country are rehashed and re-manned with honest, qualified, dedicated, well-trained, well-equipped and well-paid staff; such incidents as the Rawalpindi tragedy should not surprise us; rather, we should expect more bloodshed caused mostly by the incompetence, non-dedication, dishonesty of our highly politicised police.

Pakistan: Remembering Dr. Abdus Salam

By Malik Atif Mahmood Majoka
On the 21st November comes as death anniversary of undoubtedly the most influential and widely respected Pakistani scientist named Abdus Salam. The scientist belonged to a rare breed of theoretical physicists who immensely contributed towards the pool of knowledge mankind has gathered. Knowledge & wisdom is common heritage of all peoples, and scientists belong and work for common good of entire mankind. Abdus Salam was born into a lower middle class family in north western district of Jhang in undivided Punjab, son of a teacher who received education from state school, shone from very early life. He rose to unassailable levels. Salam showed great commitment to his country when he decided to come back to Pakistan after PhD to teach science at the Govt College, Lahore.
The Punjab government sponsored 1953 anti Ahmadiyya riots unfortunately forced him to flee the country. Abdus Salam always served the cause of Pakistan. He was one of the scientists behind the establishment of Pakistan atomic energy commission. He was instrumental in establishing ICTP at Trieste Italy in 1964 , where he provided opportunities for third world physicists to learn and interact with scientists of international stature. He put every effort in to persuade Pakistani & Arab rulers to allocate funds for the development of science & technology but to no avail. Salam worked with Bhutto government till his community was officially declared out of the pale of Islam through a constitutional amendment on the grounds of controversial beliefs.
Nadir of his career was when he won the most coveted Noble Prize in 1979 for his epoch making contribution towards understanding of nature at very advanced level. Salam\'s major and notable achievements include the Pati–Salam model, magnetic photon, vector meson, Grand Unified Theory, work on supersymmetry and, most importantly, electroweak theory. After his death, Salam remained one of the most influential scientists in his country. In 1998, following the country\'s nuclear tests, he got some recognition when the Government of Pakistan issued a commemorative stamp, as a part of \"Scientists of Pakistan\", to honour the services of Salam.
This unsung hero passed away on 21 Nov 1996, with him went a great ambassador of the country who made huge contribution to enhance the Pakistan’s image across the world. He would certainly live in the hearts and minds of millions for all times to come.

Pakistan Long March Ignored by Media

The Baloch Hal
By Kiran Nazish
About twenty families in Balochistan province of Pakistan are on a journey of protest from one city to another, calling on the government of Pakistan, the UN and the international community to address the issue of Baloch missing persons. But who is listening? Says one of the female marchers, whose husband was abducted in 2010, “The media has been ignoring us. The whole point of this march is to raise the issue of our missing brothers, but how is that possible if the media ignores us? How can we get our message through? The negligence is astonishing.”
The Voice for Baloch Missing Person (VBMP) organized the march, which started in Quetta, the capital city of Balochistan and will culminate as a sit-in in Karachi, the capital of Sind. The march, in which the families will cover 730 km on foot, is an attempt to highlight the issue. But for the first 25 days of the march, which is still ongoing, Pakistani media has been largely ignoring the protestors, which some editors confess is due to fears of reprisal. The marchers are expected to reach Karachi in a few days.
There is no agreement on the figures of those missing. Nationalist groups in Balochistan claim that up to 18,000 Baloch persons and teenage boys are missing, while independent sources claim that more than 6,000 persons have gone missing after being arrested. The issue of Baloch missing persons is not new. Thousands continue to disappear in Pakistan as a separatist movement simmers in Balochistan. The nationalists say that Balochistan was forcibly annexed in March 1948 and demand a separate homeland where they can live in peace. The Baloch militants have fought five insurgencies against Pakistan security forces, with the first four fought in the isolated tribal areas of eastern Balochistan. During the march, relatives of the abducted chant slogans calling on the government and international human rights organizations to acknowledge the issue and investigate the abduction and murders of their brothers and sons.
Among the marchers is the seven-year-old son of Jalil Reki, who was according to the marchers “extrajudicially killed after a year of his disappearance in an ISI torture cell.”
Others include Nasrullah Baloch, whose uncle has been missing for 11 years, Mama Qadeer Baloch, whose cousin has been missing since 2001 and whose son was killed during his detention, and Farzana Majeed, whose brother Zakir Majeed Baloch has been missing since 2009 after his arrest by the Frontier Corp (FC). All of these marchers accuse the military and FC of abducting, torturing and killing their loved ones. Farzana Majeed has been fighting to get information about her missing brothers and has spoken out frequently on the issue. During the march, she protested the media blackout and said, “There are women and children protesting peacefully in this march but the media is turning a blind eye, which shows its inequitable approach towards Baloch people.” Added Majeed: “The media should tell us what is our fault? Why are they ignoring our march for the recovery of our loved ones. We have been marching for the past eight days but the media is completely silent and by ignoring our peaceful and democratic protest the media is pushing us against the wall.”
The Vice Chairman of VBMP, Qadeer Baloch said ”There are some people who are concerned by the awareness this long march can bring and have started to bully the families of the long marchers back in Quetta.” He added, “The houses of several people of those who have openly shown support for the long march have been raided.” The VBMP official asserts that despite the challenges and continuous threat, the march will continue to its final destination. “Those who thought we will get tired in a day or two should know that there is blood gushing from the feet of our sisters and daughters but they are determined to continue the march at all costs.” The Diplomat sought comment from the military, without success. However, according to other sources, Pakistani officials have repeatedly insisted that they are not involved in abducting or killing Baloch. This is contrary to recent statements by the Balochistan provincial government, which has highlighted the issue of Baloch missing persons and has also given its own figures of those missing. According to groups in Balochistan, since June 2010, 730 missing persons have been extrajudicially killed after their arrest and disappearance. Balochistan government officials confirm the extrajudicial killings of 530 personsduring this time.
Early this month when Dr. Abdul Malik, Chief Minister of Balochistan, spoke at the Karachi Press Club about attempts to maintain law and order in Balochistan, he admitted that his government had failed to solve the issue of disappearances. Baloch activists blame his government of not making any efforts to solve the human right abuses carried out in the province. Says activist Faizan Baloch, “It’s a weak government and we did not support the elections, so technically Dr. Malik is not a democratically elected leader.” He adds that the provincial government “has no control over law enforcement agencies to solve the issue of disappearances.” The 20 families of the missing persons from Balochistan meanwhile continue their long march.

Abysmal: 2.3m children remain out of school in Balochistan

More than 2.3 million children have no access to education in Balochistan, geographically the largest and most backward province of Pakistan. Poverty, worsening law and order situation, financial and social barriers combined with the lackadaisical attitude of concerned quarters are major reasons contributing to the sorry state of child education in Balochistan. Ghullam Ali Baloch, the Secretary Education Balochistan told that only 1.3m out of total 3.6m children were going to schools in the province, a figure way below the numbers of other provinces in ten key social indicators including health, education, sanitation, literacy and drinking water. Chief Minister Balochistan, Dr. Malik Baloch admitted that majority of children in Balochistan have been deprived of their right to education. However, he said: “We will bring back these kids to school.” Dr. Baloch's government seems to be determined to ensure quality education to students. For this purpose, his government allocated substantial funds for development of education sector with an objective to open new schools and make the dysfunctional schools functional in every nook and corner of the province. “If we fail to bring these children back to schools, it would be disastrous,” the chief minister said.
Madrassahs and hunger
In marginalised areas of the province, most of the parents opt to have their children admitted in madrassahs (seminaries) due to the absence of schools. “Madrassahs provides food, accommodation and other facilities, something which schools cannot,” Niamatullah Khan, a well-known educationist explained. Children in poor-marginalised settlements of Balochistan either work on daily wages to feed their impoverished families or go to madrassah's to get religious education. Around 3000 seminaries were registered in Balochistan during military dictator and former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf's regime. Sources in provincial industries department told that the number of unregistered madaris (religious schools) was more than 10,000 in the province. The Afghan war in the aftermath of Noor Muhammad Tarakai's Red Revolution of 1978 severely affected the social fabric of Balochistan in general and Pashtun dominated areas in particular. “People in remote areas still consider education as un-Islamic,” Niamatullah Khan said. Apart from this, most of the teachers from other provinces of the country have left Baloch dominated areas as a result of threats to their lives and properties. “There is serious dearth of teachers in Baloch areas as result of the growing insurgency,” Khan said. For the poor parents, they have no option other than sending their kids to seminaries in absence of government-run schools. “Madrassah's teach Islamic education and provides all facilities to my son,” Haji Muhammad Yar, whose son studies in a seminary in Pishin district, which borders with neighboring Afghanistan, told Government-run schools neither provide accommodation nor books to poor students, whereas every religious school is functional and providing books and other facilities to the students.
Little trust in public schools
“There is no education in government-run schools,” Mehmood Khan, who works a private TV channel said. “Despite limited resources, I had my children admitted in a private school since the teachers are doing their jobs,” he opined. The number of primary, middle and high schools across the province is 12,600 with 56,000 teachers. However, the Secretary Education reveals that 2000 schools were not functional and the number of teachers who were not performing their duties was more than 3000. “I have directed the education department to take strict action against absent teachers,” the chief minister said. However, independent sources put the number of absent teachers higher than what is being revealed by the chief education officer of the province. Mujeebullah Gharsheen, the President All Government Teachers contradicts the data of education department and claims that the number of ghost teachers was more than five thousand. He said the number of ghost and dysfunctional schools is more than 6000. "A large number of teachers in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan have been working on fake degrees in educational institutions.
"Even in Quetta city there are 700 teachers working on fake degrees,” he said.
“They enjoy complete impunity,” Gharsheen said.
“The teachers are taking their salaries but not performing duties,” Baloch admitted. He said 95 per cent of schools in the province comprised one room one teacher and only five per cent of the schools had proper rooms and equipments. Most of the government schools were located in Balochistan’s Jaffarabad and Pishin districts whereas Sherani had fewer schools across the province. In most of the government-run schools, there is no check and balance on teachers. Otherwise, most of the government teachers are highly paid. “Every month, government pays around 2 billion rupees to teachers across the province,” an official of the provincial finance department, who declined to be named, said. It is irony of fate that every successive government makes claims for promoting education and improving the living standard of this least developed province. However, ground realities negate these claims. If Balochistan’s ills are to be diagnosed, ‘education must be on the top of the agenda for the rulers’ since it offers solution to all the ills of society.

Five killed, dozens injured in Quetta blast

At least five people including a policeman and a child were killed in a blast that occurred in Quetta Thursday morning, Geo News reported. According to police, a powerful blast occurred near Sarki Road today morning that killed five people including a cop and a child while 25 others were injured. Hospital sources said six of those injured were in critical condition. Several cars and motorcycles were damaged in the blast while a Frontier Corps vehicle was completely destroyed. Nearby buildings were also damaged due to the impact. The bomb disposal squad said that an IED time device was attached to a motorcycle that went off with a blast. Law enforcement agencies reached the site immediately after the blast. SSP Operation Muhammad Jaffar said approximately 7-8 kilograms of explosives having ball bearing and bolts were used in the blast. According to sources, gun shots were also heard after the blast. The dead bodies were shifted to the hospital for medico-legal formalities. Security forces cordoned off the area and initiated investigation. It may be mentioned that two persons lost their lives and nine others sustained injuries in a blast that occurred on Wednesday night in Quetta.

Pakistan's Shia Genocide: A Shia youth martyred, 3 injured, in Yazidi terrorists attack in Karachi
Notorious Yazidi nasbi takfiri terrorists of outlawed Sipah-e-Sahaba shot martyred a Shia youth and injured another three when they made an armed attack on Jafaria Imam Bargah in Karachi on Wednesday night. Shiite News Correspondent reported here that the terrorists stormed into Qasba Colony and sprayed Shia youths with volleys of bullets near Jafaria Imam Bargah. Due to the targeted firing, Danish Rizvi, Adeel, Asad and Meesam were injured. They were rushed to a private hospital for immediate medical treatment. Unfortunately, Danish Rizvi, one of the critically wounded Shia youth, succumbed to the fatal wounds. Body was taken to Imam Bargah Martyrs of Karbala Incholi. Latest reports had it that his namaz-e-janaza was held at the compound of Imam Bargah. Maulana Shaikh Mohammad Hassan, prayer leader of Masjid Khair ul Amal led the prayer. Thousands of people attended the funeral. Shia parties and leaders have condemned the targeted murder of the Shia youth in armed attack on four Shiites. They said that PMLN government and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should learn a lesson from the genocide of Shiites and threats of the Yazidi terrorists that were hurled at the PMLN leaders. They reiterated their demand that a military operation be launched to eliminate the terrorists.

Drone attack kills 6 at Pakistan seminary

A suspected U.S. drone attack early Thursday on a religious seminary believed to be linked to the ruthless Haqqani insurgent network killed at least six people and wounded eight, according to police and witnesses. Residents of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province said the drone fired four missiles at the hardline Taleem-ul-Quran seminary in the garrison town of Thall at around 7 a.m., destroying two of the institutions' mud-built walls. The seminary is run by Qari Noor Ullah, a religious leader affiliated with the Haqqani group, and is located near a major Pakistan army garrison.
It was not immediately clear who the target was and whether he or they were hit. News reports, citing unnamed security officials, said the dead included Mufti Ahmad Jan and Mufti Hameedullah, both members of the Haqqani network. The seminary is in a northwest area populated by Afghan refugees who account for the vast majority of its 150 students, locals said.U.S. drone strikes are controversial in Pakistan, and this was one of the rare attacks to take place in “settled Pakistan” since the program started in 2004. Most take place in the nation’s largely lawless tribal areas. During a meeting in Washington in October, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif urged President Obama to end the strikes. “The latest drone strike is a clear indication that America will not hesitate to carry out such attacks in Islamabad, Lahore or Peshawar,” said provincial information secretary Israrullah Khan Advocate, a member of the Jamaat-e-Islami party in the ruling coalition. Many Pakistanis believe drone attacks kill an unacceptable number of innocent civilians and are an insult to the nation’s pride and sovereignty. But analysts say parts of the Pakistani government have quietly supported the CIA-led program, providing targeting and other key intelligence, even as they decry it in public. Hassan Rahman, a Thall resident, said by phone that several people he didn’t recognize retrieved six bodies and assisted eight wounded people from the debris. Little is known locally about Noor Ullah, he added, although he heard from local intelligence officials that Noor Ullah is affiliated with Gul Bahadur, a senior Taliban commander from neighboring North Waziristan closely linked with the Haqqani group. “The bodies and wounded people were put in ambulances and moved to an unknown location,” he said, adding that neither police nor local residents were allowed to take part in the rescue work. Several drones were flying over Thall and adjacent tribal areas for the past four days apparently hunting for something in particular, residents said. The latest drone strike comes as the provincial ruling party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, has pledged to block trucks passing through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with NATO supplies bound for Afghanistan. Party leader and former cricket star Imran Khan has accused the U.S. government of sabotaging peace talks with the Taliban by carrying out drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Thursday’s attack comes three weeks after Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud died in a drone attack. The U.S. has called on Pakistan repeatedly to crack down on the Haqqani network, among the most feared militants in Afghanistan, which is blamed for a 2011 attack on its embassy in Kabul. On Wednesday, Pakistan said it had received assurance from Washington that the U.S. would not carry out drone strikes against Taliban members when Islamabad was trying to engage the militants in peace talks. It was not immediately clear when or how extensive was the agreement. Pakistani officials were angry over the North Waziristan attack that killed Mehsud, claiming that it came a day before they planned to invite him to hold peace talks. Also Thursday, a bombing in Pakistan’s restive southwest reportedly killed three people, including two policemen, and wounded 25. News reports said the remote-controlled device was planted on a bicycle near a police and paramilitary checkpoint on the outskirts of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province. There were no immediate claims of responsibility, but Baluchistan is the site of sectarian violence and a decade-long insurgency seeking greater autonomy from Islamabad. Most drone strikes in Pakistan have taken place in North Waziristan, the Haqqani network’s base in Pakistan. Washington has repeatedly urged Pakistan to carry out a military campaign in North Waziristan, but Islamabad has balked, arguing that the army is already pressed fighting militants elsewhere. But some analysts say Pakistan may want to exploit the Haqqani network after foreign combat troops leave Afghanistan in late 2014 as a way to extend its influence over its troubled neighbor.