Sunday, December 15, 2013
http://www.usatoday.com/President Obama and his family will again spend the end-of-the-year holidays in his native Hawaii, starting late this week. The First Family leaves for Honolulu on Friday evening, according to the White House schedule. The White House has not announced a return date, but the president is expected to stay in Hawaii until after New Year's Day. Last year's holiday trip was interrupted by a fight with congressional Republicans over the "fiscal cliff," but no such dispute is on the horizon this month. "This will be the First Family's sixth Christmas in Hawaii since he was elected president, and keeping with tradition they are expected to spend it in Kailua. "Every year the Obamas have rented a few houses on Kailuana Place – creating quite the buzz in the beach side community. "'It's exciting. It's really an honor to have him here, and when he's around -- actually the place is super safe because we have all this security around,' said Lanette Hayashi, who lives in the neighborhood where the Obama."
South Africa's first black president Nelson Mandela was given a tearful state funeral in his childhood village of Qunu on Sunday, followed by a traditional burial attended by family and friends. A 21-gun salute and full military honour guard escorted Mandela's coffin to a marquee where 4,500 mourners said their final goodbyes. And, as Stephen Ellis, author of the book “Season of Rains: Africa in the World” and former editor of the African Affairs magazine, said in an exclusive interview with the Voice of Russia, Mandela became the leader for the generations to come. -Mr Ellis, hello and thank you very much for joining the program. Now I'd like you to elaborate on Nelson Mandela's legacy. Why is it so important for the world years after his retirement from politics? -Well, I think he made himself the world's most admired politician in the late 20th century and he didn't just mean something to the people of South Africa but to anybody who follows political affairs or even is just interested in current events anywhere in the world. -Why were so many people including high ranking politicians willing to pay their final respects to South Africa's first black president and who do you think out of all of those invited or all of those who were guests both during the funeral and burial ceremony and during mourning ceremony throughout the week owe Nelson Mandela in this or that way more than others? -There were many people who met him, very sincerely admired him so it is normal that also politicians would want to come and pay their last respects to him in his funeral. But he became as it were political gold dust. So people, active of aspiring politicians wanted to be seen with him because they felt that he transferred some of their glamour to them. And some of the newspapers here in the Netherlands for example and maybe elsewhere have been making the point that we seem to lack somewhat as clear political leadership in the world at present and he filled the vacuum for people who maybe were wanting to look up to somebody. So of the people who were present it's hard for me to say who were the people who he was really closest or for whom he had the greatest admiration but I think it's worth noting when he became president of South Africa in 1994 although he was very much embraced by the US president of the time – Bill Clinton, he insisted on hi right to visit and to praise and to be friendly with people like Fidel Castro of Cuba, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, Yasir Arafat who we regard as fellow revolutionaries. He had no patience with western leaders who told him that he shouldn't be talking to people like that. -And what is your take on the behavior of some of the guests? You certainly heard that scandal about the UK PM and Barack Obama taking photos sort of selfy-style pictures during the mourning ceremony. And they even had to excuse themselves before the international media which was outraged by that behavior. -Well, that is actually news to me because I was ill last week so I was in hospital and I've just come home from hospital. It means that I've missed a lot of the international coverage and I wasn't aware of what you've just told me. But of course taking pictures of yourself or having pictures of yourself taken under these circumstances at a time of great sadness and dignity is not a very smart thing to do. So if that is what they did they had to apologize for it. I think it's pretty stupid and reprehensible behavior. - Mandela was a controversial figure for a much of his life denounced as a Marxist terrorist by critics and nevertheless gained international acclaim for his activism having received more than 200 honors including Nobel Peace Prize, US Presidential Medal of Freedom, even the Soviet Order of Lenin. His deep respect within South Africa often refer to as Madiba or Tata – Father. If there were like five words to describe Nelson Mandela – what would the five words be in your understanding? How would you describe Nelson Mandela, your personal take on this figure? -I don't think I could do it in five words. He was immensely important and I think he was the only person who was capable of presiding over the transition from Apartheid to post-Apartheid government and bringing really all population groups with him. And I must say that certainly since his retirement and up to his death he was deeply respected even by former members of the National Party government. And he was genuinely respected by people from the far right because they can see the depth of his achievement. -Mr Ellis, as an author of the book called Season of Rains: Africa in the World, how has Nelson Mandela changed Africa? How did he make it unique maybe more unique in a way or closer to other nations, closer to the West? How would you describe his role in introducing Africa to the world? -I think as one of his opponents once said the former PM of Rhodesia Ian Smith:'Nelson Mandela is the first statesman that Africa has produced'. And I think that is probably right, he certainly is the greatest statesman Africa produced and somebody who will bear comparison with any of the great political figures of the 20th or so far the 21st century. So that in itself is an achievement. I think he showed the whole world what is possible even in the country with violent history like that of South Africa, that peaceful coexistence is possible and that is something that people have learnt from Africa and from the experience of South Africa. So in that sense indeed it's a universal story but one that happens to come from Africa which is a continent, which is very often being regarded as somehow lugging behind the rest of the world. I think finally I did notice a very interesting point made by former British PM Tony Blair, who said:' Nelson Mandela made racism seem not really immoral but stupid'. In other words before that time it would be impossible for people in the right wing to believe that racial politics was something realistic and even pragmatic and after Nelson Mandela it just seemed very backward and very old-fashioned to hold such a view. Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/2013_12_15/Mandela-filled-vacuum-of-real-political-leadership-of-20th-expert-6370/
The final bankruptcy of American and British policy in Syria came 10 days ago as Islamic Front, a Saudi-backed Sunni jihadi group, overran the headquarters of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) at Bab al-Hawa on the Syrian side of the border with Turkey. The FSA, along with the Syrian National Coalition, groups that the United States and Britain have been pretending for years are at the heart of Syrian military and political opposition, has been discredited. The remaining FSA fighters are in flight, have changed sides, or are devoting all their efforts to surviving the onslaught from jihadi or al-Qa’ida-linked brigades. The US and Britain stopped the delivery of non-lethal aid to the supply depot at Bab al-Hawa as the implications of the disaster sank in. The West’s favourite rebel commander, General Salim Idris, was on the run between Turkey and his former chief supporter and paymaster, Qatar. Turkey closed the border, the other side of which is now controlled by the Islamic Front. The so-called moderate wing of the Syrian insurgency has very limited influence, but its representatives are still being urged by Washington and London to attend the peace conference in Geneva on 22 January to negotiate Bashar al-Assad’s departure from power. Confusion over what is happening is so great that Western leaders may not pay as much of a political price at home as they should for the failure of their Syrian policy. But it is worth recalling that the Syrian National Coalition and the FSA are the same people for whom the US and UK almost went to war in August, and saw as candidates to replace Assad in power in Damascus. The recent debacle shows how right public opinion in both countries was to reject military intervention. Who are the winners in the new situation? One is Assad because the opposition to him – which started as a popular uprising against a cruel, corrupt and oppressive dictatorship in 2011 – has become a fragmented movement dominated by al-Qa’ida umbrella organisation the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil); the other al-Qa’ida franchisee, the al-Nusra Front; and the Islamic Front, consisting of six or seven large rebel military formations numbering an estimated 50,000 fighters, whose uniting factor is Saudi money and an extreme Sunni ideology similar to Saudi Arabia’s version of Islam. The Saudis see this alliance as capable of fighting pro-Assad forces as well as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, but Riyadh’s objections to the latter appears to be based on its independence of Saudi control rather than revulsion at its record of slaughtering Shia, Alawi, Christians, Armenians, Kurds, Turkomans or any dissenting Sunni. The allegation of Saudi control is becoming easier to substantiate. Until a year ago, the Saudis stayed somewhat in the background when it came to funding the Syrian rebels, in which the leading role was played by Qatar in association with Turkey. But the failure of the rebels to win and US anger that the Qataris and Turks had allowed much of the aid to go to jihadis led to an important change this summer, when Saudi Arabia took over from Qatar as chief supporter of the rebels. An interesting example of just how hands-on this Saudi direction has become is illustrated by a fascinating interview given by a top defector from the FSA to Isil, Saddam al-Jamal. Commander of the Liwa Allah Akbar battalion, he was until recently the top FSA commander in eastern Syria, much of which is under rebel control. He recalls that “we used to meet with the apostates of Qatar and Saudi Arabia and with the infidels of Western nations such as America and France in order to receive arms and ammo or cash”. He says Western intelligence operatives had of late been worried about the growing influence of al-Qa’ida affiliates and repeatedly asked him why he was growing a beard. Jamal gives an account of a recent three-day meeting between the FSA commanders from northern and eastern Syria with Western, Saudi, Qatari, Emirati and Jordanian intelligence operatives. This appears to have been soon after the Saudis took over the Syria file from the Qataris. He says the FSA commanders, including General Idris, had a meeting with Prince Salman bin Sultan, the Saudi deputy defence minister who was the leading figure at the meeting. Jamal says that Prince Salman “asked those who had plans to attack Assad positions to present their needs for arms, ammo and money”. The picture that Mr Jamal paints is of an FSA that was a complete pawn to foreign intelligence agencies, which is one reason why he defected. The Saudis subsequently decided that the FSA would not serve their purposes, and were frustrated by America backing away from war in Syria and confrontation with Iran. They set about using their limitless funds to attract into alliances rebel brigades such as the Islamic Front which would be Sunni fundamentalist, committed to the overthrow of Assad, against political negotiations, but distinct from al-Qa’ida. In reality, it looks highly unlikely that Saudi money will be enough to bring down or even significantly weaken Assad though it may be enough to keep a war going for years. The old, supposedly moderate, opposition has been marginalised. Its plan since 2011 has been to force a full-scale Western military intervention as in Libya in 2011 and, when this did not happen, they lacked an alternative strategy. The US, Britain and France do not have many options left except to try to control the jihadi Frankenstein’s monster that they helped create in Syria and which is already helping destabilise Iraq and Lebanon. Turkey may soon regret having given free passage to so many jihadi on their way to Syria. Ankara could close its 500-mile border with Syria or filter those who cross it. But Turkish policy in Syria and Iraq has been so dysfunctional in the past three years that it may be too late to correct the consequences of wrongly convincing itself that Assad would fall. The Geneva II peace conference on Syria looks as if it will be born dead. In so far as the FSA and its civilian counterparts ever repres-ented anyone in Syria they do so no longer. The armed opposition is dominated by Saudi-sponsored Islamist brigades on the one hand and by al-Qa’ida affiliates on the other. All US, British and French miscalculations have produced in Syria is a re-run of Afghanistan in the 1980s, creating a situation the ruinous consequences of which have yet to appear. As jihadis in Syria realise they are not going to win, they may well look for targets closer to home.
Please tell us a little about yourself, Ebrahim and his connection with the other prisoners Ebrahim is a prominent political figure – he’s been the Secretary General of Bahrain’s secular National Democratic Action Society (NDAS) – the Wa’ad party – since 2007. I’ve been married to him for 28 years. I’ve been a women’s rights activist since I was 17 and have been president of Bahrain’s first women’s rights organization. I’m currently the head of the NDAS’ Women’s Bureau and work as an evaluation specialist in Bahrain’s Ministry of Education. Ebrahim (pictured on the “stamp” image right, with ‘Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja
A Saudi Arabian political activist was sentenced to four years in prison, 300 lashes, and a travel ban after calling for a constitutional monarchy. He is the fourth member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) to be jailed this year. ACPRA’s Omar al-Saed, 24, was jailed after the organization called for democracy and made statements criticizing the country’s ruling family over its human rights record, Reuters reported. Al-Saed berated the motivations behind his imprisonment via the ACPRA website in a statement released by the group on Friday: “I am the proud prisoner Omar Mohammed al-Saed. I read out to you the motives and causes of my imprisonment: my hatred of injustice, the fabrication of pain and misery, taking advantage of passive attitudes, treating them as if they were fools, and denying them their livelihoods for brutal personal ambition,” he said. Al-Saed was not allowed legal representation at the secret hearing in which he received his sentence, according to an ACPRA statement. The judge denied that the session had been kept secret, but al-Saed rebutted that for a session to be public, it must be announced prior to its taking place so that proper representatives are able to attend and people can bear witness to its proceedings. “This unjust sentence is an honor and pride to Omar al-Saed and a disgrace and shame to Judge Issa al-Matrudi,” the activist’s brother, Abdullah al-Saed, tweeted after learning of the sentence late on Thursday. “It's just another troubling instance of Saudi authorities' absolute refusal to countenance any activism or criticism of Saudi policies or human rights abuses,” Adam Coogle, a Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch told Reuters on Sunday. A spokesman for the country’s Justice Ministry would not confirm the accuracy of the report to the agency. Media in the country is strictly self-censored. Political dissent or criticism of the dominant Wahhabi (Sunni) royal family is not tolerated, and protests are outlawed. At the end of November, two Saudi men were arrested for offering ‘free hugs’ to passersby, on the grounds that they were “indulging in exotic practices” and offending public order. Amnesty International has spoken out against the regime’s oppressive practices, releasing a report titled “Saudi Arabia: Unfulfilled Promises” in October. The report slammed the country for failing to implement any of the main recommendations they accepted under a previous review by the Human Rights Council (UNHRC) which took place in 2009. Saudi Arabia remains one of the top five executioners in the world. The death penalty is still applied to a wide range of non-lethal crimes such as adultery, armed robbery, apostasy, drug smuggling, kidnapping, rape, “witchcraft,” and “sorcery.” Since 2009, appeals by the growing human rights movement in the country have been met with harsh measures such as arbitrary arrests, detention without charge or trial, unfair trials, and travel bans, Amnesty stated.
After a funeral service attended by 4,500 guests and watched by millions worldwide, Nelson Mandela's body was laid to rest in his boyhood home in Qunu.
http://www.pajhwok.com/President Hamid Karzai on Sunday said India was among the countries supporting Afghan youth in the education sector, acknowledging New Delhi’s crucial role in enhancing his country’s capacity. Currently on a four-day state visit to India, Karzai is accompanied by a high-level delegation that also participated in the conference “India and development partnerships in Asia and Africa: Towards a new paradigm”. A statement from the Presidential Palace in Kabul said Karzai made the remarks in his key note address at the two-day conference organised by Symbiosis International University and the Ministry of External Affairs. Welcomed by two Afghan students holding their country’s flag, Karzai called India one of the most important countries in supporting and developing Afghanistan, particularly its education sector. Extension of electricity lines from the northern zone to Kabul, construction of the parliament building, a power dam, Indira Gandhi Child Hospital in Kabul and providing thousands of scholarships to Afghan students illustrated New Delhi’s support for Kabul, Karzai added. “We have witnessed India’s active support in facilitating Afghan students. The students returning from India are better serving their motherland,” the president said. Karzai delivered the address on the second day on the topic 'Afghanistan-India partnership for development.' He also interacted with international students of the university at a special session on the future of education.
The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) has expressed heightened interests in combating child abuse, exclusion from education and lack of access to health services. Child abuse has reportedly increased by 28 percent since the last year.1- Over 300,000 kids and teenagers are addicted to drugs 2- On average, over one hundred cases of child molestation occurred in Kabul. 3- 51 percent of the respondents worked in a way. 4- 25 percent of the respondents worked on the borders of the country. 5- 76 percent of the respondents don't have access to healthy water. 6- Close to 2,000 kids all over the country are disabled. 7- Millions of kids are excluded from education. 8- 46 percent of the girls marry before the age of 18 and 15 percent before turning 15. 9- 12 percent of the respondents have reported being discriminated due to being female. "No parent likes their kid doing harsh works, but due to large family sizes or drug addiction of some of the fathers, kids have to work. This is while these children need to play and have fun, but they have to work from morning to evening," said Seema Samar, AIHRC Director. "The Commission is seriously concerned with those who get away with child molestation," Child Rights Coordinator Najeebullah Babrakzai said. "Bacha Bazi or boy-molestation is an alarming issue that we have researched and we consider this notion of Bacha Bazi to be the reason for child molestation." This AIHRC said corruption was one of the main forces that perpetuated child abuse by protecting abusers. This Commission called on the government to take initiative and curtail the trend.
Judging by the reaction of Pakistan’s Deobandi politicians and journalists over Abdul Quader Molla’s hanging, one should not be blamed if one thought that in Bangladesh an innocent man of God has been lynched by a mob. On 13 December 2013, Abdul Quader Molla, a top leader of Jamaat-e-Islami was hanged for raping Bengali women and mass killing Bengali men and children. The unspeakable horror Abdul Quader Molla wreaked on his innocent victims was that they wanted to live as free human beings in their own homeland. But Abdul Quader Molla wanted them to continue to be slaves of the corrupt generals of then West Pakistan. We will not go into the details of what Jamaat-e-Islami did to the people of East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, because it is all available on the Internet. What we would like to note is the sheer insane and arrogant reaction by the Deobandis and Takfiri-Deobandis in Pakistan to the hanging of a super terrorist who was also a third-rate human being. Led by Pakistan’s pro-Taliban Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Khan, the Takfiri-Deobandis not only condemned the hanging, but also justified the rape of thousands of Bengali women and mass killing of Bengali men, women and children. Chaudhry Nisar Khan spoke for his government when he termed the hanging unfortunate and a tragic step. “There was no doubt that Molla was hanged because of his loyalty and solidarity with Pakistan in 1971. . . . Every Pakistani is saddened and grieved over his death. . . . It would have been better if the Bangladeshi government had shown farsightedness‚ large heartedness and magnanimity instead of opening old wounds. (Read: http://tribune.com.pk/story/645071/nisar-expresses-grief-concern-over-bangladesh-jamaat-leaders-execution/) Chief of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan and pro-Deobandi cleric, Munawar Hassan, decried his Bangladeshi comrade’s execution as deplorable. In a stement published in Pakistani newspapers, Munawar Hasan said: “Molla embraced martyrdom with a smile on his face. His unflinching spirit is commendable. His execution at the hands of a “slanted” war tribunal is nothing but a mockery of justice”. Going forward, JI Ameer also picked apart the government of Pakistan for being ‘criminally silent’ over Molla’s unjust hanging. He added that Molla indeed became a victim of patriotism. (Read: http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-130104-Mollas-execution:-JI-to-stage-Pakistan-wide-protests-today) Similar statements were issued by leaders of banned Deobandi outfit Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP, currently operating as ASWJ) and other Deobandi clerics, politicians and media persons of Pakistan. 11 Just for record, here is a brief snapshot of crimes of the rapist-murderer who is being eulogized by Deobandi clerics and politicians in Pakistan: “They banged her two-year-old brother against the floor until he died, her two sisters were slaughtered, another was raped, and her pregnant mother was shot dead. She lay hidden beneath a cot, transfixed, numb with fear, watching these ghastly scenes being enacted before her eyes. She struggled in vain to not shout but gave in to the horrific incident and let her pain come out loud. Then, it was her turn, to be brutally raped. In the evening of Mar 26, 1971, Jamaat-e Islami leader Abdul Quader Molla and several other Biharis forced into the residence of Hajrat Ali Laskar in Mirpur. Ali was shot at, his pregnant wife and her two daughters aged 7 and 9 years were slaughtered.” (Read: http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2013/09/19/momena-seals-mollas-fate) The Jang Media Group’s daily The News titled its report on the hanging as “BD JI leader buried amid violence”. The “violence” in Bengadesh it reported was this: “In Dhaka, Jamaat-e-Islami activists torched at least four cars and a motorcycle near the country’s main railway station, said Shahzadi Sultana, a fire main railway station, said Shahzadi Sultana, a fire official. Several homemade bombs were detonated during the attack, Somoy TV reported.” (Read: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-27263-BD-JI-leader-buried-amid-violence) In Dhaka, a city of 20 million people, “at least four car and a motorcycle” is violence for a pro-Taliban publication like The News! But The News was not alone in sensationalizing the non-event of the pro-Jamaat-e-Islami ‘violence’. Urdu daily Jang, a sister publication of The News, did the same. It reported that protest rallies were staged all over Pakistan, as if a Pakistani had been killed! Jang informed its readers that the entire country of Bangladesh was rocked by protests resulting in a number of killings. The ‘high’ number of protesters killed, by Jang’s own admission, is six! (Read: http://jang.com.pk/jang/dec2013-daily/14-12-2013/main.htm) Similarly, the far-right Nawa-e-Waqt came up with front-page coverage of the death of the Jamaat-e-Islami rapist-mass murderer. Like The News and Jang, it cited that all over Pakistan, people protested the killing and offered funeral prayers for the man (Read: http://www.nawaiwaqt.com.pk/E-Paper/Lahore/2013-12-14/page-1/detail-20). In its editorial Nawa-e-Waqt wrote, “This is not what happens in civilized societies” (Read: http://www.nawaiwaqt.com.pk/editorials/14-Dec-2013/265362). What about the rape and murder of hundreds of thousands of Bengali men and women? Certainly that was a hallmark of a civilized army and its Deobandi-Salafi supporters. But it were the Deobandis columnists who truly cried foul in support of the rapist-mass murderer. For instance, Ajmal Niazi, a right-wing columnist and conspiracy theorist, claimed an Indian conspiracy behind the hanging. Holding Hasina Wajid responsible for the hanging and calling her a stupid woman, he dubbed the hanging “a shameless affair”. He went on raving and demanding, “Pakistan must not sit silent over the hanging and act. Otherwise it will cowardice on our part” (Read: http://www.nawaiwaqt.com.pk/columns/14-Dec-2013/265545) Another columnist, Nawaz Raza, said, “The death of Abdul Quader saddened Pakistani politicians. In the National Assembly and the Senate, legislators were a picture of gloom and sadness over the cruel act of the Bangladesh government’s hanging of the man who fought for the existence of Pakistan” (Read: http://www.nawaiwaqt.com.pk/columns/14-Dec-2013/265396). But it was two infamous Takfiri-Deobandi journalists who shed tons of crocodile’s tears. Oraya Maqbool Jan, the most infamous Takfiri-Deobandi journalist, wrote a column on Abdul Qader Mulla’s hanging which can be considered a landmark in the history of journalistic absurdity. It is a must-read column which is comprised of voodoo history, alchemy, and necromancy. Only a separate editorial, indeed a research paper, can deal with. But we would cite just one claim he makes, “On account of Pakistan’s having been hijacked by certain elements, not many eyes in the country have shed tears on the hanging. Those eyes which are not shedding tears on the death of those who sided with the Pakistan army, will not shed tears for those who have supported the Pakistan army in Baluchistan and Swat” (Read: http://dunya.com.pk/index.php/author/orya-maqbool-jaan/2013-12-14/5342/26526939#.UqxJi_QW1Wl). Another Deobandi columnist, Khalid Masood Khan, used extremely flowery Urdu to mourn the hanging of Abdul Quader calling it “a heart-rending death of the man who was hanged by a kangaroo court for being a support of the Pakistan army and the Two Nation Theory” (Read: http://dunya.com.pk/index.php/author/khalid-masood-khan/2013-12-14/5346/77423249#.UqxOr_QW1Wl) Scores of examples can be given showing how Pakistan’s Deobandis have reacted to the hanging of a mass murderer. The point is: No Takfiri-Deobandi has said a word about the hundreds of thousands of innocent Bengalis killed for their ‘crime’ which was their just and legitimate demand to live as free people. Pakistan’s National Assembly led by Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League, an ally of Sipa-e-Sahaba (ASWJ) and the Taliban (TTP), offered prayers for the rapist-mass murderer. It is the same Takfiri-Deobandi mindset which has allowed the massacres of Shias, Sunni Barelvis, Ahmadis and Christians in Pakistan. This mindset has no respect for human rights and people’s right to self-determination. The only evil the Takfiri-Deobandis see is the opponent who happens to have a different view than theirs. - See more at: http://lubpak.com/archives/296433#sthash.DE5dXUP8.dpuf
APPPakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf chose Lahore for its protest meeting against inflation on December 22, but its chairman does not utter a single word when it comes to price hike in Peshawar and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In a press conference on Saturday, Imran Khan held Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) responsible for increasing inflation in the country, but he did not take responsibility for surging prices in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. According to independent observers and analysts, the question is simple whether PTI government has reduced prices in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Opposition senators from the PPP and Awami National Party questioned on Thursday the government’s ‘silence’ over the blockade of Nato supply routes by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and its allies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and asked the government to clarify its position on the issue. “Why has the federal government abdicated its constitutional role and allowed political parties to block Nato supplies,” PPP parliamentary leader Raza Rabbani said while initiating a debate on the government’s foreign policy. “Can this be taken as a tacit approval of the federal government?” he asked. Mr Rabbani put 52 questions before the house and asked the government to clarify its stance on issues such as talks with the Taliban, Afghan policy, drone attacks, ties with India, and Pak-Iran gas pipeline project. He asked the government to brief the house about the gist of visits the prime minister recently paid to the US and Afghanistan and the US officials’ trip to Pakistan. Haji Adeel of ANP claimed that by blocking roads in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa people of that province were being deprived of their sources of income because protesters were also stopping containers and trucks that were carrying goods under the Afghan Transit Trade. He said the federal government was watching this as a spectator. He regretted that no one stopped Nato supplies when weapons were being transported to Afghanistan through these routes but the same were being blocked now when foreign troops were about to leave the region. The ANP leader said Afghanistan is a sovereign country and his party would strongly resist interference in its affairs. He asked the government to grant citizenship to those Afghans who were born in Pakistan. During the question hour, the Senate was informed that by Nov 27 a total of 1,082 cases of missing persons had been registered. In a written reply, Minister of State for Interior Balighur Rehman informed the house that the number of missing persons in the Commission of Inquiry of Enforced Disappearances stood at 813 and the number of cases pending before the Supreme Court was 304. He said 14 cases were pending before the Lahore High Court, 174 before the Sindh High Court, 101 before the Peshawar High Court and 22 before the Balochistan High Court. Forty cases were registered in Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Senate Chairman Nayyar Bokhari deferred the question when members from Balochistan expressed dissatisfaction over the reply, saying that the number of cases belonging to their province was not correct. Meanwhile, responding to a call-attention notice moved by Moula Bux Chandio of PPP, Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafiq said there was no proposal under consideration to close 450 small railway stations. He, however, said Railways was not in a position to open those stations that had already been closed, particularly the ones between Hyderabad and Badin. Mr Rafiq said that in line with the Supreme Court’s decision, they were writing letters to all chief ministers to seek possession of Railways’ land. He said the issue was being taken to the Council of Common Interests. “If the issue is not resolved, we reserve the right to go to the court,” he added.
Abdul Quader Molla of Bangladesh’s Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) became the first person accused of atrocities during the country’s independence war to be hanged. Whereas a number of senior leaders of the JI in that country are behind bars awaiting trials on similar charges, it fell to the lot of Molla to be the first to have his trial completed and be sentenced to death. A last minute hoped for reprieve when the Supreme Court took notice proved infructuous when the court refused to reverse the death sentence. There has been concern internationally that the tribunals trying the accused for their role in massacres carried out by the JI’s militias, Al Badr and Al Shams against intellectuals and ordinary citizens in what was then East Pakistan do not meet the highest international standards of fair trial. There also does not appear to be in place a proper appeals process to ensure justice is not only done, but is seen to be done. The surprising fact is that these trials and the hanging of Molla come 42 years after the events that finally led to the emergence of Bangladesh as an independent country following an army crackdown, an indigenous insurgency led by the Mukti Bahini and a relatively short war with India that saw the Pakistan garrison in the eastern wing cut off and finally forced to surrender on December 16, 1971. The shame and ignominy attached to the whole Bangladesh episode was so embarrassing that the political and military establishment that followed the Yahya military junta responsible for the crackdown and atrocities in East Pakistan thought discretion the better part of valour. Even Mr Bhutto’s Hamood-ur-Rehman Commission report was suppressed. This was in line with the mood that gripped the remaining Pakistan’s elite: brush the whole tragic episode under the carpet and pretend it never happened. As a result, not only did we fail to learn any lessons from the tragedy, we have continued to repeat the same mistakes again and again and been responsible for subsequent generations being kept ignorant of this bloody chapter in our history, so much so that millions of young people today in Pakistan may not even know that Bangladesh was once part of Pakistan or the reasons why it separated. Not only this, we have never formally apologized for the atrocities visited on our Bengali brothers and sisters. It should not surprise us therefore that whereas the government and the foreign office have acted with restraint so as not to appear to be interfering in the internal affairs of a sovereign country with which we enjoy good relations bilaterally and as a member of SAARC, the Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali has once more tooted a tune at variance with that restraint. Sounding like an ultranationalist JI spokesman, the feisty minister’s statement painted Molla as a hero of Pakistan, whereas Molla and his ilk helped ensure because of their bloodletting that East Pakistan would definitely break away, sooner or later. How does that make him a hero? This is like saying General Yahya, responsible squarely for the breakup of the country, should be considered a hero of Pakistan. Or, if the argument is stretched further, like our JI declaring an enemy terrorist like Hakeemullah Mehsud a shaheed (martyr). The JI, however, is not in power. Chaudhry Nisar’s party, the PML-N, is. How can the prime minister allow one of his ministers to shoot off at the mouth from time to time without even a nod at the government’s policy stance? Pakistan still has much to answer for vis-à-vis Bangladesh. Had we shown even a modicum of the large heartedness Chaudhry Nisar would have liked Bangladeshi Prime Minister Hasina Wajid to show in Molla’s case, we would have formally apologised to our brethren and sisters in Bangladesh soon after the tragedy, or at the very least at some point in the last 42 years. Sadly, we did not, and have now convinced ourselves it is so much water under the bridge and there is no need now to even contemplate such a possibility. We should not attempt to wax indignant in matters concerning our erstwhile eastern wing, given the above sad facts. While our moral standing in these matters is weak, to say the least, there are nevertheless issues with Molla’s hanging that do not sit easily with rational minds. First, the length of time that has transpired since the crimes for which he was convicted, the advanced age of the accused, reservations about the trial and appeals process all militated against the death penalty in a world increasingly moving away from the ultimate and irreversible punishment. Under the circumstances, perhaps deprivation of liberty for life of the accused may have proved more appropriate, avoided the taint of either revenge (versus reconciliation a la the late lamented Mandela) or political partisan motivation. This last suspicion is rooted in the domestic divide in Bangladesh in the approach to upcoming elections, which have pitted the ruling Awami League against the main opposition Bangladesh National Party and its close ally, the JI. The violent reaction to the hanging strengthens this argument. Avoiding hanging would also have avoided offering the ultra-nationalists like Chaudhry Nisar and our JI the opportunity to make political capital out of this turn of events and causing diplomatic embarrassment in our relations with Bangladesh.
http://www.thenews.com.pk/Between two trucks on an abandoned, garbage-strewn railway, teenagers openly shoot up drugs as children pass by on their way to school -- a daily scene in Karachi, where heroin is undermining Pakistan´s efforts to combat the spread of HIV.
Peshawar High Court (PHC) Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan observed on Friday that judiciary would not allow anyone to create Karachi-like situation in Peshawar come what may. “The anti-state elements and criminals are also active in Peshawar to create Karachi-like situation as doctors and businessmen are being kidnapped in daylight and people’ houses are being bombed to harass and compel them to pay extortion money,” the PHC chief justice said during hearing of bail petition of a retired police officer who was charged with demanding extortion from a local businessman. Taking notice of the surge in extortion demands by unknown persons from respectable citizens, a single bench headed by the chief justice issued notice to Inspector General of Police (IGP), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, asking him to constitute a team of senior investigators to unmask and punish those involved in this heinous crime. He said that it was the responsibility of the law-enforcing agencies to protect citizens and their property. “The heads of the law-enforcing agencies and police force would have no justification to work on their posts if they fail to curb extortion, target killings and kidnappings for ransom,” he said. The bench also asked the provincial and federal governments to take the issue seriously and bring the cases of the people involved in these crimes before the courts for trial. Shahidullah, counsel for the accused retired police officer, Ashiqur Rehman, submitted that his client was arrested on the charges of demanding Rs5 million through phone calls from Mujeebur Rehman, the owner of private car bargain centre. He submitted that his client was falsely charged in the case as there was a money dispute between the two. On the other hand, Mujeebur Rehman’s lawyer submitted that he had received 150 phone calls from various SIMs demanding the extortion money. He said there was also a videotape on record about the identification of the accused in the case. However, the court granted bail to the accused person with the observation that the evidence against him was not sufficient to keep him behind bars.