Monday, December 30, 2013

Russian Music

Lenin Statue Toppled, Reinstated in Ukraine

A statue to Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin was toppled in the central Ukrainian town of Vatutino on Sunday night only to be put back in place several hours later, the UNIAN news agency reported Monday.
“A group of unidentified persons detached the monument from the pedestal and toppled it. But it turned out that the statue, made of plaster and bricks, was solid enough to sustain the fall. Only the back of Lenin’s head and his cheek were slightly damaged,” the agency said.
Municipal workers put the statue back in its place on Monday morning and fixed it there with a layer of concrete.
A number of Lenin statues across the country have been vandalized since early December amid ongoing protests against the government’s decision to halt a landmark political and free-trade deal with the European Union and, instead, opt for stronger ties with Russia.
The first and most notable act of vandalism took place in the capital, Kiev, on December 8, when a landmark statue of the founder of the Soviet Union was torn down by pro-European protesters in symbolic defiance of Russian influence. Hours later, another statue of the Soviet leader was vandalized in the southern town of Kotovsk.

Syria: US, Europe begin to realize they need Assad to stay in power - expert

Syrian President Bashar Assad has sent a private message to Pope Francis. Assad confirmed his readiness to participate in next month’s peace talks, but noted that outside countries must stop supporting terrorist groups in the country’s civil war. The message was delivered by Syria’s minister of state Joseph Sweid, who arrived to the Vatican to hold talks with the pope’s secretary of state Archbishop Pietro Parolin and foreign minister Archbishop Dominique Mamberti. The Voice of Russia talked to Alan Hart, veteran middle east journalist with a long record of covering Syrian matters, to get a deeper insight into the issue.
Alan, why did President Assad send a message to Pope Francis? Do you think the Roman Catholic Church and Pope could play a key role in bringing violence in Syria to an end? What do you think?
Well, this Pope is I think proving to be a good guy. But you know, it is a big open question mark is whether there is any point in these talks. I mean, they are still scheduled, but I think the Obama Administration and the Europeans don't know what the hell to do. And frankly I think your own foreign minister Lavrov was probably correct when he indicated the other day by implication that behind close doors the Americans and the Europeans are probably beginning to realize that they actually need the Assad regime to stay in power. Its forces of violence, Islamic fundamentalism, all the jihadists are to be prevented from having a permanent base in Syria from which they create regional and possibly global havoc. But you know, there is one big test for me for this meeting and it is whether Iran is going to be allowed to participate or not.
To me that is the key. I mean, I agree with your foreign minister and president and I agree with the UN chief negotiator for the problem but Obama has got a huge problem. I think he is smart enough to understand that he needs Iran to be at the table, but of course the Zionist lobby in America plus its stooges in Congress, plus Israel's Arab state allies of convenienceled by Saudi Arabia don't want Iran there. So the question for me is – does president Obama have the balls, as we say in English, to defy the Zionist lobby and Saudi Arabia's allies?
Alan, my question is – do you think the talks are going to be delayed once again? I mean, you know, president Assad said that he was ready once again to participate in next month's peace talks. Surely they could be delayed, couldn't they? Well, I'm sure they could but as I said I think the thing is – the Obama Administration and the Europeans don't know what the hell to do. But for me everything hangs on whether they are wise enough to have Iran included and to have Iran at the table. But I would currently be very pessimistic about the talks' starting and whether they can contribute to ending the obscene killing and slaughter and destruction.
You've been monitoring everything very carefully, I know. Do we have any sort of inside information of what the current situation is concerning the opposition?
No, I mean, they seem to me to be divided but they do seem to be universally, I mean not many correspondents are reliable while they are on the ground there. It is too dangerous. But the impression I'm getting from those who are there and some of the humanitarian organizations is that the jihadists are actually according the shots on the rebel side. This is very dangerous, isn't it? It is not in anybody's interest. I mean, Putin has every reason to be fighting the jihadists, but, for God's sake, so is America. That is the one thing the Americans and the Russians should have in common, not only 'what can we do to stop this jihadist conflict?', but 'what can we do to stop the jihadists getting grand?' Do you think the opposition is going to split even further? Do you think we are going to see even more groups within this opposition? I think we may. I mean, I think the opposition currently is virtually useless and the non-jihadist opposition currently even agree amongst themselves. I mean that is just a terrifying mess, so it is perhaps not surprising that the Americans and the Europeans don't know what to do. So peace is going to be a long way away, don't you think, Alan? It is going to take a long time. I think so, but I've written a piece today saying that I think all the members of the Security Council and that includes the old government, I think, because of their failure to make the UN Security Council to stop the slaughter and the killing, frankly I think they are war criminals by default.
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Sun ‘flips upside down’ while reversing magnetic poles

The sun has undergone a “complete field reversal,” with its north and south poles changing places as it marks the midpoint of Solar Cycle 24.
“A reversal of the sun's magnetic field is, literally, a big event,” NASA’s Dr. Tony Phillips said in a statement issued on the space agency’s website.
“The sun's polar magnetic fields weaken, go to zero and then emerge again with the opposite polarity. This is a regular part of the solar cycle,” Stanford solar physicist Phil Scherrer explained.
While it may seem like the event could have catastrophic repercussions for the galaxy, its effects are actually more subtle, mostly interfering with space exploration.
“Cosmic rays are a danger to astronauts and space probes, and some researchers say they might affect the cloudiness and climate of Earth,” said Phillips.
Both the aurora borealis and its southern counterpart - the australis - are set to become broader, more frequent, and more visible now that the event has reached its final stage. The process has been slow and steady, with solar physicist Todd Hoeksama telling Metro: “It’s kind of like a tide coming in or going out. Each little wave brings a little more water in, and eventually you get to the full reversal.” Scherrer explained earlier in December that “the sun's north pole has already changed sign, while the South Pole is racing to catch up.”
The impact of the process has been extremely far-reaching.
“The domain of the sun's magnetic influence (also known as the 'heliosphere') extends billions of kilometers beyond Pluto. Changes to the field's polarity ripple all the way out to the Voyager probes, on the doorstep of interstellar space,” Phillips explained. NASA has released a visualization of how the switch occurs. Beginning in 1997 and ending in 2013, it shows the green (positive) polarity switching with the purple (negative) polarity. Solar Cycle 24 has been viewed as quite unpredictable. First, it came late by about a year, with extremely low activity recorded throughout 2009. This prompted astronomers to shift a predicted 2012 peak to 2013. Scientists say the cycle is already among the weakest reported and if the trend continues, the Earth might see another Little Ice Age.

Obama and Clinton Top ‘Most Admired’ List Again

President Barack Obama is the most admired man in America for the sixth year in a row, and Hillary Clinton is the country’s most admired woman, according to a survey out Monday.
Each year Gallup asks Americans to name the living man and woman they most admire. In 2013, 16 percent named Obama, a strong showing but down significantly from the 30 percent Obama drew in 2012. Former President George W. Bush and Pope Francis each earned 4 percent while Bill Clinton and Billy Graham got 2 percent each.
Hillary Clinton earned the Most Admired Woman designation for the 18th time, more than any woman in Gallup’s history. The 15 percent she earned in 2013 is down from 21 percent last year. Behind Clinton is Oprah Winfrey with 6 percent, and Michelle Obama and Sarah Palin, with 5 percent each.
Read more: Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton Top ‘Most Admired’ Survey |

Women in Saudi Arabia are caught in a system of gender apartheid

Author Elham Manea
No professional or vocational training, no visits to the doctor, no lawsuits without male approval: Yemeni-Swiss political scientist Elham Manea bemoans the plight of women in Saudi Arabia.
I will never forget the words of my father when he turned down an offer to work at our Yemeni embassy in Saudi Arabia in the mid-80s. He simply said: "I have a daughter!"
His words came back to me this October 26, when more than 60 Saudi women's activists got behind the wheels of their cars protesting against a ban on women driving in the kingdom. Their demand symbolized in a nutshell what it means for a woman to live in Saudi Arabia: perpetual minors in a system of gender apartheid. Saudi Arabiais the only country in the world that outlaws this right of driving. And yes, depriving a woman of the right to drive serves the purpose of controlling her physical mobility and hence independence. But focusing on the right to drive misses the whole spectrum of the issue.
Systematically treated as perpetual minors
Women in the Kingdom, a 2008 Human Rights Watch report maintains, are systematically treated as perpetual minors through a system instituted by the state that infringes on their basic human rights.
In other words, every adult Saudi woman, regardless of her economic or social status, must obtain permission from her male guardian to work, travel, study, seek medical treatment or marry. She is also deprived of making the most trivial decisions on behalf of her children. This system is supported by the imposition of complete sex segregation, which prevents women from participating meaningfully in public life.
Sex segregation is strictly monitored by the government's Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (the religious police) in all workplaces with the exception of hospitals. Unlawful mixing between sexes leads to the arrest of the violators and criminal charges. The brutality of the members of this commission and the unequal punishments men and women receive when committing the same 'crime of mixing' was best described by the Saudi writer Samar Al Muqren in her novel "Ni'saa al Munkar - Women of the Abominable," published in 2008, which she wrote based on her work as a journalist. Reinforcing discriminatory gender roles The ramifications of this system of male guardianship and sex segregation are felt by Saudi women in their daily lives. In the field of education, the general framework of education is tailored to reinforce discriminatory gender roles and what the authorities consider as suitable to "women's nature and future role as wives and mothers." In addition, women's and girls' access to education depends on the good will of male guardians, whose permission is essential for their educational enrollment. Sex segregation undermines women's right to equality in education, especially when female university and professors are often relegated to unequal facilities with unequal academic opportunities. In the field of employment, the Saudi labor code, which came into force in 2006, repeated a former stipulation decreeing that in line with article 4 of the code, which requires adherence to Sharia, "women shall work in all fields suitable to their nature" (article 149). The result is that Saudi women continue to be marginalized almost to the point of total exclusion from the Saudi workforce.
Both public and private sector require female staff to obtain the permission of a male guardian to be hired, and employers can fire a woman or force her to resign "if her guardian decides for any reason that he no longer wants her to work outside the home." In jobs in clothing stores, amusement parks, food preparation and as cashiers, guardian permission is no longer required. However, strict sex segregation in the workplace is imposed and female workers are prohibited from interacting with men.
The male guardianship system jeopardizes Saudi women's fundamental right to health. Depending on the religious orientation of those working in hospitals, health officials may require guardian's permission for a woman to be "admitted, discharged, or to administer a medical procedure on her or her children." A recent example occurred this July: After a car chase by religious police left the driver dead and his wife and daughter in critical condition, King Fahd Hospital in Baha postponed amputating the wife's hand because she had no male legal guardian to authorize the procedure.
Women under this system are denied their legal capacities, rendering them unable to make decisions for themselves. And as legal minors their ability to access and engage with the courts and the government is severely constrained without a guardian. Some of these limitations border on absurdity; mostly they have grave consequences. For instance, women were granted in 2001 the right to an independent identification card; yet this right, which is optional, still requires a guardian's permission to be granted!
Excuse me, may I sue you?
More gravely, it is nearly impossible for victims of domestic violence to independently seek protection or obtain legal redress because the police often insist that women and girls obtain their guardian's authorization to file a criminal complaint, even when this complaint is against the guardian! Moreover, even when women manage to file a domestic violence case, often the measures taken against the perpetrators are flimsy and shameful. For example, in May, Jeddah's Summary Court convicted a man for physically abusing his wife to the point of hospitalization, but sentenced him to learning by heart five parts of the Quran and 100 sayings of the Prophet Muhammad.
Finally, Saudi Arabia applies a personal law system based on the Hanbali School of Islamic Jurisprudence, the most strict and literal among the Sunni schools of jurisprudence. The result is that a male guardian has the unilateral authority to marry off his female ward without her consultation and to dissolve a marriage he deems unfit.
Given the effects of this system of guardianship and segregation on women's lives, it comes as no surprise that Saudi women activists have been the most vocal against this system of apartheid. In their shadow report prepared for the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 2008, they argued that this principle of "imposing the guardianship of a male over the woman all her life in Saudi Arabia is linked to the inferior look to women and her traditional role in society and family."
Alliance between king and radical clerics
The perception is certainly inherent in the Wahabi Salafi interpretation of Islam. What makes it relevant though is the Saudi regime itself, because its state's apparatus is the one faithfully implementing Wahabi gender doctrines. An alliance between the Saudi dynasty and the Wahabi establishment has meant that in return for legitimacy, the religious establishment will have a free hand in applying its conservative and reactionary religious provisions in areas of social norms and women's lives. This has made the difference between Saudi Arabia and other countries of the Arabian Peninsula, including Yemen. Survival for the kingdom has meant dependence on the Wahabi religious establishment for legitimacy. It may introduce some measures to make life "less restricted" for women, but the core of "inferiority" still remains the same. The kingdom is also very wary that women's demands for change may turn to an overall social movement for political change. Given the kingdom's shameful records in citizenship and human rights, democracy and good governance, the fear is realistic.
Subsequently, a real change in Saudi gender apartheid system is not likely in the near future. In the meantime, women will continue to bear its consequences - living as perpetual minors segregated by law from their male fellow citizens. It seems my father was right after all: Life for a woman is better elsewhere.

Happy New Year Song | Happy New Year 2014 Piano Instrumental

Beautiful persian Love Song

Pashto & Urdu Song: By Ismail Junaid

Arabian Belly Dance

Syria's Assad urges fight against Saudi religious ideology( Wahhabism )

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad Monday called for a battle against Wahhabism, the political and religious ideology embraced by the Saudi government.
The comments came amid ongoing tensions between the two countries, which are fiercely opposed to each other.
"President Assad said that extremist and Wahhabi thought distort the real Islam, which is tolerant," state news agency SANA said.
"He underlined the role of men of religion in fighting against Wahhabi thought, which is foreign to our societies," the agency said.
Wahhabism is an ultra-conservative Muslim tradition, which is predominant in Saudi Arabia and applied to both religious and political life. Assad's remarks during a meeting with religious clerics from Lebanon come a day after Saudi King Abdullah accused the Syrian leader of "destroying his country".
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Volgograd blasts: IOC 'confident' Games will be safe

The International Olympic Committee president says he has confidence that Russian authorities will deliver a "safe and secure" Games in Sochi.
Thomas Bach wrote to President Vladimir Putin to express condolences for the two deadly attacks that struck Volgograd within 24 hours.
Investigators say the attacks on a
railway station and trolleybus, while killed at least 31 people, were linked. They struck just over a month before the Winter Olympics begin in Sochi. Volgograd was also targeted in October, when a suspected female suicide bomber killed six people in an attack on a bus. The city is in the same broad geographical area as Sochi and the timing of these three attacks suggests they may be inspired by the Games, says the BBC's Moscow correspondent Daniel Sandford. In a statement, Russia's foreign ministry did not blame any particular group but likened the attacks to acts by militants in the United States, Syria and elsewhere. It called for international solidarity in the fight against "an insidious enemy that can only be defeated together", reported Reuters news agency. Regional Governor Sergei Bozhenov said the bombings were a "serious test" for all Volgograd residents and all Russians.
Russians nervous
Investigators say at least 14 people were killed in a suicide bombing on a trolleybus in Volgograd on Monday morning. It came a day after 17 people died in another suicide attack at the central station in the city. Scores were injured in the two attacks.
In his statement, Mr Bach said he was "certain that everything will be done to ensure the security of the athletes and all the participants of the Olympic Games", which open on 7 February. But correspondents say despite intense security in Sochi, Russians are palpably nervous that following these attacks in Volgograd - which lies 700km north-east of Sochi - bombers could also strike elsewhere. No-one has admitted carrying out either bombing, but they came several months after Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov threatened new attacks against civilian targets in Russia, including the Olympics.
Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the Investigative Committee - Russia's main federal investigating authority - said identical explosives were used in the two attacks.
"This confirms the theory that the two attacks are linked. It is possible that they were prepared in the same place," he said.
President Putin has ordered security measures to be tightened across Russia and in particular in Volgograd. Busy market The latest explosion took place near a busy market in Volgograd's Dzerzhinsky district. Maksim Akhmetov, a Russian TV reporter who was at the scene of the blast, said the trolleybus was packed with people going to work in the morning rush hour. He described the scene as "terrible", adding that the bus was "ravaged" and that there were "bodies everywhere, blood on the snow". Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova said the injured include a pregnant woman, two 16 year olds and a baby aged about six months whose parents are assumed dead. The regional governor announced five days of mourning. The force of the explosion removed much of the bus's exterior and broke windows in nearby buildings. "It is now possible to preliminarily say that the explosive device was set off by a suicide bomber - a man whose body fragments have been collected and sent for genetic testing," the Investigative Committee said in a statement. The first blast rocked Volgograd-1 station at lunchtime on Sunday, when it was packed with people travelling to celebrate the New Year.
An Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus region has led to many attacks there in recent years. Insurgents have also attacked major Russian towns.

Russian Foreign Ministry: terrorist acts in Volgograd organised by single pattern

Terrorist acts in Volgograd, as sorties of terrorists in the United States, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and other countries, are organised by a single pattern and have common inspirers, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported.
“Within the past 24 hours dozens of peaceful civilians, including women and children, fall victims of the terrorist acts in Volgograd. The investigation is underway. Medical aid is being provided. The lists of victims are being specified,” the report says. “A new attack, which was cynically planned on New Year Eve, is another attempt to open an internal ‘front’, play havoc and chaos, and provoke inter-ethnic feud and conflicts in the Russian society. We won’t rebuff and continue the severe and consistent struggle against a treacherous enemy who ignores borders and can be stopped only by joint efforts. The criminal sorties in Volgograd as the terrorist attacks in the U.S., Syria, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan are organised by a single pattern,” the ministry said. “Amidst continuing provocative calls from gang group heads like as Doku Umarov for consolidating forces under the Jihad flag and involving new militants the positions by certain politicians and spin doctors, who divide terrorists into ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ depending on geopolitical goals, are becoming more and more destructive,” the ministry said. “Such stances led to the most tragic consequences. Terrorism is a crime and punishment should be inevitable. Today terrorism should be condemned,” it said.
Russia expresses deep gratitude “to all world leaders, who following a statement by the U.N. Security Council of December 29, 2013 denounced the terrorist acts in Volgograd”. “We praise the statements by many world leaders, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and representatives of other international organisations,” the ministry said. Russia considers the global community’s position “their resoluteness to fight terrorists where they were and what slogans they used to justify criminal actions”, the ministry said.

At Least 14 Killed in Second Volgograd Suicide Bombing

A fatal bomb explosion ripped apart a trolleybus in Volgograd on Monday morning, killing at least 14 people and injuring 28, in the second terrorist attack in the southern Russian city in less than 24 hours.
Several of the wounded, who officials said included a six-month-old infant, are in serious condition.
Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said that investigators believe a male suicide bomber carried out the attack, which he said was linked to another fatal bombing in the city on Sunday afternoon.
Authorities believe the first explosion, which killed 17 people and injured more than 40 at the Volgograd-1 railway station, was also the work of a suicide bomber.
Markin said that remains of both suspected bombers, which were recovered at the scenes, are undergoing DNA testing. Monday’s blast marks the third such attack in Volgograd in two months, and comes just weeks before Russia is due to host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in February in the city of Sochi.The bomb detonated in a trolleybus, packed with morning commuters, at about 8:10 a.m. (0410 GMT), the Investigative Committee said.
Television footage filmed at the scene near a market in the city’s Dzerzhinsky district showed debris strewn across the street around the blackened shell of the trolleybus, its roof blown outward by the explosion.
“I left the house and heard a loud bang and screams of people,” an eyewitness told television channel Rossiya-24. “I saw what had happened. At first I didn’t realize that it was a trolleybus, it was completely destroyed. Everything was blown out, not only the glass but even the walls. People ran.”
State television said the force of the blast also blew out the windows of the nearby houses. Local resident Sergei Stukalov told RIA Novosti that passengers began getting off buses and trams and walked to work after hearing about the attack.Officials were forced to quell rumors of additional bombings after reports appeared on some social media pages about other explosions in the city.
“It’s panic,” said regional Interior Ministry spokeswoman Svetlana Smolyaninova.
Alarm briefly spread to Moscow, when reports emerged that Red Square had been briefly evacuated after a woman dropped a bag on the ground and ran away. Russian tabloid LifeNews said that police caught and detained the woman, who it claimed was mentally ill.
President Vladimir Putin has ordered a tightening of security throughout the country after the attacks. He met with the heads of the Federal Security Service and Interior Ministry on Monday, sending FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov to Volgograd to help handle the aftermath. Putin also asked for daily reports from the National Anti-Terrorism Committee on measures to bolster security in Volgograd, a committee spokesman told journalists. World leaders and organizations condemned the bombings. The head of the European Union’s delegation in Russia, Vygaudas Usackas, said that he was shocked to learn of the second attack, adding: “I condemn the latest bombing in strongest possible terms and trust that organizers will be brought to justice.” Putin has expressed his condolences to families of the blast victims, but has yet to make a more detailed address about the attacks. Authorities in Volgograd on Sunday announced three days of mourning at the start of New Year in memory of the victims of the first attack. The government will also pay compensation to relatives of the victims. Families of each person killed will receive 1 million rubles ($305,000), and between 200,000 to 400,000 rubles ($6,000 to $12,200) will be paid to the families of injured people, Emergency Situations Ministry head Vladimir Puchkov said. Terrorist incidents have persisted in southern Russia despite the authorities' efforts to step up security precautions ahead of the Olympics, which open on February 7 and are a major prestige project for Putin and Russia. Sochi is located about 430 miles (690 kilometers) from Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad, which remains best remembered for the grueling siege it endured during World War II.
Six people were killed and 37 injured in another terrorist attack in Volgograd in late October, when a bomb carried by a young woman from the southern republic of Dagestan went off while she was traveling on a crowded commuter bus. On Friday, a car bomb killed three people in the city of Pyatigorsk, which is 530 kilometers south of Volgograd and 270 kilometers east of Sochi.The cities blighted by the latest attacks are located in and near the North Caucasus, a volatile multiethnic region that suffers frequent attacks on officials, police and civilians by local Islamist militant groups. The violence is rooted in a separatist struggle in the unruly republic of Chechnya in the early 1990s, which has evolved into an Islamist insurgency that has spread to neighboring predominantly Muslim republics, particularly Dagestan, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria.
Most of the militants responsible for terrorist attacks in Russia over the last decade – including female suicide bombers who have taken part in 20 attacks claiming at least 780 lives since June 2000 – have come from Dagestan

The Times names Vladimir Putin 'Person of the Year'

An influential British newspaper, The Times, has named Russian President Vladimir Putin its “Person of the Year”. The newspaper says that 2013 has become the year of great accomplishments for the Russian leader. The newspaper’s editors hail him for Russia’s stance on Syria, the country’s policy in relation to Ukraine, and Putin’s relationship with the opposition at home.
Earlier, Putin was reported to have become Russia’s politician of the year with 44 percent of Russians expressing their support to him. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (8 percent) and Foreign Minister (7 percent) finished second and third respectively, Valery Fyodorov, the chief of the Russian Public Opinion Research Center, announced.
Vladimir Putin tops the rating for the tenth year in a row.
At the end of October, he also was ranked first in the Forbes 2013 list of the world’s most powerful people. Barack Obama, who topped the rating last year, came second this time. The Russian leader happened to be in the Forbes top three of the world’s most powerful people in 2011 and 2012.
Apart from Putin, the Forbes 2013 ranking also included Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (61st place), businessman Alisher Usmanov (67th place), and Gazprom head Alexei Miller, who closes the rating.
According a the Levada Center poll, 52 percent of Russians “have a favorable impression” of Putin, one percent down from 2012. 47 percent support his policy (48 percent in 2012) and 31 percent are against him (with 29 percent last year). In general, Vladimir Putin’s rating is persistently high and insignificant volatility of polls doesn’t make much difference, political scientists believe.
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New afghan song 2013 - 2014

Polling Comes to Afghanistan, Suggesting Limit to Sway of President Karzai

Afghanistan — In the 12 years since the United States helped oust the Taliban, Afghanistan has held four national elections. But Afghans are only now experiencing a phenomenon that has been upending conventional wisdom in more established democracies for decades: polling. Three recent polls are giving Afghans a crash course in front-runners, horse-race coverage and candidates who eagerly dismiss any numbers that do not put them out front, topics familiar to Americans.
With the focus on fighting a war and rebuilding the country, there has been little publicly available polling done here for the two presidential and two parliamentary elections.
But now, before the presidential vote in April, Afghans are finding out which politicians have popular appeal ahead of the voting. How the information plays out remains to be seen, but it appears that Afghans — and the Western diplomats who are watching the campaign — would do well to heed an axiom of electoral politics: Do not trust the conventional wisdom.
Exhibit A appears to be the ability of President Hamid Karzai to influence the election. The widely held view in Kabul is that the candidate Mr. Karzai decides to back will be favored to win. As the sole elected leader in Afghan history, he is uniquely influential in a country where politics center on personalities, not political parties. At the same time, he controls the machinery of the state — the police, a growing bureaucracy, even the schools.
Most of the candidates appear to believe they need his support. Of the 11 men currently running, 10 have sought his blessing and support. But Mr. Karzai has yet to endorse any of them. Even if he does, a poll conducted for the State Department by Glevum Associates, a research company based in Washington, indicates that the ability to influence voters simply by endorsing a candidate may be far more limited than most here believe.
Among the 2,148 likely voters surveyed by Glevum, 85 percent said they would not be swayed if Mr. Karzai decided to endorse a candidate or that it would not matter. The poll, conducted through face-to-face interviews and obtained ahead of its release on Sunday, has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus about two percentage points.
The poll results did not offer a clear sense of what accounted for Mr. Karzai’s apparently limited influence. In many respects, those polled seemed to want a candidate much like Mr. Karzai: 61 percent would vote for someone who wanted to open talks with the Taliban, 51 percent thought it was important to have good relations with Pakistan and 71 percent wanted positive relations with the United States, as the Afghan leader says he does. Yet his refusal to sign a deal that would keep American and European troops here beyond next year did not appear entirely unpopular, according to the poll. Only 40 percent of those surveyed said it was important that candidates wanted to keep foreign forces here after 2014.
Nearly 90 percent said they would not vote for a candidate with a history of corruption. But almost every candidate has faced allegations of graft, and the Afghan government is considered among the world’s most corrupt.
Aimal Faizi, a spokesman for the president, said neither he nor Mr. Karzai had seen the poll. But “these polls are a new experience for Afghans,” he said. “People are suspicious about why they are being done, about the possible motivations behind them.” Mr. Karzai has no plans to endorse any candidate, Mr. Faizi said, adding that the president wanted only to see a peaceful election “that is free of influence from the government — and interference from outside of Afghanistan, as well.” Mr. Karzai is particularly fearful of interference from the United States, which he believes tried to unseat him in the 2009 elections. American officials insist that their sole intention is to help Afghanistan, not get involved in its politics. The poll was intended “to help promote inclusive, credible, and transparent elections in Afghanistan,” the United States Embassy in Kabul said in a statement. An American diplomat said that the survey was the first of nine planned polls conducted by three different companies. The United States was paying for polls because most Afghan institutions lacked the wherewithal and the money to do polling themselves.
“We realize it’s a new phenomenon, but it is not directed against anyone here, including President Karzai,” said the diplomat, who discussed the thinking behind releasing the poll only on the condition of anonymity.
But Mr. Karzai may well have reason to view the poll favorably. It found that the front-runner, with support from 29 percent of those surveyed, was Ashraf Ghani, a former World Bank expert who was most recently one of the president’s aides. Mr. Ghani is among three candidates Mr. Karzai is considering backing, said Afghans close to him. Abdullah Abdullah, a candidate in 2009 and an opposition leader, was supported by 25 percent in the survey. The rest of the candidates all polled under 10 percent, with three in a statistical tie for third place. They included Zalmay Rassoul, a former foreign minister who was seen as an early leading candidate largely on the belief that he had Mr. Karzai’s backing. Mr. Ghani’s rise to the top of the field represents another chip away at the conventional wisdom that had developed here in the absence of any solid numbers. Mr. Ghani’s previous run for the presidency, in 2009, yielded about 2 percent of the vote and earned him a reputation as an out-of-touch technocrat whose constituency consisted largely of Western diplomats.
The two other polls, both of which were released in the past week, put Mr. Ghani in second place. The more respected of the two, by Democracy International, a group based in the United States that promotes democracy, found that 25 percent of the 2,500 people surveyed would vote for Mr. Ghani if the election were held the day they were questioned. Mr. Abdullah, who ran second in 2009, was out front with 31 percent. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus about two percentage points, and the poll was conducted through face-to-face interviews.
The Democracy International poll also found that 86 percent of Afghans surveyed had confidence in Mr. Karzai.
The third poll by Tolo News, an Afghan television channel, and ATR Consulting, a research company in Kabul, placed the candidates in roughly the same order as Democracy International. Though Tolo’s telephone poll was far less exhaustive — it released only results ranking the candidates — its poll has garnered the most attention in Afghanistan. Tolo is the most-watched network here, and the candidates who placed near the bottom of the pack in its survey were quick to lash out.
“The poll was full of bias in favor of one particular candidate,” said Said Hussain Alimi Balkhi, a vice-presidential candidate. His running mate, Gul Agha Shirzai, a former warlord and provincial governor, polled in the low single digits in all three surveys.
Mr. Balkhi did not specify which candidate he was talking about, but he suggested that Tolo had been paid off — an allegation familiar to Mr. Shirzai, who has been accused of corruption and opium trafficking by Afghan and Western officials. Mr. Shirzai is far from the only member of the political elite who stands accused of corruption, and each of the four elections since 2001 has been marred by ballot stuffing and other irregularities.
In Afghanistan, “everyone goes into an election thinking they’re the front-runner when they’ve got 8 percent of the vote,” said Andrew Garfield, the president of Glevum. “It’s harder to steal votes when everyone knows how much support you really have.”

CNN Poll: Afghanistan war arguably most unpopular in U.S. history

Support for the war in Afghanistan has dipped below 20%, according to a new national poll, making the country's longest military conflict arguably its most unpopular one as well. The CNN/ORC International survey released Monday also indicates that a majority of Americans would like to see U.S. troops pull out of Afghanistan before the December 2014 deadline.
Just 17% of those questioned say they support the 12-year-long war, down from 52% in December 2008. Opposition to the conflict now stands at 82%, up from 46% five years ago.
"Those numbers show the war in Afghanistan with far less support than other conflicts," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "Opposition to the Iraq war never got higher than 69% in CNN polling while U.S. troops were in that country, and while the Vietnam War was in progress, no more than six in 10 ever told Gallup's interviewers that war was a mistake." The U.S. timetable for Afghanistan calls for the removal of nearly all troops by roughly this time next year, and that can't come fast enough for the vast majority of Americans. Just over half would rather see U.S. troops withdrawn earlier than December 2014. Only a quarter say that America should still have boots on the ground in Afghanistan after that deadline. Fifty-seven percent say the conflict is going badly for the U.S. and only a third say America is winning the war in Afghanistan.
"Independents have a much gloomier view of the war in Afghanistan than Republicans or Democrats," Holland said. "That may be because a Republican president started the war and a Democratic president has continued it, so there may be some residual support among people who identify with either party."
Some 2,300 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan since the war began in the autumn of 2001. The U.S. is quickly drawing down its forces in Afghanistan. If a bilateral security agreement that would keep up to 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the end of 2014 isn't signed in the near future, the U.S. could withdrawal all forces from Afghanistan at the end of next year. The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International between December 16 and 19, with 1,035 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
The discontent evident in the CNN poll is also seen in two other national surveys conducted earlier this month. Two-thirds of those questioned in an ABC News/Washington Post poll said the war has not been worth fighting, and an Associated Press/GfK survey showed 57% saying the U.S. did the wrong thing in going to war in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan Billions of dollars have no bearing on poor's fate: Report

By Farhad Naibkhel
Ministry of Economy (ME) on Sunday published its 4th Millennium Development Goals report (MDGs) which revealed that despite inflow of billions of dollars in donation lifestyle of poor had not been changed during past 10 years due to lack of investment in the sustainable economic projects, designed to end poverty in the country.
Minister of Economy, Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal, said that in order to follow MDGs, Afghanistan must decrease poverty from 36 percent to 24 percent by 2015 and to 21 percent by 2020. “But considering economic progress and investment in the regard, still a long way is ahead to achieve the objectives,” said the minister during a press conference here.
He said that investment in agriculture is a great aspect to fight poverty, but unfortunately only five percent of donated amount have be invested in agriculture sector during last decade. Afghanistan is an agricultural country, where due to lack of proper irrigation system only 25 percent of agrarian lands out of 100 percent came under cultivation in last ten years. Agriculture is one of the most vital sectors for creating employment opportunities as well as to ensure food security. Thus, all concerned national and international organizations shall concentrate over the agrarian projects to deal with the challenges. According to the MDGs report, Afghanistan had great made tremendous progress in education and health sectors in the past decades. Improvement of women and gender equality was also observed, significantly.
Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (MAIL), Mohammad Asif Rahimi, said that despite achievements in agriculture sector, still there was laying ahead a long road to cross and achieve the goals by 2020.
While highlighting the achievement, he said that wheat production has been increased to 5.3 million tons and all corps to 6.5 million tons in 2012, which demonstrate 100 percent increase when compared to 2002. Production of almonds jumped from 19,000 to 59,000 tons and grapes from 350,000 tons to 650,000 tons.
Regarding the challenges in the agriculture sector, the minister said that due to lack of sufficient budget around 2.2 million hectares agrarian land out of eight million came under cultivation in the last decade. “In order to cope with poverty the government shall focus over development and mechanization of agriculture. Moreover, providing transport facilities to farmers and access to markets is also important for development of the agriculture sector. In order to achieve the goal around one billion dollar is required to invest over the agriculture and agrarian related projects in the country,” the minister added.
Minister of Rural and Rehabilitation Development, Wais Ahmad Barmak, said that according to international MDGs report, Afghanistan was at 138 in 2007 in the list, and came down to 129 in 2011, which shows progress.
He said that in order to provide life and social facilities to locals nearly $1.8 billion has been spent over rural development programs across the country in the past decade. Around, 80,000 projects had been launched in different provinces, where till date over 70,000 of the projects have been completed.

Afghanistan: 1st snowfall in Kabul brings joy & hassle

The winter’s first snowfall on Monday thrilled residents of this central capital, but caused commuters and pedestrians a lot of inconvenience.
The belated snowfall in Kabul began an hour after midnight and continued intermittently as of midday, raising hopes of abundant water availability next spring.
Capital roads saw a string of accidents, as pedestrians fell because of slippery conditions. As a result, many workers reached offices several hours behind schedule.
Ministry of Interior spokesman Siddique Siddiqui wrote on Facebook he left home at 7.30am but reached office at 9.30am. A number of capital residents waited for taxis, while others walked to work to avoid getting late. Daud, coming from Dasht-i-Barchi to Taimani area, complained of a fare hike.
Daud told Pajhwok Afghan News today he paid 30 afghanis in taxi fare, compared with 10 afs that passengers are routinely charged. Along the way, he saw many people falling on the road. But a coach driver, who plies the Kota Sangi-Qambar Square road, insisted that he charged the routine fare of 10afs. Salim believed the snowfall represented good news for taxi drivers.
Jamal, a resident of the fifth police district, is an NGO employee. He reached his office three hours late, as his car went off on the road. “We pushed it right up to our office,” he added.
Mohammad Ishaq Noori, the meteorology department head, told Pajhwok last week there would be less snow this year due to climate change. During the past two months, temperatures have been high but dropped considerably in the last few days, Noori had said, predicting the snowfall would continue until Aril 2014. Afghanistan is an agricultural country, with most of its population’s dependent on income from crops and livestock. Snowfall during the winter is a vital source of irrigation water in the country. Majid Qarar,a the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock spokesman, said if there were no snowing in next three weeks, rain-fed agricultural lands would be affected.

Afghanistan: Ashraf Ghani emerges as leading candidate in pre-election survey

According to a new survey report, Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai has emerged as the leading candidate as compared to other presidential candidates.
Glevum Associates and its Afghan research partner AIRC in its latest survey report ‘Afghan Presidential Pre-Election National Opinion Survey Findings’ revealed that Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzay currently has a 4-point lead over his nearest rival Doctor Abdullah Abdullah (29% compared to 25%, respectively).
According to a statement released by Glevum Associates, the survey was conducted in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan, with around 2,500 Afghans questioned about the upcoming elections. The survey report consists feedbacks of 2,148 likely voters, which was conducted between November 27 and December 3, 2013 using face-to-face interviews.
Glevum Associates in its statement said that the sampling margin of error is + 2.11 with a 95% level of confidence. For subgroups, the margin of error is larger.
The survey report also revealed that Abdul Qayoom Karzai is next most popular with 8%; Professor Sayaf is at 6%; Zalmay Rasool 6%; and Rahim Wardak 5%. All other candidates are below 5% at this time. About one in ten likely voters (11%) remain undecided.
A large majority (89%) say that they would not vote for a candidate with a history of involvement in corruption. Similarly, 78% indicate that they would not vote for a candidate with a history of human rights violations, according to the survey report. Glevum Associates in its survey report also stated that a majority of those surveyed (59%) would or might vote for a female candidate for President. Fully 82% would or might vote for a candidate who asked a woman to run as a vicepresident. Half (50%) think it important that a presidential candidate supports women having more freedom.
In the meantime, 49% of the respondents insist that the new president must address the security issues, while 17% insisted on economic issues and only 6% of the likely voters said that the new president must address education. The respondents were also questionned regarding the relations of the candidates with the United States, where a larger majority (71%) would vote for a candidate who wants positive relations with the United States.
Meanwhile, a sizable minority (40%) considers it important that candidates should want to keep some international troops in Afghanistan after 2014, according to the survey report.

Pakistan: Rs 15 lacs spent on President’s portraits from national treasure

Around Rs 15 lacs was spent from national treasure on the portraits of the President Mamnoon Hussain which would be put on the President House’s lounge walls.
Meanwhile, the presidential spokesperson said that it is not good to spend so much money on the portraits, adding that the issue would be investigated. Mamnoon Hussain as a president of Pakistan hired a photographer Qamar Pervez from Lahore for the photo shoot. Family members of the president also have their photo shoot from the same photographer which costs Rs 1.5 lacs.

Five Killed, Including Two Children, In Separate Pakistan Attacks

Five people, including two children, have been killed in violence across Pakistan.
Two police officers were killed and another was injured in an attack on December 30 in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi. A local police official told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal that four unknown attackers on motorcycles opened fire at the police officers near a Shi'a mosque. Earlier on December 30, an apparent bomb planted outside a house in the Charsadda district of the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa killed a woman and two children. The chief of the local police station, Hassan Khan, told RFE/RL that the dead were members of one family. Two other members of the same family were taken to hospital with injuries. Charsadda lies close to Pakistan's troubled northwestern tribal region where troops have been locked for years in deadly battles with insurgents.

Pakistan Needs a Mandela

Kashif N. Chaudhry
One of the world's most celebrated heroes passed away this week. Nelson Mandela was known for his persistent and heroic struggle against the South African apartheid -- a system of racial segregation enforced through legislation after World War II -- under which the rights of the black population were severely curtailed. Social discrimination was wanton, ugly and frequently violent.
Mandela's stance is best stated in his quote: "During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal, which I hope to live for and to achieve. But, if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."
Many Pakistani friends on social media shared Mandela's inspiring quotes in celebration of his grand legacy. They showed great admiration for the man who spent his life fighting for the equal rights of his people. They were in awe of his tireless struggle for the emancipation of blacks from the callous discrimination they faced in South Africa.
I was happily surprised, yet confused. These were the same people who endorsed -- and continue to endorse -- the anti-Ahmadi laws of Pakistan in a recent debate. They justified the continued persecution of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan. How could a person celebrate Mandela's fight against discrimination in his society and condone the same bigotry against a community at home? How can we love the doctor and the disease he fights, at the same time?
Today, Pakistan is the only country in the world to deny a section of its citizens the basic human right to identity. Ahmadi Muslims are forbidden calling themselves Muslim by the State's constitution. Through the same abuse of legislation, the state denies its Ahmadi citizens the basic freedom of speech, peaceful assembly and worship as promised by the United Nations Charter of Human Rights and the very preamble to the constitution of Pakistan. Ahmadi Muslims live under continued threat of imprisonment for "posing as Muslims" -- a vague phrase that is left to the mullah's (cleric's) interpretation and includes everything from writing 'inshAllah' (God willing) on a wedding card to sacrificing a lamb on Eid, from saying the Salam (Islamic greeting of peace) to reciting verses from the Quran. Hundreds have been rounded up for such 'crimes' since the promulgation of the anti-Ahmadi laws in 1984. While applying for Pakistan's national identity card and passport, Pakistani Muslims are routinely required to prove their 'Muslimness' by attesting to the non-Muslim status of the Ahmadis and by insulting the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. This de jure persecution comes along with its more opprobrious de facto counterpart. The hatred against Ahmadis in society is well known and well documented. Religious clerics regularly demonize the Ahmadiyya community and call for further banishment of its members. Many radical clerics openly call for the death of all Ahmadis. Ahmadis are regularly discriminated against at work places and schools. All 23 Ahmadi students enrolled in a popular medical college, for instance, were expelled in the recent past, following strong protests by right-wing student groups. Sporadic incidents of expulsions on the basis of faith are commonplace. Boycotts are routine. Posters and banners presenting Ahmadis as traitors of the country and Islam are plastered all across the country, including academic institutions, businesses, bus stops and random walls. Anything remotely linked to the Ahmadis is met with calls for restrictions and bans. The bigotry against the Ahmadis is so deep it is hard to quantify. The hatred is so widespread it cannot be measured. Reminiscent of the South African apartheid, the Ahmadi community is viciously ostracized in Pakistan today -- and has been for the last many decades. Mandela was not merely a person. He represented a noble cause. If my Pakistani friends' admiration for him is true, they have the perfect opportunity to become a Mandela of their own. All they need to do is raise their voice for equal rights and equal status of their Ahmadi citizens. They must call for the repeal of all discriminatory amendments in Pakistan's constitution and all such ordinances passed in law that take away Ahmadis' fundamental human rights. They must speak up against the rampant hatred against Ahmadi citizens and embrace them as their fellow countrymen -- equal in all regards. They must ensure an end to the never-ending hate speech and calls for violence against the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. Like Mandela, they must also live by his goal of a free and equal society and they must be prepared to die for it. South Africa was lucky to have him. Pakistan's own apartheid now calls for a Mandela.

Number of polio cases reach 82 in Pakistan this year

The number of polio cases in Pakistan reached 82 this year with five new cases reported in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas as the crippling disease remained endemic in the country. Four cases were reported from North Waziristan Agency and one from South Waziristan Agency. The infected children are aged between 10-28 months. A health official said polio vaccine was not administered to these children, Express Tribune reported today. On Saturday, the number of cases in Pakistan was reported to reach 77, up by nineteen from the whole of last year. With the new cases, the count has increased to 82 this year. Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where the polio virus is still endemic. Violence against vaccinators and suspicions about the polio vaccine were cited as reasons for the increase in cases. The Pakistani Taliban and other militant groups hampered efforts to immunize children, denouncing the vaccines as a "western plot" to sterilize Muslims and a cover for spies. A polio worker was killed on Saturday and two others injured when unidentified gunmen attacked Peshawar's Matni Hospital in northwest Pakistan. The gunmen opened indiscriminate fire after entering the hospital and fled from the scene. Polio vaccinator Zahid Gul was killed instantly and two others sustained severe injuries. Polio campaign teams have been under constant attack in Pakistan's restive northwest by the Taliban and its allies. On December 21, unidentified militants gunned down a polio worker in the Jamrud Tehsil area of Khyber Agency. On December 13, gunmen had attacked two separate polio teams in northwestern Pakistan, killing one polio worker and two guards.

Pakistan's Shia Under Attack: Police officers killed outside imambargah in Rawalpindi

The Express Tribune News
Two police officers were killed and another injured in a firing incident in Rawalpindi, Express News reported on Monday. The officers were deployed for the security of an imambargah in the Race Course area of the city. Police said four unidentified armed men attacked the police officers. The injured – who is in critical condition – was taken to a hospital for medical assistance.

Pakistan: PTI’s road blockade attracts veiled complaints from Afghan officials

A Pakistani trade delegation’s talks with Afghan counterparts and senior functionaries were overshadowed by veiled complaints from the hosts about the ‘unpredictability’ of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s land route due to protests and insecurity.
Trade delegates, who just returned after a three-day visit to Kabul, told Dawn that Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s road blockade at Peshawar had added salt to injury for Pakistan’s trade with Afghanistan, making Afghans to go for other options to fulfill their import needs.
“They told us in plain words that Pakistan is no more their first option for bilateral and transit trades,” said Zahidullah Shinwari, president of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
A delegation of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, involving 21 businessmen and professionals from Karachi, Peshawar and other cities, undertook a three-day visit to Afghanistan from December 23. Ziaul Haq Sarhadi, a director of the joint chamber, said Afghan businessmen and officials expressed displeasure over the ongoing road blockade at Peshawar.
“They complained that the road blockade in the name of stopping supplies to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has proved a last nail for the normal trade, adding to their costs of doing business with or via Pakistan,” said Mr Sarhadi.
The echoes of complaints about obstacles to normal trade because of the blockade made rounds during the delegation’s meetings with Afghans during the visit, according to delegates.
“We were not feeling comfortable about easing restrictions on trade with Pakistan because of troubles at home,” said Mr Shinwari when asked about the level of confidence with which they raised their issues with Afghan authorities in the face of PTI’s ongoing road blockade against drone strikes since Nov 23.
He said the road protests had done more harm than good to strengthen trade ties between the two countries. According to Mr Sarhadi, the delegation, led by the chamber’s co-chairman Zubair Motiwaala from Karachi, held meetings with senior Afghan functionaries, including the country’s vice-president Ustad Mohammad Karim Khalili, commerce minister Kargar, deputy commerce minister Muzzamal Shinwari, customs director Gul Bacha, and private businessmen. The delegation focused on convincing the Afghans to lower import duties on Pakistani items from the existing ratio of 110 per cent. It solicited favourable treatment for visa applications by Pakistani businessmen. A case for waiving $100 fee on Pakistani containers on way to Central Asian markets via Afghanistan was also made. Mr Sarhadi said they also suggested the Afghan authorities to construct ‘export houses’ and warehouses to help exporters save money spent on handling charges and demurrage. On their part, said Mr Shinwari, the Afghans raised the delays in clearance of their transit trade items at Karachi. Afghans, he added, complained that delay in clearing the consignments caused them Rs200,000 to Rs250,000 additional costs on account of detention charges.
“They said that they had already diverted their transit business to Iran,” said the KPCCI chief, adding the recent road blockade had strengthened their idea of taking Pakistan as the second option for trade.
Though the senior Afghan functionaries, said Mr Shinwari, did not refer to the PTI’s ongoing road seizure, they did express their reservations tacitly. The Afghan authorities, said the businessman, pointed out that Pakistan had subjected the transit good to Afghanistan to five different types of securities, including insurance, digital trackers and other conditions, at a time when it could not guarantee an unhindered land route for transporters.
They told the delegates, said Mr Shinwari, that they did not consider Pakistani route dependable and as a result they had already shifted 70 per cent of the transit business to Iran.

ڈیرہ اسماعیل خان جیل ٹوٹنے کی انکوائری رپورٹ پی ٹی آئی کی صوبائی حکومت نے سردخانے میں کیوں ڈالی؟

by Aamir Hussaini
ڈیرہ اسماعیل خان جیل پر دیوبندی تکفیری طالبان کے حملے اور 253 قیدیوں کو رہا کرائے حانے والے واقعے پر جو انکوائری ٹیم قائم کی گئی تھی اس کی مرتب کردہ رپورٹ سامنے آگئی روزنامہ ڈان کے رپورٹر اسماعیل خان کی اس رپورٹ کے حوالے سے ایک خبر 29 دسمبر 2013ء کی روزنامہ ڈان میں شایع ہوئی اسماعیل خان اس رپورٹ کو “معلوم دشمن کے سامنے لاچار قانون نافذ کرنے والے ادارے،ڈی آئی خان جیل بریک عدم تیاری کا نتیجہ”کا نام دیتی ہے اسماعیل خان کا خیال ہے کہ اس رپورٹ کا بغور مطالعہ کسی بھی آدمی کی ریڑھ کی ہڈی میں سنساہٹ پیدا کرنے کے لیے کافی ہے ریڑھ کی ہڈی میں سنساہٹ پیدا کرنے والا وہ خاکہ ہے جو اس رپورٹ میں موجود ہے جس کے مطابق پولیس اور ملٹری کی پوزیشنیں بالکل حملہ آور طالبان کی پکٹوں کے سامنے تھیں جس آسانی کے ساتھ دھشت گردوں نے قانون نافذ کرنے والی ایجنسیوں کو مفلوج کیا،253 قیدی چھڑائے اور پھر اپنی قبائلی پناہ گاہوں میں لوٹ گئے اس سے تو ریاست کی کئی سطحوں پر خطرے کی گھنٹیاں بجنی چاہئیے تھیں ایک تجزیہ نگار کے مطابق یہ حملہ مختصر وقت کے لیے ٹاؤن پر قبضہ تھا لیکن کچھ کرنے کی بجائے یہ رپورٹ شیلف میں رکھ دی گئی ڈیرہ اسماعیل خان جیل پر یہ حملہ 29 اور 30 جولائی کے درمیان رات کو ہوا 20 سے 25 محسود جنگجو،ان کے پنجابی طالبان اور ازبک جنگجو ساتھی جنوبی وزیرستان سے اپنی کمین گاہوں سے نکلے اور راستے میں کسی چیکنگ کے بغیر8:30 رات کو جیل کے سامنے ٹاؤن ہال پہنچ گئے 3 گھنٹے کے اندر عسکریت پسنددوں کی 7 ٹولیوں نے جیل کے اردگرد سڑکوں اور چھتوں پر پوزیشنیں سنبھال لیں اس پکٹنگ کا مقصد سیکورٹی اہل کاروں کی رسائی یا راستوں کو سیل کرنے سے روکنا تھا شہر کے مشرقی اور مغربی حصّوں سے کسی کا جیل کی طرف آنا ناممکن بنادیا گیا تھا اس کے بعد بم دھماکے اور فائرنگ شروع کردی گئی مقصد سیکورٹی اہلکاروں کو کنفیوژ اور عام شہریوں کو ہراساں کرنا تھا جیل تک آنے والے تمام راستوں کو کاٹنے کے بعد جیل کے مرکزی دروازے کو راکٹ اور گرنیڈ مارکر توڑ دیا گیا جیل کے تمام سیل اور بیرک کھولے گئے -253 قیدی آزاد کرالیے گئے شیعہ مذھب سے تعلق رکھنے والے چار قیدیوں کو باقاعدہ شناخت کرنے کے بعد زبح کردیا گیا حملے کے بعد 25 منٹ تک ایک طالب سٹی ڈی ایس پی کا کوڈ نام طارق ٹو استعمال کرے پولیس فریکونسی پر پولیس کو چتاونی دیتا رہا اور شہر کو زمین بوس کرنے کی دھمکی دیتا رہا انکوائری کمیٹی کے مطابق جیل کے اندر تمام کاروائی 45 منٹ میں مکمل ہوئی تاہم جیل کے اردگرد پکٹنگ بنائے لوگ دو گھنٹے تک وہاں رہے حملہ کرنے والی پارٹی دربان روڈ اور آرے روڈ سے جیل تک پہنچی جبکہ کئی ایک جنگجو بنوں روڈ سے فرار ہوئےجبکہ پکٹنگ کرنے والے شہر کے اندر غائب ہوگئے تاہم اس رپورٹ میں یہ نہیں بتایا گیا کہ خاکہ میں فوج اور پولیس کی پوزیشنوں کو جس طرح سے خاکہ میں عین حملہ آوروں کے سامنے دکھایا گیا ہے انھوں نے کیا ایکشن جنگجوؤں کے خلاف لیا؟ 27جولائی کو ڈیرہ اسماعیل خان کی ایڈمنسٹریشن کو انٹیلیجنس رپورٹ ملی تھی کہ طالبان جیل پر حملے کی تیاری کررہے ہیں انکوائری رپورٹ اس حوالے سے کی جانے والی تیاریوں کی خبر بھی دیتی ہے رپورٹ میں پولیس،سول ایڈمنسٹریشن،ایلیٹ فورس کے ضلعی افسران کے خلاف تادیبی کاروائی کرنے کی سفارش کی گئی مگر ایسا کوئی کام نہیں کیا گیا پاکستان آرمی کا کہنا ہے کہ وہ اس واقعے کی اپنی انوسٹی گیشن کررہی ہے رپورٹ میں جنوبی وزیرستان پولیس کی جانب سے عسکریت پسندوں کی نقل وحرکت بارے رپورٹ نہ کرنے کو بھی ایک بڑی وجہ قرار دیا گیا ہے مگر جنوبی وزیرستان کے پولیس حکام کے خلاف کسی کاروائی کی سفارش نہیں کی گئی کیونکہ حملے کے وقت جنوبی وزیرستان آئین کی شق 245 کے تحت آرمی کنٹرول میں تھا اس رپورٹ میں پولیٹکل ایجنٹ کے کردار کو یکسر نظرانداز کردیا گیا جس کو بنوں جیل جملے کی پاداش میں افسر بکار خاص بنادیا گیا تھا ڈی آئی خان جیل پر حملے کی پیشگی اطلاع بارے چیف منسٹر کے پی لاعلمی کا اظہار کرتے ہیں لیکن کمشنر ڈی آئی خان کا 29 جولائی کو چیف منسٹر کے پی ایس او کو لکھا گیا خط موجود ہے جس میں اس حملے کے امکان اور سول ایدمنسٹریشن کی تیاری بارے خبردی گئی تھی انکوائری رپورٹ میں چیف منسٹر کے سٹاف کی کال کا ریکارڑ چیک کرنے یا فورنزک شہادت اکٹھی کرنے کا کوئی تذکرہ نہیں ہے چیف منسٹر کی بے خبری کا سبب یا تویہ ہے کہ انھوں نے صبح بریفنگ نہ لی یا ان کو ان کے پرسنل سٹاف افسر نے خبر ہی نہ دی سب سے اہم بات اس رپورٹ کی یہ ہے کہ انکوائری کمیٹی نے خبیر پختون خوا حکومت کو سفارش کی کہ وہ فوری طور پر وفاقی حکومت کو فاٹا میں عسکریت پسندوں کی تنظیموں کے ہیڈکوارٹرز کو تباہ کرنے کے لیے ٹھوس پالیسی اور اقدامات اٹھانے کو کہے اس رپورٹ کے مطابق تحریک طالبان پاکستان ایک ایسا عفریت ہے جو نہ صرف کے پی معاشرے اور قانون نافذ کرنے والے اداروں کو تباہ کررہا ہے بلکہ وہ پورے ملک کی بقاکے لیے خطرے کا سبب بنا ہوا ہے اس رپورٹ میں یہ کہا گیا ہے کہ “یہ سوچنا غلط ہوگا کہ افغانستان میں غیرملکی فوجوں کے انخلاء کے بعد حکومتی تنصیبات اور سیکورٹی اہلکاروں پر حملے بند ہوجائیں بلکہ غیرملکی فوجوں کے انخلاء سے طالبان کا نیٹو سے مقابلہ ختم ہوگا جبکہ تحریک طالبان پاکستان فاٹا میں رہے گی تو مطلب صاف ہے کہ پاکستانی ریاست اور عوام پر حملے جاری رھیں گے رپورٹ کہتی ہے کہ سیٹلڈ ایریاز میں چاہے کتنا مضبوط سیکورٹی نظام قائم کرلیا جائے حملے نہیں رک سکتے جب تک دھشت گردوں کی محفوظ جنت کا خاتمہ نہ کیا جائے اس رپورٹ کو پاکستان تحریک انصاف اور جماعت اسلامی پاکستان کی مخلوط حکومت نے ملکر سردخانے کی نظر کیوں کرڈالا؟ اس رپورٹ کی فیصلہ کن سفارشات دونوں جماعتوں کی طالبان کے حوالے سے اب تک اختیار کی جانے والی پالیسی کو ایک حماقت اور پورے پاکستان کے پرامن شہریوں کی جان سے کھیلنے کے مترادف ثابت کرتی ہیں پاکستان تحریک انصاف کے چئیرمین عمران خان اور امیر جماعت اسلامی منور حسن کیا بتاسکتے ہیں کہ ان کی کے پی میں حکومت نے ڈیرہ اسماعیل خان جیل بریک کی انکوائری رپورٹ کو سردخانے کی نذر کیوں کیا؟ آخر اتنی واضح سفارشات کے باوجود وفاقی حکومت کو خط لکھکر فاٹا میں دھشت گرد تنظیموں کے اڈے تباہ کرنے کو کیوں نہیں کیا گیا؟ تحریک طالبان پاکستان اور اس کے جملہ اتحادیوں نے ڈیرہ اسماعیل خان جیل میں جو 5 شیعہ ذبح کئے کیا اس کے بعد بھی ٹی ٹی پی کی بربریت اور درندگی میں کوئی شک رہ جاتا ہے؟ پھر پی ٹی آئی کے چئیرمین اور کے پی حکومت ٹی ٹی پی کا دفاع کس
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Pakistan: D.I. Khan jailbreak: damning report

IN the years that Pakistan has been mired in militancy and terrorism, there has been no dearth of detractors maintaining that it is the inefficiencies of different arms of the state — if not outright collusion — that has allowed matters to reach such a pass. This charge is hotly denied, by state representatives who say they have no part in the mess, and by a citizenry that cannot digest the levels of ineptitude on part of the leadership that this would imply. Unfortunately, there is no denying that with distressing frequency, evidence of such monumental incompetence surfaces that questions cannot but be raised about the state’s levels of political will and operational ability. In this category must be included the revelations about July’s Dera Ismail Khan jailbreak, when militants managed to free over 250 prisoners without so much as a peep from the law enforcement and security apparatus.
The report of the inquiry commission tasked with investigating the incident, the contents of which were made public by this newspaper yesterday, constitutes an indictment of the security and law enforcement agencies. It ought to have served as a wake-up call of no minor proportions at all levels. Instead, it was shelved — to the utter lack of surprise of those familiar with the head-in-the-sand approach in Pakistan. The report notes that over two dozen Mehsud militants, accompanied by several more from Punjab, Uzbekistan and other places, managed to travel all the way from South Waziristan to D.I. Khan. Once there, they set up pickets at 10 strategic locations around the prison, cutting off security and law enforcement personnel’s access to the area. Shockingly, most of these pickets were located not far from police and military checkpoints. The militants blew the prison’s gates open with rocket-propelled grenades and over the next 45 minutes or so conducted a “methodical” search of the cells and barracks, freeing prisoners and even identifying and executing four members of a minority sect. Having done so, they dispersed; some headed back to South Waziristan, others melted into the city. All this was achieved with virtually no interference from the security and law enforcement apparatus, which had in the preceding days been beefed up, according to the report.
It could be argued that a jailbreak on such a large scale would have been difficult to counter — except that not only had a similar incident taken place before, this time there was even intelligence that an attack was imminent. Clearly, no lessons were learnt from the assault in Bannu last April, claimed by the TTP, which resulted in nearly 400 prisoners being sprung from jail. Further, in the case of D.I. Khan, the civilian and security administrations had been made aware of the threat and had even made efforts to ward it off. If this was the state of preparedness of the authorities in an area which has long borne the brunt of militancy and terrorism — one that has, with great fanfare, been announced as having been brought back into the fold of the state’s writ — what the situation must be in other areas can only be guessed at. Most worryingly, perhaps, the report notes that about half an hour into the assault on the jail, a militant came onto the police wireless frequency to taunt the law enforcers and to say the city would be razed to the ground. The confidence is astounding; the image conjured is of a savvy, well-equipped militant network running merry rings around a helpless state and security apparatus.
The report refers to the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan as a “Frankenstein” and warns that as long as “even a semblance of these outfits” exists, the violence will continue unabated and all strengthening of the security apparatus will be in vain. Is the state refusing to look the threat in the eye? Is it shying away from recognising the enormity of the problem? Or, even more disturbingly, is it impotent, unable to muster the strength and intelligence that the task requires? On the answer to this question hinges the future of the country.

Bilawal House clash

Clashes between Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) and PPP workers before Bilawal House in Karachi were continuing for the second day at the time of writing these lines. Some workers, mostly PTI, were reportedly arrested by the police. The fracas began on Saturday when PTI leader and MNA for the constituency in which Bilawal House lies, Dr Arif Alvi, turned up with his workers and threatened to demolish the security wall around the residence that was erected while Asif Ali Zardari was president. In September this year, a challenge to the wall in the Sindh High Court against denying access to the road to the public was upheld, later endorsed by the Supreme Court. The PTI leaders and workers ‘suddenly’ decided it as their pubic duty to demolish the wall and recover the road for the general public. This inevitably aroused resistance from the PPP workers who vowed to protect their leaders. The clashes that ensued and continued on Sunday, when Dr Arif Alvi had threatened the wall would be demolished, resulted in one half of the road being opened by the police, which claimed the court decision required proper implementation while ensuring security for Bilawal House and its residents. The latter requirement entailed setting up security cameras and other equipment to monitor the road. Whatever the case, the question remains whether it is appropriate for a political party to take upon itself the mantle of vigilante implementer of legal decisions. The courts may have found in favour of public convenience, but even they would be aware of the continuing security threats to Asif Zardari and his family. In the first place, if the PTI felt aggrieved, it should have approached the court for speeding up implementation of the decision to clear the road. On the other hand, while in a democracy peaceful protest is the inherent right of everyone, it does not offer license to parties or individuals to take the law into their own hands. The clash therefore was entirely and predictably because of the PTI’s provocation before Bilalwal House. The conclusion is difficult to resist that the timing of the move was no coincidence. After all, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in his speech at Garhi Khuda Bukhsh on the sixth death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto took Imran Khan and the PTI to the cleaners. But whereas Bilalwal employed the weapon of language, the PTI workers in Karachi were only a step removed from employing the language of weapons or force, hardly in conformity with a law abiding, civilised and democratic stance.
The penchant of the PTI to resort to taking the law into its own hands (e.g. the NATO supply blockade) owes itself to some serious psychological problems from which the party appears to be suffering. First and foremost, most PTI leaders and workers appear full of righteous indignation, stemming from their exaggerated sense of entitlement to power and running the country, an ambition they had convinced themselves before the 2013 elections was within their grasp, but which was cruelly exposed by the results. The PTI’s inability to come out of that sense of entitlement and disappointment that its dream lay shattered except for the provincial government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, has pushed the party into a confrontational mode with all and sundry. Thus Imran Khan has been at loggerheads with the judiciary (let off with a mild reprimand, unlike other political worthies who ran foul of the courts during the previous government), the Election Commission of Pakistan, the election tribunals before whom the PTI has challenged the results of four constituencies (which, even if the results are changed, would hardly constitute a tsunami), the PPP, PML-N (both of whom are constantly berated by Imran Khan for being in cahoots with each other for vested interests) and all and sundry manner of critics or people who question the PTI’s holy writ.
The merits of removing the wall and clearing the road for public access before Bilawal House should be settled between the administration, courts and security establishment to ensure access to the public does not compromise the security of its residents. Bilawal’s challenge to the terrorists in his Friday speech has pitched him centre-stage against the terrorists, and given the track record, retaliatory actions against him and his family cannot be ruled out. The PTI’s insistence on immediate implementation of the court’s orders smacks less of concern for the public and more of dangerous politicking over an issue that entails security threats to the Bhutto-Zardari family.

Balochistan: Confusing protest

So stupefying indeed it is that Balochistan's government ministers and lawmakers would be descending on Islamabad to stage protest against mounting kidnappings for ransom in the province. Isn't law and order constitutionally the provincial domain and its maintenance the provincial responsibility? Then, why are the ministers and lawmakers rushing on to Islamabad for something that they themselves should be tackling?
If there is some internecine tiff obstructing them to curb lawlessness and eliminate kidnapping, they should tackle it. If the security apparatus is not delivering, they must plug off the chinks in its armour and make it to perform. And if they think that some law-enforcement agency is not amenable to their control, they can set out to discipline it; and if not under the provincial government's writ, they can just ask for its withdrawal.
Why to run to Islamabad? Why are they itching so flutteringly to follow suit of their predecessors, who accumulated in mountains public disdain, scorn and ridicule for similar funny stunts instead of putting their act together? It was in their stint that kidnapping for ransom turned into the province's most booming industry. Nobody was safe from the grab of kidnappers. Doctors, lawyers, professors, you name it, and all were there on their hit list. Yet that ruling mob sat pretty, moving not even a finger to hobble the wicked criminals.
So much so, Hindu jewellers and businessmen, who together with Parsi merchants made up the kidnappers' choicest quarry, left the province in numbers and migrated mostly to India. Even as that could have possibly brought Pakistan internationally accusations of persecution of minorities, the mob was least pushed. More shockingly, a minister of that mob claimed publicly that his some ministerial colleagues as well as provincial legislators were involved in abductions for ransom. Although he later backtracked, when summoned to the court to testify, probably fearing vengeance and reprisals, the street listened and believed him. The incumbents too would fare similarly in public rage and fury if they take to evasive pursuits instead of confronting the challenges confronting their troubled province headlong. Their work lies in Quetta, not in Islamabad. Their corrupt and incompetent predecessors have left Balochistan in their trail as a sprawling junkyard, with its law and order condition abysmally dismal. This isn't brought out any poignantly by the current popular discourse about Balochistan, which in itself is highly populist and motivated. The province has not just the malaise of missing persons and dumped bodies to afflict it grievously. Scores of innocent Baloch children, women, men and elderly persons have been losing lives or limbs, unmourned and unlamented, in the blasts of improvised explosive devices that militants plant on roads and pathways in the countryside. Hundreds of Punjabi settlers have been slain and many more driven out by Baloch extremists in the Baloch region. Sindhis too are having a rough time at their hands. The Urdu-speaking migrant teachers and professional too have moved out of the province in flocks for fear of their lives after the community was targeted murderously by insurgents. Not even the Pakhtuns have been spared from this deadly chase. The grief of on this score palpably is no little. It is colossal, and heart-rending. And if it is still going unnoticed, it is because the human rights nobility, the media gentry and the political aristocracy find it not populist enough to be part of their favourite discourse. But the state cannot ignore it, nor can push it under the rug. It has to come to the rescue of the distressed, whoever or whatever the pedigree. But, for the present, the provincial government has not the adequate means to face up to this onerous job creditably.
Only a small patch of the province's territory is under the police writ. Not equipped any awesomely is the police even to secure this swathe for its residents' safety of lives and security of their businesses and properties. The rest of the province is wholly under the policing of levies. Say whatever apologists want, this force in official uniform is undeniably just a private militia of sardars, chieftains and their scions, nothing less, nothing more. It practically is mere additional force given to these feudal barons at the state expense to fatten their own private armies and beef up their muscle power to fight out their own feuds and fracas more bloodily.
The situation thus stands gravely aggravated for the incumbents to tackle it any effectively. And their task could become all the more harder, given the low morale which the paramilitary FC must be in believably for the wholesale castigation it has been subjected to on one pretext or the other over these times. The incumbents would hence be only on a very sticky pitch if they do not understand that what they are actually to do. Kidnappings definitely cannot be put paid by paying visit to Islamabad or, for that matter, to Timbuktu. The task necessarily requires the raising of a credible, dependable and trustworthy security apparatus. And that requires deep thinking, meticulous planning and hard decisions. Hence, the incumbents, both ministers and lawmakers, should better stay back and bang their heads together how to do it and start working on it.

Blast in Peshawar kills woman, two children

The Express Tribune News
A blast in Peshawar killed three people including a woman and two children, Express News reported on Monday. The blast, which took place at a house, left another child injured. The child was taken to a local hospital for medical assistance. The Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) reached the blast site and initial investigation revealed that explosives were planted inside the house. Previous blasts
The city is not unknown to explosions and has been a victim of several blasts these last few months. On December 16, a remote-controlled blast on Sheikh Muhammadi Road in Peshawar had killed four Bomb Disposal Unit personnel and seriously injured another person. Two people including a police officer were injured, on November 16, in a roadside blast on Kohat Road in Peshawar. The blast had taken place near a police mobile which was on its routine patrol. According to BDS, four to five kilogrammes of explosives were used in the blast. On November 13, an Army convoy had escaped unhurt in a remote controlled road side bomb blast on Ring Road in Peshawar. The convoy was on its way from Hayatabad to Kohat Road. The explosion, however, had occurred when the convoy had passed and there was no damage or loss of life in the attack. The BDS had inspected the site of the explosion and said that it was a home-made low intensity device of around one kilogram.

VBMP Long March reaches Sakrand town of Sindh
The long march of Voice for Baloch Missing Persons completed its day 17 of march toward Islamabad on Sunday and reached to Sakrand town of Sindh.
Sindhi Nationalist parties shown tremendous support and cooperation for the Baloch marchers as usual at different point and the Baloch marchers continue their journey. The JSMM (Shafi Burfat group), JSQM (Bashir Qureshi), JSM, Jam Chandio group and STP have welcomed the caravan of Baloch patriots at different points between Saeedabad and Sakrand. A large number of activists of the Baloch Itehad Nawabashah also came to receive the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons marchers near Sakrand. The Voice for Baloch Missing team complained about lack of security for the marchers as there was heavy traffic on roads. At Sakrand a truck nearly ran over the marchers but Sindhi youth supports of march managed to stop it and scolded the driver for his reckless driving. It is pertinent to note that the leader of VBMP long march has made several requests to the local police and Sindh government to provide security to the participants of march but the authorities have failed to cooperate with them. Qadeer Baloch, vice chairman of Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, thanked the people of Sindh and Sindhi and Baloch nationalist parties for their continuous support and encouragement. He said the marchers were ready to continue the struggle till the last drop of their blood, adding that: “We are marching against state atrocities including illegal arrest and disappearance of around 18000 Baloch, extra-judicial killings and on-going military operations in Balochistan.” He also strongly criticised the mainstream Pakistani media for their silence and ignoring the Baloch march.

Imran intent on destroying the country, says Bilawal

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), has said that Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan is intent on destroying the country whereas PPP representative Syed Owais Muzaffar said that the party condemns the arms exhibition in the PTI protests yesterday, ARY News on Monday.
In a statement, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that PTI workers should not have been allowed to bear arms during the protests at Bilawal House road. He added that the PTI Chairman is bent on damaging the statement.
PPP Chairman stated that the PTI Chief raised the issue of Bilawal House wall when he spoke against Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
"We can work together if PTI stops supporting TTP", he added.
Syed Owais Muzaffar stated that PPP has always resorted to peaceful protests and condemns the open exhibition of arms near the Bilawal House.