Tuesday, December 31, 2013
A number of public and state Western leaders are now calling to boycott the Russian games. Every now and then they keep on reporting that someone else is not coming for the Olympics. These attacks are financed from abroad, most likely from Saudi Arabia, as the two Chechen wars showed. This is foreign influence, foreign control, foreign maintenance," said Evgeny Lobachev. "There is every reason to believe that this is the beginning of a large-scale operation to destabilize Russia. We have a lot of enemies who seek to undermine our credibility, especially in the run-up to the Olympics," Saeed Gafurov, the scientific director of the Institute of Oriental and African Studies said.He believes that the bombings were an act of revenge to the Russian Federation for Syria and a result of the flabbiness of Russian diplomacy. "Russia made several mistakes in the Middle East and in the Persian Gulf, where it showed generosity and softness in response to barbaric actions. We shouldn't have, for example, turned a blind eye on the beating of Ambassador Titarenko in Qatar. Officers of Qatari security forces received no punishment. It was a reason for war, and we just swallowed it. Russia said nothing when Saudi Arabia invaded Bahrain either," said the expert. According to him, the Gulf monarchies "understand only fear and it is impossible to negotiate with them." "They found this behavior as a sign of Russia's weakness and increased the funding for Wahhabi and other radical Islamist underground in Russia." Moreover, the expert said, the funding is conducted through public organizations that may not always be headquartered in Doha or Al Riyadh - some of them can be located in London, for instance." "Now, when it appears that government troops in Syria are winning the war, revenge to our country will only grow," says Gafurov. These opinions can be supported with the data that transpired in August through Russia Today and several Western and Arab publications about the visit of the chief of military intelligence, Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, to Moscow. Bin Sultan said back then that he guaranteed safety at Winter Olympics in Sochi next year, if Russia made concessions in relation to its position on Syria. "Groups of Chechen fighters, who express different threats to the Olympic Games, are under our control," The Guardian quoted the prince. Apart from financing and administration from outside, there are internal Russian factors that create fertile grounds for Islamic radicalism and terrorism. "The problem is not only about foreign funding, but also about our internal reasons, Alexey Filatov, retired FSB colonel, veteran of anti-terrorist group Alpha, told Pravda.Ru. It goes about high level of social stratification and corruption, the expert explained. For example, the financing of criminal groups is carried out through taxation of local officials, who obtain their money from the federal budget. In addition, our police are too busy with less important things, like, for example, migration issue," Filatov said. These social causes, in his opinion, are the basis for steady influx of new candidates for suicide bombings, and it is highly difficult for security services to handle the problem. "One should also understand that in the 1990s, Russian security forces lost many professionals. It now takes decades to bring that all back," says Evgeny Lobachev. Political analyst Saeed Gafurov does not share such fatalism. "Terrorists' financial, organizational, human, logistical resources are not limitless. Fatalism, therefore, is inappropriate. We should improve vigilance. If we can not completely exclude terrorist attacks today, then we can make them very expensive. To do this, we must all raise vigilance," he said. The head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, does not share a fatal point of view on the problem either. According to experts, he solved the issue of illegal criminal groups by calling to enact a law that "infinitely increased punishment" for terrorist activities and outlawed all radical movements, parties and groups." Alexey Filatov believes that Russia should follow the example of the United States. "We need to do what Americans do. We have to keep tabs on each and every person. This technology that Snowden exposed - prevention and control - has a real effect. Metal detectors are useless. One should be able to follow the enemy, rather than prohibit radical movements. Metal detectors on all exists and entrances do not help, this is a waste of money." What other measures should the state take? It appears that Russia should strengthen diplomatic activities on the international arena, find leverage over Saudi Arabia and Qatar. One should prove facts, put up the question to discussion at international forums and organize diplomatic scandals. To crown it all, as Lebanese newspaper As-Safir wrote, President Vladimir Putin promised Prince Bandar to strike a "massive military blow" on terrorist training camps. Western analysts concluded that Russia was threatening Saudi Arabia.
Russia wants to know who is behind the suicide bombings in Volgograd.
DW: Who in Russia is in a position to organize terrorist acts like we've seen in Volgograd?Yekaterina Sokiryanskaya: There are numerous terror groups in Russia, but in the case of Volgograd, I'm completely certain that it's the Caucasus Emirate. Its leader Doku Umarov published a video address at the end of July in which he threatened to sabotage the Olympic Games in Sochi. The suspected suicide bomber was of Russian ethnicity, but he belonged to the Caucasus Emirate. Although Doku Umarov did not claim responsibility for the first terror strike in October, nor for the last two, I'm absolutely certain that these attacks are the realization of his threats. What's known about this group? The Caucasus Emirate came into being in 2007 in conjunction with changes in the separatist movement in Chechnya. The UN, Russia, the US and other countries have classed the group as terrorists. At first, it operated in the North Caucasus region. Now there are reports that a cell is also active in Tatarstan. Traditionally, Chechens have been at the head of the Caucasus Emirate, but since 2009, the Republic of Dagestan has become the center of its activities. The group has a complicated structure. In a few administrative districts, or vilayets, it has its own emir, meaning a leader, as well as a kadi - a judge. The vilayets function largely autonomously even though they pursue common goals. There are sympathizers there. Some people reject armed conflict but don't recognize the Russian authorities. For them, the kadis and Sharia law are the highest authorities. The Caucasus Emirate finances up to 90 percent of its activities itself. It blackmails regional offices and business people. And everyone pays because the police cannot protect them. Many don't even report the blackmail or the "jihad tax" because it involves illegal earnings. The Caucasus Emirate doesn't depend just on an ideology but also on criminal sources of income. Are there other terrorist groups that are comparably strong? No. There are other terror groups, but none of them have as much power as the Caucasus Emirate. But one also has to admit that the security forces are very successful. Each year, part of the group's leadership is eliminated - for example, in the Kabardino-Balkar Republic. But the structure is arranged so that it regenerates itself. When it comes to terrorist threats, I want to mention a new phenomenon in Russia: radicalized lone perpetrators, like the Tsarnaev brothers in the US. They're people waging total jihad who do not belong to any organization. After all, you can build a bomb these days using instructions from the Internet. It doesn't take any bigger operation in terms of money or an organization to carry out a terrorist act. It just takes a suicide murderer to get on a bus. How many potential terrorists are thought to be residing in Russia? No one knows for sure. In the entire North Caucasus, estimates range from 1,000 to 1,500 people. But these days, terrorists don't need big armies. They would have to be housed illegally and fed - those would be additional costs. The groups have a lot of interest from recruits, but not everyone is taken on. But even a small number of people can represent a serious threat. If you include those supporting the direct accomplices, then it's around 2,000 to 3,000 people, but no more. What role does radical Islam play? There's no doubt that a radical interpretation of Islam is playing a key role, particularly Salafism. These people consider themselves as part of the global jihad. There are also fighters from Russia in Syria - where people estimate there are 1,500 to 2,000 jihadists from the North Caucasus. However, not all Muslims are radicalized. In Dagestan, there are a great many Salafists, but most reject terrorist methods. An attempt was made in 2011 and 2012 to integrate these people. As of January 1, 2013, though, the republic has a new government that is taking ruthless and drastic action. Salafism is being pushed toward illegality. In the last few months, 30 to 40 people were arrested daily. People are indiscriminately singling out bearded men, women with headscarves. Moderate leaders are moving abroad, while radicals take their places. I was in Dagestan not too long ago and saw how young people are being radicalized by violence perpetrated by local authorities. It's easy to assume these terror acts are also going to target the Olympic Games in Sochi. There will be immense security measures in place. What's your view on that?
The danger of terrorism is real. And the incredible efforts being undertaken in Sochi and other Russian cities cannot guarantee that nothing will happen during the Games. You see how little it takes to commit an act of terrorism. Nevertheless, I hope that it's possible to maintain security during the games. Yekaterina Sokiryanskaya heads the International Crisis Group's Russia chapter.
Following Monday´s Suicide Bombing in Volgograd, Four Months before the Start of the Winter Olympics, and Threats by Saudi Arabia´s Intelligence Chief, Prince Bandar, Russia´s President, Vladimir Putin appealed for Help from Russian Clerics, saying that Radical Islam, managed from Abroad, is used to destabilize Russia.
On Monday a female suicide bomber from the Northern Caucasus region of Russia, killed six and injured scores, when she detonated explosives in a bus in the city of Volgograd. The suicide bombing created widespread fear of using public transport.During a visit to the predominantly Muslim Bashkortostan region of Russia, Putin stressed the Russian government´s concerns over ethnic or religious tensions which could threaten the unity of the Russian Federation. The suicide attack in Volgograd struck only four and a half months before the opening of the 22nd Olympic Winter Games in Sochi on 7 February 2014. Putin said: “Some political forces use Islam, the radical currents within it … to weaken our state and create conflicts on Russian soil that can be managed from abroad … Tensions between the West and the Islamic world are rising today, and someone is trying to gamble on that by pouring fuel on the fire.” Putin did not explicitly mention any country but the Russian President has previously accused the USA and Saudi Arabia for using state-sponsored terrorism, among others, in Syria. It is noteworthy that the suicide bombing in Volgograd was carried out less than two months after the Saudi Intelligence Chief made a thinly veiled terror threat against Russia during a meeting with Putin in Moscow. A special report, published in nsnbc international, that places the direct political and command responsibility for the chemical weapons attack in East Ghouta on 21 August with Top-Officials in the White House, the Pentagon, the CIA and the Saudi Interior Ministry states: On 2 August Prince Bandar met Russia´s President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin. Putin and Bandar spoke, among others, about the chemical weapons attack in Eastern Ghouta and the future of Syria´s President, Bashar al-Assad. Bandar tried to bribe Putin with weapons and oil deals in order to gain the Russian President´s support for ousting the Assad government. Bandar supposed that the Syrian government should be replaced with the Saudi-backed and sponsored opposition. Bandar guaranteed that Russia´s interests in Syria would be preserved by this Saudi-backed government if Russia supported the regime change. While Bandar attempted to gain Putin as a potential ally for regime change in Syria, he also delivered a thinly veiled threat, saying among others: “I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us, and they will not move in the direction of the Syrian territory without coordinating with us. These groups don´t scare us. We use them in the face of the Syrian regime but they will have no role or influence in Syria´s political future”. Putin rejected the Saudi “bribe and threat” attempt, saying that Russia was aware of that Saudi Arabia had financed Chechen terrorists for the last ten years. It was Putin´s rejection that prompted Banda´s thinly veiled threat against the 22nd Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. U.S. President Obama and Putin should have discussed Syria and the threat of the spread of international terrorism to the Caucasus at the sidelines of the APEC meeting in Bali, Indonesia, on 7 October. Obama cancelled the meeting, citing domestic financial problems as the reason for the cancellation. On 5 October, after Obama´s cancellation was announced, nsnbc international published an article on the subject, stating: The Russian Foreign Ministry stressed, that these groups are prepared to continue murdering and destroying, not only in Syria but also in other countries, to establish a global caliphate. The Foreign Ministry emphasized that these groups will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. The Russian Foreign Ministry stressed, that Russia had warned of just such a scenario resulting from the developments in Syria. The Ministry noted, that extremist terrorist and jihadist groups within the armed opposition control the majority of the support that is provided to the militants, including weapons. The Ministry stressed, that this accentuates the importance of the content of the closing statement of the G8 Summit, particularly regarding calling on the Syrian government and the opposition to work to expel terrorists or eliminate them. Analysts assessed, that between 50 and 80 percent of the armed insurgents in Syria come from foreign countries and that between 75 and 80 percent are tied to jihadist groups. The article also quotes the Chief of the Russian Drug Control Agency on the issue: The Chief of the Russian Federal Drug Control Service, Victor Ivanov, has warned that insurgents from Syria could begin infiltrating the Caucasus region. On Friday, Ivanov said: “Aside from the obvious process of rapid destabilization of the entire region, it is necessary to carefully analyze the vector of expected redeployment of foreign mercenaries from Syria overhanging the Caucasus, which is only 600 kilometers away. … Our experts are predicting that foreign mercenaries in Syria, who have been structured into paramilitary groups competing with each other, will be out of the running in the near future and will swarm toward the Caucasus”. Although it has been widely known but consequently omitted in western mainstream media, Saudi Arabia is one of the main state-sponsors of radical Islamist terrorist organizations and mercenary corps. Regardless whether there can or cannot be established a direct causative link between Saudi state-sponsorship of and command control over Islamist militants in Russia and the suicide bomb in Volgograd, the terrorist attack, coming after thinly veiled Saudi threats and only four months before the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics underline the importance of countering so-called Al-Qaeda terrorism in the Caucasus; be it with or without the help of “Russia´s Western Partners”.
An estimated 1.5 million people lined Sydney harbor for Australia's annual firework spectacular which organizers believe will be watched by up to a billion people worldwide
Londoners will see in 2014 the world's first multisensory firework display. CNN's Isa Soares reports.
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/ACROSS Australia the new year rituals were duly observed tonight, as revellers gathered to greet 2014 in style. Sydney's dazzling harbour shone under the glow of more than seven tonnes of pyrotechnics at a cost of $6 million. More than 1.6 million partygoers positioned themselves at vantage points around the iconic Harbour Bridge at the centre of the country's biggest fireworks display.
In Singapore, people will flock to the financial district for fireworks while thousands of white spheres will be launched to bob on Marina Bay, holding residents' wishes for 2014. Jakarta has set up 12 city centre stages for performances to showcase the vast archipelago's kaleidoscope of cultures. However, 6500 police will be out to ensure security amid warnings that extremists in the Muslim-majority nation may target the celebrations, prompting travel warnings from countries including neighbouring Australia. Tonga, located near the international dateline, will be one of the first nations to greet 2014. The religious Pacific state is holding a prayer festival that culminates with bamboo "cannon" fired into the air. In Rio de Janeiro, authorities are predicting 2.3 million people - a third of them tourists - will crowd Copacabana Beach for fireworks and pop music. The theme will be romantic, said the city's tourism secretary, Antonio Pedro Figueira de Mello. "At one moment of the musicalised fireworks, the music sort of falls, and there we have a kiss in Copacabana, we'll hear a 'smack', ... we'll have 100 hearts exploding on Copacabana beach to toast for this reveillon of love," he said. Major spectaculars will also light up Moscow's Red Square, Berlin's Brandenburg Gate and central London when Big Ben bongs midnight. An expected one million revellers will gather in New York to mark the stroke of midnight and the traditional New Year's Eve ball-drop over Times Square. Cape Town will have a free concert with fireworks and a 3D tribute to Nelson Mandela who died December 5. Images from the anti-apartheid hero's life will be projected onto City Hall where he gave his first speech after release from 27 years in prison in 1990.
Nai Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan (NSPMA) on Monday released its annual report about violence against Afghan journalists, reporting of 76 cases of violence in 2013. The cases including 3 murders, 34 cases of beating, 6 arrests, 7 cases of injuries and 26 cases of threats and insult have been registered by NSPMA administration. The perpetrators mostly were the police, government officials, militants, ordinary people and private sector. Head of Nai Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan, Sediqullah Tawhidi, addressing a press conference said that in 2012, 69 cases of violence against journalists had been registered in NSPMA, but in 2013, 76 different cases including 3 murders have been registered, a rise of 10% in violence against journalists. He tied the increase in violence against journalists to the inertia and negligence of relevant government organizations in investigating cases and prosecuting perpetrators. Tawhidi termed one of challenges of reporters the internal problems of media and said that most of the contracts of TV channels were against Labor Law, and the owner of private channels acted like taskmaster every time they wanted relieved their reporters adding that in this issue the Ministry of Information and Cultural hasn’t done any legal measures for resolution of the reporters problem in the media. “Influence of the media’s owners marred the standard work of medias also using of media as a tool to overcome in their political and tribal ambitions is seriously going on it created some tribal struggles, and accusing of medias by some government bodies also brought arrange of concern over medias” said Tawhidi. He asked the Ministry of Information and Cultural to send the occupation regulation to the minister council for conferment so that the current job immunity of reporter and media owner’s problems should be solved. Tawhidi expressed his concern over delaying of confirmation of Access to Information Law and said that if the concerned law is not confirmed by the parliament the reporters may face with various challengeable issues during providing investigative reports asked the parliament to confirm the Access Information Law as soon as possible so that the people profit the freedom of speech in the country. “The parliament of the country should confirm the Access to Information Law before presidential and provincial election till the reporters provide complete reports according to its principles” said Tawhidi. According to increasing of violences toward newsmen in the country, Nia Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan is not optimistic about the secure future of reporter’s activities in 2014 asking the responsible organs to take serous measure for securing of reporters in the country. According to report of NSPMA in 2012 four television satiations, 11 newspapers, 24 weekly letters, two monthly letters, one magazine, started to activities. Head of NSPMA said that so for there are 100 televisions network 200 private and government Radio stations, 200 print Medias and 12 Agencies, it shows that media are expanding in spite of too many problems in the country.
The Express Tribune
Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah on Monday demanded that the army explain its position with reference to former military ruler Pervez Musharraf’s statement, in which he had claimed the army was upset over his trial. “If army is not with Musharraf, it should rebuff his statement,” he said, adding that its silence could be misconstrued as its consent. Speaking to newsmen after Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting, Shah said Musharraf, by claiming to have army’s support, was trying to involve it in the treason case. Earlier, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari declared that defending Musharraf in treason case was also ‘treason’Musharraf’s interview also attracted response from the government side, as Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid advised him to express his views in the court instead of doling out sensational statements in the media. He was talking to reporters on Monday. The former military ruler, while talking to a foreign news agency, had said that he was leaving his treason trial issue to incumbent Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), Gen Raheel Sharif. “I would say the whole army is upset. Certainly, they wouldn’t like anything happening to their ex-army chief,” he had claimed adding, however, that the army was not his last hope. “Though the army chief has the final word but the top brass always goes through due consultations before an important decision is taken. Let’s see what the COAS does in this case,” Musharraf had said. The case is due to resume on January 1, but Musharraf said he had not yet decided whether or not he would attend the proceedings. British lawyers will monitor treason trial Human rights activists and UK-based lawyers Toby Cadman and Solicitor Raza Anjum say they will monitor Musharraf’s trial and report to the United Nations and human rights bodies across the world, at a press conference with a member of Musharraf’s legal team Barrister Saif ur Rehman. Saif did not confirm whether Musharraf will appear before the special court on Thursday. “We are deliberating on this issue and no decision has been taken so far,” he added.
The humanist social democrats cannot debate with Islamists freely without being charged for blasphemy. For much less Salmaan Taseer was killedIt is seldom that journalists from the print and electronic media take time out to reflect and introspect on the crucial issues they cover on a day-to-day basis in the line of duty. Once in a year, the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) provides such an opportunity. Last week it invited over 100 journalists from all over the country to discuss the exploding issue of extremism and what media can do to promote tolerance in society. As the government has failed to provide an alternate to the extremist ideology, there is widespread confusion in society about what is the fascist agenda of extremism and its offshoot: terrorism. The apologists of these extremists compound the confusion when they try to justify it by declaring that terrorism is because Pakistan is supporting a US war. I wonder: if the US will not tell us to fight terrorist organisations, which operate in Afghanistan and Pakistan, will the state of Pakistan still allow the terrorists to impose their brand of sharia in the country and launch an insurgency against a neighbouring country? To legitimise terrorism their apologists rely on the famous saying that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. That makes their credentials as democrats weak, as use of terrorist tactics to achieve legitimate or illegitimate objectives is negation of democratic norms. Then the question is raised both from the far left and also from the far right: what is the answer to state or imperialist violence or what is also called ‘state terrorism’? Another delicate question is: what is a national liberation war? When does it degenerate to fall in the category of terrorism? However, first let us take to task the more immediate issue. In the case of religious terrorism we have to understand that the people who resort to terrorist tactics do so because they have a weak case and little public support. Actually ‘militant Islam’ is an offshoot of ‘political Islam’ as it has failed to capture power through democratic means. Militant Islam’s lineage can be traced to Shah Waliullah in this part of the world and to the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt under the teachings of Hasan al Bana and Sayid Qutab. Olivier Roy, Farzana Sheikh and Ayesha Jalal, to name a few, have explained this phenomenon in their compelling books. These books should be on the ‘essential reading list’ for journalists in Pakistan. The Pakistani establishment, which has India paranoia, started patronising terrorism since its inception, e.g. the creation of a tribal lashkar (militia) in 1948, and continues to sponsor non-state militant jihadis to this day. Even at present our establishment considers India specific terrorist groups and Afghan terrorist as its assets although they were and are liabilities. If in a country’s accounting books ‘liabilities’ are entered as ‘assets’, the state is bound to collapse. Another aspect of this religious terrorism is that it is based on a strong ideology of al Qaeda. It cannot be ignored that they are official and unofficial al Qaeda franchises. Military operations against them in the tribal areas are tactical moves. The fact is that the state does not have a comprehensive strategy for countering al Qaeda’s ideological thrust. Crudely applying the principle of equity, some journalists, at the two-day SAFMA conference, talked about listening to the other side. Yes, that is a democratic value but is not this question frivolous when on the one hand the Islamists invoke democratic rights of free speech and the right to preach, but on the other hand they do not allow a rational dialogue? The humanist social democrats cannot debate with Islamists freely without being charged for blasphemy. For much less Salmaan Taseer was killed. If the other side had a rational scientific ideology they would not have resorted to terrorism. Perfidy apologists of terrorist outfits also ask why we support talks and a political solution for Balochistan’s chronic problems and demand that the state first establish its writ against the Taliban and then talk peace. The issue is that Taliban demands are not for the rights of the tribal people — they want to impose their brand of sharia on the country through the barrel of a gun. If they win the elections and form the government with an large enough majority to write another constitution, they are more than welcome. But they should not try to turn the wheel of history back to Salafiism. Now the second question: what is the difference between a national liberation war and terrorism by ethnic parties? When a democratic movement is suppressed by state terrorism then the militant struggle in aid of a normal democratic independence movement is a national liberation war. However, history has shown that non-violent movements have been more successful. The litmus test is that independence should lead to economic, social and political development of the common man. If it is retrogressive in itself then it is anti-people, and hence it should not be given the respectability of a national liberation war. Only a rational and dispassionate strategy covering economic, political and social facets can bring peace and tolerance to our society. My fear is that we are heading towards bloodier times. Once the government moves towards building a peace bridge with India, the Kashmir specific terrorists, who are mostly Punjab-based, will turn their guns towards the government. I hope I am proven wrong this time.
Inaugurating a new Foreign Ministry office building in Islamabad the other day, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif warned of Pakistan’s isolation in the international arena in the wake of the NATO supply routes’ continued blockade. The blockade by PTI has entered its eighth week, and the PM’s reflection on it was a reminder of the US’s threat to stop reimbursement of Coalition Support Funds unless the route is reopened. If Pakistan’s cooperation dwindles, this is likely to affect the US’s disbursements of other aid too. The impact of any such move will damage Pakistan’s interests in more ways than one. It would not only be the US stopping aid to Pakistan, the entire aid programme, both bilateral and that of the international financial institutions may come to a grinding halt. A country with depleting foreign reserves and struggling to manage its economic slowdown because of the energy crisis and terrorism cannot afford such adventures with foreign policy. It is high time that the government intervenes and brings some sanity to the ground situation. No province is constitutionally allowed to interfere in the foreign affairs of the country. The US drone schedule in Pakistan has remained unaffected by the PTI’s blockade. The most this protest would do is to further isolate Pakistan and reinforce its image of a dubious and unreliable ally, allegations that still define Pakistan-US relations. Our adventurism with jihadi proxies to sustain a foothold in Afghanistan that complicated things for the US in restoring order there has been the reason for the US’s intervention through drones in our country. Imran Khan should be protesting against Pakistan’s Afghan and other foreign policies that feed on extremism and religious fundamentalism. Drones are eliminating those that we chose to nurture, the terrorists who are bombing our cities and killing innocent people. Pakistan’s image as a hostile country is the last thing that the country wants laid on its fragile economic back. Unless Imran Khan is gullible enough to think his present path can lead overnight to Pakistan becoming independent of foreign assistance, he should keep himself away from issues that could prove damaging for the country’s interests. His argument that it is the US and not Pakistan that is being isolated because of drones is further proof of Imran’s inability to understand international affairs vis-à-vis the world’s sole superpower. It is about time the federal government takes charge and stops the PTI’s insanity.
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/Information and Broadcasting Minister Pervaiz Rashid said on Monday the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) must not instigate its workers to violence as use of force in politics could give birth to anarchy. Talking to the media, he said that the government was ready to hand over the control of Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO) to PTI Chairman Imran Khan to make possible the recovery of electricity bills from the defaulters. To a question, he said the “court of history has already given its verdict regarding former president Pervez Musharraf and now his case is in the court of law”. The government has provided ample opportunity to the former president to give his side of the story in the court of law. “And his statements outside the court have no relevance as we have already seen him airing statements while hovering pistols and fists”, he added. To another question, he said the standard of living of people could not be improved via satellite while sitting in the cosy atmosphere of Canada. “The standard of living of people has registered significant improvement during the tenure of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz,” the minister added. He cited the examples of motorway, Metro Bus Service, Green Channel facility at airports and laptop scheme “which helped improving the standard of living of the people of the country”. He said the government has relaxed various conditions of prime minister’s business loan scheme.
So saddening it is that just for political point-scoring the politicos across the spectrum are feeling the least inhibited in trashing the most serious and grave into sheer triviality. Not even they seem any pushed about how their childish pranks are searing the hearts of a citizenry reeling under the worst of times in its life. They even seem not knowing that their silly antics are indeed hurting the people's sentiments ruefully. At this point in time, the people all over the land are groaning woefully under the backbreaking load of tortuous power and gas load-shedding. For the most part, they are not getting electricity even to light their homes and gas even to cook their meals. The land is filled from end to end with the deafening shrill of a phenomenally distressed citizenry, crying hoarse to rid them of this torture. Yet, dismayingly, amid this public uproar, the federal and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa governments have got embroiled in a tiff over power distribution and generation in the province. Not that this is something unheard of. If indeed there are countries where the federal authority alone controls both generation and distribution, instances no lesser abound where the federating units hold this monopoly. Indeed, in the Gujarat state of neighbouring India, the Narenrda Modi-government has attracted so much of private investment in power sector with alluring incentives that it caters abundantly to electricity needs of its consumers, industries and businesses while the mainland continues suffering from chronic power shortages acutely. Had indeed the offer and demand for power generation and distribution been part of some thoroughly-considered and well-planned action strategy, that would have been admirably worth it. Arguably, the problems confronting the nation presently necessarily entail tight cooperation and collaboration between the federal and the provincial governments. And nothing like that if Islamabad and Peshawar get together to give a stab to disastrous power shortage that is eating irredeemably into the vitals of the polity. But it is more than evident that there is nothing serious about the whole show; it is all politics. In all likelihood, neither the federal government will devolve power generation to the KP's domain. Nor will the KP government be prepared to collect electricity bills from the users in the province. Ludicrously enough, the tiff between the two has incited the Sindh ruling hierarchy as well to start flapping its wings heatedly to take the same hop. But, unmistakably, this too would be just politics. It really hurts that power-wielders and power-contenders could be so obsessed with their political ambitions and political agendas that for their objectives' perpetuation they would desist not ever from riding roughshod over the masses' acute sensitivities. Whatever the May general election was, the electorate had expected that winners would come to power with a sincere intent to overcome miseries making the people's lives increasingly unlivable. The general expectation was that politics would henceforth be put behind and the people's wants and needs would occupy the incoming rulers' top priority. But from street to street, the common citizenry is livid that politics instead has become the political elites' prime, and sole, mover. The people are outraged that political capital is being sought to be made even on matters that should best be left to the forums they are being dealt with at. Pervez Musharraf is arraigned before the courts and the law will take its own course to decide his fate. Yet the political hierarchs, particularly at the centre and in Sindh and Punjab, are apparently out to squeeze it to the last drop. With bowls in hands, they are wandering all around to make hay while the sun shines. He is being accosted blithely. Surmises are being thrown at him giddily. And he is being demonised with every ill on the earth. This political discourse may be enthralling the chattering classes, the media, the commentariat and the seminarians. But the street it is not. There is dead silence over there. No one is talking of him; no one is listening about him. The street is all engrossed about its own woes of bread and butter. It is all preoccupied with deepening concerns if ever power and gas would become available in quantities that homes are lit, industries, businesses and undertaking start working full blast and throw up jobs and opportunities aplenty and the access to basic needs becomes easier to make the people's lives livable. On this account, the political elites across the board are indeed under the microscopic scrutiny of the mass of the people. The public is not judging them by what political acrobatics are they playing. They are adjudging them strictly by their deeds in the service of the public. And there, truthfully, the political elites must be shocked from one to all. None lives in the people's good graces any more. They all stand condemned in the popular perception. It is only in the core constituencies of their loyalists that they still live lovingly. The street has begun distancing itself from them all unexceptionably. Even now, not all is lost. The political elites can still reclaim the lost territory. Only, they have to abandon petty politics and focus on public service both collectively and separately. But will they?
Malala Yousafzai's tale is infamous throughout the world. Malala is an education activist from Swat district in Pakistan. At the age of 16, she has written for the BBC (under a pseudonym) describing her life in Swat valley, stood up for education at various protests, been nominated for the Nobel peace prize and been shot in the eye socket and neck by one of the worlds most dangerous extremist terrorist organisations, the Taliban. I Am Malala, written from Malala's point of view, is a beautifully written, brutally honest and heart-warming tale of a girl's innocence and will to make a positive difference, and how she was almost lost to the hands of a brutal and suppressive body who attempted, and still continue to threaten, to kill her. Malala has been described as a martyr for her cause countless times. She's been portrayed as the 'poor brave girl who got shot' or the 'girl who survived the Taliban shooting and spoke at the UN'. We're all so caught up in making Malala sound like a heroine, that we forget she's a teenager as well. We're so busy talking about how brilliantly she speaks and what a wonderful vision she has for the world, that we tend to not care about her friends and her encounters, and what she likes to do in her free time. She's outstandingly bold, and a true idol, but Malala lives in the real world. She is one of us. The way the book progresses is so powerful, it tends to hold on even after you've closed that perfect last page. Every child in the world must read this, or must have Malala's story read to them. For us readers, it may seem like a fairytale. Malala now lives in the UK with her family; they're safe and happy. But the revolution that she started still continues to shake the world, and especially Pakistan, with its impact. There's still a long way to go before the children of Swat valley can pick up a book and a pen, stand up for education and not have their lives in danger.
posted by Aamir Hussaini
Pakistan Christian Congress foremost denies PM Sharif’s claims of Christians enjoying equal rights in Pakistan. -Dr. Nazir S Bhatti-President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC glumly asserted in a statement issued from the Central Secretariat of PCC that declaration made by Prime Minister of Pakistan Mian Nawaz Sharif in a Christmas get-together organized in Governor House Lahore. During this get-together PM Sharif said: Christian in Pakistan are enjoying equal rights in Pakistan; which has been seen with impudence by the PCC’s President saying, ”It is not true as Christian leaders on stage with him were all selected by his Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz Group PML (N) but not elected by votes of Christians.” Dr. Nazir Bhatti said: Islamic Republic of Pakistan not allows Christians to elect their leaders with their votes which is guaranteed under Article 226 of Constitution then how PM of Pakistan can claim that Christians are enjoying equal right in Pakistan. It’s unfortunate that Bishop Michael Nazir Ali was present in this event who always raised voice for equal Christian rights in Pakistan and against blasphemy laws but remained silent to speak truth because its on record that majority of cases under blasphemy laws are registered in Punjab against Christians under government of Pakistan Muslim League PML (N) which is headed by Mian Nawaz Sharif. Dr. Nazir Bhatti went on to maintain that: To comment on presence of Catholic Bishop of Lahore and Church of Pakistan Bishop in Christmas function of Governor Choudhry Sarwar is not important because our clergy bows to ever government weather its democratic or dictatorship because they are only “Yes Men” and never care for due rights of Christians in Pakistan but only speak truth when visiting Western countries to collect funds against blasphemy laws. Dr. Nazir went on to censure that: Pakistan Muslim League the ruling party declares to be legacy of All India Muslim League which strived for the formation of Pakistan in 1947. He maintained that, Founder of Pakistan Mohammad Ali Jinnah assured Election on votes in 14 Point doctrine during Pakistan Movement to Christians to favour formation of Pakistan but Selection system instead of Election is favoured by PML (N) in elections after 2002. He strongly disapproved the fact that the Pakistani Christians are not authorized to “elect” Christians leaders of their choice in the parliament on the seats reserved for the minorities by casting their votes save for Muslim political parties “select” Christians of their choice. In the statement Dr. Nazir Bhatti sternly predestined claims of Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif while demanding “equal rights for Christians in Pakistan with rights to elect their representatives in the parliament and repeal of blasphemy laws along with all laws. - See more at: http://www.christiansinpakistan.com/christians-not-enjoying-equal-rights-in-pakistan-pcc/#sthash.UalZQqBb.dpuf