Monday, June 30, 2014

Pakistan: Senate’s Opposition Leader Senator Aitzaz Ahsan urges PTI Chief Imran Khan to reconsider long march
Speaking in the Senate today, Ahsan said: “I appeal to Imran Khan to suspend his long march as Pakistan is in a state of war.” He said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government should look people displaced by the ongoing military operation in North Waziristan. “Pakistan can win this war if IDPs are handled well,” he opined. The PPP leader criticized the federal government for what he called “unsatisfactory steps” for IDPs. Meanwhile, Senate unanimously adopted the Pakistan Protection Bill 2014. Not a single party voted against the bill. Earlier, PPP and ANP staged a token walkout in the Senate against non-serious statements issued by some federal ministers after plane attack in Peshawar. Senator Raza Rabbai said: “Neither Interior Minister nor Aviation Adviser came to Peshawar after such an attack.”

Pakistan: End sectarian violence in Balochistan, HRW urges

Pakistan's government needs to adopt all necessary measures to prevent militant groups in Balochistan from committing further killings and abuse against Hazaras and other Shias, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report released on Monday.
The 62-page report titled “‘We are the Walking Dead’: Killings of Shia Hazaras in Balochistan, Pakistan,” details attacks launched by militant groups on the Hazara community in Balochistan.
Since 2008, several hundreds of Hazaras have been killed in targeted attacks and shootings.
Brad Adam, Asia Director HRW, said Sunni militants have targeted Hazaras extensively while they partake in religious congregations, travel to work, pray in mosques or just while they go about daily life. He said there was no travel route, no school, no shopping trip, or work commute that was safe for Hazaras, adding that the government's perceived failure to these attacks was appalling and unacceptable.
Due to these ongoing attacks, the half-million members of the Hazara community in Quetta live in perpetual fear, the report says, They are also forced to restrict their movements, which has led to greater economic hardships as well as limited access to educational and employment opportunities. As a result of this oppressive situation, scores of Hazaras are fleeing Pakistan and seeking refuge in other countries.
The Shia community in Pakistan has been repeatedly targeted in sectarian violence since 2008. The militant outfit Lashkar-e-Jhanghvi (LeJ) group has claimed responsibility for majority of the attacks but has managed to evade accountability.
On January 2013, two suicide bombers blew themselves up at a crowded snooker club in a predominantly Shia neighbourhood in Quetta, killing at least 70 people and injuring 120 others.
“It’s obscene that the Hazara community has been forced into a fearful and terrorised existence because the Pakistani authorities have failed to stop the LeJ’s violence,” Adams said. “But it’s beyond obscene that Pakistani authorities have suggested to Hazara that their severely curtailed rights are simply the price of staying alive.” Security forces in Balochistan have not done enough to investigate attacks on Hazaras and take appropriate security measures to foil the next attack. Many Hazaras told HRW that prejudiced attitudes and hostility towards them by officials and state security services were an important reason as to why most of the attacks went uninvestigated and subsequently unpunished.
The LeJ has also targeted members of the Frontier Corps force as well as policemen assigned to the security detail of Shia processions, pilgrimages and Hazara neighbourhoods.
The report said authorities claimed to have arrested scores of suspects in attacks against the Shia community since 2008, but most of them escape conviction. The HRW called upon the government to disband and disarm the LeJ and launch investigation against its leadership and others implicated in crimes.
It also said that international allies and donors should pressurise the government to abide by international human rights obligations and promote good governance by investigation sectarian killings in Balochistan and prosecuting all those responsible.
“Government officials and security forces need to understand that failure to tackle LeJ atrocities is no longer an option,” Adams said. “Inaction in the face of the slaughter of the Hazara and the wider Shia community is not only a callous betrayal of its own citizens, but suggests state complicity in allowing these crimes to continue.”

Pakistan: ‘Kayani was reluctant to launch N Waziristan operation’

A former Pakistan Army spokesperson has revealed that former army chief Gen (retd) Ashfaq Pervez Kayani was reluctant to launch a major military offensive against Taliban militants in North Waziristan despite the military leadership's decision three years ago.
Speaking during an interview with BBC Urdu published on Monday, former DG Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen (retd) Athar Abbas said that the military leadership of the country was in favour of launching the military offensive in 2010, however, it could not have been launched due to the indecision of Gen Kayani.
Abbas replied in the affirmative when questioned whether personal weaknesses of the former army chief played a part in the reluctance to launch the operation. “This is generally true,” he said.
“He (Kayani) was hesitant regarding the military offensive in North Waziristan … he was delaying the decision because he thought the decision would be considered as his personal verdict.” “That is why he kept on delaying the decision which cost us dearly,” Abbas added.
He said that this indecisiveness wasted a lot of time and the country, public, government and the armed forces paid a heavy price for it.
“The delay has strengthened the extremists … they have grown in numbers and they are more resourceful, they are better connected with each other now and in my opinion things have become more complicated,” said the former DG ISPR.
He revealed that the then top military leadership had decided to launch the military operation in North Waziristan upon recommendations of military commanders stationed there and on the basis of intelligence reports gathered from the area.
“The on ground military commanders were of the view that peace could not be restored in the country without a major military offensive because all kinds of militants had gathered in that area.”
Abbas said before that there were two kind of opinion prevailing among the top military leadership ranks. “One opinion was in favour of the offensive while another group was for delaying the action,” he added.
He said dealing with Haqqani Network was one of the reasons for the delay, adding that there was another issue of internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Athar Abbas revealed that the United States also contributed to the indecision, saying that unremitting pressure of launching the operation from the American leadership made it difficult for the Pakistani authorities as it would have looked like a decision taken on the behest of the US.

Sindh CM calls on Army Chief

Chief Minister Sindh, Syed Qaim Ali Shah, called on General Raheel Sharif, Chief of Army Staff at General Headquaters. He presented him a cheque of Rs 50 million on behalf of Government of Sindh for the IDPs of North Wazirastan Agency. Chief Minister Sindh expressed his solidarity with the displaced people of North Wazirastan Agency and reiterated that Government of Sindh would render all possible assistance for the well being of IDPs. The Chief Minister reaffirmed full support of the people of Sindh for the Armed Forces and ongoing operation Zarb e Azb.

US Should End Aid To Pakistan On Grounds Of Persecution Of Christians In Pakistan Says US Senator

Senator Rand Paul calls for an end to US aid to Pakistan by reason of intensifying persecution of Christians facing remarkable oppression in the country.
In keeping with details, Sen. Rand Paul has called for an ending to the American foreign aid to Pakistan on the grounds that the persecution of Christians living in the countryhas been on a higher side together with gender based violence where young Pakistani women are made to face ill-treatment on domestic as well as social level.
Sen. Rand Paul went on to present various examples of those victimised by the gender based violence before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee. He mentioned the internationally commended and much-admired young Pakistani girl Malala Yousafzai; who made a manifested demand and struggle for education for girls in her country. Adding on he upheld: no woman in Pakistan who seeks education is safe, thanks to the threat of the Taliban.
While on the other hand, he said that Christians, too, are collapsing in the hostile society. Sen. Paul talked about the blasphemy case of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani woman convicted and sentenced to death for committing blasphemy. After being alleged she was brutally stoned, dragged through streets, beaten and threatened with death facing extra judicial trial. Sen. Paul noted: According to her co-workers, she insulted the Prophet. In our country, we refer to such quibbling as gossip. In Pakistan, if you are a Christian, it can land you on death row. A report by the Fides agency Solidarity and Peace Movement claims that around 700 women including Christians were being forced to convert and marry Muslims every year.
Moreover, it’s not only the Christian women who are being targeted in the religion based violent attacks. In September last year, a Church in Peshawar with a congregation of around 500 to 600 people was attacked when two suicide bombers blew themselves up just as the people were about to leave after the Sunday mass had finished. This was the most deadly attack on the Christian community of Pakistan- as the history says claiming more than 80 lives and several seriously injured. This incident brought international condemnation to the Pakistani executives as well as nationwide disparagement by the Christians in Pakistan down to the lack of law enforcement or security laps regarding the Church blasts.
Continuing his argument Sen. Rand Paul said that most importantly the United States on moral grounds should cease to sponsor such human rights violations by sending aid to the country. He asserted: Many countries that receive U.S. foreign aid have laws that officially discriminate against Christians. Persecution of women is wrong. Persecution of Christians is wrong. Persecution of women or Christians in the name of religion must be stood up to. American power, if it is to have value in the world, must be used as a force against persecution. Our aid money, for example, should never go to countries that persecute women or Christians, not one dime.
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Pakistan: Qadri’s APC
Practically every party had sympathised with Pakistan Awami Tehrik over the killing of its activists. Interestingly, not all these parties attended Qadri’s All Parties Conference. Parliamentary parties like PTI, PML-Q and JI which are not reconciled to the results of last elections were however there. The MQM was presumably looking for an opportunity to put pressure on federal government which has continued to ignore it. The APC provided these parties an occasion to understand the thinking of PAT leadership and weigh the possibility of forming a united front in future. The APC also attracted a number of political castaways who desperately wave at every passing vessel irrespective of its destination. The flip flopping Tahirul Qadri once again told media that while the APC was called to seek political support against the killing of PAT activists, overthrowing the government was still an important part of his programme.
The PTI was the largest parliamentary party to attend the APC. The party’s core committee is divided over whether to use the forum of Parliament for electoral reforms or go for an all-out confrontation, unmindful of where it leads to. Leaders of the PTI’s Punjab chapter have talked about resignations by all party parliamentarians at an appropriate time. Imran Khan who was authorised to take the final decision gave a call at Bahawalpur for storming Islamabad with a million march on August 14. Was PTI representative scouting for possible help from PAT?
What Imran Khan fails to understand is that Tahirul Qadri is out to destabilise the system. What remains to be seen is whether he is doing this on account of personal idiosyncrasies or he is acting as a pawn in someone else’s game. It is the doubtful politics of the man which led parties like PPP, ANP, the Balochistan nationalists and others to avoid the APC. It would have been wiser for Khan not to touch Qadri with a barge pole.

Pakistan: Imran Khan’s greatest failure

Pakistan has had both vicious and stupid rulers, but God save us from some combination of the two. With his homicidal statements, Imran Khan is proving to be just like the Taliban he apparently admires. At his latest rally in Bahawalpur on Friday, Khan threatened the government with a ‘million man’ march on the capital if his ‘demands’ are not met. Cashing in on the scandal caused by the Punjab police last week, he said that if the police mistreated or shot at his supporters in the march, he would “hang them with his own hands”. Accompanying this murderous threat, he listed four ‘demands’: why did Nawaz Sharif make a victory speech on the night of May 11, when election results were unconfirmed; who are the returning officers responsible to; what role did Najam Sethi play in election rigging, and last but not least, what role did former Supreme Court Chief Justice (CJ) Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry play in manipulating the results of the elections. The latter two accusations (not demands) are in fact serious enough for the named parties to respond with defamation suits against Khan since he has not provided a shred of evidence to support his claims.
The only word left to describe Mr Khan now is ‘a petulant child’, a sad comedown from the hopeful days of last May. Evidence of his mental instability is overwhelming. It is a criminal offence to threaten to hang people, even the police! It is absurd pointing to Nawaz Sharif’s speech as proof that rigging occurred. Furthermore, in what can only be described as scraping the bottom of the barrel, Imran is also blatantly dishonest about the contents of the speech in which Sharif said, “Results are still coming in, but this much is confirmed we are the single largest party so far.” Al Jazeera reported on the night of May 11 that the PML-N was leading in 119 of 272 National Assembly seats. If confronted with this, Imran will probably say that Al Jazeera was also part of the rigging conspiracy! The fact is that by the night of May 11, the trends were relatively clear and the PML-N did not announce a victory, but expected one. Imran conceded defeat himself and congratulated Nawaz Sharif by the night of May 12. If he was so convinced his party was robbed, why did he acknowledge the results of the election or form the government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) (a question he avoids)? One could also ask Khan why on the night of May 11, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf workers from Rawalpindi were celebrating their victory in KP when they clashed with police and the incident was covered by the press. Following Imran’s logic, were his own workers part of a rigging plot? These holes in his argument more than imply that his current posture is driven by overweening ambition rather than principle.
The Khan rhetoric on display in Bahawalpur verged on the insane. Claiming that all opposition parties think the election was rigged, Khan has missed the fact that no other opposition party is with him. His threat to the police is criminal. It is not acceptable from the leader of a political party. However, Khan does not care what anyone thinks and he does not care about the country; he is convinced of his own rightness and willing to let the country suffer to prove it. He is too committed to this course of action now for any good sense to penetrate the egotism guiding his actions. The country is fighting a war, but one he does not believe in, and so he is willing to sacrifice its future to be proved right, and the devil take the facts or ground realities. Khan may take himself down, that is his right, but his current course could take innocent people down with him too, and that is unacceptable. Wake up Imran Khan, the country is in a tough situation and the need of the hour is clarity. Instead of spending on futile expensive rallies and stretching the resources of the state in protecting him and his supporters, Imran should work for the welfare of the people of KP who elected his party.

Pakistan: Zarb-i-Azb: 15 suspected militants killed in ground offensive

At least suspected 15 militants were killed in the ground offensive initiated by the Pakistan Army in and around the Miramshah area of North Waziristan tribal region, according to a statement issued by the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR).
A network of tunnels and a factory manufacturing improvised explosive device and bombs were also discovered by security forces.
The ISPR statement further said that three soldiers were wounded in an exchange of fire between militants and security personnel.
The army's infantry troops and Special Services Group (SSG) conducted door-to-door searches in Miramshah town to ensure that the civilian population had evacuated the area.
The ISPR statement added, "Meanwhile integrated fire of artillery, tanks and other heavy weapons is being carried out on terrorist concentrations in Mirali and other areas. Effective cordon is in place at other areas housing terrorists."
376 suspected militants have been killed while 19 others surrendered to authorities since the operation commenced two weeks earlier, according to the ISPR's tally.
The ISPR statement added that 61 suspected hideouts had also been destroyed, while 17 soldiers of the military have reportedly died during the ongoing operation.
The facts and figures could not be independently verified as access to media is severely restricted in the militancy affected region.
Distribution of relief items for internally displaced persons (IDPs) was underway at Bannu, DI Khan and Tank districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while rations were also transported to Bannu after collection from relief donations points established by Pakistan Army in major cities of the country.

Pakistan troops launch ground offensive against Taliban

The Pakistani army says it has launched a ground offensive against Taliban militants in North Waziristan.
A statement said operations had begun around Miranshah, the main town in the tribal region bordering Afghanistan. The move follows air strikes which the army says have killed 370 militants. There is no confirmation of the figure. North Waziristan has long been a sanctuary for militants. Correspondents say many are thought to have left the area before the offensive began.
The assault comes three weeks after militants attacked Pakistan's largest airport in Karachi, leaving more than 30 people dead. For the past two weeks, Pakistani forces have been carrying out air strikes against what it says are militant hideouts in North Waziristan.
Among their targets, they say, have been Uzbek militants who claimed responsibility for the Karachi attack and their Pakistani Taliban (TTP) allies.
Monday's army statement said troops were now conducting a door-to-door search in Miranshah.
"Troops have recovered underground tunnels and IED [improvised explosive device] preparation factories," it said.
The town has been one of the main TTP bases during recent years when militants who had at times been tolerated by the military killed thousands of people in a bombing campaign across Pakistan.
In public statements, Pakistani commanders have said they will not discriminate between so-called good and bad Taliban, reports the BBC's Andrew North in Islamabad.
But our correspondent says there are widespread reports from within North Waziristan that many militants were allowed to escape before the operations began.
Nearly half a million people have left North Waziristan since the offensive was announced following the Karachi airport attack.

One year after shocking terrorist attack, Pakistan’s peaks bereft of foreign climbers

For more than five decades, locals have called it “Killer Mountain,” a reminder of the risks of trying to scale beautiful, snow-topped Nanga Parbat.
More than 100 climbers and porters have died on the steep, rocky ascent up the world’s ninth-highest mountain — a fact Pakistan once touted in a bid to lure thrill-seekers.
Now, however, local residents are frantically trying to scrub the word “killer” from a mountain that has become a symbol of the threat posed by the Pakistani Taliban.
One year ago this month, about a dozen heavily armed Pakistani Taliban militants executed 10 foreign mountain climbers, including a U.S. citizen, at the base of the mountain. It was one of the worst acts of violence to strike the international climbing community.
Terrorism is hardly unusual in Pakistan; at least 3,000 people died last year alone in the country in violence attributed to Islamist extremists. But the attack at Nanga Parbat was a major blow, horrifying citizens who view the majestic northern mountains as a source of national pride.
“As a Pakistani, I look at it as our Sept. 11,” said Nazir Sabir, who in 2000 became the first Pakistani to climb Mount Everest in Nepal. He now operates an Islamabad-based tour company. “We never, never, ever thought that this could happen.”
The attack also crushed the remnants of Pakistan’s international tourism industry, creating new hardship in a part of the country known for its tolerance and hospitality.
Pakistan is home to five of the world’s 14 highest peaks, including K2, the second-highest mountain in the world. Nanga Parbat, at 26,660 feet, is Pakistan’s second-highest mountain.
After the attack, the number of foreign mountain climbers collapsed.
“It may take years and years before they will consider going back to a place like Pakistan,” said Steve Swenson, past president of the American Alpine Club, who has been on 11 climbing expeditions in Pakistan over the past three decades. “I talked to a lot of people, even fairly knowledgeable people, about going there again, and their immediate response is: Is it safe? And then a not-unusual response is: Are you crazy?”
‘This is the day we take revenge’
According to local officials and residents, the Pakistani Taliban attackers hiked through the wilderness for three days to reach the base camp on the western side of the mountain, known as the Diamir Face, late on June 22, 2013. “Taliban! Al-Qaeda! Surrender!” the militants shouted as they marched into the camp, where the climbers and about three dozen porters slept.
The assailants went looking for foreigners, slashing more than 40 tents with knives. They yanked people from their tents — one Lithuanian, three Ukrainians, two Slovakians, two Chinese, one American and one Nepali — tied their hands behind their backs and made them kneel in a row in the moonlight.
“Then, suddenly, we a heard a shot,” said one 31-year-old Pakistani climber, who was tied up by the militants nearby. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because he continues to fear for his safety.
“Then we heard hundreds of ‘brrr, brrr, brrr’ sounds,” like an automatic weapon might make, he said. “Then a leader of the group came and shot all the dead bodies one by one again.”
One militant then shouted, “This is the day we take revenge for Osama bin Laden,” the man recounted — an apparent reference to the United States’ killing of the al-Qaeda leader in Pakistan two years earlier.
Only one foreign climber — a Chinese man who hid in a steep trench clutching a pickax — survived. The attackers also killed a Pakistani cook, apparently because he was Shiite.
Pakistani police later arrested six people who reportedly confessed to the crime.
Tourist industry collapses
Before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, hundreds of thousands of tourists traveled each year to Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan district, where the Himalayan, Karakoram and Hindu Kush mountain ranges meet.
There were 20,000 tourists in northern Pakistan on the day of the attacks on New York and the Pentagon alone, but afterward the country was lucky to attract half that number in an entire year, said Tayyab Nisar Mir, a manager at the Pakistan Tourism Development Corp.
Those who did come were almost exclusively mountain climbers and long-distance backpackers determined to explore some of the world’s most picturesque scenery.
Although there were about 150 climbing expeditions a year in the country in the 1980s and 1990s, and about 75 annually after 9/11, only about 30 are likely to occur this year, officials said. And no climbers are expected this summer at Nanga Parbat. (At least two climbers made an unsuccessful attempt this past winter; no one has made it to the peak of Nanga Parbat or K2 in the winter).
The number of backpackers has declined even more dramatically, Mir said.
“Nanga Parbat was the last nail in the coffin of tourism in Pakistan,” he said, adding that the loss of tourism is costing the country $100 million annually.
Officials in Gilgit-Baltistan stress that the massacre was an isolated tragedy. They have been going to great lengths to reassure visitors that the region is safe.
On a pull-off spot overlooking Nanga Parbat on the Karakoram Highway, a sign once read, “Look to your Left: Killer Mountain.”
But Qaria Amin, 33, who operates a gem store at the spot, said that a month after the massacre, a police officer made him paint over the word “killer.” The sign now reads, “Look to your Left: Mountain.”
Amin says he is lucky if he makes a $100 a week now, compared with the $100 a day he used to bring in selling rubies, topazes and emeralds collected from the nearby hills.
At Fairy Meadows, a village that overlooks the northwest face of Nanga Parbat and the Raikot glacier, the tourism industry has “collapsed, causing hopelessness,” said Raji Rehmal, a resident.
The village of about 50 extended families is so remote that there are few other economic opportunities. To get there, visitors travel an hour by jeep up what locals call “the world’s most dangerous road,” a lane so narrow that vehicles’ tires are inches from the ledge. The road ends at an elevation of about 8,200 feet, and visitors then must hike to the village, elevation 11,154 feet.
Rehmal, who estimates that he is 50 years old, says he has walked at least 13,000 miles working as a guide or porter for foreigners. His work helped pay for the construction of a school for the village. A foreign climber came up with the name Fairy Meadows in the 1950s because the grassy plateau reminded him of a fairy tale, according to tour operators.
“In the good days, there were doctors who used to bring medicine, and Westerners who used to linger longer just to teach the local kids,” Rehmal said. “We would never, ever think of harming any tourist, any foreigner.”
Pakistani hikers in the area also said they miss the foreign visitors. “We have so little to be proud of, so if there is something as impressive as this, and foreigners come praise it, it’s a psychological lift,” said Nashreem Ghori, a 41-year-old Karachi native who was hiking near Fairy Meadows. ‘Sooner or later, the people will come back’
There has also been a steep decline in the tourism business in the Hunza Valley, an oasis of cherry and apricot trees wedged between imposing snow-covered mountains. The area is one of several Himalayan­ locations that have been mentioned as the possible inspiration for the mythical Shangri-La in James Hilton’s 1933 novel, “Lost Horizon.”
“Here, we have nice weather, nice mountains, nice people, but tourists are not coming, ” said Mohammad Karim, 34, a guide who also runs a camping store in Karimabad, a town in the valley.
Ghulam Nabi, owner of a campground at Fairy Meadows, said he fears that residents may resort to mining or logging to try to earn a living if the tourists stay away.
“The people of Gilgit-Baltistan have learned a lot from Western people,” Nabi said. “We were taught how to protect the environment, and how to balance tourism and nature.”
Authorities now assign an armed police officer to any foreigner who wants to go hiking near Nanga Parbat. Pakistanis are hopeful that such measures, and the stunning scenery, will eventually draw back tourists.
“Those mountains are not going anywhere,” said Iqbal Walji, a Pakistani tour operator. “Sooner or later the people will come back, because it’s one of the most beautiful places on earth.”

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Pakistan at war

Doubts remain about the belated offensive of Pakistan’s army in North Waziristan
FOR almost a decade American officials have moaned about the presence on Pakistani soil of an important safe haven for global terrorists, and the government’s stubborn refusal to do anything about it. A succession of American generals and diplomats have complained that the colonial-era anachronism known as North Waziristan is not just a command-and-control centre for fanatics attacking Pakistan. By providing a sanctuary for them, it has also made an outright victory against the Taliban next door in Afghanistan impossible.
Pakistan has resisted all American demands to get to grips with a place that is the most likely home of what remains of al-Qaeda’s core leadership, the base for especially lethal Afghan insurgent groups and the site where jihadists hatched the most serious plot against the American homeland since 2001—the botched car-bombing in 2010 of Times Square in New York.
None of these reasons was enough, it seemed, to coax Pakistan to take its troops inside North Waziristan out of the bases where they were locked down. Frustrated, America resorted to drone strikes to tamp down the menace, making itself even more unpopular in Pakistan.
Now, at the very fag-end of the West’s 13-year combat mission in the region, America is at last getting its wish, with the launch on June 15th of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, named after a sword of Koranic legend. Although this followed an especially provocative attack by the Pakistani Taliban, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), on the country’s busiest civilian airport, in Karachi on June 9th, the operation had been in the offing for months. It was delayed only at the insistence of Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister, on exhausting an always improbable bid to strike a peace deal with the TTP. Mr Sharif, like many other politicians, feared terrorist reprisals in Pakistan’s ill-prepared cities, and perhaps especially in his home province of Punjab.
Hostilities had in fact begun some time ago. The army prepared the way for a ground operation with air strikes against militant hideouts, which it rather improbably claims have caused no civilian casualties. Despite this, however, little had been done to prepare for the inevitable outflow of displaced civilians. Some 450,000 have fled, including many children who will be carrying the polio virus that has been rampant in North Waziristan ever since militants banned vaccinations in 2012.
American forces grumble they were given just 72 hours warning—not long enough to put in place preparations to block the retreat of militants into Afghanistan’s volatile eastern borderlands. With NATO in the final throes of winding down operations, only air power is really available anyway. Had the operation happened years ago, Western officials sigh, foreign forces could have provided an “anvil”. The Pakistani hammer could have crushed the al-Qaeda-linked extremist groups from its own country and around the world that have come to call North Waziristan home.
Sceptics doubt how far North Waziristan will really be cleaned up even now. For all the international opprobrium it has brought Pakistan, it has also provided a base for Afghan groups regarded as useful allies in Pakistan’s decades-long effort to dominate its neighbour. It is feared many of these so-called “good Taliban” have been allowed to slip away or will not be attacked. So far, though the army has bragged of killing hundreds of terrorists, particularly Uzbeks and other foreigners, it has not boasted of strikes against groups that have never attacked Pakistan: the Afghan Taliban; the Haqqani Network; and the Hafiz Gul Bahadur group.
The army claims it is determined to eliminate all terrorists of all stripes. But the motivation for Pakistan’s change of heart is not the misery North Waziristan has brought to the world but its role in the terrible rise of domestic terrorism in recent years. Yet militant groups have infiltrated themselves across Pakistan’s heartland. So, even if it is effective, the cleansing of North Waziristan will not end terrorist atrocities elsewhere in Pakistan.

Sri Lanka shuts terror door on Pakistan
Sri Lanka has banned visas on arrival for Pakistanis after investigations showed that jihadist groups targeting India were using Sri Lanka as a transit point. Lanka is also one of the few countries that extended such a facility to Pakistani nationals.
A bomb blast in a Chennai train in May revealed new plots against India by Pakistan-based jihadist groups using Sri Lanka and Maldives as transit points. A multinational investigation including Malaysia zeroed in on a Lankan national, Shakir Hussain, who confessed that he had visited India over 20 times on reconnaissance trips.
He told investigators, as was reported by TOI, that he was facilitating militants from Maldives who were tasked with attacking American and Israeli consulates in Bangalore and Chennai, critical infrastructure like airports and power plants in Chennai among other targets.
The investigation, sources said, also pointed to involvement by Pakistani officials at their mission in Colombo. Indian officials confirmed that Sri Lanka and Maldives have been red-flagged by Indian security establishment for some time. The new Maldives President Abdulla Yameen, too, has been sensitized to the growth of fundamentalism among youngsters who may be traveling to Pakistan for religious studies.
Modi, in his first conversations with Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, had raised this issue which he said was of particular sensitivity to India. On his return, Rajapaksa is believed to have launched an investigation. The results of the probe have contributed to the decision. In a related development, Sri lankan authorities have been rounding up Pakistani asylum seekers — almost 1,500 of them will be deported back to Pakistan. This has invited sharp criticism from human rights activists and the UN, because many of them are Ahmadiyas (a banned sect in Pakistan) and Shia Muslims.
While Indians have traditionally focused on north India as points of infiltration by Pakistan-supported elements, south India poses a particular danger.
Modi got Rajapakse on board
May 1 Chennai train blast revealed plots against India by Pakistan-based jihadists using Sri Lanka and Maldives as transit points. Modi conveyed the sensitivity of issue to Lankan President Rajapakse during his May 26 swearing in as PM and sensitized the new Maldivian president also. On return to Sri Lanka, Rajapakse ordered probe which led to decision.

Pakistan: Sindh govt has started registration of IDPs
Senior Sindh Education Minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhru has said that each citizen of the homeland has the constitutional right to live and stay in any part of the country and the Sindh government has started registration of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from North Waziristan.
After restoration of peace and tranquility, Sindh provincial government will also help the IDPs to return back to their native areas, the minister said this while talking to media persons on late Friday night after presiding over the 9th Convocation of the Institute of Modern Sciences and Arts (IMSA) Hyderabad here at a local hotel. Sindh government is sincere to provide all possible facilities to the IDPs, however insincere attitude of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government towards provision of basic facilities is enhancing the complication for those who left their hometowns, the minister alleged.
He said that it was the responsibility of the KPK Government to establish relief camps for IDPs and ensure the provision of foodstuffs, medicines and other necessity goods, but the KPK Government is creating such situation which increased the problems for IDPs, aimed to force them to agitate.
The minister reminded the establishment of relief camps during Swat Operation and Afghanistan War and the return of IDPs after normalcy in their areas adding that the KPK Government should respect the constitutional rights of the citizens of Pakistan.
Responding to a question, Nisar Ahmed Khuhru said that Pakistan Peoples Party fully believed in change through the votes of the masses.
The countrymen got the right of franchise from Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and the history proved that this right of the voters brought changes in the country whenever they received this right and even they exercised the right of franchise in difficult conditions.
PPP will welcome the change in the country when it come through the votes of the people, he said and maintained that the party will not support any extra constitutional move by anyone.
Earlier, speaking as chief guest at the convocation, the minister said that Sindh government has opened the job opportunities for tens of thousands jobless youth and the government will continue its effort also in the future. He called upon the passed out graduates to work with dedication and devotion and explore the opportunities also in private sector. The minister said that Sindh government has set examples in different fields particularly for women development. As a result of the government efforts, numbers of women are playing their key role for the progress and prosperity, he said and informed that a woman is heading the Women Bank while two women are discharging their responsibilities as the Vice Chancellors of Jamshoro and Khairpur Universities.
About the development of education sector, the minister informed that the government has appointed 20700 teachers on merit through NTS and the women were encouraged to become teacher by granting them 20 percent additional marks as the government believed that female teachers can impart knowledge to future generation in better direction. He appreciated the role of IMSA in promotion of education adding that besides public sector educational institutions, the private sector institutes are also playing vital role for provision of quality education.
Among others, the Vice Chancellor University of Sindh Jamshoro Prof. Dr. Abida Taherani, Vice Chancellor Shah Abdul Latif University Khairpur Prof. Dr. Parveen Shah and Chairman IMSA Shafique Haider Mousvi also addressed the participants of the convocation.
Later, the minister gave degrees to passing out graduates of MBA and ITT and also honoured medals to outstanding graduates of the institute.

PPP, ANP decline offer to attend Qadri APC tomorrow
Two old allied,Awami National Party (ANP) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) both have refused to attend the All Parties Conference (APC), which was summoned by Tahirul Qadri on the issue of Lahore incident. ANP leader Zahid Khan said Tahirul Qadri did not believe in the constitution or democracy. He said that the PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain had invited the ANP but the we have decided not to attend the APC of a party,which is bent upon derailing the democratic system. He said that the ANP strongly condemned the Model Town incident and express solidarity with the victims of the police brutality. He urged the government to pay compensation to the victim families and avoid such incidents in future. PPP leader Farhatullah Babar also announced the decision of his party not to attend the APC. Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Tahirul Qadri has convened an APC on July 29 with aim to discuss implications and fallout of the Model Town tragedy and reaching a joint strategy for punishing those responsible for the bloodshed and providing justice to the oppressed.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

China: WWI anniversary time for sober reflection

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of WWI. The devastations of the Great War and of WWII still send a chill down our spine. According to historical materials revealed later, no European powers anticipated a war of such scale. So what dragged Europe and the world into the meat-grinder? History has never stopped moving forward. Compared with the international relations after WWI, the post-WWII situation was more successful. The post-WWII structure has ensured general peace up to now; even though there was a period of Cold War, it was still a step forward compared with hot war.
Today it is unimaginable for the world to fall back to the Cold War. The lessons learnt from the previous world wars have propelled the progress of humanity.
Compared with a century ago, basic human nature has not changed much. The greed, selfishness, mistrust and contest for supremacy that triggered WWI, are still easy to find.
What is different today is that these dangerous elements are facing more constraints. The globalization has made the nations more interdependent. The multiple modern communication channels make strategic miscalculations similar to that of WWI barely possible. The UN is playing a bigger role than the League of Nations that was created after WWI. And nuclear weapons offer the deterrent of mutual destruction.
But history is full of surprises. We cannot overestimate humanity's wisdom and ability to control its fate. The world is never without problems, and humans always face challenges. As long as dangerous thoughts and the soil where they grow exist, the possibility of a new tragedy can never be excluded.
The US is the most powerful country in the world and thus bears the biggest responsibility in peace keeping. However, it has launched wars several times against other countries, and in doing so harmed world peace and stability.
Europe was the main battle field of the two world wars. Europeans have been active in pushing for world peace. But their reflections over the two wars have often been self-centered, and sometimes misleading.
In recent years, there have been new theories saying that today's China strongly resembles Wilhelmine Germany, and that East Asia is like the Europe of that time. Some even say the Diaoyu Islands are like Sarajevo. This notion could confuse the already tense Asian situation.
The world has made huge strides in the past century. We need to be more mature in reviewing history. The assessment of history must include non-Western perspectives, including those of China.

Saudi Arabia using malicious spyware on dissidents: HRW

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has strongly slammed Saudi Arabian authorizes for hacking into the mobile phones of dissidents to obtain data on anti-regime protests.
A senior researcher at the New York-based organization said on Saturday that the Saudi regime should clarify whether it is infecting and monitoring mobile phones with surveillance malware.
"We have documented how Saudi authorities routinely crack down on online activists who have embraced social media to call out human rights abuses,” said Cynthia Wong, senior internet researcher at the HRW, adding “It seems that authorities may now be hacking into mobile phones, turning digital tools into just another way for the government to intimidate and silence independent voices.”
The spyware allows the regime to see a phone's call history, text messages, contacts, emails and files from social media. It also allows authorities to take pictures or record conversations without the owner's knowledge.
The rights group accuses the Saudi regime of utilizing the surveillance software to mostly target individuals in the eastern city of Qatif, which has been the site of sporadic protests since February 2011.
The HRW also criticized the kingdom for using surveillance software to target the Saudi Shia Muslims in various parts of the country.
The latest developments come as Saudi Arabia has already been criticized by human rights organizations for cracking down on online activists.
Last October, Amnesty International censured Saudi authorities for not addressing the “dire human rights situation” in the kingdom. The group also handed in a paper to the United Nations (UN), which included information regarding a “new wave of repression against civil society, which has taken place over the last two years.”

The Fourth Coming of Putin expected in 2018

Vladimir Putin's rating grows. Most likely, the Russians will not wish to see another person as their president in 2018. It is quite possible that Putin will run for presidency for the fourth time. He has people's trust and many more plans.
Mikhail Remizov, President of the National Strategy Institute
"There is a strong political line on integration, social justice, public sector. These are important issues associated with the defense of priorities of the moral majority. These are some rhetorical moves in the direction of the status of the Russian majority in Russia. This is a conservative turn that meets the needs of the majority."

If Iraq collapses, entire Middle East could be destabilized – Lavrov

If Iraq collapses it could destabilize the entire Middle East and the adjacent regions, with unrest lasting for years, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday. "If Iraq collapses – and considering that Libya has almost collapsed already, and someone apparently wants Syria to share a similar fate –
the whole region would simply explode and unrest would become its dominant feature. And it would affect not just the Middle East and Northern Africa, but the adjacent regions as well," Lavrov said.
Lavrov also noted that during his last phone conversation with the US Secretary of State John Kerry they both talked "mostly about Iraq and the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS) rather than about Ukraine."
Not just the US and UK, but all of the region’s countries should participate in dealing with the Iraqi crisis, Lavrov believes.
The governments of Iraq and Syria seek to contain the advance of ISIS militants who seek to establish control over a large oil-rich territory.
"We urge others to make conclusions out of what happened in Iraq, Libya and Yemen – the countries where not all of the problems were dealt with. The country’s unity is still being severely tested. It’s not London and Washington that should make the decisions, like it was in Iraq in 2003, but all of the region’s countries, all of the neighbors of Iraq," Lavrov said.
He also added that as permanent members of the UN Security Council, Russia and China would also participate in "this contemplation."
"Let me emphasize it once again, all of the Iraq’s neighbors should be at the negotiations table, just like Syria’s neighbors should all discuss the Syrian issue. And I believe that a similar approach should be adopted in dealing with the crisis in Afghanistan," Lavrov said.
According to him, if the West agrees and "would stop thinking that it’s the only one capable of devising a strategy for the entire international community, the situation would develop in a much more positive way."
Read more:

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Opinion: 1914 all over again?

A host of reports in Germany argue there are a number of striking similarities between 1914 and today. In fact, there are analogies, says DW's Susanne Spröer, but the differences are far more important.
Trenches and gas masks, spiked helmets and propaganda postcards: Newspapers, magazines and online media have been commemorating World War One for weeks as 2014 marks the centenary of the war's outbreak.
Often, articles attest that our world today isn't that far off from 1914, stating a "haunting currentness of WWI," a "past that doesn't go by," and "the Great War's disastrous echo."
And there are in fact similarities between 1914 and 2014.
Back then, people also looked ahead to a rapidly changing future with new transportation means (like cars), new media (cinema) and new communication means (telephone). It was a time when people believed in modern times - times of new departures, the first waves of globalization and international travels.
It was a first glance into a future that people wanted to shape according to their needs, by making use of the means available to them. But these aren't the means we have today.
Separatists like Catalans in Spain or the Northern Irish in Great Britain are still fighting for independence within a united Europe - just like Serbian nationalists did back then. But most of them don't make use of violence to reach their goal, having turned to arguments instead. Terrorism then and now
And just like Sarajevo's conspirators, there are indoctrinated people today who are willing to die for their extremist ambitions: the masterminds of the 9/11 attacks or suicide attackers who kill innocent bystanders in Baghdad on an almost daily basis.
But such actions are ostracized by the international community today. And so is the dictum of war as "continuation of politics with different means" which was coined by the Prussian general and military theorist Carl von Clausewitz in the 19th century. On the eve of the First World War, he described a legitimate political course of action available to those in power. The dreadful face of war And it wasn't just for them. Many urban citizens and even artists and intellectuals in the German Empire were in favor of war in 1914, because they expected to be cleansed by it: "War! It was purification, liberation, what we felt was an immense hope," Thomas Mann wrote about the start of war. Mann would later go on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Such thinking might sound naïve to us today, but at the time they had yet to experience millions of dead people in trenches, mentally wounded "shell-shocked" soldiers and brutally mutilated gas victims.
Because we know the awful face of war all too well today, we can hardly imagine that European countries decided to stop negotiations and - as they did in 1914 - to recklessly plunge into war. At the beginning of the 20th century, militarism was deeply rooted in European societies; especially in German society.
Today, in the Federal Republic of Germany, this is no longer the case. On the contrary: Since Germany abolished its compulsory military service in 2011, the military is having a difficult time recruiting young soldiers.
Europe's long road to peace
Most of those participating in talks ahead of World War I were older, aristocratic men with military backgrounds. Today's democratically elected European governments represent very different groups in society: Young and old, men and women. In 1914, women weren't even allowed to vote - today, a mother of seven leads the German Defense Ministry.
Indeed, they are similarities between 1914 and 2014. But a lot has happened since then. Germany and its neighbors have learned from history and now stand for democracy and freedom of speech. Former enemies have become friends - friends who argue but friends nevertheless - who shape politics in democratic institutions such as EU and UN. That of course doesn't always go smoothly, but it's still a lot better compared to 1914 when EU and UN didn't even exist.
It's not war, but reconciliation, understanding and negotiations that can secure lasting peace. That's a consensus for us today, and Europe has come a long way to reach it.
We shouldn't forget this. Because 2014 isn't just the anniversary of the beginning of WWI, but also of the start of WWII (1939), the fall of the Wall (1989) and the EU enlargement to the east (2004). How once hostile countries were able to fulfill the vision of a joint Europe is the European success story of the 20th century.

Serbia, WWI, and the question of guilt

When it comes to World War I, Serbia sees itself as both a victor and a victim - but not as a culprit. The country considers any blame placed on it to be a distortion of facts. DW takes a look.
It is June 28, 1914. A young man is sitting inside a cafe in Sarajevo, the capital of Austro-Hungarian-ruled Bosnia. Under his coat he clutches a pistol. He has come here to end the life of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne.
Suddenly, the royal party arrives. The young man doesn't hesitate and shoots both Ferdinand and his wife. The assassin is Gavrilo Princip, a 19-year-old Serbian student. He obtained the weapon from a secret military society known as Black Hand, which was out to create a greater Serbia. But, as it turns out, that goal diverged from Princip's original aspirations. As a member of the Young Bosnia revolutionary organization, Princip strove for liberation from Austro-Hungarian rule and the creation of a state of united South Slavic countries, i.e., Yugoslavia. To this day, he is revered in Serbia as a national hero - and viewed as a terrorist elsewhere.
"What provided the spark for his bullets?" asked Serbian writer and historian Vladimir Pistalo: "It was because Princip had no influence on who ruled his country." For Princip, in other words, Franz Ferdinand was simply a tyrant. Following the assassination, Austria-Hugary presented the Serbian government with an ultimatum; 37 days later, World War I had broken out.
Conflicting perspectives
So, who is to blame? This remains the most crucial question in Serbia as this year's centenary draws nearer. The debate is flooding Serbian media. Was it the "war-thirsty Teutons" - i.e.,Germans and Austrians - as the official Serbian version tells it? Or was all of Europe simply a giant powder keg waiting to blow? That the keg was ignited by a Serb, does this make the Serbian nation guilty, as some historians suggest?
Not at all, according to Serbian history textbooks. "After being unified in 1871, Germany was in a strong economic position. The military leadership in Berlin demanded a shift of power and colonial wealth," claims one standard account. It goes on to say that the central powers were simply waiting for an excuse to mobilize their troops.
Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic recently commented on the issue. He told the Belgrade daily Politika that attempts were being made to place blame on Serbia, to hold it responsible for triggering global-scale tragedies.
A circle of Serbian intellectuals that include world-famous filmmaker Emir Kusturica are even demanding that the "unlawful" trial against Princip be annulled. And the first monument dedicated to Princip is being erected in a central park in Belgrade to mark the anniversary of the outbreak of the war.
A tragic victory
"The Hero of 1914" is the title of a new Serbian documentary by author and journalist Filip Svarm. It is not about Gavrilo Princip or the top politicians and officers of the time. The "hero" is embodied by Serbia's farmers, who made up close to 80 percent of the Serbian army. According to Svarm, the film is an attempt to put the "ordinary man" in the limelight, the Serbian farmer whose priority it was to protect his family, his property and his way of life.
A quarter of Serbia's 4.5 million residents died in World War I. Most perished in combat, while 400,000 others died of typhoid, cold or hunger. German, Bulgarian and Austro-Hungarian occupying forces executed around 60,000 Serbian civilians. This is one of the reasons why, according to Svarm, it is "unreasonable" to hold Serbia responsible. "Serbia was a victim of war - a testing ground for the power struggles between the great powers," he said.
Many Serbians still see their country as a kind of eternal victim, a target of "Germanic hatred" that manifested itself later in the Second World War and the Yugoslav Wars and continues today. This view was recently illustrated by the "Vreme" magazine, which published a previously unreleased photo of Adolf Hitler gazing at a present he received for his 52nd birthday in 1941. It was a commemorative plate, confiscated by the Wehrmacht in Sarajevo, bearing the inscription, "On this historic square, Gavrilo Princip proclaimed freedom."

Sarajevo Marks War Centennial With Message of Unity to Divided Country

Sarajevo marked the centennial on Saturday of a prince's murder that lit the fuse for World War One, offering a message of unity to a divided country and a continent buffeted by deep social and economic strife.
The centerpiece of a string of cultural and sporting events will be a concert by the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra in the Bosnian capital, where the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne was shot dead with his wife on a bright June morning in 1914.
The murder of Franz Ferdinand by a 19-year-old Bosnian Serb called Gavrilo Princip set the Great Powers marching to war. More than 10 million soldiers died, as empires crumbled and the world order was rewritten.
Sarajevo closed the century under siege by Bosnian Serb forces during Yugoslavia's bloody disintegration. Still coming to terms with that conflict, Bosnia's former warring communities met Saturday's centennial deeply at odds over Princip's motives and his legacy.
Leaders of Serbia and the Bosnian Serbs, who consider the assassin a hero, are boycotting the official commemoration in Sarajevo, angered by what they say is an attempt to link the wars that opened and closed the 20th century, and to pin the blame on them.
They will instead re-enact the murder and Princip's trial in the eastern Drina river town of Visegrad, scorched into the memory of many in the Balkans for some of the worst atrocities of the 1992-95 war by Bosnian Serb forces driving out Muslim Bosniaks.
In Sarajevo, the Vienna Philharmonic will perform a repertoire harking strongly back to the days of the Habsburg Empire, including Haydn, Schubert, Berg and Brahms.
The concert will take place in the capital's restored City Hall, known as Vijecnica, where Ferdinand attended a reception on June 28, 1914. He left in an open car with his wife, Sophie, but the driver took a wrong turn and Princip shot them from a Browning pistol on the banks of the river.
The Austrians attacked Serbia a month later and the Great Powers, already spoiling for a fight, piled in. The neo-Moorish Vijecnica, which later became the National Library, went up in flames in 1992 under fire from Bosnian Serb forces in the hills, almost 2 million books perishing in the inferno.
“Never again”
“This is a symbolic concert in a symbolic location,” Professor Clemens Hellsberg, the orchestra's president and first violin, told a news conference on Friday. “We want to provide a vision of a common future in peace,” he said.
The conductor, Franz Welser-Most, noted that the Austrian composer Alban Berg “was in favor of the outbreak of World War One”. But, he said, the “Three Pieces for Orchestra” that he wrote at the time and was to be performed on Saturday “describes the marching to war and what disaster it brings”.
Asked about the significance of a Viennese orchestra marking the event, Welser-Most said: “You should not deny the burden of history.” The message, he said, was “never again”.
Leaders of the 28-member European Union marked the centennial on Thursday in Ypres, the Belgian city synonymous with the slaughter of the war, papering over divisions borne of economic crisis and growing support for the anti-EU right.
For visitors to the city, guides offered tours of Sarajevo, Princip's haunts and the key locations on the day he killed Franz Ferdinand. Performers rehearsed for a midnight musical planned on the bridge near where he fired the fatal shot.
On Friday, Serbs in Bosnia unveiled a statue of Princip in East Sarajevo. They have rebuilt his family home, razed during the 1992-95 war, and will open it on Saturday as a museum.
Serbs see Princip as a freedom fighter not just for Orthodox Serbs but for Bosnia's Muslim Bosniaks and Catholic Croats too, his shot bringing down the curtain on centuries of imperial occupation over the Balkans.
That was the official narrative for decades under socialist Yugoslavia. But the collapse of their joint state shattered perceptions of Princip, whom many Bosniaks and Croats regard as a Serb nationalist with the same territorial ambitions as those behind much of the ethnic cleansing of the 1990s.
Bosnia was divided into two autonomous regions after the war, in a highly decentralized system of ethnic power-sharing that has stifled development and, critics say, only cemented divisions.
Asked about the absence of official Serb representatives from the Sarajevo commemoration, the city's Croat mayor, Ivo Komsic, told reporters: “They demonstrate their attitude not to the past but to the future.”

The man who started WWI: 7 things you didn't know

By Tim Butcher
A century ago this Saturday on a street corner in Sarajevo, Gavrilo Princip fired the shot that started World War I when he killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand. What do we know about history's greatest teenage troublemaker?
1. His name was Gavrilo, or Gabriel.
Our history teachers taught us that World War I began after a gunman killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914.
The shooting acted as a trigger, metastasizing from a Balkan street corner into a continental crisis by releasing pent-up tension between rival blocs of Great European Powers: the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Germany on one side and France, Russia and Great Britain on the other.
The name of the gunman was Gavrilo Princip, his first name meaning Gabriel in his mother tongue, Serbian. His mother had wanted to call him Spiro after her late brother, but the local priest intervened saying the boy should be name after the Archangel Gabriel.
2. He was only 19 when he triggered the first global conflict.
Surely history's greatest teenage troublemaker, Princip was a student in his last year of high school -- the eighth grade -- when he fired the shot that sparked World War I.
His exact age was a matter of intense legal scrutiny after the assassination because so many people in Austria-Hungary believed a death sentence appropriate for the assassin who had killed the heir to the Habsburg empire. But the Austro-Hungarian legal code was clear on capital punishment. Only those 20 years of age or older on the day of the offense could be executed.
The recorded birth date for Gavrilo Princip was 13 July, 1894, making him 19 years, 11 months and 15 days on the day of the assassination, in other words just two weeks inside the deadline that would have seen him hanged.
It all got a bit complicated when a council record was found by investigators that suggested he had actually been born on 13 June 1894, making him old enough to execute. But after much legal debate it was accepted that this record was a mistake -- the month of July in the Cyrillic script used by the parish can easily be mistaken for June.
Princip was sentenced to 20 years in prison -- the maximum penalty for someone his age at the time -- but would be dead before the guns of WWI fell silent, dying of tuberculosis in the hospital at his jail on April 28, 1918.
3. He had the same nationality as Adolf Hitler.
00 years ago, at the twilight of the grand imperial era, the notions of the nation state and of nationality belonged to the future. Countries like Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Austria did not exist.
Instead they were bundled together in the sprawling Habsburg Empire, also known as Austria-Hungary, a muddle of divergent ethnic groups often speaking very different languages, and of varying vintages, all under the imperial control of Vienna -- the system was so chaotic that in parts of the empire vehicles drove on the left, elsewhere on the right.
Gavrilo Princip was born in a province of Austria-Hungary that had recently been acquired, an area known as Bosnia Herzegovina. For centuries it had been occupied by the Ottoman Empire but in 1878 it was "flipped," becoming Habsburg territory overnight.
Its citizens did not have passports but they did have travel passes, and as a young man Gavrilo Princip qualified for the same type of pass as that given to Adolf Hitler, who was born further to the northwest, but still within the Austro-Hungarian empire.
4. As an assassin, Princip had the luck of the devil.
The driver of the Archduke's car should have driven straight past Princip at speed but, because of a misunderstanding, he turned the car on the exact corner where Princip was standing and was immediately shouted at to stop. Princip found his target a sitting duck right in front of him. He fired only one shot at the Archduke with a pistol. By a fluke the bullet cut Franz Ferdinand's jugular vein. He was dead in a matter of minutes.
5. He was not a Serb nationalist.
Princip was actually a south Slav nationalist; although ethnically a Bosnian Serb, he supported a group of activists calling for the unification of all local Slav people in Bosnia: Muslims, Croats and Serbs. Their dream was to drive out the Habsburg occupier, so shooting the Archduke was seen as a "grand gesture" to inspire others to rise up against the foreign power.
6. The plan worked, but at a terrible price.
The shooting triggered a war that Princip could never have anticipated. Millions died and empires fell -- and eventually, the hated Austro-Hungarians were driven out of Bosnia. As a result, the local Slavs had the chance to unite in one country, later called Yugoslavia, meaning a nation for south Slavs. In the eyes of some locals there, Princip could be heralded as a "liberator."
7: His legacy in the Balkans was toxic.
The wars that ripped Bosnia apart in the 1990s were driven by ethnic divisions between the local Slav communities: Serb, Croat, Muslim. The dream of all local Slavs living together was shattered. Though Princip fired his gun a hundred years ago in hopes of freeing his Slav kinfolk, today he is "blamed" for being an ethnic Bosnian Serb, tainted by association with those extremists responsible for committing atrocities during the Balkans war. The issue is so toxic that, as the centenary of the June 28, 1914 assassination approached, in Bosnia there was no national consensus on how it should be acknowledged. History's greatest teenage troublemaker is also, perhaps, history's most toxic teenage troublemaker.

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On ‘high alert’: Pakistan listed 10th on fragile states index

The Express Tribune
Pakistan is ranked 10th on the annual Failed States Index, renamed this year as the ‘Fragile States Index’, a survey carried out by the Fund for Peace, a Washington-based research organisation.
Pakistan ranks just above Zimbabwe and Iraq, while South Sudan tops the index of fragile states. Afghanistan is ranked 7th on the list while India ranks 81.
In 2013, Pakistan ranked 13th on the index, which collates data from 12 indicators including demographic pressures, refugees and internally displaced persons, group grievance, human flight and brain drain, uneven economic development, poverty and economic decline.
The index categorises countries according to a spectrum of warnings, ranging from ‘very high alert’ to ‘very sustainable’ – Pakistan is described as state on ‘high alert’.
“Pakistan began 2013 on a promising note,” a statement from the Fund explains, but “one year later, the atmosphere of optimism that surrounded the elections is fading fast.” Sectarian violence, attacks on minority groups particularly in Balochistan, the failed peace talks between the government and the Taliban, and obstacles faced by humanitarian aid workers and health officials in the battle against polio are considered while categorising Pakistan as ‘very fragile’. However, the statement adds, “Pakistan moved up the list since 2013 not because of the worsening of its own scores but the improvement of others around it.”
“We won’t be seeing any countries turning their economies around overnight if they are facing demographic pressures or have huge political concerns, like corruption or human rights abuse,” remarked the Fund’s Executive Director Krista Hendry.

‘Baloch students will take up arms if denied rights’

Lateef Jauhar has lost too much weight and his skin its glow. But even then, he is stable and his body has begun to accept food again.
Jauhar went on a 40-day hunger strike outside the Karachi Press Club after his party leader Zahid Baloch was kidnapped by unidentified people. Even until now the whereabouts of Zahid are not known. This Baloch, who is now regarded as one of the heroes of his student party -- the Baloch Student’s Organisation-Azad (BSO-A), readily sat down to die for a cause, but ultimately survived to tell his tale.
Invited by the Awami Workers Party (AWP), Jauhar had an hour-long talk with his audience, mostly comprising AWP party members, press and others belonging to the civil society.
His struggle was a terrible experience, he said. So sick did he become that he had to be put on a drip while on hunger strike. He was accompanied by many other BSO-A students and leaders, and other Baloch who live in Karachi and even interior Sindh and Balochistan. But nothing deterred him from going back.
“I had to do this to put pressure on the elements,” he said. “The media gave me coverage, but many media outlets gave my cause better coverage than others. But in the end, I feel I have managed to send my message across, even internationally. Eventually, I was persuaded by my community, intellectuals and human rights organisations that I would be needed more living than dead.”
“Whom can a dead man help?” He said the Asian Human Rights Commission was one of the prominent groups that helped him realise this.
Balochistan is one of the poorest provinces,” he said. “But the terror that our youths are facing has reached the roots of society. Even the student who goes out to buy a pen is apprehended by these elements and is then interrogated and given such a hard time that in the medium to long run it is hardly surprising that these young men turn towoards violence. Our libraries and our literature have been burnt, and I want to say we had no objectionable material, unless these people think sayings of Karl Marx and others go against the state.”
Jauhar openly blamed the state for its incompetence and indifference. He went to the extent of saying many of these elements are directly linked to the state.
“If students are bullied like this how is it expected that he will go forward and hold talks? They will become psychologically unstable and eventually this frustration will force them to take up arms. In a militant’s eyes, it is not wrong to take up arms against someone who has beat up his mother or killed his brother.
In fact for him it will be justified. If he does not become a rebel, he will become a liability. Due to this insecurity, the BSO-A held its last meeting in the rugged mountains in secret.”
He claimed Baloch activists are constantly being kidnapped, tortured and killed. Sometimes they are so brutally tortured and mutilated that they cannot be identified.
“This sort of violence will only breed further violence. What is the use of this aggression, especially from state elements?”
He said Baloch are e presented as unnecessarily fierce and brutal militants instead of showing that they want peace and stability in the region.
“If we do not allow more liberal and progressive people to rule, we in Balochistan fear the country will never find a turning point where the situation can be improved.”
Jauhar also spoke about other matters in Balochistan, including growing militancy and how BSO-A was against it, and how state elements and terrorists in the weakening province were creating serious strife for the people. He condemned the level of sectarianism in the province and said it was a reflection of the state’s indifference to such major issues.
“We have sacrificed so many of our people, including women. Now we want a stop to this violence. In Baloch history we have a woman leader for the first time whose house is attacked every single day.”

Pakistan: World should be briefed about operation
Pakistan Peoples Party Punjab President Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo on Friday said he would like the government to send delegations to important countries to apprise them about the operation against terrorists. Wattoo, in a statement here, said the operation against terrorists was not only restoration of peace in Pakistan only, but for the protection of the world also.
He said the neighbouring countries were worried as terrorism could affect them. The international community wanted to support Pakistan in the war against terror to restore peace in the region and in the world.
He said the nation was united and it was supporting the Pakistan Army. The operation Zarb-e-Azb would be successful as the nation was behind it, he added.

Pakistan: Militants destroy Girls Schools in Charsadda,Mohmand Agency

Two government schools were blown up in separate areas of restive tribal region on Saturday, while 4 people killed including police personnel. According to sources, insurgents planted explosives at Government Girls Primary School in Mohmand Agency at night and later detonated them with a remote-controlled device. A solar water pump was also destroyed in the bombing later. It was set up by a private company just two days ago to provide clean drinking water to locals. Second primary school was targeted in Charsadda. Terrorists placed explosive material in the school at night and blew it up before sunrise. Police say that the school was completely destroyed after the explosion.

U.S. job far from done in Afghanistan

By Stephen J. Hadley and Kristin M. Lord
As the United States draws down its forces in Afghanistan and shifts from direct combat to the narrower mission of countering terrorism and training Afghan forces, some might think this is the time to declare “job done” and focus U.S. attention elsewhere. That would be a mistake. As the current violence in Iraq illustrates, the gains won by our military are fragile. Peace, once won, must be sustained.
Afghanistan is now in the delicate process of laying the foundation for a democratic political transition – the first since President Hamid Karzai assumed the presidency. As many as 7 million Afghans, or around 60 percent of eligible voters, have twice defied the Taliban and cast ballots to select the country’s next president, first in the general election and again in this month’s runoff.
The high turnout and lower level of violence than many had expected are a testament to how non-violent conflict resolution and peacebuilding can multiply and solidify the investments of the United States and the sacrifices made by American troops. The potential for international assistance to help resolve electoral disputes that have cropped up in the past week illustrates the need for continuing engagement.
Organizations like the United States Institute of Peace, which we both serve, have been helping create the conditions for a peaceful transition that will make Afghanistan more stable and less violent, while improving the lives of the Afghan people. A stable and prosperous Afghanistan can be a vital ally of the United States in a troubled region, and will help ensure that al Qaeda and its associates never again gain a foothold in the region’s mountains and valleys.
Investing in the powerful tools of peacebuilding is both effective and cost-effective, but peacebuilding takes time. Some of the best-spent dollars are those used to prevent or reduce conflicts that can engulf regions and threaten American interests, investments that foster strong allies and partners. We should heed the lessons of our experience in Germany and South Korea, where our unflagging, long-term commitments in the aftermath of war have established thriving partnerships with now-critical allies.
For the past several years, U.S. and other international organizations in Afghanistan have been supporting local institutions and civil society groups, working hand-in-hand to develop and employ innovative approaches that would help ensure a credible, inclusive and transparent election.
Afghans organized forums where women challenged presidential hopefuls on economic, political and social issues, and the country’s burgeoning media outlets promoted an almost non-stop run of televised candidate debates. At the grassroots level, activists organized poetry competitions that drew on treasured Afghan traditions, and ran a radio show to raise awareness about rule of law. There was even a rap video contest to devise an election anthem, and graffiti promoting a peaceful election, to engage the youth who are so important to the process and to Afghanistan’s future.
The Afghan-led efforts were underpinned by research, expertise and financial backing from the U.S. and other international donors. The outcome might help U.S. troops and their NATO-coalition partners to withdraw most of their military forces, as planned, with greater confidence that the gains won by more than a decade of fighting can be sustained.
Tools for preventing, mitigating and resolving violent conflict – national or interfaith dialogue, facilitation skills, multiparty negotiations, and education and training to build support for the rule of law are just a few – will become only more crucial as technology spreads and global power becomes more diffuse. And the costs of such tools are relatively modest. USIP’s recent annual congressional appropriations of about $35 million equals approximately the amount needed to field one light infantry rifle platoon in Afghanistan. Imagine what we could achieve with even more concerted efforts and funding for peacebuilding and conflict resolution.
Well-done and well-resourced, peacebuilding can help prevent the loss of American lives, enhance American security and preserve U.S. tax dollars, while relieving human suffering and demonstrating America’s commitment to peace. It maximizes other U.S. government investments in diplomacy, foreign assistance and the armed forces. It also strengthens local institutions around the world that can sustain long-term campaigns against deadly violence for decades after America’s investment ends.

Taliban Mount Major Assault in Afghanistan

In one of the most significant coordinated assaults on the government in years, the Taliban have attacked police outposts and government facilities across several districts in northern Helmand Province, sending police and military officials scrambling to shore up defenses and heralding a troubling new chapter as coalition forces prepare to depart.
The attacks have focused on the district of Sangin, historically an insurgent stronghold and one of the deadliest districts in the country for the American and British forces who fought for years to secure it. The Taliban have mounted simultaneous attempts to conquer territory in the neighboring districts of Now Zad, Musa Qala and Kajaki. In the past week, more than 100 members of the Afghan forces and 50 civilians have been killed or wounded in fierce fighting, according to early estimates from local officials.
With a deepening political crisis in Kabul already casting the presidential election and long-term political stability into doubt, the Taliban offensive presents a new worst-case situation for Western officials: an aggressive insurgent push that is seizing territory even before American troops have completed their withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The battle in Helmand is playing out as, about 1,500 miles to the west, Iraq is losing ground to an insurgent force that advanced in the shadow of the American withdrawal there. The fear pulsing through Afghanistan is that it, too, could fall apart after the NATO-led military coalition departs in 2016.
Already, areas once heavily patrolled by American forces have grown more violent as the Afghan military and the police struggle to feed, fuel and equip themselves. The lackluster performance of the Afghan Army so far in Helmand has also evoked comparisons with Iraq, raising questions about whether the American-trained force can stand in the way of a Taliban resurgence.
Officials in Helmand say the answers may come soon enough.
“The Taliban are trying to overrun several districts of northern Helmand and find a permanent sanctuary for themselves,” said Hajji Mohammad Sharif, the district governor for Musa Qala. “From there, they pose threats to the southern parts of Helmand and also pose threats to Kandahar and Oruzgan Provinces.”
Officials from the government and the international military coalition flew to Helmand on Friday to assess the situation. The military has sent in reinforcements, though early reports from residents indicate that those forces had made little headway in pushing the Taliban back. The police have fought ferociously to protect their areas and, in at least a few cases, succumbed only after running out of ammunition.
While the government claims that none of the checkpoints attacked by the Taliban have fallen, district elders and villagers say otherwise, characterizing the situation as approaching a humanitarian crisis. Thousands of residents are believed to have been displaced in the fighting.
“I see the people running everywhere with their women and children to take shelter,” said Hajji Amanullah Khan, a village elder. “It is like a doomsday for the people of Sangin. We do not have water, and there is a shortage of food.
“The price of everything has gone up because the highways and roads have been blocked for the last week.”
Northern Helmand is a small region with a history of troubles. Despite the recent Taliban gains, the area is far from lost. With its austere deserts interrupted by dense lines of foliage hugging the Sangin River, the district has long been marooned in a sea of Taliban support. It is also squarely in the heart of poppy country, a vital and growing source of income for the insurgents.
Though positioned at a significant crossroads into the northern Helmand area, with access to neighboring provinces, Sangin also carries great symbolic weight. The Taliban have repeatedly used the area to make a statement about the limits of Afghan and Western government strength, and local officials fear a similar approach now.
“The Taliban are planning to create problems in several northern Helmand districts to pave the way for their fighters to operate freely in the area and pose threats to Kandahar, Helmand and Farah Provinces,” said Muhammad Naim Baloch, the provincial governor in Helmand.
Only now, the task to secure the district has fallen exclusively to the Afghans, and it is providing an early test of the forces the international coalition has spent years training to take over the fight.
Last summer in Sangin, Afghan forces got their first taste of what that fight would look like. Struggling to keep the Taliban at bay, they lost checkpoints, hard-fought ground and more than 120 men.
The government shuffled commanders, but it hardly mattered. By the end of the fighting season, the cowed Afghan Army unit there was mostly unwilling to leave its base to confront the threat. Late last year, reports of a deal between a local army commander and the Taliban began to surface, driven in part by attrition rates of nearly 50 percent and the near constant threat of death.
Given the debacle last summer, the military’s lack of preparedness so far this year is all the more striking. Police officers ran out of ammunition, and in some cases bodies could not be recovered because of the fighting. Even though Helmand is the only province with an entire corps dedicated to it, the army has struggled to defend it.
The fighting this summer appears to be worse. In just one week, the security forces appear to have sustained almost half the casualties they suffered in all of last summer, though reports differ on the exact toll.
Last Saturday, as many as 600 Taliban insurgents stormed checkpoints through portions of Sangin, claiming wide tracts of land. On Sunday, the militants attacked the neighboring district of Now Zad. Violence erupted in Musa Qala on Monday, when the Taliban again stormed police checkpoints but were prevented from reaching the district center.
The assault on Sangin seems the most concerted. On Friday night, according to the district governor, the Taliban advanced on the district center itself. The army repelled the attack through the district bazaar, while the police stopped an attempted breach from the north.
“Only the district center is under the control of government,” said Hajji Amir Jan, the deputy chief of the Sangin district council.
Though exact data is nearly impossible to obtain, in part because there is no longer a coalition footprint in the area, the extent of the attack offers a new perspective through which to view the Taliban’s ambitions, especially now that the militants no longer fear the dreaded American air support that has for years prevented them from massing in large groups. Although the military denied any collusion between the army and the Taliban, those questions have started to re-emerge because most of the casualties have been suffered by the local and national police forces rather than by the army.
“The Taliban are not powerful enough to resist all of the Afghan forces,” Mr. Amir Jan said. “Sangin is not an easy district to control, and the Taliban have strong sanctuaries, but the Afghan National Army is just securing highways, and they are not really after the Taliban.”
Coalition officials were reluctant to comment on the battles in Helmand because the fight now belongs to the Afghans. The United Nations, however, urged caution and respect for the lives of civilians.
“The high number of civilians killed and injured in these ongoing military operations is deeply concerning,” said the secretary general’s special representative for Afghanistan, Jan Kubis.
Residents described a hellish scene for those trapped in the area. Some have started to question whether the fight, and its toll on the people, is even worth it.
“If the government is unable to control and secure the lives of the ordinary people, I suggest they leave it to the Taliban,” said Matiullah Khan, a village elder in Sangin. “We are tired of the situation and would rather die than continue living in these severe conditions. It has been like this forever.”