Thursday, July 31, 2014

India Says ‘No Change’ in Policy Towards Russia

India has so far been able to ignore Washington's imperative to turn its back on Russia in a bid to tighten US sanctions grip after the Indian foreign policy chief said Thursday the nation’s policy toward Moscow remained unchanged. “There is no change in our policy. We think that foreign policy is in continuity. Foreign policy does not change with the change in the government,” Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said in a comment on India’s relations with Russia following the deadly crash of the Malaysian airliner in eastern Ukraine.
On Thursday, Sushma Swaraj met in New Delhi with US Secretary of State John Kerry who is on a mission to restore America’s crumbling ties with India in the wake of the NSA phone hacking scandal.
Talking about US sanctions on Russia, Kerry said Washington “will obviously welcome India joining in with respect to [sanctions] but its India's choice.”
The United States is reportedly mounting a campaign in Southeast Asia to press some of its nations into toeing US line on Russia, according to The Wall Street Journal.
On Wednesday, the daily cited a senior US State Department official as saying he had met government officials in China, Singapore and South Korea this week to provide “a briefing on what we've done, answering questions and seeking support,” according to the report.
"It's certainly our hope that countries in this region — which includes many significant financial and commercial centers — would join us in putting pressure [on Russia]," the senior official said.
The diplomat didn’t give details of the results of the talks but noted that "good and open exchanges of views" took place.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for South Korea's Foreign Ministry told The Wall Street Journal that Seoul hasn't committed to any sanctions against Russia. The representative added the talks with US officials involved not only Russia but also other issues, including Iran.
On Tuesday, the Chosun Libo newspaper reported that Peter Harrell of the US State Department arrived in Seoul in order to persuade South Korea to impose sanctions against Russia.
The same day, the United States as well as the European Union announced new rounds of sanctions against Russia, once again accusing Moscow of supporting militia forces in eastern Ukraine.

Kerry says compromise with India on WTO possible

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday that he still hoped for a compromise to end India's opposition to a global deal that would address its concerns and help advance trade liberalization, just hours before a deadline passed.
New Delhi has insisted that, in exchange for signing a trade facilitation agreement worked out in Bali last year, it must see more progress on a parallel pact giving it more freedom to subsidize and stockpile food grains than is allowed by World Trade Organization rules.
"We are obviously encouraging our friends in India to try to find a path here where there is a compromise that meets both needs, and we think that's achievable. We hope that it's achievable," Kerry told reporters after talks with Indian leaders as part of an annual strategic dialogue.
India's new nationalist government has demanded a halt to a globally agreed timetable on new customs rules and said a permanent agreement on food stockpiling and subsidies aimed at supporting the poor must be in place at the same time, well ahead of a 2017 target set last December in Bali.
"Our feeling obviously is that the agreement that was reached in Bali is an agreement that, importantly, can provide for food security for India," Kerry said.
"We do not dismiss the concerns India has about (the) large number of poor people who require some sort of food assurance," he said.
Kerry, who was accompanied by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, held talks with Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj in a bid to revitalize ties that have soured over differences on trade, climate change and slowing Indian reforms.
He will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday. The Indian leader, who swept to office in May with the strongest mandate in 30 years, is scheduled to meet President Barack Obama in September.

Nabee Rajabl-: ‘Bahraini oil bought intl silence & UK seized my passport’

Benghazi 'falls to al-Qaeda-linked rebels'

Factions including Ansar al-Sharia say they have taken over Libyan city after defeating forces of renegade general.
Armed groups claimed to have taken control of Libya's second largest city, Benghazi, after defeating units loyal to a renegade general, taking over thei barracks and seizing tanks, rockets and hundreds of boxes of ammunition.
The main police headquarters was on Thursday still smoldering after it was hit by shelling a day earlier, and smoke rose from the barracks of al-Saiqa soldiers loyal to General Khalifa Haftar, once the strongest security body in the city until it was overrun earlier this week.
The armed groups' sweep through Benghazi was a heavy reversal for Haftar, who for months had led his loyalists in a self-declared campaign to stamp out "terrorists" and "extremists".
His forces now appeared to only hold the airport on the city's edges.
Those opposing him belong to a newly-formed umbrella group called Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries, made up of multiple armed factions.
Among the factions is Ansar al-Sharia, the group accused by the US of leading a September 11, 2012 attack on a diplomatic facility in the city that killed the ambassador and three other Americans.
"We are the only force on the ground in Benghazi,'' a commander of one of the coalition's factions told the AP news agency on Thursday.
He said the coalition's fighters had driven all fighters loyal to Haftar out the city, and congratulated his followers on their "victory and conquest".
The Shura Council was formed after US troops abducted a top commander, Ahmed Abu-Khatala, and accused him of involvement in the attack on the US embassy.
On July 14, the coalition said it took over a Benghazi army barracks that is one of the biggest in eastern Libya, called Barracks 319. Over the past week, they took control of more than five other barracks, including the Saiqa camp.

Arab Leaders, Viewing Hamas as Worse Than Israel, Stay Silent

Battling Palestinian militants in Gaza two years ago, Israel found itself pressed from all sides by unfriendly Arab neighbors to end the fighting.
Not this time.
After the military ouster of the Islamist government in Cairo last year, Egypt has led a new coalition of Arab states — including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — that has effectively lined up with Israel in its fight against Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip. That, in turn, may have contributed to the failure of the antagonists to reach a negotiated cease-fire even after more than three weeks of bloodshed.
“The Arab states’ loathing and fear of political Islam is so strong that it outweighs their allergy to Benjamin Netanyahu,” the prime minister of Israel, said Aaron David Miller, a scholar at the Wilson Center in Washington and a former Middle East negotiator under several presidents. “I have never seen a situation like it, where you have so many Arab states acquiescing in the death and destruction in Gaza and the pummeling of Hamas,” he said. “The silence is deafening.”
Although Egypt is traditionally the key go-between in any talks with Hamas — deemed a terrorist group by the United States and Israel — the government in Cairo this time surprised Hamas by publicly proposing a cease-fire agreement that met most of Israel’s demands and none from the Palestinian group. Hamas was tarred as intransigent when it immediately rejected it, and Cairo has continued to insist that its proposal remains the starting point for any further discussions.
But as commentators sympathetic to the Palestinians slammed the proposal as a ruse to embarrass Hamas, Egypt’s Arab allies praised it. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia called President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt the next day to commend it, Mr. Sisi’s office said, in a statement that cast no blame on Israel but referred only to “the bloodshed of innocent civilians who are paying the price for a military confrontation for which they are not responsible.”
“There is clearly a convergence of interests of these various regimes with Israel,” said Khaled Elgindy, a former adviser to Palestinian negotiators who is now a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. In the battle with Hamas, Mr. Elgindy said, the Egyptian fight against the forces of political Islam and the Israeli struggle against Palestinian militants were nearly identical. “Whose proxy war is it?” he asked.
The dynamic has inverted all expectations of the Arab Spring uprisings. As recently as 18 months ago, most analysts in Israel, Washington and the Palestinian territories expected the popular uprisings to make the Arab governments more responsive to their citizens, and therefore more sympathetic to the Palestinians and more hostile to Israel.
But instead of becoming more isolated, Israel’s government has emerged for the moment as an unexpected beneficiary of the ensuing tumult, now tacitly supported by the leaders of the resurgent conservative order as an ally in their common fight against political Islam.
Egyptian officials have directly or implicitly blamed Hamas instead of Israel for Palestinian deaths in the fighting, even when, for example, United Nations schools have been hit by Israeli shells, something that occurred again on Wednesday.
And the pro-government Egyptian news media has continued to rail against Hamas as a tool of a regional Islamist plot to destabilize Egypt and the region, just as it has since the military ouster of President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood one year ago. (Egyptian prosecutors have charged Hamas with instigating violence in Egypt, killing its soldiers and police officers, and even breaking Mr. Morsi and other Brotherhood leaders out of jail during the 2011 uprising.)
The diatribes against Hamas by at least one popular pro-government talk show host in Egypt were so extreme that the government of Israel broadcast some of them into Gaza.
“They use it to say, ‘See, your supposed friends are encouraging us to kill you!’ ” Maisam Abumorr, a Palestinian student in Gaza City, said in a telephone interview.
Some pro-government Egyptian talk shows broadcast in Gaza “are saying the Egyptian Army should help the Israeli Army get rid of Hamas,” she said.
At the same time, Egypt has infuriated Gazans by continuing its policy of shutting down tunnels used for cross-border smuggling into the Gaza Strip and keeping border crossings closed, exacerbating a scarcity of food, water and medical supplies after three weeks of fighting.
“Sisi is worse than Netanyahu, and the Egyptians are conspiring against us more than the Jews,” said Salhan al-Hirish, a storekeeper in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya. “They finished the Brotherhood in Egypt, and now they are going after Hamas.”
Egypt and other Arab states, especially the Persian Gulf monarchies of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are finding themselves allied with Israel in a common opposition to Iran, a rival regional power that has a history of funding and arming Hamas.
For Washington, the shift poses new obstacles to its efforts to end the fighting. Although Egyptian intelligence agencies continue to talk with Hamas, as they did under former President Hosni Mubarak and Mr. Morsi, Cairo’s new animosity toward the group has called into question the effectiveness of that channel, especially after the response to Egypt’s first proposal.
As a result, Secretary of State John Kerry turned to the more Islamist-friendly states of Qatar and Turkey as alternative mediators — two states that grew in regional stature with the rising tide of political Islam after the Arab Spring, and that have suffered a degree of isolation as that tide has ebbed.
But that move has put Mr. Kerry in the incongruous position of appearing to some analysts as less hostile to Hamas — and thus less supportive of Israel — than Egypt or its Arab allies.
For Israeli hawks, the change in the Arab states has been relatively liberating.
“The reading here is that, aside from Hamas and Qatar, most of the Arab governments are either indifferent or willing to follow the leadership of Egypt,” said Martin Kramer, president of Shalem College in Jerusalem and an American-Israeli scholar of Islamist and Arab politics. “No one in the Arab world is going to the Americans and telling them, ‘Stop it now,’ ” as Saudi Arabia did, for example, in response to earlier Israeli crackdowns on the Palestinians, he said. “That gives the Israelis leeway.”
With the resurgence of the anti-Islamist, military-backed government in Cairo, Mr. Kramer said, the new Egyptian government and allies like Saudi Arabia appear to believe that “the Palestinian people are to bear the suffering in order to defeat Hamas, because Hamas cannot be allowed to triumph and cannot be allowed to emerge as the most powerful Palestinian player.”
Egyptian officials disputed that characterization, arguing that the new government was maintaining its support for the Palestinian people despite its deteriorating relations with Hamas, and that it had grown no closer to Israel than it was under Mr. Morsi or Mr. Mubarak.
“We have a historical responsibility toward the Palestinians, and that is not related to our stance on any specific faction,” said a senior Egyptian diplomat, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks. “Hamas is not Gaza, and Gaza is not Palestine.”
Egyptian officials noted that the Egyptian military and the Red Crescent had delivered medical supplies and other aid to Gaza. Cairo continues to keep open lines of communication with Hamas, including allowing a senior Hamas official, Moussa Abu Marzouq, to reside in Cairo.
Other analysts, though, argued that Egypt and its Arab allies were trying to balance their own overriding dislike for Hamas against their citizens’ emotional support for the Palestinians, a balancing act that could grow more challenging as the Gaza carnage mounts.
“But I am not sure the story is finished at this point.”

Justin Bieber - One Time

Arabic belly dance - Sadie Belly Dance 2013

pashto new song 2014 | Rahim Shah


Imaandaar - Aur Iss Dil Mein Kya Rakhha Hai Tera Hi Dard - Suresh Wadker

Intl Religious Freedom Report 2013: Pakistan's Blasphemy Laws: Symbol Of Intolerance
In 2013, the world witnessed the largest displacement of religious communities in recent memory. In almost every corner of the globe, millions of Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and others representing a range of faiths were forced from their homes on account of their religious beliefs. Out of fear or by force, entire neighborhoods are emptying of residents. Communities are disappearing from their traditional and historic homes and dispersing across the geographic map. In conflict zones, in particular, this mass displacement has become a pernicious norm.
All around the world, individuals were subjected to discrimination, violence and abuse, perpetrated and sanctioned violence for simply exercising their faith, identifying with a certain religion, or choosing not to believe in a higher deity at all.
Militants in Pakistan killed more than 400 Shia Muslims in sectarian attacks throughout the year and more than 80 Christians in a single church bombing; the government arrested and jailed a number of those responsible for sectarian attacks, but it generally failed to prevent attacks.
In Pakistan, authorities continue to enforce blasphemy laws and laws designed to marginalize the Ahmadiyya Muslim community; these laws continued to restrict religious freedom, and remained the most visible symbols of religious intolerance.
On International Religious Freedom Day, Secretary Kerry stressed that “nations that protect this fundamental freedom will have the partnership of the United States and the abiding commitment of the American people as we seek to advance freedom of religion worldwide.” It is our hope that this year’s report not only identifies the abuses, problems and violations, but also sparks the areas for change, action, and accountability. We invite governments, community groups, faith-based and secular organizations, students, activists, human rights defenders, change makers and every-day citizens to use this report to defend and advance international religious freedom, a universal right which we are all entitled.
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Pro Saudi SSP militants killed 3 Shias on Eid day in Pakistan
Two Shia Scouts martyred in SSP terrorist attack in Quetta on Eid Day
Two Shia Scouts embraced martyrdom due to a targeted attack on their lives by militants of Sipah-e-Sahaba in Quetta on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr.
The terrorists opened fire upon Syed Zakir Hussain and Syed Jawad Hussain on Sabzal Road in Quetta. They were martyred due to fatal wounds.
Shia trader embraces martyrdom in Karachi
Shia trader, who was seriously injured due to terrorist attack by Sipah-e-Sahaba militants during Ramadan, breathed his last in hospital on Wednesday, second day of Eid-ul-Fitr.
Noman Raza Abidi, a Shia trader of Kareemabad was ambushed near Sohni Mobile Market in Kareemabad of Karachi’s district central. He was under treatment since July 22 (Ramadan 23) at the hospital where he breathed his last on Wednesday.
Shia parties and leaders have condemned the genocide against Shiites. They vowed, they would not sit in comfort and would do everything they can, to stop Shia genocide in Pakistan. They demanded the government to order military for countrywide operation against banned Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi now renamed as ASWJ and all their affiliated takfiri terrorists. They also demanded public hanging of the condemned terrorists.

Amnesty calls for probe into Pakistan Ahmadi attack
Pakistan's government must investigate the deadly attack on the minority Ahmadi community in Punjab province, Amnesty International said on Wednesday. Amnesty called on citizens to write Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, "urging them to investigate the mob violence." The violent attack occurred on July 27 after an Ahmadi youth posted a picture on the social networking site Facebook that was deemed blasphemous.
A 55-year-old woman and two young children were killed in the attack. One of the injured, a pregnant woman, later miscarried in the hospital. Amnesty also urged people to call on authorities to ensure no charges of blasphemy are brought against members of the Ahmadi community. Saleem ud Din, a spokesman for the Ahmadi community, said state authorities are not investigating the case, even though the community has identified numerous suspects. "Those involved in the brutal attack are roaming free in the city while the Ahmadi people are still in hiding due to fear and the tense situation," he said.
The Ahmadi community are a religious minority that consider themselves Muslim but are regarded as heretics by most Muslims in Pakistan. They were declared non-Muslims by a constitutional amendment in 1974. In the 1980s, Pakistan's government made it a crime for the Ahmadis to publicly preach or claim they are Muslim, an offense carrying a maximum penalty of life imprisonment or death under blasphemy laws. Pakistan's independent Human Rights Commission said the attack on the Ahmadi community "represents brutalization and barbarism stooping to new lows". "The people who were killed were not even indirectly accused of the blasphemy charge. Their only fault was that they were Ahmadi. Torching women and children in their house simply because of their faith represents brutalization and barbarism stooping to new lows."
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Polio's Surge In Pakistan: Are Parents Part Of The Problem?

What do the parents think? That's always a crucial question when it comes to vaccinating kids. And it's particularly important in Pakistan, which is one of the last places in the world where the polio virus is still making kids sick.
Health workers in Pakistan are trying to convince millions of parents to allow their children take the polio vaccine. But the program faces vehement — and at times violent — opposition.
So researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health recently did a poll to find out if parents are part of the problem. The results surprised them.
Imagine you're a parent in northwest Pakistan. You live in a remote village, perhaps in a mud hut on top of a mountain. Every few weeks some strangers carrying vials of a clear liquid come knocking on your door.
"Frankly, if someone came to my house and said, 'You know, you don't know me from Adam, but I'd like to vaccinate your child,' I wouldn't let them," says Sona Bari, of the World Health Organization.
But eradicating polio worldwide depends on these parents in Pakistan saying yes.
Strangers showing up at your door isn't the only hurdle to getting children vaccinated. In Pakistan, the Taliban threaten to kill parents who immunize their kids. More than 60 vaccinators have already been killed in the past two years.

India: Army gave befitting reply to Pakistan on beheading of soldiers:

Delivering a very strong message to the country's hostile neighbour, the outgoing Army chief General Bikram Singh on Thursday said that his men have avenged the beheading of Indian jawans by the Pakistani troops last year.
“We have responded to Pakistan at a tactical level to prevent the recurrence of such incidents in future,” Gen Singh said during a farewell ceremony held here.
"We are carrying out tactical operations at the LoC. It is an ongoing process and our soldiers are doing their job...," General Bikram Singh added.
When pressed by the reporters to elaborate on the issue, Gen Singh said, “It was done by the local commanders.” On the use of force against Pakistan, he said, “We have always responded to Pakistan at the tactical level on the borders. Use of force has been from tactical to operational to strategic level.”
Gen Singh also praised the 1.3 million strong Indian Army and said that it is prepared to take on any challenge.
“Indian soldiers are prepared for the line of duty, up for any challenge,” Bikram Singh said.
The outgoing Army Chief also extended his good wishes to his successor Dalbir Singh Suhag and said that the Indian Army under him will reach unparalleled heights.
"Army is a robust organisation, very very accountable, very responsive, very potent and a very relevant instrument of national power with the capability to take up any challenges," the outgoing army chief said.
Lt. Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, whose appointment as Army chief had kicked up a row, today took over as the next head of the 1.3 million strong force succeeding General. Bikram Singh. Gen Singh also visited the Amar Jawan Jyoti before demitting office.
After paying tribute to the martyred Indian soldiers, Gen Singh wrote a few words in the visitor's book before departing from the venue.
On January 8, 2013, an Indian soldier Hemraj was beheaded by the Pakistani troops in the Mendhar area of Jammu and Kashmir – an incident which further strained the bilateral ties between India and Pakistan. Gen Bikram Singh had then warned Pakistan, saying India reserves the right to retaliate at the "time and place" of its choosing.
Gen Singh also said the beheading was "unacceptable" and "most unpardonable" and the troops would respond immediately, aggressively and offensively if provoked.


War on the Rocks
Myra MacDonald
If you think reconciling the Israelis and Palestinians is hard, try the Indians and Pakistanis. The latest war in Gaza has laid bare India’s and Pakistan’s different views about the Middle East, revealing a great deal about how these countries view themselves and each other. The newly elected Indian government of the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has become more confident about showing sympathy for Israel, bringing to the surface a relationship that has been growing for more than two decades. Pakistan refuses to recognize the Jewish state and its outrage over Palestinian deaths in Gaza is colored by its identity as a country bristling to defend the rights of Muslims around the world, from Palestine to Kashmir. These different worldviews could ultimately exacerbate the historical animosity between the two countries, and pit the pro-Israel Hindu right in India against the hawkish pro-military establishment in Pakistan.
In the early decades after independence in 1947, it was India rather than Pakistan that was particularly vocal about the Palestinian cause. The partition of Palestine to create the state of Israel in 1948, coming just one year after British India was partitioned to create Pakistan, was seen in South Asia as a legacy of British imperialism. India’s commitment to champion the Palestinian cause fitted, therefore, with the anti-colonial spirit of the Non-Aligned Movement of which it was a leading member. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi — disliked by Pakistan for her role in its defeat in the 1971 war that led to the creation of Bangladesh — got on particularly well with Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat. In addition to its anti-colonial stance, India had powerful domestic political reasons for supporting the Palestinian cause. The Israel–Palestine conflict is viewed monolithically in South Asia as one primarily between Muslims and non-Muslims. Indian governments, wary of alienating Muslim voters who make up roughly 14% of the electorate, had an incentive to side with the Palestinians. Finally, India was determined to prove its secular credentials. Support for the Palestinians — which was then a leftist cause — was one way for governments in New Delhi to show they could fairly represent both Hindus and Muslims, thus demonstrating that Pakistan had been wrong to insist on the need for a separate homeland for Muslims.
While Pakistan also viewed Israel as having been imposed on Palestine as a result of European colonialism, it was nonetheless more circumspect because of its alliance with the United States during the Cold War. Islamabad’s close ties with Washington also meant it was regarded with suspicion by Arab nationalists and kept at arm’s length. Though Pakistan refused to recognise Israel, Pakistani support for the Palestinians in the early decades after 1947 came from the public rather than officials, who had a different message. Its future military ruler, then-Brigadier Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, massacred Palestinians on behalf of Jordan in the Black September civil war in 1970.
The end of the Cold War, Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait and subsequent defeat by the United States, and India’s own economic liberalization in 1991, all forced New Delhi into a major reappraisal of its policies towards the Middle East. The ideological approach that inspired the Non-Aligned Movement was replaced by a more pragmatic one designed to secure India’s economic and security interests. After siding mainly with secular Arab nationalists in the past, India began to improve relations with Saudi Arabia, a close ally of Pakistan, to secure its energy needs. Its new pragmatism also led it to give full diplomatic recognition to Israel in 1992. The two countries had much in common in terms of security. Both were status quo powers, with less incentive than their enemies to try to change the existing set-up — Israel when it came to Palestinian statehood and India in its conflict with Pakistan over Kashmir. Both were non-Muslim democracies that faced a threat from Islamist militants. Growing defense and security cooperation between the two countries bore fruit during the border war between India and Pakistan in the Kargil region of Jammu and Kashmir in 1999. At the time, India was facing sanctions over its nuclear tests the year before. When India ran short of artillery shells, Israel stepped in to supply them. India and Israel have steadily increased defense cooperation ever since. Among other things, Israel provides India with high-tech defense equipment that New Delhi has traditionally failed to get from the United States because of U.S. laws about transferring sensitive equipment. This includes Israeli Phalcon airborne warning and control systems that could be used against Pakistan.
In contrast to India, Pakistan has become, if anything, more ideological in its worldview. After the independence of Bangladesh undermined the raison d’etre for Pakistan as a homeland for India’s Muslims, it became more strident in asserting its Islamic identity. The anti-colonialism fuelling support for Palestinians was viewed through a distinctly Muslim historical narrative , which implied that undivided India might have been freed from British rule far sooner had its Muslim inhabitants not been let down by the Hindus. This narrative also conflated anti-Hinduism with pan-Islamist sentiment in which Pakistan became the defender of all Muslims. This worldview gained in strength over the years as the Pakistan-run jihad against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan melded into its longstanding anti-India stance. Thus, for example, in one typical textbook for “Pakistan Studies” — a compulsory course in the country’s history and ideology — Hindus under the British Raj were players of a double game who let down the Muslims “on account of their primordial psyche.” The Pakistan Studies textbook, this particular one published in 2012 for use at the Islamia College University, Peshawar links Palestine to Kashmir, describing a resolution of both conflicts as integral to Pakistan’s national interests. Importantly, it stresses that Pakistan is committed to the peaceful resolutions of all conflicts, whitewashing Pakistan’s own role in nurturing Islamist militants to counter India, including in Kashmir. The narrative of victimhood, of a peaceful country forced to defend Muslims against threats both near in India and far in Israel, has served Pakistan’s security establishment well, allowing it to justify a large and politically powerful army. It is also self-perpetuating. Pakistan’s external behaviour — exerting influence through the use of Islamist proxies — has led to such difficult relations with India and Afghanistan that it can reasonably claim to be faced with hostile neighbors on both sides. This in turn empowers the military, reinforcing its role in domestic politics. The national narrative — which enmeshes Palestine and Kashmir, pan-Islamism with anti-Hinduism — has so far proved extremely difficult to challenge, whether in seeking peace with India, demanding a stronger role for democracy, or the full-scale dismantling of militant networks inside Pakistan.
The different worldviews of India and Pakistan have been on full display since the latest crisis over Gaza erupted. In New Delhi, the BJP-led government made a show of support for Israel by refusing to allow a resolution in parliament condemning it for the strikes on Gaza. In 2006 , Prime Minister Narendra Modi, then chief minister of Gujarat state, visited Israel and promised to return. India’s support for Israel is somewhat hesitant and discreet for now. It voted in favor of a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution launching an investigation into Israeli strikes in Gaza. BJP hawks, however, are calling for India to be much more vocal in supporting Israel. Domestically, the government appears to have room to do so. Having won national parliamentary elections this year despite suspicions over Modi’s role in presiding over the killings of Muslims in communal violence in 2002, the BJP is in a strong position to override any objections at home to warming ties with Israel.
Internationally, India has discovered that its relationship with Israel does not prevent it from building ties with Muslim countries, in part due to the Arab world’s own pragmatism and divisions on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and in part reflecting its own growing political and economic clout. Notably, it has been able to improve ties with Saudi Arabia — a country that is militarily close to Pakistan — while maintaining positive relations with Iran, a Saudi and Israeli rival. Growing world anger over high Palestinian civilian casualties might limit India’s public support for Israel in the short term. But the trend is clear. Neither concern about Muslim voters at home, nor traditional “Third Worldism” apply any longer to India’s policies towards Israel.
Pakistan responded to the crisis in Gaza by sponsoring the UNHRC resolution setting up an independent commission to investigate Israel’s behavior in Palestinian territory. It also promised to observe a day of mourning for the Palestinians by flying its flag at half-mast. On social media, popular outrage occasionally spilled into outright anti-Semitism — at one point #IfHitlerWasAlive was trending on Twitter in Pakistan. Clearly, Pakistan is not alone in being angered by the scale of Palestinian civilian deaths in Gaza. In other Muslim countries, resentment over Israeli policies is usually wrapped together with dislike of the West. Where Pakistan is unusual, however, is in its degree of hostility toward the United States, Israel’s main backer. The two countries have been at odds since the 1990s over Pakistan’s support for the Islamist militants it nurtured to counter India and exert Pakistani influence in Afghanistan. The U.S.-led overthrow of the Afghan Taliban in 2001 exacerbated these differences without ever fully bringing them to the surface, so that Pakistani public opinion is both deeply hostile and suspicious of anything the United States says or does. Pakistan also has the distinction of mourning Palestinians rather more than its own people at a time of a major domestic refugee crisis. Close to a million people have registered as internally displaced persons after fleeing a military offensive in North Waziristan and there are increasing reports of civilian casualties in an operation that Pakistan, like Israel, says is to eradicate a threat from terrorism.
As the only country created specifically as a homeland for Muslims, and one that sees itself as an ideological Muslim state defending Muslim rights worldwide, Pakistan is particularly susceptible to the influence of external events. When Muslims are perceived to be ill treated by non-Muslims, in Palestine or Kashmir, Pakistan bristles with the sense of victimhood that allows it to justify maintaining a hyper-nationalist militarized state. In turn, it becomes a country that thrives on conflict, and where the military establishment dominates despite its incomplete transition to democracy. This is not necessarily the intention of many Pakistanis standing up for Gaza, but it is the effect. Outrage over Palestine feeds a carefully cultivated national narrative that wraps it together with perceived ill treatment of Muslims in Kashmir and conflates anti-India sentiment with pan-Islamism. Its stance will have no impact on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict; for all its talk of human rights abuses, Pakistan cannot afford to annoy Saudi Arabia by siding too closely with the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Hamas.
The different approaches to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, and to the Middle East as a whole, have long been a source of tension between India and Pakistan. By trying to steer a pragmatic course and maintain good relations with all players for its own economic, energy and security interests, India is increasing its diplomatic clout in the Muslim world, the very constituency Pakistan would like to consider its own. In doing so, it is pulling far ahead of its smaller, pricklier neighbor, accentuating Pakistan’s sense of victimhood. India is also using its relationship with Israel to build its high-tech military capabilities, giving Pakistan another cause for anxiety and another reason to prioritise defense spending.
While this is a longstanding issue, the latest crisis in Gaza comes at a particularly delicate time for South Asia. Both Kabul and New Delhi fear that as the United States prepares to withdraw more combat troops from the region, Pakistan will step up support for Islamist militants in Afghanistan and Kashmir. Pakistan denies this. Yet in its stridency over Gaza, wearing its support for Palestine as a badge of national honor, Pakistan is showing no sign of stepping away from its national narrative. It is one that leaves no room for pragmatism or compromise. It is not the kind of mood authorities would normally encourage if they planned on making peace with Pakistan’s neighbors. Rather it is one that has spilled into open conflict with India in the past, while reinforcing the power of the military at home.

Acid attacks on women cast pall of fear in Balochistan

A recent spate of acid attacks in Balochistan has sparked an impassioned debate about rising Islamisation that is forcing an increasing number of women to stay at home. The horrific crime, which disfigures and often blinds its overwhelmingly female victims, has long been used to settle personal or family scores with hundreds of cases reported every year.
But two fresh attacks on consecutive days in the province last week, where until a few years ago such assaults were unheard of, suggests a new pattern is emerging.
Last Tuesday, two men on a motorcycle sprayed acid using syringes on two teenage girls who were returning from a market in Mastung town, 40 kilometres from the provincial capital Quetta.
The day before, four women aged between 18 and 50 had suffered the same fate in Quetta, in the market area of Sariab. They were partially burned.
“In accordance with our Baloch traditions, they were wrapped in big shawls as well as covering their faces. That... saved (them) from severe injuries,“ said Naz Bibi, mother of two of the victims.
Asked about the attackers, she said: “I can only request that they should not treat women in such a cruel way.“
In most acid attack cases around Pakistan, the majority of victims know their attackers. When caught, relatives found guilty speak of punishing their victims for having sullied their “honour” or that of their family with “indecent” behaviour.
But, in these latest cases, the victims had no known connection to their assailants — which has led campaigners to suggest the attacks are part of rising religious extremism in the region.
Vast and sparsely-populated but rich in resources, Balochistan has long been racked by a separatist insurgency that has staunch leftist secular elements — including strong participation by women — and which reveres Communist icons like Argentine revolutionary Ernesto 'Che' Guevara.
Separatists say the attacks on women are the latest battlefront in an ideological war between the rebels, who are fighting for a greater share of the region's mineral and gas wealth, and state-backed Islamist proxies who want to terrorise the population into acquiescence.
“The aim of these inhuman acts is to prevent women from participating in education, as well as social, political and economic aspects of life by creating a climate of terror,” said Jahanzaib Jamaldini, vice president of the Baloch National Party, which is fighting for greater autonomy.
This week, three more women suffered injuries to their legs and feet in yet another attack — though police and senior officials have so far said the latest incident was a case of a “family feud”.
Mohammad Manzoor, a brother of one of the victims, lamented that the attackers were still at large. “They roam the area on motorcycles and the local people have spotted them, “he said.
Militant involvement?
In the Sariab district of Quetta, the scene of one of last week's attacks, Islamist groups like the Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal-Jammat (ASWJ), are increasingly coming to the fore.
Dressed in Arab garb, they are able to roam the area armed with automatic weapons without fear of molestation -- leading many to believe they are given tacit state backing.
“ASWJ controls the area with dozens of armed men,” said one young resident, standing under the group's flag as it fluttered in the breeze, adding that their presence scared families into preventing women from being out in public.
The group said the accusations were “without any basis”. “We condemn these attacks,” Ramzan Mengal, the group's leader in Balochistan said.
The acid attacks also fit a wider pattern of a steady erosion of women's rights, especially in separatist and erstwhile relatively secular strongholds.
Al-Furqhan, an obscure militant group, recently appeared in the one-time separatist rebel stronghold of Panjgur district, which borders Iran, threatening private schools over the teaching of girls, according to residents.
In an atmosphere rife with fear, no suspects have so far been arrested and no group has claimed responsibility.
The first recorded acid attack in Balochistan came in 2010, with two more reported in 2012.
Mohammad Aslam, a women's tailor in Sariab, has seen sales drop by three-quarters since the market attack. “Women are afraid to step out of their homes or their men stop them from going,” he said.
Shopkeepers in Mastung reported a similar decline in sales.
“We fear that such incidents could increase and leave no space for women in an already male-dominated society,” said human rights activist Saima Jawaid.

Pakistan offensive disrupting militant attacks, U.S. says

A six-week Pakistani army offensive has succeeded in disrupting the militant groups that have long enjoyed free rein in the rugged North Waziristan tribal region along the border with Afghanistan, Obama administration officials say.
But proof of the operation's success, they say, will be whether groups such as the notorious Haqqani network are allowed to reconstitute themselves in North Waziristan or elsewhere and again plot attacks against U.S.-led forces in neighboring Afghanistan or elsewhere.
Previous Pakistani offensives in the tribal belt have either ignored groups like the Haqqanis — who are blamed for deadly attacks against U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan — or allowed them to return. U.S. military officials believe that top levels of Pakistan's security establishment back the Haqqanis as a proxy force to maintain influence in Afghanistan.
But with most U.S. forces withdrawing from Afghanistan at the end of the year, the U.S. military's ability to battle the Haqqani network is expected to diminish sharply. Obama administration officials have pressed Pakistan's military leaders in a series of meetings this month to ensure the group does not escape the current operation.
"We keep telling them they must go after all the terrorists and that they cannot cherry-pick," said a senior U.S. official who requested anonymity to discuss the sensitive talks. "We've been quite emphatic about that."
Pakistan insists that no insurgent groups will be spared in the offensive, which began in mid-June and has resulted in the deaths of more than 500 militants and the seizure of large weapons caches and bomb-making factories, according to unconfirmed Pakistani army reports.
But some officials say that insurgents fled the area before the start of the offensive, which had been rumored for several months. U.S. officials have not received photographs or other visual evidence from Pakistan showing it has directly targeted the Haqqani network. In the end, the senior U.S. official said, "We end up having a good conversation but the bottom line is we have to be convinced there is no reconstituting of terrorist facilities and safe havens."
Some analysts believe that Pakistan is taking action now because of a provision in the 2015 Pentagon budget that could withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in counter-terrorism funding unless Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel certifies that Pakistan has "significantly disrupted the safe haven and freedom of movement of the Haqqani network."
Now that they have begun such an operation, "the Pakistanis are making an argument in Washington that they should be given continued coalition support," C. Christine Fair, author of "Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army's Way of War," told the Times of India in an interview this week. Pakistan has received $28 billion in U.S. military and economic aid since 2002, and additional expenditures would be "outrageous," she said.
Pakistan has not given a timetable for the offensive, which began with airstrikes and has proceeded to ground operations in Miram Shah and Mir Ali, the largest towns in North Waziristan, which are now mostly controlled by the military. Pakistani officials declined to comment specifically on the Haqqani network, which analysts regard as one of the most experienced insurgent groups fighting in Afghanistan. The group, led by Sirajuddin Haqqani, is under the umbrella of the Afghan Taliban but is seen as being more closely linked to Al Qaeda's central leadership.
U.S. military leaders have long believed that Pakistan did not target the Haqqani network before because it does not carry out attacks in Pakistan. Afghan authorities also accuse Pakistan of sparing the Haqqani network in the current offensive, arguing that no senior commander in the group has been reported killed.
Last week, a spokesman for the Afghan intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security, alleged that Pakistan's security establishment had shifted Haqqani fighters to safe places before the operation began, prompting swift denials from Pakistani officials.
At a news conference the next day, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said Afghanistan, whose army is struggling to contain a domestic Taliban insurgency, should take action against militants fleeing over the border from Pakistan. "It is … our expectation that action would be taken on the Afghan side to check the fleeing terrorists and not to allow Afghan territory to be used by anti-Pakistan elements," Chaudhry said.
Tribal leaders who spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared reprisals from the militants have said the Haqqanis and other groups fled North Waziristan in the days before the operation began. With less than one-third of the tribal region reportedly under government control, many fighters are believed to have taken refuge in other areas of North Waziristan, including Datta Khel, the site of recent U.S. drone strikes, and in the thickly forested Shawal valley.
Rahimullah Yusufzai, a Pakistani journalist who closely follows militant groups, said the current operation has displaced the Haqqani network but the insurgents, who typically operate in groups of about 20, would eventually be able to regroup and plot attacks in Afghanistan from elsewhere in the area.
"It would take some time for them to establish their training and communication facilities at some other place," he said, and targeting Afghan border provinces such as Khowst and Paktika soon "would not be a problem for them."

USA: State Dept. should act on Pakistan’s religious freedom violations, watchdog group says

Ahmadiyya Times
An independent religious freedom watchdog panel has welcomed the State Department’s annual religious freedom report and its list of the world’s worst offenders, which had laid dormant for three years. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) was created in 1998, and serves as an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom was created in 1998 as an independent, bipartisan body. Public domain image
The list of “countries of particular concern” had remained unchanged since 2006 — and hasn’t been formally issued by the State Department since 2011 — when Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan were cited.
In April, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended that the list be doubled to include Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Vietnam, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Nigeria and Egypt. Turkmenistan was the only new addition to this year’s CPC list, bringing the total to nine countries.
The State Department and the independent USCIRF have often been at odds on who makes the list of worst offenders, and in a statement, USCIRF noted the “disappointing omission” of Pakistan in particular.
“Pakistan represents the worst situation in the world for religious freedom for countries not currently designated by the U.S. government as CPCs,” said USCIRF Chair Katrina Lantos Swett.
Katrina Lantos Swett serves as Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
On Sunday (July 27) ,a violent mob torched at least eight homes in an Ahmadi Muslim neighborhood in eastern Pakistan after a member of the minority sect was accused of posting a blasphemous photo online. A woman, two children and an unborn baby died in the blaze.
Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK reports that since 1984, 244 Ahmadis have been murdered in Pakistan because of their faith. Ahmadi Muslims are considered heretics in Pakistan, and it is a criminal offense for them to identify as Muslim. Those who do may be subject to harsh anti-blasphemy laws, which include the death penalty among other punishments.
Other religious minorities, including Shiite Muslims, Sufis, Christians, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Baha’is, have also been subject to attack in the Sunni-majority state.
Syria was also left off the CPC list, even as the country’s civil war continues to devolve along sectarian lines. Militants from the Islamic State have persecuted Syria’s Alawite Muslim sect and Christians in Syria and Iraq. The extremist group’s recent ultimatum to Iraqi Christians in Mosul that they convert to Islam or face execution will likely bring further pressure on the State Department to add both countries to its CPC list next year.
USCIRF also welcomed Monday’s nomination of a new ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, Rabbi David Saperstein. If confirmed by the Senate, Saperstein would be the first non-Christian to hold the position since its inception in 1998. The post has been empty since October.

Pakistan: Emergency operations centre set up at CM House to eliminate polio
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has established an Emergency Operations Centre at the Chief Minister’s House to provide a strong platform for the eradication of polio in the province. The centre will comprise representatives of the WHO and the UNICEF and 11 officers of the provincial government, said a handout issued here on Monday. A notification issued by the Sindh CM’s Principal Secretary stated that Deputy Secretary Fayaz Ahmed Jatoi will remain in contact with other members for coordination with the CM Secretariat. Besides, Project Director EPI Mazhar Ali will supervise immunization and VDP surveillance. The World Health Organisation (WHO) team leader Dr. Saleh, besides surveillance and immunization activities, will hold training workshops and capacity building programmes with Dr. Shaukat Chandio. Dr. Shaukat will also supervise social mobilization and communication in sensitive areas. District polio control rooms will also be set up where FELTP/N-STOP’s Dr. Manzoor Memon will coordinate with EPO. The Emergency Operations Centre will provide a strong platform with the coordination of several international organisations and it will play a vital role for the eradication of polio with the cooperation and coordination of national emergency centre, armed forces, parliamentarians, religious leaders and other stakeholders. The Emergency Operations Centre will gather relevant data with regard to polio-affected areas to devise a strategy to eliminate polio from the province forever.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Michael Jackson - Beat It

Madonna - Open Your Heart

China: Political solution to crisis in Syria contributes to stability of the region and world

China’s Special Envoy for the Middle East Wu Sike affirmed that finding a political solution to the crisis in Syria will contribute in spreading peace and stability in the region and the world as a whole.
Chinese News Agency (Xinhua) quoted Wu as saying in a press conference that the deteriorating situation in Iraq threatens all other countries of the world, adding that what is happening in Iraq could not be separated from the crisis in Syria.
He called on the international community to abandon the double standards regarding countering terrorism.
The Chinese official also called for supporting Iraqi government, stressing that China is confident in Iraq’s various sides’ ability to boost cooperation to overcome the current difficult conditions.

China: ‘President Xi Jinping seeks his place in history – among the party greats’

A strong desire to leave a legacy comparable to that of Deng Xiaoping and a sense of crisis over the survival of the Communist Party are driving President Xi Jinping's relentless fight against corruption, say people connected to the party's inner circle.
The president will use the crusade against corruption to sweep away resistance to his ambitious reform agenda, as entrenched interest groups have become too powerful and are reluctant to change, they say.
Xi, who greatly admires Deng, wanted to become a leader in a similar vein, who could lead China into a new era of reform and growth, said sources including senior officials and "princelings" - the children of former high-ranking leaders.
They said Xi identified himself strongly as a member of the princeling group and saw it as his mandate and mission to revive the party, whose ruling bases have been eroded by rampant corruption and bureaucracy.
"Xi is inspired to claim his own place in history as one of the party greats. To achieve this, he needs to consolidate power and weaken the resistance to reforms," said a princeling who has known the president for decades.
"He [Xi] could take it easy by finishing his time in office without making any major change, just like his predecessor [President Hu Jintao ] did.
"But he chose a more difficult path because of his strong sense of responsibility as a son of the revolutionaries."
The president's father, Xi Zhongxun , who died in 2002, was a party elder who helped establish the People's Republic in 1949 and later led the vanguard of Deng's economic reforms in the late 1970s. While both his predecessors launched anti-corruption campaigns in the early days of their presidencies, Xi's drive is unprecedented.
On Tuesday, China broke the decades-old political taboo of not prosecuting the highest-ranking officials for corruption by publicly announcing a probe into former security tsar Zhou Yongkang . Just a month ago, the leadership under Xi expelled a former vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, Xu Caihou , from the party for corruption.

Turkey: Claims of allocation of camps to ISIL in Istanbul spark debate

The release of a video allegedly showing a group of jihadists gathered for prayer in the rural part of Istanbul has sparked concerns in Turkey.
The video has prompted deputy Sezin Tanrıkulu of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) to question whether the gathering took place upon consent from both the police department and the Gendarmerie Command.
“Is the claim that the group alleged to have been the Turkey-branch of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL] has been allocated a campground or other places in Istanbul? Who is this group? Of whom does it consist?” asked Tanrıkulu in a motion filed to the parliamentary speaker’s office on July 30 in order to be answered by Interior Minister Efkan Ala.
Tanrıkulu asked for the locations of the camps if the claim was true and added: “Where is the field where the group, alleged to be the Turkey-extension of ISIL, used for holiday celebration that it organized in Istanbul on July 28, to which hundreds of people attended, as openly seen in the photographs?”
The related video was released through a Turkish website administered by a group apparently close to ISIL. According to the website, the group gathered in the rural part of Istanbul for prayer and celebrations on the first day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, July 28.
Tanrıkulu also asked whether it is true that the group “declared jihad in Turkey on July 28,” and whether the field in the footage was being used by the group for military training.
“Did the organization ask for permission, arranged in the name of holiday celebrations? Which authorities granted the group official permission? Why weren’t these people directed to mosques for Eid prayer, but were let to organize a holiday celebration in a field? What were the Istanbul Provincial Police Department and Provincial Gendarmerie Command doing during the hours when the group, which is the extension of the ISIL terrorist organization, was calling for jihad in Istanbul? Is it true that Istanbul Provincial Police Department and Gendarmerie Command were ordered not to interfere when the group, the extension of a terrorist organization, was calling for jihad in Istanbul? Who gave these orders?” Tanrıkulu asked.
ISIL recently renamed itself simply as the Islamic State (IS). The IS stormed the Turkish Consulate-General on June 10 and has since been holding all 49 there hostage, including Turkey’s Consul General Özturk Yılmaz.

Israel Faces Latin American Backlash

Bolivian President Evo Morales on Wednesday labeled Israel a "terrorist state" and announced that Israelis need visas to visit, the latest in a series of measures Latin American countries have leveled against Israel for the violence in the Gaza Strip.
Criticism of Israeli policies has come from some parts of the world. Latin American countries have stood out by coordinating a range of diplomatic measures, including recalling their ambassadors for consultations and issuing sharply worded statements, political analysts said.
"Israel doesn't guarantee the principle of respect for life, and the basic right to live in harmony and peace in the international community," Mr. Morales said Wednesday in a speech in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba. There was no immediate Israeli response to Mr. Morale's accusations or Bolivia's decision to require that Israeli visitors apply for visas.
On Tuesday, at a meeting of the Mercosur trade bloc in Caracas, Venezuela, the presidents of four of the five countries in the organization demanded an end to the military actions in Gaza and called for Israel to permit the free flow of people, food and humanitarian aid. In a statement, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela said they "energetically condemn the disproportionate use of force by the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip, which in the majority affects civilians, including children and women."
That same day, three other Latin American countries called home their ambassadors: El Salvador, Chile and Peru. The region's most influential country, Brazil, had done so last week, while Ecuador made the move on July 17. Uruguay and Argentina, which has a large Jewish community, maintained their ambassadors in Israel. Leftist Venezuela, which sharply opposes U.S. policy in the Middle East and is Latin America's most vocal critic of Israel, broke relations with the Jewish state years ago.
"Latin America has moved to take a stand on the Gaza war," said Michael Shifter, president of the Washington, D. C-based policy group, inter-American Dialogue. "In that respect, it has set itself apart from other regional blocs." Israel's foreign ministry on Wednesday issued a statement in which it expressed "its deep disappointment with the hasty decision of the governments of El Salvador, Peru and Chile to recall their ambassadors for consultations. This step constitutes encouragement for Hamas, a group recognized as a terror organization by many countries around the world."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government a week ago also had pointed words for Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's administration. After her government called home its ambassador, the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor, responded by calling Brazil a "diplomatic dwarf." It was an insult that made headlines in some of the Brazil's largest newspapers. Israel hasn't responded to Mercosur's joint statement.
Analysts say that while countries with populist leaders opposed to Washington have been particularly vociferous in criticizing Israel, more centrist countries with solid ties to the U.S. have also expressed their displeasure with the violence in Gaza. In Chile's case, Ms. Bachelet's government has also condemned rocket attacks against Israeli civilians by Hamas, the militant group that governs Gaza. "It isn't only the nations with left-leaning governments that have recalled their ambassadors, but this time it is also other governments," said Farid Kahhat, a political scientist and Middle East expert with the Catholic University of Peru. "This transcends ideologies."
There are important countries in the region that maintain their top diplomats in Israel, including Colombia and Mexico. But many of the region's leading countries have increasingly been vocal about showing support for the Palestinians. The momentum began in 2010 and 2011, when a wave of South American countries recognized a Palestinian state in a matter of weeks, among them Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and several others, irking Israel.
"Latin America's emerging consensus condemning Israel for its military actions in Gaza is not surprising," said Mr. Shifter.

ISIL major threat for Iraq: Security Council

The United Nations Security Council has voiced concerns over the crisis created by ISIL Takfiri terrorists in Iraq, calling them “a major threat."
The Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on Wednesday, expressing the 15-member world body’s concerns regarding the situation. The resolution also extended the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) for another year.
The Security Council "recognizes that security of United Nations personnel is essential for UNAMI to carry out its work for the benefit of the people of Iraq and calls upon the government of Iraq to continue to provide security and logistical support to the United Nations presence in Iraq," said the resolution.
The ISIL terrorists currently control a swathe of eastern Syria and western Iraq.
The crisis in Iraq escalated after the ISIL Takfiri militants took control of Mosul, in a lightning advance on June 10, which was followed by the fall of Tikrit, located 140 kilometers (87 miles) northwest of the capital Baghdad.
More than a million people have been displaced in Iraq so far this year, according to the United Nations.
The ISIL has vowed to continue its raid towards Baghdad. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said that the country’s security forces would confront the terrorists, calling the seizure of Mosul a “conspiracy".
Soldiers of the Iraqi army have been engaged in heavy fighting with the militants on different fronts and have so far been able to push back militants in several areas.
Maliki has said Saudi Arabia and Qatar are responsible for the security crisis and growing terrorism in his country, denouncing the Al Saud regime as a major supporter of global terrorism.

Far East reporters propose Gold Star award for President Putin

A group of journalists have lodged an official proposal to award Vladimir Putin with the honorary title Hero of Russia for his uncompromising defense of the national interest and support of ethnic Russians as well as for supporting the freedom of speech.
The move has been initiated by Konstantin Pronyakin from the city of Khabarovsk, a correspondent with the popular nationwide daily Moskovsky Komsomolets.
Pronyakin says that his letter was also signed by journalists from Khabarovsk Region, Yakutiya, Amur and Magadan Regions, and also the Jewish Autonomous District – all in the Russian Far East.
In the letter that was forwarded to the pro-Putin political movement All-Russian Popular Front, the journalists ask top parliamentary officials – State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin and upper house Chairwoman Valentina Matviyenko – with a request to award Vladimir Putin the Hero of Russia title. It is the highest honorary title of the Russian Federation.
The backers of the initiative claim that Putin deserves this because of his “heroic decision made in difficult times to support the compatriots and brotherly nations of the Crimean Peninsula,” expressed in the signing of the Federal law on the accession of the Crimean Republic and the Sevastopol city into the Russian Federation.
The journalists also praise Putin’s input into maintaining Russia’s territorial integrity, his solid stance in defending Russia’s national interests on the international arena and the “declaration of the freedom of expression within the framework of the law.”
The Hero of Russia title was instituted in 1992 and is modeled on the Hero of the Soviet Union title that existed in the USSR from 1934. Hero of Russia and the Labor Hero of Russia are two top honorary titles in the Russian Federation – the laureates are given special Gold Star medals and their bronze busts can be installed in their home regions.
Vladimir Putin has several state awards from Russia and foreign nations with the highest being the Order of Merit received in 1996. Neither the president nor his administration have yet commented on the journalists’ letter, which was published in the government daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta on Wednesday.
One of Far Eastern politicians, the head of the Liberal Democratic caucus in the Khabarovsk Regional Legislature, Vyacheslav Furgal, called the reporters’ motion “unethical” in press comments. He noted that representatives of the mass media as “the Fourth Estate” must remain unbiased and distanced from all political developments in the country. At the same time, Furgal agreed that Putin definitely deserved the honorary title.

President Obama: "You don't have time to be cynical. Hope is a better choice."

Islamic State fighter: 'Turkey paved the way for us'

MEMRI report on interview of jihadi: 'We will build the Islamic state in the territories from Tigris to Jordan and Palestine and to Lebanon. Sunni Law will rule.'
An Islamic State fighter, who is in Ankara for medical care, told a Turkish journalist that since the war in Syria began, the “AKP government has helped us a lot.”
The Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor of MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute) exclusively provided The Jerusalem Post with a report on Tuesday based on an interview of the fighter by journalist Deniz Kahraman from the left liberal Aydinlik and the OdaTV website, in which the fighter says that Turkey had a crucial role in the group’s advance.
The Islamist AK Party is headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
"Turkey paved the way for us. Had Turkey not shown such understanding for us, the Islamic State would not be in its current place. It [Turkey] showed us affection. Large number of our mujahedeen received medical treatment in Turkey,” said the Islamic State fighter.
“We do not have the support of Saudi Arabia, but many Saudi families who believe in jihad do assist us. But anyhow, we will no longer need it, soon,” he said.
"We will build the Islamic state in the territories from Tigris to Jordan and Palestine and to Lebanon. Sunni Law will rule,” he added.
The Islamic State fighter explained his personal history, how he has been fighting with jihadist groups for the past 12 years, first taking part in fighting against the Americans in Fallujah, Iraq.
He told the Turkish journalist how he had established a relationship with al-Qaida in Iraq and trained in small groups, learning to fight, gather intelligence, Islamic jurisprudence, and politics.
“I joined the system of cells in 2010 and moved into Syria in 2011. At that time, all groups fighting against Assad were joining forces. We fought on multiple fronts with different groups and under different commanders,” he said according to MEMRI.
“But when the lack of faith among the Free Syrian Army became apparent, we changed our paths,” he said adding, “When ISIS [precursor to the Islamic State] declared itself, we started fighting under its banner. I participated in 12 operations against the Kurds, and personally directed the three raids into Kamishli.”
The fighter went on to assert the intelligence services of many countries “are making attempts to contact us,” pointing out that France, German, and the Dutch have been especially interested as of late.
“Rather than being interested in what we do in Syria or Iraq, these countries want to learn about our mujahideen's activities in their countries.”
The jihadi added that the Islamic State currently has mujahideen from 21 countries, not all Muslim ones, including from Europe and Russia. He also said that there were fighters from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkey.

Turkey: CHP questions Saudi King’s alleged donation to foundation of PM Erdoğan's son

Istanbul’s Sevda Tepesi (Love Hill), which has belonged to the king of Saudi Arabia since 1984, has returned to the agenda after the main opposition said a construction permit for the hill was granted only after Saudi Arabia sent $100 million to a charity that counts the prime minister’s son as one of the board members.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu submitted a parliamentary question yesterday asking if the Service for Youth and Education Foundation of Turkey (TÜRGEV), a charity NGO that includes Bilal Erdoğan, son of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, among its board members, had received $99,999,900 donation in its account at Vakıfbank on April 26, 2012, in return for a construction permit for Saudi King Abdullah’s plot of land on the shores of the Bosphorus.
The permit was given only two months after the money transaction sent by chief of the Royal Protocol, which conducts protocol and agreements for the king, the CHP deputy added.
Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç confirmed at the time that TÜRGEV had received $99,999,900 in aid from abroad between 2008 and 2012.
Tanrıkulu also asked if the king had formally applied for the permission to conduct construction and, if so, its date, as well as why the permit was not given.
The property was reportedly purchased by King Abdullah in 1984.

Turkish Music : Gülşen - Yatcaz Kalkcaz Ordayım

Turkish Women Protest Deputy PM's No Laughing Comments
Hundreds of Turkish women posted pictures of themselves laughing on Twitter on Wednesday to protest against comments by Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc who had urged women not to laugh in public to “protect moral values.”
Melda Onur, a lawmaker from the main opposition party CHP said on Twitter Arinc's comments portrayed laughing as a dishonorable act and left women exposed to violence.
Opponents accuse Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government of ruling in an increasingly authoritarian manner and meddling in people's private lives, which has long been a source of conflict between the country's secularists and Erdogan's conservative supporters.
Erdogan is running to become the first directly elected president of predominantly Muslim Turkey.
​Arinc's comments, in which he also criticized television soap operas for promoting decadence, also drew criticism from opposition presidential candidate Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu who tweeted: “Our country needs our women to laugh and to hear everyone's joyful laughter more than ever.”

Russia Concerned by Reports of Kiev Using Ballistic Missiles in Eastern Ukraine

Moscow is concerned by reports that Ukraine’s government troops have used ballistic missiles against independence supporters in the country’s east, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday.
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko Tuesday confirmed the country’s readiness to provide access to international experts to the crash site of the Malaysia Airlines passenger plane in Donetsk Region, declaring a unilateral ceasefire within a 20-kilometer (12-mile) radius.
“Now, unfortunately, actions suggest the opposite: Donetsk, Luhansk and other villages in these regions are being shelled with Grad rocket launchers, artillery and tanks.” On Tuesday, citing US officials CNN reported that Ukraine’s government troops used short-range ballistic missiles in the east. The weapons have a range of about 50 miles and pack warheads of up to 1,000 pounds.
These missiles could have been fired from a Tochka short-range ballistic missile system (NATO Designation SS-21 Scarab), the report said. If the reports are accurate, these are “the most deadly missiles to date used in the conflict,” CNN said. “All this is concerning, and everything is happening amid allegations that Russia and the militia are impeding inspectors’ access to the [Boeing] crash site,” Lavrov told a group of young Tajik diplomats.
The military governor of Luhansk, Serhiy Grachev, said earlier Tuesday eastern Ukrainian militia forces have found what appears to be a ballistic missile warhead in Luhansk Region. A spokesman from Ukraine’s National Security information center, Andriy Lysenko, rejected the report, saying that Ukraine has no such missiles.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that the Kiev government intensified military operations against its own people after getting support from Western countries. Moscow has described the ongoing military action as a punitive operation and has repeatedly called on Kiev to put an immediate end to the bloodshed.

Pashto Song: Rahim shah and Gul panra - Monga Malangan yo di Meene

Pakistan: PMLN Govt hesitating to declare Taliban as terrorist
Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon has said that Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) is afraid of declaring Taliban as Terrorist adding that government is trying to create conflicts between army and political parties.
Addressing the press conference in Hyderabad the Minister said Prime Minsiter Nawaz Sharif has been given wrong advices by his ministers. He suggested Premier to act wisely.
He demanded that Government should withdraw its decision regarding calling army in the capital. Sindh Information Minister said the government is trying to create conflict between political parties and army as political thinking is lacking in the government’s approach.
Sharjeel opined that Punjab government’s act in the Model Town Incident was barbaric.

Afghanistan a building block for China-India ties

By Raffaello Pantucci
The appointment of a former ambassador to Kabul and New Delhi by China to the role of Special Envoy for Afghanistan highlights China’s thinking of what it can do in Afghanistan.
China is not seeking a leadership role in the country, but is rather looking for regional partners to support its efforts. A key partner is being sought in New Delhi where the Narendra Modi administration has welcomed Xi Jinping’s early overtures for a closer broader relationship. The opportunity presents itself that Afghanistan’s two largest Asian neighbours might be on the cusp of closer cooperation to help the nation onto a more stable footing.
It is clear that there are issues with Sino-Indian collaboration on Afghanistan. First among these are differing perceptions on Pakistan and its responsibility and role in Afghanistan’s current predicament. For China, Pakistani security forces are trying to deal with a monster within their country with links across the border. For Indian authorities, it remains a Frankenstein’s monster of Pakistani construction that is, therefore, fundamentally theirs to address. China’s particularly close relationship with Pakistan plays into this divide, raising concerns in New Delhi as well as complicating China’s approaches to Afghanistan.
Nevertheless, all three sides (China, India and Pakistan) seem to have found some way of working through these concerns, as there has been considerable movement and public discussion (including this project the author has been working on) between China and India in particular about their future collaborations in Afghanistan.
All of this highlights how divergent views on Pakistan aside there remains substantial scope for cooperation between the two in Afghanistan. In particular, both sides agree that terrorism in Afghanistan is a problem that needs to be addressed and a part of this is through the strengthening of Afghanistan’s security forces. Neither power is going to send forces, but there does seem to be the possibility of some agreement to increase their security training contribution. While this has to be managed carefully, it is clear that there is a need to do something to support the Afghan National Security Forces post-2014, and in particular with the more than 100,000 men under arms who will become unemployed in line with the Chicago declarations of shrinking the ANSF from 350,000 to around 228,500.
One idea would be that China and India step in to find a way to support the transformation of some of these men into a ‘mineral protection corps’ or some other paramilitary role that means they will continue to retain jobs rather than becoming unemployed men with arms and military training. This is a logical lead for China and India given it is most likely to be their national firms that are coming in to rebuild Afghanistan and profit from its mineral wealth.
Beyond this, the most obvious strand of cooperation between the two in Afghanistan lies in focusing on developing the country’s economy and building the nation’s technocratic infrastructure. This works through governments ensuring their state-owned firms (those most likely to be investing substantially in Afghanistan’s economy in the future given their higher risk threshold and capacity to make major infrastructure investments adjacent to mineral extraction projects) maintain a certain level of coordination when building infrastructure and that they agree to not go below certain thresholds of corruption when entering into deals within the country.
Given it is state-owned firms that make the most investments in Afghanistan, it is more likely that governments in either country will be able to drive policies forwards in this direction. They can further consolidate this with support to Afghanistan’s bureaucratic future through the creation of a large pool of scholarships at their technical universities for young Afghans. This will have the effect of building a soft link between the nations as well as provide Afghanistan with the needed technocratic capability that will help it build institutions to confidently rebuild the country.
The net result of these efforts is likely to be incremental. Neither China nor India are going to take the lead in Afghanistan having watched the West flounder for the past decade. At the same time, both have an interest in rebuilding Afghanistan and have many of the necessary levers of power to make a difference. The longer-term benefit of this cooperation is a tangible result for the increasingly warming Sino-Indian relationship — something that will only strengthen the hands of both powers in Asian affairs. Afghanistan could become the starting point of a new Asian order, increasingly led by billion-person giants China and India.

Afghanistan: IEC Accepts UN's Audit Criteria

On Wednesday the Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced their acceptance of the United Nations (UN) proposition on the recount and invalidation of ballots, but the presidential candidates have not yet agreed.
The UN proposal includes a total of 13 points that outline the invalidation of ballots and ballot boxes. Five points are in regards to the invalidation of ballots and the remaining eight are the criteria for the cancellation of ballot boxes as a whole.
The IEC confirmed their agreement to the UN plan at the IEC headquarter in Kabul in the presence of Ján Kubiš, head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
The audit process was postponed until the third day of Eid, but on Wednesday IEC said that the audit procedure will commence on Saturday. Meanwhile, all the election observers will be trained in accordance to the audit criteria until then.

Power-sharing in Afghanistan : The election that never ended

THREE airless aluminium warehouses, shaped like giant armadillos, sit hunched on the outskirts of Kabul. Inside hundreds of volunteers and international election observers have been bustling around in stifling heat, arguing over the shape of tick-marks on individual ballots. During Ramadan the lack of food and drink made the stale atmosphere inside the godowns all the more draining.
The Ramadan fast has since broken, but the counting goes on. Until it has finished, the presidential election that was supposed to replace Hamid Karzai hangs in suspension.
After a surprising reversal of fortunes suddenly favoured Ashraf Ghani in the second round of the presidential elections, his opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, cried foul. Alleging fraud, several of his powerful supporters threatened to establish a breakaway government.
It took an emergency agreement brokered by John Kerry, America’s secretary of state, to keep the process alive, but the deal is starting to show some of its inherent flaws. Mr Kerry has moved on and the two presidential hopefuls are now left to wrestle over its shortcomings.
To prevent Afghanistan from splitting down the middle, the candidates committed themselves to a two-pronged agreement: a full, internationally supervised audit of all 8m votes cast; and the formation of a government of national unity. Mr Ghani and Mr Abdullah were induced to hug each other before Mr Kerry and the cameras on July 12th. Since then the mood has soured.
One dispute is over the national-unity bit of the deal. Mr Ghani and Mr Abdullah agreed to divide power between the president and a “chief of the executive council”, to be nominated by the losing side. In two years’ time, a loya jirga (a gathering of tribal elders, local power-brokers and elected officials) is to vote on the option to turn the new executive role into the post of prime minister.
To this extent, both sides agree. The balance of power, however, is a matter of debate. Mr Abdullah is pushing for something close to a 50-50 division of power.
Mr Ghani however, perhaps feeling confident that his contested lead will stand up in the face of the audit, seems reluctant to put too much “share” in power-sharing. Referring to the Afghan constitution, his side insists that the real power must remain in the hands of the president. “Nobody can push the president,” as Abbas Noyan, a member of Mr Ghani’s team, puts it. He says Mr Ghani is committed to the agreement, but that “further details about the national-unity government will be discussed after the announcement of the audit result.”
Mr Noyan claims that positions in the unity government must be based on merit, not simply on whomever the losing side chooses to introduce. And that the leader of the opposition is supposed to be someone who is loyal to the government of the president. A prime-ministerial post may be established, Mr Noyan allows, “but we will not change the system to a parliamentary one.” It becomes unclear exactly what power will be left to the executive council—Mr Ghani’s side says that its chief will be “responsible for implementing government policies”.
A decade ago it was widely thought that democracy in fissiparous Afghanistan could only work with a strong central authority. But Mr Karzai's unsatisfactory and increasingly whimsical rule, under which cronies flourished, has underlined the disadvantages of an overstrong presidency. When the Kerry deal was announced, Mr Karzai called it “a bitter pill”. As it turns out, some Afghan voters are finding it hard to swallow. “They don’t respect our votes,” said Lutfuddin Osmani, a 28-year-old NGO worker. “Why did they have to spend so much money on the elections, if [the candidates] are going to share the power anyway?”
As a result of this dispute, talks behind the scenes have stalled. Mr Ghani and Mr Abdullah have met only twice since Mr Kerry’s visit, most recently on July 18th.
The technical part of the agreement also provides grounds for disagreement. As the audit limps along, the agents of both candidates are arguing strenuously over minor details. Should they void only individual votes that appear spoiled? Or should they dump the whole of any contaminated ballot box? In what cases does a sharp increase in voter turnout warrant suspicion? Can a fingerprint stand in for a tick mark? Initially scheduled for four weeks, the audit was suspended for the third time on July 26th, and will not resume until after Eid. At its current pace, Afghanistan will not have a new president to inaugurate until December.
Mr Kerry’s mission to Kabul left many Afghans feeling relieved. He appeared to have salvaged an election in which Western donors had invested over $130m. But neither of the rivals seems to have accepted the basic fact of the contest between them: one of the two must lose more than the other. Stalling and prevarication are the only outcomes on which they seem to stand in agreement.