Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Video - Ukraine: Back to school? Not after shelling destroys building

India will not be a major player in America's game of 'rebalancing the Asia-Pacific'

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who came into power in May, has started his trip to the United States. After attending the United Nations General Assembly, Modi will be on a state visit of the United States.
Modi spoke highly of his state visit to the United States in an announcement released before the trip. He said that India regards America as a vital partner for national development and hopes visit will mark a "new chapter" in a strategic partnership between the two countries. The U.S is ready to reward India's enthusiasm. Reports indicated that U.S. President Barack Obama will host a rare private dinner for Modi at the White House to "promote a personal relationship with Modi".
The direction of Indian-American relationships has aroused intensive attention. Media reports say that India has a vital role to play in the U.S. strategy of "rebalancing Asia-Pacific". Many people anticipate that the U.S. will rely on India to counter China. In fact, no matter how close the relationship between India and the U.S. grows, India will not be a major player on the American team. The 'rebalancing' strategy consists of three parts - politics, economy and security. However, Indian national power is not sufficiently strong in any one of the three aspects.
Politically, India has to confront political uncertainties. Modi noted that the two countries’ values and interests are aligned. Furthermore, the complementary strengths of India and the U.S. are the foundation of a natural relationship between India and the U.S. The U.S. treats Indian self-esteem with respect.
The U.S.-India ''Global Partnership'' was set up in July, 2005. The U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue started in 2010. On this occasion Modi's visit might provide opportunities for the establishment of an India-U.S. strategic partnership. At the same time, there are vulnerabilities in the relationship. Relations between the two countries deteriorated as a result of a diplomatic issue when Indian diplomats were arrested in the U.S. at the end of 2013. In the short term, unlike other traditional U.S. allies in Asia such as Japan, South Korea and Australia, India will not take on a major role in the U.S. "rebalance in Asia-Pacific" strategy.
Economically, India is expected to enhance its business links with the U.S. but it cannot be a major factor in the important economic agenda of the rebalancing strategy.
India has established an economic and financial partnership with America. One of Modi's task during his visit is to promote an Indian economic recovery plan. The Indian government has therefore arranged a set of joint activities with American business elite for their Prime Minister Modi in order to attract more Amerian investment.
The key element of the U.S. rebalance strategy is The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The U.S. is attempting to establish free trade zones in the Asia-Pacific with the help of TPP. However, India has not been invited to participate in the negotiation process. In respect of security, America hopes to cooperate with India to maintain regional stability. But currently the U.S. strategy focuses on relationships between its traditional partners including Japan, the Philippines and Australia. When it comes to India, American interest is limited to ammunition supply and developing the military forces.
Fundamentally, India was one of the countries behind the Non-Aligned Movement. Every Indian government has emphasized that non-alignment is a basic principle of their foreign policy. India adheres to an all-round foreign policy strategy. Not only does India give priority to the India-U.S. relationship, it also attaches great importance to Sino-India relationships.
The unsolved territorial disputes will not affect the development of Sino-India relations. China and India vowed to forge a closer development partnership when Chinese President Xi Jinping finished his state visit to India a week ago.
It is unrealistic for America to rely on India to play a leading role in its "rebalance in Asia-Pacific" strategy. There is little prospect of India and the U.S. reaching consensus on Chinese issues.

Obama: There Will Be No War Between NATO and Russia

US President Barack Obama has excluded the possibility of military confrontation between Russia and NATO over the Ukrainian crisis in his interview to CBS Monday.
"No, I don't think there's going to be a military confrontation between NATO and Russia, although we have worked very hard to reassure that Article Five of the NATO treaty means what it says," Obama stated, answering to the question whether he believes a military confrontation between NATO and Russia and Ukraine is possible. "We come to the aid and assistance, so if you mess with the NATO country, then there will be a military confrontation. And Putin understands that. But I do think there's a possibility of Russia moving in a better direction," Obama continued in his "60 minutes" interview to CBS.
Obama also mentioned gas talks between Russia, Ukraine and the European Union that took place in Berlin last week and may be conducive to the political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis.
"There was an agreement announced today that, in fact, Russian gas would still be sold to Ukraine. So that they're not going to freeze this winter," Obama concluded.
According to the preliminary agreement, Russia and Ukraine could sign a so-called "winter package" of documents on the Russian gas supplies to Ukraine. The supplies would amount to five billion cubic meters of gas at $385 per 1,000 cubic meters for a half-year period.

Bill Maher Says If President Obama's 'Latte Salute' Offended You, Go 'Marry Your Teddy Bear'

The Huffington Post | By Erin Whitney
Earlier this week the Internet was pretty upset over President Obama's "latte salute," when he saluted Marines with a coffee cup in his hand.
On this week's "Real Time With Bill Maher," the host debated the controversial incident with General Anthony Zinni. Maher, who hilariously dubbed it "latte-gate," found the matter more ridiculous than scandalous. "Let me just say, if this offends you that much, you should marry your teddy bear," Maher said.
Zinni quickly cut in to add just how offended he was by the President's salute. "[It] may be fine in a frat house, it's not the way in the Marine Corps," he said. Maher went on to mock "latte-gate" asking if it was "more important than, like, anything else in the world." While the two disagreed over it, the audience continued laughing at an old photo of the time President George W. Bush saluted with his dog in his arms. We wonder what object will be the center of the next disgraceful salute debate.

Video Report - President Obama greets PM Modi with ''Kem Cho''

Music Video - Noor Jehan - Saiyyo Ni Mera Mahi

Music Video - Pashto And Urdu Song - Zeek Afridi And Najeeba Faiz | Neela Asmaan


Pashto Music Video - Laila Khan " Za Laila Yama "

Afghan Music Video - Shabnam Suraya & Sadriddin - Wafai Delam

Video - 29 September 2014 | Afghan President Ghani's Speech at Inauguration

U.S.-Afghanistan Bilateral Security Agreement, Fact Sheet

On May 2, 2012, the United States and Afghanistan signed the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the United States of America, a 10-year strategic partnership agreement that demonstrates the United States’ enduring commitment to strengthen Afghanistan’s sovereignty, stability, and prosperity and continue cooperation to defeat al-Qaida and its affiliates.
On September 30, 2014, the United States and Afghanistan signed the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA). This is another important step in solidifying our strong bilateral relationship and an essential component for supporting Afghanistan’s long-term security. The BSA will enter into force on January 1, 2015.
The best guarantee of Afghanistan’s security is a capable and confident Afghan National Security Force (ANSF). Afghan forces are already providing for Afghanistan’s security and will be fully responsible by the end of this year. The BSA is the clearest possible expression of a U.S. commitment to a security partnership with Afghanistan. It provides a legal framework that allows the United States to continue to train, advise and assist the ANSF and further develop its capabilities. The BSA will also help the U.S. and international partners to continue providing necessary financial support to sustain the ANSF.
By setting forth the privileges, exemptions, and authorizations for United States forces, the BSA enables the continued presence of U.S. forces in support of Afghanistan. This legal framework applies to all members of the United States Armed Forces and all persons employed by the Department of Defense at all times and places in Afghanistan.
The BSA signals that the political and military partnership between the United States and Afghanistan remains strong now and in the future.
The entry into force of the BSA will give the United States and other nations the confidence to continue to provide security and development assistance to Afghanistan. It will allow the United States to continue its work with the ANSF to preserve the gains of the past and to build on them for the future. The BSA will also give investors more confidence in Afghanistan’s future.

What does the US-Afghan security deal mean for bilateral ties?

Afghanistan's new government has signed a long-delayed security deal with the US allowing Washington to leave some troops beyond 2014. Analyst Scott Smith speaks to DW about the implications of the deal for both nations.
In a move intended to mend frayed ties with the Unites States, a representative of the newly-inaugurated Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, and US Ambassador James Cunningham, signed the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) on Tuesday, September 30 at the presidential palace in Kabul. The deal allows the US to leave a small contingent of troops in the country beyond this year, when a NATO-led combat mission ends.
The agreement became a sticking point in US-Afghan relations after President Hamid Karzai refused to sign it last year despite a "loya jirga" grand assembly endorsing the deal. Also inked was a similar agreement between Afghanistan and NATO. The new mission, named Resolute Support, will focus on training and support for the Afghan army and police as they take on an increasingly resilient insurgency. Troops from Germany, Italy and other NATO members will join a force of some 9,800 US soldiers, bringing numbers up to about 12,500.
Scott Smith, director of the Afghanistan and Central Asia program at the United States Institute of Peace, says in a DW interview that signing the BSA is essentially the minimum condition for a future strategic partnership, which includes significant financial support. By doing so, the new government also reinforced its investment in this partnership.
DW: What does the signing of the BSA represent for Afghanistan?
Scott Smith: At the very least, the signing of the BSA represents a restoration of confidence in the relations between the two countries. The US-Afghanistan relationship had deteriorated significantly during President Karzai's second term and his refusal to sign the BSA was only part of that deterioration.
People knew that if the agreement was not signed, the US military commitment to Afghanistan would end, and this added to the general sense of uncertainty during a critical and difficult electoral year when, for the first time, someone other than Karzai would be president. Signing the BSA is essentially the minimum condition for a future strategic partnership, which includes significant financial support. By doing so, the new government also signaled that it is invested in this partnership.
What exactly does the BSA provide for?
The BSA provides the legal basis for US troops to remain in Afghanistan. It also allowed the signing of a Status of Forces Agreement with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. These international forces that remain will not have a combat function as their mandate is to "train, advise, and assist" the Afghan security forces.
Since June of last year, Afghan forces have been fully in the lead of combat operations. They have been supported by international forces in terms of receiving logistic support, medevac capabilities, and intelligence. But this support has dwindled. The US, for example, no longer provides medevac assistance.
More specifically, the BSA sets out rules of engagement for US troops and provides immunity for US troops from Afghan laws. The rules are more restrictive than in the previous agreement, which was negotiated more than a decade ago. Because of these more restrictive rules, the BSA is considered to be more respectful of Afghan sovereignty. Furthermore, President Obama announced in May that US troops would only remain until 2016. When the BSA was initially negotiated, the assumption was that US troops would remain in Afghanistan for another decade.
The BSA became a symbol of frayed US-Afghan ties. How did Karzai's stance impact bilateral ties?
President Karzai surprised many people by refusing to sign the BSA, even though he had received a near-unanimous endorsement to sign it from the national assembly (loya Jirga) he convened specifically to seek guidance on whether it should be signed. This was indeed a sign of how difficult and, to some extent, bitter, relations had become between President Karzai and the US administration.
I choose these words deliberately - most Afghans seemed to have wanted him to sign it, so it was not a symbol of frayed US-Afghan ties, but it was definitely a symbol of frayed US-Karzai ties. Karzai's refusal to sign it would have had a catastrophic effect on the bilateral relationship had the electoral dispute endured much longer.
My personal view for his not wanting to sign it is that he had lost confidence in the military relationship with the US. As he said in his final speech, he believed the US had become a cause of conflict in Afghanistan, rather than a provider of stability, and therefore the responsibility for their presence should be assumed by his successor.
Some Afghans still oppose the BSA because they think it would undermine the country's sovereignty. What is your view on this?
This may be the point of view of some, but I would not be surprised if many Afghans have come to adopt a more pragmatic view of sovereignty. In other words, they understand that it is difficult to exercise real sovereignty when your political class is divided, the state is under constant pressure from an insurgency, and neighbors are able to easily meddle in domestic political matters.
Those who believe that a continued US presence will eventually help to strengthen state institutions and ensure the continued support for the Afghan national security forces may view this continued presence, in the medium term at least, as essential to attaining meaningful sovereignty, rather than declarations of sovereignty that are not much more than rhetoric.
What does the BSA entail in terms of financial aid?
The NATO summit that was held in Wales in early September was perhaps more immediately relevant to financial aid. The participants pledged to continue to financially support Afghan security forces over the next ten years, but in decreasing amounts and under the assumption that Afghan authorities would make demonstrably effective efforts to ensure accountability. This agreement was reached before the BSA was signed.
On the other hand, at a symbolic level, the presence of US troops in Afghanistan, as long as it lasts, will ensure that Afghanistan remains a top foreign policy issue for Washington. Afghans I have spoken to about this seem acutely aware that without US troops, Afghanistan might once again be quickly abandoned. For many, therefore, the important question was not necessarily how many troops would remain if the BSA were signed, but how long they would remain. From this perspective, the Obama announcement of a complete withdrawal by 2016 came as a disappointment.
How important is the BSA for the stability of the new Afghan government?
The BSA is clearly perceived to be important for the new Afghan government, otherwise its signature would not have been one of the first acts of the new government. At the level of perception it provides some confidence that the international community will remain committed to Afghanistan's progress, and at the practical level it ensures that Afghan security forces will continue to be supported. In my view, a more flexible approach to the withdrawal timelines would have a positive effect on political stability.
On the other hand, the fact that the administration of US President Barack Obama has not been ambiguous about its desire to remove all troops by 2016 sends a clear signal to Afghan political leaders that they cannot waste their energies on internal struggles; they must begin to create a government that is much more effective than it has been. It also sends a clear signal to Afghan military leaders that they have two years to prepare themselves to confront the insurgency alone, and that this time must be used wisely.

U.S., Afghanistan sign security pact to allow American forces to remain in country

By Sudarsan Raghavan
The United States and Afghanistan on Tuesday signed a vital security deal that allows some American troops to remain in Afghanistan beyond this year, ensuring a continuing U.S. presence in the region.
The Bilateral Security Agreement allows for 9,800 U.S. soldiers to stay in the country past 2014 to help train, equip and advise Afghan military and police forces. It arrives as the Taliban Islamist movement is increasingly attacking areas around the country in an effort to regain control as most foreign troops are scheduled to leave by the end of the year.
The signing was undertaken a day after Ashraf Ghani was sworn in as Afghanistan’s new president in a power-sharing government in the first democratic handover of power in the nation’s history. Ghani’s predecessor, Hamid Karzai, who had presided over the country since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, had refused to sign the agreement, souring relations with Washington.
A separate, status of forces agreement, was also signed that permits a small NATO force to remain in Afghanistan past the end of the year.
Under the BSA, as it is called here, American forces would keep some bases in the country. It also prevents U.S. soldiers and military personnel from being prosecuted under Afghan laws for any crimes they may commit; instead the United States has jurisdiction over any criminal proceedings or disciplinary action inside the country. U.S. contractors and their employees do not fall into this category and would be subject to Afghan laws. Tuesday’s signing took place at the presidential palace compound in central Kabul.

News Analysis: Pakistan eyes tension-free, strong relationship with Afghan new gov't

by Muhammad Tahir
Pakistani leaders are hopeful to develop good neighborly relations with the new Afghan government as the years of tensions have proved unhelpful to effectively counter serious security challenges.
In his farewell speech last week, former President Hamid Karzai blamed both the United States and Pakistan for the continuing war with the Taliban insurgents.
This blame game continued for a long time over the cross-border shelling, lack of cooperation to jointly fight terrorism and alleged hideouts of the Taliban militants in both countries.
The lack of trust harmed all efforts for reconciliation with the Afghan Taliban and Karzai admitted his failure to carry forward the reconcilary process. Karzai also pointed out that peace with the Taliban is not possible without the help of the U.S. and Pakistan.
Cross-border attacks have caused a serious blow to bilateral relations and Afghan Foreign Minister Zarar Ahmad Osmani raised the issue of the alleged Pakistani "rocketing into Afghanistan" at his U.N. General Assembly's address last week. This shows a deterioration in bilateral relations, as Kabul preferred an international forum rather than using bilateral diplomatic channels.
Kabul claims Pakistani rockets affect "civilians" in eastern Kunar province. Pakistan, however, denies it fired rockets into civilian areas and says its forces only target positions of the militants who attack Pakistani border posts.
Karzai seemed to be upset at what he described as, "Pakistan' s lack of cooperation" to encourage the Taliban to enter into peace talks with his government. Islamabad, for its part, added that they do not have control over the Taliban and that it can only play the role of a facilitator.
Pakistani officials insist they have freed over 50 Taliban detainees, including some senior leaders and former ministers, at the request of Karzai and his peace council to accelerate the reconciliation process, however, all the freed Taliban refused to join the intra-Afghan dialogue.
For its part, Pakistan says it is disappointed at "Afghanistan' s failure to stop the Pakistani Taliban from entering the Afghan side of the border." Security officials insist that many Pakistani Taliban fighters who have fled to Afghanistan following military operations in the tribal regions and Swat valley, now operate from the Afghan border region. Afghanistan-based Pakistan Taliban insurgents are being blamed for cross-border attacks on check post and villages.
Pakistan military spokespeople have claimed that the Afghan gov' t has not helped to stop fleeing militants from crossing the border from North Waziristan tribal region, where the security forces are battling local and foreign militants. Pakistani forces launched the biggest offensive in the region in June to flush out the militants from their last major sanctuary. Afghanistan itself and the U.S. had also been calling for the operation, as they claimed al-Qaeda and the Haqqani Network also had hideouts in North Waziristan.
As political tensions had a negative impact on bilateral relations over the past 13 years, the two countries now have a good opportunity to bury the hatchet and deal with the post-NATO situation. Any instability in Afghanistan will directly affect Pakistan's fragile security situation.
Pakistan made the wise decision to represent itself at the highest level in attending the swearing-in ceremony for President Ashraf Ghani on Monday.
President Mamnoon Hussain was the only head of the state among the nearly 200 foreign guests who attended Afghanistan's historic first ever democratic transition.
President Mamnoon Hussain held separate meetings with President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and " conveyed Pakistan's commitment to working closely with the new government for the promotion of common goals," the Foreign Ministry said late Monday at the conclusion of his day-long visit to Kabul.
"Underlining the importance Afghanistan attached to its relations with Pakistan, President Ashraf Ghani reiterated his perspective that both countries should have a 'special relationship,'" a Foreign Ministry statement said. Dr. Abdullah also expressed his desire for the new government to forge a cooperative and forward-looking relationship with Pakistan.
Statements from the leadership of the two countries have raised hopes for a new tension-free beginning, as their cooperation could enable them to meet the ongoing serious security challenges they would be facing after the foreign troops withdraw from Afghanistan in less than three months.


Lawyers of Pakistani Christian pastor Zafar Bhatti said their client and another man were shot dead Thursday in their prison cell after both were charged with blasphemy, or insulting the religion of Islam.
The pastor and 70-year old British citizen Muhammad Asghar were allegedly murdered by the police near Pakistan’s capital city of Islamabad.
Zafar Bhatti was said to be an activist who worked to protect the rights of Pakistan’s Christian minority. Before the shooting, he was locked up awaiting trial for sending text messages that apparently were interpreted as insulting to the Prophet Mohammed’s mother. Bhatti’s family has said all along that it was not his phone that sent the text messages, because they allegedly had proof that the cell phone in question was not registered in the pastor’s name.
A recent poll showed that 75 percent of Pakistanis supported the country’s blasphemy laws that order insulting Islam as punishable by death. Some have suggested that the laws are frequently applied as a weapon against Christian and Ahmadi Muslim religious minority citizens.
As of March of this year, Pakistan had fourteen citizens on death row and another nineteen serving out life sentences for blasphemy charges.
Xavier Williams of human rights NGO Life For All said regarding the pastor’s execution: “This is a barbaric act. There had been threats. The court should have instructed police to ensure Bhatti’s safety. Killing of a person who was falsely accused is mockery of the judicial system. The protectors of the innocent have become the predators.”
Before his death, the pastor’s family told Life For All that he had received a plethora of death threats from both fellow inmates and corrections officers.
William Stark, a regional manager for the International Christian Concern, told the Christian Post: “This most recent incident involving Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law should once again bring the abuse of this law back into international discussion.”
Stark added: “Unfortunately, pressure from Islamic radical groups and general discrimination against Christians in Pakistan has transformed trial courts into little more than rubber stamps for blasphemy accusations brought against Christians, regardless of the evidence brought to bear in the case. Also, little is done to ensure the safety of those merely accused of blasphemy, leading to the deaths of at least 48 people, many of whom could have been proven innocent.”

Pakistan: Origins of Baloch Insurgency

Tariq Kakar
The true Origin of Baloch insurgency dates back to partition era when the Colonial masters decided to leave the Indian sub-continent and divided according to their will. According to the partition plan, India and Pakistan were independent while the princely states were allowed to join either of the newborn states or remain independent. Kalat declared its independence on 11 August 1947.This independence lasted 9 months and then the Kalat state was forcibly acceded to Pakistan. The Baloch retaliated and initiated insurgency plans under command of Prince Karim, younger brother of Khan of Kalat; Mir Ahmed Yar Khan, but it was curbed soon and prince Karim was imprisoned for 10 years. Four phases of insurgencies followed this event.
Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah attempted to merge Kalat into Pakistan, but Kalat’s parliament unanimously opposed his idea. Pakistani high officials forced Khan Ahmed Yar Khan to sign the instrument of accession. Since then, Baloch have been facing suppression and marginalization in socio-economic and political fields. All these circumstances led the Baloch towards armed struggle against State. The inefficiency of the federal government resulted in the insurgency movements of the Baloch.
In 1955, central government passed the One Unit Bill, under which West Pakistan was considered as one province to counter the strength of East Pakistan but that scheme was protested by the Baloch because they considered One Unit Scheme a direct threat to their political identity. In 1958, Khan of Kalat demanded abolition of One Unit and recognition of Baloch political identity but he was denied and imprisoned. Babu Nauroz Khan Zehri started armed struggle against Pakistan Army. Security forces took oath of Holy Quran that Babu Nauroz Khan and his companions will be pardoned if they surrendered. However, they were deceived by the state forces and 90 years old Nauroz Khan was imprisoned while his sons were hanged to death.
In 1962, the Parari movement was started. Its main purpose was to oppose the new cantonments and naval bases. Marris, Bugtis and Mengals were the resistance leading tribes.
In 1973, the Baloch insurgency was much bigger in magnitude. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto dissolved provincial government of Attaullah Mengal and imprisoned NAP’s leadership. The insurgency lasted for four years, from 1973-1977. Thousands of Baloch Guerillas participated and military troops took part in that conflict. Gunship cobra helicopters were used against Baloch to curb the movement. The Baloch warriors went to Afghanistan to seek refuge for refuge for over a decade.
In 2001, the Baloch insurgency renewed when Former Army Chief General Musharraf announced to develop Gwadar port without taking Baloch leadership into confidence. Baloch believe that Federal government is not providing financial autonomy. Saindak and Rekodic are examples of the lack of financial autonomy to Balochistan government where Balochistan government receives only 2 percent share of whole project. According to Frederic Grare, the lack of attention given to Balochistan is propelling the hatred of the Baloch towards the Federal government. Peace is not guaranteed without political autonomy, economic prosperity and due share in financial assets.
Late Nawab Khair Baksh Marri, the veteran Baloch leader said that the Baloch oppose the development activities in Baloch areas because Baloch have no faith in federal government. He believed that government always deceived Baloch in the name of development. Baloch despise the idea of being deprived of their natural wealth without any rewards. Baloch are also facing issue of Afghan refugee within the country, which is a serious threat to demography of Baloch. The Gwadar and Chaghi locals were untrained and Non-locals were hired, which deprived the rights of local population causing economic disparity among them.
Circumstances deteriorated in 2002, when Musharraf regime signed an agreement to hand over Gwadar port to a Chinese construction company. Baloch leaders arranged anti-Musharraf protests regarding Gwadar port. Many Baloch workers and political activists were arrested. Musharraf tightened the security in Balochistan. In response, Baloch reorganized their insurgent groups and started low scale insurgency against the paramilitary forces. They attacked foreign workers, killed Chinese engineers and threatened the government-led projects in the region.
Situation worsened in 2005 when a Sindhi lady doctor was raped allegedly by Captain Hammad in Sui Gas Field hospital. When he was declared innocent, Nawab Bugti and other tribesmen retaliated. The army attacked Dera Bugti and many Baloch were slaughtered. Nawab Bugti moved to mountains and He was killed in August 2006. His murder fueled the turmoil in Balochistan. Since then, Balochistan is under military control and the Baloch claim that the state forces have killed thousands of Baloch including political workers, doctors, activists and students.
The province’s socio-economic and political condition has deteriorated. There is no direct investment in Balochistan except few major projects. Commercial activities are minimal and government supervision is nil. The ongoing conflict between the army and Baloch is hindering provincial progress. Non-Governmental Organizations have also neglected the province by claiming security problems while concentrating on other parts of Pakistan. The federal government also paid no attention on internal infrastructure of Balochistan and linked Gwadar directly with Punjab and Sindh. Colonial pattern of development always threatens the interests of indigenous people because it ignores locals when matter of participation comes. Likewise, in Balochistan, all development work was started in resource rich areas, while other parts of province were neglected. Following suggestions may ensure a sustainable peace in the region:
1. All stake holders must be taken onboard while initiating dialogue process.
2. There must be a political solution to address Balochistan problem.
3. Role of security forces should be minimal.
4. Gwadar port must be under provincial government.
5. Share of profits in mega projects must be increased for Balochistan.
6. Share of the Baloch in Federal Quota system should be increased.
7. All labor for the mega projects in Balochistan must be from within the province.
8. Federal Government must ensure the financial autonomy of Balochistan.

Pakistan : Opposition leader Khurshid Shah suggests mid-term elections

Opposition leader in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah on Tuesday recommended holding of mid-term elections to resolve prevailing political crisis.
Talking to media in Islamabad, Khurshid Shah stated that it will be better for the system if Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announces mid-term polls.
The PPP leader stated that it is not appropriate to force the premier on ‘going point’ to take this action.
We want survival of the system and parliament, he added.
Khurshid Shah suggested that investigation of election rigging should be carried out through the Supreme Court of Pakistan. He said opposition jirga should hold direct talks with the leadership of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) to end the deadlock.
Shah said Nawaz Sharif is an constitutionally elected prime minister and he was felicitated by former president Asif Ali Zardari and PTI chief Imran Khan over his victory.
Thousands of anti-government protestors led by Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri have staged sit-ins in the federal capital s Red Zone to oust Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Imran Khan alleges the 2013 elections were rigged in a conspiracy led by nawaz Sharif, acting with the Election Commission, the judiciary, the interim provincial government in Punjab, and a private news channel. However, they have all denied the allegations.

Pakistan: Too little too late?: 20 FC men deployed to guard bomb-wrecked refugee camp

In the wake of a devastating bomb blast that killed at least eight people on Sunday, the district police deployed around 20 Frontier Constabulary (FC) officials at Khwaja Muhammad camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) in Hangu.
Hangu DPO Nazir Kundi, while talking to journalists, confirmed that IDPs housed in the camp were the main target. He said an FIR of the blast was registered at Saddar police station against unidentified militants under sections 302 and 324 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
Kundi said FC officials were deployed inside and outside the camp, adding five more personnel could be stationed for added security. The DPO added four suspects had been rounded up from within the camp limits during a search operation after the blast and moved to an undisclosed location for interrogation.
Last rites
Grief-stricken relatives took the bodies of their loved ones to their hometown in Upper Orakzai Agency for burial. Camp residents said not a single political figure or government official visited to offer condolence or a shoulder to cry on.
Lal Badshah, whose seven and eight-year-old sons—Lal Wali and Sher Wali—were killed while playing in the makeshift camp market, said he had to take the bodies to his hometown early in the morning.
“We could not find a place to bury them in Hangu.” Badshah said the loss of his two young sons had a devastating impact on him and his wife. He recalled they had only recently visited the market to buy clothes for Eidul Azha.
“Their mother is constantly looking at the clothes we bought them for Eid; she hasn’t stopped crying,” he added. A bike bomb
According to DPO Kundi, a motorcycle was rigged with explosives and parked within the camp limits to cause “maximum damage”. Around seven kilogrammes of explosives were used in the explosive device, bomb disposal unit official Asadullah told The Express Tribune. The attack spread further fear and panic among camp residents, who had recently been threatened by militants to vacate the premises. “Not a single person living in the camp did anything which would provoke militants to attack us, yet we were targeted,” said Muhammad Sadiq, one of the people wounded in the blast. “We have to battle for survival even though we have nothing to do with this fight.” Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak ordered an enquiry against the blast and directed senior officials to submit a detailed report. He also directed the police and district administration to launch a crackdown and contact the border authorities of Orakzai Agency. On June 10, unidentified militants fired rockets and hurled grenades at the camp for IDPs from Orakzai in Hangu. The attack followed upon earlier threats asking IDPs to vacate by June 11.

Pakistan : Three injured in attack on polio team in Gujranwala

The Express Tribune
Three people were injured on Tuesday when a polio team was attacked in Gujranwala, Express News reported. On August 31, the Gujranwala district health office had announced that a polio vaccination campaign would be launched on September 29. Despite the number of polio cases increasing with each passing day, the authorities have failed to put a concrete plan in place. Polio workers are frequently targeted in the country, while many parents refuse to let health workers administer polio drops to their children. For this year alone, the total number of reported polio cases stands at 174 in Pakistan - one of only three countries in the world where polio is still endemic.

Pakistan: Protecting our IDPs

Virtually forgotten, over 1.15 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) continue to languish in districts bordering the tribal areas. The UN estimates that over 900,000 were displaced this summer by operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan while tens of thousands have been in camps for years following previous military operations or fighting with the Taliban. This does not include several thousand families that are not registered and live as ‘guests’ with host families or relatives. Many IDPs from Bajaur, Kurram and South Waziristan have yet to be repatriated because of continuing terrorist activity. On Sunday a despicable bomb attack at an IDP camp in Hangu District in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) showed that while the rest of Pakistan has forgotten about them, the terrorists have not. Police say that eight people were killed and ten injured after a ten kilogram explosive device placed in a motorcycle was detonated via remote control at a camp for IDPs from Bajaur. Around 1,150 families have been at the camp for several years. The attack was later claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.
There is little doubt about the importance of tribal groups in the ongoing insurgency. This is not a new phenomenon. During the 1980s, thousands of fighters from the Muslim world, from Chechens to Arabs, used the tribal areas as a staging ground for assaults in Afghanistan. After the anti-Soviet resistance ended, many of them, unable to return to their home countries, settled in the tribal areas, even marrying into the tribes. Tribal hospitality dictates that ‘guests’ be protected and throughout the period of the Afghan civil war and the Taliban regime, refugees from across the border and foreign fighters continued to intermingle with the tribes. This changed after the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan when Taliban fighters moved to the tribal areas in strength, usurping the traditional powers of the tribal maliks (chiefs) after killing them. Reports from both military and independent sources confirm that over time the Taliban built a parallel state structure premised on their perverse interpretation of Islamic law, which undermined the archaic political agent model instituted by the British. By eliminating the maliks the Taliban cut the crucial link between the state and the tribes. In some cases, such as the Mehsuds who are the backbone of today’s insurgency, the terrorists were welcome. But many tribes have been brutalised by the Taliban, particularly Shia tribes in Kurram and Bajaur. The attack in Hangu hence gives cause for both concern and optimism. It shows that many tribes have little love lost for the Taliban and will continue to resist them. Therefore providing them with all the help and facilities the state can manage is imperative, including protection from terrorist attacks. If the Taliban intend to coerce adversarial tribes into supporting them, the state must instead provide them with better lives and more protection.

Pakistan - Bilawal Bhutto to launch career from place where Benazir attacked in 2007

Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari would restart the journey from the point where his mother, former prime minister Benazir Bhuuto’s caravan was attacked on October 18, 2007.
On the day PPP would hold a public gathering at the mausoleum of Quaid-i-Azam. Speaking after his party’s core committee meeting at the Bilawal House, former prime minister and senior PPP leader Yousaf Raza Gilani said the 2007 Karachi bombing occurred two months before Benazir was assassinated. The bombing resulted in more than 120 deaths and 425 injuries. Most of the dead were members of the PPP. “October 18 reminds us that the PPP leadership and it workers have always sacrificed their lives for democracy,” he stated. Earlier addressing the meeting, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who chaired the meeting, said that the PPP would again be made a party of the masses by mobilisation of the cadres across the country. Gilani said Benazir returned for the restoration of constitution, independence of judiciary and media. “Even though she was warned of danger, but she followed the footsteps of her father Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto,” Gilani said. He said today the nation is looking towards the leadership of Bilawal and his decision is of prime importance. “Under the leadership of Bilawal, PPP would flourish and regain. The party would bring stability in the country and institutions would be strengthened.” The former premier said Bilawal would come with the vision of Benazir and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
Gilani said party office-bearers and workers had remained part of party. Asked if Bilawal’s apology to the party workers was not a charge sheet against the previous PPP government, the former premier replied diplomatically, saying “there is always room for improvement”. When asked whether Bilawal was referring to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) when he asked party workers not to move to other parties, Gilani explained that the statement had nothing to do with the PTI.
“As far as Imran Khan’s party is concerned, they have their own manifesto. They have never come to power before, whereas we have been there many times,” he said. also speaking on the occasion, former premier Raja Pervez Ashraf said people would see real reflection of his mother and his grandfather in Bilawal.

Bilawal Bhutto - Apology and after

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s message to party workers and followers is reminiscent of the sentiments of a general who is striving to keep his troops together for the next battle.
In an open letter, he has apologised to those who may have reason to part ways with the PPP and has asked the disillusioned to stay put a while longer, making it incumbent upon himself and Asif Ali Zardari to take some drastic steps towards the party’s revival.
The PPP has not only been reduced to a regional party, more or less confined to Sindh, its support is considered emotionally inspired. It has drawn widespread criticism for not keeping pace with the people who have far more at stake today than backing a political party purely out of their love for the ‘martyrs’ the party has produced.
Declaring one’s intention to take up where Ms Benazir Bhutto left off can only be meaningful if the PPP is willing to back its words with reorganisation along practical, result-oriented lines all over the country.
The old stories about how the PPP once swayed Pakistanis across various divides are now mere opium that can only make those at the party’s helm oblivious to the current realities.
It was easier for the PPP in the 1960s during the years leading to its founding. The repair now is a much more sensitive job, not least because others have been more inventive and mobile than the PPP, and the debate about whether or not they have moved in the right direction is a luxury which Bilawal Bhutto Zardari cannot afford at the moment.
The simple reality is that the people have found themselves choices and a new force to challenge the long-time PPP opponent — the PML-N — that had over all these decades provided an automatic justification for the existence of the PPP. The PTI is a challenge to grapple with. Imran Khan appears to have eaten deep into the PPP support base particularly in Punjab comprising anti-PML-N pockets — and the PPP’s policy of playing the appendage of PML-N is further harming its cause.
To say that apologies are solutions would be as futile as dismissing this message by the PPP chairman as an instrument of surrender.
For whatever it is worth, his letter does provide broad lines of policy and identifies the PPP with the ‘left-wing’ forces. It falls short of stating the obvious about who controls the politics in the country, but at the same time does promise resistance to “right-wing parties” that “appease” the extremists.
For practical reasons, the edgy PPP jiyala would be hoping that these appeasers in the new party rule book would include both the PTI and PML-N. Though this is a dangerous course, this ideological focus is as crucial to Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and his party’s rise as to the effort to organise at the grass roots.

Pakistan: 16,000 children missed out in polio drive due to parents’ refusal

By Ikram Junaidi
Though a nationwide campaign to vaccinate 34.16 million children started on Monday, 16,757 children could not be vaccinated in Peshawar city on the first day because of refusal by their parents.
However, National Manager Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) Dr Rana Safdar said data about the parents had been collected and these children would be vaccinated by involving influential personalities of the city.
Secretary Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) Ayub Ahmed Sheikh inaugurated the control centre at the EPI building here.
The centre is the initial form of the emergency operation cell (EOC) recommended by the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) which works on behalf of the international donor agencies.
The EOC will be operating at the federal and provincial level to collect real-time data from the field and ensure a quick response.
Mr Sheikh said 38.26 million doses of vaccine had been supplied to the provinces for the campaign.
“The federal government is fully committed to ensuring support to the provinces to reach out to each and every child during the campaign,” he said.
However, by evening, data gathered by the control centre became shocking.
An official of the ministry, requesting not to be identified, said in Peshawar due to security reasons the polio campaign was reduced to just one day.
He said past experiences had shown that polio teams were usually attacked on the second or third day of the campaigns.
“During the one-day campaign in Peshawar, 84 per cent children (635,378 out of 754,383) were vaccinated while 28,934 children were not available at their addresses.
But the shocking thing was that 16,757 children could not be covered because their parents refused to vaccinate them,” he said.
Dr Rana Safdar, while talking to Dawn, said the refusal cases were not unusual. “Out of the 97 union councils (UCs) in Peshawar, 45 have been declared high security risk areas. So only one-day campaign was launched there. However, there will be two catch-up days during which we will try to vaccinate the children which could not be covered,” he said.
“The data on children is available; now it will be analysed to ascertain their tribe, language and school of thought. After that, influential personalities of the area will be involved to vaccinate the children. The number of refusal cases will be reduced in the catch-up phase,” he claimed

Pakistan: PPP to hold public meeting in Karachi on October 18: Gilani

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) would hold a public meeting at Mazar-e-Quaid in Karachi on October 18, the party’s leader and the former Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani said on Monday.
Gilani was briefing newsmen along with other party leaders after core committee meeting of the PPP in Karachi on Monday afternoon.
The former prime minister said that the PPP workers and leaders rendered great sacrifices for the cause of democracy.
The sources said that it was decided in the PPP core committee meeting that the party would launch mass contact campaign from October 18.
The meeting decided that the PPP would hold public meetings in all provincial capitals as part of its mass contact program.

Monday, September 29, 2014

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What Bilawal Bhutto must do...

By Sarmad Palijo
For the last few days, we’ve been reading much about Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s trip to South Punjab’s flood affected areas. This, after the announcement of his plans to contest the 2018 general elections from his family constituency in Larkana, is seen by many as the launch of his own political career.
Seeing Bilawal walk among the people (as against his previous public appearances, which saw him sitting on top of distant stages), was indeed heart warming and a welcome sign during the increasingly partisan polarisation in national politics.
A few weeks ago, I wrote on these pages about Thar’s disastrous famine and voiced the people's desire to see Bilawal personally going to them to bring them hope and support. Surely, now, the trip to Multan and Chiniot has corrected the balance lost in Thar.
This increased interaction in Punjab between the people and the Chairman of the PPP feels like a breath of fresh air amidst the stale politics of Right vs Right that has been playing out in Islamabad. Bilawal’s move in Punjab will give life to the diminishing Left and also allow Punjab, and in extension, the whole country to have a more vibrant and pluralistic political landscape.
Bilawal visits Chiniot flood-hit areas by dawn-news
Indeed, while the Right, including PML-N and PTI, was pushing for dialogue with the Taliban, it was young Bilawal who, stood on the historic Makli Hills, and called for national action against unrelenting extremist militancy.
One hopes that Bilawal's foray into Punjab is not as calculated as PPP’s critics allege and that his interaction with the people of South Punjab was not a stage managed photo op; because only a genuine connection with the public who have been left at the mercy of old feudal politics can save PPP from a complete rout in the region.
Polls rigged from Karachi to Khyber, says Bilawal by dawn-news
The road to political glory for Bilawal in Pakistan’s complex and dangerous politics lies not only in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar, but also through the old broken mud houses and flooded fields of Sindh, Punjab, KPK and Balochistan; for Bilawal, it lies not through the high walls of the big houses of Defence and Bahria Town, but through the broken hearts of unfortunate millions of brick kiln workers and fishermen of the Ravi and Keti Bandar.
It was they who carried Benazir in their hearts through hell and high water, and it is them who will follow Bilawal to all ends if he chooses to follow them too, through their miserable existence and be with them in person and heart.
Roman emperor Julius Caesar once famously sat under a towering statue of Alexander the Great, in Spain, and cried because at 35 years of age, Caesar thought, he had not achieved anything compared to Alexander, who had conquered the known world at a younger age.
Similarly, at 26 years of age, expecting Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to fix our problems is a deeply flawed aspiration.
But then, logic dictates that those with the best of opportunities must be expected to present the best results.
Unlike Caesar’s conquests, we need Bilawal to conquer the hearts and minds of Pakistan. We need a Bilawal who is more Soreh Badshah, (Sibghatullah Shah Rashdi, who challenged the British during the famous Hur uprising at a very young age) and less Rahul Gandhi, who has failed to inspire India.
And we also need a Bilawal who, despite the huge burden of expectations, builds his political career brick by brick, mile by mile, by visiting all corners of Pakistan and listening to the people he wants to serve; and also by distancing himself from advisors who themselves stay behind high walls and armoured vehicles.
While Bilawal wears the golden handcuffs of privilege and position that don’t allow him easy access to the common man, he must know that in Sindh, under the PPP government, development has been dismal; that sometimes, up to 80% of development funds are distributed among the corrupt bureaucrats, politicians and contractors; that even the remaining 20% funds, at times, are misused to satisfy a stakeholder in some form and shape.
Sindh is fast losing infrastructure and hope. If the PPP is to impress Punjab, which has seen better development under the Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif, it must drastically change its public development policy and curtail massive corruption within its ranks.

Pakistan fails to curb polio, 10 more cases surface

Pakistan has completely failed to curb the menace of polio virus in the country as 10 new cases of the deadly epidemic have emerged in the country. So far 184 kids have been affected by the virus this year in Pakistan. According to Ministry of Health, Polio virus has been detected in 10 more kids.
2 of the kids belong to Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (KPK), 2 from FR Bannu, 2 from Karachi while 4 belong to Khyber Agency. In Gadap Town Karachi, polio virus has been found in a 12-month-old boy and 2-year-old girl while the kids belonging to Khyber Agency are aged 6, 7, 12 and 15 months. In 2000, 200 cases of polio were registered in Pakistan. Pakistan is just 16 cases short of breaking its 14-year old record.

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Kurds say Turkey not doing enough to stop Islamic State

Jacob Resneck
A crowd stands within earshot of the gunbattles raging between the Islamic State and Kurdish militias across the border in Syria. With a scarf concealing his face, one young man helps peel back the last set of barbed wire that divides Turkey and Syria.
He, like many in this crowd of thousands here, is itching for a fight.
As fierce battles rage over the mainly Kurdish city of Kobane, the West is worried it could be the next Syrian city to fall to Islamic State militants.
Villagers with family on both sides of the border are worried about their loved ones and are fed up with how Turkey is handling the situation, saying the government has mainly focused on keeping the Kurdish minority from aiding fellow Kurds in Syria.
"We would protect the people in Kobane and fight the Islamic State, but the Turkish police are helping the Islamic State — by preventing people from crossing the border," said Memet Sipan, a professional singer at the border trying to get across.
Another villager at the border, Suleyman Celik, 55, said, "The Islamic State is slicing babies, burning villages, they are killing children, they are beheading people. They do this is the name of Islam, but they are not Muslims."
U.S. airstrikes have targeted the Islamic State in nearby villages since Saturday, destroying a building held by militants and two armed vehicles at the Kobane border crossing, the Pentagon said.
While Turkey's rhetoric against the Islamic State has increased, it continues to keep its territory off-limits to the U.S.-led coalition conducting airstrikes against the militants.
This is causing friction with both Washington and Turkey's Kurdish minority. Villagers here blame Turkey's earlier open-door policy for jihadists wanting to topple Syria's regime with actually ending up helping the Islamic State rise to power — from a local militia in Iraq to a powerful force threatening the entire region and the West.
These allegations underline the deep mistrust of the Turkish government among the Kurdish population on both sides of the border. This stems from a guerrilla war in Turkey between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) since the 1980s that has killed tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians from all sides.
Kurdish leaders in Turkey insist that Turkey must allow their people to cross into Syria to fight the Islamic State and deliver humanitarian aid.
"At first people were frightened of the Islamic State because of the horrible images in the media, like beheadings and such," said Kamuran Yuksek, 34, a leader in the pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party, on a visit to the nearby administrative capital Suruc. "But now people are becoming desensitized, and they are willing to fight them."
A precarious cease-fire remains on a knife's edge between Turkey and the outlawed PKK — listed as a terrorist group by the U.S. and Turkey. And Turkey distrusts the Kurdish militias that operate in its borderlands.
That tension is coming to a head. On Friday, a small group of Turkish soldiers on the border allowed some people in the crowd to cross into Syria. The soldiers were outnumbered by demonstrators bused-in from cities across Turkey by pro-Kurdish political parties. Within an hour, Turkish soldiers re-sealed the border after hundreds of riot police arrived and fired tear gas at crowds on both sides of the wire.
Friday's clashes were among several in recent weeks along the border and towns with ethnic Kurdish majorities. Turkey proposed a buffer zone of troops to help insulate the population, but Kurdish leaders are wary that the real purpose is to keep the PKK from strengthening in Syria.
That was alluded to Sunday when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, a rising threat. He also warned of the dangers of a rising Kurdish militancy by the outlawed PKK.
"Hey world, if you openly speak out against ISIS as a terrorist organization, why don't you openly speak out against PKK as a terrorist organization," Erdogan said at the World Economic Forum in Istanbul.
Local Kurdish leaders decry Turkey's comments about fighting religious extremism but barring people from joining the fight.
"Instead of helping the people with their fight for democracy, the (Turkish) government is attacking them," said local pro-Kurdish party leader Ismail Kaplan, whose town of Suruc has taken in more than 150,000 refugees in the past week. "This doesn't come to us as a surprise, as we know their ideology."

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Fury as Obama blames intelligence agencies for Isil surprise

By Peter Foster
With his foreign policy approval ratings at a historic low, Barack Obama meets furious reaction after blaming US intelligence agencies for failing to predict rise of Isil in Syria.
President Barack Obama was facing a fierce political backlash on Monday night after he blamed US intelligence chiefs for being caught by surprise by the sudden rise of the Islamic State (Isil) terror movement in Iraq and Syria.
In a highly unusual step, Mr Obama singled out James Clapper, his director of national intelligence, when asked by a television interviewer whether he had underestimated the threat posed by Isil after its fighters burst across the Syrian border into Iraq this summer, capturing large swathes of territory.
“I think our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” Mr Obama told CBS News.
The president’s apparent unwillingness to take responsibility for his administration’s failure to foresee the threat was met with disbelief by both policy experts and senior Republicans, who have long warned of the risks of ceding strategic space to the jihadists in Syria.
“This was the ‘dog ate my homework speech’,” Senator John McCain, the former Republican presidential candidate who has long called for Mr Obama to arm moderate rebel forces in Syria, told Fox News, adding that Mr Obama should follow other presidents and admit his mistake.
Every president in history had made a mistake, acknowledged it and then moved on. President Reagan with Iran contra, President Clinton in Bosnia, President George W Bush after the debacle in Iraq, when he started the surge - but it doesn’t seem to be in this president’s DNA,” he said.
Mr Obama’s foreign policy approval ratings are at a historic low, with almost 60 per cent of American disapproving of his handling of foreign policy – a number that has not improved since the president began implementing his strategy to “degrade and destroy” Isil.
Frederic Hof, the former State Department special adviser on Syria now with the Rafik Hariri Center in Washington, who argued for greater support for the rebels but later resigned in the face of White House opposition to the policy, said the intelligence community was not to blame.
“I very much doubt that the intelligence community was asleep at the switch while Isil was gaining strength in Syria,” he told The Telegraph, “None of this was exactly hidden from view.
“No doubt President Obama and his advisors were perplexed when it came to policy options, and no doubt the scope and speed of the Isil thrust into Iraq were surprising. But I doubt that the US intelligence community is to blame for any policy shortfalls."
The White House denied that Mr Obama was trying to shift the blame away from himself and onto the intelligence community. “That is not what the president’s intent was,” said Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, adding the president had “the highest degree of confidence” in the intelligence community.
However Mr McCain warned of ‘blowback’ from the intelligence community which already appeared to be moving to defend itself, with a former senior Pentagon official who worked on Isil intelligence assessments telling the Daily Beast website: “Either the president doesn’t read the intelligence he’s getting or he’s bullsh------.”

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Afghanistan : UN congratulates President Ghani on inauguration

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) congratulated Dr. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai on his inauguration as the new President of Afghanistan.
UNAMA also reaffirmed its commitment to cooperate with the national unity government in Afghanistan’s progress to peace, stability and development. A statement released by UNAMA said, the UN applauds both President Ghani and the Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, for their pledge to work together to serve all Afghans through the national unity government and looks forward to the speedy formation of a new government. “Both President Ghani and Dr. Abdullah carry the nation’s expectations,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Ján Kubiš. “The many challenges facing Afghanistan can only be overcome through unity and statesmanship.”
“In addition to wishing both men success in their vital collaboration, I also take this opportunity to reaffirm that the United Nations remains a committed and supportive partner of Afghanistan,” Mr. Kubiš added.
Representing the Secretary-General, Mr. Kubiš attended today’s presidential inauguration accompanied by Deputy Special Representative and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative-designate, Nicholas Haysom.

Afghanistan's New President : Ashraf Ghani's Struggle

The iconoclastic anthropologist is taking over Afghanistan’s presidency with high hopes and big ideas.
hraf Ghani has this shtick that he performs for journalists who visit him: He opens his palms to you and says: "This hand is clean from corruption. The other is clean from blood."
In Afghanistan, that is saying something. However, Ghani's reputation is no longer squeaky clean. A three-month-long election crisis sparked by widespread fraud allegations ended on Sept. 21; Ghani was officially sworn in as president on Sept. 29. But the issues that prompted the grueling gridlock in the first place have not been entirely resolved.
An extensive vote audit declared Ghani the winner, and he and his rival Abdullah Abdullah signed a deal to form a "national unity government," in which Abdullah (or a nominee of his choice) becomes "CEO," a position akin to an executive prime minister. The deal was midwifed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who visited Kabul twice and reportedly called the two candidates a total of 27 times. However, top European and American officials have said the audit wasn't thorough enough, leaving original suspicions of mass fraud alive to sour Ghani's early taste of victory when he is inaugurated in Kabul today.
Foreign Policy met Ghani at his house in Kabul in early August while he was still deeply entangled in the election crisis. Dressed in his trademark crisp white shalwar kameez with black vest, his fingers fidgeting a string of amber prayer beads, Ghani spoke with the air of a lecturer.
People often come out of meetings with him with the sense that "he thinks he is the smartest guy in the room," as one Western diplomat puts it. "I have been given this enormous gift and I want to put it into service of the people who deserve a break from this viciousness. Politics to me is not a business, it's not a profession, it's not a profitable enterprise," Ghani said. "It is a calling."
After a bruising power struggle, the coalition government looks wobbly from the outset. The challenges facing the government are monstrous and Ghani doesn't need the bickering to continue in the months ahead. His first year in office will be defined by the difficult transition from heavy U.S. military presence to full Afghan authority and responsibility for security. He would know -- having headed from 2011 to 2013 the commission responsible for overseeing the transition -- that this process is not going too well.
One hurdle is the weak condition of the Afghan state that Ghani inherits from outgoing President Hamid Karzai. By ruling through personal alliances at the cost of state institutions, Karzai stayed in power -- and alive -- for 13 years. But he also boosted power brokers in the provinces who will fight Ghani if he threatens their economic and political interests. And there is a good chance the new president will. "The political class and other parts of society must accept to regard institution-building as the only guarantee for saving us from individualistic thinking and conduct in the running of the state," Ghani wrote in his campaign manifesto.
As co-founder of the Washington-based Institute for State Effectiveness, and co-author of the 2009 book Fixing Failed States, Ghani has discussed in detail how to reconstruct post-conflict societies. While he has much praise for his predecessor, Ghani blames Karzai for allowing corruption to bloom. "The corruption is a failure. Not building institutions is a failure. So there's a balance sheet. There are negative things but there are also positive." And while Karzai is not personally corrupt, Ghani says, his family is another matter.
"How the wider institutions have been shaped, how family members have behaved and others, that's part of a wider tolerance of corruption that is taking place in society," said Ghani. "And you need to ask [Karzai] as why he has not been more assertive on some of these issues." Corruption is only one of the ills plaguing the Afghan economy. Dependent on foreign imports and with little domestic industry to speak of, the economy was left close to comatose as financial activity stopped during the recent election impasse. According to the country's finance minister, the stuck ballot cost Afghanistan $5 billion in lost revenue and investment, and threatened to leave the government unable to pay salaries for civil servants.
Making Afghanistan self-sufficient is at the top of Ghani's agenda. "We want to generate one of the biggest construction industries in the region," he said. "We have enough marble to last the region for 100 years, but we are importing marble from neighboring countries."
Many of Afghanistan's problems come down to poor infrastructure. "Urban and rural Afghanistan are totally disconnected. Go to the market. 70 percent of the food is foreign imported, while 40-60 percent of our food rots between the field and the market because we don't have the system," Ghani noted.
Having spent more than a decade as an adviser to the World Bank, Ghani speaks the language of technocrats. ("Transformation and Continuity" sounds more like a working paper than a campaign slogan, for example.) He rolls out his plans meticulously, up to eight bullet points at a time, as if lifting them directly from the 309-page election manifesto.
And he looks to history to find suitable analogies for what he plans to do in Afghanistan. By asserting state control over the economy, he says, Afghanistan can grow like South Korea did in the 1970s and 1980s. To fight extremism, Afghanistan needs closer cooperation with Pakistan, molded on the European Coal and Steel Community, the post-World War II precursor to the European Union.
In his two years as finance minister under Karzai, from 2002-2004, Ghani built the ministry from scratch, introduced a new currency, initiated the development of a new cell phone system, and created a widely successful large-scale anti-poverty program. This year, he had far more detailed plans than any of the seven opponents who ran against him in the first round.
In fact, his plans may prove overambitious, particularly after the lengthy election. As Kate Clark, a Kabul-based analyst points out, "Things have changed since he drew up his plans." With Abdullah on board, Ghani has a less free hand in appointing officials. And the election crisis has drained the patience and trust of the people. "[Ghani] doesn't come into office on a wave of popular support. And to make reforms, especially difficult ones, you need support," Clark says.
Most of his reforms will require a fight against provincial power brokers as well as a rigid bureaucracy, but Ghani is no stranger to using a bit of managerial muscle. He is known for having a hot temper and little patience for disagreement.
"When he was finance minister, he could unite the whole cabinet against him," says Scott Guggenheim, a colleague and friend of Ghani since the 1970s. "He hasn't been a team manager, but that's changing." Indeed, Ghani has a reputation for throwing angry fits over minor details. "He did have a reputation for being ferocious as finance minister," says Clare Lockhart, who co-wrote Ghani's book on failed states. "In part, I think that was deliberate, because how else was he going to clean up when he didn't have tanks?"
International partners have also been at the receiving end of Ghani's angry outbursts. In 2011, when he headed the transition commission, Ghani met with a group of a dozen or so international NGOs. A country coordinator for one of the NGOs recalls how, before the meeting, Ghani told all the attendants to turn off their cell phones. When one person's phone rang anyway, Ghani exploded.
"He didn't just start shouting, he completely lost it," says the NGO worker who asked not to be named. "I can't imagine a worse person to work for."
Still, temper aside, Ghani and his new CEO are expected to be better friends of the West than Karzai -- who in his last years in power turned increasingly conspiratorial and obstinate.
"[Ghani and Abdullah] will both be more positive and moderate in their expectations of what the West can deliver," says Franz-Michael Skjold Mellbin, the European Union's special representative to Afghanistan. "We are going to see a significant shift from Karzai who has been a very difficult partner for the West for a long time."
Ghani has promised to sign security agreements allowing U.S. and NATO troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014, something Karzai refused to do for over a year. But Ghani also has strong criticism for the West, particularly when it comes to international aid, which he says is designed to benefit foreign contractors rather than Afghan companies. By offering high salaries, foreign firms distort the job market and make it difficult for the Afghan government to hire skilled domestic labor, he says.
Having grown up in Afghanistan's Logar province, Ghani, who is 65, spent most of his adult life abroad. He got his first degree at 24 from the American University of Beirut, where he also met his wife, Rula, a Christian Lebanese-American. He left Afghanistan months before the 1978 revolution, in which many of his family members were imprisoned. Ghani continued to watch from exile as Afghanistan went through one miserable period of war and struggle after another.
While Ghani says he spent his years abroad "preparing meticulously for reconstruction of this country," some Afghans feel he got off easy by not participating in the suffering of his compatriots. He hasn't, as many Afghans put it, "felt the pain of the people." "Eighteen months of my father being in solitary confinement [in 1978] is not feeling the pain of the people? The first village that got bombarded was mine. There's no pain?" Ghani said in the interview, slightly agitated. His father served in various capacities under the monarchy. "10 million of us became refugees. Are they going to judge every person?"
After arriving in the United States in the late 1970s, Ghani earned a Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University, then took a professorship at Johns Hopkins. He gained American citizenship in 1990. (He later renounced it to run for president in 2009). While he was working at the World Bank, there were brief -- if not entirely convincing -- suggestions that Ghani could replace Kofi Annan as secretary-general of the United Nations in 2006. In 2013, Prospect magazine named him the second most important world thinker, ranking him higher than the likes of Paul Krugman and Slavoj Zizek.
But the foreign endorsements took time to pay off in Afghanistan. In his first presidential bid in 2009 Ghani pulled in less than 3 percent of the vote. Since then he realized, says Guggenheim, "that he needed someone who could bring in people along patronage and ethnic lines. Politics are dirty."
That dirty someone was General Abdul Rashid Dostum, an warlord from Afghistan's ethnic Uzbek community who is accused of a series of brutal war crimes during the war against the Taliban. In 2009, Ghani called Dostum a "known killer."
Five years later, Ghani chose Dostum as his running mate. He was promptly criticized for hypocrisy. Many Afghans, particularly among Ghani's Pashtun constituents, don't want to see Dostum as vice president and potential stand-in for Ghani, who has previously had a brush with cancer which forced him to have part of his stomach removed in 1996.
Dostum commands around a million votes from the country's Uzbek community -- approximately the same as Ghani's election win over Abdullah. Ghani, though, denies that such cynical calculus was behind his choice of vice president. He compares politics to bricolage, where an artist creates a work from whatever material is at hand.
"This is what I'm going to do with the country, we need to put the existing material to work," he said. "This country has suffered from a syndrome of exclusion. Politics is not a love marriage.... What I have shown during this campaign is a harbinger of how I am going to build peace. Consensus means bringing people together who are in the beginning different."
Nevertheless, some fear that Ghani may not be able to unite Afghanistan. Apart from Dostum's base, several prominent Pashtun nationalists have rallied behind Ghani. Some in Afghanistan, particularly Tajiks, the country's second largest ethnic group, worry that the new president will rule along ethnic lines and further divide the country.
Fawzia Koofi, Afghanistan's perhaps most prominent female MP who also worked on Abdullah's campaign, is not in doubt: "Yes, he might bring reforms," she says. "But he will divide the country."
Ghani seems unfazed by the criticism, and insists he will only appoint people based on merit. The elections have only made his most important issue all the more pressing: to convince the Afghan people to trust its politicians. "The key is that politics takes the place of violence," said Ghani. "That ballots are going to be much more important each year than bullets."

U.S. troops to stay in Afghanistan after historic transfer of power

Afghanistan's new government plans to sign a strategic agreement Tuesday with the United States that would allow for approximately 10,000 U.S. troops to remain in the country after the U.S.-led NATO coalition’s mandate expires in December.
U.S. officials say the extended troop presence is needed to continue training Afghan’s 350,000 soldiers and police, and to conduct counter-terrorism operations.
The pact – which outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai refused to sign in his final months in office, fueling tensions with Washington – is expected to be signed by U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham and a senior member of the Afghan government.
Ashraf Ghani was inaugurated Monday as the country's new president, ending a months-long election dispute with the first democratic transfer of power in the nation’s modern history.
In his inaugural speech, Ghani pledged to fight corruption and called on the Taliban and their allies to join the political process and end more than a decade of war.
But the occasion was marred by a Taliban suicide bombing elsewhere in the capital, underscoring the challenges Ghani will face. Seven people were killed in the incident, which took place at a security checkpoint near Kabul’s international airport shortly before Ghani was sworn in.
“I am your leader, but I am no better than you,” Ghani said, quoting Islam’s first caliph, Abu Bakr Seddiq. “I err; hold me to account.”
Ghani, a former Afghan finance minister and World Bank official, thanked Karzai for his role in the transition -- including helping to broker a compromise after a disputed runoff election marred by fraud-- and for respecting Afghanistan’s constitution during his 13 years as president.
“Our people have shown that they desire peace and order,” Karzai said at a ceremony at the presidential palace in Kabul.
As president, Ghani will head a government of national unity that will see Abdullah Abdullah, his election rival, take the new post of chief executive. Ghani said the unity government would be one of “representation” and thanked Abdullah for joining in the leadership.
Secretary of State John F. Kerry, who struck the deal to form a unity government in an urgent visit to Kabul in July, praised both men as "patriots" committed to the success of their country.
“Afghans have taken a moment of challenge and turned it into a moment of real opportunity,” Kerry said in a statement.
Following the oaths of office, Ghani signed an executive order naming Abdullah as chief executive and Ahmad Zia Massoud as special representative to the presidency. Massoud is the brother of slain former militia commander Ahmed Shah Massoud, who fought the Taliban and was close to Abdullah.
Until Monday morning it remained unclear whether Abdullah would participate in the inauguration. Members of his team were reportedly angered by the Ghani campaign’s decision last week to release results of the runoff election, which Abdullah maintains was marred by widespread fraud. The results, following a United Nations-supervised audit of all 8 million ballots, showed Ghani winning 55% of the vote.
Mohammad Khan and Mohammad Mohaqeq, who will take on the roles of deputies to the chief executive, were also sworn in by Ghani.
President Obama dispatched a delegation headed by John Podesta, his special counselor, to the inauguration. Other dignitaries attending included India's foreign minister, the president of Pakistan and representatives from Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the Maldives and China.

Video - Ashraf Ghani takes over as Afghanistan's first new president in a decade

Music Video - Ahmad Rushdie - Haan isi mor par, is jaga baith kar..


Humanitarian attention during the ongoing Pakistan army offensive against militants in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) has focused on the roughly one million internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have fled. But a less accessible group of people exist: those who stayed behind.
“In each village where the conflict goes on, there are people who chose to stay – to look after homes or livestock,” said Hassan Ahmad*, an NWA IDP in Peshawar. “My cousin is among them.”
Many of those who decided not to flee are now far from basic services and humanitarian support. “We have been trying to get food supplies through to them, but the trucks from Bannu are not being allowed in,” said Safdar Dawar, president of the Tribal Union of Journalists. “The conditions are terrible.”
As a result of the military action, access to NWA is extremely limited, but Dawar estimates that close to 40 percent of the population has remained despite the army operation, a figure disputed by security officials.
“Those who stayed behind are desperate to keep their homes and property safe,” said Ahsan Wazir, based since late June in a camp in the Bannu District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. The 1998 census put the population at around 400,000 people, though that number recently has been estimated at around a million.
Ahmad said village homes were being demolished by armed forces, leaving hundreds without shelter. “There is also no medical aid since hospitals in Waziristan are based only in the main towns, Miramshah and Mirali, and these are not functional right now,” Ahmad said.
Several tribes who refused to leave their homes have been forcibly shifted, say some of the IDPs, and have still not been allowed to return home.
The FATA (the Federally Administered Tribal Agencies) Disaster Management Authority says more than 630,000 IDPs have been verified by the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) as displaced from NWA since late May, according to the UN Refugee Agency head of its Peshawar sub-office, Jacques Franquin. Around 74 percent of the displaced are women and children, says the latest humanitarian bulletin from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Very few humanitarian agencies currently work in NWA, according to OCHA. Instead, work has focused on IDPs in neighbouring areas.
“The situation in North Waziristan is very grim, we understand,” said Mingora-based human rights activist Shaukat Saleem. He said attempts had been made to send observers into NWA, but that this had not been possible so far because roads are blocked by the military.
“No one has been left behind”
The situation of those still in NWA has not been commented upon by the government or by other agencies.
State security officials deny anyone remains in NWA. “The population of North Waziristan is over one million, and no one has been left behind. There is no one guarding homes,” a security official told IRIN, asking not to be named. He said it was uncertain how long the military operation would continue.
People still based in North Waziristan, such as Ahmad, say the military is now in charge of all administrative affairs in the area. An administrative official who asked not to be named said the people who had chosen to stay behind had done so “of their own free will” and mostly consisted of young men, while women, children, and older people had been sent away. He said many felt it was necessary for them to remain – despite military warnings – to safeguard their belongings. Some say they are tired of repeated displacement.
One NWA resident who stayed behind and prefers anonymity says he is now deeply concerned about the women and children in his family that he sent away. “I worry all the time about my wife, who is expecting our third child, and about my two young children who are with her at the camp in Kurram Agency,” said the man from a village near Mirali, a major NWA town.
He said it was difficult to communicate with his family as mobile phone connections were poor, and often suspended in the areas where fighting continues. He had heard conditions at camps were “very poor” but was unable to leave to try and join his family because his elderly mother was unable to travel and also because many routes were blocked.
For now, the problems in NWA seem set to continue. Despite the gains that the Pakistan military says it has made, fierce fighting continues in many areas, according to media reports quoting the military, and it is unclear when people who have left will be able to return.
Meanwhile, those who have stayed on must cope with bombed houses and destroyed land, adding to their difficulties in eking out any kind of livelihood.