Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Putin in speech on Ukraine makes clear Russia isn't on anyone's side, but opponent of anti-constitutional coups - expert
As tensions rise between Russia and the Ukraine, members of the large ethnic communities in New York City pray for a peaceful resolution
Young Pakistani lawyer Fizza Malik is being seen by many as the face of the latest tragedy in Pakistan's conflict. The country's media and social networks have seen an outpouring of grief since it emerged she had been killed in Monday's attack on a local court in Islamabad, reports BBC Urdu's Iram Abbasi.
"I wish my sister had listened and come with me to Dubai," said her brother Ali. Aged 23, Fizza had just qualified as a lawyer. She was working on a criminal case in the court in the city's F-8 area when militants mounted a suicide gun and bomb attack on the premises.
She used to love Pakistan so much that she never wanted to settle abroad but who knew her own country will become her killer?" her mother told the BBC, with tears in her eyes.
"My Fizza was so beautiful she didn't have to die so young."
Ms Malik graduated from Islamabad School of Law last year under a distance learning programme with the UK's University of Northumbria and had been practising for only a very short time. She was the only sister of two brothers who both work in Dubai. Her other brother Asad was weeping openly on his mother's shoulder when I entered the family house. "The menace of terrorism took my sister away - no brother could feel his sister is safe if she steps out of house to work," he said as he remembered their last phone conversation. Her father told me how caring his daughter had been: "We've sacrificed our daughter and it'll be in vain if this country doesn't stand up against terrorism. Will the government honour our sacrifice?"
Ms Malik had lost the sight of one of her eyes and had been receiving treatment in the US but her friend Ahmed told the BBC she had been so ambitious "even that didn't stop her from pursuing her goal of being the best criminal lawyer in the country". At least 11 people, including a judge and several other lawyers, were among those killed and more than 20 others were wounded in the assault on the court. Colleagues and friends remembered a young woman brimming with energy and potential in an article on the Dawn news website. "A life snuffed out," read the headline in Express Tribune. News of her death spread rapidly on Twitter. "We bury r children & move on. No change," read a message from human rights activist Alizeh Iqbal Haider.
"#RIP all those who are not among us today," tweeted Nazrana Yousufzai.
http://www.worldbulletin.net/Melting snow and ice in Siberia has unleashed a 30,000-year-old virus, which lay buried and inactive, frozen in a 30 meter deep layer of permafrost. Scientists who uncovered the virus brought it back to life after 30,000 years, and witnessed it attacking single-cell organisms like amoebas, according to a study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Professor Jean-Michel Claverie, from the National Centre of Scientific Research (CNRS) at the University of Aix-Marseille in France, said "this is the first time we've seen a virus that's still infectious after this length of time." The virus poses no threat to humans and animals, but scientists fear that more aggressive viruses like smallpox may also be lying deep in the Siberian permafrost that could also be revived if the ice continues to melt. "By going deeper we may reactivate the possibility that smallpox could become again a disease of humans in modern times," the scientist told the BBC.
A group of female activists has sent a petition to the Saudi Arabian Shura Council, demanding the end of male guardianship and the expansion of women’s rights. The advocates want the Council to take the necessary steps to improve women’s rights and stop domestic violence against them. Twenty-five women—including some university professors— recently sent the petition ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, the Saudi Gazette reported, citing Saudi newspaper Al-Hayat. Azizah Al-Yousif, an activist who signed the petition, said the group is determined to be heard.“This petition renews our demands as women. We want our issues to be put on the top of the Council’s priority list,” she said. Al-Yousif added that two Shura Council members promised to tackle many of the points raised in the petition. The changes the group seeks include women no longer be obliged to have a male guardian’s permission to complete education, work, and travel. Women also want to be able to file a lawsuit, receive medical treatment, be released from prison, or apply for an ID or passport without a man’s consent. Women and children who are victims of domestic violence at the hands of men should be protected by a special law granting them the right to self-determination, according to the letter. One example of the hold men have over women in Saudi Arabia is called “adhl,” when a male guardian prevents a woman in his custody from getting married. Men can now also demand minors to marry, divorce their wives without compelling reasons, and discriminate against women and harass them at work and in public. The petition wants to limit these powers. Women should be treated equally and provided the same opportunities as men to hold high positions in the private and public sectors, and granted the same pension benefits as men, according to the plea. After detailing their demands for expanded rights, the activists warned that these issues affect the lives of millions of women, and are vital to future generations. Writing in Al-Riyadh Arabic daily, Haya Al-Manee said that a Saudi woman is considered a minor. “In our society, a woman is treated a minor in every aspect… I don’t know when a Saudi woman would pass the phase of being a minor,” Al-Manee wrote. According to the website of the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington D.C., the Shura Council is a consultative body that consists of 150 members of educated and experienced citizens appointed by the King. In 2004, the Shura Council’s mandate was broadened to include proposing new legislation and amending existing laws without prior submission to the monarchy. But only the King can pass or enforce laws.
National Assembly Opposition Leader and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) senior member Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah has declared Islamabad unsafe. Speaking to media after visiting the victims of the Islamabad Court Attack at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) on Tuesday morning he said, “Islamabad is not safe anymore and the foreigners and the citizens are leaving the city.” “It is a misconception that India or any other state is responsible for the court attack”, he added. The opposition leader demanded that such deplorable incidents indicate failure of the administration and hence it should be changed at once. Khursheed Shah further said federal government is lucky to have opposition’s support even without any significant performance.
Shahid Afridi lived up to the ‘Boom Boom’ title for the second consecutive match as he blasted 59 runs from 25 balls in Pakistan’s win over Bangladesh. Not to be overshadowed by Afridi, Fawad Alam scored 74 runs to guide Pakistan to victory in the final overs of the match. Pakistan overcame a daunting 327 run target and confirmed their place in the Asia Cup final against Sri Lanka. Opener Ahmed Shahzad played a brilliant knock and scored a century ensuring that the required run rate remained in hand. Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim won the toss and elected to bat in a must-win match. Opener Amanul Haque scored a century and was supported by Imrul Kayes with 59 runs. Mominul Haque and Mushfiqur Rahim also chipped in with half-centuries.
We run through some important modern ultimatums to show why governments make them, and what—if anything—they accomplish.What’s an ultimatum? It’s a thousand different things, depending on who’s making it—but it’s generally something like a threat attached to a set of demands. “There will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine” President Obama said in a speech on Friday, though he did not specify what the costs to the Russians would be, or how they would be exacted. In Crimea Monday, three days after President Obama delivered his remarks warning of costs, and as Russian troops occupied more ground in Ukraine, A Russian admiral delivered his own ultimatum. According to Interfax news agency, Aleksander Vitko, Russia's Black Sea Fleet chief, gave Crimean forces until 5 a.m. on Tuesday to surrender or face a full military assault. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry denied receiving any specific threat from Russian officials, and the same news agency that issued the initial story later reported that a Russian spokesmen denied any ultimatum was given. What to make of all these ultimatums, those rescinded or falsified and those left on the table? Start with this: they’re given so often because they’re easily made, the price of making them isn’t collected right away, and because they buy time for preparations and appear useful to those for whom a course of action isn’t immediately clear or available. And ultimatums aren’t always cheap. They can be useful if they’re backed up by some decisive action that proves a cause and effect between warnings and consequences; they don’t necessarily require force, but some form of clear and effective retribution if they are not abided. With no promises of thoroughness, here’s a rundown of some case-study ultimatums from our recent history. There are older examples that you won’t find here, ancient ones even, but to keep both the Bible and Hitler out of a complex situation that’s already been grist for reductive morality tales, let’s take a look at the scene starting after World War II. No Sudetenland references here, folks. The Suez Crisis, 1956 An unlikely place to start, you might think, and a strange set of alliances: Israel, France, and England arrayed against Egypt, while the Soviet Union and the U.S. guarded their own interests and played peacemaker from the sidelines. “Within 24 hours after Israel invaded Egypt, Britain and France joined in an ultimatum to Egypt and Israel—and then began to bomb Cairo,” Time magazine wrote in the Suez conflict’s immediate aftermath. The setup for the ultimatum: On the heels of an arms race between the French backed Israeli’s and the Soviet backed Egyptians, Israel invaded Egypt in response to the Nasser government nationalizing the Suez Canal and closing off the Straits of Tiran. France and Britain, wanting to regain control of the canal, are waiting in the wings to join the war. An example of a certain type of ultimatum that, despite appearing to present terms to prevent war, was the pretext for an attack that was already decided. Afghanistan, 2001 The beginnings of a familiar modern ultimatum, which holds a state accountable not only for its own direct actions but also those carried out by its citizens and groups within its borders. President George W. Bush responded to al Qaeda’s attack on the United States and the killing of almost 3,000 American citizens by issuing an ultimatum to the Taliban government in Afghanistan, which had a close relationship with al Qaeda and allowed the group to operate freely in the country. Bush demanded that the Taliban turn over Osama bin Laden and the rest of al Qaeda’s leaders and rid the country of terrorists. The Taliban refused and less than a month later the U.S. war began. The ultimatum failed to produce bin Laden. That would take another 10 years and SEAL Team 6 to accomplish. But it did help cement the international coalition that backed the U.S. invasion and created a precedent that held sponsor states accountable for the groups operating under their auspices, or those that they had allowed to work within their borders. This is an ultimatum seeking a target in the disorienting matrix of asymmetric warfare. Syria, 2013 A slow fuse ultimatum and then an ultimatum put on hold. In response to a question about the Syrian civil war posed in 2012, President Obama said, “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus.” In 2013, after reports surfaced of horrific casualties from the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons against civilians and rebel groups, the vague ultimatum the president had established in the past year became a test of U.S. resolve and a mandate for action. Would the red line be enforced if evidence proved that Assad had used chemical weapons? Did enforcement necessarily mean invasion or could it be accomplished through long-range missile strikes and air power? Did it have to mean military action at all or were there other ways to ensure the Assad regime’s compliance and reinforce the message that the U.S. was willing and able to back up its words and enforce standards in the international order? Scrambling to interpret the implications of its own ultimatum, the Obama administration passed through a series of policy positions until a most unexpected development released them from having to decide exactly what Syria's trespass of the “red line” required. Seizing on a statement made by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Russia stepped in to broker a peace deal with Syria that promised to both get rid of Syria's chemical weapons and relieve the U.S. of having to follow through on the Red Line speech's threat of action. Some observers warned at the time that ceding the diplomatic initiative and appearing to abandon earlier U.S. ultimatums would embolden both the Syrians and the Russians in the future. There might be a useful lesson in the recent history of ultimatums. Rhetoric itself can be powerful. In Syria, the Russians—whatever their own interests and intentions were—made the U.S. an offer that it thought it couldn’t refuse. To have turned down the Russian initiative would have appeared like favoring war over peace. By publicizing a deal the U.S. thought it had to accept, the Russians were able to seize the initiative and begin dictating terms in Syria. That shift in the power dynamic didn’t come from force or the threat of it but from maneuvering around interests. There are two ways to judge the effectiveness of an ultimatum. One measure is how effectively it yields the demands made of the other party. The other, broader measure of an ultimatum views it as an instrument of leverage rather than a precision tool for producing specific results. By this standard a successful ultimatum might be one that can’t be met, as long as making it increases the relative power and maneuvering position of the party placing the demands.
http://www.voanews.com/U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived Tuesday in Kyiv, Ukraine, where he will announce a $1 billion aid package to a nation divided by political unrest. Kerry was met by enthusiastic crowds at Independence Square in Kyiv, where some protesters chanted "thank you" to America's top diplomat. Arriving for his first visit since the overthrow of Russian-backed President Viktor Yanukovych, Kerry described the experience as "moving, distressing and inspiring," according to Reuters. As Kerry demonstrated U.S. support for Ukraine's interim government, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country is prepared to use all options to protect Russians in Ukraine. He added that he hopes Russia will not have to use force. In his first public comments since Yanukovych fled Kyiv, the Russian leader called Ukraine's political power shift an "anti-constitutional coup and armed seizure of power," and said Yanukovych is still Ukraine's legitimate leader. "As for bringing in forces. For now there is no such need but such a possibility exists,'' Putin said, looking relaxed as he sat before a small group of reporters at his residence near Moscow. "What could serve as a reason to use military force? It would naturally be the last resort, absolutely the last."' Putin's comments Tuesday come amid a growing crisis over Russia's military presence in the Ukrainian region of Crimea. However, there was no immediate sign of any new movements by Russian forces in Crimea overnight. The United States and its European allies are considering sanctions against Russia for its presence in Ukraine. While in Ukraine, Secretary Kerry is expected to meet members of the interim government and reinforce U.S. support for Ukraine's sovereignty. Loan guarantees he was expected to offer are aimed at lessening the impact of proposed cuts to energy subsidies on Ukrainian citizens. Russian navy blocks channel Russian navy ships have blocked off the Kerch Strait which separates Ukraine's Crimea region and Russia, Reuters reported Tuesday. The Ukrainian border guard service said Russian servicemen are in control of the Crimean side of the narrow channel and that Russian armoured vehicles have been sighted on the Russian side. "The Kerch Strait is blocked by two Russian ships - from the north and from the south," Pavel Shishurin, the deputy head of the border guards, told reporters. The Russian military has not confirmed his comments. Elsewhere, Putin ordered tens of thousands of troops taking part in military exercises in western Russia, near the Ukrainian border, to return to base. The exercises were scheduled to end, so it is unclear whether the move was intended to help ease tensions. Moscow has denied that the exercises, started last week, were related to the situation in Ukraine. On Monday night, U.S. President Barack Obama met with Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other members of his national security team at the White House to discuss policy options. Earlier Monday, President Obama called on Congress to approve an aid package for the new Ukrainian government. In tandem with the diplomatic push, the U.S. Defense Department said Monday it is suspending military-to-military contacts with Russia. Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said the move is aimed at prodding Moscow to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis, and said the suspension covers maneuvers, bilateral meetings, port visits and conference planning. EU deadline European Union foreign ministers have issued a Thursday deadline for Russian President Vladimir Putin to pull back his troops or face punitive measures. Russia, meanwhile, is calling on Ukraine to return to a February 21 agreement between ousted President Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition that involved forming a national unity government. But State Department spokeswoman Psaki said Monday that while the agreement could be used as a "basis," the dramatic change in circumstances since then means it is not usable as it is. President Obama accused Russia Monday of violating international law with its actions in Ukraine. He said the country is "on the wrong side of history." Russia says its military movements in Ukraine are to protect its citizens there. But the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, told an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council Monday that Russia's intervention is an "act of aggression," and not the humanitarian mission it is seeking to portray. Diplomacy U.S. Vice President Joe Biden spoke Monday by telephone with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The White House said Biden urged Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine, support the immediate deployment of international monitors and begin a "meaningful political dialogue" with the Ukrainian government. Crimea is a Black Sea peninsula placed under Ukrainian control in 1954 by then-Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. It remained part of Ukraine when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Crimea has a tiny border with Russia on its far eastern point, and the Crimean port of Sevastapol is home to Russia's Black Sea fleet. Most of the people living in Crimea are ethnic Russians, but the region also is home to ethnic Muslim Tatars, who generally show disdain for Russia. Ukraine's troubles began in November, when President Yanukovych backed out of a trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties and economic aid from Russia. The move triggered weeks of pro-Western anti-government demonstrations in Kyiv and elsewhere in Ukraine, and forced the pro-Russian Yanukovych to flee the capital in late February.
The President will roll out his 2015 budget plan on TuesdayPresident Barack Obama’s proposed 2015 budget would raise taxes on many wealthy individuals while providing an estimated 13.5 million Americans a tax break, the White House announced Monday, in the latest manifestation of Democrats’ midterm-election agenda. Obama’s budget, to be rolled out on Tuesday, would expand the earned income tax credit for low-income Americans without children, while expanding the child- and dependent-care tax credit to help families afford child care, the White House announced. Additionally it would include automatic enrollment in IRAs for employees to help save for retirement and several provisions to help students and families pay for college tuition. The White House is framing the proposals as a continuation of Obama’s populist State of the Union message, “Opportunity for all,” which he encouraged Democrats to embrace at last week’s meeting of the Democratic National Committee. The $60 billion in lost tax revenue would be paid for by stripping two tax breaks employed by the nation’s wealthiest, which the White House said “do not promote work or growth.” It would eliminate a provision used by hedge funds and private-equity firms to treat income from managed investments, known as carried interest, as capital gains, as opposed to ordinary income, effectively raising the tax rate on billions of dollars in payouts to firm managers. It would also remove the so-called Newt Gingrich or John Edwards loophole, which allows individuals to treat some income as corporate profits to avoid payroll taxes. Obama has tried to raise the carried-interest tax rate to the level of ordinary income for years, but has been stymied by stiff opposition in Congress that has not subsided. The election-year budget is designed to showcase the party’s focus on the middle class, while portraying GOP opponents as defenders of the wealthy. “This [carried interest] tax rate is significantly below the income and payroll taxes that a manager would owe on comparable salary income and is less than the effective federal income and payroll tax rate for a single childless worker making $50,000,” the White House said in an economic report on the proposed changes. Read more: Obama 2015 Budget Proposal: Tax Hikes for Rich, Cuts for Middle Class | TIME.com http://swampland.time.com/2014/03/03/barack-obama-2015-budget-proposal/#ixzz2v0XEj100
President Obama has threatened a full U.S. troop drawdown from Afghanistan by the end of this year unless Afghan President Hamid Karzai signs a security agreement with the U.S. Obama didn't say anything about "the asking price" of the controversial agreement, nor did he say much about the Afghan state the U.S would be leaving behind. He did not give even any inkling of the possibility that Afghanistan could plunge into the quagmire of a failed state to which the U.S. will not be indifferent -- a scenario based on the uncertainties likely to be left by unresolved issues.
American and NATO forces are leaving behind a country where only 10 percent of its GDP of $1 billion comes from legitimate economic activity; of the remainder, 30 percent comes from underground narcotic trade and 60 percent from foreign aid. As a country with one of the highest military to civilian ratios, Afghanistan has more than 350,000 security force, both army and police, with $4 billion annual operation cost, but with few resources to support it. These armed forces are comprised predominantly of ethnic minorities from the north of the country that are launched against a resistance that comes largely from the country's Pashtun ethnic majority in the south.
Many of the warlords who Balkanized the country in the 1990s act as high-ranking officials and parliamentarians, ranks they have acquired through the flagrant abuse of ethnic loyalties and tribal quotas. They have divvied up public offices to their former militia and have carved out ethnic-exclusive zones of influence in the government bureaucracy. These ethnic fiefdoms within the present bureaucracy are a major stumbling block to reform and the source of unbridled government corruption.
Furthermore, some of these warlords-turned-demagogues have been implicated in crimes against humanity, but remain immune to prosecution with the tacit approval of the United States. Most of them are also on the not-so-secret CIA payroll and have acquired large estates in Afghanistan and abroad -- primarily in Dubai and Istanbul. By manipulating linguistic fault lines in the ethnic mosaic of Afghanistan the U.S. has been instrumental in creating a 'bribed and indebted' super rich class of collaborators in one of the poorest countries in the world.
The loss of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars in America's longest military adventure has created what is perhaps the world's most corrupt state. At the same time, Afghanistan is a country with an estimated $1 trillion mineral wealth "without proper structures and management." The country's fragile political structure, presently held together by a scaffolding of American military and economic assistance, could collapse into a failed state overnight, manifesting the worse aspects of the civil strife seen in Rwanda, Congo, and Syria.
In the annals of U.S. foreign policy, Afghanistan stands as a typical case where a flawed military strategy has sidelined viable political solutions. Washington incentivized war through perks and privileges, and four-star promotions and undermined peace efforts. The U.S. has had a war strategy, but no political strategy or a clear exit strategy.
The presence of foreign troops is never conducive to peace and sophisticated weapon systems don't stop wars, they only raise the prize in blood the less equipped opponent is willing to pay, e.g. resorting to suicide bombing in desperation. The U.S.-Afghanistan Bilateral Security Agreement may delay the occurrence of a failed state in Afghanistan, but without a peace initiative it will not prevent it. Averting that dreaded scenario requires a more comprehensive approach that reflects a peace initiative borne by regional reality rather than a shortsighted military strategy.
Now that Afghanistan's second generation is being raised in the nearly four decades of war, the welfare of its citizens should be achieved through minimizing foreign interference and maximizing political participation through reconciliation. Likewise, the success of the American assistance to Afghanistan should be measured through a dividend of peace and security that could potentially provide opportunities for American investment and offset some of the cost, instead of linking it to military bases that will undoubtedly entail onerous maintenance cost.
Thus, a peace initiative is not just an ideal, but a practical solution beneficial to both Afghans and Americans. A comprehensive peace plan can end the current impasse, achieve long-term regional security, and can prevent Afghanistan from becoming a failed state again. Early in the Obama administration there was a debate about the best exit strategy. The generals were calling for a surge to eliminate the resistance once and for all. The diplomats like Richard Holbrooke, a career diplomat who was instrumental in resolving the former Yugoslavia crisis, considered negotiation for power sharing with the opposition critical and essential to the Afghan crisis. That modicum of peace effort was abandoned with the untimely death of Richard Holbrooke and along with it all the expectations of a peace initiative from a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate President Obama vanished. Now that the surge has failed to win "the right war," it is time to revive the peace initiative.
Every military conflict is eventually resolved through peace. No peace initiative will succeed without a bold stand by the United States to convince the Afghan resistance that while they may win through a costly war at some future point in time, they can certainly win without bloodshed now if they join the peace process. Similarly, the hedging strategies of neighboring Pakistan and Iran can be brought in line with an outright U.S. support for an ethnically balanced representative government in Afghanistan. This two-tier peace plan calls for a reconciliation stratagem modeled on the South African experience and the replication of Swiss Neutrality principle in the regional context:
. The U.S. economic assistance should not be made contingent upon the establishment of military bases; instead it should be linked to a peace and reconciliation process in which the re-integration of the resistance forces is coordinated to coincide with the complete withdrawal of the American residual forces.
A regional multilateral treaty must be signed with all of Afghanistan's neighboring states under the auspices of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council that guarantees the neutrality of Afghanistan and the inviolability of its borders to any military intrusion or political interference.
Taliban involved in Landi Kotal, Islamabad attacks, Altaf Hussain said.Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain on Tuesday demanded "a full and thorough" investigation into the tragic incidents in Islamabad District Court and Landi Kotal to find out if these attacks were carried out by the Teheeke-e-Taliban Pakistan. “Although an unknown group Ahrah-ul-Hind has claimed the responsibilities of the attacks. However, majority of the Pakistanis believe this is a fake organization and these attacks were carried out by Taliban. Taliban does not want to take the blame for the attacks,” Altaf Hussain said in a statement. Two incidents of terrorism occurred on Monday. The first incident occurred in Landi Kotal tehsil where terrorists attacked an FC vehicle, which resulted in the deaths of two personnel and injured scores of them. The second brutal, horrific and nerve-wrecking incident occurred in Islamabad where terrorists entered the district court of Islamabad and attacked it with guns and grenades. In this attack 11 people were killed and more than 25 injured. The dead included a senior judge, Rafaqat Ahmed Awan, and several lawyers. One of the martyrs was a young lawyer Fizza Malik. The 23-year-old lawyer had recently returned Pakistan with a law degree from the UK and had started the practice two days. Altaf Hussain said he wanted to share some important facts with the writers, journalists and intellectuals. He added that these facts would enable them to analyze new developments and events which occurred after the announcement of ceasefire of Taliban and offer honest and unbiased analysis. “It is strange that no one knew about the organization when the negotiation with the Taliban started. The question is: Why has this organization been brought forward at time when the negotiation has started? Their statement is shocking. They have said they would not respect the agreement between the government and Taliban,” the MQM chief said. He further stated that “the situation is very grave. I demand that prime minister, federal interior minister order and investigation into the attack. They should not believe on the statement of the unknown organization. This statement has been issued to mislead people and the government.” He said Taliban can betray us and It would put security and survival at risk.
A Pakistani official says gunmen have opened fire on a NATO supply convoy in the country's northwest, killing two truck drivers and wounding another. Local administrator Mohammed Asif says the attack took place in the tribal Jamrud region on Tuesday when the trucks were heading to neighboring Afghanistan to take supplies to NATO forces. Jamrud is located 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of the city of Peshawar. The attack comes less than a week after the ruling political party in the northwest ended a three-month blockade of a NATO supply route to Afghanistan over contentious U.S. drone strikes in the country. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party blocked the route from the northwestern city of Peshawar, one of two overland routes used by NATO for getting supplies into and out of Afghanistan. Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/03/04/3972665/gunmen-kill-2-in-attack-on-nato.html#storylink=cpy
Violence continues in Pakistan despite the Taliban's announcement of a month-long truce last week. Meanwhile, the demand for an all-out military offensive against the militants is growing in the Islamic country.
At least 11 people, including a session court judge, were killed in bomb attacks in the country's capital Islamabad on March 3 (main picture). It was the first such incident after the Pakistani Taliban - also known as the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) - announced a month-long ceasefire on Saturday, March 1, to facilitate peace talks with the Pakistani government. The negotiations between Islamabad and the Islamist insurgents formally began last month. But they came to an abrupt halt after the Taliban continued to attack civilians and security forces. The government responded by striking the militants' hideouts in the restive North Waziristan region, which borders Afghanistan, killing scores of insurgents.
On March 1, TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid told the media that he had called on "all comrades to respect the decision and refrain from any activity during the ceasefire period." Pakistani authorities hailed Shahid's statement and said they would reciprocate the gesture by immediately stopping the "surgical strikes" against the extremists, thus raising hopes that the seven-year-long violent Islamist insurgency in Pakistan would finally come to an end. Rahimullah Yusufzai, a member of the government's negotiation team, told AFP that the truce inceased the possibility of resuming peace talks. "A ceasefire was the demand of the government ... But it should be effective, and there should be no attacks."Can the Taliban be trusted? But Monday's attack on an Islamabad court has once again raised doubts about the outlawed TTP's intentions. Many in Pakistan believe the Taliban are not serious about peace and that the truce announcement is only a tactic to avoid the military strikes and win more time to regroup after suffering heavy losses in the Pakistani Air Force's recent bombings in their northwestern strongholds.
Nasir Tufail, a journalist working for a private TV channel in Karachi, says he has no faith in Shahid or the TTP. "The militants will not cease the attacks. They are deceiving everyone. The only way to deal with them is through power," Tufail told DW. The journalist criticized Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government for lacking a "proper policy" to tackle the issue of terrorism in the country. The government's approach towards the Taliban is reactionary, he said, as Islamabad has limited itself to simply responding to the insurgents' attacks. The journalist believes the ceasefire won't last for long and that Islamabad will eventually have to go after the insurgents. "The Pakistani people gave Sharif a mandate for peace and not for truce with the Taliban in the May 2013 election. There won't be any peace if the PM keeps giving concessions to the Islamists," Tufail said, adding that he had no doubt that most Pakistanis would support an all-out military offensive against the Islamists.
Saman Jafri, one of the rally organizers and a member of parliament, says that Pakistan's progressive parties must unite against the religious fanatics if they want their country to survive. "We are pro-Pakistan and anti-Taliban, and we stand behind the security forces who are fighting the militants and sacrificing their lives. It is now or never, and the people have said 'no' to extremism," Jafri told DW. "The Taliban threat should be taken seriously," Abdul Hai, a veteran human rights activist in Karachi, told DW. "We see that the Taliban influence is growing, and it means that a huge disaster is in the making." This view is shared by Nizamuddin Nizamani, a political analyst and researcher, who argues that the government shouldn't negotiate with "terrorists."
http://balochwarna.com/At least nineteen Bugti tribesmen were killed and more than 40 wounded during a Pakistani military offensive in Dera Bugti area of Balochistan on Saturday. According to details a large number of fresh military troops backed by gunship helicopters launched a military operation many civilian populated areas of Sui, Dera Bugti. Pakistani Army indiscriminately bombarded villages in Darengen area where at least eleven people including three women and four children have been killed and more than 40 are injured. The deceased victims of Darengen area bombardment have been identified as Gulbaig s/o Naseban Bugti, Tari s/o Humbo Bugti, Wahido s/o Mohammad Bugti, Bashirullah Bugti, Samul Bib, Jannat Bibi and Hanifa Bugti along with her four children. Meanwhile sources reported bodies of at least eight previously abducted Baloch were also found in the same area. The BRP media cell alleged in their Facebook page that the victims’ bodies were thrown down from helicopters during operation in Darengen area of Sui. Two of the victims have been identified as Sate s/o Karam Ali Bugti and Wadhu s/o Pirka Bugti. The rest of the sex bodies could not be identified as they were decomposed beyond recognition. The BRP sources further said that Sate s/o Karam Ali Bugti and Wadhu s/o Pirka Bugti were abducted by Pakistani security forces along with many others from Pirkoh area during an operation on 13th Feb 2014. The affected areas were under the tight military siege until filling of this report. Forces sealed the exit and entry routes to the areas and innocent civilians are denied of any sort medical aid. The BRP media cell on Facebook wrote: “Provisional minister and head of military death squad, Safraz Bugti, is personally monitoring the deadly operation.” Two days prior to military operation in Dera Bugti, Pakistan forces have abducted more than 30 Marri Baloch from different areas of Kohistan Marri region of Balochistan. The raids were carried out in the darkness of night in Kahan town and adjoining villages. Separately, several people were abducted from Marri Bohri, Nahad kot and other nearby areas.
اسلام آباد ڈسٹرکٹ کچہری میں لال مسجد بریگیڈ نے جج رفاقت اعوان کو کیوں نشانہ بنایا؟ اسلام آباد- ڈسٹرکٹ کچہری میں تین مارچ کو صبح آٹھ بجے کلاشنکوفوں ،دستی بموں سے لیس پانچ سے تکفیری دیوبندی دھشت گردوں نے حملہ کردیا اور خود کش بم دھماکوں کے زریعے دو دھشت گردوں نے خود کو اڑایا جبکہ باقی حملوں آوروں کی فائرنگ سے ایک نوجوان خاتون وکیل سمیت تیرہ افراد جاں بحق ہوگئے،
In the restive tribal areas of Pakistan terrorism stems as much from religious extremism as from the lairs of crime mafias. But there is enough of evidentiary material to suggest that both sides live and flourish under the overarching umbrella of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. Then there are sub-groups the TTP leadership has directed "to respect and fully abide by the cease-fire declaration and restrain themselves from all kinds of jihadi activities". Within hours of TTP announcement the Bara-based Mulla Tamance group waylaid the security squad of anti-polio team killing 11 including a civilian and injuring many - only to be fiercely retaliated by army helicopters which killed five terrorists. Next day, the district courts located in the heart of Islamabad came under a suicidal attack killing a judge and 10 others in addition to some three dozen injured in the assault. And, Hafiz Gul Bahader, who enjoys immense clout in North Waziristan, that has announced his Taliban are not part of the understanding between the TTP and the government. Who then the government is talking to and who is to secure the cease-fire promised by the Taliban leadership. Apparently, there are quite a few unknowns, or undisclosed, links and pieces in the process with potential to derail the bilateral cease-fire understanding. That the government 'reserves the option and the armed forces reserve their right to react and take counteraction against the troublemakers, the interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali may be quite categorical in expressing the government resolve but how would he know that the TTP or any of its outfits is not involved in a particular terrorist act. Terrorist networks exist throughout the country, some alive and kicking and others hibernating as sleeper cells. And some have honed specialisation to undertake specific errands if and when asked for. No doubt then some people tend to interpret the Nawaz Sharif government's peculiar adjustments to keep alive peace talks with Taliban as a tactic to put off the much-awaited military operation in North Waziristan. There is just no room for this leniency unless one buys the theory that the Taliban are a natural reserved force of the rightists in national politics.
Ideally, the momentum built in the wake of surgical strikes should have continued till the job of total eradication of terrorists' hideouts wherever they are in Pakistan. The month-long relief from military action granted to the TTP has the inbuilt risk of giving terrorists sufficient time to regroup and revive their lethality. Since that is no more the case and government is prepared to sit with them at the negotiating table there are certain dos and don'ts that official interlocutors must observe. One, all of the talk has to be within the parameters of the constitution. The TTP side has to swear unqualified allegiance to the constitution irrespective of its reservations - the government simply doesn't have the mandate to concede anything which militates against the letter and spirit of the constitution. Two, before the regular talks begin the TTP must declare on whose behalf it would be talking to the government. In case, which is quite likely, as it happened in the case of suicide attack on the district court in Islamabad yesterday, it disowns representation of a certain group or groups it should name them and make no issue if security forces take retaliatory action against them. Though the TTP promptly denied any link with the Islamabad courts attack but the incident has all the hallmarks of suicide-bombings the entity has specialised long ago. Three, not only the talks have to be held at the place of the government's choosing but also not open-ended. Where in Pakistan is the 'demilitarised safe zone' the Taliban want as the venue for talks - reminiscent of The 38th Parallel dividing the two Koreas. So, even when 'talking to Taliban' - a strong sentiment with the Nawaz Sharif government - Islamabad must give a serious thought to the possible end product which may not be as pleasing as being forecast by some interested quarters. Not only has the TTP made no commitment as to its principal position on constitutional rule and democratic process, it is also not in a position to commit anything on behalf of other terrorist entities. Then, the proposed scheme of talks is localised to tribal areas while the menace of terrorism is almost evenly spread to most of the country. By granting a comparable status to the committed killers as stakeholders and worthy partners to the cause of peace in Pakistan the government has put itself to a severe test of competence in the eyes of people. Is the government prepared to conduct peace parleys with other violent entities that number in scores? Let's pause and think deeply, before we leap.
The combined opposition in the upper and lower houses of parliament on Monday denounced the terrorist attack on Islamabad district courts and called for the resignation of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan for failing to secure the federal capital in spite of his repeated claims. Senate business was suspended and the session was adjourned in solidarity with the victims of the terrorist attack, as the opposition senators walked out in protest over the security failure. During the 102nd Senate session, chaired by Chairman Nayyar Hussain Bukhari, the members condemned the terrorist incident in Islamabad district courts that left as many as 11, including an additional sessions judge, dead and 28 others injured. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Senator Aitzaz Ahsan said that Interior Minister Nisar should step down from his office for not being able to ensure security in the federal capital. “The interior minister had claimed that 26 security agencies were working round-the-clock to ensure Islamabad’s security. He should accept responsibility for the security lapse and resign from his office immediately,” he said. Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl Senator Hamadullah criticised the national security policy and declared it a bundle of lies. He added that the policy was targeting the seminaries, which was unjustified, as Osama bin Laden was not recovered from any seminary and Dr Shakeel Afridi was not a seminary graduate. He accused the government of being involved in terrorism as well as patronising the terrorist elements across the country. “Chaudhry Nisar is the wrong person for the job and he should be sacked immediately,” he said. “Where were the 26 intelligence agencies when terrorists were spraying bullets indiscriminately for 45-50 minutes and judges and lawyers were running across streets to save their lives,” said Hamdullah. Pakistan Muslim League (PML) Senator Mushahid Hussain said that the day was the darkest in the history of federal capital and the tall claims by Interior Minister Nisar have been badly trashed. “Now dialogue should be launched with this new group as well because Taliban have denied involvement in the incident,” he mocked the government. Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Senator Tahir Mashhadi criticised the security personnel for failing to challenge the terrorists effectively. He demanded the government give a go ahead to the armed forces to launch a decisive operation against terrorists. PPP Senator Kazim Khan said that if the Taliban had not taken responsibility for the attack, they could deny any truce in the future. Senator Sardar Ali pointed out that two hours after the incident, no government officials appeared to take people on board. Senator Sehar Kamran questioned, “Where is the security across the country?” On the occasion, Senator Haji Adeel interrupted and hit hard the government’s irresponsible approach pointing out that no government official or the interior minister were present in the House. He staged protest walkout from the House that was joined by other opposition parties, including PML, PPP and MQM. The Senate chairman expressed his solidarity with the victims and suspended the business of the House on private members day and adjourned the session.