Thursday, March 6, 2014
The State Department Thursday imposed a visa ban on Russian and Ukrainian officials and individuals responsible for or complicit in threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. President Obama also Thursday signed an executive order laying the groundwork to impose sanctions against individuals and entities responsible for the crisis. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement the move was a response to "Russia's ongoing violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity -- actions that constitute a threat to peace and security and a breach of international law." While no people or entities have been identified yet, the executive order authorizes sanctions against those responsible for activities undermining democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine; threatening the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine; contributing to the misappropriation of state assets of Ukraine; or purporting to assert governmental authority over any part of Ukraine without authorization from the Ukrainian government in Kiev. The sanctions would include freezing assets, blocking property under U.S. jurisdiction and preventing U.S. businesses would be prohibited from doing business with any individual or entity listed.
Corruption in Turkey has become so endemic that it can be qualified as a “violation of human rights,” according to a report by the US State Department released on February 27. It may be interesting for many to observe that there is no improvement in Turkey mentioned in the 2013 Human Rights Report from the US Department of State. On the contrary, from freedom of the press to the freedom of non-violent assembly, from arbitrary arrests and long detention periods to police brutality, there are areas where the rights situation in Turkey has deteriorated over the last year, according to the critical report, released February 27. As one can imagine, on top of the usual violations in the country’s predominantly Kurdish regions, this year, the Gezi protests and the government’s use of its police force to suppress them received special emphasis. In addition to that, in this year’s report there is a new chapter. A new section on “human rights violations” in Turkey has been added. According to the US Department of State, corruption in the country has led to what the report calls a “violation of human rights.” The title of the report's Section 4 is “Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government.” The section begins with the sentence, “While the law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, the government did not implement the law effectively, and some officials engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.”
A referendum on the status of Crimea will be held March 16, the region’s deputy prime minister announced. Crimeans will be asked to decide if the autonomous republic stays part of Ukraine or joins Russia. "The referendum will take place March 16," said the autonomous region’s First Deputy-Premier Rustam Temirgaliev, according to ITAR-TASS. The new date is two weeks earlier than the one announced last week. There will be two questions on the ballots. “The first one: Are you in favor of Crimea becoming a constituent territory of the Russian Federation. The second one: Are you in favor of restoring Crimea’s 1992 constitution,” Temirgaliev said. According to the 1992 constitution, the autonomous republic is part of Ukraine but has relations with Kiev, defined on the basis of mutual agreements. Sevastopol residents will take part in the referendum, despite the city enjoying a special status and not officially being a part of Crimea, according to Sergey Shuvainikov, a Crimean MP. “We will give Sevastopol an opportunity to have its say,” he said, as cited by RIA Novosti. Meanwhile the Crimean MPs have unanimously voted for the region to become a part of Russia. "To become part of the Russian Federation as its constituent territory,” says the text of the Crimean parliament’s statement, obtained by RIA Novosti.
When the decision was announced to the people outside the parliament building, they welcomed the news with cheers and screams of “Russia!” There are currently several thousand people in front of the parliament building, according to ITAR-TASS. The parliament has also made a decision to ask the Russian leadership to “launch the procedure of Crimea becoming part of Russia.” The speaker of the Crimean parliament, Vladimir Konstantinov, explained that the parliament’s decision on the region joining Russia still has to be approved at a referendum. Russia’s State Duma (parliament) could possibly debate the bill on Crimea joining Russia next week, said leader of the ‘Fair Russia’ party, Sergey Mironov. “I think that taking into consideration the date of the referendum – March 16 – we have time to consider the bill as part of normal business. The Bill is going to be debated next week,” Mironov said as cited by RIA Novosti.
More than half the Crimean population are Russian and use only this language for their communication. Crimean authorities denounced the self-proclaimed government in Kiev and declared that all Ukrainian law enforcement and military deployed in the peninsula must take orders from them. The majority of troops in Crimea switched sides in favor of the local authorities.
indiatimes.comJust a few weeks ago, 11-month-old Shaista was pulling herself up, giggling as she took her first wobbly steps with the helping hand of her teenage mother. Then the polio virus struck and Shaista was no longer able to stand, her legs buckling beneath her weight. Today, her mother cries a lot and wonders what will become of her daughter in Pakistan's male-dominated society, where a woman's value is often measured by the quality of her husband. "It is not a hardship just for the child, but for the whole family," said the child's 18-year-old mother, Samia Gul. "It is very difficult for a poor family like us. She will be dependent on us for the rest of her life." Shaista is one of five new polio cases to surface in Pakistan in just the first month of this year. Last year, Pakistan recorded 92 new cases, beating Nigeria and Afghanistan — the only other polio-endemic countries — by almost 2 to 1, the World Health Organization said. Pakistan's beleaguered battle to eradicate polio is threatening a global, multi-billion-dollar campaign to wipe out the disease worldwide. Because of Pakistan, the virus is spreading to countries that were previously polio-free, UN officials say. "The largest polio virus reservoir of the world," is in Peshawar, in northwestern Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan, according to WHO. Shaista and her parents share a two-room mud house with a couple of goats, a half-dozen squawking chickens and 10 other relatives in Pakistan's western Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, or KPK, province, where Islamic militants often gun down health workers distributing vaccines and send suicide bombers to blow up police vehicles that protect them. The latest casualty was a police constable killed on Tuesday protecting a team of vaccination workers in northwest Pakistan. During a two-day vaccination campaign in Peshawar earlier this month, 5,000 police were deployed to protect health workers, most of whom earn barely $2 a day. Fresh cases of polio — traced through genetic sequencing to the Pakistani strain of the disease — are showing up in countries that were previously polio-free, including Syria and Egypt, as well as in the Gaza Strip, said Ban Khalid Al-Dhayi, the spokeswoman for Unicef in Pakistan. Unicef is tasked with persuading a reluctant tribal population that lives along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan — perhaps one of the most dangerous places on the planet — to vaccinate their children. "A lot of countries that spent so much money and resources eradicating polio are worried," Al-Dhayi said in an interview. Pakistan's neighbours are particularly vulnerable. The same genetic sequencing found that 12 of the last 13 new polio cases in Afghanistan originated in Pakistan. Just last week, a 3-year-old was diagnosed with polio in the Afghan capital of Kabul, the first case since 2001. Neighbour India, with a population of 1.2 billion, has been polio-free for three years. Fearful that Pakistan could wipe out that achievement, India is demanding that Pakistani visitors provide proof of vaccination. It wasn't so long ago — 1988 — that more than 350,000 people, most of them children under 5, were afflicted by polio in 125 countries where the disease was endemic. Today the disease is endemic in only three. Last year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a multi-billion-dollar charity that funds polio vaccinations, vowed to wipe out the crippling disease by 2018. Underlining the danger that Pakistan poses to achieving that goal, Al-Dhayi said there are 350,000 Pakistani children in just one small area of the country who have not been vaccinated — and it takes only one child left unvaccinated to reverse global gains against the disease. The area — North and South Waziristan — is too dangerous for health workers to venture. Islamic militants, many with ties to al-Qaida, banned polio vaccinations there in 2012 to press their demand that the United States end its use of drones to target their hideouts. Militants have also created suspicion among ultraconservative parents in Pakistan's deeply religious northwest, saying the polio vaccine will make their children impotent. The vaccine, they claim, is a ploy by the West to limit the world's Muslim population. But health workers and militants alike agree the biggest setback was the highly publicized use of a Pakistani doctor and a vaccination ruse to ferret out al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden in May 2011. Dr Shakil Afridi is in jail in Pakistan for his role in the CIA operation that uncovered bin Laden's hideout in the northwestern city of Abbottabad, 60 miles (100 kilometres) from the capital, Islamabad. While Afridi never got DNA samples from the bin Laden family, his involvement in the covert operation that led to bin Laden's death caused residents to look with suspicion on many vaccination programs. Devastating for the polio campaign were the images of Afridi standing beside a banner promoting polio vaccinations as television commentators told of his collusion with the CIA. "We have deep sensitivity about the polio vaccination after the martyrdom of the great mujahed and leader of Muslims, Sheikh Osama bin Laden," Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told The Associated Press. "We still have strong suspicions that the vaccination campaign could be used again and again to spy on Muslims and the mujahedeen." The ruse also turned the polio campaign violent. The first attack against a health worker occurred in June 2012, said Dr Imtiaz Ali Shah, the KPK provincial government polio campaign coordinator. Since then, 40 people participating in vaccination campaigns have been killed in Pakistan and another 39 injured, according to Unicef figures. "Before 2011, we never saw health workers being attacked," he said. "Now there are parts of Pakistan that are so volatile that vaccinators can't go there." Mohammad Wasil's 19-year-old son, Hilal, was killed by militants as he vaccinated children in rural northwest Pakistan. Sitting on a bed made of rope in his village, where women are rarely seen without the all-enveloping burqa, Wasil said his son volunteered because he loved children and wanted to earn money for his education. Still, there have been small gains. In 2012, new polio cases in northwest Pakistan were found in 13 districts; a year later, that was reduced to six districts. But the virus is stubborn, and in the provincial capital of Peshawar, it keeps reappearing, forcing tens of thousands of children to be revaccinated because they may not have built up enough immunity. "That makes everyone suspicious," said Al-Dhayi, the Unicef spokeswoman. "They wonder whether there was something wrong with the vaccine or with the new vaccination being administered." It has been impossible to eradicate the polio virus from Peshawar, says Shah, because people from the heavily infected tribal regions that are off limits for health workers arrive daily in the city, bringing with them a fresh outbreak. The tribal regions "are producing so many cases and the (tribal people) travel regularly", he said. Al-Dhayi said some of the new polio cases showing up elsewhere in Pakistan have also been tracked to Peshawar and other areas of northwest KPK province. In the meantime, Unicef is trying to get Pakistan's senior Islamic clergy to support the polio campaign, with some success, according to Al-Dhayi. Among those recruited is the so-called father of Afghanistan's Taliban movement, Maulana Sami-ul-Haq. "The effort is really intensive and proving positive," she said, but the clock is ticking. "Pakistan is the worst of the three (polio-endemic countries) in terms of the number of cases and the complexity."
Being subject to discrimination, violence, sexual abuses, confinement, economic dependence, the current day world is still long way back from where it should be or have been in terms of women’s emancipation. To voice their challenges, the UN, and its member states observe women’s international day. When other nations are trying to liberate women of the centuries-old odd and women-unfriendly traditions and cultural clutches, women in Afghanistan still lives in the armpit of these highly suppressive and inhuman traditions and clutches. We have a ministry with name of Women’s Affairs, but its in name only, as the ministry can hardly boast of any clat, but what it can do is arrange seminars on awareness, where usually participants are from well-off families, who never have experienced how to be a poor woman caught in the whirl of challenges in a country where getting justice is still a distant cry. Women’s rights issue, their protection, and the struggle to give them the world they deserve is not a no-brainer rather it’s really too much challenging job, that need long strategies and toughest actions by the government, international community, and citizens of the country. Women’s representation in politics and the parliament is worth appreciation what is missing is dedication and the hold of a diehard mindset which has been mould by the US, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan that is jihadism. They heavily invested in creating and promoting this mindset as each of the player saw good opportunities in it. The one wanted to contain the iron curtain of then USSR. The second one wanted to counter the influence of Shia Iran, which is why Wahabite Islam was heavily supported. And the third one saw a good opportunity to destabilize Afghanistan and suppress the voice of Pashtun nationalism and irredentism. All of the three players succeeded, but at the cost of irreparable damages, millions of people killed, thousands others left with permanent disabilities, infrastructure ruined, education destroyed, and on top of that bred a mindset which is not only suppressing women, hurling acids at their faces, killing innocent civilians, but has become a threat to peace of the world. The US has come to reap the whirlwind, where as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are seen nowhere here to reap their whirlwinds rather contrarily Pakistan still clings to a deleterious strategy and its still investing in the same mindset and scheme. Until this mindset prevails, Afghan women will remain suffering. It doesn’t mean this paper holds religion responsible for the plight of Afghan women, but it condemns the use of religion against women’s rights, the same religion that declared share in bequeath and inheritance some 1400-year back when Arab pagans used to bury their daughters alive. At that time it was a biggest revolution. However, now these diehard elements are hell-bent in divesting women of their fundamental rights. Share in inheritances is nowhere in practice, but yes, girls are sold like commodities, take heavy walwar (a bride’s price), they are swapped, and cases of forced prostitutions have been reported. Where is our Afghan honor? Where is our national pride? And where do we stand as a nation and where do stand other nations of the world? To liberate them, first this mindset has to be defeated which makes you feel as if women are sub-humans and moreover the current set up has to translate its promises into reality as just hollow vows are elusive and never give good results. Besides that the next government must foster a lager female representation in politics, decision making and make women independent in real sense. The nee is women’s role should be re-organized in peace negotiations, governance, defense forces, and other sectors. Should this happen and we will be in a newer world.
The attack is expected to further anger Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has earlier expressed immense outrage at the civilian deaths at the hands of the US-led security mission. Also, Afghanistan is already in a strained relationship with the US because of the differences over the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA agreement) that would retain 10000-15000 US soldiers in Afghanistan after the completion of troops withdrawal by the end of the year. However, Karzai wants the US to halt all military operations and bring the Taliban to the negotiating table as a pre-condition before he signs the agreement. The US has however threatened that if the agreement is not signed, the NATO troops will be withdrawn completely from Afghanistan and the insurgency-stricken country will not avail millions of dollars in aid.
For the first time in my life today, the number 11 felt greater than what I had ever been taught. Larger than a mere numeral, much heavier than just a statistic.
Attacks on cinemas show that the Taliban want only chaos, citizens say. Pakistani cinema-goers are frustrated with Taliban attacks on cinema houses.Cinemas are a cheap source of entertainment for low-income citizens who flock to auditorium screenings to watch their favourite heroes in action. "We often watch Pashtu movies on the weekends to seek a few moments of leisure after tiring work," Abdul Jamil, a mason in Hayatabad Township, Peshawar, and frequent cinema goer, said. "It seems the Taliban's terror has slammed the doors of this enjoyment on us." Miscreants February 2 detonated a bomb hidden in a turban that killed five cinema-goers at Picture House in Peshawar. Militants February 11 launched another attack that killed at least 12 people and wounded 24 others in a grenade attack on the Shama Cinema in Peshawar. An agenda of chaos and oppression Militants have long opposed other forms of entertainment, but Pakistanis consider such a stance an attack on local culture. Cinemas received letters demanding that they stop their "shameful trade" or the militants would take action, Daraz Khan, manager of a local cinema, told Central Asia Online. "The Taliban are attacking cinemas, places of entertainments, and mosques, places of worship," Saifullah Shah, a cinema house regular, said, adding that he does not really understand the militant group's agenda. "What they want is to create chaos and fear." Cinema houses traditionally stood firm in not giving in to Taliban threats; after the two February attacks, however, police ordered all cinema houses in the city to close. "The closure of cinemas after back-to-back bombings has disappointed us," Jamil said. Fundamentalist militants have also demanded that mobile phone shops cease uploading musical ringtones and video clips, claiming they are haram. "The Taliban are trying to snatch sources of entertainment from people as part of their onslaught against local culture," Daraz said. "Today, the Taliban are isolated because of these follies. Even their former well-wishers have become their foes." Peshawar's once-thriving film industry The city, which once had a roaring movie business, has 11 cinemas compared to 21 before the advent of militancy in about 2007. "We receive [audiences] from Afghanistan, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and other districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), but the latest series of attacks has left us high and dry," Daraz said. The Taliban have also angered artists like actor-director-producer Asif Khan, one of the pioneers of Pashtu movies. The Peshawar cinemas would screen about 12 new Pashtu films yearly in better times, he said, recalling that Sundays and Eid particularly drew throngs to the cinemas. The Taliban will fail to eliminate film because it is part of Pashtu tradition and culture, he said. "The people hold us in high esteem," he said. "I can't go to public places because the people rush to greet me out of respect. The same is true for other performers." Khan rejected militant allegations that cinemas showed obscene films. "We invite the Taliban to come and watch films," he said, adding that his films have no indecency. "The Taliban's campaign against cinemas is just an effort to frighten the people and keep them away, he said. "The Taliban also attack mosques, funeral ceremonies, markets and schools as part of their agenda to spread terror." Protecting the film industry The police warned cinemas that they need to ensure security inside their businesses, Peshawar Police Chief Ejaz Khan said. "We have held meetings with them and informed them about the severity of the situation," Khan said.
http://www.mashaalradio.com/په قبایلي سیمې کورمه کې د سړک تر غاړې ښخ بم په چاودنه کې د امنیتي ځواکونو څلور سرتېري وژل شوي او نهه ژوبل دي. پېښه نن سهار شا و خوا نهه بجې په منځنۍ کورمه کې شوې ده. یوه امنیتي چارواکي د نوم نه ښودو په شرط مشال راډیو ته وویل، د امنیتي سرتېرو قافله له ټله کورمې ته روانه وه چې په سپېرکټ سیمه کې د چاودنې ښکار شوه. هلته په پېښور کې د پولیسو پر څوکیو د وسله والو په ډزو کې یو پولیس وژل شوی دی. دا برید نن سهار د پېښور په وزیرباغ کې د توحید اباد پر څوکۍ شوی دی. بل پلو په مومندو کې د سړک غاړې ښخ بم په چاودنه کې یو کس وژل شوی او بل ژوبل دی. پېښه په پړانګ غار تحصیل شوې ده. د بریدونو پړه چا نه ده منلې. دا په داسې حال کې ده چې له طالبانو سره د اوربند تر اعلان وروسته بریدونه هم دوام لريږ له پاکستانیو طالبانو سره د خبرو لپاره جوړه کمېټي وايي، د اوربند تر اعلان وروسته هم وسله وال بریدونه د جوړ جاړي بهیر ته تاوان رسولای شي. د پاکستان دولتي راډیو له وینا سره سم، تېره ورځ د حکومتي کمېټۍ غړو په اسلام اباد کې غونډه وکړه. په غونډه کې په اسلام اباد او قبایلي سیمې خیبر کې د شویو حملو په اړه خبرې وشوې. د کمېټۍ غړو له پاکستاني وزیراعظم نواز شریف سره هم ولیدل.
By all indications the TTP took a serious battering in the recent air strikes against its NW sanctuaries but, like any shrewd guerilla, it was not about to stay put in the face of state might and get decimatedJust as the Pakistani state was finally inching towards a limited military action against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in North Waziristan (NW) came yet another political tour de force by the Taliban. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government seems ecstatic about the ceasefire crumbs thrown its way by the TTP over this past weekend. The federal interior minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan — the mascot of the PML-N’s disastrous handling of terrorism — not just welcomed the TTP move but announced that the Pakistani forces would reciprocate and hold their fire, including the air assault. Apparently, the jihadists of the Abdullah Azzam Brigade did not receive the TTP’s ceasefire memo. The Azzam Brigade slaughtered at least 13 people, including a child, in the Jamrud district of Khyber Agency, when they bombed a polio vaccination team the very day the TTP announced the ostensible truce. Subsequently, the TTP’s splinter group, Ahrar-ul-Hind, rained death in Islamabad. Mr Nisar Ali Khan has not, however, let the Jamrud and Islamabad tragedies dampen his enthusiasm one bit. His ministry issued a statement that “following the Taliban’s positive announcement on Saturday, the government has decided to suspend air strikes.” He even wants the TTP to help the government apprehend the culprits! While the TTP and the government both have pretended that the terrorists’ ceasefire announcement was unconditional and altruistic, there are indications that the state halting the air strikes was one of the preconditions set by the TTP before it would announce even a temporary respite. According to certain media reports, a government official had been in direct contact with the TTP leading up to their declaration. If correct, this liaison dovetails with the suggestion by a member of the government’s negotiating team, Major (retired) Amir Shah, that the proximity committees be disbanded and the state and the TTP should hold direct talks. Whether the next round of talks is direct or indirect, the PML-N government appears set to walk into the TTP’s trap yet again. When public opinion was shifting towards a decisive action against the TTP, especially after it slaughtered the 23 FC soldiers — a war crime by any standard — the terrorists have successfully baited the PML-N government. The PML-N has now been politically checkmated, twice in two months, by an ostensibly ragtag terrorist gang. The TTP surprised the government first by pouncing on the negotiations opportunity afforded to them by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his January 29 National Assembly speech. If the government’s objective was to divide the terrorists into the reconcilable and irreconcilable ones via the talks’ offer, it has failed miserably. The TTP, on the other hand, has used the negotiations ploy repeatedly to divide the Pakistani public and political opinion over any military action against it. The ceasefire gimmick is a slick propaganda manoeuvre by the TTP that helps build its image as a reasonable entity, with those sitting on the fence vis-à-vis a military offensive. It also helps its patrons, like Maulana Samiul Haq, and its political cheerleader Mr Imran Khan, who were on the ropes after the TTP continued its killing spree, spring back into action. Both Mr Imran Khan, who had very reluctantly indicated that he might back a limited military action, and Maulana Samiul Haq are buoyed and set to sell their poisonous pro-TTP potion again. By all indications the TTP took a serious battering in the recent air strikes against its NW sanctuaries but, like any shrewd guerilla, it was not about to stay put in the face of state might and get decimated. With the changing political narrative coupled with the military action in NW, things were becoming untenable for the TTP. Melting away while using every ruse to gain a breather from the state’s onslaught is what it needed to do. It had to take a step back to be able to eventually spring forward again. The TTP’s ceasefire manoeuvre appears to have gained it that reprieve. Reviving the moribund negotiations will give the TTP a further lease on life. All the terrorists need now is for the government to not any set terms for the talks. While the contours of the new détente are not clear yet, the TTP, through its political allies, will seek maximum mileage out of any renewed talks. The government’s eagerness to call off the air strikes smacks of desperation and weakness. Protecting Punjab is clearly the PML-N’s priority and the TTP is well aware of this vulnerability. The chances are that the trade off between the government and the TTP would still be about largely sparing Punjab in exchange for the status quo ante bellum elsewhere, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA. After making its views known formally and informally about the TTP, combat preparedness and the sacrifices of the armed forces, the military establishment has been mum about the new developments. I have maintained in this column that the Pakistani military is not inclined towards an all-out operation in NW and is still sticking to its dangerous distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban. That policy will likely hold in the short to mid-term, the focused retaliatory and rather effective strikes against the TTP notwithstanding. In fact, the air assault without involving ground troops suggests that the security establishment does not intend to rock the whole jihadist boat as the US drawdown from Afghanistan is around the corner. There are indications that the ‘good’ Taliban of the Haqqani Network and the Hafiz Gul Bahadur group have been advised to prepare to move the bulk of their logistics across the Durand Line as soon as things are more conducive in Afghanistan. In the end analysis, this may be the only actual plan the security establishment has up its sleeve to regain the large swathes of NW that it has been leasing to its jihadist assets. It is highly unlikely that the Pakistani military establishment has the desire or the stomach to take on its ‘good’ Taliban. An exception could be if the punitive strikes against the TTP somehow suck the ‘good’ Taliban in and the limited action inadvertently snowballs into something bigger. Despite the recent sound and fury from the armed forces, their reticence suggests that the TTP’s faux ceasefire is perhaps to their liking too. Before their final face off, the army and the TTP both would rather wait and see how the chips may fall in Afghanistan. On the other hand, the TTP will continue to test the PML-N’s measly resolve despite its sneaky ceasefire.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Patron-In-Chief, Pakistan Peoples Party has directed Sindh government to launch relief operations in Thar desert immediately and form a Special Relief Committee for monitoring. He expressed his concern over the death of 32 children in Thar desert due to malnutrition and the famine situation that threatens flora and fauna besides the human lives. In a communication with his Advisor on Minority Affairs Surendar Valasai who belongs to Thar, the PPP Patron-In-Chief said he will take the issue with Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah to ensure that Sindh government’s relief and rehabilitation efforts reach out to every nook and corner of the desert. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said Pakistan Peoples Party’s elected representatives, leaders and workers will fully cooperate with the Sindh government in ameliorating the situation in Thar desert. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also directed Surendar Valasai to keep him updated about the famine situation in Thar.
Al-Qaeda continues to operate from Pakistan's tribal areas, a top Pentagon commander said while noting that the long-lasting tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir are a threat to regional stability."Long-standing tensions between Pakistan and India also threaten regional stability as both states have substantial military forces arrayed along their borders and the disputed Kashmir Line of Control," General Lloyd J Austin, Commander of the US Central Command said in his testimony before House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. "Al-Qaeda continues to operate in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and, to a lesser extent, areas of eastern Afghanistan," he said. Austin said continued pressure on al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan could result in the outfit's advancement towards less restrictive areas that would serve as safe heavens for terror activities. He said the US faced a host of challenges in Pakistan that have long hindered the efforts of the Pakistan government to fight terrorism and America's ability to provide needed assistance. "Central to Pakistan's struggles is its poor economy and burgeoning "youth bulge." Given these conditions, radicalism is on the rise in settled areas and threatens increased militant activity and insurgency in parts of Pakistan where the sway of the state traditionally has been the strongest," he said. "At the same time, terrorist attacks and ethno-sectarian violence threaten the government’s tenuous control over some areas. Further compounding these internal challenges is Pakistan's strained relationships with its neighbours," he added. The US-Pakistan military-to-military relationship has improved over the past two years, reflecting increased cooperation in areas of mutual interest, including the defeat of al-Qaeda, reconciliation in Afghanistan and support for Pakistan's fight against militant and terrorist groups. Greater security assistance, training, support and operational reimbursement through the Coalition Support Fund have enhanced Pakistan’s ability to conduct counter-insurgency operations, the Pentagon Commander said. "In November 2013, we held the second strategic-level Defence Consultative Group meeting, focused primarily on implementing a framework for promoting peace and stability based on common COIN (counterinsurgency) and CT (counterterrorism) interests," he informed the lawmakers. "The Out-Year Security Assistance Roadmap will focus on enhancing Pakistan’s precision strike, air mobility, survivability/counter improvised explosive device (IED) capability, battlefield communications, night vision, border security and maritime security/counter-narcotics capabilities," he said. "Additionally, we are nesting these initiatives within our Military Consultative Committee, which finalises our annual engagement plan and the USCENTCOM exercise program," Austin said. He said the end result will be a synchronisation of activities aimed at helping Pakistan build capabilities in support of their common objectives across all security cooperation lines of effort. "While we continue to strengthen our cooperation in areas of mutual interest, we are engaging with Pakistan where our interests diverge, most notably with respect to the Haqqani Network which enjoys safe haven on Pakistan soil," General Austin said. Read more at: http://www.firstpost.com/world/pentagon-says-al-qaeda-still-operates-from-paks-fata-region-1421479.html?utm_source=ref_article
Two court attack militant brothers arrested | AH part of web including Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed, JundallahThe law enforcement agencies (LEAs) on Wednesday claimed to have arrested two terror suspects belonging to a militant outfit involved in the deadly attack at Islamabad district courts on Monday that left at least 11 people dead. The reported arrests were made following a police encounter in the suburbs of Attock on Tuesday night, highly placed security official told this correspondent. The reported terrorists are said to have direct linkages with Ahrar-ul-Hind, which, the source said, is a split faction of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). According to a reliable source in the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing the Islamabad incident, two terror suspects involved in the deadly attack looked like Uzbek militants associated with the TTP and it is, he said, under investigation how they managed to break into the highly secured and posh sectors of Islamabad. “Both the militants are Punjabi Taliban and real brothers, and they founded Ahrar-ul-Hind,” the official shared, adding they have a direct hand in the attack that took place in Islamabad. One of the main targets of the militants, the source further shared, was the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Judge Atiq-ur-Rehman who narrowly escaped the attack due to the reason that his court room was shifted from the place following an intelligence agency’s report just a few days before. “Ahrar-ul-Hind is funded from across the border. Certain groups of Taliban had trained the militants of this outfit outside Pakistan to carry out gorilla attacks in Pakistan’s urban areas,” the officials said. Ahrar-ul-Hind was formed when TTP activists were divided after the death of Hakimullah Mehsud. A commander of banned militant outfit shared with this correspondent that the newly formed group derived its name from “Ahrar” because the Ahraris were against the formation of Pakistan and they believed that the entire subcontinent was their motherland. They plan to expand the fight to “the remaining part of subcontinent, India and Occupied Kashmir,” the commander explained the AH manifesto. Apart from the TTP, Ahrar-ul-Hind has reported ties with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Jundallah. A neighbouring country, sources believe, has been involved in training the Ahrar-ul-Hind militants, who have fought alongside the TTP against the Pakistan army and LEAs. “Practically, Ahrar-ul-Hind and TTP are the two facets of the same coin even though they have apparently parted ways. The militants of both the terrorist outfits always stick together. In most of the cases, they even sleep and eat together under one roof, besides receiving militant training together to fight against Pakistan’s Armed Forces.” However, surprising was a statement, reported by a section of the media quoting Maulana Sami-ul-Haq that the Taliban themselves did not know “who the hell” Ahrar-ul-Hind is (Ahrar-ul-Hind kis bala ka naam hai). The Maulana was also quoted as saying that the TTP was trying to track the AH and rather they had tracked them using Facebook.