Tuesday, April 8, 2014

We want out of Ukraine: Donetsk protesters dig in at government building

By Nick Paton Walsh
Masked men with metal rods and Molotov cocktails prowl the Russian flag-draped balcony, surveying the crowds below. Stacks of tires topped with ribbons of razor wire line a makeshift barricade around the main entrance. Two days after smashing their way in, hundreds of protesters have transformed this government building in the industrial city of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, into the self-declared "People's Republic of Donetsk." From the clumsily erected bulwarks to the lack of a leader or concrete plan, the scenes are similar to the pro-European rallies in Kiev's Maidan Square in recent months, with one major difference: Many of these protesters say they want to join Russia and have called for a referendum on secession from Ukraine to be held by May 11. The protesters who let us into the building are eager to show they are here entirely peacefully, but it is clear they are prepared for a fight. Doors have been locked and stairwells blocked at the top of the building to prevent the Ukrainian military from storming in from above. They've smashed the pavement outside the building to use as stones. A makeshift hospital and temporary cafe have been constructed, and locals are keeping the men and women inside stocked up on food and medical supplies.
Some of the protesters inside the building are happy to see us; others seem ready to attack us with their bats at a moment's notice. Some are aggressively anti-American. One of the older men asks us why Americans are sticking their nose into Ukrainian affairs.
One man tells us that he's from the Eastern Front, a new local group, and that help is on the way. He says there are 6,000 members of his group who stand ready to "protect the fatherland." Others are hopeful that a vote to secede from Ukraine can be held sooner than protesters announced Monday.
When the power went out Monday night, many inside believed Ukraine's special forces were coming to retake the building. But the Ukrainian military is nowhere to be seen, and the mood of the protesters is growing ever more defiant. Donetsk is the hometown of ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, whose pro-Russian government was toppled in a popular revolt in February.
Nobody knows for sure what role, if any, Russia is playing in this latest bout of unrest in Ukraine. Acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov blames "separatist groups coordinated by Russian special services" for the revolts in eastern Ukraine, which he said echoed events leading to the Russian annexation of Crimea three weeks ago. Since then, Russia has amassed thousands of troops on its border with eastern Ukraine. And Russia's Foreign Ministry said reports that protesters are facing a crackdown by Ukrainian authorities are of particular concern. "We are calling for the immediate cessation of any military preparations, which could lead to civil war," it said in a statement on its official website.
Protesters say that local complaints, not Moscow, are driving anti-government sentiments here in Donetsk. One man, who calls himself Andre, says that Ukraine's ongoing political crisis has hit his wages and that he can no longer afford to feed his family. He tells me that he has simply had enough.
Ukrainian officials say they won't storm the building for now. But the acting President says those who have seized buildings will be treated as "terrorists" and prosecuted with the full force of the law.
In the meantime, protesters say they will continue to fortify their makeshift fortress in Donetsk, and their tiny pocket of grievances and whims, despite its size, seems to now be on the front line of a massive struggle for the future of Ukraine.

Turkey's Social Media Wars

In the weeks before Turkey’s March 30 election, the government shut down some popular social networks, including Twitter, YouTube and Vimeo. The country’s highest court reversed that mandate last week, but the ruling party’s big win at the polls could mean its battle against social media will get even nastier.
Turkey’s economic surge under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has raised expectations about its progress as a liberal democracy, says Soner Cagaptay of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. But after the election two weeks ago, “There’s going to be more bad news” on that front, he predicted. “[Erdogan’s] authoritarian, and at the same time [acts like] an underdog. He cuts down the opposition before they can cut him down. He’s a strong man, a tough guy who wouldn’t let anyone go against him.”
Top Ankara officials said the ban was a matter of national security, but Turkey – once considered a trailblazer in forging a democratic Islamist rule – is increasingly seen as one of the world’s worst enemies of free speech. Publishers and television executives critical of the government are regularly threatened, and Turkey leads the world in the number of jailed journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Erdogan is stacking courthouses with loyalists as attempts to investigate government officials on corruption charges are stifled, and Turkish police harshly put down protests.
The Turkish foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, seems to have an amused twinkle in his eye even when in battle mode. He fiercely defends Erdogan, even as another party stalwart, current president Abdullah Gul, distances himself from the assault on social networks. “Turkey is a democracy and we expect everybody to respect our democratic principles and rules,” Davutoglu told me last week.
Americans shouldn’t worry about Turkey’s democracy, Davutoglu insisted. Banning social networks is “not a political issue, or an issue on human rights and freedom of expression. It’s a legal issue. Twitter and YouTube are international companies. And international companies, when they function in countries, they must respect domestic rules and rule of law of that particular country.”
In one case, he said, a Turkish court ruled in favor of a woman who sued to block Twitter after a pornographic video was posted on a fake account that carried her name. “This is not related to freedom of expression, this is respect to human dignity,” he said. “Dignity of individual citizens. But when [we] approached Twitter that they should block these sites, unfortunately they did not respond positively.”
Government opponents, however, dismiss that explanation. Ever since Istanbul’s anti-Erdogan protests began at Gezi Park last summer, tech-savvy young urbanites have used Twitter as an organizing tool. The micro-blogging site also became a focal point of government criticism, as older media outlets wilted under government pressure. Blocking Tweeter seemed like a way for the government to help the Justice and Development Party, known as AKP, win in the municipal elections. (The shutdown may have been in vain, as many Twitter users managed to find ways to bypass the ban anyway.)
“Twitter is used mostly by young and sophisticated urbanites,” said a government critic who asked to remain anonymous. “You notice that they didn’t shut Facebook down, because that’s what Erdogan’s supporters use to communicate with their families. They just went after Twitter and YouTube.”
Davutoglu told me YouTube was shut down for reasons of national security. “In all the countries, including the United States and Europe, if there is something regarding national security issues, there has always been some principles,” he said. “Everybody must respect these principles.”
The government cut off access to YouTube late last month, shortly after someone posted a secretly-recorded conversation with several top government officials, including Davutoglu, allegedly discussing the country’s strategy on Syria.
Government opponents suspect that the real target here was another secret recording, in which Erdogan is heard telling his son to get rid of large sums of money at the family’s home, fearing that corruption investigations launched late last year would reach the prime minister.
Erdogan insists that recording was fabricated, and accused members of Turkey’s “parallel government” – a name he often uses to describe supporters of Fethullah Gulen, a cleric living in exile in Pennsylvania – of posting it. Real or fake, the recording damaged Erdogan’s reputation.
But now, with his party’s victory in an election widely seen as a referendum on his rule, Erdogan is said to be contemplating a run for the presidency. If he wins that job in August, Erdogan, who has been in power since 2003, would be set to run Turkey for up to 10 more years.

Awesome alignment: Mars, Sun and Earth

World gets distorted information about Bahrain: Professor

Press TV has conducted an interview with Daoud Khairallah, a professor of law at the Georgetown University from Washington, about a court in Bahrain sentencing seven anti-regime protesters to 15 years in prison as pressure on dissent mounts in the country. What follows is an approximate transcription of the interview.
Press TV: Even though the sentences are different in severity, there are many who are comparing the judicial process that took place in Bahrain with that in Egypt where we saw 500 people get sentenced to death for the death of one security guard. Do you see it that way too?
Khairallah: Well each country is in a sense sovereign and it depends on how its people, the culture of the rule of law. One would hope that the judiciaries in Egypt and in Bahrain are maintaining high legal standards and all necessary protections for the defendants to prove their innocence or their guilt.
Press TV: So what do you make of these recent sentences that have been handed down? There are those who are saying that these are extremely harsh and more sentences do take place in a biased way?
Khairallah: Well this is why I say that the standards that are applied by the judiciary in each court, in each society are a reflection of the level of development and awareness of the society, of the importance of the rule of law, because whenever politics interferes in the legal process, the first victim is justice and societies pay a high price for neglecting or for disregarding high levels, high standards of justice.
Press TV: Okay then let me rephrase my question Professor Khairallah. Do you think that politics is interfering in the judicial process in Bahrain?
Khairallah: Well ostensibly this is the case and it is to the credit of the Bahraini people. The uprising in Bahrain has been peaceful, they have not resorted to arms although they are the majority of the people and the countries who supported the government are the same countries that are arming people in Syria and other places to resort to violence. It is to the credit of the Bahraini people, those who had uprising and who want a reform and probably the whole world should witness and those who are responsible for the uprising, they should make sure that their case, their just cause, and their behavior is well-known and well-seen by the international community and the rest of the world.
Press TV: Now the Al Khalifa regime is doing its utmost to portray a sense of normalcy at least in international media. This is while protest and repression of these protesters continues. How do you see the situation evolving from here onward?
Khairallah: Well what one fears, if there is a distortion of facts and misuse of the instrument of justice, the course, the judiciary, whatever and this would lead people to resorting to violence because they fear that going through the normal courses, justice is not being done and on the contrary there is a certain distortion, deliberate distortion of facts and this would not last too long with people, people would start resisting and resorting to different means and take what they consider is their right into their own hands and that would be very unfortunate.
Press TV: And very quickly if you can Professor Khairallah, do you think that the international community has abandoned the Bahraini people in these times?
Khairallah: Well unfortunately the international community is fed information by a media that is already politicized and distorted. The international community, the ordinary man anywhere in the world, would take a position, will decide based on the facts that he or she would see. When they see distorted facts, they would react accordingly.
And unfortunately we know that the media is biased, the media is controlled by special interest and there is a huge double standard in the way the world sees what is going on in the entire Arab world and this is very unfortunate.

​Russian FM calls on Kiev, Washington to recognize interests of all Ukraine regions

Moscow is urging to provide for Ukraine’s eastern and southern regions to take part in the upcoming talks with Kiev, Russia, the US, and EU on the current crisis, says FM Sergey Lavrov.
The project of a new constitution should be presented well before that.
“We are ready for multilateral talks with the US, EU and Ukraine,” said Lavrov during a news conference in Moscow with his Angolan counterpart, Georges Rebelo Chicoti. Though the particular date of the talks has not been set up, Russia is ready to start negotiations within 10 days, Lavrov said.
The southeastern regions of Ukraine should also take part in the negotiations, he said. Following the coup in Kiev, Ukraine’s southeast saw a wave of anti-Maidan, and in many cases also pro-Russian, rallies. In cities such as Kharkov and Donetsk, activists went as far as attempts to proclaim independence.
The coup-imposed government in Ukraine has not made any positive steps towards these regions, Lavrov said, saying that people there now “fear that their interests are being ignored by Kiev.”
Meanwhile, the representatives from these regions should be not their governors, most of whom have been recently appointed by new authorities in Kiev, but the candidates for future presidential elections, he added.
“These candidates have been approved by the political parties, they represent the legitimate power of Ukraine. They may finally start dialogue with Kiev authorities, under observation of the US, EU and Russia,” he said.
Lavrov also responded to the US’s recent criticism of Russia’s alleged role in the Ukraine crisis.
While accusing “external forces” of provoking the protests in southeastern Ukraine, Washington is just throwing the blame onto others, Lavrov said.
“I heard the statements by Jay Carney, White House press secretary, who said that some demonstrations in southern Ukraine are paid for and that there are certain ‘external forces’ who stand behind these protests. It sounds as if he is talking about five months ago and describing the events in Kiev’s Maidan Square,” Lavrov said, referring to protests against ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.
In December, US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland handed out snacks to protesters on Kiev’s Independence Square. Later in the month, Senator John McCain arrived in Kiev to show his support for the opposition. Addressing protesters in Maidan, he declared that Ukraine's future was with Europe, adding that the country would “make Europe better.”
Another important issue is a draft Ukrainian constitution which is scheduled to be presented April 15 as promised by Ukraine’s acting PM, Arseny Yatsenyuk.
“The Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, said it had formed a special group to work on constitutional reform,” Lavrov said. “However, Russian authorities have not received any detailed information about what concepts are in this reform.” Neither Kiev nor Washington has shown the proposed draft Ukrainian constitution to Moscow, Lavrov said.
Lavrov expressed concern that Ukraine’s new draft constitution would be presented shortly before the summit of Russia, Ukraine, the US and the EU and it would be imposed without time to study the document. He urged Washington and Kiev to take into consideration the interests of all regions in Ukraine, as was agreed during recent talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Lavrov said he demanded explanations from Ukraine’s acting FM, Andrey Deschitsa, and US Secretary of State John Kerry, but has not received clear explanations.
“We only hear from PM Yatsenyuk and [acting President Aleksandr] Turchinov that there won’t be any federalization while the regions will be given broader powers,” he said.
Lavrov also said that Moscow urged the west to fulfill all the agreements on the situation in Ukraine, including that of February 21 on settling the crisis, which was signed by Yanukovich and opposition leaders, including Yatsenyuk and Vladimir Klitschko, on ending the political crisis in the country. The agreement was witnessed by EU foreign ministers from Germany and Poland. “After the coup d’état in Ukraine, we called on the Kiev authorities to return to the agreement of February 21, but our calls were disregarded,” Lavrov said. “Now we are told that this agreement is long in the past.”
Lavrov said this was “unfair politics.”
“We want our partners to fulfill all the agreements, including carrying out constitutional reform which respects all the regions,” he said.

Secretary of State Kerry blames Russian agents for separatist unrest in eastern Ukraine

Ahmad Zahir pashto song: Oba derta Rawrem

Pashto Song...Ahmad Zahir...Lar Sha Nangarhar Ta

LeT operating in Afghanistan, analysts say

Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani-based banned group with ties to al-Qaeda, is one of the more worrisome "jihadist" organisations threatening peace in South Asia, they say.
Analysts have termed the Pakistan-based militant organization Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) a militant network that is closely linked with al-Qaeda and has been engaged in Afghanistan since the days of Taliban. "It’s a very ruthless organisation," Peshawar-based analyst and author Aqeel Yusufzai told Central Asia Online. "Even the Taliban once protested the atrocities committed by LeT members in northern Afghanistan."
LeT beyond Pakistan's borders
"Of all the Pakistani militant organisations, LeT is the front-line outfit engaged in Afghanistan," Yusufzai, the author of several books on militancy in the Pakistani-Afghan border zone, said. He cited an arrest that occurred in April 2013. Afghan forces had detained a senior LeT leader during an operation in Ghazni Province, which serves as a major conduit for infiltration of insurgents from Pakistan into Afghanistan, Pakistani media reported at the time. The LeT leader, whom authorities did not identify but reportedly was Pakistani, is suspected of involvement in a terrorist attack that killed 13 Afghan soldiers in Kunar April 13. And Lahore-based senior analyst, Mubashir Bukhari, said the network does harbour a global "jihadist" agenda. "In 1998, Hafiz Saeed, co-founder of LeT, in a sermon in Lahore said LeT would hoist Pakistan's flag in [other countries] and would wage jihad against oppressors everywhere in the world," Bukhari said.
Ties to al-Qaeda LeT is reportedly serving as a recruiting agent for al-Qaeda, too, though Bukhari said the evidence isn't conclusive. One thing that is certain, though, is LeT's ties to al-Qaeda. LeT was started by the late Dr. Abdullah Azzam, known as the "Father of Global Jihad" and founder of Maktabul Khidamat, which evolved into al-Qaeda. And in the 1990s, reports surfaced that Osama bin Laden attended annual congregations of LeT and had financed the militant network, Bukhari said. Aoun Sahi, an Islamabad-based journalist who has written about terror networks, agreed, calling LeT and al-Qaeda natural allies. "LeT is the only militant organisation in Pakistan that shares al-Qaeda's Salafi/Wahabi ideology," he said. "LeT is also accused of providing refuge to several al-Qaeda leaders in various cities following 9/11." The ties between the two groups go back to the foundation of the modern militancy, said Hasan Abdullah, a Karachi-based scholar of the militancy and a frequent visitor to Kunar, Afghanistan.
"Many of the Arab fighters [who later emerged as prominent figures in al-Qaeda] spent time in places like Kunar, Zabul and other provinces of Afghanistan," Abdullah told Central Asia Online, adding that the leaders of the two groups have marriage and friendship bonds.
Lately, though, LeT leader Hafiz Saeed has become "one of the most hated figures in al-Qaeda camps," he said, and there have been clashes in Kunar between Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants and LeT-linked Jaish-as-Salafiyah insurgents.
Recruiting youths for extremism
Regardless of how deep the ties to al-Qaeda run, an alleged terrorist who was arrested outside of Pakistan March 22 has said during interrogation that LeT does recruit and train youths in Pakistan.
Zia ur Rehman (aka Waqas) told investigators that he went through a 21-day training regimen called "Daura-a-Aam" when he joined LeT in 2009. He was one of about 25 young men, ages 15 to 20, attending the training camp at the time.
An investigator described the training programme in a media interview when the arrest was announced.
"It started with morning prayers and physical training," the investigator said, citing information Waqas provided during interrogation. "Breakfast was served at 8am, followed by religious classes. After that came training in use of weapons, including the AK-47, INSAS rifles, G2 guns and pistols. They would break for lunch between 12 and 2pm, after which they would learn marksmanship."
After the three-week Daura-a-Aam session, the militants sent Waqas to Waziristan for more-intensive weapons training, the investigator said, though such subsequent training apparently is open only to select recruits.

EU Observers: Taliban Failed to Derail Elections

European Union monitors said on Monday that they can't predict who the winner of Saturday's election will be, but can say that the Taliban lost.
"We don't know who will win, but we know that the Taliban has lost," Member of European Parliament and EU Election Observation Mission Chairman, Thijs Berman, said. "Their threats to disrupt the elections with violence led to loss of lives of citizens, journalists, IEC staff, policemen and one international observer, but the violence did not deter Afghans from voting."
EU observers monitored voting in the provinces of Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kandahar and few other places throughout Afghanistan. The EU Election Observation Mission admired the Afghan people who participated on Election Day disregarding their safety.
Although, there were deficiencies during the election process because shortages of ballots and claims of riggings that the EU observers believe deprived many Afghans from voting. They added that the April 5 election is Afghanistan's greatest political achievements, but still raise concerns about the violations that were committed during the silent period and voting procedure.
Berman questioned how the IEC is supposed to plan accordingly when voter registration is not updated.
"There have been reports and observations on the lack of ballots in a few areas and the reason for it is still unknown," Berman said. "With so many voter cards out there and the absence of a comprehensive and updated voter registration, it's virtually impossible for the IEC to plan appropriately let alone anything close to reality."
The EU reiterated that the European countries are committed to work on transparency of the elections, stating that if the election goes into a second round they are prepared to monitor polls for the second time.

Afghan Candidates Jump The Gun On Election Results

It's likely to be weeks before official results from the first round of Afghanistan's presidential election are announced. But that hasn't stopped candidates' campaign teams from trying to get a leg up on the competition by compiling a count of the vote themselves and accumulating evidence -- fabricated or real -- of fraud committed by their rivals.
Under new election rules designed to improve transparency and eliminate fraud, the more than 20,000 polling stations scattered across the country are each printing and then publicly posting their local results after the votes are counted. The new practice has inspired campaign teams, as well as thousands of individual supporters, to make mad dashes to collect and call in these vote tallies from around the country to foster the impression that the vote is favoring their chosen candidate. The most active candidate taking advantage of this trend has been Ashraf Ghani, a former finance minister and one of the favorites to become the country's next president. His campaign team has set up a website, Online Results Web, with pie charts, percentages, and graphs that show partial results as they come in. As might be expected, Ghani's website is predicting that he is on track to claim an outright victory with around 58 percent of the national vote, with more than one-quarter of the ballots counted.
Ghani isn't the only one.
The campaign team of former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, another front-runner, has likewise called in results from around the country. They, too, claim to have won the most votes so far.
Trading Accusations
Abdullah and Ghani's supporters have become embroiled in an escalating war of words on social-networking websites like Twitter and Facebook over who is winning, with many users accusing the opposite camps of fabricating results. The two teams have likewise accused Afghan media outlets, which are also printing or broadcasting partial results, of being biased.
Abdullah's campaign team, for example, has pointed the finger at the Pajhwok news agency, which it claims is working for Ghani's team. Pajhwok has reported that Ghani secured around 42 percent of the vote, while Abdullah received around 40 percent, based on information it has collated from Kabul and several other provinces.
The partial results apparently show a tight race between Ghani and Abdullah.
An unscientific tour of polling stations in Kabul, where 20 percent of the Afghan population lives, showed that Abdullah was firmly in the lead, followed by Ghani, with Zalmai Rasul, another former foreign minister, lagging behind in third place.
In other areas of northern and eastern Afghanistan, Ghani seems to be in the lead. Rasul appears to be trailing both Abdullah and Ghani in many areas.
A second-round showdown between Ghani and Abdullah seems likely, with both looking unable to win an outright victory. If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will be held in late May.
Meanwhile, the five other candidates who took part in the election have been venting their frustration and anger at the publication of partial results, which they have described as "illegal" and a "joke." They say the practice misrepresents the results and conveys a damaging false impression before the official tallies are announced. Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC) has also weighed in, saying that any results announced by news agencies or candidates' websites are "not acceptable." The IEC has said it will not be rushed into announcing the results and has called on all candidates to exercise restraint and patience.
Fears Of Fraud
Besides calling in results, the campaign teams of the three front-runners are also collecting voter complaints, as well as photos and videos showing alleged fraud being committed in favor of rival candidates. Hundreds of campaigners sitting behind their laptops have been sending what they say is evidence of fraud to the electoral bodies. Others are simply spreading rumors on Twitter without any proof.
This video was posted on Facebook on April 6. It appears to show a group of people in Baghlan Province confiscating a pile of ballots they claim were fraudulent but that were marked for Rasul. There are numerous other videos casting aspersions on Abdullah and Ghani making the rounds on Twitter and Facebook.
All three front-runners allege that they are the victims of fraud and have lodged dozens of complaints with the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC).
Fears of ballot-box stuffing and government interference are high after the country's last presidential election, in 2009, was marred by widespread vote-rigging. This time, most of the candidates deployed tens of thousands of their own observers to monitor polling centers. The ECC has said that, despite receiving complaints against all eight presidential candidates, the 2014 vote was "less fraudulent" compared to the 2009 election, when more than 1 million votes were disqualified.
Mounting Complaints
Still, allegations of electoral fraud are mounting. The ECC says it has formally registered 3,103 complaints about the April 5 vote, but that not all are supported by evidence. The majority of complaints are about lack of access to voting sites, shortages of ballot papers, fake voting cards, and pressure by security forces and electoral authorities to vote for certain candidates.
"Based on these complaints we have registered, we cannot ignore the fact that during the elections there were instances of fraud and electoral violation," Nadir Mohseni, an ECC spokesman, said on April 8. "Certainly there was fraud and violations. We promise to the people of Afghanistan that we will defend the clean and pure vote that you have cast and we will safeguard it."
Abdullah, a runner-up in the 2009 election, has alleged ballot-box stuffing and threats to voters and observers. Ghani and Rasul have similarly alleged tampering and intimidation. "The lack of sufficient ballot papers all over the country, especially in the north and in Kabul, needs to be investigated and explained," Ghani said. "We are hoping that the Afghan Election Commission will provide the necessary explanation and give our people an explanation of these particular matters -- fraud allegations, shortage of ballot papers, and so on." Ghani and Abdullah, meanwhile, have complained that the government machinery was used in favor of Rasul, a claim he has denied. Rasul is widely believed to be outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai's favored candidate.

Main pal do pal ka shayar hun.... (Kabhi Kabhie)

Bilawal Bhutto condemns Sibbi blast

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Patron-In-Chief, Pakistan Peoples Party has condemned the bomb blast at Jaffar Express near Sibbi resulting in loss of innocent lives, including women and children. In a press statement, he said his party denounced violence and bloodshed in clear terms and all those killing innocent people, including women and children are digging at the roots of the country through terrorism and extremism. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari sympathized with the victims’ families and demanded best possible medical treatment to the injured persons.

Pakistan:PPP seeks inquiry into ‘fraud’ youth fest

Alleging corruption in the Punjab Youth Festival, the PPP has called for a judicial inquiry into the event.
In an adjournment motion submitted with the Punjab Assembly Secretariat by MPA Faiza Malik on Monday, the PPP claimed the Guinness Book of World Record had denied any links with the festival while there were also reports of widespread financial corruption in the event. Therefore, a judicial inquiry should be conducted by a Lahore High Court judge and the issue discussed in an open debate in the House.
Talking to Dawn, the MPA referred to a media report that quoted Guinness authorities as saying they had not sent any staff to certify the records, if any, claimed to have been set at the festival.
She claimed that Rs500 million had been paid to Guinness for registration of records to be set at the festival.
Usman Anwer, director general of the Punjab Sports Board, the organiser of the festival, said the board would come up with a concrete reply within 48 hours. He had been asked how much money the board had paid to Guinness for registration of records and whether the authorities had proofs of participation of the Guinness staff at the event. An official in the sports department said the government had signed a memorandum of understanding with Guinness and paid around ¤£1.5 million as fee for monitoring and certification of the records. He claimed the Guinness authorities had nominated locals for monitoring and registration of the records due to security concerns.
Punjab Sports Minister Rana Mashhood was not available for comments. The person who attended the call promised to revert with the minister’s reply but did not until the filing of this report.

PPP expresses concern over swine flu deaths

Leaders of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) have expressed serious concern over death taking place because of swine flu (H1N1) and have urged the Punjab government to take steps on emergency basis to control this viral disease. Two patients died of swine flu in the city on Sunday.
In a statement on Monday, PPP Lahore President Samina Khalid Ghurki, PPP Punjab Secretary General Tanveer Ashraf Kaira and other leaders, including Shaukat Basra, Raja Amir, Abid Saidqui, Hafiz Ikhlaq and Khurram Farooq expressed sorrow and grief over the deaths.
The PPP leaders said that poor governance of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in Punjab had been exposed as patients were dying because of epidemics but the rulers were not taking any heed. They said that the government was spending public money on unnecessary projects like metro bus service but not giving attention to problems of the common run of people.
They urged Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to trust his own party members and hand over all ministries, especially the health ministry kept by the chief minister himself, to treasury members if he was sincere in serving the people of his province.

Young Pakistani Christian Author writes a book on positive thoughts and words

Anita Saleem, a 25 year old Christian author who was born and raised in Pakistan has recently published a book titled ‘Words: spoken and unspoken forces’. In the book, Ms. Saleem acknowledges that words have power and traces how this power is activated by drawing reference from various fields like psychology, philosophy, medicine, religion and semiotics.
She presents a theoretical model to understand why words affect individuals by suggesting that words color emotions, shape behaviors and affect physiological functioning to create an overall impact (whether positive or negative). The book quotes several scientific studies to help understand why words are spoken and unspoken forces that have the potential to shape future. The book also has a chapter which covers the Biblical Perspective on the importance of words.
Ms. Saleem currently teaches Psychology to undergraduates at the Department of Psychology at Forman Christian College and tweets @anitasaleem
Her book ‘Words: spoken and unspoken forces’ is available on Amazon, Kindle and Barnes & Noble globally and is also available at - Anees Book Corner, - Iqbal Book Centre - FC College bookstore in Lahore.
- See more at: http://www.christiansinpakistan.com/young-pakistani-christian-author-writes-a-book-on-positive-thoughts-and-words/#sthash.bKZ9fEEs.dpuf

Pakistan: Shocking details of links between policemen and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi emerge

Disturbing reports have emerged of members of the Quetta police having close links with some of the deadliest terrorists in the sectarian war theatre of Pakistan. In a press conference on Monday, DIG Operations Quetta Police Fayyaz Ahmed Sumbal disclosed the arrest of two cops in this connection.
The two arrested policemen include Assistant Sub-Inspector Yahya and constable Karim. Yahya was deputed in the investigation branch while Karim was the guard commander at Sheikh Zayed Hospital.
Revealing the details, reliable sources have disclosed that “ASI Yahya was in contact over the phone with a member of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi men”. The sources further revealed that the country’s premier intelligence agency was continuously monitoring the conversations of Yahya with the member of the banned outfit. The intelligence agency subsequently alerted senior police officials about the conversation.
Initially, the police and intelligence agency were not aware of Yahya’s identity but a blunder by one of the cop’s relatives led to his arrest. During preliminary investigations, ASI Yahya denied having any links with a member of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and refused to admit that it was his own voice in the recorded conversation. However, ASI Yahya eventually confessed that he had contacts with the banned LJ. According to reliable sources, the arrest of Yahya is a major breakthrough against the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
He was directly in contact with the Ameer of LJ Asif Chotu , LJ Balochistan Ameer Usman Saifullah Kurd and Sindh Ameer Naeem Bukhari. Few months before his arrest, Yahya even took Asif Chotu and Naeem Bukhari to Hanna Lake in Quetta. It is noteworthy that after a long gap, the Balochistan police have issued a list of most wanted criminals, including sectarian and sub-nationalists militants. The ads were published in the newspapers by the Balochistan Police mentioning details and offering rewards on information about the deadly terrorists. The LJ Balochistan Ameer Usman Saifullah Kurd is top of the list, with a bounty of Rs2.5 million.
Meanwhile, sources revealed that constable Karim is the son of an Ahle-Sunnat-Wal-Jamaat (ASWJ) Balochistan office bearer and is suspected of being involved in supplying weapons to the LJ. Disclosing information about the black sheep in the department, sources said that the police are committed and have undertaken an operation to weed out such elements. Action has been taken against two more cops who are also accused of having ties with the banned militant organisation. There was lack of evidence to prosecute them but both have been dismissed from police service.
Reliable sources divulged that the Quetta police are very close to apprehending the terrorists involved in different attacks on Quetta police. They revealed the modus-operandi of terrorists who, after having a brief conversation with the policemen in their local language, would open fire on the police party. The terrorists shot usually their victims on their heads using the rifles of slain policemen.
The sources explained that “the reason behind such acts is to convey a message” and dent the morale of the police force. But, the sources insisted, the situation has totally changed now and the terrorists are “on the run”. “We have got strong intelligence that the Lashkar-e-Jaish-e-Islam is behind these attacks and its chief Saifullah Marri is involved in the killing of more than 30 policemen,” said a source privy to developments.
Responding to a question about progress in the investigation of the recent suicide attack on the house of Balochistan IG Mushtaq Sukhera, the police claim they have received some valuable information. The owner of the truck used in the suicide attack has been identified. According to details, the truck was registered in the name of a terrorist affiliated with a local proscribed militant outfit and the owner had been killed a few months ago during an encounter with the FC.
The police sources said that there is now unprecedented coordination between the Quetta police and intelligence agencies and that is why the police force is able to carry out successful operations against the terrorists. After the incident of Alamdar Road, in which a large number of Hazara Shias were killed, the then-IG Balochistan Tariq Umar Khattab had conceded while talking to Geo News that “the police are not getting reliable and concrete information from the intelligence agencies and that is why the force is not able to act with an iron hand against terrorists”.

Balochistan: Baloch Liberation Army shots down a gunship helicopter and accepts killings scores Pakistani Commandos

A spokesman of Baloch Liberation Army, Meerak Baloch, has said that Zarar and Karar Companies of Special Services Group (SOTF) attack a camp of BLA in Parodh area of Balochistan on Monday.
He said: “Our fighters, with their successful fighting strategy, foiled Pakistani forces plan and freedom fighters retaliated at the forces with full enthusiasm. The retaliatory attack by Baloch freedom fighters killed many commandos of Pakistani forces and injured several others.”
The BLA in their statement said that a Baloch freedom fighter in charge of anti-aircraft gun fought with great bravery and valour and attacked helicopters of Pakistani forces. One military chopper of Pakistani forces has been shot down and completely destroyed.
“Baloch Liberation Army awarded the title of “Tik Theer” to this brave son of Baloch land,” Meerak Baloch said.
Mr. Meerak Baloch also said that Pakistani forces after suffering defeat at the hands of Baloch fighters started attacking the civilian population and killed many innocent women and children.
The BLA spokesman said: “After the continuous violations of international laws by Pakistan, BLA has changed its organisational doctrine for the safety of Baloch nation. Many nations in the civilised world, in order to save its public, have taken the battlefield to the areas of enemy. We will also adopt this right of ours so that we can save our people from the enemy.”
Meanwhile the Frontier Corpse confirm killing at least 30 people near Kalat which they claimed were ‘terrorist’ but independent and local sources said that the all the victims were civilians including women and children.
BLA spokesman called BBC Urdu and rejected that claims of FC saying that no Baloch fighters were killed in the attack by Pakistani forces.
Separately, the Baloch Liberation Front in a statement said that its fighters attack a convoy of Pakistani forces in Nokjo area of Mashky and killed at least four soldiers and injured three others.
Gwahram Baloch, a spokesman, of the BLF said the Pakistani forces came under attack after they had attacked a civilian populated area and set several house of innocent Baloch on fire. Another Baloch resistance organisation the Baloch Republican Army informed media that it has also had a pitched battle against Pakistani forces near Kalat when the forces attacked houses of Baloch civilians in the area.
The BRA rejected Pakistani forces claims of destroy camp of Baloch freedom fighters and said that it was an old tactic of the state to conceal its defeat and try to keep moral of its force by misinformation through state media.

Pakistan: Is this our idea of a fortress of Islam?

Ayaz Amir
Islam in today’s world should not be about obscure points of doctrine, fiqh and Shariah. Mujtahids and reformers have been at the reconstruction of religious thought in Islam for the last 1400 years without any success. They can be at it for the next 1000 years and the result will be the same, doctrinaires and dogmatists who hold sway over the wastelands of theory not ready to concede an inch.
To be of any practical relevance today the ramparts of the Fortress of Islam have to be about practice, theory going beyond the realm of theory and becoming fact. Dubai where the basic needs of its native citizens are met is Islam in practice, despite its skyscrapers, social freedoms and even its fleshpots. Malaysia where economic development has taken place is Islam in practice. The Ottoman Empire’s decrepitude, the label on its face proclaiming the ‘Sick Man of Europe’, was an insult to Islam, despite the Caliphate. The birth of modern Turkey under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal was Islam redeemed…this despite Mustafa Kemal’s iconoclasm and open contempt for form and ritual.
Where fear and want stalk the land, where suicides can take place because of hunger, where basic needs are not met and there is one law for the privileged and another for the down and out, it is an insult to call such a society Islamic…even if mosques stand at every corner and loudspeakers run riot when the call for prayer is given. A society based on lies and deception, hypocrisy and self-righteousness…how does that fit into the Islamic paradigm?
The essence of Islam, indeed the whole of Islam, is distilled into that one cry of Omar that if a dog goes hungry by the banks of the Euphrates, he, Omar, will be held accountable on the Day of Judgement. And that one dictum of Ali that an un-Islamic dispensation can last awhile but not an order based on tyranny and injustice.
Why in Pakistan are we such slaves to ritual and the externals of religion while so distant from the essence of Islam? Even if one soul lies hungry of a night, if the head of a family can contemplate death because of starvation, even if one mother with her children under her arms can drown herself in a swift-running canal, to put an end to the wretchedness of her life, how in that land, that city, those environs, are Mughal showpiece projects justified?
If the food for patients in Mayo Hospital is to be funded by private donations – and I give this one example at random – if healthcare for the mass of the people is on no one’s agenda, and emergency wards and ICUs are destitute of medicines for the poor and needy, will anyone call this an Islamic Republic?
If government schools are starved of funds and across the land children have to sit under the shade of trees to receive the apology that passes for their education, where there are different systems of education to cater for different classes of wealth, what name should be given to such a country?
Look at the totality of this abdication: the state walking away from security, health and education – security privatised, health privatised, education privatised. What is left then of the state’s purpose?
Today things have arrived at such a pass that across the political spectrum, from one end to the other, there is a consensus on the essentials of socio-economic theory: that anything like social justice can wait while economic advance picks up at the hands of unbridled capitalism. This is to plant Thatcherism on the arid soil of a society still more peasant in its outlook than urban or modern.
With my sinful ears I have heard Nawaz Sharif say that the way forward to economic glory is a ten percent income tax rate and no more. I have heard Asif Ali Zardari say that when China starts shifting some of its basic industries to Pakistan, say in the next 20 years, Pakistan then will be able to take off economically. The third alternative, Imran Khan’s PTI, is firmly in the grip of an entrepreneurial class which thinks along much the same lines.
As for the Islamist parties they are into fund collection and hides collection and their own agenda of power, and on the slightest pretext, relating mostly to imagined insults against the faith, whipping up frenzy in the name of religion.
Pakistan’s number one issue is not religion. It is not the agenda of the Islamist parties. It is the vast and growing gap between haves and have-nots, those who have power in their hands and those who have nothing, except of course the hope and solace of another world when the Towers of Jericho come down and the hosts are gathered on the extended plains.
But the irony of it: those who have everything are without any faith in the sturdiness of their Islamic fortress. Even if Pakistan is not a global player, its privileged classes have become global in that they have taken to stowing away their wealth abroad. Is Islamabad really the capital of Pakistan? Dubai seems more like the real capital. Doesn’t everyone have a villa there? And those who don’t, don’t they want a slice of the action?
This is a land of many migrations – the migration of Partition, the migration of labour to the Gulf kingdoms, and now the migration of the privilegentsia. The labouring class retains its links with the homeland. The privileged classes have mentally migrated from the Fortress of Islam, in their hearts giving up on it. So why should anyone be alarmed at the growth of madressah education? When the state is walking out on public education, and an entire stratum of the population has no other option, why should the armies of the deprived not join religious schools of instruction? At least they get food and shelter there. I keep writing about the ban on YouTube because it is my primary source of music. I get my songs, my classical music, my old films, old TV shows of Orson Welles and Richard Burton, from there. And the ban I consider silly and outrageous. But tell me, my masters, of what concern is YouTube to a man in Lahore or anywhere else who wants to put an end to his life because he can’t feed his family?
This is the third reference to suicide in this column…because these things happen. For those living on full bellies hunger sounds like a fashionable turn of phrase. But for countless others it is a stark reality. In the true Islamic society there should be no distribution of alms and langar at holy places like Data Darbar because there should be no hunger to drive people to seek alms. At the last urs of Ali Hajveri there was a picture in the papers showing a long, long line of men, women and children awaiting their chance to get a free glass of milk. Imagine the wrath of Omar were this to happen in the Republic he commanded.
What is blasphemy? Starvation is the biggest blasphemy of all. Injustice is blasphemy. The throwing of stones while living in glass houses is blasphemy. The burning of Joseph Colony in Lahore was blasphemy. In the eyes of the Prophet of Islam who decreed cleanliness to be the half of godliness, the dirt of our cities and towns is an insult to his memory.
We can dispute points of doctrine for the next 500 years. We have interpreted Islam to death. Our Fortress of Islam we have built on the bedrock of fiction. If we can’t do anything better, can’t we at least wash the stains of self-righteousness from our sleeves?

Pakistan: Poor governance breeds radicalisation

Peshawar University's Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies together with the Governance Institute Network International (GINI) recently conducted a joint research study in Fata as well as Provincially Administrated Tribal Areas (PATA) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on "Misgovernance-Radicalisation Nexus in Pakistan." Findings of the study linked radicalisation to absence of political representation, economic opportunities and human rights in the tribal areas. In Malakand, support for militancy was attributed to low literacy rate, weakness of elected representatives performance, and ineffective delivery of justice. None of these findings come as a surprise.
Unfortunately, since Independence, the tribal areas have been kept outside the mainstream of national life under a 'one country two systems' scheme. Only after the Taliban started asserting control in some of the tribal agencies did the society begin to realise the differences and the difficulties in establishing State authority in the region. Run under the colonial era administrative system of political agents and oppressive Federal Crimes Regulations (FCR), common people have been denied access to normal justice system, political representation through universal right to vote, and left at the mercy of tribal elders and political agents to order their lives. Sadly, democratically-elected government too made no effort to bring these areas within the national fold, either out of indifference to the plight of ordinary tribal people or because the existing system suited them. Since the Political Parties Act did not apply to these areas, successive governments found it convenient to buy support of Fata representatives. They felt no obligation to undertake development work worth much value. These areas have been home to some of the poorest of the poor of this country. It's small wonder that they have been easy recruiting grounds for the Taliban militants who pay their fighters bigger salaries than the Pakistan Army gives its soldiers.
The case of Malakand is another story of neglect and indifference. Notably, until 1970 Malakand was a provincially-administered agency, and included the princely states of Swat, Dir, and Chitral. The princely states were abolished in '70 but without replacing their administrative and legal structures - which provided for speedy justice in the name of Sharia law - with efficient governance. Consequently, long before the advent of the Taliban, ie, in 1992, Sufi Mohammad organised a movement against the government, and led an uprising for the enforcement of Sharia law in Swat under the banner of Tehreek Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM). That organisation was later to be headed by his son-in-law, Mullah Fazlullah, the current head of the TTP. Fazlullah established his control over Swat until ousted in a bloody military operation. The preceding details amply demonstrate that poor governance, indeed, is the key cause of trouble in the tribal areas as well as some of KPK's settled areas.

Pakistan needs to have friendly relations with its neighbours

Changing regional scenario
Pakistan needs to have friendly relations with its neighbours to overcome the dire economic and security challenges it faces. As things stand Islamabad’s relations with all the countries sharing borders with it, with the exception of China, are less than friendly. Islamabad is therefore required to allocate a big chunk of its budget on defence at the expense of education, health and social development. India is still considered by the army as an existential threat. Pakistan continues to host millions of Afghan refugees and many more are likely to arrive in days to come in case of a bloody civil war in the neighbouring country. The Karzai government however looked at Pakistan for years with suspicion. Tehran continues to complain that sectarian terrorists use Pakistan’s territory to launch attacks inside Iran. What is needed is to have cordial relations with all these countries. This would result in economic cooperation and increase in mutual trade, bringing prosperity to all. With the threshold of external threat coming down this would also lead to a significant reduction in defence expenditure. Cultivation of mutual confidence and friendly relations will enable these countries to jointly curb the menace of terrorism.
Major changes are taking place in the region that can have consequences for Pakistan. The Karzai era is over and Afghanistan is going to have a new administration. Is Islamabad prepared to deal with the changed situation with fresh solutions for old disputes?
The six-week long electoral process has begun in India. There is a strong likelihood of BJP coming to power after a decade. The Hindu nationalist party has made it known that it would react more strongly to border incidents and acts of terrorism. The old demands for a speedy punishment for Mumbai attack masterminds and for MFN status for India are likely to increase. Does the government have any out of the box solutions for the disputes that continue to mar ties between the two neighbours?
Pak-Iran relations which were already less than ideal further deteriorated after Pakistan’s policy shift on Syria and the presumed deal to sell arms, including shoulder fired anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles. The invitation by Iranian President to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for Tehran visit has been accepted. Will he carry new ideas for removing Iranian complaints?
Stock responses to the resolution of differences have not succeeded in the past nor is there any hope of their success in the future. The government must not be short of options. It is not enough to maintain, as Sartaj Aziz does, that doors cannot be closed to negotiation whichever government comes in India. What is required is to work out multiple options to win over the three neigbours with whom we have serious differences.

The threat to media

Pakistan has never been an easy country for journalists; more than 20 were killed in the last decade and until recently no convictions were forthcoming for those murders. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) ranks Pakistan fifth in the world for countries most dangerous for journalists. Journalists regularly face harassment and intimidation. Threats to their lives are nothing new, though ignoring them can be fatal as the murders of reporters Wali Babar and Saleem Shahzad showed. Given this, the death threats to journalist Imtiaz Alam by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have sparked widespread outrage and condemnation from journalist bodies around the country and highlighted the importance of the media in the fight against terrorism. Mr Alam is the editor of a quarterly publication and a television show host. On Saturday, journalists and media associations issued a statement condemning the threats and at a demonstration on Sunday in Lahore journalists suggested the situation demands boycotting militant-related coverage. The threats to Mr Alam highlight how important controlling the media is to the TTP and how the battle against them is not only playing out in the tribal areas but in our homes and on our television screens. Mr Alam was attacked before in 2009 and is being singled out by the TTP for his stark opposition to their dogma. Threats to his life should also not surprise anyone since the media group that hosts his television programme has been incessantly attacked by militants of late. Another of its television anchors, Raza Rumi, was attacked just last week and in recent months the group had to stop reporting on militancy after the brutal murders of several of its staff and attacks on its offices. In many ways their silence has been as eloquent as their reporting, particularly when half the front page of their foreign franchise paper was censored for carrying a potentially volatile story. Other influential media houses perceived as setting an anti-militant news agenda have also been targeted.
The power of the free media in Pakistan is obvious. The movement against former President General Pervez Musharraf gained enough traction and support in the media that it ultimately forced his resignation. The TTP’s violence against the media shows how propaganda ascendancy is tied closely to their political goals. Hence, turn on the television and often you will see TTP spokespersons issuing statements as though the group is a legitimate political actor with a right to a voice. In this way the TTP hope to acclimatise people to their presence and attain legitimacy through a persistent media presence, which makes journalists who see the TTP as nothing more than a terrorist organisation, and are not afraid to point it out, a threat to them. While protecting journalists is something the government has pledged to do, it was not long ago most journalists considered the government itself a threat to their personal safety — and many still do — for reporting sensitive or damaging stories and exposing corruption. Many journalists in Pakistan can testify first-hand to receiving oblique threats from ‘agency’ personnel warning them to stay away from controversial subjects. However, the government still operates according to a framework in which assassination and murder are preferably avoided. The TTP framework is almost entirely assassination and murder. In the same way they have come to dominate the tribal areas by killing officials and tribal leaders and occupying their vacant positions. Through violence, they aim to create a narrative vacuum that they can then fill. In the mad scramble for ratings and ‘breaking’ news, smaller news channels are willing to publicise militant news to gain an edge on their competitors. This is a dangerous practice and lends strong weight to the argument for boycotting coverage of militants and denying them the publicity they badly want. Journalists in Pakistan are in a unique position to shape the national discourse; the power must be used responsibly now more than ever when the greatest threat to the media is extremist militancy.

Street Child World Cup: The young heroes return to Pakistan

The Express Tribune
The Jinnah International Airport in Karachi was abuzz with sounds of drums as fervent fans welcomed the young footballers home on their return from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil after putting up a good show at the Street Child World Cup (SCWC) 2014.
For their reception, not only their families were present but also ministers, representatives and workers of political parties as well as sports and football organisations.
People also danced at the airport to the thuds of the drums to welcome the young heroes home. The nine-member squad for Pakistan had a glorious run in the seven-a-side tournament before a heart-breaking defeat at the hands of Burundi in the semifinal.
For security reasons, the airport administration used the domestic gate instead of the international one for the children to leave the airport to avoid any untoward situation.
Sindh Minister for Culture Sharmila Farooqi, Provincial Minister for Social Welfare Rubina Saadat Qaimkhani and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) MPA Khawaja Izharul Hassan were also present to welcome the young guns and highly appreciated the efforts of these children.
Qaimkhani told the Express News that these children have proven that they are not lesser than anyone else irrespective of whatever problems and hindrances they might be facing. MQM MPA Hassan, while speaking to the Express News, requested the government to reward these kids in order to boost their confidence.
Capturing hearts
The teenagers, who endured a hard time to just get to Rio, let alone play in the tournament, have managed to capture the hearts and imagination of the nation. Though they lost out in the semi-final against Burundi, they managed to win against the US in the play-off for the third place and earned a bronze medal. The team began its campaign with a bang, defeating arch-rivals and defending champions India 13-0, Kenya 2-0 and Mauritius 3-0 to top Group Three. Later they won the quarter-final against Philippines 3-2 on penalty-kicks.

Balochistan: Sibi train blast death toll reaches 14

A blast in a train at Balochistan's Sibi railway station on Tuesday killed 14 persons and wounded 30 others while setting it on fire and destroying one bogie , DawnNews reported. The explosion occurred in the Rawalpindi-bound Jaffar express when it reached Sibi from Quetta whereas the deceased included two women and four children. Rescue sources said that more than 30 people were wounded in the blast.
Sher Khan Bazai, a senior administration official, confirmed the incident and said that “24 patients are in critical condition, they will be shifted to Quetta as soon as they are stable enough to travel." He added that the injured included six women and four children. Earlier, Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique said that 12 people had died in the blast and added that the involvement of a woman was suspected in the incident. He further said that strict action would be taken against perpetrators of the incident. Rafique said the same service had been attacked a few days earlier but there were no casualties. “A few days ago terrorists had fired upon a train when it came out of a tunnel (in Balochistan), but they ran away when security forces responded to firing. “The train was standing at Sibi railway station where FC and other law enforcement agencies are always alert. We will have to review the security and find out the cracks from where the terrorists slipped and planted the explosives,” he added. Moreover, Balochistan Home Minister Mir Sarfaraz Bugti said that 20 injured persons had been shifted to Civil Hospital Sibi. Emergency and rescue teams reached the site and began shifting the casualties to hospitals for treatment. An emergency was imposed at Civil Hospital Sibi and according to initial reports there was no surgeon present at the facility which was also facing a shortage of medicines and other resources. Other victims were also shifted to Quetta. The federal and provincial governments ordered a probe into the blast. The incident comes a day after security forces said they had killed 30 militants in operations conducted in Kalat and Khuzdar districts of the province. There was no claim of responsibility over the incident till the filing of this report. .

Pakistan Army Conducts Ruthless Bombardment of Balochistan's Kalat Region

Desperate to secure Chinese investment in the region, Pakistani forces have accelerated their offensive in Balochistan. Pakistan FC began a massive troop deployment this morning in the Kalat area in hopes of orchestrating an “endgame scenario”.
Residents in occupied areas of Balochistan witnessed dozens of Cobra Gunship Helicopters, hundreds of military vehicles, and Fighter Jets converging on the Nemargh, Shoor, Parudh, Nushki, & Suraab and other rural districts throughout the Kalat region.
BLA Sarmachar arrived soon after the assault began, to rally against occupying State Forces and rescue the besieged villagers. Baloch Sarmachar shot down a Pakistani AH-1 Cobra Gunship Helicopter and killed many FC Soldiers. Although an FC spokesman claimed only 10 soldiers were injured, local residents reported 5 trucks conveying dead FC Soldiers from the combat zone. Fierce fighting in the region between BLA forces and Pakistan FC remains ongoing.
Occupational State Forces have also commenced indiscriminate shelling of the rural villages in the Kalat region today. At least 30 residents have been martyred and all livestock slaughtered. One woman was martyred and two other women were severely injured during attacks in the mountainous Paarod Shor district. Pakistani Forces completely destroyed countless homes, including the houses of Meer Hazaar Khan Saasoli, Noor Ahmed Saasoli, Sher Mohmmad Saasoli, & Peer Mohmmad Saasoli.
Over the past several months Pakistani Forces have enacted a co-ordinated multi-pronged military stratagem in Balochistan designed to force the Indigenous Baloch population into the North-Western regions of Balochistan. In the North-East Pakistan FC have continually invaded, bombarded, and since occupied the Dera Bugti regions. Meanwhile Pakistan’s Armed Forces conducted similar operations in the the South-Western areas of Balochistan. The rural Baloch towns; Turbat, Nasirabad, Panjgur, Mashkai and Awaran have all faced heavy bombardment and occupation by large numbers of State Soldiers.
Even now bombardment of Mashkai villages continues unabated. Residents are being detained, interrogated and subjected to acts of torture by Occupational State Forces. At least 8 homes have been reduced to ashes so far during today’s loot & burn operations in the Mashkai region.
The homes and businesses of Indigenous Baloch citizens are invaded, looted and burned. Baloch schools are attacked and occupied. State Forces then proceed to establish camps and bases in the occupied regions from which they stage attacks on the surrounding districts. Subsequently Baloch civilians are victimized and displaced by Occupational State Forces. Residents are forced to abandon their homes and relocate to areas near Kalat, Quetta and other regions along the Northern Afghanistan border. Anyone attempting to flee West is shot at by Iranian Border Patrols.
Baloch National Movement and Baloch Student Organization have called for Balochistan-wide wide shutter-down strike on April 8th (today) in Balochistan to protest the ongoing vicious military assaults in Kalat and Mashkai. Baloch Republican Party & Baloch Youth Wing have pledged their support for BNM & BSO’s strike call in Balochistan.

Pakistan: Blast at Sibbi railway station kills six

At least six people were killed and many others were injured on Tuesday when a passenger train was targeted with a remote-controlled device at Sibbi Railway Station, SAMAA reports. Police confirmed that first bogey of the Jaffar Expresss was hit by a bomb planted inside the bogey. Initial reports suggest that six people lost their lives while 30 others got injured. The train had made a usual stopover at the Sibbi station – the second largest in Balochistan – when the blast occurred. Rescue teams have started their relief efforts and dead and injured are shifted to nearby hospital. According to our correspondent, the latest blast might be a reaction of Frontier Corps operation in Khuzdar and Kalat districts of the province yesterday in which at least 30 militants were killed.