Sunday, May 11, 2014

Homayra - Vaghty Ke Rafty Mordam | حمیرا - وقتی که رفتی مردم

Human rights organizations condemn Bahrain
Human rights organizations have condemned the Bahraini government for the immoral handling of the case of a citizen killed by security forces.
Sixteen rights organizations have slammed the Bahraini regime for forging Abdul-Aziz al-Abbar’s death certificate.
Abbar, 27, died on April 18, after 55 days in a coma due to injuries he suffered during crackdown on a rally held in late February in Sa’ar, a residential area west of the capital Manama. According to Bahrain’s Center for Human Rights, security forces had fired tear gas canisters and birdshots at Abbar.
The rights organizations say Manama has withheld information on how he died and that his corpse was held in a morgue for 22 days.
“Where is the role of the National Institution of Human Rights, the General Secretariat of Plaints, the General Prosecution, the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee and other official sides concerned in helping to alleviate the suffering of the victim’s family?!,” the organizations asked.
The rights organizations have also said this is not the first time Bahraini authorities forge death certificates, naming three other cases--Ahmed Ismael, Salah Abbass Habib, and Mahmud Al- Haziri-- that the regime authorities have refused to deliver a clear report about their deaths.
Since mid-February 2011, thousands of protesters have held numerous demonstrations in the streets of Bahrain, calling on the Al Khalifa royal family to relinquish power.
In March 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were called in to help Manama quash the anti-regime protests.
Scores of Bahrainis have been killed and hundreds of others injured and arrested in the ongoing crackdown on peaceful demonstrations.

North Korean leader and wife attend a flight combat contest

India's general elections enter final phase

India's mammoth nine-phase general elections entered its final phase Monday, with polling being held in 41 parliamentary constituencies across three states. Polling began at 7 a.m. (local time) in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh and the eastern states of West Bengal and Bihar, an Election Commission official said, on condition of anonymity. In Uttar Pradesh, all eyes are on the Varanasi constituency from where the country's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP)'s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and the anti- graft Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal are contesting the polls. The general elections began on April 7 and will end this evening, with results due to be announced on May 16. Opinion polls have suggested that the BJP will form the next government, with Modi as the prime minister, while the ruling Congress party is facing anti-incumbency due to its inability to tackle corruption and inflation.

Israel offers to help Nigeria find abducted schoolgirls
Israel offered Nigeria help on Sunday in locating schoolgirls abducted last month by Islamist rebel group Boko Haram in an attack that has drawn global condemnation and prompted some Western powers to provide assistance.
"Israel expresses deep shock at the crime against the girls," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office quoted him as telling Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan by phone, as quoted by Reuters. "We are ready to help in finding the girls and fighting the cruel terrorism inflicted on you."
The statement did not elaborate on how Israel might enlist in the search, with which British and US experts are also helping. A spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry said he knew of no cooperation efforts under way.
Israel has defense ties with Nigeria, and has provided it in the past with surveillance drones. Last September, Israel was among several countries that sent advisers to Kenya to assist in a stand-off with Islamist gunmen who attacked a mall in Nairobi.
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Early results show landslide support in Donetsk and Lugansk regions for self-rule

Election commissions in Donetsk and Lugansk are still counting the ballots, but preliminary results show the majority of eastern Ukrainians supported self-rule, despite intensified military operation by Kiev which resulted in several deaths.
After the last polling stating closed in Lugansk and Donetsk regions at 23:00 local time (20:00 GMT), election commissions began counting the votes. According to preliminary results – based on phone call reports from local commissions – in Donetsk region 89.7% of votes were cast in favour of political independence from Kiev. In Lugansk region preliminary results have not yet been announced, but the leader of the local “people’s front” said only around 5% voted against the “Act of state self-rule of the Lugansk People's Republic.”
Central election commissions are yet to receive the official reports from the polling stations across the regions. Earlier it was said the documents would not be transported until the morning over the fear of possible attacks and provocations. Despite fears that amid Kiev’s intensified military crackdown – which killed at least two civilians on referendum day – the turnout will be low, in both of the region it was unexpectedly high. In Donetsk it reached 74.87%, while in Lugansk the central election commission says 81% of eligible voters came to the polling stations.
With such a huge turnout, the referendums have been recognized as valid by both election commissions. Kiev however, calling the regional voting on self-determination illegal, sent its recently formed paramilitary forces in an apparent move to disrupt referendums. As armored military vehicles blocked passage to polling stations, voting in four towns across Lugansk region was disrupted. In the Donetsk town of Krasnoarmeysk, the National Guard shot at a crowd and killed two civilians who were protesting their attempt to seize a polling station. The final results are expected be announced during region wide rallies on Monday.

Kissinger: Putin likely didn't plan to bring Ukraine situation to a head

Fareed speaks with former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger about what might be behind Russia’s recent policy toward Ukraine.
Kissinger: One has to ask oneself this question: He spent $60 billion on the Olympics. They had opening and closing ceremonies, trying to show Russia as a normal progressive state. So it isn't possible that he, three days later, would voluntarily start an assault on Ukraine. There is no doubt that…
So to explain. You're saying you don't think this was a plan. You think he reacted to events that he saw as spiraling out of his control?
Kissinger: Yes. I think at all times he wanted Ukraine in a subordinate position. And at all times, every senior Russian that I've ever met, including dissidents like Solzhenitsyn and Brodsky, looked at Ukraine as part of the Russian heritage. But I don't think he had planned to bring it to a head now. I think he had planned a more gradual situation, and this is sort of a response to what he conceived to be an emergency situation. Of course, to explain why he did it doesn't mean one approves of annexing part of another country or crossing of borders. But I think we ought to settle the Ukraine issue first, and then have a discussion about relations with Russia.

Malala to CNN: Kidnapped Nigerian girls are 'my sisters'

By Mariano Castillo
Terrorist groups such as Boko Haram prey on girls because they fear them, Malala Yousafzai told CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday, adding her voice to the outcry over the mass kidnappings of Nigerian girls. Malala, the Pakistani girl who made a miraculous recovery after being shot in the head by the Taliban, said women are targeted by those who fear a society in which women are empowered. Boko Haram has kidnapped hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls, an act that has become the focal point of a worldwide social media campaign demanding their return. The Malala Fund is launching a Nigerian girls education campaign around the issue. The 16-year-old human rights advocate first spoke up about the kidnappings last week.
"When I heard about girls in Nigeria being abducted, I felt very sad, and I thought, 'my sisters are imprisoned now,'" Malala said. "The girls in Nigeria are my sisters and its my responsibility that I speak up for my sisters." Boko Haram are extremists who don't understand Islam, she said. The religion, she says, calls for empowerment through education, not a snuffing of it. "They should go and they should learn Islam, and I think that they should think of these girls as their own sisters. How can one imprison their own sisters and treat them in such a bad way?" she said. Everyone should speak up for the kidnapped girls, she said. In a photo released on social media, Malala holds a sign reading #BringBackOurGirls, joining the chorus of social media activity repeating the same demand. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has been under fire over accusations the government initially ignored and then later downplayed the abduction of the girls. Jonathan has also accepted an offer of U.S. military support in the search for the girls.

FILM: In ‘Noor’, a transgender Pakistani searches for love and acceptance

A member of Pakistan’s transgender community plays a lightly fictionalised version of himself in “Noor”, a moving French-Turkish film currently in French cinemas. FRANCE 24 takes a closer look.
Some true stories are so singular, so full of twists, turns, pain and hope, that their journey to the big screen seems like a foregone conclusion.
So it was with Noor, a twenty-something member of Pakistan’s transgender community who is both the eponymous subject and the lead performer in a new film currently in French cinemas and likely to make its way around the world in the coming months.
Noor was five years old when he started to dance. With his delicate features and physical grace, the young Pakistani boy quickly became a popular attraction, allowing him to financially support his family after his father died of an overdose.
But the pressure soon proved too much, and Noor ran away at the age of nine. Taken under the wing of Pakistan’s transgender community (known as Khusras), the young boy travelled the country, performing in circuses and fairs.
As the years passed, Noor began dressing as a woman, and fell in love with a fellow dancer who convinced him to undergo medical castration. But when their relationship ended, Noor left the Khusras, striking out on his own with a single goal: to become a man again. Though the surgery was irreversible, he grew a beard (with the help of hormones), got a new job and dreamed of romantic companionship with a woman. The only vestige of Noor’s past was his long hair, which he refused to cut.
A passion for Pakistan, and for an ‘extraordinary story’
After spending twelve years making documentaries and short films shot in the Middle East, Asia and Europe, Turkish-born Çagla Zencirci and her French partner Guillaume Giovanetti decided to make Noor the focus of their first feature-length film. Motivating and inspiring the project every step of the way was the directors’ shared passion for Pakistan.
Travelling through India ten years ago, Zencirci and Giovanetti decided to take a side trip to Pakistan. Fascinated by the country and its inhabitants, the duo started shooting footage for a potential documentary. “We ended up going back several times as tourists and we met several people there who made us want to make a slightly more substantial film,” Giovanetti told FRANCE 24.
One of those people was Noor. Inspired by his extraordinary story, Zencirci and Giovanetti decided to tailor their next film to his experience. “We were lucky that he immediately accepted that we would make the film,” Giovanetti said. “His desire has always been to share his story, to show what he’s been through and to listen to people’s views.”
Though Noor was raised, and never mistreated, by the Khusras, his efforts to re-integrate into mainstream Pakistani society after having belonged to the transgender community have been fraught with difficulty.
But part of what piqued his interest in the film, according to the directors, was the opportunity to show the world a different Pakistan than the country that constantly makes front-page headlines for drone strikes and terrorist attacks. Zencirci and Giovanetti, too, wanted to reveal another facet of Pakistan.
Transgender Pakistanis, ‘protected by God’
“Since the very beginning, our experience in Pakistan has not been reflective of what people read or see on TV,” Giovanetti said. “Pakistanis watch CNN. They know very well that their country has a bad image abroad, and what we liked in our film was the chance to shed light on a different aspect of the country.”
While homosexuality is still a crime in Pakistan, Khusras are a surprisingly visible, unconventionally integrated community there and throughout Central Asia. “Pakistani women are not supposed to dance in public,” Zencirci explained. “That’s why men dressed up as women replace female dancers for most public dance performances in Pakistan.”
As Giovanetti has emphasised in promotional interviews for “Noor”, Khusras are at once isolated and respected in Pakistan, particularly in the Punjab province as well as the bustling port city of Karachi in neighbouring Sindh. “It’s a very present community, because it has a specific function in society,” he told FRANCE 24. “They travel to perform at celebrations, marriages, engagement parties, ceremonies following the birth of a child. Because they’re seen as a fragile segment of society, they’re considered to be protected by God and some even believe they have magic powers.”
Playing a role based on himself in a film based on his life proved to be cathartic for Noor, who recently won the Best Actor prize at a film festival in Vancouver. “Noor used the film and the experience of shooting it to gain independence from the Khusra community,” Zencirci told FRANCE 24, adding that today Noor makes a living serving tea at a billiards club.
According to the filmmakers, Noor has gained confidence through seeing his life on the big screen. He is still looking for love, Zencirci noted, but has been talking to a young woman over the phone and hoping that something blossoms between them.
“Our fingers are crossed for him,” Zencirci said.

VIDEO REPORT: Peshawar blast leaves at least four dead

Pakistani Version Of Boko Haram: Deobandi Militants Want Girls Out Of Schools
Pakistan’s Deobandi cult eulogizes the custodian of the two holy mosques who imprisons his own daughters, thereby giving the green light to Salafi-Wahabi militants of Boko Haram in Nigeria and Deobandi Taliban in Pakistan. None of the Deobandi ulema in Pakistan even raise a small voice against this tragic enslavement of women by Deobandi and Salafi-Wahabi terrorists. It may be noted that Deobandi militants in Pakistan (operating variously as Taliban TTP and Sipah-e-Sahaba ASWJ) have destroyed hundreds of schools and atacked innocent girls (including Malala Yusufzai), however, the Salafi-Wahabi and Deobandi identity of such terrorists is often obfuscated in generic terms such as Islamists or Sunni miliants hiding the fact that Deobandis and Salafi-Wahabis have killed not only Christians but also Sunni Sufis/Barelvis and Shia Muslims.
QUETTA: An armed Deobandi group based in Panjgur, Balochistan’s western district, has threatened 23 English Language Learning Centers to shut down and stop imparting co-education and teaching in English, which they say is ‘Haram (prohibited) in Islam’. Masked armed men barged into one language center on Wednesday and threatened the teachers and the young male and female students. “Co-education and learning English language is Haram (forbidden in Islam),” they told the teachers, according to one instructor who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The armed men destroyed the school’s furniture and tore textbooks during the incident. Panjgur police have lodged an FIR against unidentified persons under the Anti Terrorism Act and security has been increased around the centers. “They also told girls who were on their way home from the English Language Center and threatened them, saying they should not go to the schools again,” SHO Panjgur police station Mohammed Murad told The Express Tribune . However, the girls say they are not cowed. “I am not scared and will go to school under all circumstances,” said one of the girls, speaking with The Express Tribune over the phone. She said the man who was threatening the girls spoke in Balochi, with a local Panjguri accent.
The men have also distributed threatening letters across Panjgur. An organization calling itself Tanzeem-ul-Islami-ul-Furqan (a Deobandi outfit) has circulated a list of those in charge of the private schools, accusing them of corrupting the minds of local girls by imparting Western education. Station House Officer (SHO) Panjgur Mohammed Murad said the organization has emerged recently.
“Private schools should stop girls’ education – both co-education and separate education,” warned the letter, adding, “We urge all van and taxi drivers to refrain from taking girls to schools. Otherwise, they will also be targeted.” “It seems there has been a spill-over of Taliban culture into Panjgur,” remarked one of the heads of the language center, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “This development comes after the recent operation against Baloch militants. It seems someone is trying to radicalize people in Panjgur,” he felt.
The English Language Learning Centers remained closed for three days after receiving the threats. Hundreds of protestors staged a sit-in in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s Office. District administration and police officials assured the protestors that they will arrange foolproof security for the centers and the schools were reopened on Tuesday. However, attendance at the schools was comparatively low.
The Panjgur and Kech regions are known as centers of learning and the ‘intellectual capital of Balochistan’.

Front-Runner in Afghanistan’s Presidential Election Forms Coalition

Abdullah Abdullah, the front-runner in Afghanistan’s presidential election campaign, announced Sunday that he had won the endorsement of Zalmay Rassoul, the third-place candidate, as part of his effort to gather enough votes to win in the next round of voting.
Together the two men’s tickets took about 55 percent of the vote in the first round of voting on April 5, but there is no guarantee that voters would vote the same way in a second round, tentatively set for June 14.
Mr. Abdullah’s camp as well as some analysts worry that a runoff could be rife with fraud and that there is more risk that it could be disrupted by the Taliban. The insurgents’ campaign of violence failed to have much impact in the first round, but the Taliban could redouble their efforts to intimidate voters in a second.
Mr. Abdullah won nearly 44 percent of the vote in the first round, followed by Ashraf Ghani with nearly 33 percent and Mr. Rassoul with 11 percent, according to the most recent count by the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan. The final results for the first round are expected later this week, according to the election commission.
Mr. Ghani, who came in second, has repeatedly said that there needs to be a runoff as mandated by the Constitution. Some commentators believe that a second round of voting would split along more ethnic lines, which could benefit Mr. Ghani, a Pashtun, since Pashtuns represent a plurality of the population.
Mr. Abdullah is most closely associated with the Tajik ethnic group and the former Northern Alliance of commanders that helped overthrow the Taliban in 2001. While both candidates have tickets that include two vice presidents, each representing other ethnic groups, it is the top of the ticket that gets the most attention when it comes to factional affiliation. Mr. Rassoul, a Pashtun, was believed to be the favored candidate of President Hamid Karzai, but Mr. Karzai was careful not to endorse anyone and kept a low profile during the campaign.
In an announcement to a packed news conference at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, Mr. Rassoul described Mr. Abdullah as “a good colleague” whom he had known for a long time and worked well with, adding that “our commitment to the people of Afghanistan is to avoid the ethnic rift.”
Wearing white shalwar kameez, Mr. Abdullah spoke fervently to the crowd, praising the first round of voting and urging them to back him.
“We campaigned in a warm environment, and today we hug each other in a warm environment,” he said. “This is our joint commitment, and we are moving forward together to the point of victory or to the point of final results — either in the first round, Inshallah,” — God willing — “or the second round.”
The outcome of the first round surprised many Afghans because Mr. Abdullah received votes from across the country, even in heavily Pashtun areas. Overall, the election garnered more interest from voters than the last presidential contest in 2009, with 50 percent more votes cast, and it was viewed as generally less fraud-ridden.
The argument by Mr. Abdullah’s backers is that with Mr. Rassoul’s support they have 55 percent of the votes cast nationwide, well above the 50 percent threshold required by the Constitution — so there is no need for a runoff. Mr. Abdullah’s team also won the endorsement of another candidate, Gul Agha Shirzai, a former provincial governor who won just 1.6 percent of the vote. However, the Afghan Constitution specifically requires a runoff between the two top vote-getters, not between coalitions the candidates form afterward.
There have been intense behind-the-scenes negotiations among the candidates since the first-round vote, with efforts focused on forming coalitions and avoiding a second round. Over the past few days, some figures who said they were from a Pashtun-dominated party, Hizb-e-Islami, said they were endorsing Mr. Ghani, the second-place candidate. Then, the leader of the political wing of the party said there had been no official endorsement yet and that those who had offered the endorsement did not represent Hizb-e-Islami’s team.
As news was breaking of Mr. Abdullah and Mr. Rassoul’s allegiance, a suicide bomber attacked an Afghan security forces convoy near a clinic on the road to the main southern military base in Kandahar, killing four civilians, including a child, and injuring 22 people, according to Zia Durani, the provincial police chief. A NATO convoy was nearby delivering aid packets but was not affected by the blast, he said.

Afghanistan: At least five dead as blood spills in Kandahar

At least five killed and dozens wounded in suicide blast in Afghanistan's Kandahar.

Pakistan: Attack on Blasphemy Accused Thwarted

The Multan Police arrested five suspected terrorists who had intentions to attack those accused of blasphemy in central prison with the help of intelligence agencies in a special operation.
Junaid Hafeez and Asia bibi are both in Central Jail, Multan whose lawyer, Rashid Rehman, was shot dead on Wednesday.
RPO Multan Range Muhammad Amin said that five terrorists have been arrested, after a brief exchange of fire from Green Town. Out of the five, four men have been recognized as Abdul Hafeez from Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Muhammad Nasir from Muzaffargarh, Ahmed Rizwan from Toba Tek Singh, Muhammad Sarfraz from Kot Addu. They are among the suspected terrorists who have links with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Qari Imran group.
The police also took into custody 30 detonators, five hand grenades and 10 boxes of explosives from their possession. They have been taken to a secret place for inquiries.
Amin told that the Multan police have found a thorough attack plan on the central prison other sensitive instalments in south Punjab.
The group planned to hit sectarian crisis, military instalments and other important buildings.
A police official said requesting secrecy that maps, blueprints and plans of surveillance on the cells of blasphemy accused, Junaid Hafeez and Aasia Bibi, were also recovered from the militants. The police therefore have warned the security of central jail.
Discretely, the 15 emergency police was told on a phone call that a bomb had been fixed inside the building of District and Sessions Courts, Multan. The whole building was emptied, which resulted in a huge traffic jam. Rescue 1122 personnel, the Bomb Disposal Squad, district administration, traffic police and the fire brigade hurled a search which continued for three hours, after that the building was declared safe. Furthermore, Police officials said they will soon seize the suspect.
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Pakistan: Qadri’s dream of Iran-like revolution can’t materialize: Wattoo
President of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Punjab, Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo has said that the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri’s dreams of Iran like revolution in Pakistan couldn’t be materialized. Talking to media persons after condoling the death of brother of renowned poet Masood Okarvi with the bereaved family here on Saturday, Manzoor Wattoo said the revolution in Iran was based on ‘Authoritarianism’ there but there exists a democratically elected government in Pakistan.
He said if agitation of chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan failed the government will continue to govern and if thumb impressions in four constituencies were proved fake, the country will move towards mid-term elections. Wattoo admitted that a large scale rigging in previous general elections was carried out but said that PPP accepted the results of polls for the sake of continuation of democracy.
He said that Imran Khan has been demanding probe in four constituencies and Election Commission should accept his justified demand.

Pakistan: Blast in Peshawar kills five, wounds 14

Five people lost their lives while eleven others were injured in an explosion at a mosque located in the Tahmas Khan Stadium near historical Shahi Bagh on Sunday here, Geo News reported. Eyewitnesses said that an armed person opened fire on the Khasadar Force personnel and later blew himself up. The injured have been shifted to the Lady reading Hospital. Security forces cordoned off the area following the attack.

Nuclear Neighbors: Pakistan Nervous About India's Likely New Leader

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is nervously watching as its huge neighbor and fellow nuclear power India gets set to elect a party feared to harbor virulently anti-Muslim views.
The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its leader Narendra Modi are widely expected to win when the results of the six-week election that ends on Monday are announced.
The fear is that the BJP will take an anti-Islamic turn both within India -- the country has a Muslim population of some 176 million -- and towards its northern neighbor, according to Pakistani politician Farahnaz Ispahani.
"It is very clear that if there is another attack like the one on Mumbai, we cannot expect restraint from someone like Narendra Modi,” Ispahani said, referring to the 2008 terrorist strike led by 10 Pakistani men that killed more than 160. The incident heightened tensions between the two countries, with some in India saying the attackers had counted on the support of officials in Pakistan's security services. Earlier, a 2001 attack on the Indian parliament that left a dozen dead, which New Delhi blamed on Pakistani militants, almost brought the two nations to the brink of war.
There is a history of hostility between the two countries since the dissolution of the British Raj in 1947 when around a million people are estimated to have died in communal violence as Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs moved to accommodate the new national borders. The largest source of ongoing tension has been the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, control of which has been disputed since the partition of the two countries. India and Pakistan fought wars over the territory in 1965 and 1999.
Controversial Modi
Modi is already a controversial figure in Pakistan because many feel he did not do enough to stop the February 2002 Hindu-Muslim clashes in the state of Gujarat that left more than 1,000 people dead and hundreds more injured, Ispahani said. Many of the victims were Muslims. A number of independent observers believe he failed, as chief minister of the state at the time, to protect his own citizens. This was a view endorsed by the U.S., which refused to grant Modi a visa for over 10 years, although officials reversed the decision earlier this year.
“He has never come out directly and said this was a tragedy of massive proportions and that the Muslims of Gujurat deserve an apology,” Ispahani said. Modi isn't the only one that makes some in Pakistan nervous. Other prominent Hindu nationalists have whipped-up anti-Pakistani sentiment, according to Dr. Farzana Shaikh, an associate fellow at British think tank Chatham House. In April, longtime Modi ally Pravin Togadia was caught on camera making anti-Islamic comments, raising questions about how an incoming BJP government would treat the country's Muslims. Inflammatory language by politicians has been a staple on both sides of the border for those looking to score easy political points, however. “They have had a very fractured relationship,” said Dr. Simona Vittorini of SOAS, University of London. “There is always controversy over who started what, but the antipathy is there.”
But Pakistan's fears stem from more than campaign-trail rhetoric. The BJP’s manifesto -- essentially, its political blueprint -- worries Pakistan’s political and military establishment. “The suggestion that the BJP would revoke Article 370 of the Indian constitution that guarantees Kashmir’s special status would obviously raise a red flag to the Pakistani’s who believe this is restricted territory and any change in status or attempt to integrate Kashmir would spell disaster,” Shaikh said. Article 370 grants special autonomous status to Kashmir, specifying that apart from defense, foreign affairs, finance and communications, India's parliament needs the state government's permission to apply other laws in the region. Any change in this status would make Pakistan nervous because they would see it as India trying to establish a greater claim on the territory, Shaikh said. “Modi has also said his party would revoke the ‘no first use’ policy in regard to nuclear weapons and that is also causing some concern in military circles,” she added. In other words, Modi might ensure that India has the right to strike first against its neighbor.
Still, many in Pakistan play down both the BJP's manifesto and the views espoused by prominent Hindu nationalists. “Modi would have to tone himself down when faced with the strategic reality of a nuclear weaponized South Asia,” according to Pakistani political commentator Ayesha Siddiqa, who added that it will take time for both sides to feel each other out. "This gives enough time for stakeholders on both sides," she said. "Or to put it another way, we will think about it when it comes to crossing the bridge."

Disease of Pakistan’s Poor Now Worries the Affluent

Until recently, polio was considered a poor man’s problem in Pakistan — a crippling virus that festered in the mountainous tribal belt, traversed the country on interprovincial buses, and spread via infected children who played in the open sewers of sprawling slums.
But since the World Health Organization declared a polio emergency here last week — identifying Pakistan, Syria and Cameroon as the world’s main reservoirs of the virus — the disease has become an urgent concern of the wealthy, too.
A W.H.O. recommendation that travelers not leave Pakistan without a polio vaccination certificate has caused confusion. Doctors, clinics and hospitals have been inundated with inquiries. The association of travel agents has reported “panic” among air travel customers.
Sakhina, a 3-year-old girl from Kabul, has contracted polio, the first confirmed case in the capital in 12 years. Her family previously lived in Pakistan and her father is a taxi driver who travels frequently to the tribal areas.Polio’s Return After Near Eradication Prompts a Global Health Warning MAY 5, 2014
“It’s very worrisome,” said Mohammad Akbar Khan, a passenger at the Karachi airport on Thursday, as his family clustered around a desk on the departures concourse normally used to immunize infants. “We just found out about this on the news, and we’re trying to find out what to do.”
The government, which is scrambling to meet the W.H.O. requirement, says it needs two weeks to make arrangements at airports and buy more vaccines. But to most Pakistanis, it is a jolting reminder of the gravity of a crisis that has been quietly building for years, and which is now, according to the W.H.O., spilling into other countries, threatening to undo decades of efforts to eradicate polio across the globe.
Despite years of multimillion-dollar immunization campaigns, led by the government and international organizations, this year Pakistan reported 59 new polio cases, by far the most of any country. The W.H.O. had reported only 68 cases worldwide as of April 30.
Instability is driving the crisis. The Taliban, which had long opposed the vaccinations as part of what its leaders said was a Jewish conspiracy, has stymied immunization efforts in the northwest and the tribal belt, where infection rates are highest. The Taliban have forbidden vaccinations in North Waziristan for years, and killed vaccination teams in other areas.
Suspicions among the Taliban and others that the vaccination campaign was an espionage effort gained currency after 2011, when a covert, C.I.A.-financed vaccination campaign used to try to find Osama bin Laden came to light.
The sense of urgency that has gripped health professionals for years, however, was largely absent among the upper class, who have had limited exposure to polio. “There was a total disconnect” in society about the problem, said Dr. Anita Zaidi, a pediatric infectious diseases expert and a member of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group.
Some of the highest refusal rates for polio vaccination were recorded in wealthy Karachi neighborhoods, where residents had little faith in public health care, Dr. Zaidi said, citing a 2011 study. Now, the vaccination requirement has drawn an ambivalent response from the wealthy.
Ibrahim Shamsi, a textile exporter who intends to travel to Canada, called it “a lot of botheration.” He said, “I’m sure I was vaccinated as a child so I don’t know why I need to do it now.” Seher Naveed, an artist with travel plans for Berlin and Amsterdam, said she was worried that the vaccine could have an adverse effect on adults.
In Lahore, Pakistan’s second largest city, residents of the wealthy Gulberg neighborhood also expressed unease about the new requirements. Jameel Ahmed, a businessman, said he was embarrassed to have to take a vaccination at the age of 57.
A woman who gave her name as Mrs. Ahsan said the restrictions were discriminatory and unfair. “We have been singled out in the world,” she said. For some experts, the worry is that immunizing all travelers will divert scarce resources from efforts to fight polio where it is most prevalent. Dr. Zulfiqar A. Bhutta of the Center for Excellence in Women and Child Health at Karachi’s Aga Khan University, said the W.H.O. travel advisory was “unfortunate,” and would foster an erroneous sense that polio is a universal problem in Pakistan.
“It’s not — it’s a geographic problem, and this will take the pressure off the hot spots,” he said.
One such hot spot is on the edge of Karachi where, on a desolate stretch of road at the city gates, the fight against polio is being fought bus by bus.
Buses filled with ethnic Pashtuns, fleeing poverty or conflict in the northwest, enter the city every day; some are unwittingly carrying the polio virus from areas where infection rates are highest, W.H.O. officials say.
On Friday morning a team of eight government health workers, clad in bright yellow jackets and blue caps, boarded passenger buses as they entered the city, administering the vaccine to children under the age of 5. One vaccinator, Nadir Ali, wove through the crowded aisles with a box filled with vaccines. Children bawled in protest, and passengers looked bemused. “Shh,” one mother said to her crying baby. “You’ve gotten the drops, now quiet.”
Every day Mr. Ali and his fellow vaccinators, who are paid $2.50 a day, immunize at least 2,800 children. Some eight million children were immunized at 10 such transit points across the country in 2013, in a program that is partly financed by Rotary International and supported by the W.H.O. “Terrorists may want to destroy Pakistan, but this virus is destroying our nation,” Mr. Ali said.
Karachi’s importance in this battle stems from its position as a trade and transit hub, which facilitates the movement of migrants, travelers and, more recently, the polio virus.
“Karachi acts not only as a reservoir for the disease, but also as an amplifier,” said Dr. Zubair Mufti, the national coordinator for the W.H.O.’s polio campaign.
Efforts to banish polio from the city have also been hurt by the growing Taliban presence in ethnic Pashtun neighborhoods. There have been several militant attacks on polio vaccination teams since the first in July 2012; over the same period reported cases of polio — a disease that can be carried by adults but mostly strikes infant children — have steadily risen. Eight cases were reported in 2013; so far this year the figure is four.
The latest Taliban attack in Qayumabad, an area close to the upscale Defense neighborhood, on Jan. 21 resulted in the death of three female health workers.
One Pakistani Taliban militant, who identified himself as Gul, said in an interview that his group had attacked two polio teams in Karachi in 2012 because “they were trying to find the hide-outs of our leaders in these areas.” But some experts say the bin Laden factor has been overstated, noting that the Taliban started to target polio workers long before the American commando raid that killed the Al Qaeda leader.
“The Taliban in North Waziristan didn’t stop the campaign because of Shakil Afridi, they did it for political reasons,” said Dr. Bhutta, referring to the Pakistani doctor hired by the C.I.A. to run the vaccination campaign in 2011. “And they’ve done themselves and the country a lot of damage.”
But for Mr. Ali, the immunizer jumping between buses outside Karachi, the most immediate problem is persuading reluctant parents. Some passengers offered up their children enthusiastically for immunization; others were cajoled into compliance by fellow passengers or even bus drivers.
But one mother, on a bus from Bahawalpur in Punjab Province, staunchly refused his entreaties to immunize her baby son.
“The vaccination is necessary against the virus. There are no side effects,” he pleaded.
“I’m his mother,” said the woman firmly.
Mr. Ali shrugged and retreated.

PAKISTAN: Rashid Rehman - the Punjab government is conspicuously avoiding an investigation into his brutal murder

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received further information regarding the high profile and brutal assassination of the well known and respected human rights activist and lawyer, Rashid Rehman Khan. The government of Punjab has totally ignored the murder of a human rights defender and has not initiated any action that might lead to the arrest of the persons who threatened him. The district police of Multan have not filed a case against the killers whose names were mentioned by the deceased himself in a application to the district police officer in which he mentioned that if any harm comes to him the three persons named would be responsible. The police have not initiated any investigation into the case of the murder filed by the victim’s cousin. Nor have they contacted the three persons who threatened the victim before the judge that he would, “Not exist anymore”, if he continued to defend a university lecturer accused of blasphemy. It is alleged that the Federal Secretary of Law, Government of Pakistan, is the person who is creating hurdles for the investigation in order to save his cousin, Sajjad Chawan, a former Session Court judge, who was among the three persons who threatened the victim. The lawyers of the Multan High Court have received letters warning them they should not defend the case of any blasphemer otherwise they will face the same fate as that of Mr. Rehman.

Tribute to Benazir Bhutto by Bakhtawar Bhutto (song)

tribute to benazir bhutto by bakhtawar bhutto... by dm_5131d330eeda9