Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Beyoncé - Drunk in Love (Explicit) ft. JAY Z

Of course the French have better sex if our idea of sex is limited to men's ideals

Jessica Valenti
There's really nothing like a conversation with someone who doesn't live here to make you remember how puritanical America is when it comes to sexuality – and women's pleasure, specifically. In a pretty wonderful exchange between New York magazine's Maureen O'Connor and French GQ sex columnist Maia Mazaurette, the women take on first dates ("There is no first date. There is just first sex"), open relationships and sex toys. Short version: I'll see you all in Paris.
Mazaurette seems genuinely baffled by the curious coupling of American prudishness and male-centric sex: she worries that any American man she might date would think she was a "slut" based on French norms, and she doesn't understand why American women give unreciprocated blow jobs. "I don't pleasure in my mouth. It's very mysterious to me, why an American woman would do that," she told O'Connor.
Well, to start – it doesn't help that the defining porno of all time is about a woman who has a clitoris in the back of her throat.
Jokes aside, there is something seriously wrong with sexuality in America. Women are simultaneously told that we need to be as desirable as possible and that, if we're too sexual, we're "sluts". In this theory, there's some sort of magical middle ground where we have enough sexual contact to lock a man down, but not enough to make him cringe at the idea of marrying us. (In this model, by the way, all women are straight and only have enough sex to get a guy to put a ring on it. Because, sex – ick!)
In the meantime, women are hypersexualized everywhere from advertisements to music, but – with only a few exceptions – women's enjoyment of sex is either non-existent or completely dependent on what men like to see. We're so accustomed to a male vision of female sexuality, it's hard to imagine what authentic and organic female pleasure would look like.
The one area in which American women seem to have a leg up (sorry) on the French ... is masturbation. Mazaurette says, "We tend to think that porn and masturbation are things you do when you don't have any other choice. It means you failed in your relationship or your love life."
I will begrudgingly take nationwide masturbation acceptance over nothing, but O'Connor and Mazaurette's conversation is a candid reminder of how far we still have to go before a true vision of female sexual pleasure here in the States. Until we grapple with that gap – and the oh-so-radical notion that women actually like sex when it isn't all about BJs and porn - we'll be far behind the French on everything from this to how to "not get fat" and how to raise our bébés. Merde.

Girls everywhere need protecting from Islamists
By Allison Pearson
If 300 American cheerleaders had been abducted by religious fanatics, World War Three would have started last Tuesday
It was like a scene from a movie, except there was no Iron Man swooping to the rescue. More than a hundred girls sitting in a clearing, chanting the Koran. Their eyes downcast, the girls were swathed in ghostly grey and black hijabs. Their captors said this was evidence that they had “converted to Islam”, but their fear was palpable. They held themselves unnaturally still, as though to move would mean death.
Many of the girls were abducted on April 14 from a school in northern Nigeria, which means they have had less than a month to memorise those Koranic verses, or at least to have the chants beaten into them. More than half of the 276 stolen girls were missing from the terrorists’ video. Among them were Rebeccas and Esthers and Ruths – lovely, strong Biblical names. One girl was led to the front and told to give a Muslim name, not her Christian one. You wondered about her missing sisters and whether they had displeased their captors by refusing to surrender either their name or their faith.
“These girls you occupy yourselves with… we have indeed liberated them. These girls have become Muslims,” jeered Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram. He addresses the camera as if he were straight out of Evil Villain school. With his silly pointy orange cap and his cock-of-the-walk preening, this gun-toting braggart would be a ludicrous figure were it not for the fact that he holds the lives of all those terrified teenagers in his hands.
“I wondered how many of those girls he’d raped,” said a friend. Me too. Abubakar Shekau makes Idi Amin look sane.
At least you can’t accuse Boko Haram’s leader of ambiguity. “I took the girls and I will sell them off. We are against Western education and I say stop Western education. There is a market for selling girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” he promised.

#BringBackOurGirls: The coalition against Boko Haram

The fight against the Boko Haram insurgency in the country received a boost last week as America, the United Kingdom, China, Israel, France and some other countries offered to help the country with the effort to res­cue the over 200 girls abducted from the Chibok Secondary School in Borno State on April 14. Already, some American and British security experts are in the country to discuss the modalities for their inter­vention, while Israel, through its Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, told Presi­dent Goodluck Jonathan last Sunday that a team of Israeli experts will soon arrive in Nigeria to work with their American, Brit­ish and Nigerian counterparts to intensify the search for the girls.
These offers of help give real hope of a rescue of the abducted girls and respite from the onslaught of Boko Haram insur­gents, which has claimed no fewer than 4,000 lives, injured many more and de­stroyed thousands of houses, schools, markets, churches and mosques, since it began a few years ago. Though these offers seem long in com­ing, the worldwide outrage that greeted the abduction of the Chibok girls became the trigger that jolted the countries to the realisation that the atrocities of the sect had gone on for too long.
The help from the US government will include a team of technical experts comprising American military and law enforcement personnel skilled in intel­ligence, investigations, hostage negotiat­ing, information sharing and victim assis­tance, as well as officials with expertise in other areas. The military members will help with communications, logistics and intelligence planning.
The British Prime Minister, David Cam­eron, promised the deployment of British Satellite Imaging capabilities and other advanced tracking technologies, in sup­port of our ongoing effort to locate and rescue the missing students. China’s Pre­mier Li Keqiang promised that his coun­try would make any useful information acquired by its satellites and intelligence services available to Nigeria’s security agencies. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has been reported to have intensified collaboration with the Nigerian Federal Government, while the United Nations (UN) demanded an immediate release of the girls.
We welcome the international collabo­ration on this rescue effort. The accep­tance of help from foreign countries on this critical mission is a wise step by the Nigerian authorities. It is not in any way an expression of lack of confidence in the capability of the Nigerian armed forces and other security agencies. It only sug­gests that the Boko Haram insurgency is a problem that needs every hand on deck to resolve.
Nigeria has always been a dependable ally in international efforts to secure the world through participation in interna­tional peacekeeping missions, so the of­fers of help from world leaders to deal with the Boko Haram menace, especially over the despicable abduction of our girls, is not totally unexpected.
What the nation needs now, therefore, is total cooperation with the forces from the countries that have offered to help so that we can quickly rescue these girls and end the insurgency in the country.
We urge both the military and civilian populace to collaborate with our foreign friends and share intelligence. There must be mutual trust among all parties con­cerned if Nigeria is to get out of this quag­mire.
We must also not neglect to engage Cameroun, Niger and Chad, with which we share borders, in the effort to rescue the girls and end terrorism. There is bound to be misinformation, rumours and exagger­ations of activities of the foreign forces that are in Nigeria. There must be a coor­dinated effort to manage information so that no exercise is misrepresented or tak­en out of context. Both the states and the federal government should ensure that no effort is spared to prevent propagandists from hijacking this international interven­tion.
It is important to state that without ab­solute cooperation of both our security agencies and our civilian population, all the gadgets, intelligence and strategies that are about to be introduced into this war will be futile. This international help we have got is neither a hypodermic needle nor a magic wand with which we can wish Boko Haram away. We must, therefore, do everything that is necessary to support this initiative and untie the Gordian knot of terrorism in the country.
As a people, we need to move beyond vitriols, blame games and finger point­ing. This is the time to close ranks and join hands to retrieve these girls, and our national reputation that has been sub­jected to unprecedented bashing in both the local and foreign media. Whatever evil walls insurgents have erected to divide the country can only be brought down by our collective determination and concert­ed effort to wrest our country from their stranglehold.
Let us put all political and religious sen­timents aside to make this intervention work. Anything other than this will amount to crass ingratitude to the rest of the world that has risen to defend our country and help us rest the menace of insurgency in the country.


By Bhaskar Roy
China’s stated position remains that it does not interfere in the internal affairs of another country. Therefore, no comments have come from the Chinese government on the Indian general elections. To project their preference of a new government in India, the Chinese authorities are using the state controlled media.
The official English language daily Global Times (May 05) suggested that BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s victory could cause disquiet in the west. It reminded readers that western countries like the US had imposed sanctions against Mr. Modi for his alleged role in the communal riots of Gujarat in 2002, and the US still refuses to issue a visa to Modi.
The article went on to say that in its manifesto the BJP promises a multilateral diplomacy and the establishment of a “web of allies” to further India’s best national interest, which steers away from a tilt towards the US held by India in diplomacy in the past decades. This, according to the article, had caused worries in the west.
In the article’s opinion western countries like the US hope to use India to counterbalance China, but they do not support India on issues of the country’s “core interests”. In this context the article blamed US monetary policy for the devaluation of the Indian rupee and flight of capital from India. It also cited non-inclusion of India in the US sponsored Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The article proceeds to throw more doubt on the intentions of the US and the west, and projects an India-China-Russia cooperative mechanism to counter western pressure.
The article saw Narendra Modi as a strong leader of India who can build the country into a challenger to the west economically and politically. But it added some caution, saying it has been a policy of India to offset the negative effects of China’s rise by enhancing strategic cooperation with countries around China. The article did not see much change in this policy but also did not view Narendra Modi aggressively pursuing this line as prime minister.
The author of this article, Liu Zongyi is a research fellow at the premier Shanghai Institute for International Studies. This gives more weight to the article which appears to be a probe. Chinese President Xi Jinping is tentatively scheduled to visit India in September/October this year. Indians can be assured that Xi will visit at least two other countries of the Indian subcontinent. Pakistan may be one of them, though Premier Li Keqiang went to Pakistan last year after visiting India.
Chinese top leaders especially the president and the premier never make an “India only” visit to the subcontinent, and India may not figure on their itinerary during their other visits to the region. The visits are constructed to assure other countries of the subcontinent that in China’s foreign policy India does not figure as more important than them. Pakistan, of course, is a special case of “all weather friendship” which China will not jeopardize in any way.
Although the Chinese are acquainted with Narendra Modi (Modi visited China a few times), they have not got a measure of his ideology, politics and latent foreign policy. One thing that everyone agrees upon is that he is a very determined person and is not afraid to call a spade a spade.
The Chinese have dealt with the UPA government led by Dr. Manmohan Singh for a decade. In his second term as Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh seemed weak and indecisive especially when dealing with China and Pakistan. Characteristically, Narendra Modi is very different from Dr. Singh. The Chinese wonder whether Mr. Modi’s approach in domestic politics will be reflected in his foreign policy. During a visit to North-East India in the course of his poll campaign Mr. Modi declared that the Chinese should not think in terms of expansionism- a remark not missed by the Chinese. The reference to China’s claims on Arunachal Pradesh and the western sector of the India-China border was clear.
The Chinese would be encouraged by Mr. Modi’s economic thought. He wants development. Here the Chinese hope to play a significant part especially in large infrastructural projects. They are likely to offer investment in such projects, all their heavy machinery and bring in as many Chinese workers as possible. If given an open door they may try to repeat the kind of exploitative policy they are practicing in African countries. This is an economic trap that India must not fall into.
The other issue is the Chinese interest in the informatics area. The Chinese are very advanced here, second only to the USA, especially in cyber warfare. This is a very sensitive area and any unguarded access to a foreign entity must be viewed with extreme caution. It may be recalled how the net virus Stuxnet allegedly developed by the US and Israel attacked an Iranian nuclear facility in 2012.
The third economic aspect is the bilateral trade imbalance. Bilateral trade reached a record high of $ 74 billion in 2011. It slipped to $ 65.47 billion in 2013. India’s trade deficit with China reached another high of $ 31.4 billion. The peculiarity of this bilateral trade pattern is that the main export of India to China is iron ore, a non-renewable natural resource which China needs for its growth. On the other hand, China has been dumping poor quality consumer goods in India, while stalling India’s exports like pharmaceuticals and software. There are a lot of problems in this sector which need to be resolved urgently.
The border issue can be kept aside for now. The Chinese want a stable, undisturbed border with India but no forward movement towards resolution. This would serve India well too.
Although Beijing is loath to admit it, the mandarins in Zhongnanhai are forced to admit that India’s position could be very important if not critical in the volatile affairs of East China Sea and South China Sea. For several years now China has been concerned with India’s relations with the US and, more recently with Japan. It still sees India joining hands with the US and Japan to counter China within the realm of possibility. Such suspicion was reinforced with US-India defence exchanges and growing acquisitions, a new initiative brought by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Asia, and India’s Look East policy.
Evidence suggests that China may have accelerated its moves to actively put its claims on the South China Sea into action. The recent establishment of an oil rig in South China Sea in an area claimed by both Vietnam and China led to a small clash. The Indian oil and gas company OVL Videsh Ltd is also engaged in drilling work in contract with Vietnam in the South China Sea.
In a larger perspective, China claims 85 per cent of the South China Sea and has made this a core interest. Chinese claims are increasingly tending towards the use of military power. India has major interest in having the lanes of the South China Sea open for trade and other purposes. Therefore, clash of interest and use of global commons may come up with India.
Beijing would like to come to some understanding with India on the South China Sea issue. An independent foreign policy pursued by India therefore will be preferable to China than India joining with other interested parties including the USA and Japan. The situation in the South China Sea is particularly disturbing. India would have to be prepared for reactions to different scenarios that may come up.

China: Burning nationalism cornering Hanoi

Vietnam's anti-China protests have turned into turmoil since Tuesday. Companies and investment projects from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan and other Asian countries and regions have been affected. It was reported that Taiwan investors suffered the greatest loss.
This is the most serious riot since Vietnam reunited, and the most stunning attack and looting foreign businesses in East Asia in recent years. Street politics in some Asian countries in recent years have caused havoc for social order and business, but few were like that in Vietnam, which deliberately targeted industrial parks and factories. Workers even ransacked their own factories.
Authorities from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan as well as other countries and regions such as Singapore have lodged stern protests with the Vietnamese government. Some international media, shocked by the chaos, called Vietnam an anarchy-dominated country of burning nationalism.
The turmoil is the outcome of Hanoi's years of anti-China propaganda. Without legitimate grounds and practical capability, Vietnam fabricates and hypes up its jurisdiction over the Xisha and Nansha Islands. This uncompromising stance, in an attempt to bring its people together, has actually cornered itself.
The rising turmoil in Vietnam has jeopardized the interests of foreign investors. Vietnam is probably no longer a rich land for investment and business, but a pariah in the eyes of these investors, especially East Asian investors. Vietnam is making a fool of itself, showing how uncertain its market is.
Vietnam has to offer compensation for the losses incurred to foreign investors, who will not allow Hanoi to duck its responsibilities. Otherwise Vietnam will pay an additional political price.
When large scale anti-Japan demonstrations broke out in China, wherever vandalism took place there was much less damage caused by the Chinese protestors, and public opinion urged prompt reflection.
The Chinese government and mainstream society were clear in their attitude against violence in demonstrations and the vandals were pursued according to the law.
But violent demonstrators in Vietnam, starting Tuesday, were obviously indulged by Hanoi. The situation was still out of control a day later. There was no collective condemnation of the violence by local media.
Arrogance makes Hanoi misjudge the situation in the Asia-Pacific. The geopolitics of the South China Sea will not be easily changed by its harassment.
It's time that Hanoi sober up, or those looters will finally make the whole country suffer. Hanoi's over-tolerance must not test China's patience beyond the limit.

Sept. 11 Memorial Museum prepares for opening

President Obama Discusses Infrastructure Investment Near The Tappan Zee Bridge

Bill Clinton Says Wife's Health Is Great

By Peter Nicholas and Damian Paletta
Former President Bill Clinton said his wife is strong and "doing great" after her health scare two years ago, while accusing political operative Karl Rove and other Republicans of trying to gain political advantage by raising questions about her health.
Mr. Clinton, speaking at a forum on budget issues Wednesday in Washington, also offered some fresh insights into the December 2012 incident, saying that Hillary Clinton suffered a "terrible concussion" that entailed "six months of very serious work" toward recovery. He described her as in good condition now, partly due to regular workouts.
"Look, she works out every week. She is strong; she is doing great," he added. "As far as I can tell, she is in better shape than I am. She certainly seems to have more stamina now."
Doctors found a blood clot between Mrs. Clinton's skull and brain two years ago, after she fell and suffered a concussion.
On a day when her health was much in the news, Mrs. Clinton, 66 years old, steered clear of the fight. She gave a speech in Washington to the American Jewish Committee that summarized her record as secretary of state and made no mention of her health.
After a long stretch during which Mrs. Clinton's health garnered little attention, Mr. Rove thrust the issue back into the spotlight by describing her health scare as a "traumatic brain injury," according to one person who heard his remarks.
He made those comments during a paid speaking engagement in California last week, according to the person in attendance. Mr. Rove's willingness to speculate on Mrs. Clinton's health suggests that Republicans might use the health scare to paint Mrs. Clinton as unfit to serve.
Mr. Clinton's remarks came in response to a question from the moderator. For Democrats, prolonging the discussion about Mrs. Clinton's health has little upside, as that would play into GOP efforts to shift the conversation to her age and health.
Mrs. Clinton is still weighing a presidential bid. Should she enter the 2016 race, she would be the overwhelming front-runner for the Democratic nomination, polling shows.
In an interview this week with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Rove said he couldn't recall using the term "traumatic brain injury" but added: "It would have been appropriate to say she had some kind of traumatic brain episode or incident."
Asked about the basis for his assertions, Mr. Rove said he has no access to Mrs. Clinton's medical files and knows only what he has read of her condition in newspapers. Mr. Rove is a regular contributor to the Journal's editorial pages.
A colleague of Mr. Rove's in George W. Bush's White House, Nicolle Wallace, said that Mr. Rove isn't careless in his actions and no doubt wanted the news media and others to focus more squarely on Mrs. Clinton's health scare.
"To the degree that this was a deliberate introduction of these issues into the political water supply, he has introduced the topic effectively, " Ms. Wallace said in an interview. She added: "He's done so at great cost to his own reputation, because people on both sides of the aisle have been incredibly harsh" about Mr. Rove's decision to raise the issue.
Still, she said, Mrs. Clinton won't be able to dodge questions about her health should she run, Ms. Wallace said.
"The notion that she could run for the nomination of her party without sharing incredibly uncomfortable, intimate details about her health is ridiculous," Ms. Wallace said.
For their part, Mrs. Clinton's staff this week described her as "100%" and cast questions about her health as politically motivated. Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, said in a statement: "From the moment this happened seventeen months ago, the Right has politicized her health. First, they accused her of faking it, now they've resorted to the other extreme--and are flat out lying." Mr. Clinton made a similar point in his remarks. After the concussion, Mrs. Clinton's scheduled appearance at congressional hearings devoted to the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, that had killed four Americans several months earlier were postponed. Some Republicans questioned whether she was truly ill or looking for a way to avoid the hearings.
"First they said she faked her concussion, and now they say she is auditioning for a part on 'The Walking Dead,' " Mr. Clinton said, referencing a popular television show about people trying to survive a zombie apocalypse.
In her speech Wednesday, Mrs. Clinton also plugged her new book, "Hard Choices," which is coming out next month. She quipped the book is a "light summer read" suited to the beach. In the course of her remarks she used the phrase "hard choice" or "hard choices" a dozen times.
Mrs. Clinton also discussed her efforts to impose sanctions on Iran aimed at rolling back the country's nuclear program. She voiced doubt, though, that negotiations between Iran and the West will succeed.
"I personally am skeptical that the Iranians will follow through and deliver," Mrs. Clinton said. "I've seen many false hopes dashed over the years."

Saudi Arabia supports Iraq’s extremists: Analyst

Saudi Arabia is supporting extremist terrorist groups in Iraq in an attempt to destabilize the country, a political analyst tells Press TV.
“Now the perpetrators [of crimes in Iraq] are the al-Qaeda and also the remnants of the Baathist regime, but the driving force behind this continuous, relentless campaign is actually the Saudi regime,” Zayd al-Isa, Middle East expert from London, said in an interview with Press TV on Wednesday.
The analyst pointed to recent remarks by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who said that Saudi Arabia and Qatar are responsible for the security crisis and growing terrorism in his country.
“Iraqi Prime Minister had acknowledged and confirmed that the principal backers of the sectarian crisis, security crisis and all the financing, arming, logistical support and media support has been coming from the Saudi regime, which has put its money where its mouth is,” he added.
Al-Isa further noted that Riyadh aims to “discredit, derail, destabilize and…dismantle the political process in Iraq.”
He said Saudi Arabia perceives Iraq “as the main…existential threat by inspiring and emboldening its (Saudi) people who are suffering from the West tyrannical dictatorship.”
On Tuesday, over 20 people were killed in a series of car bomb blasts in the Shia-majority areas of Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
The country is currently witnessing a wave of attacks unprecedented in recent years.
Based on official figures, over 1,000 people mostly civilians lost their lives in attacks across Iraq in April.

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Ukraine blocks key Crimean water supply

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European jihadists use Turkey as transit country

For years now, European fighters traveling to Syria have been a concern for the EU. Turkey has become the preferred transit route for jihadists heading to the Middle East, a circumstance the EU hopes to change.
Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria, neighboring Turkey has been a shelter for but also an important transit country for young Islamists on their way to fight “Holy War”. It is estimated that between 2,000 and 5,500 European jihadists are fighting in Syria and Turkey has been criticized for not doing enough to prevent them from traveling to Syria. In a report from October 2013 the human rights organization Human Rights Watch accused Turkish authorities of allowing fighters to enter northern Syria to join the fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In addition, the report stated that fighters had received medical care in Turkey and that Turkey had delivered money and weapons to the fighters.
'The EU has to prevent them from departing'
The Turkish government has rejected these accusations. The Turkish Minister for Customs and Trade, Hayati Yazici, said in an interview with the “Hürriyet” newspaper that “European countries let jihadists depart to Turkey and then they demand from Turkey that it should hinder them on entering Syria.” That was not acceptable, he said, adding that EU countries should prevent them from departing in the first place. According to Turkish media reports, more than 4,000 people have been refused entry into Turkey because they were considered to be radical Islamists. And according to a Turkish government report, 1,100 Europeans have been arrested in Turkey and then deported as alleged Islamists to the home countries. The Turkish newspaper “Habertürk” wrote that they are mainly from Germany, Belgium, France and the Netherlands.
Foreign jihadists use human traffickers
“European jihadists with a British passport don't need a visa and when they are at the Turkish border they can easily enter Turkey. A regular Turkish border official can't find out if someone is a terrorist or not,” said Osman Bahadir Dincer, a political scientist with the International Strategic Research Organization, USAK, in Ankara. “The EU has to take action to hold suspects before their departure. That is not Turkey's job,” said Dincer.
Within the research project “Limits of Hospitality” he frequently travels to the Syrian-Turkish border to observe the stream of Syrian refugees. “The border is 900 kilometers long [558 miles] and it is difficult for Turkey to examine every single centimeter,” Dincer said, pointing out that foreign jihadists frequently use human traffickers to illegally cross the border. “There are many human traffickers at the Turkish-Syrian border. They bring people in and out of Syria,” he said.
Furthermore, a few hundred to few thousands Syrian refugees cross the border to Turkey every day. “Some of them have no passport or other official papers and illegally enter Turkey with the help of human traffickers. There, we also don't know if they are members of a radical group, or if they are just normal refugees. They are always entitled to return to Syria,” said the political scientist. It is not known if they get radical battle training in Syria and then return to Turkey as refugees. “Security at the border is a huge problem for Turkey,” he noted.
Deportation not the solution
Secil Pacaci Elitok, migration expert at Sabanci University in Istanbul, says that no country can be blamed for the entering and leaving of jihadists. “Turkey has a no-visa policy with Syria. Therefore, the border is open. Turkey has the same policy with many other countries in the Middle-East,” she said in interview with DW.
Turkey can't close its borders with Syria because of the many refugees who cross the border from Syria. “But the EU has left Turkey alone with the Syrian refugee problem and therefore it is inappropriate to complain that Turkey is not careful enough. We need a division of labor,” said the expert.
The deportation of jihadists will also not solve the problem, according to Elitok, because it is not a classic migration problem which can be resolved by deportation and immigration regulations.
“You have to tackle the main cause of the jihadist movement,” she said and that is not in Turkey. “The foreign jihadists are a problem for Turkey and for the whole world,” said political researcher Osman Bahadir Dincer. Jihadists from the West who travel to Syria to fight there become ideologically radicalized and receive fight training, he emphasized. They will return to their home countries when the war in Syria is over, he said, and then they will become a huge problem for the rest of us.

Turks express anger and anguish after mining disaster

Protesters are venting their anguish as the death toll from the mining disaster in Turkey soars beyond 200 lives lost. Hope is fading that workers still trapped in the mine will be rescued alive.
A group of protesters in the western Turkish city of Soma, yelled "murderer" and "thief" at Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogen on Wednesday when he visited the site of Tuesday's mining disaster. There were also calls for his government to step down.
Large crowds had gathered outside the mine, which collapsed following an explosion Tuesday with 787 workers inside. While 363 managed to escape the mine alive, at least 238 people had been killed, Erdogan said during his visit to Soma. Around 120 miners remain trapped inside.
"Our hope is that, God willing, they will be brought out," Erdogan said. "That is what we are waiting for." Energy Minister Taner Yildiz was less optimistic in comments given earlier on Wednesday, saying that "our hopes are diminishing" for the rescue operation.
Carbon monoxide
It is suspected that many of the workers were killed quickly after the explosion due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Continuing fires and the further risk of carbon monoxide hampered rescuers' efforts to reach the trapped miners. In the Turkish capital Ankara, a group of mostly students was pushed back by police using tear gas and water cannons as they planned to march on the energy ministry to protest what they called negligence by the government and the mining industry.
Lack of oversight?
Mining accidents are not unheard of in Turkey, which has been critisised in the past for its lack of oversight of worker safety. A report from March by Turkey's statistics agency cited by the news agency AP indicated that around 10 percent of all work accidents in Turkey relate to mining.
A deadly mining accident in 1992 near the Black Sea claimed 263 lives, and poor safety regulations have contributed to several more deadly incidents.
Turkey has not ratified the International Labor Organization's convention concerning safety and health in mines, which was drafted in 1998.

Turkey:Clashes in Ankara as police use tear gas to prevent students’ protest march to ministry

Police fired tear gas and used water cannons to prevent a group of students from marching to the Energy Ministry in Ankara to protest the Soma mine disaster May 14, which killed at least 238 people.
Around 800 students had gathered inside the campus of the Middle Eastern Technical University (ODTÜ) to denounce the disaster. But the police did not allow them to march outside of the campus, blocking the exit after the intervention.
According to reports, police taunted the protesters from megaphones during the intervention. “You should feel proud of what you are doing when a national mourning has been declared,” police officers reportedly said. Three days of mourning had been announced earlier on May 14 in memory of the victims.
Meanwhile, a number of unions and organizations have made several calls for protests for the coming days. Unions, including the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK), the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK) and the Chamber of Architects and Engineers’ (TMMOB) have called for a work stoppage with three minutes of silence at 9 am on May 15. In joint statements, the groups also asked their members to wear black clothes in memory of the victims.
In Istanbul, a group of youths held a protest in front of the operator company’s headquarters, writing “Murderers” on its wall.
The group also staged a sit-in protest in the garden of the Soma Coal Mining Company, holding placards that read “This building rises out of the blood of the workers” and “They didn’t die beautifully. This is murder, not fate.” Separately, some 10-15 people lay on the floor of the Istanbul metro at Taksim station to represent the deaths at the mine.
Other protests have been planned around the country during the day and into the evening.

Protests Break Out in Turkey as Death Toll from Mine Explosion Rises
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has visited the coal mine where a horrific explosion and fire killed and injured hundreds of worker yesterday, announcing that the death toll from the accident is now at 232. A total of 190 workers are still unaccounted for, and Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said that hopes of their rescue "are diminishing."
The Associated Press reports that the explosion occurred during a shift change, meaning that more workers were in the mine than usual. Last night, Reuters noted that the explosion was likely caused by an electrical fault. The blast triggered a power outage that prevented elevators from running, leaving the workers trapped in the carbon-monoxide filled mine. It wasn't clear at the time whether the fire was caused by an unrelated incident. Altogether, there were 787 people in the mine at the time of the explosion. So far, 363 have been rescued. Erdogan declared three days of mourning for the dead today. But the gesture is a small one in a country where mining accidents are not uncommon, and the public is responding to the event with anger towards the government, planning protests and strikes to mark the event:
Turkey has seen a number of protests against the government since last year, when people demonstrated against the razing of a symbolic park in Istanbul. Those rallies soon became broader, taking issue with Erdogan's often oppressive policies. Now, it seems, the mining tragedy could spark a resurgence of such protests:
Meanwhile, relatives of those still trapped inside the mine are waiting anxiously for news, per Agence-France Presse:
Outside the hospital in the Turkish town of Soma, relatives waited through the night behind a double police cordon as the death toll of a blast at the nearby coal pit soared above 200 and bereaved the entire town... "I'm waiting," said Zulfer Yildirim... "Gunduz left for work this morning as he always does. We heard at about 5:00 pm and now it's 3:00 am, still no news," she said. The country's most fatal mining accident happened in 1992, when an explosion killed 263 workers.

Turkey: Analysis: Gov’t ignored warnings, miners paid the bill with their lives

The death toll from the coal mine blast in Soma, western Turkey, is now at least 201, according to Energy Minister Taner Yıldız as this piece was being written in the morning hours of May 14.
Turkey is in deep grief.
Yıldız is “afraid” that there will be more causalities, as there were nearly 800 “estimated” miners trapped in the pit after the May 13 afternoon explosion.
No, the minister has not resigned yet.
Yes, he was the one who visited the Soma mine nine months ago, praising the quality of safety measures and levels of technology, produced in Turkey, in the pits of Soma Mining, which is owned by Ali Gürkan. In a 2012 interview, Gürkan said the company had managed to drop the cost of coal to $24 per ton from $130 before privatization by simply manufacturing the electric transformers themselves instead of importing them, among other measures such as hiring subcontractors for hard work with lower salaries than workers organized by the trade union, Maden-İş.
And yes, it was with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) that rejected a demand for a parliamentary investigation regarding safety in the Soma mines just two weeks ago, on April 29.
It was the social democratic main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) that had submitted the proposal. Its deputy for Manisa (the province where the town of Soma is located), Özgür Özel, said on the parliamentary floor that there were reports of frequent mine accidents with death tolls that might be a concern and serve as warning. Parliament should have a look at the matter in order to implement additional measures, he added.
The answer came from an AK Parti MP, again from Manisa, Muzaffer Yurttaş, who said the mines were safer than the mines in many countries around the world (despite the fact that Turkey is one of the worst when it comes to coal mine accidents). The people had trust in the AK Parti as the votes in the last elections showed and “God willing” nothing would happen, “not even a nose bleed.”
(Speaking of votes, bags of coal – and macaroni – distributed to poor people has become a symbol of how the AK Parti campaigns during elections.)
In the afternoon hours the death toll had increased to 238.
After this speech, the CHP motion was rejected with the AK Parti's votes. Has anyone thought of resigning? Has anyone assumed responsibility for the at least 238 miners’ lives lost so far? Not in sight.
The government and the ruling party in Parliament ignored the warnings about the Soma mines, but the miners paid the price with their lives.
The rescue work was still ongoing as I concluded this piece, but hopes are diminishing.

Death toll rises in Turkey mine explosion

Bodies removed from mine as death toll reaches 150.

Sepideh - Nazanin -VIDEO


By Rajeshwari Krishnamurthy
The recent unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir in Karachi opened a can of worms vis-à-vis the complexities in the relationship the Pakistani media shares with State and non-State actors.
That Pakistani media-persons have long held strong associations with both the military and the militants of the country is no secret; neither is the fact that the Pakistani establishment often used the media at its will to further its propaganda – and the journalists let that happen.
The Military-Media Relationship
Pakistan is among the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. In the past, when the freedom and independence of the media was stifled by the might of military dictatorship, only those media houses and journalists that had connections with the military and the intelligence managed to survive. Information inflow is tightly controlled in the country, and throughout the years, especially during the US’ operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s own domestic operations, the only sources of information were the military and/or the militants. Siding with the civilian leadership was not even an option until recently.
Those who remained close to the military sources carved out careers for themselves using this association. They managed to get exclusive news, interviews, and first-hand experience in areas otherwise cordoned off for journalists.
Although there was a chance for the media to reinvent itself when the military’s grip loosened a little, it failed to do so due to the rot that has set in within the institution of the fourth estate as a whole.
Journalists and media houses who owe their existence and/or growth in prominence to the military have become comfortable with the arrangement. The media in Pakistan was never entirely independent. Theoretically speaking, they have either been in military embeds or militia embeds. Although this is not the only cause, it is among the biggest causes of the rot.
Here too, the choice of allies within the establishment and/or the militias plays a critical role. If one is in Lashkar-e-Taiba embeds, she/he has a shot at some level of safety, whereas if one enjoys a Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) association, the prospects are always uncertain. The most ill-fated ones are, unsurprisingly, the ones who work in close coordination with the civilian government.
The Hamid Mir episode highlights the likelihood of the Jang Group – the parent company of Geo TV where Mir is a journalist – teaming up with the Prime Minister’s Office to challenge the military’s dominance in Pakistan. They had already started becoming belligerent, especially given their shows with politically bold themes. Mir’s statements about a ‘deep ISI’ and the possibility of differences between the Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) also point towards murkier issues.
Although the attack on Mir, just weeks after one on Raza Rumi, another prominent journalist, garnered condemnations from all, the incident brought into the open the entrenched divide in the Pakistani media. For the first time in the country’s history a private media group openly blamed and challenged the ISI. In retaliation, cronies of the military in the media houses openly lambasted Geo TV for blaming the ISI for the attack and many rallied in support of the establishment.
Essentially, as it has historically been, this comes across as a proxy war for influence between the establishment and the civilian government. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is treading carefully here. Many believe that Mir was attacked by the ISI primarily due to their displeasure over the subjects of his recent shows; especially since the Army is doing all it can to improve its image. More the miscalculations the Army makes, the higher the civilian leadership’s acceptability goes.
Where Does This Lead?
Today, the media in Pakistan is essentially a business. Revenue and survival are greater motivations than truth and objectivity of content. Unbiased reportage does exist, but such institutions and journalists are few in number and are being weeded out – either by the military or the militants, or by both.
What is more damaging is the divide among the media houses. The corporatisation of Pakistani media, where more often than not there is little or no regard for journalistic ethics, has brought about a situation where media houses and journalists scramble for business and relevance. In this commotion, they have turned against each other, using unfortunate incidents like attacks on journalists to further their agenda.
Gone are the days when people like Mir Murtaza Bhutto could run politically charged magazines like his Venceremos, however small in scale, editions of which derided the Shah of Iran who was then an ally of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. In fact, some of the most charged protests against press censorship and/or military control of the media took place as far back as former dictator Zia-ul-Haq’s regime.
This does not bode well for a country where the military wields the whip. Infighting will only make it easier for the establishment to gain and assert more control on the flow of information – defeating the purpose of the existence of the press in the first place. In a country that is only slowly transitioning into democracy, it is crucial that the press corps remains united and objective.

Will Dr Abdullah be president in Afghanistan?

The Express Tribune
By Najmuddin A Shaikh
The final results of the Afghan presidential elections will not be announced before May 14 and may, in my view, be delayed further but two things seem certain. There will be no first-round winner and the run-off election will be held around the middle of June.
Political circles in Kabul are paying close attention to the talks that Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah are having with the eliminated contenders. All the eliminated contenders are Pashtuns. A detailed examination of the first round results showed that ethnicity had largely, if not wholly, determined the voting pattern. It seemed almost certain that those who had voted for these defeated candidates would now vote for Ashraf Ghani and render futile Abdullah Abdullah’s thirteen percentage point lead in the preliminary count.
Two developments seem to suggest that this expectation may not be borne out. First, one of the Pashtun candidates, Gul Agha Sherzai, has announced his support for Abdullah, and his 106,000 votes, if they remain intact, would bring Abdullah closer to the approximately half a million extra votes he needs to secure a majority if the voter turnout remains at seven million or so. One can discount, perhaps, unless Karzai is playing his own game, the rumours that Zalmai Rasoul, President Karzai’s favoured candidate, who secured 11.5 per cent of the vote, is being successfully wooed by Abdulllah and may throw his support behind Abdullah. Zalmai garnered his votes largely from the South —Kandahar, Helmand and Uruzgan— and here Pashtun sentiment is strong. On the other hand, one can also recall that in 2009, Karzai’s local rivals had wanted to vote for Abdullah but their votes were somehow voided.
The second and perhaps more important factor is the announcement by the Taliban that their military campaign would start on May 12 at 5am. The resignation of Mullah Zakir, a known hardliner on the issue of reconciliation, from his post as head of the Military Council of the Taliban Movement had suggested that the moderates were gaining ascendancy in the councils of the ‘Quetta Shura’. This has been vigorously denied and the new campaign will be waged strongly. Perhaps the ANSF will, as the Afghans maintain, be able to handle any Taliban attacks just as successfully as they did on April 6. But the fact is that in many Pashtun dominated provinces — Ghazni, Wardak, Logar, Kandahar, Uruzgan, Helmand, Paktia, Paktika, Khost and even Kunduz — the current threat of a Taliban offensive will keep voters away from the polls and the principal loser from the reduced Pashtun turnout will be Ashraf Ghani. In the eastern provinces, Kunar, Nuristan, Paktia, Paktika and Khost the CIA financed militias are being disbanded as the CIA plans its own withdrawal. This will give the Taliban an even freer hand in these provinces.
The next few weeks will see a lot of political manoeuvring in Kabul but to my mind the odds seem, because of the factors mentioned above, to favour Abdullah Abdullah. Many in Pakistan will view this as an ominous development since for a long time the Pakistan establishment had perceived the Northern Alliance as inimical towards Pakistan. In the last few years, however, there has been a consistent and seemingly sincere effort on the part of Islamabad to reach out to erstwhile Northern Alliance leaders and to offer assurances that Pakistan would deal with whatever leadership the Afghan electorate brought to power.
Abdullah Abdullah is a skilled politician who has built a support base despite formidable odds. In a number of meetings one was impressed by his growing maturity and above all, by his realistic and pragmatic understanding of the regional situation and the pivotal role in this context of Afghanistan-Pakistan relations. If he is the leader Pakistan has to deal with, we should be prepared to do so casting our misgivings aside and help in whatever way we can to get the new president to negotiate reconciliation with Mullah Omar.

Karzai to maintain political influence after stepping down: Dobbins

The US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan James Dobbins has said that President Hamid Karzai would continue to wield influence after stepping down. While speaking to reporters in Tokyo, Dobbins predicted that Karzai will maintain political influence event after he steps down. “He will be an influential figure after the elections and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing,” Dobbins quoted by AFP said. He said, “He will be an influential figure after the elections and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.” “I think that the new president will respect him,” the envoy said, adding that, “We believe he views a peaceful transfer as a part of his legacy.” In regards to the Afghan president election, Dobbins said the elections are crucial for the country’s survival in the post-Karzai era. He refrained from predicting the results of the ongoing elections to pick a successor to Karzai and said whoever wins Afghanistan’s election will lead the country into a new era after Karzai’s 13 years in power and as US-led troops end their war against Taliban insurgents.

Ex-G.I. Gets Medal of Honor for Lifesaving Acts in Afghanistan

President Obama on Tuesday awarded the Medal of Honor to Sgt. Kyle J. White, an Army radiotelephone operator who struggled for hours through enemy fire in Afghanistan to try to save the lives of wounded soldiers during a surprise attack by Taliban fighters.
“Today, we pay tribute to a soldier who embodies the courage of his generation, a young man who was a freshman in high school when the Twin Towers fell,” Mr. Obama said at a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.
“His journey from that day to this speaks to the story of his generation,” Mr. Obama added. The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest military decoration.

PAKISTAN: The practice of fake police encounters exposed through a live video recording by the media

The citizens of Pakistan watched a video recording of a police encounter on all the television channels where a man who had been pronounced dead started crying and screaming that he was alive. The police ignored his cries for help and dragged him by the hair into a police van. He was taken to a mortuary and thrown in the morgue along with three other accomplices. The 'dead man' continued to cry out for some time, begging for someone, anyone, to save him inside the morgue, but no one came to his assistance. In fact, his life could have been saved if the police had admitted him to a hospital which was just ten minutes away from the location where the fake encounter occurred.
On May 12, the police claimed that they had raided a house in Badami Bagh, Lahore, the capital of Punjab province where some robbers were hiding. The police used one suspect, Sarfaraz Ahmed Jhangvi, as an informer to show them the hide out. The police claim that at the time of the raid the robbers opened fire at the police and in retaliation the officers returned fire. As a result of the shootout all three robbers along with the informer, Sarfaraz Jhangvi, were killed. However, the family members of the victims claim that the accused persons had already been in the custody of the police and that the officers brought them to the location of the encounter in the late hours of Monday evening and killed them. The residents of the community stated to the media that they had heard the shots and had been instructed by the police to remain in their houses. After some time they watched as the police started moving the bodies to their van.
Anyone watching one of the videos (as seen here)

Lahore Police Encounter -13 May 2014

can plainly see that Sarfaraz Jhangvi was still very much alive when he was being taken to the morgue. The same video also reveals that another of the victims was in handcuffs at the time of the shooting. The cuffs were later removed at the morgue. Sarfaraz Jhangvi can be seen raising his head as he calls for help, a policeman forces his head down. The police party drove directly to a mortuary and dumped Sarfaraz Jhangvi in the morgue along with the others. The official police version is that he died inside the police van while it was on the way to the morgue. Despite the fact that he was obviously alive they police never stated in their media interviews that they were taking him to a hospital.
To back up the claim by the relatives that they had already been in custody prior to the shooting, one of the robbers was in hand cuffs on arrival at the morgue and it was only then they were removed. The police claimed that the four persons were involved in over 300 cases of robberies, rapes and kidnapping for ransom.
Please see the following videos and news links of various media reports in which he can clearly be seen that the 'dead man' was begging for help:

Lahore Police Encounter -13 May 2014
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has reported that during 2013, 217 cases of extrajudicial killings were reported from Punjab province. This is still the continued practice of instant justice by the Punjab government.
Due to the absence of a proper criminal justice system and the existence of the weak rule of law, the law enforcement agencies, particularly the police, enjoy impunity for not respecting the right to life. The government does not focus on the rule of law but rather the maintenance of what they consider to be law and order. This has created the problem of continuous fake encounters which result in the killings of innocent people.
The police and law enforcement agencies (LEA) have been given authority to violate the dignity and respect for the right to life of the citizens. Through the impunity the LEA have been given full protection for the illegal acts and supra constitutional methods. In Pakistan there is no longer any obligation for anyone with a criminal charge to be entitled to a fair trial and due process. Extrajudicial executions manifest rooted problems within the law enforcement and criminal justice machineries of these states. Statutory impunity provided to state agencies to undertake extrajudicial executions, under the guise of the maintenance of law and order. This has resulted in an alarming increase in the number of extrajudicial executions throughout the country.
The government, instead of reforming its criminal justice system to enable speedy trial, fair investigation, and proper prosecution, has given inordinate power to police, military, and other law enforcement agencies to restrict fundamental rights of the people in the name of fighting crime.
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to remind the government of Pakistan that international human rights law requires that police killings are thoroughly investigated, and that the police officials responsible for unlawful actions are prosecuted and convicted. The AHRC also urges the government to form a high judicial powered commission to probe the instances of fake police encounters, particularly in Punjab province, where this has reached epidemic proportions. The government of Punjab finds it easy to resort to encounters and terrorising the whole society in order to keep them under control.
The AHRC praises the courageous cameraman who took this video.

Fuelling the insurgency in Balochistan

By Jeeyand Kashif Sajidi
The fifth insurgency of Balochistan which started in 2006 in the ground of Dera Bugti has now spread in every nook and corner of the province. For eight long years, security forces have failed to crush Baloch militants. The question is why writ of government is declining and power of these insurgents is rising and more importantly who is fuelling these insurgents?
From the narrative of Pakistani Government, foreign countries especially India has been given the bulk of criticism. Apart from India, Afghanistan, Israel and occasionally America have also been blamed for creating unrest in Balochistan. Allegations are merely allegations unless they are proved. Yet Pakistani state hasn’t brought any substantial evidence against any of these countries. A common man is unable to comprehend why these foreign powers will support this insurgency.
The ground reality suggests that people inside Pakistan are spreading insurgency in Balochistan. However, it is questioned who neglected Balochistan and created sense of deprivation in the heart of Baloch people. Was it America India or Israel who has treated Balochistan as their colony and exploited its resources? It is negligence of Islamabad government which has deprived Baloch of their rights and few leaders accepted this and saying sorry to Baloch masses for their negligence.
The ongoing insurgency, which started in the wake of demise of Akbar Bugti and everyone, knows who assassinated him. He was not killed by any foreign troops, but by security forces of Pakistan. The assassination of a 80 years old Baloch leader aggravated the situation and fuelled the insurgency. The decision of murder of Akbar Bugti didn’t take place in New Delhi, Kabul or Washington rather it was made in Islamabad. Veteran anchorperson, Kamran Khan was right when he said that “slain Akbar Bugti will be more dangerous than alive Akbar Bugti”.
The stupid Kill and dump has added oil to the fire. Owing to this high handedness policy, the hatred against Islamabad has increased among the general masses. This imprudent policy has convinced Baloch that they have no future in Pakistan and ideology of Baloch separatists’ fighters has gained strength. This unwise strategy has convinced the hoi polloi that Sarmachars are fighting a just war with the occupying forces.
Policy makers are repeating the same mistakes and they are still fuelling the insurgency. On 18 April, 2014 Chairman of Baloch Student Organization (Azad) Zahid Baloch was abducted from Quetta and he is still missing. Those who are involved in his abduction should fathom that killing of Akbar Bugti, Balach Marri and Ghulam Muhammad Baloch have not suppressed the movement, so, will the picking and killing of Zahid Baloch will end their struggle. It will again fuel the insurgency. In reaction of this incident, Latif Johar, a member of central committee of BSO(Azad) and who is just 23 years old is sitting on Hunger Strike till death since 22 April, 2014 demanding the release of his leader. The valor of the young boy should be extolled, but there are few chances that his demand will be fulfill. It seems the fate of Latif Johar will be same as that of Bobby Sandes , who was the member of Irish Republican Army and died of a Hunger strike in a country which is considered the mother of democracy United Kingdom.
The response of the government and so called national media to the peaceful protest of Latif Johar is the same. No minister neither from national nor provincial assembly has visited the hunger strike camp of Johar and mainstream media has given very little coverage. The health of Johar is deteriorating and it seems that he will die soon and with his demise the insurgency will be further fuelled.
Before Latif Johar, Mama Qadeer walked 2500 Km as a protest to release missing persons, but not even a single person was released. Same will happen again with Johar’s protest. After his death Baloch people will contemplate that peaceful and democratic protest is futile in this undemocratic country. As a result more people will be influenced by the ideology of Baloch separatists that armed struggle is the only option in this state.
The elected PM Nawaz Sharif is powerless to do anything on this issue, but those who have power they could hear the voice of young Latif Johar, who said” I can’t kill or torture any one because my organization has taught me humanity but it is my right to do whatever I want to do with myself. I am torturing myself for the release of my leader”. But they will never hear him because humanity is a extinct word in their dictionary.

BALOCHISTAN: Playing a Dangerous Game in Kech

By Naziha Syed Ali
TURBAT: Five women, all clad in mourning black, are seated on the floor of a two-room mud brick home in a hardscrabble part of town. They have come to condole with Mah Khatoon, the widowed mother of a militant who was killed in an encounter recently. Her only surviving son lounges in the doorway of the room.
“There’s no man left at home, so he had to return from Muscat where he was working,” says an aunt. Until he finds a job in Turbat, the family must depend on handouts from relatives.
The insurgency in Balochistan claims a price in much more than blood alone. Women are particularly poignant victims. Although there is a tradition of educating girls in the Makran belt where Turbat is located, Balochistan is very much a patriarchal society and women are left deeply vulnerable without male relatives.
For many people in Turbat, the headquarters of Kech district, the conflict is taking an unacceptable toll on the Baloch youth. The enforced disappearances common in the area inflict unimaginable agony on the families, which spills out in anger not only against the state but against the insurgents as well.
Impact on Education
“For the ordinary Baloch, life in Turbat is hell,” says a human rights activist. “Young boys are either led astray by the separatists or the FC targets them. Why don’t the militants let these lads study, make something of their lives? Why don’t they find older men to fight their battle?”
Driving out Punjabis and other settlers from Makran — which comprises Kech, Mand, Gwadar and Pasni districts — has also adversely impacted education in the area, as these non-Baloch were prominently represented in the teaching and technical professions. Then there are incidents of blatant high-handedness by the Frontier Corps (FC), the security force deployed in the area, that further compromise the future of the younger generation, such as the takeover two months ago of the Technical Training Centre in Turbat where nearly 300 students were enrolled. According to an eyewitness, “The FC stormed into the premises in a convoy and took it over by force, throwing out the students and teachers on the spot. They’ve since turned the place into another camp for themselves.”
A private girls’ college located in a building owned by Balochistan National Movement leader Kachkol Ali has met with a similar fate. “It was forcibly occupied by Rashid Pathan on June 5, 2013 with assistance from the FC,” claims Mr Ali from Norway, where he is in self-exile after threats, he says, from intelligence agencies. (Rashid Pathan is actually a Baloch who is widely alleged to be heading the local ‘death squad’, so called because such groups are said to be complicit in the abduction of Baloch men suspected of separatist sympathies.)
Meanwhile, ethnic tensions have fractured society. Pakhtuns and Punjabis living in the area left in droves after non-Baloch settlers began to be targeted by the insurgents who saw them as collaborators with the state.
“Those who took over the businesses that were left behind, mostly belonging to the Pakhtun, were non-local Baloch, in particular Marris and Zehris who are coming to settle here,” says Nasir Gichki, a Turbat resident. “They’re very business-minded unlike the Makran Baloch who prefer to work overseas and come home to indulge their expensive tastes.”
“With very few exceptions, there are now no local Baloch who are tailors or barbers here. They’re all non-local Baloch,” explains another resident.
There are also other threats that bode ill for society.
About a month ago, a convoy of FC vehicles descended upon a Turbat hospital and cordoned off the building. According to witnesses, the FC took over the medical treatment of the head of a local madressah, Mufti Shahmeer Gichki, who was admitted there after suffering bullet injuries a day earlier. Many locals allege the mufti is closely affiliated with the security force.
A fiery orator, Mufti Shahmeer was attacked near Darmakol village, Turbat, by Baloch militants who claimed he had been fuelling sectarian hatred in the name of tableegh (preaching). Three among the party were killed and two others, including the mufti, were injured. Observers in Turbat contend that to counter the insurgency in the province — which is secular in nature — the state is making cynical use of religion by promoting an ultra-conservative strand of Islam in the region. Small madressahs have mushroomed in Turbat. Many appear newly constructed, with paintwork that still looks fresh in the dry desert air. Significantly, they appear to have scarcely any students.
“This is a secular society and if they can afford it, people send their children to school rather than to madressahs,” explains a social activist. “In fact, in many educational institutions girls outnumber boys.”
The madressahs, say residents, are a front for state-sponsored groups from within Baloch society itself who have been given licence to use religion to intimidate and divide people. By virtue of their powerful connections, these individuals can get away with all manner of crimes, including drugs and fuel smuggling, land-grabbing, and worse.
Some residents point to the attack on a polio team on Jan 22, 2014 in Shahi Tump locality that, they allege, was carried out by the occupants of a nearby seminary. Although the madressah head was handed over to the local administration, a call from intelligence was enough to set him free, claims a local official.
According to Captain Usman Ahmed, second-in-command of the FC in Turbat, “The FC is deployed in the province to counter the Baloch insurgency, and yes, we will take help from anyone who will assist us in this but we evaluate their information very carefully.” Sectarian Tensions
The emboldened right-wing elements in the region have begun flexing their muscles over the local population. In Pidarak, some 15kms from Turbat, an English language centre was visited by a group of clerics led by Mufti Shahmeer, who allegedly ordered the faculty, on pain of death, to stop teaching girls at the institute. Religion is a particularly potent weapon in Turbat, which is home to a sizeable minority of Zikris, a sect considered ‘heretical’ by many conservatives. One of their holiest sites, Koh-i-Murad, is situated in the vicinity and frequented by Zikris from all over the country.
“Thankfully there is as yet no religious conflict among the Baloch, not least because many Zikris and Sunnis are related through marriage,” says Yasir Dashti, a local.
People believe that sectarian tensions are deliberately being stoked in order to further divide the Baloch. “All the pro-state actors that exist here do so within a religious garb,” says a human rights activist. “There are many groups here in the name of religion — in madressahs, masjids, even mullahs’ homes.”
It seems that Turbat, like much of Balochistan, is on the verge of a war with itself.

Pakistan’s regional isolation

Thanks a military dictated foreign policy Pakistan has got itself badly isolated in the region. The country’s relations with India, Afghanistan and Iran are, to varying degrees, in bad shape. Besides tensions on the Eastern and Western frontiers, Pakistan’s border with Iran is also becoming a source of anxiety. In February Iranian interior minister threatened to send troops inside Pakistan if steps were not taken by Islamabad against terrorist groups launching attacks inside Iran from Pakistan’s territory. Last month, President Hassan Rouhani underlined the need for the removal of security concerns at the two countries’ common border. Early this month Iran’s police chief hinted that his country could seal its border with Pakistan any time. Any attempt to improve the relations is therefore welcome. During Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit he was told by highest Iranian authorities what hurt Tehran the most i.e., sectarian violence in the Pakistan-Iran border region and cross border attacks by anti-Iran sectarian groups. Iran is dissatisfied with the level of cooperation so far provided by Pakistan and wants Islamabad to do more to put an end to the attacks.
Pakistan needs to enhance economic relations and expand trade with Iran. Iran is a potential market for Pakistan’s exports. The latter also needs Iranian gas and is keen to import power from Iran. Most of all Pakistan needs a friendly neighbour and a secure border.
There are two hurdles in the improvement of relations. American sanctions stand in the way of import of gas from Iran. As nuclear talks with Iran have gone surprisingly well, the withdrawal of US sanctions in days to come cannot be ruled out. One expects Islamabad to continue to press Washington that it needs the Iranian gas badly. The Gulf countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, look at the regional politics from a narrow sectarian perspective. What is more they continue to finance and encouraged anti-Shia terrorist groups in Pakistan, some of which attack Iran. Unless Nawaz Sharif is able to persuade the Saudis or is able to come out of their influence, the anti-Shia terrorist groups would continue attacks inside Iran and play havoc in Pakistan.
It all depends on whether the PML-N government is able to resist the overtures on the part of certain Gulf countries or any other power that might want to use Pakistan’s territory to destabilise Iran. Unless it does so the desire expressed in Tehran for increased bilateral trade and strengthening relationship and cooperation between the two countries will remain a pipedream. Nawaz Sharif has to realise that Pakistan badly needs to improve ties with neighbours.

Pakistan: Wrong labelling on children’s drugs: Pharmacists call for lifting entire stock of Phenergan, Flagyl
Flagyl suspension (meteronidazole) for children was supplied to market in bottles, which actually contained Phenergan (promethazine). The manufacturers, Messrs Sanofi Aventis, and the DRAP remained silent on the issue for a long time. A patient did file a complaint with the Pakistan office of Sanofi and also with its Europe office. The Europe office, however, ordered its officials in Pakistan to take action within 24 hours.
Outer cartons of Phenergan 120ml, the primary label is of Flagyl Suspension 90ml. However, the bottle actually contains Phenergan – a drug which has been declared spurious under Section 3 of the Drugs Act, 1976. Since, it is a gross failure; rather worst failure than Efroze tragedy in which hundreds of patients died in the Punjab Institute of Cardiology due to supply of adulterated/contaminated medicines in 2012. The mix-up of material requires laboratory testing while in this case, naked eye could have caught the wrong labelling.
In outer cartons of Phenergan 120ml, the primary label is of Flagyl Suspension 90ml. However, the bottle actually contains Phenergan – a drug which has been declared spurious under Section 3 of the Drugs Act, 1976. Since, it is a gross failure; rather worst failure than Efroze tragedy in which hundreds of patients died in the Punjab Institute of Cardiology due to supply of adulterated/contaminated medicines in 2012. The mix-up of material requires laboratory testing while in this case, naked eye could have caught the wrong labelling.
The Pakistan Pharmacists Association President Dr Nabeela Latif said said that medicine manufactured by Efroze was not spurious but a case under Section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) was registered and factory was sealed. Then came the case of Tyno syrup, where medicine was not spurious or adulterated but not only a criminal case was made against the company, Messrs Reko Pharmaceuticals, its factory was also closed down. Another case of Messrs Orient Laboratories, which was not of any mistake in medicine manufacturing but of negligence in factory, was also prosecuted under Section 302 of the PPC. She added that the common man could not understand how labels of Flagyl 90 ml bottle were pasted on bottle of Phenergan 120ml syrup. This fiasco has the potential to create medical emergencies, especially if a child required meteronidazole but was treated with promethazine, she said.
She said that the company gave an advertisement in national newspapers for recall of a certain batch number whereas our common patient is not very well aware of batch numbers and that it is also not necessary that every patient had read the advertisement. So, she said, it was essential that company must lift entire stock of Phenergan and Flagyl from market and supply fresh stocks without delay. Moreover, she said, the company started Flagyl’s promotional advertisements on radio without obtaining approval from any regulatory agency; while the regulator is in a deep slumber especially when Flagyl is not over-the-counter drug and is sold only upon furnishing a prescription.
She said that the company had delivered over 200,000 bottles of these syrups across the country in December 2013 but that only 6,000 bottles of one batch were recalled. She said that nobody knows that how many children have lost their lives or suffered different medical complications after using these wrongly labelled and spurious drugs.
She said that law-enforcement agencies have dealt local companies with an iron fist but that they are silent when a multinational had produced spurious drug, which was sheer discrimination.

Pakistan: Doctor was killed by extremists over liberal views

A senior doctor, who was killed at his clinic in Jalalpur Jattan city on August 7 last year, was not a victim of extortionists but of the alleged militants belonging to banned outfits for his liberal views.
A reliable source in a law enforcement agency told Dawn that three militants, recently arrested in connection with the target killing incidents in Gujrat, had revealed during interrogation that Dr Attaur Rehman, a known medical practitioner of Jalalpur Jattan, had also been a victim of their target killing besides many others last year.
The law enforcement agency had arrested the suspects in a kidnap-for-ransom case. During investigation, they revealed their involvement in target killing of seven people, including Professor Shabbir Shah of the University of Gujrat (UoG), a religious figure Fazeelat Shah alias Phul Shah in Jassoki area of Kunjah police and a policeman Sarfraz. They had also attacked a Sara-i-Alamgir-based businessman belonging to Ahmadi community who sustained bullet injuries but survived two attacks on him.
Though officials are terming the arrests as a major breakthrough in the investigation of target killing cases, the revelation of Dr Attaur Rehman being targeted by the banned outfit had really shocked them as they had earlier considered involvement of extortionists in the incident.
The militants told investigators that they had killed the doctor due to his liberal views he used to express publicly at his clinic and it was a medical representative of a pharmaceutical company who had connived with the suspects, telling them that the doctor often gave, what they termed, provocative remarks about religion and the information had been the sole reason for targeting him.
The revelations came as the investigators were probing the suspects in a kidnap-for-ransom case. All the three arrested suspects, including two real brothers Abrarul Haq and Anwarul Haq, residents of Dedhar village of Gujrat Sadar police precincts and Asif Maqsood of Jhandewal village, Gujrat, were arrested by a joint raiding team of Jhelum and Gujrat police a few weeks back in a case of kidnap-for-ransom of Haji Iqbal, a British national. They also confessed to being involved in four other major incidents of target killing in Gujrat district during the later half of 2013.
Earlier, the then Gujrat DPO Ali Nasir Rizvi had claimed the arrest of seven extortionists of a gang of Jalapur Jattan during a news conference on August 28, three weeks after the killing of the doctor, saying the extortionists had killed the doctor for extortion. Police had framed charges against seven suspects for anti-terrorism court of Gujranwala where the trial of alleged gangsters continued despite repeated statements of the complainants in their favour.
A police official said the heirs to Dr Rehman had formally asked the court in writing that the seven alleged extortionists were not his killers. The suspects’ release was likely after the legal formalities.
Police sources said DPO Rizvi, under pressure from the agitating medical fraternity of Gujrat chapter of the Pakistan Medical Association, had declared the seven alleged gangsters as killers of Dr Rehman just to pacify the concerned voices in Gujrat over the rise in extortion incidents.
It was also revealed that DPO Rizvi himself had also been a prime target of the arrested terrorists for belonging to the Shia community. The security of Mr Rizvi had been higher than routine security of a DPO and two Elite Force vehicles used to move with him instead of one mobile van while a concrete security wall had also been constructed outside his house.
The three alleged killers of Dr Attaur Rehman had been in Jhelum police custody for their involvement in abduction of Haji Iqbal who was released by them after payment of Rs3.5 million ransom.
DPO Jhelum Afzal Mehmood Butt confirmed to Dawn that the arrested suspects had confessed to killing of Dr Rehman and they had been on physical remand of six days until May 15 in a kidnapping case of Haji Iqbal. Efforts were being made to bring Iqbal back to Pakistan to pursue the legal formalities of the case, he added.
DPO Gujrat Rai Ijaz said three arrested militants were yet to be brought to Gujrat from Jhelum for legal proceedings in target killing cases. Two more suspects, Qari Afzal and Zakriya Khalid, of the same network are already in custody of Gujrat police on physical remand whereas the law enforcing agencies had been making efforts to arrest the remaining members of the gang.

Pakistan among countries where torture is rife: Amnesty

The report, Torture in 2014: 30 Years of Broken Promises, was released on Tuesday. It provides an overview of the use of torture in the world today. The report says that torture is used to force confessions or to silence activists in countries such as China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.
In Indonesia, Pakistan and South Korea the majority of respondents feared they could be tortured if taken into custody.
The report says that torture in Pakistan is frequently practiced by police, intelligence services and the army, particularly in conflict-ridden tribal areas and Balochistan. Amnesty has received reports of torture used on human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists among others.

Pakistan: A fruitless visit

BESIDES the reiteration of fraternal sentiments and an expression of wishes for closer ties, the prime minister’s two-day visit to Iran produced little of substance. The greatest disappointment was over the gas pipeline project. No joint statement was issued, and all that we have is the signing of eight memoranda of understanding on subjects such as the extradition of prisoners. The only reference to the gas pipeline was spiritual leader Ali Khamenei’s emphasis on going ahead with bilateral projects, including the pipeline. As was expected, the ayatollah minced no words, and blamed America and “other countries” for trying to create a rift between his country and Pakistan. That the ayatollah thought Pakistan had succumbed to US pressure was discernible when he asked Mr Nawaz Sharif not to wait for “permission” from other governments to encourage relations between Iran and Pakistan.
Conceived more than two decades ago, the gas pipeline has yet to see the light of day. Initially, the pipeline was to carry gas across Pakistan to India, but New Delhi pulled out of the project in 2009, delivering a blow from which the project has not yet recovered, even though energy-starved Pakistan needs gas desperately. In March 2013, the project aroused optimism when then presidents Asif Ali Zardari and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inaugurated the construction of the Pakistani part of the pipeline. But again the project ran into difficulties, largely because Islamabad gave in to pressure. A new chapter appeared to be beginning in relations between the two neighbours when Mr Sharif declared after becoming prime minister in June 2013 that the project was on and was likely to be completed by the end of 2014. That has not happened, and as the outcome of his Iran visit shows, we should perhaps sing a requiem for the project.
Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to think of Iran-Pakistan relations solely in terms of the pipeline. As neighbours, the two countries have common concerns and need to deepen understanding on such issues as post-America Afghanistan, the change in the Middle East’s power equilibrium in the wake of the Tehran-Washington thaw, the strategic relations developing between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the Syrian civil war, terrorist groups’ activities on the borders, and bilateral trade, which has plummeted to $1bn because of US-led sanctions against Iran. Islamabad must assure Tehran that relations with no state will be at Iran’s expense, and that it will pursue a policy of non-interference in other countries’ affairs — a point emphasised by Mr Sharif when he recently addressed Pakistani envoys in the Middle East. This policy must be pursued in earnest and in a manner that satisfies Iran without jeopardising Pakistan’s ties with the Gulf monarchies, especially Saudi Arabia. The two governments must also think deeply about the kind of measures needed to increase bilateral trade.

Pakistan: Opposition in Senate rejects adviser’s ‘sketchy’ policy statement
Ill-prepared cabinet members brought embarrassment to the government in the Senate on Tuesday, with Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz bearing the brunt of criticism over what the opposition termed sketchy statement on foreign policy.
Rejecting the adviser’s eight-minute policy statement after a debate on the country’s foreign policy with particular reference to the situation likely to emerge after elections in India and Afghanistan, the opposition members staged a walkout to register their protest over the speech which they said was “an insult to the house”.
“We receive more information from the Foreign Office spokesperson at her weekly briefings than the adviser has provided to this house today,” said Raza Rabbani of the PPP as Mr Aziz took his seat after the speech. Mr Rabbani regretted that the adviser did not make any mention about Pakistan-India relations, the ongoing dialogue with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the recent visit of the US deputy secretary of state to Pakistan. “We don’t accept this as a policy statement,” Mr Rabbani said, urging the ruling party not to “make the parliament redundant”. “Look at the seriousness of the government members,” Mr Rabbani said while pointing towards Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq, who was the lone member sitting on the treasury benches.
Describing Mr Aziz as “ignorant and innocent”, Opposition Leader Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan coined a new word, “ignocent”, for the adviser. “We feel sorry. This is an insult to the house. The ministers do not give replies to our questions and we stage walkout against it,” Mr Ahsan declared before walking out of the house, forcing Deputy Chairman Sabir Baloch to adjourn the sitting till Wednesday afternoon. Mr Ahsan had already put the adviser on the defensive, when during the debate earlier he had asked the prime minister to appoint a fully fledged foreign minister. The PPP leader said Narendra Modi in India and Abdullah Abdullah in Afghanistan were being tipped as new rulers there and their views about Pakistan were well-known. “Both the countries will have strong governments and both of them do not have cordial relations with Pakistan,” he remarked.
“You have not been able to even put pressure on the Afghan government for handing over of (TTP chief) Fazlullah, who is openly patronising the groups in Pakistan which do not recognise our Constitution,” he said.
Mr Ahsan also criticised Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for inviting foreign investment in the country while keeping his own money overseas. He claimed that Mr Sharif was “the third biggest investor” in the UK after Hinduja Group and Lakshmi Mittal of India. Senator Farhatullah Babar of the PPP also took the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to task for, what he called, thoughtless endorsement of a questionable narrative that Osama bin Laden was tracked down in Abbottabad through a fake polio campaign. He said the statement from the FO spokesperson had come at a time when it was yet to be established exactly how Osama bin Laden was tracked down. In his winding up speech, Mr Aziz said the prime minister had stressed the need for pursuing “economic diplomacy” and was following the policy of “trade not aid”. He said the government had decided to adopt a “policy of non-interference” due to which the relationships between Pakistan and Afghanistan were improving. Mr Aziz said the government was cognizant of the changing situation in the region in the wake of elections in different countries.