Friday, July 4, 2014

Video: Malala Yousufzai appeals to help IDPs

Malala Yousufzai appeals for North Waziristan... by GeoNews

Pakistan: Christian IDPs say they're ignored by Pakistani authorities

PPP to observe July 5 as ‘black day’

The Pakistan People’s Party and its subsidiary organisations including the People’s Lawyers Forum will observe July 5 as a ‘black day’ as then army chief had dismissed the elected government of then prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on the day in 1977.
Protest rallies, seminar and other activities will be held in Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi, Islamabad and other cities of Pakistan. People’s Lawyers Forum will organise protest rallies at district level to condemn dictatorship and express solidarity with the democracy.
The lawyers and civil society representatives will wear black ribbons on arms. On July 5, 1977, then Chief of Army Staff General Ziaul Haq toppled the government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and stayed to the rule for 11 years despite promising to hold elections within 90 days.

Zarb-e-Azb and Pakistan’s other battles

Hafsa Khawaja
Terrorism is not just a physical threat, it is an ideological one too.
The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) released a much anticipated statement on 15th June, 2014, announcing the decision on the directions of the government to launch a comprehensive operation against foreign and local terrorists in North Waziristan: Operation Zarb-e-Azb.
The decision has been largely welcomed by both the segments of the nation which were divided over confrontation with the Taliban: those who from the very beginning questioned the logic of negotiations in the face of an expansionist and extremist force, and those who favoured negotiations only to be left disillusioned as the militants refused to cease their assaults on the country, the latest being the Karachi Airport attack.
It is hoped, a state of war, as it is now, would lead Pakistan’s political parties and the government to consider the gravity of the situation and demonstrate sheer seriousness by practising maturity, sensibility and putting their squabbles aside, the complete opposite of which has been witnessed in Model Town, Lahore, in the fight between PAT supporters and the Punjab Police, and Imran Khan’s incessant drive to push forward his rusty political agendas against the government by seemingly unending jalsas.
The government and other parties must realise that now is not the time for political gimmickry, point-scoring and bickering, while the media should realise that responsible journalism, instead of sensationalism, is the need of the hour. The government must also make no delay in making arrangements for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), ensuring their easy transportation and suitable accommodation, along with concrete plans for rehabilitation, especially because it is the holy month of Ramazan and the scorching heat fails to reside. Special attention must also be paid to their security as news has emerged of IDPs from North Waziristan refusing to stay in the camps set up by the government in Bakkakhel area in Bannu due to the threats by the Taliban. The families leaving their homes are rendering great sacrifices in service of the country, and they must not be left in the lurch. The participation of the ordinary people, the civil society and NGOs will also be vital to the efforts for the help and assistance of the IDPs, as has always been.
The operation against the militants not only involves our courageous jawans, but also this fight demands that the entire nation stand together in this decisive hour.
The late Eqbal Ahmad, whose prophetic warnings (‘The chickens of jihads, once sponsored by imperialism and the state, are likely to come home to roost’) regarding Pakistan’s future vis-à-vis the policy in Afghanistan during and after the Afghan war were made little use of, penned in an article, titled ‘What after strategic depth?’ and published in Dawn on 23 August, 1998:
‘The domestic costs of Pakistan’s friendly proximity to the Taliban are incalculable and potentially catastrophic. More importantly, the Taliban’s is the most retrograde political movement in the history of Islam. The warlords who proscribe music and sports in Afghanistan, inflict harsh punishments upon men for trimming their beards, flog taxi drivers for carrying women passengers, prevent sick women from being treated by male physicians, banish girls from schools and women from the workplace, are not returning Afghanistan to its traditional Islamic way of life as the western media reports sanctimoniously. They are devoid of the ethics, aesthetics, humanism, and Sufi sensibilities of traditional Muslims. To call them “mediaeval” is to insult the age of Hafiz and Saadi, of Rabi’a Basri and Mansur al-Hallaj, of Amir Khusrau and Hazrat Nizamuddin. The Taliban are the expression of a modern disease, symptoms of a social cancer which shall destroy Muslim societies if its growth is not arrested and the disease is not eliminated. It is prone to spreading, and the Taliban will be the most deadly communicators of this cancer if they remain so organically linked to Pakistan.’
Pakistan will have to revise its policies if it wishes to effectively eradicate this cancer for once and for all today. The inherently flawed approach which advocates a fight against the Taliban (“bad Taliban”) at home while going soft on the Taliban in foreign lands such as Afghanistan (“good Taliban”) in order to extract some sort of advantage is bound to ensure neither peace nor stability in Pakistan and come back to bite us.
And while the nation wishes the armed forces success in the Operation, light must also be shed on an equally important side of the battle: the TTP’s ideological prevalence in our social, religious and political sphere which is far more dangerous, in that it spawns and reproduces the fodder for bloodletting in the form of so-called jihadis which today Zarb-e-Azb is designed to defeat, and even more difficult to destruct.
The hate sermons that often blast from many mosques’ speakers against minorities and certain sects; the dangerous indoctrination that occurs in madrassas; the open distribution of leaflets, pamphlets and issuance of fatwas that incite murder and hate; the consonance between the mindset of many ordinary Pakistanis and the Taliban regarding minorities, the West, democracy and modernity; a pregnant Farzana Bibi’s stoning in broad daylight; the existence of Taliban apologists and sympathisers in our political arena and their ideological and brazen political partnerships with and patronising of the ancillary warriors of Al-Qaeda such as the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba; a certain High Court judge planting a proud kiss on Mumtaz Qadri’s face during his trial for the murder of the late Salmaan Taseer, are all stark testaments to the ideological pervasiveness of the Taliban in Pakistan today.
Humayun Gauher in his article ‘The enemy within’, published recently in Pakistan Today, says:
‘Finally, the army is launching a mini operation, but only in North Waziristan and perhaps the rest of the tribal areas. Big deal. The terrorists have reached every nook, cranny and neighbourhood of the country, even the houses of the rich and powerful. The operation has to be countrywide if we are to be rid of terrorism once and for all.’
Chris Cork also makes a striking point in his op-ed in Express Tribune, titled ‘The Jihadi Spring’:
‘Subsequent air strikes are said to have killed many ‘foreign fighters — and that may well be true but it is not the foreign fighters that are the real problem.
That lies far from North Waziristan and is in the seminaries and madrassas that give support and succour to the men who fight in the mountains. The anonymous compounds that are the rear-echelon for extremist groups. They provide rest and recreation, logistical support, are planning hubs and quite probably arms caches as well. All hiding in plain sight, all well enough known to ‘the authorities’ — and all apparently sleeping easy in their beds today. Which — if this huge operation in the mountains of the North were really about countering terrorism in Pakistan — they should not be.
Terrorism needs to be fought holistically, it is never going to be ‘defeated’ militarily (ask the Afghan Taliban about that one) and as long as the arteries of money and doctrine and patronage flow freely — as they are today — it will always persist.’
Today Pakistan faces not a single but multiple threats of militancy, terrorism, extremism, sectarianism and violence, as identified by the government’s National Security Policy of 2014, all of which are heads of a single monster, and only one of which the state as decided to take on now, to defeat which each would have to be destroyed. And for Pakistan to rid itself of this plague, it is an essential imperative to win both battles against the militant extremists: the one on the ground and the one in the state and society, the ideological front.

July 5: a black day for democracy in Pakistan: Zardari

July 5 is a black day for democratic history of the country when a dictator overthrew an elected government and later executed the then Prime Minster, decimated the Constitution and destroyed state institutions.
This was stated by Co-Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party and former President, Asif Ali Zardari in a message issued here on Friday.
In the message, he denounced the abrogation of the Constitution and take over by dictatorship on July 5, 1977.
Paying glowing tributes to the democratic ethos of the people, the ormer President said "the people of Pakistan have consistently refused to be suppressed by force and have always bounced back to seize their democratic rights from the jaws of dictators".
Describing the voices calling for accountability of dictators as a manifestation of the democratic yearning of the people, he said, "Dictators and usurpers of people's rights and freedoms must be punished".
The PPP Co-Chairman also paid homage to the martyrs of democracy. "Let us today resolve to strive for the preservation and promotion of democracy and the rule of law so that our people continue to march onto the road of progress and prosperity with hope and opportunity for everyone", he added.

Pakistan: Zardari, Bilawal direct PPP leaders to help IDPs

Pakistan People’s Party top leadership including ex-president Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari have directed all the district heads of PPP to arrange emergent provision of relief goods to the IDPs of North Waziristan KP to mitigate their miseries. Following these directions from the top leadership, a number of truckloads of all essentials of eating and living are being arranged from Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Attock, Jhelum and Chakwal under the auspices of local leaders.
This was told by Divisional head of PPP Raja Imran Ashraf, ex-federal minister of PPP Sardar Saleem Haider and member Punjab Co a uncil of PPP Haji Mohammad Gulzar Awan during well attended special meeting held here on Thursday.
Member PPP Punjab Council Haji Mohammad Gulzar Awan said the war against terrorists in North Waziristan was the war for safe future of Pakistan. “As the numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs)are swelling from more than 500,000, our top leadership desired us to step forward to make fruitful efforts to provide relief to the IDPs from all cities across the country”, he added.
He said clean potable water, lifesaving drugs, crockery, tents, food items and other essential items would be provided to population settling in Bannu and other relief camps. He mentioned that a number of trucks carrying these items would be arranged on emergent basis to send as a first consignment during the next few days. “We will not leave the IDPs alone and the helpless and will take care of them till the operation against terrorists is over making IDPs return to their homes possible”, he stated.
Raja Imran Ashraf and Sardar Saleem Haider said all the district heads have been made aware of the directives of top leadership and directed to make immediate contacts with well-to-do party workers to help IDPs. They said the PPP would provide urgent humanitarian aid and food supplies to more than 50,000 families in camps in Bannu. They further mentioned food baskets, each containing flour, rice, dates, sugar, salt, lentils, oil and tea would be arranged to ease the distribution.
Sardar Saleem Haider said that a team of doctors along with medicines would also be arranged to provide health care facilities he IDPs. He also appealed to doctors and philanthropists to come forward and shoulder their responsibilities and help the displaced persons who sacrificed their homes for safe future of Pakistan.

Pakistan: Kayani and NW operation

General (retd) Athar Abbas has revealed in an interview with the BBC that it was the indecisiveness of the former COAS General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani that led to the operation in North Waziristan (NW), for which preparations were afoot for about a year, not being conducted after the South Waziristan offensive in 2010. General Athar did not mince his words in saying that the PPP-led government at the time seemed hesitant to either take the bull of militancy by the horns or risk creating bad blood with the army by insisting on action against the terrorists in NW. General Kayani, according to General Athar, had been afraid of a backlash from the religious right in the wake of any military operation in NW. Because of this failure to tackle the militants, they had been able to dig deeper strategically, operationally and tactically in NW and in the rest of the country.
The result has been untold human misery and material losses. That a COAS, seeing his country torn apart by terrorism, would not act and the government of the day being complicit only shows the apathy of the top civilian and military leadership towards the plight of the people. They could bear seeing their own soldiers, men, women and children killed, maimed and annihilated, but failed to act to protect the country and its people. The military’s obsession over many years to advance the perceived interests of the country through jihadi ‘strategic assets’ has ended up costing us dear. The military’s support to such groups as the Afghan Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has been the cornerstone of the armed forces’ security strategy in what was considered a belligerent neighbourhood. Having acknowledged that his thinking was India-centric, General Kayani’s indecisiveness in conducting a military operation in NW was not that difficult to comprehend, even if one were to disagree with such thinking. General Athar Abbas’ revelation has only reinforced what had been perceived about General Kayani. It is therefore hardly breaking news.
That makes it doubly intriguing why General Athar Abbas’ statement has so disturbed Chaudhry Nisar. What is it that the retired army spokesman has said that had not been discussed threadbare in the media already? And what about those retired army officers found on TV screens on popular talk shows and in Oped columns every day? They criticise, raise fingers at and support their former bosses. Have we forgotten the former ISI chief’s revelations on TV about the ISI’s involvement in creating the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) to defeat the PPP in the 1990 elections? It is hardly a new or unknown phenomenon to see uniformed officials speaking their mind after retirement. In fact, given the abiding secrecy surrounding affairs of the state, these revelations are refreshing, educational, and throw light into corners of national life that would otherwise remain permanently in the shadows.

Bilawal Bhutto strongly condemns Karachi blast
Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has strongly condemned the blast outside a mosque in Saddar area of Karachi, which resulted into loss of precious human lives while injuring many others. In a statement, PPP Chairman said those killing innocent people were enemies of Islam and humanity and wanted to destabilize Pakistan through terrorism and bloodshed. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari sympathized with the families of victims who lost their lives and limbs in the blast and prayed Almighty to rest the departed souls in eternal peace and courage for the bereaved families to bear this irreparable loss with equanimity. He also stressed that special arrangements should be made for timely treatment of all those injured in the blast.

Pakistan: Blast in Karachi

Two people were killed and two others were injured in an explosion that blast took place in Karachi's Saddar area on Friday.
The blast took place near a mosque in Saddar — the location of the blast is close to the parking plaza in the area.
The blast took place near Makki Masjid and ball bearings were also used in the making of the bomb.
Police and rescue services had reached the site of the explosion and the injured were being shifted to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) where an emergency was imposed.
Moreover, police said one of those killed could be the attacker himself.
Security personnel cordoned off the blast site and the Bomb Disposal Squad was called in as a search operation went underway. The intensive blast damaged nearby building and also caused damage to vehicles parked in the vicinity.
The motorcycle used in the attack was taken into the custody by police personnel.

Video: President Obama's 4th Of July Message

President Obama to Host Naturalization Ceremony on July Fourth Holiday

President Obama will host a naturalization ceremony at the White House on Friday, the July 4th holiday, for active duty military service members and their spouses, as well as veterans and reservists.
On the birthday of the United States, the president plans to take the opportunity to "reiterate his commitment to an immigration policy that honors our rich history as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws." Obama has previously hosted and participated in naturalization ceremonies in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013. Obama will speak at the ceremony, during which foreign-born members of the U.S. Armed Forces who "have earned their American citizenship by serving our country" will be recognized for their contributions. A White House official said that 15 active-duty service members from the Navy, U.S. Army, Marines and Air Force will be honored, as will two veterans, one reservist and seven military spouses -- representing a total of 15 countries.
The president will also host a Fourth of July celebration for military families and White House staff on the South Lawn of the White House.