Thursday, July 17, 2014

BRICS establish $100bn Development Bank to cut out Western dominance

President Obama addresses downed Malaysian Airlines flight #MH17

Russia's Aeroflot, Transaero Decide to Avoid Ukraine Airspace After Malaysian Plane Crash

Aeroflot, Russia's largest air carrier, said Thursday it has decided to change its flight routes to bypass Ukrainian airspace following a crash of a Malaysian passenger plane in eastern Ukraine.
"Aeroflot is carrying out flights bypassing the Ukrainian airspace," the company said in its Twitter blog. Earlier the same day, Russia’s Transaero Airlines also decided to carry out its flights to third countries bypassing Ukrainian airspace.
Kazakhstan’s principle airline Air Astana has suspended its flights from Almaty to Kiev in connection with the crash of the Malaysian aircraft over the territory of Ukraine, the company said.
A Malaysia Airlines Boeing-777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed near the city of Donetsk on Thursday. There were at least 280 passengers, including 23 US citizens, and 15 crew members on board.
Flight controllers reported that the plane disappeared from radar screens while flying at an altitude of about 10,000 meters (some 33,000 feet).
Witnesses told RIA Novosti the debris of the plane covers an area of about one square kilometer, and at least several dozen bodies were found scattered around the crash site.

Video Report: Malaysia #MH17 crash site witness: bodies, debris, passports scattered

Ukraine says Malaysian airliner shot down, 295 dead: agency

A Malaysian airliner was shot down over eastern Ukraine by militants on Thursday, killing all 295 people aboard, a Ukrainian interior ministry official was quoted as saying by Interfax-Ukraine news agency.
The aircraft, which other sources said was a Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, came down near the city of Donetsk, stronghold of pro-Russian rebels, Anton Gerashchenko said, adding that it was hit by a ground-to-air missile.
There was no further confirmation of the report, although Ukrainian officials said local residents had found wreckage.
Malaysia Airlines said on its Twitter feed it had lost contact with its flight MH-17 from Amsterdam. "The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace," it said.
Gerashchenko was quoted as saying: "A civilian airliner travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur has just been shot down by a Buk anti-aircraft system ... 280 passengers and 15 crew have been killed."
Interfax-Ukraine quoted another Ukrainian official as saying the plane disappeared from radar when it was flying at 10,000 metres (33,000 feet), a typical cruising altitude for airliners.
It came down at Torez, near Shakhtersk, some 40 km (25 miles) from the Russia border. The area has been the scene of fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels.
Ukraine has accused Russia of taking an active role in the four-month-old conflict in recent days and accused it earlier on Thursday of shooting down a Ukrainian fighter jet - an accusation that Moscow denied.

Message of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto on Shaheed Shahnawaz Bhutto’s 29th martyrdom anniversary
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Patron-In-Chief, Pakistan Peoples Party has paid rich tributes to Shaheed Shahnawaz Bhutto who laid down his life fighting the worst military dictator Gen Zia at a young age of 26.
On his message on 29th martyrdom anniversary of Shaheed Shahnawaz Bhutto, the PPP Patron-In-Chief said his Party has always been targeted by the dictators and terrorists because it provided a bond of unity and integrity for the people of all the federating units in Pakistan. “Shahnawaz Bhutto was killed by the Zia regime to smash the struggle of the people of Pakistan led by Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and Begum Nusrat Bhutto for restoration of democracy,” he stated adding but the dictator could not succeed in his unholy designs.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said struggle for the emancipation of the people in Pakistan from dictators and terrorists has seen enormous amount of blood-shed of democratic leaders and workers, citizens and soldiers. “Let us pledge on the martyrdom anniversary of Shaheed Shahnawaz Bhutto not to let the dictatorial forces and terrorists to play with the roots of our country and its democratic system to pay befitting homage to our martyrs,” he stated.
PPP Patron-In-Chief said Shaheed Shahnawaz Bhutto shall always remain alive in nation’s memories and history. PPP is proud for the sacrifices of its leadership and workers for the cause of the downtrodden masses and the country, he concluded.

Afghanistan: We Have Made an Agreement, Not a Deal: Abdullah

Appearing in a press conference for the first time since the resolution of the election deadlock, presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah revealed behind the curtain discussions with opponent Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai.
"Both sides have agreed that regardless of the final results, it is a win-win situation," Abdullah said. "Vote audits must take place transparently and with the observation of representatives from both campaign teams. Waheed Omer will be our representative."
Creation of the "national unity government" is still one of the most important topics of discussion between the candidates.
"What we have agreed on is a commitment to shared principles regarding the creation of a national unity government," Abdullah asserted. "We reject any claims regarding making a deal."
Moreover, Abdullah stated that the spirit of cooperation between the two candidates is much better, emphasizing that transparency is among his key demands.
"Our observers will work closely in provinces and the capital to ensure transparency this time," Abdullah added. "There is a better spirit between us [the campaign teams] and we would like to keep it up."
People are optimistic about the election results as candidates make truce after the prolonged electoral tensions. One of the most important topics of discussion between the two campaign candidates has been the shift from the country's presidential system to a parliamentarian one.

Military Operation Opens Immunization Window In Pakistan

Author : Zofeen Ebrahim
The mass exodus of Pakistanis fleeing the dangers of war has a surprising bright side: polio vaccinators can finally reach previously unreachable children.
As the Pakistan army continues to flush out militants and destroy their hideouts, 1 million residents have fled North Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
They’re risking their lives to escape the dangers of war, and in the process, they’ve become another source of danger to others.
Yet many like Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta, a pediatrician and immunization specialist at the Aga Khan University in Karachi, see this mass exodus as a welcome opportunity.
“This is a God-sent opportunity to reach families and children who, ‎to date, have been held hostage by obscurantists and terrorists who have held the entire community and the polio program hostage for so long,” he told MintPress News.
Since June 2012, no polio vaccinator has dared venture into Afghanistan-bordering FATA. Militants banned them from administering polio vaccine drops to an approximate 350,000 children living there unless the U.S. stopped drone strikes.
Dr. Elias Durry, the head of the World Health Organization’s Polio Eradication Initiativein Pakistan, could not agree more with Bhutta.
“The recent ground reality of massive population movement, since last month, provided a perfect opportunity to reach these unreached children,” Durry told MintPress.
When the exodus from North Waziristan began, the government set up hundreds of vaccination points at permanent transit points, including train stations and bus stops, so that all children could be administered the oral polio vaccine before entering neighboring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
As displaced communities move into other parts of Pakistan (some have also gone into Afghanistan), feverish vaccination drives are taking place in host communities as well as at transit vaccination posts. Over 800,000 people have been vaccinated within Pakistan as part of these efforts, and over 35,000 in Afghanistan.
Success goes hand-in-hand with failure
For over 25 years, the world has been battling this crippling disease with significant success. In 1988, polio was endemic in 125 countries, but today, it is found in just three: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.
Up to 116 cases have been reported so far this year, with 103 from the three endemic countries. Of the total, 91 are from Pakistan, 5 from Nigeria and 7 from Afghanistan.
Of the three endemic countries, Pakistan has the poorest record in fighting polio. In 2005, the country reported just 25 cases and was on the verge of eradicating the disease, but last year, 93 cases were reported.
Experts say the main reason for the rebound is that the war within and at its borders has derailed the polio eradication campaign. In fact, most cases have been sprung from security-compromised areas, despite the Pakistani government’s persistent pleas for the Taliban in North Waziristan to give safe passage to vaccination teams. (Of the 91 cases of polio reported this year, 55 are from North Waziristan.)
Experts say that until the virus is completely eliminated from the face of the Earth, it poses a danger to the world.
“Despite the progress achieved since 1988, as long as a single child remains infected with poliovirus, children in all countries are at risk of contracting the disease,” according to the WHO. “The poliovirus can easily be imported into a polio-free country and can spread rapidly amongst unimmunized populations.”
The war on polio virus continues
A month on, the influx of the internally displaced persons into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is down to a trickle. But health officials say the war on polio is far from over. As the internally displaced persons move from neighboring areas and spread to other parts of the country, the virus needs to be closely monitored. Dr. Nima Abid, former head of the WHO in Pakistan, fears there is imminent “risk due to possibility of the virus spreading to settled districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and beyond.”
“The risk of disseminating the virus in other parts of the country is definitely there,” Durry noted, emphasizing the need for continued vaccination of internally displaced persons living within host communities.
“That risk can be mitigated by immunizing children in possible host communities and also maintaining high immunization rates across the country through special campaigns and routine immunization,” he continued.
Abid said that while vaccination at the permanent transit points was good, vaccination of internally displaced persons within host communities needs to be improved in order to make full use of this unique opportunity, especially in Frontier Region Bannu in FATA and Bannu district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
“The transit points and house-to-house campaigns for polio vaccination should be part of every health and humanitarian intervention for [internally displaced persons],” he stressed.
“We are holding weekly three-day vaccination campaigns in all the areas and immunizing the under-five locals as well as displaced children,” Ahmed Ali told MintPress over the phone from Bannu.
He works in the government-run Lady Health Workers program. The Lady Health Workers are 100,000 female community workers who go door-to-door delivering basic health services. They are also the backbone of the immunization services in Pakistan.
“But people are getting tired of our polio teams knocking at their door at all odd times of the day — especially because it is happening too often — and have started refusing,” noted Ali.
Ali has observed that in the last five years more and more parents are refusing, and not only because of vaccination fatigue.
“Misinformation about the vaccine persists — some suspect it causes infertility among females and is a Western ploy to curb the Muslim population,” he said.
According to official data, the number of refusals increased from 4,200 during the polio vaccination drive carried out between June 6 and June 8, to 12,043 during the vaccination campaign run from June 23 to June 25.
On a visit to the camps set up for the new entrants, Ali said he overheard a displaced woman muttering angrily that making them leave their homes and beginning an army offensive in their villages was a conspiracy by anti-polio teams to vaccinate their children.
But they dared not refuse, as that would have meant not being able to enter the comparatively safer Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province or take advantage of the government’s aid packages for internally displaced persons.
With the displaced people posing a risk for “further dissemination of the virus,” as explained by Durry, the situation has been compounded by the refusals from the host communities.
But even if the displaced children are administered the oral polio vaccine, experts say the one-time administration is certainly no guarantee that the children are protected and that the disease will not spread.
“There is need for multiple doses, ideally weekly, to rapidly build the immunity amongst the [internally displaced persons],” Abid said.
Routine immunization takes a backseat
In the hurry to vaccinate the displaced children against the polio virus, Bhutta observed: “Sadly, the focus is not on other vaccinations. We should be using the opportunity to fully vaccinate these children.” “It seems that the agencies were unprepared for this, despite the operation clearly looming for weeks, if not months.”
Referring to the steps taken by the government based on the recommendations of the WHO, whereby since June 1, everyone leaving the country had to be vaccinated, he described the huge undertaking “an unnecessary distraction” and “a bit overblown.” Instead, he said what was most urgently needed was to “rapidly scale up immunizations so that there are no pockets of disease in Pakistan.”

Pakistan: Raiwind operation concludes after 10 hours, 2 militants killed, 1 identified

Two Al Qaeda militants were killed, one of them was identified during operation in Raiwind.
The security forces have completed the operation against militants after 10 hours in Raiwind , a town in the outskirts of Lahore.

Dunya news-Raiwind operation concludes after 10... by dunyanews
According to the state media, two militants were killed and one of them was identified in the last stage of operation when security forces entered the compound. An elite force personnel was also martyred while five others injured in the shootout in Arayian village on Raiwind Road.
For the last six months, the militants were residing in this compound which was only 2.5 km away from the residence of PM Nawaz.
Militants and security personnel exchanged fire during a search operation that started at 2AM Thursday. The operation was conducted on a tip-off provided by the Interior Ministry regarding the presence of militants. The militants were present in a house who traded fire when police reached the compound, one of the security officials said. The police gave militants several warnings to surrender, he added.
The official confirmed that an elite force personnel was martyred while five other security personnel were injured in the shootout who were taken to Jinnah Hospital.
The heavily armed militants also hurled grenades from inside the compound. According to security sources, the militants belonged to Al-Qaeda.
Provincial Minister Shujah Khanzada confirmed that the security forces successfully completed the operation. He said the militants had a plan to target PM Nawaz residence in Raiwind.
Huge cache of arms and suicide jackets were recovered from the compound, Khanzada added.

Pakistan: Two Wrongs

With less than a month left till the Independence Day celebrations and the Azadi March to be held in the same place, Nawaz Sharif has dubbed protest politics an archaic political tactic, and claims that his government cannot be destabilized by protests held by the minority. But with this statement the Prime Minister reveals his ignorance of the democratic process. It is not something that reveals itself once every four years, after which the people must sit silently and wait for the next term before they can make themselves heard. It is in fact, this constant holding to account that is the hallmark of a democratic style of governance. It is the constant influence of the people on political decisions, and having the right to question and express one’s displeasure against the government.
Has the PML-N government managed to uphold its responsibility to its voters in the past year to any degree? The energy crisis still looks to be as unsolvable as when the PML-N came into power. On matters of security, the army’s operation in North Waziristan is apparently going well, although no independent reports exist to confirm this. Added to this, the government’s failure to treat the PTI with due dignity, has exacerbated the issue of rigging- now with the likes of notorious former President Asif Zardari joining the chorus and likening the Premier to a monarch.
Which brings us to protests and the PTI’s Azadi March. What was to be a march to make the government start the recounting of votes in four disputed constituencies has now evolved to a complete audit of the general elections of May 2013. The Prime Minister must realise that no matter what the demand, if the third largest political force in the country is pushing for it, then it requires proper addressing. Protest politics is just the new word for exercising a democratic right. As far as the need for a transparent system goes, the country recognises it is there, but as far as the timing is concerned, the PTI has ill-timed its movement. For one, Imran Khan must look towards what should be his immediate priority- hundreds of thousands of IDPs- sitting in his province. This is his opportunity to prove his leadership, and many look on with knowing cynicism, as he pursues the Azadi March on the capital. Whether he is power-hungry or the great electoral reformer this country needs is irrelevant. How he is perceived now, is most important. And right now, amidst the political instability, the war and humanitarian crisis before the nation, he isn’t the saviour; not even relatively speaking.

Pakistan: Ghulam Bilour says Imran misleading masses

Awami National Party (ANP) senior leader and former federal minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour on Tuesday termed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) protest against loadshedding as a political gimmick.
Speaking at a press conference, he said Imran Khan was misleading the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by staging the protest in Peshawar. “The PTI should stage the protest against the blackouts at an appropriate place like Islamabad or Lahore,” he added.
Flanked by ANP Peshawar district president Malik Ghulam Mustafa, general secretary Sartaj Khan and deputy general secretary Sabz Ali, the nationalists leader said the nation would not support the PTI if Imran Khan tried to derail the democratic dispensation in the country by unconstitutional means. “Imran Khan is trying to become a prime minister despite the fact that he had failed to run the affairs of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” he added. Ghulam Bilour said inflation had increased by 50 percent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the government had failed to control crimes, act of extortions and kidnapping for ransom.
“The party has failed to bring about the change it had promised with the people of the province,” he added.He said the province was producing 4500 megawatt of electricity against its total consumption of 2200 megawatt but was denied its due right.
Ghulam Bilour said the federal and provincial governments’ response to the influx of internally displaced persons (IDPs) was not encouraging. “The IDPs are facing host of hardships in the Ramazan and in the sizzling summer heat due to the indifferent attitude of the governments,” he added. He said the ANP condemned the killing of the innocent Palestinians at the hands of Israel which was carrying out airstrikes in the Gaza Strip unabated.
Regarding the Pakistan People’s Party deal with general (R) Pervez Musharraf, Bilour said that it was the internal matter of the PPP, adding the ANP didn’t make any deal with anyone. He said the ANP supported the Protection of Pakistan Ordinance as it was the need of the hour.

Pakistan: An apology without a solution no solution at all

Minister of Water and Power Khawaja Asif, in a press conference, apologised to the nation for failing to ensure supply of electricity during sehri, iftaar and taraveeh, as directed by the Prime Minister, and explained why the government was forced to resort to unannounced power outages.
The reasons behind the energy shortfall have largely remained the same as were evident during the PPP-led coalition government and include: (i) a transmission system that is unable to accommodate more than 15000 MW and any additional supply leads to tripping; (ii) a massive inter-circular debt, which currently stands at 300 billion rupees. This is despite the fact that Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar cleared around 400 billion rupees on 29th June, 2013 - a day prior to the end of fiscal year 2012-13 (which increased our indebtedness without reducing loadshedding) as well as the proactive implementation of the Ministry's policy to disable supply to areas where pending bills are in excess of 80 percent of total receivables; (iii) inability to compel provincial governments to pay their dues continues; and (iv) the loss of 1500 MW from the system, the word used by the Minister was "disappeared" because of fault in two transformers in Lahore causing a drop in total generation to 13000 MW.
The supply side issues are compounded by rising annual demand, around 800 MW each year, and a marked escalation during the summer months. At present Minister Asif stated demand has escalated to between 19,000 to 20,000 MW, which several independent analysts maintain is understated with actual demand hovering around 22,000 MW to 23,000 MW. Within the context of supply and demand, he stated that the country should pray for rains that would relieve demand immediately enabling the government to reduce the existing 7000 MW shortfall thereby reducing loadshedding hours which, at present, have risen to 14 hours a day in Lahore - the stronghold of the PML-N.
Critics of the government argue that within one year the government should have shown some results. In its defence the PML-N points out to several ongoing energy projects as proof that the government is engaged in raising generation capacity and cited Nandipur as well as Guddu power plant inaugurations of the Prime Minister amidst much fanfare as proof that generation has increased. A little more than a year later Nandipur remains non-operational as it is furnace-based and the cost to produce simply too high (22 rupees per unit) to justify its operation while Guddu continues to suffer from technical faults. Not one MW of electricity has been added to the system the country has now been informed and all the threats and bravado of the Minister of State Abid Sher Ali has not reduced payables of the sector.
The question is could the government have done different and better? One would have to respond in the affirmative because a look at the PML-N's own manifesto reveals that identified reforms have not yet been implemented. Granted that privatisation of discos and gencos is in the works and the process is scheduled to commence soon but the government has to accept the fact that after the end of its first year supply-demand gap is higher than during the PPP government's last year in power - a year may not be a long time in terms of developing and implementing infrastructure projects but the government needs to explain why it has performed so poorly.

Pakistan: PPP wants probe into PTI accusations of tampering with election results

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Punjab President Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo, who is currently on a visit to the United States, has demanded judicial probe into fresh allegations levelled by PTI Chief Imran Khan on Tuesday of tampering with results of various constituencies by a team at the Information Technology University.
According to a statement issued by the PPP provincial secretariat here on Wednesday, Wattoo expressed these views while talking to party leaders and workers in New York. PPP Lahore leader Misbahur Rehamn was also present there.
Wattoo said that the government should have readily accepted demands of the PTI regarding thumbprints verification in four constituencies of Lahore, adding their foot dragging had created much political tension in the country when it was fighting the war of its survival.
The PPP Punjab president expressed his disapproval over delaying tactics of the PML-N government regarding thumbprints verification on one pretext or the other, thus giving credence to the impression that they had some skeletons in their cupboards, which they were hiding.
He also supported PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari’s statement as compatible to the aspirations of people in which the former president had demanded Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to conduct himself like an elected prime minister and not like a monarch, who acted on his whims without any regard to the problems of the people.
Wattoo regretted that the mandarins had learnt no lesson from the history and that their personal style of governance confined within the family clan was grossly incongruous to the democratic ethos because collective wisdom was its essence.
Describing the PML-N government’s rule as anti-people, he added that the PPP, being the party of the poor, could not afford to align itself with those, who were pursuing policies against the masses. He said that electricity outages cobbled with skyrocketing inflation, worsening law and order, poverty and lack of health and education facilities had made the lives of the people miserable.
In particular, he said, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif was showcasing his performance through aggressive advertisements campaigns on taxpayers’ money but the ground realities were quite opposite. Shahbaz Sharif’s personal and unsubstantiated self-projection was being taken as insult to their injury, he opined.
The former Punjab chief minister reiterated that for the PPP, democracy was non- negotiable because it stood for the people’s politics and said that any entity that distanced itself from serving the people, would not find the PPP as its supporter and would lose its sympathy eventually.

Pakistan: Religious extremism: our biggest challenge

Akbar Jan Marwat
With financial support from both the US and Saudi Arabia, religious desperados of all hues were recruited to come to Pakistan from all over the world to take part in the Afghan jihad
Today, religious extremism, in its various forms and manifestations, is the biggest threat faced by Pakistan. These forms of religious extremism range from the right-wing views of a great majority of our citizens to the outright militant movement of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) who declare their avowed goal to be the overthrow of, what is in their opinion, the ‘un-Islamic’ government of Pakistan. Many of our religious and rightist political parties, and their followers, may disagree with their violent means but are generally sympathetic to the cause of these militant Islamists. Due to the overt religious policies and propaganda of successive regimes, Pakistan over the years has become a reactionary and intolerant place. This was not always the case. In its earlier years, Pakistan was more liberal and pluralistic, where members of other faiths and minority groups were tolerated. In today’s Pakistan, when most people are riding high on a crest of false religiosity, such tolerance is rare. To fully comprehend the phenomenon of religious extremism, it would be helpful to briefly delve into the history of the Pakistan Movement, and the political and religious orientations of our various governments and state institutions.
Intellectual confusion has been pervasive in our society ever since the conception of Pakistan. Liberal leaders like Jinnah had to use the religious card to get the overwhelming support of Muslims, required for the creation of the new state. This was, however, to be a temporary phase. In view of Jinnah and his associates, a Muslim welfare state, and not an Islamic theocratic state considering itself responsible for the woes of the entire Muslim ummah (community), was the goal. It was only after Jinnah’s death that the narrative of the Islamic state gained ascendency through an alliance between the military, mullahs, right-wing politicians and pro-establishment bureaucrats.
The Objectives Resolution of 1949, for the first time, clearly highlighted the Islamic character of the Pakistani state. This resolution was passed against the opposition of the minority members in the Legislative Assembly at that time. Religious parties like the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), which initially opposed the creation of Pakistan, became very close to the army and played an important role in dictating the Islamic agenda. The Jamaat spearheaded the anti-Ahmedi riots of the 1950s and the creation of al Shams and al Badr for the persecution of Bengalis in East Pakistan in 1971. The JI was an important partner of the Zia regime in its initial years also.
These retrogressive religious forces, to make certain decisions thought to be in conformity with Islam, forced even a secular and pro-socialist leader like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to do their bidding. The declaration of Ahmedis as non-Muslims was the most important of these decisions. Pakistan thus became the first and perhaps the only country in the world to declare Ahmedis non-Muslims.
The self-serving and opportunistic Islamic policies of General Zia gave a further nod to overt religiosity, leading to religious extremism. On the external front, Zia shortsightedly involved Pakistan neck deep in the Afghan jihad against the Soviet invasion. Pakistan became a refuge for over three million Afghan refugees. Various Afghan jihadi outfits established their headquarters and training camps in Pakistan. With financial support from both the US and Saudi Arabia, religious desperados of all hues were recruited to come to Pakistan from all over the world to take part in the Afghan jihad. The Arab and Islamic fighters brought their Wahabi and Takfiri ideologies with them, which are haunting Pakistan to this day. Many militant and sectarian organisations like the Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi were created with the active support of our government and military intelligence agencies. All these measures led to the religious radicalisation of Pakistani society.
The erroneous concept of ‘strategic depth’ prompted our defence establishment to help and nurture the Afghan Taliban in order to have a friendly government in Kabul. A jihadi culture was thus established in Pakistan from where militants went to fight not only in Afghanistan but Kashmir as well. The saddest part of all this was the total oblivion of our governments and defence establishment to the pernicious long-term effects of this jihadi enterprise, carried out right under the nose of our authorities. Saudi Arabia has no doubt been a good friend to Pakistan in its time of need but it has played a very dangerous role in radicalising our society and in financing Wahabi and Deobandi projects. Saudi largess was lavishly used to set up rabidly anti-Shia militant outfits like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which have been involved in a full-scale genocide of Shias. Our army and its intelligence agencies were involved in setting up an alliance of right-wing parties — the IJI, against a more secular PPP. The right-wing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) it seems also has a share of its sympathisers in the defence establishment of Pakistan.
The turning point for Pakistan came after 9/11 when Musharraf, under US pressure, had to take a U-turn against the Afghan Taliban. Many of the Afghan Taliban, along with their al Qaeda supporters, took refuge in the Pakistani tribal areas. Very soon after, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was born, turning their guns towards the state of Pakistan. An existential threat to Pakistan from this religious militancy was thus created. The existence of our state, as well as our way of life, came under threat. Our successive governments and even our army did not respond to this threat as earnestly as was required because of the influence of right-wing religious and political forces. Pakistan suffered tremendous human and financial losses due to this delay in a decisive action against the militants.
Even in the present North Waziristan operation it seems the army forced the hand of the PML-N government to agree to a full-fledged operation rather than wasting more time. Many religious parties like the JI and JUI-F are still against the operation. The PTI has very reluctantly and perhaps insincerely supported the operation. The deliberate overplay of the religious card by various governments and state institutions has led our society to become reactionary and intolerant. In the absence of any counter-narrative by our governments, the retrogressive jihadi narrative preached by religious parties and militant outfits holds the field in Pakistan.
In my opinion, we need to go back to the narrative of a modern Muslim nation state. It will not be easy as the theocratic forces are so well entrenched. The combination of jihadi culture and weak state institutions has led to stiff resistance towards modernisation in education and outlook, so essential for survival and progress of a society as complex as ours.

Seven suspected militants, one elite force man killed in Lahore clash

An armed clash between security forces and suspected militants during a search operation early Thursday in a compound situated in Lahore’s Raiwind Road area killed seven suspected militants while one elite force man was also killed and five others had been injured, Punjab Minister for Anti-Terrorism Col. (retd) Shuja Khanzada said.
Speaking to media representatives, Khanzada said that the exact figure of militants present the area could not be established and several of them appeared to have fled.
He said security forces wanted to apprehend the militants alive, adding that terrorism could not be eliminated in a single day.
The clash began when security forces, acting on a tip off, conducted a search operation in Araiyan Pind near Raiwind Road.
According to Superintendent of Police (SP) Investigation Nawaz Marwat, the operation started at 2am during which security forces surrounded the compound where suspected militants were present.
An intense clash erupted between security forces and militants who used heavy arms and ammunition against the forces’ personnel, Marwat said.
Also during the operation, at least eight explosions were reportedly heard while recurrent bouts of firing continued between militants and security forces.
Police sources have claimed that at least seven militants hiding in the compound had been killed during the operation which is still ongoing.
A fresh contingent of elite force personnel has also been called in to manage the situation as the area has still not been declared clear.

Protest against load-shedding: Demonstrators break into WAPDA House in Peshawar

The Express Tribune News
Breaking barriers placed outside the Wapda House in Peshawar, angry demonstrators broke into the building during a protest organised by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government against load-shedding in the city. The protest was led by K-P Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and most of the demonstrators were workers of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). A few members of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) also took part in the demonstration.

Khattak says federal govt doesn’t deserve to... by ExpressNewsHD
The K-P chief minister said that the province is getting only 1,300 megawatts (MW) instead of 2,000 MW. Khattak demanded that cheap electricity be supplied to K-P and load-shedding be decreased.
“If Wapda doesn’t solve this issue, I will not cooperate anymore,” he also threatened.
He further remarked that the federal government does not have the right to run Wapda House as well as the government if it cannot solve this issue.
In a show of solidarity with the people of his province, Khattak on July 13 had vowed to lead demonstrations on July 16 if the issue of prolonged and widespread load-shedding was not resolved.
He had claimed the provincial government could eliminate the electricity shortage if the Centre handed over the control of power supply to K-P.

Pakistan: Zardari asks Malik to speed up efforts for Faizullah Khan’s release

Former President and co-Chairperson of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Asif Ali Zardari has advised the party leader, Senator Rehman Malik to take all possible measures regarding the release of ARY News’ reporter, Faizullah Khan, who was recently convicted in Afghainstan and sentenced to four years imprisonment – ARY News reports.
According to details, former Interior Minister, Rehman Malik met Asif Ali Zardari here on Wednesday and discussed with him the matter of ARY News’ reporter, Faizullah Khan’s imprisonment in Afghanistan.
The former President directed Rehman Malik to take all possible measures for the release of Faizullah Khan and to speed up efforts in this regard.
On this occasion, Senator Rehman Malik also held a telephonic conversation with the father of Faizullah Khan, who thanked the ex-Interior Minister for taking personal interest regarding the release of his son.
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Media rights groups condemn sentencing Pakistani journalist in Afghanistan

By Mirwais Jalalzai
Afghan and international media rights groups are condemning the sentence of a Pakistani journalist by a court in eastern Nangarhar province, located near the Durand line.
On July 12 Khan, a reporter for ARY News TV based in Karachi, was sentenced to four years in jail for entering Afghanistan without proper documentation. A local court in Jalalabad dropped espionage charges that had also been made against him. Khan was on an assignment to interview a Taliban leader when he was arrested.
Afghan authorities had accused Khan of spying but no formal espionage charges were brought against him, according to ARY News officials.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) in its criticism of the harsh prison sentence imposed on TV journalist Faizullah Khan and is demanding the Afghan government immediately review the case with a view to granting Khan early release.
The Pakistani journalist was arrested in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar in April after traveling to the nearby Pakistani city of Peshawar to interview members of the Taliban. The IFJ urges the Afghanistan and Pakistan governments to act swiftly for the safe return of the journalist and to respect the rights of journalists gathering information.
The IFJ said: “It is deplorable the court has handed down such an excessive punishment when Faizullah Khan was merely carrying out his duty as a journalist. Journalists continue to take huge risks to investigate stories for the betterment of the society. We strongly believe this situation could be handled better rather than recourse to a wildly excessive jail term.” Reporters Without Borders and the Pakistani NGO Freedom Network on Wednesday called for Afghan authorities to quash the “utterly disproportionate” sentence on appeal.
Both Pakistan and Afghanistan are dangerous regions for journalists to operate in, with poor safety and security situations, and impunity in attacks on journalists. The IFJ urges journalists operating in the region to remain vigilant about the possible dangers especially when traveling to remote areas.
The Pakistani Embassy in Kabul is said to be involved to helping Khan in his legal fight.

Taliban Claim Responsibility for Kabul Airport Attack

The Taliban on Thursday said they were responsible for an ongoing assault on Kabul airport. "A number of our mujahedeen armed with heavy and light weapons have launched an attack on Kabul International Airport," the insurgents' spokesman Zabiuhallah Mujahid said in a statement.

Gunmen Attack Afghanistan’s Main Airport in Kabul, AP Reports

By Eltaf Najafizada
Gunmen have attacked Kabul airport in Afghanistan, the Associated Press reported, citing a military official.
The militants have taken over two buildings near the airport and are using it as a base to fire rockets, the AP cited Afzal Aman, a general in the Afghan army, as saying. Two attackers were killed by Afghan forces, according to the report.
Today’s assault is the second major militant raid in Afghanistan after the U.S. brokered a deal to audit votes in a disputed presidential election. Forty two people were killed in a suicide attack at a crowded market in the eastern part of the nation on July 15.
Afghan civilian casualties rose 24 percent in the first half of 2014 from a year earlier, the United Nations reported this month, as the nation prepares for its first transfer of power since the U.S invasion in 2001. Both candidates vying to replace President Hamid Karzai have vowed to sign a pact that would keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond this year.
U.S. President Barack Obama plans to reduce U.S. forces in Afghanistan to 9,800 by the end of this year, with only a small force at the embassy by the end of 2016, when he will be preparing to leave office.