Passenger flight MH17 crashed on Thursday from a height of 10,000 meters, with all 298 onboard killed. All sides agreed it was shot down by a missile. But no one has claimed responsibility for the disaster. Russia pointed its fingers at the Ukraine government, while Kiev claimed that the militias were to blame. The militias declared that they were not capable of shooting down a plane from that height. The Western media are already relating the tragedy to Russia, with British newspaper The Sun blaring on its front page that it was "Putin's missile." So far, all these accusations are in line with the political stance they have always been adhering to. But no indisputable evidence has been provided. The real culprit to blame, in fact, is the chaotic situation in Ukraine following the Crimea crisis. What Putin has said, that the tragedy would not have happened had there been peace in Ukraine, does make some sense. Similar cases in the past involving civil passenger aircraft being shot down were also related to political tensions during those times. In 1983, at the height of the Cold War, a Soviet fighter jet blew a South Korean passenger flight out of the sky. In 1988, during the Iran-Iraq war, the US navy shot down an Iranian civil airliner near the Strait of Hormuz. People thought such tragedies had become history. Now they have appeared again on the new "battlefield" in eastern Ukraine. The fact is that humans can never control the extent of irrationality and destruction during political and military conflicts. Once the evil of war comes out of Pandora's box, it is very difficult to put it back in. The US army has mistaken civilian sites as military targets many times in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, causing huge civilian casualties. But each time the US simply apologized, or just ignored it, and got away with it. That is the nature of war. While feeling sorry for Ukraine's current situation, we believe the way to permanently prevent tragic disasters of this kind is to restore peace to this country. The Western countries have been active in advocating and supporting the "democratic revolution" in Ukraine, so as to lure the country to become the frontier outpost of the West's geopolitical expansion. Ukraine has paid a huge price. We sincerely hope a thorough investigation can be conducted over the MH17 incident, and the culprits behind the tragedy are revealed. The political factors of the tragedy also need deep examination. Pointing fingers at each other will not help solve problems. Ukraine and the world need peace more than anything else.
Friday, July 18, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin conveyed his condolences to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte over the Malaysia Airlines passenger plane that crashed in eastern Ukraine and said the tragedy needs to be investigated objectively. “The head of the Russian state emphasized that the tragedy that occurred once again confirms the necessity of a quick peaceful settlement to the acute crisis in Ukraine and said that all of the circumstances around the aircraft disaster need to be investigated carefully and objectively,” the Kremlin’s press service said. Earlier, Putin also expressed his condolences to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed near the town of Torez in the Donetsk Region on Thursday. There were 283 passengers and 15 crew members on board. Various sources speculated that the plane was shot down by a Buk surface-to-air missile. Soon after the crash, an adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Minister wrote on his Facebook page that a Buk surface-to-air missile system was indeed used to down the plane, but insisted that the independence supporters had done that. Ukraine has repeatedly accused Russia of supplying arms to resistance forces in the east of Ukraine, although there has been no evidence to this effect. Ukrainian authorities and Malaysia Airlines are investigating the incident.
Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said here Friday in a press conference that according to the International Civil Aviation Organization's Annex 13, the Ukrainian government should institute an investigation into the circumstances of the deadly MH17 incident, and be responsible for the conduct of the investigation. He said Malaysia would offer its full and unqualified support to the investigation. "Malaysia has been formally invited to participate, and will send two senior accredited representatives to assist." Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, a Boeing 777-200, was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed Thursday in eastern Ukraine with 298 passengers and crew aboard, including 43 Malaysian citizens. No survivors have been found. Liow said Malaysia welcomed calls for an independent international investigation into the incident, and insisted that the integrity of the crash site should be preserved. The minister promised that Malaysia Airlines would take its responsibilities to the next of kin of the victims seriously, adding the company had arranged about 40 staff to be flown to Amsterdam to support the families. "In total, 62 people -- 30 SMART team members, 15 medical staff, 10 Royal Malaysia Air Force representatives, five Malaysia Airlines staff, two Department of Civil Aviation staff -- are traveling to Kiev," he said. Liow also gave an update on the nationalities of the passengers on board the aircraft, saying there were still 20 remaining to be verified. According to a latest list given by him, there were 173 people from the Netherlands, 44 Malaysians, 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians, nine British, four Germans, four Belgians, three Filipinos, one Canadian, and one New Zealander. "Once all families have been contacted, the passenger manifest will be released," he said, adding that Malaysia Airlines would release the cargo manifest later Friday. As to the flight path of MH17, Liow said it was approved by the International Civil Aviation Organization, and by the countries whose airspace the route passes through. "And the International Air Transportation Association has also stated that the airspace the aircraft was traversing was unrestricted," he added. He said 15 out of 16 airlines under the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines fly this route over Ukraine, and European airlines also used the same route, and traversed the same airspace. "In the hours before the incident, a number of other passenger aircraft from different carriers used the same route," he added. The minister also said there were no last minute instructions given to the pilots of MH17 to change the route of the flight. Liow said officials in the United States and Ukraine had indicated that MH17 was shot down. "Should this be confirmed, it would contravene international law, and be an outrage against human decency," he stressed. Liow said Malaysia condemned any such action in the strongest possible terms, and called for those responsible to be swiftly brought to justice. When asked whether the Malaysia Airlines chose this flight path in a bid to save fuel cost, he said such reports were not true.
By Emily Feldman
Violence against women continues to plague Turkey, and a pioneering new female political party blames Erdogan's machismo. Residents of an upscale Istanbul neighborhood flocked to their windows this month to watch a neighbor brutally beat his wife. One onlooker—a European woman—recounted the woman’s screams and her neighbors’ apathy in a post to an Istanbul Facebook group. “I asked one of the neighbors to call the police but she refused and continued watching, like it was a soap opera,” the woman wrote. “It seems violence is a normal thing here, and nobody cares!!” The post generated more than 100 comments, many from fellow Westerners who said that they too had been disturbed by violent scenes they couldn’t imagine unfolding back home: diners and waitstaff politely ignoring a man slapping his date in the face; pedestrians strolling past a public assault on a woman; a shopkeeper shrugging off a news report about a man slicing his wife’s nose off her face. “That’s Turkey,” a woman recalled the vendor saying. Violence against women is a pervasive problem in Turkey that affects nearly 40 percent of the country’s female population, according to widely cited 2009 study. It is behind 20 percent of divorces, according to a recent government survey, and has claimed at least 120 lives since January 1 alone, an increase from the same period last year, according to several Turkish NGOs and data from Bianet, a news site that tallies killings reported in the media. It spans class and location, even making its way onto mainstream TV, as it did in May when a dating game show contestant revealed, on air, that he had killed his wife and later axed his lover to death. Turkey’s chronic domestic violence was among the frustrations that prompted a group of women’s rights activists—seven women and two men—to escalate their fight for gender equality last month by launching what could become the country’s first-ever women’s political party to participate in general elections. The founding members of Kadin Partisi, or Women’s Party, reasoned the country was in need of a radical cultural shift that would only happen with more women in positions of power. As traditional activists, they could only do so much—aid women after they had been beaten; fight discriminatory policies after they had been written; offer advice and hope it might be heeded. But a party that could fill the seats of government with women, they believe, could finally balance a masculine culture that permeates the rest of the country. “We are 50 percent of the population,” Fusun Yurtman, a founding board member, said in an interview with The Daily Beast. “Yet males are making decisions about women’s issues from the moment they’re born. Even from conception,” she added, referring to government attempts to limit access to abortions. Turkey’s political system is overwhelmingly male, with women accounting for just 14 percent of the seats in parliament and an even smaller sliver of local government positions, according to data from Kader, a group that tracks women’s participation in politics. Men also dominate the judiciary and police force—which should be strong lines of defense for victims of domestic violence, but which critics instead characterize as boys’ clubs that go easy on men when it comes to “family disputes.” “The problem is in the application, the interpretation of law,” said Fatma Aytac, another founding member, adding that cops and courts tend to view men as the head of the family and take their word over their wives’. “Police come from this culture. Everyone comes from this culture.”
The party also points a reproachful finger at Turkey’s populist prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for perpetuating the country’s machismo through routine off-the-cuff morality rants: about how abortion is murder, C-sections are unnatural, co-ed dorms are breeding grounds for vice, and how every woman should have three children. These statements, the party founders say, serve as a disturbing model for Erdogan supporters, whether his opinions find their way into policy or not. Whatever Erdogan’s influence on Turkey’s masculine culture may be, the country’s gender fault lines long predate his time in power. Domestic violence, for example, has provided thematic fodder for generations of writers and filmmakers. Turkish author Elif Shafak begins her novel Honor, a story about women murdered for shaming their families, with a childhood memory about a neighbor who beat his wife. “In the evenings we listened to the shouts, the cries, the swearing. In the morning we went on with our lives as usual. The entire neighborhood pretended not to have heard, not to have seen.” More recently, however, Shafak has expressed optimism about a growing grassroots movement in Turkey to acknowledge and end violence against women. “More and more public figures are coming out to say that domestic violence is everyone’s business and we should, as a society, interfere,” she wrote in a 2011 Guardian article. Zeynep Kandur, who works for the women’s branch of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, has also observed many improvements over the years. “Twenty years ago you wouldn’t report domestic violence,” she said. “You wouldn’t tell your own mother-in-law.” Through the bleakness of rising domestic violence statistics, she sees a positive sign: More women and families are now reporting these sorts of crimes rather than sweeping them under the rug.
he also defends Erdogan against accusations of machismo, arguing that he has consistently pushed for more women in the party and that, since he took power in 2003, female representation in parliament has increased from 4 to 14 percent. The founders of Kadin Partisi, however, see women in male-dominant political parties as subordinate to the parties’ masculine agendas. “They apply the parties’ policies, they collect the votes for men,” Yurtman said. The Women’s Party itself, the founders point out, does not plan to simply turn the tables and exclude men from their agenda. While boosting female representation in politics is a top priority, the party bills itself as a body striving for universal equality and eager to fight discrimination in any form. To realize their vision, the party will first have to raise enough money to build branches across the country—a necessity if they want a shot at participating in next year’s parliamentary elections. A pioneering women’s party established in Turkey in the 1970s failed to cross this critical threshold. On a recent sweltering Thursday afternoon several founders hunched over a table brainstorming how to do exactly that. They had launched too late to prepare for the country’s August presidential elections—which Erdogan is expected to win, extending his influence for at least another five years—but were optimistic, looking ahead to 2015. They said they had been well received by women on visits throughout the country and they reasoned that if they could get just one supporter per household, they’d be in business. “We can easily convince them,” Aytac said.
Three policemen and a passerby were killed and three others injured when unidentified gunmen attacked a police party in Pishtkhara area on the outskirts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa capital on Friday. Superintendent of Police (SP) Cant, Muhammad Faisal confirmed that three policemen and a civilian have been killed and three including two cops and another passerby wounded in the ambush. “The policemen were breaking their fast at a local restaurant at Landi Akhun Ahmed neighbourhood on the outskirts of the city when unknown assailants opened indiscriminate firing on their van killing three policemen and a waiter of the restaurant on the spot,” he said. The dead and the injured have been shifted to the Khyber Teaching Hospital. An official of the KTH hospital said that seven injured were brought to the hospital where two policemen including ASI Noor Muhammad and driver of the police mobile van Baz Muhammad succumbed to their injuries. The eyewitnesses said that the policemen were staying for Iftar near a roadside restaurant when the attackers riding a car opened fire on them resulting in the death of three cops and wounded four others. Peshawar police chief Ijaz Ahmed confirmed to the media that policemen were having Iftar out in the open when targetted by the miscreants riding a white car. He also confirmed the number of casualties. Meanwhile, the bomb disposal squad defused a bomb near Khyber police checkpost in Hayatabad. Sources said that two kilograms of homemade explosive material was recovered and seized near the checkpost. Nobody has claimed responsibility for the incident but the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have been wedging an ongoing war against the state. Earlier in the morning, a police van was blown up with an improvised explosive device (IED) at the centre of the city killing one police official. Pakistan launched a long-awaited operation in the North Waziristan tribal district last month aimed at eliminating Taliban and other militant bases after a dramatic attack on Karachi airport which marked the end of a faltering peace process with the Pakistani Taliban. Nearly a million people have been forced to flee from North Waziristan by the offensive. Analysts have warned that the operation would likely lead to reprisal attacks in Pakistan's major cities at the hands of sleeper cells of militant outfits linked to the Taliban. Thousands of civilians have died since the militants rose up against the Pakistani state more than a decade ago.
The UN says over 5,500 civilians have been killed and thousands more injured in the foreign-backed militancy across Iraq so far this year.
The UN mission to Iraq said in a new report on Friday that at least 5,576 civilians were killed and another 11,665 wounded in Iraq since January across the crisis-hit country. This comes as the mission has put last month’s death toll at over 2,400 across the crisis hit country. The figure also makes June the deadliest month so far in 2014. The report is the UN’s latest detailed account of the impact of months of violence by the ISIL militants in Iraq's north. “The fighting has inflicted untold hardship and suffering on the civilian population with large-scale killings, injuries," the report noted, adding that another 1.2 million people have been driven from their homes by the ongoing al-Qaeda-linked militancy. The developments come as rights groups say hundreds of thousands have fled their homes in Mosul, Iraq’s second-biggest city, fearing abductions and killings. The city has been under militant control since last month. Recently, several gruesome videos were released, purportedly showing members of the Takfiri ISIL group brutally killing Shia Muslims in drive-by shootings in Iraq. The terrorist group has links with Saudi intelligence services and is believed to be indirectly supported by the Israeli regime. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has blamed Saudi Arabia and Qatar for the security crisis and growing terrorism in his country, denouncing Riyadh as a major supporter of global terrorism.
Islamic State group tells Christian community in Mosul they face death if they do not embrace Islam or pay tax.
The Islamic State group has threatened Christians in the Iraqi city of Mosul with death if they do not to convert to Islam or pay a tax, Al Jazeera has learned. The Sunni rebel group issued the orders in a letter after Friday prayers. The document, obtained by Al Jazeera, states that the order was issued after Christian leaders failed to attend a meeting called by the group. In response, the group says in the letter that Christians must either convert to Islam, pay a special tax on non-Muslims known as jiziya, or face death "as a last resort". Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, was overrun by the Islamic State group and allied rebel groups last month.
The Iraqi army units stationed in the city, most of whom were Shia, fled after the group crossed from Syria and attacked the north of Iraq. Before the attack, Mosul's Christian community was estimated at 3,000. Many are believed to have already fled the city as part of an exodus of up to one-third of the population. Churches and Christian-owned shops in the city were reported smashed by those who fled.The Islamic State's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, held a sermon in Mosul's grand mosque two weeks ago, calling on all Muslims to unite behind his group.The Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, has issued similar demands in areas in control in Syria, and has posted pictures of Christians being crucified for disobeying orders in Raqqa. Church leaders in Iraq have not responded to the threats officially. Nickolay Mladenov, the head of the UN assistance mission In Iraq, condemned the order. "Any persecution of minorities constitutes a crime against humanity and we urge all sides to protect civilians. We have produced a report listing attacks on civilians and have brought this up at the highest levels of the Iraqi government."
Criticising the ruling style of the Sharif brothers, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Punjab Secretary General Tanvir Ashraf Kaira has said that “outsourcing” the chief ministership by Shahbaz Sharif is an hierarchical inclination that diametrically runs against the democratic culture.Clarifying in a statement on Thursday that PPP’s support to the PML-N government should not be taken for granted, Kaira added that the rulers should focus on providing relief to the people instead of compounding their miseries through neglect and inaptness. Kaira said that PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari accepted the results of May 2013 elections for the sake of continuity of political system despite his serious reservations on the fairness and impartiality of the electoral process but that did not give carte blanche to the ruling party to trample on the aspirations of the people with total impunity. He said that the hours-long electricity outages, skyrocketing food inflation, worsening law and order and abject neglect of the health and education sectors have made the lives of the people miserable and the apathy of the government was appalling that could not be condoned by the PPP, which strictly believed in the people’s politics. The PPP leader said that the PML-N government should jettison the family style of governance, adding their intimidation of elected representatives and ministers alike would not bear fruit. He said that the prime minister and the chief minister should conduct their government affairs in harmony with the elected representatives of the people in real sense of the word. The highest public offices should not be treated as family fiefdom, he observed. Kaira called upon the government to accept the demands of the PTI and immediately initiate the process of thumbprints verification in four constituencies of Lahore to avoid the clash in August. He expressed the hope that good thinking would prevail at the end of the day. He pointed out that the manoeuvring/delaying thumbprints verification through procedural lacunas by the PML-N leaders would not help to shy away the possibility of gathering a political storm with terrible consequences for the system and the country. He maintained that consistent engagement with the opposition was the best policy in any functioning democracy because opposition was the integral part of any democratic set-up. “The opposition is treated as a government-in-waiting and accepted as such,” he added.
Former Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani payed a visit to the camps of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) at Bannu on Friday, ARY News reports. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) representatives Syed Khursheed Ahmad Shah, Qamar Zamar Kaira and other party members accompanied Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani on the tour. PPP members asked the displaced persons about the problems they were facing. They also distributed ration amongst the IDPs. Gillani, while speaking to media on the occasion, said that he was happy that the federal government and Sindh Government are working together. - See more at: http://arynews.tv/en/gillani-visits-idps-camps-at-bannu/#sthash.iGz7c7TP.dpuf
What do a Communist state and an Islamic Republic have in common? Not much, perhaps, and yet in the fast-changing world of international relations, China and Pakistan have managed to maintain a strong friendship from the 1960s onward. Today, despite its growing isolation on the international stage, Pakistan can still counts on China as its closest ally. Particularly as the country’s troubled relation with the United States seems to deteriorate by the day, China has emerged in the eyes of many Pakistanis to the image of a peaceful, supportive neighbor. As a recent survey has shown, 81 percent of Pakistanis view China favorably, second in this special chart only to China itself. Recurrent protestations of friendship and reciprocal approval seem to reinforce this view, as do public announcements of triumphal development projects such as the China-Pakistan economic corridor, the Gwadar Port, and other initiatives. On a different note, however, some analysts have pointed out that the waters beneath the surface of this relation might, in fact, be much more agitated than the public displays would suggest. In particular, it has been argued that the alleged presence of Uyghur militants in North Waziristan, which Beijing hold responsible for several terrorist attacks on its soil, might represent a source of tension between the two countries. In this sense Mushahid Hussain, head of the Defense Committee of the Pakistani Senate and chairman of the Pakistan China institute, in a recent interview seemed to imply that Chinese pressure played some kind of role in the ongoing military operation in Pakistan’s North Waziristan, where several ETIM militants are allegedly based. And yet, in this as in other public statements by Pakistani and Chinese officials, always the “convergence of interest” between the two countries, and a mutual appreciation of each other’s efforts, are underlined. The issue of Uyghur militants in Pakistan, moreover, seems of little concern for Pakistan’s general public, rather concerned with an Islamist threat in its own country and with the US’s activities along its borders. Recently, however, a few stories show a different side to this relationship, one that is not always considered when it comes to the heights and depths of the two countries’ “all-weather” friendship. The first is the story, widely reported and discussed in Pakistan, of the Chinese government banning Xinjiang officials from fasting during Ramadan. The news sparked an array of surprised and angry responses, but also a more interesting debate on the value of Pakistan’s friendship with China. Many, like Rafia Zakaria for Dawn, have called out Pakistan’s hypocrisy in its relations with China, accusing the country of being eager to stand up to injustices committed against Muslims only when those are not perpetrated by its “friends.” In a late – and rather paltry – move, the Pakistani government eventually adopted a public stance, in which it allied itself, once again, with the Chinese government. Asked about the issue, Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam was reported as saying that “The Chinese have clarified that there is no such ban on fasting and that they respect the freedom of religion,” adding that these reports were just rumors and factually incorrect. Few, however, seemed convinced by those words. The other two news items, on the other hand, didn’t attract much attention either within Pakistan or abroad, perhaps because they originated from the remote (geographically and politically) Gilgit-Baltistan region, near the Chinese border. The first was reported by Pamir Times, a small internet blog established in 2006, which has rapidly become the most important online news portal in Gilgit-Baltistan. The article, entitled “Locals in Gojal Valley demand more responsible behavior from Chinese workers” raises an important issue for many inhabitants of Gilgit-Baltistan, where many Chinese workers are involved in construction projects, such as the realignment of the Karakoram Highway. As I had the chance to hear personally during my fieldwork in the area in 2013, many locals accuse the Chinese workers of not respecting the local cultures, of selling alcohol, causing incidents and, at times, of not bringing anything to the local economy. As I was often told in the region, if the Chinese workers’ attitude was to be taken as an indicator of the quality of China’s friendship, then Pakistan shouldn’t really trust its “all-weather” ally. The second bit of news, first reported by an even smaller internet blog, Sost Today, was on the other hand centered on the Sost Dry Port “drama,” as Pamir Times defined it. The Dry Port was set up in 2001 in Sost, Pakistan’s border town along the Karakoram Highway, to facilitate and enhance trade relations with the People’s Republic of China. The administration of the Dry Port is for the 60 percent in the hand of the Chinese Sino-Trans Company, and for the 40 percent in the hand of local investors, a situation which had led to numerous scandals in the past. On this most recent occasion the Dry Port was closed by its Chinese administrators demanding protection of the “interests of Chinese” in a note posted on the sealed gates. The note, allegedly, followed a brawl which saw the new Pakistani chairman of the Dry Port assaulted by – or assaulting, it’s still not clear – a Chinese official in his office. The incident, although it remains quite murky, signals a certain tension between the two parties, and seems to point toward well-established mutual accusations and suspicions. The Express Tribune, running the story a few days later, significantly titled it “bad for business,” a concern that seems shared by many in the area. In the course of my fieldwork along the Karakoram Highway, in both Xinjiang and Pakistan, I was often confronted with similar issues. Some Chinese traders and officials were eager to highlight the laziness and inefficiency of the Pakistanis; while on the other side many Pakistani businessmen despised the Chinese for cheating and for their arrogance. On a more general level, the situation appeared complex and multi-layered. For many Pakistanis, China remained a trustworthy fried. For others: it is another external power that simply aims at using Pakistan for its own advantages. For many, at least in Gilgit-Baltistan, it appeared as a necessary evil, an economic power with the ability to develop infrastructure and trade, yet with the potential to eventually lead the whole region toward unpredictable, and negative, future outcomes. On the ground, then, the trope of “China-Pakistan friendship” seems more complex than anything revealed by the official statements of the two governments. As these recent news items suggest, Pakistani’s favorable attitude toward the PRC should not be taken for granted. On the other hand, it could be argued that for as long as Pakistanis see the United States as the overarching cause of almost all of the country’s problems, China’s position is not likely to change. And yet, as Germany and the United States have recently demonstrated over the espionage row, even a long-lasting friendship can abruptly take a turn for the bad. Maybe it’s time for somebody to start worrying about the possibility of losing a friend.
Balochistan faces 1110 Mega Watts shortfall as its demand has touched a mark of 1600 MW while available supply is 950 MW. Sources said that 5 to 6 hours daily load shedding is made in Quetta city. However, due to system overloading sometimes there is tripping and low voltage. According to the sources daily 10 hours supply is made in Pishin, Killa Abdullah, Mastung, Kalat, Zhob, Killa Saifullah and all city feeders in different timings while Jaffarabad, Nasirabad, are supplied 12 hours and Sibi 18 hours daily. All rural and agri feeders are supplied for 7 hours daily because owning to extensive overloading of system more than 7 hours supply is not possible.
Shia noha khwan (noha reciter) embraced martyrdom when takfiri terrorists of banned Sipah-e-Sahaba and Taliban opened fire upon him in Peshawar, capital city of Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa province. Sabah Ali was on way back to home from his Khams Jeweller shop when notorious takfiri terrorists ambushed him. He was noha khwan of Ganj Shaheed Matami Sangat. His namaz-e-janaza will be held at Imam Bargah Pathar Wala Ganj today. Shia parties and leaders have condemned the unabated genocide against Shiites across Pakistan. Talking to the Shiite News, they demanded military operation to eliminate the takfiri terrorists.
Acting on a tip-off, Punjab Police raided a house located in Araiyan Pind near Raiwind at 2 am on Thursday. Reportedly, the house had been rented by militants one month ago, and its close proximity (2 kilometers) to the Sharif family’s Raiwind Palace gives reason to believe that the premier and his family members may have been the targets. The siege lasted for a long 10 hours during which guns, rocket launchers and grenades were fired as terrorists offered stiff resistance to Elite Force (EF) personnel. EF personnel were under strict instructions to operate with extreme caution owing to the possible presence of hostages in the safe house. Two personnel lost their lives in the line of duty and two terrorists, who appeared to be locals according to initial reports, were also killed. Certain reports suggest that terrorists were affiliated with al-Qaeda but such has not been officially confirmed by the government or security forces. The entire episode may have been shocking, even frightening, but it wasn’t one bit surprising. The ongoing military operation has led to militants being forced to flee from an integral base in Miranshah. Mir Ali will likely follow. They are losing ground and will grow desperate over time, which can only mean two things: they will surrender or attack with conviction to deter the state from further action. So, this was bound to happen. And somewhere else, in a different part of this province or this country, it may happen again. It is the price of war which must be paid if it is to be won. However, law enforcement agencies got there in time on this occasion and fought bravely to neutralise the immediate threat, for which they must be congratulated. The sacrifice of brave personnel ought to evoke the deepest feelings of gratitude and pride amongst all well-wishing inhabitants of this land. But we can’t have too many of ‘you miss, they hit’ scenarios. We can react on intelligence reports and tip-offs, of course, but other preemptive measures nonetheless remain vital in countering terrorism. We can’t have unsupervised pockets within cities where terrorists can find refuge and carry out activities from there. It is simply not possible for a single federal unit or force to oversee the entire territory ranging from the outskirts of Lahore to unregulated slums in Islamabad and Karachi. The police remain most suitable to provide basic intelligence and keep a look out for suspicious activity in aid of civilian population. An SHO of a local Police station is as critical in preventing terrorism as any other high-ranking official. Have the local ‘thaanas’ been mobilised to become an active part of some larger campaign? Do we now have a mechanism to enable information-sharing and co-operation amongst different authorities concerned with security?
That the government would literally find itself surrounded by militants is not entirely surprising. For far too long, the PML-N has been in denial about the growing strength of militant organisations in Punjab. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif infamously asked the TTP to spare the province because it had no grudge with the militant group. No longer can it bury its head in the sand. The operation in Raiwind, which escalated into a 10-hour gun battle, shows that militants are plotting to carry out attacks in Punjab. The apparent target of the militants in Raiwind was the prime minister’s house; and all the militants apparently belonged to a local outfit. The government has always treated militant groups in Punjab as separate from the TTP; some reports even suggesting it had in the past sought their support. It is no longer possible to draw a distinction between the various militant groups. All of them share the same aims and propensity for violence. The military operation in North Waziristan will never achieve lasting success if it isn’t backed up with police action in Punjab and other militant hotbeds like Karachi. Law-enforcement agencies will point to the operation in Raiwind as a success but there are many questions that need to be answered. How, for example, where militants plotting so close to the prime minister’s estate and yet were undetected for so long? We also need to be told which of the many militant outfits the plotters belonged to. The modus operandi of Punjabi militant groups has generally been to carry out sectarian attacks, especially in Balochistan. If they are now directly taking on the government, as the audacious plan to attack the PM House would suggest, that calls for a change in how the government deals with them. Not only should all such militant groups be immediately outlawed, the government will also have to seize their assets and arrest their members to neutralise them. This should serve as a reminder that the militancy problem is not just restricted to the tribal areas but has spread throughout the country. The Punjab-centric PML-N has fallen prey to the unfortunate tendency to treat Fata and its people as somehow foreign without realising that militancy is a country-wide phenomenon. Hopefully now, instead of just relying on air strikes and ground troops in the tribal areas, the government will tackle the poisonous ideology that has permeated society.
IT is indeed a damning milestone. As reported on Thursday, the country has detected its 94th polio case this year, surpassing last year’s total cases reported. If this trend continues and with a little over five months to go before the year ends, we could be heading for an alarmingly high number of total polio cases for 2014. And with international pressure building on Pakistan thanks to our reputation as a polio ‘exporter’, such a high number of cases could translate into even greater global isolation for the country. In comparison, in Afghanistan, which is much less developed than Pakistan where state infrastructure is concerned, only seven cases have been reported this year. What is troubling is that most of these have been traced to Pakistan. The vast majority of cases in this country — 70 so far — have been reported from Fata, though a surprisingly high number (seven cases) have been reported from Karachi. This gives the state a fair idea about the key geographic areas vaccinators must focus on. And while the military operation in North Waziristan has caused a tragic exodus of IDPs, it has also thrown up an opportunity to immunise the children who were out of reach thanks to the vaccination ‘ban’ imposed by militants in parts of Fata. The state must target IDP camps as well as the cities and towns where displaced families are settling in order to vaccinate children with multiple doses. However, as the number of cases reported so far proves, the official response to the polio crisis has been woefully inadequate. For example, there seems to be no organised effort to vaccinate passengers or check for certificates at airports, despite WHO’s call for immunisation of all travellers to and from Pakistan issued last month. The world’s concerns must not be taken lightly. If strains of polio originating in Pakistan are discovered elsewhere, travel restrictions will only get tougher. At the same time, we must not ignore the core problem: ensuring every vulnerable child is immunised.
Aside from what Asif Ali Zardari has said about Nawaz Sharif and what Imran Khan wants to do on August 14, a sense is prevalent that something is wrong with the present government. At times it looks as if the people occupying its top slots are in a state of trance. Sleepwalking through rough and tough, the people of Pakistan contend with on daily basis. The promises so vociferously made by them before election are nowhere being honoured. Though even then nobody believed that on coming to power the Sharifs-led elected dispensation would be able to end the energy deficit ridding people of the lingering curse of loadshedding. That after a year of coming to power not only loadshedding continues, it has in fact exacerbated, forcing the yesterday's loudmouths to publicly confess their failure and seek divine forgiveness. The problem is too big they say now. Is it then that their pre-poll promises were sham, or is it that they lack competence and are incapable of comprehending the enormity of the problem of loadshedding? There is this demon of circular debt that refuses to be tamed; energy thieves are on a permanent parole; and obsolete transmission and distribution system is the main problem. It is unacceptable in any modern democracy that those jockeying for power are so profoundly ignorant of the affairs of the state they hope to govern. As the country sizzled in mid-40s temperatures power deficit rose to several thousands megawatts, a figure hitherto known. That a year on the runaway inflation has been contained, merit is being given due recognition, law and order situation has improved. No, none of these happened. Balochistan remains ungovernable, as much courtesy the ongoing proxies war of our 'friends' as for unending politicking with every second politician wanting to be a minister if not chief minister. As for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, there is this unending Centre-province confrontation on almost every issue. In Sindh, the relationship between the province and Centre is apparently friction-free - until, perhaps, Asif Ali Zardari's statement about the credibility of the 2013 elections. With all this turmoil making for the backdrop one gets the eerie feeling as if the entire system is unravelling. No wonder then there is this demand for fresh elections. Indeed, political stability is critical to the success of an elected government, but provision of a snap election is also an irreplaceable part of every working parliamentary system. Electoral mandate is no licence; it is a responsibility. How come Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif remained nonchalant for several weeks about the continuing absence of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali from the parliament during these critical times? As a parliamentary opposition you have the liberty to duck harsh decisions by playing tricks with people's hopes and concerns; but, as a government your responsibility is to plan and deliver. But that is not happening. God knows why the 'visionaries' in the Sharifs governments - and they are many - would like to see beyond what is actual on the ground. For instance, take the case of an under-construction Rawalpindi-Islamabad metro-bus project. Of the traffic load between the twin cities, the Murree Road, which is being upgraded, takes not more than 35 percent, rest of the 65 percent lies through Islamabad Highway, Kashmir Highway and from Barakahu Township. Just by activating the Rawalpindi-Islamabad rail link the load on Murree Road could be cut by half. This and other such mega projects can be put off for the time being and money thus saved is used to improve the energy supply system. It's time the government should collect itself, shun procrastination, and confront the challenges head on. Should the habit of delaying and postponing crucial decisions persist the danger is that whatever little improvement has taken place in financial and investment sectors will melt away under the weight of political uncertainty and a woeful lack of clarity. Let the opposition politicians say whatever they want to say; it is their right. But the government is expected to respond not by words but by actions. And people are the judge. They want to know what stops the government from appointing permanent heads of scores of high offices in government enterprises. And why many of the appointments made by the government have been rejected by the courts on legal grounds. It doesn't behove a government anxious to complete its term to run its affairs in an ambience that is largely characterised by ad hocism.
Nothing underlines the critical need for a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy better than Thursday’s encounter with terrorists in Raiwind, Lahore, close to Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif’s residence. The encounter is not without a touch of irony, given the PM’s instructions to COAS General Raheel Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali on Wednesday that the militants should be hunted down all over the country. From reports, it appears the militants were conducting surveillance of the PM’s residence for months from a rented house in the vicinity guarded by armed men and whose inhabitants kept themselves aloof from the surrounding community. One terrorist was killed and one critically wounded in the raid, for the loss of one police officer. Explosives and other weapons were discovered at the house, some of which were destroyed on the spot. In a parallel vein, nothing underlines the critical need for a comprehensive counter-insurgency strategy better than the trajectory of Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) since its launch about a month ago. Between the lines, a tacit admission by the military can be read by informed observers that its cordon around North Waziristan may have been too little too late, allowing terrorist guerrillas to move away before the start of the offensive into adjoining tribal Agencies or even into Afghanistan. Whether the attack from across the border on a check post in Bajaur Agency the other day was the work of the militants from Swat under Mulla Fazlullah who had earlier taken refuge across the border or of the later fighters of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to have escaped across the border does not matter as much as the fact that Pakistan now faces hostile guerrilla forces just across its western border that seem bent upon mounting cross-border raids every so often. To deal with terrorist fighters who may have escaped from NWA to Bajaur and stop any repetition of the recent cross-border raid that cost the lives of an army captain and two soldiers, the military was poised to start an offensive in Bajaur Agency. However, the offensive has now been postponed on the request of a local jirga that has set up a peace lashkar (militia) to defend the area against cross-border incursions and suppress any terrorist presence or support network of the militants within the Agency. In this regard, the tribal elders and tribesmen have reverted to their traditional role of the first line of defence of the western border. However, given the dire fate of similar tribal lashkars set up in the past in this and other Agencies, appropriate steps are necessary to provide support and backing to the lashkar in the fight against the enemy. The contemplated, now postponed military foray into Bajaur Agency serves to highlight the necessity to treat the FATA theatre as a whole if the terrorist threat is to be eliminated.Nothing underlines the critical necessity of the coordination of both the comprehensive counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency strategies better than the timely success of the intelligence-led encounter with the terrorists spying on the PM’s residence. The success was underwritten by better coordination amongst all the intelligence agencies and law enforcement forces. Ideally, a central command and control mechanism should have been created to coordinate the various strands of the anti-terrorist struggle. NACTA was considered for such a role, but, toothless as NACTA is, and given the tug of war over its command being under the (present) PM’s Secretariat or the interior ministry, it no longer provides a credible template for a centralised command and control with a common data base that is still critical for the anti-terrorist campaign in both its counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency facets. A long struggle lies ahead against a determined and elusive enemy capable of melting away in the face of overwhelming force or other danger and living to fight another day. For asymmetrical warriors, survival in the face of a superior force itself is a victory. For the state, nothing short of annihilation of the terrorist threat, now that the die has finally been cast, will do.
At least eight people were killed and three others injured in two consecutive explosions on Thursday. According to police, the explosions took place in Dorri Banda area. Officials said that the incident took place when a roadside bomb hit a passenger vehicle. Police and rescue teams rushed to the site and shifted the bodies and injured to the District HQs Hospital Hangu. Police said that at least four people were killed on the spot while some were critical and shifted to the hospital. Around 20 people were on board the vehicle that was coming from neighbouring Hangu city. Hospital officials said that the death toll might rise as some of the injured were in a critical condition. Police said ball bearings were used in the bomb that was detonated remotely. Rescue teams arrived at the scene soon after the blasts and shifted the bodies and injured to hospital. No group or militant organisation has claimed responsibility for the attack. Hangu has recently become target of such bomb attacks. In January this year six children were killed and one injured in a hand grenade attack in Hangu. The children, aged seven to 12, were playing near their house in the town of Hangu when the grenade exploded. Five boys and one girl were killed in the blast. One other child was injured. Syed Ahmed Jan, a senior local administration official had said, “The children were playing with a hand grenade they found on nearby open ground.” According to another police official said the children were members of the same family who had migrated from the neighbouring Orakzai Agency where the military was battling the Taliban. According to police, the children were playing with a “toy-shaped thing” inside their house and it exploded.
Eight Frontier Constabulary (FC) personnel were killed and two others sustained injuries in an attack on a security convoy in Khyber Agency, Express News reported on Friday. Unidentified armed men carried out the attack near a check post located in the Ghundai area of Jamrud tehsil in early hours. The paramilitaries, who served with the FC, came under fire by militants in the Jamrud area of the Khyber tribal district around 1:00am local time, a senior security official told AFP. “A team of FC was moving to counter the militants on a tip off but they became under fire beforehand. At least eight security persons were killed in an exchange of fire,” the official said. Two vehicles of the FC personnel were also damaged in the attack. Four of the attackers were killed on retaliation by the security forces. Another official said that three militants were also arrested after the gun battle while around a dozen escaped from the scene. “A curfew was imposed in the area and a door-to-door search is underway,” he said.
The Express Tribune
PPP Co Chair Asif Ali Zardari pays glowing tributes to Shahnawaz Bhutto
“On the martyrdom anniversary of Shaheed Shahnawaz Shaheed on Friday July 18, a scion of the Bhutto family, the son of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Maadar i Jamhoriat Begum Nusrat Bhutto our thoughts go to the valiant struggle of the Bhuttos and the innumerable people inspired and motivated by them who laid down their lives or suffered indescribably in other ways in the cause of democracy. “Shahnawaz Bhutto was killed in the prime of his life when he was just twenty seven. Fighting a heroic battle against dictatorship from the age of eighteen he was in the forefront of the democratic struggle in Pakistan during the dark days of dictatorship. “Shahnawaz followed the footsteps of Quaid e Awam Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who laid down his life while fighting for the democratic rights of the people of the country. “Twenty nine years have passed since Shahnawaz was killed. The pain bites the soul as one recalls how, one tragic morning, he was found dead on a foreign floor killed by the enemies of democracy and the Bhuttos. “Many would recall the hero’s welcome Shahnawaz received when Shaheed Mohtarma Bhutto then in exile brought his dead body back to Garhi Khuda Bakhsh, the final resting place of the martyrs. “The Bhuttos have made unimaginable sacrifices for the country. The former first lady Maadar i Jamhooriat Begum Nusrat Bhutto saw her husband, two sons and illustrious daughter martyred. Shaheed Benazir Bhutto laid down her life leading the fight for democracy and against militancy from the front. Mir Murtaza Bhutto embraced martyrdom at the hands of the enemies of democracy. It is the support and prayers of the people which have enabled the Bhuttos and the democracy loving people to face with courage the darkest and most dreadful days. “The sacrifice of these great scions of Bhutto family shall not go in vain. Nor shall go in vain the sacrifices of all those who were martyred in the cause of the struggle for democracy. It is because of their sacrifices that the sun of democracy shines rekindling the hope of a brighter future for our downtrodden people. May the soul of Shaheed Shanawaz Bhutto rest in eternal peace.”
Afghan election workers on Thursday began auditing the votes cast in last month’s presidential election runoff, monitored by American and United Nations observers. The audit of almost eight million ballots cast in the June 14 runoff was part of a deal brokered last weekend by Secretary of State John Kerry to ease a dispute between the two candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, that had threatened to fracture Afghanistan’s government only months before the NATO-led combat mission here is to formally end. Mr. Abdullah and Mr. Ghani also agreed to enact broad changes to Afghanistan’s system of government in the coming years. But first the audit must determine who will actually be Afghanistan’s next president. It is a huge undertaking that is expected to take three to six weeks and, officials cautioned, run into snags along the way.
Increasing the international presence here to handle the large volume of votes to be audited has proved a challenge. Many of the roughly 30 foreign observers who took part in Thursday’s initial auditing session were United Nations officials and American development experts who had been pulled off other projects. An additional 70 observers are being flown in from Europe and the United States, and they should be in place by next week, officials said. The American-led military coalition is flying ballot boxes from across Afghanistan to Kabul so they can be audited.
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when observant Muslims fast throughout the day, has further complicated the audit. With sunrise coming before 5 a.m., and sunset not taking place until after 7 p.m., many Afghans are eating a single meal at the end of the day. For them, working a full eight hours is becoming an increasing challenge as the month progresses. To accommodate Ramadan, Afghan and foreign officials are hoping to use two shifts of workers so that ballot boxes can be audited from early morning until 5 p.m. The officials said they expected the entire operation to be up and running by next week. On Thursday, election workers and international observers went through only a tiny fraction of the votes cast at roughly 22,000 polling places across Afghanistan. They began in the early afternoon, after a final round of meetings between the campaigns, American and United Nations officials, and the leadership of Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission. President Hamid Karzai, who had set Aug. 2 as the inauguration date of his successor, has said that he wants the audit done as quickly as possible. American and European officials agree, and they say a new president will ideally be in office before NATO countries meet in September.
Human Rights Watch says Bahrain's expulsion of a senior State Department official last week shows the kingdom is not serious about political reforms. The human rights group also is criticizing the Obama administration's response. As part of efforts to encourage reforms promised following 2011 protests in Manama, the State Department sent its top human rights official, Tom Malinowski, to Bahrain last week. He was expelled from the Gulf kingdom, though, after he refused to allow authorities to join his meeting with opposition leaders. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Secretary of State John Kerry called Bahrain's foreign minister to protest the expulsion. "We were very clear that we found some of the requests issued by the government of Bahrain to be inappropriate and contravening international diplomatic norms and conventions," she said. "We also have an important relationship with the government of Bahrain. We've made our concerns known." 'Inadequate' response A big part of that important relationship is having Bahrain as the base for U.S. Navy operations in the Persian Gulf and parts of the Indian Ocean. That has contributed to what Sarah Margon of Human Rights Watch calls an "inadequate" response by the U.S. "The U.S. needs to take much stronger measures and show that the ouster of Malinowski is not only problematic in the near-term but problematic in the long-term for our own national security interests," she said. Margon said Bahrain's demand to monitor Malinowski's meeting with opposition leaders shows it is not serious about reform. "It's completely arbitrary and it's very worrisome and shows that Bahrain isn't really ready to conduct a national dialogue. It's not interested," she said. Political reform focus A Bahraini government statement said Malinowksi was interfering in its internal affairs. That explanation is far different from the government refusing political reforms, according to former U.S. ambassador to Bahrain Adam Ereli. "That doesn't mean that somehow the Bahraini government is walking away from the dialogue process," he said. "It may be that they are just concerned about the United States playing a helpful or not-helpful role. I think it says more about the Bahraini government's attitude towards and position towards the United States than it does towards the opposition." Ereli believes it is more a question of the Obama administration's approach to the kingdom. "They're happy to work with people who they think are trying to be helpful," he said. "But if they think they are not trying to be helpful they're not going to hesitate to do what any sovereign state would do which is to say: Thanks but no thanks. Bye-bye." Margon said the expulsion is troubling at a time when she says Washington is not taken as seriously in the region as it needs to be. "Bahrain is definitely stuck in a larger geopolitical situation, which makes it very difficult not only for the reformers I would say within the Bahraini government to have any real leverage, but also it puts the U.S. certainly in a tight spot," she said. Meanwhile, Washington is calling on all sides in Bahrain to recommit to the reconciliation process.
When Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the enigmatic leader of the al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic State (IS, formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS), appeared on a video posted online in early July addressing a congregation of faithful at a mosque in Mosul, pundits oozed commentary about his words and his attire. Was the self-declared caliph’s watch a Rolex? If so, how did this sit with the teachings of Islam? they mused.
But a no less significant detail escaped unnoticed. After his fiery speech, Baghdadi was whisked away to the Islamic State's new headquarters — the Turkish Consulate in Mosul. “It is absolutely true that IS has been using the Turkish Consulate as its main headquarters and that Baghdadi spent several hours there,” confirmed Atheel al-Nujaifi, the governor of Mosul, in a telephone interview with Al-Monitor. “It is their office.” Not that the Turkish public would ever know. Soon after the Islamic State stormed the Turkish Consulate on June 10, taking all 49 there hostage — including Consul General Ozturk Yilmaz — Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government passed a law that effectively bans all public debate and reporting of the crisis. The rationale for this crude display of censorship, which has become a trademark of AKP rule, is that discussing the fate of the hostages might put their lives at risk. While there is some merit to this argument, it is also true that the Mosul affair is a huge embarrassment for the AKP government, not least because of glaring lapses in security. Nujaifi had, along with Turkey’s national spy agency MIT, advised that the consulate be evacuated days before the IS raid only to be vetoed by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, according to media reports. In a characteristic fit of hubris, Davutoglu is alleged to have argued that “the Turkish flag must continue to fly.” Not only did IS attack the Turkish Consulate — it is occupying it. Yet, fearful of provoking the jihadists, Turkey’s often bombastic prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has not uttered a peep. To the contrary, Erdogan has lashed out at those he claims want him to "provoke" IS. And he has warned the United States against any airstrikes against IS in Iraq. More recently he referred to the Islamic State, which is officially designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, as “an organization,” with no qualifiers added. Speaking at an iftar dinner, he implored that IS free all its Turkish captives. “A Muslim would not inflict this cruelty on another Muslim brother,” Erdogan said. This prompted critics to claim that Erdogan was calling IS “brothers.” Syrian and Turkish Kurds, meanwhile, continue to accuse Erdogan of letting IS use Turkey as a logistical base to pursue its campaign against the Syrian Kurdish militia known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG). Clashes between the jihadists and the Kurds have escalated around the town of Kobani, which lies opposite the Turkish township of Suruc. IS views Kobani as a strategic prize. At least 800 Turkish Kurds are believed to have crossed the border in recent days to take up arms alongside the YPG. About a thousand more Kurds are expected to join them on July 19, which marks the second anniversary of the “liberation” of Kobani from Syrian regime forces. “Kobani has become the new rallying point for the Kurds,” Ahmet Sumbul, a veteran Kurdish journalist based in Diyarbakir, told Al-Monitor. “And most believe that Turkey is helping ISIS,” he added. All of this imperils the peace negotiations between Turkey and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the Turkish rebel group that is closely linked to the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the YPG. Nujaifi declined to comment on possible collusion between Turkey and IS in Syria. “I am unaware of what is happening in Syria,” he said. And what of the Turkish hostages? “ISIS said they would release them ‘soon,’ but that was many weeks ago,” Nujaifi said. It is more likely that IS will hold on to them “for a while because IS wants to keep Turkey out of Iraq,” Nujaifi explained. Senior Western officials who are closely monitoring the situation agree that IS has no incentive to release the Turks, as this is their best way of ensuring that Turkey does not carry out any kind of military action against the jihadists. “Turkey apparently believed that it had some kind of entente cordiale with them,” said one. “Whether it did or not, after Mosul it has been forced into one,” the official concluded. As for Turkey's flag, Nujaifi noted that it no longer flew over the consulate building, but he added that the Islamic State had not yet raised its own colors. Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/07/zaman-isis-turkeys-mosul-consulate-headquarter-iraq.html##ixzz37nJTDDw1
Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday if she decides to run for the White House in 2016 she will have "a very specific agenda" but acknowledged in an interview that the modern role of U.S. president has "gotten even bigger and more difficult."Clinton said in an interview with PBS's Charlie Rose that her final decision will be "wholly personal" and does not want to decide until after she becomes a grandmother later this year. "If I decide to run, I will have a very specific agenda about what I think we should be doing. But right now, we have a big election, midterms 2014, that could determine the control of the Senate," Clinton said. "And I'm not going to, you know, jump the line and start talking about 2016 right now." Clinton leads Democratic presidential primary polls by wide margins but has not yet decided whether to run for president again. Her comments came as some Democrats have expressed hope that she will begin laying out a more specific vision for how she might lead the country if elected. The former secretary of state spoke in a wide-ranging interview with Rose airing Thursday and Friday to promote her book, "Hard Choices," about her time at the State Department. Hours after a Malaysian Airlines plane was shot down, Clinton said European leaders should put more pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin if Russia was involved in the incident. She said there should be "outrage in European capitals" over Russian aggression in the region but ultimately it was up to Europe to take the lead. Clinton endorsed stepped-up U.S. sanctions against Russia but said they would not "necessarily restrain" Putin or change his calculations. Turning to domestic issues, Clinton said economic inequality remained a major problem for the nation, and the country faced an "economic crisis and we have a political crisis of our democracy. And I think they are related." She noted the economic strength during the administration of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, which she said pulled millions out of poverty. But Clinton said that experience helps her understand the demands of the job. "I have no illusions about how hard a campaign is. But the campaigning, as hard as it is, is the easy part," Clinton said. "Once you get there and you face this full array of problems." She noted that "operating the United States of America is all in one person. We don't have a monarch, we don't have a president and a prime minister," she said. "So the job has gotten even bigger and more difficult."
Former US president Bill Clinton has warned Israel about "isolating itself from world opinion" due to repeated conflicts in Gaza after four children were killed on a beach in the latest violence. More than 220 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have died during 10 days of Israeli bombing and shelling in Gaza in retaliation for over 1,200 rocket attacks from Hamas militants. "Over the long run it is not good for Israel to keep isolating itself from world opinion because of the absence of a viable peace process," Clinton told the Indian NDTV news channel on Wednesday. "In the short to medium term, Hamas can inflict terrible public relations damage on Israel by forcing it to kill Palestinian civilians to counter Hamas," he added. Hamas had a "strategy designed to force Israel to kill their own (Palestinian) civilians so the rest of the world will condemn them," while Israel couldn't "look like fools" by not responding to the heavy missile attacks. Clinton, who pushed hard while president for a comprehensive peace deal at a Camp David summit in 2000, urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resume serious talks. "I believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu could and should make a comprehensive peace agreement with the Palestinians," he said, adding that he believed 60 percent of Israelis would support him. The objective of all should be "a peace process that gets Israel security recognition and peace and that gets the Palestinians their state," he said.
Reports that downed Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was accidentally targeted instead of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plane.
Quoting news organisation Interfax, which quoted unnamed sources, Russia Today reported that MH17 was travelling on a similar route as Putin’s jet shortly before the crash.
“The presidential jet was there at 16:21 Moscow time and the Malaysian aircraft 15:44 Moscow time,” a source apparently told the news agency on condition of anonymity.
“The contours of the aircraft are similar, linear dimensions are also very similar, as for the colouring. At a quite remote distance they are almost identical,” the source added.
On July 15, a division of Buk missile systems of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was deployed in the area of Donetsk. The firing range of the Buk missile system reaches 43 kilometers. The Boeing 777 of Malaysia Airlines was flying at the height of 10,600 kilometers. Representatives of the breakaway republics of Ukraine said that the militias had neither such weapons, nor skills for such an attack. An aircraft flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters can be destroyed only with S-300 or Buk type of weapon. Militias do not can and can not have such systems at their disposal. The leadership of the People's Republic of Donetsk did not exclude that the Boeing-777 of Malaysia Airlines could be shot down by the Ukrainian military. The fighting in the area, where the Boeing crashed, is very serious. On board the crashed Boeing 777, there were 295 people. All of them were killed in the crash. The plane crashed in Ukraine, 60 kilometers from the Russian border. Eurocontrol, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, announced that it was closing the airspace above Ukraine. On board the crashed airliner, there were no Russian citizens. The passengers on board the MA Boeing 777 were US, British and Dutch nationals. There were 80 children on board, but the information about the citizenship of the killed passengers is unconfirmed and needs to be verified. On Thursday, July 17, Boeing 777 of Malaysia Airlines en route Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur, crashed in the Donetsk region of Ukraine. There were 280 passengers and 15 crew members on board. The crash left no survivors.
A Malaysian passenger plane was in the Ukrainian zone of flight safety control when it crashed in eastern Ukraine on Thursday killing all 295 people on board, Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsiya) said. “The plane has not contacted Russian air traffic controllers in Rostov,” Rosaviatsiya head Alexander Neradko said in an interview with Rossiya-24 television. “The responsibility [for flight safety] falls on the Ukrainian side,” Neradko said. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said Thursday the air space over Ukraine was open when Malaysia Airlines’ Boeing 777 crashed in eastern Ukraine earlier in the day. “Based on the information currently available it is believed that the airspace that the aircraft was traversing was not subject to restrictions,” the IATA air traffic authority said Thursday in a brief statement published on its website. It also extended “our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the passengers and crew of MH17.” This statement runs counter to the announcement of the Ukrainian air traffic authority Ukraerorukh released in early July that the air space over the areas where the government’s “anti-terror” operation is underway was closed over security concerns. “To guarantee a proper level of air traffic security, the air space over the territory where the ATO [anti-terror operation] is underway has been closed for flights of civil aircraft in the interest of the state aviation,” the message of the Ukraerorukh 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 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).
The Ukrainian military has several batteries of Buk surface-to-air missile systems with at least 27 launchers, capable of bringing down high-flying jets, in the Donetsk region where the Malaysian passenger plane crashed, Russian Defense Ministry said.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry information, units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine located in the crash-site are equipped with anti-aircraft missile systems of "Buk-M1” ... These complexes in their tactical and technical characteristics are capable of detecting air targets at ranges of up to 160 kilometers and hit them at full altitude range at a distance of over 30 kilometers,” the ministry’s statement reads as cited by Ria. Earlier, Itar-Tass and Interfax news agencies were citing a source familiar with the issue, who said that another battery of Buk systems is currently being prepared for shipment to Donetsk region from the Ukrainian city of Kharkov.The Donetsk region remains the scene of heavy fighting between government troops and the forces of the opposition, which refused to recognize the regime change in Kiev and demand federalization. A Malaysian Airlines aircraft en route from Amsterdam to Malaysia crashed in Eastern Ukraine – not far from the Russian border – on Thursday.
There were reportedly 283 people and 15 crew members on board the Boeing-777 plane, who reportedly all died in the crash. There were unconfirmed reports the Malaysian plane was travelling at an altitude of over 10,000 meters when it was allegedly hit by a missile. There’s no way that the self-defense forces in Donetsk Region are in possession of such complex weaponry, he stressed. Only S-300 and Buk surface-to-air missile systems are capable of hitting targets at such altitude, the source said. Buk is a family of self-propelled, medium-range surface-to-air missile systems developed by the former USSR and Russia to engage targets at an engagement altitude of 11,000-25,000 meters depending on the model.
Chances are high that the Malaysian plane was really downed by the Ukrainian anti-aircraft defense, Yury Karash, pilot and aviation expert, told RT. “A Boeing-777 is an extremely reliable piece of machinery. Modern planes don’t just crash with no reason,” he said. “Let us recall how a Ukrainian missile downed Russian TU-154 aircraft ten years ago. I can’t completely exclude the possibility the Boeing-777 was also hit by a missile.” “I don’t know who could’ve shot it down. But I can allege that it was most likely the Ukrainian armed forces: simply because its military – anti-aircraft defense, in particular – are, unfortunately, unqualified. As judging by the overall state of the Ukrainian armed forces, insufficient attention has been paid to their training,” Karash added. Reports in the Western media hurried to blame the self-defense forces of the People’s Republic of Donetsk for bringing the plane down.
The claims were denied by the representatives of the Donetsk People’s Republic, saying that it’s the Ukrainian military, which destroyed the aircraft. “We simply don’t have such air defense systems. Our man-portable air defense systems have a firing range 3,000 - 4,000 meters. The Boeing was flying at a much higher altitude,” Sergey Kavtaradze, special representative for the prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, explained. Kavtaradze also expressed condolences to the relatives of all of those who lost their lives in the tragedy. IHS Jane’s Defense analyst, Nick de Larrinaga, also shared the belief that the self-defense forces lack the capability to bring the Malaysian plane down. “At normal cruising altitude a civilian passenger aircraft would be out of the range of the sort of manned portable air (defense) systems that we have seen proliferate in rebel hands in east Ukraine,” he said in a statement. But the aircraft would be within range of Buk or other medium-range surface-to-air missile systems, he stressed. “Both Russia and Ukraine have such SAM systems in their inventories,” the expert added. It seems unlikely that the self-defense forces could’ve used Buk surface-to-air missile systems to down the Malaysian plane, retired Brig. Gen. Kevin Ryan, the director of the Defense and Intelligence Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, said. “It takes a lot of training and a lot of coordination to fire one of these and hit something,” he told CNN. “This is not the kind of weapon a couple of guys are going to pull out of a garage and fire.” According to Ryan, if the plane was really taken down then it was done by a professional military force.