Saturday, July 26, 2014

Music: Yasmine - Khodny W Rooh / ياسمين - خدني وروح

Music: RamyAyach & Maya Diab - Sawa / رامى عياش و مايا دياب - سوا

Islamic State destroys sacred shrine in Mosul

The shrine of Prophet Jonah was held as sacred by Jews, Christians and Muslims.
The Islamic State (IS) bombed and destroyed the tomb of the Prophet Jonah east of Mosul on July 24.
Previously, IS had carried out numerous bombings, destroying important cultural sites such as the shrine of the Prophet Daniel west of Mosul, the shrine of one of the grandchildren of the second Caliph Omar Bin al-Khattab, as well as mosques, various shrines and numerous other churches. These sites are not only for Shiite Muslims or non-Muslims. Most of them are sacred places for Sunni Muslims as well, and some are even only affiliated with them, in addition to a significant number of statues of famous figures and other cultural sites that also were destroyed.
Sources inside the city confirmed this information to Al-Monitor. Activists on social media networks uploaded pictures and several videos showing the magnitude of the destruction of cultural sites around the city. Sources told Al-Monitor that a state of sorrow and regret reigns in the city and that they have seen plenty of people crying while witnessing the destruction of Jonah’s tomb. Jonah is considered sacred by all Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
What these groups are doing is based on an endemic Salafist principle common to most Salafist movements, whether they are jihadists or not. This principle underlines the need to purify the earth of polytheism and disbelief. These groups consider religious shrines or any other sites related to a certain person to be a kind of sanctification, which is, according to them, a true sign of polytheism.
The destruction of these sites is part of the process of returning to the authentic Islam and eliminating all alien elements, according to the Salafist understanding. This contradicts the traditional understanding of Islam by all Muslim confessions, which means that Islam does not contradict other sanctities, but rather understands them and considers them sacred, especially when the people of these sacred places are prophets of the Quran, such as the prophets Jonah and Daniel and many others from both the New and Old Testaments. 1
Therefore, international Muslim figures, such as the mufti of Egypt, condemned the destruction of sacred places by IS. The mufti also called for an urgent intervention from the authorities in Iraq and international organizations such as UNESCO to protect these sacred places.
The destruction of sacred places also happened during the establishment of Saudi Arabia, which was described as the first political entity for Salafists in the Islamic world. Hundreds of shrines of the prophet’s companions and family have been destroyed, in addition to other important historical sites related to different eras of Islamic history, from the establishment of the first and second Saudi states until this day. These actions also occurred in Afghanistan, Syria and certain areas in Iraq that fell under the control of Salafist groups.
IS threatened to continue the process of destroying sacred places of other confessions and religions, as well as others related to Sunnis. These threats raised the concerns of most Iraqis, especially the Shiites and the religious minorities, in addition to Sunnis who share the same respect and sanctification for these shrines and religious places.
It's mandatory for the international organizations concerned about human rights and preserving religious freedom and heritage, specifically UNESCO, to work harder and on a larger scale to put an end to this destruction. This is essential since a large number of these places are sanctified and respected by Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
The concerns about the destruction of sacred places are not limited to them being historic and cultural sites; they include forgiveness and coexistence between different religions and confessions in Iraq. Such destruction harms the long history of coexistence among Iraqi religions. It targets the symbols and main sites which attracted and gathered all confessions and paved the path for communication and understanding, and thus, their coexistence.
It also heightens intolerance and religious hatred and hostility between different confessions. This usually does not quickly fade away, and could create social divisions and demographic subdivisions on a large scale across Iraq. This could eliminate any sort of communication between the various elements of society and create severe conflicts between them.
Iraq is heading toward total destruction of its historic and human heritage, which will turn it into a barren desert isolated from its time-honored cultural and religious history. This is taking place in light of chaotic circumstances involving terrorism that is on the offensive, Iraqi government ignorance, global silence and an international letdown — specifically from the United States, which completely abandoned its responsibilities toward the situation in Iraq.
Read more:

Stop ISIS terrorists now, before it's too late

By Marco Rubio
As the terrorist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) continues to capture and control more territory in Iraq and Syria, it is important to realize what is at stake in the region and for the American people.
The challenge that ISIS poses is not just to Iraq's stability but also to U.S. security. ISIS is a terrorist group with their own army and bank account that has a clear and growing ability to conduct terrorist attacks against the Iraqi government, Americans and U.S. interests, and even the U.S. homeland.
ISIS, although loosely affiliated with al Qaeda, is in many respects even more extreme in its methods and its brutality than the terrorists who plotted and carried out 9/11.
Although until now ISIS has focused its military goals on Syria and Iraq, its ranks include thousands of jihadists who have streamed into Syria and now into Iraq from around the globe as well as known terrorists who have been released or freed from Iraqi prisons.
ISIS's goal is to secure its hold over large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq, to establish an Islamic state or "caliphate" that stretches across the heart of the Middle East.
As we have learned in the past, terrorists seek safe havens from which to operate, often in failed or failing states. They use this territory to train and equip themselves, raise funds and plot attacks. In addition to the threat to the U.S. homeland, we also need to be concerned that if Iraq begins to fragment, the resulting chaos and instability will ripple throughout the region.
ISIS has sown incredible instability in Syria and is now seeking to do the same in Iraq. If we allow ISIS to spread further, their next targets will be U.S. allies and partners already under sufficient strain from the ongoing conflict in Syria, such as Jordan and even Saudi Arabia.
We have an imperfect partner in Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who has shown himself unable to govern inclusively. We need to make clear to Baghdad that significant U.S. assistance will not be possible unless a national unity government is formed that does not include al-Maliki.
Iran has already entered the fight on behalf of the al-Maliki government in Baghdad. But if we delegate this problem to Iran, we are likely to see the creation of a Shiite rump state that would effectively become an Iranian proxy and extend Iran's reach and influence from the Gulf of Oman to the Mediterranean Sea.
So, what should we do?
First and foremost, we need to move now to degrade ISIS's capabilities. The President's decision to send 300 advisers to Iraq is a good first step, but their ability to deter ISIS will be limited unless we eventually engage in airstrikes to target their leaders as well as the supply lines that they use to transfer weapons and fighters between Syria and Iraq. We know where these supply lines are, we should not hesitate to halt the ISIS resupply to their strongholds in Anbar, Ninawa and Salah ad-Din. Second, we also need to understand that our lack of an effective Syria strategy has allowed ISIS to take hold and flourish in the region.
ISIS has been able to develop its capabilities, increase its ranks, and obtain combat experience for its fighters over the last 18 months in northern Syria.
We need to begin to tackle the root causes of the problem in Syria by overtly arming the moderate Syrian rebels that are fighting ISIS in that country even as we simultaneously tackle the challenge they currently pose to Iraq. The U.S. and allies should consider additional counter terrorism measures in Syria, perhaps working with regional partners. This is all a response to the same problem, and must be part of a unified strategy.
The President's long overdue announcement on Thursday of an overt plan to train and equip moderates in the opposition is a welcome development, but we need to do much more to finally deal with the threat that the Syrian conflict poses to regional stability and ultimately, to U.S. security.
Third, as ISIS has gained ground in Iraq, its wealth and ability to make money have increased. We need to stop their ability to sell the Syrian and Iraqi oil they attempt to market to the outside world. We also need a new diplomatic strategy to counter ISIS funding and support. Unfortunately, some of our partners in the Gulf have contributed to this problem. Others in the region have turned a blind eye to foreign fighters flocking to the fight. This needs to end.
Finally, our partners in the region need our support. Jordan deserves special attention and assistance. Jordan is already dealing with an influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees from the conflict in Syria. Jordan is a close partner of the United States and a likely target of ISIS's attention. In recent days, the group captured the border crossing between Iraq and Jordan.
The United States should find ways to make clear that the United States will defend Jordan's security, including militarily if necessary. Some will argue that the challenges faced by Iraq or countries such as Jordan are none of our business. That we have spent too many years, lives, and dollars trying to make Iraq and the broader Middle East a better place.
None of the options before us are ideal, but the question is whether we take action against ISIS now or deal with the consequences later here on U.S. soil.

Saudi, Egypt and Israel work together in Gaza attack
The war on Gaza is planned and orchestrated by Israel, Saudi and Egypt, a report by DEBKA-Net-Weekly said yesterday.
"Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, Egyptian President Fatah Al-Sisi and Netanyahu... [are] in constant communication on the war's progress and confers on its next steps. Our sources reveal daily conferences, and sometimes more, between King Abdullah and President Sisi over a secure phone line," the newsletter said.
DEBKA, thought to have close ties with Israeli intelligence agencies, said the world leaders go to great lengths to ensure their alliance remains undiscovered "given the political and religious sensitivities of their relationship". Fearful of having even their secure lines intercepted, they prefer to send secret missions to visit each other and discuss the ongoing conflict.
"Israel keeps a special plane parked at Cairo's military airport ready to lift off whenever top-secret messages between Sisi and Netanyahu need to be delivered by hand. The distance between Cairo and Tel Aviv is covered in less than an hour and a half," DEBKA explained.
Since the beginning of the Israeli operation which they have dubbed "Protective Edge" Israel has killed 808 Palestinians, and wounded over 5,000, mostly women, children and elderly, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
Israeli sources said that the operation has resulted in the killing of 32 Israeli soldiers and three civilians, while 435 people were wounded, mostly suffering from panic attacks, in addition to 90 soldiers.

Middle East Conflict: Need for Credible Mediator

James Dorsey
Amid the death and destruction raining down on the Gaza Strip there is a sliver of hope. Seldom have the makings for a mutually-agreed long-term arrangement that would give both parties a degree of stability and security and allow for Palestinian as well as Israeli economic growth, been better than today.
In fact, in a perverse way, the Israeli assault on Gaza has improved chances for such an arrangement by politically strengthening Hamas, the Islamist militia, which is no match for the Israeli military but has already scored a psychological victory. Hamas demonstrated its ability to reach major Israeli cities with its rockets, infiltrate Israel proper, persuade international airlines to halt flights to Tel Aviv, and put up fierce urban resistance inside Gazan towns.
Israel hopes to weaken and demilitarize Hamas but not totally eradicate it because that could open the door to more militant Islamist groups taking control of Gaza. In its view, a weakened Hamas would strengthen Palestine Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and either undermine the Palestinian position or render it incapable of negotiating a final solution of the conflict on terms remotely acceptable to Palestinians.
This would spare Israel the painful decisions it would have to take that are necessary for any definitive peace settlement to work such as the dismantling of Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank and a shared future for East Jerusalem, both of which it conquered during the 1967 Middle East war. As a result, Israel's preferred solution for the medium, if not, the long term, is the status quo with effectively full control of the West Bank and a defanged Hamas.
Although for very different reasons and on different terms, Hamas shares with Israel the goal of a longer term arrangement that would not force it to make political concessions such as recognition of Israel and renunciation of the armed struggle. Hamas has repeatedly called for a ten-year ceasefire.
It recognizes that Palestinians are in no position to persuade or impose on Israel terms that would guarantee a truly independent Palestinian state alongside Israel that would be anything more than a militarily weak adjunct of its powerful neighbor.
Nevertheless, as in most armed confrontations with Palestinians and Arabs since the 1967 war, Israel wins militarily but loses politically. If anything that trend is even more pronounced in the current conflict against a backdrop of improved Palestinian military performance, however limited, and mounting international unease not only with the toll in civilian lives but with Israeli policy towards Palestinian territories at large.
In addition, Hamas has increased street credibility while Abbas has been rendered even more ineffective than he already was. Using the death of three kidnapped teenagers as a pretext, Israel went on the offensive against Hamas even before it attacked Gaza to undermine the one effort by Abbas and Hamas for the formation of a national unity government that could have enabled the Palestinians to negotiate a final solution to the Palestinian problem.
As a result, with neither party really interested in a final resolution, a long-term arrangement is potentially the best deal on the table. Nevertheless, a deal on a long-term ceasefire could well be stranded on issues such as the future of the seven-year old Israeli blockade of Gaza that impairs its ability to freely import goods.
Other issues are Palestinian demands that it be able to build an airport and a port --requirements for economic growth that would complicate Israeli control. Only a mediator trusted by both parties would be able to explore whether those hurdles can be surmounted.
And that is where the problem lies. No single mediator -- the United States, the European Union, Egypt, Qatar or Turkey -- is able to talk with any credibility to the two key parties, Israel and Hamas. The US and Israel as well as various European countries refuse to engage with Hamas whom they have labelled a terrorist organization.
Egypt, while professing to sympathize with the Palestinians, is happy to see the Israelis do the dirty work for them in weakening what they see as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, the group it has banned as terrorists. Turkey's relations with Israel have hit a new low and Qatar has no formal ties to Israel.
What this in effect means is that interlocutors have to talk to interlocutors to reach one of the two concerned parties -- hardly a recipe for the kind of success that does not simply end the immediate bloodshed but creates the basis for a longer term arrangement that has a chance of moving things forward.
The ideal solution would be to bring Hamas in from the cold. That is obviously, with the fighting on the ground, beyond the realm of the possible. US President Barack Obama's approach prior to the Gaza crisis was, after Secretary of State John Kerry's failed effort to negotiate a peace agreement, to let the parties stew in their own mess.
Letting the parties stew fails to recognize opportunity and produces calamities like Gaza. A more constructive approach would be to recognize that neither Israel nor Hamas -- two parties without whom a final resolution will remain an illusion -- want peace but do want a long-term cessation of hostilities. Achieving that would constitute significant progress and make the massive loss of life less senseless.

'He should be in the Middle East, not the UK': Peace envoy Tony Blair blasted for throwing surprise birthday party

Tony Blair – the Middle East Peace Envoy – threw a lavish birthday party for his wife on Friday night at their country bolthole in Buckinghamshire, while the grim death toll from the Gaza conflict passed the 1,050 mark. Mr Blair, whose role is to hammer out a ceasefire in times of conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians, spent most of last week in the UK before hosting the couple’s friends at the party, estimated to have cost about £50,000. He held the surprise 60th birthday party for Cherie at their £6million country mansion South Pavilions, formerly the home of Sir John Gielgud, inviting 150 of their closest friends, which included former New Labour ministers, as well as wealthy businessmen and TV celebrities.
Just to make Cherie’s night even more memorable, Mr Blair even hired glamorous dance couple Kristina Rihanoff and Ian Waite from BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, who danced for them after dinner, to the Stevie Wonder classic Ma Cherie Amour. And comedian Bobby Davro was also hired to entertain, doing an impersonation of Mr Blair, and singing the song, If I Ruled The World.
Mr Blair’s unexpected birthday party – held against a backdrop of death and destruction in Gaza – was criticised last night, with some saying he could have held it later, as Cherie’s actual birthday is not until September 23. One source said: ‘He should be in the Middle East, not in the UK.’
Last week Mr Blair, 61, gave a talk on New Labour on Monday at the think-tank Progress in Westminster. He even managed a one-day visit to China during the week, and made it back to the UK in time for his wife’s celebrations. However, other world leaders, such as US Secretary of State John Kerry and the UN’s Ban Ki Moon, flew into Jerusalem to pressure the Israelis and Palestinians to agree to a long-term ceasefire. Mr Blair is normally based in Jerusalem, as his Office of the Peace Envoy for the Quartet – the US, EU, Russia and the United Nations – is at the King David Hotel in the city. World leaders, led by Mr Kerry, held urgent talks in Paris yesterday to pressure both sides to turn the ceasefire into an extended truce. Mr Blair was not at the talks.
The former Prime Minister hosted Friday’s birthday bash inside a giant marquee erected in the grounds of the couple’s sprawling estate.
Some of the guests from the world of politics included Labour leader Ed Miliband and his wife Justine Thornton and Blair’s old No10 spin doctor Alastair Campbell and his girlfriend Fiona Millar. The former Labour Europe Minister and now chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, Keith Vaz and his lawyer wife, Maria Fernandes, also attended. Labour’s ex-Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell arrived with husband David Mills. Other big Labour names were former Home Secretary John Reid, and the controversial Labour fundraiser, Lord Levy.
Lakshmi Mittal, Britain’s third richest man with a £10.4 billion fortune, attended with his wife Usha, as did West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady, who is a business ambassador to David Cameron.
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Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies: Social media campaign goes viral

As the Israeli operation Protective Edge has so far claimed over 1,000 dead, users have been flooding the web with dozens of photos of Jews and Arabs together showcasing peace and love, under the hashtag #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies.
The campaign was launched by Abraham Gutman (Jewish) and Dania Darwish (Arab), both students at Hunter College in New York, immediately after the start of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza - and this week it gained momentum. “For me, it is hard to watch the current escalation between Israel and Gaza from afar. I wanted to find a way to be more than a passenger, to do something about it rather than just watch the news and hope for the best,” Gutman told Christian Science monitor. Abraham and Dania took a photo of themselves in Washington Square Park. They started a Facebook group and by now have been flooded with photos from around the world. The page has more than 5,000 fans.
The hashtag #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies soon became popular. One of the most viral pictures turned to be the one that showed a kissing couple - Lebanese journalist Sulome Anderson and her Orthodox Jewish boyfriend. “He calls me neshama, I call him habibi. Love doesn't speak the language of occupation,” wrote Sulome in her Twitter account. The journalist also told NYmag that the selfie became a “viral symbol of peace.” “This isn’t just about politics. This is about people. No one knows better than I the toll Middle East violence takes on ordinary people just trying to live.”
The ground operation in the Gaza Strip was launched by Tel Aviv on July 8, following more than a week of Hamas shelling Israel and the IDF responding with air strikes. Over 1,030 people, at least 40 Israeli troops among them, have died in the violence. On Saturday, Israel and Hamas agreed to a 12-hour humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza hostilities that started on Saturday morning.
However, soon after the truce was announced, at least 60 bodies were recovered by rescue forces from buildings destroyed in Israeli strikes in Gaza, reported the Palestinian Authority's official radio station. Early on Saturday – shortly before the truce – rescue crews recovered a family of 18 Palestinians killed by Israeli tank shelling in the southern Gaza Strip, according to the Gaza health ministry. The victims were members of the Al-Najar family, who had been trapped inside their house in Khuzaa village east of Khan Younis since Thursday.

Apple iPhones allow extraction of deep personal data, researcher finds

Personal data including text messages, contact lists and photos can be extracted from iPhones through previously unpublicized techniques by Apple Inc employees, the company acknowledged this week. The same techniques to circumvent backup encryption could be used by law enforcement or others with access to the "trusted" computers to which the devices have been connected, according to the security expert who prompted Apple's admission.
In a conference presentation this week, researcher Jonathan Zdziarski showed how the services take a surprising amount of data for what Apple now says are diagnostic services meant to help engineers.
Users are not notified that the services are running and cannot disable them, Zdziarski said. There is no way for iPhone users to know what computers have previously been granted trusted status via the backup process or block future connections.
“There’s no way to `unpair' except to wipe your phone,” he said in a video demonstration he posted Friday showing what he could extract from an unlocked phone through a trusted computer.
As word spread about Zdziarski’s initial presentation at the Hackers on Planet Earth conference, some cited it as evidence of Apple collaboration with the National Security Agency.
Apple denied creating any “back doors” for intelligence agencies.
“We have designed iOS so that its diagnostic functions do not compromise user privacy and security, but still provides needed information to enterprise IT departments, developers and Apple for troubleshooting technical issues,” Apple said. “A user must have unlocked their device and agreed to trust another computer before that computer is able to access this limited diagnostic data.”
But Apple also posted its first descriptions of the tools on its own website, and Zdziarski and others who spoke with the company said they expected it to make at least some changes to the programs in the future.
Zdziarski said he did not believe that the services were aimed at spies. But he said that they extracted much more information than was needed, with too little disclosure. Security industry analyst Rich Mogull said Zdziarski’s work was overhyped but technically accurate.
“They are collecting more than they should be, and the only way to get it is to compromise security,” said Mogull, chief executive officer of Securosis.
Mogull also agreed with Zdziarski that since the tools exist, law enforcement will use them in cases where the desktop computers of targeted individuals can be confiscated, hacked or reached via their employers.
“They’ll take advantage of every legal tool that they have and maybe more,” Mogull said of government investigators.
Asked if Apple had used the tools to fulfill law enforcement requests, Apple did not immediately respond.
For all the attention to the previously unknown tools and other occasional bugs, Apple’s phones are widely considered more secure than those using Google Inc's rival Android operating system, in part because Google does not have the power to send software fixes directly to those devices.

President Obama's Weekly Address: Closing Corporate Tax Loopholes

Runa Laila - Jab Se Gaya Hai Mera Bachpan


By Dr Subhash Kapila
Pakistan’s polity was shell-shocked by claims by PPP Senior Leader and Deputy Speaker of Sindh Assembly in a TV interview that former President Zardari’s visit to USA was to remind USA of its commitments that no Martial Law would be imposed for the next 15 years.
The PPP senior leader asserted that this was underwritten by the United States, Britain and the UAE when in 2007 President Musharraf was prevailed upon to issue the National Reconciliation Ordinance, later struck down by the Supreme Court.
Intriguingly, at the same time now Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was on a visit to Saudi Arabia, ostensibly for religious visit, but also having high-level discussions with Saudi dignitaries. Pakistani media reports suggest that the Pakistani PM wanted the Saudis to intercede to make the ISI relations with the Government better.
President Zardari’s visit to Washington has been accorded top-most protocol both by the American establishment and the Pakistan Embassy. The highlight was discussions with US Vice President Biden at an Iftar party at the residence of former Pakistani Ambassador at large in Washington.
Intriguingly again, reports suggest that besides discussions on Pakistan’s political scene, discussions also focussed on Pakistan Army’s ongoing military operations in North Waziristan. It is hard to speculate as to why the US Vice President accorded importance to President Zardari for discussions on Pakistan Army’s ongoing military operations. Is this because in United States assessments President Zardari has had better relations with the Pakistan Army or that reassessments may be underway in US thinking that the Pakistan Army may attempt easing out PM Nawaz Sharif and that a US-Backed PPP government would be put into place as replacement to mollify the Pakistan Army and yet the United States can live upto its guarantee of 15 years of democracy in Pakistan.
In this wake, questions are being asked within Pakistan whether this amounts to licence to Pakistan Army to resort to military coups in Pakistan after 15 years and has Pakistani self-respect gone so low as that external guarantees are required for sustainable democracy in Pakistan?
The PPP top establishment has reacted to refute the claims of US guarantees of 15 years of democratic rule in Pakistan because it would not like to be perceived in Pakistani political circles as seeking US intervention in Pakistan’s political affairs.
Be as it may, the other strong evidence forthcoming about Zardari’s visit to USA is that while as per original plan he was supposed to return to Pakistan for Eid, Zardari has now extended his visit for more discussions with US leaders.
Watching Pakistan Army for years, one lately has been having a gut feeling that something is amiss in Pakistan between the Pakistan Army and the Nawaz Sharif Government. This basically centres around one of the guarantees in the NRO which implied ‘safe exit’ for General Musharraf which he had but chose to gamble it away by return to Pakistan to contest elections
In its wake the Pakistan Army had chafed at the way the Pakistani Courts have handled his cases and the restrictions placed on him. The Pakistan Army felt that the Pakistani Premier should have intervened administratively to get Musharraf off the hook and resented that a former Pakistan Army Chief should be made a subject of ordinary legal processes.
Prime Minister Sharif had cleverly washed his hands off the Musharraf cases by leaving him to the mercy of Pakistan’s legal processes fully aware that neither the Supreme Court of Pakistan nor the subordinate judiciary was well disposed towards the former Pakistani military dictator.
In response or not, the Pakistan Army Chief sought to sabotage the Pakistani Prime Minister’s outreach to the Pakistani Talban by initiating military operations in North Waziristan. It is not a hidden fact in Pakistan that the Pakistan Army Chief and the Pakistani Prime Minister are not on the same page on the strategy to deal with the Taliban threat.
In Pakistan there is a feeling that Pakistan Army’s operations may push Taliban cadres to reach out to the ISIS in Iraq and reappear in Pakistan’s heartland very much in the manner of the Al Qaeda. In fact the possible Taliban backlash in Punjab’s urban areas held back previous Pakistan Army Chief General Kayani from launching military operations in North Waziristan in 2009. Reverting back to the main issue of whether a military coup in Pakistan is in the offing, three factors come to the fore in weighing up the likelihood and these would be namely, ‘the government in power, the opposition on the streets and the Pakistan military’ as one astute Pakistani observer has noted. This needs a separate analysis because there is a fourth factor and that is the role of external actors like United States and Saudi Arabia.
The same Pakistani analyst has also noted that “Pakistan is passing through the worst time of instability in bloodshed and political dissent”
With such a state of turmoil in Pakistan can a military coup in Pakistan be far behind. As someone within Pakistan has analysed that while ‘the present government may not be on its way out but something is definitely in the offing.”

Pakistan's Load Shedding: Power, prayers and rain

Umair Aziz
What makes 16 hours without electricity in a day even more disturbing? Your country’s power minister having 23 per cent stakes in a privately owned power company, which is a major recipient of the government funds to clear the circular debt. If that pushed the government to audit Rs410 billion doled out to the power generation companies is obviously out of question, but the reason someone felt the need to look through the quick “disappearance” of this not-so-small amount means quite something.
Power generation is all about figures: the number of Megawatts produced and expected shortfall; difference between demand and supply; units distributed and bills recovered, and so on. The complexity of the mechanism involved makes this data so valuable that even the government (the political bosses) have little clue of what’s happening. This secrecy and control over crucial information has led many to allege that even the NTDC has been lying about the figures. Even LESCO — responsible for distributing and billing electricity in Lahore region — is allegedly manipulating figures with its top official being recently arrested for selling electricity “under the table” to the industrial units.
The involvement of top officials in such ‘trade’ in office leaves a big question mark on the integrity and will of those at the helm of affairs.
“Nowhere in the universities are we taught how to manage load-shedding, we are only trained in producing and distributing electricity at engineering schools. It is here at WAPDA that we get hands-on experience of this art,” a senior LESCO official told this publication. That official also claims 99 per cent recovery for this financial year, a figure he proudly claims even many banks can hardly achieve. Interestingly, LESCO received 160 billion more electricity units compared to the previous year from the central pool, yet still images of burning tyres, blocked roads and angry protestors across the length and breadth of the region keep the media abuzz. The official answer is obviously a ‘tremendous’ increase in demand, the dichotomy, nonetheless, do point to some missing dots.
A country where even the biggest of tragedies fail to bring people out of their homes, power outages have done the miracle and quite consistently. The “power-less” protests, as dubbed by a section of the press, actually shaped the political discourse for the last general elections and still continue to do so.
“This [power generation business] involves a lot of politics. Distribution and load shedding schedule for different regions have political repercussions. The PPP coming down from 50 NA seats from Punjab in the last term to just a single one this time speaks for itself,” the LESCO top official said.
That God exists, and listens to the prayers, is not contested by believers. The power minister urging people to pray for rain to get electricity however didn’t sit well with a lot of them. After all, they knew, he didn’t have to pray to get those Rs7 billion for the power company he partially owned.

Pakistan: PPP opposes calling in army under Article 245

The PPP has strongly opposed hand-over of Islamabad to the army. Senator Farhatullah Babar, in a statement, said that the decision is pregnant with serious consequences for the people and country, as it means not only failure of the civil administration but also total suspension of the jurisdiction of the high courts. “Worst still, in practical terms it also means setting up of military courts, which cannot be permitted,” the statement read. It said the PPP has always opposed invoking Article 245 for calling army in aid of civil power whether it was in Karachi or other parts of the country. He said the situation in Islamabad is not any worse that in any other part of the country to warrant inviting security establishment to fix it by vesting in them powers beyond judicial oversight, he said. “The government fails to recognise that if today it is Islamabad tomorrow Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta, Lahore, indeed the whole country, may have to be handed over to the army under Article 245 and practically dispense with the high courts. Bad as it already is the human rights situation in the country will get even worse as the doors of high courts are shut on the citizens,” Baber said. He said that the decision to hand over federal capital to the army will also send disturbing signals to the world about the prevailing security situation in the country. “The decision reflects the penchant of PML-N government to lean on the security establishment for everything be it meter reading or tracing of ghost schools or appointing monitors and is most unfortunate.” Babar said that it will further distort the already distorted civil-military equation.

Lata song: aye gi aye gi kisi ko hamari yaad

Pakistan: PPP actualizes its promise, revise the curriculum in all levels at public schools
The Pakistan Peoples Party had promised in its election manifesto to revise the curriculum being taught in all levels at public schools. True to its promise, the Sindh government had earlier revised the curriculum for classes one to four.
A meeting on Thursday, presided over by the provincial minister for education and literacy Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, discussed key points for the new curriculum which is to be taught in public schools from class five to eight. It was attended by notable educationists including Dr Muhammad Memon, the chairperson of Aga Khan University’ Institute of Education Development and Prof Jaffar Ahmed, the director of Pakistan Studies Centre at the Karachi University, among others.
Speaking to the media, the minister said that after the 18th Amendment, Sindh became the first province to pass the landmark legislation in terms of article 25a, which guaranteed free education to children between five to 16 years of age.
“After this, we took up the task of reviewing the curriculum taught in schools, purging it of hate material and introducing a teaching methodology which garners the interests of students,” said Khuhro.
In this regard Edhi, Malala and Arfa Karim have been added to the list of national heroes. “History books will be checked for historical inaccuracies and our advisory board will help decide an unbiased course for history,” said the minister.
He added that a chapter on ethics was added to the class-two book, while in class four, bits of the constitution and sports heroes will be taught to students.
The Pakistan Studies book for secondary school from the Sindh Text Board has several historical shortcomings, and often makes sweeping statements such as blaming the Hindus for the fall of Dhaka.
Revised school books for classes one to four have been distributed in all public schools of Sindh, said the minister. “In order to ensure transparency, we asked all head teachers to send the education department videos and photographs of the distribution ceremony,” he said.
The new books, however, remain missing from the markets depriving students from private schools of the revised curriculum. For his part, the minister denied that there was any shortage of books. “Last year, we published 250 million books. This year, we published 275 million books, which also points to an increased rate of enrolment in schools,” he said. He added that on August 5, a second meeting will be held regarding the revision of curriculum for middle schools. “By April next year, the revised books will be ready to be taught in the new session,” he said.
It was also stated that for deaf and mute children, a syllabus will be available in sign language. “Teachers will be trained to teach these special children, so that a special child even in a faraway village gets education.” The minister said that after the school curriculum was revised, legislation will be passed with guidelines to be followed for any further revision in the curriculum.
In the question and answer session, the minister said that 1,800 closed schools have been opened this year. Moreover, 20,000 more teachers have been given offer letters through which it is expected that 3,000 more schools will be opened. “In order to encourage female teachers to join the profession, we have given 20 percent extra marks to all female candidates who passed the test.”

Christians Settled In Slum Of Islamabad Facing Great Problems------ اسلام آباد کچی بستیوں میں بسے هوئے غریبوں کو تنگ مت کیا جائے

ممتاز مسیحی دانشور اور رهنما آل پاکستان کرسچن لیگ نواز سلامت نے وفاقی حکومت سے دردمندانہ اپیل کی هے کہ اسلام آباد کی کچی بستیوں میں غریب لوگوں کو تنگ مت کیا جائے. کبهی ان کی بجلی کاٹ دی جاتی هے اور کبهی پانی بند کر دیا جاتا هے. اسلام آباد کی بستیوں میں بسنے والے بهی وهاں کی کوٹهیوں میں رهنے والوں کی طرح انسان هیں. حکومت اس مسلئہ کا سختی سے نوٹس لے اور ان کچی بستی کے مقیموں
سے امتیازی رویہ رکهنے والوں اداروں کے خلاف ایکشن لے - See more at:

Pakistan: Four Ahmadi Muslims booked for ‘preaching’ in Sindh

Ahmadiyya Times
The Tando Bago police have registered a criminal case against four men belonging to the Ahmadi community for allegedly preaching their faith.
Mohammad Ramazan Rustmani, a local cleric, who is also an office-bearer of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl), lodged an FIR (96/2014) against the four men — Abbas Gurgez, Idrees Gurgez , Mushtaque Ahmed Gurgez and Mohammad Khan Gurgez — under Sections 298-B (misuse of epithets, descriptions and titles, etc., reserved for certain holy personages or places) and 298-C (person of Quadiani group, etc., calling himself a Muslim or preaching or propagating his faith) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
Tando Bago SHO Khuda Bux Panhwar told Dawn on Friday that the FIR was registered on the insistence of local religious leaders.
He said raids were being carried to arrest the nominated men but they had fled the village to avoid arrest.
Since the people nominated in the FIR had gone into hiding, it was not possible to obtain their version on the allegations.

Balochistan: UN should take notice of schools closure and acid attacks on women
The General Secretary of Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, Farzana Majeed Baloch, has appealed the united nation to take notice of acid attacks on women and forced closure of girls’ schools in Balochistan.
In a statement issued to media on Thursday Farzana Majeed, one of the top female human rights activists in Balochistan, strongly condemned the acid attacks on women in Quetta and Mastung areas of Balochistan.
She said: “Acid attacks on six Baloch girls and women in less than 24 hours in two different areas of Balochistan are an illustration of barbarism.
“Baloch women are systematically being targeted by religious fanatics since 2010. In April 2010 Baloch women were attacked in Dalbandin and Kalat and in 2011 Baloch female teachers were attacked in Quetta.”
She said the United Nations and other international human rights organisation have failed to take notice of such attacks, adding that, “if [UN] continues to ignore acid attacks on Baloch women, the human rights situation in Balochistan would become more catastrophic and complicated.”
Farzana Majeed Baloch said that closing down girls schools in Panjgur is also a continuation of pre-planned attacks against Baloch women. “Since past three months the girls in Panjgur and surrounding areas are not able to attend schools due to continuous threats from extremist organisation,” she said.
She said: “Forcing girls to stay away from education and limiting them to their home by acid attacks are not permissible in any religion or law. Equal rights for girls are accepted under international laws and no religion or law can infringe these rights.”
She said that human right violations continue unabated in Balochistan in the name of religion and internationally accepted laws and covenants are not being implemented in Balochistan.
Farzana Majeed Baloch said: “Acid attacks on women in Balochistan are opening of a new chapter of human rights violation. The United nation should act on its charter and take notice of attacks on women in Balochistan and make sure that [Baloch] girls are not deprived of their basic right of education.”

Pakistan: Electricity crisis deteriorate in Balochistan

Electricity crisis has deteriorated in the turbulent province of Balochistan. Apart from Quetta, rest of Balochistan is facing long hours of load shedding in the warm season of summer. District headquarters are getting 10 hours electricity daily, whereas Tehsil headquarters are getting 6 to 8 hours electricity in 24 hours. In case of villages, electricity is only provided 2 to 4 hours in a day.
Electricity crisis in Balochistan is more severe as compared to other provinces but it’s hardly reported in mainstream media of Pakistan. The backbone of Balochistan, agriculture sector, has been destroyed due to prolonged load shedding.
The electricity demand of Balochistan is 1650 Megawatt at the moment whereas the supply is restricted to 600 Megawatts only. One thing must be noted that the capacity of electrical transmission lines is 700 Megawatt in Balochistan. It means that even if surplus electricity is available in rest of the country, Balochistan can’t get more than 700 Megawatts of electricity.
Dadu-Khuzdar and Dera Ghazi Khan-Loralai transmission line projects were meant to increase the capacity of electrical system in Balochistan. Notwithstanding claims by Federal government the work on both these transmission lines is still incomplete. Dadu-Khuzdar transmission line has been partially completed and the electricity provided through it has low voltage which is destroying electronic appliances in Khuzdar and Kalat region.
Just like other spheres of governance, Dr. Malik led government of Balochistan has failed to pressurize Federal government to complete the transmission lines on time. Iran is willing to sell 1000 Megawatts electricity but the politicians and bureaucrats sitting in Islamabad are not interested to solve the electricity crisis in Balochistan.

Pakistan: Human Development

Pakistan has retained its spot at number 146 in the Human Development Index (HDI) of 2014, which is not surprising in the least, considering the overall lack of development in the country during the past year. The HDI is calculated on the basis of three factors; the average life expectancy, the Gross National Income (GNI) and the education index. All of these combine to account for the overall standard of living in a country. Out of our neighboring countries, only Afghanistan is ranked below us at 169, while India (135), China (91), Iran (75) and even Bangladesh (142) are ranked higher.
The GNI can only increase if the economy expands enough to provide new jobs for the surplus of labour that is unemployed. The life expectancy index is the average age an individual reaches before dying in a country. The infant mortality rate is included in this estimate, but a plethora of other factors are also at work. The condition of healthcare facilities, access to medicines, the availability of doctors and the government’s efforts (or lack of) to counter serious health threats such as the rise of polio and the dengue outbreak are all accounted for. Pakistan has an estimated life expectancy of 67, while citizens of developed countries such as Japan live up to age of 84 on average. Our infant mortality rate stands at 8.6 %, which means that out of a 1000 children, 86 die at birth.
The decrepit state of our education system is clear from the numerous ghost schools, the meagerly equipped and under-staffed public schools and the high cost of private education. More than half of Pakistan’s population lives in poverty, and for them basic needs such as food and shelter are a novelty, which makes literacy the least of their problems. Additionally, Pakistan lost four spots on the gender inequality index and has slipped from 123 to 127. The high frequency of rape, female infanticide, honour killings, acid attacks and other numerous crimes against women have continued as before, and the state has done nothing to bring the criminals to justice, which is just as bad as an endorsement for their actions. The HDI is by no means completely accurate about the amount of human development in a country, a term which is subjective in any case, but it does paint a general picture of the standard of living. If nothing else, it provides a comparison with other countries, and can be used to set benchmarks to achieve in the future. Pakistan has no excuses for its poor showing on a yearly basis. The HDI, while dealing in statistics, gives us a look into the life of the average person in each country, and number 146 out of a total of 187 countries tells us that it really cannot be much worse.

Zarb-e-Azb: 8 militants perished, 5 hideouts flattened

Security forces killed five militants and destroyed their five hideouts during ground offensive in various areas of Mir Ali, North Waziristan, Geo News reported.
Official sources said security forces targeted terrorists hideouts on the other side of Tochi river in the area, adding in the fresh action eight militants were killed and their five dens were flattened. Troops have started advancing towards Khushali and Hasokhel areas of Mir Ali and launched search operation.

U.S. tells Pakistan: Do not let Haqqani fighters resettle

The U.S. government urged Pakistan on Friday to prevent displaced Haqqani militants from returning to their traditional sanctuary after a Pakistani military offensive near the Afghanistan border.
The Haqqani network, which mainly operates out of Pakistan's border areas, has been blamed for some of the deadliest and most sophisticated attacks on NATO and Afghan troops in Afghanistan.
"What we've asked for is that the Haqqanis, yes they’ve been displaced, yes they've been disrupted, but that they not be allowed to regroup and resettle back into those historical areas," said Jeffrey Eggers from the White House's National Security Council, speaking at a security forum in Colorado.
That would break a long tradition of tolerating those who did not target the Pakistani state. No one from the Haqqani network has been reported killed, however, since the offensive began in June in the remote region of North Waziristan.
The United States has long pressed for Pakistani action against the Haqqanis. Islamabad has said it would target any militants, including the Haqqanis, as they proceed with the military operation.
Pakistan's envoy to Washington, Jalil Abbas Jilani, sitting alongside Eggers and others at the event, acknowledged that Haqqani fighters almost certainly fled the region ahead of the military operation because it was pre-announced.
But Jilani also urged more to be done across the border in Afghanistan to deal with any militants who may have fled there.
"We are having good cooperation but I think something more is required to be done in order to make sure that the successes ... are conclusive," Jilani said.
Afghanistan's envoy to Washington, Eklil Hakimi, said his information suggested that Haqqani militants had safe passage inside Pakistan and were going elsewhere inside Pakistan.
John Allen, the retired four-star general who led U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, voiced skepticism about Islamabad's past willingness to go after the Haqqanis, even as he acknowledged the opportunity presented by the ongoing offensive.
"When I was commander there, the Haqqani killed or wounded over 500 of my troops. And the operations in Waziristan somehow missed them every time they conducted ops on the eastern side of the border," Allen said at the event.
U.S. lawmakers warn that Pakistan will have to crackdown on the Haqqanis or lose millions in U.S. military aid.
"What matters now is how this continues and whether or not the Haqqanis are afforded a sanctuary to return to when the operation gets into its terminal phase," said Eggers, the senior director for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the NSC.

Pakistan: PPP lashes out at govt for invoking Article 245

The main opposition, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Friday strongly opposed the government’s decision of handing over the federal capital to the army under Article 245 of the Constitution to handle the law and order situation.
The reaction came hours after Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told the media that his ministry under Article 245 of the Constitution has sought the Army's services for maintaining law and order in Islamabad for a period of three months.
“The decision is pregnant with serious consequences for the people and the country as it means not only failure of the civil administration but also total suspension of the jurisdiction of the high courts. Worst still, in practical terms it also means setting up of military courts which cannot be permitted,” PPP spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said in a statement.
He said the PPP has always opposed invoking Article 245 for calling Army in aid of civil power whether it was in Karachi or other parts of the country.
“The situation in Islamabad is not any worse than that in any other part of the country to warrant inviting security establishment to fix it by vesting in them powers beyond judicial oversight,” he said.
The PPP spokesman said, “The government fails to recognise that if today it is Islamabad tomorrow Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta, Lahore, indeed the whole country, may have to be handed over to the army under Article 245 and practically dispense with the high courts.”
“Bad as it already is the human rights situation in the country will get even worse if the doors of high courts are shut on the citizens,” he added.
He said that the decision to hand over the federal capital to the Army will also send disturbing signals to the world about the prevailing security situation in Pakistan.
“The decision reflects the penchant of PML-N government to lean on the security establishment for everything, be it meter reading or tracing of ghost schools or appointing monitors and is most unfortunate.”
“And let us not forget the security apparatus once called in aid of civil power under this Article might want to linger on even after it is no longer needed. No one wants to relinquish power or abdicate a position of authority and influence in which their actions are not called into question in the courts.”
Farhatullah Babar said it will further distort the already distorted civil-military equation. He reminded the PML-N government of the Charter of Democracy (CoD).
“Four articles of the CoD (articles 32 to 36) call for concerted actions to address distortions in civil-military relations. The decision to hand over Islamabad to the army will, instead of correcting the existing huge imbalance, further tilt the balance against the civilian, political and judicial structures of the country,” he said.
The government will do well to take a leaf from the past before venturing into this adventurism, he said.
Earlier, sources had said that the government was mulling over invoking Article 245 of the Constitution to summon the Army in all major cities of the country.
Sources had added that the ongoing Zarb-i-Azb military operation in North Waziristan was also being carried out under the same constitutional article.
Given below are details of Article 245 of the Constitution which pertains to the functions Pakistan's Armed forces, taken from the National Assembly website:
(1) The Armed Forces shall, under the directions of the Federal Government, defend Pakistan against external aggression or threat of war, and, subject to law, act in aid of civil power when called upon to do so.
(2) The validity of any direction issued by the Federal Government under clause (1) shall not be called in question in any court.
(3) A High Court shall not exercise any jurisdiction under Article 199 in relation to any area in which the Armed Forces of Pakistan are, for the time being, acting in aid of civil power in pursuance of Article 245: Provided that this clause shall not be deemed to affect the jurisdiction of the High Court in respect of any proceeding pending immediately before the day on which the Armed Forces start acting in aid of civil power.
(4) Any proceeding in relation to an area referred to in clause (3) instituted on or after the day the Armed Forces start acting in aid of civil power and pending in any High Court shall remain suspended for the period during which the Armed Forces are so acting.

Ghazal - Sabko Maloom Hai Main Sharabi Nahin By Pankaj Udhas