Tuesday, August 5, 2014
www.yahoo.comApple fans might want to mark Sept. 9 on their calendars, because that’s the date the highly anticipated iPhone 6 will reportedly make its grand debut. The news comes by way of Re/code’s John Paczkowski, who has an excellent track record when it comes to covering Apple and, specifically, reporting when Apple will host events. The date makes sense for Apple, which for the past three years has held launch events for its iPhone in September. Traditionally, Apple makes its iPhone available to shoppers 10 days after its debut event, which would mean that the iPhone 6’s release date would be September 19th, if history is any guide. The iPhone 6 is expected to be a radical departure from Apple’s previous iPhones. The handset is said to sport a much larger 4.7-inch display, compared to the iPhone 5s’ 4-inch screen, as well as a faster processor for better performance and an improved camera. Other reports point to Apple also launching an even larger 5.5-inch iPhone that would help the company compete with so called “phablets” like Samsung’s massive 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 3, especially in China. Various rumors also indicate that the next iPhone will use what’s referred as a sapphire crystal display, which would make the handset’s screen far more durable than the iPhone 5s’. In addition to versions of the iPhone 6, Apple is said to be prepping a highly anticipated smartwatch. Though the device’s name isn’t yet known for certain, it is widely reported that it will be called the Apple iWatch. If Apple’s event is held on Sept. 9, it would mean that the iPhone 6 would debut just six days after Samsung is expected to unveil its new Galaxy Note 4. And if you don’t think that Cupertino planned its event with that in mind, we’ve got some beachfront property in Ohio to sell you.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday he has told the government to retaliate against Western sanctions. “I have already prepared such instructions today,” the president said during a working trip to the Central Russian Voronezh Region. “Of course, it should be done very carefully, so that domestic manufacturers are supported without detriment to consumers,” he added. Putin said that the use of political instruments to put pressure on the Russian economy is “against all norms and rules.”
“Political instruments for putting pressure on the economy are inadmissible, this is against all norms and rules. In this respect, the Russian government has already come forward with an array of retaliatory measures to the so-called sanctions imposed by certain states,” he said. The Russian leader said producers in various countries should be in an equal environment and this meets the national security interests and also the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO). In July, the United States and the European Union announced new economic sanctions against Russia amid the Ukrainian crisis. Moscow has repeatedly called such measures counterproductive and stressed that Russia was not one of the sides of Ukrainian conflict.
The incoming commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Gen. John F. Campbell, has said that majority of the Afghans want prolonged US and NATO forces presence in Afghanistan. Gen. Campbell was discussing his upcoming tour as NATO commander during a media round-table at the Pentagon on August 1st, as he departs for Afghanistan later this month. Gen. Campbell said he hopes there will be an agreement that allows U.S. and NATO forces to stay in Afghanistan until the country becomes more stable. “Ninety-nine percent of the Afghans want us to stay,” he said. He commended Pakistan for its recent operation in Waziristan and he said he hopes efforts like those will continue. Pakistan and Afghanistan need to remove the terror “that threatens their people and their way of life,” Campbell said, adding that, “This is what they’re doing to civilians. This is how bad it is. Let’s work together to figure out solutions. What we’ll try to do is continue to work this [military-to-military] relationship.” The draft bilateral security agreement between Kabul and Washington was endorsed by majority during the consultative Loya Jirga in November last year. However, President Hamid Karzai refused to sign the agreement and set certain preconditions for the signing of the agreement. In the meantime, there are optimisms that the the security agreement between Kabul and Washington will be signed by President Hamid Karzai’s successor since the two contenders have vowed to sign the pact once they take office as the next leader of the country. The signing of the bilateral security agreement between Kabul and Washington will pave the way for the signing of a similar agreement between the Afghan government and NATO alliance.
When the United States stops funding power generation in Afghanistan's southern city of Kandahar next year, the lights are set to go out and factories will fall idle, playing into the hands of Taliban insurgents active in the area. Bringing a stable source of electricity to Kandahar, the cradle of the hardline Islamist movement and once a base for its leader Mullah Omar, was a top U.S. "counter-insurgency priority" as Washington pursued its policy of winning "hearts and minds". But regular power in the city is still years away, and when the United States finally ends subsidies - currently running at just over $1 million a month - in September 2015, Kandahar could lose around half its severely limited electricity supplies, Afghan power officials and U.S. inspectors say. The Taliban, meanwhile, control about half the 12 MW of power supplied to Kandahar province from the Kajaki plant in neighboring Helmand province, ensuring a stable supply of electricity in their strongholds, according to the head of state power firm Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) in Kandahar. "There are some 130 different factories operating in Kandahar whose electricity is maintained and paid for by the Americans," said Fuzl Haq, a businessman in Kandahar. "If the Americans stop paying for the fuel to run these factories, some 6,000 workers will lose their jobs," Haq added, reflecting concerns of many locals in Afghanistan's second city. "These are all young people and they may join up with the Taliban or resort to crime in order to earn money." Alex Bronstein-Moffly, a spokesman for the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), said power shortages in insurgent heartlands would be a major setback 13 years after the Taliban was toppled in a U.S.-led war. "If electrical service to Kandahar is compromised it could end up endangering counter-insurgency and economic gains made over the last few years," he said. LONG DELAYS U.S. power subsidies were intended to fill in until the power grid reached Kandahar and a new turbine was installed at Kajaki dam, but both projects remain years away from completion, not least because of strong armed resistance from the Taliban in the region. "It appears that the U.S. still has no realistic plan for helping the Afghan government develop a sustainable source of electricity," wrote John Sopko, a U.S. special inspector general, in a report published on Tuesday. Winning over locals in the hot, dusty cluster of low-slung houses and markets has been a priority for the United States, which, like other foreign powers, is due to withdraw most of its troops from the war-torn country by the end of the year. The Afghan government says it cannot afford to maintain Kandahar's power generators or pay for the fuel. Diesel supplies in the city are already being rationed and power outages will be inevitable, says the state-owned power company. "We have no other way (of operating)," said DABS chief commercial officer Mirwais Alami in Kabul. "If businesses cannot compete with Kabul in Kandahar, they will collapse." How to pay for Kandahar's power without U.S. or Afghan government funds is a major problem, with powerful tribal and political leaders already refusing to pay their electricity bills, according to DABS officials. Revenue collection in the south has also been dented by the Taliban, who control areas along power lines. "Taliban collect revenue from electricity in places under their control," said engineer Sayed Rasoul, the head of DABS in Kandahar. The U.S. aid agency has just awarded a new $27 million, four-year project to improve electricity revenue collection and management in Kandahar. The cash cannot be used to pay for fuel. It says increasing tariffs was one way to keep Kandahar's two 10 MW generators running. "USAID has worked with DABS to prepare users to pay for the more expensive power generated with diesel until DABS completes work on a new turbine at Kajaki and on the power transmission line," said Donald "Larry" Sampler, Assistant to the Administrator in the Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs (OAPA) in Washington. But plans to increase tariffs as much as tenfold or more may be unrealistic in one of the world's poorest countries, where only 30 percent of people have access to electricity.
A two-star American general was killed in an apparent insider attack Tuesday by a member of the Afghan security forces, U.S. officials said. A man dressed in an Afghan army uniform opened fire on foreign troops at Camp Qargha, a base west of the capital, Kabul. The attacker wounded approximately 15 people, of which roughly half were Americans, one official said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the information by name ahead of an official announcement. Among the wounded was a German brigadier general. Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, a spokesman for Afghanistan's Defense Ministry, said a "terrorist in an army uniform" opened fire on both local and international troops. Azimi said the shooter had been killed. The Qargha shooting comes as so-called "insider attacks" — incidents in which Afghan security turn on their NATO partners — largely dropped last year. In 2013, there were 16 deaths in 10 separate attacks. In 2012, such attacks killed 53 coalition troops in 38 separate attacks.
Kurdish pop star Helly Luv got the attention of the Islamic State (I.S., formerly known as ISIS) with the release of her single, “Risk It All” in February of this year. The militants, who have taken control of parts of Syria and Iraq, have issued death threats against Ms. Luv and her rump-shaking rally cry. Iraq’s retreat from the Islamic State enabled the Kurds to gain some ground in their battle against Iraq for an independent state, so it is completely reasonable to believe that I.S. wants to silence anyone who might rally the troops against them. What isn’t so easy to believe is that they think Helly Luv actually has that kind of social gravitas.
The video begins with Luv lighting a Molotov cocktail and managing to throw it a whole three feet in front of her – complete with slow motion video effects for added drama. Her throw is as impotent as her lyrics. It’s like someone took a Ke$ha song, added some Syrian refugee children in tattered clothing, and gave AK-47s to the back-up singers.
Synthesized beats, inane lyrics, and Helly Luv’s ass quivering though the streets of Irbil was enough to get the video over 3 million hits on YouTube. Luv said in an interview that her message is that Kurdish people “need to risk everything for our dreams and fight for our country,” but her lyrics are anything but revolutionary.I don’t wanna wait no more I wanna risk it all can’t do it on my own we takin’ over leggo everybody, everywhere (Bounce) Hook (x4): Yella yella ay yella yella ay Verse 2 (x4): Put ya guns up in the air guns up in the air
It may well be that the Islamic State got a little pelvic-ly perturbed by the 25-year-old hottie and wanted to make sure she doesn’t cause any more distractions, but I can’t help but wonder if they just heard the song and wanted to save everyone the misery of having to listen to this shit. Let’s hope the only thing that dies young is Helly Luv’s career.
Turkey, a hot spot for radical Islamists, admitted there are over 1,000 Turkish radicals in the Islamic State (IS), formerly known as ISIS or ISIL. It is another black eye for the NATO country after an IS fighter claimed that the country funds the terrorist group and the international community said Turkey does not do enough to secure its border with Syria.First, we have seen some Takfiri groups attacking a mosque belonging to Shia Muslims. With ISIL making new advances, their sympathizers have become more visible in a bid to display their contentment with the developments. It was on July 31 when the Hürriyet Daily News reported about an Istanbul-based charity organization that had to suspend its activities after it was criticized for using an insignia adopted by the ISIL. There were also allegations that the charity was recruiting terrorists for the insurgency in Syria and Iraq. In separate news, Turkish media broadcast a few days ago pictures of hundreds of men with long beards in Taliban-style dress gathering for Eid al-Fitr somewhere in Istanbul. The group was allegedly linked with ISIL, and they dedicated their Eid al-Fitr prayers to ISIL terrorists in Iraq and Syria. Evidence has connected Turkey to IS since IS's formation in March 2013: One IS fighter said the group owes everything to Turkey because the country showed "affection" and provides medical treatment for the fighters. Turkey backed the rebels against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and CNN featured the country’s secret jihadi route to Syria. IS captured Azaz, a city in Syria near Turkey's border, which allowed easier access for the jihadists. The 16-year-old twins, Salma and Zahra Halane from Manchester, allegedly entered Syria through Turkey to join their older brother. IS expanded to Iraq and asked Turkey businesses to return to Iraq. Turkey’s Minister of Economy Nihat Zeybekci said the country will be involved when Iraq is rebuilt. Additionally, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his AK Party have a well-developed reputation for anti-Semitism and anti-Israel policies. Erdogan consistently blasts Israel and accuses them of war crimes against Gaza. While there are no official connections between Gaza and IS, there are a few reports that IS cells are forming deep within Palestine. IS also promised Hamas that the group will help fight with them against the “barbaric Jews,” but IS needs to release Arab countries from the United States.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has called on the international community to carefully monitor the "dangerous tendency" in Lebanon, as well as in Syria and Iraq. “We urge partners in the international community to carefully and objectively access the extremely dangerous tendency that we clearly observe in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon,” the ministry said, adding that in the past few days the situation in Arsal, northeast of Lebanon’s Beirut, has deteriorated. Rebels from the Islamist group Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State (IS) on August 2 attacked Arsal, located along the border with Syria, targeting the Lebanese Army’s checkpoints. More than 10 Lebanese servicemen have been killed, with hundreds of Lebanese security troops and civilians taken hostage by terrorists, according to media reports. “It is essential to abandon the double standard practice and refrain from steps leading not to containment but in opposite, to boosting terrorist and extremist threat in the turbulent Middle East region,” the statement reads. The ministry further added: “Authorities in Damascus, Baghdad and Beirut are facing a common danger of the spreading international terrorism that does not acknowledge interstate borders and seeks to gain control over new territories.” Following the attacks by violent extremist groups in Arsal, the UN Security Council expressed support for the efforts of the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Internal Security Forces in their fight against terrorism and in preventing attempts to undermine the stability of Lebanon. The local government estimates that at least 3,000 families from Arsal have been displaced so far. The Security Council stressed “the need to further efforts to build up the capabilities of the Lebanese security forces to counter terrorism and address other security challenges."
Four years ago, Asia Bibi was asked to fetch water while working in the fields. Some of her Muslim fellow workers refused to drink it because they considered it to be “unclean” since it was collected by a Christian. A dispute ensued and her co-workers complained that she blasphemed against the Prophet Muhammad. Then she was arrested, sentenced to death by hanging, and has been languishing in a jail ever since. Her husband and five children live under death threats and have been forced into hiding. The case has prompted widespread international condemnation, including from heads of state and the Pope.Pakistan has the strictest anti-blasphemy laws. Several sections of Pakistan's Criminal Code forbid damaging or defiling a place of worship, outraging religious feelings, defiling the Quran or defaming the prophet Muhammad. The wording of the laws is vague and can be subject to abuse, either by the authorities or by any Pakistani who can accuse a fellow citizen of blasphemy with a personal complaint to the prosecutor. Punishment can be life imprisonment of or even death. Those accused of blasphemy are frequently threatened or attacked, even before any investigation has been carried out. People take to the streets and violence waged by pro-blasphemy groups ensues. Asia Bibi’s case is such a political hot potato in Pakistan that it appears to have paralyzed the authorities. In Pakistan, some of those who publicly called for Asia’s release were murdered. For example, the Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, was assassinated by his very own bodyguard because he defended Asia Bibi and vocally opposed Pakistan’s blasphemy law. Pakistan's Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian member of Pakistan's cabinet, was also assassinated for speaking out. Each time that a Christian villager is accused of blasphemy, heaps of Christian neighbors flee the area out of fear that they are next in line to be harassed or accused of the same “crime.” While Asia Bibi’s case has been widely featured in media reports around the world, scores of victims accused of blasphemy vanish into the shadows without the public hearing of them. Despite the international and domestic commotion, Asia Bibi is still in jail. How can that be? Why hasn’t the Pakistani government released her? In 2010, President Asif Ali Zardari dropped plans to issue a presidential pardon after hardline pro-blasphemy groups staged massive demonstrations against the measure. Hitting a sensitive nerve, the case has shed light on how the Pakistani government has been taken hostage by militant extremists. Pakistani judges are under pressure from mobs waiting outside their courtrooms, ready to spark riots. Lawyers fear assuming the defense of the accused. And rather than doing what’s right, it’s easier for the Pakistani authorities to turn a blind eye. Releasing Asia Bibi and amending article 295 of the Pakistani penal code, its inflammatory anti-blasphemy law that places Pakistani society at the mercy of religious extremists, would help Pakistan demonstrate that it will not bow down to those who threaten the rule of law through violence and intimidation.
Forty-nine year-old magazine editor and publisher Shoaib Adil fled his home in the eastern city of Lahore last month and went into hiding with his wife and children. Adil faces threats and possible charges of blasphemy--a crime punishable by life imprisonment or death--in connection with a book he published in 2007, written by a judge belonging to a religious minority group in Pakistan, as well as with his magazine, which covers sensitive issues. For years, Adil has been able to navigate the challenges that come with his critical journalistic work. But now he faces the possibility of being unable to live or work safely in Pakistan.
The interview has been translated from Urdu and edited for length and clarity.CPJ: Can you tell us about your work? Shoaib Adil: In Pakistan, Urdu-language journalism differs vastly from English-language journalism. The latter is approached with a greater sense of objectivity but reaches only a narrow segment of the population. Urdu-language journalism, on the other hand, enjoys a much wider reach. What's reported there has a greater impact, but it tends to be very biased. I felt compelled to bring a liberal-minded voice to that space. Amid the growing Talibanization of Pakistan, I launched an Urdu-language magazine called Nia Zamana in May 2000. The magazine began on a voluntary basis by a group of friends. In 2007 we launched a Web version. You'll see that we covered a host of sensitive subjects ranging from blasphemy to religious violence, the abductions and forced conversion of Hindu girls, and the treatment of Christians. We've been critical of the role of the military, and have written in favor of friendlier relations with neighboring India. We were very critical of figures like Hafiz Saeed [a founder of the U.N.-designated terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba] following the 2008 Mumbai attacks when very few would dare to. CPJ: What has it been like reporting on these issues? SA: A few weeks after the criticism of Hafiz Saeed, we received threats. Members of Lashkar-e-Taiba showed up in person and asked me, "On whose orders are you taking this line?" In the past, I've been criticized by religious groups that claim I focus on the negative aspects of their work. I have been told that I should know full well the consequences of writing such things. We've been receiving ongoing threats and demands for apologies. Over the course of the years, I have learned to work around such challenges. CPJ: But you've been under threat more recently as well. Can you explain why? SA: Alongside my work with the magazine, I also work as a publisher to support myself. In 2007, I published an autobiography titled Adalat-i-Alia Tak ka Safar [My Journey to the High Court] written by former Lahore High Court Judge Muhammad Islam Bhatti, who belongs to the persecuted Ahmadi community. You may have seen the news that just a few days ago, members of the community were targeted and killed in Gujranwala. [Ahmadis are a minority sect rooted in Islam that is designated as non-Muslim under Pakistan's constitution] In the book, Bhatti wrote about his religious upbringing as well as his professional life. But maulvis [clerics and religious activists] have taken issue with a book published seven years ago that is pretty much out of print, and have accused us of blasphemy. I don't think it contains anything blasphemous. The June issue of Nia Zamana put the spotlight on the murder of Rashid Rehman, a human rights lawyer in Multan, who was gunned down for defending Junaid Hafeez, a lecturer who is facing charges of blasphemy. There is a complete lack of sensibility here. How long will this continue? Shortly after the June issue was published I began receiving calls telling me there would be consequences. On June 11, police accompanied by about a dozen maulvis arrived at my office and questioned me on the book. The maulvis ransacked my office and tried to attack me. The police then brought me to the station for further questioning that evening. In just a short time, the maulvis were able to gather 50-70 people outside the station demanding that a blasphemy case be registered against me. They stayed late into the night, and kept pressuring the police to register a blasphemy case against me. For my own safety, the police did not release me until the early morning when most of the mob had dispersed. The police advised me to disappear. In the meantime, the police initiated a case against me. They sent a copy of the book to be reviewed by an ulema board [a body of Muslim scholars] on whether the content is blasphemous; it would be sent for a legal review, and based on that, formal charges would be issued against me. But seeing that the police didn't file charges immediately, the maulvis also approached the courts directly. CPJ: Why has a book that was published seven years ago suddenly caused this uproar? SA: A couple of points may have led me here as I and my friends surmise. First, powerful circles may be sending me a shut-up call that more of the kind of work done by my magazine won't be tolerated. Religious groups are used as their instruments to further certain objectives. Second is the issue of Ahmadis and their ongoing persecution. Amid growing extremism in Pakistan, there are groups that are trying to find ways to target the [Ahmadi] community. They are engaging in a witch hunt for any materials and anyone in favor of Ahmadis' rights. The book has not even been available in markets these days, but perhaps coming across a copy under such a witch hunt has led them to me. CPJ: It seems blasphemy is a hot-button issue in Pakistan. In May, popular television broadcaster Geo faced accusations of blasphemy. In 2011, CPJ documented the threats made against journalist and politician Sherry Rehman for her opposition to the blasphemy law. That same year, Gov. Salmaan Taseer was assassinated for his opposition to the blasphemy law. And now your latest threats stem from accusations of blasphemy. Can you elaborate on the impact of the law? SA: No one wants to talk about blasphemy. No one wants to consider it. It's a landmine. The pressure is so immense that police will go along when blasphemy accusations are leveled against someone. Lawyers won't touch the cases. Lower court judges are intimidated by "mob justice" by religious groups who are able to organize themselves at a moment's notice. They are so powerful, they intimidate judges into silence. Judges are aware that they can be shot dead. Lower courts often sentence those accused to death, and leave it for the higher courts to have final say. Frequently, those accused are murdered. And anyone accused almost certainly will languish in prison for years, even if nothing is proven against them. CPJ: How has all this impacted you? SA: I have been feeling shock. I feel that I have escaped from the mouth of death because very few people escape blasphemy accusations. At first I was having trouble coming to grips with what happened. Now I am keeping a very low profile and minimizing my time in public. It's become impossible for me to work here. Almost two months on, my office remains shut. And after sending my wife, son, and daughter to live with relatives, and spending almost a month away, we're together again but still in hiding. CPJ: What does your situation say about the climate in Pakistan? SA: Conditions in Pakistan are gloomy. Religious groups say they raise funds for relief, but they also lead efforts for jihad and promote their toxic ideology. Our establishment considers these religious groups instruments for their policies against Afghanistan and India. Foreign journalists can't even cover the ongoing operations in [North] Waziristan. The mainstream media remains stifled. It is difficult to speak against religious groups. Journalists are aware of the reality that they must practice self-censorship in order to survive. I've written for [publications including] Aaj Kal, which was published by Salman Taseer, Dawn, and Jang. At Jang I was told to soften my criticism of the military and religious groups. But I cannot water down my criticism. It's not how I work.
For three years, Kurram Agency looked like Gaza. According to local sources, over 6,000 Shias of Kurram Agency lost their lives to Taliban attacks. Hundreds of thousands relocated to safer places like Karachi, Middle East and Gilgit-Baltistan.This year, locals will once again ‘host’ the good Talibans causing more misery and slaughter.Will you pay attention to this Gaza of Pakistan, or not since it is not fashionable to talk about non-Arabs. The Haqqanis network, key ally of the Pakistani establishment and renowned for its attacks against the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, has found itself a new home in Parachina, Kurram Agency, after being dislodged from its hideouts in North Waziristan in May of this year. Just one month before the much publicized military operation, Zarb-e-Azb. Strategically placed Parachinar, also the headquarters of Kurram Agency, is just 70 miles away from Kabul. Locals say the Haqqanis were relocated there in the months of April and May. The local administration began imposing curfews for no obvious reason, but once it was made known that the Haqqanis were in the area the curfews started making sense. Kurram Agency is surrounded by Afghanistan from three sides and is the closest in terms of distance to the Afghan capital, Kabul. The rapid increase in attacks in Afghanistan since the launch of military operation in Waziristan in June and the arrival of bodies to Lower Kurram from Afghanistan substantiates the locals’ claims. Although the Haqqani network is officially part of the Afghan Taliban led by Mullah Omar, the Haqqanis maintain distinct command and control and lines of operations. Siraj Haqqani, the son of the famous anti-Soviet fighter Jalaluddin Haqqani, is the current leader of the Haqqani network. Siraj is even more extreme than his father and maintains closer ties to al-Qaeda and other foreign extremists in Pakistan.
Seven Uzbek terrorists and two army soldiers were killed in clash during the clearance of the Miramshah to Datta Khel road, a military spokesperson said on Monday. While the clearance was in progress, army troops carried out a snap operation on Uzbek terrorist hideouts in Datta Khel Bazar. A spokesman for ISPR stated that Naib Subedar Mashkoor and Lance Naik Zaheer were also killed in the ambush. According to the spokesman, towns including Miranshah, Mirali, Boya and Degan, extending to Datta Khel have been cleared. However, the operation is currently in progress as there are pockets of resistance between Miranshah-Mirali, villages of Momin Gul Ziarat, Darpakhel, Tappi, Spalga and the south of Tochi river. Furthermore, he said that a large number of IEDs and suicide jackets were recovered in the surrounding areas of Mirali in Shahbaz Khel, along with 75 Rockets, chemicals and propaganda literature. In Umer Ki Kalli, an additional IED factory was also discovered. The military launched an operation in the restive tribal agency on June 15 in the aftermath of a deadly attack on the Karachi airport that left over 30 people dead. The military has said that foreign and local militants, including Tehreek-i-Taliban, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Haqqani network members will be targeted in the offensive.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) members of National Assembly have submitted their resignation letters to the party Chairman, Imran Khan, who plans to handover them to the Speaker of National Assembly on August 13. The party is busy preparing for the “Azadi March” towards Islamabad on Independence Day, and has denied any possibility of reaching a compromise with the PML-N government. Following the announcement regarding PTI MNAs resignation, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) clarified that the National Assembly will still stand, and by-elections will be held on vacant seats within a period of 90 days. Information Minister Pervez Rasheed took the same line. However, there is more to the move than the ultimate objective of bringing the House down. If nothing else, it sends a very clear message to the ruling party as well as PTI’s supporters: Imran means business. If the idea is to stand out in rejection of the ‘corrupt system’, what better way than to resign and take to the streets in protest? Imran wants the opposite of what Nawaz wants. Of course, they both want to be Prime Minister, but since one already is, and the other isn’t and doesn’t wish to wait, there can either be a compromise or all out confrontation. Nawaz obviously prefers the former while Imran is counting on the latter to propel him to the very top or at the very least, bring the top man down. Imran has plenty of things going for him. The military is unhappy with the federal government. The courts are no longer being viewed as neutral arbitrators. Certain sections of the media appear more excited about the ‘revolution’ than those who promise to bring it. There is of course Tahir-ul-Qadri and friends and their promise of bringing a ‘Green Revolution’. PAT and allies have announced to observe Martyr’s Day in Lahore on August 10 to pay tribute to the victims of the Model Town tragedy. Mr Qadri also claims to have certain audio recordings which he believes prove Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s involvement in the incident. Not that the government needs anyone else to make its life difficult, it has proved to be quite self-reliant on that account. But, things aren’t going so well for PTI Chairman in the province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP), where his party is leading a coalition government. Firstly, it’s coalition partners, Jamat-e-Islami (JI) and Awami Jamhoori Ittehad (AJI), have taken a clear position against the dissolution of the KP Assembly, as suggested previously by Imran Khan. In case the PTI members resign from their 55 seats, their coalition partners will have to launch a no-confidence motion against KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak to keep the provincial assembly intact, putting them in direct confrontation with each other much to benefit of the PML-N. Secondly, several PTI MPAs do not appear all that enthusiastic about the prospect of having to quit power merely after 14 months. What will Imran do now?
Ayaz AmirNo change has ever occurred in Pakistan except through the power of the sword – the open or hidden intervention of the army. Why should it be different this time? Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri are playing no one’s game. The script in front of them is their own. But the arena or theatre in which they are playing their parts is controlled not by them. Over it fall the long shadows cast by the army’s bayonets. Whether we like it or not, such is the nature of the Pakistani state, such the contours of Pakistani politics. Like the crowds which occupied Tahrir Square in Cairo, the battalions led by the Kaptaan and the Sheikh can create the conditions for a political change. But the key in the lock, as in Cairo or even Bangkok, if it is turned at all will be turned not by the long marchers or the sit-in crowds but the real battalions under the command of General Headquarters. The cue has to come from there as it did at the time of Nawaz Sharif’s so-called long march when the final screw which brought about the restoration of My Lord Iftikhar Chaudhry was turned by Gen Kayani. Then the army and Nawaz Sharif were marching to the same tune. The slogan was rule of law; the reality was the desire to cut President Zardari down to size. As the then president was forced to eat humble pie that objective was achieved, although Gen Kayani could scarcely have foreseen that in the restoration of Justice Ch the army was creating another problem for itself. The law of unintended consequences usually becomes clearer only after the event. It is Nawaz Sharif’s misfortune and the mother of all his troubles that he and the army are not marching to the same tune anymore. Gone are the days when he was an army favourite, buoyed up by hidden tutors to act as a counterweight to the PPP. Today the army seems barely able to tolerate him and his extended family with their monopoly of political power. There is another problem. Even if the army is in no mood for overt intervention, each time Pervaiz Rashid with his mournful looks – he must do something about them, he’s begun to look like an Auntie – and Saad Rafique with his Groucho Marx moustache makes a television appearance it is a fair bet that the most democracy-loving army officer is inclined to weigh the merits of a military coup. Saad and Pervaiz…it’s their faces and the way they speak. If ISPR is ever to run a pro-coup campaign all it has to do is run their TV clips repeatedly…and the usual photos of Hamza Shahbaz looking thoughtful with his fist under his chin, like Allama Iqbal. Nothing more need be said; that would do the trick. The army is not doing anything overtly. It is allowing Mian Sahib to twist in the wind and will not pull his chestnuts out of the fire, Article 245 notwithstanding. In this season of contrary winds the PML-N is getting nothing right. Handing over the capital’s security to the army has done it no good and will not come to its rescue when the marches get close to the capital’s defences. But it has earned all-round flak for this move. Bhutto managed to keep the army on his right side right up to the 1977 elections. Only then did the scales shift, after which Gen Zia and his leading generals started getting ideas in their heads. It is Nawaz Sharif’s singular achievement that he has managed to turn the army against himself in just a year, that too over such relative trifles as Gen Musharraf’s trial. Any rustic could have told him to let sleeping dogs lie. But he had to go and kick it…and now matters have spun out of his control. And government authority is not what it might have been, not after the bloodletting in Model Town. My friend Rana Sanaullah says that he is an ‘adna kaarkun’ of the party and loss of ministership means nothing to him. He need have no fears on this count. In the Model Town inquiry he has been treated exactly like an ‘adna kaarkun’, the chief minister washing his hands off the whole affair and pinning the blame on his former law minister. As an ‘adna kaarkun’ he will surely take this in his stride. So it is against this backdrop, this perception of PML-N weakness stemming from its frayed relationship with the army, that Imran Khan and the Allama are revving up for their long marches on Islamabad. The army is not coming to the government’s rescue. The government will have to deal with the marches on its own. So the question really is: can a demoralised Punjab police force, sick and tired of long sentry duties, come up to the government’s expectations and act as its storm-troopers? The related question of course is whether the long march leaderships will be able to drum up and mobilise the requisite mass support? And watching this drama keenly, through narrow eyes, will be the army command, playing it by the book, savouring the spectacle of civilian discomfiture. It was at the 11th hour that Gen Kayani made his telephone call which resulted in what an over-eager nation, rushing to judgement, hailed as the triumph of the constitution and the rule of law – azad adlia hogi toh sub theek ho jai ga, nokrian bhi mil jaen gee, maeeshat bhi theek ho jai gi. What’s that old Talat Mehmood song? Raat ne kya kya khwab dikhaye… The PML-N’s fate depends not on the constitution or its mandate. Not a leaf will stir on its behalf, not a single worker turn out in its defence. Its fate depends wholly and solely on the Punjab police and the Islamabad police. Measures are already afoot to block the marches – the usual containers and naakas, etc. Will the two police forces be able to hold their nerves? The last time in front of the Islamabad airport they were made to run for their lives by stone-hurling youngsters. It was a funny spectacle, fit for a Hollywood thriller. Will it be any different this time, especially when the interior minister’s long sulk is still not over? Who will coordinate the police effort? Saad Rafique, Pervaiz Rashid – the mind boggles. If there is even a hint of disorder, the first signs of chaos on the roads in and around Islamabad…that will be the time for the strategic phone call or even something more. Since we have our own history books for a guide, in one form or another it will then be curtains for this drama. It doesn’t take much mathematical genius to figure this out. But if the Kaptaan and Ya Sheikh think that any of this is going to be for their benefit they need to brush up on their Pakistani history. The army always acts for itself, not for any presumed allies or surrogates. Air Marshal Asghar Khan’s 1977 experience should be instructive in this regard. As for mid-term elections, that’s another lullaby to put the nation to sleep. Those who come follow their own agenda. But how delicately the situation is poised: either curtains for this drama, that too very soon, or four more years of this dispensation. If Nawaz Sharif survives this summer of discontent he will have made it – provided of course the Khawajas and the Kashmiri pundits are kept on a short leash.
No civilization would ever have been possible without a framework of stability, to provide the wherein for the flux of change. Foremost among the stabilising factors, more enduring than customs, manners and traditions are the legal systems that regulate our life in the world and our daily affairs with each other. — Hannah Arendt. Grey slacks, blue button-down oxford shirts: this was the daily attire at St Marks School of Texas, where rules — of which there were many — were pervasively enforced. At my all-boys' prep school, life could not have been anymore regimented. Uniforms established equality, while a core curriculum rounded out carefully manicured courses of study and training. It wasn't until many years later, as an adult, that I fully appreciated the formative powers of such structure, regulation, and order. From the carefully constructed storyline of my cloistered childhood, descent into Islamabad constituted pure culture shock delivered by sensory overload. Stepping out of the airport, chaotic traffic, colourful buses, and a barrage of beggars competed for my attention from all sides. The meaning and profundity of the experience flew over my head, but it definitely struck a nerve. I had come here to study medicine at a school established by American-trained physicians, but it immediately was clear that the most important lessons in medical practice would be those taught by the people of Pakistan. A foreigner or driving in Pakistan: If I can drive in Pakistan... An excited relative shepherded me through the dense swamp of people to a car, where a driver who had been patiently awaiting us tucked away my baggage and authoritatively drove us to our destination. "Arif, you see, a driver is a buffer. You see, the road here is sort of like a jungle. If there's an altercation; it's the driver’s responsibility to resolve it," my uncle explained to me. Indeed, the rule of the road seemed to be anarchy: cars ploughed through red lights, lane markers were egregiously disregarded, and disorder was rampant. And the disorder didn't end at the medians and sidewalks: structure, regulation, order were often nowhere to be found. The scene stirred in me an awareness of the disparities around me, and I applied the lessons in order and discipline of my schooling towards a goal of contributing towards the propagation of equality and justice through health care in the city around me. Every Friday, I would venture into the open-air bazaar to seek out the anxious beggars who were otherwise entirely overlooked in the bustling market, offering attention, care, and charity of my means. It was here that I learned how compassion and empathy play vital roles in the process of healing. One ageing woman I met there had been suffering from osteoarthritis for at least 10 years, unaware of the existence of analgesics; imagine the change in her quality of life when medical intervention came. Following diagnosis by X-ray, prescription of anti-inflammatory drugs and a simple aerobic exercise schedule; she was ecstatic. There were many like her – for whom dramatic relief was a greeting and a brief consultation away. My most memorable experience, however, was of a pariah whose compulsive outbursts of obscenities left him shunned by the public; hoping to help, I established a rapport. Suspecting a Tourette's diagnosis (neurological disorder), I arranged for a psychiatric evaluation to confirm. His diagnosis changed his self-concept. With heartbreaking gratitude, he would continuously tell me that no one had ever really acknowledged him before. I remember feeling completely overwhelmed when he called me his saviour. During a dermatology rotation, I was greeted by an extremely coy and impoverished 12-year-old girl. After an in-depth history and physical examination, it was determined that she had primary syphilis. Coming from a family of 10 living in a single room, she regularly witnessed her parents fornicating. She became intrigued one day and engaged in sexual activity while her parents were at work. We were unable to involve her parents, knowing they would react harshly. I remember she was terrified of seeing a doctor initially, but she also trusted me. We treated her with Penicillin G and counselled her about safe sexual practices. Delving deep into the chasm of these individuals' personal lives and health made me realise how fortunate I was to grow up in a country where you can actually see legal rights and equality in action. No one really cared for any of these people because they were never taught to.
As a society where legal violations were disregarded and dealt with monetarily, it's no surprise Pakistan has lost track of its most valuable asset: its people.
Medical school taught me the importance of maintaining a high regard for humanity and equality. The value of human life, regardless of geographical location, socio-economic status, or education should always remain high and level. Our biggest asset is our people, but that is yet to be learnt.
Jume Tahir, 74, of the Id Kah Mosque in the city of Kashgar in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, was murdered by three terrorists at 6:58 a.m. on July 30 after he finished hosting morning prayer rituals. Two days earlier, 37 civilians were killed and another 13 were injured in a terrorist attack in Shache County, Kashgar Prefecture. The heavy casualties of this attack make it the most deadly terrorist incident in the region since the 7/5 Incident in 2009. In response to the attack, police have killed 59 terrorists and arrested 215 others. Why do the authorities fail to suppress these spates of terrorist attacks, which tend only to intensify? Why is terrorism still so difficult to counter even though anti-terrorism measures have been enacted? The Chinese central government has always paid a great deal of attention to the economic and cultural development of Xinjiang. They have maintained such efforts into the present day, as the central authorities gather resources from throughout the nation to support Xinjiang's growth, protect local cultures, improve people's living conditions, and create other favorable policies and services. In contact between Han and other ethnic groups – primarily the Uygur ethnic group – in Xinjiang, the government underscores "preserving unity among different ethnic groups," which often results in compromise and concession on the part of ethnic Han Chinese. This care and goodwill has failed to be greeted with reciprocal gestures from extremists in Xinjiang, who spread hateful opinions in order to deceive people from different ethnic groups into believing that the benefits they receive from the central authorities are a repayment of "the country's debt to them." Those few people who are successfully misled, in addition to considering "compensation" justifiable, demand that Uygurs be deemed superior to all other ethnic groups in the nation. Issues such as these originate from one key question: who, in fact, is the owner of this land? It is well-known that the area of present-day Xinjiang was referred to as Xiyu (Western Region) in ancient times, since which time people from various ethnic groups have been living here. Chinese central authorities began governing this area during the Western Han Dynasty (202 BC – 9 AD), both farming the land and protecting it. The emperors of the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1370) expanded Chinese territory to extend further into central Asia, and the final Chinese imperial dynasty, the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912), formally established Xinjiang as a Chinese province. History therefore shows that Xinjiang has been an inseparable part of China since ancient times. Some people with ulterior motives have, however, attempted to distort this history by terming certain ethnic groups "natives" and others "foreigners" – or even "colonists" – based on mere assumptions. This is no more than an attempt to mislead the public into supporting the separation of Xinjiang from Chinese territory. Unfortunately, some inlanders who are not aware of the relevant history have gone along with the separatists' orchestration, evident in their lack of self-confidence in dealing with disputes that involve ethnic groups. Appeasement has fostered violent terrorists' arrogance, reducing their respect for the law, even though they are already committing killings and lootings. These violent terrorists fundamentally wish to dominate Xinjiang while exorcizing other ethnic groups in the name of protecting their homeland and "expelling invaders." They carry the banner of Islam only because they seek recognition from their ethnic group. The terrorists do not hesitate to incite ethnic hatred and advocate murder in order to achieve their goal. The murder of Jume Tahir has brought the extremists' and terrorists' true intentions to light. "Preserving Islam and restoring Islamic rituals" are falsehoods they use to hide their attempts to separate Xinjiang from the homeland along lines of culture, religion, customs, costumes, and diet, among other things. If we have learned anything from Chinese history, it is that anyone who attempts to achieve his or her own goals at the cost of social stability and financial and personal damage to others will ultimately meet with failure. People from all ethnic groups in Xinjiang should recognize the true intentions of the Three Evils – "terrorism, separatism and religious extremism" – which promote the slaughter of both innocent civilians and religious leaders. They attack government offices, including those of law enforcement officials. In their crimes against the state and their crimes against humanity, they trample upon the lives and safety of everyone, including those of their own people.