Thursday, August 21, 2014
With the escalation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine and the increasing sanctions on Russia, Ukraine and Russia are facing a critical decision. Whether to keep the confrontation going or begin to compromise is a tricky decision for both. With 280 Russian trucks heading for the border between Russia and Ukraine, the Russia- Ukraine dispute is getting worse. Ukraine doubts Russian claims that the trucks are loaded with humanitarian assistance such as food and medicine. The result is that the trucks have been intercepted on the border of Russia and Ukraine. Reporters from The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph said they saw 23 Russia armored cars cross the border into Ukraine. The secretary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization hastened to declare that its allied forces had also seen Russian trucks enter Ukraine. Tension between Russia and the western countries is rising. The foreign Affairs Committee of the EU delivered a declaration that any unilateral Russian military action would be a brazen breach of international law. Russia accused the West countries of thwarting its humanitarian assistance. The White House has declared that it remains unclear whether Russian soldiers have invaded Ukraine, and has warned Russia against entering Ukraine without the permission of the latter. Concerned at the possible damage to the European economy, EU countries have urged Russia not to escalate the dispute. The escalation of Russia-Ukraine dispute is an indicator of the level of distrust between the West and Russia. The sanctions imposed on Russia are harmful to both Russia and the EU. The US economic sanctions against Russia are a blow to the economy of Russia as well as that of Euro-zone area. If its trucks are not allowed to enter Ukraine, Russia, in an effort to save face, will continue to make further trouble in eastern Ukraine.
Moscow police made public Go-Pro footage shot by the possible painters of a star on the iconic Stalin skyscraper in downtown Moscow. Police detained a group of four daredevils, who parachuted off the building, and charged them with vandalism for painting the spire in the yellow-blue colors of the Ukrainian flag.
At a meeting hosted by members of the Reform and Convergence Team on Thursday afternoon, presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah asserted that the audit process should bring justice, adding that his team will monitor every step of the process before making final decisions. "We want the audit process to bring justice," he said. "I assure the people of Afghanistan that we are determined to protect their votes." Moreover, Abdullah stressed on the significance of maintaining the legitimacy of the election process, stating that people's votes should not be tampered with. "Defending votes is not about getting power; it is about defending the rights of the people of Afghanistan," he stated while claiming that his team has genuine votes from various provinces around the country. Abdullah also emphasized that safeguarding people's trust is an important part of his leadership. "The only thing we have is the people's trust; we will not give it up in exchange for anything," Abdullah stressed. The statements came as recent disputes in the Independent Election Commission (IEC) have once again raised concerns and uncertainties about the future of the election process. In addition, Abdullah urged on the political negotiations with Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai on the formation of national unity government, but maintained that the negotiations are not asking for privileges. "The political process doesn't mean asking for privileges. Talks are underway and we will have a negotiation ready in the next few days." But, Abdullah's second vice runner mate Mohammad Mohaqeq criticized the auditing procedures and declares the election commission as the main element behind the frauds. "You saw the episode of the fat and skinny sheep's became the headline; Amarkhail resigned and left the sheep's for others, we have always said that Amarkhail and Saadat played a role in the electoral frauds, but no one listened to us," Mohammad Mohaqeq said. Meanwhile, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's team has asked that audit process and invalidation of votes are transparent and valid. Abdullah and his rival Ashraf Ghani held a meeting on Wednesday focusing on the formation of the national unity government.
Former President Asif Ali Zardari has arrived in Islamabad today (Thursday) and is likely to call Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP) meeting in Karachi. According to details, the former president of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari has reached Karachi from Dubai in context of the current political rift between the government and the opposition parties. Previously, National Assembly’s Opposition Leader and PPP’s senior leader Khursheed Shah and Senator Aitezaz Ahsan were called to Dubai yesterday (Wednesday). Moreover, other leaders were supposed to reach there to discuss the current socio-political crisis in the country; however, as Asif Ali Zardari has arrived Karachi, all the political leaders are expected to reach there to meet the party’s co- chairperson to discuss the current socio-political situation and announce PPP’s stance over it. Previously, Zardari conducted an Executive Committee meeting in Dubai as well. As per sources, many leaders requested former President to reach Pakistan to discuss the current political situation.
By: Senator Taj Haider Secretary General PPP SindhThe present crisis of the Right wing extremist politics of Pakistan is the direct result of manipulations made for rigging the last general elections. Those shouting themselves hoarse over rigging in the last elections were themselves the biggest beneficiaries of such rigging. They choose to ignore the fact that 3 political parties that were against religious extremism were not allowed to run an election campaign. The son of Prime Minister Gillani was kidnapped on gunpoint for holding a small election corner meeting in Multan (he has not been recovered till date) while PML(N) and PTI were campaigning in the legnth and breadth of the country unhindered and unharmed. What difference militancy made in the results of the Elections can be gauged from the results of NA-1 Peshawar where the PTI chief Mr. Imran Khan had won by a lead of 70,000 votes in the general elections and had vacated the seat later. In the bye-elections held just 2 months later when the militants allowed ANP to campaign not only the PTI lead of 70,000 votes vanished but the seat itself was lot by the PTI. The holy agitators also choose to ignore the findings of the Election Tribunal on the rigging committed by the PTI on PS-93, Karachi West. The Tribunal in its judgment on 7th August found that the sitting MPA, who is PTIs General Secretary Sindh Province, had changed the results of 7 polling stations, increased votes in his favour by more than 5,000 and reduced the votes of the JI candidate who was declared the ultimate winner by the Tribunal. The same Secretary General PTI took hundreds of PTI workers to Islamabad Dharnas and stood next to his Chief demanding “resignations and fair elections”. Stones are being pelted all around on others by PTI without realizing that they are themselves sitting in a glass house. These were not elections. This was an arrangement worked out by the agencies (whom the PPP President Mr. Makhdoom Amin Faheem rightly congratulated on PML(N) election victory) and supported on ground by militants. This was an artificial arrangement, whose time was long past. This arrangement had to crumble down. The time for worn out ideas and their imposition at gun point is long gone. Pakistan People Party had opted for continuation of the spirit of the Charter of Democracy. The spirit is that of reconciliation. It excludes dictation of the establishment. We had made PML(N) a part of the Federal Government. We were ourselves part of the Punjab Government. Unfortunately Mian Nawaz Sharif Sahib thought it better to part way and started using Judiciary and State Institutions to destabilize our elected government. While we were acting boldly to oust militants from Swat and other areas, these elements were provided safe heavens in Southern Punjab. Their camps were not dismantled and these very extremists provided militant support in Southern Punjab to deliver a solid PPP area to PML (N). In the interest of continuation of democracy PPP decided not to protest on the streets. The highly abusive language used against us and our leadership by PML(N) hurt us. But at the present crucial juncture the language being used against PML(N) leadership is hurting us more. Continuation of the democratic system remains as ever our top priority. Democracy presupposes a civilized political culture, which is being ruined by these elements who have no stakes in the democratic system. Can the commission appointed by the Honourable Supreme Court investigate all of more than 1300 seats of the Provincial and National Assemblies? The record has been so badly messed up as a result of arrangements made before the polls that it has become impossible to correctly identify the bogus votes. The fact that 3 parties who were against the extremist militants were not allowed to campaign while PTI and PML(N) enjoyed their full support is reason enough to call the election unfair. PPP has been saying that from the first day. The most important question is, where do we go from here? PPP, the biggest sufferer of rigging believes in “politics of reconciliation”. Major successes for Democracy, the Charter of Democracy, the NFC Award, the 18th Amendment, the completion of the term of previous assemblies and the governments were all results of “politics of reconciliation”. “Politics of Confrontation” which does make headlines in the Media has always resulted in setbacks and loosing of all the democratic gains and ultimately in dictatorship. We have seen enough of it in 1999. We do not understand why the PTI and PML(N) who were the biggest beneficiaries of poll rigging are pushing the country to the same abyss through confrontation. Everyone stands to loose. There are no winners in this confrontation or in any confrontation for that matter. Emotionalism has to make way for Rationalism. Violence and democracy can never co-exist. We shall have to jointly find way to exclude militancy and the role of agencies from the electoral system. The time for such a system has arrived. Attempts to postpone it will always result in one crisis after the other.
Source : Office of the Senator Taj Haider Secretary General PPP Sindh.
By Gurmeet Kanwal Like Pakistan, the nation, its army has been passing through turbulent times. The army’s counter-insurgency operations in Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa (erstwhile North West Frontier Province) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have not been going well; its establishments have been repeatedly attacked with at least some attackers coming from within; its relations with its NATO allies had plummeted to an all-time low after the spectacular US raid to kill Osama bin Laden at Abbottabad in May 2011; the morale of the rank and file is low; and, its senior leadership is once again at loggerheads with the political leaders of Pakistan. Despairing at the role played by the Pakistan army in meddling in the country’s politics and governance in the context of the ‘memogate’ scandal in December 2011, then Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had called the army a ‘state within a state’. Though this phrase has been in use for long, many analysts are of the view that the Prime Minister got it wrong because, in Pakistan, the army is the state. In fact, the army and the ISI (the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate) together form the ‘deep state’. The military jackboot has ridden roughshod over Pakistan’s polity for most of the country’s history since its independence. While Generals Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Zia ul Haq and Musharraf ruled directly as Presidents or Chief Martial Law Administrators, the other army chiefs achieved perfection in the fine art of backseat driving. The army repeatedly took over the reins of administration under the guise of the ‘doctrine of necessity’ and, in complete disregard of international norms of jurisprudence, Pakistan’s Supreme Court mostly played along. Almost since the birth of Pakistan, the army has effectively ensured that Pakistan’s fledgling democracy is not allowed to take deep root. The roots of authoritarianism in Pakistan can be traced back to General (later Field Marshal) Ayub Khan who promoted the idea of ‘guided’ or ‘controlled’ democracy. The concept of the ‘Troika’ emerged later as a power sharing arrangement between the President, the Prime Minister and the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS). The ‘political militarism’ of the Pakistan army imposed structural constraints on the institutionalisation of democratic norms in the civil society. Some key national policies have always been dictated by the army. The army determines Pakistan’s national security threats and challenges and decides how to deal with them. Pakistan’s policy on Afghanistan and Jammu and Kashmir is guided by the army and the rapprochement process with India cannot proceed without its concurrence. The army controls Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme and the related research and development. The civilian government has no role to play in deciding the doctrine for nuclear deterrence, the force structures, the targeting policies and the process of command and control. The army Chief controls the ISI and decides the annual defence expenditure and all defence procurements. He also controls all senior-level promotions and appointments; the government merely rubber stamps the decisions. Lt Gen Shuja Ahmed Pasha, DG ISI, was given two extensions at the behest of the COAS and General Kayani was himself given a three-year extension. In keeping with its visceral hatred of India and in order to weaken India, as also to further China’s objectives of reducing India’s influence in Asia and confining it to the backwaters of the Indian Ocean as a subaltern state, the Pakistan army has adopted a carefully calculated strategy of ‘bleeding India through a thousand cuts’. This has been given effect overtly through irregular warfare – the Razakar and Mujahid invasion of Kashmir in 1947-48 and Operation Gibraltar in 1965; and, the Kargil intrusions of 1999. A proxy war has been waged through ISI-sponsored militancy and terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and state-sponsored terrorism in other parts of India, like the Mumbai terror strikes in November 2008. In the 1980s, Pakistan had encouraged and supported Sikh terrorist organisations in their misplaced venture to seek the creation of an independent state of Khalistan. The ISI provides operational, intelligence, communication, training, financial and material support to fundamentalist terrorist organisations like the Lashkar-e-Tayebba (LeT) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) to wage war against India. Similarly, it provides substantial intelligence and material support to various Taliban factions like the North Waziristan-based Haqqani Network to operate in Afghanistan against the Karzai regime and against NATO-ISAF forces. This is done despite the fact that Pakistan is a major non-NATO ally in the so-called ‘global war against terrorism’ (GWOT). The killing of Osama bin Laden in the army cantonment of Abbottabad, where he had been housed by the ISI for almost five years, provided direct proof of the ISI’s complicity in anti-NATO activities. This duplicitous working ethos of running with the hares and hunting with the hounds comes naturally to the Pakistan army and the ISI. In fact, during the Kargil conflict, the Pakistan army had earned the infamous sobriquet of ‘rogue army’ for asking its soldiers to fight in civilian clothes, returning badly mutilated bodies of captured Indian soldiers and refusing to take back the bodies of soldiers of the Northern Light Infantry killed in action on the specious grounds that they were Mujahideen. Some of the powers usurped by the army over the years can be attributed to the political parties’ self-inflicted injuries. The shenanigans of the two main political parties – the Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Muslim League – and widespread corruption led several times to the people’s complete disenchantment with the rule of PPP’s Benazir Bhutto and her father before her and PML’s Nawaz Sharif. In addition to poor political leadership, the failure of democratic institutions can also be ascribed to constitutional and judicial weaknesses and the unsatisfactory levels of socio-economic development. The people were disenchanted with the poor quality of governance provided by the Yousaf Raza Gilani/ Raja P Ashraf-led PPP government; it is to General Kayani’s credit that he did not stage a coup. External factors have also led to the army playing a larger role than is warranted in a democracy. By arming the military to the teeth, the US has caused Pakistan to become a praetorian state in which the army plays a dominant role. It is only recently, in the face of the Pakistan army’s perfidious role in Afghanistan that the US government has begun to come to terms with its ill-considered policy. After the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers by NATO-ISAF forces in a border outpost in November 2011, US-Pakistan relations had hit a new low. The incident led to the Pakistan government’s decision to stop the flow of logistics convoys through Quetta and Peshawar, deny base facilities at Shamsi airbase and demand re-negotiation of the rules of engagement. In turn, the US government announced that it would withhold military aid to Pakistan. The army and the Nawaz Sharif government were till recently at loggerheads over the government’s counter-insurgency policy, which had lacked cohesion. The army had been recommending to the government for quite some time that firm military action was necessary to deal with the menace of home grown terrorism, but the political leadership had disagreed. The commencement of a peace dialogue with the TTP by the government, allowed the terrorist organisation to re-arm, recruit and train fresh fighters. It also gave the TTP leadership the opportunity to cross the border into Afghanistan. In March 2014, the TTP offered a month-long cease-fire. The army honoured the cease-fire and refrained from active operations, but TTP factions fought on. On April 16th, the TTP withdrew its pledge and blamed the government for failing to make any new offers. In the face of mounting public and army pressure, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reluctantly agreed to approve military strikes. He was apprehensive that General Raheel Sharif, the COAS, may unilaterally decide to launch an all-out offensive. The PM is now backing the army fully and has said that he will not allow Pakistan to become a “sanctuary of terrorists” and that the military operation will continue till all the militants are eliminated. On June 15, 2014, the Pakistan army finally launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb (sharp and cutting), its much delayed offensive against the TTP in North Waziristan. Two months after it was launched, the operation is yet to achieve its goals. The precarious situation in Pakistan is headed towards a dangerous denouement. Imran Khan, Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party and Tahir-ul-Qadri, a rabble-rousing cleric, are leading a march to Islamabad. The likelihood of a military coup is being openly discussed again. The economy is in a serious mess. The funds are low, the debts are high, exports have dwindled to a trickle and the rupee has fallen to all time low of about 100 rupees to a dollar. Pakistan dependent on US largesse to meet its obligations for the repayment of its burgeoning debt. The beleaguered Prime Minister appears to be at his wit’s end. The army remains central to the survival of Pakistan. Pakistan cannot survive as a coherent nation state unless the army gives up its agenda of seeking strategic depth in Afghanistan, its attempts to destabilise India through its proxy war and stops meddling in politics. The army must pull itself up by the bootstraps and substantively enhance its capacity to conduct effective counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations. The army has to realise that it has let down Pakistan and must make amends. In the national interest, the army must give up being a state within a state and accept civilian control, even if it does so with bad grace.
Inspector General of Police (Islamabad) Aftab Ahmad Cheema has been removed from post for not accepting government’s order to crackdown on protestors in the federal capital, sources told Dunya News. According to the Ministry of Interior, acting charge of IG has been given to DIG Headquarters Khalid Khattak. According to sources, the government had ordered police to arrest Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri. Afterwards, IG Islamabad Aftab Cheema had directed police to avoid torture on the long march participants. Police officials are confused over government’s contradictory orders against the protestors, sources told. As the news regarding IG Islamabad’s replacement surfaced, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi claimed police have launched crackdown on PTI workers.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) has suspended the dialogue process with the government. PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the Punjab Governor was informed about the suspension of talks with the government negotiating team. Qureshi held a telephonic conversation with Chaudhry Sarwar and told him that the PTI team will not come to the hotel for the negotiation. The official page of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf also tweeted about the decision.
Explaining the reason, the PTI said the statements of federal ministers were deteriorating the environment for talks.The PTI committee is currently present at the residence of Jahangir Tareen. The second round of talks between Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the government were scheduled for 2pm today. Earlier, member of the negotiation committee, Ahsan Iqbal said that both the parties have a consensus over not being a laughing stock. PTI has presented 6 demands before the government which shall be reviewed within the party and we’re hopeful for the dialogues to bear positive outcome, he added. Vice Chairman PTI Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that PTI is a democratic party and they are not negotiating upon anybody else’s indication. The PTI and the government have both formulated their respective teams for negotiations. The team representing the government constituted governor Punjab Chaudhry Sarwar and federal ministers viz Pervez Rashid, Zahid Hamid, Ahsan Iqbal and Abdul Qadir Baloch whereas the negotiating team representing PTI constituted Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Javed Hashmi, Asad Umer, Jahangir Tareen and Arif Alvi. The negotiations took place in a hotel in Islamabad after which Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that they had presented their demands before the government and would be awaiting for their response after consultation.
The United States offered a total $30 million Wednesday in return for information on key leaders of the feared Haqqani militant network, blamed for numerous bloody attacks in Afghanistan. “The Department has authorized rewards of up to $5 million each for information leading to the location of Aziz Haqqani, Khalil al-Rahman Haqqani, Yahya Haqqani, and Abdul Rauf Zakir,” the State Department said in a statement. It also increased its previous reward offer of up to $5 million for information on the group’s leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, to up to $10 million. The State Department added: “The group is allied with Al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban and cooperates with other terrorist organizations in the region.” It said that the network was “the most lethal insurgent group” targeting the US-led NATO coalition and Afghan personnel in neighboring Afghanistan.
By now, it is a well-known script. In the evolution of virtually every political crisis, there comes a point where the military leadership issues a carefully worded statement that is designed to come across as well-meaning and generous, but is in fact ill-advised and unnecessary. On Tuesday, after watching silently from the sidelines as the latest political crisis to hit the country ebbed and flowed over several days, the army leadership decided to wade deep into the crisis and offer some political advice to the political leadership. To some, the ISPR statement will simply reflect an obvious reality: there is a political impasse in the country and the political leadership needs to demonstrate “patience, wisdom and sagacity”. Note though that the ISPR had nary a word to say on constitutionalism, democracy and the rule of law. Instead, there was the usual martial language about sacred symbols of the state and the need to protect the national interest. Place Tuesday’s ISPR statement in the proper historical context and it amounts to little more than big brother chiding the children of democracy to behave — or else. The ‘or else’ is always left unsaid, but the country hardly needs reminding about what it could be. Without a doubt, the army leadership has grabbed with both hands the opportunity that the political leadership has created for it — perhaps even steered events from behind the scenes to the present impasse. Conspiracy theories are manifold in Pakistan, but consider how quickly three forces converged on Tuesday to put democracy under pressure. Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri had, until the decision to move their separate sit-ins to a joint venue directly in front of parliament, kept each other at arm’s length since setting out from Lahore on Aug 14. Yet, on Tuesday, the two leaders coordinated their entry into Islamabad’s so-called red zone to perfection — Mr Khan and Mr Qadri taking turns to whip up the crowds they had assembled and alternating playing to the TV cameras. Amidst the sudden bonhomie between the PTI leader and Mr Qadri came the ISPR statement that piled on the pressure on the PML-N government. If such a chain of events in the realm of civil-military relations is still possible in this day and age, some of the responsibility must surely rest on the shoulders of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for time and again mishandling the situation and underestimating his political foes. The latest mistake appears to have come after Imran Khan’s rally to Islamabad failed to gather the kind of support that the government was initially apprehensive about. As scorn and ridicule were heaped on the PTI and Imran Khan found himself isolated, the government again failed to seize the initiative. Rather than urgently and decisively switch the focus to electoral reforms and strengthening of the democratic system, the government seemed more preoccupied with ensuring that Mr Khan’s so-called independence rally ended with minimal damage caused to the government. The government’s mantra of being open to talks within the Constitution with any of its political opponents is almost meaningless at this late stage because the stakes have been raised so high. What was needed was some purposefulness and clarity by the government — instead, it meekly allowed protesters to camp outside parliament. Yet, whatever the flaws in the government’s political strategy, it must not be forgotten — and cannot be stressed enough — that the origins of the latest crisis lie in an unwillingness of certain anti-democratic and also political forces to play by democratic rules. As ever, in seeking to bring down an elected government, the short-term goals have completely overshadowed any consideration of the longer-term impact. It may be Mr Sharif who is in the cross hairs today, but if the PML-N government is brought down in this most perplexing, even obscene, of ways, the floodgates will surely open. On the religious and political right alone are several forces who want nothing less than to reorientate the Pakistani state and society and to have a veto over any system of governance and policy choices that do not fit with their myopic, regressive worldview. Is Pakistan really prepared to hand over state and society to such forces? Surely, the ouster of an elected government now will only embolden the dark forces that stalk this country. From here on, the options are limited, but clear. There may be a push for a national government with a mandate to implement electoral reforms before holding fresh polls. The exact mechanism by which such a national government can come into being is uncertain, but it may be an option the PTI is still eyeing given that it has not formally triggered the resignation process of its MNAs. The more desirable option is even clearer: all democratic forces, inside and outside parliament, must rally to the defence of a system under attack. Democracy is truly a system worth fighting for, till the very end if necessary.
Former President Asif Ali Zardari and Chariman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari met senior party colleagues
http://abbtakk.tv/Former President Asif Ali Zardari has said that PPP is not with the Government, it is with the democracy and state. He said that PPP workers will come forward, if someone tries to capture parliament. According to the details, CEC meeting of PPP was held in Dubai today. Co Chairman Asif Ali Zardari chaired the meeting. Khursheed Shah and Raza Rabbani couldn’t join the meeting due to unavailability of visa. Meeting discusses the current political situation in detail. Talking to meeting, Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari said that PPP will defend democracy and state at all costs. He said that PPP has always been in the front row, when it comes sacrifice. PPP has always been giving blood to democracy and state of Pakistan, whenever it required, he added. He said that it was PPP, which gave 1973 constitution to the Nation. He said that PPP knows how to defend constitution and Democracy.
abbtakk.tvA very important Pakistan Peoples Party meeting ended in Dubai, which showed concern over the current political situation of the country.