Saturday, August 30, 2014
Bunyamin Aygun, an award-winning Turkish photojournalist who was captured by Islamic State (IS) militants last November and held for 40 days, is the first and only journalist held by IS to go public with his ordeal. Aygun’s account, which ran for five days in his newspaper, Milliyet, offers a rare and nuanced glimpse into the murky world of IS. Published in January, the series revealed the heavy presence of Turks in the group and the glaring threat that they pose to their own country. “Turkey is next,” IS fighters, repeatedly told the veteran journalist. But the story received scant attention. In Turkey, a massive corruption scandal implicating Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his close circle held the nation in thrall. The few stories that appeared in Western outlets were short and dry. Aygun had not revealed that his captors were IS at the time. But would it have made much of a difference? Probably not, because Aygun is not a Westerner. He is a Muslim and a Turk. Besides, Mosul had not yet been overrun, nor had all 49 members of the Turkish consulate there been taken hostage by ISIS. And James Foley’s brutal execution had not yet taken place. The public's thirst for information about IS in the aftermath of this barbaric act is seemingly unquenchable. And Aygun’s story is a gold mine. I decided to contact Aygun to hear it firsthand. (I was unable to do so at the time of his release because I was in hospital.) We met on a recent evening in a café facing Gezi Park, where Aygun had shot powerful images of the mass demonstrations that rocked Istanbul the summer before. Aygun is square-jawed and wiry with dark, soulful eyes. “I’ll only be drinking coffee, lots of it,” he announced. Aygun was among the first Turkish journalists to start covering the Syrian conflict when it erupted in mid-2011. “Being Turkish was a real advantage,” he recalls. “The people loved us, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) loved us.” Syria became his regular beat and Aygun would doggedly record the violence and suffering that unfolded before his eyes. Like many journalists, Aygun romanticized the rebels in the early days of the war. “Ordinary people sold everything they owned to keep the revolution going, I believed in it too,” he says. Undaunted by news of journalist kidnappings, Aygun kept going in. On Nov 25. Aygun slipped across the border to report on IS massacres in a string of Turkomen villages. He was seized together with an FSA commander he was planning to interview IS militants near Salkin, a small town facing the Turkish province of Hatay. The early days of Aygun’s captivity were similar to those described by Peter Schrier, an American photojournalist who swapped hands between Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham (a jihadist group mentored by Turkey). Aygun was hooded and blindfolded, his hands and legs bound nearly the entire time. Like Schrier, he was moved from one dank cell to the other. Fighters in black tunics, baggy trousers and matching balaclavas would interrogate him day after day. “Are you Muslim, Sunni, Alevi? Recite a prayer. Give us all your passwords. Who are those women on your Facebook? Do you drink? Who are you working for? Give us some names. What is your real name?” his tormentors would bark. “It went on for so long I could no longer keep track, those 40 days felt like 40 years,” Aygun says. Was he tortured and beaten like the American was? Aygun stiffens and refuses to comment. By Aygun’s own telling, IS has a strong network in Turkey. Perhaps, he fears that they might come after him again. I decide not to ask. His narrative (lasting six hours) resumes. “They forced to take ablutions and pray five times a day. I didn’t really know how, but Heysem Topalca [his fellow hostage and FSA commander] taught me what to do,” he says. It was the only time they would unbind my eyes and hands.” “If you are a Muslim you have nothing to fear, but if you are lying we will kill you,” the militants would warn. On the 17th day of their captivity Aygun and Topalca were separated. Aygun was moved to another safe house, this time full of Turks. “'This is it. They are going to kill me,' I thought.” His depiction of his 12 days there is morbid yet fascinating. It sheds light on the mindset of the IS fighters. It also reflects the complexity of Aygun’s relations with them. Aygun gives his captors a human face: He is aware that this may be upsetting especially for families whose loved ones are still being held by IS. But he has “no agenda” he insists. What of IS atrocities, I ask. “What of American atrocities in Guantanamo, in Iraq?” he responds. “We need to understand the circumstances that led these people to choose this path.” The following is a summary of Aygun’s days with the Turkish brigade. “The fighters were mostly Turks from Turkey and from Germany. Their faces were covered. You could only see their eyes. It was clear from their voices that they were young. Some were university educated. All they did was fight and pray. They said they went into battle praying to be martyred. This is what they lived for, to die as martyrs and to establish an Islamic state in which all citizens would live as the Prophet Muhammad did, to live by the rules of the Book. They asked me if I wanted to become a suicide bomber or go to battle with them. They gave me a Turkish language Quran to read and a book about the jihad. There was no singing, no whistling, no women, no cigarettes. They rained curses on Erdogan, and Davutoglu, saying they were ‘infidels.’ They claimed that if Turkey sealed the border gates that were under IS control they would hit one Turkish village after the other and trigger a civil war inside Turkey. I was told that a qadi [an Islamic jurist] was reviewing my case. One of them said that my slaughter would avenge their brothers who were rotting in Turkish prisons. I was mentally and physically drained.” These scenes were repeated until, as Aygun put it, his “guardian angel” appeared. “It was a cold, dark night. A pair of men entered my cell. One of them sat next to me and began to talk. He said he knew what I was going through. He had fought with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan for 10 years where he had been held and tortured in an American detention facility for six months. I could tell he was older than the others. He told me to call him ‘Dayi’ (the Turkish word for maternal uncle). He said Turkey had strayed from Islam. He would loosen my handcuffs and bring me tea. We chatted normally, he was very kind. He said he was very saddened by my plight because he knew I was a good person and that he had told the others to treat me well. Sure enough they did. One of the fighters brought me honey and bananas. He asked me if I wanted him to erase my Facebook conversations with women. He brought me extra socks so I could keep warm. He even stroked my cheek.” But Aygun’s “good” days were short-lived. “It was around my third day there. Dayi told me that the qadi had ruled in favor of my execution because I was working for a newspaper that was working against the interests of Muslims. He was very upset. Had the decision been left to him he would have pardoned me, he said. To spare me the dishonor of being killed by a firing squad he would cut my throat himself. I was a good Muslim, he said. I was paralyzed with fear. I needed to find a way to be shot dead rather than be beheaded. I would feign to escape; this would do it I thought. ” On the day Aygun was meant to be executed none of his captors showed up, not even to take him for his ablutions for prayers. “Had they left me to starve to death? Had they all died in battle? The silence was unbearable.” The silence was finally broken by a cat. “It was meowing at the door. I wanted nothing more than to be able to touch that cat, to have it at my side. ” Some three days later, the fighters returned. They had been battling a rival militia. “One of the fighters asked me whether I wanted to see Dayi. I said I did. They [took] me to a room where they made their explosives. Dayi was lying on the floor in a pool of blood. I saw his face for the first time. He had a bullet mark on his forehead. He was dead. They asked me if I wanted to smell his blood. The blood of martyrs smells good, they said. I knelt by his side. I smelled his blood and stroked his beard. I was devastated. My only friend was gone. They moved to a new place. Now I would be killed for sure.” Aygun says he owes his survival to the Turkish government. The national spy agency MIT had been working quietly behind the scenes to secure his release. It remains unclear whether IS had been demanding ransom money. In the end Ahrar ash-Sham fighters rescued him from IS and handed him over to the Turkish authorities. But not before staging a trial of their own. Their qadi deemed Aygun to be “innocent.” “When I heard Davutoglu’s voice on the telephone [telling] me that is when I knew I was finally free.” Aygun is back at Milliyet. He has stopped drinking and continues to pray. Three months ago he adopted a cat. “It’s a Siamese,” he says, smiling for the first time. Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/08/turkey-syria-iraq-isis-turkish-journalist-hostage.html##ixzz3BwFJA4iH
The United Nations said here Saturday night that its 40 Philippine peacekeepers trapped by Islamic militants in the Golan Heights had managed to escape. The peacekeepers arrived in a safe location shortly after midnight local time on Sunday, the UN said.
Hundreds of marchers took to the streets in Ferguson, Missouri, on Saturday, local media reported, with protesters calling for justice three weeks after a white police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot the 18-year-old Brown on Aug. 9. The shooting sparked violent protests in the St. Louis suburb and drew global attention to race relations in the United States. For days after the shooting, police and demonstrators in Ferguson clashed nightly, with authorities criticized for mass arrests and the use of military gear, which some observers described as heavy-handed tactics. Organizers on their Facebook page said the march on Saturday was held to protest police killings, brutality, profiling and cover-ups. Marchers began gathering in a restaurant parking lot before walking to the spot where Brown was shot, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. "I came here because I want to be a part of the spirit of the movement," Memphis resident Ian Buchanan, 44, told the newspaper. Authorities have released few details about the shooting. A St. Louis County grand jury has begun hearing evidence and the U.S. Justice Department has opened its own investigation. In differing accounts, police have said Brown struggled with Wilson, who shot and killed him. But some witnesses say Brown held up his hands and was surrendering when he was shot multiple times in the head and chest. The Post-Dispatch also reported on Saturday that a St. Louis County police officer who took part in policing the protests, Dan Page, has retired after 35 years on the force, several days after he was suspended when his department said it would launch a review of a 2012 speech that Page made to the group Oath Keepers in which he made pointed remarks about President Barack Obama, the U.S. Supreme Court and Muslims, among others. In a video of the speech posted online, Page, an Army veteran, said that he had killed in the past and would kill again if necessary. Oath Keepers describes itself as a non-partisan group devoted to defending the Constitution and says its members pledge to not obey unconstitutional orders. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights group, tracks the group on its Hatewatch blog. A spokesman for St. Louis County Police did not immediately return a call and email for comment on Saturday. Meanwhile, The Dayton Daily News reported several hundred people showed up in a rally outside of a Walmart in Beavercreek, Ohio, on Saturday to urge release of a surveillance video from early this month of police shooting John Crawford III, who was holding a BB gun inside the store.
Just because the President wore a suit that wasn't a shade of gray or blue doesn't mean you should have a problem with it.Let’s make this much clear: there is nothing wrong, wild or crazy about a tan suit. This may come as a shock to those who expressed outrage at President Obama’s choice of attire yesterday, but not all suits come in a shade of gray or navy. In fact, as colors outside of those two go, tan is rather plain and simple. As for the suit itself, the lapels are in their typical three-inch range, it’s not tailored any better than his other suits (at least from the navel up) and the American flag pin is in its usual location. The tan suit is just another suit that happens to be a slightly different color than the ones he normally wears. It was, in no way, a fashion statement. Here is a brief list of fashion choices that would have been “bold” or “wack-ass” that the President could have made yesterday: T-shirt with suit and sleeves rolled up (aka the “Miami Vice“). Whatever Austin Mahone was wearing at the VMAs. Crocs. But the President did not wear any of those things. Nor did he wear a three-piece suit, a seersucker suit or a white suit. Hell, he didn’t even opt for the Reagan mullet suit (business on the top, lounging on the bottom). Perhaps the only curious thing about Obama’s suit selection was its timing. Not the fact that he wore it during the summer time (that’s when you should be wearing a tan suit, if at any time), but that he wore it while discussing crucial issues of foreign policy with the press. It was a somber occasion, and there’s apparently a certain expectation of precisely how the President’s attire should match the mood. It’s tough to argue with that point. When discussing serious matters, there’s no reason not to be dressed accordingly. (Though one could hardly be forgiven for wondering why those criticizing Obama for discussing serious matters in improper attire are focused on that attire rather than the issues they’ve deemed so serious.) The larger problem lies in the expectations that Obama had previously created. In this 2012 Vanity Fair profile, Michael Lewis quotes Obama saying the following: “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits… I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” So for the last six years, that’s pretty much all we’ve seen him in. Gray or blue, charcoal or navy, day after day after day until seeing him out of that particular uniform (other than athletic attire) became tantamount to seeing a performer out of costume. The irony is that the President is often criticized for being bland, even in his fashion choices. To be frank, after yesterday’s outcry, who can blame him? Next time you or anyone asks the Commander-in-Chief for a little personality or originality, don’t be surprised if this is cited as a reason for declining that request. The choice in tie, on the other hand, that’s a little more difficult to defend…
ISIS, which calls itself the Islamic State, was previously referred to as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.At least three Iraqi soldiers were killed Saturday in a suicide car bombing south of Iraq's capital, police said, dealing a blow to the military in that area for a second straight day as government forces fight ISIS militants across the country. Seven other soldiers were injured in the attack, which happened at an army checkpoint in Yousifiya, a predominantly Sunni Muslim area about 35 kilometers (22 miles) south of Baghdad, police in Baghdad said. It wasn't immediately clear who conducted the bombing. The blast came a day after nine Iraqi soldiers and Shiite Muslim militiamen were killed in clashes with suspected ISIS militants in nearby Mahmoudiya, a Sunni Muslim community about 29 kilometers south of Baghdad. During the height of Iraq's insurgency last decade following a U.S.-led invasion, Yousifiya and Mahmoudiya, along with the town of Latifiya, made up the Sunni area known as the "Triangle of Death" because it was an al Qaeda stronghold and a lair for criminals. Iraqi forces under a Shiite-led regime, as well as ethnic Kurdish forces, have been battling ISIS, a Sunni Muslim extremist and terrorist group that this year took over large portions of northern and western Iraq and eastern Syria for what it calls its new caliphate. Well before ISIS made gains, Iraq was beset for years by sectarian violence, with Sunnis feeling politically marginalized under a Shiite-led government since the U.S.-led ouster of longtime leader Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Ex-President and Co-chairman Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Asif Ali Zardari had issued a statement from Beijing today that the issue would have been resolved if Imran Khan had not submitted to Iftikhar Chaudhry in the Supreme Court on August 28, 2013. Asif Zardari once again advised all the political parties to resolve the matter through dialogue.
Only in Pakistan can this circus of the absurd unfold like this. Everybody knew that the elephant in the room was the so-called ‘Umpire’. The government called it in for its protection; Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri kept mentioning it openly; the media and political gurus wondered what role it was playing and how it would ultimately settle the issue. Yet when the Umpire finally intervened everybody seems confused asking who the hell invited them for help. Interestingly, politicians got busy blaming each other for inviting the khakis but did not tell us what they might do now; will it resolve the ongoing political crisis? What did they exactly tell Imran and Qadri? And what if they refuse to heed their advice? It was like discussing the tail, not the elephant. It made sense for the PML (N) to explain to Parliament what exactly transpired between the army and the government. After all, the biggest factor that saved the PML (N) government was the support of almost all political parties against the PAT/PTI combo. The National Assembly fumed over the media commentary that gave the impression that the PML (N) had bypassed Parliament and asked the army for an extra-constitutional mediation role. It seemed like submission and failure of Parliament before a few thousand dharna-wallas. Nisar made his usual 60-minute ‘brief’ speech, which actually caused lots of confusion. Nawaz Sharif had to pass on a chit that, we assumed, was a request to cut it out. The crux of Nisar’s speech was that the government (PM) in his meeting with army (chief) found it legally correct to request their role as facilitator for a possible resolution of the problem. This was after repeated calls by the PTI and PAT for the army intervention. Later, he got a call from an army officer asking for government permission while he was with the Prime Minister who approved the idea of the army facilitation. Now semantics was important as facilitation is within the purview of the law while army’s role as mediator or guarantor was not. PPP’s Khursheed Shah perhaps made the speech of his life defending democracy and Parliament. His punch line was: let them burn the Secretariat, the PM House, the Parliament House and the whole Islamabad but we shall not let them burn the Constitution. Mahmood Khan Achakzai would not let he government go scot-free by protesting why the government didn’t clarify its role for 12 hours: You kept us in pain for so long for which you might need to fire a minister. This prompted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to reiterate Nisar’s version, saying,” I can sacrifice a government ten times but not the principle”. The PM endorsed Nisar’s version. Perhaps Nawaz Sharif should have explained the details of how and when he asked the army to be a facilitator, particularly when Nisar has a bad habit of losing meaning in translation. One can’t blame the ISPR for clarifying the exact situation. Now, we are not sure whether the ISPR wanted to emphasise the Army’s role as facilitator, as opposed to guarantor or mediator, or it wanted to explain that the request came from the prime minister. Nisar further blundered by claiming that the ISPR had issued its Press release on his advice, which a channel denied quoting sources. Nisar’s second version had not arrived till the filing of the report. The absurdity continued as Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri did not take the hint to pack up, if at all they were given. Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri kept telling us what they had told the General. I am more interested in knowing what the General told them. We got a hint of that from Imran’s speech delivered on Thursday night that he had asked politicians to resolve their issue. My guess is that they must have also informed the PAT/PTI duo not to cross a limit where the soldiers had to stop them physically. If the assumption is true this means the agitators may have lost their claws. No more threat from the kaffan-clad grave-diggers to storm Parliament or the secretariat. We don’t know how it will conclude but we know that the option of orchestrated violence has lessened. And if the agitators still resorted to that we know who would be blamed. This also showed that the Umpire was not siding with the agitators as many of us suspected. Either somebody bluffed Imran Khan into believing that he had the support of the khakis or he bluffed with all of us. We got a hint of it when Sheikh Rasheed retired to his Lal Haveli and found Jahangir Tareen making extra effort to fake a smile - not to forget Javed Hashmi’s departure to Multan. Anyway, the cards are open but we have to see how this game of nerves unfolds further. All we can say is that Imran Khan and company, particularly Sheikh Rasheed, might need helmets next time they come to Parliament. The old guard at the Parliament was furious how the institutions were being undermined by inviting the army openly. They had no issue with Imran Khan criticising Nawaz Sharif who may have left a trail of lapses in one year. But to call the whole Parliament corrupt and rigged was an offence that left many old-timers fuming. But then it is not just Parliament that has been called corrupt. He has used similar words for the Supreme Court, the Election Commission, the media and whatever and whoever came in between. Being pro-Parliament and pro-democracy does not make you anti-PTI. But then King Khan has developed a habit of pronouncing everybody corrupt without presenting evidence. And then Imran had the audacity to claim that he knows how Westminster democracy functions. For all we know he would better fit in a monarchy where Khan is the King.
For much of Pakistan's independent existence, the country's politics have been dominated by its powerful military. The generals have a long history of interrupting and meddling with civilian rule. The election last year of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif marked the first time in almost seven decades that Pakistan was able to carry out a peaceful transfer of power between civilian governments. But the specter of the army now looms large once more. In order to placate heated protests against his rule, Sharif agreed this week to mediation by the army, an institution that is respected by a vast cross-section of society. Pakistan's army chief, Raheel Sharif (who is not related to the prime minister), conducted meetings with the two main protest leaders--the maverick politician Imran Khan and fiery preacher Tahirul Qadri, both of whom have led noisy protest movements this past month and are seeking the collapse of Sharif's government. But, in return for its intervention, it appears the military has exacted a price from Prime Minister Sharif. According to reports, he has agreed to cede control of aspects of the country's security and foreign policy to the military. It's a difficult situation for Sharif: In 1999, then in his second term as prime minister, he was ousted by a military coup led by then Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Now, the military, in a sense, is once more showing the prime minister who is boss. "If Nawaz Sharif survives, for the rest of his term, he will be a ceremonial prime minister—the world will not take him seriously," said Ayesha Siddiqa, an Islamabad-based analyst told the Wall Street Journal. "A soft coup has already taken place. The question is whether it will harden." Since returning to power last year, Sharif's efforts to both punish Musharraf -- who currently awaits trial -- and entrench civilian power have angered members of the top brass. Sharif also sought to improve ties with India. The Pakistani military, a sprawling institution with its own business concerns and a half a million-strong standing army, finds something of a raison d'etre in its historic rivalry with India. The countries have fought four wars since their independence from Britain in 1947. "If Pakistan and India become normal neighbors," writes Pakistani analyst Mosharraf Zaidi, "the military's influence in Pakistan automatically decreases. The hawks clearly won't go easily."
Grave financial irregularities, undue favouritism, misuse of official authority and corruption to the tune of billions of rupees have surfaced in the Punjab government’s laptop scheme launched in their previous term, Pakistan Today has learnt.
Note 1(a) below Rule 8 of the Punjab Delegation of Financial Powers Rules, 2006 requires that no expenditure shall be incurred on a scheme unless necessary provision for such expenditure exists in the development budget or the non-development budget of that year, as the case may be. UNLAWFUL EXPENDITURE DAMAGE¬ RS 29M: However, the records show that an amount of more than Rs 1 million was incurred on distribution ceremony held in Islamabad for distribution of laptops in Islamabad to the students of other provinces without any provision in revised PC-I. These expenses were borne by various educational boards including Bannu, Kohat, Peshawar, Karachi, Mardan, Protocol DG and Rawalpindi DCO without any authorisation. Moreover, the expenses incurred during the laptop distribution ceremony across Punjab was more than Rs 28million, all borne by various educational institutions such as PU, GCU, FJWU, AIMC, University of Education, University of Sargodha and Kinnaird College. The expenditure was held “unauthorized” and without specific budgetary provisions in PC-1. Further, in case of Punjab University, it was made from the budget of City District Government Lahore (CDGL) and in other cases, it was charged from the budgets of the respective institutions which were not “valid” expenditure from public exchequer. Further, no competitive bidding process was adopted by the management of the respective institutions while making expenditure for respective ceremonies in violation of Punjab Procurement Rules, 2009. “PLANNING FLAWS, POLITICAL MOTIVES IN LAPTOPS DISTRIBUTION” Other than explicit violations of the contract which caused heavy losses in millions of rupees the team of auditors also found serious planning flaws in the execution of the laptop distribution scheme. Documents reveal that there was no feasibility study at hand while planning the execution of this program. The project digest should consider Key Performance Indicators (KPI) which should not be “vague”. However, observations made by a special team of auditors show only one of the nine performance indicators was specific i.e. to reduce the digital divide between the rich and the poor. Authorities termed the planners “non-professional” and “inefficient”. The team further observed that no experts were consulted for the planning process, which was totally done in “isolation” initially in the School Education Department and then in the HED. It was noticed that merit was declared as 60 percent and 70 percent throughout the province despite the fact that in certain institute everyone became eligible for this scheme. This way, the promotion of merit through competition could not be initiated among students and hence the government claim to ensure merit was false. NO ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA – RS 170M DAMAGE CAUSED: Moreover, during physical verification of laptops, test review of data of 18 educational institutions revealed that around 450 laptops were issued to the students without observing “eligibility” criteria. The fact points to the real motive of the PML-N leadership which wanted to woo the youth before the upcoming elections. Further, examination of 17 institutions show that around 5,000 laptops were purchased more than required and hence blocking and wasting around Rs 170 million of public money. “HED TRYING TO HUSH-UP THE MATTER” According to officials privy to the corruption which has taken place told Pakistan Today that the audit objections have been conveyed to the HED and its officials have already held meetings of the departmental audit committee (SDAC) headed by Additional Secretary Shahid Zaman Khan. As per routine practice, these objections are taken up in the SDAC with officials from finance, audit and the higher education and only remaining objections are then forwarded to the public accounts committee (PAC) of the Punjab Assembly. Officials however maintained that the officials have been tasked to “hush up the matter”. “They are very powerful people. It actually needs a lot of courage to highlight their corruption. Even government servants cannot risk their careers by writing against them. The task has been given to the officials to take care of the matter and it will be done efficiently,” the official on the condition of anonymity told Pakistan Today. According to the officials in the Finance Department’s monitoring wing, the HED officials have kept the documents to themselves. “They only show us the files at the time of the meeting and then keep it. So we don’t really remember any details,” an official said. NO COMMENTS: HED Secretary Abdullah Sumbal was repeatedly contacted for his comments and he texted that he was out of country and should be contacted after August. HED Additional Secretary Shahid Zaman Khan, who is heading the departmental audit of the scheme, initially asked for a few days’ time to respond to the audit observations. However, later he refused to comment on the issue. Punjab Education Minister Rana Mashood was also contacted but his private secretary said he was “not feeling well” and will respond “soon”, but he never did. Former higher education secretary Dr Ijaz Munir, who is currently holding the portfolio of health, was also not available for comments. M/S Inbox Business Technologies, a Karachi based company, was also contacted at its Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad offices for comments, however no one came forward to give any version on the issue. According to the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan record, M/S Inbox CEO Ghiasuddin Khan is from Karachi.
EVENTS seemingly had degenerated into a dirge for democracy, but in a political crisis that is as confounding as it is severe, the events of Thursday night were quickly overtaken by developments on Friday. On Thursday, it had appeared that a political crisis in which certain institutional forces had long stayed on in the shadows had reached a predictable denouement with the army leadership once again taking centre stage — a move ostensibly authorised by the PML-N government under duress. But then yesterday an equally confounding — though perhaps not entirely unpredictable — blame game began between politicians, with the government and its political opponents both suggesting that it was the other camp that had dragged the military centre stage. Meanwhile, the army leadership happily lapped up the attention and focus, with statements attributed to the military leadership suggesting that it was only doing what had been asked of it by the political leadership of the country and was playing as neutral a role as possible. In the continuing flux that has become national politics in recent weeks, there are certain things that are already obvious. For one, the army has — whether because of serendipity or by design — already re-established for itself a position of political pre-eminence that the transition to democracy was supposed to have consigned to history. Whatever the army leadership may claim through its selective statements, it is simply the case that it has once again assumed the role of referee, umpire or final arbiter over the political process by steadfastly refusing to choose sides — when one side clearly had the law and Constitution in its favour and the other side was agitating for the kind of politics and system that the country had collectively rejected in recent years. That so-called neutrality of the army leadership involved essentially saying that the democratic, parliamentary, legal and constitutional legitimacy of an elected government was at par with the rabble-rousing skills of Tahirul Qadri and near-demagoguery of Imran Khan. It should not have been this way — but the fact that events have come to such a pass indicate how against the democratic spirit and unwilling to accede to civilian control certain unelected, powerful institutions of the state are. Unhappily, there are many failings among the democrats too. Rewind to Thursday when the country had seemingly regressed several decades in its political evolution. To involve the army chief as mediator in a national political crisis was capitulation of the highest order — and for that the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will have to shoulder a significant burden of the blame. Consider that when the transition to democracy began with the February 2008 elections and gained momentum with the ouster of then-president Pervez Musharraf in August 2008, the country had embarked on the most tentative of journeys towards the democratic idyll. Five years on, in May 2013, after several major crises, a corner had seemingly been turned — the country had its first ever peaceful, on-schedule, democratic transition of power between one elected government and the next. At that point, a heavy burden sat on the shoulders of Prime Minister Sharif: he was the chief custodian of the democratic process for the next five years. The problem was that Mr Sharif quickly and unprovoked made several choices that put great strain on the democratic transition — a strain that Mr Sharif then seemed incapable of dealing with or mitigating. The hastiness of Mr Sharif combined with his inability to stay in control of events helped bring events to the present pass. The alternative was not to do nothing at all. Surely though given a five-year old democratic transition and a five-year term ahead of him, Mr Sharif could have picked his priorities and battles differently. Even during the build-up to the present crisis, a prime minister who seemed content to lead from behind added to the perception of a threat to the system — and almost certainly gave the prime minister’s opponents and anti-government protesters hope. Now, yet again, the country is at a pass where confusion and clarity seemingly coexist. What is clear is that whatever democratic credentials Imran Khan and the PTI had and whatever credibility Tahirul Qadri and his supporters had have disappeared. To so gleefully accept the direct involvement of the army in a political crisis, as Mr Khan and Mr Qadri have, is to destroy the last vestiges of democratic legitimacy and institutional good sense. While the never-ending crisis appears to have some more time to run yet, because of the government’s inept handling of the affair the political domain will continue to feel the effects of the military’s role, whether as ‘facilitator’ or ‘arbiter’, for at least the foreseeable future.
shiapost.comAnother Shia Muslim has been shot martyred by takfiri terrorist of Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP) in central district of Karachi where many Shiites have already embraced martyrdom due to targeted attacks by takfiri terrorists. Ghulam Baqar, a Shia Muslim, was critically wounded due to takfiri terrorist attack in Liaquatabad. He was first taken to a government hospital and then shifted to a private hospital for treatment. Shia parties and leaders have condemned the attack on an innocent Shiite in Karachi. They demanded immediate action against the terrorists.
http://www.abna.ir/Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Patron-In-Chief, Pakistan Peoples Party has condemned the killing of Dr Aun Naseem Jafri, Information Secretary of PPP District East, Karachi in Korangi area at the hands of terrorists on 28th August. In a statement issued here, the PPP Patron-In-Chief said terrorism are the real crisis for the patriotic people of Pakistan, which has so far gulped the lives of around 50,000 innocent citizens and soldiers of the country. He said killing of Dr Aun Jafri and other innocent citizens and policemen in Karachi needs the attention of Federal and Provincial governments together with all the political parties and civil society to concentrate and contribute towards the elimination of this monster of terrorism to protect the people and Pakistan. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari expressed grief and sorrow over the killing of PPP leader Dr Aun Jafri and eulogised his services for the Party during its struggle for democracy and the rights of the people. He prayed to Almighty Allah to rest the departed soul in eternal peace and grant courage and fortitude to the members of bereaved family to bear this irreparable loss.
Former President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari has said that only negotiations will solve the ongoing political crisis in the country. Asif Ali Zardari, in a statement, said that he would still urge all the parties to solve their issues via dialogue. Meeting with the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last week, Zardari urged the premier to not resign from office and solve the political issues via dialogue.