Monday, September 1, 2014
US military forces carried out an operation on Monday against al-Shabaab militants in Somalia, a US Department of Defense spokesman said. "We are assessing the results of the operation and will provide additional information as and when appropriate," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement. No further details about the operation in the African country were immediately available. Al-Shabaab is an Islamist group affiliated with al-Qaida that wants to impose its own strict version of Islam in Somalia. It ruled most of the southern region of Somalia from 2006 until 2011, when African peacekeeping troops marched into the capital, Mogadishu. African and Somali forces have regained several towns this year, but rebels still hold other centers and tracts of countryside. On Saturday, the US also carried out air strikes against Islamic State fighters near the besieged Shi'ite town of Amerli in northern Iraq and airdropped humanitarian aid to civilians trapped there, the Pentagon said. President Barack Obama authorized the new military action, broadening US operations in Iraq amid an international outcry over the threat to Amerli's mostly ethnic Turkmen population. Aid was delivered by US aircraft as well as planes from Britain, France and Australia, signaling headway in Obama's efforts to draw allies into the fight against Islamic State. Iraqi army and Kurdish forces closed in on Islamic State fighters on Saturday in a push to break the Sunni militants' siege of Amerli, which has been surrounded by the militants for more than two months. Armed residents of Amerli have managed to fend off attacks by the Islamic State fighters, who regard its majority Shi'ite Turkmen population as apostates. More than 15,000 people remain trapped inside. "At the request of the government of Iraq, the United States military today airdropped humanitarian aid to the town of Amerli, home to thousands of Shia Turkmen who have been cut off from receiving food, water, and medical supplies for two months by ISIL," Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said, using an alternative name for Islamic State. "In conjunction with this airdrop, US aircraft conducted coordinated air strikes against nearby ISIL terrorists in order to support this humanitarian assistance operation," he said, adding that a key objective was to prevent a militant attack on civilians in the town. He said the operations would be "limited in their scope and duration" as required to protect Amerli's population. When Obama ordered the first air strikes and air drops in Iraq earlier this month, he justified the military operation in part to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe for thousands of ethnic Yazidis trapped by Islamic State militants on Sinjar mountain in northern Iraq. In mid-August, he declared that the militant siege there had been broken.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli have launched the construction of the first part of Gazprom’s Power of Siberia pipeline - which will deliver 4 trillion cubic meters of gas to China over 30 years.The 3,968 km pipeline linking gas fields in eastern Siberia to China will be the world's largest fuel network in the world. Both Putin and Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli have called the project the world’s largest construction project, as investment from both countries will be more than $70 billion. “The gas pipeline ‘Power of Siberia’ will increase energy security and ensure Russia’s ability to fulfill export obligations,” Putin said in the opening remarks. Starting in 2019, Power of Siberia will pump gas from Siberia to China’s populous northeast region as well as to Russia’s Far East. The Chinese side will start the construction of its part of the pipeline in the first half of 2015, the Vice Premier of China said. Last year, China consumed about 170 billion cubic meters of natural gas and expects to consume 420 billion cubic meters per year by 2020. Europe still remains Russia’s largest energy market, buying more than 160 billion meters of Russian natural gas in 2013. “Once we create a gas pipeline network here in the Far East and Siberia, we will be able to connect European pipeline system to the East. And this, in terms of export opportunities and expanding Russia’s ‘gasification’, is very beneficial. Depending on the situation in world markets, we can more effectively implement gas flows- either more to the West or to the East,” Putin told students at North-Eastern Federal University earlier on Monday. Running from the Chayanda gas field in the Republic of Yakutia, the cost of construction is estimated at more than $20 billion (770 billion rubles), which includes other investment in the region of $7.5 billion (283 billion rubles). Russia’s largest steel pipeline manufacturer, TMK, will provide materials for the project. The gas pipeline will become a common transit center for gas production centers in the Yakutia and Irkutsk regions. The first stage of the project will be to transport gas from the Chayanda deposit in Yakutia and connect to the town of Blagoveshchensk on the Chinese border. The 968 km pipeline should be completed by 2018. The Chayanda field, which will begin production in 2015, is estimated to have reserves of 1.2 trillion cubic meters in gas and 93 million tons of liquid hydrocarbons. Each year the field is expected to produce up to 25 billion cubic meters of gas and at least 1.5 million tons of oil. Putin also said that China can become a shareholder in the Vankor oil and gas fields in the Krasnoyarsk region in Eastern Siberia. China will enter into a strategic relationship with Rosneft, Russia's largest oil company, which owns the field. The area is estimated to hold reserves of 520 million metric tons of oil and 95 billion cubic meters of natural gas. It has been in operation since 2009 and last year produced 21.4 million tons of oil and oil condensate. “We generally take a very careful approach to the approval of our foreign partners, but of course, for our Chinese friends there are no restrictions,” Putin said. In May, Russia's state-run Gazprom signed a 30-year gas deal with China’s CNPC valued at $400 billion.
The electoral team of Dr. Abdullah Abdullah has once again warned to boycott the ballots audit and invalidation process along with negotiations to form national unity government, if their demands are not met by the election commission.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) President Javed Hashmi's startling claims of a scripted political crisis being engineered in Pakistan has led to widespread speculation among analysts that a version of the 'Bangladesh Model' may be in the works.
"Imran had told the PTI core committee it won't be called a martial law," Hashmi alleged at a press conference, hinting at a covert form of takeover by the military establishment, using PTI Chairman Imran Khan and Chief of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek Tahir-ul-Qadri as their instruments.
The 'Bangladesh Model', a soft coup, is based on the idea that the political system must be cleansed of corrupt elements for the welfare of the public, which perhaps has been left incapacitated to elect honest leaders.
The model works on the premise that the military and judiciary must intervene to help differentiate the 'right' from the 'wrong' before it is too late. The model stipulates that the democracy that follows such a 'cleansing' is therefore a truer form since the people have been rightly 'guided' and are now able to make informed decisions.Technocrats, current and former officials aligned with the military and judiciary play a vital role in the implementation of the 'Bangladesh Model' of which the strings are pulled from the background and through an interim government that remains in power for a lengthy period as happened in Bangladesh in 2007. "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 on Saturday. "A soft coup has already taken place. The question is whether it will harden." Reacting to the drama in Islamabad, the International Crisis Group (ICG) had also warned last week that the possibilities of a coup were very high and that such a development "would imperil any progress that has been made in addressing grievous economic, development and security challenges." "The protests rocking Islamabad threaten to upend the constitutional order, set back rule of law and open the possibility of a soft coup, with the military ruling through the backdoor," the ICG said in its statement. According to the PTI president Hashmi, a script for such a move was laid out well in advance. "When Imran laid out the plan, I said to Imran, 'Khan sahab what are you doing?'" "He said, 'I am telling you there will be elections in September and everything has been worked out.'" In January this year, the Washington Post cited Pakistan as 'high risk' on a list of countries likely to face coup attempts.
The ongoing political crisis in Pakistan is hurting the country's economy. The nuclear-armed nation's powerful army is concerned, and so is the West. A greater turmoil could become unmanageable for everyone.Not many people in Pakistan expected the anti-government protests to last this long: 19 days and counting. The protesters, who claim that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came to power through rigged elections, have one key demand: the premier must resign from his post. Sharif and his ministers had hoped the demonstrations would die down, or that the opposition leaders – cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and Pakistani-Canadian Sunni cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri – would eventually compromise and end the sit-in outside the parliament building in the capital Islamabad. None of that happened. The protests turned violent, the Islamic Republic's powerful military chief, Raheel Sharif, stepped in as a mediator, and a number of other political groups joined Khan and Qadri in demanding Sharif's ouster. Experts fear that things are getting out of control in the country. Hundreds of protesters briefly seized the state broadcaster, Pakistan Television (PTV), on Monday, thus intensifying the political crisis. The army was called in to disperse the violent demonstrators. The security forces managed to regain control of the PTV building after few hours. Over the weekend, Pakistani police clashed with thousands of demonstrators marching on the official residence of the prime minister. At least three people were killed and hundreds wounded when the police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at Khan's and Qadri's supporters. The ongoing violence prompted the top generals of the nuclear-armed state to hold an emergency meeting on Sunday, August 31. The army – which has directly ruled the nation for more than three decades collectively – voiced support for democracy, but also "expressed concern." Pakistani military – back in charge But many people in the country think the army's "concern" is part of the script that the generals have written themselves. Pro-democracy activists believe Khan and Qadri have the full backing of the army, which is wary of Sharif's cordial moves towards the country's regional arch-rival India. The PM and the army are also not on the same page over the Islamic Republic's Afghanistan policy, nor on the future of Pervez Musharraf, former military chief and ex-president, who is currently detained. The military, which has been in control of the country for most of its recent history, enjoyed limited power during the five years former President Asif Ali Zardari was in office. The generals fear that if Sharif remains in power, they may further loose grip on the country's defense and foreign policy. But the protests against the incumbent government, which came into power after winning a landslide victory in the May 2013 general elections, have put the army back in the driving seat. "It seems that history is repeating itself in Pakistan," Siegfried O' Wolf, a South Asia expert at Heidelberg University, told DW. "There is a possibility that the military could once again use the so-called 'doctrine of necessity' to intervene in the political process. However, this does not mean there will be a direct takeover, but the army will definitely curtail the civilian government's decision-making power," he added. Arshad Mahmood, an Islamabad-based social activist, is critical of the army's role in the conflict. "It is the military's constitutional responsibility to support the elected government. The statement that the generals issued after Sunday's meeting encouraged the protesters. I think the army definitely wants big changes in the government, if not a coup." Ali K. Chishti, a security analyst in Karachi, also thinks the chances of a direct military coup are quite low: "The military does not like PM Sharif and his government's attempts to assert the civilian authority, but at the same time it is skeptical of both Khan and Qadri and their leadership skills. So, will the military topple the government? I think it will find a middle way," the expert told DW. But some say the military has already cut Sharif down to his size. Abdul Agha, an Islamabad-based analyst, told DW that "I would call it a symbolic coup," adding that the military did not need to intervene directly now. Is it up to Sharif now? The pressure is on the prime minister now. The political impasse is hurting the country's already weak economy. Should the PM resign to end the crisis and let an interim government hold fresh elections? "Nawaz Sharif is head of an elected government. An extra-constitutional and enforced resignation would have an extremely negative impact on the future of democracy in Pakistan," O' Wolf said. Chishti says no one in Pakistan resigns voluntarily. "PM Sharif remains adamant that he won't stand down, and from what I know of him, it would really be an extraordinary situation that would force him to leave office."
But activists like Mahmood believe that Sharif should hold his ground and not surrender to the opposition's blackmailing. "If he is forcefully removed, the world will see how the popular mandate of an elected government was violated by a handful of people."
West is concernedWestern nations have been cautiously watching the crisis in the Islamic state. They have so far not directly commented on the turmoil. But to say that they are not concerned about the future of an unstable nuclear-armed Islamic state would be naïve. Islamist groups, including the Taliban and al Qaeda, have been weakened after a decade-long western operation in neighboring Afghanistan, but the militants are still strong in Pakistan and have safe havens in the country's semi-governed northwestern areas. A bigger chaos in the country could become unmanageable not only for the Pakistani state but also for the international community. "European governments would most likely not intervene in Pakistan's domestic political issues, however, the difficulties in the context of the US-Afghan bilateral security agreement might force Washington to draw decisive attention on the happenings in Islamabad," believes O' Wolf.
"Imran Khan has no respect for constitution, accepts it when it fits his agenda" - HashmiPresident Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Javed Hashmi has said that Imran Khan has come on an agenda to Islamabad. “Imran Khan told us, ‘they’ say move forward with Tahirul Qadri”, said Javed Hashmi. "Imran Khan said we cannot move forward without Army", Hashmi said. "He told us that he has settled all the matters, there will be elections in September", Hashmi told.
Dunya News-Imran Khan said we cannot move... by dunyanews In a shocking press conference in Islamabad today (Monday), Javed Hashmi said that Imran Khan lied when he said that only Javed Hashmi disapproved marching towards Prime Minister House. He said that entire core committee of the party had asked Imran not to move forward. "When Imran Khan shared his plan with us, he said that a judge of our choice is coming in Supreme court", said Hashmi. He said that Imran Khan maligned the Supreme Court. “Supreme Court will expel Nawaz sharif and Shahbaz Sharif, Imran had said”, Hashmi said. “Resignations were taken from MNAs by force”, Hashmi revealed. “I am in none of the parties right now. I am with the people of Pakistan”, he said. He warned, “Imran Khan! Do not use short cut”. Hashmi said that he was still the President of the party. He said that Imran Khan did not follow the process laid down in the PTI’s constitution to oust him from the party. “I wish Imran Khan reads PTI constitution”, said Hashmi. “Power of gun was accepted instead of votes in the country”, Javed Hashmi said. He said, “Imran Khan had promised that he would never support Martial Law”. Javed Hashmi told that Imran Khan wanted to move forward along with Tahirul Qadri. "I told him we were being hijacked by someone else", said Hashmi. He said that Imran Khan had come to Islamabad on an agenda. "I am with people of Pakistan for protection of constitution, I am not with any politician, they all are same." Javed Hashmi said. "I am standing outside this Parliament House and I will not move inside", said Hashmi. Hashmi said that none of the demands were unconstitutional and Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif should have resigned after Model Town incident. He said that he has clarified everything before the nation and now it was up to the nation to decide.
The federal government has registered treason case Monday against PTI and PAT leaders Imran Khan and Dr Tahirul Qadri. The case was lodged at Pak Secretariat Police station. Several sections and clauses including section 124-A pertaining to treason have been included in the FIR. Both Khan and Qadri were also accused of incitement to violence, attempted murder, robbery and interfering in the affairs of the state. Sheikh Rasheed and other leaders are also nominated in the case.
Having survived a tumultuous, disastrous weekend, the PML-N government somehow still has the opportunity to try and salvage the situation and save the democratic system from collapse.Whether it will be able to do so will in large part depend on whether Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is willing to lead from the front and act decisively and quickly. There are at least two things Mr Sharif needs to do: rally the democratic forces in the country to save the democratic system; and approach Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri to bring them back to the negotiating table. In calling a joint session of parliament for Tuesday, the PML-N will be hoping to once again demonstrate that the political class is emphatically and solidly on the side of democracy – and that the unconstitutional and unjust demands of the anti-government protesters should not be given in to. While the mainstream political parties in the country are largely in agreement with the government on the need to protect the democratic system, there is a great deal of unease at the PML-N’s continuing mishandling of the political crisis. Rather than grab the initiative and control the evolving political narrative, the PML-N strategy is a defensive one: the government continues to insist it is open to talks with the PTI and Mr Qadri but, especially when the possibility of a negotiated settlement recedes, seems far too comfortable relying on heavy-handed tactics by the law-enforcement agencies to repel street pressure. Right or wrong, the time has passed when the PML-N could escape the present situation without making any concessions. The PML-N will now have to make some big concessions – so why not approach the PTI and Mr Qadri with the big concessions that could entice them back to the negotiating table? Despite their maximalist positions, both Mr Khan and Mr Qadri surely have various pressures that may make them amenable to a negotiated exit. As the falling out between Mr Khan and PTI president Javed Hashmi yesterday demonstrated, Mr Khan cannot simply keep increasing the pressure on the government in any way possible without experiencing some kind of backlash from his base. As if to underline that the PML-N leadership can and should do better, the army leadership put out a statement late last evening deploring the violence that occurred over the weekend and encouraging the government to seek a negotiated settlement. If anything, it indicates that the army leadership is willing to give the prime minister a little more time before imposing a solution of its own. Perhaps what the prime minister and his team need to absorb is that the country has witnessed scenes far worse than what occurred on Saturday and yet seasoned and mature politicians have eventually found a way to resolve many past political crises. Where there’s a will there’s usually a way.
The operation in Turbat that led to the death of twelve militants and one member of the FC Corps poses a plethora of questions regarding the stability of the region. Which group did these militants belong to? Did they have anything to do with the attack on the office of the Online News Agency? How much control did they have in Gomazi, the area in which they were found? Pockets of militancy are spread out over all of Balochistan, and their presence, coupled with the armed forces, the tribes and the separatists makes the entire province more volatile than most other areas in Pakistan. Twelve militants is no small number, and the three hours that it took to end the operation means that it was no walk in the park. Khan Wasay, the spokesperson for the FC Corps, also stated that a huge cache of arms and ammunition was recovered from the militants, although this could not be confirmed by any independent sources. The lack of information that comes out of Balochistan makes every instance such as this very murky, and the armed forces are hardly the most reliable source of information when Balochistan, or even North Waziristan, is concerned. Given the presence of the security forces, their neglect of the voice of Balochis and their treatment of all those they consider to be dissenters, any operation that fails to specify who was targeted leaves a lot of room for skepticism. Has Balochistan become a police state? Political activists, journalists, students and professors have all been killed time and again for dubious reasons. It has become a narrative that we have just started accepting, that there were X or Y number of deaths and all of these death were of militants. With the government as an idle bystander, if not an active participant in most cases, the people of Balochistan are bereft of any hope of justice.
http://www.nation.com.pk/assets/thenation/images/client/logo.pngPTI and PAT protestors attacked and took over the Pakistan Television office today in Islamabad. Roughly two thousand anti-government protesters stormed the state television’s building and held the staff hostage. According to details, army has also been called in to control the situation. Pakistan Army and Rangers have reached the spot. They also forced the staff to shut down PTV's transmission, before they started clashing with the police. The protestors also attacked the Pakistan Secretariat and the cars in front of the PM House. On the arrival of the Pakistan Army and Rangers, the attackers started escaping the building. According to latest reports PTV's live transmission has resumed.
Pakistan's national television channel is back on air after security forces removed anti-government protesters from its headquarters in Islamabad.Troops were sent in to regain control from demonstrators who had forced their way into the PTV offices. Earlier, fresh clashes erupted between protesters and police in the capital. Protesters loyal to opposition leader Imran Khan and cleric Tahirul Qadri want PM Nawaz Sharif to resign. He denies corruption and electoral fraud. Both Mr Khan and Mr Qadri have urged calm and asked their supporters to co-operate with the army. A number of policemen are reported to have been injured in Monday's violence as thousands of demonstrators - some wielding batons and throwing stones - moved on the main building housing Pakistan's federal bureaucracy and Prime Minister's House. Riot police were forced to retreat from the main road in front of parliament, Constitution Avenue. Protesters attacked vehicles and set fire to shipping containers placed on the street as roadblocks. On Sunday night protesters used trucks to smash through the outer fence of the parliament building, even though the building was guarded by troops, the BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad reports. Demonstrators have been taking part in a sit-in in the centre of the capital for two weeks.
Waseem AbbasiAfter shocking revelations of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf (PTI) President Javaid Hashmi, more voices are emerging from the party to indicate that PTI chairman Imran Khan was following a well scripted plan, chalked out as early as last year to oust Nawaz Sharif’s government. Party insiders told The News that the plan was partially conveyed to a parliamentary party meeting held at Imran Khan’s residence at Bani Gala three months after May 11, 2013 elections. “The meeting of PTI parliamentarians were told by the Chairman (Imran Khan) to prepare for the elections in 2014 as the Nawaz government will not last more than a year,” said the party MNA from Karak, Nasir Khan Khattak. Referring to the meeting held soon after the UK visit of the PTI Chairman after 2013 polls, Khattak said the party MNAs were directed to go to their constituencies as next elections will be held in 2014. “We did not take this advice very seriously at that time but current developments have proven that everything was scripted,” he said. He endorsed the claims of PTI President Javaid Hashmi that PTI chairman was following some “external” directions.Khattak is one of the party MNAs who are facing expulsion from PTI for refusing to resign from the National Assembly. He went on to say that by calling for mutiny and attacking the state symbol, PTI Chairman has lost the right to lead the party so he must step down and face the legal action under Article 6 of the Constitution. “The attack on the parliament and the Prime Minister House by the PTI Chairman is a declaration of war against the state,” he said adding that majority of PTI leaders are against the current dictatorial policies of Mr Khan. The PTI MNA said he will contact Javaid Hashmi and other party leaders to chalk out the future strategy for the party. He claimed that there are 21 MNAs who are unwilling to resign from the Assembly as the decision was taken by the unconstitutional core committee of the party without consulting the parliamentarians. While addressing the protesters on Sunday, PTI chairman announced to expel three dissident MNAs for not complying with his orders.However the party constitution does not have any provision to expel any member through public announcement. Khattak who was elected from NA-15 Karak of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa said decision of resignation from National Assembly was discriminatory as PTI government in KP is still functional and only the MNAs are asked to quit the parliament. Nasir Khan Khattak said that there was no democracy in the party as it was hijacked by two powerful persons namely Jehangir Tareen and Shah Mehmood Qureshi who were making all the key decisions without consulting others. He said that the PTI resignations in current situation would only pave the way for martial law in the country.
First time in the history of Pakistan, State run Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) building was taken over by violent mob and protesters of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) took over State run television station in Islamabad and transmissions were suspended. It was noted that Pakistan Army that was responsible to protect state building under article of 245 of Pakistan constitution did not stop mob. After 30 minutes or so, Pakistan army troops reached PTV building and asked protesters to clear the building but did not take any action against people who taken over the building and no arrests were reported and mob was allowed to leave PTV building without any action against them. “State Run Pakistan Television building was taken over by protesters and Pakistan Army now cleared the building and let protesters left the building without any action against them”, said one PTV worker while talking to Dispatch News Desk. PTV staff said that Maj Sarfaraz of Pakistan Army talked to protesters and asked them to leave. “it looked there is some understanding with Pakistan army and PTI and PAT leadership otherwise nobody could enter PTV building without fear of being shot dead”, claimed one staffer who was trashed by mob.
Saturday night was a dark time in Pakistan’s history. Spurred on by Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan, workers from the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and Pakistan Teheek-e-Insaaf (PTI) formed a mob and attacked the Prime Minister’s (PM’s) House and the fenced compound that encloses the houses of parliament and the presidency. Veteran human rights campaigner Asma Jehangir, whose moral stature towers above these two riot instigators, had it right when she told a local television channel: “There is no such thing as peaceful banditry.” Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri, despite their numerous claims of wanting peaceful protest, engaged instead in one of the most disgusting spectacles of mob violence this country has had the misfortune of seeing. Saturday night’s events have already become obscured by controversy, but the sequence of events shows precisely where responsibility lies for the injuries and deaths among rioters and the police, and the destruction of public property. After presenting yet another deadline to the government for the PM’s resignation, Tahirul Qadri led from behind and ordered his workers to march towards the PM’s House while he sat in his car. Imran Khan had previously said he would not join in the invasion, making promises to the government and the military that these areas would remain sacrosanct. However, at the last minute, and reportedly against the majority consensus in his party, he decided to join his workers to Tahirul Qadri’s. They also told their workers to begin protests in other cities. The combined mob began to press towards the PM’s residence, but diverted and began leaping over and breaking the gates and fences surrounding parliament and the presidency. After the police retreated literally to the doors of the presidency, this was the line drawn in the sand that the government could not ignore and when the mob turned towards the buildings, the police were forced to teargas them and drive them off the premises. The mob responded by attacking the police, using batons and rocks and the situation soon devolved into a full scale riot on the presidency grounds. Reportedly the protestors tried to force their way into the National Assembly (NA) but retreated when they saw the doors were guarded by army and Rangers personnel. No doubt they were told by their leadership not to engage the military. However, engaging the police was more than enough to turn the parliament grounds and Constitution Avenue into a veritable warzone, with rioters bent on causing destruction after being left with no clear goal in mind. In Lahore a mob assembled at Liberty Roundabout and began trashing storefronts and looting. The riot in Islamabad lasted well into the morning though by then the mob of several thousand had dwindled to several hundreds. Three people were killed and hundreds injured, some by rubber bullets but most from exposure to teargas. Through it all Imran Khan was visible on top of his container, loudspeaker in hand, exhorting workers to charge the police, fight, and attack parliament. It was a sight so putrid that it beggars belief he has the gall to stand in front of the Pakistani nation again today and claim he is the victim. Apparently this realisation is dawning on PTI leaders too. Javed Hashmi and Shah Mehmood Qureshi were reportedly against the decision to join the riot and have not appeared beside Imran Khan since. After calling for a joint session of parliament for Tuesday, it is hoped that the government can quell the riots and bring the perpetrators to justice after imposing Section 144 in Islamabad, which prohibits large public gatherings, but one cannot rule out the possibility that fresh elections become inevitable, despite the PM’s legal mandate. The country is now poised on the brink of an uncertain future and the situation is grave enough that COAS General Raheel Shareef moved up a corps commanders meeting to Sunday evening to discuss it. He must order the army to do its duty and protect the official residence of its commander-in-chief. With another battle in Islamabad looming, the next 24 hours may decide the future of this country.
Pakistan faces its biggest political catastrophe in well over a decade. Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri started their marches with high-flying talk of democracy and freedom. They are looking to end it with bloodshed. The decision to storm the PM House does not count as legitimate protest. Imran has constantly evoked the ideals of democratic protest in the west but anyone who tried to break into the White House or 10 Downing Street armed with sticks and forklifts would be detained immediately or shot at if resisting arrest. So far three people have been killed as Islamabad descended into anarchy. The scenes that we saw as the marchers clashed with police were horrible. Women carrying infants and fleeing the clouds of teargas or evading batons is a sight we would never wish to see. The chief responsibility for that lies with Imran and Qadri who, safely hiding in their containers, charged up their supporters with openly violent rhetoric and hypocritical talk of peace, and sent them to the frontlines. With Imran stating there would be further action, for which his ‘tigers’ are well prepared, things seem rather ominous. His lack of responsibility is shocking. There was a lot of uncertainty surrounding a corps commander meeting yesterday. The statement released by the ISPR may temporarily soothe frayed nerves. It reaffirmed the army’s commitment to democracy – stressing a political approach to the crisis and warning against the harm that violence may bring. Earlier in the day, PM Sharif too had expressed a similar approach with his directions to protect state buildings without loss of lives and calling for more talks with the PTI and PAT. The army also says it is tasked with protecting sensitive buildings in the capital. The imposition of Article 245 by the government does increase the army’s authority. How that authority may be used since both Imran and Qadri are still baying for blood is unclear. Imran’s sudden decision to take the protest to the PM House shows him to be a rash, unstable figure not cut out for democratic politics. The only question that remains is if he is acting on his own. Disgruntled PTI president Javed Hashmi, who has now been expelled from the party for speaking his conscience and spilling a few beans, says the party had decided not to move from D-Chowk but Imran unilaterally overruled everyone after he found himself ‘compelled’ on receiving a message from somewhere. This happened at a time when it was clear that negotiations with the government could lead to a breakthrough and PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi had announced that a deal had almost been reached. Many now are wondering more openly if Imran and Qadri are the sole screenwriters of this drama or if there other unaccredited authors. The Javed Hashmi episode further exposes the true state of democracy within the PTI itself. That Imran has chosen to be influenced by the whispers of Sheikh Rasheed over the words of Javed Hashmi says a lot about the direction his politics has taken. That a motley crew flanked by a few thousand supporters may throw us back by decades says a lot about how fragile the state of our civilian affairs is. The political forces have failed badly in preventing the disarray that has broken out with democracy teetering once more on the brink. The government has been mostly missing in action. Let alone being pro-active. The PML-N has not even been able to react effectively to unfolding events, giving the impression of a deer frozen in the headlights. The other political parties have mostly been opportunistically waiting to see how events play out and what may be in it for them. They, too, should be blamed for bringing us to a situation where the fate of the democratic system hangs in the balance. Figures like Aitzaz Ahsan and Asma Jahangir in their comments have shown the rare but much needed clarity that, if pursued uncompromisingly by our body politic, can make Qadri and Imran see the unreason in their ambitions instead of thriving on the present lack of a united and unambiguous front. If for nothing else but the sake of its own survival, the PML-N has to take the nation into confidence, truthfully explain what is going on and reveal what it will do next. After weeks of silence and half-truths from every side we now need to demand more from our political class.
Shots were fired at a cargo plane which arrived from Kabul Peshawar Airport, Geo News reported. Airport authorities said a single bullet hit the aircraft and they were examining the plane. According to reports, the plane had landed at the airport for refueling.
Those who promised to create ‘Naya Pakistan’ and bring about a ‘revolution’ have ended up putting the country on an all too familiar way that leads to controlled democracy. Lust for power accompanied by impatience led the two leaders to act as pawns on behalf of the offstage players. The protest leaders were unscrupulous in the choice of the means for the achievement of their sordid ends. Use of women, children, and even infants as human shields was highly reprehensible. Nowhere in a democracy are protesters allowed to storm the Parliament House or try to attack the Prime Minister’s official residence. It is inconceivable in Europe or the US for club-wielding and brick-batting crowds to go berserk. Whenever this happens the police takes recourse to highly repressive methods. Why did the Prime Minister agree to give the army the role of a facilitator? Both the Houses of Parliament had already pledged support for a constitutional resolution of the crisis and vowed not to yield to any unconstitutional demand of the protesters. The Wall Street Journal claims that the military had seized on Sharif’s weakened status during the political crisis to strike a deal in which the civilian leadership would cede control over foreign policy and other important areas to the military. Were the two marches, the sit-in and the storming of Parliament House meant to create grounds for a soft coup? The completion of a full term by a democratically elected government followed by a peaceful transfer of power had given birth to an expectation that it would lead to a redefinition of relations between the army and the civilian government, with the elected administration taking key policy decisions and government departments, including the DoD, implementing these policies. The claim that the ‘referee’ was about to raise his finger and the glee on the face on Imran Khan when called by those who matter indicated that there was more to the affair than met the eye.
The Express Tribune
By Zafar BhuttaThe real war between Iran and the United States, which is supported by many European countries, appears to be over energy supply deals. Under some projects, Iran will be connected to European states, Oman, Iraq and Kuwait by sharing its vast energy reserves. Iran and Oman have sealed a $60-billion agreement under which Muscat will purchase natural gas from Tehran over the next 25 years. The project includes laying a pipeline costing $1 billion across the Gulf. The agreement was reached during the visit of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Muscat in March this year. Around 50% of the gas to be exported to Oman, will be transported onwards to Japan, South Korea and India. In June, Kuwait became the second country in the Gulf that announced its desire to buy natural gas from Iran, which sits on one of the largest gas reserves in the world. The eagerness for energy cooperation comes in the backdrop of a historic deal between Iran, the US and five other world powers over the former’s nuclear programme on November 24 last year. Iran accepted strict constraints on the nuclear programme for the first time in a decade in exchange for partial relief from sanctions. Later in December, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said in a statement Iran was planning to lay a pipeline to ship gas to European nations that were interested in imports. If the programme is agreed and the US and other world powers reach some arrangement with Iran, Pakistan’s long-standing hopes of importing Iranian gas may be finally buried. The Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline has been stuck for years in the wake of US threat of sanctions. Though Islamabad sought some concessions from the US to clear the way for building the pipeline, but the request was rejected outright. The deadline – December 2014 – for the start of gas flow under the IP project is approaching fast and Pakistan may face penalties of millions of dollars every day in case of failure to complete its part of the pipeline. Iran has laid its portion of the pipeline. In place of Iranian gas imports, the US has suggested that Pakistan should consider purchasing liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Qatar and other sources, but it is not a cheaper source of energy. Crucial talks in Sept The PML-N government, however, is trying to make some arrangements with Iran to win an extension in the deadline and keep the project alive. The two sides are expected to meet next month to discuss some important proposals, which may pacify the Iranian government, which is upset over failure of Islamabad to start work on the project. Pakistan insists that it could not press ahead with the project due to the lingering threat of sanctions. Now, it has proposed to Tehran to construct the pipeline from the Gwadar Port under the guise of LNG export, which could be connected to Iran after the sanctions are lifted. According to an official assessment, the gap between demand and supply of gas is widening in Pakistan and production is expected to drop to about half the existing levels by 2020 if new reserves are not tapped and output is not increased from existing fields. Gas production will fall from the current 4.47 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) to 2.53 bcfd in 2019-20 if fresh supplies are not injected into the system. Experts are of the view that Pakistan should tackle the issue strategically and take it up again with US authorities. They ask why Islamabad is being pressurised when other countries are clinching deals with Iran. These countries have made economic policies part of their foreign policies and Pakistan should also follow them in securing energy supplies. Otherwise, it will lose an opportunity to secure cheaper gas imports and its economy will collapse under the weight of energy shortages.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) President Javed Hashmi has said that Imran Khan’s decision of marching towards PM house was against the party discipline. Talking to media, Hashmi said the party leadership unanimously decided that they will not go further but Imran Khan imposed his decision. He said he asked Imran Khan to wait till the end of talks but Imran emphasized that he had to move forward. Hashmi said Imran Khan has become the follower of Tahirul Qadri, adding that Khan will be held responsible if democracy was derailed. He said that Imran Khan told him to leave if he had reservations against his decisions. PTI president said Imran Khan promised him that he will not go further from a certain point, adding that children and women were our responsibility. He urged the government to immediately stop barbarism. He said he was very tensed over the current situation. Fearing martial law, he said it wasn t very far from us now. He asked Imran Khan to take his party out of this embarrassment, adding that such protests are not even allowed in Washington and London. Following the news, Maryam Nawaz Sharif termed Javed Hashmi as the only sane person in the PTI.
Hundreds of protesters attempted to force their way into Pak secretariat on Monday morning. Clashes between demonstrators and FC personnel resumed after the tear gas shells became unproductive due to rain. The protesters are reportedly hurling stones on police and making their way. According to reports, the protesters have broken the gate of Pak secretariat. It is important to mention that Pak army is also present inside the building.