Saturday, September 13, 2014

Music Video - Rainbow - A


I'm Voting Yes for Scotland - Song

Scottish Independence Rally Songs Edinburgh Scotland 2012

Scottish independence: Thousands on the streets for weekend campaign

Thousands of supporters of both sides in the Scottish referendum debate have taken to the streets on the final weekend before the vote.
The pro-independence Yes Scotland campaign claimed Saturday would be the "biggest day of national campaigning" Scotland has ever seen. The Better Together campaign claimed there would be "a thousand events all across Scotland today". Supporters of both sides argued that the momentum was with them.
The latest poll of polls collating the the six most recent surveys - carried out between 9 and 12 September and excluding "don't knows" - puts the No campaign on 51% and the Yes campaign on 49%.
And a new Sunday Times poll - conducted by Panelbase - puts the No campaign on 50.6% and the Yes campaign on 49.4%. That is a narrowing of the gap compared with the paper's poll for last weekend, which showed a No campaign lead of 52% to 48%.
'Momentum growing'
Saturday's campaigning followed interventions in the debate by businesses raising concerns about independence, which "Yes" campaigners claimed was "orchestrated" by the UK government.
Scotland's Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said: "The 'Yes' campaign has been carried along by a flourishing of self-confidence among people in Scotland.
"That momentum is still growing and will soon become unstoppable, as people reject the Downing Street-orchestrated campaign to talk Scotland down.
"Today thousands of Yes supporters from communities across Scotland will be running the biggest campaign day of action Scotland's ever seen."
On the Yes campaign trail
Scotland today is a nation frantic with political activity and campaigners for independence, for so long the underdogs in this debate, are relishing the energy.
Every time he stepped from a car or a helicopter, Alex Salmond was surrounded by supporters.
On Prestwick high street in Ayrshire this morning, the first minister rallied the troops before popping in to the local Wetherspoons for a swift half.
The choice was not accidental. The boss of the pub chain, Tim Martin, has been a voice of support for independence saying "Scotland could do very well on its own".
Other businesses have taken a very different view with talk of economic disaster if there is a "Yes" vote.
But travelling by helicopter from town to town, Mr Salmond seemed remarkably relaxed about such interventions.
He thinks he has caught the mood of the public, insisting they don't want to hear tales of doom and gloom.
Better Together published a new poll on Saturday suggesting 53.5% opposed independence and 46.5% backed it, when undecided voters were excluded.
The telephone poll, commissioned by Better Together from pollsters Survation, reached 1,044 respondents, with an effective sample size of 927. Conducted between 10 and 12 September, it used a different methodology from previous Survation polls. Better Together campaign director Blair McDougall said: "This poll suggests that 'No' are in the lead but that the race is far from over. "No-one can afford a protest vote. Any one of us could cast the vote that makes the difference between the UK staying together or breaking apart."
Labour MP Jim Murphy, for Better Together, added: "I get a sense now the momentum has switched back - huge numbers of undecided voters are coming to us, there's a thousand events all across Scotland today." Responding to the poll, a Yes Scotland spokesperson said: "There is everything to play for, and this will spur on everybody who wants and is working hard for a 'Yes' to redouble their efforts.
"A 'Yes' vote is our one opportunity to achieve job-creating powers, protect our NHS from the damaging impact of Westminster privatisation and cuts, and ensure that never again do we get Tory governments imposed on Scotland that we have roundly rejected."

Barack Obama and Islamic State

BARACK OBAMA’s prime-time address of September 10th, bracing America for an open-ended campaign against Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, marked a stunning turnaround for a cautious president, a once-again-hawkish Republican Party and—most strikingly—for a public galvanised by the beheading of two American journalists, after ignoring soaring death tolls in the Arab world (see chart). Mr Obama’s presidency is on the line, as critics ask whether he knows how to keep Americans safe.
When he proudly declared in 2011 that America’s war in Iraq would soon be over, Mr Obama can hardly have imagined that, three years later, public opinion would oblige him to deliver an address from the White House, assuring the country that almost 500 American troops will head to Iraq to join hundreds already there, where they will support Iraqi and Kurdish forces with advice, training, intelligence and equipment. New Iraqi national guard units in Sunni towns will also receive support, he said. Allies on the ground would be backed by “systematic” air strikes against IS in Syria as well as Iraq. American combat troops would not fight on foreign soil, he promised, choosing his words with legalistic precision. But: “If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”
Since uprisings began against the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad, Mr Obama has resisted calls from aides, among them his first secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, to arm relatively-moderate rebels on a large scale, or risk leaving a vacuum for extremists to fill. On August 8th the president deemed it a “fantasy” that the Syrian government could be beaten by arming moderates he called: “essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth”. A month later in his TV address, Mr Obama announced expanded aid for Syrian rebels, adding that in the fight against IS, “we cannot rely on an Assad regime that terrorises its people.” He compared this strategy—involving air power and support for regional allies fighting on the ground—to missions he said were succeeding in Somalia and Yemen.
Though the president believes he has the legal authority to launch air strikes, and bipartisan backing for his larger strategy, he renewed a call for Congress to authorise funds needed to train and equip large numbers of Syrian fighters. A request for $500m to help Syrian rebels has been stalled in Congress since June.
Asking Congress to approve a ramping-up of American counter-terror firepower might seem to answer complaints from members of Congress who have denounced Mr Obama as a “reluctant commander-in-chief” and demanded to be consulted. Yet in the hours before Mr Obama’s address, leaders of the House of Representatives and the Senate were divided over how central a role to seek. Lots of Republicans are happily rediscovering hawkish instincts, jointly accusing Mr Obama (and Mrs Clinton, a putative 2016 presidential challenger) of running a feckless foreign policy. But with elections less than two months away, many in Congress fear taking war votes that might be held against them. As an unusually candid Republican congressman told reporters, many of his colleagues prefer a simple approach: they will denounce Mr Obama if his plan goes awry, and, should it succeed, “ask what took him so long”.
Approval of Mr Obama’s foreign policy is at record lows. But the public mood is far from consistent. After Syria used chemical weapons on its people last year, only one in five Americans thought striking the Assad regime was in their national interest. Voters flooded Congress with calls opposing even limited missile strikes.
Now the polls show nearly three-quarters of Americans backing air strikes on Iraq, two-thirds backing strikes on Syria and 61% believing action against IS is in America’s interests. The new public hawkishness is linked to the reporters’ beheading, pollsters report. Americans paid more attention to those murders than to any other news event in the past five years, according to one survey. America is still tired of war. But it wants to feel safe.

The battle for Western values

Ruthless and indiscriminate terrorist methods, refined by ever more sophisticated techniques, have characterized the activities of those extreme Islamists who have taken the fight into the West.
At long last the Western world is waking up to the fact that it faces a real and present danger - nothing less than a determined assault on its very existence. Appeasement is not a practical option. This is an enemy fired up by religious zeal, utterly committed to its unacceptable purposes and not susceptible to discussion or negotiation. In short, as much as liberal opinion in the civilized world may flinch from the prospect, there is a battle to be fought and won. On Wednesday, September 3 -- coincidentally 75 years to the day after Britain declared war on Nazi Germany -- US President Barack Obama said: “Our objective is clear, and that is to degrade and destroy ISIL [the self-styled Islamic State(IS)].”
For his part, UK prime minister David Cameron has vowed that IS will "be squeezed out of existence". His remarks, made to a packed House of Commons, appeared to be preparing the ground for a broad coalition to drive out IS, following a formal invitation from the Iraqi government. At last week’s NATO summit in Wales, US Secretary of State John Kerry pulled together a coalition made up of Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Turkey, Italy, Poland and Denmark, along with Australia, to do just that, however long it takes.

Egypt's president Sisi: Don't just focus on Islamic State

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry that any international coalition against terrorism should not just focus on Islamic State militants, the presidency said in a statement on Saturday.
Sisi also expressed concerns about foreign fighters in Islamic State and the danger they posed to their home countries because of Western passports that can get get them through airports undetected.
Egyptian security officials have said Islamic State has established contacts with Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, the country's most dangerous militant group, which has killed hundreds of security forces since the army toppled Islamist President Mohamed Mursi last year after mass protests against him.
Egypt would certainly welcome action against Ansar as well as Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood, which it has declared a terrorist group.
Sisi said any international coalition to combat terrorism "should be comprehensive and not exclusively target a specific organization or eradicate a certain terrorist hotspot", said the presidency.
"Rather, the coalition should extend to encompass combating terrorism wherever it exists in the Middle East and African regions."
The statement added that Sisi "warned of the repercussions from the involvement of foreign militants in ongoing regional conflicts".

Video Report: It's time to debate the war on ISIS

President Obama's Weekly Address: We Will Degrade and Destroy ISIL

Music : Lee Brice - Hard To Love

Pakistan: Rehman Malik urges Govt to release PTI,PAT workers

Rehman Malik member of political jirga of opposition parties here on Saturday called for the release of workers of Pakistan Aawmi Tehreek (PAT) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
Speaking to media persons on Saturday at Karachi Airport, Malik said that talks must continue after the release of detained political workers. He warned that there could be a confrontation if a peaceful solution was not found out of the crisis.
“It is a ego-lock, not deadlock,” he said in response to a question. This lock, he said, could be opened by people only. He said that political jirga played a major role to end the deadlock between protesting parties and government.

U.S. Inspector: Billions in failed programs wasted in Afghanistan

By James Rosen
The top U.S. official for monitoring aid to Afghanistan painted a grim portrait of the country’s future Friday, saying it is riddled with corruption and graft.
With most Americans’ attention riveted on Iraq and Syria, John F. Sopko, the U.S. special inspector general for Afghanistan, said the United States’ unprecedented $120 billion reconstruction investment there is at risk.
“The country remains under assault by insurgents and is short of domestic revenue, plagued by corruption, afflicted by criminal elements involved in opium and smuggling, and struggling to execute the basic functions of government,” Sopko said in a speech at Georgetown University.
President Barack Obama’s vow that only 9,800 U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan by year’s end, Sopko said, has left many Americans unaware the the United States will spend up to $8 billion a year on reconstruction projects for years to come.
“If corruption is allowed to continue unabated, it will likely jeopardize every gain we’ve made so far in Afghanistan,” Sopko said.
The United States continues to pump billions of dollars into the South Asia country that its government can’t control.
“It appears we’ve created a government that the Afghans simply can’t afford,” Sopko said. “Accordingly, when we build things the Afghans can’t use and when we don’t take their resources into account, we’re not just wasting money. We’re jeopardizing our mission of creating a self-sustaining Afghanistan that can keep insurgents down and terrorists out.”
Among several wasteful U.S. programs cited by Sopko, he said that billions spent to fight Afghanistan’s flourishing opium trade have gone down the drain.
“The U.S. has already spent nearly $7.6 billion to combat the opium industry,” Sopko said. “Yet by every conceivable metric, we’ve failed. Production and cultivation are up, interdiction and eradication are down, financial support to the insurgency is up, and addiction and abuse are at unprecedented levels in Afghanistan.”
Some Afghan soldiers and police are getting paid off by poppy growers to allow them to cultivate the illicit plant, Sopko said.
“The narcotics trade poisons the Afghan financial sector and fuels a growing illicit economy,” he said. “This, in turn, undermines the Afghan state’s legitimacy by stoking corruption, nourishing criminal networks and providing significant financial support to the Taliban and other insurgent groups.”
Sopko warned that Afghanistan “could well become a narco-criminal state in the near future.”
Despite the widespread graft, the United States has no plan for countering corruption, Sopko said, and some U.S. agencies exaggerate progress in Afghanistan in order to justify the huge American investment there.
“The United States lacks a unified anti-corruption strategy in Afghanistan,” he said. “This is astonishing, given that Afghanistan is one of the most corrupt countries in the world.”
The United States has spent more money in Afghanistan than it ever has spent in any other country, and more than it provided to rebuild Europe under the Marshall Plan after World War II, even with inflation taken into account.
Congress created the post of Special Inspector General for Afghanistan in 2008 in order to track the gusher of U.S. aid, and Sopko was appointed two years ago.
He said Friday that the United States and other countries are funding more than 60 percent of the Afghan government, with domestic revenues of $2 billion last year dwarfed by $7.6 billion in expenses.
“The sheer size of the U.S. government’s reconstruction effort has placed both a financial and operational burden on the Afghan economy and its government that it simply cannot manage by itself,” Sopko said.
As more U.S. troops leave Afghanistan, he said, 80 percent of its territory will be “effectively off limits to U.S. civilian oversight,” making it even more difficult to monitor how American aid is being used.
Read more here:

Afghanistan's Presidential Election Crisis Risks Plunging Nation Into Chaos

Instead of breaking their months-long deadlock, Afghanistan’s two presidential candidates appear to be pushing their country toward the brink of a breakdown.
The political insecurity is rocking the lives of ordinary Afghans, sending crime and unemployment rates soaring – along with fears of spiraling violence and a resurgent Taliban.
"Afghanistan is on the brink of descending back into chaos and civil war,” Afghan lawmaker Nisar Haress told NBC News. “The situation is getting worse every passing day."
Kabul property dealer Payenda Mohammad Ehsan is one of the millions of Afghans feeling the effects.
"People do not feel safe," the 62-year-old said. "It is the ordinary people who are most affected by the current crisis."
The deadlock is especially troubling for the U.S. and NATO ahead of the planned withdrawal of combat troops by the end of the year.
"Afghanistan’s failure would be catastrophic for the U.S. and the West,” Afghan lawmaker Nisar Haress told NBC News. “Afghanistan can become another Iraq very quickly and it will be impossible to contain if that happens."
The outcome of the April election was seen as a make-or-break moment for Afghanistan’s future, with billions of dollars of funds tied to the success of a free and fair election. The U.S. had high hopes for the vote, deeming it a critical test not just of Afghanistan’s ability to ensure a stable transition but also to measure the impact a decade of Western intervention had had on the country.
Former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani led preliminary election results. But after his opponent Abdullah Abdullah alleged widespread vote-rigging, Secretary of State John Kerry swooped in to broker a power-sharing deal and convince the two to agree to a recount and unitary government.
While Kerry was hailed a hero at the time, in the two months since talks to form a government have broken down. The U.S. secretary of state has visited yet again, and President Barack Obama also has reached out to the candidates in phone calls. The official results of the recount are expected next week – though Abdullah has said won’t respect the outcome and Ghani said Wednesday he did not want "a two-headed government."
The bitter feud and ensuing political uncertainty has led to a "sharp rise" in unemployment and crime across the country, a senior security official told NBC News, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Rahim Shirzad, a 42-year-old laborer, has not been able to find work since the start of the election fiasco and said he might have to sell his home to repay debts.
"I have no savings left,” he explained. “I had to sell my wife’s jewelry to buy food and basic supplies."
His only hope, he said, was for Kerry to step back in to force the parties to break the deadlock – though Ehsan admitted even that seemed far-fetched.
"People have lost faith in these politicians who are only interested in their own agenda," he said.
Analysts and officials are fearful the political impasse could embolden the Taliban to stage more brazen attacks – and to seize the opportunity to present themselves as a viable alternative to out-of-touch and paralyzed politicians.
Already, the handover of security control by NATO troops to the Afghan National Army has imbued the Taliban with confidence, according to The International Crisis Group. "Ongoing withdrawals of international soldiers have generally coincided with a deterioration of Kabul's reach in outlying districts," an ICG report said in May.
Kawzia Hakin, a 32-year-old mother of four, said she is terrified of what could come to pass.
“There is a real danger of the Taliban coming back and that will be the worst thing that could happen to us,” the government clerk told NBC News. “As a mother, I appeal to the leaders to please, think of the people, and compromise for the sake of the people."


First claim by al-Qaeda India subcontinent wing: Pakistan Navy men ours

Praveen Swami
THE newly-formed Indian subcontinent division of transnational terror group al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for Saturday night’s attack on a Naval dockyard in Karachi — the organisation’s first strike since its existence was made public last month. The attackers, the statement said, were former Pakistan Navy officers-turned-jihadists who were attempting to hijack a missile frigate to stage an attack on a United States aircraft carrier.
The claim was made in a statement released online on Thursday — the 13th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks — by Usama Mahmood, the spokesperson for Qaidat al-Jihad fi’Shibhi al-Qarrat al-Hindiya, or al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS).
Few details are available on the attack, in which a Pakistan Navy officer was reported killed along with two terrorists. Karachi police chief Ghulam Qadir Thebo told the media that the slain attackers included former Naval official Owais Jhakrani, the son of senior police officer Ali Sher Jhakrani. Pakistani media reports said the attackers succeeded in briefly seizing control of the Chinese-made F22P-type frigate, the Zulfiqar.
Mahmood’s statement — in Urdu — says, “The Naval officers who were martyred on Saturday in the attack in Karachi were al-Qaeda members. They were trying to attack American marines and their cronies”. Following training at an al-Qaeda camp, the men were tasked with hijacking the missiles through which they were to attack an American carrier, says the note.
“They had taken over control of the ship and were proceeding to attack the American carrier when they were intercepted by the Pakistan military,” the statement says. “These men thus became martyrs. The Pakistani military men who died defending enemies of the Muslim nation, on the other hand, are cursed with hell”.
In a brief statement which did not describe the circumstances of the attack, the Pakistan Navy said four attackers had been arrested, leading to raids by “intelligence agencies which led to arrest of other collaborators and accomplices from different parts of the country.” Karachi-based newspapers have reported that those arrested included two Naval officers, but there has been no official confirmation.
Mahmood’s statement promises that al-Qaeda will soon released the videotaped last testaments of the attackers — a longstanding practice of the organisation. The release of the videotapes could enhance the credibility of the claim, which comes in the wake of similar but less-detailed statements by two rival factions of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan — both, however, with links to al-Qaeda.
In March 2011, Tehreek-e-Taliban and al-Qaeda cadre had stormed the PNS Mehran airbase near Karachi, destroying military assets including P-3C Orion aircraft valued at $35 million, and killing 15 military personnel. Muhammad Aqeel, one of the terrorists captured during the strike, was a former Pakistan Army nurse, while three Naval officers were court-martialled for aiding the attack.
Brigadier Ali Khan, serving at the military headquarters in Rawalpindi, was held in connection with a 2009 terrorist attack on the Pakistan Army’s headquarters in Rawalpindi, while three Air Force personnel were held after investigations into the 2012 strike on a Pakistan Air Force base at Kamra.

Pakistan - Karachi Naval Dock Attack: Jihadists' Attempt to Storm American Ship on 9/11 Thwarted by Pakistan Military

By Gopi Chandra Kharel
The newly formed Indian wing of Al-Qaeda made an attempt to launch an attack on the anniversary of 9/11, but the group's first ever attack mission ended in failure, a complete embarrassment to the branch launched only last week with much pomp and pageantry.
The offshoot of the deadly militant outfit formed by Ayman al-Zawahiri, suffered a major setback when three of its fighters were killed and seven arrested thereby thwarting a major terror attack, reportedly aimed at destroying an American aircraft.
Heavily armed militants attacked a naval dock in Karachi's sea port last Saturday night in what seems to be their mission to first capture the dock and use the Navy missile system present in the vessel to target an American aircraft. But before they could execute their plans, Pakistan Navy overpowered them in a counter-ambush capturing many while killing others among the militants.
"It was a complete failure, they did not do any kind of damage, some were captured and we caught more, seven so far and may be more to come. They were well-equipped and came with the intention of taking a ship into their custody but they were caught in the initial stages," The Telegraph quoted a senior source close to the investigation, as saying.
The Indian wing of Al-Qaeda, which was unveiled by Zawahiri last week in order to step up its competition with the growing hardliner Sunni militants, Islamic State, soon claimed responsibility for the attack on Thursday and revealed that Pakistan Navy had carried out the attack. It is not clear if the Navy men were themselves members of the outfit, or the attackers were disguised as navy members.
"The Naval officers who were martyred on Saturday in the attack on Karachi were al-Qaeda members. They were trying to attack American marines and their cronies", the group said in a statement as noted by reports.
The statement further added that the militants had seized an American vessel but were thwarted by Pakistan navy troops. "The Pakistani military men who died defending enemies of the Muslim nation...are cursed with hell", they said.

Pakistan's Looming Demographic Crisis

By Akhilesh Pillalamarri
Forget electoral crises and terrorism — Pakistan’s dangerous demographics might be its biggest threat.
The Financial Times ran an interesting article a couple of days ago on the threat runaway population growth poses to Pakistan. According to the Population Council, a non-governmental organization based in New York, Pakistan’s population is projected to reach 302 million by 2050. Pakistan’s current population is around 200 million people while in 1947, the year it gained independence, Pakistan had only 33 million people.
The article notes that Pakistan’s rapidly increasing population will strain its “natural resources (especially water), government services, infrastructure, and families,” all of which are already overburdened. The future economic and political consequences of this population growth are dire, especially since Pakistan has not experienced the type of economic growth or industrialization necessary to employ millions of young people.
This is yet another example of how the Pakistani government’s failure to get its house in order and implement long-term developmental strategies is coming back to haunt it. Like many South Asian states, Pakistan’s state institutions are relatively weak, a problem compounded by the fact that it inherited little of British India’s institutions. However, instead of emphasizing governance and building up the capacity of the state, successive Pakistani governments have neglected economic development, industrialization, education, and government itself (in many tribal areas). As a result, Pakistan is ill-prepared to implement the sort of economic reforms needed to employ its entire population or implement the family planning strategies necessary to curb population growth.
A comparison to Bangladesh is instructive. When both East Pakistan – today’s Bangladesh – and West Pakistan (today’s Pakistan) were one country between 1947 and 1971, East Pakistan had more people than West Pakistan. However, today, successful family planning policies in Bangladesh have led to an almost stable but gradually growing population of around 150 million people. Bangladesh’s success surprised many observers but is now widely upheld as an exemplar. Many of Pakistan’s neighbors, including Iran, have also managed to lower their fertility rates.
The Indus valley and the Punjab region of Pakistan (Punjab means five rivers) are among the most fertile regions in the world. The world’s largest continuous irrigation system dominates the Indus valley. As a result, Pakistan has generally had a greater ability to generate and absorb a large population than many other countries with large fertility rates. However, Pakistan’s ability to sustain more people is reaching its limits.
Unfortunately, Pakistan’s attitudes towards India often obscure the problem in Pakistan. On one hand, there is some belief that Pakistan can only challenge India with a large population; therefore, it is not in Pakistan’s interest to limit population growth. On the other hand, many in Pakistan seem to believe that Pakistan is actually just growing at a “normal” rate but is being sabotaged by Indian dams upriver. However, it is obvious to most observers, including many Pakistanis, that Pakistan’s rivers are drying up because there are simply too many people, resulting in too much demand for water and agriculture.
There are indications, however, that many Pakistanis, both men and women, want to have fewer children but cannot do so due to a lack of knowledge or a lack of contraceptives. Additionally, family planning is not widely or openly discussed in Pakistan due to the influence of religious leaders.
Pakistani politicians need to stop playing their game of thrones if they want to save their country. Ultimately, implementing necessary policies is more important than pursuing individual goals, as many of Pakistan’s political actors seem to be doing today. However, human nature being what it is and given that Pakistan in particular is so politically unstable, it is unlikely that the country’s demographic problem will be solved anytime soon. This is unfortunate because it means that Pakistan’s tendency towards extremism and violence will continue to grow as it is slowly beset by a host of other socio-economic problems.

Countrywide Protests Slam Shia Genocide In Pakistan
Shia Muslims in Pakistan have staged rallies nationwide to protest persisting killing of Shias across the country, blaming provincial and federal governments for failing to prosecute the perpetrators.
According to media reports, the protests against Shia killings have now become a regular scene in Pakistan. Once again Shia Muslims took to the streets across the country to express anger at Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s administration for what they call his failure to control law and order in the country.
The rallies were organized by the Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) political organization.
In addition to professionals and ordinary men who have fallen victim to the violence, at least 10 Shia doctors have been gunned down since January 2014.
No one has been accused or punished over these crimes. Dr. Abdul Aziz, who was targeted on Thursday at his clinic by unknown assailants, was the latest victim of the ongoing violence against Pakistan’s Shia community.
“Takfiri criminals are facilitated in jails and purposely allowed to escape to kill Shia Muslims,” said MWM leader in Karachi, Ali Hussain Naqvi.
The demonstrators condemned Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah for what they described as his incompetence to deliver on his promises.
“Why are they killing us? Because we love this country? Because our blood is in the foundations of this country? I think the shameless government of Nawaz Sharif should step down now as they cannot provide us security,” said a protester.
Experts say the government is downplaying the fresh security threats even after newly surfaced ISIL messages in Peshawar. The Takfiris distributed pamphlets calling on the people to join the terrorist group, an issue that has sound the alarms for many in Pakistan.

Pakistan: The Rise of Religious Militancy in Balochistan‏‎

Danish Nazeer
Despite its geopolitical importance and abundant natural resources, Balochistan has been staggeringly deprived of development due to the state policy towards it. What raises concerns now is the parasitically growing religious extremism in the region. Below are the recent events that alarmingly indicate the seriousness of this threat.
Paralyzing the Education Sector
In Pakistan’s least inhabited province, successive governments have failed to ensure a considerably progressing literacy rate over the course of time. Currently, several educational institutes in Balochistan face threat of attacks from ensemble extremist groups. In the past ruthless attacks have been carried out on education in the province. In June 2013, a female suicide bomber blew herself up in a bus carrying students of Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University, Quetta. Later, the sectarian extremist outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the attack. A survivor of the deadly blast, lying in bed with a broken leg and shrapnel cuts across her face resolved, “Such incidents will never stop me from receiving education. As soon as I get better, I will go back to the university.” In June, 2012, at least five students died, while 69 were injured when a powerful blast occurred near an IT University located in Jinnah Town, Quetta. A police officer investigating the scene revealed, “The bomb targeted the bus as it carried a majority of Shia students.” The growing Islamic extremism in the region is evident by wall chalking in several localities and messages from extremist groups declaring co-education and learning English language “haram”. Recently, all private educational institutes in Panjgur were shut down in the aftermath of threats by a shadowy militant organization called Tanzeem-ul-Islami-ul-Furqan whose armed militants have attacked schools and torched vans. The children in Panjgur remained deprived of education until the institutes were reopened after the government assured them of providing protection. Presently the strength of students is minimal; how can parents dare to send their children especially daughters to schools amid continuous threats by militant outfits?
The series of attempts to paralyze the education sector in Balochistan continued when a private school was set on fire in Kech. A pamphlet left by the assailing militants warned the people that they should not send their children to schools or English language centers for learning English. It further advised parents to send their children to religious seminaries only or else get ready to face serious repercussions.
To reassuringly restore the continuity of education in the province, it is necessary to take strict action against the militants.
Acid Attacks
An outcome of the militants’ teachings unfolded when women were attacked with acid for stepping out of the four walls of their houses. Reportedly, 12 women have been separately targeted in recent province-wide acid attacks carried out by men riding motorcycles. Back in 2013, Balochistan’s government had unanimously passed the Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill after an extremist group claimed responsibility of acid attacks on two sisters aged 11 and 13 while they were out shopping. But the recent events viciously targeting the freedom of women have raised questions on the capability of government to ensure safety to women in an already culturally patriarchal society.
Sectarian Violence
The atrocious culmination of religious extremism and ethnic cleansing was witnessed when a bus carrying pilgrims belonging to the Zikri sect of Islam was blown up in Khuzdar by a remote bomb. The sect has never been targeted in a manner so malevolent before. The followers of the Zikri sect have been in jeopardy since the attack and have been targeted multiple times. It appears as if Pakistani media and authorities have neglected them altogether.
Sectarian violence is not new to Balochistan. The Shia genocide in the region continues ruthlessly despite worldwide condemnation. Two young men from the Hazara community were remorselessly killed near Sabzal Road, Quetta a day before Eid. The victims were conventionally forgotten and the killers (like usual) were never found.
The spree of religiously motivated violence in Balochistan can be traced back to the ideological propaganda encouraging jihadi groups in order to weaken Baloch nationalism (a secular movement heavily influenced by leftist Marxist ideology). This politicization of religion is eventually leading to a total disaster. Now there are several terrorist and extremist groups in Balochistan that remain a blockade in Balochistan’s way to achieving peace and prosperity. University buses have been blown up, a number of women have been defaced, different minority sects of Islam are constantly targeted, mass media has been pushed back to the intimidating confines of censorship, and religious minorities continue to be threatened to convert to Islam. Furthermore, the culprits manage to get away most of the time and the issues are reprehensibly underestimated by the national media. While the security apparatus responsible for the protection of common citizen is failing, the people of Balochistan are left asking whom to hold responsible for the lives lost to religious fanaticism and lack of accountability of the state institutions.

Pakistan: Flood devastation: PM statements show his ignorance, says Gilani

Key opposition leader Yousaf Raza Gilani took a potshot at Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for sounding like “an ignorant foreigner” in his statements about the latest flood tragedy to hit the country.
Talking to media in Multan after visiting flood-ravaged areas, Gilani said: “It is not right to embarrass the nation before the whole world through your statements when all the country is in distress due to your ill planned policies.”
He said the protests in Islamabad were also the outcome of similar statements. The former PM said 14 Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) workers were shot dead in Lahore and no FIR was lodged. “While there are 12 FIRs against me and I am involved in no such act,” he added.
He said the problem with the government was that it was defining a new outline of democracy which was prevailing only in Pakistan. “Democracy is not synonymous with the rule of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. It means the rule of the people and there must be distinction between these two concepts,” he said.
He said demanding the resignation from a serving prime minister was not illegal and unconstitutional when everybody was aware of the PM’s efficiency.
He said the need of the hour was to make all those institutions accountable that are responsible to control the floods and disastrous situations in the country. “The investigations against these organisations and their chiefs should be made public,” he added.
He said the government never considered the inquiry report of 2010 floods – prepared by the judicial commission – and this was the major reason behind the current devastation.
“Planning for floods and rains was never on the priority list of the federal and Punjab governments.
They just want to construct Metro buses all over the country. If we remain silent, they will start a project of Metro bus from Afghanistan to India or in any other country,” he said.

Floods reflect typical Sharifs’ politics

Shahab Jafry
See the N league talk its way out of this one.
Politicians are forgiven for interpreting events in terms of mileage. Democrats, for example, must have secretly cheered at the ’07 recession. Obviously that didn’t mean they liked people suffering as a rule; only near election time when the other party had office. It’s strictly politics. Similarly, politicians leveraging tragedies for political survival may be in bad taste morally, but in an industry run on the principle of ‘art of the possible’, it is accepted.
So, as chatter goes, N hated it when the floods came again, because of the harm that would come to the people, of course. But the N league huddle calculated in terms of survival. How good do the dharnas look now when people are drowning? The government has more important things to take care of than these senseless protests. That, and fly the CM, and his camera crew, along with a couple of PDMA bureaucrats with blank cheques to knee deep areas, and things will be back to normal.
But there’s a reason the déjà vu didn’t work out well. It turns out the CM repeated this exercise every year; because rains and floods brought disaster every year. And roads and bridges are fine, but his government has not done much to deal with one of the province’s most chronic problems. So pictures of Shahbaz Sharif sympathising with victims conveyed exactly the opposite message. Journalists learn early that politics also means posturing. A picture is worth a thousand words. At the end of the day, the N league did not do well in terms of damage control.
It didn’t help, of course, that reports soon came out of advance warnings of harsh rains and heavy flooding, but the government did nothing. And suddenly, the initiative N had regained from the dharnas after so much manoeuvring, was lost. Main news was again government incompetence, to the point that hundreds were killed, millions made homeless, and a blow to the economy that is known to knock a couple of percentage points off the GDP, at least. Imran and TuQ might have ended up looking silly, especially after the opposition threw in its lot with N, but their accusations of ineptitude and a senseless government gained currency.
Surely Nawaz didn’t expect crowds in Azad Kashmir to disrupt his address with Go-Nawaz-Go chants. And surely even Imran would not have expected crowds in Sargodha to do the same. So there’s a limit to the extent the party can now parade the brothers.
Surely Nawaz didn’t expect crowds in Azad Kashmir to disrupt his address with Go-Nawaz-Go chants. And surely even Imran would not have expected crowds in Sargodha to do the same. So there’s a limit to the extent the party can now parade the brothers. It’s not even double edged anymore. It’s an unviable gambit. Who, then, will present the message? Hold people’s hands and tell them it’ll be ok. Kh Saad? His debating skills have carried on from university days and he definitely passes the fire-in-the-belly test. But what’s the minister for railways doing explaining the floods all alone? Ahsan Iqabl with his Vision 2025? He may run out of points after explaining why his strategy is typical N thinking, and it too makes little mention, if any, of dealing with structural problems – like draining floodwater from annual rains – that usually precede infrastructural mega projects – like motorways, flyovers, etc.
They will realise, eventually, that it’ll have to be Kh Asif, the water and power minister. As if dealing with the electricity crisis was not enough for him. He’ll now have to answer for the Sharifs’ non-response to warnings about the floods. Again, and this merits repeating, the failure to move at the right time, or have a priority list that did not entertain massive floods, has cost hundreds of lives, made millions homeless, and hit the economy like the dharnas cannot even if Imran and TuQ pitch in their tents all the way to the next general election.
But there’s another problem. Khwaja sb would do all that and more for the party, but his time is cramped since he’s also the defence minister. Again, typical N league. Second largest party in the country with a heavy mandate government, and all important ministries are still heaped on the close inner circle, in the province and the centre. Now Asif has to deal with Zarb-e-Azb, the power crisis (circular debt and all), and the floods. If nothing else, the multi-minister does take credit for outdoing so many others who could manage only one of these ministries at a time, and still find it difficult to cope with the work load.
Interestingly, since he holds these crucial ministries, Kh Asif would also be one of the few people who can tell the prime minister how his disregard for the disaster is also compromising the anti-terror drive in the long run. We have an enduring tradition where natural disasters give militant organisations, the kind whose friends are on the wrong side of the NW operation, a foot in the door. They have always been at the forefront in terms of relief work. In the old days, and some say still, this trend had to do with the mullahs being military proxies. And since N himself is as much a product of the khakis as the Taliban, putting this sort of two and two together would not be hard even for him.
Interestingly, since he holds these crucial ministries, Kh Asif would also be one of the few people who can tell the prime minister how his disregard for the disaster is also compromising the anti-terror drive in the long run. But the lashkars and jaishs were prominent in relief work even after Gen Musharraf outlawed a good many in the early days of the war on terror. The ’05 earthquake, and massive floods every year, saw them reach disaster sites long before the government machinery could even begin mobilising. Even now their workers, especially Jamaatud Dawaa’s and Jaamat-e-Islami’s, are seen rescuing people, providing ambulances, helping with relocations, and taking food and water to places days before official sources are able to reach. There they are within earshot of people they are otherwise unable to reach, especially with the restrictions and the operation. And since they do a commendable job of helping people in need, especially when the government is just as slow in reacting to the crisis as it was in preparing for it, it is only natural for locals to return the mullahs’ embrace, with gratitude.
Of course it would be difficult for the best equipped government to react to such crises immediately and any sort of help is welcome when it comes to the people. But that is exactly why not heeding advance warnings is criminal. The Sharifs have run Punjab long enough to be up to scratch on the floods. That this year, if not before, much of the damage could have been avoided by simply running the government properly, but was not, speaks volumes about the Sharifs’ politics and priorities.
Now the huddle, especially Kh Asif, must have figured out that the old approach will not do. They will have to answer for the floods. The timing could have been better – less opposition pressure, no dharnas, etc – but what are the options now? The CM can suspend half the secretariat, the PM can mobilise all his Khwajas and Chaudhrys, but more will be needed.
How quickly things have changed, they must think. Time was not long ago, when the heavy mandate was new, that everything was falling in place. They were all over the assembly, the opposition was divided, and even the military was kept in place. They could poke at Musharraf all they wanted and the boots were unable to react. But then Model Town happened, and it was bungled. Then the dharnas happened, and they were bungled. Then they had to go to the boots for ‘facilitation’. Forget the Musharraf case now. Then they had to rely on the PPP to stay in office, who remembered memogate, and rubbed it in all the way. And now the floods have happened, and they have been bungled for a long time. Perhaps they’ll count on another national crisis to save them from this one.

Pakistan: Dockyard attackers planned to hijack Navy frigate

While the Navy continues to remain tight-lipped about the attack on its dockyard in West Wharf on Sept 6, having issued a bare-bones statement 48 hours after the incident, further details have been obtained by Dawn that reveal the extent of radicalisation within the Navy.
According to informed sources, the attack was carried out entirely by serving Navy personnel, along with Owais Jakharani, a former Navy cadet who could have been given access inside without too much trouble.
“It seems the intention was to hijack PNS Zulfiqar [a frigate purchased from China and inducted in July 2009],” said one of these sources. “The group of would-be hijackers, led by a senior officer, was even saluted by the guard at the bottom of the gangway, before another became suspicious of their intentions and alerted other personnel.”
Naval commandos of PNS Iqbal rushed to the scene and a gunbattle ensued. One naval officer was killed and seven others were injured. Two or three of the attackers were shot dead, one of them being Jakharani, who the police claimed had drowned. Four attackers who had taken refuge in one of the ship’s compartments were locked in and later captured.
Navy went to great lengths to keep attack under wraps
According to another source, no fewer than 17 more individuals — all Navy personnel, including the three arrested from Mastung in Balochistan while reportedly trying to make their way to Afghanistan — have been rounded up based on information extracted from those apprehended. It is believed the suspects are currently being interrogated at one of the military’s interrogation centres.
Also, while Commander Kamran Asif told Associated Press that the militants were armed with rocket launchers, assault rifles and hand-grenades, Dawn has been given information that the weapons had already been smuggled into the dockyard and had been stored in lockers by the rogue personnel.
There has been considerable speculation on whether the attackers arrived at the dockyard by sea or took the West Wharf road that leads to the site. According to a fisheries worker, when fishermen make their way back into the harbour from the open sea, four to five Navy patrol boats carrying heavily armed personnel check their vessels when they pass the dockyard. But as it turns out, neither the sea nor the land route was needed for entry for all but one of the attackers.
The Navy, it seems, was keen to keep the entire incident under wraps from the outset. According to the SHO Dockyards, Sajjad Mangi, he rushed with his team to the naval dockyard at around 9am that day when he received information of firing on the premises of the highly sensitive location.
“We found the area cordoned off by security personnel,” said the SHO, adding that he heard the firing continue for 10 to15 minutes. “They told us it was part of Defence Day celebrations and there was nothing to be alarmed about.”
When Mr Mangi requested to speak to a senior officer, he was put in touch with Commander Mohabbat Khan on the phone who also told him that the firing was nothing out of the ordinary, and there was no need of any assistance from police. Meanwhile, his senior SP Altaf Leghari, whom he had informed, also arrived on the scene. Following the assurance from the commander, they returned with the police force.
After news of the attack broke, city police chief Ghulam Qadir Thebo said the body of Owais Jakharani, a former sailor who quit the Navy a few months ago — some say he was expelled — had been recovered from the sea and that initial investigations suggested that the young man was one of the attackers and, in the absence of bullet wounds, appeared to have drowned. Given that no FIR of this incident has been registered, how could any investigation have even begun?
Incidentally, registering a first information report is mandatory when any crime occurs, even on the premises of a military facility. The fact that it was not registered in this case indicates the lengths to which the Navy — a 31,000-man branch of the military – has gone to keep the investigation in its sole control without sharing on the record information with civilian agencies as it is bound by law to do so.
According to actual events pieced through information provided only on condition of anonymity by several highly placed and credible sources, a very interesting story has emerged.
As per sources in police, on Sept 8, “an unnamed body was handed to us and it was in several pieces”. They said they delivered the dismembered corpse to the Edhi morgue at 5.30pm as an unclaimed body the same day.
This was confirmed by the spokesman for Edhi Foundation, Anwar Kazmi, who said the body parts were collected by Mr Jakharani’s family the next day at 11.30am.
Security experts say the deliberate media blackout on the incident for two days was understandable.
“It was also possible because the attack occurred deep inside an area that is not easily accessible unlike, for instance, the attack on the Mehran naval aviation station [in May 2011],” said Ahmed Chinoy, chief of the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee, “The Navy may have got some solid leads from the four militants they captured and wanted to follow up on them.”
The uncharacteristically late claim of responsibility for the attack that emerged from TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid on the day following the Navy’s statement adds another interesting dimension to the incident.
He declared that the militants were successful in penetrating the security cordon because of inside help and that TTP would continue targeting security forces.
The reason for the delayed claim may well be that those in direct contact with the TTP were either killed or captured at the dockyards immediately following the incident.
“I think the collaborators outside didn’t know themselves how things had turned out, whether the attackers had all been massacred or not,” said Mr Chinoy. “It would also have been very difficult for them to access any information, given the tight security in the area following the incident.”
One of many naval facilities in the area, the Navy dockyard occupies less than 80 acres, and is located at the end of West Wharf Road.
It is about four kilometres from the mouth of Karachi harbour.
The whole operation was so swift that some residents of Baba and Bhit islands barely half a kilometre from the site said that they neither saw nor heard anything out of the ordinary that day.
This is the latest attack on a branch of the military that has been a repeated target of militant assaults, including two attacks on Navy buses in April 2011, the Mehran naval base attack the month after, and a number of targeted killings of naval officers in Karachi.
The Mehran assault lasted 18 hours, killed 10 people and destroyed/damaged several multi-million dollar surveillance aircraft.
As always, though it was conceded that the attackers had inside help, credible findings of the inquiry report are yet to be made public.
The same opacity and determination to keep itself above the law has been demonstrated across various branches of the military time and again — whether it is the matter of forcibly disappeared people, or the catastrophic failure of intelligence in the Bin Laden affair.
What is needed is lot more openness, accountability and better screening techniques in the military, as well as an acknowledgement that the people of Pakistan are partners in the fight against terrorism, rather than adversaries to be kept at bay.

Pakistan: Three killed, 19 injured in Quetta blast

A blast near the Satellite Town area in Quetta on Saturday left three people dead and 19 others injured.
According to the police, unidentified men planted explosive material in a vehicle and detonated it via remote control. SSP Operations has reportedly said that 40 kilogrammes of explosives were used in the blast.
The injured were taken to a local hospital for medical treatment where hospital sources said that four of them were in critical condition.
Police and FC officials have cordoned off the area and further investigations are underway.

TTP poses significant threat in Pakistan, warns US counterterrorism agency

The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), a United States government agency responsible for national and international counterterrorism efforts, has reportedly told the U.S. Senate that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) remains a significant threat in Pakistan despite the military offensive launched by the Pakistani government in North Waziristan and the change in leadership last year.
While briefing the senate on issues of Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, NCTC Deputy Director Nicholas Rasmussen said on Wednesday that the attack on the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi that killed 30 showed the threat posed by the group inside the country, reported The Express Tribune.
The attack was claimed by the TTP.
He also said that the U.S. was constantly monitoring terrorist groups, networks, or individuals in Pakistan who are actively pursuing or have decided to incorporate operations outside of South Asia as a strategy to achieve their goals.