Saturday, September 20, 2014

Video - Noam Chomsky (2014) "Internet and Activism"

Video Report - Climate change rally held in India ahead of UN summit

Pakistan: 2 new Polio cases surface in Peshawar, Khyber Agency

Two new cases of Polio disease have surfaced in Peshawar and Khyber Agency. Despite efforts by the government, the deadly disease is constantly spreading and new cases are surfacing almost daily.
According to Ministry of Health, polio virus has been confirmed in 16-year-old Salma of Khyber Agency and 18-year-old Habiba of Peshawar. Sources claim that infected children did not receive anti-polio vaccine.
So far, 160 patients of the disease have been confirmed in Pakistan this year whereas the total number of polio cases till September 2013 was 49. Out of these 160 patients, 115 are form Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), 6 are from Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (KPK), 6 from Sindh and 2 each from Balochistan and Punjab.
After increasing number of polio cases in Pakistan, traveling restrictions were imposed on Pakistanis on the advice of international Monitoring Board in May 2014. Pakistani citizens cannot travel abroad without receiving Polio Vaccination Certificate. On the other hand, UNICEF report says that polio eradication mission has been unsuccessful to achieve its targets in Pakistan because of poor security situation of the country, lack of awareness and inaccessibility of some tribal areas.

Video - Persian Poetry - شعر "کوچه"... از زنده ياد فريدن مشيری

UAE citizens slam government policy of blocking websites

Emirati citizens have criticised their country's security authorities' repression of freedom of expression, the most recent of which is the government's decision to block dozens of websites.
The citizens said that recently the UAE came at the top of a list of Arab states that seek to gag their citizens, saying that although people do not exercise absolute freedom, through the internet, they can express their opinion and their suffering as well as discover the size of the deliberate marginalisation practices which the ruling regimes partake in against them. The Emirati regime prosecutes cyber activists and seeks to silence people in the real world and even in the virtual world. Observers said the UAE is considered one of the most prolific Arab states which strives to block everything that could have a negative impact on its citizens, noting that the Telecommunications Authority uses proxy servers to block websites claiming they violate Islamic law.
A recent survey by a Gulf newspaper revealed that 59.5 per cent of the participants do not support blocking websites and insist that they can exercise self-censorship, while 40.5 per cent of them supported the decision to preserve the society's customs and traditions.

Music - ZHU - Faded

China ; Xi's trip to central, south Asia opens new chapter for China's neighborhood diplomacy

Chinese President Xi Jinping returned to Beijing on Friday night after a trip to central and south Asia. Xi's state visits to Tajikistan, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and India, and his attendance at a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe, opened a new chapter for China's neighborhood diplomacy that features amity and cooperation, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters upon the end of the trip.
The Sept. 11-19 tour also charted a fresh course for the "One Belt and One Road" initiatives (the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road), he said.
All the four nations are pivot points of the "One Belt and One Road" with which China has historic ties and interwoven contemporary interests, and all of them hope to ride on the fast train of China's development to fulfill their own dreams, Wang said. Xi's trip to central and south Asia was aimed at bringing together the aspirations of countries in the region with the "One Belt and One Road" initiatives to pursue common prosperity and security, he added.
During the tour which spanned 9 days and included more than 70 events, Xi has conducted in-depth exchanges of opinions with national leaders and reached out to the general public of those countries.
The Chinese president also expounded China's policy, proposed new initiatives and witnessed the signing of cooperation agreements on a number of major projects.
The trip also made headlines in the world's leading news outlets, which agreed that it was an important visit with far-reaching influence for guiding the SCO's development and improving China's relations with the four nations and South Asia, according to Wang.
Facing the spillover effect of the Afghan issue and the rising threats of religious extremism and terrorism, it was a common wish for SCO member states and regional countries to jointly tackle the challenges and boost cooperation, Wang said. Founded in Shanghai in 2001, the SCO groups China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. At the SCO's Dushanbe summit, President Xi put forward new proposals to further develop the bloc under the new situation, which is the central theme of the gathering.
The SCO members, he suggested, should focus on combating religion-involved extremism and cyber-terrorism, continue to boost cooperation on law enforcement and security, and jointly crack down on the "three evil forces" of terrorism, extremism and separatism. Xi also suggested that the SCO member states adhere to the goal of common development and prosperity, while calling for more extensive and higher-level cooperation in trade and investment.
Moreover, he said SCO members need to comprehensively promote people-to-people exchanges, while urging the SCO to expand external exchanges and cooperation.
In addition, Xi said all member countries, observers and dialogue partners are welcome to vigorously participate in the building of the Silk Road Economic Belt and promote regional connectivity.
Xi's proposals are based on a careful study of global and regional situation, and are both future-oriented and pragmatic, Wang said.
Summit participants warmed up to those ideas and incorporated them into the final documents of the meeting, he said. In a joint declaration, the six SCO members pledged further concerted efforts to fight the "three evil forces", with the current focus on religious extremism and internet terrorism.
They also pledged to actively join the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt, conduct study on the feasibility of an SCO development fund and an SCO development bank, and coordinate closer on regional hotspot issues like Afghanistan. One of the major outcomes of the summit is the ratification of two documents that define the basic principles of membership enlargement, which demonstrated the bloc's openness, inclusiveness and appeal as well as its growing global clouts, Wang said.
Ahead of the summit, President Xi also held talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, and both sides decided to complement each other's advantages and boost cooperation on financial sector and major projects.
They also vowed to speed up the construction of the China-Russia west route natural gas pipeline and enhance coordination on major global issues.
On the sidelines of the summit, Xi also attended the first trilateral summit between China, Mongolia and Russia, during which he proposed to construct an economic corridor linking the three nations. The Chinese president also held separate talks with counterparts from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan, with broad consensus reached on expanding pragmatic cooperation between China and these nations.
China and India, as the world's two largest developing countries and emerging economies, enjoy a longtime friendship and are in a historic process of national rejuvenation, Wang said, adding that both have become important powers during the world's multi-polarization process. Chinese and Indian leaders decided to carry forward their friendship from both historic depths and comprehensive perspectives, and keep reciprocal cooperation as the constant theme of China-India relations.
During talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Xi noted that the harmonious coexistence, and peaceful, cooperative and inclusive development of the Chinese Dragon and the Indian Elephant will benefit the two nations, neighboring countries and the globe.
Modi said the two sides should constantly push forward their relationship in the spirit of "From Inch to Mile". Sharing such a view, both heads of states agreed to build a closer developmental partnership, deepen the cooperation within bilateral, regional and global frameworks. They also agreed to defend their common interests and other developing countries, and enhance the just and sound development of international politics and economic order.
They reaffirmed that both sides will properly manage and control the border disputes between the two nations, maintain peace and security in the border regions, and find a solution at an early date. President Xi's visit has propelled the development of China-India ties into a new historic phase. Indian leaders, including President Pranab Mukherjee, said the mutually-beneficial cooperation with China is vital to India if the latter wants to take advantages from Asia's development. They said India is ready to make joint efforts with China to achieve common development and prosperity. During the meetings with leaders of Tajikistan, Maldives and Sri Lanka, President Xi made, together with them, top-level design and strategic planning for further developing ties between China and these nations.
At the meetings, Xi also reiterated China's firm support for the three countries' choices of own political systems and development paths.
All the bilateral talks emphasized, among others issues, a pledge to back core interests and major concerns of each other's country, and a willingness to share the development experience and profits, according to Wang, the Chinese foreign minister. In India, Xi also delivered a speech on China's policy toward India and South Asia in the new era, expounding China's major measures to strengthen the cooperation with South Asian nations, while expressing the hope to realize common development and prosperity via the implementation of the "One Belt, One Road" initiatives.
Xi's four-country Asia trip highlighted the "One Belt and One Road" initiatives brought up by the Chinese president last year, according to Wang.
Xi proposed to closely knit China's competitive industries with the geographical features and the development needs of Tajikistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka and India, by building the "Silk Road Economic Belt" and the "21 Century Maritime Silk Road," Wang said. China signed more than 60 cooperative documents with the four countries during Xi's visit, Wang listed, adding that the countries have pledged active participation in constructing the "belt" and the "road," he said.
Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom hailed that the initiative more closely linked Asian nations with each other.
Noting that enhancing understanding between different peoples is an important part of the Chinese initiative, Wang said Xi reached consensus of high-degree with leaders of the destination countries in terms of enhancing cultural and people-to-people exchanges. Xi's wife, Peng Liyuan, visited schools and was ardent in promoting public welfare and conducting cultural exchanges during the trip, showcasing the charm of China in an unique way, the foreign minister said.
Talking about China's active neighborhood diplomacy, Wang said China cannot develop without a peaceful, stable and cooperative environment, and that China's development has brought significant cooperation opportunities for neighboring countries. Xi has visited 13 countries in Central, Southeast, Northeast and South Asia since he took office more than a year ago, where he expounded China's development targets, path and prospect, a reflection of the guidelines of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness in China's neighborhood diplomacy, Wang said.
Xi's endeavors combined the Chinese dream with the aspiration of the peoples of neighboring countries to live a good life and enhanced mutual understanding and mutually beneficial cooperation between China and these countries, Wang said. Wang pledged that his country would implement the fruitful results of Xi's Asia trip, as well as the "One Belt and One Road" initiative, which benefit not only China but also its neighbors.

Medvedev: Russia to Survive Unfavorable International Market Conditions

Though the international market conditions create a difficult situation for Russia, the country will withstand, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Saturday.
"The situation of the international financial market for our banks is unfavorable, almost all positions are barred from obtaining foreign liquidity, i.e. foreign funding," Medvedev said in an interview with Russian television channel Russia 24.
The prime minister stressed that "it was a judgment call by our European partners," adding, "We believe that it is pointless and just ugly in relation to Russia and we can live without this."
The new restrictions introduced on September 12 target Russia's largest banks, oil and defense companies, as well as certain individuals. The companies were denied access to the European capital markets, while a number of individuals were subject to entry bans and asset freezes.
Moscow has responded to previous rounds of Western sanctions with a one-year food ban that targets a range of products from the countries that implemented sanctions against Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed the country would retaliate with countermeasures but details have not yet been revealed.

Foreign fighter threat, Ebola outbreak to top Obama's agenda next week at United Nations

Associated Press
President Barack Obama will call on fellow world leaders next week to back a United Nations resolution calling on nations to stem the flow of foreign fighters joining terrorist organizations like the Islamic State, as the United States seeks to build legitimacy for its military campaign in Iraq and Syria, the White House said Friday.
At the annual U.N. General Assembly, Obama will also speak at a meeting about Ebola, chaired by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, where individual nations and the U.N. will announce new commitments to fight the outbreak in West Africa. Obama this week ordered 3,000 U.S. military personnel to the region to deal with the outbreak, and the U.S. is expecting other countries on Thursday to offer money, equipment and personnel, plus pledges to build treatment units for Ebola victims.
Topping the international community's agenda as world leaders gather in New York is the threat posed by Islamic State group extremists who have seized about one-third of Syria and Iraq. Obama is working to form a global coalition to confront the group, but many leaders in both the West and the Arab world have been reluctant to involve themselves publicly in the U.S.-led military effort.
Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice, said she expects unanimous approval in the U.N. Security Council for a resolution obligating member states to "prevent and deter" their citizens from traveling to war zones to join extremist groups. The resolution falls under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, meaning it can be enforced militarily.
Although the resolution doesn't authorize the U.S. military campaign against the Islamic State group, it could bolster the president's argument that there's broad international support for the effort. The White House has said it has the authority under existing U.S. law to carry out airstrikes in Syria but hasn't offered an explicit legal justification under international law.
"It will move the ball down the field in terms of the international legal architecture and obligations on states to try to combat this challenge," Rice said of the resolution.
While in New York, Obama on Tuesday will attend a U.N. summit on climate change aimed at building support for a global climate treaty to be finalized next year in Paris. He'll also discuss the need to strengthen civil society across the globe when he addresses the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative.
Obama also plans a series of bilateral meetings with foreign leaders on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

President Obama's Weekly Address: The World is United in the Fight Against ISIL

Afghanistan: Final vote results announcement confirmed for Sunday

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) has said that the final vote results announcement has been confirmed for Sunday, September 21st.
IEC spokesman, Noor Mohammad Noor said the final results for the runoff presidential will be released by election commission on Sunday. Noor had earlier said that the election commission expects to release the final vote results today.
The decision to announce the final vote results comes as presidential candidates Dr. Abdullah and Dr. Ashraf Ghani finalized an agreement to form a national unity government on Friday.
Release of final vote results, share of power and authorities of the chief executive are believed to be the main reasons prohibiting the conclusion of the controversial electoral process.
In the meantime, President Hamid Karzai has once again hosted the two candidates for talks on unity government.
Speaking during the commemoration ceremony of former president Burhanuddin Rabbani’s third death anniversary, President Karzai said he expects a good news for the Afghan people following his meeting with the two candidates.

Bilawal Bhutto pays tributes to Shaheed Mir Murtaza Bhutto
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Chairperson, Pakistan Peoples Party has paid glowing tributes to Mir Murtaza Bhutto Shaheed saying we lost this great hero to the conspiracy titled ‘Kill a Bhutto to get a Bhutto”.
In his message on the occasion of 18th Martyrdom Anniversary of Mir Murtaza Bhutto Shaheed being observed on Saturday, PPP Chairperson said his uncle spent his youthful life in exile in the struggle for restoration of democracy and end to the cruel dictatorial rule of Zia.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that the best way to pay tributes to the brave son of Pakistan is to carry on our struggle to strengthen the democratic system and lay foundation of a strong and vibrant Pakistan where upholding the rights of the masses stand protected as a matter of state principle.
He said that Bhuttos were wiped out by the dictatorial forces to crush the people’s aspiration for justice, human rights and equal opportunities. “But enemies failed as Martyr Bhuttos stand high as most adored heroes of democratic Pakistan,” he added.

Pakistan’s Baluchistan separatists demand Scots-style vote

Baluch separatist leaders on Friday called on Pakistan to follow in Britain’s footsteps by holding a referendum similar to Scotland’s on granting independence to the insurgency-wracked province.
Scots rejected independence in a vote that left the centuries-old United Kingdom intact despite a surge in nationalist support in the final fortnight of the campaign.
Asked whether a similar poll should be held in Baluchistan, Dr. Bashir Azeem, secretary-general of the outlawed Baloch Republican Party, told AFP: “The Baluch have been struggling against the excesses and tyranny of Punjab-dominated establishment of Pakistan for decades.”
Punjab is Pakistan’s most populous and influential province.
“If a fair referendum is conducted after creating an atmosphere for it, providing the opportunity to Baluch population for deciding their future, it is welcomed,” he added.
Resource-rich Baluchistan is the largest of Pakistan’s four provinces, but its roughly seven million inhabitants have long complained they do not receive a fair share of its gas and mineral wealth.
Rebels began their fifth insurgency against the state in 2004, with hundreds of soldiers and militants killed in the fighting.
But rights groups allege security forces are also responsible for picking up non-militant separatists, including academics and students, torturing them and dumping their bodies on the streets.
The current insurgency gained in intensity after the 2006 killing of 79-year-old Baluch leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, a revered figure for many rebels.
Azeem’s son Jamil Akbar Bugti said: “I stand for a free and fair referendum in Baluchistan under the United Nations. “Let Baluch people who are struggling for their independence decide their future whether they want to stay with (the) federation of Pakistan or break away.”
The desperately poor province is also riven by sectarian strife and Islamist violence in its northern Pashtun belt, with middle-class Baluch increasingly viewing independence as their only hope for a more liberal and secular state. Pakistan accuses neighboring India of funding and arming the rebels — a charge analysts believe is true and payback for Pakistan’s interference in Kashmir.


By Zahir Shah
Recent announcements by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) continue to show that the militant group is in disarray.
TTP chief Mullah Fazlullah September 7 expelled Umer Khalid Khurrasani on charges of conspiring against Afghan Taliban supreme commander Mullah Muhammad Omar and having links to shadow militant organisations.
The TTP’s announcement came weeks after Khurrasani left the group. On August 26, he announced his decision to leave and to form a splinter group, Jamatul Ahrar.
A rift among the TTP commanders regarding the group’s ideology and accusations of some commanders’ misuse of TTP funds caused them to leave, he said in a video sent to Central Asia Online and posted to social media.
Jamatul Ahrar claims to have support from other like-minded commanders in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Malakand Division.
The future of TTP, splinter groups
Analysts have provided a great deal of insight on how the split happened and what it means for the TTP and its splinter groups. None of the implications is positive for the TTP, they said.
The rift resulted from the military’s counter-insurgency Operation Zarb-e-Azb, Others attribute it to infighting within the TTP, as seen in local commanders fighting in South Waziristan.
The open allegations against each other clearly show the feuding commanders had an open ideological divide, defence analyst Gen. (ret.) Talat Masood said.
“They are now openly accusing each other of deviating from their true ideology, which has caused their internal destruction,” he said. “It’s no doubt a serious blow.”
Rift helps authorties
Authorities stand to benefit from the rift, FATA security secretary Brig. (ret.) Mehmood Shah said, because the break-up has created loosely-organised groups of militants whom troops can easily hunt down, he explained.
It also has weakened militants operationally, he said, adding that, once the Mehsud and Sajna factions began fighting, they denied each other shelter.
Fazlullah himself has less freedom to act because he faces a challenge from Khurrasani as well, Shah added.
And enmity between Khurrasani, a key commander, and Fazlullah will result in more infighting between the Swat Taliban and Bajaur-Mohmand Taliban group, University of Peshawar political scientist A. Z. Hilali said, noting that the only safe route for militants to the Swat Valley must pass through tribal areas under the command of Khurrasani.
The ouster of Khurrasani means the actual TTP led by Fazllullah is now on the decline because it has a new, tough enemy, Hilali said. “It’s likely the [militants] may engage in a bloody war.”

Pakistan's Shia Genocide: Shia Banker Shot Martyred After Family Attacked In Karachi
Takfiri terrorists of banned Sipah-e-Sahaba (ASWJ) have shot martyred a Shia official of a private commercial bank in the presence of his children in district central of Karachi on Friday morning.
Naeem Abbas son of Saqib ul Hassan embraced martyrdom when notorious takfiri terrorists pumped bullets into his head near Baara Market in Surjani Town Sector 5-C/1. Martyr was accompanied by his children who, it is believed, he was going to drop them to school. Body of the martyr was taken to a government hospital for medico-legal purpose.
Reports had it that the body was being shifted to Imam Bargah Shohda-e-Karbala where his namaz-e-janaza will be held after Maghrib-Isha prayers. Martyr was 45 year old officer of a private commercial bank.
Shia parties and leaders condemned the targeted murder of another Shia professional. They demanded capital punishment to his killers. They reiterated their demand for military operation to eliminate the Yazidi takfiri nasbi terrorists.

Pakistan : Nawaz speech - Nothing New

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech during the joint parliament session on Friday contained nothing new or noteworthy. It was a rather long monologue lamenting the unreasonableness of anti-government protestors coupled with praises for all those who stand by the government. The PM was right in highlighting flaws in the PTI’s case and standing his ground, but contributing nothing more on top of that was in error.
Plenty of similar speeches have been made since the joint session commenced. The people have heard enough about all that the PTI-PAT duo is doing wrong and everyone else is doing right. They acknowledge that the parliament has set a good example by putting up a united front against those working against it, but this never-ending self-congratulatory rhetoric is beginning to have a nauseating effect. Is there really nothing more that the government and others in parliament have to offer on the subject? Granted that the PTI and the PAT are doing nothing to make the PM’s job any easier, but surely that is nothing shockingly surprising. At the end of the day, it is the government which is responsible for ending the sit-ins. There is nothing one can take from the PM’s speech which would give so much as a hint about how his government plans to proceed. For now, it appears that the waiting game will continue.
The PM’s speech also failed to address the serious criticism leveled against himself and his cabinet by allies and foes alike. Apparently, the PM doesn’t feel the need to defend his government’s performance during the last 14 months, the same way he didn’t find it necessary to attend parliamentary sessions prior to the march on Islamabad. So many questions have been asked, many of them reasonable, and the PM answered none of them. He may be satisfied and convinced, but many aren’t. By not so much as commenting on issues of governance, the PM only strengthens the case of protestors. It makes the government appear arrogant and aloof which in no way helps its cause.
The PML-N government would do well to understand that it’s old style of governance and general disregard for democratic principles will no more be acceptable to the masses. They expect better, and they expect it now. It will have to mend its ways or it will gradually lose support. Is it ready to rise to the challenge or will the spotlight on it only serve to expose more ills?

Pakistan: Flood warning fiasco

IT did not have to be this way. This is the fourth major flood to have hit Pakistan since 2010, and in each case the cause has been heavy rains.
The first flood alert issued this year by the Pakistan Meteorological Department was on the morning of Sept 3, more than three days before the arrival of the flood peak at the Marala headworks on the Chenab, where the river enters Pakistan from India.
That same evening, a meeting was convened by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to discuss flood preparation plans, with almost the entire government machinery present, including the chief secretary. But the Federal Flood Commission seems to have taken its time waking up to the flood alert. Its first record of a meeting since the alert was issued is on Sept 6, by which point the flood peak of 900,000 cusecs was only hours away from the Marala headworks.
Moreover, a report published in this paper detailed how the various government bodies, led by the FFC, preferred bickering over turf when they should have been coordinating their response. It appears the country has learned no major lessons from the previous three flood episodes, preferring to act only once disaster has struck.
More distressing is the lack of effort going into flood forecasting. Our forecasting models are designed to anticipate the arrival of rains more for crop management than for flood warning. The Met Department did issue an advisory of a low pressure system forming over Rajasthan as early as Aug 28, but its technology and models could only warn of “scattered thundershowers with heavy to very heavy [rain]falls in isolated places in the upper catchments of rivers Ravi, Sutlej and Chenab” as late as Sept 2.
The flood alert was issued the following day, which turned into a flood warning on Sept 4, only two days before the flood peak arrived. Yet today, meteorological models exist that can provide up to 10 days of flood warning with very high probability. Bangladesh has been using such a system successfully for almost a decade now, which has on two occasions given accurate forecasts of floods 10 days in advance.
Yet more troubling are the things being said in some places. Describing the floods as an “Indian water bomb” plumbs the lowest depths of ignorance. Instead of pointing fingers at India, what is needed is a serious approach for sharing of meteorological and hydrological data to enable more accurate forecasting.
Better coordination amongst government departments is also critical. Currently, it is not clear who has the responsibility to coordinate the response once a flood alert has been issued. The Met Department ought to take better advantage of the latest scientific knowhow to upgrade its forecasting capabilities. With this being the fourth flood in recent years, it’s a travesty that none of this has yet been done.

Pakistan : The absent writ

— D Asghar
The entire world is watching our demise as a sensible, law abiding and law obeying society at the hands of a ruthless, senseless and utterly crazy mob.
Historians will not be very kind to Imran Khan and Mr Qadri for what they have done to the political culture of this Godforsaken country. In the guise of freedom and revolution, what has been exercised and glorified will come to haunt these characters, should they ever realise their dreams of occupying the Prime Minister’s House. In short, hooliganism is the order of the day and anarchy is the new face of new age democracy in the so-called ‘new Pakistan’. What lies ahead will be relatively similar to the ideology of the Taliban. Tolerance was never in the reservoirs of those warriors and these revolutionaries are following in their footsteps by demonstrating their brutal anger in a relatively similar fashion. The world has seen images of police officers being beaten by mobsters armed with sticks and uniformed, armed servicemen just standing by witnessing their ruthlessness. Perhaps I am making an argument of double standards here when it comes to obeying the writ of the state. The lens of the camera is capturing all of this for the rest of the world. These container-bound revolutionaries have even openly threatened civilian law enforcement personnel. I humbly beg both Mr Qadri and Khan to try this in front of 10 Downing Street or in front of President Obama’s official residence to witness how the writ of the state is established without fail by uniformed policemen within minutes. All this noise is to basically challenge and erode the writ of this state. Speaking of that four letter word ‘writ’, one is painfully reminded of how a former general established it not very long ago in the same capital. No one is implying that this government must take its cues from that ugly episode, though it is part of our glorious history and engraved in our collective memories.
We constantly hear that our elected government is handling the current standoff with immense restraint and patience. Agreed, well and good, but it is at a very hefty cost. The entire world is watching our demise as a sensible, law abiding and law obeying society at the hands of a ruthless, senseless and utterly crazy mob. The thrust of the project being carried out by the firebrand leaders is to instil this as part of regular imagery so the rest of the world can determine that it is dealing with a weak, impotent and toothless prime minister. What irony that a prime minister who holds a comfortable majority and has his opponents in parliament watching his back, is totally backed into a corner. I hope I am seriously mistaken but I had expressed my unrestrained criticism on this farcical process of negotiations on Twitter. The government’s mouthpieces brag that five out of six demands made by Khan have been accepted and that there are modalities that are being ironed out. To confuse matters a tad, there is an opposition jirga (council) playing a facilitative role as well. I know I am a very poor and inexperienced political observer but does anyone honestly think that it takes this long to reach any sort of logical conclusion? It almost seems like both parties know what the actual conclusion is and both are trying to buy as much time as possible.
One has to honestly question the state of mind of the besieged premier. Yes, it is understandable that he is a victim, yes he has sympathy and yes the people challenging him have crossed all lines of decency. His mouthpieces use all kinds of flowery language to express their dismay about how the poor prime minister has been paralysed by certain anti-democratic forces. I know I am not very bright and perhaps not so well versed in politically correct jargon but in my very humble opinion, he basically has three options. The first is to have a face to face with both his adversaries and have a heart to heart conversation. Rather than going through everyone and their mother-in-law as an interlocutor and facilitator, the premier should just break the ice himself, use an unannounced visit to offer a handshake himself and break this deadlock. If he is unable to stoop to the level of the mischievous duo, he must man up and exercise the writ of the state, not by bullets but exhibiting that there is presence of law and order in the capital. Anyone who practices violence is met with the strong arm of the law. If the revolutionaries try to turn that situation to gain political point scoring then let the media expose their duplicity. No one, whether rich or poor, should be able to raise their hand on uniformed law enforcement personnel, whether civilian or military.
If this solution is too much for the prime minster to bear then he has one final option left. If he has an ounce of dignity left in him to handle matters then he should dust off his suit, come on national television and have a heart to heart talk with the nation. He should expose all the hidden hands that have tied his hands and made him a laughing stock in front of the world. The state and its writ are far more important than a challenged premier or two unreasonable bozos. If the argument of not caving under pressure because it will set a poor precedent holds any water, then our respected prime minister has set another dangerous precedent by his inaction. I repeat: the writ or its semblance is far more important than any individual.

Pakistan: Another victim of blasphemy accusation

There are times when one is reminded of how brutal and inhumane a society we have become. The latest murder in a long series of such cruelties is that of Muhammad Shakil Auj, a liberal religious scholar who was also the dean of Islamic Studies in the University of Karachi. He was gunned down on Thursday by the all too familiar 'unidentified' motorcyclists who have, unsurprisingly, escaped. The news of the murder of Professor Auj has been received like a kick in the gut by all sane Pakistanis who are appalled that a man of such high esteem could be done away with in so coldblooded a manner. Mr Auj was, it turns out, in fear for his life as he had been accused by four other professors working in the same university of having made blasphemous remarks during a speech he delivered in the US in 2012. His fears have come tragically true but his death is by no means the first of its kind and, unfortunately, it will probably not be the last.
That is because we live in a country where a rabid kind of fanaticism has been allowed to fester and grow, right into the rotting heart of the system. The blasphemy laws of this country have seen many innocent men and women suffer unimaginable atrocities because there exist no safeguards for their protection and vindication. If one is accused of having committed blasphemy, it is as good as a death sentence. The crazed lynch mobs that are easily flared up as soon as a blasphemy accusation makes its way out of the woodwork have shown their ghastly work when they burn down entire residential colonies targeting members of a minority community and when they shoot down people who have done no one any harm, on a mere hunch. Even those who stand up for the rights of those unjustly accused are killed as was Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer and Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti. The growing religiosity in our society has turned into a bloody shade of fanaticism where one is guilty until proven innocent of blasphemy, for which the accused never are given a chance.
It has become obvious that any talk of repealing the black blasphemy laws will stir up a hornets’ nest. We are so helplessly afraid of the extremism shaping our society that we hesitate even to inculcate any safeguards in the blasphemy laws to protect those falsely accused, including the minorities who are often the victims. Those who wrongfully accuse must be dealt with harshly and mobs and those who take the law into their own hands must be administered swift punishment. This genocide in the name of blasphemy must stop.

Video Report - PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto in Multan

Bilawal visits Multan-20 Sep 2014 by GeoNews