Thursday, October 9, 2014

Music Video - MC Hammer - U Can't Touch This

Madonna - Justify My Love

Music - Michael Jackson - Beat It

Music Video - Beyoncé - Green Light

Beyoncé - Broken-Hearted Girl

Music Video - Tove Lo - Habits (Stay High)

Music Video - Hilary Duff - All About You

Music Video - Bea Miller - Young Blood

Video Report - Russia catches up with US nuclear arms

Video - Suspected Ebola cases mount in Europe as virus fears grow

Video - What Americans actually know about ISIS

Video - Turkish Kurds clash with police, angry over Kobani

Video - New #MH17 crash details revealed

President Obama Begins a 2-Day LA Visit

Video - Moment of Sanaa suicide blast caught on camera

Video Report - Islamic State seizes large areas of Kobani

It's Time for Turkey to Stop Denying that ISIS Is a Threat

Earlier this week Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that the strategic Syrian town of Kobani is on the verge of falling to the forces of the Islamic State, the group formerly known ISIS. "I am telling the West -- dropping bombs from the air will not provide a solution," Erdogan said during a visit on Tuesday to the border town of Gaziantep. "The terror will not be over ... unless there is cooperation for a ground operation."
He's probably right. Yet the statement was somewhat ironic coming from Erdogan, since it's Turkey that's been notably reluctant to assist such an operation. As the fighting around Kobani continued, Turkish troops watched calmly from their side of the border as IS tanks swarmed into the outskirts of the town. (The photo above shows Turkish Kurds watching the attack on Kobani near the Turkey-Syria border on Oct. 9.) The Turks actively prevented Kurdish forces from reinforcing their hard-pressed troops who are now holding out against the IS assault. Turkey's partners in the anti-IS coalition were undoubtedly bemused by the spectacle.
So why is Turkey holding back from unleashing its formidable military against the Islamic State? Until last month, Ankara explained its reluctance by its fear for safety of the 46 Turkish diplomats held by the Islamic State. But now that the hostages have been released -- apparently, some observers believe, in exchange for the handover of IS militants held by Turkey -- that excuse has fallen away. The reality is that the roots of Turkish ambivalence toward the Islamic State go much deeper.
To begin with, Turks have for a long time viewed IS militants as relatively less horrible than the regime in Damascus. While other countries tend to see Syrian President Bashar Assad as the "lesser of two evils," Turkish officials regard him as the biggest, the man responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands Syrians (not to mention scores of Turks).
From the very early stages of the Syrian crisis, Erdogan and his colleagues have stated that Ankara intended to stick to "the right side of the history" -- meaning uncompromising opposition to Assad and support for anyone who promised to topple him, up to and including the Islamic State and al Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra. Erdogan was not motivated here solely by moral objections to Assad's misdeeds: He was also acting according to hubris, namely his own belief in what he regards as Ankara's capacity to shape the Middle East as it sees fit. Turkey's Sunni bias may also account for a certain degree of sympathy to IS and other Sunni extremists.
There is another factor, little noted in the West, that looms especially large in Turkish calculations: the Kurdish issue. It plays a major role in defining Turkey's approach to Syria. Turkish officials worry that developments in Syria and Iraq could not only overturn Turkey's peace process with its own Kurdish population but also lead to the emergence of an independent Kurdistan. These scenarios pose a mortal challenge for Ankara. As President Erdogan recently said: "For us [Turkey], the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) is the same as ISIS. It is wrong to consider them as different from each other." The Turkish government's refusal to differentiate between the Kurds and IS fighters may now be breaking down, though. Some Turkish citizens are now taking to the streets in desperate, even violent protests to demand that the government help Kurdish forces in Syria to fight IS. Rather than acknowledging those demands, however, the Turkish government has chosen to focus on the violence of some of the protests, imposing curfews in several cities.
Another factor that distinguishes Turkish attitudes toward the Islamic State from those of the West is the refugee crisis. Two years ago, then-Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu famously predicted that Assad would lose power within weeks. He also said that Turkey would be able to accept no more than 100,000 refugees before it would have to take drastic action. Today Assad is still in power, and Turkey is hosting two million refugees. The U.S.-led airstrikes have triggered a new inflow of people fleeing the war: almost 100,000 Syrians have fled to Turkey as of Sept. 23. The refugees are not only a huge burden on the Turkish economy, but are also tearing at the country's social fabric. In many towns the influx of Syrian refugees has brought serious demographic changes, triggering conflicts between the locals and the refugees.
There's also the question of whether Turkey has been offering more active support to the Islamic State. Critics have blamed the Turkish authorities for allowing foreign fighters to pass through the country on their way to join IS fighters in Syria. Ankara, in its turn, accuses the West -- in particular the European countries -- of hypocrisy. Turkish officials argue that the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, and Belgium, whose citizens have joined the Islamic State by traveling through Turkey, had declined until recently to give the names of suspected militants to the Turks, citing freedom of travel. The Turks complain that these countries have allowed known IS recruits to fly into Turkey, then ask the Turks to seize them once it's too late.
Yet the reality is that the Islamic State poses a more serious and direct security threat to Turkey than to the West. Despite the current government's sympathy to political Islam, Turkey has never really experienced a significant jihadist presence at home before the group's rise. Now, the Islamic State is not only on the border, its members are becoming increasingly active within Turkey itself. In July, several hundred IS supporters gathered for Eid prayers in Istanbul's Omerli district, where they prayed that "all holy warriors engaged in the jihad hit their targets." Everyone in Turkey now realizes the seriousness of the IS threat, and Turkish leaders are moving to join the West. Prime Minister Davutoglu has said Turkey would be willing to send ground troops into Syria if the other allies do their part against the Assad regime and the Islamic State. At the same time, Turkish leaders do not want to be seen as the "servant" of the United States, but want to determine Turkey's own role in the process. And Turkey is insisting that the West offer a comprehensive plan for Syria that targets Assad, not just the Islamic State.
Some Westerners, along with Syrian Kurds, claim that Turkey has been supporting IS militants more directly. The Turkish government rejects those claims vehemently. Ankara blames the West for failing to develop a proper strategy on Syria, former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for practicing the worst kind of sectarian politics, and the United States for withdrawing its occupation forces from Iraq in a way that has reduced the country to chaos. The problem with all this is that blaming the West or the sectarian policies of the former Iraqi prime minister will not keep Turkey safe. Even though they may not condone its methods, many Turks -- including, presumably, many of the governing AK Party's voters -- may believe that the Islamic State represents legitimate Sunni grievances. Right now the Turkish government is focused above all on protecting the security of its borders. But the presence of IS militants inside Turkey, and the possibility of deepening sectarian and ethnic conflict, constitute threats of a potentially far more destructive character.
While some Westerners may hype the threats posed by the Islamic State to the United States and Europe, Turkey clearly has not been taking them seriously enough. Ankara may not be willing to pick sides in the fight between ISIS and the Kurds, but eventually it may have to -- even if that means abandoning decades-long state policy on the Kurdish question. The time has come for Turkey to stop scolding its allies and to act to prevent the fall of Kobani.

Should Turkey be thrown out of NATO?

Once again Turkey has proved to be America’s, and NATO’s, least reliable “ally.”
When the United States and NATO asked Turkey to help prevent a humanitarian disaster in Kobani, near its border, Turkey once again sat on its hands. The reason is obvious. The leaders of Turkey would like to see as many Kurds as possible massacred.
The Kurds of Turkey, Syria and Iraq have been seeking an independent state far longer than the Palestinians, and with a much stronger basis in law, diplomacy, morality and ethnic identity. Historically, the Turks have always had an answer to those who seek independence – massacre.
The Turks massacred the Armenians, though they still deny complicity in this well-documented genocide. Indeed they have made it a crime to admit that Turkey committed genocide against the Armenians. Now the Turks are facilitating the massacre of another one of their enemies, the Kurds. As one Kurd aptly put it: “They don’t want to help what they say is their enemy. That is why it is in Turkey’s favor that Kobani falls to ISIS.”
Even before this recent treachery, the Turkish government refused to allow NATO forces landing rights and other passive logistical support in the war against Islamic State, that is ISIS. What good is an “ally” when that ally refuses to help during times of crisis.
The Turks have also turned viciously against Israel, America’s most reliable ally in the area, using as an excuse that Israeli soldiers and sailors defended themselves against potentially lethal attacks by Turkish citizens, some of whom turned out to be terrorists, who were illegally trying to break an entirely lawful Israeli naval blockade of Gaza, designed to prevent importation of Hamas rockets. The president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, used anti-Semitic tropes in his election campaign and has turned his country against Israel, which had previously been an important political and military ally of the nation-state of the Jewish people. The egomaniacal Erdogan demands abject apologies – from US Vice President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – even when no apology is warranted. Then, after receiving the apologies, he breaks his words and persists in his bad ways.
But it is Turkey’s adamant refusal to satisfy its obligations as a NATO partner that has infuriated the Obama administration and American allies. This is the way one senior official in the Obama administration put it: “There’s growing angst about Turkey dragging its feet to act to prevent a massacre, less than a mile from its border.
After all the fulminating about Syria’s humanitarian catastrophe, they’re inventing reasons not to act to avoid another catastrophe. This isn’t how a NATO ally acts when hell is unfolding a stone’s throw from their border.”
Experts opine that Erdogan is holding the civilians of Kobani hostage in an effort to extort concessions from the United States and from Kurdish leaders. If his demands are not met, he will allow Islamic State to massacre thousands of Kurds. And massacre they will. There are 12,000 civilians in Kobani, which has been called “a bastion of democracy and secularism.” If the city is taken by Islamic State, it is likely that its residents will be put to the choice of conversion or death – if they are lucky. Other captured Kurds were not given any choice. They were simply beheaded or shot.
If Erdogan seem like a poor-man’s Vladimir Putin, it is because the Turkish autocrat has tried to model himself on the Russian autocrat. Both have become immensely popular at home by their take-no-prisoners, confrontational approach to foreign policy. They don’t give a damn what the world thinks of them or their tactics, while they hypocritically lecture other nations for not complying with standards and rules that they defy.
The only reason Turkey remains in NATO – and the reason it was admitted in the first place to an organization with “North Atlantic” origins – was its strategic location and powerful army. But these strengths have not been shared with their NATO allies, so of what benefit are they? There is, of course, another country in the region with a strategic location and a strong army that is a reliable ally of the United States, and would be a reliable ally of NATO.
That nation would never refuse an American request to help it defeat Islamic State or to help it prevent a humanitarian catastrophe. That nation is Israel, which has never been offered membership in NATO. The substitution of Israel for Turkey as NATO’s reliable ally in the region, would be a win-win. But don’t hold your breath.


Music - Pashto saaz Rabab and sitar

Pakistani Sunni Insurgents Step Up Attacks in Iran

Sunni insurgents in Pakistan increased attacks on Iranian border posts in the southeast of the country this week, employing methods similar to those used by Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.
In one instance, a car bomber struck a fortified base near the city of Saravan, killing one senior officer and prompting Iranian commanders and politicians Thursday to call upon Pakistan to control its borders. On Tuesday, three police officers were killed in an ambush after responding to a distress call.
These were only the latest in a series of attacks. Last month, insurgents rammed a vehicle laden with more than 1,000 pounds of explosives into one of the outer walls of a central base before launching a surprise attack with a convoy of pickup trucks carrying 70 insurgents, a senior military official told the Fars news agency this week.
The official, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Pakpur of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, said the attackers had been repelled only after a long firefight and the arrival of reinforcements, helicoptered in from other bases.
The Iranian-Pakistan border cuts straight through the Sunni tribal area of Baluchistan, which has been volatile for the past 15 years. In the past decade more than 3,000 Iranian border guards have been killed in gun battles with drug-smuggling gangs, but in recent years the fighting has grown more sectarian.
A Sunni extremist group, Jaish ul-Adl, or the Army of Justice, has been carrying out a program of harassment, derailing trains and conducting assassinations and bombings. It demands independence, but Iran has accused its leaders of working for the United States and Saudi Arabia.
In a statement published on Edaalat News, a blog said to be run by Jaish ul-Adl militants, the group took responsibility for the attack on the police officers. “The Jaish ul-Adl organization hereby informs the public that the fighters of Baluchistan have attacked Saravan’s Aspich base located 10 kilometers away from Saravan and killed two staff and a conscript,” it said. "Details will be announced later.”
In recent months Iran has directed a lot of its resources to the protection of its western and eastern borders. The attack on the border post in the south, basically a well-defended fort in the middle of nowhere, is not the first. In 2013, “bandits” killed 20 border guards, Iranian officials announced, saying that in retaliation they had executed 16 Sunni extremist prisoners held on death row.
Iranian officials are now warning Pakistan that they are considering going into its territory on hot-pursuit missions. “The Pakistani government has practically no control over the border areas, and if they really cannot control the common border, they should tell us so that we ourselves can take action,” Esma’il Kowsari, a leading lawmaker, told the Tasmin news agency on Thursday.

Afghan Music : Ahmad Zahir - Khuda Bowad Yaret

US senators drag UN into Indo-Pak conflict
U.S. Senators Timothy Kaine and Angus King said they are “concerned” over the rising tensions at the India-Pakistan Line of Control.
Speaking to journalists in New Delhi on Thursday, the senators raised some eyebrows by also suggesting that the United Nations could play a “bigger role” in the conflict. “I welcome the comments of the U.N. Secretary General calling for diplomatic efforts and dialogue to end the worrying situation between India and Pakistan,” said Mr. King, referring to a statement from U.N. Secretary General’s spokesperson Stephanie Dujarric asking India and Pakistan to “resolve their issues”.
While the U.N. Secretary General stuck to India’s stated position on a bilateral resolution to the LoC with Pakistan, the U.S. Senators may have stepped out of line by calling for a greater role in the dispute, adding “As a promoter of peaceful resolution of disputes the U.N. does a good job and in that sense their participation should be welcomed.”
Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Kaine said he also welcomed Prime Minister Modi’s statement that a resolution would be found “very soon” and called it “very encouraging”.
Senator Kaine said his visit to India, including meeting defence officials and visiting Mumbai to interact with businessmen had given them an “opportunity to better understand India’s concerns”. Just before visiting India, Mr. Kaine had also met with Pakistan’s Ambassador to US Jalil Jilani.
According to an official statement quoted in Pakistani papers, Mr. Kaine “appreciated Pakistan’s efforts to address terrorism, and assured of US support for peace and stability in the region.”

Analyst: 'Pakistan is likely testing Modi's resolve'

Thousands have fled their homes in the disputed region of Kashmir as Indian and Pakistani troops keep up their cross-border firing. The rising tensions stem in part from a recent breakdown in talks, says Sumit Ganguly.
Indian and Pakistani troops continued to exchange heavy fire over their border in the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir on Wednesday, October 8, leading to the death of five more civilians. The area, claimed in its entirety by the nuclear-armed neighbors, has been the scene of some of the most intense fighting between the two countries in years, with both sides trading accusations of targeting civilians and violating a border truce. A total of nine Pakistani and eight Indian civilians have been killed since fighting erupted more than week ago, according to media reports.
India and Pakistan have fought two wars over the territory which is currently divided along a disputed border, known as the Line of Control (LoC). The latest outbreak of hostilities comes after New Delhi called off peace talks with Islamabad last month following Pakistan's consultation with Indian Kashmiri separatist leaders.
Sumit Ganguly, India expert and professor of Political Science at the Indiana University Bloomington says in a DW interview that while the current escalation is a reflection of the current state of bilateral ties, it is unlikely that the cross-border shelling will escalate into a major conflict as both sides seem aware of the enormous human and material cost this would have.
DW: Who do you believe is responsible for the latest flare-up of violence along the border?
Sumit Ganguly: It is hard to apportion blame. However, I suspect that it stems from the recent breakdown in talks between the two countries.
Pakistani and Indian troops are said to regularly exchange fire along the disputed border. What are the main reasons behind this?
Simply stated because a cease-fire agreement has long expired, Pakistan's military is probably ramping up for renewed hostilities as it turns its gaze eastwards given the impending withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan. It is also, in all likelihood, testing the resolve of the Modi government.
What impact will the latest ceasefire violations have on the ties between the two countries?
Not much. Relations are already at fairly low ebb. There were hopes of a thawing in ties following Modi's invitation to Sharif to attend his inauguration as prime minister in May.
But after that the peace talks between the two countries were canceled as Abdul Basit, the Pakistani ambassador to India, chose to invite Kashmiri separatists on the eve of the talks despite a clear injunction from New Delhi not to do so.
What are the chances of such violations escalating into a major conflict?
I doubt that it will escalate as both sides are well aware of the costs thereof. The costs would be both human and material and would be worse for Pakistan given the dire state of its economy, its internal disorder and its lack of substantial external supporters barring China and Saudi Arabia. Even the Chinese may have second thoughtsabout supporting Islamabad.
How do these flare-ups affect the lives of people living along the border?
It all depends on how close their villages are located near the Line of Control. Newspaperreports from both sides of the border indicate that civilian lives have been lost in these recent skirmishes. Sadly, periodic flare ups have become part of their lives.
What measures should be taken by the two South Asian nations to avoid such ceasefire violations?
Frankly, any such process would not be symmetric. In India, the military cannot take initiatives along the border of its own accord. The same is, however, not true in Pakistan. Despite the presence of a democratically elected, civilian government in Pakistan, the military remains first amongst equals. It has in the past and still continues to enjoy considerable leeway in determining Pakistan's foreign and security policies and especially as they apply to India.In the absence of external pressure on Pakistan or a robust Indian response, these provocations are likely to continue.

India Warns Pakistan On Cross-Border Kashmir Attacks

Indian Defense Minister Arun Jaitley has accused Pakistan of making unprovoked attacks on Indian-controlled Kashmir and has warned that further violence could lead to heavy retaliation.
Speaking in New Delhi on October 9, Jaitley said: “If Pakistan persists with this adventurism, then our forces will continue to fight,” and the cost to Pakistan would be “unaffordable.”
At least nine Pakistani and eight Indian civilians have been killed by cross-border shelling during the past week along a 200-kilometer stretch of the Line of Control that separates Indian and Pakistani-administered Kashmir.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars over the Muslim-majority territory since the end of British colonial rule on the subcontinent in 1947.
Indian-administered Kashmir is to hold elections in December and Kashmir’s status – divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both countries – is a volatile issue.


By Brigadier Arun Sahgal, PhD (Retd)
Insecure Pakistan in the backdrop of US withdrawal from Afghanistan is faced with twin dilemma of international marginalization as part of fast receding regional relevance further marred by growing internal turbulence and political instability, and deteriorating economy.
These fears are heightened by India’s rapidly developing economy, political stability and fast paced modernization of its armed forces resulting in growing international status and standing. For Pakistani military fed on the belief as Christian Fair puts it ‘accepting the status quo with India is a defeat, such a scenario is an anathema that it is loathe to accept. This ideological perspective is important and remains the driver that is forcing the Pakistani Army in taking calculated military risks as a manifestation of its continued struggle which it must continue and persevere, if it is not to accept defeat. According to Fair this behaviour of Pakistan is a result of it being fundamentally a dis-satisfied state which seeks to increase its prestige, through spread of its ideology and religion in pursuit of its revisionist policies.
Pakistani Insecurity
Seen in the above context Pakistan’s attempts to hot up the LoC with unprovoked firing is an attempt to breach the status quo and to persevere with ‘India threat’ syndrome. The question is what are the larger strategic motivations for provoking India?
Firstly, Pakistan looks upon itself as an incomplete state whose political, economic and security ambitions have been thwarted by it being used as a pawn in the great game played largely on the American behest. As a consequence it finds itself both economically and internally unstable and on the verge of being a failed state. Furthermore the political entities in Pakistan believe that this state of play has allowed the military to gain an upper hand in civil military relations dynamics effectively undermining all attempts to build strong political and economic institutions that would have helped 186 million Pakistani’s to come out of their perpetual poverty. There is a sense of envy not only against its larger neighbour India but other SAARC countries such as Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, who are relative economic success stories.
Pakistani military on the other hand believes; it is the inept political class and their personal ambitions together with the machinations of the great ‘Satan’ the United States which responsible for the deplorable state of affairs in the country. Support to radical forces, involvement in Afghanistan and support to terrorist elements to fight proxy war are all underwritten as ‘just cause’ as also the perfidy to bleed India through thousand cuts. Nuclear weapons are seen as the crown jewels that provide Pakistani state security from any Indian misadventure in the backdrop of growing conventional asymmetry. Pakistani military believes that nuclear umbrella provides impunity from executing successful proxy war against India
With fractious political structure and growing threats to the nationals security and mind set of being cornered from multiple directions Army believes that it is the only coherent and capable instrument of the state that can meet the multiple challenges and threats that the country faces. Hence despite democratic pretensions Pakistan remains a country under military siege with largely blurred democratic pretensions.
This scenario for Pakistan is hugely exacerbated by politically stable and rapidly developing India, fast emerging as an important regional and global actor. What is worse is that developing India could in the medium run become economically and militarily as strong as to practically create an unbridgeable asymmetry in comprehensive national power. Further in Pakistani perception if the power gap is allowed to grow it could lead to great internal turbulence resulting in the country’s balkanisation given the dilemma of internal insurgencies in Baluchistan, FATA and instabilities in Karachi, Sind embers of which are heating up Southern Punjab as well.
Why Continued Firing along the LoC
Within the above backdrop firing along the LoC has three possible manifestations. At one level it is an attempt to keep pressure on Kashmir and create insecurity along the border by the combined nexus of Pak Army, ISI, the terrorists under the UJC supported by the separatists in the J&K. Aim is to keep the status quo in flux. By putting stories of great efforts by Pakistani Army to thwart Indian armies nefarious designs an attempt is being made at national mobilisation under trying and highly unstable political situation at home. It is also to gain public sympathy and support for the army providing it greater flexibility in flawed civil – military relations. In short it is an orchestrated plan by the Army in support of which it is quite capable of provoking India and even escalating to achieve its objectives. Pakistani army believes that it can take such a risk of escalation in the back drop of its effective nuclear capability.
Second is the “K” factor. Over the last few years there has been perceptible decline in militancy and cross border terrorism. Kashmiri separatist leaders like Gilani either too old or Mirwaiz Umar Farookh too weak to sustain the so called separatist struggle, other leaders like, Yasin malik and Shabir Shah are attempting to pick the gauntlet but have yet to establish their credibility.
It is in this milieu Pakistan is now trying to revamp its entire apparatus in the Kashmir valley, with eye on the forthcoming elections (likely to be postponed to Mar – Apr 2015 owing to floods). This is being done by attempting to induct as many as possible of the nearly 1000 militant cadres reported to be waiting to infiltrate across the LoC. What is worrisome for Pakistani handlers is that militancy and terrorist strikes are not providing any tangible results, or attempts to exploit post floods anger working.
In the last one month alone nearly 17 terrorists have been killed in the Kashmir Valley (including dozen of them in attempted cross LoC. infiltration). In addition owing to effective counter infiltration and terrorism operations over the last one year there is no worthwhile terrorist leadership left in the valley capable of leading disruption of impending polls or spread antipathy and instigate civil strife during the forthcoming months. Thus it has become an imperative to induct and embed terrorist leadership before the onset of winters.
Interestingly attempts at infiltration in North and South Kashmir, traditional focus of infiltration has been far and few. There appear to be two reasons; one Pakistan does not want to be seen as disrupting the flood relief work in the valley, something which could become potential source of alienation and second; vulnerability of its Lines of Communication should India resorts to massive retaliation. For these apparent reasons focus of Pakistani firing and escalation has shifted to South of Pir Panjal.
As a result Pakistani firing is largely concentrated to traditional areas of Rajouri and Punch as also cross International Border that includes, sectors such as Sambha, Rabirsinghpura, and Chicken’s Neck in Akhnoor etc. Pakistan, increase in intensity and firing on civilian positions both along the border and in depth is part of an orchestrated strategy aimed at provoking India to relocate civilians to depth areas thereby facilitating infiltration. Locations of cross border tunnel are proofs of Pakistan’s nefarious designs.
Third aspect of the Kashmir factor is the impending elections. Successful elections which could throw up electoral arithmetic in which centrist forces become powerful power brokers would result in a government that would follow strong nationalist policies severely curbing the separatist space. The manner in which India reacted to Huriyat leaders meeting Pakistani High Commissioner should have made absolutely clear to leadership that India with growing international support will brook little or no dissidence from these groups operating outside the constitutional process.
Apart from above factor it appears that Pakistani military is attempting brinkmanship to bring beleaguered Pakistan back into global relevance by focusing on Kashmir (the forgotten dispute) lest it loses its relevance with western and global focus shifting to new kind of Islamic radicalism the ISIS.
India’s Response
Need to follow three pronged strategy, swift, sharp and effective response backed by controlled escalation, must form the military response to Pakistan’s provocations. India should be in no doubt that Pakistan as is its wont could attempt at escalation misreading Indian resolve. It is imperative therefore that both the Indian political and military leadership leaves it in no doubt the cost of such escalation. Second India should expose Pakistan’s crass attempts to rake up tensions in the subcontinent, by adequately exposing its nefarious designs both in Kashmir and rest of the country. There should be no talks till such time Pakistan mends its ways and agrees to meaningful dialogue.
On Kashmir post flood reconstruction work must gain both momentum and fair distribution. State administration must be encouraged to show empathy in distribution of relief. Time has also come for another round of dialogue with all shades of opinion in Kashmir including separatist leadership but strictly within the confines of Indian constitution. In so far as dialogue with Pakistan is concerned should be made clear that India wants peace but will not bow down to such provocations. Pakistan must rescind from cross border firing and terror.

Pakistan : Infant mortality — a case of medical negligence

By Sehrish Wasif
The family of two was ready to welcome their little bundle of joy. Invitations were sent to relatives back home. Pink decorations awaited the baby girl’s arrival before everything came to a crashing end.
“Over a year ago we lost our first baby due to negligence of the doctor. She [the doctor] deliberately postponed delivering the baby long after my wife was due to give birth,” said Jehangir Shah, adding that the delay led to development of infections in the child who could not survive and died two months after being born.
Following one unfortunate incident, Shah was extra careful the next time. He took his wife to the District Headquarter Hospital (DHQ) Rawalpindi a day before she was due. However, doctors turned the couple away asking them to return later.
The return did not hold good news for the two as the wait took away their second child, this time a boy. “The doctors told us that feces of the child were stuck in his lungs,” Shah explained.
Much like this couple, many parents lose their newborns owing to medical negligence every year in the country.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) report titled, ‘The State of The World’s Children 2014’, Pakistan has been ranked at 26 in the list of countries with the highest infant mortality rates across the globe.
Highlighting a similar issue, another survey carried out by Save the Children— Ending Newborn Deaths— states that with a sorry state of affairs regarding maternal and child health, Pakistan records the highest number of stillbirths globally making it the most dangerous place to be a mother or a child. The issue, however, remains ignored by the policymakers and stakeholders alike.
Such neglect has led to tragic outcomes which are either often not focused on or investigated from a health system’s perspective.
Commenting on the issue, senior gynecologist in the maternal newborn and child health department at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, on condition of anonymity, told The Express Tribune that a high number of expectant mothers are turned away by doctors everyday without any valid reason.
These couples have no platform and are left with no other option but to go back.
She added that most of these pregnant women come from far-flung areas and seldom come back after being returned once. The couples usually cannot either bear to travel so far once more or are unable to bear the costs of travelling.
“This is one of the main but self-created causes of child and maternal deaths in the country. All it requires is behavioural change, not any other paradigm shift in policy,” she insisted.
Accepting that there was a need for change of perceptions, Agha Khan University Community Health Sciences and Family Medicine Associate Professor Dr Omrana Pasha was of the view that there is a need to teach professional ethics at medical colleges.
Pasha said it is the prime responsibility of a healthcare professional to attend to his or her patient at any cost, especially when a pregnant mother comes to them for medical help.
“Such rude or ignorant attitudes of professional healthcare workers force these expecting mothers to get their babies delivered with the help of unskilled midwives at home or small clinics which usually results in death of both the mother and the child” she said. A medical officer (MO) at one of the Basic Health Units in Rawalpindi District revealed that after being turned away by doctors, couples approach him for deliveries. “I too have to turn them away as the delay already causes complication risking the lives of both the mother and the child,” the MO said, on the condition of anonymity.

A look at Pakistan’s amazingly lucrative scorpion trade

Scorpions are in high demand for researchers from the US and EU for the venom they possess, which can be used as an ingredient to develop compounds for anti-cancer medicines. In China, they are a eaten as a street-food snack.
The demand has created a lucrative industry in Pakistan. There, scorpion hunters one-up each other to get their critters sent abroad at lucrative rates: Al Jazeera English reports that a black scorpion weighing 60 grams can bring in $50,000 or more. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2007 that scorpion venom was going for roughly $39 million a gallon. In California, scorpion smugglers have been detained at Los Angeles International Airport, described by authorities as a hub of exotic animal trafficking.
Tracing back the scorpion supply chain brought Al Jazeera reporter Maham Javaid to a remote area of Pakistan’s Sindh region, where he describes a complex trade that begins with the scorpion broker, passes through a middleman who negotiates prices for certain parts of the creature and then ends with a purchaser named Naveed Gauri Khan, who told Al Jazeera he was buying the scorpions for a Swedish pharmaceutical firm.
The trade is technically legal in Pakistan—though the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province banned it in August—but the country’s Dawn newspaper reports that it could have irreparable effects on the environment.
The mass hunting of scorpions, which are consumed by gecko lizards and then snakes on the animal food chain, could throw off nature’s balance, and lead to the increase of other species that are harmful to the environment.


Bilawal Bhutto to address public gathering of Oct 18

Patron-In-Chief, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will address the public gathering which is scheduled to be organised here at Mazar-e-Quaid on October 18.
This was announced by Special Assistant to the Sindh CM, Rashid Hussain Rabbani while addressing a party meeting organized by PPP City Area-100, district South here, said a statement on Wednesday.
He said that glowing tribute will be paid to the martyrs of the twin-blast tragedy which occurred on October 18, 2007.
General Secretary PPP Karachi Division, Najmi Alam attended a meeting of the workers of PPP belonging to Lyari organized by PPP district South to discuss the arrangements of the public gathering of October 18.

Bilawal Bhutto : This is just beginning, see what happens next

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari openly challenged an external threat in a tweet, which said that Kashmir would become Pakistan, and this also appeared as a reiteration of his previous public statement.
Bilawal’s tweet audaciously challeneges India’s fierce stance on Kashmir while hinting that his prior statements were just the beginning, and there was more to come as yet. He added that this sudden axiety encapsulated India just because of two statements, and Kashmir would become Pakistan,definitely.
Meanwhile, during the party’s meeting, Bilawal was confident that his ‘jalsa’ at Mazar-e-Quaid on 18 October would be attended by hundreds of tousands of people. He reiterated that PPP and its workers are united in their form and essence.

Pakistan : Wrestling is being fought in Punjab, PPP is not its part

Co-chairman of Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) Asif Ali Zardari referring current political chaos as wrestling between two combatants of Punjab said that PPP is not the part of this battle, ARY News reported.
Addressing to the meeting of PPP Rawalpindi division in Bilawal House, Lahore, Asif Zardari said wrestling is tradition of Punjab and people should enjoy it.
“Party workers are complaining that I am supporting PM Nawaz but this isn’t correct. My support is for democracy not for Nawaz”, he said.
Former President said that PPP is an unbiased political and supporting the system.
Speaking about Gen. Rtd. Pervaiz Musharraf, Asif Ali Zardari said he dealt with Musharraf in a better way to keep him out of politics unlike Nawaz Sharif, who detained him.
Asif Zardari said Pakistan is strengthened today because of Benazir Bhutto and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.
“Pakistan’s condition would be same as of Syria and Libya, if we do not have nuclear and missile technology”, he said.
Asif Ali Zardari expressed grievance that world powers have taken the notice of atrocities in Syria but ignoring the war crimes in Egypt.
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Pakistan: By the book: Wapda awards Rs14 billion project to ‘barred’ firm

The Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) has awarded the civil works contract for the 128-mega watts (MW) Keyal Khwar Hydropower Project to a joint venture (JV) of Sinohydro and Hajvairy Associates.
Sinohydro has been debarred by the World Bank.
The Rs14 billion Keyal Khwar Hydropower Project is going to be constructed on a tributary of the Indus River in the Kohistan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The project has been funded jointly by the European Investment Bank (EIP), the German Development Bank (KfW) and the government of Pakistan. The EIP and the KfW are providing 100 million and 97 million Euros, respectively, for the project. According to documents available with The Express Tribune, Sinohydro was debarred by the World Bank in December 2013 and the investigation against it still continues.
According to a Central Contract Cell official, who requested anonymity because he is not authorised to talk to the media, Sinohydro Corporation, facing an investigation and impending suspension for alleged wrongdoing in an African contract, had applied under a new name, Sinohydro Group. Any firm debarred by the World Bank is automatically blacklisted by the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA). It can neither participate in bidding nor execute a project.
The affidavit provided to the Wapda by the bidders reads: “We, SinoHydro-Hajvairy (JV) hereby confirm that, Sinohydro Corporation Limited that was temporarily suspended by the World Bank, is a subsidiary of Sinohydro Group Limited, a leading company of Sinohydro-Hajvairy (JV).”
Wapda’s response:
In a written reply, a Wapda spokesman stated that the authority had not awarded any contract to a firm under suspension by any financial institution. “The contract for civil works of Keyal Khwar Hydropower Project has been awarded to Sinohydro-Hajvairy JV, which is a joint venture of Sinohydro Group Limited (SGL) and Hajvairy Associates Pvt Limited. The World Bank temporarily suspended Sinohydro Corporation Ltd (SCL), which is a different entity from SGL. Therefore, the question of violating rules of PPRA or financial institutions, including World Bank, does not arise at all.”
“The Compliance Department of the KfW has thoroughly investigated the matter and expressed its satisfaction with the matter after obtaining necessary clarifications from the stakeholders and assurances and issued a no objection letter (NOL) to the Wapda for awarding the contract for civil works of Keyal Khwar Hydropower Project to Sinohydro-Hajvairy (JV). It is on the basis of this NOL, that the Wapda has awarded the contract to Sinohydro-Hajvairy,” the spokesman said.
“Compliance with the procurement guidelines of KfW is part of the project loan agreement. The bank has been closely involved in monitoring the implementation of their guidelines during the entire bidding process,” the spokesman said.
The spokesperson had no comments on the financial status of Hajvairy Associates.
However, a senior Wapda official familiar with the project argued against the explanation. He noted that Sinohydro Group had no qualification as it had recently been established. “It uses all the relevant experience of Sinohydro Corporation. Wapda is trying to cover up for Sinohydro,” he said.
“The NOL from KFW does not absolve the Wapda of its responsibility,” the official said.

India warns Pakistanis against ‘forged polio certificates’

The Express Tribune
India has warned Pakistanis applying for a visa to the country not to use fake polio vaccination certificates.
The Indian High Commission issued a statement on Wednesday warning that such visa applications would be rejected and the applicants permanently denied entry to India.
“It has been reported that forged polio certificates are being submitted with India visa applications. This is a serious offence.
Detection of any forged documentation would result in summary rejection of the visa application and permanent denial of visa for future travel also,” reads the statement.
Visa applicants are being advised to comply strictly with the polio certification requirements. Pakistan leads a list of the remaining few countries in the world where polio cases are still being reported.

Pakistan: The advance of polio

A blast in Mohmand agency killed two polio workers and injured one more on Wednesday, the third day of Eid. No terrorist organisation has claimed responsibility for the attack as of yet, which is why it is still uncertain whether the polio workers were the ones being targeted. But even if no one has owned up to the attack, the bomb’s close proximity to the house of the workers tell us that this was no coincidence.
Over 60 polio workers have been killed since 2012, and this does not include the tally of those that died protecting the workers in similar attacks over the past two years. The highest number of refusals to vaccinate have come from the agencies that connect to the Durand Line, as do most of the attacks on polio workers. Statistics alone tell us that if an effective immunization campaign is to be carried out, it must be largely focused in the tribal agencies, or the spread of the disease will continue unmitigated.
Operation Zarb-e-Azb brought about an increased movement of unvaccinated people from North Waziristan to the rest of the country, which means that the last three months of the year are likely to see another flurry of cases reported. The militants have been carrying out a war against polio vaccination, and the government’s inability to protect workers and fight the narrative against the vaccine has made Pakistan an 80 percent contributor of polio in the world. The year’s total is at an all-time high in 14 years, and this upward trend does not look to be going in a different direction anytime soon. Pakistan would do well to look at India, which became a polio-free nation at the end of 2013, even though they had over 700 cases as recently as 2009. The only way we can rid ourselves of the disease is if the protection of polio workers is made top priority, treating it as a part of the fight against militants. This is terrorism, pure and simple. The safety of polio workers cannot be stressed enough, and it is a dismal failure of state and intelligence agencies, that they are still being systematically targeted and brutally killed.

Pakistan: Zarb-e-Azb’s results

The North Waziristan (NW) operation was badly needed to eradicate terrorism that has obliterated the ability of the government to function effectively. The entire structure of the state seemed to be crumbling when the terrorists literally looked in command of the situation. NW had been the sore in the international community’s eye, especially of the US and Afghanistan. The efforts of the US-led NATO forces to root out terrorism from Afghanistan fell flat due to the sanctuaries NW provided to the terrorists. The tribal region of Pakistan has played host to the terrorists fleeing Afghanistan, allowing them to regroup, reorganize and regenerate their ability and mettle to recapture Afghanistan. Operation Zarb-e-Azb, according to ISPR, has so far been successful in not only killing about 1,000 terrorists but stopping infiltration from across the border. According to ISPR, most of the areas in NW have been cleared of terrorists. We do not have any independent source to verify the claim, but the stories from some observers suggest that things are not moving in the right direction or in the direction most suitable to make NW and its adjoining agencies terrorist-free in the real sense of the word.
For long Pakistan has tangled itself in the dichotomy of the good and bad Taliban. Those we nurtured to keep a toehold in both Afghanistan and Kashmir became strategic assets. These are the blue-eyed boys who have been spared the rod in spite of their dirty deeds. The rest have been destined to hell. Allegedly, the operation Zarb-e-Azb is heading in the direction of killing the rotten ones while saving the assets. It is a fact that most of the Taliban fled NW when we had been contemplating and shifting between the option of peace talks or taking the bull by the horns through force. We have reasons to be sceptical about the results of the operation. Of all those killed so far, no recognizable name could be seen. The Haqqanis have disappeared. Mullah Fazlullah is hiding in Afghanistan. So, who are we fighting against? Who is the enemy here? Is it a real war or a shadow we are chasing once again to post some good figures on the wall? It would be a misadventure to fight the wrong enemy at this stage when Afghanistan is once again on the tip of a civil war in the wake of the US withdrawal. The penchant to discriminate between good and bad terrorists has already made Pakistan a virtual pariah state, and any renewed effort to this end will only serve to isolate us further.

Pakistan: Banned groups get their share in animal hides anyway

Despite government restrictions, banned militant groups are believed to have managed a share in the hides of animals slaughtered in the twin cities during the Eidul Azha festival.
Local authorities had no way to catch their proxies and the sympathetic local clergy who openly collected the coveted hides in the name of their mosques, madressahs and religious trusts.
Indeed, some of them are viewed as front offices of banned militant groups, such as the mosque in G-9 Markaz and madressah Jamia Rasheedia in Aabpara whose managers hold key positions in the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), the reincarnation of the banned Sipahe Sahaba Pakistan (SSP).
However, their spokesmen claim the donations they collect are spent on running the institutions.
A senior official of the Islamabad Capital Territory administration told Dawn that the issue of banned groups and their open activities has been raised with the government several times but no policy directives followed. “In the situation the maximum the district administration could do was to deny permission to a certain mosque or madressah to collect skins and hides. But what to do when they don’t seek permission and carry on the business in other ways,” said the official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
ASWJ Islamabad information secretary Uneeb Faroqui said the religious party did not manage any mosque or madressah, but it does operate Al-Ehsar Welfare Trust, whose patron is the ASWJ leader, Maulana Ahmed Ludhianvi.
“We collect donations, skins, etc., for the welfare trust and it is all with the permission of officials and within the parameters of law,” he told Dawn.
Even in small neighbourhoods, people collected skin and hides for the banned groups, like the Tehreek-i-Islami, which was blamed for the massacre that took place in the Parade Lane in the heart of the garrison city of Rawalpindi.
“I cannot tell details because I am afraid of them but my neighbours who belong to this group asked us for the skin but we politely declined,” said a resident of sector G-15 of Islamabad.
It is a serious but complex issue as there is no ban on mosques to collect donations nor the people and groups affiliated with them are barred from indulging in political activities. All they are required is not to hoist the flags.
An Islamabad based social scientist says that not only the preventive laws suffer from serious lacunas but also their implementation.
“All donations, including the skins and hides of sacrificial animals, go unaccounted for,” he said. “It is up to the management of mosques or any other institution to put whatever figure they want to in the annual statement.”
According to him funds could be channelised not just to terror and other illegal activities but also to political activities. “The issue is that the donor is giving money or skin to a mosque or madressah for its own use and not for the political activities of any unknown party,” he said.

Pakistan: Civilians in the crossfire

THE escalating violence between Pakistan and India along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary in the disputed Kashmir region has, as ever, murky origins.
India blames Pakistan, Pakistan blames India; meanwhile, the worst sufferer is the civilian population on either side of the divide.
More lives have been lost and with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reduced to urging India and Pakistan to resolve their disputes diplomatically and through dialogue, there is a very real fear that more violence could result in more lives lost in the days ahead. With the blame game continuing and with few independent sources to verify how violence broke out, there is though a sense that both sides are determined not to back down — though it is difficult to see why either side would want the conflict to spiral out of control.
For Pakistan, conflict in Kashmir cannot militarily be a goal at this juncture with the North Waziristan operation ongoing and strains on military resources because of overall troop commitments in Fata.
For India, with the Narendra Modi-led BJP government in Delhi eyeing gains in elections in India-held Jammu and Kashmir scheduled for November-December, prolonged conflict should not be part of a winning electoral strategy.
Yet, logic often does not work as it should in this most disputed of regions and, occasionally, events in Kashmir are tied to wider struggles that Pakistan and India may be engaging in. Consider that the Modi government has taken a decidedly tough line with Pakistan despite Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif wanting to pursue dialogue while simultaneously struggling with civil-military issues at home.
The rapturous tone of the recent visit by Mr Modi to the US may have encouraged the Indian security establishment to pile further pressure on Pakistan. Meanwhile, on the Pakistan side, that very tone of Mr Modi’s visit and the successful inclusion of Pakistan-specific militancy concerns in the joint US-India statement may have rankled, and sections of the security establishment here may have decided that India, and the world at large, needs reminding that the Kashmir dispute is still very much alive and a flashpoint that should invite international attention.
The path to military de-escalation at least remains well-known. Purposeful and result-orientated contact between the directors general of military operations of Pakistan and India can help dampen the violence along the LoC and the Working Boundary — but will the two countries decide to activate that option themselves, or will the international community have to put pressure behind the scenes?
The approaching winter — while still distant in the present context — should also help dampen hostilities, though it remains to be seen if the elections will be held on time or postponed until the new year after an ongoing visit to Jammu and Kashmir by the Election Commission of India. As ever, little can be said with certainty on Kashmir.