Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ottawa Attacks Shatter Canadian Innocence

By Matthew Campbell
The shooting spree that paralyzed Canada’s capital today may change the self-image of a country that’s long prided itself on avoiding the violence more commonly associated with its southern neighbor.
The fatal attack on a soldier this morning prompted a frenzied evacuation of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and a lockdown of public buildings. Civil servants and tourists described chaotic scenes as police swarmed to locate the assailant, or assailants -- one of whom was shot and killed by police inside Parliament.
What would be a shocking series of events in any nation is even more so in Canada, where security at many public buildings is minimal. Until recently, security guards at Parliament -- where more than 10 shots could be heard in a mobile phone video recorded by a Globe and Mail journalist -- were unarmed.
“It’s too soon to speculate, but it’s hard to see how this won’t change things,” said Andrew MacDougall, a former director of communications for Harper who’s now a consultant in London at MSLGroup. “To see my former place of work lit up in a blaze of gunfire is shocking, disheartening and worrying,”
The shootings come two days after a Canadian soldier died and a second was injured after being run down by a car driven by a suspected Islamic militant whom authorities said had been “radicalized.” The incident in Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) southeast of Montreal, was linked to “terrorist ideology,” the government said. The driver was killed by police after a car chase.
immunity Ends
There was still no official word from authorities on what motivated today’s assault or who might be responsible. Canadian politicians have warned for some time that the country’s immunity to organized attacks wouldn’t last forever. Harper, a member of the Conservative Party who has contributed troops to interventions in Afghanistan, Libya, and Iraq, said in 2011 that violence could arrive “out of the blue” both from Islamic extremists and methodical lone murderers like Norway’s Anders Behring Breivik.
Canadians have largely taken such warnings in stride. In Toronto’s financial district, home to the headquarters of Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of Montreal, and the local offices of dozens of foreign financial institutions, most office buildings have no barriers preventing passers-by from riding elevators to any floor they please.
A low violent crime rate may explain some of that. Last year Toronto, with 2.8 million residents, recorded 57 murders -- compared with more than 400 in Chicago. Canada’s largest city gets by with 5,500 police officers, less than half the number in Chicago proper, which has roughly the same population.
War Memorial
Today’s shootings struck at the heart of Canada’s governing institutions, which are clustered around a few square blocks in downtown Ottawa. The first attack killed a member of a ceremonial honor guard at the National War Memorial, police said. A suspect was later shot and killed in the Hall of Honour, just outside the door leading into the Library of Parliament, according to the Globe’s video of the incident.
Ottawa is a sleepy government town of about 1 million people unused to violent crime of any kind, much less gunplay. Throughout the city’s compact center, police warned office workers to stay away from windows and shouted at journalists to take cover as they tried to locate attackers. The U.S. embassy, a five-minute walk from the war memorial, was locked down, as were the offices of civil servants in the area. The Bank of Canada canceled a scheduled press conference.
Canada’s federal parties hold caucus meetings each Wednesday when the legislature is in session, meaning most members of Parliament were in the building when the gunfight occurred. Pictures on social media showed some had barricaded doors with furniture to prevent assailants from entering.
‘Times of Risk’
While Canada’s major parties yesterday urged unity in the wake of the attacks, the drama plays into the political narrative Harper has sought to construct in advance of elections scheduled for next year. In a speech last month unveiling his party’s legislative agenda for the current parliamentary session he told Canadians they lived in “times of risk and danger” that require steady leadership.
The country has experienced occasional episodes of headline-grabbing violence. Each December, Canadians wear white ribbons to commemorate the slaughter of 14 women at the Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal in 1989 by a lone gunman, and in 1984 a former army corporal killed three people in the Quebec’s provincial legislature before being persuaded to surrender. In June, three Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers were killed in the east coast town of Moncton.
Just over a decade earlier, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau briefly declared martial law in Quebec to stop a series of bombings by a nationalist group.
The Ottawa attack feels different, leading politicians to conclude the country has changed permanently.
“It will impact on our dialog of how we live in this country,” Liberal Party Member of Parliament John McKay said of the violence in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. “This is the kind of day that changes everything.”

Obama on Canada shooting: 'We're all shaken by it'

President Barack Obama condemned fatal shootings in Canada on Wednesday as "outrageous attacks." ''We're all shaken by it," he said.
Obama said the motive for the shootings remained unknown. But he said as more becomes known, that information will be factored into U.S. security considerations. "We have to remain vigilant," he said.
Obama spoke by telephone Wednesday with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Obama said he offered condolences on behalf of the American people.
A Canadian soldier standing guard at a war memorial in the capital of Ottawa, Ontario, was shot and killed Wednesday. Gunfire also erupted inside Parliament nearby, and authorities say at least one gunman was killed.
Obama spoke after holding a meeting with members of his Ebola response team in the Oval Office.
On Monday, authorities said a recent convert to Islam killed one Canadian soldier before being shot to death by police.
Obama also expressed the American people's solidarity with Canada.

ISIS applies sexual temptations to recruit foreign mercenaries into Jihad

Sex is the most primitive assertion of one’s significance; it’s a means to perpetuate one’s name – and genes – into the future. Islamic State strategically uses it as a reward for aggression.
Dr. Hubert Anderson, a physiology professor at the Maryland state University, believes that the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria uses frenetic rhetoric of Jihad and martyrdom to attract gullible young men and also presenting ‘sexual Jihad’ as an effective way to attract depraved and sinful people.
It’s almost impossible to fight with ISIS’ diabolical ideology through military means, but rather we ought to understand the ideology which has been adopted by ISIS to lure Arab youths, added Dr. Anderson.
He further noted that hardline organizations attempt to fuel sectarian conflicts by dictating to their naïve fighters that they are in a holy war with infidels, pagans and non-believers and they were quite successful to cement this idea in their minds that God will grant them a palace in heaven abounded with ever-lasting virgin brides and delicious foods.
Peter McCartney, an outstanding CIA counterterrorism expert believes that Islamist radical groups are adamant to tell their disciples that they are very unique and special and therefore God won’t punish them for venial sins such as sexual pleasures.
The militant group has set up marriage centers where women register to be wed to its fighters. Captured Iraqi women and girls are forced into sex slavery, living in brothels run by female jihadists.
Rape of non-believers is considered legitimate, while fatwas proclaiming a “sexual jihad” encourage brutality against females. Lastly, martyrdom is associated with sexual bliss in paradise.
Understanding the magnetic appeal of Islamic State’s extremism is a prerequisite to developing a suitable, psychologically sensitive counter narrative. For example, an appeal to moderation and a life of patient struggle seems ill-suited to win over the hearts and minds of jihadists.
Instead, the glamor of jihad must be countered by an alternative glamor; the charisma of martyrdom pitted against a different kind of charisma, the appeal to primitive drives redirected, jiu jitsu style, against the brutality of the enemy, turning the psychological tables on Islamic State as it were.
For example, young men vulnerable to the appeal of extremist ideology might be persuaded to fight the desecration of their religion and promised a place in history by defeating the satanic evil that soils their faith. Social media may need to be turned abuzz with the glory of standing up to evil, encouraging the bravery needed to undertake personal risks for “breaking bad.”
This message should not be presented in faint pastels but in bright, bold colors. Measured arguments against Islamic State wouldn’t do the job. Countering it requires fiery, impassioned appeals

Violence erupts in Saudi Arabia after verdict

The death sentence of a Shiite preacher has sparked renewed violence in Saudi Arabia. Whether Iran is behind the unrest, or whether it's a result of the marginalization of Saudi Shiites, remains unclear.
Nearly a week after prominent Shiite cleric Sheik Nimr al-Nimr was sentenced to death for sedition and other charges, renewed violence between Sunni leaders and the Shiite minority is threatening to escalate in Saudi Arabia.
Following the sentence, unknown gunmen attacked a police patrol in the country's restive eastern provinces. According to authorities, the attack set an oil pipeline on fire. The conflict has even spread across the border into neighboring Iraq, where a Shiite militia called for attacks on Saudi facilities over the weekend. Authorities in Saudi Arabia would face "serious consequences" if they did not withdraw the death sentence, came the warning. Shiite Iran has also warned Saudi Arabia over the possible execution.
In addition to the charges of sedition, Saudi authorities accused the cleric of organizing protests and of disobedience to the king. Human rights organization Amnesty International has sharply criticized last Wednesday's verdict.
"The death sentence against Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr is part of a campaign by the authorities in Saudi Arabia to crush all dissent, including those defending the rights of the kingdom's Shia Muslim community," said Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.
Widespread discrimination
Shiites make up about 10 to 15 percent of the population in Saudi Arabia. The royal family and the religious authorities in the country represent the ultra-conservative Wahhabi interpretation of Sunni Islam. In such an environment, Shiites are discriminated against in different ways, explained Elham Manea, an associate professor at the University of Zurich and expert on the Gulf region.
When the king appointed a Shia to the advisory council of the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia, the Shura, there were massive protests from the Sunni majority. Manea explained that Shiites face limitations in a number of professions and in schools, where the curriculum places an emphasis on Wahhabi Islam.
"The curriculum is built in a way to express the hegemony of the Wahhabi interpretation of Islam, more or less to send the message [...] that they [the shiites] are following a deviant type of Islam and that their place is hell," Manea told DW.
Over the last three years, sectarian violence has occasionally erupted in oil-rich Eastern Province. In 2011, as the Arab Spring rocked large parts of the Arab world, protests were also held here. The authorities, however, were quick to suppress them. According to unofficial data, violent clashes in 2012 resulted in about two dozen dead, including four police officers.
Al-Nimr, who has denounced the anti-Shiite discrimination in his sermons, was arrested in July 2012 when he was shot by security forces in Eastern Province. Authorities claimed that he had been injured in an exchange of gunfire when he tried to escape and had rammed a police car. His relatives denied those claims. After his arrest, thousands of people took to the streets.

Iraqi Izadis facing attempted genocide at ISIL hands: UN

A high-ranking United Nations official says people from Iraq's Izadi religious minority are facing what may amount to an “attempted genocide” at the hands of the ISIL Takfiri terrorists.
"The evidence strongly indicates attempt to commit genocide," UN Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York on Tuesday.
Simonovic added that the atrocities perpetrated by ISIL terrorists over the past four months may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
On Monday, an unnamed Iraqi security source said the ISIL militants are laying siege to about 700 Izadi families on Mount Sinjar.
The source added that the militants are deploying more forces to the area, and are about one kilometer (0.6 mile) away from Sinjar.
Tens of thousands of Izadi refugees took up residence at makeshift sites and villages across the Kurdish region of northern Iraq after fleeing to Mount Sinjar in August.
The United Nations confirms that more than 5,000 Izadi Kurds were gunned down in a series of massacres by the ISIL Takfiri terrorists. Some 4,800 women and children are thought to be held captive, and that the number is expected to rise above 7,000.
Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch said in a report that abducted Izadi women are subjected to sexual assault and are being bought and sold by ISIL militants.
The ISIL terrorists currently control large swathes of territory across Syria and Iraq. They have committed terrible atrocities in both countries, including mass executions and beheading of local residents as well as foreign nationals.

Canada Shooting: 3 Suspects Sought in Soldier Shooting Near Parliament

Heavily-armed police cleared Canada's Parliament building today and are searching for three suspects after a trio of shooting incidents near the Parliament left a soldier wounded. Gunfire was heard inside Parliament.
One of the three suspects was "dealt with," according to a spokesman for the Ottawa Police.
The gunfire prompted security force to hustle Prime Minister Stephen Harper to a "safe" place not at Parliament Hill, his spokesperson said. Harper's usual office is in a building near the shooting site.
"The prime minister is safe and not on Parliament Hill and being briefed by security officials," his spokesman Jason MacDonald said.
ttawa Police said via Twitter the initial shooting took place at 9:52 a.m. at the National War Memorial of Canada, but that was just the beginning of the violent episode, which has now stretched into investigations in two other locations: Parliament Hill and the nearby Rideau Centre, a large shopping mall that was subsequently evacuated.
Ottawa Police Constable Marc Soucy told Canada's CTV police were searching for more than one suspect and no one has been arrested.
Civic Hospital in Ottawa, the country's capital, has received three patients, two of whom are in stable condition.
Earlier today witnesses told CTV they saw a man with long hair carrying a rifle and heard four shots fired at the soldier, who was guarding Canada's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
A witness told Canada's CBC the gunman then ran the short distance to Canada’s Parliament, jumped a wall, stopped a car at gunpoint and hijacked it, the witness said. The driver got out safely, then the man drove the car to the Centre Block on Parliament Hill where senior government leaders have their offices.
A CBC reporter inside the Canadian Parliament reported chaos there, hearing lots of gunshots. A lawmaker tweeted more than 30 shots were heard inside Parliament's Center Block.
All military bases in Canada have been put on lock down in response to the events in Ottawa, CTV reported. The U.S. Embassy in Ottawa recently followed suit.
Senior FBI and Department of Homeland Security officials told ABC News they are closely monitoring the situation. The White House said President Obama has been briefed.
Canada raised its national terrorism alert level today, following an incident Monday in which a Canadian soldier was killed in a hit-and-run by a man suspected to have been a radicalized jihadist.
"This level means that intelligence has indicated that an individual or group within Canada or abroad has the intent and capability to commit an act of terrorism," Jean-Christophe de Le Rue, a spokesman for the Public Safety Ministry said, according to AFP.

Video - Ottawa Shooting: Parliament Hill lockdown, police search for gunman

Video - Ottawa Footage: Shots inside Canadian Parliament caught on camera


President Barack Obama is attending a private fundraiser for Democrats in Chicago on Monday evening after he voted early for the midterm election.
Early voting in Illinois started Monday. President Obama voted at a polling location at East 43rd Street and South Cottage Grove Avenue late Monday morning. As Obama cast his ballot, Aia Cooper cast hers right next to the president.
"We let two people go in front of us and we didn't think anything of it and we got in there, he was there," Cooper said.
Because it was quiet and everyone was staring at the president, Cooper's fianc Mike Jones decided to break the ice and joke with Obama.
"On my way past him, I said, 'I know you are the president, but don't touch my girlfriend,' and he laughed," Jones said.
Obama not only laughed, he proceeded to joke with Aia during the whole voting process, promising her he was going to get her fianc back - and the president did.
"He gave me a hug and a kiss, on the cheek, just the cheek - please, Michelle, don't come after me - just the cheek!" Cooper said.
After about 20 minutes, Obama was off. He made an impromptu stop at Gov. Pat Quinn's South Side campaign office. Sunday night at Chicago State University, the president helped launch a get out the vote effort to get Democrats to the polls to vote for Quinn. The governor remains in a tight race against Republican Bruce Rauner. The presidential visit was a welcome surprise for Quinn volunteers.
"We all had a chance to talk to him and let him know what we were doing, what our interests were. He was really interested, asking people a lot of questions," said Kristiana Zerom.
Obama is attending a fundraiser on Chicago's North Side then is expected to fly out of O'Hare at 6:30 p.m. Monday night.

Man in Chicago tells Obama 'don't touch my girlfriend'

The woman who voted next to President Barack Obama on Monday says she was "embarrassed and just shocked," after her fiancé jokingly told him "Mr. President, don't touch my girlfriend."
Casting his ballot in Chicago on Monday, Obama stood at a voting booth next to Aia Cooper, whose fiancé, Mike Jones, decided to crack wise with the president, which prompted Obama to reply with "I really wasn't planning on it," before adding that Jones was "an example of a brother just embarrassing you for no reason."
In an interview with CNN's Brooke Baldwin Tuesday afternoon, Cooper said she was "embarrassed and just shocked" after hearing her fiancé comments. "I was just shaking," she said.
Cooper was nervous to cast her ballot next to the president even before Jones made his remark.
The woman who voted next to President Barack Obama on Monday says she was "embarrassed and just shocked," after her fiancé jokingly told him "Mr. President, don't touch my girlfriend."
Casting his ballot in Chicago on Monday, Obama stood at a voting booth next to Aia Cooper, whose fiancé, Mike Jones, decided to crack wise with the president, which prompted Obama to reply with "I really wasn't planning on it," before adding that Jones was "an example of a brother just embarrassing you for no reason."
In an interview with CNN's Brooke Baldwin Tuesday afternoon, Cooper said she was "embarrassed and just shocked" after hearing her fiancé comments. "I was just shaking," she said.

Afghanistan to renew request for arms, military hardware from India

The Afghan minister of interior Mohammad Umar Daudzai has said that the government of Afghanistan will renew request for the supply of arms and military hardware from India.
Daudzai has visited India to attend a security conference in new Delhi.
According to the Indian media agencies, Daudzai is expected to have informal talks with the Indian establishment during visit to New Delhi.
According to reports, a delegation of high level Indian security officials are also expected to visit Kabul in the near future, apparently to hold talks on security cooperation between the two nations.
This comes as the former Afghan President Hamid Karzai had requested India for over 230 types of military equipment, including helicotprs and field guns in April this year.
Karzai also handed over a list of military equipment to India during his two-visit late in the month of December last year.
However, India rejected the supply of lethal weapons to Afghanistan security forces amid fears that the supply of weapons could upset Pakistan.
In the meantime, Daudzai has said the government of Afghanistan expects that the request to supply arms to Afghan forces by will be acted upon by India.

Ashraf Ghani Races to Make His Mark on Presidency in Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s new president, Ashraf Ghani, is a man in a hurry to break from his predecessor’s governing style. Best not make him late.
He drove the point home this month when he started a meeting without the prominent and widely respected interior minister, Umar Daudzai. Mr. Daudzai showed up a few minutes later and was promptly barred from entry, according to three officials who were familiar with the incident. (Through a spokesman, Mr. Daudzai denied the account.)
Mr. Ghani will also be running a leaner palace. The lavish dinners that were a hallmark of President Hamid Karzai’s meetings — and are a cherished tradition among many Afghan officials, for that matter — have been slashed. Mr. Ghani wants to impart the message that palace meetings are for business, not pleasure.
Just a few weeks into his tenure, Mr. Ghani has already delivered on some big issues, including signing a long-term troop deal with the United States. But he is also signaling the direction of his presidency with a host of smaller stylistic changes, most of them unpublicized but detailed in interviews with Afghan and American officials.
Although most of Mr. Ghani’s changes have been relatively small, the implications may not be.
In a country known for perilous divisions, building broad coalitions is often a precondition for progress. Mr. Ghani’s predecessor, Mr. Karzai, was a master at using a courtly style to keep rivals working together, keenly aware that in Afghanistan, guests expect to be fed and tradition trumps expedience. He made time for the politics.
Mr. Ghani, on the other hand, is all about efficiency and building institutions. And his desire to move fast is coupled with a quick temper. There is a concern among some here that his temperament, Western style and didactic approach, sharpened in a career at the World Bank and in academia, could rub the Afghan official class the wrong way.
Consider this: Forgoing the huge convoys favored by Mr. Karzai, Mr. Ghani takes only a few cars when he travels in Kabul. That will probably be a public-relations success with residents, as Mr. Karzai’s convoys snarled traffic for hours.
It also allows Mr. Ghani to make surprise inspections, as he did when he dropped by a police station on a recent day to check attendance, or on another stop when he chastised a group of police officers goofing off at their checkpoint.
Similarly, after visiting the Kabul military hospital to meet wounded soldiers, Mr. Ghani was told there were doctors on duty around the clock. When he went back later that night to check and found no one around, people were promptly fired.
The political class of Kabul favors car analogies when describing Mr. Ghani’s style. Just about everyone agrees that he is pushing the pedal to the floor, but no one is sure what is around the bend.
“This guy is speeding ahead on a very bumpy road,” said a senior Afghan ministry official, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of angering the president. “Only the car is not ready for that speed, especially when you don’t have anyone sitting next to you to tell you to be careful.”
“Right now, he is focusing 95 percent of his time on institutions and 5 percent of his time on politics,” said a former Afghan official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid appearing to criticize the president. “There needs to be more of a balance.”
Mr. Ghani’s supporters say that such fears are misguided and that his efforts to signal a change in approach on women’s rights, for instance, exemplified by his wife’s higher-profile role in public life, are meant to be an example of forward-thinking leadership.
“He is very cognizant of past failures in Afghanistan — of presidents, kings and other leaders,” said Daoud Sultanzoy, an adviser to Mr. Ghani. “He will not do anything that the public is not ready for, but he will also lead and will not allow dark forces to derail progress in this country.”
There have been signs that Mr. Ghani will sometimes bend to popular will, even when it runs counter to Western mores. For instance, he refused to intervene to stay the recent executions of five convicted rapists despite the pleading of human rights organizations.
Some have speculated that Mr. Ghani’s rough-edged style could be tempered by the presence of Abdullah Abdullah, his bitter election rival, who is now the chief executive of a unity government with Mr. Ghani.
Mr. Abdullah led the political opposition through most of the Karzai years and is a far more natural politician. Mr. Ghani’s ideas coupled with Mr. Abdullah’s political skills could be a formidable combination, experts and supporters of both men say.
But no one is holding their breath for that. It took heavy pressure from the United States to bring the two men together in the same government. And though they meet three times a week to discuss plans, the rough road to agreement on issues like ministerial appointments and Mr. Abdullah’s exact role still lies ahead.
But Mr. Ghani has wasted no time pushing ahead on his own.
He has ordered all ministries to submit a list of every employee they have hired, with qualifications and résumés. He has also demanded their procurement contracts and related paperwork in an effort to bring the process under the banner of the president’s office.
As it happens, that office is also changing. Under Mr. Karzai, two entities handled the president’s affairs: the chief of staff’s office and the office of administrative affairs. The overlap often led to competition and palace intrigue.
Mr. Ghani, apparently, had little time for either.
Shortly after his arrival, the staff of both offices were called to a meeting, where names were read aloud from a list. The attendees were told that those whose names were not announced could consider the gathering their farewell party.
Despite the concerns about Mr. Ghani’s sometimes brusque style, he has been diligent about reaching out to officials. During the recent Eid al-Adha holiday, Mr. Ghani called every Afghan Army Corps commander, as well as each of the country’s 34 provincial governors.
More recently, he has been convening large gatherings of provincial officials and elders for videoconferences with the Kabul administration. Last week, for instance, nearly a thousand dignitaries gathered in the governor’s compound in Kunduz, a province hit by a surge of Taliban violence in recent weeks.
Leaders from across Kunduz, some living under Taliban rule, gathered to see the new president. At exactly 11:20 a.m., as scheduled, Mr. Ghani appeared on the screen with a row of cabinet ministers arrayed behind him. On cue, he allowed the provincial governor and other leaders exactly 10 minutes each to speak.
Mr. Ghani then directed his ministers to brief the crowd while he diligently scribbled in his notebook. The men spoke for five minutes each, detailing their plans for the province. Having listened patiently, Mr. Ghani then claimed the final five minutes. At exactly 12:20 p.m., the conference concluded.
But even as the event typified the modern and accountable approach Mr. Ghani hopes to foster, it quickly clashed with the reality on the ground. Orchestrated via Skype using local Wi-Fi, the teleconference was hindered by the sound’s cutting in and out. Ministers would suddenly freeze on screen. Mr. Ghani was without a voice for seconds on end.
But for all the technical difficulties, his message came through. He acknowledged that the situation in Kunduz posed a threat to national security and vowed to disarm militias sowing chaos in the districts.
Then, as a parting shot, he promised change — and delivered right away.
“I have already approved a new governor for the province,” he told the shocked crowd, including the suddenly fired governor.

Pakistan - CM Sindh announces to officially celebrate Diwali
Chief Minister of Sindh, Qaim Ali Shah of Pakistan People s Party (PPP) has announced to officially celebrate the Hindu festival of Diwali on October 23. All government employees from the Hindu community would be given an official holiday on Diwali, said Shah.
CM also promised to pay Diwali bonus to the government officials before the festival commences on October 23. Orders have been issued to the Sindh Finance Department regarding the advance salary payment to the Hindu government officials.
While minorities in Pakistan continue to live in a state of constant fear amid the growing terrorism, CM of Sindh’s announcement about official celebration of Hindu festival of Diwali comes as good news.

How Can I Tell My Children Their Mother Is Not Free? This Will Kill Them Says Husband Of Asia Bibi

Following the shocking news that the High Court in Lahore on Thursday, October 16, had confirmed the death sentence for Pakistani Christian woman, Asia Bibi, while dismissing her appeal, her husband, Ashiq Masih was said to be “weeping bitterly.”
According to a Rights activist, Ashiq Masih was “weeping bitterly” when he met him after the hearing and told him Muslim clerics attending the hearing had shouted out “blasphemer” and “kill her.”
“I have not told my children about the court decision. How can I? I am too scared of their reaction – they are already very depressed. We all were expecting her to come home and now this happens,” said Ashiq Masih.
“How can I tell my children their mother is not free? This will kill them,” he whined.

Pakistan: Why Asia Bibi's Appeal Dismissed?

On October 16, 2014, Christian mother of five Asia Bibi, had had her blasphemy appeal hearing dismissed. A Special Bench of Lahore High Court, decided to uphold her existing blasphemy sentence, meaning Asia will remain on a death sentence and now she has right of second appeal to the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
LEAD intends to file her second appeal within 30 days if the mutual understanding will be developed among her all lawyers for to end the disturbance which were created during appeal arguments by some her lawyers.
Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill, a Human Rights Defender was present along with his team consisting on Aric John, advocate high court, Hadayt Bashir, advocate high court and Qaiser Younas ,court clerk of LEAD.
The case was called and there were a number of Lawyers to represent her. Abruptly Sardar Tahir Khalil Sindhu and Ch. Naeem Shakar started to argue the case but they were hindered by the Justice Anwal-ul Haq and he ordered and directed to addressing all the lawyers, who were present to represent the Appellant, first decide who one lawyer argue the case. On this it was decided that Ch. Naeem Shakar, who is senior lawyer, would argue the case. He well argued the case and seemed that his preparation was very much appreciable. The court gave a plenty of time to him to argue and to assist the court to decide the appeal decision. The arguments went in two halves meanwhile Sardar Tahir Khalil was also a little bit contributing.
In second half, the point was raised by the court, why, the two eye witnesses before whom the incidence occurred and derogatory remarks were uttered, were not cross examined and challenged in the trial by you.
On this question, Ch. Naeem Shakar and Sardar Tahir Khalil Sindhu remained silent and pointed by eyes towards S.K Choudhary, who filed appeal and contested the trial.
S.K. Choudhary requested the court one hour for his arguments and the court said that he could take enough time to argue as he wished to take but the court said that the court would not give time for arguments any other lawyer except him. He started to argue the case and he argued well and his arguments were appreciable but the court again asked the same from him why he could not cross-examined the two eye witnesses in trial.
He argued and explained, how the particular derogatory remarks could be cross-examined by me as being Muslim, on this the court said here we are not Muslims we are for justice only and being lawyers it is our responsibility to represent the accused for justice and our faith should be at home. On this main ground ,which is flaw and draw back of the trial proceedings and defense side, the court dismissed the appeal because the statement of eye witnesses not to be challenged and cross- examined means the alleged allegation against the accused is true and admitted fact.
Why in mostly cases of blasphemy, the wordings of FIR would not be cross-examined and challenged by defense lawyer and in this particular case was not cross-examined the eye witnesses during trial because there was always much pressure from prosecution lawyers and if the defense lawyer try to challenge and to cross-examine the wordings of FIR, the defense lawyer will have to face death threats and some time to be killed as happened with Rashid Rehman, who was killed during contesting the trial of English professor accused of making blasphemous Facebook post after prosecution lawyers had threatened to kill him in front of a judge, the same threats were extended towards defense lawyer in this particular case of Asia Bibi during her trial. It was also decided and announced by whole Nankana Sahb Bar Association that no lawyer would represent her that was the reason many Christian Organizations' lawyers fled away from the seen during her trial, who are in appeal stage come forward. We have to appreciate S.K. Choudary who contested her trial instead of restriction was imposed by the concerned local Bar.
The same things happened at bail stage that's why mostly defense lawyers ,who are on payroll of organizations, not be able to get released the accused on bails in blasphemy cases because they would not prefer to take life risk and they just fulfill legal formalities for their jobs in such blasphemy cases.
Why we were successful to get released on bails and rescued in our cases because we are human rights defenders and we do not care about ourselves and those life threats which were and are being extended towards us and we are motivated by God and encouraged by our supporters who supported us for our security measures.
So our request to national and international organizations, please consider the safety and security of lawyers ,who represent blasphemy accused ,preferably so that the fear that if he would be killed who will care his family be mitigated and taken out from their minds. This can be only possible if you will provide practically security and training to the lawyers for their encouragement.
It is also requested you on behalf of Asia Bibi to write petitions and letters to send the Pakistani authorities to make her released because she is suffering for faith and she is innocent and struggle with us for religious liberty for individuals and raise voice with us for the repeal of blasphemy law and to end religious extremism.
We at LEAD request you to pray that God will protect her during presentment and we have to remain hopeful that the Supreme Court will admit the second appeal and will accept it finally for her acquittal.

ISIS Takfiri Terrorists Set Up Offices In Parts Of Pakistan; Massacre Feared

Takfiri terrorists of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has set up its secrete offices in several parts of Pakistan including the leading offices in Metropolitan, after after fluttering flags and graffiti in economic hub city of Karachi and other parts of the country, with a warning thousands would likely be massacred if government, armed forces and law enforcement agencies fail to take immediate action against the terrorists across the country, The Shia Post reports.
The development of founding the offices came after six senior Pakistani Taliban leaders have pledged allegiance to the ISIS and its self claimed leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a symbol of the terrorists’ expanding influence among takfiri groups.
Leading takfiri TTP terrorist Chief Shahidullah Shahid spoke of his decision to join the ISIS in a video message that was posted online. It was also sent out to various media outlets and an Urdu translation of this video message was emailed to various journalists. Taliban leaders from Kuram, Orkzai, Peshawar, Khyber Agency, and Hangu district are a few that have left the TTP and shaken hands with ISIS.
In his video message, Shahid states,
“I declare allegiance to the Caliph of Muslims, Amirul Momineen Abu Bakar al Baghdadi al Qarshi al Hussaini. I will listen and follow his every instruction whatever the situation may have been. This allegiance is neither from the TTP or its chief, Mullah Fazlullah. This is only from me and five leaders.”
He further added in the video that the chief of TTP is in support of the Islamic State but he has still ‘not’ given out his allegiance. He states that his real name is Abu Omar alias Al-Khorasani. As though, his real name even matters in a time like this. In Karachi ISIS has set up its network in Pushto-dominated areas. security agencies are on high alert after news surfaced about the presence of terrorist organization ISIS in Karachi and Pakistan secrete agencies have become active to gather complete information about Daesh presence in the city.
According to different sources people, witnessed graffiti splashed in favor of ISIS in metropolitan city of Pakistan, while its members have set up office in Sohrab Goth area of Karachi. Security agencies have issued a brief report of federal government about Daesh activities in Karachi. The recent wall chalking is a major proof of ISIS presence in the city. Sources told that Daesh has set up its network in Kunwari colony, Pukhtunabad, Sultanabad, Gulshan-e-Maymar, Janjaal Pura, Machar colony , Afghan Basti, Sohrab Goth and sever other surrounding areas.
In Texila, near Islamabad, the flag of Takfiri ISIS has been hoisted flags near Pakistan Ordinance Factories, Wah Cantonment, the constituency of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Khan of Ruling PML-N government.
In Northern areas of Pakistan dozens of ISIS offices have already been launched and people have been threatened. Meanwhile in Balochistan Shias and other minority have been threatened to death.

Tensions flare along Iran and Pakistan’s dusty border

By Ishaan Tharoor
We're accustomed to reports of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan. So too the almost routine exchanges of fire between Indian and Pakistani soldiers stationed across one of the world's militarized borders, where skirmishes have led to more than a dozen deaths this past month.
But hostilities have flared this week along a more forgotten frontier: Pakistan's long desert border with Iran.
In recent days, Tehran and Islamabad have summoned each others' envoys after reports of gunfights and incursions. On Oct. 17, Pakistani officials claimed that 30 Iranian guards in six vehicles started shooting at a vehicle carrying members of the Pakistani Frontier Corps, two miles inside Pakistan's border. One soldier was killed and three others were wounded.
The alleged incident, which Tehran has not directly addressed, followed an angry warning on Thursday from the second-in-command of Iran's influential Revolutionary Guards after four of its soldiers were killed by unknown assailants at a post in Iran's eastern Sistan and Baluchestan province, which abuts Pakistani Baluchistan. The Iranians believed the attackers were operating from Pakistani territory. "We are, in principle, against intervening in the affairs of any country," said Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami, "but if they fail to abide by their obligations we will have [no choice but] to act."
Pakistani officials dismissed Iran's allegations, with language similar to what Islamabad often trots out when accused by neighboring India of tacitly supporting terrorism there. "If Iran has evidence that elements from Pakistan are involved in activities against Iran, they should share it with us,” said a Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman on Friday. "Our information is that these incidents took place inside Iranian territory by Iranians and that is corroborated by their own accounts. It is not helpful to externalize problems."
Pakistan's Baluchistan province, where Iranian officials believe anti-Iran Sunni militant groups operate, is vast and rugged and comprises some 40 percent of Pakistan's landmass but only 5 percent of its population. A separatist, ethnic Baluch insurgency blows hot and cold there. Extremist Sunni militias have been behind a spate of grisly sectarian attacks on Pakistani Shiites, including many pilgrims bound for holy sites in Iran, which is a predominantly Shiite country.
Iranian officials have in the past pointed the finger at al-Qaeda-linked group Jundullah, which is responsible for suicide bomb attacks and raids on Iranian soil that Tehran links to Pakistan. The fighters, though, say they are resisting Iranian oppression of Sunni Baluch on its side of the border.
Pakistani news reports this week cited the activity of another militant group, Jaish al-Adl, a Salafist organization which has already targeted Iran this year, including abducting five Iranian border guards in February. Four were released, but one was killed.
Meanwhile, hostile Iranian actions have led to Pakistani civilian deaths. Rockets fired by Iranian guards have killed about a dozen Pakistani civilians in the border region over the past decade, reports the Karachi-based Dawn newspaper.
The current round of border tensions take place over a wider and even more fraught geopolitical landscape. The historic region of Baluchistan was the arid wasteland through which Alexander the Great's armies left India more than 2,000 years ago. But beneath its soil are largely untapped oil and natural gas reserves.
A massive Chinese-financed port at Gwadar, on the Pakistani side, is being matched by a similar Iranian development at Chabahar, which has attracted a considerable amount of investment and interest from India. Both spots may become linchpins for trade and other strategic interests in the region, and their emergence has been cast by some as a sign of India and China's growing rivalry in Asia.

India warns Pakistan of more pain in Kashmir fighting

India warned Pakistan on Tuesday of more "pain" if it continued to violate a ceasefire on their disputed border in Kashmir and said it was up to Islamabad to create the conditions for a resumption of peace talks.
The two sides exchanged mortars and intense gunfire this month, killing at least 20 civilians and wounding dozens in the worst violation to date of a 2003 ceasefire. While the firing has abated, tension remains high along a 200-km stretch of the border dividing the nuclear-armed rivals.
"Our conventional strength is far more than theirs. So if they persist with this, they'll feel the pain of this adventurism," Defence Minister Arun Jaitley told NDTV in an interview.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government came to power in May promising a tough response to violence in the Himalayan territory. It accuses Pakistan of helping Islamist militants cross into its side to keep alive a 25-year armed revolt in India's only Muslim-majority state.
Military officers on both sides say Indian border commanders adopted a more aggressive stance in the clashes this month, firing 1,000 mortars on one day this month.
It was not clear what triggered the fighting.
Pakistani army officials said the trouble began with India's decision to beef up border defences, in violation of the ceasefire pact.
Indian army commanders, for their part, were incensed by the killing of a soldier on their side of the Line of Control in Kashmir in a remote-controlled explosion that they blamed on militants backed by Pakistani army regulars.
"When Pakistan used to fire, we always had a shield in our hand. This time we also had a sword," said Jaitley, a close associate of Modi who is also finance minister.
Modi invited his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, to his inauguration as part of a push to rebuild trust with neighbours. But while relations with the smaller neighbours are improving, Pakistan has remained a stumbling block.
In August, the Modi government abruptly called off talks between the two countries' top diplomats, objecting to Pakistan's ambassador to New Delhi holding talks with Kashmiri separatists ahead of the meeting.
Jaitley said it was up to Pakistan to create the conditions for dialogue.
"Of course we can talk to Pakistan, but it is up to Pakistan to create an atmosphere for talks. Pakistan has to stop triggers which upset the environment in which talks are held," he said.

Pakistan : Blast targets polio team in Bajaur Agency

At least three people, including two security forces personnel and a driver, were injured in an blast targeting a polio team travelling through the Mamund area of Bajaur Agency Wednesday morning.
Officials said an Improvise Explosive Devise (IED) device was planted on the roadside and detonated when the vehicle was passing by. As a result of the blast, the vehicle was damaged and three people were injured, including the driver of the vehicle.
The injured were shifted to the Agency Head Quarter Hospital and so far, no deaths have been reported.
A three-day campaign, which commenced on Monday, was due to end today in Bajaur Agency.
According to a surgeon, Zakir Hussain, of Agency hospital about 224, 000 children were to be immunised in the three-day campaign and 1,600 teams were formed for the entire campaign, which include levy officials and peace committee volunteers.
Polio teams across the country have recently been subject to similar target attacks and are often bereft of security when carrying out anti-polio campaigns.
About 42 union councils had to postpone their anti-polio campaigns due to lack of security.

Pakistan _ The Khyber Ultimatums

The people of Khyber Agency are trapped on all sides at the start of Khyber-I, a military operation to dislodge Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI) militants from the area. LI has threatened the people of the region with death if they leave the area; threatened to blow up their houses. These tribesmen are a human shield for militants as the army comes down on LI in the area. Even mere proximity to militant outfits has been a curse for the people of the tribal areas for the past ten years. This threat to civilians comes as the three-day deadline in Jamrud and Bara areas ends. The army had given an ultimatum to the militants to lay down arms and surrender, or face a full fledged operation. Hundreds of families from the Tirah valley are now displaced in the face of a never-ending war.
The chief of LeI extremist group, Mangal Bagh, refused to vacate three key strategic positions in the remote Tirah Valley. However around 100 militants have surrendered. We can only hope that more will surrender before there is gross damage to civilians but they will always be caught in the crossfire. The surrenders resulted in retributory action from Mangal Bagh’s loyalists, who burnt down the houses of 30 tribesmen for aiding the security forces. One must remember than those who carry arms have close kinship ties with those who don’t. These are blood and tribe relations; whether a militant surrenders or not, the brunt will be borne by civilians, through military action or militant action. While we see figures of the army having killed an X or Y number of militants, we don’t get to see the physical or emotional destruction of those left behind. As much as the army is supported in its efforts to keep Pakistan safe, the rehabilitation of the people of the region, and also of those who have surrendered, must be top priority for the government and military. The actions of many militant outfits in the tribal regions have now come down to a tit-for-tat kind of skirmishing, and there has to be a strategy to disarm and debrief them. We cannot slowly become a nation of displaced people and refugees.

Tensions on Pakistan - Iran border

WHILE certain sections of the geostrategic community in Pakistan have always touted the geographic importance of the country and the enviable place it has as a regional trade corridor, the reality is that the state’s borders have more often proved a liability than an asset over the decades. With friction on the Pak-Afghan border having been a near constant over the last decade and the Pak-India border — or, more specifically, the Line of Control and Working Boundary with Kashmir — having flared up recently, a third border has seen a rise in tensions over the last week: Iran-Pakistan. A flurry of diplomatic activity has followed the killing of a Pakistan Frontier Corps soldier in an attack on Pakistani soil by Iranian border security forces and the Iranian side at least seems to be in a bellicose mood. This is not the first time this year that the Iran-Pakistan border has been a flashpoint: earlier the abduction of Iranian border guards caused a sharp response from Iran and small, localised incidents on the border are frequent enough.
The basic problem is well known. Iran accuses Pakistan of allowing its territory in Balochistan to be used to destabilise the Sistan-Baluchestan region in Iran — though the Iranians usually make the connection to foreign (read Western) intelligence services operating in the Balochistan and southern Afghanistan region. Yet, the problem is much wider than what Iran often claims and not necessarily uni-directional. The porous Iran-Pakistan border that runs over 900km is a magnet for smugglers — of humans, drugs and petroleum products — criminal elements and even militants. While Iran has invested more than Pakistan in shoring up its border controls, security officials here have privately over the years suggested that Iran is not above interfering in Balochistan and southern Afghanistan, especially given the Shia Hazara population in the region.
Identifying the problem though does not mean that either side has been particularly keen on solving it — not that cross-border movements in remote regions can ever really be fully eliminated, especially when there is a significant financial incentive. But surely, given the alarming potential for friction that exists on the Pak-Iran border, it is in the interests of both sides to go beyond diplomatic barbs and systematically diminish the threat. The Pak-Iran relationship has over the years been characterised by coolness towards each other, not just because of Pakistan’s closeness to Saudi Arabia and its relationship with the US, but also because neither country’s leadership has been willing to think in creative or innovative ways to improve ties. The physical links that the IP gas pipeline, surplus electricity supply from Iran to Pakistan and higher volumes of official trade would create could help make ties mutually beneficial and move them away from the present security-centric character. But for that to happen the leadership on both sides would need to show greater vision.

Pakistan : 25 million children deprived of education

Pakistan faces an education crisis of unprecedented proportions with nearly half of all children of school-going age not in school.Although there is a broad consensus on the problem, its magnitude remains a matter of debate. There is no agreed official figure for the number of out-of-school children (OOSC) in Pakistan.In its new study, 25 Million Broken Promises: The Crisis of Pakistan’s Out-Of-School Children, released Tuesday, Alif Ailaan revealed that currently an estimated 52.90 million children in Pakistan between the ages of 5 and 16, almost half of whom (25.02 million) are not in school. Balochistan is home to the highest proportion of OOSC, with 66 % of all children in that province out of school. In absolute terms, more than half of the total number of Pakistan’s OOSC are in Punjab (52 %).The number of OOSC in Pakistan range from 8.82 million to a staggering 25.02 million.
This wide variation arises from the fact that publicly available sources of education statistics are marred by inconsistency, methodological problems and sampling issues.The findings of the report also confirm other worrying trends in Pakistan’s education system. The gender disparity in access to education is evident. More than half of all OOSC in the country are girls, with the greatest disparity in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), where as many as 50% of girls are not in school.Other findings of the study are equally worrying. For example, the statistics reveal that among children of primary-school-going age, almost one in every five is not in school. What is even more troubling is that this proportion increases at higher levels of education.
By the higher-secondary level, almost 85% of children are not in school.Area of residence has an impact on a child’s access to education. For both girls and boys, access is more difficult in rural areas and the gap widens at higher levels of education. Similarly, children belonging to low-income families are nearly six times more likely to be out of school compared to their counterparts growing up in richer households.The study reveals that the country’s education system is unable to retain those children who do enrol. Across the country, only 48% of children enrolled in Class 1 are able to reach Class 5. While it is important to make sure that children who are enrolled remain in school, the study shows that 70% of OOSC are children who have never seen the inside of a classroom.

Pakistan : ‘Only one in four schoolchildren make it to grade 10’

By Kashif Abbasi
Only one in four children, who enrol in school in the first grade make it to grade 10. In 2002-03, 2,833,726 children enrolled in the first grade. But by 2011-12, only 718,945 remained in school.
In their latest report, titled Broken Promises: the crisis of Pakistan’s out-of-school children, education campaigners Alif Ailaan estimate that nearly half of all children who enrol in school in the first grade have dropped out by the time they get to the fifth grade.
The report also looks at the wider issue of out-of-school children (OOSCs) in Pakistan, and, seeking to dispel confusion around the actual number, looks at data from various sources in order to come up with a ballpark figure of 25 million.
This figure is closest to the National Education management Information System’s estimate and paints a bleak picture of the state of education in the country.
Talking to Dawn, Rawalpindi Deputy District Education Officer Mohammad Ikhlaq said, “There are three major reasons for the rising dropout rate: in consistency of policies, poverty and a shambolic education infrastructure.”
The report also lays out reasons why children drop out of schools. Among girls, the need for hands to help with housework appears to be the top factor; while most boys are unwilling to go to school because they are simply not interested. This may be due to a lack of interest in the curriculum or unpleasant experiences with corporal punishment at the hands of teachers.
However, since Alif Ailaan do not conduct any primary research of their own and rely on secondary data available from official or reliable sources, the report does not look too deeply into the qualitative side of the matter and does not extrapolate regarding the motivation behind dropouts in any great detail.
“This is indeed an alarming situation. We must act swiftly to control the spiralling dropout rate. A poorly managed system of examinations and teachers’ maltreatment of students are some of the main reasons why children don’t want to go to school,” said Azmat Israil, a Rawalpindi-based school teacher.
“Expressing a commitment to universal enrolment has become easy for politicians. No one denies the problem exists but without knowing the scale of the problem, how can you solve it,” asked Saman Naz, Alif Ailaan Data and Evidence Manager and a co-author of the study.

Malala Yousafzai Receives The 2014 Liberty Medal In Philadelphia

By Diana Rocco and Pat Loeb
In a touching tribute to freedom and education, 17-year-old Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner, received this year’s Liberty Medal for her fight for children’s right to education.
“I speak for those without voice. I speak for every child whose right to education has been neglected,” Malala Yousafzai said. An unusually young audience filled the seats at this year’s Liberty Medal ceremony, but that was fitting.
There were plenty of important adults in the tent on the lawn of the National Constitution Center as CEO Jeffrey Rosen introduced Malala, but the evening belonged to the young people, the 17-year-old’s peers, whom she often seemed to be addressing directly.
“It is we who make history, it is we who become the history. So let us make history, bring change, by becoming the change,” she said. Malala suggested countries stop buying weapons and spend the money on education as a more effective tool against terrorism and reminded: “We all need to protect children’s rights,” she said.
She said she knew she was asking a lot, but the young audience seemed prepared to answer the call.
At 11, Malala began writing published journal entries about living under the Taliban rule in Pakistan and against keeping women out of school. “I had two options. One was not to speak and wait to be killed. And the second was to speak, and then be killed. And I chose the second one because I did not want to live in that situation of oppression,” she said.
Six years ago, three Taliban gunmen boarded her school bus and shot her in the head.
“I realized that liberty comes at a high price and the Taliban attacked me in order to silence me,” she said. “Weakness, fear and hopelessness died and strength, power and courage was born.”
“The courage and hope embodied by Malala should serve as a call to action,” First Lady Michelle Obama said.
Malala’s voice has inspired world leaders and given hope to young women. Her journal entries were read on stage by local teens with their own accomplishments.
“She’s had a hard fight and now she’s here. Her stories are being told everywhere,” Taney Dragons pitcher Mo’ne Davis said.
“For her to go beyond those boundaries it really inspires everybody,” Mt. Saint Joseph Academy student Colleen McBride said. During the ceremony, Malala announced that the $100,000 she receives for being awarded the Liberty Medal will go to educating children in Pakistan.

High in Pakistan's mountains, women break taboos

By Gohar Abbas
A group of young Pakistani girls sit on a carpeted floor listening as their teacher writes on a whiteboard, preparing his students for the rigours of climbing some of the world's highest peaks.
This is Shimshal Mountaineering School, tucked away in a remote village in the breathtaking mountains of Pakistan's far north, close to the border with China.
While most of Pakistan's overwhelmingly patriarchal society largely relegates women to domestic roles, in the northern Hunza valley, where most people follow the moderate Ismaili sect of Islam, a more liberal attitude has long prevailed.
Now the women of the region are breaking more taboos and training for jobs traditionally done by men, including as carpenters and climbing guides on the Himalayan peaks.
"You have to be careful, check your equipment and the rope, any slight damage can result in death," Niamat Karim, the climbing instructor warns the students.
Karim is giving last-minute advice to the eight young women who are about to embark on a practical demonstrations of climbing class.
They are the first batch of women to train as high altitude guides at the Shimshal Mountaineering School, set up in 2009 with support of Italian climber Simone Moro.
- Isolated community -
The women have spent the last four years learning ice and rock climbing techniques, rescue skills and tourism management.
At 3,100 metres (10,000 feet) above sea level, Shimshal is the highest settlement in the Hunza valley, connected to the rest of the world by a rough jeep-only road just 11 years ago.
The narrow, unpaved road twists through high mountains, over wooden bridges and dangerous turns with the constant risk of landslides to reach the small village of 250 households.
There is no running water and electricity is available only through solar panels the locals buy from China, but despite the isolation, the literacy rate in the village is 98 percent -- around twice the Pakistani national average.
It has produced some world famous climbers including Samina Baig, the first Pakistani woman to scale Mount Everest.
The people of Shimshal depend on tourism for their income and the village has produced an average of one mountaineer in every household.
The eight women training as guides have scaled four local peaks, including Minglik Sar and Julio Sar, both over 6,000 metres.
For aspiring mountaineer Takht Bika, 23, the school is a "dream come true".
"My uncle and brother are mountaineers and I always used to wait for their return whenever they went for a summit", Bika told AFP.
"I used to play with their climbing gear, they were my childhood toys -- I never had a doll."
For Duor Begum, mountaineering is a family tradition -- and a way of honouring her husband, killed while climbing in the Hunza Valley.
"I have two kids to look after and I don't have a proper means of income," she said.
Begum joined the mountaineering school with the aim of continuing the legacy of her late husband and to make a living.
"I am taking all the risks for the future of my children, to give them good education so that they can have a better future", she said.
But while the women are challenging tradition by training as guides, there is still a long way to go to change attitudes, and so far Begum has not been able to turn professional.
"I know its difficult and it will take a long time to make it a profession for females but my kids are my hope", she said.
- 'I had to support my kids' -
Lower down in the valley, away from the snowy peaks, Bibi Gulshan, another mother-of-two whose late husband died while fighting in the army has a similar tale of battling to change minds.
She trained as a carpenter under the Women Social Enterprise (WSE), a project set up in the area by the Aga Khan Development Network to provide income opportunities for poor families and advocate women's empowerment at the same time.
Set up in 2003, the WSE now employs over 110 women, between 19 and 35 years of age.
"I want to give the best education to my kids so that they don't feel the absence of their father," Gulshan told AFP.
"I started my job just 10 days after my husband was martyred, my friends mocked me saying instead of mourning my husband I had started the job of a men but I had no choice -- I had to support my kids."
With the 8,000 rupees ($80) a month she earns in the carpentry workshop, Gulshan pays for her children to go through school, and she has also used her skills to build and furnish a new house for her family.
As well as giving poor and marginalised women a chance to earn a living, the WSE project, funded by the Norwegian embassy, also aims to modernise local skills.
Project head Safiullah Baig said traditionally, male carpenters worked to a mental plan of houses they were building -- a somewhat unscientific approach.
"These girls are using scientific knowledge at every step right from mapping and design and their work is more feasible and sustainable," Baig said.