Saturday, November 1, 2014

The family that protests against Bahrain's brutal regime

By Jessica Salter
With her father imprisoned for life and her pregnant sister facing giving birth in jail, Maryam Alkhawaja explains why they keep on protesting for democracy
The attempted revolution in Bahrain started quietly, days after President Hosni Mubarak stepped down from power in Egypt in February 2011. It consisted of a few hundred unarmed protesters dressed in brightly coloured T-shirts and jeans, the women wearing headscarves, waving Bahraini flags, proclaiming themselves ‘people of peace’ and calling for democracy.
Then one young demonstrator was shot in the back at close range by security forces loyal to the state’s authoritarian leader, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa. His death changed everything. Thousands of people gathered at the Pearl roundabout – a giant white monument in the centre of the capital, Manama – to protest against his killing, adding fuel to the anti-government movement. ‘It was as if we had been underwater with no oxygen, and suddenly we had managed to get our heads above and were able to breathe for the first time,’ Maryam Alkhawaja, a 27-year-old civil rights protester, told me on the phone from Bahrain in September. ‘I honestly think that if the government hadn’t shot someone on the first day it would not have lasted.’ Nearly four years later, the protests are still going.
In years to come Maryam, her sister Zainab and their father, Abdulhadi, may be looked on as a family who changed the course of history. Undeterred by the threat of arrest and torture, the Alkhawajas fight for democracy in a mainly Shia Muslim country that has been ruled by the same Sunni dynasty for more than 200 years. While Bahrain has an elected legislative assembly, the king is the supreme authority and members of his family hold the main political and military posts.
It is a country where criticising the government, even on Twitter, is an arrestable offence (a friend of Maryam’s, Nabeel Rajab, has been detained in prison since October 2, charged with ‘insulting a public institution’ in a tweet). In September the United Nations voiced concerns about ‘ongoing violations’ of freedom of expression in Bahrain. Yet Maryam and her family persistently criticise the government and are frequently arrested.
Abdulhadi is serving a life sentence in Jaw prison – from which have emerged harrowing reports of torture, including that of child prisoners – charged with ‘organising and managing a terrorist organisation’ (he founded a human rights organisation). Zainab was arrested on October 14 despite being nearly nine months pregnant after she ripped up a picture of the king in court – while already facing a charge of ripping up his picture. ‘We’re worried she will give birth in prison,’ Maryam said. Maryam herself had only just been released from jail, and still had a torn shoulder muscle from a beating she received at the hands of the state security forces.
The Alkhawaja family is the subject of an extra­ordinary documentary, We Are the Giant, made by Greg Barker, an American former war correspondent turned filmmaker. He tells the stories of three uprisings of the Arab Spring – in Libya, Syria and Bahrain – through the experiences of ordinary citizens: Osama, who describes how his 21-year-old son, Muhannad, who was brought up in Virginia, went back to Libya, the country of his birth, to fight Gaddafi’s forces in Benghazi; Ghassan and Motaz, who try to remain committed to peaceful resistance even as Syria becomes an increasingly violent place in which to live; and Maryam and Zainab.
Barker knew he wanted to make a film about the Arab Spring as soon as the protests began to grow. ‘I felt that we were witnessing a revolutionary moment, which comes in waves across history, and this was the Middle East’s time,’ he said.
Unlike Libya and now Syria, Bahrain has not been the subject of Western government intervention. Barker said this was partly because Bahrain is a key Western ally – a US naval base is located on the north-eastern side of the island, as close to Iran as the US can get – and partly because there is a strong pro-Bahraini lobby in both Britain and the US. ‘There are a lot of powerful forces who don’t want this story to be told,’ he said. ‘That’s why we had to do it.’ Since We Are the Giant premiered at the Sundance film festival in January, the Bahraini government has joined the US-led coalition against Islamic State.
Abdulhadi Alkhawaja first got into trouble with the Bahraini authorities as a student, when he was studying in London in the late 1970s. He participated in demonstrations in reaction to the arrests of pro-democracy campaigners; when some of his fellow protesters returned to Bahrain in 1980 they were arrested and tortured. Abdulhadi decided to stay abroad, in self-imposed exile. He met Khadija al-Mousawi, a former teacher who had been forced to leave Bahrain, and they married and moved to Syria, before being granted political asylum in Denmark in 1991, where they lived for 10 years.
During their exile (‘we thought of ourselves as refugees,’ Maryam told me, ‘the intention was always to go home to Bahrain’), their father read books about Bahrain to his four daughters (Maryam is the third, Zainab the eldest). ‘He taught us always to ask questions and understand why we were in exile.’ The title of the documentary takes its name from an anecdote Abdulhadi would tell the girls when they were growing up, Zainab explains in the film. ‘He said the people are the giant and the government is like a small man. But why is it that the little man controls the giant and keeps him in handcuffs?’
In 1999, after the death of his father, the English-educated Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa took power in Bahrain and oversaw reforms that included releasing political prisoners and allowing those in exile to come back to the country. So in 2001, when Maryam was 14, the family returned to Bahrain. But the wave of liberalism wasn’t to last.
Abdulhadi, who had co-founded the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) while in Denmark, continued to campaign. (‘He always told us that doing nothing wasn’t an option,’ Maryam said.) As a result he was regularly intimidated. He was assaulted by government forces in 2002, arrested and beaten in 2004, sustained more injuries in 2005 during a protest (photographs of his back show long red marks from the beating he received) and arrested again in 2007 after a pro-democracy rally (his offences included ‘promoting change to the political system through illegitimate means’). Like her father, Maryam studied abroad, spending a year in the US on a Fulbright scholarship at Brown University. When she returned to Bahrain in mid-2010 she worked for the BCHR. In August that year there was a government crackdown on dissidents; prominent activists were arrested and allegedly tortured. ‘By September my father heard that I was next on the list. He told me to leave the country,’ she said. Maryam moved to London.
In February 2011, inspired by the successful protests in Egypt and Libya, Bahrainis started calling for a day of peaceful protest; when the Bahraini authorities tried to block a popular Facebook page calling for a revolution, the ‘likes’ almost doubled from 14,000 in a few days. (In the documentary, tweets from the time pop up on screen – both from Maryam, who has 102,000 followers of her account @MARYAMAlkhawaja, and Zainab, who tweets as @angryarabiya – highlighting the importance of social media to the uprisings.)
‘As soon as I heard the calls to protest I had to come back,’ Maryam said. She returned on February 9 2011. Two days later President Mubarak stepped down in Egypt. ‘It gave us hope,’ she said. ‘Hope is the reason for all of these revolutions in the so-called Arab Spring; they didn’t cause each other, they inspired each other.’

Turkey and Europe Problems with neighbours

Recent actions push Turkey away from the West and the European Union
THE fallout from Turkey’s relations with Islamic State (IS) knows no end. Its global image is in tatters amid persistent claims of secret dealings with the jihadists, which Turkey denies. Shaky peace talks with the Turkish Kurds are near collapse, because Syrian Kurds in Kobane are still under siege by IS as Turkish tanks look on passively (see article). Friendship with America has soured because of Turkey’s refusal to let coalition war planes use the Incirlik airbase to bomb IS. Now a spat with Denmark over a Danish jihadist is testing relations with the European Union.
Basil Hassan, a Dane of Lebanese extraction, is accused of attempting to murder Lars Hedegaard, a writer with anti-Islamic views, in Copenhagen. He was caught on April 16th by Turkish police at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport after a tip-off. The row erupted when it emerged that Mr Hassan had been freed by the Turks despite Danish demands for his extradition.
Some speculate that Mr Hassan was part of a hostage swap for the 46 Turks kidnapped by IS from the Turkish consulate in the Iraqi city of Mosul in June and released on September 20th. Others claim that Mr Hassan vanished before the deal. Turkey’s justice ministry refuses to comment. It is not clear if three IS fighters arrested over the murders of a policeman, a soldier and a member of the public in southern Turkey in March remain in custody.
Denmark’s prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, insists Turkey must face repercussions for its behaviour, though “taking the issue to the EU now would be out of place.” But a Social Democratic rival, Mette Gjerskov, says EU membership talks must be frozen and Danish troops in Turkey on a NATO mission be pulled out. The EU has also condemned the recent intrusion of Turkish ships into Cyprus’s territorial waters. “I see a genuine concern across the political spectrum as to where Turkey stands,” warns Marietje Schaake, a Dutch member of the European Parliament.
Turkey’s hopes of joining the EU were already dented after the government’s response to last year’s Gezi park protests left at least nine dead. Worries over efforts to quash corruption probes against the president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and his inner circle, to muzzle the press, to censor the internet and to stack the judiciary were all aired in the EU’s recent annual progress report on Turkey’s accession talks. Yet the government is proposing new laws granting the police sweeping powers, including the right to detain suspects for 24 hours without seeking prosecutors’ consent.
David Cohen, an American treasury official, dropped another bombshell by announcing that IS earns as much as $1m a day from illicit oil sales involving “Turkish middlemen”. Turkish officials retort that Turkey sees IS as a threat to its own security and that since the start of this year, 60m litres of contraband fuel have been seized and 65 kilometres (40 miles) of illegal pipelines ripped out. Yet until Turkey “unequivocally joins the coalition against IS,” warns Marc Pierini, a former EU ambassador to Ankara, doubts over its place in Europe and the West “will only grow.”

Japanese jihadists recruited to fight with Isis

Two young Japanese men are suspected of having planned to travel to Syria to fight with Isis after a man returned to the country with his legs seriously injured by bomb shrapnel.
The unnamed men, a 26-year-old Hokkaido University student and a 23-year-old convenience store worker, intended to leave Japan in August this year to join jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq.
Their initial plans were stopped when the student's mother found out but the shop employee again planned to travel on 7 October before police confiscated his passport, Asahi Shimbun reported.
The men are believed to have been recruited and converted to the faith through a bookshop window notice advertising work in Syria in Akihabara, Tokyo, although they allegedly claimed no political and religious motivations, the Japanese newspaper said.
Hassan Ko Nakata, a former university professor and researcher of Islam since he converted to the religion in 1979, is alleged to have given the students advice for travelling the Middle East but he denies influencing the students. In an interview with the Japanese newspaper, he is reported to have said: "I don't pledge allegiance to the Islamic State, nor do I recruit."
Freelance journalist Kosuke Tsuneoka - who converted 14 years ago and was captured for five months by the Taliban in 2010 - is believed by Tokyo's Metropolitan Police Department to have planned to escort them both to Syria.
Police are investigating the owner and employees of the bookstore for connections to the Islamic State, the Asahi Shimbun said.
Yoshifumi Uzawa, from Tokyo, travelled to war-torn Syria in April last year through neighbouring Turkey where he was deployed in a unit with 90 per cent foreign recruits to attack a jail holding political prisoners in Aleppo.
Uzawa, a 26-year old Tokyo University of Agriculture graduate, is reported by The Yomiuri Shimbun to have carried a Klashnikov rifle before he sustained shrapnel injuries to his legs after a cannon fire launched by Syrian government hit the prison.
He told the newspaper: “By the time I noticed we were being attacked, my body had been blasted into the air.” The former student of now-defunct Youth Technical School of the Ground Self-Defense Force, who claimed that he shot his gun a few times but did not kill anyone, converted to Islam in a mosque and was taught how to live as a Muslim.
His YouTube profile shows he subscribed to a channel bearing the black flag used by Isis, which has videos of heavily-armed soldiers in battlefields and making bonfires out of hundreds of boxes of 200 cigarettes.
Uzawa, whose Facebook profile shows him wearing a "keffiyeh" checkered scarf around his head, is said to have felt disillusioned with life in Japan after his agricultural business failed.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga had said on the day of the students' questioning that the government will prevent Japanese citizens from supporting terrorist and extremist groups.
“In line with U.N. Security Council Resolution 2178 and as a member of the international community, we will proactively take measures to prevent terrorism in advance,” he said.
Engaging in war acts against a foreign government is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison in Japan.

Officials: Dozens of Ex-Gitmo Prisoners Joining ISIS

By Sandy Fitzgerald
Former Guantanamo Bay detainees may have joined up with Islamic State forces (ISIS) or other extremist groups within the Syrian border, according to senior Defense Department and intelligence officials.
It's not known just how many released detainees have joined ranks with the Islamic State, al-Qaida, or its affiliated al-Nusra Front in Syria, but sources told Fox News that at least 20 to 30 may be involved.
Other former detainees are helping the groups from outside through financing operations and support for their propaganda campaigns, the sources said.
Much of the ISIS propaganda to date includes the heavy use of social media to actively recruit new fighters and spread the militants' jihadist message to people around the world.
It appears, though, that only a few dozen of those being released from Guantanamo return to active fighting. According to Defense Department and intelligence officials, out of the 620 detainees who have been released, 180 have returned to fight with militant forces. Of those 180 people, just 20 or 30 have joined with the Islamic State forces or other militants in Syria, or are participating from outside countries.
Most of the 20 to 30 people involved are inside Syria, officials told Fox.
The news that some of the prisoners leaving Guantanamo are joining militant forces may complicate President Barack Obama's inaugural promise in 2009 to shut down the facility, which was opened in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
But there have since then been problems with relocating prisoners, as well as the growing concerns about some returning to the battlefield. In addition, Congress has resisted allowing the detainees to be moved to American prisons.
Most jihadists who decide to return to the Middle East stay in their own countries, but the ones showing up in Syria are migrating from six European and several African countries, such as such as Egypt and Tunisia, who took them in when they left Cuba, Fox reports.
Just 149 detainees remain incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay. Ninety of them are from Yemen.
A senior administration official said earlier this month that Obama is considering the use of executive power to override a congressional ban on bringing Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States, which would allow him to achieve his goal of closing the detention facility.
The official, speaking under conditions of anonymity to The Wall Street Journal earlier this month, said the president is "unwavering in his commitment" to closing Guantanamo before he leaves office in two years, and considers the closure part of his presidential legacy.
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Commentary: Afghan president's China tour augurs well for peace, prosperity in region

Editor: Zhang Hao
Chinese President Xi Jinping was the first foreign leader to embrace Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's visit, a clear indication of the importance that Beijing has attached to its relations with its neighbor.
While China is currently the world's second largest economy and an emerging global power, its neighbor Afghanistan remains plagued by the Taliban-induced violence and terrorism causing the country' s economy and stability to suffer.
The visit, therefore, of Ghani to Beijing was propitious and largely beneficial to Kabul not only in terms of enhanced bilateral trade relations but also in promoting peace and stability in the region.
The highlight of Ghani's four-day state visit to Beijing was his meeting President Xi and the signing of a cooperation agreement between the two countries.
Ghani also met with Premier Li Keqiang and other top Chinese officials. The Afghan leader was accompanied by top officials of the newly-installed unity government in Kabul and several Afghan businessmen.
As part of his China visit, the Afghan president attended on Friday the fourth ministerial conference of the Istanbul Process. This year, the edition of the conference was hosted by China.
Aimed at boosting regional cooperation and strengthening security and development in Afghanistan and its neighbors, the Istanbul Process, also known as Heart of Asia process, was launched in Istanbul, Turkey in November 2011.
The Istanbul Process has been trying to resolve the blame game between Kabul and Islamabad on the issue of the Taliban and other insurgent groups operating in the mountains that separate Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Kabul has oftentimes claimed that the Taliban have used their sanctuaries in Pakistan in launching attacks in Afghanistan, indicating that the Islamabad government has prior knowledge of the attacks, a charge that has been repeatedly denied by Pakistani authorities.
Since China is both friendly to Kabul and Islamabad, analysts say Beijing can be relied upon to use its influence and vast resources to resolve the long-standing feud.
One of the more tangible results of Ghani's visit to Beijing was China's grant of 500 million yuan (81.8 million U.S. dollars) to Afghanistan for 2014 and a further 1.5 billion yuan for the next three years from 2015 to 2017.
Availing of the opportunity in the post-Taliban Afghanistan, China has invested in the mega economic project of Aynak Cooper Mine and Oil and Gas Field that has benefited both countries.
China, as a big power, can help Afghanistan achieve lasting peace and economic stability, said Samimullah Samim, an Afghan legislator.
The Afghan media have attached great importance to Sino-Afghan relations as shown by their extensive coverage of Ghani's visit to China and his meetings with Chinese leaders.
Needless to say, China, as super economic power and good friend of Afghanistan and Pakistan, can use its political clout and economic influence in curbing militancy and stabilizing Afghanistan.
The centuries-old strong ties between Afghanistan and China have endured through the years because of their shared goals in prompting peace and prosperity in the region.

Delhi, Kabul warn China: Pakistan maybe your ally but it exports terror

Ananth Krishnan
With rising concerns in Beijing on the spread of terror from Pakistan hitting its frontier Xinjiang region, China has appeared to rethink its long-held reluctance to discuss regional concerns — particularly in New Delhi and Kabul — on cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan, according to officials present at Friday's key regional meet on Afghanistan.
Indian and Afghan officials present at the fourth "Istanbul process" foreign ministerial Afghanistan conference being held in Beijing told India Today that there was a discernible shift in China's stand on terrorism, in the wake of a string of attacks in its western Muslim majority frontier region, blamed by the authorities on the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), some of whose members are thought to be hiding out near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
Terrorism received prominent attention at Friday's consultations. And unusually for a meeting being hosted in Beijing, Afghan officials were outspoken about their concerns on extremist groups operating close to the Pakistan border.
Speaking after the conference, Afghan Foreign Minister Zarar Ahmad Osmani said to a question from India Today about cross-border terror that "the reasons for the existence and presence of terrorism in the region has to be identified".
"One of the issues that was under discussion at this conference was the presence of Taliban in Afghanistan," he said. "The reason for their presence has to be identified," he added, alluding to Afghan concerns on Pakistani support for groups in border regions.
Osmani said, speaking through a translator, that the regional effort would not only need international cooperation, but also an effort to address factors "outside and inside Afghanistan" that "provide a situation for (militant groups)" to exist.
Asked by India Today if China was prepared to take steps to address Afghan and Indian concerns on terrorism emanating from Pakistan, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, "I am happy to tell you that among the confidence building measures we agreed today, the first is on counterterrorism".
"We believe that the international community should not accept any forms of terrorism," he said. "During the conference we have had an extensive exchange of views on the topic."
An Indian official present at Friday's meet said that it was striking that the terror issue took centre stage. "At one point this was as sensitive for China as [raising] the South China Sea" considering Beijing's "all-weather" ties with Pakistan, the official said.
India was represented at Friday's meet by Minister of State for External Affairs Gen. (retd) VK Singh.
Speaking to the Indian media following his meeting with Foreign Minister Wang, he said China was "concerned on the spread of terrorism", which was also concern shared by India. "We had a convergence of views on this particular issue," he said. "Afghanistan should not again become a safe haven for terrorism. China said India should continue to play an important role for security issues in Afghanistan".
Gen. (retd) Singh, who is also Minister of State for Development of the North Eastern Region, said India and China were working on taking forward the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor project, which could have a bearing on the Northeast's economy.
He said the first priority was to boost infrastructure for the eight northeastern states, with the new government increasing allocations, such as a 58 per cent rise in the railway budget. "Our projects were in hibernation in the last 15 years," he said, "including the road network".
India is also beefing up air connectivity in Arunachal Pradesh. "For Itanagar airport, the land problem has been sorted out, at Pasigath the runway has been lengthened," he said. For strategically significant Tawang, located near the China border, he said he was hopeful "one day Tawang will take an aircraft". "The availability of land is not there, and we have to look at it differently," he said. "We have to put people to study [the possibility]."
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Afghanistan’s new first lady supports niqab ban by France

The new first lady of Afghanistan Rula Ghani has said she supports the decision by the government of France to ban women from wearing the full veil/burqa in public.
Speaking during an interview with Agence France-Presse (AFP), the first lady said she was in full agreement with the government of France regarding the controversial ban on niqab.
She compared the full veild to ‘blinders’ and said, “Regarding the French law against the niqab and burqa which prevent women from being able to move freely and see, because the niqab is a bit like blinders, I am in full agreement with the government of France.” The French law banned wearing full veil in public in 2011, igniting a fierce debate and criticisms that the law was targeting Muslim women. Introduced in 2010, the law makes it illegal for anyone to cover their face in a public place. The remarks by Afghanistan’s first lady comes as she is preparing to campaign for more respect for women in her conservative adopted homeland. She is expected to start charitable works for women and children and internally displaced individuals who are in need of assistance. She said she hopes that by the end of her husband’s five-year term, ‘men in Afghanistan will be more inclined to recognize whatever role their wives take.”
Now aged 66, Ghani is with degrees from leading universities in France, Lebanon and the United States. She returned to Kabul in 2002 when her husband returned home as Afghanistan’s finance minister.


By Monish Gulati
A two-day track 1.5 dialogue between China, Afghanistan and Pakistan was organized by Pakistan-China Institute (PCI) in Islamabad on Oct 19-20, 2014.
Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong, Afghan Ambassador Janan Mosazai, Chairman of the PCI Mushahid Hussain and other strategic analysts, academicians and diplomats attended the dialogue to discuss the current security and political situation in Afghanistan and its implications for neighbouring countries.
The special guest at the trilateral was Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz. The first trilateral dialogue was held in Beijing in August last year under the joint auspices of China Institute of International Studies (CIIS) and the PCI. The third round of this trilateral conference is planned to be held in Kabul next year. This article contextualizes the outcomes of the second trilateral dialogue.
The First Round
At the first round of the trilateral dialogue in Beijing, the Chairman PCI introduced the concept of ‘Greater South Asia’ as an economic entity emerging beyond the sub-continent; and voiced appreciation for Pakistan for hosting 5 million Afghan refugees on its soil. Zhou Gang, the former Chinese ambassador to Pakistan, stated that the US should not maintain its military presence in Afghanistan post 2014. The Chinese diplomat also expressed concern regarding spread of terrorism to Xinjiang, even as he recognised the sacrifices made by the Pakistani people in combating terrorism and expressed China’s support for Pakistan in this regard.
The Second Trilateral
The current second trilateral was seen as an opportunity to put forth specific policy recommendations on the issues of peace and security, regional economic cooperation and combating terrorism, extremism and drug trafficking. On the security situation it was felt that Al Qaeda can hold “central position” for a short term, but the influence of Islamic State-inspired groups will increase and the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), on the other, hand may not remain a cohesive entity. In Afghanistan countering ethnic factionalism will be challenge and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) may continue with its attempts to influence political developments. But implications of the continued NATO presence in Afghanistan were not fleshed out.
Commending Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts and its role in region affairs, the Chinese Ambassador Sun said China appreciates Pakistan’s steps to promote dialogue and improve relations with Afghanistan. The impact of the Silk Road economic zone, Pakistan-China economic corridor and Central Asia economic belt were discussed. Li Qingyan of CIIS said the economic integration of Pakistan and China was on track and postponement of President Xi Jinping’s visit to Islamabad would not affect ties.
It was also felt that New Delhi is enhancing its role in Afghanistan to define security contours of the region and isolate Pakistan. Yet, as enhanced trade and economic relations can facilitate regional peace Pakistan needs to support more economic and social development in Afghanistan as India has been doing. Yet there was little discussion on taking the Pakistan-Afghanistan-India transit trade agreement forward.
A five-point recommendation was presented by PCI for “Way Forward” in cooperation between China, Afghanistan and Pakistan at conclusion of the two-day Trilateral Dialogue. The recommendations called for creating Joint Trilateral Task Forces on Counter Terrorism and for promoting the Central Asia Economic Belt and Pakistan-China Economic Corridor. A trilateral business council, involving the private sector and annual trilateral Media Conference to promote communication and better understanding were suggested. Joint Trilateral Youth Summer Camps for students and youth of the three neighbours to assemble by rotation in Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan, Xinjiang province in China and the Wakhan region of Afghanistan were also proposed.
Recommendations of dialogues of this nature are largely Confidence Building Mechanisms and aimed to enhance the feel good factor; yet they have to be cognisant of ground realities. Despite the prickly issue of Pakistani support to the Afghan Taliban, and the fact that consequent to Operation Zarb-e-Azb against militants in North Waziristan Afghanistan is willy-nilly now a party to the internal security situation in Pakistan, the Trilateral skirted the issue of security dynamics between the two neighbours. The cancellation of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Pakistan in September appeared to be seen more as a one-off consequence of a political hiccup than being symptomatic of the tenuous and recurrent internal security situation in Pakistan. The implications seemed papered over by the excitement due to acceptance of Pakistan’s application for full-member status of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) along with India, at the SCO summit in Dushanbe held Sep 11-12.
However, what should have played on the minds of the gathering is the fact that on Oct 10, during a meeting of Pakistan Senate’s Standing Committee, the re-routing of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor on security considerations was debated. China and Pakistan have decided to re-route the corridor mostly through Punjab, in the process avoiding some of the country’s most restive areas in both Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. China is therefore not only seeking security assurances in Pakistan, but also a more stable political environment. Recently Chinese state owned enterprises have declined to accept Pakistani sovereign guarantees for providing project finance.
China is also concerned at potential Islamist spill over to Xinjiang, as the issue is acquiring worrisome proportions. In a raid in Xinjiang region on Oct 12, four ethnic minority Uyghur men armed with knives and explosives stabbed an unknown number of police officers as they stormed a township market hurling explosives and attacking Han Chinese stall owners before they were gunned down. The attack left 22 people dead, including police officers. The upsurge of violence fuelled by ethnic tensions has resulted in around 300 dead in the past year and half in the region. The reported association of Uyghurs with the Islamic State and the IS presence in Afghanistan would be an added cause for concern.
Though there was consensus at the trilateral that China is well positioned to play a proactive role in Afghanistan because of its policy of non-interference and quest for enhanced economic engagement, China has in the last few years demonstrated little or no staying power in deteriorating local security conditions in either Pakistan or Afghanistan. Hence it will remain for both Pakistan and Afghanistan to provide the required security environment for any meaningful Chinese investment. Further, China has shown little appetite for a leadership role on security issues in the region or to articulate how the continued US presence in Afghanistan affects its approach.
There was little mention of Iran, a key player in Afghanistan, and the ongoing tension between Pakistan and Iran due to various reasons, including the Saudi-Iran proxy tussle in the Middle East. Recently Iranian border guards attacked and killed a Frontier Corps (FC) soldier and injured another three in Pakistan’s Mand area. Earlier, 30 Iranian border guards had entered Pakistani territory and taken the residents of Nokundai, another Pakistani border town, hostage. More recently, forces along the border have exchanged mortar fire. Regional cooperation on Afghanistan involves Iran as much as it does Pakistan.
Hence a trilateral on fostering regional cooperation and trade that disregards Iran and considers India a “spoiler” is actually assessing the environment selectively, and deliberations of such a caucus are bound to be stilted.

Poor disaster management makes India and Pakistan vulnerable

Cyclone Nilofar has lost much of its intensity and is unlikely to cause much damage in the coastal areas along the Arabian Sea, but a lack of disaster preparedness in India and Pakistan has raised many serious questions.
From a "severe tropical cyclone," Nilofar abated to "severe" by Friday, October 31. The Arabian Sea storm is moving north-eastwards towards the western Indian state of Gujarat and the southern coastline of Pakistan with a wind speed of 70-80 kilometers per hour. The cyclone is expected make landfall by Friday night.
The Indian authorities had shifted thousands of people out of the way of cyclone by Wednesday, October 29, whereas Pakistan, too, geared up for potential large-scale evacuations.
"We have identified more than 30,000 people who will be shifted from coastal areas to safer places by this evening," M. S. Patel, an official in Gujarat's Kutch district, told the news agency AFP on Wednesday.
Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) said it had ordered local officials to prepare for evacuations in villages along the coast. "We have estimated some 50,000 people who might be evacuated if the need arises," said Ikhlaque Qureshi, a PDMA official.
The cyclone's eye will pass around 250 kilometers from Karachi, Pakistan's most-populous city with over 18 million people. "The sea conditions along the Pakistan coast are likely to remain rough to very rough from today (Friday) till Saturday, and the fishermen of Sindh and Balochistan (provinces) are advised to keep their activities suspended," said Aleemul Hassan of the Pakistan Meteorological Department. Authorities clueless
But DW Karachi correspondent, Rafat Saeed, says that the authorities were simply not prepared to cope with a potential disaster: "The PDMA is a non-functional body. The issue is not whether Cyclone Nilofar had subsided or not; the main problem is that nobody was ready to deal with a possible devastation."
If there were a massive cyclone, or an earthquake in Karachi, the catastrophe would be of an unimaginable magnitude, because in Pakistan the disaster management body does not exit, Saeed adds.
Gahanwar Brohi of Insan Dost Welfare Organization, a disaster recovery and relief organization, told DW that Pakistan's readiness for natural calamities had slightly improved in the past few years.
"The government is a bit more active than before. But that doesn't mean that it is capable of mitigating the effects of a large-scale disaster," Brohi said, adding that the recent floods in Pakistan's Punjab province proved once again the incompetence and inefficiency of the country's authorities.
Need for better coordination
In September, massive floods ravaged large parts of India and Pakistan. The heavy rain in the Himalayan region caused the swelling of the rivers, ensuing floods that destroyed thousands of houses, roads and fields on their path. According to an Indian official, more than 200 people were killed in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The situation in the Pakistani part of Kashmir and in the Punjab province was not very different. The PDMA put the figure of victims around 280. About two million people were displaced by the floods.
Murali Krishnan, DW's New Delhi correspondent, says that India did well to evacuate people from coastal areas during the recent Cyclone Hudhud in the states of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, but more efforts are needed to improve the country's disaster management, recovery and relief programs.
"This year's flashfloods in Kashmir claimed hundreds of lives and caused huge damage to infrastructure and properties. It certainly raised questions about India's disaster preparedness," Krishnan said. "The monsoon showers were expected - they happen every year - but the administration was neglectful like always," he added.
Muzaffar Ahmad, an Indian official, admits that there is a need for capacity building and better coordination to deal with floods and cyclones.
"Our early warning systems are good but our state disaster relief forces are hampered by lack of human resources," Ahmad told DW. Experts say that Cyclone Nilofar could have wreaked havoc in both India and Pakistan. These are the nature's warnings, they say, but it seems that nobody is ready to pay heed.

Pakistan: Asia Bibi Writes A Letter To Pope Francis Saying, “Pope Francis, I am your daughter Pray For Me”

A Pakistani Christian woman Asia Bibi who has been convicted of committing blasphemy and charged of death sentence under Pakistan’s blasphemy law has pleaded to Pope Francis upon her death sentence.
In her earnest plea she declared, “Pope Francis, I am your daughter, Asia Bibi. I implore you: pray for me, for my salvation and for my freedom. At this point I can only entrust (myself) to God Almighty who can do anything for me.” She writes, “ In her letter to the Holy Father. I am holding tightly onto my Christian faith and trust that God my father will defend me and give me back my freedom. I also trust in you, Holy Father Francis, and in your prayers.”
She added, “Pope Francis, I know you are praying for me with all your heart. I know that thanks to your prayer, I could be set free. In the name of the Almighty Father and his Glory, I thank you for your support in this moment of suffering and disappointment.”
“My only hope is that I will one day be able to see my family reunited and happy again. I believe that God will not abandon me and that he has a plan of happiness and wellbeing for me which will come into being very soon. I am grateful to all Christians across the world who are praying for me and doing everything to help me,” Asia wrote. - See more at:

Pakistan's Shia Under Attack - Takfiri terrorist planned to hit 21 Pakistani Shia scholars, politicians and Iranian envoy
The police Tuesday warned of possible terrorist attacks on Shia religious and political personalities in the country on occasion of 9th and 10th of Muharram. According to a private TV channel, a letter in this regard has been sent to the Ministry of Interior. The police informed that the terrorists had prepared their plan to attack key Shia religious and political personalities and political figures. Those on the hit list include: Iranian ambassador to Pakistan, former interior minister Faisal Saleh Hayat, religious scholar and chief of Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen Allama Nasir Abbas Jafari, Shia Ulema Council Allama Sajid Naqvi, PMLN’s Mushahid Hussain Syed, PPP’s former Senator Faisal Raza Abedi and intellectual Dr Ghazanfar Mehdi. The police said the (takfiri nasbi) terrorists (of banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, ASWJ aka outlawed Sipah-e-Sahaba) had planned to specifically carry out foul plays in Rawalpindi and Islamabad during the Ashura.

EU urges Pakistan - stay on executions

The Express Tribune
The European Union has once again urged Pakistan to abolish death penalty by retaining a moratorium on the capital punishment. It has also asked the country to review its blasphemy laws.
During a meeting with a group of Pakistani lawmakers at the Parliament House on Tuesday, an EU delegation expressed hope that Pakistan by continuing the moratorium on execution and reviewing blasphemy laws could get free access to European markets.
“The delegation said if Pakistan reviews its blasphemy laws and keeps the moratorium intact, the EU will consider Pakistan for duty-free access under its Generalized System for Preferences (GSP) Plus program,” a senior lawmaker who attended the meeting told The Express Tribune. “We, however, said Pakistan cannot abolish the death penalty following its Islamic and constitutional rules,” he added.
Continuing the ban on the capital punishment imposed by the previous government in 2008, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif directed the interior ministry last year to halt executions till further orders.
Since 2008, Pakistan executed only a couple of prisoners while more than 8,000 prisoners are on death row in more than five dozen jails of the country. The foreign affairs ministry has also recommended the government avail the GSP-Plus by extending the moratorium.
EU Special Representative to Pakistan for Human Rights Stavros Lambrinidis also expressed deep concerns over growing violence against minorities in Pakistan.
Senator Farhatullah Babar informed the observers that Pakistan was a signatory to different human rights conventions. “We may not be a champion of human rights –but, yes we have made extraordinary progress by introducing forcing fresh legislation into practice in Pakistan,” he added.
Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed urged the EU to extend its maximum support to Pakistan for acquiring status of the GSP-Plus. Issues of human rights are high on our agenda and the government is making all-out efforts to address them, he added.
“Pakistan is the freest Muslim democracy in the Muslim world,” Mushahid remarked, adding that smooth transition of power from one elected government to the other was a manifestation of the fact that Pakistan strongly believes in democracy and rule of law. Pakistani lawmakers also urged the EU to take notice of human rights violations in Indian-administered Kashmir. Senator Mushahid, who chaired the meeting, also asked the visiting guests to take strong notice of the gross violations of human rights and atrocities of the Indian forces in Indian-administered Kashmir.
Senator Babar pointed out that violation of rights by Indian forces in the disputed Himalayan state needed to be looked into immediately. Senator Mushahid said negative narrative against Islam and racism in the West was creating inconvenience for Muslims in Pakistan. However, he expressed his satisfaction over collaboration between Pakistan and the EU on different issues and expressed hope that bilateral relations between the two would grow further in future.
Stavros Lambrinidis also conveyed his felicitations to the government and people of Pakistan for Malala Yousafzai on wining the Nobel Peace Prize. The EU delegation also included Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the European Union to Pakistan Lars-Gunnar Wigemark.

Pakistan: PTI-PMLN - Lacerations

It is interesting that Imran Khan is trying to bring down the government, while Nawaz Sharif is trying to prevent the no-confidence vote in KPK. The PMLN is only saving itself and its government in the center by not stirring the hornets' nest. If the KPK government dissolves, PTI will quit the National Assembly and elections will be a certainty. Imran Khan has to be very careful to dispel the perception that he is trying to destabilize the country while the other is trying to keep it stable. In his own house, things are breaking apart as the Jamat-i-Islami sees no immediate gains in being a coalition partner. Imran Khan is in deep waters and nobody wants to be associated with him right now. They might be back when he is on a stronger wicket, maybe once the elections are announced. JI chief Siraj ul Haq recently said that the PTI was the same as the PMLN; both are insincere to the people. There were remarks that hurt Imran deeply. But Khan has to realize that there is only so much mileage he can get from his rhetoric of being “clean”. It is not he alone that has to run a government or a country. He is not and will not be a benevolent monarch.
The JI has clout, whether anyone likes how they are ruling in KPK or not. They have been diplomatic where national politics is concerned and forceful when it’s a matter of KPK. And while Haq spoke out publicly against the PTI, his party has taken the words back; politics as usual. PTI would be wise to take signal from this and leave the “Go Nawaz go” chanting, form a plan B to keep their place at least in KPK.
The other interesting development that we might see is PMLN slowly taking back Punjab. Imran has been facing a lot of criticism, and now from a coalition partner too. While MQM and PPP squabble over Sindh, and JI and PTI over KPK, Punjab might still be firmly in the hands of the Sharifs. Time heals all wounds and political memory is short term. PTI needs to have something new up its sleeve to mess with the Sharifs, because it is fast losing ground. JI has been in regular contact with Maulana Fazalur Rehman, who is a known adversary of the PTI. The Maulana has been publicly trying to move a no-confidence vote against the KP government until the Prime Minister talked him out of it. At least they are talking and not resorting to intimidation and violence. Small mercies.

Pakistan: Kaira wants responsible media

Qamar-uz-Zaman Kaira, PPP central secretary information, applauding the role of media as watchdog to ensure transparency has called upon the media entities to ensure authenticity of the news before breaking it, as it could prove fatal to many social and diplomatic affairs.
Kaira was addressing to the participants at a seminar on ‘Role and Challenges of Free and Responsible Media’ organised by PINFO-CR in collaboration with PFUJ here at National Press Club.
Secretary Information Mohammad Azam, representing the government, called upon media to introspect and develop institutional structures and mechanisms to address the arising challenges for playing a constructive role as a vital organ of society. Speaking at the seminar President Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) announced that PFUJ would specifically highlight the issues and challenges faced by the journalist working in far-flung areas, focusing on the conflicts zones of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa/ Federally Administered Tribal Areas where journalists are working under the most dangerous circumstances. “Media has been victimised for years to state the truth and play the role of watchdog. The PFUJ is committed to raising voice for the protection of journalist and freedom of speech on the relevant forums”, said President PFUJ Afzal Butt.
Highlighting the need for regulating media, Mohammad Riaz Ahmed, member executive council PFUJ, said, “Pakistani media should develop an acceptable code of conduct for addressing the emerging challenges of transparency and responsible behaviour.” His views were echoed by the President National Press Club Sheheryar Khan.

Pakistan - Jamaat and PTI

Through the course of his protest Imran Khan has managed to alienate friend and foe alike. The one remaining ally he had left was the Jamaat-e-Islami, which is now the PTI’s only coalition partner in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. But even that relationship has frayed in recent days. The impetus for the dispute between Sirajul Haq and Imran were remarks attributed to the JI chief claiming that Imran and Nawaz were different sides of the same coin. Although the JI has denied Siraj ever said this, Imran took great offence and launched a broadside accusing Siraj of playing on both sides of the wicket. The origins of this dispute can be traced back to Siraj’s negotiation efforts as part of the opposition jirga to end the protests in Islamabad. It was widely believed that Siraj represented a pro-PTI faction of the opposition but now the interests of the two parties may be aligned with difficulty. In recent days, Siraj has urged the government not to accept the PTI’s resignations from the National Assembly. The JI has decided that it wants to be part of the system rather than following the PTI’s lead in overthrowing it and that has caused a rift which may prove irreparable.
The silent factor in this tension is the future of the government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The PTI controls 46 seats in the provincial assembly which, should it lose the JI, would not be sufficient to continue ruling the province. Siraj must now be worried that the PTI will take its protest to the logical end and resign from the KP Assembly too. This would explain his pleading with the government not to accept the NA resignations. The JI has other options though. It has been trying to mend ties with the JUI-F and the two, along with the PML-N, hold enough seats to displace the PTI. And if Imran does end up ordering his MPAs to resign it would likely lead to defections from his own party. Ideologically, PTI members would fit in the JI. All of this should in theory be worrying for the PTI but Imran is playing a different game right now. His entire protest is based on the rejection of politics and he seems not to worry about any damage. The JI is more interested in self-preservation and may have decided Imran is too much of a loose cannon.

Pakistan: Police vehicle targeted in Peshawar blast
A blast occurred when a police armoured vehicle was passing through Frontier Road in Peshawar on Saturday morning, Geo News reported. According to SSP Operations Peshawar Najeeb-ur-Rehman, a blast occurred on Frontier Road that apparently targeted the police vehicle but fortunately it remained safe in the attack and no loss of life was reported. The explosion occurred near Aziz Market in Peshawar, he added. Further details about the nature of the blast are yet to be ascertained.

Altaf Hussain warns Pakistanis of IS threat
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief, Altaf Hussain said on Friday that the Islamic State (IS) or ‘Daish’ as it is referred to in Urdu is the new threat to Pakistan.
Addressing a press conference in Karachi via telephone from London, the MQM Chief said, that Taliban militants are joining ‘Daish’ (IS) ranks. He added that their flags are visible from the south of Punjab all the way till the Federal Capital, Islamabad. He said that the IS, which has been formed by its chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by merging different militant groups, was far more dangerous than the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
Altaf Hussain told journalists, that America asked Pakistan to create the Taliban following the Cold War, adding that Pakistan, United States, Saudi Arabia along with many other states supported the Taliban Mujahideen fighting against the Soviet Union.
Hussain said, he had voiced his concerns about rising Talibanization in Karachi. He also highlighted that while Imran Khan and Dr. Tahirul Qadri are speaking about empowering the middle-class and lower middle-class voters, it was MQM that empowered the middle-class sending representatives from these strata to the assemblies.

Pakistan : PTI-JI - Rewriting textbooks

Oblivious of the world’s progress, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government appears to insist on taking society backwards by reintroducing the doctrinaire Islamist items in textbooks that Ziaul Haq fused into the national curriculum. Since the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) joined the coalition government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) in KP last year, education has been at the centre of its agenda to assert its conservative dogmatic mindset. Now it seems it has managed to implement its project, as KP school textbooks will now include jihad, eliminate pictures of unveiled women, and delineate a strong anti-India narrative. They have gone as far as depicting the 1971 parting of East Pakistan as an Indian conspiracy. What results will such revisionism entail should not surprise us as the country is already suffering terrorism because of this very proselytization that has been poisoning the minds of generations for four decades now. JI is not even ready to spare natural science subjects such as physics and chemistry, regarding which they want to ‘Islamise’ such empirical sources of knowledge. It was the previous secular provincial government of ANP that eliminated many extremist and jingoistic ideas from the syllabi and replace them with relatively tolerant and progressive texts.
However disappointing these new changes may be, one can expect no better from JI whose very ideological base lies in the fundamentalist philosophy of conservatism, but the question arises where is the moderate PTI in this entire tantrum when one would expect it to be at the forefront of resistance to such backward looking changes? Whether it is complicit or helpless, its pregnant silence puts a big question mark on its so-called ‘change’ slogan. If this is what Imran Khan meant by his mantra, the damage PTI could do to national education in case his party comes to power is simply unimaginable. By its collaboration with JI’s agenda, the PTI is definitely laying down the groundwork for generations to come with a poisoned mindset that will never enable them to make any significant progress in today’s world. Meanwhile Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif too seems to have got hold of the wrong end of the stick as his orders to the Higher Education Commission to amend the curricula in a more modern, enlightened direction might not be as fruitful as he thinks. Introducing ideas like constitutional democracy at the higher level will not prove effective as by that time, the student’s mind will already have been indoctrinated by antediluvian confusion. If the prime minister intends to revolutionise the curriculum with reformist and enlightened ideas, this needs to be implemented from the school level and not the other way around.

Pakistan -Terrorist - Mumtaz Qadri, Prison King

By Rafia Zakaria
Prisons are parallels of the world in which they exist; its evils, its injustice, its inequities are all magnified and underscored in miniature and microcosm in the world behind bars.
The dark recesses of Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail constitute such a place where a Pakistan mired in lawlessness makes its pretenses of justice and punishment.
In this barred and locked up representation of the country, a condemned man is king, judge, arbiter of right and wrong.
Mumtaz Qadri is also a killer.
In 2011, employed as a guard, he gunned down Governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer. His victim’s crime, Qadri the killer proudly proclaimed while blood still stained his hands, was to visit and speak up for a poor, imprisoned Christian woman who had been accused of blasphemy.
That was three years ago, but from inside Adiala prison, Mumtaz Qadri continues to dole out death sentences, of which he is still sole judge and jury. So complete appears his control, so unquestioned his elevation to punisher rather than punished that it seems he can use the prison guards to carry out the punishments he decides must be doled out.
As an internal investigation revealed this week, Mohammad Yousuf, a guard who had been deployed to watch over Qadri became the latest tool with which this prison king wielded his wrath. In this case, it took just two weeks to wash over any qualms Yousuf may have had.
At the end of two weeks, Yousuf, a guard, and a member of the Elite Force walked into the barracks where blasphemy convict Mohammad Asghar and blasphemy accused Pastor Zafar Bhatti were being housed. They were his appointed targets. Once inside, Yousuf shot Asghar, a 70-year-old man with paranoid schizophrenia.
Frail and in ill health, Asghar was the perfect victim, easily vanquished. It was Asghar’s insanity that had landed him in prison; his senseless ramblings collected and provided as proof of blasphemy. In a country, without empathy, there is no room for insanity.
Asghar lived despite being shot by Yousuf. There were reports that Pastor Zafar Bhatti had also been hurt, but the news from the darkness within the barracks where accused and convicted blasphemers are kept comes slowly and uncertainly.
What is known, and is clear is that Mumtaz Qadri rules in prison. It was not the first time he had incited an attack, goaded a guard to do his bidding.
The world in prison, where a blasphemy accused can be killed before trial, reflects the world outside.
According to the Center for Research and Strategic Studies in Islamabad, blasphemy cases are on the rise with vigilante mobs and armed assailants all meting out death sentences on the streets of Pakistan. This world beyond the prison walls is also Qadri’s world; caught in the same pangs of hatred that point, accuse, convict and kill without proof and without procedure.
While Qadri was busy coaching Yousuf to kill Asghar, Shakeel Auj, the Dean of Islamic Studies at Karachi University was gunned down by unknown assailants. He, too, had been harassed by allegations of blasphemy contoured to condemn for his dissent against extremism.
A few months before that in May, Rashid Rehman, a lawyer who had represented blasphemy victims in court was also killed.
Between these tales of dead lawyers and scholars are the tales of property takings, business disagreements, vengeance and revenge, all lubricated by an allegation whose very mention is in Pakistan, a death sentence.
Mumtaz Qadri, the prison king, the arbiter of death sentences rules inside prison, but beyond the walls of Adiala is another prison, equally repressive, equally unable to deliver freedom or justice, ruled also by prison kings.

Four new polio cases surface in Pakistan

Four new polio virus cases have emerged in Pakistan, raising the number of affectees to 235 this year, Geo News reported.
According to National Health Institute, three polio cases were detected in Qila Abdullah of Balochistan and one in North Waziristan. P1 virus has been diagnosed in the affected children.
With these four new cases, the number of polio victims have reached to 235 in the current year, out of these 151 were detected in FATA, 48 in Khyber Pakhtunkha, 23 in Sindh, 10 in Balochistan and 3 in Punjab.

Pakistan condemns drone strike that targeted 'good Taliban'

After the US launched a drone strike in South Waziristan that reportedly killed a Haqqani Network commander known as Abdullah Haqqani and an al Qaeda leader, the spokeswoman for Pakistan's Foreign Ministry condemned the attack. From a transcript provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
First about the drone strike this morning, the Government of Pakistan condemns the US drone strike that took place on 0200 hours at Azam Warsak, South Waziristan on 30 October 2014. Pakistan has consistently maintained that such strikes are a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Government of Pakistan is itself taking decisive action against terrorist elements and therefore believes that such strikes are unnecessary and need to be stopped.
Condemnation of the US campaign to kill members al Qaeda and other jihadist groups that pose a threat not just to the West, but to the Pakistani state, isn't the first. Pakistan routinely denounces US airstrikes as "a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity."
The Pakistani government even denounced a US strike that killed Hakeemullah Mehsud, the previous leader of the al Qaeda-linked Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan who was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Pakistanis. [See Threat Matrix report, Pakistan condemns drone strike that killed Hakeemullah Mehsud.]
But more often, the Pakistani government gets upset about the strikes that killed members of the so-called "good Taliban," or the Taliban that don't openly advocate jihad against the Pakistani state. For instance, when a US drone strike killed three Haqqani Network leaders, including a top commander who is said to be a senior financier and aide to the group's operational leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, the Foreign Affairs Ministry was quick to respond. [See Threat Matrix report, Pakistan 'strongly condemns' drone strike that killed Haqqani Network leaders.]
It doesn't seem to matter much to the Pakistani government and military that the good Taliban, such as the Haqqani Network or those loyal to Hafiz Gul Bahadar, aid, shelter, and support al Qaeda, the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, and a host of other jihadist groups. What does appear to matter to the Pakistani decision makers is that the good Taliban wage jihad in Afghanistan and serve as strategic depth against India.
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Pakistan: PPP HR Cell Members condemn violence against OGDCL workers and oppose its privatization
At a meeting held in the PPP Central Secretariat under the Central Coordinator Chairperson Dr Nafisa Shah, the PPP Human Rights Cell members condemned the violence against the OGDCL workers in Islamabad, and resolved against the privatization of OGDCL.
The meeting attended by Fateh Mohammad Hasni, ShahJahan Sarfraz Raja, Asif Khan, Yasmeen Rehman, Akhundzada Chatan, Shazia Tehmas, Shah Fahad, Farhan Shaikh passed a resolution that “We the human rights cell members strongly condemn the police aggression and subsequent arrest of OGDCL workers who were protesting for their right of livelihood. It is ironical that while the government watched helplessly as ‘Azadi’ and ‘Inquilab’ marchers attacked state buildings with impunity, they came down hard on the poor workers and did not allow them to protest peacefully. We demand that cases against the workers are withdrawn forthwith. We strongly oppose privatization of OGDCL which is both a profitable institution and one of immense strategic value. We demand that the government halt the process immediately.”
The Cell Members further resolved to highlight the aggression committed by Indian Army on the LoC and vowed to stand up and fight for the Kashmiri peoples historical right of self-determination in line with Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s vision and UN resolutions.
The PPP Human Rights Cell members further congratulated Malala Yusofzai on winning the prestigious Nobel Prize and applauded Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s visit to Birmingham to congratulate her.