Tuesday, November 11, 2014

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Who will make the Middle East’s new map?

The U.S. wants countries like Iraq and Syria to remain unified failing which it fears complicated new realities will emerge. But those complications are already here.
The present turmoil raging across the Middle East is unfolding on several levels, reflecting the multitude of forces and tensions involved. There is civil war in Syria, an insurrection in Iraq, domestic political unrest in Egypt and others countries and the relative peace that earlier existed between the majority Sunni and minority Shia communities have now been breached with break out of interreligious conflict across the region. One way to understand this turmoil is as an exercise in fundamentally redrawing the region’s map. But the mapmakers have vastly different objectives.
The Middle East since World War I is the legacy of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, and the efforts of the European powers to redraw it in their interests. New states were created by Britain and France to reward wartime allies, to protect key imperial routes and to assure access to oil. But these new states rarely aligned with the tribal, religious or other realities of the region.
Thus were born Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and others. Some have established coherent political spaces, such as Jordan. Others were held together by force. The rulers and systems which did this in places like Iraq, Libya and Syria have been ousted or are under threat, and centrifugal forces are pulling these countries apart.
It seems likely that several of these countries will not survive. Syria and Iraq are foremost, but places like Yemen and Libya are not far behind. They will probably become several smaller states in the coming years, despite western policy preferences for their survival in their present form. It will be a messy few decades.
What will make it even messier is the fact that those vying to replace the existing order have differing aims. Some wish to achieve statehood in terms that we understand – the Westphalian model of sovereign political spaces. Even if some don’t like the idea of some of these peoples achieving statehood because it will complicate the regional picture, groups such as the Kurds do not seek to upset the present international system; they seek to join it. As the chaos of Syria descends even further, groups such as the Alawites may decide to seek their own sovereign spaces for protection.
Others are motivated by objectives incompatible with our conception of the international system. The Islamic State, Al Qaeda and others do not seek statehood as we understand it. Rather, they seek to establish a new order based on a misreading of a mythical idea to bind a community of believers together through common allegiance to religious precepts as to how society should function. It is the ideology of these groups which appears to have influenced those who have carried out the recent attacks in Canada and elsewhere.
Such groups will fail because they have nothing but brutality to offer; they cannot deliver the services that people expect. The likely trajectory for these groups is eventual disintegration into ever smaller groups of extremists, fighting each other as much as anyone else, with considerable attendant chaos and bloodshed. But, in the meantime, they represent a capable set of forces bound together by deeply-held goals. Those seeking to redraw the map along Westphalian lines are fighting each other as much as anyone else.
The making of the new Middle East map can thus be understood, at least in part, as the collapse of the post-Ottoman order, which has unleashed a violent confrontation between those who seek to draw the region’s map based on the idea of statehood, and those who seek to establish another kind of order in the region. The latter seem to have the upper hand in the fighting, for now.
Policy based on fear
The current U.S. policy that countries like Iraq, Syria and others should remain unified is based on a fear that complicated new realities will emerge if they disintegrate. But those complications are already here. Moreover, the West is manifestly unwilling to use the levels of force that would be required to achieve its goals; to put ‘boots on the ground’ over a long period in sufficient numbers to keep existing states together.
The U.S. also says, at least for now, that it is unwilling to countenance the return, or continuation in power, of the kinds of leaders who have shown that they could keep these spaces together, such as Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad. This may change as and if the Islamic State and others continue to spread. By initiating air strikes, the U.S.-led coalition has effectively thrown in with at least some of those seeking to remake the region along Westphalian lines (turning a blind eye to the fact that most of the new states that emerge will probably not be democratic bastions of human rights). It does this in order to help them stop those who see a very different future for the region; one of constant sectarian and religious bloodshed in the service of mythical goals which justify terror and brutality on a level which makes any civilised person shudder. Success is far from certain, and the strikes may just make things worse.
The current turmoil has the prospect to make for new alliances. Iran is as much concerned by the way things are unfolding as we are. Revolutionary rhetoric aside, Iran is a profoundly status-quo power when it comes to questions of sovereignty and statehood. If the nuclear impasse can be breached, the collapse of a regional order may make for some interesting bedfellows.

Correct perception key to China-US ties

To what extent the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting can achieve its goal of boosting economic growth is determined by how China and the US handle relations with each other.
Western opinions hyped that China and the US would fight for dominance in the region. In US President Barack Obama's speech on Monday, he stressed the importance of China and reiterated that the US welcomed "the rise of a peaceful, prosperous China." On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Obama took a stroll together in Zhongnanhai, indicating a relaxed atmosphere between the two leaders.
Although China-US relations have become tense in the past few years, the Chinese people will regard Obama as a moderate president. The mistrust between major powers cannot be easily explained and eliminated, given their lack of experience in doing so.
In the foreseeable future, perhaps no one can tell what the state China-US relations will be. Both Beijing and Washington have been making efforts to know more about each other through cooperation and handling friction. But both insist on using their own means to maintain their national interests and lack the ability of doing so without offending each other. Both hold their bottom lines and are believed to be preparing for the worst-case scenario.
Despite this, the two countries have more in common. In Obama's speech on Monday, he re-stressed Xi's comments, made when the two met in California in June 2013, that "the Pacific Ocean is big enough for both of our nations."
But we still don't quite understand the US. Obama has reiterated that the US will not seek to contain China. Is he sincere? The US has deployed 60 percent of its military to the Asia-Pacific. The US has offered shelter to those seeking the independence of the Tibet and Xinjiang autonomous regions. The Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong also has US backing. The US pivot to Asia strategy has obviously encouraged an anti-China mentality in China's neighboring countries. Meanwhile, the Americans also complain that they don't understand China and wonder what China's real stance toward the US is.
As China develops in all aspects of society, it is not easy for it to explicitly describe its US policy. The contradiction is that the US is the primary target to open our door, but at the same time we have to remain watchful. Perhaps US society also holds the same contradictory feelings about China.
For China, knowing the US is the basis to know about the Western world and is also an indicator for China to make national strategies. For the US, having a correct understanding of China is key to ensuring that no mistakes will occur in its national strategies in the 21st century.
At the current stage, we should admit that it is difficult to achieve this goal. But we have to overcome mutual difficulties. We should avoid viewing each other from the worst perspectives. The Pacific Ocean is big, and our hearts should be bigger.

Poland: Flares vs water cannon in Warsaw as nationalists march on Independence Day

At least 215 people were arrested after clashes broke out in Warsaw. Some Polish nationalists, who took to the streets to mark the country’s National Independence Day, threw flares and stones at police. Law enforcers responded with water cannon.
Tens of thousands marched through the Polish capital Tuesday with many carrying the national flag, while flares and firecrackers were also let off. The march was attended by extremist nationalist groups, such as the Radical Camp and the All-Polish Youth.
Marches through the city’s capital have taken place every year since 2008 and have often led to clashes between rival political organizations.
For the fourth consecutive year the procession turned violent, with a group breaking away as they crossed a bridge over the Vistula river and reached the eastern bank, near the Polish national football stadium.
According to Reuters, they tore up paving slabs and benches from a nearby bus station and started to throw them at police, who were dressed in riot gear.
Law enforcement officers responded by approaching the rioters and using a water cannon truck to push the marches back onto the bridge in the direction they had come. Some outlets report rubber bullets and tear gas was deployed.
At least two police officers were wounded in the clashes, while at least 215 people were detained, Gazeta Wyborcza said.
Though the provocateurs were eventually separated from the march by a police cordon, clashes still go on. Ruptly showed from the scene that police, armed with shields, again had to resort to water cannons to stop the crowd. The people at the stadium were waving flags and throwing flares.
In November 2013, police had to use rubber bullets and pepper spray to disperse a crowd of violent Polish nationalist demonstrators during an Independence Day march in Warsaw, who pelted the Russian embassy with firecrackers and bottles.
Officers in riot gear formed a cordon around the building, as young shaven-headed demonstrators waving red-and-white flags tried to push through. The crowd shouted slogans directed against Russia, Poland’s eastern neighbor, which the demonstrators blamed for World War II atrocities and occupation during the Soviet era.
Poland's foreign ministry criticized the action, saying "there is no justification for hooliganism." National Independence Day has been celebrated since November 11, 1918, when the country gained independence after being partitioned between Russia, Prussia and the Hapsburg Empire.

Mr. Obama’s Message to Myanmar

President Obama was ebullient during his historic visit to Myanmar in November 2012, the first by an American president to a nation that appeared on the cusp of a democratic transformation after five decades of authoritarian rule. But, in the two years since, the military-dominated, quasi-civilian government in Yangon has moved far too slowly on the commitments to reforms it made to the United States when the two nations pledged to begin a new relationship.
On his second visit to Myanmar, which begins Wednesday, Mr. Obama might be tempted to be circumspect about the dispiriting state of change in Myanmar. That would be a mistake. Officials in Myanmar saw the importance of engaging with the United States to put behind an era of sanctions and international isolation. Mr. Obama should firmly remind them that his administration still has tools to accelerate, or delay, that process. Between now and next fall, when Myanmar is scheduled to hold a general election, there is time to press forcefully for meaningful democratic reforms and an end to the persecution of the Rohingya Muslims.
The political shifts this year have not been promising. President Thein Sein vowed early this year that “any citizen” would be allowed to run for the presidency. Yet a parliamentary committee in June voted against a constitutional amendment to fix a rule that forbids the country’s leading opposition leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, from being eligible for that office because her children hold British citizenship.
Besides disqualifying Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi from becoming president, officials in Myanmar appear to be laying the groundwork for an electoral system that would prevent her party, the National League for Democracy, from ever holding a majority by reserving seats for military officers and representatives of ethnic minorities. Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi deserves a shot at leading the nation. This would happen only if the country’s Constitution is amended substantively to give political parties equal footing in future elections.
Beyond the dismal state of political reforms, Myanmar’s leaders have been callous in their response to a crisis sparked by the slaughter in 2012 of hundreds of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State. The government has done little to prosecute the perpetrators of a campaign that human rights activists say amounted to ethnic cleansing. Now the authorities appear intent on further marginalizing the Rohingya through a naturalization policy most would be ineligible for, a tactic that appears designed to drive more into exile. More than 100,000 Rohingya are now confined to miserable camps.
No one expected that Myanmar would become a model democracy overnight. And there have been some remarkable changes. Most political prisoners have been released; brutality by security forces has ebbed; and the media is less censored. Mr. Thein Sein may argue that his government needs more time to make good on the promises he made when Mr. Obama visited in 2012. Some may reasonably take years to carry out; others won’t. Mr. Obama should not mince words when he evaluates the progress on those promises.

Obama, Putin circle each other warily in China

On the surface, President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin were all niceties — a pat on the back here, a pleasantry there. But away from the cameras, the two leaders circled each other warily at a global summit in China, coming face to face while relations between their countries continue to deteriorate.
The White House said Obama and Putin spoke three times Tuesday on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific economic meeting, tackling some of the tough issues that have strained their relationship, including Russia's provocations in Ukraine and support for Syria's embattled government. They also discussed the fast-approaching deadline in nuclear talks with Iran, in which the U.S. and Russia find themselves on the same negotiating team.
Unlike at some of their past meetings, Obama and Putin kept their deep-seated policy disagreements behind the scenes. But their public encounters suggested their relationship remains tense.
Picturesque Yanqi Lake, just outside of Beijing, became the venue for an awkward pas de deux between two of the most powerful leaders in the world. Entering an ornate, wood-paneled room for the start of the summit, Obama and Putin looked a bit like sidekicks to Chinese President Xi Jinping. The summit's host led the way, with the American on one side and the Russian on the other.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?" Putin said in Obama's direction. Yes, it is, concurred a reticent Obama, avoiding eye contact with Putin and addressing his response to no one in particular.
As the three presidents came to a stop at the head of the table, Putin reached out to give Obama a slap on the back. But Obama had turned in a different direction, and it didn't appear that the Putin's hand landed on its intended target.
A few hours later, the two again found themselves in close quarters under an overcast sky as leaders planted trees in honor of their counties. Putin strode confidently up to his tree, ahead of Obama, who clasped his hands behind his back before picking up a shovel and greeting a Spanish TV crew with a wave.
Neither the White House nor the Kremlin offered much in the way of detail about the policy conversations Obama and Putin had on the sidelines of the summit. Putin's spokesman said only that the two had spoken a few times, touching on "bilateral relations, the situation around Ukraine, Syria and Iran."
The U.S. is furious over Russia's presumed role in fueling pro-Russian rebels in neighboring Ukraine. White House officials have accused Russia of sending heavy weapons to the separatists and shelling Ukrainian troops, and have denounced Russia's buildup of forces along the border.
A truce reached in September between the rebels and Ukraine's government is teetering, destabilized by what the White House calls a "blatant escalation" by Russia and rebel-organized elections in eastern Ukraine that the U.S. condemned as a "sham." Vice President Joe Biden, in a phone call last week with Ukraine's president, vowed further U.S. sanctions against Moscow "if Russia continued to willfully violate the terms" of the cease-fire.
Russia's economy has taken a major hit following U.S. and EU sanctions — the ruble has plunged by a third this year and hit an all-time low last week — but Putin has dismissed the notion that he's hurting at the hands of the West. Addressing the Asia-Pacific economic summit here Monday, Putin said his government had the resources to stabilize its currency without taking any emergency measures.
"We want Russia to play a different role," Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser, said Tuesday. "We want Russia to be a stabilizing force on issues that we care about. But they're not going to be able to do that ... if they're violating the sovereignty of a country next door."
Rhodes said Obama wouldn't not be seeking out a meeting with Putin while in Beijing — nor in Brisbane, Australia, where the leaders will once again run into each other during a Group of 20 economic summit this weekend. "Putin knows where we stand," Rhodes said, adding that Obama may discuss Russia's actions with other G-20 leaders.
For Obama and Putin, awkward encounters at international gatherings have become almost expected. But the optics have gained even greater attention as the Ukraine crisis has taken center stage.
In June, on the sidelines of D-Day anniversary commemorations in Normandy, France, Obama and Putin avoided each other during a group photo, with Obama even using Britain's Queen Elizabeth II as a buffer. The two later spoke briefly during a private leaders'
lunch. And during a formal meeting last year during a summit in Northern Ireland, Putin slumped in his chair and sat stone-faced as Obama tried to joke about the Russian leader's athletic ability. Obama later said Putin frequently looks like "the bored kid in the back of the classroom."

Pakistan: US drone kills six in North Waziristan

A US drone fired missiles in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal region on Tuesday, killing six people, official sources said. The sources said that the latest attack took place in Data Khel area of North Waziristan Agency. They said that the unmanned aircraft targeted a moving vehicle in the tribal area. The sources said that some foreign militants were also among the dead and the injured. However, it was yet to be known as to how many people got injured in the attack.

Music Video - Ghazal - Sharab la Sharab la - Munni begum

India Chooses Israel Over US for Latest Defense Purchase

By Akhilesh Pillalamarri
India has decided to buy anti-tank weaponry from Israel instead of the United States in a $525 million dollar deal. Back in August, The Diplomat reported that U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel visited India and suggested that the U.S. and India jointly develop and produce the next generation of Lockheed Martin’s Javelin missile in India. Hagel was reported to have again pitched the Javelin missiles to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September during Modi’s visit to the United States.
However, India eventually chose Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems’ Spike anti-tank missile. The Spike missiles are portable anti-tank missiles that lock on to targets before firing.
One reason for this purchase decision may be because the United States was not willing to go through with jointly producing the missiles in India. However, U.S. officials have said that they are still discussing the Javelin order in the context of a broader push to strengthen defense ties between India and the United States.
Additionally, India may have purchased 8,356 Spike missiles from Israel for various other reasons. Besides technical reasons, India may have acted out of a desire to diversify its purchases while improving Israel-India relations. India-Israeli relations have been growing stronger since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in May. Modi met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York in September during the United Nations General Assembly session and India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh is expected to visit Israel next month. India is Israel’s largest defense equipment customer and Israel is the second largest arms supplier to India after Russia.
In addition to the Spike missiles, India has purchased other military technology from Israel recently, as New Delhi has now cleared projects worth $13.1 billion to modernize its military. For example, the Northern Command of the Indian Army recently purchased 49 Israeli miniature unmanned aerial vehicles to assist in monitoring and patrolling India’s borders with Pakistan and China. These surveillance drones will be used to monitor terrorist infiltration from Pakistan and Chinese troop incursions.

Pakistan’s ISI chief Gen. Rizwan Akhtar visits Kabul

Lt. General Rizwan Akhtar, Pakistan’s newly appointed military intelligence chief visited Afghanistan on Monday to meet with the Afghan government.
Akhtar assumed charge of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) following the retirement of his predecessor Lieutenant General Zaheerul Islam. The main agenda behind Akhtar’s visit to Kabul has not been disclosed so far. The government officials have not commented regarding Akhtar’s visit to Kabul.
According to Tolo TV, Akhtar met with officials of the Afghan National Unity Government (NUG) during his visit to Kabul.
Akhtar is one of the two most powerful men in Pakistan, answerable only to the army chief. He was promoted as a three-star general and appointed Director General ISI in September, more than a month in advance by Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
He is the third senior Pakistani official visiting Afghanistan following the formation of the National Unity Government.His visit to Afghanistan comes as the US Department of Defense accused Pakistan in its latest report for using militant groups as ‘proxy forces’ to carry out attacks in Afghanistan.

Three security men escorting polio workers killed in Pakistan

At least three security personnel who were guarding a polio vaccination team were killed on Tuesday in a bomb blast in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal region.
The officials were guarding a polio vaccination team in Salarzai area of Bajaur tribal region near Afghan border.
Three security personnel were killed and three persons, including two levies men and one civilian official, were injured in the attack, an official from the office of political chief of the district said.
A three-day-long polio campaign is going on in the agency and security was on high alert in the area.
At least 1,600 workers are taking part in the drive to provide medicine to 2,24,000 children in the district.
No one has taken responsibility yet but the country faces massive resistance to its anti-polio efforts by Taliban militants, who consider the vaccines a conspiracy to sterile Muslims and regularly attack polio workers and their police escorts to discourage immunisation campaigns.
Last month three levies personnel were wounded in similar attack in Bajaur during a polio campaign.
Militants have killed at least 64 health workers and their escorts as Pakistan suffered record 235 polio cases this year.
Pakistan, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria, are the only three countries in the world where polio remains endemic.
The WHO in May imposed travel restrictions on people travelling from Pakistan to other countries.

Pakistan : Fanatic Pakistani Muslims Broke Christian couple's Legs So They Would Not Be Able To Run Away

According to the report, the mob murdered a Pakistani Christian couple by burning them alive after torturing them severely on November 4. Latest details reveal that they broke the victims’ legs so that they couldn’t runaway, and then tossed them into a brick kiln where Shahzad and Shamma were burnt alive.
According to details, a mob of about 1500 attacked the building where they were. The infuriated mob took hold of them beat them and so broke their legs so they couldn’t run, tied them to a tractor and then dragged them to the brick kiln. Only some bones, teeth and hair were found at the site according to a police official Bin Yameen.
- See more at: http://www.christiansinpakistan.com/the-mob-broke-shahzad-and-shammas-legs-so-they-would-not-be-able-to-run-away/#sthash.mctT2XSC.dpuf

Pakistan - Bombings, militant attacks in FATA, Quetta: Six dead

Two bombings and a militant attack on a checkpoint in Pakistan killed six people Tuesday, officials said.
The deadliest attack struck the security checkpoint in the northwestern Orakzai tribal region, killing three paramilitary soldiers, government official Naeem Khan said.
He said other soldiers at the checkpoint chased and killed several militants.
In the town of Salarzai in the northwestern Bajur tribal area, a roadside bomb killed two police officers who were preparing to supervise a polio vaccine campaign that’s to start Wednesday, government administrator Sohail Khan said. Pakistani militants oppose the campaign, alleging that western governments would use it to spy on insurgents after the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
Another bomb planted along a road in southwestern Quetta city exploded when a local court judge passed by, killing a boy and wounding 25, police officer Abdur Razzaq Cheema said.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for any of the attacks, which come amid a military push against insurgents in the country’s tribal regions. Suspicion likely will fall on the Pakistani Taliban, who want to enforce their own harsh brand of Islamic system in the country.

Pakistan : Imrans forbidden fancies

Stuck between the rock of knowing his protest is going nowhere and the hard place of not wanting to admit defeat, Imran Khan has straddled the line between articulating a commitment to democratic norms and calling for them to be violated. His latest demand should leave no doubt that Imran is less concerned with democracy than ensuring the best possible outcome for himself personally. Having called for the Supreme Court to investigate last year’s elections – a proposal Nawaz Sharif himself had agreed to more than three months ago – Imran has now modified that by saying that the ISI and MI should be part of the judicial commission. This, it should go without saying, is an audacious and dangerous proposal. The intelligence agencies have clearly defined roles and adjudicating on election results isn’t one of them. They are already busy trying to protect us from internal militant threats and hostile foreign powers. Where investigating allegations of rigging would fit in with their line of work is not something Imran can explain. Moreover, the ISPR had clearly stated that it would not involve itself in domestic political disputes; thanks to Imran’s absurd proposal it may have to reiterate its commitment to strengthening democracy.
Imran’s demand is even odder when one considers that the Supreme Court is currently showing itself to be a neutral umpire – to use one of the PTI chief’s favoured phrases – in the prime minister’s disqualification case. And, as Ishaq Dar pointed out, the government can only request the Supreme Court to form a commission, as it has already promised to do. It cannot even ask for certain judges to be appointed, let alone insist on the intelligence agencies being part of the commission. Dar rightly rejected the PTI’s new proposal since it would require violation of the constitution, drag the military into civilian affairs and create a precedent that any aggrieved party can appeal to the armed forces after losing an election. Imran must have known his latest demand would be rejected but he seems to be at a dead end. Every day he backtracks, makes a new curious statement and then forgets all about it. Previously he had insisted Nawaz resign immediately; now in his Rahimyar Khan speech he wants the resignation only if the commission proves rigging took place. He also wants those guilty – and in Imran’s mind there is no question of innocence – to be tried for treason. There seems to be no end game for Imran, just a constant shifting of the goalposts as he bides his time. But for what? He can’t still be hoping a ‘neutral umpire’ comes to his rescue. Or can he?

Pakistan: PTI - Saving face

After months of labouring under the illusion that his word is law, Imran Khan withdrew his demand that Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif resign at a rally in Rahimyar Khan on Sunday. Imran admitted that the PM was no closer to resigning today than he was before the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s (PTI’s) agitation started. This did not however keep him from continuing to make outlandish demands or amend his pattern of slander, threats, half-truths and improbable ‘facts’ when announcing his decision. Imran said he would accept an inquiry by a Supreme Court (SC) commission to investigate rigging in the 2013 elections so long as it included members of Military Intelligence (MI) and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) (one more in a long series of attempts to drag the military into politics). Pursuant to the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1956, the federal government is the only authority to appoint a commission, the members of which are decided by the government and can include any person it deems fit. The SC does not have the power to form inquiry commissions. The SC late last month rejected the PTI’s petition that the 2013 elections be annulled on the grounds of rigging, because of a lack of evidence.
Though the record shows otherwise, Imran Khan said that the government was responsible for bringing negotiations to a standstill and ran his now usual gamut of accusations of corruption, malfeasance and vested interests. Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid responded by saying that the government had never closed the door to talks but that Khan should cease making baseless allegations against the PM that might hurt the country. Imran condescendingly described the SC as “independent but not impartial” even while demanding the formation of a commission and refused to accept former Chief Justice (CJ) Tassaduq Hussain Jillani as the new Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) because he ‘does not trust him’. Whether this is a reflection of Khan’s poor ability to judge character or simply because as CJ, Justice Jillani did not favour his cause during the agitation is debatable. Certainly Justice Jillani distinguished himself during his brief tenure with notable rulings on the rights of minorities and women, while largely ignoring the political fracas at D-Chowk. It is little wonder then that Imran rejected his nomination. Khan said the commission must be formed by November 30 or his planned protest in Islamabad “would not necessarily be peaceful”.
It seems that Imran Khan is heading from disturbed to dangerously sociopathic. After the sit-in, far from isolating the PM, Imran found himself isolated by every political party represented in parliament by his attempt to de-legitimise parliament as a whole with appeals to popular sovereignty, which fell flat in the face of his limited popularity. His rallies have been well attended but meaningless yet he still felt he has the power to demand the PM agree to resign if the proposed inquiry found evidence of rigging. He failed to specify whether he meant localised instances of rigging of the type that has occurred in several Pakistani elections, or organised and institutionalised rigging. Given his past statements the expectation is the latter, but it would not be the first time that he has reversed his stance at a moment’s notice. Without the oxygen of publicity for his nightly soap-opera, his agitation is effectively over and the PTI has been looking for a face-saving exit ever since this became apparent. Yesterday PTI Vice-President Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the protests had achieved their task of raising awareness. For obvious reasons the party is trying to spin its embarrassing failure into an apparent victory by claiming this was their goal all along. The planned November 30 protest appeared from the beginning as a last roll of the dice to force concessions from the government, but in making threats of violence Imran is again overplaying his hand. If his last demonstration was ‘peaceful’ it is disturbing to imagine what a violent agitation might look like. His threat of violence raises the question of whether he can be considered a responsible leader, let alone one to whom the country’s fortunes could be entrusted.

Pakistan: Forces Of Darkness

For decades, they have colluded with misguided elements of the state to impose their medieval mindset on Pakistan through manipulation, exploitation and sheer force, where necessary. They have spearheaded witch hunts of minorities, created and defended laws that allow blatant victimisation and promote violence, kept women locked up and shut out from public lives and national discourse and stood in opposition to reforms which are necessary to rescue this country and its people from the clutches of ignorance and hypocrisy. And they have done it all in the name of religion, of culture, of values. When they hear calls being made in favour of emancipation of women, protection of minorities and removal of discriminatory laws from the constitution, they feel threatened and find themselves prompted to form an alliance to fight back.
During a meeting held in Lahore on Sunday, a decision was made to unite all Deobandi groups on a single platform in light of recent developments. What are those significant developments that seem to have irked the Maulanas? Obscenity (read presence of women in public affairs), protection of blasphemy laws (read ensuring continued persecution of innocent people) and protection of constitutional provisions declaring Ahmadis non-Muslims (read permission to kill them by playing God). Look at the illustrious line-up. Khadim Hussain Dhillon of ASWJ, an extremist group dedicated to spreading sectarian violence, Hafiz Hussain of JUI, a party considerably angry these days due to the presence of women in PTI’s sit-ins and Maulana Allah Wasaya of Aalmi Majlis Khatam-i-Nabuwat, another group with expertise in victimisation of Ahmadis – to name a few. It has been decided that a seminar will be held on 18 November in Islamabad. Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, whose students have earned laurels in the fields of suicide bombing and other forms of violence; Maulana Ahmad Ludhianvi, whose claim to fame is anti-Shia politics; and Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman, who finds rape far less deplorable than DNA testing, are expected to attend.
It is important to understand that these groups are not overreacting. Each minor step towards moderation and enlightenment presents a real threat to entities whose politics is based on demonising people and ideals. Through relentless indoctrination, religious and otherwise, they instill fear within common people against perceived dangers, and then present themselves as saviours, all the while contributing absolutely nothing on real issues. It ought to be clarified that the Deobandi school of thought, as a whole, doesn’t hold a monopoly over bad ideas. The rot is deep and spread across the landscape. Regardless, it is perhaps a positive development that they have come forward openly so that people can easily identify and subsequently deal with the problem. The struggle against agents of bigotry and sexism has to be relentless and vocal, and it must come from all quarters who value freedom.

Pakistan: ISIS appears in Lahore

Lahore police have launched a manhunt to track down the elements behind an “ISIS campaign” after discovering distribution of pamphlets and display of posters on the boundary walls in some parts of the city.
“We are investigating the matter. This is a very serious issue. A criminal case has been lodged against unidentified persons with Nawab Town police,” a senior official told this reporter, seeking anonymity.
Sources revealed that the Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif also took notice of the campaign after looking at some intelligence inputs. The Punjab Inspector General of Police has been directed to submit report to the CM Secretariat within days.
Police are investigating the development, which shook the security agencies too, after ISIS pamphlets and flags appeared in some parts of Lahore. Another official said the pamphlets were being distributed by an unidentified group and some ISIS graffiti also appeared on the walls of the buildings. A police officer said a few youngsters carrying ISIS flags at a crossing were seen but they were yet to be identified. Security experts say it must be investigated whether the ultra-radical Islamist group is trying to inspire miscreants in the provincial metropolis.
Police and intelligence operatives are also investigating where the pamphlets were printed and who distributed the banned material. The pamphlet’s logo features an AK-47 assault rifle and calls on youngsters to support the militant group, said an official, who is familiar with the development. ISIS stickers have also been spotted in some educational institutions, he added.
A splinter group of the Taliban insurgents, Jamat-ul Ahrar, recently declared its support for the ruthless Islamic State of Iraq and Syria fighters, who have captured large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria in a drive to set up a self-declared caliphate.
Country’s security agencies have already warned the government about the increasing threat from the ISIS militant group.
Most recently, a classified report by the provincial government of Balochistan conveyed to the federal government and law enforcement agencies warning of increased footprints of the terrorist group ISIS or Daish. The report says that the ISIS has claimed to have recruited 10,000 to 12,000 followers from the Hangu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Kurram tribal district. The ISIS’s presence has not been officially established so far. The Balochistan chief minister however said he had no information about the presence of ISIS in the volatile province. The report also states that the ISIS plans to attack military installations and government buildings in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in retaliation to military operation Zarb-i-Azb in North Waziristan. The provincial government has called for heightened vigilance and security measures in the province to avert any attempt of sabotage.
Monitoring Desk adds: According to America’s NBC News channel, the ISIS has created a 10-man ‘strategic planning wing’ with a master plan on how to wage war against the Pakistani military, and is trying to join forces with local militants, according to a government memo obtained by NBC News.
“They are now planning to inflict casualties to Pakistan Army outfits who are taking part in operation Zarb-e-Azb,” says the alert, referring to the military offensive against the Pakistani Taliban and other militants that was launched in June in a tribal region near the Afghan border. The document suggests that ISIS has Pakistan in its cross-hairs, warning that the group aims to stir up sectarian unrest by dispatching the local militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi on offensives against Shiites.
ISIS has seized large areas of Syria and Iraq. It claims to have recruited 10,000 to 12,000 followers in tribal areas on the Afghan border, including in Hangu, which is known for hostility between Shiites and Sunnis, the memo says.
The memo recommended “strict monitoring” of militants and “extreme vigilance” to ward off any attacks.
There have been other signs of ISIS flexing its muscles in the region. In late September, a pamphlet apparently made by the self-proclaimed caliphate was distributed among Afghan refugees in Pakistan exhorting them to pledge allegiance and lashing out against America.

Pakistan: 'Leave your faith or leave your country'

Manesh Kumar
“We are not Muslim, we are not Hindu, but first and foremost, we are Sindhi. There is a conspiracy to force Sindhi Hindus to leave Sindh, but we will not allow nefarious elements to succeed,” a political activist was sloganeering in English outside the Hyderabad Press Club.
Like most nationalists, he was hoping his message would be heard not only everywhere in Pakistan but also all across the world.
But the sad reality is, all these protests are of no use; the messages all fruitless. Despite their community's strong resistance, the situation is very much the same as it was yesterday. Hindu girls were converted in the past, are being converted today, and I’m sure, will be converted down to the very last Hindu remaining on the soil of Sindh.
It is true that whenever a Hindu girl in Sindh is kidnapped or converted, a large number of Sindhi Hindus – in the face of fear and hopelessness – are forced to migrate to India.
After the alleged kidnapping of Anjali Bai Meghwar from Daharki, Kajul Bheel from Matiari district and Karin from Nawabshah (most people not aware of these names), many people including my dear friend Ajeet Kumar are forced to consider the idea of migration.
“As a last resort we have decided to migrate to India," Ajeet told me a few days ago.
"We are completely insecure here. We are looted but our voice is not heard by the people in the saddle, our temples are attacked in broad daylight but no one takes action, our girls are kidnapped and forcibly converted only to hear more empty promises of justice.
"Nothing happened in the last 65 years and we don’t expect any improvement in future. Things will only become wore.”
All the political parties have condemned and protested the forced conversion of 12 year-old Anjali and subsequent marriage to a young man. But while Bilawal Bhutto, the ruling party’s chairman, has taken cognizance of it, most PPP leaders have kept mum as they know there is no way to turn the situation around. Intolerance of faith differentials has gone so far in this country that not only Hindus but Christians, Ahmadis and Shias are equally targeted every now and then.
The situation is chilling.
In a place where Khursheed Shah was recently charged with religious contempt just because of his usage of the word “Muhajir”; where naming a road after Bhagat Singh, a true Pakistani, can cause so much trouble; where murderers, like Mumtaz Qadri, are welcomed with roses; people being forced to leave their faith and embrace the dominating one does not look odd at all.
“In the coming few months we will leave our motherland," said Ajeet. "See, they have brought conditions to this point; they want us to give up the faith or leave the country."
What can one do in these circumstances? Every new incident of forced conversion increases the feeling of trepidation and insecurity, and the desperateness to flee this land. Even well-heeled families are migrating as they think there is no other option left.
Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, member of PML-N told National Assembly that over 5,000 Hindus are migrating from Sindh to India every year.
Hindus constitute five per cent of Sindh's population. Vankwani's figure suggests that 22.22 per cent of the total Hindu community of the province migrate to India every year.
How many years before Sindhi Hindus are completely expelled?
Everyone knows that the Sindh government passed a law last year which criminalised underage marriages.
But has the government taken any action against those who have converted Anjali? Or even just against those who forced an underage Anjali to marry someone?
Anjali Meghwar’s father Kundan Lal has presented her NADRA and school documents in the court before the authorities. These documents certify her age as 12.
But much like the inertia of previous PPP governments, I think this incident will lead to zero action as well. I mean, PPP has not even managed to oust people like Mian Mithu (allegedly involved in Rinkle Kumari and Anjali Meghwar's cases) from its ranks.
Everyone and everything from the police, the courts and the elected assembly members can be controlled with astonishing ease, as it happened in the case of Rinkle Kumari – a girl from the same district converted by the same people last year. A video was released showing assailants brandishing weapons inside the court. Back then, MPAs and MNAs from the district did not utter a single word in support of the victims. Nor have they done so now.
So when people like Ajeet give up all hopes of improvement, they are very much in the right; because when a state cannot even pass the Hindu Marriage Act, how can it protect them and their assets? How can it prevent their girls from being forcibly converted? It can’t. This is the sorriest state for a state.
"It is indeed difficult to leave Sindh. It is our homeland, it has borne us. But we also can’t stop subscribing to our faith. So leaving is the only option left."
Good bye, Ajeet.

Pakistan - Quetta blast - One died, 30 injured

At least person died while thirty others sustained injuries in a blast on Double Road in Quetta on Tuesday.
According to initial report, an alleged suicide explosion took place in a car damaging several cars and shops whereas remote control was used to explode the car.
According to details, blast took place when the Civil Judge of Anti-terrorism Court (ATC) Nazir Ahmad and Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Shafqat Janjua were passing through the place however, both officials are safe.
While talking to media, Senior Superindent of Police Operations (SSP) Aitzaz Hussain said that investigation is underway and revealed that 40 to 50 kiligrams explosive material has been used.
Police and rescue teams reached at the spot and shifted the injured to Civil Hospital.

ISIS: Nation, Terrorists or a Strategy?

by Syed Taha Salman
2014 saw a phenomenal event unfold; ISIS mushroomed into existence and terrified the wider Middle East, most importantly Syria and Iraq. How did intelligence agencies like the CIA and others fail to comprehend the enormity of ISIS?
In October, ISIS declared war against China and India, why? In the case of China, there has been violence against the Uyghur Muslim minority in its Xinjiang province, but major massacres have taken place in Nepal where approximately 250 Muslims were slaughtered by Buddhists. Similar violence can be seen in Sri Lanka where four Muslims were left dead while hundreds of shops and homes were destroyed.
ISIS is picking and choosing its targets based on what theory? In October, ISIS leaflets and banners appeared in parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistan, which is already engaged in a war with the Taliban, has a strong political network and a powerful army to back the government. However, Kabul does not.
After 13 years, the War against Terror still continues. Osama Bin Laden is dead, but Al-Qaeda still exists and is now being supplanted by ISIS which is recruiting radicals from North America, Europe and Australia. ISIS, which initially seemed to be a Sunni organization that was killing or imprisoning anyone but Sunnis, has as of November 2014 started attacks against the Sunnis in Iraq.
The so-called caliphate is trying to infiltrate areas that seem strategically important for the United States. A pre-occupied China, an emerging India and a strategic Pakistan and Afghanistan will leave a region engaged in a destructive battle against a regime which is receiving over 30 million dollars a month and have access to military grade ammunitions. Where are the funds coming from and how is ISIS acquiring such equipment?
The Taliban and Al-Qaeda, which are based in Afghanistan, enjoyed much more immunity in the region. They heavily relied on weapons left behind from the Afghan-Soviet war or those smuggled through its rough terrain. The Taliban, renowned for their atrocities against women do not compare to ISIS and their treatment of women. Recently it has been reported that ISIS is selling Yazidi women for ammunition. These women are priced according to age and appearance.
It seems the bigger losers in the grand scheme of things are the Muslim nations and the Ummat, which has been falsely represented by a 0.02 percent of its population as a people who endorse violence as a form of religion. More so, it seems the hidden ISIS agenda is further highlighted by the silence of Muslim countries.
While the debate over ISIS’ origins will continue for some times, it is the right time to address this regional and potentially global threat.

ISIS Has Master Plan for Pakistan

SIS has created a 10-man "strategic planning wing" with a master plan on how to wage war against the Pakistani military, and is trying to join forces with local militants, according to a government memo obtained by NBC News.
"They are now planning to inflict casualties to Pakistan Army outfits who are taking part in operation Zarb-e-Azb," says the alert, referring to the military offensive against the Pakistani Taliban and other militants that was launched in June in a tribal region near the Afghan border.
Labeled "secret," the memo was sent by the government of Balochistan, a southwestern province that borders Afghanistan, to authorities and intelligence officials across Pakistan last week. Akber Durrani, the province's home secretary, called it "routine" and said Sunni militant group and its sympathizers do not have a stronghold there. .
But the document suggests that ISIS has Pakistan in its cross-hairs, warning that the group aims to stir up sectarian unrest by dispatching the local militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi on offensives against Pakistan's minority Shiite Muslim community, further destabilizing a country already battling Taliban and al Qaeda elements. Most Pakistanis are Sunni Muslims. Mistrust has existed between Shiites and Sunnis for around 1,400 years.
ISIS has seized large areas of Syria and Iraq. It claims to have recruited 10,000 to 12,000 followers in tribal areas on the Afghan border, including in Hangu, which is known for hostility between Shiites and Sunnis, the memo says.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which has claimed responsibility for violence against Shiites, and Sipa-e Muhammed, which has struck against Sunnis, were banned after 9/11.
Just days ago, the chief minister of Balochistan, Dr. Malik Baloch, told journalists he had no information about the presence of ISIS in the province. "However, there are fundamentalists whose approach is similar to that of ISIS," he said.
The memo recommended "strict monitoring" of militants and "extreme vigilance" to ward off any attacks.
There have been other signs of ISIS flexing its muscles in the region. In late September, a pamphlet apparently made by the self-proclaimed caliphate was distributed among Afghan refugees in Pakistan exhorting them to pledge allegiance and and lashing out against "America and the rest of the infidels."
In late September, ISIS-aligned militants launched a brutal offensive in Afghanistan alongside Taliban fighters that has left more than 100 people dead. Fifteen family members of local police officers were beheaded and at least 60 homes were set ablaze, officials said.

Pakistan: Plight of minorities

It seems no manner of inhumanity can push authorities, in the centre and provinces, to move on the issue of minority rights. For decades religious extremists have persecute religious, sectarian and ethnic minorities, with the government unable, rather unwilling, to take the bull by the horns. Ruthless murders of the Shi’a community have, unfortunately, become as commonplace as lynching of helpless Christians, as was witnessed recently. And the Hindus of Sindh, never forgiven for sharing religion with the ‘enemy’, have been victimised since partition itself. The years since Zia, of course, saw their harassment worsen just like other minorities that the ‘land of the pure’ could not tolerate anymore.
Kidnapping and forceful conversions of young, under-age Hindu girls has become common practice in Sindh. Things seemed moving in the right direction finally with the arrival of Bilawal Bhutto in the lead position of the PPP. When he recently addressed Larkana’s Hindus on one of their more prominent religious gatherings, the province’s shrinking liberal circles finally breathed a sigh of relief. But hopefully his position on minorities is more enduring than some of his other initiatives. His show-cause notice to the CM was also appreciated – there was hope for Thar after the huge, recurring tragedy – but soon the notice was retracted. So much for draught, famine and deaths, it seems, when national and family politics is at play.
It doesn’t help, also, that the PPP has a long history of not honouring promises to minorities during its long reign in Sindh. Party lawmakers have made a habit of promising the moon, especially to Hindus each time their little girls are taken away, forcibly converted, and married off without consent. Yet there is hardly a precedent when they turned their words into action, or even cared to. The Sindh government even passed a law last year that criminalises under-age marriages. Yet the law is helpless in face of the more enduring custom of hatred, persecution, kidnapping, etc. The Sharifs, of course, are not interested in such matters. And the PPP, losing ground everywhere, will find Sindh a rapidly shrinking plate too if it does not pull its socks up. If the deaths of Thar are not enough to haunt them, the Hindus of the province will not forgive them either. It’s little surprise that Hindus are migrating to India. Their lives in Pakistan are unbearable, and unless relevant authorities arrest this trend, they too will be pushed out of their comfortable thrones.