Thursday, November 13, 2014

Music Video - Iggy Azalea - Work

Video - France: Clashes break out in Paris against police brutality

Video - President Obama Addresses the U.S.-ASEAN Summit Meeting

Video - Images From Comet Craft Deemed 'spectacular'

Video - 11/13/14: White House - Press Briefing in Naypyitaw, Burma

Video - President Obama Delivers Speaks at Parliamentary Resource Center in Burma

Video - President Obama Meets with the President of Burma

Syrian Music Video - Habibi Bass 2010

Music Video - Ahmed Chawki feat. Pitbull - Habibi I Love You

Music Video - Arabic Song - Amer Diab -

Anti-regime protests continue in Bahrain

Anti-regime protests continue in Bahrain as people take to the streets in various parts of the Persian Gulf kingdom.
Violence broke out on Wednesday as Bahraini security forces clashed with protesters during the largest rally that took place in the northwestern village of Bani Jamra.
According to reports, people also protested the regime’s policies in the al-Shakhoura and Sufala villages.
The protesters called for the ousting of the Al Khalifah regime and demanded a referendum be held on the country’s political future.
Since mid-February 2011, thousands of protesters have held numerous demonstrations in the streets of Bahrain, calling on the Al Khalifa royal family to relinquish power.
In March 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to Bahrain to help Manama quash the anti-regime protests.
Scores of Bahrainis have been killed and hundreds of others injured and arrested in the ongoing crackdown on peaceful demonstrations.
Bahrain has been criticized by human rights groups for its harsh crackdown on anti-government protesters since the country’s uprising began in February 2011.
In June, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights censured the Manama regime for human rights violations. A total of 46 members of the international body expressed deep concern over the Al Khalifa regime’s crackdown on peaceful protesters.

Isis in Syria: In the shadow of death, a few thousand Christians remain to defy militants

Just 15 miles from the frontline of Isis, which persecutes their faith, the Christians of Qamishli gathered in the Church of the Holy Virgin for the wedding of Malek Aissa and Ilana Hacho.
The bride was a priest’s sister, the bridegroom a computer engineer, and they were greeted by ululations and the ancient choruses of the Syriac church, sung by a choir of young women dressed all in white and a row of clerics in pink, gold, scarlet and black robes. If you needed to be reminded that Christianity was an Eastern – not a Western – religion, Malek and Ilana’s wedding was proof enough. There were a multitude of blessings, a host of blazing candles, and more ululating between prayers.
But the church was only half full and the empty pews told a tragic tale. For of Qamishli’s Christian population of almost 8,000 souls, only 5,000 remain – and many of them are talking of leaving. Isis has seen to that.
The destruction and the killing of Christians around Mosul earlier this year was the moment of panic, and even the main road south from Qamishli to Hassake is dangerous. The city, isolated in the far north-east of Syria, has a cordon of army regiments and local militias to defend it, and the land to the east is held by armed Syrian Kurds. But the Turkish border is closed, and the rest of the land around the city is held by Isis and its fellow Islamists.
This exodus of Christians from the Middle East – as they themselves attest – only began after the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, whose architects, as we all know, are born-again Christians.
“When the Christians had to flee Mosul and the valley of Ninevah, the Christians here thought that what happened in Iraq would happen here in Qamishli,” said Fr Saliba after participating in the night-time wedding service. “Isis did many things during this period to frighten us, so our people are migrating. Of course, as a church we don’t want anyone to migrate. But what can we do?” Fr Saliba has already lost almost half of his own parish.
The groom’s parents invited me to their wedding party, but it was the priests I needed to talk to, seated in their meeting room, robes discarded in favour of cassocks of pitch black which somehow suited their mood. They all condemned Isis and several claimed – as many Syrian government supporters often suggest – that the “Islamic State” is an American “product”, intended to break up the countries of the Middle East.
I am not sure that all these priests actually represent their people, not least because some of those who have fled have sought exile in the safety of the United States. “We do not believe Isis represents Islam,” Fr Saliba said. “We have had a tolerant society in Syria and we have treated each other as equals for 1,400 years. The project of dividing our countries is to establish weak countries in their place which will be unable to defend themselves. We all know this was funded by the Gulf States.”
There were several comparisons drawn between the Armenian genocide of 1915 and the plight of today’s Christians, and a sharp reminder of the tens of thousands of Syriac Christians who were also victims of the Turkish slaughter during the First World War.
Among the priests sat Fr Gabriel, his eyes rimmed with tiredness, his face dark, sick ever since he fled his Syriac church in Deir ez-Zour on 29 July 2012. “Nusra totally destroyed our church there and all our houses,” he said. “We thought we would be able to return in about 15 days…” Which is what many Palestinians thought when they fled their country in 1948.
Another priest spoke loudly of his own anger. “This loss of Christians is a very negative thing. The countries which encourage them to leave do not have their best interests at heart. They want to dissolve them in their societies. The Orient is a mosaic of different peoples and the West does not like this. If the West really wants to help us, they should help us to stay here and live in dignity. But as long as there is a crisis, our people want to leave.”
And what would Christ have said if he had witnessed this exodus and the threat represented by Isis? Quick as a shot, Fr Saliba replied. “He would have said ‘forgive them for they know not what they do’.” Another priest interrupted. “Christ would have wept as he wept for Jerusalem.” In central Syria, these clergymen estimate that as many as 80 Christian Syriacs have been murdered, and a far larger number were killed serving in the Syrian government army. The Armenians, whose broken bones can still be found in the fields around Qamishli haunted us all again.
Fr Saliba reminded his colleagues that at the time of the genocide, the Armenian dead represented more than twice the population of Syriac Christians at that time. And then he returned to his own flock.
“The West is not receiving us because they are Christian countries. They are secular countries. They want to destroy the Christian community here because they know that the Syriacs have deep roots here. In a couple of generations, the Syriacs in the European communities will have disappeared.
“After Mosul, France said: ‘We will take the Christians in’, but we believe we should live here. Even now, when we are trying to get our message out and, despite the media, we are not able to get the word across. Now Isis tries to destroy us so we will have no place in this country. We knew early on that this project was an existential challenge to our presence in the Middle East.”
The Syriac church has deep roots in Qamishli. Half the bishops in its synod come from here and they recall that Bashar al-Assad, when he met the synod in Damascus, told them that “Syria is your homeland, wherever you may be”. But Assad cannot stop this flight of Christians any more than he could protect large areas of eastern Syria.
“We gave Syria our name,” one of the priests said. “This is part of our heritage.” If only the men who went to war in Iraq could hear that.

Freud and the Middle East

Thomas L. Friedman
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — When trying to make sense of the Middle East, one of the most important rules to keep in mind is this: What politicians here tell you in private is usually irrelevant. What matters most, and what explains their behavior more times than not, is what they say in public in their own language to their own people. As President Obama dispatches more U.S. advisers to help Iraqis defeat the Islamic State, or ISIS, it is vital that we listen carefully to what the key players are saying in public in their own language about each other and their own aspirations.
For instance, the Middle East Media Research Institute, or Memri, recently posted an excerpt from an interview given by Mohammad Sadeq al-Hosseini, a former adviser to Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, which aired on Mayadeen TV on Sept. 24, in which he pointed out that Shiite Iran, through its surrogates, has taken de facto control over four Arab capitals: Beirut, through the Shiite militia Hezbollah; Damascus, through the Shiite/Alawite regime of Bashar al-Assad; Baghdad, through the Shiite-led government there; and — while few in the West were paying attention — Sana, where the pro-Iranian-Yemeni-Shiite offshoot sect, the Houthi, recently swept into the capital of Yemen and are now dominating the Sunnis.
As Hosseini said of Iran and its allies: “We in the axis of resistance are the new sultans of the Mediterranean and the Gulf. We in Tehran, Damascus, [Hezbollah’s] southern suburb of Beirut, Baghdad and Sana will shape the map of the region. We are the new sultans of the Red Sea as well.” And he also said, for good measure, that Saudi Arabia was “a tribe on the verge of extinction.”
We might not hear this stuff, but Sunni Arabs do, especially now when the United States and Iran might end their 35-year-old cold war and reach a deal that would allow Iran a “peaceful” nuclear energy program. It helps explain something else you might have missed: Sunni militants burst into a Saudi Shiite village, al-Dalwah, on Nov. 3 and gunned down five Saudi Shiites at a religious event.
Well, at least Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is in the modern world. No, wait, what is the name that Erdogan insists be put on the newest bridge he’s building across the Bosporus? Answer: the Yavuz Sultan Selim bridge. Selim I was the Sunni Turkish sultan who, in 1514, beat back the Persian Shiite empire of his day, called the Safavids. Turkey’s Alevi minority, a Shiite offshoot sect whose ancestors faced Selim’s wrath, have protested the name of the bridge.
They know it didn’t come out of a hat. According to Britannica, Selim I was the Ottoman sultan (1512-20) who extended the empire to Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, “and raised the Ottomans to leadership of the Muslim world.” He then turned eastward and took on the Safavid Shiite dynasty in Iran, which posed a “political and ideological threat” to the hegemony of Ottoman Sunni Islam. Selim was the first Turkish leader to claim to be both sultan of the Ottoman Empire and caliph of all Muslims.
Vice President Joe Biden did not misspeak when he accused Turkey of facilitating the entry of ISIS fighters into Syria. Just as there is a little bit of West Bank “Jewish settler” in almost every Israeli, there is a little bit of the caliphate dream in almost every Sunni. Some Turkish analysts suspect Erdogan does not dream of building pluralistic democracy in Iraq and Syria, but rather a modern Sunni caliphate — not led by ISIS but by himself. Until then, he clearly prefers ISIS on his border than an independent Kurdistan.
As Shadi Hamid, a fellow at the Brookings Center for Middle East Policy, put it in an Atlantic article entitled “The Roots of the Islamic State’s Appeal”: “ISIS draws on, and draws strength from, ideas that have broad resonance among Muslim-majority populations. They may not agree with ISIS’s interpretation of the caliphate, but the notion of a caliphate — the historical political entity governed by Islamic law and tradition — is a powerful one.”
In fact, though, notes the Middle East scholar Joseph Braude, most Arab Sunnis in Egypt, the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula in the late 19th century “were quite opposed to the [Turkish-run] caliphate they had experienced, which they saw as a kind of occupying force.” It was the 20th century Sunni Islamist groups, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, that revived the idea, idealizing the caliphate as a response to their region’s weakness and decline “and inserting it into mainstream religious discourse.”
In sum, there are so many conflicting dreams and nightmares playing out among our Middle East allies in the war on ISIS that Freud would not have been able to keep them straight. If you listen closely, of those dreams, ours — “pluralistic democracy” — is not high on the list. We need to protect the islands of decency out here — Jordan, Kurdistan, Lebanon, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Oman — from ISIS, in hopes that their best examples might one day spread. But I am skeptical that our fractious allies, with all their different dreams, can agree on new power-sharing arrangements for Iraq or Syria, even if ISIS is defeated.

Turks increasingly sympathetic to Islamic State

A Kurdish Alevi soccer player, Deniz Naki, was brutally beaten on Nov. 2 in Ankara by supporters of the Islamic State (IS) for standing in solidarity with Kobani. Three days after his ordeal, Naki told Al-Monitor he left his soccer club in Turkey because he feared for the well-being of friends and teammates.
Naki, who grew up in Germany, is rather outspoken by Turkish standards; he is unapologetic for his Dersim tattoo. Naki’s family is from Dersim, which is a town known for its Alevi Kurdish population. (The 1937-38 massacre in Dersim is still a bitter memory for Alevis and Kurds, where thousands were killed by the army.) Naki told Al-Monitor the attack was not a sporadic incident, as he had been systemically targeted by IS supporters for seven months prior to the attack. When Al-Monitor asked whether he had sought legal protection, Naki chuckled and said, “How much trust could an Alevi Kurd have in the state for protection, given that all the dead kids from Gezi [Park] are Alevis? Did you forget?” Naki is convinced there is extensive support in Turkey for the IS caliphate beyond a few fanatics who are eager to join jihad.
Naki’s painful experiences lead to a crucial question: How would an IS caliphate affect Muslims in Turkey?
Abdurrahman Dilipak, a prominent Islamist columnist for the daily Yeni Akit, suggested on Nov. 2 that a caliphate, Vatican-style, should be established in Turkey. He claimed that this would be in harmony with the secular government of the Republic of Turkey. Dilipak provided a detailed justification saying that since the Ottoman Empire the caliphate had not been abolished but still lives on and should be reinstituted. Social media and secular newspapers carried Dilipak's arguments to the headlines and a fiery debate started.
On Nov. 3, Ali Bulac, a well-known Islamist writer for Zaman newspaper, without referring to Dilipak’s piece, elaborated on why he thought IS had established the caliphate in such haste. Bulac explained that in accordance with Islamic belief, “Anyone who dies without being associated with a caliph, dies as if in pre-Islamic ages [in 'jahiliyya' — days of ignorance].”
Al-Monitor has been reporting on what the caliphate signifies and the regional competition to claim the right to the caliphate, particularly between Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Although Justice and Development Party (AKP) leaders have not declared any intentions about a caliphate, social media has boomed with thoughts on the Prophet Muhammad’s prophecies on the coming of IS.
A bookstore owner who sells Islamic publications in Fatih, Istanbul — who called himself Mehmet Kilinc (which Al-Monitor could not verify as he later said his name did not matter) — told Al-Monitor, “We are observant Muslims here, and we do not believe what was done in 1924 — abolishing the caliphate by the new Republic of Turkey — was acceptable. I became a fan of IS during the first days of Ramadan when the caliphate was declared — now they represent all Muslims on earth and we are all obliged to support [IS]. I speak to you because I want the world to know the twisted image [portrayed] in the Western media. They always claim that men who are drug addicts seeking money and women join IS. This is wrong. My best friend from childhood, who was a ney flute teacher, joined [IS] six months ago. He had a good life here, teaching rich kids and making good money. He preferred jihad. It is about the honor of the caliphate now.”
The caliphate is not a recent issue for some Muslims in Turkey. A global Islamic organization, Hizb ut-Tahrir, which was established in 1953 and has branches in 50 countries, has been openly calling for a caliphate. In an interview with Al-Monitor, Mahmut Kar, the head of Hizb ut-Tahrir's media relations in Turkey, explained in detail not only how his organization views IS' decision to declare a caliphate but also its own struggle for a caliphate.
Kar said, “[Hizb ut-Tahrir] was established in 1960 in Turkey and when we started speaking about the caliphate in 1967 it was the first time the word had been brought back into Turkish public space since 1924. Once the idea of a caliphate was out in the open again, Islamist movements in line with the Muslim Brotherhood started emerging in Turkey.” It is worth noting that since 1967, Hizb ut-Tahrir's members in Turkey have been persecuted and the situation has not gotten better to this day.
"What matters for these Islamist Brotherhood movements in Turkey is justice. Thus, they argue that once justice has been established it is irrelevant how they got there. That is why they utilize the rhetoric of democracy. As far as I am concerned, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s neo-Ottoman dream is nothing but a dream. For decades, it has been said that the caliphate is integrated in the spiritual essence of the Turkish parliament. So now, could the AKP declare the caliphate with a new decree? That would be absurd because the whole argument about the Turkish parliament embracing the spirituality of the caliphate in its essence is a lie to soothe the Muslims. It is not possible to declare a caliphate through a decree of the Republic of Turkey,” Kar said.
He emphasized that for the "ordinary" Muslim and non-Muslim the association of the caliphate with IS has been detrimental. “As the world is leery of IS violence, the caliphate is now associated with blood,” Kar said. Yet, for those who had been living with the dream of revival of the caliphate, IS could be a promise.
How do other groups in Turkey engage in the discussion of a caliphate? Ali Kenanoglu, head of the Hubyar Sultan Alevi Cultural Association, approached the debate from a more pragmatic position when he told Al-Monitor, “The discussion of a caliphate is new in Turkey. Those who initiated this debate have done it precisely because [President] Recep Tayyip Erdogan is now the only possible candidate for such a position in their view. It does not seem realistic to establish a proper caliphate through the AKP’s structure in the short term. However, we are aware how all candidates for government positions are scrutinized for their adherence to Islamic strictures. Further Islamization of the state will put more pressure on Alevis, who are seen as unbelievers — kafirs. This could only lead to further instability.”
Kadir Akaras, the chairman of Ehl-i Beyt Scholars Association, echoed Kenanoglu’s concerns about a caliphate in Turkey in the near future. Akaras said, “A caliphate is a political establishment, not just religious. Hence, there will be political reactions to it. Look at what happened with IS once it declared the caliphate. All Arab Muslim states from the Gulf rallied against it.” “Iran definitely rejects [Abu Bakr al-] Baghdadi's caliphate. First, because they consider IS as a terrorist organization, which they are actively fighting in Iraq and Syria, and second for ideological reasons. Iran's self-perception as an Islamic revolutionary state is crucial. I don't think that they would ever embrace any kind of caliphate,” Safak Bas, an expert on Iran, told Al-Monitor. Bas added that neither Alevis nor Shiites in Turkey would react positively to the possibility of caliphate.
Huseyin Beheshti, a scholar of philosophy and religion, told Al-Monitor, “Sunni groups such as the Salafists now are highly active in Turkey. After the Syria problem, because of the sectarian policies of the AKP, the Turkish Islamist community is becoming more radical and fundamentalist. The caliphate ideology is currently being discussed by many Islamist groups that have no record of discussing it previously.” Beheshti emphasized that the issue of a caliphate is no longer a marginal issue exclusive to members of Hizb ut-Tahrir and argued that the AKP’s pro-Islamist policies helped the formation of a Salafist stronghold in Turkey.
Whether IS has gained more sympathy in Turkey is difficult to determine, but since Ramadan talk of a caliphate has increasingly become a routine daily topic of discussion. So much so that even the latest incidents at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem have been linked to the caliphate, with several tweets connecting these events. One of those tweets is particularly telling because it has the Ottoman sultan’s photo that reads: “The caliphate did not recognize Israel. It is the regime of the devil.”
Read more:

Music Video - Justin Bieber - As Long As You Love Me

Video - President Obama Joins President Xi of China in a Joint Press Conference Nov 12,2014

U.S - Some Republicans seek to stop Obama immigration orders

By Erik Wasson and Heidi Przybyla
A group of House and Senate Republicans wants to use spending legislation to block President Barack Obama from easing immigration policies unilaterally, a mechanism the party used last year to shut down the government.
Obama has said he will use executive orders to revise immigration policy by the end of the year.
"There is a debate raging on," said Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona, who has been pressing fellow Republicans to ensure that legislation to fund the government denies money for actions in a potential immigration executive order.
House Speaker John Boehner told party members Thursday that he doesn't want a federal shutdown, no matter what happens with a spending bill, said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.
Salmon told reporters he agreed with Boehner that "nobody wants a shutdown."
Republicans won the Senate majority in the Nov. 4 election. The next day, Obama said he wouldn't back off from plans to issue an executive order on immigration.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who is poised to be majority leader starting in January, and Boehner of Ohio have said unilateral action by Obama would poison relations and make compromise on immigration policy impossible.
Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, in line to become Budget Committee chairman, said he wants a short-term bill to finance the government when current funding expires Dec. 11. Then once Republicans take full control of Congress in January, they could try to use the next spending bill to bar the government from carrying out the president's order.
An insistence on defunding the Affordable Care Act by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas led to a 16-day partial government shutdown in October 2013.
Because outgoing Senate Majority Leader Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is unlikely to accept long-term funding legislation that thwarts Obama's orders, Congress may be headed toward a short-term funding bill to steer clear of another shutdown.
Salmon has gathered about 60 House Republicans' signatures for a proposal barring federal funds for work permits and residency cards under a presidential executive order.
"The Congress has the power of the purse and should use it as a tool to prevent the president from implementing policies that are contrary to our laws and the desire of the American people," Salmon wrote in a letter Thursday to House Appropriations Committee leaders.
Some Republicans, including Sens. Richard Shelby of Alabama and Susan Collins of Maine, said they prefer a long-term spending measure. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, a Kansas Republican aligned with the tea party, said he thinks few House Republicans want a long-term bill.
Rep. Ken Calvert, a California Republican and House Appropriations Subcommittee chairman, said negotiators continue to work on a measure that would fund the government through next September.
"We are going to have a family discussion on how to proceed," Calvert said.
A drive to use spending bills to thwart presidential orders on immigration may prevent Boehner and McConnell from resolving government funding so they can focus on other issues in 2015. Republican leaders say they want to vote on items that could gain bipartisan support, including trade promotion authority and repeal of a medical device tax that helps fund the ACA.
A spending fight over immigration would also be an early test of the ability of tea party-aligned lawmakers including Cruz to push the party's leaders into confrontations with Democrats in the next Congress.
An order by Obama could include halting deportations of the parents of children brought to the U.S. illegally. Or it may be broader, covering many of the 11 million people included in a bill passed in June 2013 by the Democratic-led Senate.
Sessions and five other senators said in a letter to Reid that they will use "all procedural means necessary" to prevent Obama from taking unilateral action on immigration. The letter didn't spell out specific proposed actions.
Signing the letter with Sessions were Cruz and Republican Sens. Mike Crapo of Idaho, Pat Roberts of Kansas, David Vitter of Louisiana and Mike Lee of Utah.
"Senator Reid shouldn't be entitled to bind the country next year when we have got a new Congress," Sessions, set to lead the Senate Budget Committee starting in January, told reporters Wednesday in Washington. In an opinion piece published in Politico, Sessions said his proposal would bar U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from using funds and personnel to process visa applications from undocumented immigrants who would be allowed to stay under an executive order.
Shelby, the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, said he would rather pass a long-term government financing measure.
"I think Obama is overreaching," Shelby said. "I would fight hard against what he's doing but I don't want to shut down the government."
Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said it would be "unwise" of Republicans to use a spending bill to confront Obama over immigration. She said negotiations with House members on a long-term spending measure are proceeding well and that she hopes to have an outline by this weekend.
Collins said she opposed linking a spending bill to immigration and that she wanted a long-term measure.
"I certainly hope President Obama doesn't issue the order but I view it as separate" from spending legislation, she said.

Obama Plans to Protect Up to 5 Million From Deportation

President Obama will ignore angry protests from Republicans and announce as soon as next week a broad overhaul of the nation’s immigration enforcement system that will protect up to five million undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation and provide many of them with work permits, according to administration officials who have direct knowledge of the plan.
Asserting his authority as president to enforce the nation’s laws with discretion, Mr. Obama intends to order changes that will significantly refocus the activities of the government’s 12,000 immigration agents. One key piece of the order, officials said, will allow many parents of children who are American citizens or legal residents to obtain legal work documents and no longer worry about being discovered, separated from their families and sent away.
That part of Mr. Obama’s plan alone could affect as many as 3.3 million people who have been living in the United States illegally for at least five years, according to an analysis by the Migration Policy Institute, an immigration research organization in Washington. But the White House is also considering a stricter policy that would limit the benefits to people who have lived in the country for at least 10 years, or about 2.5 million people.
Extending protections to more undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, and to their parents, could affect an additional one million or more if they are included in the final plan that the president announces.
Mr. Obama’s actions will also expand opportunities for immigrants who have high-tech skills, shift extra security resources to the nation’s southern border, revamp a controversial immigration enforcement program called Secure Communities, and provide clearer guidance to the agencies that enforce immigration laws about who should be a low priority for deportation, especially those with strong family ties and no serious criminal history.
A new enforcement memorandum, which will direct the actions of Border Patrol agents and judges at the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and other federal law enforcement and judicial agencies, will make clear that deportations should still proceed for convicted criminals, foreigners who pose national security risks and recent border crossers, officials said.
White House officials declined to comment publicly before a formal announcement by Mr. Obama, who will return from an eight-day trip to Asia on Sunday. Administration officials said details about the package of executive actions were still being finished and could change. An announcement could be pushed off until next month but will not be delayed into next year, officials said.
“Before the end of the year, we’re going to take whatever lawful actions that I can take that I believe will improve the functioning of our immigration system,” Mr. Obama said during a news conference a day after last week’s midterm elections. “What I’m not going to do is just wait.”
The decision to move forward sets in motion a political confrontation between Mr. Obama and his Republican adversaries that is likely to affect budget negotiations and debate about Loretta E. Lynch, the president’s nominee to be attorney general, during the lame-duck session of Congress that began this week. It is certain to further enrage Republicans as they take control of both chambers of Congress early next year.
A group of Republicans — led by Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Senator Mike Lee of Utah and Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama — is already planning to thwart any executive action by the president on immigration. The senators are hoping to rally their fellow Republicans to oppose efforts to pass a budget next month unless it explicitly prohibits the president from enacting what they call “executive amnesty” for people in the country illegally.
“Our office stands ready to use any procedural means available to make sure the president can’t enact his illegal executive amnesty,” said Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for Mr. Cruz.
But the president and his top aides have concluded that acting unilaterally is in the interest of the country and the only way to increase political pressure on Republicans to eventually support a legislative overhaul that could put millions of illegal immigrants on a path to legal status and perhaps citizenship. Mr. Obama has told lawmakers privately and publicly that he will reverse his executive orders if they pass a comprehensive bill that he agrees to sign.
White House officials reject as overblown the dire warnings from some in Congress who predict that such a sweeping use of presidential power will undermine any possibility for cooperation in Washington with the newly empowered Republican majority.
“I think it will create a backlash in the country that could actually set the cause back and inflame our politics in a way that I don’t think will be conducive to solving the problem,” said Senator Angus King of Maine, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats and supports an immigration overhaul.
The question of when the president should make the announcement is still being discussed inside the West Wing, officials said. Announcing the actions quickly could give Mr. Cruz and others a specific target to attack, but it would also allow immigration advocates to defend it. Waiting until later in December could allow the budget to be approved before setting off a fight over immigration.
Although a Republican president could reverse Mr. Obama’s overhaul of the system after he leaves office in January 2017, the president’s action at least for now will remove the threat of deportation for millions of people in Latino and other immigrant communities. Immigration agents are to instead focus on gang members, narcotics traffickers and potential terrorists.
Officials said one of the primary considerations for the president has been to take actions that can withstand the legal challenges that they expect will come quickly from Republicans. A senior administration official said lawyers had been working for months to make sure the president’s proposal would be “legally unassailable” when he presented it.
Most of the major elements of the president’s plan are based on longstanding legal precedents that give the executive branch the right to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” in how it enforces the laws. That was the basis of a 2012 decision to protect from deportation the so-called Dreamers, who came to the United States as young children. The new announcement will be based on a similar legal theory, officials said.
The White House expects a chorus of outside legal experts to back it up once Mr. Obama makes the plan official. In several “listening sessions” at the White House over the last year, immigration activists came armed with legal briefs, and White House officials believe those arguments will quickly form the basis of the public defense of his actions.
Many pro-immigration groups and advocates — as well as the Hispanic voters who could be crucial for Democrats’ hopes of winning the White House in 2016 — are expecting bold action, having grown increasingly frustrated after watching a sweeping bipartisan immigration bill fall prey to a gridlocked Congress last year.
“This is his last chance to make good on his promise to fix the system,” said Kevin Appleby, the director of migration policy at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “If he delays again, the immigration activists would — just politically speaking — jump the White House fence.”
Some groups, like the United We Dream network, the largest organization of young undocumented immigrants, are preparing to deploy teams to early 2016 states like Iowa and New Hampshire to hold presidential candidates accountable and press for more action.
“From our perspective, the president has the power, the precedent and the priority for action on his side,” said Clarissa Martínez-De-Castro, deputy vice president of the National Council of La Raza. The opportunity “to go big and bold is what will allow the country to derive the biggest benefit on both the economic side and the national security side.”

Myanmar troubles jeopardize a big Obama goal

For President Barack Obama, Myanmar's stalled progress on promised political and economic reforms is jeopardizing what was to be a crowning achievement for his foreign policy legacy.
Obama arrived in Myanmar's capital of Naypyitaw on Wednesday amid persistent questions about whether the government would follow through on its pledges — and whether the U.S. had made too many overtures to the long-isolated country too soon. Myanmar won wide sanctions relief from Obama after its sudden and unexpected shift from a half-century of military rule, but there's little certainty about the country's future.
"Progress has not come as fast as many had hoped when the transition began," Obama said in an interview with Myanmar's "The Irrawaddy" magazine. "In some areas there has been a slowdown in reforms, and even some steps backward."
White House officials say Obama has always been realistic about the challenges ahead for Myanmar, a country that in many cases lacks the infrastructure and capacity to enact the reforms its leaders have outlined. But critics of the administration's policy say the U.S. gave up its leverage too quickly by rewarding the government for promises rather than results.
"With so many avenues for pressure lost, it can indeed seem like the U.S. doesn't have a lot of cards left to play," said John Sifton, the Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
Critics also contend that the president got caught up in the notion that opening Myanmar to the outside world would be a central part of his legacy as America's self-proclaimed Pacific president. Indeed, a successful democratic transition would fit neatly into Obama's broader Asia strategy, which includes deepening U.S. political and economic partnerships in the region, particularly with countries seen to share America's values.
The so-called pivot to Asia has raised concerns in China — Myanmar's neighbor and largest trading partner — that the U.S. is seeking to contain Chinese influence.
Despite Obama's hopes for Myanmar, optimism within the administration has faded somewhat since the president's trip here in 2012. He was the first sitting U.S. president to visit the country, and aides still fondly recall the massive crowds that lined the streets to watch his motorcade pass.
Yet there's little question Myanmar has failed to make good on the promises its leaders made to Obama during that short visit.
More than any other issue, White House officials say it's Myanmar's persecution of minority Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine state that threatens to alienate the U.S. and other nations that have been drawn to the country. Attacks by Buddhist extremists since mid-2012 have left hundreds of Rohingya Muslims dead and 140,000 trapped in dire conditions in camps.
With presidential elections in Myanmar looming next year, the status of the Rakhine state has become mired in politics. The Rohingya are deeply disdained by many in Myanmar, and most officials dare not publicly call for better treatment, not even the country's pro-democracy hero Aung San Suu Kyi.
Obama planned to meet with Suu Kyi at the end of his trip. He joined world leaders Thursday morning for a pair of Asia-Pacific summits and met with Nguyen Tan Dung, the prime minister of Vietnam, before heading to sessions with members of parliament and civic leaders. He also had a meeting planned Thursday night with Myanmar's President Thein Sein.
White House officials have acknowledged that Obama almost certainly wouldn't be visiting Myanmar at this point had the country not been hosting the Asia-Pacific summits that he had pledged to attend as president.
Beyond concerns about the Rakhine state, the U.S. is warily watching the lead-up to Myanmar's presidential election next year. The country's constitution currently bans Suu Kyi from participating in the election.
The U.S. has sought explicitly aligning itself with a potential Suu Kyi candidacy, and Ambassador Derek Mitchell called her inability to run for the presidency "strange." Obama's schedule here clearly signals his preferences, given that he is holding his news conference in Myanmar with Suu Kyi, not the country's current president.
The administration argues that the mere promise of a broader Myanmar relationship with the U.S. gives Obama leverage. American businesses are waiting for more political certainty before investing in Myanmar, officials say, and there are still U.S. sanctions that have not been repealed.
"The United States can best move that forward by engagement," said Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser. "If we disengage, frankly I think that there's a vacuum that could potentially be filled by bad actors."

Pashto Video Song - Kali ta ma raza - Naghma

Video Report - Did the US get it wrong in Iraq and Afghanistan?

What Afghanistan Must Learn From Iraq

By Paul D. Shinkman
Death tolls, government dysfunction and the Islamic State group threaten to sink hopes for Afghanistan - but it's not over yet.
More than 4,600 Afghan soldiers have been killed in action so far this year, shattering the previous record set last year, when 4,350 soldiers died.
Afghanistan's military cannot sustain such a high casualty rate, says U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, the second-highest NATO commander in the country, who spoke by teleconference to Pentagon reporters last week. He discussed some of the Afghan government’s efforts to recruit more troops and improve medevac capabilities so more wounded-in-action soldiers survive long enough to get to a hospital.
“But they do need to decrease their casualty rate,” Anderson added. “All those things have to continue to improve to reduce those numbers, because those numbers are not sustainable in the long term.”
The startling casualty figures highlight a pivotal time for the central Asian nation after 13 years of war. The U.S. will end its combat mission and cut current troop levels by three and a half times by the end of this year, down to 9,800. The remaining forces will halve again by the end of 2015, and withdrawn with them will be the critical logistics, intelligence and medical capabilities they have tried – nobly but incompletely – to pass on to their Afghan counterparts. By 2016, if President Barack Obama maintains his current plan, all U.S. troops will come home.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi security forces continue to disintegrate in the face of the menacing specter of the Islamic State group, an insurgency that reportedly already has eyes on establishing a presence in Afghanistan in the coming months.
Latest reports from the ground indicate the fledgling Afghan government and its military are still reeling from the politicking of former President Hamid Karzai, who refused to sign a security agreement with the U.S. defining the American military presence for the next few years. That process was drawn out even further by a presidential election that led to a runoff, leaving the future of U.S.-Afghan relations in flux until just weeks ago.
As a result, the local economy, foreign investment and hope among the Afghan citizenry all came to a grinding halt. The leadership tandem of new President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah now must kick-start the future prospects of the troubled country.
Afghan leaders also must now contend with "Daish," an Arabic acronym and alternate name for the Islamic State group. It reportedly is already brokering deals with Taliban commanders to establish a presence in Afghanistan after NATO combat forces leave in 2014 – a situation eerily similar to the disenfranchised Sunni population in Iraq who bought into the Islamic State group’s promises for change.
“That’s becoming an increasing part of the narrative. The undertones there are, ‘If you leave: Daish,’” says Jason Campbell, an analyst at the Rand Corp. in Arlington, Virginia, who recently returned from a series of meetings in Afghanistan with members of the country's new leadership. Campbell is able to share the Afghan leaders' perspectives on the condition their identities remain anonymous.
“We’ve seen signs of Daish in Pakistan and maybe even here in Afghanistan. So [Afghan leaders] weren’t trying to foist all their security woes on a Daish insurrection,” he says. “But sitting in Afghanistan when an official says that during the course of a conversation a couple times, it does peak your curiosity.”
The Afghan government already has approached the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, among others, for advice and military support related to future insurgency problems. Some countries, including the U.S., are reportedly pushing for peace negotiations with Taliban leaders amid separate efforts to fight and defeat them.
Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE also are participating in the U.S.-led mission to fight the Islamic State group from the air over Iraq and Syria, with varying degrees of involvement. Organizing that coalition was reportedly difficult enough. Afghan leaders are having an even more difficult time getting world attention before time runs out.
“With the drawn-out election dispute, what you’re having is this very, very condensed period here where you’re trying to engage for what’s going to be a very different atmosphere coming up at the end of the year,” says Campbell, referring to the formal end of combat by December. “And, also trying to put up a government that is going to instill some confidence [among] the international community as they reassess what their longer-term commitments are.”
The attitude among Afghan leaders following September's presidential inauguration, Campbell says, is that "we have 100 days to show some substantive progress, and we’ve already used 20 of them.”
At the forefront of Afghanistan’s problems is whether Obama will fulfill his campaign promise of ending the war in Afghanistan by 2016, much as he did with Iraq in 2011. Insiders since have stipulated the White House could have done more to pressure then-Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to allow some U.S. support to remain behind, bolstering local forces with specialty skills in intelligence and logistics.
Marine Gen. James Cartwright, however, says nothing more could have been done in Iraq leading up to 2011. He served as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011 and oversaw the tumultuous drawdown in Iraq.
The U.S. could have done nothing more to change the minds of Iraqi leadership at the time, he tells U.S. News. That past, he adds, should serve as a dire warning for the current Afghan leadership.

Afghan President Ghani To Make First Pakistan Visit

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is scheduled to make his first state visit to neighboring Pakistan this week.
Pakistan's Foreign Office confirmed on November 13 that Ghani would lead a high-level delegation on November 14-15.
An Afghan government official said the discussions are expected to include inter-Afghan peace dialogue, security, border issues, and trade.
Mutual suspicion haunts ties between the neighbors.
Ghani’s predecessor, Hamid Karzai, repeatedly accused Pakistan of providing support for Taliban fighters and other militants who have used Pakistan's tribal regions as a base for attacks targeting Afghan and NATO forces.
Islamabad denies the allegation.
It will be Ghani's third trip abroad since his September inauguration. He has recently visited Saudi Arabia and China.
In recent weeks, Pakistani officials including the army chief of staff and the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency have visited Kabul.

Video - Pakistani Police Use Live Ammunition On IDPs

Pakistani police fired live ammunition at Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) after rioting broke out in the northern city of Bannu on November 13. Initial reports said at least two people had sustained gunshot wounds. Two other IDPs were also injured. Nine police were wounded after being pelted with stones. It's not clear how the trouble started, but it flared up as IDPs gathered to receive a weekly food ration. Around a million people have been displaced from their homes in North Waziristan tribal district by a Pakistani offensive against Taliban militants. (RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal)

Video - Aseefa Bhutto Zardari's Speech at the Oxford Union

Aseefa Bhutto Zardari's Speech at the Oxford Union by PPPOfficial

Malala's Philosophies Spread Globally In Free Online Guide

Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and global icon for girls' education, is spreading her philosophies about human rights and youth empowerment to college and high school classrooms across the world. George Washington University, the Malala Fund, and the publisher of a memoir about the Pakistani teenager are working together to launch a free, online guide for college and university classrooms to use while teaching her book, "I Am Malala." A high school version is scheduled for release in 2015. The free syllabus examines her story while reflecting on violence against women and girls, education as a human right, cultural politics, religious extremism, and global feminism. In 2012, Malala survived an assassination attempt by a Taliban gunman in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Now aged 17, Malala lives in Britain where she was flown for medical care after the attack.

Persecution of Christians in Pakistan

By Asim Qadeer Rana
A report submitted to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif claims that all the culprits involved in torturing and burning to death a Christian couple have been apprehended, it is learnt.
In the latest example of mob violence against minorities, a Christian bonded worker couple was burned to death by the mob in the tiny village of Chak 59 near Kot Radha Kishan town, 60 kilometres southwest of Lahore.
Shama Bibi, 24, and Sajjad Maseeh, 27, her husband, were killed for alleged blasphemy. Christian couple was locked in brick-making factory after their boss thought they would flee debts. It provided an opportunity to the mob to beat them, tear off their clothes and throw them onto a brick kiln. According to reports, Shama Bibi, a mother of four who was four months pregnant, was wearing clothes that did not at first catch fire, so the mob removed her from over the kiln and wrapped her up in cotton to make sure the material would burn faster. The killings were sparked by misusing blasphemy law. By the time the attack was over, only charred bones and the couple’s discarded shoes remained. The killing has sparked protests by Christians and outrage among rights activists, while police have arrested 44 suspects. According to the police when Shehzad’s father, a local religious healer died, Shehzad’s wife went to his room , cleaned the mess and threw the trash in front of her house. The garbage collector collected the trash the next day and told a local cleric that he had collected pages of the Holy Quran thrown in front of Shehzad’s house from the trash. Brick kiln workers are often subject to harsh practices. Bonded Labor Liberation Front Pakistan estimates there are 4.5 million bonded workers in the country. Christians are visibly rattled over the latest incident and still remember the Joseph Colony disaster in Lahore where an unruly mob had set ablaze the houses of the Christians, besides reducing their belongings to mere ashes. They have not erased the memories of the incident when the prayer leader of a mosque was arrested by police on charges of fabricating the evidence that he had used to accuse a 14-year old Christian girl Rimsha Masih of blasphemy. Poor Rimsha Masih could have faced death, but a timely testimony from an eye-witness in her favor and against the prayer leader saved her from going to the gallows. Religious minorities like the Hindus, Sikhs, etc, have already voiced grave concern, and so have their sympathizers over the failure of successive Pakistani regimes to protect the rights of minorities in a country where over 2.9 million followers of seven different faiths, besides Islam, are living together. The history of persecution of Christians in Pakistan is of relatively recent vintage. Just 15 years ago, a Christian, Ayub Masih was the first to be convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death. Though the lower court had upheld Ayub’s conviction, his lawyer was able to prove before the Supreme Court that the accuser had used the conviction to force Masih’s family off their land and then acquired control of the property. Masih was resultantly released. On October 28, 2001, an attack on a Protestant church in Bahawalpur had resulted in 16 deaths. The casualties were all Christian worshippers except a policeman. This was the worst ever attack on Pakistani Christians till that time. On March 17 the same year, an attack on a Protestant church in Islamabad’s Diplomatic Enclave killed five, including a US diplomat’s wife and daughter. OnAugust 9, three nurses — and an attacker — were killed in an attack on a church in Taxila’s Christian Hospital. In August 2002, gunmen stormed a Christian missionary school for foreigners in Islamabad, killing six. On September 25, a Christian welfare organization “Peace and Justice Institute” was attacked in Karachi. The attackers tied seven office workers to their chairs before shooting each in the head. On December 25, assailants threw a grenade at a Presbyterian church near Sialkot, killing three young girls on Christmas.
In November 2005, Roman Catholic, Salvation Army and United Presbyterian churches were attacked at Sangla Hill (near Lahore). The attack was over allegations of violation of blasphemy laws by a local Christian, Yousaf Masih. On June 5, 2006, a Pakistani Christian, Nasir Ashraf, was working near Lahore when he drank water from a public facility. He was assaulted by the locals for his ‘sin.’ A mob developed and thrashed Ashraf. In August 2007, a Christian missionary couple, Reverend Arif and Kathleen Khan, were gunned down in Islamabad. In August 2009, six Christians were burnt alive and a church set ablaze in Gojra. On March 2, 2011, Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian minister in the Pakistan government, was mowed down for opposing the blasphemy law. Then is the case of a Pakistani Christian Safdar Masih, who was allegedly shot to death in Pakistan on October 6, 2011 for defying the local land mafia’s “order”. The local Church had bought some land to build an orphanage, but the local land mafia had laid claim to it. The police were vehemently criticized for giving protection to criminal elements in the country and for turning a blind eye to the plight of the Christians in minority.

Punish Pakistan for its un-Islamic blasphemy laws

By: Haroon Siddiqui
Barbarity of burning a Christian couple alive in Pakistan is worse than the beheadings by the Islamic State.
“The barbaric act by fanatic Pakistani Muslims of burning alive a poor Christian couple is a crime against humanity. It’s the worst crime in the history of Pakistan committed in the name of religion. It was triggered by the false accusation of the burning of some pages of the Qur’an.” That’s Father James Channan of the Dominican Order in Pakistan summing up the horrific incident last week when a mob of more than 1,000 Muslims in a small village in the province of Punjab killed a poor Christian couple.
Shahzad and Shama Masih (the Blessed One, referring to Christ — a common last name among Pakistani Christians) worked at a brick kiln. Its owner reportedly locked up the couple and their three children over a wage dispute. The next day, an announcement was made from two mosques that the couple had committed blasphemy. Frenzy ensued. A crowd ran and beat up the couple, who pleaded innocence and begged for their lives, but were dragged and thrown into the kiln and burnt alive. Shama was pregnant.
The barbarity was worse than the beheadings by the Islamic State militia in Iraq. Here was a civilian mob, mobilized by a mullah or two, either paid by the kiln owner or, worse, motivated by assumed religious duty.
Neither Islamic law nor Muslim tradition permits lynch mobs. Allegations of crime must be proven before a qadi, judge, who’s obligated as part of due process to give the full benefit of the doubt to the accused. The penalty for false accusation is greater than the penalty prescribed for a crime. In this case, therefore, those instigating the horror, those participating in it and those who did nothing to prevent it are all culpable.
The alleged crime is itself of dubious theological provenance. Tradition differs from culture to culture as to how to dispose of old, tattered copies of the revered book — burying in the ground, dropping into a well or in an ocean or a flowing river, to be one with the environment, or, according to some scholarly opinions, burning it. The real offence rests elsewhere — deliberately desecrating the book as an act of hate and incitement.
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws date back to British colonial rule that made it a crime to disturb a religious assembly, trespass on burial grounds, insult religious beliefs and intentionally destroy or defile a place or an object of worship — punishable by one to 10 years in jail. (Similar laws have been inherited in India where they are also still abused.)
Pakistan toughened the laws during the 1980s. Making derogatory remarks against Islamic personages was made an offence (three years in jail); “wilful” desecration of the Qur’an (life imprisonment); blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad (“death or imprisonment for life”). There is no provision to punish a false accuser or a false witness.
Worse, the laws have been misused to settle personal scores, monetary and property disputes, or pursue vendettas while the state has watched helplessly.
“Muslims and Christian alike are victimized,” as Father James Channan notes. But minorities are disproportionately targeted. A total of 633 Muslims, 494 Ahmadis, 187 Christians and 21 Hindus have been accused of blasphemy since 1987, according to the National Commission for Justice and Peace.
Minorities are persecuted in other ways as well, and Hindus and Christians remain at the bottom of the economic ladder — bonded labour in the rural areas and in menial jobs in cities.
Seventeen people are on death row, convicted of blasphemy, and another 19 are serving life sentences. Death sentence is rarely carried out but that’s no solace.
Mere accusation of blasphemy is enough to kill you, literally. Before or during or after a trial, the accused can get bumped off and the killer never found. Those speaking out against both the blasphemy law and the absence of state protection can be killed. In the last four years alone, a moderate Muslim cleric, a Muslim governor of Punjab and a Christian junior cabinet minister have been gunned down. The governor’s murderer was hailed a hero.
Days after the Masih case, an axe-wielding police officer killed a Shiite man in police custody, claiming he had committed blasphemy. In September, a 70-year-old paranoid schizophrenic man convicted of blasphemy was shot by a police guard in jail. This is a sick society we are dealing with, doing un-Islamic things in “Islamic Pakistan.”
In the Masih case, 45 people have been arrested. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said justice will be done. “A responsible state cannot tolerate mob rule and public lynching with impunity.”
Such statements are made and forgotten. People arrested are quietly let go. Charges are withdrawn. Court dates never come. Trials are derailed by bribing or threatening the prosecutors and the judges.
In 2010, a private member’s bill to amend the blasphemy law was sent to a parliamentary committee but withdrawn a year later under pressure.
Brave people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, working to change the situation remain a voice in the wilderness. What’s needed is international pressure and severe penalties on Pakistan — not merely tribal loyalty to Christians or sympathy for other minorities.

Pakistan: The continuing polio challenge

Polio has bounced back with a vengeance in Pakistan. Compared with 53 cases reported during the period January to September last year and 54 in 2012, there have been 174 cases during the corresponding period this year. As on November 5, all of 235 cases have been recorded, the highest-ever in the past 15 years; there were 558 cases in 1999. With a sharp spike in the numbers, Pakistan has turned into a bigger polio reservoir, accounting for 80 per cent of the world’s cases. The Taliban militants’ role in preventing nearly a quarter of a million children in North Waziristan from being vaccinated against polio over the last two years has marked a severe setback to the country. The repercussions of a fake Hepatitis B immunisation programme carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency in Abbottabad in 2011 are also there for everyone to see. If lack of trust in polio immunisation efforts already existed in the community, the militants exploited the fake programme to exacerbate distrust. The exodus of virus-carriers from the region to the rest of the country in June this year has greatly increased the risk of transmission. But the good news is that none of the regions remains inaccessible to health workers. Yet, there is a monumental task ahead for the polio programme in Pakistan as no province is free of the disease; even cities such as Karachi and Lahore have recorded a few cases this year. “The polio programme [in Pakistan] is a disaster. It continues to flounder hopelessly, as its virus flourishes,” notes a recent report of the Independent Monitoring Board.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has just set an ambitious goal of ridding the country of polio in six months. Aside from collective action by all actors, there has to be an immediate, transformative change in the polio programme for Pakistan to get anywhere near disease-elimination. As November to May is a low-transmission season — the virus is the least active and the vaccine most effective during this time — a great opportunity exists now to tame the virus. As the Type 1 virus spreads quickly, is tenacious and is the most difficult to get rid of epidemiologically, vaccination coverage should be 100 per cent; herd immunity is the least in India and Pakistan. It should also explore the option of giving at least two polio shots to children in addition to the oral polio drops. The double-vaccination strategy can greatly boost immunity and reduce the number of oral drops campaigns needed. With the Pakistan virus paralysing children in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, the possibility of it emerging in India is real. India, which has been polio-free for over three years, cannot lower its guard till such time as polio is eliminated from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria, the three polio-endemic countries.

Pakistan: Case study and General Facts about killing of Christian couple; Nationalism or Racialism

By Pastor FS Bhatti
Being true Pakistani Christian, I would like to share my pain and burden for Pakistan’s sovereignty, prosperity, peace and restoration from the terrorists that is under jeopardy of different politic parties for personal’ power and politics for personal benefits than country’s sovereignty. Pakistan is standing on the extreme dangerous situation because of those elements that are against Pakistan.
Some powerful people for their fun and enjoyment, they are perishing human souls. Who could not be concerned Pakistani Christians that are sincere with law of Pakistan? Pakistani Christian had been serving with prayer and services for Pakistan’ peace, as good citizen from first day of Pakistan and before existence of Pakistan, Now our families had come under those strangers who can not understand our feeling, faith and trust. But they had been remained in the power of drunkenness.
It is like some powerful rich people who had made all of us as strangers in our house. Our family members are strangers for each other in Pakistan. But now body knows to whom belongs? Whole family atmosphere is in other hands. They are directing according to brutal mind to create conflict, frustration and confusion among family members to keep headship according to their desires. In this way, they can use any one according to their desires and purposes to eliminate Pakistani Christian generation. They sell out Pakistani Christian properties for their desires, purposes and play with all members of family. Then family atmosphere perished into conflicts and changed into different kind of ideologies than unity in one spirit. They can not walk one accord.
We moved from India confidently with Quid – E – Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Now how it is possible to see too much persecution on Pakistani Christian, churches, Pakistani Christian villages. They will be concerned with our next Christian generations. When we have no control our families, it is a tragedy with us in Pakistan. So many Hindus and Sigh families had moved back to India because of rape, sexual harassment, kidnapping and false Blasphemy cases by the terrorists and strangers for their personal power and political games. So many Christian families moved from Pakistan to Sri – Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia and foreign countries for getting asylum through UNO because when Pakistani Christian have no protection of any one, then Pakistani Christian will have to leave their own country Pakistan. Pakistani Christian had tired to see persecution on Pakistani Christian in false cases.
Now the murder of Shama Bibi and Shazad Masih is extreme shock for whole Christianity in Pakistan after seeing a lot of persecution, the whole country is full of cries and mourning of Pakistani Christian. Christian of Pakistan are raising voice with great grief and pain for brutal murder of shama Bibi and shehzad Masih through protests before press Club and authorities offices for the justice who were victim of secretary’s lust and moral corruption of Brick Kiln factory. All Christian Parties, ministries and churches are protesting with their banners. May God bless us and restore our identity as true Pakistani Christian in Pakistan than discrimination, political games.
As a Journalist of “Pakistan Christian Post” I went to join the protest before Press club dated November 6, 2014, one of representative of Dunya News Tv came me to interview me, He asked me question, what is your demand. It was strange question for me as true Pakistani, we want peace in Pakistan. But he asked me question as only Christian, then I replied him as president of Faisalabad “Pakistan Christian congress”. We need justice as good citizen of Pakistan. Because the teaching of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is so wonderful for all human being who gave shelter to Jews and Christian traders in Mosque. But now we, Christian had been kept under terrorists who bomb blast our churches, villages, traps us in false blasphemy cases even now alive burning had been started. He told me ok. They will on air my interview. But he did not, I had been watching online for three hours because I had been watching careful online TV.
I was shocked to see that they did publish wrong news with wrong caption. He wrote on the news that Minorities are protesting for gas lack in the houses. Dunya News exaggerated news with his mind to corrupt the real news. Then I reported on their website, but thank God he did amend after few minutes. It means that Media also is not presenting us on good standard as valuable. I had card of representative. He again told me that he had on air my interview. Then after few minutes, he did not pick up my phone.
Then I decided to arrange Press conference for the peace of Pakistani Christian who are in shock and Pakistan’s sovereignty. But our party is self supportive; all workers are hand to mouth. But we are determined to arrange Press Conference for peace. We need your prayers and financial blessing to arrange this Press conference. We want to shine darkest aspects of life and plight of Christian in Pakistan.
Being true Christian, I believe in the Holy Bible, It is written in His holy words that people will persecute you by name “Christ Jesus” who is our personal savior and founder of faith. As like Pakistani Christian are crying now with pain under brutal system of discrimination and prejudice than Nationalism from decades. Israelite was crying under king of Egypt, God heard their prayers of crying heart. God answered their prayers to give them promise land for their generation. When politic leader and religion leader did not hear the voice of Israelite for decades, then God did justice with them. History tells us through Prophet Moses story from the Holy Bible.
But we, Pakistani Christian believe in God of peace, love and mercy and forgiven. We don’t want separate province and country because our forefather had been buried in this land of Pakistan. We want peace and justice as Pakistani not minority representatives. We are still praying to God of heaven and earth. May God do justice with us for peaceful living? Because our Lord Christ Jesus’ title is Prince of peace, we want to peace in Pakistan.
It is too much hurting to read play cards of protests in shape of slogan before press club and on face book. If you don’t like to see us as Pakistani national Christian, then send us to other Christian country as respected or burn us like Shama bibi and shahzed, these were slogans of protests before press clubs mostly in pain and burden for Pakistani innocent Christian. What was main reason of murder? Shama bibi did not compromise to commit adultery with secretary of brick kiln factory? It is cruelty with Pakistani Christian.

Pakistan: LHC admits petition against Kot Radha Kishan killings

Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday admitted a petition filed by Javed Gill against the killing of a Christian couple in Kot Radha Kishan for alleged blasphemy.
LHC sought a reply from chief secretary Punjab and IG police in a petition seeking protection for minorities following the incident in which a Christian couple were lynched and thrown in a brick kiln by an angry mob on November 4, for allegedly disgracing the Holy Quran.
Gill submitted in his petition that Supreme Court had directed provincial governments to provide protection to minorities in accordance with law but Punjab government failed to protect these minorities.
He requested the court to take concrete measures to provide protection to minorities in light of the directions given by Supreme Court. Justice Shamas Mehmood Mirza directed that a reply should be submitted within a week.

Pakistan: 8 policemen, 11 IDPs injured as ration distribution turns chaotic in Bannu

The Express Tribune News
Eight policemen and 11 internally displaced persons (IDPs) were injured in a clash at a ration centre near Bannu Sports Complex, right before the arrival of international donors of United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) in the district, Express News reported on Thursday.
The donors were due to visit the IDPs camp for the first time, but were safely taken to an unidentified place by the security forces after the clash broke out. It is unsure if the donors will visit the camp or not.
Earlier, mismanagement at the distribution centre led to IDPs pelting stones at police officials present in the area. Security forces resorted to aerial firing and tear gas shelling to disperse the IDPs. Police also baton-charged the unruly crowd to bring the situation under control.
At least eight vehicles were also reportedly damaged in the incident.
The injured, in critical condition, were moved to the Civil Hospital soon after the incident.The IDPs have also set fire to sheds installed to protect them against the scorching sun.

Pakistan: Islamic State Of Crisis

Jundullah, the TTP splinter group who tried to take credit for the Wagah tradegy is now trying to say that they are in touch with the big Islamic State fish. Jundullah spokesman Fahad Marwat said that the IS group had visisted Balochistan. They wanted to see what the scope of collaboration with militants of Pakistan was. And though IS poses a very real threat to Pakistan, is Jundallah just looking for attention since they have almost lost the Wagah feather in their cap to Jamaat ul Ahrar?
The provincial government of Balochistan had conveyed a confidential report to the federal government and law enforcement agencies warning of increased footprints of IS though the federal government is in absolute denial as per Chaudhry Nisar’s statement that there is no IS here. Elements of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Ahl-e-Sunnat Wai Jamat (ASWJ) have been offered to join hands with IS. And now IS is threatening to take revenge for the military operations in the tribal areas and threatening to attack in Kheyber Pakhtunkhwa. And of course, there are wall chalkings and posters of IS all over Pakistan from Karachi to Khanewal.
Whether the IS is defeated in Iraq and Syria or not, they will infiltrate into other countries and Pakistan has already been a breeding ground for militants. The army and intelligence has to make sure that they do not get their hook into us, even though militant outfits like Jundallah are trying their best to attract these new investors. Should the government let the people know when to worry? Should such intelligence be shared with the common man, the one who dies from bombs planted on the streets? Or if Nisar had acknowledged the threat, would it have caused panic? Aren’t we expecting a move from IS in the region? There is much more to come. We should brace ourselves.

Pakistan: - PMLN - 'Shameless Nepotism'

The PML-N government once again finds itself in troubled waters over allegations of nepotism. The Lahore High Court, hearing a petition challenging the appointment of Maryam Nawaz Sharif as Chairperson of the Prime Minister Youth Loan Programme, appears set to decide in favour of the petitioner. The court has adjourned the hearing till Friday, to allow the government to introduce change and in view of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s absence on account of his visit to Germany. During the proceedings, Justice Manzoor Ali Shah lambasted the government for making inadequate appointments under the garb of executive prerogative and raised questions over non-compliance on procedures.
Maryam’s appointment is just one of the many examples of the PML-N’s flawed approach towards politics and governance. Over time, the party leadership has earned considerable notoriety over its inability to look beyond family members for suitable individuals. Hamza Shahbaz Sharif enjoys a rather special status in Punjab, where he chairs meetings and participates in several affairs absent any legal or constitutional authority. That he is Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s son is unfortunately sufficient. Brothers-in-law, cousins, children, nephews and nieces – the Sharif brothers have inducted all sorts of family members to serve the country. It shouldn’t then come as a surprise that they are accused of running the country like a family business; constantly making arbitrary decisions and handing over important portfolios to relatives no matter how poorly-equipped they may be to handle them.
Such blatant nepotism not only has negative effects on matters of governance that directly impact the lives of citizens, it undermines the entire system that ought to be run on the principle of meritocracy. This outdated approach weakens institutions, and if they are already weak, it ensures that they may never be allowed to evolve. Talented individuals are aplenty who have worked extremely hard to aspire for important positions. Not being related to the Sharifs shouldn’t be another hurdle they must overcome. Favouritism is also damaging the party itself, where disgruntled party workers constantly find themselves being sidelined and unacknowledged. It is important that the dynamic duo realises that times are changing, and changes accordingly. This is not the era for kings and princes.

Pakistan - Christian Couple Burnt - ''On the state’s collapse''

Ali Malik
Under Zia, the doctrine of putting religious beliefs over the call of duty became official in Pakistan’s administration
Last week, in Kot Radha Krishan, a man and his pregnant wife were set on fire by a mob for alleged blasphemy. The act hardly comes as a shock. The real shock is that we have learnt to live with cruelty in the name of religion. Violence in the name of religion is rampant here. And yet, in almost all the cases, there is a political or economic motive where some influential used religion as a pretext to serve vested interests. On every act of such savagery, liberals blame the violent tendencies of religion to assert their point. The religious leaning point at the ulterior motive to dissociate the role of religion from the incident. And yet, in this polarised debate, the paramount questions remain: why has religion acquired such a status where any act of savagery can be carried out in its name without any fear of consequences and why has the state become so toothless against this tide of religious fervour that it cannot assert itself when acts against the state and humanity are carried out, challenging its very writ?
This process of state surrender has been gradual. The Objectives Resolution under Liaquat Ali Khan was the hallmark incident of religion entering the state. Though it did set a wrong precedent the use of religion in polity by men on top was mostly political maneuvering and was hardly an act of imposition of personal beliefs.
The first incident of incorporation of personal spiritual beliefs to influence state policy can be attributed to Qudrat Ullah Shahab. Shahab’s rise to power in Pakistan’s administration coincided with his spiritual transformation. And, at some point, he started mixing the two. Shahab’s cult had very broad intellectual resonance among administrative officials and intellectuals. In the process, ‘Shahabists’ started defining the state of Pakistan in the mould of a divine mission. It may not have been Shahab’s intention, but this led to something very dangerous. It gave people in administration a passport to serve their vested interests, linking them to divine missions. Shahabists, for the most part, were non-violent and adhered to the version of Islam that was moderate but they emphasised the superiority of those with similar faith over others and with men in powerful positions having this belief, it started reflecting in the state’s policy.
The big buzz came in the form of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). The JI was different from the religious orthodoxy prevalent. For one, unlike Sufi, Deobandi or Barelvi movements that were more interested in regional impact, it was the first pan-Islamic movement in the region (the difference between the Deoband and JI in some ways is similar to the difference between the Taliban and al Qaeda with the former being region focused). Secondly, it was opposed to the creation of Pakistan and thus was at odds with the state during the early years. Third, it adhered to a stricter interpretation of religion and had more room for stiffer actions to Islamise the state. Around the late 1960s, with the rise of leftist politics in East and West Pakistan, the established order saw benefit in collaborating with the JI. Under General Sher Ali Khan Pataudi and Altaf Gohar, the JI became an ally of the established order. The period of the 1970s is marked by the bonding of Shahabists and the JI.
If one tracks Shahab’s own spiritual journey, its very root makes him a contrarian to JI ideology. And yet there were similarities between the two. One was superiority of those with a similar faith. And both were very anti-secular. This marriage of Shahabists and Jamaatists culminated in the birth of Ziaists in late 1970s. Zia, himself, was an amalgam of Shahbists and Jamaatists. Inspired by Maulana Tufail, the head of the JI, Zia had a strong Sufi tinge to him as well. He would be a regular at the shrine of Hazrat Ali Hajveri and yet his policies were closer to more strict JI interpretation.
Under Zia, the doctrine of putting religious beliefs over the call of duty became official in Pakistan’s administration and this led to the erosion of the state’s authority. Seeing the opportunity, the vested interests, too, jumped onto the bandwagon and thus religion became a tool of political, social, and economic achievement.
Post 9/11, it became evident that the pan-Islamic hardline flare was detrimental to the established order’s interests. This was an opportunity for the state to divorce the religious beliefs of individuals from the state’s policy. Rather, what the dominant part of the state chose was to break the bond between Shahabists and Jamatists. So, rather than ensuring that state officials carry out their duty under the law rather than their personal spiritual beliefs, the state only limited the acceptance of such beliefs to moderate beliefs. So now, Hizbut Tahrir’s penetration in state institutions will be quelled and ISIS will be cracked down on but the persecution of those of different faiths and other criminal acts in the guise of religious beliefs will be overlooked. In recent years, even the JI is transforming to seek approval of more moderate elements in the established order.
It is neither religion alone nor the manipulation by people to further their interests that is the core problem. The fundamental problem is that the state, thanks to the personal beliefs of its officials, has ceded its authority to anything and everything in the name of the religion. Allowance of religious beliefs of individuals to supersede needs of statecraft will continue to lead to Kot Radha Krashan like incidents. We are heading towards a complete collapse of the state and society on this route. One should continue to grow on the spiritual path as an individual but mixing it with the state’s duties makes the collapse inevitable. Rather than focusing on decoupling the bond between moderate and hardline, the state needs to set its eye on the new age, a futuristic age of the state’s authority and sanctity of written law and social contract, an age of diversity and tolerance.

Pakistan: Bilawal to celebrate ‘PPP Foundation Day’ in Lahore

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari would stay in the city for three days during the party’s “Foundation Day” celebrations starting from November 30.
This was revealed by PPP Punjab President Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo during a special meeting of the PPP held at Model Town on Thursday. Party Secretary General Tanvir Ashraf Kaira, Nawab Sher Vaseer, Manzoor Manika, Suhail Mailk, Molana Yousuf Awan, Afnan Butt and other office bearers also attended the meeting. Office bearers of the PPP allied wings including PYO, PSF, farmer, labour, cultural, ulema, minorities, human rights, and social media finalised some of the recommendations to observe the Foundation Day on November 30 at Bilawal House in Bahria Town. Later, while talking to the media, Watoo said that the PPP Punjab was determined to make the Foundation Day a big success and Chairman Bilawal Bhutto would be in Lahore for at least three days and would meet key representatives of different party organisations at the Bilawal House.
He said that the PPP Punjab was the host of “All Pakistan PPP Foundation Day Celebrations” and delegations from all over the country would participate.
“Delegates from Sindh, Balochistan, southern Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Kashmir, Gilgit and Baltistan will come to Lahore for the celebrations,” he added. He said that he had a very useful meeting with the PPP Punjab district information secretaries as their role was crucial in disseminating the message of the party at the grassroots level.
The PPP Punjab president said that the news released from the provincial capital regarding the activities of the party would be sent to the district information secretaries for publication in the local newspapers.