Hillary Clinton made her first public comments on President Obama’s immigration order Friday night at a ritzy event at a hotel in New York City, saying it was necessary in the face of House inaction and that “this is about people’s lives.” “This is about people, I would venture to guess, who served us tonight, who prepared the food tonight” and those who end up in jobs like day-laboring, Clinton said during a question-and-answer session with writer Walter Isaacson at a New York Historical Society event at the Mandarin Oriental hotel at the Time Warner Center.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Teenagers carrying weapons stand at checkpoints and busy intersections in Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul. Patched onto the left arms of their black uniforms are the logos of the Islamic Police. In Raqqa, the Islamic State group's de facto capital in Syria, boys attend training camp and religious courses before heading off to fight. Others serve as cooks or guards at the extremists' headquarters or as spies, informing on people in their neighborhoods. Across the vast region under IS control, the group is actively conscripting children for battle and committing abuses against the most vulnerable at a young age, according to a growing body of evidence assembled from residents, activists, independent experts and human rights groups. In the northern Syrian town of Kobani, where ethnic Kurds have been resisting an IS onslaught for weeks, several activists told The Associated Press they observed children fighting alongside the militants. Mustafa Bali, a Kobani-based activist, said he saw the bodies of four boys, two of them younger than 14. And at least one 18 year old is said to have carried out a suicide attack. In Syria's Aleppo province, an activist affiliated with the rebel Free Syrian Army said its fighters encountered children in their late teens "fairly often" in battles against the rival Islamic State group. It is difficult to determine just how widespread the exploitation of children is in the closed world of IS-controlled territory. There are no reliable figures on the number of minors the group employs. But a United Nations panel investigating war crimes in the Syrian conflict concluded that in its enlistment of children for active combat roles, the Islamic State group is perpetrating abuses and war crimes on a massive scale "in a systematic and organized manner." The group "prioritizes children as a vehicle for ensuring long-term loyalty, adherence to their ideology and a cadre of devoted fighters that will see violence as a way of life," it said in a recent report. The panel of experts, known as the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, conducted more than 300 interviews with people who fled or are living in IS-controlled areas, and examined video and photographic evidence. The use of children by armed groups in conflict is, of course, nothing new. In the Syrian civil war, the Free Syrian Army and Nusra Front rebel groups also recruit children for combat, said Leila Zerrougui, the U.N. secretary-general's special representative for children and armed conflict. But no other group comes close to IS in using children in such a systematic and organized way. And the effect is that much greater because IS commands large areas in which the militants inculcate the children with their radical and violent interpretation of Shariah law. "What is new is that ISIS seems to be quite transparent and vocal about their intention and their practice of recruiting children," said Laurent Chapuis, UNICEF regional child protection adviser for the Middle East and North Africa, using an alternate acronym for the group. "Children as young as 10, 12 years old are being used in a variety of roles, as combatants as messengers, spies, guards, manning checkpoints but also for domestic purposes like cooking, cleaning, sometimes providing medical care to the wounded." "This is not a marginal phenomenon. This is something that is being observed and seems to be part of the strategy of the group," Zerrougui said in a phone interview from New York. She said some children join voluntarily for various reasons but others are targeted. "They are abducting children and forcing them to join, they are brainwashing children and indoctrinating them to join their group. All the tools used to attract and recruit children are used by this group," she said, adding that children as young as 9 or 10 are used for "various roles." In areas of Syria and Iraq under their control, the Sunni extremists have closed schools or changed the curriculum to fit with their ideology. Their goal, according to the U.N., is to use education as a tool of indoctrination to foster a new generation of supporters. A video recently published by an IS media arm shows what it says is a graduation ceremony for boys, who appear to be in their teens. Dressed in military uniforms, they are lined up to shake hands with a sheikh. Another scene shows the boys posing with AK-47s, their faces hidden under black masks. The video touts the children as a "generation of lions, protectors of religion, dignity and land." Residents of IS-controlled areas said the militants are teaching children at school to become fighters. One resident in the Iraqi city of Fallujah described seeing his 6-year-old son playing with a water pistol in front of the house and screaming: "I am a fighter for the Islamic State!" "I waved him to come to me and I broke the gun in two pieces," said the man, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of his life. He also said he and his son recently stopped at an IS checkpoint. His son shouted, "We love the State!" and one of the fighters asked, "Which state?" When the son replied, "the Islamic State," the fighter "told him, 'Good boy,' and let us through," the resident said. The incident persuaded the man to move his family to the northern city of Kirkuk, now in Kurdish hands. "The boys are studying, not to learn, but to become mujahedeen," he said. Earlier this year in Syria, the Islamic State group abducted more than 150 Kurdish boys, held them in a school in Aleppo province and showed them videos of beheadings and attacks, while subjecting them to daily instruction on militant ideology for five months, the U.N. and Kurdish officials said. The boys were later released. In Raqqa province, an anti-IS activist collective has documented the presence of at least five known youth training camps, one specifically for children under 16 in the town of Tabqa. The collective, named Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, has released a video showing children crawling under barbed wire as part of their military training. The video could not be independently confirmed but is consistent with AP reporting on the subject. Residents in IS-controlled areas in Iraq, such as Mosul and Fallujah, say it is not uncommon to see gun-toting boys in their late teens standing at checkpoints and even younger ones riding in militant convoys, usually accompanying their fathers in parades. Another resident of Fallujah said many boys as young as 11 volunteer to join the group, but that IS often seeks the parents' consent for those under 16. He said others join under pressure or in exchange for money. "Once they're done training, their skills and abilities are tested before they decide where to send them off. Many want to be on the front lines," said the man, who identified himself as Abu Abdullah al-Falluji. In a report released earlier this year, Human Rights Watch interviewed four former IS child fighters in Syria who described military training with the group. One, Bassem, who joined the group at 16, said he left after being seriously wounded by shrapnel in battle. A 17 year old, Amr, told the group that children in his unit signed up for suicide missions — and that he reluctantly did so as well under pressure. Thousands of foreign fighters have flocked to IS areas from all over the world, many of them with their families. A video emerged this month showing two boys, both speaking perfect French, holding guns aloft and claiming to be in Raqqa. They stand on a dusty street; a man walks by and takes no notice of their weapons. The boys, who look much younger than 10, say they're from Strasbourg and Toulouse. French prosecutors have opened a formal investigation to identify the children. "Over there, you're in a country of infidels. Here, we're mujahedeen. We're in Syria, we're in Raqqa here," one of the boys says in the video. "It's war here."
The Lower House of Parliament, known as the Wolesi Jirga, with majority vote, approved the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the United States and the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with NATO on Sunday. After debates on the agreements during the session, House Speaker Abdul Raouf Ibrahimi asked the MPs to raise their cards, green in favor of the pacts and red in opposition. As a result, 149 representatives favored the accords, five others raised red cards opposing the agreements and two other lawmakers raised white cards. "With majority vote, both agreements are approved," announced Ibrahimi. The five lawmakers contesting the agreements include: Sadiqi Zada Neili, MP from Daikundi; MPs Abdul Raouf Enami and Amanullah Payman from Badakhshan; Ashuqullah Wafa from Baghlan and Mawlavi Abdul Rahman Rahmani from Balkh province. After the approval of the agreements, President Ashraf Ghani in a statement welcomed the Wolesi Jirga's decision and asked the Senate to ratify both the agreements as soon as possible. On Saturday, Ibrahimi announced to the MPs that the government, in a letter, requested the Parliament to prioritize tackling the agreements and urged the MPs to ratify the treaties as soon as possible, preferably before the London Conference on Afghanistan on December 4. Both security accords were signed by the National Security Advisor, Hanif Atmar, within 24 hours of President Ashraf Ghani taking office on September 30, 2014. The agreements will not only allow the presence of U.S. and foreign forces in Afghanistan post-2014, but is said to secure Washington's continued support to Afghanistan.
A suicide bomber killed at least 40 people at a crowded volleyball match in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, a provincial official said. Mukhles Afghan, spokesman for the governor of Paktika province, said at least 50 more were wounded in the attack in Yahya Khel district, where residents had gathered to watch a tournament final. He said most of the casualties were civilians. The Taliban insurgency and other jihadist militants have unleashed waves of suicide attacks and assassinations in Afghanistan this year, as foreign forces continue to withdraw after 13 years of war. No one immediately claimed responsibility. About 12,000 international troops will remain in Afghanistan next year to train and support Afghanistan's security forces. Paktika was the site of one of this year's deadliest attacks on civilians in July, when 89 people died when a bomb exploded in a crowded market. The province lies along the border with Pakistan's lawless North Waziristan region. As foreign troops withdraw, 2014 has been one of the bloodiest years of the war for Afghan civilians, according to the United Nations, which recorded nearly 5,000 deaths and injuries of civilians in the first half of the year. About three-quarters of those were blamed on the Taliban and its allies.
Take it seriously
It is a matter of great concern that reports of Da’ish, or Islamic State, making inroads inside Pakistan are increasing by the day. Going by the press, there might already have been meetings between IS representatives and some of our home-grown militants somewhere in Balochistan. And, following the initial success of the NW operation, sections of the TTP have openly allied themselves with the caliphate now spreading across Iraq and Syria. Such issues must not be taken lightly. It took more than fifty thousand lives before Zarb-e-Azb was launched and Pakistan must not allow such elements anywhere near its frontiers.
The sudden rise of the Islamic State is important to understand. Its leader, Abu Bakkar al Baghdadi, was the former Iraq commander of al Qaeda. But since the Syrian civil war made way for extremists from across the world, Baghdadi led a breakaway faction that later drew condemnation even from AQ chief al Zawahiri for its brutalities. However, the shifting of the international jihadi centre from AQ to IS has more complicated reasons. It means, for one thing, that governments and agencies that fund and arm such movements find IS more useful now than AQ. In Pakistan, too, where the TTP conglomerate was initially bankrolled by AQ Arabs, it seems the old arrangement is not as lucrative as the IS connection. Clearly elements announcing support for IS have logistical, financial and ideological (if any) reasons for the shift. Now that the NW operation has degraded TTP’s sanctuary, militants must not be allowed another lifeline. Already their slipping into Afghanistan has compromised the effectiveness of the operation to an extent.
Recently in the US, Gen Raheel Sharif played down the IS threat in Pakistan. While there is merit in his calculation – the operation is going too strongly for militants to be able to reorganise anytime soon – the long term implications of the threat must still be addressed. In the immediate concerns of battle, the military must not lose sight of the fact that society as a whole has shifted considerably to the right over the last decade and a half. And there are considerable sections that are still easy prey to jihadist indoctrination. All these factors will have to be considered for Zarb-e-Azb to come full circle.
Government should take immediate action to dislodge the criminal networks earning billions from this cynical trade, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.
WHO report suggests that ratio of fake medicines in developed countries is one percent; it is 30 percent or more in developing markets while 30 to 40 percent medicine sold in Pakistanare fake.
Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that a common Pakistani spends 77 percent of his or her health budget on medicines which is around Rs 200 billion annually of which a sizable number are fake drugs prepared in Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi or Multan. Pakistan has four thousand registered pharmacists and over one hundred thousand unregistered practitioners who continue to play with the lives of masses.
According to WHO Pakistan stands 13th in dollar 431 billion fake medicines market with neighbouring India and China on the top. Pakistan stands on 10th position among countries trying to send counterfeit medicines in the highly regulated US market, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal. Globally fake medicines are responsible for seven hundred thousand deaths annually, he said.
At least three more infants died in Sargodha's District Headquarters (DHQ) Teaching Hospital, taking the death toll to 19 on Sunday, DawnNews reported. The nursery of the DHQ hospital has 25 beds and five incubators but it had 50 newborns admitted by Friday, with 20 of them in critical condition. Incubators could only be provided to five babies. "It is a tragic incident," said Dr Nadia Aziz, member of Punjab Hospitals Health Committee. She added that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had taken notice of the newborn deaths at the DHQ Sargodha facility and had ordered suspension of the medical superintendent. Dr Aziz said that out of the 19 deaths, the delivery of five infants were carried out by unskilled attendants and "eight of the newborns had very low birth weight". "The government is committed to provide better health facilities to the people in public hospitals in Punjab," she added. It has been alleged that the reason for the deaths was due to absence of facilities, including unavailability of oxygen and incubators shortage, and negligence of the doctors. The Punjab government had reportedly issued directions to the authorities to provide 20 incubators to the hospital at the earliest. It is reliably learnt the first infant died at 9pm on Wednesday after which the parents of the other newborns kept on asking the administration to call senior doctors but in vein. Some students of the Sargodha Medical College were present in the hospital for treatment of babies but they failed to save their lives due to lack of knowledge and experience. Dr Iqbal Sami , Medical Superintendent of the DHQ Teaching Hospital, said the babies could not survive due to immature birth while some of them had been brought from private hospitals in a critical condition. He denied the allegations that the infants had lost their life due to negligence of the staff, insufficient arrangements or lack of oxygen. He said a fact-finding committee, comprising Dr Arshad Rauf, Dr Shahid Manzoor and Rabiya Hashim, had been constituted and stern action would be taken against those found negligent. Pakistan Medical Association Sargodha President Dr Sikander Warraich had also refuted the charges of negligence of doctors or staff, saying four doctors were on duty in the nursery during the night shift and catered to the needs of all the babies.