Monday, November 24, 2014

Video Report - No Deal: Iran nuclear talks extended until July 1

Video Report - Obama announces Hagel's resignation

U.S - Hagel Submits Resignation as Defense Chief Under Pressure


Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel handed in his resignation on Monday, the first cabinet-level casualty of the collapse of President Obama’s Democratic majority in the Senate and the struggles of his national security team to respond to an onslaught of global crises.
In announcing Mr. Hagel’s resignation from the State Dining Room on Monday, the president, flanked by Mr. Hagel and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., called Mr. Hagel critical to ushering the military “through a significant period of transition” and lauded “a young army sergeant from Vietnam who rose to serve as America’s 24th secretary of defense.”
Mr. Obama called Mr. Hagel “no ordinary secretary of defense,” adding that he had “been in the dirt” of combat like no other defense chief. He said that Mr. Hagel would remain in the job until his successor is confirmed by the Senate.
Administration officials said that Mr. Obama made the decision to remove Mr. Hagel, the sole Republican on his national security team, last Friday after a series of meetings between the two men over the past two weeks.
The officials characterized the decision as a recognition that the threat from the militant group Islamic State will require different skills from those that Mr. Hagel, who often struggled to articulate a clear viewpoint and was widely viewed as a passive defense secretary, was brought in to employ.
Mr. Hagel, a combat veteran who was skeptical about the Iraq war, came in to manage the Afghanistan combat withdrawal and the shrinking Pentagon budget in the era of budget sequestrations.
Now, however, the American military is back on a war footing, although it is a modified one. Some 3,000 American troops are being deployed in Iraq to help the Iraqi military fight the Sunni militants of the Islamic State, even as the administration struggles to come up with, and articulate, a coherent strategy to defeat the group in both Iraq and Syria.
“The next couple of years will demand a different kind of focus,” one administration official said, speaking on grounds of anonymity. He insisted that Mr. Hagel was not fired, saying that he initiated discussions about his future two weeks ago with the president, and that the two men mutually agreed that it was time for him to leave.
But Mr. Hagel’s aides had maintained in recent weeks that he expected to serve the full four years as defense secretary. His removal appears to be an effort by the White House to show that it is sensitive to critics who have pointed to stumbles in the government’s early response to several national security issues, including the Ebola crisis and the threat posed by the Islamic State.
Even before the announcement of Mr. Hagel’s removal, Obama officials were speculating on his possible replacement. At the top of the list are Michèle A. Flournoy, a former under secretary of defense; Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island and a former officer with the Army’s 82nd Airborne; and Ashton B. Carter, a former deputy secretary of defense.
A respected former senator who struck a friendship with Mr. Obama when they were both critics of the Iraq war from positions on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Hagel has nonetheless had trouble penetrating the tight team of former campaign aides and advisers who form Mr. Obama’s closely knit set of loyalists. Senior administration officials have characterized him as quiet during cabinet meetings; Mr. Hagel’s defenders said that he waited until he was alone with the president before sharing his views, the better to avoid leaks.
Whatever the case, Mr. Hagel struggled to fit in with Mr. Obama’s close circle and was viewed as never gaining traction in the administration after a bruising confirmation fight among his old Senate colleagues, during which he was criticized for seeming tentative in his responses to sharp questions.
He never really shed that pall after arriving at the Pentagon, and in the past few months he has largely ceded the stage to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, who officials said initially won the confidence of Mr. Obama with his recommendation of military action against the Islamic State.
In Mr. Hagel’s less than two years on the job, his detractors said he struggled to inspire confidence at the Pentagon in the manner of his predecessors, especially Robert M. Gates. But several of Mr. Obama’s top advisers over the past few months have also acknowledged privately that the president did not want another high-profile defense secretary in the mold of Mr. Gates, who went on to write a memoir of his years with Mr. Obama in which he sharply criticized the president. Mr. Hagel, they said, in many ways was exactly the kind of defense secretary whom the president, after battling the military during his first term, wanted.
Mr. Hagel, for his part, spent his time on the job largely carrying out Mr. Obama’s stated wishes on matters like bringing back American troops from Afghanistan and trimming the Pentagon budget, with little pushback. He did manage to inspire loyalty among enlisted soldiers and often seemed at his most confident when talking to troops or sharing wartime experiences as a Vietnam veteran.
But Mr. Hagel has often had problems articulating his thoughts — or administration policy — in an effective manner, and has sometimes left reporters struggling to describe what he has said in news conferences. In his side-by-side appearances with both General Dempsey and Secretary of State John Kerry, Mr. Hagel, a decorated Vietnam veteran and the first former enlisted combat soldier to be defense secretary, has often been upstaged.

He raised the ire of the White House in August as the administration was ramping up its strategy to fight the Islamic State, directly contradicting the president, who months before had likened the Sunni militant group to a junior varsity basketball squad. Mr. Hagel, facing reporters in his now-familiar role next to General Dempsey, called the Islamic State an “imminent threat to every interest we have,” adding, “This is beyond anything that we’ve seen.” White House officials later said they viewed those comments as unhelpful, although the administration still appears to be struggling to define just how large is the threat posed by the Islamic State.

First suspected Ebola case emerges in Pakistan

A man in Chiniot was rushed to a local hospital in critical condition and has been kept under isolation, with doctors fearing he may have contracted the deadly Ebola virus.
Zulfiqar Ahmad, 40, who resides in Chiniot, returned to Pakistan on November 16 after working for the Togolese Republic in West Africa.
Ahmad faced multiple health-related problems and was admitted to the DHQ Hospital in Chiniot and later shifted to the Allied Hospital by his relatives.
After conducting initial diagnostic tests, doctors said that he may have contracted the Ebola virus.
“He is a chronic patient of various diseases, and was previously admitted in a hospital in Togo for more than 20 days,” Medical Superintendent (MS) Allied Hospital Dr Rashid Maqbool toldThe Express Tribune.
He also stated that Ahmad has a serious liver issue and has been vomiting blood.
“He is in a critical condition and is being provided with maximum facilities available at the hospital. His blood and other samples have been taken which have been sent to the National Health Laboratory in Islamabad to ascertain the possibility of the Ebola virus attack,” Dr Maqbool said.
Further, the doctor said that a special team has been constituted to provide Ahmad exclusive treatment. He added that on the arrival of the analysis report, the possibility of the virus could be ruled out and decided accordingly.
Last month, the Sindh Assembly adopted a resolution recommending the Sindh government to take precautionary measures against the Ebola virus by establishing isolation wards to quarantine Ebola patients, have Ebola screening desks and to approach the federal government to setup such desks at airports and railway stations.
As of October, the Ebola death rate has gone up to 70 per cent according to the World Health Organisation.
“What we’re finding is 70% mortality,” said Bruce Aylward, assistant director-general of the WHO.

Bangladesh - Former Awami League official sentenced to death in Bangladesh

Bangladesh's war crimes court has handed a death sentence to a former local leader of the ruling party for mass murder. He becomes the 14th person convicted of atrocities in the 1971 independence war against Pakistan.
A former local leader of Bangladesh's ruling Awami League party was on Monday sentenced to hang for his role in the death of dozens of people. The war crimes court in the capital, Dhaka, found Mobarak Hossain, 64, guilty of heading a pro-Pakistani militia that was responsible for killing scores of people during Bangladesh's 1971 war to gain independence from Pakistan.
"He was sentenced to death for the murder of 33 people and given (a) life term for the abduction and murder of another person," prosecutor Shahidur Rahman said.
"Hossain and his associates abducted 132 people and then murdered 33 of them on the bank of a pond," he added.
Controversial tribunal
Hossain, who was a leader of the Awami League party in the eastern district of Brahmanbaria for 16 years, was expelled from the party after war crime charges were laid against him in 2012. He is the first person connected with the party to be given the death penalty - the court has focused mostly on trying officials from the country's largest Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, which opposed independence during the conflict. Hossain had previously been an official in the latter party, before it was banned for some years following independence.
The leader of Jamaat and its top lieutenants were sentenced to death last year on war crime charges, unleashing the country's worst-ever political violence, which left some 500 people dead.
An ex-minister of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has also been sentenced to death. Both Jamaat and the BNP have said the trials at the war crimes court are politically motivated, while rights groups say they do not meet international standards.
The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has defended the hearings, saying they will promote reconciliation after the conflict. It says three million died in the war, a figure that is six times more than the highest estimate by independent researchers.

Music Video - Pashto Song by Doctor Laila Khan 2015

Afghanistan: Haqqani Network behind deadly suicide attack in Paktika

The Haqqani terrorist network has been accused of the deadly suicide attack in eastern Paktika province which left at least 57 people dead.
The Afghan Intelligence – National Directorate of Security (NDS) said the Haqqani Network was behind the suicide attack. According to local government officials, at least 57 people were killed and around 60 others were injured following the suicide attack which took place around 4:30 pm local time.
The suicide bomber detonated his explosives during a volleyball match in Yahya Khel district which was attended by hundreds of spectators.
No group including the Taliban militants has so far claimed responsibility behind the incident.
The Haqqani terrorist network is accused of staging numerous cross-border attacks from their base in North Waziristan, including the 19-hour siege at the US Embassy in Kabul in September 2011.
Haqqani network was formed in the late 1970s by Jalaluddin Haqqani. The group is allied with al-Qaida and the Afghan Taliban and cooperates with other terrorist organizations in the region.
The network is considered the most lethal insurgent group targeting International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Afghan personnel in Afghanistan.

Fear for Afghan women's rights as troops withdraw

Afghan lawmaker Shukria Barakzai says the suicide bomber who plowed into her motorcade a week ago wanted to silence a voice on women's rights with a deafening blast.

Barakzai is lucky to be alive after her attacker rammed a car full of explosives into her armored vehicle, killing three civilians and putting her in the hospital with minor injuries.
Human rights groups fear that the cause to which she is committed -- bringing women into public life in the deeply conservative country -- is also in peril.
With US and NATO combat troops set to withdraw by the end of the year and many international organizations also scaling back operations, they fear that the Afghan government will be under less pressure to uphold women's rights, providing a new opening for conservatives to roll back gains made since the 2001 US-led invasion that toppled the Taliban.
"I was the target of this attack simply because I am a defender of women's rights, a defender of human rights, and I value democracy and freedom of speech," Barakzai said from her hospital bed.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack, which bore the hallmarks of the Haqqani network, a Taliban affiliate based in Pakistan that sends suicide bombers against prominent targets.
Attacks in the capital Kabul have escalated since President Ashraf Ghani took office in September.
Insurgent groups oppose the bilateral security agreement he signed with Washington, ratified by Parliament yesterday, as well as his support for women's rights and peace talks with the Taliban.
As Ghani prepares to meet international donors in London next month, he is under pressure from rights advocates as well as allies like Barakzai to stick to his commitments and ensure women have a central role in any peace talks.
But he is under equal or greater pressure from insurgents and conservatives in the Afghan government to abandon those commitments as the price for peace.
Jorrit Kamminga, a policy adviser for the charity Oxfam, says peace is not possible unless women are involved in the process.
"The exclusion of women will lead to an imperfect and unsustainable peace," he said in an interview to coincide with the release today of a report titled "Behind Closed Doors."
"We don't need to promote women's rights, it is already in the constitution," he said. "What we need to do is urge the government to respect the constitution and carry it through to peace talks, connect those two elements, and make sure that women's rights are connected to those peace efforts." 

Pakistan - Polio vaccination team attacked

A polio vaccination team, accompanied by policemen, was attacked in Pakistan on Monday while administrating polio vaccination drops to children, media reported.

At least one person was injured when the attack took place in Charsadda district in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Dawn online reported.

Northwestern Pakistan has seen scores of incidents where polio vaccination teams were attacked.

The Federally Administered Tribal Agencies (FATA), which has never been able to vaccinate its targeted population of around nine million since the global polio eradication initiative began in Pakistan in the mid-1990s, has become a real challenge for the government and UN agencies. They are finding it extremely hard to address the issue of reaching unvaccinated children and tackle vaccination refusal cases.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said that Pakistan is responsible for nearly 80 per cent of polio cases reported globally.

Video Report - Dawood Ibrahim to be shifted out of Pakistan by ISI?

Pakistan: Saving the sagging education in govt schools

Services of another seven government schoolteachers have been suspended in Quetta during a campaign launched by the Education Depart­ment against absentee teachers.
What to talk of Balochistan, thousands of teachers across the country remain absent from their duty over the past several years, but they are regularly drawing their salary.
Most of the teachers are either affiliated with the political parties or gratify the high-ups to escape punishment. The political influence mostly leads to the failure of the crackdowns launched in the past.
Apart from the absent teachers, a large number of schools are still reportedly working in papers only. Their funds are being misused either by the senior officials of the education departments or by the politically influential activists with the collaboration of the incumbent rulers. Social ill of absent school teachers stems from the allocation of job quotas for the sitting parliamentarians at the federal and provincial levels that ultimately results in appointment of the political workers in the government jobs, rendering the provincial education departments the worst victims.
The most unpleasant irony is that the most teachers, who managed to get jobs either using the political affiliation or through offering graft to the officials concerned, even do not qualify for the posts.
A majority of them did not have professional capability to teach or have extremely poor understanding of their subjects.
Thus imparting education in the government schools is non-existence therefore the country has seen a mushroom growth of educational institutions in the private sector that are extremely expensive thus a majority of the poor students cannot afford to attain education there.
The poor standard of education in the government schools is playing havoc with the fate of the talented but the poor youth who are left out of the race to meet merit to get admissions in the higher education.
They cannot join professional education at the higher level. At the end of day they are left to vie for inferior jobs meaning thereby that the government schools have become clerk-producing machineries.
And the merit-based jobs are being filled with the affluent class that manages to get education from the private institutions, attaining high percentage of marks in their examinations.
The emergence of the Punjab Group of Colleges and institutions like LUMs are classic examples to this effect. The education system in the country is inducing discrimination between the rich and the poor.
Across the world, the education systems are uniform for all the segments of the society offering equal opportunities to the rich and the poor alike to exile in future. Unfortunately this is not applicable in Pakistan just because of the wrong policies of the successive governments.
The poor state of affairs in the government schools and colleges will continue to haunt the poor till the government revisits its education policy that puts a strict surveillance over the government schools.
We once again advise the government to do away with the policy of allotting job quotas, leaving the space open for merit-based recruitments.
The political interference in the education institutions should also be eliminated, enforcing a strict discipline amongst officials of the education departments across Pakistan to revitalize the sagging education system in the country.

Pakistan: Three shops damage partially in Peshawar blast

Three shops got partially damaged due to a blast at Nasir Khan Bazar in Peshawar on Monday, Local TV reported.
According to details, blast took place when an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) placed by some unidentified terrorists exploded at 6.30 am in the morning.
No human loss has been recorded due to the blast but partial destruction of nearby shops has been observed.
Police and rescue teams reached the spot at once and started rescue process whereas bomb disposal unit has claimed that 500 explosive material has been used in carrying out blast.
Moreover, police have started investigation.

Putin Woos Pakistan as Cold War Friend India Buys U.S. Arms


 Russian President Vladimir Putin is seeking to build military ties withPakistan as India buys more weapons from the U.S., changing an approach toward the nuclear-powered neighbors that has endured since the Cold War.
Sergei Shoigu, making the first visit by a Russian defense minister to Pakistan since the Soviet Union’s collapse, last week signed a “milestone” military cooperation agreement. The world community “wants to do business with Pakistan now,” Shoigu said, according to a Pakistan government statement.
The move comes as Putin seeks to expand relations with Asia in the face of growing isolation from the U.S. and its allies over his support for separatist rebels in Ukraine. The U.S. overtook Russia as India’s biggest weapons supplier in recent years, prompting leaders in Moscow to reassess their strategy toward South Asia.
“We’re seeing a new Russia,” C. Uday Bhaskar, director of the Delhi-based Society for Policy Studies. “With India now widening its search for defense supplies to the U.S. and Israel, Russia too wants to expand the market for its equipment. Both Russia and India are reviewing their policies.”
Putin plans to visit India next month to meet with Modi as Russia seeks to counter sanctions from the U.S. and others. Russia this month announced plans to build a second gas pipeline to China, an ally of Pakistan, in a move that would cement Putin’s policy of tilting energy exports toward Asia.

Ruble Tumbles

“China and Russia are also allying themselves, so it’s also one factor why Russia is looking toward Pakistan more cooperatively,” retired Lieutenant General Talat Masood, a former chairman of Pakistan Ordnance Factories, said by phone from Islamabad. “It’s important to be an ally of an ally.”
Russia’s gross domestic product will contract by 1.7 percent next year after stalling in 2014, with inflation rising to 8.4 percent from 7.6 percent, IHS Inc. forecasts. The ruble has fallen about 28 percent against the U.S. dollar this year, the worst performance among 24 emerging market currencies tracked by Bloomberg.
Russia and the Soviet Union have been India’s biggest weapons suppliers, accounting for about 70 percent of its arms imports since 1950, according to data compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Pakistan, by contrast, has received only 2 percent of its weapons from Russia and the Soviet Union in that time, with the majority provided by the U.S. and China, the data show.

‘Critical Juncture’

Russia and Pakistan plan to increase port calls of warships, cooperate in fighting terrorism and help stabilize Afghanistan, Russian state news service Tass reported. Shoigu also met Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who said steps were needed to boost the $542 million of bilateral trade between the two nations, according to the state-run Pakistan Broadcasting Corp.
“Shoigu’s visit has come at a very critical juncture when U.S.-led NATO forces are drawing down from Afghanistan by the end of 2014,” Pakistan’s government said in a statement. “Apart from promoting bilateral defense relations, the visit will enable both countries to join hands in bringing peace and stability in the region.”
It’s important for countries to balance ties between India and Pakistan, which have fought three wars since they were split after British rule ended in 1947. U.S. President Barack Obama called Pakistani leader Sharif last week, shortly after accepting an invitation from Modi to attend India’s Republic Day parade on Jan. 26.

U.S. Weapons

The U.S. surpassed Russia as India’s top supplier of defense equipment in the three years to March, according to figures submitted to parliament in August. They were followed by France and Israel.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking to modernize India’s armed forces and shift toward more domestic production to reduce reliance on imports.
Two days ago, India approved a 158 billion-rupee ($2.5 billion) purchase of artillery, the first acquisition of large-caliber guns since the 1980s. If a foreign manufacturer wins the tender, the first 100 pieces will be imported and the remaining 714 will be made in India through technology transfer.
Alexander Kadakin, Russia’s ambassador in New Delhi, told the Press Trust of India last month that “there is zero technology coming from the U.S. to India,” whereas Russia is building a nuclear power plant and fighter jets with India.
He has also questioned India’s fairness in awarding defense contracts, telling the Hindustan Times last year “we know what gimmicks are used to manipulate deals.” He said that Russia has always stood by India and losing its position as the country’s top weapons supplier “causes damage to our reputation.”
Kadakin earlier this year dismissed concerns that Russia was changing its policy toward India in discussing the sale of Mi-35 defense helicopters to Pakistan. “Nothing will be done that will be detrimental to the deep relationship with India,” Press Trust of India quoted Kadakin as saying.


In what appeared a veiled support to takfiri terrorists of DAESH (ISIL or ISIS) in Pakistan, federal interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Saturday argued that since DAISH was an Arab-based outfit, they are not in Pakistan till now.
Talking to reporters in Taxila, Chaudhry Nisar once again rejected reports of ISIS/ISIL in Pakistan.
“There is no presence of ISIS militants in Pakistan “I will repeat what I said, again, ISIS is an Arab-based organisation, whose presence up till now is not in Pakistan,” he claimed.
However, he admitted there were already several other (takfiri) militant groups present in the county, and if ISIS was not, there was no need to add to the country’s already negative reputation in terms of militancy.
Exerts on terrorism have expressed surprise on the hypothetical stance of the interior minister. They asked Chaudhry Nisar to clarify his position on al-Qaeda and its affiliated takfiri terrorist groups who are also Arabs, Uzbeks and of other origins, operating inside Pakistan for a long time.
They said that even pro-Taliban religio-political parties admitted presence of Arabs who had arrived during so-called Afghan jihad era and then married and settled here. Many of them were killed and their bodies were also found here. Many of them were arrested and handed over to the U.S. army. They asked the PMLN government to clarify her position because it is empty claim that DAISH or DAESH was not inside Pakistan. They said that negative image cannot be brightened by denial of an evil but tarnished image could be blossomed through counterterrorism operations and for that government needs to admit the existence of the terrorists of DAISH.


If there ever was a strong bond between Pakistani (takfiri) militants and the Jihadists in Iraq, it was Abu Musab al Zarqawi, confirmed a report of Peshawar-based correspondent of DAWN newspaper.
Born Ahmad Fadeel al Nazal al Khulayleh, the 40-year-old Jordanian had lived for nearly 10 years in Pakistan. He lived and moved around in Peshawar and some of the tribal agencies, spoke fluent Pushto and created roots as strong as marrying a woman from one of the local tribes.
When he moved to Iraq to establish Jamaat al Tauhid wal Jihad, which later became Al Qaeda in Iraq, it was but a matter of time before Pakistani militants would re-establish linkages with Jihadists in Iraq and later in Syria.
“The linkages are old,” a security official said. “Many of the veterans of Afghan war are now leading the fight in Iraq and Syria.” Fighters made a beeline — quietly. “Not in droves but in ones and twos,” the official said.
“Not just ours but others too, who have been here in this region for ages, left to fight in Iraq and Syria,” he said of the Pakistani and foreign fighters.
But Pakistani officials would not have bothered much as long as the (takfiri) militants were “leaving and not coming” had the emergence of the ISIL (DAESH or ISIS) and its `caliph’, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, not caught the imagination of Pakistani takfiri militants.
It was in early July that Pakistan’s security apparatus picked up indications of (takfiri) militants pledging allegiance to DAESH/IS/ISIL or ISIS. Last month, a printed booklet “Fatah” (Victory), was distributed in a refugee camp near Peshawar that pledged allegiance to the DAESH.
The group distributing the booklet introduced itself as IS, appealed to locals to support the establishment of a caliphate(, the idea of Baghdadi that was rejected by all religious authorities across the Muslim World).
Soon afterwards, a former Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan spokesman, Abu Omar Maqbool al Khurasani alias Shahidullah Shahid, declared his allegiance to Baghdadi, along with five other (takfiri) `commanders’. Shahidullah Shahid made it clear they were doing so in their individual capacity and not as representative of the former (takfiri) militant platform.
This was followed by the emergence of graffiti supporting DAISH — in short the IS — in Karachi and Multan as well as hoisting of its black flags in Bahawalpur.
Repercussions for Pakistan
Graffiti, booklet distribution and flag-hoisting notwithstanding, Pakistani militants’ response to IS has been somewhat muted.
Even Baghdadi has not had the time to reciprocate Pakistani militants’ overtures to open up an IS branch office in Pakistan.
“Baghdadi has more important things at hand right now to think of expanding the IS beyond Iraq and Syria,” another security official said.
In his mid-October Arabic video, Shahidullah Shahid spoke of his frequent attempts to reach out to the IS leader.
“The first (pledge of allegiance) came before the announcement of (takfiris’) caliphate at the hands of Abu Thayar al Urdani,” Shahid reminded Baghdadi.
“The second came on the 5th of this past Ramazan, which I sent through Abu Huda al Sudani,” he said.
“And the third came at the end of Ramazan, which I sent by telephone through Omar Abu al Khattab al Shami,” he added.
Pleading for acceptance of his baiah, (baiyat) or allegiance, the former spokesman of the banned TTP reminded Baghdadi, “this is the fourth (time). I hope for acceptance and answer.”
So far, none of the many Pakistani militant groups has openly come forward to pledge allegiance to IS.
Although three top militant `commanders’ — Maulvi Fazlullah, Hafiz Gul Bahadar, and Khan Said alias Sajna — have accepted the existence of the DAESH or IS, they are still loyal to Mullah Omar as their commander.
Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakis¬tan, Jamaat ul Ahrar, led by Abdul Wali alias Omar Khalid Khurasani in a recent communiqué appealed to DAISH and Al Qaeda’s Al Nusrah to bury the hatchet and join hands to take on their common foes.
He and his group had in the past been pledging allegiance to Mullah Omar and so far he has not given any indication of changing his mind. But any decision by Jamaat to switch sides may change militants’ dynamics in Pakistani terms.
Officials fear that if sectarian militant outfits join the effort to form a Pakistani version of the IS, this could have an adverse impact on the country. “This is a possibility that cannot be ruled out,” one government official said. “There can be a leap in sectarian violence.”
Shiite News Correspondent adds: Sectarian terrorists mean the Taliban and al-Qaeda’s Pakistani allies such as ASWJ, Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and they are part of takfiri terrorism in all over Pakistan but the pro-takfiris covered up their nexus with DAISH so far.

Pakistan: Dr Abdus Salam - Our maligned heroes

This week marked the death anniversary of Dr Abdus Salam, who now has the distinction of being Pakistan’s first Nobel laureate. Born in January 1926 in Jhang, Dr Salam rose to be one of the country’s foremost authorities on science and mover behind science education. It is unfortunate that as a country we generally disown this great man on the basis of his religious convictions.
Dr Salam served as science advisor to the government and later became the founding director of SUPARCO, our own space authority, which never really was able to take off because soon Dr Salam was replaced.
He also played a significant role in laying the foundation for Pakistan’s nuclear ambitions, which initially started with a nuclear power plant in Karachi (KANUPP) and later the country’s atomic programme.
I remember visiting his grave in Rabwah some years back. It is a sad testament to a great man. I wish one could write more about the contribution of this man to Pakistan. He never compromised on his principles and lived for Pakistan and died for Pakistan.
There is much that works against Dr Salam’s community. As a young journalist, sometimes I would come across stories where the accusation against someone was that he was an Ahmadi.
This was enough for them to be removed if they were holding any important office. When I was writing a story in my naivety where such an accusation was made by one of my sources, one of my seniors at the paper, Abbas Nasir, came and scolded me for it.
He was then chief political correspondent and he drummed some sense into me. I am grateful to him for setting me straight then. I hope more journalists could be set straight as well. There is much Abbas Nasir taught me as a journalist and I will always be grateful to him for that.
At this juncture, there is another hero of mine who is unfairly under attack. Asma Jahangir is one of the country’s bravest women, is being accused of a number of things. This is not new. What I find amusing is that people who accuse Asma Jahangir and her fellow “conspirator” Hina Jilani of working on a hidden agenda, when things turn bad for them, they end up seeking the help of these two women.
I have seen their most vocal critics sheepishly coming over and seeing them and seeking their help when the chips were down. These are the same people who threatened to have them killed if they continued what they are doing. How fortunes change and how things remain the same.
Human rights and rule of law have always been dirty words in Pakistan. Anyone who raises a voice for them is considered to be working on a foreign agenda. I cannot quite figure that out. I remember once there was a plan to build walls around katchi-abadis in Karachi which bordered the city’s main thoroughfare – Shahrae Faisal. The logic was that foreigners should not see such localities.
I think our national attitude is not to talk about such things. Many would rather lie than present the factual position in a bid to address the problem. It is therefore foolhardy to expect that we can solve problems because we are not ready to admit them in the first place.
Then there are other issues that remain ignored. I sometimes wonder what becomes of people who falsely accuse someone of blasphemy, as was done in the Rimsha Masih case. Also, why is it that the only solution for those accused but not found guilty is to flee the country if they can. It is a very idiotic question, I know, but why do we not put the onus on our government to provide them protection till their case is heard?
Possible that is where the foreign agenda accusation comes true. While one is grateful for the help of Western countries who give refuge to these unfortunate souls, I wonder whether this can be the long term solution.
For those who like to deny that Pakistan has a very poor human rights record, Mukhtara Mai will remain a thorn in their side. She continues to be vocal on the issue of sexual abuse and has braved threats and much more to show to the world what a brave woman can do given the opportunity.

Pakistan: Countering Pakhtun nationalism

Ironically, though the state is busy killing the monsters it produced through bullets, educational institutions are working as factories to produce more ideologues through books
Changes made by the Awami National Party (ANP) to the textbooks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been undone (or will be in the coming months). For the first time since the end of the Afghan war, a provincial government had tried to create a curriculum based on true history and local cultural values for the students and tried to minimise the state’s ideological propaganda in the name of education. However, since the changes were made by the alliance of Pakhtun secular-nationalist parties, the mosque-establishment alliance was not going to accept them.  
Pakhtun nationalists have always been considered by the state of Pakistan as a threat to its existence. From the National Awami Party (NAP) to the ANP, nationalist (secular) forces have been suppressed by the state through the use of brutal force and its ideological state apparatus. This hegemonic role of the state is responsible for the demise of the state as a pluralistic society. 
Hegemony on the part of the state or certain groups within a state has always been destructive for the progress of nations. Gramsci says hegemony is the process of making, maintaining and reproducing of an authoritative set of meanings, ideologies and practices. For him, the term hegemony implies a situation where a historical class of ruling class factions exercises social authority and leadership over the subordinate classes through a combination of force and, most importantly, consent. The consent is taken through the use of the ideological state apparatus, according to Althusser. He says that ideology exists in an apparatus and its associated practices. Althusser designates the family, education system, church and mass media as the ideological state apparatus. 
Pakhtun nationalists both in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan have been under the wrath of the state since the creation of Pakistan. The state tried to weaken nationalists both through brute force and its ideological state apparatus. The nationalists were treated and portrayed as enemies of Pakistan. Great nationalist leaders like Bacha Khan and Dr Khan were demonised. Bacha Khan had to spend his life within dark cells established by the neo-colonial establishment in Pakistan. His crime was educating tribal Pakhtun children to “free them from the influence of the illiterate mullah’s influence”, and striving for provincial autonomy. 
The use of force against nationalists has been a norm since the creation of Pakistan, e.g. the Bhabra massacre in Charsadda. Though we managed to get independence from the British, we remained colonised by our establishment through the imposition of a particular ideology through state media and textbooks. 
The ideological state apparatus came into play in the 1980s when the curriculum was changed and an alliance of the mosque, barracks and a few political parties was established. Schools, colleges and universities were turned into parts of the ideological state apparatus. Curriculums were changed not only to produce ideologues who could fight the Soviet troops in Afghanistan, but who could also counter the nationalist forces in Pakistan that were resisting Pakistan’s involvement in the Afghan war. Since then, nationalists in Pakistan suffered unprecedentedly. The state managed to maintain its hegemony and the progressive forces were weakened and destroyed one by one. But meanwhile, with the weakening of the nationalists and progressive forces, the state had destroyed the social fabric in the country and had turned the masses at large into extremists. 
After 9/11, the whole of Pakistani society suffered the consequences of the unholy alliance of mosques and our establishment. Religious ideologues created to counter the nationalist ideology through educational institutions and mass media have become a threat to the existence of the country. However, ironically, though the state is busy killing the monsters it produced through bullets, educational institutions are working as factories to produce more ideologues through books. The state media, a major section of the private media, educational institutions and mosques are still busy in creating these monsters, who in turn are ruining the very basis of the state itself. We need to realise that without breaking the state-mosque alliance and without changing the curriculums in schools and colleges, Pakistan cannot counter religious extremists. We need to teach facts to our upcoming generations. Through the use of the ideological state apparatus, the state has thrown us into dark tunnels, full of confusion. We do not know who our provincial and national heroes were. We have disowned our culture, traditions and our history. 
We need to tell our children about the Gandhara civilisation. They need to know who Bhutto was and why he was killed. They need to know why the Bhabhra massacre occurred. They need to know who G M Sayyed was. And they also need to know their local and national poets, including Ghani Khan and Faiz Ahmad Faiz. 
Without rectifying these mistakes it will be difficult for the state to get public support for the ongoing military operations in the Pakhtun belt. Pakhtuns will consider these operations a conspiracy. Unless and until the state tries to make changes in the curriculum and teaches peace and harmony to our children, we cannot kill the menace of terrorism. Our establishment also needs to involve Pakhtun nationalists in policymaking regarding Afghan matters. Pakhtun nationalist leader Wali Khan said in the late 1970s, “This fire you have lit in Afghanistan will one day cross the Attock bridge and burn Pakistan.” Had Zia listened to his advice, today we would have been living in a progressive, developed Pakistan. 

Pakistan: 42 acid attacks in Punjab; victims await justice

Noreen Jabbar removes the bandage to reveal a swollen, blackened hole that was once her eye.
“Look at what he has done to my face,” she says, her voice wavers and her good eye swells up with tears. She tries not to cry because it hurts too much.
Noreen was dropping her three daughters to school when her former husband Azeem who had divorced her in a fit of rage three months ago suddenly pounced on her from behind, covered the faces of the children, and, as Noreen turned to see, splashed steaming acid on the left side of her face.
“He had threatened me right after divorce, saying if he cannot have me then no one else will either,” she said.
“The acid has hurt my daughters too, their arms are burnt and the oldest is just seven years old.”
Noreen’s brother Shakeel says although police are trying to trace Azeem, he seems to have disappeared.
“Unfortunately, not even one political representative from our area of Gulshan-i-Ravi and Noreen’s area of Qila Gujjar Singh has come to visit us,” he says.
Like Noreen, several other women have been victims of acid attacks during this year. Statistics compiled by the Aurat Foundation in a report reveal that from January to September 2014, about 42 cases of acid attacks (excluding Noreen’s) have been recorded in Punjab only. These included 51 women and eight men as victims.
What is discouraging is that from 2012-13, a 13pc decrease had been recorded in acid attacks, but in 2014 only the first nine months show a rise.
Earlier this year, the Acid Survivors’ Foundation, another NGO, told the Punjab Commission on Status of Women and the parliamentary caucus for women that about 56pc of Pakistan’s acid attacks occur in Punjab. An official from the NGO said 65pc of acid and burn victims were women and girls, 15pc children and 80pc of the survivors earned less than Rs8,000 a month.
The report stated the prosecution rate was only 35pc, and in the rest of the cases there were problems in the investigation and trial stages and out-of-court settlement added to the problems of victims.
Meanwhile, according to Aurat Foundation, about 22 cases of the 42 this year occurred in rural areas of Punjab, while even urban areas recorded an alarming number of 17 cases. Surprisingly, Lahore, the most developed city in Punjab, recorded six out of these 17 incidents. This was followed by Faisalabad and Rahim Yar Khan with five cases each, Khanewal four, Rawalpindi three, Okara, Kasur, Vehari, Bahawalpur and Bhawalnagar two each, and Gujranwala, Gujrat, Narowal, Sialkot, Jhang, Sheikhupura, Multan, Sahiwal and Muzaffargarh one each.
Statistics show that a common trigger is domestic dispute. Out of the 42 cases of acid attacks, 12 stemmed from domestic disputes. Most victims were married women while a small number were divorced. In 13 out of these cases, the perpetrator was the husband. Other family members who were accused of throwing acid included former husband and in-laws. However, there were high incidences of rivals or neighbours throwing acid.
Besides domestic disputes, motives behind these cases include revenge, grievance of divorce, watta sattaor compensation marriage, monetary dispute, rejection of marriage proposal, suspicions of illicit relations, marriage of choice, quarrel with husband, property dispute and family feud. There was even a case where a mother was injured with acid because she gave birth to a girl. Such frequent acid throwing incidents point to the fact that acid is readily available in the market. Although police and lawmakers both say it is not legal to buy acid without a prescription and an identity card, there is still little implementation.
PML-N MPA Azma Bukhari says there is a huge gap in what the law states and its implementation.
“Seeing increase in acid attack cases, the women’s caucus will now have to be updated by various departments, including police, on what is being done so we can see why there is a failure to implement the law,” she says. “Unfortunately, lack of implementation has most serious repercussions where violence against women is concerned.”
She says the local administration is responsible for these acts, acid throwing in particular, as it is all about the sale and easy access of acid in the market.
Aurat Foundation Punjab Director Mumtaz Mughal also blames the district administration but says it is actually the responsibility of the excise department to monitor the sale of acid.
“An amendment has been introduced in the Poison Act terming all corrosive substances as poison and banning purchase and sale of acid without a prescription and registration of the ID cards,” she says. “The shopkeeper must keep a copy of the buyer’s ID card.”
But these are bookish rules for women like Noreen, who believes she will never be compensated by the government nor will she find any financial security for her three children.
“My only source of income was through stitching,” she says. “How am I to earn now?”