Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hunting for scapegoats, Obama bagged the wrong guy in Hagel

By Lawrence Korb
The timing of Chuck Hagel’s resignation as secretary of defense may have been a surprise, but the fact that he was on his way out has been rumored for weeks. The real issue is why he either stepped down or was forced to leave after such a comparatively short time in office.
Hagel’s departure may bring about some short-term political gains, but in the long run it will not be good for the administration, the Pentagon or the country.
There are two interrelated reasons for his exit. First, the Obama administration needed to have a high-ranking figure take the fall for the emergence of the militant group, Islamic State in Syria and the Levant (often called Islamic State), and the initial disjointed White House response to the threat.
Second, Hagel’s ability to influence administration policy was hampered from the start by his contentious confirmation hearing, which seemed to catch the White House by surprise. Then, as the White House took increasing control of the foreign policy decision-making process, Hagel’s influence diminished markedly.
Was Hagel fired because he was not qualified for the post? Administration sources have reportedly suggested that the Pentagon needed someone with a “different set of skills” to tackle the threat of Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria.
This, however, ignores Hagel’s on-the-ground combat experience as a soldier and a leader. He enlisted in the Army infantry during the Vietnam War, receiving two Purple Hearts and the Army Commendation Medal, among other decorations. To suggest that he doesn’t have the skills or experience to guide the Pentagon in the fight against Islamic State extremists strains credulity.
Beyond the fight on the ground, Hagel also understands the big picture of U.S. national security and foreign policy. As a two-term senator from Nebraska, Hagel showed astute foreign policy acumen, especially regarding the Middle East and Afghanistan. He was one of the first to recognize that Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki’s shortcomings jeopardized Iraq’s stability, and consistently argued that the Iraqis would have to take responsibility for their own future.
Hagel also brought considerable private- and public-sector management expertise to the Pentagon, as both the founder of a successful cell phone company and the deputy administrator of the Veterans Administration.
Was Hagel dismissed because he failed to grapple with the problems the Pentagon faced? Hardly. Unlike several of his predecessors, he adjusted the military budget to reflect the spending reductions mandated by sequestration; took forceful action to deal with the problems of sexual violence and suicides in the ranks, and began overhauling a dysfunctional nuclear-weapons complex.
In addition, Hagel capably managed the drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and set the rules of conduct for American troops as they take on a train, advise and assist role there next year.
Will appointing a new defense secretary have much impact? Not really. When he or she is confirmed sometime next year, the current muddle-through approach to Islamic State extremists, Iraq, Syria and the Kurds will still be continuing.
The Pentagon’s fiscal year 2016 budget will have already been drafted, and maybe sent to Congress. So that leaves little room for a new secretary’s imprint. The new Pentagon chief will have a chance to have an impact on the fiscal year 2017 defense budget. But without knowing who the president will be in 2017.
Even on the managerial front, the new secretary will not have the opportunity to bring in his or her own appointees to help run the Pentagon, leaving little hope for a continued push to reform the Defense Department’s approach to sexual assault or improve the acquisitions process.
Ultimately, finding a new secretary may be difficult. Like Hagel’s 23 predecessors, none of the people rumored to be potential replacements bring a similar combination of military, managerial and political experience to the job. Moreover, few qualified people would want to leave their jobs for a post that requires a sure-to-be difficult Senate confirmation hearing and offers a tenure of less than two years.
With the 2016 presidential election campaign in full swing shortly after a new defense secretary would take office, the window for wielding influence over the Pentagon and our national security policy is likely to be very brief.
Americans must hope that Obama considered all these factors before he asked for Hagel’s resignation.

Children Star in Islamic State Propaganda Video

The Islamic State has released a propaganda video featuring Kazakh-speaking children calling for the slaughter of infidels. This is the latest propaganda effort by the extremist group appearing to target Central Asians.
The 15-minute video, entitled "Race Towards Good" and subtitled in English and Arabic, shows children at a training camp in an undisclosed location, where fighters are "raising tomorrow's mujahedin," according to a subtitle.
"I will be the one who slaughters you, infidel," a Kazakh-speaking boy aged about 10, who gives his name as Abdullah and says he is from Kazakhstan, tells the camera. "I will be a mujahed [holy warrior], Allah willing."
The high-quality video — apparently released over the weekend — shows young boys loading assault rifles as they undergo weapon training, and also marching with guns and practicing martial arts. (EurasiaNet.org did not post a link to the video in order to abide by the provisions of Kazakhstan's anti-extremism legislation outlawing the propaganda of terrorism.)
It also features a girl aged around 4 in a camouflage headscarf cradling a weapon, and ends with an older girl aged around 10 telling the camera in Kazakh: "Right now, we're training in the camp. We're going to kill you, infidel. Allah willing, we'll slaughter you."
The other children sitting with her respond with a resounding cry of "Allah is great!"
The film also features men firing weapons and completing military-style assault courses, and speaking to the camera in Russian and Kazakh about their training.
"Meet some of our newest brothers from the land of Kazakhstan," says a subtitle. "They responded to the crusader aggression … and raced to prepare themselves and their children, knowing very well that their final return is to Allah."
The release of the video comes shortly after Kazakhstan's intelligence chief Nurtai Abykayev for the first time revealed official estimates for the number of militants from Kazakhstan who are waging jihad in the Middle East. There are some 300 fighting for the Islamic State and around half are women, Abykayev said Nov. 18, adding that they have created a "Kazakh jamaat," or cell.
Scholars believe that some authoritarian regimes in Central Asia exaggerate the threat of radical Islam to justify repression, although Kazakhstan has tended to downplay the threat, but there are believed to be militants from all over the region fighting in the Middle East. The latest video reveals that the Islamic State is actively seeking to recruit more.
Kazakhstan has responded by tightening up anti-terrorism legislation earlier this month, and by more vigorously blocking online material officials deem extremist. A Daily Mail story on the latest Islamic State propaganda video (which has not been widely covered in Kazakhstan's media) was accessible in the country on Nov. 23, but inaccessible the following day.

US should stay out of S.China Sea land reclamation issue: PLA general

"Stay out of it." That appears to be the message of a general of China's People's Liberation Army, following reports the US urged China to halt land reclamation activities in the South China Sea.
PLA Major General Luo Yuan told the Global Times that as China is constructing infrastructure on the reef, mainly to improve the living standards of the reef-stationed soldiers. "The US is obviously biased considering that the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam have already set up military facilities," he said.
China is building an island in the South China Sea that could host an airfield in the South China Sea, an area where China is having territorial disputes with neighboring states, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Pool, a US military spokesman, told AFP on Friday. "We urge China to stop its land reclamation program, and engage in diplomatic initiatives to encourage all sides to restrain themselves in these sorts of activities," Pool said.
In the past three months, China has used dredgers to construct an island about 3,000 yards (meters) long and 200-300 meters wide on the Yongshu Reef, which was previously under water, according to a report by IHS Jane's Defence.
The Philippines has Zhongye Island, Malaysia has Danwan Reef, and Vietnam has Nanzi Island, the magazine said. Yang Yujun, a spokesman with China's Ministry of National Defense, said last month that "China has indisputable sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and their adjacent waters."
"The construction and maintenance of facilities, and other activities we conducted on these islands are within our sovereign rights and they are legitimate," he added.
"China is likely to withstand the international pressure and continue the construction, since it is completely legitimate and justifiable," Luo said.
Liu Feng, a maritime expert with China's National Institute for South China Sea Studies, said that the magazine report has exaggerated the scale of Yongshu Reef, which is much smaller than those of other countries.

Hong Kong Occupy protests nearing end

By Catherine Wong Tsoi-lai
The Occupy protests in Hong Kong are approaching an end, experts and legislators say, after local authorities successfully cleared a key protest camp in the bustling district of Mong Kok and arrested 80 protesters on Tuesday following a court order to reopen a road.
Traffic on Mong Kok's Argyle Street resumed in the late afternoon after court-appointed bailiffs cleared away barricades and tents erected by demonstrators, who remained largely calm, only resisting the clearance at several points.
Most protesters left the Argyle Street site after its clearance, but some retreated toward nearby Portland Street, snarling traffic and causing shopkeepers on the street to shutter their stores, according to reports from Radio Television Hong Kong.
Some 3,000 police officers were deployed to assist the bailiffs in the operation, a much higher number than were used to assist in the clearance of a protest site in Admiralty district on November 18.
Riot police moved into the area in the evening and used tear spray to disperse demonstrators blocking Portland Street.
Police said a total of 80 people were arrested during the clearance of the Mong Kok site, with some arrested after scuffles broke out when protesters refused to obey requests they leave the protest site. Others were arrested later for blocking Portland Street.
The operation in Mong Kok comes a week after the partial clearance of another protest site next to the local government headquarters in Admiralty, bringing an end to the months-long protest movement into sight.
Some 3,000 police officers also stood guard at the former protest site in Admiralty on Tuesday.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying expressed on Tuesday his hope that business could resume for shops in the area. He also reiterated that the protest was an unlawful assembly, and called for the demonstrators to respect and obey the law.
"The common call of Hong Kong people has finally been answered. Now [the protest] is coming to an end which is necessary and inevitable. The public has suffered enough," Leticia Lee See-yin , a co-founder of the anti-Occupy Blue Ribbon Movement, told the Global Times.
"Many of our members are living in Mong Kok or operating their businesses in the area. They are all angry at the protest for affecting their business. Two shop owners even shut down their stores because they can no longer afford losses caused by the protest," said Lee.
Dubbed a "high-risk area" by local police and government officials, the working-class district of Mong Kok has reportedly been home to a larger group of radical protesters and has seen some of the most violent clashes during the nearly two months of the ongoing Occupy protests demanding "genuine" democratic elections for the city's next leader in 2017.
Legislators believe the successful clearance of the Mong Kok site has proven that the protests are diminishing as they approach an end.
"The authorities encountered much less resistance compared to a month ago when protesters reacted violently when police tried to remove barricades in the same area in Mong Kok. Now the public has expressed a stronger desire than ever for the protest to end. It is time for the main organizers to announce their departure from the campaign," Tang Ka-piu, a lawmaker with the Federation of Trade Unions, told the Global Times.
The three co-founders of the movement, Benny Tai Yiu-ting, Chu Yiu-ming and Chan Kin-man said earlier that they would turn themselves in to police next Friday. Representatives of the two other major organizers of the protests, Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholarism, have not announced their plans for further action.
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's number two official, said on Tuesday that the government is currently preparing for a second round of consultation for the 2017 election, but expressed concerns over whether the protests would stall progress.

U.S. - A Problem Beyond Mr. Hagel

Chuck Hagel, who was pressured to resign on Monday, was not a strong defense secretary and, after less than two years, appeared to have lost President Obama’s confidence.
But he was not the core of the Obama administration’s military problem. That lies with the president and a national security policy that has too often been incoherent and shifting at a time of mounting international challenges, especially in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.
A respected and decorated Vietnam veteran, Mr. Hagel is one of a fading breed of moderate Republicans whose independence and past willingness to challenge the Republican stance on Iraq, sanctions on Iran and other issues was admirable. There was reason to hope that he would play a vigorous role in providing unvarnished advice to Mr. Obama.
But Mr. Hagel never recovered from his bruising Senate confirmation hearing in February 2013, in which he proved incapable of defending his views against vehement opponents. Once confirmed, he continued to have difficulty communicating the Obama administration’s views and was often eclipsed in explaining American military strategy by Secretary of State John Kerry and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
A substantial part of the problem with Mr. Hagel’s performance is that the mission changed after his appointment. He was selected to oversee a shift to a peacetime military and reduced defense spending. To his credit, Mr. Hagel was committed to carrying out Mr. Obama’s policy of greater American military, diplomatic and economic engagement in Asia and spent considerable time focused on that priority.
But the United States is now back at war in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, and Mr. Obama apparently decided that he could no longer depend on Mr. Hagel to lead these fights, which had provoked sharp debates within the administration. One factor may have been a memo Mr. Hagel sent to the White House in which he criticized the administration’s Syria policy for failing to connect the campaign against the Islamic State to a broader struggle against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.
Apart from these differences, Mr. Hagel was not well served by the fact that national security policy is tightly controlled by the White House, with Mr. Obama relying on a small group of aides, including Susan Rice, the national security adviser, for counsel. That process has often resulted in delayed and contradictory signals about Mr. Obama’s foreign policy agenda and the military strategies needed to carry it out. And, of course, all of this has come in for withering criticism from Republicans and many Democrats as well.
Such confusion made Mr. Hagel’s job doubly hard, and it will pose a challenge to his successor. Though Mr. Obama has said he was committed to ending American involvement in wars, his approach in Iraq and Syria has been muddled. When he launched airstrikes against the Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS and ISIL, he said the airstrikes would have to be backed up by local ground troops, not American ground forces, though he has increased the American trainers in Iraq to 3,000. In Syria, there is no apparent prospect of quickly training a sufficient number of rebels to support American strikes there.
Although the administration has insisted its target in Syria is ISIS, Turkish officials have suggested that the United States is reconsidering whether to go after Mr. Assad, which could significantly widen the conflict. In the meantime, by claiming he has full authority to carry out military action against ISIS, Mr. Obama has given Congress an excuse not to fulfill its constitutional responsibility to declare war.
Mr. Obama has also been backtracking on Afghanistan. Despite repeated assurances that the American combat role would end by the end of this year, Mr. Obama is authorizing a broader role for 9,800 American troops who will remain in that country after December, including allowing them to be involved in direct combat against the Taliban.
A more aggressive defense secretary who has Mr. Obama’s full confidence and ear may be able to better deal with chaos and war on these fronts. But, ultimately, it is Mr. Obama who will have to set the course with a more coherent strategy.

Obama aims to rally support for immigration plan in Chicago

By Rick Pearson
President Barack Obama returns home to Chicago Tuesday afternoon seeking to boost support for his unilateral action to allow millions of immigrants in the country without legal permission to live and work in the United States and not fear deportation.
His visit to speak with immigration activists at the Copernicus Center could compound the pre-Thanksgiving holiday traffic rush if he motorcades along the Kennedy Expressway for the roughly 8-mile trip to and from O'Hare International Airport where Air Force One will land.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is scheduled to join Obama at the Northwest Side event. The home-state president's speech is his second outside the nation's capitol since announcing Thursday his executive action on immigration and challenging House Republicans to approve more comprehensive changes to the nation's immigration laws — including a Senate-passed measure — if they disagree with his decision to act on his own.
But Republican House Speaker John Boehner has accused Obama of choosing to "deliberately sabotage" efforts toward enacting a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill as well as "damaging the presidency itself" through the Democratic president's use of his executive authority.
Under Obama's actions, about 4.1 million people could be eligible for a program that will invite parents of either U.S. citizens or long-term permanent residents to apply for a work permit and gain three years of protection from deportation. Applicants will have to prove they have been in the country at least five years. The president is also making 300,000 more people eligible to avoid deportation under a program affecting those who arrived in the U.S. as children before June 2007. Another 600,000 would be eligible for legal status, in part, by expanding and adding visas for entrepreneurs and recent graduates in science and technology.
By holding an event at the Copernicus Center, with its history rooted in the city's Polish culture, Obama may be attempting to try to broaden support for his actions beyond the attention drawn to the immigration issue by the Latino community.

Video - Bloody protest in NYC after Ferguson decision

Video Report - Coast to Coast: Ferguson fury across US as cop acquitted of teen killing

Video Report - Ferguson - Understanding the grand jury ruling on Michael Brown’s death

Video Report - #Michael #Brown: #Ferguson & New York react on verdict

Video - President Obama urges calm in Ferguson

U.S. - Ferguson Remains on Edge After Violent Night

The Midwestern U.S. town of Ferguson, Missouri, and surrounding areas are bracing for more protests after a grand jury decided not to indict a white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in August.
The decision, announced late Monday, sparked a night of violence that saw protesters loot businesses and set fire to cars and at least a dozen buildings.
The violence erupted despite appeals for calm from U.S. President Barack Obama and the family of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was fatally shot by officer Darren Wilson on August 9. The family was expected to make a public statement at 11 a.m. local time Tuesday.
Protesters planned to demonstrate on Tuesday outside the courthouse in nearby Clayton, where the grand jury began meeting within weeks of Brown's fatal shooting August 9.
In nearby St. Louis, the police chief promised to beef up security following 21 arrests for vandalism, including broken storefront windows, on Monday evening.
"A large presence, very early on, will be a deterrent," Chief Sam Dotson said, according to Reuters news service. For Tuesday evening, "we'll have resources deployed."
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights joined the calls for restraint Tuesday, urging protesters "to avoid violence and destruction" in the wake of the grand jury decision. In a statement, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said, "People have the right to express their dismay and their disagreement with the grand jury's verdict, but not to cause harm to others, or to their property, in the process."
Worst violence in months
Although no serious injuries were reported, Monday night's unrest was the worst in suburban Ferguson in months.
At least 61 people were arrested there, largely for burlary and trespassing, according to The Associated Press. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said at least a dozen buildings were set on fire, most of them destroyed. He said there were no reports of injuries.
"Those are businesses that may never come back. So, frankly, I'm heartbroken about that," Belmar said.
"Now the good news is we have not fired a shot," he said. "As far as I know, we don't have any serious injuries to police officers. They got banged up a little bit with rocks. One lieutenant from the patrol got hit in the head with a glass bottle, but ... as far as I know, we haven't caused any serious injuries tonight."
Early Monday night, police used smoke and tear gas to disperse the protesters, some of whom set police cars on fire and threw objects at police. Sporadic gunfire could be heard in the neighborhood.
Firefighters on Tuesday morning continued monitoring the scene in Ferguson, dousing the charred remains of some businesses, The Associated Press reported. Though broken glass still littered the sidewalk in front of looted stores, downtown streets were calm.
Schools in Ferguson and surrounding cities cancelled Tuesday classes.
Protests spread to other cities
Demonstrations were also held in cities across America. At Times Square in New York City, protesters held signs decrying "police tyranny" and chanted the "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" slogan that has become popular at rallies against police violence.
In Chicago and Oakland, California, protesters flooded freeways, blocking cars with their hands held in the air. In Washington, D.C., a small crowd of protesters also gathered outside the White House.
Brown's shooting death inflamed tensions in the predominantly black St. Louis suburb, which is patrolled by an overwhelmingly white police force.
The shooting sparked weeks of sometimes violent protests and looting. Adding to the tension was the often heavy-handed response by police, who used armored vehicles and tear gas.
Brown's family members, who have called for restraint, issued a statement saying they were "profoundly disappointed" at the ruling.
Lawyers for Wilson said in a statement that the grand jury's decision shows the officer "followed his training and followed the law" during the confrontation with Brown.
Appeal for calm
In a statement from the White House, President Barack Obama acknowledged some are "deeply disappointed" at the ruling, but called on protesters to be peaceful.
Attorney General Eric Holder said federal investigations continue into the shooting and into whether the Ferguson Police Department is engaging in unconstitutional practices.
Calling Brown's death a "tragedy," Holder said it is "far more must be done to create enduring trust" between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
Accounts of August 9 shooting
Stories differed as to what happened in the August 9 shooting. Lawyers for Brown's family said he was trying to surrender when the officer shot him. Wilson's supporters said he shot Brown in self-defense.
St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch said the grand jury met for 25 days and heard 70 hours of testimony from 60 witnesses.
McCulloch praised the jurors for completing "this monumental responsibility," and he lauded the "unprecedented cooperation" between federal investigators and local authorities.
He said that much of the witness testimony contradicted evidence from the scene and that many witnesses later changed their stories, admitting they had not actually observed the confrontation.
The prosecutor also extended his sympathy to Brown's family over his death. McCulloch concluded his prepared remarks by saying he joined with the family, clergy and others "in urging everyone to continue the demonstrations, continue the discussion … but do so in a constructive way."
The father of the slain teenager appealed for calm last week. In a video posted online, the elder Michael Brown said hurting others or destroying property is "not the answer" to frustration over what is seen as racial injustice.

Protesters of Ferguson decision flood US streets

Thousands of people in U.S. cities from Los Angeles to New York protested peacefully while others blocked traffic or clashed with police as anger flared over a grand jury's decision not to indict a white police officer who killed a black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri.
Nationwide, demonstrators Monday night led marches, waved signs and shouted chants of "hands up, don't shoot," the refrain that has become a rallying cry in protests over police killings across the country.
The most disruptive demonstrations were in St. Louis and Oakland, California, where protesters flooded the lanes of freeways, milling about stopped cars with their hands in the air.
Groups ranging from a few dozen to a few hundred people also gathered in Chicago, Denver, Salt Lake City, Boston and Washington, D.C., where people held up signs and chanted "justice for Michael Brown" outside the White House.
"Mike Brown is an emblem (of a movement). This country is at its boiling point," said Ethan Jury, a protester in Philadelphia, where hundreds marched. "How many people need to die? How many black people need to die?"
Activists had been planning to protest even before the nighttime announcement that Officer Darren Wilson will not be charged in the shooting death of Michael Brown.
The racially charged case in Ferguson has inflamed tensions and reignited debates over police-community relations even in cities hundreds of miles from the predominantly black St. Louis suburb.
In Oakland, several hundred protesters holding signs that read "The People Say Guilty!" shut down a major highway and other streets and vandalized businesses and police cars.
Shanna Serrano, 24, of San Jose, said protesters took over Interstate 580 to "shut it down, gain that attention for Michael Brown."
More than 40 people were arrested for hurling bottles, breaking windows and setting small fires, Mayor Jean Quan said in a statement early Tuesday. No serious injuries were reported.
A police car was spray-painted and a bank window broken as protesters marched through downtown Oakland.
In Los Angeles, demonstrations remained mostly small and peaceful, but about 200 people marching toward downtown briefly shut down Interstate 110, City News Service reported.
After midnight, officers wearing riot gear fired hard foam projectiles into the ground to disperse about 50 protesters downtown, the Los Angeles Times reported.
A diverse crowd of several hundred protesters marched and chanted in St. Louis not far from the site of another police shooting, shutting down Interstate 44 for a time. A few cars got stuck amid the protesters, who appeared to be leaving the vehicles alone. They chanted "hands up, don't shoot" and "black lives matter."
"There's clearly a license for violence against minorities, specifically blacks," said Mike Arnold, 38, a teacher. "Hopefully this will be a turning point."
Demonstrators in Ferguson vandalized police cars and buildings, hugged barricades and taunted officers with expletives while police fired smoke canisters and tear gas. Gunshots were heard on the streets and fires raged.
In Seattle, marching demonstrators stopped periodically to sit or lie down in city intersections, blocking traffic, as dozens of police officers watched. After hours of marching peacefully, protesters also hurled canned food, bottles and rocks, police said. Five people were arrested.
In New York, the family of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man killed by a police chokehold earlier this year, joined the Rev. Al Sharpton at a speech in Harlem lamenting the grand jury's decision. Later, several hundred people who had gathered in Manhattan's Union Square marched peacefully to Times Square.
Police said that protesters briefly shut down the Triborough and Brooklyn bridges.
At Cleveland's Public Square, at least a dozen protesters' signs referenced police shootings that have shaken the community there, including Saturday's fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who had a fake gun at a Cleveland playground when officers confronted him.

Video - Noor Jahan - (Ghazal) - Mujhe Se Pehli Si Mohabat


Video Music - Mala Shamim Ara Song - Gham-e-Dil Ko In Aankhon Se - NAILA 1965

Music Video - Ahmed Rushdi - Aey Baharo Gawa Rehna -


Pakistan - Waheed Murad - Chocolate hero still lives in our heart!

Legendary Pakistani film actor, producer and script writer Waheed Murad 31st death anniversary was observed on Sunday.
The only child of well-off film distributor Nisar Murad, Waheed Murad was born on October 2, 1938 in Sialkot.
He got his early education from Karachi Grammar School, did graduation from SM Arts College, Karachi and Masters in English Literature from University of Karachi.
He is well-known for his charming expressions, attractive personality, tender voice and unusual talent for acting in films.
His style of acting made him popular amongst the young cinema viewers of South Asia.
Murad started his film career by joining his father’s established company Film Art in 1961 as producer of the film Insaan Badalta Hai.
He appeared in a supporting role in 1962′s in the film Aulad. Heera aur Pathar was his first movie as a leading actor and considered to be his major breakthrough.
He acted in a total of 124 films of which 38 were black and white and 86 were coloured.
He acted in 115 Urdu, 8 Punjabi and one Pashto film and received 32 prestigious film awards. He was awarded Nigar award for best actor in Heera aur Pathar in 1964, Armaan in1966, Andaleeb in1969, Mastana Mahi in1971and Legend Award for Life Time in 2002.
In November 2010, 27 years after his death, he was awarded the Sitara-e-Imtiaz for distinguished contributions in the fields of literature and arts. He died on November 23, 1983 in Karachi.

Afghanistan: Significant Rise in Violence Against Women Cases: MoWA

Over the past seven months, more than 2,000 cases of violence and sexual abuse against women and girls were registered at the Ministry of Women's Affairs (MoWA), officials said on Tuesday, marking the international day for the elimination of violence against women.
Deputy Minister for MoWA, Muzhgan Mustafawi, expressed deep concerns over the rapid rise in sexual abuse against women and children. She mentioned this year five children, below the ages of ten, suffered sexual abuse.
During the past seven months, 2,224 cases of violence against women and children were recorded with majority documented in Kabul, Herat, Sar-e-Pul, Balkh and Faryab province.
Mustafawi told reporters that the major parts of these cases have taken place in remote areas due to so-called social values and absurd customs.
According to the ministry's statistics, 5,406 cases were registered in 2013, while 4,505 cases were registered in 2012 illustrating a 16 percent increase in violence against women in over a year.
"We are really concerned about the situation because in the recent years these cases have increased tragically," Muzhgan said, adding that the children below 10 years of age have faced the most cases of sexual abuse.
"We want the national unity government to take solid steps in eliminating violence against women," said Rehana Azad, member of the Parliamentary commission on women's affairs. "Most of these efforts have been symbolic so far."
Since the fall of the Taliban regime in 200, the Afghan women have played a vital role in various social spheres with significant presence in the government and non-government institutions. But their rights seem to have not been guaranteed yet, as the women's rights advocates accuse the government of not doing enough to adopt the law on elimination of violence against women.

Afghanistan: President, CEO Still Divided on Formation of Cabinet

Spokesman to the chief executive of the National Unity Government on Tuesday dismissed reports about the seven ministers to be introduced to the House of Representatives, stating that the president and chief executive have not reached an agreement.
Mujiburrahman Rahimi, spokesman to Abdullah Abdullah, while clearing the air said that the reports were all baseless.
"Reports broadcasted by some news agencies and radio are not correct," Rahimi said. "Such an agreement has not been made. The introduction of names and ministries are all baseless reports."
Meanwhile, Afghan lawmakers, pointing to the law, urge the government to find a solution quickly as each day that passes laws are being violated.
"The promises that were made by President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah during the election campaigns have not been fulfilled," Balkh MP Ahmad Shah Ramazan said. "Today, there is a state of uncertainty in the ministries. Even if ministers issue an order his assistant does not sign off."
Sources close to the president and chief executive, on condition of anonymity, have said that the two sides maintain disagreements on several key ministries including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior, and the National Directorate of Security. And according to the sources, Abdullah has asked to keep the ministries of defense and foreign affairs, but the president has not accepted the demands.
Two months have passed since the formation of the National Unity Government and the president and chief executive have yet to reach a final agreement in the development of the new cabinet.

Pakistan Says Air Strikes Kill 20 Militants In Northwest

The Pakistani army says its fighter jets have killed 20 militants in a northwestern tribal region bordering Afghanistan.
The air strikes were carried out in the Doga Madakhel area of North Waziristan on November 25.
AFP news agency quoted intelligence officials as saying those killed were fighters of the Haqqani terrorist network and of Hafiz Gul Bahadur, the Pakistani Taliban commander in North Waziristan.
The Haqqani network, which is based in Pakistan’s tribal areas, is suspected of being behind the November 23 suicide blast at a volleyball match in Afghanistan’s eastern Paktika Province that left 57 people dead.
The Pakistani military says it has cleared 80 percent of North Waziristan of militants since it launched an offensive there in June, using air strikes, artillery, mortar fire, and ground troops.

Pakistan: Christian Woman on Death Row for Blaspheming Muhammad Launches Appeal

By Ludovica Iaccino
A Pakistani Christian woman who was sentenced to death for blasphemy has filed an appeal with the country's top court.
Asia Bibi, a mother of five, was arrested and put on death row in 2010, after she was found guilty of making derogatory comments about the Prophet Muhammad during an argument with a Muslim woman.
The incident occurred in 2009, when Bibi was asked to fetch water at her workplace. Some women objected because Bibi was a non-Muslim, and as such was not allowed to touch the water bowl, let alone drink from it - which she is also accused of doing.
A few days later the women went to a local cleric and put forward the blasphemy allegations."On behalf of Asia Bibi I have today filed an appeal in the supreme court," her lawyer Saiful Malook said.
"We expect an early hearing of the appeal and hope that the proceedings will be over in one year." The announcement came one month after the Pakistani government upheld the woman's death sentence.
'No one should be killed for drinking a glass of water'.
Bibi's husband wrote a letter to Pakistan's President Mamnoon Hussain asking for her wife's release.
"Since Asia was sentenced to death in November 2010 for drinking a glass of water from our village well, my family has lived in constant fear and under death threats," the letter read.
"Since the court confirmed the death sentence on 16 October, we do not understand why our country, our beloved Pakistan, is so against us. Our family has always lived here in peace, and we never had any disturbance.
"We are Christians but we respect Islam. Our neighbours are Muslims and we have always lived well with them in our little village. Today many of our Muslim friends cannot understand why the Pakistani justice system is making our family suffer so much.
"We are now trying our best to present the final case to the supreme court before 4 December. But we are convinced that Asia will only be saved from being hanged if the venerable President Mamnoon Hussain grants her a pardon. No one should be killed for drinking a glass of water."
Blasphemy in Pakistan
Pakistan's penal code states: "Whoever, with the deliberate intention of wounding the religious feelings of any person, utters any word or makes any sound in the hearing of that person or makes any gesture in the sight of that person or places any object in the sight of that person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both."
In 1982, a clause prescribed life imprisonment for "wilful" desecration of the Qu'ran.
Then in 1986, a separate clause was inserted to punish blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad and the penalty recommended was "death, or imprisonment for life".
A British man diagnosed with schizophrenia was sentenced to capital punishment for blasphemy in March 2014. He is currently on death row.
Two high-profile politicians - then-Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer and minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti - were murdered in 2011, after calling for reforms to the blasphemy law and describing Bibi's trial as flawed.
In October, a Christian couple were beaten and burned alive in a kiln by an angry mob following allegations of blasphemy.

Video Report - Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme a self destructive plan?

Pakistan: November 30: 'decisive battle'?

According to Imran Khan, come what may, his much-ballyhooed "decisive rally" will be held in Islamabad on November 30. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali finds no fault in PTI chief's plan so long it is peaceful. However, beyond these apparently concurring positions there are quite a few "ifs" and "buts", the most daunting being their difference on the venue of the rally. The PTI chief is determined to hold the rally on the Constitution Avenue/D-Chowk, which is part of the Red Zone, warning the government "if you create hurdles we will face them, and we are ready to go to jail". At his rally in Gujranwala two days ago he was more explicit: "On November 30, there will be a decisive battle between status quo and us. It will be decided on the day whether they (government) win or we form a Naya Pakistan". "If they (PTI) have plans for a political activity, they will be provided security. But if their purpose is to attack the government, the law will come into action," says Chaudhry Nisar. Unlike previously, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's patience seems to be wearing thin. He says it is the responsibility of the government to protect and preserve the law and constitution. Given its bitter experience, how the 'Azadi' and 'Inqilabi' marches violated the mutually agreed agenda as their marchers moved into the Red Zone in violation of the agreed venue and the timeline for their presence in the Capital, the government is now prepared to take a hard line. Nowhere else but at the D-Chowk would the PTI like to hold its November 30 show of force. The battle-lines have been drawn. Barring some kind of divine intervention or third-party 'advice', Islamabad is all set to be the venue of a possible Armageddon. While the self-assured hubris among minister that is inflated by their reading that 'dharna' politics has had its last hurrah, Imran's confidence is pumped by his massive rallies in Punjab and Sindh. Will he come heading a more spirited and better equipped march, we will know in case there is a battle royale. The government, however, is unwilling to take a chance. Some 15,000 police and paramilitary personnel would be deployed ahead of the rally. And should the need arise the government will call in the army in aid of civil power under Article 245 of the Constitution, which was there on the site till early this week when it was withdrawn at the completion of its three-month term, under a new ordinance.
The die is cast and the political narrative looks ominous. Even when the Nawaz government, thanks to the PPP and other 'like-minded' political stakeholders' consistent support exudes confidence, an eerie feeling of uncertainty permeates the national landscape. There is a huge unknown about the objective behind the PTI's plan to flex its muscles in the Capital on November 30. Tahirul Qadri has returned with a new agenda substituting his "Green Revolution" with electoral politics. He wants a two-thirds parliamentary majority to change the "corrupt and oppressive" government. Jamaat-i-Islami's Sirajul Haq has called upon the people to work for enforcement of an 'Islamic system,' for which he will give a 'line of action'. But, what has cocked up many an ear are the unannounced ambassadorial calls on the PTI chief. To both American Ambassador Richard Olson and Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong, Imran Khan is said to have shown evidence of rigging in last year's general elections that he will put on public display over this week. Of course, a government that comes to power through vote rigging remains suspect internationally. But no less worrying for the United States and China would be the lingering political instability in Pakistan, particularly at a time when the region is undergoing critical change. One would be profoundly naive to believe that the two offered any kind of mediation, but it is quite likely that they advised against things coming to a head. Even to the most intractable contentions, there is always an out of the box solution.
The PTI has been on the ground at the same very venue for over 100 days, but it has failed to achieve its objective: resignation of prime minister. Moreover, its protracted protest has failed to lead to an investigation into vote rigging allegations. As for the rallies the PTI has held many, all over the place, and some were mammoth in size. But there too, no fresh ground was broken in terms of Imran Khan getting his mission accomplished. The question is: how then the upcoming rally in Islamabad is going to be "decisive"? Maybe we would have the answer on D-day, when he would make an 'important announcement', and the style of his demonstration would also change. Imran Khan has a dream he doesn't seem to be waking up from. Will his 'tigers' occupy the government's high offices and parliament building? Not this time, according to Chaudhry Nisar Ali. And, finally, one would like to ask the interior minister how come the absconding Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri remain beyond the long arm of law?

Pakistan: In the name of religion

By Dr Farzana Bari
The most horrifying of incidents, of a mob lynching and incinerating the bodies of a Christian couple accused of committing blasphemy, deeply shocked and saddened the nation. This was followed by another heart-breaking incident of rape and killing of a six-year-old child from the Hazara community in Quetta. In another incident, a man accused of blasphemy in prison was shot at by a prison guard, who was apparently under the ideological influence of Mumtaz Qadri, the killer of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer. In addition, a suicide bomber blew himself up at the Wagah border, killing around 60 people and injuring many. Most of these crimes against humanity were committed by invoking religion as a pretext. Therefore, it is imperative that these incidents of brutality should not be seen and condemned as isolated incidents. Such violence and vigilantism is the result of the jihadist policy that the state has followed. A radicalised mindset has been systematically created and supported in order to pursue political interests within the country and in the region. Thus, the state is equally responsible for this mob mentality and the violation of human rights in Pakistan.
We are now trapped. The monstrosity that was funded for decades is now challenging the state’s writ. Increasing intolerance in society is posing a serious existential threat to minority communities.
All such communities across Pakistan are at risk, due to increasing militancy and extremism, however, the nature of their oppression varies from area to area. They live in constant fear. Their lives and properties are often threatened. Due to growing intolerance and the inability of the government to protect them, they are often forced to leave the country. The size of the non-Muslim population at the time of independence was little over 15 per cent, which has now been reduced to just three per cent.
Forced conversions, and kidnapping of Hindu girls and marrying them to Muslim men forcibly are common in Sindh. The Hindu community faces backlash from the Muslim majority in case of any incident of discrimination that takes place in India against Muslims. The demolition of the Babri Masjid led to the burning and destruction of Hindu temples in Pakistan. The patriotism of non-Muslims is often doubted. According to Dr Ramesh Kumar, a PML-N legislator, 5,000 Hindus are migrating from Pakistan on a daily basis.
Similarly, the Christian community often comes under attack through accusations of having committed blasphemy, which leads to mob violence, not only against the accused, but the entire Christian community. Shantinagar, Gojra and Joseph Colony incidents are examples of this. The Ahmadi community is also persecuted. Hate campaigns by extremists have been carried out through speeches and hate literature, including pamphlets, stickers, wall-chalkings. People are incited to kill Ahamdis and destroy their places of worship. They live in a constant state of fear and are not safe even in death as there have been cases of their graves being desecrated.
Such violence does not only targets non-Muslim Pakistanis. Sectarian outfits that operate under state patronage with complete impunity, like the Lashkar-e-Jahangvi, have been involved in the killings of Hazaras. Despite claiming responsibility of staging attacks on Hazaras, no action has been taken against them.
What makes Pakistan the most dangerous place for minorities is the inability and unwillingness of the state to punish the culprits. A culture of impunity exists for those engaged in mob violence, vigilantism, accusing and killing people for committing blasphemy even if they are found innocent after court proceedings. The pseudo-concern shown by the government through paying monetary compensation to the families of deceased is meaningless. It needs to take a holistic approach and institute substantive measure to stop this madness.
First of all, the state must treat all its citizens as equals, irrespective of their religious affiliation. The government should take the initiative by moving a bill in parliament to remove all constitutional provisions that discriminate against non-Muslim citizens of Pakistan. Secondly, it should encourage the Council of Islamic Ideology to work with parliament in ensuring that there is no scope left for misusing the blasphemy law. It should also ban and take stern action against all those sectarian organisations that are promoting hatred and inciting violence.
The government needs to strictly monitor sermons given in religious congregations in mosques and elsewhere, and should take firm action against those promoting violence through them. All madrassas should be under the control of the provincial education departments and ministries. Hate material against minorities should be removed from the curriculum and respect for all world religions should be promoted in our textbooks.
Currently, 1,100 cases of blasphemy are registered in the country, the majority of them against Muslims. All these cases should be decided within the next six months and those found innocent must be released. Speedy justice and severe punishment must be given to those who were involved in mob violence in Joseph Colony and in the Kot Radha Kishan incidents. This could help give a sense of security to minorities. The government must compensate the victims of mob violence and beef up security in areas where minorities reside in large numbers. If it wants to show the people in the country and abroad that it is serious in protecting the rights of minorities, it must take steps to eliminate violence perpetrated in the name of religion and institute measures to alter the radical mindset of our society.

Pakistan: Gas loadshedding - Fire and fuel

While tempers across Punjab light up over the lack of fuel, the government appears to be extremely uncertain about what its policy is regarding the supply of natural gas, which is in desperately short supply. A decision had been taken a week ago after a top level meeting to suspend supply of gas to the CNG sector and industry in order to ensure that the needs of domestic consumers were met. However, domestic consumers, who have staged protests in Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Multan, Lahore and Rawalpindi, say that while CNG stations are no longer being provided gas, the supply to the textile industry is in place, resulting in drastic shortages. The textile industry has stated it was close to collapse due to fuel cuts. The protesters have said that it is impossible to cook food or heat water because of the problem. Lahore is among the worst affected cities, falling in Zone A where gas is suspended at 6am to some parts of the city for up to six hours. Faisalabad and Multan are also experiencing up to six hours of daily gas loadshedding. While there is too little gas to meet needs, last Thursday the ECC approved a 23 percent increase in the gas tariff for industrial and commercial consumers. Just a day later the PM apparently turned down this proposal. This back and forth hardly wins any confidence of the people.
It should be kept in mind that the winter season has barely started. A worsening of the situation can be expected over the weeks to come. Low gas pressure is a perennial problem as problems arise in pipelines due to cold weather, adding to the issues caused by a lack of gas. This is something that is yet to come. The demand for gas will also increase as more water geysers and room heaters go on. For many years it has proved almost impossible in many parts of Punjab to use these appliances. The government must take these protests seriously. Such a grave shortage of fuel cannot be tolerated for a prolonged period of time by citizens who pay high gas bills each month. The price of the once cheap natural gas has increased over the years with subsidies being removed. The policy is obviously in need of review. While the government cannot starve the industrial sector of gas, it must also cater to the urgent needs of citizens who depend on the steady input of gas to light their stoves and warm their homes in the bitter cold winter of the north.

Pakistan: Drug Use In Pakistan

The Drug Use in Pakistan 2013 survey report has revealed that 6% of the country’s population used drugs one year. Out of the 6.7m people, 4.25m are dependent on drugs while only 30,000 users have access to treatment. Numbers related to use of drugs have been consistently on the rise which shows that the current approach towards drug abuse is not working.
Pakistan’s long porous border with Afghanistan continues to ensure an uninterrupted supply of drugs, that make their way to urban centers as well as rural areas. The Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) and other law enforcement agencies are unable to prevent smuggling due to both incapability and complicity. Some reports claim that the black market drug trade generates a $2bn annual but the number could actually be higher. It is far too common for regulatory bodies to become part of a lucrative business they are supposed to crack down on. Therefore, drug smuggling will not be curtailed until the relevant authorities are not made capable or clean.
Another problem exacerbating the situation is the society’s and by extension, the state’s misguided approach towards drug abuse. A drug addict is not viewed as a member of society in need of help, but cast out and condemned as a hopeless delinquent. In a way, the person is reduced to and defined through the product that they are consuming. Derogatory terms such as ‘charsi’ and ‘bhangi’ have become a part of routine language, which only goes on to show how we view drug addiction, and specifically, addicts. Passing judgments and causing insult may be tempting, but it helps no one.
The alarming callousness of successive governments in setting up rehabilitation centers guarantees that those stuck in the cycle remain there for good. Most organisations that offer treatment are non-governmental, and they are not reaching the majority of users. For many, they are either too far away or far too expensive. Some don’t offer effective or approved rehabilitation programmes, but focus on keeping the victim at the center for as long as possible, away from drugs as they charge heavily in exchange for unsatisfactory services. This works only for as long as the user stays at the facility. As soon as they are out, they are on their way to come back again. The government should not only do its part and set up cheap and where necessary, free rehabilitation centers but also scrutinize currently operating NGOs. By not effectively dealing with it, it is failing to fulfill its responsibility towards victims and leaving the rest of the country ever more vulnerable to the wide-ranging and disastrous effects of drugs.

Pakistan: Acid attacks on the rise

IF there ever was a situation that could aptly be described without a trace of irony as a fate worse than death, it would be the lives of victims of acid attacks, most of whom are women.
There are few other crimes that have the kind of far-reaching, devastating and often permanent consequences in a world where physical appearance is a vital aspect of an individual’s social capital. When Pakistan’s parliament enacted the Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act, 2011, it was hailed as an important step in the fight against this type of violence.
The legislation inserted new sections into the Pakistan Penal Code that, for the first time, defined acid attacks and stipulated imprisonment from 14 years to life and a minimum fine of Rs1m as punishment.
However, as a report in this paper yesterday indicates, that scarcely appears to have been a deterrent. In Punjab, which accounts for the majority of cases, acid attacks have actually registered an increase: there were 42 between January and September this year, compared to 35 throughout 2013.
Rights activists have persistently held that the 2011 amendment to the PPC was to have been buttressed by a comprehensive act to address various aspects of the issue — financial compensation for the victim, his/her rehabilitation, the sale of acid, etc.
Crucially, the proposed legislation recognises that victims are in need of urgent and long-term medical attention. Several drafts are in the final stages with various provincial authorities.
Among the suggestions in the draft under consideration in Punjab is that cases be processed within a specific time frame, the fine imposed upon perpetrators go towards compensation for victims and the government be made responsible for the latter’s rehabilitation.
It also stipulates the setting up of a monitoring and funding mechanism to enable effective implementation. To ensure that this most vicious of crimes does not go unpunished and that those at the receiving end are not left without redress, the comprehensive bill must be passed into law without delay.