Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Video - U.S.-Cuba announcement expected Wednesday

President Obama Expands Overtime Pay to 5 Million Americans


President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced a sweeping change to the country's overtime pay law by expanding the measure to almost 5 million workers as early as 2016.
Currently, employees who earn more than $23,660 per year ($455 per week) cannot claim overtime pay. Unless exempt, employees covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act must receive overtime pay for hours in a week that exceed 40.

But the long-awaited proposed rule will increase the threshold for guaranteed overtime for employees who make less than an estimated $50,440 next year, according to the White House. The salary threshold, only updated once since the 1970s, guarantees overtime for most salaried workers who fall below it, but it is destroyed by inflation every year.
Last March, Obama ordered the U.S. Department of Labor to streamline and simplify federal overtime rules, and draft a version of regulations that could expand the number of workers covered by overtime.
"If you go above and beyond to help your employer and your economy succeed, then you should share a little bit in that success," he said in a speechlast year.
The National Retail Federation opposes overtime expansion. The change "would drive up retailers’ payroll costs while limiting opportunities to move up into management. Most workers would be unlikely to see an increase in take-home pay, the use of part-time workers could increase, and retailers operating in rural states could see a disproportionate impact," according to a study outlined on the group's website.
For the formal announcement, Obama traveled to La Crosse, Wisconsin, a battleground state home to likely Republican presidential candidate Governor Scott Walker.

Video - President Obama and the President of Brazil Hold a Joint Press Conference

Video - First Lady Michelle Obama Speaks on Career and Technical Education (CTE)

Video - First Lady Michelle Obama Hosts the First-Ever White House Campout with Let's Move!

#Shame Shahbaz Lohar - Crumbling Daanish Schools

Within a year of its inauguration, the building of Daanish School in the Attock district has started crumbling, forcing management to close down sections. A report by the Chief Minister Inspection Team, which investigated the faults and causes at the Malala Yousafzai Daanish School, has raised serious concerns about the soil survey, building and structural design, material used in the buildings and non-supervision of the work, terming all these factors major causes of the start of collapse of the building that had cost the nation millions of rupees within a year. This school was inaugurated by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Feb 14, 2013, and the cracks in the building started appearing in February 2014.
One can question the management involved in these schools and the lack of checks and balances, but nobody is willing to take responsibility. The Daanish Schools have been criticised as being a ploy for greater nepotism and corruption in appropriating government funds, and this example just supports concerns voiced in the past. The blame has been put on a third party that was hired to construct the school. The three professionals, who were part of the investigation, have said that defects in the building are “a result of structural failure and non-vetting of design and structural designs by the third party”. However, the process of awarding contract did not follow the official guidelines, which led to no transparency regarding their work.
With the education budget of next year, once again taking a major hit, is it really sad to come to the conclusion that the making of these schools have might only have political motives behind them. Each Daanish School campus is estimated to cost around Rs 1 billion and needs an estimated Rs 21 million annual operating expenditure. Looking at the lack of sustainability of these projects, one can rightly point out that the provincial government could have used these funds to strengthen some good schools in all tehsils and create a positive ripple effect in the broader education sector which is facing a severe dearth of resources. Good teachers and better teach training would have gone a long way in helping fix the system. It seems more reasonable that they should have focused more on facilities to millions of children studying in existing public schools instead of going for an unjust distribution of available resources and spending billions of rupees on exorbitantly expensive schools.

Rising ISIS support in Pakistan's nuclear testing region sparks fears of 'dirty' bomb

FEARS are growing that depraved Islamic State (ISIS) militants could obtain a nuclear weapon from Pakistan.

The group is understood to be preparing a new push to seize territory in the province of Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran.
The area is widely-known to be the centre of Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme, with controversial underground testing of atomic explosive devices in the 1990s.
And Middle East terror experts are now warning that the extremist group could be close to obtaining a 'dirty' bomb.
Afzal Ashraf, a former senior officer in the RAF, said Pakistan was "the most likely place" for ISIS to obtain a nuclear explosive.
He argued that the organisation, which has declared a 'caliphate' in Iraq and Syria after gaining vast swathes of territory, was now enjoying "success in getting support" in a region at the heart of Pakistan's nuclear programme.
In 1998, Pakistan exploded five underground nuclear devices in mountains in the Balochistan region as part of an arms race with neighbouring India.
The country remains outside both the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
Its growing nuclear arsenal raises the risk that the deadly weapons or the ingredients used to construct them - enriched uranium or plutonium - could fall into the hands of ISIS.
The Balochistan region of Pakistan borders Iran and AfghanistanGOOGLE MAPS
The Balochistan region of Pakistan borders Iran and Afghanistan
Dr Ashraf, who worked as a counterterrorism strategist for the US army in Iraq, told the Express: "Balochistan is a province where the Pakistanis do their nuclear tests, and presumably have some of their nuclear facilities, and maybe even some of their nuclear weapons.
"It may be a coincidence but their expansion into that particular part of Pakistan is worrying."
It follows comments by the Australian foreign minister that ISIS has already obtained enough radioactive material to produce a dirty bomb.
Julie Bishop raised fears the savage group, which releases almost daily videos of public headings, could be working towards manufacturing a nuclear device.
ISIS is "prepared to use any and all means, any and all forms of violence they can think of, to advance their demented cause", she said.
Pakistan is known to have around 120 warheads, with a missile range of 2,750km (1,700miles), making it capable of striking targets in India, Russia and the Middle East.
In March, the country successfully tested new ballistic missiles capable of carrying a nuclear bomb.
Were a bomb to obtained by ISIS, it could have the potential to reach the eastern edge of Europe, including Turkey.
However, Dr Natasha Underhill, an expert on terrorism in the Middle East at Nottingham Trent University, said the risk of ISIS obtaining nuclear weapons from the central Asian remained "low" for the time being.
Nuclear weapons require careful storage and Dr Underhill said the group would not be able to adequately house a bomb, nor know how to use it.
She told Express.co.uk: "Terrorism is about fear and the promotion of fear and for now the use of suicide bombers, beheadings and graphic public displays of brutality suit how the organisation wants to portray itself - as a leader of the new caliphate and one that has strict adherence to Islamic law."

Pakistan - Asia Bibi - “Please Don’t Abandon Me”

Note: Asia Bibi, a Christian Pakistani woman, was sentenced to death for blasphemy against Islam in 2010. The year before, while picking fruit with Muslim women, she took a sip of water from the local well. She was immediately accused of making the water impure by ​the other workers, ​who told her that they could no longer use the well. A​ccording to her husband, Ashiq Masih, and others, men and women started beating her and accusing her of making derogatory remarks against the Islamic prophet Muhammad, a charge she denies. Asia is currently in prison waiting to be hanged after losing an appeal ​on ​Oct. 16. She has told her story in a memoir, Blasphemy: A Memoir: Sentenced to Death over a Cup of Water, written with French journalist Anne-Isabelle Tollet.
Below is an open letter by Ashiq addressed to the world community. (Madam Mayor refers to Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who has offered her support to Asia.)
Yesterday, I returned from the prison in Multan where my wife, Asia Bibi, was transferred eight months ago. 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. I live in hiding with my five children as near as possible to Asia. She needs us very much to help keep her alive, to bring her medicine and good food when she is sick.
After my wife had spent four long years in prison in terrible conditions, we were hoping that the High Court of Lahore would free my wife. She did not commit blasphemy, never. Since the court confirmed the death sentence on the 16th of 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 neighbors are Muslims and we have always lived well with them in our little village. But for some years now the situation in Pakistan has changed because of just a few people, and we are afraid. 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 the 4th of December. But we are convinced that Asia will only be saved from being hanged if the venerable President Mammon Hussain grants her a pardon. No one should be killed for drinking a glass of water.
My five children and I have only survived thanks to the protection of a few faithful friends who risk their lives daily to help us. We are the husband and family of Asia Bibi and many people want us to die. Thanks to our friend Anne-Isabelle Tollet, who has become our sister and helped us for four years now, we speak often about what is happening in Paris and the world to help save Asia. Hearing that people are supporting Asia from so far away is so important for us. It helps us to hold on. Every time I visit Asia in prison I tell her the news. Sometimes it gives her the courage to keep going.
Just before taking the ten-hour journey to visit Asia, I learned the wonderful news that Paris is offering to welcome Asia and our family to Paris if she is freed. This is a huge honor and we are very humbled. I would like to offer my sincere thanks to you, Madam Mayor of Paris, and to say that we are immensely grateful for your concern. I hope that one day we will visit you alive, and not dead.
When I visited Asia Bibi yesterday she asked me to give you this message:
“My prison cell has no windows and day and night are the same to me, but if I am still holding on today it is thanks to everyone who is trying to help me. When my husbnd showed me the photographs of people I have never met drinking a glass of water for me, my heart overflowed. Ashiq told me that the city of Paris is offering to welcome our family. I send my deepest thanks to you Madam Mayor, and to all the kind people of Paris and across the world. You are my only hope of staying alive in this dungeon, so please don’t abandon me. I did not commit blasphemy.”
Ashiq Masih Pakistan, 17th of November 2014

Christian woman sentenced to death for 'drinking from Muslim water cup' in Pakistan may not live to face execution

A Christian woman on death row in Pakistan for drinking from the same cup as Muslims is suffering from intestinal bleeding and is so weak she cannot walk.

There are fears Asia Bibi, now 50, may not even live to face execution after languishing in jail for five years after receiving her death sentence.
Bibi, a mother-of-five, has been on death row since November 2010 after she was convicted of insulting Mohammed during a row with Muslim co-workers over a bowl of water.
Following a visit from her family last week, it was discovered Bibi was vomiting blood, had difficulty eating and was suffering from constant chest pains, The Global Dispatch reported. 
Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in majority Muslim Pakistan country, with even unproven allegations often prompting mob violence.
Although her legal team filed an appeal in the hopes of having the sentence reduced to a jail term, late last year a high court in Lahore confirmed the sentence.
It came despite Bibi making an impassioned plea to supporters in an open letter.
'You are my only hope of staying alive in this dungeon, so please don’t abandon me,' she said. 'I did not commit blasphemy.'
The allegations against Bibi date back to June 2009, when she was labouring in a field and a row broke out with some Muslim women she was working with.
She was asked to fetch water, but the Muslim women objected, saying that as a non-Muslim she was unfit to touch the water bowl.
A few days later the women went to a local cleric and put forward the blasphemy allegations. 
Her lawyers have alleged evidence was manipulated, and say there was a long delay between the time of the incident and its investigation by police.

Defence lawyer Saiful Malook said the blasphemy allegation was concocted by Bibi's enemies to target her and had no basis in fact.
It came in addition to a personal plea from Bibi's husband Ashiq Masih to Pakistan's President Mamnoon Hussain, asking for her to be pardoned and allowed to move to France.
'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,' he wrote in the New York Times.
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo has said the couple are welcomed in the city, and Masih quoted his wife as saying she sent her 'deepest thanks to you Madame Mayor, and to all the kind people of Paris and across the world'. 

Bibi's message from jail read: 'My prison cell has no windows and day and night are the same to me, but if I am still holding on today it is thanks to everyone who is trying to help me. When my husband showed me the photographs of people I have never met drinking a glass of water for me, my heart overflowed.
'Ashiq told me that the city of Paris is offering to welcome our family. I send my deepest thanks to you Madam Mayor, and to all the kind people of Paris and across the world.
'You are my only hope of staying alive in this dungeon, so please don’t abandon me. I did not commit blasphemy.'
Mr Masih, 50, lives in hiding with two of his five children and has to keep his identity secret as he scrapes together a living as a daily labourer.
He visits his wife once a month, making a five-and-a-half hour journey to her jail in Multan in southern Punjab.
Amnesty International has raised 'serious concerns' about the fairness of her trial and has called for her release.
Anyone convicted, or even just accused, of insulting Islam in Pakistan, risks a violent and bloody death at the hands of vigilantes.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3144300/Christian-woman-sentenced-death-drinking-Muslim-water-cup-Pakistan-not-live-face-execution-five-years-imprisonment-left-intestinal-bleeding.html#ixzz3ebKg61Yz
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Pashto Music - Sardar Ali Takkar - جانانه راشه - Folk Revival

Monday, June 29, 2015

Music Video - Taylor Swift - Bad Blood ft. Kendrick Lamar

Pak-Afghan - Suspicion and anger

By Gul Bukhari

In little over two days after the spectacular attack on the Afghan parliament by the Taliban, the Afghan intelligence, NDS, has accused Pakistan’s ISI of masterminding the attack. Pakistan, of course, has angrily denied the accusation. Given the new military leadership in Pakistan and the hitherto uncharted direction it has visibly struck against militancy and extremism, the NDS accusation would appear baffling to any mind.
With the only hope of definitively defeating its own worst enemy, the Pakistani Taliban, even the idea of attacking the Afghan parliament appears suicidal. Yet, the Afghans maintain that that is what Pakistan is up to.
For years, it has been clear that unless Pakistan and Afghanistan both use the hammer and anvil strategy against each others Taliban, neither will succeed against the enemies that threaten their very existence. And such cooperation was evident beginning late last year, with high level visits from civil and military leadership from both sides to contour a strategy to fight terrorism together and not differentiate between the Afghan or Pakistani Taliban, or between ISIS or Al Qaeda for that matter.
However, part of the explanation of the perplexing Afghan accusation lies in events that transpired about two weeks ago. An unprecedented memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the intelligence agencies of the two countries to conduct joint operations, share intelligence and for Pakistan to help train and equip Afghan security and intelligence personnel. It was an unprecedented pact of cooperation, but caused an uproar in Afghanistan’s political circles. President Ashraf Ghani’s visionary initiative to partner with Pakistan to try and resolve the intractable Taliban problem was immediately unpopular with hawks and political factions opposed to him from the very start. The Karzai faction whipped up a storm and a senior member of the Afghan parliament asked the international relations committee to summon the NDS to seek explanation for the MoU signed with the ISI.

President Ghani’s dramatic turn towards Pakistan and away from India has earned him his opponents’ anger from the beginning. His refusal to accept the offer of weapons from India and instead accept training of Afghan officers by Pakistan earned him widespread hostility from opponents. President Ghani has also diverted precious police and military resources to Eastern provinces to help Pakistan battle the TTP. The obvious rationale of his strategy is that cooperation with Pakistan will gain him Pakistan’s aid in either reigning in the Afghan Taliban, whose leadership resides in Pakistan, or bringing it to the negotiating table. This much has been promised to him by the Pakistani leadership, both civil and military.
This olive branch has long been offered to Afghanistan by Pakistan, but President Karzai’s government remained suspicious and leaned towards India. Unfortunately, President Karzai’s thought process reflects the suspicion and hatred of the Pakistani establishment widespread in public and the Afghan intelligentsia. Hence the furious reaction to the unprecedented cooperation between the two countries, and the allegations levelled by the NDS against the ISI are entirely expected. Even the MoU was said to be signed by the deputy of the Director General of the NDS, as the Director General was reported to have refused to sign it. Many in the Afghan government and public consider the overtures a deep betrayal.
Now to understand why is it so. Pakistan has always insisted that it can deliver the Afghan Taliban if it is offered a seat at the negotiating table. Indeed, Pakistan has tried to help with negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government in Qatar and in China. However, it has been thwarted every time by the intransigent Afghan Taliban every time. Apart from the fact that Pakistan’s intent was doubted (that it was going to play a double game as it always has), its ability, too was under question. Clearly, the refusal by the Afghan Taliban to play ball has demonstrated that Pakistan promised far more than it could deliver.
But it does not end here with the matter of intent or ability. The Afghan hawks’ contention that if Pakistan cannot persuade the Afghan Taliban, then it must demonstrate will and sincerity by either taking them on militarily or pushing them out from their safe havens in the country is an entirely justified one. Thus, it is not enough to criticise the supposedly unreasonable Afghan opposition to President Ghani’s rapprochement efforts or the accusations against the ISI.

There are two distinct measures that Pakistan needs to take at this critical time to ensure President Ghani’s and its own efforts to secure the two countries are not overrun. First, it needs to either expel (hammer and anvil) all Taliban leadership including the Quetta Shura and the Haqqani network, or to take them on militarily to demonstrate its commitment to peace in the two countries. Second, it needs to thoroughly investigate the attack on the Afghan parliament and the accusation of operatives within the ISI having helped the Afghan Taliban. Though it is crystal clear that the military or intelligence leadership cannot have been involved in the attack, it would be hardly surprising if rogue elements were. It has happened too often in the past. Most importantly, if any such conspiracy to sabotage regional peace is found, not only must the actors be punished, but must also be exposed in the interests of transparency and efforts to assuage Afghan anger.

Saudi Links with Pakistani Terrorists

Saudi Links

Leaked Saudi diplomatic cables reveal that the country’s embassy in Islamabad remained in touch with the Haqqani network and also helped arrange a visit for the militant group’s leader for medical treatment. The Saudi government has, meanwhile, not acknowledged these cables as authentic and asked its citizens to ignore them. Leaks suggest Jalaluddin Haqqani carried a Saudi passport.

Nasiruddin Haqqani, one of the sons of Haqqani network chief Jalaluddin Haqqani, travelled frequently to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates between 2004 and 2009. He wasn’t killed in a remote part of Afghanistan or Pakistan; on the contrary, he was shot in Islamabad. Just like Osama bin Laden, he must have been on the radar of Pakistani intelligence. Was the radar friendly or foe? Has our security policy changed? Pakistan has come under international criticism for its links with the Haqqani network. The US State Department report ‘Country Reports on Terrorism 2014’ says that the network leadership “continued to find safe haven in Pakistan”.

The Arab states have denied their hand in spreading international terrorism and no one has been able to call them out on it. Pakistan is caught between divine Kings and a patriotic British citizen. It is hard enough to dismantle domestic crime and political mafias when foreign funded activity is making the situation harder to understand and tackle. Pakistani sense of justice is selective, and when it comes to religion, we have been apologists for terrorists and religiously motivated hate-speech for too long. As such documents come up, exposing new links, Pakistan has to be cautious about the relationship. Saudi Arabia has long been a friend, yet, Pakistani safety and sovereignty comes first.

Saudi Arabia, as a power broker, is often beyond reproach. With Pakistan’s reluctance to join the Yemen War, sentiment is that we have already upset the Kings enough. No politician will accuse the Saudis of anything, and it might even be unwise and incautious to do so at this point in time. What is important right now is to have intelligence on Saudi funding and terrorist movements, as well as public awareness that India is not the only country supporting violent activity on Pakistani soil. For now, Pakistan can only fight the scourge on its territory, breaking the network in a long war. This requires closing and securing the border with Afghanistan, an end to arms trafficking and money laundering, an investigation into the funds of various religious groups, parties and charities to stem the tide of Saudi money, and efforts to apprehend all those associated with the Haqqanis, the Taliban and the likes.

Interview: Fully Operational Gwadar Port Under Chinese Control Upsets Key Regional Players

Interview by Adnan Aamir
Syed Fazl-e-Haider is a development analyst and a freelance columnist based in Pakistan. Areas of his expertise include Pakistan-China economic ties, Balochistan economy and Gwadar Port. He is the author of many books including “Economic Development of Balochistan”, which has been recommended at Ph.D and post-graduate level in two universities of Balochistan in the syllabi of “Development Economics & Planning”. The Balochistan Point conducted an exclusive interview with Mr. Syed Fazl-e-Haider which is as follows:

Adnan Aamir:
 In your opinion what’s the main cause of economic backwardness of Balochistan?
Syed Fazl-e-Haider:  Balochistan is rich in natural resources. It has enormous potential in all sectors of development.  Unfortunately, it lacks the institutional and human resources to develop its natural endowments. It needs foreign and domestic investment to develop its economic sectors. The investors hesitate to invest due to the lack of development infrastructure and law and order problem in the province. The social indicators are also appalling in the province with illiteracy nearly at 60 percent, a small scattered population in large area, low primary school enrolment ratio and insufficient facilities for healthcare. The illiteracy is higher in Balochistan, and hence the people lack the initiative and entrepreneurial ability. The province has no skilled and trained labor to utilize its natural resources. Resultantly, its resource potential remained untapped and the province has been caught up in underdevelopment trap.
The education sector has suffered from years of neglect and under-funding. There is a strong nexus of high illiteracy with high poverty in the province. A lethal combination of militancy and poverty continues to keep the province far behind the other provinces in performance improvement in the educational arena killing all efforts and frustrating any prospect to bring improvement in poor state of education and prevailing backwardness in the province.
After 7th NFC Award 100s of billions of Rupees have poured into Balochistan every year. Why all these billions have failed to improve the living standard of people of Balochistan?
Lack of institutional framework and human resources, the efficient fiscal management and underutilization of funds has been an issue in Balochistan. Fiscal targets and physical targets rarely match. The province needs to set priorities while making budgetary allocations to different sectors. There has also been rampant corruption in government departments. The province direly needs efficient fiscal managers and development experts.
What is your take on the way successive Balochistan governments have tackled Recodiq Gold mines issue?
Balochistan’s mishandling under successive governments has thrown the Reko Diq project into a prolonged and complicated litigation process in the international court of arbitration. This has further delayed the development of a gold mine, which could not be tapped since 1993. The province was deprived of the much needed multi-billion dollar foreign investment at a time when foreign investors have lost their interest in the insurgency-hit province. If the $5 billion project were to go ahead, it would instantly double the country’s foreign direct investment. Reko Diq can be indigenously developed without discouraging the foreign investors, by dividing the 400 square kilometers area into various zones leasing out land to foreign firms and also keeping major portion of land for indigenous development.
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been dubbed as a Game-changer. How would CPEC benefit people of Balochistan?
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which involves the construction of highways, railways and energy pipelines connecting western China with Pakistan and the Persian Gulf, may prove a ‘game changer’ for ambitious China if things go as they have been planned. China sees Insurgency-hit Balochistan, the Pakistan’s southwestern province, as its strategic hinterland to achieve its goals associated with long-term energy security. On one hand, the CPEC project could initiate a mega development process with huge investments in the province making it a new economic frontier of the country, but a restive Balochistan might prove a game changer pitch for the players of global energy game. A fully operational Gwadar port under Chinese upsets key regional players.
Are you satisfied with the stance of Federal government about the issue of route of CPEC?
As far as Balochistan is concerned, whatever be the route, the final destination of the corridor lies in Balochistan. Peace and stability in the province is the prerequisite to successful completion of this corridor of immense geopolitical importance. The local people have apprehensions about the proposed development projects given their bitter experience in the past when they were neglected and discriminated. Gwadar port in the province is the essential part of the project without which it loses its strategic worth.
Some politicians and intellectual believe that Gwadar port project and CPEC would bring unfavorable demographic changes in Balochistan. Your Comment.
Gwadar like a ‘Mega Magnet’ with all its attractions is likely to allure the people from other three provinces and abroad for availing job opportunities and settling their businesses in Balochistan. This will cause a massive influx of outsiders into the sparsely populated province. At present, Gwadar has a population of nearly 150,000 but the grandiose schemes and projects that have been announced will need, according to an estimate, at least a million people. The local people are apprehensive about the expected change in demography of the province through a large-scale influx of outsiders. They fear that they would be changed into minority in their own province. They feel a threat to their identity.
I think the government must frame rules to appease the locals keeping their grip on the economy. As per rule in Dubai, a foreigner needs a local sponsor to do business. People from all over the world have settled down in Dubai, but they always had a feeling of alienation and impermanence despite their decades-long presence.
Do you see any economic change in Balochistan in next few years to come?
In terms of infrastructure development, I see an improvement due to the implementation of mega projects related to CPEC. But I think real development will come when a change occurs in the existing socioeconomic conditions of the people of Balochistan.
What role can local governments play in economic development of Balochistan?
No doubt, the Local government system has the potential to work and deliver, as those elected to the various tiers of the local government are closer to their constituents than the members of the national and provincial assemblies are to their voters. The councilors are in a position to know the people’s problems and help solve them at the grass-roots level. I believe that fully functional local governments can create opportunities for social sector development and reform in Balochistan.
What short term plan you would suggest for economic development of Balochistan?
In the short-term, the social sector should be the focus of the government. Balochistan needs educational institutes imparting technical education and vocational training and health units providing basic health facilities in all its districts. No doubt, a healthy and educated population is real capital or human capital that can ensure development of vast natural resources in the province. The better human capital equipped with education in science and technology can be instrumental in increased productively with modern technology in all economic sectors. This will enhance industrial productivity and increase exportable output of the province.

4 Militants Dead After Raid on Home in Eastern Pakistan, Officials Say


At least three militants were killed in a gun battle with the police and intelligence officers early Monday during a nighttime raid on their hide-out in easternPakistan, officials said. Another militant blew himself up after setting off his explosive-filled jacket, while two more people were arrested by the security forces after the shootout, the officials said.
The gun battle took place in Ferozwala, a small town in the Sheikhupura district of Punjab Province.
“The raid was conducted after an intelligence tip,” said a security official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “We learned that militants were living in a house in Pathan Colony and were planning a terrorist attack,” the official said, referring to the residential neighborhood.
Police officers surrounded the house at 2 a.m. Monday and killed the three men in a heavy exchange of gunfire that lasted four hours, the officials said.
They said they seized a huge cache of weapons, including suicide vests and five Kalashnikov rifles, along with several laptops. The two suspects under arrest were moved to a hospital in Lahore, the provincial capital.
Shuja Khanzada, the provincial home minister, said the men belonged to Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and planned to attack targets in Lahore.
On Sunday, security agencies raided a house in an upscale neighborhood of Lahore and arrested a man they said was also a member of Tehrik-e-Taliban and had been wanted in connection with terrorism cases in Punjab Province since 2010. The suspect, Hassan Zaheer, was accused of providing funds to the Taliban. Foreign currency and weapons were captured with him, the officials said.
Taliban militants have long maintained sanctuaries in Pakistan’s semiautonomous tribal regions, especially North Waziristan. But a military operation that began last year has displaced the militants, and their leadership is on the run. The military operation in North Waziristan is continuing.

Video Report - Analysis: Who is to blame for Greece's debt crisis?

Video Report - New Iran deal demands are stumbling blocks but won't kill deal - Political researcher

Video Report - China-Russia pipeline construction begins in Heilongjiang

Video Report - Putin pledges his support for Syrian President Bashar Assad

Video - SpaceX rocket spectacularly explodes 2 minutes after launch, Florida


The so-called 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' (ISIL) takfiri group posted on its online accounts on social networks on Monday a video footage containing a voice record belonging to its operative who carried out the attack on Imam Sadeq (AS) mosque in the Kuwaiti capital on Friday.
The Kuwaiti Interior Ministry declared on Sunday that the terrorist is a Saudi national who exploded himself hours after arriving in the country.
The terrorist, identified as Fahed Suleiman al-Qabbaa, stormed the mosque during Friday's prayers and blew himself up among the worshippers.
The Saudi Interior Ministry couldn't find a way to deny the nationality of Qabbaa, and said in a statement that he left Saudi Arabia towards Bahrain, and then he headed to Kuwait to carry out his terrorist task.
However, this attack was not the first proof of the Saudi role in supporting and funding terrorism. The Kuwait massacre coincided with pressure exerted by several US congressmen on President Barack Obama's administration to declassify 30 additional papers of the report submitted by the Congress Special Committee to investigate the September 11 attacks.
Documents revealed by the British daily The Telegraph about the report showed that the Saudi Arabia was the main financier of the 9/11 attacks.
Moreover, the Saudi kingdom played a major role in occupying Iraq in 2003, the fact which was recently unfolded by US and Saudi officials, who confirmed that Riyadh allowed the coordination of aerial strikes on Iraq from three Saudi bases: Prince Sultan base, Tabook base, and Ara'r airport.
Officials also said that the Saudis had agreed on firing cruise missiles on Iraq from US warships across the Saudi airspace.
In addition to that, terrorist groups that emerged in the wake of US occupation of Iraq were proved to be sponsored and funded by the Saudi Arabia and other regional states.
Lebanon was not spared from the Saudi terrorism as well. In June 2014, a Saudi suicide bomber blew himself up in Beirut and the Lebanese security forces arrested two other Saudi nationals who confessed to their involvement in planning for terrorist attacks that targeted Beirut's southern suburbs - aka Dahiyeh.
The Saudi terrorist Majed al-Majed, an emir of Abdullah Azzam Brigades terrorist group, was arrested in Beirut. He died shortly after his detention.
Azzam Brigades claimed most of the terrorist attacks in Lebanon, not to mention several other suicide blasts that were carried out by terrorists who belonged to organizations sponsored by the Saudi intelligence services.
An ISIL Saudi suicide bomber stormed the Imam Sadeq (AS) Mosque in Kuwait on Friday and blew himself up, killing 25 worshippers and injuring 202 others.

WikiLeaks: Saudis’ Pakistani mission helped Terrorist Haqqanis

The Saudi Arabian embassy in Islamabad stayed in touch with the Haqqani network and also facilitated medical treatment for the militant group’s leader, according to purported Saudi cables published by WikiLeaks.
The WikiLeaks cables have allegedly reveal contacts between Saudi officials and the Haqqani network in the recent past.
The Saudi foreign ministry had — in a statement released after WikiLeaks started publishing the cables — expressed concern over their public release, but said the information contained in the leaked documents did not contradict Saudi Arabia’s known position on foreign policy matters.
The Saudi government has, meanwhile, not acknowledged these cables as authentic and asked its citizens to ignore them.
One of the cables, signed by former Saudi ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Aziz Ibrahim Saleh Al Ghadeer, details his meeting with Nasiruddin Haqqani, one of the sons of Haqqani network chief Jalaluddin Haqqani.
The meeting between the ambassador and Nasiruddin took place on February 15, 2012. The venue of the meeting has not been mentioned, but the ambassador usually held meetings either at the embassy or his residence, both of which are located in the heavily guarded Diplomatic Enclave and remain under the watchful eyes of Pakistani intelligence agencies, says the cable.

Saudi money floods India to promote Wahhabism

Individuals and institutions in Saudi Arabia are pumping in millions of rupees into India to open religious trusts and non-governmental organisations, reveal the diplomatic documents released by WikiLeaks last week.
Officials with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) have termed this as “an attempt to help spread and propagate Wahhabism in the country,” The Sunday Guardian reported. This is a creed, which has extreme views on women and minority rights, besides other restrictive aspects that are opposed to the liberal spirit and democratic advances of the 21st century.
An undated document, which according to WikiLeaks, originated from the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in New Delhi, contains the list of Indian institutions and societies that have applied for financial assistance. The document suggests that the government of Saudi Arabia itself pledged donations to nine such institutions located across different states, including Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Kerala and Maharashtra.
Saudi Arabia pledged 2.5 million Saudi Riyal (SR) to Islamic Mission Trust, “Malpurram” (Mallapuram) in Kerala, which is registered with the MHA, ostensibly for constructing an arts and science college building.
Similarly, it also pledged 1 million SR to the Kerala branch of Islamic Welfare Trust for constructing a nursing college. A similar amount was also pledged to the Palghat Mujahideen Arabic College Committee in Kerala for the purpose of extending an existing medical college and the Karuma hospital building.
In Uttar Pradesh, 75,000 SR were pledged to two different societies for establishing a madrasa building and establishing a vocational centre for girls in Mirzapur and Siddharth Nagar, respectively.
WikiLeaks also released documents that showed that the Secretariat General of the Muslim World League (Mecca), a controversial organisation, had requested Saudi Arabia to encourage establishing Wahhabi centres in India.
Sources in the MHA feel that the Saudi government is concerned about the growing influence of the Shia community in India and Iran’s increasing closeness to India and sees this phenomenon as a threat to the majority Sunni population in the country, something that has been mentioned in their diplomatic correspondence which has been released by WikiLeaks. According to officials, India’s Shia population is the world’s second-largest after Iran.
“To counter the increasing Shia influence, a certain section in the Saudi establishment has been propagating Wahhabism in India,” says an MHA official.
In the last three-four years there has been a steady increase in Wahhabi preachers coming to India to conduct seminars. The official warned that “There is no doubt that Wahhabism is getting stronger in the country, especially in Kerala, mainly because of the radicalisation of a large number of local youth who are going to Saudi Arabia in search of employment. Kerala has been showing signs of sharp radicalisation. This was the only state where posters mourning the death of Osama Bin Laden had come up and a prayer for Ajmal Kasab was also held after he was hanged.”
Donations from Saudi sources are playing a key role in this process, which is being repeated across other parts of the country as well.

Benazir’s struggle to protect people of Pakistan

Though 21st June marks Birthday of one of Pakistan’s greatest leader the former prime minister of Pakistan Mohtarma  Benazir Bhutto, rightly named Benazir meaning unique.  This year besides her birthday the month of June has significance of completing one year of operation Zarb-e- Azb in North Waziristan aimed at cleansing Pakistan from terrorism. Benazir Bhutto was a victim of terrorism and among 50,000 innocent Pakistanis who embraced martyrdom in war against terror. Today we salute Pakistan Army who under the able leadership of General Raheel Sharif is making sincere efforts to make our beloved country Pakistan safe and secure from internal and external threats.
Today when operation Zarb-e -Azb is bearing fruits by eliminating elements of extremism I wish Benazir Bhutto was alive to see the peace in the country she always aspired for. May be if such an operation had taken place earlier her own life could have been saved.  I have the highest regards for her as a leader who devoted her whole life fighting for equality and justice for all.
My memories of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto span over nearly three decades and are packed with examples of her showing respect and concern for people of Pakistan irrespective of their cast and creed. She had the courage to speak for minorities and marginalized segments of society. Being an admirer of Quaid- I –Azam’s vision of a tolerant Pakistan, where people could enjoy equal rights irrespective of cast, creed, sex and age, I always waited for a leader who could revive those principles.
It was in BB I found a true reflection of Quaid’s philosophy both in her vision and action. She was committed to making country Quaid’s Pakistan in true sense. When BB was elected for the first time in 1988 I was Mayor of Rugby. In February 1989 I was honoured by her for having invited to visit Pakistan on aa state visit along with a delegation. There she introduced me to leaders of other political parties as well.
Till the time I met BB I had absolutely no idea that an Oxford educated leader of international stature, who was born with silver spoon in mouth, could feel with such intensity about the downtrodden segments of society. When she came to Birmingham on one event she saw me sitting among audience and personally invited me on the main table.  She had the courage to touch and embrace which for most of us are untouchable subjects, human rights being one among them.
A closer look at Benazir Shaheed’s political life reveals that the concept of human rights was at the very core of her political philosophy and practice. Her commitment to human rights was beyond political leaning, sans political point scoring and anchored in real needs of people of Pakistan. It was inclusive and responsive aimed at progress of people and addressed wide range of rights of people. This is an area of her life where there is less to quote from her speeches and more from the practical measures she put in place.
Her initiatives to establish first ever government owned mechanism for addressing human rights issues in the form of Human Rights Cell (which later became a full Ministry of Human Rights) was a great leap forward in this direction which combined with numerous other steps such as creation of   separate police stations for women, protection of followers of other faiths, recruitment of lady health workers for ensuring right of health and so on mark her actions for upholding rights of people.
In both her tenures, Benazir Shaheed tried to bring in lime light the notion of human rights as a means to protect rights of every one. She recognized the necessity of ownership of state for protection of rights of people. The beginning of a new paradigm of human rights in Pakistan was establishment of Human Rights Cell , headed by her adviser on Human Rights Syed Kamran Haider Rizvi ; a political prisoner for eight years under Zia’s rule, who was committed to human rights issues due to his own experience. In this paradigm, state assumed a responsive role for ensuring human rights , hand in hand with civil society rather an opposing force for such organizations as it had  happened in past. Human Rights Cell was responsible at the government level to monitor and improve human rights situation in Pakistan. The cell later became a full Ministry.
One of the priority area of Human rights cell and Ministry was protection of rights of minorities, she took personal interest in the rights of minorities. It was during this period that two young Christian boys who were falsely implicated in blasphemy cases were helped by Kamran Rizvi to make a safe passage to a European country and their lives were saved.
No country can progress in real sense without investing in its human resources and fulfilling the basic rights of security of life, justice, food, education, health and dignity. It’s the time to revisit an apolitical approach to human rights. Everyone including political parties can pursue at least one theme unanimously and that is Human Rights. Respect of human rights for creating any civilized society is so important that Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) sealed the task of conveying message of Allah in his last sermon by asserting significance of Human Rights. It was His last public address and the ultimate message for Humanity.
Every summer during her visit to London Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto made it a point to invite me for dinner or tea. I had the honour to host Begum Nusrat Bhutto in Rugby when she visited UK as senior minister. Her visit was covered by the BBC. During BB’s last visit I gave her video tape of Begum Saheba’s visit to Rugby. She was very excited and happy to receive the recording.
When she left for Pakistan in 2007 she informed me of her decision by an email from Dubai. I spoke to her and requested her not to go due to likely danger to her life. Her reply was my people are with me and they need me and your prayers are with me. I told her I will a fast that day for your safe return.  She was barely saved in bomb blast in Karachi but due to her passion for people of Pakistan she could not exercise restraint of not going into public. She lived for ordinary people and died among the masses.  If she was alive she would turned 62 this year. She died young but left behind a vision of Democracy in Pakistan which is alive and growing. I can not wish BB many happy returns of her birthday but can certainly make a wish for my beloved country “long live Pakistan, long live democracy. May peace prevail in Pakistan.”