Tuesday, February 3, 2015

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Nations Must Repeal Blasphemy Laws


What did the terrorist attacks against the Charlie Hebdo newspaper and the kosher supermarket in Paris share with the flogging of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi in Jeddah last month? Each was an assault on freedom of conscience, religion, or belief. Moreover, in the Charlie Hebdo and Badawi cases, those responsible denied their victims the right to speak freely about religion because, in their view, such critics are blasphemers who insult religion and must be punished.
People naturally should try to do their utmost to honor and uphold each other's inherent dignity as fellow human beings and respect their most cherished beliefs. But when this laudable idea is rejected by a demand that perceived transgressors be silenced by force -- including even murder and torture -- rather than engaged through debate and discussion, the line has been crossed from freedom to coercion.
As the Badawi case illustrates, it is not just private individuals and groups which cross that line. Governments also label and punish certain speech by enforcing blasphemy laws, some of which carry the death penalty. In so doing, they embolden citizens to commit bloodshed against alleged blasphemers.
In the face of this assault on human rights and dignity, the world community must confront these abusive laws and the horrific acts they unleash, pressing offending nations to repeal these statutes and release people imprisoned because of them.
As Badawi can attest, one such nation is Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom enthrones its own interpretation of Sunni Islam and bans the public expression of any other religious belief. Dissenters may be charged with offenses ranging from apostasy to blasphemy.
Badawi founded and edited the Free Saudi Liberals website, a forum for the free expression of diverse political and religious views. The government arrested him in June 2012, charging him with apostasy and "insulting Islam." While in January 2013, a Saudi court dropped the apostasy charge, it sentenced him in July 2013 to 600 lashes and seven years in prison on other charges and ordered that his web site be shut down. Last May, an appeals court increased the sentence to 10 years and the number of lashes to 1,000, or 50 lashes weekly for 20 consecutive weeks. Badawi's latest flogging has been postponed and the Saudi high court is reviewing his case.
While Saudi Arabia punishes dissenters from its interpretation of Sunni Islam, Iran does likewise to those it deems to threaten its own brand of Shi'a Islam. Muslims, including Shi'a dissenters, and non-Muslims including Baha'is and Christians, who have been jailed, tortured, and executed for "insulting Islam" or "waging war against God."
But when it comes to the application of blasphemy provisions, no nation is more zealous than Pakistan. While these laws largely target Muslims and carry the death penalty or life in prison, they disproportionately impact religious minority communities. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, on which we serve, knows of at least 17 Pakistanis on death row and 19 more serving life sentences for blasphemy, with many more awaiting trial.
Pakistan's blasphemy statutes also fan the flames of skyrocketing sectarian violence and provide extremist groups and vigilantes fuel to unleash terror, especially against minorities, with impunity.
No Pakistanis are safe from these laws, not even government officials. In 2011, Shabbaz Bhatti -- Pakistan's minority religious affairs minister and a Christian, and Salmaan Taseer -- the governor of Punjab province and a Muslim, were assassinated for opposing these laws. Reacting to mere allegations of blasphemy, mobs recently lynched a Christian man and his pregnant wife, while a policeman used an axe to kill a Shi'a in custody.
Clearly, the world community must respond to these abuses.
In March 2011, the United States and like-minded countries blocked efforts at the United Nations to internationalize blasphemy prohibitions, defeating an initiative that promoted an international legal norm against the so-called "defamation of religions." Instead, a framework that promotes tolerance, understanding, and community engagement replaced that flawed concept.
It is time to show similar resolve today by pressing nations to repeal their blasphemy laws and challenging leaders to promote cultures of tolerance and mutual respect.
It is particularly important for free nations to repeal their own codes. Several European countries, from Austria to Greece, Ireland to Poland, still have blasphemy laws on the books. Repealing them would send the right message.
Finally, the world should press for the release of Raif Badawi and other blasphemy-law victims. While many Western governments condemned Badawi's flogging and urged that his case be reviewed, which reports suggest is now happening, none have called for his unconditional release.
Let the message be clear: Don't quash speech that belittles or offends. Fight such speech with more speech -- speech that ennobles. Honor freedom of expression and religion by repealing all blasphemy laws.


By Ismail Salami
By all standards, human rights abuse in Pakistan particularly against the Shia population is taking a horrendous momentum with the government keeping silent on the ongoing bloodbath.
On Friday, over 60 worshipers were martyred and 60 others injured in an explosion inside a central Imambargah Shia mosque in Shikarpur district of Sindh Province in Pakistan.
The Takfiri group Jundallah, a splinter group of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has claimed responsibility for the carnage.
“Our target was the Shia mosque ... They are our enemies,” said Jundallah spokesman Fahad Marwat.
Intimately affiliated with the ISIL in carrying out their brutalities including beheading and blinding their victims, Jundallah forged an alliance with its sister group ISIL after meeting a three-man delegation representing the group led by al Zubair al Kuwaiti.
"They (Islamic State) are our brothers, whatever plan they have we will support them," Jundallah spokesperson Fahad Marwat said.
The same terrorist group is also affiliated with Mossad.
In January 2012, Mark Perry revealed the link between Jundallah and Mossad and how Israeli Mossad officers recruited operatives belonging to the terrorist group Jundallah by passing themselves off as American agents. According to two US intelligence officials, “the Israelis, flush with American dollars and toting U.S. passports, posed as CIA officers in recruiting Jundallah operatives — what is commonly referred to as a false flag operation.”
It is deplorable to see that the Shia population is getting weaker and weaker every day as the government is not making any concrete steps to put an end to this inhumane catastrophe. Is the government unreservedly defending the massacres? What is the role of ISI in fermenting this plight?
Owing to the government’s tacit agreement to otherize the Shia Muslims, the Shia leaders have acquired conviction that the government is not to be trusted and that they need to form a united front against the Takfiri terrorists in the country.
Hasan Zaffar, a prominent Shia cleric, has taken a blistering swipe at the Pakistani government, saying, “The government has proven to be utterly useless and the Shia community is very vulnerable. We need to raise a community of volunteers and scouts for security duties.”
Amin Shaheedi, another prominent Shia cleric who has organized public protests to demand greater protection for the community, said: “The questions are, where was the police at the time of the attack? We have no protection. We have to protect ourselves.”
The 92,000 classified US military documents released by the whistle-blowing WikiLeaks and subsequently splashed on many websites in 2010 reveal the role of Pakistani government in conducing to chaos and extremism in Afghanistan and naturally in Pakistan. According to the reports, “The Taliban are stronger than ever and a crucial component of their success is the support they receive from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The military spy agency nurtured the Taliban in the 1990s and has maintained ties to the group ever since.”
The root causes of extremism are traceable in the emergence of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) founded by Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, who spearheaded the anti-Shia campaign in the 1980s under the aegis of Pakistan's former military leader, General Zia ul-Haq. And they have been killing the Shia Muslims since then. And groups such as Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), and ASWJ/Sipah-e-Sahaba are ideologically interrelated and follow the same perverse policies.
In June 2011, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) in alliance with al-Qaeda released an open letter in which they declared that all Shias deserve to be killed: “All Shias are wajib-ul-qatl (worthy of killing). We will rid Pakistan of [this] unclean people. Pakistan means land of the pure, and the Shias have no right to be here. We have the fatwa and signatures of the revered ulema in which the Shias have been declared kaafir [infidel].”
In point of fact, Saudi Arabia was an ardent supporter of Zia ul-Haq’s government and his radicalization policy. Besides, the leaked US cables show that extremist groups operating on Pakistani soil, such as al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) "probably raise millions of dollars" each year in Saudi Arabia.
Under Mohammad Zia-ul-Ha, the ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were immeasurably expanded. A dictator who had usurped power through staging a coup and overthrowing Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1977 with the support of CIA, Zia-ul-Haq, an affiliate of the Deobandi School, was financed by Riyadh to help spread Wahhabism in the country. During his long tenure, he visited Saudi Arabia 27 times. To promote Wahhabism, the Saudis funded new mosques and seminaries and employed Pakistani labor in Arab countries in the country.
The legacy of Zia ul-Haq is still clearly discernible in Pakistan. To crown it all, the anti-Shia campaign which Zia al-Haq started is still being financed by Saudi Arabia.
Further to that, there are tangible efforts by western media to depict the Shia killing in Pakistan as the consequence of an appalling rift deepening between Sunni and Shia Muslims in the country.
Wahhabism is exacting an inconceivable human toll in Pakistan and other parts of the world corrupted by this mindset. Wahhabism is a far cry from Islam and any attempts to ascribe this ideology to the faith which is lexically and basically rooted in peace are doomed to fail.
The Shia Muslims in Pakistan are victims of a demonic dogma called Wahhabism and as long as the Pakistani government turns a deaf ear and blind eye to the plight of this persecuted population, there is little hope for them and this irresponsibility on the part of the government will categorically turn into a tragedy of epic proportions.

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Erdogan ‘Morsi of Turkey,’ will not last past 2016: Turkish opposition head

“Erdogan is the Morsi of our country, he’s our Brotherhood representative, and therefore he took a negative stance towards Sisi. And he will go down like Morsi.”
Dogu Perincek, the Chairman of the Turkish Workers Party, has been a vocal opponent of Turkish President Erdogan since his election in 2002. Perincek he was sentenced to life in prison in August 2013 after he was found guilty of “plotting against the Turkish government.” He was released, however, in March 2014.
“Egypt is our strategic ally and friend. And we are stuck, destined to be allied with Egypt, we need it. The history of both countries is very similar,” said Perincek.
Relations between Turkey and Egypt have significantly chilled since the ouster of Mohamed Morsi in July 2013; Ergogan has frequently referred to the ouster as a “coup,” and Egypt has accused him of interfering in internal affairs.
“We are the only political party in Turkey that called June 30 a revolution,” Perincek told The Cairo Post, adding  “In his heart, Erdogan is afraid that he might face the same end as Morsi did, therefore he rejected fiercely the June 30 revolution and the fall of Morsi.”
Perincek said he saw a “new climate” emerging in the Middle East: “Relatively secular, relatively free, and more tolerant. “
“These countries are condemned to tolerance, and destined to secularism. If there’s no secularism, we can’t maintain our national unity. In that sense, Turkey and Egypt need to cooperate in the area of secularity and in the area of independence with each other,” he said.
Perincek predicted that Erdogan would not continue his tenure past 2016 in Turkey, citing reasons of high foreign debt, as well as his isolation from other countries.
“The individual, somewhat fanatic positions of Erdogan, which are not well-thought out, are bound to be erased….Fueling the economy all the time by taking on foreign debt has come to an end. Turkey is facing $250 billion of debt to be paid in this year.”
“Erdogan has no chance to borrow that much to pay the debt, and he won’t be able to keep the wheel turning. That means that the economy of Erdogan will collapse,” he added.

Why is Turkey censoring lingerie, antique books?

Emre Kizilkaya

When did Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has been praised by international media for its democratic reforms during its first few years in power, start to turn into what it is today — a ruthless political machine that cracks down on free speech with increasingly potent tools, insisting on its "unconstitutional" course as was been in the Jan. 28 debate at the parliament?

It can easily be argued that the AKP's reform drive had already stopped in 2005, before its truly authoritarian tendencies materialized in 2007 with a more draconian approach toward media following its second electoral victory.
Soon afterward, the government pressure on newspapers started to target social media, too. Daily Hurriyet columnist Ferai Tinc had quoted me in 2008, when, as a foreign news editor then, I was complaining of a newly adopted Turkish ban on Blogger, which deprived my colleagues and me of an important news source.
Tinc was an exception in seeing the coming disaster in Turkey, though. The Turkish media, and particularly traditional outlets, failed to react. Opposition parties did not even seriously question the ruling of a court in Diyarbakir that was the basis of the ban.
"First they came for the bloggers. …" Then, I was personally victimized when my own website was blocked in 2011. I was not the direct target of the ban, though. Once again, Turkish authorities had just opted to enforce a blanket ban on all blogs, because a single blog had infringed copyright laws.
Out of curiosity, I got acquainted with Turkey's digital censorship bureaucracy, which was still in its infancy in 2012, when the United States and Europe were debating freedom-curbing initiatives such as SOPA, PIPA and ACTA. "The real problem in Turkey today," I had written in a February 2012 column, "is the fact that our bureaucracy can arbitrarily block websites without a court order."
As an example, I cited how the website of Rolling Stone, a New York-based biweekly magazine on popular culture, was blocked in Turkey for an undisclosed reason. Authorities unblocked Rolling Stone only months afterward, and again, without any explanation.
The Rolling Stone case encouraged me to find other websites that were strangely blocked in Turkey. For instance, why was access from Turkey to Venus.com, a bikini seller, blocked? I tried to contact Turkish authorities to learn their reasoning for each case, but I often got lost in the Kafkaesque labyrinths of bureaucracy.
The simple questions I lodged under the Law on the Right to Information were rarely answered by officials. As International Press Institute's "Accessing Governments" report showed in 2009, Turkey was among the worst countries at providing information to journalists.
Then I found Engelli Web, a civil society initiative that lists blocked websites in Turkey with an efficient method that involves crowdsourcing and verification. Currently, it lists more than 65,000 websites alongside corresponding rulings.
Only 6.8% of these websites have been blocked by Turkish courts, while 93.2 percent of them are blocked by Turkey's Telecommunications Directorate (TIB), the government body that the AKP keeps trying to equip with even more extraordinary powers despite the Constitutional Court ruling that overturned a similar attempt last year.
Child pornography, which is frequently cited to justify the draconian measures of the TIB, consists only 0.5% of websites blocked by Turkish officials; 90% of those websites are blocked due to "obscenity," despite the existence of family filters of Turkey's service providers mandated by the government.
Out of the remaining 10% — some 6,500 blocked websites — those that violate Turkey's gambling ban and infringe its copyright laws lead the list. Still, it is harder to explain why the rest, hundreds of domains and at least 1,500 IP addresses, have ever been blocked. We don't even know exactly when more than 1,300 websites were blocked in Turkey.
Here are some of the bizarre examples sent to me by the creator of Engelli Web, who prefers to remain anonymous:
  • The Legatum Institute: A London-based think tank that researches and promotes the principles that drive the creation of global prosperity and the expansion of human liberty. Its website li.com has been blocked in Turkey since 2009, but the reason has never been disclosed. Meanwhile, the Legatum Prosperity Index currently ranks Turkey at the 86th place, lower than countries such as Nicaragua, Botswana, Sri Lanka and Bulgaria.
  • SoundCloud.com: This Swedish online audio distribution platform has been blocked in Turkey since the leak of wiretapped phone calls of Turkish government officials, implicating them in the massive corruption investigations begun in December 2013.
  • Metacafe: This video-sharing website has been blocked since 2010, because a single user once shared a sex tape of Turkey's then-opposition leader.
  • Leading LGBT websites: Grindr, a gay dating service, has been blocked since August 2013. Gay.com, on the other hand, has been blocked since October 2014.
  • An American actress: Nobody knows why the website of Betsy Landin, an American actress who is known through films such as "Dolphin Tale," is blocked in Turkey. I am about to believe that even Turkish officials don't know why they had blocked it.
  • NBM Publishing: Again, it is not clear why Turkish officials blocked the website of this American publisher of graphic novels. They apparently sell some erotic titles, too. Is it the reason?
  • A Spanish auction website: The inventory of todocoleccion.net includes some antique books related to Turkey, but we don't know why its website was blocked in Turkey on Jan. 7, 2015.
  • No blasphemy at home: Long before the Charlie Hebdo massacre, TIB had blocked a series of Wordpress blogs in Turkish for insulting the Prophet Muhammad. Actually, the TIB's legal mandate at the time was not wide enough to practice bans on the grounds of blasphemy, but who cares?
  • Lingerie and bikinis: Selling sexy lingerie is apparently an "obscenity" crime according to Turkey's Internet watchdog, as can be seen from the ban on WickedTemptations.com. Similarly, wickedweasel.com, an Australian bikini seller, is blocked in Turkey. Perhaps the problem lies with the word "wicked."
  • Others: There are many other weird examples. Roncalli.org, the website of a Catholic high school in Indianapolis, and registerguard.com, a newspaper in Oregon, were both blocked in Turkey in 2008, because their domains were linked to a phishing scam then. There is no threat anymore, but the websites remain blocked.
The balance between civil liberties and national security is a matter of debate around the world, particularly in the new media age. However, the prospects may be even darker for democracy in today's Turkey, where a Kafkaesque bureaucracy is creating an impromptu monster for digital censorship.
A Turkish official whose input was used in the draft law that started to be debated at the parliament Jan. 28 has told me on condition of anonymity that the process to increase TIB's legal powers was a necessity for Turkey. "We are learning on the fly, so there might be errors. But we need to do it to ensure the security of our citizens," he said.
And we are talking about a unique country where many citizens agree with their government in approving of that Kafka quotation: "It's often safer to be in chains than to be free." But I personally believe that not only free speech advocacy groups, but also Internet giants including Google, Facebook and Twitter should not be intimidated by Turkey's Frankenstein.
For sake of democracy, everyone should side with Turkish citizens' freedom of speech, doing their best to legally challenge Turkish authorities' attempts of censorship, instead of unquestioningly approving official requests and narratives. Most of us have failed in this endeavor so far.

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/01/turkey-censoring-lingerie-antique-books.html#ixzz3QjcEUjT4

Jordan vows ‘earth-shaking’ response to IS’ killing of pilot

Jordan on Tuesday threatened an “earth-shaking response” for the burning alive of Jordanian pilot Muath Kasasbeh by the so-called Islamic State (IS) terrorist group, while His Majesty King Abdullah urged Jordanians to stand united at these crucial times.
Following the release of a video showing a group of IS masked terrorists burning Kasasbeh alive, the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army (JAF) issued a statement saying that the officer was killed on January 3, nine days after his F-16 crashed over Raqqa in northeast Syria (see text of the army statement in separate story).
In his statement, aired on Jordan TV, King Abdullah described IS as a cowardly terrorist group that has nothing to do with true Islam, praising Kasasbeh as a brave pilot who was fighting in defence of Islam, his country and his nation.
The Royal Court announced that King Abdullah would cut short his visit to the US, with the White House announcing an unscheduled meeting between the King and President Barack Obama in Washington later Tuesday before the King’s departure.
In its statement, the army vowed a response that is “proportionate to the magnitude of the tragedy of all Jordanians”, according to the statement read on Jordan TV by JAF Spokesperson Colonel Mamdouh Ameri.
A similar reaction was echoed by Government Spokesperson Mohammad Momani, who said several measures will be taken by the Kingdom to respond to this brutal group.
In a statement aired by Jordan TV, Momani said that Jordan’s response to the assassination “will be swift. Jordanians’ wrath will devastate Daesh’s ranks”.
Addressing those who had doubt about the brutality of IS, the minister said what the group did is proof of such brutality.
“For those who used to believe that this group represents Islam, this is the proof, and for those who had doubts about the unity of Jordanians against this evil, we will show them what unity we have.”
He added that Kasasbeh does not belong to one tribe or one governorate, but to all the Jordanian people.
Jordanian citizens, political parties and key figures were in a state of shock Tuesday evening, voicing their rage as well as solidarity with the family of the fallen soldier and vowing support for JAF and security agencies as the country rises to respond to the terrorist threat.
Young people spontaneously took to the streets, including members of the pilot’s family, to condemn the execution of Kasasbeh.
Muneer Rawashdeh was one of the participants at the gathering in Dabouq, where hundreds of relatives and Jordanians flocked to offer condolences to the pilot’s family at a Karak Tribes Diwan (tribal meeting place).  
“Muath is a hero. We will remember him as a hero who fought this terrorist organisation,” he said. 
“We are very angry because of what happened and we should avenge his assassination,” said Rawashdeh. 
Azzam Kasasbeh, another participant, said: “I offer my condolences to all Jordanians. This hero is the son of all Jordanians. We need to be united at this stage. We should have faith in our army. We should support our army to kill those terrorists.”
Munther Hammad, a university student, urged a continued war against “blood-thirsty terrorists”. 
The Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, meanwhile, urged Jordanians to perform “prayers for the absent”, a group funeral prayers performed for those who die on strange land and did not receive proper burial. The faithful will gather at mosques around the country to do the ritual at midday prayers, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported. 
Church leaders also called on their congregations to toll bells and hold special masses to honour the fallen soldier, Petra said.
The international community also expressed its anger at the brutal killing of the officer, and offered sympathies to his family and the Jordanian people.
Last week, the terrorist group released a video showing Japanese hostage Kenji Goto holding a doctored picture of Kasasbeh, and threatening to kill both Kasasbeh and the Japanese hostage if Jordan did not release the convicted terrorist Sajida Rishawi.
However, the government insisted on receiving proof that Kasasbeh was alive for the swap to take place. IS on Saturday released a video showing the beheading of Goto without any comment on the fate of Kasasbeh.
According to Momani, the government asked for proof of life then because it had suspicions in this regard. 

Video Report - Purported IS Video Shows Jordan Pilot Killed

Video Report - President Obama: ISIS operating on a 'bankrupt' ideology

Pashto Folk Song "Baangona Dee" - Sardar Ali Takkar

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Pakistan - A group of Muslim lawyers blocking justice in killer Mumtaz Qadri case

Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC has strongly condemned a group of Muslim lawyer’s fraternity who gather on hearing dates of killer Mumtaz Qadri in Islamabad High Court during his appeal against his death sentence to press upon judges to free a killer who committed murder of former Governor Punjab Salman Taseer in front of his fellow police guards and publically admitted his heinous crime as Islamic duty to kill blasphemer on meeting a blasphemy accused Christian woman Asia Bibi in jail.

Mumtaz Qadri, a police guard on official duty to protect Governor Punjab Salman Tasee in Islamabad on 4 January 2011, sprayed bullets from his gun and murdered him before other body guards.

The rose petals were offered to killer Mumtaz Qadri when he first appeared in court after murder by large number of Muslim lawyers like a hero treatment with kisses and hugs.

The Chief Justice of Lahore High Court Justice Khawaja Sharif announced to head legal team of Mumtaz Qadri when he was sentence to death by lower courts.

The crime of Governor Salman Taseer was that he went in Sheikhupura District jail to visit Christian mother Asia Bibi who was sentenced to death on accusation of blasphemy in 2009. Governor Salman Taseer was termed as blasphemer on meeting Asia Bibi in jail and calling blasphemy laws as un-Islamic law in his public comments.

Dr. Nazir Bhatti said that it’s shameful that a group of lawyer and former CJ of LHC are putting pressure on IHC Division Bench to release a killer who committed heinous crime and justified his action before millions of media viewers.

“I am surprised that lawyers who are condemning 21st Amendment in constitution in their conventions but silent on protests of a group of lawyers in Islamabad High Courts to pressure judges to release a killer” said Nazir Bhatti

Nazir Bhatti added “It seems as government of Pakistan have paved way for release of killer Mumtaz Qadri by hiding his case files”

PCC Chief urged government to stop lawyers from gathering in court room during hearing of killer Mumtaz Qadri or hold his hearing in prison.

Dr. Nazir Bhatti feared that killing of Christians and Ahmadiyyia community members who will be accused of blasphemy will rise outside courts by hands of radical Muslims if courts freed killer Mumtaz Qadri when incidents of burning alive of Christian couple and murder of Ahmadiyyia members in jails and police lockups by police officers have happened;

The Pakhtun-Baloch relationship

By Adnan Aamir
Last Sunday, an article published in The News on Sunday, titled , was a rant about lack of autonomy of Pakhtuns of Balochistan. The author of that article has given an impression, between the lines, that Baloch are responsible for the current plight of the Pakthuns of Balochistan. Historical facts have been twisted by the author to prove his point, which need to be corrected.
The author states in the article, “Before the British occupation, the name of Balochistan never existed in history to represent a geo-physical entity.” A study of history tells us that first Baloch confederacy was formed under the leadership of Mir Jalal in 12th century. In 1666, Khanate of Balochistan came into existence which was later renamed Khanate of Kalat due to its capital city Kalat. Inayatullah Baloch, in his book “The Problem of Greater Baluchistan,” writes that at its zenith, Khanate of Balochistan stretched from Kerman in Modern day Iran to Indus River in Pakistan.
Similarly, the author has made another absurd claim about Quetta by maintaining that British handed over Quetta to Khan of Kalat in 1841, in the aftermath of first Anglo-Afghan war. This claim has no basis in history and it is an unsubstantiated claim. Quetta was known as Shaaland it was a part of Khanate of Kalat during the reign of Nasir Khan-I and this is well documented in history books.
In 1839, British invaded Kalat state and handed over Quetta and Mastung to Shah Shujah of Afghanistan. A.B Awan in his book “Baluchistan: Historical and Political Processes” writes that “in 1841 after a brief war, an agreement was reached between British and Kalat state. In that agreement Quetta and Mastung were returned back to Kalat.”
The author has asserted that British-Balochistan had 90 per cent Pakthun population which is a misstatement. British-Balochistan not only included Pakthun areas acquired through Gandamak Treaty but also Baloch areas. Quetta, Noshki, Chagai Tribal areas, Nasirabad, Sibi, Bolan and Marri-Bugti tribal areas were also part of the erstwhile British-Balochistan. Absence of historical data about demographics makes it impossible to ascertain the exact proportions of population but it is safe to assume that British-Balochistan had equal Baloch and Pakthun population, if not Baloch majority.
Furthermore, the said article makes the factually inaccurate claim that Quetta division during One-Unit had a Pakthun majority population. However, the results of 1962 and 1966 general elections for National Assembly of Pakistan, held through basic democrats system, contradict this claim. In 1962 elections, Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri was elected Member of National Assembly (MNA) from Quetta division. In 1966, there were two electoral constituencies for Quetta division and both were won by Baloch candidates namely; Mir Darya Khan Khoso and Mir Nabi Bakhsh Zehri. So if Quetta division had Pakthun majority then Baloch politicians would have never won from there.
The current arrangement of Balochistan is something that Baloch leaders didn’t want either. President Yahya Khan decided to amalgamate Pakthun belt of British-Balochistan with Kalat state to form Balochistan province. Baloch leaders under the leadership of Khan of Kalat requested Yahya Khan to not include Pakthun areas in Balochistan. Yahya Khan, however, rejected their plea and proceeded with his scheme of provinces. So, it has never been the desire of Baloch to have a province with Pakthun districts in the north. That is the reason that today no Baloch nationalist opposes the demand of a separate province for Pakthuns of Balochistan.
Redrawing the borders of Balochistan can be carried out by either establishing a separate province for Pakthuns in Balochistan or amalgamating it with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). A separate province is economically not viable due to its size and small population. Amalgamation with KP poses political and geographic challenges.
Politically the people of Pakthun belt of Balochistan will be at loss as they will be having less percentage of seats in provincial assembly of KP, as compared to what they have in Balochistan Assembly. Geographic challenge is that FATA and Frontier Region are situated between Pakthun belt of Balochistan and KP which further complicates the matter.
It should also not be forgotten that all the major natural resources of the Balochistan are situated in Baloch areas. Sui gas fields, Rekodiq goldmines, Saindak copper-gold mines and coastal belt, all of these are situated in Baloch areas. It is due to the natural resources of Baloch belt that share of Balochistan in National Finance commission (NFC) has increased and Pakthun belt is also benefitting from it.
Presently, Pakthuns have politically and economically greater control on Balochistan as compared to their population. It is true that, except one, all chief ministers of Balochistan have been Baloch. However, it is also true that all Baloch CMs have always required the support of their Pakthun coalition partners. Even today the Balochistan government is equally shared by Baloch and Pakthun nationalists. Therefore, claiming that Pakthuns are not getting their due share in provincial setup is nothing but an incorrect line of argument which is also pursued by a major political party of Balochistan.
Balochistan at the moment is facing many challenges in shape of lack of provincial autonomy and control on the natural resources of the province. The unity of Baloch and Pakthuns of Balochistan is the need of the hour in order to bargain effectively with Islamabad. Blaming the Baloch will do no good to either Baloch or Pakthun cause.

'China, Russia back India on UN terror resolution targeting Pakistan'

China and Russia decided on Monday to back the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) — a resolution supported by India and heavily biased against Pakistan.
At a meeting of Russia-India-China (RIC) in Beijing, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said her counterparts from the two countries understood the need for endorsing the resolution that has been pending at the UN for nearly two decades and seeks to widen the existing definition of terrorism.
The CCIT was proposed by India in 1996 in lieu of Pakistan allegedly backing Kashmiri separatists.
In Tuesday’s meeting, the RIC communiqué vouched to oppose terrorism of all forms and called all countries to join efforts in combating terrorism together with the United Nations.
Speaking at a press conference after the RIC meeting, Swaraj told reporters: “Our discussions on terrorism brought consensus on two issues. Firstly, there can be no ideological, religious, political, racial or any other justification for the acts of terrorism and secondly the need to bring to justice perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these acts of terror.”
Swaraj added that the ministers emphasized the need to step up information gathering and sharing and prevent the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICTs) for the purposes of recruitment and incitement to commit terrorist acts.

Pakistan - Campaign Against Polio

Being a polio worker in Pakistan has to be one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Since 2012, militants opposed to the vaccination campaign have killed 68 polio workers and policemen tasked with protecting them. Of the 300 cases of polio infection reported last, most come from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and FATA. In the last three years, 23 cases have emerged in Karachi alone – all of them from communities related to KP and FATA. The two major hurdles in the drive against polio are propaganda and direct violence.
Several parents refuse to vaccinate their children because they consider the whole thing to be a Western conspiracy. Some believe that the polio drops cause infertility while others view the campaign as a cover for a wide-scale spying exercise. That Dr Shakil Afridi ran a fake vaccination campaign for the US to track down Osama Bin Laden has certainly not helped. Now, there is proof if any was ever required. The issue of non-cooperation by certain communities is exacerbated by the violence unleashed on polio workers and policemen guarding them. Militants have been consistently targeting them to keep them out of certain areas, leading to a rise in cases despite intensified efforts. It is not only a message for those working as part of the anti-polio campaign, but also serves as a warning for people living in militant strongholds. An obvious solution to this would be to provide enhanced security to vaccination teams, but it is easier said than done.
In Karachi, for example, the police force is far too small to deal with the situation. The city is plagued with ethnic, political and sectarian violence, and despite the ongoing operation led by Rangers, the killings have not been curbed. Taking a chunk of police officials and tasking them with protection of polio workers would make it even more difficult to manage law and order. Therefore, without increasing capacity on an emergency basis, no lasting solution can be achieved. The government is attempting to counter propaganda surrounding polio through awareness campaigns and by taking religious scholars on board. Their endorsement certainly carries weight in communities that are opposed to vaccinations due to religious beliefs. However, polio workers remain vulnerable to violence. Most of them are poor individuals, who cannot afford to turn down a job even though it pays very little. But the price they end up paying for doing the good work of securing children against a paralyzing infection is far too high

Pakistan - Saudi Salve Nawaz & Saudi influence - ''Hunter Princes''

'Hunter Princes''

The Saudis prove that the arrogance of royalty can often know no bounds as an advance party of a Saudi prince has arrived with his falcons in Chagai district of Balochistan. The young hunter, Governor of Tabuk, Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, will be killing game birds for a few weeks, something that has recently been banned by the Pakistan government. A part of Chagai district has been dedicated to the prince for this purpose. Last year, he was able to hunt 2,100 rare birds and this sparked an international outcry. Thus the Balochistan High Court (BHC) cancelled all special hunting permits issued by the federal government. The party is here despite knowing that the permits have been discontinued. Not only Saudi royalty, but an advance party of the United Arab Emirates Vice President and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al-Maktoum has also been scoping out the area for potential game.
The problem is not just that these royals feel that they have a right to the game, but that local government and elites have allowed them to have this right. Rather the foreigners relying on rule of law and automatically staying away knowing that the ban will be enforced, they have the audacity to come here and act in brazen opposition to the law with no objections. Wildlife officials have little say over the hunting issue because of the influence wielded by the royal hunters. Whenever a wildlife official reports illegal hunting, he is punished. We don’t respect our own laws while every few days a Pakistani loses his head for breaking Saudi laws, caught drug trafficking. 
The second issue is not just that of law but of the preservation of these birds. The next generation should not be seeing these majestic birds only in books. We have been bowing down to Saudi influence and interest for decades now, such that it bleeds into such little things, and this has to stop. While Balochistan has bigger issues to tackle, such as missing persons and separatism, the civil society there should not let this one go. This is a matter of provincial autonomy and the preservation of natural resources including flora and fauna. Yet, with the public consensus against the hunt, we are all uncertain about whether the Pakistani government has the guts to say no to the Saudis.

Pakistan - Aitzaz demands Senate debate on petrol shortage, poll rigging

Leader of the Opposition in Senate, Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan Tuesday called for a debate in the upper house of Parliament on recent petrol shortage and alleged rigging in the 2013 general election.
Speaking on a point of order, he alleged that the scarcity of petrol was created artificially to make quick buck.
The international oil prices had decreased from Rs120 to 46 per barrel and the benefit had not yet been
passed on to the consumers. He criticised Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi over the issue.
Aitzaz said there should also be a discussion on alleged irregularities in 2013 elections as Senate elections were nearing.
PPP Senator Saeed Ghani, speaking on a point of order, said the caretaker cabinet of Gilgit Baltistan should be dissolved.
Tahir Hussain Mashhadi of MQM said that emergency should be imposed in Sindh province in the aftermath of Shikarpur imambargah massacre.
Senator Abdul Rauf staged a walkout on alleged changes in the design of Pakistan China Economic Corridor.
Deputy Chairman Sabir Ali Baloch allotted opposition seat to Senator Muhammad Hamayun Khan
Mandokhel on his request.
Earlier, Mandokhel had announced withdrawal of his support to the government.
Meanwhile, the deputy chairman referred the breach of a privilege motion of Senator Ilyas Bilour to the relevant standing committee.
Responding to the motion, Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastigir Khan said strict action would be taken against the official for breaching the privilege of the senator.

Senator Bilour said his privilege had been breached by an official of commerce ministry.

Pakistan - PPP Senator lashes at national internal security policy


PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar has said that the national internal security policy (NISP) announced early last year was seriously flawed that failed to acknowledge that internal security
policy is driven by a nation’s external security policy and that was why it was a non starter and the government itself did not believe in it.
The NISP unrealistically promised to reform 23, 000 madrassah in just one year, complete a host of legal reforms in 6 months and bring all 33 intelligence agencies under one roof but nothing had been done,
even it was not brought before the Parliament despite persistent demands.
A state’s Internal security policy cannot be de-linked from its external security policy he said and as long as a state pursues questionable external security policy goals its internal security policy will continue to confused, directionless and even counterproductive, he said.
Re-incarnation of the banned outfit LeT re-emerge as JuD as a humanitarian organization, the emergence of Moulana Masood Azhar of the banned Jaish Muhammad and the public declaration by Asmatulah Muawiya to direct his guns at Afghanistan without being challenged by the state demonstrate that we still cherish dubious external security goals. Pursuit of such external security objectives cannot help advance the cause of our internal security policy objectives, he said.
The NISP policy fails to address the issue of banned militant groups which have re-appeared under different names and as charities.
He said the claim to reform 23,000 madaris in just one year was laughable as the government has admitted in reply to parliamentary questions that record of thousands of registered madaris not available, which madaris received foreign funding and which one promoted extremism.
He said that NISP described ISI namely as also law enforcement agency and asked since when it had been made a law enforcing agency. The ISI was a premier intelligence agency that performed certain roles but law enforcement was not one of them. The law enforcement agencies are created by law and are subject to law but the Parliament had not yet made any law for the intelligence agency.
On another motion on civil service reforms he said that one reason for it was the appointment of non-cadre officers against cadre posts that bred resentment in the entire cadre.
Giving example he said the cadre post of DG of Military Lands and Cantonments which was a grade 21 post of the MLC cadre had been occupied for the past over 16 years by non-cadre officers that has demoralized the entire service.
He said that DG is BS 21 civilian cadre post of the ML&C Department and appointments to it are made by the Public Service Commission through CSS exams. Since 1924 the post has been held by civilian officer of the department representing the federal government until General Musharraf soon after take over appointed a serving military officer to it in 1999.
The continued retention of civilian cadre posts by a non-cadre officer is illegal, a violation of the Supreme Court order, a recipe to demoralize and undermine civilian structures and above all a conflict of interest, he said and called for a reversal of the illegal policy.