Sunday, April 5, 2015

Music - Afshan Zebi - Chalo Koi Gall Nain

Afshan Zebi - Lokan Do Do Yaar Banaye

Pashto Music - Monga Da Khyber Zalmi


Pashto Music - Sardar Ali Takkar KA ZA NOOR YEM POETRY AHMAD SHAH BABA

Dawn Richard - Blow

Pharrell Williams - Happy

Billy Joel - We Didn't Start the Fire

Czech president bans U.S ambassador from Prague Castle: media
President Milos Zeman has "closed the door" of Prague Castle to the U.S. ambassador following comments perceived as critical of the Czech's decision to attend a World War Two commemoration in Moscow, according to local media reports on Sunday.
European Union leaders are boycotting the ceremony in May over Russia's role in theUkraine conflict but Zeman -- who has frequently departed from the EU line -- has said he would attend.
"I can’t imagine the Czech ambassador in Washington would give advice to the American president where to travel," Zeman told news portal Parlamentni Listy. "I won’t let any ambassador have a say about my foreign travels."
"Ambassador (Andrew) Schapiro has the door to the castle closed."
A presidential spokesman told local media that Schapiro could still attend social events at Prague Castle, the official residence of the Czech president.
Schapiro told Czech television earlier this week it would be "awkward" should Zeman attend the ceremony as the only statesmen from an EU country.
Zeman, a former prime minister, has frequently departed from the common EU line onUkraine and criticized sanctions against Moscow. The government, which is responsible for foreign policy, however, has held the EU line fully.

The Czech presidency is largely a ceremonial role but Zeman - who was the first president directly elected when he took office in 2013 - is outspoken on his views on both domestic and foreign policy.

Robert De Niro: Hillary Clinton Should Be the Next President

Marlow Stern 
The acting legend puts his support behind Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential run in an interview with The Daily Beast.

Robert De Niro is a great many things. He’s a screen icon with a pair of Oscars and close to 100 films under his belt, including classics like Taxi DriverRaging Bull, and Goodfellas. He’s an entrepreneur who has, through real estate ventures and the Tribeca Film Festival, helped revitalize Lower Manhattan in the wake of 9/11. He’s a longtime supporter of the Democratic Party, having endorsed Al Gore, John Kerry, and Barack Obama for president. And he also might be a psychic.
You see, back in December 2006, De Niro was busy doing promotional stops for his directorial effort The Good Shepherd. One of his appearances was on Hardball with Chris Matthews, where he appeared opposite star Matt Damon. It was filmed at George Mason University, and in front of a crowd of thousands, De Niro was asked who he’d like to see as president of the United States. 
His answer? “Well, I think of two people: Hillary Clinton and Obama.”
“I think that she’s paid her dues. There are going to be no surprises, and [Clinton] has earned the right to be president and the head of the country at this point. It’s that simple.”
On Wednesday afternoon, I had the pleasure of sitting down with De Niro and his Tribeca partner Jane Rosenthal to discuss the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, which this year boasts a very formidable lineup including live events, star-studded film premieres, and talks featuring the likes of George Lucas, Christopher Nolan, the Monty Python crew, and a 25th anniversary Goodfellasdiscussion with the cast moderated by The Daily Show’’s Jon Stewart. Our talk eventually veered to his prophetic 2006 Hardball appearance, and whether or not he’ll be endorsing Hillary Clintonfor president in 2016.
“Hopefully it will be her, yes,” said De Niro. “I think that she’s paid her dues. There are going to be no surprises, and she has earned the right to be president and the head of the country at this point. It’s that simple. And she’s a woman, which is very important because her take on things may be what we need right now.”

“She’s smart, has run things before, and knows how government works and how to get things done,” added Rosenthal. “She’s watched it from the sidelines, and the frontlines.”
Last November, De Niro joined Clinton in being honored at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights annual gala. The actor received recognition for his philanthropy, while Clinton was the night’s chief honoree for her “long career in public service” and “deep commitment to human rights.”

Music Video - Eminem - Not Afraid

Video Report - What role did other countries play in Iran nuclear talks?

ISIL Militants in Syria Destroy Christian Church on Easter Sunday

Militants from the Islamic State blew up the Church of the Virgin Mary in northeastern Syria on Sunday morning, Syrian Arab News Agency reports.The church, located in the village of Tal Nasri, Hasakah province, was blown up as Syrian Christians celebrated the Easter holiday. Local sources told SANA that militants destroyed the church via explosives planted inside.
The Church of the Virgin Mary was built in 1934, and underwent a restoration in 2005. The church was one of three in the area, which has recently been overrun by ISIL militants.
ISIL fighters have been known for carrying out destructive rampages against Muslim and Christian holy sites, regularly destroying churches and mosques across the country, along with ancient historical heritage sites. In February, ISIL militants in the city of Tel Hermosa, Hasakah province destroyed one of Syria's oldest churches. Militants are reported to have attacked over a dozen churches in Syrian territories under their control. Last month, ISIL militants destroyed a 15th century Catholic monastery in the city of Mosul, Iraq; earlier, militants in Mosul burned down a church built in the 3rd Century.

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Obama Strongly Defends Iran Nuclear Deal


President Obama strongly defended last week’s preliminary agreement with Iran as a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to curb the spread of nuclear weapons in a dangerous region while reassuring critics that he would keep all options available if Tehran ultimately cheated.
As he sought to sell the tentative deal to skeptics accusing him of giving away too much, Mr. Obama emphasized to Israel that “we’ve got their backs” in the face of Iranian hostility. And he suggested that he could accept some sort of vote in Congress if it did not block his ability to carry out the agreement.
“This is our best bet by far to make sure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon,” Mr. Obama said in an interview with Thomas L. Friedman, an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times, on Saturday. “What we will be doing even as we enter into this deal is sending a very clear message to the Iranians and to the entire region that if anybody messes with Israel, America will be there.”
In the interview, Mr. Obama provided new details about how international inspectors would try to access suspected covert nuclear sites and the sequence that would lead to sanctions being lifted. Both were major issues in the last days of negotiations in Switzerland, and Mr. Obama’s descriptions differed in key respects from Iran’s interpretations.
That gap suggested the hardest moments in the negotiations may yet be ahead, given that commitments made last week must still be enshrined in a written document signed by all parties by June 30. But Mr. Obama seemed to gain breathing space as Republicans signaled they would give him until then to see what the final deal looks like before directly intervening.
The president’s comments came as the White House embarked on a campaign to sell a preliminary agreement that he hopes will transform security in the Middle East. Under the framework, negotiated with the United States and five other world powers, Iran agreed to scale back its nuclear program significantly for 10 to 15 years and accept intense international inspections. In exchange, the United States and the international community would lift sanctions that have punished the Iranian economy.
While in theory preventing Iran from being able to quickly build a bomb, the agreement leaves it with a nuclear program in place, even if much diminished, drawing criticism from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Republican leaders in Congress as well as skepticism from Arab allies and many Democrats.
“Not a single centrifuge is destroyed,” Mr. Netanyahu said Sunday on “State of the Union” on CNN. “Not a single nuclear facility is shut down, including the underground facilities that they build illicitly. Thousands of centrifuges will keep spinning, enriching uranium. That’s a very bad deal.”
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a possible Republican presidential candidate, said it was “probably the best deal that Barack Obama could get with the Iranians because the Iranians don’t fear” him. “Hillary Clinton could do better,” he added, as could all the Republican candidates “except maybe Rand Paul.”
But Mr. Graham said he would wait to see how the final agreement looked. “I don’t mind giving the administration the time between now and June to put this deal together,” he said on “Face the Nation” on CBS.
In the interview, the president struck a conciliatory note after weeks of open tension with Mr. Netanyahu, a clash that has worried even some White House advisers. Mr. Obama said “I respect” Mr. Netanyahu’s security argument and agreed that Israelis “have every right to be concerned about Iran,” a country that has threatened “to destroy Israel, that has denied the Holocaust, that has expressed venomous anti-Semitic ideas.”
He pledged to redouble support for Israeli security. “I would consider it a failure on my part, a fundamental failure of my presidency, if on my watch, or as a consequence of work that I had done, Israel was rendered more vulnerable,” he said. Similarly, he said he wanted to use a meeting he has called at Camp David to “formalize” security assistance for Arab allies threatened by Iran.
While still resisting what he deemed congressional interference, Mr. Obama reached out to Republicans, calling Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, a “good and decent man.” He did not embrace Mr. Corker’s legislation to give Congress the right to approve or reject the deal. But when asked about a nonbinding vote, the president appeared supportive.
“My hope is that we can find something that allows Congress to express itself but does not encroach on traditional presidential prerogatives and ensures that if in fact we get a good deal that we can go ahead and implement it,” Mr. Obama said.
Mr. Corker, appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” immediately rejected the idea of a nonbinding vote. “There is strong bipartisan support for a binding vote by Congress,” he said. “Look, the president needs to sell this to the American people, and Congress needs to be involved in this way.”
Under the agreement, Iran would limit enrichment of uranium at its Natanz facility to a level useful only for civilian purposes; cut back the number of installed centrifuges by approximately two thirds; convert its Fordo deep-underground enrichment facility into a research center; and modify its Arak heavy-water reactor to render it incapable of producing plutonium for a bomb.
But the structure of international inspections was left vague, as was the timing for lifting sanctions.
Mr. Obama said that inspectors would be able to watch “the entire nuclear chain” and that a “procurement committee” would examine Iranian imports to be sure equipment would be appropriate for peaceful nuclear uses, not a weapon. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, he said, “can go anyplace.”
But the administration has been vague about how to define “anyplace,” and Iran has said it would not be required to allow inspections of military bases.
“Iran could object,” Mr. Obama acknowledged, “but what we have done is to try to design a mechanism whereby once those objections are heard, that is not a final veto that Iran has but in fact some sort of international mechanism will be in place that makes a fair assessment.”
Mr. Obama said sanctions would be lifted only after Iran lives up to its commitments. “There are still details to be worked out,” he said, “but I think that the basic framework calls for Iran to take the steps that it needs to around Fordo, the centrifuges and so forth. At that point, then the U.N. sanctions are suspended.”
He said the United States would “preserve the ability to snap back those sanctions if there is a violation.” And he added that separate sanctions imposed for other reasons, namely Iran’s sponsorship of terrorists and its ballistic missile program, would remain in place.
Administration officials said they envisioned Iran being able to take the required steps within months or a year of an agreement, at which point nuclear-related economic sanctions would be removed. But a major sticking point in the coming months will be the issue of additional sanctions imposed for other reasons.
Mr. Obama said almost nothing about how the United States and its allies would force Iran to answer questions about suspected past work on weapons designs. For years, Iran has blocked inspectors from visiting laboratories where such work is believed to have been conducted.
Mr. Obama presented the nuclear agreement in broader terms. He admitted that he remained uncertain about the intentions of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, with whom he has exchanged letters. “He’s a pretty tough read,” Mr. Obama said. The ayatollah’s letters, he said, are filled with “a lot of reminders of what he perceives as past grievances against Iran.”
But Mr. Obama said it was telling that the ayatollah allowed his negotiators to make concessions, and he held out hope that the agreement would empower more moderate figures, although he said he was not counting on it.
“Who knows?” he added. “Iran may change.” But if not, he said, the United States retains “the most firepower” to address any contingencies.
“It’s not as if in all these conversations, I’m leaving all my, you know, rifles at the door,” he said.
Asked about an Obama Doctrine, he said: “The doctrine is we will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities. And I’ve been very clear that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon on my watch, and I think they should understand that we mean it. But I say that hoping that we can conclude this diplomatic arrangement and that it ushers in a new era in U.S.-Iranian relations.”

Video - The Obama Doctrine and Iran

Thomas L. Friedman,
In September 1996, I visited Iran. One of my most enduring memories of that trip was that in my hotel lobby there was a sign above the door proclaiming “Down With USA.” But it wasn’t a banner or graffiti. It was tiled and plastered into the wall. I thought to myself: “Wow — that’s tiled in there! That won’t come out easily.” Nearly 20 years later, in the wake of a draft deal between the Obama administration and Iran, we have what may be the best chance to begin to pry that sign loose, to ease the U.S.-Iran cold/hot war that has roiled the region for 36 years. But it is a chance fraught with real risks to America, Israel and our Sunni Arab allies: that Iran could eventually become a nuclear-armed state.
President Obama invited me to the Oval Office Saturday afternoon to lay out exactly how he was trying to balance these risks and opportunities in the framework accord reached with Iran last week in Switzerland. What struck me most was what I’d call an “Obama doctrine” embedded in the president’s remarks. It emerged when I asked if there was a common denominator to his decisions to break free from longstanding United States policies isolating Burma, Cuba and now Iran. Obama said his view was that “engagement,” combined with meeting core strategic needs, could serve American interests vis-à-vis these three countries far better than endless sanctions and isolation. He added that America, with its overwhelming power, needs to have the self-confidence to take some calculated risks to open important new possibilities — like trying to forge a diplomatic deal with Iran that, while permitting it to keep some of its nuclear infrastructure, forestalls its ability to build a nuclear bomb for at least a decade, if not longer.

How one Yazidi girl fled the clutches of her Isis captors and embarked on the winding road to recovery


Evening deepened over the Islamic State-held city of Fallujah as Amel, 18, and Jwan, 17, peered out of the window of a two-storey villa, watching the passing cars and wondering how they would escape unseen. "If I'm martyred," their Isis captor had told them before he went out to fight, "you will die in this house because I have locked the door."
The girls scoured the cupboards for anything that might help them; Jwan grabbed a small, jewelled watch left by the house's previous owners, a family displaced when Isis took control of the city last year.
"I thought maybe I could flee without Daesh [the Arabic acronym for Isis] seeing me, but perhaps I would be caught and would have to stay there," says Amel (an alias, meaning "hope" in Kurdish, to protect her identity). Short, with a round face and light wavy, hair, she tells her story in a quiet but determined voice. "I had many bad thoughts."
Using a stolen phone, the girls called their families. "We can break the door open," Amel told her relatives, "but we don't know where to go." Their families sent a driver who circled the city, looking for them; as soon as the girls were able to speak to him via the phone, they acted: "We looked for a knife and broke the lock on the door." After 20 days in Mosul and a week in Fallujah, they were free.
They were driven to a safe house, before being hidden in the driver's house the next day. But this was only the beginning. The recovery process for Amel and Jwan will be much longer and harder.
Amel visits the Yazidi holy town of LallishAmel visits the Yazidi holy town of Lallish (Ali Arkady)
The girls are part of the Yazidi minority religion whose faith shares elements of Islam, Christianity and Zoroastrianism, and whose adherents worship an angel in the form of a peacock. Hundreds of thousands of Yazidis live in northern Iraq, home to the holy, conically domed temple in Lallish; last summer, Isis branded them pagans, singling them out for murder, rape and enslavement as they tore through the region.
While the world's media focused on the plight of the tens of thousands of Yazidis trapped on Sinjar mountain, Amel, Jwan (also an alias) and many other Yazidi women and girls were captured by men loyal to Isis, who bragged in a propaganda video about enslaving them. One man said to camera, "Today is the slave market, God willing." Amel's story is one of many told by her community of displacement, horror and slavery. Yazidis say 4,000 of their women and girls are in the hands of Isis. Raped and abused, many have also been forced to marry and to convert to Islam.
On the day of their capture, in early August last year, Amel and Jwan had gathered under the shade of trees with their relatives a few miles from Tel Azer, a small town near Sinjar in Iraq's north-west. It was hot, and Amel and her older brother Khero had been walking hand-in-hand, chatting. "Families came to the trees and the water near the farms to drink and wash," recalls Jwan's older brother, Haso. Then, just before noon, a group of bearded fighters stormed the resting families. They were tall and spoke in Arabic. Amel says that at first, "They told us they wouldn't do anything to us. 'We will just bring you to a house,' they said."
A depiction of the holy Yazidi peacock on the trail to meet Baba SheikhA depiction of the holy Yazidi peacock on the trail to meet Baba Sheikh (Ali Arkady)
The Isis fighters separated the women from the men. "They took my brother," says Amel. "He called out to me; I tried not to cry. He wanted to save me." Khero had married six months earlier. His wedding photo shows him with a loosened collar and red tie, reaching out to touch the cheek of his wife. "Later, my mother found him with many other dead men," says Amel, looking down. "She tried to talk to him but he didn't respond."
From Tel Azer, Amel and Jwan were taken with around 50 other women and girls to Mosul, Iraq's second-biggest city, where last summer Isis's leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, declared a caliphate stretching across plundered parts of Iraq and Syria. Inside a large, uncomfortable house, the girls were divided into groups. "For 20 days I didn't go outside or see the sun or have any fresh air," Amel says. She lost count of how many others were there. When fighters came to take Jwan away, she cried and asked for Amel. Together, they were given as gifts to Isis fighters in Fallujah.
Abu Hassan and Abu Jaffa, who Amel says was an Isis commander, left the house every evening to fight. "We were given food once a day and little drinking water. We couldn't sleep because we were scared." The girls were raped in the same room as each other, Amel adds quietly. "Sometimes I'd cry… I'd say, 'I don't like it here,' but Abu Hassan said: 'If you say that, I will separate you from Jwan. If you want to be freed, call your father and mother, tell them to convert to Islam and after that I will give you back.'"
On escaping their captors, the girls wore long black abayas and niqabs and travelled to Baghdad, where they were reunited with other Yazidis before flying home to the Kurdistan region. Jwan's mother recalls being reunited with her daughter: "I couldn't stand up and walk, I was so happy." Her father bought a sheep to slaughter, in celebration.
At home, the girls faced new challenges: their families live in camps for the displaced where rumours and teasing are rife. Yazidi culture is fiercely traditional; those who convert to other religions are cast out. But because of the scale of this new trauma, Yazidi leaders have publicly embraced escapees from Isis captivity who in many cases have been raped, tortured and forced to convert to Islam. "We know these women were forced [to convert] so we respect them. They didn't give consent," Ido Baba Sheikh, the brother of Baba Sheikh, the Yazidi spiritual leader, has said.
After her return, Amel would faint when asked to retell her story. She did not return to school, too haunted by what she had been through. Compounding her sadness, she says other Yazidis in the camp "speak badly about me; they say I am not good, that I am not a virgin". Amel and Jwan did not know each other well before their ordeal, but afterwards kept in close contact, calling or texting each other every day.
Five months on, Amel is in a small town north of Mosul to meet Baba Sheikh. It is evening, and few remain in the courtyard of his home. He wears white robes and sits cross-legged at the end of a long room where Yazidis come to pay their respects. Amel kisses his hand and asks his advice on dealing with the unkind remarks. He tells her to be brave and strong.
The next day, cloaked by the chill of dawn, Amel pads in stockinged feet into the large hall of the Lallish temple. There is snow on the surrounding mountains and here in the base of the valley, the stone paving slabs outside are slippery and damp. She kneels and kisses the holy threshold. Her thoughts are constantly drawn to Sinjar and to what she has lost. "I think about when we used to go to the temple. I remember the road from Sinjar to my home," she smiles, and tells me about a recent trip to Sinjar Mountain on a road retaken from Isis. "It was like going back home, but I remembered all the bad experiences because I was very close." Before she left for the two-day trip, her mother worried about losing her again, "Please come back safely, otherwise I can't live," she told Amel.
Yazidi men from Sinjar sit and talk in a camp for the displaced near the northern city of ZakhoYazidi men from Sinjar sit and talk in a camp for the displaced near the northern city of Zakho (Ali Arkady)
A month later, Amel is waiting in the lobby of a five-star hotel in Erbil, capital of the Kurdistan region. Her hands are adorned with small golden rings and she wears a loose-fitting, green and white polka-dot blouse. She is setting out for Stuttgart, where she will receive permanent residency, education, and medical and psychological help, under an initiative for traumatised Yazidi girls and women introduced by the German state of Baden-Württemberg. Jwan will go with her to receive the same care.
At 5ft, Amel looks lost among the German officials and minders in the hotel's restaurant, as she sips water and shows me her jewellery. To the tinkling of teacups as the buffet trays are packed away, she says that, "I want to go to school, to see [Germany], the people." But, she adds, if her parents miss her too much, she will return to Kurdistan.
Sitting up, she says she is not afraid of the journey ahead. "Before, I was sometimes scared of things in life. Now, after this torture, I am not scared of anything." Yet later, showing me Khero's wedding pictures, she breaks down into her small, cupped hands; her bravado slips away and she is a scared child again, traumatised and on the cusp of an immense journey.
As soon as they returned from their ordeal, the girls went to Lallish to be blessed and cleansed in the holy spring below the temple. Inside, Amel bent down in the dank, underground chamber and doused herself four times. "I prayed," she says now. "I said this is not our fault. We are not guilty. It is because of Daesh, and we tried our best. I asked for forgiveness."

Mideast's religious minorities at risk of 'genocide'

Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities in the Middle East are being targeted and some are facing a possible "genocide" by Islamic State militants, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the UN on Friday.

Speaking at a UN Security Council debate, Fabius said an "action charter" was needed to address the threat from the Islamic State group.
"We are witnessing a true genocide," Fabius said. "The Islamic State group in particular kills, enslaves or exiles people who don't think like them, especially Christians. It's not enough to raise awareness – we need to implement concrete solutions to protect these vulnerable populations."
The Islamic State militants active in Iraq, Syria and Libya have specifically targeted religious minorities. The UN has said that the Sunni group's attacks on the Yazidis – which have included thesale or enslavement of Yazidi women and girls, and the forcible recruitment of child soldiers – mayamount to genocide. The Islamic State group was also behind the beheadings of 20 Coptic Christiansin Libya last month.
"The danger is that minorities will disappear entirely," Fabius said. "The international community must not let that happen."
Iraq was home to 1.4 million Christians in 1987, Fabius said, but only 400,000 remain.
The foreign minister called for more humanitarian aid to help minorities return to their homes and said US-led coalition forces battling the Islamic State group must make protecting religious groups a "primary goal".
Vian Dakhil, a Yazidi member of the Iraqi parliament, asked the Security Council to adopt a resolution formally declaring the violence targeting her community a genocide.
More than 420,000 of Iraq's 600,000 Yazidis have been forced from their homes and are now living in camps, Dakhil said.
Religious minorities have been on the "front line" in the fight against the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, which she said was now "the most dangerous terrorist organisation in the world".
"More than 2,000 Yazidis have been slaughtered in cold blood by ISIL for no reason except that we are Yazidis and we profess a religion that is different from ISIL," Dakhil said.
"Our women are being raped. Our girls are being sold. Our children are taken to places, we don't know for what," she said.
Fabius called for prosecutions before the International Criminal Court (ICC), a move that was blocked by Russia and China last year when the Security Council sought accountability for events in Syria.
UN rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein urged the 15-member council to overcome its differences and refer Iraq and Syria to the international court.
"The delicate mosaic is being shattered, and this Security Council must take action, unanimously and decisively, to end the conflicts and refer Iraq and Syria to the ICC," said Hussein.


Leaders of Joint Action Committee, Women Action Forum & Civil Society have urged that Pakistan has nothing to do with Yemens' War and suggested that instead of being a part, Pakistan should be an arbitrary to Saudi Arabia and Iran resolving Crisis in Yemen through negotiations. Parliamentarians in Parliament should call upon a a Joint Conference developing a policy to stay unbiased in the region resolving tensions in the Middle East to bring world peace instead of sending troops to Saudi Arabia, said a social worker, Anis Haroon in a press conference.
The Press conference included Dr. Riaz Ahmed Sheikh, Farah Parveen, Saeed Baloch, Minhaz ul Rehman and others.
They addressed that Pakistan is already facing many issues lest terrorism with army already over whelmed fighting terrorist in the country through zarb-e-azb. In-fluxing another war on them would not be advisable. They pointed towards the rift between Saudi Arab and Iran, emphasizing the importance of arbitration to resolve crisis in Yemen. Pakistan can play an important role on a diplomatic level rather sending the military to Saudia, as it will deter Pakistan domestically.
They said that Pakistan ought to weigh the situation as effects of post-afghan war are still evident in Pakistan. Sending troops to defend another state is against the constitution and Pakistan should consider this seriously. They urged the Security council to play it role by taking necessary measures.

2200 Yemenis Killed, Injured In Two Weeks: UN

Agencies belonging to the United Nations stated that more than 2200 Yemenis were killed and injured including nearly 100 children in the past two weeks.
Extremely concerned for the safety of civilians caught in the midst of “fierce fighting” in Yemen, the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator called on all parties involved to meet their obligations under international law and do their utmost to protect the ordinary women, children and men who are suffering the consequences of the conflict.
In a statement issued by her office last Thursday, Valerie Amos, who is also the Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said reports from humanitarian partners in different parts of the country indicate that some 519 people have been killed and nearly 1,700 injured in the past two weeks – over 90 of them children.
Further, Ms. Amos said tens of thousands of people have fled their homes, some by crossing the sea to Djibouti and Somalia. Electricity, water and essential medicines are in short supply.
“Those engaged in fighting must ensure that hospitals, schools, camps for refugees and those internally displaced and civilian infrastructure, especially in populated areas, are not targeted or used for military purposes,” she said.
Despite the grave dangers, she continued, United Nations agencies and humanitarian partners are coordinating with the Yemen Red Crescent and local authorities to deliver emergency health kits, generators so that people can get clean water, food and blankets.
“Before this recent escalation in the violence, millions of Yemenis were already extremely vulnerable. I hope that peace, security and stability will be restored as soon as possible,” Ms. Amos concluded.
The Emergency Relief Coordinator’s statement on the rising tide of violence in Yemen and the plight faced by civilians in the crisis-gripped country joins warnings issued by host of UN officials throughout the week, including Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, who just yesterday drew attention to the mounting number of child casualties, and urged all parties involved in military operations to “avoid creating new risks” for Yemen’s children and to adhere to international law.
In addition, this past Tuesday, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the situation in Yemen was extremely alarming, with dozens of civilians killed over the past four days, echoing a statement issued later that day by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Spokesperson.
“The country seems to be on the verge of total collapse,” High Commissioner Zeid warned, calling on all sides to protect civilians from harm, and to resolve their differences through dialogue rather than through the use of military force.,-injured-in-two-weeks-un.html

Lebanese Military Analyst: Saudi regime will defeat in the war against Yemen

A senior Lebanese expert in military and strategic affairs underlined that the Saudi regime will surely face defeat in the war it has waged against Yemen.
"If we consider military and strategic rules in the current Saudi aggression against Yemen, we will come to believe that defeat definitely awaits the Saudi regime (in Yemen)," retired Lebanese army Brigadier General Amin Hotait told.
Although Riyadh can slaughter Yemeni people and destroy the country, it will never reach its objectives in this war, the analyst added.
He emphasized that Saudi Arabia will be caught in the flames it has ignited in Yemen, adding that in the coming weeks the Al Saud will regret its "stupid decision and criminal act of aggression".
On March 26, Saudi Arabia and some of its Arab allies began to militarily interfere in Yemen's internal affairs by launching deadly air strikes against the Houthi movement in an attempt to restore power to fugitive Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh.
Iran has slammed the offensive as a violation of Yemen's territorial integrity and called for a halt to the assaults against Yemen, which have killed hundreds of civilians and injured thousands more.

President Barack Obama on Tweeting and Smartphones

Published on Mar 13, 2015

Russia and Red Cross appeal for 'humanitarian pause' in Yemen

Video Report - Top Democrat: Iran deal no threat to Israel

Video Report - Netanyahu: I respect President Obama

President Obama's Weekly Address: Reaching a Comprehensive and Long-Term Deal on Iran’s Nuclear Program

Music Video - Nazia Hassan - Boom Boom

Music Video - Nazia & Zoheb - Disco Deewane

Pakistan - Poliovirus: New case reported in Peshawar

Another case of poliovirus was reported in the provincial capital on Friday night.
Sixteen-month-old Ismail, a resident of Hayatabad, was tested positive for the virus. At least 21 polio cases have been reported so far in 2015 in Pakistan.

50th Birth anniversary of Nazia Hassan observed

The birth anniversary of Iconic Pop Singer Nazia Hassan was observed on Friday.
Nazia was the first Pakistani to win a Film fare Award and remains the youngest winner of a Filmfare Award in the category of Best Female Playback Singer to date.

Childhood Lost: Pakistan's underage workforce

By Crative: Eesha Azam

A child’s hands are meant to hold books and pencils. But throughout history we have witnessed how some children have been forced to pick up tools and brooms and shoulder some of the burden to turn the wheels of the economy. During the 1700s and 1800s children formed an active portion of Britain’s labour force. Most were employed as domestic servants, in textile mills or at railway stations, ship yards or coal mines.
Worst of all, children below the age of nine or 10, mostly orphaned, were bought by Master Sweeps to climb up chimneys and sweep them. This cruel act resulted either in death, irreversible lung damage due to soot or the formation of calluses on hands, elbows and feet. It wasn’t until Joseph Glass, an engineer from Bristol, England, invented a chimney-sweeping machine that children were spared from performing this life-threatening task. While the West has made considerable efforts to eliminate child labour — defined by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development — from its shores, this hasn’t stopped companies from outsourcing manufacturing to lesser developed nations, such as Pakistan, where child labour is still endemic.
Pakistan’s underage workforce
The last nationwide survey on child labour conducted in 1996 by the Federal Bureau of Statistics, with technical support from the ILO, found that 3.3 million children out of 40 million children, between the ages five and 14, are economically active in Pakistan. The figure is composed of approximately 73% boys and 27% girls. According to the survey, the most cogent reasons parents or guardians give for allowing their child to work included assisting in household enterprises, supplementing the household income and because no one else was available to do household chores.
A child fixing a motorcycle headlight on the footpath. PHOTO: ARIF SOOMRO
For many belonging to Pakistan’s next generation, opting for labour at an early age is the only way to survive. After his father passed away, 12-year-old Aziz’s family was left struggling to pay off loans so he took up work at a brick kiln near Jhallo Park in Lahore. “Sometimes more than food and water, I dream of getting my childhood back,” says Aziz. “I look at other boys playing with cricket bats on the streets and I wish I could join them, even if it is just for one day.”
According to Aziz, who works from the first light of day to midnight, his employer beats him with a cane every week. “I take home $3 (approximately Rs300) a day on average, but the smile on my mother’s face when I see her at night makes up for what I have endured throughout the day,” he says.
Lahore, Karachi, Sialkot, Multan, Peshawar and Loralai, amongst others, are key cities in the country where child labour is rampant. An ILO survey showed that in the absence of any effective legislation against child labour in Balochistan there are approximately 500 child mine workers in Loralai, some below the age of eight. In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), there are approximately 1.5 million children currently employed, reports the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child, an Islamabad-based child rights organisation.
Fareeha, who lives in Orangi Town, Karachi, has a similar story to share. After her 31-year-old brother, employed as a goldsmith, passed away due to jaundice, she took up work as a domestic helper alongside her mother. “My father is unemployed and sleeps most of the time. When he is awake, he just roams the streets all day,” she says. But unlike Aziz and many others who suffer physical and sexual abuse at the hands of their employer, Fareeha says her employers have been kind to her. “She (her employer) treats us like her own family, gives us clothes and offers us the same food they eat, so I don’t miss going to school,” she adds. “We cannot afford to educate her with just a single source of income in any case,” reasons Fareeha’s mother, Mona. “So it is better that she comes to work with me and does something useful rather than getting involved in other harmful activities behind my back,” she adds.
A lucrative option
Despite a number of laws prohibiting child labour or regulating the working conditions of child and adolescent workers, including The Factories Act 1934, The West Pakistan Shops and Establishments Ordinance 1969, The Employment of Children Act 1991, The Bonded Labour System Abolition Act 1992 and The Punjab Compulsory Education Act 1994, little progress has been made in the way of holding individuals accountable. Employers, therefore, especially companies, continue to circumvent the law and hire cheap labour for greater profit margins in local and international markets.
Multinationals are notorious for hiring cheap labour in developing nations. The multibillion dollar sportswear company Nike, for instance, came under heavy criticism for being associated with child labour. In 2006, when the company was accused of supplying footballs stitched by children in Pakistan, it sacked its supplier and defended its position by claiming that verification of age in countries such as Pakistan is exceedingly challenging.
The sporting goods industry in Sialkot has been in the line of fire for decades for employing child labour to make goods that are sold in the international market for a fortune. The Adidas Brazuca used during the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil was stitched in a factory in Sialkot, but it is still unclear whether children were part of its manufacturing process. “When I used to make the footballs, I would wish I could play with them one day as well,” says nine-year-old Kabir, who along with his father was involved in the manufacture of footballs in Sialkot until the factory they worked in was raided.
That hasn’t stopped Kabir from pursuing work elsewhere. He joined a carpet factory with his father to support his seven siblings. “The hours are still very long and my fingers really hurt with carpet weaving,” he shares. “When I hear that my carpets are being sold for thousands of rupees in malls, I dream that someday we will also be able to afford a carpet to decorate our home.”
Battling child labour
With growing global awareness — the ILO launched the World Day Against Child Labour in 2002 to focus attention on the global extent of child labour — and media scrutiny, it is becoming increasingly difficult for countries and multinationals to blanket child labour. Many have faced severe consequences as a result. “The economic repercussions cannot be overlooked by Pakistan,” says Dr Ali Khan, chairperson of the Social Sciences and Humanities Department at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. “A recent example includes Walt Disney, a leading US entertainment company, which stopped placing orders with Pakistani textile houses due to labour issues in the country. The annual loss [suffered by Pakistan] as a result of this decision is estimated to be between $150 million and $200 million,” he says.
In Pakistan, 3.3 million children out of 40 million children, between the ages five and 14, are economically active.  PHOTO: ARIF SOOMRO
As a result, the government of Punjab partnered with the ILO to implement a seven-year project to eliminate child labour, particularly from brick kilns, worth approximately Rs5,159 million. This project involves “integration, networking and coordination among various provincial departments and district offices, strengthening legislation, capacity building of project/government staff to ensure effective service delivery through monitoring and knowledge sharing and promotion of good practices with other provinces,” states the ILO. The project takes into account the results and lessons learnt during ILO’s 20-year collaboration with the government on various child labour and bonded labour interventions in Pakistan, reports the ILO. Unlike many initiatives that aim to simply free children from bonded labour, this project aims to rehabilitate freed bonded labour and empower affected families economically. According to the government of Pakistan, so far 8,000 child and bonded labourers have been rehabilitated. “The government of Balochistan is also using its resources to address similar issues in the province,” adds the ILO.
Under the 18th amendment, child rights fall under the domain of provinces. Along with Punjab, K-P’s provincial government also presented the K-P Prohibition of Employment of Children Bill 2015 and K-P Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Bill 2015 before the assembly on March 24 and aims to end the employment of children in the province.
Attempts have also been made at an individual level to break free from child labour. Iqbal Masih from Muridke, in Shaikhupura district in Punjab, is a striking example of a child slave who became a child activist fighting bonded labour. At the age of four he was sold into bondage by his family to pay off the Rs600 they had borrowed from the owner of a carpet factory. After Masih miraculously escaped from his slavery twice, he joined the Bonded Labour Liberation Front and helped more than 3,000 children escape a similar plight. At the age of 12, however, he was shot dead but has managed to inspire countless others to carry forward his legacy in the country.
Poverty around the world is known to exacerbate child labour and create inter-generational poverty traps. Children who forgo an education to contribute to the family income give up the dream of a better future. These children are exploited by employers who support and encourage child labour to further their gains. In the long run, however, this will adversely impact the country’s economy with a smaller skilled labour force.
Most child workers are victims of physical and sexual abuse. PHOTO: ARIF SOOMRO
Today, not only Pakistan but many developed nations who outsource manufacturing are guilty of robbing the country’s youngest generation the right to a childhood. While children will have their entire lives to work and earn once they turn 18, they only have a few years to enjoy the innocence of childhood.
Abolishing bonded labour
Pakistan has ratified a number of international covenants and conventions that proscribe slavery, forced labour and debt-bondage. The Bonded Labour system (Abolition) Act of 1992 was introduced with the avowed purpose of abolishing the bonded labour system, with a view of preventing the economic and physical exploitation of the labour class in the country and for matters connected to it.