Saturday, April 25, 2015

Video - President Obama jokes with journalists, celebs

Video - Yemen Clashes: Intense firefight erupts in Aden

More fighting, air strikes in Yemen, civilian death toll exceeds 550

Fighting between Yemen's warring factions raged in southern and central parts of the country and air strikes hit Houthi militia forces in Aden on Friday, but there were no fresh moves toward dialogue.
Saudi Arabia says it is winding down its month-old bombing operation against the Iran-allied Houthis and forces loyal to Yemen's former president. But Riyadh pounded targets with at least 20 airstrikes across Yemen on Thursday and 10 more on Friday.
The civilian death toll from the fighting and airstrikes since the bombing started on March 26 has reached an estimated 551 people, the United Nations said on Friday. Its children's agency UNICEF said at least 115 children were among the dead.
Washington and other Western countries backing the Saudi-led aerial campaign have grown increasingly worried about the humanitarian crisis on the ground and also about the risk of Sunni Muslim jihadist groups taking advantage of the chaos.
Islamic State, which has had little presence in Yemen, released late on Thursday a video it said showed members of the group in the country conducting military exercises and pledging to attack the Houthis, who are from the Zaydi Shi'ite sect.
Saudi Arabia has called a meeting with major U.N. aid agencies and others to discuss improving aid deliveries to Yemen, which have been hindered by the naval blockade, Saudi officials and U.N. sources said.
Violent clashes continued between the Houthis and local militias near the Khor Maksar district of Aden on Friday, residents said, as well as in Taiz and al-Dhala.
Heavy fighting in Marib province east of the Yemeni capital Sanaa killed 15 people, tribal sources there said, as the Houthi militia and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh tried to advance into the rugged Sirwah district.
Renewed airstrikes, days after Riyadh announced the end of its main bombing campaign, hit the 35th Brigade in Taiz, a Yemen army unit loyal to Saleh whose troops have clashed this week with militiamen supporting President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Four weeks of air raids have had limited impact on the lightly armed and mobile Houthi guerrilla fighters, but have significantly degraded army units loyal to Saleh, Western diplomats say.
Splitting the alliance between the Houthis and Saleh is seen as pivotal to any chance of success for the Saudi-led coalition in its goal of pushing the militia back towards its northern heartland, resuming peace talks and restoring Hadi to Sanaa.
Several army units have announced in recent days that they were pledging their loyalty to Hadi after fighting alongside Saleh or sitting on the sidelines. But those switches do not yet appear to have swung the balance of fighting on the ground.
Separately, a spokesman for Defence Minister Mahmoud al-Subaihi rejected on Friday as untrue local media reports that the Houthis had released him after weeks of detention.

Saudi bombing in Yemen still claiming civilian casualties, UN says

 Despite Saudi Arabia’s claims to have halted its air offensive over Yemen, Saudi bombing runs have killed dozens of civilians in recent days, United Nations officials said Friday.
“We have recorded a number of airstrikes that have hit military and civilian positions in Sanaa, Ibb, Hajja and Taiz,” Rupert Coleville, spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, told reporters. He said one incident on Wednesday in Ibb governorate killed 40 civilians, including seven children, when Saudi planes bombed a bridge then returned and bombed the bridge a second time.
“Civilians gathering to help those injured by the first airstrikes were reportedly hit by the second,” Colville said.
Similarly, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that airstrikes on Thursday hit areas in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, as well as Taiz, Aden, Sadaa and Al Dhale governorates. The airport in Aden was also bombed, the agency said.
In recent weeks, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, other U.N. officials and international human rights groups have warned that targeting of civilians not taking part in hostilities may amount to war crimes.
“It is imperative that all parties to the conflict protect civilians from the effects of the fighting in compliance with international humanitarian law,” said Johannes van der Klaauw, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Yemen.
Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday that it was ending its bombing campaign after 26 days. But U.N. officials said civilians have been killed in bombing raids since, and on Friday, Amnesty International called for an urgent investigation in the deaths of hundreds of civilians and the injury of thousands during “the relentless Saudi Arabia-led campaign of airstrikes across Yemen.”
Amnesty said it had documented eight strikes in five densely populated areas – Sadah, Sanaa, Hodeidah, Hajjah and Ibb – and said that “several of these strikes raise concerns about compliance” with international law.
In Washington, Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said the United States continues to refuel Saudi aircraft. “We are still flying a tanker a day to be available if needed,” he said. “It's like having a gas station in the sky.”
Col. Patrick Ryder, a spokesman for the U.S. Central Command, which overseas U.S. military operations in the Middle East, said Saudi Arabia had never promised to stop all bombing.
U.N. officials complained that a Saudi-led naval blockade of Yemen’s ports continues to hinder the distribution of life-saving drugs and medical supplies as well as food, fuel and other essentials.
“Humanitarian pauses are urgently needed to safely bring aid workers and supplies into the country and for aid to reach millions of people in need,” Klaauw said Thursday, repeating an appeal he first made April 10.
The humanitarian concerns were aired during a meeting Friday in Geneva between the Saudi ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva and senior officials from U.N. agencies, officials familiar with the meeting told McClatchy.
Colville said the number of civilians killed between March 26 and April 22 “is now estimated to be 551, including 31 women and at least 115 children. Another 1,185 civilians have been injured, including 35 women and 67 children.” Klaauw said more than 150,000 people have been forced from their homes.
Violence between forces loyal to exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who is backed by Saudi Arabia, and popular committees affiliated with the Houthi rebels, who are supported by Iran, also is claiming civilian victims, Colville said.
U.N. officials told McClatchy that while there was no formal complaint to the Saudis concerning the airstrikes, they have brought the matter up to the Saudi government informally.
The U.N. officials said Saudi Arabia has pledged to fund the total amount of the $274 million the U.N. has said it needs to provide humanitarian assistance in Yemen.

Read more here:

The Saudi War in Yemen -- and Against Women


In the latest runup-to-another-war news, the U.S. now has a dozen or more aircraft carriers and guided missile cruisers off the coast of Yemen. The reason we're once again rattling the sabre is to support Saudi Arabia, which is conducting military strikes against Iranian support for Yemeni rebels, even over President Obama's objections.
According to the Associated Press, an electronic billboard at an upscale Saudi mall mixes product ads with images of soaring F-16s in the background, while the new King Salman salutes the troops and declares his military manhood.
At the same time Salman declared war on the rebels, he also stepped up another longtime war -- the one his country has always waged on women. Even though our good friend Saudi Arabia is one of the most repressive regimes on earth when it comes to the rights of their female citizens, the U.S. has long ignored that particular little detail in supplying all kinds of support.
Glorifying the current military campaign has worked to solidify citizens behind the king and the gender-apartheid status quo. The nationalist fervor whipped up by the combat has put calls for advancing women's rights on hold. People are backing up their new king's military campaign and expressing support for maintaining the long-time suppression of women. The reasoning? It's inappropriate to talk about such trivial issues as women's rights while the country is at war.
One Saudi rights activist told the AP reporter that before the military action began, a group of academics and other women were planning to launch a campaign this month challenging Saudi Arabia's male guardianship laws. (A woman's first guardian is her father, and when she marries, her husband. If widowed or divorced, a male relative must step in -- and it could even be an underage son.) The guardian's consent is necessary before a female can attend university, get married, travel abroad, take certain jobs and have some types of surgery, especially if reproduction is involved.
The push for reform has been suspended indefinitely. Women say they're afraid of being branded traitors in a time of war if they advocate for change during the conflict.
Even before the attacks were launched, Saudi women were worried that King Salmanwould halt what little progress they were making under the previous king. They told reporters last month they had hopes, but would wait and see. Now they have their answer.
If Saudi women's equality must wait on the absence of conflict in the Middle East, it's going to be a very long wait indeed.
President Obama is willing to commit military resources to back up the Saudi war on Yemeni rebels. But when it comes to their war on women, like every U.S. president before him, the Supreme Commander is missing in action.

Music Video - Rihanna - Bitch Better Have My Money

Thousands protest in Croatian capital over government handling of hard-hit debtors

Video - Russian pro-Putin bikers set off on controversial "Victory Ride" to Berlin

How Google is endangering police officers

For the fifth year in a row in 2014, ambush attacks on police officers were the No. 1 cause of felonious deaths of law enforcement officers in the line of duty. Nevertheless, Google continues to market a smartphone application that lets lawbreakers pinpoint the location of police officers in the field. Google's executives won't even discuss the subject with organizations representing law enforcement.
Google's popular real-time traffic app, Waze, uses GPS navigation and crowdsourcing to alert users to traffic jams, automobile accidents, stalled cars, and through its "traffic cop" feature, the presence of law enforcement.
Most people undoubtedly use Waze's police-finding feature to avoid traffic tickets, but the app poses an enormous risk to deputies and police officers.
In the days before he assassinated New York police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu at point blank range while they sat in their patrol car last December, Ismaaiyl Brinsley is known to have used the Waze application to monitor the movements of police officers. The killer identified the location of police on his own Waze account and even posted screen captures to Instagram.
While Google (which acquired Waze in 2013 for a reported $1.1 billion) claims the app "is all about contributing to the 'common good' out there on the road," the risks far outweigh the potential benefits.
Every day, thousands of police officers and deputies enforce traffic laws, execute arrest and search warrants, investigate domestic violence complaints and perform countless tasks that are needed to keep our neighborhoods safe and remove criminals from the streets.
    It takes just a couple of clicks on Waze's "traffic cop" icon to identify their locations and indicate whether -- in the opinion of the anonymous user -- the officer is "visible" or "invisible." At that moment, the officer or deputy becomes an identifiable target whose whereabouts are available to any one of Waze's 50 million users worldwide.
    Social media has made enormous contributions to law enforcement as a "force multiplier" that lets citizens help police protect our communities. As we have seen with the emergence of crimes like identity theft, however, technology has the potential for evil as well as good.
    In the case of Waze, we are confronted with a tool that can be lethal to police officers and deputies, whose roles in society are to protect our citizens and enforce the laws that keep our communities safe.
    Google, whose stated mission is "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful," is now marketing an app with the potential to obstruct law enforcement and put the lives of police officers and deputies at risk.
    Even the more benign uses of Waze's "traffic cop" feature are concerning.
    In 2013, 10,076 people were killed in alcohol-related automobile accidents. And in 2011, 9,944 people lost their lives in speed-related fatal crashes. Is the highest, best use of Google's geo-mapping and crowdsourcing capabilities to help drunk drivers avoid checkpoints and give speeders assistance in evading speed limits?
    It's not just the speeders and drunk drivers who have access to the locations of police officers through Google's technology. Perpetrators of domestic violence can use it to find out about the presence of law enforcement in a spouse's neighborhood; gang members, narcotics dealers, even those intent on perpetrating an act of terror, all have access to Waze's "traffic cop" feature.
    Google has built a solid reputation as a good corporate neighbor, tying for first place in a 2013 study by the Reputation Institute measuring companies' reputations for corporate social responsibility. The company makes much of its compliance with legal, moral and ethical obligations as a good corporate neighbor.
    But when it comes to Waze, Google has gone into a defensive crouch.
    The company's executives flat out refused to discuss the subject with representatives of the National Sheriffs' Association, an organization representing more than 3,000 sheriff's offices across the United States.
    The refusal of Google's executives to even dignify our concerns by meeting with us offends our conscience.
    If Google's real objective is the "common good out there on the road," it will work with us to ensure the safety of both motorists and police officers.
    The goals are not mutually exclusive: we can have both.

    President Obama's Weekly Address: Fighting for Trade Deals that Put American Workers First

    Urdu Music - Noor Jahan - Mujh say pehli si Muhabbat

    Interview - Brahamdagh Bugti: 'China-Pakistan deal usurps Balochistan's resources'

    • Author Interview: Shamil Shams

    In an interview with DW, Baloch leader Brahamdagh Bugti says the recent multi-billion dollar economic corridor deal between Pakistan and China is aimed at colonizing the Balochistan province, and must be resisted.
    In his maiden official visit to Pakistan - which ended on April 21 - Chinese President Xi Jinping signed 51 accords to inaugurate the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which will create a network of roads, railways and pipelines linking China's restive west to the Arabian Sea through Balochistan's Gwadar port. The Pakistani government says the deals will boost Pakistan's underperforming economy and generate employment opportunities in the country.
    But not everyone in Pakistan agrees with these claims. Some Pakistani politicians, mostly from Balochistan, said on Wednesday, April 22, that the $46 billion project had been launched for the benefit of the Punjab province - where the majority of Pakistan's ruling class as well as the military cadre come from.
    Balochistan remains Pakistan's poorest and least populous province despite a number of development projects Islamabad initiated there in the past. Rebel groups have waged a separatist insurgency in the province for decades, complaining that the central government in Islamabad and the richer Punjab province unfairly exploit their resources. Islamabad reacted to the insurgency by launching a military operation in the province in 2005.
    In the wake of the China-Pakistan deal, the Baloch separatists demand a share of the financial benefits for the impoverished province. Some Baloch leaders have also complained that Islamabad deliberately changed the corridor route in favor of the Punjab, avoiding Balochistan's key cities.
    In a DW interview, Brahamdagh Bugti, leader of the Baloch Republican Party living in exile in Switzerland, and grandson of slain nationalist leader Akbar Bugti, talks about the separatists' stance on the Pakistani-Chinese deal.
    DW: Pakistani officials say that the economic corridor deal with China would transform the country's economy and fortunes. Since Balochistan's Gwadar port is pivotal in the agreement, do you think the province will also get an economic uplift?
    Brahamdagh Bugti: None of the previous development projects in Balochistan have ever been beneficial to the province or its people. I don't think it will be any different this time around.
    We have been complaining for decades that Islamabad has never sought the consent of the Baloch people before initiating these projects. It is quite obvious that they are not launched to boost the province's economy or to help people out of poverty. They are started for the benefit of the rulers in Islamabad.
    Balochistan's provincial government has expressed reservations against the CPEC, saying it was not taken into confidence over the project. What is your take on it?
    Let me put it in simple words: it's not a deal between China and Pakistan; it is a deal between China and the Punjab province. We have no problem with that. The Punjab's rulers are free to do what they want. But we don't allow China and the Punjab to use Balochistan for their benefits.
    Balochistan is facing a military operation. People are being killed. Journalists and rights activists cannot visit the province or go to Gwadar and report from there. How can you assure transparency of any project given these circumstances?
    Rights groups accuse Pakistan's security forces and intelligence agencies of playing a part in kidnapping dissidents and separatist activists from the province on a regular basis. Some analysts now say that the China-Pakistan deal could spur rights abuses in Balochistan in the name of ensuring security. Do you agree?
    I think there will be massive human rights abuses in Balochistan because of this deal. To secure their financial interests in the province, Islamabad is likely to intensify its military operation there. They will do so in the name of providing security to the multinational and Chinese companies that are investing in the project. They would not even allow peaceful demonstrations and protests against the CPEC.
    Isn't there terrorism in the Punjab, in Karachi, and in other parts of Pakistan? But are there people attacked by helicopters like the residents of Balochistan? No. Do you discover the maimed bodies of missing people in other provinces on a daily basis? No. The Taliban have madrassahs in the Punjab Province. Does Islamabad take any action against them? The answer is again, no. There can't be two laws and two systems for the privileged and the underprivileged in the country.
    We have no expectations from the provincial government that it will talk to Islamabad on behalf of the Baloch people. Everyone knows how the lawmakers get elected to Balochistan's provincial assembly. It's a sham process.
    Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government in Islamabad decided to change the corridor route some time ago, diverting it away from some key cities in Balochistan. What was the reason behind the decision?
    I think they did so to reduce perceived security threats to the project. It hardly matters to Balochistan. Even if they had kept the major Balochistan cities on the route, it would not have brought any prosperity to them, in my view. For instance, the Pakistani government claims it has started development projects in Dera Bugti to bring wealth to the town. But it is not the case. On the contrary, the paramilitary forces are bombing the area to crush dissent and protect Islamabad's interests.
    But the Pakistani government says the Baloch leaders are blocking economic progress of the province and country?
    I would ask this: What would our people have received from Islamabad had we remained silent? Some clerical jobs? We don't want to be the gatekeepers of gas pipelines; we demand a fair share of the wealth for our province. Because we are not giving up on our demands, the authorities are bringing in workers from the Punjab to work in our areas.
    None of Pakistan's major political parties, including the liberal Pakistan People's Party (PPP), the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), and the Awami National Party (ANP), have raised any major objection against the Chinese-Pakistani deals. It seems you have been isolated in your cause?
    None of these parties have any interest in Balochistan. The only interest they have is in exploiting Balochistan's resources and conquering its land. The Punjabi elite want Balochistan's wealth minus the Baloch people.
    Since you oppose the economic corridor project, how will you try to stop its implementation?
    I have been advocating a political solution to the conflict since the time when my grandfather Akbar Bugti was killed by the Pakistani military. We will launch an international campaign against the exploitation of Balochistan. We won't allow our land and resources to be used for the benefit of another country.

    Video - Nepal Update: Death toll climbs to over 1,500 in 7.9-mag earthquake

    Was this the big earthquake predicted in the Himalayas?

    The main fault in Nepal marks where the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates crash into each other -- also known as the Main Frontal Thrust (MFT) fault. Recent studies have shown that this fault has a rich history of evident and not-so-evident quakes, and was ripe for another major one.

    In an interview to The Hindu in May 2013, Vinod Kumar Gaur, seismologist with the Centre for Mathematical Modelling and Computer Simulation, had said: “Calculations show that there is sufficient accumulated energy [in the MFT], now to produce an 8 magnitude earthquake. I cannot say when. It may not happen tomorrow, but it could possibly happen sometime this century, or wait longer to produce a much larger one.”
    In a study published in the journal Nature Geoscience in December 2012, a research team led by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) discovered that massive earthquakes in the range of 8 to 8.5 magnitudes on the Richter scale had left clear ground scars in the central Himalayas
    High resolution imagery and dating techniques showed that in 1255 and 1934, two great earthquakes ruptured the surface of the Earth in the Himalayas. The 1934 earthquake broke the surface over a length of more than 150 km.
    Other than these “surface rupture” quakes, scientists have also found evidence of multiple “blind thrust” quakes that did not break the surface. These records indicate that the region has a rich history of quakes in the past centuries.
    The leading scientist of the NTU study had then said that the existence of such devastating quakes in the past meant that quakes of the same magnitude could happen again in the region in future, especially in areas which have yet to have their surface broken by a temblor.
    Surface rupture quakes are not only extremely violent, but also they tend to release most or all of the accumulated strain in the fault. “Blind thrust” quakes are ones that do not break the surface, and tend to be more frequent.
    A series of studies earlier predicted that a massive earthquake in the South Asia is overdue.
    Researchers recently said tremendous underground stress built up in the 1,250-mile Himalayan fault could force a rupture soon -- in geological terms -- and produce a great quake of 8.1 to 8.3 magnitude.
    Such a quake could affect some 50 million people in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan, they said, and kill at least 200,000.

    Pashto Music - Sardar Ali Takkar - ''IHSAS'' - احساس‘ شاعر افراسیاب خټک

    Pakistan uses hostage killings to underline risk of US drone strikes

    Foreign ministry says deaths of Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto have left country in state of ‘shock and sorrow’

     The accidental killing of two western hostages by a US drone strike demonstrates “the risk and unintended consequences” of unmanned aircraft, Pakistan has said.
    The revelation that aid workers Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto were killed in a US counter-terrorism operation in January has been received with “shock and sorrow” by the country, its government said on Friday.
    Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement: “The deaths of Weinstein and Lo Porto in a drone strike demonstrates the risk and unintended consequences of the use of this technology that Pakistan has been highlighting for a long time.
    “Having lost thousands of innocent civilians in the war against terrorism, Pakistan can fully understand this tragic loss and stands with the families of Weinstein and Lo Porto in this difficult time.”
    Pakistan has long objected in public to the use of lethal drone strikes in its troubled north-west tribal region, despite strong evidence that it has consented and even cooperated with the CIA-led campaign at times. In the past, Pakistan has most strenuously objected to the infringement of its sovereignty rather than the risk of innocent civilians being killed as well as militants.
    The two men died in a drone strike that targeted a militant compound on 15 January. The revelation came on Thursday when the White House took the unusual step of declassifying information about the top-secret programme.
    US officials admitted they were unaware the two men were in the compound despite having had it under prolonged observation.
    Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi, faces a growing controversy at home over why he was unaware for months about the accidental killing of Lo Porto, an Italian, by the US, even after he met Barack Obama at the White House last week.
    The White House and Palazzo Chigi said Obama personally informed Renzi of the fatal strike on Wednesday, a day before the information was made public by the US president.
    The timing of the announcement was confirmed by Italy’s foreign minister, Paolo Gentiloni, on Friday morning. Appearing before the parliament, he reiterated that Italy had only been informed of the accidental killing months after the strike occurred.
    Gentiloni said it had taken US intelligence that long to verify Lo Porto’s death.
    He said Italy took note of Obama’s “maximum transparency” in assuming responsibility for the deaths but that Italy wanted more information about what happened.
    “We want to assure that Italy will find the way to honour the memory of Giovanni,” Gentiloni said. “And we will work to acquire the maximum additional information possible on the circumstances of the tragic error recognised yesterday by President Obama.”
    The controversy underscored the periodic sentiment and frustration with the US that is sometimes apparent in the Italian political sphere: namely the view that Italy can sometimes be trampled on by its closest ally in matters involving terrorism.
    “It is not possible that after months we were told of a fact that is so grave,” said Renato Brunetta, a member of the conservative Forza Italia party, who previously served as a minister under Silvio Berlusconi.
    Lawmakers representing the anti-establishment Five Star Movement said in a statement: “This is an episode that discredits the actions of the executive on the international stage. This is their fight against terrorism? Renzi has to resign and with him all of his ministers. The country doesn’t deserve you.”
    While bombastic demands for Renzi’s head are fairly routine in Italian politics, the prime minister was also criticised by an influential lawmaker on the left, Laura Boldrini, the speaker of the lower house of parliament, who said it was concerning that Italy did not know about the incident earlier.
    At the time of his abduction in 2012, Lo Porto was working as a project manager in Pakistan to help sanitise drinking water following devastating floods in the country in 2010.
    He was abducted with a German colleague, Bernd Mühlenbeck, who was released by his captors in 2014. Mühlenbeck has not discussed his ordeal and it is not clear why he was released or whether he remained in captivity with Lo Porto.
    Renzi called Lo Porto “an Italian who dedicated his life to the service of others”.
    Weinstein, a veteran US aid worker, had been held hostage since 2011 when militants stormed his heavily guarded house in Lahore.
    Critics of the US drone programme have seized on the deaths as proof that the technology is not as accurate as some supporters of the strikes claim.
    In recent years, Pakistan has actively been trying to develop its own armed drone technology and recently announced it had joined the small number of countriesto successfully launch a missile from a remotely-controlled aircraft.

    ‘Unsilencing Balochistan’: Social activist silenced

    The director of The Second Floor (T2F), Sabeen Mahmud was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on Friday soon after she left a session on the Balochistan issue.
    Sabeen and her mother left T2F after 9pm and was on their way home when the gunmen sprayed bullets on their vehicle. Sabeen was shot five times and died on her way to the hospital. Her mother also sustained bullet wounds and is said to be in a critical condition at National Medical Centre (NMC).
    T2F had on Friday organised a talk on Balochistan: ‘Unsilencing Balochistan Take 2: In Conversation with Mama Qadeer, Farzana Baloch and Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur.’

    Pakistan - Sabeen’s murder meant to suppress voices of rights

    Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Human Rights Cell Central Coordinator Dr Nafisa Shah had strongly condemned the cowardly and barbaric attack on T2F Director Sabeen Mehmud.
    It is a heart wrenching tragedy that has shaken up all those, who are striving for a plural, tolerant and progressive Pakistan, free from obscurantism and bigotry, she added.
    The PPP HR Central Coordinator Dr Nafisa Shah while severely condemning the savagism that was portrayed by Sabeen’s brutal assassination said it was not just an attack on Sabeen, it was an attack on all those, who spoke up and denounced violations of rights of the people.
    Having been grossly aggrieved, Dr Shah said the assassination was meant to suppress voice of all those, who spoke of rights and freedoms of smaller provinces and those, who advocated for a strong federation free from extremism, rights of women and minorities.
    Paying tribute to Sabeen, she said she was a visionary and a progressive personality whose modest T2F cafe became a place where social, cultural and political debate was encouraged.
    Aiming at quick action from the authorities concerned at the national level, Dr Shah said it was incumbent on the government and the state both to uncover the dark forces that were out to destroy and deface the pluralism of this country by targeting its best faces and of them Sabeen was one.
    The HR Central Coordinator Dr Nafisa Shah demanded of protection and promotion of spaces like Peace Niche and T2F, which were the best antidote to extremism. 

    Pakistan - Bilawal Bhutto strongly condemns brutal murder of Sabeen Mahmud

    Chairman @BBhuttoZardari strongly condemns brutal murder of @Sabeen - 

    Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has strongly condemned the brutal murder of prominent civil and human rights activist Sabeen Mahmud in Karachi and demanded that culprits involved in this heinous murder should be ferreted out and brought to book.
    In a statement, he expressed sympathies with the victim’s family and eulogized her services for civil and human rights. PPP Chairman prayed Almighty Allah to rest the departed soul in eternal peace and grant courage to bereaved family to bear this irreparable lose with equanimity.

    'Bravest woman,' free speech activist Sabeen Mahmud killed in Pakistan

    By Sophia Saifi and Ben Brumfield

    Her second floor cafe on a dusty industrial road was painted with dashes of psychedelic colors. And Sabeen Mahmud surrounded herself there with books, people, and discussions on technology, human rights and women's entrepreneurship.

    Introducing others to Jimi Hendrix, street art, and talking politics was not supposed to get her killed. But in Pakistan, free speech is dangerous, and Mahmud's exuberant exercise of it made her stick out nationwide.

    Two gunman shot her dead at point-blank range late Friday after she locked up The Second Floor cafe in Karachi for the night, police said. Mahmud died from five bullet wounds.

    The gunmen also shot her mother. She is in a hospital but is expected to be released on time for her daughter's funeral.

    Mahmud's killing broke hearts beating for non-violence and progressive values across the country. She freely said what she thought in a place where many people are too afraid to and by doing so spoke for many more people than just herself.

    She had become a Pakistani figurehead for humanism, love and tolerance.

    "She took that torch into the dark forest and so many people followed. She really, truly was a success story of the heart," said close friend and BBC journalist Ziad Zafar.

    Uncomfortable topic: disappearances
    No one has claimed responsibility for her shooting, and police have not named any motive. But Mahmud had just finished leading a discussion group on a topic that many want silenced, when the shots fell.

    In the province of Baluchistan, where separatists have fought a virulent insurgency for years, people have been disappearing regularly. There have been steady allegations of mass abduction. The Lahore University of Management Sciences planned to host the discussion on the topic, with human rights activist Mama Qadeer Baloch, but authorities shut it down.

    Mahmud would not hear of it not going on.

    "Despite the plurality of opinion, very little space seems to be given to the discussion in Pakistani mainstream media or academia; the debate seems to be shut down before it can even begin," she posted on Facebook. "What is the reality? Has the media been silenced on Balochistan? What makes it dangerous for us to talk about Pakistan's largest province at one of our most celebrated universities?"

    She invited the discussion to The Second Floor, also known by the shorthand T2F. She said she knew it was a potentially dangerous move, and she had received death threats in the past when she handled the topic before.

    "She was the bravest woman in the world, she really was, she was a brave heart; my God, she was a brave, brave girl," Zafar said.

    A magnet of enlightenment
    Even in its secluded, humble location, T2F was a magnet to those seeking secular wisdom. They found it in a homey setting, musingly decorated like a small town college bookstore. The walls outside its entrance are sprayed with socially critical graffiti -- dusky red hearts float across gray walls.

    Mahmud waited to greet visitors, many of them young Pakistanis seeking freedom of thought, with a hug, a mug and encouragement for Pakistan's future. "She hoped the same thing we all hoped for, a place that is fair with liberty and justice for all," Zafar said.

    Grief over her death and gratefulness for her work poured out on social media and via email.

    "Thanks for giving us the room to breathe when fog pressed heavy on our shoulders. It's only been a few hours, Sabeen, and the city is already gasping for air," a group of illustrators called From Karachi with Love wrote.

    An artist drew Mahmud puttering off on a Vespa scooter wearing pants, a blouse and sandals. Her tightly coiffed short hair and angular glasses framed her bright-eyed features. Missing was a head scarf.

    On a wall in T2F is a spray painted Technicolor image of Marilyn Monroe from "the Seven Year Itch," her white dress replaced by a traditional outfit of mustard, ocher and green.

    But it still flew up over her hips, revealing her alabaster legs, a daringly sexy and satirical image. The artistic expression sticks out and triggers passions, like many things Mahmud said and did.