Monday, June 8, 2015

Taylor Swift - Bad Blood ft. Kendrick Lamar

Britain urged to end arms trade with Saudi Arabia after blogger ruling


Campaigns call for shift in policy towards biggest buyer of UK weapons after Raif Badawi’s sentence of 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison is upheld by top court.
 Campaigners have called for a radical shift in Britain’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, the UK’s biggest arms market, after the Saudi supreme court upheld the sentence of 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison given to blogger Raif Badawi.

The previous UK coalition government approved arms sales to Saudi Arabia worth almost £4bn. British-made Tornado or Typhoon jets have been used in air strikes against Yemen and Britain is supporting a naval blockade the UN says is exacerbating the humanitarian disaster in one of the world’s poorest countries.
Saudi Arabia will potentially be an even more lucrative market for UK weapons in the light of its decision, reported last week by IHS Jane’s Aerospace, Defence & Security, to increase its defence budget by 27% over the next five years.

Speaking from Canada, Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, said she feared his punishment would start again on Friday after the ruling. Badawi received his first 50 lashes in January, but subsequent floggings have been postponed.
The blogger was arrested in 2012 for “insulting Islam through electronic channels”. For four years he ran the Liberal Saudi Network, which encouraged online debate about religious and political issues.
Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “The human rights situation in Saudi Arabia is dire. The fact that it is also the world’s largest buyer of UK weapons is a sign of the real hypocrisy at the heart of UK foreign policy.”

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said on Monday: “We are extremely concerned that Raif Badawi’s sentence has been upheld … We have raised his case at the most senior levels in the government of Saudi Arabia and will continue to do so.”
The UK supported the UN security council’s call for a further humanitarian ceasefire in Yemen to allow delivery of aid, she said, and was urging the Saudi-led coalition to end a blanket blockade of ships introduced to cut off the supply of arms to Yemeni rebels..
“We are not participating directly in military operations, but are providing support to the Saudi Arabian armed forces through pre-existing arrangements,” she said.
Britain is also deepening its defence relationship with Bahrain, another Gulf state widely criticised for serious human rights abuses. The outgoing UK ambassador to Bahrain, Iain Lindsay, told Gulf Daily News over the weekend that a new British naval base there was aimed at deterring regional threats and maintain security in the Gulf.
“Work on the first permanent British base in the region since 1971 is scheduled to start later in the summer,” he said.
The UN committee on torture last week asked the Bahrain government to investigate the case of Nabeel Rajab, the country’s best-known dissident who was sentenced in January to six months in prison for “publicly insulting” official institutions” on Twitter. He had posted comments suggesting the island state’s security agencies may have acted as “incubators of extremist ideologies” for Bahrainis who join Islamic State.
Britain’s close ties with Bahrain were demonstrated in a series of meetings last month. King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa visited the Queen at Windsor, while Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa met David Cameron in Downing Street and the Bahraini security chief, General Tariq al-Hassan, had talks with Home Office officials.

‘False legitimacy’: Saudi Arabia hosting UN Human Rights Council slammed by watchdog

The decision to hold a UN-backed human rights summit in Saudi Arabia in early June, attended by the Human Rights Council’s chief, has sparked an outcry from rights organizations, claiming that the visit gave the Gulf kingdom “false legitimacy.”
The main point of the international summit held in Jeddah June 3-4 was declared to be combating intolerance and violence based on religious belief.
The conference was attended by the Human Right Council president Joachim Rücker, who said in the opening statement that “Religious intolerance and violence committed in the name of religion rank among the most significant human rights challenges of our times.”
Later, Rücker was accused by the Geneva-based human rights campaign group UN Watch of giving the summit “false international legitimacy.”
“It’s bad enough that the oppressive and fundamentalist Saudi monarchy was elected to sit on the UN Human Rights Council,” The Independent cited UN Watch executive director, Hillel Neuer, as saying.
Saudi Arabia is one of the few absolute monarchies left in the world. There is no legal code in the country, leaving it to individual judges to set the punishment for a crime in accordance with their interpretation of Islamic doctrine.
The death penalty is stipulated for a number of crimes, including murder, blasphemy, denial of Islamic faith, treason, sorcery, drug smuggling and acts of homosexuality. Adultery is punished with 100 lashes, the penalty for stealing is the amputation of a hand, while drinking alcohol and slander are punished at discretion of the judge.
The Gulf monarchy is the world’s only country where women are not allowed to drive.
Human rights activists have also pointed out that the conference took place at a time when the Saudi Arabian Supreme Court had upheld the sentence for blogger Raif Badawi, condemning him to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam through religious channels.”
Neuer said: “For top UN human rights officials to now visit Jeddah and smile while human rights activist Raif Badawi languishes in prison for the crime of religious dissent, still under threat of further flogging, is to pour salt in the wounds. It’s astonishing.”

The Saudi Gazette reported that the participants in the conference agreed “to put [HRC] resolution 16/18 into effect,” believed to combat “intolerance and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons based on religion or belief.”
“In addition, participants agreed on the importance on providing human rights education and encouraging religious and cultural diversity in communities,” the Gazette reported.
Saudi Arabia’s plans to lead international human rights efforts have made many observers stiffen with astonishment.
Catherine Shakdam, a political analyst, writing for RT, said that over the years Saudi Arabia has been notorious for its theocracy, oppression, brutality and “downright barbarism.”
“And seeing how the kingdom has become infamous for carrying out death sentences by beheading, it’s safe to say that upholding the principles of human rights is not exactly the regime’s forte,” Shakdam said.
Saudi Arabia has been widely criticized for its regular use of the death penalty by beheading. The number of executions so far in 2015 has already overtaken the total number for 2014. As of late May, 89 people, among them several foreigners, have been publicly beheaded.
Saudi Arabia has also been condemned for using inhumane weapons in its military operations abroad, as the country is leading an international operation against the Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen.

Human Rights Watch has recently published new evidence alleging that the Saudi Arabian-led coalition in Yemen has been using internationally-outlawed cluster bombs.

A new era begins for Turkish democracy

Özer Sencar i

The June 7 general election marked the start of a new era for Turkey, with the Justice and Development Party's (AKP) single-party government -- in place since 2002 -- coming to an end. And though the AKP picked up more votes than its rivals, it, and more importantly President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, emerged as the true defeated forces in this election. As this happened, the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and the Republican People's Party (CHP) emerged as victors in many ways.
Entering into nearly all its previous election races waving the mantle of “the oppressed,” despite its position in power, this time around the AKP hit the campaign trail as the all-powerful ruling party. And, as such, it was not in the position to lay the blame for all the failure, corruption charges and various injustices at the feet of anyone else. And, what's more, Erdoğan's blatant trampling of the principle of objectivity that comes with the Office of the President did much to harm the AKP's sense of gravitas, not to mention its image as a party, during the campaign period.
In fact, the dimension to which Erdoğan participated in the election campaigning -- in a way anathema not only to basic democratic customs in this country but to principles of objectivity underscored in our Constitution -- wound up turning the parliamentary election into a referendum on him. And, to wit, the AKP emerged from June 7 voting with a percentage not far from the already low 38 percent satisfaction level expressed by the people for the president lately. There is simply no question that the 41 percent vote netted by the AKP in this critical round of voting is a strong symbol of failure. And, in the coming days, we'll see who is held responsible for this failure.
In the meantime, the clear victors of June 7 are the HDP, which swept in hope for democracy by surpassing all the barriers before it, and the CHP and its leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who has said of the HDP's victory, “It is democracy that is the winner, and the loser is President Tayyip Erdogan.”
Placing the theme of “Stopping the AKP, and not allowing Erdoğan to become president [in a presidential system]” at the center of its platform, the HDP reached out to all factions opposing the AKP leadership in Turkey. The fact that the HDP made it over the vote threshold with 13 percent clearly shows that this strategy worked. What's more, HDP Co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, by virtue of his performance and his widespread social acceptance, has shown himself to be a candidate for the center political stage in Turkey, despite having risen up through the ranks of the Kurdish political movement.
In the meantime, it also appears the CHP made the right choice in abandoning its usual themes of identity, lifestyle, secularity and Kemalism, and focusing instead on economic and freedom-related problems facing Turkish society. In fact, intra-party satisfaction ratings for CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu appeared to rise some 7-10 points during the recent campaigning period.
Of course, despite all this, the CHP still only netted around 25 percent of the vote, and this was because it was the party whose voters wound up pushing the HDP over the threshold.
As for the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), its votes increased in comparison to results from the 2011 election. One cannot, however, say that this was a result of its campaigning. The main factor in any increase for MHP votes was rooted in increasing fears among nationalist voters about the unity of the country under AKP rule. And, in fact, the MHP was hovering around 17-18 percent at the end of March, which actually means that its election campaign period was truly not that strong.
Another phenomenon that distinguished these elections was the success of research polling companies, despite recent and notable failures by Israeli and British polling firms. Of course, the same cannot be said of the polling companies working for the ruling AKP.
MetroPOLL determined that, from September 2014 until around now, the AKP experienced a constant downward trend, dropping under 50 percent and arriving at around 41.7 percent in April of this year, and then down more towards 41 percent by the end of May. Similarly, this company foresaw -- and shared with the public -- that the HDP, if it were to enter these elections as a party (rather than with individual independent candidates), would in fact surpass the 10 percent threshold. And so, the HDP's decision to do so was a timely and correct one. In fact, the latest estimates from MetroPOLL vis-à-vis the HDP's net vote put the party at around 11.5 percent. It was, in the end, the president's aggressive conduct and his open trampling of constitutional principles of objectivity, combined with Demirtaş's staggeringly strong performance and perhaps most importantly the CHP's own voters' abandonment of their usual party in favor of boosting the HDP that wound up bringing the HDP to 13 percent of the vote.
In short, it was immense prudence and wisdom shown by Turkish voters that wound up breaking down that dirty remnant of the Sept. 12, 1980 coup, the 10 percent vote threshold. This was a move that our political parties were never able -- or never wanted -- to remove, and it was pushed aside by the people of the country. And now, nothing will ever be as it was before. I hope that our politicians read the messages from the people correctly, and take time to review their methods and behavior accordingly. With hopes that the results augur well for us all.

#TurkeyElections - Unusual: Erdoğan ‘off-air’ for longer than 24 hours

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has unusually stayed off-air from Turkish broadcasters for longer than 24 hours - an unprecedented length of time considering his relentless TV speeches over the past few months before the general election.

Erdoğan had been appearing on Turkish TV stations as often as three times a day during the campaign season for the June 7 general elections. He even gave a brief, deliberately non-partisan speech at noon on the day he was voting in Istanbul on June 7.

After the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which he co-founded, lost its parliamentary majority in the election, Erdoğan released a statement calling on all parties to assess the results of the June 7 parliamentary election “healthily and realistically.” 

On June 8, he left the presidential mansion in Istanbul after following the elections for 20 hours and flew to Ankara at 4:30 p.m. Turkish President also postponed the meeting he was expected to hold with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to June 9.

Erdoğan did not make any public appearances on June 8. 

G7: Protests, climate and few commitments

The G7 is drawing to a close in Bavaria. While the summit was overshadowed by crises in Ukraine and Greece, progress was made on climate change. Naomi Conrad reports from Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
G7 Gipfel Schloss Elmau Merkel Obama
Early Monday morning, the clouds were draped like huge grey ribbons around the snow-capped mountains that tower over the quaint Alpine resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. In the lush valley below, a small, rather bedraggled group of protesters gathered in the square outside the town's train station, as journalists and policemen looked on.
David Grube, a polite young baker from a nearby village dressed entirely in black, conceded that most of his fellow protestors, who had weathered pouring rain and police checkpoints to demonstrate against the annual meeting of G7 leaders in the nearby Elmau Castle, had already left. He shrugged: "You know, all of this, it's exhausting."
Beside him, his friend who preferred to remain anonymous, nodded. They had arrived on Friday, they said - as an elderly man to their left posed for a photographer brandishing his sign reading "G7 go to hell" - to demonstrate against a meeting they both slammed as being excessively expensive and exclusive. They were, they said, very much looking forward to going back home.
G7 Gegner gehen nach Hause
The anti-globalization protesters head home for another year
From G6 to G8 to G7
The G7 began in 1975 as the Group of Six - the United States, the UK, Italy, France, Japan and Germany - as an informal forum for leaders to discuss issues of global importance for the leading industrialized nations at the time. Canada joined the following year, Russia in 1998, thereby creating the Group of Eight. But this year, President Vladimir Putin was notably absent from the meeting, after his country's expulsion from the group in 2014 after its annexation of Crimea.
This year, leaders discussed a broad agenda ranging from climate change, international terrorism and trade to poverty reduction. But discussions also focused on Ukraine and Russia. The leaders of the Group of Seven nations "all agree," Merkel told journalists after the meeting on Monday afternoon that sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine had to remain in place until a ceasefire in the east of the country was fully implemented. The statement led to a flurry of activity in the international press center in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The chancellor also warned that G7 leaders were ready to toughen sanctions over Moscow's role in the Ukraine conflict.
Breakthrough in climate change?
In the joint communiqué, which covered a range of topics but made few concrete commitments - as is often the case at such summits - leaders did commit to keeping global warming at two degrees in an attempt to tackle climate change and to phase out the use of fossil fuels by the end of the century.
She and her counterparts, Merkel said, had committed themselves to "decarbonizing the global economy in the course of this century," using the technical term for ending the use of oil, gas and coal and replacing them with alternative energies. Leaders also reaffirmed their "strong commitment" to jointly mobilizing $100 billion (90 billion euros) a year by 2020 for climate change mitigation in the countries most affected.
Lutz Weischer, of the German environmental NGO Germanwatch, told DW that the decisions on climate change constituted an "important moment in the international climate debate." The commitment to global decarbonization, he added, was "a significant step."
Samantha Smith, who leads the WWF's global climate and energy initiative and was also in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, was less enthusiastic: "The G7 have given us some important political signals, but they've left out the concrete commitments from themselves as nations," she told DW. Concrete, immediate actions to cut emissions, Smith added, "would have had a big impact," particularly in the run-up to the summit. She did, however, call an initiative agreed by leaders to roll out renewable energies in Africa and other emerging countries "very positive."
Merkel also said leaders had committed themselves to creating a so-called Vision Zero Fund, which would guarantee sustainable supply chains by financing preventative measures to guarantee safety standards, such as fire safety measures. Concrete financial pledges were, however, not made in the 17-page communiqué, which was hammered out by the delegations on the sidelines of the meeting. Leaders also pledged to lift 500 million people in developing countries out of hunger and malnutrition by 2030 - also without making concrete financial commitments.
Few concrete commitments
Among the plethora of other topics, ranging from coordinating research on neglected tropical diseases and resistance to antibiotics to empowering women, the leaders also pledged to help Tunisia better protect its border to neighboring war-torn Libya. "We'll continue to work with our partners in Africa, to get Ebola cases down to zero," US President Barack Obama promised. G7 leaders urged Libyan factions to put down their arms and work together. "The time for fighting has passed, the moment for bold political decisions has come," leaders said in the communiqué.
Furthermore, leaders committed themselves to furthering bilateral trade agreements, including the controversial EU-US free trade agreement TTIP. Merkel said leaders had agreed to push for "considerable progress" by the end of this year. "I intend to get it done," Obama added.
It's a promise that's unlikely to please David Grube and his fellow protesters who packed their bags and left Garmisch-Partenkirchen long before the doors opened on Monday afternoon for the post- summit press conferences: When asked about his feelings on free trade, he shrugged: "There's no need to say much, really. I mean, almost everyone's against free trade here." His friend nodded.

Video - Russia's Lavrov says G7 held hostage by Ukraine authorities

Video - World leaders wrap up annual G7 summit in Germany

Video - President Obama Meets with the Prime Minister of Iraq

Video - President Obama Speaks at the G7 Summit in Germany

Brad Pitt to Star in Netflix Film About Afghanistan War
EXCLUSIVE: Netflix has acquired distribution rights to War Machine, the David Michod-directed drama which will star Brad Pitt as a four-star rock star U.S. military general. The character is patterned afterGen. Stanley McChrystal, for a time the commanding general of international and U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The film is a satirical comedy inspired by the bestselling book The Operators: The Wild And Terrifying Inside Story Of America’s War In Afghanistan, by the late journalist Michael Hastings. Script was written by Michod, whose credits include Animal Kingdom and The Rover. Pitt and his Plan B cohorts Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner will produce with Ian Bryce.
This picture package was on Deadline’s list of his Cannes titles, but Pitt and his reps have for several weeks been down the road with Ted Sarandos and his Netflix cohorts on an alternative strategy. With this deal, Sarandos has an opportunity to make the kind of seismic move in features as he did with TV series like House Of Cards. This will be the biggest investment Netflix will have made so far in a feature film, in the $30 million range. It is also the first time Netflix has really gotten hold of a film with one of the biggest global A-list movie stars, in his prime, along with his producing cohorts whose recent credits include Best Picture winner 12 Years A Slave and Best Picture nomineeSelma.
The streaming service continues to establish itself in countries around the world — itjust announced Italy, Portugal and Spain to raise its penetration to more than 150 countries — and is expected to be in even more by the time this movie is ready for a qualifying theatrical run, and then a big Netflix worldwide bow late in 2016.
Plan B acquired the Hastings book last year and originally it seemed like a straight nonfiction film. It has instead been turned into a fictionalized satire. The book captured McChrystal in his cocky glory, and focused on the backrooms and politics of war and the high-stakes maneuvers and political firestorm that shook the country. Hastings, who followed McChrystal around Europe and Afghanistan for a month in 2010 for a Rolling Stone article, quoted the general badmouthing the White House and its handling of the war. That proved to be his undoing; after Rolling Stone published the article “The Runaway General,” McChrystal was ordered back to D.C. by President Obama, and McChrystal tendered his resignation there.
Even though this is sophisticated subject matter and not the popcorn fare that studios covet, any studio or independent distributor would have salivated over releasing a movie with Brad Pitt as its star. But it is also the kind of movie that is often hard pressed to find a large theatrical audience, and P&A is exorbitant to chase that business. Pitt and his advisers instead decided to experiment with the idea that potentially more people would see the film through the Netflix global streaming subscriber base. Deadline has reported that when Netflix makes a deal like this — or on a movie like the Cary Fukunaga-directed Idris Elba-starrer Beasts Of No Nation or the four movies that will star Adam Sandler and be produced by his company — its model eliminates the possibility for overages because the priority is the streaming service. We’ve heard that Netflix will pay 130% of a film’s budget. In order to get this coup, it paid at least that much or more, but it potentially knocks down a wall that could give Netflix a real shot at movie-star-driven pictures that want one-stop shopping. Netflix will also heavily market the movie.
War Machine is a rip-roaring, behind-the-facade tale of modern war decision-makers, from the corridors of power to the distant regions of America’s ambitions,” said Sarandos, the chief content officer of Netflix. “Brad and David are a perfect team to make this timely, compelling and entertaining film.”
Said Pitt: “We are so excited to be a part of the inspiring commitment by Netflix to produce cutting-edge content and to deliver it to a global audience.”
Said Michod: “I’m humbled to be making a big, bold movie about the whole sprawling, complex, cumbersome and crazy machinery of modern war and the many lives it touches.”
Pitt has hardly abandoned the traditional theatrical release that launched his star. He wrapped By The Sea, the Universal film with Angelina Jolie, who directed. After he wraps War Machine, Pitt will join Marion Cotillard in an untitled Steven Knight-scripted period spy thriller that will be directed by Robert Zemeckis for Paramount. He will then reprise in a sequel to the zombie apocalypse hit World War Z, which is being scripted by Knight and will be directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, with Plan B producing.
Pitt is repped by CAA, Brillstein Entertainment Partners and Alan Hergott.

Pakistan - Falling to pieces: The rickety bridge between life and death

The only land route to as many as five settlements of Dhamtor union council in Abbottabad city is a bridge which is in an alarming state of disrepair.
A constant threat has been posed to the lives of over 5,000 dwellers of Darkan, Dotar, Choti Ban, Mohallah Parr and Mohallah Abasiyan since the first week of April when merciless floodwaters lashed the passage near Mohallah Hasan Khel, leaving it in dire straits. The now-damaged passage was naturally created over a small hillock.
Subsequently, villagers made repairs on a self-help basis – a 25ft long wooden bridge that runs parallel to the hill. With no alternative to choose, schoolchildren, traders and factory workers walk the 4ft wide makeshift passage every day; their footsteps echoing in the 300ft deep ravine.
For better or for worse, nobody is sure how long the planks and bamboo sticks will be able to sustain the burden of government apathy. “Whenever I walk on the bridge, I feel it would fall off the very moment,” 5th grader Nazia Bibi told The Express Tribune. The resident of Choti Ban village said planks creak in protest as one sets foot on them.
Zardad Khan, a resident of Darkan village, milks his livestock every morning and sets out to supply the produce to roadside restaurants in the city. Also a daily commuter of the route, he said the local MPA and the communication and works department will be responsible in case of a probable accident.
Another resident of Darkan, Riaz Khan Jadoon did try his best to bring the issue to the notice of district administration. “My complaints fell on deaf ears,” he said. Muhammad Asif Khan, a resident of Dhamtor, even approached the local MNAs and MPAs. Referring to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government’s highly-trumpeted campaigns in the education sector, he said, “What good are their campaigns when our children will not live to go to school?”
Following local government polls, there is some hope the issue might be addressed in the near future. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Nasir Khan Jadoon who recently contested a district councillor seat but remained unsuccesful said he would visit the communication and works department soon and present the case before it.

Pakistan - Rohingyas and Ahmedis

While Ahmedis can get passports as citizens of Pakistan, the officially sanctioned Muslims of Pakistan have to certify on the passport application that they consider Ahmedis non-Muslims
Though there are some questions about the story but if Tahera Ahmad — the chaplain from Northwestern University — was subjected to anti-Muslim abuse on a United Airlines flight, it would underscore the growing intolerance towards Muslims in the US. There is, however, no doubt about the treatment meted out to the Rohingyas of Myanmar. The most sanctified saint of human rights and democracy alive, Aung San Suu Kyi, has remained completely silent over this incredible human tragedy. It seems that when it comes to Rohingyas, the discrimination is a very popular one indeed and has even managed to silence a great leader like Suu Kyi who either is unwilling to speak for the Rohingya Muslims or simply agrees with the treatment meted out to them. Shame.
The public opinion in Pakistan, however, is up in arms against this grave humanitarian tragedy. It is tragic that when it comes to discrimination Pakistanis are unable to put their own house in order. Consider the similarities in the treatment of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar to the treatment of Ahmedis in Pakistan since 1984 and earlier. Since 1982, the Rohingyas have been denied citizenship in Myanmar and are called “Bengalis” despite the fact that there is ample evidence of Rohingyas living in Myanmar prior to 1948. They are isolated, marginalised and often subject to mass violence and pogroms in the name of religion and ethnicity.

Make no mistake; the Pakistani situation is worse. While we mercifully do not strip Ahmedis of citizenship, we pretty much ensure that their religious freedom is not only curtailed but they are presented as the embodiment of evil in the national imagination. Ordinance XX of 1984, promulgated by the military dictatorship, has an odious name: The Prohibition of Anti-Islamic Activities of Qadianis Ordinance. And while Ahmedis can get passports as citizens of Pakistan, the officially sanctioned Muslims of Pakistan have to certify on the passport application that they consider Ahmedis non-Muslims and the founder of their religious movement an imposter. This is ironic because after declaring Ahmedis to be outside the fold of Islam through the Second Amendment in 1974, Pakistan recognised Ahmedis as a distinct religious community separate from Islam under Article 260 of the Constitution. As such, the founders of all religions enjoy protection under the Pakistan Penal Code but Ahmedis are denied this. Nothing can be more ironic than this of course given that the contribution of Ahmedis to the creation of Pakistan and its progress is second to none. It bears repeating that, when asked, the founder of Pakistan, Jinnah, said that anyone who calls himself a Muslim is a Muslim and that there was no bar therefore on Ahmedis in the Muslim League.

Today, however, the Ahmedis live in absolute fear and are under siege even in the city of Rabwah, which they built from scratch. Right at the start of Rabwah, now named Chenab Nagar officially, is a Sunni Mosque called Majlis-e-Ahrar mosque, named after the Majlis-e-Ahrar, the rabidly anti-Ahmadi and anti-Shia group pre-partition, which had also called Pakistan Kafiristan and Jinnah Kafir-e-Azam. This just goes to show that in Pakistan you can abuse the country, its existence and its antecedents to your heart’s content so long as you also abuse Ahmedis. The loudspeakers of this mosque abuse Ahmedis and their families all day long; freedom of speech and expression indeed. The ironic part is that Ahmedis are not even allowed to give azaan (call to prayer) from their loudspeaker let alone counter hate speech. Like Aung San Suu Kyi, Pakistan’s politicians, the powerful army, the judiciary and the steel frame bureaucracy are all unable or unwilling to help Ahmedis.

Then there is the issue of the Hazaras, the most identifiable Shia group because of their ethnicity. This community is being mercilessly exterminated by sectarian terrorists. There can be no two opinions about the fact that there is a genocide under way and lately this genocide has been expanded. Aga Khani Ismailis and Bohra Ismailis are also being targeted.

So the point is that while we talk of Rohingyas and their plight, it would be a useful exercise to put our own house in order, to put an end to both official state discrimination against Ahmedis as well as the genocide that is being perpetrated against various Shia sects. The next time we point fingers at the west for their numerous failings and in particular the diet coke issue, we will do well to remember the hate speech, discrimination and abuse we mete out to our own citizens in the name of religion. Christians are abused as being unclean or dirty. Some shops and establishments have signs declaring that Ahmedis will not be served. A whole generation of Sunni children has been taught to hate Shias and see them as kaafirs (infidels). The state needs to play an active role in curbing these attitudes but where can it start? Since 1984, the state itself has been complicit in sectarian bigotry.

Pakistan - Violence In Quetta

A crackdown by the police resulted in the arrest of thirty three suspects following yet another cold blooded killing of policemen on patrolling duty in Quetta on Saturday. Such attacks have become a matter of routine leading to customary condemning statements from those in power. Our leaders should realise now that such expressions of sympathy with the affected families and the institutions have lost their meaning. Balochistan is undergoing an insurgency fully supported by the Indian Intelligence Agency RAW, the incontrovertible evidence of which has been with the Pakistani authorities. The indolence of the Pakistani authorities in sharing this evidence with the Indian government and with other friendly states is not comprehensible. The issue deserves urgent measures at a diplomatic level with India as well as with other foreign powers that can persuade the Indian authorities not to destabilise the region. The ripple effects of an unstable neighbour are surely going to emerge on their own land too. Pakistan has already expressed its willingness and is on its way to mend fences with Afghanistan. 
On the domestic front, the federal government seems to have ignored the fact that there is a clear difference between law and order, and war. The country is fighting a war within its own boundaries against terrorists and insurgents, who in the case of Balochistan seem to have joined hands. The federal government should stop putting all the responsibility of fighting this war on the provinces in the name of law and order. The federal budget has allocations of billions of rupees to build concrete structures but no allocation or policy guideline has been given to save the lives of the individual members of civil and military establishments. In the backdrop of frequent killings of the members of the uniformed services in guerrilla attacks, the government could easily have announced the provision of bullet and stab-proof outfits to all those engaged in this war. This measure would not have cost more than a few billion rupees but saved precious lives, reduce the incidence of fatality and given more confidence to the fighting forces.

Pakistan - Bilawal Bhutto condemns Hazara killing

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has strongly condemned the barbaric killings of five Hazara community people in Quetta at the hands of terrorists yesterday.

Such coward attacks are in fact a direct threat to the integrity of the nation and very fabric of our society, Bhutto said in a press statement. 

“Terrorists are plotting to create a situation where all Pakistanis start fighting against each other but this nation has both the blood and spirits of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto to foil the conspiracies and uphold integrity and peace,” he said.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari joined the grief of the families of the Quetta victims and prayed to Almighty Allah to rest the departed souls in eternal peace and grant courage and fortitude to their family members to bear this painful loss.

Five Hazara men, including a father and a son, were killed in a drive-by shooting in Qeutta yesterday. 

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, PTI leader Imran Khan, MQM head Altaf Hussain and others condemned the gun attack.