Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Music Video - Eminem - Guts Over Fear ft. Sia

BBC Documentary - Ex-Muslim: Leaving Islam

Video Report - 'Western govts give Saudi Arabia pass to violate human rights'

Video Report - Rumsfeld: Iraq democracy 'unrealistic'

Video Report - President Obama Speaks on Health Care Reform at the Catholic Health Association Conference

Afghan Music Video - Sameera Nasiry - "Rokhsar e Ziba"

Afghanistan - No agreement has been signed with Pakistani intelligence: Ghani

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani said Tuesday that no agreement has been signed with Pakistan’s military intelligence – Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).
During a tour to southern Kandahar province, President Ghani said he will personally prepare a draft of the agreement if the Afghan government decides to sign such an agreement with Pakistan.
He said the draft would be sent to the National Security Council for approval before it is signed but he said reports suggesting the agreement has been concluded are all rumours.
The remarks by President Ghani comes as there have been an uproar since reports emerged suggesting a draft agreement was signed between the National Directorate of Security (NDS) and Pakistan’s ISI regarding intelligence sharing and cooperation between the two countries.
In regards to peace process, President Ghani said negotiations should take place with Pakistan instead of Taliban group so that Islamabad persuade the group to sit-in for peace talks.
He said Pakistan is engaged in an undeclared war with Afghanistan and insisted that negotiations should take place with those who are fighting with Afghans.

As U.S. Presence in Afghanistan Shrinks, So Does Oversight

Pashto Music - Sardar Ali Takkar - چرته کنعان

Pashto Music - Sardar Ali Takkar "راشه کښینه" شاعر کاظم خان شیدا

Pakistan's 'Pro-Taliban' Gov't Encourages Violent Muslim Attacks Against Christians


Human rights activist Pervez Rafique, who's also a former minority member of parliament representing the Pakistan People's Party in Punjab, said it will be hard to change Pakistan's blasphemy laws, which he said are upheld by an Islamic government that has "strong relations" with Muslim extremists.
Such blasphemy laws are often used to persecute minorities, and Christians in the country have been facing a growing wave of violence, with a Protestant church destroyed and six Christians beaten by armed men in Chakwal in Punjab in an incident on Thursday.

Rafique told The Christian Post in an email interview on Thursday that those presently in power in Pakistan are known for having a "pro Taliban, pro Islamic ideology" and said that they have "strong relations with Muslim extremist organizations."
He pointed out that 80 percent of blasphemy accusations against Christians have occurred in Punjab, where Christians have been violently attacked on a number of occasions.
Fides News Agency reported that the latest attack occurred in Chakwal, when pastor Suhail Masih and five other members of the Protestant church were beaten by armed men who stormed the house of worship. Reports have said that Masih and the other church members were being accused of "proselytism and conversions of Muslims," while the attack is believed to have been instigated by a local imam.
While Christians in the community protested and called for police to take actions against the attackers, so far only two men were arrested but later released by authorities.
Some Christians in Pakistan, such as human rights lawyer Sardar Mushtaq Gill, have said that blasphemy laws, which Muslim mobs sometimes take in their own hands, need to be abolished.
Nasir Saeed, director of the NGO Center for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement, told Fides: "No one should be allowed to take the law into their own hands. Mass attacks against entire communities show that hate against Christians is growing. The blasphemy law is widely used for revenge, but the government has not yet managed to take steps to stop the misuse of the law and ensure security for Christians. If those responsible are not punished, those who attack with impunity Christian neighborhoods and churches are encouraged."
Rafique revealed in his interview with CP that back in December 2010 he was the only parliamentarian who submitted a bill at the Punjab assembly aimed at stopping the misuse of blasphemy laws. The bill was never taken up, however, and instead he received threats and warnings from the law minister at the time.
"It's hard to change or relax the laws," he said, "especially the Blasphemy law 295-A-B-C of Pakistan's penal code." He noted that although to change or abolish laws the parliament needs only simple majority, but to amend the constitution or any article of the constitution it needs two third majority. The present government that supports these blasphemy laws has enough support to continue upholding them.
The former minority parliament member identified several reasons for why he doesn't believe the blasphemy laws will be relaxed soon, and said that there is a "lack of political will and religious fear and mindset," alongside the "presence of an Islamic ideology council," which "will never ever allow changes in the blasphemy laws."
He said the problem is also in civil society, where media and progressive-thinking people are afraid "to take bold stands against the blasphemy laws," which he called a "naked sword on Christians and other communities."
As an example Rafique gave former Pakistan Minister Shahbaz Bhatti and Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, who he said were "close friends" of his who spoke out against the blasphemy laws, but were both assassinated for their opposition in separate incidents in 2011.
He said that in the present situation and circumstances, "there is no way" that Christians and human rights defenders will be able to "bend the government to abolish or amend the blasphemy laws."
Rafique said, however, that the international community has an important part to play in influencing the government, and said that it might even be the "only hope for persecuted communities in this bleak situation."
The human rights activist offered that the United Nations needs to remind Pakistan that it is a signatory of the universal declaration of human rights, and therefore "is bound to grant and protect the fundamental rights of its religious minority citizens," as stated in the declaration.
He said that sanctions need to be imposed on Pakistan if it fails to remove clauses and laws that do not conform with the U.N. charter of human rights and the rule of a truly democratic society.
Rafique added that the United States and the European Union especially should reconsider how they provide financial aid to Pakistan's government, and ask it to "protect the lives of innocent Christians and other religious minorities."
He suggested that the international community will furthermore need to demand that Pakistan's government takes strong actions to "curb the religious terrorism" and "ban extremist Muslim organizations from the country."
Rafique said that the international community needs to "support and encourage Christian and progressive leadership in Pakistan" in the mission to to build a "progressive and liberal country" that is free from the theocratic state.
He also called for a special refugee quota for Pakistani Christians and other religious minorities who have suffered religious persecution, he asked other governments to pile diplomatic and political pressure on Pakistan, and said that people should offer prayer for the troubled country.

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/pakistans-islamic-government-has-strong-relations-with-muslim-extremists-activist-and-former-parliament-member-says-as-new-violence-targets-christians-139728/#sHpMqpcAVjkpdYEt.99

Pakistan Christians Stopped, Harassed, When Traveling Abroad

By Martin Roth

Two Pakistani Christians have launched legal proceedings against the country’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), after twice being refused permission to board a flight to Sri Lanka on the pretext that they might defect, BosNewsLife learned.

This follows reports that the FIA has regularly been stopping Christians from flying out of Pakistan.

The two Christians, Irfan Masih and his sister Maria Batool, from Kasur, a city on the border with India, said they were planning to visit a family friend and had visas, sponsor letters and all other necessary documentation.

On the second occasion, on June 1, they were able to check in and receive boarding passes, but were then stopped from boarding the aircraft. They said FIA officials told them that Pakistani Christians had been traveling to Thailand, Malaysia and Sri Lanka to seek asylum, and therefore they would not be allowed to leave the country.

The lawyer for the pair, Mushtaq Gill, said that citizens whose passports stated their religion as Christian were often ordered to provide evidence that they would return to Pakistan. He said that on a trip to Italy in December 2014 he was apprehended by FIA officials at the airport, and was only allowed to travel after asking other officials to intervene.


"This is also a very serious issue to raise globally," Gill told BosNewsLife. “The fact that so many Christians are seeking asylum abroad, speaks volumes of the persecution they face in this country. Christians in Pakistan face discrimination; mob violence; misuse of blasphemy laws; inequality before law; threats and harassment; and unequal job opportunities,” he added in separate remarks.

Pakistani Christian rights activists say the FIA regularly apprehends Christians as they are about to board international flights and takes them to interrogation rooms where they are “disrespected and harassed.”

The Pakistan Christian Post website claimed that some Pakistani Christians who are regular travelers to Europe and North America are forced to pay bribes to FIA officials before being allowed to board their flights.

Activists say Pakistani Christians face widespread persecution, and many have been killed in church attacks and other violence while several remain jailed on what critics view as trumped-up charges of blasphemy against Islam, the main religion in the Asian nation.

Pakistan Government conspires crisis for Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in Thailand

Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC in a statement issued here today have condemned Pakistan government and their Christian tools on forcing Farrukh Saif Foundation to terminate their Rescue Christian operations in Thailand.

After rising violence against Christians on pretext to blasphemy laws; The Pakistani Christian Christians started fleeing from Pakistan in 2006 to safe their lives.

As, the champions of Human Right countries in West denied Christians visitor or non-immigrant visa as issues to wealthy and influential Pakistani Muslims who later pose political oppression and seek asylum, the truly persecuted Christian headed towards Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong which had easy visa policy and cheap airfare.

It is on record that when Christian village Shanti Nagar was attacked by Muslim mob on pretext to blasphemy, burning homes, Churches and health facilities in 1997, none of Christian victim family was issued visa by any European country, even the hundreds of effected families observed sit-in Islamabad to invite attention of diplomats.

There was 20% population of Hindus in Pakistan on time of partition of sub-continent of India in 1947 and 13% of Christians which is claimed to by only 4% by statistical division of government of Pakistan after census of 1988, because majority of Hindus from Sindh province of Pakistan fled to India but Pakistani Christians have no land to flee because Western Countries whom they viewed as brothers under Holy Book accepted Pakistani Muslim economic migrants nor Christians.

According to sources of Pakistan Christian Post, there are more than 10,000 Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in Thailand, about 4,000 in Malaysia, more than 2,000 in Sri Lanka and in figure of hundreds in Singapore and Hong Kong, who are duly registered with offices of United Nations Refugee Commission UNHCR in respective countries.

In 2014, Pakistan government pressured government of Sri Lanka to deport Pakistani Christian and Ahmedi asylum seekers registered with UNHCR Colombo and to pose visa restrictions for Pakistani visitors who enjoyed entry on arrival from decades.

As Pakistani government have provided logistic support to Sri Lankan army to crush Tamil Tiger insurgency, in reward become successful to convince it to have visa restrictions for Pakistani individuals to stop flow of Pakistani Asylum seekers.

In 1990, when first victim of blasphemy was killed by poisoning in Lahore jail and arrest under blasphemy started rising, a Christian Non-Governmental organization NGO named CLAAS surface which received huge funding’s from human right organizations to support cases of Christian blasphemy victims in Pakistan. The CLAAS became successful to settle few blasphemy victims in Western countries with help of their donors but we can count such numbers on fingers.

The formation of an NGO became a customary among Pakistani Christians when violence rose against Christians on accusations of blasphemy on sad incidents of firing and bombing Churches, setting on fire Christian colonies, gunning down pastors and brutal broad daylight murder of blasphemy accused in court compounds.

All such Christian NGO,s funded by Western countries remained limited to fighting cases of blasphemy victims and preparing reports for their donors including CLAAS when thousands of Christians started fleeing from Pakistan to South Asian and Far East Southern Asian countries after 2006. The Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in different South East Asian countries faced many problems but none of such NGO stepped forward to solve issues of them because such deed might have brought them in bad books of government of Pakistan which never appreciated mass migration of individuals of Pakistani Christians due to controversial legislations.

In such difficult situation, World Vision in Progress WVIP headed by Mr. Farrukh Saif emerged as leading entity to support blasphemy victims to settle in South and South Eastern Asian countries with establishment of safe houses and provision of daily needs.

Hundreds of Pakistani Christian asylum seekers were helped by Farrukh Saif to feed during proceedings of their refugee cases with UNHCR while all other Christian NGO never took note of their daily needs under pressure of government.

When Sri Lankan government imposed visa requirements for Pakistani citizen, Mr. Farrukh Saif commissioned his center in Bangkok where thousands of Pakistani Christians asylum seekers were facing dire situation.

The Farrukh Saif Foundation FSF Bangkok office provided food packages, paid bail bonds for arrested Pakistani Christian asylum seekers and rent of homes of families who were left alone by other organizations.

After successfully reducing flow of Christian asylum seekers in Sri Lanka, the next target of Pakistan government was Thailand where we observed crackdown and mass arrest of Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in year 2014-15.

Pakistan Christian Post have reported on behalf of reliable sources in many posts that Pakistani establishment engaged many Christian parliamentarians, religious leaders and Christian NGO workers through Inter-Services Intelligence ISI and Intelligence Bureau IB to arrange visits of their such Christian tools to Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Thailand to collect data of Pakistani Christian asylum seekers.

After collecting data of Pakistani Christian Asylum Seekers through their Christian tools, the Pakistan Establishment provided misinformation to offices of UNHCR in respective countries to create difficulties for Pakistani Christian Asylum seekers to prove that these applicants have not genuine cases and had been enjoying due equal rights in Pakistan; such voices of enjoyment of equal rights were also heard by some Christian agents of Pakistan governments on International Forums.

Nazir S Bhatti said “It was very sad and socking news of termination of Farrukh Saif FSF operation led by Mr. Farrukh Saif in Bangkok which was only ray of hope for Pakistani Christian Asylum seekers who were receiving food packages, rent of homes, legal and financial help for asylum seekers in Immigration Detention Centers and raising voice for their rights to seek asylum on International Forums and on media which was disliked by Government of Pakistan”

“We must not stab in back of our Christian activists like Farrukh Saif unless our nation will perish and such government tools will be recorded as traitors when history of Pakistani Christian will be written” added Nazir Bhatti

According to sources of Pakistan Christian Post, the Christian agents of Pakistan Embassy in Bangkok and IB and ISI agents directly threatened to Mr. Farrukh Saif to pack up his operation to support Pakistani Asylum Seekers unless their Christian agents will create immense problems for him in month of May, 2015.

PCC urged FSF Chief Mr. Farrukh Saif to keep his Bangkok office operational to perform his noble cause for Pakistani Christian Asylum Seekers and assured him that our support will always be with him and FSF.

Pakistan: Ahmedis in a Chakwal village fear for their lives

 On a first visit, one only notices the calm which engulfs the sleepy village of Pichnand, located some 90 kilometres from the district capital, in Talagang tehsil. Most of its 24,000 residents earn their livelihood from agriculture and cattle farming.

And walking through the quiet winding streets of the village, it is hard to tell that underneath the calm, simmer religious tensions with extremism on the rise in the Talagang tehsil, 45 kilometres from Chakwal. New blasphemy cases are routinely registered in the area, in most of which a man named Mohammad Saeed is the complainant and an advocate named Tariq Mehmood is the counsel.

The growing number of such cases has left 80 members of the Ahmedi community, who occupy 15 houses in the Pichnand village, in perpetual state of fear. Religious conferences are regularly organised in the village where hate speech is delivered against the marginalised Ahmedi community. These events have also put the village under the spotlight of the local press.

The latest blow came on May 4, when on the orders of a District and Sessions court, the minarets and dome of the sole worship place of Ahmedis in the village were demolished.

According to law, a worship place of Ahmedis cannot have minarets or domes as it makes it resemble a mosque. The demolition was welcomed by religious leaders of the area from Deobandi and Barelvi sects alike and for days, local newspapers ran statements from religious leaders who hailed it as a positive step. This has intensified hatred against the Ahmedis in the village.

The central deputy general secretary of Majlis-i-Ehrar Islam Pakistan (MEIP), Dr Omar Farooq, wrote a highly inflammatory article in a local Urdu newspaper titled ‘Qadianis in Pichnand face defeat’.

“We cannot call our worship place a mosque, neither can our worship places have minarets nor domes as these are the symbols of a mosque. We cannot call the Azaan on a loud speaker. We are not even allowed to say ‘Asalam-o-Alaikum’ as we are banned to do so by law,” laments an elder of the Ahmedi community in the village.

“Of course, such law only exists in Pakistan,” he hastens to add.

The first Ahmedi of this village was Malik Mohammad Khan a soldier in the British Army, who during the First World War became an Ahmedi. Most Ahmedi residents of the village today belong to lower social castes and are vulnerable to attacks at the hands of extremist clerics.

“The situation was quite peaceful till 2008 when a campaign was launched against us by some hardliner clerics residing in Talagang,” says an Ahmedi resident.

In 2008 some clerics from Talagang city launched a campaign against Ahmedis claiming that they were trying to expand their worship place. This campaign resulted in the registration of a case in 2011.

Since 2008, anti-Ahmedi literature is routinely distributed in the village. Three years later the first conference titled ‘Tahafuz-i-Khatam-i-Nabuwat’ was organised in the village by Tehreek-i-Tahafuz-i-Khatam-i-Nabuwat (TTKN) in which the religious leaders deliver hate speech against Ahmedis.

“Pamphlets filled with abusive and derogatory slogans against us are distributed in the village and members of the MEIP and the TTKN put up anti-Ahmedi stickers on the doors of shops and houses in the village,” says another Ahmedi.

Copies of the pamphlets, available with Dawn, speak volumes about the gravity of the situation. One pamphlet issued by the MEIP carries a list of 35 Ahmedi men of the village. The addresses and even castes of all these 35 individuals are mentioned along with their names. The pamphlet urges Muslims of mainstream sects to socially and politically boycott these Ahmedis.

“Such kind of hate material is intensifying the security risk we face. Our children are bullied in the village school and we fear for their lives,” says another member of the Ahmedi community.

The Ahmedis in this village question the seriousness of the much-touted National Action Plan (NAP). “Where is the NAP when hate speeches continue to be delivered and columns against us are published in the press,” asks an Ahmedi.

A police official while admitting the sensitivity of the situation said: “Everyone should be free to live their life in accordance with their religion.”

Talking to Dawn, Amir Mehmood, in-charge of Press Section of Jamaat-i-Ahmediya Pakistan expressed concerns over the plight of Ahmedis in Pakistan.

“We actively participated in the Pakistan Movement but today the space for our community is shrinking each day,” he says.

“In Lahore, 86 Ahmedis were butchered and our women were burnt alive in Gujranwala but we did not even stage a peaceful protest rally. We are bearing all this silently,” he adds.

Holding government responsible for the plight of Ahmedis, Mr Mehmood says the situation is getting worse each day.

“It is the responsibility of the state to protect its citizens irrespective of their religious association,” he says.

When approached, District Police Officer (DPO) Dr Moeen Masood vowed to take action against those involved in spreading hatred against Ahmedis.

“Nobody would be allowed to violate the law. We would take legal action against those who are publishing such hate material,” he said.

Pakistan - Balochistan Government Should Serve The Public Not Land Mafia

Transporters in Quetta city are on strike since 20th April. For more than two weeks, passengers that want to travel to Quetta from interior Balochistan are facing a great deal of misery. Reason for this strike is that Balochistan government is hell bent on shifting all bus stands to Hazar Gunji, a suburb located 32 KM out of Quetta city. The indifference of Balochistan government to the suffering of common people has even forced people to ask whether Dr. Malik is there enemy number one?
The idea of shifting bus stands to Hazar Gunji was envisioned in late 1990s. Logic behind this decision was to reduce the flow of traffic in Quetta city. Hazar Gunji failed to materialize as a project due to several reasons including long distance form Quetta, security situation and lack of intra-city transportation services. Hazar Gunji was used as pick and drop point for passengers for few years and that caused a great deal of misery to common man. On public pressure, majority of bus stands were shifted back inside the city. Since coming to Power, Dr. Malik government is doing its level best to shift all bus stands back to Hazar Gunji.
Dr. Malik Baloch, Chief Minister of Balochistan, is running a coalition government and he is under the influence of his main ally, Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP). It’s alleged that some ministers and members of Provincial assembly belonging from PKMAP have bought majority of land near Hazar Gunji. These people who serve as land mafia in Quetta are behind the decision of shifting bus stands to Hazar Gunji. If all bus stands are shifted to Hazar Gunji then the value of land owned by members of Land mafia would inflate by hundreds of times. So, Dr. Malik is pleasing his allies at the cost of common passengers of Balochistan which is condemnable.
Normally, Bus stands are located out of cities to reduce the flow of traffic inside the city. Hazar Gunji was also planned for the same purpose but it lacks pre-requites for such bus stands. The biggest problem is lack of availability of comfortable transport that can be used by passengers to reach Quetta city from Hazar Gunji. Balochistan government has utterly failed in making any arrangements in this regard and that’s what made Hazar Gunji a failure. If a passenger travels from Mastung to Quetta then he pays Rs. 100 as fare to reach Hazar Gunji but he has to pay further Rs. 200 to reach Quetta city. This is equivalent to economic murder of poor people of Balochistan and not acceptable under any circumstances. Secondly, Hazar Gunji has a high crime incidence and robbery, snatching and looting of valuables is a common occurrence. Traders in Hazar Gunji close their shops well before evening. In such circumstances how can passengers use this as a pick and drop point in the evening?
During last two weeks, Dr. Malik and his cabinet has not done anything to resolve the issue. Dr, Malik even claims that shifting the bus stands to Hazar Gunji is in interest of people and that’s why He would not reverse that decision. Karim Baksh a resident of Dhadar told The Balochistan Point that he would have to pay extra Rs. 250 to reach Quetta city if bus stands are shifted to Hazar Gunji. Mr. Karim questioned Dr. Malik that how is paying an additional Rs. 250 per trip in his best interest? It’s clear that Balochistan government has no regard whatsoever for the plight of common people.
The Balochistan Point had argued in its editorial in February that shifting bus stands to Hazar Gunji would be a huge mistake. In this editorial, Balochistan government is urged to stop protecting the interests of land mafia and prioritize the convenience of common people. Decision of shifting Bus stands to Hazar Gunji should be postponed till the time when adequate arrangements are made. In a realistic situation, it would take years, not months to turn Hazar Gunji into a suitable location of Bus stands of Quetta. Meanwhile, Bus stands can be allowed to operate from Sariab raid and Spini road. Government should provide facilities to the passengers in these temporary bus stands. That’s the need of the hour and demand of the masses and government should act upon these recommendations without wasting any time.
Since coming into power, Dr. Malik Baloch has been nothing but a major failure. He has let the people of Balochistan down in very aspect. Detractors of Dr. Malik justifiably say that incumbent government has set new records in failure. Now, it’s clear that Dr. Malik would not be Chief Minister after December 2015, as per Murfree Accord. Therefore, Dr. Malik must make at least one pro-people decision in his tenure and reverse the decision of shifting of bus stands to Hazar Gunji. If he doesn’t do that then a bleak future waits ahead for him once he leave the office of Chief Minister. He would be even a bigger example of failure than Nawab Aslam Raisani.

Pakistan - KPK Opposition Rejects APC of PTI

The leader of Awami National Party (ANP), Mian Iftikhar siad that PTI should resign from provincial government, as they possess no authority to rule after waht had happened in Local Body polls.

While talking to media, Mian Iftikhar said that all opposition parties rejects PC called by PTI. Mian Iftikhar accused PTI of rigging and demand that provincial government should resign as they possess no mral right to do so.
Mian Iftikhar also announced the formation of alliance of opposition parties who will decide the future policy of opposition in the KPK.

Pakistan - The Hazara horror

The horror that has confronted the tiny Hazara community, an ethnic and religious minority concentrated in Quetta, continues. The Hazaras have continued to be slaughtered in this country. In 2013, hundreds were killed in bomb blasts targeting the community in Quetta. And there seems to be no end. Five more Hazaras, all reported to be young men, were shot dead in what police say is a targeted attack near the congested Bacha Khan chowk in Quetta on Sunday. Four died on the spot; one a few hours later at the Civil and Military Hospital. Once more, Hazara families will bury their dead and place photographs of those felled so cruelly at prominent spots in their homes. Such photographs, with garlands around them, can be seen now in almost every Hazara home in Quetta. The prime minister has condemned the attack, so has the chief minister and other officials. But the reality is that the killings have not been controlled. In the last week or so, over half a dozen Hazaras have been killed in similar attacks in Quetta. The solution offered by authorities – that the community be virtually shut into areas where they live in large numbers with barricades set up outside them – is completely unacceptable. The idea is not to punish or imprison the Hazaras by holding them in jail-like camps. The real purpose must be to apprehend those responsible for murdering them, providing the Hazaras an equal right to live freely.

We have a good idea of which groups are involved in these murders. In the past, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has claimed responsibility. Some of its key leaders remain free because the police have failed to prove charges against them. There have been open admissions of murder, but even this does not lead to principal leaders being placed behind bars and penalised under the law. Essentially, these groups have been given a licence to kill. They kill freely and when they choose. The Hazaras, essentially defenceless, have become a prime soft target. To escape bullets and bombs, thousands have fled the country. Some have then died while attempting to flee aboard illegal ships. The horror of the Hazaras is something we should all be ashamed of. It is something we should be treating with far greater attention and a much more determined effort. The continuing killings are simply unacceptable. Condemnations and condolences to families are not enough. More has to be done to stop the hatred. The fact that we seem unable to stem it does not say anything at all about our capacity or our capability as a state able to uphold the security of all its citizens. 

Pakistan - 'Pro-rich' budget proposals based on IMF conditions

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah on Tuesday called the PML-N budget for the upcoming fiscal year "pro-rich", and said it is unlikely that revised revenue targets will be met.
Shah said the fiscal year 2015-2016 budget proposals were made on conditions placed by the International Monetary Fund.
He demanded a new National Finance Commission award, and for the government to divert more resources towards primary education and health.
The senior PPP leader censured the PML-N government for not ending load-shedding in the country despite promises to do so. “The government could not provide uninterrupted electricity supply to industries despite its commitment. That is why industrial growth has decreased,” Shah said.
He also pointed out that the government had missed targets in the agricultural and industrial sectors.
Shah drew the attention of the government towards the plight of farmers, saying due price should be paid for agricultural products.
He criticised the imposition of a tax on poultry feed, while exemptions were granted for spare parts of airplanes and large vehicles.
The privatisation policy of the government also came under fire, as Shah said the government sold Heavy Electrical Complex and HBL shares cheap.
However, he appreciated the government's increase in allocation of funds for the Benazir Income Support Programme, Baitul Maal, and the launch of Metro Buses ─ while criticising the annual subsidy on Metro Bus Project. He also said the PPP would support government's move toward de-politicising the Federal Board of Revenue.
The government's revised revenue target was still not likely to be achieved, Shah said during the session.
The Leader of the Opposition said the PPP government, during its tenure, had faced many challenges including global recession, high prices of petroleum products and terrorism.
“The PPP government had given a 125 per cent increase in the salaries of the government employees in its last tenure. I urge the government to increase the salary of government employees by at least 25pc,” he suggested.
Shah called for an all parties conference to discuss the issue of rapid population growth.
Before initiating the debate on budget, Shah suggested parliament pass a resolution condemning the statement of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Bangladesh.
He said that Modi's statement was condemnable, and the Foreign Officeshould play its role in this regard.
“Pakistan wants friendly ties with neighbours but India wants to challenge sovereignty of Pakistan,” he said.

Pakistan - Balochistan conundrum

Balochistan’s bloodletting shows no signs of ending. On Sunday, five more Hazaras were shot dead in an attack on two shops in the commercial hub of Quetta, Bacha Khan Chowk. The assailants got away scot-free despite the police and Frontier Corps (FC) being deployed barely 300 yards away from the incident. Markets closed in response to the atrocity, traffic went off the roads, and a belated police sweep of the area yielded 33 of the cast of usual suspects, many of whom will probably be eventually freed since these arrests are clearly barking up the wrong tree. A crowd of the Hazara community came out on the streets with the coffins of the victims and as they have done in the past, refused to bury the dead till the perpetrators were caught. On Sunday night, the Balochistan administration and the protestors were still in talks to vacate the sit-in. There has been no claim of responsibility so far but if the past is any guide, the killings bear all the hallmarks of the author of previous such murders, i.e. the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), which has never been shy of such claims and may still come forward to claim the ‘prize’. Unfortunately, the security forces in Balochistan, led from the front by the FC, have failed to protect the Hazaras or lay their hands on the self-confessed killers of the LeJ. Disconcertingly, the LeJ operates almost openly in Punjab but has never been laid hold of there either, with their leader Malik Ishaq freed by our flawed justice system. The Hazaras have been crying hoarse since the spate of killings of their community began that they are being subjected to genocide, but the response of the state has been less than satisfactory, if there has been any response at all. The pattern of killings is by now well established, and the response by groups such as Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen and Hazara Democratic Party too predictable. The former has called for five days of mourning and a strike on Monday (yesterday). The latter has called for three days of mourning. These calls have been supported by almost all the parties of Balochistan.

Unfortunately the response of the federal and Balochistan governments too is all too predictable and inadequate. Mere condemnations and compensation to the families of the victims does not quite cut it. Ironically, Chief Minister Balochistan Dr Abdul Malik Baloch was in Lahore on Sunday attending a meeting of his National Party. At almost the same moment as he was boasting of having improved the law and order and security situation in his province, the five Hazaras’ light was being extinguished. To his credit, the chief minister did argue in his address in Lahore that what was needed for the province was to persuade the Baloch, especially those estranged, angry, in the mountains or abroad, with love, negotiations, mainstreaming, not mere reliance on force or even development projects. This is of course correct and logical, and the chief minister must be appreciated for at least stating this view consistently, even if he is unable to do much about it because his hands are tied, the approach to the nationalist insurgency is dictated by the security forces and not the elected provincial government he heads, and therefore his credibility and ability to deliver even if some of the insurgents agreed to talk to him have big question marks over them. Unfortunately, of late a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to terrorism and the Baloch nationalist insurgency has seen both the civilian and military leadership dump everything into Indian intelligence agency RAW’s basket, obliterating thereby the important distinction between terrorism fuelled by fanatics not amenable to reason, and the nationalist insurgents struggling for a political cause of long standing that revolves around deprivation of rights, the separatist sentiment that has flourished because of the authorities’ hardline approach notwithstanding. Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch is from and a man of his people. His words should be listened to with far more seriousness than has been accorded them to date. But to make the paradigm shift to what he advocates, i.e. a political solution through negotiations of the Balochistan conundrum, he has to be empowered in principle and practice before he can cut anything but a sorry and helpless figure whom the insurgents do not take seriously. 

Pakistan, Only For A Few

The federal government has asked the heads of departments, to implement a cabinet decision to gradually introduce Urdu as the official language of the country. According to a circular, these heads have also been asked to propose ways in which Urdu could take the place of English. Article 251 of the constitution of Pakistan taking precedence, the cabinet decided on May 14, that Urdu would be the official language. This Article entails that the ‘English language may be used for official purposes until arrangements are made for its replacement by Urdu’. The heads of the departments have been informed that working papers for cabinet meetings will be prepared in Urdu and all its proceeding and minutes will also be in the national language. Moreover, the bureaucracy has been asked to write notes and orders on official files in Urdu, instead of English, with all the ministries been directed to correspond with each other and with other departments in the national language.
This decision to convert the whole Pakistani system, into Urdu, one that is been done in the name of ‘nationalism’ is quite problematic, given that this language is no more spoken than one can say, English is. If only about 7.8 percent of the people actually speak Urdu as their mother tongue, is it really advisable, to rashly implement such a change, one that really is only entrenched in an idealistic scenario of uniformity in Pakistan?

Urdu was introduced as a vehicular language, when the British were trying to implement a subsequent ban on Persian in the subcontinent. The decision to make the language change was to introduce a universal language throughout the British Raj, in order to minimise the influence of all the invading empires that came before them. Why is it that we are so bent on institutionalising a language, one that was forced upon us then, and try to again dominate the masses of our country by it? If one can see English as a language that is alien to the majority of people, then Urdu, a language that is mainly spoken by elite and a vast part of urban Sindh, has the same repercussions.

Pakistan has always been, and still is today, a country that has a plethora of regional languages, where Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto and Balochi are only the dominant ones that can be found. Looking at an obvious diversity regarding languages, Urdu can simply not become that all-encompassing layer, that the government themselves have chosen to promote as what Pakistani’s should speak. What we must understand is that a nation’s sense of identity does not branch out from a language spoken by a few; it comes from peoples’ welfare, education, and access to equal opportunities, despite there being a difference in its people.