Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Taylor Swift - Bad Blood ft. Kendrick Lamar

Video - Protesters throw petrol bombs as Greek parliament votes on bailout reforms

Video - Obama Tells Jon Stewart Lessons He's Learned

New York moves to raise state minimum wage to $15 for fast-food workers

New York moved on Wednesday to raise the minimum wage for fast-food workers to $15 an hour by the end of 2018 in New York City and by mid-2021 in the rest of the state.
The New York Wage Board voted unanimously for the increase, which would cover some 180,000 workers statewide and affect fast-food chains with 30 locations or more in the United States.
The three-member board was formed at the behest of Governor Andrew Cuomo in May after the state legislature turned down his proposals for minimum wage increases for most workers.
Its decision does not need legislative approval, but requires approval by the state labor commissioner, which is expected.
“This is going to help hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, but this is going to do something else," said a beaming Cuomo at a jubilant rally in New York City celebrating the vote. "Because when New York acts, the rest of the states follow."
With the federal minimum wage at $7.25 an hour since 2009, labor and religious groups have pressed state and local governments to enact pay raises as their hopes dim for an increase by the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress.
Last month, Los Angeles set its minimum wage to rise from $9 an hour to $15 by 2020, affecting some 600,000 workers.
Seattle and San Francisco also have increased minimum wages in recent years.
A statewide wage increase for fast-food workers as opposed to city-based would be a first, said the National Employment Law Project, a nonprofit advocacy group.
The rise to $15 an hour marks a major step from New York's current minimum wage of $8.75.
"I feel fabulous," said Harley Perez, 19, who work 30 hours a week at a fast-food restaurant but depends on food stamps to get by.
"I won't have this chokehold with bills, and I won't need to depend so much on the government for help," she said.
Sixty percent of New York's fast-food workers rely on some form of public benefit to supplement their earnings, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute.
The increase would be phased in, taking effect by the end of 2018 in New York City and by July 1, 2021, in the rest of the state.

Business groups and other critics slammed the decision as discriminatory because it singles out one industry, and legal challenges are expected.

Video Report - President Obama on Reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank

Ghazal - BY GHULAM ALI - Chupke Chupke Raat Din

Balochistan - Too Little Too Late

A delegation comprising of National Party (NP) leaders met Khan of Kalat in London last week. Khan of Kalat, Prince Suleman Dawood, heard them and politely refused to return to Balochistan on their request. This latest move by Dr. Malik Baloch and his party members is too little too late for solving the Balochistan conflict.
When Dr. Malik Baloch took power as Chief Minister (CM) of Balochistan in June 2013, people had hopes that he would start dialogue with Baloch insurgents on emergency basis. Dr. Malik Baloch was considered a last hope for resolution of Balochistan problem. Apart from few rhetorical statements initially, Dr. Malik Baloch didn’t bother to take any practical steps to make any progress towards solving the Balochistan conflict.
There are several problems with the latest desperate move of NP-led government to bring Khan of Kalat to solve Balochistan conflict. First problem is that Khan of Kalat, despite his official position, doesn’t hold much power or influence among the Baloch insurgents who call the shots on ground. Position of Khan of Kalat since 1948 has only been a symbolic figurehead for erstwhile Kalat state. Therefore, believing that Khan of Kalat’s return to Balochistan will miraculously solve all problems of Balochistan is naïve.
Second problem is that so-called Baloch Jirga (delegation) that went to meet Khan of Kalat only comprised of NP Leaders namely; Nawab Mohammad Shahwani, Khalid Langau, Kabir Muhammad Shahi and Sardar Kamal Bangulzai. This changed the outlook of this delegation from representatives of Baloch to representatives of National Party. Ideally, tribal leaders from all political parties should have been made a part of this delegation. Alas, making ideal and wise decisions is not something that National Party is comfortable with.
Third issue is related to division in current government over how to approach this issue. NP delegation made one effort and Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, senior minister, made another parallel government. Due to their vested interests both NP and PML-N couldn’t even make a joint effort to persuade Khan of Kalat to return. That proves that both these parties prefer their petty political interests over the core issue of Balochistan.
Moreover, coming to the point that why NP did conducted this futile exercise? The only fathomable reason is that they want to use it to create a reason to remain in office after December this year. As per Murree accord signed between NP, PML-N and Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP) Dr. Malik Baloch will quit office of CM in favor of PML-N. By bringing Khan of Kalat back to Pakistan, NP desperately wanted to create a reason that it should continue to rule in Balochistan. Unfortunately, this move didn’t work and NP doesn’t have the excuse to remain in office even after December 2015.
Balochistan conflict is too complex to be solved by the return of a head of a former state of British era. Current Balochistan problems are a complicated mix of deprivation of last 68 years, role of tribal chieftains and allegedly involvement by foreign countries. In order to solve these problems, they need to be endorsed and accepted first.
After passing of 18th amendment of constitution of Pakistan and 7th NFC award, Balochistan has got substantial provincial autonomy although a lot is to be done. This means that the recently acquired provincial autonomy needs to be exercises in improving living standards of people of Balochistan. After 7th NFC, Balochistan has got 885 billion from federal receipts in last 6 years but it has failed to benefit common people. Bad governance, corruption and misplaced priorities of current NP government and former Raisani government have compounded sense of deprivation in Balochistan.
What needs to be done is that a multi-pronged strategy put in place to solve Balochistan issue. There are four parties to this conflict; Balochistan government, federal government, Baloch insurgents and security establishment. Until and unless all four of these parties show willingness to solve this problem on negotiation table there will not any solution.
Certain decisions in context of Balochistan are really difficult to take which are related to security matters. However, the easiest decisions in this context are under the provincial ambit. Provincial government of Balochistan needs to bring its house in order and do all that it’s necessary to improve living standards of common people of Balochistan. In first step rampant corruption prevalent at government and bureaucratic level needs to be completely eradicated.
Failed attempt by NP-delegation to persuade Khan of Kalat to return to Pakistan was nothing more than a face-saving tactic. This exercise baldy failed and further exposed the inability of Dr. Malik Baloch and his allies to tackle any issue successfully. In future, NP or any successive governments should avoid childish antics such as sending ministerial delegations to Khan of Kalat. Steps like these are only aimed at fooling people and not achieving any concrete results.

Islamic State could trip up U.S. plans to leave Afghanistan

The emergence of militants in Afghanistan claiming allegiance to Islamic State could disrupt White House plans to remove the remaining U.S. troops in that country by the end of next year.
Islamic State has provided new ammunition to Pentagon and Afghan officials seeking to persuade the White House to reverse its decision to pull out U.S. troops. Their argument, in effect, is that Islamic State could grow and the same security collapse that occurred in Iraq could happen in Afghanistan if the U.S. removes its troops as planned.
Gen. John Campbell, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said Sunday that President Obama’s pledge to withdraw most of the 9,800 troops in Afghanistan by the end of 2016 was made before the appearance of Islamic State. He said the militant group has contributed to a worsening overall security situation in the country this year.

Neither Islamic State nor the far more powerful Taliban insurgency is a threat to take over Afghanistan next year, Campbell told a small group of reporters in Kabul, the Afghan capital. But he said, “If we leave and there’s no money coming in, years later could that happen? Yeah, maybe.”
Those warnings were echoed by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in a meeting with Campbell and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who made a one-day visit to Afghanistan. The Afghan president warned directly about the threat posed by Islamic State and called for long-term military collaboration with the U.S. to prevent the group from taking root in South Asia, officials said
Islamic State is a small but growing threat in Afghanistan, Campbell said, mainly composed of former Taliban fighters, including some from Pakistan, who split off and “rebranded” themselves after seeing the group’s success in Iraq and Syria.
The group is active in three Afghan provinces in the south and east — Helmand, Faryab and Nangarhar, he said, adding that he could not estimate its size.
Some have joined the group after being driven out of Pakistan by its security forces or disaffected former Taliban insurgents angry about that group’s decision to hold talks on a potential peace deal with Ghani’s government.
Taliban and Islamic State militants have been fighting each other in some cases, he said.
“We used to call it nascent,” Campbell told a small group of reporters Sunday, referring to Islamic State’s presence in Afghanistan. "Now we say it’s probably operationally emergent.”
Campbell emphasized that he had not finalized recommendations to the Pentagon and White House about the pace of the troop pullout. But he said the threat from Islamic State would factor into his recommendations, due to the White House this fall.
Ghani has already drawn on his warm relationship with President Obama to persuade the White House to delay the drawdown plan once. The U.S. troop level was originally planned to drop to 5,500 by the end of this year, but Obama announced in March after a meeting with Ghani that he would allow 9,800 soldiers to remain through December to continue training Afghan troops and to carry out counter-terrorism operations.
Ghani has lobbied the White House consistently since taking office this year to keep U.S. forces in Afghanistan after 2016. After next year, the White House has said only a few hundred troops will remain, working out of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.
White House officials have shown no signs that they are willing to back away from the 2016 deadline. Nor is it clear that they share Ghani’s assessment about the threat from Islamic State in Afghanistan.
But Ghani is urging U.S. officials to rethink their future military relationship with Afghanistan because of the threat from Islamic State. In his meeting Sunday, he suggested the U.S. and its allies could use Afghanistan as a counter-terrorism base to oppose the rise of Islamic State throughout South Asia, Dempsey said.
Ghani has held two videoconferences with Obama to talk about the threat posed by Islamic State and is likely to have another soon, Campbell said. “He said, 'I know, President Obama, the promises you made to the American people [about leaving Afghanistan], and I don’t want to violate that,’” Campbell quoted Ghani as saying. “'But conditions here have changed. Let me make sure you understand how I see this.’”
Dempsey said he agreed that the U.S. needed to have a transnational strategy against Islamic State and said he would raise Ghani’s idea that Afghanistan could serve as a hub from which the U.S., its allies and Afghanistan itself could work to prevent Islamic State from gaining followers in South Asia the way it has in the Middle East.
Dempsey, who has announced he is stepping down as chairman in September, stopped short of calling for U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan after next year, saying there needed to be discussions with the White House. Campbell suggested that one scenario was for the U.S. to contribute troops to a NATO-led operation after 2016 that would continue training Afghan security forces. As recently as 2011, the U.S. had about 100,000 troops in Afghanistan. The 9,800 that remain are confined largely to conducting training and carrying out airstrikes. Several thousand special operations troops continue to conduct counter-terrorism operations within Afghanistan, a mission that some senior officers favor continuing.
“As you look at the world, I think it probably would benefit us to have a regional [counter-terrorism] presence,” Campbell said.
Taliban insurgents now operate far more freely in the south and east. They have mounted a string of high-profile assaults on guest houses and other undefended targets in Kabul and regained ground in places such as Helmand province in the south, where they once had been largely defeated.
The Afghan army and police have lost 4,100 men in combat this year and 7,800 have been wounded, a 60% increase in casualties over last year, according to figures provided by the U.S. Though many units continue to fight the Taliban, the Afghan security forces continue to be plagued by problems with equipment, logistics and tactics, said Brig. Gen. Al Shoffner, the public affairs chief for the U.S. command in Kabul.
Many of the Afghan personnel see their main duty as manning checkpoints, rather than conducting offensive operations against the insurgency. The Afghan air force operates some attack helicopters and other aircraft, but it remains years away from being able to stand on its own, U.S. officials say.
Ghani highlighted those shortcomings in his meetings Sunday, Dempsey said, making a special appeal for U.S. help in buying new planes to provide air support to Afghan ground units — a request that Dempsey said he would take back to the White House.

How Do the Republican Candidates Stack Up on Afghanistan?


Donald Trump recently failed the “commander-in-chief” test. At an event with pollster Frank Luntz on Saturday, Trump ignited a firestorm by mocking Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a former prisoner of war, for being captured. “I like people that weren’t captured, OK? I hate to tell you. He is a war hero because he was captured,” Trump said, almost immediately earning the derision of everyone who has ever served in the military or benefited from their service (read: every single American ever).
No other candidate has so bombastically failed, or passed, the test, but there is another fair measure by which we might grade them: their comments on America’s only current shooting war. (That would be Afghanistan, for those who need a refresher, where there are almost 10,000 U.S. troops who are scheduled to withdraw by the end of 2016.) I find this a convenient litmus test to see if a candidate is paying attention, aware of basic facts, supportive of American leadership, tough on terrorism, willing to lead and speak out on an unpopular topic, and understands the connection between the war in Afghanistan and America’s broader role in the world.
Astonishingly, not a single candidate has a position on Afghanistan listed on their campaign website (Marco Rubio’s is the most user friendly, by the way). Less astonishingly, none responded to my series of tweets asking their positions. It is entirely possible I’ve missed statements or speeches by some of the candidates (there are 16 of them, after all); please feel free to flag updates and omissions in the comments section below. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order.
Jeb Bush. In February Bush said he would not second-guess his brother’s decisions on Iraq and Afghanistan because “I won’t talk about the past.” He soon found it necessary to talk about Iraq; talking about Afghanistan will be even more important because that war, and America’s role in it, is still ongoing. Grade: I, for incomplete.
Ben Carson. In 2013 Carson said he opposed the war in Afghanistan — not the 2009 surge there, mind you, but the initial invasion in 2001. Instead, he would have used unspecified other means to go after al-Qaida that didn’t involve military forces in Afghanistan (where al-Qaida was headquartered). Grade: F.
Chris Christie. In 2011 Christie bobbed and weaved, saying he would withdraw troops from Afghanistan based on conditions on the ground, but he also said that killing Osama bin Laden substantially achieved U.S. goals in that country and that he wasn’t “a nation-building kind of guy,” suggesting Christie does not endorse counterinsurgency, reconstruction, or stabilization, and believes we can kill our way out of the war with al-Qaida—which we can’t. Grade: C-
Ted Cruz. In April Cruz outlined criteria for American intervention abroad. Among them, he said that after employing overwhelming force, “we should get the heck out.” He continued: “It is not the job of the U.S. military to engage in nation building to turn foreign countries into democratic utopias.” This wasn’t explicitly in reference to Afghanistan — nor is it a very accurate rebuttal of what U.S. policy has actually been there — but I think it’s fair to infer that Cruz believes the United States should not have tried to support democracy or reconstruction and stabilization operations in Afghanistan. Grade: F.
Carly Fiorina. In 2010 Fiorina apparently expressed opposition to a fixed timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan, but I’ve been unable to find any other comment from her on the issue. Grade: C.
Lindsey Graham. Graham served in Afghanistan briefly in 2009 as an Army reservist and co-authored an excellent op-ed in the Washington Post with John McCain and Joe Lieberman in 2012 that hit all the right notes: Afghanistan is important, we’ve made progress which is in danger of unraveling, premature withdrawal would be foolish, and Obama has undermined his own policy with too little commitment to the war. He reiterated the points in a press release in March. Grade: A.
Mike Huckabee. In 2011 and 2012 Huckabee gave mixed signals. He opposed a fixed timetable for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, but also seemed to express doubt that the United States had made progress or was capable of securing its interests in Afghanistan. I’ve been unable to find any more recent statements. Grade: C.
Bobby Jindal. Last October Jindal gave a major speech on U.S. defense policy, but managed not to comment on the war in Afghanistan. On the other hand, in December he warned against withdrawing from Afghanistan, saying a precipitous withdrawal would replicate the same mistake Obama made in Iraq, with similar consequences. Grade: B+.
John Kasich. In April, Kasich rambled that he supported the war in Afghanistan and did not think we should “run out of Afghanistan,” but he also disparaged “nation building” and listed a bunch of interventions he opposed, including Bosnia. He’s trying to have it both ways. Grade: B-.
George Pataki. Pataki’s son served in Afghanistan. Despite that, I found no statements by him about the war one way or the other. Grade: I, for incomplete.
Rand Paul. Rand Paul’s reputation as an anti-interventionist precedes him. To be fair, he supported the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, which is more than Ben Carson. But he has made his opposition to “interventionism” central to his pitch, and I’ve written elsewhere about what is so wrong with it. Grade: F.
Rick Perry. In 2011 Perry appeared to endorse calls for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan. “It’s time to bring our young men and women home as soon, and obviously as safely, as we can,” he said. Later, he walked back those comments. Last fall he gave a foreign policy speech big on American leadership and hawkish rhetoric but with no mention of Afghanistan. More recently, he disparaged the idea of spreading democracy as a component of U.S. foreign policy. Frankly, it’s hard to tell where he stands. Grade: Do over.
Marco Rubio. In 2011 Rubio published an excellent op-ed in National Reviewthat, like Graham’s, hits all the right points. “Afghanistan’s security is critical to our own security,” he said, and “We should reject artificial timelines for troop withdrawals.” Rubio generally pays more attention to foreign policy than most of the candidates and is more outspoken about American leadership — but he missed an opportunity in his most recent foreign policyspeech to address the war in Afghanistan. Grade: A-.
Rick Santorum. In 2011 Santorum criticized Obama’s withdrawal plans and in 2012 warned that premature withdrawal would repeat the same mistake Obama made in Iraq. He also suggested “We have to either make the decision to make a full commitment, which this president has not done, or we have to decide to get out, and probably get out sooner,” though it was pretty clear which option he preferred. I was unable to find more recent statements than this. Grade: B-.
Donald Trump. In 2012 Trump apparently criticized Obama’s withdrawal plans, but also argued the United States should withdraw immediately. Seeing as incoherence is standard for Trump, this shouldn’t surprise. Grade: F.
Scott Walker. I found no comments from Walker on Afghanistan. Grade: I.
For now, it’s Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio for the win — but stay tuned.

Surveillance in Pakistan exceeds legal capacity: report

report published by London-based advocacy group Privacy International claims that the practical surveillance capacity of the Pakistani government and Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) has exceeded local and international regulation laws for surveillance.
The report released on Tuesday claims that mass network surveillance has been taking place in Pakistan since at least 2005. Pakistani intelligence agencies have allegedly abused their communications surveillance powers by spying on politicians and apex court judges. It further adds that internet censorship and widespread monitoring has been employed to target activists, lawyers and journalists.
The government obtained technology for surveillance from local as well as some foreign companies such as Ericsson, Alcatel, Huawei, SS8 and Utimaco.
Furthermore, the condition of communications surveillance in Pakistan has also been outlined in the report, and the vague laws that supervise it have been compared to international human rights law standards.
The report also claims that Pakistan participated in international intelligence operations by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). Meanwhile, Pakistan has allegedly been subject to those operations as well.
In 2013, the ISI allegedly called for the commissioning of a mass surveillance system to tap international undersea fibre optic cables, the report said. However, it was not mentioned whether Pakistan went ahead with this new surveillance system in recent times.

Surveillance in Pakistan

More than 70 per cent of the country's population has mobile phone subscriptions, and an estimated 11 per cent of the population uses the internet, the report said. This makes surveillance in Pakistan advanced and comprehensive as there are currently 50 operational internet providers and five mobile phone operators.
Some of the interception of Pakistani phone networks has been unlawful, the report claims. A case at the Supreme Court pertaining to phone tapping showed that the ISI allegedly tapped 6,523 phones in February, 6,819 in March and 6,742 in April this year.
The Pakistani military and intelligence have allegedly received high levels of funding from governments abroad in order to develop an advanced surveillance infrastructure due to the country's role in countering insurgents and Islamist groups. The report claims that agencies within the government went forward with mass storage and capture of communications of ordinary citizens. On the other hand, in the past they had mainly referred to tactical military surveillance tools.
The report also claims that the Peshawar school attack in 2014, which claimed 150 lives, has been cited as a reason to increase surveillance of communications in the country and popular support for it is high.
The report stated that Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) requires all Internet Service Providers (ISP) to provide the authority with information on their clients. As an anti-terrorism measure, PTA allegedly ordered all phone service providers and ISP to ban virtual private networks (VPN) and encryption. Banning their use has a negative impact on, journalists and sources for instance, to safely communicate information pertaining to public interest, the report elaborates.
The report claims that the PTA's licensing requires all phone service providers to make their networks ‘lawful interception-compliant’. This allows them to have access to their data.

Pakistan's cooperation in international surveillance

The government of Pakistan is known to be the largest recipient of funds from the NSA and it is allegedly involved in surveillance against its own citizens, the report claims. Pakistan is also NSA's third party partner, which means that the relationship between the two is considered to be long-term, involving “higher degrees of trust” and “greater levels of cooperation”.
The report adds that the NSA would “willing to share advanced techniques…in return for that partner’s willingness to do something politically risky”.
Pakistan's relationship with the NSA is valued to the extent that the US agency allegedly maintains a ‘special collection service’ at its embassy and consulates in Pakistan, the report claims.
Pakistani phone service providers such as Telenor, Warid, Ufone, Mobilink and Pakistan Telecommunications Limited (PTCL) have allegedly provided legal interception access and monitoring centres over the years.

Recommendations to defence committee, foreign companies and governments

The report also contains recommendations on how Pakistan may be able to shift from its current surveillance model to one that is not a threat to democracy and complies with human rights laws.
It recommends the senate committee on defence to carry out an investigation into NSA's surveillance in Pakistan and the legality of their actions, as well as the extent of arrangements made between the country's intelligence agencies and the NSA. Furthermore, it recommends that the committee should also conduct an investigation into GCHQ's alleged access to the Pakistan Internet Exchange.
To foreign companies the report recommends periodic reviews of the government's use of technology sold to them and decline further maintenance or updates if ultimately the use is not in accordance to contractual obligations. It further says that usage should be made clear in contractual agreements which include human rights safeguards and safety against unlawful usage.
The report also recommends that foreign governments and export control authorities conduct detailed audits of security cooperation provided by law enforcement, military or intelligence agencies in Pakistan since 2000, in order to deduce if such cooperation led to human rights violations.
Furthermore, it recommends ensuring human rights criteria are added to the export control provisions for surveillance technologies. The report adds that the provisions should also consider national legal frameworks and records of electronic surveillance usage.
The report concludes that laws in Pakistan should be updated in accordance with international legal standards. This includes the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. Furthermore, it adds that the government must also seek reforms from international bodies such as the UN Human Rights Committee in regard to interference with rights through communications surveillance.

Pakistan - Judicial Commission rejects PTI’s election rigging claims

 The judicial commission, tasked with holding inquiry into Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s allegations of election rigging in 2013 general election, has sent its report to the government, sources said Wednesday.

The sources told Geo News that the three-judge commission headed by the Supreme Court Chief Justice and comprising Justice Ameer Hani Muslim and Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan in its report rejected all the three allegations leveled by the PTI.

The Imran Khan led party had accused Nawaz-League of stealing people’s mandate through organized rigging in the general election which it claimed were not conducted in transparent manner.

Pakistan - Moral brigade active in Islamabad again

Are they back – the moral brigades that blackened the faces of women on advertisement boards in 2007?
At least that is what people feared when they found bared arms and faces of models on billboards defaced in Super Market during Eid shopping spree.
Nobody saw who did it but thoughts went back to religious activists, mainly seminary students, who did the same during the Lal Masjid-inspired heady ‘islah’ (reform) campaign in the federal capital eight years ago.
However, like then, neither the advertisers nor their clients have felt reporting the vandalism to the police or the Capital Development Authority (CDA).
But privately, and guardedly, many have expressed despair at the possible return of the moral brigades.
“I cannot understand what anybody will gain by causing loss to me,” said Sohail Shah, the advertiser of two of the three billboards disfigured at the Super Market.
“It will cost me Rs10,000 to change the smeared reflector screen,” he added. “Insurance is not available against vandalism and charging clients would be unreasonable and damaging to my business.”
Sobia Amir, the owner of a salon, said her ‘well-wishers’ blamed the act on right-wing students, but felt “not much can be done about it.”
Photographs of models on these billboards in an Islamabad market have been defaced. — Photos by Ishaque Chaudhry
Photographs of models on these billboards in an Islamabad market have been defaced. — Photos by Ishaque Chaudhry
Like most business persons of the city, she was reluctant to dwell any further on the subject out of fear of “firebrand clerics.”
Because the billboards were disfigured in the vicinity of a girls’ college, a cloth merchant of Super Market said, “it is possible that by striking in the heart of the city at the dead of night the vandals wanted wider coverage to their message.”
The owner of a shopping plaza, Iskander Khan, observed that madressah students indulge in such “hooliganism” to try to enforce the attire their teachers consider proper for women.
“Islamabad has no culture of hooliganism. Such incidents are rare and young Taliban are usually behind them in an effort to enforce their sharia on us,” he said, tracing the incidents to the street marches by the “female brigades” of Lal Masjid in 2007.
“We all remember the mild harassment students of big and small seminaries in F-7, F-6 and E-7 resorted to, armed with sticks, in various city markets that year,” recalled Muzamil Sabri, the president of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
He said the ICCI felt concerned at the loss individual advertisers have suffered but more so for the fear syndrome that the incidents portend for the business environment in the city.
Photographs of models on these billboards in an Islamabad market have been defaced. — Photos by Ishaque Chaudhry
Photographs of models on these billboards in an Islamabad market have been defaced. — Photos by Ishaque Chaudhry
“They don’t seem to be as belligerent this time though, as the defacing (of the advertisements) took place in the dark of night,” he added.
Perhaps the last such act in the city was reported in F-10 area in 2012.
Unlike in the past, the vandals did not leave behind such messages in their latest act of hooliganism as “fahashi, bayhayi band karo” (stop vulgarity, immorality).”
Members of the business community feel the authorities need to take notice of this practice before it spreads. “Our union leaders should take it up with them and the police,” said a businessman in Super Market who too did not wish to be named.
“Madressah students live in a different world. We don’t want to engage them,” he said. “But the police can request their teachers to restrain them from uncivil behaviour.”
An officer of the Kohsar police station, on the other hand, said, “We don’t act on our own but on an FIR which only people who feel hurt by an action can lodge.”
Although he acknowledged that “religious elements are usually behind such incidents”, he said people avoid registering an FIR against them.
When Dawn contacted the managements of Jamia Fareedia in E-7, Jamia Muhammadia F-6, Taleemul Quran F-7 and another seminary in F-6, all refused to comment, saying “the relevant persons” were away on Eid holidays.
However, an official of a small seminary in F-6 shot back at the query regarding the defacing: “Do you want to see Muslim women in such a state? There should be a ban on such nakedness because it is a conspiracy of the West against Islam.”

Pakistan - Slow response to floods as more rains forecast

The overall response to the devastation unleashed by torrential rains and flash floods in parts of the country has been much slower and smaller than required.
People of Chitral in the north remain cut off from the surrounding areas while hundreds of villages and towns have been flooded in southern Punjab.
As many as 60 villages of Ghotki district of Sindh have lost land connections to other parts, while Awaran and Zhob districts of Balochistan have also been affected. Crops grown on thousands of acres of land along at least 256 kilometers section of the river Indus have been destroyed.
Though rescue operation has been launched by civilian and military authorities, the flood affectees are struggling against the catastrophe mostly by themselves. The authorities have mostly confined their role to declare emergency and asking people to leave the affected and threatened areas.
The rescue and relief operations have been late, slow and highly insufficient despite the fact that monsoon ravages are nothing new in a country which suffers huge loss by floods almost every year, thanks to poor planning and irresponsibility on part of the authorities.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has expressed ‘grief and sorrow’ over loss of ‘precious lives’ and damages to property in Chitral floods. He has ‘directed’ the National Disaster Management Authority to gear up relief activities in the flood affected areas of the country. The prime minister could not undertake visit to Chitral Tuesday due to bad weather conditions, a press release said.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, the brother of the prime minister who has been ruling Punjab for so many years, also ‘directed’ the authorities concerned to take immediate relief and rescue measures to help the affected people, according to his media team. Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch has also ‘directed’ District Zhob administration to provide maximum relief to rain affected people on emergency basis, a press release said.
Glacial lake outbursts, cloud outbursts and flash floods hit different parts of Chitral district at midnight on July 16, causing extensive damage to houses, mosques, bridges, roads, irrigation and water channels. The communication infrastructure was also severely affected. Met Office director general however said that the situation in Chitral was the result of melting of glacier more than the monsoon rains.
Flashfloods and the subsequent landslides in Chitral have washed away more than 40 bridges and sections of roads, besides destroying more than 100 houses and 150 shops. Three persons have also been killed in different parts of the district.
Floods have also severed all land links of most valleys with main Chitral city, causing severe shortage of food items and medicines. Main road of Garamchishma, Murdan, Shughor, Karimabad, Hassanabad, Breshgram, Sosum, Koragh, Mastuj, Rumbor, Bumborat Broze, Sheshikoh, Koghuzi and others have been damaged due to flash floods, leaving thousands of people stranded in these valleys.
According to reports, there is no electricity and drinking water in Chitral since July 16 and people of the entire valley are compelled to bring drinking water from springs and water wells situated in far-flung areas. The performance of Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco), Communication and Works (C&W) Department, the Public Health and Engineering, the Water and Sanitation Unit and others has been poor so far.
According to ISPR, two army helicopters are engaged in the relief operation in Chitral. Over eight tonnes of food has so far been distributed among the stranded people and at least 50 persons have been rescued. General Officer Commanding Malakand Division Maj-Gen Nadir Khan, ISPR Swat staff along with a local media team and DPO Majeed Marwat also visited the affected areas along with food items and other essentials for the affectees.
In southern Punjab, parts of Dera Ghazi Khan, Rajanpur, Muzaffargarh, Layyah, Kehror Lall Ussain and Kot Mithan have hit by floods, submerging hundreds of villages and forcing residents to flee their areas. Levees have collapsed in district Dera Ghazi Khan while the authorities have opened spill ways of Tarbela Dam. Despite passing of three days, irrigation department has not succeeded in filling the breaches in embankment of Indus river at Basti Ramdani of town Jhakar Imam Shah, 45km from DG Khan city.
Medium level flood has directly hit more than 300 settlements and villages along the Indus River. Evacuation is going on. Most people are shifting to the river embankments and Indus Highway. To add to the tragedy, boats owners are charging at least Rs 1,000 per person to shift families to safer places.
As water level is increasing in the river day by day, district administration has issued flood warning in many areas. At least 450,000 cusecs water is passing through River Sindh at Muzaffargarh point. The authorities have shut down more than 200 canals due to flood in Head Taunsa. These canals include Muzaffargarh Canal, Dera Ghazi Khan Canal and TP Link.
The overall situation across the country may worsen as the Met Office has warned that there would be a risk of flash flooding in the local streams and nullahs of Punjab, upper KP, eastern Balochistan and Kashmir during the next three days due to unstable weather conditions and significant monsoon rains.
According to weather experts, widespread rain and thundershowers are expected in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Kashmir as well as Lahore, Gujranwala and Hazara divisions. Scattered rains are predicted in Malakand, Peshawar and Mardan divisions along with Fata and Gilgit-Baltistan. Isolated rain is also expected in Bannu, DI Khan, Sibbi, Kalat, Naseerabad, Hyderabad, Sukkur and Mirpurkhas Division.
According to reports, discharge of water from Taunsa Headworks was 410,500 cusecs with medium flood. The discharge from Kalabagh has been recorded 383,000 cusecs. The discharge from Chashma has been recorded 479,000 cusecs.
Spillways of Tarbela and Khanpur dams have been opened after surge in water level. According to the Dam Administration, water level in Tarbela dam has reached 1526 feet. Water inflow in Tarbela dam is three hundred, forty-nine thousand and two hundred (349,200) cusecs while the outflow is three hundred, nine thousand and five hundred (309,500) cusecs.