Friday, July 31, 2015


Raymond Ibrahim

A case study on the plight of Christians in the ‘Land of the Pure.’

Pakistan’s authorities appear to have found a solution to at least one of their problems in the international arena: Aasiya Noreen, or “Asia Bibi,” a 50-year-old Christian woman and mother of five who has been on death row for six years for allegedly insulting Muhammad.
Instead of executing Asia Bibi and further advertising to the international community that theirs is a savage and backwards nation — and instead of releasing her and provoking millions of angry Muslims to turn on the government and accuse it of supporting “apostasy” — Pakistan’s authorities appear to be letting time, wretched conditions, severe maltreatment, and beatings slowly kill her.
Recent reports state that she is deathly ill and “so weak she could hardly walk.” Mission Network News says that Asia Bibi has “internal bleeding, abdominal pain, and is vomiting blood. If she does not receive immediate medical care, she could die.”
According to Bruce Allen of Forgotten Missionaries International, “She suffers terrible pain, and she can hardly eat. … Here’s this woman, languishing in a prison under this death sentence for a crime that she vehemently denies.”
In June 2009, while working as a farm laborer on a hot day, Asia Bibi was told to fetch water. Because she had drunk some of the water, the Muslim workers refused it: both the cup and the water were, they said, unclean because a Christian had touched them. (See this video of an Egyptian cleric saying how disgusted he is by Christians and how he could not drink from a cup that was merely touched by a Christian.)
Before the “cup” incident, it seems, a feud between Asia and one of her Muslim neighbors concerning property damage had existed.
After the “cup” incident, her enemies and some of the Muslim workers complained to a Muslim cleric. They accused Asia Bibi of making insulting statements about the Muslim prophet, Muhammad. Her official “crime,” therefore, which she vehemently denies, is “insulting” the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
Shortly after the complaint was registered, a mob stormed her home and severely beat her and her family, including her children. They put a noose around her neck and dragged her through the streets. She was then arrested; and in November 2010, a Punjabi court fined her and sentenced her to death by hanging, in accordance to Section 295-C, which prohibits on pain of death any insult against the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
Because her case attracted attention and condemnation from the international community, six years later, she has not been executed. Instead, however, sick, isolated and regularly beaten by prison guards and Muslim inmates, she has evidently been left to rot to death.
In late 2011, a female prison-officer — assigned to provide security for Asia — was discovered beating her, “allegedly because of the Muslim officer’s anti-Christian bias, while other staff members deployed for her security looked on in silence.”
In late December 2013, Asia Bibi, a Catholic, sent a message to Pope Francis, saying,
Only God will be able to free me. … I also hope that every Christian has been able to celebrate the Christmas just past with joy. Like many other prisoners, I also celebrated the birth of the Lord in prison in Multan, here in Pakistan… I would have liked to be in St. Peter’s for Christmas to pray with you, but I trust in God’s plan for me and hopefully it will be achieved next year.
It was not. In 2014, a Pakistani court upheld her death penalty. Recently, Pope Francis called for clemency for Asia Bibi while the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom pressed the Obama administration to designate Pakistan a “country of particular concern.”
Last year, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, citing Asia Bibi in particular, as well others, called for the use of the $900 million in U.S. aid to Pakistan as leverage to help persecuted religious minorities. If these funds are not used as leverage, nearly $1 billion in U.S. aid can be seen as “rewarding” Pakistan for being openly unjust to its minorities.
Christian minorities are still arrested for “defaming Muhammad” — that is, if a Muslim mob does not get to them first and burn them alive, as happened to a Christian couple last year, and as was recently attempted against a mentally disabled Christian man.
According to Wilson Chowdhry of the British Pakistani Christian Association:
Asia Bibi is by no means the only Christian on death row for blasphemy in Pakistan. There are a number of others, and there are also other Christians who are in there for crimes they did not commit, and are in effect in there because they are Christians.
People have to contact leaders of their nations and ask them to engage on dialogue with the Pakistani government for humanitarian rights alone renew the primary place of human rights when they engage in dialogue with foreign governments which habitually violate them. We see what happens when someone tries to challenge the blasphemy laws in Pakistan, it got two key politicians killed.
In a country with such animosity against Christians, I don’t believe a Supreme Court judge will be brave enough to exonerate her.
report from 2012 found that “Since 1990 alone, fifty-two people have been extra-judicially murdered on charges of blasphemy” in Pakistan.

130 Christians face Pakistani blasphemy charges

The priest who directs the Dominican order’s peace centre in Lahore said that 130 Christians are now facing blasphemy charges in Pakistan.
“According to my estimate, there are 130 Christians whose trials are proceeding,” Fr James Channan told Aid to the Church in Need. “But people will be surprised to learn that there are about 950 Muslims currently held under the law. But there is a big difference between accusations of Muslims and Christians: if one Muslim is accused, just one Muslim is accused,” he continued. 
“But in the case of a Christian being accused, an entire community, an entire neighbourhood is accused. And in several cases the entire Christian village or a Christian neighbourhood has been burned to ashes.”
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According to the Shiite News correspondent, a Shia man Abid Hussain was martyr by Saudi funded banned outfit Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP) terrorists in Parachinar.
The terrorist target Abid Hussain in Parachinar area near the village Baghdi and he was martyred on the spot.

Pakistan - The Drive Against Polio

The recent declaration, that no new cases of polio have come up in Nigeria in the last one-year, should put pressure on Pakistan’s efforts to eradicate polio. Afghanistan and Pakistan now remain the only two countries in the world where polio remains endemic. One could argue that every country has its own set of issues and hence Nigeria cannot be compared to Pakistan, yet when 197 countries in the world are polio free, it is quite humiliating to be the only country that has failed.

Much of the effort that goes into the eradication of polio is dependable on external factors like militancy and illiteracy. Boko Haram, the hardcore militant group in Nigeria, has been targeting polio workers and earlier this year they killed nine polio workers. However, the anti-polio battle had enough commitment to make a real change.

Over twelve high-risk polio districts have been identified across Pakistan and will be under special focus during the low-transmission season starting September. The disease is somewhat isolated to these pockets mostly in FATA, Khyber and Quetta. The government has a good chance in eliminating the disease once and for all by targeting high-risk areas, no matter that the opposition. We must remember that apart from militancy, most the responsibility is on the parent, to demand from the state and society that their children are safe from disease.

Under the National Emergency Action Plan for Polio Eradication (2015-16), the National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) is strengthening cooperation between national, provincial and district level authorities, and collecting scientific data at the grassroots level to identify vulnerable segments and direct their focus on these areas. Polio cases identified in the first quarter of this year have already fallen to one quarter of what they were last year. Maybe next year, Pakistan too can be free from polio.

Pakistan - ANP on top in LG re-polling in Charsada

The local government re-polling was peacefully held here at 15 Union Councils of the district amid tight security measures.

According to unofficial results, the ANP stood at top by securing 17 seats out of a total of 49. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the Qaumi Wattan party secured 11 seats each while JUI-F won seven seats and the Jamaat-e-Islami got three seats.

A total 189 polling booths were set up including 128 for females and 61 for males.

Pakistan’s population to exceed 300 million by 2050: UN report

A United Nations report says Pakistan is among six of the 10 largest countries in the world whose population is projected to exceed 300 million by 2050.
Key findings of the ‘World Population Prospects 2015’ released by the UN on Wednesday listed China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and the United States the other five countries to have 300 million population by 2050. Pakistan’s current population has been estimated to be around 190 million. By the year 2030, the population would be 244 million, and by 2100 Pakistan’s population could be 364 million, according to the revised projections made in the report.
Among the 10 largest countries, five are in Asia and Pakistan is among them. Other countries are Bangladesh, China, India and Indonesia.
During 2015-2050, half of the world’s population growth is expected to be concentrated in nine countries: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, US, Indonesia and Uganda.
Within seven years, the population of India is expected to surpass that of China. Currently, China’s population is approximately 1.38 billion compared with 1.31 billion of India.
World population continues to grow though more slowly than in the recent past. Ten years ago, it was growing by 1.24 per cent per year. Today, it is growing by 1.18 per cent per year or approximately an additional 83 million people annually.

Are India and Pakistan Sliding toward War?

"Increasing violence along the Line of Control and near the India-Pakistan border is a clear and concerning marker of the deterioration of India-Pakistan relations on a broader scale..."

The ceasefire agreement reached between India and Pakistan in November 2003 is now unrecognizable, with firing growing steadily since late 2012. Monday’s attack on a police station in the Punjabi town of Gurdaspur, signals a new uptick in violence. The Pakistani press has blamed Kashmiri extremists for the attack, but this could well be the work of a group like the Lashkar e-Taiba. Diplomatic overtures between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif have been high on visuals, low on substance, and limited to multilateral settings. Conditions are ripe for a crisis in this strained environment, even more so if a terrorist attack on Indian soil—such as Monday’s—is traced back to extremist groups supported by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). These rising tensions make crisis management more difficult and increase the risk of a conflict with nuclear dimensions.
Prime Minister Modi’s government has warned Pakistan that it would respond severely to provocations—whether along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir or elsewhere. During the election campaign, Modi took a hard line on Pakistan, criticizing the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s “weak stand.” In May 2015, government officials were forced to downplay Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s comments on neutralizing “terrorists with terrorists only.” Regarding the Line of Control, in October 2014, then-Defence Minister Arun Jaitley threatened to inflict “unaffordable” costs on Pakistan. In December 2014, Parrikar said that if attacked, Indian forces would “react with double the force.” These deterrent threats—to respond manifold to violence—have failed to diminish violence.
Line of Control ceasefire violations were reported on 21 percent of days in 2013. Violence reached its highest levels since the 2001-2002 “Twin Peaks” crisis sparked by the December 2001 attack by Pakistani-based extremists on the Indian Parliament. This attack, accompanied by heavy firing along the Line of Control, nearly led to war. Almost one million soldiers mobilized. Violence in 2014 and 2015 has remained high, with ceasefire violations reported on 20 percent of days in 2014, and 23 percent of days in the first three months of 2015. By way of comparison, ceasefire violations along the Line of Control were reported on only ten percent of days in 2012.  
In this strained environment, Monday’s attack is especially concerning. India and Pakistan have been unable to establish effective diplomatic channels to address outstanding issues. These channels are used only sporadically and in multilateral settings. Efforts to improve trade relations and visa liberalization are proceeding slowly, and there is no forward movement on confidence-building and nuclear risk reduction measures.   
Violence migrating from along the Line of Control in Kashmir into Punjab not only poses a barrier to improved ties, but also makes crisis management more difficult and the risks of escalation greater. Terrorist attacks on Indian soil by Pakistan-based extremists sparked two recent crises: in 2008 after the Mumbai attacks, and the 2001-2002 “Twin Peaks” crisis. It remains to be seen whether Prime Minister Modi will show the restraint of his predecessors.
Recent events highlight nuclear risks associated with any India-Pakistan crisis and the wisdom of exerting greater effort to improve bilateral relations. The Line of Control is the only place on Earth where two nuclear-armed rivals regularly exchange fire. Nuclear dangers are reduced when the Line of Control is quiet; they are more worrisome when Indian and Pakistani troops exchange heavy fire.
Increasing violence along the Line of Control and near the India-Pakistan border is a clear and concerning marker of the deterioration of India-Pakistan relations on a broader scale, and makes substantive diplomatic progress between India and Pakistan less likely. Conditions are ripe for a crisis, and violence along the Line of Control will complicate crisis management. The ceasefire put into effect after the 2001-2002 “Twin Peaks” crisis has deteriorated badly. One way for India and Pakistan to stabilize relations would be to reestablish a ceasefire. India and Pakistan have not agreed to new confidence-building measures since 2007. Quieting the Line of Control would be a good place to start.  

PPP leaders called on Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari #PPPHelpingFloodAffected

 Central leader of Pakistan Peoples Party, former Coordinator to the then President Asif Ali Zardari Chuadhry Naveed and Ex: PPP MNA from Faisalabad Tariq Bajwa called on Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari separately at Bilawal House today.
The PPP leaders from Punjab discussed over all current political situation of country, the outcome of Judicial Commission report and the reaction from different political parties on the report.
They also apprised the Party Chairman about the Party structure in the Punjab and dispelled the impression that Party workers are disappointed.
PPP leaders also gave message of the workers to Chairman that they are looking towards him as a great hope and the PPP workers will be re-energized when Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari arrives in Punjab.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that PPP has faced worst situations in the dictatorial rules of martial laws and all the loyal workers stood by the Party.
He further said that Workers are backbone of the Party are and their sacrifices shall always be respected. “PPP workers should keep in mind that Bhuttoism is our ideology and we will continue struggle for our ideology to restore rights of the downtrodden” he stated.
He asked the leaders to keep contact with the workers and people at grass-root level and spread the Party message door-to-door.