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There are 21 million in need of humanitarian aid in Yemen – please listen

Night after night in Yemen’s beleaguered capital, Sana’a, I hear the continuous clack-clack-clack of anti-aircraft fire and the low hum of fighter jets overhead. I’m writing this sat in the corner of my bathroom, the “safe” space farthest from the window. It’s almost midnight and the electricity has cut again, leaving the glow of my laptop screen as the only light.
My thoughts turn to my colleagues and friends, who are almost certainly awake as well with their families. This perpetual state of fear is nothing new. It’s been going on since the conflict started over five months ago and people are terrified that things could be about to get even worse.

This war has left Yemen, already the poorest country in the region, mired in a humanitarian crisis. Coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia have been conducting a bombing campaign to try to force out rebels from the Houthi sect, who overran the country in March, and restore the previous government. Conflict has since spread to 20 of Yemen’s 22 provinces. Ordinary people have paid the price for the violence – 21 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance now, more than anywhere in the world, including Syria. The UN estimates that some 2,000 people have been killed so far, nearly a quarter of them children.
The crisis has been compounded by the fact that getting aid into Yemen and transporting it around the country is very limited. Aid agencies like Save the Children are frantically trying to scale up our response, but it’s almost impossible when we can’t get relief supplies into the country. The recent bombing of Hodeida port – the key entry point for supplies to the hungry people in the north and centre of the country – was the last straw, putting the aid effort in jeopardy at a time when people are running out of food, water and medicine.
Now rumours are rife that an escalation of attacks on the capital by Saudi-led coalition forces is imminent, in an attempt to drive out the Houthi opposition. If that happens, aid agencies could be forced to pull out altogether or to order their staff to stay indoors. The impact on one of the world’s most vulnerable populations would be devastating.
People are already desperate – I met a mother yesterday who had sold her family’s last mattress to buy her three-year-old son medicine. Now she and her children sleep on the cold, hard ground. She has nothing left to sell.

Everywhere I go people talk about food, or rather the lack of it. The spectre of famine is stalking large areas of the country. Yemen is slowly being strangled by a de facto blockade that prevents enough food and medicine getting to the families who need them most. If we don’t act soon, thousands of children will die from hunger-related causes before the year is out.
Across the country civilian infrastructure, including health facilities, markets, shops and schools, has been damaged and destroyed by airstrikes and ground war. For too long all parties to this conflict have been allowed by the international community to show an unashamed contempt for human life. More than 1,000 children have been killed or injured – a number that rises every day.
Many of the families I’ve met here have asked me why Yemen has been abandoned to its fate. The truth is I am often left wondering the same thing myself. I cannot tell them that Yemen is not popular with opinion-formers and leaders, not a cause célebre. What keeps me awake at night, besides the unnerving hum of fighter jets and crackle of artillery fire, is the fear that the world won’t understand the tragedy that is unfolding here until it’s too late.

Yemen war is a crisis the world has forgotten


IT’S almost midnight and I’m sitting in the bathroom, the space furthest away from the window and arguably the safest part of my room.
The power cut out about an hour ago, so I’m writing this by the glow of my laptop screen. Outside, I can hear the repetitive clack-clack-clack of anti-aircraft fire and the low hum of fighter jets passing overhead. It’s another sleep-deprived night in Sana’a, Yemen’s beleaguered capital.
The perpetual state of fear here is nothing new. It has been going on since the conflict started more than five months ago between two factions claiming to constitute the Government. Terrified, confused, exhausted — that is the new normal. The despair deepens as each day passes. More ground fighting, more air strikes, more desperation, more need.
Today, more than 21 million people — including 10 million children — are in need of humanitarian assistance. That means Yemen currently hosts the greatest number of people in need in the world — almost equal to the entire population of Australia.
What a horrible record to hold.
I’ve met people whose stories will stay with me forever, including too many children who’ve witnessed horrors beyond comprehension. There was the family of 20 sharing a single room after their home was reduced to rubble; the mother who chose to sell her family’s only mattress so she could afford medicine for her sick three-year-old son; and the 10-year-old boy who is so distressed, he wakes screaming every night.
Everywhere I go, people talk about food, or rather the lack of it. The spectre of famine now stalks large swathes of the country. That is because Yemen is slowly being throttled by a de facto blockade that prevents enough food and vital medicines getting to the families who need them most.
Just last week, air strikes and other shelling took place in and around Hodeida Port, the lifeline of Yemen when it comes to importing goods, including food, medicines and fuel. This fighting, in particular, will have drastic consequences for hundreds of thousands of long-suffering children and families in the north and centre of the country.
Right across Yemen, civilian infrastructure, such as hospitals and health centres, markets, shops and schools, has been damaged or destroyed by air strikes and armed fighting on the ground, restricting access to food, essential services and the means to survive.
For too long, parties to this conflict have shown a shocking contempt for human life and it needs to end. If the international community does not act soon, thousands of children could die from hunger-related causes before the year is out.
At Save the Children, we are working around the clock to scale up our response, which includes mobilising 18 health teams that support 90 health facilities, distributing food and cash transfers to almost 150,000 people and educating hundreds of children on the risks of landmines.
But the challenge of getting lifesaving aid and supplies into the country is like nothing I’ve seen before — it is near impossible for a number of reasons, none more so than dire security.
We are short of all the basics here. Without fuel for our vehicles, the transportation of critical supplies and mobile health teams to affected areas will probably grind to halt. If something doesn’t change soon, children won’t just be dying from bombs and bullets.
Men, women and children have asked me why Yemen has seemingly been abandoned by much of the world. The truth is I, too, am pondering the same awful question. I don’t know what more to say to show Yemen is a nation in desperate need of help. It’s impossible to explain why the world has not taken proper notice of the impending doom unfolding on the southern Arabian Peninsula.
What I do know is that the senseless violence must stop, starting first with the protection of innocent civilians.
Yemenis wait to fill jerry cans with water amid an acute shortage of water supply.
Save the Children is urging parties to the conflict to avoid aiming at vital infrastructure like roads, bridges and hospitals and keeping air and sea ports open.
We are also calling on the international community, including Australia, to use its diplomatic muscle with other influential countries to find a political and peaceful solution to the conflict, which ultimately will have the greatest humanitarian impact. Until then, the UN’s Yemen Appeal — only 18 per cent funded so far — needs bolstering.
While Australia has given more than $21 million to Yemen since 2009, it is yet to give anything to this humanitarian response and that must change. The US has already given more than $63 million and Japan more than $22 million. Even South Korea has contributed several hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Unless we act soon, the lives of millions of innocent Yemenis will continue to be put at risk and then it won’t just be warring parties with blood on their hands.


Human Rights Watch  urged the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen to stop using cluster munitions, saying it had uncovered new evidence of their devastating impact.
The New York-based watchdog said dozens of civilians were killed or wounded in at least seven such apparent attacks in the northwestern province of Hajja between late April and mid-July.
"Cluster munitions are adding to the terrible civilian toll in Yemen's conflict," said HRW researcher Ole Solvang.
"Coalition forces should immediately stop using these weapons and join the treaty banning them."
HRW said its researchers had visited four of the alleged attack sites and found unexploded sub-munitions or remnants of cluster munition rockets.
"Although the evidence is not definitive, several factors indicate that the Saudi-led coalition carried out the seven attacks," it said.
It added it had identified the weapons used in the seven attacks, which struck within 19 kilometers (12 miles) of the Saudi-Yemeni border, as US-made M26 cluster ammunition rockets.
"I saw a bomb exploding in the air and pouring out many smaller bombs," Muhammad al-Marzuqi, a resident from the village of Malus, was quoted as saying.
"Then an explosion threw me on the floor. I lost consciousness and somebody transferred me to the hospital with burns and wounds on the heels of the feet and fragmentation wounds on the left side of my body."
HRW joined other rights groups urging the UN Human Rights Council to form an international commission of inquiry to investigate "alleged serious laws-of-war violations by all parties to the armed conflict in Yemen since September 2014," when Iran-backed rebels overran the capital Sanaa.
Rights groups have repeatedly criticized violations by the Saudi-US coalition during the aggression that has killed nearly 4,500 people, many of them civilians, since March, based on UN figures.

“Saudi Arabia is the Great ISIS” - says Yemeni army spokesman

The official spokesman for the Yemeni armed forces Colonel Sharaf Luqman reiterated that “Saudi Arabia is the great ISIS” because this country supported ISIS from the very beginning and hired people to work in it.

The official spokesman for the Yemeni armed forces said, “We have made progress in the area Wadi Al-Dabab and ended the rebellion Al-Mekhlafi and his gang, although he is now a fugitive. But in any case, we know where he is and we have the ability to reach him out.”

Colonel Sharaf Luqman added, “Although they (Saudi Arabia) sent large quantities of weapons and armor to the front, but the situation in this area is under our control.”

About Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes, he emphasized, “Saudi Arabia will not achieve any goal in this war because realization is possible only through human resources. God wishes, win is with us.”

Blaming the Mexicans? Washington Post Jumps on Trump Bandwagon With Heroin Article

As the debate on immigration intensifies in the United States, a recent article linking Mexican drug cartels to the prevalence - and shocking affordability - of heroin in the country may only serve to fuel the flames of anti-Mexican rhetoric and hatred, activist Ron Gochez told Sputnik.

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has been marred with controversy and explosive political incorrectness, beginning with his announcement that he would be seeking the Republican nomination, when he accused the Mexican government of sending "crime" and "rapists" to the US. The presidential hopeful has not only neglected to apologize for the comment that many view as extremely offensive, but he’s actually publicly credited himself for bringing the issue of immigration to the forefront of national debate.

"If it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t be talking about illegal immigration," he said during the first GOP primary debate.
The business mogul is now leading in the polls, and it seems his anti-immigration rhetoric is not only loud and clear, but is also gaining widespread support.
Enter a recent article published by the Washington Post, examining the cost and prevalence of heroin in the US. According to the article’s author, Lenny Bernstein, heroin has become the latest drug epidemic in the country because of its incredibly low prices which, he found, was as cheap, if not cheaper, than a pack of cigarettes.
These low prices, Bernstein further contends, are the result of a "concerted action on the part of Mexican drug cartels," which have "dramatically increased production" to expand their market in the country.

While there may be some merit to linking the low price of drugs to their increased demand, Bernstein’s assessment appears to be based entirely on information provided by a single source: DEA Agent Joseph Moses.
"The rise of the Mexican trafficking organizations and [their] push to heroin has kept the price where it’s at," Moses is quoted as saying in the article.
This tenuous link between Mexican drug cartels and heroin prices in the US is "simply irresponsible," according to activist and Union Del Barrio member Ron Gochez.
Gochez explained that there are many factors contributing to the drug trade in the US, noting that pushing a link to Mexican drug cartels alone is not only incorrect, but it also reflects a complete lack of research.

"First, why is there an influx of drugs in the country? Because there is an American demand," Gochez, who is also a high school teacher, told Sputnik. "Even my students know that there can be no supply if there is no demand, and the US is the number one country in the world in terms of consumption of drugs."
The other parties responsible for the promulgation of drugs in the US, Gochez adds, are none other than the American government and the DEA itself.
"The DEA is just as involved in the drug trade as anyone else in the world," he said, adding that by cutting drug rehabilitation programs and "feeding the prison industrial complex," the drug crisis is "being fueled directly by the US."

Noting the failed efforts of the DEA in the so-called War on Drugs, Gochez added that he trusts the "Mexican drug cartels as much as the US government in battling drugs."

Far from accurately representing the networks involved in the drug trade and the complexities inherent therein, the Post article, Gochez suggests, merely “fans the flames of hatred.” For the general American public, he said, Mexican people in general become the perpetrators by default.
In line with Trump’s "outlandish" claims about immigration, Gochez noted that the dialogue on drugs has become "part of a process of criminalizing an entire people for a political purpose."
"I don’t think Trump is going to win," the activist said. "But regardless of whether or not he does, he is pushing the Republicans further to the right by building a climate of anti-immigrant, and specifically anti-Mexican, hate."

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Afghanistan: Aid Donors Should Stress Accountability

Afghanistan’s foreign donors should press the government to address the country’s persistent human rights problems at a major international meeting of senior officials, Human Rights Watch said today in letters to representatives of a dozen donor countries. Delegations from more than a dozen countries will gather in Kabul on September 5, 2015, for the Senior Officials Meeting to discuss humanitarian and security commitments to the country. The meeting is a follow-up to the December 2014 London Conference and the 2012 Tokyo Conference.
“Afghan officials and foreign donors need to put human rights front-and-center in all discussions of ongoing and future support for the Afghan government,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “They should recognize that human rights gains since 2001 remain extremely fragile and in some areas have reversed, putting at risk the rights of all Afghans, particularly women and girls.”
Despite Afghanistan’s important improvements in human rights, many serious abuses persist. The Afghan government and its international donors should strengthen their support for the protection and promotion of human rights in Afghanistan through continued emphasis on the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (the “Tokyo Framework”), Human Rights Watch said.
However, there are indications that the Afghan government’s Realizing Self-Reliance paper, presented by President Ashraf Ghani at the December 2014 London Conference, will be the centerpiece of the September 5 meeting’s agenda. While the paper reaffirms Afghanistan’s human rights commitments, including its obligation to carry out the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) Law, the document lacks specific goals and measurable benchmarks for progress on human rights. Donors and the Afghan government should ensure that the human rights benchmarks built into the Tokyo Framework remain at the core of their discussions and that they focus on updating and expanding the Tokyo Framework to include new, realistic, and measurable human rights commitments.
Donors should press the Afghan government to ensure greater accountability of state security forces responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, and other abuses. Respect for the basic human rights of the general population is a crucial element of counterinsurgency operations. In addition, protecting the rights of women and girls will require President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah to enforce the EVAW Law and for donors to fund initiatives that help promote the rights of women and girls, including earmarking funding to recruit and retain female police officers. The Afghan government and foreign donors should also take substantive steps to bolster the resources and capacity of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC).
“The Senior Officials Meeting provides the Afghan government and its international supporters an important opportunity to recommit to specific, measurable steps for protecting the rights of the Afghan people,” Kine said. “The fundamental rights of Afghans are at real risk without international support and pressure, and genuine commitment from the Afghan government.”

#Pakistan - #Lahore: Furious Muslims kill a Christian boy who married their daughter after she converted to Christianity

A young Christian shot dead by Muslim relatives of his formerly Muslim wife.
According to Christian News, a Pakistani Christian 28-year-old, Aleem Masih married 23-year-old Nadia, who converted to Christianity from Islamic roots. Last year the two got married and fled because of strong reaction from the family of Nadia.
A Pakistani NGO states that, “The couple fled to Narang Mandi, some 60 kilometers 37 miles away from Lahore, as Nadia’s Muslim family launched a manhunt for them to avenge the shame their daughter had brought upon them by recanting Islam and marrying a Christian.
However, the couple was well aware of the threats to their life, soon sought police protection as they filed a petition in the Lahore High Court that Muslim relatives of Nadia were threatening the couple and family of Aleem Masih as well.
It was on July 30, that the Muslim relatives of Nadia learnt that the couple is due to see a doctor in Khaliqnagar, in the Youhanabad area, that same evening. The eye-witnesses state that Nadia’s father, Muhammad Din Meo, along with his sons, initially seized the driver of the rickshaw in which the couple were riding and abducted the couple. “They took the couple to a nearby farm,” NGO reveals.
“The Muslim men first brutally tortured the couple with fists and kicks and then thrice shot Aleem Masih – one bullet hit him in his ankle, the second in the ribs while the third targeted his face. Nadia was shot in the abdomen.”
Nadia’s father and brothers left the scene believing they had killed the couple and “The attackers returned to their village and publicly proclaimed that they had avenged their humiliation and restored the pride of the Muslims by killing the couple in cold blood,” the NGO details.“Nadia’s brother, Azhar, then presented himself before the police and confessed to having killed his sister and her Christian husband.”
Shortly, when locals informed the police about the incident, the Police arrived at the farmhouse and found Nadia breathing while Aleem was dead by then. “She was shifted to the General Hospital in Lahore, where she is fighting for her life after a major operation in which two bullets were removed from her abdomen,” stated the NGO.
The NGO further revealed that their team visited the hospital and witnessed a mob of Islamists there. “The mob, some of them armed with weapons, was shouting furious anti-Christian slogans. They were also praising Azhar for restoring the pride of the Muslim community.The mob was also chanting slogans saying that, “Azhar had earned his place in paradise for killing an ‘infidel.’”
A similar mob gathered outside the police station chanting slogans in favour of Azhar. While at the same time they tried to pressurise the police. The pressure on police can be observed from the fact that despite an FIR was lodged the next day against Azhar, his brothers and father yet police has not taken any action what so ever.
Moreover, the Muslim family along with Islamist groups are now threatening the Defence counsel of Aleem Masih’s family and are pressurising her to withdraw the charges against Azhar and his family.“We are pursuing the case nonetheless,” the attorney of Aleem said, adding that “Murder in the name of religion and honour must not be allowed, and the perpetrators should be held accountable for this brutal act.”
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Pakistan: Police accused of negligence in case of Christian couple lynched for blasphemy

The Supreme Court of Pakistan criticized the inaction of the police in front of the lynching of the Christian couple Shahzad and Shama Masih, accused of blasphemy and killed in Kot Radha Kishan, Punjab, on 4 November 2014.

In the horrific incident, Shama Bibi, who was four months pregnant, and her husband Shahbaz Masih, were attacked by a crowd who accused them of burning pages of the Qur'an. After beating the couple they incinerated their bodies in a brick kiln. Reports state that Shahbaz Masih was still alive, although badly wounded, when he was thrown into the kiln.

On 24 August, the Court, in a case involving two accused of the lynching, strongly criticized the police for not having intervened to prevent violence and did nothing to protect the two Christian citizens.

Five police officers were present at the scene of the crime, while the crowd of about 500 carried out the lynching. The officers are accused of negligence, while the prosecutor argued that the police tried to stop the angry crowd, but failed.

An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan has charged with murder 106 people deemed responsible for the lynching of the Christian couple, but justice, say Christian lawyers, moves at a slow pace.


Government of Pakistan Muslim League (N) has been carrying out revengeful actions against Millat e Ja’afaria in Punjab and Gilgit Baltistan but we cannot be oppresses by such actions. Millat e Tasshaii has given great sacrifices in this war against terrorism and has given lives of more than twenty thousand of our loved ones but we have never compromised on our country’s security. We had been demanding the operation against Taliban since day one and we always opposed dialogue with them and our stance has now proved true. Muslim League (N)’s actions against Millat e Ja’afaria are in fact tactics for affecting operation Zarb e Azab.

These thoughts were expressed by MWM Pakistan’s central secretary Mehdi Abdi, in a statement issued from Wehdat House. He said that supporters and political guardians of terrorists are enjoying luxuries of ministries in Punjab whereas those against terrorists have been targeted, we will use our every democratic right against this oppression and tyranny. He further said that everyone is aware of Allama Ameen Shaheedi’s services for unity among Muslims (Ittehad e Bain ul Mslimeen), his presence in ‘Milli Yakjehti Council” and “Islami Nazaryati Council” is a proof that he is against extremist and sectarianism. He has been involved in a fake murder case by a minister of Punjab government who is a supporter of terrorists and we severely condemn it. Allama Ameen Shaheedi’s arrest due to this fake F.I.R will be similar to attacking the whole Millat e Tasshaii.
Mehdi Aabdi also condemned the target killings of Advocate Ameer Haider and Dr. Abbas, within past two days, and demanded Sindh government and law enforcement agencies to arrest the culprits as soon as possible.

Pakistan - Human Rights Violation and Preservation

By Hayan Notezai
I am living in a country where rights of every living being are violated. Where social, economical and general justice is not available, where basic human rights are neglected and where drops of water have enslaved the social animals.
Human rights have been a harsh, heated and prevailing topic of national and international history, human rights have come into existence to be violated and breached. Every aspect of history depicts a dark picture of human rights; our history is full of human suffrage and grievance.
Human is a respected and revered unit of society, it has some rights, goals and desires to live for and exert, humanity is the name of its rights, governance, monarchies and various treaties have been signed a bail, liability and witness to protect the basic human rights and end social inequality and injustice but these have done none, these treaties have been violated and human were and are the slaves of slaves.
it’s for as basic human rights are concerned, every man and woman speak, speculate and deliberate, read, earn, wear etc. Human beings can’t count their rights but how many of these are preserved and granted is surprising thought to be thought and question to be asked.
Governments have come to protect social rights and state sovereignty. We give vote for election to any candidate that he could defend and protect our basic rights.
Democracy is supported nationally, internationally and regionally because its shows good picture of preserving human rights, but it has failed to grant and protect basic human rights in an unconscious and unaware society. Presently people are in boats without any target, without thoughts because in a democratic society people without consciousness and awareness are blind and ignorant of mind.
Wars, conflicts and disputes come into prevalence for two reasons, one is the violation and second is the preservation of basic human rights, win in wars is the preservation and defeat or retreat in wars are violation of human rights.
Every nation knows very well about its rights and if a nation gets defeats then the winner will form its own social structure and whatever the winner does is the first principal violation of social and human rights. Therefore the history of humanity is based on violation of human rights, history shows and teaches us lesson for preservation of human rights but when lesson learning comes we become deaf, dumb and blind.
Before x nation violated the y nation rights but now in democracy and monarchies the nation rights are being violated by same nation with hands of few.
Poverty is not our right bur we are having it, illiteracy is not our right but we are having it, killing, kidnapping and migration are not our rights but we are doing these. As for as human rights violation is concerned in Asia and in middle east, the people of these areas are the most evil people from the human rights violation. Unluckily a large number of people are dying due to poverty, no food to eat and nothing to drink which has compelled the humans to commit suicide. Suicide is not our right but it is the right of our leaders who can’t grant the rights, who can’t bring equality and prosperity.
Violation of human rights is in the luck of humanity and every century has hidden stories of violation of human rights, times are going but rights are not granted, days are going but poverty is not controlled, years are passing but clean water is not available, even centuries have gone but violation of human rights are still in every red and black zone.

Corrupt Balochistan Assembly Members: Part of Problem

By Adnan Aamir
After the 18th Amendment to the Constitution and the 7th NFC award, the resources of Balochistan have been looted by a new elite class comprising of the members of the provincial assembly. The previous Balochistan Assembly, from 2008 to 2013, embezzled Rs 360 billion from the provincial exchequer, as per reports. At one time 61 out of 65 members of the assembly were ministers, advisors or parliamentary secretaries. Unfortunately, the current Balochistan Assembly, despite its better public image, is not different from its predecessor.

360 Billion Rupees were embezzled by Balochistan government from 2008 to 2013

A 34 member delegation of the Balochistan Assembly is leaving for USA to take part in a freedom rally. This delegation comprises of provincial assembly members from both opposition and government benches and some bureaucrats as well. According to a source within the Assembly almost Rs. 100 million will be spent on this trip.
How can you justify wasting Rs. 100 million in a province where 52% people live below the poverty line and 63% people don’t have food security? Even if it’s necessary to represent Balochistan in freedom rally in USA, a couple of members form Balochistan would have sufficed. However, a delegation of 34 members proves that the basic aim of the visitors is sightseeing in the US at the expense of taxpayers’ money. This move will not be criticized because opposition members have also been accommodated in this delegation.

100 Million Rupees would be spent on USA trip of Assembly members

The performance of the current Balochistan Assembly can further be gauged using the report titled “Score Card” issued by PILDAT. This report analyzes the performance of Balochistan Assembly in its second parliamentary year from June 1 2014 to May 31 2015. According to the report the overall attendance of the Assembly was just 58%. It only managed to pass 16 bills in the second year, a 36% decrease on last year. Among these 16 bills, three were related to increasing the perks and privileges of the Assembly members.
The Balochistan Assembly failed to make any noteworthy legislation related to all those subjects which were transferred to provinces after the abolition of the Concurrent List following the 18th Amendment. Standing Committees in Balochistan have not been made functional even after passing of two parliamentary years. The nominated chairman of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is a government member and cousin of Mehmood Khan Achakzai, which is negation of the democratic norm that the PAC chairman should be an opposition member.
Moreover, Balochistan is the only province in Pakistan where members of assembly get development funds worth hundreds of millions per year. Members can utilize these funds, as per their discretion, in their constituencies. Incumbent Assembly has completed two years and approximately Rs. 200 to 300 million has been issued to per member, per year, as development funds. However, one can see no development work at ground except some showpiece projects. Now, where is this mammoth amount of money going? The answer is simple: in the pockets of Assembly members and their partners in crimes; the bureaucrats and contractors.
There is no doubt that the last Balochistan Assembly was the most corrupt in the province’s history. However, not a single member of that assembly has been implicated in any corruption case by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Some references have been filed against a few members but progress on those references is almost zero. It’s believed that NAB is almost nonfunctional in Balochistan and a few of the references that it files are mere formality.
Members of the incumbent Balochistan Assembly consider themselves to be invincible and answerable to none. They derive this artificial sense from the claim that they are representatives of people of Balochistan. If truth be told, they aren’t. This Assembly is not genuine representative of Balochistan. In fact, it’s a product of what’s called “Transparent Fair and Free Selection.” The Judicial Commission that probed election riggings ignored Balochistan, despite abundance of evidence, because terms of references of that commission were not Balochistan-centric. Therefore, a non-representative Assembly of Balochistan is looting the provincial exchequer and it is adding insult to the injury.
At the moment, the National Action Plan is in full swing in Pakistan, courtesy of General Raheel Sharif. A new term ‘Economic Terrorism’ has been coined and action is being taking against those involved in it. Sindh in general and Karachi in particular is the center stage of action against economic terrorism. Former President Asif Zardari has left the country fearing arrest under anti-economic terrorism drive. MQM is also on the defensive and a lot of previously unfathomable events are transpiring. However, there is no sign whatsoever that the economic terrorism carried out by former and current members of Balochistan Assembly will also be targeted. It’s further proved by the fact that Nawab Aslam Raisani, the most corrupt chief minister in the history of Balochistan, freely shuttles between Quetta and Islamabad and he has not even harbored the thought of fleeing the country.

Nawab Aslam Raisani, the most corrupt chief minister in the history of Balochistan, has not even harbored the thought of fleeing the country

The Balochistan problem is multi-pronged. The corrupt Assembly is not the only reason that Balochistan faces its myriad problems. However, they are blamed much less than their due share. The action against the elite class of Balochistan, sitting in assemblies, is imperative if Balochistan’s problems are to be sorted out.

Why Pakistan's nuclear obsession is reason for concern

A new report indicates that Pakistan is rapidly increasing its nuclear stockpile. Keeping in mind the country's proliferation record and terrorism threat, its nuclear obsession should be a worrying trend, say experts.
A Pakistan-made Shaheen missile capable of carrying nuclear heads, front, is displayed at a defense exhibition on Tuesday, September 14, 2004 in Karachi, Pakistan
(AP Photo/Mohammad Ali)
A new report by two US think tanks states that Pakistan could have the world's third-largest nuclear stockpile within a decade. Published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center on August 27, the paper concludes that the South Asian nation could have a nuclear arsenal not only twice the size of neighboring India's but also larger than those of the United Kingdom, China, and France.
Titled "A normal nuclear Pakistan," the paper is based on publicly available satellite imagery and analysis done by expert groups which show that over the last decade Pakistan has constructed four reactors to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons. According to this analysis, thereactors are believed to have a capability to produce about 50 kilograms of plutonium per year, in addition to Pakistan's existing capability to produce highly-enriched uranium.
"In total, if Pakistan utilizes all the material produced by these facilities for nuclear weapons, we assess it could build 20 or more per year," Toby Dalton, one of the authors of the report, told DW.
Gregory Koblentz, an associate professor at George Mason University, comes to a similar conclusion: "Together with Pakistan's ability to produce approximately 10 to 15 nuclear weapons a year using highly enriched uranium, Pakistan's plutonium production capacity gives it the ability to produce 14 to 27 nuclear weapons a year. As a result, Pakistan has the fastest-growing nuclear arsenal in the world."
'India-specific' nuclear program
Analysts agree that the nuclear weapons program is driven by Pakistan's perception of the threat posed by India. "Pakistani officials state that their nuclear weapons are 'India-specific,' and as India's military power grows - with its much larger economy, it is able to invest more in modern military capability - Islamabad believes its need more nuclear weapons to maintain deterrence with India," according to Dalton, who is also co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment.
Pakistani Rangers patrol along the Pakistan-India border area of Wagah on October 16, 2014
(Photo: Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images)
Islamabad recently canceled talks with India after New Delhi said it wanted to restrict discussions to terrorism
The two countries have fought four wars and endured numerous crises over the years, mostly related to their dispute over the divided Kashmir region. Since the early 2000s the two countries have gone to the brink of war twice due to mass-casualty terrorist attacks in India that originated in Pakistan.
"The Pakistani military has adopted a strategy of 'full spectrum deterrence' so they can continue to engage in asymmetric warfare against India and deter even limited Indian conventional military retaliation with the threat of tactical nuclear weapons," Koblentz told DW.
Amit Cowshish, ex-financial advisor to India's Ministry of Defense, also pointed out that while Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is primarily intended to overwhelm its neighbor in a first-strike and neutralize India's second-strike capability, Islamabad probably also regards its nuclear capability as a means of projecting itself as a great power and standing up to the challenge from any other major adversary out to neutralize its arsenal in future.
Assistance from China?
Historical accounts of the country's nuclear program indicate that it procured a wide range of technology from companies in Europe and elsewhere. And some experts say there is also evidence to suggest it had help with its nuclear weapons efforts from China.
Dalton, however, believes that, at this point, Pakistan is able to make most of the material and technology it needs indigenously. "That said many Indian analysts believe that Pakistan continues to receive assistance from China on nuclear warhead design and missiles. Though there is no evidence publicly available to suggest such cooperation, which does not mean it isn't happening in secret."
Proliferation concerns
And then there is the risk of nuclear proliferation. While there is no information to suggest that there have been any safety incidents or accidents at Pakistan's nuclear power reactors, the country's nuclear safety record is not as clean as the Pakistani authorities claim.
In 2004, the "founder" of the country's nuclear bomb Dr. A. Q. Khan confessed to selling nuclear technology to North Korea and Iran. Khan was removed from his post as head of the country's nuclear program by former military dictator and President Pervez Musharraf in 2001. Khan spent five years under house arrest after Musharraf had him arrested in 2004 for his alleged role in divulging nuclear secrets. The restrictions on his movement were relaxed after a court in Islamabad declared him a free man in 2009.
The Pakistani military and civilian leaders have been accused of being too easy on Khan, but they have defended themselves, saying that the state had no role in what they say was Khan's "individual act." But many in Pakistan and in the West believe Khan was only able to pass on such sensitive information with support from the establishment.
Khan is a popular figure among Islamists and common Pakistanis alike, who believe that nuclear weapons are "necessary" for the security of the country. Pakistan's political and religious parties invariably use nuclear rhetoric against India and Western nations.
"The atomic bomb is our protector. It guarantees our sovereignty. Nobody can harm Pakistan as long as we have this bomb, and that is the reason why the US, India and other Western countries are conspiring against it," Abdul Basit, a student at Karachi University, told DW.
While Islamabad passed a law to control nuclear technology and instituted tighter export controls, experts are mainly concerned that nuclear weapons or fissile material might be stolen or given to terrorist groups.
"To date, there is no evidence that anything has gone missing, but clearly the security situation in Pakistan continues to be a challenge to state authorities, and with the number of nuclear weapons increasing, the probability that there could be a nuclear security mishap logically also rises," said Dalton.
Pakistani Shiite Muslims burn tyres during a protest against the suicide bombing that killed dozens of their community members in the Lakhi Dar area of Shikarpur, in Karachi, Pakistan, 30 January 2015
(Photo: EPA/SHAHZAIB AKBER +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++)
Islamabad has not been able to curb terrorism on its soil, so can it ensure nuclear safety?
Analyst Koblentz agrees: "Regardless of whether or not the civilian and military leadership in Islamabad were fully aware of his activities or not, Khan's proliferation activities have made it difficult for the international community to trust Pakistan to manage its nuclear materials and weapons safely and securely."
"The more fissile material and nuclear weapons that Pakistan produces and the more tactical nuclear weapons it deploys the higher the risk of these materials or weapons being stolen or used in an unauthorized manner," Koblentz added.
Terrorism threats
Exacerbating these concerns is the high level of terrorist activity within Pakistan by groups such as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Islamic State, and al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent. The ability of such groups to penetrate the defenses of Pakistani military bases, likely with inside assistance, is particularly troubling.
The Taliban militants have proven time and again that they are capable of attacking not only civilians but also military bases. In August 2012, militants armed with guns and rocket launchers attacked an air base in the town of Kamra in the Punjab province. The large base is home to several squadrons of fighter and surveillance planes, which air force officials said had not been damaged in the attack. The Taliban have great influence in Pakistan's restive northwestern Swat Valley and according to defense experts, several nuclear installations are located not too far from the area.
Islamabad-based defense analyst Maria Sultan, however, insists that Pakistan's nuclear control authorities have a strong grip on the country's nuclear assets. "Pakistan has the capability of monitoring its nuclear weapons, and the technology it is using to do that is very sophisticated," Sultan told DW. She insisted that the West's concerns about Pakistan's nuclear safety were "unfounded."
Though Pakistan's civilian and military establishments claim their nuclear weapons are under strict state control, many defense experts fear that they could fall into the hands of terrorists in the event of an Islamist takeover of Islamabad or if things get out of control for the government and the military.
"Nuclear programs are never safe. On the one hand there is perhaps a hype about Pakistani bombs in the Western media, on the other there is genuine concern," London-based Pakistani journalist and researcher Farooq Sulehria told DW. "The Talibanization of the Pakistan military is something we can't overlook. What if there is an internal Taliban takeover of the nuclear assets?" Sulehria speculated.
Despite that, political and defense analyst Zahid Hussain told DW the West was "unnecessarily worried."
"Pakistan conducted its nuclear tests more fifteen years ago. Nothing has happened since then. Pakistan has made sure the nuclear weapons remain safe."
Monitoring efforts
Many questions have also been raised as to whether the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should do more to monitor Pakistan's nuclear ambitions. Fact of the matter is that the IAEA does inspect the South Asian nation's nuclear power reactors, and has helped Pakistan also on questions of nuclear security.
However, as Dalton explained, Pakistan - like India and Israel - never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, so it has no obligation to open its other nuclear facilities to IAEA inspection and monitoring. Thus, there is little the IAEA can or could do, unless Pakistan opts to place some of these facilities under IAEA monitoring, the analyst added.
By now, it seems that Pakistan has attained parity, if not a slight edge, in nuclear capabilities compared to India. But as analyst Koblentz pointed out, "Producing more plutonium and nuclear warheads won't improve Pakistan's security, but instead increase the risk of nuclear terrorism, nuclear accidents, and nuclear crises."