Saturday, September 5, 2015

Video Report - Syria Politics: Russia says Assad ready to share power

Video Report - From Turkey to Germany for $12K: Illegal human trafficking booms amid refugee and migrant crisis

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Hillary Clinton: I wish I had made a different choice

President Obama's Weekly Address: This Labor Day, Lets Talk About the Budget

#Pakistan - #ANP councilor killed in Hangu blast

A district councilor of Awami National Party (ANP) Mumtaz was killed, while two others injured in an explosion that occurred in Hangu, Samaa reported.
The incident took place near a vehicle of ANP councilor in Tora Wari village of Hangu district, leaving him wounded.
Mumtaz breathed his last while he was taking to the hospital.
The body and the injured persons were shifted to the hospital. 

“د وزیرستان کډوال ستنېدل غواړي”

Pakistani court denies bail to Gujrat Christians accused of blasphemy

Gujranwala’s Anti-terrorist court has denied bail to all Christians’ bail but granted it to Muslim Zulfiqar who printed the posters.

On 1st September CLAAS lawyers Tahir Bashir appeared in the Anti-terrorist court of Gujranwala for the confirmation of bail, but the Judge, Bushra Zaman, rejected all of Christians' bail but granted it bail to Muslim man Zulfiqar, who printed the posters in question.

These posters are said to have offended some local Muslims by using the word Rasool (Apostle) for late Pastor Fazal Masih, the founder of the Biblical Church of God.

They took this matter to the police, civil lines, where a case was registered against 14 people, including one Muslim, Zulfiqar.

According to Tahir Bashir and Mr Joseph Francis, National Director CLAAS-PK, who was also present in the court at the time of hearing, the judge was biased and instead of following the law and making a decision on merit, she expressed her personal feelings stating “we cannot tolerate such wordings as our Rasool (prophet) is the highest".

She not only expressed her personal feelings, but revoked bail for Unitan Gill and Mohsan, and sent them to prison. This is despite the fact that Mohsan has submitted an affidavit in the court stating that he lives in Sheikhupura, and this poster was printed in Gujrat. He submitted that he had only been implicated because is Pastor Aftab Gill's son in law.

He added: "I respect the prophet Muhammad from the bottom of my heart," but his affidavit was not taken into consideration.

Mr Bashir argued with the judge that case not supposed to be registered under the terrorist act as it doesn’t not fulfil the criteria because there is no incriminating evidence which connects the accused with the alleged offence, and because no private person has been associated from the locality whose feeling would have been hurt, but it is the police who with malicious intentions who had inserted the 295- A in the FIR (first information report), an offence which carries a sentence of up to 10 years, a fine, or both.

Mr Francis has said it is very unfortunate that the judge brought her personal feelings into her decision in and gave such statement, which hindered justice being properly administered. He said that judges should set their personal feelings aside and follow the law, deciding the cases with diligence. 

- See more at:

EU urged to help Pakistani Christian asylum seekers

In two weeks’ time ministers and officials from three of the most powerful EU nations – Germany, France and Britain – will meet to discuss the huge refugee crisis engulfing Europe, with the intent to standardize procedures across the EU. Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) Wilson Chowdhry asserts it is an opportunity to raise broader issues about Christian asylum seekers from nations like Pakistan as well as those from war torn countries in the Middle East and Africa. ‘There is a problem with much direct and indirect discrimination against Christian refugees generally. The concerns we have over the hoops Christians seeking safety from Pakistan have to go through, and the blocks they encounter, are shared by groups working with Christians from other places of persecution, particularly in the Middle East. Muslim refugees can often get support by going to nearby Muslim nations, but for Christians, that move is often out of the frying pan and into the fire. Pakistani Christians, for instance can face blocks from their own fellow citizens or even some arms of the government, in part because too many getting out would reveal more of the horrific conditions and discrimination they endure. It’s a face-saving exercise, to try and avoid shame in the international community.’

He went on to challenge Western governments and cultural elites: ‘In the West we often have some kinds of affirmative action program which discriminate in a way in the name of equality, to help those seen to labour under particular disadvantages or discriminations or under-representation. We often hear people say that some kind of special focus or allowance for Christian refugees and asylum seekers from such places as Pakistan and the Middle East would be unfair, and against secular equality values, but the fact is that they are often in an even more vulnerable position than others, and face greater challenges in reaching safety. It is not unfair to give priority to groups that share our values, that are often arbitrarily blocked – for instance by the US State Department – from programs of refuge. To do so would be a win-win situation – Western nations get a class of genuine refugees who integrate better with our values, aiding community and cross-cultural cohesion and the particularly vulnerable Christian brothers and sisters get a better shot at reaching safety. Therefore we are calling on Christians everywhere to press for the issue of Christian refugees and asylum seekers to be raised at these meetings’.

He said that the BPCA is considering ways of helping Christians get this message out, including pre-written letters for politicians and others which explain the pragmatic security, economic and social benefits of such an approach.

 - See more at:


That hard-line madressahs are an essential part of the structure of militancy in Pakistan is no secret.
These institutions provide manpower for many of the country’s proscribed sectarian and jihadi groups, as well as logistics and infrastructure, besides promoting an obscurantist worldview.
However, in recent times, the real challenge for the state has been countering radical seminaries, especially in light of the National Action Plan.
There has been some movement in this regard in both Sindh and Punjab. As reported on Friday, “jihadi literature” has been recovered after a madressah hostel was raided in Karachi; the material apparently belonged to a banned militant group and was put up by a student, who is now in custody.
The raids on seminaries in Sindh have followed disclosures by the Sindh authorities last month that there were 49 madressahs with suspected links to terrorism across the province. Half of the suspected institutions are in Karachi.
Clearly, religious militancy has put down roots in Sindh, particularly in Karachi, as frequent sectarian violence in the metropolis — as well as bloodshed in other districts, such as the devastating Shikarpur imambargah bombing in January — shows.
Hence, the identification of 49 suspected madressahs seems a little surprising. After all, as per official estimates there are over 9,500 seminaries in Sindh; around 3,000 of these — again mostly in Karachi — are unregistered. Therefore, raiding a handful of institutions and picking up a few suspects will have no long-term effect on solving Sindh’s militancy problem.
The process needs to be continuous and based on solid intelligence. Perhaps in comparison Sindh has performed better than Punjab in this regard, where ‘only’ 20 suspected seminaries have been identified. Considering that Punjab is the ideological heartland of many Pakistani sectarian and jihadi militant groups, that number has justifiably raised eyebrows. Whether it is Punjab, Sindh or the other provinces, action against hard-line seminaries must go beyond cosmetic measures and have lasting effects in order to uproot the support structure of militancy.



A leading human rights and civil rights lawyer in Pakistan speaks to Pukaar News about some of the issues facing the country including the controversial blasphemy law.

Ansar Burney has worked on many high profile cases throughout his 30 year career and has lobbied and campaigned against the Pakistani government on numerous issues such as the death penalty, anti human trafficking laws, false imprisonment and slavery.
Pukaar News caught up with the famed lawyer on a recent trip to Norway.  He explained why he is passionate about human rights and why he does what he does: “My work is for humanity, there is no difference in any nationality and in any religion.

“I have no sympathy whatsoever for hardened criminals or terrorists, but in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and middle eastern countries you will find most of the prisoners innocent.”

“When somebody gets justice and somebody is happy, I don’t want to see tears in the eyes of any human beings, I want to give them a smile and feel happiness and once I do this I feel very strong and happy”

Talking about the poor treatment of minorities in Pakistan, Ansar said: “Those who are living Pakistan whether they be Hindu, Sikh, Christian or whatever they are, for me they are just Pakistanis, there should be no discrimination with minorities, as soon as you say minorities it already creates differences between the nationality because if they are seen as minorities they are not Pakistani.

“This is the responsibility of the government to treat them as human beings, first nationals and then human beings because once they are seen as nationals, justice will be equal for everybody”

Ansar Burney also explains his thoughts on the controversial Blasphemy law in Pakistan which has been condemned by many countries throughout the world: “I am not in favour of the blasphemy law, because in Pakistan and in other poor countries you can buy a witness and the witness while being paid 15,000 to 20,000 he will take out a Koran and even with it in his hand he will go in to a court and he will say whatever the prosecutor wants him to say in the court”

Another high profile case in Pakistan is the case of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was convicted of blasphemy by a Pakistani court, receiving a sentence of death by hanging. In 2009, she was involved in an argument with a group of Muslim women with whom she had been harvesting berries after the other women grew angry with her for drinking the same water as them. She was subsequently accused of insulting the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, a charge she denies, and was arrested and imprisoned.

“There is a big problem because the threats are with the judges as well, if he or she will release her there will be a big problem so now its depends on the president of Pakistan or the government of Pakistan what they are going to do, but for me, its not good what’s happening with Asia Bibi, because it was a fight over water not blasphemy,

“it was just a simple problem that was created by one Mula, I think there needs to be justice for her”

Talking about his hopes for Pakistan, Ansar said: “I am you and you are me, once you feel the pain of others and once you start giving happiness to others you will feel like a human being, if you give pain to others you are not a human being, giving a smile, giving happiness and try to be a family, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian they all are family, we should not hate anybody on the basis of religion or boundaries.

Equatorial Guinea: #Pakistani Mullahs Deported After Attacking Ahmadi Muslims

Pakistani Mullahs, who attempted to instigate a violent attack on Ahamdis after entering and disrupting the services at the Compo Yaoundé Mosque in Malabo, were deported from Equatorial Guinea on a 24 hours notice.

Investigators determined that the attackers and their several other Pakistani accomplices had entered the country illegally from Cameroon, a UK publication, has reported.

According to details reported by The Review of Religions (ROR), the Ramadan program at the Compo Yaoundé Mosque was interrupted back in June by two Pakistani Mullahs who entered the mosque for the purpose of disrupting the ongoing activities there.

"[O]ne of the Mullahs walked up to the Missionary In Charge of the Ramadan Tafseer and tried to instigate violence by claiming before the congregation that Ahmadis are Kafir [infidel]," ROR has reported in its August issue.

The miscreants asserted that attacks on and killings of Ahmadis in Pakistan are justifiable because, according to the attackers, "[the] Ahmadis are not true Muslims."

The attacker, according to ROR, "also demanded that a similar brutal attack should be carried out [right] there (in the Mosque)."

The Mullah assaulted the Ahmadiyya Imam by grabbing him by the neck and a scuffle ensued.

Security personnel apprehended the two Mullahs and "in the course of consequent interrogations, three more Pakistani Mullahs were discovered . . . and also arrested."

The security personnel determined that the group was in the country to cause violence and chaos in the local community that had co-existed there peacefully for many years.

During questioning the Pakistani Mullahs claimed they were in the country to propagate the religion of Islam, the security personnel disclosed later, adding that the Pakistani group had entered the country illegally from Cameroon.

Pakistan’s fading Parsi community looks abroad

The community, which has long been active in business and charity, has been unnerved by the upsurge in extremist violence/
For more than 1,000 years, Parsis have thrived in South Asia but an ageing population and emigration to the West driven by instability in Pakistan means the tiny community of “fire worshippers” could soon be consigned to the country’s history books.
The ancestors of today’s Parsis in Pakistan — followers of Zoroastrianism, one of the world’s oldest religions — fled Persia over a millennium ago for the safety of the Indian subcontinent.
Legend has it Parsi leader Jadi Rana made a pledge to the then emperor of India that Zoroastrians, known in the region as Parsis, would not be a burden but would blend in like sugar into milk.
But today they are a fading people across the subcontinent, with many affluent families from India and Pakistan leaving for the West.
The community, which has long been active in business and charity, has been unnerved by the upsurge in extremist violence. One expert said the loss of the Parsis would be a “huge blow” to Pakistan’s diversity.
Only around 1,500 are left in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, where they have “fire temples”, community centres and final resting places — where the remains of their dead are left in the open to be consumed by vultures according to their tradition.
Parsis are often called “fire worshippers” because their religion considers fire — together with water — as agents of purity and fires are lit as part of religious ceremonies.
They have long been discreet in observing their faith, but some, like 23-year-old art student Veera Rustomji, think they need to do more to preserve their heritage.
“It’s been successful [in] that we have been an unattacked and unharmed community because of our low profile,” she said at her studio at the Indus Valley College.
“But at the same time it backfires because a lot of people focus on how the community is becoming small numerically.”
Rustomji has traced her family’s past in Hong Kong, where Parsis founded a university, a ferry service and hospitals. It is this link to business as well as charity that Byram Avari, the head of the Avari chain, one of Pakistan’s leading luxury hotel groups, said has allowed the community to build an enduring relationship with Karachi.
“Before partition the ladies maternity home called Lady Duferfin hospital was put up [by] the Parsis, the NED college, now medical college, the Spencer Eye hospital and I cannot tell you how many numerous things have been set up by the Parsis for people of Karachi,” he told AFP.
Parsis believe “in giving back what they had,” he added.
But today young Parsis are leaving in droves.
The past decade has seen militant violence soar, with religious minorities often in the extremists’ crosshairs. While Parsis have not been specifically targeted, many feel vulnerable.
“There is a general instability in the country. Because of this we cannot see a future for our community here right now,” says Kaivan Solan, a 27-year-old training to become a priest.
Izdeyar Setna, 37, a freelance photographer with a slew of international clients, added that Parsis were seeking new lives in countries with larger Parsi communities, such as Canada.
“I think most people are leaving because of a few reasons. One is security. The way things are, people are scared not knowing if things are going to get better,” he said.
“So I think they are trying to get out. Most people are going to Canada, or the USA, wherever it is easy to get the visa.”
In the city’s Parsi neighbourhood, the rotting stench of death emanates from the Tower of Silence, a large circular structure where the bones of the dead are kept in accordance with Zoroastrian practice.
For many these traditions must go on, and the compound provides a sense of belonging.
It is home to dozens of Parsi families but many have now hired armed guards because of attempts to seize their land by a neighbouring Muslim community.
“Losing a community like the Parsis is definitely a huge blow to a tolerant Pakistan, its cultural diversity and economic well-being as Parsis have contributed immensely to the progress of this country,” said Rabia Mehmood, a researcher on religious minorities at the Jinnah Institute think thank.
Not all the threats faced by Parsis are external. They are already facing a low birth rate and their marriage laws are extremely strict, forcing women to leave the community if they “marry out” — though men marrying non-Parsis is tolerated.
“I would love to [marry] if I find the right person, but it’s difficult because the numbers are so small,” Rustomji, the student, said.
Growing up in such a close-knit society, familiarity can breed contempt, she said.
“I grew up in Karachi and all the Parsi boys I know since I was 10. It’s just science that I wouldn’t just fall in love with them when I turn 28,” she said, referring to the age by which most Pakistani women get married.
“When Parsi men marry out of the community, they are undeniably accepted more and unquestioned... I find that very hypocritical because Zoroastrianism is a religion that advocates equality for both sexes.”

If Pakistan Wants a 'Normal' Nuclear Status, It Must Give Up Terrorism

'Pakistan lost terribly in the 1965 war with India'

Historian and political economist Akbar S. Zaidi dispelled "the victory myth`, saying that there can be no a bigger lie as Pakistan had lost terribly, Dawn reported on Saturday.
Zaidi said that people are unaware of this fact because the history taught in Pakistan is from an ideological viewpoint.
Delivering a lecture titled `Questioning Pakistan`s history`, he said: "Students are not taught the history of the people of Pakistan rather it is focused on the making of Pakistan." 
Zaidi, who teaches history at the Institute of Business Administration, Karachi, was speaking at the event organised by the Faculty of Social Sciences, Karachi University.
"With the celebration of the victory in the 1965 war round the corner, there can be no bigger lie that Pakistan won the war. We lost terribly in the 1965 war," he said.
He asked people to read political and strategic analyst Shuja Nawaz`s book "Crossed Swords" that exposed the reality of the war.
The remark comes with with Pakistan just two days away from observing Defence Day and marking the 50th anniversary of the 1965 war.
During his lecgture, Zaidi asked: what is Pakistan`s history and is there a need to question Pakistan`s history. And when was Pakistan formed? Aug 14, 1947 or Aug 15, 1947? For him the fact we are still talking about historical events 68 years later that are apparently settled is interesting. 
On when was Pakistan created, he said one obvious answer is it did so on Aug 14, 1947 but he read out an excerpt from a Pakistan Studies textbook in which it was claimed it came into being in 712AD when the Arabs came to Sindh and Multan. "This is utter rubbish!" he said, rejecting the textbook account. 
Later while responding to queries, Zaidi explained that Parsis and Hindus contributed hugely in the educational development of Karachi and in a similar manner the Sikhs in Punjab. 
"History in Pakistan is taught from an ideological viewpoint. Pakistan needs to be seen as a geographical entity."
On separate identities, he replied there was no need to do so. "I can be a Sindhi, Hindu and Pakistani simultaneously."