Sunday, September 13, 2015

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China - President Xi's US trip to 'chart course' for relations

President Xi Jinping and his United States counterpart President Barack Obama will"further chart the course of the China-US relationshipduring Xi's first state visit to theUS later this monthState Councilor Yang Jiechi said in an interview with China Daily.
Yang made the remarks while briefing on Xi's first state visit to the US since he took officeas the president in 2013.
Xi and Obama had met four times since Xi came to officemarked by productivediscussions at SunnylandsCaliforniain 2013 and in YingtaiBeijingin 2014.
Yang said the two presidents will hold in-depth talks and cover "all major aspectsof ties.
The two leaders will "further chart the course of the China-US relationshipparticularlythe new model of major-country relationship", and discuss practical cooperationwhile"substantive results will come out of that".
The two countries will also achieve a great deal for the Asia-Pacific region and for theworld as a wholeand Xi will reach out to a cross-section of American society to get intouch with people from various walks of lifeYang added.
The world's two largest economies have seen an increasingly interwoven relationship astheir annual trade exceeded $550 billion last year while many global and regional hotissues depend on their cooperation.
But their ties have also seen certain disputesincluding issues on the South China Sea andcybersecurity.
On the South China Sea issueYang said the US is not a direct party to the disputesand hehoped that the US would not get involvedas it has promisedand expressed a desire forboth countries to "stay in close touchdespite the differences.
"It is important for both countries to stay in close touch even if they have differentperceptions and views," he saidreiterating China's commitment to a peaceful resolutionof the issue.
Yang dismissed ideas that disputes between China and the USparticularly those in theAsia-Pacific regionare forcing some regional countries to take sides.
"If there are friends of China who would like to be friends of the US or the other wayaroundboth countries should welcome thatand we should have more mutual friends," headded.
On the cybersecurity issueYang said China itself is a victim of hackingand China and theUS actually can make cybersecurity a point of cooperation.
"We hope Chinathe United States and other countries can work together to work out therules for cybersecurity in the international arena in the spirit of mutual respectequalityand mutual benefit," Yang said.
Yang noted bilateral progress in boosting two-way tradecollaboration on internationalaffairsincreasingly stronger military ties and visa facilitation.
This shows that "a new model of major country relationship between our two countrieswill work in the best interests of China and the USand for the rest of the world", he said.
On bilateral cooperationYang said: "There are a host of areas where China and the UScanand shouldcooperate with each other."
The joint announcement to address climate change last year was well received globally,and climate change issues "will be part of the agendafor Xivisitand it is important fordeveloped countries to work with the world to make the Paris Conference later this year asuccessYang said.
Two anniversaries
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War IIand China and the USwere allies during the war against Japanese aggression.
Yang said: "We will never forget this friendship between China and the US."
Yang noted that the United Nations was established after the warand China is "both acontributor and a builderof this international systemand Beijing believes the UN"should play an even bigger role".
As this year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the UNYang confirmed that Xiwill attend a series of UN summits after his visit to the USand his presence is "a concreteexample to show our commitment and support for the UN system".
The president will address the General Debate of the UN General Assemblyexpound onChina's positions on the global political landscape and world orderYang said.
Xi will also attend the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Summit and will witness theadoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda along with other leadersYang added.
China has taken initiatives on its own because Xi and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moonwill co-host a summit on women's empowerment and a roundtable discussion for South-South cooperationYang said.
The president will also propose some important action on China's part as wellYang said.

Syria, Iraq Refugees Blaming US for Their Troubles

Refugees are streaming into Europe from Syria and Iraq, escaping the rapacious fist of ISIL. While the extremist "Islamic State" cuts a clear bogeyman, many refugees are pointing their fingers at the West, especially the US, and their handling of the situation.

Rzgar Abdul, 28, fled his home in Iraq to escape ISIS. He now resides in a barrack-style campground for refugees in Hungary.
He blames his squalid existence on the United States.

“Iraq’s problem is America’s problem,” Abdul said “This crisis is America’s problem. In Iraq, Syria, all over, the U.S. did not do enough.”

However, the CIA alone spent $40 million just in efforts to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Nonetheless, Abdul’s views are shared by refugees across countries in Europe and the Middle East.

Refugee Jebrail Mohamed, 26, said the United State’s failure to use more man power in Syria led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands.

That sentiment stretches to Europe’s political figures.

Sahra Wagenknecht and Dietmar Bartsch, deputy chairpersons of the Left Party in the German Parliament, said in a policy paper, “Killer gangs, such as the Islamic State, were indirectly supported and without hindrance supplied with money and weapons from countries including those allied with Germany,” apparently referring to early efforts to back moderate rebels in Syria.

Now, President Barack Obama has declared the U.S. will extend asylum to 10,000 Syrian refugees.
Europe faces an even larger burden.

The European Union on Friday delayed for a month a proposed refugee resettlement program due to indecisiveness over how to deal with the massive influx.

Every day, thousands cross into Hungary alone.
Denmark plans to reject the plan.

In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban denounced migrants bringing trouble to his country.

“They seized railway stations, rejected giving fingerprints, failed to cooperate and are unwilling to go to places where they would get food, water, accommodation and medical care,” Orban said at a news conference Friday. “They rebelled against Hungarian legal order.”

The UN is planning to provide supplies for 95,000 in the region including prefabricated homes for 300 families.

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Lavrov: Talk of not involving Syrian Army in fighting ISIS is nonsense

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the most effective military force on the ground in Syria is the Syrian Arab Army, and that talk of not involving it in the war on ISIS is nonsense.
In an interview given to Russia Channel One TV on Sunday, Lavrov wondered if everyone wants Russia to say that it will bombard terrorists in Syria without permission from the Syrian President.
He also criticized the double standards of states involved in the international alliance against ISIS such as Australia, Britain, and France ask permission from the Iraqi government when attacking ISIS in Iraq while not doing the same in Syria.
Lavrov went on to cite another example the West’s double standards regarding Syria, saying that the West acknowledges the legitimacy of President Bashar al-Assad when that serves the West’s interests, such as when the chemical weapons issue emerged and when it was resolved after Syria joined the Chemical Weapons Convention, and now, a year after that, the West doesn’t acknowledge President al-Assad’s legitimacy as the chemical weapons issue isn’t considered a threat anymore.
The Minister attributed Western politicians’ insistence to maintain their positions that call for overthrowing the Syrian government to their fear of losing face, which prevents them from changing their positions, adding that while the West is listening to Russia’s ideas, its politicians have effectively painted themselves into a corner when they said that President al-Assad has no place in Syria’s future.
He asserted that war on terrorism will become more effective when it is coordinated, unbiased, doesn’t employ double standards, and arranges priorities properly, noting that all Western partners are aware that ISIS is the real threat in the Middle East and North Africa, but this needs to be translated into practical action on the ground, adding that the war on ISIS will be long and difficult, but the situation in the region will not deescalate without resolving this threat.
Lavrov also underlined the connection between the increase of refugees going to Europe and the escalating threat of terrorism, expecting that more refugees will flee in search of security and stability, adding that some refuse to admit the real reasons for this phenomenon which are the crimes committed by terrorist organizations like ISIS as well as the economic sanctions imposed by the EU on Syria which have had a negative impact on the living conditions of Syrian civilians.

Is Turkey heading toward civil war?

By Kadri Gursel

The fierce conflict between the Turkish security forces and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the 1990s claimed some 40,000 lives, but it never devolved into a Turkish-Kurdish civil war. Although a number of bloody incidents took place in residential areas of western Turkey where Kurdish minorities lived, they were quickly contained before they could spread.

The first sign that real Turkish-Kurdish strife is possible came in October 2014, during the deadly street protests referred to as the “Kobani unrest.” During Oct. 6-8, Kurds across Turkey took to the streets to protest the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which they held responsible for the siege of the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobani by the Islamic State (IS). In ethnically mixed, Turkish-majority cities, such as Gaziantep, Turkish crowds confronted the demonstrators. In fact, clashes in Gaziantep claimed four lives. Deaths from the unrest, which spilled over to 35 cities, totaled 50, and thousands of public and residential buildings, businesses, schools and vehicles were vandalized or destroyed.
Since Sept. 8, Turkey has been the scene of nationwide attacks on Kurds that are unprecedented since the PKK took up arms in 1984. The wave of violence erupted after two massive PKK bomb attacks killed 16 soldiers and 14 policemen on Sept. 6 and Sept. 8, respectively, spreading to almost all the provinces outside the Kurdish-majority regions of the southeast. Nationalist groups took to the streets, assaulting Kurdish civilians, Kurdish-owned businesses and offices of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which had emerged as Turkey’s third-largest party in the June 7 elections, winning 13.1% of the vote and 80 seats in the 550-member parliament. The party’s offices in 56 provinces and districts were stoned, vandalized and torched. The attacks reached a peak late Sept. 8 when a mob of some 500 people stormed HDP headquarters in downtown Ankara, ransacking and burning part of the building.
Turkish nationalists, reported to have mobilized via social media, also attacked intercity buses carrying passengers to Kurdish-majority regions. Dozens of buses, singled out according to their license plates or company names, had their windows broken under hails of stones, while others were stopped and their passengers verbally and physically harassed. As a result, bus companies operating between the western regions and Diyarbakir, the largest city in the southeast, canceled services Sept. 9-10 to protest the violence.
Impoverished Kurdish workers struggling to make a living from seasonal agricultural jobs across the country were not spared beatings and harassment. Meanwhile, one of the worst nights of horror unfolded Sept. 8 in the central Anatolian city of Kirsehir, where more than 20 Kurdish-owned businesses and shops, including the city’s only bookstore, were torched. The local HDP office was vandalized, and vehicles bound for the southeast were stoned at the city’s bus terminal. According to witnesses, the assailants, who numbered in the thousands, carried lists of their targets. Kirsehir Gov. Necati Senturk blamed the violence on “provocateurs who mingled into an innocent demonstration to condemn terrorism.”
Indeed, the popular outrage the PKK has triggered by killing 30 members of the security forces in two days has presented provocateurs with a golden opportunity. Luckily, as of Sept. 10, the attacks on businesses and party offices had not resulted in any fatalities, but no doubt this good fortune cannot last forever. The danger of frenzied, gun-wielding Turks and Kurds confronting each other in the streets is very real, as the Kobani protests have already shown.
That said, the risk of an all-out confrontation appears for now to have been averted. HDP parliamentary whip Idris Baluken issued a poignant warning Sept. 9, stressing that simultaneous, organized attacks in dozens of cities cannot be explained as a coincidence. “We are hardly restraining our own base,” he said. “Everyone should well foresee the consequences if the masses confront each other.” Turkey’s Kurds are estimated to number at least 15 million, with half of them living in the country’s predominantly Turkish west. This alone offers a good idea of how bloody an ethnic conflict could be.
HDP offices and election bureaus had been targets of violence in the run-up to the June 7 polls, including the site of two bomb attacks. The HDP and the Kurdish movement in general showed restraint and stayed out of the streets. They maintained such discipline even after a bomb ripped through an HDP rally in Diyarbakir on June 5, killing four people and wounding 50. Kurdish street unrest at the time would have jeopardized the party’s chances of reaching the 10% threshold of votes required to enter parliament.
The HDP again faces the same risk if Kurds respond to provocations and take to the streets, contributing to a climate of all-out conflict ahead of the Nov. 1 snap elections. Failure by the HDP to surpass the vote threshold will very likely mean the AKP’s return to power as a single-party government.
The job of the provocateurs, meanwhile, has become much easier than in the run-up to June 7. The war with the PKK has resumed, triggering a contest for the nationalist vote between the AKP and the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), which translates into enmity against Kurds in the street. It is no wonder that a series of attacks against Kurds occurred during nationwide marches by Idealist Hearths, a group close to the ultra-nationalist MHP, held Sept. 8 under the slogan “Pay respect to martyrs, condemn terrorism.”
The on-and-off periods of cease-fire and fighting since 1999 seem to have greatly lowered the Turkish majority’s threshold of psychological resistance to violence. Turks have since become less tolerant of PKK attacks. The sudden resumption of bloodshed and the daily funerals of soldiers and police — just as hopes for a peaceful settlement had been raised, leading to a sense of relief that “it’s finally over” — seem to have intensified the trauma. This, in turn, is fanning the hatred.
A failure to immediately stop the violence against Kurds could have two major impacts on the restive community. First, the attacks against the HDP could lead Kurds to lose faith in politics as a means of contributing to the settlement of the conflict. This, in turn, would inevitably strengthen the inclination to use violence as a political tool and stoke separatist sentiment. Second, continued attacks on Kurds, their businesses and buses and a feeling that western Turkey is no longer safe for Kurds and their investments will accelerate psychological estrangement among Kurds, with the result again being a strengthening of separatist sentiment. The sense of estrangement will only grow stronger if Kurds also come to believe that the security forces are not doing enough to protect them.

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Yemen forces kill 10 Saudi soldiers, several foreign troopers

At least ten Saudi soldiers have been killed along with several other foreign troops in retaliatory attacks by Yemen fighters against Saudi positions inside the kingdom as well as against foreign troops fighting inside Yemen.

The Yemeni al-Masirah news channel reported on Sunday that Ansarullah fighters and their allied army units managed to kill five Saudi soldiers in an attack launched on Saudi bases in the southwestern border city of Najran. The Yemeni troops also killed five other Saudi soldiers during an ambush attack carried out in the Asir region, located in Dhahran al-Janub.

Riyadh has confirmed the fatalities in the in the southwestern province, where Yemeni armed forces also destroyed three Saudi bulldozers.

Elsewhere, Ansarullah fighters launched an operation against Saudi-led foreign forces in Yemen’s central province of Ma’rib. Several soldiers from Qatar, Bahrain, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia were slain in that attack and a number of Saudi tanks and military vehicles were destroyed.

Yemen’s army units also fired rockets targeting a Saudi base in the southwestern province of Jizan with no immediate reports of possible casualties.

A Yemeni man stands near debris following airstrikes by Saudi fighter jets in the capital Sana’a on September 5, 2015. (AFP)
In the latest Saudi air raid, at least one civilian sustained injuries after warplanes targeted Rizih district in the northwestern province of Sa’ada. Warplanes also pounded different parts of the Yemeni capital Sana’a.

Reports say that more foreign forces are joining the Saudi aggression against the impoverished country. Some 1,000 Qatari military forces, backed by more than 200 armored vehicles and 30 Apache combat helicopters, have so far joined the Saudi forces. Some 6,000 Sudanese soldiers are also expected to join the Saudi ground forces.

Reuters reported on September 9, that as many as 800 Egyptian soldiers had arrived in Yemen to aid the Saudi army in its war against Yemen.

Earlier, the Qatar-based al-Jazeera TV reported that 10,000 foreign troops are operating in Yemen.

On March 26, Saudi Arabia began its aggression against Yemen – without a UN mandate – in a bid to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and restore power to the country's fugitive former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.

According to the UN, the conflict has so far left about 4,500 people dead and thousands of others wounded. Local Yemeni sources, however, say the fatality figure is much higher.

Iran Criticizes Saudi Arabia for Yemen Attacks in Times of Muslim Haj

Iran criticized Iran to Saudi Arabia Sunday, for intensifying the bombing in Yemen before the Muslim Hajj pilgrimage, and said that this aggression "is a symbol of their lack of wisdom"
The Iranian deputy minister Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian, urged the Saudi kingdom to stop armed attacks, far from weakening the insurgency Ansar Allah, kill hundreds of innocent civilians, he said.

"To keep aggression on the eve Hajj, the largest religious procession in the world will begin on September 21, it is also an indication of disrespect from Riyadh to constructive diplomacy and peace," said the deputy foreign minister was quoted by the official IRNA news agency.

Amir Abdollahian said there is no military solution to the Yemeni crisis and recalled that the Islamic Republic has already submitted appropriate to help the Wahhabi kingdom to "get rid of the dilemma of Yemen" political mechanisms, but efforts have been ignored.

Iran supports national dialogue among all the political groups and opposing forces in Yemen, recalled the official, who also praised the efforts of the UN special envoy to the Arab country in favor of a negotiated solution to the dispute.

The Deputy Foreign Minister regretted that all efforts UN to send humanitarian aid to Yemen, raising the human blockade to stop the war and bloodbath "have fallen on deaf ears because of the Saudi refusal to help, as the ambiguous silence of some Arab and Western countries." 

Abdollahian Amir's statements came after news that the Yemeni President Abdo Rabbou Mansour Hadi, conditioned its participation in any negotiations with the Shiite militia Ansar Allah and loyal army sector exmandatario Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Hadi, who was exiled to Ryad, days into Saudi bombing campaign against his country on March 26, declined to attend the talks scheduled for this week in Oman, unless the rebels recognize and abide by the resolution 2216 Security Council of the UN.

During a meeting on Saturday night in the capital of the Wahhabi kingdom, Hadi, Vice President and Prime Minister Khaled Bahah, and several advisers demanded the insurgents to accept "unconditionally "the implementation of the UN text.

In that sense, the ousted president refused to set a date and venue for a dialogue with supporters of Saleh and Shiite rebels" to declare their recognition of the decision and begin to implement it ".

Analysts said the Iranian Press TV that such a stance reflects Saudi pressure just as a dangerous concentration of troops from countries in the Arab-Islamic coalition on the border with Yemen in what appears to be an imminent ground invasion is reported .


Saudi government is responsible for the incident that took place in the Holy Ka’ba. According to proofs and statements of engineers, they asked the government to remove those huge cranes that were installed for expansion of the Holy Ka’ba. They told that they asked the government, a week earlier, to remove those cranes and to stop the construction work in order to avoid any abominable incident during Hajj but the government did not hear them and told to continue the work.

It should be keep in mind that millions of people goes to the Holy Ka’ba every year, to perform Hajj. The incident that took place yesterday killed 108 pilgrims whereas more than 200 people were injured, including Pakistanis as well.
According to the administration of Makkah, the incident took place due to the severe storm and cyclone. Pictures on social media shows the lightning falling from the sky.

Saudi Arabia Takes Zero Refugees Despite Having 100,000 Tents Able To House 3 Million People

While Europe takes the burden of the migrant crisis
While European countries are being lectured about their failure to take in enough refugees, Saudi Arabia – which has taken in precisely zero migrants – has 100,000 air conditioned tents that can house over 3 million people sitting empty.
The sprawling network of high quality tents are located in the city of Mina, spreading across a 20 square km valley, and are only used for 5 days of the year by Hajj pilgrims. As the website Amusing Planet reports, “For the rest of the year, Mina remains pretty much deserted.”
The tents, which measure 8 meters by 8 meters, were permanently constructed by the Saudi government in the 1990’s and were upgraded in 1997 to be fire proof. They are divided into camps which include kitchen and bathroom facilities.
The tents could provide shelter for almost all of the 4 million Syrian refugees that have been displaced by the country’s civil war, which was partly exacerbated by Saudi Arabia’s role in funding and arming jihadist groups.

However, as the Washington Post reports, wealthy Gulf Arab nations like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and others have taken in precisely zero Syrian refugees. Although Saudi Arabia claims it has taken in 500,000 Syrians since 2011, rights groups point out that these people are not allowed to register as migrants. Many of them are also legal immigrants who moved there for work. In comparison, Lebanon has accepted 1.3 million refugees – more than a quarter of its population.
While it refuses to take in any more refugees, Saudi Arabia has offered to build 200 mosques for the 500,000 migrants a year expected to pour into Germany.
Saudis argue that the tents in Mina are needed to host the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, but given that the Arabic concept of Ummah is supposed to offer protection to all Muslims under one brotherhood, surely an alternative location could be found so that Mina can be repurposed to house desperate families fleeing war and ISIS persecution?
While Europe is being burdened by potentially millions of people who don’t share the same culture or religion as the host population, Gulf Arab states refuse to pull their weight, resolving only to throw money at the problem.
The likelihood of the Saudis inviting Syrian refugees to stay in Mina is virtually zero, but the thousands of empty tents serve as a physical representation of the hypocrisy shared by wealthy Gulf Arab states when it comes to helping with the crisis.

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Another Unneeded, Unnecessary Building in Afghanistan You Helped Fund


The United States military shelled out millions before deciding the project was unnecessary, bringing the total for unused buildings spotted by the Inspector General for Afghanistan to nearly $42 million.
The beat goes on. For the third time in four months, the watchdog for spending on the war in Afghanistan has released a report that shows the United States military commissioned a multimillion-dollar building in Afghanistan it didn’t need.
This time around, it’s a headquarters for a Special Forces base in Kandahar that was canceled halfway through at a cost of $2.2 million.
The latest disclosure raises the total for surplus buildings uncovered by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction to nearly $42 million. There was the $25 million headquarters in Helmand that three generals said was not needed but was built anyway and never used. Then there was a warehouse in Kandahar for $14.7 million that was also never used, because the unit for which it was intended ended its mission in Afghanistan before the building was completed.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which was responsible for the contract, told SIGAR that it was still negotiating a final settlement with the contractor.

In the latest report released last Tuesday, SIGAR detailed how the military decided in July 2012 that it wanted a new, single headquarters on Camp Brown in Kandahar. The camp was home to troops with the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force. (SIGAR also sent the Pentagon a more detailed, classified letter about its findings on the building.)
The military hired an Afghan company to build a $5 million, two-story building with administrative space and a secure communications room for logistics, maintenance, personnel, and operations management, according to the report. The building was scheduled to be completed in July 2013—just as the U.S. greatly reduced its military presence in the country and only 18 months before the combat mission was scheduled to end.
The contractor, Road and Roof Construction Company, fell almost a year behind schedule, and, in October 2013, the commanders whose troops had been assigned to occupy the building decided it was no longer needed, SIGAR said.
Six months later, the military canceled the project.
By this time, $2.2 million had already been spent. The building remains half constructed, with no stairs to the second floor, electrical wiring, or plumbing, SIGAR said. It has never been used.
Military officials told SIGAR that they halted construction because the operations planned for the region had changed, making Camp Brown’s existing facilities sufficient. The inspectors said this decision was reasonable, but suggested that the military should consider completing the building for the Afghan government’s use.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which was responsible for the contract, told SIGAR that it was still negotiating a final settlement with the contractor. Because negligence was not involved in the cancellation, it’s possible that the company could demand the rest of the contract be paid.

In Pakistan, U.S. Aid Agency’s Efforts Produce Dubious Results

The ads are a staple of Pakistani television: footage of water gushing through dams, farmers standing in green fields, a girl using a computer. At the end, the red, white and blue logo of an aid organization flashes on the screen with its slogan, “from the American people.”
The organization behind the Urdu-language ads, the United States Agency for International Development, or U.S.A.I.D., has been operating in Pakistan for more than a decade, disbursing billions of dollars. But critics say the aid has had minimal impact on the ground.
Critics accuse the agency of taking on projects with little consideration for local priorities and being over-reliant on American contractors with little development experience. At the same time, they say, much of the aid money goes toward administrative costs, and large amounts have been siphoned off by Pakistani subcontractors who fail to complete work or return raw material.
A recent lawsuit against the agency highlighted the challenges and image problem it faces in a country where American aid is often viewed with suspicion, and countries like China have been making inroads with their own programs. The case, filed in Peshawar, in northern Pakistan, by three lawyers seeking the payment of legal fees from the aid agency, accused it of abandoning the recovery of United States taxpayer money from a former contractor.
Documents and correspondence filed by the lawyers lay bare the money and equipment that went to waste in a project in Pakistan’s insurgency-hit tribal areas. One subcontractor finished only two of 12 irrigation channels he was supposed to build. Another did not return more than $27,000 worth of construction material to U.S.A.I.D., and demanded nearly $30,000 in rental charges for equipment, though there was no proof of any machinery on site.
Nadeem UL Haque, the former deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, a government agency that oversees development projects, said U.S.A.I.D. had become an “aid-outsourcing agency” and that funds largely flowed back to American contractors instead of to communities.
Despite the widespread criticism about its effectiveness, some experts also acknowledge that the agency has been the victim of anti-Americanism in Pakistan and has failed to promote some of its successes.
“I would not say it’s been a failure — they’ve invested money in energy and education — but because of anti-Americanism and their own inability to effectively communicate, this hasn’t been seen,” said Raza Rumi, a fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, who has worked in Pakistan’s development sector. “They’ve spent so much money in F.A.T.A.,” he added, referring to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of northwest Pakistan. “The reality is no one actually knows the result.”
Officials with the United States Agency for International Development declined repeated requests for comment.
The agency’s recent troubles are just the latest in a series of high-profile missteps for American aid efforts in Pakistan.
An Islamist group that received funding from the State Department to hold an anti-Taliban demonstration also went on to lead rallies in support of a man who assassinated the governor of Punjab Province in 2011.
In 2012, the agency cut funding to a Pakistani theater group producing a local version of “Sesame Street” over irregularities in procurements and asked it to return $1.6 million it had been paid. The theater group did not repay the funds or return equipment worth approximately $900,000, according to a report by the agency’s Office of Inspector General.
And in March 2015, an internal audit by the agency of a $102.7 million municipal services program in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa found that the provincial government had worked in only one city of the three districts for which it was granted funds, and had only carried out a handful of activities there.
The report noted that while funds had been issued to contractors, “The lack of significant progress indicates that the capacity-building efforts may not be sufficient in quality, quantity, or discipline to accomplish the goals set forth by the program.”
Development aid, which is dwarfed by the military aid that the United States provides Pakistan, has long been a contentious issue between the two countries but has been growing in recent years.
In 2009, Congress authorized $7.5 billion in nonmilitary aid to Pakistan over five years. But stipulations related to civilian control over the military infuriated the Pakistani military, which said the legislation interfered with national security. Many Pakistanis view any aid initiatives of the United States with suspicion.
“There is also this deep-seated suspicion that this aid — whatever the objectives — are kind of subject to the U.S. foreign policy’s short-term goals,” said Mr. Rumi of the National Endowment of Democracy.
But, he said, the development agency could also be faulted for its bureaucratic inefficiency and for not having prioritized assistance effectively, as well as its emphasis on hiring contractors from the United States. “A lot of money which is allocated or spent goes back to the contractors,” he said, adding that other international aid agencies worked more directly with provincial governments.
Another challenge for the United States is that its aid programs are often overshadowed by those of other donors like China, which disburses funds without many of the conditions demanded by Western agencies like U.S.A.I.D.
“The Chinese do not get into the whole idea of improving a country’s systems and governance and how it functions,” Mr. Rumi said. “They are very clear: ‘Do whatever you want — we’ll build this road, highway or nuclear plant.’” Western governments, he said, instead appear to feel that it is their “moral responsibility” to improve governance and accountability.
Critics like Mr. Haque say the American aid agency and other foreign donors are themselves not transparent about their own work.
“When I was at the Planning Commission I asked them to present their programs to us and they resented it,” Mr. Haque said. “If I’m planning, I need to know what they’re doing.”
China also sets itself apart by building high-visibility infrastructure projects such as a recently announced $46 billion investment in Pakistan for energy and infrastructure projects, unlike U.S.A.I.D., which often focuses on less-prominent programs like training and expanding the capacity of government institutions.
The development agency’s project at the center of the lawsuit in Peshawar was a $300 million initiative to create jobs and build roads in insurgency-torn districts in the tribal areas. One of the contractors on the project, Academy for Educational Development, a now-defunct American nonprofit organization, was accused in 2009 of submitting false claims and failing to inform U.S.A.I.D. that it was aware that its subcontractors were overcharging U.S.A.I.D., potentially by millions of dollars. U.S.A.I.D. suspended Academy for Educational Development from United States government contracts and reached a settlement that involved the repayment of more than $5 million.
Academy for Educational Development was also awarded at least $300,000 after a drawn-out arbitration process with its Pakistani subcontractors — money that should have been returned to U.S.A.I.D. The Pakistani lawyers who filed the suit said that the aid agency had made no attempt to recover the money.
The agency’s reluctance to pursue the subcontractors for the money may stem from a desire to avoid the Pakistani legal system, where cases are often plagued with delays and allegations of corruption. But for many Pakistanis, the case is another puzzling instance of wastefulness. “This is U.S. taxpayer money,” Sanaullah Khan, one of the lawyers, said. “Why is U.S.A.I.D. walking away from an ongoing legal process?”

Constitution of Pakistan guarantees religious freedom to minorities says Hindu leader

Patron-in-chief of Pakistan Hindu Council, Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani has said that the constitution of Pakistan guarantees to provide religious freedom to the minorities, adding that Quaid-e-Azam in his address to the Constitutional Assembly also ensured the minorities to live according to their religious beliefs. While delivering his keynote speech, on the occasion of first-ever Dharmik Quiz Competition organized for the Hindu Children in the history of Pakistan, Dr. Ramesh Vankwani said that providing religious education to the minorities, according to their beliefs, must be included in the curriculum of schools. He urged that the teachings of all religions ask their followers to respect other religions, which is essential for a peaceful society.

"Today, the passion of Hindu Children participants prove that the future of Pakistan is bright," Dr. Ramesh said, while urging that all segments of society must join hands for promoting the interfaith harmony. He also ensured the participants that Pakistan Hindu Council would continue the struggle for the protection of minorities rights, as per the detailed decision of the Supreme Court on June 19, 2014.

The Dharmik Quiz, Speech and Tableau competition, was organized by the Pakistan Hindu Council, for children of Hindu community for awareness of Hindu dharam , at Swami Narayan Temple. On the occasion, cash prizes and appreciation shields were also distributed among the participants, belonging to more than 1,500 Hindu families, where thousand of people have gathered to support the noble cause. 

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Hundreds of Pak-Christian asylum seekers detained in crackdown

In a major police crackdown in Bangkok, Thailand hundreds of asylum seekers were arrested for overstaying there tourists visas. The majority of those arrested were the ignored Pak-Christian asylum seeker community, two Somali families and one Afghan family. 

At 10 am on 10th September 2015, immigration officers visited Delight Condos in Pracha Uthit, Soi 75 accompanied by a mass of police officers and the military forces of Thailand. Security forces have been clamping down on illegal immigration since the recent bomb blast in Bangkok's centre at the Erawan Hindu shrine, one of Thailand’s most famous and popular tourist locations. 

Over 100 asylum seekers from many nations were questioned by the police and 91 were taken to the infamous and brutal Immigration Detention Centre, in the capital. The Thailand United Nations Commission for Human Rights (UNHCR) negotiated the release of 27 of those captured under the terms of asylum seekers with 'special concerns', none of whom were Pak-Christians. The special terms included vulnerable women who were pregnant and their children, and the elderly. This current negotiation is quite a precedent by the UNHCR and follows the submission of a report on the scandal of the UNHCR with Pak-Christians that was delivered in by our Chairman Wilson Chowdhry in person to Senior Protection Officer at the UNHCR Peter Trotter, in Bangkok on Tuesday 9th September 2015. The report commissioned by the BPCA, and co-authored by two genocide scholars Professor Rainer Rothfuss and former Senior lecturer at De Montford University Desmond Fernandes, contained details of the insouciance towards asylum seekers in Thailand by the UNHCR and highlighted that although the Thai Government had not signed UN Conventions on Asylum - nether the 1951 or 1967 versions - they had signed the following conventions, which meant the UN had a significant responsibility to ensure adherence to: 

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) (December 10, 1948) 

- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) (October 29, 1996)priam 

- Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (October 2, 2007) 

- Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (January 9, 2012) 

- Convention on the Rights of the Child (March 27, 1992). 

The report primarily focuses on the rights of Pak-Christian asylum seekers who make up the largest body of asylum seekers in Thailand, reported to be around 4600 by the UN but German NGO International Society for Human Rights placed the figure much higher at 8000. The report highlights the delay in Resettlement Status Determinations (RSD) for which an interview can take up to 4 years, leaving victims easily deportable, from here refugees status can take a further 4 years and resettlement a similar period. The UN documents have no worth in Thailand and arrest are indiscriminate of those with or without them. The report describes the scandalous overcrowding in Thailand's Detention centre; the disturbing failure to process asylum applications with many delayed until 2018; poor levels of resources and personnel for the UNHCR; failure to provide or permit legal representation for detainees; failure to protect women and children; inadequate and flawed translation provision often by Muslims to Christians who believe they have a biased agenda; the denial of education for children and young people; meagre health care, leading to deteriorating conditions and deaths of refugees while detained and soon after release; and dismissal of evidence detailing an escalation in violence against the tiny Christian minority and the well-founded fear of lethal persecution. 

Despite the report the UNHCR believes the main failing is with the Thai Government, a spokesperson said: "in my view, a primary focus of advocacy efforts should be the main source of the challenge, namely the RTG (Royal Thai Government) and the absence of a legal framework for addressing the needs of persons of seeking international protection. 

The BPCA is calling for the UNHCR to pursue better rights for Pak-Christian asylum seekers by calling for a reassessment of the current risk profiling. The UNHCR cites Britain’s Home Office policy statement (Feb 2013) that Pakistani Christians don't suffer persecution. In which Theresa May summarizes the policy as such “Christians in Pakistan are a religious minority who, in general, suffer discrimination but this is not sufficient to amount to a real risk of persecution."

The UNHCR does not need to follow any particular country for their assessments and we call on them to review the positions of countries such as Holland and Canada who have both adopted "High Risk" status for Pak-Christians. The BPCA is also launching a campaign to improve the current misinformed position held by Britain. Lord Alton at a meeting with Wilson Chowdhry in Bangkok on Tuesday said: 

"The exodus from Pakistan is driven by visceral hatred and a fanatical disregard for the rights of minorities. In a country where the brave Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, can be murdered in broad daylight, where churches are bombed, where an illiterate woman can be sentenced to death of alleged blasphemy charges, where a husband and wife can be burnt alive in front of their young children, and where there is a culture of impunity which rarely leads to those responsible being brought to justice, it is little wonder that many Christians are fleeing for their lives. It doubly compounds their suffering when the international community fails to step up to the plate in defence of those who have to endure such pitiless suffering and hardship.” 

BPCA has set up a fund for the release of Pak-Christians asylum seekers, for whom it will cost 50,000 baht (£1000) to release on bail. Once released on bail families have a two year protection from re-arrest and we hope and pray that many of you will help us to deliver them from the awful conditions in the IDC. Lord Alton visited the Thailand Immigration Detention Centre following a conversation with Chairman of the BPCA in June. During his visit to Thailand he noticed the despicable conditions of asylum seekers caged within the undersized and over capacitated cells in which refugees numbering in their hundreds are forced to sleep crouching, standing up, laying over one another and have to organise themselves into sleeping shifts. Food consists of boiled cucumber and rice in small proportions and all inmates look presentably emaciated. Toilets are flooded and overflowing, are too few for the number of detainees and create a rancid stench that is overpowering. We also hope to be able to support these families by providing rent and subsidence grants. 

Wilson Chowdhry of the BPCA said: "Pakistani Christians are the most ignored persecuted minority globally, despite the copious amount of evidence pertaining to the ever-present danger of persecution they face. Britain and America hold disingenuous positions with regards to asylum for Christians form Pakistan, based on protection of their existing economic ties through trade agreement and their desire to continue ally status in the war against terror. This is unhealthy and limits the desire for change in the corrupt nation of Pakistan, which has become a birthing ground for extremists and has now resulted in UNCHR misinformation, allowing millions to continue suffering and thousands who escaped violence to become repersecuted. Unchallenged the existing protocols will mean many will continue to live in terror or die in despicable circumstances. The UNHCR must simply undertake more research on the quality of life for Pakistani Christians, perhaps in the form of an officer living with a Christian family to understand the real implications of religious intolerance in Pakistan." 

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