Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Music Video - Billy Joel - We Didn't Start the Fire

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West 'ignored Russian offer in 2012 to have Syria's Assad step aside'

Exclusive: Senior negotiator describes rejection of alleged proposal – since which time tens of thousands have been killed and millions displaced
Russia proposed more than three years ago that Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, could step down as part of a peace deal, according to a senior negotiator involved in back-channel discussions at the time.
Former Finnish president and Nobel peace prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari said western powers failed to seize on the proposal. Since it was made, in 2012, tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions uprooted, causing the world’s gravest refugee crisis since the second world war.
Ahtisaari held talks with envoys from the five permanent members of the UN security council in February 2012. He said that during those discussions, the Russian ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, laid out a three-point plan, which included a proposal for Assad to cede power at some point after peace talks had started between the regime and the opposition.
But he said that the US, Britain and France were so convinced that the Syrian dictator was about to fall, they ignored the proposal.
“It was an opportunity lost in 2012,” Ahtisaari said in an interview.
Officially, Russia has staunchly backed Assad through the four-and-half-year Syrian war, insisting that his removal cannot be part of any peace settlement. Assad has said that Russia will never abandon him. Moscow has recently begun sending troops, tanks and aircraft in an effort to stabilise the Assad regime and fight Islamic State extremists.
Ahtisaari won the Nobel prize in 2008 “for his efforts on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts”, including in Namibia, Aceh in Indonesia, Kosovo and Iraq.
On 22 February 2012 he was sent to meet the missions of the permanent five nations (the US, Russia, UK, France and China) at UN headquarters in New York by The Elders, a group of former world leaders advocating peace and human rights that has included Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, and former UN secretary general Kofi Annan.
“The most intriguing was the meeting I had with Vitaly Churkin because I know this guy,” Ahtisaari recalled. “We don’t necessarily agree on many issues but we can talk candidly. I explained what I was doing there and he said: ‘Martti, sit down and I’ll tell you what we should do.’
“He said three things: One – we should not give arms to the opposition. Two – we should get a dialogue going between the opposition and Assad straight away. Three – we should find an elegant way for Assad to step aside.”
Churkin declined to comment on what he said had been a “private conversation” with Ahtisaari. The Finnish former president, however, was adamant about the nature of the discussion.
“There was no question because I went back and asked him a second time,” he said, noting that Churkin had just returned from a trip to Moscow and there seemed little doubt he was raising the proposal on behalf of the Kremlin.
Ahtisaari said he passed on the message to the American, British and French missions at the UN, but he said: “Nothing happened because I think all these, and many others, were convinced that Assad would be thrown out of office in a few weeks so there was no need to do anything.”
While Ahtisaari was still in New York, Kofi Annan was made joint special envoy on Syria for the UN and the Arab League. Ahtisaari said: “Kofi was forced to take up the assignment as special representative. I say forced because I don’t think he was terribly keen. He saw very quickly that no one was supporting anything.”
In June 2012, Annan chaired international talks in Geneva, which agreed a peace plan by which a transitional government would be formed by “mutual consent” of the regime and opposition. However, it soon fell apart over differences on whether Assad should step down. Annan resigned as envoy a little more than a month later, and Assad’s personal fate has been the principal stumbling block to all peace initiatives since then.
Last week, Britain’s foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, suggested that as part of a peace deal, Assad could remain in office during a six-month “transitional period” but the suggestion was quickly rejected by Damascus.
Western diplomats at the UN refused to speak on the record about Ahtisaari’s claim, but pointed out that after a year of the Syrian conflict, Assad’s forces had already carried out multiple massacres, and the main opposition groups refused to accept any proposal that left him in power. A few days after Ahtisaari’s visit to New York, Hillary Clinton, then US secretary of state, branded the Syrian leader a war criminal.
Sir John Jenkins – a former director of the Middle East department of the UK’s Foreign Office who was preparing to take up the post of ambassador to Saudi Arabia in the first half of 2012 – said that in his experience, Russia resisted any attempt to put Assad’s fate on the negotiating table “and I never saw a reference to any possible flexing of this position”.
Jenkins, now executive director of the Middle East branch of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said in an email: “I think it is true that the general feeling was Assad wouldn’t be able to hold out. But I don’t see why that should have led to a decision to ignore an offer by the Russians to get him to go quickly, as long as that was a genuine offer.
“The weakest point is Ahtisaari’s claim that Churkin was speaking with Moscow’s authority. I think if he had told me what Churkin had said, I would have replied I wanted to hear it from [President Vladimir] Putin too before I could take it seriously. And even then I’d have wanted to be sure it wasn’t a Putin trick to draw us in to a process that ultimately preserved Assad’s state under a different leader but with the same outcome.”
A European diplomat based in the region in 2012 recalled: “At the time, the west was fixated on Assad leaving. As if that was the beginning and the end of the strategy and then all else would fall into place … Russia continuously maintained it wasn’t about Assad. But if our heart hung on it, they were willing to talk about Assad; mind: usually as part of an overall plan, process, at some point etc. Not here and now.”
However, the diplomat added: “I very much doubt the P3 [the US, UK and France] refused or dismissed any such strategy offer at the time. The questions were more to do with sequencing – the beginning or end of process – and with Russia’s ability to deliver – to get Assad to step down.”
At the time of Ahtisaari’s visit to New York, the death toll from the Syrian conflict was estimated to be about 7,500. The UN believes that toll passed 220,000 at the beginning of this year, and continues to climb. The chaos has led to the rise of Islamic State. Over 11 million Syrians have been forced out of their homes.
“We should have prevented this from happening because this is a self-made disaster, this flow of refugees to our countries in Europe,” Ahtisaari said. “I don’t see any other option but to take good care of these poor people … We are paying the bills we have caused ourselves.”

Putin: ISIS has designs on Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem, endangers Europe & Russia

Islamic State has designs on the holy cities of Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem and endangers Europe and Russia, Vladimir Putin said. Moscow is concerned about ISIL-trained jihadists returning to EU countries, the CIS and Russia.
The situation is very serious, Putin said, adding that Moscow is very worried that ISIL terrorists are publicly announcing their designs on Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. The jihadists also plan to spread their activities to Europe, Russia, central and southeastern Asia.
“Extremists from many countries of the world, including, unfortunately, European counties, Russia and the  Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) undertake ideological and military training in the ranks of ISIL,” said Putin. “And certainly we are worried that they could possibly return.”
Putin said it’s necessary for geopolitical ambitions to be set aside in the fight against ISIL terrorists.
“Simple common sense, responsibility for global and regional safety require uniting efforts of the international community [to fight] such a threat. It is necessary to set aside geopolitical ambitions, drop so-called double standards, the policy of direct or indirect use of separate terrorist groups for achieving own goals, including removing the governments and regimes.” 


32 Nations Slam Bahrain’s Human Rights Record

In a letter read out to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday, the 32 governments said, “…the human rights situation in Bahrain remains an issue of serious concern” to them.
The letter, which was read out by Swiss Ambassador to the UN Alexandre Fasel, regretted the fact that the Bahraini government had failed to provide enough guarantees for a fair trial of prisoners, while it slammed the detention of minors who took part in demonstrations.
"We are concerned there is insufficient accountability for human rights violations,” said the letter, which was also signed by the United States, a close ally of Manama.
Bahrain has been gripped by an uprising since 2011 when people began to take to the streets to demand more freedom and more of a say in the closed ruling system. The demonstrators later demanded the ouster of the ruling Al Khalifa regime. Nearly a hundred have died in protests or under custody while hundreds more are also behind bars for taking part in peaceful demonstrations. 
The Monday letter criticized the government for its intolerance of people’s peaceful rallies, saying such gatherings should not be met with harassment.
“We are concerned about reports of harassment and imprisonment of persons exercising their rights to freedom of opinion and expression and of peaceful assembly and association, including human rights defenders,” the letter said, urging the government “to appropriately address all reports of torture and ill-treatment of detainees and ensure full investigation and prosecution of these cases.”
The statement also called on Manama to agree to a visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture for a probe into repeated cases of mistreatment in the regime’s prisons. The UN investigator was denied one such visit in 2013.
Bahraini officials reacted to the letter, saying the smaller number of signatories compared to last year’s 47 proves a recognition of the kingdom’s efforts in improving the human rights situation.
Rights advocacy groups, including the Human Rights Watch, slammed some governments, including Italy and Spain, for their lack of support to the statement, saying they “put politics before rights.”


Assad calls on Syria’s political forces to consolidate over demands of security, stability

"If we want real success, it is impossible as long as people are dying, as long as blood is being shed and as long as people cannot feel safe," Syrian President Bashar Assad says.
Political forces in Syria should consolidate around popular demands of security and stability for all, Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview with the Russian mass media.
"We, Syria’s political forces, both inside the government and those off power, must get consolidated around demands of the Syrian people," Assad said. "If you ask any Syrian what he or she wants today, they will not hesitate a minute: security and stability for each and all."
"We must continue dialogue to reach a consensus," he stressed. "But if we want real success, it is impossible as long as people are dying, as long as blood is being shed and as long as people cannot feel safe. We will reach nothing unless we rebuff terrorism in Syria."
He said consolidated society in Syria was impossible unless it embraced various peoples living in the country. "The Kurds are part of Syrian society, they are not alien, they have been living in this land along with Arabs, Circassians, Armenians and many other nationalities and religions co-existing in Syria from time immemorial," Assad said. "No integral society is possible in Syria without these constituent parts."



Ali ibn Muhammad al-Nimr', Born in 1994, has been sentenced to death by Saudi Arabia's Court of Appeal.
Hailing from the majority Shiite district of 'al-awamiyah' - eastern province of Qatif - Ali al-Nimr was arrested 3 years ago under strict orders of Saudi security officials, in complete breach of the law since underage.
It is important to note that the Saudi regime has systematically bypassed national and international laws to suit its political agenda - thousands of prisoners of conscience are currently lingering in Saudi prisons, at the mercy of a system which does not recognize, neither abide by the rule of law.
The son of Mohammad al-Nimr, a prominent lawyer and activist, Ali ibn Muhammad al-Nimr is also the nephew of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a Saudi Shiite cleric whose life work has been to oppose tyranny.
Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, Ali's uncle, was arrested following a series of protests in Saudi Arabia back in 2012. He was sentenced to death in 15 October 2014 by the Specialized Criminal Court for “seeking foreign meddling in Saudi Arabia, disobeying its rulers and taking up arms against the security forces.”
Ali ibn Mohammad al-Nimr was also arrested for participating in protests in al-awamiyah - eastern province of Saudi Arabia.
According to reports, al-Nimr's father confirmed news of his son's sentence to death.
He told reporters: "These accusations are untrue and Saudi officials are deliberately issuing this sentence following the sentence of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr."
"My son has never had a lawyer during his trial and interrogation and this sentence against him was a predefined process," Mohammad al-Nimr added.

Wahhabism, Saudi Arabia, and Their Gift to Yale


The first thing you need to know about Saudi Arabia is that it is not a country but a financial and religious empire with a million poisonous tentacles stretching across both the West and the Muslim world. Its wealth is built upon the dirty oil under its sands, its legitimacy crafted upon an even dirtier political deal with a totalitarian religious cult known as Wahhabism.
The Saudi Royal Family treats the country as its private property. When the House of Saud conquered the territory known as Arabia, they named the country after themselves, hence the Saudi before the Arabia. It is more of a corporation than anything else, except The Family controls Islam's holiest cities and profits handsomely off them.
Saudi Arabia should have made more news last week than it did. For starters, it was the anniversary of 9/11, and Saudi Arabia played at least an indirect role in Al Qaeda's attacks on Washington and New York. More on that in a minute. But a Saudi billionaire also donated $10 million to Yale University and Yale Law School to establish a Center of Islamic Law and Civilization. The official announcement marked this as a great triumph. The establishment of such a center would have indeed been a victory worth celebrating had the money not originated from such a dubious source.
The Saudi billionaire-donor is named Abdullah Kamel. He is the CEO of the Dallah Albaraka Group, a Saudi conglomerate. Dallah Albaraka Group was a named defendant in a lawsuit brought by the families of 9/11 victims. Many of these suits were eventually dismissed on jurisdictional grounds, but a suit against Dallah Avco, a subsidiary of Dallah Albaraka Group, is currently in the discovery stage. Dallah Avco is an aviation company with ties to the Saudi Air Force -- the same air force dropping bombs on Yemenis this very second, mutilating and killing thousands of them. Dallah Avco employed a man named Omar al-Bayoumi, a Saudi citizen who held a do-nothing job with the company while he was befriending and helping two of the 9/11 hijackers.
The Dallah AlBaraka Group and Abdullah Kamel undoubtedly operate with the blessings of the Saudi Royal Family, whose role in the 9/11 attacks is finally starting to be exposed. Earlier this year, the "20th hijacker," Zacarious Moussaoui, directly accused the Saudi Royal Family of knowing about the 9/11 attacks in advance and funding al Qaeda's plot. The Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 redacted 28 crucial pages dealing with alleged Saudi involvement in the planning and execution of the attacks. Bob Graham, former senator and ex-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has said in sworn statements that the Saudi government assisted the 9/11 terrorists.
Occam's Razor directs the proponents of any theory to eliminate unnecessary assumptions. In the case of 9/11, 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis. They came from a country run by absolute monarchs, where information is tightly controlled, where a company known as the Saudi Bin Laden Group is the largest construction conglomerate. Trace the money back to its roots, and you quickly find that this "gift" tarnishes Yale beyond measure.
But the Saudi-Yale deal is about more than Yale or 9/11, much more. It is about elite institutions constantly prostrating at the feet of the Saudi Royal Family. The Family has given Harvard and Georgetown $40 million. They have funded research at leading scientific institutions to maximize Saudi oil output. They have donated to leading foundations, including the Clinton Foundation. They have paid for fundamentalist imams in American prisons. From California to India, they have erected a mammoth infrastructure of Wahhabist madrassas which indoctrinate impressionable young men to the virtues of their cause.
In this last charge alone, the Saudi Royal Family's dollars are drenched in blood. The House of Saud came to power in the 1700s by making a deal with a fanatical preacher named Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, who taught that Islam had to be stripped down to its puritan essence. All later adaptations were eliminated because they were seen as sinful. A Muslim had to adhere to the Wahhabists' literal interpretation of scripture or risk being deemed an apostate, and thus, liable to be murdered. Visits to the shrines of saints were criminalized as idolatrous. The Shia, the Sufis, the Ahmadis--all Muslim minorities--were thought to have deviated from the One True Path and so they, too, could be killed. Because Wahhab and his gang claimed to be defending Islam, their violence was legitimated as jihad. Homosexuals and blasphemers were to be put to death. Adulterers were to be stoned. Thieves were to have their hands amputated.
In the Saudi-Wahhab deal, Wahhab pledged to "support the ruler, supplying him with glory and power" if Ibn Saud made Wahhabist doctrine his official dogma. In the early 1800s, the Saudis took over Makkah and destroyed the monuments built to the Prophet Muhammad's family. The Prophet's tomb itself was just barely saved. They destroyed the cemetery where members of the Prophet's family were buried. They ransacked the holy Shia city of Karbala in Iraq, mass-murdered women and children, and pillaged the tomb of Husain, the Prophet's nephew and the spiritual leader of the world's Shia.
In more modern times, the Saudis have spent upwards of $100 billion building madrassas around the world. In Pakistan, once a relatively liberal country, the number of Saudi-funded fundamentalist madrassas went from 900 to 32,000 in over a decade. These madrassas did not produce engineers and doctors but religious fanatics. Some of the students in these madrassas became leaders of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Simply put: You do not get today's Sunni-Shia war without the Saudi Royal Family exporting Wahhabism, an ideology with conflict and plunder inherent in its core.
The legacy of Saud and Wahhab continues, though now with a Las Vegas bent. Makkah--Islam's holiest city and the destination of the Hajj pilgrimage which attracts over 3 million Muslims annually--is surrounded by cranes and construction facilities building hotels and luxury shopping centers that loom over Islam's holiest sites. In recent years, the house of Khadijah, the Prophet's wife, was destroyed to build toilets. The house of Abu Bakr, the Prophet's companion, was razed to build a Hilton hotel.Over 98% of Arabia's religious heritage sites, and thus Islamic history, have been destroyed. If all of this sounds eerily like ISIS it is because ISIS and Saudi Arabiashare the exact same ideology. The Saudis just happen to be our friends.
The man who gave Yale that $10 million check hails from the most totalitarian country on earth, second perhaps only to North Korea. Enforced as official dogma in the Kingdom are the two most fundamental and ancient forms of totalitarianism: Man's control over the bodies of women and his control over the thoughts of all citizens. Women live under a segregationist, sexist, apartheid state. The thought-murdering ideology of Wahhabism criminalizes dissent before it can even germinate in individual consciences. The law is not supreme; the House of Saud is. The purpose of the law is not to serve and protect but to preserve the Family and destroy the minds and bodies of its enemies, beginning with the Shia.
The study of Islamic civilization is desperately needed in the West. The writings of ancient Greek philosophers were translated and preserved by Muslim philosophers and scientists in the great libraries of Baghdad. Our numerical system is owed to Persian and Arab mathematicians. Much of our current understanding in physics, calculus, philosophy, political economy, medicine, indeed, the scientific method itself, is owed at least in part to Islam's golden age. Try and get to the Renaissance and Enlightenment without Islam's discoveries and you will find yourself stuck in the Dark Ages. Islamic civilization was open, tolerant, diverse. Wahhabism and the Saudi Royal Family inverted all of that, built a sectarian empire, and with their oil money, bought off those who could be bought, and imposed themselves on everyone else.
The Yale gift makes a mockery of this rich history. Saudi money should not be funding any more programs in the United States or elsewhere because the money is stained with both blood and oil. It was extracted from the ground, but the extractors got to where they are by stomping upon the bones of their fellow Muslims. Let justice be done, though the heavens fall, goes the ancient quote, but justice will never be done if this organized crime family continued to buy our loyalty. Mr. Kamel's check should be returned to him and his Saudi patrons with clear instructions that they spend the money making amends for The Family's many crimes against humanity, their genocide of Islamic civilization.

U.S. Vice President Biden slams Trump on immigration

At a reception at the vice president's residence for Hispanic Heritage Month, Vice President Biden took aim at Donald Trump's hard line on undocumented immigrants.
"The Trump and that stuff you are hearing on the other team, and not just, this isn't about Democrat/Republican. It's about a sick message," Biden said. "This message has been tired on America many times before. We always, always, always, always, always overcome it."
"I don't want anybody to be down right now about what's going on in the Republican Party. I'm being deadly earnest about this," Biden said. "I want you to remember, notwithstanding the fact that there's one guy absolutely denigrating an entire group of people. Appealing to the baser side of human nature. Working on this notion of xenophobia in a way that hasn't occurred in a long time. Since the Know-Nothing party back at the end of the nineteenth century."
The Know-Nothings were a prominent political party in parts of the midwest who opposed immigrants and Catholics.
The vice president sought to reassure his Latino audience that the American people don't agree with Trump.
"Folks, the American people are with us. I know it doesn't feel that way. But I'm telling you, I'm telling you, the American people agree with us. We're gonna take a while to overcome."
He also told them that as he walked out of his residence, Trump was starting to speak tonight, referring to the billionaire Republican candidate's speech Tuesday evening on the S.S. Iowa in Southern California. Biden said of Trump's views: "Folks, this will not prevail. This will not prevail."
At the end there were some cries from the audience of "run, Joe, run" and Biden shook his head, saying, "No, no," and stepped away.

Video - President Obama Honors the NCAA Champion, University of Connecticut Huskies

Video Report - President Obama Meets with the King of Spain

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Putin: Deteriorating Security Situation in Afghanistan Arouses Concern

The Russian president expressed concern over the "degrading" security situation in Afghanistan.

Russia is worried about the escalating security situation in Afghanistan and the lack of results from NATO's extensive presence there, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday.

"The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has been in the country long enough and has conducted somewhat positive work. However, in the end these efforts have not brought about a radically qualitative improvement of the final situation," Putin told reporters.

Speaking at the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) summit, Putin expressed concern over the "degrading" security situation in the country and the effects of the withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan in December 2014.

"The danger of terrorist [and] extremist groups penetrating into Afghanistan from neighboring states has grown," the Russian president stressed.

The Taliban has regained its foothold in Afghanistan after the United States scaled down its combat operations in the country as part of its war on terror.

Read more: http://sputniknews.com/asia/20150915/1027008514.html#ixzz3lr3UTWwm

Politics 101: Why military coups happen in Pakistan

Ten years ago, Dr Charles H. Kennedy, renowned expert on Pakistani politics, wrote the essay A User’s Guide to Guided Democracy, in which he sarcastically outlined ten steps that could help any new ruler of Pakistan's to consolidate their rule – common tactics that have been employed by all military dictators in Pakistan.

The essay took Pakistan’s political history and identified patterns from within: The General Ayub Khan coup in 1958, General Zia-ul-Haq’s overthrow of ZA Bhutto in 1978, and General Musharraf’s ouster of Nawaz Sharif in 1999 – all contained similarities in terms of tactics employed by the military rulers after taking office.

Using legal acrobatics to avoid being implicated, persecuting political opponents, manipulating local government systems, and tinkering with the constitution are just some of the strands common to all three. But beyond what happens after a coup, there is another important question:

Why and how do coups happen in the first place?

It's important because clearly, Pakistan is not yet in agreement upon the kind of political system we would like to live under. "Democracy" is trumpeted a lot. But when an elected government takes office, public resolve wanes in the face of dismal service delivery. People become impatient. They feel alienated. Many start to frequent the altar of the messiah for deliverance, and more often than not, the messiah comes donning khakhi.

Recently, tensions between political and security forces in Sindh rose to an alarming extent. While the rhetoric has cooled down from previous days (there was talk of Governor’s Rule at one point), some surmise that another coup might be in the offing, or as one observer put it, "messiah season" may just be upon us once again.

The truth, however, is that organisational strategies that work in the barracks seldom work in the administrative corridors of power. And the results are never good for the country, or even for the army.

So can we identify (and protect ourselves from) an actual pattern to coupmaking in Pakistan?

To that end, here are some factors that were common to all the interregnums between coups – periods of democracy, essentially – that have resulted in the military's direct involvement in running the affairs of the country.

1. 'National Security' – the ghost which keeps givingSoon after a military dictatorship ends, the awaam is wary of the khakhis and questions are asked about the future. In the past, uncertainty was rampant after General Ayub’s stint in the '60s, which became beneficial to the democratic setup post-1971. After General Zia-ul-Haq’s death in the late '80s, people rushed to the polling stations to usher in the Pakistan Peoples Party back to power. In 2007-'08, the popular uprising against Musharraf turned the tide on the military’s image, and the PPP came to power once again in the wake of Benazir’s untimely death.

Damaging images, however, do not last forever. As evidence suggests, us Pakistanis are an incredibly forgiving and forgetful lot. When the infamous spectre of national security is portrayed as indispensable, the masses waste no time in buying it.

That is traditionally achieved through (a) blaming everything on hostile neighbours, and/or (b) threats to internal security. A combination of the two keeps elected governments on teeters while providing much-needed room to the dictators.

2. Presence of administrative vacuumsWestern intellectuals have cried themselves hoarse over the need to limit the expansionist state’s influence in administration at the grassroots. But in a country like Pakistan, you need not worry about that.

Indeed, some experts maintain that in developing countries, authority first has to be created in order to be limited later on, since the sheer volume of what is expected of the state practically dictates ad-hoc decision-making. Calls for long-term, structural reform, are paid no heed. And the voters respond solely to the valiant, selfless kings who descend from their thrones to provide instant gratification once in a while, only to speedily return to their abodes.

Thus, vast administrative vacuums continue to exist in Pakistan, where everyone is left at the mercy of the nefarious forces. Disasters, both natural and man-made, highlight the inadequacies within our civilian setups quite frequently, and we keep depending on the good work done by the military in times of emergencies.

3. Civil-military connivancesAdministrative woes are compounded further by even more dreadful instability in the political arena. Hapless politicians scurry about in vain, trying to bring some order and method to a madness that they partly created themselves. Understandably, they are concerned about re-election, but we seem to be stuck with a particularly bad lot that has completely forsaken the very electorate which brings them to power.

Perhaps, building on our spirit of forgiveness, politicians prey on opportunities that stand to enhance solely their personal gains. After all, there is a reason why the richest people in Pakistan are either directly involved with politics or are aligned with one political party or another.

Instability has also been engineered through covert means, so that a state of perpetual chaos – and with it the need for an antidote to this chaos – can be maintained. Thanks to the sorry performance of our elected leaders, there is always ample ammo available for this exercise.

While the army is accused of using political parties in setting their own agendas, our politicians are more than willing to align themselves with anti-democratic forces at the first hint of lucrative benefits. Sham rebellions have been a regular occurrence in the years before coups, as was the case with the anti-Bhutto movement in the '70s, and the anti-Nawaz/Benazir movements throughout the '90s. The method is simple: manufacture instability, then step in to remove it.

4. The dream of how things could be...With the above measures, the public perception of the army can be successfully rescued at any time. Even after populist movements oust dictators, after some time, people start to see the army as a national asset once again, and swear by its performance in keeping Pakistan safe from domestic and foreign threats.

But factors one, two, and three are not enough to push the public into supporting a military takeover. So how do we go from a democratic here to an authoritarian there? Read on.

As Hannibal muses in Silence of the Lambs, it is in the nature of humans to covet. And how do we start to covet? We begin by coveting what we see every day, seeking out the things we want.

The army’s unmatched performance in one area gets people wondering what the entire Pakistan run by the military would look like.

More often than not, the shoddy performance of our politicians and political parties paves way for the security establishment to quietly slip a few measures here and there to suggest what could be done to take care of the situation. Since mending the situation would mean taking tough decisions (which Pakistani politicians loathe with a vengeance), the public automatically assumes that only the military could really clean the country up. In turbulent times, the politicians and the administrators stutter and stumble, and the dominoes fall where they shall.

* General Ayub, in collusion with President Sikandar Mirza, pulled it off in 1958 when the despicable governance in all provinces was deemed cause enough to step up.
* Twenty years later, alleged rigging in the ’77 elections by the PPP became a sore point with the Pakistan National Alliance and General Zia took over.
* Nawaz Sharif’s corruption, among other accusations, was presented to the public to accept another coup in 1999.

As Dr Kennedy pointed out himself, though, the real test of how successful a potential overthrow campaign is running is how readily the public is able to accept a changeover at the top.

Conclusion: A little responsibility can throw off these patterns

I'm not claiming that Pakistan will necessarily see another military takeover. We have come to the brink of coups in the past without going over the edge, when saner minds prevailed and democracy was allowed to trudge along for a little while longer. And even today, while there's certainly an imbalance in the civil-military relations, both parties do seem to have found ways to safely coexist for the time being, especially since the imperatives of a militant threat have readjusted priorities.

However, the point being made is that if conditions are conducive, and some or all of the factors outlined above are present, the opportunity to go about an actual coup soon presents itself.

This last step is understandably the trickiest of all, and requires a lot of value judgment and assessment. Has the public been plied enough? Will the civilians go quietly? Can the administrative mess be handled?

Additionally, not only the timing but also the actual method of the takeover has to be deliberated. Interestingly, this last step, while being stressful to no end, also allows for the most amount of personal flair in how one goes about their coupmaking.

In this way then, impatience with stuttering democracies run by greedy elites has led – and will lead – to hostile takeovers by the willing. There are always deficiencies within our governance systems that prompt debugging exercises from the more powerful institutions in the country. A little bit of transparency, accountability, and responsibility in democratic governance can go a long way in stabilising the country and protecting against the possibility of total loss of democratic control followed by military takeovers.

Pakistan's Long War on the Media

The International Federation of Journalists ranked Pakistan as the most dangerous country in the world for the news media in 2014. Amnesty International says 34 journalists were killed in Pakistan between 2008 and 2014. Despite promises of stronger protections from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, attacks continue. Within a single 24-hour period last week, there were three separate attacks on journalists and media workers that left two dead and two others injured. An attack in Karachi on a Geo television news van killed Arshad Ali Jaffery, a satellite engineer, and wounded the driver. Hours later, in the same city, gunmen killed Aftab Alam, a journalist who had previously worked for Geo News. In Peshawar, a journalist working for the state broadcaster PTV was shot by an unknown gunman.
Since democracy was restored in 2008, Pakistan’s news media has been bolder about exposing corruption and human rights abuses by the military and national security apparatus, which in turn have come down hard on the media. Authorities threatened to shut down Geo News after the station accused the country’s powerful spy agency, the ISI, of masterminding the attempted murder of its star newscaster Hamid Mir in 2014. Militant groups, including the Pakistani Taliban, also target journalists. Many Pakistani journalists admit they censor themselves for fear of losing their jobs — or their lives.
Last week’s attacks came on the heels of a new code of conduct issued by regulators that imposes limits on broadcast coverage of hostage standoffs and terrorist attacks and attempts to control what can be said during television talk shows. Mr. Sharif blamed “terrorists” for the attacks and promised that efforts underway to rid Karachi of criminal and militant groups would, “within the next two years,” make the city, and presumably journalists, safer.
He can do better. Two years is a long time to wait, and besides, terrorists are not the only forces threatening freedom of the press in Pakistan. Mr. Sharif’s promises to protect journalists will ring hollow until there is a credible investigation of Pakistan’s military and security agencies, and those responsible for abuses and threats against journalists are held accountable. The new code of conduct for broadcast journalists should be scrapped, or redrafted by the journalists themselves.

یوې افغان کډوالې ښوونکې ته جهاني جایزه ورکړل شوه

پاکستان کې د افغان کډوالو جینکو تعلیم لپاره کارکونکې پنځوس کلنې افغان استادې عقیله آصیفي ته د تعلیمي هلوځلو په ترڅ کې نینسن ریفیوجي ایوارډ ورکړې شوې دې.
عقیله آصیفي وړومبې افغان کډواله ده چا ته چې کډوالو نړیوالې ادارې یو این ایچ سي ار لخوا دا ایوارډ ورکړې شو.
کال کې یو ځل نینسن ریفیوجي جایزه هغه کډوالو ته ورکړې کیږي چا چي په خپله شعبه کې غیر معمولي کار کړې وي.
عقیله آصیفي چې د پاکستان پنجاب صوبې د میانوالي کې په یو کیمپ کې د کال ۱۹۹۲ راهیسي ژوند کوي ، افغان کډوالو جینکو لپاره یې د یو خیمې نه سکول شروع کړې وو.
د نوموړې په وینا چې د کډوالې ژوند شروع کیدو سره یې ذهن ته دا خیال راغلو چې ولې نه جینکو لپاره تعلیمي هلې ځلې پکار دې او هم دې سوچ له وجې دې خپلې کورنې ، د کیمپ مشرانو او د کلې يو ملک په مرسته د جینکو سکول شروع کړو.
نینسن ریفیوجي ایوارډ ترلاسه کولو په اړه اغلې عقیله آصیفي مشال راډیو سره په خبرو کې وویل ،، زه د ښځې د طبقې څخه یم او دا خوشالي د ټولو ښځو لپاره ده. ښځې کولې شي چې د ټولې نړې په سطح ایوارډ حاصل کړې. بل دا چې زه یو استاده یم او د جینکو د تعلیم لپاره مې درویشت کاله خدمت کړې دې او زما د خدمت په نتیجه کې یې دا ایوارډ راکړو نو زه پخپله دې کامیابې باندې ډیره خوشاله یم،،
د اغلې آصیفي سکول اوس د یو خیمې نه د سکول په ودانې کې بدل شوې دې چې پکې نوموړې د زرو نه زیات جینکو ته د اتم ټولګي پورې زده کړې ورکړې دي.
په راوران وخت کې د تعلیم په اړه عقیله آصیفي څه پلان لري؟
دا وایې ،، مخکې دا پلان لرم چې ما کوم تدریسي پلان جوړ کړې دې او دا پلان په منظم طریقه چلیږي نو زه غواړم چې هغه افغان کډوال کوم چې افغانستان ته واپس تللې دي زه د هغې لپاره خپل دا تدریسي پروګرام شروع کړم او د تعلیم دا سلسله جاري اوساتم،،
د نوموړې په وینا چې ډیر ذده کونکې یې د افغانستان په مختلفو شعبو کې کار کوي چې ځنې پکې ډاکټران هم دي.
پاکستان کې د کډوالو نړیوالې ادارې ویانده دنیا اسلم خان وایې چې د یو این ایچ سي ار دا جایزه د نوبیل جایزې حیثیت لري او موږ خوشاله یو چې دې ځل دا یو افغان کډوالې ته ورکړې شوه.
زا زیاتوي ،، کله چې د شام مسله شروع شوه نو خلکو افغاسنتان او افغان کډوال بیخې هیر کړل نو د دې ایوارډ په ذریعه موږ ته یو پلیټ فارم ملاو شو چې اوس هم د افغانستان هاغه خلک چې بې کوره دي او شمیر یې په پاکستان او ایران کې د دوه ملینو نه زیات دې هغې ته اوس هم د نړیوالې ورورولې د مرستې او فنډونو ضرورت دې. او په خاص توګه د د فنډونو ضرورت د تعلیم په شعبه کې ډیر دې ځکه چې اوس هم اتیه فیصده ماشومان یې د سکولونو نه بهر دي،،
استادې عقیله آصیفي په وینا که موږ سره میندې تعلیم یافته وي، په یقیني توګه زموږ راروان کول به تعلیم یافته وي نو که موږ جینکو ته تعلیم ورکوو نو د دې مطلب دا شو چې موږ راران نسل ته تعلیم ورکوو.

Believe it or not persecution is real: Church leader asserts Christians being persecuted in Pakistan while government denies

Increasing violence against Christians sparks massive exodus of Christians from Pakistan.
There has long been a debate over the authenticity of the persecution of Christians in Pakistan. Various NGO’s, Christian leaders, activists, lawyers and others claim that there has been a sharp rise in the anti-Christian violence against Pakistan’s Christians.
An eminent Pakistani Christian leader, Bishop Alexander John Malik stated that consequent to persecution on religious grounds, more than 100,000 of Pakistani Christians opted to flee to U.N. refugee camps in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and the Philippines in the past several years.
It has been established by several credible reports, accounts and narratives that Pakistani Christians actually face discrimination and maltreatment at the hands of the state and Muslim citizens of Pakistan. Accusations of blasphemy have become a custom resulting in anti-Christian attacks or imprisonments. As observed in several cases, Christians’ homes and churches were reduced to ashes as an aftermath of blasphemy accusations. This is not all, Christian girls are abducted and forced to convert to Islam, then forcibly married, reports reveal.
“Christians, along with other religious minorities, find it nearly impossible to get justice from the state when they are harassed or discriminated against,” Bishop Malik said.
It is however, not at all difficult for those having sufficient resources to flee to other Asian countries. Bishop Malik asserted, “People get entry visas at the airports of Sri Lanka and Philippines. To acquire Thai and Malaysian visas isn’t difficult. Moreover, travelling is also not very expensive.”
Kashif Nawab, Former U.N. observer in Pakistan for minorities states that Christians make the third-largest religious community in Pakistan, following Muslims and Hindus. Whereas, they are second-largest in Punjab after Muslims, he revealed.
“There are more than 6 million Christians in Pakistan. Most of them have been extremely vulnerable to allegations of blasphemy. Now, people of this community are seeking sanctuary in U.N. refugee camps after selling their possessions for whatever they can get to leave as soon as possible,” Nawab said.
On the other hand, Pakistan’s State Minister for religious affairs, Muhammad Amin-ul Hasnat Shah, cites mass relocation of Pakistani Christians as an episode of a bigger crisis which will be affecting all Pakistanis.
“It isn’t the first time that minorities are trying to settle down abroad. Muslims who think of insecurity in Pakistan are also trying to acquire immigration in any developed country. The government is trying to resolve security concerns for all citizens, while we can’t force anybody to stay in the country.”

- See more at: http://www.christiansinpakistan.com/believe-it-or-not-persecution-is-real-church-leader-asserts-christians-being-persecuted-in-pakistan-while-government-denies/#sthash.XIqzZvqj.dpuf