Friday, October 2, 2015

Music Video - Eminem - The Monster (Explicit) ft. Rihanna

Video - Migrants rush to Europe before weather deteriorates


Ali al-Nimr was given the death penalty in May after taking part in demonstrations three years ago for democracy and equal rights in Saudi Arabia's oil-producing Eastern Province.
"Any judgment imposing the death penalty upon persons who were children at the time of the offense, and their execution, are incompatible with Saudi Arabia's international obligations," the U.N. group said in a statement Tuesday, invoking the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Saudi Arabia is a party.
France said it was "concerned" about the situation.
"Opposed to the death penalty in all cases and circumstances, we call for the execution to be called off," Foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said.
France does not usually comment on death penalty cases in Saudi Arabia due to their frequency. It has nurtured strong relations with Riyadh Wahhabi due to its tough stance on the Shia Muslims.
Nimr was convicted of sedition, rioting, protesting and robbery in the Eastern Province district of Qatif, home to many of the Wahhabi-ruled kingdom's minority Shia, who say they face entrenched discrimination.
Nimr, who activists said was 17 at the time of his arrest in 2012, was also convicted of chanting anti-state slogans in illegal protests and inciting others to demonstrate, according to state media.
"Saudi Arabia's plans to behead and crucify someone arrested as a child are indefensible," said Donald Campbell, spokesman for international human rights charity Reprieve.
"The international community – particularly Saudi Arabia's close allies, the UK and the U.S. – must stand with the French government and U.N. experts against this outrage, and call on the Saudi authorities to put a halt to this unjustified killing."
The conviction of Nimr, a nephew of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shia cleric who is also on trial, followed that of Rida al-Rubh, 26, the son of another cleric who has been critical of the authorities.
The clerics are part of a group of around a dozen defendants on trial for their part in protests and violent unrest in Qatif, particularly in the village of Awamiya, where police officers and facilities have been attacked.

New UK Opposition Leader Scolds Saudi Arabia, Bahrain

The new leader of Britain's opposition Labor Party criticized Saudi Arabia and Bahrain for repressing their own citizens and called on Prime Minister David Cameron to stop his "uncritical support" for such countries.

Jeremy Corbyn, Labor leader praised the nuclear deal with Iran and cautioned that the crisis in Syria could not be solved with "a few more bombs".
Corbyn particularly singled out Saudi Arabia for criticism.
"Nor does it help our national security to give such fawning and uncritical support to regimes, I mention only two but there are many I could mention such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain," Corbyn told Labour supporters in Brighton on Tuesday, Reuters reported.
He said the kingdoms of Saudi and Bahrain "abuse their own citizens and repress democratic rights" and that British weapons were being used "on the assault on Yemen".
Corbyn, who has in the past met with representatives of Palestinian resistance movement Hamas and Lebanese  group Hezbollah, called on Cameron to raise the case of Ali al-Nimr who was given the death penalty after taking part in demonstrations in Saudi Arabia's oil-producing Eastern Province.
Corbyn also said he opposed renewing spending 100 billion pounds on renewing Britain's nuclear deterrent. He also said he wanted a new United Nations Security Council resolution on Syria.

Saudi war in Yemen impossible to win

Madawi Al-Rasheed

The Saudi war in Yemen is increasingly becoming an impossible war to win. With the death toll of Yemeni citizens reaching thousands and the near devastation of the country, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir can only write off the rising body count as casualties of war while assuring his audiences that Saudi weapons are precise in reaching their targets.
The Saudi military intervention may have reached a dead end six months after it started, despite announced victories in Aden and other southern Yemeni territories. The brief return of exiled Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to Aden in September on a Saudi airplane was meant to mark a symbolic Saudi momentary victory rather than an important turn signaling an undisputed positive outcome. The Saudi war on Yemen is not an inevitable war of self-defense forced on the leadership by Houthi expansion inside Saudi Arabia and undermining Saudi national security. Instead, it was a pre-emptive strike to inaugurate an aggressive Saudi regional foreign policy.
Civilian casualties are very high on the Yemeni side, while the Arab Coalition forces, mainly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), are just beginning to experience the high human cost of war. In Saudi Arabia, the war claimed the lives of military personnel on the Saudi-Yemen border following retaliatory shelling by the Houthis and attacks inside Yemen. The war is bound to raise questions about the ability of Saudi Arabia to eliminate the Houthis and the influence of their backers on the Arabian Peninsula, namely Iran. Rather than undermining those pledges, Saudi fatalities have become part of the government’s nationalistic propaganda that the pre-emptive strike was necessary to avoid such outcomes. The war has led to what the Saudi leadership actually warned against in justifying it, even before the Houthis attacked Saudi territories. However, instead of a swift victory in Yemen, Saudis are now being killed inside their own country while their troops inside Yemen have been targeted in devastating attacks, such as the one in Marib in early September, when 10 Saudi soldiers were killed.
Victory in a regional war fought by airstrikes under a vague coalition, a limited number of ground troops from several countries and local Yemeni militias do not seem to be on the immediate horizon. The international military coalition the Saudis hoped for turned out to be only a mini-consortium of countries willing to participate. The Saudi war turned into a Saudi-Emirati alliance with other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries reluctantly supporting it. Oman was the only GCC country refusing to take part in the bombing. Qatar and Kuwait expressed support with only the former contributing ground troops. In addition to the UAE's very active role, Bahrain wholeheartedly backed Saudi leadership as the war narrative against Iran fits very well with the Bahraini regime’s objective of dubbing its own uprising as an Iranian conspiracy.
It seems premature to announce a Saudi victory, considering that the official immediate objective of the war is to free the city of Sanaa from Houthi control and restore Hadi to the presidential palace. The Saudis are perhaps unclear about the post-war future of Yemeni politics should they reclaim Sanaa from the Houthis. They can only hope to install a loyal Yemeni government with the ability to keep the Houthis under control, especially in the northern parts of Yemen.
The worst-case scenario for Saudi Arabia is perhaps the possibility of the war turning into a prolonged military engagement that may perpetuate a long Yemeni civil war, backed by selected regional and international players, alongside the one that has been raging in Syria since 2011. This will no doubt drain Saudi resources and undermine the domestic objectives of the war, namely the consolidation of King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud’s monarchy, the projection of military might, the appeasement of jihadis and Islamists, and the consolidation of a Saudi militarized religious nationalism.
A prolonged war risks damaging the Saudi leadership and unleashing domestic dissidence if the number of Saudi casualties increases. The forces that had supported the war inside the country, such as the Islamists, may lose their patience and return to opposition politics. They may start seeking rewards from the Saudi leadership in return for their enthusiasm for the war and their support for Salman. The king can come under pressure to honor this support with concessions of some kind.
The semblance of Saudi victory in Yemen may also come with al-Qaeda or Islamic State (IS) gains; both may consolidate their control over parts of Yemen. It is not clear how the Saudi leadership will deal with militants gaining control of parts of Yemen. There is also no announced plan for reconstruction and power-sharing in a country that has been characterized by a strong society and weak state. Despite Yemen’s poverty, multiple forces have always challenged the state and curbed its ability to rule over vast territories.
A second scenario that is more likely if the war continues is turning the current de facto partition of Yemen into a permanent de jure arrangement. The divisions in Yemen will not be along the north-south lines as it used to be, but between multiple players, each of which controls specific territories. These will include the forces of the Houthis, deposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh, exiled President Hadi, the southern separatists, al-Qaeda and IS. Many of these forces will seek foreign patrons to consolidate territorial gains. Those seeking Saudi patronage without clear and imminent victories on the horizon will drain the country and its resources or switch allegiance to a competing external power — a not-uncommon strategy in Yemen. Deposed President Saleh, who is now fighting against the Saudis, had been a loyal ally of Saudi Arabia for decades before he switched allegiance and became a Houthi supporter. The shifting alliances of Yemeni domestic politics will no doubt become troublesome should the war last longer.
A final, more lasting, but unlikely, outcome of this war in the short term would be a unified, federal Yemen in which peace is restored and power-sharing is achieved. The complexity of the Yemeni situation and multiplicity of political actors, coupled with the polarization and sectarianism in the Arab world, will exhaust the Saudi leadership’s ability to forge a quick and acceptable resolution in Yemen. It is unlikely that Salman will be able to orchestrate an agreement such as the one that ended 17 years of civil war in Lebanon under what became known as the Taif Agreement.
As the Saudi regime is now fully entrenched in domestic and complex Yemeni politics, it may find that its own war objectives do not actually result in a stable Yemen on its southern borders. The war looks like it is going to be a long adventure, leading possibly to nothing but more destruction.

Obama says he won't sign another stopgap spending measure from Congress

President Obama said Friday that he won’t sign another stopgap funding bill to keep the federal government running, and instead called on Congress to join him in forging a longer-term deal.
“I will not sign another shortsighted spending bill like the one Congress sent me this week,” Obama said during an afternoon news conference at the White House.
“This is not the way the United States should be operating,” he said. “Congress has to do its job, it can't flirt with another shutdown and should pass a serious budget.”
The pledge comes just two days after Obama signed a continuing resolution that will fund the government through Dec. 11, heading off a shutdown.

But Obama called that a “gimmick” that only sets up another potential crisis. The White House wants a more permanent agreement, particularly because the short-term funding deals keep in place a series of dramatic spending limits.
More important, aides to the president say, Obama views the perennial uncertainty and the last-minute rush to a deal as bad for the U.S.
Congressional leaders also want a longer-term agreement and opened staff-level talks with the White House this week on a possible two-year spending plan.
But Obama and his fellow Democrats differ from Republicans on budget priorities, with Democrats seeking as much as $74 billion in increased spending on education, infrastructure and other domestic and defense needs, while Republicans want about half as much only for the military.
“We cannot cut our way to prosperity,” Obama said.
The talks took on new urgency with the announced resignation of Republican House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and the coming Nov. 5 deadline to raise the nation’s debt limit or risk a federal credit default.
In announcing his plans last week to step down Oct. 31, Boehner said he wants to make deals on several issues before handing off to his successor, widely expected to be House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield.
Among them could be approval of highway funds as well a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, the 80-year-old lending institution that conservatives are trying to shut down as an example of what they call crony capitalism.
Aides to the president say the overall spending plan tops Obama’s priorities in negotiations with Boehner. On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that cybersecurity legislation and the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank were other top economic priorities for the president in the near term.

#UCCShooting - Jeb Bush Is Criticized for Saying ‘Stuff Happens’ in Reaction to Shootings

By Jonathan Martin and Matt Flegenheimer

Jeb Bush invited a firestorm on Friday by saying that “stuff happens” in reference to renewed calls for legislative action after tragedies like the mass shooting in Oregon.
“I had this challenge as governor because we had — look, stuff happens,” he said at a forum in South Carolina. “There’s always a crisis and the impulse is always to do something, and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”
The inelegant phrase immediately set off a wave of criticism from observers suggesting he was playing down the scourge of gun violence and the tragedy on Thursday, in which a gunman killed nine people at a community college in Roseburg, Ore.
Mr Bush, taking questions from the state’s attorney general, Alan Wilson, was speaking about a pattern of proposing legislative responses that he said did not halt the tragedies they were meant to stop.
Asked afterward about the “stuff happens” comment, Mr. Bush said, “it wasn’t a mistake,” and requested that a reporter point out “what I said wrong.”
“Things happen all the time,” Mr. Bush said. “Things. Is that better?”
Asked what he meant, Mr. Bush said he was talking more generally about the tendency to pass laws in response to tragic events.
“Tragedies,” he said. “A child drowned in a pool and the impulse is to pass a law that puts fencing around pools. Well it may not change it. Or you have a car accident and the impulse is to pass a law that deals with that unique event. And the cumulative effect of this is, in some cases, you don’t solve the problem by passing the law, and you’re imposing on large numbers of people burdens that make it harder for our economy to grow, make it harder to protect liberty.”
Mr. Bush said he was not referring specifically to Oregon when he said “stuff happens.”
At the forum at Furman University in Greenville, S.C., Mr. Bush boasted of his pro-gun record as Florida governor, recalling awards he received from the National Rifle Association and noting that he once received a gun from the group’s former president, Charlton Heston.
At a news conference in Washington, President Obama was asked to respond to Mr. Bush’s comments after being read a small portion of them.
“I don’t even think I have to react to that one,” Mr. Obama said, adding, “The American people should hear that.”
A spokeswoman for Mr. Bush, Allie Brandenburger, said in an email that Mr. Bush’s critics were “taking shameless advantage of a horrific tragedy.”
“It is sad and beyond craven that liberal Democrats, aided and abetted by some in the national media, would dishonestly take Governor Bush’s comments out of context in a cheap attempt to advance their political agenda in the wake of a tragedy,” she said.

Video - President Obama Offers a Personnel Announcement on Secretary Arne Duncan

Obama: Gun politics ‘has to change’

By Amie Parnes 

President Obama said on Friday he plans to keep talking about gun control and “will politicize” the issue for the remainder of his time in office.
“The politics has to change,” Obama told reporters at a press conference at the White House, one day after nine people were shot by a lone gunman at an Oregon community college. 
Obama said he has asked his team to “scrub” what kind of authority and additional actions his administration can take to “prevent even a handful of these tragic deaths from taking place.” 
But the president conceded that he is up against the strength of gun rights supporters led by the National Rifle Association, who he argued “know how to stir up fear.”
“They know how to stir up the base. They know how to scare politicians,” he said.
During the news conference, Obama was also asked about comments Friday from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is running for the Oval Office next year, when he surmised that “stuff happens” and that more government isn't necessarily the solution to mass shootings. 
“I don’t even think I have to react to that,” the president said. “I think the American people should hear that and make their own judgment based on the fact that every couple of months we have a mass shooting. And, in terms of — they can decide whether they consider that ‘stuff happens.’”
Bush made the remark in question at the Conservative Leadership Project in South Carolina on Friday.
“We’re in a difficult time in our country, and I don’t think more government is necessarily the answer to this,” Bush said. “I think we need to reconnect ourselves with everybody else, it’s very sad to see. But I resist the notion — and I had this challenge as governor, because, look, stuff happens, there’s always a crisis, and the impulse is always to do something, and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”
Obama's press conference comes a day after he delivered blistering remarks about gun control. On Friday Obama pledged to keep bringing the issue to the surface in the “hope that I'm changing enough minds.”
“I don't think that's going to happen overnight,” he said. 

Video Report - Guns in the US

Video Report - These are the Russian Sukhoi jets that combat ISIS

Too Scared to Pray? ISIL terrorists Cancels Prayers for Fear of Russian Airstrikes

The Islamic State terror group cancelled Friday prayers in the Syrian city of Raqqa and emptied mosques there out of fear of further Russian airstrikes, according to activists and city residents.

According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 12 Islamic State militants were killed Thursday in Russia’s first airstrikes carried out in the group's de facto capital in Syria.

"Last night, Russian strikes on the western edges of Raqqa city, and near the Tabqa military airport, killed 12 IS jihadists," Abdel Rahman, head of the observatory, told AFP.

He said residents were staying indoors, and IS "has started to implement a plan to turn off electricity in a number of areas of the city when planes are overhead."

A Russian airstrike on Thursday on also destroyed a mosque in the town of Jisr al-Shughour, which was captured from government forces by an alliance of Islamist insurgents earlier this year, activists said.
On Friday, Moscow said its latest strikes had hit 12 Islamic State targets, mostly in western and northern parts of the country.

The Russian Defense Ministry said warplanes had flown 18 sorties hitting targets that included a command post and a communications center in the province of Aleppo, a militant field camp in Idlib and a command post in Hama.

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6 Russian air strikes destroy ISIS bomb factory, command centers – Defense Ministry

Russian jets have performed 14 combats flights, conducting six pinpoint airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on Friday, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry.
“During the day, the Russian aviation group continued conducting pinpoint airstrikes against the infrastructure of the IS group in Syria,” Defense Ministry spokesman, Igor Konashenkov, said.
“Su-34, Su-24-M and Su-25 planes performed 14 flights from Hmaimim air base, during which six airstrikes against IS targets were conducted,” he added.
In the town of Maarrat Al-Nuuman in Idlib province, an Su-25 attack aircraft completely brought down a large terrorist workshop, which was producing bombs and improvised explosive devices.
A nearby IS base, hosting weaponry and military vehicles was also targeted, with ten pieces of military hardware, including several APCs, was eliminated, the ministry said.

В течение дня 2 октября российская авиационная группировка продолжила нанесение точечных авиационных ударов по объектам террористической группировки ИГИЛ на территории Сирии.С авиабазы «Хмеймим» совершено 14 вылетов самолетов Су-34, Су-24М и Су-25, в ходе которых было нанесено 6 ударов по объектам террористической группировки ИГИЛ.Штурмовиками Су-25 в районе МААРЕТ-ЭН-НУУМАН, провинция ИДЛИБ, полностью разрушен замаскированный под завод газовых баллонов крупный цех по производству фугасов и самодельных взрывных устройств.Также уничтожена располагавшаяся рядом база вооружений и военной техники террористов. В результате удара сгорело более десяти единиц техники, среди которых — боевые машины пехоты.В районе ЭЛЬ-ЛАТАМНА, провинция ХАМА, бомбардировщиками Су-34 с корректируемыми авиабомбами нанесен удар по заглубленному командному пункту боевиков. По данным объективного контроля, прямым попаданием авиабомбы пункт управления и его наземная инфраструктура полностью уничтожены.В этом же районе самолетами Су-25 нанесены удары по двум бункерам, в которых располагались пункты управления формированиями боевиков и склады террористов. В результате попадания на одном из объектов сдетонировали боеприпасы, полностью уничтожившие данный объект.В районе ХАН-ШЕЙХУН, провинция ИДЛИБ, точечными ударами бомбардировщиков Су-24М и штурмовиков Су-25 разрушен пункт управления вооруженных формирований ИГИЛ.Точность наведения на цели самолетов российской авиационной группировки в Сирии достигалась их применением в едином разведывательно-ударном комплексе.#Сирия #Syria #ISIS #ИГИЛ #ВКС #ВВС #AerospaceForces #AirForce #Хмеймим #Hmeymim #СводкаOn October 2, in the course of the day, the Russian air grouping continued making pinpoint strikes at the “Islamic State” international terrorist grouping. Su-34, Su-24M and Su-25 aircraft carried out 14 sorties from the Hmeymim air base attacking 6 ISIS objects.At Maarrat Al-Nuuman (Idlib), Su-25 attack aircraft completely destroyed a large workshop aimed for production of bombs and improvised explosive devices and disguised as a plant for gas cylinders.Terrorist base for armament and military equipment was also eliminated. As a result of an air strike, over ten pieces of military hardware including infantry fighting vehicles were burnt down.In Al-Latamna district (Hamah), Su-34 bombers equipped with guided air bombs blew up a militants’ underground HQ. The command centre and its ground facilities are destroyed according to the objective monitoring data. Moreover, Su-25 aircraft engaged two bunkers at the same district. There were situated command centres of militant units and depots of terrorists. Munitions of one of the depots detonated and caused their total destruction. At the Hann Sayhun district (Idlib), pinpoint strikes of Su-24M and Su-25 attack aircraft eliminated a command centre of the ISIS armed groupings.The targeting accuracy of the Russian air grouping in Syria was achieved by usage of aircraft within the reconnaissance-strike complex.

Posted by Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation on Friday, October 2, 2015
A terrorist command center was destroyed by Su-24-M and Su-25 attack aircrafts near the town of Khan Shaykhun in Idlib province. In the Al-Latamna district of Hama Governorate, guided air bombs delivered from Su-34 bombers blew up a militant’s underground HQ, the Defense Ministry said. Su-25 aircraft also targeted two bunkers in the same area which had been hosting Islamic State command centers and arm depots. According to the ministry, munitions at one of the depots detonated and caused a total destruction of the bunkers.
“The targeting accuracy of the Russian air grouping in Syria was achieved by the usage of aircraft within the reconnaissance-strike complex,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement. On Thursday, the Defense Ministry had to address concerns sounded by the Western politicians and media that Russian bombardment actually targeted democratic Syrian opposition forces, instead of IS, and led to civilian casualties. READ MORE: RT EXCLUSIVE: First look at Russian airbase in Latakia, centerpiece of anti-ISIS operations (VIDEO) The ministry stressed that it’s after IS in Syria, adding that all airstrikes are based on accurate intelligence data and take place away from residential areas. Russian aviation has been carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State and other terrorist groups in Syria since Wednesday. READ MORE: Sukhoi warplanes used by Russia in Syria anti-terror op (PHOTOS) The operation performed at the request of Syrian President, Bashar Assad, is designed to provide air support to the government troops, which is struggling to contain the spread of jihadist militants in the war-torn country. As he was explaining Moscow’s decision to get involved in Syria, Vladimir Putin said that radicals from many countries, including Russia, have flocked to Iraq and Syria to join the terrorist group. They must be defeated so that they do not return home with battle experience and ideology adopted in the war zone, the Russian president stressed.

Urdu Music Video - Champa aur Chambeli, yeh Kalian neyi naveli..

Unemployment Rate Spikes in Afghanistan

The unemployment rate has peaked to 40 percent in Afghanistan, showing a 15 percent increase as compared to the same time last year, officials said Friday.

According to Central Statistics Organization (CSO), the unemployment figure for 2015 was only 25 percent.

Insecurity, lack of jobs in government and the private sector organizations and a downturn of industries are the main factors behind growing unemployment, CSO officials said.

"Those who had jobs are now unemployed and at the same time no new jobs were created," deputy CSO Chief Haseebullah Muahid said. "Unemployment has had a rapid growth and it rose by about 15 percent."

In addition, the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) officials also agreed with SCO statements and admitted that numerous factory workers are jobless.

According to ACCI, several skilled workers are also unemployed due to economic issues facing factories at industrial parks.

"Lack of development projects has resulted in increased unemployment," ACCI executive chief Atiqullah Nasrat said.

Based on the figures provided by the ministry of labor and social affairs, over 1.8 million eligible workers are unemployed in Afghanistan.

This comes as thousands of Afghans are reportedly fleeing the country due to what they believe is lack of jobs and security.

This has caused a huge refugee crisis across Europe as daily thousands of immigrants, most of them from Syria and Afghanistan, are illegally entering European countries in a bid to find jobs and a peaceful life.

Pakistan - Stop the music: Taliban pamphlet spreads panic in FR Peshawar

A pamphlet—suspected to have been issued by militants—asking locals to stop playing music was seen in parts of Frontier Region (FR) Peshawar during Eidul Azha. This development, though initially taken as a prank, created some panic among residents.
Talking to The Express Tribune, an elder said the pamphlet appeared in Bazargai area in Hassan Khel and other
parts of the semi-autonomous region. “It was handwritten in Urdu,” he said, adding “Tehreek-e-Taliban” was inscribed on the header and footer of the paper. “Stop playing music as it is unIslamic,” was written on it, according to the elder.
“Initially, we thought it was a hoax when it appeared in Bazargai. However, the same pamphlet was also pasted on the walls of Zayri and other parts of Hassan Khel,” he explained. He believed this indicated that militants were present in the area once again.
Until recently, FR Peshawar was considered a hub of militancy, but it was cleared after a number of operations.
“After the Badhaber PAF basecamp attack, it is no longer a secret that militants are present in the area and this panicked our people,” said another local. A khasadar official said the force had been informed about the pamphlets, which had been removed by the time they reached the sites. He added it was impossible for militants to stage a comeback in FR Peshawar; especially with a strong presence of security forces in adjacent areas.

International media claims 236 Pakistanis dead in Hajj stampede

Reverberations from the hajj disaster that killed at least 717 pilgrims in Mecca were felt across the Middle East and beyond as Iran blamed its rival Saudi Arabiafor fatally mis-managing the most important event in the Muslim calendar.
Pilgrims from Indonesia, Kenya, Pakistan, Senegal and Mali were reported to be among the dead and an estimated 850 who were injured during the symbolic stoning of the devil at Mina on Thursday. It was the worst tragedy during the hajj in 25 years and the second deadly accident affecting Mecca this month, after acrane collapse in the holy city killed more than 100.
The incident immediately fuelled tensions between the powerhouse of the Sunni world, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, where thousands of Shia worshippers emerged from Friday prayers in Tehran carrying black banners and chanting anti-Saudi slogans as questions grew about Saudi competence and organisation.
King Salman of Saudi Arabia quickly ordered an urgent safety review into the causes of the crush, to be chaired by the crown prince, Mohammed bin Nayef. After pressure from other Muslim countries, Salman admitted there was a need to improve the level of organisation and management of movement of pilgrims.
The death tolls given by foreign officials and international media so far are: Pakistan, 236; Iran, 131; Morocco, 87; India, 14; Egypt, 14; Somalia, 8; Senegal, 5; Tanzania, 4; Turkey, 4; Algeria, 3; Kenya, 3; Indonesia, 3; Burundi, 1; and Netherlands, 1. Iran’s national hajj organisation said 60 Iranian nationals were also injured.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, blamed the Saudi government for the disaster. He said: “The Saudi government should accept its responsibility in this bitter incident. We should not overlook that mismanagement and inappropriate conducts caused this disaster.”
Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, said in New York that the hajj disaster may have happened because the Saudis had transferred experienced troops to Yemen, where the conservative kingdom is fighting Houthi rebels who are supported by the Islamic Republic.
The Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, who leads the world’s most populous Muslim nation, said: “There must be improvements in the management of the hajj so that this incident is not repeated.”
There was criticism of statements by some Saudi government ministers. The emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, head of the Nigerian delegation in Mecca, saidSaudi Arabia was wrong to blame the pilgrims. “We are urging the Saudi authorities not to apportion blame for not obeying instructions, they should instead look into the issues of this disaster,” he told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme.
Iran’s attack on Saudi Arabia was met by angry responses on Arab social media. A UAE cartoonist depicted an Ayatollah Khamenei figure stabbing King Salman in the back. And Saudi Twitter users set up an Arabic hashtag complaining of an Iranian “conspiracy to light the fuse of sectarianism”.
Another hashtag -“Iran kills pilgrims” was used to accuse Iranian “gangs” of deliberately ignoring safety instructions and shouting Shia slogans.
Saudi officials denied reports that the stampede was linked to the arrival in Mina of Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, the Saudi defence minister, and his security entourage.
The reports were first published by theArabic-language daily al-Diyar – a paper supportive of president Bashar al-Assad of Syria, a bitter enemy of Saudi Arabia. It said the stampede occurred when the one-way traffic directions were reversed to allow the prince’s convoy and 350 personnel to get through so he could see his father, the king.
A statement from the Saudi ambassador to London, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf Al Saud, strongly denied the allegations, saying: “This is a malicious claim and completely untrue. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s senior dignitaries’ vehicles do not travel through this area.” His statement blamed “Iranian state controlled channels” for starting the rumours.
But Mohammed Jafari, an adviser to Haj and Umrah Travel, the first hajj tour operator in the UK, claimed the alleged road closures were a contributory factor to the crush.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “The Saudis say after every disaster ‘it is God’s will’. It is not God’s will – it is man’s incompetence. Talking to pilgrims on the ground yesterday, the main reason for this accident was that the king, in his palace in Mina, was receiving dignitaries and for this reason they closed two entrances to where the stoning happened … these were the two roads where people were not able to proceed.”
Mohammad Jafari, an adviser to the UK’s oldest hajj travel company, criticised the Mecca authorities on Friday.
“It is the fault of the Saudi government because any time a prince comes along, they close the roads, they don’t think about the disaster waiting to happen.”
A Pakistani couple told a relative they saw no sign of a VIP presence; they noticed pilgrims, their heads uncovered, collapsing due to the heat as Saudi boy scouts and security sprayed them with cold water.
The Saudi health minister, Khalid al-Falih, claimed the pilgrims had been undisciplined. He told local television: “The accident, as most know, was a stampede caused by overcrowding, and also caused by some of the pilgrims not following the movement instructions of the security and hajj ministry.”
Military spokesman Maj Gen Mansour al-Turki said high temperatures and exhaustion may have contributed to the disaster, and that there was no indication the authorities were to blame. “Unfortunately, these incidents happen in a moment,” he told Associated Press.
Prince Khaled al-Faisal, the head of Saudi Arabia’s central hajj committee, and the son of the former king, was criticised on social media after reportedly blaming the fatal crush on “some pilgrims with African nationalities”. Jafari accused the Saudi government of making racist statements by suggesting that the stampede was caused by African pilgrims.
An interior ministry spokesman said the investigation would look into what caused an unusual mass of pilgrims to congregate at the location of the disaster. He told a press conference in Mina: “The reason for that is not known yet.”
Bruce Riedel, a US expert on Saudi Arabia, said the hajj deaths would affect the complex internal politics of the Saudi royal family, following recent reports of unusual internal dissent since King Salman came to the throne in January.

Pakistan - Polio Workers: Death-Defying Job but No Wages on Time

Despite the clear directives of Chief Secretary Balochistan, the frontline polio workers were not paid their wages of September campaign in Balochistan.
“The frontline workers are supposed to be paid right after the campaign during the month of September,” a lady polio worker based in Quetta said.
An official of Emergency Operation Center (EOC) Balochistan confirmed that the polio workers are yet to be paid but declined to further comment. “The districts will soon submit the details and the DDM cards so that the process will go smoothly,” he said.
The province was criticized at national and international level for not paying the wages of polio workers on time. Despite working in a death-defying environment in Quetta and other areas of Balochistan, the workers were never paid on time.

Only reward in this unsafe job is wages upon which our complete livelihood depends – Polio Workers.

The three-day anti-polio drive was started in Quetta on September 13th and Chief Secretary Balochistan, Saifullah Chatta, directed the government officials concerned and partner agencies to ensure that the frontline workers are paid on time. However, his directives seem to have fallen on deaf ears.
“The only reward in this unsafe job is wages upon which our complete livelihood is,” another worker in Quetta said. The polio workers requested anonymity because she thinks she will be singled out and will be punished for this.
The next anti-polio drive will start in Quetta by October 10th while in 10 others districts on October 13th. It will create problems to launch a successful campaign with maximum coverage as the frontline workers are not paid their wages for the previous campaign.

Pakistan - Pemra’s statement

THE state, it seems, would like the media to move in lockstep with its international ties.
Prompted by the government, Pemra has sent an SMS to news channels critical of allegations being levelled on certain programmes that mismanagement by Saudi Arabia was to blame for last month’s tragedy at Mina.
The statement said: “They need to be reminded that Article 19 of the Constitution restricts comments that may affect relations with friendly countries.”
Although no legal action has as yet been threatened in case of non-compliance, it has been made clear unofficially that the matter is so important for the government that those concerned would ignore it at their peril.
Pemra had issued a similar warning to television channels five months ago, when talk shows were holding animated discussions on the Yemen crisis and Pakistan’s refusal to send ground troops as part of a Saudi-led coalition against the Houthi uprising in that country.
Interestingly, the notice on that occasion also mentioned “the electronic media’s contribution towards image-building of nations”.
Contrary to Pemra’s perception, however, “image-building” — whether of nations, institutions or individuals — is not the media’s job, but that of public relations firms.
The duty of the media is to inform the public: in order to do so in as balanced a manner as possible, there must be discussion and debate on the issues at hand. Of course, news channels should ensure that such exchange of views remains temperate and civilised; and one can justifiably argue that Pakistani media does at times need to be reminded of its obligations on this score.
Moreover, freedom of speech is indeed subject to some broad, constitutionally mandated limits — “any reasonable restrictions” as the document describes it — including the one pointed out by the regulatory authority, but public interest and the qualified privilege of fair comment that arises from it should take precedence over considerations about ‘offending’ any country.
After all, the death of nearly 800 pilgrims — the worst disaster to befall the Haj in 25 years — merits calls for a transparent and thorough investigation. If the government cannot bring itself to ask any questions, its move through Pemra to muzzle the media is entirely unreasonable.
On a related note, one could also ask what constitutes a ‘friendly’ nation. For it is difficult to ignore the fact that another ostensible ally is regularly subjected to vitriol in the media — without any attempt by officialdom to dial down the invective.

#Pakistan - #Hajjstampede - #PEMRA - Saving Saudi Blushes

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), under instruction from the government has asked media channels to desist from covering the stampede at Mina during the Hajj pilgrimage, since some media channels are “indirectly accusing Saudi Arabia of mismanagement”.
Despite carefully wording the order, the fact is that media channels are openly and direct accusing the Saudi Arabia of mismanagement – and most importantly, they should be doing that.
The government may good-naturedly wish to save their Saudi brother from their blushes, but the question is why they should? What has the Kingdom done to escape criticism?

All evidence points to the fact that there are no mitigating factors.
Had stampedes at Hajj been an isolated incident we could have forgiven the Kingdom, since accidents happen at large gatherings and no one can guarantee complete safety.
Yet the fact is that a couple hundred deaths – especially at Mina – have become a regular occurrence, happening four or five times every decade.
For the longest time the Kingdom has been awarded a lenient outlook, sometimes just because of the fact that they are the ‘guardians of the holy cities’, but a thousand deaths cannot go unaccounted for, especially when reports indicate that the stampede was caused by the authorities admitting large amounts of people into the complex and then blocking certain exit points to facilitate Saudi royalty.

Yes, the constitution contains a clause that says the media should refrain from publishing any material that might damage relations with friendly nations, but that clause has been gathering dust ever since it was written.
It has never been actively used, and it is hypocritical to use it to shelter Saudi Arabia when any of our other allies – such as the United States – have never been afforded such luxury.
Even if this clause was frequently used, criticizing the management at Mina – something the whole world is doing –does not damage the bilateral relationship between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia at all.
The order by the government is designed to protect our Saudi brothers from some much deserved criticism – and most importantly, to scuttle independent journalistic accountability.

VIP tents, luxury suits overlooking Mecca, private tours to dignitaries, the Hajj pilgrimage has been turned into a money making machine.
If the quest for increasing revenue has prompted the Saudi Authorities to ignore proper safeguards then they must be held accountable.
Pakistani government, which should be hounding the Saudis, is instead covering their tracks, and in the process is showing incalculable apathy or the Pakistani pilgrims that were crushed in the tragic stampede.

Pakistan - PTI's plan to attack the ECP

If the PTI is confident and possesses any evidence, then it must not back off from its position and file a case against ECP members, hire the best constitutional lawyers and fight it to the end
If you want to burst into laughter, turn on your television sets and watch Imran Khan, the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), addressing a group of reporters. He sounds serious, I know, but it is not the tone that cracks you up, it is the content. Listen to him saying: “I will end corruption in 19 days,” followed by, “35 punctures” and then “I am not going from the container without the resignation of the prime minister.” Now tell me, how can you resist giggling?

An intelligent person would know how to avoid media attention once he is caught red handed like this but not the former model of BB Tips. He does not stop and keeps on amusing us with his exaggerated threats and false accusations almost everyday as if he is a histrionic teenager holding a bottle of pills in one hand and brandishing a knife in the other, unsure of which one will increase his popularity more. Now convert this knife in your mind with a mike and the picture will be complete.

Following the same pattern, this time he has challenged members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Through a press conference on television the former captain insists that all the members of the ECP should resign from their posts immediately. If they do not, then first it means that they are guilty as charged. Second, it means that Khan’s information is trustworthy for which he must continue his ‘struggle’. On top of all this, it also means that now they should get ready to face an indefinite dharna (sit-in) in front of their head office in Islamabad.

In Response to Khan’s ultimatum, the reasonable chief election commissioner of Pakistan, Sardar Ahmed Raza, tried to deal with the situation logically. He declared that members of the ECP would not resign. And if a particular political party had evidence against any of them, it should in that scenario pursuit the case legally by sending a reference to the judicial commission. Once the political party won the dispute in a court of law, then the shamed members would have no other choice except to step down.

I agree with the former justice of the Supreme Court (SC) and do not believe that we can afford to promote the culture of blackmailing anymore. We have been subdued in the past by a number of powerful people (uniformed or otherwise) who assailed constitutional institutions to seize power. Now it is time to put a stop to that practice. Having said that, I cannot support any wrong doings of the members of the ECP either. I believe the matter should be handled in strict accordance with the law, nothing more nothing less. If the PTI is confident and possesses any evidence, then it must not back off from its position and file a case against them, hire the best constitutional lawyers and fight it to the end. The question that perplexes me though is if the incredulous political party has any proof at hand or not.

History tells us that most likely it does not; if it held any reproducible material then a reference would have been submitted a long time ago, its loud clamour sweeping the talk shows. What they might have is hearsay. He heard this from who told him, who forwarded it to a friend, who updated them, the PTI. Through this sequence, meaningless gossip transforms itself into gospel truth, especially if it lands upon the gullible ears of the chairman who, chances are, would get so wound up after listening to the story that in 15 minutes would call in a press conference and start issuing his long list of accusations.

He behaved the same way in 2014. Beating the drums of election fraud as loud as he could, he moved towards the capital and sat on the streets for four months. The bottom line though was not the rigging, as he proclaimed. It was his inability to accept his loss. Carried away with his neck injury that he suffered a couple of days before the elections, and a humiliating defeat, he conjured up the whole conspiracy theory in which thousands of people followed a secret agenda to help the PML-N steal the elections from him! It may sound unbelievable to you but so hostile and vengeful was he that he did not even flinch when his party, in collaboration with the dubious Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), attacked Pakistan Television (PTV) and the National Assembly. The plan was to create enough chaos where the army would force Mian Nawaz Sharif to resign and somehow hand over power to Imran Khan. That plan failed but he continued to spill venom from the container top. It was only after the Peshawar massacre that he called off the sit-in.

I am not sure what he is scheming about this year but, whatever it is, we all know it is not good for the country and its democratic institutions. The reason I say this is not because I think he is inherently malicious; I insist on this because I believe he is in a rush to seize power. He knows the country is finally back on the right track and economic indicators favour a growth spurt. True, it may not be due to the measures taken by the federal government and most likely due to the intervention of the army to quell terrorism, Chinese investment to build the economic corridor and a drop in international fuel prices. However, one thing is certain: the person who, irrespective of whether he is responsible for this economic growth or not, is going to bag the benefits in the next election will only be Nawaz Sharif provided he finishes his tenure. Tell me: if you were you were as old as Imran Khan is, would you wait for the next elections and risk losing another five years? Would you not attack the ECP?