Tuesday, October 20, 2015

#Turkey - Main opposition leader says gov’t thwarting police from cracking down on ISIL

Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said the police have had their hands tied by the government, which in turn has thwarted efforts by investigators to crack down on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) network in Turkey.
“The police and intelligence knew everything. They were monitoring them, wiretapping their communication and even had a photo of the suicide bombers,” he told Today's Zaman in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.
“The government was certainly aware of the Ankara process,” Kılıçdaroğlu remarked, accusing the government of allowing ISIL to operate freely in several provinces across Turkey.
The Turkish media have been extensively covering a series of failures on the capture of the two suspected suicide bombers, who killed 102 people in the heart of the Turkish capital of Ankara on Oct. 10. The reports showed they were on a list of potential suicide bombers the police were keeping track of.
“The police wanted to take security measures. The reason why security measures were not implemented or why these suspects were not taken into custody is the absence of orders by the political authority to do what was required of the police,” he explained.
“I mean clearly that the government has protected ISIL,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Official tape recordings acquired from an indictment that was prepared in May by the Adıyaman Chief Public Prosecutor's Office -- based on the findings of an investigation that was launched in 2013 after the families of some of the suspects told the authorities that they believed their sons had joined the terrorist ISIL group -- have also confirmed that the two suspected Ankara bombers were under police surveillance before the attack, intensifying suspicions of serious negligence on the part of the government in the months leading up to the attack.
The records were shared with the press by CHP deputies Eren Erdem and Ali Şeker at a press conference in Parliament last week.
The indictment listed 19 people as suspected al-Qaeda members; however, the charges were eventually dropped.
The security footage revealed in the media showed that the suspects came to Ankara's Gölbaşı district in a vehicle on Oct. 10, the day the Ankara attack took place. They then got into a taxi and went to a cafe in the city's Balgat neighborhood. The two bombers had breakfast together there and then went to the front of the Ankara train station, where the rally was going to take place.
Kılıçdaroğlu said the government defense that there had been no security breach was a laughable claim, given that the bombers were roaming freely all the way from southeast Turkey to Ankara and even having breakfast and taking a stroll before the attack without the police noticing them.
The main opposition leader emphasized that if they come to power either alone in a single-party government or with a coalition partner, the CHP will insist on a 180-degree reversal of Turkey's foreign policy.
“I will seal the border with Syria to prevent radicals from crossing either way. I will never allow ISIL to operate inside Turkey,” he vowed.
Noting that the government knows all the ISIL cells in Turkey and is familiar with the neighborhoods where ISIL has raised funds and recruited members, he said, “They did not do anything about them, however.”
Gov't does not consider ISIL a terrorist group

The main opposition leader went as far as to accuse the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government of not considering ISIL a terrorist group.
He recalled that Prime Minister and AK Party Chairman Ahmet Davutoğlu admitted last week that the authorities had a list of potential suicide bombers but could not arrest them unless those bombers act. “In our penal code, being a member of a terrorist organization is enough to get arrested,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
He noted that the government is not arresting ISIL members because it does not consider them as terrorists. “Davutoğlu's admission that they cannot round them up unless they act is an open admission of that fact,” he lamented.
“It does not matter whether they blow themselves up or possess firearms. Simply being a member of a terrorist group is enough to charge and prosecute them,” he explained. “Otherwise, why have the police and the Interior Ministry been distributing photos of these bombers and issued an alert?” he asked.
In sharp contrast, he said the government has been cracking down on critics and arresting them based on a “reasonable suspicion” clause enacted into the penal code last year to detain and prosecute suspects on less solid grounds.
Penal courts of peace must be abolished

Commenting on the penal courts of peace that were established in 2014 as part of what then-Prime Minister and now President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called a "special project," to go after critics and opponents, Kılıçdaroğlu said these courts must be abolished.
“This is nothing but a continuation of the State Security Courts [DGM],” he said, stressing that the judiciary is under government pressure and judges are simply doing the bidding of the political authority.
“They just changed the name of the DGM to penal courts of peace,” he said.
The notorious DGMs were abolished a decade ago under pressure from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which made it clear that the DGMs were no longer considered to be an effective remedy after so many complaints had been filed about these courts with the ECtHR.
“The judiciary must be independent and impartial,” Kılıçdaroğlu underlined.
He warned civil servants to avoid complying with unlawful orders issued by the government, saying the civil service law is very clear that any governor, police chief or other public employee has to refuse to obey an unlawfully issued order.
“Those who have violated the laws in line with the government's wishes will be held accountable for what they did,” the CHP leader noted.
Press freedom getting worse

Kılıçdaroğlu also talked about the problems of the right to free speech and freedom of the press under the AK Party government, saying that censorship has reached a new peak with government-controlled service companies unlawfully removing critical and independent networks from their line-ups.
Earlier this month, the Digiturk satellite network stopped broadcasting seven stations thought to be critical of the government, prompting a boycott by thousands of viewers who have canceled their subscriptions.
In reaction to Digiturk's decision, main opposition leader Kılıçdaroğlu said he canceled the CHP's subscription to Digiturk and called on millions of his supporters to do the same.
He underlined that the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), which asked the Digiturk satellite network to explain why it had stopped broadcasting seven TV stations that are critical of the government, must follow up on this issue. “If legally possible, RTÜK must revoke Digiturk's license,” he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu promised that he will ask RTÜK members who were elected from the CHP's quota to weigh in on this matter.
In its decision, RTÜK members decided to ask Digiturk to issue a written statement to explain the grounds for the controversial removal of the channels. RTÜK officials will later decide whether or not to impose a sanction on the network after receiving the statement.
The RTÜK decision was won by five votes to four, with the two members from the CHP, two from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and a member from the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) voting for the decision, while the four members from the AK Party voted against it.
The main opposition leader also criticized Turkcell, the mobile phone operator, for becoming a government-owned company. “It only gives advertisements to pro-government media outlets. This is also the same for public banks,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, stressing that this practice is a kind of indirect censorship and a major obstacle to press freedom. “The competition authority must intervene in this,” he said.
Turkcell TV+, an online TV streaming service from Internet provider Superonline and Tivibu, another service provided by TTNet, previously announced that they had removed the stations in question from their platforms by order of the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office on the suspicion that they support a terrorist organization.
Even a children's station, Yumurcak TV, was dropped, prompting anger from some users who were perplexed at the idea that a children's TV station could support terrorism. Teledünya and Kablo TV, two digital satellite platforms that use the satellite company Türksat's infrastructure, also stopped the broadcast of the channels on Monday.
Kılıçdaroğlu also reacted to recent news that the state-owned Turkish Satellite Communications Company (Türksat) gave three TV channels notice that their contracts would not be renewed as of next month.
TV channels Irmak TV, Bugün TV and Kanaltürk, known for their critical stance against the government, were recently notified by Türksat that their contracts would not be renewed as of November.
The channels were told to remove their platforms from Türksat's infrastructure by the end of the month.
The CHP leader said the government has been trying to silence opposition voices, including theirs, by shutting down critical and independent TV stations.
Foreign policy must be changed

Asked whether he had heard any regrets from Prime Minister Davutoğlu on any failures in foreign policy during his private exchanges with him, Kılıçdaroğlu replied, “Never.”
“I never heard him saying, ‘We made a mistake here',” he recounted. “In contrast, from the first day I became the chairman of the CHP, I've been saying that Turkey's foreign policy must change,” the CHP leader added.
“I sent a letter to Erdoğan on Aug. 24, 2012, asking him to convene a major international conference with the participation of the US, Russia, the EU, the Arab League, Iran and all the opposing sides from Syria. Turkey could have led this initiative. The response I received was mind your own business,” he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu made it clear that he would never allow arms transfers to Syria if the CHP comes to power.
“The American and Russian roles are very important in resolving the Syrian conflict. We could help them out,” he said.
Regarding the refugee crisis, the CHP leader said two actions must be taken to address this growing problem. “First of all, we need to stop the bloodshed in Syria. All countries must aim for that. With or without Bashar al-Assad, this conflict must end. Second, Syria must be rebuilt. The European states must delve into their pockets,” he stressed.
On the EU's latest offer concerning the refugee crisis and the visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Turkey, the CHP leader said he cannot agree with the proposed plan. “Turkey is a collection camp for refugees,” he said.

Stampede At Hajj In Saudi Arabia Reportedly Killed At Least 2,177


The toll keeps rising from the Sept. 24 disaster outside Mecca as individual countries identify bodies and work to determine the whereabouts of hundreds of pilgrims still missing.

The crush and stampede that struck the hajj last month in Saudi Arabia killed at least 2,177 pilgrims, a new Associated Press tally showed Monday, after officials in the kingdom met to discuss the tragedy.
The toll keeps rising from the Sept. 24 disaster outside Mecca as individual countries identify bodies and work to determine the whereabouts of hundreds of pilgrims still missing. The official Saudi toll of 769 people killed and 934 injured has not changed since Sept. 26, and officials have yet to address the discrepancy.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdul Aziz, who is also the kingdom's interior minister, oversaw a meeting late Sunday about the disaster in Mina, according to the official Saudi Press Agency. The agency's report did not mention any official response to the rising death toll.
"The crown prince was reassured on the progress of the investigations," the SPA report said. "He directed the committee's members to continue their efforts to find the causes of the accident, praying to Allah Almighty to accept the martyrs and wishing the injured a speedy recovery."
King Salman ordered the investigation into the disaster, the deadliest in the history of the annual pilgrimage. It came after a crane collapse in Mecca earlier that month killed 111 worshippers, and the twin disasters marred the first hajj to be overseen by the king since he ascended to the throne at the start of this year.
The Saudi king holds the title of "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques," and the monarchy's supervision of the hajj is a source of great prestige in the Muslim world. Riyadh has rejected a suggestion by Shiite power Iran, its main regional rival, to have an independent body take over planning and administering the five-day hajj pilgrimage, which is required of all able-bodied Muslims once in their lifetimes.
Iran has repeatedly blamed the disaster on the Saudi royal family, accusing it of mismanagement and of covering up the real death toll, which Tehran says exceeds 4,700, without providing evidence.
"The lying and hypercritical bodies, which claim to (be promoting) human rights, as well as the Western governments, which sometimes make great fuss over the death of a single person, remained dead silent in this incident in favor of their allied government," Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Monday, according to a transcript on his website.
"If they were sincere, these self-proclaimed advocates of human rights should have demanded accountability, compensation, guarantee for non-recurrence and punishment for the perpetrators of this catastrophe."
Iran and Saudi Arabia are deeply divided on a host of regional issues and back opposite sides in the wars in Syria and Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been at war with Iran-backed Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, since March.
Saudi Arabia has meanwhile been targeted in gun and bomb attacks by an affiliate of the extremist Islamic State group, which holds a third of Iraq and Syria in its self-declared "caliphate." Like al-Qaida before it, the IS group views the Saudi royal family as illegitimate because of alleged corruption and its alliance with the United States.
The AP count of the dead from the Mina crush and stampede comes from state media reports and officials' comments from 30 of the over 180 countries that sent citizens to the hajj.
Iran leads all the affected countries, saying it had 465 pilgrims killed. Many of the dead also came from Africa. Mali said it lost 254 people, while Nigeria lost 199, Cameroon lost 76, Niger lost 72, Senegal lost 61, and Ivory Coast and Benin both lost 52.
Others include Egypt with 182, Bangladesh with 137, Indonesia with 126, India with 116, Pakistan with 102, Ethiopia with 47, Chad with 43, Morocco with 36, Algeria with 33, Sudan with 30, Burkina Faso with 22, Tanzania with 20, Somalia with 10, Kenya with eight, Ghana and Turkey with seven, Myanmar and Libya with six, China with four, Afghanistan with two and Jordan and Malaysia with one.
The previous deadliest-ever incident at hajj was a 1990 stampede that killed 1,426 people.

Humanitarian catastrophe: UNICEF says 537,000 Yemeni children at risk of malnutrition

The humanitarian situation in Yemen is reaching disturbing proportions, with half a million children now facing life-threatening malnutrition and imminent famine, according to a senior UNICEF official.
An announcement made on Friday by the organization represents a three-fold increase in numbers of those not receiving enough food since fighting began in March. Afshan Khan, director of the UN Children’s Fund’s emergency programs worldwide, told Reuters Friday that “We are facing the potential of a huge humanitarian catastrophe… The levels of malnutrition that are being reported for children are extremely critical.
“A nutritional survey will be done at the end of October. How close are we to a famine declaration? We see some zones that are worse than others,” she confirmed.
The World Food Program (WFP) has been ringing the alarm over the situation since the summer. Some 13 million people have not had access to adequate food, six million of which were in a particularly difficult situation. The number of children under five facing severe acute malnutrition continues to grow.
Currently the figure stands at 537,000, with visible bodily changes; another 1.3 million are moderately malnourished, latest UN figures claim.
Fewer than one in five feeding centers are functioning in the country. But even with UNICEF programs being set up, the situation isn’t likely to get better soon, as some of the existing centers are in Al-Qaeda-held regions – such as the eastern province of Hadramawr. The agency operates 43 mobile screening teams that monitor malnutrition.
audi Arabia has been battling Houthi rebels in its support of the exiled Yemeni government. Violence has been ongoing since late March, with barely any halt in hostilities – a fact that has rendered most humanitarian efforts almost useless, sinking the country into further oblivion and displacing an estimated 10 percent of Yemen’s population, of about 23 million people.
The conflict is seen by observers to largely be a proxy war between outside forces loyal to Sunni monarchies and those on those on the Shia side, like Iran, which are strongly opposed by the Western powers.
The death toll has climbed to 5,400 people in one of the poorest Arab countries. The figure includes at least 502 children, according to UNICEF.
Despite both sides being blamed for not placing the population’s security first, the Saudi-led bombings haven been causing untold collateral damage, and contributing to the deadly food shortages, while the Kingdom has completely blockaded commercial vessels from reaching the country. Before the conflict started, 90 percent of all food was imported, which is plunging Yemen to the brink of starvation.
The UNICEF emergencies director explains that the agency is only “allowed small passages of goods where the papers are clear. We have been unable to sufficiently replenish medical supplies.” The same goes for fuel – which affects multiple sectors, including the grinding of grain in the mills.
"Humanitarian access is getting more and more difficult ... We hope fuel imports are restored so the cold chain (for vaccines) is re-established and sufficient fuel is available for running water treatment," Khan said.
A glimmer of hope for the country is the Saturday invitation from the United Nations the Saudi-backed govenrment has received to sit down for more peace talks - something the country has failed at over and over again.
"The Yemeni government confirms that we're always ready for and committed to peace," spokesman Rajeh Badi told Reuters.
"We value the role of the United Nations and thank its special envoy to Yemen, who has exerted great efforts toward achieving a peaceful resolution," he said, giving a 48-hour time frame for responce.
The Houthi rebels have not responded as of yet.

Putin’s Success in Syria Increasing Russia’s Role in World Affairs

Russia has caught the United States and its allies by surprise by successfully getting involved in Syria and de-facto becoming a key player in the fight against ISIL, said French academic and head of the think tank Grece, Alain de Benoist.

With his bold actions in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin showed everyone that international relations are quickly moving towards a multipolar world in which Russia will be a key actor that would change the existing balance of power, de Benoist wrote for Boulevard Voltaire.
The French academic added that Russia's airstrikes against ISIL targets in Syria are a major event in world politics.
"Russia has caught the United States and its allies by surprise. Due to his pragmatism, knowledge of geopolitics and strategic thinking, Putin has strengthened Russia's weight in international politics," de Benoist said.
On September 30, following a request from Syria's legitimate government, Russia launched a multinational aerial campaign aimed at assisting Damascus-led forces in their fight against a four-and-a-half-year old insurgency in the country.

By creating an alliance with Iran, China and other countries within the Eurasian Union, Russia is changing the current geopolitical structure in the world, the French academic explained.

At the same time, Russia stepped up its cooperation with Latin America and BRICS countries in light of poor relations with the West. Earlier this year, Argentina's Ambassador to Russia, Pablo Anselmo Tettamanti, said that the two countries are currently experiencing their best level of communication in their 130-year-long history of bilateral relations.
Russia's relations with the United States and the EU became strained in 2014 after the West accused Russia of fueling the internal conflict in Ukraine, a claim that Moscow has repeatedly denied.

Read more: http://sputniknews.com/politics/20151020/1028833268/syria-shows-russia-key-player-world-affairs.html#ixzz3p967FrfD

Russia, US sign cooperation deal on Syria airstrikes

Russia and the US have signed an agreement regulating the operations of the two countries' air forces in Syria. The deal is aimed at preventing incidents and providing for the smooth operation of the two nations' aircraft, and for mutual aid in critical situations.
The agreement, whose full name is "The Memorandum of Mutual Understanding between the Defense Ministries of Russia and the United States on preventing incidents and providing for aviation flights during operations in Syria" is hailed as a 'positive step', the Russian Defense Ministry said in a press release.
The document "has important practical value. It regulates the actions of manned and unmanned aircraft in the airspace above Syria. The Memorandum contains a set of rules and limitations aimed at preventing incidents between the air forces of Russia and the US," the Defense Ministry says.
As soon as the agreement comes into force, there will be 24/7 communication channels established between the Russian and American military commanders. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, its US counterparts have pledged to convey the agreement's details to their anti-Islamic State coalition partners, so that they, too, follow the rules it sets.
The signing of the Memorandum "shows a high potential for cooperation between Russia and the US, including in the fight against terrorism".
However, the Defense Ministry stresses that the Memorandum is strictly "military and technical" and it's signing does not change Russia's principal position, which is that "its military is acting in Syria at the request of the legitimate authorities, whereas the use of force in one country's territory by another country without its authorities' agreement or a ruling by the UN Security Council is against international law."
The ratification of the memorandum was preceded by three televised conferences between Russian and American military representatives, who prepared the final text of the document, Colonel-General Andrey Kartapolov said, TASS reported.
Russia’s Defense Ministry is urging the Pentagon to conduct joint efforts to rescue any pilots downed in Syria, but the US military forces seem reluctant to cooperate, the ministry’s spokesman, Igor Konashenkov, said while commenting on the new agreement, RIA Novosti reports.
“First of all, we are talking about rescue operations of any pilot involved in military commitment in Syria. This won’t be a matter of hours or even minutes but of seconds and the pilot's life will depend on our teamwork.”
“Unfortunately, our western colleagues still don’t appreciate the full gravity of the situation,” Konashenkov added.
The memorandum signed both by Russia and the USA has already come into force, according to Pentagon. The document doesn’t suggest establishing cooperation zones or sharing intelligence information.
The classified document specifies the radio frequencies that should be used by both sides for communication, sets up a ground hot line, and appoints an ad hoc working group to facilitate further talks, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook added, as reported by AP.
When asked about how far Russia and the US might be from establishing zones of cooperation, in an interview to RT, former US diplomat Jim Jatras said the Obama administration “can’t admit that it is weakly following the Russian lead and its policy remains completely incoherent.” Therefore, Russia and the US are still “a while away from that,” according to Jatras.
“Changing the US policy is a long process,” he said, adding that the Russian military operation in Syria has been“encouraging” so far and is opening people’s eyes. “There are no so-called moderates and the US has been supporting jihad terrorists since 9/11 attacks.”

Jatras has also expressed hope that the US will eventually share intelligence information with Russia.
Russia has been conducting a campaign of airstrikes against Islamic State (formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Syria for three weeks now. Daily reports from the Defense Ministry indicate dozens of IS targets have been hit, including weapon and ammunition depots, supply and communication lines, headquarters and command posts. The bombing campaign has been timed together with the Syrian army's push against ISIS terrorists.
Washington has been accusing Russia of hitting non-terrorist targets, including those belonging to so-called “moderate” rebels whom the US supports in the fight against Syria's President Bashar Assad. Russian officials, including the president and the foreign minister, have repeatedly said the goal of the airstrikes is to combat terrorism, not help Assad reassert his power.
Meanwhile, the US-led coalition forces are carrying out bombing operations of their own – with Moscow accusing them of lacking a UN Security Council mandate or approval from Syria's legal authorities.

Video Report - UK, US policies leading up to Iraq War ‘were about business’ – investigative journalist

Hillary Clinton solidifies her lead in Democratic race


Maybe it was the debate or maybe just the race snapping back to its natural pattern after an aberrant month or so, but whatever the reason, Hillary Rodham Clinton appears to be firmly back in the lead of the Democratic presidential fight.
The evidence comes from three new national polls.
A Washington Post/ABC News poll has Clinton leading Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont by 54% to 23%, with Vice President Joe Biden, who hasn't said whether he'll run, at 16%. That's a big shift from last month, when a Post/ABC survey put Clinton at 42%.
Sanders' support has not changed, but Biden's waned, the poll found.
An NBC/Wall Street Journal survey also showed Clinton widening her lead in the race. Clinton led Sanders, 49%-29%, with Biden at 15% in that poll.
Without Biden in the race, Clinton led Sanders, 58%-33%, in the NBC/WSJ poll. Unlike the Post/ABC survey, this one showed support for Sanders dropping compared with a predebate survey.
A third poll, for Reuters by the Ipsos polling firm, showed a similarly large Clinton lead. And a poll this week by CNN showed Clinton, the former secretary of State, leading Sanders, 45%-29%, with Biden at 18%.
The polling figures are significant for a couple of reasons. They might contribute to deterring Biden from running. They also have calmed a jittery mood among prominent Clinton backers who, a month ago, were starting to panic over mediocre poll results. And they come as Clinton prepares for a showdown Thursday with Republicans on the House committee investigating the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012.

Chelsea Clinton: Hillary's testimony will be 'remarkable'


Hillary Clinton "will be remarkable" during her testimony before the House Select Committee on Benghazi later this week, Chelsea Clinton predicted Tuesday.
"I think every opportunity my mom has, she proves again and again why she should be our next president. I know I’m very biased, and I actually think I’m even more biased now as a mom than as a daughter because I feel like I have a different stake in the future because of my daughter, Charlotte," she said in an interview with "CBS This Morning." "And so, I have no doubt on Thursday she will ... be remarkable and that Americans will really see why I so strongly believe that she should be our next president."

 Clinton said she "mainly" talks about her daughter and family with her mother, not presidential politics.

"I think because she has so many advisers who know this terrain better than I do, but she only has one daughter and one granddaughter. And I want to create and protect that space for our family," she said. "I see my mother so much more now than before Charlotte."
Asked how she felt about constant criticism of her parents' political careers, Clinton said she has steeled herself over the years.
"I mean, I don’t remember a time when people weren’t attacking my parents. So in some ways, I think as I grew up I developed a thick skin. And I also know my mom, and I think it’s so much more important to look at what people do and how they lead their lives than what's happening in the echo chamber," she remarked. "And I certainly hope to teach that to my daughter, and I hope that that’s something that generally Americans are doing."
On the prospect of Vice President Joe Biden entering the race, Clinton demurred on what it would mean for her mother. "I don't know. I think we'll have to see," she said. "As my mom has said, that's very much up to the vice president."
Clinton, who has remained friends with Donald Trump's eldest daughter, Ivanka, said their relationship "is so much more important than anything that happens in politics."
"So you don't call her and say, 'could you ask your dad to stop talking?'" Clinton was asked by co-host Gayle King. "We don't talk about that," she responded.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/10/chelsea-clinton-react-hillary-clinton-benghazi-testimony-214949#ixzz3p8vlgwz2

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Pakistan - 6000 energy savers go missing from Govt store in Peshawar

More than 6,000 energy saver bulbs that were purchased in 2014 for Muharram have gone missing from the store of the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa government in Peshawar.

The store room has not a single bulb in place out of a stock worth lacs of rupees. However, no one has any record of the government material lost.

District Vice-Nazim Qasim Ali Shah said that the district administration is not responsible for the material lost.

Town One’s Nazim Zahid Nadeem was also approached but he declined to comment.

According to sources, after Muharram 2014, the bulbs were shifted to government storage. Adding to the loss, rains in the past week have damaged another 1,000 bulbs installed in streets. As of now, the stock has only 900 lights available.

The government has spent lacs of rupees again to buy 6,000 bulbs ahead of Muharram on emergency basis.

It should be mentioned here that there are at least 65 Imambargas in Peshawar. The gatherings have started in the centres since Monday night.

Pakistan: Christian faith healer arrested for blasphemy

 A Christian faith healer, who used a sword inscribed with Islamic verses to treat his clients, has been arrested under the controversial blasphemy laws in Pakistan's Punjab province, officials said on Monday.

Naveed John was arrested from district Sargodha, some 175 kilometers from capital Islamabad, after local people lodged a complaint against him early this month for hurting their religious feelings by using the sword.

"John made cuts on the bodies of his patients with a sword inscribed with Quranic verses and also placed it at his feet," the complaint said.

He was arrested early this month and a blasphemy case has been registered against him, police said.

After thorough investigation John has been arrested and produced before court of law for his offence, a senior police officer from Sargodha told PTI.

"A video of John's using the sword inscribed with Islamic verses while treating his patients and placing it on ground has also been submitted to the police by one of the complainants," he said.

John was later today produced before a sessions court in Sargodga which sent him to jail on judicial remand.

"The accused was sent to jail on judicial remand after the police did not seek his further remand. He has confessed to his crime in police custody," the official said.

Blasphemy, a crime carrying death sentence, is a highly sensitive issue in Pakistan where even unproven allegations stir mob violence and lynchings.

Blasphemy laws were introduced in Pakistan in 1980s by former military dictator Ziaul Haq to appease the religious right.

Several persons accused of blasphemy have been killed by extremists in the country.

Among the high profile victims, former governor of Punjab Salman Taseer and minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti, were killed in 2011 for calling the blasphemy laws as black laws.

The controversial laws have attracted criticism from rights groups who say they are frequently misused to settle personal scores.




Google “Pakistan” and you’ll be flooded with images of terrorist attacks, photos of Malala or trailers of the next Homeland episode. Actually, all of the above. But there is one region of this country you can be pretty sure will not show up on the first few dozen result pages: Balochistan.

Roughly the size of Germany, it is Pakistan’s biggest and poorest province. And it’s also home to a long and bloody civil war that has been going on for decades. On one side there’s the central Pakistani government. On the other are the Baloch nationalists who have fought for independence since the year after Pakistan’s 1947 birth. They are organized in insurgent groups with names like the Balochistan Liberation Army and the Balochistan Liberation United Front. And while the government labels the Baloch as “terrorists,” the Baloch accuse the army of ethnic cleansing. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Since the start of this forsaken conflict,


people have died and thousands of others have gone missing.

The Baloch are an ethnic minority with their own language, traditions and culture. They are also present in Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan but feel strongly deprived and alienated by the government in Islamabad. The intensity of the conflict has been ebbing and flowing for decades. It had slowed down after the imposition of martial law in the country in 1977, but it broke out anew in 2005 after a Baloch doctor was raped, allegedly, by a military officer. That triggered a wave violence and retaliatory attacks on both sides, including two attempted assassinations of then-President Pervez Musharraf during visits to Balochistan.
The Baloch feel no loyalty toward the central government. “Pakistan has already lost Balochistan, but it won’t let it go,” says Burzine Waghmar from the Center for the Study of Pakistan at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. That’s because despite being the poorest, most scarcely populated region of the country, it is also rich in natural resources like oil, gas and minerals and strategically valuable — with three borders, access to the Arabian Sea coast and a deep-sea port.
Like in all wars, both sides accuse each other of inhumane acts. Human Rights Watch has reported a growing number of kidnappings of Baloch activists. Dead bodies are often dumped on empty lots or alleys — 116 in 2013 — and there have been widespread accusations against the Pakistani military and security agencies of extrajudicial executions, torture, displacement and excessive use of force against protesters. In January 2014, three mass graves were found in Balochistan. The Asian Human Rights Commission claims that the hundreds of bodies found belonged to members of pro-Baloch organizations who had been abducted by Pakistani forces. But a judicial commission absolved the army and intelligence agencies of any responsibility.
To be sure, the armed militant groups (that Islamabad accuses New Delhi of funding) are no strangers to indiscriminate violence either. While the U.S. doesn’t label the Balochistan insurgents as terrorists, they too have been accused of myriad human rights violations, such as killing civilian Pashtun “settlers” — from doctors to construction workers — and intimidating and even murdering journalists. Yet most accusations are hard to corroborate precisely because of how dangerous reporting is in this area.
The Pakistani military does not allow any foreign journalists to Balochistan. Since 2006, several correspondents, including New York Times reporters Declan Walsh and Carlotta Gall, were kicked out of the country for secretly going into Balochistan to report. And local reporters are also too afraid to try: “There is an unwritten understanding that those reporting on Balochistan are going against the greater ‘national interest,’” says Malik Siraj Akbar, a Pakistani journalist exiled in the U.S. after being a newspaper editor in Balochistan.
But whether or not it makes headlines, the death count continues to grow. As Waghmar points out, a shot at peace would require political will on both sides, and after more than six decades of conflict, no one is rushing to the negotiation table.

Peaceful protest planned by several groups against Pakistan PM in US

Several organisations, including Hindu groups, will hold peaceful rallies outside the White House to protest against human and religious rights violations in Pakistan when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would meet US President Barack Obama on October 22.
While members of the Muttahida Quami Movement and Sindhi community would be protesting against human rights violations in Karachi and Sindh, supporters of the Free Baluchistan Campaign plan to hold protest against the atrocities of the Pak Army in Baluchistan.
A number of Hindu-Americans would peacefully protest against Sharif against continued terrorist safe havens inside Pakistan and urge the US to stop giving financial aid to Pakistan.
The World Hindu Council of America and Hindu American Foundation (HAF) along with other religious groups have urged Obama to address religious freedom violations in Pakistan during his meeting with Sharif.The group is also scheduled to hold a peaceful demonstration against Sharif.
In a statement, Free Baluchistan Campaign USA said its rally is meant to protest Pakistan's war crimes and crimes against humanity which continues unabated in Baluchistan, France-sized territory illegally occupied by Pakistan in March 1948.
"Press reports say Sharif s entourage includes former corps commander of Baluchistan Lt-General Naseer Janjua, the main architect of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Baluchistan," said Ahmar Mustikhan of the Free Baluchistan Campaign USA.
In a statement, Sufi Laghari of Sindhi Foundation urged Sharif to take immediate steps to curb activities of Hafiz Saeed and his organisation in Sindh.
"I would like to demand Obama administration to pre-condition flow of non-humanitarian aid to Pakistan with improvement of human rights situation and concrete action against Jihadi networks like Hafiz Saeed's," Laghari said.
This is probably for the first time in recent decades that a visiting Pakistani leader would be facing peaceful protest in front of the White House in Washington DC a city where Pakistani leaders have normally received a red carpet welcome.


Pashto Music - Sardar Ali Takkar جلال ـ عبدالغني خان