Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Video Report - Killing of Russian pilot in Syria amounts to war crime: Syrian FM

Video - Turkish embassy in Moscow pelted following Su-24 downing

Video Report - ‘How did it happen in real life?’ Russian pilot’s first interview after surviving Su-24 crash

Russia - Lest You Forget: Lavrov Reminds Turkey of Its Involvement in ISIL Oil Trade

Turkey’s decision to shoot down a Russian bomber involved in an anti-terror mission against the self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorist group means that Ankara has effectively sided with IS.

Heading off any denial of this fact, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated Turkey’s role in the terrorist group’s illegal oil trade.
Discussing the downing of the Russian Su-24 bomber on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had harsh words for his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu.
According to a press release from Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lavrov pointed out that, "by shooting down a Russian plane on a counter-terrorist mission of the Russian Aerospace Force in Syria, and one that did not violate Turkey’s airspace, the Turkish government has in effect sided with ISIS."

"…Turkey’s actions appear premeditated, planned, and undertaken with a specific objective."

Lavrov also pointed to Turkey’s role in the propping up the terror network through the oil trade.

"The Russian Minister reminded his counterpart about Turkey’s involvement in the ISIS’ illegal trade in oil, which is transported via the area where the Russian plane was shot down, and about the terrorist infrastructure, arms and munitions depots and control centers that are also located there," the statement read.

"Sergei Lavrov specifically said that this act by Turkey will have serious consequences for Russian-Turkish relations and will not go unanswered."

Retired French General Dominique Trinquand made similar statements when speaking to Sputnik earlier on Wednesday.

"[Turkey is either not fighting ISIL at all or very little, and does not interfere with different types of smuggling that takes place on its border, be it oil, phosphate, cotton or people," he said.

Turkey downed a Russian Su-24 bomber Tuesday, claiming that the aircraft violated Turkish airspace. The Russian Defense Ministry has released flight path data proving that Russian remained aircraft never left Syrian airspace.

The incident left one of the pilots dead, shot by militants on the ground after ejecting. The other, Captain Konstantin Murahtin, was rescued.

Russian President Vladimir Putin described the incident as a "stab in the back by accomplices of terrorists."

Read more:

Erdoğan as a Machiavellian

By Aydoğan Vatandaş 

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey, by abusing state power, successfully consolidated his power in recent years.
He increased his efforts to silence critical media and civil society, seizing the other veto players in the Turkish political system. Even though the Turkish political system is parliamentary in its constitutional design, he did not hesitate to take over the power of the government and manipulate the judiciary as well as the legislative. Erdoğan does not even hesitate to give illegal orders to state officers to seize the private property of Turkish entrepreneurs who are allegedly a threat to national security.

If Machiavelli were to live in the Erdoğan era in Turkey, he would be happy to see that Turkish rulers are seriously and carefully applying what he advised. Because Machiavelli is known for his contribution to preparing states for a political philosophy stripped of moral concern, he would advise Erdoğan and his team to apply the rules and principles for domination according to their own interests, no matter how brutal and immoral they are.

Machiavelli was the first political philosopher of the modern understanding of power. In “The Prince,” he wrote about how to take over another "city" and dominate its people. Therefore, it seems very likely that Erdoğan is a staunch follower of Machiavelli. City (Poly), in that context, refers to political power as well as human settlement, which later on evolved into the “state” of modern times. Erdoğan's ambitions to take over the entire country without any legal basis, as well as his attempts to intervene in Egypt's or Syria's domestic politics, exemplify his Machiavellian leadership style and tendencies.

There are many indications that Erdoğan is following a similar path to that of Hitler in the '30s. Hitler was a great admirer of Napoleon, who admired Machiavelli and was known for his colonial conquest.

In sum, if Machiavelli could see Erdoğan he would probably tell Erdoğan that he is doing his job successfully with his reading of people, his sizing up of changing situations and adjusting his actions accordingly and doing whatever it takes to reach his ends. He would tell Erdoğan to be a hypocrite as much as he can and manipulate the people by telling them whatever they want to hear.

Remaining silent about Erdoğan

It is interesting to see that while the US and its allies promote democracy and oppose authoritarianism, it largely remains silent about Erdoğan's unlawful conduct in Turkey and the region. Why?

Is this because global capitalism and the international system operate on the basis of their own interests as well?

This is also probably why the large majority of Turkish society remains silent about all of Erdoğan's unlawful policies; they simply care about their own stability and security. In a Machiavellian world, there are no moral imperatives in the real world of business and organizations. Machiavelli would suggest to the business elite that they needn't be good. On the contrary, he would suggest that they learn how not to be good and do whatever it takes to get whatever is in their interests. He would also suggest that they see some other surrounding companies seized.

However, Aristotle's view about the problem of equality helps us to understand how and why regimes change over time. He believes that the most important duty of a prudent ruler is to safeguard the regime of a country. However, due to the changing dynamics in the concept of justice in time, regime changes are almost indispensable. He says because some people believe they are equal in some things, they think they are equal in everything. He further elaborates that the problem of different interpretations of equality in society later on become the problem of the oligarchy and aristocracy, which eventually triggers unrest and even leads to revolutions. Thus, Aristotle concludes that all revolutions are carried out in the name of some noble form of distributive justice.

Considering Aristotle's view of how and why regime changes and revolutions emerge, as well as the recent developments in Turkey, one could argue that governmental change is very likely in Turkey, sooner or later.

Even though the ruling party in Turkey is named the “Justice and Development Party,” the recent policies of President Erdoğan provide clear evidence of the failure of distributive justice. Erdoğan is doing everything to prevent the collapse of his power, including manipulating the masses, seizing media companies, bribing the judiciary and controlling other veto players in Turkey's political system. It is therefore safe to predict that the inequality in Turkish society will eventually trigger unrest and may in turn trigger the collapse of the entire system.
Aristotle's words about tyrants help us to understand why President Erdoğan is called a tyrant, like some other dictators in the world:

“Tyranny is the worst regime because the tyrant rules everything for personal good or interest. Plato had already intimated that the most likely source of political tyranny was democracy, where lack of a definite understanding of virtue and murky rule might let a powerful ruler take charge.”

Saudi Arabia (white Daesh) is the father of Isis, says writer

By Roy Greenslade 

One of the commenters to my posting, UK newspapers call on Vladimir Putin to keep calm over downed jet, asked:
“What irreconcilable opposing interests do Russia and the west have? Excuse the naive question, but can someone better informed than me say why Russia’s the enemy and (Erdogan’s) Turkey, Saudi Arabia or Qatar are staunch allies?” - samwisehere
It’s a fair question and reminded me of a challenging op-ed article in the New York Times last Friday, Saudi Arabia, an Isis that has made it, by Kamel Daoud.*
He contrasted the behaviour and culture of Isis (black Daesh) with the state ofSaudi Arabia (white Daesh). He began: “The former slits throats, kills, stones, cuts off hands, destroys humanity’s common heritage and despises archaeology, women and non-Muslims. The latter is better dressed and neater but does the same things.”
But the west wages war on one while shaking hands with the other and forgetting that the kingdom “relies on an alliance with a religious clergy that produces, legitimises, spreads, preaches and defends Wahhabism, the ultra-puritanical form of Islam that Daesh feeds on.”
Daoud described Wahhabism as “a messianic radicalism that arose in the 18th century” which “hopes to restore a fantasised caliphate centered on a desert, a sacred book, and two holy sites, Mecca and Medina.” He continued:
“The west’s denial regarding Saudi Arabia is striking: it salutes the theocracy as its ally but pretends not to notice that it is the world’s chief ideological sponsor of Islamist culture.
The younger generations of radicals in the so-called Arab world were not born jihadists. They were suckled in the bosom of Fatwa Valley, a kind of Islamist Vatican with a vast industry that produces theologians, religious laws, books, and aggressive editorial policies and media campaigns.”
He accepted that Saudi Arabia was a possible target of Daesh but that “overlooks the strength of the ties between the reigning family and the clergy that accounts for its stability — and also, increasingly, for its precariousness.”
For Daoud, the maintenance of good relations with Saudi Arabia undermines “western democracies’ thunderous declarations regarding the necessity of fighting terrorism...
“Since Isis is first and foremost a culture, not a militia, how do you prevent future generations from turning to jihadism when the influence of Fatwa Valley and its clerics and its culture and its immense editorial industry remains intact?”
And he concluded by observing:
“Daesh has a mother: the invasion of Iraq. But it also has a father: Saudi Arabia and its religious-industrial complex. Until that point is understood, battles may be won, but the war will be lost.”
I concede that much of this has been said before. But not often enough, I’m afraid.


Saudi fighter jets have carried out a new round of attacks on residential areas in four provinces in northern Yemen, killing more than a dozen people.
Yemen’s al-Masirah TV said on Monday that Saudi fighter jets launched attacks on various districts in two provinces of Jawf and Sa’ada, killing 15 people.
The report said 10 of the victims were members of a family in Jawf. Five others were killed in attacks which targeted a marketplace in the city of Haydan in Sa’ada, a major stronghold of the Ansarullah movement and a repeated target of Saudi strikes over the past months.
Attacks were also reported in northern province of Sana’a, where several people were injured after Saudi warplanes bombarded houses and shops in Bani Zabyan. Bombs were also dropped in Hamdan city in the same province, with no immediate details available on the potential casualties.
Further to the northwest in Hajjah Province, Saudis attacked at least three cities, namely Mustaba, Hayran and Harad, with reports saying most of the attacks targeted trucks carrying food and agricultural products in the area.
Yemeni forces continue retaliatory attacks
The attacks came as fighters of the Ansarullah, backed by forces of the Yemeni army, continued to launch retaliatory raids on positions of the Saudi forces south of the kingdom, with a report saying that the allied forces managed to destroy an Abrams tank in al-Shurfah region in Jizan Province. The Ansarullah said on its Twitter page that attacks were also launched on al-Faridhah military camp, in south of Saudi Arabia.
Yemen has been witnessing relentless airstrikes by Saudi Arabia since March 26. The military aggression is meant to undermine the Ansarullah movement and bring back to power fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.
The Yemeni Civil Coalition, which monitors the crimes committed during the Saudi aggression against Yemen, says nearly 7,500 people have lost their lives in the Saudi raids. However, the United Nations has put the death toll at 5,700, including 830 women and children.

Rights Groups: U.K.-Made Missile Used in Deadly Strike in Yemen

The Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting in Yemen used a British-made cruise missile in an attack on a Yemeni ceramics factory which killed at least one civilian and injured several more, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.
The rights groups said a team of investigators had found the remnants of PGM-500 "Hakim" missiles, manufactured by the British firm Marconi Dynamics, amongst the rubble of a factory near the capital Sanaa that was hit in September.
"The attack on the factory in the Sanaa governorate, which appeared to be producing only civilian goods, killed one person, and was in apparent violation of international humanitarian law," Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
Britain's foreign minister, Philip Hammond, said earlier this month that he would halt weapons exports to Saudi Arabia if investigations found Riyadh had breached international humanitarian law in the war in Yemen .
Britain granted nearly 4 billion pounds ($6.06 billion) of export licenses for arms to Saudi Arabia in the five prior years according to a 2013 UK parliamentary report, including a consignment of 500lb Paveway IV bombs, used by Typhoon fighter jets manufactured by the British arms company BAE Systems.
Saudi officials could not immediately be reached for a comment on the report.
Rights groups say the vast majority of civilian casualties in Yemen have been caused by the Saudi-led coalition, which has mounted a campaign of air strikes, although the coalition says it is careful to avoid hitting civilians and civilian infrastructure.
Human Rights Watch has also criticized rights violations by the Houthi group that dominates Yemen and its allies, including the use of banned antipersonnel landmines.
Saudi Arabia has since March led an Arab military campaign to restore government authority in Yemen after the Iran-allied Houthi fighters took control of most of the country a year ago.
The war has killed at least 5,700 people and created a humanitarian crisis, exacerbated by the coalition's blockade of Yemeni ports.
Amnesty International has asked the United Nations to investigate allegations that humanitarian law has been broken. It has also accused the Saudi-led coalition of using cluster bombs, banned by most countries.

Paris attacks: How the influence of Saudi Arabia sowed the seeds of radicalism in Belgium

There are many reasons why Belgium has become a hotbed of radical Islamism. Some of the answers may lie in the implanting of Saudi Salafist preachers in the country from the 1960s.
Keen to secure oil contracts, Belgium’s King Baudouin made an offer to Saudi King Faisal, who had visited Brussels in 1967: Belgium would set up a mosque in the capital, and hire Gulf-trained clerics. 

Brussels already had the perfect place. An oriental pavilion designed by Belgian architect Ernest Van Humbeek had been built in the capital’s Cinquantenaire park in 1879, but was falling into disuse. The 1967 deal gave the Saudis a 99-year, rent-free lease. The pavilion was refashioned by the Saudis, opening in 1978 as the Great Mosque of Brussels, as well as the seat of the Islamic and Cultural Centre of Belgium (ICC).At the time, Belgium was encouraging Moroccan and Turkish workers to come into the country as cheap labour. The deal between the two Kings would make the mosque their main place of worship. 
Although the mosque was treated as the official voice of Muslims in Belgium, its radical Salafist teachings came from a very different tradition to the Islam of the new immigrants. Today, there are around 600,000 people of Moroccan and Turkish origin in Belgium, a country of 11 million. 
“The Moroccan community comes from mountainous regions and rift valleys, not the desert. They come from the Maliki school of Islam, and are a lot more tolerant and open than the Muslims from other regions like Saudi Arabia,” says George Dallemagne, a Belgian member of parliament for the centre-right CDH, an opposition party. “However, many of them were re-Islamified by the Salafist clerics and teachers from the Great Mosque. Some Moroccans were even given scholarships to study in Medina, in Saudi Arabia.”
Mr Dallemagne says the Salafist clerics have tried to undermine attempts by Moroccan immigrants to integrate into Belgium. “We like to think Saudi Arabia is an ally and friend, but the Saudis are always engaged in double-talk: they want an alliance with the West when it comes to fighting Shias in Iran, but nonetheless have a conquering ideology when it comes to their religion in the rest of the world,” he said.
Mr Dallemagne has sponsored many resolutions in the Belgian parliament aimed at loosening ties with Saudi Arabia, and reducing the Salafist influence in Belgium. “We can’t have a dialogue with countries that want to destabilise us,” he says. “The problem is that it is only recently that authorities are finally opening their eyes to this.” 
The mosque has sought to send a strong message opposing the latest attacks, with Mohamed Ndiaye, one of the centre’s imams, releasing a statement in the aftermath: “We would like to express our deep sorrow over the Paris attacks. Our thoughts are with the people of Paris and the victims’ families.” Other officials have also come out to repeat the message that Islam is a religion of peace and has nothing to do with the terrorists of Molenbeek.
But the mosque remains a concern for the Belgian government: in August, a WikiLeaks cable revealed that a staff member of the Saudi embassy in Belgium was expelled years ago over his active role in spreading the extreme so-called Takfiri dogma. The cable – between the Saudi King and his Home Minister – referred to Belgian demands that the ICC’s Saudi director, Khalid Alabri, should leave the country, saying that his messages were far too extreme, and that his status as director meant he should not be preaching anyway.

Wesley Clark: ISIS "Serving Interests Of Turkey And Saudi Arabia," "Someone's Buying The Oil ISIS Is Selling"

Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Wesley Clark explains that the existence of the Islamic State helps Sunni countries Turkey and Saudi Arabia geostrategically, by countering the shi'ite powers: Iran, Iraq and Syria. "All along there’s always been the idea that Turkey was supporting ISIS in some way… Someone’s buying that oil that ISIS is selling, it’s going through somewhere, it looks to me like it’s probably going through Turkey, but the Turks haven't acknowledged that." “Let’s be very clear: ISIS [ISIL] is not just a terrorist organization, it is a Sunni terrorist organization. It means it blocks and targets Shia, and that means it’s serving the interests of Turkey and Saudi Arabia even as it poses a threat to them,” Clark said. "There’s no good guy in this, this is a power struggle for the future of the Middle East," concluded Clark.

Video Report - Afghan hospital strike a "tragic mistake": U.S. probe

Hillary Clinton Calls For 'Justice And Accountability' Following Laquan McDonald's Death

Hillary Clinton called Wednesday for justice in the case of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager fatally shot last year by police in Chicago, citing the incident as an example of the need for a larger national conversation about race and policing.

"The family of Laquan McDonald and the people of Chicago deserve justice and accountability," Clinton said in a statement. "As criminal charges proceed in this case, we also have to grapple as a country with broader questions about ensuring that all our citizens and communities are protected and respected. The mothers I met recently in Chicago are right: we cannot go on like this."
The police officer who killed 17-year-old McDonald, Jason Van Dyke, was charged earlier this week with first-degree murder. Newly released police dashcam video shows Van Dyke shooting the teenager 16 times.
The footage, which contradicted officers' accounts of the events, sparked protests in Chicago.
Clinton, along with her Democratic primary rivals, has voiced support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Clinton's campaign says her criminal justice platform includes expanding federal oversight of police departments, including the division that investigates potential civil rights violations.
"All over America, there are police officers honorably doing their duty, demonstrating how to protect the public without resorting to unnecessary force. We need to learn from and build on those examples," she said in the statement. "The loss of so many young African Americans taken too soon should reaffirm our commitment to press forward for progress."

Video - President Obama Awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom - Nov 24, 2015 -

Video - The President Delivers a Statement on National Security

President Obama pardons the ‎National Thanksgiving Turkey 2015

Afghanistan - Ghani’s Pivot Away From Pakistan


Frustrated by Pakistan’s efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has decided to stealfrom former president Hamid Karzai’s playbook, and cozy up to India. One potential consequence? Weakening ties with Pakistan, ties that are likely necessary for peace in the region.
On Nov. 7, Mohammad Hanif Atmar, Ghani’s National Security Adviser, visited New Delhi to secure the delivery of four Mi-25 attack helicopters to support the struggling Afghan security forces — a move likely to irk Pakistan. Further, Deputy Afghan Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai said on Nov. 19 that Atmar provided his Indian counterpart with a military equipment “wish list” at a recent defense cooperation meeting. The delivery of the Russian-built attack helicopters represents India’s first attempt to provide sophisticated weaponry to Afghanistan since the two countries signed a strategic partnership in 2011. In addition to the helicopter request, Afghanistan submitted a proposal for Afghan Special Forces to receive training in India.
Ghani’s push to seek assistance from India comes at a time of increased strain and tension between Pakistan and Afghanistan — a situation reminiscent of Karzai’s gambit in 2014 to seek out India’s support.
In 2014, at the tail end of his time in office, Karzai reached out to India after failing to convince Pakistan to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table. Reeling from a failed 2013 summit in Brussels between Secretary of State John Kerry and Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, then the Chief of Staff of Pakistan’s army, Karzai requested the sale of 105-mm howitzer artillery pieces and medium-lift transport helicopters from India to assist Afghan forces in casualty evacuation operations.
Only a few months later, President Ghani switched gears. He opened his administration with hopes of renewed relations with Pakistan, including the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two countries to share intelligence, a controversial move that received considerable backlash from former Karzai staff and Afghan citizens.
The initial attempts to heal the rift between Pakistan and Afghanistan appeared to be paying dividends on July 8, 2015 in Islamabad, Pakistan, at the opening of the first public peace negotiations between the Taliban and the Kabul government. But after the revelations of Taliban leader Mullah Omar’s death two years earlier and collapse of the peace talks, relations went south, with accusations that Pakistan leaked the news of Omar’s death to stymie peace efforts. Following the collapse of these negotiations, the fractious Taliban movement, under the leadership of Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, made impressive territorial gains, sacking Kunduz on Sep. 28 and taking over large swaths of territory in northern Helmand province including Musa Qala and now Zad.
Ghani’s discontent with Pakistan increased following this year’s brutal spring and summer fighting seasons, which witnessed a record number of Afghan and civilian casualties, coupled with the fall of Kunduz, the first major provincial capital since the Taliban’s overthrow during the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.
The October 2015 announcement that a Pakistani operative was the focus of U.S. airstrikes on the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) facility in Kunduz only widened the rift between Pakistan and Afghanistan, lowering expectations for any future reconciliation between the Taliban and Kabul. American intelligence analysts had tracked an alleged Pakistani operative to the MSF facility, believing this individual was working for Pakistani intelligence and coordinating battlefield efforts for the Taliban in Kunduz. Pakistan has staunchly denied any involvement in the Kunduz operation, rejecting accusations linking its government to direct aid of the Taliban.
No longer willing to rely on Pakistan to end its interventionist policy in Afghanistan, Ghani has decided to revive his predecessor’s strategy and approach Pakistan’s longtime foe, India. It is anyone’s guess whether Ghani’s bold move will pay off, though it is sure to generate anxiety in Pakistan.
But Islamabad has failed to grasp what Afghanistan stands to gain from a stronger relationship with India.
For Kabul, the benefits of strengthened ties between Afghanistan and India go well beyond military hardware. Afghanistan provides India access to Iran’s port of Chabahar, providing India with a direct route to Central Asian markets and facilitating North-South transit trade throughout the region, creating “the Asian roundabout, a key hub of in the revival of the Silk road[sic],” as Ghani said at the BRICS Summit in Ufa, Russia, earlier this year. Strengthening trade ties with Afghanistan allows India to project economic power in the region and demonstrate that its foreign policy is not dictated by Pakistan and China.
By granting India access to the port of Chabahar and the Delaram-Zaranj road, which connects the Afghan-Iranian border town Zaranj to major Afghan roads, Afghanistan offers it an alternative to the Gwader port, a mere 72 km (44 miles) away but under the control of China and Pakistan. It also provides India with a surveillance post to monitor Chinese and Pakistani warships in the region. India and Afghanistan will have to gauge whether the cost-benefit analysis of drawing closer will be worthwhile in the long run. Cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan is vital to achieving peace in the region. India has suffered heavily for interfering in the Pakistan-Afghanistan relationship, as evidenced by the 2008 bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul that left 54 dead. Afghanistan must also be careful of possible responsive Pakistani actions. An October 2015 Congressional Research Service report supports Afghanistan’s claim that Pakistan interferes with Afghan internal affairs and supports proxy elements fighting an undeclared war against Afghanistan. The report states that Pakistan’s objectives in Afghanistan seek to utilize militant groups to counter Indian influence and create strategic in-roads for Pakistan.
Increasingly, Congress and the Obama administration are validating Afghan claims that Pakistan supports militant groups inside Afghanistan. Washington is growing weary of the Islamabad government and its repeated overtures to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table. Prior to the visit of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif this fall, the White House levied threats to pull its financial assistance to the Pakistani military. However, senior American officials reported prior to the prime minister’s visit that the United States would sell Pakistan eight F-16 fighter jets to assist in its counterterrorism efforts, highlighting the regional importance of Pakistan to the United States, and its understanding of Pakistan’s vital role in the Afghan peace process.
It is too soon to tell if Ghani’s India gamble will pay off, though the pressure on Pakistan to change course has certainly been ramped up. With Pakistan’s recent move to invite India’s foreign minister to attend a regional conference on Afghanistan next month, Pakistan is surely feeling the heat.

Pakistan - Terror Financing

The Islamic State, or Daesh as it is commonly known, may not be operationally active in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region, but they might be using it for financing and recruitment purposes. Such a conclusion seems reasonable, since traces of the group were found in the area but they never translated into a permanent presence. However, even in the face of mounting evidence this narrative has been consistently sidelined by the authorities. Recent reports by the US Treasury Department and the British government claim that a portion of the funds poured into Syria have been diverted from Afghanistan and Pakistan, and also point out that that the larger terrorist financing network – which funds groups from the Haqqani Network to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – is still operational, and according to some estimates, relatively unimpeded.
All of this flies in the face of the shinning narrative of success that the military is presenting regarding the military operations and the National Action Plan (NAP). Terrorist financing was one of the first agendas of the NAP, and if groups like Laskar-e-Taiba (LeT) can brazenly collect funds through its charity fronts Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD) and Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) then the NAP has failed. Closing suspected bank accounts and tightening remittance and banking rules are superficial steps if the physical network of financing is still booming. The JUD and the FIF do not even employ subterfuge while carrying out their activities – they don’t feel the need to – the province of Punjab can attest to that.
Stemming the flow of Ramzan donations and intercepting trucks loaded with hides is the simplest of tasks, only if the will to do so is present.
The JUD, LeT and FIF and other Punjab based groups may not be a direct threat to the state at the present, but the state has no control over where the funds generated by them end up. Reports indicate that the final beneficiary are often much more active and insidious groups.
Before the government and the military begin to vociferously deny these allegations it must keep two things in minds. Firstly, it cannot use statements made by the US on the progress of the military operation to claim success – as General Raheel Sharif did at a dinner few days ago – and dismiss negative reports made by the same country as ‘baseless’. Statements made by the US are either legitimate or baseless, they cannot be both. Secondly, the people of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have themselves witnessed the annual fund run by these groups; denial is out of question.
It is about time the military and the government moves beyond paying lip service to the NAP.

Pakistan - Rabbani calls for adopting uniform standards over terror incidents

Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani – who is currently visiting the United Kingdom (UK) - has urged the world to apply uniform standards on all terrorist incidents without any discrimination on the basis of religion, ethnicity or race.

The Senate chairman delivered a public talk on “Building a Strong, Democratic and Prosperous Pakistan” at the prestigious London School of Economics (LSE). He gave a detailed overview of the challenges faced by Pakistan in areas of economy, trade and investment, security and energy.

He also highlighted the strengths of the country including building of democratic institutions, successful fight against terrorism and extremism, revival of the constitution, and devolution of power to the provinces. He said that the restoration of the constitution in Pakistan had not only reinforced democracy and supremacy of parliament, but also restored balance among institutions.

He said that constitutional developments had very promisingly set the course for consolidation of democratic governance, strengthening of federation, greater provincial autonomy, independent judicial system, electoral process and most importantly, the decisive battle against terrorism and violent extremism. He said that the continuity of democratic process was a pre-requisite for development of the country as well as its institutions.

A large number of academia, think-tank notables and students attended the talk. Earlier, the Senate chairman attended a meeting with the officials of the International Growth Centre (IGC) at the LSE, and was briefed about centre’s work in Pakistan. He exchanged views on possible collaboration between the Institute of Parliamentary Services, Islamabad and the LSE.

Minorities in Pakistan: Humanity clouded by hypocrisy

The white crescent and star bordered by the green in the Pakistani flag has waned over time and rightly so; have our actions ever been in alignment to the pledge made to the people of the crescent and star (the minorities)? Sadly, the answer to this vexed question is a blunt no. While we are staunch believers of our principles of morality, what we fail to understand is that this morality is somewhat a product of our distorted sense of righteousness. However, beneath the veneer of our self-proclaimed righteousness is a reality inescapable: the hypocrisy of our society. Just how two-faced we are is vividly apparent in the way we treat our minority community. The minorities have always borne the brunt of sectarian violence and discrimination and during the entire course of events we have not been able to choose for ourselves the right sentiment about peace and freedom. We do vouch for being a patriotic, patient and peace-loving nation; however, we have never been able to live up to the true meaning of these notions. When Pakistan was created, we pledged to confer upon the minorities’ equal treatment as that of the Muslims; we vowed to protect and shelter them. Sadly, the reality is far from these flowery promises made at the time of need.
However, our history is laden with bloody instances of honour killings and sectarian violence, enough to swiftly set back any positive development that we might be proud of. Pakistan has long been stigmatised of the menace of stereotyping religious communities and marginalising them in the name of majority’s interpretation of religion. In addition, the recent perilous trend of “mob justice” is really worrisome and should be dealt with priority. While reading the newspaper yesterday, I came across the news “mob sets Jhelum factory ablaze over blasphemy allegations”. Not to my surprise, the factory owner was an Ahmadi. Without delving into the religious aspect of these debates, one must, at the very least, condemn the atrocity. As per the reports, several people were in the building while it was set on fire. It seems as if history is repeating itself; the acceptance of the Ahmadi community is still a hazy dream we all wish would come true.
The 1970s witnessed the worst examples of sectarian violence in Pakistan that led to the widespread violence against Shia and Ahmadi communities in the country. Children were butchered, graves destroyed, women raped and killed and men slaughtered in the most inhumane ways imaginable. The unlettered and benighted constituted a major faction of those who supported and perpetrated this savagery towards the minorities. The elites and the liberals chose to raise their voices in favour of protecting these communities in order to uphold the very promises Pakistan was established on. However, no action was taken to actually stop the violence.
The situation might have decreased by a notch in the physical sense of violence; however, the verbal abuses and attacks are ever increasing, with emphasis on hurting the sentiments of the minorities on every occasion possible. Is this really the dream we set out to achieve in order to stand strong as one united front, as one nation, Pakistan? What are the requirements that a minority should fulfill to escape the social tyranny at the hands of incognizant people? We have seen countless examples of Christian and Shia communities bribing their way into protecting their lives.
In certain instances, minorities have also been forced to forge their names in order to camouflage themselves with the majority populations so that they may be treated with equality and given opportunities as other people of their caliber.However, it should have been our responsibility to prevent the situation from escalating to such an unprecedented mess. Even if we consider them to be wrong in their practice of religion and social life, these acts cannot be warranted under the guise of religion. Just like we expect the West and our “hostile neighbour” to safeguard the interests and sanctity of life and property of the Muslims, others expecting the same attitude from us towards our minorities, is fully justified. Failing to meet such expectations just indicates our deep-rooted hypocrisy.
As strange as it may sound, Ahmadis have never been a part of any notorious plan of exacting revenge for the persecution that they have suffered at the hands of bigots, yet we, the majority, have always tainted this community with allegations of blasphemy and hence cornered it. This country was built on the foundations of a promise, which spoke for religious and social egalitarianism. It is time that this promise is duly paid heed to and that this trust which binds the varying sects in our society, is honoured. Ahmadis deserve to be fought for and protected. It’s time we raise our voice towards injustice and dedicate our time and energy as well as our tweets and Facebook statuses to start a campaign against the perpetrators of these heinous crimes. Or would this underprivileged community have to become Syrian, French or Burmese to get noticed for suffering such a monstrosity?

Muslim Atrocities In Pakistan Cause Activists To Wonder, Where's The Outrage?

Last Friday, a Pakistani mob of violent protesters burned down a factory owned by Ahmadis, a minority Muslim community in Pakistan. Members of the mob had accused one of the factory workers of blasphemy, and a night of mayhem ensued. Police couldn’t contain the mob -- and went as far as to assure the rioters that the “blasphemers” would be punished. The next morning, the  rampage continued when the mob torched an Ahmadi mosque in the same city of Jhelum in the Punjab province.
Kashif Chaudhry, a cardiologist in Boston who was born and raised in Pakistan, watched the news unfold with horror. The incident was shocking, but in many ways, not suprising: Pakistan is notorious for its violent perecutation of the Ahmadiyya community, a worldwide reformist movement in Islam. Ahmadis are declared non-Muslims by the Pakistani constitution and can be imprisoned or killed for practicing their religion.
Chaudhry, an Ahmadi Muslim who left Pakistan because of such persecution, noticed something else: Many of his Muslim friends and acquaintances back home in Pakistan couldn’t be bothered to speak out against the atrocities. But what bothered him even more was that, in this hyper-connected social media age, those same Muslims were vocally bemoaning the treatment of Muslim minorities in countries like the United States and France. The hypocrisy frustrated him.
Chaudhry is not alone. Many Muslim activists say that Muslims need to vocally decry injustice when it is Muslims themselves who perpetrated it against other minorities -- or risk fueling the Islamophobia they say is rampant in the West. To not do so, and yet hold Western countries to a standard they don’t apply to Muslim ones, only hurts Muslims themselves.
“With the recent rise of Islamophobia in the United States, most Pakistanis have suddenly become experts on minority rights. My social media timelines are filled with Pakistanis urging the West to accommodate Syrian refugees escaping persecution, and be more accepting of pluralism. I also see my countrymen condemning the Western media for having double standards, and not giving enough airtime to aggrieved Muslims. Many have also erupted in fury over Donald Trump’s recent Islamophobic comments,” Chaudhry wrote in an op-ed for the Express-Tribune, an English-language newspaper in Pakistan.
We want Europe/US to be kind to their muslim minorities & show tolerance but we show none as we round up Ahmadies to burn them alive