Thursday, December 24, 2015


A member of the Bundestag said that the global fight against terrorism is not united at the moment, as the United States and Europe are allies with Saudi Arabia which allegedly funds terrorist organizations.
The global fight against terrorism is not united at the moment, as the United States and Europe are allies with Saudi Arabia which allegedly funds terrorist organizations, Sahra Wagenknecht, member of the Bundestag, said, Sputnik reported.
"Saudi Arabia is not a terrorist organization but it is a country which… finances terrorist formations, and despite this, this country is an ally of the United States and Europe, so unfortunately the fight against terrorism at this moment is not a united fight," Wagenknecht said in a documentary that was broadcast Sunday, on the Rossiya 1 television channel.
Last week, Saudi Arabia announced the creation of an Islamic military alliance of 34 states to fight terrorism. The joint operation command center will be based in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia is also a member of a US-led coalition of over 60 countries that has been conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or Daesh) militant group in Iraq and Syria since September 2014, without the approval of the Syrian government or the UN Security Council.
Russia has been carrying out precision airstrikes against ISIL, having outlawed it, in Syria since September 30, at the request of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Wiretapped calls reveal communication between Turkish officers and ISIS – report

Turkish officers on the Syrian border have communicated with Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, Turkey's Cumhuriyet daily reported, citing an investigation by the Ankara Chief Prosecutor's office which allegedly eavesdropped on their phone calls.
The wiretapping reportedly took place last year as part of an investigation into six missing Turkish citizens, the Cumhuriyet reported. The relatives of those missing believed they might have joined the ranks of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants. 
An investigation was launched into as many as 27 suspects, some of them in Syria, the report revealed.
The Chief Prosecutor's office reportedly received permission to wiretap the phones of 19 people who were thought to have put the six missing persons in touch with Islamic State. The investigation reportedly revealed that those who wanted to join IS ranks received some form of “ideological training.”
The file on the investigation is said to have been handed over to the Military Prosecutor's office in March, after the Ankara Prosecutor's office deemed the issue outside of its jurisdiction, according to the Turkish newspaper.
“Those [who joined ISIS] from Ankara often used [the] Elbeyli district [of Kilis] as a throughway by traveling via Gaziantep and Kilis to the village of Able, which is subordinated to Syria's Al-Bab district,” the report said, as cited by newspaper Today’s Zaman.
A note written in one of the transcripts for the wiretappings allegedly states that the person designated in the transcript as “X2” is considered to be a member of the military, the Cumhuriyet reported.
One of the conversations is said to be as follows:
--Yes, brother.
X2: We are on the mined land where I delivered the vehicle. We have put our lights on. [We have the] material on us; come here with your men from that side…
Ankara has recently faced a number of accusations alleging it has bought oil from IS and let terrorists freely pass through Turkey's border with Syria. A newly-leaked report on illegal oil sales by Islamic State, compiled at the request of Norway, revealed that most of the IS-smuggled oil has been destined for Turkey, where it is sold off at bargain low prices.
In early December, the Russian Defense Ministry also released evidence which it said shows most of the illegal oil trade by IS goes to Turkey. Ankara has denied the allegations.

Iraqi MP and former national security adviser, Mowaffak al Rubaie, told RT on Tuesday there is “mounting evidence” from all over the world, including Iraq, that “Turkey is playing not a very clean game,” when it comes to Islamic State.
“Turkish authorities need to do a lot more than what they are doing now to come clean from the accusations that they are siding [with], or at least that they are turning a blind eye to, the movement of these terrorists from Turkey to Syria and Iraq and vice versa,” the MP said.

Russia and India support Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity — joint statement

Russia and India have voiced staunch support for Syria’s sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a joint statement after talks in Moscow.

The sides agreed that the internal armed conflict in Syria cannot be resolved by force and can be settled only by political and diplomatic means - through substantive intra-Syrian dialogue without any preliminary conditions or external interference and on the basis of the Geneva Communique of June 30, 2012; the Joint Statement on results of multilateral talks on Syria in Vienna of October 30, 2015 and a statement of the International Syria Support Group adopted on November 14, 2015, the document said. Russia and India voiced resolute and decisive support for the people and government of Iraq in their efforts to overcome the current crisis and defend the country’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Russian and Indian leaders said in their joint statement stressing the importance of reaching national reconciliation and unity in Iraq by forming an inclusive state system and strengthening national democratic institutions by creation of relevant opportunities.

Moscow, New Delhi stand close on acute international issues Russian President Vladimir Putin has pointed to the proximity of positions Moscow and New Delhi take on acute international issues. "It is important Russia and India make similar approaches to key international problems. Our countries are for a political settlement of the conflict in Syria and promotion of national reconciliation in Afghanistan," Putin told the media after talks with India’s visiting Prime Minister Narendra Modi. "We are certain that it is in the interests of the world community to form a wide anti-terrorist coalition operating on the basis of international law and under the auspices of the United Nations," Putin said. The Russian leader said that Moscow would like to see India’s still greater role in addressing global and regional issues. "We believe that India is a great power that conducts a balanced and responsible foreign policy and is one of the most worthy candidates for taking the seat of a permanent member on the UN Security Council," Putin said. He recalled that Moscow had "strongly supported India’s accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and that the two countries were actively cooperating within the BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), where India will take the rotating presidency in February 2016.


Video Report - India to buy Russian S-400 & warships in $7bn deal

Video - How the Republicans Steal Progress

How the Republicans Steal Progress

The American people like progress a lot… but the grinches in GOPville? It seems they do not.

Posted by Hillary Clinton on Monday, December 21, 2015

Video - Hillary Clinton: Smart leadership for the 21st Century

Hillary Clinton Seizes on Donald Trump’s Remarks to Galvanize Women

After Hillary Clinton attacked Donald J. Trump for proposing to bar Muslims from entering the United States, calling him “ISIS’ best friend,” Mr. Trump’s response Monday night was angry and vulgar. He said her bathroom break during Saturday’s Democratic debate was “disgusting,” and he used a crude sexual reference to describe her defeat by Barack Obama for the 2008 nomination.
Mrs. Clinton’s aides could barely believe their good fortune. Mr. Trump had just given them new fodder to galvanize women behind her candidacy — and they used it. “We are not responding to Trump,” Mrs. Clinton’s communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, responded to Mr. Trump, almost gleefully, on Twitter. “But everyone who understands the humiliation this degrading language inflicts on all women should,” she added, tacking on the campaign’s girl-power hashtag #ImWithHer.
Behind the scenes, the Clinton campaign mobilized a wide network of female supporters to denounce Mr. Trump as “sexist,” as a practitioner of “pathetic, frat-boy politics,” and as more suited to running for “president of the fourth-grade football team.”
For months, Mrs. Clinton’s strategy was to hang Mr. Trump’s more outrageous pronouncements around the necks of other Republican contenders, seeking to portray the party’s entire field as extreme. But by going after Mr. Trump more assertively now than most of his Republican rivals have dared, Mrs. Clinton is projecting strength, and she is calculating that women, especially young voters, will reward her. In an interview with The Des Moines Register late Tuesday, Mrs. Clinton said of Mr. Trump, “It’s not the first time he’s demonstrated a penchant for sexism.”
Combativeness, after all, plays into Mrs. Clinton’s campaign theme: The blue “Hillary” signs that blanket her rallies carry the slogan “Fighting for us” in big block letters. But poking at Mr. Trump is not risk-free. He is unlike any rival Mrs. Clinton has confronted before, and has proved willing to say almost anything.
On Wednesday night, Mr. Trump posted a cryptic warning shot at Mrs. Clinton on Twitter. “Hillary, when you complain about a ‘penchant for sexism,’ who are you referring to,” he wrote. “BE CAREFUL.” On Tuesday, Mrs. Clinton’s allies continued to join the fray: Emily’s List, which raises money for female candidates who support abortion rights, released an open letter calling on other Republican candidates to denounce Mr. Trump’s remarks.
“You have a chance to step up and do something about Donald Trump,” the letter read. “Most of you are, frankly, a lot smarter than he is. You at least know enough to try to hide your anti-woman policies behind the nice things you say about the women that you know.” The comments by Mr. Trump in Michigan on Monday night, and the Clinton campaign’s aggressive response, rattled some in the Republican Party, whose leaders urged candidates to show more sensitivity to women after Representative Todd Akin provoked ire in 2012 for referring to “legitimate rape.”
“It’s not O.K.,” said Katie Packer Gage, a Republican strategist whose firm, Burning Glass Consulting, focuses on improving the party’s standing with women. “Guess what?” she added. “It takes a girl longer to go to the bathroom because they can’t go standing up. Polite society suggests we don’t talk about these things.” The Clinton campaign’s emboldened new posture toward Mr. Trump grew from months of watching how his Republican rivals struggled to challenge him. While the other candidates for the Republican presidential nomination tread carefully to avoid antagonizing Mr. Trump’s supporters, for Mrs. Clinton, hitting hard offers immediate benefits. It shows that she is unafraid of him, Democratic strategists said. And by focusing on Mr. Trump’s more extreme comments, Mrs. Clinton could excite the growing list of constituencies he has directly offended, as well as a broad range of voters who see Mr. Trump as a corrosive presence in the presidential campaign. “The contrast between her and Donald Trump could not be clearer,” Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, said after Saturday’s debate.
“The more Trump is out there,” he added, “the more these differences are clear, and what’s at stake for the middle class, both in the economy and in defeating ISIS.” Mrs. Clinton’s assertion in the debate that the Islamic State was “showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists” amounted to something of a turning point. Though journalists and Republicans found no evidence of such videos, Mrs. Clinton’s aides refused to take back her assertion. Mr. Trump, so often called on to admit to a falsehood or apologize, demanded a retraction from Mrs. Clinton. “Hell, no,” Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, replied. Kellyanne Conway, a Republican pollster who heads a “super PAC” supporting Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, said she saw advantages in Mrs. Clinton’s failure to back up her assertion about militants using Mr. Trump’s comments as a recruitment tool. “Polls show a majority of Americans believe that Mrs. Clinton is not trustworthy,” Ms. Conway said. “Telling a lie feeds the fire and opens a new front in the character wars.” She added, “Swing voters won’t care that she took a bathroom break, but they will care that she seems willing to say anything to get elected.”
Republican candidates were quick to defend the Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly after Mr. Trump seemed to suggest that she had been unfairly tough on him during a debate because she was menstruating. But so far, party insiders have mainly demurred from criticizing Mr. Trump’s latest boundary-breaking remarks, because publicly defending a Democratic rival, even if it appeases female voters, could prove problematic.
Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky even joined in the mockery. “Carly Fiorina has ZERO trouble making it back from commercial breaks,” he wrote in a Twitter post that Mrs. Fiorina, who has had her own run-ins with Mr. Trump’s gendered attacks, promptly retweeted.
Even some Democrats cautioned that Mrs. Clinton should not get carried away with combativeness toward Mr. Trump.
“Long term, we need to be careful of not unifying the Republicans” against Mrs. Clinton, said Stephanie Cutter, a former senior adviser to President Obama, “when they’re doing a good job of knifing each other.”

Video - 10-year-old moves Clinton with question about bullying

President Obama expected to issue executive order on gun laws

 National groups on both sides of the gun debate say they are expecting President Barack Obama to issue an executive action in the next few weeks that would close what gun control groups say are loopholes that allow criminals to avoid background checks.
Groups from the Newtown Action Alliance after the 2012 shooting of 20 children and 6 adults at a Connecticut elementary school, and the Gun Owners of America are expecting the executive order to narrow exemptions intended to excuse those who sell only few guns from conducting the checks.
Current law exempts checks if sellers sell firearms only “occasionally” and are not “engaged in the business” of selling guns.
Critics, though, say those terms, though are so vague they have opened the door to the sale of hundreds of guns to criminals and those with histories of domestic abuse, particularly at gun shows and online.
They are already planning to sue. In anticipation of the move, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, also introduced legislation Monday voiding any Obama executive order that infringes on the Second Amendment or Congress’ powers is only advisory unless enacted by lawmakers.
“What we’re expecting is for Obama to try doing something illegal,” said Michael Hammonds, legal counsel for the Gun Owners of America. “I don’t think he cares any more if what he does is legal.”
He called a move narrowing the order a legal “Hail Mary” by a president frustrated at not being able to push tougher gun laws through Congress.
The National Rifle Association’s national office, however, did not return calls and e-mails for comment. Doug DuBois, Jr., executive director of the Texas State Rifle Association, said in a statement to CNHI, “The Executive Order has not been explained and it is speculation at this time as to what would be impacted.”
Still, Hammonds, Newtown Action Alliance chairwoman Po Murray, and Everytown for Gun Safety legal counsel, Jonas Oransky told CNHI they expect the order to deal with the exemptions.
Gun rights groups have focused on the issue, even taking out ads on Washington, D.C. taxis.
Twenty-four Democratic senators, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, wrote Obama Nov. 23 urging him to address a “loophole that allows guns to be sold without a background check by eliminating the ambiguity surrounding the term ‘engaged in business.’”
The White House has not revealed Obama’s plans but senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said at a vigil for the Newtown shootings two weeks ago the president has urged his aides to submit a plan to him “in short order.”
Everytown for Gun Safety, said ambiguity over the exemptions have prevented prosecutors from winning illegal gun sale cases. That’s kept prosecutors from even trying to prosecute some cases, the group said in a Nov. 12 report on the issue
The report found only 30 percent of defendants accused of not doing background checks despite being “engaged in the business” of selling the weapons were convicted. In half of such cases that went to trial, the defendant was acquitted by a jury, the report said.
IN 2011, for instance, the group said a Florida jury acquitted a man accused the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives of selling more than 400 guns between 2006 and 2010 at as many as 25 gun shows a year, and making as much as $50,000 in a year.
His attorney argued for the acquittal saying, “’You know, it would be easy if we had a law that says you can sell 50 firearms in a year, or 10 firearms or 100, but that’s not what it is,’” the group quoted the attorney as saying.
The push also comes after a high profile cases involving guns bought from gunshows or online. Wisconsin Democrat Rep. Gwen Moore wrote Armslist, a Noble, Oklahoma-based online gun sales site, in 2012 after a Wisconsin man, Radcliff Haughton shot and killed his wife and two other people in a spa.
Haughton was barred from buying or possessing a firearm because his wife had obtained a restraining order against him. But he was able to avoid a background check and buy a gun from an unlicensed seller on the site, Moore wrote the company.
“While licensed gun dealers are required by federal law to conduct background checks, private sellers are not. For Haughton, this lethal loophole made breaking the law to buy a .40-caliber handgun as easy as searching the Internet,” Moore wrote.
Neither the site nor its attorney returned an e-mail seeking comment.
Oransky acknowledged in an interview that Obama can not eliminate the exemption without a vote of Congress. But he said the administration has the discretion to define what the terms mean.
The group is recommending the executive action clarify a person is not an “occasional seller” if they sell more than 25 guns in a year. The group also said factors like whether sellers deal unused guns or guns in their original packaging, or if they resell the firearms shortly after acquiring them, should be factored in.
Such an action would stand up in court, Oransky said. Statements made by members of Congress show the exemptions created in the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act were never to cover those selling a handful of guns.
But Hammonds said even a 25-gun limit could impact those just trying to sell their collections. “Gun groups claim there’s a loophole, whenever gun rights exist,” Hammonds said.
Sen. James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, opposed unilateral action by Obama. “Time and again this president turns to executive orders when he can’t get his way legislatively.

“We have seen that these unilateral actions do not hold up in court. Instead of focusing on preventing more terrorist attacks, Obama and his administration are working to make it harder for law-abiding citizens to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights through policies that would not have stopped any of the recent mass shootings,” Inhofe said.

President Obama Prays for Persecuted Christians This Christmas


President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that he and his wife Michelle are praying for persecuted Christians as the world prepares to celebrate Christmas.

Obama noted that the Islamic State's occupation of some areas will mean Christians there will have to keep their beliefs and celebrations quiet.

"In some areas of the Middle East where church bells have rung for centuries on Christmas Day, this year they will be silent," Obama said in a statement released by the White House.

"This silence bears tragic witness to the brutal atrocities committed against these communities by ISIL," he said, referring to the acronym used for the Islamic State which controls territories in Syria and Iraq.

Obama has been criticized by Republicans in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail for being too soft on refugees who are fleeing the Islamic State, the majority of whom are Muslim.

Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz has proposed allowing only Christian refugees into the United States, a suggestion the White House has derided.

Cruz has argued that Christian refugees do not threaten U.S. national security in the same way the Muslims do.

As the Obamas prepare to celebrate Christmas on Friday in Hawaii, the president said in the statement that he and his wife Michelle are "ever-mindful" that "many of our fellow Christians do not enjoy do not enjoy that right" to celebrate openly.

Obama said they "hold especially close to our hearts and minds those who have been driven from their ancient homelands by unspeakable violence and persecution."

He quoted a Christmas carol: "The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail, With peace on earth, good-will to men."

Pakistan - Nasty Christmas Present for Islamabad Christians

Pakistan’s Supreme Court has just received a report they required from Islamabad’s Capital Development Agency (CDA) in which they were ordered to justify their next planned clearance of a slum in the capital city. 

It contained a very nasty Christmas present for the Christian inhabitants of those slum dwellings – this formal submission by an accredited government agency called them ugly and a stain to be removed, providing further evidence of the ongoing direct religious discrimination by the Pakistani government against Christians in pretty much every sphere of life. 

It wants them to be removed back to their ‘native areas’, despite some of them having been born in the slums, and many others having lived there for two decades or more. Some of them have had to flee from other slums within Islamabad after religious violence, particularly after the false accusations of blasphemy against the 12 year old Christian girl Rimsha Masih a few years ago. 

These are desperately poor Christians, many of whom have fled to the capital escaping extreme persecution, including blasphemy threats, in their home areas. Many of them actually work for the CDA as street cleaners and the like, whilst the women and children work for the better off families, but the whilst the elite and the authorities use their services, they have not provided housing for them.European Parliament mission led by Mr. Peter van Dalen (Netherlands), Mr. Arne Gericke (Germany) and Mr. Marek Jurek (Poland) visited Pakistan between 2 -5 November, 2015. The mission aims at a fact finding on blasphemy laws in Pakistan and their application. The delegation met high interlocutors from the government and representative of the civil society. During the meeting with advisor to the Prime Minister Sartaj Aziz, EU delegation demanded to carry out thorough review of the blasphemy law and its current application, in particular section 295-B & C of the penal code. 

Peter Van Dalen, a lead delegate said that EU believes that there is now momentum for Pakistan to start closing the dark chapter of its blasphemy legislation. By doing so, Pakistan would apply its founding principles, as well as its international obligations under for example the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the conditions attached to GSP+ trade benefits granted by the EU. 

The EU parliament delegation has handed over the handout to the high officials including Sartaj Aziz and other high officials and demanded the safety of the minority rights. It said “the legislation which is supposed to protect and safeguard instead has drenched large parts of Pakistan’s society in fear. During the recent decade the security situation has gone to worse in Pakistan. Especially minorities of the country feel insecure in Pakistan thus Pakistan stands in the top ten source countries of people seeking asylum in the EU.” The EU parliamentarian said that the blasphemy law direct or indirectly affect them as well. The children are often starving, and such families often essentially have to sell themselves into slavery to survive. 

These Pakistani Christians face many other problems; They are forced to live in and around the ‘seasonal drainage’ areas of Islamabad, which flood every year, but there is no provision made for their recovery, or for their safety, so they lose most of what little they have every year. Furthermore, the CDA does not provide proper drainage or sewerage, pure water, gas, or regular electricity. There plight was brought to the attention of EU ministers last month after our officer Shamim Masih highlighted their plight ( click here). Despite the visit of the EU Ministers it seems the plight of these suffering Christians has worsened. 

The background is that the Islamabad High Court has ordered the demolition of slums in the capital (a great many of them Christian), and a number of them have already been razed. However, this time the Supreme Court has ordered the CDA to give justification for the demolition of the next slum. 

Their response to this order has been a document which has described Christians and their dwelling places repeatedly in the most insulting terms, portraying these desperate internal refugees as land-grabbing migrants, and their ‘ugly villages’ as blots on the beautiful capital city. Not only that, but the CDA report actually states that these internal refugees should be removed because they present a threat to the Muslim majority nature of the capital city. 

It is necessary to identify the fact that most of the katchi abadis [slums] are under the occupation of the Christian community who are shifted from Narowal, Sheikhupura, Sialkot, Kasur, Sahiwal and Faisalabad and occupied the Government land so badly as if it has been allotted to them and it seems this pace of occupation of land may affect the Muslim majority of the capital. 

Some activists on the ground estimated this will force about 150,000 Christians out and onto the streets in the worst of the winter weather. 

The CDA has offered no alternative housing or land, and no compensation, despite the constitution of Pakistan guaranteeing the right of shelter to every citizen. 

Local politicians describe this as part of the current government party’s (the Pakistani Muslim’s League) long-standing animosity towards Christians, claiming a major party leader was behind the burning of 200 Christian homes and several churches in the St Joseph's Colony of Lahore in 2013. They suggest that the CDA has a policy to remove Christians from Islamabad.They also believe that it is targeting lucrative land which is near the centre of the capital, and after having played the terror card (see below), they are now using religion as a justification. 

According to an Al-Jazeera report, the report also claimed the slums were home to Afghan terrorists and were breeding grounds for all sorts of criminality. It also reports that as well as just saying the slums were a blot on the beauty of the city, it is also a blot against the beauty of Islam, showing the explicitly religiously motivated nature of the move: "Removal of katchi abadies is very urgent to provide a better environment to the citizens of Islamabad and to protect the beauty of Islam." 

British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) chairman Wilson Chowdhry commented: "Again we see the institutionalized apartheid that Pakistani Christians face, on top of government agencies and hospitals publicly restricting cleaning to jobs to Christians only, we now have a premier government agency explicitly targeting Christians for their faith. The real blot on the ‘beauty of Islam’ has been CDA’s failure to provide accommodation of any reasonable sort for the serfs on whose backs they stand to make the city of Islamabad work. There may well be criminality breeding in those slums, but that is inevitable when poor people are so discriminated against that they have no other option to survive. The CDA are trying to sweep under the rug a problem largely of their own making. We are glad the Supreme Court has put a stay on these demolitions for now, and we call upon the CDA to actually do something positive for the slum dwellers, not treat them like worst-class citizens whilst they and the elite suck up their lives and treat them like dirt." 

The CDA claims that it has good relations with the Christian community. 

Its spokesman told Al-Jazeera: "This community is part of Islamabad and we ensure that we look after their places of worship and their religious events.....I can't comment on the Supreme Court reply because that is in court now, but we appreciate the community and its effort and our reply has been taken out of context by some." 

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Pakistani Christians - Children of Shahzad and Shama Bibi still live in fear as they yearn for their parents

Children of the Christian couple burnt alive in brick kiln over blasphemy accusation yearn for their parents this Christmas.
The ordeal of November 4, 1024 has left a lasting impact on the lives of three children of the Christian couple which was lynched by a mob. Their life collapsed when their parents were falsely accused of committing blasphemy by throwing pages of the Holy Quran in their rubbish. As a result of the allegations, the Christian couple was then lynched and burnt while still alive on a brick kiln by a fuming mob.
However, these three children have left Kot Radha Kishan, and have settled in Lahore along with their maternal grand father. The children have been admitted in schools and almost all necessities of life have been provided to them by Christian charities, nonetheless, the children still long for parents.
”The children often cry for their parents,” their maternal grandfather says, while adding that even after time has passed, the Christian family still lives in fear. Soon after the incident five other Christian families fled from the village fearful for their lives.
The anxiety which the three children and their maternal grandfather have had to under go since the ordeal began; carries on despite the fact that the authorities have taken some measures to protect people being entangled in fake blasphemy accusations. Shahzad and Shama were in due course found to be falsely accused of committing blasphemy.

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Pakistan & so called Saudi alliance - ''Yet another military alliance''

Mohsin Raza Malik

After a brief initial denial, the Foreign Office spokesperson has confusingly confirmed Pakistan’s participation in the proposed Saudi-led anti-terror military alliance. Earlier in last week, the Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister Muhammad Bin Salman formally announced the formation of 34-state ‘Islamic military alliance’ to ‘coordinate’ efforts to fight terrorism in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan. With joint headquarters located In Riyadh, the proposed military alliance will endeavour to “protect the Islamic nation from the evils of all terrorist groups and organidations’’.
Strangely, the Saudi government did not even bother to specifically mention the name of Middle Eastern monster ISIS whose terrorist activities have become a matter of serious concern not only for the Muslim countries but also the entire world community. The specifics regarding the operational strategy, anti-terror modus operandi, command and control and composition of the proposed alliance are still being awaited. The countries like Pakistan, Malaysia and Lebanon also expressed their surprise over including them in this alliance without their permission, or even a prior knowledge. The ambiguous and controversial launch of this military alliance is sufficient to predict its immediate effectiveness and future relevance.
In fact, the instant decision made by Pakistan to join this mysterious military alliance has raised many eyebrows in the country. The ISPR has yet not officially reacted to this important development. However, now it is also being speculated the COAS General Raheel Sharif had already pledged military support to the Saudis for the future military alliance during his last month’s visit to Saudi Arabia. The Pak-Saudi joint military exercise Al Shihab-1 has also recently been concluded in Pakistan. Suggesting a ‘global response’ to Daesh in Middle East, the DG ISPR has already declared that Pakistan would not send its troops for any mission outside the region. The current silence maintained by the government over this issue is not understandable as Pakistan has been pursuing the policy of non-involvement and non-interference in the intra-Arabs conflicts for a long time. Essentially in accordance with this policy, Pakistan has refused to join the Saudi-led military coalition against Yemen this year as well as the recently-proposed US-led global military alliance against the ISIS after last month’s Paris attacks.
The UN Security Council, through its Resolution 2249, authorized a global military campaign against the ISIS in Iraq and Syria following the deadly Paris attacks last month. Nevertheless, we have yet not witnessed a befitting global response to significantly curb ISIS militancy in the Syria and Iraq. Soon after the Paris incident, the Russia-Turkey confrontation instantly triggered when Turkey downed a Russian jet in its territory. After this, the California firing incident in the US attracted the considerable global attention. These two consecutive incidents somehow eclipsed the Paris Incident diluting the global resolve to fight against ISIS in the Middle East.
Presently, the Russia-Iran-Hezbollah Axis is proactively and physically fighting against the ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Now the US and Saudi Arabia are going to lead two parallel military alliances in the Middle East apparently to contain ISIS. Strangely, both countries have unanimously decided to deliberately keep the conventional opponents of ISIS, the Russia, Iran and pro-Iran forces, away from the proposed military coalitions. This dichotomy is absolutely incomprehensible. Previously, in order to conveniently defeat its enemies, the US has extensively exploited anti-Taliban factions in Afghanistan and anti-Saddam elements in Iraq. The current non-inclusive strategy adopted by the front-runners of both military alliances necessarily shows their sincerity and seriousness to eliminate ISIS in this region.
As a matter of fact, instant extinction of ISIS in Iraq and Syria is not in line with the broader strategic interests of the United States, Turkey and GCC countries including the Saudi Arabia. The US and GCC countries are actively opposing the Iran and pro-Iran elements in the region, namely the Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah. Similarly, Turkey has also been deeply concerned about the rising influence and strength of Kurds in this region. Therefore, these countries would hardly wish to eliminate ISIS which is effectively serving their national objectives. There have also been many conspiracy theories regarding the pioneer role played by certain global powers and Israel in the formation of ISIS in the Middle East. Similarly, it is also a known fact that Saudi Arabia has been providing moral and material support to the ISIS affiliates. Recently, Russia has also accused Turkey of supporting ISIS monetarily by secretly purchasing oil from it.
In the late 1960s, various Muslims visionary leaders, including the King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, sagaciously decided to establish the OIC, an all-inclusive organisation of Muslim states to safeguard the interests of Muslim World. Saudi Arabia, being the custodian of two holiest places, has been enjoying the unequivocal support and utmost respect in the Muslim world. Regrettably, instead of playing a pivotal role in fostering peace and brotherhood within the Muslim Ummah, it deliberately pursued such selfish policies which have been instrumental in the ideological and sectarian polarisation of the polity. Over a period of time, it has developed a fierce rivalry and enmity with the Iran. In its hate and antagonism for Iran, it has gone to such extent that now it feels no hesitation at all to join hands with a Zionist state like Israel to harm Iran. Therefore, sharing a common enemy- Iran, both Saudi Arabia and Israel have become s sort of strategic allies in the Middle East. This is the very reason both countries strongly and aggressively opposed the Iran Nuclear Deal Framework brokered by so-called P5+1 countries this year.
Rendering the OIC an ineffective, inoperative and toothless body, Saudi Arabia and its satellite Gulf States have chosen to fortify their positions in the region by establishing the organisations like GCC and Peninsula Security Force. In this way, the so called Pan-Islamism has deliberately been replaced by ‘Pan-Gulfism’. Saudi Arabia has also played an important role in fueling proxy wars in many Middle Eastern countries. It is also frequently blamed for promoting its religious ideology and supporting a particular sectarian group in many Muslim countries. Some months ago, it also exhibited irresponsible behaviour while attacking a small neighbouring Muslim state Yemen making things even worse to the disadvantage of helpless Yemeni people. Now what is the moral foundation for the ‘divine right’ of Saudi Arabia to lead the Muslim world? What will be the credibility of the proposed Saudi-led military alliance? It is being feared that Saudi Arabia will selfishly exploit this alliance to advance its strategic agenda in the region.
Owing to multiple reasons, the bilateral relations between Pakistan and Iran have long been strained. Taking advantage from this ‘Pak-Iran bilateral vacuum’, India has now fostered close relations with Iran to the disadvantage of Pakistan. India has also successfully secured a land access to Afghanistan through Iran. Now India has also connected the Afghanistan to the outside world through Iran’s Chabahar port, minimising the land-locked country’s dependence on Pakistan. Over the last couple of years, India has substantially consolidated its position in Afghanistan primarily to destabilise Pakistan through various disruptive terrorist activities. Had Pakistan developed close relationship with Iran, India would have not gotten the opportunity to fortify itself in Afghanistan. Regrettably, obsessed with idea of fostering close ties with the oil-rich ‘leader of Muslim Ummah’, Pakistan’s strategists and foreign policy formulators have constantly been ignoring this resource-rich and strategically-crucial Muslim neighbouring state. At this stage, Pakistan’s participation in the proposed Saudi-led military alliance will irk Iran making things worse for us in the region, particularly in Afghanistan, undermining our domestic counter- terror efforts.
At present, in the face of grave internal security challenges and volatile regional security situation, Pakistan can hardly afford to actively join the shady and ambiguous military alliance led by Saudi Arabia in the Middle East. Therefore, Pakistan should keep sticking to its current policy of non-involvement in the Middle Eastern conflicts. Pakistan’s active military cooperation should only confined to protect the holy places in Saudi Arabia. Besides this, Pakistan should also support all the serious global military efforts to fight terrorism in the Middle East under the umbrella of the UN.

Pakistan - IDPs - Slow Return

The return of the families displaced by the Zarb-e-Azb military operation in tribal areas faces a bleak future. With the reconstruction phase in the war-torn areas proceeding at a snail’s pace and the government providing no information as to when it would be completed, there is little to hope regarding the fate of IDP’s.
It has been more than 18 months since tens of thousands of persons left their homes. With more than 40,000 families of North Waziristan and 30,000 families of South Waziristan stranded in Bannu, Kohat, Karak and Tank areas, apart from the displaced people of other tribal agencies- the authorities find it hard to repatriate the IDPs. The only development it sees is that the state has spinned the term IPD- they are now called ‘temporarily displaced persons’ (TDPs).
Interaction with officials of various departments looking after the TDPs reveals that the displaced people will not be able to return to their native homes in the year 2016 claiming the civil administration lacked the capacity to reconstruct the damaged infrastructure. They have also made it clear that the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has no role in rehabilitation, where the job is only being done collectively by UN agencies and departments working under the FATA Secretariat.
The government recently announced that nearly 40 per cent of the internally displaced persons in North Waziristan Agency have so far returned to their homes. This means nothing if there is no concrete rehabilitation. The IDPs cannot be rehabilitated until the authorities complete restoration of four sectors in the volatile region i.e. education, health, clean drinking water and electricity. Officials involved in overseeing the reconstruction phase have said that little progress has so far been made the up-gradation of all four.
The freezing winter ahead has multiplied the worries of thousands of families who have been spending their bitter nights in the hope of a better tomorrow. Some of the IDPs have been languishing at these camps for years now.
Information about the exact damage to the region during the almost 15 years of continuous war in the area has been scant, which is why the government has unlimited ability to flash its so-called achievements. The social fabric of North Waziristan will need to be rebuilt from scratch, but how and when is unpredictable.

Bilawal Bhutto greets Christian community

 Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has extended Christmas greetings to the Christian brothers and sisters in Pakistan and all over the world on the holy day which marks the birth of Jesus Christ.

In his greeting message to the Christian community, Bilawal pointed out that the Constitution of Pakistan guaranteed equal rights to all minorities living in the country, indeed all the non-Muslim brethren as the citizens of Pakistan. He said that the PPP would continue to struggle for the rights of the non-Muslims and ensure that any discriminatory law against them would be made flawless.

The PPP chairman said that the PPP had always stood by the minorities in Pakistan and took every step for their progress and protection. He said that a Christmas tree was up at the Bilawal House to celebrate the holy day of our Christian brothers and sisters as it was only the PPP which shares their joys and sorrows and stands for their economic, political, religious and social rights.

He appealed the Christian community to pray in their Christmas services for the peace, progress and prosperity in Pakistan and the world over.

Bilawal Bhutto - Quaid-e-Azam’s philosophy only guiding principle

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party has said philosophy of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah should remain the guiding principle for our country as different experiments by tin-pot dictators and their remnants have led Pakistan to a quagmire.
In his message on 139th birthday of Founder of the Nation Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari paid great tributes to him and warned that any further drift from his ideology will weaken the unity of nation and the state more. He pointed out a quote from Founder of the Nation’s address broadcast by Radio Pakistan on 28th March, 1948, “With the removal of foreign domination, the people are now the final arbiters of their destiny. They have perfect liberty to have by constitutional means any Government that they may choose. This cannot, however, mean that any group may now attempt by any unlawful methods to impose its will on the popularly elected Government of the day. The Government and its policy may be changed by the votes of the elected representatives.”
PPP Chairman said that mere adorning the Halls of power corridors with the portraits of Quaid-e-Azam and observing his birthdays and death anniversaries as formalities won’t make us his true followers. He said that since the final arbiters of their destiny and their elected houses should be respected by every arm of the state. Supremacy of the Parliament and the Constitution needs to be maintained and upheld at every level from top to the bottom to accomplish the dreams and imaginations of the greatest Constitutional lawyer of his time, he added.
He further said some elements and quarters in the country are trying to belittle democracy and democratic institutions for some ulterior motives but the patriot Pakistanis will foil such designs and stand united for making the country a progressive, democratic and strong nation as per the vision of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
Bilawal Bhutto stated that PPP is the real and genuine successor of the philosophy of the Founder of the Nation and it has lost its two elected Prime Ministers Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, Shaheed Salman Taseer, Shaheed Shahbaz Bhatti and thousands of workers in the struggle for achieving the mission of the Founder of Pakistan.
PPP Chairman stressed that entire nation should pledge on 139th birthday of Father of the Nation that every citizen will play his role and work hard to achieve the mission of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.


Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has announced to set up a blood donation camp at Garhi Khuda Bux on the occasion of 8th anniversary of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. The camp would be under the supervision of People’s Doctors Forum Sindh and it would start collecting blood donations from the evening of December 26 until December 28.

People’s Doctors Forum Sindh President Dr Karim Khawaja would be the in-charge of blood donation camps and a team of qualified doctors and leading blood banks of the country would cooperate with the forum.

The blood donation camp would provide an opportunity to the PPP workers to pay tribute to their beloved slain leader Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed by donating blood at her tomb in Garhi Khuda Bux. The blood donations to be collected would be donated to the army troopers being engaged in war against terror and to the thalassemic children.

In this regard, PPP Sindh chapter General Secretary and Senator Taj Haider has contacted PPP provincial Presidents and central leaders and requested them to fully participate in the blood donation.

He also gave instructions to district organisations of the party in Sindh to participate in the blood donation camp and pay rich tribute to Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto by donating their blood I large quantity collectively.

IS-linked Terror Group Re-emerges as Regional Threat in Pakistan

By Noor Zahid

A bombing this month that killed 25 civilians and injured 70 others at a used clothing market in a Pakistani tribal region has again put the spotlight on a Sunni extremist organization that analysts say has global terror ambitions.
Little publicized in the West, the predominantly Punjab-based group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has wreaked havoc in Pakistan for years. It has been tied to the Taliban in Afghanistan and joined forces with al-Qaida. Analysts say it is now linked to the Islamic State group (IS).
Known in Pakistan as LeJ, the group introduced sectarian violence to Pakistan in 1996. It has had an agenda of establishing a Sunni Muslim kingdom in Pakistan and claimed responsibility for killing hundreds of Shi'ite Muslims in terror attacks.
LeJ claimed responsibility for the December 13 market bombing, saying it was carried out to punish Shi’ites for taking sides with Iran and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian conflict.
“The group has been trying to create a sectarian divide on a regional level that could lead to a global war,” Pakistan-based political analyst Khadim Hussain told VOA. “By targeting minority Shi’ite groups in Pakistan and in Afghanistan, the group tries to widen the divide between the Sunni Saudi Arabia and its allies, and Shi’ite Iran, a divide that has already hit the Middle East.”
Numerous terror attacks
Although the Pakistani government banned LeJ in 2001, it has been involved in numerous high-profile terrorist attacks, including bus and church bombings, and killings of hundreds of Shi’ite minority members in Pakistan.
The group influences local politics through affiliate parties in parliament and politicians it supports. The English language newspaper, The Nation, reported last month that more than 500 candidates backed by banned outfits made their way into Punjab’s local governance system.
LeJ also reportedly intimidates members of the country’s judicial system and retaliates against government and police officials. It attempted to assassinate Pakistan’s prime minister in 1999.
Intelligence sources named LeJ as being a party to the abduction and execution of American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002. It also claimed responsibility for killing four U.S. oil workers in 1997 in the southern port city of Karachi.
LeJ’s large recruitment network, training camps and massive resources have helped it join forces with several other militant groups, including those operating beyond Pakistan.
It claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks in Kabul which killed at least 55 Shi’ite worshippers during a holiday observance in 2011. The group also fought alongside the Taliban when they briefly captured the northern Afghan city of Kunduz in late September.
IS link
Analysts believe LeJ developed links with al-Qaida in the early 2000s.
U.S. authorities, who designated LeJ as a foreign terrorist organization in 2003, said that LeJ fighters trained with al-Qaida and Taliban forces in Afghanistan.
“It was the anti-Shi’ite ideology, among many other factors, that brought LeJ close to the Taliban and al-Qaida,” political analyst Hussain said.
Now analysts believe the group is linked with IS through an alliance of anti-Shi’ite ideology.
Pakistan’s leading English language newspaper, The Express Tribune, last month reported that the former leader of LeJ was planning to join IS before he was killed in a police shootout earlier this year in Punjab. According to the Pakistani daily, he was hoping to become the chief of the IS group in Pakistan.
“Some material such as flags and pamphlets showing allegiance to IS was confiscated from them [LeJ supporters],” a Pakistani security official told The Express Tribune.
IS has recently shown signs of expanding in Pakistan. And analysts say LeJ’s extremist philosophy matches IS ideology.
“No other group in Pakistan could match IS’s anti-Shi’ite ideology than LeJ,” Hussain said.