Saturday, February 27, 2016

Video - Hillary Clinton: 'Tomorrow, this campaign goes natio...


Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has won the Democratic South Carolina primary against Senator Bernie Sanders. The victory comes days before Super Tuesday on March 1, when eleven states will vote to select the Democratic presidential nominee.
South Carolina had an open primary, which meant that voters didn’t have to register as Democrats to have a say in the election. Polls were open from 7 am to 7 pm EST.

Clinton and Sanders had different approaches going into the primary, with Clinton more focused on this particular win, while Sanders took a broader outlook and focused on the March 1 races, giving a speech to about 10,000 people at a Formula One racetrack near Austin, Texas on Saturday. 

Clinton made a quick stop in Alabama on Saturday before returning to Columbia, South Carolina’s capital, for the victory party.

One of the voters explained why she chose Clinton over Sanders. “I don’t think Bernie has a shot in a national election, and this election is too important,” Alicia Newman told AP. “With all the debates, I think Bernie has helped prepare Hillary for November.”
The South Carolina primary holds some memories for Clinton. Eight years ago, then-Senator Barack Obama challenged then-Senator Hillary Clinton, the establishment-pick, and won big with the help of 78 percent of the black voters who cast their ballots. Clinton received only 19 percent of the black vote that day. Overall, Obama garnered twice as many votes as Clinton – 55.4 percent to 26.5 percent.
Today’s election is the fourth contest of the Democratic primaries. The first was a near-tie in Iowa, where neither Clinton nor Sanders managed to muster more than 50 percent of the vote. Sanders followed up with a smashing success in New Hampshire, capturing 60 percent of ballots, but then Clinton then went on to victory in Nevada, taking 52.6 percent to Sanders’s 47.3.
A win in South Carolina can easily influence states that are holding elections on Super Tuesday, including Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, and Clinton’s home state of Arkansas in the South, as well as Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Sanders’s home state of Vermont.
Clinton is looking to win big in Southern states with large black populations, while Sanders is likely to post victories in the Midwest and Northeast states.

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President Obama's Weekly Address: Degrading and Destroying ISIL

Urdu Music Video - Jo bacha tha woh lutane

Pakistan - Don't celebrate the Punjab women's violence bill just yet


The recently approved Punjab government's “Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act of 2016” appears at first glance to be a heroic effort to protect women victims of violence.
In a nutshell, it contains the following protection mechanisms:
  • a district protection committee
  • a helpline
  • women protection officers
  • protection centres and shelter homes
  • various remedies of orders of protection
  • residence and monetary support for victims
These are all commendable. More importantly, it signifies lawmakers’ alertness to the fact that most laws enacted to enhance women’s rights and their protection are not effectively implemented.
But on a closer reading, there are gaps that leave one wondering: what level of consultation did the bill undergo?
Many are celebrating the fact that the bill passed — despite resistance from some quarters — which is hardly a a viable defence. Because legislation acquires a degree of permanence (until future amendment and repeal), it must undergo rigorous review that is made open and transparent to all.
Some have already pointed out the positives and the flaws.

The act does not create a new crime of domestic violence

One can only wishfully think that the legislature had in mind a less penal and more rehabilitative society.
However, it may just be that the assembly did not have the political fortitude or commitment to explicitly label “domestic violence” for what it is — a crime.
The result: victims will have to seek justice in cases of domestic violence within the ambit of assault, wrongful confinement, criminal intimidation, and harassment provisions of the Pakistan Penal Code and other statutes.
It does, however, create new offences in case a defendant violates a monetary, residence, or protective order under the Act. Perhaps, unnecessarily — in light of how under-reported and condoned domestic violence is — it also criminalises false complaints.

Protecting all victims of violence?

Since the overwhelming majority of victims of domestic violence globally are women, it is unsurprising that the law purports to protect women only and, in fact, its preamble refers to the constitutional protection for women.
In contrast, the Domestic Violence Law in Sindh extends its protection to not just women, but also vulnerable men, the elderly and children in the context of a domestic relationship.
This makes it more in sync with the notion that violence is often rooted in socio-economic power imbalances within a family.
By not limiting the law and its protection to cases of domestic violence only (but to cases of vaguely defined “violence”), the assembly has been overly ambitious with the side effect of creating a watered down statute that undermines the seriousness that should be accorded to domestic violence and its prevalence in Punjab.
Violence is defined as any,

"Offence committed against the human body of the aggrieved person including…domestic violence, sexual violence, psychological abuse, economic abuse, stalking or a cybercrime."

The section further elaborates that,

“Psychological violence includes psychological deterioration…which may result in anorexia, suicide attempt or clinically proven depression resulting from defendant’s oppressive behavior.”

The act leaves terms “oppressive behavior” and “sexual violence” undefined. Besides being awkwardly worded, there is no rationale behind listing three specific conditions as opposed to referring to a whole range of psychological symptoms that battered women may suffer.
Its definition of “domestic violence” is also plain and does not list — as in the case of the Sindh statute — a whole pattern of behaviour that one can more precisely recognise as domestic violence including insults, possessiveness — the all too common threats of divorce, abandonment and accusations of immorality.

Shelters not jails

This is a significant step and deserves inspection. After all, most women are trapped in abusive situations because they are not financially independent and cannot find alternative accommodations that suit their standard of living.
Thus in empowering courts to grant “residence orders” where the defendant (abuser) would have to arrange for alternative housing (within his means) and pay rent is commendable.
Women can also be placed in shelters. But then, in a later section, the court is given authority to compel the defendant to pay for the cost of a woman’s shelter (rent and meals) in a shelter home.
Non-payment would mean that the defendant is in contempt of court and the justice system is continually embroiled in monitoring payment thus straining its time and resources — or it would have the effect of exhausting women victims and causing them to give up.
Moreover, nothing is said on whether a woman’s residence in a shelter would be impacted by the defendant’s non-payment.
State-run shelters (Dar-ul-Aman) have often been criticised as being jail-like, where women’s mobility is monitored, their character regarded as suspect and their entry and exit mandated by a court order.
Thus, it is discouraging to note that there hasn't been a more incisive attempt to re-imagine shelters as truly safe spaces for women, who should be free from the government’s judgemental glare.
A regressive provision that provides for “discipline” and regulation of visitation and timings reflect a parochial and paternalistic attitude and the state’s desire to control women who've left their home and their mobility.
Ironically, limiting a woman’s mobility is one of the things the ambivalent act seeks to curb.
Moreover, boys over 12 cannot be admitted to shelter homes with the mothers. One would expect a modern statute to forge creative ways to retain family unity and keep children, regardless of age and gender with a mother who has already become partially isolated.
Women are safeguarded from wrongful eviction from their home — which is why it is bewildering that the act also holds that wrongfully evicted women can only be reinstated to her previous status in the house if she has a “right, title or beneficial interest in the house”.
If the words are given a restrictive interpretation, then in case she does not have a proprietary interest in the house, that may affect her ability to re-enter her marital home.
The parameters of a protective order include that the defendant surrender any weapon or firearm which the defendant lawfully possesses.
Surely, it is poor drafting and not parliamentary intent to allow abusers to hold on to their illegally obtained weapons, but that won’t stop devious lawyer-ing around a lacuna.
Protective orders also allow courts, in some cases, to require that defendants wear GPS trackers and ankle bracelets.
This is also worrisome in light of the state’s heightened and over zealous enthusiasm towards surveilling and criminalising its ordinary citizens and carries potential for abuse.

Good laws, bad implementation

The law envisions the formation of a “District Women Protection Committee” in each district to ensure that the protection system is working. Committee tasks include arranging volunteers, training, referring cases from police to protection centers and reconciliation.
The cynical may say that other committees prescribed by law, such as District Committees on the Status of Women, are yet to be functional in most districts — and here, we have yet another law and yet another committee, and thus infinite allegations of non-implementation.
Moreover, by making membership in committees (envisioned to perform gargantuan tasks) volunteer-based, the state is setting the stage for compromised and inconsistent service delivery dependent upon the enthusiasm and time of the volunteers.
The act accounts for women protection officers and many of their tasks seem duplicative to those of the committees, then why can’t the government just have numerous such paid positions doing the work of the committee.
Women do need jobs, after all, and the system would be more accountable.
Even more problematic is the fact that these committees can accept donations to carry out their functions. Instead of the Punjab government allocating robust budgets, they expect members to be ambassadors of the official begging bowl, and to be tested on their fund-raising skills.
Of course this would also inevitably lead to problems implicit in handling and managing funds and lay the process of protecting women susceptible to the accusation that it represents donor agenda, rather than being a local priority and urgency.
Provincial and national legislatures, before further legislative activity, should review the entire process of consultation, make it thoroughly democratic and inclusive of all voices, review all provincial laws with a view towards inter-provincial consistency and coherence, take stock through concerted research on how institutional and attitudinal barriers can be conquered.
The last seven years have seen a good number of laws enhancing women’s rights and protection in Pakistan, and while this is highly commendable, the government needs to take stock of why implementation has failed every time.

Pakistan - The forgotten FATA

By Afrasiab Khattak

Mainstreaming FATA was one of the most important points in the twenty points program of National Action Plan (NAP) approved by an extra ordinary All Parties Conference (APC) on December 24, 2014, a week after the brutal massacre of young students by criminal terrorists in Peshawar Army Public School. Since Pakistan was well known for wasting long years first in denial of terrorism and later on just talking about curbing it so the APC decided to go for an Action Plan instead of squandering further precious time by busying ourselves into hairsplitting in abstract theoretical debates. But if the experience of the last one-yearis anything to go by it has become pretty clear that most of the twenty points program is not meant for implementation. No roadmap with any timeline exists for implementing NAP. FATA parliamentarians did introduce a bill in the National Assembly for the merger of FATA in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but the federal government scuttled that initiative by creating yet another committee for “ascertaining“ the opinion of the people of the area (interestingly enough there is no one from FATA in the aforementioned committee and most of the ministers who are members of the committee can’t speak Pashto and speak through interpreters). Again there is no timeframe for the work of the committee. So FATA Pashtuns who lived as subjects of British colonial order for around a century seems to be condemned to keep on living under exactly the same (or even worse) status in an independent Muslim country. There is no visible sign of their becoming citizens any time soon with access to fundamental rights. In this day and age they still have to live in the “black hole”, and “no go area” beyond the jurisdiction of courts and access of media and civil society.
After continuing for close to two years operation Zarb-e-Azb doesn’t seem to have fully cleared FATA from terrorism. Shawaland Datakhel are yet to be cleared even after intense aerial bombardment and droning, a position that has not changed for last so many years. Yet another drone attack in Khurram Agency last week shows that certain “assets” have relocated there after military operation in North Waziristan.Momand Agency saw murderous attacks by terrorists against security personnel during the last week killing at least nine khasadars. Curfew had to be imposed for forestalling terrorist onslaught. Schools and hospitals had to be closed. News about minor terror attacks and blowing up of schools do emerge from other agencies. Political or civilian oversight of military operation in FATA is almost non existent and the area is not open to media or civil society so there is not much in terms of even reporting about the challenges faced by non-combatants let alone provision of any relief to them.
Millions of Internally Displaced Persons (Pashtuns) are not any more on the political radar of either the government or political parties. Their ordeal that was supposed to last for few months doesn’t have any end in sight even after about two years (in case of North Waziristan). The country’s media has also put its back on their camps in Bannu and other places. Pakistani state doesn’t seem to be interested in winning the war for hearts and minds. You need that only if you want to take the people along. But if you have no plan to empower the people and include them in the decision-makingprocess, then why to bother yourself. For example around one hundred thousand IDPs had crossed over into Afghanistan’s province Khost in 2014 from North Waziristan. Afghan government was reported to have helped them in establishing camps and there were reports about some activity by UNHCR. But the government of Pakistan has not sent any formal official delegation even once to look into their situation or to discuss with them any plan for their possible return. Even those who live inside Pakistan have no focal person or institution to turn to for relief in case of violation of their rights. Their disempowerment knows no limits.
One hopes that the new Governor of Pakhunkhwa will make a place for his name in history by supporting reforms in FATA, although it is easier said than done. The entrenched vested interest of officialdom ruling the area has put up stiff resistance against any change. But they have overplayed their hand. Terrorists could run a virtual state in the area in the vacuum created by statelessness. The country can’t afford the status quo anymore. The Article 247 of the Constitution that bars the Pakistani Parliament from legislation for FATA and bars the Supreme Court of Pakistan from hearing cases must go. How can Pakistan call herself a Republic with such a monstrous anomaly? Refusal to hold local government elections in FATA is simply an affront. Every democrat in the country should raise his/her voice for the empowerment of FATA Pashtuns. It goes without saying that situation in Afghanistan is closely linked to situation in FATA . Our steps for filling the gaps in terms of the writ of the state in FATA will indicate our seriousness about stabilizing Afghanistan.

Bilawal Bhutto congratulates members of Punjab Assembly for passing Protection of Women against Violence Bill

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party has congratulated members of the Punjab Assembly for the passage of Protection of Women against Violence Bill 2015 but regretted the fundamental loopholes in the Bill which makes it more ‘Showbaz’ than aimed at addressing the real issues.
In a press statement issued here, the PPP Chairman said that women need both prevention and protection against violence at domestic and workplaces and law should criminalize these forms of violence. Legislation for providing solace and justice to a woman already beaten up or abused is a good step but adding provisions to prevent women from being targeted through criminal intents were also fundamentally important for lawmaking, he stated.
He endorsed the anomaly in Bill pointed out by civil society and women activists that the Bill outlined punishment in case of a violation of interim orders but not for abuse women had been subjected to.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari stressed that legislation should provide mechanism wherein the women should be given a form of protection to save them from falling victim to domestic violence besides the justice system to punish violations.
PPP Chairman urged that legislation also lacks a comprehensive definition of violence against women besides ensuring the proper protection of women complainants subjected to violence during pending investigations and afterwards without the mention of time-period for completion of such inquiries.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari further said that implementation of any bill for protection of women against violence needs women protection centers for housing victims during the course of inquiries. Otherwise, the whole bill will not be more than a cosmetic effort.

سعید غنی کی پشاور میں پرامن مظاہرین طالب علموں کے خلاف مقدمات درج اور گھروں پر چھاپوں کی مذمت

Friday, February 26, 2016

Urdu Music Video - NOOR JAHAN - KAVITA - Aaja mery pardesi

America's utter failure in Afghanistan, in one depressing statistic


A new government report on Afghanistan reconstruction includes a startling fact: The US has spent more money — a lot more money — trying to rebuild Afghanistan than we did rebuilding Europe after World War II.
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) submitted a statement to Congress on Wednesday in a hearing to review the fiscal year 2017 budget request and funding justification for the US Department of State. It included this line:
Since FY 2002, Congress has appropriated approximately $113.1 billion to rebuild Afghanistan. That is at least $10 billion more, adjusted for inflation, than the amount the United States committed in civilian assistance to help rebuild Western Europe after World War II.
This obviously depends on how you do the calculation. The method SIGAR says it usedgave them an adjusted total of $103.4 billion in 2014 dollars for the Marshall Plan. When I ran a simple comparison of 1952 spending versus 2016 spending, adjusting for inflation, I found that US spending on the Marshall Plan actually translates into $118 billion in today's dollars, so a bit more than we spent in Afghanistan.
But the point remains that our spending on Afghanistan today is pretty similar to what we spent to rebuild Western Europe after World War II. And despite spending a similar amount of money on a relatively narrower mission in Afghanistan, we have much, much less to show for it. It's staggering.
Between 1948 and 1952, the US gave approximately $13.3 billion to 16 Western European countries to help them recover and rebuild in the aftermath of World War II. And although economists still debate exactly what role the Marshall Plan funds played in Europe's economic recovery, the fact remains that the Western Europe that emerged from the Marshall Plan years was a much more stable, prosperous, peaceful place than it had been beforehand.
The political effects of the Marshall Plan were also profound. As Diane Kunz, a history professor at Yale University, explained in DW, "The Marshall Plan served as the economic and political foundation for the Western alliance that waged the Cold War."
So we spent the equivalent of more than $100 billion, and what we got for our money was a major continent-wide economic recovery and an alliance that defeated the Soviet Union. Not too shabby.
Now let's compare that with what we've gotten for our $113.1 billion investment in rebuilding Afghanistan:
  • The Taliban is resurgent. According to another SIGAR report from last month, "The Taliban now controls more territory than at any time since 2001." Bill Roggio, editor of the Long War Journal, found as of October of 2015 that about one-fifth of Afghanistan was verifiably controlled or contested by the Taliban. In reality, he wrote then, "they probably either control or heavily influence about a half of the country."
  • ISIS has now established a foothold in Afghanistan. Though it is estimated to have only between 1,000 and 3,000 fighters in the country, it is launching attacks — including, most recently, bombing the Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad, killing seven people. And it is building what Defense Secretary Ashton Carter called "little nests"in the country's east.
  • The Afghan security forces are a messIn August 2015, Afghanistan expert Gary Owen wrote, "Since the Afghans assumed control of the country’s security in 2014, more civilians have been killed, more soldiers have died, more Afghan troops have deserted than ever before, and security forces are still torturing one-third of their detainees."
  • Afghans are fleeing the country in droves. In just the third quarter of 2015 alone, some 56,700 Afghans filed applications seeking asylum in the EU, according toEurostat data. Afghan refugees are second only to the number of Syrians seeking asylum in the EU from the brutal civil war in Syria.
But while the US and other countries involved in Afghanistan haven't achieved anything quite like a Marshall Plan, there have been some positive developments.
In August 2015, Stephen Watts and Sean Mann of RAND noted that according to the World Bank's World Development Indicators, in Afghanistan "child mortality rates have fallen by over one-quarter, more than half of children attend school (compared to approximately 15 percent — none of them girls — under the Taliban), and income levels are roughly six times what they were before the US intervention."
Those positive developments are a reminder that while Afghanistan today sure doesn't look like Western Europe after the Marshall Plan, it also started at a much lower point.
But it's also a reminder that the country's increasingly unstable security situation and resurgence of the Taliban threaten to undo even those modest achievements.
The bottom line is that, unlike the brilliant success story that was Western Europe after the Marshall Plan, we have very little to show for the billions of dollars we have spent trying to rebuild Afghanistan.
This is a major financial blow for US taxpayers and, more importantly, a tragedy for the millions of Afghans who were promised the world and are still waiting for that promise to be fulfilled.

Peshawar varsity teachers term Imran’s visit ‘political interference’

Members of the faculty at Peshawar University on Friday slammed Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s visit to the campus and termed it ‘open political interference’, according to a press statement.
Peshawar University Teachers’ Association (PUTA) executive body met after the visit of Imran Khan on Thursday. The meeting, chaired by PUTA chairman Prof. Dr. Jameel Ahmed Chitrali, labeled the chanting of political slogans by the students on the arrival of the PTI chief as a ‘conspiracy’ to spoil academic atmosphere of the university.
Voicing concerns over the visit, the teachers termed it a ‘violation’ of the University Act and ‘interference in varsity affairs’.
The PUTA called on the government to take notice of it and to close the doors of interference in varsity’s autonomy in future.
Prof. Chitrali said the PUTA is not intended to adopt ‘protest-for-protest’ attitude in this regard, rather it tried to show both sides of the picture to the people.
“Such activities should be organized at educational institutions after taking all the stake-holders into confidence, not just one man,” he said.

Moreover, the teachers’ body demanded leaders of political parties to refrain from ‘forcefully imposing their ideas or thoughts on students’.

Pakistan - Victim of Dispute; Christian Girl Abducted, Raped, Forced to Convert

On February 17, 2016, Rasheed Pervez, 58 and Iqbal Masih 50 approached Christians’ True Spirit (CTS) organisation and asked for legal assistance for the recovery of Pervez’s daughter, Saima Rasheed who had been abducted by a Muslim neighbour.

Pervez pointed out that he and his Muslim neighbours Mohammad Murad Ali and Feryad Ali had a dispute earlier. After the dispute, the men warned Pervez of dire consequences. They started commenting inappropriately when Pervez’s daughter Saima Rasheed passed the street.

Due to this, Pervez had changed his residence about 25 kilometers at Shadab Colony, Maqbool Chauk Chung – Multan Road Lahore, but the culprits abducted Saima on January 28, 2016.

Case FIR no. 169/16 offence under section 496-A according to Pakistan Penal Code, lodged against Mohammad Nadeem s/o Faryad Ali, Mohammad Murad s/o Faryad Ali etc by Rasheed Pervaiz in the Chung Police Station Lahore but the said police joined hands with the culprits and did not take any legal action against them. The poor Christian father of Saima requested police for the recovery of his daughter but police made false accusations and provided opportunity to the culprits to get pre-arrest bails from the court on February 11, 2016. The bails were granted by the Additional Session Court Lahore for a week and the confirmation of bails fixed for February 18, 2016.

Pervez was told by the culprits’ family that Saima had converted to Islam and had married a Muslim man. The family demanded to see their daughter to get her statement but they were not allowed to meet Saima.

During the bail period the accused managed conversion as well as marriage certificate of Saima Rasheed and submitted with the concerned police officer Khalid Virik Investigation Officer (IO) in the police station.

Subsequently, on Feb 18, Khalid Virik Investigation Officer presented investigation report in the court and submitted conversion and marriage certificates of Saima Bajwa along with the dismissal of the case FIR. He said on behalf of Saima that she does not want to see her Christian parents as she was happy in her Islamic marriage.

“Being the youngest in all children she was favorite child of parents” said Rasheed Pervaiz. He further stated that he is broken hearted and very disappointed. For a month he has been struggling to get his beloved daughter back from the Muslim’s custody but failed.

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Pashto Music - Sardar Ali Takkar - څه خو دي - بشیر احمد ریدي مټه

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Music Video - خيال محمد , بيا كدى باريگي Khyal Mohammad, Bia Kadi Barighi

Monitoring Group: Corruption Still a Problem in Afghanistan

Ayaz Gul

An anti-corruption monitoring group says despite “small signs” of progress in the fight against corruption, Afghanistan’s official commitment to effectively address the problem is weakening, eroding public trust in the administration's ability to govern.
The independent Monitoring and Evaluation Committee, or MEC, in its half yearly report released in Kabul Thursday, also expressed its concern about the ability of members of President Ashraf Ghani’s national unity government, or NUG, to work together to effectively address issues related to corruption.
“I have seen lack of political will, weak state, lots of impunity, selective justice, not existing system of checks and balances, inefficient institutions,” observed senior MEC member Slagjana Taseva while addressing a news conference in Kabul.
She emphasized the need for strong leadership to improve anti-corruption efforts.
‘Trust is diminishing’
“The government desperately needs to make sure that public trust and confidence are still there on the government’s ability to fight corruption and in our conversations we have found that that trust is diminishing,” noted MEC chairman Shaukat Hassan.
He warned that 70 percent of Afghanistan’s budget comes from international assistance and if there is a weakening of the government’s resolve to combat corruption, there will be repercussions.
Hassan said there are worries that whatever progress has been made in fighting corruption is under threat from “the increasingly contentious political” environment in Afghanistan.
“MEC is quite concerned about the ability of the NUG to work together to effectively address issues related to corruption,” he said.
The chairman went on to acknowledge numerous political, social, economic and security issues facing the government, but said if the Afghan leadership loses focus on fighting corruption, it will have serious implications for Afghanistan and could undermine efforts to seek continuous financial assistance in future international donors’ conferences.
‘Massive and systemic problem’
Corruption is one of the most serious threats to the U.S.-funded Afghanistan reconstruction effort, John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, or SIGAR, told the U.S. Congress on Wednesday.
The federal oversight agency says the U.S. has spent $113 billion rebuilding Afghanistan, more than it spent rebuilding Europe after World War II, adjusted for inflation.
“SIGAR and other observers - not least of whom is President Ghani - have consistently reported that corruption remains a massive and systemic problem in Afghanistan.  It is troubling, therefore, that the United States continues to operate without a comprehensive overall strategy for coordinating and executing effective measures to reduce the malign influence of corruption in Afghan society,” Sopko said in his written statement.  
He noted that corruption is a critical issue not only for government effectiveness and legitimacy, but for fiscal sustainability. “Kabul relies heavily on customs receipts for domestic revenue, but corruption severely constricts the actual flow of funds to its treasury, while adding to the risk of “donor fatigue.”
The United States Institute for Peace, in its latest report, said the cash-strapped Afghan government’s budget revenue increased almost 22 percent in 2015, showing an “extraordinary turnaround” of 30 percent as compared to the 8 percent drop in 2014.
The government-funded institute cited stronger tax collection efforts, corruption crackdowns and new taxes contributed to the “impressive revenue turnaround.”
It attributed 56 percent of the increased revenue to better collection efforts, especially in the customs department, which controls trade at the country’s border crossings.
"This experience demonstrates that targeted progress can be achieved, even in Afghanistan’s challenging political and security environment,” the institute said.

Government's misleading advice fuels persecution of Pakistani Christians, says report

By Harry Farley 

Misleading government guidance is fuelling the persecution of Christians fleeing Pakistan, according to a report released on Wednesday.

Lord Alton of Liverpool, a cross-bench member of the House of Lords, said he had visited a refugee camp in Thailand where Pakistani Christians "are kept in degrading conditions" and "left to fester" while their asylum applications took years to process.

Alton said Home Office guidance was used to justify this treatment because Christians fleeing Pakistan are not at "a real risk of persecution", according to the government's country information.

"The official line of the UK government is that there is no persecution, the reality is the opposite of that and our report dispenses with that illusion," said the Catholic peer.

"We need to dispense with the fiction that the Christian minority, and other minorities are treated fairly and justly. There is outright persecution and we should not hesitate in saying so," he added.

Alton was speaking at the launch of a report entitled 'Freedom of religion or belief in Pakistan and UK government policy'. The inquiry was conducted by an all-party group, of which Alton is vice-chair.

The report urged the government to change its information and recognise the "real risk of persecution" faced by Christians and other minority groups such as Ahmadi Muslims and Hindus. Persecution in Pakistan, according to the report, comes "in the form of physical violence and psychological torture at the hands of State- and non-State actors".

Pakistan is 96 per cent Islamic with Christians making up just 1.59 per cent of the overall population. However "Christians experience more violence in Pakistan than almost anywhere else" according to persecution charity Open Doors, which ranks the country as 6th on its list of the worst places to live as a Christian.
The country's infamous blasphemy laws carry the death sentence for insulting the Prophet Mohammad. These laws "continue to be abused to settle personal scores, particularly against minorities including Christians", Open Doors said.
Despite this, Pakistan is the biggest recipient of British aid, having received more than £1 billion in the last couple of years.
The cross-party inquiry urged the Department for International Development to ensure aid is only given to organisations that can prove they uphold freedom of religion.
"We should be demanding that British aid is used to protect minorities and to staunch the flow of refugees," said Alton at the report launch.

Plight of Baloch Students

Yasmeen Baloch
Every one has idea about the shortcomings and limited facilities in educational system and institutions in Balochistan, where students are deprived of facilities in schools, neither good watering system is available nor good teachers. We always see in Balochi News Channel showing thousands of problems in Balochistan and highlighting the educational issues too.  The talent of Balochs cannot be denied but no availability of opportunities in institutions and society keeps them under pressure.
In Balochistan students have many problems. Factors like family problems, financial problems, poverty greatly affect the future of a student. On the other hand Government and media seem to be tacit in interacting with the issues in Balochistan on the other hand the ongoing preplanned conspiracy against Baloch students by some political parties, religious student’s wings and “ abduct, kill and dump” policy have  psychologically affected Baloch learners.  Baloch Students strive to get best education ignoring poverty and financial problems, when they get education so either their talent is murdered or they are abducted.
Student like Maryam Suleman Baloch,Khalida Brohi and many other talented are neglected in Pakistan  but when someone like Malala is injured/shot so she is sent to foreign country for protection.
Students are also not satisfied with their Schools managements. There are no good teachers to teach, thus, students are compelled to leave their regional colleges and study in Capital or somewhere else. Balochistan is the only province which is affected by highest Illiteracy rate .The government of Balochistan always addresses in speeches that the budget of education is increased but suddenly that budget is out of news. Government assures of providing basic rights but people die of thirst and hunger.
The government as usual has failed in heeding the educational issues.  Balochs are not illiterate, uneducated and dull, however, the ruthlessness of the leaders lead them to failure. They are not backward but the systemized favoritism and discrimination against them makes them toward the back.
 In Pakistan culprits are not put in bars for illegal works and in Balochistan students are tormented just for raising voice against “Violence”. Government has never provided such tools for students that they should exempt their selves from such vulnerable situations. The laws, regulations and verdicts are always useless for Balochs as they are always deprived of their fundamental rights and life of Balochs is jeopardized customary.

Malala made Sonam Kapoor's day by watching Neerja

Malala stepped out to watch Neerja at a private screening in London yesterday, and no one seemed happier about her attendance than the film's star Sonam Kapoor.
Sonam put up a picture of the Pakistani education activist, who continues her advocacy of children's education despite the 2012 near fatal attack on her in Swat.
"Malala said 'I am stronger than fear' and for #Neerja 'fear gave her courage! Thank you #MalalaYousafzai for attending a private screening of #Neerja in London. I’m so glad you liked the film," Sonam wrote.
The film Neerja is a biopic of flight attendant Neerja Bhanot, who lost her life while saving others on the hijacked Pan Am Flight 73 in September 1986.
This isn't the first time that Malala's been out and about on a film jaunt. She's earlier given two thumbs-up to Piku and Bajrangi Bhaijaan and has also confessed to being a die-hard Shah Rukh fan.

Pakistan - Another polio case

Balochistan’s first and Pakistan’s third polio case in the year 2016 was reported on Monday, as a 30 month-old boy, from the outskirts of Quetta, was confirmed positive for the virus. Previously this month, two cases of polio have also been confirmed in Karachi and Nowshera. Dr Syed Saifur Rehman, chief of the polio emergency cell in Balochistan, stated that every month vaccination campaigns were being carried out, especially in sensitive areas. The hindrance in proper eradication is due to the unfortunate fact that there is an absence of vaccination centres. In addition, a critical concern is parental refusal in allowing vaccination due to fallacious rumours claiming that the drive is a front to sterilise Muslims or is a western conspiracy. This belief and the militants’ vendetta against anti-polio healthcare workers has also resulted in the deaths of more than 60 members of polio teams and police officers guarding them while more than 45 have been injured in the past couple of years alone. While there has been a 90 percent decline in refusals in Balochistan, still 2,821 refusals were made during the drive last month. The National Emergency Operation Centre also emphasised that low immunity levels, specifically in areas with poor hygiene and sanitary conditions, have made children more susceptible to the virus. After Nigeria declared itself polio-free last year, only Pakistan and Afghanistan continue to struggle for the eradication of this crippling disease that can result in lifelong paralysis.

While the government has made heightened claims of success, it is yet to fully commit to the cause of polio eradication. These cases are a reflection of this neglect. Efforts are ongoing throughout the country, including several critical regions, with vaccination teams struggling through arduous journeys and, more crucially, threats to their lives. However, the government has yet to demonstrate equal determination. There need to be more vigorous awareness campaigns to deal with refusals by parents who leave their children to the mercy of this life-long disease. While there have been many cases of refusals, there have been thousands more cases where willing parents were unable to gain access to routine immunisation, exposing the clear gaps in the health infrastructure and the government’s inability to develop it even after the people have been suffering its consequences for years. In this day and age, if a virus exists in one region, the rest of the world remains endangered for any sudden exposure to it. Considering this, already the World Health Organisation (WHO) has placed regulations on Pakistan, and the government continues with its complacent ignorance. It risks making Pakistan a pariah state, causing more problems for its inhabitants then they are already suffering. 

Is Pakistan going to curb freedom of expression in online spaces as well?

By Rashid Munir 

In Pakistan, we don’t get a lot of opportunities to speak our mind. The mainstream society has been censured to an extent where any deviation from the well-beaten path is deemed criminal, and the ‘perpetrators’ are left to face the music in case any of the many insecure souls wandering out and about find their way of life a bit too ‘liberal’ for their liking.
The word ‘liberal’ itself contains an interesting – but sometimes, dangerous – connotation in the Islamic Republic. In drawing room conversations, invoking a liberal tag can result in stern admonition, but in other circles, there can be consequences as severe as bodily harm and even death. Even though no one stops and thinks twice as to what being a liberal in a country with institutionalized discrimination entails, we nonetheless have a thriving minority of people who dare to take on the status quo and voice their opinions about the asymmetric power the more conservative segment of the society in Pakistan enjoys.
In such a situation where the deck is stacked against them, the small flock of liberals in Pakistan mostly keeps their attitudes to their personal lives, or dares to venture on the various social media websites frequently. Invariably managed by the ‘westerners’ who live by values such as freedom of expression, these English-language based websites provide a safe environment for people to freely talk, and sometimes take challenging stances on sensitive issues anonymously. Over time, a trend has emerged where the interwebs have started being populated by the educated, liberal minority in Pakistan. This is the place they know best and love, and for better or for worse, the liberals have migrated to online forums, for fear of their lives or for other reasons.
But now, the tables have turned, and how rapidly so. Gone are the days when the only memes you’d see on your social media news feed were either banal jokes or lame mumbo-jumbo. Maybe it is the case that the conservatives in Pakistan have managed to ban all difference from the Pakistani social life so perfectly that the thriving online forums teeming with liberals have been deemed such a threat. But whatever the reason, it seems that more and more conservative organizations are using the social media websites for propagating their own brands of morality.
In recent times, the conservatives have caught up with the liberals in the online communities, and have started using social media websites for furthering their own opinions.To match the sensitive jokes that are meant to make people think, a highly restrictive brand of religious views is being aired on social media now, combined with savvy graphics and rabble-rousing pictures.
Now, there is nothing wrong with doing so, per se. The notion behind freedom of expression necessitates that all opinions be given a chance. The trouble, however, is that the rising number of conservative activity on social media portends a somewhat troubling trend. One the one hand, the room for all faiths and personal opinions that had been so carefully cultivated through the social forums is now being slowly eradicated in favor of a conservative outlook on life that deems all difference as dangerous.
But more importantly though, with the bevy of legislation putting all sorts of checks on online activity, through which the state apparatus can keep tabs on all citizens, it is very likely that such laws will be abused to target the free-minded folks in the republic. Not just that, the extremely undesirable attitudes that bully free thought by using pejorative terms such as ‘desi liberals’, or the madness that operates around heinous punishments for all sorts of made-up crimes, is being exported onto the inter-tubes as well.
If this tendency keeps on increasing, we could very well be seeing situations where people are being censured for expressing their mind online. Pakistan’s public sphere is already devoid of any accommodating room, and in such a scenario, the savvy social media websites that were the domain where liberals went to find some breathing roomwould become tainted as well. By the looks of it all in fact, we may soon inhabit online spaces that are just as restrictive as the ones we occupy physically.