Thursday, January 14, 2016

Saudi Arabia Sentenced This Poet To Death For Abandoning Islam

In addition the death sentence for apostasy, Ashraf Fayadh was convicted of violating the Anti-Cyber Crime Law by taking and storing pictures of women.

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Chomsky hits back at Erdogan, accuses him of aiding terrorists

Prominent US linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky has lashed out at Turkish President Recep Erdogan, who has accused him of being “dark” and having “mentality of colonialism” for signing an open letter protesting Ankara’s military op against the Kurds.
The spat was provoked by an open letter to Turkey’s leader signed by some 1,128 Turkish and foreign academics from 89 universities around the world, including Noam Chomsky and Immanuel Wallerstein. It was published last month under the title: “We won’t be a part of this crime.”

The academics’ criticism of Ankara’s military operation in Turkey’s Kurdish southeast infuriated Erdogan, who lashed out at Chomsky in particular.
“Let our ambassador from the United States invite Chomsky, who has made statements about Turkey’s operations against the terrorist organization,” Erdogan said at the 8th annual conference of the Turkish ambassadors that started on Monday. He offered to “host” Chomsky in the Kurdish region. 

“If I decide to go to Turkey, it will not be on his invitation, but as frequently before at the invitation of the many courageous dissidents, including Kurds who have been under severe attack for many years,” Chomsky told the Guardian via e-mail in response to Erdogan’s proposal.

The philosopher also accused the Turkish leader of hypocrisy and applying double standards to terrorism, as well as openly aiding terrorist organizations.
“Turkey blamed ISIS [for the attack on Istanbul], which Erdogan has been aiding in many ways, while also supporting the al-Nusra Front, which is hardly different. He then launched a tirade against those who condemn his crimes against Kurds – who happen to be the main ground force opposing ISIS in both Syria and Iraq. Is there any need for further comment?” he said. 

The open letter called on Turkey’s authorities to end the “massacre and slaughter” in the country’s southeast and lift the siege of Kurdish towns and cities, while, at the same time, accusing Erdogan of waging a war against his own people.

“The responsibility for the present self-inflicted crisis in the country must lie squarely with Erdogan, who perceives the Kurds… as obstacles to his plan to establish supreme rule for the Turkish presidency,” the open letter says.
“With the sieges imposed on their communities in the southeast, Turkey has effectively declared war on its own people. This current crisis is manufactured and totally unnecessary. It demonstrates once again that Erdogan is a deeply divisive force,” it adds.

Ergodan strongly criticized the signatories in a speech on Monday, claiming that the human rights abuses in Turkey’s southeast were committed by ‘terrorists’ and not state forces. 

“This crowd, which calls itself academics, accuses the state through a statement. Not only this, they also invite foreigners to monitor developments. This is the mentality of colonialism,” he said, accusing the Turkish scholars who signed the petition of committing “treason.”
“You are not enlightened persons, you are dark. You are nothing like intellectuals. You are ignorant and dark, not even knowing about the east or the southeast. We know these places just like we know our home addresses,” he fumed. 
Turkey’s Council of Higher Education (YOK) has also condemned the petition and promised to launch legal action against the Turkish signatories. 

“The declaration issued by a group of academics that describes our state’s ongoing struggle against terror in the southeast as ‘massacre and slaughter’ has put our entire academic world under suspicion,” YOK said in a statement.

The clashes between Turkish forces and Kurdish fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been outlawed by Ankara, have been ongoing since July, with Turkey’s authorities claiming that those killed during the security operation in the southeast were PKK members.
However, according to Human Rights Watch, more than 100 civilians have also been killed during the crackdown.

Curfews were imposed in several southeastern towns due to the security concerns of the Turkish authorities, despite the repeated demands of local residents that they be lifted.
According to the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT), at least 162 civilians have been killed since the curfews were imposed, including 29 women, 32 children, and 24 elderly people.

‘Turkey played with ISIS, today pays the price’ – Boaz Bismuth on terror attack intel

How did the Arab Spring change Russia's influence in the Middle East?

Five years after the first government was toppled during the Arab Spring, it’s time to assess the challenges and opportunities facing Russian diplomacy in the region.
Tunisians celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Arab Spring, Thursday, Jan.14, 2016 in Tunis. Photo: AP
On Jan. 14, 2011, the regime of Tunisian President Ben Ali fell, becoming the first victim of the Arab Spring, a series of events that seriously shook up the greater Arab world and led to a qualitative change in the balance of power in the Middle East.
What events led to the Arab Spring?
Often among Russian journalists and public figures, the view is expressed that the events in the Arab world leading to the phenomenon of the “Arab Spring” were provoked from someone from the outside. Moreover, they claim, all these processes are very much reminiscent of the “Color Revolutions” in the post-Soviet space.
It should be noted here that responsible political scientists – specialists on the Middle East – reject this simplified point of view. Thus, Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO-University) professor Maria Sapronova noted as early as during the initial phase of the Arab Spring that, “the authoritarian regimes had for a long time created the appearance of social stability, but their leaders had lost touch with the people, and were ignoring the growing serious economic difficulties.”
However, not only esteemed academics in Russia understand the real reasons for the “revolutionary processes” in the Arab world. In an interview with an Egyptian newspaper in 2014, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that “the transformations in the Arab world are caused by a series of deep factors, both objective and subjective.”

Also read: "Russia, the United States and the Syrian peace process: What’s next?"

In general, continued Lavrov, these processes are political and economic in nature, since “the former authorities did not fully meet the immediate needs of their populations, were not ready to feel the demands for change.”
The Arab Spring and the new balance of power
The “Arab revolution” led to changes in government not only in Tunisia, but also in Egypt,Libya and Yemen. The Arab Spring also opened the way to bloody civil wars in Libya, in Yemen, and especially in Syria. In addition, this radical wave caused ferment and civil strife in many other countries of the Arab world.
The entire world clearly sees the negative effects of these processes – rampant terrorism, various calls for jihad and the rise of extremist fundamentalism in the Greater Middle East. In addition, there was the creation of perhaps the most appalling government organization of modern times – the Islamic State of Iraq and the Greater Syria (ISIS) – on parts of the territories of Iraq and Syria, the transfer of terrorism from the Middle East to Europe, millions of refugees from the Arab world flooding into the European Union, etc.
However, the five years of the Arab Spring also marked a qualitative modification in the balance of power in the Arab world. The five-year period that began with the overthrow of Tunisia's leader showed that suffering from the brunt of the “Arab revolution” were those states that, albeit, authoritarian and non-democratic, were also secular in their social model – Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria. Here, it is possible to agree with the views of St. Petersburg expert Alexander Sotnichenko that this storm, in fact, has led to the end of the Arab nationalism project.
Accordingly, the geopolitical roles of the countries promoting this project have been significantly weakened (Egypt, Syria) or simply negated (Libya). On the contrary, during the last five years, coming to the fore as leaders of the Arab world were the Gulf countries (Saudi Arabia and Qatar), the domestic and foreign policies of which are overtly conservative, if not reactionary in character.
Moreover, these countries are increasingly interfering in the internal affairs of their neighbors, ever more assertively fighting to expand their influence in the region, as evidenced, in particular, by the severance of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which occurred in early January, shortly after the executions in the Saudi Kingdom of the Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.
Will the war against ISIS help or hurt Russia’s influence in the region?
At first, the response of Moscow was quite calm to the tumultuous upheavals in the Arab world, as well as to events in North Africa and the Middle East.
The Russian leadership refused to use its veto in the UN Security Council in order to save the regime of Muammar Gaddafi, a Libyan dictator, from the imposition of a no-fly zone in Libya during an anti-government uprising in that country. Subsequently, Moscow recognized the results of the elections to legitimize the new authorities in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
However, at all times, Russia was very critical of the overall strategy of the united West, led by the United States. In the Middle East, it said, “attempts to transplant onto the soil of other countries own models of state structure and development, ignoring the traditions and values ​​of others... will not bring success.”
After the Cold War ended, very few countries in the Arab world remained more or less under the influence of Russian foreign policy. However, the whirlwind of “Arab revolutions” brought a clear threat, and increased this influence. However, there are exceptions.

For example, after coming to power in Egypt, the generals led by Abdel al-Sisi greatly intensified political and economic ties between Moscow and Cairo, and Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly stressed the “remarkable personal courage” of the new Egyptian leader in his fight against terrorism.
Therefore, as the civil war intensified in Syria, leading to a real threat that the regime of President Bashar al-Assad would fall, as well as the prospect of further expansion of the influence of ISIS, forced the Russian government to openly join the aerial military campaign at the end of September 2015. It is unlikely that this decision was in the works long before that time, as just a year before, Lavrov stressed that, "we do not support any of the parties in the internal conflict in Syria.”

 The opinion of the author may not necessarily reflect the position of Russia Direct or its staff. 

Yet the decision to become directly engaged in the Syrian war has ambiguous consequences for Russia’s influence in the broader Middle East. On the one hand, as the historian Georgiy Mirskiy noted, “Putin saved Damascus... from the fate of Kabul.”
At the same time, most of the Arab countries, which today are under the influence of Saudi Arabia, are openly not happy with the role being played by the military aviation forces of Russia in Syria. The newly formed “Sunni Coalition against Terrorism,” with Saudi Arabia at the center, clearly intends to fight against ISIS, and intends to remove Assad from power in Damascus as well.
Apparently, the task of Russian diplomacy in the coming year will be to explain the legitimacy and correctness of Moscow’s position in influential Sunni Arab countries. This is a delicate and very difficult task, given that a significant part of public opinion in the Arab world sees the Syrian conflict as a continuation of the traditional struggle between Sunni and Shia sects.
At the same time, the terrorist attacks that have been occurring in January in various countries of the East have demonstrated once again that the threat posed by “international terrorists” is fatal in nature, including in societies dominated by Sunni Muslims.
This factor, no doubt, will be used by Russian diplomacy in the future, bringing Moscow’s views to Arab politicians, and once again claiming that Russia’s foreign policy towards the Arab world is based on the principles of respect for national sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in internal affairs of other countries.

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Bill Clinton Shares Memories of Hillary Clinton’s Ability to Connect With His Adversaries

By Nick Corasaniti

As Bill Clinton took to the campaign trail on Wednesday in New Hampshire to make the case for Hillary Clinton, he took a few trips down memory lane, the accomplishments of the 1990s still apparently fresh in the 42nd president’s mind.As are the memories of his adversaries, whom he recalled in part to show that Mrs. Clinton had experience reaching across the aisle.
Mr. Clinton said that, while his wife was in the Senate, she worked with “my nemesis” Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House who presided over his impeachment hearing, to discuss improvements in organizing the military.
And he mentioned Tom DeLay, the conservative House Republican leader whom Mr. Clinton described as, “the most partisan of all the pre-Tea Party Congress, who disliked me more than anyone in Congress.”
He told a story from his administration of how at least once Mr. DeLay found some common ground with Mrs. Clinton.He recalled a day when Mrs. Clinton came “virtually skipping down the hall,” telling him that she had “found the human streak in Tom DeLay.”
“And I said, ‘Tell me, where is it?’ ” Mr. Clinton said, as the crowd broke into an extended laughter.
But as Mr. Clinton finished the story, the laughter gave way to sighs, and indeed, a humanizing streak had been found.Mr. Clinton continued, “She said, ‘Bill, he’s an adoptive parent, and he loves his children.’ ”

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Afghan Music - Ahmad Zahir - Gar Zolefe Poraysh

The U.S. Spent a Half Billion on Mining in Afghanistan With ‘Limited Progress’

by Megan McCloskey 

The United States has spent nearly half a billion dollars and five years developing Afghanistan’s oil, gas and minerals industries — and has little to show for it, a government watchdog reported today.
The project’s failings are the result of poorly planned programs, inadequate infrastructure and a challenging partnership with the Afghan government, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction wrote in its newest damning assessment of U.S. efforts in the war-torn country. The finding comes after some 200 SIGAR reports have detailed inefficient, unsuccessful or downright wasteful reconstruction projects. A recent ProPublica analysis of the reports found that there has been at least $17 billion in questionable spending.
The United States Agency for International Development and a Pentagon task force were in charge of developing a so-called “extractive” industry in Afghanistan — basically a system for getting precious resources out of the ground and to the commercial market. SIGAR called out both USAID and the Defense Department last year for their failures to coordinate and to ascertain the ability of Afghans to sustain the project, which unsurprisingly is not promising. In fact, when international aid stopped supporting the Afghan office responsible for oversight of the petroleum and natural gas industries, two-thirds of the staff were fired.
Exploiting these resources, which are estimated to be worth as much as $1 trillion, is pivotal to Afghanistan’s economic future. SIGAR noted that the Afghan government has shown progress under USAID’s tutelage in regulating and developing the commercial export of the resources. But the report said the project was still hampered by corruption, structural problems and a lack of infrastructure for the mining industry, such as reliable roads. Many of the mines operate illegally, with some profit going to the insurgency, SIGAR said.
When it came to individual extractive projects, there was little progress made, the IG found.
The controversial Pentagon task force in charge of much of the effort, the Task Force for Business Stability Operations, spent $215 million on 11 extractive programs, but “after operating in Afghanistan for 5 years, TFBSO left with nearly all of its extractive projects incomplete,” SIGAR found. Three of the programs technically met objectives, but one of those is of questionable value at best. The task force built a gas station for an outrageously inflated cost and in the end it didn’t have any customers. So while the objective to create the station was achieved, SIGAR doubted it was a worthwhile venture.
The task force, made up of mostly civilian business experts and designed to develop the Afghan economy, has come under fire from SIGAR and Congress for demanding unusual and expensive accommodationsin the country, allegedly punishing a whistleblower, and lacking overall accountability. The Senate is holding a hearing on the task force next week.
In today’s report, SIGAR highlighted that the task force spent $46.5 million to try to convince companies to agree to develop the resources, but not one ended up signing a contract. About $122 million worth of task force programs had mixed results, SIGAR said.
The Defense Department declined SIGAR’s request to comment on its findings. In its response, USAID said it has helped Afghanistan “enact investor-friendly extractive legislation, improve the ability to market, negotiate and regulate contracts, and generate geological data to identify areas of interest to attract investors.” Any conclusions and criticisms, USAID told SIGAR, “need to be substantially tempered by the reality that mining is a long-term endeavor.”

Pakistan: Interest in Ahmadiyya tenets makes citizen fear for life

A citizen was compelled on Tuesday to move the district and sessions court after being cautioned against perusing Ahmadiyya literature.

Petitioner Bilal Munawar told the court that some individuals had threatened to kill him after learning that he was reading Ahmadiyya texts.  Munawar said he was a faithful, law abiding, enterprising and learned citizen. The petitioner said that he hailed from a moderate Muslim family. He said his elders had pledged allegiance to Jamaat-i-Ahmadiyya (JA) before converting to Islam in 1974.

Munawar said he had chanced upon some books belonging to his elders lying in his house’s store. He said he had come to acquire a great deal of knowledge about theology, freedom of speech, importance of prayer and its significance when offered alongside others by reading the books. Munawar said all the texts had been authored by one Mirza Bashirud Din Mahmood Ahmad (the second caliph of the JA).

He said his mother had counselled him to desist from reading any more Ahmadiyya literature. Munawar said she had told him to consign the books to flames saying that his parents had embraced Islam and the family had no links with the community. He told the court that he had come to discover that some of his elders, including his maternal grandfather and maternal uncle were noted orators and writers who had represented the community when it was in its formative stages. Munawar said scores of their books were still read the world over.

He said the great stature of his relatives had left an indelible mark on him and greatly stoked his interest in finding as much as he could about his elders and their accomplishments.

Munawar said this had left his mother perturbed who had reported his activities to Tahir, a local maulvi. He said Tahir had told on him to other “rabid” maulvis of the area. Munawar said Maulana Muhammad Naeem Qadri had then personally visited his house in a bid to prevent him from learning about JA founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, his teachings or Ahmadiyyat saying this would render him an infidel.

He said he had refused to accept Qadri’s counsel as it was devoid of reason. Munawar said he, as an independent citizen, had every right to learn, read, analyse and delve into comparative religion. Munawar said fanatical maulvis had turned against him on finding that he was taking great interest in Ahmadiyyat. He said they had made a habit of visiting his house time and again to coerce him. Munawar said he had also received threatening phone calls that had left him anxious and made him fear for his life.

He said he had then approached the relevant SHO and the CCPO’s office in vain to have an FIR registered against unidentified individuals. Munawar implored the court to direct police to provide him security, probe the matter and register an FIR against those who had threatened to kill him.

Pakistan - Jaish e Muhammad’s Masood Azhar bodyguards killed shia doctor in 2000

“On April 2nd, 2000 a Shia professional, Dr. Sibtain Dossa* was gunned down in the Southern port city of Karachi. Two of the absconding suspects in this murder were bodyguards of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief, Masood Azhar (The General and Jihad: Pakistan under Musharaf, Chapter 4, Wilson, John) ”
Jaish e Mohammad, a Takfiri Deobandi terrorist outfit allied and interconnected with ASWJ-LeJ (formerly known as Sipah Sahaba commits a terrorist attack on an Indian airforce base in Pathankot last week and faces global censure – as it should. Pakistan’s “liberals” write the odd column or two which are typically full of omissions such as the specific Deobandi identity of Jaish, its close connections with ASWJ-LeJ and its involvement in the local murders of Shia Muslims.
Actually, the last point is something that most of Pakistan’s “liberals” can never write a proper column on without providing backhanded justifications for ‪#‎ShiaGenocide‬. As per these “liberals”, Shias deserve their genocide because of some obscure landlord in rural areas or the exceptional statement by some cleric. For these “liberals” even a weak, wish-washy condemnation of #ShiaGenocide is conditional based , if it at all. For this lobby, all Shias = Iranian proxies barring some Uncle Tom Shia apologists who start berating and mocking the victims belonging to their own faith based community.
On April 2nd, 2000 a Shia professional, Dr. Sibtain Dossa* was gunned down in the Southern port city of Karachi. Two of the absconding suspects in this murder were bodyguards of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief, Masood Azhar (The General and Jihad: Pakistan under Musharaf, Chapter 4, Wilson, John)
The killers of the doctor were probably easy to identify. After killing the unarmed doctor in his medical clinic like some of the glorious heroes of the “Golden age”, the gang of killers were accosted outside by an individual who tried to capture them until they shot and wounded him too.
Following the execution of Saudi dissident scholar Sheikh Nimr, Pakistan’s “liberals” wrote the typical obfuscatory column by first misrepresenting the joint Sunni Sufi and Shia protests. They then chose selective metrics (like annual executions) to perpetuate the Iran = Saudi binary. They clearly left out crucial omissions such as the central role of Saudi Wahabism in global terrorism.
Similarly, in the case of Jaish, Pakistan’s (Fake) liberal mafia is omitting both the Deobandi ideology of Jaish as well as its role in #ShiaGenocide. Some of these “liberals” are just well disguised Jamaati bigots. Dig a little deeper and the frothing Jhangvi is not too far below the surface.
*Dr. Sibtain is one of over 160 Shia doctors/surgeons/medical professionals who have been killed in Pakistan by ISIS-affiliated Deobandi terrorists in the last couple of decades simply because of their faith identity.

Apprentice star tells how she was sexually assaulted in Pakistan by gang of men as she filmed BBC documentary

A former star of The Apprentice has revealed that she was sexually assaulted by a gang of men in Pakistan as she filmed a BBC documentary.

Saira Khan, who was runner up in the first series of the show, was assaulted while filming in a square during a religious holiday in 2007.

The TV presenter, whose parents were raised in Pakistan, claims she was surrounded by men who groped and pressed up against her 'grabbing her boobs, bum and legs' as she tried to shoot scenes for a piece during Prophet Mohammed’s birthday.
Saira Khan, who was runner-up in the first series of The Apprentice, was assaulted while filming for the BBC in a Pakistan square during a religious holiday in 2007
The TV presenter, whose parents were raised in Pakistan, claims she was surrounded by men who groped and pressed up against her 'grabbing her boobs, bum and legs' as she tried to shoot scenes for a piece to camera
The TV presenter, whose parents were raised in Pakistan, claims she was surrounded by men who groped and pressed up against her 'grabbing her boobs, bum and legs' as she tried to shoot scenes for a piece to camera
She opened up to ITV's Loose Women about the horrifying moment she was assaulted before she was eventually rescued by a member of her crew.
In a column for the Mail On Sunday, she also accused the BBC of ignoring the attack and the issue that 'Asian, Arab and African men grow up in societies where misogyny is the cultural norm'.

She wrote: 'In 2007, I was asked by the BBC to travel to Pakistan and make a documentary.
'One particular shoot was to take place on the day when the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday was celebrated. My all-male British team were nervous because thousands of Pakistani men were to gather in a square and I was to report from the crowd.
'I was determined to do the piece and naively I thought: "Nothing will happen to me, it’s a spiritual day." 

'I was dressed in the native shalwaar kameez – long baggy trousers and a tunic to cover my body. I wore a scarf around my head to show respect. 
'All that was visible were my hands and face. With much persuasion, my director David allowed me to walk by myself near a crowd of men.
'I realised within five minutes what an idiot I had been – I was the only woman in this crowd. I was spotted and within minutes a group of men had circled me and hands were all over me while bodies pressed up against mine. I was rescued by our burly ‘fixer’ who carried me out.
'I was shaking and shocked – and I was angry at myself for being so naive after everything I had grown up with.'
It comes after a spate of sexual attacks in Cologne, Germany where there have been 516 reports of women being attacked by a group of men described as North African.
She said: 'Understanding how African and Asian men view and treat women in their own countries is crucial when dealing with the migrant crisis – because only when we understand their cultural practices can we help them to integrate. They need to understand that women are deemed equal to men in Western societies.
'Here in the West, we need to stop burying our heads in the sand and accept that Asian, Arab and African men grow up in societies where misogyny is the cultural norm. We need to talk about it so we can change it.
'Ignoring it, like the BBC did, is just condoning it. If we are allowing people to come in, we must also make sure that we are not blinded by some truths which are hard to swallow.
'It is a betrayal of the truth, of the majority of decent migrants and – most of all – of women who must not see progress turned back for the sake of accommodating a medieval world view.'

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Pakistan: Raid on Journalist Latest Act of Intimidation

The raid by a Pakistani paramilitary force on a journalist’s house is just the latest attempt by Pakistan’s security agencies to intimidate journalists who criticize the government and military, Human Rights Watch said today.
On January 12, 2016, soldiers from the paramilitary Pakistan Rangers entered and, without a warrant, searched the house of Salman Masood, a journalist working for the New York Times. In November 2015, the military allegedly pressured the Lahore-based Daily Times to shut down an editorial columnist.
The Interior Ministry issued an apology later that day and ordered an inquiry into the raid on Masood. The government asserted that the action was part of a broader search operation in the neighborhood. However, only one other house was searched, raising serious concerns that the raid’s purpose was to harass and intimidate Masood, Human Rights Watch said. Masood has reported extensively about government policies and the role of the military.
“The Pakistan Rangers’ warrantless search of journalist Salman Masood’s home is an outrage, but only the latest security force outrage against journalists in Pakistan,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “A raid on a journalist’s home demands not just a government apology, but also a serious Pakistani government investigation of the security forces’ intimidation of journalists.”
The government should rescind official policies that shield the military from criticism and instead ensure that space for public debate and free speech is protected both from extremist groups and the security establishment, Human Rights Watch said.
Masood said that on the morning of January 12, armed men in uniforms of the Pakistan Rangers, a paramilitary organization, demanded to search his house. They refused to show identification or a search warrant. Masood initially refused entry, saying that family members were in the house, and called senior police officials for an explanation. The troops left but returned half an hour later, accompanied by women police constables. Masood said that the security forces claimed to be searching for a terror suspect, but without explanation opened cupboards and drawers and went through his personal belongings.
In May 2013, the Interior Ministry, under pressure from the military, ordered the longtime New York Times bureau chief, Declan Walsh, to be expelled from the country on 72 hours’ notice.
Pakistani journalists have long faced life-threatening obstacles to their work, including harassment, intimidation, assault, kidnapping, and arbitrary arrest and detention. These threats come from the government, security forces, and militant groups. Increasingly, it is security forces who are pressuring editors and media owners to shut down critical voices.
The stifling environment for Pakistani journalists was highlighted by the case of Dr. Mohammed Taqi, a well-known columnist for the Daily Times who was often critical of the security establishment. Taqi reported that on November 27, he received an email from one of his editors that read:
It is with an extremely heavy heart that I regret to inform you that Daily Times will be unable to accommodate your daring and conscientious articles. Due to the climate under which print media operates in these times such pieces are constantly being put under scrutiny and so the newspaper with it.
Taqi later wrote a long article criticizing the role of the military in silencing dissent. Taqi wrote, “A six-year association with the Daily Times thus ended under pressure from Pakistan’s almighty army.”
In August, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry issued a code of conduct for media that seeks to censor any content that “contains aspersions against the judiciary or armed forces.”
Pakistan remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. More than 35 journalists and media workers have been killed in Pakistan because of their work since 2010. The Committee to Protect Journalists’ Global Impunity Index placed Pakistan ninth on the list of countries where journalists are murdered without the attackers being prosecuted.
In April 2014, unidentified gunmen attacked Hamid Mir, one of Pakistan’s most prominent television anchors in Karachi. Mir survived the attack, and Jang/Geo – his employer and the country’s largest media conglomerate – accused the director general of the powerful Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) agency of involvement in the incident. The government formed a judicial commission to investigate the shooting, but its proceedings remain opaque and no findings have been made public.
Freedom of expression and the media in Pakistan are further constrained by vague and overbroad counterterrorism legislation such as the Protection of Pakistan Act (PPA) and the Fair Trial Act, which give the security agencies expansive powers to conduct surveillance and silence dissent. The proposed cybercrimes bill includes provisions that would allow the government to censor online content and criminalize Internet user activity under extremely broad criteria that could be susceptible to abusive application. The bill would also permit the authorities access to the data of Internet users without any form of judicial review to justify that access.
While terrorist attacks are a genuine concern in Pakistan, limitations on fundamental freedoms must adhere to international standards. Any restrictions need to be prescribed by law, necessary in a democratic society, and proportionate to the aim. The military’s censoring of critical voices falls considerably short of these standards, Human Rights Watch said.
“The security forces’ threats and harassment of journalists make a mockery of Pakistan’s claims of being a democratic society,” Adams said. “Soldiers who become censors are an ugly reminder of military rule.”

Printers Censor Another New York Times Article, Shedding Light on Pakistan's Stifled Speech Environment

By Sana Saleem

Pakistani printers removed a front-page story titled “Imperiled Bloggers of Bangladesh” from the 2 January 2016 edition of the international version of The New York Times, leaving blank spaces behind.

Salman Masood, the New York Times’ correspondent in Pakistan, tweeted the two different versions of the paper:
The article describes the killings of Bangladeshi bloggers who write about secularism, atheism, human rights and civil liberties. It begins by profiling Asif Mohiuddin, who survived a stabbing attack in 2013 and was soon after imprisoned for his progressive writings. His story is similar to those of numerous other Bangladeshi bloggers who have been targeted and sometimes killed after being singled out and accused of “atheism” by religious hardliners. Atheists have the same rights as all other citizens in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, but the country's secular government has nevertheless done little to discourage the attacks or bring the killers to justice.
The fact that the front-page story was removed in Pakistan by the Express Tribune, the printing partner of The New York Times, created a stir on social media. Many pointed out that this censorship is nothing new in Pakistan.
Some even compared it to authorities’ iron grip on media during the rule of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq from 1978 to 1988:
Blank columns of the NYT reminiscent of the Zia era