Thursday, February 4, 2016

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Trump’s Nobel nod shows confused Western values

By Liu Zhun 

Claiming the runner-up position to Ted Cruz at the just-concluded presidential nominee caucuses in Iowa, self-opinionated billionaire Donald Trump might have been a tad upset. Now there is something to cheer him up - a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.

Someone, likely a Republican senator or congressman who is among the thousands of people that are authorized to nominate notable organizations and individuals for the prize, submitted the nomination a few days before the February 1 deadline.

Kristian Berg Harpviken, a well-known Nobel watcher and director of the Peace Research Institute of Oslo, was sent a copy of the nomination letter, which spoke highly of Trump's "vigorous peace through strength ideology, used as a threat weapon of deterrence against radical Islam, ISIS, nuclear Iran and Communist China."

Harpviken described the odds of Trump winning the prize as "entirely unlikely." His competitors include Edward Snowden, Greek island groups welcoming Syrian refugees, and a woman's rights activist who escaped from sexual enslavement by the Islamic State. 

The nomination farce could just be a political stunt. The laudatory nomination letter is a satirical reflection of Trump's political statements in the past months. His bellicose, Islamophobic and nationalist remarks are going viral on the Internet, raising a lot of controversies and attracting countless accusations both at home and abroad.

Winning a Nobel prize or not does not matter that much for Trump. A title of "Nobel Peace Prize nominee" is enough to be an asset for him in the following phase of the presidential election. The radical and incendiary Trump being nominated for a prize that calls for peace, stability and the improvement of humanity is like a square peg in a round hole. To some extent, this mirrors how Western politics have evolved during the years, and there are no limits to the tricks used in politics.

The Nobel Peace Prize, since its foundation, has been doubted as unjust, and some winners caused controversies and protests. This prize, in most cases, echoes what Western values advocate, instead of basing itself on the diversity of all humanity and values. It is too close to politics, and cannot avoid being prejudiced.

Now, the prize, as a symbol of Western values, is being abused by politicians and opportunists like Trump for their own benefits. Putting a gloss on Trump's wantonness, it shows the system of Western values is confusingly misused for the benefits of individuals, especially those from vested interest groups, instead of the public. The trend will blind the public, creating a foul atmosphere that will eventually harm the voters' interests.

Putin: Patriotism is only possible ‘national idea’ for Russians

The only possible unifying idea for Russia is patriotism, according to President Vladimir Putin.
“We have no national idea besides patriotism, and there can be no other,” he said at a meeting of the Leaders’ Club, a voluntary association of entrepreneurs from 40 of Russia’s regions.
According to Putin, the idea of patriotism “is not ideologized or associated with the work of a party or any social structure."
Putin went on to say that it is not enough that "the president or anyone else speaks about this just once” in order to implement this national idea.
In order to implement the consciousness of patriotism as a national idea, according to Putin, "we need to talk about it constantly, at all levels."
In earlier speeches Putin has repeatedly talked about the importance of patriotism. In the summer of 2015, he said that patriotism is "the sacred duty of Russians," and in October called it a "moral compass" for teenagers.
However, his own definition of Russia’s “national idea” appears to have changed over time, with statements made in previous years demonstrating a certain inconsistency.
Back in 2004, Putin said at a meeting with his closest confidants that the Russian national idea was competitiveness.
“A person must be competitive, as well as towns, villages, industries and the whole country. That is our fundamental national idea today,” he said.
But in 2011, in an interview with Russian magazine VIP-Premier, Putin said that the Russian national idea was "saving people," quoting dissident author Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

Malala Yousafzai Creates Scarf With TOMS to Benefit the Malala Fund: 'My Fight for Education Will Continue'

By age 18, Malala Yousafzai has accomplished more than most people will in a lifetime. Her tireless mission to provide access to education for girls in her home country of Pakistan has resulted in her being shot in the head while riding her school bus in 2012; recovering and, with her father, founding the Malala Fund to raise awareness and money for the cause in 2013; and earning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 (the prize money from which she used to build a secondary school in Pakistan).
And as she continues to pursue her own education, give talks around the world and promote her documentary, Yousafzai still managed to find time to do one more thing: create a scarf with TOMS to benefit her foundation.
Malala Fund x TOMS scarfCOURTESY TOMS

“I am so proud to be partnering with the Malala Fund, and the entire movement that was inspired by Malala,” TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie tells PeopleStyle of the collaboration. “Too often young girls can’t go to school because they must work, or they have to marry, or many times there is too much violence around their schools. This movement is committed to supporting the rights of all girls globally to have access to 12 years of safe and quality education. All of us at TOMS are honored to be able to partner with the Malala Fund and help provide education to girls around world.”
And Yousafzai is equally excited about the product, the first of its kind for TOMS. “It’s a scarf girls and women can wear all over the world from the U.S. to Pakistan, whether as a fashion accessory or a beautiful headscarf or hijab,” she tells PeopleStyle. “Any girl or woman can wear it, however she wishes, to show her support for girls’ education globally. But most importantly, TOMS is giving 100 percent of the profits from every scarf to the Malala Fund to empower girls through education and I am so grateful for that.”
Celebrities wearing Malala Fund x TOMS scarfCOURTESY TOMS
Celebrities including Anna Faris, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Octavia Spencer have all shown support for the cause by wearing the scarf and “creating a community and conversation around it,” as Mycoskie puts it. But that’s just one small part of Yousafzai’s exciting 2015 and even busier 2016 that she has planned.
“Most exciting for me last year was visiting Lebanon near the Syrian border on my birthday. I was there to open a school for 200 Syrian refugee girls, built and run with donations from Malala Fund supporters,” she says. “So many Syrian children have suffered from losing family members, friends, their homes and their schools. It is very important to me that they do not lose hope for their future. We are working hard to make sure they can get quality education, wherever they are — in their host countries or refugee camps.”
And she’s not slowing down one bit — 2016 will see her continue her quest to provide girls with education, up to and including herself.
“I am also focused on my studies. I tell people around the world that all girls need a quality education — and that applies to me as well,” she tells PeopleStyle. “I enjoy school, so I’m looking forward to studying, learning and continuing the fight to give all girls around the world the same opportunities. My fight for education will continue. My aim for 2016 is to raise the voices of Syrian refugee children, for their safety and education and peace.”
She adds: “Every girl deserves an education and the opportunity to reach her full potential, but more than 60 million girls around the world are out of school today. Far too many of my sisters are denied their right to education because of poverty, war, tradition, discrimination. I believe everyone reading this would want the best for their own daughters.
So I’m asking all of you to stand with me and join the fight to educate all girls. How can we succeed when so many of us are held back?”
Pick up your own Malala Fund x TOMS scarf, which will retail for $48 and will be available at
What do you think of the scarf? Will you be adding the charitable accessory to your spring wardrobe? 

Obama to seek new tax on oil in budget proposal

U.S. President Barack Obama will propose a $10-a-barrel fee on oil in his budget plan next week, as the White House seeks to boost the nation's investments in clean transportation projects, the White House said on Thursday.
The fee, which would be paid by oil companies, is likely to fall flat in the Republican-controlled Congress.

In the last year of his presidency, Obama has said the country must stop subsidizing the "dirty" fossil fuels of the past and focus on clean, renewable fuels that do not exacerbate climate change.
"By placing a fee on oil, the President's plan creates a clear incentive for private sector innovation to reduce our reliance on oil and at the same time invests in clean energy technologies that will power our future," the White House said in a statement.
The long-shot proposal for the oil fee, set to be announced in Obama's fiscal 2017 budget plan on Tuesday, would provide nearly $20 billion a year to help expand transit systems across the country and more than $2 billion a year to support research and development of self-driving vehicles and other low-carbon technologies.
The Obama administration's energy policies have been a lightning rod for Republicans in Congress, who have blasted the White House for not doing enough to support America's oil and gas producers. Republicans have thwarted previous administration proposals to end certain tax breaks for oil producers.

Actually, Marco Rubio Is The One Pitting Americans Against Each Other

Igor Bobic

He criticized Obama's mosque visit as being divisive. But Rubio's rhetoric on Muslims is the real problem.

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) slammed President Barack Obama's visit to a mosque on Wednesday, during which the president denounced anti-Muslim rhetoric, for "pitting people against each other."
But Rubio, who often advocates for religious liberty and speaks of his faith on the campaign trail, is the one engaging in divisive rhetoric.
After Donald Trump said he would consider shutting down U.S. mosques in the wake of the Paris terror attacks, which were carried out by Islamic extremists, Rubio declined to discount the idea in an interview on Fox News: 
It’s not about closing down mosques. It’s about closing down any place -- whether it’s a cafe, a diner, an internet site -- any place where radicals are being inspired. The bigger problem we have is our inability to find out where these places are, because we’ve crippled our intelligence programs, both through unauthorized disclosures by a traitor in Edward Snowden, or by some of the things this president has put in place with the support even of some from my own party to diminish our intelligence capabilities.
“So whatever facility is being used -- it’s not just a mosque -- any facility that’s being used to radicalize and inspire attacks against the United States should be a place that we look at.”
In contrast, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called the notion of shutting down mosques and creating a database of Muslims "just wrong."
During the last Republican presidential debate in Des Moines, Rubio suggestedthat radical Muslims who have not turned to violence do not have a right to free speech under the First Amendment because the threat posed by the so-called Islamic State is "unprecedented."
"Radical Muslims and radical Islam is not just hate talk, it's hate action. They blow people up. Look at what they did in San Bernardino, look at the attack they inspired in Philadelphia ... where a guy shot a police officer three times, told the police 'I did it because I was inspired by ISIS,'" he said. 
On the matter of Syrian refugees, Rubio has been all over the place. In September, the senator said he was open to admitting Syrian and Iraqi refugees because of America's historical role of harboring the oppressed. A month later, after the Paris attacks, Rubio ruled out refugees entirely because, he claimed, the U.S. is not adequately able to vet them.
Since then, Rubio has moderated his stance to allow widows and orphans.
"Does common sense still apply? Of course it does. A 5-year-old orphan, a 90-year-old widow, a well-known Chaldean priest -- these are obviously common-sense applications, and you can clearly vet them just by common sense," he said.
As Rubio grows closer to consolidating the establishment wing of the GOP ahead of the New Hampshire primary, he is increasingly viewed as the more sensible, moderate choice to bombastic candidates like Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. But his rhetoric on Muslims seems to suggest he is anything but.

Clinton, Sanders poised for face-to-face fight tonight

By Stephen Collinson

The Democratic race for president will take another twist on Thursday when Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders clash in their first face-to-face debate since the Iowa caucuses.
The rivals have been swapping increasingly explicit attacks over who best represents the political soul of their party after finishing almost neck-and-neck in Iowa and moving to New Hampshire, where the Vermont senator enjoys a big lead.
    The debate at 9 p.m. in New Hampshire airing on MSNBC comes a day after a combative CNN town hall meeting in which Clinton and Sanders feuded over who best represents progressive values.
    Sanders argued that a candidate who has a super PAC and takes political contributions from people who work on Wall Street and voted for the Iraq War could never be seen as an authentic progressive. Clinton said she was amused that Sanders considered himself as the "gatekeeper" of what it means to be a progressive.
    Ahead of next Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, both candidates are likely to make the case that they best represent what the Democratic Party stands for.
    "I do not know any progressive who has a super PAC and takes $15 million from Wall Street," Sanders told CNN moderator Anderson Cooper on Wednesday night. "That's just not progressive."
    Clinton, who appeared on stage after Sanders, said that she was amused he had become the judge of progressivism.
    "So I'm not going to let that bother me," she said. "I know where I stand."
    Sanders will likely seek to capitalize on Clinton's uneven performance at the town hall. She sounded confident on policy and connected with the audience when she shared moments from her personal life but stumbled on topics that have dogged her throughout the campaign, including her vote on the Iraq War and her relationship with Wall Street.
    Her toughest moment of the night came when she was asked to address the paid speeches she gave at Goldman Sachs after leaving the State Department.
    Clinton started to explain that Goldman wasn't the only group that paid her for speeches. But when Cooper interjected and asked, "Did you have to be paid $675,000?" Clinton appeared caught off guard.
    "Well, I don't know. Um, that's what they offered," she said.
    Clinton went on to insist that at the time of the speeches, she was undecided on whether to seek the White House.
    Sanders, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, found himself defending his own credentials as a member of the Democratic Party, noting that the party's leadership on Capitol Hill has placed him in high-ranking positions on congressional committees.
    "Of course I am a Democrat and running for the Democratic nomination," he said.
    Sanders pushed back on the suggestion that Clinton is a better general-election candidate than he would be.
    Polls in New Hampshire suggest the primary will not be as close as the tight Democratic caucuses in Iowa. Sanders, riding his high favorability in a state that borders his stomping ground of Vermont, has a strong advantage, leading Clinton 55% to 37% in the latest CNN Poll of Polls.
    Clinton, however, is the national front-runner and is looking to the South Carolina primary later this month to start demonstrating that she has wider appeal among ethnically diverse Democratic activists than Sanders.

    Video - CNN's Democratic town hall in 90 seconds

    Video - President Obama Speaks at the National Prayer Breakfast

    Mera Babu Chail Chabila-Runa Laila

    Mehdi Hassan ...Ranjish Hi Sahi

    Noor Jahan - Noor Jahan Live - Chandni Raatein



    Mallika Pukhraj - ملکہ پکھراج کو مداحوں سے بچھڑے بارہ برس بیت گئے

    ملکہ پکھراج کو مداحوں سے بچھڑے بارہ برس بیت گئے

    برصغیر کی لیجنڈ غزل گائیکہ ملکہ پکھراج کو مداحوں سے بچھڑے بارہ برس بیت گئے۔ ملکہ پکھراج نے درجنوں غزلیں گائیں,لیکن ابھی تو میں جوان ہوں آج بھی سننے والوں کانوں میں رس گھول دیتی ہے۔
    کلاسیکل موسیقی کی ملکہ، ملکہ پکھراج انیس سو بارہ کو جموں کشمیر کے ایک گائیک گھرانے میں پیدا ہوئیں۔ نو سال کی عمر میں کشمیر کے مہاراجہ ہری سنگھ نے ان کی جادوئی آواز سے متاثر ہو کر انہیں اپنے دربار میں گانے کی ذمہ داری دے دی۔ جس کو انہوں نے نو برس تک نبھایا۔
    ملکہ پکھراج نے اپنے فنی کیرئیر میں درجنوں غزلیں اور کلام گائے، لیکن غزل ابھی تو میں جوان ہوں نے ان کو شہرت کی بلندیوں تک پہنچا دیا۔ انہیں انیس سو ستتر کو بھارت کے لیجنڈ آف وائس کے اعزاز جبکہ انیس سو اسی میں پاکستان کے پرائیڈ آف پرفارمنس کے ایوارڈ سے نوازا گیا۔ لیجنڈ غزل گائیکہ ملکہ پکھراج چار فروری دو ہزار چار کو لاکھوں مداحوں کو چھوڑ کرخالق حقیقی سے جا ملیں۔

    Anita Bashir painting over Bacha kahn University

    anita bashir art - Bacha khan University 6
    anita bashir art - Bacha khan University 5
    anita bashir art - Bacha khan University 4
    anita bashir art - Bacha khan University 3
    anita bashir art - Bacha khan University

    Pakistan: USCIRF Calls for the Immediate Release of Abdul Shakoor and the Dropping of all Charges

    The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) strongly condemns the arrest, detention, and sentencing of Abul Shakoor, an 80-year-old optician, for propagating the Ahmadiyya Muslim faith, which is banned in Pakistan.

    On December 2, 2015, Mr. Shakoor was charged with propagating the Ahmadiyya Muslim faith, a crime under the Pakistani Penal Code, and stirring up “religious hatred” and “sectarianism,” a crime under the 1997 Anti-Terrorism Act. Mr. Shakoor was arrested in his optical store after he was falsely accused of selling an Ahmadiyya commentary on the Holy Qur’an, among other publications, to an undercover police officer. On January 2, 2016, he was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment under Penal Code Section 298C and three years under the Anti-Terrorism Act, with the sentences to run concurrently. His store manager Mazhar Sipra, a Shi’a, also was arrested and sentenced to five years under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

    USCIRF Chairman Robert P. George said, “USCIRF calls on the Pakistani government to immediately release Mr. Shakoor and drop all charges against him.  His arrest and sentencing are outrageous enough, but more egregious is the fact that Pakistani constitutional and penal code provisions prevent Ahmadis from exercising their faith and even calling themselves Muslim, and that the country uses anti-terrorism laws as pretexts for denying peaceful citizens the fundamental human right to religious freedom.”

    Ahmadis in Pakistan are subject to severe legal restrictions, both in the constitution and criminal code, and suffer from officially-sanctioned discrimination. Ahmadis also continue to be murdered in religiously-motivated attacks that take place with impunity. Pakistan’s constitution declares Ahmadis to be “non-Muslims,” and the penal code make it criminal for Ahmadis to refer to themselves as Muslims; preach, propagate, or disseminate materials on their faith; or refer to their houses of worship as mosques.

    “The arrest and sentencing of Mr. Shakoor is another example of Pakistan’s systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of freedom of religion or belief,” said Chairman George.  “Both Mr. Shakoor and Mr. Sipra should be released immediately and all charges dropped. Furthermore, it is the duty of the Pakistani government to ensure the safety of both men.  Members of Pakistan’s Ahmadiyya community, as well as Shi’a Muslims, Christians, Hindus and others, deserve to have their basic human right to religious freedom both respected and protected by their government.”

    USCIRF since 2002 has recommended that Pakistan be named a “country of particular concern” (CPC) by the State Department under the U.S. International Religious Freedom Act for its “systematic, ongoing and egregious” violations of religious freedom. For more information on religious freedom conditions in Pakistan and for recommendations for U.S. policy, please see USCIRF’s 2015 Annual Report chapter on Pakistan here.

    Pakistan - PIA labour leaders were killed by none else than the pro-Taliban Saudi Stooge PM Nawaz Sharif

    Naseem Chaudhary 

    While labour union activists belonging to PIA were protesting against the shady privatisation deal of the country’s air line company, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was misusing the Rangers and security agencies to murder them. Since the success of the army Rangers in taking on the Takfiri Deobandi Taliban in urban Sindh and Balochistan and the FATA, they have subsequently been diverted by the PML N Federal government to settle political scores with the PPP and MQM in SIndh.
    Based on the orders of the PML N Federal Government headed by PM Nawaz Sharif, security personnel opened fire on unarmed protestors today resulting in the death of three labour union activists including Inayat Reza Jaffery. Inayat Raza, a qualified engineer was also a former vice president of NSF.
    Inspite of being encumbered by a weak and opportunistic leadership, the PPP provincial government is on record for opposing the shady privatisation of Pakistan’s national airline company PIA. PPP and other left parties (NSF) were supporting the ongoing protest by labour union activists against PIA’s privatisation by the PML N government. This shady privatisation deal is also alleged to include the PML N government buying public property in Sindh at throwaway prices similar to the shady purchase of KASB bank by Finance Minister and Nawaz Sharif’s In-Law, Ishaq Dar.
    In 2014, the Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and his notorious Pro ISIS Law Minister, Rana Sanaullah ordered the massacre of anti-Taliban Sunni activists who were dragged out of private premises and shot in the streets of Lahore. Over 100 innocent civilians belonging to the Anti-Taliban Sunni Sufi group Minhaj ul Quran were killed and wounded; including women.
    Senior PML N ministers like Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan and Rana Sanaullah continue to shelter ISIS-affiliated Deobandi hate clerics like the notorious cross dressing Maulana Aziz from the ongoing security action by the army. Meanwhile the army’s rangers and provincial police is being misused by the PML N government to massacre unarmed labour union activists in Karachi and anti-Taliban Sufi activists in Lahore. The Rangers are being directed by the PML N government to prosecute their political rivals like the PPP in Sindh while being forbidden to conduct operations against PML N’s political allies like ISIS-affiliated Deobandi terrorist groups ASWJ-LeJ/JeM in the Punjab.
    Pakistan’s Commerical/Nawaz-iyafa liberals continue to deliberately misinform the international media by misrepresenting the Saudi stooge Nawaz Sharif dynasty as “anti establishment”. Many of these commercial “liberals” and their progenitors were part of the anti-democracy PNA and lawyer’s movement where they combined forces with right-wing Deobandi fascists against elected governments and former allies.
    PM Nawaz Sharif already threatened to fire the protesting workers of PIA and “enforced the Essential Services (Maintenance) Act 1952 for six months, barring protesting members of the PIA from participating in any union activity.” DAWN.
    Will Pakistan’s so-called “Independent Judiciary” challenge this anti-workers piece of legislation. Or is there ire only reserved for samosa and sugar prices and going after Nawaz Sharif’s political rivals, the PPP. 
    After the massacre of labour activists in Karachi on the orders of the PML N government, Pakistan stands at a cross roads once again. PPP, PTI and MQM have a clear choice. Do they join these protests and spread them country wide or do they strike deals with the PML N regime. This latest atrocity by the Saudi-backed Nawaz Sharif regime will also test a judiciary that simply exists to protest the corruption of Nawaz Sharif while hounding his political rivals.
    The Rangers have disassociated themselves from this atrocity while the PML N and its attack dogs in the media continue to threaten protestors and labour union activists questioning the shady privatisation deals of this government.

    Security drill at Islamia college Peshawar spreads panic

    Aerial firing during a security rehearsal at Islamia College and University in Peshawar on Tuesday spread panic among the students and teachers.
    The drill was carried out in the backdrop of a terrorist attack on Bacha Khan University in Charsadda district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on January 20, which left at least 21 people dead.
    An insider familiar with the matter told The Express Tribune that police and army officials were conducting a security rehearsal at the varsity to provide firearms training to students and teachers.
    “Students ran out of their classes as they feared militants had stormed into the premises,” the source said.
    According to a student Saddam Khan, many pupils inside the varsity’s building were unaware that a security rehearsal was being conducted at the campus.
    “Students were worried after they heard firing,” he said. “We cannot concentrate on our studies in this kind of environment,” he added.
    Another student, Latifullah, urged college administration to inform about such drills.
    When contacted, Assistant Director Admissions Amir Azhar said students were informed of the rehearsal through a notification.

    Balochistan: Pakistan's information black hole

    Even in a country with no shortage of no-go areas, human rights investigators, diplomats and journalists agree the hardest place of all from which to get accurate information is Pakistan’s Balochistan province.
    State security agencies heavily restrict outsiders’ access to the resource rich region and lean on local media to ignore claims made by separatist insurgents unless confirmed by the authorities.
    Supporters of independence for Balochistan claim the province has been deliberately turned into an information “black hole” to prevent discussion of Baloch grievances at home and abroad.
    Bibi Gul, an activist at the Baloch Human Rights Organisation, tries to get around the restrictions through an informal network of smartphone users who distribute short audio news bulletins via apps such as Blackberry Messenger.
    If the dozens of messages generated by the system in mid-December had a lead story, it was an angry rejection of government claims that 13 people killed in the district of Arawan had been insurgent fighters. “It is a blatant lie,” a male voice growled from Gul’s phone. “They were unarmed civilians. The army raided houses and humiliated the women.”
    On a busy day Gul receives up to 30 short audio messages describing alleged human rights abuses by security forces, which she promptly forwards to 15 other people, who in turn send it on to yet more people.
    They also include highly sensitive reports about the movements of security forces as they approach villages. “We issue early warnings to local people so they can protect themselves,” she said.
    Few of the claims of killings and kidnappings of civilians by security forces that pass through Gul’s phone are covered by Pakistan’s domestic media.
    Journalists in Quetta, the provincial capital, say they cannot confirm most claims made by separatists because they have limited access to insurgent hotspots. They also say their lives are at risk if they do not report the version of events provided by state agencies.
    According to Amnesty International, 12 journalists have been killed in Balochistan for doing their jobs since 2008. Mustafa Qadri from Amnesty said the province is the hardest place in the country for human rights researchers to operate. “State and non-state actors exploit the lawlessness and remoteness of these areas to stifle independent investigation of what is happening on the ground,” he said.
    In recent years it has become increasingly rare for foreign diplomats and journalists to be given the “no objection certificates” required to visit Balochistan.
    During a visit to Gwadar, a strategic port near the Iranian border, the Guardian was prevented from reporting outside the confines of a hotel, despite the trip being covered by a no objection certificate issued by the information ministry in Islamabad.
    Officials say the system is necessary to ensure the security of visitors. But it also limits scrutiny of a province that hosts senior members of the Afghan Taliban and is rife with sectarian and nationalist militancy. Personnel from up to four different civilian and military intelligence agencies aggressively monitor foreign visitors, demanding details of stories and interviews.
    A local journalist working with the Guardian was even shown his recent call history by an intelligence agent and was warned of repercussions if any stories “damaged the integrity of the country”.
    Many interviewees are unwilling to meet under such heavy surveillance. ­
    “The [security] establishment is very touchy about anyone challenging their narrative that everything they are doing is good for Balochistan,” said Mohammad Ali Talpur, an activist and veteran of the insurgency that broke out in the 1970s.
    Talpur was recently dropped as a columnist by the Daily Times, which he says was due to official pressure on the newspaper. “Anger in the province has never been greater but they don’t want anyone to know about it,” he said.
    Two Indian journalists had their visas revoked in May 2014 because they had been “promoting stories about Balochistan in India”, according to one senior member of the government in Islamabad.
    In April one of Pakistan’s leading universities cancelled a seminar featuring Abdul Qadeer Baloch, the head of Voice for Baloch Missing Persons – which campaigns against the abduction of suspected militants and their supporters – after coming under pressure from the state’s most powerful intelligence agency.