Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Video Report - At least 28 dead, 61 injured, in Ankara car bomb blast

At least 28 dead, 61 injured as blast hits military bus in Turkish capital Ankara

At least 28 people have been killed nad 61 injured in a car explosion in Ankara, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister said. The blast happened in close proximity to the Turkish parliament building, and reportedly targeted military personnel.
The scene of the explosion is located in close proximity to Turkey's parliament, the Presidency of the General Staff, and Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard commands.
“We are very close to that place and we've heard two explosions,” one of the employees at a nearby hotel told RT by phone.“I went to the rooftop of our hotel and saw smoke… I saw a big fire. There is a military building around there… this was about 1 kilometer from us.”
A Turkish military general staff official has confirmed to Reuters the explosion targeted a bus carrying military personnel.
Social media users in Ankara say they heard a loud noise all across the city, and posted photos of a huge plume of smoke rising over downtown Eskisehir Avenue.
Omer Celik, a spokesperson for Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said on his Twitter account that the explosion was the result of a “cowardly terrorist attack.”
A Turkish government spokesman has said that the attack was well planned. President Recep Erdogan has postponed his upcoming visit to Azerbaijan in light of the incident.

Twenty ambulances were sent to the scene of the blast, media reported, citing medical officials.
Witnesses reported helicopters circling the area above the blast.
Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency said that the government has imposed a media gag order banning organizations from broadcasting or printing graphic images of those who were killed or injured in the explosion.
Meanwhile, NTV reported that there had been another explosion as demolitions experts destroyed a suspicious package discovered by police in a different area, near the Interior Ministry building.
There has been no claim of responsibility yet, however Turkish officials said they suspect that this was a Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) attack.
Anonymous security sources in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast told Reuters they believed Islamic State militants (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) were behind the bombing.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu canceled his trip to Brussels which was due later on Wednesday, an official in his office said.
Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag has condemned the attack, which he called “terrorist” on his Twitter account.
Last October several explosions at a peace rally in the Turkish capital killed more than 100 people and injured dozens more. The explosions appeared to be the result of suicide bomb attacks.

'We have proof' Turkey backs ISIS & other terrorists – Kurdish commander

Turkey favors Syrian jihadist groups that emerged from Al-Qaeda, a top Kurdish commander has told Russian media. He claims that Ankara, along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have been furnishing extremists with weapons and munitions.
The support the terrorist groups have been given by Turkey is confirmed by documentary evidence, Murat Karayılan, co-founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), told RIA Novosti.
Karayılan has been the acting leader of the PKK, a group considered terrorists by Turkey and the US, since its original leader Abdullah Öcalan was captured in 1999.
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has an “ideological inter-relationship” and joint interests with the radical Islamists, Karayılan said in an interview to RIA given in the Qandil Mountains, an area in Iraqi Kurdistan, next to the Iraq–Iran border.
“Along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Turkey has been sponsoring jihadists [in Syria] that emerged from Al-Qaeda… These states backed and armed radical Salafi groups, which base all of their actions on sharia [law],” he said.
“In this regard we fully agree with the statements of the Russian Defense Ministry," the Kurdish commander said. Moscow says Turkey has a mutually beneficial relationship with IS, buying oil from the areas captured by the terrorist group and acting as a supply line for arms and manpower.
The militants of Al-Nusra and IS are penetrating Rojava (in Syrian Kurdistan) from Turkish territory, Murat Karayılan stressed.
The Kurdish leader specifically noted that it was due to the “persistent interference” of Turkey and Saudi Arabia that the Kurds were not invited to Geneva for the Syria peace talks.
“Those very Kurds that have been so actively battling IS and shedding blood,” the Kurdish commander said, adding that it exposed forces that actually do not want a settlement of the Syrian crisis.
The Syrian conflict is multidimensional and involves the interests of many world powers, therefore its resolution to a great extent depends on the political transformation of the whole of the Middle East, Karayılan said, estimating Russia’s air campaign aimed at defeating the terrorist groups in Syria as important and positive.
“The region needs innovation, the formation of a new democratic government control system,” Karayılan said. “Syria will never be the same again. It needs changes.”

Putin: Ukraine does not comply with Minsk agreements

It is pointless to associate lifting sanctions against Russia with the implementation of the Minsk agreements, because Ukraine does not fulfill its commitments, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday at a press conference after the meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Putin noted that the Russian sanctions were a response to the sanctions that were unilaterally imposed against Russia by the European Union. "It does not depend on us, when the European Union lifts the sanctions. We have heard and we hear today that it depends on the implementation of the Minsk agreements between the parties of the Ukrainian conflict, which was supported in the Normandy format by Russia, France and Germany. However, it seems to me that any objective observer now sees that the ball is on the side of the Ukrainian authorities. First and foremost, they must fulfill the conditions of the Minsk agreements. I would like to remind you that the key thing is a political settlement, creating political conditions, primarily — introducing amendments to the constitution of Ukraine, which is directly recorded in the Minsk agreements. It clearly says that before the end of 2015, Ukraine must make changes to its constitution — as we can see, this was not done," the president said.
Putin noted there are other unsolved problems that hinder the implementation of the Minsk agreements. "It depends not only on Russia, but, first of all, from our partners in Kiev. We hope that they overcome turbulent political processes, and the political forces in Ukraine that really stand for the settlement of this problem can find strength and supporters to bring this process to the end," Putin said.
"It is pointless to associate lifting the EU sanctions against Russia with the implementation of the Minsk agreements now, because, I repeat, the ball is not on the side of Russia. Nevertheless, we are comfortable with the process as we are confident that sooner or later it will happen — normalization of relations between Russia and the EU," Putin condluded


Video - Putin, Orban meet in Moscow, discuss sanctions & refugee crisis

Sandra Bland's mother backs Hillary Clinton as she rallies a Chicago crowd

Trump's demonizing statements - Hate Groups And Arch-Conservative Extremism Grew In 2015 in U.S.

Christina Wilkie

The Southern Poverty Law Center says Donald Trump "electrified the radical right."

Donald Trump earned the dubious honor Wednesday of appearing on the cover of the Southern Poverty Law Center's annual report on extremism and hate groups in America.
Founded during the civil rights era to fight the Ku Klux Klan, the SPLC monitors extremist groups in America, a category that includes white supremacists, black separatists, neo-Nazis and the anti-government militia movement.

ter two years of cataloguing an annual drop in the number of extremist groups in the United States, the 2015 report noted a 14 percent rise in the number of hate groups operating in America during the past year.
According to the report, groups identified with conservative extremism and with the black separatist movement have both grown over the past year. In absolute terms, the number of radical conservative groups monitored by the SPLC increased from784 to to 892 last year, and the number of black separatist groups grew from 113 chapters to 180.
SPLC attributed the increase in black separatist groups to growing anger over the killing of black men by law enforcement officers, as well as institutionalized racism and other mistreatment and discrimination. Meanwhile, the campaign of Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump bolstered the growth of conservative extremist groups, SPLC senior fellow Mark Potok wrote.
"Trump's demonizing statements about Latinos and Muslims have electrified the radical right, leading to glowing endorsements from white nationalist leaders such as Jared Taylor and former Klansman David Duke," Potok wrote. "White supremacist forums are awash with electoral joy, having dubbed Trump their 'Glorious Leader.'"
The billionaire "has repaid the compliments, retweeting hate posts and spreading their false statistics on black-on-white crime," Potok added.
A spokeswoman for Trump did not respond to a request for comment from The Huffington Post.
But the civil rights group isn't reserving its criticism exclusively for Trump. A SPLC report about anti-Muslim hatred also singled out GOP hopeful Dr. Ben Carson, who said last year that he did not believe a Muslim should be president of the United States. And fellow Republican candidates Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush supported banning Syrian Muslim refugees from entering the United States, while accepting Christian refugees, the report noted.
Along with an increase in radical anti-government groups and black separatists, the SPLC identified a marked rise in the number of Ku Klux Klan branches last year -- growth it said was likely linked to the debate over removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse grounds after a white supremacist massacred black parishioners at a historic African-American church in Charleston.
Despite the storm clouds gathering over Republican politics, there was good news in the report, too. The once-powerful Aryan Nations group has all but disappeared, unable to recover from bankruptcy in 2000 and the death of the movement's founder, Richard Girnt Butler, in 2004.
The last self-proclaimed Aryan Nations leader, Morris L. Gulett, retired in November, saying that the movement "deserves to be respectfully laid to rest.”
As the report notes, "white supremacists have regrouped largely through Internet connections and forums, along with small in-person gatherings." Even so, the end of Aryan Nations is good news by any measure.
Editor's Note: Donald Trump is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacistmisogynist,birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S.
Click here to read the SPLC's entire annual report, or view it below.

Video Report - Why President Obama thinks Donald Trump will not be president

Hillary Clinton Should Just Say Yes to a $15 Minimum Wage

On the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton has eloquently defined workers’ rights as human rights. She could assert both more forcefully by championing a stronger federal minimum wage of $15 an hour.
So far, Mrs. Clinton has proposed lifting the federal hourly minimum to $12, from its current level of $7.25 an hour. Bernie Sanders is pushing for $15. Under both proposals, the increase would be phased in over five years, which means 2022 at the earliest, assuming that legislation to raise the minimum becomes law in 2017, the first year of the next president’s term.
Reasonable people can disagree about the ideal level for the minimum wage. There is no doubt, however, that the longer it takes to get to a new minimum, the higher it should be, and that by any political or practical calculation, 2022 is a long way off. This alone argues for Mr. Sanders’s more generous proposal.
Mrs. Clinton has argued that $15 might be too high for employers in low-wage states, causing them to lay off workers or make fewer hires. There is no proof for or against that position. There is solid empirical evidence showing that moderate increases in the minimum wage do not harm employment. But there is no similarly rigorous research on the effects of large increases, mainly because there haven’t been very many, either in the United States or internationally.
The question is what to do in the face of uncertainty. Mrs. Clinton’s argument for $12 overlooks the fact that a long phase-in would give employers and the economy time to adjust to a higher, $15 minimum.
Her minimum-wage proposal is also inconsistent with her larger agenda to increase middle-class wages. Historically, a robust minimum is one that equals at least half the average wage for typical workers, recently $21 an hour. Assuming Mrs. Clinton’s plan raised middle-class wages — through profit-sharing, paid sick and family leave, updated overtime-pay rules, fair-scheduling policies and labor-law enforcement — then $15 in 2022 would be a logical goal for the federal minimum wage.
But instead of embracing $15, Mrs. Clinton fights on for $12, saying that states could set their own, higher minimums. That is cold comfort. Experience has shown that without a robust federal minimum, state minimums also tend to be inadequate. Today, 21 states still do not have minimums higher than the federal level, and of the 29 that do, none have minimums high enough to cover local living expenses for an individual worker.
Worse, Mrs. Clinton’s stance misses the big picture, which is that the risk in keeping the minimum too low is bigger than the risk of raising it too high. One reason a third of Americans today live in or near poverty is that many jobs in the United States do not pay enough to live on. This is due in part to the steady erosion in the minimum wage — even as labor productivity, corporate profits and executive compensation have gone up. A raise to $12 an hour in 2022, or a mere $24,000 a year for a full-time job, would only lock in that dynamic. Even a $15 minimum works out to only $31,000 a year.
Economic obstacles are not standing in the way of a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Misplaced caution and political timidity are. The sooner Mrs. Clinton overcomes those, the stronger her candidacy will be.

Video Report - Hillary Clinton 18 points ahead of Bernie Sanders in South Carolina

Pashto Music Video - Naghma | Yaraana

UN Condemns Use of Child Soldiers in Afghanistan


The United Nations on Wednesday condemned all sides in Afghanistan's conflict for using child soldiers, noting that while government forces have curbed the practice, insurgent groups continue to train large numbers of fighters under the age of 18.
The Afghan government has made progress on the issue, said Leila Zerrougui, the U.N. representative for children and armed conflict. But she said the Afghan Local Police — government-allied groups that often operate as independent militias and are widely seen as unprofessional and corrupt — are major perpetrators.
The Taliban, who have been battling the government for over 15 years, mainly recruit children in provinces bordering Pakistan and other areas where the fighting is fiercest, she said.
Noting that the majority of Afghanistan's population is younger than 18, Zerrougui said child soldiers are "deprived of the minimum of their basic rights."
"They are not going to school, they are deprived of access to health. They are targeted by armed groups and they are prevented from having hope for the future."
Zerrougui spoke to reporters a day after the New York-based Human Rights Watch released a report accusing Taliban forces of boosting the number of children in their ranks since the middle of last year, in violation of international laws.
The report said insurgents "have been training and deploying children for various military operations" in Afghanistan, including making and deploying bombs.
It found that children between the ages of 13 and 17 were given military training in madrassas, or religious schools. Boys began indoctrination as young as six years old, and by the time they were 13 "have learned military skills including use of firearms, and the production and deployment of IEDs," a term for roadside bombs, HRW said.
It said the Taliban had recruited child fighters since the 1990s, but had expanded the practice with new madrassas and training centers in the country's north.
The Taliban condemned the HRW report in an emailed statement Wednesday, saying that it banned the recruitment of children as fighters.
The use of child soldiers is illegal in Afghanistan, which ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1994, committing the country to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers.
Despite the downward trend marked by the U.N., the government is still struggling to curtail the practice.
Earlier this month, officials confirmed that a 10-year-old boy had who had been declared a hero after fighting the Taliban was shot dead by insurgents while on his way to school.
Child Soldiers International, a London-based charity, accused the government in a report released last June of slow progress in dealing with child soldier recruitment. The report, which was presented to the U.N. Security Council's working group on children and armed conflict, said recruitment was mainly driven by poverty, but also filial duty, patriotism and honor.

The Plight of Kashmir's Dards

Balochistan: Several abducted in Sibbi and Awaran military offensives

Many Baloch civilians have been abducted from different regions of Sibbi and Awaran Balochistan during continuous military offensives of Pakistani forces.

According to details Pakistan Para-military (FC) and security agencies have been carrying out indiscriminate military attacks on civilian populations in Sibbi and Bolan Balochistan from past five days.

The most effect areas include Harnai, Marwar, Peer Ismail, Sangaan, Jaladi, Babar Kach where the Pakistan forces have burned villages and several houses.

At least 20 people have been abducted during these offensives and also scores of innocent people including women and children have reportedly been wounded and killed due to Pakistani forces air strikes.

Yesterday, the Pakistani media cited Sarfaraz Bugti, Balochistan Home Minister, as saying that forces killed at least ten people including an important commander a pro-liberation resistance organisation and arrested 12 others during military attacks.

Local sources and Baloch social media users, however, reported that military carried out attacks against Non-combatants causing heaving damages to property and loss of lives.

Although its feared that many innocent people lost their lives due to Pakistani military attacks on their villages but exact number of casualties could not be ascertained due lack of communication and the affected areas still being under military siege.

Separately, Pakistani forces have also been conducting military attacks in many areas of Awaran Balochistan from past 10 days.

Balochistan online media sources reported that at least eight people including a child were abducted from Sari Bazadad Awaran yesterday evening.

Meanwhile military were also seen advancing toward Kishkor after setting several houses on fire in Malaar, Machi areas of Awaran.

Saturday evening Pakistani forces burned many houses in Gwash, Neeltaaki, Gandkaor, Ladh, Regaiti and Surag Bazar.

Pakistan: Lessons of the PIA strike

By Lal Khan

piaThe recent strike in Pakistan’s flag carrier airline, PIA, was a magnificent and extremely significant episode in the history of industrial struggles by the workers in this country’s history.
This courageous revolt of the workers once again proved the strength of the working class and its power to stop aeroplanes from taking off, closedown ticketing offices and all other operations of the airline.
The initial strike movement began almost six weeks ago, but when the deadline of 2nd February was crossed the workers moved with courage and determination to stop all PIA operations. All flights were grounded by the strike action and the airline’s operations came to a grinding halt.
pia-attackThen three workers were killed in the brutal shooting by the state forces and more than a dozen injured, some in a critical condition. This infuriated not just the PIA workers but workers in several other industrial sectors. Such was the pressure from below that the pilots association PALPA also had to join the strike action and refused to fly the aircrafts. For eight days the strike was almost total across the country in every city and town that has PIA offices, airports and facilities.
Unfortunately, in the evening of Tuesday 9th February the leadership of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) unilaterally and suddenly called off the strike at a press conference in Karachi. Addressing a press conference, JAC chairman Sohail Baloch announced the decision to end the eight-day long strike and requested "all airline workers to work with full dedication and pay no heed to anyone trying to disrupt flight operations… a kind friend advised us to call off the strike," Baloch said. “The assurance given to us by the government to resolve issues is enough to make us call off the strike… I will meet Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in Lahore on Tuesday. We hope that the meeting with Punjab chief minister will be satisfactory and beneficial both for the government and the employees of PIA," said Baloch. When asked by the press if the JAC had retracted from its demands, Baloch said he would "inform the media about the developments after the meeting with the Punjab chief minister. We can revive this airline; we just need some support and guidance.”
Such remarks stink of capitulation and weakness of the petit bourgeois leaders who didn’t believe in class struggle and failed to mobilise the workers of other industries and services sector. This incident once again proves the vital role of the leadership and its political and ideological orientation.
During the strike, Prime Minister Sharif, though extremely nervous and shaky, from inside tried to pose to the media as taking a tough stance against the strike and said that there would be no negotiations with the striking employees or their representatives in the shape of JAC.
However, behind the scenes desperate efforts on the part of the regime continued. The wily Chief minister of Punjab dispatched his son Hamza to Karachi for the secret negotiations with the leaders of the JAC. It’s not an exception but a norm that Shahbaz Sharif, the boss of the provincial government in Punjab and younger brother of the prime minister, often tackles such issues relating to the central government. Such is the internal crisis and conflicts in the PML (N) federal government that Sharif doesn’t trust his cabinet ministers to tackle such delicate issue.
This episode also lays bare the fear of these capitalist rulers of any movement that is for workers’ rights and fundamental issues like privatisation when the resistance begins to take the shape on the basis of class struggle He is notorious for his brutal tactics and stick and carrot approach. After all he is the most ingenious scion of a family that rose from rags to riches and is infamous for their harrowing atrocities against the workers in their factories. At the same time it exposes the weakness and fragile nature of this two-thirds majority government of the party of the corrupt and rotten Pakistani bourgeois.
After the first two days of this all out strike, pressures started to mount on the striking workers. The reliance of the JAC leaders on the media to generate support for them and dependence on the opposition capitalist parties backfired. The media and the political elite in the opposition, in spite of their cosmetic criticisms of the regime, basically supported the policy of privatisation. The masses were not made aware of the link and the bondage of the demands of this struggle with the problems they faced in their daily lives. Hence the mass mobilisation on a wider scale didn’t materialise. The first (PIA) flight to take off since the start of the strike on 2nd February flew to Jeddah from Islamabad on Sunday, February 7th. Once flights began leaving Islamabad airport, it was becoming relatively easy for the government to convince other stations to resume flight operations. “Pilots who were working as part of ground crews were asked to take the initial flights, and once that happened, other cities were told to follow suit,” a senior PIA official told the Dawn newspaper.
This opened the door across the country for more PIA employees of middle grades to cross the picket lines. However, although fissures began to open up, most workers remained firm and continued the strike inspite of threats and intimidations by the regime. “Only 20 per cent of staff came back to duty by Monday, despite the government’s best efforts to restart flight operations. But it was the arrest of their leaders and falling numbers at the strike camps that finally convinced many employees to come back,” confessed another PIA official. Flights could not take off without the catering service, as per international norms, and since PIA’s own catering service was completely shut down, the management had to arrange for food from Qatar Airlines at five times the normal price. When the protesters’ camps were moved away from the airports by the state forces, the government achieved some leverage. This act was executed with force to ensure that when the camp was shifted out of the way, the strike breaking PIA employees could return to work without any hindrance or moral burden. Employees and pilots who operated these flights from Islamabad were also brought to the airport under the protection of Elite Force commandoes.
Divisions between pilots, ground staff and other PIA employees also played a part in helping the management resume flight operations from Islamabad much faster than other airports. There was also a clear discrimination in the arrest of the workers from different PIA unions participating in the strike in all stations. A “Peoples Unity of PIA” union leader said on television, “It is no secret that People’s Unity leaders were arrested, but Air League leaders were not.” Peoples Unity is affiliated to the PPP while the Air League is under the Labour Wing of the Pakistan Muslim League (N), which is Sharif’s party in power. An administration official speaking on condition of anonymity told the Dawn that local Air League leaders had been in touch with the district administration over the past five days. He said local police were asked to register cases against Air League office-bearers, but were instructed to provide them enough time margins that they could obtain bail or escape arrest. Airhostesses and female workers were harassed and police vans were deployed outside the homes of several employees. These were acts of intimidation to force the workers and technicians to go back to work.
Several employees had been offered money and promised promotions and other perks to lure them back to work. There were several engineers, flight stewards and other technical workers who refused to accept the offered financial rewards if they came back to work. Arrests and threats against those refusing to recommence work were in full swing by the administration officials and the police. Even media access was controlled. The airport management at some stations had already imposed a ban on journalists’ entry, only allowing them to enter when invited by a competent authority. Although the media coverage in general was against the strike, those journalists sympathetic to the striking workers were prohibited from reporting the developments and the rapidly changing scenarios of this strike movement. This act of this “democratic” government exposed the real nature of these callous capitalist politicians and the dictatorial character of Pakistan’s bourgeois democracy. The Sharifs and their party are in reality the inheritors of the brutal legacy of the atrocious dictator Zia ul Haq. It was General Gillani, Zia’s governor and martial law administrator of Punjab in the 1980’s, who first brought Nawaz Sharif into politics.
The first betrayals came from the pilots union. That was not surprising. PALPA President, Amir Hashmi, said in a television interview with Channel 24 that, “ pilots had not been on strike and nobody was stopped from resuming flight operations, even though there were concerns for the safety of those who crossed the picket.” Hashmi said they were a part of the protest from the beginning, but never supported the idea of a complete strike, "which can have serious consequences on an airline which is already sinking… Pilots are part of a professional body, we are not a political party," he said, adding that the PIA strike had turned into a political arena. He infact refuted the bold act of those pilots who had refused to fly after the shooting at Karachi airport. It is ironic that despite the subversive, and cruel role played by the central, and particularly the Punjab government, in ending the strike, Joint Action Committee Chairman Sohail Baloch had suggested as early as 5th February that they wanted to negotiate either with Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif or Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.
After calling off such a bold and courageous strike, the JAC leaders flew into Lahore from Karachi to have a late night meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. The statement of the JAC leaders after meeting was pathetic to say the least.
Talking to the journalists, JAC Chairman Sohail Baloch said that, “the Punjab chief minister heard the members with patience and the party is returning satisfied. The dialogue with the chief minister was successful as we are returning to Karachi appeased… the chief minister acknowledged our right to put forth stance in the issue… ultimately the federal government would negotiate with the Pakistan International Airline employees. Shahbaz has vowed to forward committee’s demands to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. We have informed the chief minister of their reservations over Essential Service Act also.” This is an inglorious end, albeit temporary, to such a valiant struggle of the PIA workers.
In an article on published on 3rd February we wrote, “The strike is another spark that shines a light on the class struggle seething below the surface of a society where the working class, and the mass movement as a whole, is faced by a difficult objective situation and a relative inertia of the class struggle. This requires a much wider and bolder approach by the genuine leaders of the workers. It is an historical obligation of the leaders and trade union activists to support the PIA strike. A united front has to be created to force the rulers into retreat. But concrete action is needed… A call for a complete general strike is a given by such a united front of all the trade unions and progressive political forces. For a victorious general strike, the workers and youth of all industries, sectors of the poor students in the educational institutions and poor peasants in the countryside have to be mobilised. Enterprises under public control not only should be defended, but workers must demand that these should be placed under democratic control of the workers. Several opposition political parties’ leaders are visiting the offices and camps of the striking workers of PIA. All solidarity is welcome, but any intrigue or manoeuvre by political manipulators to make any rotten compromise should be forcefully rejected and quashed. An extraordinary sympathy prevails... This situation may not last long…”
However, this capitulation and retreat of the leadership with the ending of the strike is not the end but can be a precursor of new workers’ struggles and strikes in different institutions, industries and services sectors. This strike is a striking example of the correctness of Marxist perspectives of class struggle. The PIA workers embarked on this all out strike against privatisation in a period when according to opinion polls 60 percent of the population is in favour of privatisation. This was a struggle against the stream. It put the leaders and parties to the test. The workers will have learnt the lesson of the necessity of forging a united union that can be trusted, with its leaders having a firm belief in class struggle and the historical obsolete and reactionary nature of the capitalist system.

This is a setback, but its impact will be temporary and superficial. The prevalent inertia in society cannot last for very long. The strike proved that even in most difficult periods the workers can rise and fight the system and the state. Their strike action can ground aeroplanes, stop trains, cut electricity of, paralyse the state by cutting off the communications networks and can ultimately bring the whole of society to a halt by jamming the wheels of industry and the institutions. However, the most crucial lesson that the youth and the workers can learn from this struggle is that the movement needs a leadership that can fight to the finish and a revolutionary party that can smash the system, its state and transform society.

Pakistan - Senate body lambasts govt plan to form ‘duplicate’ human rights commission

The Senate Human Rights Committee on Wednesday expressed serious reservations over the creation of a ‘parallel human rights body under the executive,’ claiming it undermines the existing National Commission on Human Rights (NCHR).
The issue came up before the Senate Human Rights Committee today after a motion moved by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Senator Farhatullah Babar last month was referred by the upper house to the relevant committee for examination.
Babar said an official communication last week from the Prime Minister’s House revealed plans for a national human rights action plan and a new human rights body, allocated a budget of Rs400 million, further bypassing the NCHR.
Babar added that the Parliament will resist manoeuvres undermining the NCHR, and called for transferring the Rs400 million to its Special National Human Rights Commission Fund.
The NCHR was created through an Act of the Parliament as an independent body whose chairman and members are selected by a bipartisan parliamentary committee.
“On the one hand the government flaunts the NCHR before the European Union for extracting benefits under the GSP plus, and on the other it has set out on a course to secretly undermine the Commission,” said Babar, warning that “this duality and hypocrisy will boomerang on the government.”
“It is now quite clear why ever since its establishment, the NCHR was made dysfunctional by denying it funds”, Babar said, questioning the government’s commitment towards human rights issues.
Further emphasising the new human rights body’s redundancy, Babar reminded that under clause 9(k) of the NCHR law, it is the responsibility of the Commission to develop “a national plan of action for the promotion and protection of human rights,” and this function could not be usurped by the executive.
He said the facade of another national human rights action plan drawn up secretly was an assault on the Commission and a bid to undo it.
Babar demanded a copy of the summary on which the prime minister approved the proposal to transfer the work of the NCHR to the human rights ministry.
Federal Minister for Climate Change and Human Rights Zahid Hamid assured the committee he will look into the issue and address the concerns in consultation with the NCHR.
The Senate Committee on Human Rights, chaired by Senator Nasreen Jalil, met today in the Senate Secretariat to take up a host of issues.
Besides the NCHR, the agenda included the Hindu Marriage Bill, the Child Protection Bill, the Action in Aid of Civil Power Regulation, and a public petition of a private citizen whose son went missing in Dubai over two years ago under mysterious circumstances.
Senator Farhatullah Babar called for the annulment of clause 12(iii) in the Hindu Marriage Bill, under which a Hindu marriage will be annulled if one of the partners converts.

President Of Pakistan - ''Post-Valentine’s day''

By Dr Qaiser Rashid

No one should live in a paradox of relying on western aid and products for survival, and reviling the west in the same breadth.
President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain seemed to have some special intelligence reports suggesting that the whole nation was about to rejoice by celebrating Valentine’s Day on February 14. The figure head of Pakistan must have felt something sinister in the offing leaving him with little chance to observe silence and not share his misgivings with the public. Consequently, he acted in the best interest of the nation before the nation could fall victim to another conspiracy of getting mesmerised by the west.

On February 12, while speaking at an event arranged to honour the services of late Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar in the Pakistan Movement, the president was so concerned about the moral health of the nation that he did not wait for the question: “The nation is hell bent on celebrating Valentine’s Day, what do you suggest to the nation?” Instead, the president took upon himself the duty of educating and warning the nation before it got enthralled by the west. Rather than popularising the life and work of Nishtar, the president bandied about a new idea of command and control by articulating several ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ for the nation. At least, the president believed that in his person he embodied both authority and advisory. This was also a way to turn the state of oblivion into fame.

The president said, “Valentine’s Day has no connection with our culture and it should be avoided”. The forces of globalisation are still unconscious of our president’s assertion. They are otherwise on a ruthless quest to not let any country of the world unaffected by them. Can the president stop them from transcending the boundaries of Pakistan? The space that social media has gotten in recent years is unprecedented, and there is even more to come. The world is hurtled to get interconnected and inter-influenced. Can the president outsmart the changes brought about by today’s age, which speak through the language of technology? He has played his innings of life and is on the way out of utility. A departing generation should leave it to the progeny to think about the kind of Pakistan it requires. There is no need of imposing one’s verdict on the others.

The president’s remarks stirred debate on the electronic media regarding celebrating the day. Retired army generals and right-wing, medieval age publicists had a field day. History of the day was traced and the discussion — mostly one-sided, with all its narrowed versions — even touched the limits of character assassination of the originator of Valentine’s Day. How to prove one’s patriotic and (religious) traditionalist credentials is a major challenge Pakistanis are faced with. For many this is a way of survival. Feeding on patriotic avowals is also a way to earn one’s living and be counted. On TV talk shows, guests were invited keeping in view their predisposition. Like-mindedness was promoted and reinforced while divergence was smothered. Islam was declared to be threatened in Pakistan by the onslaught of the celebration. The ideological basis of Pakistan was also felt to be collapsing under the weight of the celebration. Indeed, February 14 was termed as a very dangerous day for Pakistan.

The president said: “Students should go abroad to attain higher education, but should not be influenced by the west and must maintain their religious and national identity”. Has the president himself studied in the west? Does the president know how the west influences a student? In this age, if someone wants to get influenced by the west, is it important to go to the west? Here, the predicament is that the speaker does not realise the oddity embedded in his words. The country is under a heavy debt obtained from the west and its financial institutions, can the president stop that? The cavalcade of the president with all its bullet proof cars and fool-proof security systems are not invented in Pakistan. These are imported from the west. No one should live in a paradox of relying on western aid and products for survival, and reviling the west in the same breadth.

The west does not survive in just pants and shirts. The west survives in all things of utility Pakistanis are fond of using. Mobile phones and laptops are also made by those who celebrate Valentine’s Day. Stop buying them. Invent your own products and then voice all kinds of “shoulds” and “must”. F-16 airplanes, which Pakistan yearns to get at any cost, have been constructed by the same people celebrating Valentine’s Day. Why just condemn celebrating the day? Pass a presidential order stating that nothing can be imported from the (western) people who celebrate Valentine’s Day because along with their western products their traditions and values also penetrate Pakistan and threaten the religion Pakistanis profess and undermine Pakistan’s ideological foundations.

The president said: “We need to emulate the principles and self-belief of our founding fathers to make Pakistan a strong and prosperous country”. The question is this: who are the founding fathers of Pakistan, and how many? The president must be interested in initiating a new debate on the number and criterion to consider one a founding father while excluding the others.

What was the need to mention Valentine’s Day and to distract people from the services Nishtar rendered for the country? Certainly, Pakistani politicians face a big problem of relevance. They try to cash in on opportunities to meet their objectives even if these were incongruent with the occasion they are invited to. Nevertheless, if late General Hameed Gul were alive today, the nation would have been further educated on the ills of February 14, whether it visited in the company of Valentine’s Day or not.

#Lahore - Polio worker shot as Pakistan holds countrywide vaccination drive

Gunmen shot and wounded a Pakistani polio worker in the eastern city of Lahore on Wednesday, the latest in a string of attacks against eradication teams in a country that accounts for more than 70 percent of the world's cases of the virus.
More than 100,000 health workers fanned out across Pakistan this week, stepping up a drive to eliminate the polio virus this year from one of its last bastions, despite threats from militants against the vaccination teams.
"Initial reports say that two men on a motorcycle opened fire on the vaccinators and ran away," police spokesman Hammad Haider told Reuters.
A health worker was hit by the bullet in his leg and was rushed to hospital, where he was in stable condition on Wednesday afternoon, he said.
He said it was unclear who was behind the shooting.
More than 4,000 vaccinators are working in Lahore alone and each team is assigned two police officers for security, Haider said, adding that the team that was attacked had set out without a police escort.
Polio, which can cause lifelong paralysis, is now endemic in only two countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Pakistan's polio cases are declining, with just 54 cases of polio virus reported last year, down more than 80 percent from 2014, when the country suffered a large spike in cases.
The latest immunisation push aims to finish vaccinating every child in the country by the end of May.
Efforts to eliminate polio in Pakistan have been complicated in recent years, as polio workers have faced attacks by militants who say the health teams are Western spies, or that the vaccines they administer are intended to sterilise children.

In January, a suicide bomber killed at least 15 people outside a polio eradication centre in the restive western city of Quetta, with two militant groups claiming responsibility.