Thursday, February 25, 2016

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

Monitoring Group: Corruption Still a Problem in Afghanistan

Ayaz Gul

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

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

By Harry Farley 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plight of Baloch Students

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

Malala made Sonam Kapoor's day by watching Neerja

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

Pakistan - Another polio case

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

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

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

By Rashid Munir 

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

Pakistan - The missing young people

The distraught parents of a 14-year old boy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been running from pillar to post for the last several months to secure his freedom from the clutches of militants.
They have had no luck until now, but are refusing to give up. The family is in a hurry lest the boy is brainwashed into committing a suicide attack. Young boys are preferred to undertake suicide missions as they are highly impressionable and are easy to manipulate. Still the elderly couple remains hopeful their son would return home one day to put an end to their suffering.
This isn’t the only teenager who abandoned his family and ventured into an unknown world after being lured by recruiters in the name of ‘jihad’ and martyrdom. Such stories are repeated in one place or the other, mostly in conflict-hit Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Many teenagers who took this dangerous path are already dead while others are preparing to die but not before killing as many ‘enemies’ as possible.
In the case of teenager Fawad (name changed), his transformation from a talented student to a gun-wielding militant is interesting. His family claimed he was intelligent and hardworking and was among the top students of his class. His poor father had invested everything in educating his children and it was paying because a few of his sons were already gainfully employed. His youngest son’s mistake, or call it adventurism fuelled by immaturity, is now threatening to destroy his dreams of a better future for his family.
Fawad decided one day late last year to head for Afghanistan instead of school. He couldn’t have done this alone as he had never been to Afghanistan and needed guidance to make the journey to a specific place in the eastern Nangarhar province bordering Pakistan’s Khyber and Mohmand tribal agencies to meet up with the militants. His handlers would have facilitated his journey and ensured that he made it unhindered to the militants’ mountainous hideouts.
From different accounts, one can gather that Fawad developed the belief that whatever he was doing was Allah’s calling. He was a bright student at school, but this didn’t stop him from undertaking a dangerous career as a fighter for an outlawed Pakistani militant group. His story is ongoing and incomplete as his family is determined to bring him home, but his recruiters are apparently working overtime to turn him into a fighter, or better still, a suicide bomber or “fidayee” as they refer to such bombers.
One is aware of similar stories from other places.
The family of a young man from Mardan district who joined the Afghan Taliban a few years ago and blew himself up in Afghanistan in an attack on Afghan and foreign forces some years ago is still unable to forget that painful memory. For a while the family was proud of his sacrifice as it considered him a martyr who gave his life fighting ‘infidels’ occupying Afghanistan. However, the doings of the militants bombing public places and killing innocent people in Afghanistan and Pakistan in recent years has made some of the family members rethink the issue as such acts are indefensible. They are now ready to ask questions and seek answers.
Though still convinced that his brother offered the ultimate sacrifice fighting foreign occupying forces that came from far away to Afghanistan to oust the hostile Taliban regime and install a government of its choice, a family member vented his anger against the recruiters who led the young man on the garden path and persuaded him to lay down his life for their cause.
One also is unable to forget the middle-aged couple from Rawalpindi that frequently comes to Peshawar and other places in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to meet people who could help it in the search for their missing young son. The couple finally traced him to a place in Afghanistan, but soon lost his trail and is now uncertain about his whereabouts and fate. The religious-minded young man was last reported to be with another Pakistani militant group in Nangarhar province, but the family is still insisting that he didn’t go of his own accord and was either misled or kidnapped.
Whatever the reason, the pain that the couple is experiencing is visible in their sad eyes and hesitant speech. As they noted, their suffering would continue until their son returns home or is confirmed dead. The uncertainty about his fate is causing the family constant pain and untold suffering.
It was heart-rending to witness old men from places such as Rahimyar Khan, Rajanpur, Layyah, Dera Ismail Khan, Swat and Karachi deciding over the years to make the risky journey to Afghanistan or nearer home to Bajaur and Waziristan to locate their missing sons. This has been going on for years from the time of the Afghan ‘jihad’ in the 1980s to the present as innumerable young men have made the journey to the conflict zones to train and fight alongside the Afghan mujahideen and Taliban fighters. Thousands of Pakistanis took part in the Afghan ‘jihad’ against the Soviet Red Army and the Afghan communist regime and many more joined the ranks of the Taliban to continue the fight.
These battle-hardened men also had families that were helpless in stopping them and then mourned their death. Such families aren’t widely known beyond their neighbourhood and villages and most Pakistanis remain unaware of their suffering.
It was late 2001 when Maulana Sufi Mohammad, the head of the Tanzim Nifaz Shariat-i-Mohammadi (TNSM) in Malakand division, inspired several thousands of his black-turbaned followers to accompany him to Afghanistan to join the Afghan Taliban in resisting the US-led invasion of the country. Ill-equipped and poorly trained Pakistanis from Swat and rest of Malakand division responded to his call and reached Bajaur to cross over to Afghanistan to join the fight. Most of them including Sufi Mohammad managed to return home after the fall of Taliban regime in December 2001, but many became a fodder of the war or were captured.
It was a misadventure and the unexplainable aspect of the issue was the lack of any effort by the Pakistan government to stop its citizens entering another country to become part of the war that pitted Afghans against each other. Some of those Pakistanis were listed as missing as no confirmation was received if they were dead or alive. For years, their families grieved for them while being in a state of uncertainty about their fate.
Such tragedies have taken place in numerous places in Pakistan, but the families have suffered mostly in silence and remain largely unknown.

‘Ancient Hindu temple in Peshawar being secretly demolished’

An ancient Hindu temple in the northwestern Pakistan city of Peshawar is being secretly demolished so that a commercial plaza can come up in its place, local residents have alleged.
The temple at Karimpura in Peshawar’s old quarters is being demolished in the name of repairs, residents of the area said. The process began 10 days ago and is going on without any hindrance, they said.
“It is a pity that a criminal act of pulling down a heritage structure has been launched. The building is being knocked down clandestinely to erect a commercial plaza on the site,” an unnamed resident was quoted as saying by PTI.
“There is no action from any of the government departments which are supposed to protect such buildings,” the resident said.
Residents questioned the silence of government departments on the episode. They also deplored the inaction of authorities. There has been no action by the Evacuee Trust Property Board and Auqaf Department, which deal with non-Muslim properties, and the Archaeology Department.
Four organisations working to protect cultural heritage have urged the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government to save the temple. The Sarhad Conservation Network, Frontier Heritage Trust, Institute of Architects Pakistan and Karwan Jirga said in a statement on Tuesday the demolition of the temple at Mohallah Wangri Garan was a reminder of how menacing and strong the market forces had become everywhere, the Dawn newspaper reported.
The organisations hoped the provincial government would stop flagrant negligence and violation by authorities instead of being reduced to a silent spectator.
The bodies recalled the Peshawar’s deputy commissioner’s announcement that there would be a blanket application of Section 144 to all heritage sites in the walled city and hoped the temple could be the first test case of conservation for the heritage committee.

Pakistan's War on Scholars

C. Christine Fair

Pakistan's military and intelligence agencies are waging a nasty war on U.S.-based scholars whose writings and public statements undermine cherished narratives promulgated by the army that has dominated Pakistan's governance for most of the state's existence. These agencies aim to intimidate, discredit, and silence us. Their tools are crude and include: outright threats; slanderous articles in Pakistani papers and other on-line forums; an army of trolls on twitter and other social media who hound us; and embassy officials who attend and report on our speaking events on Pakistan. But we are lucky to be in the United States: Pakistan's khaki loutsdisappear, kidnap and/or kill their critics within Pakistan.
My own experience with Pakistan's harassment techniques began in May of 2011 when I received an email threatening me with gang-rape by an entire regiment. I had received a grant from the American Institute of Pakistan Studies to complete research for my book "Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army's Way of War" and had intended to spend the summer of 2011 in Islamabad and Lahore. As I already had a valid, multiple-entry visa they could not use visa denial as an instrument of coercion to influence my writings before my planned visit. So, they tried to intimidate me with this threat of physical harm. My own experience with Pakistan's harassment techniques began in May of 2011 when I received an email threatening me with gang-rape by an entire regiment.
At first, I was incredulous that this email was sent by the "deep state" and I did not immediately call off my travel. Serendipitously, my flight to Dubai was cancelled. While I rebooked my travel, Pakistan's then ambassador Husain Haqqani reached out to me to tell me simply "You have to cancel your trip. The crew cuts are after you." Other embassy officials told me privately that the ISI distributed a circular about me at the Pakistan embassy. One officer asked me "You are in trouble. What did you do?" I was sickened by the situation. Officials from the embassy were, and presumably are, not allowed to meet with me. When I confronted Brigadier Butt, the then ISI station chief at the Pakistan Embassy and Defense Attaché --it became clear that he was personally angry with me because he had seen or had heard about my book proposal from a small number of persons who had seen it. He said that he felt let down because the army had given me considerable access yet I was writing, what he called, an anti-army book. I explained to him that I was doing my job by being willing to go to Pakistan through various grants--despite the security environment--to hear their side of the story. I also told him that granting interviews to scholars is not tantamount to buying scholars Since 2011 I have inspired several "planted" stories that have appeared in Pakistani papers and obscure blogs alike. These artless rants would be amusing if they were not dangerous. On one occasion, an article actually gave information about where I was staying in Pakistan which was a clear intent to cause me harm or signal the ability to cause me harm.
On one occasion, an article actually gave information about where I was staying in Pakistan which was a clear intent to cause me harm or signal the ability to cause me harm.
In the fall of 2014, two videos were circulated about me that had the imprimatur of the army's media-management organization, the ISPR. The videos included (not very danceable) sound tracks which were taken from ISPR-produced entertainment. Since these videos were published on Youtube, which is banned in Pakistan, the obvious audience of these productions was Pakistanis outside the United States. (Both of these videos have since been removed.).
In early February, The News, published an article that alleged that I have nefarious links with Baloch insurgents. The Baloch are an ethnic group in Pakistan whichresists inclusion into the state and its reliance upon Islam as a tool to blunt Baloch ethnic aspirations. Pakistan's security forces have waged five waves of brutal military oppression, sometimes with U.S. weapons systems, which has been widely decried by international as well as Pakistani human rights organizations. Despite these well-documented abuses--which includes disappearances, torture and murder by Pakistan's security forces--the United States has not levied Leahy Sanctions as required by U.S. law. The ISI has worked tirelessly to keep its actions in Balochistan a dark secret. If Pakistan's armed forces and intelligence agencies are afraid of a few scholars, how can they confront Pakistan's real enemies who are the hordes of terrorists it once nurtured but who have turned their guns and suicide vests against their erstwhile patrons?
So why did Pakistan write such an article about me? I have several suspicions. First, I was included on a successful National Science Foundation grant to study the Baloch conflict. Second, as a part of this study, I have reached out to Baloch dissidents to hear their side of the story. Third, I tweet about the tragedy in the state and encourage my government to apply applicable laws and deny security assistance to those units involved in these abuses. Fourth, there will be a publication emerging from this effort. Since I cannot go to Pakistan, what was the intent of the essay? Ultimately, I believe it was coarse attempt at bullying me by targeting my employer and jeopardizing my job security and trying to cast aspersions upon my credibility within U.S. government agencies. According to the article: It is not clear if Georgetown University was aware of Ms Fair's plan to meet the leader of Baloch dissidents. It further remains to be seen if US authorities would take notice of Ms Fair's contacts with such leaders. Her penchant for aggressive attacks on Pakistan that goes beyond inciting violence is not a secret.
Ultimately, this propaganda failed to produce the institutional outrage that Pakistan's deep state intended.
Another recent attempt to malign me and several of my colleagues was publishedin the Pakistan Observer in mid-February. This piece was written by a former Pakistan air force group captain and "TV Talk Show Host" named Sultan M Hali.Hali's musings are widely available on the internet and they invariably defend the ISI and the army while protesting criticisms about Pakistan's long-standing policy of using Islamist militancy under its nuclear umbrella as tools of foreign policy. He, like countless retired Pakistan service personnel, populate Pakistan's print, radio and televised media as a part of the deep state's discourse construction and message managing efforts. In fact, Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, has a media management wing dedicated to such efforts.
In this piece, Mr. Hali maligns my fellow colleague, Irfan Nooruddin (whose name he misspells) as a "highly biased scholar of Indian origin." Professor Nooruddin's work on electoral politics in India is well-regarded and cannot be characterized as "highly biased." (It should also be noted that he does not even write on Pakistan.) For Mr. Hali and the Pakistani deep state he defends, Professor Nooruddin's ethnicity is the basis of this dubious charge: it is rank, racist xenophobia at its worst. What did Professor Nooruddin do to elicit this slander from this amanuensis of the deep state? He had the hubris to host Ambassador Husain Haqqani who discussed his newest project titled "Reimagining Pakistan" at Georgetown under the auspices of the India initiative that Professor Nooruddin heads.
Mr. Hali, who did not attend the event, was riled that the event "featured Pakistan's most loud critics [sic] n the town including Christine Fair and Hussain Haqqani." While Mr. Hali did not attend the event, Mr. Bilal Hayee did. In fact, Mr. Hayee is a frequent monitor of such events where he takes note of who attended and what was said by whom. This has a chilling impact upon freedom of speech of students and persons of Pakistani origin and he, and his colleagues at the embassy, know it. Mr. Hali furthered that Georgetown has established an India initiative with "US $10 million of which large part is known to have come through the Indian Diaspora while part of it has been funded by US administration." To say that this is a blatant lie is an understatement: the India initiative is extremely modestly funded. Hali opined that "Contrary to the natural objective of fostering closer partnership between US and India, Georgetown," the event was really an opportunity to malign and defame Pakistan. Mr. Hali also used this missive as an opportunity to criticize Farahnaz Ispahani who recently wrote a devastating book on the plight of Pakistan's minorities. Hali, upon trivializing the well-documented abuses that Pakistan's religious minorities routinely endure, made much of Ms. Ispahani's book discussion at a well-regarded Indian think-tank called the Observer Research Foundation (ORF). He claimed erroneously that the ORF is funded by Indian intelligence and suggested that Ms. Ispahani, and her husband Ambassador Haqqani, are paid stooges of Indian intelligence. It should be noted that ORF is supported by the Reliance group rather than the Indian government.
Pakistan's boorish campaign of slander against scholars and journalists whose work discomfits the deep state has even drawn the attention of Pakistani bloggers who have expressed concern about the ham-handed approach adopted by the military and intelligence media handlers. In 2011, even Ejaz Haider, a well-known pro-establishment journalist, questioned this role of the military and intelligence agency after the high profile killing of a journalist named Syed Saleem Shahzad. The chief suspect is Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI. In the wake of that tragedy, Haider wrote of ISA media operations: What is this Media Management Wing of the ISI? What right does this wing have to invite journalists for 'tea' or ask anyone to file a story or file a retraction? The inquiry commission should also look into the mandate of this wing and put it out to pasture.
However, there is little chance of Pakistan doing so.
In addition to poorly-written "filed stories" festooned with calumnious fiction, Pakistan's military and intelligence agency trains a menagerie of bots and trolls who harass persons like me on Twitter and Facebook and to promote and defend the state, including its terrorist assets. Whereas the Pakistani government incentivizes scholars to watch what they write and say about Pakistan by holding visas and official meetings hostage, I was declared "Persona Non-Grata" long ago and cannot get a visa. Without such leverage, the Pakistani deep state hopes that all of this harassment and haranguing will coerce me into silence. But the ISI should know this: I will write. I will not be silenced by their brutish antics. If Pakistan's armed forces and intelligence agencies are afraid of a few scholars and their facts and key boards, how can they confront Pakistan's real enemies who are the hordes of terrorists it once nurtured but who have turned their guns and suicide vests against their erstwhile patrons? With apologies to Monty Python, I will continue to write in their specific direction.