Saturday, December 17, 2016

A Saudi cover-up controversy

UK 'secretly selling arms to Saudi Arabia and elsewhere under opaque licencing system'

By Will Worley 

    Campaigners say licensing system designed for ‘less sensitive’ trade deals is being abused.
    The UK is secretly selling arms to Saudi Arabia and other countries under an opaque type of export licence, it has been reported. 
    The military and defence industry is a major player in the UK economy, worth about £7.7bn a year.
    But many of the countries buying British arms are run by governments with dubious human rights records, even though the destinations of such exports are supposed to meet human rights standards. 
    Now, according to the newspaper, an increasing number of military consignments are being sold under the Open Individual Export Licence (OIEL) after quiet Government encouragement in 2015, despite criticism from MPs. 
    Under the OIEL licences, numerous consignments can be exported to one destination under a single licence for up to five years after initial scrutiny. They are supposed to be “less sensitive goods” but campaigners say this vague requirement is often flouted. 
    Furthermore, the value of OIEL licenced goods does not need to be publicly declared, meaning it is difficult to determine their volume, though it is estimated to be in the tens of millions. 
    For instance, using just 32 OIEL licences, 150 different types of defence and military goods – including technology and parts for fighter aircraft  have been exported to Saudi Arabia, the newspaper reported.
    Saudi Arabia has been widely condemned for its role in the Yemeni conflict, where its airstrikes have been blamed for large numbers of civilian deaths
    Other British goods that have been exported around the world under OIEL licences reportedly include rifles, crowd control weapons and helicopters. 
    While proponents say OIEL licences help efficiency and cut red tape, opponents say they allow inappropriate sales to go through.
    Andrew Smith, of Campaign Against the Arms Trade, which obtained the data, said: “Open licences only exacerbate the lack of transparency in the arms trade. UK arms are playing a central role in the devastation of Yemen, and this means the scale of arms exports could be even higher than we already thought.
    “Arms exports aren’t just numbers on a spreadsheet, they can have deadly consequences and send a message of support to some of the most abusive regimes in the world.”
    Exports under OIEL licences have increased in recent years, i reported. While there were just 761 granted in 2009, there were 1,866 in 2015. And the figure is set to increase in 2016, when there were 1,100 OIEL licences in the first six months. 
    Anti-arms trade campaigners claimed this means the UK could be more deeply involved in the international arms trade than previously thought and that the exports send a “message of support” to despotic regimes.

    Video Report -14 off-duty soldiers killed in central Turkish city of Kayseri

    #China : Preventing Islamic risk on ‘Belt and Road’

    By Mei Xinyu

    A few years ago, I predicted that for the next 10 to 20 years, economic recession will worsen and cause major social instability in emerging countries. Africa, Latin America and Middle East Islamic countries will be the prime source of this upheaval and turmoil. For nearly three years, the Ukrainian crisis, the emergence of the Islamic State, the Yemen civil war and 2016 Turkish coup attempt have proved my prediction. In the next 10 to 20 years, "Islamic risk" will be one of the world's biggest political risks.

    For China's "One Belt, One Road" (OBOR) initiative, Islamic risk is also a prominent political danger. According to the broadest definition, OBOR involves 64 countries, 33 of which are Muslim countries, accounting for more than half the total. 

    Among the remaining 31 non-Muslim countries, 10 countries have obvious existing Muslim unrest and are at risk of terror attacks. In total, 44 countries have Islamic risk, making up 69 percent of the total number of countries along OBOR. 

    For example, Pakistan, China's iron-core brother, is a country with serious Islamic extremism. From 2012 to 2013, violent terrorist incidents in Pakistan caused 11,590 deaths, which included 6,008 civilians, 1,408 policemen and 4,174 militants.

    As a country pursuing a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, China has no obligations to get them out of the social upheavals. What China can do is to create a favorable environment for their peaceful development through equal trade after they walk out of turbulence. When promoting OBOR, China should fully consider risk returns, and try to maximize returns while minimizing risk.

    In view of Islamic risk, China ought to give priority to pre-arrangements, supplemented by measures afterward. Chinese enterprises in Muslim countries should put self-help measures first, while making government guarantees and rescue mechanisms subsidiary. Relying on these tactics means that active arrangements are vital for reducing Islamic risk during the process of perfecting a transnational operation political risk-response system. Only in this way can China minimize the cost of political risks in transnational management.

    In addition, the Chinese government should modestly promote overseas aid, and expand policy-oriented export credit insurance and overseas investment insurance. However, expecting the aid to eliminate all political risks is unrealistic, which is beyond the affordability of Chinese national strength and may lead to moral hazard for enterprises.

    According to the above principles, China can take measures such as organizing Chinese security companies, and carrying out rescues and intervention when necessary. Nevertheless, what China should do most is as follows.

    The probability of political risks should be reduced by appropriately arranging OBOR, moderately relaxing restrictions on media reports, discussing Islamic risk, implementing neutral and friendly policies, and taking appropriate international operations strategies. 

    Especially, a more open media environment and more discussions about corruption problems, social unrest, rampant violence and other negative issues in Islamic countries can prevent Chinese people from entering dangerous places.

    Moreover, it is advised to speed up the organization of overseas Chinese chambers of commerce, so as to strengthen overseas merchants' ability to resist political risks. In addition, China should improve bilateral investment-protection mechanisms and upgrade policy-oriented export credit insurance and foreign investment insurance.

    China decides to return seized underwater drone to US

    China has decided to return a US underwater drone seized by a Chinese warship during a security check in the South China Sea, a defense ministry spokesman said on Saturday.
    China will transfer the drone to the US “in an appropriate manner”, said Yang Yujun, spokesman of the Chinese defense ministry.

    A Chinese navy rescue ship found an unidentified apparatus in the South China Sea on Thursday. The rescue ship examined the apparatus to prevent it causing harm to navigation safety, said Yang.

    Yang said the navy had identified the apparatus to be an unmanned underwater drone after the examination and decided to transfer it to the US.

    A Chinese military source confirmed with the Global Times that they received on Saturday a “claim request” from the US for the underwater drone.

    According to a Reuters report, the request was made after the Chinese navy seized the drone Thursday, about 80 kilometers northwest of Subic Bay in the Philippines just as the USNS Bowditch, an oceanographic survey ship, was about to retrieve it.

    The Pentagon had confirmed the incident at a news briefing Friday and said the drone used commercially-available technology and sold for about $150,000, Reuters reported.

    The Daily Show - Trump Lets the Truth Come Out Post-Election

    How Michelle Obama Felt About Being Labeled An ‘Angry Black Woman’

    Lisa Capretto

    First Lady Michelle Obama is tired of the “angry black woman” label ― she explicitly said so in 2012, after having to address her portrayal in a book by a New York Times reporter ― but it’s an offense that continues to resurface. Just last month, the New York Times Style section used “angry black woman” in a since-deleted tweet about Mrs. Obama. Now, the First Lady is addressing what’s behind the label and what happens in her mind when she hears it.
    As Mrs. Obama tells Oprah during her final interview at the White House (airing Monday on CBS at 8 p.m. ET and Wednesday on OWN at 9 p.m. ET), there’s a clear sequence of thoughts that ran through her head in the “angry black woman” blowback, beginning with this initial reaction:
    “That was one of those things where you think, ‘Dang, you don’t even know me,’” Mrs. Obama says. “You just sort of feel like, ‘Wow, where did that come from?’ And that’s the first blowback.”
    Her next thought, she says, led to a shift in perspective. “You think, ‘That is so not me.’ But then you sort of think, ‘Well, this isn’t about me. This is about the person or the people who write it,’” Mrs. Obama says. “That’s just the truth.” 
    It’s sad because the thing that least defines us as people is the color of our skin.
    What’s at the heart of the label, she continues, is fear.
    “You start thinking, ‘Oh, wow, we’re so afraid of each other,’” she says. “Color. Wealth. These things that don’t matter still play too much of a role in how we see one another, and it’s sad because the thing that least defines us as people is the color of our skin... It’s our values. It’s how we live our lives. And you can’t tell that from somebody’s race, somebody’s religion. People have to act it out. They have to live those lives.”
    With this outlook, Mrs. Obama made a firm decision about how she’d live her life.
    “I thought, ‘OK, well, let me live my life out loud so that people can then see and then judge for themselves,’” she says. “And that’s what I want young people to do: Just live your life. Live it out loud.”

    3 Professors of Psychiatry Ask President Obama to conduct “a full medical and neuropsychiatric evaluation”

    By Richard Greene

    President Barack Obama
    The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
    Washington, DC 20500
    November 29, 2016
    Dear President Obama,
    We are writing to express our grave concern regarding the mental stability of our President-Elect. Professional standards do not permit us to venture a diagnosis for a public figure whom we have not evaluated personally. Nevertheless, his widely reported symptoms of mental instability — including grandiosity, impulsivity, hypersensitivity to slights or criticism, and an apparent inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality — lead us to question his fitness for the immense responsibilities of the office. We strongly recommend that, in preparation for assuming these responsibilities, he receive a full medical and neuropsychiatric evaluation by an impartial team of investigators.
    Judith Herman, M.D.
    Professor of Psychiatry 
    Harvard Medical School
    Nanette Gartrell, M.D.
    Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry 
    University of California, San Francisco (1988-2011)
    Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School (1983-87)
    Dee Mosbacher, M.D., Ph.D.
    Assistant Clinical Professor 
    Department of Community Health Systems 
    University of California, San Francisco (2005-2013)

    President Obama Says Hillary Clinton Was Not 'Treated Fairly' During Presidential Election

    President Obama said today that he did not think Hillary Clinton was “treated fairly” during the presidential election.
    Obama was asked specifically during a news conference whether his former secretary of state lost because of Russia’s reported hacking of the Democratic Party and Clinton campaign computer servers. The president pivoted on that question, and instead lobbed a critique of the media. He said he found the coverage of Clinton “troubling.”
    “I think she's worked tirelessly on behalf of the American people and I don't think she was treated fairly during the election, I think the coverage of her -- and the issues -- was troubling,” he said.
    Clinton and her campaign in recent days have also expressed disappointment with news outlets' focus on her private email server during the campaign over Russia’s involvement in the data breaches. Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta, called the coverage of the Russia story “lackadaisical,” and Clinton last night reportedly told donors in New York that she was glad the press was catching onto the issue.
    Looking ahead, President Obama said that perhaps he can give “counsel and advice” to the Democratic Party.
    “The question is how do we rebuild that party as a whole so that there's not a county in any state -- I don't care how red -- where we don't have a presence and we're not making the argument because I think we have the better argument,” he said of the Democratic Party.
    He added that he would have liked to have helped more to build a national and successful party but struggled to contribute more time because of his primary responsibilities at the White House.

    President Obama's Weekly Address: Ensuring a Fair and Competitive Marketplace

    #Pakistan - قامي اېکشن پلان دوه کاله وروسته

    Video - Pakistan's First Female Bomb Disposal Officer

    “We can never forget”: Pakistani Christians commemorate APS martyrs during a vigil

    “We can never forget” is what Islamabad based Christian entrepreneurs Asad Rafi and Sehrish Asad Rafi stated while remembering the martyrs of the Army Public School massacre. In order to mark the second anniversary of the heinous attack, a candle light vigil was celebrated at Micronox.
    Pakistani Christians remember the victims of APS attack
    This candle light vigil was held under the auspices of Asad Rafi and Sehrish Asad Rafi owners of Micronox leading BPO. This event was attended by hundreds including students, journalists, entrepreneurs and various prominent leaders. The participants lit a candle each in the memory of those who had fallen in the heinous terrorist strike. The school children who lost their lives in the attack were remembered with great love and reverence. At the same time, the participants condemned the merciless attack by the terrorists who had killed more than 140 including children, teachers and the Principal herself.
    This vigil was also attended by the President of Blue Area, the President of Blue Area Traders Association along with several senior journalists who offered prayers for the bereaved families as they lit candles in the memory of the victims.
    “By lighting the candles, a message of light, peace and hope was conveyed,” stated Sehrish co-owner of Micronox as she continued, “Candle is a symbol of light that engulfs darkness and we proclaim that we will fight terrorism, fear and death till our last breath,” she asserted. “Live Long Pakistan!”
    In a statement Asad Rafi maintained: “It breaks me to recall the brutal attack on the innocent children of APS. These flowers of were crushed and martyred heartlessly. But it gives me a hope to see Pakistan Army actively operating against terrorist activities and trying to eradicate them so Pakistan can again become a heaven for the world. Let’s unite against terrorism and say NO to fear and brutality.”
    Two years ago today, on December 16, 2014 more than 140 people, including 132 schoolchildren, were massacred in an attack what has been rightfully termed as the deadliest terrorist strike in Pakistan’s history. Early morning terrorists stormed Army Public School and started indiscriminately killing everyone.
    While remembering the fallen, the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed his condolences to families of the victims of the Army Public School attack. “Today reminds us of the horrific APS incident,” he said. The Premier further added that that the entire nation stands with the bereaved families in their times of sorrow.
    He reiterated the resolution that the leadership of the country is determined to do way with the scourge of terrorism once for all. “We have no mercy in our hearts for these ruthless murderers who killed our innocent children,” he said.
    In this regard, a memorial was held at Army Public School Peshawar earlier today. Tributes were paid to the victims of the tragic incident. This memorial was attended by Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Bajwa, Corps Commander Peshawar Lt Gen Hidayat ur Rehman and Governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, along with APS students, teachers and families of the martyred.

    Perspective: #Pakistan - The War Within Islam - Dr Salam, Chakwal and Symbolism

    Mosharraf Zaidi

    Why would a mainstream political figure publicly invoke Dr Abdus Salam’s name in the Pakistan of 2016? This is not the question that arose when we learnt last week about the prime minister’s stated intention to move a summary in which he would that the National Centre for Physics located at Quaid-e-Azam University be named in honour of Pakistan’s only Nobel Prize winner in the sciences.

    Instead of such a salty question, the announcement was welcomed with great warmth and fanfare by a segment of Pakistani opinion broadly categorised as ‘liberal’. There were some salty reactions, no doubt, by those that were not altogether enthused by the press release from the PM Office on this matter. For the most part, it was easy to ignore that saltiness – vapid and absent as it tends to be of any rigorous or serious opposition.

    So perhaps we should just try to enjoy this great moment in our unmistakable journey toward becoming a liberal democratic republic? And if not that, at least we can celebrate the conversion of Prime Minister Sharif to a man who believes in liberal values? And if not that, at least we can acknowledge that Dr Abdus Salam is long overdue the recognition that he deserved in his home country – so at least that’s something. Right?

    Not quite. On Monday evening, as the nation observed the 12th of Rabiul Awwal, an Ahmadi place of worship was surrounded by a mob of hundreds, and confusion reigned supreme. The situation was defused when police and local administration intervened. Had this been ten years earlier, the pictures in the papers the next day would have been of rubble, and perhaps funerals. That no mass casualties took place, and that the place of worship is still intact, is thanks in no small part to the speed with which governments now tend to respond to outrages of this nature. The chief minister of Punjab is particularly responsive to these kinds of stories, and a more tragic outcome was avoided. At least for now.

    Ahmadi lives, Ahmadi property and businesses and Ahmadi places of worship are not unaccustomed to vulnerability. Not only has our state structurally integrated institutional discrimination against followers of this faith, our society too exhibits a fair bit of discrimination. In the context of the specifics of the Chakwal siege, and the general environment of rejection that the Ahmadiyya must contend with, one must ask serious questions about the degree to which a celebration of the symbolism of a building bearing the name of Dr Abdus Salam is merited. But let’s pause for a moment before we do that.

    What were the driving motivations or core purposes of Salam’s life? It is an interesting question. A man’s (or woman’s) faith is of course, an integral part of what shapes him (or her). So the fact that he was an Ahmadi is certainly not something one can dismiss altogether. But the judgement about what drove a man and his life’s work must be based on the evidence of that life. The evidence from Salam’s life is reasonably uncontested. Salam’s life was dedicated to science and to promoting science in Pakistan. His personal faith may have played a role in both his obsession with scientific inquiry, and his obsessive love for his country – but from the vantage point of a non-Ahmadi, it is unclear to me how his religion gets in the way of his adoration of science, or his love for Pakistan.

    The Prime Minister’s Office is engaged in an admirable long-term effort to project the face of a fresh new Pakistan. The screening of Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s Oscar-winning documentary, ‘A Girl in the River’, was one such instance. The prime minister’s celebration of Diwali with Pakistani Hindus last year was another. On a series of issues, the PM Office has tried to find the right balance between its electoral and constituency compulsions, and the demands of projecting a forward-looking, progressive mindset. It is an incredibly difficult balance to achieve. I fear, however, that in the effort to create the impression of progressive, open-minded and liberal values, this government risks exposing the shallowness of our national discourse, and its lack of preparedness to help change it.

    As ‘A Girl in the River’ showed, the challenge of honour killings is a multifaceted one. Saving a woman’s life requires a range of instruments of both state and society to work harmoniously and effectively: from emergency medical services, to psychological counselling, to legal aid and the courts’ system, to prisons and police, to family units themselves, and perhaps most of all, to young couples. In this manner, it is not difficult to see even successful legislation to prevent honour killings as being a small step in the right direction, but hardly a solution to the core problem. Since the Oscar win, and the plaudits that the PM Office won (quite rightly) for taking a position on the issue, can we honestly claim major progress on changing the status quo?

    Diwali celebrations in Sindh are another good example of this problem of symbolic satiation. Step 1: PM Sharif or PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari attend a Hindu ceremony. Step 2: We all revel in the glory of our diversity, and the warmth of this diversity finding the audience of VIPs in this country. Step 3: We use various means of expression to spread the warmth. Step 4: We quickly move on to the next thing.

    Meanwhile, Hindus in Pakistan have real issues. A symbolic participation of the highest office in the land is great. But like minorities in many countries, Hindus in Pakistan face serious barriers to their ability to fulfil their potential: individually, and as a community. What specific steps have been taken to address those, since the widely feted prime ministerial attendance of Diwali last year?

    Dr Abdus Salam is a Pakistani hero, whether buildings are named after him or not. More importantly, his life’s work was science and its promotion. A plaque on a building and five scholarships in his name do not solve Pakistan’s urgent education crisis. They may, however, inflame the easily provoked reactionaries for whom other people’s faith is a matter of life and death. The PM Office and the tiny enclave of liberal thought in Pakistan may own nice watches, but those reactionaries have all the time in the world. They have the social and economic capacity to take on the state and win. They have demonstrated this capacity consistently over the course of the last 60 years.

    The question we must ask ourselves is this: does the symbolic gesture of naming a building after Dr Abdus Salam solve either of the two problems that we may imagine deserve being solved? First, does it help improve science in Pakistan, at either the primary, middle, secondary or tertiary levels of education? Does it help make Pakistan more secure (as Abdus Salam worked to make it)? And second, does it improve the lives of Ahmadis in Pakistan (as so many liberals in this country sincerely want it to)?

    The only people that are falling for these gimmicks and this symbolism are the very people that need to be vigilant about extracting real results from our democracy. Meanwhile, tensions in Chakwal remain high. Should we really be patting ourselves on the back for renaming a building whilst other buildings are vulnerable to being overrun?

    Secularism for Pakistan’s survival

    By YasserLatifHamdani

    Pakistan is far too diverse a society with far too many different sectarian and religious interpretations of Islam for it to afford a theocracy.
    Sadiq Khan, the British-Pakistani lawyer and politician, has managed to win the election for the position of London’s mayor. As expected Pakistanis around the world have greeted the news with jubilation and excitement. After all, a first generation son of a Pakistani bus driver has managed to become the first Muslim mayor of a major city in the European Union. People say that this is a great triumph of secularism, which it is, but the statement needs to be put in context. The United Kingdom (UK), a fiercely secular society, is nevertheless not a secular state; constitutionally it is a protestant monarchy, where the monarch of the realm is also the head of the Anglican Church, and also under the Act of Settlement has to be Protestant Christian. Yet through evolution starting with the age of reason, the Protestant nature of the Kingdom has become dead letter for all practical purposes because politicians in the UK have adopted secularism as their creed. It is, therefore, possible for any citizen, whatever their faith, to become the mayor of London or even the prime minister. It was this British secularism that Pakistan’s founding father, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, has harked back to in his famous 11th of August 1947 speech, when he poignantly referred to the history and evolution of Catholic and Protestant conflict in the UK to the effect that “, you might say with justice that Roman Catholics and Protestants do not exist; what exists now is that every man is a citizen, an equal citizen of Great Britain and they are all members of the Nation.”
    To do so, however, such a citizen must adopt secularism and belief in human rights as his or her creed. Predictably, Mayor Sadiq Khan does believe in these values. In 2012, he supported same-sex marriage, which prompted many UK mosques to denounce him and even threaten him. Khan was undeterred. How many in Pakistan today would vote for Khan holding such views? This is the irony. Pakistan abandoned the vision outlined by its founding father and chose instead a narrow-minded theocratic path. We already know where that has led us. The idea that a minority can be elected in this country to a responsible position in government has over time become unlikelier still. We are not even ready to accord our minorities the right to live in this country with dignity.
    Laws left behind by General Zia-ul-Haq have ensured that religious freedom as a constitutional fundamental right has become redundant and useless. Instead we have now campaigners from religious parties asking for the execution of ‘blasphemers’. To these campaigners, Pakistan is not even of secondary importance. They have not even considered how it would isolate Pakistan globally if we were to take some of our laws to their logical conclusion. Persecution of minority religious groups in Pakistan is the norm and not the exception. One forced minority, the Ahmadis, have been disenfranchised unconstitutionally and illegally because, despite the joint electorate, the state insists on placing their names, exclusively, on a ‘supplementary list’ on the electoral rolls. As a result, an Ahmadi cannot even become the mayor of Rabwah (officially called Chenab Nagar) where the majority population is from that group. So what are we celebrating Sadiq Khan’s victory in London for?
    Things need to change faster in Pakistan. We are the laughing stock of the world because of our insistence on notions that just do not have any place in the modern world. Even something as basic as a passport application we fill out vitiates the most basic of fundamental human rights, which our constitution purports to grant us. Tomorrow civilised nations of the world may well ban all of us from entering their borders because all of us, inevitably, are forced to sign the horrendously bigoted statement against Ahmadis to get a passport. In doing so, willingly or unwillingly, self-included we all become accessories to state-sponsored persecution of that group. It is only a matter of time that the world takes notice and, consequently, this unconscionable act of ours would hurt us Pakistanis as a whole, much more than it would hurt Ahmadis.
    But does this occur to our religious divines? No. Pakistan has never been and never will be a priority for them. Instead some like Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani of the Council of Islamic Ideology want to debate whether Ahmadis are murtids (apostates) or merely non-Muslims, implying of course whether they should be killed or merely persecuted. Where do these people want to take Pakistan? If they had their way, they would lead us to the second holocaust. There is always that possibility that minorities in Pakistan have to reckon with. It will not end there though. Ultimately the officially sanctioned Muslims will turn on each other. There would be a massive bloodshed of epic proportions.
    During the Pakistan Movement, Raja of Mahmudabad, himself a Shia Muslim, started using the Muslim League platform to advocate an Islamic state. When Jinnah got the wind of his, he told Mahmudabad to distance himself from the Muslim League. He said, “Do you realise that there are over 70 sects and differences of opinion regarding the Islamic faith, and if what you [Raja] are suggesting was to be followed, the consequences would be a struggle of religious opinion from the very inception of the State leading to its very dissolution.” Religious leaders are forcing us closer to that precipice and the spectre of dissolution is looming large.
    The question of the separation of religion from state, therefore, is a matter of life and death for Pakistan as a country, society and a state. The very survival of the country is linked to whether or not we are able to ensure that religion is made a private matter between man and God and taken away from our halls of government and our courts of law. This is because Pakistan is far too diverse a society with far too many different sectarian and religious interpretations of Islam for it to afford a theocracy. It is time for Pakistanis, therefore, to accept that faith is a matter between man and God and not the business of the state.

    Pakistan - RUDE AWAKENING - Rumours doing rounds new COAS and CJP are PML-N ‘sympathisers’: Imran

    *PTI chief says an impression exists that changes in army being made for PML-N

    Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan Friday cast a spotlight on rumours circulating about the incoming Supreme Court Chief Justice Saqib Nisar and newly appointed army chief, saying there is an impression that they are “sympathisers” of the ruling government.
    “Khursheed Shah said the impression is that the new CJ’s sympathy is with the PML-N,” Khan told journalists in Lahore referring to the senior PPP lawmaker’s speech in parliament.
    “There is also an impression that the changes within the armed forces are for PML-N,” Khan added. “I don’t know if there is truth in this. All I know is that when Maryam Nawaz tweets, ‘saying a storm has passed’... what does it mean? They [PML-N] themselves are giving weight to the perception that the change will suit them.”
    “How has the storm passed? A new CJ and new COAS have been appointed. What message are you giving people? This is a wrong impression,” Khan said.
    Although such remarks aimed at the head of the military and apex court are rare, opposition parties have hit out at the PML-N and raised questions about the new appointments.
    Earlier this month, Awami Muslim League (AML) leader Shaikh Rasheed in an interview to a private TV news channel said that the new Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa was appointed “not on merit but for his loyalty to the ruling party”.
    Hitting back at Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Khan said he would attend the parliamentary session when Nawaz Sharif would show up to answer the allegations.
    “If the Leader of the House is lying in the National Assembly, then he himself is undermining it,” he said. He called on PM Nawaz to answer allegations just like former British premier David Cameron did.
    “Changing your stance or lying is a U-turn,” said the PTI chief. “We want to hold the prime minister accountable and that is what we are trying to do,” he said.
    He praised Pakistan Army for carrying out an effective operation against militants and said that it was due to the armed forces that terrorism had reduced in the country.

    Pakistan - Failure on terror front

    Afrasiab Khattak
    The 110 pages damning report by Justice Qazi Faez Isa-led Inquiry Commission on Quetta terror attack of August 8 has categorically exposed the hypocrisy and double-dealings of the state institutions in their policy and action on terrorism. The report has been submitted to a three members Supreme Court bench led by the Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali on Thursday (December 15) and made public despite the government’s efforts to keep it under wraps.
    He report is an indictment of some state institutions over their inaction for rooting out the menace of extremism and terrorism. Now we know why the government has been so reluctant to conduct a judicial inquiry into high profile terrorists attacks, such as in the APS Peshawar and many other terror incidents. We can also understand better now why the report of the Abbottabad Commission was not made public. Powerful state institutions have too many skeletons in their cupboards to face the public when it comes to fighting terror. Unfortunately terrorist networks are still considered strategic assets and used as instruments of policy in both internal and external affairs despite the pious noises made to the contrary by civil and military leaders over the last many years. Pakistan has squandered years in denial of the terror problem and even when it grudgingly came to concede the existence of the problem it has failed to muster political will to eliminate the threat from its roots. Civil and military leaders have been hiding behind accusations against each other for being unwilling to take on some of the most notorious terrorist networks. General Pervez Musharraf’s “enlightened moderation” and the present government’s National Action Plan (NAP) have proved to be camouflage for the policy of double-dealing.
    The Qazi Faez Isa Commission has rightly pressed the state to come on to the front foot in confronting the menace of extremism and terrorism. According to the report the problem has been aggravated due to the lack of political will on the part of state institutions to implement ATA, NACTA Act, Pakistan Penal Code and most importantly the Constitution of Pakistan. Proscribed terrorist networks are thriving in the atmosphere of appeasement. The Commission has particularly pointed out the meeting of the Minister Interior with the heads of three banned organisations- Sipah-I-Sahaba Pakistan, Millit-i-Islamia and Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat on October 21 that made a mockery of the anti terror campaign. The venue of the aforementioned meeting was Punjab House, the official guesthouse situated in the red zone of Islamabad. So if this is the condition in Islamabad under the very nose of the state and government what can one expect in far away places like FATA, Muridke and Kuchlak (near Quetta)?
    Non-implementation of NAP, for obvious reasons, remains one of the main issues discussed by the report. No position taken by the government can justify non-implementation of the NAP. The report suggests concretising some of the points in the NAP for effective implementation. Interestingly the federal government initially agreed to have parliamentary oversight but subsequently backtracked on its commitment.
    The report also touches upon the pathetic situation of NACTA that was supposed to play a pivotal role in countering terrorism but which has been robbed of its mandate by the arrogance of the Ministry of Interior and intelligence agencies. NACTA has been begging for cooperation but to no avail. Similarly the question of coming out with a counter narrative to extremism and terrorism is also discussed in the report with some detail. It is in fact the epitome of the lack of political will on the part of state to combat terrorism, because “good terrorists” will be negatively impacted by it. Most of the unregistered and unreformed religious seminaries remain the main source of sectarian extremism and terrorism as their education systems are based on sectarianism although the hateful content in curricula makes students in mainstream educational institutions also vulnerable to the menace. But as long as the factories creating sectarianism are in production it is bizarre to just run after individual products. The gravity of the situation can be gauged from the fact that some reckless and ruthless elements even tried to use rge sectarian card to influence the decision of the Prime Minister of Pakistan in appointing the new COAS recently. Sectarian divisions have been eating into the vital organs of Pakistani society and its ingress in state institutions is a sure recipe for disaster.
    The report of the Supreme Court Inquiry Commission on the terror attack is valuable not just for understanding the loopholes in policy and action against extremism and terrorism in Quetta or Balochistan but it also sheds light on the failings of the state at the national level. Its dozen-plus concrete and specific key recommendations are of vital importance for plugging the gaps in the state’s counter terrorism strategy. It’s high time to start the judicial inquiry into all recent major terrorist incidents to find and analyze facts for drawing proper conclusions that can become a basis for launching an effective and meaningful war on terror instead of playing games.
    Be that as it may the most important thing just now is the possible reaction of the Pakistani state and government to the Supreme Court Inquiry Report. Will they receive the report with an open mind and go for a complete overhaul on the policy and strategy level? Will some heads on political and bureaucratic level role for their substantial failure in performing their duty? Will the state stop hiding and distorting facts and come clean on past obfuscations? Will the policy of fighting the war of attrition in neighboring countries change? Will Project Taliban come to a close? It obviously involves a total rethink of the security and foreign policy that is easier said than done. The existential future of the country is going to be decided by answers to the questions mentioned above. At this point the status quo is not an option. Internal implosion remains a threat and there is also going to be an international fall-out. The world is going to judge Pakistan on the basis of this report coming from the highest judicial forum of the country. In the absence of visible and practical corrective measures it may become impossible for Pakistan to avoid indictment as a state sponsoring terrorism.


    Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari tweeted Saturday the Quetta commission report on the hospital carnage “was yet more proof the government should have implemented our four demands by now”.
    The PPP chairman added that the government should have taken notice and action based on the Quetta commission report and there was no reason for them being allowed to rule a day longer.
    An inquiry commission under the Supreme Court slammed the federal interior minister, the Balochistan chief minister and home minister for providing misleading information following a deadly terrorist attack in Quetta which claimed 70 lives and injured as many as 112 people earlier this year.
    On August 8, a powerful explosion ripped through Civil Hospital in Quetta when Balochistan Bar Association President Bilal Kasi’s body was being brought to the emergency department. Kasi was gunned down in a targeted killing earlier that day.
    In its findings, the report stated that the Federal Interior Ministry lacks a ‘sense of ministerial responsibility’.
    “The [Interior] Ministry’s National Security Internal Policy is not being implemented. The Officers of the Ministry appear more interested in serving the Minister than the people of Pakistan,” said the inquiry report.
    “Forensic tools are not being used to aid in tracing the perpetrators of terrorist attacks, and rudimentary methodologies to examine crime scenes, etcetera, have just not been developed or standardised,” it stated.
    Earlier today, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar said the report was one sided and did not include his stance. Nisar told reporters in Islamabad that he would be presenting his stance to the Supreme Court and Parliament.
    The interior minister added that he was offered to resign over the report, but the prime minister did not accept his resignation.


    Vice President PPPP, Senator Sherry Rehman citing the new Quetta Commission report, condemned the failure of the National Action Plan and the government’s inaction two years on, after the Army Public School attack in Peshawar.
    “The shocking level of inaction revealed in the Quetta Inquiry Commission Report is an indictment of the Balochistan and federal government as well as NAP,” said the Senator.
    The NAP was established by the government in the aftermath of the APS attack in 2014 where 141 people including 132 children were killed when terrorists opened fire at the children and school staff.
    Rehman stated, “Today marks the second year of a heinous attack that should have never happened. As citizens, we cannot simply move on from something like this and condone serial inaction as exposed in the report. Prayers and messages of condemnation will no longer suffice”.
    The Senator further said, “Combating terrorism is a persistent and serious issue that requires a strong strategic plan. The Quetta Inquiry Commission Report exposed how NAP’s poor planning and lack of government oversight has lead to its monumental ineffectiveness”.
    The report also revealed the Interior Ministry’s unreliability and its seemingly non-chalant approach towards the very real threat of terrorism.
    “The Commission has unmistakably called out the Interior Ministry for its systematic failure in almost every aspect where it should have been acting to counter-terrorism. The details of the report reveal a trail of bureaucratic paralysis and criminal neglect in which the Interior Ministry also failed and delayed to proscribe terrorists. Upon reading the findings of this report, what further evidence of inaction do we need?” questioned the Senator.
    “According to the report, it seems that even the Convener of the Implementation Committee of the National Action Plan had been allowed no significant role in pursuing goals. In fact, his answers revealed that the NSA does not even have access to data on terrorist attacks in Pakistan and has no clear role in National Internal Security Policy. It is obvious that no one is actually empowered by the government to implement NAP. I cannot comprehend the rationale behind this veil of smoke and mirrors that the NAP has become,” exclaimed the Senator.
    Emphasizing on the importance of democratic oversight and the urgency of national action against countering violent extremism before it swallows more innocent citizens and law enforcers, the Senator said, “Everyone has a stake in curbing terrorism. PPP has said time and again that we stand united with all those who are in the frontlines in defending Pakistan; that is why we are insisting on reconstituting the National Security Committee of Parliament. But the government is resisting any input or oversight despite promises in the Kashmir APC,” concluded the Senator.