Sunday, April 30, 2017

Video - Chandani Raatain - Noor Jahan

Pakistan - Asif Zardari’s May Day Message

The observance of the international Labor Day is an occasion to pay homage to the workers and wage earners as well as to renew our pledge to defend the dignity and ensure decent living to the workers of the country.
In a message on the on the eve of international Labor Day on Monday May 1 the former President of the Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari also vowed to not permit sacking of workers in the name of privatization.
“The Party will strive hard and harder for protecting the rights and privileges of the working classes and to expand them even further”.
The Party will always stand by the working classes as they continue their struggle for dignity and rights, he said.
Asif Zardari said that the Party is keeping an eye on the privatization process and will not permit the regime to sack workers in the name of privatization. The Party saves workers’ jobs and will not allow retrenchments.
The former president said that both the founding Chairperson and his daughter Shaheed Benazir Bhutto promised workers right to job security, decent wages and right to dignity and a rightful place in society. They also struggled alongside the labor for the attainment of these rights. We will ensure that the promises made by our Shaheed leaders are fulfilled in letter and spirit, he said.
The struggle for improving the working conditions of workers and protection from exploitation is a continuous one and the Party will continue its struggle to secure the rightful place of workers in the society, he said.

PPP calls for making inquiry report in Dawn leaks made public

The Pakistan People’s Party calls upon the government to make public the inquiry report in the so called Dawn leaks to allay a host of doubts and misgivings.

In a statement Spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the unceremonious sacking of Special Assistant Mr. Tariq Fatemi and Principal Information Officer Mr. Rao Tehseen, the unprecedented advice to APNS to proceed against the Editor and Reporter and the highly unprecedented public rejection by the ISPR of actions taken as ‘incomplete and not in line with recommendations of the inquiry board’ makes it absolutely necessary that the report is made public.
Confusion is confounded by the remarks attributed earlier to Mr. Tariq Fatemi dismissing the reports that he had been shown the door.  The categorical statement of Interior Minister in Karachi on Saturday that his Ministry had not yet issued any notification just when the PM Office had indeed issued orders has given rise to several questions that need answers, he said.

The public statement by the ISPR through tweet rejecting publicly the order issued by the PM Office lends a new dimension to the incident that will give rise to some serious questions which will refuse to die down.

“The botching up of the incident is a measure of the incompetence of the government and insistence to keep the inquiry report under wraps will only complicate the matters further”, he said recalling also the statement of Interior Minister at the time that the report shall be made public.
He said that initially the government sought to clarify the news report sometimes as ‘baseless and fabricated’ and sometimes as ‘planted’. Despite declaring it as untrue at the time the government also termed the report as posing ‘threat to national security’ without explaining how.

Asking the media watchdog APNS to take action against the Editor and Reporter for alleged breach of national security takes the issue of stifling freedom of expression in the name of national security to new heights, he said.

These are some of the issues that call for making public the inquiry report and a thorough debate in the Parliament for devising appropriate guidelines, he said.

Pakistan: 'Blasphemy' is a smokescreen to crush dissent

Ab roshni hoti hai ke ghar jalta hai dekhain
Shola sa tawaaf-e-dar-o-deewaar karay hai
    — Mir Taqi Mir
[Will it lead to light or the house burning down, we'll have to see
A spark of sorts is circling the walls of our home]
In Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novel 'Chronicle of a Death Foretold, an anonymous narrator tells us about events leading up to the murder of Santiago Nasar, a man killed by two brothers who accused him of having relations with their sister. The narrator records how everyone in the village knew the murder would happen but did nothing to stop it. Marquez's masterpiece explores the morality of the village's collective responsibility for the murder. Today, Pakistan seems eerily like that fictitious village in South America. We all watch as the march of death continues, unable or unwilling to stop it.

Despite this, Mashal Khan's murder has resulted in something unusual around the discourse on blasphemy law in Pakistan: universal condemnation. This has allowed us to begin a conversation on misuse of the law. Incorrigible optimists can be forgiven for thinking that this will last. Alas, new horrors will inevitably replace old ones and the amnesia train will rumble on.

The mere whiff of a blasphemy accusation has been a political kryptonite in Pakistan but it is transforming into something much more sinister. Its lure has proved irresistible for those seeking to harness its fearsome power for political ends. It's apparent that certain enclaves within the officialdom have realised that it is far too useful a tactic and can't be left as a preserve of the garden-variety of religious fanatics. The officialdom has, thus, discovered its new use as a tool of crushing dissent - without needing trials or granting a right of defence and appeal. For years, we lamented how the state was not able to curb the menace of blasphemy. Now it has weaponised it.

These days, fatwas don't just come from pulpits in rural dust towns but are also delivered from the sleek sets of prime-time television talk shows; high benches of the superior judiciary; parliamentary standing committees; mouths of pugnacious 'security analysts'; and joint investigation cells of federal agencies. Amid this building chorus of bloodlust and endless waves of innuendo, accusation, and dog-whistles, an air of inevitability had already been present ahead of the tragedy in Mardan. It was only a matter of time till some other 'authority' - the administration of a university - decided that it too needed its own smokescreen to quash dissent.

Our esteemed interior minister has led the charge more valiantly than others. He has found it incumbent upon himself to hunt down blasphemers and protect the honour of Islam. He has spoken eloquently on the subject multiple times, informing us of his 'personal interest' in the matter and telling us that he will not hesitate to "shut down all social media in the country if the scourge continues". However, it is quite astonishing that this flirtation with extremism does not appear to have been checked in the slightest by a wholly unprecedented and damning indictment of the minister in the Quetta commission report only a few months ago. The amnesia express is certainly a bullet train in Pakistan.

To date, the FIA has at least half a dozen unknown bloggers in its custody on charges of blasphemy. The revolving door of arrests of activists, academics and intellectuals, continues with impunity. The arbitrary arrest of well-known Karachi-based academic and activist, Dr Riaz Ahmed, is the most recent case in point.

There are those who argue that mainstreaming hysteria around blasphemy will have disastrous consequences for the country in the long run. But far from employing tact in light of a delicate situation, Pakistan's federal government has upped the ante by taking the 'battle' global. A convention of Muslim envoys has already been held to ensure that the glory of Islam is not besmirched by anonymous Facebook posts. Chairing the convention, the interior minister said that a formal reference would also be sent to the secretary general of the Arab League and the chairman of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC).

But surely the minister is not an unreasonable or an unintelligent man. He realises that inciting passions on the issue of blasphemy through an office of public trust is akin to playing with fire in a country where young couples are thrown into brick ovens and mutilated bodies dragged through streets.

Interestingly, Chaudhry Nisar's crusade against hate material on internet did not move him enough to act on a glaring recent example of hate speech directed against his own leader. The campaign was so successful that it culminated in a retired Air Force officer raising blasphemy allegations against the PM for attending a holi event. Does the honourable minister not see where is this situation headed? Surely, we have learned some lessons about creating Frankensteins, Mr Minister? In the end, the falcon does not hear the falconer.

I couldn't dare watch the video of the Mardan incident for more than a few seconds, thinking that nothing could be more painful than the sight of a mob lynching an innocent young man. However, I felt a lot more pain on seeing Mashal's parents' plight. I don't think I'll ever forget his dormitory either - an altar of death strewn with emblems of this young man's idealism and sense of wonder. The portrait of his idol Che Guevara must have looked on helplessly as Mashal was dragged from this room. This was the same Che Guevara who had famously said, "If you tremble with indignation at every injustice, you are a comrade of mine". I wonder how many tremble with me on this injustice.

Pakistan - Implosion?

By Afrasiab Khattak
The deepening contradictions of the post Zia “republic” do not seem to be manageable anymore. The de facto isn’t ready to live with even the semblance of the de jure. The deep state is ready to attack the leadership of every institution that comes in the way of its total control of the state system and it includes even people in uniform. After neglecting and side-lining the elected assemblies for four years, the present government doesn’t have the strength that emanates from the democratic system to resist the onslaught of the deep state. Even the approaching general election has failed to keep a lid over the power struggle among various factions of the ruling elites. Going by the historical experience of the state system in Pakistan, the 8 to 10-year cycle of the civilian dispensation seems to have been completed. But strengthening of Article 6 of the Constitution in the 18th Amendment has created some complications for the adventurist types in the ruling establishment. The option of suspending the Constitution used by General Zia and General Musharraf isn’t available anymore. Any future direct military intervention wouldn’t be possible without total abrogation of the 1973 Constitution. This situation has enhanced the role of the higher judiciary in the process of “regime change”. The mischief of Articles 62 and 63 in their post Zia form is coming into play.
There have been some important transitions started by the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that couldn’t be completed. One of the most important was shifting from the Cold War’s geo-strategic to the 21st century’s geo-economic. Hence the talk about Pakistan becoming an Asian tiger. It obviously involved normalisation of relations with India. Nawaz Sharif has been pretty consistent about this policy. But any major breakthrough on this front hasn’t been possible so far due to tough resistance of the security establishment internally and the changing political landscape in India. Moreover elements in the security establishment are restless for joining the new Cold War between Russia and the west that could create new complications for Pakistan in a situation where the country has yet to overcome the fallout of the old Cold War.
The growing incidents of extremist violence in the ever expanding sphere of vigilantism epitomises the challenge of radicalisation, which in Pakistan’s case has been a by-product of militarisation of the state. It is a radicalised state that has led to the radicalisation of society. Efforts at de-radicalisation of society are doomed to fail without addressing the problem in the state that is the root cause. By weaponising blasphemy, the deep state is just dancing to the tunes of violent extremism. Despite their best intentions, can the present political and military leadership bring the so called jihadist project of the yesteryears to an end? So far, the said project has survived Musharraf’s “enlightened moderation” and the National Action Plan (NAP) of December 2014. Even the military operations Zarb-e-Azb and Rad-ul-Fasad have failed to root it out. Talibanisation of Afghanistan still remains the security state’s agenda. Interestingly, the security establishment has been trying to cover up its footprint on the militancy front by resorting to smokescreens. Efforts for creating new narratives are launched by “discovering” the nexus between corruption and terrorism and the patronage of bad Taliban by hostile intelligence agencies. No one is suggesting that the hostile intelligence agencies don’t use bad Taliban. They surely do that. But the original designers of project Taliban want to hide behind it. Taliban-based Afghan policy can create new security challenges at a time when the US army is gaining a greater say in policy making for conflict zones under the Donald Trump administration. Re-emergence of drones on Pakistan’s western borders is a pointer to the future escalation.
Even those who gloat over the Russian contacts with Taliban take a very myopic view of the situation. Unlike the far away US, Russia and China are seriously threatened by extremist and violent Islamic movements. Central Asia and Muslim parts of the Russian Federation remain the soft underbelly of Russia. Same is the case with Xinjiang in China. At the moment, the so called IS is the declared threat. But IS is just a part of the terror syndicate and is capable of getting refurbished by large scale recruitment from the ranks of Taliban, LeT, JeM and other jihadist networks. This is happening in plain sight. It’s just a question of rebranding. It explains the potential for expansion of IS in our region at a time when it is under squeeze in the Middle East. Lest we forget, the last battle against religious extremist violence in this region will be fought by China and Russia as it constitutes an existentialist threat to them. As if this wasn’t enough by militarily teaming up with Saudi monarchy in violation of Parliament’s resolution the Nawaz Sharif government is putting oil on the sectarian fire. Tension on borders with Iran is visibly growing.
The scenario appears this bleak because the political leadership is in total disarray and there is a disconnect between the state and society. Political leadership has no agenda for reforming itself and the state system. The poet Iqbal says, “Nature may look the other way when it comes to individual’s deviation but it never forgives sins of the millat (nation).”

Thursday, April 27, 2017

#LongLiveBhuttoism _ Mai Bhutto Hon

Video - PPP Song - Milkay Lagao Nara

Children pay the price in Afghan conflict: UN

Children account for one-third of civilian casualties in Afghanistan's grinding conflict in the first three months of 2017, and are paying an increasingly high price in the fighting, a UN report said Thursday in Kabul.
From January to March, 210 children were killed -- up 17 percent from the same period last year -- and 525 injured, out of a total of 2,181 civilian casualties (715 dead and 1,466 injured).
The overall total is slightly down, by four percent, compared to the same period in 2016.
Among women, 88 deaths were recorded, a figure that jumped 54 percent from last year, mainly due to aerial bombardments -- an increasing danger as the Afghan Air Force begins to carry out its own strikes.
Overall, the report showed 148 deaths and injuries from airstrikes in the first quarter, compared to 29 last year.
"We are extremely concerned about the increase in the number of casualties among women and children, particularly deaths," said the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), which has documented civilian victims of the conflict since 2009.
"The 17 per cent increase in child casualties reflects the failure of parties to the conflict to take adequate precautions to protect civilians, including through marking and clearing unexploded ordnance after fighting ends," said Danielle Bell, head of human rights for UNAMA.
The main cause of casualties remains fighting on the ground, claiming up 35 percent of the victims.
The number of civilians fleeing fighting hit a record high last year, said the UN, with 600,000 internally displaced -- which, when added to hundreds of thousands of refugees returned from Pakistan in 2016, threatens to overwhelm already meagre resources allocated to refugees.
The UN blames 62 percent of civilian casualties on anti-government elements, mainly the Taliban, who are gearing up for their spring fighting season after an unusually violent winter. Unexploded mines and ammunition abandoned by fighters remained the second highest cause of civilian casualties (19 percent of the total), with attacks marking 17 percent.
Kabul province had the highest number of casualties thanks to multiple attacks in the capital, followed by provinces where fighting is most sustained -- such as Helmand, virtually under Taliban control; Kandahar and Uruzgan in the south, and Nangarhar in the east, where the Islamic State group is in a turf war with the Taliban.
"It is civilians, with increasing numbers of women and children, who far too often bear the brunt of the conflict," said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN envoy to Afghanistan.
"With the so-called fighting season imminent, I appeal to all parties to take every measure possible to prevent unnecessary and unacceptable harm to Afghan civilians."

US drone strike kills 7 in northwest Pakistan

Two Pakistani intelligence officials say an overnight suspected U.S. drone strike has killed seven militants in a tribal region near the Afghan border.
The officials said Wednesday's strike in Zuwai village in North Waziristan was the first since 2014 when the Pakistan army launched a major military operation there. The officials said Thursday no high value militant was killed in the strike.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to media on the record.
Pakistan's tribal regions have been the scene of CIA drone strikes and Pakistani operations, forcing militants to flee toward Afghanistan and set up sanctuaries there.

Militant group: Pakistan using prisoner for propaganda

The spokesman for a key militant group says Pakistan’s intelligence service is using a captured militant leader to give the impression that his group is being funded by foreign spy agencies for attacks in Pakistan.
Mohammad Khurasani’s comments come after the Pakistani army released a video of Ahsanullah Ahsan in which the ex-spokesman of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan says he surrendered after seeing his leaders getting help from Indian and Afghan intelligence services to orchestrate attacks in Pakistan.
Khurasani says Pakistan’s Inter-Services-Intelligence is using a “prisoner” for propaganda against them.
Scores of attacks claimed by Ahsan in the past include the 2012 gun attack on teenage Nobel prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in Pakistan because of her advocacy for women’s education.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Video Report - Turning blind eye? NATO weapons reportedly end up in hands of jihadists fighting in Syria

Video - Internet makes fun of Trump's executive orders

Video - "President Trump" Crashes The Daily Show

Saudi Arabia Rejects Women’s Sports

By Joe Lemire

The Saudi Arabian advisory Shura Council rejected a measure that would have founded sports education colleges for women in the kingdom, a blow to the advancement of equal opportunity in a country where girls are already denied physical education programs in state-run schools because female exercise is seen by some ultraconservative clerics as “immodest.” One scholar has called such activity “steps of the devil.”
One of the proposal’s co-sponsors, Lateefa Al-Shaalan, told the Saudi Gazette, “This was the most frustrating day for the Saudi women.”
That this news drops less than a week after Saudi Arabia was somehow elected to the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women—a group charged with promoting equality and empowerment of women—makes the UN selection even more farcical than it already was. The monitoring NGO, UN Watch, condemned that move, labeling Saudi Arabia “the world’s most misogynistic regime.” Its executive director, Hillel Neuer, said in an interview with France24 that the Saudi kingdom was the “world’s worst violator of women’s rights in the world” and this move was a “black day for women’s rights.”

Amazingly, Saudi Arabia joined Iran, of all countries, on that UN women’s commission. Those two nations, a Middle Eastern scholar noted in the Huffington Post, are the only two that prohibit women from even attending men’s sporting events.
There have been only the smallest, incremental improvements for Saudi women in the sporting realm. In February, the government began issuing licenses for women’s-only gyms, which previously had to be operated under the shroud of a salon or spa. Still, these gyms are for fitness only as competitive sports remain barred in a country with a high obese rate, particularly among women.
While Saudi Arabia did send its first two female athletes to the Olympics in 2012 (and four more in 2016) and there are growing private sports companies like Jeddah United offering youth sports to girls as well as boys, those changes are happening slowly. The Human Rights Watch in 2012 described privately-run competitive sports for women and girls in Saudi Arabia to be “tolerated rather than supported by the government.”
“There are now clubs for women and several kinds of sports are being exercised there, but it is usually in a timid way,” sports critic Madani Rahimi told “It is about time such clubs emerged in the open and got official support from the state.”
“We really deplore the absence in our society of a culture that promotes sports as a crucially stabilizing factor in women’s lives,” a college student named Rotana told the news site. “Many families see sports as a luxury that they do not need, while several other families consider it as an alien phenomenon that can lead only to trouble. We do need to change the way families look at sports for women and help them appreciate its role in building characters and giving bodies the strength they need.”
For now, however, Saudi Arabia may have the status as a UN-appointed leader on women’s issues, but nixing this week’s proposal for women’s sports colleges only reinforces how hollow that designation really is.

Saudi Arabia has reportedly sentenced a young man to death for apostasy.

Saudi Arabia has reportedly sentenced a young man to death for apostasy. The news has stirred up Twitter users, with some expressing sadness and sorrow, while others praised the move.
On Tuesday, a Saudi Arabian court dismissed an appeal from Ahmad Al Shamri, who had spent three years in prison over charges of “atheism and blasphemy,” the Exmuslim website reports.
Al Shamri was in his early 20s and lived the city of Hafr Al-Batin in the country’s Eastern Province, according to the website. He had reportedly renounced Islam and posted various videos reflecting his views on social media. The man was arrested in 2014, faced trial and was sentenced to death in February 2015.
After the appeal was rejected, social media users were split over the court decision, posting their comments under a trending hashtag, which can be translated from Arabic as “apostate from Hafar Al-Batin.”
Many social media users condemned Saudi Arabia, pointing out that the country is a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
Some said the country has double standards towards religious freedom.
Others said that the man did not deserve the death sentence.
In addition to its UNHRC membership, Saudi Arabia was appointed to the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) on Sunday.
One Twitter user translated several posts to make the world aware of some users’ positive reactions. Some supported the punishment, saying that it is appropriate for apostasy in Islam.
Others wish they could watch the execution.