Thursday, August 31, 2017

Pushto Song - A Tribute To Benazir Bhutto

Video - #BenazirBhutto - BENAZIR BHUTTO's Last Address

Video Report - Hamid Mir's Detailed Analysis on Benazir Bhutto Murder Case Verdict

Video Report - "Benazir Bhutto verdict

Video Report - NewsEye - "Benazir Bhutto murder case decision"

Geopolitical revolution as Pakistan strengthens ties with China

Pakistan - Dengue claims another life in Peshawar

The dengue outbreak continues to wreak havoc across K-P as another patient lost his battle against the virus on Wednesday in Peshawar.
With his death, the death toll from the disease has risen to 12. According to the data released by the dengue response unit on Wednesday, a total of 3,931 people have so far tested positive for dengue in the province so far.
Dengue claims another life in Peshawar
However, of these, 3,346 have been discharged from different hospitals the province after receiving treatment. The data further revealed that over than 1,693 people with dengue symptoms visited hospitals on Wednesday.

#BenazirBhutto assassination case: List of all the key persons involved

Benazir Bhutto, the Pakistan Peoples Party chief and a two-time prime minister, was killed along with more than 20 people in a gun and bomb attack in Rawalpindi's Liaquat Bagh during an election campaign rally on December 27, 2007.
Pakistan’s former dictator Pervez Musharraf was on Thursday declared a fugitive by an anti-terrorism court which ordered seizure of his property and sentenced two senior police officers to 17 years in jail in the Benazir Bhutto murder case, nearly 10 years after her assassination. Bhutto, the Pakistan Peoples Party chief and a two-time prime minister, was killed along with more than 20 people in a gun and bomb attack in Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh during an election campaign rally on December 27, 2007. She was 54. The case was registered soon after her assassination and the trial went through many ups and down until it concluded yesterday in Rawalpindi. Judge Asghar Khan announced the verdict, declaring Musharraf a proclaimed offender and ordered seizure of his property. Here are the people involved in the case:
Pervez Musharraf –
 Musharraf, who was the President of Pakistan from June 20, 2001 till August 18, 2008, has been declared a fugitive by an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan. He was implicated in the assassination case in 2009 after a fresh probe by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). The court today ordered seizure of all properties belonging to the former dictator. Former Rawalpindi

CPO Saud Aziz – 

Pakistan-based Samaa publication attributed FIA officials saying Aziz was a facilitator of the assassination because he did not provide security to Benazir Bhutto. Aziz, who was the DIG then, has been facing charges of abetting the killing of Benazir Bhutto as it was revealed that he had ordered the transfer of a superintendent of police from Bhutto’s rally to Sadiqabad. Later, the prosecution also blamed him for not performing autopsy on the deceased. The court has also imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh on him.

Former Rawal Town SP Khurram Shahzad – 

Charges of abetting the killing of Benazir Bhutto were leveled on Shahzad. The court has imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh on him.
TTP suspects: 

Rafaqat Hussain, Husnain Gul, Sher Zaman, Aitzaz Shah and Abdul Rashid have been acquitted over lack of evidence. They were arrested soon after the assassination and had been in jail. They had denied the charges. All accused were present at the time of announcement of trial except Musharraf. The trial of five suspects started in January 2008, while Musharraf, Aziz and Shahezad were implicated in 2009 after fresh probe by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

#BenazirBhutto assassination: Bilawal, Aseefa call verdict on Pervez Musharraf 'disappointing, unacceptable'

Following the verdict in the 2007 Benazir Bhutto assassination case, the former prime minister's children expressed their displeasure with the judgment on Twitter.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Twitter called the decision "disappointing and unacceptable", adding that the party would explore legal options.

SMBB case decision is disappointing & unacceptable. Realse of terrorists not only unjust but also dangerous. PPP will explore legal options.

An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Rawalpindi declared former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf an absconder in the assassination of Bhutto while acquitting all five Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan suspects. Two police officials were sentenced to 17 years each in prison. Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari, the youngest of the siblings, said in a tweet that "they were still awaiting justice".
In another tweet, she said that there would be no justice until "Pervez Musharraf answers for his crimes".
There will be no justice till Pervez Musharraf answers for his crimes !
Sharing her sister's sentiments, Bakhtawar Bhutto-Zardari also expressed displeasure with the verdict, saying: "Police men arrested but actual terrorists acquitted #Shame".
Benazir Bhutto was killed in a gun-and-bomb attack outside Rawalpindi's Liaquat Bagh on 27 December, 2007, when Musharraf was President of the country.

Benazir Bhutto - PPP disappointed and shocked over the verdict

The Pakistan People’s Party expresses disappointment and shock over the verdict in the Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s assassination case announced today by the Anti-Terrorism court in Rawalpindi.
The Party believes that justice has not been done, nor it seems to have been done.
The acquittal of Al Qaeda/ Taliban terrorists against whom evidence had been provided is most surprising and raise several questions. On its face it seems a triumph of Al Qaeda militants.
Two police officers have been convicted and sentenced. But the question as to who had ordered them to wash out the place of occurrence and destroy crucial evidence has not been addressed. The conviction of the police officers will remain weak unless those giving orders to them were also tried and convicted.
It is worth noting that the prosecutor in the case Chaudhry Zulfiqar was assassinated just when he had reached the critical stage and set to oppose the bail application of General (R) Pervez Musharraf.
It may be noted that the FIR in the case was got registered by the Punjab police without consulting the family and without making the PPP a party to it.
The Party recalls the apprehensions expressed by Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir about the plot to assassinate her. It is common knowledge and she had stated it in so many words that Musharraf had threatened her
that if she returned to Pakistan before elections her life would be in danger.
Since the PPP was not a party to the case it demands of the government to immediately file appeal against the verdict. The PPP will also employ legal instruments to mount its claim to become a party to the case and file an appeal against the verdict.
The Party will give a detailed response after full judgment has been made public.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

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Geneva: Blasphemy laws on the books in one-third of nations, says study

Proportionality of punishment was a key criteria for the researchers. “That is why Iran and Pakistan are the two highest countries because they explicitly have the death penalty in their law.”

Laws prohibiting blasphemy are “astonishingly widespread” worldwide, with many laying down disproportionate punishments ranging from prison sentences to lashings or the death penalty, the lead author of a report on blasphemy said.

Iran, Pakistan, and Yemen score worst, topping a list of 71 countries with laws criminalising views deemed blasphemous, found in all regions, according to a comprehensive report issued this month by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.

The bipartisan US federal commission called for repeal of blasphemy statutes, saying they invited abuse and failed to protect freedoms of religion and expression.

“We found key patterns. All deviate from freedom of speech principles in some way, all have a vague formulation, with different interpretations,” Joelle Fiss, the Swiss-based lead author of the report told Reuters.

The ranking is based on how a state’s ban on blasphemy or criminalising of it contravenes international law principles.

Ireland and Spain had the “best scores”, as their laws order a fine, according to the report which said many European states have blasphemy laws that are rarely invoked.

Some 86 per cent of states with blasphemy laws prescribe imprisonment for convicted offenders, it said.

Proportionality of punishment was a key criteria for the researchers.

“That is why Iran and Pakistan are the two highest countries because they explicitly have the death penalty in their law,” Fiss said, referring to their laws which enforce the death penalty for insulting the Prophet Mohammad.


After the launch of a mainstream political party by the banned organisation Jamat-ud-Dawa, the chief of another banned militant outfit Fazlur Rehman Khalil is all set to launch a new party with a name ‘Islah-e-Watan Party. He led the Harkatul Mujahideen that has been banned. 

Khalil is a Rawalpindi-based Deobandi cleric who had been tagged by US state department as “specially designated global terrorist” on September 30, 2014. A source close to him said he was in touch with many of his associates to mobilise people in order to launch his own party, and is in the final stages of finalising details of the new party.
“Khalil has taken a lead from Mr. Makki’s decision to mainstream his (banned) outfit. He believes it is about time to get back all his associates and friends who have been sidelined due to the effective ban on their movement and activities,” the source said.

It is pertinent to mention here that the activists related with JuD have recently entered the political sphere with the launching the Milli Muslim League (MML) — a new political party — on August 8 this year.

When contacted, Fazlur Rehman Khalil confirmed his intentions to launch a new political party soon.

“Yes, I have been in touch with my colleagues and followers and we have even finalized a new name for the party – Islah-e-Watan Party. For this purpose, the central Shura (executive committee) would soon meet to finalize details,” he added.

Pakistan - : A Christian girl forcefully converted to Islam after being kidnapped from her house

 Madeeha Bakhsh

A Christian girl betrothed to marry a Christian man forcefully converted to Islam after being abducted from her own house.
In keeping with details, a Christian girl identified as Nabila Bibi is yet another victim of forced conversion in Pakistan’s densely populated province Punjab. A Muslim man Allah Rakha kidnapped her from her father’s house in Changa Manga on October 16. Nabila Bibi was already engaged to Sajid Masih and was set to marry him this November.
Soon after the abduction of Nabila; her father Bashir Masih and fiancé Sajid Masih launched a complaint regarding Nabila Bibi’s abduction in the Changa Manga police station.
Shortly after the FIR was filed, a group of Muslim men arrived at Bashir Masih’s house. They told Bashir Masih that Nabila had converted to Islam after marrying a Muslim man. Moreover, Bashir Masih was shown some documents as proof of Nabila’s conversion and marriage. They told him that she was living happily in Allah Rakha’s house.
Nonetheless, after learning this, Bashir Masih, Sajid Masih and his cousins went to Allah Rakha’s house and asked him to bring Nabila out to meet them. However, Allah Rakha refused to let them meet Nabila Bibi, while a gang of about 15-20 Muslim men began threatening them in case they insisted meeting her or did not leave immediately. Despite, threatening from the Muslim men, Nabila’s family was reluctant to leave and kept insisting that Nabila be brought out to meet them. Seeing this, the Muslim men held them these Christian men captive at Allah Rakha’s house for a night.
However, the following day, the Christian men managed to flee from Allah Rakha’s house by some means. Yet their quandary was far from over, as the very next day the Muslim men went to Bashir Masih’s house and started inquiring about Sajid Masih’s whereabouts. After knowing where Nabila’s fiancé lived they left for Sajid Masih’s house. However, before they arrived at Sajid’s house, he fled from there and is still in hiding.
This is not an only case of its kind. According to a report by Aurat Foudation, every year about 1000 girls hailing from religious minorities are forcefully converted to Islam after forcibly given in marriage to Muslim men. Out of these 1000, about 700 are Christian women who fall victims to the gender based religious persecution.

Pakistani senate passed the compulsory teaching of Holy Quran bill 2017, no alternative programme has been announced for non-Muslim students

By  C.S Chand

On Friday 25th August the Pakistani senate passed the compulsory teaching of Holy Quran Bill 2017. The education minister tabled the bill which was collectively affirmed.

According to statement of Senator Maulana Attaur Rehman: Being a Muslim it is necessary for us to convey Islamic teachings to our children.
The National Assembly had just passed this bill on April nineteenth, making it mandatory for Muslim students from class 1 to 12 in every educational institutions to be taught the Holy Quran.
As indicated by the goals of the bills, it will make the divine message understood, guarantee the response of society, energize peace and tranquility, promote the preeminent human values of truth, honesty, integrity, character building, tolerance, understanding others’ point of view and way of life.

Additionally, the bill will help the state to discharge its constitutional responsibility as article 31(2) of the Constitution states that the “State shall endeavor to make the teachings of the Holy Quran and Islamiyat compulsory”.
Nasir Saeed Director CLAAS-UK said that although this is compulsory for Muslim students, no alternative programme has been announced for non-Muslim students.
He added: “Also, it will have a negative impact on the non-Muslim students and many will be forced to take it as subject, if there is no other choice.
“It will promote bigotry and hatred against non-Muslims in Pakistani society, something which is already on the rise.”
He said it is sad that instead of promoting freedom of religion and belief, the government is forcing children to study religion.

#Peshawar records highest population growth among all K-P divisions

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) Peshawar Division has an average annual growth rate of 3.99% – the highest among all divisions of the K-P – and its population has doubled since 1998, when the last census was conducted.
According to district-wise census results released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), Peshawar division – that includes district Peshawar, Nowshera, and Charsadda – has a total population of over 7.9 million as compared to 3.39 million in 1998.
Among the districts of Peshawar Division, the district Peshawar’s population has surged from 2.0 million in 1998 to 4.26 million in 2017 and it has the highest annual growth rate of 3.99%, followed by 2.94% of Nowshera whose total population is over 1.5 million. Charsadda district’s population is 1.6 million.
After Peshawar, highest annual growth of 3.7 has been recorded in Lower Dir district where population has increased from 700,000 in 1998 to 1.4 million in 2017. Interestingly, the annual growth rate in urban population has decreased by 0.49% while in rural areas the annual growth rate is 3.9%.
According to census documents, the population growth rate in rural areas of Peshawar has been recorded at 4.23% and in urban areas 3.7%. The lowest growth rate is recorded in Torghar district whose population has increased from 171,000 in 1998 to 0.174 million in 2017 with an annual growth rate of -0.10 followed by Chitral whose population increased with an annual growth rate of 1.80.
The population of Bannu Division has increased from 1.1 million in 1998 to 2.04 million in the latest census while population of DI Khan division has increased from 1.09 million to 2.01 million.
Hazara Division’s and Kohat Division’s population has increased from 3.5 million to 5.3 million, and 1.3 million to 2.2 million, respectively. The census documents show that Mardan Division’s population has surged from 2.4 million to 3.9 million, while Malakand Division’s population has increased from 4.2 million to 7.5 million. According to the census data, the districts where female population is more than the male population include Upper Dir, Lower Dir, Swat, Buner, Kohat, Karak, Hangu, Mansehra, Haripur and Battagram.
The highest transgender population of 311 individuals is recorded in Hazara Division, followed by 292 in Peshawar Division, 121 in Mardan Division, 69 in Malakand, 54 in Kohat Division, 49 in DI Khan Division, and 18 in Bannu Division.

Pakistan - Exploding population bomb

Zahid Hussain

AMIDST intense political wrangling and a show of national indignation over President Donald Trump’s threatening words, a more important issue affecting the future of this country has gone almost unheeded. The population time bomb that had long been ticking is now exploding.
While in other underdeveloped countries, the population growth rate has slowed down significantly, it is a different story in Pakistan. The latest population census has shown that Pakistan has moved up the ladder becoming the fifth most populous nation only behind India, China, the United States and Indonesia. It is an alarming situation, especially considering the extent of poverty in the country. With a staggering growth rate of 2.4 per cent per annum, the country’s population is around 208 million. That marks an increase of more than 57pc since the last population census in 1998, and is higher than what had been projected.
The real implications of the census results are lost on the squabbling politicians.
With abysmal human development indicators, this population explosion presents a most serious challenge to the socioeconomic stability and security of this country. With 60pc of the population under the age of 30 and fewer job opportunities, it is a disaster in the making. What is most worrisome is that this population explosion and its implications have drawn little attention from the political leadership that is engaged in a fierce power struggle.
Despite the gravity of the situation, the issue has hardly figured in the national discourse. It is not surprising that the decennial population count, a constitutional obligation, was delayed by almost two decades and was held only on the intervention of the apex court. Not surprisingly, the provisional results of the latest census too are being disputed. There are some questions regarding the methodology used and how the urban and rural divide is defined. It is Sindh that is up in arms over what is described by its government as a deliberate attempt to understate the population of the province. The fact that Karachi’s population is less than what estimates showed gives some credence to Sindh’s objections. Meanwhile, the population of Lahore has more than doubled in the same period of time, causing some eyebrows to be raised.
Indeed, there is some explanation to these discrepancies. While part of Karachi falls in the rural category, the Punjab government eliminated the distinction between rural and urban areas in its capital. Then there are also questions about the unexpected rise in the population of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Similarly, the higher than average national growth of the population in Balochistan has also been questioned. Some believe it is largely due to the influx of Afghans in the province and that this could alter the ethnic balance between the Baloch and Pakhtun populations. But while this may sound plausible, there is still an urgent need for coming up with all the details and findings of the census. Surely, these are political problems that have arisen after each census.
Notwithstanding the political controversies, the point that is being missed in the entire discourse is the challenge that this uncontrolled population growth poses to our society and how to defuse this exploding bomb. It just shows what little priority we attach to population planning.
Remarkably, while so many parts of the world have seen a reduction in fertility rates and population growth, Pakistan’s growth rate has increased. Pakistan’s fertility rate is among the highest in the region. Indeed, this is a scary situation. But is anyone bothered?
Interestingly, other Muslim countries like Bangladesh and Iran have successfully controlled their population; that is also reflected in their improved human development indicators. With few efforts going into family planning, there is no sign of the population growth rate coming down significantly. At this rate, Pakistan may well become the world’s fourth most populous nation by 2030, surpassing Indonesia. Not surprisingly, Pakistan is ranked 147th in the Human Development Index with close to 30pc of the population living below the poverty line. Literacy rate remains dismally low at 58pc, though many dispute even this figure as too high. With thousands of newborns added to the population each day, even this ranking on the development index would be hard to sustain.
One other alarming development is rapid urbanisation testing the fragile infrastructure of megacities. Census data shows explosive growth in urban centres since the last census. The fact that Pakistan is witnessing one of the fastest urbanisation rates is not fully reflected in the census because of the skewed definition of urban and rural areas. Hence the urban population at 36.4pc of the total population appears unrealistic.
This massive population growth is one of the factors contributing to environmental degradation. Major environmental challenges currently confronting Pakistan such as climate change, deforestation, pollution and waste management are rightly attributed to rising population density.
Pakistan, being one of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, has to bear the consequences of the increasing population. The existing environment management capacity cannot sustain such a large population if it is to provide a good quality of life.
Meanwhile, for a country confronting violent extremism, such a high population growth rate and huge youth bulge with apparently shrinking economic opportunities make it far more difficult to deal with the rising menace of militancy. There may not be a direct link between radicalisation and poverty but some studies show illiteracy as one of the major causes of youth being attracted to extremist religious groups. An illiterate and unemployed population provides readymade volunteers for militant groups of all hues.
All these problems faced by the country cannot be dealt with effectively unless the population growth is brought under control. It may be late but the situation can still be salvaged with the state taking the issue more seriously. The exploding population bomb has put the country’s future in jeopardy. But is anyone paying heed to the approaching catastrophe?

ATC to announce its verdict in Benazir Bhutto murder case on Thursday

Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) is expected to be announced its verdict of the former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto murder case on Thursday.
Legal counsel of the suspects, Jawad Khalid claimed no solid proof was presented against his clients and the conflicts was there among the investigation and a gun recovered from the crime scene.
Benazir Bhutto was martyred on 2 December 2007 during a public gathering at Liaquat Bagh, Rawalpindi’.
Anti terrorism court (ATC) started its trail in this case in February 2008 and later the PPP won the election and after forming government the case was handed over to the Federal Investigation Agency.
Former dictator and president Pervez Musharaf is also a suspect in the case who was not appear before the court in the murder of BB case.

Pakistan - Zardari’s acquittal

PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has been acquitted in the last pending reference against him by an accountability court. The development comes at a time when National Accountability Court (NAB) is set to file corruption references against ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. With general elections only a year away, the timing of the acquittal is certainly significant. PTI chief Imran Khan has already termed it a result of a deal between the ruling party and the PPP.
After Zardari’s 2015 speech against military establishment, many feared the PPP would have a hard time undergoing a revival since it had angered the establishment. But upon his return to Pakistan last year after an 18-month stay in Dubai, Zardari went into appeasement mode.
Some analysts believe Zardari now has friendlier relations with the establishment given the PPP refrained from standing with Nawaz Sharif after his disqualification the way it had been standing with him during the 2014 Islamabad sit-in by PTI and PAT demanding the former PM’s resignation.
This could mean the party has realised that the reconciliation policy is not working, especially in Punjab where several bigwigs have left the party in the last few years. It appears that the PPP is now all set to prepare for the upcoming elections and will also be ready to compromise on its ideological principles if need be.
The acquittal will certainly help the party during its election campaign as PPP leaders have always maintained that all corruption cases against Zardari were politically motivated. Having said that, Zardari and Bilawal should know the fastest way to revive PPP across the country remains efforts that can improve governance in the province that the party has been ruling for the last 8 years. Furthermore, the PPP needs to set an agenda especially for Pakistan’s young, uneducated voters if it really wants to revive it’s position as a popular national party. Brokering deals with the establishment will only dent its credibility further. We hope that the party’s young Chairman will avoid that short cut and accordingly advise his elders including his father.

Video Report - PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari held hard hitting press conference | 24 News HD

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Did Afghan minerals change Trump's mind about Afghanistan?

  • Author
     Waslat Hasrat-Nazimi
Going against his election promise, Donald Trump decided to keep US troops in Afghanistan for an indefinite period of time. To what extent is this policy change a result of Trump's interest in Afghan mineral wealth?
While presenting his much-awaited Afghanistan policy last week, US President Donald Trump said he decided against a complete withdrawal of US forces from the war-torn country purely on his "instinct." The main reason he cited for an indefinite US presence in Afghanistan was, of course, to defeat Islamist terrorists in the country, where the US has been engaged in a bloody war for 16 years. But experts say there is more to his decision than meets the eye.
According to The New York Times, Trump, who was not in favor of sending more American soldiers to Afghanistan, discussed Afghanistan's mineral deposits with President Ashraf Ghani, who "promoted mining as an economic opportunity in one of their first conversations."
"... this could be one justification for the United States to stay engaged in the country," the newspaper reported last month.
"Last week [in July], as the White House fell into an increasingly fractious debate over Afghanistan policy, three of Mr. Trump's senior aides met with a chemical executive, Michael N. Silver, to discuss the potential for extracting rare-earth minerals. Mr. Silver's firm, American Elements, specializes in these minerals, which are used in a range of high-tech products," The New York Times said.
Obviously, the extraction of Afghanistan's untapped minerals would benefit Afghanistan also. And Trump could use this economic opportunity to compensate for a costly war for his country.
Afghanistan's mineral wealth is estimated to be between $1 trillion and $3 trillion. The landlocked country has huge reserves of copper, iron, chromite, mercury, zinc, precious gems as well as gold and silver, and, most importantly, lithium and rare earth elements that are used in batteries.
Good for Afghan economy
Last week, in a speech welcoming the new US strategy, Afghan President Ghani underlined the importance for a joint US-Afghanistan economic cooperation.
"We need to end the 14-year-long Afghan conflict so that our future generations can benefit from the treasures our country possesses," Ghani said.
Ghani pointed out that Afghanistan's most disadvantaged regions are rich in natural resources and said his government would pay more attention to the mining sector.
Commenting on whether the US and Afghanistan have chalked out a plan for mineral extraction, Mir Ahmad Jawid Sadat, deputy minister of mines and petroleum, says there is no official declaration on that.
"These decisions are made by the highest officials in the Afghan government," Sadat told DW.
Sayed Ikram Afzali, executive director of the Integrity Watch Afghanistan organization, says Kabul should take a cautious approach to the mining issue.
"If the US policy on mining is beneficial for both Afghanistan and American companies, it will create more jobs in our country and boost economic growth," Afzali told DW.
"But if President Trump considers our mining sector as 'war booty' and doesn't approach it in a transparent way, it will add fuel to the fire," he said, adding that it could trigger more violence in Afghanistan and more attacks on US troops stationed in the country.
Jihadists want their share
Afghanistan's mineral deposits attracted global interest in 2007 when a report by US Geological Survey declared the country a treasure trove. However, the idea of using Afghan minerals to lift the country out of poverty and war has remained a dream.
The corruption-mired Afghan mining sector is the second-largest source of funding for the Taliban and one of the reasons behind violence in mineral-rich areas. According to a report by the United States Institute of Peace, a bulk of looted minerals is smuggled openly across the Afghan border through government checkpoints.
"If the US starts getting mining contracts in Afghanistan, the Taliban will use it for their propaganda. Islamists will use it as proof that Western countries are in Afghanistan only to plunder its wealth. Moreover, they will not give up on their funding source without a fight," Stephen Carter, the Afghanistan campaign leader for the Global Witness organization, told DW.
Apart from the Taliban and "Islamic State" (IS) jihadists, the Afghan warlords also want their share in the mineral wealth.
"We have tried to prevent armed groups from illegally mining our natural resources," said deputy mines and petroleum minister Sadat.
Carter believes a lack of security is not the only obstacle to US-Afghanistan mining cooperation.
"Corruption in Afghanistan undermines the effectiveness of Afghan forces and the legitimacy of the Afghan government. It is a big impediment to any realistic path to stability," he told DW.
"If President Trump wants to change things around in Afghanistan, there needs to be a radical change in the way Washington and Kabul approach governance issues. They need to be given the same importance as military strategies," Carter added.
Despite many difficulties and hurdles, economic experts say the mining sector can help boost the country's economy. But with large-scale corruption across ministries and government sectors, it will not be easy for either Ghani or Trump to tap these resources. A few thousand extra US troops will not be able to change the situation.

Is Pakistan Willing to Lose America?


For the past 16 years, whenever the United States has been faced with the reality of a failing war in Afghanistan, it has blamed Pakistan. Efforts to bring freedom to the valleys of Afghanistan, this narrative claims, have been thwarted by a double-dealing “ally” that takes American aid while supporting its enemies.
The narrative inadvertently casts American presidents, generals, diplomats, spies and others who have been part of the war effort as credulous dupes and casts poor light on the American military, stuck in a quagmire despite having the world’s most advanced weapons and largest financial resources. It also assumes that Pakistan has a clear interest in harming both the United States and Afghanistan.
Those assumptions are wrong.
Pakistan joined President George W. Bush’s war on terrorism reluctantly but proved itself an effective ally in the fight against Al Qaeda and helped decimate its ranks. That contribution was sullied by Pakistan’s failure to locate Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.
After the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States established a partnership with Pakistan over a decade and a half — handing out substantial amounts of aid, sophisticated weapons and the status of major non-NATO ally. Pakistan continues to require American military hardware, and middle-class Pakistani children continue to dream of attending American universities and of working on Wall Street. The United States is the biggest market for Pakistani exports, and Pakistani-Americans form its seventh-largest diaspora group.
China’s rising global status, and its explicit push for regional influence, has reduced Pakistan’s dependence on the United States, but the rumors of the demise of America’s importance in Pakistan are greatly exaggerated.
Despite these factors, neither the United States nor Pakistan has gained all that it would like from the relationship. Pakistan has not been able to convince the United States of the validity of its primary interest in Afghanistan — preventing it from becoming a “proxy for India” and stemming fears of “encirclement” in Pakistan despite India’s proclamations of merely offering economic assistance to Afghanistan.
Afghanistan’s leaders have recently taken to brazenly welcoming an ever-increasing Indian footprint in Kabul and beyond. Pakistani hawks used to be merely suspicious of collusion between the most anti-Pakistan Afghans and the Indian establishment. In the past two years, that suspicion has turned into conviction.
For its part, the United States has failed to convince Pakistan of the urgency of its primary interest in Afghanistan — shutting down the Haqqani network, the principal planner and executor of the most lethal terrorist attacks in Afghanistan over the past decade. Pakistanis have hemmed and hawed, offering up low-level Haqqani operatives and occasionally trimming the space available to them.
And the Haqqanis have evolved from a relatively minor player in the Taliban world to being the dominant operational group. The United States doesn’t believe that the rise of the Haqqanis was possible without support from Pakistan.
Neither Pakistan nor the United States has been able to convince the Taliban to negotiate in good faith for a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan — the one supposed issue on which there is a complete convergence between the two countries.
The torturous United States-Pakistan relationship has seen several dramatic lows. It is only the American grievances that have been registered; the humiliations seem reserved for Pakistan. Everyone remembers the killing of Bin Laden in 2011 and the subsequent embarrassment of Pakistan. Few recall the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers on the border with Afghanistan by American forces later that year.
American military leaders have publicly heaped scorn on Pakistan. But American spies have killed ordinary people on the streets of Pakistani cities, while the United States government has dissembled about their status. American officials who have appealed for a more nuanced understanding of the country have been forced out of their jobs and even investigated by federal agents. Pakistan is hardly innocent of its own failures. Terrorists facing sanctions from the United Nations freely cross borders to attack neighboring countries without any fear of being intercepted, and some even appear on television, conferred with a respect most politicians would crave. Pakistan has a damning ability to behave in ways that has often left even its friends shaking their heads in disbelief.
President Trump’s threats and his unpredictability have filled Pakistan with anxiety about what may be coming despite a difficult history. American drones have already dropped tons of ordnance; Navy SEALs have already dropped in to assassinate terrorists; American military and civilian assistance has already dropped to a trickle of what it was. And the trust between Pakistani generals and American commanders in Afghanistan is already at a historical low.
President Trump’s speech has only aggravated the concerns that motivate Pakistan’s behavior in Afghanistan. Mr. Trump’s call for greater Indian involvement in Afghanistan has stoked the fire that burns deepest in Pakistan. On this, it is not the Pakistanis who are irrational but those who attempt to minimize Pakistan’s concerns. Pakistan would not risk the wrath of the United States if its concerns were imaginary. Pakistan’s willingness to lose American patronage is the clearest indicator that its interests in Afghanistan are not a product of ambition, or grandeur, but of deep and existential fears about the damage an unchecked India can do to Pakistan.
Until Americans learn how to have an honest conversation with India about what Pakistan sees as its proxy warfare in Afghanistan and its brutal occupation of Kashmir, no amount of threats to Pakistan will help. Countries can be weaned from many things, but not from protecting themselves. Pakistan is definitely a problem in Afghanistan, but it is a problem of America’s making.

Bilawal Bhutto hails reopening of Women Crisis Centers in KPK by apex court

Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has hailed the Supreme Court of Pakistan verdict directing Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government to reopen the four Women Crisis Centers shut down by the provincial government previously.
In a statement, the PPP Chairman said depriving the women of their rights and deserved facilities was the sign best described as the worst example of governance by the apex court for KPK government.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that from casting their votes to.representation in the elected bodies, the women of KPK provinces are the worst victims at the hands of political parties governing the
province. “It is time that women of KPK province rise up for snatching their due rights back and the PPP shall always stand for their emancipation and well-being,” he added.
PPP Chairman asked the KPK government to reopen the four closed Women Crisis Centers without any further delay stressing that any option for further litigation on the issue would be resisted.
It may be recalled that a three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Dost Muhammad Khan, upheld the Peshawar High Court’s (PHC) verdict and discarded the KP government’s appeal against reopening of the Women Crisis Centers.
The KP government had appealed to the apex court against the PHC order. The PHC had given the order after women
working in the centres had petitioned for the centres’ reopening.

Pakistan - Mismanagement of Rs3.12 Trillion

It is no secret that the organs of the Pakistani state are plagued with corruption and the pursuance of personal interest over the interest of the state is prevalent. During every fiscal year, the work and inflow of cash in federal ministries is audited. There are a total of 40 ministries and out of those, some are randomly selected and their work is monitored. For the year 2016-17, 36 ministries were selected for the process; and out of this “selective” audit the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) discovered that around Rs3.12 trillion of public money has been mismanaged – imagine what number would emerge if all the ministries were completely audited.
Rs 3.12 trillion are a huge sum to just be casually ignored. For the longest time, the government in power has been trying to convince people of the increment in economic prosperity and the increase in revenue collection, but it is hard for them to make a case for it – even if we buy their initial assertions – when it is being spent in such a mismanaged manner
This is not just bad bookkeeping practices, but criminal violations of financial regulations in several cases. 123 cases have been highlighted where Rs876 billion were lost due to irregular expenditure and violation of rules. Rs1.9 trillion has been lost due to weak financial management. 52 cases point out that unsound asset management has resulted in a loss of Rs9.5 billion. Rs1.5 trillion are gone because of weak internal financial control, and Rs730 billion due to overpayments.
The Finance Ministry has not been able to reconcile expenditure since June and the amount is around Rs656 billion. The ministry has been using supplementary grants to have access to more money, despite knowing that supplementary grants can and should only be used in cases of extreme emergency. Even if they do decide to utilise that money, it should be brought to the parliament; which is conveniently ignore. More than 76 percent (Rs838 billion) of all supplementary grants have not been approved by the parliament. It is quite obvious that for such a large scale activity to take place, a lot of key players are involved. And when the people at the top (in this case they are the heads of government spending and Accountant General of Pakistan Revenue (AGPR) do not impose financial control, the rest can siphon off funds.
Irreconcilable audits are not meant to just alarm us – they require that action be taken against offenders and procedures tightened. The government’s promise of economic prosperity will never be realised or believed if the federal ministries are a leaking ship where revenue disappears into an unaccounted void.

Pakistan’s population growth is a ticking time bomb: Joanna Reid

Benazir Shah

The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID) has been working in Pakistan for the last 57 years, in areas of education, poverty alleviation, women’s rights and health, amongst other things. 
We spoke to Joanna Reid, the head of DfID Pakistan, about the country’s most urgent needs and the challenges international aid workers face. 
Benazir Shah: Pakistan is one of the largest recipients of the United Kingdom’s development investment. Could you tell us why?
Joanna Reid: Over the years, Pakistan has grown to become DfID's biggest overseas program. Now, there are two reasons for this; one is that the need is enormous. Over 60 million people in Pakistan live in poverty. Which means that one in three people live on 80 pence (Rs. 108) a day. One in 11 children die before their fifth birthday and 44 percent of children in the country are stunted. Those are pretty stark figures. Also, there is now an opportunity for change. Pakistan's people want change. Our aid is working and we can see its impact.
Shah: What is the DfID's commitment to Pakistan this year?
Reid: The Department for International Development is a United Kingdom government department responsible for administering overseas aid. In 2017, we have committed 370 million pounds for Pakistan.
Shah: Has this budget allocation increased over the years?
Reid: It has increased. Our relationship with the country is extremely strong. We have had a long development partnership. What you see today is a virtuous circle of programs that continue to be more effective. This is primarily why we are bringing more money to the table. But ultimately, it should decrease because Pakistan should not be, and is not currently, dependent on overseas aid. We should help that transition so that Pakistan is able to and willing to pay for its own basic services.
Shah: One the focus areas listed on DfID's website is "strengthening democracy and governance in Pakistan." How is the organisation facilitating democracy?
Reid: Now that means a number of different things. But our program is about the system and the processes. We work to ensure that the elections, for example, are free and fair and seen by the outside world to be free and fair. That is very important for Pakistan and its place in the international community. For us, it also means that everyone gets the chance to vote. Women and disabled people are registered and are provided with the opportunity to cast their ballots. Everyone should have a say in how his or her country works.
Shah: How do political happenings in Pakistan impact aid work?
Reid: The UK has been a friend of Pakistan for many years. Over time, we have seen many political changes. Some of the changes happening right now are a matter for Pakistan and the Pakistani people. The DfID works with institutions, to build their capacity. We watch the processes but it is not for us to comment on.
Shah: DfID is assisting education programs in both Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Which of the two provinces has performed better in the last four years?
Reid: Both programs are sort of mirrors of each other. They are very similar. What we are doing in the two provinces, is building systems. We have moved beyond just getting children enrolled in schools. Now we must make sure that the children and their children’s children also have access to schooling. It is no longer about building classrooms. DfID is helping departments that are going to build the schools that provide quality education. We have to answer these questions: How long will these children be in school for? Will they actually be able to do something with their learning? Can they read? Can they write?
Shah: According to a media report, in April, DfID slashed the funding for school construction and rehabilitation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Reid: I understand that such kind of things always makes for good headlines, don’t they? It is not about slashing budgets. It is about working with the people and the concerned departments to see what is possible in a time period. We need to understand how many schools can be built in a certain time period. The money is then adjusted accordingly.
Shah: Coming to your family planning initiative. At a recent summit hosted by the British government, Pakistan made strong commitments to providing better family planning services. Our minister of health, recently said that population growth in the country is a bigger concern than terrorism. Would you agree?

Reid: Absolutely. It is a time bomb. The population growth is of extreme concern to Pakistan. We are going to be getting the consensus result fairly soon. That should tell us exactly how big the population is. But we also know that Pakistan cannot sustain the kind of population growth that it has at the moment. It is a time bomb in terms of future employment, resources and food. Family planning is extremely important to help people choose. Family planning is also a woman’s rights. There is a very strong economic argument that if you have productive women - therefore the families are smaller, the spacing between children is better - then there will be more money to go around in that family.
Shah: What is the current percentage of contraceptive used in Pakistan?
Reid: That is what we call the contraceptive prevalence rate. Around 35 to 40 percent of people here have access to contraceptives. But for a country the size of Pakistan, getting to 50 percent means at least seven to eight million more women need to be provided access. That is a lot of people. Again, there are two aspects to this; part of it is about working with the health department and making sure that through the public health system women are able to access family planning services. This means that basic health units are open 24 hours to give advice, so if a woman does not want to get pregnant too quickly she has options available. The other thing we support is social marketing. It is fascinating how in the hardest to reach areas you can still find a sachet of shampoo and a soft drink. These kinds of small stores can pop up anywhere. That is good marketing. So we need to get on the back of this kind of marketing. This way we can get more condoms and pills out there.
Shah: There must be some resistance to the initiative?
Reid: That is a good point. It is not just about making sure that supplies are readily available, we must also ensure that appropriate advice is also being provided. So the shopkeeper can provide some advice when needed on the products they are selling because people are worried about using them. They don’t know what the health risks are or how they work, or if they do at all. We have worked with religious leaders to assure people that it is okay, it is allowed and family planning is a good thing.
Shah: The Punjab government recently rolled out a family planning advertising campaign on the TV and print media that enlisted the help of religious leaders.
Reid: The movement is all across Pakistan, not just Punjab. Everyone is coming together to say this is a big issue and we need to do something about it. Part of that is public messaging and getting important figures onboard. But we must remember that even if you do an effective campaign, it is important for a woman to know that she can go and buy the needed supplies without resistance.