Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Video - Coolies: How Britain Re-Invented Slavery

Video Report - Panel on Protests in Streets After Trump's Angry, Divisive Speech. #Breaking #POTUS

Video Report - Panel Discuss Trump Delivers Angry, Divisive Speech in Phoenix

Video - Trevor Noah Mocks Donald Trump for Staring at Eclipse

Video - Making Sense of Trump's Afghanistan War Strategy: The Daily Show


The United States warned an angry Pakistan on Tuesday that it could lose its status as a privileged military ally if it continues giving safe haven to Afghan militant groups. One day after President Donald Trump unveiled a new strategy to force the Taliban to negotiate a political settlement with the Kabul government, his top diplomat upped the heat on Islamabad.

Trump had warned that Pakistan's alleged support for the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani extremist network would have consequences, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has now spelled these out.
“We have some leverage,” Tillerson told reporters, as he fleshed out Trump's speech, “in terms of aid, their status as a non-Nato alliance partner — all of that can be put on the table”.
As one of 16 “Non-Nato Major Allies”, Pakistan benefits from billions of dollars in aid and has access to some advanced US military technology banned from other countries.
This year, the US has already withheld $350 million in military funding over concerns Pakistan is not doing enough to fight terror, but the alliance itself was not in question.
Tillerson said Washington wants to work with Pakistan as it expands its own support for Kabul in the battle against the Taliban, but warned it to close alleged militant safe havens.
Some of Pakistan's critics in Washington have urged Trump to go further, by authorising US strikes against militants inside Pakistan or declaring Pakistan a “state sponsor of terror”. Officials have not yet brandished the designation threat, which could lead to severe sanctions and legal threats to Pakistani officials, but Tillerson did not rule out strikes.
The US has hit targets within Pakistan before, most famously when Trump's predecessor Barack Obama ordered US special forces to kill Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.
“The president has been clear that we are going to attack terrorists wherever they live,” Tillerson said.
“We have put people on notice that if you're providing safe haven to terrorists, be warned — we are going to engage those providing safe haven and ask them to change what they are doing.”
And Tillerson added that, aside from the Afghans, Pakistan has more to gain “than any other nation” from an end to the fighting.
Both Tillerson and Trump also called on Pakistan's long-standing rival and fellow nuclear power India to become more involved in Afghanistan, an idea that is anathema to Islamabad.
Beyond the stand-off with Pakistan, Trump's new strategy also authorises US generals to deploy more American troops to support Afghan government forces in what is now a 16-year-old conflict.

#Peshawar - Fighting Dengue Together

Peshawar and its adjacent districts are being affected by a serious dengue outbreak – Since July over 5000 people have tested positive for the virus and several deaths have been reported in the last few weeks. Different agencies quote different numbers of the people affected, but all estimates confirm that these are not isolated cases, but a concerning epidemic that needs to be tackled proactively by the state.
However, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government has been slow to respond to this threat. It has taken protests by the affected residents of Tehkal and criticism from federal health institutions forced it into action. Finally on Friday, KP Health Minister Shehram Khan Tarakai ordered provision of free test facilities at public-sector hospitals for diagnosing dengue fever. This was followed by Punjab healthcare experts leaving for Peshawar to help their counterparts to control the spread of dengue fever and update the knowledge of physicians there regarding management of patients suffering from the disease, as well as a federal compensation package for the victims.
Despite the anti-dengue campaign having begun an earnest, the focus seems to linger on KP’s slow response and Punjab’s “timely” offer to send their experts to help. There is a time for KP’s healthcare set up to be examined – but now is not that time. Political point scoring and party lines must be set aside so that the authorities can work together to prevent the virus form spreading further. This might seem like an obvious statement, but provinces have failed to cooperate over healthcare before; Sindh has refused help from Punjabi healthcare officials before.
Punjab has suffered from a serious outbreak before and it has managed to considerably combat with help from other jurisdictions. Punjab and KP must coordinate with the center to tackle this threat.

Arsenic in Pakistan groundwater ‘alarmingly high’: study

Levels of arsenic in the groundwater of eastern Pakistan are “alarmingly high” and pose a significant health hazard to tens of millions of people who drink the water, researchers said on Wednesday.
The study in the journal Science Advances is the first to create a comprehensive map of arsenic in the groundwater across Pakistan, and follows earlier, smaller studies that showed high arsenic levels in some places.
Groundwater samples were taken from nearly 1,200 sites throughout the country, and researchers used a model to project the likelihood of increased arsenic concentrations for all of Pakistan.
Areas in eastern Punjab — which includes Lahore — and around Hyderabad were especially likely to have groundwater that exposes large numbers of people to arsenic contamination.
Many parts of the densely populated plains along the Indus River and its tributaries showed arsenic concentrations in groundwater were higher than the World Health Organization guideline of 10 micrograms per liter, said the report.
“Very high concentrations, above 200 micrograms/liter, are found mainly in the south,” it warned.
Overall, 50 to 60 million people use groundwater which very likely contains more than 50 micrograms per liter, or five times higher than WHO guidelines.
“This is an alarmingly high number, which demonstrates the urgent need to test all drinking water wells in the Indus Plain,” said lead author Joel Podgorski, a geophysicist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag).
People who regularly drink water with high concentrations of arsenic face a higher risk of lung cancer, heart disease and skin disorders.
Researchers are not sure why the arsenic in Pakistan is so high, but one hypothesis is that heavy irrigation could be boosting the arsenic level in groundwater.
Rice, wheat, cotton and sugar cane are heavily farmed in the area.
Podgorski said more water from wells in high-risk areas must be tested, because concentrations of arsenic can vary widely in small areas.
Also, more testing is needed because local aquifer conditions cannot be predicted sufficiently accurately by modeling.
If the suspected link to irrigation practices in confirmed, new techniques would need to replace current practices.

Bilawal directs for relief to rain-affected people in Karachi

Chairman of Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Wednesday expressed deep grief and sorrow over losses of human lives in Karachi during two-day heavy rains and asked concerned authorities to provide relief to the people without any delay.
In a statement issued here, the PPP chairman said that deaths of innocent people in rain-related incidents in the provincial capital have saddened him and the fellow citizens.
On Tuesday night, a fresh spell of torrential rainfall lashed the metropolis leaving at least five people dead and bringing the total death toll in rain-related incidents to 13 since Monday.
"Steps should be taken to prevent and avert such incidents in future while war-footing basis engagements should be carried out to drain away stagnant water from the city’s low-lying areas," he added.
Bilawal said that both the provincial and local governments should work in coordination to minimise negative impacts of heavy downpour in the city and other areas of the province.

Pakistan - Asif Zardari never accepted US pressure

Reacting to policy statement of the US President on Afghanistan, PPP-P President Asif Ali Zardari yesterday said that the US President had better fight in Afghanistan if he really wanted to fight against terrorism.

Addressing a meeting of party workers at Bilawal House here, Zardari warned the American President stating that he (Trump) should know that he was dealing with Pakistan and not Afghanistan. “Don’t threat us, Mr Trump. We are Pakistanis and Muslims”, he cautioned, adding if America wanted to keep count of his financial assistance to Pakistan, it would lose count when it came to counting the sacrifices rendered by Pakistan in the war against terrorism.
“The sacrifices of Pakistanis are far greater than those of the Americans,” he added. Zardari said he felt the pain of Pakistan and that is why he remained awake till late at night to listen to the policy statement of Donald Trump.
The PPP chief also came down hard on the ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif whom he called a friend of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Nawaz did not appoint any lobbyist in America due to his friendship with Modi,” he said. On Trump’s statement, Zardari said: “Whatever Nawaz Sharif wanted him (Trump) to state he said that”. Zardari further said: “We have to save Pakistan with diplomacy and political sagacity”. He said that the political conduct of Nawaz Sharif was not such that he could complete his five-year term. He, however, added that even a bad democracy was better than dictatorship. He said that he saved Nawaz government in 2014 for the sake of democracy.
Also, speaking on the occasion, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that Asif Zardari never accepted US pressure during his presidential tenure. “He (Zardari) was the one who got vacated the Salala Air base from the Americans. “It is only the PPP which can go eye ball to eye ball with the American President”, Bilawal remarked.
Earlier, talking about NA-120 by-election, Zardari said that it was the election of PPP and its workers and not of Faisal Mir alone. He asked party’s Lahore office-bearers to join the election campaign of PPP candidate from NA-120. Meanwhile, leaders of PPP South Punjab office-bearers and workers called on PPPP President Asif Ali Zardari and Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at Bilawal House Lahore.
Those who called on with the two leaders included former Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza, Gilani, former Governor Punjab and President PPP South Punjab Makhdoom Ahmed Mehmood, Ms. Natasha Doultana and other office-bearers from South Punjab.
Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and Makhdoom Ahmed Mehmood apprised the party leadership of the preparations for the visit of South Punjab by the PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. On this occasion, Asif Ali Zardari said that the current government had exploited South Punjab and farmers were suffering from faulty policy of the current government. He said that the Nawaz government had targeted farmers and South Punjab.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari instructed office-bearers to strengthen party in the region and work hard for party’s success in the next elections.
He said that he will visit every City and district of South Punjab and will meet people and party workers.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

India - United against triple talaq, divided on legal points

Krishnadas Rajagopal
While Chief Justice wanted to invoke Article 142 and seek legislation to end the practice, the majority verdict set it aside as ‘manifestly arbitrary’
Though he declared instant talaq a fundamental right, Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar on Tuesday employed the Supreme Court’s rare and extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 142 to injunct Muslim husbands from divorcing their wives for the next six months through the same instant talaq.
The issue of Chief Justice Khehar employing Article 142 was raised by another judge on the Bench. “I have serious doubts as to whether, even under Article 142, the exercise of a fundamental right can be injuncted,” Justice Kurian observed.
Chief Justice Khehar issued the direction under Article 142 after observing that even theocratic Islamic States had corrected their Shariat to banish instant talaq.
In other countries
“When the British rulers in India provided succour to Muslims by legislation, and when remedial measures have been adopted by the Muslim world, we find no reason, for an independent India, to lag behind. Measures have been adopted for other religious denominations even in India, but not for Muslims. We would, therefore, implore the legislature, to bestow its thoughtful consideration, to this issue of paramount importance,” Chief Justice Khehar observed.
Moreover, the Chief Justice, who wrote the minority judgment for himself and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer, directed the government to frame a law to address the issue of Muslim women under the yoke of triple talaq, especially instant talaq. The minority verdict said social evils such as sati, infanticide and devadasi system were cast out by way of legislation and not by judicial orders.
However, the direction under Article 142 in the minority verdict failed to come alive as the majority of the judges on the Bench set aside instant talaq with immediate effect.
Gender equality
India is committed to gender equality and eradication of discrimination on the basis of sex, the minority verdict said. “We have not the least doubt, that the Indian state is committed to gender equality. This is the clear mandate of Article 14 (equality before law) of the Constitution. India is also committed to eradicate discrimination on the ground of sex. Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution, prohibit any kind of discrimination on the basis of sex.”
“There is, therefore, no reason or necessity while examining the issue of ‘talaq-e-biddat’, to fall back upon international conventions.”

How Pakistan fits into Trump’s Afghan plans

By Kathy Gannon
In announcing his strategy for Afghanistan, U.S. President Donald Trump lashed out at neighboring Pakistan, an ostensible U.S. ally, ordering it to stop giving sanctuary to “agents of chaos, violence and terror.”
His predecessors have aired similar complaints, and U.S. officials and analysts have long accused Pakistan of playing a double-game with Islamic extremists -- supporting those that threaten its rivals in India and Afghanistan while cracking down on those who target its own citizens.
Pakistan has been at war with the Pakistani Taliban and homegrown extremists for years, but it has long tolerated the Afghan Taliban and the allied Haqqani network, which are battling U.S. troops in neighboring Afghanistan.
Pakistan has also struggled to combat other forms of extremism. Blasphemy against Islam is punishable by death and has been known to incite mob lynchings. Around 1,000 women are murdered each year in so-called honor killings, and attacks on Shiites and other religious minorities are on the rise.
How did the U.S. come to ally itself with Pakistan, and where do they go from here? The AP explains.
The U.S. backed Pakistan during the Cold War, and in the 1980s the CIA used it as a staging area for efforts to aid the Afghan Mujahedeen, who were then fighting to drive out Soviet troops. At the time, the U.S. viewed the Mujahedeen and Pakistan’s president, Gen. Zia-ul Haq — a military dictator who promoted a harsh version of Islam — as allies. The U.S. renewed the alliance after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, as Pakistan again emerged as a key staging ground and supply route in the war to overthrow the Taliban and eliminate al-Qaida. The U.S. has since given Pakistan billions of dollars in military aid.
Since the days of Zia and the Mujahideen, Pakistan’s security apparatus has supported or turned a blind eye to extremist groups in Afghanistan and the disputed Kashmir region, viewing them as a weapon against India, its main rival.
Pakistan has long feared that Afghanistan would ally with India against it, and sees the Taliban as the best tool for thwarting such an alliance. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were the only three countries to recognize the Taliban when they ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s.
That approach became increasingly problematic as the U.S. waged its war on terror. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency is widely believed to maintain close ties to the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network. Their leaders live relatively freely in Pakistan -- as long as they aren’t seen as acting against Islamabad’s political interests. The ISI has long said it has limited influence over such groups, and uses it to pursue regional stability.
Al-Qaida’s top leaders, Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri, also found refuge in Pakistan after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, but they went into hiding. Whether Pakistan was ever able or willing to track them down remains the subject of heated debate. U.S.-Pakistan tensions came to a head in 2011 when American commandos killed Bin Laden in a secret raid in Abbottabad, just a few miles away from one of Pakistan’s premier military academies. Pakistan once again insisted it had no idea about his whereabouts, and expressed anger over the U.S. carrying out the raid without giving it prior notice. Shortly after the raid, Pakistan arrested a local doctor accused of running a fake vaccination program in order to gather DNA from Bin Laden, which he then allegedly passed on to the CIA. Pakistan has refused U.S. demands to release the man.
Relations remained chilly in the following years, as the U.S. repeatedly pushed Pakistan to do more to eliminate militant sanctuaries and trimmed military aid when it did not.
But Pakistan remains a major player in Afghanistan, and will need to be on board if Trump hopes to end America’s longest war. Pakistan has used its close ties to the Taliban to bring them to the peace table in the past and could do so again, but it will want to preserve its own interests, which appear to be in conflict with the U.S.-backed Afghan government.

Donald Trump will own the Afghan war in victory, his generals will in defeat

In the first major policy address on Afghanistan during his presidency Donald Trump said that he was ready to send more US troops to the country. Here are five takeaways from President Trump's speech.
Reversal of earlier stance on Afghanistan
The most significant aspect of President Trump's speech on Afghanistanwas that it marked a U-turn in the president's thinking on the US involvement in the war in Afghanistan. At the outset of his remarks Trump said that he usually trusts his instincts, and that his instinct on Afghanistan was to get out.
But then he appealed to credibility, saying that "once he became president and studied the issues more carefully with the generals he began to think differently," according to Jennifer Mercieca, a presidential rhetoric scholar at Texas A&M University. "Usually we trust speakers who we believe are knowledgeable and have good intentions - Trump made appeals to both."
In the past Trump had repeatedly criticized the US war effort in Afghanistan. He had called for an end to US involvement there and for Washington to focus on rebuilding at home instead.
Now, by not just reversing his decision to withdraw from the country, but by signing off on an unspecified increase of troops to try to pacify it, President Trump has put his personal imprint on the 16-year war effort. Currently, there are more than 8,000 US troops deployed in Afghanistan.  
Tough rhetoric, few specifics
"For a major policy address, the speech was painfully short of any real specifics about American strategy or end goals in Afghanistan," said Jason Lyall, a political scientist at Yale University with a focus on Afghanistan who also serves as director of Yale's Political Violence Fieldlab. "We never received any clear criteria for 'success,' nor a sense of what was new in this approach that hasn't been tried before. In that regard, I thought the speech was quite poor."
While Trump's remarks lacked tangible measures or figures such as troop levels, he did pepper his speech with tough-sounding rhetoric, saying that the US would now "fight to win," and calling terrorists "thugs" and "losers." But beyond those words and the promise to give commanders on the ground more freedom to make decisions on the spot and go after the enemy, the speech did not offer specifics on the precise path to victory.
For Mercieca, the Trump speech sounded at times almost Obama-esque - with one key difference: "Where he differed is in his claim that the US will no longer dictate the terms of our help - he essentially announced the end of the Wilson Doctrine that we would engage in war to help spread democracy and capitalism."  
Greater role for Pakistan and India, no mention of Russia and Iran
President Trump's Afghanistan strategy foresees an expanded role for both Pakistan and India. But while the president simply asked India to provide economic assistance, Pakistan received much harsher treatment. Trump did call Pakistan a partner of the US in his remarks, but he also accused the country of harboring people who want to kill Americans and said that this would have to stop immediately or the US would have to act militarily.
But beyond those rather general demands vis-à-vis India, and beyond the general threats against Pakistan, Trump's remarks again lacked details of what this would practically mean for the two countries.   
While Trump focused on India and Pakistan, "there was no mention at all of the growing roles played by Russia and Iran in Afghanistan and, in particular, in supporting the Taliban," said Yale's Lyall. "The war has changed considerably in the past several years; it has widened geographically to bring in other powers besides Pakistan. I don't think the speech reflected this new reality.”
Trump as presidential orator
Considering that Trump tends to shy away from deliberative policy addresses and prefers to be speaking off-the cuff at political campaign rallies (like the one scheduled on Tuesday in Arizona) rather than at official events, "I think this went well for him," said Texas A&M's Mercieca. He read his script from the teleprompter with little embellishment and did not deviate.
"The opening section of the speech made similar claims about American servicemen as Lincoln did at Gettysburg, he appealed to national values like democracy and freedom, and asked Americans to love and trust one another - appealing to national transcendent values," said Mercieca. "He needed to do that, he should have done that last week," she said, in reference to the far-right protests and violence in Charlottesville. 
Mercieca does not believe that this will make Americans more supportive of the war in Afghanistan, but she notes that this probably wasn't Trump's aim. "He did a fair job of saving face for himself about why he was pursuing the war, despite what he had previously said about it."
So what does all of this mean now?
Before the speech, there was much talk about whether Trump, after giving his address and deciding on a new strategy for Afghanistan, would then "own" the war effort in Afghanistan. But that notion was wrong to begin with, in Mercieca's view:
"As President of the United States Trump has always owned the Afghan war effort, whether he wanted to or not. This speech means that Trump has responsibility over the specific decision to escalate the war if that is what he will do."
With his Afghanistan address, the president wants to have his cake and eat it too, said Lyall:  "On the one hand, it's clear he's following his generals' advice, and so is able to wash his hands of the war in case this effort fails. On the other hand, he has positioned himself to reap the rewards in the unlikely event that this strategy does in fact turn Afghanistan around," he said. "Trump wants to own the war, but only if he wins it. If not, his generals will own the defeat."

Pakistan terrorism crackdown 'necessary' to Trump's Afghanistan strategy

Threats of pressure to get Islamabad on board with defeating the Afghan Taliban mark a potential break from the softer approach adopted under Bush and Obama.
President Donald Trump's announcement Monday that he would extend the U.S. military role in Afghanistan was accompanied by tough warnings to Pakistan – a country that U.S. officials have long viewed as a duplicitous, unreliable partner whose cooperation is nonetheless crucial to defeating the Afghan Taliban.
Trump accused Pakistan of “housing the very terrorists that we are fighting,” and threatened to cut financial aid if the country doesn’t do more to stop the flow of militants. Trump even appealed to Pakistan’s chief nemesis, India, to step up its involvement in Afghanistan’s economy and broader development.
“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond,” the Republican president said. “Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists.” Trump’s comments signal a potential break from efforts by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who, despite intense and often-voiced frustration with Islamabad, preferred to use money and diplomacy to push Pakistan to stop giving Afghan Taliban militants support and sanctuary. The speech reflected the Trump administration’s preference for the stick over the carrot. Cracking down on Pakistan was “one of the necessary changes in U.S. policy” if the latest strategy for Afghanistan is going to succeed, a senior White House aide said.
The Pakistani embassy declined to offer immediate comment.
As they reviewed their South Asia strategy over the past several months, Trump aides split into two, somewhat overlapping camps on Pakistan, according to sources with knowledge of the talks. Both groups agreed it was time to raise the pressure on Islamabad but differed in how far to go.
One group pushed measures such as cutting off all U.S. military aid and revoking Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO ally. The other camp argued for more incremental steps to avoid losing Islamabad’s cooperation entirely and sparking more violence by Pakistan-backed militant groups. Trump leaned more toward the more hardline camp, as did CIA director Mike Pompeo, according to a person familiar with the issue. Trump wanted to cut off all military aid to Pakistan, questioning whether the billions spent there had gained the United States anything, this person added. But several of Trump’s top aides, including Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, preferred a softer approach to the nuclear-armed country of 195 million. The Pentagon was especially worried about keeping U.S. access to Pakistani transportation corridors need to supply troops in Afghanistan, although the U.S. has developed alternative supply lines over the years.
“Pakistan has suffered greatly from terrorism and can be an important partner in our shared goals of peace and stability in the region,” Tillerson said in a statement sent out shortly after Trump spoke. “We look to Pakistan to take decisive action against militant groups based in Pakistan that are a threat to the region.”
Tillerson also added: “India will be an important partner in the effort to ensure peace and stability in the region, and we welcome its role in supporting Afghanistan’s political and economic modernization.” In his Fort Myer remarks, Trump hinted that Pakistan would see changes in how much money it gets from the United States, though he did not offer specifics.
“We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we have been fighting,” Trump said. “That will have to change and that will change immediately.”
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the United States has showered Pakistan with more than $30 billion in military and economic aid to gain its undivided loyalty in the effort to bring peace to Afghanistan. That yielded little fruit. The Taliban by some estimates now control 40 percent of Afghanistan, and Islamic State terrorists also have made inroads there.
Militants fighting in Afghanistan can still find safe havens just across the border in Pakistan’s tribal regions. Afghan Taliban leaders, as well as some Al-Qaeda leaders, are believed to operate in Pakistani cities such as Karachi. Pakistan also was where Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden spent his final years until a U.S. raid killed him in the city of Abbottabad in 2011 – an episode that deeply soured U.S.-Pakistani relations.
U.S. officials accuse Pakistan’s powerful military and intelligence apparatus of retaining ties to Afghan Taliban groups, including the deadly Haqqani network. Analysts say Islamabad believes that by keeping Afghanistan weak and unstable it can use the country as a staging ground in case of a future conflict with New Delhi. Pakistan and India, which also has nuclear weapons, have fought three major wars since 1947.
“Pakistan’s spoiling power in Afghanistan is really unlimited,” said Moeed Yusuf, a South Asia expert with the U.S. Institute of Peace. “They could make a mess of things much more so than they have now.”
The U.S. has long tried to avoid getting involved in resolving the decades-old Pakistan-India dispute over the Kashmir region and related subjects, and Trump’s speech offered no hint that would change. But his appeal for India to play a greater role in Afghanistan is not likely to play well in Pakistan, which fears the possibility of a future alliance between Afghanistan and India.
“We simultaneously want to work with the Indians and use our improved relationship with them in some tangible way, but we can’t encourage India to be more active in Afghanistan without playing to some of Pakistan’s worst instincts,” said Daniel Markey, a Pakistan expert at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.
Pakistan denies double-dealing. It points to its fight against armed groups on its own soil, including what’s known as thePakistani Taliban, as evidence of its anti-terrorist credentials. Pakistani leaders complain that U.S. officials rarely acknowledge the deaths of thousands of Pakistanis in terrorist attacks since 2001. Trump, who nodded to Pakistani sacrifices, seemed especially troubled by the region’s nuclear factor. The concern was shared by past administrations, who worried that radical elements within Pakistan’s armed forces could share nuclear material and know-how with militants.
“We must prevent nuclear weapons and materials from coming into the hands of terrorists and being used against us, or anywhere in the world, for that matter,” Trump said. The Trump administration has already taken some steps to signal its displeasure with Pakistan. The Pentagon announced last month that it would withhold $50 million in military assistance to Pakistan for not taking sufficient action against the Haqqani network. The Obama administration took a similar step in its final months.
There also have been very few high-level diplomatic or other exchanges between the countries, although Trump, during the transition period, reportedly heaped praise on the country in a call with Pakistan’s prime minister. Neither Tillerson nor Mattis have visited Pakistan, though Mattis did visit Afghanistan in April.
When National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster visited the region the same month, he stopped by Pakistan. But there and in Afghanistan, he hinted that the Trump White House had less patience for Islamabad than its predecessors. Pakistan’s government has had its own political turmoil recently, which hasn’t helped the relationship with the United States. Nawaz Sharif, the man serving as prime minister when Trump was elected, was ousted from his position last month by the courts over corruption charges. “I am absolutely shocked at the abject absence of any real urge on either side to engage at the highest level,” said USIP’s Yusuf. “None of the meetings that have happened have been cordial. It’s basically ended up creating more tension.”
One potential consequence of a hardened U.S. approach to Pakistan is that Islamabad may deepen its cooperation with China. Pakistan leaders unhappy with the United States not-so-subtly describe China as an “all-weather friend.” China’s role came up during the Trump administration’s conversations about Pakistan, the person familiar with the issue said. “There was discussion about how Pakistan has become a client state of China,” the person said. Trump’s harsher stance on Pakistan also risks delaying the possibility of a negotiated peace settlement between the Afghan Taliban and the Afghan government. Pakistan is believed to be a critical influence on Afghan Taliban leaders who may wish to discuss a settlement.
Markey pointed out that U.S. financial assistance to Pakistan has been decreasing in recent years anyway – in fiscal 2016 it was roughly $1 billion total for security and economic assistance and military reimbursements.
Cutting off those funds isn’t as much of a threat to Pakistan as it could be, despite the country’s economic struggles. Like other observers, Markey also stressed that unless Trump follows up his rhetoric with notable action, Pakistanis will simply shrug it off as the latest in empty American threats. One way Trump could further signal his displeasure with Pakistan is by ramping up U.S. drone strikes in the country, an option his administration has discussed. The drone program, largely operated by the CIA, is classified, and Trump did not mention it during his Monday night speech.
Obama dramatically increased the use of such drone strikes in Pakistan, especially in the early years of his presidency. The U.S. drones rained down missiles in Pakistan’s tribal regions, killing numerous Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters, including Pakistani Taliban militants opposed to the government in Islamabad. But such strikes were widely unpopular in Pakistan and contributed to the deep anti-American sentiment there, leading to fears they encouraged more young Pakistanis to sign up as militants.
Ultimately, unless the United States can convince Pakistan that cutting links with Afghan Taliban fighters will benefit it in its rivalry against India, it’s not likely Islamabad will change its ways, said Christopher Kolenda, a former U.S. Army colonel who served four tours in Afghanistan and is now an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.
“As long as our policy is engaged in self-deception about our ability to change Pakistan’s strategic calculus, we’re going to continue to kick the can around the circle,” he said.

نوازشریف پارلیمنٹ کو مقتدر بنانے کے بجائے بادشاہ بن گئے، زرداری

پاکستان پیپلز پارٹی پارلیمنٹرینز کے سربراہ اور سابق صدرآصف علی زرداری نے کہا ہے کہ ہم نے میثاق جمہوریت کے ذریعے جمہوریت کومضبوط کیا اور نواز شریف نے اپنے طرز عمل کے ذریعے جمہوریت کو کمزور کیا، نوازشریف پارلیمنٹ کو مقتدر بنانے کے بجائے بادشاہ بن گئے۔
ہمارے طرق عمل سے سیکھنے کی بجائے تکبر کا راستہ اختیار کیا ، اپنے اعمال کی وجہ سے اس انجام کو پہنچے ہیں ، مسلم لیگ( ن) سے مفاہمت کاباب کب کا بند ہوچکا ،مفاہمت سے متعلق افواہیں بے بنیادہیں ، نوازشریف کا کوئی دشمن نہیں وہ اپنے دشمن خودہیں۔ان خیالات کااظہارانہوںنے گزشتہ روزبلاول ہاؤس لاہور میں پیپلز پارٹی کے سینئررہنماؤں قیوم سومرو، مخدوم احمد محمود، نیلم جبار، بشیر ریاض، عبدالقادر شاہین، عزیز الرحمان چن اور دیگر سے ملاقاتوں کے دوران کیا جس میں ملک کی موجودہ سیاسی صورتحال اور پارٹی معاملات پر تبادلہ خیال کیا گیا۔
آصف زرداری نے کہاکہ نوا زشریف اپنے اعمال کی وجہ سے اس انجام کوپہنچے ،ہم نے اقتدار میں آکر اختیارات پارلیمنٹ کو تفویض کئے جس سے جمہوریت اور پارلیمنٹ مضبوط ہوئے لیکن میاں نوازشریف نے اقتدار میں آکر غرور کیا اور بادشاہوں کا طرز حکمرانی اختیار کیا اس سے جمہوریت بہت کمزور ہوئی، پارلیمنٹ کو مقتدر بنانے کے بجائے نواز شریف خود اختیارات کا منبع بن گئے، میاں صاحب بادشاہ بن گئے۔

Monday, August 21, 2017

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Pakistan among five worst countries on religious freedom due to blasphemy laws

''Blasphemy laws “invite abuse and can lead to assaults, murders, and mob attacks”''

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has released a report that shows how blasphemy laws around the world fall short of international human rights benchmarks. “Respecting Rights? Measuring the World’s Blasphemy Laws” catalogs the offending laws found in a wide range of countries. In some countries, blasphemy laws are enforced weakly, if at all, yet such laws, “in both theory and practice, harm individuals and societies.” The report details laws spanning the globe from countries such as Canada and Switzerland to Iran and Indonesia with penalties ranging from fines to death. Surprisingly, more than one-third of the world’s nations have blasphemy laws today.

“Religious freedom includes the right to express a full range of thoughts and beliefs, including those that others might find blasphemous,” noted USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark. “Advocates for blasphemy laws may argue that they are needed in order to protect religious freedom, but these laws do no such thing. Blasphemy laws are wrong in principle, and they often invite abuse and lead to assaults, murders, and mob attacks. Wherever they exist, they should be repealed.”

The report compared the text of blasphemy laws against such indicators as freedom of expression, freedom of religion or belief, vagueness of the law, severity of penalty, discrimination against groups, and state religion protections. Most laws in the study failed to protect freedom of expression, were vaguely worded, and carried unduly harsh penalties for violators.

In all five of the worst-scoring countries (Iran, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Qatar), the blasphemy laws aim to protect the state religion of Islam in a way that impermissibly discriminates among different groups. When societies wish to defend people of faith from speech that offends them, private citizens must act, not the government, and they must act peacefully, never with violence. In such cases, solidarity across faiths can be a powerful tool for promoting tolerance and mutual respect.

“Though implementation varies, countries from Switzerland to Sudan persist in outlawing expression of views deemed ‘blasphemous’,” said Chairman Mark. “Some countries, including Canada, have such laws but do not actively enforce them. We call upon those countries to set an example for the others and repeal their blasphemy laws. And we call upon all countries to repeal any such laws and to free those detained or convicted for blasphemy.”

Christian teenager almost beaten to death in Pakistan 'for burning Quran'

Will Worley

A Christian Pakistani teenager narrowly avoided being beaten to death after being accused of burning a Quran, according to reports.
The 16-year-old had to be rescued by officers after a mob broke into a police station to try and kill him.
Asif Stephen worked collecting recyclables from the shrine of Sundhay Shah, Jhamkay, where it was alleged he stole a copy of the Quran and burned it.
He was detained under the country’s blasphemy laws, among the most stringent in the world. But his family said a rival hawker, Muhammad Nawaz, falsely accused the boy in order to eliminate him as a business rival. The Quran was found burned in July but earlier this month Mr Nawaz accosted Mr Stephen in a market place and shouted that he had caught the person who burned the Quran, it is said.
“Qari Rana Arshid, who’s the pesh imam at a mosque, arrived there and without confirming anything, he too started beating up my son,” said Stephen Masih, the teenager’s father, to the Express Tribune.
The police arrived at the scene and took Mr Stephen into custody. But the mob, led by the imam, broke into the facility and began to attack the boy further, it is reported.
The police were forced to call for reinforcements to save his life from the crowd.
“The police saved him from the enraged mob,” sub-inspector Pervez Iqbal told the newspaper.
“His family should be grateful to the police. The mob surrounded the police station but we pacified the protesters with the help of the notables of the area.”
Christians in Pakistan, a deeply conservative majority Muslim country, are common targets for discrimination and violence.
Open Doors, a group which campaigns for the rights of persecuted Christians around the world, has ranked Pakistan as the fourth most dangerous country on earth for members of the religion.
Blasphemy laws are often used against Christians.
“If you are accused of having insulted Islam in any way, your life is in danger,” the group said.
In Easter 2016, at least 75 people were killed when a Taliban suicide bombing targeted Christians in a park in Lahore.

Pakistan - Govt fails to provide relief in 4 years : Sherry Rehman

Vice President PPPP Senator Sherry Rehman regretted that the government has no intention of giving relief or paying attention to the real issues  of the people of Pakistan, including loadshedding, water security or the entitlement to food. This government has clearly other priorities as it has failed to keep the promises it made in 2013 to light up Pakistan, let alone feed Pakistan ”, she added.
The Senator added that, ” it is shocking that  no funds have so far been released for the all-important ‘Energy for All’ and ‘Clean Drinking Water for All’ initiatives. Instead of working towards securing energy, food and water projects, the government has disbursed all the funds earmarked for parliamentarians’ development schemes. It’s priorities are clearly another kind of politics from the kind we need or believe in. It is indeed tragic that we left a wheat secure country in 2013, and that too has been allowed to slide ”.
Addressing a Senate Motion on Food & Security today, the Senator informed the House that “6 out of 10 citizens in Pakistan are food insecure and almost 50% women and  specifically children under 5 are malnourished. It is also shocking to witness that an estimated 50% of the population is without access to clean drinking water. The Federal government is either unaware of the facts or is criminally negligent !”
“Since 2013, the citizens of Pakistan have been deprived of almost every basic necessity, as the government has done nothing but deceived our nation with false  promises,” said Rehman.
“It is shocking and shameful that this government after four years of full powers, does not have a consistent and coherent food, water of energy security policy framework, nor does it seem to be bothered by our nation’s slide into mass poverty. If we see the performance of this government since the last 4 years, it has done little or nothing to invest in development projects which directly benefit the poor and the vulnerable.
“There is only one conclusion that can be drawn from looking at all this inaction and hierarchy of priorities taken by the government that it has no interest in ensuring our fundamental entitlements. Pakistan deserves better than this, concluded the Senator.

جلسے کرتا رہا تو عمران روئیں گے، ن لیگ نے ہمیشہ دھوکا دیا،بلاول

چیئرمین پیپلزپارٹی بلاول بھٹو زرداری نے کہاہے کہ نظام کو کوئی خطرہ نہیں ، انتخابات مقررہ وقت پر ہوں گے‘ن لیگ نے ہمیشہ دھوکا دیا‘ عمران خان کو سندھ میں ویلکم کرتے ہیں‘ایسے ہی جلسے کرتارہاتوخان صاحب روناشروع کردیں گے‘بعض  سیاستدانوں نے صرف غریبوں کی بات کی مگر بھٹو نے عوام کیلئے جان دی ‘ سپریم کورٹ کا فیصلہ پورے ملک کو تسلیم کرنا چاہئے، حکومت کے روئیے پر پارلیمنٹ میں بحث ہونی چاہئے،کاغان میں جلسہ عام  اوربعدازاں پریس کانفرنس سےخطاب کرتے ہوئے انہوں نے کہا کہ ہم میثاق جمہوریت کےبنیادی اصولوں پر آج بھی قائم ہیں تاہم ن لیگ نے ہمارے دور حکومت میں میثاق جمہوریت کا ساتھ نہیں دیا جس کے بعد اب تخت رائےونڈ میں آپس میں جھگڑا ہورہا ہے، بلاول بھٹونے کہا کہ 2013 کے انتخابات میں ہمیں انتخابی مہم نہیں چلانے دی گئی ، ایک سیاسی جج نے آصف زرداری پر انتخابی مہم چلانے پر پابندی لگائی لیکن چترال، چنیوٹ اور مانسہرہ کے جلسوں سے پتا چل گیا کہ عوام نے پچھلے الیکشن کے نتائج کو مسترد کیا۔
عمران خان کو تنقید کا نشانہ بناتے ہوئے بلاول بھٹو نے کہا کہ ان کے قول وفعل میں تضاد ہے جو سندھ کے عوام قبول نہیں کریگی کیونکہ سندھ میں ایک ہی وزیراعلیٰ کو کرپشن کے الزام میں نکالا گیا جو اب عمران خان کیساتھ ہے۔ان کا کہنا تھا کہ عمران خان کو سندھ میں ویلکم کرتے ہیں، انہیں ضرور آنا چاہئےاور میری دعا ہے کہ عمران خان کا جلسہ کامیاب ہو۔بلاول بھٹو زرداری کا کہنا تھا کہ بہت سے سیاستدان غریب اور عوام کی بات کرتے ہیں لیکن بھٹو صرف بات نہیں کرتے بلکہ جان بھی دیتے ہیں، ذوالفقار علی بھٹو نے آپ کیلئے جان دی تھی۔انہوں نے کہا کہ روٹی ، کپڑااور مکان کا نعرہ نہیں لگایا بلکہ بینظیر انکم سپورٹ پروگرام بھی دیا،ایسے ہی جلسےکرتا رہا تو عمران خان رونا شروع کردینگے‘بھٹو نے قوم کو ایٹم بم کا تحفہ دیا، جس کی وجہ سے آج دشمن اس ملک کی جانب آنکھ اٹھا کر دیکھنے کی ہمت نہیں کرتا ‘ عوام نے ہمارا ساتھ دیا تو عوامی خدمت کی نئی تاریخ رقم کریں گے۔

Pakistan - Opposition leader advises Nawaz to appear before courts

Opposition Leader in National Assembly Khursheed Shah advised former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday to appear before the courts for complete accountability, adding that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader always advised others to respect the judiciary.
Talking to Geo News inside his chamber, he said that the former prime minister is playing a dangerous game.
Shah said that despite the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) summons, Nawaz Sharif and his family members did not present themselves before the authorities.
The court can order the arrest of the Sharif family through the army, claimed Shah.
While responding to a question, Shah said that if there is a demand to make the Dawn Leaks report public then the Model Town incident report should be made public as well. 
"Nisar was praising himself like an Australian parrot," said Shah in an apparent jibe aimed at the former interior minister Nisar Ali Khan's press conference on Sunday. 
Nisar in his press conference said that he refused to be part of the new cabinet over “difference of opinion” reiterating, however, that he will continue being a member of PML-N.
Meanwhile, the NAB has decided to send another notice to the Sharifs before filing a case in the Supreme Court that is likely to issue arrest warrants for the family members, sources said.
Earlier, the bureau had decided to not to send further notices to members of the Sharif family.
The bureau is pursuing several corruption references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s family, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and others in light of the Supreme Court’s July 28 judgment in the Panama Papers case.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

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Saudi Arabia moves to indict some 'radical' Twitter users

Saudi Arabia has said it will indict a group of "radical" Twitter users charged with "harming the public order," according to a statement on its state news agency website on Sunday.
The size of the group indicted and their identities have not been disclosed. However, Saudi Arabia's spokesman for the Ministry of Culture and Information Hani Al Ghufaily tweetedahead of the statement that radical Sunni cleric Ali Al Rabieei had been summoned to the "committee for publication crimes."
Al Rabieei's frequently tweets about Shia Muslims, who he refers to as "rejectionists," a derogatory term for the minority group. The cleric's profile photo on the social network also features the image of Iran's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, with devil horns.
Al Rabieei could not be reached for comment.
Saudi Arabia has a sizable Shiite minority whose members reside primarily in the restive eastern province of Qatif.
Last week, Saudi authorities announced they had nearly rooted out gunmen from the town of Awamiya in Qatif, which has been a site of anti-government rebellion since the 2011 Arab Spring.
Saudi Shia Muslims have long chafed under Sunni-majority rule, where a hardline school of Islamic thought, known as Wahabism, predominates.
Saudi Arabia bans public worship by non-Muslims and severely restricts public displays of religion by non-Wahhabis, including Shia.
But in recent years, a series of reforms have swept through the ultra-conservative kingdom, curtailing the powers of the kingdom's religious police, granting women a growing list of rights, and cracking down on religious incitement.
Saudi Arabia's newly appointed Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, 31, is widely seen as a driving force behind the country's reforms.

The United Arab Emirate’s ambassador says of Saudi Arabia: “That whole country is fuckin coo coo!”

The United Arab Emirate’s envoy to the US has reportedly ridiculed Saudi Arabia’s leadership in a number of leaked emails, In one of the messages, reportedly stolen by hacking group GlobalLeaks, Yousef Otaiba wrote: “That whole country is fuckin coo coo!” In another, sent to his Egyptian wife, Abeer Shoukry, the UAE ambassador mocked Saudi Arabia’s decision to ban red roses on Valentine’s Day.
In the email, purportedly written by Mr Otaiba, he wrote: “They’re just so stupid… I’m sure Red roses are now being sold on the black market for extortionately high prices. They should’v banned heart-shaped chocolate as well.”
The correspondence reveals that although Mr Otaiba believes the UAE has “bad history” with Saudi Arabia, their crown prince Mohammed bin Salman could lead to better relations and a time to get “the most results we can ever get out of Saudi.” Previously, Mr Otaiba had written to New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, saying that “with MBS (Mohammed bin Salman), we see a genuine change. And that’s why we’re excited. We finally see hope there and we need it to succeed.”
In other emails, Mr Otaiba has hailed bin Salman as being “on a mission to make the Saudi government more efficient.”
The UAE ambassador is an influential player in world politics and has attended Pentagon strategy meetings. “He is incredibly savvy,” a former White House aide told the Huffington Post.
“He throws great social events. He understands how Washington works, how the Hill works, which a lot of these countries don’t.”
The correspondence from Mr Otaiba’s email account was initially uncovered by the GlobalLeaks group, who approached Daily Beast. The hacking group claims to “reveal how million of dollars were used to hurt reputation of American allies and cause policy change.”
The UAE embassy confirmed that the Hotmail address matched the ambassador’s, according to The Hill.
The identity of GlobalLeaks remains unknown although the Daily Beast noted that the email sent to them was from a free Russian email provider.

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Pakistan: Right-Wing Activist Judge Urges Parliament to Prosecute Blasphemy Cases Under Terrorism Laws

In an expanded order to remove “blasphemous” content from social media in Pakistan, a high court judge included a recommendation that Parliament include terrorism charges against those accused of blasphemy.

Last Saturday’s (Aug. 12) recommendation by Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court is unlikely to result in action by Parliament, but it reflects a radical strain of thought at high levels in Pakistan and will be seriously debated in the National Assembly, sources said.

Aasiya Nasir, a Christian member of the National Assembly, told Morning Star News that judges of the superior and high courts should refrain from making recommendations that could increase hostility towards minority communities. The recommendation to add Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) sections in blasphemy cases would only encourage continued misuse of blasphemy laws against rivals and minority groups, she said.

“Justice Siddiqui’s recommendations haven’t yet been taken up in the National Assembly,” she said. “No member has so far tabled any motion in this regard, and it is highly unlikely that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government will try to stir up debate on the controversial laws in the last few months of its government. Nevertheless, the recommendations will be thoroughly debated in the House whenever they are presented to us.”

In a detailed order on a petition seeking removal of blasphemous content from the social media, Siddiqui said that investigators should consider adding sub-section (F) of Section 6 of the 1997 ATA in blasphemy cases because they “directly hurt the emotions of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.”

Sub-section (F) relates to inciting hatred and contempt on religious, sectarian or ethnic basis to stir up violence or cause internal disturbance.

“We hold the judiciary in high regard, but it hurts to see senior judges showing religious prejudice in their observations as well as judgments,” Nasir said.

Sen. Hafiz Hamdullah of the Islamist party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam also opposed prosecuting blasphemy under terrorism charges, saying it would not serve any purpose.

“We just need to ensure that the law is not exploited,” he said. “But unfortunately, no one in parliament is serious in dealing with this issue.”

The high court judge’s recommendation also called for punishing those who falsely accuse others of blasphemy, something Hamdullah welcomed.

“Even the Council of Islamic Ideology has made repeated recommendations to the government to legislate against false accusations of blasphemy, but it’s an open secret that neither the government nor other secular parties in parliament are willing to do anything about this,” he said, adding that it was a fact that most blasphemy cases in Pakistan were motivated by personal enmity. “We oppose abolition of the blasphemy laws, but we will endorse any legislation that brings an end to wrongful accusations against innocent people, no matter which religious community they belong to.”

Attorney Riaz Anjum of the Pakistan Center for Law and Justice (PCLJ) questioned whether the judge had a constitutional right to make his recommendations.

“Although I agree with Justice Siddiqui’s observation that false accusers of blasphemy should be punished sternly, I am strongly opposed to inclusion of terrorism charges in such cases,” Anjum said. “The judge should not have encouraged investigation officers in this regard, as it will only add to the miseries of those falsely accused of blasphemy and make it difficult for their defense counsels to secure their release. Such a suggestion is also illegal constitutionally.”

Under existing law, a false accuser faces a maximum punishment of only six months or a fine up to 1,000 rupees, about US$10. The judge recommended punishments for those falsely accusing people of blasphemy equal to those convicted of blasphemy.

Senior attorney of the Supreme Court Saif-ul-Malook said that the judge was stepping out of his jurisdiction by suggesting application of the anti-terrorism law in blasphemy cases.

“The Supreme Court of Pakistan has clearly defined that the anti-terrorism laws are applicable only on people accused of creating chaos or unrest in the country through acts of terrorism,” he said. “In cases involving blasphemy, an accused is simply exercising his right of free speech by giving his opinion on any religious personality, which by no means falls under the definition of terrorism.”

Saif said Article 189 of the Constitution of Pakistan states that whatever the high court defines on a question of law shall be binding on all the judicial authorities of the country, including the high courts.

“It is also beyond the jurisdiction of a high court to recommend parliament to promulgate any law, as under Article 175(2) of the constitution, no high court can issue any such directions to the legislature,” he said.

Article 175(2) states that “no court shall have any jurisdiction save as is or may be conferred on it by the Constitution or by or under any law.”

Saif, who was the special prosecutor in the assassination case of former Punjab Gov. Salmaan Taseer and now represents Christian blasphemy convict Aasiya Noreen, better known as Asia Bibi, in the Supreme Court, said that he believed that rampant accusations of blasphemy in Pakistan could be discouraged if the parliament makes a law prohibiting arrest of the accused until a trial court proves them guilty.

“Accusers of blasphemy know that the police will immediately arrest the accused and throw them in prison without carrying out an impartial investigation into the serious allegation,” he said. “This serves their purpose of settling personal rivalries, as those accused under the charge are forced into imprisonment for years till a court decides their fate.”

Christian rights activist Shakeel Naz said the time has come for Pakistan’s parliament to seriously address blatant misuse of the blasphemy laws rather than clamping down on free speech rights on social media.

“I’m not sure whether Pakistan’s parliament will consider his other suggestions such as equal punishment for false accusers, but his advice to police officials will only worsen the situation as everyone knows how easy it is to accuse someone of blasphemy and register a case under the laws in Pakistan,” he said.


Siddiqui also ordered a complete ban on the social networking site Facebook if the website’s management does not conform to Pakistani laws.

“In case the Facebook management does not remove the indecent content against the holy prophet and revered personalities, the website may be banned completely in Pakistan,” the judge’s verdict said.

He directed the Federal Ministry for Interior and other departments concerned to vigorously take up the matter with Facebook management. On March 31 he had issued a shorter order on a petition seeking elimination of blasphemous content from social media. In the 116-page, detailed judgment issued on Saturday (Aug. 12), the judge directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to create a firewall to block sacrilegious content in Pakistan.

Attorney Anjum of the PCLJ said that since 2010, nearly 480 cases of blasphemy have been registered in Pakistan. Of these, 24 have been handed the death sentence, while 18 were given life imprisonment, he said.

“Everyone in Pakistan knows that the majority of blasphemy cases are motivated by personal vendettas, yet the legislature is doing practically nothing to contain this exploitation of the law,” he said.