Sunday, January 1, 2017

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Video Report - #UK - My homeless Christmas

James Brown discovers what life is like for a homeless person in one of the world’s wealthiest cities. He spends Christmas sleeping rough on the streets of London, begging for change. While most people are merrily preparing for the holidays, this festive time of year is just another reminder of loneliness for anyone who’s homeless. Related: Moscow's Outcasts: Docu-reality Series about life of the bums in the streets of Moscow. Traditionally, the holiday is about home and family, both long lost for anyone who can’t remember the last time they saw a real bed. James Brown meets some of the people who have lived that way for years. Each one has a heart-breaking story about how they came to be alone and with nowhere to go. Many share a common problem: the vicious cycle of addiction that binds them to the streets. James explores the mental and physical effects of homelessness and the means available to help break out of it. He interviews homeless people and charity workers who provide food, as well as those who have succeeded in leaving the street behind and putting their lives back on track. As always, James experiences the situation first-hand, going through the challenges homeless people face every day. He also discovers why it’s so difficult to go back to a normal life after crossing that line and becoming homeless. This show offers an inside view on what some would almost see as a parallel world, inhabited only by the homeless, unseen by others. Here, the back streets and dark alleys are transformed into whole communities, suffering from various kinds of addiction. Anywhere that appears abandoned could easily be a make-shift home, a damp cellar or doorstep someone else’s bed for the night. Only a few dedicated volunteers cross into this hidden, unseen world, offering help for any who are willing to be rescued.

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Syria-Gate: NATO Weaponry and Personnel in East Aleppo

Manuel Ochsenreiter
Huge stockpiles of weaponry and ammunition, many with NATO markings, were discovered in East Aleppo when the Al-Nusra militants, a local branch of Al Qaida, were pushed out of the city by Syrian forces.
The previous reports that NATO personnel were captured are now retracted, as they were allowed to leave with the militants on the buses provided according to the agreement, to spare NATO the embarrassment. FWM interviews the Syrian MP Fares Shehabi, an Aleppo resident himself. He calls the discoveries “SyriaGate”.
Mr. Shehabi, European mainstream media and leading politicians are upset about the liberation of Aleppo by the Syrian Arab Army. They write reports about massacres committed by the army and horrified civilians in Aleppo…
It is the total opposite. The news in Europe is a real problem because they report exactly the opposite of the real facts in Syria. We were able to liberate around 100.000 civilians who were held hostage by terrorists in Aleppo. A lot of them were taken hostage for more than four years. These liberated civilians are happy now. The 1.5 million civilians who left Aleppo since 2012 are now able to come home again. This is a very positive and happy moment for Aleppo and Syria in general. We were able to celebrate Christmas in Aleppo for the first time since 4.5 years – we celebrate Christmas every day now in our city!
So the terrorists left the city completely?
 – Yes, but before they left they executed more than hundred Syrian soldiers and hundreds of civilians. We found their bodies. This is all documented. Any international independent investigation can see and check the evidence of these terrorist crimes. But we are happy that our city is now liberated. Some rural areas around Aleppo are still under terrorist occupation. The next step will be to liberate the countryside so the city is well maintained and well protected.
American made weapons found when Al Nusra left. Photo: Syrian Arab Army
Damascus reported about a huge amount of Western military material such as arms and ammunition in Aleppo…
– What we found there whole weaponry warehouses which were put in former school buildings by the terrorist forces. Our schools were turned into Al Qaida military bases. We found at those Al-Nusra bases – Al-Nusra is a branch of Al Qaida – full with NATO weaponry. We found tons of these weapons. I call that “SyriaGate” – the US and NATO arm and support terrorist gangs which are even on the official UN terror list in order to topple the legitimate government of a sovereign country. This is totally ridiculous of the West…
Why ridiculous?
– Because nobody can guarantee that these weapons will not be used one day against the West itself by these terrorists. American and European tax payer’s money is abused to arm terrorist gangs which are ready to direct their guns any time against America and European civilians. This is a huge scandal.
What do you know about the presence of Western military and intel experts and advisors in the terrorist controlled areas of Aleppo? Earlier reports spoke about captured NATO personnel.
– We didn’t capture any European or American military advisor in Aleppo. However we have reliable information that many of them were there and left the city with the buses we provided for the evacuation of the terrorist forces after their capitulation. Also some of these so-called activists as Bilal Abdul Kareem who is an Afro-American from New York and a loud supporter of the Al Qaida gangs in Syria.
Kareem’s presence in Aleppo was supported by the Obama administration and he was often in Western news introduced as “independent journalist”. And there were many other Western agents and terrorist supporters as well in Aleppo who left the city with the buses. This is by the way the reason why the West pushed so hard for this evacuation. Otherwise all these agents, advisors and supporters would have been captured by us and would have been exposed. That would have been a big embarrassment for the West.
Shehabi calls the discovery “SyriaGate” because it proves the US armed a group that is on its own terror list. Photo: Syrian Arab Army
The fate of Aleppo didn’t play such a big role in Western media for the last 4.5 years. Since the start of the liberation operations of the Syrian Arab Army the situation changed completely: All of the sudden Western media, politicians and NGOs were campaigning – against the Syrian Army. They accused the Syrian Army of committing “genocide” in Aleppo, of bombarding hospitals, of massacring children and babies…
– We Syrians paid in blood and destruction. Our own blood is the currency for these Western lies and this “misunderstanding”. Someone in the West can always say “Oh sorry, I got it somehow wrong!”, but we paid with our blood and our lives for this horrible ignorance. Aleppo was conquered by Al Qaida gangs in summer 2012. There were no Aleppo residence involved, our city was very peaceful, no one took the arms against the government. We were conquered by the terrorists with heavy weapons and they took 70 percent of our city. In 2012 around two million civilians lived in East Aleppo, 1.5 million left the occupied territory to safe zones. Nobody in the West spoke about the displacement of these 1.5 million people who were fleeing into government controlled areas. America and Europe were silent. Nobody in the West was interested in the 11.000 civilians killed by the terrorist gangs in four years of random shellings and bombardments. 30 per cent of these killed civilians are children. 4.5 years we were losing innocent civilians by terrorist grenades, explosives and snipers.
In total several tons of NATO weapons were found in East Aleppo. Photo: Syrian Arab Army 
European politicians, media and NGOs seem to care more about the fate of the terrorists than about the civilians of Aleppo?
– There is no other explanation for that behaviour. Again: 4.5 years the terrorists brought the hell to the civilians of Aleppo, but the West didn’t care. When we liberate the terrorist controlled areas the West reacts with a huge campaign against us. At the same time the whole Western media campaigns for liberating the Iraqi city of Mosul from the terrorist gangs of the so-called “Islamic State”. Why is it allowed to liberate Mosul, but forbidden to liberate Aleppo?
This is a big hypocrisy. I recommend to the Western audience to put themselves in our shoes. Imagine that tens of thousands Al Qaida terrorists occupy half of Berlin, Paris or London? What would the people do? They would hope for liberation by their army. We Aleppo people waited 4.5 years for our liberation! But we had to bring that sacrifice in order to minimize the civilian causalities. We had to wait for a superpower – the Russian Federation – to help us. If our Army would have immediately started the counter attack in 2012 we might have had thousands of civilian losses and much more destruction. But we waited and we liberated our city. Thank god.

Massacre in Istanbul’s Reina a blatant terror attack


Turkey was shaken once again in the first hours of 2017, as one of Istanbul’s jet set nightclubs was raided by a gunman who killed 39 and wounded 65 people, four of whom are in a critical condition.

The terrorist arrived at Reina nightclub on the coast of the Bosphorus at 01.15 a.m. local time in a taxi, according to eyewitness accounts. He took a bag from the trunk, removed an automatic rifle from the bag, shot the policemen waiting in front of the club as he was crossing the street, and then stormed his way inside, spraying bullets on the nearly 800 people (including employees) who were celebrating the new year. He then removed his overcoat and cap and disappeared in a different outfit. Security experts speaking on Turkish TV say the attacker behaved in a “professional, trained and cold-blooded” manner and had likely previously explored the site to gather intelligence.

As of midday on Jan. 1 no one had claimed responsibility. But sources in Ankara say the investigation focused on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), or DEASH in Arabic initials, which has been carrying out many terrorist attacks other than suicide bombings, as in the recent example in Berlin, Germany.
President Tayyip Erdoğan said the Turkish people should keep their calm and unity, thus showing they would not let “dirty games be played” with them. Erdoğan also said such attacks were not “independent from developments in the region,” meaning the Middle East and particularly Syria and Iraq.

It is not difficult to see that terrorist attacks on Turkey, whether from ISIL or the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), are rising as Turkish military moves inside Syria pressure both of them. In the case against ISIL, that pressure comes with the consent of both the U.S. and Russia. Only a few hours before the attack on Dec. 31 – though this does not mean they were related - the U.N. Security Council endorsed the ceasefire in Syria that has been in effect since midnight on Dec. 30, under the guarantee of Russia and Turkey. That ceasefire is reportedly still largely holding, with only minor and sporadic violations. Turkey has changed its Syria policy gradually over the past year towards more cooperation with the international community, and militant groups active in the Syria theater may be showing their reaction by awakening the sleepers they recruited in Turkey back when they could move around more freely inside the country (before Ankara’s Syria policy changed).
Many governments of both East and West, as well as international institutions, responded quickly to side with Turkey after this latest terrorist attack (four condemnations came from the U.S. alone, including one from President Barack Obama). There have thus been no accusations from the Turkish government that the West is indifferent to terrorist attacks here because it wants a weaker Turkey.

There are two other dimensions of the Istanbul New Year attack.

The first one is about the attack itself and possible intelligence failures. There have recently been a number of warnings sent to provincial governors that major terrorist attacks are expected in big cities, especially in Istanbul and Ankara, focused on crowded places like shopping malls, restaurants and nightclubs frequented by foreign nationals and tourists. If there is a failure, the precautions side of security should now be debated. For many years, Turkey’s security and judicial agencies were effectively sub-contracted to sympathizers of Fethullah Gülen, an Islamist preacher living in the U.S., who used to cooperate closely with Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) governments. Now Gülen and his network are accused of being behind the thwarted July 15 coup attempt, and their sympathizers are being cleansed from the state apparatus in their thousands. This has led to questions over how the gap is being filled. 

Some of those replacing purged Gülenists are novices (the policemen killed in front of the nightclub was a 21-year-old in his 10th month on duty), sleepers in disguise (as suspected for the police officer who murdered the Russian ambassador to Ankara on Dec. 19), or remaining members of the notorious “deeper state” before it was handed over to the Gülenists under AK Parti rule. There may therefore be serious coordination problems within the police force, as well as the court system.

Another question surrounds the political atmosphere in Turkey, which is getting more poisonous every day with rising nationalist and religious chauvinism. Religious Affairs Directorate head Mehmet Görmez was quick to make a statement after the attack, saying there was “no difference” between terror attacks targeting places of worship and attacks targeting entertainment sites, and they should be equally condemned. That statement followed cheering after the attack among certain social media users who believe that celebrating the New Year is un-Islamic and something to be despised. 

Görmez’s statement was welcome. But just two days before, the Friday sermon prepared by Görmez’s Diyanet and read in more than 80,000 mosques across Turkey harshly criticized New Year celebrations as illegitimate and having no place in Islam or Turkey’s cultural traditions. Only a few days ago, members of an ultranationalist group made headlines by performing street theater in the Western province of Aydın by pointing a pistol at the forehead of another militant dressed in a Santa Claus costume. Unlike the cases frequently opened against critical media in Turkey, the police and the courts took no action against them for “praising crime” or “stirring hatred among the people.”

Threat of Syrian Government Being Toppled by Force Was 'Neutralized' in 2016

The UN Security Council held a meeting on Syria, after a ceasefire regime has been established in the country. Then, talks on the Syrian settlement will be organized in Astana. The talks will allow for restarting the Syrian peace process, political analyst Dmitry Egorchenkov told Radio Sputnik.
On Saturday, the UN Security Council passed a resolution drafted by Russia that endorses a nationwide Syrian ceasefire, which was brokered by Moscow and Ankara.
The UNSC members welcomed the agreements and stressed the importance of its "full and immediate implementation." Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the Syrian government and the armed opposition had reached an agreement allowing for a ceasefire and talks. Russia and Turkey were named the guarantors of the ceasefire.
President Putin also called on warring parties and regional players to endorse the agreement and participate in peaceful negotiations in the Kazakh capital of Astana.
The Syrian peaceful process is likely to be rebooted during the talks in Astana, Dmitry Egorchenkov, an expert at the Institute for Strategic Studies, at the Moscow-based Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, told Sputnik. "The main goal of the Astana round of talks is to restart the peaceful process. Unfortunately, the Geneva talks failed. The initiative was positively assessed by UN. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura praised the ceasefire and attempts to launch a new round of talks," Egorchenkov told Radio Sputnik. According to him, the recently established ceasefire was the most important achievement in Syria in 2016. "The ceasefire regime is the main achievement of the year for Damascus. The threat that the Syrian legitimate government could be toppled by force was neutralized this year [in 2016], thanks to joint efforts by the government and its allies, including Russia," the expert pointed out. Egorchenkov also highlighted other important advances related to the Syrian settlement.
"Finally, we can see a clear distinction between the opposition and militants. This is what Russia long tried to achieve working with the United States. But Washington was not ready to do that. So, Moscow, Tehran and Ankara joined forced and did that," the expert said.
He underscored that the Syrian settlement has involved all interested party and, as a result, such players as, for example, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are now ready to negotiate. According to Egorchenkov, now all parties involved understand that there can be no military solution to the Syrian crisis. "I think that by the end of 2016, all global players realized that the conflict cannot be resolved by force. They see that the only option is to negotiate," he concluded.
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Another, more beautiful America is rising. Trump will be resisted

Rebecca Solnit

The time when you don’t need hope is when your hopes have been fulfilled. Hope is for when you don’t have what you need and for when things are not OK. It is the belief that liberation might be possible that motivates you to make it more possible, and pursuing hope even when it doesn’t lead to the ultimate goal can generate changes that matter along the way, including in yourself.
A dozen years ago I talked about hope to a roomful of working-class community college students in Washington, citing the German philosopher Ernst Bloch to the effect that without hope there is no action but without action there is no hope. A woman said in a clear voice that she agreed, because if she had not hoped she would not have struggled and if she had not struggled she would not have survived Pol Pot and the Cambodian genocide.
That floored me. Sometimes hope is just that you will survive, or that you will escape. Then you can hope for more. I wish I knew her story, but that she was in North America, alive and well and confident enough to speak out, told me something of it. Even despotic regimes end, though it’s important to remember that not everyone and everything survives; you can be devastated for what won’t and hopeful for what will at the same time.
In the United States we are probably headed for a very grim phase of uncertain duration. We will see much that we love under attack – but it’s worth remembering that a lot of this is nothing new. From oil pipelines to human rights, there have been massive incursions over the past 16 years against nature, against equality, against governmental transparency. We are not exiting a utopia, and human rights organisations that are currently rising to a greater challenge have not been idle for lack of work in the Obama era.
The Bush years are not far behind us, and though more predictable, it was plenty brutal. May Boeve, executive director of, told me that after the recent US presidential election, her colleagues in Turkey sent their sympathy and said they got good work done on climate change, even under authoritarianism. We will have much work to do and we will still have the capacity to do it. It will matter more than ever that we do.
We would do well to study the countries that have sunk into tyranny or despotism and survived. To discover how Argentina and Chile and Brazil went through an era of dictators and death squads and emerged, in part because people like the Argentinian women in las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo stood up to their fears and their regime. El Salvador is now governed by the FMLN, which fought against the death squads in the 1980s, and Chile’s current president is Michelle Bachelet, who was kidnapped and tortured under the Pinochet regime. Most of the countries in our hemisphere besides Canada have gone into horror and emerged, many more than once.
The difference is one of scale. A Filipino climate activist friend of mine begged Americans to stop Donald Trump on the grounds that the tinpot despot in charge of his country has a largely local impact but the president of the US has a global impact on everything from human rights to climate policy around the world. We have a responsibility not just to our country but to the world to contain and weaken and try to defeat Trump and Trumpism to the best of our abilities. Those of us who are not in immediate peril have a grave responsibility to those who are.
But in the wake of this terrible election, much of my hope has rested not on what could or should happen, and not what the historical record tells us has happened, but what is happening now. There is another America rising and taking action, and it is beautiful. I’m thinking of the many stories of people standing up for the vulnerable, directly when they intervene in confrontations with haters. Or indirectly, as with the young woman I know who co-organised the creation of, a public oath people working in tech can take to refuse to create Muslim registries, turn over people’s private data, or otherwise cooperate with state persecution.
Of the California state senate, which immediately after the election issued a manifesto of defiance: “California will defend its people and our progress. We are not going to allow one election to reverse generations of progress at the height of our historic diversity, scientific advancement, economic output, and sense of global responsibility. We will lead the resistance to any effort that would shred our social fabric or our constitution.”
I’m thinking of the many action groups and coalitions that came together in the wake of the election determined to stop Trump, defend civil liberties and address the illegitimacy of the election, and of the candidate. The Harvard lawyers laying the case for impeachment on the grounds of the “emoluments” or profits from overseas that would fatally compromise a Trump regime.
Many people are still trying to figure out what to do; others are doing it. They give me hope, in some portion of humanity, the portion that will resist Trump and defend our ideals. It will be hard. It will be ugly. Our job will be to be embody and protect all of those things most antithetical to authoritarianism, racism, misogyny, kleptocracy, an atmosphere of lies and indifference to science, fact and truth.
In easy times, we grow slack; this will require us each to find our capacity for heroism. Some will, and my hope lies with them. Or us.

Obama: Serving as president the 'privilege of my life'

President Obama said on Sunday that it has “been the privilege of my life” to serve as the commander in chief while wishing the nation a happy new year on Twitter.

“It’s been the privilege of my life to serve as your President. I look forward to standing with you as a citizen. Happy New Year everybody,” Obama wrote.
Obama also detailed a list of his accomplishments throughout the last eight years.
“As we look ahead to the future, I wanted to take a moment to look back on the remarkable progress that you made possible these past 8 years,” he said.
He cited marriage equality, job growth, and his signature health legislation as his achievements while serving as president. “From realizing marriage equality to removing barriers to opportunity, we've made history in our work to reaffirm that all are created equal,” he wrote.

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Our generals failed in Afghanistan

Thomas E. Ricks
The United States military failed America in Afghanistan. It wasn’t a tactical failure. It was a failure of leadership.
The ascent of David Petraeus and the Army’s rediscovery of counterinsurgency doctrine led many to believe that the military had dramatically adapted itself for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately the transformation was only skin deep. Petraeus was a myth, and the intellectual father of the Army only in the eyes of the national media. The institutional inertia of the military bureaucracy never caught up with the press releases. The result was a never-ending series of public pronouncements by senior leaders about the importance of counterinsurgency, accompanied by a continuation of Cold War-era personnel and rotation policies that explicitly short-changed the effort.
Upon taking command in Afghanistan in 2009, General Stanley McChrystal made the rounds of his subordinate units and asked each of us, “What would you do differently if you had to stay until we won?” At the time I was in charge of operations for a brigade in the middle of tough fight in eastern Afghanistan. It was absolutely the right question, but in retrospect it was also a trick question. The answer was to get the right people into the fight, keep them there long enough to develop an understanding of the environment, and hold them accountable for progress, but that was not something the military was interested in doing. Instead, we stuck with a policy that rotated leaders through the country like tourists.
Taking the lessons of unit cohesion from Vietnam, the military has followed a policy in Afghanistan where entire units rotate in and out of country every seven, nine, or 12 months. This model, more than the policy of individual rotation in Vietnam, ensures both tactical proficiency and unit cohesion at the soldier level. But it also is completely ill-suited for a counterinsurgency campaign. It makes sense to limit the time soldiers spend conducting tactical operations, but leaders attempting to establish the kind of relationships and understanding necessary to be effective in counterinsurgency must be kept in place much longer. By changing out entire units so frequently, our policy has guaranteed that military leaders rotating through Afghanistan have never had more than a superficial understanding of the political environment they are trying to shape.
The shortcomings of this rotation policy in counterinsurgency have been further reinforced by an institutional culture and personnel management system that places a low priority on the advisory mission. From the beginning of our efforts in Afghanistan the advisory mission was promoted publicly but given a low priority in execution.
The premier example of this mismatch between what military leadership said we were doing, and what the bureaucracy was actually prioritizing, can be found in the story of the AfPak hands program. The program was launched by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mullen, and lauded as the key to shaping Afghanistan by creating a cohort of expert officers from across the services that would have the language skills and experience to build the kind of long-term relationships needed to build an effective Afghan security apparatus. While a priority for the Chairman, the effort was never embraced by the services.
Despite the fanfare and stated importance of the program, mismanagement and mis-utilization were rampant as this specialized cadre encountered personnel systems unable to support non-traditional career paths. Caught between career managers that saw the program as a deviation from what officers “should” be doing – leading tactical units – and a deployment system that often led to random staff assignments instead of partnered roles with Afghan leaders, the program quickly became known as an assignment to be “survived” if not avoided altogether.
A leaked briefing from the Army G-1, the service’s head personnel officer, to the Chief of Staff of the Army in 2014 confirmed that the AfPak Hands program had become a dead end for military careers. Officers who had participated in the program were being promoted at a fraction of the rate of those who had not. There are only two explanations for this outcome: Either the Army was sending sub-par officers to serve in the program, or officers were being punished for deviating from the traditional career track. Whichever it was, both explanations reveal that the effort to train and advise the Afghans was simply not a priority for the Army.
Similar challenges faced those who served on Security Force Advise and Assist Teams. These teams, like the AfPak Hands program, were always ad hoc and widely considered assignments to avoid, as they did not align with traditional career paths. And in the end, the rigidity of the military’s 1950’s-era personnel system simply overwhelmed any desires to prioritize the counterinsurgency mission. Centrally managed and organized around rigid career development templates, this personnel system does a magnificent job of sustaining a peacetime military that is prepared to fight and win tactical battles at the onset of a conventional war, but is not built to go beyond placing square pegs in square holes.
Preserving the conventional warfighting capabilities produced under that system for a future war is a valid concern. But after 15 years of conflict with little success to show for our efforts it is past time to ask our military leaders, “What war are we waiting for?”
Warren Buffett famously observed that if you’ve been playing poker for half an hour and don’t know who the patsy at the table is, then you are the patsy. We’ve been in Afghanistan for 15 years. Afghans know how to manage the American officers passing through their country. American officers rotating through Afghanistan on short-term deployments can never fully understand the network of relationships behind the formal chain of command. I saw this firsthand in 2012 after working to relieve a clearly incompetent border police commander. After several months of cajoling his chain of command the officer was relieved. I had been told of his family connections, but felt his incompetence was surely enough to keep him out of uniform. Of course, I was wrong. By the time I returned in 2014, two generations of advisors had passed through the border police headquarters and he had reassumed command.
When we have not been oblivious to this dynamic we have reacted with indignation. After all, don’t the Afghans care about winning the war?
A common joke in large hierarchical bureaucracies like the American military is that things aren’t going well because “higher headquarters can’t plan, and subordinate units can’t execute.” This describes the current view of military leaders in that larger strategic failings are out of the military’s lane, while any faults in execution must surely fall on the shoulders of the Afghans. Left unexamined is how our approach to the war was both ill-suited for the task at hand and ultimately constrained our strategic options.
In discussing what the Afghans need to be ready to fight the Taliban, a senior Pentagon official recently said, “The local forces need air support, intelligence and help with logistics.” Yet, unaddressed by this official, and largely unasked by anyone, is why the Afghan military needs these capabilities when the Taliban have been able to achieve such success without them?
This would be a good first question for the next president to ask as he or she faces a steady stream of senior military officers asking for “more men, more money, and more time,” because the answer reveals the superficiality of the military’s approach to Afghanistan.
Our current exit strategy entails the creation of a massive security force designed for a nation with neither the effective bureaucracies nor functioning civil society that are required to sustain and control such a force. Of course, it will take decades to secure Afghanistan with this model. And even then there is no guarantee of success. So long as the military pays only lip-service to counterinsurgency the president will be hearing the same refrain of “more men, more money, and more time” for years to come.


Wahhabis-allied Deobandi terrorists of banned takfiri outfits continued to destroy Pakistan by massacring innocent citizens of Pakistan mostly the Sunni Muslims throughout the year 2016. Influenced by the intolerant fanatic ideology of Saudi cleric Mohammad Bin Wahhab al Nejdi, the official ideological architect of Saudi monarchy’s Wahhabism, the Deobandis of Pakistan belonging to the banned outfits are being encouraged to do so by their overt and covert support from the powers that be and political bigwigs who damn care the security threat they pose to Pakistan and Pakistanis.

Pakistan has been facing an unstable security situation for years. Thousands have been killed and many others injured in the terrorist attacks. Although the security situation has significantly improved since launch of operation Zarb-e-Azb in mid-June 2014, terror attacks have not just dropped a bit. It is down by three quarters in the last two years.
A latest study conducted by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) shows that incidents of terrorism were down by 30 percent in 2016 as compared to the previous year.
The decline is attributed to the successful military operation in the tribal areas, once considered a stronghold of local and foreign militant groups.
Pakistan started implementing the new anti-terror strategy in the aftermath of massacre committed by Deobandi Tehreek-e-Taliban terrorists at an army-run school in Peshawar in December 2014.
The number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan may have declined in 2016 but the year witnessed some major attacks in terms of casualties. Authorities claim that the recent attacks were the sign of desperation on the part of militants who suffered serious setbacks as a result of the government’s intense anti-terror campaign in the last couple of years.
Details of this year’s major incidents of terrorism-related violence in Pakistan have been mentioned below:
Jan 13: A suicide blast near a polio vaccination center killed at least fourteen people including 12 policemen and injured more than ten in Satellite Town area of Quetta.
The policemen had gathered outside the centre for security of polio workers, who are frequently subjected to terrorist attacks in Pakistan, particularly in the violence-wracked province of Balochistan, of which Quetta is the capital.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack.
JAN 19: A suicide bomber killed at least 10 people in a rush-hour attack on a market on the outskirts of Peshawar..
JAN 20: Around four terrorists entered Bacha Khan University in Charsadda district, roughly 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the city of Peshawar, killing 21 people and injuring more than 15.
All four attackers were killed as police, soldiers and special forces launched a ground and air operation at the university.
FEB 06: At least nine people were killed and 35 wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up near a military convoy in Pakistan’s western city of Quetta.
FEB 18: Militants shot and killed at least nine security forces personnel in two separate attacks in a volatile northwestern region, security and government officials said.
Two members of the Khasadar paramilitary force on guard duty were shot dead, followed by an attack on a village checkpost in Akar that killed seven, said Naveed Akbar, a senior government official in Mohmand.
MARCH 08: A suicide bomber killed 17 people and injured 31 in Charsadda district in northwest Pakistan.
The bomber, whom police said was aged around 20 and had up to six kilograms (13 pounds) of explosives strapped to his chest, attacked as lawyers and litigants were arriving at a court complex during the morning rush hour in the town of Shabqadar.
Tehreek-e-Taliban’s Jamat-ul-Ahrar faction had claimed responsibility for the attack.
MARCH 16: A bomb planted on a bus carrying Civil Secretariat employees officials exploded in Peshawar, killing at least 15 people and injuring more than 30.
The bus was taking dozens of government employees to work from Mardan when the bomb went off near Sunehri Masjid in Peshawar, a busy area of the northwestern city.
March 27: A suicide bomber killed more than 76 people including many children in Lahore’s Gulshan Iqbal Park crowded with families in the eastern city of Lahore.
MARCH 31: A car explosion killed at least four people in Pakistan’s northwestern frontier. The explosion completely destroyed a car, which was going to the South Waziristan tribal region from the northwestern town of Lakki Marwat.
Police said that it was still unclear whether explosives were being carried in the vehicle or if somebody planted a bomb underneath the car.
APRIL 19: One person was killed and 10 others sustained injuries in a suicide blast targeting Mardan Excise and Taxation Department.
The blast happened at about 12 pm when a suicide bomber blew himself up after entering a government tax collection office in the downtown area of the district.
About 30 to 35 people were present in the office when the blast occurred.
APRIL 21: Terrorists shot dead seven policemen guarding a polio vaccination team in Karachi. Eight gunmen carried out the killings in two separate attacks in the city’s western Orangi Town neighbourhood.
A faction of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for the attack.
MAY 24: A policeman embraced martyrdom and three others were wounded after a bomb planted on a roadside exploded when they were on a routine patrol in the restive southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta..
Four pedestrians were also wounded in the blast.
MAY 25: Gunmen killed three paramilitary soldiers after opening fire on their vehicle in Peshawar.
The drive-by shooting took place on the city’s Ring Road.
JUNE 24: At least three persons were killed and more than eighteen others injured in a blast on Airport Road near Almo Chowk in Quetta.
JUNE 29: Gunmen on a motorcycle killed four paramilitary soldiers in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, a day after four policemen were killed.
JULY 26: Unidentified gunmen killed two army soldiers including Lance Naik Abdul Razzaq and Sepoy Khadim Hussain in a hit-and-run attack in the southern port city of Karachi.
Two gunmen escaped on a motorbike after firing several shots at the moving military vehicle in Karachi’s busy Saddar district.
AUG 09: A suicide bomber targeted the emergency services ward of Quetta’s Civil Hospital, killing more than 70 people and leaving scores injured.
The bomber struck as more than 100 mourners, mostly lawyers and journalists, crowded into the emergency department to accompany the body of Advocate Bilal Anwar Kasi who was gunned down earlier that day.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) splinter group, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), claimed responsibility for the bombing.
AUG 25: Unidentified attackers killed six people, including five police officers, when they ambushed a convoy near Gurdan area in Balochistan province.
The convoy headed by a senior local administration official, Naeem Gichki, was passing by an abandoned checkpost of the tribal police in two vehicles when they were attacked by a group of up to seven people, who were hiding in the post.
SEP 02: At least 14 people were killed and more than 50 were wounded after a suicide bomber attacked the district court in the city of Mardan.
SEP 16: A Taliban suicide bomber killed at least 28 people and wounded dozens more as they attended Friday prayers at a mosque in a northwestern Pakistani tribal area.
The bombing took place in the village of Butmaina in the Mohmand tribal district bordering Afghanistan where the army has been fighting against Taliban militants.
OCT 07: Two explosions targeting military personnel on a passenger train killed at least six people and wounded 19 others in Pakistan’s troubled southwestern Balochistan province.
The attack, claimed by the separatist Baloch Liberation Army, came as the Rawalpindi-bound Jaffer Express was passing the town of Machh, 55 kilometres (35 miles) east of Balochistan’s provincial capital Quetta.
OCT 14: Three FC personnel were shot dead in Sabzal Road area of Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan.
NOV 12: At least 52 persons were killed and 102 others were injured in an explosion at the shrine of Shah Norani in Khuzdar District of the Balochistan.
Officials say the bomb blast took place while hundreds of followers were present, taking part in the dhamal, which is staged every sunset.
Because the shrine is in rough, hilly terrain, rescue efforts were difficult.
NOV 14: At least five tribesmen, who are members of the peace committee, were shot dead by unidentified militants in the Kamar Khel area of Bara tehsil in Khyber Agency of FATA.

Speaking for the rights of minorities is called "Hate Speach" in pakistan

Speaking for the rights of minorities is called "Hate Speach" in pakistan.

An FIR was registered on Saturday against Shaan Taseer, son of slain Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, for alleged ‘hate speech’ after he sent a greeting out to fellow countrymen on the occasion of Christmas.
Islampura police station received an application from its SHO Nasir Hameed and subsequently booked Shaan under Section 295-A of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) without naming him in the report.
However, religious organisation Sunni Tehreek is pressing the police to register a case against Shaan under Section 295-C of PPC.
Personality of the year: Shahbaz Taseer
According to the SHO, he received a video message in a USB wherein a man was wishing his viewers Merry Christmas and requesting fellow countrymen to pray for minority members being exploited by, what he called, the “inhumane blasphemy law”.
The man also requested prayers for blasphemy victims including Asia Bibi, Nabeel Masih and their families, and all other Pakistanis languishing in jails on charges of blasphemy, the SHO added.
According to the FIR, the man who made the speech in the video had made a mockery of the blasphemy law and hurt religious sentiments of Muslims.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Shaan said, “The state [seems to be] retreating whenever or wherever the mob appears to exact blood for imagined slights. Whereas the state should come into action when violent mobs arise [but] it retreats and even assists it. To find hate speech in today’s Pakistan not in the ranks of the ASWJ or the Lal masjid but in a Christmas message is the stuff of satire. It reminds me of a 50 50 skit.”
Shahbaz Taseer recovered from Balochistan after five years in captivity
Meanwhile, Sunni Tehreek Lahore chapter president Mujahid Abdul Rasool told The Express Tribune that he had filed an application at Mughalpura police station for registration of an FIR against Shaan under Section 295-C of PPC.
He accused the police of trying to protect Shaan by registering FIR against an unidentified man despite the fact that the man in the video had introduced himself as Shaan Taseer.
Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer was attacked and killed in a firing incident in Islamabad’s Kohsar market. He was shot by one of his security guards, an elite force personnel, who has been identified as Malik Mumtaz Hussain.

Pakistan - Lessons we never learn

Saad Khattak

In its 70 years of history the majority of this great country remains deprived of justice, merit and fair play. We are generally in a state of discontent within ourselves while external enemies miss no opportunity to exploit these self-created cleavages to retard our rightful aspirations of becoming a great country. From KPK to Sind to Balochistan there are voices with varying intensities being raised for the treatment being meted out to them by the centre? While federating units everywhere do raise their concerns for the rights of its people, what is alarming in our case is the attitude with which these issues are taken. Besides perpetuating internal dissention, the issues have been a valuable card in the hands of inimical forces to exploit the gaps thus impinging our political and economic stability. It is therefore, essential to highlight these issues and suggest a possible way forward if there is a genuine desire for across the board unity and prosperity.
Over the last 15 years the country is in a perpetual state of internal war. As a part of global effort against terrorism, Pakistan has paid the heaviest price both in men and material. The war, as a consequence, also created a great divide between the state and the people of the directly affected areas. Despite the best of efforts to minimise the impact by the state, who will answer for the agonies of the people who lost their innocent near-and-dears besides having been evicted from their ancestral abode and displaced to camps? While for some it may be a no go area to highlight these aspects but people who have a feel of these areas owe it to the integrity of this great country to say the least. In KPK including FATA where the major war was being fought, the political government happily outsourced everything to the military withdrawing from its fundamental obligations to the people who elected them. In FATA the available system of governance was destroyed by the Taliban in the beginning and then subsequently marginalised by the military creating a political vacuum that remains genuinely unfilled to this day. With some TDPs still waiting to be resettled to their ancestral abode, the government is still struggling to decide the fate of FATA, mostly without taking the genuine stakeholders on board.
Balochistan is another sad story of injustices and exploitation inflicted on its common people both by successive governments and tribal chieftains. Both stakeholders share the sin for ulterior motives at the cost of its poor population. Successive provincial governments, mostly corrupt to the core, were easily manipulated and used both by the powers in the centre and foreign and domestic companies busy in the loot and plunder of its resources. Over involvement of the centre both during political and military regimes in its affairs has always been seen negatively by its people, further adding to its historical trust deficit with the centre. While war on terror in Afghanistan has seriously impacted the Pashtoon belt, sectarian influence mainly from neighbouring countries has dangerously infected the Baloch population giving space to terrorist organisations like Lashker-e-Jhangvi, further adding to the polarisation and alienation within the province.
What needs to be done? While there can be no magical solution, however it remains primarily the responsibility of those ruling Islamabad to effect a change for the better. I will address KPK and FATA first. One, the issue confronted was of flawed political and governance system that existed and was followed for years with ample vacuum existing available to be exploited by those with hard power. The Taliban did it and were subsequently defeated by a superior force with the backing of the state’s machinery. The ultimate fate of FATA therefore needs to be decided taking the local stakeholders on board. A fair and impartial referendum on whether to join KPK or be a separate province may be the right choice towards a solution. Two, the devastation inflicted on the region and its people should be attended to urgently even if it is at the cost of freezing development in other areas for a certain period of time. Three, till such time local infrastructure is developed, and as it is partially done, FATA’s youth should be extended general and technical education in settled areas on a war footings. A dedicated setup needs to be raised both at the centre and KPK to oversee this for next 15 to 20 years at the minimum.
On Balochistan; One, Its high time that the centre, including establishment, remove its misgivings about the people of Balochistan having the ability and right to rule themselves. Excessive interferences over the years from the centre, besides causing alienation has developed a perpetual mistrust between the centre and province. Two, Balochistan deserves to be developed at priority. The amount of resources that has been extracted from it for years would continue to fall in the realm of exploitation till such time its fruits are not shared with its actual owners. This also holds good for CPEC related benefits. Years of despondency and mistrust can only be addressed through concerted efforts by the state to attend to this neglected people if they are to be seen as proud Pakistanis. To begin with the federal government may pick up one district in remote Balochistan and convert it into a model district, to be followed by the remaining through a phased programme in concert with provincial government. Three, with increasing interferences from outside due to CPEC, the central and provincial governments and the military must remain on one page to confront the challenges. In this regard the political instrument must remain predominant sharing full responsibility rather than taking refuge in the role the military is asked to perform. Four, the right thing done during the period of General Musharraf was the conversion of B Areas into A Areas. This was subsequently undone by the following political government and its ulterior motives. The sooner the entire province is once again put under one set of laws, the better.
Our handling of FATA during the War on Terror, and Balochistan over the years, has numerous lessons for us. Unfortunately successive political and military leadership only resorted to those policies that helped them politically in perpetuating their rules. While our problems are enormous, the leadership has hardly demonstrated vision and statesmanship to see through these beyond their short term interests. Can there be a miracle of an urgent realisation and immediate change of hearts? A million dollar question that remains to be answered.

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