Thursday, February 2, 2017

2 February: First Anniversary of Martyrs of Pakistan International Airlines

By Valeed Khan

On 2 February, 2016, two workers of PIA were killed while dozens of other protestors were injured when paramilitary forces of the Pakistan Rangers and Sindh Police indiscriminately opened fire on a rally of hundreds of PIA workers.  These workers were protesting against the privatization of PIA being carried out under the dictates of IMF.
Workers of Pakistan International Airways (PIA) were protesting on all airports of the country against this draconian policy for many weeks prior to this incident, through token strikes and demonstrations, but the government would not accept their demand to end privatization. On 2 February, workers gathered in big numbers at Karachi Airport and marched towards the Jinnah Terminal against the planned privatization of the national flag carrier. Before the gunfire, the Sindh Police had viciously baton charged the hundreds of gathered workers. But when the workers could not be subdued with batons, the paramilitary Rangers outfit were called in, whose first and only act of crowd control was indiscriminate firing on peacefully protesting men and women. As a result, two workers were killed while many others were injured. In this brutal act of repression the federal government of PML(N), led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif;  the paramilitary Rangers force, controlled by the Pakistan Army, were equally responsible. All the other political parties in Parliament support the policy of privatization as well, and none have raised any outcry against this brutality.
This brutal murder of two workers led to a complete strike of PIA workers across the country in which not a single domestic or International flight could fly for eight days. This was unprecedented in the history of this country, and expressed the sheer strength of working class. This strike got huge support from workers of other departments, and solidarity was expressed by unions of railways, electricity workers (WAPDA), steel mills, and others. At that time 68 public sector departments were being privatized by the government and workers were protesting against this privatization in almost all departments. Most notably, the WAPDA movement was at its peak. WAPDA is the largest union of workers in the country, as many as 100,000 unionized workers, and leads the trade union movement. But the leadership of this union failed to connect WAPDA with this strike of PIA workers.  Even though during the PIA workers’ strike many meetings were held by various unions in other departments to express solidarity with this strike, unfortunately, due to the lack of courageous leadership and the betrayal of many union leaders, this could not be transformed into a general strike throughout the whole country. But at least, after a long absence, the question of general strike was posed in front of unions and workers.
Another important aspect was the lack of any political platform which could unite or even support the working class for this general strike.
In the end, the strike was unable to achieve its desired goal and, believing the hollow promises of the government representatives of ending privatization, workers returned to work. Soon after, a huge wave of victimization was launched against the workers, and “show cause” notices were sent to more than three hundred workers for participating in the strike. The government also reiterated that it will continue with its privatization policy, whatever the cost may be.
This clearly shows the intentions of this government, which killed the workers to pursue its anti-people policy. One year has passed since this blackest incident in the history of Pakistan’s anti-privatization struggle, but not a single person has been arrested or put on trial, and there is no hope of such action by this government. Rather, workers are being targeted in the vilest possible way under the age-old “disciplinary action” witch hunt. But instead of cooling off, the fires of revolt are still smoldering and getting ready to burst forth in a raging inferno. In reality, the struggle of PIA workers is, in fact, a part of the struggles of workers all over the world against the tyranny of the capitalist system.
The regime of Nawaz Sharif, since coming to power in 2013, has carried out a program of massive cuts, privatizations, and taxation which has broken the backs of common people. While the economic program is being dictated by the international imperialist financial institutions (IMF, World Bank, etc.), all the factions of the ruling class, along with military and civilian bureaucracies, the judiciary, security agencies, and local capitalists are busy looting and plundering the wealth and resources produced by the toiling masses through commissions, kickbacks, tax evasions, and purchase of public sector enterprises at give-away prices.
A clear example is that of Federal Minister for Petroleum and Energy Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who owns a private airline, Air Blue, which is flourishing and making huge profits while PIA always shows a loss. After coming to power, this minister has used his influence to change the routes of international flights and transfers of staff of PIA in ways that benefit his own private airline.
These rulers want to sell more and more in less time so they can pocket as much as they can through these auctions. But the biggest hurdle in path of this gravy train is the working class, which is determined to fight—the reflection of which we have seen in various movements of different sections of society in the last couple of years such as young doctors, nurses, hospital workers, electricity workers (WAPDA), teachers, students of colleges and universities, railway workers, the national telephone services workers (PTCL), farmers, NADRA (National Database and Registration Authority) workers, PIA workers, Port Qasim workers, Pakistan Steel Mills workers—in short, almost all sections of the working class and youth have participated in some form of struggle against privatizations. Though these movements have not yet succeeded in ending the privatization completely, they have been able to delay privatization, deregulation, downsizing, and cuts for some time. One example is the case of PIA, where privatization has been delayed at least for one year now. But after each delay the state attacks more viciously. This new normality for the labour movement in Pakistan is posing new questions, not only for a capable leadership for the labour movement, but also on the political front. There is as yet no political party at the moment which oppose this policy of privatization and connects with the aspirations of the working class.
After failing to privatize PIA and other departments through traditional methods, the government has come up with new plans. First they started to divide the airline into two separate entities, PIA -1 and PIA-2, in order to divide the strength of workers and make this public asset more convenient to sell and more lucrative for buyers. The splitting of PIA into PIA Premier has not worked either, and it has become another financial burden on this airline, which some decades ago was one of the top ten airlines in the world. This experiment in the airline at the expense of the taxpayers has failed spectacularly, costing millions of rupees every month, and is bleeding PIA dry.
Now the government has come up with the policy of floating the shares of various public sector departments in the Pakistan Stock Exchange, where interested investors can buy these shares. These departments include some WAPDA and PIA units. Recent announcements by the government also suggests plans of firing 3500 PIA workers by the end of 2017, while four units of the airline—catering, flight training, engineering, and cargo services—will be converted into separate business units and sold off before the end of the year. The government also plans to sell off a 49% stake in the airline by the end of the year, for which all the planning has already been finalized. The government contends that the airline has been operating at a loss for many decades, that the state cannot keep on feeding this white elephant, and that, due to its inability to run an airline, incidents like the crash of flight PK-661 will increase in the coming years.
Looking at PIA today, no sane person will believe that this is the same airline which was pride of the skies in the 60s and 70s and considered one of the premier airlines of the world, an airline which has all the facilities and amenities needed to run an airline from the ground up, from flight training, engineering, cabin crew training, cargo, and catering, to the maintenance of airports and airplanes. This is an airline which has fathered various other airlines in the Middle East, the Far East, and Africa. From humble beginnings after colonial independence, the airline remained profitable till the early 90s while providing cheap transportation facilities to the people. Millions of Pakistani workers are living abroad, especially in the Gulf States, who travel via this airline. Remittances from these workers are a major source of income for Pakistan. While these workers face brutal exploitation in these countries, they save money for several years to take flights back home to meet their families. If PIA is privatized, these workers would not be able to come back home even after a decade, because many routes will stop operating and fares will skyrocket.
The first steps towards the privatization of PIA were taken in early 90s, when the “Open Skies” policy was implemented and landing rights were granted to foreign airlines, giving them unfettered access to airports, facilities, and passengers. Extremely profitable local and international routes were given away for pennies. Many departments of the airports have been privatized over the years, and many airports have also been shut down. The fleet has not been upgraded, and even if new airplanes have been brought in, they are either used, leased from other airlines, or new ones leased on extremely expensive and detrimental agreements. The corrupt ruling class and the sycophantic management of PIA—which is appointed, incidentally, by whichever government is in power—is involved in millions of dollars of corruption, kickbacks, false invoicing, and other measures. Various managements over the years have plundered the airline so much that one former managing director now has his own private airline competing with the national carrier while others are running various facilities of different airports on contract. The rulers, including all elite sections of the state, use the airline as their personal taxis, as evident by the regular visits of the Prime Minister to the UK for health checkups, and the most recent visit to Turkmenistan, where a plane remained on the tarmac for the duration of his visit. Whole airplanes are appropriated, to be filled with freeloaders and family, and the cost is borne by the taxpayers. Further destruction of the airline is assured by zero hiring and new training of the staff. The corrupt pillar of a corrupt capitalist state, the media, screams from its pulpit of lies that PIA has the highest ratio of workers-to-plane in the world, but what is not told is that this calculation includes all the staff, from ground crew to cabin crew, control tower staff to cargo handlers, and the pilots. Another propaganda point which is a constant feature of lies is that there is a huge burden of wages on the airline—but what is never said is whose wages they are talking about. The largest portion of wages goes to the management and the many directors, whose only job is to draw hundreds of thousands of rupees worth of wages while plundering and abusing the facilities of PIA. Current CEO Bernd Hildenbrand’s take-home salary is reportedly $30,000 a month, while 214 directors and managers are getting pay of more than Rs. 0.5 million or $4,600 per month each, excluding house rents and other perks and privileges. Out of a total workforce of around 15,000, in a country where the minimum wage is Rs. 14,000 per month, or $130 per month, this is huge plunder. The collective pay of all the workers of PIA constitutes a very small proportion of total expenditures. Another claim made is that all the profitable airlines of the world are private airlines, which is another attempt at lies, falsehood, and deceit. Since the world capitalist crisis of 2008, the airline industry as a whole is in decline and loss. The few airlines which are profitable, e.g. Middle East airlines like Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Airlines, are in fact run by the oil-rich states and are heavily subsidized, from fuel costs to facilities usage, along with fewer working staff than required, working on hellish schedules.
The policy of privatization, accompanied by corruption, sycophancy, nepotism, and conscious efforts at destruction of viability and brand of PIA, in order to force through its privatization, have now taken on horrific proportions. Staff shortages, and massive exploitation of the current staff; preferential treatment of private and foreign airlines; old airplanes; and ever increasing cuts in state investment have resulted in the incident of 7 December 2016, when flight PK-661, an ATR plane on a domestic flight from Chitral to Islamabad crashed, killing all 47 people on board, including 5 cabin crew. The death of a prominent mullah in the crash was hyped by the media to avoid accountability for the crash, and no assurances were given as to whether such incidents will be avoided in the future, and that the safety of PIA workers and passengers will be assured. Instead, this incident is being used as a pretext to further speed up the privatization process, and the government has tried its best to bury the whole incident as quickly as possible. This has further increased the likelihood of such incidents happening more frequently in the future. The government has already converted the national flag carrier from a publicly owned entity into a private limited company through a bill in the parliament to make the selloff easier. Political parties of every color and ilk are party to this black crime.
The question arises as to why the government is hell-bent on selling a gargantuan publicly owned enterprise for peanuts, which no single company or even a consortium of companies can buy outright? The clear reasons are contracts, kickbacks, collusion with the Qatari and Turkish ruling elites and the local private airline operators; dreams of housing societies and shopping malls on the exclusive and lucrative lands of PIA; and the plunder of investor sub-companies of the airline and various lucrative local and international hotels owned by the airline. PIA owns elite hotels near JFK airport in New York and at Champs Elysee in Paris, along with many others. For this reason, the airline and the airports will be cut up like sacrificial lambs, and various pieces will be sold off to partners and cronies.
Before the February 2016 strike, the government had been lying through its teeth, saying that the process of privatization would not affect a single worker and that the airline would be turned into a profit-making entity. To destroy this edifice of deceit, one does not need to go too far. When Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) was being privatized in 2005, similar assurances and promises were given. At that time a military dictator, Pervez Musharraf, was ruling the country, and now a so-called democratic transition has been made. But the policies and tactics are all the same. The balance sheet after the privatization of PTCL speaks for itself. In the last 11 years, 38,000 workers have been laid off while the profit of the enterprise has decreased from Rs. 30 billion ($280 million) to Rs. 8 billion ($74 million), which now goes straight into the pockets of Etisalat (the Dubai-based company which bought PTCL). The workers who were laid off largely remain destitute and unemployed. In the last couple of years, little new hiring has been done, all on contract or daily wages with maximum exploitation and none of the basic facilities of permanent employment. Whatever money was earned by the state after selling off 26% of its shares and giving up management control of PTCL has been spent in laying off the workers and paying off debts and technical fees. The total value of PTCL has dropped from Rs. 358 billion ($3.3 billion) to Rs. 53 billion ($495 million), which means that the remaining shares of the state have lost a total value of around Rs. 225 Billion ($2.1 billion). The stocks are in shambles, while the private cellular companies have not only increased their market share, but now a majority of the profits from the market flows into these private companies’ accounts. The condition and the crisis of PTCL perpetuated in the last eleven years is enough to open up the eyes of every worker in Pakistan and make very clear the anti-labor policies of the state. Now the remaining 16,000 PTCL workers are being laid off, after which there will not a single permanent employee in the company.
The year 2017 is a critical year for the public enterprises in the line of fire for privatization. The government has to fulfill its commitment to the IMF by fast-tracking the privatization of PIA, all the companies of WAPDA, and Pakistan Steel Mills. The government has been trying to privatize different public entities since 2013, and has had some success in healthcare, education, banks, water, sewerage, and municipality, where large portions have been put on contractual running. The government has divested almost all of its shares, but has not been successful in many other departments, due to fierce resistance by workers. It is becoming increasingly clear to the workers that instead of fighting isolated struggles in their own departments and enterprises, the struggle has to be taken to every section of the working class, and the workers need to unite as a class to fight against the state policies of privatization.
For this, while it is necessary to build a loyal, audacious, and responsible labour leadership, there is also an urgent need to form a common platform, with a common strategy and program, through which not only the privatization policy, privatization commission, and privatization ministry is lobbed off to the dustbin, but also all the industries and entities which have already been privatized could be renationalized, along with all the other commanding heights of economy. Every worker must be given a minimum wage equal to 10 grams of gold; the right to unionize must be must be fully enforced; and the state must not only centrally plan and invest in all departments, but also ensure quality employment for youth.
2 February 2017 will not only be the first anniversary of the heroic struggle of workers of PIA against privatization, but also the anniversary of the first martyrs, Anayat Raza and Saleem Akbar, of the anti-privatization struggle in Pakistan. This day is not only a pledge to the martyrs and workers of PIA to continue the workers’ struggle, but also a day which will prove to be a milestone in the class struggle for years to come.
Red Workers Front is organizing protests and public meetings in different cities across the country to observe this day as a Black Day in the history of Pakistan. RWF has also produced a pamphlet in large numbers with following program and demands:
  • A murder case of PIA employees should be registered against the Prime Minister, Chief Minister Sindh, and the DG Rangers, and immediate action taken against them.
  • An irreconcilable struggle against all anti-worker political parties and those trade union leaders who support privatization.
  • End to Privatization. End of Privatization Commission and Ministry of Privatization.
  • End to all anti-worker policies in already privatized institutions, and for their renationalization.
  • All ad hoc and contractual employees should be made permanent in all government departments. End of contractual labour in private industry.
  • Minimum wage should equal 10 grams of gold.
  • Complete Independence of trade union activities.
  • Cancellation of all agreements with and debts to the IMF and World Bank.
  • All private banks and the commanding heights of economy should be nationalized, without any compensation, under the democratic control of workers.
  • All the income from above two points should be spent on health, education, energy, and other welfare projects for people.
Workers of the world unite!

Pakistan's Interior Minister Ch. Nisar failed to present facts about misuse of blasphemy laws in Senate of Pakistan

The Central Secretariat of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC in a press note have issued a statement of Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of PCC to express concern on facts presented by Interior Minister of Pakistan Ch. Nisar Ali in Senate of Pakistan that Blasphemy laws have not targeted Christians and other religious minorities but Muslims.

Responding to question in Senator Begum Hasnain in Senate of Pakistan Ch. Nisar refrain from presenting data of violence on pretext to blasphemy laws in Punjab Province of Pakistan where it is extensively used on petty issues and to settle scores against Christians.

According Reuters, recently a statement was issued by Senator Farhat Ullah Babar saying that Senate’s committee on Human Rights was all set to take up debate on the inevitable issues of how to prevent the misuse of blasphemy laws in the country. He stated that Senate’s Committee will start discussions on blasphemy laws soon.

Senator Farhat said that this discussion will be centered on the recommendations contained in a report which is 24 years old. He further asserted that this will be the first time ever, when a parliamentary body will be considering a formal proposal on how to prevent the misuse of the blasphemy laws.

A Pakistani Senate committee is set to debate how to prevent the country's blasphemy laws being applied unfairly, despite opposition from religious conservatives who support legislation that carries a mandatory death penalty for insulting Islam.

Whenever, political forces intend to stop misuse of blasphemy laws then organs of powerful establishment of Pakistan like Ch. Nisar Ali are pushed forward to protect controversial blasphemy laws which were introduced with capital punishment by a Military Dictator General Zia-Ul-Haq.

Dr. Nazir Bhatti added “blasphemy laws are misused in Pakistan by Muslim majority to settle scores and punish religious minorities but when it is used against Muslims then Islamic Scholars come to rescue Muslims as they did Tanveer Jamshed and Ms. Lodhi”

“Christian mother of five Asia Bibi is sentenced to death on charges of blasphemy and she have publically denied defiling name of Holy Prophet of Muslims but still she is behind bars and none of Muslim scholar speaks in her innocence” said Nazir Bhatti

On February 1, 2017, Interior Minister of Pakistan Ch. Nisar Ali commenting on registration of blasphemy cases against Muslim missing bloggers that how case can be registration without his acknowledgment but he never care when blasphemy case was registered against Christians in Punjab nor he took note of killing of Christians and attack on Christian life and property or burning them alive.

Same day, many famous Muslim religious leaders appeared on Geo TV program Ajj Khanzada Ke Sath and talked about misuse of blasphemy laws on blasphemy laws against Muslim bloggers but they never uttered a word when blasphemy law misused against Christian men and women.

Dr. Nazir Bhatti appealed Senate of Pakistan to move forward to stop misuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan against Christians and other religious minorities. - See more at:

Pakistan: Elderly Christian embroiled in fallacious blasphemy case in Gujranwala

Madeeha Bakhsh

An elderly Pakistani Christians faces perilous situation after blasphemy accusations were leveled against him. 70-year-old, Mukhtar Masih has been embroiled in a blasphemy case; where the accusers had claimed that Mukhtar had written blasphemous messages.

The respondent is resident of Lambanwali, a village in District Gujranwala. Accusations were brought against Mukhtar Masih, on Saturday 28th January 2017. Consequently, Mukhtar and his entire family were detained by the police. Those arrested included, Mukhtar’s daughter Saima, Anjum Mukhtar, his children Romilla, Nehmeeia.
In keeping with a report by British Pakistani Christian Association; at around 10 at night police arrived at Mukhtar Masih’s house and 10 police men scurried into the house and detained the entire family. The Christian family was later told that blasphemy accusations had been brought against them. An FIR number 49/17 has been registered against Mukhtar Masih. The First Information Report (FIR) invoked Sections 295-A and 298 of the Pakistan Penal Code.
BPCA reported that the police was reluctant to release the Christian family, under 295-A Mukhtar Masih is likely to face a imprisonment of 10 years while there are assumptions that Section 295-C might be invoked in order to aggravate the punishment to death penalty.
BPCA report further stated that the Station Head Officer (SHO) Gohar Abbas revealed that local villagers had brought blasphemy accusations against Mukhtar. In this connection the an FIR was registered at the Rahwali Police Station; in which the it was maintained that the respondent had written blasphemous letters containing derogatory comments towards Prophet Muhammad and the Quran. These letters were received by a local Imam on January 26.
The complainants in this case include the Imam of the local mosque Qari Shahbaz Hussain, Sabir Ali, Pervaiz Ahmed, Muhammed Anwer and Muhammed Mansha. Police also maintains that the letters were currently in possession of police.
Anjum Mukhtar told BPCA: “These charges are completely false my father is innocent. We tried explaining this to the police but they still arrested us and they beat my elderly father and I with their lathi trying to force a confession.

I am sure that if you look at the letters the writing will not match my father’s. He would never dare enact such an offensive crime knowing it would endanger his family. Some men have been chasing us for our property and were offering a very low price. They threatened to kill us if we did not leave and now this has happened. There is never any peace for Christians in Pakistan Muslim’s hate us.”


Notorious terrorists of banned Deobandi outfit ASWJ (Sipah-e-Sahaba) threw a hand grenade on a Shia mosque and Imam Bargah in district central of Karachi with a view to target Shia Muslims.
Fortunately, Shia Muslims escaped unhurt when the bomb thrown on Imam Bargah Saqa-e-Sakina/Masjid-e-Nabavi in North Nazimabad Block Q on Tuesday night, could not explode.
Shia Muslims were coming out of the mosque after offering Maghrib/Isha prayers.
Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) cops defused the bomb. 

Fortunately, Shia Muslims escaped unhurt when the bomb thrown on Imam Bargah Saqa-e-Sakina/Masjid-e-Nabavi in North Nazimabad Block Q on Tuesday night, could not explode.
Shia Muslims were coming out of the mosque after offering Maghrib/Isha prayers. 
Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) cops defused the bomb.

Is Pakistan getting ‘Trumped’?


With one stroke of the pen Donald Trump last week slammed the doors on people from seven predominantly Muslim countries throwing the United States and the world into unprecedented chaos. This vile piece of legislation targeting people belonging to one particular religion smacks of the worst kind of racism the world has witnessed in recent history — and it is just the beginning.
Extreme vetting of travellers from Pakistan and Afghanistan has already been ordered and a complete ban on them is not being ruled out. The registration of the Muslim population in the US is also reportedly under consideration setting a cruel precedent somewhat reminiscent of Nazi rule.
Seemingly, the travel ban has been imposed to make the country more secure but there has not been any instance of a citizen of one of those seven countries being involved in terrorist activities in the US; in fact, all those countries have been the target of American military aggression and victims of terrorism themselves. Iraq particularly has been destroyed by the American invasion, the action Trump had strongly condemned during his election campaign.

The half-hearted action against the JuD and confinement of its leaders may not satisfy the global community.

No wonder such xenophobic actions taken by the Trump administration are being celebrated by jihadist groups like the militant Islamic State group. It has provided fuel to their radical narrative of Islam versus the West. A pro-IS website has described banning Muslims from entering America as a “blessed ban”. All the countries on the ban list have been fighting IS on their soil.
Notwithstanding the massive protests across the US and in western capitals, Trumpism seems unstoppable, making the world more dangerous and insecure. Understandably, more worried are Washington’s traditional allies with a reckless president at the helm of the world’s sole superpower which is the linchpin of the geopolitical order. Now this order is threatened by the policies of a rogue leader.
Understandably, Trump’s radical steps are cause for serious concern to Pakistan too. Notwithstanding the friendly phone conversation between the Pakistani prime minister and Trump soon after the latter’s election in November, the signals from Washington have not been encouraging. It was clear from the outset that the new administration would exert increasing pressure on Islamabad to crack down on Pakistani militant groups such as the Jamaatud Dawa.
True to character, the Sharif government waited passively for things to pass. But now there is sign of panic with Trump moving fast on his election promises and the impending threat of extending the travel ban to Pakistanis. The dramatic crackdown on the JuD and the decision to place Hafiz Saeed under house arrest highlights panic. Interestingly, the crackdown came hours after the publication of a report in a national daily claiming that Pakistan was threatened with sanctions if it did not act swiftly against the group.
For many years Islamabad had resisted pressure from Washington and other countries to clamp down on the groups that were still being protected under various pretexts despite Pakistan’s war against militancy. It was apparent that the JuD was the new banner for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the most lethal of Pakistani militant outfits that was banned in 2002 because of outside pressure.
Pakistan was forced to close down JuD offices after the outfit was put on the list of terrorist organisations by the United Nations. But the action was short-lived as a Lahore High Court bench found no grounds for banning the group, providing Islamabad with a convenient excuse to defy international pressure.
Hafiz Saeed roamed around freely addressing rallies and appearing on primetime TV, reinforcing international scepticism regarding Islamabad’s double standards in dealing with the scourge of militancy and extremism. The 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks involving members of the banned outfit intensified the call by the international community for action against the JuD and its leaders. The anger grew further after Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the carnage, was freed by the court. All this obscured the success in containing militant violence inside the country.
But now, the belated and somewhat half-hearted action against the JuD and confinement of its leaders may not satisfy the international community, particularly the Trump administration. The pressure will intensify to crack down on the banned militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad and its leader Maulana Masood Azhar who has resurfaced after keeping a low profile for several years.
The JeM disintegrated into various cells after being proscribed in 2002 and many of its senior members were involved in terrorist attacks inside Pakistan.
Maulana Azhar came into focus again late last year after JeM was accused of masterminding the attack on the Indian air force base in Pathankot. Cases have also been registered against some JeM leaders suspected of involvement in the attack. But Maulana Azhar has remained free. Pakistan has been able to block the move in the UN Security Council to declare him a terrorist with the help of China. But this can’t be sustained for long. It will be another test for Islamabad.
Yet another pressure point for Pakistan is the detention on treason charges of Dr Shakeel Afridi who helped CIA in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Trump had vowed to get him released and bring him to the US within days of his taking over. This presents a very tricky situation for the Pakistani government. It remains to be seen how Islamabad deals with this highly sensitive issue and avoids any punitive action by a rogue American administration.
Although the Trump administration still does not have a clear Afghan policy, the issue of how to deal with the crisis remains a source of conflict between Islamabad and Washington. There is some indication of continued US demand on Pakistan for taking action against the Haqqani network, the strongest faction of the Afghan Taliban believed to be operating from its sanctuary in Pakistan.
There is no doubt that Pakistan should have acted against the groups in its own national interests long ago. It will certainly bring more humiliation if we wait for the Trump whip. Have we not already been trumped?

Pakistan - India - Anchor of stability: the flawed perception

By Aqib Shaukat Paracha

The American defence initiative has pulled the South Asian region into a vulnerable environment; directly forcing Pakistan to build countermeasures — either by arms buildup or by diplomatic engagements.
This August will mark 70 years of the Indian subcontinent’s independence. The two south Asian nuclear states are, however, still figuring out the real matters of contention. With the time passing by, the foreign policies of both states are taking new dynamics. These dynamics are, thus, resulting in a multiplication and further exacerbation of the existing relations between Pakistan and India. A sizeable shift in India’s foreign policy has come with the PM Modi’s establishment. Today, India and the US are more affectionate towards each other than ever before. On the other side is the China-Pakistan economic partnership, which, besides the Indo-US partnership, is referred to as a variable in the stability paradox in South Asia. The China-Pakistan partnership neither entails any major conventional buildup nor has it promised to strategically compete for any state in the neighborhood or around. It remains obvious that by no mean Pakistan’s impression is questionable.
The strategic stability phenomenon in South Asia primarily banks upon the strategic landscape between Pakistan and India. Presently, both of these states are on the lowest grounds of their bilateral relations. The reason besides other destabilising variables is India’s destructive engagements with the US. Another igniting factor in the worsening of the bilateral relations is the strengthening of the defence relations between India and the US. A recent agreement signed between the US Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, and the Indian Defense Minister, Manohar Parrikar, has titled India as a “major defence partner” of the US. This accord will primarily boost their bilateral defence trade and will promote the co-production and co-development of defence-related equipment. Indian defence expenditure that experiences a major upward shift every year will definitely hit an evident hike after this agreement. The major defence partner status, along with other perks and privileges, will constrain India to be more vigilant about the transformation in Indo-Pacific, which they both refer to as Mutual Interest.
The Indo-US strategic partnership had seen unnatural advancement in the Obama administration. In the same years, Pakistan accomplished unusual successes in the war against terrorism. These successes paved the way for Pakistan to engage for the promotion of reliable regional setting. Also, Pakistan engaged in an unusual economic cooperative agreement i.e. the CPEC. Continually Pakistani authorities have made it clear that CPEC has no other gains other than forwarding its economic master plan. Pakistan has done sizeable work for the promotion of regional stability. But on the other hand, Indian conventional buildup and its tone of siding Pakistan have complicated the regional setting. In reciprocation to this Indian attitude, Pakistan has to consider balancing of conventional capabilities to ensure deterrence stability. During the US and Indian growing diplomatic relations; Pakistan faced a serious lack of trust in its relations with the US. Also, this Indian partnership is often quoted by many defence analysts as the manoeuvre to limit China’s regional and global expanding impression.
The US-India strategic partnership, which aims to boost both India’s nuclear and conventional capabilities, is seriously disconcerting for the South Asian environment. The recent defence accord between India and United States that paves the way for joint defence exercises marks a question mark on regional stability. It proves the Pakistani stance that American partnership with India causes distress among regional states of South Asia. To counter this strategic imbalance Pakistan maintains a legitimate deterrent capability that is necessary for the survival of this state. This day-by-day growing relation is also narrowing the future probability of favourable relations between Pakistan and United States. Certainly, Pakistan now has to bridge this gap between her relations with the US in order to balance the strategic output of Indo-US partnership. Further on, India’s acknowledgement of Cold Start Doctrine validity leaves no option for Pakistan other than improving its short-range missile capabilities that it considers more validated to respond to India’s military doctrine. The underlying facts behind India’s emerging detrimental capabilities are its diplomatic and defence ties with the United States. India portrays itself a reliable partner to the US for countering China Policy. The American defence initiative has pulled the South Asian region into a vulnerable environment; directly forcing Pakistan to build countermeasures — either by arms buildup or by diplomatic engagements.
India, which is referred by the US as an anchor of stability, must, therefore, realize its responsibility for promoting a conducive atmosphere for regional stability. That’s what India is shy off. Also, the prevailing regional situation nullifies the Indian efforts of being an anchor of stability. Pakistan being the other regional nuclear state is the only country in South Asia that has the ability to turn down the Indian hegemonic attitude. Pakistan has always opted ways to maintain stability but it’s always the other side to force Pakistan for preparing counterforce measures. Pakistan has also crushed the terrorist infrastructure and ratifies that no cross-border terrorism can take place from Pakistani territory. Correspondingly, Pakistan expects India to maintain desirable strategic equilibrium and stability that will in long run be beneficial for both states. As Pakistan consider Indian strategic engagements as a threat to its security, so this constrains Pakistan to opt for durable alternatives to meet the security challenges that are posed by the expanding India’s military and nuclear capabilities. Pakistan’s aspirations for the healthier strategic environment not in any way shall be taken as a compromise on Pakistan’s deterrent capabilities. Pakistani authorities have made it clear many times that maintaining nuclear deterrence is critical for Pakistan’s security.

Pakistan - Skewed Priorities

The Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) move to investigate Salman Haider and other missing social media activists for charges of blasphemy was met with censure by the public at large, and more recently, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar as well. While FIA has clarified a case has not been registered against any of those missing since January, – as the Interior Minister put it – “Who gave them the right to play with the emotions of the bloggers’ families? Without any proper investigation and proof how can they give such a statement?”
As the Minister stated, both the activists and their families have been through a lot in the past month.
In fact, some of the people FIA is looking to investigate have not yet returned; their families continue to suffer. Is the FIA seriously entertaining the wishes of the Shuhada Foundation on the complaint of one man, especially when there is very little proof that any of the activists committed blasphemy? The blasphemy allegations against the missing activists including Salman Haider were based on a malicious campaign on social media that began after their disappearance.
The government has called it out for what it is, and that makes it an open-and-shut case.
Even if we put the debate of the viability of the blasphemy law aside (a near impossible feat), FIA has often hesitated to investigate more prominent, high profile and even pressing cases; the hesitation with which all the accountability institutions of the country treated the Panama case is further proof that their priorities are woefully askew.
Additionally, what this indicates is that there are elements within FIA that are perfectly willing to allow extremist compulsions to be propagated in Pakistani society, and this must not be tolerated. The Interior Minister has taken notice of this incident, and it is hoped that the government moves beyond this and takes strict action.
However, Chaudhry Nisar’s swift reproach against reports of the FIA registering a case must also be commended.
The Interior Minister has faced a barrage of criticism in the past for the perceived inability to unequivocally treat all terrorists and extremists as enemies of the state. With the house arrest of Hafiz Saeed, and the Interior Minister looking to protect the activists, in the short term, Pakistan seems to be heading in the right direction with regards to its attitude on extremist thought. But all state institutions must be on the same page when it comes to dealing with cases that are sensitive to societal issues, particularly one as problematic as blasphemy.
Law enforcement agencies and accountability bodies must be strictly regulated, to ensure that our institutions remain immune to prevailing extremist mindsets.

Kuwaiti Visa Ban on 5 Muslim-majority countries, including Pakistan

Kuwait has suspended the issuance of visas for nationals of Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.
After US President Donald Trump's executive order banning seven Muslim-majority countries last Friday, the Kuwaiti government has told would-be migrants from the five banned nations to not apply for visas, as it is worried about the possible migration of radical Islamic terrorists, Sputnik International reported.
Under the executive order signed by Trump, refugees from all over the world will be denied US entry for 120 days while all immigration from so-called "countries with terrorism concerns" will be suspended for 90 days. The countries included in the US ban are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
Kuwait was the only nation to prohibit the entry of Syrian nationals prior to Trump's executive action. Kuwait City previously issued a suspension of visas for all Syrians in 2011.
A group of militants bombed a Shia mosque in 2015, killing 27 Kuwaiti nationals. A 2016 survey conducted by Expat Insider ranked Kuwait one of the worst nations in the world for expatriates, primarily due to its strict cultural laws.
As a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Kuwait has become embroiled in escalated tensions between the GCC and Iran. Washington has been a guarantor of GCC security since the early 1990s, according to a Congressional Research Service brief.
Observers have pointed out that most of the nations on Trump's list have substantial Muslim populations and are experiencing some form of economic or military conflict.


Asif Zardari calls for forging a global alliance to get rid of the scourge of terrorism 
Former president of Pakistan and president Pakistan Peoples Party Asif Ali Zardari held a meeting with former interior minister Senator Rehman Malik in London.
Both the leaders met on Wednesday in London. The matters related to challenges facing the country came under discussion. Both the leaders underlined the need for forging a global alliance to weed out terrorism.
Ex-president Zardari declared terrorism as international issue saying this menace has posed hazards to humanity. Pakistan is also facing scourge of terrorism and people of Pakistan have rendered more sacrifices than any other country in the war against terrorism, he underlined.
Asif Zardari stated the backbone of terrorists in Pakistan has been broken due to vibrant step and sacrifices of Pakistan Army, Nation but the formation of a global alliance is need of the hour to get rid of this menace.
“The global changes (after Donald Trump’s inauguration as the US President) were discussed,” said a statement issued by the office of Senator Malik here.
“It was decided that Pakistan should face the challenges with determination and continue its unprecedented fight against terrorism,” the statement added.
Asif Ali Zardari emphasised that Pakistan had sacrificed more than any other country in the war on terror. The PPPP president urged the world to acknowledge Pakistan’s role as a global alliance was the need of the hours to eliminate the menace of terrorism.
Rehman Malik on the occasion showed concern over the use of the term ‘Islamic terrorism’ which he believed would only benefit the terrorists.

Video Report - بلاول بھٹو زرداری کی وی او اے سے خصوصی گفتگو