Tuesday, February 7, 2017

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Water scarcity in Pakistan – A bigger threat than terrorism

A UNDP report says that Pakistani authorities are negligent about an impending water crisis that is posing a serious threat to the country's stability. Experts say the South Asian country is likely to dry up by 2025.
The major threat that Pakistan faces today is not Islamist terrorism but water scarcity. While the former makes headlines all over the world, the latter is an issue that is hardly discussed in the national and international media or by policymakers. But a recent UNDP draft report on the water crisis in Pakistan sheds light on a serious, albeit much-neglected, conflict the South Asian country is grappling with.
While discussing the UNDP report "Development Advocate Pakistan," Shamsul Mulk, former chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority, said that water policy is simply non-existent in Pakistan. Policymakers act like "absentee landlords" of water, he added.
"Because of this absentee landlordism, water has become the property of the landlords and the poor are deprived of their share," Mulk said.
Natur Umwelt Bodenerosion (picture alliance/ZUMA Press/PPI)
Pakistan hasn't built new dams since the 1960s, say experts
The draft report on water resources was prepared at the request of the ministry of water and power. Mulk said, however, the cabinet ministers never reviewed it.
Last year, the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) warned that the country may run dry by 2025 if the authorities didn't take immediate action. It said the majority-Muslim country touched the "water stress line" in 1990 and crossed the "water scarcity line" in 2005.
If this situation persists, Pakistan is likely to face an acute water shortage or a drought-like situation in the near future, predicted the PCRWR, which is affiliated with the South Asian country's Ministry of Science and Technology.
Expert Irfan Choudhry says the authorities lack the political will to tackle the problem.
"There are no proper water storage facilities in the country. Pakistan hasn't built new dams since the 1960s. What we see is political bickering over the issue. The authorities need to act now. We can store water for only 30 days, and it is worrisome," Choudhry told DW.
Climate change and poor management
Pakistan has the world's fourth highest rate of water use. Its water intensity rate - the amount of water, in cubic meters, used per unit of GDP - is the world's highest. This suggests that no country's economy is more water-intensive than Pakistan's.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Pakistan is already the third most water-stressed country in the world. Its per capita annual water availability is 1,017 cubic meters - perilously close to the scarcity threshold of 1,000 cubic meters. Back in 2009, Pakistan's water availability was about 1,500 cubic meters.
The bulk of Pakistan's farmland is irrigated through a canal system, but the IMF says in a report canal water is vastly underpriced, recovering only one-quarter of annual operating and maintenance costs. Meanwhile, agriculture, which consumes almost all annual available surface water, is largely untaxed.
Experts say that population growth and urbanization are the main reasons behind the crisis. The issue has also been exacerbated by climate change, poor water management, and a lack of political will to deal with the crisis.
"Pakistan is approaching the scarcity threshold for water. What is even more disturbing is that groundwater supplies - the last resort of water supply - are being rapidly depleted. And worst of all is that the authorities have given no indication that they plan to do anything about any of this," Michael Kugelman, South Asia expert at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center, told DW in an interview.
Blaming India
Yet, Pakistan blames India for its water crisis. The country's authorities say that New Delhi is not fulfilling its responsibilities under the Indus Waters Treaty - brokered by the World Bank in 1960 - as they voice concerns over India's construction of new dams.
Recently, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took up the dams issue with the World Bank. Sharif urged the Bank to play a "lead role" in resolving the water disputes between Pakistan and India by establishing a Court of Arbitration. But the international community, as well as the UNDP, holds Pakistan responsible for the dispute.
Kugelman says that the Pakistani authorities need to step up efforts to overcome the crisis, which is partly man-made. "First of all, Pakistan's leaders and stakeholders need to take ownership of this challenge and declare their intention to tackle it. Simply blaming previous governments, or blaming India, for the crisis won't solve anything. Next, the government needs to institute a major paradigm shift that promotes more judicious use of water," Kugelman emphasized.
Ashfaq Ahmed Sheikh, director of the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources, told DW that the authorities had already introduced several schemes in the cities of Sheikhupura and Sargodha and saved up to 50 percent of water used in the rice fields, without compromising on production. He called on the government to initiate more such projects all over the country.
Fueling tensions
The scarcity of water is also triggering security conflicts in the country. Experts say the economic impact of the water crisis is immense, and the people are fighting for resources. Three out of four Pakistani provinces blame the most populous and politically empowered province, Punjab, for usurping their water sources.
"The government is ignoring the interests of our province," Ayaz Lateef Palejo, a nationalist leader from the southern Sindh province, told DW. "There is massive corruption in the water sector, and we are unhappy with the situation," he added.
Kugelman also believes that the economic implications of the conflict are creating rifts among the population, which are likely to aggravate the security situation in the country.
"The political implications of the crisis have yet to be determined, but we can expect that if nothing is done and the situation gets worse, pressure on the political leadership will intensify. In the years ahead, this could lead to unrest-and, if things get sufficiently out of hand, perhaps even a military takeover. None of this can be ruled out. Such is the seriousness of the situation," said Kugelman.
"Some may say that loose nukes and Islamist militant takeovers are the big fear for Pakistan. For me, the nightmare is water scarcity, because in Pakistan it is very real and already upon us," the expert added.
Additional reporting by Sattar Khan, DW's correspondent in Islamabad.


A senior intelligence official who monitors sectarian terrorist groups in Karachi has said that that the interrogation reports of most of the terrorists of banned (Deobandi outfit) Lashkar-e-Jhangvi showed that they were recruited through the ASWJ, according to The News.

The News carried a report of Karachi-based Zia ur Rehman yesterday in which it quoted an intelligence official as saying that LeJ terrorists were in fact the men of the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba (ASWJ). Hence, the stance of Shia parties have been vindicated that there was no difference between the LeJ and the ASWJ.
Due to unveiling of this connection, proscribed Deobandi terrorist outfit ASWJ has been trying since long to distance itself from the LeJ in public and now its ringleader who is infamous for his takfiri hate-speeches Aurangzeb Farooqi has said that they denounce killings.
He is also trying to mislead media persons that takfiri slogans were not being allowed in his group but all the hatemongering supporters and ringleaders of the proscribed ASWJ continued to raise these takfiri slogans in their recent rallies.
Entire world bear witness to the fact that no action has been taken against the proscribed ASWJ despite its involvement in terrorist activities.


” د افغان کډوالو په موجودګي کې سرشمېرنه نه منو “

په مارچ مياشت په ټول پاکستان کې سرشمېرنه کېږي، خو په بلوچستان کې بلوڅ ملتپال وايي د
د ایین له مخې په پاکستان کې هر لس کاله وروسته سرشمېرنه کېږي.د ١٩٩٨م کال تر سرشمېرنې وروسته پکار وه بله سرشمېرنه په ٢٠٠٨ م يا ٢٠١٠م کال کې شوی وې، خو د امنيتي ستونځو له امله وځنډول شوه. د پاکستان سپریم کورټ تېر کال اعلان وکړ، چې سرشمېرنه به د سږ کال په مارچ کې کېږي.
خو د بلوڅو اکثر ملتپال ګوندونه اندېښنه لري، چې دا سرشمېرنه به بلوڅان په اقليت بدل کړي، ځکه چې دوی وايي په دې صوبه کې په لاکونو افغان کډوال اوسېږي او هغوى به هم په دې سرشمېرنه کې شامل کړل شي. د نېشنل ګوند مشر او د پاکستان د بندرونو او بېړيو مرکزي وزير حاصل بزنجو وايي، تر څو چې ټول بهرنيان خپلو هېوادونو ته نه وي ستانه شوي، دا سرشمېرنه ورته د منلو وړ نه ده:
«زموږ اندېښنه ده چې د بلوچستان په ډېرو ځايونو کې به د بدامنۍ له امله سرشمېرنه ونه شي او له دې ناامنۍ چې کوم بلوڅان بې کوره شوي دي، که سرشمېرنه وشي دا به نورې سياسي پېچلتياوې پيدا کړي. موږ وايو کله چې افغان کډوال خپل هېواد ته ستانه شي، بيا به مناسبه وي چې سرشمېرنه وشي»
د ١٩٩٨م کال په سرشمېرنه کې د بلوڅو هيڅ يوه ملتپال ګوند د افغان کډوالو په موجودګۍ کې د سرشمېرنې په اړه څه اندېښنه نه وه څرګنده کړې، خو دا ځل د بلوچستان نېشنل ګوند مشر اختر مېنګل چې د تېرې سرشمېرنې په مهال د بلوچستان اعلى وزير وو،د افغان کډوالو په موجودګۍ کې سرشمېرنه نه مني. د دې ګوند د اطلاعاتو مسوول غلام نبي مرى وايي:
«موږ د سرشمېرنې مخالف نه يو، خو موږ وايو دا وخت زيات شمېر بلوڅان په خپلو سيمو کې موجود نه دي، څلوېښت لکه افغان مهاجرين دلته اوسېږي، چې غيرقانوني شناختي کارډونه يې جوړ کړي دي او اويا فيصده بلوڅان پاکستانى شناختي کارډ نه لري، په داسې حال کې که سرشمېرنه وشي، بلوڅان به په اقليت بدل شي»
بلخوا د پښتونخوا ملي عوامي ګوند صوبايي مشر سنیټر عثمان خان کاکړ وايي، سرشمېرنه اوس هم تر خپل وخته لس کاله ځنډېدلې ده، نو ځکه بايد نوره ونه ځنډول شي. عثمان کاکړ وايي د سرشمېرنې پر وړاندېافغان کډوال خنډ بلل هسې يوه پلمه ده. د نوموړي په خبره په اصل کې پنجاب نه غواړي، چې دا سرشمېرنه وشي او پښتانه په اکثريت کې راشي:
«پنجابى دا نه غواړي چې سرشمېرنه وشي، نو پلمه يې بلوڅ جوړ کړى دى، خو سرشمېرنه به خامخا کېږي، البته د شفافيت او د ريښتينې سرشمېرنې لپاره هر ډول ميکانيزم ته پنجابى تيار دى پښتون ورته تيار دى، که بلوڅ ورته تيار دى پښتون ورته تيار دى. زموږ په صوبه کې ټول درې لکه درې زره کډوال راجسټر دي، نو په دې به ځان نه خلاسوي، کډوال چې سل په سلو کې دلته وو دوى سرشمېرنه کوله، خو اوس چې هغوى ټول کډه شوي دي، نو دا پلمه کوي او غواړي چې ځانونه ٧٥ فيصده راولي او دا اوس امکان نه لري»
د عوامي نېشنل ګوند صوبايي مشر اصغرخان اڅکزى وايي، د بلوچستان د پښتنو سرشمېرنه پينځه دېرش کاله پخوا په ١٩٨١م کال کې شوې وه او بيا د ١٩٩٨م له سرشمېرنې د پښتنو د يوه ملتپال ګوند د بايکاټ په خاطر د پښتنو سرشمېرنه سمه ونه شوه، خو دا ځل سرشمېرنه بايد په هيڅ حالت کې ونه ځنډول شي:
«څه قوتونه خصوصاً د لويې صوبې خلک غواړي چې سرشمېرنه ونه شي، ځکه نن که سرشمېرنه کېږي په اساس يې د دوى هغه قوت ختمېږي، چې د قومي اسمبلۍ له لارې يې پر ټول هېواد قبضه کړې ده، هر هغه څوک چې د ناامنۍ له امله بې کوره شوي دي، د هغوى سرشمېرنه کول د حکومت او مملکت مسووليت دى او هر بهرنى له سرشمېرنې لرې ساتل هم د حکومت کار دى، دا موږ هم وايو، خو که هسې په دې پلمه له سرشمېرنې انکار کېږي، دا خو زموږ له ټول قام سره ظلم دى»
د پاکستان د شمېرنې اداره وايي د سرشمېرنې او کورشمېرنې لپاره يې بشپړې تيارۍ نيولې دي او دا پروسه به په مکمله توګه په شفاف ډول تر سره کېږي، چې د پوځ او نورو امنيتي ادارو له خوا به يې کلک امنيت نيول کېږي.خو بلوڅ ملتپال ګوندونه وايي په اوسني حالت کې که سرشمېرنه ونه ځنډول شي، نو دوى به د پاکستان سترې محکمې ته درخواست وکړي او له جمهوري لارې به له مرکزي حکومته وغواړي، چې سرشمېرنه وځنډوي، که نه وي نو دوى به مجبور وي چې په احتجاج لاس پورې کړي او له سرشمېرنې بايکاټ اعلان کړي.

    چترال او وزیرستان کې د واورو ورښت د خلکو ژوند اغېزمن کړی

    د خېبر پښتونخوا په چترال ضلع کې د یکشنبې په سهار د واورو د ښويېدو په پيښه کې کې لږ تر لږه ۱۵ کسان وژل شوي دي.

    په خېبر پښتونخوا کې له قدرتي افتونو سره د مبارزې ادارې ویاندې شیمه ایوب مشال راډيو ته وويل چې یو شمېر کورونه هم د واروې د ګټ لاندې شوي دي.

    « په چترال کې ډېره زیاته واوره ورېدلې ده او د ګل په ورځ په کریم اباد کلي کې، برف کوچ غورځېدلی دی او شل کورونه یې له لاندې کړې دي.»

    نوموړې زياته کړه چې د موسمیاتو محکمې د زیاتې واورې د ورېدو اټکل کړی و، نو ځکه له هغه ځای نه زياتره کورنۍ نورو ځايونو ته لېږدول شوې وې.
    شیمه ایوب وايي دا چې په سیمه کې واورې وریږي نو د مرستو لړۍ چټکه نه ده او یوازینۍ لاره چې مرستې پرې رسېدلی شي هغه هوايي لاره ده خو هغه لاره هم خراب موسم اغېزمنه کړې ده.
    بلخوا د جنوبي وزيرستان په رزمک، مکين، لدها، تنګې بديزيي، بورکيي، کانې ګرم او نورو سيمو کې د واورې ورېدو لړۍ روانه ده چې له وجې يې د سیمې خلک له سختو ستونزو سره مخ دي.
    د ارشیف انځور
    د ارشیف انځور
    د مشال خبریال وايي د واورې ورېدو له وجې لارې بندې شوي او د مواصلاتو اړیکې هم شکېدلې دي چې له کبله یې خلک د سختو ستونزو سره مخ شوي دي. که څه هم د ځاني تلفاتو په اړه څه نه دي ویل شوي خو راپورونه وايي د واورې ورښت ځیني کورونه نړولي دي.
    یو سیمه ییز مشر ملک بهادر مشال راډیو ته وویل:

    « سختې واورې ورېدلي، خلک له کورونو بهر نه شي راوتلی، د ګاډو تګ راتګ هم ودرېدلی دی. د بجلۍ تارونه مکمل پرې شوي دي، د ټیلیفون تارونه هم غوڅ شوي او د پرېوتو کورونو د مالکانو سره اړیکه نه نیول کېږی.»

    د جنوبي وزیرستان حکومتي چارواکو د ورښوتونو له وجې خلکو ته د سر او مال د زیانونو د اوړېدو په اړه څه نه دي ویلي.

      - کاووسي: د سترې محکمې مخې ته چاودنه کې ۱۹تنه وژل شوي ` Kabul Suicide Bombing

      شريکول چاپ د افغانستان د عامې روغتیا وزارت د مطبوعاتي څانګې مسؤل محمد اسماعیل کاووسي ازادي راډيو ته وویل چې د سترې محکمې مخې ته نننۍ چاودنه کې ۱۹ تنه وژل شوي او ۴۱ نور ټپیان دي. کاووسي زیاته کړه چې د پېښې ټپيان د شهید سردار محمد داوود خان او وزیر محمد اکبر خان روغتونونو ته انتقال شوي دي. پخواني معلومات: یوې امنیتي سرچینې د نوم نه‌ښودلو په شرط ازادي راډیو ته وویل چې د سترې محکمې مخې ته په نننۍ چاودنه کې ۱۲ تنه وژل شوي چې ۴یې ښځې دي. د سترې محکمې یوه کارکوونکي ازادي راډیو ته وویل چې څو شېبې وړاندې په کابل ښار کې د سترې محکمې د موټرو په پارکینګ کې چاودنه شوې ده. یوې بلې امینتي سرچینې د نوم نه‌ښودلو په شرط ازادي راډیو ته وویل چې یاده چاودنه مرګ ژوبله هم لري. تر دا مهاله د دې چاودنې نوعیت او هدف معلوم نه‌دی او نه‌یې مسؤلیت چا په غاړه اخیستی دی.


      Pakistan's natural disasters - ''Disaster''

      We are well accustomed to deaths due to natural disasters such as floods, heatwaves and earthquakes in our country. The latest deaths, with 15 killed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, have resulted from avalanches triggered by heavy snowfall over the past few days. Neighbouring Afghanistan has suffered even more severely with a hundred people killed after their homes were buried under snow and rescue workers failed to reach remote areas due to poor road conditions. 

      In Chitral, a region which like Gilgit-Baltistan has experienced record snowfall, the Shershall village has been worse affected with 10 persons including women and children killed as snow swept away their homes. Nine other people have been injured. In other parts of KP five deaths were reported due to snow or heavy rainfall while in the Noshki region of Balochistan 108 people were left stranded for hours on a marshland area after rain. 

      The stories from Afghanistan are very similar with 50 of the deaths occurring in the remote Nooristan province and others across central and northern Afghanistan.
      There is a common feature to the deaths that occurred on both sides of the Durand Line. Poor rescue services and warning systems have been a factor with the local nazim for the Shershall village reporting that the only warnings came from an NGO working in the environment sector. Local officials say no relief supplies have reached people still located in the doomed village; the snow covering road routes is a major factor in this. 

      Both the provincial and national disaster management authorities say they have activated their teams. In Afghanistan too the lack of services to assist people in peril as a result of climatic conditions has clearly contributed to the high death toll. There is also something else to consider here. Those killed all ranked among the poorest members of society in both countries, many of them lacking adequate shelter to save them from the wrath brought by weather conditions. 

      It is also obvious that governments have failed to provide people the safety net that could protect lives by setting up better warning services and arranging for rescue even in what are admittedly difficult conditions. After all snow is not an unusual feature in the north of our own country or in other parts of the world. Better planning and the provision of safer housing could avert the death toll we are seeing at present or the misery of people who remain cut-off in their villages with help unable to reach them even many hours after the disaster occurred.

      Dear Imran, a leader who wants to fix Pakistan would never propose a US visa ban

      On January 27, US President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order which barred nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries from traveling to the US for 90 days, as well as indefinitely suspending the intake of Syrian refugees.
      The controversial move was widely criticised. Most world leaders, large sections of the international media, and the general public voiced their disapproval in unison.
      The strongest opposition came from within the US and, within a few days, the courts struck down the Order, at least temporarily.
      People in Pakistan were also critical of Trump’s decision, especially since it was suggested that the ban might be extended to Pakistan as well.
      But Imran Khan, whose Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf governs Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and is the third-largest party in the National Assembly, had a different take on the issue.
      Addressing a party rally, Imran Khan said he “prayed” that the US stops granting visas to Pakistanis so that “we could work for fixing our own country”.
      I was not surprised at all. Imran has a habit of saying ludicrous things, which he either has to retract or clarify later. Time and again, Imran has proven is a reactionary leader. He is keen on riding populist waves and feeds on nationalist rhetoric, all the while ignoring the realities of the country.
      His views here are not too different from those of Trump, who proposes the isolationist agenda of 'America First'.
      Before making such statements, it would have helped if Imran had checked the facts.
      According to the State Bank of Pakistan, the country's foreign exchange reserves were $23.19 billion at the end of 2016. Remittances by expats stood at $19.91 billion, which is roughly 85 percent of the total foreign reserves.
      Of these $19.91 billion, the highest contribution came from Pakistan’s living in Saudi Arabia at $5.96 billion. Pakistanis in the US sent around $2.52 billion back to their home country. This amount is higher than the $1.77 billion at which K-Electric was sold to Shanghai Electric. Travel restrictions on visa and green card holders will not only be a blow to concerned individuals and families, but will also have a crippling effect on the Pakistani economy.
      No sane leader would pray for such a situation, let alone a leader who promises to develop Pakistan.
      According to Imran Khan, “The day there is a government that decides it has to live and die in Pakistan, it will fix this country. The biggest issue here is the corruption of bigwigs who ... become ministers and loot this country, taking the money abroad.”
      Yes, but the bigwigs of corruption do not need visas to stash their money abroad. There are plenty of other ways to send money to foreign bank accounts or offshore companies. If Pakistanis are banned from living and working in the US, it is the lower-middle and middle classes and students who will suffer the most – not the rich and the powerful.
      Questioning the loyalty of Pakistanis living in the US is distasteful. Hardworking immigrants deserve to be respected and honoured instead of being demeaned. Their contributions to both the US and Pakistan should be celebrated. Even if Pakistanis were barred from the US, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will shift their wealth and families back to Pakistan. They would rather look to move to another Western country, where they will continue to find better opportunities.
      Pakistan’s economic ills cannot simply be blamed on the lack of investment in the country. To attract investment from its citizens living abroad, Pakistan needs to create favourable economic and political conditions. Forcing expats to bring their money to Pakistan is no magic solution when the overall situation of the country remains dismal.
      During a time of globalisation, we should be looking for Pakistanis to gain international experience. Lack of global exposure for its people will make the country a poorer place in terms of human resources.
      We need to accept that Pakistan’s education system is abysmal and the country’s job market doesn't have the absorption capacity. It’s normal that in such a situation, people will move to look for a better life. It’s their right to do so. Imran has hit another low after his disparaging comments on Pakistani immigrants. His statement drew criticism and shock not only from within Pakistan, but also from overseas Pakistanis. One Pakistani-American attorney said that such a demand from a national leader was beyond comprehension.
      In an age where the reputation of a country is measured by how many countries its citizens can enter without visas, we should be striving for Pakistanis to have an easier right of way when it comes to international travel.
      Imran should realise that a ban on Pakistanis travelling to any country will only bring further humiliation and shame, not benefits.

      Secularism for Pakistan’s survival

      Yasser Latif Hamdani
      Sadiq Khan, the British-Pakistani lawyer and politician, has managed to win the election for the position of London’s mayor. As expected Pakistanis around the world have greeted the news with jubilation and excitement. After all, a first generation son of a Pakistani bus driver has managed to become the first Muslim mayor of a major city in the European Union. People say that this is a great triumph of secularism, which it is, but the statement needs to be put in context. The United Kingdom (UK), a fiercely secular society, is nevertheless not a secular state; constitutionally it is a protestant monarchy, where the monarch of the realm is also the head of the Anglican Church, and also under the Act of Settlement has to be Protestant Christian. Yet through evolution starting with the age of reason, the Protestant nature of the Kingdom has become dead letter for all practical purposes because politicians in the UK have adopted secularism as their creed. It is, therefore, possible for any citizen, whatever their faith, to become the mayor of London or even the prime minister. It was this British secularism that Pakistan’s founding father, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, has harked back to in his famous 11th of August 1947 speech, when he poignantly referred to the history and evolution of Catholic and Protestant conflict in the UK to the effect that “...today, you might say with justice that Roman Catholics and Protestants do not exist; what exists now is that every man is a citizen, an equal citizen of Great Britain and they are all members of the Nation.”
      To do so, however, such a citizen must adopt secularism and belief in human rights as his or her creed. Predictably, Mayor Sadiq Khan does believe in these values. In 2012, he supported same-sex marriage, which prompted many UK mosques to denounce him and even threaten him. Khan was undeterred. How many in Pakistan today would vote for Khan holding such views? This is the irony. Pakistan abandoned the vision outlined by its founding father and chose instead a narrow-minded theocratic path. We already know where that has led us. The idea that a minority can be elected in this country to a responsible position in government has over time become unlikelier still. We are not even ready to accord our minorities the right to live in this country with dignity.
      Laws left behind by General Zia-ul-Haq have ensured that religious freedom as a constitutional fundamental right has become redundant and useless. Instead we have now campaigners from religious parties asking for the execution of ‘blasphemers’. To these campaigners, Pakistan is not even of secondary importance. They have not even considered how it would isolate Pakistan globally if we were to take some of our laws to their logical conclusion. Persecution of minority religious groups in Pakistan is the norm and not the exception. One forced minority, the Ahmadis, have been disenfranchised unconstitutionally and illegally because, despite the joint electorate, the state insists on placing their names, exclusively, on a ‘supplementary list’ on the electoral rolls. As a result, an Ahmadi cannot even become the mayor of Rabwah (officially called Chenab Nagar) where the majority population is from that group. So what are we celebrating Sadiq Khan’s victory in London for?
      Things need to change faster in Pakistan. We are the laughing stock of the world because of our insistence on notions that just do not have any place in the modern world. Even something as basic as a passport application we fill out vitiates the most basic of fundamental human rights, which our constitution purports to grant us. Tomorrow civilised nations of the world may well ban all of us from entering their borders because all of us, inevitably, are forced to sign the horrendously bigoted statement against Ahmadis to get a passport. In doing so, willingly or unwillingly, self-included we all become accessories to state-sponsored persecution of that group. It is only a matter of time that the world takes notice and, consequently, this unconscionable act of ours would hurt us Pakistanis as a whole, much more than it would hurt Ahmadis.
      But does this occur to our religious divines? No. Pakistan has never been and never will be a priority for them. Instead some like Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani of the Council of Islamic Ideology want to debate whether Ahmadis are murtids (apostates) or merely non-Muslims, implying of course whether they should be killed or merely persecuted. Where do these people want to take Pakistan? If they had their way, they would lead us to the second holocaust. There is always that possibility that minorities in Pakistan have to reckon with. It will not end there though. Ultimately the officially sanctioned Muslims will turn on each other. There would be a massive bloodshed of epic proportions.
      During the Pakistan Movement, Raja of Mahmudabad, himself a Shia Muslim, started using the Muslim League platform to advocate an Islamic state. When Jinnah got the wind of his, he told Mahmudabad to distance himself from the Muslim League. He said, “Do you realise that there are over 70 sects and differences of opinion regarding the Islamic faith, and if what you [Raja] are suggesting was to be followed, the consequences would be a struggle of religious opinion from the very inception of the State leading to its very dissolution.” Religious leaders are forcing us closer to that precipice and the spectre of dissolution is looming large.
      The question of the separation of religion from state, therefore, is a matter of life and death for Pakistan as a country, society and a state. The very survival of the country is linked to whether or not we are able to ensure that religion is made a private matter between man and God and taken away from our halls of government and our courts of law. This is because Pakistan is far too diverse a society with far too many different sectarian and religious interpretations of Islam for it to afford a theocracy. It is time for Pakistanis, therefore, to accept that faith is a matter between man and God and not the business of the state.

      Pakistan - Shackles of fundamentalism

      By Muzzammil Mukhtar
      CHARLIE WILSON,REAGON,ZIA,ISIS responsible for radical islamic terror.
      The impact of the psychological ghettos developed through the imported curriculum in the 1980s, during the Cold War era, can widely be observed in the Pakistani society. The jihadist curriculum ingeniously designed in the University of Nebraska has worked very well for the imperialist masters of General Zia Ul Haq. The Pakistani nation has gained nothing but fundamentalism, exclusion of progressive thinking, existential fear and substantial instability – both within the region and worldwide.
      An analysis of the development of fundamentalism in Pakistani obliges one to study the role of the self-declared ‘Soldier of Islam’ General Zia Ul Haq and at least two of his aides, Generals Akthar Abdur Rahman and Hamid Gul. All three participated in the formation of the Taliban. This was for the purpose of the so called ‘sacred war’ against USSR. The named aides served as heads of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
      In 1977, Zia seized power by way of a military coup. In the same year, the Parcham communists of Afghanistan withdrew their support for Sardar Mohammed Daoud Khan. They formed the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA). Therefore, political regimes in the neighbouring countries became involved in the catastrophe threatening Daoud’s regime. In 1978, communists within the Afghan military overthrew Daoud’s regime. Such an overthrow took Washington by surprise.
      In the wake of that overthrow, Islamabad’s role in Afghanistan was to seek leverage favouring Washington’s wish to create massive instability in Afghanistan. The source of this was Zia’s needs both for international acceptance of his undemocratic regime and the capital to strengthen and prolong it. Neither was conceivable without firm backing from the US establishment. Therefore, under orders from Zia, Akhtar, established the Afghan bureau of ISI. It worked with the CIA; and one of its first tasks was to destabilise Afghanistan. The ISI did a good job in Afghanistan for its backers. It massively armed the religious opposition and incited violence.
      The United States spent millions printing textbooks for Afghan children and adults that encouraged violence against non-Muslim “infidels” like Soviet troops
      Eventually, Russian troops entered Kabul on Christmas Day in 1979. So Washington got its wished for opportunity to further wage the Cold War.
      In that scenario, Zia successfully bid for Washington’s recognition and subsidy to fight a proxy war, in the name of jihad; and turned Pakistan into a factory for militants. The Pakistani military establishment set up several training camps, inter alia, in the tribal region along the border of Afghanistan. However, it did not stop there and a massive influx of jihadists entered into Pakistan from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other Middle Eastern countries.
      It would be difficult to fight any such war without an ideological basis. So Zia declared the so called ‘Islamisation’ of Pakistan. This was despite its founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s wish to establish a secular society.
      The result was immense ideological confusion, sectarianism, corruption and social intolerance. The weapons industry, industrial scale Talibanisation, and drugs trafficking developed. Cells of pro-establishment media formed. These were effectively oriented to disinformation; and they have never hesitated to proclaim that Russia would cross the Durand Line if Pakistan did not stop them in Afghanistan.
      The implications of entering into the so called jihad have been so damaging that, till date, Pakistani society has not come out of its shadow. Despite the fragmentation in the recent years of various jihadist groups, there still appears to be clear distinctions between ‘good and bad Taliban’. Factions of establishment still support various banned outfits, such as the Haqqani Network, Al-Qaeda, Jamaat-ud- Dawa (an affiliate of Lashkar-e-Taiba), and Lashka-e-i Jhangvi (an affiliate of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat – ASWJ). Proscribed outfits frequently change their names and carry on their operations without restriction, at times, under the umbrella of the so called ‘‘charity’’ work. Since their existence is considered to be in the interest of the state.
      A well-researched discussion paper, ‘The Sun in the Sky: The Relationship between Pakistan’s ISI and Afghan Insurgents’ - published in 2010 by the Crisis States Research Centre at the London School of Economics - suggests that ISI closely manages Taliban organisations in Afghanistan and their war efforts. The Supreme Council of the Afghan Taliban, also known as Quetta Shura, includes ISI representatives.
      It is regrettably difficult to suggest, even today, there has been any significant change in the influence of ISI on the Afghan Taliban and linkage with Al-Qaeda.
      Despite the state’s official rhetoric as to gaining considerable success in the military operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’, various reports suggest that prior to launching the military operation, several militants groups, presumably tipped off, fled from the area and relocated to Afghanistan and other parts of Pakistan. Simultaneously, numerous local and foreign militants left for Iraq and Syria to join the ISIS. Parts of the Punjab and Baluchistan regions are emerging as hubs of the militant activism. Banned formations, such as Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), IS and Hizb-ut-Tahreer (HuT) etc. frequently recruit militants; whilst LeT and JeM have their offices all over Pakistan.
      In December 2016, the Supreme Court of Pakistan publicised the inquiry commission report of Justice Qazi Faez Isa (the Justice Faez Report) on the 8 August attack on Quetta Civil Hospital. The Justice Faez report, despite its brevity, has made shocking revelations.
      It states that from January 1, 2001 to October 17, 2016, there have been 17,503 terrorists’ attacks in Pakistan, and as of November 17, 2016, there were 63 proscribed organisations in Pakistan.
      The Justice Faez report goes on to suggest, among others, that the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) has failed to devise an anti-terrorism strategy. ISI does not have a website. It cannot be contacted to convey information on terrorist related activities. The Minister for Interior called only one meeting of the Executive Committee of NACTA in over three and a half years. The Ministry of Religious Affairs and inter-faith harmony has failed to monitor or register madrasas (religious schools) and no counter-extremism narrative has been devised.
      Moreover, in late December 2014, the All Political Parties Conference had agreed on a 20 point agenda to tackle terrorism – the National Action Plan (NAP). However, the Justice Faez Report suggests that it was not a plan at all, in as much as it gave neither details as to who would be responsible for implementing its components nor any timelines for that implementation.
      Disappointingly, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership has not learnt from the harsh upheavals of nearly four decades. In a rather rational approach, at this stage there should be a clear agenda to eliminate fundamentalism from Pakistan since it has undermined the national interests to a devastating extent. This is particularly important when Pakistan is seeking to pursue wider economic interests by way of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Distinguishing, as the Pakistani establishment does, between ‘good and bad Taliban’ can never break the jinx of fundamentalism. The civil-military leadership is still oblivious to the fact that Pakistan needs more than NAP’s 20 point rhetoric.

      Donald Trump acts like he wants regime change – in the United States

      Timothy Snyder
      The president’s tweets against the judiciary recalls how authoritarianism has triumphed in other places. 

      When the president of the United States maligns a federal judge on a medium that reaches millions of people, his action is not only inappropriate to his office, uncivil in the extreme, and a threat to national security. It is also an announcement of the president’s desire for regime change.
      The refugee and immigration policy that the president is defending against the judiciary is worse than indefensible. Aside from being sloppily constructed and almost certainly illegal, it has made the problem it is meant to address worse. The executive order did not mention the actual countries from which actual terrorists have come, such as Saudi Arabia and the Russian federation.
      By calling citizens of whole countries “potential terrorists”, the president has just confirmed the impression that a religion is being targeted as such. It is much more likely that its aim was to provoke an act of terror than to prevent one. If one takes place, the president will likely claim that he was right all along, and argue that repression of American residents and citizens are necessary.
      The president wrote in a 4 February tweet of “bad people” and the risks they pose. The greatest national security risk is the one created by the president’s irresponsibility. By announcing a policy of total discrimination against citizens of Iraq, for example, the president insulted soldiers of an army that is fighting alongside the American one.
      By hindering the arrival of people who worked alongside the American armed forces in the Middle East, he has made clear that Americans sell out their friends. Among the “bad people” are many students with much to offer the US, including a young Iranian who, having protested the Iranian regime, was pressured to emigrate. Now the country where he chose to emigrate, the US, is treating him much the same way. The moral costs of the policy, and of its reckless defense, are enormous.
      But that’s not the worst of it.
      The major implication of the president’s tweet is the form it takes: an attack on a federal judge. Singling out a federal judge for presidential calumny is a profound, and no doubt deliberate, assault on the two bases of constitutional rule in the US: checks and balances among the three branches of government, and the rule of law.
      Americans use the word “democracy” as a shorthand to define their system. Yet democracy as Americans know it only functions when an independent judiciary monitors the executive and legislative branches. The relationship among the branches certainly changes over time, but an open attack by the executive upon the judiciary is something new – at least in the contemporary US.
      The president’s tweet recalls how authoritarianism has triumphed in other places. Modern tyrants grasp that their real target are rival institutions and legality, not voting as such. They often attack the judiciary first, assuming that the legislature will go along.
      Judges cannot, by the nature of their function, engage in populist media competitions. They must be protected by other judges, other institutions and popular opinion. If judges are left on their own, and the judiciary branch loses its independence, the legislative branch is next in line for humiliation and subjugation.
      Legislators have more access to the public sphere than judges, but less than the president. And if the judiciary is meaningless, the legislators, too, will soon lose their power. They can pass laws. But without independent judges whose verdicts are respected, those laws will mean only what the executive says they mean.
      These are not theoretical speculations, but descriptions of regime change as it is being effected throughout the western world before our eyes. The patterns in Russia, Hungary and Poland are different in significant ways, reflecting differences in the personalities of the leaders, the behavior of opposition, and concentrations of wealth. But the larger trend is difficult to miss: when judiciaries can be tamed, parliaments make themselves meaningless. Some lawmakers may do so from conviction, others from fear. But once the rule of law vanishes into distrust and the checks become unbalanced, the regime has changed. Voting may go on, but it means less and less. A number of Republican lawmakers have rightly criticized the president for the language of his tweet. Having done so, they might take a moment to mind these precedents. The defense of an independent judiciary is not only their obligation, it is in their best interest. An attack on a judge is an attack on the system, and in effect an attack on them.
      Chiding the president is not enough. The predominant sentiment among Republican legislators today seems to be in favor of passing desired laws now and dealing directly with Trump later. This could be a trap. Six months or a year from now, when all the laws have been passed, senators and representatives may find that they are no longer able, or willing, to resist the president.

      China - Beware US, Japan’s anti-missile ambition

      It is reported that the US and Japan have successfully conducted a missile interception test Friday off the Hawaiian island of Kauai. USS John Paul Jones detected, tracked and took out the target ballistic missile using its onboard Aegis Missile Defense System and Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA interceptor, reports said. The two sides will continue missile interception tests in the future.

      The SM-3 Block IIA interceptor, an upgraded version of the SM-3 Block IA, will be deployed around 2021.

      Japan labels North Korea as the target of the new interceptor, but military observers believe that the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor, complementing the US-backed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, is part of the US' ambitious global missile defense system.

      The upgraded SM-3 interceptor may not specifically target China, but as the Washington-Tokyo alliance has put more attention on China, the country will certainly be highlighted in the defensive range of the new SM-3 anti-missile system.

      Once the upgrade and deployment of the SM-3 system is completed, and THAAD is launched in Northeast Asia, China will face more military threat.

      As missile system is the centerpiece of global nuclear powers' strategic deterrent capability, China has developed  advanced missile technology. The anti-missile system is the new front of nuclear arms race. Advanced anti-missile technology can disable or partly disable the missile system of the opponent, thus having some effect on the geopolitics.  

      An intercontinental ballistic missile is both a military and political tool, and so is an anti-missile system. The US global missile defense system is ultimately targeted at the nuclear deterrent capability of China and Russia, aiming to politically coerce them. 

      Strategic nuclear weapons are unlikely to be put to use in normal condition, and this means an anti-missile system can hardly conduct interception. A duel would bring disaster to all mankind. 

      Sparing no effort to develop the anti-missile system, the US will disturb the nuclear balance among major powers, due to which the world has largely maintained peace for decades. Washington is attempting to become the sole dominator in the world.

      China and Russia cannot make the US give up its obsession with the anti-missile system. Resolute countermeasures against Washington's anti-missile achievements are the only way to sustain the current strategic balance. Beijing and Moscow must be clear that thwarting US' anti-missile efforts is more important to them than their bilateral relationships with Washington.

      China and Russia have no global alliance system or ubiquitous military bases, and thus cannot put in place a worldwide anti-missile system even with advanced and reliable technological support. We should put more efforts in building our anti-missile network around our strategically vital regions, and meanwhile achieve technology breakthroughs in missile penetration.  China and Russia should prevent US' anti-missile capability from developing to a tipping point where Washington is able to manipulate public opinion and make changes to the rules of the game beyond our control.

      While the US and Japan keep increasing their anti-missile inputs, China and Russia must make more investments than them to develop the strategic nuclear capability.

      Lavrov stresses Iran's contribution to struggle against Islamic State

      Iran makes its contribution to the struggle against the terrorist organization Islamic State (outlawed in Russia) and must be a member of the anti-terrorist front, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday.

      "Iran has never been found linked to Islamic State or Jabhat al-Nusra," Lavrov said. "Moreover, Iran makes its own contribution to the struggle against the Islamic State."

      "We have long pressed for creating a genuinely universal front of struggle against terrorism. I am certain that if we make an unbiased approach to the potential members of such a coalition, Iran must be part of our common efforts," Lavrov said.


      Fox News Host Offers No Apology for Remarks About Putin, Says Check Back in 2023

      Fox News host Bill O'Reilly during a broadcast did not offer an apology for disparaging remarks he made about Russian President Vladimir Putin, and sarcastically claimed that he might have something ready in roughly six years.
      US President Donald Trump gave an interview to O’Reilly this past weekend. O'Reilly, among other things, called Putin a "killer," to which the US leader responded: "You think our country’s so innocent?"
      "Apparently the Putin Administration in Moscow, demanding that I, your humble correspondent apologize… so I'm working on that apology, but it may take a little time," O'Reilly said on Monday. "Might want to check in with me around 2023."
      Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday the Kremlin considers O'Reilly’s words about Putin unacceptable and offensive and expected an apology.

      Is Trump trying to drive a wedge between Russia and China?

      John Wight 

      Is the Trump administration embarked on a foreign policy of driving a strategic wedge between Russia, China, and Iran? Given the precedent set by the Nixon-Kissinger strategy of the 1970s vis-à-vis Russia and China, the question is pertinent.
      Trump’s foreign policy since he assumed office can be boiled down to the simple, if not simplistic, proposition of peace with Russia and conflict with China and Iran. The problem with such a policy, of course, is that any conflict with China or Iran will make peace with Russia hard to achieve given that both are longstanding allies and partners of Moscow, and therefore would place Russia in a difficult position.
      Regardless, there are those who continue to project faith in Trump based on nothing more concrete than the fact he isn’t Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. This is political illiteracy of the most basic sort, especially in light of the maiden speech of the new president’s Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, to the Security Council over the resumption of conflict in eastern Ukraine. “The United States continues to condemn and calls for an immediate end to the Russian occupation of Crimea,” Haley said. “Crimea is a part of Ukraine. Our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control over the peninsula to Ukraine.
      They are words that could have been lifted verbatim from any number of speeches delivered to the UN Security Council by Haley’s predecessor, Samantha Power. They reveal the Trump administration is intent on continuing the lie that Crimea was ripped from Ukraine against the will of the overwhelming majority of its citizens, and that the Ukrainian government in Kiev has legal authority over those who refuse to accept the legitimacy of the coup, backed by the US and its European allies, which brought it to power in 2014.
      Turning to China, the school of thought which contends that Trump is merely setting out a hard bargaining position to reboot trade relations between Beijing and Washington on terms more favorable to the latter is delusional. It is a position that fails to take into account that China is currently preparing for the possibility of military conflict against the US in the near future. Understandably so given Trump’s saber rattling over the ongoing territorial dispute in the South China Sea, and understandably so given Trump’s statement that the One China Policy, under which Washington accepts Beijing’s strongly held position that Taiwan is a breakaway province of China rather than an independent state, may be up for negotiation. Predictably, the prospect has gone down like the proverbial lead balloon in the Chinese capital. East Asia, before Trump’s election, was already a region where tensions had been intensifying in recent years, reflected in a sharp increase in spending on defense by China and Japan, along with Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam.
      When it comes to Trump’s claim that China is guilty of currency manipulation, it is evident he is living in an upside down world. How has the United States been able to maintain an economic model supported by otherwise unsustainable debt and hyper-consumption if not for the manipulation of its currency? Indeed if it was not for the US dollar’s status as the world’s dominant international reserve currency, and if not for China being willing to buy so many of them, the US economy would have collapsed way before now. Yes, the US has been China’s biggest export market over the years, but the relatively low cost of Chinese imports has helped keep the cost of living down for Americans, especially during the worst years of the global recession, thus enabling them to continue the hyper level of consumption that is key to the US economy.
      Rather than devaluing its currency, China has been doing precisely the opposite, offloading US Treasury Bonds over the past year to increase the value of its currency, the yuan, against the dollar. Whether Beijing’s motives in doing so are entirely economic, or if there is a strategic motive involved, given that the US economy is vulnerable in this regard, this is hard to say with certitude. But considering the ongoing territorial dispute, previously mentioned, and China’s growing concern over the build-up of US naval resources in the region, it would be naïve to discount one.
      When it comes to Iran, the Trump administration is determined to join with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in placing pressure on a country that has been a solid pole of opposition to both Israeli expansionism and US hegemony in the region over many years. Trump’s National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, recently threatened Iran in response to a missile test that was undertaken, accusing the country of engaging in “destabilizing behavior across the Middle East.”
      It is utter nonsense. The states in the region that are most guilty of “destabilizing behavior” are Israel and Saudi Arabia, both longstanding allies of Washington, whose consistent rattling of sabers toward Tehran is the real cause of rising tensions. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia’s actions in Yemen are an offense to any conception of legality or justice, yet in response, Washington continues to turn a blind eye.
      Michael Flynn, it should be noted, had already been labeled an Islamophobe prior to being appointed Trump’s National Security Advisor. In a video of a speech he gave last year, the National Security Advisor described Islam as a “malignant cancer.”
      His ignorance in this regard is both astounding and horrifying, especially when we consider Washington’s role in slaughtering and destroying the lives of millions of Muslims in recent years, its role in destroying Iraq, Libya, and turning the entire region into a mess. The Salafi-jihadist menace that erupted in response has killed more Muslims than members of any other religious or cultural group, and it is Muslims who have been doing the bulk of the fighting on the ground in resistance to it – specifically the Muslim-majority Iraqi Army, Syrian Army, Iranian volunteers, Hezbollah, Kurds, and so on.
      President Trump’s first few weeks in office have provided enough evidence that it is far too soon to place faith in him ending a Washington foreign policy predicated on US exceptionalism.
      Returning to the question posed in the opening chapter, what Russia has to consider when it comes to the foreign policy of the Trump administration at this early stage is the high probability of it being driven by the desire to weaken or indeed split the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), of which Russia and China are founding members. The Nixon-Kissinger strategy of the early 1970s resulted in the United States normalizing relations with China to capitalize on the Sino-Soviet split, thus driving a wedge between both to Washington’s strategic advantage. 
      Back then the strategy worked superbly from Washington’s point of view. Allowing it to do so a second time, and this time allowing the US to normalize relations with Moscow at the expense of Beijing, would constitute a historical blunder of monumental proportions from the standpoint not only of China but also Russia.