Sunday, February 12, 2017

Music Video - Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake - Love Never Felt So Good

Video Report - South Korea's role questioned following DPRK’s ballistic missile test

Video - The Iraqi girls who escaped from Isis

When Isis militants invaded Sinjar in Iraq they took many young women and girls – some as young as nine years old – as sexual slaves and forced them to convert to Islam. These two women escaped and returned to their home village on Mount Sinjar. Here they discuss their traumatic experience, their struggle to be accepted back by their community and the women and girls still held by Isis


The family of Samar Abbas, one of the five activists picked up by unidentified individuals early this year, has petitioned the Islamabad High Court to secure his release. 
The petition, filed by Samar's brother, Ash'ar Abbas, nominates the IG Islamabad, SSP FIA, intelligence agencies and the interior ministry as respondents in the case.
The family has pleaded that the IHC order Samar's release at the earliest, ensure his safety, and ensure that he is not tortured by his abductors.
Samar was reported missing from the federal capital since January 7, 2016.
Samar's family had lodged an application with the Ramna police station on Jan 14, and an FIR was registered on Jan 15.
An activist based in Karachi who belongs to various forums that have been raising their voice against atrocities committed against minority groups in the country, Samar is also president of the Civil Progressive Alliance Pakistan (CPAP).
According to CPAP General Secretary Syed Talib Abbas, Samar had travelled to Islamabad from Karachi on business. “He was continuously in touch with his family, but on Saturday (Jan 7), his mobile phone was switched off. The family has not heard from him since,” he said.
He said Samar, 40, is married and has two children; a boy and a girl.

مش صافيناز .رقص شرقي مصري . - Belly Dance Video -

Video - More than 1,000 gather on San Francisco beach to spell ‘RESIST’ in anti-Trump protest


Human Rights Watch (HRW) says Saudi Arabia has stepped up the politically-motivated arrests, prosecution, and convictions of peaceful dissident writers and human rights campaigners since the beginning of the current year.
The New York City-based organization, in a report published on Monday, documented the alarming rise in the Riyadh regime’s repressive measures against pro-democracy activists in Saudi Arabia.
It said Saudi courts have convicted at least 20 distinguished activists and dissidents since 2011. The report said many of the activists have received severe punishments comparable to those for manslaughter in the West and have been handed down jail terms ranging from 10 to 15 years.
The charges brought against the dissidents involve disloyalty to the monarch and “breaking allegiance” with him in addition to “participating in protests.”
The HRW said the charges “do not constitute recognizable crimes.”
“Saudi Arabia is trying to silence and lock away anyone who doesn’t toe the official line or dares to express an independent view on politics, religion, or human rights,” Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East director at HRW, said.


Schools, hospitals, mosques, funeral halls - it seems nothing is off-limits for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition and their campaign of air strikes on Yemen.
We know that UK-made weapons are amongst those claiming Yemeni lives. By continuing to supply Saudi Arabia and the coalition with arms, the UK risks complicity in acts that may amount to war crimes. The UK government is now being taken to court over the legality of these arms transfers – and they are feeling the pressure. Now is the time to act. Tell your MP to call for an immediate end to UK arms transfers to Saudi Arabia.

'My girls were killed and I wish I had died with them. I have nothing else in life.'
Salama, who lost three daughters in the bombing of a school in Aden where displaced people were sheltering.
In March 2015, an international coalition led by Saudi Arabia – including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait – launched air strikes against the Houthi armed group and allied forces in Yemen.
Since then, the people of Yemen have been trapped in the middle of bloody clashes between Houthi forces and pro-government forces on the ground, while the Saudi Arabia-led coalition carries out repeated airstrikes from above – with very little regard for Yemeni lives.

Rising death toll

According to the UN, more than 11,000 civilians have been killed or injured since the conflict began, with up to 21 million in need of humanitarian assistance. Hunger among children has reached an all-time high, with almost half a million suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

Schools, hospitals and funeral halls

This flagrant violation of the Yemeni people's right to life has been well documented.
We investigated five coalition air strikes on schools between August and October that killed five civilians and injured at least 14 others, including four children.
At least 19 people were killed and 24 injured in an airstrike by the coalition on a Yemeni hospital supported by Médecins Sans Frontières in August 2016. At the time, UK foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, raised concerns about Houthi actions but fell short of condemning the coalition’s airstrikes.
A ‘double tap’ bombing (two consecutive air strikes) of a funeral hall in October which killed at least 100 and injured a further 500 Yemeni people was simply blamed on wrong information regarding the nature of the target.
In one airstrike in July 2015 on a home in Dammaj valley, coalition forces killed eight children from the same family, and injured nine other relatives.
‘There were 19 people in the house when it was bombed. All but one were women and children. The children who would usually be outside during the day were in the house because it was lunchtime. They were all killed or injured. One of the dead was a 12-day-old baby.’ Abdullah Ahmed Yahya al-Sailami, whose one-year-old son was among those killed.

UK involvement

In May 2016, our research team discovered a UK-made cluster bomb, used by the coalition in a strike on a farm in Yemen. Cluster bombs are internationally banned weapons.
After evading the issue for months, in December, the UK finally admitted that UK-made cluster munitions had indeed been used in Yemen in late 2015 – but only after Saudi Arabia admitted to it also.
At least 16 civilians - including nine children - have been maimed, and two children killed by cluster munitions. Many more people are still at risk from unexploded cluster bombs left in their neighbourhoods.
Despite all the damning evidence, the UK is still licensing arms worth billions of pounds to Saudi Arabia.

The UK is breaking the law

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is tracking over 200 possible cases of human rights violations by the Saudia Arabia-led coalition in Yemen, yet the UK government still believes this isn't reason enough to end arms transfers. Instead they are waiting for Saudi Arabia to carry out its own investigation.
We believe, by continuing to supply arms to Saudi Arabia the UK is breaking its own laws, as well as international law. The Arms Trade Treaty is one such law. It was put in place to prevent human suffering because of reckless arms sales.
Not only has the UK failed to uphold a historic agreement championed by the UK government and with cross-party support, it has failed the people of Yemen.

Legal action

Our government must no longer ignore images of women, men and children devastated by the atrocities they’ve witnessed, knowing it is the UK fuelling this bloody conflict.
The UK government is in breach of the Arms Trade Treaty as well as domestic and EU law, and is, therefore, being taken to court.
Now is the time to act. We need you to write to your MP to demand an immediate end to UK arms transfers to Saudi Arabia.
It works. Your MP is your voice in Parliament and we really need your voice to get this issue raised in Parliament – as much as possible.

What we’re calling for

The UK must end its transfers of arms to members of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition which is carrying out unlawful and indiscriminate airstrikes in Yemen.
They must not supply weapons that could be used to commit human rights violations or war crimes.
They must urge Saudi Arabia and the coalition to destroy any remaining cluster munitions.
There must also be an independent enquiry into the supply of arms to Saudi Arabia and all parties currently involved in the Yemen conflict.

Most Britons believe selling arms to Saudis is ‘unacceptable’

Jamie Doward

The government is keen to promote arms exports in a post-Brexit world.
Almost two-thirds of British people think selling arms to Saudi Arabia – the UK’s largest defence customer – is unacceptable.
The finding comes ahead of this week’s high court case, which has the potential to derail arms sales to the kingdom – and could have major consequences for defence exports to other countries too.
The case, on Tuesday, comes at a time when Theresa May’s government is keen to promote UK arms exports. In a post-Brexit world, ministers believe the arms industry could be a major beneficiary when the UK establishes new trade deals. Last month, May agreed a £100m deal to help equip the Turkish military with fighter jets.
But an Opinium poll conducted for the Campaign Against the Arms Trade suggests the government’s enthusiasm for selling weapons to regimes with questionable human rights records is firmly out of step with public opinion.
The poll shows that 62% of people surveyed think selling arms to Saudi is unacceptable. Almost three-quarters – 73% and 72%, respectively – think it would be unacceptable to sell to Libya and Iran, where Britain does not currently sell arms. Similarly, seven in 10 are against arms sales to Russia, while 63% would not sell to China and 68% would not allow sales to Pakistan.
More broadly, more than seven in 10 people (71%) think that the UK should not promote the sale of weapons to foreign governments accused of violating international humanitarian law. Six in 10 (60%) agree that the government should not promote sales to countries that are not democracies. Only a quarter (26%) agree that the UK should promote the sale of British military equipment to foreign governments, compared with a third (34%) who disagree.
The high court case will place all UK arms exports under close scrutiny.
CAAT is calling for the Department for International Trade to suspend all existing arms export licences and to stop issuing further licences to Saudi Arabia for military equipment intended for use in Yemen while it reviews the compatibility of the exports with UK and EU legislation.
“UK fighter jets and bombs have been central to the devastation [in Yemen],” said Andrew Smith of CAAT. “Whatever the verdict, it won’t be the end of the issue. May and her colleagues must listen to the public and finally end their toxic military relationship with Saudi Arabia.” The UK has sold over £3.3bn-worth of arms – including fighter jets, bombs and missiles – to Saudi forces since the bombing of Yemen began in March 2015. But a range of international organisations, including a UN panel of experts, the European parliament and many humanitarian NGOs, have condemned the ongoing Saudi air strikes against Yemen as unlawful and are backing the rare legal challenge to the government.
They say that UK law, the global arms trade treaty – to which the UK is a state party – and international law require the UK to ensure that its arms transfers do not aid the commission of war crimes by Saudi Arabia.
Human rights groups including Amnesty International allege the air strikes are in violation of these laws for a number of reasons, including the disproportionate harm done to civilians and civilian infrastructure and the destruction of cultural property.
“The UK government’s repeated refusal to halt arms transfers beggars belief, given the extensive and credible reporting showing the Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s ongoing serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including possible war crimes,” said James Lynch, Amnesty’s head of arms control and human rights.
The government insists all arms exports are subject to strict licensing criteria and comply with international and domestic law. Foreign Office ministers have highlighted the important role played by the joint incident assessment team (JIAT), a Saudi coalition body established with UK support, to investigate claims of civilian casualties in Yemen . Mansour Al-Mansour, a Bahraini judge who has reported the findings of eight JIAT investigations that have largely absolved the Saudi-led coalition of responsibility for civilian deaths, was the presiding judge of Bahrain’s national security court, the military tribunal that tried civilians during the Arab spring.
The Bahrain independent commission of inquiry said that, under the tribunal, “due process violations occurred at the pretrial and trial levels that denied most defendants elementary fair trial guarantees”.
In 2011 Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt described as “deeply worrying” reports that civilians were being tried before tribunals “chaired by a military judge, with reports of abuse in detention, lack of access to legal counsel and coerced confessions”. “The UK government condemned the role of the military judge Mansour al-Mansour, who sentenced tortured doctors and politicians to prison in 2011,” said Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy.
“Since then they’ve committed a scandalous U-turn, actively supporting the same man to investigate international law violations in Yemen. It’s laughable.”

UK ‘complicit’ in Saudi Arabia’s war crimes in Yemen: Analyst

The UK government is “complicit” in Saudi Arabia’s war crimes in Yemen as London is working closely with the US and Israel to support Riyadh, which has been the main supporter of extremism and the Daesh (ISIL) terror group in the Middle East, says an academic in London.
Saudi Arabia’s war against Yemen has resulted in the death of about 11,500 people, left 40,000 others wounded, displaced millions and destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure, professor Rodney Shakespeare told Press TV on Tuesday.
“The UK is complicit in this and the reason why we are complicit is that we are hand in glove with Israel and the USA in ultimately supporting a monstrous, Daesh-ISIL structure in the Middle East,” Shakespeare said. Britain claims the Saudi arms sales benefit the UK economy, but there would be a much greater benefit if London ensures the Saudi regime is overthrown, he said.
The UK High Court is set to review the country’s weapons deals with Saudi Arabia, after activists accused the government of British Prime Minister Theresa May of complicity in Riyadh’s war crimes against Yemen.
The court will start the landmark case Tuesday and is expected to reach a conclusion in three days.
Brought by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), the case includes submissions from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
“For almost two years now, the UK has been complicit in the destruction of Yemen. UK fighter jets and bombs have played a central role in the bombardment, and UK political support has helped to underpin and legitimize it,” said Andrew Smith, a spokesman for CAAT.
The Saudi war on Yemen, which was launched in March 2015, has killed thousands of civilians, and unleashed a humanitarian crisis in the improvised Middle Eastern country.
The war was launched in an attempt to bring back the former government to power and undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement.

Music Video - Inna - Amazing

Video Music - Taylor Swift - Blank Space

Bernie Sanders calls Trump a ‘pathological liar'; Al Franken says ‘a few’ Republicans think Trump is mentally ill

By Ed O'Keefe
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Sunday called President Trump a “pathological liar,” while Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) reiterated that “a few” Republican senators are concerned about the president’s mental health.
The strong words from two high-profile senators came as Democrats attacked Trump’s travel ban and said that members of his administration should be investigated or have security clearances suspended for recent comments or conversations with Russian officials.
Sanders made the charge on NBC’s “Meet the Press” as he attacked Trump’s travel ban — which faces a federal court challenge — and Republican plans to revamp the Affordable Care Act.
“We have a president who is delusional in many respects, a pathological liar,” Sanders said.
“Those are strong words,” moderator Chuck Todd interjected while asking Sanders whether he can work with a liar.
“It makes life very difficult. It is very harsh, but I think that’s the truth,” Sanders replied. “When somebody goes before you and says that 3 to 5 million people voted illegally … nobody believes that. There is not a scintilla of evidence to believe that, what would you call that remark? It’s a lie. It’s a delusion.”
Sanders made the comments in response to Todd, who said that some of the senator’s former aides are trying to draft him to start a new political party. For now, Sanders said, he remains committed to “working to bring fundamental reform to the Democratic Party, to open the doors of the Democratic Party” to younger, economically distressed voters.
Franken first raised questions about the president’s mental health Friday night on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” saying Republican senators privately express “great concern” about Trump’s temperament. The senator doubled down Sunday morning, telling CNN’s “State of the Union” that “a few” Republican senators feel that way.
“In the way that we all have this suspicion that — you know, that he’s not — he lies a lot, he says things that aren’t true, that’s the same thing as lying, I guess,” Franken told moderator Jake Tapper, mentioning the president’s repeatedly false claims of voter fraud.
“You know, that is not the norm, uh, for a president of the United States or, actually, for a human being,” Franken said. Franken also blasted Trump’s travel ban, saying the president “and his group are trying to make Americans more afraid. I think that’s part of how they got elected: just make us more afraid.”
Elsewhere, Democratic lawmakers called for investigations into White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, who last week used a national television interview to encourage viewers to buy items from a clothing line designed by Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter. The comments appeared to violate a key ethics rule barring federal employees from using their public office to endorse products.
Hours after Conway’s interview, members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee called on the Office of Government Ethics to recommend discipline, given that Trump, who is Conway’s “agency head,” holds an “inherent conflict of interest” because of the involvement of his daughter’s business.
Conway’s comments were “a textbook case of a violation of the law,” Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (Md.), the committee’s top Democrat, told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.
“You cannot go out there as an employee of the government and advertise for Ivanka Trump or anyone else, their products. You can’t do that. And anybody else would be subject to a minimum, probably, of a reprimand, or they could literally lose their job over this,” he said.
Cummings added that Conway’s promotional message was “very blatant” and “intentional,” and said the Office of Government Ethics should “take a thorough look” at the situation before recommending a potential punishment.

Are Democrats Falling Into Trump’s Trap?

Frank Bruni
In one of many recent forums for the politicians vying to lead the Democratic National Committee — and, ideally, the party — out of the wilderness and into better times, the candidates were asked to distill the importance of fighting Donald Trump to 10 words or less.
I heard clichés: “Power to the people.” I heard fancy words: “Anathema.”
I heard answers over 15 and 20 and even 25 words.
Only one of the seven candidates onstage at this particular event — which took place in Washington just two days before Trump’s inauguration — came in under the limit, with a reply that was more upbeat than downbeat and more assertive than reactive.
“Freedom, fairness, families, future,” said Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., using four words. “I got six left?”
He did. And the party has problems, underscored by its general inability to be as succinct and blunt as Trump is. Even Buttigieg’s alliterative bouquet of nouns lacked the muscle of “Make America great again,” a darkly coded, dopily elementary slogan that nonetheless did the trick.
Have Democrats learned and implemented all the right lessons from Trump’s victory and from the party’s brutal fade during Barack Obama’s presidency? As the race for the D.N.C. chairmanship lurches toward its conclusion later this month and as Democratic lawmakers sweat the smartest strategy against Trump, I wonder. I worry.
The good news is that there’s an outrage among Democrats that’s commensurate with the outrageousness of Trump’s behavior. You saw this at the Women’s March. You see it in the way that protesters storm the town-hall meetings that Republican lawmakers hold in their home districts.
You see it in the unprecedented volume of “no” votes against Trump’s cabinet nominees by Democratic senators, whose opposition reflects a flood of impassioned appeals from constituents. You see it in Elizabeth Warren, who is taking full-throated advantage of the gift that Mitch McConnell handed her last week.
But the bad news — or, rather, the danger — is that this doesn’t automatically translate into successful opposition. It’s no guarantee that Trump will be contained and, after four years at most, forced to live out the balance of his fuming, fibbing days in the lavishly marbled cloisters of Trump Tower and Mar-a-Lago.
Yelling has an impact, but it takes you only so far if you don’t choose your battles, marshal your fiercest energy for ones that can yield concrete results, and buckle down to the nitty-gritty of electing legislators who can actually vote against Trump’s worst initiatives in numbers that exceed those of his abettors.
Betsy DeVos has already been confirmed, heaven help us; I’m not sure what good protesters did by blocking her entry into a Washington public school on Friday. It was cathartic, theatrical and less important than blocking any unwise legislation hatched at her bidding. Save the fire for that.
Practicality is crucial. Proportionality, too. When you treat every last tweet of Trump’s as if it’s the botched operation in Yemen, voters lose sight of the botched operation in Yemen.
Trump provokes ire by the minute, but the response needs to be fashioned by the day or even week, lest everything blur. Resistance is a dish best served with discernment. Too much salt and you can’t taste the food itself.
That’s the trap with Trump, and Democrats fell into it during the presidential election, either not realizing how thoroughly he became the reference point for every conversation or not figuring out a way to mitigate that. Opposition to him crowded out support for anything else. Every negative moment came at the expense of a positive one.
“The Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton pretty much communicated what was bad about Trump but failed to communicate what was great about Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party,” said Sally Boynton Brown, the executive director of the Democratic Party in Idaho. She, too, is running for the top job at the D.N.C., and we spoke in late January in Houston, the site of another of the candidate forums.
I also caught up there with former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, one of her rivals for the post. “What voters heard from Clinton,” he told me, “was not ‘I feel your pain’ but ‘Vote for me because he’s crazy,’ and that’s not a message.”
By the time of the Houston event, the field of contenders for the D.N.C. chairmanship was up to 10. I sat down with more than half of them, and noticed a contradiction between their rightful worry about focusing too much on Trump and their continued focus on … Trump. That dynamic was reflected in a recent poll showing that while 41 percent of Democrats were unfamiliar with their party’s Senate leader, Chuck Schumer, only 29 percent were unfamiliar with Trump’s apocalyptic guru, Steve Bannon. Democrats at all levels are clearer on their enemies than on their agenda.
And they’re constantly swerving from vision to process: It’s a tic they can’t control. In Houston I was told that the party needed a more transparent presidential nominating system. And better voter-registration drives. And increased coordination between the D.N.C., the D.C.C.C. and the D.S.C.C. I supped on an alphabet soup.
“We didn’t make house calls,” said Perez.
“We abandoned the 50-state strategy,” said Keith Ellison, a Minnesota congressman also running for the chairmanship.
All of that’s true. But none of it gets at larger challenges that were much less frequently mentioned, if at all: the necessity of grooming and rallying behind candidates who can forge an emotional connection with voters and are in sync with the moment; the imperative of studying the map, identifying every Senate and House seat that could possibly swing to Democrats in 2018 and playing a ruthlessly pragmatic game of chess; the articulation of a down-to-earth, visceral message that resonates with as many voters as possible. “I’m with her” didn’t cut it.
Another of the D.N.C. candidates, Raymond Buckley, the chairman of the Democratic Party in New Hampshire, acknowledged to me, “Sometimes we try to impress ourselves too much by talking about issues that are overly complex when the populace really wants you to boil it down to a much more simplistic message.”
What might that message be? “Hope and opportunity,” he said. That’s Obama’s old mantra, with “change” swapped out for a word with more syllables.
And what about change? Voters in 2016 made clear their hunger for it, and then the top three Democrats in the House — Nancy Pelosi, 76, Steny Hoyer, 77, and James Clyburn, 76 — stayed put in their positions.
Three weeks after the election, I happened to attend a meeting of Democratic up-and-comers from around the country in Washington. Hoyer addressed them, using his remarks to wander through a dense fog of economic statistics that, he said, proved the superiority of Democrats in managing the American economy. It was the antithesis of a Trump speech, and even his audience of political nerds fidgeted.
Listening to him that night and to the D.N.C. candidates over the following months, I found myself thinking that maybe Democrats didn’t do badly enough in 2016. They routinely remind me and reassure themselves that Clinton won the popular vote and that if you subtract James Comey, Julian Assange and Vladimir Putin, she might have triumphed as well in the Electoral College, where Trump prevailed by just 77,000 votes.
“That’s an operational failure rather than a message failure or a candidate failure,” said Jaime Harrison, the chairman of South Carolina’s Democratic Party and another contender to lead the D.N.C.
But it’s all of the above, because someone as preposterous as Trump should have been too far behind to benefit from tiny margins and lucky breaks. And operational failures alone can’t explain the Democratic disadvantages in the Senate, House, governor’s offices and statehouses. This is no moment for mere tinkering, and the party can’t afford the internal divisions on display in the D.N.C. race. After Joe Biden endorsed Perez last week, Bernie Sanders, who supports Ellison, shot back, “Do we stay with a failed status quo approach or do we go forward with a fundamental restructuring?”
You don’t wage 2016 all over again. That’s what brought us 2017, a year that — so far — I don’t care to repeat.

John Podesta Says ‘Forces Within The FBI’ Wanted Hillary Clinton To Lose

“I think to this day it’s inexplicable that they were so casual about the investigation of the Russian penetration of the DNC emails.”

Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta criticized the FBI on Wednesday for how it responded to the Democratic National Committee’s hacked emails, which U.S. intelligence agencies say Russia stole and gave to WikiLeaks in order to tip the election to President Donald Trump.
“I think to this day it’s inexplicable that they were so casual about the investigation of the Russian penetration of the DNC emails,” Podesta said during a cybersecurity panel at the NewCo Shift Forum in San Francisco, according to TechCrunch. Clinton campaign general counsel Marc Elias and CrowdStrike president Shawn Henry, whose firm investigated the DNC hacks, were also on the panel.
“They didn’t even bother to send an agent to the DNC,” Podesta said. “They left a couple of messages at the IT help desk saying, ‘You might want to be careful.’”
“There are at least forces within the FBI that wanted her to lose,” he added.
Some FBI employees were reportedly incensed when Director James Comey decided not to recommend an indictment over the former secretary of state’s private email server. A current agent told The Guardian in November that the agency was “Trumpland.”
The FBI didn’t notify the DNC in person about the hack until months after it had occurred, according to a deeply reported story from The New York Times last year. Agents contacted a low-level staffer at the DNC’s IT desk who initially believed the phone call was a prank, according to the Times.
Hackers gained access to Podesta’s email account via a phishing scheme that was precipitated due to an aide’s unfortunate typo, the Times reports. The aide had meant to warn Podesta about the “illegitimate email” but instead wrote “legitimate email.” Podesta disputed the notion that he fell victim to a phishing scheme in an interview with TechCrunch following the panel, however.
“Woulda, coulda, shoulda,” he said. “I don’t think it was an issue of what the strength of my password was. Although I now have stronger passwords.”
Podesta also said the American public deserved to know more about Russia’s meddling in the election, and its motivation for doing so.
“It wasn’t just that they didn’t like Hillary Clinton’s pantsuit, it was that Putin had a vendetta about her and her tenure as secretary of state,” he told TechCrunch. “But mostly it was about Trump having adopted positions that were extraordinarily friendly to Putin and strongly at odds with a bipartisan collection of national security officials and people overseas.”

Music - Junoon Soundtrack - Neend Aati Nahin | Zoe Viccaji with Imam Hamdani

Afghanistan - Look who’s back in Kabul

By Yousaf Rafiq

Only when Kabul realises that the situation in Afghanistan will finally be ‘contained’ when all regional countries play together will there be some manner of coherence in his strategy.
How ironic that after rubbishing Pakistan’s so called ‘good Taliban’ policy for a good decade the Afghan government pulls a similar stunt of its own. Perhaps Ghani didn’t quite factor in the reaction from the people of Afghanistan, not the least its capital, when he decided to pardon the ‘butcher of Kabul’, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and maybe give him a position in government. Already the other part of the coalition government has expressed shock and horror, and most Afghans — of the few allowed to express their opinions — have voiced very serious concerns.
The move is self-defeating for two main reasons. One, it undoes of much that has been achieved in parliament since the Karzai days. Back then, when the Americans helped stitch together to loose government, a group of older and a group of younger people dominated the House. The older were in favour of reconciliation with all insurgent groups, especially the Taliban; even incorporating them in the government in Kabul. But the younger lot, which had come to the fore after the decades of the Soviet war and the civil war, would have nothing of the old ways. They have since been dead against peace or reconciliation with the insurgents. And never, in any case, any position in government.
And two, it achieves nothing. Hekmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami is a spent force. Sure, they have some presence in two or three provinces, but it poses no challenge to the government or the Taliban. A deal with the Taliban, despite the expected outcry from the progressive bloc, would still be understandable in terms of cost-benefit. They have been gaining momentum for years now. And the annual Spring Offensive now traditionally sees them build a strong start and then snowball. Ending the fight before they gain more ground — even though they will never retake Kabul — could be forgiven, even if it means some of the bad guys would be very prominent in Kabul.
Those expecting Hekmatyar to quickly make a few phone calls and help break the ice between the government and some of his old friends might have to eat their words sooner rather than later too. For one thing, most of those friends just do not talk to him any longer. After the betrayals and counter-betrayals and mass murders of the civil war of the ‘90s — when good old Gulbuddin was Pakistan’s blue eyed, played a central role and was even made prime minister — nobody trusted anybody anymore. For another, a lot of those old friends reconciled their way to Kabul ahead of him; in the Karzai days. And they are already persona non grata again, and there’s precious little Hekmatyar will be able to do about it.
So why go through all the trouble of easing back a notorious bad guy; especially since it comes at the risk of further fracturing the coalition government and alienating almost all segments of society? And why were the UN and US so eager to play along? Why is Hekmatyar suddenly no longer a ‘global terrorist’? Since it achieves little that can be measured, could it be that the whole exercise was undertaken just for optics? If so, what message is Ghani exactly trying to give, especially since it fails to resonate with half the government and almost all of the people?
Pakistan, of course, is the last consideration for the Afghan government as it goes about dealing with its unending insurgency. And the Americans have so far been pretty quiet since the Trump administration took office. So, most likely, their previous working arrangement is still in play. But surely Kabul’s move has failed to incorporate recent developments closer to the region. The Chinese and Russians have finally stepped into the fray. Since the Afghan conflict affects them far more directly than the Americans and its NATO allies, it’s about time that they take a more direct part in wrapping it up.
Maybe Kabul is just unhappy that they are choosing to work with Pakistan. If that is true, Ghani will also spend the rest of his days trying to end the war unsuccessfully. And, much more seriously, the Taliban will continue gaining ground slowly but surely. Even if Washington suddenly makes radical decisions, there’s little likelihood of it really ending the war no matter what it does. It’s already tried filling the country with troops, and throwing a ton of money at it, but the problem has only grown.
Only when Kabul realises that the situation in Afghanistan will finally be ‘contained’ when all regional countries play together will there be some manner of coherence in his strategy. And that is also when there will be some semblance of order in Afghanistan’s hybrid government. But that also means realising that, for good or for bad, the road to Afghanistan runs through Pakistan; at least in this matter it does. And since there is a perfect double coincidence of wants between Kabul and Islamabad — both want what the other can deliver; action against their respective Taliban groups — the time to work together could not be more ripe.
For the time being, though, it’s unlikely that good sense will find its way to Kabul’s presidential palace anytime soon. Ghani’s unlikely to think of another route so soon after his Hekmatyar gambit. He’ll definitely wait to see how it plays out. Hopefully he would have read the latest UN report about his country that just came out.
It stressed upon all warring factions, once again, to immediately halt all forms of hostilities. It went on to remind them, as usual, of the horrendous cost of the war on ordinary, poor, deprived Afghans, who number well in the hundreds of thousands. If they had a voice they would have told the president of the times when foreign influence, arms and money propelled Hekmatyar to prime minister, and how he chose to shell Kabul instead. They would surely have told them what they thought of his opinion to welcome him back.

Media in Pakistan more independent, less responsible: study

The Institute of Business Management (IoBM), in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), released a study on Thursday analysing the Media Responsibility and Independence Index (MRII) in Pakistan.
With the emergence of electronic media in the country, civil society and journalists have complained that media trespasses all ethical barriers in its rush to break news.
The newly emerged breaking news culture in the last decade has forced the media professionals and academicians to debate on the subject in order to outline a charter or code of conduct to avoid sensationalism of news.
While the journalists across the country often claim that the media does not enjoy its desired independence and liberty, the outcome of the study reveals otherwise.
The study suggested the “concerned stakeholders” believe the media in Pakistan is relatively independent, but the degree of responsibility it demonstrates falls shorter of its claims.
“MRII is a measure of two critical and interdependent variables: responsibility and independence,” said IoBM Media Studies Head of Department Ejaz Wasay. “It has been designed for a better understanding of the status of journalistic freedom in the country and media’s commitment towards the rights, liberty and welfare of citizens,” he added.
The survey’s result, which comprised 399 respondents, was divided in five categories: media professionals (38 per cent), general public (22.6 per cent), educated youth (19.5 per cent), civil society (11.3 per cent) and political activists (7.8 per cent).
“The research methodology and questionnaire were shared with the experts’ panel on the Pakistan Citizen Media Forum (PCMF), and comprised media professionals, representatives of the academia, civil society and All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS),” said Wasay. Traditional scale of 1-10 was used to estimate the “critical aspects” of media responsibility and media independence. The net scores stood at 5.46:5.75, suggesting that the sense of responsibility among the media in Pakistan is somewhat weaker in relation to the independence it currently enjoys.
It was an underlying assumption of the study that only when these two aspects would be in balance, and above a certain threshold, could the preservation of democracy and human rights be ensured.
The study also suggested some key factors to achieve and maintain a vibrant and impartial media environment:
Absence of monopoly over information dissemination.
Regular and timely dissemination of information (news, analyses, and reports)
Pluralism to allow diversity of opinion
Maintaining objectivity and truthfulness in reporting, and
Presenting different sides of any issue, thereby empowering audiences to formulate their own informed judgment

Pakistan - The dangerous drift

Afrasiab Khattak
A virulent debate has been going on in Pakistan about the implementation of the 20 points National Action Plan (NAP) against religious extremism and terrorism since its inception on December 24, 2014.
The opposition political parties have been blaming the government of lacking the required political will and commitment for taking the short term and long term measures for eradicating the menace.
Civil and military institutions of the state have been accusing one another of not doing enough for full implementation of NAP. Pakistanis who believe in democracy and peaceful socio-economic development were hoping against hope that somehow the mentors of extremism and militancy will realise the gravity of the situation and mend their ways.
But all these hopes were dashed to dust by what appears to be the reverse implementation of NAP over the last few weeks. It is pertinent to note that progressive political parties (in comparative terms) had to face coercion of the state on one pretext or the other during the last few years apart from bearing the brunt of terrorist attacks. The latest blatant onslaught against the critics of misguided state policies represents a new fascist drift that creates serious questions about the peaceful future of Pakistan and the region.
Social media has been the particular target of the most recent fascist attacks.
Five social media activists Salman Haidar of Islamabad, Ahmad Raza Naseer of Nankana, Ahmad Waqas Goraya, Aasim Saeed of Lahore and Samar Abbas of Karachi have been released after their abduction three weeks back. They were kidnapped between January 4 and 7 from different cities.
Apparently they were neither formally charged of any offense nor produced in any court of law. No government department or institution accepted responsibility for their abduction, although from circumstantial evidence it is pretty obvious that some state security institution might have been involved.
Their release came as mysteriously as their kidnapping, but during their absence a vicious campaign was launched against them on social media and on some TV channels accusing them of having committed blasphemy. A similarly vicious campaign targeted even those journalists, civil society activists and political cadres who raised their voices against kidnapping of the bloggers.
Most of the protesters explained that their protest was against abductions and if the government proceeds against any one charged under law of the land they would have no problem with that. But such explanations fell on deaf ears as the fascist mindset behind the campaign was least interested in equity, fairness and rule of law. Their purpose is to bulldoze and bury the dissent at every cost and that includes taking of human lives. This is too serious a situation to be ignored.
Therefore the kidnapping saga cannot be left to get lost into oblivion as it can make the fascist onslaught on dissent a new normal. What is extremely disturbing is the abject failure of the state to provide protection to its citizens. During the three weeks all the three main organs of state, legislature, executive and judiciary remained clueless about the abductions of citizens in plain sight.
They either remained passive or were confined to making appeals to the abductors on compassionate grounds. So where is the social contract that provides legitimacy to state authority on the ground that it will fulfill its basic duty by providing security to the citizens? Again one must accept the fact that enforced disappearances is a wide spread phenomena in Pakistan for quite some time and these were definitely not the first cases.
Baloch nationalists have been facing large scale enforced disappearances and unfortunately the courts, mainstream media and most of the political parties have been ignoring the issue. The so called war on terror has also been used to justify abductions by state security agencies in almost every part of the country with total impunity.
But the only difference in the previous cases of enforced disappearances and the latest one is the large scale hue and cry that was raised against the kidnapping of social media activists in the capital and urban centers. This protest was again met by typical fascist tactics of intimidation and terror. Accusations of blasphemy were recklessly hurled against all and sundry with the full knowledge that it can be a death warrant for the persons being targeted by the vicious campaign.
But that exactly seems to be the violence inciting hate campaign.
Most diabolical was the brazen nexus between the abductors of the bloggers and the extremist/terrorist circles in building the aforementioned campaign.
They weren’t shy at all to publicly support and reinforce each other in suffocating citizen’s voices that were criticising the state policy for appeasement of the extremist militants. Hate speech was full supposed to be curbed by the state under NAP but it was used with impunity against all those who dared to raise voice against it.
PEMRA had totally lost control.
Even the Supreme Court of Pakistan found it difficult to implement its restraining orders against hate speech by a TV channel that became a mouthpiece of bloodshed seeking fanaticism. Question, is are these “rogue elements” more powerful than the state institutions including the legislature, the executive and the judiciary, and can they keep the state and society hostage? Unfortunately based on ground realities the answer is in the affirmative, even if we decide to live in denial.
Making a mockery of the NAP, banned extremist/militant organisations are thriving. No shift in the policy of mentoring “good Taliban” is in sight. In fact this project enjoys as strong a support as the CPEC if not more.
But if historical experience is anything to go by, the aforementioned dangerous drift can be ultimately suicidal. Those who are gloating at the latest Russian interest in Afghan Taliban should not forget that US had also once supported Saddam Hussain’s adventure against Kuwait and Iran.
But that adventurism only brought Iraq on the wrong side of international norms and led to its ultimate undoing.
It won’t be different for Pakistan.

Pakistan - Interview with Hina Rabbani Khar - “It’s a reactive foreign policy”

Interview with Hina Rabbani Khar – politician and former foreign minister
“It’s a reactive foreign policy”
Hina Rabbani Khar.

The News on Sunday (TNS): What does the house arrest of Hafiz Saeed really mean for Pakistan? Has it finally submitted to international pressure, from the US and/or China, to curtail the activities of JuD and various other related outfits?
Hina Rabbani Khar (HRK): We do not want Hafiz Saeed or people like him to be representatives of our country. There is always this unsaid or between-the-lines insinuation that the state of Pakistan has been supporting them. This is all completely against Pakistan’s national interest, internally as well as externally. And, I must say, I’m more concerned about the internal policies – if you sort out your house your international reputation will improve naturally. The image of Pakistan will change. Organisations banned by Pakistan should not be allowed to hold huge rallies in Islamabad. Any state is considered to be weak when it allows something like this to happen.
I’m very happy that this government finally mustered the ability to house arrest Hafiz Saeed, as you know he was arrested during the PPP time, but the courts let him go then. It would be embarrassing to know that the government has acted under international pressure, when it should have done so in the national interest.
TNS: With the arrest of Hafiz Saeed, do you see a shift in Pakistan’s Kashmir policy? Is it moving away from being India-centric?
HRK: I think Pakistan’s policy on dealing with extremists has always been between black and white. Presently, I see us in the grey area but I would like us to get closer to a lighter shade of grey, and ultimately get to white – to show complete unacceptability or complete elimination of space for entities like Hafiz Saeed to function on the soil of Pakistan. These people have not helped the cause of Kashmir, instead they’ve spoilt the moral high ground that should be the mainstay of our Kashmir policy.

TNS: The extent of Chinese involvement in Pakistan is vast. Are Pakistan’s relations with China the only strong point of our foreign policy? Is it really ‘sweeter than honey’?
I’m at a loss. Educate me. Even the foreign office doesn’t know, I think. They do not know who to look to, Sartaj Aziz or Tariq Fatemi. In fact, by not appointing the foreign minister, the government has weakened the foreign office.
HRK: For the PML-N government, China remains the only strong point of their foreign policy. We’re all very proud of the investments China in making in our country. It carries immense value for Pakistan. But should it be the only relationship? During the PPP government, China was one of the focal points; in fact that’s when the foundation of the CPEC was laid by taking the Gwadar Port away from the Singapore Port Authority, enabling China to play a role in it. We called it the regional pivot, not the China pivot. So we were investing in transforming our relations with all our immediate neighbours, Afghanistan, Iran, India and China.
Regional pivot means that you are comfortable with your geography and are accepting of the fact that ‘peace within’ requires ‘peace without’, in the sense that you need to be at peace with your neighbours, invest in good relations and build trust. I believe countries closest to Pakistan are the most important — then as you zoom out, the level of importance decreases. No country has prospered without accepting its regional reality. Traditionally, Pakistan has done the opposite, which is wrong. We first zoom out, the US is our most sought after partner, and then as we zoom in — other than China no other country has seemed important to us. Historically, we’ve tried to manage all our regional relationships via Washington DC.
TNS: So, how do you see the regional scenario evolving with the change of government in the US? What challenges does Pakistan face in the emerging regional politics?
HRK: The US is not willing to invest in this region more than it already has. You see how Afghanistan was not even an issue in the Presidential debate. Afghanistan is not page 1 news anymore. So, the US is rather happy with China playing a strategic role in the region. We do see the US getting into a strategic relationship with India though.
However, a rather interesting development in the region is the developing Russia-Afghanistan-India-Pakistan-China nexus. These regional countries have a greater ability to have a solution-oriented approach to the Afghan issue. Many people will be uncomfortable with India being part of this group but it’s better to have India as part of the solution than part of the problem. In diplomacy we have to engage with countries that threaten you, not ignore them or wage proxy wars with them. I think this region has had enough of proxy wars and therefore all these regional players need to sit around a table and work on co existing peacefully.
A rather interesting development in the region is the developing Russia-Afghanistan-India-Pakistan-China nexus.
TNS: Our relations with Afghanistan have turned for the worse in recent months. We’ve seen frequent war of words and guns too. In an attempt to improve the relations, Gen Bajwa tried to reach out to Ashraf Ghani to initiate talks between Afghanistan and Taliban. Will such friendly gestures help improve the strained relations between the two neighbours? What more needs to be done?
HRK: This government lost a golden opportunity with Ashraf Ghani’s overture when a memorandum of understanding was signed by which Pakistan would help train Afghan intelligence officers, take part in the interrogation of terror suspects and conduct joint operations, alongside many other long standing wish list items for Pakistan. They even offered to stop taking any military support from India. He came all out to cater to our concerns on his first state visit to Pakistan in 2015. This was very significant because we know the anti-Pakistan lobby in Afghanistan is very strong. That was really the time for Pakistan to support him and keep the timelines to various commitments. But sadly we didn’t. What does it show? Clearly lack of will or ability to invest in long-term policy.
During the PPP government, we made it very clear that we have no favourites in Afghanistan and we reached out to all kinds of people, Tajiks, non-Pashtuns, Hazara, etc. That’s what this government needs to do as well. This government has remained embroiled in occurrences; it’s a reactive rather than a proactive foreign policy management.
TNS: Where do you think the relations between Pakistan and Iran are heading? Can we afford to look at Iran through the lens of someone else’s rivalry?
HRK: The Iranian portfolio is being completely ignored. We embarrassed President Hassan Rouhani when he came to Pakistan last year. I don’t think we should view our relations with Iran from the lens of any other nation’s rivalry. Good relations with Iran are in our national interest.
It will be a fatal mistake for Pakistan to align with the Islamic Military Alliance. Why get into a fight that is not ours? Our soldiers are fighting on a daily basis inside Pakistan’s territory so what is our business to become allies in a faraway fight when we have not even sorted our house.
TNS: Who controls the foreign policy?
HRK: I’m at a loss. Educate me. Even the foreign office doesn’t know, I think. They do not know who to look to, Sartaj Aziz or Tariq Fatemi. In fact, by not appointing the foreign minister, the government has weakened the foreign office. Who is to be blamed if the government leaves a vacuum, and someone else comes and fills it?

Music Video - Shabnam and Waheed Murrad - Naheed Akhtar

Video - Film actress Shabnam arrives in Karachi -Feb 10, 2017

Pakistan - Karachi welcomes Shabnam with open arms

Karachi might have changed a lot since Shabnam last saw it in 2012 but the love and appreciation she still receives has not changed at all.
The jam packed session of the yesteryear superstar on the second day of the 8th Karachi Literature Festival was a testimony to that. The determination to see the actress was such that the 30-minute delay in Shabnam reaching the venue hardly deterred any of her fans from attending the session, being moderated by actress Bushra Ansari.

With limited time on her hands, Ansari quickly asked a question that most of the people in the audience wanted to know: does Shabnam want to come back to Pakistan and act. And to the audience’s delight, she responded that given an opportunity, she would love to come back and work.
“The overwhelming love that I receive here makes me want to come back,” she said in Urdu with a tinge of Bengali accent.
Ansari further asked why the Lollywood superstar left her career and move back to Bangladesh. “After having worked in the industry, I thought it was my time to retire,” she said, adding that she wanted to spend more time with her family and believed it was her time to bid acting adieu.
Discussing her marital life, the former actress said that her husband, music composer Robin Ghosh, had shown complete trust in her and let her excel in her career. “It was a time when we did not have cellphones and he would have my entire day’s schedule and we would work accordingly,” she reminisced. Citing an incident on her punctuality, she said that once she had reached a movie set and the only people she found were the sweepers.
Language had initially been a barrier in Shabnam’s film career but her determination and dedication helped her overcome that barricade. “After my first two movies became hits, I was flooded with many offers but I was scared to accept them since I did not understand the language,” she said, adding that she had to spend two years to learn how to read and write Urdu.
In response to another question, Shabnam said that the port city had changed a lot since she visited it last. “It was better when we were poorer and had less cars,” Ansari humorously added.


Pakistan Peoples Party Karachi General Secretary Senator Saeed Ghani on Friday said that key figures of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement would join the PPP soon.
He was addressing a press conference at the PPP Media Cell where local leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Awami National Party and All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) announced joining the PPP. He was accompanied by PPP MNA Shahjahan Baloch and Rashid Rabbani. He said that they were in touch with some key MQM personalities and soon they would be part of the PPP. “This is a wrong perception that entire Urdu-speaking community was associated with the MQM,” he said.
Ghani said that they would welcome people from different political parties who had joined PPP ranks. He said that everybody was aware of the role of the PPP for strengthening democracy in the country.
He said that it was the vision of the party that people from different political parties were joining hands with the PPP for a better future.
Responding to a query, Saeed Ghani opposed condition of CNIC of the head of the family for registration from the census team and said that all people should be counted in the census count so that real figures of immigrants could be revealed.
He rubbished aside claims that PPP was involved in giving clean chit to those involved in killing policemen in the city and said that they were not in government during the 1996-2008 tenure.
“We got a demoralised police force in 2008 and then we gave them the courage to fight against the menace of terrorism.”
Earlier on January 8, several activists of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP), Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM), All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) and Awami National Party (ANP) joined the PPP after their meeting with Senator Saeed Ghani.
The announcement was made at a press briefing after the meeting. Those who joined the PPP were Saqib Umar and Kamran Siddiqui of the PSP; Maulana Khair Hussain, Maulana Nusrat Ali and Maulana Sajjad of the MWM; Muhammad Ismail, Zain Raza, Ahmed, Nazish, Kashif and Abdul Majid of the MQM and Zaheer Ahmed and Saddam of the ANP.
Speaking on the occasion, Saeed Ghani said that a large number of people wanted to join the PPP. “Important figures of some political parties will also make announcements about joining the PPP soon,” he said. He said the PPP wanted to take all stakeholders along for progress and prosperity of the city.
Responding to MQM leaders’ call for division of the Sindh province, Ghani said that they should first take control of Nine Zero and then think about division of the province. He said that courts should dispense justice to people in due course of time because delay in justice would tantamount to denial of justice.
Ghani said that many more members of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) would join the PPP soon. He said, “Bogus cases have been lodged against former minister for petroleum Dr Asim Hussain.” He said, “Hundreds of people were pledging their allegiance to the PPP. The PTI will lose many of its members soon.”