Saturday, March 11, 2017

Invasion of Yemen in Blatant Derogation of International Law: Extensive War Crimes Committed

One year before overthrowing Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2012, the Security Council of the UN, anxious about the events happening in Yemen, issued a resolution according to which all belligerent sides should immediately reject violence and called on them to commit a peaceful transition of power.
On 21 February 2012, in contradiction to the resolution and the article 108 of the constitution of Yemen, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, then vice president, held a presidential election in which he was the sole candidate, and as a result of which he became president for two years. When Shia insurgency intensified against Hadi, he abdicated in January 2015 and fled to Saudi Arabia requesting help from that country.
On 26 March a coalition of some Arab countries, as well as Pakistan, under the command of Saudi Arabia invaded Yemen calling their operation “al-Hazm Storm”. The Arab countries of Morocco, Sudan, Egypt, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and UAE have taken part in the operation, and Somalia allowed the coalition to use its military bases to invade Yemen.
The coalition claims that the reason of its attack to Yemen was the letter which has been written by Hadi, after his abdication, requesting the UN and Saudi Arabia to intervene in Yemen by land force. On the other hand, the coalition forces, in their letter to the UN, claimed that the Houthis seek for hegemony on Yemen, using this country as a base to affect the region. Therefore, they claimed, the threat of Houthis is not only against the security, stability, and sovereignty of Yemen, but also against the peace and security of the region as well as international community. Pondering on the letter, it could be inferred that the coalition is not worried about the people of Yemen, but they are deeply scared of the impact of some other countries on Yemen. In fact, Saudi Arabia is deeply anxious about Yemen to be out of Saudi’s control, which was continuous for consecutive decades.
The invasion of Yemen entailed different reactions amongst different countries. Although the US, Canada, France, the UK, Israel, and Turkey, are amongst the supporters of the invasion, Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria were against the attack. China and the UN also declared their anxiousness about the invasion.
Prohibition of the use of force is one of the basic principles on which international law has been founded. According to Article 2(4) of the Charter of the UN, all members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.
According to The Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States adopted by the General Assembly on 24 October 1970 (resolution 2625 (XXV)), “A war of aggression constitutes a crime against the peace, for which there is responsibility under international law.”
According to the declaration, “States have the duty to refrain from propaganda for wars of aggression … [and] every State has the duty to refrain from the threat or use of force to violate the existing international boundaries of another State.” Although the declaration is not legally bounding, it is an important reliable document for the interpretation of the relevant rules of the UN charter. Therefore, the use of force for furthering national policy as well as interference in internal affairs of other countries, create the infringement of basic principles of international law.
The prohibition of the use of force has some exceptions, including self-defence and collective security system, which are not enforceable on the case of Yemen. No armed attack had been occurred by Yemen against the members of the coalition. Although the security council in its resolutions number 2201 and 2216 has considered Hadi as president of Yemen and referred to his letter in which he had requested help from the Arab League, the reliability of the resolutions, because of their being against ius cogens, ought to be regarded with suspicion. Many defenceless civilian Yemeni people were killed by the recurrent air strikes of the coalition which attacked them indiscriminately.
Although it has been claimed that the invasion has taken place based on the letter of Yemeni’s president, in should be said that Hadi was not the president of Yemen at the time of the letter. He, and his cabinet, had abdicated before as a result of a popular uprising, not as a result of a coup or something like that, as in Haiti in 1991. Therefore, he was not the representative of Yemeni people to request international community to intervene in Yemen.
To sum up, considering the rules of international law, it seems that the military operation of the coalition against Yemen is in contrast to international law; because of the fact that it was not an occupation by another state, such as Kuwait in 1990, and it was not a military coup, in contrast to the claims of Hadi, in Yemen. The Yemeni people would like to overthrow Hadi; but he supressed them with ultimate cruelty; for example, in the bloody Friday of 8 March 2011, more than 50 people were killed and 240 were wounded. Instead of listening to the demands of the downtrodden people of Yemen, the government of Hadi tried to suppress them violently; and it was condemned several times by international organisations, such as amnesty international and the UN. Now the breach of the sovereignty of Yemen and its territorial integrity is against the goals and purposes of the UN Charter. Being against humanitarian international law, it not does not help to create peace and security in the region; but it helps the terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda to grow up.


Amnesty International has slammed the Saudi regime and its allies for dropping cluster bombs on residential areas in Yemen despite the global outcry against the use of such internationally-banned weapons by the Riyadh-led coalition.
In a Thursday statement, the UK-based rights group said the Brazilian-manufactured munitions were used by the Saudi-led coalition in a February 15 attack on three residential districts and agricultural land in the northern province of Sa’ada, wounding two people.
The report also said that the coalition fired cluster munitions in October 2015 and May 2016.
The coalition “absurdly justifies its use of cluster munitions by claiming it is in line with international law, despite concrete evidence of the human cost to civilians caught up in the conflict,” said Lynn Maalouf, research director at Amnesty’s Beirut regional office.
“Cluster munitions are inherently indiscriminate weapons that inflict unimaginable harm on civilian lives,” she said.
Amnesty called on Brazil “to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions and urged Saudi Arabia and coalition members to put an end to all use of cluster munitions.”
The weapons can contain dozens of smaller bomblets, dispersing over vast areas, often killing and maiming civilians long after they are dropped.
Multiple rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have on various occasions reported the use of cluster bombs by Riyadh’s military in Yemen.

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Bilawal Bhutto felicitates Hindus on “Holi” festival

Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Saturday extended felicitations to the Hindu community on the eve of “Holi” festival being celebrated on Sunday in Pakistan and across the world.
In his felicitation message here on Saturday, the PPP Chairman said that he had himself visited Umerkot to celebrate Holi with our non-Muslim brothers and sisters last year.
However, this year due to the pressing engagements for the Party reorganization process in Lahore, he could not attend Holi festivities personally.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that his Party was the true torch-bearer of the mission carried out by country’s founding father
Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and founders of democracy Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto for an egalitarian Pakistan with diverse people living coherently and peacefully.
PPP Chairman said that Holi celebrations historically encompassed victory of good over the evil and urged for special prayers on the occasion for peace, progress and prosperity in our country. 


Pakistani experts on the issue of terrorism said that the militants have hijacked national religious narrative and jihadi narrative for Afghanistan and Kashmir was developed in Punjab province.

Speaking at Jirga, Geo News channel programme hosted by Saleem Safi, Amir Rana and Mujahid Hussain expressed their views on terrorism.
Saleem Safi referred to the study of Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies and said that here were only 6 religious parties when Pakistan came into being in 1947 but during the tenure of military rule of General Ziaul Haq, their numbers increased to hundreds despite the fact that at the beginning of his rule, there were only 30 religious parties.
He said that there were 239 religious parties in 2002 and of them 148 were involved in sectarianism. He said that 12 organisations preached caliphate as their political system.
Mujahid Hussain said that there were many militant outfits in Punjab and trend of militancy was not limited to southern Punjab alone but it is everywhere in all over Punjab where thousands of militants are settled.
He said that two major political parties formed alliance with banned terrorist outfits. He said that most of them terrorists/militants had studied in (Deobandi) seminaries.

Bilawal Bhutto announces to hold public meetings in Punjab

Pakistan People s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has announced to hold public meetings in Punjab once again, reported Dunya News.

According to details, an important meeting of the Pakistan Peoples Party was held in Lahore. The meeting was chaired by Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
At the occasion, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari announced to hold public meetings in Punjab. He let it be known that the party will soon announce the date for the public meeting at Multan and also the schedule for other upcoming rallies. PPP (Central Punjab Chapter) President Qamar Zamar Kaira revealed at the occasion Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif are not the ones who are exposed to threat from terrorism; instead it’s PPP that is at risk when it comes to the issue.
He demanded that security be given to the leaders of Pakistan Peoples Party.
At the occasion, PPP Chairman also interviewed certain candidates from Sahiwal, Pakpattan, Okara, Sheikhupura and Nankana Sahib for their appointment at certain party s posts.
Bilawal Bhutto also directed party members to accelerate the political activities within Punjab.
After the meeting, Qamar Zamar Kaira briefed the media as he also expressed his sorrow over the scuffle that broke out between the parliamentarians on Thursday.
He let it be known that the offensive remarks against women cannot be tolerated in any case.
The leadership of Pakistan Peoples Party let it be known that by having reservations over the military courts do not mean that we are in the favor of terrorism.
PPP leaders professed that it is on the basis of their suggestions that the rights of testimony and lawyer have been considered now.

Pakistan - Zardari felicitates Hindus on Holi

Former President Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday felicitated the Hindu community of Pakistan on eve of Holi being observed on Sunday.
"May the celebrations also usher in peace, prosperity and joy not only in the lives of Hindus but in the lives of all people," he said in his message issued here.
Zardari, who is also co-chairman of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), said the festival of Holi symbolized the triumph of good over evil and of light over darkness.
"The underlying message of this symbolism is that instead of bemoaning the darkness we should light a candle and instead of bemoaning hatred we should plant the seeds of love," he added.
He assured the Hindus and all non-Muslim minorities that the PPP stood by them in their struggle against religious apartheid.
He said he was confident that the Hindus and all other non-Muslim brethren would continue to make their valuable contributions for the prosperity of Pakistan and promoting inter-faith harmony.

Pakistan - Uproar in National Assembly – again!

Expletives and a brawl befoul the House
The cowed and stressed common man, already bowed down under the weight of myriad problems of everyday existence, witnessed another worrying rowdy exhibition of fisticuffs by the honourable members he has sent to the august House to make his wretched life a little more cheerful. In fact, these macho displays of outraged manhood and misconceived respectability, abuse, sloganeering, yelling and ripping up copies of agenda, are now spiralling, both inside and outside the Assembly. It is a scene that depresses and demoralises, apart from disrupting the rare occasions when quorum is complete, as such raucous scenes are invariably followed by a sulking walkout by the offended members, as has happened now. Sadly, the only issue which attracts a full House without fail and a touching unanimity is when the members are voting on raising their salaries and perks.
The ugly events of Thursday were the second round in the PML-N and PTI series of bouts after the hullaballoo of January 26 inside the Assembly, involving the Minister of Petroleum and a PTI member, which quickly drew in loyalists of both sides. The latest disturbing incident occurred outside the Assembly chamber in the lobby, but its roots lay in the earlier proceedings of the House and in the questionable role of the presiding Deputy Speaker, as well as in the running feud between the ruling family, wobbling under Panama leaks, and Imran Khan, who scents Sharif blood, and is baying for it. There are no national issues or matters of principle behind these sordid squabbles.
PML-N Javed Latif’s personal remarks about Imran Khan were excessive and could have been expunged to lower tensions, the Deputy Speaker behaved in an unfair, even biased manner towards the opposition, Murad Saeed’s behaviour outside the Assembly was condemnable, but the later Press comments of Javed Latif are indefensible as they diminish the decorum of Parliament. A committee has been formed to investigate and apportion blame. It is unfortunate that the Sharif-Imran jockeying for power has spilled into the House from the streets.

Pakistan - Shameful Parliamentarians

The grotesque incident involving two parliamentarians — Javed Lateef of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) and Murad Saeed of Pakistan Tehreek I Insaf (PTI) – within the precincts of the Parliament is a grim reflection of the deteriorating ethical standards and political discourse. Mr. Lateef, a senior parliamentarian with three terms of parliament on his record, was heard using expletives moments before Mr. Saeed pounced at him to give a tight slap. This is not the first time that a hot-tempered Mr. Saeed, who is a young first time member from PTI, has exchanged heated words and misbehaved with seniors in parliament andTV studios.
After this regrettable incident, Mr. Saeed insisted for hours that he ‘had to’ assault Mr. Lateef because the latter was abusing ‘my leader’ i.e. Imran Khan. Mr. Lateef denied using expletives butin the video footage of the scuffle these can be clearly heard. This regrettable episode took another ugly turn whenMr. Lateef attacked Mr. Saeed’s sisters while speaking to the media at the entrance to the parliament house after the broil. This is simply unacceptable.
Male politicians routinely target women in their skirmishes. This is a trend embedded in our sexist culture. Both PTI and PMLN have been attacking women in their desperate attempt to settle scores. Recently, PTI supporters have been running a campaign targeting a female journalist who leaked the video of Imran Khan’s controversial chat in which he used unfortunate words, bordering on racism, for the foreign players who came to Pakistan for PSL. Before that, PMLN’s Khawaja Asif used derogatory words for PTI parliamentarian ShirinMazari.
While Mr. Lateef’s obnoxious attack on women members of Mr. Saeed’s family is condemnable in absolute terms, it cannot justify violent physical attacks. If such provocation were to be accepted, there would be no end to the physical scuffles inside or the outside parliament. It would be extremely worrying if a major political party were inclined to use provocation as justification of their legislator’s misbehavior. Deeming it as a legitimate defence implies that party leaders are prone to losing their self-control while hearing pungent remarks from their opponent. Should such persons of questionable self-control be part of such an important decision-making forum, remains another important question that party leaders must ponder upon.
Other than the misogynistic trend of targeting women, the practice of peeri-mureedi within political parties viz a viz their leaders needs to be shunned.Political parties are responsible to instilland nurture democratic culture within a polity. If legislators resort to abusive and violent behavior then it raises a big question mark about their democratic credentials. Both PMLN and PTI, at the very least should take stern action against their MNAs to set a much-needed precedent.

'93% of Pakistani women experience sexual violence'

By Mudaser Kazi
Pakistan is among those countries where 70% women and girls experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime by their intimate partners and 93% women experience some form of sexual violence in public places in their lifetime.
This was stated by founder of Madadgaar National Helpline 1098 and national commissioner for children, Zia Ahmed Awan, while quoting the statistics of international organisations during a press conference at their office on Tuesday.
Awan lauded, in tribute to the International Women Day which is celebrated on March 8 every year, the courage of the 8,897 women and children from across Pakistan who came forward in 2016 and fought for their rights and protection by calling, visiting or contacting Madadgaar’s helpline.
“The data recorded by our organisation is just the tip of the iceberg. Our helpline would [if there was awareness] have been flooded with calls from victims and survivors,” he stated, adding that only 10% cases of violence are being reported in Sindh and Punjab in media with even less reporting from Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
According to him, in order to prevent violence against women and children, the government should act boldly and announce an emergency in the country.
“For us, every day must be women’s day,” he emphasised, saying that an inefficient social justice system is the reason for different forms of violence in Pakistan.
According to the World Economic Forum, it will take another 169 years to bridge the gender gap at our current pace, he shared. “Out of the total cases reported on the helpline, the highest percentage of victims was that of women at 56%,” explained Madadgaar’s general manager Muhammad Ali Bilgrami who added that cases reported by boys were 16%, 15% by girls and 13% by men.
According to Bilgirami, 7,561 cases were reported from Sindh and the least number of cases, 306, were reported from Balochistan. Unrest, targeted killing of the legal fraternity, weak law enforcement, absence of rule of law and overall social, cultural and religious barriers stop people in Pakistan, especially women and girls, to come forward and report violence perpetrated against them, said Bilgrami.
While sharing the nature of cases reported in 2016 to Madadgaar National Helpline, Bilgrami briefed that 118 cases of child marriage, 162 of cybercrime, 14 of child abuse, 2,092 of domestic violence, 14 of forced marriage, 562 of harassment, 12 of karo-kari, 2,251 of missing children, 213 of missing women, 792 of mental torture, 5 of rape, 6 of sodomy, 10 of sexual harassment, 7 of sexual abuse and 5 cases of trafficking. Most of the violent crimes committed against women are strictly prohibited by laws in Pakistan such as child marriage, sexual violence, domestic violence, karo-kari, kidnapping and harassment, said Awan, saying that laws are however, not being implemented and there is a lack of awareness on addressing the complaints through a proper channel.
Awan also highlighted that gender-based cyber violence is on the rise in Pakistan. Children and youth are particularly at risk, he said, demanding that special courts in lower judiciary and special cells at police stations must be established to provide relief to women victims in a male chauvinist society.

PakAf - Closing the border

Afrasiab Khattak
After its closure in February, the Pak-Afghan border was reopened for two days this week to let thousands of stranded children, women and men on both sides of the border go to their homes. Many trucks and containers loaded with all sorts of goods, some of them perishable, could also proceed to their destinations. The sudden and unilateral closure of the border by Pakistani side last month had created a humanitarian crisis that was deepening with every passing day. So opening the border and providing respite to thousands of stranded people is a positive step. But its closure once again for an indefinite period doesn’t augur well for normalisation of relations between the two close neighbours. This isn’t for the first time that the border has been unilaterally closed by the Pakistani side in total violation of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement of 2010. This has become a routine strategy for Pakistan for putting pressure on Afghanistan. According to the said agreement, Afghan trucks are to enter Pakistan through Torkham (Khyber Agency), Ghulam Khan (North Waziristan) and Speen Boldak (Balochistan). There are five other lesser known crossing points that are manned and formally controlled by both sides. They are Arundu (Chitral), Gursal (Baujore), Nawa Pass (Momand Agency), Kharlachi (Kurram Agency) and Angoor Adda (South Waziristan). There are hundreds of other crossing points on the 2650 kilometres long Durand Line between Pakistan and Afghanistan (according to one estimate at least 262). So the argument of “blocking the movement of terrorists” across the border in favour of its closure doesn’t hold ground. Why would the terrorists use the crossing points where there are security forces deployed on both sides for controlling the border in the first place. This possibility weakens further when one considers the fact that there are hundreds of uncontrolled and unfrequented routes available for terrorists to use for their cross border movement. The so called border management can be at best a long term project implementable only through bilateral cooperation. Unilateral border blockade actually hurts the prospects of the mutual cooperation on the border management project.
The present confrontation on the borders is further aggravated by heavy Pakistani artillery shelling into Afghan territory and terrorist attacks on some Pakistani border posts causing loss of precious human life on both sides. So what can be the real purpose of closing border indefinitely when the claims of “border management” and “blocking terrorists” do not hold ground? Those who have been carefully following the Pakistani security establishment’s Afghan policy can tell you that we have been here before. In early 1989, the Pakistani supported Afghan Mujahideen had tried to economically strangulate the government of President Dr Najibullah by making an effort for imposing an economic blockade on the routes in eastern and southern Afghanistan. Food supplies were the particular target of that blockade. Unlike the Afghan Mujahideen of that time, the Taliban aren’t able to do it by themselves. They don’t have the capacity. In fact mentors of Taliban on the east of Durand Line are quite disappointed in them although they wouldn’t publicly accept it for obvious reasons. Taliban haven’t been able to capture and hold even a single province in the almost three years despite the vast supplies and support received by them. So the conventional wisdom is that an economic blockade will weaken the Afghan Republic, making it vulnerable to the fresh Taliban spring or summer offensive.
It is interesting to note that the obsession of Pakistani security establishment with the Talibanisation of Afghanistan has seriously undermined the economic interests of Pakistan. Since 1991, there has been a lot of talk about accessing Central Asian markets which could have been a game changer for Pakistani economy even better than CPEC in the sense that it wouldn’t have required heavy burden of foreign debts. But the main hurdle on this path has been putting Taliban first to regional trade. Under Taliban controlled Afghanistan, Pak-Afghan annual trade was around 250 million dollars. In the post Taliban era, trade had reached to 2.5 billion dollars and in 2014 both sides had agreed to raise it to 5 billion dollars. Bilateral formal trade between the two countries has drastically decreased and is heading towards zero level due to growing insecurity, tension and border closures. The contradiction between Pakistani policy of regional economic cooperation and her Afghan policy was demonstrated quite dramatically by the fact that the latest border closure came at a time when Pakistan was hosting ECO Summit for promoting region connectivity and economic cooperation. It goes without saying that projects like TAPI and CASA will have no chance of implementation in presence of Taliban militancy.
Growing Indian influence in Pakistan’s western neighbouring country is used as justification for Pakistani support for Taliban. But Pakistani makers of the country’s Afghan policy have never pondered over the fact that their crude pressure over and coercion towards Afghanistan has greatly helped India in gaining further foothold in that country. India has consistently focused on projecting its soft power in Afghanistan by building dams, roads, schools, hospitals and monuments of democracy such as parliament and court buildings. Since Pakistan supported Taliban target all these facilities of public good, it is only natural that Pakistan and her policies receive a negative perception in the minds of common Afghans. Indian policy towards Afghanistan is quite sophisticated when it comes to promoting a soft image. PM Narendra Modi makes it a point to say some Pashto and Dari words in his public speeches in Afghanistan apart from appreciating rich culture of the host country. Even Indian technocrats are so conscious about their soft policy that they call India as economic partner of Afghanistan rather than a donor. In the light of these facts is it surprising to see the expansion of Indian influence in Afghanistan?
Another socio political fallout of a prolonged border closure with Afghanistan is its intended or unintended negative impact on the economic situation of the Pashtuns living in Pakistan. Thousands of Pashtun families including businessmen, transporters and daily wagers depend on transit trade and border trade with Afghanistan. Border closure seriously punishes them. Economic deprivation coupled with recent racial profiling of Pashtun IDPs in Punjab and Sindh can deepen political alienation among them. Pakistan’s bankrupt Afghan policy which brought drugs, klashnikov culture, extremism, sectarian and terrorism in Pakistan in the past can bring ethnic polarisation as well. Can Pakistan remove the albatross of a bankrupt Afghan policy from its neck for becoming a stable and prosperous country is a question crucial for her future.

Pakistan: Killing For Honour

101 East investigates the fate of four young girls in Pakistan, where honour killings are endemic.

When a video showing four girls clapping while three brothers dance emerges in a remote Pakistani village, it quickly goes viral.
Rumours spread that tribal elders have ordered they be killed for bringing shame upon their families.
In this deeply conservative society, where 500 women are killed each year in so-called honour killings, this can be enough to drive some relatives to murder.
The intrigue deepens as a court orders the girls to be brought before a judge. But are they still alive?
101 East searches for the truth in a case that exposes the clash between old beliefs and modernity in Pakistan.