Sunday, April 30, 2017

Video - Chandani Raatain - Noor Jahan

Pakistan - Asif Zardari’s May Day Message

The observance of the international Labor Day is an occasion to pay homage to the workers and wage earners as well as to renew our pledge to defend the dignity and ensure decent living to the workers of the country.
In a message on the on the eve of international Labor Day on Monday May 1 the former President of the Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari also vowed to not permit sacking of workers in the name of privatization.
“The Party will strive hard and harder for protecting the rights and privileges of the working classes and to expand them even further”.
The Party will always stand by the working classes as they continue their struggle for dignity and rights, he said.
Asif Zardari said that the Party is keeping an eye on the privatization process and will not permit the regime to sack workers in the name of privatization. The Party saves workers’ jobs and will not allow retrenchments.
The former president said that both the founding Chairperson and his daughter Shaheed Benazir Bhutto promised workers right to job security, decent wages and right to dignity and a rightful place in society. They also struggled alongside the labor for the attainment of these rights. We will ensure that the promises made by our Shaheed leaders are fulfilled in letter and spirit, he said.
The struggle for improving the working conditions of workers and protection from exploitation is a continuous one and the Party will continue its struggle to secure the rightful place of workers in the society, he said.

PPP calls for making inquiry report in Dawn leaks made public

The Pakistan People’s Party calls upon the government to make public the inquiry report in the so called Dawn leaks to allay a host of doubts and misgivings.

In a statement Spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the unceremonious sacking of Special Assistant Mr. Tariq Fatemi and Principal Information Officer Mr. Rao Tehseen, the unprecedented advice to APNS to proceed against the Editor and Reporter and the highly unprecedented public rejection by the ISPR of actions taken as ‘incomplete and not in line with recommendations of the inquiry board’ makes it absolutely necessary that the report is made public.
Confusion is confounded by the remarks attributed earlier to Mr. Tariq Fatemi dismissing the reports that he had been shown the door.  The categorical statement of Interior Minister in Karachi on Saturday that his Ministry had not yet issued any notification just when the PM Office had indeed issued orders has given rise to several questions that need answers, he said.

The public statement by the ISPR through tweet rejecting publicly the order issued by the PM Office lends a new dimension to the incident that will give rise to some serious questions which will refuse to die down.

“The botching up of the incident is a measure of the incompetence of the government and insistence to keep the inquiry report under wraps will only complicate the matters further”, he said recalling also the statement of Interior Minister at the time that the report shall be made public.
He said that initially the government sought to clarify the news report sometimes as ‘baseless and fabricated’ and sometimes as ‘planted’. Despite declaring it as untrue at the time the government also termed the report as posing ‘threat to national security’ without explaining how.

Asking the media watchdog APNS to take action against the Editor and Reporter for alleged breach of national security takes the issue of stifling freedom of expression in the name of national security to new heights, he said.

These are some of the issues that call for making public the inquiry report and a thorough debate in the Parliament for devising appropriate guidelines, he said.

Pakistan: 'Blasphemy' is a smokescreen to crush dissent

Ab roshni hoti hai ke ghar jalta hai dekhain
Shola sa tawaaf-e-dar-o-deewaar karay hai
    — Mir Taqi Mir
[Will it lead to light or the house burning down, we'll have to see
A spark of sorts is circling the walls of our home]
In Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novel 'Chronicle of a Death Foretold, an anonymous narrator tells us about events leading up to the murder of Santiago Nasar, a man killed by two brothers who accused him of having relations with their sister. The narrator records how everyone in the village knew the murder would happen but did nothing to stop it. Marquez's masterpiece explores the morality of the village's collective responsibility for the murder. Today, Pakistan seems eerily like that fictitious village in South America. We all watch as the march of death continues, unable or unwilling to stop it.

Despite this, Mashal Khan's murder has resulted in something unusual around the discourse on blasphemy law in Pakistan: universal condemnation. This has allowed us to begin a conversation on misuse of the law. Incorrigible optimists can be forgiven for thinking that this will last. Alas, new horrors will inevitably replace old ones and the amnesia train will rumble on.

The mere whiff of a blasphemy accusation has been a political kryptonite in Pakistan but it is transforming into something much more sinister. Its lure has proved irresistible for those seeking to harness its fearsome power for political ends. It's apparent that certain enclaves within the officialdom have realised that it is far too useful a tactic and can't be left as a preserve of the garden-variety of religious fanatics. The officialdom has, thus, discovered its new use as a tool of crushing dissent - without needing trials or granting a right of defence and appeal. For years, we lamented how the state was not able to curb the menace of blasphemy. Now it has weaponised it.

These days, fatwas don't just come from pulpits in rural dust towns but are also delivered from the sleek sets of prime-time television talk shows; high benches of the superior judiciary; parliamentary standing committees; mouths of pugnacious 'security analysts'; and joint investigation cells of federal agencies. Amid this building chorus of bloodlust and endless waves of innuendo, accusation, and dog-whistles, an air of inevitability had already been present ahead of the tragedy in Mardan. It was only a matter of time till some other 'authority' - the administration of a university - decided that it too needed its own smokescreen to quash dissent.

Our esteemed interior minister has led the charge more valiantly than others. He has found it incumbent upon himself to hunt down blasphemers and protect the honour of Islam. He has spoken eloquently on the subject multiple times, informing us of his 'personal interest' in the matter and telling us that he will not hesitate to "shut down all social media in the country if the scourge continues". However, it is quite astonishing that this flirtation with extremism does not appear to have been checked in the slightest by a wholly unprecedented and damning indictment of the minister in the Quetta commission report only a few months ago. The amnesia express is certainly a bullet train in Pakistan.

To date, the FIA has at least half a dozen unknown bloggers in its custody on charges of blasphemy. The revolving door of arrests of activists, academics and intellectuals, continues with impunity. The arbitrary arrest of well-known Karachi-based academic and activist, Dr Riaz Ahmed, is the most recent case in point.

There are those who argue that mainstreaming hysteria around blasphemy will have disastrous consequences for the country in the long run. But far from employing tact in light of a delicate situation, Pakistan's federal government has upped the ante by taking the 'battle' global. A convention of Muslim envoys has already been held to ensure that the glory of Islam is not besmirched by anonymous Facebook posts. Chairing the convention, the interior minister said that a formal reference would also be sent to the secretary general of the Arab League and the chairman of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC).

But surely the minister is not an unreasonable or an unintelligent man. He realises that inciting passions on the issue of blasphemy through an office of public trust is akin to playing with fire in a country where young couples are thrown into brick ovens and mutilated bodies dragged through streets.

Interestingly, Chaudhry Nisar's crusade against hate material on internet did not move him enough to act on a glaring recent example of hate speech directed against his own leader. The campaign was so successful that it culminated in a retired Air Force officer raising blasphemy allegations against the PM for attending a holi event. Does the honourable minister not see where is this situation headed? Surely, we have learned some lessons about creating Frankensteins, Mr Minister? In the end, the falcon does not hear the falconer.

I couldn't dare watch the video of the Mardan incident for more than a few seconds, thinking that nothing could be more painful than the sight of a mob lynching an innocent young man. However, I felt a lot more pain on seeing Mashal's parents' plight. I don't think I'll ever forget his dormitory either - an altar of death strewn with emblems of this young man's idealism and sense of wonder. The portrait of his idol Che Guevara must have looked on helplessly as Mashal was dragged from this room. This was the same Che Guevara who had famously said, "If you tremble with indignation at every injustice, you are a comrade of mine". I wonder how many tremble with me on this injustice.

Pakistan - Implosion?

By Afrasiab Khattak
The deepening contradictions of the post Zia “republic” do not seem to be manageable anymore. The de facto isn’t ready to live with even the semblance of the de jure. The deep state is ready to attack the leadership of every institution that comes in the way of its total control of the state system and it includes even people in uniform. After neglecting and side-lining the elected assemblies for four years, the present government doesn’t have the strength that emanates from the democratic system to resist the onslaught of the deep state. Even the approaching general election has failed to keep a lid over the power struggle among various factions of the ruling elites. Going by the historical experience of the state system in Pakistan, the 8 to 10-year cycle of the civilian dispensation seems to have been completed. But strengthening of Article 6 of the Constitution in the 18th Amendment has created some complications for the adventurist types in the ruling establishment. The option of suspending the Constitution used by General Zia and General Musharraf isn’t available anymore. Any future direct military intervention wouldn’t be possible without total abrogation of the 1973 Constitution. This situation has enhanced the role of the higher judiciary in the process of “regime change”. The mischief of Articles 62 and 63 in their post Zia form is coming into play.
There have been some important transitions started by the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that couldn’t be completed. One of the most important was shifting from the Cold War’s geo-strategic to the 21st century’s geo-economic. Hence the talk about Pakistan becoming an Asian tiger. It obviously involved normalisation of relations with India. Nawaz Sharif has been pretty consistent about this policy. But any major breakthrough on this front hasn’t been possible so far due to tough resistance of the security establishment internally and the changing political landscape in India. Moreover elements in the security establishment are restless for joining the new Cold War between Russia and the west that could create new complications for Pakistan in a situation where the country has yet to overcome the fallout of the old Cold War.
The growing incidents of extremist violence in the ever expanding sphere of vigilantism epitomises the challenge of radicalisation, which in Pakistan’s case has been a by-product of militarisation of the state. It is a radicalised state that has led to the radicalisation of society. Efforts at de-radicalisation of society are doomed to fail without addressing the problem in the state that is the root cause. By weaponising blasphemy, the deep state is just dancing to the tunes of violent extremism. Despite their best intentions, can the present political and military leadership bring the so called jihadist project of the yesteryears to an end? So far, the said project has survived Musharraf’s “enlightened moderation” and the National Action Plan (NAP) of December 2014. Even the military operations Zarb-e-Azb and Rad-ul-Fasad have failed to root it out. Talibanisation of Afghanistan still remains the security state’s agenda. Interestingly, the security establishment has been trying to cover up its footprint on the militancy front by resorting to smokescreens. Efforts for creating new narratives are launched by “discovering” the nexus between corruption and terrorism and the patronage of bad Taliban by hostile intelligence agencies. No one is suggesting that the hostile intelligence agencies don’t use bad Taliban. They surely do that. But the original designers of project Taliban want to hide behind it. Taliban-based Afghan policy can create new security challenges at a time when the US army is gaining a greater say in policy making for conflict zones under the Donald Trump administration. Re-emergence of drones on Pakistan’s western borders is a pointer to the future escalation.
Even those who gloat over the Russian contacts with Taliban take a very myopic view of the situation. Unlike the far away US, Russia and China are seriously threatened by extremist and violent Islamic movements. Central Asia and Muslim parts of the Russian Federation remain the soft underbelly of Russia. Same is the case with Xinjiang in China. At the moment, the so called IS is the declared threat. But IS is just a part of the terror syndicate and is capable of getting refurbished by large scale recruitment from the ranks of Taliban, LeT, JeM and other jihadist networks. This is happening in plain sight. It’s just a question of rebranding. It explains the potential for expansion of IS in our region at a time when it is under squeeze in the Middle East. Lest we forget, the last battle against religious extremist violence in this region will be fought by China and Russia as it constitutes an existentialist threat to them. As if this wasn’t enough by militarily teaming up with Saudi monarchy in violation of Parliament’s resolution the Nawaz Sharif government is putting oil on the sectarian fire. Tension on borders with Iran is visibly growing.
The scenario appears this bleak because the political leadership is in total disarray and there is a disconnect between the state and society. Political leadership has no agenda for reforming itself and the state system. The poet Iqbal says, “Nature may look the other way when it comes to individual’s deviation but it never forgives sins of the millat (nation).”