Sunday, June 4, 2017

#OneLoveManchester - Ariana Grande - 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow'

#OneLoveManchester - Ariana Grande - One Last Time

#OneLoveManchester - Katy Perry - Part Of Me - Roar

#OneLoveManchester - Chris Martin and Ariana Grande - Don't Look Back In Anger

#OneLoveManchester - Justin Bieber - Cold Water

Video - Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande - Don't Dream It's Over - #OneLoveManchester

After London terror, time for ‘difficult conversations’ with Saudi, Corbyn says

British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn says it is time for the UK to hold "difficult conversations" with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states of the Persian Gulf in the wake of the London terror attack.

Terror on and near the London Bridge left at least seven people dead and wounded almost 50 others on Saturday.
"Yes, we do need to have some difficult conversations starting with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states that have funded and fueled extremist ideology," Corbyn said in Carlisle, north England, on Sunday.
People hold up signs in solidarty with victims of the London terror attack outside the County Hotel in Carlisle, Cumbria, on June 4, 2017.
Daesh claims responsibility
Saudi Arabia and some of its regional allies have already been implicated in support for Takfiri terrorism, currently wreaking havoc in Iraq and Syria.
On Saturday, three knife-wielding assailants drove a hired van into pedestrians on London Bridge and stabbed others nearby in an attack initially praised and subsequently claimed by the Daesh Takfiri group.
"A detachment of Islamic State fighters executed yesterday's London attack," said a statement posted on Amaq's media page, monitored in Cairo. 
Stationary buses and a large white van operated by the police to remove the van used in the attack on London Bridge are seen on London Bridge on June 4, 2017, with Tower Bridge in the background as police continue their investigations following the terror attack on the bridge and at the nearby Borough Market on June 3.
The opposition leader, who will face Prime Minister Theresa May in a June 8 snap election, also censured Islamophobia in the wake of the attack.
"We must resist Islamophobia and division and turn out on June 8 united in our determination to show our democracy is strong," asserted the Labour leader.


A Saudi Arabian court has upheld a seven-year prison sentence for writer Nazeer al-Majed in the latest case of the Saudi regime’s systematic persecution of political dissidents and human rights campaigners.
The Court of Appeal in Riyadh handed down the ruling against the 39-year-old father of two on Thursday, confirming the same verdict which the so-called Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) in the capital had issued on January 18.
The SCC had sentenced Majed to seven years in prison, to be followed by a seven-year travel ban and a fine of 100,000 Saudi riyals (about US$26,000).
He was convicted of “breaking allegiance to the ruler” King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, “participating in protests and writing articles opposing the policy of the state” and “communicating with media.”
The Saudi writer has been held in incommunicado detention ever since.
Majed was previously arrested on April 17, 2011 at Jabal al-Noor public school in the Eastern Province city of al-Khobar, where he worked.
He was initially held for five months in solitary confinement, and imprisoned in the detention facilities in the Eastern Province city of Dammam, without charge or trial, until his release on July 26, 2012.
On October 24, 2016, he was charged with offences stemming from his peaceful exercise of right to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
Majed was detained at the fifth court session on January 18, after being sentenced to prison.
Amnesty International has urged Saudi Arabian authorities to release Majed immediately and unconditionally.
Saudi Arabia has faced protests since 2011, when a wave of uprisings and revolutions hit dictatorial Arab monarchies in the Middle East and North Africa.
Human rights organizations have repeatedly criticized Britain and the United States for giving the Saudi regime an easy pass on perpetrating human rights abuses on its own people.

China - West must stop its double standards on terror attacks

By Liu Jianxi 

A terrorist attack hit London Saturday night less than two weeks after the Manchester bombing. The attack began when a van struck pedestrians on London Bridge; then the suspects left the vehicle and stabbed innocent people in nearby Borough Market. 

The Chinese public immediately condemned the attack online. The incident is similar to a terrorist attack when a car was deliberately crashed in Tiananmen Square in 2013. 

While Chinese netizens are sympathetic about victims and furious at the London terrorists, we also remember how Western media prejudicially reported terror attacks in China. 

In 2014, terrorists randomly stabbed people at China's Kunming Railway Station, leaving 29 dead. In disregard of facts, Western media outlets were reluctant to call the perpetrators terrorists, putting quotation marks around the term, and even attributed the attack to the Chinese government's ethnic policies. In the Tiananmen Square terror attack, a car crashed into a crowd near Jinshui Bridge, leaving two passers-by dead. CNN reported the incident with the headline "Tiananmen crash: Terrorism or cry of desperation" and described the terrorists as an oppressed minority, attempting to use "ethnic conflicts" to interpret the violence.

For Western media outlets, ideology seems to be the only criterion for terrorism: those attacking the West are terrorists, while atrocities against socialist countries come from revolt by minority groups that deserve sympathy. The West's double standards on terrorism disregards the human rights of innocent Chinese victims and have tremendously harmed the feelings of Chinese people. More seriously, such double standards are, in essence, acquiescence of terrorism and have boosted the morale of terrorists.

Western double standards will eventually backfire. Lone wolf attacks ripped through Europe in the wake of a series of terrorist incidents in Paris in 2015, posing serious security threats to the whole Western world. How would the West react if Chinese media put quotation marks on London terrorists and attributed the recent terrorist attacks to Western ethnic policies?

We hope that Western media outlets will abandon their double standards in the wake of these tragedies. Terrorism is an enemy of all humankind, and the international community must unite in face of increasingly rampant lone wolf attacks. 

We must cooperate and firmly fight against terrorism in any form. The UK listed the East Turkestan Islamic Movement as an Islamic terrorist and separatist organization last year, a move that deserves applause. Double standards on terrorism will only encourage terrorists to commit more violence instead. 

London attack exposes gaps in anti-terror effort

London was struck by terror on Saturday night yet again. A gang of knife-wielding men drove a van into pedestrians at high speed on the iconic London Bridge before stabbing pedestrians on the street and in bars in the nearby Borough Market area. Seven people have been confirmed killed and at least 20 injured. 

An investigation is currently unfolding. Several explosions were also heard near London Bridge on Saturday night. A stabbing incident also took place in the Vauxhall area, however those events were not linked to terrorist attacks based on the information released by the police at this time. The explosions are believed to have been "controlled explosions" carried out by police. 

The latest terror attacks, occurring less than two weeks after the Manchester Arena bombing, have sent shock waves across the UK and Europe. Although the number of fatalities on Saturday was less than the Manchester blast, the use of vehicles and knives, both of which are everyday objects, marks a new form of domestic terror. Besides, more terrorists were involved in the latest attacks. They carried out a chain of incidents in London's landmark areas, leaving an impression that terror attacks may happen at any moment and have created an environment of fear. 

It's not exaggerating to say that terrorism is a cancer to the society. The UK has invested a lot on anti-terrorism and has made significant effort in helping immigrants to integrate into society and reduce their hatred toward the mainstream. The UK is perceived as being the toughest European country on immigration control, however, it has still been severely impacted by acts of terror, not only becoming a target of terror attacks, but a breeding ground for terrorists.

Apart from squarely condemning terrorism and launching more effort to fight it, there seem to be few simple solutions to eradicating it. Currently, many countries have increased anti-terror investment in security checks and mobile sentries and in setting up relevant intelligence systems.

Generally speaking, these measures have been trying every means to give the "goalkeeper" more functions instead of putting more resources into the "midfield." But even a strong "goalkeeper" is useless if the "midfield" is weak. 

There are salient obstacles to the counter-terrorism endeavor. Owing to perennial rifts and uneven development among different religions and races, hatred and hostility remains a fact of international development. To ensure safety, some measures in combating terrorism offend some groups, which has further given rise to estrangement and dissatisfaction. In this way, a vicious cycle has taken shape, facilitating extremists who advocate terrorism. 

The Internet has enhanced the impact of public opinion in an unprecedented way, boosting the self-confidence of terrorists and stimulating them to launch terrorist attacks. Some rioters brainwashed by extremist religion think it's worth dying in a suicide attack for their beliefs. 

Humans have become accustomed to living a free, private life. Social management and control is restricted due to limited funds and the boundary of human rights, failing to fully cover all members of society. There is a raft of blind, monitor-free angles and many people are not protected within effectively. 

In other words, if some terrorists are determined to commit a crime, they can easily find cars and knives even when they fail at getting more traditional instruments of terror and are easily able to cause harm using everyday objects once taken for granted. 

There is no panacea for the current wave of terrorist activities. At best, current efforts are akin to relieving a fever but do not address the underlying disease. It is important that the world work together to combat terrorism and transfer part of the energy in dealing with geopolitical affairs to this endeavor. The West, as the largest target of extremists, should vigorously push forward this effort. The war on terror should become one of the top priorities of all humans. A frantic last-minute effort must be avoided. 


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Afghanistan: A failure or success for the US?

Neil Clark

Sixteen years after ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ first kicked off, Afghanistan, much like Libya and Iraq, the sites of other US-led ‘interventions,' is in flames.
The string of violence in this Central Asian hotspot of late is breathtaking: On Wednesday, a truck bomb detonated near the German Embassy in Kabul and killed nearly 100 people. On Friday, at least seven people were killed and over a hundred wounded in three separate explosions during a funeral in the Afghan capital. This follows deadly attacks the previous week across the country in which over fifty people lost their lives.
Afghanistan, lest we forget, is where the post 9/11 US-led ‘war on terror’ began to great fanfare in late 2001. The country had to be invaded to make Western civilians safe. It was our moral duty to invade and set the country on the ‘right’ path.
‘Victory’ was declared in November 2001 as the US-backed Northern Alliance captured Kabul. In December of that year, British Prime Minister Tony Blair hailed the fall of Kandahar, the last Taliban stronghold.
But in 2003, as the neo-con hawks in Britain and the US focused on fighting secular Iraq-which was falsely accused of possessing WMDs, the Taliban fight back began. The conflict since then has ebbed and flowed.
NATO powers have at various times increased troop numbers, then pulled out, or announced withdrawals and postponed them, and then later redeployed forces. Today, the Taliban, whose defeat was being toasted in late 2001, either have control of or a significant foothold in around 30-50 percent  of the country. Taken on its own terms, the US/NATO ‘War on Terror’ in Afghanistan has been a huge, costly failure.
Over 3,4000 coalition troops and over 100,000 Afghans have been killed. In 2013, it was calculated that the intervention had cost over £37bn amounting to over £20,000 for every British household. Meanwhile, in 2015, a CRS report put the cost of the Afghan war to the US at a staggering $686.5 bn.
And for what? This is the question British and US taxpayers reeling from cuts to vital public services at home ought to be asking.
The security risk to civilians in the UK and elsewhere has got much worse since 2001 with this weekend’s horrific attacks in London only the latest example. Not only do the Taliban control their largest share of territory in Afghanistan since 2001, ISIS and al-Qaeda also have significant presence there too. Remember all that talk from George W. Bush and Company of there being no ‘safe havens’ for terrorists? Thanks to US foreign policy there are now plenty.
Much was made by NATO-propagandists of the so-called “train, advise and assist” mission. We would withdraw forces and help the Afghans ‘do it themselves’. Just how cool was that? Yet last week’s blast occurred in the diplomatic quarter of Kabul which was thought to be one of the safest areas of the city. Were those providing security there trained by NATO? If so, what sort of training were they given? Again, these are questions that need to be asked. No wonder Kabul citizens are angry.
It’s likely the recent spike in violence will see an increase in foreign military involvement in Afghanistan. There are around 13,000 international troops there already,including 8,400 Americans, supporting the Afghan government. We’re told that US President Donald Trump is weighing up a ‘troop surge’. But how many would be needed to push back the Taliban and deal with the Islamic State? And aren’t we just going round in circles here?
To take attention away from NATO’s failures, Russia has been repeatedly accused of “supporting the Taliban”. There’s zero evidence of this. But what we do know is that the US and allies did back the Mujahideen which the Taliban grew out of when Soviet troops were in Afghanistan supporting the left-wing government in the 1980s. As I detailed here, the aim of Zbigniew Brezinski, President Carter’s National Security Adviser was to make the Soviet Union "bleed". In fact, Afghanistan has known nothing but violence since Zbig decided to give the Soviets their own Vietnam by backing Islamist 'freedom fighters'. Back in the 1980s, the US did all they could to prevent diplomatic solutions to the Afghan conflict. And it’s the same today.
Which begs the question:is the US’s Afghanistan policy really a failure or is keeping the fire going there actually the plan? Either the US and its allies have been spectacularly stupid, or there’s a more sinister game afoot.
In his book, Divide and Ruin, fellow Op-Edge contributor Dan Glazebrook argues that the new imperial strategy is not about Washington replacing one ‘regime’ for another, but in making sure strategically important nations remain devastated by war and can never again function as independent actors. If the war in Afghanistan ended, then the government there would inevitably pivot towards Russia and China. But by keeping the hostilities going, and the country permanently destabilized, the Afghans’ military dependence on the West is maintained.
This could explain why every time the US has had the Taliban on the run, the radical Islamist force has been allowed to regroup. Then when it gets too strong, it goes back in. And, when there’s been a chance to get people round the negotiating table, the US has sent in the drones or captured leaders who might talk peace.
If you think it’s all a bit conspiratorial, then it’s worth bearing in mind the words of Hamid Karzai, the former Mujahideen fundraiser, who came to power with US support following Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001. In his farewell speech as President in 2014, Karzai blamed the US for the fact that his country was still at war. "Today, I tell you again that the war in Afghanistan is not our war, but imposed on us and we are the victims," Karzai said. "One of the reasons was that the Americans did not want peace because they had their own agenda and objectives." 
Karzai’s spill-the-beans speech should have made front page headlines across the word. But guess what? It didn’t.
The question we need to ask as the cycle of violence continues is 'cui bono?' The US defense industry and associated war profiteers have done very well out of Afghanistan. The people of the country and those caught in the terrorist blowback, much less so.

Will India send 15,000 troops to Afghanistan? Time is ripe for concerted action against Pakistan's terror

Prakash Katoch

Media reports emanating from Washington, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India are all talking about New Delhi planning to send 15,000 troops to Afghanistan. Not only is the text exactly the same in all these reports, as if a press release was handed out by someone, they also refer to deliberations at a "close-door round table at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars". So does the Woodrow Wilson International Centre hold press briefs after close-door discussions?
The report further talks of a veteran Indian military scholar having "visited Washington DC, and tried to convince the Donald Trump administration to allocate India an official role in Afghanistan". One wonders if this leak was inspired by Washington and then picked up by Pakistan and India, or if it was inspired by Islamabad for testing possibilities and then picked up by Washington — which has wanted Indian troops to be deployed in Afghanistan for several years — and later picked up by Indian media?
India has direct channels of communication with Washington and Kabul, as also Islamabad, so where has this spoof come from? Moreover, India doesn't need a veteran military scholar to convince the Trump administration (or any other nation) to allocate it an official role in Afghanistan or anywhere else. India and Afghanistan are both sovereign nations — and joint signatories to the India Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement, 2011, whose four pillars are "political and security cooperation; trade and economic cooperation; capacity development and education; and social, cultural, civil society and people-to-people relations".
The report, quoting unnamed diplomatic sources, states that India's NSA Ajit Doval is planning to rush to Afghanistan to cash on the latest wave of terror attacks and to make an official offer of sending Indian troops to defend Afghan government leaders. Doval recently met his Afghan counterpart, and asked the Afghan government to deliver an official invitation to New Delhi to dispatch troops.
On 28 May, just two days before Kabul was attacked, the Afghan Pajhwok news agency from Washington reported that India could send its troops to Afghanistan under a "UN mission". The Pajhwok dispatch published in Outlook Afghanistan quoted a "prominent Indian defence expert" as telling a Washington audience on 18 May that "New Delhi could perhaps be persuaded to send up to a division of Indian troops — around 15,000 in total — to Afghanistan under a United Nations Peacekeeping mission".
Technically, India can position troops anywhere in the world with the concurrence of the host country and no one else. India has sent a peacekeeping force (IPKF) to Sri Lanka under a joint accord in the past. India and Afghanistan have a strategic partnership agreement, which includes security cooperation, but it is not a defence pact. Afghanistan has never made a request for Indian military troops either, and to say that the Afghan government would make such a request to "protect its leaders" is a derogatory suggestion, one that implies the Afghan National Security Forces cannot protect their government leaders.
Despite the ghastly terrorist attacks last week, Kabul has been conscious of Pakistan's sensitivities to having an Indian presence in Afghanistan. There is also the issue of costs that will come from maintaining such a force in Afghanistan, because in all probability, Pakistan will not allow flights over its territory in doing so.
But as mentioned, India can position troops anywhere if it serves its national interests, irrespective of costs. Of course, the question also remains what would be the task of such a force — certainly not to protect political leaders — so would it be to guard Kabul?
The mention of the UN Mission in Afghanistan is a misnomer. If this was feasible, and such a force is required on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to stop Islamabad from exporting terror, the US would have ensured so a decade ago. A UN force can be so positioned when two warring parties agree. Here Afghanistan is at the receiving end and Pakistan continues to insist it has no role to play in terror attacks in Afghanistan, and that the country itself is a victim of terror — ironically a hypothesis backed by both China and the US.
Additionally, Washington's role in Afghanistan also continues to be ambiguous. Incidentally, when the Barack Obama administration had announced a withdrawal/thinning out of US-NATO troops from Afghanistan in 2009, the Central Asian Republics (CAR) wanted a UN force deployed on the Af-Pak border, to stop Pakistani terror flowing into CAR through Afghanistan.
Having said that, however, while the report does appear to be hogwash, and any decisions would have to be taken jointly between India and Afghanistan, the latter does need an effective industrial security force. This would, among other things, also help mine the trillion dollar-plus minerals Afghanistan has. India should help Afghanistan in establishing such a force in addition to the military assistance that it is rendering.
But most important is countering the proxy that Pakistan is waging with impunity against India, Afghanistan, and now Iran. The latter has already warned Pakistan that it will hit terrorist sanctuaries inside Pakistan if it does not confront those carrying out cross-border raids inside Iran. According to the chief of Iranian armed forces, the border area on the Pakistani side has turned into a haven and training ground for "Saudi-hired terrorists, who enjoy US endorsement".
In this era of hybrid war, there are no rules, no regulations, and Pakistan's hands are dirty in the extreme. In February 2012, a high-level team of Sri Lankan officials reportedly visited Pakistan after the latter requested expertise to combat Baluch freedom fighters the same way Colombo combated LTTE.
While India, Afghanistan and Iran would logically have been discussing the terrorist menace that Pakistan is, time is more than ripe for the three nations to join hands and respond in a concerted fashion to Islamabad's hybrid war irrespective of the games being played by China and the US. This trilateral response should not be construed as just a conventional attack; it must be at the hybrid plane.

The US can't fix Afghanistan, and it should stop trying


Months have passed since we first heard the Trump administration is considering a new surge of United States forces in Afghanistan, and if the president is any closer to a decision than he was in February, mark that down as the one secret the White House has yet to leak to the press. Trump's unpredictability makes it impossible to define what this delay might mean, but perhaps the wait can offer opportunity for more prudent and realistic counsel to prevail. Sending more U.S. soldiers to Afghanistan cannot and will not produce anything resembling a win—it will only protract the failed status quo of the country's longest war.
The surge proposal is lousy with the sort of familiarity that should breed contempt, because it is a reiteration of debates we've had at least four times before. Whether it's sending the oft-cited 5,000 or an ambitious 50,000 new troops, the basic logic is that more boots on the ground will serve to shore up an increasingly messy situation. As Brookings' Michael O'Hanlon writes at USA Today in a representative argument for escalation, if "we want a robust eastern pillar in our broader counterterrorism network to take on foes ranging from the Taliban to al Qaeda to ISIS, an increase of several thousand U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan has a sound logic behind it."
Sure, O'Hanlon concedes, this is likely to further guarantee permanent U.S. occupation, with U.S. forces serving as Afghanistan's surrogate military forever. But in his telling, the 15 years of U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan since 2002—bought at a price of tens of thousands of U.S. and Afghan casualties, trillions of U.S. tax dollars, and a shambolic nation-building debacle—was just too passive, too half-hearted. These 5,000 more troops will finally do the trick.
Except, of course, they won't, and the "passivity" narrative of post-Sept. 11 foreign policy is so absurd it'd grow Pinocchio a skyscraper. The first point, the suggestion that a surge is all we need to build a "robust eastern pillar in our broader counterterrorism network," easily breaks down under scrutiny. At the height of the intervention, there were 140,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan. This was in 2011, and about 100,000 of that number were American. Six years later, Afghanistan remains in utter turmoil. Basic institutions of civil society are nonfunctional. Corruption and insecurity are rampant, and it is no surprise the Afghan refugee crisis continues. The Taliban controls at least 40 percent of the country—and that's the conservative estimate. Some analysts suggest it's more like 90 percent, excluding cities. Adjusted for inflation, the U.S. has spent more on Afghanistan than the Marshall Plan which re-built Europe, and we've fought there for four times as long as U.S. combat participation in World War II.
The results of that investment are dismal.
In the context of this recent history, the surge case unravels.
What can 5,000 troops possibly accomplish that 100,000 could not? What will be different this time? What positive outcome is remotely plausible?
Wishing that a new surge will produce peace or even basic stability is not enough to make it so, and it certainly isn't enough to justify sending more Americans into harm's way. (The price, by the way, of maintaining a single U.S. soldier in Afghanistan for a year is nearly $4 million. Even if a strategic case for escalation could somehow be mustered, the cost alone would require serious justification.) The second point—that the flaw in recent U.S. foreign policy is inactivity—is almost too bizarre to countenance, and yet it is a favorite theme of the bipartisan foreign policy establishment. Unfortunately, this imaginative assessment seems to be persuasive to Trump, whose nascent foreign policy mainly consists of doing the same thing as his predecessors, only more. If he maintains that streak in Afghanistan, some surge seems likely to garner his blessing.
That would be a grave mistake. There is no reason to believe this escalation will make any security gains for the U.S. or even for the Afghan people. (It is telling no one bothers to argue a surge will make the U.S. safer, because the American public long ago realized occupying Afghanistan does not protect us.)
There is no definition of success, let alone a chance it will lead to victory, and it will not end the chaotic status quo. The difficult but plain truth is that no amount of U.S. military intervention can impose an exterior stability on Afghanistan, however much Washington denies this fact. It is futile and dangerous to continue to try.

'butcher of Kabul' - ''Holding Hekmatyar accountable''

A petition is filed against Hekmatyar with UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan seeking justice for his alleged victims.
Former Afghan mujahideen leader Gulbaddin Hekmatyar’s name was recently removed from the United Nations Security Council’s ‘blacklist’ and all sanctions against him were lifted, but his critics and those who claim they suffered at his hands in the past are still unwilling to forgive him.
Those same Afghans have now filed a petition with the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) seeking justice for alleged victims of Hekmatyar.
The details in the petition haven’t been made public by UNAMA. Obviously, it would contain incidents of violence in which Hekmatyar was allegedly directly involved. It is unclear which period of time has been covered while detailing the incidents for which they hold Hekmatyar responsible.
In a way, the UN system in general and UNAMA in particular has been caught unawares and put in a difficult situation. The UN Security Council, obviously due to lobbying by the United States backed by the other two Western powers United Kingdom and France that are its members, had secured support of Russia and China to pave the way for lifting sanctions against Hekmatyar so that he could join the political mainstream following his peace deal with the Afghan government. This facilitated his return to Kabul on May 5 after spending nearly 20 years in hiding.
Like most countries and international organisations, the UNAMA had warmly welcomed the peace agreement. Many Afghans and human rights groups, mostly Western, had criticised the peace deal as they felt Hekmatyar and his men ought to be made accountable for their violent past. They accused Hekmatyar and his party, Hezb-i-Islami, of committing human rights violations during the long years of the Afghan jihad against the Soviet occupying forces and later when struggle for power triggered civil war. Hekmatyar and his men were also accused of attacking Nato soldiers in Afghanistan while waging war against the foreign forces until signing of the peace deal with the national unity government of President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Abdullah in September 2016. This was one of the reasons the US had declared Hekmatyar a ‘specially designated global terrorist’ in 2003 and successfully lobbied with the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on him.
There is no real possibility that Hekmatyar would be brought to justice. This could happen only if his peace agreement with the Afghan govt collapses and the latter initiates a petition against him and raises the issue at international forums.
The UNAMA chief Tadamichi Yamamoto, who is also the UN Secretary General’s special representative for Afghanistan and hails from Japan, tried to defend his organisation’s position after issuing a statement about receiving the petition from the unnamed Afghans against Hekmatyar. He pointed out that UNAMA had welcomed agreements that contribute to a reduction of violence in Afghanistan and allowed Afghans to live in peace with each other. According to Yamamoto, UNAMA was encouraged by the progress in implementing the Afghan government’s agreement with the Hezb-i-Islami (Hekmatyar). Stressing that attention to human rights was of critical importance, he made it clear that Afghan citizens and others who have been victims of atrocities must not be deprived of their right to judicial redress.
It would be difficult for UNAMA to do much concerning the petition filed with it against Hekmatyar, who was granted immunity under the terms of his peace deal with the Afghan government. The UN Security Council has already deleted his name from its ‘blacklist’ meaning he is no longer sanctioned or wanted.
In the unlikely event of UNAMA proceeding further in the case and ensuring that Hekmatyar is investigated on the basis of the petition brought up against him, the Afghan government’s peace agreement with Hekmatyar painstakingly negotiated over a period of almost two years would be jeopardised. The Afghan government could resist any such move to investigate and prosecute Hekmatyar as it would severely damage the fragile peace process.
At this point in time, there is no real possibility that Hekmatyar would be brought to justice. This could happen only if his peace agreement with the Afghan government collapses and the latter initiates a petition against him and raises the issue at international forums. This is something far-fetched as there is no such precedent in Afghanistan.
Afghan warlords have committed human rights abuses in an unprecedented way. Some of these were war crimes. Nobody has yet been tried and punished in Afghanistan for human rights violations.
Barring a few, drug barons and traffickers too have largely escaped arrest and conviction. Those accused of high levels of corruption also haven’t faced accountability, though President Ashraf Ghani in his early days in office reopened the long forgotten case of Kabul Bank scandal and punished some of the accused and recovered part of the looted funds.
If Hekmatyar is involved in human rights violations, so are scores of other warlords, including former mujahideen leaders, ex-communist elite and Taliban commanders. The Afghan government and the international community couldn’t even prosecute Uzbek warlord General Abdul Rasheed Dostum, who is presently Afghanistan’s First Vice President, for violating every law and killing and maiming with impunity. In fact, even now he is wanted in the kidnapping, torture and rape of his political rival Ahmad Eshchi, but the government failed to act against him and instead allowed him to leave for Turkey, where he is treated with respect owing to his Turkic ethnic lineage.
Hekmatyar could also benefit from a law passed quietly in 2010 by the mujahideen-dominated Afghan Parliament that granted blanket immunity to all the members of the armed factions for acts committed before the Taliban’s ouster in late 2001.
Despite condemnation by the UN at the time and concern expressed by a few Afghan politicians such as Malalai Joya and some Afghan and foreign human rights activists, President Hamid Karzai had signed it into law. This set a bad precedent and making Hekmatyar alone accountable for his past misdeeds after giving immunity to all other warlords and foot-soldiers won’t meet the ends of justice.

Pakistani Christian sanitary worker died, doctor refused to treat him because of RAMADAN

Christian Sewer cleaner Irfan Masih died on June 2nd when a doctor at Umerkot Hospital, Lahore, refused to touch his sludge covered body because he was fasting.

Thirty-year-old Masih who fell unconscious while cleaning a drain lost his life after doctors at Civil Hospital Umerkot, refused to treat him until his body was washed.

According to Irfan's brother, he fainted when him and his three colleagues stepped down into a manhole at Chhore Road, Umerkot on Friday for a routine inspection. To get medical aid to Irfan his colleagues took him to the nearby Civil Hospital, but doctors told them to wash his body first and then they would begin his treatment.

Irfan's family and his colleagues kept imploring and pleading with the hospital staff as Irfan layin a corner of the hospital floor fighting for his life, but Dr Yousuf said he was fasting and he would not touch Irfan's filthy body until it was cleaned.

According to his brother, Pervaiz, he had already been resuscitated him to keep him alive and they pleaded with doctors in vain to save his life.

Irfan's family believes that he could have survived if timely treatment had been provided to him. They believe that Irfan only died because of the doctor's negligence towards the emergency and lack of facilities at the hospital, while Dr Kunbhar claimed that Irfan Masih had already passed away before arriving at the hospital.

Irfan's colleagues and workers at the local municipality and a large number of people from the Christian community in Umerkot took Irfan's body and staged a demonstration outside the local press club, where they protested against the local administration and hospital for wasting the worker's life.

Umerkot police, on the complaint of the victim's father, Nazeer Masih, registered an FIR against six suspects, including three doctors.

According to latest report police have arrested Medical Superintendent Dr Jaam Kunbhar over the death of irfan Masih, while doctors at the Civil Hospital Umerkot went on strike on Saturday to protest the arrest.

Later, Health Director General Dr Akhlaq Khan visited the hospital, where he said that according to hospital records and statements, Irfan's death was not a result of the doctor's negligence. However, the director general believes doctors were at fault to some extent.

Irfan's family insisted that he was alive when he was brought to the hospital and that when Dr Yousuf came in the emergency ward looked at them, but went outside.

Nasir Saeed Director CLAAS-UK has said that it is sad that Irfan Masih died because of the doctors' negligence and hatred. he said: "A life could have been saved if medical aid had been given in time.

This is not the first time that any sewer cleaner has died doing his duty, but I am aware of such several cases in the past too. To stop such further incidents the government should provide safety kits to their workers but since these menial jobs are reserved for the Christians nobody cares about them. The Government must provide safety kits to their workers for such risky jobs which have a record of claiming lives."

He further said that a case should also be registered against the responsible officer of the municipality as they are equally responsible for Irfan's death for not providing safety kits.

"Although the police have registered a case against some doctors, I don't have much hope that justice will be done to Irfan and his family," Mr Saeed concluded. - See more at:

'Unclean!' Pakistan sewer worker dies of Ramadan non-treatment

A sewer worker who fell unconscious while cleaning a manhole in Umerkot, Pakistan, was rescued and brought to a government hospital, but the staff, observing the Islamic holy month of Ramadan refused to treat him because he was “unclean,” according to relatives.
Irfan Masih, 30, died Thursday according to the Pakistani Express Tribune.
Masih was one of four sanitation workers who fainted while cleaning a manhole. The other three were brought to other hospitals.
He died in the government hospital in front of doctors who were allegedly reluctant to treat him because Irfan was drenched in sewage sludge.
“The doctors refused to treat him because they were fasting and said my son was ‘napaak [unclean],'” claimed Irshad Masih, the mother of the deceased.
Pervez Masih, Irfan’s brother, said that he personally cleaned his brother’s body, after which the doctors sent an oxygen cylinder.
“But the cylinder was empty,” he said. “And, before they could arrange another cylinder, he [Irfan] died.”
After Irfan breathed his last at the hospital, the family, community and locals staged a sit-in demonstration, along with the body, on the inter-district road connecting Umerkot to other parts of Sindh. The protest lasted for 10 hours before ending with assurances an inquiry would be conducted against the municipal authorities and doctors.


Pakistani Senate Chastises Government for Joining 'Anti-Iran' Coalition

June 01, 2017

   Pakistan's senate demanded to know why the administration had sent its former army chief to head what some called an anti-Iran Arab military coalition, despite a 2015 parliamentary resolution that the country would maintain neutrality in regional conflicts.
Senator Farhatullah Babar, who had called this issue to attention, said in the session Thursday that the strong anti-Iran sentiments expressed at a recent summit in Riyadh made it clear the coalition was "not against terrorism, it's against Iran." He was referring to a summit hosted by Saudi Arabia in Riyadh late last month and attended by dozens of Muslim heads of state, along with the president of the United States.
While the stated agenda was terrorism, strong anti-Iran rhetoric permeated key addresses, as well as the final declaration.
In his speech, President Donald Trump said Iran gave terrorists “safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment” and asked other nations to help isolate it.
King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia accused Iran of “expansionist aspirations, criminal practices, and interference in the internal affairs of other countries.”
Concluding declaration
The summit's concluding declaration blamed Iran for instability in the region and said the leaders committed to “firmly confront the subversive and destructive Iranian activities inside their countries and through joint coordination.”
Babar said the summit seemed to send out a message that “Iran was the root cause of terrorism, that it was not part of the Muslim world, and that it would be isolated.” He also demanded to know why Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's administration failed to fulfill its commitment to place the terms of reference of the military coalition before the parliament before they were rectified.
Political rhetoric
Defending his government's position, Sharif's chief foreign policy adviser Sartaj Aziz tried to dispel the idea that the coalition was anti-Iran. The statements made at the summit, he said, were political rhetoric and had nothing to do with the terms of reference of the military coalition, which had yet to be finalized. He promised to place the terms before the parliament as soon as they were ready. “The focus of the alliance is still counter terrorism,” he said. Chairman Raza Rabbani responded that the anti-Iran statements came from the Saudi king himself.
“To expect that he who plays the flute is not going to be calling the shots is being a little optimistic,” he said.
Aziz also told the Senate that members of the coalition would be free to decide which activity they wanted to participate in. The choice, he said, ranged from “political consultation, intelligence sharing, capacity building, counter narrative, and military cooperation.”
Senate assured
Aziz assured the Senate that the presence of General Sharif would not affect Pakistan's foreign policy. Which led to the chairman asking, “Has the government disowned General Raheel Sharif?” and demanding to know how the administration planned to distance itself from military intervention in a country if its former army chief was heading the military alliance. “I agree that the Riyadh conference has widened the sectarian divide,” Aziz acknowledged, but asserting the presence of Sharif likely would have a neutralizing impact.
Out of control
Aitzaz Ahsan, another senator belonging to the opposition People's Party, told VOA that Aziz's responses were an effort to conceal the fact that things went out of their control.
“[The government] joined an alliance without knowing what the alliance was all about. It went to a conference … without knowing what the ultimate declaration of the conference would be. States don't do that,” Ahsan said.
He added that General Sharif probably still did not know what he had committed to.
Parliament was clear, according to Ahsan, that Pakistani troops could not be committed to any foreign adventure at all on behalf of any Muslim state fighting another Muslim state.
An exception for holy cities
The only exception was the defense of Mecca and Medina, the two cities considered holy in Islam, he noted.
Saudi Arabia initially announced the military coalition in December, 2015. It started off with 34 members but has expanded to 40. Defense ministers of the member states were supposed to meet and develop programs and mechanisms of the coalition, though the meeting has not yet taken place.
When General Sharif's name originally appeared as a candidate to head the military coalition, Pakistan's Defense Minister Khwaja Asif said the government would discuss this issue in parliament before allowing him to go. That never happened.