Thursday, June 8, 2017

Pakistan - ''Curbs needed against Afghan Taliban fundraising''

Reports have emerged that the Taliban and other militant groups, those fighting in Afghanistan, have re-commenced raising funds in Balochistan. Media reports that leaflets have been distributed in mosques calling on fellow citizens to donate to the Jihad in Afghanistan. Ironically, this comes in the wake of Pakistan’s National Action Plan, which had called for the choking of terrorism financing as well as the monitoring of donations made to militant groups. This also comes at a time when Pakistan is under scrutiny by an inter-governmental watchdog on terrorism financing. This is a clear violation of Pakistan’s stated counter-terrorism policy.
Balochistan, the most-sensitive of Pakistan’s provinces in terms of violence and unrest, has become a second home to the Afghan Taliban leadership. If media reports are accurate — then the Afghan Taliban have been convening in Balochistan for years to choose their new leader and formulate strategies. It is said that because of on-going conflict in Afghanistan, Islamabad looks the other way while the Afghan Taliban maintain their presence in Balochistan. However, Pakistan needs to a draw a red-line. The Afghan Taliban cannot continue using Pakistan’s soil to raise funds supporting the latter’s fight in Afghanistan. This has negative repercussions on Pakistan’s diplomacy and society.
After a long-drawn fight against militancy — Pakistan has evolved a national consensus against it. This country’s national narrative is that it supports peace and stability in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s state position is that it abhors terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and will not provide its soil for any foreign group to launch strikes against neighbouring countries. Allowing the Afghan Taliban to raise finances undermines the national narrative. It undercuts Pakistan’s state policy objectives and the national effort. Let us hope that both Parliament and the cabinet take up this issue, thereby ending our doublespeak.

PPP will stand by the Constitutional institutions in case of any confrontation with government: Bilawal Bhutto

Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has made it clear that his Party will stand by the Constitutional institutions in case of any confrontation with government warning any collision with institutions will be dangerous for both democracy and the country.
In a statement issued here, the PPP Chairman said there will be stiff resistance against PML-N and in favour of institutions in case of any conflict.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari pointed out that these institutions were built with the sacrifices of our leadership and nobody will be allowed to sacrifice these constitutional institutions for his family. “Our leadership suffered judicial murders and we took dead bodies but we never indulged in confrontations with the institutions,” he said adding that “we sacrificed our Prime Ministers and elected governments still we accepted decisions of the institutions.”
PPP Chairman further said that we sacrificed even our Party offices before the court decisions adding that Nawaz government should not remain in misunderstanding that we will allow anyone to jump into confrontation with the institutions.
“Takht-e-Raiwind should forget that they will sacrifice the institutions for the sake of its family and we will remain silent,” Bilawal Bhutto Zardari added.
The PPP Chairman pledged that we stand by country’s constitutional institutions and wont allow Nawaz Sharif to repeat his past adding that people will stand like rock against Takht-e-Raiwind if it attempted to  degrade or insult the institutions.

Different delegations called on Chairman Bilawal Bhutto and joined PPP

Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari held meetings with different delegations, including politicians from PTI and other groups who joined PPP before him at Gilani House Multan today.
Those joined the PPP today include former MPA Malik Abbas Raan, Malik Hassan Raan and Malik Arshad Raan also ex-MPA, former MNA Syed Tanveer Shah, former President PTI Bahawalpur Nausheen, and independent political leaders from Layyah Syed Rifaqat Gilani and Pir Fazal Hussain Shah.
Former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, President PPP South Punjab Makhdoom Ahmed Mahmood, General Secretary Natasha Doultana, former Federal Minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin, Hyder Zaman Qureshi, Shaukat Basra and other Party leaders were also present on the occasion.
Talking to them, Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari welcomed those joining the Party and assured them that PPP would utilize their full potential for serving the masses pull out them from the problems heaped on them by PML-N government. He said that PPP was aware about the injustices being committed to the farmers of South Punjab and in Central Punjab . The issues being faced by the cotton ginners should be taken seriously as country’s economy is based on agriculture, he added.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari pledged that PPP will revive the agriculture economy and its positive growth again after coming into power.

Islamic State says it killed two Chinese teachers kidnapped in Pakistan

Islamic State has killed two Chinese teachers it kidnapped in Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province last month, the militant group's Amaq news agency said on Thursday, in a blow to Islamabad's efforts to safeguard Chinese workers.
Armed men pretending to be policemen kidnapped the two language teachers in the provincial capital, Quetta, on May 24. The kidnapping was a rare security incident involving Chinese nationals in Pakistan, where Beijing has pledged $57 billion for its "Belt and Road" plan.
"Islamic State fighters killed two Chinese people they had been holding in Baluchistan province, southwest Pakistan," Amaq said.
A Baluchistan government spokesman said officials were in the process of confirming "whether the report is true".
China's embassy in Pakistan could not be reached and there was no immediate comment from Pakistan's interior ministry or its foreign office.
Islamic State, which controls some territory in neighbouring Afghanistan, has struggled to establish a presence in Pakistan. But it has claimed several major attacks, including one on the deputy chairman of the Senate last month in Baluchistan, in which 25 people were killed.
Earlier on Thursday, Pakistan's military published details of a three-day raid on an militant hideout in a cave not far from Quetta, saying it had killed 12 "hardcore terrorists" from a banned local Islamist group and prevented Islamic State from gaining a "foothold" in Baluchistan.
China's ambassador to Pakistan and other officials have often urged Islamabad to improve security, especially in Baluchistan, where China is building a new port and funding roads to link its western regions with the Arabian Sea.

To escape abusive marriages, many Christians in Pakistan convert to Islam

By Naila Inayat

For a Pakistani Christian like Shameela Masih, divorcing her abusive husband meant two choices — both nearly as bad as staying in the marriage.
“I have to prove adultery allegations against him,” said Masih, a 34-year-old mother of two. “The other option I have is to convert to Islam.” Masih recently filed for divorce from a husband she said “frequently beats me up” and a mother-in-law who she said burned her leg with coal.
But under the majority-Muslim country’s laws, she must produce a witness who would testify to committing adultery with her husband. As a result, she’s now reluctantly planning to renounce her faith.
“Converting is the easiest way out,” she said. “My family tells me that they will disown me as a Muslim, but I don’t have a choice.”
Masih is one of thousands of Christians in Pakistan who have converted to Islam to divorce their spouses under laws stemming from the British colonial period, when traditional morals held sway.
Now Pakistani officials are considering revising the law to make it easier for couples to part ways.
“There are so many things in the existing 19th-century Christian Marriage Act that need to be revised and updated to stop the exploitation of people and protect the human rights,” said Kamran Michael, the federal minister for human rights who is spearheading the drive for the legislation.
The law grants divorces to Christian couples on four grounds: adultery, conversion, marriage to another or cruelty. But proving adultery or cruelty is tough, especially in Pakistan, where adultery is a crime, and the stigma against domestic violence is weak in many parts of the country. Christians comprise less than 2 percent of Pakistan’s population of 189 million.
Muslims, on the other hand, can easily obtain a divorce for a variety of reasons, including irreconcilable differences.
Formerly, Pakistan’s laws on divorce mirrored those in Britain. But in the early 1980s, then-military dictator Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq restored older laws from the colonial period that applied to Christians divorcing. For Muslims, he left revised laws from the 1960s intact.
“The current law on Christian divorce undermines the dignity of women,” said Fauzia Viqar, who chairs the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women. “Many Christian women are left in marriages where they are suffering cruelty by husbands without any relief from the state.”
The law also puts needless stress on couples, said would-be divorcees.
“I want to divorce my wife amicably without charging her of adultery,” said Emanuel Anthony, 29, a Christian street vendor in Lahore who has been married for five years. “She is the mother of my child. Why should I assassinate her character in public?”
His wife, Nabila, agreed.
“We have been separated for a year now. There is an understanding between us that we are not compatible and want different things from life,” said the 25-year-old Christian who teaches mathematics at a Catholic school. “I don’t understand what the issue is, and why a law should govern my right to divorce.” Slated to be unveiled in Parliament in the coming weeks, the new law would expand the grounds for divorce and separate it from the Christian religion. Couples would be able to marry by registering with the government and then solemnizing their nuptials in the church if they so choose, said human rights ministry officials. “Pakistani Christian couples would be able to divorce amicably without hurtling adultery accusations or converting to another religion,” said Haroon Sulaiman, a family lawyer in Lahore. “This will give the persecuted minority some relief.”
The Catholic Church opposed the changes.
“Marriage is a lifelong and indissoluble union for better or for worse in Christianity – you cannot just amend the laws of God,” said Catholic Bishop James Mathew. “Marriage is a sacrament, not a contract. This change is to defame our religion. Supporting the changes is like going against the Bible.”
Masih said Christian leaders like Mathew can overlook her and other women because they weren’t married. “No one cares about us, we are left at the mercy of the Muslims and Christians alike,” she said. “Once in power, they don’t do anything for us. The Christian leaders are more worried about church politics instead of helping poor people like us.”