Friday, June 23, 2017

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Can Trump Destroy Obama’s Legacy?


The president seems determined to define his time in office by demolishing what his predecessor did.
When the judgment of history comes, former President Barack Obama might have figured he would have plenty to talk about. Among other things, he assumed he could point to his health care program, his sweeping trade deal with Asia, his global climate change accord and his diplomatic opening to Cuba.

That was then. Five months after leaving office, Mr. Obama watches mostly in silence as his successor takes a political sledgehammer to his legacy. Brick by brick, President Trump is trying to tear down what Mr. Obama built. The trade deal? Canceled. The climate pact? Forget it. Cuba? Partially reversed. Health care? Unresolved, but to be repealed if he can navigate congressional crosscurrents.
Every new president changes course, particularly those succeeding someone from the other party. But rarely has a new president appeared so determined not just to steer the country in a different direction but to actively dismantle what was established before his arrival. Whether out of personal animus, political calculation, philosophical disagreement or a conviction that the last president damaged the country, Mr. Trump has made clear that if it has Mr. Obama’s name on it, he would just as soon erase it from the national hard drive.
“I’ve reflected back and simply cannot find another instance in recent American history where a new administration was so wholly committed to reversing the accomplishments of its predecessor,” Russell Riley, a presidential historian at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, said. While other presidents focus on what they will build, “this one is different, far more comfortable still in swinging the wrecking ball than in developing models for what is to follow.”
Shirley Anne Warshaw, director of the Fielding Center for Presidential Leadership Study at Gettysburg College, said Mr. Trump is not unusual in making a clean break from his predecessor. “Trump isn’t doing anything that Obama didn’t do,” she said. “He is simply reversing policies that were largely put in place by a president of a different party.”
The difference, she said, is that other presidents have proactive ideas about what to erect in place of their predecessor’s programs. “I have not seen any constructive bills in this vein that Trump has put forth,” she said. “As far as I can tell, he has no independent legislative agenda other than tearing down. Perhaps tax reform.”
With a flourish, Mr. Trump has staged signing ceremonies meant to show him tearing down. Not only did he pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and the Paris climate accord, he approved the Keystone XL pipeline Mr. Obama had rejected and began reversing his fuel-efficiency standards and power plant emissions limits. Not only is he trying to repeal Obamacare, he has pledged to revoke regulations on Wall Street adopted after the financial crash of 2008.
Still, he has not gone as far as threatened. He has for now kept Mr. Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran, however reluctantly, and while he made a show of overturning Mr. Obama on Cuba, the fine print left much of the policy intact. He did not rescind Mr. Obama’s order sparing younger illegal immigrants from deportation. Senate Republicans released a new version of legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare in recent days, but it may yet end in impasse, leaving the program in place.
Advisers insist Mr. Trump is not driven by a desire to unravel the Obama presidency. But like the Manhattan real estate developer he is, they said, he believes he must in some cases demolish the old to make way for the new. “He hasn’t dismantled everything, and I don’t know that that’s exactly what he’s looking to do,” said Hope Hicks, the White House director of strategic communications. “That may be a side effect of what he’s building for his own legacy. I don’t think anybody’s coming into the office every day saying, ‘How can we undo Obama’s legacy, and how can he go back?’ ”
Yet Mr. Trump has depicted the Obama legacy as a disastrous one that needs unraveling. “To be honest, I inherited a mess,” he said at a news conference soon after taking office. “It’s a mess. At home and abroad, a mess. Jobs are pouring out of the country. You see what’s going on with all of the companies leaving our country, going to Mexico and other places, low pay, low wages, mass instability overseas no matter where you look. The Middle East is a disaster. North Korea. We’ll take care of it, folks.” Critics say Mr. Obama brought this on himself. His biggest legislative achievements were passed almost exclusively with Democratic votes, meaning there was no bipartisan consensus that would outlast his presidency. And when Republicans captured Congress, he turned to a strategy he called the pen and the phone, signing executive orders that could be easily erased by the next president.
“I’ve heard it joked about that the Obama library is being revised to focus less on his legislative achievements as each week of the Trump administration goes by,” said Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union. “It’s like living by the sword and dying by the sword. When your presidency is based on a pen and a phone, all of that can be undone, and I think we’re seeing that happening rather systematically.”
Mr. Obama would argue he had little choice because of Republican obstructionism. Either way, he has largely remained quiet through the current demolition project, reasoning that speaking out would only give Mr. Trump the public enemy he seems to crave. He made an exception on Thursday, taking to Facebook to assail the new Senate health care bill as “a massive transfer of wealth from middle class and poor families to the richest people in America.” But Mr. Obama’s team takes solace in the belief that Mr. Trump is his own worst enemy, better at bluster than actually following through. “Obama’s legacy would be under much greater threat by a more competent president than Donald Trump,” said Josh Earnest, who served as Mr. Obama’s White House press secretary. “His inexperience and lack of discipline are an impediment to his success in implementing policies that would reverse what Obama instituted.” Other Obama veterans said much of what Mr. Trump has done was either less dramatic than it appeared or reversible. He did not actually break relations with Cuba, for instance. It will take years to actually withdraw from the Paris accord, and the next president could rejoin. The real impact, they argued, was to America’s international reputation. “There’s a lot of posturing and, in fact, not a huge amount of change, and to the extent there has been change, it’s been of the self-defeating variety,” said Susan E. Rice, the former national security adviser. “What’s been happening is not that the administration is undoing President Obama’s legacy, it’s undoing American leadership on the international stage.” Mr. Trump, of course, is hardly the first president to scorn his predecessor’s tenure. George W. Bush was so intent on doing the opposite of whatever Bill Clinton had done that his approach was called “ABC” — Anything but Clinton. Mr. Obama spent years blaming his predecessor for economic and national security setbacks — blame that supporters considered justified and that Mr. Bush’s team considered old-fashioned buck passing. For decades, presidents moving into the Oval Office have made a point on their first day or two of signing orders overturning policies of the last tenant, what Mr. Riley called “partisan kabuki” to signal that “a new president is in town.” The most tangible example is an order signed by Ronald Reagan barring taxpayer financing for international family planning organizations that provide abortion counseling. Mr. Clinton rescinded it when he came into office. Mr. Bush restored it, Mr. Obama overturned it again and Mr. Trump restored it again. Even so, neither Mr. Bush nor Mr. Obama invested much effort in deconstructing programs left behind. Mr. Bush kept Mr. Clinton’s health care program for lower-income children, his revamped welfare system and his AmeriCorps service organization. Mr. Obama undid much of Mr. Bush’s No Child Left Behind education program, but kept his Medicare prescription medicine program, his AIDS-fighting program and most of his counterterrorism apparatus.
That was in keeping with a longer tradition. Dwight D. Eisenhower did not unravel Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, nor did Richard M. Nixon dismantle Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society. Mr. Reagan promised to eliminate the departments of Education and Energy, created by Jimmy Carter, but ultimately did not.
Mr. Obama understood that his legacy might be jeopardized by Mr. Trump. During last year’s campaign, he warned supporters that “all the progress we’ve made over these last eight years goes out the window” if Mr. Trump won. Only after the election did he assert the opposite. “Maybe 15 percent of that gets rolled back, 20 percent,” he told The New Yorker’s David Remnick. “But there’s still a lot of stuff that sticks.” Indeed, when it comes time to tally the record for the history books, Mr. Trump can hardly reverse some of Mr. Obama’s most important achievements, like pulling the economy back from the abyss of a deep recession, rescuing the auto industry and authorizing the commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Nor can Mr. Trump take away what will surely be the first line in Mr. Obama’s obituary, his barrier-shattering election as the first African-American president.
Conversely, Mr. Obama owns his failures regardless of Mr. Trump’s actions. History’s judgment of his handling of the civil war in Syria or the messy aftermath of the intervention in Libya or the economic inequality he left behind will not depend on his successor. If anything, America’s decision to replace Mr. Obama with someone as radically different as Mr. Trump may be taken as evidence of Mr. Obama’s inability to build sustained public support for his agenda or to mitigate the polarization of the country.
But legacies are funny things. Presidents are sometimes defined because their successors are so different. Mr. Obama today is more popular than he was during most of his presidency, likely a result of the contrast with Mr. Trump, who is the most unpopular president this early in his tenure in the history of polling. By this argument, even if Mr. Trump does disassemble the Obama legacy, it may redound to his predecessor’s historical benefit. Richard Norton Smith, who has directed the libraries of four Republican presidents, said presidents are often credited with paving the way toward goals that may elude them during their tenure. Harry S. Truman is called the father of Medicare even though it was not achieved until Johnson’s presidency. Mr. Bush is remembered for pushing for immigration reform even though Congress rebuffed him. “It’s hard to imagine future historians condemning Barack Obama for breaking with his country’s past ostracism of Cuba or joining the civilized world in combating climate change or pursuing a more humane and accessible approach to health care,” Mr. Smith said. “Indeed, we build memorials to presidents who prod us toward fulfilling the egalitarian vision of Jefferson’s declaration.” But that may not be all that comforting to Mr. Obama. Presidents prefer memorials to their lasting accomplishments, not their most fleeting.

With the health care system threatened, Obama speaks up

In the American tradition, former presidents tend to say very little about their successors. And with this in mind, while Barack Obama has no doubt been tempted in recent months to condemn Donald Trump and his actions, Obama has been restrained, giving the new president a wide berth.

But just a couple of days before Trump’s inauguration, Obama acknowledged that while the White House and Congress would make their own determinations about the nation’s direction in the coming years, and he intended to stay out of it, that principle is not absolute.
“There’s a difference,” Obama said, “between that normal functioning of politics and certain issues or certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake.”
Less than two weeks after leaving office, this led Obama to issue a statement responding to the Trump White House’s proposed Muslim ban. This afternoon, with the American health care system in peril, the former president spoke up again, this time via social media.
The Democrat’s 1,000-word statement is worth reading in its entirety, and it clearly has more than one audience in mind. Part of Obama’s message clearly intends to encourage health care advocates and their allies to remain engaged and fight to prevent the nation from falling backwards.
But the other part of the message appears to be a challenge to Republican policymakers to do the right thing:
“[I have been careful] to say again and again that while the Affordable Care Act represented a significant step forward for America, it was not perfect, nor could it be the end of our efforts – and that if Republicans could put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we made to our health care system, that covers as many people at less cost, I would gladly and publicly support it.
“That remains true. So I still hope that there are enough Republicans in Congress who remember that public service is not about sport or notching a political win, that there’s a reason we all chose to serve in the first place, and that hopefully, it’s to make people’s lives better, not worse.
“But right now, after eight years, the legislation rushed through the House and the Senate without public hearings or debate would do the opposite. It would raise costs, reduce coverage, roll back protections, and ruin Medicaid as we know it. That’s not my opinion, but rather the conclusion of all objective analyses, from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which found that 23 million Americans would lose insurance, to America’s doctors, nurses, and hospitals on the front lines of our health care system.
“The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else. Those with private insurance will experience higher premiums and higher deductibles, with lower tax credits to help working families cover the costs, even as their plans might no longer cover pregnancy, mental health care, or expensive prescriptions. Discrimination based on pre-existing conditions could become the norm again. Millions of families will lose coverage entirely.
“Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family – this bill will do you harm. And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.
“I hope our Senators ask themselves – what will happen to the Americans grappling with opioid addiction who suddenly lose their coverage? What will happen to pregnant mothers, children with disabilities, poor adults and seniors who need long-term care once they can no longer count on Medicaid? What will happen if you have a medical emergency when insurance companies are once again allowed to exclude the benefits you need, send you unlimited bills, or set unaffordable deductibles? What impossible choices will working parents be forced to make if their child’s cancer treatment costs them more than their life savings?
“To put the American people through that pain – while giving billionaires and corporations a massive tax cut in return – that’s tough to fathom. But it’s what’s at stake right now. So it remains my fervent hope that we step back and try to deliver on what the American people need.”
GOP senators, who refused to work with Obama on health care during his two terms, are likely to ignore this advice. The vote is expected a week from today.

Video Report - Sanders: GOP health care bill is barbaric

Sardar Ali Takkar - مشال په ياد کې - MashalKhan# Pashto Music -

A Pashto poet from North Waziristan - A poet with a lantern

Not many people know about Sharif Khan Ustad, a Pashto poet from North Waziristan, who died recently and how he used to carry a lantern in daytime to ward off the Taliban era’s darkness.
How would one react to an old man walking on foot and all the time carrying a lighted lantern in his hand?
Most would consider him mentally ill. Others would dismiss him as a deewana because only an insane person would carry a lighted lantern in daytime.
It wasn’t easy to define Sharif Khan Ustad, a Pashto poet from North Waziristan who died recently at the age of 81. People added Ustad to his name, Sharif Khan, as a mark of respect because he was a senior and seasoned Pashto poet.
Sharif Ustad was laid to rest in his village, Hassokhel in Mir Ali sub-division. Hassokhel was among several villages close to Mir Ali town where the local militants had made their presence felt and also harboured foreign fighters belonging to a host of militant groups before the launching of the military’s Zarb-e-Azb operation in June 2014. The whole village was displaced while the militants mostly fled across the border to Afghanistan.
A few months ago most of the villagers repatriated to Hassokhel. Sharif Ustad’s family too returned home after spending several months in tough conditions in Bannu in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Sharif Ustad was already known as a poet who composed verses spontaneously and recited his poetry loudly. More people came to know about him in 2008 when he started carrying a lighted lantern wherever he went. It intrigued the people and became the subject of discussion. Many laughed at him, but his admirers said it showed high levels of his philosophical mind.
As local journalist and analyst Ihsan Dawar put it “he wanted to convey the message that we are facing darkness so we need to carry light in daytime.”
It is said he considered the militants then ruling North Waziristan as the forces of darkness that needed to be tackled with light. Ihsan Dawar is a witness to all this as he was then based in Mir Ali and was close to Sharif Ustad.
Sharif Ustad wasn’t an ordinary man. He wasn’t educated, but had learnt to speak Urdu, Arabic and Persian and quote Shaikh Saadi, Maulana Rum and other literary luminaries and spiritual figures.
Sharif Ustad believed in non-violence and was a follower of the late freedom fighter Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, commonly known as Bacha Khan. Despite belonging to the tribal region where the heavily armed Pakhtun tribes took pride in their war history, he was a man of peace. He also struggled for development of his under-developed tribal area.
According to the local people, he played a role in establishment of an elementary college in Mir Ali because he said it would spread light through education.
In practice, Sharif Ustad was a malang (mendicant) who composed interesting poetry and talked sense. He was a simple man and had few needs in life. He never resorted to begging and sold ice and food items such as “pakoras” to make a living. As Ihsan Dawar pointed out, Sharif Ustad dressed and looked like a malang but in reality he was a keen observer of the situation and commentator. In his view, Sharif Ustad wasn’t an ordinary man. He wasn’t educated, but had learnt to speak Urdu, Arabic and Persian and quote Shaikh Saadi, Maulana Rum and other literary luminaries and spiritual figures.
As so often happens in our society, Sharif Ustad is being praised after his death but there was almost no recognition for him and his poetry as long as he was alive. One has heard tribal elders and educated tribesmen conveying an image that shows him as an enlightened man with a philosophical bent of mind. They recall his meaningful words and actions that looked odd at the time.
At times, one gets the feeling that Sharif Ustad is being reinvented as someone who deserved better recognition and appreciation in his life-time.
He had two sons, including Mohibullah, who used to drive a pick-up in North Waziristan and was killed by the militants in 2010 on spying charges. Whenever Sharif Ustad visited his son’s grave, he would remark “you died a useless death because you neither brought money home nor anyone’s head”. In a way, he meant that how could his son be a spy when he didn’t make money or got someone killed.
It is believed that Sharif Khan knew his son’s killers, but kept quiet as he was helpless to do anything. This was the time when the militants had set up a parallel administration in North Waziristan with their own prison cells and courts. The bodies of men killed or beheaded were found by the roadside or in town squares with a note identifying them as spies and warning that anyone else caught spying would meet the same fate. The note often warned that the body ought not to be removed for burial until a specific time.
Nobody could question the militants and it was well nigh impossible for someone labelled as a spy to clear his name. Most were blamed for spying for the US or the Pakistan military. In overwhelming number of cases, the charge was that the spy in question provided intelligence to the US military authorities for carrying out drone strikes.
The sympathies of the local people with Sharif Ustad increased after the killing of his son. On his part, he took all this in his stride as he wasn’t a worldly man.
There are stories and anecdotes galore regarding Sharif Ustad. These are being told and retold as people belatedly realise that he said and did meaningful things. One such story needs to be told.
Once when wheat flour was in short supply and the people were suffering because their staple food wasn’t easily available, Sharif Ustad put grass in his mouth and came to the Mir Ali bazaar with two Afghan refugee boys leading him by a rope. He went to the office of the assistant political agent to complain that there was no atta (flour) in the bazaar. The officer sanctioned 50 bags of flour for Sharif Ustad, who promptly tore the permit and told the assistant political agent that he didn’t want anything for himself but was pleading the case of the people.


Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing in Quetta that left at least 13 Muslims dead including 7 policemen.
According to Police surgeon Ali Mardan nine people, including three police officers and one traffic warden, were killed in the blast. While Civil Hospital spokesperson Waseem Baig said, 11 people were killed in the blast.
Abdul Razzaq Cheema, director general of police in Baluchistan province, told Reuters it appeared the bomber had detonated a car packed with explosives. He said 15 people had been wounded.
An eyewitness said: "I was two minutes away from the scene when a loud explosion was heard. The intensity of the explosion was so severe that when the dust settled, a leg of a policeman was lying near me."
It was a blessing that the car did not enter the Cantonment area as the Shia Hazara community was to take out a procession today regarding Quds day, he added.

The Deobandi terror group claimed attack in a message sent to Reuters by spokesman Asad Mansur.
Explosion near Inspector General of Police Ehsan Mehboob's office in Quetta has killed 13 people, including many policemen, and over a dozen have been injured. Four are said to be in critical condition, including a girl around 10 years of age.
According to confirmed reports, "It was a suicide bombing and about 75 kgs of explosives were in the car." The car is said to have been destroyed and windows of nearby buildings smashed due to the intensity of the blast.
According to Police surgeon Ali Mardan nine people, including three police officers and one traffic warden, were killed in the blast. While Civil Hospital spokesperson Waseem Baig said, 11 people were killed in the blast.
Abdul Razzaq Cheema, director general of police in Baluchistan province, told Reuters it appeared the bomber had detonated a car packed with explosives. He said 15 people had been wounded.
An eyewitness said: "I was two minutes away from the scene when a loud explosion was heard. The intensity of the explosion was so severe that when the dust settled, a leg of a policeman was lying near me."
It was a blessing that the car did not enter the Cantonment area as the Shia Hazara community was to take out a procession today regarding Quds day, he added.


At least 35 Shia Muslims were martyred and over 100 injured, with fears of casualties rising, after two subsequent explosions hit a densely populated Shia majority area of Kurram Agency's Parachinar city Friday evening. The death toll was confirmed by hospital sources, who warned that the number of casualties may rise. 
Parachinar, with a population of more than 50,000, has been under strict security arrangements for quite some time. Army and paramilitary personnel have set up checkpoints on all routes leading to the town and visitors and vehicles go through extensive search and identification process.
On March 31 this year, the city had suffered a similar tragedy when 23 people were killed in a car bomb blast near an Imam­bargah at midday. More than 70 others were wounded in the attack. Another person had died later after security forces opened fire on a crowd trying to hold a demonstration in front of the political agent’s office in protest against increasing terrorist attacks.
In January this year, 25 people were killed and 87 others suffered injuries when a bomb went off during peak business hours at a crowded vegetable market in the city. In what appeared to be a sign of growing cooperation among extremists, two banned groups had come forward to claim the deadly assault, with one describing the incident as a suicide attack.

This was the second major bomb attack today. Early morning, at least 13 people ─ including seven policeman ─ lost their lives, while 19 others were injured in a suicide blast that shook Shuhada Chowk in Quetta's Gulistan Road area.
Local political administration officials said the twin blasts occurred in the Turi Market near Tal Adda, where a bus terminal is also located. The second explosion targeted rescuers and bystanders who rushed to aid those who had been hurt in the first blast. The nature of the explosions has not been ascertained as yet. But, security officials didn’t rule out the possibility of suicide bombings.
The explosions targeted people shopping in the area and those heading out of the city ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr, administration officials said.
Following the blast, security forces cordoned off the affected site and conducted a search operation in the surrounding areas, with the army dispatching helicopters from Peshawar to Parachinar "for the speedy evacuation of the injured to Peshawar," according to a statement issued by the military's media wing.
Parachinar, with a population of more than 50,000, has been under strict security arrangements for quite some time. Army and paramilitary personnel have set up checkpoints on all routes leading to the town and visitors and vehicles go through extensive search and identification process.
On March 31 this year, the city had suffered a similar tragedy when 23 people were killed in a car bomb blast near an Imam­bargah at midday. More than 70 others were wounded in the attack. Another person had died later after security forces opened fire on a crowd trying to hold a demonstration in front of the political agent’s office in protest against increasing terrorist attacks.
In January this year, 25 people were killed and 87 others suffered injuries when a bomb went off during peak business hours at a crowded vegetable market in the city. In what appeared to be a sign of growing cooperation among extremists, two banned groups had come forward to claim the deadly assault, with one describing the incident as a suicide attack.

Qatar Crisis And Pakistan – OpEd

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt released coordinated statements, announcing a diplomatic break ties with the tiny-yet-wealthy peninsular nation of Qatar. They cut air, sea and land links and ordered Qatari officials and nationals stationed in their countries to return home. The move is a reflection of long-running frustrations with the Qataris, who the Saudis and Emiratis claim are supporting terrorist groups as well as being far too cordial with Iran, their regional archrival. Qatar’s Foreign Ministry called the measures “unjustified” in a statement and said the decision to sever ties was a violation of the country’s sovereignty, and “based on claims and allegations that have no basis in fact.”
A complicated and uncertain state of affairs is playing out, with far-reaching stakes — Qatar, after all, is home to a crucial forward base for the U.S. Central Command saw this as a key moment after Trump’s visit to bring Qatar to heel. The crisis of Gulf is a concern for the entire Islamic world but it entails some serious economic political ramifications for Pakistan if deepened. Keeping in mind Pakistan’s strong ties with Saudi Arabia Pakistan has always maintained neutral ties with Gulf States at the time of disputes. Thus Pakistan has to go through a tightrope in the situation like Qatar and Saudi Arabia amid crisis.  The UN human rights chief said Wednesday he was alarmed by the possible impact of the diplomatic isolation of Qatar, warning it could lead to widespread suffering among ordinary people.
Saudi Arabia and its key allies have led to air, sea and land blockade. Cutting ties with Qatar has placed Pakistan in a very difficult situation. Pakistan relations with Gulf States have generally been good and exceptionally good with UAE and Saudi Arabia due to major source for remittances and the trend have shown upward trend. Pakistan appears unlikely to face any immediate and sizable economic impact because of the diplomatic blockade of Qatar by Saudi-led Arab nations.
Pakistan commercial ties with Qatar aren’t that strong as with Other Gulf states the present Government has also hoped that it could send more Pakistani workers to Qatar as it prepared to host the soccer world cup in 2022. Though Pakistan is unlikely to wade Gulf Crisis it could pose challenges to the policy makers. Last year Pakistani government unanimously turned down the request to contribute troops announced that they were suspending air, sea, and land transport with Qatar, while Qatari citizens are required to return home within two weeks. Pakistan’s exports to Qatar have maintained a steady decline over the year from $79m in 2012 to $63m last year, accounting for less than 0.5pc of the country’s total exports. This is a fraction of more than $25bn Qatar spends a year on imports from the world.
There has been no effort to ascertain if the Middle East tussle can open any business or trade opportunity for Pakistan.
This was apparent from a response from the federal ministries. Foreign Office Spokesman Nafees Zakaria was unable to say if the Qatar situation could in any way affect Islamabad or if there was any concern for possible loss of trade and jobs in Qatar, at present, or in case of escalation of tension in the Middle East. At least, the relevant government agencies give an impression as if the situation was a non-issue. There has also been no effort on part of the government agencies or the private sector to ascertain if the Middle East tussle can open any business or trade opportunity for Pakistan — like Turkey and Iran appeared to be doing — as Qatar looks around to meet food requirements arising out of the Saudi blockade of its airspace and trade routes.
But the problem is that Qatar is just too bold, too often. The core issue presently is Qatar’s support of Islamists around the Middle East region, which emerged quite evident during the Arab Spring. This is as much a result of the personalised politics of Qatar’s foreign policy and elite bureaucracy as it is an active decision by Qatar to support Islamists. Moreover, Qatar argues vociferously that it does not support Islamists because the state prefers to, but because such groups like the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood enjoy significant public support.
But what might this mean for Qatar’s economy and people doing business there? With a population of about 2.7 million people, this tiny nation on the north-east coast of the Arabian Peninsula is trying to punch above its weight. Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways and Dubai’s Emirates are suspending all flights to and from Doha. Both carriers operate four daily return flights to Doha.
Budget carriers FlyDubai and Air Arabia are also cancelling routes to Doha, with other airlines, including Bahrain’s Gulf Air and Egypt air expected to follow suit.I t comes after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt all said they would stop flights in and out of Qatar, and close their airspace to the country’s airline, Qatar Airways. And it is Qatar’s flag carrier that risks being the biggest loser. Its flights to places like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and Cairo will stop.Qatar Airways passengers in Abu Dhabi vent frustration
Desert states, by their nature, struggle to grow food. And food security is a particular issue for Qatar given the only way in by land is a single border with Saudi Arabia. Every day hundreds of lorries cross the border, and food is one of the main supplies. About 40% of Qatar’s food is believed to come via this route.Saudi Arabia has said it will close that border and when the lorries stop, Qatar will become reliant on air and sea freight.
A new port, a medical zone, a metro project and eight stadiums for the 2022 World Cup are just some of the major construction projects going on in Qatar right now. Key materials, including concrete and steel come in by ship but also by land from neighbouring Saudi. The closure of that border could, as with food – push up prices and lead to delays. A materials shortage is already a threat that looms over Qatar’s construction industry. This risks making things worse.

اسفندیار ولي: چین باید د پاکستان او افغانستان په منځ کې ضامن شي

دا خبره اسفندیار ولي خان د جمعې په ورځ له مشال راډیو سره د ځانګړې مرکې پر مهال وکړه.
نوموړي وویل ، موږ وړاندې هم ویلي دي چې مسله هغه وخت هوارېدای شي چې چین یوازې د سهولت کار نه بلکې د ضامن په توګه را وړاندې شي.
اسفندیار ولي خان زیاته کړه چې پاکستان پر افغانستان او افغانستان پر پاکستان د وعدو نه پوره کولو تور پورې کوي نو په کار ده چې په منځ کې یې یو زورور دریمګړی کښېني.
د پاکستاني وزیراعظم د بهرنیو چارو سلاکار سرتاج عزیز مشال راډیو ته ویلي وو چې د پاکستان او افغانستان ترمنځ جګړه نه ده روانه چې چین منځګړتوب وکړي بلکې هغه د یوه سهولتکار په توګه راوړاندې شوی دی.
د سفندیار ولي په وینا ، امریکا هم په دې لړ کې مهم رول لوبولای شي خو چین به ځکه زیاتې هڅې کوي چې دلته یې په اربونو ډالر پانګونه کړې ده او که دا ساتل غواړي نو به په سیمه کې د امن راتله باوري کوي.
اسفندیار ولي خان زیاته کړه چې پاکستان له هند سره له لومړۍ ورځې په شخړه کې دی ، له افغانستان سره یې هم اړیکې خرابې دي او اوس یې له ایران سره هم تاوتریخوالی راغلی دی.
نوموړي دا خبره په داسې وخت کې کړې ده چې د پاکستان پوځ د سېشنبې په ورځ اعلان وکړ چې له افغانستان سره پر پوله یې د اغزن تار لګولو کار پیل کړی دی.
د پاکستاني پوځ د عامه اړیکو څانګې په یو خبرپاڼه کې وویل چې په لومړي پړاو کې به دا باړ په باجوړ ایجنسۍ ، مومند ایجنسۍ او خیبر ایجنسۍ کې ولګول شي.
خبرپاڼې دا هم لیکلي چې د دفاع او څارنې زیاتولو لپاره به پر پوله نوي بندرونه او سرحدي چوکۍ هم جوړې شي.
د افغانستان د قبایلو او سرحدونو د چارو سرپرست وزیر غفور لیوال مشال راډیو ته وویل چې افغان حکومت د پاکستان دا ګام نه مني.
بل پلو د پاکستان د بهرنیو چارو دفتر د پنجشنبې په ورځ د دې پخلی وکړ چې د تېرې اونۍ په پای کیې یې د بلوچستان په پنجګور سیمه کې د ایران یو بې پیلوټه الوتکه را غورځولې ده.
اسفندیار ولي خان وویل ، پاکستان باید دا ومني چې له لومړۍ ورځې تر اوسه یې بهرنۍ او کورنۍ دواړې تګلارې ناکامه شوې دي او په کار ده چې جاج یې واخلي او له سره یې جوړې کړي.
د پاکستان پر کورنۍ تګلاره د نیوکې پر وخت هغه وویل ، دا خبره د پاکستان په نشنل ایکشن پلان کې شامله وه چې قبایلي سیمې به په خیبر پښتونخوا ګډوي خو تر اوسه پرې عمل ندی شوی.

Pakistan Still Suffering from the Delusion That It Can Control the Taliban

By Russ Wellen, June 3, 2016.
Pakistan cracks down on its militants to control, not extinguish, their movements.
Nobody deserves to be the victim of a drone strike, even Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, the leader of the Afghan Taliban. Even if, as John Feffer wrote in Foreign Policy in Focus last week, citizens of FATA (the Federally Administered Tribal Areas), however counterintuitively, actually favor drone strikes. Perhaps that’s because the Pakistani government doesn’t seem up to the task of rolling back the Taliban.
In the New York Times, Mark Lander and Matthew Rosenberg describe how, like most leaders of terrorists groups that states sponsor, trying to control Mullah Mansour was like holding a tiger by the tail. Pakistan had cultivated him for years, and he was widely seen as its choice to lead the Taliban after the 2013 death of Mullah Muhammad Omar, the founder of the insurgency movement, was revealed last year.
But once installed, he resisted Pakistani efforts to put up even the appearance of being willing to take part in a peace process.
Which, of course, was a problem for the United States, as well.
As a result there was growing American pressure on Pakistan to crack down on Taliban leaders who take shelter there — and a growing sense within Pakistan’s security establishment that Mullah Mansour was proving too independent, and thus expendable. A senior American defense official said that another factor in Pakistan’s decision to provide some limited help in tracking down Mullah Mansour may have been that one of his deputies, Sirajuddin Haqqani, has deep and longstanding ties to Pakistan’s main spy service, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence.
Mr. Haqqani, who leads a Taliban faction that is widely seen as one of the most violently effective parts of the insurgency, may prove more willing to take cues from Pakistan’s military leadership and the ISI.
It’s truly distressing that at this late day, Pakistan still believes that the Taliban can be managed. I had thought Pakistan was putting those days behind it.

Bilawal Bhutto strongly condemns terrorist attacks in Parachinar and Quetta

Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has strongly condemned the terrorist attacks in Parachinar and Quetta on the holy Jumatul Vida adding that the ghastly terror attacks have shocked the entire nation.
In a statement issued here, the PPP leader said that destruction of terrorism was the only target that this nation can aim and destroy it for the survival and protection of the current and future generations.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said being itself a victim of terrorism, his Party leadership and workers understand the depth of pain which the grieved families are undergoing. He expressed complete solidarity and sympathy with the victims’ families of Parachinar and Quetta blasts.
PPP Chairman stressed for best medical treatment to the injured of the three blasts and prayed for their early recovery.

Pakistan: 11 dead after car bomb near police chief's office in Quetta

A powerful car bombing near the office of the provincial police chief in southwestern Pakistan on Friday has killed 11 people and wounded 20, officials said.
The explosion near the police chief’s office in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, was powerful enough that it was heard across the city, shattering windows of nearby buildings, said police spokesman Shahzada Farhat.
Wasim Beg, a spokesman at a government hospital, said the death toll from the bombing rose to 11. He said some people remained in critical condition.
TV footage showed several badly damaged cars and a road littered with broken glass.
Anwarul Haq Kakar, a spokesman for the provincial government, said the bomb was planted in a moving car, but officers were trying to determine whether it was a suicide attack.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack but Kakar blamed neighboring India for the blast. He offered no evidence. On Thursday, Pakistan said that an Indian naval officer, Kulbhushan Jadhav, who was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and sabotage, had petitioned for mercy.
Jadhav, who Pakistan said had crossed into Baluchistan from neighboring Iran, was arrested in March 2016 and sentenced to death in April.
In New Delhi, the Ministry of External Affairs insisted Jadhav was sentenced on “concocted charges” and expressed doubts about the existence of the petition for mercy. It also reiterated that the proceedings against Jadhav have been shrouded “in opacity.”
Baluchistan has long been the scene of a low-level insurgency by Baluch nationalists and separatists, who want a bigger share of the regional resources or outright independence, but also other attacks, mostly blamed on the Pakistani Taliban.

At Least 35 People Killed in 3 Bomb Attacks in Pakistan

At least 25 people were killed and dozens wounded on Friday when two back-to-back explosions rocked Parachinar in Kurram tribal agency, officials said.
The twin explosions occurred as people were busy shopping for Iftar and Eid in the Turi Bazaar area, close to a crowded bus terminal. 
The second explosion took place as people rushed to provide aid and rescue the wounded from the first explosion. 
Political administration confirmed that 25 people were killed and at least 100 were injured in the explosions. 
Local official Nasrullah Khan said the first blast detonated as the market was crowded with shoppers.
"When people rushed to the site... to rescue the wounded, a second blast took place," he said, adding that officials fear the death toll would increase.
Shahid Turi, a local lawmaker from the area, also confirmed the death toll.
He added that security arrangements were in place at the time of the attack, as paramilitary forces and Army have set up checkpoints in the area.
"The entire area has check posts set-up and the area is declared as a Red Zone. Turi market is a bit outside of the zone," said Turi. 
Hospital officials confirmed that at least 20 of the wounded the were in critical condition. 
The Army has dispatched two helicopters to evacuate the injured to Peshawar, said a statement released from the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
The military's media wing added that the "rescue operation is in progress".
Pakistan Army contingents and FC personnel also reached the site of the attack to aid in the rescue efforts.
Officials said emergency had been imposed in all hospitals across Parachinar, the capital of Kurram agency.
Rescue services reached the spot of the explosions and started shifting the wounded to hospitals. Hospital sources said 20 bodies were shifted to the local district hospital while five bodies were shifted to the central Imambargah.  
A cordon was placed around the site of the attack and a search operation has been initiated in the area after the bombings. 

'Terrorists attacking soft targets'

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the terrorist attack in Parachinar and directed concerned authorities to increase security across the country.
“Terrorists are attacking soft targets and no Muslim can ever imagine to commit such horrific act,” said the prime minister.
He added that such acts of terrorism will be dealt with the full power of the state.
Nawaz also expressed deep grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives in the attack. 
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan also strongly condemned the twin blasts in Parachinar and termed it as an attack against the nation. 

Pakistan People's Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto said his thoughts and prayers are for the bereaved families and strongly condemned the blasts in Parachinar and Quetta. 

The attack in Parachinar was the second terrorist attack in the country. Earlier in the day, a suicide car bomb blew up in Quetta and killed at least 13 people, including six policeman. 
Earlier in March, at least 24 people were killed and more than 90 injured in a bombing outside an imambargah located in a busy Parachinar market.