Saturday, September 16, 2017

#Turkish #Alaturca Pop Music 2017 - Demet Akalın - Ah Ulan Sevda

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UK police earned millions training officers in repressive regimes

British police earned millions of pounds by training officers in repressive regimes in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia. The College of Policing, an arms-length body of the Home Office, has earned more than £3.3m by providing “international leadership” and “international strategic leadership” training to police forces in 23 countries since it was set up by Theresa May in 2012.
It is UK government policy to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances. However, documents obtained by the Guardian under a freedom of information request show that 89% of the money earned by the college came from countries where the death penalty still exists.
Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, accused the government of putting trade deals before human rights. She said: “It is yet another example that when trade deals and security alliances are on offer in the Middle East and elsewhere around the world, Theresa May’s government throws any concern for human rights out the window.”
Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry is the college’s biggest leadership training client and has paid it more than £1.2m for 815 days’ training over the past six years. The same ministry has executed at least 641 people since 2012, according to Reprieve, a charity that campaigns against the death penalty.
The governments of Bahrain, UAE, Oman and Kuwait, four countries where the death penalty remains legal, together provided another £1.3m of the college’s revenue. The college earned £800,000 from 18 other countries. These included Indonesia, Singapore and Botswana, which all executed prisoners in 2016.

The College of Policing has made more than £2.5m by training forces from five countries that use the death penalty

Saudi Arabia


The Home Office says British training is designed to improve human rights compliance but campaigners say there is a lack of evidence to prove this claim. While Saudi officials were receiving British training, the number of prisoners executed rose from at least 79 in 2012 to at least 154 in 2016.
Maya Foa, director of Reprieve, said: “The College of Policing appears to have made a substantial profit from a massive crackdown on dissent in the Gulf since the Arab spring. Ministers say this training will improve Gulf policing but, in reality, things have got worse as UK-trained bodies in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have increased their use of torture and the death penalty for juveniles and protesters.” The home affairs committee found last year that the college “has been put under pressure by the Home Office to raise revenue” by providing overseas training. The committee raised concern that the “provision of training on the basis of opaque agreements, sometimes with foreign governments which have been the subject of sustained criticism, threatens the integrity of the very brand of British policing that the college is trying to promote. It simply smacks of hypocrisy.”
After this criticism, the Home Office conducted an internal audit of the college that assessed its reputation management. The audit, also obtained by the Guardian in a freedom of information request, states that “the college takes appropriate steps to manage its reputation in terms of the international work it takes on”.
Reprieve said MPs should conduct an inquiry to establish the full details of the “secretive” College of Policing. Foa said: “The UK government continues to shroud this assistance in secrecy, refusing to disclose the human rights risk assessments it conducts for these projects. Now is the time for MPs to mount a full inquiry into this secretive overseas assistance.”
The Home Office said: “We cannot stand by and criticise countries from the sidelines if we want to see wholesale changes. The government’s policing programmes in the Middle East, led by the College of Policing, are specifically designed to improve the justice system by improving human rights compliance and reducing the likelihood of miscarriages of justice.”

A College of Policing spokesman said: “Before we undertake any international work, we refer to the International Policing Assistance Board (IPAB), which assesses all requests against British values and in the context of maintaining UK security. The IPAB comprises policing representatives and those of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Home Office, Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development.
“The college publishes details on its website of the countries where international assistance is provided, the overall amount of money received and a list of the areas where the college assists including developing senior women and counter-terrorism. Respect for human rights and dignity is interwoven into programmes.”

UK arms sales benefiting most from Middle East wars

The UK has exported £5 billion ($6.8 billion) worth of weapons to oppressive regimes around the world since the Conservatives came to power 22 months ago, the Guardian newspaper reported.

Arms sales to Saudi Arabia have been pinpointed as the main cause of the increase. In 2015, the Kingdom setup an Arab coalition to battle in Yemen. Since then it has faced criticism that it has repeatedly and indiscriminately attacked civilians in violation of international humanitarian laws.

In July, campaigners brought a case to the British High Courts in the hope of forcing the UK government to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia, weapons they say were being used in its war on Yemen. However the court ruled that the UK can continue to sell arms to Saudi Arabia.

The news comes as the UK hosted the Defence and Security Equipment International exhibition (DSEI), which advertises itself as “the world leading” arms industry fair.

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Atheists are nicer to Christians compared to the other way around if their religious identity is known, study claims

Jon Sharman

    Atheists behave 'impartially toward ingroup and outgroup partners,' while Christians demonstrate 'an ingroup bias'.

    Atheists are more generous toward Christians than Christians are toward them, a new study has claimed.
    Researchers at Ohio University asked participants to share monetary rewards with partners in a version of the “dictator game”, in which one person had no power to affect the division of the bounty.
    When atheists were told of their partner’s religious beliefs, they “behaved impartially toward ingroup and outgroup partners,” the study’s authors wrote in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
    However, “Christians consistently demonstrated an ingroup bias”.
    Lead author and PhD student, Colleen Cowgill,  told the PsyPost news website that previous research had demonstrated that “the general population in America tends to stereotype atheists as being immoral and untrustworthy”. 
    She added that many atheists found this reputation “distressing”. 
    “My primary interest was in how atheists themselves respond to these negative stereotypes,” she said. “We often see that negative stereotypes about a group can lead members of that group to behave in compensatory ways that ostensibly seek to disconfirm that stereotype, such as when American immigrants strive to emphasise their American identity when it is threatened.
    “We found in multiple studies that our atheist participants behaved more fairly towards partners they believed were Christians than our Christians participants behaved towards partners they believed were atheists.”
    Whether this was specifically due to the wish to impress was not certain, she added.
    The effect was “eliminated” when participants were told their religious beliefs, or lack thereof, were being kept a secret from their partners, the study found.
    Earlier this year a study in Canada found a majority—76 per cent—of people did not believe being religious made someone a better citizen.
    And more than half of those polled believed faith did more harm than good.
    In Britain, more people now profess to be nonreligious than Christian, according to research, with deconversion, or the religious losing their faith, deemed a “major factor”.
    It came as only 72 per cent of UK Christians said they believed in the resurrection of Christ—the central tenet of their faith. More than a tenth of “active” Christians told ComRes they did not believe there was an afterlife.

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    د بخشالي تاریخي اهمیت

    Pakistan - Flour Mill In Peshawar Was Being Used As ISIS Headquarter


    A flour mill in the suburbs of the provincial capital where two key militants were killed during an encounter in June was functioning as the headquarters of Daesh for the last many months, a source said.

    A top commander of the group Khalil and one of his accomplices were killed while five security personnel were wounded in the encounter. Police and army had jointly carried out the operation.
    The source said the group was involved in the killing of three policemen in Chamkani a few days before the operation. Police in retaliation had killed one attacker in Chamkani incident, who was later identified as  militant commander Mustafa.
    The source said that the flour mill that had been abandoned for the last 15 years was also being used for issuing press releases and other literature of Daesh.  Police killed three members of the ring in two actions while many facilitators were also held. Police had also held the owners of the mill for negligence on their part. They were, however, later released on bail.
    According to senior police officers, the group was involved in around 20 target killings of police and other security personnel as well as other major terrorism incidents in the last couple of years.
    The watchman of the flour mills who was using it for militant activities was arrested by the Counter-Terrorism Department a couple of years back from where he was 
    sent to Central Prison Peshawar. Days before the June operation, the watchman was deported to Afghanistan after imposing a fine of Rs5,000 on completion of his sentence.

    Pakistan - Drug Abuse Spirals Up Alarmingly in Kalat

    By: Yousaf Ajab Baloch

    Ghulam Sarwar, 21, a young boy with a disability and untidy dress is always seen begging in Kalat Market. He does not beg to feed his family members but to buy packet of cigarette and most importantly the packs of Heroin which he needs twice a day.
    “I was addicted to Hashish in the school age and this caused me quit my 8th grade school education. First I began smoking cigarette and later Hashish and now Heroin is my unavoidable compulsion.” Sarwar uttered.
    “My father penalized me a lot to leave drug consumption but it is impossible for me. I feel a severe pain in my body when I do not have Heroin. Believe me I am sick of this messy life! ” said Ghulam Sarwar with a clear repent on his face.
    “I never expected to become a drug addict; even I disliked it but my today’s apparel is result of joining bad company of friends. I will go for my treatment if this can be free of cost,” Said Ghulam Sarwar.
    Ghulam Sarwar is one of the hundreds of drug addicts in Kalat, who are not part of government’s statistical records.
    Kalat, which is one of the historic but backward districts of Balochistan once reputed for Khanat’s seat of governance, is currently facing a wave of drug abuse among youth. The growing number of drug addicts has become a great matter of concern for social activists and the parents. According to some social activists the easy access of drugs in different areas of district is augmenting number of drug addicts alarmingly.
    Muhammad Iqbal, 45, who smokes Heroin, told the Balochistan Point that currently there were hundreds of drug users in Kalat city. “Hashish, Heroin and crystal are easily available in surroundings of Kalat market, mainly; the old cattle market area is a bastion of sale and purchase of the drug. However, hashish peddlers are available in different streets and areas of Kalat city” Iqbal added.
    Iqbal said that addicts of different ages consumed Rs.500-1000 or more. “A single packet Heroin costs Rs.200 but there are addicts who use crystal so it becomes more difficult for them to arrange it easily.”
    Muhammad Iqbal who was reluctant for not taking his photo graphs told this writer: “The users are not only in Kalat city but people and young boys from different villages of Kalat come and purchase drug. There are high risks of teenage for sexually being abused…,”
    A police officer on condition of anonymity told that actions in past against drug dealers have not been satisfactory, though administration conducted raids in some areas and arrested few addicts but the real drug smugglers continued to go scot-free.
    Although drug addiction is a problem for entire Pakistan, the nature and dynamics of the menace are different in Balochistan. The province has the largest landmass but the thinnest population, scattered over small pockets. The only major urban centre in the province is its capital—Quetta where almost half of the province’s entire population is concentrated, even then no recent data about drug addicts is available in Balochistan.
    The Technical Summary Report on drug use in Pakistan 2013 conducted by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reveals the provincial-level estimates of drug-use prevalence and patterns about Balochistan. The report states: “Although drug use estimates for Balochistan are conservative due to a lack of data collected beyond the provincial capital of Quetta thus not directly comparable with estimates from other provinces, drug use prevalence estimates for the province are still noteworthy.”
    “Balochistan has high opiate use prevalence, at 1.6 per cent of drug users or 88,000 people. In addition, 0.2 per cent or around 13,000 people took methamphetamine in Balochistan in the last year. Tranquilizer and sedative misuse is also considerable with 1.8 per cent of the Population (100,000 people) using these substances illicitly.” The report says.
    Kalat based social activist Khalil Ahmed said that no proper check and balance of parents is also one of the causes of drug addiction of youths. “Joblessness, poverty and no sports activities cause desperateness among youth which leads them towards drugs use.
    Secretary Narcotics Control Division Ijaz Ali Khan in a media briefing in February 2017 said: “90 per cent of the world’s opium is being produced in Afghanistan and out of it, 40 to 45 per cent is transported through Pakistan.”
    uring the visit to focal point near Kalat market I saw many young and middle age persons using drugs close to the market. Munir Ahmed, 40, who smoked Heroin with a group in the above mentioned place told, “Mostly with us there are youths, there are many who have jobs they buy drugs from peddlers but they do not smoke with us.”
    Munir told that he had been using narcotic substance for 5 years. “There are many of our friends who in case of inability for arranging money steal goods from market or streets to arrange the required amount for daily drugs as we all cannot be without drug.”
    Muhammad Ishaq, 45, told The Balochistn Point that he had been smoking Hashish since his school life and being as sever addict he could not continue his education while his other class mates were serving as high grade officers.
    “After Hashish I began using Heroin which I still think was the worst act of my life. I tried to get clean many times but I have not been able to do so, giving up drug abuse has become a dream for me. Only a miracle can get me out of this suffering.” Ishaq told with the tearful eyes.
    Advocate Abdul Salam Umrani, President Kalat Bar Association said the judiciary was also playing its effective role against drug dealing. “Whenever, the alleged suppliers are brought to court, they are punished according to the 9(A), 9(B) and 9(C) law of Control of Narcotics Substance Acts.” Abdul Salm told.
    “Most of the drug dealers use teenaged boys for supplying and whenever they are arrested they cannot be imprisoned under juvenile justice system ordinance, therefore, the chief actors remain unpunished.” Abdul Salam added.
    Abdul Salam said: “The alarming situation regarding drug addiction and involvement of youth is also because of the parental negligence and no ownership of stakeholders in the communities, since when the tribal people or elders at any place do not take action against drug dealers in their own area so it causes social disorganization.”
    Talking to The Balochistan, Point District Social Welfare Officer Kalat, Abdul Hassan Baloch said that the lack of healthy activities, poverty, depression and easy access to drugs were causing drug abuse among youths.
    “Responsible authorities and social activists are not seen active in the society for rising awareness against drug abuse, the volunteers who are active to counter social evils they should play their due role in Kalat to raise awareness against narcotics. ” Social Welfare Officer Kalat told.
    Abdul Hassan Baloch suggested: “The drug addicts and their parents should be motivated to send their addicted family members for treatment in Quetta based Drug Treatment & Rehabilitation Center. Social Welfare Department will assist the patients for free treatment in the center.”
    When contacted, Mr. Dostain Dashti, DPO Kalat about plan of action for dealing with rising issue in Kalat, he said that administration was ready to commence crack down on the network of drug smugglers.
    “I personally have strict attitude against those all who destroy the lives of human beings by promoting their drug business, therefore, I will not stand being silent and soon tangible measures will take place,” Said the newly appointed DPO Kalat.
    “The IG Balochistan has recently launched an anti-narcotics campaign to fight the menace of drug use. We have also formed special teams to track the drug dealers so that we take actions against them and bring the responsible to justice.” Dostain Baloch told The Balochistan Point.
    Talking to the Balochistan Point, Deputy Commissioner (DC) Kalat Syed Zahid Shah said that he was in coordination with DPO Kalat to implement zero tolerance policy against drug suppliers in the district. “Moreover, we will take strong actions against those who show negligence in controlling drug dealing.” DC Kalat added.
    “We will officially coordinate with Anti-Narcotics Balochistan and social organizations in Kalat to arrange some activities to mobilize youth against drug use by involving communities, religions leaders and people from all walks of life.”

    Pakistan - Why Chaudhry Nisar gets an ‘F’ for his performance as interior minister

    WHEN you have very low expectations of somebody, you are unlikely to be surprised or disappointed when the person fails to deliver.
    But even with this minimal bar, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, our ex-interior minister, is in a class of his own. For years, instead of a sound counterterrorism strategy, we have had countless press conferences justifying his string of failures. Clearly, this is a man who likes the sound of his own voice.
    In a recent interview, he uttered this gem: “Politics, especially governance, is both an art and a science.” Sadly, he could master neither, with his recent stint in government serving as a lesson in what not to do when in power.
    When he went on to say that “he had always tried to manage things”, we can only give him an ‘E’ for effort. For the rest, he gets an ‘F’ for failure. As jihadists slaughtered hundreds on his watch, he had to be dragged to sign off on the National Action Plan. Before the bloody attack on a school in Peshawar in December 2014 that killed over 130 children, he was the keenest proponent of talks with the militants, together with Imran Khan.
    But even when a sensible plan had been hammered out, our hero dragged his feet over its implementation. Out of the scores of committees and sub-committees set up to monitor progress and implementation, one wonders how many actually met.
    We can only give him an ‘E’ for effort.
    Thus, of all the lofty goals of reviewing curricula to eliminate extremist content; controlling the thousands of madressahs that have proliferated across Pakistan; preventing hate speech from being broadcast from mosques and TV studios; boosting intelligence-sharing between agencies and provinces; and improving the legal system, none have been met.
    Whenever he was asked about NAP’s progress, Nisar would shrug his narrow shoulders, and pass the buck on to the provincial governments; he was probably not pressed too hard by his cabinet colleagues. If ever there was a candidate for dismissal, resignation, or, indeed, hara kiri, it was our ex interior minister.
    I have never met him, but his lack of contact with reality was revealed when, in response to our new foreign minister’s sound advice that we needed to put our own house in order, Nisar replied: “With friends like him, who needs enemies?” So clearly, he remains convinced that he did a great job, and our ambivalent attitude towards jihadists and, more generally, towards extremism, is sound. Dream on, Chaudhry Sahib.
    And remember the Axact scandal? When the New York Times broke the story of this Pakistani company that was in the business of selling fake degrees worldwide in 2015, Nisar was furious. The Federal Investigation Agency was sent to raid Axact’s Karachi headquarters. The owner, Shoaib Ahmed Sheikh, was arrested. The TV licence the firm had acquired for BOL was revoked, and we all thought that was the end of the road for this alleged conman.
    But lo and behold! the channel resumed its controversial operations as if nothing had happened. Meanwhile, a senior Axact executive, Umair Hamid, has been convicted and jailed on money-laundering charges in the United States. Apparently, our courts act on a different concept of right and wrong than their counterparts elsewhere.
    This is true across the board, especially when it comes to terrorism. In the UK, 379 people have been arrested on suspicion of being involved in terror plots of one kind or another over the past year, a rise of 68 per cent. No doubt many of them will be released for want of evidence, but the scale of the arrests gives an idea of how seriously the threat is taken in Britain. This is equally true for most other countries where laws have been stiffened, sentences lengthened, and security services beefed up.
    In Pakistan, however, it’s business as usual, with alleged killers being released on bail, or being let off on some technicality. Take the shocking release of five suspected terrorists involved in Benazir Bhutto’s murder. The fact that they had confessed did not influence the anti-terrorism court judge; a technicality weighed more heavily in their favour. This judgement made headlines around the world, and sent a clear signal to terrorists that they were free to carry on with their murderous activities.
    This was the kind of ‘justice’ a part of NAP was directed at. But to the best of my knowledge, Nisar did not recommend any new laws to fix the gaping holes in our law-enforcement system. I suppose he was too busy making unending speeches.
    His exit from the interior ministry raises the hope that finally, we will see a serious attempt to tackle the terrorist threat. But this being Pakistan, and with a neo-fundo party in power, I won’t bet on it.

    Pakistan - Strange signals - ''Medecins Sans Frontieres''

    After 14 years of working in the war-torn Kurram district, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), or Doctors Without Borders, has been asked by the government to pack up and leave. The move is part of a larger clampdown on the operations of local and international NGOs across the country. The decision to refuse access to MSF is inexplicable – especially given the timing. Terrorism inside the Kurram district has been on the rise, the resettlement of IDPs is still ongoing while the government is also planning to repatriate Afghan refugees, which means that the need for medical assistance near the Afghan border is high.

     Local medical facilities have not recovered from almost a decade and a half of war and terrorism. The assistance of international health charities with experience of working in conflict zones is essential. We are no longer in the days when the US raid on Osama bin Laden’s lair in Abbottabad in 2011 was reported to have been assisted by an international NGO. That affair has continued to have an impact on health workers, especially on polio workers who remain targets of terrorist attacks.
    The recent actions against INGOs have sent rather confusing signals about where the counterterrorism priorities are being placed. It is increasingly hard to decipher how the government and security apparatus are interpreting their interests. Basic requirements and demands that all INGOs register, declare their work and be monitored might be fine; but a number of NGOs have had to face orders to shut shop. Many have been restricted from working in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and – surprisingly – southern Punjab. Given that no staff belonging to an international NGO has been charged with anything related to terrorism, there are few clues available to explain why access is being restricted so tightly. These decisions also raise questions internationally about Pakistan’s priorities – especially at a time when it is facing greater scrutiny over its handling of terrorists such as the Haqqani Network.

    There needs to be a formal explanation for the pack up orders for MSF; and it is likely that the government will be asked to explain the decision by international powers. Forcing out NGOs with such credible reputations is a bad strategy; the government would do well to revisit it.

    Pakistan - A house in disorder

    There is no concept of permanent friends or permanent enemies in foreign relations. Such relations are dictated only by permanent interests.

    It is always a big call when one decides to put one's house in order. It becomes all the more challenging when it is spoken in the context of a country's policies that impinge on its very existence.
    And if the announcement to the effect is made by the foreign minister of a country in a dire strait like Pakistan one would be perfectly justified in probing the assertion with a lot of scepticism.
    Seriously speaking one is not sure if there is enough time left for Pakistan to accomplish the miracle of putting its house in order and escape what certainly looks like an inevitable headlong collision with the global distrust.
    And also there is this question of willingness on the part of the nation at large to actually undertake the dangerous task of clearing the house of all those poisonous snakes called non-state actors (NSAs) that it had willingly raised in its backyard over the last nearly 38 years or precisely since the advent of the late General Ziaul Haq.
    Take for example the so-called Defence of Pakistan Council (DPC), an umbrella coalition of more than 40 Pakistani political and religious parties (including a number of banned parties) that advocate policies such as closing NATO supplyroutes to Afghanistan and rejects the Pakistani government decision to grant India most-favored nation status.
    In any sincere attempt to put Pakistan's house in order, the very first step would have to be to ban the DPC which has no constitutional or moral right to give calls for Jihad in defence of Pakistan.
    None of these 40 parties individually or in any kind and type of combination would win even a dozen seats in any national elections, still the umbrella coalition has consistently served as the political arm of the establishment on the streets whenever the mainstream political parties seemingly tended to challenge the hegemony of the establishment in national policy making.
    On occasions it had looked like as if the DPC activities were consigning Pakistan to what our enemies would want us to suffer perpetually: regional and global isolation.
    The other day during a TV talk-show a retired Lt. General had called Masood Azhar of the banned Jaish-e-Muhammad (JEM) a double agent. So, let us stop testing China's friendship by having our all-weather friend keep blocking a UN move to ban a globally identified terrorist.
    India claims Azhar Masood and his brother had a hand in the 2016 Pathankot incident. Also, those who had investigated the November 2008 Mumbai massacre claim that Pakistan has enough evidence to prove complicity of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders including Hafiz Saeed in the bloody incident.
    In any sincere attempt to put Pakistan's house in order, the very first step would have to be to ban the DPC which has no constitutional or moral right to give calls for Jihad in defence of Pakistan. It is the State and State alone that has the right, the responsibility and the duty to give such a call, as proclaimed by the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), General Qamar Bajwa, the other day.
    Next, as long as our foreign policy remains linked to our national pride the country is likely to remain as prone to disasters as it is today.
    There is no concept of permanent friends or permanent enemies in foreign relations. Such relations are dictated only by permanent interests.
    And it is not in our permanent interests to bottle up our own country regionally and globally by having permanently disturbed relations with our immediate Eastern, Western and North-Western neighbours.
    We can win over Afghanistan overnight if we were to offer this war-ravaged country two-way trade-route to India via Pakistan and perhaps also considerably reduce even Indian hostility towards Pakistan if our bigger Eastern neighbour were to be allowed to use land-route via Pakistan to reach Afghanistan and beyond to Central Asian markets.
    Perhaps India would be willing to consider a trade-off in Kashmir for a land route to reach Central Asian markets via Pakistan if we were to negotiate a deal with New Delhi while keeping our national fixations and national pride on ice for a while.
    Here it would not be out of place tomaintain that India would be too foolish, which indeed it is not, to risk these commercially lucrative routes by using them to unleash sabotage activities inside Pakistan.
    Moreover, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) running from Kashgar to Gwadar would doubly discourage India from taking such a risk. In fact, both India and China would benefit greatly if the India-Afghanistan trade route via Pakistan were to be linked to CPEC facilitating India to reach Western China markets and China to reach Northern and North- Western Indian markets.
    While putting the house in order we need also to recover the ideological space that we have lost to the NSAs since Zia.
    These NSAs have propagated a totally distorted ideology of Islam which has spread like wildfire across the country. An abhorrent combination of Wahabism, Salafism and Takfirism the proponents of this ideology believe in killing all those Muslims who do not subscribe to their version of Islam.
    The military's Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad campaigns have taken the sting out of these killers; but in order to win back permanently the space lost to them, those who are planning to put the house in order need to improve governance as a first step towards the goal.
    One needs also to understand that these NSAs have flourished on the back of elements who during the Pakistan movement had called the Quaid Kafir-e-Azam and vehemently opposed his demand for partition of the subcontinent on the basis of two-nation theory.
    During the Zia regime, these elements had successfully captured both the academic as well as media spaces in the country and have since been using these platforms to convince the succeeding generations that the Quaid did not mean what he said in his August 11, 1947 speech to the Constituent Assembly. They have also tried to continuously to suppress the fact Pakistan's first cabinet had a Hindu as the Law Minister and a Ahmedi as the Foreign Minister.
    These elements have even changed the order of Quaid's famous slogan: Unity, Faith and Discipline to Faith, Unity, and Discipline, and interpreted 'Faith' to mean 'Iman' rather than 'Yaqeen-i-Muhkam'.

    Pakistan - Failure on NFC front

    By Afrasiab Khattaak

    The 7th National Finance Commission (NFC) Award announced in 2009 came to an end after its five years term in 2014 and the new Award was due in 2015 but so far the government has failed to create consensus on resource distribution formula between the federation and the provinces.
    It doesn’t seem to be high on the priority list of the federal government which is facing threats to its very survival. For all practical purposes it seems obvious that the 8th NFC Award will have to wait for the new government. Unfortunately this government will join Zia-ul-Haq’s military dictatorship in the dubious distinction of not coming out with a fresh NFC Award and use the formula of the previous Award for distribution of financial resources for the interim period. General Musharraf’s dictatorship was no different.
    It also had failed in creating consensus on criteria for distribution of the financial cake even after declaring two National Finance Commissions (2000 and 2005).
    In 2006, General Musharraf arbitrarily declared the 6th Award after bypassing the procedure enshrined in the 1973 Constitution (Article 160 (1)).
    Since 1973 population has been the sole criteria for distribution of financial resources among the provinces. In no other country in the world population is the only factor for distribution of the national financial cake. This arrangement clearly suits Punjab that has insisted on the continuation of this unfair basis despite the demands by population wise smaller provinces for diversification of the factors.
    There was a slight change brought in 7th Award announced by democratic government in 2009.
    Population still remained 82 percent basis for distribution of financial resources but some other factors were also recognized; poverty 10
    percent, revenue generation 2.
    5 percent, revenue collection 2.
    5 percent and area 2.
    7 percent.
    Such high weightage to population is still against the best international practices where poverty and backwardness are given importance in the interest of harmony and even development but this is not the case in Pakistan. This situation has created extraordinary complications for the disempowered and socio economically backward smaller provinces. Punjab by virtue of its domination of the National Assembly (Punjab has 148 directly elected general seats of the total 272 general seats in the National Assembly) enjoys a veto on the money bill (annual budget). As if this isn’t enough, Punjab decisively controls the federal government by its total domination of civil and military bureaucracy. Therefore federal government is extension of Punjab’s power in the state system. While competing for their share in national financial resources the smaller provinces have to face not only the big brother Punjab as a province but also Punjab camouflaged as the federal government. This is the real secret behind the absence of a genuine fiscal federalism in Pakistan and the uneven socio economic development. Pakistan is a federation only in theory as it practically operates as a unitary state.
    But it is important to point out the main reason for delay in the announcement of the 8th NFC Award. The 7th NFC Award was announced in 2009 and the 18th Constitutional Amendment was approved by the Parliament in 2010 and the Implementation Commission finished its work in June 2011 by devolving 17 federal ministries to provinces as a consequence of the abolition of concurrent legislative list. I also participated in a meeting of the federal cabinet on special invitation as a member of the Implementation Commission in the last week of June 2011. The Chief Ministers demanded devolution of financial resources to the provinces so that they could cope with the additional expenditure of the ministries evolved to the provinces. Their argument was that the 57. 5 percent of the share of the provinces in the 7th NFC Award was accepted in 2009 before the 18th Constitutional Amendment so it can’t cater for their fresh requirements. The federal Finance Ministry was reluctant for obvious reasons. The then Prime Minister Yosuf Raza Gilani tried to find some middle ground. Ultimately an interim agreement was agreed upon. It was unanimously decided that there will be a block allocation in the federal budget for health, education and other ministries now devolved to provinces and the money will be transferred to the provinces. This arrangement was to continue up till the announcement of the new Award in which the provinces were to get more resources to meet their expenses on their own instead of depending on federal allocations.
    Now the federal government is consciously avoiding the decision of raising the share of the provinces in national financial resources. But it has no argument to oppose this since Punjab government was part of the decision taken in June 2011 so it’s using delaying tactics. Unfortunately the provincial governments in population wise smaller provinces have not been able to plead their case more forcefully. Sindh and Balochistan governments have suffered from the capacity problem under the new Chief Ministers. Pakhtunkhwa government also had the capacity problem but it was further aggravated by the political priorities of the PTI which is the ruling party in the province. Their focus was more at overthrowing the sitting federal government than defending the interest of Pakhtunkhwa. Interestingly the Pakhtunkhwa government recently threatened to go to the court against delay in announcement of NFC Award. But it has never requisitioned the meeting of Council of Common Interest to plead its case and put pressure on the federal government with the help of other smaller provinces.
    Be that as it may, it is important to introduce reforms to check this high handedness of the Punjab dominated federal government. One, Senate should have the power to discuss, amend and pass the money bill to counter the brute majority of one province in the National Assembly.
    Two, there should be a permanent National Finance Commission with experts from all sides so the deadlocks and delays can be avoided. But more importantly it is for the Punjab to decide as to whether it is prepared to
    accept a genuine and equitable federation or will it continue a myth of federation that will remain to be a mere extension of Punjab.

    Hafiz Saeed entering Pakistan politics is part of army's plan to bring militant groups into mainstream

    A new Pakistani political party controlled by an Islamist with a $10 million US bounty on his head is backing a candidate in a by-election on Sunday, in what a former senior army officer says is a key step in a military-proposed plan to mainstream militant groups.
    The Milli Muslim League party loyal to Hafiz Saeed, who the United States and India accuse of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people, has little chance of seeing its favoured candidate win the seat vacated when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was removed from office by the Supreme Court in July.
    But the foray into politics by Saeed’s Islamist charity is following a blueprint that Sharif himself rejected when the military proposed it last year, retired Lieutenant General Amjad Shuaib told Reuters.
    Three close Sharif confidants with knowledge of the discussions confirmed that Sharif had opposed the “mainstreaming” plan, which senior military figures and some analysts see as a way of steering ultra-religious groups away from violent jihad.
    “We have to separate those elements who are peaceful from the elements who are picking up weapons,” Shuaib said.
    Pakistan’s powerful military has long been accused of fostering militant groups as proxy fighters opposing neighbouring arch-enemy India, a charge the army denies.
    Patriotic people
    Saeed’s religious charity launched the Milli Muslim League party within two weeks after the court ousted Sharif over corruption allegations.
    Yaqoob Sheikh, the Lahore candidate for Milli Muslim League, is standing as an independent after the Electoral Commission said the party was not yet legally registered. But Saeed’s lieutenants, JUD workers and Milli Muslim League officials are running his campaign and portraits of Saeed adorn every poster promoting Sheikh.
    Another Islamist designated a terrorist by the United States, Fazlur Rehman Khalil, has told Reuters he too plans to soon form his own party to advocate strict Islamic law.
    “God willing, we will come into the mainstream as our country right now needs patriotic people,” Khalil said, vowing to turn Pakistan into a state government by strict Islamic law.
    Saeed’s charity and Khalil’s Ansar ul-Umma organisation are both seen by the United States as fronts for militant groups the army has been accused of sponsoring. The military denies any policy of encouraging radical groups. Both Islamist groups deny their political ambitions were engineered by the military. The official army spokesman was not available for comment after queries were sent to the press wing.
    Still, hundreds of MML supporters, waving posters of Saeed and demanding his release from house arrest, chanted “Long live Hafiz Saeed! Long live the Pakistan army!” at political rallies during the past week. “Anyone who is India’s friend is a traitor, a traitor,” went another campaign slogan, a reference to Sharif’s attempts to improve relations with long-time foe India that was a source of tension with the military.
    Deradicalisation plan
    Both Saeed and Khalil are proponents of a strict interpretation of Islam and have a history of supporting violence: Each man was reportedly a signatory to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s 1998 fatwa declaring war on the United States. They have since established religious groups that they say are unconnected to violence, though the United States maintains those groups are fronts for funnelling money and fighters to militants targeting India. Analyst Khaled Ahmed, who has researched Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity and its connections to the military, says the new political party is clearly an attempt by the generals to pursue an alternative to dismantling its militant proxies. “One thing is the army wants these guys to survive,” Ahmed said. “The other thing is that they want to also balance the politicians who are more and more inclined to normalise relations with India.”
    The military’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency first began pushing the political mainstreaming plan in April 2016, according to retired general Shuaib, a former director of the army’s military intelligence wing that is separate from the ISI.
    He said the proposal was shared with him in writing by the then-ISI chief, adding that he himself had spoken with Khalil as well as Saeed in an unofficial capacity about the plan.
    “Fazlur Rehman Khalil was very positive. Hafiz Saeed was very positive,” Shuaib said. “My conversation with them was just to confirm those things which I had been told by the ISI and other people.”
    Saeed has been under house arrest since January at his house in the eastern city of Lahore. The United States has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his conviction over the Mumbai attacks. Then-prime minister Sharif, however, was strongly against the military’s mainstreaming plan, according to Shuaib and three members of Sharif’s inner circle, including one who was in some of the tense meetings over the issue.
    Sharif wanted to completely dismantle groups like JuD. Disagreement on what to do about anti-India proxy fighters was a major source of rancour with the military, according to one of the close Sharif confidants.
    In recent weeks several senior figures from the ruling PML-N party have publicly implied that elements of the military — which has run Pakistan for almost half its modern history and previously ousted Sharif in a 1999 coup — had a hand in the court ouster of Sharif, a charge both the army and the court reject. A representative of the PML-N, which last month replaced him as prime minister with close ally Shahid Khaqi Abbasi, said the party was “not aware” of any mainstreaming plan being brought to the table.
    Religion and politics
    Some analysts worry that mainstreaming such controversial groups would be a risky strategy for Pakistan. US president Donald Trump’s administration has threatened sanctions against members of Pakistan’s military and even raised the spectre of declaring Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism. “It will send a wrong message,” said analyst Zahid Hussain, who nevertheless thought that Saeed’s new party would have a “negligible” effect on Pakistani elections because religious parties have never won more than a few seats in parliament.
    Others are not so sure. Sheikh, the MML candidate in Sunday’s by-election who says he was handpicked by Hafiz Saeed, vowed to establish strict Islamic rule and “break” liberalism and secularism.
    Analyst Ahmed warned that few existing religious parties have a charismatic leader like Saeed, and Pakistan may find itself unable to control a rising tide of Islamist sentiment.
    “If Hafiz Saeed comes into the mainstream, it’s not that he is going to be politicised,” he added. “It’s that he is going to make politics more religious.”

    Christian man in Lahore sentenced to death over blasphemous WhatsApp text

    A Christian man in Lahore has been sentenced to death for blasphemy after he sent a Muslim friend a poem on WhatsApp that insulted Islam, a lawyer said Friday.
    The accused was charged in July last year after his friend, Yasir Bashir, complained to police that he received a poem on the messaging app that was derogatory toward the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and other holy figures.
    The accused “was handed a death sentence by the court on Thursday on blasphemy charges,” defence lawyer Anjum Wakeel told AFP, alleging that his client was been framed by Bashir.
    “My client will appeal the sentence in the high court as he has been framed by his friend who was annoyed over his [the accused's] affair with a Muslim girl,” Wakeel said. He said the trial was held inside a prison due to security reasons after local clerics had threatened the accused and his family.
    Court officials confirmed the sentence.
    Blasphemy has been a contentious issue in the country where people have been murdered over allegations of sacrilege. Earlier this year, a mob in Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan beat up a student, Mashal Khan, to death after accusing him of blasphemy over social media.
    The incident caused an outrage across the country, with calls for the blasphemy law to be amended. The investigation into Mashal's murder was concluded after a joint investigation team probing the case cleared him of all blasphemy charges.
    Pakistan is cracking down against blasphemy related crimes on social media with former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar threatening to block all social media websites with 'blasphemous content' earlier this year.

    Video - Full Speech - Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Addressing Public Gathering At Dadu

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