Friday, September 22, 2017

China - Freedom of speech no excuse for challenging Chinese sovereignty

By Liu Lulu

The China Scholarship Council (CSC), a branch of China's Ministry of Education, is reported to have frozen applications by Chinese scholars for state funding for study at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), a move that is seen by some in the US as retaliation against UCSD for inviting the 14th Dalai Lama to speak at its commencement ceremony in June.  The report has not been confirmed by Chinese authorities.

The Dalai Lama has been active in Tibetan separatist activities under the cloak of religion and has instigated a few bloody violent incidents in Tibet. As one of the top universities in the world, UCSD should offer students an objective picture of Tibet. But regrettably, it called the political exile "a man of peace" and used "freedom of speech" to challenge China's territorial integrity. 

Beijing's determination to guard national interests cannot be overlooked, and China will not allow its territorial integrity to be challenged.

By inviting the Dalai Lama to address the graduates, UCSD has hurt the feelings of the Chinese people. China, at both the non-official and official level, will not treat the university like before. Chinese universities will have to take cooperative projects with the school into consideration and voices calling for Chinese authorities not to recognize UCSD diplomas or degrees are heard. Putting a freeze on CSC-funded Chinese scholars to the university may not be the end.

Western media are hyping about the Chinese government steadily putting pressure on overseas institutes to suppress dissidents. But inviting the Dalai Lama to give a commencement speech at an American university is not a matter of freedom of speech. It is a serious challenge to China's territorial integrity and Western media should learn more history before judging the Chinese government. 

Today's China has greater influence in the world and consequently, greater say in international affairs and a growing number of Chinese students have gone to the US for study to better contribute to China's development. Meanwhile, US students will inevitably become more engaged with China, and this is indispensable for US development. If American students' history education is outdated and prejudiced, then future Sino-US exchanges will encounter problems. We hope other Western universities get a lesson from UCSD and offer students a true picture of history, including Tibet's.

CrossTalk on UNGA: (UN)Diplomatic

Video Report - '100% natural & no chemicals': Russian food producers boom in wake of Western sanctions

Brexit: "The rest of Europe has already forgotten about it"

Catalan Independence - a legal or political problem?

Video - NDTV Exclusive: Hillary Clinton On Election Defeat, Indian Women And Yoga

Video Report - Hillary Clinton on Trump's Take on Pakistan-Based Terror

Video Report - Panel on Kim Jong Un Calls President Trump ‘Dotard’ and ‘Frightened Dog’

Video Report - #Dotard: an educational insult

Education Department withdraws Obama-era campus sexual assault guidance

By Sophie Tatum

The Education Department announced Friday it is formally rescinding Obama-era guidance on how schools should handle sexual assaults under Title IX federal law.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced earlier this month that her department was concerned that previous guidance denied proper due process to those accused.
As part of the interim guidance, the department released a Q&A outlining recommendations on how schools should respond, including guidance on what schools are obligated to do in response to allegations and their flexibility in establishing their own procedures.
The administration is formally withdrawing the Obama administration's "dear colleague letter"that some, including DeVos, have criticized for going too far. The standard for proof has been raised for school disciplinary proceedings in some instances, as different schools have different policies.
    One aspect of the Obama-era guidance that remains is the responsibility of the school to investigate, rather than leave the matter to law enforcement.
    Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on sex for schools and programs that receive federal funding, including protection from sexual harassment.
    The announcement quickly received backlash from advocacy groups and lawmakers.
    "Shameful. This decision will hurt and betray students, plain and simple," Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, tweeted.
    Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders called on Congress to respond to the move.
    "This is a disgrace and a disservice to everyone who has worked to address sexual violence. Congress must act to undo this terrible decision," the senator tweeted.
    "Betsy DeVos and Candice Jackson's intentions are clear: to protect those who 'grab' by the genitals and brag about it — and make college campuses a safer place for them," Sofie Karasek, director of education and co-founder of End Rape on Campus, said in a statement. Jackson is the head of the civil rights division within the Education Department.
    Earlier this week, former Vice President Joe Biden was featured in a three-year anniversary video for "It's On Us" -- the group he co-founded with President Barack Obama aimed at curbing sexual violence on college campuses.
    In the video, Biden warned against "new challenges" in combating campus sexual assault.
    "You may have heard the progress we made, the additional protections we put in Title IX, which is now the law, that protects students from sexual discrimination -- that includes sexual violence," Biden says in the video. "Now the Department of Education under new leadership is working to roll back the protections under Title IX that we worked so hard to put in place."
    However, some applauded the department's announcement.
    "The campus justice system was and is broken," Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) Executive Director Robert Shibley said in a statement. "Fair outcomes are impossible without fair procedures. When the government sprang its 2011 letter on colleges and students without warning, it made it impossible for campuses to serve the needs of victims while also respecting the rights of the accused. With the end of this destructive policy, we finally have the opportunity to get it right."
    FIRE is a free speech and student right's organization that has repeatedly criticized the Obama administration's policy.
    The guidance affects colleges, universities and K-12 schools.
    "The withdrawn documents ignored notice and comment requirements, created a system that lacked basic elements of due process and failed to ensure fundamental fairness," a Department of Education statement reads.
    "This interim guidance will help schools as they work to combat sexual misconduct and will treat all students fairly," DeVos said in a release. "Schools must continue to confront these horrific crimes and behaviors head-on. There will be no more sweeping them under the rug. But the process also must be fair and impartial, giving everyone more confidence in its outcomes."

    Pashto Music Video - GULNAR BEGUM - 'Rekhat me raghalay'

    Pashto Music - Nan Pah De Hujra Ke Khushali

    Gulnar Begum - Na Darze Pa Laas Zulfi Zama

    پښتنو موسیقي ویډیو - ساقي | اجمل خټک | سردارعلي ټکر

    Music VIDEO - جدايي | غني خان | سردارعلي ټکر

    Asif ali zardari press conference - 22 September 2017

    #Afghanistan - Kandahar Raisin's Garden - VOA Ashna

    ډاکټران وايي هرکال پینځه زره پښتانه په کېنسر اخته کیږي - Blood cancer day in Peshawar

    په خیبر 
    پښتونخوا کې د کېنسر ناروغۍ د مخنیوي چارواکو خبرداری ورکړی په صوبه او قبایلي سیمو کې د کېنسر د مریضانو زیاتیدونکي شمیره د فکر وړ ده. د دغو چارواکو په وینا په پښتونخوا او قبایلي سیمو کې هر کال پينځه زره کسان د کېنسر په مرض اخته کیږي او په دغو کې د زیاتو کسانو عمرونه د ۴۶ کالو نه کم وي.
    په پیښور کې د بلډ کېنسر ډی یا د وینې د کېنسر ناروغۍ نړیوالې ورځ په مناسبت راجوړې غونډې کې ډاکټرانو او مریضانو د کېنسر ناروغۍ په اړه ګټه ورې خبرې کړي دي.
    د پیښور حیات اباد میډیکل کمپلکس د کېنسر څانګې مشر ډاکټر عابد جمیل وي او ډیوه ته وايي په پښتونخوا کې د وینې او سینې کېنسر د مریضانو شمیره ډیره ده او دا مهال په صوبه کې د ۱۸۰۰ نهسېوا مریضانو ویړیا یا مفت علاج روان دی. ډاکټر جمیل وايي ٫٫ خیچن ماحول یا الودګي، ملاوټي خوراکونه، سیګرټ او تماکو او د ابادۍ ورځ په ورځ سېوا کیدل د کېنسر ناروغۍ د زیات والي لوې علتونه دي.٬٬
    په خیبر پښتونخوا کې د عوامي نیشنل پارټۍ د تیر حکومت راپه دیخوا د کېنسر د ناروغانو ویړیا (مفت) علاج کیږي. د صحت چارو اکي وايي د کېنسر په یو مریض باندې د کال په حساب د څلورنیم لکه نه تر څلویښت لکو روپور پورې مصرف راځي.
    د کېنسر د مخ نیوي صوبایي چارواکو وي او ای ډیوه ته ویلي په پښتونخوا کې د مریضانو زیات شمیرهدپیښور، سوات، مردان او چارسدې ضلعو دي او په قبایلي سیمو کې بیا د شمالي وزیرستان، جنوبي وزیرستان او مومندو ایجنسې د ناروغانو شمیره سېوا ده.
    په پیښور کې د وینې د کېنسر په اړه په دغه غونډه کې د کېنسر مریضانو هم ګډون کړی او د کېنسر ناروغۍ له وجې د خپل ستونزې څه داسې بیانوي:
    هر کال په ګرده نړۍ کې د سپټمبر په ۲۲مه نیټه د وینې د کېنسر (بلډ کېنسر) نړیوال ورځ لمانځل کیږي. د دې ورځې د لمانځول مقصد په خلکو کې د وینې د کېنسر په اړه پوهه او بیداري راوستل دي.

    Protests Outside UN Over Pakistan Army's Atrocities In Balochistan, Sindh

    Protesters raised their voice against "genocide" and brutal Pakistani military operations, enforced disappearances, torture and killings of civilians in Balochistan and Sindh.
    Members of the Baloch and Sindhi community today held a joint protest outside the UN headquarters against atrocities and human rights violations by Pakistani security forces in Balochistan and Sindh.
    Organised by the Baloch National Movement (BNM) and Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) protesters raised their voice against the brutal Pakistani military operations, enforced disappearances, torture and killings of civilians.
    Nabi Bakhsh Baloch, secretary general, BNM-North America stated that the ongoing Pakistani military operation in the Kolwah area of Balochistan has resulted in fatalities while a large number of residents were taken away by soldiers who also set fire to their homes and properties.
    "For the record, this scenario is not about Myanmar or Rohingya Muslims but Balochistan where Pakistan's army is committing genocide (against people in Balochistan and Sindh)" he said.
    In a statement, Sarang Ansari, JSQM - North America strongly condemned the "Pakistani state policy" of repressing the voice of political dissent in Sindh resulting in mass enforced disappearances, targeted killings, forced conversion of girls to Islam and brutal sectarian violence deliberately targeting Sufi shrines and places of worship of religious minorities.
    Mr Ansari demanded "immediate action by the UN to stop Pakistan from using terrorist jihadist outfits in Sindh and Balochistan against secular nationalist organisations".
    In a joint memorandum submitted to the UN Secretary General, BNM and JSQM urged the world body to urgently take action against Pakistan army's "war crimes" committed against innocent civilian populations and the political dissent in Balochistan and Sindh.
    "People of Sindh and Balochistan demand for an urgent UN intervention to stop the Pakistani state atrocities, gross human rights violations and crimes against humanity committed against civilian populations," the memorandum said.
    "Suffering families ask for the return of thousands of Baloch and Sindhi missing persons illegally taken away by the Pakistan army in the last several years. UN should send a peace and human rights mission to Islamabad to find ways to end all military operations in Sindh and Balochistan," the joint memorandum said.

    Pakistan army pushed political role for militant-linked groups

    The backing of a candidate in a by-election last weekend in Pakistan by a political party controlled by an Islamist with a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head was in line with a plan put forward by the military last year to mainstream militant groups, according to sources familiar with the proposal.
    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 – won 5 percent of the votes in the contest for 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 appears to be following a blueprint that Sharif himself rejected when the military proposed it in 2016, according to three government officials and a retired former general briefed on the discussions.
    None of the sources interviewed for this article could say for sure if the MML’s founding was the direct result of the military’s plan, which was not discussed in meetings after Sharif put it on ice last year.
    The MML denies its political ambitions were engineered by the military. The official army spokesman did not comment after queries were sent to his office about the mainstreaming plan and what happened to it.
    Pakistan’s powerful military has long been accused of fostering militant groups as proxy fighters opposing neighboring arch-enemy India, a charge the army denies.
    Three government officials and close Sharif confidants with knowledge of the discussions said the military’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) presented proposals for “mainstreaming” some militant groups in a meeting last year. They said 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,” said retired Lieutenant General Amjad Shuaib, adding that such groups should be “helped out to create a political structure” to come into the mainstream.
    The plan – which Shuaib told Reuters was shared with him by the then-head of the ISI - said those who were willing “should be encouraged to come into the mainstream politics of the country”.
    He added that in his capacity as a retired senior military officer he unofficially spoke to Hafiz Saaed and another alleged militant about the plan, and they were receptive.
    Shuaib later said his comments in the interview were taken out of context and were part of a broader discussion about deradicalization strategies. Writing in a local newspaper on Wednesday he said the report “maliciously attributed some statements to me totally out of context, just to suit its own narrative”.
    A spokesperson for Reuters said: “We stand by our reporting.”
    Saeed’s religious charity launched the Milli Muslim League party within two weeks of the court ousting Sharif over corruption allegations.
    Yaqoob Sheikh, the Lahore candidate for Milli Muslim League, stood as an independent after the Electoral Commission said the party was not yet legally registered.
    But Saeed’s lieutenants, JUD workers and MML officials ran his campaign and portraits of Saeed adorn every poster promoting Sheikh, who came in fourth place on Sunday with Sharif’s wife taking the seat as expected.
    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 - 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 organization 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.
    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 run-up to the by-election.
    “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.
    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 funneling 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 normalize relations with India.”
    The ISI began pushing the political mainstreaming plan in 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.”
    The ISI’s main press liaison did not respond to written requests for comment.
    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 the 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 rancor 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.


    Saudi ambassador to Pakistan chaired a conference where ringleaders of banned Deobandi terrorist outfits also attended and spoke. Hosting the terrorists has put a question mark on the credibility of Saudi monarchy and its role in internal affairs of Pakistan.

    Masroor Nawaz Jhangvi of the proscribed ASWJ, son of founder of mother of all terrorism in Pakistan Sipah-e-Sahaba (ASWJ) namely Haq Nawaz Jhanvi spoke at the conference led by Saudi ambassador.
    Apart from him Fazlur Rehman Khalil of another banned Deobandi terrorist outfit and some other notorious figures also participated in the conference. 

    Pakistani nation has expressed its profound dislike for pro-terrorists and pro-takfiris policies of Saudi monarchy and meddling into internal affairs of Pakistan.

    Pakistan - Why do so many coal miners die in Balochistan? ''the graveyard of mines''

    In Balochistan, one often comes across news in the local newspapers of coal miners dying deep inside mines. One such place is the congested yet green town of Mach in Kachhi district, where coal mines have existed for a long time. Mach, situated between Quetta and Sibi district, was rebuilt after the devastating 1935 earthquake.
    Even before properly entering Mach, coal miners attract one’s attention. One of the coal miners is Jabbar, who works a few kilometres away from town. He’s busy picking up sacks of coal, and refuses to answer questions until he completes his work. Then, sitting in his broken chair with a wire and a bell in his hand, he tells Dawn: “See this, it goes down into the mine approximately 100 feet, where seven of my co-workers are working. They work from dawn to dusk. They come out only once for lunch and tea.”
    During our chat, the bell rings — a sequence of three. Jabbar starts pulling on the wire. “This message denotes they’ve filled the sacks up with coal. I have to pull them up. Rung five times, that means my co-workers are in deep trouble but there is no one to help them but me. We are not given any safety equipment. Our manager comes here once a month, although it’s his duty to take care of the workers and come here regularly. He’s supposed to inspect the coal mine every day before letting us in, but that doesn’t happen either.”
    In Mach, the business of coal mines thrived in the 1980s. Since then, neither the government nor the coal mines’ owners have paid heed to the vulnerability of miners. In the beginning, in Mach, coal miners would predominantly be from outside the province and the country, such as the Hazaras of Afghanistan. But sectarian violence drove some of them out. Those who remain work in the mines in double shifts — because they are hard-working, but also because they fear being targeted. “Currently, 70 per cent of the coal miners belong to Swat, or are Afghan Hazaras. The rest are from the local tribes of Mach and other areas of Balochistan,” says Imran Sumalani, a Mach-based reporter.
    Although it is a risky job, coal miners earn scant salaries. According to Jabbar, they are given Rs1,200 per week. “There is no bonus for us,” he adds. Quetta’s Daily Azadi newspaper also reports that scholarships allocated for the children of labourers have been embezzled. This begs the question of how much government officials are concerned about them. By sheer luck, Jabbar says, his group has not yet witnessed any deadly incidents.
    One of the old coal mines is situated in the mountains, accessible by motorbike. Heading there, one can see makeshift shelters that the coal miners have built. At the mine, a Pashtun coal miner, Khalil, from Swat, welcomes us. He laughs upon being asked about safety measures: “We’re extracting coal from below 1,400 feet. Who can come to our rescue here? Those of us that are gone, are gone. A coal mine is already something like a grave — in some places the miners go down as far down as 3,000 feet.”
    Khalil, who has also worked at coal mines elsewhere in the province, points out that, “In Balochistan’s Dukki in the north, coal miners die from poisonous gas. In Mach, the mountains are weak — coal miners die because of avalanches, or are suffocated by gas.” Recently, three coal miners died because of gas suffocation in Harnai district. A local leader of the coal miners informal association, Bakht Nawab, says that as many as 80 miners die annually in the province. But Chief Inspector Iftikhar Ahmad holds the coal miners responsible for the accidents. Sitting at his office on Quetta’s Sariab Link Road, he says: “Coal miners start digging without inspection, which result in these incidents.” He talks about coal miners entering the mines and starting to pump water, as a result of which cracks appear that emit gas.
    The labour department reportedly receives millions of rupees from the Mach coal mines. However, according to a local reporter, Imran, the government entity doesn’t even have a footprint here. “When there is an accident, the labour department is shamelessly silent,” says activist Maulana Abdul Samad Shahwani. “There are no doctors and other health facilities. Coal miners don’t have access to schools for their children, either, or places to live.”
    When I visit the office of the Inspectorate of Mines in Mach, the inspector was absent. In his place, a junior official says that the owners of coal mines don’t care about their workers. “We took 20 companies to court for criminal negligence and they were charged Rs10,000 to 20,000 only. In 2016, they were sent legal notices but nothing much has changed. We also provide first aid to coal miners when needed.”
    But Khalil says that “We get nothing from them. The inspector comes only after accidents. Coal miners dying is a decision that is not in our hands. We can do nothing. But we’d like to make a humble plea to the provincial government that families ought to be compensated when tragedies occur. Too often, even if compensation is announced, it gets embezzled.”

    Reforming Pakistan's blasphemy law

    By Mashaal Gauhar

    Pakistan’s blasphemy law is deemed a violation of international law not only for its undue curtailment of freedom of expression but also for its discriminatory effect. Too many precious lives have been lost as a result of this law — the time for reform has been long overdue
    Once again, Pakistan’s onerous blasphemy law has resulted in a death sentence for a 35-year-old member of Pakistan’s minority Christian community. Nadeem James was accused of publishing blasphemous material on the messaging service Whatsapp in 2016 and now faces the death penalty.
    It is well known that Pakistan’s blasphemy law is routinely misused for personal vendettas usually involving the usurping of property and assets from minority communities. In April this year, the National Assembly passed a resolution to introduce safeguards into the law to prevent its abuse. This resolution came about after the lynching of Mardan University student Mashal Khan, on grounds of alleged blasphemy for which 57 suspects have been indicted by an anti-terrorism court. His horrific murder highlights how the blasphemy law encourages vigilantism and mob rule. However, no concrete changes have been made to the law and as this recent conviction shows, the law is still open to dangerous misuse.
    In June this year, the EU Parliament unequivocally denounced Pakistan’s blasphemy law stating that it was “deeply concerned” at the continued use of the blasphemy law, urged for the repealing of Sections 295-A, 295-B and 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code and called on the government to take a stronger position in condemning acts of vigilantism in the name of blasphemy.
    Numerous horrific murders highlight how the blasphemy law encourages vigilantism and mob rule Apart from legitimising the persecution of vulnerable targets, the adverse effect of the blasphemy law on wider society is all too clear: the recent murder of 17-year-old Christian student Sharoon Masih by his Muslim class fellows for drinking from the same glass exposes the violent prejudices fostered by indefensible laws which achieve nothing other than endorsing hatred. A statement published by the Catholic Bishops’ National Justice and Peace Commission underlined how “a trivial quarrel among teenagers” was “actually caused by intolerance, discrimination and inhuman attitudes towards minorities and marginalised communities.”
    The assassination of the former Punjab Governor, Salmaan Taseer who championed the rights of minorities and called for reform of the blasphemy law lays bare the dangerous extremist mindset that has taken hold in Pakistan. Similarly, the murder of former Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, a vocal critic of Pakistan’s blasphemy law, by extremist militants represents the brutal silencing of progressive voices against rising fanaticism.
    It must be remembered that while Pakistan may have been founded as a Muslim homeland, it was created as a haven for all people at the time of independence in 1947. In fact, Pakistan’s founding father, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, stressed the importance of religious freedom in his speech to the opening session of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan: “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State.... We are starting in the days where there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State.”
    Pakistan today does not seem any different to the 9th century when the great sufi mystic Mansur Hallaj was killed on grounds of blasphemy for his words “Ana ‘l-Haqq” or “I am the Truth”. As is the case today, Hallaj’s execution was motivated by an act of personal revenge by the ruling order of Baghdad — blasphemy was just the feeble excuse to justify this with religious authorities insisting that his words were a claim to divinity. Far from being blasphemous, his words actually signified complete submission to a higher being by subsuming his own identity within God. As in Hallaj’s time, blasphemy charges are nothing more than a tool for exploitation deployed for ulterior motives. Pakistan’s blasphemy law is deemed a violation of international law not only for its undue curtailment of freedom of expression but also for its discriminatory effect. Too many precious lives have been lost as a result of this law — the time for reform is long overdue.

    Pakistan - #MashaalKhan - Indicted For Lynching

    There is a long history in Pakistan of dissenting voices being silenced on the pretext of religion. While the state has been complicit in this travesty several times, the most problematic instance is mobs taking the law in their own hands. Such an incidence took place in April this year, when a student of University of Mardan , Mashaal Khan, was lynched on the rumors of using ‘un-Islamic remarks’ on social media.
    The resultant outrage and the investigation that followed revealed a sinister conspiracy involving the faculty and local political leaders in inciting the mob. The indicting of 57 individuals by Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Haripur against the lynching of Mashaal Khan hopefully indicates that the state is finally not letting the people to take religious affairs and state law into their own hands.
    The ATC is fully empowered to deal with this instance, its procedures and the powers at its disposal should ensure its ability to effectively try and sentence the individuals involved in the incident – especially in a case that is being avidly followed by the public. With the government’s support ATCs have been able to try and hang Mumtaz Qadri, a man with much more organized and violent support, the present ATC should be able to try the Mashaal case comfortably.
    It is hoped that the state will deal with the incited individuals without any flexibility. If these people are set free, the society will face further tragic incidents. The state needs to punish those responsible for the brutal murder of Mashaal and set a strong precedent against such acts. Only then people will be discouraged from taking the law into their own hands. Only then justice will be served.

    Musharraf should return and face the courts if he is so brave: Zardari

    Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari on Friday said former president Pervez Musharraf should return and face the courts “if he is so brave”.
    Musharraf in a video posted to his party’s Facebook page had accused Zardari of involvement in the murders of Benazir Bhutto and Murtaza Bhutto.
    “Politics of the past is filled with blame games. If he (Musharraf) is so brave then he should return to Pakistan and face the courts,” Zardari told reporters at Kamalia.
    Musharraf had alleged said that ‘innocent officers’ - former Rawalpindi City Police Officer Saud Aziz and former Rawal Town Superintendent Police Khurram Shahzad were sentenced to 17 years in prison while five terrorists, who were under custody, were acquitted. “I was quiet when Zardari accused me of murdering Benazir Bhutto,” he added.
    Musharraf claimed senior Afghan leaders were also involved in the murder as Zardari had contacts with former Afghan president Hamid Karzai. “My revelations are important for (Zardari’s children) Bilawal (Bhutto Zardari), Aseefa (Bhutto Zardari) and Bakhtawar (Bhutto Zardari),” he said.
    He strongly reacted to the allegation of Asif Zardari who alleged that Musharraf was behind the killing of Benazir. He said that it was Asif Zardari who benefitted the most from the murders of Benazir Bhutto and Murtaza Bhutto.
    He questioned as to why Asif Zardari did not pursue the Benazir Bhutto murder was when he was in power for five years. Musharraf said Asif Zardari had close relations with former Afghan president Hamid Karzai.
    The former president said who asked to make sunroof in the bombproof car of the slain former prime minister; who asked Benazir Bhutto to come out of the car.
    He said that a close companion of PPP co-chairman namely Shehanshah was also present along with Amin Faheem, Naheed Khan and Safdar Abbasi in Benazir Bhutto’s car. Shehanshah was later killed in Karachi.
    Last month, an Anti-Terrorism Court in Rawalpindi announced the verdict in the Benazir Bhutto murder case after nine years and declared Musharraf an absconder.
    The court ordered to forfeit Musharraf’s property and also sentenced former Rawalpindi CPO Saud Aziz and former Rawal Town SP Khurram Shahzad to 17 years in prison, and fined them Rs500,000 each. The court also released the other five suspects, who were arrested in this case, over lack of evidence against them.
    Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in a gun-and-bomb attack outside Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh on December 27, 2007, when Musharraf was in power.

    Pakistan - Musharraf knows what it means to be chased by law

    The PPP challenges former dictator General Pervez Musharraf to be man enough and return to the country and face in the courts the charge of complicity in the murder of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto as well as the charges of high treason under Article 6 of the Constitution.
    This has been stated by Spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar in a statement today.
    He said that the fugitive from law and the courts General Musharraf lacks the courage to return to the country and face charges formally pressed against him in the High Court.
    “It is the act of a coward who raises his arm threatening to strike but does not have the courage to give the blow”.
    He said that Musharraf had been unnerved by the admission by LHC Rawalpindi Bench on Thursday of Mr. Asif Zardari’s three appeals one of which seeks death penalty for Musharraf for murdering Shaheed Benazir Bhutto.
    As the PPP wan not allowed to become a party to the case thus far Musharraf liked to imagine that his crime will never be exposed and he will escape retribution.
    But the August 31 verdict of the Rawalpindi anti terrorism court opened the shut doors for Mr. Zardari to enter into the field as an aggrieved party and chase Musharraf to bring him to justice, he said.
    The ATC verdict declared Musharraf as absconder and separated his case. Zardari’s appeal to set aside the ATC order of May 8 and judgment of August 31 has been admitted for hearing by the LHC.
    Farhatullah Babar said that Musharraf knows full well as to what it means to be chased by law and by Zardari. This explains why the dictator who prided himself to be a commando is so shaken and unnerved, he said.
    Musharraf’s warnings to Shaheed Benazir Bhutto that she would risk her life if she returned to Pakistan ahead of the 2008 elections and his refusal to provide her security are already well documented and need no elaboration.
    Musharraf’s patronage of the extremists is also well known. While in office he sought to fool the world with his claims of ‘enlightened moderation’, but when out of office he admitted to having aided the Taliban, the Spokesperson said.
    Musharraf knows that sooner or later as the long arms of the law reach him he will no longer be able to seek refuge in a hospital in Rawalpindi.
    One may pity Musharraf but unfortunately for him the stern laws of nature seldom pause for pity, he said.

    New York: Pakistani PM Abbasi washes hands off deadly blasphemy law

    Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has washed his hands off the blasphemy law, saying it is on the parliament to change or amend it.

    When asked by a Human Rights Watch official, at the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, if he would speak out against it, he said, "It's only up to the parliament to amend or change the laws."

    "Asked to take moral stand against "blasphemy" executions, Pakistan PM opts for cowardice, says it's up to parliament," HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth tweeted.

    Recently, a court in Pakistan's Punjab province had sentenced death to Nadeem James, a 35-year-old Christian, for sending a poem to a friend that was deemed insulting to Islam.

    However, James denied ever having sent the message.

    James isn't the only person in Pakistan condemned to death over a post on social media.

    In June, Taimoor Raza, 30, was sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court in Bahawalpur district for allegedly making blasphemous comments during a Facebook chat with someone, who eventually turned out be a counter-terrorism agent on the prowl, the Human Rights Watch quoted Saroop Ijaz, a lawyer employed by HRW in Pakistan, as saying.

    In April 2014, a Christian couple was sentenced to death for sending a blasphemous text message to a local cleric. The couple claimed that they were illiterate and could not have sent a blasphemous text in English. Junaid Hafeez, a university professor, has been imprisoned for nearly four years, facing a possible death sentence, for accusations of sharing blasphemous material online. Hafeez's lawyer was murdered in May 2014.

    The abusive nature of Pakistan's blasphemy laws is not new. However, the increasing use of blasphemy provisions to jail and prosecute people for comments made on social media is a dangerous escalation. Many officials are using religious rhetoric and whipping up tensions over the issue of blasphemy.

    In March, the then-interior minister described blasphemers as "enemies of humanity" and expressed the intention of taking the matter of blasphemers to a "logical conclusion."

    Although no one has yet been executed for the crime, Pakistan's penal code makes the death penalty mandatory in blasphemy convictions. At least 19 people remain on death row.

    Even accusations of blasphemy can be deadly as at least 60 people accused of blasphemy have been murdered since 1990.

    Religious minorities are significantly over-represented among those facing blasphemy charges, and are often victimised due to personal disputes. A death sentence for alleged blasphemy online in a country, with low literacy rates and lack of familiarity with modern technology, is an invitation for a witch-hunt. Pakistan needs to amend and ultimately repeal its blasphemy laws; not extend their scope to digital speech.

    خیبرپختونخوا؛15 لاکھ بچے اسکولوں سے باہر ہیں،سروے

    خیبرپختونخوا میں اسکول نہ جانے والے بچوں کےبارے میں سروے مکمل ہوگیا ۔محکمہ تعلیم خیبرپختونخوا کی جانب سے آؤٹ آف اسکول بچوں سے متعلق سروے کے ابتدائی نتائج کے مطابق 15 لاکھ بچے اسکولوں سے باہر ہیں، جن میں سے9 لاکھ بچے کبھی اسکول نہیں گئے جبکہ 6 لاکھ نے تعلیم ادھوری چھوڑ دی ۔
    محکمہ تعلیم ذرائع کے مطابق خیبرپختونخوا کے 25 اضلاع کے 45 لاکھ گھروں کا سروے کیاگیا۔
    سروے کے ابتدائی نتائج کے مطابق صوبہ میں17 سال تک کی عمر کے بچوں کی تعداد 1 کروڑ 18 لاکھ ہے جن میں 62 لاکھ لڑکے اور 56 لاکھ لڑکیاں شامل ہیں۔ ان میں اسکول جانے کی عمر کے60 لاکھ بچے تعلیم حاصل کررہے ہیں جبکہ تقریباً 15 لاکھ بچے اسکولوں سے باہر ہیں۔
    اسکول سے باہر رہنے والے بچوں میں 9 لاکھ کبھی اسکول ہی نہیں گئےجبکہ 6 لاکھ ایسے ہیں جنہوں نے تعلیم کا سلسلہ بیچ میں ہی ادھورا چھوڑ دیا۔
    اسکول نہ جانے والے ان بچوں میں 10 لاکھ لڑکیاں اور 5 لاکھ لڑکے شامل ہیں۔ اسکولوں میں داخلہ کی سب سے کم شرح شانگلہ، کوہستان اور تورغر میں ریکارڈ کی گئی ہے۔
    بچوں کے اسکول سے باہر رہنے کی بڑی وجوہات میں بچے کا تعلیم کے ساتھ لگاؤ نہ ہونا، غربت، ٹرانسپورٹ کی عدم دستیابی اور اسکول سے فاصلہ شامل ہیں۔
    سروے کے لئے محکمہ تعلیم نے22 کروڑ 70 لاکھ روپے مختص کئے تھے۔