Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Pashto Music Video - Gulnar Baigum - Nan me che raashee khkule ashna

Pakistani media’s misplaced priorities

By Kamran Yousaf
The Pakistani media follows a certain template. Pick any newspaper in the morning or tune in to any news channel in the evening, stories related to politics always make it to the front pages and primetime news bulletins. Read articles in any newspaper or watch any talk show on TV, only one issue dominates — politics.
It is true that there is never a dull moment in Pakistani politics. The fragile democratic system often disrupted by military coups has always kept us on our toes. In the last three decades, so much has happened on the political front that it is difficult to keep track of every event. Although people have short memories, few would have forgotten the major political developments of the recent past. In the last five years, we saw two sitting prime ministers being ousted from power by the Supreme Court.
The other issue that keeps us on the tenterhooks is security. After the 9/11 attacks, Pakistan has been in the eye of a storm. Frequent terrorist attacks, military’s counter-terrorism campaign and the ever-evolving, delicate geo-political scenario, are naturally issues that can’t be ignored. It is understandable that in this environment, the media in Pakistan has to give prominent coverage to issues related to politics and security. However, in a country with a population of around 208 million, it has much more to offer than just issues of politics and security.
It is not that our media never gives coverage to health, education and social issues, etc. The real problem is that such issues have never been given due importance that they should have otherwise. Two recent examples can illustrate what are the priorities of our media outlets, both print and electronic. A recent international study revealed that up to 60 million people living in Pakistan’s Indus Plain are at risk of being affected by high levels of arsenic in the region’s groundwater supply. The revelation was so startling that international media outlets, including the CNN and BBC, gave prominent space to the story. The Pakistani media picked the story but sadly, the coverage did not do justice to the seriousness of the findings. Similarly, another recent report suggesting around 173 people died in Pakistan in monsoon-related incidents was dumped, and one can’t even recall if any news channel bothered to have a serious discussion on it.
Those stories were not discussed or debated in primetime talk shows or bulletins. The reason is that our media, especially the 24/7 news channels, now rely on ‘readymade’ stuff. For example, it is easier to do a show on a statement given by the army chief or the prime minister or an issue that may invoke more fiery debates than subjects such as water or deaths related to monsoon incidents, because far more research and homework is required to cover nonconventional topics. Our media has developed the bad habit of following issues that give them good ratings and clicks. This approach means that the media has clearly abdicated its prime responsibility that is to highlight issues of public importance.
The media in developed democracies has long moved on from the conventional approach. Even if they do cover political issues, their coverage is not merely confined to statements but gives you an in-depth perspective. The media in the developed countries also ensures balance between political issues and issues of public importance. Rarely would you find their front pages and primetime news bulletins full of political coverage. It can be argued that this is because the political system in the West is stable and less prone to tragedies. However, this can never be an excuse for overlooking the real issues that matter to the masses in Pakistan.
But all is not lost. Introspection always helps in course correction. In these fast changing times, our media industry needs to challenge the conventional wisdom. Instead of getting indulged in the madness of ratings, our media needs to look at the bigger picture and prepare themselves for the situation when they will not be able to get the ‘readymade’ stuff.

Pakistan - 0.5m girls out of school in FATA

About half a million girls between the ages of five and 14 are out of school in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).
According to a statistical report based on the annual education census (2015-16) carried out by the Fata Secretariat’s Directorate of Education, the total number of children of school going age not enrolled in an educational institution was 821,581, of whom 504,965 were girls.
The report revealed that the number of out-of-school children five to nine years of age was 281,450, including 71,854 boys and 209,596 girls. The number for the 10-14 years age group was 540,148, including 244,779 boys and 295,369 girls.
The total population of children between the ages of five and nine in the region was 881,739, including 458,289 boys and 423,450 girls. Of them 600,289 were enrolled in educational institutions – 467,923 in government schools, 87,837 are in private institutes and 44,529 in seminaries.
3% of girls in FATA educated’
The total population of 10 to 14 years’ old children in the tribal agencies and Frontier Regions was 652,499, comprising 339,489 boys and 313,010 girls.
Only 112,351 of them – 94,710 boys and 17,641 girls – were students, with 73,528 enrolled in government schools, 38,116 in private schools and 708 in seminaries.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Riaz Afridi, a resident of Khyber Agency, said hundreds of schools in the tribal areas were non-functional and thousands lacked basic facilities.
He said the main reasons behind the high ratio of out-of-school children were the lack of facilities and shortage of teachers. “Parents never allow their children to go to a school where there are no basic facilities for them and that is run by a single teacher for over 100 students,” Afridi said.
He said the perception that the tribal people did not allow their children to attend school was wrong. They now were well aware of the importance of education and wanted their children to study if the facilities were available, he said. He called upon the government to provide basic facilities in schools and appoint more male and female teachers in them.
UNDP Project Coordinator Abdul Haseeb told The Express Tribune that the United Nations Development Agency was working in partnership with the government for the rehabilitation of schools in Fata that had been damaged because of militancy.
He said the work carried out in selected schools in Fata and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa through UNDP partners included construction of one or two additional classrooms, repair of existing rooms, electrification, land development, and rehabilitation of boundary walls, toilet blocks, sewerage drains, water supply and flag posts.
He said the organisation had provided 7,560 pairs of benches and desks for children, 567 chairs and 378 tables for teachers and 378 cupboards for 189 schools. The target for the furniture distribution, funded by USAID, was 300 schools, he said.
Schoolbags, notebooks, stationery, teaching kits, charts and black and green boards had been provided to 28,800 students of rehabilitated schools, he said.
The UNDP official said an enrolment campaign for out-of-school children in targetted areas of Fata was launched on August 16 and would continue till September 30. A campaign was also carried out in April.


Punjab government of Shahbaz Sharif that has a nexus with the proscribed AWJ terrorists and also made soft statements and reportedly struck deals with the notorious takfiri terrorists has hatched plots to create hurdles in the way of smooth observance of Moharram mourning (Azadari) congregations and processions.

Under the plot pro-ASWJ Punjab government has formulated a policy under which Shia Muslims are being harassed and implicated in false cases so that they could not enjoy their religious and cultural right of Azadari during Moharram.
Four Shia Muslims who hosted Majlis at their homes were named in false FIR by Gulguhst and Kotwali police stations. They were Mustafa Haider (Gulguhst), Mohammad Ali, Dr Ijaz Hussain and Iftikhar Hussain (Kotwali).
The biases government also implicated innocent Shia notables in false charges putting their name in the list of schedule 4. Entry of many eminent and non-controversial peace-loving qualified Shia scholars have been banned in many districts of Punjab under the pro-takfiris policy of Shahbaz Sharif government.
Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen had announced sit-in outside Civil Secretariat in Lahore but Punjab government officials assured that they would not impede holding of Azadari Majlis and processions. MWM has called-off sit-in protest.


'WhatsApp blasphemy' and the plight of Pakistani Christians

A Christian man in Pakistan was sentenced to death for sharing "blasphemous" material on WhatsApp. DW talks to his brother about the court conviction and the plight of minorities in Pakistan.
On Friday, an anti-terrorism court in eastern Pakistan sentenced Nadeem James, a 35-year-old Christian, to death on blasphemy charges. James, a tailor by profession, was accused by a friend of sharing "blasphemous messages" on WhatsApp's text messaging service.
Blasphemy is a highly sensitive topic in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, where around 97 percent of its 180 million inhabitants are Muslim. Rights advocates have long been demanding a reform of the controversial blasphemy laws, which were introduced by the Islamic military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s.
Activists say the laws have little to do with blasphemy and are often used to settle petty disputes and personal vendettas. Religious groups oppose any change to the blasphemy law and consider it necessary for Pakistan's Islamic identity.
Pakistan's Christians and other religious minorities complain of legal and social discrimination. In the past few years, many Christians and Hindus have been brutally murdered over unproven blasphemy allegations.
One of Pakistan's most high profile blasphemy cases is that of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was found guilty of committing blasphemy while working in the fields in 2009 and was sentenced to death. In 2014, her death sentence was upheld by the Lahore High Court. Amnesty International called the verdict a "grave injustice."
In one case, a young girl between the ages of 10 to 14 years with Down syndrome, was accused in August of 2012 of burning pages upon which verses of the Koran were inscribed. Rimsha Masih was taken into police custody and only released months later, when charges were dropped. The case caused an uproar in her home town and beyond and sparked riots and violence against Christians in the region. In 2013, she and her family relocated to Canada.
In 2014, a Christian couple was beaten to death for allegedly desecrating a copy of the Koran. Their bodies were subsequently burned in a brick kiln.
In an interview with DW, James' brother, Faryaad Masih, rejects blasphemy allegations against his brother and says his family has been living in constant fear since James' arrest in July 2016.
DW: You deny that your brother, Nadeem James, sent blasphemous messages through WhatsApp. Do you have any proof to substantiate your claims?
Faryaad Masih: Police say that my brothers sent blasphemous material through WhatsApp but those messages could easily have been sent by James' Muslim friends through his phone. Actually, the main complainant in the case is the one who forwarded those messages.
Why would James' friends make false allegations against him?
James has three friends who live in the Gujarat area. Their names are Shakeel, Yasir and Akram. Our neighbor's daughter, Nargis, fell in love with James although she knew that he is married with two children. His friends told him he could only marry Nargis if he converted to Islam although the girl had no problem with James' religion. My brother refused to convert to Islam, and that created a rift among friends.
How did the people in the area react after the "blasphemy" news broke?
As soon as the news spread on July 4, last year, a crowd of around 200 people surrounded our houses. James, another brother of mine and I were at work at the time. When we came to know about this, we went into hiding. The mob was ready to set our houses on fire, but police stopped them.
James surrendered after two days but our family had to move to another area for safety. It saddens me that people with whom we had lived for over 17 years became our enemies after the incident.
Are you still afraid?
After James' arrest things became quite normal. But since his death sentence, fear has swept across the Christian community in the area. We rarely venture out of our house and live in constant fear. We know that anything can happen to us.

Who is providing you legal help?
No one is helping us. Our cattle have been stolen. I ran a furniture shop with a Muslim friend who gave me only 40,000 rupees [316 euros] for furniture worth over 250,000 rupees [1,977 euros]. When I demanded more money, he started threatening me. Our neighbors don't talk to us and people in the area are reluctant to interact with us.
Do you plan to appeal James' death sentence?
We are hiring a new lawyer through a non-governmental organization. We will appeal against his conviction and pray for his release. Our previous lawyer did not defend James properly. He did not even ask the court to investigate how the blasphemous message originated.
What kinds of problems do Christians have to face in Pakistan?
James told me about a 14-year-old Christian boy in his jail who has been convicted of blasphemy. How can such a young boy commit such a thing? There is no justice for Christians in Pakistan.
What sort of help are you expecting from Pakistan's civil society over James' issue?
We are poor people. My brothers' wives have also been implicated in a false case of abetment. I am an illiterate person, so is James. He did not complete his primary education. His friends framed him. The authorities should take notice of our situation.

د پاکستان کرکټ ټیم پښتنه لوبغاړې حکومتي پاملرنه غواړي

ISIS Is Growing In Pakistan

Lawrence Sellin

The common thread in the growth of Islamic extremism in Pakistan is its four decade official policy to harness Sunni militancy to suppress ethnic separatism and religious diversity domestically and advance its regional interests, particularly against Hindu India, Shia Iran and the perceived threat posed by Pashtun nationalism in Afghanistan.
Coupled to that is the tendency for Islamic extremist groups to splinter in their search for purer and ever more intolerant forms of Sunni Islam or simply fragment through tribal disputes and internal power struggles.
All of those elements are now operating within an environment where Sunni militancy is no longer completely under Pakistani government control.
The onset and growth of ISIS in Pakistan are natural consequences of those factors and whose presumed leader, Shafiq-ur-Rahman Mengal, is a prototypical example of Islamic extremist evolution.
Shafiq Mengal is the son of former Pakistan state minister for petroleum and Balochistan’s caretaker chief minister, Nasir Mengal. He comes from an influential and educated family, dropped out of the elite boarding school, Aitchison College in Lahore. He later attended a fundamentalist Sunni-Deobandi theological school in Karachi, where he met senior members of the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba and was recruited as a future asset of the Pakistan Inter-Service Intelligence Agency, the ISI.
Around 2008, Shafiq Mengal organized a pro-government tribal militia known as the Baloch Musallah Difa Tanzim, which was considered a pawn of the ISI and an instrument of the Pakistani government to suppress the Balochistan independence movement. Mengals’s group soon degenerated into local vigilantes, accused of acid attacks on women and killing people for political as well as non-political, tribal or personal reasons. That included the alleged torture and murder of up to 169 people, whose mostly unidentified remains were found in a mass grave in Tootak, north of Khuzdar in January 2014.
It is important to note, that Mengal remained closely associated with the Pakistani government even participating as a featured speaker at the National Defence University conference on Balochistan held July 17-18, 2012.
Mengal has provided protection to Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives in Balochistan and was known as a subcontractor of the intensely anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), a Sunni-Deobandi supremacist group and a formal affiliate of al Qaeda. A local Balochistan publication claimed that Mengal spent three months with ISIS in Syria before returning in September of 2016. In the wake of the Pakistani government crackdown on domestic terrorist groups, Mengal took advantage of the power vacuum created in LeJ to become one of the leading lights of the LeJ splinter group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami (LeJ-A), who, together with ISIS, claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and killing of two Chinese nationals in Quetta, Balochistan in May 2017.
Immediately afterwards, in early June 2017, Pakistani security forces attacked an alleged ISIS headquarters in Mastung, Balochistan, said to be under the control of local ISIS commander Ejaz Bangulzai. His brother, Farooq Bangulzai, has been facilitating the ISIS network in Nangarhar, Afghanistan and, like Mengal, had been leading members of LeJ before joining ISIS.
In an August 7, 2017 Reuters’ article, a Pakistani teenager, who was captured moments before carrying out a suicide attack, told of being trained at an ISIS camp in Wahd, Balochistan supervised by Shafiq Mengal. According to Pakistani police, Mengal now controls a network of 500 to 1,000 Jihadis spanning both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Just in the past two weeks, an ISIS cell was found operating out of a flour mill in Peshawar, Pakistan and an ISIS flag was seen flying in Pakistan’s capital city, Islamabad.
Given the trends towards greater Sunni extremism in Pakistan and the transnational nature of ISIS, the Afghan Taliban may only be the tip of the Islamist iceberg in South Asia.


PPP Women Wing KPK announced; Nighat Orakzai new president

Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has approved the following office-bearers for PPP Women Wing Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) with immediate effect.
They include:
Nighat Orakzai
2. Sr. Vice President
Nilofer Babar
3. General Secretary
Shazia Tehmas
4. Information Secretary
Mehar Sultana
Notification in this regard was issued from the Chairman’s Secretariat by his Political Secretary Jameel Soomro today.

Nawaz Sharif cannot deceive people of Pakistan: PPP

Reacting to press conference by the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the former Chairman Senate and Secretary General Pakistan Peoples Party Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari said that Nawaz Sharif cannot hoodwink the people of Pakistan because the people have seen the real face of the king of corruption.
Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari said that there are several cases of corruption in courts against Nawaz Sharif. Nawaz Sharif is the person who loved to victimize political opponents and has done so whenever he came to power. He is the person who persecuted Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and her husband Asif Al Zardari. He was caught on audio tape directing judges to give maximum punishment to Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari, Mr. Bukhari said.
SG PPP said that Nawaz Sharif appointed notorious junior officer Rana Maqbool as IG Sindh who illegally shifted Asif Ali Zardari from prison to CIA Center in Karachi where he was brutally tortured and his tongue was slashed.
Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari further said that Nawaz Sharif divided judiciary and then attacked Supreme Court. He is the person who approached Supreme Court against the then prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilan. Nawaz Sharif is an expert conspirator who started his trait against his own Prime Minister Muhammad Khan Jonejo, Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari concluded.


Pakistan - Assemblies should complete their tenures: PPP

Secretary General Pakistan Peoples Party and former Chairman Senate Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari has said that PPP desires that assemblies should complete their terms. He said Prime Ministers can be changed in governments during a tenure.
Nayyar Hussain Bukhari said that PTI leader Imran Khan lacks political maturity. It is the prerogative of leader of the House to ask for dissolution of assembly and after the 18thamendment, every assembly is soverign entity and the chief ministers have the right to ask for dissolution of their respective assemblies if they feel the necessity for it.
Secretary General PPP said that democracy in the country is because of sacrifices of PPP leadership and workers. PTI and its leadership has no feeling for democracy and it was Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah who brought back PTI members to the parliament. PTI members assembly only received their monthly wages and did nothing for the people of their constituency because Imran Khan kept them busy on container. Imran Khan also miserably failed to serve the people of his constituency, he concluded.