Wednesday, November 15, 2017

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War between Iran & Saudi Arabia could send oil to $300 per barrel & impoverish the world

An armed conflict between Riyadh and Tehran would have a major impact on oil markets and the global economy. RT asked experts what a war between the two Middle East superpowers would mean for crude prices. If a conflict happens, oil prices could increase 500 percent.
“Energy prices will seriously depend on the severity of the conflict. Let's remember the unrecognized Iraqi Kurdistan, which in a state of continuous war exported about 550,000 barrels per day through Turkey. In this connection, we can expect a panic rise in oil price to $150-$200 on the first day of the conflict… If Saudis and Iran attack each other's oil facilities, crude prices can skyrocket to $300,” Mikhail Mashchenko, an analyst at the eToro social network for investors told .
Ivan Karyakin, an investment analyst at Global FX, points out that the area of possible conflict pumps a third of global oil. Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar together produce about 28 million barrels per day, which is slightly less than 30 percent of global production; prices will go up immediately to $150-180 per barrel, he said.
“Then everything will depend on the duration of the conflict. The world market will survive two or three days of the conflict. If the conflict lasts a week, then prices will rise to $200 or higher, and this will have long-term consequences, as stockpiles will decrease,”Karyakin said.
The analyst insists a war between Riyadh and Tehran is unlikely, as it's not in the interests of Russia and China.“Russia is a partner of many conflicting countries in the Middle East. Largest oil importer China, which carries the greatest risks in the event of a rise in oil prices, will use all its influence on Iran and the US to prevent a conflict,” he said.
A war in the Middle East will be very unprofitable for importers, according to Ivan Kapustiansky, Forex Optimum analyst. “In the event of war, markets may lose about 20 percent of the world supply. First of all, of course, the largest importers will be affected. These include the US, China, Japan, as well as the eurozone, in fact, the main locomotives of the world economy,” he said.
Both Saudi Arabia and Iran understand how crucial oil is to their economies, and will try to maintain production even in the event of a conflict, says Andrey Dyachenko, Head of Private Solutions Department of Сastle Family Office in Russia and the CIS. “Even a temporary drop of market share will mean that other players like the US will take their place. And they will not be able to get their market share back. Therefore, if such a conflict does happen, both Saudi Arabia and Iran will do everything possible to continue producing and supplying as much as possible,” he said.
What will happen to the global economy
A sharp jump in oil prices and other hydrocarbons will threaten the stability of the entire global economy, as it will lead to a surge in inflation, warns Dyachenko. “At the time of relatively low growth rates, a significant jump in inflation will lead to the impoverishment of a large part of the world population,” he added.
Both producers and importers will be forced to slash prices to prevent it, according to Dyachenko.
War is unprofitable for both Saudis & Iran
Relations between Riyadh and Tehran have seen worse times than now, assures Petr Pushkarev, Chief Analyst at TeleTrade. The Iranian revolution of 1978-79 and the death of Iranians during the Hajj pilgrimage in 1987, which led to the severing of diplomatic relations between Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia for three years, were a greater stress test for the countries.
“For the coming years, Saudi Arabia itself is too busy with technological and innovative projects to replace the lost oil revenues. They are not at all ready for full-scale armed conflicts with their neighbors right now, which would be very costly, and very inappropriate at the time when Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is intensely concentrating power around himself. Perhaps the presence of an external enemy like Iran can suit his purpose, but only in the mediated conflict on the territory of Yemen,” Pushkarev said.
According to eToro's Mikhail Mashchenko, the war is unprofitable for both Saudi Arabia and Iran. "The Saudis, although they feel more confident than their eastern neighbors, have a budget deficit of 10 percent of GDP. Tehran has only begun to increase oil exports after a partial lifting of the sanctions,” he told RT.
Most experts agree a conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran will be limited to proxy wars like the ones going on in Yemen and Syria. The situation is comparable to the Cold War proxy wars between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Amid the carnage in Yemen, civilians also face consequences of the US war on terror

Bethan McKernan
Locals say five Yemeni civilians died in a US Navy Seal raid targeting al Qaeda earlier this year, with Washington investigating the claims. The Independent spoke to survivors about the mental and physical suffering they face, and the struggle for justice .
Six months after US Navy Seals raided their village in search of al Qaeda jihadis, neither the mental or physical wounds endured by the Adhal family are healing.
Twelve-year-old Othman Mohammed Saleh al Adhal spoke quietly, focussing on the middle distance rather than his interviewers, as he recounted what happened in tiny Adhlan in Yemen’s Marib province on 23 May.
“I was sleeping outside because it was hot,” he said.
“Then you could hear the planes and helicopters. I was scared so I ran back to the house to find my mum. That’s when an American appeared. I screamed … He shot me twice.”
Othman gestured to his forearms, both of which bear bullet wound scarring. By the time the gun battle died down an hour later and Othman found his mother, she was weeping over the bodies of his two older brothers.
As well as the Adhal siblings, two other young men and one partially-sighted 70-year-old, Nasser Ali Mahdi al Adhal, are said by locals to have been killed in the raid.
Human rights group Reprieve, which conducted the initial investigation, alleges that the elderly man was killed after leaving his house to wave to the US special forces, mistaking them for visitors to the village.
Reprieve and other organisations, using eyewitness accounts, estimate that between 10 to 15 planes and Apache helicopters descended on Adhlan at around 1am that night.
Their target was a house which was sheltering seven men suspected of being members of al Qaeda, a statement from US Central Command said at the time, as well as gathering equipment such as phones and laptops in order to gain “insight into AQAP’s [al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] disposition, capabilities and intentions”.
In the daylight the morning after the raid, however, US-made bullet casings and discarded water bottles with English text on them were the only insight the villagers had into what had happened.
None of the survivors The Independent spoke to said they were aware of any militants in the village at the time, and that the seven men unknown to them who were also killed in the raid must have arrived during the night.
Central Command (Centcom), which coordinates US military operations across the Middle East, and the US Department of Defence, launched an investigation into the events of 23 May in Adhlan after petitions from activists.
The US maintains that to the best of its knowledge no civilians were harmed or killed during the operation. Central Command did not respond to The Independent’s request for an update on the case.
In a previous statement on the raid, a Centcom spokesperson said: “Centcom takes all allegations of civilian casualties seriously. We work diligently and deliberately to be precise in our air strikes. We comply with the law of armed conflict and take all reasonable precautions during the planning and execution of air strikes to reduce the risk of harm to civilians”.
Before the attack the US had been regarded with some respect in the village – aid went towards several school programmes in the area – but now, for many residents, the name conjures fear and pain. Many in the village have trouble sleeping at night. Loud noises bring on post-traumatic stress and anxiety attacks – and the lives of those injured have changed forever.
Othman’s elder brother Murad, 22, has been unable to return to university since the raid. His leg is in such bad shape after the initial injury and lack of appropriate follow-up care doctors say it needs to be amputated – something he refuses on the grounds that better treatment must be available somewhere.
“These families told us that they lost loved ones, they lost valuable property, and they watched people bleed to death before their eyes. They don’t have the funds or ability to access necessary medical care,” said Sarah Knuckey, a Columbia University international law professor who has extensively researched drone strikes and US counterterrorism.
“So now young men and women fear the United States, and students who should be studying are stuck at home, dealing with daily physical pain. How does this help defeat al Qaeda?”
Washington has increasingly relied on drone strikes as well as ground raids in the war on terrorism since Barack Obama entered office in 2009.
Among the military and tribal leaders of Marib, the province the Adhal family is from, opinion is split on how best to deal with terrorists, and how much to rely on the US and Arab coalition’s help in combating the extremism that has flourished in Yemen’s almost three-year-old civil war.
Almost every single source The Independent met in Yemen – political, military, civilian – said improved access to education and economic opportunities in impoverished communities was a better way of implementing real, lasting change.
While he understood the US need to combat al Qaeda, co-ordination could be improved, said powerful local sheik Ali Abdurabbu al Qadhi.
“We could be entrusted to handle it ourselves more,” he said.
Yemen’s war encompasses many overlapping issues and competing interests. The Saudi-led Arab coalition propping up Yemen’s exiled government and bombing Houthi rebels has been accused of being responsible for thousands of deaths – not to mention blockades against the Houthi contributing to a famine affecting 7.3 million people and the worst cholera outbreak in history. Riyadh maintains that it abides to international law and humanitarian norms in its role in the conflict.
It can be hard to criticise the coalition or US’ methods, Marib-based activist Amatela al Hammadi said.
“It is difficult to get the local authorities here to investigate drone strikes or raids or escalate these grievances to Riyadh or Washington. They don’t want to speak badly of the people who provide the funding and planes,” she said.
The survivors of the Adhlan raid said that no one from the US has contacted them or sent representatives to the village in the last six months, despite Central Command’s official investigation.
The perceived lack of care or justice for those caught up in friendly fire is fuelling ill-feeling and having long-term effects on those affected, Ms Knuckey warned.
“The suffering families experience after losing a loved one in a sudden attack is made even worse as the US so rarely acknowledges the harm, and there are few prospects for justice,” she said.
“Where and how should Yemeni families make a complaint about harm caused to them? There’s no clear system in place. The message the US sends when it doesn’t acknowledge or seek to remedy the harms is that impunity reigns and these families aren’t worthy of recognition.
“Their allegations need to be seriously investigated by the United States. The families are ready and willing to meet with US officials.
“We just want people to hear our story, and hear the truth,” said Abdulrahman Saeed al Adhal, an older family member who acts an advocate for his young relatives.
“If the US can be held accountable, maybe it won’t happen to other families in future.”

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نوابي: کندهار ته له پاکستانه د کډوالو شمېر نږدې ۲۵۰۰ کورنيو ته رسېږي


Despite the enforcement of an official ban on the Deobandi takfiri terrorist outfit ASWJ (Sipah-e-Sahaba), their ringleaders are still enjoying protocol and perks under the government patronage at the Centre and also in provinces mainly in Punjab.

Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Yousuf felt no shame when he met Ahmed Ludhianvi, the chief of proscribed ASWJ terrorist group. State organs also facilitated Masroor Jhangvi to become legislator in Punjab and his exclusion from the fourth schedule list of anti terrorism act.
Even high police officers also have bowed to proscribed ASWJ ringleaders many a times.
In the past, then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, then-Minister for Interior Chaudhry Nisar, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah had also been photographed with Ludhianvi.
People of Pakistan are commenting: May National Action Plan rest in peace because under the NAP, government is required to take action against the banned terrorist outfits leaders and instead, government is soft on them and hard on peaceful political opponents and feel no sorry over their victimisation.

Suspected Militants Kill 15 People in Southwestern Pakistan

Authorities said Wednesday they found “bullet-riddled” bodies of the men, with ages ranging from 20 to 32 years, from an isolated mountainous part of the remote Turbat district on the border with Iran.
A senior district administration official, Darmoon Bawani, told VOA security forces have launched a search operation in the area, but no arrests have been made in connection with the killings.
Bawani said the victims appeared to be economic migrants from the country’s most populous province of Punjab who were trying to illegally enter Iran for onward journey to European destinations.
Hours later on Wednesday, unknown gunmen a motorcycle intercepted and opened fire on a vehicle carrying a senior police officer and his family members in the Baluchistan's provincial capital, Quetta.
Police said the attack killed Deputy Superintendent Ilyas Jan and his son, and added the slain officer’s wife, daughter in law and granddaughter received life-threatening injures.
Baluchistan is central to a China-funded mega project of building rail, road, energy and communication networks in Pakistan.
The natural-resource rich province has been for years in the grip of a low-level insurgency led by ethnic Baluch militants. Lately, religious extremists and militants linked to Syria-based Islamic State also have stepped up attacks in Baluchistan.
Islamabad alleges rival India is behind the militant violence to try to scuttle the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor known as CPEC.
The latest attack occurred a day after a top Pakistani army general accused the Indian intelligence agency, RAW, of running a so-called “Baluchistan operational cell" in the province "to devise a radical force” for subversive and terrorist activities.
“RAW has established a new cell with a special allocation of over $500 million in 2015 to scuttle CPEC projects,” claimed the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC), General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, while addressing an international conference Tuesday in Islamabad.
While New Delhi has not yet commented on the Pakistani assertions, it has previously denied allegations of its involvement in Baluchistan or elsewhere in the country.

Pakistan - The capital under siege

FOR the past one week, Islamabad has been virtually under siege with the followers of a radical cleric blocking the expressway connecting the city to the airport. The administration’s move to enclose the Red Zone with containers has added to the chaos.
While the clerics blast the civil and military leadership with their highly inflammable harangue, inciting their supporters to violence, there is no sign of the government moving against them. Seldom has one witnessed such a state of inertia with the security agencies unable to act against even a small group of zealots paralysing the seat of government.
It is a case of a matter being blown out of proportion and used by the extremist clerics to whip up religious sentiments. It is all about an oversight, missing a clause in the Election Act related to the finality of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in an oath that was turned into a religious and political controversy. Although the omission was immediately rectified, it has failed to satisfy some radical clerics.
It is mainly the weakness of the administration and an increasingly divided state authority that has given these zealots complete impunity. The demand that includes the resignation of the law minister is certainly not acceptable. Although the hard-line clerics have failed to draw any significant public support on the issue, some vested political interests have joined in to keep the matter alive.
Why are those who preach hate allowed to participate in electoral politics?
However small the number of those laying siege to the capital, the episode is a manifestation of a more serious problem related to the rise of a new and more radical Barelvi sectarian movement that publicly espouses violence in the name of its narrow view of religion. The siege has coincided with the emergence of a new political outfit, by the name of Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah, or TLY, whose members are spearheading the protest.
Led by a firebrand cleric, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, who is notorious for his vitriolic sermons, the TLY announced its appearance in the electoral politics by putting up candidates in the recently held National Assembly by-elections in Lahore and Peshawar. In both constituencies, TLY candidates received a significant number of votes, eating into the support base of old mainstream religious political parties like the Jamaat-i-Islami.
What is more worrisome is that its entire campaign revolves around the glorification of Mumtaz Qadri, the assassin of Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer. In fact, the group has gained momentum after Qadri’s execution. The group that represents a new Barelvi militancy is now planning to go into the 2018 general elections using the highly sensitive blasphemy issue to mobilise votes. The Islamabad sit-in seems to be a part of its election campaign.
A major question is how these preachers of hate are allowed to participate in electoral politics in violation of the country’s laws. It is likely to stoke the fires of violent sectarian extremism, threatening the democratic political process in the country. Not surprisingly, the Islamabad siege and the arrival of the TLY on the electoral scene have triggered a host of conspiracy theories about its backers.
Many in the ruling party smell a conspiracy to destabilise the government. There is, however, no substance to these wild theories imagining a ‘hidden hand’ behind everything. What is missing in the whole discourse is the stark failure of the state to contain the spread of religious extremism in the country. The National Action Plan has long been dead and buried, providing complete freedom to parties like the TLY to operate and hatemongering clerics to preach violence from the pulpit.
While the security agencies have been quick to take action against some bloggers espousing secular views and branded them ‘traitors’ for questioning the establishment’s policies, no action is being taken against clerics like Rizvi who publicly instigate violence against the civil and military leadership. Their vitriolic speeches are freely posted on social media.
Now the monster is coming back to haunt us. Last year, the same group had occupied Islamabad’s D Chowk for several days threatening to storm key government installations. The stand-off was defused through negotiations and with a promise not to take any action against the clerics. That further emboldened the group.
It is quite intriguing that the march that started from Lahore was allowed to enter Islamabad this time too. Instead of stopping the protesters on the way, the administration is playing ostrich and enclosing part of the city with containers. That has become a common practice of the Islamabad administration while dealing with such protest marches.
It is apparent that the country’s civil and military leadership has never taken counter-extremism policies seriously. That may be either out of political expediency or a fear of backlash or both. It may be true that the situation is not yet completely out of control, but continuing with the current state of inaction could create a very dangerous situation and reverse the gains made in the battle against terrorism.
The siege of Islamabad and the induction of the TLY into electoral politics are ominous developments. Not only will they add fuel to violent sectarian extremism, they will also cause the space for moderate Islamic parties to shrink. The results of the NA-120 and NA-4 by-elections showed a marked rise in electoral support for TLY candidates though at the expense of right-wing parties.
Its participation would cast a huge shadow over the elections, particularly in Punjab that has been the stronghold of sectarian-based politics — not a good omen for democratic politics in the country. The present political uncertainty and the worsening tension between the civil and military leaderships provide a favourable atmosphere for the extremist groups that have recently emerged on the political scene.
It is a tragic commentary on our state policy which gives such leeway to a group that glorifies a murderer and exhorts its supporters to follow his example. The siege of Islamabad gives some insight into the shape of things to come.

Imran behind Tehreek-e-Labbaik’s sit in, Ayesha Gulalai

Estranged Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MNA Ayesha Gulalai on Wednesday claimed that PTI Chief Imran Khan was behind the Tehreek-e-Labbaik’s sit-in at the Faizabad interchange.
While addressing a press conference in Islamabad, she said that Imran urged Tehreek-e-Labbaik to cause unrest in federal capital.
She accused Imran of having close ties with the Taliban.
Commenting on the Dera Ismail Khan incident in which a girl was paraded naked, she said that Imran did not say even a single word to condemn the incident.
She also accused PTT’s Ali Amin Gandapur of patronising the persons who were involved in the incident.
Gulalai went on to say Gandapur considers himself a ‘wadera’ and even area’s deputy commissioner and journalists are scared of him.

PML-N responsible for making census controversial: Bilawal Bhutto

Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Wednesday said that the PML-N has been responsible for making the recently conducted census controversial.
“The census was made controversial by the PML-N due to the manner they conducted the census in,” said the PPP scion.
He added that the census was conducted in a non-transpirational manner and the ruling party has not taken any steps to address the reservations raised by the political parties.
“Our stance is the same as it was before the Council of Common Interests (CCI) meeting. We had asked for the rechecking of one percent blocks in the Senate from the provisional census,” added Bilawal.
“The rechecking has not been done yet.”
The PPP chairman said the reservations of the party were raised in the CCI meeting and till now the PPP is satisfied with the discussion held in the said meeting.
“If they do not do it, we will again raise the issue after the elections.”
He added that the general elections scheduled for 2018 will not be delayed and will be held on time.

Interview - “No one is saying our last term, or any term, was perfect.” Bilawal Bhutto

It’s been 50 years since the Pakistan People’s Party was founded by your grandfather, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. In your opinion, what led to the rise of the PPP and what are the reasons for its decline and present showing in the assemblies?
There were multiple factors that led to the rise of the PPP, the most important of them being our ability to articulate the core challenge of extreme economic injustice. The entire country’s wealth was concentrated in the hands of 22 families. The PPP spoke to this injustice, and brought redistribution and hope for a more egalitarian society. Hope is a very important intangible, and it is important to conquer fear and fragility which becomes the lot of the deprived and the voiceless. We give voice to that hope, but we embed that in credible, transformational politics.
It’s another thing that we don’t spend billions in public money advertising it.
We obviously don’t enjoy the same parliamentary presence today as we did, but the biggest reason for this is that we have had both of our iconic, charismatic leaders assassinated. The loss of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto both left a catastrophic vacuum in the body politic of Pakistan. We may have suffered electorally as a result, but we are just as committed as we were, fighting for a future we believe in.
The PPP was seen as a Centre-Left party when it was founded, but the Left often accuses Z. A. Bhutto of coopting the old Left and then giving in to the Right and appeasing the mullahs. Do you think the Left is right in their critique of Z. A. Bhutto? How do you view its present ethos?
Politics is the art of the possible. We must retain the power to dream, to plough ahead for better futures, but we must not lose sight of achievable goals. While some of our more idealistic friends on the Left may have been disappointed, it is also important to put things in a historical context. When Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto came to power, we had just lost half the country. In the three decades of our existence we had been unable to agree on a constitution. Not only did he save our country to pass a unanimously accepted constitution, he also brought to the table the most radically left-wing agenda this county has ever seen. His policy of land reforms, nationalisation and central planning, for example. So while it is fair for the Left to criticise what some call concessions, they should also give credit where credit is due. He had to govern a traumatised Pakistan after the loss of half the country, and to this day he is remembered for giving the country its first modern rights agenda, its constitution and its pride – its soldiers – back.
To me his ideology and thought was central to remaking Pakistan. He brought politics out of the back rooms of the elite and into the sunshine of modern electoral politics.
My battle to remove the fear from people’s hearts when they ask for entitlements continues, but you must remember, it was he who lit the flame in Pakistan’s heart. The elites may rubbish this agenda, but until it is fulfilled, Pakistan will not be complete.
It is true that in the late ’60s and early ’70s the Left criticised Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, but it is a fact that the Left later realised that it was wrong for it to criticise him. My grandfather stands vindicated as far as the early criticism of the Left is concerned.
The PPP is said to have given a voice to the poor people of Pakistan – the peasants, the labourers, the working class – but over the years, analysts say that your party’s slogan of ‘roti, kapra aur makan’ has been rendered meaningless as it has become another party of the feudals, the elite and the rich. Do you agree?
Right from the start, some feudal elites, as well the rich, were with my grandfather when he delivered on roti, kapra aur makan. They rebelled against their own class and forged a new social contract.
As for the criticism that we have become another party of the feudals, let us not forget that when land reforms were reversed through a court decision my mother refused to get back the land from the haris (peasants), even though a number of landlords took back their lands from them. This is a measure of our commitment.
Each period the PPP has governed the country, it has struggled and succeeded in creating programmes that deliver services to the poor, and protect the vulnerable. From the Lady Health Workers Programme that Benazir Shaheed instituted, which, to this day, remains the backbone of our public health framework, to the family and beneficiaries of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), the country’s first, and only social safety net, the PPP has delivered such programmes. The world now recognises these as the gold standard in their areas of delivery. Our slogan is not just rhetoric. It has changed lives.
Your mother, Benazir Bhutto, changed the composition of the party from the days of her late father. Do you think her policy of changing/sidelining the old guard (uncles, as they were known) was in the party’s best interests?
I do not think it is true to say Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto sidelined her uncles. However, the party was betrayed and abandoned by certain so-called “uncles” in the most testing of times. Almost the entire Central Executive Committee (CEC) ran away, so of course my mother rewarded those who stood steadfast with the party. I think all would agree that is only fair.

Benazir Bhutto said the military establishment never trusted the PPP. Do you agree with her assessment? Do you think her observation still holds true?
I certainly think it is fair to say that we have had a trust deficit in the past. My mother believed that there were certain individuals who conspired against the PPP and democracy. The Asghar Khan case and other examples have proven much of this. However, the statement of the chief conspirator, Hamid Gul, where he not only admitted what he did was wrong, but [acknowledged that] Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was the most patriotic leader, shows that perceptions can be changed.
Pakistan is now at a point where everyone needs to work together in the best interests of the country.
Please look around you and define the big enemies: they are terrorism, extremism, hatred and deprivation. We must not let those fires consume the country. We must fight these battles as part of a long, multi-pronged effort to save Pakistan from this menace that metastasises like a cancer, across borders and mindsets. The battle is not just one where force is applied, it is one that must address the incendiary power of ideas.
An idea must be defeated by an idea, and for that, Pakistan’s leadership must not be distracted or open up too many fronts.
The PPP was always seen as the anti-establishment party in Pakistan. Now, it seems – rightly or wrongly – that this mantle has been taken up by Mian Nawaz Sharif and his party, the PML-N. Is this perception right?
The PPP has always believed, and will always believe, that all power belongs to the people. Nawaz Sharif has always been an opportunist, who is currently playing a very dangerous game. He is deliberately trying to paint his Panama problem in this light. He wants to take the whole system down with him. This must not be allowed.
In an interview back in 2000, Ms Bhutto said: “Either the democratic forces win or the establishment wins. If the establishment wins, the past will be repeated and that is what has happened for 50 years.” People say that the PPP has recently given in to the establishment in a bid to appease the powers-that-be. Isn’t that the truth?
I believe my mother was referring to Musharraf’s dictatorship. Musharraf’s dictatorship was defeated, democracy won – albeit at a very high price. Having said that, democracy is a process that must continue to be strengthened if Pakistan is to progress. There are no shortcuts to the process, and we must invest in it for the long haul, even if progress does not always seem linear or perfect.
There is a time and place for everything, for binaries or not. The reality is that paths to power don’t come littered with velvet and protocol. They come with sacrificing self-interest for the larger good. Has anyone in this PML-N government defined Pakistan’s largest issues? Or crafted a consensus to move forward? Is Pakistan ready for any more upheaval or crisis? I don’t think so.
But we in the PPP are not fragile when it comes to making existential choices. I hope and pray that Pakistan is not taken to that brink by the N League and their selfish choices and chaotic messaging.
Civil-military relations have always been uneasy. Is there a way to break this impasse for all times to come?
Democracy, democracy and more democracy. My grandfather once said, all power must pass to the people or everything will perish. If democracy and parliament are strengthened, we will break this impasse, otherwise we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.
Democrats must also take the lead in addressing Pakistan’s problems and challenges when in office, not leave the wheels of government to just let the country limp along. We must make strategic choices, sometimes hard ones, but we must put in the work and the focus. I believe this government’s record has been disastrous in meeting Pakistan’s challenges in time, or with integrity of purpose. They have also been fairly schizophrenic when dealing with broader issues, refusing to rule responsibly, or with the goal of optimising gains for Pakistan. Recent events have exposed their level of thinking as very short-term, and in shocking self interest. It is hard to position them as models of probity or civilian virtue!
To break the impasse and continue on the path of democracy and “all power to the people” we need rule of law and equality of every individual and every institution before the law.
The PPP stood fifth in the recent by-election in NA-120 and even lost out to two new religio-political parties. Why has the PPP fared so badly in Punjab in the recent elections?
It’s not so much about losing an election. Elections are won and lost. These things work in cycles, I believe. In the heart of what once was progressive Pakistan, the beautiful city of Lahore, for religious fascism to do so well… it should be a worry for all Pakistanis, not just the PPP.
The PPP, a national party, is now being called a regional party with a solid vote bank only in Sindh. Many analysts and PPP supporters blame former President Asif Ali Zardari for the PPP’s downfall. Do you think your father may have made some mistakes after the 2008 elections?
In 1997 the PPP only won 17 seats in the National Assembly. Headlines screamed ‘End of the Bhutto era,’ but we came back with full force in 2002, with the highest numbers of votes.
No one is saying our last term, or any term, was perfect. However, we also achieved a lot from the restoration of democracy.
We were the first civilian government to complete its term, restored the 1973 Constitution, gave Pakistan a new social contract by making the devolution of power real, and provided the first and only social safety net in the form of BISP. Even after the 2013 election, we have won by-elections, in Punjab and KPK, and most recently, right in the heart of Karachi. Those who underestimate the PPP will be disappointed.
How and why did the PPP cede space to Imran Khan’s PTI, especially in Punjab? Has there been any serious introspection within the party ranks regarding this?
I think there are a couple of factors. I believe we sacrificed popular policies between 2008-2013 to make historical structural changes that were part of our commitments to the country. Restoring democracy, passing the 18th amendment and amicably effecting the transition from one civilian government to another were only some of these, for which we paid a political price. A substantial factor was also our very real inability to campaign. A political judge trapped my father in the presidency and the Taliban called out the PPP. We went into elections more worried about effecting a peaceful constitutional transition to power than the hole in our central campaign. It really was a legacy issue for us, and I believe that is how we think, because to me focusing on strengthening the system was more important than our own gains. We saw many electoral discrepancies in the voting results, but accepted the outcome despite our reservations, because honestly, the first civilian elected government needed to make that leap of faith and take the imperfect, fragile democratic system ahead, warts and all.
Politics is a day to day affair, a long play, and I am optimistic we can regain lost ground.
Has the PPP given up on the politics of reconciliation and the Charter of Democracy (COD), by isolating the PML-N post-Panama, or is it because 2018 is the election year and the PPP feels it needs to play the role of the Opposition for its electorate?
I think that the N League abandoned reconciliation and the COD, and is now trying to conflate their personal Panama problems with an existential threat to democracy. They refused point blank to be accountable to parliament despite repeated entreaties. The PPP remains committed to strengthening the system, not individuals.
People say that the PPP’s message does not resonate with the youth any longer. How do you intend to change that?
I do not think that is true at all. The PPP’s message of economic opportunity and social justice should appeal to the youth. It is up to us to communicate and convince people of this. We have a flood of young people joining the party, and our youth wing remains one of the most vibrant and robust cohorts in the country.
They are expected, however, to behave with courtesy and temperance, fulfilling norms of civilised, democratic behavior that we champion. It troubles me to see young people in some parties being encouraged to use hate and aggression in their speech and public behaviour.
You have always been quite vocal when it comes to calling out the Taliban, sectarian terrorists and other religious extremists. Do you sometimes fear for your life?
I do take security precautions. However, I believe one must always stand by one’s principles. Religious fascism is a real and present danger and must be tackled head-on. If I don’t speak out for unprotected, vulnerable people, who will? This is a legacy and value system I am not willing to surrender. If the darkness gathers, the only way to face it is together, and I must lead from the front.
The PPP has always been criticised for ‘bad governance’ – be it at the federal level or in Sindh – despite its excellent record when it comes to legislation. Karachi continues to present the spectacle of a garbage dump. How do you respond to this criticism?
I invite you to come to Karachi so I can show you the changes we have made. Much work has been done on infrastructure, the garbage issue is being addressed, new hospitals like the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) have been opened, law and order across the province has improved, and we are also working to address our governance issues. Obviously there are many, many challenges to overcome, and miles to go before we sleep. But I have confidence in the chief minister, who is working day and night to resolve our issues.
Also, how do you intend to address the critical issue of corruption in the PPP ranks – an allegation that has dogged the party?
I have a zero tolerance policy for corruption. My family and my political workers have sacrificed so much for this system. We cannot allow a few rotten eggs to spoil it for the rest. We must strengthen our accountability process and make it across the board, but unfortunately, everyone just plays politics with this issue, and very few are interested in real change. My father Asif Ali Zardari spent 12 precious years of his life behind bars, on the basis of mere allegations and unproven cases.
The rule of law is so important, that even when it unfairly victimises us, we don’t walk away from it, or trivialise it.
The PPP also suffers from a perception problem. We have faced down some of the most vicious propaganda spun out by our opponents, but in reality no one can accuse either of the PPP’s CMs of corruption, while other party CMs remain controversial.
There was so much propaganda against the PPP for alleged corruption in power projects. Remember our opponents approached the Supreme Court for alleged corruption in the Karkay power project. The present government even rejected the offer of negotiations with the power company. Ultimately, the company went to the international court, which ruled in its favour, forcing Pakistan to pay hundreds of millions in damages.
Will you be contesting the 2018 elections on a federal or provincial seat?
A federal seat.
By when do you see yourself making it to the coveted PM’s chair? What are your views on dynastic politics?
To me the purpose of politics is not power for the sake of power, not at all. Quite the contrary, in fact. My main goal is to put politics back in the public service track, to serve the people with humility and best intention, and to change lives. As far as dynastic politics goes – my mother always said, “I did not choose this life; it chose me.” I think the same applies to me.
It came with its share of trauma and loss for both of us. We may not have chosen it, but both, my mother and myself, embraced it as a responsibility we could not walk away from.
Ms Bhutto’s PPP was quite a departure from that of Z. A. Bhutto. Will your PPP be different from your late mother’s or your father’s? What is your vision for the PPP? Do you want to take it back to its old Centre-Left roots?
I do believe there is a lot of space in Pakistan politics for the Left. So that is certainly the direction I would like to take the party in the long term. Through all the eras, the core values of the PPP remain unchanged. There is a worrying gap among the very rich and very poor, their numbers have grown exponentially over the last few years. We must look to pulling them out of the poverty trap and empower people with opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship.
This is not slogan-talk for me, it’s a very real and pressing reality that sits front and centre of my mind. I honestly believe Pakistan cannot move forward without using the resources of its biggest demographic, nor can we achieve a modicum of peace without empowering the socially unprotected and the economically disadvantaged.So yes, there is a huge, growing space for a politics that speaks to these forces. They are not a blur of people, or a ‘mass’ to us. They are real people with real needs. It is the responsibility of the empowered to take them into a better tomorrow.
As Co-Chairperson, how much weight does your opinion carry in the presence of party stalwarts? It is widely believed that what you say in your jalsas (public meetings) is essentially the voice of senior party leaders.
PPP is a democratic party and we make decisions with consensus and debate. At the end of the day, people say what they need to, and we respect that. Our party culture is well known for not being darbari, or sycophantic, and jiyalas and leaders speak their mind in party meetings, unlike other parties where dissent is seen as treachery.
However, when I craft a speech, I take responsibility for what I say. My speeches are mine and mine alone.
What qualities have you imbibed from your mother, your father and your grandfather that will stand you in good stead in the murky world of Pakistani politics?
This is really for others to decide, but I would like to learn from my father’s patience, from my mother’s commitment and courage, and from my grandfather, an undying love for party workers, all of which should stand me in good stead in politics.
I have no illusion about politics – I know it is about achieving goals, step by step, and I know that sometimes those steps don’t look clear, but I am here for the long run, not short glory gains.
In your honest opinion, how has the PPP evolved in the last 50 years? And how do you view its future?
The PPP has grown with Pakistan, it has kept the federation together, and stood steadfast against authoritarianism and extremism, in the face of deadly odds.
The PPP has also fought every important political battle in this country from the frontlines: we have fought at every step for democracy, for human rights, for the rights of the poor and the dispossessed, for women and religious minorities and also against terrorism and extremism. I know that there are gaps in our delivery, and many times it may have looked like the path forward has not been linear, or free of complications, yet I am confident that the PPP, as it evolves into its third generation, will continue to play a positive and progressive role in fighting for an egalitarian Pakistan.
Don’t forget, we have assets no one else has: clarity of vision, a party core that is both courageous and committed, and a history that compels us to stay the right course for the country.
Don’t also forget that time is on my side.

#Pakistan Bans Mahira Khan's #Verna, Reportedly For Rape Scene. Twitter Outraged

After the review, Mahira Khan's Verna has been given 15 days to file an appeal, after which the board decision will be considered final. 

Mahira Khan's upcoming movie Verna appears to have been banned by the Censor Board in Pakistan for reportedly dealing with rape and violence. Twitter is massively outraged and is showering tweets largely condemning the Pakistan Central Board of Film Certification's move. "Stand-up for Verna," is the general sentiment echoed on Twitter. On Pakistan CBFC Chief Mobashir Hasan's Twitter account, which is unverified, the movie has been announced as banned till the director's appeal is taken into consideration on Tuesday night: "Verna banned by the #CBFC pending further appeal," it reads. Speaking to Images, the CBFC chairman said: "We are looking into the 'unanimous objections' raised by a panel of CBFC on Verna after the preview under the relevant laws."
Following an appeal by Pakistani director Shoaib Mansoor, Verna was reviewed again on Tuesday night, reported Geo.TV. Verna is scheduled for a November 17 release and Shoaib Mansoor's official statement appealed "for the urgent relief of Verna," reported Images.
After the review, Verna makers have been given 15 days to file an appeal, after which the board decision will be considered final, reported Images. "The Board will review the decision if the producer files an appeal against the decision of the panel. If there is no' appeal from the producer then the decision of the panel will be final and implemented," Images quoted Mobashir Hasan as saying.
When they can't bear the truth, they try to destroy it. Banning a movie like Verna is tantamount to destroying the truth. Truth be told as it. 
Verna deals with the story of a young couple, whose lives are disrupted after an unfortunate incident and how female protagonist fights for her rights against violence.
"Maybe it was banned for not having enough item songs, vulgar dialogues, and other cheap titillation. Such a mature content seems to have offended a few," read a tweet while another said: "So #Verna has been banned by the usual idiots on the Islamabad censor board who appear to think topic (rape) should not be talked about." Another angry tweet added: "Banning a movie like Verna is tantamount to destroying the truth. Truth be told as it."