Saturday, December 2, 2017

Video - Debbie and Giovanni Tango to 'I Gotta Feeling' - Strictly Come Dancing 2017

Video Report - #YEMEN: -The Neglected War-

The Listening Post - 'We will respond with brute force': Sisi's narrative on Sinai

Video Report - Femicide in Latin America: Where simply being a woman puts you at risk of murder

Video Report - Fifty years of contraception: Small pill, big change

Ghazal - Jhanjar Phabdi Na - Tahira Syed


Ghazal - Tahira syed - Yeh Aalam Shauq Ka Dekha Na Jaaye - Ahmad Faraz

#50YearsOfPPP - Kitne Maqbool Hain Bhutto....

#Pakistan - #Peshawar attack

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan attack on a hostel at the Agricultural Training Institute in Peshawar on Friday – the day people across the country were observing Eid Milad-un-Nabi – served a deadly reminder of how we are still far from extinguishing the militant threat. At least three militants, disguised in burkas, attacked the hostel with guns and grenades, killing nine people and injuring at least 37 others. The casualty count would have been much higher were in not for the fact that it was a long weekend due to the 12 Rabiul Awal holiday and so many of the students had returned home. The immediate response from the state was to deflect the blame to Afghanistan. ISPR DG Asif Ghafoor said the attackers were in contact with their handlers in Afghanistan during the attack while the police also claimed that the attackers had crossed the border the night before the attack. This may well be true. It is no secret that the TTP, driven out of the country by military operations, has mostly relocated to Afghanistan. The Afghan government has been curiously uninterested in taking any action against the group, which has set up bases in the country. But, much as we criticise Afghanistan, India and the US for accusing of supporting the likes of the Haqqani Network and Afghan Taliban, we should not rush to pin blame. The fact is that both Afghanistan and Pakistan are busy fighting militant groups that threaten their respective countries and so both have not prioritised those groups whose targets are elsewhere.
The government’s focus after such attacks should be on its own inability to protect its people. It is hardly a surprise that the TTP went after an educational institution. From the APS attack in Peshawar to the destruction of girls’ schools in the tribal areas to the attempted assassination of Malala Yousafzai, militants have continued to target students. While it is certainly commendable that law enforcement was quick to respond and was able to take out the militants before they could kill even more people, the question of how the attackers were able to gain such easy access to the hostel. The government also needs to explain what measures it has taken to secure the border. It has constantly promised to build fences and make the border impenetrable. In this it has clearly failed. Perhaps, with Afghanistan we need to try a more diplomatic approach. Trying to work with Afghanistan, where we take on groups like the Haqqani Network in return for help in dealing with the TTP, may be the only way to finally eliminate the threat of militancy from the region.

#Pakistan - A complicit state


A historical overview of the country where religious groups of one hue or the other have played their role in collusion with the state to turn it into the hybrid-theocracy of today.
The recent agreement enforced upon the political government is nothing but a small reminder that Pakistan has turned into a hybrid-theocracy where sharia law is gradually being applied indirectly. What, perhaps, stands between this situation and a complete morphing into a sharia-governed state is the difference of opinion between the right wing leadership from varied sects. Despite being aligned with permanent institutions of the state, the Ahl-Hadith, Deobandi and now Barelvi leadership have competing perception of sharia and its implementation. Thus, no matter how much the liberal voices may echo the plight of Ahmadis or even Shias in the country, the conditions for these groups are not about to change.
Like a child who tries to find an excuse for its misbehaviour or mistake, alternative thinkers tend to hide behind Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s liberal image arguing that a theocratic state was not what he desired. However, the fact is that the modern day hybrid-theocratic country is Jinnah’s Pakistan. It reflects all the confusion, lack of clarity, lack of consensus in defining the ideological parameters of the state created in the name of a religious identity, and manipulation of the confusion by state institutions that Jinnah had.
Over the last seventy years, Pakistan has slowly and gradually been defined as a fortress of Islam and, hence, fundamental to the power of the Muslims everywhere — in a way more significant than even Saudi Arabia.
The Sipah-e Sahaba Pakistan was formed during the early 1980s to fight on multiple fronts. Subsequently, other groups such as the LeJ and JeM were carved out of the SSP.
Nothing much has changed between 1953 and 2017. In 1953, Prime Minister Nazimudin was forced to back down and was sacked by the then Governor-General Ghulam Muhammad. This was in the wake of the 1953 anti-Ahmadi riots. The memoirs of Firoz Khan Noon affirm the relationship between the religious right and the establishment dating back to that time. The Ahmadi issue turned out to be a stick to beat Nazimudin with, who at that juncture had tried to apply the principle of majoritarianism in Pakistan’s politics that would have empowered the then East Pakistan. Later, the 1956 Constitution overturned the principle and brought in the principle of parity. However, it also gently brought in the Islamic formula with Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, the bureaucrat-prime minister (1955-56), playing a prominent role in the exercise. Ali, in any case, was close to Jamaat-e-Islami’s Maulana Maududi and contributed his hand in pushing Pakistan closer to the pre-modern Saudi Arabia.
It was in those early years — between 1949-55 — that the template for the state ideology and a corresponding structure was etched; everything else would later become secondary. The perception of the state bureaucracy, in which civil bureaucrats were at the helm of affairs, was geared towards greater not lesser Islam. Subsequently, all leaders played by the tune. Ayub Khan, despite being a liberal leader could not but deviate from a pre-determined path. Having initially removed the word Islamic from Pakistan’s title, he was forced to bring it back. In re-amending the 1962 Constitution, Ayub slipped even further by giving a formal role to the religious clergy by creating the Council for Islamic Ideology. Though it was created to play an advisory role, this institution proved influential, especially after 2008, in strengthening the power of the religious right.
Interestingly, despite having opposed the idea of Pakistan before independence, the Jamaat-e-Islami acquired a lot of influence in the post-independence Pakistan. This would not necessarily translate into electoral victory, which may not be deemed as the only method for measuring the influence of the right-wing, but its ability to influence core policies remains. Whether it was real appreciation or a political gimmick, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto appreciated Maulana Maududi’s politics. During a National Student Federation (NSF) convention in Karachi during the mid-1950s, Bhutto publicly snubbed his party member, Mairaj Muhammad Khan, for criticising Maududi. He shared this appreciation of Maududi and the JI with the military establishment.
Bhutto certainly had an appreciation for religion feeding into his populism which is a reason why he or his party members did not contest the pressure from the religious right that eventually resulted in the passing of the Second Amendment to the 1973 Constitution. It was this amendment that declared Ahmadis as non-Muslims, thereby turning the state in the direction of a hybrid-theocracy.
However, it was during the Zia reign in the 1980s that JI’s influence really grew. Other religious parties such as the two main factions of the JUI were also strengthened. The Deobandi support was critical in not only fighting the war in Afghanistan but also as a bulwark against the Shia influence in the region influenced by the 1979 Iran revolution. The Sipah-e Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) was formed during the early 1980s to fight on multiple fronts. Subsequently, other groups such as the Lashkare Jhangavi (LeJ) and Jaish-e Muhammad (JeM) were carved out of the SSP for varied purposes. The JeM, in particular, is critical not only in terms of its role in India and Kashmir but also for producing literature that carefully defines who the Muslims must oppose and fight. Thus, the suicide attacks against churches in 2013 and 2015 might not come as a surprise as the literature clearly enunciates the duty of Muslims to oppose all those that ‘de-populate’ mosques.
It was also during the 1980s that the Ahl-Hadith radical and militant groups were formed and given the comfort of a relationship with the state. Samina Yasmeen’s recent book Jihad and Dawah has an excellent account of how the Majlis-e-Dawat-ul-Irshad (MDI) was created in 1984/85 to fight the wars of the state. In fact, the JuD/LeT literature claims partnership with the military while fighting in Kargil. Despite constant juggling with names and roles, the LeT/JuD network has expanded its presence throughout the country as a militant/social/welfare-delivering partner of the state.
General Zia-ul Haq developed a patronage system linked with the conservative trader-merchant class on the one hand and exploited the various sectarian differences, on the other. As part of this strategy, he invested in people like Tahir-ul Qadri. Qadri was brought into the Majlis-e-Shura (1985) to give some direction to the otherwise disorganised Barelvi following in the country. Qadri would resurrect himself in 2014 with support from segments of the state to destabilise the political process which would, logically speaking, support him in implementing the counter-radicalism formula he has parroted around to the world.
At this juncture, Khadim Rizvi and his men who, with their sheer appetite for political blood and lack of sophistication, have proven to be a more important asset for whoever in the state machinery would like to use them have simply outsmarted Qadri. But Rizvi will also prove to be a more critical milestone in the future trajectory of Pakistan. Now, it does not matter anymore if sharia is formally applied or not. Between Khadim Rizvi and Orya Maqbool Jan, the state is theirs to claim.

Pakistan - Someone needs schooling in liberalism

This is not the first time that PTI chief Imran Khan has lashed out on Pakistani liberals, alongside exposing his absolute ignorance about what Pakistani liberals stand for. Ever since he made a conscious decision choosing his way of politics back in late 1990s, the poor guy has found himself on the wrong side of liberals. It is natural then that he would spare no opportunity to spit his deep-rooted loathe and contempt for them.
In his recent comments, Khan got carried away and started bragging about his education in the United Kingdom. He said that he had studied at the country from where ideologies like liberalism have come from. John Locke, he’s right, was a British empiricist known as the father of liberalism. But anyone who is familiar with his works would also know that he is equally important to the social contract theory, which is concerned with the question of legitimate authority of the state and its responsibility towards citizens. The social contact theorists posit that citizens surrender some of their freedoms and submit to the authority of the state (to be exercised through the decision of the majority), in exchange for the protection of their remaining rights. This might be too complicated for our simpleton politician, so put simply: pressing the state to fulfill its obligations is part and parcel of classic liberalism that originated in the country where Mr. Khan spent 20 years.
Apart from these dense academic arguments – since the average contemporary politician in Pakistan doesn’t seem to be capable of absorbing such concepts -some recent memories can be refreshed to show why Pakistani liberals often find themselves on the other end of Imran Khan’s smoking gun.
Political liberals – as opposed to social liberals who’re not much bothered about state’s regressive political and strategic policies – have been greatest critics of Pakistan’s national security paradigm as well as political adventurism of the powers-that-be and constant meddling in politics by the deep state to completely dominate the public policy and societal narratives. Unfortunately, Mr. Khan is always found appeasing the deep state on pretty much every single aspect of their strategic, political and social engineering projects.
In 2009, he took a position against the operation in Swat at a time when Mullah Fazlullah and Sufi Mohammad were playing havoc with people’s lives, closing down girls’ schools, suspending formal judicial system, persecuting religious minorities and attacking law enforcement agencies and the armed forces. Liberals had supported a decisive action against the terrorists so the people and the security forces could be spared of the daily bloodshed.
Then in 2012, Mr. Khan endorsed terrorism in Afghanistan committed by Afghan Taliban calling it holy war against what he called ‘foreign occupation forces’. In September 2013, he urged the government to allow TTP – a proscribed terrorist organisation that had mercilessly killed our jawaans apart from killing thousands of Pakistanis in hundreds of suicide bombing attacks all over the country – to open an office on Pakistan’s soil so the dialogue process could be facilitated. Little did he know that the government and the armed forces had done more than a dozen peace talks with these terrorists starting with the 2004 Shakai Peace Agreement, which had invariably ended up providing more space to the terrorist organisations by buying time to reorganise and train.
On the other hand, Mr. Khan had unequivocally supported the Zarb-e-Azb operation in 2014 that continued without any transparency. A year latter in 2015, he wholeheartedly supported Karachi operation by the Rangers and rather demanded similar operation in Lahore in August 2016. At no point did Khan express any concern about the carpet bombings in Waziristans or in Balochistan, extrajudicial killings, mutilated bodies and illegal detentions by security agencies in Karachi, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Rather, he was quite vocal in supporting a senior police officer in Karachi who is known for extra judicial killings.
Between 2007 to 2013, when the American drone programme – credited with killing several key Taliban and Al-Qaida commanders – was at its peak, Mr. Khan kept criticising these strikes. As opposed to a blanket endorsement of drone strikes – as Mr. Khan wrongly claims – liberals’ position on the programme had stressed the need for greater transparency in target identification, clarity on legality of these strikes, and guarantees for zero collateral damage.
Liberals preferred precision strikes over carpet bombings of villages (that was pretty much the case during the Khan-endorsed Zarb-e-Azb operation). In those days, terrorists residing comfortably in the mountainous region were involved in widespread incidents of bloodletting across the length and breadth of Pakistan. Liberals favoured action against these terrorists but they also sought legal cover, transparency, accountability, and protection of human rights by minimal collateral damage.
This too, proved to be a bit complicated to be understood by our simpleton politician as is evident from his recent statement.
In the recent sit-in in Islamabad, Pakistani liberals wanted the state to fulfill the social contract that it has with law-abiding and peaceful citizens to safeguard their lives, property and rights to movement and peaceful living. All of these were being threatened by the violent mob that beat up policemen, media and passersby, alongside burning down whatever was coming their way. Someone needs schooling in liberal values and state’s responsibility.

Pakistan - Tehreek-e-Labbaik and our State institutions

By General (R) Mirza Aslam Beg
THE three week Dharna by Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TL) at Faizabad, on Islamabad Expressway has ended peacefully, but leaves behind many questions to be answered, particularly the role of the State Institutions – the Government, Judiciary and the Army. Tehreek-e-Insaaf Dharna and the agitation lasted almost four years, but could not achieve its purpose, whereas TL, could achieve its purpose in a matter of three weeks only, which is puzzling and leaves the state institutions blaming each other for having been left in the cold. Honorable Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui and Mr. Nawaz Sharif are wondering “who is behind TL Dharna and who settled terms of accord?” “It is Army which pulled the country out of crisis.” Replies Honorable Justice Qazi Amin Ahmad of Lahore High Court.
Army intervened because it respects the civil order, unlike General Zia, who in 1976, sent ACM Asghar Khan, to the conference room where the government and the opposition had reached consensus. He shouted “forget about this dialogue. I have the commitment from the Army high command that they are ready to take-over, hold elections in 90 days, and we will be in power (myself as the Prime Minister).” Gen Zia took over and hanged Bhutto. The fact of the matter is, that Faizabad episode itself is a landmark happening, likely to create new contours of future socio-political order, shaping into a more harmonious system of governance, providing ultimate security to our National Purpose: Pakistan will be a democracy, based on principles of Quran and Sunnah.
The government made amendments to the Constitution, reflecting on the finality of Prophet-hood, which were rejected by the religious right. Accepting the fault, government corrected the mistake, but TL demanded action against the Law Minister and his team, alleged to have made these amendments. The government showed hesitation, which led to the Dharna by TL, causing shut-down between Islamabad and Rawalpindi. The Islamabad High Court intervened and ordered the government to remove the agitators, using police and the Rangers. Threatened by Contempt of Court, government came into action but failed and called the Army “in aid to civil power”. The Army did not use force, but conducted successful negotiations with the agitators, which caused much concern to Honorable Chief Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of Islamabad High Court. He remarked:
“Prima facie, the role assumed by the top leadership of Army is besides the Constitution and law of land. Armed forces, being part of the Executive of the country, cannot travel beyond its mandate bestowed upon it by the organic law of the country, i.e. Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The Army Chief, instead of following the orders of the Chief Executive, became a mediator. If he is passionate about politics, he should retire and then play politics.”
These remarks are rather strange coming from the Honorable Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, who only a few weeks back gave the landmark judgment on this very issue, and now quite unmindful of the consequence, he was coaxing the Interior Minister and the Army to use force to throw-out the agitators, whereas the government and the Army, favoured a negotiated settlement, on justifiable reasons. The Police and the Rangers have many of their personnel, belonging to Bralevy school of thought of Maulana Khadim Hussain Rizvi, and there was every possibility of disobedience and revolt, if they were asked to use force against the mob. Same is the case with the Army, who have had the sad experience of the year 1976.
In 1976, there was agitation against Bhutto’s government led by the religious right and the opposition. Army was called in aid to civil power at Lahore and decided to use force but faced strong reaction from the mob. Killings caused adverse reaction, and the troops refused to fire at the mob, which turned out to be the turning point for the government, leading to take over by General Ziaul Haq. Similarly Army was now called in aid to civil power in Islamabad and the Honorable Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court, ordered that arms will not be used and instead blows and kicks will be used to throw-out the agitators. This was ridiculous because “it is the “power of the gun which helps the Army to bring the situation under control.” For example since 1958, Army has launched more than a dozen operations in Balochistan, Swat, Dir, Bajaur, Waziristan and FATA, bringing these areas under control, which comes to over 40% of Pakistan territory, but the irony is, that, civil authority – the writ of the government has never been established over these areas, which is mockery of political and social justice.
Surprisingly no honorable court in Pakistan, ever tried to correct this anomaly. Army administers these areas and also indulges in politics. In 1979, when Gen Zia was all set to carry out the orders of the Supreme Court, he directed his formation commanders to find out the likely reaction of troops and the consequences of Bhutto’s hanging. A conference was called. Disagreeing with others, I said, “It would be a political sin to hang Bhutto, because it would cause such political aberrations that will be difficult to correct and create lasting distrust between Punjab and Sindh. The best option would be to send him into exile because very soon we may need him. As regards the reaction of troops, I reminded them of the recent incident in Lahore, when three brigadiers had refused to use force. I can not give any guarantee of troops reaction.” My Corps commander got so angry that he called off the conference and telephoned Gen Zia to remove me from command, which he did after a few months later. I was playing politics and so were the three Services Chiefs playing politics on 17th August 1988, when power was handed over to the people, to whom it belonged.
As regards the TL and other religious parties, a new thinking amongst them is gaining ground of bringing about the much needed change in the existing political order. They are now working for the mainstreaming of the religious parties into the political system. In the past, they worked for others. The 1953 movement facilitated Gen Ayub’s take over. The 1976 movement helped Gen Zia. Now they have decided to help themselves, by joining the mainstream political parties. Maulana Samiul Haq has already joined Tehreek-e-Insaaf. Jamat-e-Islami will soon decide their alliance with PTI or PML(N). Very soon Tehreek-e-Labbaik and other religious parties will also decide to join mainstream political parties, causing a major shift in the existing balance of political power. Imran Khan, now is all praise for TL and the Army, in support of the mainstreaming of the religious right.
The TL Dharna is a positive development against the internal threat of ideological conflict, as warned by the Turkish President on his visit to Pakistan. He also warned about the conspiracy of turning Afghanistan into Daeshtan. Insha Allah, this threat will also be taken-care-of, by the emerging alliance of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. And in dealing with these threats we must be mindful of the fact that the Army doesn’t sit in ivory towers, nor it works on generalities. Army faces the reality with a sense of duty and sacrifice to the national cause, and pays with its blood. Through negotiations Army helped political transformation that would be difficult to achieve, because political Islam is not palatable to some internal and external forces. Great caution and care would be needed to protect the movement. “There is nothing more difficult to carry-out than to initiate a new order.” Machiavelli.
— The writer, a retired 4-star General, is former COAS, Pakistan Army.

#Pakistan #Faizabad - Let’s speak the truth, for a change

By: Ayesha Ijaz Khan

I once asked a UK-based Pakistani doctor who spends every holiday tending to the poverty-stricken in Pakistan’s far flung areas what he thought ails Pakistan most. His response was that nobody tells the truth to our people. I’ve often been reminded of this sentence when dealing with people in Pakistan and also when following the politics back home, but never more so than in the last week.
Those of us who despaired over what happened in Faizabad were distraught not because agreements with what have euphemistically been referred to as “non-state actors” haven’t happened in Pakistan previously. We lost hope precisely because it seems no lessons have been learned from what happened in Swat, for example, only a few years ago.
Many of us lamented then that the policies of appeasement that were adopted with the likes of Sufi Mohammed would not only haunt the people of that area but would be impossible to contain and would spread to the rest of Pakistan in due course.Then the Swat Operation happened, not because we “blood-thirsty liberals,” as Imran Khan falsely describes it, hungered for mayhem but because the state itself realised after repeatedly trying to do deals with various militant groups that they had grander political ambitions and would implement them in the most ruthless and violent of manners. Khooni Chowk wasn’t exactly run by liberals, lest anyone forget.
In contrast, had the liberals been given any heed in Pakistan, the empowerment of the Taliban would have never taken place and the need for the Swat Operation would not have arisen. Had Mullah Fazlulah not been allowed to broadcast his venom on the radio, as many liberals repeatedly said at the time, perhaps there would have been no need to displace so many people in Swat and lose so many military and civilian lives.
No sane, rational and humane person wants to see bloodshed. But when the state allows itself to weaken in the face of resistance from groups who refuse to recognise the institutions of the state, then there is no choice in the matter. The longer action against them is delayed the more deadly that action will become. After the Swat Operation, and a few years later, the horrific tragedy at the Army Public School in Peshawar, many of us thought a page had been turned. But the Faizabad fiasco has taken us back ten years.
Only a fool would think that agreeing to the demands of the TLYR has averted a disaster. What it has done is ensured many more disruptions to the lives of ordinary citizens. What it has done is empowered groups who think they can and should hold the state hostage. If they can demand the resignation of the law minister today, there is nothing to stop them from demanding the resignation of a CEO of a private company or the principal of a school tomorrow.
A Pakistani protester of the Tehreek-i-Labaik Yah Rasool Allah Pakistan (TLYRAP) religious group throws a tear gas shell back towards police during a clash in Islamabad on November 25, 2017.
Some were hoping Zahid Hamid would come out with a few “culprits” so we could have our fall guys, demand a few more resignations and set an early date for elections. Turns out the whole Parliament was responsible. Anybody who has the slightest understanding of how a legislature functions should have known that already but why let facts spoil a good story?
Two days ago, Hamid Mir invited a few members of Parliament in his show, a couple of women with their heads covered and a gentleman with a beard. Surely all made a show about being “aashiq-e-rasool” but none of them spoke the truth or had the courage to say that they were all part of the Parliament that passed the bill in question. Nor were they alone, parliamentarians left, right and centre were busy distancing themselves from the bill, both on television and on social media. Some even went as far as to say they had walked out in protest till videos were circulated of them sitting pretty in their seats when the bill was being debated, raising no objection to the matter in question.
It wasn’t until the following day, when a man of Aitzaz Ahsan’s calibre, one of the few parliamentarians we can trust to speak the truth, corroborated what Zahid Hamid had written in his resignation letter. Mr. Ahsan went further however. He explained that the objection that Zahid Hamid had mentioned the opposition raising was in regards to non-Muslims, i.e., Hindus, Sikhs and Parsis not having to make the affirmation in question.
So what does all this tell us? It reveals that the bill was discussed in Parliament, everyone knew about it and the change wasn’t the earth shattering attack on Khatam-e-Nabuwat that it was later projected to be. Because had it been of course there would have been many more objections and the hoopla would have been in Parliament and not on the Faizabad interchange. But the government could neither find the courage nor the inclination to explain this to ordinary people.
So the real issue isn’t Khatam-e-Nabuwat. It is the incompetence of the government, coupled with a malicious power play. It is Shahbaz trying to backstab Nawaz. Imran trying desperately to discredit both Sharifs so that he is the only option available. The establishment trying to play one off against the other to ensure that no civilian becomes more powerful than them. Even if that means distributing envelopes of money to those who torch vehicles, kidnap police officers and let young kids die in ambulances. For these are “our people” and the rest of the country can go take a hike.

#Pakistan - Political leaders question outcome of anti-terror operations following #Peshawarattack

Leaders of different politico-religious parties have expressed severe concerns over a deadly terrorist attack at Peshawar Agriculture Training Institute (PTI) and raised questions about the tall claims of the high-ups regarding the ongoing military actions against terrorists in tribal areas.
Former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) information minister and Awami National Party Central Secretary General Mian Iftikhar Hussain showed resentment over failure of law enforcement and secret agencies to foil such attempts before their occurrence.
“Unless discriminatory policies regarding military action against terrorists are not given up, no one can get rid of this menace,” Mian Iftikhar remarked recalling that “the government had evolved the National Action Plan (NAP) in December 2014”. He added that unfortunately, no one in the government went for implementation of NAP, which according to him could help in the eradication of terror and militancy as well.
KP Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) President Engineer Humayun Khan also urged the government to revisit its internal and external policies in the light of growing threats of terror.  The PPP leader said that the ongoing terror was a part of the proxy war being waged by a few big powers in the region.
He also urged the government to realise its responsibilities for pulling the country and people out of this game.
KP PPP Women Wing President Nighat Yasmeen Aurakzai questioned how it was possible for the security forces to eradicate terrorism from its roots when the KP government and PTI Chairman Imran Khan were paying millions of rupees to Maulana Samiul Haq.
In a related development, high-level meetings took place for discussing ways for combating the latest trend of violence. KP Inspector General of Police Salahuddin Mehsud chaired a meeting on Saturday which discussed stock of proposals and made several decisions in this regard.
KP Governor Iqbal Zafar Jaghra also chaired the apex committee meeting which was also attended by Peshawar corps commander and KP chief minister.
Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal had also visited Peshawar earlier and enquired about health of injured at the hospital. Both KP governor and the interior minister also chaired a high-level meeting to review the law and order situation in the province and Federally Administrative Tribal Areas (FATA) as well.

#50YearsOfPPP - The people’s party


Pakistan People’s Party has defined the country’s political aspirations for a quarter of a century. This may be an appropriate juncture to review its journey and identify the party’s prospects.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) turned 50 this week. It was on the last day of November 1967 that a small group of ebullient political leaders (mostly unknown) and workers (mostly young) gathered at a dilapidated Gulberg bungalow in the city of Lahore to form a political party. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) was chosen as the leader of the new party. Bhutto had been the foreign minister under Field Marshal Ayub Khan, the very dictator whom the new political party vowed to take down.
Bhutto was steeped in the image of 1960s dream generation. Equally comfortable with the powerful across the globe and the have-nots at home, Bhutto was a sophisticated thinker, an astute political mind, and a passionate speaker with a pronounced egalitarian socio-economic posture.
Those were the days when the midnight children in Asia and Africa were beginning to question the fruits of national liberation won by their parents’ generation. Against the backdrop of the Cold War, an anti-US tilt was in vogue among the young people. Bhutto raised the flag for the people’s power and a democratic dispensation. However, he also added the socialist tint and a dash of religiosity to the populist cauldron of his politics. Democracy, Islam and socialism were to define the PPP for the next several decades.
PPP is not above power politics; in fact the party suffers from what some analysts tag as “power haste”. PPP has not overcome its desire to flirt with the political right and garner some avoidable mistakes on the way.
From 1970 to 2017, ten national elections were held in Pakistan and the PPP emerged as the most popular party in the country a record six times. It was no small success in a country perennially hounded by prolonged military dictatorships, dotted with periods of behind-the-curtain conspiracies, self-made crises and hand-made political puppets. The PPP has defined the country’s political aspirations for a quarter of a century. This may be an appropriate juncture to review its journey and identify the party’s prospects.
Let us first look at what the party has given us. The PPP can be credited with creating the culture of people’s participation in the political process. Politics in Pakistan, back in 1967, were the anointed secret play of the feudal lords, stuffed bureaucrats and baton-carrying Bonapartes. Under the dynamic leadership of ZAB, the PPP rallied the masses, the poor and the working classes around its tricolour. It taught the man in the street and the woman in the house to link their fate to a certain political affiliation, to cast their fate with a leader and to create a bridge of trust with a political plank. The shirtless and the shoeless of the land would rock to the chants of hailing Bhutto to live long and lead the country.
Bhutto with Sheikh Mujib ur Rehman.
Never before or after that fateful day in December 1970, did a tiny piece of paper, the vote, assume such serious significance in the annals of our country. The faceless voters handed Bhutto and his party 81 out of 138 National Assembly seats that were up for grabs in West Pakistan. The 1970 election also foreshadowed the break-up of Pakistan. The events of 1971 had a certain historical determinism rooted in the geographic, economic, cultural and administrative features of the Pakistan that was established in 1947. PPP, being a major political stakeholder, could not dissociate itself from the dismemberment of Pakistan. However, if names must be given to the Dhaka debacle, the names of Yahya Khan and other generals would top the list who had been ruling the country for the previous 13 years.
While it is true that ZAB didn’t protest the actions of the ruling junta, to hold the PPP responsible for the separation of East Pakistan is fallacious. Had the PPP enjoyed the power to do so, it might have saved the life of its own founder and leader, eight years later. In fact, the PPP took up the unenviable challenge of steering what remained of Pakistan.
The drafting, consensus approval, and promulgation of the 1973 Constitution is the single-greatest achievement of the PPP and its leadership. The 1973 Constitution is the rudder that the federation of Pakistan has been plying for the past 44 years. Even two military dictatorships could not must the muscle to abrogate the constitution. However, the persistent manoeuvres to mutilate the parliamentary democratic character of the constitution testify to the unease that the undemocratic ambitions feel with the constitution. Hence, the PPP can draw enduring credit for furnishing the country with the fundamental law of the land.
During its first tenure, the PPP committed several mistakes. The nationalisation of industries and businesses was an ill-considered policy and shook the business classes’ trust in the PPP for ever. Ironically, it strengthened the hold of the dysfunctional bureaucracy instead of the intended well-being of the poor class. The nationalisation initiative earned the tag of bad governance for the party. The PPP has never established its credentials for effective management and sound governance practices. The failure of nationalisation tore down the socialist veneer of the party and critically discredited the left-wing leadership and the cadre.
Benazir Bhutto (R) and President Ghulam Ishaq Khan before her oath taking as first female Prime minister of Pakistan on 2 December 1988.
Looking back, some analysts suggest that ZAB had added the socialist plank to his party’s repertoire only in the hope of winning some easy popularity at home and in the larger international picture. The negative fall-out of nationalisation allowed Bhutto to shun the pretence of socialist ideology and embrace capitalist economy with its ancillary components of religious bigotry and social conservatism in the Cold War context.
The PPP aspired to an enlightened façade without really alienating the deeply conservative populace. The party had included religious lexicon in its founding documents. Further, the separation of East Pakistan under the flag of a secular political leadership also reinforced the impression among the ruling elite that Pakistan post 1971 needed a heavy dose of religious identity. A mere few dozen national assembly members of the religious right virtually dictated the fundamentally flawed constitutional scheme that conflated state with faith.
Bhutto believed that he could camouflage his notions of modern statecraft with seemingly innocuous religious diction. He was wrong. The religious right proved too uncanny to allow any space for an enlightened, non-discriminatory and an equitable polity. The Second Amendment to the constitution, again, perhaps emerged from populist ambitions. The coming years proved beyond doubt that the political Shylocks of Pakistan were in no mood to concede their pound of flesh.
Come 1977, and the PPP was badly bruised through maximalist interpretations of the constitution, law and the political discourse.
Another major mistake by the PPP in its first tenure was to seek nuclear capability without securing democratic posts. The party wanted to fortify its nationalist credentials through an overreaching security narrative. It only allowed its opponents to label the party leadership as a security risk in the coming decades.
Benazir Bhutto, in 1999, waves to her supporters during a rally against the government in Karachi.
1979 marked the saddest and the most redeeming chapter in the history of the PPP. Its founding leader was sent to the gallows on trumped-up charges of murder. There is strong evidence that Bhutto could have saved his life by surrendering his political career but he refused point blank. This triggered a history of resistance against an entrenched establishment by the party.
Under Benazir Bhutto, the party relinquished its quasi-socialist stance and social enlightenment. The party garbed itself in a pretended social democratic cast without any concrete features. The party continued its pro-federation politics even as its leadership was slaughtered with a shattering consistency. The PPP did a great service to the country by blunting the edges of the fissiparous nationalist politics.
Asif Ali Zardari pleaded the federation of Pakistan while literally shouldering Benazir Bhutto’s coffin. No other political party has endured a dual attack from the military establishment as well as the fundamentalist clergy, longer than the PPP. That the PPP was a signatory to the 2006 Charter of Democracy (arguably the second most important document after the constitution of the country) adds lustre to its illustrious inventory, and that the party was able to elicit consensus around 18th Amendment to the constitution proves its political acumen.
Bilawal and Zardari
The Peoples party’s co-chairmen.
The PPP has suffered from some really glaring pitfalls; this is not unusual for a broad-based popular political party over the course of half a century. The PPP is not above power politics; in fact the party suffers from what some analysts tag as “power haste”. The PPP has not overcome its desire to flirt with the political right and garner some avoidable mistakes on the way. The party is also accused of carrying its anti-America posturing too far. Facing the relentless onslaught of anti-democratic forces, it is convenient to place some of the implacable crises at the doorsteps of a conveniently distant global power.
After nearly four decades of political struggle as ‘outsiders’ in the political arena, the PPP has consistently lost both political space and popular imagination. The average PPP workers as of now is safely above 60-years-old, that’s a real challenge in a country with the median age of 22.6 years. The political frontlines in Punjab, the biggest province of the country, have been overtaken by new entrants to the game.
The vital linkage between the PPP and its programme has been badly damaged. However, it is unlikely to vanish from the political map of the country any time soon. In fact, if this party can successfully blend the untarnished energy of its leader, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, with the upright moral stature of his two sisters, Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari and Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, the party has the capability of bouncing back to its legitimate share of political power.
The critical test for the PPP, however, lies in its ability to sustain the spirit of the Charter of Democracy while wrestling with the ghosts of power politics in the country. The PPP supporters are thankful to the party for what it has done in the past and look forward to a democratic future where two or more political contestants try their political skills in a level playing field.

Pakistan ranks fifth on Global Terrorism Index: report

Pakistan ranks fifth out of 163 countries on the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) with a score of 8.4 out of 10, the Australia and US-based Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) said in its report.
Iraq is on top of the list with a GTI score of 10 on 10 followed by Afghanistan, Nigeria and Syria.
Pakistan being ranked fifth is the country’s best result in a decade. Since 2007, Pakistan has ranked as at least fourth on the worst country for terrorism index and was ranked second on six occasions.
The GTI is based on data from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) which is considered to be the most comprehensive global data set on terrorist activity and has now codified over 170,000 terrorist incidents. For the second year in a row, the report shows a global decline in the number of deaths from terrorist attacks. In 2016, 25,673 people were affected which is a 22 per cent improvement from the peak in 2014. “Terrorism has fallen significantly in the epicentres of Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria, which are four of the five countries most affected by terrorism”, stated the report.
However, some disturbing trends were observed. While overall terrorism has fallen it has spread out more than the previous years with more countries being affected. “More countries experienced at least one death from terrorism. This is more than at any time in the past 17 years and reflects an increase from 65 countries in 2015 to 77 in 2016,” claimed the report.
While 79 countries improved, 58 countries deteriorated. Some countries, including Nigeria and Pakistan saw large improvements. The overall index, however, “has deteriorated because the countries that deteriorated did so by a much larger degree than those that improved. ”
The report also highlights how unevenly spread terrorism remains globally. Central America and the Caribbean continues to be the least affected region where only 12 deaths were recorded in 2016 – this accounts for less than 0.4 per cent of all terrorism deaths. On the other hand, 94 per cent of all terrorist deaths in 2016 are located in the Middle-East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, according to the report’s findings.
According to the report, 2016 was the third consecutive year in which Pakistan recorded fewer deaths related to terrorism.
“In 2016, there were 956 deaths from terrorism; the lowest number in a decade. This is a 12 per cent decrease from the previous year and a 59 per cent decline from the peak in 2013”, states the report.
The report attributes the improvements, in part to the Pakistan Army’s Zarb-a-Azb military operation which started in mid-2014 in the northwestern region. Officials claim that over 3,500 militants have been killed since the launch of the offensive with authorities vowing to intensify operations both in the border regions and across the country.
“Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan was responsible for 283 deaths in 2016, which accounted for 30 per cent of total deaths from terrorism that year. However it should be noted that 30 per cent of all deaths are not claimed by any group,” stated the report. Most deaths resulted from suicide bombing, largest of which targeted Christians celebrating Easter Sunday at Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park in Lahore and killed 79 people.
The report quantifies deaths by other militant groups active in Pakistan. The ISIL-affiliated Khorasan Chapter of the Islamic State was responsible for 16 per cent of deaths in Pakistan. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, continued to be active in Pakistan in 2016 and accounted for 11 per cent of deaths. Moreover, at least seven different Baloch separatist groups in the southwest undertook attacks in 2016 which resulted in 61 deaths from 60 separate attacks.
The report also states that Pakistan is suffering an economic impact of terrorism. The economic impact of terrorism is calculated using IEP’s cost of violence methodology and for Pakistan in 2016, it was 2.8 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Christian Colony Under Attack in Chaman Balochistan

In Chaman an area of Balochistan one child killed while two are severely injured after terrorist attack near main gate of Christian Colony.
The two injured children were admitted to the hospital for medical assistance. Doctors were unable to save the life of one child despite immediate rescue operation. The other child is still under medical treatment.
According to sources inside security forces, the terrorists had attacked remote controlled explosives with the gate of Christian Colony.
Chief Minister of Balochistan, Nawaz Sanaullah condemned the blast. He expressed sorrow at the loss of innocent life. He directed the authorities to treat the other child.
He ordered the security forces to apprehend those terrorist elements involved in the terrorist attack. He directed the security agencies to closely monitor law and order situation in Chaman and surrounding areas.
Security high alert was given in the areas surrounding Pakistan Afghanistan border. Further law enforcement contingents are deployed to ensure peace for the area residents.

Is Pakistan on auto-pilot? With the government obsessed with Sharif’s future, the country’s most pressing issues remain unresolved

By Farhan Bokhari

The end of a three-week protest in Islamabad last Monday lifted a practical siege of the Pakistani capital and the prospect of growing paralysis surrounding some of the country’s major cities. The manner in which the protest mounted and eventually ended badly exposed the credibility of a government whose credentials were already in tatters.
To sum up, Pakistan’s emerging prospects remain in disarray as the country remains adrift under the rule of a government whose single-minded obsession is just the future of its controversial leader. Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister and leader of the Pakistan Muslim League — Nawaz (PML-N), who was ousted in July this year, remains defiant of Pakistan’s top judicial institutions as he continues to dispute the Supreme Court verdict that led to his departure.
In the process of defending Sharif, however, the PML-N, which continues to rule Pakistan under Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi who succeeded Sharif, has effectively become a ‘Nawaz bachao tehreek’ or save Nawaz movement.
Tragically for Pakistan, the end result has been that whatever little work of national significance was done by the ruling structure prior to Sharif’s departure, has since been put on hold. Consequently, Pakistan has been placed on an auto-pilot mode with little evidence in sight of a robust effort to resolve the most pressing issues.
The sense of paralysis comes at a time of critical importance in the country’s history. The forthcoming parliamentary elections due next summer will mark yet another milestone in the country’s democratic journey. And yet, that journey has already become stifled with a drift away from the most pressing issues.
On Friday came yet another powerful reminder of the security challenges confronting Pakistan when 12 people were killed in a terrorist attack targeting an agricultural office in Peshawar. The ‘burqa’-clad terrorists stormed the building, disregarding whatever few security arrangements that were in place. The use of the ‘burqa’ by the well-armed and apparently well-trained terrorists suggested the variety of ways in which militants have learnt to penetrate well-fortified locations. The attack once again renewed the need for mobilising the nation to take on terrorists, beyond the work already done by the security services. Clearly, the security challenge for Pakistan will eventually be tackled through a two-dimensional approach. First, the work done by the security services has already begun to make a difference. With the Pakistan army locked in a comprehensive clean-up operation against terrorists, the number of terrorist attacks has already declined compared to just a few years ago.
Second, a more permanent solution to this challenge lies with building a badly-needed national consensus against terrorism. Beyond the ground regained by the army and other branches of the security services, it is essential to mobilise members of communities across the board towards the common cause of ensuring a more secure Pakistan.
Tragically however, little has been done by way of ensuring a societal change. Part of the challenge must relate to the ways in which basic human needs such as education and health care are provided to the mainstream population. This is vital to not only deal with fundamental needs, but also to encourage a popular participation in national issues.
But as the government remains obsessed with the future of Sharif, causes such as revamping of government health-care facilities or revitalising academic institutions have suffered further. These essential segments were already the targets of neglect even when the ruling structure was thought to be performing at its best.
Pakistan’s experience with Sharif as the country’s top leader also badly exposed the way he has remained detached from mainstream issues. Whenever he or a member of his family suffered a medical ailment, their first reaction would be to head to the United Kingdom for treatment. This detachment from Pakistan’s mainstream tragically runs across the board and includes key players of different political parties. With the exception of Imran Khan — the former cricketer-turned-politician who built the Lahore-based Shaukat Khanum memorial cancer hospital dedicated to his late mother — it is hard to find another politician with a similar claim.
Similarly, some of the more promising world-class educational institutions include the Lahore-based Lahore University of Management Sciences, pioneered by Syed Babar Ali, the well-respected businessman, the Karachi-based Aga Khan University, pioneered under the leadership of prince Karim Aga Khan, leader of the world’s Esmaili community, or Karachi’s Habib University, backed by the Karachi-based Habib family with interests in business, finance and industry. Yet, there is little to mention by way of a similar world-class and internationally-recognised initiative evolved under the guidance of a political figure. The absence of such a legacy in higher education clearly highlights the disconnect between vital human needs and the interest of the political class. As Pakistan struggles with its day-to-day challenges, it is clear that the country’s elected leaders have little interest to emerge as visionaries and chart a more promising future.
The recent protests in Islamabad have indeed brought a timely focus on the degree of disquiet across Pakistani society that deserves to be tackled urgently. Left unattended, the disquiet can easily turn into chaos and possibly a prolonged crisis in a country that urgently needs to settle down.

Who Benefits From Pakistan's Sit-Ins?

By Farah Jan

The winners: hardline Islamists. The loser: Pakistan’s democracy.

Since November 8, Pakistan’s capital Islamabad has been in the grip of a group of zealous protesters belonging to the Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah political party. The protests have now resulted in the resignation of the federal minster of law and many deaths. The protesters camped out at an arterial intersection in Islamabad, disrupting local transportation and civilian affairs.
The government’s initial response was indecisive. The authorities placed shipping containers and barb wire to contain the protest, but were reluctant to use force against the protesters themselves. After three weeks of blockades by the protesters, the High Court of Islamabad acted and ordered the government to clear the main transportation route by deploying the police and paramilitary force.
Matters took an ugly turn when nearly 8,000 police and paramilitary personnel failed to clear the protesters, and since then demonstrations have spread to all the major cities in Pakistan. On November 25, the Ministry of Interior requested the army to be deployed in Islamabad to assist the civil authorities in maintaining law and order. By that point, the protesters had already torched private and public property, and educational institutions had been closed in the capital and in the major cities of Pakistan for two days.
The turmoil followed an amendment to the oath of office for candidates of the National and Provincial Assembly, which changed the words “I believe” to “I solemnly swear” in regard to affirming Muhammad as the final prophet, or Khatm-e- Naboowat. The news of the error was fodder for the media. Within days, the government declared it to be a clerical mistake and reverted to the previous version. At the floor of the National Assembly, the Minster for Law Zahid Hamid swiftly declared, “The government cannot even think of deleting this provision. The oath-taking form for the candidate has been made simple but the provision regarding Khatm-e-Naboowat has not been changed at all.”
Who Benefits from the Turmoil?
Pakistani politics has multiple players with differing agendas. The most powerful of them all is Pakistan’s military, followed by the judiciary, the mullahs, and the media. The political parties in Pakistan must walk a fine line and be careful not to step on the wrong toes. A weak position toward India or a debate on blasphemy laws can end a politician’s career (or even life) and torpedo a political party’s prospects for the next elections.
In recent months, the governing party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), has been dealt not one but multiple major blows. These range from the disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on corruption charges to the current blockade of the capital by religious extremists over a clerical mistake. Sharif and his PML-N remained strong despite the Supreme Court’s decision and his disqualification. This was evident from the support displayed at his rallies and the result of the special elections, in which Sharif’s wife was elected by a large majority to his National Assembly seat.
With elections on the horizon, Sharif’s opponents are aiming to weaken him further. To diminish and cripple support for the PML-N, political opponents will use the clerical error of Khatm-e- Naboowat against the governing party. The issue of blasphemy remains highly controversial and evokes passionate responses from all sectors of Pakistani society. Blasphemy accusations and the resulting mob violence have spared neither politicians nor civilians. The blasphemy charge is a black hole, and only time will tell if Sharif’s party recovers from it.
The leader of Tehreek-i-Labaik, Khadim Rizvi, accused the minister for law of committing blasphemy and demanded his resignation. On Sunday, the law minister resigned after his home was attacked and fears were raised that the protests would spread to other cities of Pakistan. The fact that the minister resigned is a further sign of the strength of the zealots and the failure of the government’s writ. This demonstrates the impossibility of a dialogue or debate on Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Any politician that has dared to speak against it or advocated for changing it has faced death, with the killer being celebrated as a hero.
Sharif’s main opponent, the cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, further strengthened the position of the protesters when he called for the Law Minister to step down. Khan also asked for the resignation of the prime minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of the PML-N. Khan aspires to become the next prime minister of Pakistan after next year’s elections, but for that he must walk the tightrope of pleasing two completely opposite groups — the liberal elites of the major cities and the conservative religious elements of rural Pakistan. In Pakistan’s northwest province, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Khan’s party sent signals to hardliners by adding chapters to KP textbooks that glorify men who murder blasphemers. These pro-Islamic steps were greatly praised by the likes of Maulana Sami, also known as the father of the Taliban. Sami has been critical of the PML-N government and contends that “the country had been besieged by enemies and there was a need for a united struggle to face the current situation.”
The army has till now cared about its public perception and advised the government to resolve the crisis peacefully with the agitators. In a top-level meeting with Abbasi, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the chief of army staff, and Lt. Gen. Naveed Mukhtar, the director general of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the participants decided that the army would not be used to launch an operation against the protesters. As Bajwa said, “We can’t use force against our own people,” although previously Pakistan’s security forces have not hesitated to do just that. The army’s current position places it in a comfortable position to control and mediate between all the actors involved, while keeping its public perception intact.
In the early morning of the November 28, it was the army chief who brokered a deal between the government and the protesters. As per the agreement, the law minister would resign, and within 30 days the government would punish those responsible for the blasphemous error. It was a clear victory for the hardliners and a setback to the forces of democracy in Pakistan.
The actors that gained from this turmoil are the religious hardliners. This includes the leader of Tehreek-i-Labaik, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, a foul-mouthed cleric who holds strong opposition toward any changes to Pakistan’s parochial blasphemy laws. Rizvi rose to prominence in recent months when his party’s candidate performed better than expected and finished third in the by-elections, after Sharif and the PTI candidate. Rizvi is known for openly inciting violence and ridiculing state institutions and the judiciary.
The resignation of the law minister is a victory for the hardliners. It confirms the impossibility of changing the blasphemy laws that have targeted minorities and in this instance have been used as a tool to remove a federal minister. This communicates to any politician or political party not to dabble with laws pertaining to religion or blasphemy.
Allowing the protest to continue for three weeks was a mistake on the government’s end, but caving in to the demands of angry clerics will have long-term repercussions. For starters, it has emasculated democracy by weakening the governing party. The army’s hesitation to use force against the agitators illustrates either a crack in its armor, since it suggests that the army feels threatened by the zealots, or that the all-powerful military institution hopes to weaken the PML-N before the next elections. The long-term consequences of such strategies will have lasting impact on the generations to come.