Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Arabic Music Video - لين حايك - كليب عم بكبر | Lynn Hayek - Aam Bekbar

Video Report - Russia vetoes UN resolution to pressure Iran over Yemen

#Yemen facing ‘catastrophic’ conditions: UN

Living conditions in Yemen are "catastrophic" after three years of war, with a growing risk of famine and cholera still raging in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, a senior UN aid official said on Tuesday.
The UN Security Council was meeting to discuss Yemen a day after Russia vetoed a British-drafted resolution that would have pressured Iran over the supply of missiles to Yemen’s Huthi rebels.
"After three years of conflict, conditions in Yemen are catastrophic," John Ging, UN director of aid operations, told the council. "People’s lives have continued unravelling. Conflict has escalated since November driving an estimated 100,000 people from their homes," said Ging.
A record 22.2 million people are in need of food aid, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger. Cholera has infected 1.1 million people since April 2017 in the world’s worst outbreak, and diphtheria has returned to Yemen for the first time since 1982, said Ging.
A Saudi-led coalition supporting Yemen’s government has been fighting the Huthis since 2015 in a war that has killed thousands and left one of poorest countries in the Arab world on its knees.
Delivering a final report to the council, outgoing UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said that in the last two months, there had been renewed large-scale escalation in several areas including the Yemeni-Saudi border.
A report by a UN panel of experts in January found that ballistic missiles fired by the Huthis on Saudi Arabia were made in Iran, but Russia has questioned those findings. "The parties have continued the destructive pattern of zero-sum politics which has led the country to plunge into more poverty and destruction," said the envoy, who is stepping down after nearly three years as peace negotiator.

Saudi Regime’s Limited Reform Cannot Fool Anyone: American Analyst

A senior American political commentator shrugged off recent social reforms in Saudi Arabia and said the monarchy, whose “core ruthless conservatism” has not changed, cannot fool anyone in the Arab world or elsewhere.

“The core ruthless conservatism of the Saudi leadership has not changed,” John Steppling, who is based in Norway, said in an interview with the Tasnim News Agency.
“Schools in Saudi Arabia still teach children to hate other beliefs and hate people of different cultures,” he said, adding, “And no amount of limited reform changes that and I do not think it really fools anyone, certainly not in the Arab world, not in Iran, and not in Russia.”
Steppling is a well-known author, playwright and an original founding member of the Padua Hills Playwrights Festival, a two-time NEA recipient, Rockefeller Fellow in theater, and PEN-West winner for playwriting. He is also a regular political commentator for a number of media outlets around the world.
Following is the full text of the interview:
Tasnim: Recently, the Saudi regime led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has announced dramatic social reforms. The oi-rich kingdom, which has some of the world’s tightest restrictions on women, has long barred women from sports arenas. The kingdom’s General Sports Authority announced in October that stadiums in Jeddah, Dammam, and Riyadh will be set up to accommodate families from early 2018. The announcement is in line with bin Salman’s ambitious reforms shaking up the kingdom, including the historic decision to allow women to drive from June. What is your assessment of the dramatic changes in the Saudi regime’s domestic policy? What objectives is the kingdom pursuing by such social reforms? Do not you think that the increasing protests in the Arab country have led to them?
Steppling: I am not sure the protests were necessarily the main factor here. Remember that Thomas Friedman’s fluff profile of MBS in the NY Times, this was the launch of this new remake of the kingdom and the painting of MBS as some bright forward-looking reformer. Failing to mention the destruction of Yemen, the fights with Qatar, and the growing dependence on US military assistance (the US were in Riyadh from day one of this attack on Yemen). Also the crown prince is just exporting a lot of the hardliners and hardline policies to other places. Algerian papers criticized the export of radically conservative doctrines by the Saudis while showing a new face of limited reforms. But also it should be born in mind that the Saudis were under global scrutiny for their backward medievalist culture, one of acute inequality. That inequality is causing great unrest in the kingdom itself. The truth is the monarchy has been living on borrowed time for a decade or two. The desperate cooperation with the US and Israel speaks to this. All the PR in the world (and even some genuine reform....albeit limited in scope) does not change the basic imprint of Saudi tradition.
Tasnim: Do not you think that one of the objectives behind the reforms is to silence the voices of dissent and the human rights defenders? In your opinion, are these reforms only a show by bin Salman to ingratiate himself with the US as his staunch ally?
StepplingThe relationship with the US is interesting and slightly contradictory. The US loves to sell weapons to anyone and the Saudis know this and they buy a lot. Same with the UK.  But there is a lot of criticism in the US and Europe about the Saudis. I mean nobody likes them. NOBODY. They are a ruthless corrupt monarchy. And that criticism has taken a toll. The coup by MBS has actually destabilized the country further and was mostly a theft of assets and cash. The third factor is that the Saudi economy is not in great shape. These wars cost money. Funding ISIS costs money. There is a lot of PR going on now. The US Congress passed a law that demands accountability for Saudi reform. This is all show of course. But yes while there is some pressure on the monarch to live up to his reputation now, the bigger issue is the global influence. Iranian influence has grown, and Saudi influence has waned. Even with Israeli and US assistance, the kingdom is very shaky now.
Tasnim: The reforms are in apparent contradiction with systematic genocide of Shiites and violations of human rights in the Shiite-populated city of Awamiyah. Saudi military bulldozers have recently almost razed the besieged town to the ground amid the deadly crackdown there, forcing hundreds of its residents to flee their homes. Do not you think that the Wahhabi ideology is behind this genocide?
Steppling: Yes of course. Saudi legitimacy has always come from their claim of being the spiritual home of Wahhabism and the site of Mecca. But for all of this new charm offensive with the young crown prince, the reality is a genocide in Yemen, with the largest cholera outbreak in history, and 2 million starving children....and in general a continuation of cooperation with US imperialism. Look -- they see the handwriting on the wall in the halls of the palace. Iran and China and Russia now form a massive economic force and it is obvious to most everyone the US is in crises, economically and politically.  The core ruthless conservatism of the Saudi leadership has not changed. Schools in Saudi Arabia still teach children to hate other beliefs and hate people of different cultures. And no amount of limited reform changes that and I do not think it really fools anyone, certainly not in the Arab world, not in Iran, and not in Russia. The purge by MBS and his associates has not signaled any end to beheadings or torture. It means nothing to the poor of the kingdom. And there is much tension with Qatar, where a good many Turkish troops are stationed, and certainly, the actions with Saad al-Hariri suggest further conflict that might include Lebanon. It is a time of desperation for many former powers. In a sense the sunset for colonial thinking in the West and the ascension of a new global dynamic power structure. The Saudis are on the wrong side of history one suspects.


Wahhabi Ideology behind Saudi Crimes against Shiites: Russian Analyst

A prominent political analyst based in Russia described Saudi Arabia’s continued crackdown on the Shiite population in the Arab country as being ideologically motivated and said, “the Wahhabi ideology of sectarian supremacism” is behind the Saudi crimes against its own people.
“The Wahhabi ideology of sectarian supremacism is the driving force behind the crimes that Saudi Arabia carries out against its own Shiite population,” Andrew Korybko said in an interview with Tasnim News Agency.
Andrew Korybko is a political analyst, journalist and a regular contributor to several online journals, as well as a member of the expert council for the Institute of Strategic Studies and Predictions at the People’s Friendship University of Russia.
The full text of the interview is as follows: Tasnim: Recently, Saudi Arabia, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has announced dramatic social reforms. The oil-rich kingdom, which has some of the world’s tightest restrictions on women, has long barred women from sports arenas. The kingdom’s General Sports Authority announced in October that stadiums in Jeddah, Dammam, and Riyadh will be set up to accommodate families from early 2018. The announcement is in line with bin Salman’s ambitious reforms shaking up the kingdom, including the historic decision to allow women to drive from next June. What is your assessment of the dramatic changes in the country’s domestic policy? What objectives is the kingdom pursuing by such social reforms? Do not you think that the increasing protests in the Arab country have led to them?
Korybko: Mohammed Bin Salman’s (MBS) social reforms are a step in the right direction and motivated by two interconnected impetuses. The first is that Saudi Arabia, like Iran, is experiencing a massive youth bulge where people under the age of 30 comprise approximately 70% of the population, thereby necessitating that their changing social interests be accommodated in order to retain stability in the Kingdom. Concurrently with this, the country must also urgently transition to a real-sector economy that is not dependent on energy exports, as this is the only way to ensure that the next generation will have reliable employment. Loosening the formerly strict social restrictions on Saudi citizens is intended to please its majority-youthful population and facilitate the eventual incorporation of women into the workforce, something that must occur with time in order for MBS’ ambitious Vision 2030 economic reform agenda to be a success.
While some have voiced suspicion about MBS’ true intentions in doing all of this, the fact remains that he is compelled to initiate substantial changes in an attempt to responsibly guide his country through this socio-economic transition influenced by its growing youth bulge and inevitable depletion of natural resources, thus suggesting that he is truly sincere about this. At the end of the day, it is in his self-interest to see that these policies succeed if he wants to perpetuate his rule, which he evidently does following the “deep state” coup that he carried out recently under an “anti-corruption” pretext. Now that his royal and oligarchic enemies have been neutralized, the next step in his power consolidation plans is to manage Saudi Arabia’s socio-economic structural transformation. Tasnim: Do not you think that one of the objectives behind the reforms is to silence the voices of dissent and the human rights defenders? In your opinion, are these reforms only a show by bin Salman to ingratiate himself with the US as his staunch ally?
Korybko: MBS has shrewdly used his Vision 2030 socio-economic reform agenda to sideline the once-powerful Wahhabi clerics in the Kingdom so as to make the monarchy the most powerful uncontested force in the country, ergo why he sent shockwaves through the region late last year when he condemned Saudi Arabia’s runaway extremism since the 1979 Grand Mosque seizure. The clerics formed the only institutional counterforce to the monarchy, but now they’re “defanged”, and any possible royal and oligarchic “rebels” have been taken care of through MBS’ “anti-corruption” power play late last year.
As for human rights defenders, this category of dissenters has occasionally been weaponized by foreign forces in whatever country it is that they’re operating in, which is just as true at times for Saudi Arabia as for Iran, for instance. That is not to dismiss the serious human rights abuses that Riyadh commits against its own people, especially its Shiite minority, but just that human rights defenders never had any realistic chance of stopping them, which will continue to be the case after MBS’ “deep state” coup. If anything, the Crown Prince will try to gain their superficial support by encouraging them to praise his social reforms in order to distract from his government’s suppression of the Shiite minority.
As for the geopolitical reason behind Vision 2030, MBS is not doing this to curry favor with the US since some of the figures who he arrested (Al-Waleed bin Talal) and sidelined (Wahhabi clerics, human rights defenders) are tools of American foreign policy. Instead, given that Saudi Arabia has made enormous advances in its relations with Russia recently ever since the King’s visit to Moscow and the subsequent sale of S-400 missile systems to it, as well as the over $130 billion of Silk Road investment that China agreed to pump into the country’s economy in the past 12 months alone, it is much more likely that he is trying to preemptively mitigate any possible American-backed threats to his rule while nevertheless retaining balanced relations with his decades-long ally.
Tasnim: The reforms are in apparent contradiction with systematic oppression of Shiites and violations of human rights in the Shiite-populated city of Awamiyah. Saudi military bulldozers have recently almost razed the besieged town to the ground amid the deadly crackdown there, forcing hundreds of its residents to flee their homes. Do not you think that the Wahhabi ideology is behind the crackdown on Shiites?
Korybko: The Wahhabi ideology of sectarian supremacism is the driving force behind the crimes that Saudi Arabia carries out against its own Shiite population, and while MBS has veritably worked to lessen the clerics’ influence in society, no one should get any false hopes that Riyadh will ever change its ways towards its confessional minorities. The Kingdom is paranoid that these people are Iran’s “fifth column” for carrying out an Islamic Republican revolution in the country, but it counterproductively feeds into these fears by repressing them because of this speculative “danger” and resultantly inspiring acts of resistance against Riyadh’s rule.
In the meantime, Vision 2030 is going to affect the oil-rich Eastern Province where most of the Shiites live a lot more than other parts of the country because of the program’s focus on transforming Saudi Arabia’s entire economic structure. It is foreseeable that MBS intends for Chinese investment to redevelop this region and provide future commercial and manufacturing jobs for its people who will eventually be out of work in the oil industry. The area’s location on the southern shores of the Persian Gulf is ideal for connecting to the nearby China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in expanding Saudi-Chinese trading ties, something that has to happen if the country is to successfully weather its inevitable systemic transition and craft an enduring solution to its forthcoming socio-economic crisis.
With this in mind, MBS may be wagering that he can “buy off” Shiite loyalty to his government through jobs and development at the expense of personal respect and dignity throughout continued rights abuses by his government. Truth be told, plans such as this one have indeed succeeded in other parts of the world in the past, but they are not indefinitely sustainable without an improvement in the social living standards of the said minority population, which in the Saudi context necessitates that the authorities stop suppressing the Shiites. If they do not, then MBS might ironically end up sabotaging his signature Vision 2030 strategy by laying the seeds of future revolutionary unrest in his country’s most economically significant region and undermining Saudi Arabia’s impending inclusion in China’s Silk Road.


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#Pakistan - Recognizing The Pakhtun Movement

In the archived socio-politico chronicles of every evolving society there are turning points that re-inscribe identities of vulnerable communities. The organic Pashtun movement, encompassing the Pashtun march and the FATA-KP merger, is one of such monumental instances of transformation of political identity of a marginalized nationality. A grassroots movement, devoid of the routine prescription of party cronyism or institutional politicism, the procession of the Pashtun community amalgamated in mourning and protested the oppression of the Pashtun community in the wake of Naqeeb Ullahs extrajudicial murder.
Pashtuns have borne the brunt of military and police operations in Waziristan, Swat, FATA and Karachi, devastated by a war that pits Afghan and Pakistan’s’ drawn out trope of terrorism. Promised reforms for FATA or its merger in KP have yet to materialise, where the existing colonial structure in the region shackles the indigenous community to bureaucratic elites allied with war lords. The protracted presence of the military and the Zar-e-arab operation has left them bereft of citienship and identity, subjected to raids and curfews where locals suffer encumbered lives, where they are routinely policed, racially profiled and suffer abduction of family members by those who misuse the law to suit dominant power structures.
What makes this particular uprising so palpable is its recognition and resonance through not just Pashtun communities here and across the border but also non-pashtun communities that have been ravaged by ethnic and sectarian discrimination. The movement has contributed to considerable gains for the Pashtun people where parliament finally extended jurisdiction of the superior courts to FATA and the army chief also retracted Watan card, also known as the Waziristan visa, to enter Waziristan. The Pakhtun Long March has also seen some success in recovering missing persons as demanded by the protesters. Empowered by social media many other Pakhtuns have also mobilised in peaceful remonstrations in Swat, Khyber Agency, and Bajaur Agency against mistreatment at checkposts, curfews and raids on locals’ houses, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings.
This period marks a transmutative instance where the state becomes cognizant of racially subversive elements in the political matrix and unequivocally castigates all those involved in racial profiling. According the Pashtun community their fundamental rights and freedom, with an eye to reconfigure the Afghan policy in the region would be the first step to amending the decrepitude in the tribal areas and from further estranging another nationality under the state’s wing.

Forget the world, militias are a threat to Pakistan

By Raza Rumi

What is clear is that our narrative regarding a successful fight against terrorism is not being accepted by the world.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international watchdog, is all set to place Pakistan on its watch list this summer. This development will have serious ramifications for Pakistan’s economy and will add to growing isolation abroad as part of the increasing US pressure on the country.
Last week’s extraordinary moves led by the US are alarming. Pakistan was on the grey list between 2012 and 2015 and while it managed the stress — this time we are dealing with a different US administration. Unlike the Obama-led presidency, the Trump administration will not stop at hard talk. This is a reality that Pakistan has to contend with. But the more worrisome development was how Saudi Arabia and China, our key allies, were persuaded by the US to remain silent at the end of FATF deliberations leaving Turkey as the only country clearly on our side.
Washington has already announced aid cuts to Pakistan for its lack of cooperation in tackling the Haqqani Network in Afghanistan. FATF proceedings have focused on the alleged lack of action by Islamabad concerning individuals and entities designated as ‘terrorists’ by UN Security Council Resolution 1267. In particular, the spotlight is on the Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation that operate in the country. And their leader Hafiz Saeed freely undertakes his political and charitable work, including fundraising.
Before the FATF meeting, Pakistan’s government amended the anti-terror legislation through an Ordinance to include all UN-designated individuals and groups in the national listings of proscribed outfits and persons. Evidently, these actions did not satisfy the FATF.
Overestimation of Chinese and Russian support will be yet more folly. For both these countries view Islamist militias as threats. Ultimately, we have to reconfigure our policy and find a way that avoids economic stress and diplomatic isolation
The intimation that Pakistan will be ‘grey listed’ in June implies that our financial system will be seen as a risk to the international financial system due to its “strategic deficiencies” in thwarting money laundering and terror financing. The government will collaborate with FATF to build an “action plan” to fix the deficiencies and the June session of the taskforce will review that.
The relationship with the US is bedevilled by mutual distrust and endless round of accusations. Pakistan’s strategic gurus have therefore started to look towards China and Russia as new regional partners to contain Indian influence. At the end of the day, the entire security calculus predicates on New Delhi — the perennial rival. Beijing is investing billions, has control of the Gwadar port and intends to build a naval base there as well.
Days before the FATF meeting[s], the military announced Pakistani troops will be deployed to Saudi Arabia to fulfil a long standing demand of the Kingdom. The estimation was that a vital Gulf Cooperation Council vote would be earned in Pakistan’s favour at the FATF. The Parliament has not been taken into confidence. Leaving aside the manner in which this decision was taken, the country cannot afford to get embroiled in the Saudi-Iran conflict in the Middle East. Our poor policy choices in the past have only made the nation more insecure. Another round of sectarian conflict cannot be ruled out. But then this is the problem when security policy and external relations are handled without adequate civilian input and are driven by short-term militaristic goals.
What is clear is that our narrative regarding a successful fight against terrorism is not being accepted by the world. Granted that India has an axe to grind, the US is keen to see the former as a bulwark against an expanding Chinese role in Asia — but we are yet to accept a simple principle of internal security. Direct and indirect support to non-state actors, howsoever useful they may be, is against the basic tenet of statehood. By allowing such groups to operate and build local support, Pakistan’s ruling elites are only damaging the long-term prospects of the country.
The case of JuD is instructive. Rebranded as a charity network, its mainstreaming has been on the cards for some time. Many hold that it is difficult for the state to engage in a crackdown as the network has grassroots support. Therefore, its political mainstreaming was argued as a solution. Retired generals also said that former PM Nawaz Sharif did not agree to this proposal. Later, the group fielded candidates in by-elections and public posters has images of Hafiz Saeed with the country’s founder Jinnah. We also know that JuD is a vital instrument of our Kashmir policy and is not going anywhere.
Similarly, the Haqqani Network — the bone of contention between the US and Pakistan — is also a strategic instrument in our Afghanistan policy. The official view is that the Haqqanis operate across the western border and Islamabad does not host them. But these denials fall flat whenever a Haqqani operative is killed in the country, or a drone strike targets members of this group within Pakistani territory.
That the Haqqanis were once close to the US during the 1980s Afghan jihad is also well-known. But this is no longer en vogue given that the dominant narrative in global public opinion is that Islamabad is supporting groups that attack the soldiers of its ally, that is, the US. The follies of the latter in Kabul have also been recognised by analysts within Washington. Beyond the immediate tit-for-tat lies the larger question for Pakistan’s future. A Talibanised Afghanistan will not act against the Pakistani Taliban and even if it keeps India at bay — is that a cost we are willing to accept for the future? And will support to the Kashmir jihad not send more Indian meddling and more Kulbushan Yadavs our way?
All of these questions merit a serious debate within policy circles. But there is little room for that. The civilian government that reportedly asked the military to act against militias and leaked such discussions back in 2016 was not only painted as a treasonous set-up but its head was also fired within a few months. Any deviation from the official line is an act of treason.
This is why US aid cuts and FATF watch lists are just the tips of a larger iceberg. Overestimation of Chinese and Russian support will be yet another folly. For both these countries view Islamist militias as threats and will always qualify their support. Ultimately, we have to reconfigure our policy and find a way that avoids economic stress and diplomatic isolation.
The Parliament could have played its due role but it seems that Pakistan’s political parties are more concerned about seeking the support of military establishment for the upcoming elections. But nothing should stop the Army chief in reaching out to the civilians — the politicians, civil society and the media — to chart a new course.

Shifting alliances as Pakistan manages relationship with US

  • As Pakistan navigates its troubled relationship with the United States and scrambles to avoid being blacklisted for doing too little, too late to stop terror funding, regional alliances are shifting and analysts ponder whether a cozier relationship with countries like Russia will complicate efforts to move toward peace in neighboring Afghanistan.
    Russia, analysts say, is motivated by fears of a growing presence of Islamic State militants in neighboring Afghanistan and has warmed up to Pakistan as well as to Taliban insurgents battling the upstart Islamic State group affiliate known as Khorasan Province, the ancient name of an area that once included parts of Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asia.
    In the latest move to strengthen ties, Russia last week named an honorary consul to Pakistan's Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Province, which borders Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan, where IS has established its headquarters. The IS is also present in northern Afghanistan's border regions with Central Asia, causing further consternation in Moscow.
    Russia's honorary consul, Mohammad Arsallah Khan, who belongs to a powerful business family in Pakistan's northwest, said economic development is the best weapon against extremism. To that end he said he will promote increased commerce with Pakistan's neighbors, including Russia, which currently accounts for barely $500 million in trade.
    "I think this whole region is a bit of a mess, which I realize is one of the great understatements. Extremists have been taken lightly before and we are where we are because of that," said Khan in an interview in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. Reflecting on his business-based strategy, Khan said, "when you can give people a way of earning a living, they will turn away from terrorism, away from extremism."
    The appointment reflects a stark turnaround in Pakistan's historical relationship with Russia.
    In the 1980s, Pakistan and the U.S. were united against Russia as the Soviet Union sent 150,000 soldiers into Afghanistan to prop up its communist ally in the Afghan capital, Kabul. At the time, Pakistan, with U.S. backing, used Peshawar as a staging arena to arm and deploy Islamic insurgents, referred to as mujahedeen — or as President Ronald Reagan often called them, "freedom fighters" — to wage war on Russia. After 10 years, Russia failed to win the war and on Feb. 15, 1989, left Afghanistan in a negotiated exit.
    For some, Russia's cozying up to Pakistan is a bit of a "poke in the eye" to the U.S., still embroiled in the Afghan conflict that is now in its 17th year and is Washington's longest war, costing more than $122 billion, according to its own special Inspector General on Afghan Reconstruction.
    Still, Petr Topychkanov, a senior researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, said Russia worries about the U.S. presence in Afghanistan.
    "Russia is concerned about the long-term presence of the U.S. and its allies in Afghanistan, and therefore it's in Russia's long-term interests to have an inside view of the situation in Afghanistan," he said, saying that Pakistan provides the viewing platform.
    Daniel Markey, senior research professor in international relations at Johns Hopkins University, said Russian relations with Pakistan aim to solve two problems for Moscow. First, to blunt the threat of IS from Afghanistan. Second, to undermine U.S. influence, he said.
    "The point is that Russia and Pakistan probably have more in common with respect to the war in Afghanistan than the United States has with either —— and this is a real turnaround from prior history."
    Last week Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused Washington of failing to go after the Islamic State group in Afghanistan.
    In response, Washington's senior diplomat for South Asia, Alice Wells, accused Russia of ignoring anti-IS offensives launched by U.S. and Afghan forces in eastern Afghanistan, while at the same time pursuing them in new havens, particularly in northern Afghanistan.
    Wells suggested Russia "should unequivocally support the Afghan government," if it wants to end the conflict in Afghanistan, a thinly veiled reference to allegations of Russian support for the Taliban.
    The linchpin in Washington's Afghan strategy is to put pressure on Pakistan to close safe havens used by Taliban fighters, most notably the Haqqani network, blamed for the more brazen and deadly attacks on Kabul.
    To that end Lisa Curtis, senior director for South and Central Asia on the U.S. National Security Council, quietly conducted a series of meetings in the Pakistan capital on Monday, before leaving early Tuesday.
    In the meetings, Curtis pressed Pakistan to put an end to the "Haqqani network and other terrorist groups" she said were operating on its territory, according to a statement issued by the U.S. Embassy.
    Pakistan denies organized camps exist on its territory, though it says insurgents move throughout the country among the Afghan refugee population of 1.5 million. Pakistan also assails Afghanistan for allowing anti-Pakistan militants to have territory from which they plot and carry out attacks against Pakistan.
    According to the U.S. Embassy, Curtis said "the United States seeks to move toward a new relationship with Pakistan" but she made it clear that won't happen until Pakistan moves on the Haqqani network and other militants.
    Despite closer ties with Russia and a heavily invested China, for Pakistan even a bad relationship with the U.S. is better than no relationship at all, said Andrew Wilder, Asia programs vice president at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
    "Pakistan losing the U.S. as a strategic partner due to Pakistan's Afghanistan policy, and ending up having to rely solely on China, is not a foreign policy success story for Pakistan - it's a major foreign policy failure," he said. "Pakistan's relationship with the U.S., even in its current weakened state, is still far more important in economic, diplomatic and security terms for Pakistan than its relationship with Russia."
    Although Pakistan was not mentioned in the final communique that followed last week's Financial Action Task Force on terror funding, a motion by Washington to have Pakistan put on a global watch list prompted the task force to demand that Islamabad prove it is doing enough to curb terror financing by the time they meet again in June. Most analysts said the deadline was an indication that even its deep friendship with China was not enough to counter U.S. pressure.
    Curtis called U.S. concerns about terror financing as well as money laundering in Pakistan "long-standing", and urged Pakistan to address what she termed "ongoing deficiencies."
    Meanwhile, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a press conference on Tuesday that Beijing appreciates Islamabad's efforts to crack down on terror groups and intends to "continue to step up communication, coordination and collaboration with Pakistan in terms of counter-terrorism" co-operation.
    "We have been calling on the international community to objectively and fairly view and evaluate Pakistan's efforts in fighting terrorism, and not keep criticizing the Pakistani side with prejudice," he said.
    Still Michael Kugelman, Asia Program deputy director at the U.S.-based Wilson Center, warned against overstating the support for Pakistan of both China and Russia.
    "We shouldn't overstate how much Beijing and Moscow can compensate for U.S. aid cuts and sanctions," said Kugelman. "China is not a charity and does not provide assistance on demand; it only provides support — including to key allies like Pakistan — when it serves its interests. Additionally, the extent of Russian support for Pakistan to this point is unclear."

    PPP Ladies Wing protests against removal of Shaheed BB’s picture from Benazir Income Support Card.

    Pakistan Peoples Party ladies wing Badin staged protest demonstration in front of Badin press club against removal of shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s picture from Benazir income support programe card.The protest led by PPP ladies wing representitives Tanzila Qambrani,Farhat Perhiar,Amina Mallah,Hajiani and others.They chanted slogans against federal government’s such step.While talking with journalists representitives of ladies wing said it was conspiracy to make poor deprived of financial assistance.They said political rivals were afraid of popularity of PPP and sympathy of poor with party.They said shaheed BB was leader of the world and anti PPP were showing their failure.They demanded that picture of shaheed Benazir Bhutto be displayed on Benazir income support card.They also demanded removal of Marvi Memon,chair person of Benazir income support programe.


    No option except PPP to take Pakistan out of isolation, make it peaceful, prosperous and progressive Pakistan: Bilawal Bhutto

    Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that PPP is the only option available to the people for a peaceful, prosperous and progressive Pakistan and urged the Party lawmakers as well as leaders and workers to stay ready for a vigorous election campaign across the country.

    The PPP Chairman was speaking at a dinner he hosted for Party MPAs from Sindh at Bilawal House Tuesday. PPP Women Wing President Faryal Talpur, Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, President PPP Sindh Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani, Senator Sherry Rehman, Maula Bux Chandio and other senior Party leaders were also present on the occasion besides the Provincial Ministers, MPAs and the Party candidates for the Senate.
    He said that progress done in Sindh needs to be made known to the people of other provinces as no other province has been able in last five years to provide such health facilities, marked improvement in education acknowledged internationally and roads communication at the ground levels.

    Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that masses have no concern with “Mujhe Ku Nikala” narrative as they are facing poverty, unemployment and terrorism. The Taliban apologists gathered under PTI’s Imran Khan too are not an alternate for the masses as they have also been exposed to the masses for diverting education and Auqaf funds to the sponsors of terrorism and delivering nothing in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

    He pointed out that PPP was the only option for those Pakistanis who want peace, prosperity and progress in the country. “Let us take our Party message to every nook and corner of the country that it is only the PPP, which can face and foil the international conspiracies against Pakistan. Only PPP can give a foreign policy, which can take out the country from isolation and restore its prestigious standing in the world capitals,” the PPP Chairman added.

    Bilawal Bhutto Zardari further said that next Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Chief Ministers in all the Provinces will be from and urged the Party leaders to work hard for the upcoming general elections.