Wednesday, March 21, 2018

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Music Video - Alireza Ghaderi - Golpari joon

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Video Report - #PashtunTahafuzMovement - Manzoor Pashteen Latest Pashto Interview with International Media

#Pakistan - Army chief's 'doctrine' for change is a reflection of the establishment's thinking

Zahid Hussain 

MYTHS are often woven around men in power. Now we hear about a ‘Bajwa doctrine’ — a term used by some media circles and, indeed, by the ISPR chief himself in an interview with a TV channel. Going by this so-called doctrine, it would seem that the army chief has a grand vision about everything — from critical political problems to the economy and foreign policy. Should we be surprised? Not really. Didn’t we witness similar wisdom being attributed to previous army chiefs?
But the virtues ascribed to Gen Qamar Bajwa make him appear head and shoulder above his predecessors; a messiah the country has long been waiting for. If media circles are to be believed, the so-called doctrine promises to bring about a revolutionary change in foreign policy, making a clean break from the ‘chauvinistic’ approach of the past 70 years. This is quite amazing.
According to this ‘doctrine’, the general envisions better relations with neighbouring countries and balance in dealing with world powers. Violent extremism is certainly not acceptable but the mainstreaming of tamed jihadists is important under the perceived doctrine.
The truth is that the general was reflecting the thinking of his institution.
While being portrayed as ‘pro democracy’ and a staunch supporter of the rule of law, the general appears unhappy about the way our political system works, lamenting the 18th Amendment in the Constitution that, he believes, has turned the country into a confederation. His greatest concern appears to be economic policy mismanagement that is seen as having brought Pakistan to the brink of bankruptcy. Lavish infrastructural projects such as motorways and metro buses, that bear the stamp of the PML-N government, are perceived as a massive drain on the economy as is the Benazir Income Support Programme.
Indeed, in a recent interaction with a group of journalists, the army chief did articulate all that which is is now being hailed as a grand ‘doctrine’ for change. The truth is that the general was reflecting the thinking of his institution — that must not be projected as his own vision. One may agree with his (or rather the army’s) identification of the problems we face, but the solutions to critical political and economic issues are overly simplistic. Successive military rulers seized power on the pretext of turning things around and fixing problems but they ended up leaving the country in the same mess if not worse. Similarly, while there may be little doubt regarding the expressed intentions, the views enunciated on the political situation, economy and other issues have exposed the widening cleavage between the elected civilian government and the security establishment that has strengthened multiple power centres.
While generals do not seek to take over power, some feel that is the easiest thing to do in a crisis situation. They do not want to give a free hand to elected civilians either. Distrust of politicians remains palpable, though there is no reason to doubt that the general elections will be held. But if recent elections for Senate chairmanship are an indicator, there’s no way Nawaz Sharif and his cohorts will be allowed space in the future political power structure. The long shadow of the military, in a nexus with the judiciary, will hover over the emerging political setup. It is apparent that most of the country’s law-enforcement and investigative agencies are already operating under the watch of the security establishment.
What is most alarming, however, is the military’s adverse view of the 18th Amendment. The landmark legislation that has lent greater autonomy to the provinces was passed unanimously by parliament with all major political parties on board. Indeed, some provinces have experienced capacity problems in the discharge of their responsibilities. But that can be resolved in due process.
More importantly, the amendment has strengthened the federation and removed a perpetual source of friction between the centre and the provinces. The unitary form of government and concentration of power at the centre had created serious anomalies particularly for the smaller provinces. Indeed, there is a need for a unified education system in the country and for streamlining provincial laws. But any attempt to strike down the amendment — that could only be through unconstitutional means — would be disastrous.
True, the economy is in bad shape, and former finance minister Ishaq Dar, now implicated in graft charges, was largely responsible for financial mismanagement. The crisis has been brewing for a while, made worse by the deterioration of foreign exchange reserves. And yet, the situation is not irreversible.
The so-called Bajwa doctrine cannot provide an instant solution to the crisis. The economy is critical to national security but equally important is the continuation of the democratic process, however flawed. Economic progress is also linked to political stability. And military rule, too, does not have any enviable economic record. It is evident that foreign and national security policies have largely remained within the security establishment’s domain. One cannot agree more with Gen Bajwa’s words that there is a need for improving ties with our neighbours. It is also true that a significant breakthrough has been made in ties with Afghanistan. But our foreign policy challenges are enormous. Most stem from our skewed security-centric policy for which the military leadership is largely to be blamed. It is the era of geo-economics, and to have a dynamic foreign policy it is imperative we focus more on widening trade and economic relations with neighbouring countries including India.
Indeed, we have done well to fight militancy and restore the state’s writ in the tribal areas, but there is still no clear strategy to deal with violent religious extremism that presents an existentialist threat.
More must be done to bridge the gap between the civil and military leadership on key foreign policy issues rather than presenting an alternative ‘doctrine’ on wide-ranging domestic and foreign policy issues. Unfortunately, we don’t have a national narrative on anything. The so-called Bajwa doctrine then is more institutional thinking than one man’s views.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari vows to foil attempts by PML-N government to sell PIA and PSM

Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has vowed to foil the attempts by PML-N government to sell national carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and country’s largest industrial mega-corporation complex Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) and asked government to shelve privatization of these state units forthwith.

PPP Chairman was presiding over a meeting of the Party leaders at Bilawal House on Wednesday. Those attended the meeting included PPP Sindh President Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, General Secretary Waqar Mehdi, former Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani, PPP Karachi Division President and Provincial Minister Saeed Ghani and Information Minister Syed Nasir Shah.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that PIA and PSM are owned by the people of Pakistan, who won’t allow to put these national assets under the hammer in a dubious manner through “buy one and get one free” Package.

He further said that it was height of dishonesty that a Prime Minister who is running his private airline in profits and capturing the market and routes of national carrier was adamant to sell out PIA. Likewise, Nawaz Sharif and his family were running his personal steel mills in big profit at home and abroad were deliberately dragging Pakistan Steel Mills to the verge collapse to form their personal steel cartel.

PPP Chairman asked the PPP leaders to raise voice against the so-called privatization of both PIA and PSM at every forum and expressed complete solidarity with employees of these state corporations.

Good friends... - Saudi Arabia has little regard for the rights of Pakistani citizens.

Sarah Belal

PAKISTAN curates its foreign service with great care. Only the brightest are invited to undergo the vigorous training to shape them to represent the country and its interests all around the world. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pakistan has 114 missions across the globe. We also take our presence in the UN seriously — forcefully lobbying to gain a seat at the UN Human Rights Council in 2017. We appeared for three UN reviews last year, each time better prepared than we had been at the one before.
Pakistan must take pride in its diplomatic prowess. It is a hard-earned seat at the table, cultivated over decades and since 9/11 in a less-than-welcoming environment. We’ve had our enemies. To counter them, we have built some friendships over the years.
According to our foreign policy, Saudi Arabia is one such friend. There’s even a treaty of friendship to mark it.
And make no mistake, Pakistan has been a good friend. We helped free the Grand Mosque in Makkah in 1979. We stationed military forces in the kingdom during the Iran-Iraq war.
We trained their forces, and in return, Saudi Arabia granted us direct financial aid. We received oil at a reduced price, and sometimes, even for free. We were able to withstand US sanctions following our nuclear tests because Riyadh came to our rescue.

Saudi Arabia has little regard for the rights of Pakistani citizens.
Four years ago, a ‘gift’ of $1.5 billion was made in good faith to the Pakistani leadership. Bilateral trade between the two countries is currently at $2.5bn. Over two million Pakistanis live in the kingdom, remitting a whopping $4.83bn just last year.
But with countries, where there is friendship, there is also self-interest. The cornerstone of diplomacy is the quid pro quo. And as parliamentarian Shireen Mazari pointed out, when it comes to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan can be slow to collect theirs. While Pakistan categorises Saudi Arabia as its top ally, the latter has little regard for the rights and lives of the citizens of the former.
Justice Project Pakistan and Human Rights Watch released Caught in a Web, research documenting the treatment of Pakistani prisoners in the Saudi criminal justice system. Trials marked by rampant due process violations have led to the executions of at least 66 Pakistanis; 2,795 Pakistanis languish in jails, subject to abuse and poor jail conditions.
The highest number of foreign nationals executed in the kingdom have been Pakistanis, who are treated worse than any other nationality. How your citizens are treated is a much better mark of your diplomatic relations than the grand receptions officials receive.
Diplomatic prowess is best measured in situations involving difficult conversations. This is one that our leadership is long overdue to have with its Saudi counterpart.
In October 2015, India’s foreign minister Sushma Swaraj condemned the attack on an Indian domestic worker by her Saudi employer who chopped her arm off. The Indian embassy immediately took note of the incident, and extended her consular and legal help to pursue charges against her employer. Swaraj tweeted that an Indian citizen being subject to this brutality was ‘unacceptable’ and diplomats from the embassy took it up with the highest authorities. Pakistani officials seldom, if ever, visit their citizens in Saudi jails. In 2014, Sri Lanka had Saudi Arabia sign a labour deal that sought to protect the rights of 500,000 of its citizens working in the kingdom after a 24-year-old maid was beheaded. The Sri Lankan embassy also has a 24-hour hotline where distressed workers can call for help. Many detained Pakistanis and their families are not even sure which government agency to reach out to in the same situation.
The Filipino government regularly intervenes on behalf of their overseas workers. A 2011 government inquiry on behalf of the Committee on Overseas Workers’ Affairs found that there is “no doubt” that their diplomatic staff actively monitor developments in death-row cases involving their citizens. “Saudi lawyers are engaged, Saudi authorities are lobbied, efforts are made to negotiate monetary settlements with the kin of the victims, whether these relatives are located in Saudi Arabia or in the Philippines.”
A consular protection policy is the need of the hour. Pakistan must negotiate a prisoner transfer agreement with Saudi Arabia, and tap into its community welfare funds to come to the aid of prisoners on death row by securing them lawyers, and help bring exculpatory evidence to Saudi courts.
Helping prisoners in Saudi Arabia isn’t impossible. And for a country that since 1967 has reportedly trained over 8,200 Saudi armed forces personnel, it should not be a tall ask that its citizens be accorded their right to fair trial, consular access, and legal representation. After all, what good is a friendship that cannot withstand a confrontation?

Asma Ikhlaq - Young Pashto poet pledges to use her talent for women's rights


Asma Ikhlaq says that the taboo that Pakhtun women shouldn't express themselves through poetry should be broken.
As literati around the globe are celebrating World Poetry Day, a young Pashto poet from Malakand named Asma Ikhlas reaffirms her pledge to continue raising her voice for the rights of Pakhtun women.
Poets and writers across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata have planned various events to mark the day. Unfortunately, one of the taboos in traditional Pakhtun society is that women are not encouraged to make use of their inborn talent, not even in front of family members and close relatives.
The young poet says that her maternal uncles and elder bothers will take time to approve of her talent. She says that the taboo that Pakhtun women shouldn't express themselves through poetry should be broken.
The young poet wants to publish her maiden poetry collection having ghazals and poems on variety of topics, particularly women rights, loss of culture and freedom of expression. She is the recipient of the award of best moderator at university and hardly any literary event goes on the campus without her being the most outspoken young bard.
Asma Ikhlas wants to set up a school for girls in her village
“I want to serve my people through my talent. I wish I could play a positive role as social activist in making village girls aware of their due rights. My themes in poetry are varied as my tastes. Zaitoon Bano, Prof Salma Shaheen, Zeba Afridi, Kulsoomzeb and Haseena Gul Tanha are sources of inspiration for me,” says Asma.
She considers poetry a powerful vehicle to express human emotions, feelings and thoughts in a befitting manner. She is an active member of several literary organisations including Malakand Adabi Tolana for Women and Da Khwendy Adabi Lakhkar, Peshawar.
“Poetry will be a good and effective forum for women to share their views. I regret that a few male organisers invite me for moderating literary events but don’t bring their own women to attend such gatherings. Pakhtun women writers played a great role despite resistance and (adversity) in the past for a social change,” she says.
Born with a natural penchant for Pashto poetry, Ms Ikhlas turned to composing couplets in her early childhood but would keep her diary only to herself for fear of her family. The clouds of darkness further engulfed her when after passing 10th grade, she was confined to her home as no girls’ college was located in vicinity of her village Palai.
For two years, she continued versifying the pal of pitch darkness around her and a day came in her life when she dared whisper one of her long poems titled Da Bewasa Paighle Awaaz (The voice of a helpless young virgin) to her mother. She recalls that her mother suggested a phone call to be made to Prof Abaseen Yousafzai for resolving her problem. “It worked and Mr Yousafzai came to our home, talked to my father and helped me save my future from being ruined. I passed my intermediate examination as a private candidate with Pashto as career subject. Now I am doing my BS Pashto from Islamia College University,” she narrates.
Ms Ikhlas was invited to Nishtar Hall to recite her poetry in front of a big crowd way back in 2015. It proved a milestone as she was encouraged to participate in a poetry competition held at Ghani Bagh in Peshawar’s Hayatabad. It earned her a cash award of Rs12,750 and a commendation certificate. Her father, a retired police officer, supported her and she became an instant university celebrity because of her bold expression and captivating style.
Ms Ikhlas claims she is the first girl in her entire village to make it to university. She says that after completing her studies, she will open an institute in her village to educate girls on many social issues including women rights.