Thursday, June 7, 2018

Music Video - MC Hammer - U Can't Touch This

Video - Dramatic aerials trace Kilauea's lava flow as it cuts across Hawaii into the ocean

Video - Stephen Colbert - Trump Is Turning Pardon Power Into Reality TV

Video - Sen. Schumer: We can't just be anti-Trump

Video - Shocking evidence of plastic, chemical pollution in Antarctica released by Greenpeace

Music Video - Billy Joel - We Didn't Start the Fire

Video -#Canada - Question Period: Tariff dispute, Trans-Pacific Partnership, fossil fuel subsidies — June 7, 2018

Video - Canada and France unite ahead of G7 summit

Video - Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron hold a joint news conference ahead of the G7 summit.

Video - Trudeau, Trump and Macron to meet at G7

Video - Bilawal Bhutto makes a visit to #Lyari

#PashtunTahafuzMovement - له منظور پشتين سره ځانګړې ويډيويي مرکه

#Pakistan's Failed Justice System - #KhadijaSiddiqiCase - Justice for 23 stabs


The struggle for justice of stabbing-attack survivor Khadija Siddiqi concerns all women in Pakistan.
On Monday, a high court in Pakistan acquitted a man who had been accused of stabbing a woman 23 times. Despite the presented video footage of the incident, 23-year-old Shah Hussain walked free, to the shock and dismay of his victim, and fellow law student, Khadija Siddiqi.
The young woman was attacked in Lahore in May 2016 while trying to get into a car after picking up her sister from school. Siddiqi has alleged that Hussain had harassed her before the attack.
For two years, she tried to obtain justice but was failed repeatedly by Pakistan's judicial system. Last year, she even had to sit an exam in the same room with Hussein - the son of an influential lawyer - after a lower court granted him post-arrest bail.
After initially getting a seven-year prison sentence for the attack, which was reduced to a five-year one after an appeal, Hussein was acquitted for reasons the court has not yet made clear.
According to Siddiqi, a sessions judge told her that she must provide proof of this murder motive. She also claimed that the judge said that this incident occurred because she must have insulted Hussain in some way or another. Her character was continuously questioned in court and she was pressured to make a compromise which she refused to do. 
This is not the first time a person with authority has justified violence against women in Pakistan. And it's not the first time the judicial system has failed a Pakistani woman either.
Siddiqi's case should be seen in the larger context of Pakistan's systemic failure to protect women and children from violence and punish those who choose to perpetrate it. 

A culture of impunity for men and victim-blaming for women

Pakistan is heavily influenced by its religious zealots and conservative forces. It is not uncommon for people in a position of power to claim to be proponents of morality and religious principles.
Yet the interpretations of Islam or of local traditions they propose, almost always are to the detriment of women's and minority's rights. Thus, harassers, rapists and murderers are often let off the hook, as their victims are blamed for what has happened to them.
They are accused of not covering enough, not being religious enough or of provoking the violence. In the cases of gender-based violence, rarely are these religious, conservative authorities arguing that harassment, rape and murder are all crimes that Islam condemns and proscribes punishment for and therefore, those who commit them should be severely punished.
These perceptions, unfortunately, are widely spread not only within rural conservative communities but also within judicial and law enforcement institutions, which are heavily male-dominated.  
It is therefore hardly surprising that Pakistan is no stranger to blaming a woman for a man's crime and seeking to punish her.
In 2007, Kainat Soomro, who was 13 at the time, was kidnapped and gang-raped. After she spoke out against her rapists, the village elders decided that she should be killed for bringing dishonour to her family. Her parents rejected the decision; her brother was subsequently killed and her sister divorced. She lost the court case against her rapists.
A sense of impunity rules in Pakistan which allows men to violate women without fear of the consequences. As Soomro said: "Men from the powerful families of the village rape any woman they please and then simply kill her or declare her outlawed. Men get away with it because they are powerful. And the woman is always blamed. That's how these influential men behave."
Another rape victim, Mukhtar Mai, went through a similar struggle. In 2011, after an almost decade-long battle for justice, Mai lost an appeal to have all six rapists thrown in jail. Mai was ganged raped in 2002 at the order of a village council for a perceived "slight" by her then 12-year-old brother against a powerful clan in her village. The Supreme Court in Pakistan acquitted five of her six rapists.
Victim blaming of even younger children is also not uncommon in Pakistan. In February this year, seven-year-old Zainab Ansari was raped and murdered . Instead of asking why a man raped and killed the little girl, there were some publicly questioned why she was left alone to walk around.
And even when the Pakistani justice system is presented with indisputable evidence of a violent crime perpetrated by a man against a woman, it is slow to deliver justice. It has been two years since social media star Qandeel Baloch was killed by her brother and even though he proudly confessed that he strangled her in the name of "honour", the case against him is still dragging through court.

The fight for justice continues

The cases of Soomro and Mai we know about because they managed to find in themselves the super-human courage to speak out despite threats to their lives. But there are also many we don't hear and will never know about.
In its 2017 report, The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan revealed that cases of violence against women are largely unreported due to conservatism, illiteracy, fear of stigma, shame and dishonour, and poverty.
It is commonly believed that "decent" women should not report rape or harassment for the sake of upholding their "honour". This is why so many incidents are unreported. All the while, men get away with their crimes.
That in this dangerous environment plagued by shameless misogyny and sexism, resilient Pakistani women still speak up should make us feel proud. Like Soomro and Mai, Siddiqi has vowed to continue her struggle for justice.
She plans to take her fight to the Supreme Court and has already called on the chief justice of Pakistan to look into her case. Her unwavering courage is indeed a beacon of hope for all women in Pakistan.
In the end, it will be women like her, like Soomro and Mai, who with their courage and determination will force the system to change. Siddiqi's struggle is for the sake of all women in Pakistan.

Bilawal Bhutto submits nomination papers for NA-246 Lyari

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto on Thursday announced that he submitted his nomination papers for NA-246 Karachi for the General Elections 2018.
The party chief spoke out via Twitter saying that he is looking forward to get a chance to personally represent and work for the coastal city he was born in.
On May 31, Bilawal had also announced that we would contest from NA-200, the Larkana constituency.
He announced the decision following a meeting of the party’s parliamentary board at Bilawal House, the PPP chairman said Larkana had elected Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto with overwhelming majority in every election they contested.
He said that the election 2018 is a huge test for, what he called, jiyalas and democratic workers. He urged the supporters to gear up their preparation to ensure victory of the candidates across the country.
Earlier the board conducted last round of interviews from candidacy aspirants for eight seats of the national and 17 of the provincial assembly from the division
Interviews from candidates from five divisions of the province were completed on Wednesday. Other members of the board present during the interviews included President PPP Women Wing Faryal Talpur, Senator Sherry Rehman, Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Syed Khursheed Shah, Murad Ali Shah, Naveed Qamar, Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Waqar Mehdi and Shagufta Jumani

In Pre-election Pakistan, a Military Crackdown Is the Real Issue

By Douglas Schorzman
Just a month and a half away from national elections, Pakistan’s powerful military establishment has mounted a fearsome campaign against its critics in the news media, on social networks, and in mainstream political movements.

It is all adding up: journalists abducted or threatened, major news outlets blocked, sympathetic views toward the civilian governing party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, censored or punished.
Interviews with journalists and political analysts in recent days have been dominated by concerns that a military campaign of intimidation and crackdown on dissent is intensifying ahead of the vote — and nearly unanimously, none dared discuss it on the record.
The latest alarm came with the abduction of a newspaper columnist and prominent critic of the military, Gul Bukhari, by armed men late Tuesday in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore. Ms. Bukhari was being driven to appear on a late-night talk show on Waqt News when the car was stopped in a military cantonment in the city. She was hauled off and the driver was beaten, the station said.
Ms. Bukhari has frequently crossed two of the military’s recent red lines on social media — criticizing the army for its pressure on the PML-N, as the governing party is known, and expressing support for a growing Pashtun human rights movement known as P.T.M.
Just a day before, the army’s chief spokesman, Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, called a news conference to declare that social media users who rebuked the military were engaged in “anti-state activities” and were being monitored by the army’s spy agency.
He then posted pictures of some of the country’s most prominent journalists, suggesting they were part of a social media conspiracy against the military, in a move condemned by the Committee to Protect Journalists as “tantamount to putting a giant target on their backs.”
Military officials would not comment on the record about Ms. Bukhari’s abduction or about General Ghafoor’s news conference.
The two events have further chilled the political environment in Pakistan’s already beleaguered democracy.
“There is a palpable climate of fear about what can be said about whom, how, and where — not just on mainstream media but also on social media,” said Adil Najam, the dean of Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University. “This is not healthy for the state of democracy in general, but especially not right before an election.”
Even when journalists do talk about the military, it is usually in code, referring to the “authorities” or the “powers that be” rather than directly naming the security establishment that has so asserted its dominance over civilian institutions.
One of the few Pakistani journalists who has repeatedly and directly condemned the military for its crackdown, Taha Siddiqui, can do so because he has fled the country. He narrowly escaped an abduction attempt in February.
On Wednesday, Mr. Siddiqui said Ms. Bukhari’s abduction was another frightening statement.
“They want to send a message to the rest of Pakistanis and the world that they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, to dissenters,” he said in an email interview.
“This is no longer just about intimidating me, Gul or other such dissenters and military critics. This is about sending a message to everyone: Stop speaking against the Pakistan Army,” he added. In recent weeks, Pakistan’s biggest English-language newspaper, Dawn, was accused of ethical violations by the country’s press regulatory panel and soon after found its circulation blocked in vast portions of southern Pakistan. The paper’s offense was to publish an interview with the ousted former prime minister and leader of PML-N, Nawaz Sharif, in which he criticized the military.
In interviews in Lahore, newspaper sellers and shopkeepers said that military and intelligence officers had instructed them, sometimes politely but other times with force, to stop stocking Dawn.
The actions are similar to those used against Pakistan’s biggest cable news network, Geo TV, which cable providers in military cantonment areas started blocking in March. In the following weeks, more than three-quarters of the network’s cable providers around the country dropped or blocked it.
The pattern there, too, is familiar: Military officers and their supporters criticized Geo as being sympathetic to PML-N, citing its coverage of the judiciary’s ouster of Mr. Sharif on corruption charges last summer. The coverage was attacked for suggesting that the court had been doing the military’s bidding.
The punishing pressure now applied to Dawn and to other news outlets that challenge the military is more insidious than the outright censorship of times past, says Dawn’s editor, Zaffar Abbas.