Saturday, June 30, 2018

Arabic Music Video - Haifa Wehbe - Ana Haifa


Rallies and demonstrations were held all over Pakistan on a call from Imamia Students Organization (ISO) in which people from all walks of life participated largely to condemn Saudi Arabia led war against poor people of Yemen.

The participants in these protest gatherings were carrying banners and placards against Saudi Arabia, the US and Zionist regime.
‘Stop killing innocent children in Yemen, ‘Stop Saudi war against Yemen’, ‘Down with US’, ‘Down with Zionist regime’, ‘Down with Al-e-Saud’ were written on the placards.
Protestors demanded international bodies and international community to take effective measures to stop Saudi attacks on Yemen.
Earlier Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi had strongly denounced recent Saudi-Emirati air strikes on civilian targets in various Yemeni cities which killed dozens of innocent Yemenis including children and women.
Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and some of its Arab allies have been carrying out deadly and indiscriminate airstrikes on civilians in an attempt to restore power to fugitive president, Abd-Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh.

Over 14,000 Yemenis, including thousands of women and children, have lost their lives in the deadly Saudi aggression.


Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Transportation Minister Israel Katz have agreed to promote a rail link with Saudi Arabia, Israeli media reports say.
Katz and Netanyahu agreed in a meeting this week on the details of the project which would link Haifa’s seaport to Jordan’s rail network and that of Saudi Arabia and other Arab states, the Times of Israel quoted Hadashot news as saying.
Netanyahu then instructed his office to begin advancing the plan in consultations with the US, European Union, and various countries in the Middle East and Asia, the report said.
The line will also include a stop in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, connecting Palestinians to the network.
According to a new PR video from Netanyahu and Katz’s offices, the project is expected to take a relatively short time due to the existing transportation infrastructure in Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Persian Gulf Arab states.
“Beyond its contribution to Israel’s economy … the initiative will connect Israel economically and politically to the region and will consolidate the pragmatic camp in the region,” Katz explained when discussing the plan back in April.
Dennis Weiss, a political pundit on Israel's channel 2, said the administration of US President Donald Trump supports the project which comes amid reports of warming ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Katz has said that he has spoken with the leaders of the relevant countries regarding the initiative, but there is no indication that any of them have agreed to its application.
In March, Saudi Arabia opened its airspace to Air India flights to and from the Israeli-occupied territories.
Saudi Arabia and Israel have no official diplomatic relations, but their relations have been rapidly growing over the past months, according to reports.
The regime in Riyadh has even drawn up a roadmap to normalize ties with Israel and go public about their long secret cooperation.
Netanyahu recently described Israel's relations with the Arab world as at their “best ever.”
On Friday, Israel's Maariv newspaper reported that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Netanyahu had held secret meetings in Amman.
Jacky Hugi, the political analyst of the newspaper, said, “A close friend told me about the incident, claiming that there were direct contacts between the two parties, both Saudi and Israeli, under the auspices of King Abdullah of Jordan.”


Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have held secret meetings in Amman, Israel's Maariv newspaper reported Friday.
The two leaders met at the Royal Palace in the Jordanian capital on the sidelines of a visit to Amman by White House special adviser Jared Kushner and US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt.
Citing an informed source, the report said bin Salman's meetings with Netanyahu took place both with and without the presence of Jordan’s King Abdullah.
Israel and Saudi Arabia have no diplomatic relations, but they are widely believed to have secret liaisons. Latest reports say the two regimes are working behind the scenes to establish formal relations.
Kushner and Greenblatt are on a regional tour to discuss Washington's so-called peace plan with officials in the occupied territories, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Qatar.
As part of the tour, US President Donald Trump's envoys met with bin Salman on Wednesday.
The two sides discussed "increasing cooperation between the United States and Saudi Arabia, the need to facilitate humanitarian relief to Gaza, and the Trump Administration’s efforts to facilitate peace between the Israelis and Palestinians," a White House statement read.
The meeting came one day after the envoys spoke about similar topics with the Jordanian king in Amman. Separately, Netanyahu met with King Abdullah in Amman on Monday.
Riyadh has been supporting the US initiative purported to resolve the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Saudi crown prince recently sparked controversy by telling the Palestinians that they should either accept peace proposals or "shut up."
“It’s about time that the Palestinians accept the offers, and agree to come to the negotiating table — or they should shut up and stop complaining," Israel's Channel 10 news quoted Salman as saying during a trip to New York in March.

#YEMEN: THE FORGOTTEN WAR - #SaudiArabia Committing War Crime in Yemen

The Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of committing war crimes by blocking the delivery of food, fuel and aid during its aggression on Hudaydah in Yemen’s western coast.
More than eight million people in Yemen are at risk of starvation and aid groups fear the battle for Hudaydah, which imports most of the aid and commercial supplies shipped in to Yemen, could have widespread and fatal consequences.
The Saudi-led coalition has imposed a blockade on Yemeni ports controlled by the Yemeni army and popular committees. The blockade has played a significant role in the collapse of the health system and exacerbated suffering that Amnesty International said could “constitute a war crime”.
“Millions of lives are at risk in Yemen because food, fuel and medical supplies are being deliberately delayed on entry to the war-torn country by the Saudi-led coalition,” Amnesty International said.
In a 22-page report, the Amnesty shows how the Saudi-led coalition has imposed excessive restrictions on the entry of essential goods and aid.
“The Saudi-led coalition must end hampering the commercial imports of essential goods destined for Yemen’s Red Sea ports and allow the reopening of Sana’a airport to commercial flights. States providing the coalition with support, in particular the USA, United Kingdom and France, should pressure them to do so,” Lynn Maalouf, the Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said.
“This man-made humanitarian crisis cannot be ignored any longer. The world must stop looking the other way while the life is slowly suffocated out of Yemen,” Maalouf added.
“By delaying the delivery of vital supplies such as fuel and medicine to the country, the Saudi-led coalition is abusing its powers to cruelly inflict additional hardship on the most vulnerable civilians in Yemen.”
“Blockades that cause substantial, disproportionate harm to civilians are prohibited under international law,” Maalouf stressed.

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Pashto Music Video - Hedayatullah ........ da sanga zamana shwa

Masood rana -Tumhi ho mehboob mere main kiyo - تمہی ہو محبوب میرے: مسعود رانا فلم: آئینہ 1966

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#PPP will kickstart its election campaign from Sunday. Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari will visit different places in his Lyari constituency

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) will kickstart its election campaign from Sunday. Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari will visit different places in his Lyari constituency.
Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari went to the shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi to pay homage to the sufi saint today. Mr Bhutto-Zardari then condoled with the family in Lyari who had lost six members in an unfortunate incident a few days ago. Chairman PPP also inaugurated his main campaign office in Lyari. Speaking to party workers, he said he is looking forward to representing the people of Lyari. “I will be directly working with the people to resolve their problems just like my mother, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. She struggled for the rights of the people of this country and I will continue her mission”, said Chairman Bilawal.
Later, he visited the shrine of Dhulley Shah Sabzwari in Lyari. Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was a regular visitor of the same shrine. It was an emotional moment for the PPP Chairman to see a tree that was planted by his late mother, which has now bloomed into a full-grown tree.
Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari will start campaigning in the rest of the Sindh province from Monday (July 2). After Sindh, he will campaign in South Punjab and then the rest of the country. Chairman PPP will be greeting his supporters all over the country during the PPP’s election campaign.

#Pakistan - #PPP - Those who thrived on corruption now lecturing others, Bilawal slams Imran

Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Saturday criticised Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan saying that those thriving on corruption are now preaching others against it.
Imran earlier alleged that Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari took the value of one dollar to Rs125 from Rs60 over the past 10 years.
Bilawal said that when the PTI ticket sale scandal will emerge then Imran will "go into hiding."
“Those who ended Ihtesab Bureau in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are speaking about corruption,” he said.
“Up till now Nawaz was defaming politics but now Imran Niazi has taken up this task.”
The PPP chairman also kick-started his party's election campaign from Karachi on Saturday.
He visited Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s shrine after which he went to Lyari, from where he would be contesting the forthcoming election, and inaugurated his party's election office in the town. 
Speaking to party workers, Bilawal said that he is looking forward to representing the people of Lyari and working with them. 
“I will be directly working with the people to resolve their problems just like my mother, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. She struggled for the rights of the people of this country and I will continue her mission”, he said.
Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari will start campaigning in the rest of Sindh province from Monday. 
After Sindh, he will lead the party's campaign in southern Punjab and then across the country.

#Pakistan - Bilawal asks caretakers to halt attempts to jack up PoL prices

Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has criticized the caretaker government’s move to increase PoL prices and asked it to desist from any such decision.
In statement on Saturday, the PPP chairman expressed concerns over the reports that caretaker government was initiating attempts to hike the PoL prices and advised it to concentrate on ensuring free and fair elections instead of putting more economic burden on the masses.
He asked the caretaker government to immediately halt the moves aimed at increasing the petrol prices.

#PTI - IMRAN NIAZI - Ignorance is bliss

CAN you create a naya or new Pakistan if your mind is rooted in the past? Despite the fact that Imran Khan is, apparently, well educated, his thinking does not reflect the changes that have taken place in his lifetime. “Intelligence,” as Stephen Hawking once remarked, “is the ability to adapt to change.”
Take, for instance, the firestorm he caused recently with his misogynist remarks by saying in a TV interview that he ‘disagreed with Western feminism’, and that it caused a ‘degeneration of motherhood’. He was ignorant of the fact that the Suffragette movement led to women finally getting the right to vote. And he was blissfully unaware that it was feminists who fought for, and obtained, basic rights like paid leave from jobs to have babies.
Much progressive, pro-women legislation around the world has been passed as a result of the pressure exerted by determined and organised women’s organisations. Khan is clearly oblivious of the incredible effort that goes into child-bearing and then the care that mothers everywhere lavish on their children. To declare that any feminist loves her kids less because of her activism is a calumny.
Why does Imran Khan want to be elected to parliament?
But let’s move on. In a recent interview on BBC’s HARDtalk, Khan expressed his admiration for the jirga system prevalent in the tribal areas, and imposed by the Afghan Taliban in Afghanistan. According to him, it consisted of a jury that handed out quick justice, and could serve as a model for the rest of Pakistan.
Really? These stone-age, so-called juries include no women, and have no knowledge of the law, nor recourse to modern investigative methods. They have often ordered young women to be handed over to aggrieved parties as punishment for the crimes their fathers are supposed to have committed. Granted that our judiciary is totally dysfunctional and currently has almost two million pending cases. But the way forward is surely to reform the existing system rather than impose a backward institution.
Recently, Imran Khan pledged to create 10m jobs over the next five years if he was elected prime minister. I know politicians lie to voters before an election, but surely this is a whopper too big to overlook. In the event, his promise was overtaken by Asif Zardari who declared that, if voted into power, he would create a government job for every Pakistani family that did not currently have a member who was a state employee.
Again, really? And who will pay for this artificial growth in employment? Let me remind the two leaders of a Club of Rome study in the 1970s that estimated the cost of creating a single industrial job to be around $20,000 over 40 years ago. Let’s double the cost now, and it works out to $400 billion. Try running that past the IMF.
And if Khan, like Zardari, is talking about recruiting millions into an already bloated bureaucracy, the public exchequer doesn’t have that kind of money. Even if he manages to raise tax revenue and reduce corruption, this will hardly pay for this populist gesture. His party didn’t succeed in creating many jobs in KP over these last five years. Agricultural land is being fragmented, and the large farms are rapidly mechanising.
In the absence of coherent manifestoes that spell out the costs of programmes, I suppose it’s easy to throw around any figure that will make a good sound bite on TV. This does not mean it will make good policy. Thus far, Khan’s rise has been largely media-driven, and his personal charisma has certainly helped. People are desperate for change, but to make irresponsible and impossible pled­ges erodes the PTI leader’s credibility.
But as he said recently, he is willing to do anything to prevent a PML-N victory in next month’s elections. ‘Anything’ apparently includes issuing tickets to the so-called electables who have flocked to his flag, seeing him as the establishment’s candidate. And if this upsets his many supporters, well, too bad.
Over 10 years ago, Khan wrote an article in which he dismissed Darwin’s theory of evolution as ‘half-baked’. I took issue with him in a column and asked how he was qualified to reject a complex scientific explanation for the slow, gradual evolution of life on our planet. Over the last 150 years, a mountain of evidence has been painstakingly collected by thousands of scientists around the world in support of Darwin’s pioneering work. To simply dismiss it as ‘half-baked’ reveals either ignorance or a lack of humility, or both.
As I watch Khan’s single-minded march towards the Prime Minister’s House, I wonder why he wants to be elected to parliament in the first place. His attendance record was the poorest in the National Assembly over the last five years. And he sent 100,000 curses on that body not long ago. Surely he wouldn’t want to be elected to a parliament he clearly despises.

#Pakistan - OP-ED - Keep banned terror outfits away from elections

By Ailia Zehra

Participation of ASWJ members in the upcoming general elections is not only a blatant violation of the Constitution and NAP, but also puts the general public's security at risk.

Three years ago, after the Army Public School (APS) attack, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership vowed to ‘avenge’ the blood of innocent Pakistanis by taking concrete steps aimed at elimination of terrorism and extremism. Regret was expressed about the flawed policies of the past and promises were made to carry out non-discriminatory action against terrorists and their apologists. It was announced that the policy of distinguishing between terrorists on their status as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ would be put to rest. A comprehensive National Action Plan (NAP) detailing steps needed to eliminate terrorism was unanimously agreed upon by the civil and military leadership. As the nation mourned the blood of innocent schoolchildren, while remembering countless other victims, a new road-map for fighting the menace of terrorism was chalked out with a resolve to implement it in letter and spirit.
Three years later, not only have the promises of adopting a zero tolerance policy against terrorism been forgotten, but terrorist organisations are also being given an open field to operate in what seems to be a bid to ‘mainstream’ them. Banned terror outfits continue to enjoy impunity, despite Pakistan’s ongoing efforts to escape Financial Action Task Force (FATF) blacklisting.
On Wednesday, head of banned sectarian organisation Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) Ahmed Ludhianvi was taken off Fourth Schedule of Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). His assets were unfrozen and travel restrictions removed. What is even more shocking is that the development came the same day Pakistan announced a 26-point plan against financing of terrorist groups in order to avoid FATF blacklisting. Some news reports suggested that the ban on ASWJ has also been lifted, but Punjab caretaker interior minister has denied removal of the ban on the proscribed outfit. Nevertheless, giving relief to a known criminal weeks before elections indicates that the deep state is up to no good.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) recently finalised the list of candidates cleared to contest the general elections. It is concerning that among those who have been given a clean chit are extremist elements associated with the banned ASWJ. These candidates are contesting from a new platform called Pakistan Rah-e-Haq Party to avoid being questioned about the ‘banned’ status of their outfit. But the ECP does not find it problematic that members of banned outfits are eyeing seats in National and Provincial Assemblies using a different name for their actual groups. That our electoral system has failed to track such blatant dishonesty says a lot about how ‘free’ and ‘fair’ the upcoming elections will be. It also goes to show that action against individuals with terror and extremist links is not a priority for those responsible to oversee and conduct the general elections. One of the points of the NAP states that banned outfits “will not be allowed to operate with a different name”. Yet these outfits are not only operating with new names, but are also aspiring to reach the Parliament.
A sectarian terror organisation, ASWJ is included in the list of proscribed organisations formed by National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA). ASWJ can be described as the political wing of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), an anti-Shia militant organisation that has claimed responsibility for several small and large-scale attacks across the country, mainly targeting the Shia community. The LeJ also recently pledged allegiance to global terror group Islamic State (IS) and the two groups have jointly carried out a number of bombings in the past few years. LeJ has mainly been involved in attacks on Shia community across the country for decades, but recently the anti-Shia militant group seemed to have expanded its operations to target non-Shias as well.
In October 2016, a police academy in Quetta came under attack, killing 61 young cadets. LeJ claimed responsibility for the attack. In a separate attack on the lawyers fraternity in Quetta that took place in August 2016, over 70 lawyers lost their lives. Both LeJ and IS had claimed responsibility for the incident. This year, in addition to continuing its actions against the persecuted Shia-Hazaras of Quetta, the group targeted another vulnerable religious minority. The Christian community of Quetta fell victim to a bombing incident at a local church in April. 15 members of the community were killed and LeJ accepted responsibility once again. Hazara-Shias of Quetta have been on the receiving end of targeted killing and mass bombings from LeJ for far too long (and their plight remains under-reported), but now Christians in the city also live under constant threat and many have claimed that they are being forced out of the city.
Among those cleared by ECP to contest the elections are extremist elements associated with banned terrorist organisations. These candidates are contesting from a new platform to avoid being questioned about their ‘banned’ status
ASWJ’s relation with LeJ is hardly a secret, but it is still pertinent to mention, for those unaware of the issue at hand, that ASWJ leaders have supported and justified the actions of LeJ and other terror groups on multiple occasions.
The same ASWJ has fielded its candidates for various National and Provincial Assembly seats across the country from a new platform. And instead of doing its job – ECP made a mockery of the Constitution as well as NAP – by allowing terror suspects and criminals to contest the elections.
ASWJ Sindh leader Aurangzeb Farooqi who has indulged in hate speech against the Shia community and called for their public murder several times was also cleared by the ECP. In 2016, Farooqi was named in an FIR registered after the murder of Karachi-based Shia activist Khurram Zaki, but Farooqi did not declare this information while filing his nomination papers. Some members of the civil society in Karachi approached Election Tribunal, challenging the nomination papers of Farooqi and drew the attention of the authorities towards the fact that the candidate did not disclose his criminal history by concealing the FIR. But the Election Tribunal on Monday dismissed the request on grounds that concealing information does not merit a disqualification.
The tribunal’s verdict is yet another reminder of the impunity enjoyed by sectarian terrorists.
Meanwhile, another Election Tribunal in Islamabad has disqualified former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for ‘withholding information’ in his nomination papers. It is bizarre that candidates are being disqualified for petty reasons while extremists like Ahmed Ludhianvi and Aurangzeb Farooqi remain untouchable despite misleading the ECP.
While the ECP and election tribunals have disqualified politicians for hiding dual nationalities, submitting fake documents and unpaid dues among other misdoings, individuals involved in terrorism – which is a much bigger crime – have been given a free hand. It appears as if the law does not apply to them.
Moreover, most members of the ASWJ aka Rah-e-Haq Party including Aurangzeb Farooqi whose nomination papers have been accepted by the ECP are listed on the Fourth Schedule. Individuals whose names are placed on the Fourth Schedule (a watch-list of the Anti-Terrorism Act) are barred from visiting public places or addressing public meetings without obtaining written permission from the local police. Their movement is restricted due to suspected involvement in terrorism, incitement to violence and they are considered a security threat by the state. It is the failure of the country’s electoral system that such people were allowed to submit nomination papers in the first place.
Participation of banned terror outfits’ members in the general elections is not only the violation of Constitution and National Action Plan, but also puts the security of the general public at risk. It is therefore imperative for the authorities to wake up and act before it’s too late.

#Pakistan - The election blues

Afrasiab Khattak
The much talked about democratic transition that was supposed to have started with the general elections in 2008 and continued through the general elections of 2013 has for all practical purposes died down. The so called soft creeping coup which was conceived by the deep state and midwifed by judiciary during the last few years has not only culminated in full fledged authoritarian control but has also acquired some hard dimensions as the polling day of the elections 2018 draws closer. Democratic freedoms have come under growing squeeze and freedom of expression has received the main brunt of the fascist type strangulation. Tv channels are put off the air and distribution of newspapers is blocked by using brute force as long as the concerned media groups aren’t ready to toe the line of authoritarian circles. Political engineering for achieving “ positive results “ in the forthcoming elections is in full swing. PML ( N) is at the receiving end of every types of manipulation. From judicial onslaught to weaponised religion and psychological warfare, every trick in the trade is being used to break the vote bank of the party. Lot of pressure is coming on the so called electable candidates to leave the party for joining the PTI (by now notorious for being the new king’s party). Those who do not oblige the movers and shakers of the deep state by remaining loyal to their party are effortlessly disqualified by NAB and judiciary. Accountability is becoming a farce while large scale pre election rigging is turning the electoral process into a mere selection by the deep state. If this post election rigging isn’t immediately stopped the process would have zero credibility.
The scariest thing in the latest political scenario is the decision of the Election Commission of Pakistan for sourcing out of electoral process to security institutions. According to the recent decisions by ECP, army personnel will be responsible for secure transfer of ballot papers from the printing press to ECP. Similarly they will also be there to ensure the safe delivery of the aforementioned material to polling stations and collecting it back. In the past army personnel were deployed along side police and other civilian armed forces out side the sensitive polling stations. But this time round the army personnel will also be deployed inside polling stations. This development gives rise to two questions. One, Constitution was amended and laws were framed in recent years to strengthen ECP for holding free and fair elections. But under what law, rule or procedure ECP is sourcing out its functions to security institutions and does it not kill the very purpose of electoral reforms and strengthening of ECP? Two, from Zia-ul-Haq’s quest for positive results to Parvez Musharraf’s public confession about wheeling and dealing with political leaders on number of seats which were to be “ given” to them prove the role of security institutions in rigging the elections. If the past experience is anything to go by the sourcing out of coming election to security institutions will increase the possibility of rigging.
Interestingly, while level playing field is denied to the “undesirable “ political elements in general and PML ( N) in particular, doors are being opened for proscribed organisations and suspected terrorists to participate in the forthcoming elections. When ECP refused to allot election symbol to the Milli Muslim League ( a new name for JUD) , the outfit managed to remain in field for contesting elections by adopting a new identity. Just on the very day when the news about Pakistan making it to the grey-list under FATF emerged from Europe, Pakistan decided to unfreeze the assets of a previously proscribed organisation ASWJ and allowed it to take part in elections. This is certainly not a good news for both the fight against terrorism and future of democracy. The most disappointing thing about present situation is the passive attitude of most of the political parties towards dwindling democratic freedoms. They are completely silent over latent attacks on media freedoms and political engineering for crushing of PML (N). Some of political leaders are silenced by the NAB files while others are promised a share in the future power pie. But they don’t realise that there can’t be a democratic system without democratic freedoms. As the recently held Senate election has demonstrated the deep state would ultimately prefer non political stooges ( in partisan sense) over even the most pliable political parties. If the political parties don’t overcome their political feuds to join hands for defending democratic freedoms , they will not only soon find themselves suffocated in an undeclared martial law but they wouldn’t be left with enough credibility to launch a movement for the restoration of democracy in the near future.
In the meanwhile all the major decisions on foreign policy, economy and national security don’t have even any semblance of civilian footprint. Pakistan is drifting into the middle eastern quagmire despite Parliament previous resolution against it and “ good Taliban “ have no problem in flourishing inside Pakistan. The country’s isolation is intensifying as the relationship with western powers is worsening and as China is teaming up with India for promoting regional connectivity and economic cooperation. One wonders how will the future civilian government be different in lack of power and control from the previous political government or the present care taker government?
The only silver lining in the otherwise bleak situation is the growing resistance in Punjab to the growing shadow of authoritarianism. The people of Punjab owe a sustained and determined struggle to history as they had not actively and systematically participated in the national liberation struggle against colonial rule in 20th century. Their struggle can attract support and solidarity from all other oppressed people of the other regions if the Punjabi political leadership broadens the charter of their demands to include the aspirations of all the disempowered segments of society. Political parties should go for mass mobilisation in coming weeks for not just winning seats in elections but also for defeating authoritarian onslaught.

#Pakistan - EDITORIAL - #PPP’s human rights’ agenda

The PPP appears to have rediscovered its mojo. Not only is it the first party to have released its manifesto — it has, for all intents and purposes, returned to its socialist roots. Indeed, there is a little something there for everyone. At least in terms of avowals.
The title itself is a reminder of the sacrifices that the PPP has made for democracy’s sake: “BB ka wada nibhana hai Pakistan bachana hai” (We have to fulfil BB’s promise and save Pakistan). In short, the country must be liberated from the clutches of the fear of hunger, thirst and helplessness. Indeed, in a nod to escalating inflation, the new and improved slogan has been updated from the traditional “bread, clothing and shelter” to include “education, health and jobs for everyone”.
Yet the point is that these are all issues currently facing Pakistan; indeed, much of the world, both in the industrialised north as well as here in the Global South. Moreover, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari belongs to a new generation that knows it must appear as inclusive as possible to woo over the youth vote that Imran Khan has long claimed to have in the bag. Thus the PPP manifesto is careful to define the phrase “all our people” as “men, women and transgender people” and “people of all faiths, ethnicities, provinces and regions”.
In essence, what is being showcased is a public pledge to position human rights centre stage by prioritising: prevention of the misuse of the blasphemy law; reviewing and reforming the definition of terrorism under the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997; protection of journalists and human rights defenders; protection of transgender and transgender identity; protection against religious discrimination in the education system; and criminalising enforced disappearances.
While this looks good on paper, all bets are still off as to whether this is enough to secure a PPP victory beyond Sindh. Many pundits have already ruled out the PPP securing the Punjab. On the grounds that the battle there is being fought between the PTI and the PMLN; with certain mainstreamed extremist groups being promoted to further undercut the Sharifs’ traditional vote-bank. Indeed, the PPP has already lost a number of electables to Khan’s party; with disgruntled PTI workers jumping ship to run as independents rather than taking a chance on the Bhutto dynasty. The latter’s hope therefore rests in presenting a third way; a real and viable alternative to the political conservatism of the Punjab. And this is exactly what the PPP has tried to come up with in the form of its progressive agenda. Yet it may not be enough.
In reality, it is hard to judge a party mandate on merit alone. For the nature of the political beast is such that a comparative prism is always required. Thus it is hoped that the incoming regime will do the needful in terms of setting a date whereby all manifestos will be published on the very same day: ideally, a good three months before polls. After all, in the absence of informed debate lie mere sound bites. The Pakistani people deserve better.