Friday, August 31, 2018

Arabic Music Video - Habibi Sawah -



In typical fashion, Saudi Arabia’s response to this week’s UN report claiming it may be responsible for war crimes in Yemen is full of bluster.
How dare the human rights experts make ‘false allegations’ that the Riyadh-led coalition has targeted civilians, restricted humanitarian aid and carried out arbitrary detentions, it says.
This despite all evidence to the contrary.

Whether it’s air strikes on school buses killing dozens of children or the bombing of ships carrying humanitarian aid as they wait at a harbour entrance, the truth is plain to see.
This is not to say that Iran-backed Houthi rebels which the coalition is fighting are not guilty of heinous crimes as well. That they are also responsible for atrocities is made clear by the report, which says that both sides are guilty of arbitrary detentions, torture, enforced disappearances and recruiting children.
With 6660 civilians killed, 10,563 injured, 1.1 million hit by cholera and 22 million in need of aid, the war in Yemen is the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis.
But when you consider these stark facts it is hard not get riled by one thing which stands out from the Saudi rebuttal just for its sheer audacity.
The statement expresses "surprise for the report’s disregard of the great humanitarian role played by the coalition states in Yemen, and the huge humanitarian assistance it has provided in order to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people."
Hang on, if you hadn’t spent the past three years bombing the country back to the Dark Ages, there would be no need for any of the humanitarian aid which you are so proud of.
It’s a bit like a reckless motorist who wilfully causes carnage on a motorway expecting a pat on the back for picking up the medical bill afterwards.
The UN report found that coalition air strikes—armed with British and American firepower—have hit residential areas, markets, funerals, weddings, detention facilities, civilian boats and medical facilities.
Not only this but the UN’s Group of Experts "have reasonable grounds to believe that individuals in the government of Yemen and the coalition may have conducted attacks in violation of the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution that may amount to war crimes."
GettyImages-1014360820A Yemeni child stands next to the destroyed bus at the site of a Saudi-led coalition air strike, that targeted the Dahyan market the previous day in the Huthi rebels' stronghold province of Saada on August 10, 2018.STRINGER/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Time after time the Saudi authorities—who profess to uphold international law and human rights—throw their toys out of the pram when they are accused of flouting it.
You can see it in their over-the-top response to criticism from Canada about their continued incarceration of women’s rights activists.
You can see it in their brass neck claims not to be pirating transmissions of the World Cup, Champions League, Premier League, Formula One or any other passing sporting event whose broadcast rights are owned by rival Qatar—despite all evidence to the contrary.
But this month’s prize for sheer hypocrisy must surely go to both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who for a year have been blockading Qatar, accusing the tiny Gulf state of supporting terrorism, which Doha denies.
For there is new evidence from an Associated Press investigation that the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has actually been negotiating, paying and helping Al-Qaeda, the terror group behind the 9/11 attacks.
So, a months-long offensive, Operation Swift Sword, was portrayed as a victory in the mountainous province of Shabwa for Emirati and Yemeni fighters over Al-Qaeda forces which had dominated the region for three years.
The UAE ambassador to Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba, said the triumph would "disrupt the terrorist organisation’s network and degrade its ability to conduct future attacks."
What wasn’t revealed was how weeks earlier the two sides had reportedly negotiated for trucks full of masked Al-Qaeda militants to quietly leave the area. About 200 Al-Qaeda fighters received payment, with one getting £20,000 ($26,000). Some have even joined the coalition side.
This is the same Yousef al-Otaiba who repeatedly accuses Qatar of funding terrorism.
GettyImages-933742038A photo taken on March 18, 2018, shows a Yemeni child looking out at buildings that were damaged in an air strike in the southern Yemeni city of Taez.AHMAD AL-BASHA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
It led to Doha’s ambassador to the U.S., Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al-Thani, saying: "For now, we must pose urgent questions to the UAE and Saudi Arabia: How can they in good faith give arms, safe passage and financing to terrorists? What are the terrorist groups doing with all of these funds and weapons?"
For now, a list of people who may be responsible for war crimes in Yemen has been passed to the UN high commissioner for human rights.
The UN report also urged the international community to "refrain from providing arms that could be used in a conflict"—a reference to America and Britain, who have been arming the Saudi-led coalition, and to Iran, who are supplying the Houthi rebels.
The plane that flew for an hour over the market in Dahyan, northern Saada, before launching its deadly payload killing 40 children on the school bus was armed with a U.S.–made 500lb laser-guided MK82 bomb.
For the perpetrators to say the Saada attack was a "legitimate military operation carried out in accordance with international humanitarian law" is despicable, and the UN is right to call out those responsible.
And as long as the U.S. continues arming the coalition with the types of Lockheed Martin weapons used on that school bus, and the U.K. rolls out the red carpet at every opportunity for Saudi Arabia, we too will be complicit in the carnage they cause.

No More Forgotten Wars: End US Support for Saudi Coalition War Crimes in Yemen

War Crimes Report on Yemen Accuses Saudi Arabia and U.A.E.

By Nick Cumming-Bruce
The military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in Yemen has killed thousands of civilians in airstrikes, tortured detainees, raped civilians and used child soldiers as young as 8 — actions that may amount to war crimes, United Nations investigators said in a report issued Tuesday.
The report singled out Saudi and Emirati airstrikes for causing the most civilian casualties, saying they had hit residential areas, markets, funerals, weddings, jails, boats and medical facilities.
“There is little evidence of any attempt by parties to the conflict to minimize civilian casualties,” said Kamel Jendoubi, the chairman of the panel of experts that produced the report.
The report also said the Houthi rebels, who control northern Yemen and are fighting the Saudi-Emirati coalition, may have committed war crimes. They were accused of shelling civilians, torturing detainees, recruiting young children to fight and blocking access to humanitarian agencies.
“None have clean hands,” one of the experts, Charles Garraway, a retired military officer who served for 30 years as a legal officer in the British Army, told reporters in Geneva. “Despite the severity of the situation, we continue to witness a total disregard of the suffering of the people of Yemen.”
A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition said it would respond after its legal team had reviewed the report.
The Emirati minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said on Twitter that his government would need to study the report before responding, but he said the culpability of the Houthis for civilian suffering needed to be recognized. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis told reporters in Washington that the Trump administration had reviewed its support for the Saudi-Emirati coalition.
“We determined it was the right thing to do in defense of their own countries, but also to restore the rightful government there,’’ he told reporters. “Our conduct there is to try to keep the human cost of innocents being killed accidentally to an absolute minimum.’’ The American goal, Mr. Mattis said, is to encourage the combatants to negotiate a settlement to the conflict.
Tawakkol Karman, a Yemeni human rights activist who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011, responded to Mr. Gargash, the Emirati foreign affairs minister on Twitter. She said the United Nations report would not be credible unless it cited the leaders of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, as well as the head of the Houthi movement, as responsible for the civilian massacres.
Political factions and militias have been fighting for control of Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, since power-sharing talks collapsed in 2014 and the Houthis ousted the internationally backed government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Since then, fighting has devolved into proxy warfare, with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates arming and fighting alongside a disparate group of Islamist, tribal and regional militias against the Houthis, who control Sana, the capital, as well as the major port of Al Hudaydah and their ancestral territories along the Saudi border.
The Saudis and their allies have accused Iran of aiding the Houthis. Iran has denied involvement, despite evidence that the rebels are using Iranian weaponry, including missiles.
The report accused the Saudi-led coalition of routinely having failed to consult its own “no-strike list” of more than 30,000 sites in Yemen, including refugee camps and hospitals. It also said the Saudi Air Force had not cooperated with investigators about its targeting procedures. The conflict has resulted in at least 16,700 casualties, including 6,475 civilians killed, but the real figure is almost certainly significantly higher, according to the United Nations.
The main cause of civilian casualties in the war, the report says, has been airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition. It estimates that there have been 18,000 such strikes in little more than three years, inflicting a level of damage on civilians that “certainly contributed to Yemen’s dire economic and humanitarian situation.”
The report, to be delivered to the United Nations Human Rights Council next month, comes not long after a Saudi-coalition strike this month killed 40 children on a school bus. The experts who wrote the report said that the names of individuals suspected of abuses would be sent to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. They declined to provide details, but the report said offenses had been committed by individuals at all levels in the Saudi-led coalition’s member states and their governments, including civilian officials.
Sixty coalition attacks on residential areas reviewed by the experts killed more than 500 civilians, including 233 children, they said. An attack on a funeral hall in Sana in October 2016 killed at least 137 civilians, according to the report.
The experts said that the coalition had kept up the intensity of the airstrikes even after it had become clear that civilians were suffering dire consequences. Civilians were further harmed, they said, by the coalition’s arbitrary restrictions on shipping and air travel. The screening of ships coming into Al Hudaydah — ostensibly to prevent arms from entering the country — has had “a chilling effect on commercial shipping supplies of fuel and food needed to fend off starvation, even though United Nations searches of shipping had found no weapons,” the experts said.
“No possible military advantage could justify such sustained and extreme suffering of millions of people,” they said.
The report detailed allegations of rape and abuse by a proxy unit called the Security Belt Forces, which is under the control of the United Arab Emirates, that targeted not just detainees but also refugee and migrant women and children. The experts faulted in particular the coalition’s Joint Incidents Assessment Team, which is supposed to investigate claims of military abuse but which human rights groups say was set up to deflect pressure for an international inquiry into the war.
The assessment team’s work lacked transparency, its investigations lacked legal analysis and its findings regularly ignored civilian casualties and were often substantially altered by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the experts said.
A report released by Human Rights Watch last week warned Britain, France and the United States that they risked complicity in unlawful attacks in Yemen by continuing to supply arms to Saudi Arabia.

Video - #ArethaHomegoing - Ariana Grande Performs "Natural Woman" at Aretha Franklin's Funeral

#ArethaHomegoing - What's My Line? (taped 9/9/1974) Mystery Guest Aretha Franklin

Video -#ArethaHomegoing - Aretha Franklin Collection on Late Show, 1994-2014

#ArethaHomegoing - Rev. Al Sharpton reads letter from Obama at Aretha Franklin's funeral

"Dear Friends and Family of Aretha:
"Michelle and I extend our heartfelt sympathies to all those who have gathered in Detroit, and we join you in remembering and celebrating the life of the Queen of Soul.
"From a young age, Aretha Franklin rocked the world of anyone who had the pleasure of hearing her voice. Whether bringing people together through a thrilling intersection of genres or advancing important causes through the power of song, Aretha’s work reflected the very best of our American story – in all of its hope and heart, its boldness and its unmistakable beauty.
"In the example she set, both as an artist and a citizen, Aretha embodied those most revered virtues of forgiveness and reconciliation, while the music she made captured some of our deepest human desires: namely affection and respect. And through her own voice, Aretha lifted those of millions, empowering and inspiring the vulnerable, the downtrodden, and everyone who may have just needed a little love.
 "Aretha truly was one of a kind. And as you pay tribute, know we’ll be saying a little prayer for you. And we’ll be thinking of all of Aretha’s loved ones in the days and weeks to come.
"Sincerely, Barack Obama"

#ArethaHomegoing - Aretha Franklin funeral: Tributes from Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George W. Bush

Bill Clinton represented former presidents at the funeral of Aretha Franklin in Detroit, while Barack Obama and George W. Bush each sent letters in memory of Aretha Franklin that were read aloud by Rev. Al Sharpton and Barbara Sampson, respectively.
Obama and Bush remained in Washington for Saturday's memorial service for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who requested that each of them to speak.

Bill Clinton's Aretha Franklin tribute

Clinton's presence at the funeral is no surprise: His relationship with Franklin stretches back to at least 1993 when she performed at his first inauguration. In May 1999, Franklin performed for Clinton at the White House Correspondents Association's annual dinner, and later that year, the president awarded her with the National Medal of Arts and Humanities during a White House ceremony.
“She lived with courage," said the 42nd president. "Not without fear, but overcoming her fears. She lived with faith. Not without failure, but overcoming her failures. She lived with power. Not without weakness, but overcoming her weaknesses. I just loved her.”    
Clinton recalls seeing Aretha last year at Elton John AIDS fund-raiser, where she performed for 45 minutes, despite looking gaunt from pancreatic cancer: “She stood right up and said, ‘How you doing, baby?’ I said, ‘I’m doing better now.’ She said: ‘Look at me. I got thin again.’ “      
The former president also asked the audience to forgive him, saying he was happy that Franklin’s casket was still open when he arrived because he just had to see what she was wearing.
Clinton said, “I wonder what my friend has got on today. I wanted to see what the girl was carrying out,” to a wave of laughs and claps from the crowd. Franklin was wearing a gold gown, her fourth outfit of the week.
He ended his time by playing Franklin’s “Think” on his iPhone into the mic. “It’s the key to freedom!” Clinton said.

Video - #ArethaHomegoing - Aretha Franklin Funeral: Bill Clinton - Full Eulogy

Video Report - #ArethaHomegoing - Al Sharpton slams Trump at Aretha Franklin's funeral

Music Video - #ArethaHomegoing - George Michael, Aretha Franklin - I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)

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Ghazal - Thodi Thodi Piya Karo by Pankaj Udhas -

Music Video - Sayyo Ni Mera Mahi Mere Bhaag Jagawan Aa Geya - Noor Jehan

Music Video - Agar Kowi Pochay bharoon kaa mutlab (Mohabat) 1972



EDITORIAL - #Pakistan - #FATA still under fire

As the Federally Administered Tribal Areas transition into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — a series of violent occurrences have marred the democratic process. A remote controlled bomb blast killed one, and injured three soldiers during a routine search in the Datta Khel Tehsil in North Waziristan. Subsequently, armed forces came to the Hamzoni village to arrest suspects. This arrest was resisted by the villagers — which led to clashes.
This tragedy shed light on two grave hindrances in the judicial and policing systems that aim to protect and safeguard the lives and rights of its citizens. First is the law of Collective Punishment under the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) which was introduced by our colonial overlords in 1872 to control the tribes in FATA. The FCR inspired from the local tribal jirga system, appoints a ‘political agent’ who passes any and all judgements; even the right of holding an entire village or agency responsible for the crimes committed by a few. Instead being an effective tool of conflict resolution, this and other laws like it deprive the citizens of FATA of the constitutional rights granted to every other Pakistani.
Furthermore, it highlighted the need to give on-ground personnel across security outfits sensitivity training to deal with civilian populations. This way protests can be viewed as the democratic right of every citizen, an indicator of the prevalent freedom of speech and expression rather than a national security threat. Moreover, when the question of civilian lives is at stake — then mistakes or pre-emptive behaviour cannot hold priority. This is also evident in the accidental killing of Bilal Khan, a seventeen-year-old who was caught in crossfire during a police raid in Karachi on Saturday.
The most disheartening element however, was the media black-out of the sit-in protest that took place in Miran Shah in the aftermath of the shooting. While social media was rampant with indignation over the atrocities; major news channels and newspapers remained silent on the matter. The fourth estate must be allowed to provide fair and unhindered information regarding the happenings in the country, no matter which deprived, isolated corner of the state the news comes from.
On a positive note however, we see the newly elected MNA Mohsin Dawar playing an active role in the mobilisation and representation of his people, not only in person or on social media — but in the National Assembly. Similarly we must commend the Pakistan Army for assuming responsibility and initiating an investigation into the incident. Moreover, General Mumtaz Hussain visited the injured at Miran Shah Hospital and announced financial compensation for the injured as well as the deceased. While this tragedy left many disgruntled, the subsequent efforts by the politico-military outfits provide a glimmer of hope.

Chhota Shakeel’s son picks rosary over gun: Religion is the new career in Imran’s #Pakistan


I wonder if Imran's kids can recite Quran ?  
If Imran Khan’s government implements the Bill on mandatory Quran recitation in schools, it will create new social anxieties.
The news about Karachi don Chhota Shakeel’s son becoming a hafiz who can memorise and recite the Quran comes about a year after Dawood Ibrahim’s son Moin became an Islamic cleric.
From Zia-ul-Haq’s Pakistan to Imran Khan’s Naya Pakistan, the religio-military nexus has produced a well-oiled skills training programme for the youth. Even the dons’ family members now appear to be opting out of the empire’s spoils and are dropping the gun to pick up the rosary.
The news about Shakeel’s family coincided last week with the news that Imran Khan’s new government may implement the Compulsory Teaching of the Holy Quran Bill 2017. If that happens, memorising the Quran and becoming a hafiz may just become the new social currency in Pakistan.
The Bill is yet to become a law, but social media in Pakistan was abuzz this weekend over the anticipated move.
Many outside Pakistan perhaps assume that the country already has such a law in place since Zia’s rule in the 1980s. But the truth is that if the new Bill is enforced, what was put in place three decades ago will intensify and create new social anxieties.
The 2017 Bill stipulated that it should be mandatory for (Muslim) students from ‘grade one to five to recite the scripture in Arabic, while children in grade six and above will be required to recite the Holy Quran along with the translation’.
Under Zia, memorising the entire Quran was incentivised with 20 extra points in school. But even those students who did not want to benefit from the extra points had to undertake mandatory memorisation of select verses of Quran, study Islamic history and translation. So, with or without the extra points, every student still had to study the Quran in school.
Now, under the new proposed law, there will be mandatory recitation of the entire Quran and its translation.
Learning to read the Quran is a private, family endeavour or an activity wherein you include a neighbourhood maulvi or maulani ji. Or, you take the help of the specialised ventures that make reading the Quran interesting for children with audio-visual aids. But now, the agency of the families can be taken away if reciting Quran becomes a formal school project.
If you succeeded in getting the 20-point incentive introduced under the Zia rule, you would use them at the time of your entrance into professional colleges and bureaucracy in Pakistan. Under Zia, it was also decided that a degree from a madrasa/seminary would be recognised by Pakistan’s Board of Secondary and Intermediate Education.
To help students get those 20 points, evening classes in the mosque sprung up with guaranteed Quran memorisation modules, seminaries opened their doors to speedy learning.
Non-Muslim students appeared for an ethics/social studies exam in lieu of Islamic studies in school and board exams all these years. However, the text and biased marking encouraged many non-Muslim students to mug up on Islamiyat and appear as ‘Muslim’ candidates.
If Pakistan’s rulers really read and understood the Quran, they would not have missed an essential injunction that specifies that ‘there is no compulsion in religion’. But instead, what we have in Pakistan are laws that deduct charity at source (in addition to taxes), and legislation that makes non-fasting a crime (when Islam itself provides for concessions).
Zia constituted committees that could knock on your door to monitor whether you were praying.
If the new PTI government implements this legislation, it can open a Pandora’s Box. The blasphemy law can crash into students mandatorily studying the Quran: what happens when a classroom tiff among young children snowballs into blasphemy or someone drops a copy of the Quran and is accused of disrespecting it?
One has to be in the state of ablution while reciting the Quran. Can the government ensure cleanliness, water, toilets in every school? Also, it would be far harder for families to challenge the all-powerful maulvi-instructors at schools if they dish out corporal punishment to students for mispronouncing certain words in the Quran.
It can also fuel a bigger debate about certification of tutors in schools – where sectarian and political loyalties can come into play in employment. It will be a massive project to find just the right kind of tutors for all the federal government-run educational institutions and private educational institutions regulated by the federal government.
Perhaps, the wily D-Company scions have sensed the new opportunities that may unfold in Naya Pakistan. Dawood may be ruing his fate over his empire’s legacy. But Dawood and Shakeel scions are not interested in the Karachi turf wars over prime plots and water tankers. Instead, they appear to be equipped for a more promising career in Naya Pakistan.

Imran Khan government’s honeymoon in Pakistan looks all but over

The performance of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government has so far only invited ridicule.

Barely a fortnight into the tenure of the new Imran Khan-led government in Pakistan, none can figure out the direction it will take on any front, be it economy, foreign affairs, security, welfare or human rights.
Far from inspiring confidence, the performance of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, so far, has been theatrical and successful only in rousing ridicule or fear for the future in the public. One controversy breaks on the heels of the previous, and the honeymoon of the new government looks all but over.
Social media is abuzz with biscuit jokes because of silly, optical austerity measures that the PTI has adopted. There are also the helicopter jokes because of Khan’s daily dashes to his private estate on a helicopter that his government first denied, then defended it as a weekend activity, and finally justified with a Rs 55 per kilometre bill. Meanwhile, real issues remain out of focus.
One of the foremost concerns for the government should be the fact that the country is already on the G7 countries’ Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list for money laundering and terror financing, and can be black-listed soon if measures to combat terror financing are not taken up, increasing Pakistan’s isolation and economic difficulties. There has been no word on the government’s policy in this regard. Instead, foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi angrily rejected the US State Department’s version of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s first phone call to Khan as being ‘contrary to the facts’. The State Department had said, “Secretary Pompeo raised the importance of Pakistan taking decisive action against all terrorists operating in Pakistan and its vital role in promoting the Afghan peace process.”
The US first reiterated that it stands by its read out, and then sent the transcript to Pakistan to ‘satisfy’ Islamabad that the State Department’s release was not ‘incorrect’, deeply embarrassing Pakistan domestically and internationally. Pakistan has now announced that it will ‘bury’ this issue in a U-turn on the chest thumping ahead of Pompeo’s visit early next month.
It would be pertinent to remember that in January this year, the US suspended security support to Pakistan in its war on terror to be resumed only upon ‘decisive action’ against the Haqqani Network and Afghan Taliban operating out of Pakistan. The obstinate attitude of the new government towards combating terror and unnecessary lies have left the public bemused and concerned.
In an earlier blunder, Qureshi had invented talks offer from PM Modi saying, “Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has written a letter to PM Imran Khan in which he indicated the beginning of talks between the two countries.” The foreign ministry had to eat a humble pie after the Indian media refuted this claim. It is worrisome that instead of framing policies to resolve serious issues facing the country, the new government is relying on easily discoverable fibs.
On the $2.2 billion monthly current account deficit that Pakistan faces, Khan repeatedly talks of his plan to “bring back looted money” and appeals for charity to overseas Pakistanis, both seriously puerile plans that make for good rhetoric but not effective policy. Pakistan has lost more money over the years than the looted wealth that might actually exist, with the National Accountability Bureau’s and the Supreme Court’s populist wild goose chases abroad.
One of the most serious apprehensions about this government’s future course arose just a couple of days ago when the federal minister for human rights Shireen Mazari wrote a stinging rebuke to Brad Adams, Asia director, Human Rights Watch, in response to his letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan. The Human Rights Watch had written to Imran drawing his attention to several serious human rights concerns including enforced disappearances, curbs on freedom of expression, censorship, religious persecution, death penalty, and military courts, etc. The scale and severity of human rights violations in Pakistan make it an existential issue of democracy for the country.
Instead of a dignified response and a vow to take a corrective path to uphold Pakistan’s commitment to human rights, which would have greatly reassured Pakistan’s own citizens, Mazari wrote a hostile letter back. As anchorperson Ajmal Jami correctly stated, “It is a routine exercise that international monitoring organisations write letters to the heads of state of signatory countries after they resume office and air their concerns as did International Human Rights Watch.” But Mazari’s knee-jerk partisan response, as if to a political opponent, appeared entirely undignified and inappropriate. More importantly, the whataboutery and somewhat unlearned nature of her response was alarming for the non-hypernationalist, humanist Pakistani citizens.
“I may have missed your monitoring reports on these so would appreciate if you could refresh my memory,” wrote Mazari in reference to Indian atrocities in Kashmir, and Israel’s in Palestine. Needless to say, the HRW has done stellar monitoring work in over 90 countries including the two referred to. She also drew Adams’s attention to restrictions on Muslims’ religious freedoms in Europe. Clearly, these are valid human rights violations, but not ones the Pakistan government is answerable for.
Lawyer Reema Omer expressed her dismay on Twitter saying, “Unfortunate that Dr Mazari is unfamiliar with HRW’s global work that doesn’t just highlight rights issues in Kashmir, Palestine, Europe, but also countries that PK conveniently ignores like China, Russia, KSA. Disappointingly antagonist start to her tenure.”
Journalist Murtaza Solangi echoed my concern by saying, “She is the minister of Pakistan, not Israel or India so she would be judged on what happens in Pakistan, not what happens elsewhere.”
As a Pakistani citizen, I desperately hope that the PTI government will soon replace nationalistic rhetoric, optics and stunts with real work and get on with resolving genuine governance and policy issues. I hope I am not left holding my breath for the next five years.

Multiple Violent Attacks Against Believers Reveal Just How Dangerous it is for Pakistani Christians

Emily Jones

Two recent attacks against Christians in Pakistan emphasize the worsening conditions for believers in the predominately Muslim country.
One of those incidents occurred on August 2, when Vicky Masih, 35, was murdered on his wedding anniversary.
"It was the wedding anniversary of Vicky and his wife," an advocate Tariq Zia told International Christian Concern (ICC). "Vicky was asked by his Muslim friends to meet them at Muhammad Abbas' house and celebrate with them."
"Muhammad Ilyas, another one of Vicky's Muslim friends, had to pay back a handsome loan to Vicky," Zia continued. "When Vicky asked for his money back, Muhammad Ilyas abused Vicky and said that he will teach a lesson to the choora."
"Choora" is a derogatory term used against Christians.
"Within no time, the party turned into an exchanging of harsh words, a physical clash, and ended with Vicky's murder," Zia reported.
According to Asia News, Abbas opened fire on Vicky and left him to die. Local residents eventually took him to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. He left behind a wife and three young children.
Iftikhar Saleem, the victim's younger brother, told Asia News that the police arrested the killer only after public protest.
"The police are conniving with the perpetrators, who are part of rich criminal families," he said. "We want justice...We are poor and we do not have the strength to fight these thugs. We call upon all the people of God to help us and pray for the wife of Vicky and her three little children: now they are the most vulnerable and defenseless."
Just 16 days later, Alvin John and his family were brutally attacked in the Mehmoodabad neighborhood of Karach.
He told ICC that some of his Muslim neighbors repeatedly harassed his family because of their Christian faith.
"I shifted my family to this rented house about 10 months ago," John told ICC. "At first, we were asked to leave by some Muslim neighbors because of our Christian faith. But since Easter, we have been pressurized, threatened, and teased."
"My 19-year-old daughter Aresha then became the target," John explained. "They would follow my daughter in the streets and markets, offering her a bright and secure future if she converted, and often abused her for her Christian faith."
John did his best to protect his family and find another place stay, but he says they were attacked on August 18.
"A mob of Muslims, led by Muhammad Samad Zaheer, attacked me and my family," John said. "They damaged the left eye of my son, Vickram John. Initially, the doctors have no hope for his eyesight."
"The attackers also broke most of the house stuff, furniture, doors, and windows," he continued. "We cannot go back to the house as there is unrest in the neighborhood. We are now taking shelter with relatives."
Pakistan is one of the most dangerous places in the world for Christians. It is especially dangerous for Christians who convert from Islam.
In May, the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) cited Pakistan for its deteriorating human rights record.
"In 2017, religious minorities in Pakistan, including Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Ahmadis, and Shi'a Muslims, continued to face attacks and discrimination from extremist groups and society at large," the commission stated in a report. "The government of Pakistan failed to protect these groups adequately, and it perpetrated systematic, ongoing, egregious religious freedom violations.''

#Pakistan - #PPP to establish Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto University in #Thar

The PPP MPA from Thar Surendar Valasai has submitted the resolution for the setting up the University in Thar after the name of the founding father of Pakistan Peoples Party late Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto.
Valasai, who himself hails from Kaloi area of Thar in his resolution submitted in Sindh Assembly stated that the establishment of Shaheed Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto University in Thar would cater to the needs of the higher education with special emphasis on the subjects, which might contribute to future requirements in local as well as national development and economic activities in the desert region.
Valasai, who is also spokesperson of Bilawal House, when contacted by this reporter informed that he was assured by number of his fellow law makers to support and endorse his move in the next session of Sindh Assembly. In the wake of the massive development activities in Thar including the ongoing extraction of Thar coal reserves it was the need of the hour to set up the institutions in Thar to harness the local talent, he added.