Wednesday, September 19, 2018

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Afghanistan Ambassador to India quits

As the Afghanistan President left at the end of his one-day visit to Delhi, Ambassador Dr. Shaida Mohammad Abdali announced his resignation in a tweet.

In a surprise move for the Afghanistan government, its Ambassador to India Dr. Shaida Mohammad Abdali quit on Wednesday, presenting his resignation personally to President Ashraf Ghani at the end of his one-day visit to Delhi.
As the President left, Ambassador Abdali announced his resignation in a tweet.
Speaking to The Hindu, Dr. Abdali, who took over in July 2012, said he was returning to Afghanistan to address the deteriorating situation and to serve his “people and country.”
The timing of his resignation has strengthened speculation that he has differences with the Ghani government and will run for office on return.
“The purpose is to serve,” he said, asked about his political ambitions. “Right now, I want to look at the priorities for Afghanistan. Today if you tell me I have to choose between being the Ambassador and a situation in Afghanistan where national unity and peace is at risk, I would prefer to work for peace and national unity in my country. It is time to prioritise that.”
His resignation comes amid a number of developments in the Ghani government in the past few weeks. In August, Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar resigned and several Ministers in the Cabinet offered their resignations reportedly over differences with President Ghani.
Dr. Abdali said his decision was the result of a “lengthy conversation” with people in Afghanistan and that the loss of two brothers to violence was part of his motivation to enter public life.
“There is no family in Afghanistan that has not suffered a personal loss, and yes, my family is no exception…Public life is not a privilege in Afghanistan, it is a sacrifice. I understand that, and I am willing to sacrifice,” he said, referring to his brother Haji Sardar Mohammad, who was shot dead when he was offering prayers at a mosque in Kandahar in December 2015. Another brother had been assassinated in 2008, when Dr. Abdali was a special assistant to former President Hamid Karzai.
From 2009-2012 he was the Deputy National Security Adviser of Afghanistan, holding the key position when the country signed its Strategic Partnership Agreement with India in 2011, its first with any country, before he was sent as envoy to Delhi by President Karzai.
He is credited with ramping up ties between New Delhi and Kabul both in terms of security and economic cooperation, and was retained as Ambassador by President Ghani despite the change in government in 2014.
During his tenure, he also completed his Doctorate (Ph.D) from Jawaharlal Nehru University, and wrote a book “Afghanistan Pakistan India: A Paradigm Shift.”
Speaking about the situation in Afghanistan which he said was “much worse” than in 2012, he said he wanted to “undo the great game politics between world powers which has always crippled Afghanistan”, a reference to the U.S.-Russia rivalry that appears to have returned to the country.

#India - Triple talaq is criminal offence

The new law has safeguards, including bail to the accused before the start of trial

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared an ordinance that makes talaq-e-biddat, or instant triple talaq, a criminal offence that will attract a maximum jail term of three years. President Ram Nath Kovind later in the day gave his assent.
The new law, however, incorporates safeguards, including a provision for bail to an accused before the start of the trial.
While instant triple talaq will continue to be a “non-bailable” offence — the police cannot grant bail at the police station — the accused can approach a magistrate for bail even before trial.
“There was an overpowering urgency and a compelling necessity to bring the ordinance as the practice continued unabated despite the Supreme Court’s order last year,” Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters.
He said 201 cases had been reported from across the country after the Supreme Court banned triple talaq in August 2017. Since January 2017, 430 cases had been reported until September 13 this year. “What is important is that the practice of triple talaq continues in spite of the Supreme Court having annulled it and the Lok Sabha having passed a Bill that is pending in the Rajya Sabha. We have all the evidence and a series of papers in this regard,” Mr. Prasad said.
The Law Minister attacked the Congress, saying it was not supporting the Bill pending in the Rajya Sabha because of “vote bank pressures.” He also appealed to Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, BSP chief Mayawati and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to support it in the next Parliament session.
The Congress hit back at the government, alleging that “an unnerved BJP cornered over incidents of gruesome rapes” and lack of security for women was seeking to divert the political agenda.
“While punishing the husband, all the women’s groups have asked an obvious question: ‘Once husband is in jail, who will pay maintenance and/or subsistence allowance to the woman and children?” observed Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.
“As raised by the Congress party as also various groups, why should the woman and children not have a right to proceed against the estate i.e. movable and immovable property of the husband? Modi Govt has deliberately not made any such provision,” he alleged.
Earlier, Mr. Prasad told reporters that a magistrate could exercise discretion to grant bail “after hearing the wife”. The magistrate would also have power to decide the quantum of compensation and subsistence allowance for the victim and her minor children.
Another safeguard that had been added is that the police can lodge an FIR (first information report) only if the complaint is filed by the wife (victim), her blood relations or her relatives by virtue of her marriage. Non-relatives or neighbours cannot lodge a complaint under the proposed law.
The offence of instant triple talaq has also been “compoundable” or a provision that allows the wife to withdraw a complaint or approach the magistrate for a dispute settlement.

#Pakistan's #Ahmadiyya Muslims - Nobel Prize-Winning Economists criticize ‘forced resignation’ of Atif Mian

Pakistan’s decision to let go of a top economist for his religious beliefs has been heavily criticized by world’s top economists.
On September 11, Professor Dani Rodrisk of the Harvard Kennedy School and Professor Timur Kuran of Duke University published a statement criticizing Pakistan’s removal of Atif Mian from the EAC. The statement has garnered the attention of world economists and has been endorsed by 93 economists which include 8 Nobel laureates.
Nobel winners who signed the statement include Peter A. Diamond, George Akerlof, Christopher A. Sims, Eugene Fama, Lars Peter Hansen, Robert J. Shiller, Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmström.
The statement read:
We, the undersigned economists, believe that Atif Mian would be a fantastic addition to the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) of Pakistan. Professor Mian is a first-rate economist with expertise in development economics, financial economics, and macroeconomics. Given this expertise, we believe that his participation in the EAC would be valuable for policy-makers, and his advice would improve the lives of the broader population of Pakistan.
Members of the Pakistani government pressured Professor Mian to resign from the EAC because of his religious beliefs. The decision by the Pakistani government to ask Professor Mian to resign from the EAC deprives the government of top economic talent. We express disappointment and disapproval of the decision to pressure Professor Mian to resign because of his religious beliefs. Such discrimination on the basis of religion should not play a role in deciding who can best serve the country.
Mian who is from the severely persecuted Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was let go from his position in Pakistan’s Economic Advisory Council because of his religious belief. Soon after Mian’s removal this weekend, two other members of the council also resigned in protest at Mian’s departure. Ahmadis are considered heretics by majority of Pakistanis and face immense discrimination in their daily lives.

#Pakistan's Ahmadiyya Muslims - A history of forced resignations: Atif Mian’s case isn’t the first and probably wont be the last

On several occasions, members of the Ahmadiyya community were pushed out from positions of power owing to their faith.

 People of this country love to selectively look back at their history and pretend like things were different before. In the wake of Princeton professor and world-renowned economist Atif Mian’s removal from the Economic Advisory Council of Pakistan because he was Ahmadi, many were quick to point out how the country’s first foreign minister was also from the same community.

Chaudhry Zafarullah Khan (1893-1985) was a jurist and diplomat who served as the country’s first foreign minister under Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, reported Daily Times. He was the first Asian and only Pakistani to preside over the UN General Assembly and the International Court of Justice. Khan was also Ahmadi. But his belief system had nothing to do with his work. Neither did it make him better at it nor did it render him incapable.
But let’s talk about this iconic figure in history whom we love to refer to from time to time. Does anyone know what exactly happened to him?
He too was pushed out. He was pushed out by orthodox religious groups who had launched an anti-Ahmadiyya movement in 1953. Their primary demand was to have Khan removed from his position as foreign minister. And just like Mian, Khan too surrendered and resigned to stabilise a country that was going to destabilize his community 20 years later. This was done to a man whom the founder of this country had entrusted with preparing Punjab’s case in the Boundary Commission, 1947.
Another distinguished civil servant Mirza Muzaffar Ahmad (1913-2002), also known as MM Ahmad, served as federal minister and presidential adviser during General Yahya Khan’s martial law, writes Dawn. During the early 1970s, Ahmad was stabbed inside an elevator in the Finance Ministry in Islamabad, by one of his cleaning staff. His fault: he was an Ahmadi. Following the attack, which he survived, he moved to the United States where he worked for the World Bank as a consultant. Our loss was another country’s gain.
Then there is Abdus Salam.
The first Pakistani to have won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his contribution to the electroweak unification theory. A Pakistani who was disowned by Pakistan because he was an Ahmadi.
This image is circulating on social media by the makers of a documentary on Abdus Salam. It shows a diary entry made by Salam on September 7, 44 years ago. The day he was declared non-Muslim.

#Pakistan - #PPP - Seeking details of Benazir’s assets disrespect to a martyr: Zardari

Former president and Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday filed a review petition in the Supreme Court, challenging its Aug 29 order in the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) case in which the court had sought details of his and those of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s foreign assets. Terming the seeking of details of Ms Bhutto’s assets disrespect to a martyr, Mr Zardari argued in the petition that such details had nothing to do with the case and that it was out of context and against his fundamental rights.
A three-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar which is seized with a petition filed by the Lawyers Foundation for Justice president Feroz Shah Gilani asked Mr Zardari in the Aug 29 order to submit an affidavit highlighting details of foreign assets and bank accounts, including Swiss accounts, belonging to him, his slain wife, children (Bilawal, Bakhtawar and Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari) and other dependants.
Mr Gilani’s petition seeks recovery of public amount allegedly wasted against the backdrop of the NRO in 2007. He nominated Mr Zardari, former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf and former attorney general Malik Abdul Qayyum as respondents in the case. PPP co-chairman challenges apex court’s Aug 29 order in National Reconciliation Ordinance case Moved by senior counsel Farooq H. Naek, the review petition argued that the Aug 29 order had erroneously shifted the burden of proof to Mr Zardari, asking him to prove his innocence. This is something that Mr Zardari has done time and again and even he has been acquitted multiple times on merit.
The actual burden of proof, the review petition argues, remains on the party which has brought the case before the court. The Aug 29 order prime facie aimed at seeking to gather information which would somehow incriminate Mr Zardari, it added. This is against the spirit of Article 13 of the Constitution which provides protection against double punishment. Moreover, the review petition says, setting Oct 5, 2007 as date from which financial information of Mr Zardari and his family should be included in the affidavit is arbitrary, ad hoc and does not find basis in the law. The Aug 29 order has also failed to take into account the practical difficulties that would occur in attempting to gather information required to be furnished in the affidavit sought under the order.
The record is likely to have been shredded and no longer available, especially when it comes to old property documents and details of their sale and purchase price, it says. The order is also in violation of Article 4, 175 (2) and 187 (1) of the constitution which guarantees rights of individuals to be dealt with in accordance with the law, establishment and jurisdiction of the courts and issue and execution of processes of the Supreme Court, respectively. Thus, the petition of Mr Gilani does not fall within the purview of Article 184(3) of the constitution, the review petition says, adding the Aug 29 order is asking for the details for a period spanning over a decade. Even under income tax law the limitation prescribed for assessments by Section 121 of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 is five years and anything before the same is exempt from assessment.
Moreover, under Section 60 of the Election Act 2017, a candidate is only to furnish a statement of his assets and liabilities for the preceding year whereas under the Aug 29 order the affidavit to be supplied covers the period from Oct 5, 2007 till date, which is unheard of.
Even under the election law a candidate is only supposed to furnish details of his spouse and dependent children whereas the order seeks details of the children who were not dependant, the review petition says.

Pak minister alleges Muslim rights violations in EU but ignores her own country’s record


Shireen Mazari tells EU delegation about ‘human rights violations of Muslims’
Pakistan’s minister for human rights Shireen Mazari Tuesday told a European Union delegation, led by EU Ambassador to Pakistan Jean-Francois Cautian, that some European states have impinged on the basic rights of Muslims by restricting their right to freely practice religious rituals, reported Daily Pakistan.
Human rights activist Kashif N. Chaudhary Tuesday mocked the meeting in a tweet saying the EU ‘kept a straight face’ when briefed by Mazari. He highlighted that the minority Muslims in EU enjoyed ‘more rights and freedoms’ than ‘Constitutional Muslims’ in Pakistan.
I am glad the @EUCouncil delegation kept a straight face and resisted the urge to roll all over @ShireenMazari1's floor laughing. Kudos to them.

Muslims in Europe enjoy more rights & freedoms as a religious minority than 'Constitutional Muslims' of Pakistan enjoy as majority.
Naila Inayat, a journalist, also tweeted the hypocrisy in Mazari’s statements claiming she had no concerns over the human rights violations in her own country.
During the meeting, Mazari pushed for prompt action in this direction and asked the international community to not just put an end to the violations but also uphold their basic human rights as per the guidelines in the Human Rights European Convention.

Officials from the EU delegation included Human Rights Counselor Javeria Kabani, Political Councilor Frank-Olivier Roux, among others who attended the meeting along with a few Pakistan’s human rights ministry officials.

نواز شریف کو ہمیشہ ریلیف ملتا رہا،آج بھی مل گیا ، کائرہ

اسلام آباد ہائی کورٹ کے نوازشریف ،مریم نواز اور کیپٹن (ر) صفدر کی ایون فیلڈ ریفرنس میں ملی سزا کی معطلی کے فیصلے پر پیپلز پارٹی کا ردعمل بھی سامنے آگیا ۔

پیپلز پارٹی کے سینئر رہنما قمر زمان کائرہ نے کہا کہ نوازشریف کو تو ہمیشہ ریلیف ملتا رہا ہے آج بھی مل گیا ،عدالت کا فیصلہ ہے سب کو تسلیم کرنا ہوگا۔
انہوں نے مزید کہا کہ تفصیلی فیصلہ آئےگاتوپتہ چلےگاکن نکات پرریلیف دیاگیا،نوازشریف کومقدمےکاتوسامناکرناپڑےگا۔
پی پی رہنما نے یہ بھی کہا کہ نیب عدالت نےجب سزادی تھی تب ہی اندازہ تھا کہ ہائیکورٹ ضمانت دیدے گی ، نوازشریف کوتوہمیشہ ریلیف ملتارہاہے، آج بھی مل گیا۔
ان کا کہناتھاکہ کمزورانویسٹی گیشن کےباعث ہمیشہ طاقتوربچ جاتاہے۔

Martyrdom of Shaheed Murtaza Bhutto is an unforgettable chapter in history of democracy: Bilawal

Chairman Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari while paying rich tribute to Shaheed Mir Murtaza Bhutto on his 22nd martyrdom anniversary, said that the Bhutto Family has not seen justice done in courts to Bhutto Family in past twenty-two years.

He said that under a notorious scheme for toppling an elected democratic government, Shaheed Mir Murtaza Bhutto was martyred.
He said that the people are well aware of conspiracies against the Bhutto Family and that is why they have always remembered the martyrs of Gadhi Khuda Bux and defeated the forces of evil that have always acted against Pakistan.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that the martyrdom of Shaheed Mir Murtaza Bhutto is an unforgettable chapter in history of democracy and civilian supremacy in Pakistan and that the history is itself a judge.

Arson Spree at Schools Stokes Suspicions of Pakistani Forces

By Meher Ahmad
GILGIT-BALTISTAN, Pakistan — On a clear night last month, Shams al-Haq woke to the smell of smoke and the sight of the schoolhouse near his fruit farm going up in flames.
Mr. Haq and his neighbors spent hours fighting the fire until dawn, when it became a lost cause. They soon learned that it was one of 14 schools, most of them for girls, set ablaze on the same night, over just an hour in Gilgit-Baltistan, a mountainous territory stretching across northern Pakistan.
Once again, it seemed girls’ education in Pakistan was under assault by militants.
“The extremists have shown what frightens them most — a girl with a book,” tweeted Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel laureate and education advocate who as a young student was gravely wounded by Taliban gunmen six years ago in Swat, a nearby valley.
But since then, the easy explanation has come to look like only part of the story to some who live here. And as dozens of Pakistani soldiers moved into the area after the fires, many residents began considering new theories about who — and what — might have been behind the arson spree.
For one, the school that burned down near Mr. Haq’s farm had not been in use for at least five years — and there was an operational girls’ school just down the road that went untouched.
“If they were trying to make a point,” Mr. Haq said, “wouldn’t they attack that one?”
Several other schools that were attacked were similarly deserted. And all lie on the same corridor of mountains that has become one of the most strategically and economically important regions for Pakistan. The area is set to become home to some $20 billion worth of development projects by China, part of an estimated $68 billion infrastructure program known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or C.P.E.C.
“China gave us a big opportunity with C.P.E.C.,” Pakistan’s new prime minister, Imran Khan, said in his televised victory speech in July.
Security along the planned economic corridor has for years been a priority for the military, and the burned schools are all close to the locations of major C.P.E.C. infrastructure projects. That proximity has led some residents and security analysts here to wonder whether the only reason that Pakistani security forces surged here after the fires was to protect the economic interests.
Distrust and resentment of the military runs so deep that some speculated that Pakistani forces have used the fires as a pretext to start a broader crackdown within the economic development zone. One writer and academic, Aziz Ali Dad, said it is important to ask: Who has the most to gain from the military’s sudden presence? “Far worse attacks, many of them on schools, have happened in this area before, but no one was caught,” he said. “This time, we see next to no casualties and huge action. There must be pressure from inside the establishment.”
The military’s publicity wing has refused to comment on the situation. But the district police superintendent, Muhammad Ajmal, flatly denied theories that the army had somehow been involved, saying that the troops came only because the police needed help. “These are conspiracy theories. There’s no truth in them,” Superintendent Ajmal said. “The situation seems pretty clear: There’s a core group of bad guys, known terrorists who have been involved in this kind of stuff before. They paid locals by each school to set them on fire. Now they’ve retreated into the mountains. We’ve isolated them.” He added: “This group isn’t like the Taliban, in that they’re small and don’t possess the ability to exert their will over an entire community. So they do things like burning schools — small-scale attacks that get their message across.”
The local police quickly drew up a list of criminals and known extremists they could round up. In the days that followed, some of these extremists clashed with government forces, leaving three police officers dead. Two senior government officials were reported to have narrowly escaped retaliatory assassination attempts. Soon, the Karakorum Highway, the main artery running through the district, was lined with police and military checkpoints. Big army trucks became a common sight on the dusty roads. An all-out manhunt was declared with bounties on the suspected attackers and their collaborators.
Dozens of men were taken into custody, often without warrants. One school-bus driver said he believed his brother had been arrested simply because of his long hair, a trait associated with Islamist extremists here.
Given the strategic importance of Gilgit-Baltistan, episodes like the school attacks take on a geopolitical complexity, said Afzal Shigri, a former police chief from the area. “Because of the history this region has with India, with Kashmir, and now with C.P.E.C., there’s a lot of sensitivity to these issues here,” Mr. Shigri said. Local residents were worried about the influx of troops to an area that had no large army presence before. “It’s not that the army is coming, it’s that they’re already here,” said Mr. Haq, looking down the road to where the military recently set up a checkpoint. “They’re not going to leave now,” he said. “The system is set up that way.”
Conspiracy and mistrust have become steeped in the everyday culture in the villages and towns that line the mountain valleys, partly because the region sits on the fault lines of some of Pakistan’s most serious geopolitical issues.
To its west is Afghanistan, embroiled in a war in which Pakistan has large stakes. To the north is China, Pakistan’s economic lifeline. To the east is Kashmir, the heart of the dispute between Pakistan and India. The picturesque mountains around Gilgit-Baltistan are vulnerable to influence from all three, often in the shape of “agencies,” a local euphemism for informants and spies, both foreign and domestic. But there is another painful truth here, too. Regardless of any foreign intrigue, militants are still a problem and education remains a vulnerable spot. Of the schools that were attacked, the ones in use were islands of progress in a district struggling with education. It is ranked among the 10th lowest in all of Pakistan. Only 11 percent of women here are literate.
This wave of attacks brings a cloud of uncertainty back over families that were only just beginning to feel confident in their decision to educate their girls. The principal of one of the attacked schools, declining to be named after her office was targeted with a bomb that night, said that 10 years ago, or even just five, this kind of attack would have seemed all too normal. “I grew up here. I was one of the first women to finish my high school education,” she said. “In those days, I’d wrap myself up in a burqa just to get to school. My own brothers didn’t want me to study.”
But things are changing, she said. Even the most conservative mountain tribes are starting to send some of their daughters to classes. “They wouldn’t attack their own schools, for their own girls,” she said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”