Saturday, December 1, 2018

#YellowVests - Hundreds of arrests in Paris as ‘gilets jaunes’ protest turns violent

By Angelique Chrisafis
At least 100 people injured in street battles, with cars being torched and shops raided.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has insisted he will “never accept violence” after central Paris saw its worst unrest in a decade on Saturday when thousands of masked protesters fought running battles with police, torched cars, set fires to banks and houses, and burned makeshift barricades on the edges of demonstrations against fuel tax.
Near the Arc de Triomphe, one of Paris’s best-known monuments, masked men burned barricades, set fire to buildings, smashed fences and torched luxury cars on some of the most expensive streets in the city as riot police fired teargas and water cannon.
Then, by early evening, rioters spread around Paris in a game of cat and mouse with police. Luxury department stores on Boulevard Haussmann were evacuated as cars were set alight and windows smashed. Near the Louvre, metal grilles were ripped down at the Tuileries Garden where fires were started. On the Place Vendôme, a hub of luxury jewellery shops and designer stores, rioters smashed windows and built barricades.

A torched car on Rue de Rivoli.
 A torched car on Rue de Rivoli. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Anti-Macron graffiti was scrawled over the Arc de Triomphe near the tomb of the unknown soldier and protesters burst into the monument smashing up its lower floors before climbing on to the roof.
More than 250 people were arrested and at least 100 injured – including one protester who was in a serious condition on Saturday night – after the violence erupted on the margins of anti-fuel tax demonstrations held by the citizens’ protest movement known as the gilets jaunes (yellow vests).
Macron, who was attending the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, said he would lead an emergency meeting of senior government ministers after returning to Paris on Sunday morning. He said: “No cause justifies that security forces are attacked, shops pillaged, public or private buildings set on fire, pedestrians or journalists threatened or that the Arc de Triomphe is sullied.”
He said that the peaceful demonstrators – whose name derives from their fluorescent high-visibility jackets and who have been demonstrating against taxes for two weeks – had legitimate concerns and he would hear their anger. But he said their demonstrations across the country on Saturday had been infiltrated by violent rioters who would be brought to trial in court.
In Paris, the protest began early in on Saturday morning as peaceful gilets jaunes arrived at the Champs Élysées to stage a march. The spontaneous citizens’ movement began in mid-November in opposition to rising fuel taxes but it has shifted into a much broader anti-government and anti-Macron protest movement about inequality and poor living standards. Slogans on Saturday slammed the centrist, pro-business president as a symbol of an elite cut off from the people.

Riot police walk past burnt chairs and tables, during a protest of gilets jaunes (yellow vests).
 Riot police walk past burnt chairs and tables, during a protest of gilets jaunes (yellow vests). Photograph: Geoffroy van der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images
The gilets jaunes have significant support from the general public and are proving the biggest headache yet for Macron, who was taken by surprise by the anti-tax revolt and is struggling to quell it.
Saturday’s violence and shocking scenes of burning buildings, torched cars and flames rising on the smartest streets of central Paris present an even bigger challenge to the government, which fears being seen as unable to keep a lid on the unpredictable protests and the violence on its edges.
Authorities on Saturday stressed the difference between peaceful protesters who marched along some Paris streets on Saturday morning, singing and waving flags, and the violent clashes that followed.
About 5,000 gilets jaunes marched down the Champs Élysées at midday, some carrying roses, many shouting: “Macron, resign!” and singing the national anthem. The Champs Élysées was closed to cars and tightly monitored by police, with identity and bag checks taking place as shop workers boarded windows and dismantled outdoor terraces. But by early on Saturday afternoon the Arc de Triomphe was surrounded by masked protesters fighting running battles with police.
 The interior minister, Christophe Castaner, said thousands of troublemakers unconnected to the peaceful demonstrations had deliberately come to “pillage, smash, steal, wound and even kill”. He called them rioters who were “professionals at causing disorder”. Authorities suggested extreme-right and extreme-left militants were involved in the rioting. The interior minister said that by 8pm police had cleared most rioters from central Paris. Across France, more than 75,000 gilets jaunes demonstrated in cities or blocked roads and toll booths, some briefly stormed the runway of Nantes airport and others blocked supermarkets and major motorway junctions or staged barricades near government buildings. There were 580 roadblocks across the country. In the past two weeks, hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken similar action, complaining that Macron’s pro-business fuel tax policy was unfair and that people in low-income jobs could not make ends meet. “The yellow vests will triumph,” was daubed across the facade of the 19th-century Arc de Triomphe monument in large black letters – and greeted with condemnation from politicians. Many gilets jaunes protesters spoke out against the violent skirmishes on the edge of the demonstrations.

“What message do the yellow vests want to pass today? That we set France on fire, or find solutions? I find this [violence] absurd,” Jacline Mouraud, a prominent activist within the movement, told BFM television.
However, another protester said: “The government is not listening. Revolution cannot happen without violence.”
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the head of the leftwing France Insoumise party, described the protests as “a process of citizens’ revolution”.
Macron said last week that he understood the anger people felt over the rise in fuel tax. He promised three months of national talks on how to transform France into a low-carbon economy without penalising people on low incomes who had to drive to work.
But government attempts to negotiate with the movement have not calmed the protests.
“We want our dignity back and we want to be able to live from our work, which is absolutely not the case today,” Jason Herbert, a spokesman for the movement, said after walking out of talks with the prime minister, Édouard Philippe, on Friday.
Hundreds of people have been injured and two people have been killed in car accidents since the protests began on 17 November. Polls continue to show that the demonstrations are supported by most French people. The protests have also spawned copycat demonstrations in Belgium. 

#YellowVests - ‘Yellow Vest’ Protests Escalate in Violence, and France Scrambles to Respond

    A third week of anti-government protests intensified in violence on Saturday, as demonstrators burned cars, smashed windows and confronted riot police firing tear gas in the heart of Paris in the most serious crisis of President Emmanuel Macron’s administration.
    The ‘‘Yellow Vest’’ protests — spurred by an increase in the gasoline tax, and named for the roadside safety vests worn by the demonstrators — have emerged as a spontaneous outcry over declining living standards.
    Diffuse, seemingly leaderless and organized over the internet, they have drawn deepening and widespread support around the country, where other demonstrations were held on Saturday. Many were peaceful though others were violent, as in the town of Le Puy-en-Velay, where protesters briefly set fire to a local prefecture.
    But it was in Paris that the protests took a more sinister turn as they were joined by extremists on the left and right, along with anarchists, all seeking to capitalize on the simmering discontent. The violence crossed a new threshold for the Macron administration, and raised alarm even in a country where organized protest is commonplace.
    Even if mostly perpetrated by vandals who have now latched on to the movement, the symbolism of the day’s violence was powerful. A modern-day peasants’ and workers’ revolt against a president increasingly disdained for his regal remove turned the country’s richest boulevards and most prominent landmarks into veritable war zones.
    Confrontations between the police and demonstrators, alongside the professional vandals called “casseurs” by the French, spread to several of the city’s most famous sites including Concorde and Trocadero. Overturned cars, some in flames, burned in parts of the 1st arrondissement and the 8th arrondissement, even far from the Champs-Élysées.
    Inside the Tuileries Gardens, a car burned in front of the Orangerie. On one side of the burning car was a mass of Yellow Vests and casseurs, and on the other a line of riot police, at the Place de la Concorde end of the Tuileries. The demonstrators moved forward and the police responded with a volley of tear gas, scattering the Yellow Vests and the vandals. On the other side of the Rue de Rivoli from the Tuileries, several store windows had been smashed in, including at the high-end clothing store Zadig & Voltaire.
    By nightfall, major thoroughfares were covered in broken glass and the smell of tear gas mixed with the smoke from the burning cars. Some 100 people had been injured, including one who was in a coma after being hit by a railing that was torn down by protesters near the Tuileries; 268 people had been arrested, according to the police.
    It did not help that Mr. Macron was 7,000 miles away in Buenos Aires for the Group of 20 economic summit meeting. Even there, the outburst could not be dismissed or ignored, as his government has mostly tried to do over the past few weeks.‘‘What happened today in Paris has nothing to do with the peaceful expression of legitimate anger,” said Mr. Macron, who returns Sunday to Paris. “Nothing justifies attacking the security forces, vandalizing businesses, either private or public ones, or that passers-by or journalists are threatened, or the Arc de Triomphe defaced.”
    Protesters sprayed graffiti on the Arc de Triomphe that read “Yellow Vests Will Triumph,” and were able to enter and reach the top, vandalizing the permanent exhibition housed inside.
    Prime Minister Édouard Philippe made a point of distinguishing between those who had come prepared to fight the police and those with whom the government was willing to talk.“We are attached to freedom of expression, but also to respect for the law,” said Mr. Philippe, who canceled a planned trip to a climate conference in Poland because of the violence. “I am shocked by the violence of such a symbol of France,” he said, referring to the clashes around the Arc de Triomphe.Yet it was two weeks into the protests before the government, which had been giving the demonstrators a cold shoulder, agreed to meet with them. Earlier, government officials had offered to increase subsidies for buying fuel-efficient cars and installing less-polluting home heating systems, but the protesters indicated that was insufficient since many do not have enough money to buy even a subsidized car.

    Mr. Philippe then called a meeting with Yellow Vest representatives for Nov. 30. However, since the movement has no leader or even really any representatives, it was unclear whom he invited. The result was that only two Yellow Vests showed up at Mr. Philippe’s official residence at Matignon, a grand house in Paris’ chic 7th arrondissement. The meeting was “interesting, frank and respectful,” Mr. Philippe said, adding that his door remained open. But the open door was undercut by other ministers who publicly said there would be no backing down on the government’s new gas taxes or its overall program. The good-cop, bad-cop approach did not go over well. A large group of Yellow Vests in Paris marched peacefully with a banner that said, “Macron, Stop Taking Us for Stupid People.”
    Asked if this referred to the government’s mixed messages, one of the marchers who was holding the edge of the banner said: “Of course. Who does he think we are?” A Yellow Vest representative from Indres, a department in the center of France, who was interviewed on BFM, a French television network, said that Mr. Macron had to take drastic steps to quell the unrest, “recognizing that this is a serious moment for our country.”
    The problem the government faces is that different factions of the Yellow Vests have different demands. While they all want a better standard of living, some are furious at Mr. Macron for what they see as unjust tax policies that help the rich but do nothing for the poor, and they want him out of office. Others are more focused on raising the minimum wage and reducing social security payments for those of modest means.Added to that is the reality that many who say they are supportive have not yet come out to demonstrate. While it is possible that this reservoir of supporters will not become activists, if they did the government would be hard put to cope.Even on Saturday, the protesters managed to sustain a cat-and-mouse game with police, leaving the Arc de Triomphe when it was being sprayed with tear gas and water cannons, but popping up elsewhere in the city to spread havoc.
    For now, however, Mr. Macron sees mainly disadvantages to trying to strike a deal with protesters.
    “Emmanuel Macron regards the presidents of the republic who preceded him as having failed in their reform projects because they gave in to the pressure of the street,” said Gérard Noiriel, a historian at the School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences.

    “He thinks that this movement, which effectively rallied fewer than 300,000 participants at its first protest and fewer than 80,000 today,” Mr. Noiriel said, “is going to weaken more and more and that the violence of the casseurs is going to discredit the Yellow Vests in public opinion.”
    The problem, said Bernard Sananès, president of Elabe, a French polling organization, is that “there are two Frances.”
    “One is a France that feels left behind and moving down” the socioeconomic ladder, he said in an interview on Saturday on BFMTV.
    A study released this past week by the Jean-Jaurès Institute, a public policy think tank, said: “In the past, these people could have given themselves some outings and entertainment; today those little ‘extras’ are out of reach.”
    Multiple surveys of public opinion released in the past week suggest that 70 percent to 80 percent of French people sympathize with the Yellow Vests’ contention that President Emmanuel Macron and his government “talks about the end of the world while we are talking about the end of the month.” The slogan refers to Mr. Macron’s focus on reducing climate change by promoting fuel efficiency and raising gas taxes in contrast to French working people who struggle to make it to the end of their month on their earnings. The Yellow Vests draw their constituency from the majority of French who have watched their take-home pay increasingly fall behind their cost of living. Still, the French are considerably better off than those in Eastern Europe, according to Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics arm.
    The median disposable income for a person in a French household was 1,700 euros a month, about $1,923, in 2016, the most recent year for which statistics are available, according to Insee, the French government’s statistics agency.
    Disposable income reflects the amount left for workers to spend on their daily needs — housing, food, schooling, clothes — after paying income taxes and payroll taxes and making adjustments for any government subsidies for which they might be eligible.
    Often the only way to rein in costs has been to move to the exurbs of major cities, where real estate prices are much lower, but where workers generally must rely on a car to get to work and for errands. Cars need gas and so any gas tax increase hits them. Taxes have also risen on tobacco and other goods.For rural workers and those who live in distant small villages in the heart of France, a car is even more clearly a necessity.Centrist politicians, even some who support Mr. Macron, are beginning to push for a more engaged response from the government.
    “You can’t govern against the people,” said François Bayrou, the leader of the Moderate Democrats, who are partners with Mr. Macron’s La Republique En Marche party in an interview on Europe 1.
    Mr. Bayrou said he was not sure of the answer, but the government can’t keep “adding taxes on top of taxes.”

    Video Report - #YellowVests - Police deploy tear gas as 'Yellow Vest' protest in Paris turns violent

    Video Report - #YellowVests - Violent protests erupt in Paris; dozens injured

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    Former President Bill and former first lady Hillary Clinton statement on George H.W. Bush's death

    Former President Bill and former first lady Hillary Clinton: Hillary and I mourn the passing of President George H.W. Bush, and give thanks for his great long life of service, love, and friendship. I will be forever grateful for the friendship we formed. From the moment I met him as a young governor invited to his home in Kennebunkport, I was struck by the kindness he showed to Chelsea, by his innate and genuine decency, and by his devotion to Barbara, his children, and their growing brood.

    Few Americans have been—or will ever be—able to match President Bush's record of service to the United States and the joy he took every day from it; from his military service in World War II, to his work in Congress, the United Nations, China, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Vice Presidency and the Presidency, where he worked to move the post Cold War world toward greater unity, peace, and freedom. He never stopped serving. I saw it up close, working with him on tsunami relief in Asia and here at home after Hurricane Katrina. His remarkable leadership and great heart were always on full display.
    I am profoundly grateful for every minute I spent with President Bush and will always hold our friendship as one of my life's greatest gifts. Our hearts and prayers are with George, Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro, their families, and the entire Bush clan.
    Hillary Clinton: George H.W. Bush was a beloved father (and) grandfather, a war hero, a public servant, (and) a class act. In my experiences (with) him, I always valued his desire to listen, look at evidence (and) ask for ideas, even from people (with) different beliefs. My heart goes out to the entire Bush family.

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    #Pakistan - #Punjab - Problem in #Kasur - Sex trafficking,Child Sexual Abuse, Rape

    Every few months, a horrific instance of human trafficking or child molestation in Kasur is brought to light, indicating that the problems of sexual exploitation revealed by the Child Sexual Abuse Scandal of 2015 revealed, has still not been properly addressed and countered.
    On Thursday, two minor girls, aged twelve years and three years, were rescued from a sex trafficking ring in Kasur. The Pattoki police arrested four people, including three women, in neighbourhood Sharifpura for buying the minor girls for prostitution purposes. The police, with the help of Child Protection and Welfare Bureau (CPWB) officials, raided two dens and rescued the minor girls. A case has been lodged under sections 371-B (buying person for the purpose of prostitution) and 511 (offences punishable with imprisonment for life) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and section 34 of The Punjab Destitute and Neglected Children Act.
    The fact that this is not the first instance of child trafficking and prostitution rings found in Kasur reveals that whatever lessons the country learned from the past outrageous scandals have not been enough. The Kasur Child Sexual Abuse Scandal in 2015 was the first to shed a light upon the range of illegal and horrendous activities that were occurring in some parts of Kasur- the horrific details of the case prompted massive outcry. Yet for at least four years, no visible justice was seen to be done, as the perpetrators seem to have gotten scot-free because of the government’s massive silence. The Zainab murder case brought attention back to the looming issue of child sexual abuse in Kasur and prompted a nationwide conversation on how to tackle the issues of child abuse and raise awareness for minors’ rights. Some of the suspects in the 2015 Kasur scandal were handed life sentences and the platform seemed one of change.
    Yet this recent case proves there is still a long way to go to encounter these monsters of child trafficking and slavery. A commission into child abuse, set up following the Kasur case, found that in the first six months of 2015, 577 cases of child sexual abuse were reported in Punjab. There needs to be special attention dedicated to this phenomena- with so many task forces being made, the Human Rights Ministry should look into constituting a task force to investigate trafficking and sexual abuse as well.

    EDITORIAL - Social protection - Pakistan one of least big spenders when it comes to social protection, education and healthcare.

    The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP) published an important report this week. It is one that ranks Pakistan as one of least big spenders when it comes to social protection, education and healthcare.
    Social Outlook for Asia and the Pacific: Poorly Protected places this country in the South and South-West Asia (SSWA) bracket that includes India, Afghanistan and Iran. The (relatively) good news in that during the 1990-2013 period, Pakistan lifted some 49 million people out of poverty. Naturally, much more needs to be done. As a low-income income country, the largest deprivation is defined as lack of access to bank accounts; out of reach for 73 percent of households. In neighbouring India, by contrast, it is secondary education. Pakistan’s largest group of poor comprises rural, uneducated parents without full-time jobs; accounting for 36 percent of the total poor population. Within this category: 98 percent have children; just 4 percent have any kind of secondary education under their belt; zero percent have gone on to tertiary education; 76 percent have no full-time employment; and 9 percent are from religious minority backgrounds. Almost all who fall within this group live in rural areas and are married. Unsurprisingly, there is a gender imbalance: with more women (57 percent) than men (43 percent) making up the total.
    Closing income gaps is imperative; particularly for the bottom 40 percent. In fact, levelling this requires targeted substantial income growth for the latter. Yet as things currently stand, ESCAP estimates (if growth rates remain constant) that it would take Pakistan more than 150 years to overcome this differential. Thereby underscoring the urgency of the current situation. By 2030, this country is expected to see an additional one million people living below $5.50 per day. This cannot go on. For social protection is one of the major driving engines of economic growth in terms of GDP per capita. And, of course, being free from poverty is, of course, a fundamental human right.
    Thus the findings and recommendations of the ESCAP report offer a timely blueprint of sorts for the next five years and beyond; to the 2030 deadline for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). And this is what the PTI government ought to be focusing on. The 100-day-record is all well and good when it comes to demonstrating ongoing intent. But as we, here at this newspaper, have previously argued — it allows the both opposition and the Centre to squander precious time on the blame-game.
    What is required now are facts and figures. And how a potential IMF loan, say, will redirect funds towards social protection when the country is already suffering severe cuts to development budgets across the board as a means of stalling the balance of payments crisis. The same holds true on the Saudi and Chinese bailout fronts.  Prime Minister Imran Khan has repeatedly contended that CPEC will contribute massively to socio-economic development. And while this is undoubtedly true — exclusive focus on infrastructure and trade routes at this critical juncture will be a disastrous misstep. For the latter must go hand-in-hand with social protection if there is to be any hope of a meaningful trickle-down effect.
    In short, nothing less than a comprehensive plan for the next five years will do. For the IMF and FATF are not only interested in Pakistan’s commitment to confronting terrorism and money-laundering. The PTI must be able to provide assurances that strengthening the social safety net for all is the unequivocal priority. After all, that is the mandate on which it was elected.

    Populism, religious zealotry, social media: the unholy trinity that made a lawless mess of #Pakistan

    By Kevin Rafferty

    • Kevin Rafferty says the blasphemy case against Asia Bibi is an emblem of a Pakistan that has broken its founding father’s promise of safety for people of all faiths, and a nation that has lost its way.
    When Pakistan’s highest court acquitted Aasiya Noreen, also known as Asia Bibi, of a false charge of blasphemy, some naive commentators hailed the judgment as a harbinger of hope for a freer Pakistan.
     The judges ordered that Bibi, a poor Catholic farm labourer who had spent eight years on death row, be released immediately. But Muslim extremists reacted to her acquittal by threatening to bring Pakistan to a bloody halt and demanding that she be put to death, whatever the evidence.
    Imran Khan’s government caved in to the mob, put Bibi on an exit-control list to stop her leaving the country, and allowed a review of the court’s acquittal. She is in a – supposedly – safe place, but extremists are going house to house hunting her family members.
    Pakistan is a potentially rich country that has become an unholy lawless mess through the combined evil forces of populism, religious zealotry and mob rule.
    Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan’s founding father whose photograph hangs proudly in all government offices, promised that all people, of whatever religion, would be safe. He decreed: “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”
    But Jinnah died from tuberculosis within 13 months of independence. Squabbling politicians tried to keep a government together until generals took over in 1958. I first encountered Pakistan just before the country fell prey to modern populist religious savagery. It was a time of opportunity, of elections to restore democracy from discredited generals.
    The army’s slothful response to the terrible Bhola cyclone, which struck East Pakistan in 1970 and killed half a million people, gave an overwhelming victory in the national elections to the Awami League, a party based in the East. But West Pakistanis’ contempt for Bengalis in the East led to a government crackdown, a disgraceful defeat for the Pakistani military at the hands of India, and ultimately, the creation of an independent Bangladesh from East Pakistan.
    West Pakistan, now Pakistan, was taken over by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who had swept to power promising “food, clothing and shelter” for all. He could have become a great reconciler, admitting defeat, cutting the military down to size, making proper peace with India, and throwing his energies into building on the assets of this historic land to forge a new tiger economy. But he did not.
    He played the populist card, promising reforms and land for all; nationalising leading industries and banks for the people; decreeing universal, free education; bashing the fat cats of Pakistan’s 22 richest families. But there was no follow-through. He chose ministers, badly, for their loyalty, not competence, while he devoted himself to bringing down new opponents.
    When Bhutto felt his popularity slipping, he cynically played the Islam card – developing an “Islamic bomb” to appeal for Arab money and outflank a growing number of Muslim parties. He overrode army seniority and Zia ul-Haq as army chief, mistakenly believing that Zia would be blindly loyal.How wrong: Zia overthrew Bhutto, imprisoned him, and had him hanged. Zia then trumped Bhutto’s Islam card, encouraging madrassas and the influence of Salafist Islamic doctrines from Saudi Arabia; ensuring that the military, bureaucracy and judiciary were dominated by Islamic purists; and tightening laws, including against blasphemy, to ensure an Islamic state, in defiance of Jinnah’s promises.
    After Zia’s death in an aircraft crash in 1988, Pakistan’s march of Islam continued with generals and politicians vying for the spoils of power. Social media, featuring attacks on religious minorities, encouraged outbursts of mob rule. Christians with the wherewithal left; the poor ones, like Asia Bibi, had no such recourse.
    In its verdict, the Supreme Court said the sisters who had accused Bibi of insulting the Prophet “had no regard for the truth”. The verdict ended with a quote from Hadith, in which Mohammed calls for non-Muslims to be treated kindly.
    That was not good enough for the Islamic mob, whose leaders called for the deaths of the judges, as well as Bibi. This is the toxic state of affairs in Pakistan, the world’s ninth-biggest arms importer and a nation that, in spite of massive doses of aid from the World Bank, China and the US, languishes in 135th place in terms of per capita income.

    Chinese Consulate Attack Puts Pakistan Between Rock And Hard Place – Analysis

    By James M. Dorsey
     Two attacks in Pakistan, including a brazen assault on the Chinese consulate in Karachi, are likely to complicate prime minister Imran Khan’s efforts to renegotiate China’s massive, controversial Belt and Road investments as well as an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout and ensure that Pakistan is shielded from blacklisting by an international anti-money laundering and terrorism finance watchdog.
    The attack on the consulate by three members of the Balochistan Liberation Army, a militant nationalist group seeking what it terms self-determination for the troubled, resource-rich, sparsely populated Pakistani province that constitutes the heartland of China’s US$45 billion investment and the crown jewel of its infrastructure and energy generation-driven Belt and Road initiative.
    With Pakistan teetering on the edge of a financial crisis, Mr. Khan has been seeking financial aid from friendly countries like China, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as well as a bailout from the IMF.
    Responding to widespread criticism of Chinese investment terms that go beyond Baloch grievances, Mr. Khan is seeking to renegotiate the Chinese terms as well as the priorities of what both countries have dubbed the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that will link the crucial Baloch port of Gwadar with China’s troubled north-western province of Xinjiang, the scene of a brutal crackdown on Turkic Muslims.
    Mr. Khan last month bought some relief by attending Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s showcase investors conference in Riyadh, dubbed Davos in the Desert, that was being shunned by numerous CEOs of Western financial institutions, tech entrepreneurs and media moguls as well as senior Western government officials because of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
    However, Mr. Khan’s visit to Beijing earlier this month was less conclusive. Despite lofty words and the signing of a raft of agreements, Mr. Khan’s visit failed to produce any immediate cash relief with China insisting that more talks were needed.
    China signalled its irritation at Mr. Khan’s declared intention to pressure China to change the emphasis of CPEC by sending only its transportation minister to receive the prime minister upon his arrival.
    Amid criticism of CPEC by Baloch activists who charge that the province’s local population has no stake in the project and members of the business community who chafe at China importing materials needed for projects from China rather than purchasing them locally and largely employing Chinese rather than Pakistani nationals, Mr. Khan only elicited vague promises for his demand that the focus of CPEC on issues such as job creation, manufacturing and agriculture be fast forwarded.
    China’s refusal to immediately bail Pakistan out has forced Mr. Khan to turn to the IMF for help. The IMF, backed by the United States, has set tough conditions for a bailout, including complete disclosure of Chinese financial support.
    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned in July that any potential IMF bailout should not provide funds to pay off Chinese lenders. US Pakistani relations dived this week with President Donald J. Trump and Mr. Khan trading barbs on Twitter.
    The attack on the consulate coupled with Saudi Arabia’s financial support is likely to fuel long-standing Chinese concerns that Pakistan has yet to get a grip on political violence in the country. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in response to the attack that China had asked Pakistan to step up security. Pakistan has a 15,000-man force dedicated to protecting Chinese nationals and assets.
    The attack together with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa bombing not only signals a recent spike in political violence in Pakistan but also comes against the backdrop of increased incidents involving Iran’s Kurdish, Iranian Arab and Baloch minorities.
    Earlier this month, Pakistan said it had rescued five of 12 abducted Iranian border guards, saying efforts to recover the other captives are ongoing. An anti-Iran Sunni Muslim militant organization, Jaish al-Adl or Army of Justice, kidnapped the guards a month ago in the south-eastern Iranian border city of Mirjaveh and took them to the Pakistani side of the porous frontier between the two countries.
    The attack on the consulate as well as the bombing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are likely to increase pressure from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international anti-money laundering and terrorism finance watchdog, and its Asian counterpart, the Asia Pacific Group (APG) to strengthen Pakistani compliance with international best practices.
    An APG delegation expressed its dissatisfaction with Pakistani compliance in October and said it would report its findings to FATF by the end of this month. FATF put Pakistan on a grey list in February, a prelude to blacklisting if the country fails to clean up its act. Blacklisting could potentially derail Pakistan’s request for IMF assistance.
    In sum, this week’s attacks put Pakistan between a rock and a hard place. Countering militancy has proven difficult, if not impossible, given the deep-seated links between government, political parties and militants, a web that includes Mr. Khan and many of his associates.

    Terrorism That Pakistan Must Eradicate – OpEd

    While so many acts of terrorism have taken place on Pakistan soil in the last few years killing many people including more than 60 innocent school children, the present terrorist attack on Chinese Consulate is wake up call, that indicate that Pakistan government can not any more fail to tackle this grave menace ,which is virtually threatening the stability of the country and creating deep frustration amongst the country men. Rightly or wrongly, due to repeated acts of terrorism on Pakistan soil, the world now views Pakistan as a country where the terrorists have a free run and government unable to wipe them out.
    Nothing can be more humiliating for any country , than a situation when most countries in the world refuse to send their sportsmen to play in Pakistan ,fearing terrorist attack. Pakistan is now facing an unenviable situation that Pakistan cricketers have to go to a third country like Dubai to play their matches against overseas team. Certainly, Pakistanis living in Pakistan and outside Pakistan in different countries should be feeling extremely sad and depressed about such state of affairs.
    Whether Pakistan government would admit or not, the fact is that Islamic religious groups with extreme ideas are using Pakistan as a spring board to enforce their ideas, adopting violence as a way of life. Obviously, such extremist groups are not numerically large compared to overall population of Pakistan and large section of citizens of Pakistan do not approve them.
    While Pakistan government has been repeatedly asserting that it is fighting terrorism on it’s soil and chief of army staff in Pakistan earlier promised that terrorists would be wiped out, many wonder as to why extremists indulging in acts of terrorism in Pakistan remain unchallenged to such an extent. US President Trump has now openly said that the government of Pakistan is not doing enough to put down the terrorists .
    Afghanistan and India are two neighbouring countries which have been continuously blaming Pakistan of allowing its soil to be used by the terrorists to create unrest and disturbance in their countries.
    In the case of Kashmir in India, Pakistan has not concealed it’s readiness to encourage and support those who are termed by Pakistan government as liberators of Kashmir and Indian government as terrorists, to operate from it’s soil to create unrest in Kashmir.
    Pakistan is certainly now at cross roads, as it is facing extremely difficult economic conditions on the one hand and facing terrorism on it’s soil ,while Pakistan government is being accused of encouraging terrorism in neighbouring countries. It is necessary for Pakistan government realize that this sort of scenario cannot continue anymore, as it is causing serious harm to the future interest of Pakistan itself.
    The recent accord between India and Pakistan to build the required infrastructure for visa free direct travel by Sikh pilgrims in India to Pakistan’s Kartarpur Saheb Gurudwara to mark the 550 birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Day in November 2019, gives a glimpse of hope. It is good to hear a Pakistani minister hailing this accord as “victory of peace lobbies” in both India and Pakistan.
    Pakistan has now a new Prime Minister, who is struggling hard to face the impending economic crisis in Pakistan by seeking loan from Saudi Arabia, China, Malaysia and International Monetary Fund. During the visit to these countries, Pakistan Prime Minister has been urging the investors to invest in Pakistan and also claiming that Pakistan is a place of high tourist attraction in view of it’s several natural and historical endowments.
    The pre condition for Pakistan Prime Minister to drive Pakistan in the path of prosperity and progress is to ensure that Pakistan would not only fight and destroy the terrorists but also appear to do so in the eyes of the world. It cannot do this by fighting terrorism on it’s soil and directly or indirectly encouraging terrorists in neighbouring countries
    Pakistan Prime Minister should clearly realize that Pakistan is in cross roads and it is up to him to take Pakistan in the right path, which is possible only if Pakistan’s commitment to wipe out terrorism in letter and spirit in Pakistan and elsewhere is total and complete.
    Pakistanis deserve better and Pakistan Prime Minister can meet their well justified expectation by ensuring conditions of all round peace.