Sunday, December 9, 2018

Music Video - Taylor Swift - Style

#YellowVests #giletsjaunes - #France - - France protests: Businesses lose more than $1.5bn

Video - #YellowVests #giletsjaunes - #France - #Macron under pressure after fresh 'yellow vest' protests

Video - YellowVests #France #LesGiletsJaunes Woman violently dragged by French cop during Yellow Vests protest in Lyon

- #YellowVests #LesGiletsJaunes #France asks Trump to stop meddling in its domestic affairs

U.S. President Donald Trump should not meddle in French affairs, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Sunday after Trump criticized France in two tweets following riots in Paris.
Anti-government protesters faced off with riot police in Paris and other French cities on Saturday, hurling stones, torching cars and vandalising shops and restaurants in a fourth weekend of unrest that has shaken President Emmanuel Macron’s authority.
“The Paris Agreement isn’t working out so well for Paris. Protests and riots all over France,” Trump wrote on his Twitter account on Saturday.
“People do not want to pay large sums of money, much to third world countries (that are questionably run), in order to maybe protect the environment. Chanting “We Want Trump!” Love France,” Trump wrote.
Le Drian said on LCI television: “The yellow vest demonstration was not protesting in English, as far as I know.”
He said that images published in the United States with people chanting “We want Trump” were filmed during a Trump visit to London several months ago.
In a separate tweet, Trump also said: “Very sad day & night in Paris. Maybe it’s time to end the ridiculous and extremely expensive Paris Agreement and return money back to the people in the form of lower taxes? The U.S. was way ahead of the curve on that and the only major country where emissions went down last year!”
Le Drian said the French government does not comment on American politics and that this should work both ways.
“I say to Donald Trump, and the President of the Republic tells him too: we do not take part in American debates, let us live our life in our country,” he said.
Le Drian also said that most Americans disagreed with Trump over his decision to walk away from the 2015 Paris climate agreement.


#Pakistan - World cannot afford to ignore HR violations, says Bilawal Bhutto on #HumanRightsDay

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that international community cannot afford to ignore violations of human rights anywhere in the world and urged upon them to play their role in protecting inalienable rights of every human being.
In his message on the eve of Human Rights Day being observed worldwide tomorrow, the PPP Chairman said that upholding human rights was the only way this planet can have peace and prosperity in a cohesive environment.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari further said that despotic regimes and their puppet rulers were posing semiring threats to the protection of human rights adding that only democratic order can save societies infested with human inequalities and low respect to human rights. “Today the humanity is in core need of respect and recognition of their rights, which are being violated everywhere in the world, particularly in countries where the people are ruled over by authoritarians and or where the democracy is controlled,” he added.
PPP Chairman pointed out that his Party has always promoted and protected the human rights and its struggle for the cause has no match among any other political parties of the country. Prime Minister Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto established Human Rights Ministry in Pakistan for the first time while Sindh led by PPP set-up Human Rights Department, first-ever in any province of the country. He further recalled that PPP government has also commissioned a powerful Sindh Human Rights Commission for the purpose.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari pledged that his Party will continue to struggle for the basic human rights of every citizen without any discrimination and will vehemently condemn any violations in the country as well as the world over.

Afrasiab Khattak's Interview - “We are at a point of inter-generational transition”

“Political workers can be unfairly expelled from a political party but they can’t be expelled from politics. We shall steadfastly continue struggle against all forms of oppression, suppression & exploitation,” says a November 12, 2018 tweet by Afrasiab Khattak, in response to a recent decision of his party concerning his own expulsion. He is a leftwing politician, former senator and ex-provincial president of the Awami National Party. TNSinterviews the senior politician with years of struggle for human rights and parliamentary democracy to know his views about the current state of politics, security concerns and foreign policy.
The News on Sunday: How do you look at the current political scenario, especially in terms of political parties as institutions as well as the freedoms allowed to civil society? Where are we headed?
Afrasiab Khattak: We have seen growing pressure on the democratic system from anti-democratic forces over the last few years. Expansion of de facto at the cost of de jure has been the hallmark of the pre and post-election political developments in the country during the current year. The trend is also reflected in new curbs on freedom of expression which is the mother of all democratic freedoms.
Efforts at undermining the effective role of political parties have been accompanied by hounding of NGOs and making a mockery of the autonomy of university campuses. The aim to impose authoritarian narrative under the guise of patriotism is to eliminate alternative narratives and dissent. Unfortunately, most of the political parties have failed to stand up to the authoritarian onslaught against freedom of expression.
The aggressive campaign of selective accountability has effectively been used to silence the traditional political elite. Except PTM (Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement), there is no sign of politics of resistance. Actually, political parties as institutions have been considerably weakened not just by state repression but also by their own internal degeneration. For any meaningful change in the country parties will have to start from internal sociopolitical reforms to develop the capacity to push back this creeping fascism. Dynastic and patronage politics will have to be replaced by democratic practices and meritocracy to strengthen political parties and to develop a democratic culture.
TNS: How do you look at the Pashtuns’ concerns which are articulated somewhat in Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement and yet the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa massively voted for Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf. If the two represent divergent thoughts, where does the ANP stand?
AK: The four decades long military conflict in Afghanistan has left a devastating impact on Pashtuns on both sides of the Durand Line. The colossal losses in terms of human lives, properties and culture are debilitating. There is a growing realisation among Pashtuns about the fraud imposed on them in the name of Jihad by big powers and local players. They feel that they were used as cannon fodder in the not so great games. They think that religious extremism and militancy was injected into their body politic for deconstruction of their historical and cultural identity. Since the former FATA was the epicentre of this war, Pashtuns of this area bore the brunt of the destruction. Sandwiched between the army and the militants these people have suffered the most.
Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement is the non-violent political uprising against war and tyranny. Unfortunately, the traditional nationalist political parties failed in raising effective voice against the forces bringing war, destruction and oppression. Traditional nationalist organisations also failed to respond to the significant socio historical changes in society.
For example, youth bulge is a demographic reality. We are at a point of inter-generational transition. My generation has played its inning. The driving seat belongs to young leaders now. Similarly, the ever expanding urbanisation and the rise of new middle classes can be ignored by political parties at their own peril. Landed gentry is a spent force. So, traditional nationalist organisations will either go for introspection and change or will face irrelevance. PTI is the beneficiary of both the political engineering by the deep state recently experienced in Pakistani politics and also the failure of traditional nationalist organisations.
The 18th amendment has definitely annoyed the circles in the federation who were in the habit of dipping their hand in the federal kitty to take out as much as they would like.
TNS: What is the role of women in ANP? Who represents the female face of the party after Bushra Gohar?
AK: Bacha Khan, the founder of the modern Pashtun nationalist movement in the 20th century was first and foremost a social reformer. Apart from preaching non-violence he also focused on spreading education and social equality. He actually redefined and modernised Pashtunwali, the traditional tribal way of life. Bacha Khan underlined the significance of educating girls and the inclusion of women in politics. ANP has that legacy and in the recent years included women in mainstream organisational structure rather than going for tokenism in the name of women wing.
But the deeply-entrenched patriarchy hampers such efforts and we experienced resistance against inclusion of women in decision-making bodies. Yes, Bushra Gohar proved her mettle inside and outside the parliament as a political stalwart. Luckily, we have had Jamila Gilani and a number of other women political activists and leaders. Let’s hope they are given the space they deserve. That will be one of the factors deciding the future of Pashtun nationalist organisations.
TNS: At the Faiz Festival in Lahore, you referred to the foreign policy challenges faced by Pakistan. The region is in the grip of terrorist attacks once again. Would you like to dwell on it a little?
AK: Foreign policy of a country, as we know, is the reflection of its internal policy. Pakistan’s economic dependence on other countries has been the most formidable hurdle on the path of adopting an independent foreign policy.
The rise of religious extremism and militancy in the country has comprehensively derailed Pakistani internal and external policies. Before Zia’s martial law, Pakistan was well known for its good quality cotton exports in the world. But afterwards it has been regarded as hub of terrorism. This negative perception has resulted in international isolation of the country.
It’s scary to see the myopia in Pakistan’s Afghan policy. The resurgence of Taliban in Afghanistan will definitely lead to their resurgence in Pakistan as well. It’s strange that the movers and shakers of the country’s Afghan policy haven’t learnt any lesson from the not-so-old experience. Those who are gloating over Pakistan’s role in bringing Taliban to the negotiations don’t see the fact that by doing so Pakistan formally accepts its role as patron of Taliban who are known to have hosted the most dangerous international terror networks.
The possibility of getting sucked into Middle Eastern conflict is yet another serious challenge. The recent abduction of Iranian security guards by militants operating from Pakistani soil reflects the magnitude of the threat.
Achieving normal relationship with neighbours should be the top priority which can be achieved by paying attention to geo-economic rather than getting bogged down in geo-strategic.
TNS: Do you see an insidious campaign against the 18th Constitutional Amendment by some sections of the government and establishment? What is the significance of this amendment for the federation?
AK: The insidious campaign against the 18th Constitutional Amendment is the continuation of attack on the constitutional order that started with the dissolution of the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan in 1954 by Governor General Ghulam Mohammad. Pakistan got disintegrated in the process in 1971 but no lessons are learnt. The federal democratic system shaped by the 1973 Constitution was never accepted by the anti-democratic forces. The two martial laws that followed the promulgation of the 1973 Constitution imposed serious distortions and deformations on it with the aim of replacing the federal character of the Constitution with a unitary one and the parliamentary system with a presidential one.
The 18th Amendment tried to restore the original 1973 Constitution by eliminating the aforementioned distortions and deformations. The chapter on human rights has been strengthened by the addition of three more fundamental rights in the list. President’s power to dissolve the elected assembly was brought back to the parliament. Concurrent List was abolished and more power was devolved to the federating units (provinces) in accordance with the intent of the framers of the Constitution and the spirit of the federal system. It lays down a democratic foundation for nation building and state building project in Pakistan. It’s a win win situation for all sides as it strengthens the country by removing the grievances of the population wise smaller provinces through recognising their control over their resources.
Provincial governments are responsible for socio-economic development and no one will be able to blame Islamabad for the lack of development. It’s obviously good for national unity. But it has definitely annoyed the circles in the federation who were in the habit of dipping their hand in federal kitty to take out as much as they would like.
Another important aspect of 18th Amendment is strengthening of Article 6 which has closed the doors for direct military coups. The problem is that civil and military bureaucracies, mainly hailing from the population-wise largest province, have never internalised the Amendment. Every major reform has teething problems. Genuine issues regarding the 18th Constitutional Amendment can be discussed in a democratic spirit but any subversion of the federal character of the system through questionable means can be disastrous for the federation.
TNS: What do you make of FATA’s merger with KP and what more needs to be done?
AK: Theoretically the erstwhile FATA has been merged in Pakhtunkhwa but practically it’s living in a legal and administrative limbo as the reforms aren’t implemented. There are four major hurdles. One, complete opening up of the former FATA districts will not be possible as long as it is used for war in Afghanistan. Entry into the area is still restricted even for the locals by the security institutions. Two, there is a huge black economy which includes drug trafficking, gun running and commodity smuggling. There’s a strong interest guarding the status quo. So far there is nothing on the paper for a transition from an economy of mismanagement into an economy of management. Three, building physical and intellectual infrastructure to take proper judicial, executive and financial institutions of the state into the area requires money (3 per cent of NFC Award) which has yet to be made available. Four, there have been problems with shaping in proper implementation mechanism for the reforms. The bureaucracy that has a strong vested interest in maintaining the status quo is still calling the shots.
In the current scenario the people are totally powerless. For example, after the end of May there is no judicial system in the area with a population of armed ten millions. The old system became infructuous and the new one is yet to be built.
TNS: The phenomenon of religious militancy is taking a new shape and expanding with the Barelvi brand of Islamists now also vying for space in national politics. Where will all this lead us?
AK: The recent mutinous acts by TLP, a religious extremist outfit, indicate the rise of new forms of bigotry and fanaticism. Traditional Deobandi school, which is now deeply impacted by Middle Eastern extremist ideological trends, was known for its large-scale involvement in Jihadist activities. Using the vast financial resources and strength of religious seminaries it had also developed considerable political clout. It is still stubbornly guarding its political turf.
In recent years, the Barelvi school, predominant among Sunni Muslims of Pakistan, also decided to politicise its sectarian influence. Unfortunately, after Zia’s martial law religious extremism has made inroads in state institutions and has successfully influenced state policies. The failure of the state in implementing National Action Plan (NAP) for curbing extremism and terrorism approved by all and sundry in 2014 is the most significant proof of the state failure on this front.
As if this wasn’t enough the banned outfits, that were supposed to be stopped to work under new names, were allowed to horizontally expand under the garb of “mainstreaming” during the recent elections. This policy failure still remains an unmitigated disaster. Religious extremism and militancy poses an existential threat to Pakistani state.

#Pakistan - #100Days100Lies #100Days100Uturns - The mathematics of change


As PTI uses up the first 100 of its 1,825-day mandate, it becomes evident that the PM will need much more than a T20 type cricket approach to change Pakistan.
The proverbial honeymoon period for the country’s newest government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is over. The rose-tinged glasses are off, the thrill of victory has subsided and reality beckons – PTI has used up the first 100 of its 1,825-day mandate. The jury may be out on how the Khan administration has really fared so far – the ruling party touts change while the opposition cries shame – but the question is whether there is enough evidence to weigh up PTI’s actualised potential to deliver on its promise of altering Pakistan’s destiny.
An evaluation of this kind – de-emotionalising the rhetoric of an election and paring it down to measuring the actual performance of the primary stage – is fraught with the risk of inadequacy in terms of proof of capacity. After all, it’s not the electoral performance of PTI but its first few months in office, planning to deliver on their promise that needs an appraisal.
The period of first 100 first days seems too cliched and too abstract a time period and notion to allow for jettisoning any lingering prejudice of detractors or the continued romance of supporters. After all who is the judge here – the parliament, the opposition, the media, the judiciary or the electorate? They all hold disparate opinions. In a 60-month governance mandate, why an evaluation of the first 100 days in office? Why not six months, or even a year, to allow a new government to find its feet, choose its priorities, craft customised solutions, put the money on it and prove its mettle before it is realistically ranked as worthy of the country’s trust or rejection?
Even accounting for the impatience of all the above potential judges, the Imran Khan government has but only itself to blame for offering its own customised template of judgement – the 100-day framework. All key parties including, among others, PTI, Pakistan Muslim League -Nawaz (PML-N) of Shahbaz Sharif, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) of Bilawal Bhutto, Awami National Party (ANP) of Asfandyar Wali and Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI) of Fazlur Rehman, announced their party manifestos ahead of elections outlining governance priorities if voted to power. But it was only Imran Khan’s party that offered a 100-day governance roadmap.
PTI held as big and bashful a launch event on May 20, 2018, for its 100-day plan as it did on November 29, 2018, to outline the progress on it after completing 100 days in power.
This turned out to be PTI’s first major political mistake – boxing itself into a tight evaluation corner with a list of well-nigh impossible indicators under self-inflicted tight performance and evaluation deadlines. The PPP, which returned to power in Sindh, and Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), which emerged as the winner in Balochistan, offered no 100-day governance plans and have thus escaped any early evaluations and primary criticisms while PTI is stuck framing itself in its stifling confines.
PTI held a big and bashful launch event on May 20, 2018, for its 100-day plan. That turned out to be PTI’s first major political mistake – boxing itself into a tight evaluation corner with a list of well-nigh impossible indicators under self-inflicted tight performance and evaluation deadlines.
But performance evaluations never really start late nor fade away early – that’s the nature of politics. Especially when parties such as PTI are the biggest consumers of their own exaggerated optimism, although they can be forgiven their first-time over-confidence. It is the first time PTI has the national helm and the first time Imran Khan has held an office. The astonishing capacity of PTI to confuse their naïve passion for politics with their own rhetoric and propaganda meant for others is what is chastening them.
The PTI functionaries are out of their comfort zone of being in the erstwhile opposition. Such is the scale of their back-peddling – going to the IMF, peace overtures with India, travels abroad aboard special planes, retaining VIP protocols, raising taxes, etc. – that they have literally made a virtue out of the ability to take ‘U-turns’ and the never-ending blame on previous governments for their own lack of adequate homework.
Their under-whelming strategies on the economy and over-whelming lack of coordination among key functionaries, borders on the cringeworthy. By Imran Khan’s own admission, he and his party still can’t believe they are in power – the prime minister’s wife needs to remind him to stop complaining and do something about anything, everything.
The pressure on PTI to emphasise they aren’t not going anywhere fast but rather headed somewhere in the direction offered by their 100-day plan, is immense and the ridicule they face on social media is so relentless that it is difficult to find its key leaders available to defend their performance.
Key PTI leaders who populated the media space before elections have gone missing in action. The likes of Shafqat Mahmood, Shireen Mazari, Pervaiz Khattak, Imran Ismail, Shah Farman, Arif Alvi and Asad Umar have gone quiet, seemingly locked up in their offices. Even Imran Khan has only recently started speaking, even if reluctantly. If Fawad Chaudhry didn’t speak as much as he does one would be forgiven for forgetting the PTI was in power.
The self-reported performance of the PTI in its first 100 government comes across more as a package of perceptions that the prime minister holds – into the weeds as he often is in the minutiae of intentions ranging from selling buffaloes as a means of saving public money and dreaming of an economic and social revolution through chickens and eggs to offset poverty – than the changed Pakistan he promised.
Tellingly, the PTI seems least unruffled and least vocal on reporting about its most challenging promises – bringing billions of dollars supposedly stashed away illegally abroad by mysteriously errant Pakistanis; dividing up Punjab into more than one province; legal and administrative merger of tribal areas into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and mainstreaming them socially; supervising a revolutionary and moneyed intervention of overseas Pakistanis into the country’s economy; sweeping reforms of the country’s legal landscape and civil services; and the equitable polity of dau nahi, aik Pakistan.
On these major promises, what PTI has practised in its first 100 days is different from what it promised. The prime minister’s special group interview with several TV anchors on December 3, 2018, was revealing in terms of both the intention and strategy of his party on his promises.
Meritocracy? The ‘Pentagon of Punjab’ comprising Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, Aleem Khan, Jahangir Khan Tareen, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar and Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi is hardly a meritorious model even though Khan insisted Buzdar was his best player – he actually called him ‘Wasim Akram-Plus’.
Legal reforms? The premier rejected a parliamentary entente with the opposition to get the raft of laws and constitutional amendments he needs to pass and instead vowed to operate through ‘ordinances’ even though he simply can’t. This is akin to allowing the opposition a veto to scuttle the heart of his ambitious political and social reforms’ agenda.
Creating a new province out of Punjab? That will almost topple his government in any rump Punjab and therefore take a significant part of Pakistan’s governance space from his purview.
In terms of populist appeal, the biggest promises the PTI made and which will be judged by his followers and supporters rather than the opposition are 10 million jobs and five million homes. How? When? Where? The government offers little clues. There is simply no money, even government functionaries now admit.
But perhaps most significantly, in the same interview with the TV anchors, the prime minister all but indicated a critical deficit of patience and political astuteness required to even launch, leave alone complete, a critical part of his agenda of accountability and rule of law. He declared his disdain for both the Supreme Court and National Accountability Bureau by saying they were not ‘behind him’. In almost the same breath he astonishingly claimed the security establishment was ‘behind him’ and his party’s manifesto and all but confessed he was not interested in taking the treason trial of Musharraf to a conclusion.
He was struck dumb by the prickly question of why he labelled former prime minister Nawaz Sharif a traitor for attempting to improve relations with India but boasts the rightful success of the Kartarpur initiative.
All said and done, the first 100 days for the Imran Khan government are over. It will need more than some cosmetic steps and a crash-and-burn T20 type cricket approach to change Pakistan. Before he delivers on his tabdeeli promise, the prime minister will have to change himself and his under-19 team. Even though there are another 1,725 days to go for him to come good on his promises, he is already trapped in a countdown.

Pakistan's Christians Under Attack - Acquitted of blasphemy and living in fear in Pakistan