Monday, December 31, 2018

Madonna - Dress You Up

Music Video - Vanilla Ice - Ice Ice Baby

Music Video - MC Hammer - U Can't Touch This

Music Video - Shakira - Waka Waka

Music Video - Rasputin - Boney M

Music Video - Michael Jackson - Billie Jean

Music Video - Abba - Mamma Mia

Music Video - Europe - The Final Countdown

Music Video - Guns N' Roses - Paradise City

#NewYears2019 - Abba - Happy New Year



US President Donald Trump’s announcement that the US is withdrawing from Syria has left many questions. Eastern Syria is a large and strategic area sandwiched between Turkey and Iraq. Historically it was also a neglected area of Syria. As the US leaves, threats of conflict hang over the millions of residents who wonder what will come next.

The area the US is leaving in eastern Syria is neatly separated from the rest of Syria by the Euphrates River. This includes the Syrian governorate of Hasakah, and parts of the governorates of Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor. The only exception is a small area over the Euphrates River where Manbij is located in northern Syria. This is an area of Syria that was deeply affected by the rise of ISIS in 2013. Prior to that, the Kurdish parts of this region had been neglected by the Assad government. Syria stripped 120,000 Kurds of citizenship after 1962. The Assad government has suppressed the Kurdish population with its brand of Arab nationalism, depriving many not only of citizenship, but also pushing them off their lands and seeking to settle Arabs in their place. Kurdish towns were renamed with Arabic names. The suppression created resentment that led to riots in 2004 in Qamishli.
In other areas of eastern Syria, particularly along the Euphrates River valley, a different dynamic took place. With some of the country’s only oil fields and government investment in Deir ez-Zor, some areas benefited. But other Arab tribes followed politics in neighboring Iraq, down the river, more than they focused on Damascus. Reports say that some people kept pictures of Saddam Hussein in their houses, not Assad. After the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, instability spread along the border with Iraq as insurgents and foreign fighters used Syria as a corridor to reach Iraq. Baghdad complained to Damascus about the fighters streaming across the border but Syria didn’t stem the flow, either out of a desire to confront the Americans, or hoping that some of the Islamist extremists increasingly making up the rank and file of insurgents would go to Iraq and not bother the Assad regime. Blowback came after the Syrian civil war began, when these networks of extremists, using the Euphrates valley to move back and forth began to attack the Syrian regime. ISIS exploited this instability and rose to power in Raqqa in 2013 because of it. Eastern Syria is a large area, more than twice the size of Israel, almost the size of West Virginia. Resource rich, it has oil in the south near the Euphrates River, and wheat and agriculture in the north along the Turkish border. But it is sparsely populated in many areas, which are desert. Overall the population is several million. It has undergone extreme change during the war with ISIS. Raqqa, liberated in the fall of 2017, still lies in ruin and bodies continue to be discovered from the conflict. OCHA, for instance, identified hundreds of thousands of people in need in eastern Syria in 2018.
Drought also struck some areas. A US AID map of the area in 2017 shows that people needed everything from basic nutrition to shelter and clean water. This was true across the Kurdish areas as well as across the areas liberated from ISIS in 2016-2017. In Hasakah province, NGOs from the FAO helped thousands of families by providing seeds to grow cereals.
The relative security and stability with which this could be provided was made possible by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on the ground and their partnership with the US-led Coalition. Together they had defeated ISIS across a huge swath of eastern Syria. Prior to the intervention of the US in 2014, mostly Kurdish areas had been under siege by ISIS which was had conquered a huge area of Syria and Iraq, ruling over millions. Eventually the SDF, which grew out of the Kurdish People’s Protection (YPG) units, became a larger armed force with Arabs, Kurds and other groups. In never shed claims that it was primarily connected to the YPG and thus linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Turkey argued that the YPG was the Syrian version of the PKK, which it and the US view as terrorists.
Eastern Syria was one area in the Middle East that didn’t fit into the alliances being formed in the region. One alliance is led by Iran and includes the Syrian government, Hezbollah, Shi’ite militias in Iraq and the Houthis in Lebanon. Another alliance consists of Turkey, Qatar and Syrian opposition factions. A third alliance consists of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. Not every country in the Middle East is closely affiliated with these three sides. But most of the Arab countries, such as Jordan, Oman, Kuwait, the Palestinian Authority and others are more closely connected to Riyadh than Doha or Ankara.
AS THE US role in eastern Syria grew in 2017 and 2018, some in the Trump administration saw it as a leverage against Iran’s role in Syria. Officials indicated the US would stay for several years to rebuild and stabilize the area so ISIS wouldn’t return and so Iran wouldn’t extend its influence into the area. But Trump saw US involvement in eastern Syria through the lens of US involvement in the Syrian conflict going back to 2011. He said in his speech in Iraq on December 25 that the US was supposed to be in Syria for three months but had stayed for almost 8 years. It was widely thought the US would be in eastern Syria until at least 2021 when the US decided to leave on December 19. This has left a whole area of eastern Syria seemingly “up for grabs” by the powerful states in the region. The phenomenon of eastern Syria being run by the SDF had grown out of the instability of the Arab spring. It was one of those ungoverned spaces, like areas in Yemen and Libya. The Syrian regime had melted away and the YPG had been able to seize parts of Hasakah in 2012 and 2013. It embarked on a unique political experiment, applying its far-left governing principles to eastern Syria, which opponents deride as a form of Marxism. Some of this had been accomplished through quiet discussions with the Syrian regime and even Iran. Turkey, the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, the US, Russia, and even Saudi Arabia all sought to play a role in the eastern Syria region. Each saw different things to gain.

This is because the area has become a strategic hinge between Turkey, Iran and areas in Iraq. The extremism that grew out of the Euphrates valley that fed ISIS threatened Syria and Iraq, and became a destination for 50,000 foreign fighters. That makes it a strategic asset for the whole region. The Kurdish success in eastern Syria is also seen as a threat. Turkey views the area as a center of PKK activity which matters to Ankara because since 2015 Turkey has been fighting against a PKK insurgency. Turkey has sought to strike at PKK members in northern Iraq, to reach around behind eastern Syria and cordon off the area. Turkey also intervened in northern Syria and Afrin in northwestern Syria to prevent the YPG from expanding. Turkey now wants to intervene in eastern Syria as a final part of its campaign against the PKK. The US prevented this with its presence. For Russia, eastern Syria is important because it is one more area that it can help the Syrian regime return to Damascus control and a place it can play a role as a mediator, which increases Moscow’s prestige in the region. Russia helped mediate between Iran and Turkey at Astana, Sochi, Geneva and Idlib. In each place, Russia grew in influence as the one country everyone can go to, replacing the role the US used to play in the region. Eastern Syria would be another feather in Moscow’s cap. For Iran, eastern Syria may also be important. It has militias that it backs along the Euphrates river. It would like to have influence and also to prevent an ISIS-resurgence. Already Humam al-Hamoudi, a member of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq has claimed the US withdrawal will fuel ISIS resurgence. He didn’t say this to encourage the US to stay, but rather to encourage Iraq and Iran to play a greater role. Press TV in Iran highlighted this. Soon Iran’s media will be pushing for more involvement, via Iraq, part of its desire to carve out a corridor of influence across Syria. The US appears to be walking away, but there are voices in the US who want to continue to wield US influence in eastern Syria. In addition US allies such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia and the Kurdish region in northern Iraq will want to play a role. The Gulf countries are re-establishing relations with Damascus, which might lead them to play a financial role in rebuilding eastern Syria.

 It’s clear that media in the UAE and Saudi Arabia are concerned about what might happen as Turkey, Russia and Iran angle for control. For Syria the end game is clear. It wants eastern Syria back. Initially in some kind of agreement with the SDF or YPG, it will seek to slowly gobble up the area after being surprised by the speed with which the US appears to be leaving. This doesn’t mean the SDF or other entities, such as the YPG, connected to it are finished. The area is of great importance and these groups have had almost half a decade to put down roots openly, after years of living in the shadows under the Assad regime. It also doesn’t mean the extremist networks of ISIS or the networks of the Syrian rebels are finished. ISIS still holds territory and many of these areas have lived free of the regime for almost eight years. None of this will go quietly into the night.

Nixon-era diplomat urges US to fix mistakes

By Wen Yan

Former presidential interpreter, Ambassador Charles W. Freeman Jr. discusses China, while urging the US to maintain healthy relations.

Editor's Note:

Ambassador Charles W. Freeman Jr. is an American diplomat who worked as the chief interpreter for US President Richard Nixon during his 1972 China visit. Global Times (GT) reporter Wen Yan interviewed Ambassador Freeman to discuss China-US relations and China's 40-year reform and opening-up.

GT: When did you become aware of the reform and opening up of China?

Freeman: When talking about reform, we have to talk about Deng Xiaoping, he is a remarkable man, and I respect him greatly. I got to know him quite well. But I watched what he did, really smart and very effective. Anyway, 40 years ago, so Deng Xiaoping announced the formalization of US-China relations on December 16, 1978. Two days later, the Third Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party opened. That was a revolution. Two decision while one strategy. Deng knew exactly what he was doing. He was going to use the US to help China to  open to the outside world and to sweep away some of the Soviet system in China,and to replace it with something uniquely Chinese. So it was a remarkable thing.

But Nobody here in the US believed it. People who were interested in China's foreign affairs read a lot of "Dangbagu" (stereotypical Party jargon) and thought it was more "Dangbagu." 

I did not understand how real it was until the beginning of September 1979. 

I was staying at the Beijing Hotel. At that time, I was in charge of US-China relations for the State Department. I was visiting the US Embassy, and I went for a walk out to Nanchizi. At the corner of Nanchizi and Changan Dajie, there was somebody pushing a cart selling noodles. So, I went up to him, I bought a bowl of noodles, I asked him , I said, "Which danwei (division) do you belong to?" He said, "I am self-employed." 

So I said , "Wow, this is a revolution." Because there had been no "Xiao Chi" (street snacks) in China for two decades. Everything had been nationalized. No individual enterprise. 

Anyway, I came back here to Washington DC, and I said to people , "This is real, this is not a "Dangbagu." And they said, "are you crazy?" 

Finally , in February , 1980, there was a meeting at the Smithsonian, and that night, there were probably 50 of the top China specialists from the government, universities and the so on. The question was "What is Chinese looking like in 2000." 

I was the only one there who said "Deng is changing everything. And you cannot take everything for granted. Otherwise, you will get the future wrong. You need to look at it with fresh eyes." Everybody disagreed. And they just laughed at me, so I was very upset. 

Back then, I commuted on motorcycle. I went back to the State Department at 9 o'clock that night, and I stayed up the whole night writing a memorandum titled, "China in the year of 2000." And I said China is going to go much faster and it is going to do this and do that.

I then distributed it to State Department and to diplomats in Hong Kong. Both believed that I had overestimated China. Looking back, I was wrong because I underestimated China , but anybody else said I overstated China. I only got one thing wrong. I thought the Soviet Union would still exist in 2000. But everybody else also thought that. So we were all wrong. At that time, I had no idea China could go as fast as it did, or it could change as much as it did. 

GT: How do you describe the achievement of the 40-year reform and opening up of China?

Freeman: I began to know China during the "Gang of Four" period, and knew China  in the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). Before the reform and opening-up, women all dressed the same. No style. Suddenly, color, make-up, fashion, appeared. Market came about. People began to find solutions to problems. They did not wait for other people to tell them, they took the initiative. The Party created some rules, but let people do what they wanted to do. Deng Xiaoping trusted the Chinese people. So he let them do things. There were all sorts of discussions. When things went too far, he went to stop it. But he let people do things. 

He said, "practice is the only criterion for testing truth," and "crossing the river by feeling the stones," and "it doesn't matter if a cat is black or white so long as it catches mice." He really wanted the result, he did not care about how the result came.

Forty years ago, Americans were concerned about China being weak, and that it was vulnerable. We used China to contain the Soviet Union. China today is an actor, a participant, a great power. You know, that was a remarkable transformation. The US has had some trouble adjusting to it. I think it is a good thing. The US has to adjust its mentality to do this. 

We are richer today and China is richer because we worked together. So,  we have a lot of influences. Today, many Chinese students are studying here, they don't all like the US, but they learn things. They are more accurate to understand the US and the Western world.

So, this relationship is really good for China, and really good for the US, I think. And I think it still could be. But we are in a bad period, worse than a strategic competitor. We are an adversary now. That is not good. I thought the US got huge advantages from US-China relations. Not because China indirectly helped the US broke down the Soviet Union. We used China to contain the Soviet Union. China played a big role in the final end of the Soviet system. 

But I don't think we could become enemies. People are talking about another Cold War, that is Mr. Pence seems to suggest. but I don't believe it. Why? Because history never repeats itself. History sometimes echoes  what is going on. We don't want China to become another Soviet Union. If the US fights with China, it will lose more allies. Nobody wants to choose sides. Everybody wants to standby. 

China cannot be isolated since its economic system is completely integrated into the world economy. Supply chain is everywhere. China cannot leave the world, and the world cannot leave China. So, you can't isolate China. This is very different from the Soviet Union period.  

GT: What are your suggestion on China's future development?

Freeman: Pretty simple. China needs to keep it cool, not get angry. Leave the door open, so when Trump is gone, it can build a new relationship with the US. 

It may take four years, or 20. But in the end, China and the US will be on the same planet. And we have to deal with each other. 

I remember in 1995 after I retired from the government, I went to Beijing with the group. We met with a group of Chinese scholars with the subject of China's foreign policy interests, particularly after the collapse of Soviet Union. 

These scholars said that the Soviet Union is gone, but Russia will come back. And when it comes back, we want it to become our friend, not our enemy. 

China needs to be very careful with the US, because if the US goes down, it does self-destructive things. But in the end, we will come back. When we come back, China should be ready for a more cooperative relationship.  

This is the first thing, don't lose your temper. Second, China has benefitted enormously from the world order that the US created, WTO, the whole structure of the international law, the World Bank, and so on. You can't image modern China without these things. China should not let these things disappear. 

China created AIIB without others. It has the same rules as the World Bank or Asia Development Bank, or even better, there have been some improvement, so it is not a competitor of the World Bank, or Asia Development Bank. They are complement. If the US rules WTO, China should create some organization that does the same thing WTO did.  

To take the AIIB as an example, China did not break up the international rule and order, instead it was the supplement of international order. You preserve the best future of the current order, and try to cooperate with all other countries that try to preserve the best future of the current order, like Japan and Europe, so what do you do? you try to find the way to settle trade without US dollar. So the US sanctions don't affect you. You can retain your independency and sovereignty. You work with other countries that have the same interests. If the US likes to drop off, OK. Eventually, you need us just as we need you.

GT: Do you have many family members who are interested in learning Chinese and appreciate Chinese culture?

Freeman: In late 19th century and early 20th century, some of my family members helped to create the Social Science Department of today's Peking University, Some worked for Sun Yat-sen and was the original designer of San Xia(the Three Gorges Dam). 

I discovered China when I was at Harvard Law School and I became very interested in Chinese, but I did not know much of my family history. I found out later and I became very interested in China. 

The reason was very strategic. It was the early 1960's, I thought  geopolitics of the time was unstable given the confrontation between the US and Soviet Union. The US had to reach out to China. I want to be there when it happens. So, when I joined the Foreign Service, I wanted to go some places related to China. At that time, I did not know how to speak Chinese at all. So I started to learn Chinese on January 2, 1969. Just in the time to prepare for the opening of China-US relations in 1972. I learned Mandarin (Putonghua) and Min Nan Hua. Family history, yes. But really strategic interests on my part.

GT: According to the Washington Post, Vice President Mike Pence said China must make massive changes that the US is demanding in its economic, military and political activities. What's your take on the fact that some US politicians insist on China making changes? 
Freeman: I don't agree with Mr. Pence's view. I don't think China needs those requirements. Why? Because essentially what Mr. Pence is asking is that China continuing being No. 2 and following the US. China passed that. We had to be equals now. 

Also I don't agree to the assumptions that he brings to the questions. China did not break international rules and order. China is expanding the rules and orders not narrow it by creating AIIB. US is actually doing more of that than China now. 

I don't believe it is reasonable to ask China to give up "Made in China 2025" program. China has the right to develop its high technology and economy if it can. I think there are some serious issues between the US and China, but not unnegotiable demand. I think "seeking common interests while preserving differences" is the right way to perceive and is a good approach, but Mr. Pence's approach is not. So, I am very much against what he said.  

For 73 years, the US has been a dominant power. Our history does not includes cooperating with other countries on the equal bases. Now we have to share with China. On the global level, since the US has been the super power for quite long time, now it has to share with others countries, among them, China is the most notable one. 

The world is more complicated. The US should get used to that. The US needs to rediscover the policy and a strategy, not forcing other countries to do what the US wants. That is not diplomacy. 

GT: While China is emphasizing the deepening of reform and opening-up, the US is withdrawing from various international organizations and treaties. What is your view on the China-US relations against this backdrop? 
Freeman: I don't think the US is setting a good example. I hope China will not drop off the treaties and organizations. As I suggested I think the best strategy for China is actually to try to preserve these. 

If the US wants to leave, ok. This is the mistake by the US. There is the famous saying by Napoleon, "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making the mistake." So, Why should China correct the US when the US is making the mistake? 

May be you can look at US-China relations in two ways, one is because we are fighting over something, it is harder for Chinese to reform, because politically you cannot give in to the US. So, this is harder. 

On the other hand, may be the pressure is good. May be the pressure gives China a reason to change. So in the end, it will be the Chinese side to decide what China is going to do. 

I think China will use the pressure to improve itself. If I am a Chinese company, what I learned from the trade war is that I can't rely on the US. So what am I going to do? I am going to do everything I can first to find other sources, Europe or Japan, or developing domestic production, which is better yet. 

The US ' purpose is to put China down, the result is to lift China up. Because now china has a big incentive to develop its own technology. So, the US is like lifting a rock only to drop it on its own feet. That is why I don't like Pence's speech. He said: the US always helps China. I don't know, US wants to help China, but sometimes, we did not.

Jimmy Carter: How to repair the U.S.-China relationship — and prevent a modern Cold War

Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States, is founder of the nonprofit Carter Center.
Forty years ago, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and I normalized diplomatic relations between the People’s Republic of China and the United States, putting an end to three decades of hostility. This led to an era distinguished by peace in East Asia and the Pacific region. China’s spectacular economic growth , in conjunction with its continuing integration with the much larger U.S. economy, has enabled the two countries to become engines of global prosperity. Scientific and cultural exchanges have blossomed, and the United States has since become the top foreign destination for Chinese scholars and tourists. The 40th anniversary of this relationship is a testament to the ability of countries with different histories, cultures and political systems to work together for the greater good. Yet, today, this critical relationship is in jeopardy.
I hear Chinese elites claiming that Americans are conducting an “evil conspiracy” to destabilize China. I hear prominent Americans, disappointed that China has not become a democracy, claiming that China poses a threat to the American way of life. U.S. government reports declare that China is dedicated to challenging U.S. supremacy, and that it is planning to drive the United States out of Asia and reduce its influence in other countries around the world.
If top government officials embrace these dangerous notions, a modern Cold War between our two nations is not inconceivable. At this sensitive moment, misperceptions, miscalculations and failure to follow carefully defined rules of engagement in areas such as the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea could escalate into military conflict, creating a worldwide catastrophe.
The U.S. imposition of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, and China’s retaliatory tariffs, contribute to the deteriorating relationship, hurting both countries.
The 90-day pause in further escalation of tariffs, agreed to at the Group of 20 summit in Argentina, offers the possibility of reaching a permanent agreement on U.S.-China trade. What can we do to build on this progress, and to repair the U.S.-China relationship?
First, the United States’ long-standing complaints — about trade imbalances, intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers, and unfair barriers to U.S. investments and business operations in China — must be addressed quickly and effectively. Neither country should use “national security” as an excuse to obstruct the other’s legitimate commercial activities. China needs competition for its economy to innovate and grow; pursuing a fair and reciprocal relationship is the only way for both countries to remain economically strong.
Second, Americans must acknowledge that, just as China has no right to interfere in U.S. affairs, we have no inherent right to dictate to China how to govern its people or choose its leaders. Though even countries with the closest of relationships may critique each other at times, such engagements should never become directives or edicts; they should rather serve as a two-way street of open dialogue. China’s achievements in sustaining economic growth, alleviating abject poverty and providing developmental assistance to other countries need to be celebrated. At the same time, we cannot ignore its deficiencies in Internet censorship, policies toward minorities and religious restrictions — which should be recorded and criticized.
This balanced approach is key to ensuring that the United States and China continue to work together toward solving some of the most intractable global problems. Despite current tensions on other issues, Chinese support has been essential in our ongoing efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. Beijing also could offer crucial help in post-conflict reconstruction in the Middle East and Africa, countering terrorism and extremism, and mediating other international disputes.
The United States should return to the Paris climate accord and work with China on environmental and climate-change issues, as the epic struggle against global warming requires active participation from both nations. But I believe the easiest route to bilateral cooperation lies in Africa. Both countries are already heavily involved there in fighting disease, building infrastructure and keeping peace — sometimes cooperatively. Yet each nation has accused the other of economic exploitation or political manipulation. Africans — like billions of other people around the world — do not want to be forced to choose a side. Instead, they welcome the synergy that comes from pooling resources, sharing expertise and designing complementary aid programs. By working together with Africans, the United States and China would also be helping themselves overcome distrust and rebuild this vital relationship.
In 1979, Deng Xiaoping and I knew we were advancing the cause of peace. While today’s leaders face a different world, the cause of peace remains just as important. Leaders must bring new vision, courage and ingenuity to new challenges and opportunities, but I believe they also must accept our conviction that the United States and China need to build their futures together, for themselves and for humanity at large.

#Opinion - #2019: The Year of the Wolves

By David Brooks

Can the Constitution withstand the partisans?
In Willa Cather’s novel “My Antonia,” there are two kind Russian farmers named Peter and Pavel who have settled on the Nebraska prairie. On his death bed, Pavel tells the story of how they came to emigrate there.
Many years before, back in Russia, the two young men had been the groomsmen at a friends’ wedding. The party went on well after midnight and eventually a caravan of seven sledges carried the families through the snow, back to where they were staying. As they rode, faint streaks of shadow — hundreds of them — could be seen dashing through the trees along the trail. Suddenly, the howling of wolves erupted from all directions.
The horses took off and the wolves attacked. The rear sledge hit a clump and overturned. The shrieks were horrific as the wolves pounced on their human prey. Another sledge tipped and then another, and the swarms of wolves descended on the families.
Pavel and Peter were in the lead sledge, carrying the bride and groom. They were careening at top speed, but one of their horses was now near death with exhaustion. Pavel turned to the groom. They would have to lighten their load. He pointed to the bride. The groom refused to let her be tossed over. Pavel fought with him and tried to rip her away. In the scuffle he threw them both out and to the wolves.
Peter and Pavel survived — but lived in infamy. They were the monsters who had thrown a bride to the wolves. They were forced to flee to the New World.
The story reminds us how thin the crust of civilization really is. It reminds us of what otherwise good people are capable at moments of severe stress and crisis, when fear is up and when conflict — red in tooth and claw — takes control.
It’s an especially good story to tell as we enter 2019, because this looks to be the year of the wolves — the year when savage and previously unimaginable things might happen.
It will be a year of divided government and unprecedented partisan conflict. It will be a year in which Donald Trump is isolated and unrestrained as never before. And it will be in this atmosphere that indictments will fall, provoking not just a political crisis but a constitutional one.
There are now over a dozen investigations into Trump’s various scandals. If we lived in a healthy society, the ensuing indictments would be handled in a serious way — somber congressional hearings, dispassionate court proceedings. Everybody would step back and be sobered by the fact that our very system of law is at stake.
But we don’t live in a healthy society and we don’t have a healthy president.
Trump doesn’t recognize, understand or respect institutional authority. He only understands personal power. He sees every conflict as a personal conflict in which he destroys or gets destroyed.
When the indictments come down, Trump won’t play by the rules. He’ll seek to delegitimize those rules. He’ll seek to delegitimize our legal institutions. He’ll personalize every indictment, slander every prosecutor. He’ll seek to destroy the edifice of law in order to save himself. We know the language he’ll use. It will be the anti-establishment, anti-institutional language that has been coursing through the left and right for the past few decades: The establishment is corrupt, the game is rigged, the elites are out to get you.
At that point congressional leaders will face the defining choice of their careers: Where does their ultimate loyalty lie, to the Constitution or to their party?
If their loyalty is to the Constitution, they will step back and figure out, in a bipartisan way, how to hold the sort of hearings that Congress held during the Watergate scandal — hearings that inspired trust in the system. They will step back and find men and women of integrity — the modern versions of Archibald Cox, Elliot Richardson and Judge John Sirica — who would work to restore decency amid the moral rot. On the other hand, if they put party above nation, they will see this crisis as just another episode in our long-running political circus. They’ll fall back in partisan lines. They’ll hurl abuse. Their primary concern will be: How can this help me in 2020?
If that happens, then the roughly 40 percent of Americans who support Trump will see serious evidence that he committed felonies, but they won’t care! They’ll conclude that this is not about law or integrity. It’s just a political show trial. They’ll see there is no higher authority that all Americans are accountable to. It’s just power and popularity straight through.
If that happens, we’ll have to face the fact that our Constitution and system of law were not strong enough to withstand the partisan furies that now define our politics. We’ll have to face the fact that America has become another fragile state — a kakistocracy, where laws are passed and broken without consequence, where good people lay low and where wolves are left free to prey on the weak.

You're going to fail your New Year's resolution – but it might not be your fault

Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz
Resolutions are not very effective, perhaps we could change society instead.
New Year’s Eve is a magical time. The old is about to end, the new is just on the cusp of beginning, and in this wonderful transition space we make promises about our lives ahead. Promises to lose weight, promises to study harder, promises to take up a gym membership and finally get fit.
We make a resolution to change our lives for the better.
And then, almost invariably, we fail. Partly because it is hard to make such massive changes in your life, but also partly because the world is bigger than a single person, and society has a lot more of a say in our lives than we care to admit.
It’s a sad truth that New Year’s resolutions are extremely unlikely to succeed. There hasn’t been an enormous amount of research on the subject, but what’s out there shows that people usually fail in their resolutions between two weeks and a month after making them. There’s no evidence that they actually help with things like weight loss, which is not particularly surprising when so few manage to keep them up longer than a fortnight.
And yet, each year, millions of us make them. Promising to change like a politician desperate to turn the tide before the next election. But, like politicians, the unfortunate reality is our promises are bigger than ourselves. The environment just does not allow for us to keep to all of the resolutions, we make.
Get Fit: Be Rich
One of the key ideas in public health is the concept of social determinants of health. These are the economic and social conditions that can make people healthy or sick – things outside of individual control that determine how healthily we live our lives. An example from some of my colleagues’ work is that you are less likely to have diabetes if you live in a wealthier suburb, were born in the same country that you live, and were healthier to start off with – you didn’t have other diseases already.
The truth is social determinants control far more of our lives than we would like to admit. While a common refrain from politicians who would like to cut services is that each individual determines their own fate, the reality is that things as diverse as whether one of your parents went to prison or whether you grew up near a motorway can define your health for the rest of your life.
Born wealthy and privileged? Chances are you’ll find it much easier to improve your health. Born to serious disadvantage? It’s not impossible, but it becomes that much harder to do.
What Can We Do?
The problem of social determinants is not a new one – the seminal work in this field was being done more than half a century ago. As with many other complex problems, there are no simple, easy fixes.
But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything we can do.
Ultimately, social determinants are about inequality. When some people are more able to access important services – whether that be schools or hospitals or anything else – simply because of an accident of their birth, it creates a gulf between the haves and the have-nots.
Often improving the situation means tackling the underlying inequalities that have caused it.
Sometimes this means developing targeted services that help the most vulnerable. Sometimes it means taking public funds and improving the living conditions of people in need. Sometimes, it just means giving people money, so that they can use it to improve their lives.
These are all well-evidenced interventions for improving health, but politically difficult. They require us all to pay more tax to protect the vulnerable, which is never a popular platform.
So what can we do? Well, maybe this year, when you’re pouring a glass of champagne instead of promising to change your life, make a commitment to improving everyone else’s. Resolutions might not be very effective, but if we all promise to change society, even by just a little bit, who knows?
Maybe in 2019 we can all be a little bit better off.
Happy New Year.
This doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to improve your health at an individual level, but it’s quite easy to see how it might be easier to lose weight if your local eatery serves wraps and salads rather than fish and chips.
Which brings us back to New Year’s resolutions. If your environment promotes good health, then it’s much easier to keep your resolution to be healthier. If not, it’s probably going to be far, far harder.
What Can We Do?
The problem of social determinants is not a new one – the seminal work in this field was being done more than half a century ago. As with many other complex problems, there are no simple, easy fixes.
But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything we can do.
Ultimately, social determinants are about inequality. When some people are more able to access important services – whether that be schools or hospitals or anything else – simply because of an accident of their birth, it creates a gulf between the haves and the have-nots.
Often improving the situation means tackling the underlying inequalities that have caused it.
Sometimes this means developing targeted services that help the most vulnerable. Sometimes it means taking public funds and improving the living conditions of people in need. Sometimes, it just means giving people money, so that they can use it to improve their lives.
These are all well-evidenced interventions for improving health, but politically difficult. They require us all to pay more tax to protect the vulnerable, which is never a popular platform.
So what can we do? Well, maybe this year, when you’re pouring a glass of champagne instead of promising to change your life, make a commitment to improving everyone else’s. Resolutions might not be very effective, but if we all promise to change society, even by just a little bit, who knows?
Maybe in 2019 we can all be a little bit better off.
Happy New Year.

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Pashto Ghazal - Sardar Ali Takkar, Ghani Khan - Makh de tabaana sta

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Pashto Music Video - Nan Pah De Hujra Ke Khushali

Ghazal - Sharab Cheez He Aisi Hai - Pankaj Udhas

Music Video - Runa Laila - Mera Babu Chail Chabila

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Music Video - Lokan do do yaar banaye - Afshan Zebi

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Video - اگر صدر زرداری اشارہ کریں تو ایک ہفتے میں ہم پی ٹی آئی حکومت گراسکتے ہیں، پی پی چیئرمین بلاول بھٹو

ڈھونڈو گے اگر ملکوں ملکوں - بینظیر بھٹو - ذوالفقار علی بھٹو - ڈھونڈو گے اگر ملکوں ملکوں , ملنے کے نہیں، نایاب ہیں ہم

یہ مِصرع اعلیٰ شاعر شاد عظیم آبادی کی مشہور غزل کا ہے اور اس کو ہماری بے مثال گلوکارہ عابدہ پروین نے ہمیشہ ہمیشہ کے لئے زندہ و جاوید بنا دیا ہے۔ بیٹی عابدہ نے یہ غزل محترمہ بینظیر بھٹو صاحبہ کی یاد میں گائی تھی۔ میں آج اسی غزل کی مناسبت سے کچھ عرض کرنا چاہتا ہوں۔ کچھ شعر یوں ہیں:
ڈھونڈو گے اگر ملکوں ملکوں
ملنے کے نہیں، نایاب ہیں ہم
تعبیر ہے جس کی حسرت و غم
اے ہم نفسو! وہ خواب ہیں ہم
اسی غزل کا ایک اور پیارا شعر ہے:
لاکھوں ہی مسافر چلتے ہیں
منزل پہ پہنچتے ہیں دو ایک
اے اہلِ زمانہ! قدر کرو،
نایاب نہ ہوں، کمیاب ہیں ہم
آپ خاموشی سے تنہائی میں بیٹھ کر عابدہ پروین کی گائی ہوئی غزل سنیں، وجد میں آ جائیؓں گے، دنیا اور اپنے وجود سے غافل ہو جائیں گے۔ اُردو زبان ہے ہی ایسی پیاری کہ دریا کو کوزہ میں بند کر دیتی ہے، غزلوں میں ایسی شیرینی ڈال دیتی ہے کہ آپ اپنے وجود سے غافل ہو جاتے ہیں، خاص طور پر جب گلوکار ہماری عابدہ پروین، اقبال بانو، مُنّی بیگم یا غلام علی ہوں۔
سیاست کو چھوڑیں، ہم ان نایاب لوگوں کے بارے میں چند باتیں کرتے ہیں جو تاریخ لکھ گئے ہیں، ہم ان کے احسانات قیامت تک نہیں بھول سکتے ہیں۔ سب سے پہلے ہمارے اپنے قائداعظم محمد علی جناحؒ ہیں۔ ان پر شاد عظیم آبادی کا یہ شعر صادق آتا ہے۔ ملکوں ملکوں کیا پوری دنیا میں ڈھونڈیں تو ان جیسی شخصیت آپ کو کہیں نہیں ملے گی۔ اس قدر مشکل حالات اور اتنے طاقتور دشمنوں (اور غدّاروں کی جعلسازیوں) سے نبرد آزما ہو کر آپ نے ہمیں ایک آزاد ملک دیا جہاں ہم اپنی مرضی سے زندگی گزار رہے ہیں۔ ان جیسا دوسرا شخص اب ملنا ناممکن ہے۔
میں قائداعظم کے بعد مرحوم جناب ذوالفقار علی بھٹو پر یہ شعر صادق سمجھتا ہوں۔ آپ سیاست کو چھوڑیں، ان کی ملک سے محبت کی مثال نہیں ملتی۔ ملک کی باگ ڈور اُن کو اس وقت ملی جب نااہل افراد نے اس کو تباہ کر دیا تھا، ملک کی بُری حالت، لوگوں کا مورال بالکل پست ہوچکا تھا۔ آپ نے اندرا گاندھی سے مذاکرات کئے اور سر جھکا کر بات کی اور نہ ہی کشمیر پر اصولی پوزیشن سے پیچھے ہٹے۔ تقریباً 90ہزار قیدیوں کو باعزّت چھڑوا کر پاکستان واپس لائے۔ جب ہندوستان نے 18مئی 1974ء میں ایٹمی دھماکہ کیا تو ہماری قوم کا مورال ڈائون ہو گیا اور مستقبل تاریک نظر آنے لگا۔ اس وقت میں نے انہیں یورپ سے مشورہ دیا کہ کیونکہ اب ہمارا مستقبل تاریک نظر آرہا ہے، آپ بھی ایٹمی قوّت کے لئے کام کریں۔ انہوں نے مجھے دعوت دی کہ جب میں پاکستان آئوں تو ان سے ملاقات کروں۔ میں جب پاکستان آیا اور ان سے ملاقات کی تو میں نے انہیں بتلایا کہ ایک نئے بے حد مشکل مگر سستے اور قابلِ عمل طریقے سے ایٹم بم بنایا جا سکتا ہے۔ دیکھئے میرے پاس کوئی ایسی دستاویزات نہیں تھیں کہ میں اس میدان میں ماہر ہوں۔ میں نے برلن (جرمنی)، ڈیلفٹ (ہالینڈ) اور لیووین (بلجیم) کی اعلیٰ یونیورسٹیوں سے تعلیم حاصل کی تھی اور اپنے شعبوں میں بہت عزّت تھی مگر یہاں پاکستان میں کون جانتا تھا؟ بھٹو صاحب نے ذاتی طور پر مجھ سے درخواست کی اور ان کی پرخلوص، دردمندانہ حب الوطنی پر مبنی اس درخواست کو میں نے قبول کر لیا، میری غیر ملکی (ڈچ) بیوی بھی راضی ہو گئیں اور ہم اعلیٰ نوکری، سہولتیں اور پروفیسر کی پیشکش چھوڑ کر یہاں رُک گئے۔ میرے پاس چند کپڑوں کے سوا کچھ نہ تھا۔ میرا تمام لٹریچر اور کتابیں پیچھے دفتر میں تھیں۔ میں جاکر لانا چاہتا تھا مگر بھٹو صاحب نے ہاتھ پکڑ کر کہا کہ مجھے یقین ہے کہ آپ یہ کام کر لو گے۔ بھٹو صاحب، غلام اسحاق خان صاحب، آغا شاہی صاحب، اے جی این قاضی صاحب وہ لوگ تھے کہ جن پر شاد عظیم آبادی کا شعر صادق آتا ہے کہ ملکوں میں مارے مارے پھرو، پھر بھی ایسے لوگ دستیاب نہ ہوں گے کیونکہ یہ نایاب (عنقا) لوگ تھے۔ بھٹو صاحب نے جان دیدی ملک و عوام کی خاطر۔دوسری نایاب شخصیت بے نظیر بھٹو تھیں۔ سیاست کو چھوڑیں، ان کی حب الوطنی کی بات کرتا ہوں۔ اُنہوں نے مجھے بہت عزّت و سہولتیں دیں اور ملک کے دفاع کی خاطر جس چیز کی بھی ضرورت پڑی، وہ مہیا کی۔
ہمیں میزائلوں کی ضرورت تھی۔ میں نے ان سے اس کا ذکر کیا انہوں نے بغیر کسی حجت و حیلہ بازی کے، کہا کہ میں جنرل اسلم بیگ صاحب سے مشورہ کر لوں اور وہ اگر اس کی حمایت کریں تو فنڈز جاری کر دوں گی۔ انہوں نے فوراً فنڈز مہیا کر دیئے۔ محترمہ بے نظیر صاحبہ کا یہ اقدام اور اس کے بعد دوسرے دور میں 1500کلومیٹر مار کرنے والے میزائل کی منظوری اور فنڈز کی فراہمی ایک محبِ وطن لیڈر کی نشاندہی کرتا ہے۔ ان کی بے وقت شہادت سے ملک کو بہت نقصان پہنچا۔ ان کے بارے میں بیٹی عابدہ پروین کی شاد عظیم آبادی کی غزل بالکل صحیح ہے۔ وہ چلی گئیں، اب ان کی جگہ کوئی نہ لے سکے گا۔
(نوٹ) پچھلے دنوں پارلیمنٹ میں ہمارے وزیر خارجہ شاہ محمود قریشی صاحب کی تقریر سُنی۔ آپ جنوبی پنجاب کے قیام پر رائے دے رہے تھے کہ ان کے پاس دو تہائی اکثریت نہیں ہے اسلئے یہ ممکن نہیں ہے۔ فوراً ہی شہباز شریف اور خورشید شاہ صاحب نے پیشکش کر دی کہ وہ اس مقصد میں حکومت کیساتھ ووٹ دینے کو تیار ہیں۔ اس کو کہتے ہیں ، گھر تک پہنچانا۔ نہ ہی وزیر خارجہ، نہ ہی وزیراعظم اور نہ ہی جنوبی صوبہ کے قیام کے علمبردار خسرو پرویز کہیں نظر آئے۔ یہ نئے پاکستان کا معمولی سا امتحان تھا اور اس میں یہ ناکام رہے۔ آپ خیبر پختونخوا میں ہزارہ کا صوبہ بنا دیں، جو عوام کی طویل عرصے سے خواہش ہے۔
چند دن پیشتر کراچی ایئر پورٹ پر صدر ڈاکٹر عارف علوی سے ملاقات ہوئی۔ بہت محبت سے ملے، ہمارے تقریباً تیس پینتیس سال سے تعلقات ہیں۔ ان کے والد بہت اچھے اور ماہر ڈینٹسٹ تھے۔ میری بہن وغیرہ انہی سے علاج کراتے تھے۔ آپ اپنے نواسے نواسیوں کو لے کر آئے اور میرے ساتھ فوٹو بنوا کر کہا کہ یہ ڈاکٹر صاحب محسنِ پاکستان ہیں۔ تعلیم کا ذکر چل نکلا کہ پرانے اور نئے پاکستان میں فرق نظر نہیں آرہا۔ پرانے پاکستان میں ایک خود ساختہ ڈاکٹر پروفیسر کو ایک اعلیٰ یونیورسٹی کا پرپوزل دیا تھا۔ جواب تک نہیں آیا اور نئے پاکستان میں بھی وزیراعظم کو پرپوزل بھیجے دو ماہ سے زیادہ وقت گزر گیا اور جواب تک نہیں آیا۔ وہ بولے کہ نئی یونیورسٹی کے بجائے پرانی یونیورسٹیوں کو ٹھیک کیا جائے۔ میں نے عرض کیا کہ گدھے کو بادام، پستہ کھلا کر عربی گھوڑا نہیں بنایا جا سکتا اس کے لئے وہی نسخہ کام کرے گا جو میں نے صرف دو سال میں GIKIبنا کر دکھایا تھا۔ حقیقت یہ ہے کہ میرے علاوہ کوئی بھی ایک اعلیٰ یونیورسٹی بنانے کی صلاحیت و اہلیت نہیں رکھتا۔ ایسے کاموں کے لئے بھٹو صاحب اور غلام اسحاق خان جیسے نایاب لوگوں کی 
ضرورت ہے۔

جھکی جھکی سی نظریں - اصغر خان کیس

سچائی صرف وہ نہیں ہوتی جو آپ کو پسند آ جائے۔ کبھی کبھی ایسی سچائی بھی
 برداشت کر لینی چاہئے جو آپ کی پسند کے مطابق نہ ہو۔ ناپسندیدہ سچائی کو کچھ عرصہ کے لئے دبایا جا سکتا ہے لیکن سچائی کو ہمیشہ کے لئے نہیں دبایا جا سکتا۔ سچائی کسی عدالتی فیصلے کی بھی محتاج نہیں ہوتی۔ سچائی تو بس سچائی ہوتی ہے اور کبھی کبھی عدالتوں کے سامنے سوالیہ نشان بن کر کھڑی ہو جاتی ہے۔ فیڈرل انویسٹی گیشن ایجنسی (ایف آئی اے) نے سپریم کورٹ سے کہا ہے کہ اصغر خان کیس کو بند کر دیا جائے کیونکہ 1990ء میں آئی ایس آئی سے رقوم لینے والے سیاستدانوں نے ایف آئی اے کو کہا ہے کہ انہوں نے کوئی رقوم نہیں لیں اور بینکوں کا پرانا ریکارڈ بھی دستیاب نہیں۔ ایف آئی اے کے کہنے پر سپریم کورٹ اصغر خان کیس کو بند تو کر سکتی ہے لیکن اصغر خان کیس کی سچائی کو ختم نہیں کر سکتی۔ 2012ء میں سپریم کورٹ نے اصغر خان کیس کا فیصلہ سناتے ہوئے سابق آرمی چیف جنرل اسلم بیگ اور آئی ایس آئی کے سابق سربراہ جنرل اسد درانی کے خلاف کارروائی کا حکم دیا تھا اور ایف آئی اے سے کہا تھا کہ جن سیاستدانوں پر آئی ایس آئی سے رقوم لینے کا الزام ہے، ان کے خلاف بھی کارروائی کی جائے۔ 2012ء میں پیپلز پارٹی کی حکومت تھی اور اس حکومت کے وزیر داخلہ رحمان ملک نے اصغر خان کیس میں عدالتی حکم پر عملدرآمد کرانے میں زیادہ دلچسپی نہیں لی۔ اُس وقت عمران خان اپوزیشن میں تھے اور وہ بار بار اصغر خان کیس میں عدالتی حکم پر عملدرآمد کا مطالبہ کرتے تھے۔ 2013ء میں نواز شریف وزیراعظم بن گئے۔ اُن کا نام اُس فہرست میں موجود تھا جس میں شامل سیاستدانوں نے 1990ء سے 1993ء کے درمیان آئی ایس آئی سے پیسے لے کر ’’قومی خدمات‘‘ سرانجام دیں۔ اُنہوں نے ایف آئی اے کو بیان ریکارڈ کرا دیا اور اپنے پر لگائے جانے والے الزام کی تردید کر دی لیکن ایف آئی اے اُس ریٹائرڈ فوجی افسر تک نہ پہنچ سکی جس نے 1990ء میں نواز شریف تک رقم پہنچائی تھی حالانکہ جنرل اسد درانی نے اپنے حلفیہ بیان میں نواز شریف سمیت پیپلز پارٹی کے مخالف کئی سیاستدانوں کو رقوم دینے کا اعتراف کیا تھا۔ 2018ء میں عمران خان وزیراعظم بن گئے۔ توقع تھی کہ عمران خان اصغر خان کیس میں عدالتی حکم پر عملدرآمد کرانے میں سنجیدگی کا مظاہرہ کریں گے لیکن اُن کی براہ راست نگرانی میں کام کرنے والے ادارے ایف آئی اے نے اصغر خان کیس کو بند کرنے کی سفارش کر دی ہے۔ اصغر خان کیس سے متعلقہ ریکارڈ محض 25سال پرانا ہے۔ اگر ایف آئی اے کو 25سال پرانا ریکارڈ دستیاب نہیں اور وہ اس کیس کی تحقیقات کرنے سے قاصر ہے تو پھر نواز شریف کے خلاف ایک 32سال پرانے پاکپتن اراضی کیس کی تحقیقات کے لئے جوائنٹ انویسٹی گیشن ٹیم (جے آئی ٹی) کیسے بنا دی گئی اور یہ ٹیم ثبوت کہاں سے لے آئے گی؟ اگر یہ ٹیم نواز شریف کے خلاف کہیں سے کوئی ثبوت لے آئی تو مجھ جیسے گستاخ، بدتمیز اور بدمعاش عناصر یہ کہتے نظر آئیں گے کہ اصغر خان کیس میں آپ کو نواز شریف کے خلاف 25سال پرانا ریکارڈ نہیں ملا لیکن پاکپتن اراضی کیس میں 32سال پرانا ریکارڈ مل گیا کیونکہ آپ اصغر خان کیس میں جنرل اسلم بیگ اور جنرل اسد درانی کو بچانا چاہتے ہیں۔ پھر آپ کو ہماری باتیں بُری لگیں گی۔ آپ ایک دفعہ پھر ہمیں غدار اور ملک دشمن قرار دے کر سچائی کو دبانے کی کوشش کریں گے لیکن ہر سچائی عدالتی فیصلے کی محتاج نہیں ہوتی۔
جنرل اسلم بیگ اور جنرل اسد درانی کو کسی عدالت سے سزا ملے یا نہ ملے لیکن اصغر خان کیس کی سماعت کے دوران 1996ء اور 2012ء کے درمیان عدالت میں جو دستاویزات اور شہادتیں پیش ہوئیں اُن میں یہ بتایا گیا کہ جنرل اسلم بیگ اور جنرل اسد درانی نے سیاست میں مداخلت کر کے اپنے حلف کی خلاف ورزی کی۔ سپریم کورٹ نے 2012ء میں اپنے عدالتی فیصلے میں کہا تھا کہ پاکستانی فوج کے سپاہی کو صرف ملک کی سرحدوں کی نہیں بلکہ آئین کی بھی حفاظت کرنا چاہئے۔ اصغر خان کیس میں عمران خان کی حکومت جنرل اسلم بیگ اور جنرل اسد درانی کے خلاف کوئی کارروائی نہیں کرتی تو اس کا مطلب یہ ہو گا کہ عمران خان کی حکومت جنرل پرویز مشرف کے خلاف آئین سے غداری کے مقدمے میں بھی کوئی کارروائی نہیں کرے گی۔ کارروائی ہو گی تو صرف ان سیاستدانوں کے خلاف ہو گی جو عمران خان کے مخالف ہیں۔ ایف آئی اے کو جنرل اسلم بیگ کے حکم پر جنرل اسد درانی سے پیسے لینے والے سیاستدانوں کے خلاف کوئی ریکارڈ نہیں ملا لیکن آصف علی زرداری اور ان کے برخوردار بلاول کے خلاف سب ریکارڈ مل گیا ہے اور اسی لئے ان دونوں کے بیرونِ ملک سفر پر پابندی لگا دی گئی ہے۔ جعلی بینک اکائونٹس کیس میں آصف علی زرداری اور بلاول کے خلاف جے آئی ٹی کی رپورٹ میں لگائے گئے الزامات ابھی کسی عدالت میں ثابت نہیں ہوئے لیکن عمران خان کے ساتھیوں نے سندھ میں پیپلز پارٹی کی حکومت کے خلاف تحریکِ عدم اعتماد لانے کے اشارے دینا شروع کر دیئے ہیں۔ ان اشاروں سے یہ مطلب بھی اخذ کیا جا سکتا ہے کہ جعلی بینک اکائونٹس کیس میں جے آئی ٹی کی رپورٹ میں لگائے گئے الزامات کو میڈیا میں اچھالنے کا اصل مقصد سندھ میں پیپلز پارٹی کے ایم پی اے توڑنا ہے۔ پیپلز پارٹی نے جے آئی ٹی رپورٹ کو جھوٹ کا پلندہ قرار دیا ہے لیکن اگر سندھ بینک قواعد کے خلاف انور مجید کو بھاری قرضے دیتا رہا تو سندھ حکومت کہاں سوئی ہوئی تھی؟ پیپلز پارٹی والوں کی غصیلی تقریروں سے جعلی بینک اکائونٹس کیس میں جے آئی ٹی رپورٹ کی اہمیت کم نہیں ہو گی۔ آصف زرداری اور بلاول کو جے آئی ٹی میں لگائے گئے الزامات کا دستاویزی ثبوتوں کے ساتھ جواب دینا ہو گا۔ جس طرح ایف آئی اے کے کہنے سے اصغر خان کیس میں اسلم بیگ اور اسد درانی بے گناہ قرار نہیں پا سکتے، اسی طرح آصف زرداری اور بلاول کے کہنے سے جعلی بینک اکائونٹس کیس میں جے آئی ٹی کی رپورٹ کو نظر انداز کرنا مشکل ہے۔ مجھے معلوم ہے کہ اس رپورٹ میں لگائے گئے الزامات کو عدالتوں میں ثابت کرنا بہت مشکل ہے اور رپورٹ بنانے والے ایک صاحب کہتے ہیں کہ عدالتوں میں دائر کئے جانے والے ریفرنسوں کا فیصلہ ڈیڑھ دو سال سے پہلے نہ آئے گا لیکن یہ تو طے ہے کہ اومنی گروپ نے جعلی بینک اکائونٹس بنائے اور سندھ بینک نے غلط قرضے بھی دیئے۔ جتنا سچ جہاں موجود ہے اسے جھٹلانا اپنے آپ کو دھوکہ دینے کے مترادف ہے۔
آپ بھی اپنے آپ کو دھوکہ نہ دیں۔ پاکستان میں آئین و قانون سب کے لئے برابر ہوتا تو ایف آئی اے کو اصغر خان کیس میں سیاستدانوں کے خلاف ثبوت مل جاتے۔ یہ ثبوت اس لئے نہیں ملے کہ نواز شریف کو العزیزیہ کیس میں سزا ہو چکی۔ مقصد حاصل ہو چکا۔ اب اسلم بیگ اور اسد درانی کو بچانا ہے لہٰذا اصغر خان کیس بند کرنے کی سفارش کر دی گئی۔ آئین و قانون سب کے لئے برابر ہوتا تو مشرف کو بھی سزا ملتی لیکن نہیں ملے گی۔ آصف علی زرداری کے خلاف ثبوت ملیں نہ ملیں، اُنہیں بھی سزا دی جائے گی۔ زرداری اور نواز شریف کے خلاف ثبوت ملنے کے دعوے بڑے فخر سے کئے جاتے ہیں لیکن مشرف، اسلم بیگ اور درانی کی بات آئے تو ہمارے سورمائوں کی نظریں جھکی جھکی سی دکھائی دیتی ہیں اور ان جھکی جھکی نظروں کے پیچھے ایک رائو انوار صاحب مسکراتے ہوئے نظر آتے ہیں۔ تو جناب! آج کی سب سے ناپسندیدہ سچائی یہ ہے کہ قانون سب کے لئے برابر نہیں اور یہ سچائی سب کو نظر آ رہی ہے۔

Pakistan journalists say military and intelligence agencies are upping censorship efforts

.Reporters say media outlets are being pressured to quash critical coverage

.The newly elected government is meanwhile slashing its advertising budget, squeezing a key source of revenue for private newspapers and television.

Pakistani journalists, who have taken on military dictators and been beaten and jailed in the pursuit of a free press, say they now face a form of censorship that is more subtle but no less chilling, one spearheaded by the security services.

Journalists and press freedom advocates say the military and the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, are pressuring media outlets to quash critical coverage. The newly elected government is meanwhile slashing its advertising budget, squeezing a key source of revenue for private newspapers and television stations.
Qazi Salauddin, a veteran Pakistani journalist who has witnessed successive periods of direct military rule, said today’s censorship is the worst it’s ever been.
“Today we don’t know what will annoy them,” he said of the military. “Today we have to do self-censorship and that is the worst kind of censorship, because it is done out of fear.”

Websites have been shut down, including the Urdu website of the US State Department’s Voice of America, after it reported on a tribal movement critical of military operations in regions bordering Afghanistan. Mashaal Radio, affiliated with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, has also been shut down.
Journalist Cyril Almeida was charged with treason after he published an interview with Nawaz Sharif in which the former prime minister accused the Pakistani military of aiding the militants who carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Authorities are also targeting social media, asking Twitter to suspend accounts and submitting thousands of requests to Facebook to take down pages for a variety of reasons, ranging from criticism of the military to propagating hate and insulting Islam.
Taha Siddiqui, a blogger and journalist who is critical of the security services, lives in self-imposed exile in France after an attempt on his life earlier this year, which he blamed on the ISI. He said Twitter suspended his account twice in 72 hours, telling him it was because of “objectionable content that was in violation of Pakistani law”, without elaborating.
Journalist Matiullah Jan, labelled “anti-state” by the military for his criticism of the judiciary and army, called the crackdown “a systematic attempt by the military and its intelligence agency to assert control with a facade of a democratically elected government.”
New legislation regulating print and online media has also alarmed press freedom advocates, who fear it will grant authorities even more censorship tools.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry denies the government is cracking down on press freedoms, saying it only acts to prevent incitement to violence. Pakistan has banned coverage of the hard line Tehreek-e-Labbaik movement after it held violent protests and threatened to kill a Christian woman who was acquitted of blasphemy charges after years spent on death row. Blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan, and the mere accusation can spark deadly mob violence.
“Pakistan has the freest media possible, and powerful media criticise the government and even agencies and [the] army establishment at their will,” Chaudhry told Associated Press. “Incitement of hatred is the only area that we interfere.”
But journalists say the interference goes much further, and has worsened since July’s national elections. They say intelligence agents have called reporters to demand that opinion pieces be withdrawn and to quash investigative reports on allegations that the military intervened in the vote to help elect Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The security establishment is especially sensitive about coverage of the Pashtun Tahafaz (Protection) Movement, or PTM, which has criticised the military’s actions in the tribal regions. Pakistan has long been accused of covertly supporting the Afghan Taliban while waging a scorched-earth campaign against home-grown extremists who threaten the state, allegations denied by the government.
“We have been facing a media blackout since the very first day,” said Mohsin Dawar, a parliamentarian and founding member of the PTM. “The military now is enjoying unquestioned power in the country, and the PTM questioned their power.”
Dawar said newspapers have refused to carry their statements or cover their press conferences.
Chaudhry said coverage of PTM is restricted because “we have fought a war in that area.”
“The population is in process of settling down, (and a) narrative that creates hatred cannot be allowed,” he said.
Steven Butler, Asia programme coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said Pakistan has waged an “aggressive crackdown” on the media.
“The crackdown comes behind the scenes and is increasingly exerted through the owners of media properties,” he said.
There are currently 89 private television channels licensed by the government. Most of the privately-owned channels emerged in just the last 15 years and are owned by big businesses, said Mohammad Ziauddin of the Pakistan Press Foundation, a free press advocacy group.
“The new entrants in the media are businesspeople. They got into the media industry not to make money, not to serve the public, but to have clout,” he said, making them vulnerable to intimidation and financial coercion.
In the last two months, hundreds of journalists have been laid off as government advertising – a key source of revenue – has been drastically reduced. A rate schedule seen by the AP shows the government was until recently paying upwards of US$2,500 for a 60-second spot, which has now been reduced to US$400 to US$500.
“While reliance on government revenues is not a healthy model for press freedom, the sudden cutbacks have imposed extreme hardship on the media, which has had basically no time to adjust business models,” Butler said.
Chaudhry defends the new rate schedule, saying previous governments paid well above the market rate in return for positive coverage.
“The last government used television advertising as tool to bribe media,” he said.