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The Old Scourge of Anti-Semitism Rises Anew in Europe - Jews face threats from extremists

Jews face threats from extremists on the left and the right. A third of European Jews have considered emigrating.
For years, Europe maintained the comforting notion that it was earnestly confronting anti-Semitism after the horrors of the Holocaust. It now faces the alarming reality that anti-Semitism is sharply on the rise, often from the sadly familiar direction of the far right, but also from Islamists and the far left.
The worrisome trend was underscored by a report issued by the German government this month showing that anti-Semitic incidents in Germany had increased by almost 20 percent in 2018 from the previous year, to 1,799, with 69 classified as acts of violence. The most common offense was the use of the swastika and other illegal symbols; the rest ranged from online incitement and insults to arson, assault and murder.
Of the total, the report attributed 89 percent of the incidents to the far right. Germany, like many other European nations, has seen a resurgence of a neo-fascist right, but much of the recent reporting in Germany on the rise of anti-Semitism has focused on hostility to Jews among Muslim migrants. A European Union survey conducted in 2018 likewise found that among German Jews who had experienced anti-Semitic harassment over the past five years, 41 percent perceived the perpetrators of the most serious incidents to be “someone with a Muslim extremist view.”
Whatever the reasons for the discrepancy, the message from the German government is that anti-Semitism is not largely an imported problem, as far-right groups often maintain — as justification also for their Islamophobia.
That the rise in incidents was in Germany made the government report all the more concerning. But anti-Semitism is on the rise all across Europe, as well as in the United States. France reported an increase of 74 percent in anti-Semitic acts in a single year, with 541 incidents reported in 2018, including widely viewed videotaped insults shouted at the French Jewish intellectual Alain Finkielkraut during one of the Yellow Vest protests. In Britain, nine Labour members of Parliament quit their party in part over the cloud of anti-Semitism hanging over the party leader, Jeremy Corbyn.In the United States, attacks on synagogues by white-supremacist gunmen have led the growing list of assaults on Jews. The Anti-Defamation League reported that these attacks more than doubled from 2017 to 2018, to 39, part of a total of 1,879 anti-Semitic incidents. There has also been a marked rise in the political weaponization of anti-Semitism by both left and right, often played out in debates on criticizing or supporting Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not helped matters by finding common cause with nationalist leaders like the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban or President Trump so long as they do not support a Palestinian state. A tally of incidents does not tell the full story. To a degree, the numbers reflect the way hate speech, intolerance, anger and once-taboo themes have found their way into the open on social media or via populist movements, allowing hatred of Jews to come out of the shadows. But far-right and far-left politicians have often learned to project themselves as defenders of Jews while drawing on blatantly anti-Semitic tropes, as Mr. Orban has done in Hungary. Among the Muslims of Europe, and among some leftists, a resentment of Israel often crosses into hostility to all Jews. What is clear is that these strains of anti-Semitism — from the right, from the left and from radical Muslims — have morphed into a resurgence of a blight that should have been eradicated long ago, and that is causing serious anxiety among Europe’s Jews.
A CNN poll last November on the state of anti-Semitism in Europe found that a third of respondents said they knew little or nothing about the Holocaust. Nearly a quarter said Jews had too much influence in conflict and wars; more than a quarter said they believed that Jews had too much influence in business and finance. A 2015 survey by the Anti-Defamation League found that 51 percent of Germans believed it was “probably true” that “Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust.” These are the stereotypes that make anti-Semitism an especially pernicious form of bigotry, a grand conspiracy theory in which Jews spread evil in their countries through some illusory subterfuge, whether controlling capital, or the media, or whatever.
All this is not news to European Jews, who for some time have been feeling less and less safe and welcome in their home countries. After polling more than 16,000 Jews in 12 European countries at the end of last year, the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights concluded that anti-Semitic hate speech, harassment and fear of being recognized as Jews were becoming the new normal. Eighty-five percent of the respondents thought anti-Semitism was the biggest social and political problem in their countries; almost a third said they avoided Jewish events or sites because of safety concerns. More than a third said they had considered emigrating in the five years preceding the survey.
As appalling as these statistics should be to every European, they should also ring a loud alarm for every American leader of conscience. Speak up, now, when you glimpse evidence of anti-Semitism, particularly within your own ranks, or risk enabling the spread of this deadly virus.

Saudi Warplanes, Most Made in America, Still Bomb Civilians in Yemen

By Declan Walsh
After five days of treatment in a shabby Yemeni hospital, Luai Sabri died on Tuesday. The 20-year-old had a cracked skull, a ruptured spleen and a damaged liver, according to a relative, injuries caused by a bomb that dropped from a warplane flown by the Saudi-led coalition.

The airstrike was part of a wave of bombings over the Yemeni capital, Sana, last Thursday that coincided with a spike in tensions between the United States — which supports the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen — and Iran, which backs the coalition’s enemies, the Houthi rebels.Several airstrikes hit Houthi targets on the city outskirts. But one pulverized several homes in a crowded residential area where Mr. Luai, a recent high school graduate, lived.Five people died immediately — his brother Hassan, 17, and four children in a house next door, the youngest of whom was 6. Among the 31 people wounded in the attack were Mr. Luai’s father, a former Houthi official, his grandparents and another 15 children, according to relatives and the Yemeni human rights group Mwatana.
They were the latest casualties of an air war that has killed thousands of Yemeni civilians since 2015, stirring outrage against a Saudi-led coalition, which had been criticized for limiting food shipments to the famine-threatened country.The civilian toll has fallen considerably this year as a truce brokered by the United Nations in the key Red Sea port of Hudaydah, previously a major focus of the conflict, has held steady. But indiscriminate attacks, like last week’s strike in Sana, continue.
The civilian carnage remains an American liability, too.
Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress in April 2018 that the United States, although a close ally of the coalition, is not involved in the “kill chain” in Yemen.The war’s many critics, in Congress as well as in the human rights community, call that a gross understatement. While Saudi or Emirati pilots usually pull the trigger in raids on Yemen, the United States provides the warplanes, munitions and intelligence used in many of those strikes.The ethical quagmire evolved into a political storm this year when Congress passed a bipartisan resolution withdrawing American support for the war, only to be blocked by President Trump, who used his veto last month. The measure was “an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities,” endangering the lives of American citizens and service members, Mr. Trump said.
Defending their role, American generals describe a lack of training and education among their Arab allies, and point to a series of measures they have imposed on the coalition to reduce civilian casualties since the air war started in 2015.
The Americans helped set up an internal investigations body, helped draw up a lengthy no-strike list of hospitals, schools and other targets to be avoided, and provided coalition pilots and their commanders with training in human rights and the laws of war.
An airstrike in Sana last week in a residential district.CreditMohammed Huwais/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images A small team of American military advisers has been posted to the coalition air command center in Riyadh since at least 2016. Yet civilian deaths continue.The Saudi-led coalition is responsible for 4,800 of about 7,000 civilian deaths caused by direct military targeting in the war since 2016, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, which monitors the toll. (The group’s data excludes 2015, when the war started.)The Houthis were responsible for 1,300 civilian fatalities from direct targeting in the same period.Like the coalition, the Houthi rebels also face accusations of manipulating urgently needed relief aid. This week the World Food Program threatened to cut aid to Houthi-controlled areas where it accuses officials of blocking aid convoys and interfering with food distributions.
As American military aid to the coalition continues, a former American official in Yemen says the carnage highlights the need for a major overhaul in the way the United States provides military assistance in Yemen and other conflict zones around the world.
Larry Lewis, who worked as a State Department adviser on civilian harm with the Saudi-led coalition from 2015 to 2017, said that while the number of civilian casualties caused by the coalition in Yemen has fallen since 2016, the rate of civilian casualties has risen from about 8 percent of military operations to about 15 percent.In a new report for the Center for Naval Analyses, Mr. Lewis says that the United States must intensify training programs for military partners as a condition of military aid. Civilian deaths should be closely monitored and, if they reach unacceptable levels, should result in a suspension or cutting of military aid.
Asked about the current policy, a Pentagon spokeswoman, Cmdr. Candice Tresch, said that the department was developing a new policy aimed at reducing the number of civilian casualties. However, the policy, expected to be completed this year, will apply only to United States forces, she said, not foreign militaries.
Other critics say that Mr. Lewis’s suggestion is too little too late.
“Stronger levers to hold the coalition accountable are a fantastic idea,” said Kristine Beckerle of Mwatana, which has called on the United States to cut its support to the Saudi-led coalition. “But if your partner appears consistently unwilling to comply with international law, or to minimize harm to civilian life, then at some point you should not be partnering with them at all, as is clearly the case for Yemen.” Andrew Miller, a former State Department official now working with the Project on Middle East Democracy, a nonpartisan group, said that American officials intent on countering Iranian influence in the Arabian Peninsula presume continued military assistance to Saudi Arabia and its allies is necessary.
“We need them, we don’t have any alternatives, and so we need to make the best of a bad lot,” Mr. Miller said, explaining the mind-set.
While stronger controls for military assistance programs are welcome, he added, skepticism about the coalition’s willingness to change is warranted by its record of civilian casualties.
“Either they are less concerned about civilian casualties or they see some utility in killing civilians as a form of collective punishment,” Mr. Miller said. “I have no evidence to support either case. But it would not be the first time in the Middle East that we see such tactics.”

Saudi Arabia and UN: Partners in Crime against Women

Agustina Vergara Cid
 In early January, Rahaf Mohammed made headlines around the world. She is the Saudi teenager who fled her home country to escape family abuse and the state-endorsed mistreatment of women in Saudi Arabia.
During a family vacation in Kuwait, Rahaf boarded a flight to Bangkok, where she barricaded herself in a hotel room to resist deportation. Hoping to be granted asylum somewhere, she live-tweeted the ordeal, publicizing her plight. She was in a terrible position — her passport had been confiscated by a Saudi diplomat and her abusive father and brother had come to take her back.
Her family abused her repeatedly. In an interview with the Canadian network CBC, she said: “I was exposed to physical violence, persecution, oppression, threats to be killed.” But it wasn’t just her family she sought to escape — she wanted to flee the country. “Women are treated like slaves in Saudi Arabia,” she explained. “I felt I couldn’t achieve my dreams as long as I was still living there.” To make matters worse, Rahaf had decided to renounce Islam — an offense punishable by death under Saudi law.
Rahaf’s story puts a spotlight on Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women, but this regime is hardly the only villain in the story. There is another: The United Nations.
Fortunately, she escaped the fate of being publicly beheaded: she was granted asylum in Canada.
Rahaf’s story puts a spotlight on Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women, but this regime is hardly the only villain in the story. There is another: The United Nations. The UN had a role in facilitating Rahaf’s request for asylum, but what didn’t make the headlines is the UN’s ongoing complicity in Saudi Arabia’s contempt for the rights of the individual.
This may come as a shock, because it goes against what most of us have been taught about the UN. The UN is commonly portrayed as an agent for good, with a mission to preserve peace and uphold human rights around the world. But the fact is that the UN enables Saudi Arabia’s oppression of women.

Saudi Arabia, a UN member in good standing

Let’s take a closer look at what Rahaf escaped.
There is no rule of law in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia’s justice system is based in Sharia law and lacks a penal code, which leaves the definition of crimes and punishments open to the full discretion of judges. There is no due process and trials are arbitrary. Confessions are often obtained by torture, and for many crimes (such as renouncing Islam) the penalty is public decapitation using a sword.
Zooming in to the treatment of women, it is the norm to force them to marry against their will and for family members to subject them to physical and psychological abuse. Rahaf mentions one instance of such violence: “they locked me up for six months after I cut my hair . . . because it is forbidden in Islam for a woman to look like a man.”
There is a “guardianship” system: male relatives exert total control over women’s lives. In Rahaf’s words: “guardianship rules apply to women for all their lives, until they die . . . the guardian is who makes the woman’s decisions, about her marriage, work, and what she can study.”
Women need permission to do anything of significance — and even relatively insignificant things as well. For example, most public spaces have a separate entrance for men and women and are heavily segregated. Women can’t even try clothes on while shopping. Apparently, women disrobing in “public,” behind closed doors, is blasphemous.
Rahaf was subjected to all of this. “My brother had control over my day-to-day life — what I should wear, what I should eat, where I go, who I can see and go out with.” Essentially, women in Saudi Arabia are treated not as sovereign individuals but as the property of their families.
This is the maltreatment that Rahaf had to endure while living in Saudi Arabia — and, had she not fled, she likely would have been killed.
How has the UN dealt with Saudi Arabia? It is a member of the UN in good standing, with an almost pristine record within the organization.
Saudi Arabia is the regime from which Rahaf fled precisely because of its barbaric treatment of women. By elevating it to a role where it supposedly is concerned with the proper treatment of women, the UN provides moral cover for Saudi Arabia’s crimes.
This means the UN turns a blind eye to Saudi Arabia’s crimes. Take the behavior of the UN’s General Assembly, its main deliberative, policymaking, and representative organ. One of its functions is to issue resolutions condemning member-states (and other international actors) that are in violation of the UN Charter. In 2018, it issued 27 condemnations. None of them were against Saudi Arabia — while Israel, the freest country in the Middle East, received 21 of the 27 condemnations. Saudi Arabia didn’t get a single condemnation despite the fact that in the first quarter of 2018 alone, there were at least 48 decapitationsin the country, most of them for non-violent crimes and carried out without prior due process.
But not only does the UN avoid condemning Saudi Arabia — it also appoints the regime  to human rights bodies, including, even more absurd, bodies which allegedly advocate the rights of women. Saudi Arabia was elected to the UN Commission on the Status of Women, to the UN Entity for Gender Equality & Empowerment of Women, and to the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. What this means is that Saudi Arabia is responsible for monitoring that the rights which it denies are enforced around the world.
Saudi Arabia is the regime from which Rahaf fled precisely because of its barbaric treatment of women. By elevating it to a role where it supposedly is concerned with the proper treatment of women, the UN provides moral cover for Saudi Arabia’s crimes.

A wider pattern

The UN’s enabling of Saudi Arabia goes back years. Well before Saudi Arabia was elected to safeguard the rights of women, it was already a member of the UN’s global watchdog of rights, the Human Rights Council.
Saudi Arabia had never been called out at the Human Rights Council by other member-states — until recently. In a very rare rebuke, a few countries expressed lukewarm condemnation of the regime’s violations of the freedom of the press and of its abusive national security provisions, focusing particularly on the imprisonment of women activists. According to the New York Times, “the statement drew applause from human rights groups, which said it broke Saudi Arabia’s apparent impunity from condemnation in the council.” Let’s be clear: the Human Rights Council didn’t officially condemn Saudi Arabia, only a handful of states did.
The fact that even this is a rare and unprecedented rebuke is telling of the free pass that Saudi Arabia enjoys. The rebuke looks more like a reaction to the international outcry against Saudi Arabia’s recent highly publicized crimes (such as the grisly murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the crackdown on activists), rather than a serious reckoning over Saudi Arabia’s character and the UN’s whitewashing of it.

The root of the problem

What explains the UN’s ongoing treatment of Saudi Arabia? Does the UN look the other way at the country’s evils because, with the state’s plentiful oil money, it is a major funder of the UN? No, Saudi Arabia in 2019 contributed less than did Spain, the Netherlands or Mexico. The answer lies elsewhere, in the fact that the UN puts all countries on equal footing and grants them power and opportunities, regardless of their moral status.
The UN puts good and bad regimes on par, as if they were morally equal. Ayn Rand likened the UN to a “crime-fighting committee whose board of directors included the leading gangsters of the community.”
This idea was central to the UN when it came into being upon ratification of its charter by the five members of the Security Council. Who were the founding members? Notably, they included the United States, the freest country in the world — but also the Soviet Union, a brutal dictatorship. The permanent members of the Security Council are the US, France, and the UK — along with Russia and China, two countries that repudiate the principle of individual rights.
The UN puts good and bad regimes on par, as if they were morally equal. Ayn Rand likened the UN to a “crime-fighting committee whose board of directors included the leading gangsters of the community.”
The inclusion of Saudi Arabia on the Human Rights Council, for example, is far from an exception. The Council also includes states such as Venezuela, whose government is starving its citizens to death, and Eritrea, a one-man dictatorship where forced labor is rampant and freedom of expression is nonexistent.
Because of the UN’s principle of amoral neutrality, it must give prestige and power to criminal regimes. If the millions of people killed by the Russian and Chinese states does not prevent these nations from being permanent members of the UN’s Security Council, why should Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women prevent it from serving on the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women?
Rahaf Mohammed risked her life to flee the torment of living in Saudi Arabia. Barricaded in a hotel room, she was in danger of being taken by the Saudis. About this, she said: “I was prepared to end my own life before they kidnapped me.”
The fate that Rahaf managed to escape is the hell that millions of Saudi women remain subjected to. Isn’t it well past time to question the legitimacy of an organization that is a willing accomplice to their oppression?

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Our lost heritage - ‘We the people of Pakistan, irrespective of religion, are the true Indians’

By Parvez Mahmood

Modern-day Pakistanis have suffered an identity crisis in their efforts to distance themselves from their Subcontinental origins.

Pakistan was created to allow Muslims to live as free citizens without the fear of being dominated by a resurgent, occasionally hostile, Hindu majority. However, not feeling secure even in independence, Pakistani people have driven themselves to a social and historical narrative that strives to align our genetic origins with our religious roots in the East. In pursuit of this goal, we have also shed our heritage; the very values and customs that defined a nation. Some of these trends to delink from the indigenous Indian society started a millennium ago in an atmosphere of insecurity due to frequent armed incursions from the Western passes. After independence, the Pakistani nation should have felt secure enough to display affinity with this land but then the religious zealots took us on a confounded and misleading trajectory.
At the outset, let it be clear that there is no illusion about religion being an important factor in the lives of people all over the world. Even in this age of relative atheism, “living together” and secularism in the liberal Western countries, where people have been estranged from religion, the church continues to hold a visibly important place in society. Irrespective of the level of affinity with religion, births, deaths and marriages are often solemnized as religious events in the church by a priest. Even under the communist regimes, where religion was officially abolished and legally suppressed for a hundred years, people continue to find solace in divine convictions.

Modern depiction of Chanakya

However, we in Pakistan have employed religion as a pivot to distance ourselves from our own land, culture, history and heritage. There has been little realization that in attempting to be what we are not and in rejecting what we are, we will be lost as a people. Being neither here nor there implies that we are nowhere. We have an apt proverb in Urdu for this situation that describes a creature as one half partridge and the other half a quail. That is our true description too.
In trying to move away from being Indians, we have induced ourselves to be Arabesque or Persianate. Now, of course, the Arabs, Persians and Turks are our  closest social and religious kith and kin, our natural allies and we feel a natural affinity for them. A large section of our people carries their genes, as well as habits of dress, food, culture and surnames. However, we belong to the South Asian Subcontinent. We are neither Arabs, nor Turks, nor Persians. Even if we try to be one of them, we shall become unacceptable intruders and imposters. Try telling an Arab that in being a Syed, one is an Arab; or telling a Turk that one’s surname of Bokhari entitles one to be a Turk; or a Persian that being a Shirazi by name, one is Persian. Instead of acceptance, such a claim can only raise a mocking smirk!
For some reason, we in Pakistan today portray Chanakya as a villain and a demon whereas he was a realist and understood the complexities of governing a large empire populated with diverse nationalities
One staggering loss in this identity crisis has been a name that has been appropriated by our Eastern neighbour. We are children of the Indus. Most of the country and its nearly entire grain producing farmlands are drained by this river and its numerous large and small tributaries. There are three major geographical divisions of the Subcontinent. One of them is the Vindhya Hill ranges that separate North and South India. The second is the gentle hump separating the east-flowing Ganges and its tributaries and the West-flowing Indus and its tributaries – this distinguishes the modern nations of Pakistan and Bharat.
The Persians called the land Hindush, a Sanskrit equivalent of Sindhu, which was the historical local reference to the Indus River. Even the ancient Greeks referred to the Indians as Indoi, which translates as “The people of the Indus”. We, the people of Pakistan were therefore in error in simply relinquishing the name ‘India’ to our eastern neighbour. It is our name.

Carving of Lord Buddha from the region that is today Pakistan

The great Sanskrit poem Mahabharata tells us that Bharat, meaning the ‘Cherished’, was a descendant of the Lunar dynasty and was the ancestor of Kauravas and Pandavas, two antagonists of that epic battle. We are also told that he sacrificed horses on the banks of the Yamuna, the Saraswati and the Ganges, but none for the Indus. Bharat, therefore, is the proper religious, cultural and natural name of a country that reveres the Mahabharata and the Ganges.
That the people beyond the Indus were called Indoos or Hindus, who happened to be of a different religion, is a geographical allusion and not a religious one. Nevertheless, we the people of Pakistan, irrespective of their religion, are the true Indians; the inhabitants of the land of the Indus. Of course this cultural loss has now gained permanence as Bharat and India are the official names of our eastern neighbour but we need to be mindful of our cultural loss in losing our rightful alternate name.

Stone carving from ancient Taxila

The second loss is that of historical narrative. This is a great loss and has multiple dimensions. The Subcontinent was ruled by Sultans of Turkish and Persian origin. for seven hundred years, from the Ghaznavid raids in or about 1000 AD to Nader Shah’s invasion in 1739 AD. These ruling families, their fellow migrant noble compatriots and their chroniclers legitimately traced their history to their own lands of origin. Unfortunately, this trend, fuelled by the religious class, crept in the psyche of most of the Subcontinent’s Muslims. My paternal grandfather’s great grandfather converted to Islam. He was a migrant from Kashmir to Amritsar. My family had lived in the valley for centuries since the Aryan irruption from Central Asia. How do I shun or escape this history and at what point do I cut short my past and dishonestly develop factitious links to some prominent town or personality of the erstwhile Abbasid province of Khorasan? This is not to say that those who do so, believing that to be their factual lineage, are wrong but the question still stands: at what point in time does one start belonging to the land that has nourished one’s forefathers and delete the various prefixes and suffixes that indicate them to be progeny of intruders and raiders of this land?
When renouncing the history of our part of the land, we have become alienated from some of the sons of this soil who should have done us proud. The first of these is the dignified Raja Porus who was born in the Punjab and his kingdom extended over the Chaj Doab – the land falling between the rivers Jhelum and Chenab. His blood descendants are more likely to be living amongst us rather than across the border. We should claim him as one of our heroes. There is hardly any reason for repudiating his legacy from our national narratives especially when the famous battle of the Hydaspes, between the ancient Punjabi armies of Porus and Greek forces of Alexander the Great was fought in 326BC. That happened 900 years before Islam and 300 hundred years before Christianity came into being. We live on an ancient land that was a thriving concern much before these religions came into existence. We should be proud of that.

The Bakhshali manuscripts are ancient mathematical treatises discovered near modern-day Mardan, which is today in Pakistan

Taxila – Takshashila – of the ancient world- was the centre of a great civilization. One of its greatest luminaries was Chanakya, also known as Kautilya, He was a philosopher, a political scientist and an economist. His Arthasastra is perahps the first ever treatise on politics, statecraft and economics, predating Machiavelli’s The Prince by 1,800 years. He mentored Chandragupta, the architect of the Mauryan Empire and served as his Chief Minister. He was in his 40s when Alexander traversed from north to south through the land that constitutes all four provinces of Pakistan. He helped in defeating and expelling the Greeks from Punjab to well across the Indus. He is perhaps the greatest Indian of the ancient world and he was born and raised in Taxila; on the northern slopes of Islamabad’s Margalla Hills.
For some reason, we in Pakistan today portray Chanakya as a villain and a demon whereas he was a realist and understood the complexities of governing a large empire populated with diverse nationalities. He was a great philosopher of political science and laid the foundations of this discipline of scholarship. His appearance in the sketches available on the internet casts him as a typical temple priest. They are images conceived by a Brahmanical mindset and may or may not bear any similarity to the historical Chanakya. However, that is immaterial. He, too, lived much before the advent of Islam or Christianity and Pakistanis should not hold a religious grudge against persons of pre-Islamic times. We should be proud that our land – in the neighbourhood of our capital city – gave birth to this sage. We could even establish a department in Taxila university in his name to teach political science and political economy, the subjects that he conceived.
The legacy of the Gandhara civilization is primarily our heritage and not necessarily that of the people of the Ganga-Yamuna or trans-Narmada regions
Among so many others, another local achievement of great significance that we have neglected to tell our children is the fact that the oldest mathematical manuscript in the world was found at Bakhshali, a village north-east of Mardan. The document, carbon dated to AD 224-383, contains the first recorded zero in history. The 70 leaves of birch bark contain mathematical rules, problems and their solutions in arithmetic, algebra and geometry, on topics of fractions, square roots, progressions and equations of linear and quadratic type. That is a lot of modern calculations. No wonder that India is acclaimed as the original home of numerals  and mathematics! It flourished in the regions encompassing the Taxila civilization from where it spread eastwards to the rest of the Subcontinent and westwards to Persia and beyond.
The cultural and scientific achievements that are the legacy of the Gandhara civilization are primarily our heritage and not necessarily that of the people of  the Ganga-Yamuna or trans-Narmada regions who now take the overwhelming amount of credit for these inventions.

The meeting of Alexander and Porus after their great battle on the banks of the Jhelum

It is actually the ancestors of modern-day Pakistanis who have given numerals and mathematics to the world. We should feel that pride and claim the honour.

Pakistan’s social media and its biggest victims

The recent media report about a young woman committing suicide allegedly following blackmail by a man and his friends is another awful manifestation of how social media in Pakistan is exploited for subjugation of women. Fears of private information becoming public; reaction of family members, in particular that of male members; and the shame and societal pressure in varying degrees shape a system in which women end up being bracketed a victim or a survivor.
Conditioning of girls and women to adapt to a system of values that stems from patriarchal definitions of right and wrong is the norm. Any deviations from it are dealt with in ways that range from verbal reprimands and harassment to physical violence and murder. In a society with a great deal of emphasis on appearances, social media promotes a culture of shame and silence and has a role in cultivation of dangerously negative attitudes.
The potential anonymity of social media emboldens some users to be their real selves in the disgusting sense of acknowledging no rules and boundaries. A single click can make a personal photograph visible on myriad screens and endanger a life. In a world governed by the Internet, where fake news has the power to make or break governments, there is no limit to what an average person can do to destroy somebody. Personal information shared with a friend end up being used for blackmail; photos shown to those close to one are used as a tool of revenge; a little editing turns an innocent photograph into a pornographic image.
Social media has the power to do a great deal of good. It also has the power to do an unimaginable amount of harm.
There are laws and guidelines for cyber safety. Caution is advised for all who use social media and yet terrible things continue to happen. Targeted harassment, abusive trolling, character assassination and spreading of rumours – there is nothing that social media is not used for in dark and ominous ways. Constant personal vigilance and reporting of all unsavoury online behaviour can deter some of the predators but the malaise is hard to eliminate.
Beyond the laws, measures taken by some digital rights companies and safety parameters of social media platforms, there is a need for a long-term cleansing of the system by altering societal attitudes. What needs to change is the way women are treated, how they are labelled and the boxes in which they are forced to fit. What needs to end is misogyny. What needs to be understood is that a woman’s body and character are not the property of male members of her family.
It all starts at home. It all starts with how boys are raised. Societies change when mothers become the guiding force. 

#Pakistan - A chance for women to step out

Realising the strength of women voters in numbers, all major political parties have turned their attention on them for the forthcoming provincial assembly elections in former Fata.
Fifty five year old Zahida Bibi cast her vote for the first time in the July 25, 2018 elections. “My son brought women of our family in a car provided by a political party to cast our votes. I felt empowerment because earlier voting was perceived to be an activity specific to men,” she says.
Bibi is a resident of Mamond region of Bajaur, a former tribal district that merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa recently. Like other women living in the tribal region, she was not allowed to exercise their constitutional right to vote because of cultural taboos and in some cases tacit agreements among all contesting candidates.
Encouraged by the power of voting — as “The candidate I voted for won his seat” – Bibi is now eager to cast her vote again in the provincial assembly polls based on the 26th Constitutional Amendment Bill that was passed unanimously in the National Assembly on May 13, 2019. The Bill will increase the number of national and provincial assembly seats in former Fata. The date for the polls will be announced after the delimitation of the constituencies is done.
According to the ECP’s updated statistics, there are over 2.8 million voters in seven tribal districts and six frontier regions (FRs) and 1.13 million (40.34 percent) of them are women. Realising the strength of women voters in numbers, all major political parties have turned their attention on them.
According to a May 11 report in Dawn that cited ECP statistics, Bajaur has the highest number of women voters at 219,359 out of a total of 534,003 (41.07 percent), followed by Khyber district at 231,072 out of 532,087 (43.42 percent), South Waziristan 149,060 out of 386,829 (38.53 percent), Kurram tribal district 155,923 out of 360,741 (43.22 per cent); North Waziristan 109,521 out of 320,177 (34.20 percent), Mohmand 105,281 out of 280,499 (37.53 per cent), and Orakzai 85,695 out of 196,436 (43.62 percent).
Since 1997, when general elections on the basis of the adult franchise were introduced in tribal areas, only four to five percent tribal women have voted in the polls. Before that, the elections in tribal areas were based on selective voting — some 35,000 malaks and all men — were entitled to cast votes and a majority of them sold votes to the highest bidder. But in the last general polls of 2018 a visible change was witnessed.
Anwarullah Khan, a journalist based in Bajaur, says women voter turnout was high in his district in 2018. “In the 2013 general elections only 2,800 out of a total of 133,627 women voters exercised their franchise in Bajaur’s two National Assembly constituencies.” However, in the 2018 polls, “54,535 of a total of 133,858 women voters exercised their franchise in the region”.
The women voting ratio has also improved after the ECP made it mandatory that elections in a constituency would be declared null and void if 10 percent women do not cast vote, and because of it, all contesting political parties are making efforts to ensure women participation in the elections.
A total of 30 candidates from the merged areas, from different political parties, have submitted their nomination papers for four seats reserved for women in the KP Assembly.
However, the ECP noted that women voter turnout remained lower than 10 percent in two National Assembly seats (NA-10 Shangla and NA-48 North Waziristan) and in one KP assembly seat (PK-23 Shangla). The ECP nullified the election in PK-23 and polling was reordered in the constituency.
In the case of NA-48 North Waziristan, Mohsin Dawar, a leader of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement, who won as an independent candidate, had informed the ECP weeks in advance that 89 out of a total of 161 polling stations in his constituency did not offer separate polling facility for men and women, and some 20 polling stations reserved only for women were not easily accessible to them. He warned the commission that it would discourage women in his ultra-conservative district to cast their votes.
A total of 30 women candidates from the merged areas, representing different political parties, have submitted their nomination papers for four seats reserved for women in the KP Assembly. The ECP through a notification has announced that only registered women voters in the former tribal districts will be eligible to submit nominations on seats reserved for women.
However, only three women of 438 total candidates have submitted their papers on general seats. Among them is Ali Begum, who contested from Kurram in 2018 and secured 1,300 votes (most of them were women). Badam Zari from Bajaur, who contested the elections on a general seat in 2013 and secured 140 votes, has decided to not contest this time.
Shahida Shah, a rights activist working for women empowerment in the former tribal region says, “because of the sudden passage of the 26th Constitutional Amendment and the delay in announcing the poll schedule, women candidates interested in contesting on general seats got confused mainly because shortage of time”.
She adds major political parties, like PTI, Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Fazl, and Pakistan Peoples’ Party should be bound to award at least five percent tickets to women on general seats.

Video Report - Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's press conference - 26 May 2019

#StateAttackedPTM - Watch what Bilawal Bhutto Zardari answers to reporter related PTM's questions

د ګلالۍ اسماعیل پر کور چاپې د بشري حقونو فعالان اندېښمن کړي

په پاکستان کې د بشري حقونو فعالان د مدني فعالې ګلالۍ اسماعیل پر کور د پولیسو چاپې اندېښمن کړي او وايي د حکومت دا اقدام د بیان د ازادۍ مخنیوی کول دي.

د ګلالۍ اسماعیل پلار پروفیسر محمد اسماعیل وايي، پولیسو د مې پر ۲۵مه پېشمني مهال د هغوی پر کور چاپه ووهله او د ګلالۍ اسماعیل پوښتنه یې وکړه.
نوموړی وايي، ګلالۍ اسماعیل یواځې د پښتنو د حقونو خبره کړې او دا کوم جرم نه دی چې ریاستي ادارې دې ورپسې شي. نوموړي وویل:
"بېګا پولیس زموږ کور ته راغلل او ویل یې چې ګلالۍ ګورو. ما ورته وویل، هغه واده شوې ده او دلته نه اوسېږي خو کله کله راځي. موږ اوس وکیلانو سره مشورې کوو چې مخکې څه وکړو؟"
د ګلالۍ اسماعیل پر ضد د اسلام اباد په "شهزاد ټاون تاڼه" کې د ترهګرۍ مقدمه درج شوې ده. په ټولنیزه میډیا خپور دې اېف ای ار کې لیکل شوي چې ګلالۍ اسماعیل په اسلام اباد کې د مومندو وژل شوې ماشومې فرشتې په اړه د یوې غونډې پرمهال د ریاستي ادارو خلاف خبرې کړې دي او نور پښتانه یې د پاکستان خلاف د راپارولو هڅه کړې ده.
د اېف ای ار په پاڼه د ټېلېفون لمبر سره "عبدالرشید تاڼه شهزاد ټاون" لیکل شوي. له دغه تن سره مو چې د اېف ای ار په اړه د تفصیل اخیستو لپاره رابطه وکړه نو یواځې دومره یې وویل:
"په دې اړه پلټنې روانې دي نو نور هېڅ نشمه ویلی."
ګلالۍ اسماعیل د ۲۰۱۸ز کال د اکتوبر پر ۱۲مه له لندنه اسلام اباد ته د رسېدو پرمهال پر هوايي ډګر نیول شوې وه او نوم یې د هغو کسانو په لېسټ کې اچول شوی وو چې له هېواده بهر پرې پر سفر بندېز وي.
نوموړې د فبرورۍ پر پینځمه د پښتون ژغورنې غورځنګ د یو مخکښ غړي محمد ابراهیم ارمان لوڼی د وژنې پر ضد په اسلام اباد کې د مظاهرې پرمهال پولیسو ونیوله خو بیا یې یوه ورځ وروسته خوشې کړه.
د دې ترڅنګ په صوابۍ کې د پښتون ژغورني غورځنګ په یو جلسه کې هم پر هغې د ریاست خلاف د خبرو په تور اېف ای ار شوی وو.
ايا د ریاست خلاف خبرې د ترهګرۍ په زمره کې راځي؟ د قانوني چار پوه کریم مسود یې په اړه وايي:
"د ترهګرۍ دفعات په هغو لګي چې څوک وسله راواخلي او د ریاست خلاف د بغاوت اعلان وکړي او حملې شورو کړي نو په هغه صورت کې دغه کسان د ریاست ضد په فعالیتونو کې ککړېږي. خو بیا د پاکستان په قانون کې دا هم شته چې که څوک د استخباراتي ادارو خلاف سختې خبرې کوي او د کرکې څرګندونه ترې کېږي نو بیا هم ریاست سره دا اختیار شته چې د هغو کسانو خلاف د ترهګرۍ کیسونه جوړ کړي."
د عوامي نیشنل ګوند غړې او د بشري حقونو مبارزه جمیله ګیلاني بیا وايي، د ګلالۍ په څېر کسانو پر ضد د ترهګرۍ مقدمې درج کول او د هغوی په پرامنه احتجاجونو بندېز لګول د بیان د ازادۍ او د ولس د حقونو لپاره د اییني غوښتنو مخنیوی دی.
"ډېر لږ خلک داسي رښتیا وايي، د ګلالۍ په تقریر کې داسې هېڅ خبره نه وه چې ګواکې هغې د پاکستان ریاست ننګولی دی. هغې یواځې د بشري حقونو په اړه خبره کړې ده چې باید د فرشتي او د خیسور د پېښو په څېر د واقعاتو مخنیوی وشي. که څوک د حق خبره کوي او مظلومانو سره درېږي نو هغوی سره به ریاست داسي چلند کوي؟ زما خیال نه دی چې خلک به ووېرېږي او خاموشه شي."
ګلالۍ اسماعیل ته د نجونو د تعلیم او حقونو لپاره پر مبارزه یو شمېر نړیوالې جایزې هم ورکړل شوې دي. خو پر نوموړې له هغه وروسته مقدمې درج کېدل پیل شوې چې په پښتون ژغورنې غورځنګ کې یې فعالیت شورو کړ او د یاد غورځنګ په غونډو کې یې ویناوې وکړې.
د پاکستاني پوځ وياند اصف غفور د اپرېل پر ۲۹مه، ویلي ول چې د پښتون تحفظ مومنټ پلویان د نورو په لاسونو کې لوبېږي او خبرداری یې ورکړی وو چې نور یې وخت تېر شوی، پر ضد به یې قانوني اقدام کوي.

د پاکستان پوځ په شمالي وزیرستان کې پر مظاهره چیانو په برید کې لږترلږه ۳ تنه وژلي او ګڼ نور ټپیان کړي

په شمالي وزیرستان کې د پښتون ژغورنې غورځنګ پر مظاهره چیانو د پاکستاني پوځیانو په حمله کې لږترلږه ۳ تنه وژل شوي او لسګونه نور ژوبل دي.

خو د پاکستان پوځ وايي، د پښتون ژغورنې غورځنګ پلویانو په شمالي وزیرستان کې د دوی پر یوې پوستې برید وکړ چې په نتیجه کې یې ۵ پوځیان ژوبل شول.
دا په داسې حال کې ده چې خپلواکې رسنۍ او د سیمې اوسېدونکي وايي، د پاکستاني پوځ د پښتون ژغورنې غورځنګ پر مظاهره چیانو ډزې کړي چې له کبله یې لږترلږه ۳ احتجاج کوونکي وژل شوي او شاوخوا ۲۰ تنه نور ژوبل دي.
په ټپیانو کې د پښتون ژغورنې غورځنګ مخکښ مشر او د ملي جرګې (نشنل اسمبلي) غړی محس داوړ هم شامل دی خو داوړ رسنیو ته ویلي چې ټپ یې برسېرن دی.
همداراز شاهدان وايي چې پوځ د پښتون ژغورنې یو بل مشر علي وزیر او د ګرنډ جرګې مشر ګل عالم نیولي دي.
له حملې وروسته د پاکستان پوځ په سیمه کې ګرځبندیز لګولی دی.
د پښتون ژغورنې غورځنګ او د سیمې اوسېدونکو وروسته له دې احتجاج وکړ چې تېره شپه د دوی په وینا امنیتي ځواکونو د سیمې خلک وځورول.
پوځ څو ورځې مخکې په دې خاطر د سیمې یو شمېر اوسېدونکي ونیول او تشدد یې ورسره وکړ چې نامعلومو وسله والو د پوځ پر یوې پوستې برید وکړ.
د پاکستان پوځ وايي چې د دوی د ځواکونو په برید کې ۳ مظاهره چیان وژل شوي او لس نور ژوبل دي.
پوځ همداراز ادعا کړې چې د مظاهره چیانو مشرانو علي وزیر او محسن داوړ هڅه کوله چې پر پوځ فشار راوړي چې تروریستان خوشي کړي.
د پاکستان پوځ په وروستیو کلونو کې د قبایلي سیمو لسګونه زره ځوانان له تروریزم سره د تړاو په نوم وژلي یا بې درکه کړي دي.
په شمالي وزیرستان کې دا تازه خوندی تشدد وروسته له دې کېږي چې تېره میاشت د پاکستان د پوځ ویندوی د قوې په وسیله د پښتون ژغورنې غورځنګ د ځپلو خبرداری ورکړ.

Three killed by military gunfire at Pakistan rights protest

By Asad Hashim

While the military claims protesters attacked a checkpoint, rights group says soldiers fired on unarmed protesters.
At least three people have been killed and more than 15 wounded after gunfire erupted near a Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) protest against enforced disappearances in the northwestern Pakistani region of North Waziristan. This is the latest flare-up of tension between the country's powerful military and the rights group.
Gunfire occurred at the protest led by two PTM leaders, who are also members of parliament, near a checkpoint in the Khar Qamar area of North Waziristan on Sunday morning, the military said in a statement.
There were conflicting reports on who initiated the violence, with PTM activists telling Al Jazeera that soldiers fired on unarmed protesters, while the military said the protesters "assaulted" the post, led by Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir, both elected members of the National Assembly from the area in a general election last year.
Wazir and eight others were taken into custody following the violence, the military statement said. Dawar's whereabouts remain unknown. Five soldiers were among those wounded, the military said.
Saud Dawar, the PTM leader's brother, told Al Jazeera that family members had received word that Mohsin Dawar was unhurt, but that they had not been able to establish direct contact with him.
Dawar and Wazir were leading a protest in the area against an alleged enforced disappearance perpetrated by the military. The military said the man arrested was a "suspected terrorists' facilitator".
Mobile phone reception and internet connectivity in North Waziristan is some of the worst in the South Asian country, with limited infrastructure erected in a district that has been among the lowest performing on governance and socioeconomic indicators for decades.
Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify details of the violence due to the limited connectivity to the area.

PTM alleges rights abuses

The PTM shot to prominence in January last year when it led countrywide protests against the extrajudicial killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud, a young man from South Waziristan, by the police.
The group, whose leadership is comprised of young rights activists from the war-torn tribal districts where Pakistan has waged the bulk of its war against the Tahreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its allies, has been campaigning for accountability for alleged rights abuses by the armed forces in the war.
It has three main demands: the clearance of land mines and other unexploded ordnance from the tribal districts; an end to extrajudicial killings in Pakistan's war against armed groups; and accountability for thousands of people who have been subjected to enforced disappearances by the state.
North Waziristan, once a stronghold of the TTP, was cleared by Pakistan's military after a security operation was launched in 2014 to dismantle the group.
The PTM's campaign has often brought the group up against Pakistan's powerful military, which has ruled the country for roughly half of its 71-year history and public criticism of which is considered rare for fear of reprisals.
Last month, the military accused the PTM of being funded by foreign intelligence agencies and warned leaders that their "time is up".
"The way they are playing into the hands of others, their time is up," said military spokesperson Major-General Asif Ghafoor, in the military's most forceful statement yet against a group that has faced arbitrary detentions, treason charges against its leaders and a blanket ban on media coverage of its events.
On Sunday, PTM leader Manzoor Pashteen said his group would continue to fight for justice peacefully.
"This is a follow up of [Ghafoor's] threat of 'time is up'," Pashteen tweeted. "During past few days, [the military's] social media teams have been creating the atmosphere for this attack today. Strongly protest this cowardly attack. PTM will continue its nonviolent constitutional struggle."