Sunday, June 2, 2019

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Opinion - Bernie Sanders: I Know Where I Came From. Does President Trump?

By Bernie Sanders
My political agenda has been shaped by my family’s experiences of struggling to make ends meet.
My father came to this country from Poland at the age of 17 with barely a nickel in his pocket. I spent my first 18 years, before I left home for college, in a three-and-a-half-room, rent-controlled apartment in Brooklyn. My mother’s dream was to own her own home, but we never came close. My father’s salary as a paint salesman paid for basic necessities, but never much more.As a young man I learned the impact that lack of money had on family life. Every major household purchase was accompanied by arguments between my parents.I remember being yelled at for going to the wrong store for groceries and paying more than I should have. I’ve never forgotten the incredible stress of not having much money, a reality that millions of American families experience today.
We are the wealthiest nation in the history of the world and, according to President Trump, the economy is “booming.” Yet most Americans have little or no savings and live paycheck to paycheck.
Today our rate of childhood poverty is among the highest of any developed country in the world, millions of workers are forced to work two or three jobs just to survive, hundreds of thousands of bright young people cannot afford to go to college, millions more owe outrageous levels of student debt, and half a million people are homeless on any given night. Over 80 million Americans have inadequate health insurance or spent part or all of last year without any insurance, and one out of five cannot afford the prescription drugs they need.While wages in the United States have been stagnant for over 40 years, we have more income and wealth inequality than at any time since the 1920s.
Today, the wealthiest three families in the country own more wealth than the bottom half of the American people and the top 1 percent owns more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. Millions of workers earn starvation wages even as nearly half of all new income is going to the top 1 percent.
Gentrification is ravaging working-class neighborhoods, forcing many struggling Americans to spend half or more of their incomes to put a roof over their heads. The rent-controlled apartment I grew up in was small, but at least we could afford it.
I am running for president because we must defeat Donald Trump, the most dangerous president in the modern history of our country. But, if we are to defeat Mr. Trump, we must do more than focus on his personality and reactionary policies.
We must understand that unfettered capitalism and the greed of corporate America are destroying the moral and economic fabric of this country, deepening the very anxieties that Mr. Trump appealed to in 2016. The simple truth is that big money interests are out of control, and we need a president who will stand up to them.Wall Street, after driving the United States into the worst economic downturn since the 1930s, now makes tens of billions in profits while forcing working-class Americans to pay usurious interest rates on their credit card debt. The top 10 American drug companies, repeatedly investigated for price fixing and other potentially illegal actions, made nearly $70 billion in profits last year, even as Americans paid the most per capita among developed nations for their prescription medicine.Top executives in the fossil fuel industry spend hundreds of millions on campaign contributions to elect candidates who represent the rich and the powerful, while denying the reality of climate change.
Major corporations like Amazon, Netflix, General Motors and dozens of others make huge profits, but don’t pay federal income taxes because of a rigged tax system they lobbied to create.
Back in 1944, in his State of the Union speech, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt reminded the nation that economic security is a human right, and that people cannot be truly free if they have to struggle every day for their basic needs. I agree.
We must change the current culture of unfettered capitalism in which billionaires have control over our economic and political life. We need to revitalize American democracy and create a government and economy that works for all. Yes, the government should guarantee a decent paying job for all Americans and universal health care through a single-payer system. Yes, we should raise the minimum wage to a living wage of $15 an hour, make it easier for workers to join unions, provide free tuition to public colleges and substantially lower student debt. Yes, we should wean ourselves off of fossil fuels, reform a racist criminal justice system and enact comprehensive immigration reform with a path toward citizenship.
As the working-class son of an immigrant, I know where I came from. My values as a candidate were shaped by the experiences of my youth — and by the realization that many Americans face the same struggles today.
Conservatives dishonestly try to link the policies I favor with those of authoritarian regimes. But I am calling for a true democracy, one that abides by the principle of one person, one vote, and that doesn’t allow billionaires to buy elections.
F.D.R. did it. We can do it again.

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Pakistani PM Imran Khan, in a major diplomatic embarrassment, showed disrespect to the Saudi King

In a major embarrassment, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on his two-day official visit to Saudi Arabia met the Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz at the Islamic Summit. The Pakistani premier said something to him and casually walked away before interpreter could interpret anything to the King and he could respond. This event took place at the venue of the 14th Islamic Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held in Makkah.
The video of the episode has been going viral on the internet. The clip is being widely shared on Facebook and Twitter. In the footage, Khan can be seen uttering something to the Majesty and before the interpreter could translate anything to the King, he leaves.

#Pakistan - In search of the truth at Miramshah

By Farhatullah Babar

The PTM should be engaged in a constructive dialogue aimed at healing, writes Farhatullah Babar.

By official account three – but by unofficial account many more – were killed and injured in firing after Pakhtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) marchers were stopped at a military check post in North Waziristan on Sunday.
MNA Ali Wazir, arrested on charges of terrorism, has since been remanded in the custody of the Counter-Terrorism Department by an anti-terrorism court for eight days. Several other leaders of PTM, including MNA Mohsin Dawar, have been nominated in the First Information Report (FIR). Since then, the restive tribal district is under curfew and all telephone lines are suspended.
The use of military force for the first time against PTM in a tribal district must ring alarm bells. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has warned that this can further escalate tensions and even drive a permanent wedge between the people of tribal districts and the state. The need to handle its fallout with great wisdom and caution, therefore, cannot be overemphasised.
The ISPR has blamed “provocation and direct firing” on security forces. The check post was deliberately assaulted to secure “release of a facilitator of suspected terrorists,” it said. These are very serious and provocative charges indeed.
Unfortunately, there was no expression of remorse in the military’s hand out and not a word about holding an inquiry.
Matters were not helped when the federal information minister not only announced “action against the attackers” but also certified that the attackers wanted to “free the terrorists.” No evidence has since been presented.
The provincial government also failed and was silent as if nothing had happened on a territory that became part of it after the 25th Amendment. No official statement was issued and the two spokespersons for the government reportedly were not available for comment.
Except for the PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who condemned the incident and refused to believe that elected representatives and unarmed people had violently attacked a military check post, political parties also did not react strongly.
Expressing “sorrow” and describing the incident as “unfortunate,” the response of most parties was rather muted. Shehbaz Sharif cautioned against “politicisation.” Demanding a “comprehensive report” to the parliament, he refrained from demanding investigations.
Other accounts of the show down, conflicting with the official account, were ignored by parties and the media. No notice was taken of the reports that the residents of Macha Madakhel, a remote village near the Afghan border, had staged a sit-in against humiliating search operations and that PTM workers were on their way there to show solidarity. Reports of a heated altercation at the check post, resulting in the incident, were also ignored.
No one paused to think that official versions are not too readily believed. The PTM was born when it refused to accept the official narrative of the killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud last year. Many one-sided official narratives in the past actually turned out to be horror stories. Recall the long forgotten incident in Tando Bahawal, in which nine poor villagers were killed in cold blood to grab their land.
The prime minister actually congratulated security institutions after a patently false briefing that those killed were RAW agents with Indian-made weapons. However, when truth became known, heroes became villains and villains became heroes and an army major was sent to the gallows.
It was wrong to hurriedly issue a one-sided official version of the Miramshah incident without the promise of an impartial inquiry.
It is not realised that truth has a cathartic value and a genuinely free media helps bring out the truth. But this door is also shut to the PTM. It is taboo for the national media to report their version of events. Whether their protests take place outside the national press clubs or condolence references for Arman Loni are held or public meetings organised and statements issued – the media is not allowed to cover them.
I participated in a Miramshah public meeting last month. A precariously erected make-shift podium, antiquated sound system and a dangerous disregard for security at the venue around a local market did not deter the tens of thousands of youth from yelling their anger and frustration. Not a single TV channel and newspaper reported it.
Journalists choosing to self-censor in a country declared most dangerous for them is not surprising. But censoring PTM, denying it expression and completely strangulating it is unprecedented and counterproductive.
“While vile propaganda against our movement is reported as news, the security establishment has ensured that almost nothing is reported about our movement in the mainstream Pakistani newspapers and television networks,” Manzoor Pashteen wrote in an article in The New York Times in February this year.
PTM’s demands are neither extraordinary nor beyond the constitutional ambit. It has been demanding an end to the bloodshed, probe in extra judicial killings, open trial of hundreds locked up in secret horror chambers, an end to humiliating body searches at checkpoints and demining of tribal regions. It also calls for a truth commission and demands to know who is supporting the former militants who have mysteriously resurfaced, and kill their supporters in targeted attacks.
“A military spokesman declared these Taliban fighters to be members of a peace committee and praised them for fighting terrorism and doing their part for ‘stabilization,’” Pashteen wrote in the same article and asked why?
To be fair, the security establishment has occasionally admitted, grudgingly or otherwise, that some of the grievances of the PTM are not misplaced.
But the military’s response has been wavering and confused. It sometimes links the PTM to foreign-inspired hybrid war against Pakistan, and sometimes woos its leaders. One day MNA Mohsin Dawar’s private constitutional bill to increase parliamentary seats of tribal people is readily embraced by the state, and the next day he is painted treasonous.
One day the military spokesperson warns them that their “time is up,” but the very next day the army chief sings a reconciliatory song. One day, a Senate Committee invites them for talks and the next day they are abused, threatened and reviled. These are signs of nervousness born out of a sense of guilt, of fear of truth – not of an honest resolve.
Instead of labelling them as tools in the 5th generation war against the country, the PTM should be engaged in a constructive dialogue aimed at healing, at reconciliation. Someday the truth has to be faced. Let it begin by finding out the truth behind the incident on Sunday through an open and transparent judicial probe.

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عثمان کاکړ: پاکستان کې د زرګونو پښتنو کارډونه اوس هم بند دي

 د پښتونخوا ملي عوامي ګوند یو مشر او د سېنېټ د بشري حقونو د قایمه کمیټۍ غړي عثمان کاکړ د سېفران [د سرحدونو او ریاستي چارو] د وزیر شهریار اپریدي هغه خبرې رد کړي چې ګواکې د ۱۸۰۰۰۰ پښتنو بلاک شناختي کارډونه یې بیرته فعاله کړي دي.

عثمان کاکړ د جون پر لومړۍ نېټه مشال رېډيو ته وویل، موجوده حکومت د پښتنو د شناختي کارډونو د پرانېستو په لړ کې بې بنیاده ادعاوې کوي او د نادرا ادارې او د حکومتي معلوماتو له مخې اوس هم د ګڼو پښتنو شناختي کارډونه بند دي.
هغه وړاندې وویل: "نادرا وايي چې شاوخوا ۱۵۰۰۰۰ زره شناختي کارډونه اوس هم بند دي او په دې کې ۹۵ فيصده د پاکستان په بېلا بېلو برخو کې د اوسیدونکو پښتنو دي."
د پاکستان د سېفران وزیر شهریار اپریدي د مې پر ۳۱مه په قامي اسمبلۍ کې د تقریر پرمهال ویلي ول چې تېر حکومت د ګڼو پښتنو شناختي کارډونه بند کړي وو خو موجوده حکومت د ۱۸۱۰۰۰ پښتنو شناختي کارډونه بېرته فعاله کړي دي.
شهریار اپریدي دا هم ویلي وو، په پاکستان کې یو مهال داسې قانون جوړ شوی وو چې پکې راغلي وو، په دغه هېواد کې مېشت پښتانه دې دا ثبوت وړاندې کړي چې دوی د ۱۹۷۹ کال نه مخکې هم دغلته اوسېدل. هغه وړاندې وویل:
"دا کار تېرو حکومتونو کړی وو خو د تحریک انصاف د حکومت جوړېدو نه پس مو د ۱۸۱ زرو پښتنو بلاک شوي کارډونه بېرته فعاله کړل."
د مسلم لیګ(ن) په مشرۍ حکومت په ۲۰۱۷م کال کې د ګڼو کسانو شناختي کارډونه په دې شک کې چې ګویا دوی غیر ملکیان دي، بند کړي وو.
د دې ګام پر ضد پښتونخوا ملي عوامي او عوامي نېشنل ګوندونو احتجاجونه وکړل. هغه مهال د کورنیو چارو پخواني وزیر چودري نثار علي خان ویلي ول چې د شناختي کارډونو بیرته فعالولو لپاره دې اړونده ادارو ته په پاکستان کې د ۱۹۷۹م کال نه وړاندې د اوسېدو د ثبوت په توګه د زمکې یا نور اسناد وښودل شي.
خو ګڼ پښتانه دا شکایتونه هم کوي چې په پاکستان کې د اوسېدو د ثبوتونو ښودولو باوجود هم د هغوی شناختي کارډونه لا تراوسه بند دي.

په خیبر پښتونخوا کې ناموسي وژنې زیاتې شوي

په خیبرپښتونخوا کې د بشري حقونو کارکونکي وايي، په دې صوبه کې ناموسي وژني زیاتې شوې دي خو حکومت یې د مخنیوې لپاره سم ګامونه نه پورته کوي.

د ښځو د حقونو لپاره کارکونکې ادارې «دي اوېکنینګ» یو مشر شمشېر علي د جون پر لومړۍ نېټه مشال رېډيو ته وویل، په خیبرپښتونخوا کې یواځې په مې میاشت کې ۱۵ ښځې د غېرت په نوم وژلې شوې دي چې پکې زیاتې یې د سوات دي.
نوموړی وايي، په روان کال کې په خیبر پښتونخوا صوبه کې تر ۲۵ پورې مېرمنې په ورته ډول وژلې شوې دي.
په یوه تازه پېښه کې، د مې پر ۳۰مه د بنو په هاتي خېلو کې یوه مېرمن د غیرت په نوم ووژل شوه. د بنو د پولیسو ویاند اصف حسن د جون پر لومړۍ نېټه مشال رېډيو ته وویل، پر دې ښځې تور وو چې په خپله خوښه یې واده کړی وو. نوموړی وايي: "د دغې ښځې له وژل کېدو وروسته د هغې د کورنۍ درې نور کسان هم وژل شوي دي."
اصف حسن وايي، په وژلو شوو کې د جینۍ تره زامن او وروڼه شامل دي. پولیس د پېښې پلټنه کوي خو ځینې خلک وايي دا درې سړي د کلي خلکو ویشتي دي او ځیني نور بیا په دې اند دي چې کېدی شي د ښځې خاوند یا سخرګنۍ دا کار کړی وي.
دا چې په خيبرپښتونخوا کې د ناموسي وژنو د زیاتېدو علتونه څه دي؟ دي اوېکنینګ ادارې یو مشر شمشېر علي یې په اړه وايي، قبایلي کلتور، د تعلیم کمی، د ښځو د حقونو په اړه کم پوهاوی او د قوانینو په سمه توګه نه عملي کېدل د ناموسي وژونو د زیاتېدو وجوهات دي.
په دې اړه مو له حکومتي چارواکو سره د خبرو هڅې وکړې خو بریالي نه شو، البته د خیبرپښتونخوا حکومت د ښځو د تحفظ او د ناموسي وژونو پر ضد یوه قانوني مسوده اسمبلۍ ته وړاندې کړې ده خو د مذهبي ډلو د نیوکو له وجې لا تر اوسه نه ده منظوره شوې.
د ښځو د حقونو مبارزه شاد بېګم بیا وايي، پخوا به هم ناموسي وژنې کېدلې خو اوس د ټولنیزې میډیا له وجې زیاتې رپورټ کېږي.
د پاکستان پارلیمان په ۲۰۱۶ز کال کې د غیرت په نوم د وژنو د مخ نیوي او په زړو قوانینو کې د بدلون لپاره یوه قانوني مسوده منظوره کړې وه خو د بشري حقونو د پوهانو په وینا په داسې معاملو کې د ګواهانو د غلي پاتې کیدو، د ناسمو پلټنو او د متاثره شوې کورنۍ لخوا د مجرم د معاف کولو له کبله، ذمه وار کسان اکثر د سزا نه بچ پاتې شي

#Pakistan - #Sahiwal: Five children die after air-conditioning unit breaks down at govt hospital

At least five children were killed after an air conditioning unit at Sahiwal’s District Headquarters Hospital broke down on Sunday.
According to Deputy Commissioner Sahiwal Mian Zaman, temperatures rose in the children’s ward at the hospital resulting in the deaths of children.
He added the air conditioning unit from another office was taken and installed in the children’s ward.
Moreover, the deputy commissioner has written a letter to the provincial government informing them of the incident and said they have initiated an inquiry into the incident.
Spokesperson of the Punjab health department has said they have formed a committee to probe the incident and will present a report after conducting an investigation.
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has taken notice of the incident and directed the deputy commissioner to submit an inquiry report.
The chief minister has further directed that a comprehensive investigation be done and those responsible should be brought to justice. 

Espionage case shatters Pakistan army’s myths – and the belief its nuke secrets are secure

The recipient of secrets shared by convicted Pakistani officials was not ‘permanent enemy’ India – but the country that gives it billions of dollars.

The court-martial of three individuals, including a recently retired three-star general, on charges of espionage and revealing classified information to foreign intelligence agencies seriously dents the charisma that helps keep Pakistan’s army in charge of the country.
The fact that senior military officers spied for a foreign country suggests that Pakistan is not as safe in the hands of the men in uniform as is suggested.
If, as has been learnt, the secrets shared by the convicted officers are related to Pakistan’s nuclear programme, the case would increase Pakistan’s paranoia about the security of its nuclear arsenal. Considering that the foreign intelligence service that paid for the secrets shared by the convicted officers belonged to the United States, there is a greater adversarial relationship between Pakistan and the US than is often revealed.

Involvement at the top

On Thursday, Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa approved life imprisonment for retired Lt General Javed Iqbal, and death sentences for retired Brigadier Raja Rizwan Haider and Dr Wasim Akram, a civilian who ostensibly worked in ‘a sensitive organisation.’
The espionage ring reached the highest levels of the Pakistani national security establishment. Lt Gen Iqbal served as Director of Military Operations, Corps Commander, and Adjutant General before retiring in 2015; the ‘sensitive organisation’ that employed Akram was one of the Pakistan’s many covert nuclear facilities.
To my knowledge, there are several other individuals currently under investigation and there might be more courts-martial and more convictions down the line.
The investigation into the possibility of military officers sharing intelligence and information with US intelligence services started soon after the raid in May 2011 that resulted in the killing of Osama bin Laden in the garrison town of Abbottabad.
The Pakistani establishment’s propaganda machine created a distraction in the form of the so-called ‘Memogate’ case against me, forcing my resignation as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US and a long-drawn case in the Supreme Court, which never resulted in a trial.
Fake news stories appeared in the Pakistani media about how Pakistan’s elected civilian government had granted visas to the CIA personnel to enter the country and how the US mercenary security corporation, Blackwater, had been covertly allowed in.
In the Pakistani public’s eye, the Abbottabad raid was framed, not as a question of why the world’s most wanted terrorist lived in Pakistan, but as the matter of how the Americans were able to discover him. A major fear was that if the Americans could penetrate Pakistan’s air defences without detention to get Bin Laden, what prevents them from coming in to decapitate Pakistan’s nuclear programme.
All this time, behind the smoke and mirrors of propaganda against civilians, the Pakistan army was quietly discovering spies and information-sellers within its own ranks. The members of ISI, and not the civilians, were the CIA’s go-to contacts in Pakistan, and individuals like Lt Gen Iqbal had more useful information than any civilian could have access to.
But, as is often the case, the army wanted to preserve its image and kept its inquiries secret. Stories about the case started to percolate when the family members of one of the accused went to court to find out where and why he was being held. Once it was not possible to keep the matter secret, the army decided to present it as proof of accountability within its ranks.

Threat to Pakistan’s ‘nuclear threat’

Pakistan’s nuclear programme has been pieced together with designs and components acquired from multiple sources over many years. Revelation of sources from where Pakistan acquires the necessary inputs for its nukes, or the location of its covert nuclear facilities, diminish the quality of Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence.
The army is already trying to spin the case as proof of its internal checks and balances. An Inter-Services Public Relations press release only said that the three men had been convicted by a Field Court Martial on charges of espionage and divulging “sensitive information to foreign agencies prejudice to the national security.”
But what was not said is far more revealing. For several decades, Pakistanis have been assured that their army is the only and ultimate guarantor of Pakistan’s security. Several civilians who disagree with the army-backed national narrative – including Fatima Jinnah, sister of the country’s founder – have been described as ‘traitors’ for their contrarian opinions over the years.
None of the critical civilians tagged with the ‘traitor’ label were ever accused of specific crimes and no one has ever been charged with espionage for a foreign intelligence service. Now, it turns out that in a country controlled by the army, the individuals with access to secrets that might interest a foreign intelligence service come from within the army.

Where the enemy isn’t India

Moreover, the recipient of secrets shared by the convicted officials was not ‘permanent enemy’ India, which is the target of constant propaganda by Pakistan’s establishment. It was the United States, the donor of $43 billion in economic and military assistance and for years Pakistan’s patron and ally.
Clearly, US-Pakistan relations are no longer just a Cold War alliance gone sour but an increasingly adversarial relationship.
As the US now deems China a major threat in the Indo-Pacific, and Pakistan continues to draw China closer because of its obsession with India, Pakistanis are keeping more and more secrets from the Americans. The Americans, on the other hand, are trying harder to uncover Pakistani secrets, pitting the two sides against one another.
The discovery of Pakistani military officers spying for the US on Pakistan’s nuclear programme also raises questions about the Pakistani establishment’s national security paradigm.
Instead of the nukes guaranteeing Pakistan’s security against India, Pakistan must now worry about the security of its nuclear weapons against adversaries other than the Indians.

What lessons

But Pakistan’s establishment is unlikely to learn the right lessons and recognise that the ‘soldiers good, civilians bad’ dichotomy hurts Pakistan. It will not diminish its India obsession or understand the totality of the real threats to Pakistan (including the likelihood of economic implosion.)
We will probably soon see new lines of attack on Pakistani civilians seeking implementation of the country’s constitution and new distractions from the espionage case. And there will be the usual clamour for a new round of talks with India under the second Modi government even though the Pakistani establishment reveals no intention whatsoever to change its ways.

Pakistan Army sends top General to jail, Brigadier to gallows for spying for ‘CIA’

The two Pakistan Army officers are a Lieutenant General, who was DGMO in 2011, and a Brigadier who served as the Pakistani Defence attache in Germany.

The Pakistan Army has sentenced a former Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) to life imprisonment for spying and ordered the death penalty for a brigadier and a civilian officer convicted in the same case.
The life term handed out to Lieutenant General Javed Iqbal (Retd), who was the DGMO during the infamous Raymond Davis episode in 2011, will keep him in prison for 14 years.
Brigadier Raja Rizwan (Retired) was sentenced to death alongside Wasim Akram, a civilian doctor employed by an army organisation.
While the Pakistan Army remained tightlipped on who they were spying for, sources told ThePrint that they were suspected to have been on the rolls of the United States’ foreign intelligence service, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has endorsed the death sentence to a “retired army officer and civilian and rigorous imprisonment” for one army officer on charges of “espionage/leakage of sensitive information to foreign agencies prejudice to the national security”, a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the Pakistan military’s PR wing, said.
“The officers were tried under Pakistan Army Act (PAA) and Official Secrets Act by separate Field General Court Marshal (FGCM) for separate cases,” added the statement.
The ISPR statement did not contain any further details of the offences committed by the three convicts. However, ISPR director general Major General Asif Ghafoor had confirmed the arrests of the senior officers in a press conference on 22 February.
He had, at the time, said that the two cases were not linked to each other, and there was no network of spies as such, a claim that sources in the Indian establishment said was completely untrue.

Who are the officers

Sources said that both officers were nabbed after their retirement from the army.
Lt Gen. Iqbal served as the DGMO, a crucial post tasked with overseeing the entire operations of the army, in 2011.
He played a key role in the deal worked out between the US and Pakistan in 2011, when CIA contractor Davis was arrested by Pakistani authorities after he shot dead two Pakistani civilians.
According to the sources, he was also the Corps Commander of the Bahawalpur-based 31 Corps and Adjutant General of the Pakistan Army.
Nothing much is known about Brigadier Rizwan, except that he has served as the Pakistani Defence attache in Germany.
The Pakistan Army has its own laws and courts, and military officers accused of wrongdoing are always tried behind closed doors.
Rulings can only be challenged or reviewed in accordance with military procedures.

Pakistani ISI threatens, forces away guests at Indian government iftar in Islamabad


Multiple teams from the ISI, Military Intelligence and the Special Branch of the Islamabad Police camped outside the hotel and intimidated Pakistani guests.

Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI “harassed, intimidated” and “aggressively turned away” guests, including its former military spokesperson, when they went to attend an iftar party organised by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad Saturday night.
Highly-placed sources in Pakistan told ThePrint that the intimidation tactics started Friday with many invitees, especially business chambers, receiving calls from masked numbers asking them to not attend the iftar, organised at the Islamabad Serena Hotel. Sources said this was done “as a mark of protest” for not being issued visas to travel to India.
Multiple teams from the ISI, Military Intelligence and the Special Branch of the Islamabad Police camped outside the five-star hotel Saturday and intimidated the Pakistani guests.
While diplomats from other countries were allowed to proceed without any problem, Pakistani guests seen entering the hotel were stopped, asked for identity and where they were headed. In case they mentioned the iftar party, they were threatened with dire consequences and most of the guests went away, sources said.
“They sunk to a new low of harassment, mostly of their own people,” an Indian official posted in Islamabad said.
The Indian High Commission reacted Sunday by condemning the “harassment and intimidation (of guests) at the hands of security agencies.”
“The disappointing chain of events of 1 June not only violate basic norms of diplomatic conduct but are against all notions of civilised behaviour,” it stated. “Stopping diplomats and officials… from discharging their diplomatic functions by intimidation and coercion is entirely counter-productive for our bilateral relationship.”
The Indian High Commission has now requested the government of Pakistan to “urgently investigate these ugly events”.
While harassing of guests at each other’s parties is nothing new, this particular incident comes at a time when speculation is rife that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan may meet during the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek mid-June.
According to government sources, New Delhi is also likely to raise the issue of harassment of iftar invitees with Islamabad.

Guests complain on Twitter

Of the many guests who were stopped was former spokesperson of the Pakistani military, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas (retd), who is now Pakistan’s envoy to Ukraine. He was seen getting into a heated argument with the security personnel before returning.
Former Mil Spox Amb (MG) Ather Abbas stopped by security personnel from attending iftar by Indian High Commission at Serena. Do we need to behave like Indians? No we have to be different. The retired general had a heated argument with security personnel before returning.

Senator Farhatullah Babar, who served as press secretary to former Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, was also stopped by the security personnel, but still managed to make his way to the iftar.
He said on Twitter that just a little over a dozen Pakistani guests were able to come to the iftar.
Managed to come to Sheesh Mahal for Indian HC iftar despite efforts to stop invitees on one pretext or other. It is nearing iftar time. Only foreign diplomats have come so far Not more than half a dozen Pakistani guests able to come. Sad manifestation of tit for tat, pettiness.

Speaking at the event, Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria apologised to the guests, saying: “I would like to apologise to all our friends who were subject to extra scrutiny.”
Bisaria also told news agency ANI: “We apologise to all our guests who were aggressively turned away from our iftar yesterday. Such intimidatory tactics are deeply disappointing. They not only violate basic norms of diplomatic conduct and civilised behaviour, they are counter-productive for our bilateral relations.”

Sources on harassment of guests at Iftar hosted by Indian High Commission in Islamabad: Before that, they called invitees from masked numbers and threatened them with consequences if they attended the Iftar. (2/2)
Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria to ANI: We apologise to all our guests who were aggressively turned away from our Iftar yesterday. Such intimidatory tactics are deeply disappointing (file pic) 1/2

View image on Twitter

Former Indian diplomat Sharat Sabharwal, who was posted in Islamabad, also tweeted that this was more a 1990s phenomenon.

Shameful. Especially when @narendramodi and @ImranKhanPTI going to meet in Bishkek mid-June. Pakistan wants peace or doesn’t ? @HamidMirPAK @najamsethi @AmirMateen2 @Mehmal
Used to see this in 90s when I was Deputy High Commissioner. 10 years later,as High Commissioner thought we had left it behind. Seems now that such absurdities of this relationship are more durable than we think.

‘Tit for tat’

Sources in the Pakistan government alleged that a similar incident had taken place before an iftar hosted by its high commission in New Delhi last Tuesday, 28 May.
“We have strongly put up the matter of the Pakistan High Commission New Delhi’s guests being harassed and forced to turn back on Tuesday at Pakistan High Commission New Delhi’s iftar, which has video proof available. Out of the 73 guests, only 25 could actually make it to the iftar in Delhi due to intimidation by Indian security agencies outside Pakistani High Commission,” an official told ThePrint.
Another official pointed to what happened at an event in March outside the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi. Several people who were invited to the celebrations at the High Commission on 22 March complained that the Delhi Police stopped them to ask for personal details before letting them in. Some claimed that they were told they should not go as the Indian government had boycotted it.
Official sources had then said there was no intimidation and no guests walked away.
“Details were taken for security purposes and the invitees were just told that the government had boycotted the event,” a source in the security establishment had then said.
However, Pakistan goverment sources said what happened in Islamabad was an act of “diplomatic reciprocity” for the March and May incidents.
“What happened yesterday was completely an act of diplomatic reciprocity. We ignored what the Indian establishment did to our guests on 23 March in Delhi, but we cannot ignore things every time,” a source said.
“We will raise the matter of Indian diplomats filming Pakistani security personnel, and issue a strong caution to Indian High Commission to abide by the principles of the Vienna Convention.”
Meanwhile, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah called on both countries to stop this tit-for-tat.
“Stupid tit for tat diplomacy. It was stupid when we did it outside the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi & it’s stupid when it’s done in the case of Indian High Commission Iftaar (party) in Islamabad. Now that it’s 1-1 perhaps it’s time to move on & stop this nonsense,” he tweeted.