http://rt.comWith the hysteria over the arrest of a Christian girl with Down’s syndrome on a charge of blasphemy yet to blow over, the brutally tortured body of an 11-year-old Christian boy has been found in Pakistan’s Punjab province. The body of Samuel Yaqoob, was discovered with his lips and nose cut off, his stomach removed and his legs mutilated. According to police the body was later burned and could hardly be recognized. Relatives identified the corpse from a distinctive mark on the boy’s forehead. Yaqoob, a resident of the Christian Colony of Faisalabad, had been missing since August 20, last seen on his way to a local market. His mutilated remains were found on Eid-Ul-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of the month-long Muslim fast of Ramadan. Detectives are investigating whether accusations of blasphemy had previously been filed against the minor. Yaquub was believed to be an orphan, but The Telegraph reports that his mother was quoted in the local press denying any allegations were made. "We neither received any phone call for ransom nor were we told that Samuel had committed blasphemy," she said. When a Christian group is suspected of transgressing the blasphemy laws, the consequences can be brutal, reports the World Public Forum NGO. The death of the 11-year-old comes a week after a young Christian girl with Down’s syndrome was charged with blasphemy after reportedly burning pages of a Koran. Rifta Masih was beaten by local Muslims after they witnessed her allegedly torching pages of the sacred book when cooking. Several hundred Christians have fled their homes following the incident in fear of violence after local mosques reported the alleged incident over loudspeakers, and hundreds of Muslims taken to the streets. In Pakistan, those accused of blasphemy are subject to instant imprisonment and most are denied bail to prevent mob violence. As a rule, the accused are placed in solitary confinement for their own protection against harassment from inmates or guards. Those that have been acquitted from the charges, often leave the country, one of the strictest enforcers of Sharia law in the world, reports the Washington Post. In Pakistan, slandering Islam or its holy book is punishable by death. There have been no executions for blasphemy, though Asia Bibi, a mother of five and a Christian, was sentenced to death two years ago. Bibi has not been executed as of yet, and may be pardoned of her death sentence. Christian minister Shahbaz Bhatti and Pakistani government politician Salmaan Taseer were both assassinated for opposing the blasphemy laws in connection with Bibi’s case. Last month, a man accused of desecrating a Koran was dragged from a police station by a mob and beaten to death. According to Human Rights Watch researcher Ali Dyan Hasan, "The [country’s blasphemy] law creates this legal infrastructure which is then used in various informal ways to intimidate, coerce, harass and persecute."
Friday, August 24, 2012
BY:Peter FosterWho would be an adviser to Mitt Romney? Expend a decade of blood, sweat and tears to win him the Republican party presidential nomination only for him to self-destruct on the eve of the biggest moment in his political life.
AAJ TVPakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) convener Rana Muhammad Tanvir has announced to join Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) receiving a warm welcome from Nawaz group. Rana Muhammad Tanvir, who was the candidate for the PP-155 constituency, expressed annoyance over the behavior of senior leadership. He said that he had enrolled 37,000 youths in PP-155 to the PTI but the party had not repaid his hard work. He lashed out at Imran Khan, saying the PTI chief had no control over his party. On the other side, the PML-N happily accepted him into the party fold in a proper induction ceremony.
http://bostonherald.comThe recent string of “green-on-blue” (Afghan on U.S./Coalition troops) attacks in Afghanistan are cause for real worry: Not only might the Coalition’s vital mission to provide security training to the Afghan police and army be in trouble, but the country’s entire future might be in question, too. Without the high-quality training the Afghan security forces desperately will need after Coalition forces leave in 2014 (or sooner), it’s possible Afghanistan will once again fall to the likes of the Taliban. And that’s exactly what the Taliban, the Haqqani network, al-Qaida and maybe others want.What better way to achieve that goal than to cowardly go after the brave men and women who have the capacity to give the people of Afghanistan a chance for a secure future, free from an Islamist extremist stranglehold? We’ve lost nearly 10 brave Americans to attacks by “friendlies” in just the past two weeks. There have been some 30 attacks on Coalition forces this year, causing nearly 40 fatalities. That’s a treble increase in “insider” attacks over last year. The trend line clearly isn’t good and the effects are widespread. First, these attacks have a chilling effect on our troops’ morale. They also put pressure on Coalition allies to bring their troops home from Afghanistan as soon as possible. Keep in mind too that the fact that America is in all-out campaign mode hasn’t been lost on the insurgents, who hope to hasten a U.S. retreat by going after public opinion here. These attacks also undermine the trust that is critical between military trainer and student. How can trainers give the best training possible when they have to be concerned that the student might turn a weapon on them? Equally troubling is the trust that is in jeopardy in the field where U.S. and Afghan soldiers are patrolling together. Our brave troops are now more worried about Afghans putting a knife in their backs than Afghans watching their backs. This anxiety will only compound on the glide path to a full U.S. withdrawal by 2014. Finally, not only do these attacks hinder the training of government security forces, they also undermine confidence in Kabul, which might encourage Afghans to shift their allegiance to the insurgents. The Taliban, the Haqqanis and al-Qaida will continue to look for willing recruits to do their dirty work, developing “penetrations” of the Afghan army and police force to turn on their mentors and trainers. They may corrupt or coerce Afghans into becoming attackers, too. The green-on-blue attacks highlight the growing challenges that face our work in Afghanistan. Now would be an ideal time for presidential leadership on Afghanistan to ensure the success of our mission there — especially preventing the return of the Taliban to power and the revival of al-Qaida. Peter Brookes is a Heritage Foundation senior fellow and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense.
http://www.brecorder.comAttorney General for Pakistan Irfan Qadir Friday said that under Article 248 (1) of the Constitution, the Prime Minister was not answerable to any court for the exercise of powers and official functioning of his office. The Attorney General said this while talking to mediamen in his office in the Supreme Court. Responding to a question about the appearance of the Prime Minister before the Apex Court on the forthcoming hearing of the National Reconciliation Order (NRO) implementation case fixed for August 27, the Attorney General said, "I don't know about and this will be the decision of the Prime Minister purely". To another question that "If the Prime Minister does not appear before the court on August 27, then what are you expecting from the court, he said, "This question has no sense as these are hypothetical questions and I don't comment on such questions relying on ifs and buts." It may be mentioned here that a five-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa will hear the NRO implementation case on August 27 and the Prime Minister had already been issued notice by the bench to appear before the court in person on the said date. Justice Ijaz Afzal Khan, Justice Ejaz Ahmed Chaudhry, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Muhammad Athar Saeed are members of the bench. It is pertinent to mention here that "The Article 248 says, "Protection to President, Governor, Minister, etc. (1) The President, a Governor, the Prime Minister, a Federal Minister, a Minister of State, the Chief Minister and a Provincial Minister shall not be answerable to any court for the exercise of powers and performance of functions of their respective offices or for any act done or purported to be done in the exercise of those powers and performance of those functions:"
By Raza RumiTwo days after Pakistan’s powerful army chief made some startling observations in his address to the Pakistan Military Academy, the militants attacked a key strategic installation — the Kamra airbase. That the attack took place on the revered night of 27th of Ramazan is not without symbolism. For the brand of ‘Islam’ practised by the militants of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) violence precedes other imperatives of faith. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani took a bold public position in his address by saying: “Any person who believes his opinion to be the final verdict, is an extremist…. A human claim to be the final word in judging right from wrong, is tantamount to a claim to divine attributes”. The lethal by-products of our strategic ‘games’ — the TTP — are not amenable to such a worldview. In Kamra, they battled the military for more than five hours. The foreign media highlighted the nebulous connection between the airbase and the country’s nuclear assets; but both the Pakistani and American authorities later affirmed that Pakistan’s nuclear programme was safe. Much has been said about the impending operation by the Pakistani military in North Waziristan. The attack on Kamra has been construed as a reaction to the military’s resolve to clean up North Waziristan ostensibly under mounting US pressure. But there is a need to pause and re-read what General Kayani told his colleagues on Independence Day: “The war against extremism and terrorism is not only the army’s war, but that of the whole nation. We as a nation must stand united against this threat. The army’s success is dependent on the will and support of the people”. While an admission by Pakistan’s most powerful official of the ‘threat’ is welcome on the day when we celebrate our nationhood and Islamic republic status, perhaps it might be coming a bit late in the day. For the past decade — and this is a long-term period — our domestic policy discourse has been the opposite. While hundreds of army soldiers have been killed by militants and thousands of civilians killed in terror attacks across the country, we continue to say that this is not our war. Public opinion constructed by the vernacular press, the religious lobbies and even the political parties has been critical of the overstated threat that General Kayani has clearly articulated. Pakistan’s strategy of ‘measured’ support to the US and Nato involvement in Afghanistan and drumming up of anti-Americanism has been counterproductive. A more creative approach could have been to oppose US excesses but not deny the home-grown militant outfits and arrest their direct and indirect patronage. A recent (local) poll, notwithstanding its methodological limitations, says that 49 per cent of Pakistanis consider America an enemy while 26 per cent think India is the enemy. Slowly, the tables have turned since we constructed our faux identity as ‘not Indian’. This healthy view of the subcontinent by Pakistanis comes as a refreshing development but creates a bigger dilemma. The global construction of US as an enemy of Muslims by al Qaeda is gaining traction especially in the urban middle classes, the youth (which are the biggest segment of our population). Where would this lead us? By no means we should continue our policy to be US’s chief lackey in the region or be dependent on the civil-military handouts, but is drumming up hysteria against a global power a wise approach in our own interest? Such has been the level of indoctrination that many Pakistanis are unwilling to accept that Muslims can kill Muslims or that we have internal enemies. The first reaction of otherwise sensible people to a terror attack is that Blackwater and other US contractors have hired the assassins killing Pakistanis. The material evidence on the other hand negates this impression. But no one wishes to hear ‘facts’ as they challenge the ideological fortress of denial that we have built around us. The perennial fear of India has been replaced by the US machinations to destroy us by taking our nukes out. The attackers of GHQ, PNS Mehran and Kamra were not American, Indian or Israeli agents but jihadists ostensibly working in league with radical elements within the state. Perhaps the most dangerous kind of militancy concerns the growth and consolidation of the anti-Shia extremist groups, which reportedly are in league with the TTP. A few hours after the Kamra incident, two separate incidents of killings of Shias took place. One attack happened in Naran where at least 20 Shia passengers were dragged out of buses and killed on the spot. In Quetta, on the same day, three Hazara Shias were also killed. These are not stand-alone attacks. In recent years, hundreds of Shias have been killed and the murderers remain at large, too powerful to be nabbed by the executive or the judiciary. The chilling video circulated after the Naran incident showed terrorists chanting “Shia Kafir,” as if this were a horrific bloodletting ritual. This is nothing but genocide unfolding before us. The latest Pew poll indicates that nearly half the Sunni population thinks that Shias are not Muslim. The accuracy of this poll is debatable, but even if the numbers were lower, the Wahabisation project initiated by General Ziaul Haq is now becoming an existential danger. And this radicalisation has not been imposed by anyone, despite the Saudi influence, but a cynical and disastrous choice by Pakistan’s military junta in the 1980s and later. Political parties will need another decade of hard core reform consensus to fix the education system and other drivers of extremist ideology. Is it the case that Pakistan’s strategic assets of yore are no longer under the control of the state? Or General Kayani’s policy statement is still a top-level diplomatic pronouncement not filtering down to the ranks of intelligence agencies, which have disastrously nurtured the jihadi groups and turned them into our mortal liabilities? The civilian governments — federal and provincial — appear to be clueless and devoid of the political will to counter these trends. Pakistan’s political elites will have to work together to reverse the state patronage to extremists and their networks. If we have to resist US ‘hegemony’ or the Indian influence in the region, it will not be done through oiling the jihad industry, sloganeering, media twists, and Friday rallies. For Pakistan’s sovereignty, substantial strides have to be made. By reforming our taxation structure, creating jobs, undertaking a massive education reform and building trade ties with the regional powers we could perhaps move towards becoming a strong ‘nation’. Before everything, we need to reset the narrative and explore what ails us. In the absence of such reflection and policy debate, Pakistan’s future remains murky and uncertain.
The Express TribuneMonsoon rain early Thursday morning left a trail of devastation as clogged drains could not seep out rainwater in many areas of the city. The deteriorating sanitation system exposed how ineffective the municipal administration was in their ability to cope with the torrential downpours. After a scorching heat wave and consistently dry weather for three months, Peshawar received 59 millimetres (more than two inches) of rainfall. Assistant Meteorologist Malik Iftikhar said that the rainwater had been accumulating since late Wednesday night. Residents in the city had suffered throughout the month of Ramazan under hot and humid temperatures. Although belated, the monsoon weather brought some respite from the heat, but people faced another problem with waterlogged gutters and chocked drains. This contradicted earlier claims of city authorities of having tackled the problem. The situation has been worsened because the garbage-cleaning staff of Town-I has been on strike since August 16 following non-payment of salaries. When contacted, Town-I Municipal Inspector Adnan Khan said that he had not been given salaries for disbursement yet. The worst affected areas where rainwater flooded houses were Nishtarabad, Gulbhar, Sheikhabad, outer Ganj and Zargarabad. Many locals spent the night removing carpets, curtains, furniture and electronic appliances from the lower floors of their houses. Those affected say that they warned local municipal officials before Eid to remove silt and garbage from banks of drains but no one took notice. “We told the civic body to clean up the piles of garbage that had been left for weeks,” Ghulam Mustafa, a resident of Gulbhar, told The Express Tribune. “Now we are suffering because of their inefficiency,” he said. Despite receiving instructions from the District Coordination Officer (DCO), many government employees were missing from their duties as rain poured down on Thursday morning. The situation is likely to aggravate because according to a met office forecast, another wave of rainfall is expected on August 28, which could further worsen the cleanliness issue in the congested city.