Sunday, March 24, 2013
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD The momentum in Washington for immigration reform has been growing with amazing speed in recent weeks, and it seems that the question now is not whether Congress will try to fix the immigration system this year, but how big and effective the repairs will be. We hope that whatever bill emerges will continue to protect and unite families, preserving and strengthening a bedrock value of America’s immigration system. It might be hard to imagine that America’s long tradition of allowing immigrants to sponsor spouses, children and siblings for visas would be threatened. But anti-immigration groups and lawmakers have long attacked the practice, using the slanderous and misleading term “chain migration,” which summons images of a relentless flow of undesirables, usually from south of the border. Even as some of the staunchest resistance to reform is crumbling — legalizing 11 million immigrants was unthinkable for leading Republicans a few months ago, and now even rock-ribbed Tea Partiers like Representative Rand Paul favor it — right-wing resistance to family migration persists. Bills are still being drafted, but some lawmakers are reportedly trying to reduce or eliminate visas for extended family members in order to expand employment-based immigration. Advocates are resisting this zero-sum game. These tensions emerged at a recent hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Mazie Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii, who led the hearing, spoke movingly of her own experience immigrating to Honolulu as a young girl, and yet joined other witnesses in explaining how the system falls short: she noted that it treats women unequally — many who arrive as dependent spouses are denied the right to work legally, and face discrimination and severe obstacles to assimilation. And Mee Moua, president of the Asian American Justice Center, explained how backlogs kept families separated for years, if not decades. “As of November 2012,” she said, “nearly 4.3 million close family members were waiting in the family-visa backlogs” — with Latino and Asian-American families most affected. But even as Ms. Moua explained how important family visas are, Senator Jeff Sessions balked at the very concept. Using an example of two hypothetical Hondurans, he suggested that the visas were bad because some relatives can be underachievers. He ignored the powerful truth that family immigration is an economic bulwark. Families incubate job-creating businesses, provide a safety net for their members and hasten assimilation. Employment visas are important for companies to recruit needed workers. But these workers have spouses and children and siblings. And we need workers at all levels of the economy: As Representative Luis Gutierrez of Illinois recently put it, “Silicon Valley engineers and entrepreneurs would not be very productive or competitive engines of our economy if they did not have food to eat, or people to care for their children or parents, or a clean office and clean clothes, or a made bed in their hotel room on a business trip.” Immigration is more than a business relationship America has with selected foreigners. It’s a process that renews this country; it means going all-in on America, through binding ties of love and blood. Recruited workers enrich the country. Reunited families do, too.
http://www.bosnewslife.comPakistani authorities have reopened a trial against a mentally challenged Christian girl on charges of "blasphemy" while a Christian mother faces a possible death sentence for allegedly making "derogatory remarks" about Islam's prophet Mohammed, lawyers told BosNewsLife Saturday, March 23. "A police investigator asked the Supreme Court in Islamabad to reopen the case" against Rimsha Masih, 14, "saying he was pressured by the government to drop charges against her after an international outcry," said the Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD) group. Rimsha was jailed August 17 in a prison near Islamabad after allegedly burning pages with verses of the Koran, viewed as holy book by Muslims. Her detention at Adiala Jail triggered international protests because of her age and a medical report confirming that she was mentally handicapped. Amid mounting pressure, Rimsha was flown to safety on September 8 and eventually acquitted on the charges, though she remains in hiding. On the outskirts of Islamabad families are afraid to return to their Christian community in the city's Mehrabadi district because the girl lived there. Besides Rimsha, who may face life imprisonment, a court is also considering a death sentence against 47-year-old Martha Bibi after years of legal wrangling, BosNewsLife learned. COURT APPEARANCE Bibi, who is married and has 7 children, will face a court in the city of Lahore on March 27, said her lawyer Mushtaq Gill. "She was detained in January 2007 in her village of Kot Nanak Sigh for allegedly making "derogatory remarks" about Prophet Mohammed in an argument with a Muslim woman," explained Gill, who is also director of the LEAD advocacy group. Bibi has always strongly denied the charges. The blasphemy case was registered at a nearby police station where she "was arrested and put behind the bars after being beaten and tortured by Muslims," the lawyer said. Though he managed to get her released on bail of 100,000 Pakistani Rupee ($1,000) three months later, she remained concerned about her future, he said. MEDICAL PROBLEMS "The six years of waiting on a possible death sentence has made her sick," Gill explained. "I just met her as we prepared for the trial at the Lahore High Court and she was very tense," he added. Gill said the latest legal challenges are part of efforts by authorities to defend the controversial blasphemy laws in the country. If she is sentenced to death, she will be the second woman in Pakistan facing execution for blasphemy, he said. Asia Bibi, who is not related, has been awaiting her appeal against the death penalty for several years behind bars. The latest blasphemy trials against Christians come shortly after as many as 180 Christian-owned homes, shops and two churches were burned down by an angry Muslim mob in the city of Lahore this month. Gill said his group is trying to free Christian Sawan Masih, 26, whose alleged "derogatory remarks" about Islam's prophet triggered the M March 8-9 riots in Lahore's Joseph Colony. INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE There has been growing international pressure on Pakistan to overturn the blasphemy legislation amid concerns they are misused against minorities, including Christians, or to settle personal disputes. Fifty two of the accused and their supporters have been murdered in the last two decades, according to rights activists. Even in police custody blasphemy suspects are not safe. In December last year, an angry mob reportedly broke into a police station in Sindh province and beat a blasphemy suspect to death. He had been accused of burning pages of the Koran. Earlier in Ahmedpur East in July 2012, a man accused of throwing pages of the Koran on the street was dragged by crowds from a police cell and killed, after being pulled through the streets behind a motorbike. Two politicians, the governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, Salman Taseer, and Christian federal minister Shahbaz Bhatti, were assassinated in 2011 for criticizing the country's blasphemy law.
A Christian ministry worker who encourages and equips believers and the local church inside Pakistan to face persecution, said that the recent rioting against a Christian colony in Lahore, in which 150 homes were burnt, was further evidence of increased Islamization in the country. "The event did not come as a surprise to the residents of the area called Badami Bagh, in which there is a smaller colony called the Joseph Colony where Christians live," Hana, whose real name was not given for her protection, told The Christian Post earlier this week. Even though Pakistan's National assembly condemned the action, Hana said it will take more than a proclamation by the government to help curb the problem. "To have a government that would be strong to root out extremism would be fantastic. That would be an answer to prayer, but the truth is our problem happened in the 70s and 80s when Islamization came and got a foothold in the country," she explained. "The government was soft to it at the time and the seed was planted then and now we are just seeing the fruit of that. "We are seeing the face of that in the form of extremism. The events of Sept. 11 (2001) really did spiral and [Muslim extremists] did capitalize and we began to see the face of it in a whole new way in Pakistan," she said. The rioting in Badami Bagh on Saturday followed the arrest of Sawan Masih, a Christian in his 20s accused of the blasphemy of the Prophet Muhammad. News reports quote police as saying the violence began after an argument between a Christian and a Muslim who had been talking over drinks. CNN reported that Masih's arrest did not squelch the angry mob of Muslims angry over the alleged crime. "(The) mob wanted police to hand them over the alleged blasphemer," said Hafiz Majid, a senior police official in Badami Bagh, according to CNN's report. Police in Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore arrested numerous rioters Monday, as hundreds of Christians, according to some reports, hit the street and missionary schools remained closed to protest the burning of the houses of Christians on Saturday over the alleged blasphemy. The more than 150 suspects were charged under various laws, including the Anti-Terrorism Act, for attempted murder, robbery, arson and terrorism, India's CNN-IBN quoted police officials from Pakistan's Punjab province as saying. "Anytime we have an incident like this one you have a number of Christians who will leave [Pakistan]," Hana said. "This is a trend that we see. Parents are afraid for the future of their children. It has become increasingly difficult to bring your children up. It's extremely difficult to breathe as Christian in Pakistan let alone to live and bring up a family." She said that the area where the violence took place and is impoverished and the incident reminded Christians there that following Christ is not about belongings. "It reminded them that this is just part of the process of walking with the Lord. This is part of what Jesus had said – people will spit on you. People will persecute you for my namesake. They (Christians in the Joseph Colony) did testify that they were reminded of that," Hana said. "This area is in a very difficult part of the country. It is surrounded by very fanatical and anti-Christian elements so these are people who are used to persecution. That is just there lot in life," she added. Nevertheless, she asked that Christians worldwide pray that even though the people in the area may be disillusioned, that they "would know the all surpassing peace of God and will stand firm and not become a part of further riots."
The continued violence against Christians in Pakistan is further evidence there is no such thing as a short memory in the Islamic world. On March 9, an estimated mob of three thousand angry Muslims attacked a Christian community in Lahore and burned more than 200 homes to the ground. The violence erupted out of a charge of blasphemy that allegedly happened during a barroom argument. Blasphemy is a serious crime in many Islamic countries and is sometimes punishable by death. In an article titled “Ten Key Points on Islamic Blasphemy Law” in The American Thinker, Andrew Bostom discusses a growing global effort by Muslims to impose Islamic blasphemy laws on non-Muslims. The movement appears to be intensifying and includes those living outside the Islamic world in non-Muslim countries. The list of what constitutes blasphemy law in the Islamic world can be found in Bostom’s article. Since the initial attacks in Lahore, Christians have responded with protests throughout Pakistan to emphasize their solidarity and to condemn the recurring charges of blasphemy. According to reports, many of the now homeless Christians in Lahore are living in the streets and desperate for food and other necessities. In Jhelum City when Christians protested, Muslims threatened similar acts of arson for responding to the violence and the blasphemy laws. Christians took to the streets shouting slogans such as “Repeal Blasphemy Law” and “Blasphemy Law is Black Law.” Now the Christians live in fear of retaliation for their protests. Witnesses say local imams immediately prompted Muslims from the loudspeakers that issue the calls to prayer by urging them to round up and punish protesting Christians. Meanwhile, radicals have pressured police to lodge a First Investigation Report (FIR) against Christians who chant slogans against blasphemy laws. One Presbyterian missionary who lives in a village about 50 miles from Lahore was attacked by radical Muslims while returning home after organizing a protest rally. He was severely beaten and his motorcycle was destroyed for his efforts. Following the pounding, the extremists warned Pastor Naeem Bhadhar that he would be killed if he arranged other protests. In Lahore, Christians were beaten with sticks and attacked with tear gas by law enforcement officials during the uprising, but officers did nothing more than watch when Muslims set fire to the homes. Chairman Wilson Chowdhry of the British Pakistani Christian Association claimed the “recent attack on Badami Bagh is unwarranted and a blight on the nation.” On the other hand, a “blight” in the Middle East is more the rule than the exception, and it will remain that way until Islam undergoes some degree of enlightenment.
http://observers.france24.comBaghdad Central Prison, previously known as Abu Ghraib, continues to be rocked by prisoner abuse scandals. An amateur video showing inmates being beaten up has been leaked onto the Internet. A detainee reportedly filmed the images on his mobile phone on March 13. In the video, security forces are seen rounding up dozens of inmates in the prison’s courtyard and then striking them with batons. When contacted by the television channel Al Jazeera, one of the detainees explained that the people in charge at the prison called for security forces to help them quell a protest movement started by the prisoners. In the interview, he hinted that the movement was started by Sunnis. According to the Justice Ministry, a demonstration did take place a few days earlier, on March 11. The ministry released a statement saying that “detainees accused of terrorism” set fire to a room at the prison “in order to attract media attention on prisoner rights.” On March 21, following the video’s publication, Iraqi authorities opened an inquiry into the prisoners’ mistreatment. Back in November, the Arab Organisation for Human Rights had denounced cases of sectarian violence against detainees at Baghdad Central Prison.
The Saudi Arabian government has threatened to ban the use of instant messaging applications because of failure to control them, Saudi media reveal. It comes a month after the minister for media and culture confirmed censorship of Twitter. “The Communications and Information Technology Commission has requested companies operating the applications to meet the regulatory requirements to avoid their suspension in the kingdom,” sources told Saudi news site Sabq. “The commission is now coordinating with the application operators on the issue,” they said. Companies were given one week to deal with the situation and decide upon the required technical measures. The sources stressed that the procedure was “in accordance with regulatory procedures,” denying claims that attributed the decision to commercial motivations. Messaging applications such as Skype, WhatsApp and Viber are at risk of being banned, Al Arabiya reported. It’s the latest move by the ultra-conservative Gulf Kingdom, whose government recently admitted censorship of Twitter. Just last month, Saudi Arabian Minister for Media and Culture Abdel Aziz Khoga called on citizens to “raise their awareness” and contribute to the censorship taken up by the ministry. “People have to take care of what they are writing on Twitter,” the minister said. “It’s getting harder to observe around three million people subscribing to the social network in the kingdom,” he added. The government’s censorship of the social media application led to the December arrest of Turki al-Hamad, a liberal Saudi writer accused of “insulting Islam” on his Twitter account. Hamad was arrested on the orders of Interior Minister Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef Bin Abdel Aziz, who was tipped off by a religious organization. In 2010, Saudi Arabia banned the use of Blackberry phones to send and receive messages, citing concerns that the communications were encrypted and could not be monitored, therefore hindering the country’s efforts to fight terrorism and crime.
Nearly a million people became U.S. citizens last year, and just over a million became legal permanent residents, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The data shows the numbers of new “green card” holders and naturalizations, the process of becoming a U.S. citizen, have been fairly steady over the past few years, with a modest bump in naturalizations last year. “There were a lot of outreach efforts leading up to the presidential election to get people to naturalize. A lot of the big ones we saw this year were Latino organizations,” she said. Latino voters, including many new citizens, helped secure President Barack Obama’s re-election and increased the power of his Democratic Party in Congress. A total of 757,434 people naturalized in 2012, up from 694,193 the year before. The majority of new citizens were born in Mexico, the Philippines, India, the Dominican Republic and China, according to the data released Friday. Naturalizations increased the most among people born in the Dominican Republic and Cuba between 2011 and 2012. Vietnam, South Korea, Pakistan, Iran, Nigeria and Somalia were among the top 20 countries of origin. Immigration policy experts say the 2012 data is fairly unremarkable, except that it may be a point of reference as immigration trends change in future years if Congress passes immigration reform. Growing numbers of lawmakers are calling for a path to citizenship for the estimated 11.5 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. But what type of path, and how long it would take is the subject of intense debate, with new pitches flying through Washington each week. Last year, the U.S. granted “green cards” to 1,031,631 foreigners. That lets them live and work permanently anywhere in the U.S. and opens the door to citizenship within five years. Mexico, China and India were the leading countries of birth of America’s newest legal permanent residents. People born in Iraq, Burma, Bangladesh and Ethiopia were among the top 20. The majority of the green card holders already lived in the U.S. when their status changed. Nearly 66 percent were granted permanent resident status based on a family relationship with a U.S. citizen or another green card holder. The system to determine who gets a green card is a complicated process, with preference going to family members and foreigners with needed job skills or who came from countries not well represented in the U.S. Some immigration reformers are suggesting a new green card category be created for the undocumented immigrants in the U.S., while others object to what they consider to be an “amnesty” for people who broke the law. Erwin DeLeon, an immigration specialist with the Washington-based research group the Urban Institute, says he expects new data trends will emerge in about a decade because of the work Congress is doing now. If Congress passes immigration reform this year or next, he says, “by 2020 you’ll see a big spike” in permanent residents and new citizens. Bergeron isn’t so sure about the timing, however, since some proposals are suggesting unauthorized immigrants would have to wait as long as 10 years to become legal, with an additional five-year wait to naturalize.
د پاکستان په کراچۍ کې مېشت لیکوال خان صادق لالا یو له هغو لیکوالانو څخه دی چې په لسګونو ډرامې او فلمونه یې لیکلي دي. نوموړي تر اوسه ۴۸ پښتو ډرامې او ۴ پښتو فلمونه لیکلي دي. هغه وخت چې د نوموړي د ځوانۍ بڼ پسرلی وو، په فلمونو او ډرامو لیکلو یې لاس پورې کړی، او اوس یې چې ږیره سپینه ده لا هم فلمونه او ډرامې لیکي. د هغه په وینا د یو فلم په لیکلو کې له یوه کاله تر دوو هغو پوره موده لګي او فلم د ښه والي او نه ښه والي تر شا هم د فلم د لیکوال لوي لاس وي. ((د فوجي امر ضیا الحق په وخت کې ما د [خاني یا خانو] په نوم فلمونه او ډرامې لیکلې، بیا چې کله جمهوري حکومت راغی نو موږ ته هم ازادي مېلاو شوه او په خپلو نومونو مو لیکل پیل کړل. د فلم د لیکلو په وخت زما ذهني کیفیت داسې وي چې د ژړا له کردار سره ژاړم او د خندا له کردار سره خاندم . اوس ما یو فلم په ۱۱ میاشتو کې ولیکه، د یو فلم په لیکلو له یو کاله تر دوو کالونو پورې موده لګېږي.)) صادق لالا وايي، له هغه وخته چې د فلم هنر متعارف شوی دی، تر اوسه پورې فلم د پیغام رسولو له پاره تر ټولو غوره ذریعه ثابته شوې ده. د فلمونو د اهمیت په اړه نوموړی وایي: ((چې یو ذهین لیکوال او یو ذهین ډایرېکټر را یوځای شي دوی د فلم په ذریعه دنیا د امن زانګو جوړولای شي. که فلم په ښه موضوع جوړ وي نو د کتونکي په ذهن ښه اغېز کوي نو ځکه زه وایم چې د پیغام د رسولو له پاره فلم لوی اهمیت لري.)) دی وايي، په مخکینیو فلمونو کې به د لیکوالانو تخلیقي کار او زیار زیات وو، خو د کمپوټر او ټي وي له راتګ سره د فلمونو د لیکولو بازار تود شوی دی او د پخوا پرتله اوس زیاتره فلمونه د هندي او انګریزۍ فلمونو تر اغېز لاندې راغلي دي: ((د یو فنکار په حیث به زه دا ووایم چې د هندي او انګرېزۍ له فلمونو موږ په دې وجه هم شاته پاتې یو چې زموږ په ذهن کې د لیک په وخت کې دا خیال راځي چې دا شیان په مذهبي توګه جایز نه دي، همدغه بندیز زموږ د وروسته پاتې کېدو وجه ده. هلته [هند،امریکا] لیکوالانو باندې مذهبي بندیزونه نشته، د هغوی انډسټري مخ پر وړاندې روانه ده.)) د پښتونخوا له صوابۍ ضلعې سره تعلق لرونکی ۶۵ کالن خان صادق لالا زیاتوي، پر پښتو سربېره یې سېندي، هندکو، اردو او فارسۍ ژبو له پاره فلمونه او ډرامې لیکلي دي او په همدې میدان کې یې یو شمېر ایوارډونو او انعامونه ګټلي دي.
In Bangladesh’s history, indeed in the dark tales of time, the night of March 25, 1971 will remain noted for the ferocity with which the Pakistan army went after 75 million unarmed Bangalees of what had till then been Pakistan’s eastern province. It was a night when duplicity came full circle — from the military junta headed by General Yahya Khan, from his political accomplice Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. On the pretext of negotiations with Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on the issue of a transfer of power to the elected representatives of the people, the regime increased the strength of the army, in ammunition as well as manpower over a period of ten days. The eventual objective, as was revealed in the hour or so that remained before the day would pass into the next, was a crushing of Bangalee nationalism. All through the day, the Awami League team to the tripartite talks involving the junta, the People’s Party and itself waited for a response to its latest proposals on a constitutional settlement from the regime. A spokesman of the junta had earlier promised to call the Awami League leadership, ostensibly to set up another meeting. The call never came. As dusk fell, rumours began to abound about imminent military action against the province. For his part, Bangabandhu advised his party colleagues and everyone else who went to see him at his residence at 32 Dhanmondi to leave the city. He made it clear, though, that he was going to stay, for if he did not, the army would raze Dhaka to the ground. In the event, they were to do that bad job anyway. At 7:30 in the evening, President Yahya Khan boarded a Pakistan International Airlines flight in absolute secrecy and took off for Karachi. Before stealthily going out of Dhaka, he instructed the army high command to commence operations against the Bangalees, but only after he had landed in Karachi. This message was passed on by General Tikka Khan, martial law administrator of East Pakistan, to Maj Gen Khadem Hossain Raja. “Khadem, it’s tonight,” said Tikka, referring to what would infamously become known as Operation Searchlight. At 11:00pm, army units fanned out in different directions across the city. One headed for Dhaka University, where soldiers swooped on Jagannath Hall and the homes of teachers, shooting their way in and killing everyone they came across. Another made its way to Dhanmondi, the clear objective being to take Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman into custody. Other units busied themselves destroying the Kali Mandir in the centre of the Race Course and the Central Shaheed Minar. Troops also went out in search of a number of senior Awami League leaders, almost all of whom escaped capture. Contingents also went to the Rajarbagh police headquarters and the East Pakistan Rifles in Pilkhana. As March 25 gave way to March 26, Dhaka was on fire. ZA Bhutto, from his suite in the Intercontinental Hotel, watched the offices of the radical pro-Bangalee nationalist newspaper The People burn. In Dhanmondi, Bangabandhu declared the independence of Bangladesh through wireless, a message that was soon passed on to MA Hannan, a prominent Awami League leader of Chittagong. Bangabandhu’s declaration read: “This may be my last message. From today Bangladesh is independent. I call upon the people of Bangladesh, wherever you might be and with whatever you have, to resist the army of occupation to the last. Your fight must go on until the last soldier of the Pakistan occupation army is expelled from the soil of Bangladesh. Final victory is ours.” Minutes after he made the declaration, Bangabandhu was arrested by the Pakistan army and driven away, to what was then an under-construction national assembly building in the Second Capital area (today’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar). He was then moved to Adamjee College in the cantonment, where he spent the night, before being shifted to Flagstaff House. After three days there, he was flown to West Pakistan and put in solitary confinement in Mianwali jail. The night between March 25 and March 26 was given over to unmitigated bloodletting by the Pakistan army. In that single night and well into the morning of March 27, the soldiers killed and pillaged. Thousands were to die. Among those murdered were such respected academics as GC Dev Jyotirmoy Guhathakurta, badly wounded, would die three days later. Students at Jagannath Hall were killed and their bodies, at the orders of the soldiers, were dumped into a mass grave on the premises of the hall by their fellow students. And then those students too were shot. Bodies of Bangalees — rickshaw pullers, pedestrians and others — lay sprawled all over the city. Terror was writ large across the land.
The Pakistan government should formally apologise to the people of Bangladesh for the atrocities committed by Pakistan occupation army during the War of Independence in 1971, Salima Hashmi, daughter of Pakistani late poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz said in Dhaka on Sunday. “My father wrote a number of poems on the genocide committed in Bangladesh. He expressed the sufferings faced by the people in 1971,” a visibly emotional Hashmi said while talking to the Independent after receiving the “Bangladesh Liberation War Honour Award” at a ceremony in the city. “I was overwhelmed with emotions while coming over to Bangladesh and receiving the award on behalf of my father,” the daughter of the renowned Pakistani poet, who was outspoken on the atrocities committed by the Pakistani occupation forces during the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh, said. The Pakistani government repeatedly warned my father for writing in favour of Bangladesh's freedom struggle. We did not know much about the atrocities committed by the Pakistani Army, as information was not passed by the military personnel, she recounted. Welcoming the present Awami league-led government’s initiative to honour the foreign friends for their outstanding contributions to the Liberation War of Bangladesh, she said: “Pakistani women have already apologised to the women of Bangladesh for the ill-treatment they received at the hands of the Pakistani army.” Asma Jahangir, a renowned human rights activist of Pakistan and daughter of the late Malik Ghulam Jilani, then vice-chairman of the West Pakistan Awami League, also received the award on behalf of her father in Dhaka yesterday. “It’s a positive step taken by the Bangladesh government. It’ll strengthen Bangladesh’s relations with different countries,” she observed. The recipients of “Bangladesh Liberation War Honour” and “Friends of Bangladesh” have thanked the Bangladesh government for bestowing the honours upon them for their outstanding contributions during the Liberation War. Some of them shared their emotions with The Independent on Sunday. The Bangladesh government honoured 68 foreign nationals, as well as an organisation, in the sixth phase of honouring the country’s foreign friends. Dr Amiya Kumar Chaudhuri, an Indian national, thanked the government for recognising their contribution in the 1971 War of Independence. He was an active member of the Calcutta University Shahayak Samity during the Liberation War. He used to collect funds for Bangladeshi intellectuals by arranging cultural events. “It’s really a remarkable moment for us. We highly appreciate the Bangladesh government’s initiatives to honour its foreign friends,” he said. Chaudhuri organised a number of seminars to impress upon the then Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi the need to recognise Bangladesh’s struggle for freedom. “We arranged many seminars to mobilise public opinion in favour of Bangladesh. Despite financial problems, we continued the movement to support the people of Bangladesh,” he added. Dr Dhrubajyoti Lahiry, then a lecturer in Presidency College of Kolkata, was another member of the Calcutta University Shahayak Samity. He said they had extended all-out support to the refugees from Bangladesh. He also arranged seminars throughout India to create mass awareness about Bangladesh’s freedom struggle. “The award made me a little uneasy at first. But, at the same time, I feel happy that the government of Bangladesh has taken a landmark initiative to honour all foreign friends for their role during its War of Independence,” he said. The undaunted spirit of Bangladesh’s freedom movement, and the tyranny, persecution and anguish suffered by her people were vividly reflected in the paintings of Prof. Dhiraj Choudhury. Appreciating the Bangladesh government’s initiatives, he said, “It would inspire young people contribute to the country’s cause.” Choudhury, a former professor of Delhi Art College, said, “I arranged a solo exhibition on the theme ‘Happenings and inheritance of Bangladesh’ in 1971. It created public awareness in favour of Bangladesh in the global arena and raised funds as well.” Dr Tomio Mizokami, professor emeritus of Osaka University of foreign studies in Japan, expressed deep gratification after receiving the award. “It’s remarkable. It’s difficult to express in words. I feel honoured to have received such a prestigious award,” he said. “During the Liberation War, I came to know about the atrocities committed by the Pakistani Army through print and electronic media outlets. I, then, decided to do something for the oppressed people of Bangladesh,” he added. “I started collecting funds in Japan. I also shipped food and other essential commodities to the distressed people,” he recalled. Munshi Mohammad Fazle Kader expressed his gratitude to Bangladesh for receiving the award. “I’m a simple person. It’s a lifetime achievement from Bangladesh,” he said. An eyewitness war of the Liberation War, he added, “I was working at the deputy high commission in Kolkata in 1971. I’m one of the persons who raised the national flag of Bangladesh at the deputy high commission in Kolkata.” “The oppression of the Pakistani army against minorities, and the Bangladesh people, inspired me to work in favour of the Liberation War of Bangladesh. I prepared documents, distributed letters and leaflets and participated in meetings and processions to raise voice against the atrocities committed by the Pakistani Army,” he added.
Bangladesh on Sunday honoured 13 "Pakistani friends" for their outstanding moral support during its nine-month long liberation war, 42 years after they defied risks of persecution by the then military junta.Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina handed them over the honour at a state ceremony along with 56 others at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre while the first group of recipients of the Pakistani 'Friends of Liberation War Honour' included politicians, rights activists, poets and journalists. "It was very difficult to protest against genocide and demand freedom of Bangabandhu staying inside the ring of Pakistani military," Shariar Kabir, one of the members of the committee which was tasked to name the 1971 foreign friends told PTI. Kabir, a liberation war researcher, said some of these Pakistanis even were canned, had to suffer imprisonment and pay fines or were exposed to threats for standing for cause of Bengalis as the Pakistani military troops and their Bengali collaborators were carrying out genocides. "They were treated as traitors in Pakistan for protesting Bangladesh genocide," Kabir said. Officials on the sidelines of the ceremony told PTI that more Pakistanis would be conferred with the honour in phases as the today's ceremony was the fifth of its kind since July 25, 2011 while some 300 foreign friends mostly Indians were honoured as 'Friends of Liberation War Honour' or 'Bangladesh Liberation War Honour'. Sunday's Muktijuddho Moitri Sammanana recipients from Pakistan are politician Begum Nasim Akhtar, Late Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, Malik Ghulam Jilani, Qazi Faiz Mohammad, Lawyer Zafar Malik, Philosopher late Dr Eqbal Ahmad, human rights activists Ahmad Salim and Begum Tahira Mazhar Ali, poet and journalist Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Janab Anwer Pirzado, poet and politician Habib Jalib, politician and filmmaker of Pakistan Shamim Ashraf Malik, professor and journalist Waris Mir.
President says strong bilateral ties guarantee international strategic balance and peace. China's development creates opportunities instead of threats, President Xi Jinping said on Saturday. In his first overseas policy speech in Moscow, Xi presented Beijing's view on current international situations, explained its foreign policies and how it views relations with Russia. The speech came a day after Xi met his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and witnessed the signing of a raft of energy and other agreements on his first trip abroad since becoming president. Addressing a packed crowd of students at the renowned Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Xi said the interests of international communities from different parts of the world are becoming increasingly intertwined, and cooperation and development are the main trends in the new era. The confrontations in the Cold War period no longer exist. "To be in step with changing times you cannot have your body in the 21st century and your head back in the past," he said, adding that the old mentalities from the Cold War era and zero-sum games should be discarded. "It will be impossible for any single country or country bloc to dominate international affairs," as emerging economies and developing countries enter the speedway of development, and several growth hubs are taking shape around the world, he said. Xi also warned against foreign interference in domestic politics. "We must respect the right of each country to independently choose its path of development, and we oppose interference in the affairs of sovereignty in other countries." China strongly feels a country's internal issues of sovereignty should be addressed by its own government and people, while international affairs can only be solved through negotiation among governments and peoples. "This is the democratic rule of dealing with international affairs, and the international community should follow it. "If you want to know if the shoes fit, you should try them first," he said, raising a ripple of laughter among his audience. During the speech, Xi also quoted well-known stories in Russian literatures to illustrate sound bilateral ties, stressing that China and Russia both accord each other priority in diplomacy and view each other's development as opportunities. "Strong Sino-Russian relations are not only to our own interests, but serve as an important, reliable guarantee of international strategic balance and peace," he said.
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday said he hoped China and Russia could strengthen exchanges and cooperation between the military forces of the two countries while visiting the country's defense ministry. Xi also visited the Russian Armed Forces' Operational Command Center, becoming the first foreign leader ever to be allowed inside the "heart" of the Russian military establishment, according to the ministry. While meeting with Russian defense minister General Sergei Shoigu, Xi said he believed that the trip would benefit strategic and political mutual trust between the two countries and boost their military-to-military relationship and cooperation. Bilateral military cooperation has a special and important place in the overall China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination, said Xi, adding that the two armed forces have seen their exchanges and cooperation constantly enhanced in recent years, particularly in the fields of high-level contacts, personnel training, joint exercises, and military technologies. China and Russia, in the face of complicated and volatile international situation, should strengthen their coordination, and work with the international community to deal with all kinds of challenges and threats, Xi said. He also hoped the two militaries could implement the consensus reached by the two heads of state, better plan defense and military exchanges and cooperation, and promote greater development of inter-military ties to protect the common interests of the two nations. Shoigu said extremism and terrorism threaten to jeopardize regional and global peace. Russia and China should boost military-to-military exchanges and safeguard common security, the minister said. While visiting the operational command center, big screens showed real-time images of Russia's army, navy and air force, as well as the country's strategic missile troops and special forces, which either were on duty or in the middle of military drills. President Xi arrived in Moscow on Friday for a state visit, the first leg of his maiden foreign trip since he took office.
http://www.thehindu.comDefying every prediction, the Pakistan People’s Party, which came to power in February 2008, has managed to complete a full term in office. That this is history-making says much about a country that for half its existence has been ruled by the military, which dominates national affairs even in times of civilian rule, to the point that no previous elected government survived five years. Indeed, this is now seen as the PPP government’s biggest achievement. To give it credit, the government took many steps to institutionalise democracy. Notably, it brought in amendments to cleanse military interventions in the Constitution, reducing the powers of the President, and restoring the executive supremacy of the Prime Minister; provinces got more powers. But as the country prepares for the next elections on May 11, the PPP, which spent most of its term looking over its shoulder at shadows, both real and imagined, has little else to show on governance. President Asif Ali Zardari’s early reluctance to reinstate judges sacked by his military predecessor Pervez Musharraf ensured that when Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary was eventually restored, the government was locked in a debilitating battle with the Supreme Court, giving rise to damaging rumours that the judiciary was a proxy for the Army. The government’s attempts to reclaim foreign policy from the military sent its relations with the United States on a roller coaster ride, while ties with India plunged after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and are still to recover fully. Pakistan’s economy is in a shambles, in large part due to faulty policies over the years, but also owing to the terrible security climate and the political uncertainty in the country. The government was unable to shake off its reputation for corruption. And it was simply beyond its capacity to rein in militant groups — born out of the military’s pact with Islamist extremists — that have ferociously turned inward on Pakistan’s own citizens. A Bonapartist looking for willing instruments could have made use of political adventurers such as Tahir ul Qadri. The Army is still to live down the U.S. killing of Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan but if there was no coup, it could well have been because the country is so messy that the military would rather let politicians take the rap for it. The PPP could blame the previous military regime for its failures. After the country’s first democratic transition — to participate in which even the disgraced Musharraf has made bold to return from self-exile — the weight of people’s expectations will fall squarely on the next government. The political party or group that comes to power has to deliver, or risk damaging Pakistan’s tiny shoots of democracy.
British woman who jumped from a hotel balcony in India fearing sexual assault said on Sunday she shouted for help for more than an hour before she fled. The 31-year-old from London said she had barricaded the door of her hotel room in Agra with furniture to stop two men from entering. "I held my key in the lock and I could feel them turning it from the other side," she told the BBC.A dental hygienist by profession, she injured both legs in the jump but said her ordeal could have been a lot worse. The manager of the hotel and another member of staff appeared in court on Wednesday accused of harassing the British woman, with their lawyer saying they denied the charges. The woman said she wanted to talk about her experience "because the shame of sexual assault makes many people too scared to speak out". She also said it was "disgusting" that her fellow hotel residents had failed to help. The incident came just days after a Swiss cyclist was allegedly gang-raped in the central state of Madhya Pradesh by a group of villagers, while on a cycling trip with her husband that was meant to include a stopover in Agra. The British woman, who is now back in Britain, told the BBC her ordeal began when she was "surprised" by a knock at her door at 3:45 am.She denied claims by the hotel manager's lawyer that she had asked for a wake-up call, saying she had set her phone alarm for 4.30 am to catch a taxi for a train to Jaipur. She said she was still wearing pyjamas when she opened the door to find the hotel manager asking if she wanted to take a shower and offering a massage. "He was showing me this oil he had," she said. When he refused to go away, she barricaded herself inside her room. For the next hour and a quarter "I was kicking the door and screaming hoping someone would help", she said. "By hook or by crook this person - or persons - were going to get into my room. I'm 100 percent certain. And there was only one way out, to jump two floors." She said that when she hit the ground, she heard a shout but "I didn't look back and just ran", hardly noticing her injuries as adrenaline took over. She said a passing rickshaw driver took her to a police station where he stayed with her for hours and acted as translator. "He was amazing," she said, but added: "I don't know his name and I don't know how to thank him." She also praised the police in Agra. She insisted she had been "exercising a lot of caution and wearing appropriate clothes" after hearing about recent cases. She said she had not been put off from returning to India, but was "never going to travel alone again". Prakash Narayan Sharma, lawyer for the hotel manager Sachin Chauhan, told AFP his client was being framed and claimed the British tourist had invented the story. He also claimed it was a conspiracy concocted by the tourism authorities in New Delhi to tarnish the image of Agra, which is home to the Taj Mahal, a major tourist attraction.
Bahrain's already tarnished reputation for human rights will receive a body blow today with the cancellation of a major conference on medical ethics in the tiny island monarchy, and the resignation of the Irish director of Bahrain's principal medical school. At least 20 civilians were killed by government forces – opposition leaders say the figures is four times as great – in the failed uprising by the majority Shia Muslim community against the minority Sunni-led government of King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa two years ago. Security forces stormed hospitals in the kingdom and tortured patients in medical care, tearing apart the hitherto non-sectarian health service. The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) – which trained many of the doctors later arrested by the regime – was bitterly criticised after the violence for not condemning government brutality.But Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) will today announce its decision to cancel next month's international meeting – in which medical and human rights experts were to speak for two days on "medical ethics and dilemmas in situations of political discord or violence" – while Professor Tom Collins, president of the Medical University of Bahrain, will tell his 1,100 students and 240 staff at lunchtime that he is resigning in protest at the cancellation. The university is run by the RCSI and was co-sponsor of the conference with MSF. At least 40 Bahraini doctors, many of them attached to the RCSI medical university on the island, were arrested and charged after the mini-uprising of 2011 – four are still in prison – although Professor Collins has pleaded for their release. A prestigious roster of speakers was to have included Professor Patrick Roe, the president of RCSI, a consultant general surgeon at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, Anastasia Crickley of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and Baroness Nuala O'Loan, Northern Ireland's first – and highly controversial – police ombudsman from 2000 to 2007. Many attribute Catholic trust in the new Police Service of Northern Ireland to the work of Lady O'Loan. The organisers were to show a film, Access to the Danger Zone, on MSF doctors in Afghanistan and other wars, narrated by Daniel Day-Lewis. For months, both the MSF and RCSI tried to persuade the Bahraini royal family to allow the conference. They say they were forced to cancel it when they failed to receive written permission from the authorities to hold the meeting at the Intercontinental Hotel in the capital, Manama. In an exclusive interview, Professor Collins – whose resignation will take effect in June, just over half way through his tenureship of the medical university – said that he had met the Bahraini Crown Prince, Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, in the company of an MSF official. "He gave his verbal approval to myself and MSF," Professor Collins said. "This was in the late autumn of last year. He said: 'I want this conference to happen'. But the written permission never arrived." According to his colleagues, Professor Collins felt there were important parallels between the situation in Bahrain and that in Northern Ireland, which made the conference all the more valuable for Bahrain. "There was a sectarian dimension to the uprising in Bahrain – but in neither Bahrain nor Northern Ireland was it as initially sectarian as it was made out to be," one of the professor's fellow teachers said. "In both cases, the authorities responded to a political problem with a security response – and drove the sectarian wedge deeper. Then came internment in Northern Ireland and Bloody Sunday, all of them disproportionate responses, radicalising the minority [Catholic] population. There has now been a high level of radicalisation among the Shia in Bahrain. The lesson from Northern Ireland is that you can create political engagement providing you have institutional and legitimate frameworks to guarantee human rights." This view alone may have made the conference highly charged in the eyes of the Bahraini royal family, which called its own public inquiry into the violence in 2011, in which police fired live rounds at unarmed Shia protestors who – after the Arab uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt – believed their time had also come. But they protested too soon. With no post-revolutionary programme, the thousands of demonstrators were driven from their centre at Pearl Square; many were arrested in hospitals after being wounded by police officers. The Pearl monument was subsequently demolished by the government. The Bassiouni commission of inquiry, called by the royal family, delivered a harsh report on repression and torture by the authorities, but was never acted on. Professor Collins wrote to Professor Cherif Bassiouni with his own recommendation to free still-imprisoned doctors. He received no reply. Bahrain's royal family – dominated by Saudi Arabia, whose soldiers were sent into the island as part of a Gulf Co-operation Council force to crush the uprising – now faces a hard task to explain why an international conference on medical ethics cannot be held in the kingdom. Dr Bart Janssens, MSF's director of operations, says that "after a year of discussions, we still do not have the support we need to go ahead with the conference. As a result, we are forced to conclude that today in Bahrain, it is not possible for medical professionals and international impartial participants to have a conversation about medical ethics." According to Dr Janssens, who is from Belgium, MSF will look for other locations in the Gulf. Professor Collins, who has been deeply upset by the violence, says that he does not wish to harm the RCSI, whose university in Bahrain makes a profit of around $2m (£1.3m) a year – although it is currently $50m in debt – and that he wants to contribute to stability in Bahrain. British trade and the presence of the US Fifth Fleet in Bahrain have effectively silenced any serious criticism from Messrs Cameron and Obama. King Hamad was invited to the Queen's Golden Jubilee. MSF has repeatedly proposed to the Bahraini ministry of health that it would accompany patients to health centres to verify that staff, patients and security personnel were acting in compliance with medical ethics. The ministry failed to reply. Jonathan Whittall, of MSF in the Middle East, says that health facilities in Bahrain became a battleground. "At the beginning of the uprising, the opposition used the Salmaniya Hospital as a launch pad for protests – after which the government disproportionately reacted by militarising health care," he says. "Hospitals became places to be feared. Our conference was designed to raise the problems of medical ethics and to restore trust in the health system in Bahrain. It's not only in Bahrain but in the region that discussions of this kind would have a benefit for patients to approach hospitals without fear. Failing to have this conference is not only a setback on this problem for Bahrain, but for the region as a whole." Bahrain's royal family is divided over how to respond to the majority Shia demand for more political power. Crown Prince Salman is a reformist – hence, presumably, his desire to hold the international conference on medical ethics – but others, under the influence of the Saudis, believe that no way should be opened to reform. During the 2011 demonstrations, some Shia Bahrainis asked the Crown Prince to join them at Pearl Square. One Shia woman even said that the protesters would carry Prince Salman on their shoulders around the square to show their support for him. But he did not come. And no protester would make such an offer today.
President Barack Obama on Saturday urged Congress to vote on a ban on controversial military-style assault weapons and restrictions on ammunition, despite widespread predictions that such a vote would fail.
By IAN URBINA and CATHERINE RENTZ On any given day, about 300 immigrants are held in solitary confinement at the 50 largest detention facilities that make up the sprawling patchwork of holding centers nationwide overseen by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, according to new federal data. Nearly half are isolated for 15 days or more, the point at which psychiatric experts say they are at risk for severe mental harm, with about 35 detainees kept for more than 75 days. While the records do not indicate why immigrants were put in solitary, an adviser who helped the immigration agency review the numbers estimated that two-thirds of the cases involved disciplinary infractions like breaking rules, talking back to guards or getting into fights. Immigrants were also regularly isolated because they were viewed as a threat to other detainees or personnel or for protective purposes when the immigrant was gay or mentally ill. The United States has come under sharp criticism at home and abroad for relying on solitary confinement in its prisons more than any other democratic nation in the world. While Immigration and Customs Enforcement places only about 1 percent of its jailed immigrants in solitary, this practice is nonetheless startling because those detainees are being held on civil, not criminal, charges. As such, they are not supposed to be punished; they are simply confined to ensure that they appear for administrative hearings. After federal immigration authorities caught up with him, Rashed BinRashed, an illegal arrival from Yemen, was sent to a detention center in Juneau, Wis. He was put in solitary confinement, he says, after declining to go to the jail’s eating area and refusing meals because he wanted to fast during Ramadan. Federal officials confined Delfino Quiroz, a gay immigrant from Mexico, in solitary for four months in 2010, saying it was for his own protection, he recalls. He sank into a deep depression as he overheard three inmates attempt suicide. “Please, God,” he remembers praying, “don’t let me be the same.” As lawmakers in Washington consider an overhaul of the immigration system, Congress faces thorny questions not just about what status to grant immigrants already in the country, but also about how best to increase enforcement efforts and what rights to ensure illegal immigrants during their detention. The new federal data highlights how punitive and costly immigration policy has become, since solitary is one of the most expensive forms of detention. “I.C.E. is clearly using excessive force, since these are civil detentions,” said Dr. Terry Kupers, a psychiatrist who studies solitary confinement at the Wright Institute, a graduate school in psychology based in Berkeley, Calif. “And that makes this a human rights abuse.” Ernestine Fobbs, an agency spokeswoman, said that aside from immigrants who are separated from the general population for disciplinary reasons, detainees are isolated only “as a final resort, when other options are not available to address the specifics of the situation.” “I.C.E. takes the mental health care of individuals in the agency’s custody very seriously,” she added. The agency declined to talk about particular cases, citing privacy concerns. Another agency official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, emphasized that some detainees who are put in “segregation units” have criminal records, gang affiliations or histories of violence. “It’s an extreme situation,” the official said. “We want to make sure not to overuse it.” While the conditions of confinement vary, detainees in solitary are routinely kept alone for 22 to 23 hours per day, sometimes in windowless 6-foot-by-13-foot cells, according to interviews with current and former detainees and a review of case records involving more than three dozen immigrants since 2010. Access to phones and lawyers is far more restricted in solitary; occasionally such communications were permitted only in the middle of the night when it was unlikely anyone would be available. Immigrants are typically given an hour or so of recreation each day, detainees said. In some facilities, that is limited to pacing in what detainees call “the cage,” a sparse indoor enclosure with concrete floors and fencing on all sides, similar to an indoor dog kennel. The federal data, which officials began reviewing a year ago at the request of immigration lawyers, offers the first public snapshot of the number of immigrants held in solitary confinement, how long they were there and how many had mental health problems — about 10 percent. The 50 facilities that were reviewed by the agency over a five-month period hold about 85 percent of the agency’s average daily population of 34,000 detainees. The tallies provided by the immigration agency are probably low because many of the detention centers failed to report segregation statistics during some weeks of the review, and some did not include mental health cases in their tallies. The immigration official who requested anonymity said the agency closely monitors conditions to ensure that isolation practices adhere to agency guidelines, including regular reviews of the solitary cases and visits by medical professionals. In exit interviews and case documents, immigrant detainees describe varying reasons for being sent to solitary. At Pinal County, Ariz., for example, a detainee reported being sent to solitary for nearly three months after allegedly arguing with a guard. He said guards denied his request for a video review of the situation before sentencing him to solitary. Another detainee in Sherburne County, Minn., said she was isolated after guards found some peanut butter and a Kool-Aid packet in a bag in her cell, a violation of the rules. Agency officials say that they are limited in their ability to use ankle bracelets and other alternatives to detaining immigrants in its 250 jails, private prisons and other facilities. The agency pays an average of $122 per day for each immigrant it detains. The agency does not track the cost of solitary confinement, but experts say the practice can triple the cost and can be hundreds of times more expensive than alternatives like using electronic ankle bracelets. As the Obama administration has stepped up enforcement, the immigration detention population has increased; it is up by nearly 85 percent since 2005. When illegal immigrants are detained, they are typically not given sentences with end dates; they are held, sometimes for months, until they voluntarily sign deportation papers or immigration authorities determine whether they can stay or will be deported. Although the immigration agency’s new guidelines limit the use of solitary to 30 days for each disciplinary infraction, there are exceptions, and such confinement can be indefinite, according to data obtained by the National Immigrant Justice Center and the Investigative Reporting Workshop, a nonprofit journalism organization based at American University. Solitary confinement is widely viewed as the most dangerous way to detain people, and roughly half of prison suicides occur when people are segregated in this way. Deprived of meaningful human contact, otherwise healthy prisoners often become deeply troubled. Paranoia, depression, memory loss and self-mutilation are not uncommon. No data is available on how many of the 18 suicides out of 133 deaths of detained immigrants since 2003 occurred in solitary units. Dr. Allen Keller, the director of the New York University Center for Health and Human Rights, said that when he interviewed about 70 immigrant detainees a decade or so ago, roughly a quarter said they had been put in solitary at some point and about 40 percent said they had been threatened with it. Trauma experts say the psychological impact of solitary may be more acute for immigrant detainees because many are victims of human trafficking, domestic violence or sexual assault or have survived persecution and torture in their home countries. For example, Ronal Rojas-Castro, a Honduran immigrant, was detained for eight months after entering the United States illegally last April. He was caught after being held captive by smugglers for five days with more than 100 other people in a house in Texas near the Mexico border. When one of the immigrants managed to call for help, the immigration agency was alerted, and Mr. Rojas-Castro broke his ankle trying to run away. He was later caught and put in solitary, he says, because guards said his crutches could be used as a weapon. Mr. Rojas-Castro was kept in complete darkness for four days, wearing only his underwear. Dr. Kupers, the psychiatrist at the Wright Institute, said: “Immigrants have the worst situation. They have no advocates. Their family is afraid to complain.” Detainees are not automatically represented by legal counsel, and about 85 percent have none. Mr. BinRashed, the Yemeni detainee, had been in the United States for five years after fleeing his civil-war-ravaged country in 1999. He arrived as an asylum seeker, but was detained in 2005 for having falsely listed his country of origin as Somalia. He was held for nearly three years in immigration detention, but he won his case in court against being deported and now lives in Chicago with his fiancée and her son. He recounted his time in solitary confinement as the most awful experience of his life. Todd Nehls, the recently retired sheriff of Dodge County, Wis., who ran the detention facility where Mr. BinRashed was held, said in an interview that he did not believe his officers would have placed the detainee on 23-hour lockdown for refusing meals, but that Mr. BinRashed could have been isolated for breaking rules or being argumentative. Mr. Nehls added that he did not recall specifics about the case. Mr. Quiroz says officers told him he had been placed in solitary for his own protection because he is gay. When he was caught driving drunk in 2010, Mr. Quiroz had been living in the United States waiting for legal status from an application that his father, an American citizen, submitted 12 years earlier. While his legal status was being determined, Mr. Quiroz was not required to leave the country, but his probation officer handed him over to the immigration agency, which sent him into detention in Houston. Against his objections, Mr. Quiroz, like many other gay, lesbian and transgender detainees, was placed in solitary. He was released from detention in March 2011. In recent years, pressure has increased to limit the use of solitary in other settings. After a Senate hearing last June, the federal Bureau of Prisons said it planned to review its policies and immediately reduce by about 25 percent the number of prisoners in isolation. Last year the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, called for a ban on solitary confinement except in limited situations and singled out the United States for its reliance on the method. He recommended a ban on prolonged solitary confinement, meaning longer than 15 days, because, he said, the sensory deprivation may amount to torture. He also called for a ban against isolation for juveniles and those with mental disabilities. Early this month, he released a report partly focused on the American government’s use of solitary confinement on detained immigrants. “The United States,” he said in an interview, “is in breach of its obligations under the torture convention.”
Shahbaz Sharif reinserts Sunni Islamist chapters in school curricula after joint protest by Ansar Abbasi and Sipah-e-Sahaba
http://criticalppp.comWe regret to announce that in response to a joint protest by Deobandi militants of the Sipah-e-Sahaba (ASWJ-LeJ) and their right-wing lackeys in the Jang Group (led by Ansar Abbasi Deobandi), PML-N led Punjab government has decided to cancel the recently implemented reforms in the school curricula. Recently the curriculum reform committee in the Punjab province had revised the curriculum in secondary schools to make it more inclusive by removing those Islamist chapters which are of no interest or importance to non-Muslims (4% of the population) and non-Sunni Muslims (20% of the population). Several Islamist chapters including Sunni Islamist chapters were removed from the 10th class Urdu text book edition published in February 2013. The change was motivated by a desire to remove the menace of Islamist and sectarian violence (by Deobandi militants of the Sipah-e-Sahaba ASWJ-LeJ and other militant groups) from the curricula. For example, the following chapters were replaced with more inclusive chapters on literature, civic and ethics. ‘Islamic ideology of Pakistan’ ‘Hazrat Umar (RA)- a Great Administrator’ Islam-related poems e.g., ‘Rabbe Kainaat’ (God of the Universe) of Maulana Altaf Hussain Hali, ‘Mohsin-e-Insaniat (PBUH)’ (the Saviour of Humanity) by Mahirul Qadri, ‘Tulu-e-Islam’ (the rise of Islam) of Allama Iqbal, ‘Siddiq (RA)’ on Hazrat Abu Bakar Siddiq (RA) by Allama Iqbal, ‘Shaan-e-Taqwa’ (Honour of Piety) by Allama Iqbal The new edition of the ‘Urdu compulsory for 10th class’ does not include the very first chapter of the earlier edition’s prose i.e ‘Hazrat Umar Farooq (RA)- a great administrator’ by Allama Shibli Naumani. The new text book’s first chapter is an essay on writer ‘Mirza Muhammad Saeed’ written by Shahid Ahmad Dehlvi. The second chapter in the old edition was on ‘Ideology of Pakistan’ written by Dr Ghulam Mustafa Khan. This chapter highlighted the Islamist basis for the creation of Pakistan and endorsed that the country was created in the name of Islam, to make it an Islamic state, has been replaced by a new chapter on ‘Princess of Paristan’ (Paristan ki shahzadi) written by Ashraf Saboohi. The third chapter of the old edition of the 10th class text book was ‘Musaddas-e-Hali’ written by Moulvi Abdul Haq. This chapter narrates how a Muslim poet in the 19th century influenced the hearts and minds of the Muslims. It has now been replaced by a writing of Dr Waheed Qureshi on ‘Eidul Fitr in Urdu Literature’ (Urdu Adab main Eidul Fitr). Similarly the chapters like ‘Sacrifice’ (Eisaar) by Deputy Nazir Ahmad, was removed from the new 10th class text book. The story is about a Muslim child who distributed his Eidi to a poor family. Another chapter of the old book ‘Fatima binte (daughter of) Abdullah’ written by Mirza Adeeb has also removed from the new Urdu compulsory of class 10 for Punjab students. This story was about a 10-year old daughter of an Arab leader Abdullah. The story is about Jihad and the young Muslim girl’s urge to help the Muslim Mujahideen (warriors) in Jihad against non-Muslim forces. The girl was martyred and did her parents proud. Allama Muhammad Iqbal too wrote a poem on this young girl with the title ‘Fatima binte Abdullah’. Allama presented her as a role model for Muslim youth. A chapter Nam Dev Mali was, instead, included in the book that was about an expert Hindu gardener who was killed when attacked and stung by honey bees. The writer of this short story Maulvi Abdul Haq described the death of the expert Hindu gardener as ‘having embraced Shahadat (martyrdom)’. One of the chapters in the old edition was about ‘The deprived of inheritance’ (Mahroom-e-Virasat) by Allama Rashidul Khairi has also been excluded. This chapter focused on women’s rights in Islam. One chapter called ‘Travelling is the key to success’ (Safar Kamiabi ki Kunji hay) written by Moulana Abdul Haleem Sharar, has also been removed. It covered the adventures, jihad, travelling etc of the great Muslim leaders. A chapter on the ‘words of poets’ (Shaeron ki batain) in the old book has also been removed. The chapter presented different aspects particularly self respect of Muslim poets. On the poetry side all the Islamic poems including ‘Rabe Kainaat’ of Maulana Altaf Hussain Hali, Tulu-e-Islam of Allama Iqbal, ‘Mohsin-e-Insaniat’ of Mahirul Qadri, ‘Siddiq (RA) on Hazrat Abu Bakar Siddiq (RA) by Allama Iqbal, ‘Shaan-e-Taqwa’ (which is against drinking) by Allama Iqbal etc have also been removed in the new text book. Two ghazals of Khawaja Mir Dard on Islamic Sufism were also removed from the new text. Poetry of a Indian poet Firaq Gorakhpuri has been included in the text book and the poet is presented as a hero awarded by the Indian and Russian governments. While the title page of the book contains the picture of Allama Iqbal, it does not contain any of his poetem. Excluding overly Sunni Islamist poetry, the new text book, however starts with a Hamd (praise of Almighty Allah) and Naat (praise of Hazrat Muhammad — PBUH). Unfortunately, despite a plethora of paid and unpaid secular consultants and prmoters (Raza Rumi, Marvi Sirmed, Mosharraf Zaidi), Shahbaz Sharif (CM Punjab) deemed it fit to cancel the secular and inclusive reforms in the school curricula.
While Shahbaz Sharif led PML-N government has practically refused to punish the PMLN-ASWJ leaders and militants involved in attacks on Christians in Gorja or Joseph Colony Lahore, its intentions about financial compensation of the victims are equally dubious. Shaheed-e-Haq Shabaz Bhatti clearly held Sipah Sahaba Talibaan of ASWJ LEJ responsible for Gojra incident. Instead of holding those these people to account PMLN has made electoral alliances and developed very thick ties. LAHORE: The cheques distributed among victims of the Joseph Colony attack by the Punjab government bounced, Express News reported Thursday. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had announced Rs0.5 million in compensation for each of those affected in the mob attack. However, the 265 cheques distributed by the government have bounced. According to reports, the finance ministry had issued the amount promised. When the cheques bounced, the victims started protesting. On March 9, an over 3,000-strong mob had set ablaze more than 150 houses of Christians in the Joseph Colony over alleged blasphemous remarks against Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) by Sawan Masih, a 28-year-old Christian sanitation worker. http://tribune.com.pk/story/524265/joseph-colony-cheques-handed-out-by-punjab-govt-bounce/ The patronage of terrorists by PML-N has been well documented in the Joseph Colony incident. After burning more than 170 house of poor Christian community in Lahore’s Badami Bagh area, Deobandi militants of the Sipah-e-Sahaba (currently operating as Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat ASWJ aka Lashkar-e-Jhangvi LeJ under the patronage of Shahbaz Sharif-led PML-N government in the Punjab) are inciting Deobandi and other Sunni Muslims to further violence against innocent Christian community. Here’s one of several anti-Christian hate posts published on the Ulma-e-Deoband, Pakistan’s largest Deobanid web portal, known for links with Al Qaeda, ASWJ-LeJ (led by Malik Ishaq Deobandi and Ahmed Ludhianvi Deobandi), JUI (led by Fazlur Rehman Deobandi) and PML-N (led by Nawaz Sharif). http://criticalppp.com/archives/249723
Afghan President Hamid Karzai will travel to Qatar within days to discuss peace negotiations with the Taliban, the Afghan Foreign Ministry said on Sunday, as efforts intensify to find a negotiated solution to the twelve year war. Karzai's trip to Qatar would represent the first time the Afghan president has discussed the Taliban peace process in Qatar, and comes after years of stalled discussions with the United States, Pakistan and the Taliban. The announcement was made only hours after another thorny issue in the U.S.-Afghan relationship -- the transfer to Afghan control of the last group of prisoners at the Bagram military complex held by U.S. forces -- appeared to be resolved. The Pentagon announced on Saturday that a deal had been clinched. Karzai's Qatar trip was announced by Foreign Ministry spokesman Janan Mosazai. "President Karzai will discuss the peace process and the opening of a (Taliban) office for the purposes of conducting negotiations with Afghanistan," he said. Karzai was expected to travel to Qatar within a week, a senior Afghan official speaking on condition of anonymity told Reuters. The announcement comes several weeks after Karzai delivered a fiery speech during the first visit to Afghanistan by new U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, in which he accused Washington of holding peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar without him. Karzai also accused the Taliban of colluding with America to keep foreign troops in the country, marking a fresh low point in the relationship between the Afghan president and his most powerful backer. Mosazai confirmed the agreement reached on the transfer of detainees held at the military detention facility at Bagram in Parwan province north of Kabul. The issue of detainees at Bagram had become another stress point in Karzai's relations with Washington. A ceremony formally transferring the last prisoners to Afghan custody collapsed two weeks ago after Karzai rejected part of the deal. American forces control an area of the prison adjacent to the Bagram military complex, which holds several dozen Taliban fighters considered by the United States to pose the most severe threat. Washington is concerned the Afghans may release some of these men when control of the prison is handed over. That concern was reinforced during Karzai's outburst this month, in which he said the United States had been dragging its heels on prisoner transfers and said he would release those detainees that were "innocent". Under the terms of agreement, all Afghans detained by forces of the U.S.-led coalition would now have to be handed over to Afghan control within 96 hours of capture, Mosazai said. Any decision to release them after that would be made only by the Afghan government. The United States last year agreed to hand over responsibility for most of the more than 3,000 detainees at the prison to Afghanistan and held a transfer ceremony in September.
The country sits atop oil, gas and mineral deposits that could be worth a trillion dollars. But building a commercial mining industry will be a rocky road.In a rugged valley outside Kabul, where mud-walled villages blend into bare scrubland, a team of international mining experts and Afghan trainees set up camp over the winter to probe the region's mineral resources. Protected by armed guards, they spent three months drilling test holes into the snowcapped peaks, as curious goat- and sheepherders looked on. "We hit copper damn near everywhere," said Robert Miller, a Colorado-based mining executive recruited by the Pentagon to help advise Afghan authorities on how to develop the country's natural resources. "It's a very encouraging finding." Studies have found that Afghanistan, one of the world's poorest and most war-torn countries, sits atop hydrocarbon and mineral deposits that could be worth more than a trillion dollars. The Afghan government and its U.S. backers are counting on this largely untapped wealth — including oil, gas, copper, iron, gold and lithium — to bring in cash and create jobs as international assistance begins to wind down. "Afghanistan needs to develop its geology," said Najibullah Rochi, a 24-year-old geophysicist with the Afghanistan Geological Survey who was getting his first field experience at the Taghar deposit in what is known as the North Aynak mineral zone. "We need jobs and salaries. This is the way." But industry experts caution that it will take many years and billions of dollars to build the power plants, railway lines and other infrastructure needed to extract and transport commodities from the country's mountainous terrain. Moreover, many of the mineral deposits are in the south and east of Afghanistan, where the Islamist insurgency is strongest. Afghanistan's first attempts to develop a modern mining industry have been plagued by security threats and rumors of corruption, underscoring the difficulty the country is likely to face in unlocking its mineral riches. Miller said he had no doubt about the country's potential. "In my opinion, Afghanistan could replace Chile as the largest exporter of copper," he said. "Can they put it together? That's the trillion-dollar question." Managed poorly, Afghanistan's mineral riches could instead become a source of more conflict and graft, another example of the "resource curse" that has afflicted countries such as Angola, Cambodia and Democratic Republic of Congo. The World Bank estimates that 97% of Afghanistan's economy is tied to international military and donor spending. Although the United States and other major donors have pledged not to abandon the country, they are tired of government corruption and have economic difficulties of their own. Support for Afghanistan could fall sharply after most foreign forces leave by the end of next year. Afghanistan's natural resources appear to represent the country's best hope for self-sufficiency. A report prepared by the Pentagon in 2010, based on research by the U.S. Geological Survey, identified mineral and oil reserves worth nearly $1 trillion. Afghan authorities called that estimate conservative and put the figure at $3 trillion. They hope to sell the development rights to many of the deposits to international mining companies. A $3-billion agreement was reached in 2008 with a Chinese consortium to develop a copper deposit in Logar province, south of Taghar. Negotiations are underway with companies in India and Canada for rights to one of the world's largest iron ore deposits, in Bamian province. The government is also completing contracts for major copper, gold and oil concessions. Wahidullah Shahrani, Afghanistan's minister of mines, said the mining and petroleum sectors could bring in as much as $1.5 billion in annual government revenue, create 150,000 jobs and contribute $5 billion to the economy annually by 2016. "Not in your wildest dreams," Miller said; it could take 10 to 15 years for major projects to be readied. Afghans have engaged in small-scale "artisanal" mining for centuries, but the country does not have large commercial operations. Major construction has not started at the Mes Aynak deposit south of Taghar, a joint venture by the state-run China Metallurgical Group Corp., or MCC, and Jiangxi Copper Co. The site holds ancient Buddhist ruins and artifacts. Archaeologists were given until the end of last year to salvage what they could. But in an interview with The Times, Shahrani said mining would not be allowed to begin until he received clearance from the Ministry of Information and Culture, which he expects by May. Another reason for the delay is that several villages must be relocated, MCC said in its latest earnings report. Last month, the government celebrated the completion of a mosque, schools and other infrastructure at a planned relocation site for displaced villagers. But Mullah Sharbat Ahmadzai, a local elder who sits on a community advisory council for the project, said residents who vacated their homes years ago were still waiting for jobs and for land to rebuild on. Now others don't want to cooperate. "Neither the villagers around the mine site nor the government are benefiting from the project," he said. Security has also been a problem. Land mines had to be cleared, and last summer the consortium suspended work after about 150 Chinese employees fled insurgent rocket attacks. Shahrani said authorities then increased the number of security personnel and the workers returned. Construction hasn't begun on key support infrastructure, including a railway line and a coal-fired power plant. In the meantime, as many as 5,000 Afghans are out of work because authorities last summer put a stop to informal coal mining in Bamian's Kahmard district to make way for the Chinese venture, said the provincial governor, Habiba Sarabi. Frustration over the lack of work and coal — used here for cooking and heating during the winter — may have contributed to a rise in militant attacks last year, Sarabi said. But she said security had improved since authorities increased the number of Afghan army patrols and checkpoints in the area. Shahrani said the central government would not tolerate illegal mining, because of health, safety and environmental concerns, as well as the use of child labor. But he said authorities were developing a policy framework that would permit some artisanal mining. He said he expected production at Mes Aynak to begin in 2014. But some Western advisors privately question whether the Chinese companies may be holding back because of concern about the withdrawal of foreign troops and unfavorable market conditions. Company officials did not respond to requests for comment. So far, major Western mining firms have shown limited interest in Afghanistan. Some have complained about high royalty fees. There is also concern about the country's mining law, which does not guarantee companies the right to develop deposits they explore. Revisions aimed at reassuring foreign investors stalled last summer over Cabinet objections that the changes did not protect the country's interests. Shahrani said he expected a new law to be passed this year. Investors also worry about Afghan corruption. Shahrani's predecessor was sidelined after news reports alleged that he had accepted a $30-million bribe for the Mes Aynak tender, an accusation he denied. Questions were also raised about a northern oil concession awarded to China National Petroleum Corp. and Watan Group, an Afghan company with connections to President Hamid Karzai's family. Critics included Abdul Rashid Dostum, a former warlord whose supporters were accused by government officials of intimidating Chinese workers and demanding kickbacks. A statement issued by Karzai's office said U.S. and British experts audited the tender and found the process was fair. "All the necessary measures have been taken to make sure that our deals are clean, transparent, auditable, and they will be in line with international practices," Shahrani said. Afghanistan signed up for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, an international effort that aims to improve governance in resource-rich countries by publishing payments made by oil, natural gas and mining companies. Last year, the government published more than 200 mining and energy contracts on the Ministry of Mines website. Juman Kubba, a researcher with the London-based watchdog group Global Witness, welcomed the steps but said more safeguards were needed. "One of our concerns is that the Aynak contract still has not been published. So who is going to check it's actually being implemented?" she said. "There are so many international lessons of what can go wrong."
http://www.rferl.orgPakistan’s military says 17 soldiers have been killed in a suicide bombing attack on a checkpoint in the North Waziristan region, near the Afghan border. A military statement said the killed soldiers had “embraced martyrdom.” Earlier reports had spoken of six killed. There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack late March 23. The North Waziristan tribal region is a known stronghold of Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants who say they are trying topple the Pakistani government. Pakistani troops have been battling militants in the region for years.
Balochistan : Mastung Sisters Seek Chief Justice’s Attention For Their Killed, Injured and Missing Brothers
The Baloch Hal NewsThe sisters of three men, one killed, one whisked away by the security forces and the third badly injured in an operation in Mastung area on January 18, 2013, have appealed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to conduct an independent inquiry about what they called as the extrajudicial killing, injury and disappearance of their three brothers. Speaking at a press conference at Mastung Press Club on Saturday, the women said their family comprised of six sisters and three brothers. On January 18, 2013, the security forces conducted an operation in their town in Mastung District which led to the killing of their brother Rasheed Shahwani. Their second brother Nisar Shahwani was critically injured in the attack while a third brother was taken away by the security forces during the operation. The government claimed that the two brothers belonged to the Baloch Liberation Army (B.L.A.). The sisters denied the charges. “Two months after the operation, we still do not know where our third brother is. The security forces took him away. None of our brothers was affiliated with any political groups. Our family has been suffering emotionally and financially after this tragic incident. The government has not been able to prove any charges against our brothers. We want them to reproduce our missing brother before a court and prove whatever charges are there against him,” they demanded. They said their missing brother was badly sick and faced health issues. The women said they had approached various senior officials in the Balochistan government for help but no one had helped them get justice. They appealed to the Supreme Court Chief Justice to take notice of the case and ensure the immediate recovery of their missing brother and also punish those who, as they said, killed their brother without proving any charges against him.
In his first address since returning to Pakistan from self-exile, former President Pervez Musharraf declared his intention to run for office, saying he defied risks to "save" the country. Musharraf landed in Karachi on Sunday after more than four years in exile. He faces criminal charges, and the Taliban have vowed to unleash a "death squad" to assassinate him. However, he said, he does not plan to flee again. "I have put my life in danger and have come to Pakistan -- to you to be the savior of this country," he said at the airport. "I have come to save Pakistan." He chided people who had doubted that he would return. "There were rumors that I would not come -- where are those people now?" he asked. "I am here. I have returned."At the airport, crowds danced, waved the nation's green flag and chanted Musharraf's name. Some people carried giant posters, plastered with his face. "Inshallah (God willing) we will be successful if I have your support," he said. After his statement, he was whisked away to an undisclosed location for safety reasons. Police hovered nearby, guns slung from their shoulders. Complicated return Musharraf resigned as president of the south Asian nation five years ago and went into exile in London and Dubai. He hopes to reassert his influence and lead his party in May elections. His return comes with complications. Government officials have said he would be arrested as soon as he sets foot in the nation while the Pakistani Taliban have vowed to assassinate him. However, his party says it has taken pre-emptive measures to ward off a potential arrest. "Musharraf has been granted bail in advance of his arrival to Pakistan. We have made sure that he is not arrested and his return home will be smooth," said Jawed Siddiqui, a member of the former president's party, All Pakistan Muslim League. His lawyers paid an unknown amount of bail, which means Musharraf will not be arrested for at least 15 days, but must appear in court. Fear of the unknown Musharraf's return home comes with a lot of uncertainties. As he boarded a flight from Dubai International Airport, Musharraf said he was not nervous, but was concerned about the unknown. His wife, Sehba, had a different answer when asked if she was worried. "Who wouldn't be?" she said. Last year, he scuttled plans to return home after the military warned him not to. "There were indications that they didn't want me to come, and my own colleagues told me not to come," Musharraf said. "Therefore, I changed my mind." This time, he said, he will be protected by government security and his private security agents. Musharraf landed in Karachi on a commercial airline. He said in a statement he would be accompanied by 200 expatriates from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates. Arrest over Bhutto's killing In 1999, Musharraf, then chief of Pakistan's army, became its president in a bloodless military coup. He remained in power until resigning five years ago, a period that included the U.S.-led invasion of neighboring Afghanistan. A few months before he left office, Benazir Bhutto -- who was Pakistan's first elected female prime minister -- was killed in a suicide bomb attack as she was wrapping up a campaign rally in Rawalpindi. The attack came months after she survived an assassination attempt in Karachi. Authorities want Musharraf arrested for not doing enough to protect Bhutto's life despite numerous threats. The former military ruler has denied having anything to do with the killing. A jail cell awaits Last year, Pakistani authorities confiscated his property and froze his bank account. They have accused him of not declaring foreign bank accounts he had in his name. The Sindh province Home Ministry said last year that a jail cell awaited him in Karachi upon his return, . In Pakistan, the provincial Home Ministry, not the federal government, is responsible for such arrests. Musharraf defended his record last year, and said he did much to improve the nation's economy while he was in office. However, he has admitted to making mistakes. Disillusioned Pakistanis Musharraf's popularity began declining in 2007 after he suspended the nation's Supreme Court chief justice for "misuse of authority." The move resulted in protests and accusations that he was attempting to influence the court's ruling on whether he could seek another five-year term. Although the chief justice was reinstated, the damage was done. Pakistanis were also disillusioned with Musharraf's policies that led to shortages of essential food items, power cuts and skyrocketing inflation. However, under his leadership, Pakistan attained respectable economic growth rates and established a generally favorable investment climate. Along with that came a growing middle class, more aggressive news media, and a more assertive judiciary. 'Death squad' threat Pakistan also disapproved of the way Musharraf carried out his end of the "war on terror" and used it as a crutch to explain away many of his unpopular moves. After the September 11, 2001, terror attacks against the United States, Musharraf supported the American war on terror and targeted the Taliban. The militants have accused him of pushing an American agenda in Pakistan. An opportune time Musharraf's return comes at an opportune time. Last week, Pakistan marked the first time a democratically elected government has served a full five-year term in the country's 65-year history. While the ruling Pakistan People Party rode to power on the back of discontent with Musharraf, it had to deal with the same problems that plagued Musharraf: food shortages and power cuts. Five years is often enough time for a populace to forgive and forget. On Sunday, election officials named former chief justice Mir Hazar Khan Khoso as interim prime minister. He will head the caretaker administration through the May elections. It remains to be seen whether Pakistan, now soured by the PPP's reign, will welcome Musharraf back with open arms.