Wednesday, July 17, 2013
SHEEMA KHANIt was fitting indeed that Malala Yousafzai addressed the United Nations during the first third of Ramadan. The month’s first 10 days are regarded as the days of God’s mercy.
Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday the future of the Voting Rights Act is in "real jeopardy" following the Supreme Court's decision striking down a portion of the law, telling a prominent organization of black women that Congress should act to preserve "fairness and equality" in the nation's voting system. The former secretary of state was feted with chants of "Run, Hillary, Run," as she concluded her 30-minute remarks to nearly 14,000 members of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, an historic black women's organization celebrating its 100th anniversary. Clinton, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, said the Supreme Court's decision "struck at the heart" of the landmark law and warned that it could undermine Americans' most fundamental rights. "Unless Congress acts, you know and I know, more obstacles are on their way," Clinton said, walking freely on stage instead of delivering her speech from a podium. "They're going to make it difficult for poor people, elderly people, working people, minority people to be able to do what we should take for granted." A divided Supreme Court threw out a key part of the landmark Voting Rights Act in June, stripping the government of its best way to prevent voting bias — the requirement that all or parts of 15 states with a history of discrimination in voting, mostly in the South, get Washington's approval before changing the way they hold elections. The decision has been criticized by civil rights groups who contend it could undermine voting rights in upcoming elections. Clinton made no mention of any future political plans, saying she intends to promote early childhood development, the rights of women and girls around the globe and economic development in her new role in her family's presidential foundation. In a nod to the sea of women wearing crimson and cream, the organization's colors, Clinton quipped that "in mathematics, delta means change. I think that's pretty fitting." But her speech emphasized the importance of voting rights for black Americans, who supported Barack Obama in large numbers during their Democratic primary campaign in 2008 and in his re-election last year. Black voters have long supported her husband, President Bill Clinton, and would be a key voting bloc if the former first lady sought the presidency in 2016. "I want to make sure that in the next election and the next election and the next and every one after that, people line up to vote and they vote regardless of those who may not want to count their vote or acknowledge their right to vote," Mrs. Clinton said. She cited her work with civil rights leader Dorothy Height, recalled attending a speech by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as a young woman and noted the work of the late Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, a prominent member of the sorority. Clinton said the issue of voting rights resonated after she attended a congressional hearing on the issue with Tubbs Jones in Cleveland following the 2004 elections. "The idea that in the 21st century African-Americans would wait in line to vote for 10 hours while whites in an affluent precinct next door waited just 10 minutes, or African-Americans would receive fliers telling the wrong time and wrong day to exercise their constitutional rights," Clinton said. "That is not the America we would expect or the America we would want for our children." Clinton opened her remarks by offering prayers for the family of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager who was killed last year, and "with every family who loves someone who is lost to violence." She said the week's developments brought "deep, painful heartache" to many Americans. "No mother, no father, should ever have to fear for their child walking down a street in the United States of America," Clinton said. It was her first public comments on the case since George Zimmerman's acquittal in the Martin case. The Justice Department has said it's considering whether federal prosecutors should file criminal civil rights charges after Zimmerman's acquittal. Obama met with members of the sorority in the Oval Office earlier in the day, including former Labor Secretary Alexis Herman and Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio.
Like the Muslim Brotherhood, Erdoğan's AK party has alienated opponents. Ennahda in Tunisia shows a way forward for democratic IslamistsEgypt's coup was not just a major shock for Mohamed Morsi, but also for the Middle East's most successful Islamist party: Turkey's AK party. When news of the Egyptian army's deposing of Morsi broke, Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, cut short his holiday on the Aegean coast and convened a crisis meeting of senior ministers. Over the following days Erdoğan strongly condemned the coup, calling it the "killer of democracy and the future" and referring to Egypt's "so-called administration". Why does the coup matter so much to Erdoğan's AK party? One problem is that the Egyptian coup upsets the AKP's vision of exporting its brand of populist democratic Islamism throughout the Middle East. The AKP saw the Islamist parties that were elected after the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt as following its lead, and cemented this connection with aid – including training and equipment for Tunisia's police and a $1bn loan to Egypt. Erdogan has cultivated an impressive profile in the Middle East, and now tweets in Arabic more often than in Turkish. Meanwhile, Morsi held up the AK party as the model for a democratising Arab world in his address to the party's congress last autumn. Erdogan's role as self-appointed mentor chimed with the AK party's "neo-Ottoman" approach to foreign policy that positioned Turkey as a regional power. The AKP also downplayed the scale of popular opposition to Morsi, and presented the coup as a plot hatched by the Egyptian generals. And it used the coup as a metaphor to discredit Turkey's Gezi Park protest movement. Some drew a direct connection: Hatam Ete of the pro-AKP thinktank SETA tweeted that "what was attempted in Turkey has succeeded in Egypt". Such conspiracy theories are the legacy of years of oppression of Turkish and Egyptian Islamists by the military-backed secular establishments. But the problem for the AKP and the Muslim Brotherhood is that their paranoid style is now losing its resonance outside their bases. The narrative of victimhood stopped attracting broad sympathy once they moved from persecuted opposition to power. The uncomfortable truth the AKP does not want to accept is that the massive protests that preceded the coup represented a broad-based rejection of Morsi's policies. It should acknowledge this fact, and recognise that it was not political Islam the protesters rejected. Although many of the individual protesters are hostile to political Islam, others are Islamists. Neither do the Gezi Park protesters want to exclude Islamism from Turkish politics. What both movements reject is an aggressive majoritarian understanding of democracy, according to which the election winner takes all and imposes his agenda on the rest of society. The protest movements, by contrast, insist that vibrant opposition is as important a part of democracy as an elected government. The protesters' key demand was to be taken seriously and listened to. The demonisation of opposition as the work of mysterious foreign forces, by both the AK party and the Muslim Brotherhood is therefore not just a misdiagnosis of the problem, it is the problem. Tunisia shows a different way forward for democratic Islamists. The Islamist Ennahda party, elected in Tunisia after the first revolution of the Arab spring, has also publicly opposed the Egyptian coup. But despite the similarity between Tunisia and Egypt, the coup is less threatening in Tunis than in Ankara. Some of Ennahda's opponents have formed a tamarod (rebel) campaign in imitation of Egypt's, but have had limited success. Unlike Morsi, Ennahda has not attempted to use a narrow poll victory to implement an aggressively partisan agenda, instead governing in coalition with two centre-left secular parties, Ettakatol and the Congress for the Republic. The relative success of Ennahda, despite potentially divisive disagreements over the place of Islam in the constitution, shows the value of this inclusive approach. The dismissal of opposition as unpatriotic, and the presentation of political struggle as a zero-sum conflict between Islamism and secularism, adopts the narratives of the old regimes in both Turkey and Egypt, but with the roles reversed. Political Islam remains a powerful political force with a large constituency. However, the large, legacy Islamist parties face trouble if they attempt to use their plurality of votes to steamroller opposition. A common thread running through not just the Arab revolutions but recent protest movements worldwide is the demand for a plural political sphere. If democratic-Islamist parties are to avoid alienating their opponents, they must respond to this.
http://www.globalpost.com/Setbacks to Afghanistan’s women’s rights are escalating, according to a Human Rights Watch statement released earlier today. The statement called for the country’s lower house of parliament to “reject a proposed criminal law revision that would effectively deny women legal protection from domestic violence.” A revised draft of the criminal procedure code is currently under consideration by Afghanistan’s parliament, the statement said, and the proposed language would ban relatives of the victim from testifying as a witness against the accused. If the draft law passes, article 26, entitled “Forbiddance of Questioning an Individual as a Witness,” would damage the ability to successfully prosecute cases of domestic violence, among other offenses. “Afghanistan’s lower house is proposing to protect the batterers of women and girls from criminal punishment,” said Brad Adams, Asia director for HRW. “Legislative approval of this criminal law revision would effectively stop prosecutions of people who beat, forcibly marry, and even sell their female relatives.” The amended procedure code, HRW said, would pose a serious threat to critical protections for women and girls embodied in Afghanistan’s 2009 Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW). The EVAW law “provides criminal penalties for various abuses including rape, child marriage, forced marriage, domestic violence, sale of women and girls, and baad, the giving of girls to resolve disputes between families.” HRW calls the ban just “another effort to further weaken the inadequate legal protections for women’s rights,” adding that members of parliament who are opposed to women’s rights have “increasingly sought to repeal or weaken the EVAW Law.” A RIGHTS report last month presented a discussion with Heather Barr, the Afghanistan researcher for Human Rights Watch, that expressed concern over the “slowly and unevenly” enforced law, which has nonetheless been an essential tool for combating violence against women. The interruptions in the implementation and development of the EVAW law, Barr said in June, are “ominous signs that women’s rights in Afghanistan face a dark future.” “The debate over the Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women was last month,” Barr said of a May deliberation. “And not only could they not get the law passed but they could not even have a debate about it because conservatives in the parliament were standing up and saying things like, ‘there shouldn’t be minimum age for girls to get married,’ and ‘rape shouldn’t be a crime because adultery is already a crime and rape is the same as adultery.’ So, people were making statements like this in the parliament, which is alarming enough, but there were also several cities throughout the country that were actually calling for the repeal of this law that criminalizes violence against women. So that was something that was really shocking.” The HRW report said that the new “legislative threat” is simply another indicator of a larger scale attack on women’s rights—an attack the Afghan government has contributed to—in which President Karzai has appointed a former Taliban government official, Abdul Rahman Hotak, to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. Hotak has publicly denounced the EVAW law, saying that it “violates Islam.” “It’s perverse that Afghanistan’s parliament is devoting its time and energies to attacking women’s hard-fought legal protections,” Adams said. “The international donors who bankroll the Afghan government should serve notice that they will not underwrite legislative initiatives to victimize women.” Afghanistan’s recent assurance to the UN that it is complying with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, Adams added, is just lip service intended to conceal the undermining of women’s rights by parliament and the courts.
PAKISTAN AMONG 27 COUNTRIES WITH POTENTIALLY AUTHORITARIAN REGIMES THAT WERE GRANTED EXPORTS LICENSES.
Over one billion dollars’ worth of heroin each year – that is the deadly fallout Pakistan gets from the blooming narcotics industry that provides the main cash crop in devastated Afghanistan. Locals say heroin is cheaper than food. It’s thought Pakistan has more than four million drug addicts, but less than 80 dedicated drug rehab clinics. As RT’s Lucy Kafanov reports from Karachi, those heroin addicts don’t even bother hiding their habit. For many this is a deadly path. Local young man Abdullah spent two weeks looking for his father, a heroin addict, eventually finding him in Karachi’s largest morgue. While help for drug addicts is in short supply, there is no shortage of heroin on the streets of Karachi. Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium – heroin’s main ingredient – and accounts for 90 per cent of the global supply. Roughly 40 per cent of it is smuggled through Pakistan. Opium production is up for the third year in a row, and predicted to grow more. When NATO leaves in 2014, there are fears the floodgates will open for the spread of the deadly harvest.
Pakistan's Human Rights Commission says murders and violent crimes have risen sharply in the country's biggest city, Karachi. A report released by the nongovernmental organization late on July 15 says more than 1,700 violent deaths were reported in the southern seaport city during the first six months of 2013. It points to June as the most violent month, with more than 300 killings. The commission recorded more than 1,200 murders last year and nearly 1,100 in 2011. The report says that in the first half of 2013, more than 700 members of various political parties were killed in apparent targeted assassination campaigns. Nearly 100 police officers were killed, and more than 100 corpses were discovered. Karachi, a city of more than 20 million people, is plagued by ethnic, sectarian, and gang violence.
Foreign Office Spokesperson on Wednesday hoped that the Indian government will explain its position and bring forth facts about the revelations made by a former Indian government official that New Delhi itself was behind the Mumbai and parliament attacks. On July 14, an Indian home ministry former officer disclosed that a member of the secret service team had accused incumbent governments of 'orchestrating' the terror attack on Parliament and the 26/11 carnage in Mumbai. The former Indian investigator Satish Verma revealed that India itself was behind Parliament in Delhi and Mumbai terror attacks. In an exlcusive interview with Radio Pakistan's current affairs channel‚ Foreign Office spokersperson Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry said authorities are reviewing the statement made by the former Indian official. When asked about the denial made by Teheek-e-Taliban Pakistan that it is not sending its fighters to Syria‚ the spokesperson said the concerned departments are looking into the matter and take necessary action if they noticed anything in this regard. He said non interference in the internal matters of other countries is the policy of Pakistan.
The Express TribuneHundreds of people from different cities of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa continued to protest on Tuesday against the government’s failure to curb power outages during Ramazan, as had been promised earlier. Peshawar Residents of Peshawar and adjacent areas have demanded the provincial government to take action against Wapda for carrying out load-shedding during Iftar, Sehri and Taraweeh timings despite the government’s orders to not do so. Residents of Chugalpura held a protest against Pesco and asked the Peshawar High Court chief justice to take notice of the outages and order relevant authorities to reduce load-shedding. Mardan
Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot in the head and neck by the Taliban last year for demanding education for girls, will be the subject of a documentary film, its producers said on Tuesday. Davis Guggenheim, who won an Oscar for the 2006 environmental documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," starring former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, will direct the yet-to-be-titled documentary that is slated to be released in late 2014. The film will follow Yousafzai as she campaigns for the right of children to education, said producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, who also produced the 2007 Afghan drama, "The Kite Runner."
Daily TimesThe tragedies — and bodies — just seem to keep piling up in the restive province of Balochistan, which is now undergoing a bloody crusade of sectarian cleansing. Again the Hazara Shias of Quetta have been victimised in a target killing in which four Hazaras have been killed and two passersby have been seriously injured. Gunmen on a motorcycle laden with sophisticated weapons carried out the crime and, as usual, fled the scene. It is deeply unsettling that we have reached a stage at which such news does not seem to be out of the ordinary and the Shia Hazaras have become just another bloodied statistic. No investigation is necessary to determine whether or not this was a crime of specific assassination but the culprits must be brought to justice for once. To do that, the situation in Balochistan has to change. The province of Balochistan is home to a raging nationalist insurgency, one that pits them against the paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC), which stands suspected of being behind the missing persons whose bodies are routinely found tortured and dumped in different places around the province. If this is indeed true, it seems the agendas of all those involved in Balochistan’s unrest are clashing, and with violent results. The crime of the missing persons coupled with the continuous targeting of Shia Hazaras — who have been routinely murdered by the militants of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in the hundreds in suicide bomb attacks and assassinations — have made Balochistan a cesspool of hate, murder and misery. There is an urgent need to tackle the biggest problem facing not just the province but the entire country: terrorism. The kind of terrorism one is witnessing in Balochistan is of the most dangerous kind in which a significant minority is being declared a legitimate target for killing. The army, the intelligence agencies and the paramilitary force must let go of whatever agenda they have in the province and work together on relieving Balochistan of the terrorist virus. There is a dire need for the police and the intelligence to work together to eliminate those who are targeting on the basis of belief otherwise there really will be no province, no country left worth fighting for. Without the combined efforts of all those who hold Balochistan dear, these terrorists, who are promoting savage sectarian murder, will win in the void that has been created in the province. That does not work in favour of anyone.
Hazara political parties have threatened a civil disobedience movement against the targeted killing of their community members, the latest episode of which saw four Hazaras being shot dead on Monday evening. A complete shutter down strike was observed on Tuesday in parts of the provincial capital against Monday’s killings on Masjid road. All major shops and markets remained closed on Toghi Road, Abdul Sattar Road, Alamdar Road, MecChongi road and their adjoining areas. Political leaders of the Hazara community have held state institutions responsible for the attack. At the Quetta Press Club, chiefs of the various Hazara political and rights groups gathered to address a press conference including Hazara Political Workers’ chief Muhammad Tahir Khan Hazara, Hazara Jirga chief Qayyum Chengaizi, president of the Shia Conference Daud Agha and Member Provincial Assembly Agha Muhammad. They demanded an immediate halt to the targeted killing of Hazara youngsters. “If this series does not stop, we will jam the entire city with other sympathising parties,” they said, adding that the killers of the four persons on Masjid Road were also also responsible for the killing of three at Khud-e-Dad Chowk. They said that the attacks had been carried out as part of a conspiracy to promote sectarian violence in the city. The Hazara leaders said that they were out of ideas for where they could go to secure their constitutional and human rights, adding that thousands of Hazara youngsters have been killed during the past few years. “State institutions are directly involved in our massacre,” they alleged and added that instead of providing them protection, Hazaras were being pushed against the wall. With the stores closed, the streets appeared barren. Stringent measures of security were adopted by the government and law enforcement agencies including police, Frontier Corps (FC) and the Anti Terrorist Force patrolled the area. Shutter-down strike observed against Quetta killings: A complete shutter down was observed on Tuesday in Quetta on the call of Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) to protest Monday’s killings of four Hazara community men in an attack on Masjid road Strict security measures were adopted to maintain law and order and avoid untoward incidents in the provincial capital. At least seven people, including four members of the Shia Hazara community, were shot dead Monday in separate incidents of violence in Quetta. Gunmen opened fire at a vehicle in Quetta, killing four men belonging to the ethnic Shia Hazara community. In a separate incident later at night, gunmen on a motorcycle shot dead three and injured another person in the city’s Khudaidad Chowk area. Later, gunmen opened fire at a cold drink shop in Khudaidad Chowk area, seriously injuring five people. The wounded were rushed to Civil Hospital, however, three of them succumbed to their injuries on their way. Dozens of angry protesters blocked Jinnah Road outside Civil Hospital to protest the killings. They chanted slogans against the administration and demanded the arrests of the killers. Later, the Hazara Democratic Party and other organisations called for three days of mourning and a shutter-down strike to protest against the killings. On the other hand, law enforcement agencies have arrested two suspected terrorists from Kachlak area.
The Baloch HalOn July 14th, the Balochistan National Party (B.N.P.) remembered its assassinated secretary general and former member of the Pakistani Senate, Habib Jalib Baloch. Mr. Baloch was a Supreme Court lawyer and a prominent scholar on Baloch nationalism. He had formerly served as the chairman of the Baloch Students Organization (B.S.O.), a platform from where he had initiated his political career. Mr. Baloch was shot dead on July 14th, 2010 in Quetta city. The motives behind his killing are still unclear while the B.N.P. blames the Pakistani security establishment for plotting his murder as it has also raised fingers on the government for the killing of many other leaders and activists, including some members of the party’s Central Committee. While remembering Mr. Baloch, the B.N.P. pledged to continue his mission. What was Mr. Baloch’s mission and how can it be accomplished? Mr. Baloch was indeed one of the finest of the Baloch nationalist leaders. He was educated in the erstwhile Soviet Union and was among the highly educated breed of the Baloch nationalist leaders. He spent his entire life in activism and struggled to highlight the plight of the Baloch people. He elegantly presented Balochistan’s case on various platforms, ranging from conferences to television talk shows. He was an ardent champion of democracy and human rights. As a lawyer, he freely fought the cases of the missing Baloch persons while always led peaceful protest rallies of the B.N.P. Mr. Baloch, during the last days of his life, had become a supporter of Balochistan’s right to self-determination as he believed a mere call for provincial autonomy while living within the federation of Pakistan was insufficient. He believed in peaceful, democratic struggle for the attainment of the Baloch rights and did not endorse the use of violence for the achievement of oppressed people’s rights. During General Musharraf’s martial law, Mr. Baloch was also detained on a number of occasions. Firstly, he was held when Musharraf ordered the disruption of B.N.P.’s Lashkar-e-Balochistan long march. Later on, he was imprisoned for anti-emergency protests that condemned the detention of lawyers on the instructions of General Musharraf. Mr. Baloch belonged to a middle-class Baloch family and he had reached the top level of nationalist politics by the virtue of his own consistent hard work, commitment and engagement with the idea of Baloch nationalism. He was a fine self-made man who often inspired audiences with his cogent arguments and academic discussions. In Baloch nationalist history, very few people without a major tribal background have managed to reach the top. Many of Mr. Baloch’s contemporaries belonging to the middle class, such as late Raziq Bugti, either gave up or joined the government. He was among the few who neither belonged to a tribal family nor gave up his affiliation with the nationalist movement. He started as a Baloch nationalist during his studentship time and died as a nationalist at such a hard time that most key Baloch leaders, including those from his own party, had fled the country fearing assassination or arrest. Mr. Baloch held a unique position in Baloch politics and no one among all schools of thought in the Baloch politics could replace him. In a nutshell, the Baloch nationalist movement has not been able to produce qualified leaders like Mr. Baloch since he was forced to depart from this world. Most of nationalist leaders today lack Mr. Baloch’s acumen, understanding of the very philosophy of Baloch nationalism and its history. They have landed on leadership positions because someone in their families was a ‘nationalist’ at one point of time in the history. Mr. Baloch did not inherit his position from anyone in his family. He worked hard to achieve it. If the B.N.P. is truly committed to accomplishing Mr. Baloch’s goal, it should encourage and promote academic discussions and study circles among the young Baloch political activists. The Baloch nationalists desperately need qualified young men and women who should not only learn their own lessons of nationalism but also grasp proper understanding of global politics, contemporary challenges and political strategies. In his lifetime, Mr. Baloch guided a full generation of young activists and introduced them with the true essence of nationalism. Now, it is the time to emulate his practices.