Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Child-rights icon Malala Yousafzai has called on conspiracy theorists and critics in Pakistan to think about her message before condemning her. In an exclusive interview with RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal correspondent Abdul Hai Kakar, Malala says her intentions in promoting the rights of girls and women are pure. RFE/RL: In Pakistan, some people claim that you did not write the blog for BBC Urdu that brought you into the limelight. How would you respond to such assertions? Malala Yousafzai: The month of January in 2009 was the most dangerous of times in Swat. Every night the Taliban used to slaughter two or three people in Green Square in the center of Mingora. One day that month, my father told me that a BBC journalist was requesting a blog by one of our students. He asked me, 'Would you like to do it?' I told him, "Sure, I will do it because it is a good opportunity for us to tell the world what the people of Swat -- the children and, specifically, the girls here -- think." I was very happy and told my father that I would write the blog or would just dictate it over the phone. RFE/RL: Some Pakistanis believe and publically say that you were not shot by the Taliban and you just made it up. How do you feel when you hear such comments? Malala: People who say such things can be forgiven. There is extreme hopelessness in our country and people are even disappointed with politicians. The important thing to note is that it is not important whether Malala was shot or not -- Malala is not asking for personal favors or support. She is asking for support with girls' education and women's rights. So don't support Malala, support her campaign for girls' education and women's rights. RFE/RL: Some of your critics say that Malala is not true to her cause but has merely turned into a brand. How do you respond to such criticism? Malala: People say Malala's voice is being sold to the world. But I see it as Malala's voice reaching the world and resonating globally. You should think about what is behind Malala's voice. What is she saying? I am only talking about education, women's rights, and peace. I want poverty to end in tomorrow's Pakistan. I want every girl in Pakistan to go to school. RFE/RL: Some clerics in Pakistan say that you are being manipulated by the West for their own objectives, and that your rise is part of a conspiracy against the country. Do you see any merit in such allegations? Malala: Any talk of me engaging in a conspiracy against Pakistan is completely baseless. Pakistan is already in the midst of many conspiracies. The situation there has been deteriorating for a long time. We have not gone a day without hearing about a few people being shot in [the southern seaport city of] Karachi. We have not gone a day without people being murdered. I want people to remember that Pakistan is my country. It is like my mother and I love it dearly. Even if its people hate me, I will still love it. RFE/RL: So you are not being used by the West? Malala: In countries other than Pakistan -- I won't necessarily call them "Western" -- people support me. This is because people there respect others. They don't do this because I am a Pashtun or a Punjabi, a Pakistani, or an Iranian, they do it because of one's words and character. This is why I am being respected and supported there. RFE/RL: After your speech to the United Nations some people in Pakistan said you were trying to please everyone... Malala: I don't agree with my speech being seen as an effort to please someone. I wanted it to be seen as what I stand for. I thought that after recovering from the attack people everywhere wanted to hear what I had to say. They wanted to know whether I was intimidated by the attack. They wanted to know whether I still wanted to take my campaign for girls' education forward. I used the speech to spread the message that Malala is undeterred and that she is determined to take her campaign for girls' education forward. RFE/RL: Adnan Rashid, a Pakistani Taliban commander, recently wrote an open letter to you. He alleged that your campaign was not aimed at promoting education and was really targeted against the Taliban. How would you respond to him? Malala: It was his right to express his views. I think I have a right to live my life the way I like. I did not engage in propaganda against the Taliban, I only spoke about girls' right to education, and the Taliban had banned girls from going to school. So I am against some of the things that the Taliban has done and advocates. No doubt I am against banning children from education. I stand for every girl to be able to go to school.
Army chief General Bikram Singh on Tuesday sought to reject the perception that the Keran incident was on the pattern of Kargil intrusion of 1999, saying it was just an infiltration bid by terrorists but suggested the complicity of Pakistan Army in the episode. He insisted that terrorists were not occupying any higher ground but sitting in a "nallah" (rivulet) near the Line of Control in Kashmir valley. "It was a desperate infiltration bid, which has been foiled," Gen Singh told reporters in Ghaziabad on the sidelines of the Air Force Day parade.He was asked about the incident in Keran in Kashmir where the Army was engaged for the last 15 days with a group of 35-40 militants about 300-400 metres inside Indian territory having a supply-line to Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir, an incident which reminded about the Kargil intrusion of 1999 when Indian posts were occupied. "A large number of (TV) channels have talked about this being an intrusion. It is not. If this was intrusion, the adversary would go and occupy dominating ground which is defensible," he said. Seeking to downplay the incident, he said, "In this case, they were sitting in a nallah. Which adversary is going to dominate an area by sitting in the nallah?" At the same time, he suggested the complicity of Pakistan Army. "On the LoC, we are in eyeball-to-eyeball situation. It is impossible for the terrorists to do any activity without Pakistan Army's knowledge. There is no way that they can operate there without Pakistan Army... I am clear that no terror activity can take place along the LoC without Pakistan Army support," he told Times Now. Asked about evidence in this regard, the Army Chief said the terrorists were provided cover fire to infiltrate in Keran from Pakistani posts. The Army chief said that seven of the terrorists involved in the Keran sector had apparently pulled out from there and tried to infiltrate from other areas into Kashmir valley but were gunned down by the security forces. IAF Chief NAK Browne was also asked by reporters whether the Keran incident reminded him of the Kargil intrusion. "Instead of saying that this is Kargil-type situation, nobody is coming or nobody is ocupying anything. Be rest assured. The Army jawans are well trained and have adequate fire power," he replied. "Because of the terrain and the situation there we do not want to expose our boys. The good part is that we have not lost any of our boys," Browne said. Asked why the Army troops have not been able to recapture the positions held by the Pakistanis, he said, "Let us not hype the situation. There is a word called 'savlanuth' in Hebrew. The meaning of that word is patience." See more at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NewDelhi/Army-says-Keran-was-desperate-infiltration-bid/Article1-1132394.aspx#sthash.iY8Is3hb.dpuf
With the nomination process coming to an end just a day ago, maneuvering to give certain candidates a leg up in the spring elections has already begun. Atta Muhammad Noor, the Governor of Balkh province and a member of the Jamiat-e Islami Party, on Monday said that President Hamid Karzai offered the JIP money in hopes of recruiting their support for his favored Presidential candidate. "The leadership of Jamiat-e Islami Party has received several recommendations and offers; they offered us the post of First Vice and a blank check, but we did not accept. Let me be clear, even the President made an offer," Governor Noor said in an exclusive interview with TOLOnews. In the lead up to the April elections there has already been considerable speculation about the role President Karzai will play. While many have been quick to cast suspicion about vote-rigging and favoritism, especially with the President's brother Qayum Karzai already registered for the race, Karzai and his supporters have been loud and clear in denouncing such claims and assuring that he plans to play a transparent and largely hands-off role in the election of his successor. Noor said that President Karzai's camp did not specify an individual candidate, but rather recommended several candidates to Jamiat, including Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, Dr. Zalmai Rassoul and Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf. "President Karzai had recommendations, but there was no conclusive choice. At times, they were talking about Ashraf Ghani, later Abdurrab Rasoul Sayyaf and then Zalmai Rasoul," Noor said. "We did not accept the recommendation, because there was no unanimity, so we could not come to an agreement." Meanwhile, on Monday, the President spoke in a press conference about non-interference in the lead up to the spring elections. He said he would be doing all he could to make sure foreign powers, as well as members of the current government in Kabul, do not meddle with the elections. He said that while he and his vice presidents would excercise their right to vote come April 5, government resources would not go to any particular candidate. "I will probably vote for a candidate on Election Day, Khalili and Marshal Fahim will also cast their ballots according to their own desire, we have the right to cast our ballots. But I will not allow government resources to be used for specific candidates," Karzai said. If Noor's account is accurate, however, it would appear the President does in fact intend to rally what clout and resources he can behind a preferred candidate, or a handful of favorites, for the spring Presidential elections. Whether or not the funds offered to Jamiat were going to come from Karzai's personal wealth, which is quite considerable, or government funds is unknown. For now, Jamiat is still not publically tied to any specific candidate. But as one of the oldest and most powerful parties in Afghanistan, Jamiat's endorsement would likely put whoever they do decided to support on the shortlist of top competitors. Two prominent Jamiat names have declared independence from the Party ahead of elections: Ismail Khan agreed to be the First Vice-President of Abdurrab Rasoul Sayyaf and Ahmad Zia Massoud the First Vice-President of Dr. Zalmai Rasoul. Nevertheless, Afghan political experts have said that Jamiat is still looking to have a major role in influencing the outcome of the elections. With a troubled recent history of voter fraud and other election improprieties in Afghanistan, holding a free, fair and transparent vote this spring is one of the biggest challenges facing the country. While political maneuvering and campaign finance issues are common in elections around the world, in both developed and developing democracies, Governor Noor's insights into President Karzai's dealings behind the scenes with the Jamiat do not bode well.
Afghan president Hamid Karzai on Monday criticized the NATO mission in Afghanistan and said the alliance has brought much death and misery to Afghanistan. President Karzai said little security was achieved in Afghanistan due to 12-year Western war efforts. “On the security front the entire Nato exercise was one that caused Afghanistan a lot of suffering, a lot of loss of life, and no gains because the country is not secure,” Mr Karzai told the BBC. Karzai criticized NATO for conducting operations to eliminate militants in Afghan villages which often led to civilian casualties, but no focus was made on Taliban sanctuaries in neighboring Pakistan. “I am not happy to say that there is partial security. That’s not what we are seeking. What we wanted was absolute security and a clear-cut war against terrorism,” he said. President Karzai also pointed towards a power-sharing government with the Taliban and said this is his top priority to ensure peace and security across the country, and the Afghan government is actively in talks with the Taliban group. However, he insisted that if Taliban want to be elected by Afghan people to run the country then they should participate in the elections. President Karzai also ensured that the return of the Taliban group will not sacrifice the tenuous gains on the status of women. “The return of the Taliban will not undermine progress. This country needs to have peace. I am willing to stand for anything that will bring peace to Afghanistan and through that to promote the cause of the Afghan women better,” he said.
Monday was the 12th anniversary of the beginning of the United States's war in Afghanistan. Very few people noticed. It was on October 7, 2001, not even a month after 9/11 attacks, that the first bombs were dropped, launching an overseas endeavor that America is still trying to remove itself from. When the President decided to ask Congress for permission to strike Syria this year, the American people spoke up. The country was "war weary," some said. The administration promised there would be no "boots on the ground" in Syria, only coordinated air strikes against Bashar al-Assad's army. Still, the people did not want to drag the U.S. into another prolonged conflict. Time was still needed to heal after the deep financial, physical and emotional costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Huffington Post looked at the numbers inflicted by Afghanistan alone: In the past 12 years, at least 2,146 members of the U.S. military have died while serving in Afghanistan. This figure includes four American soldiers who were killed by an IED explosion in the south of the country on Sunday. A recent study found that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will end up costing taxpayers between $4 trillion to $6 trillion. Unsurprisingly, most Americans think their tax dollars have been wasted. The war should be over soon. The President pledged to pull all troops out of the country by 2014. Over the weekend he said some troops may be left behind to train Afghan security forces to ensure terrorism doesn't rise in the country again, but first we need to reach an important deal with Afghanistan's government. Today, Afghan president Hamid Karzai criticized NATO's presence in his country, signalling that the quest for a peaceful partnership is still a long way off. For these reasons, The Atlantic's Stephanie Gaskell argued today, the last year in Afghanistan may be the war's most important one: This final year of the war in Afghanistan will be the most crucial. A bilateral security agreement between Washington and Kabul needs to be reached to allow some U.S. and NATO troops to stay behind, training the Afghan army and police and conducting targeted counterterrorism operations. And a presidential election set for April 5 will decide who replaces the iconic Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s strongman since 2002. All while bringing about half of the more than 50,000 U.S. troops home by February. "There is a bloody war happening, and no one is talking about it," Ahmad Majidyar, an Afghanistan expert at the American Enterprise Institute and adviser to the U.S. Army, told Stars and Stripes on Monday. Indeed, other experts agree the war has been almost completely left behind, even as anti-American violence has continued and the allies are forced to negotiate with their former enemy, the Taliban. The harsh truth is that American attention has been diverted elsewhere. "Afghanistan was truly a forgotten war (when) Obama took over and it became it again after the surge was over," said George Mason University professor A. Trevor Thrall. Whether or not we continue forgetting about Afghanistan (and the lessons it could teach us) after the majority of American troops are withdrawn may ultimately determine the war's final tainted legacy.
Unidentified accused kidnapped ten people from Matni area of Peshawar, Geo News reported. Police said unknown men stopped three Kohat-bound vehicles in Matni and took 10 people with them. They let go three women. Police have registered a case and started their search. Police said the abductees hail from Bili Tang, Kohat. - See more at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-121536-Peshawar:-10-people-abducted-from-Matni#sthash.dv5ke83n.dpuf
Ahmadiyya TimesComing on the heels of a terrorist attack by militant Islamists on a Christian Church in Peshawar, Pakistan, intelligence agencies of the country have discovered additional terror plots to target Ahmadiyya mosques and prayer centers, it has been reported. According to Roznama Dunya, an Urdu daily of Pakistan, police and security agencies have been warned of possible impending attacks. According to the Interior Ministry of the Punjab, the newspaper reported, a classified report provided the information about the attack plans on Ahmadi mosques and religious sites. The law enforcement and security agencies have been directed to tighten the security arrangements of the possible targets, it was further reported.
ONE wonders how many more deaths and how much more destruction will it take to arouse our national leadership from its slumber. Neither the mutilated bodies of 18 members of a family killed in the recent Peshawar market bombing nor the carnage of Christian worshippers at the All Saints Church has shaken them yet. More than 200 people were killed in terrorist strikes in one week in Peshawar alone, but no one stirred beyond issuing routine messages of condolence. Instead, the prime minister appreciated the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan for not claiming responsibility for those attacks and blamed a ‘foreign hand’ for subverting peace talks. Ironically, days later a spokesman for the TTP justified the church attack saying it was in accordance with the Sharia, and was carried out by one of its subsidiaries. While militants continue with their macabre game of death, a spineless and frightened leadership keeps begging for Taliban mercy. Such a meek and apologetic response from the prime minister is in marked contrast to the tough resolve shown by leaders of other nations when confronted with terrorist threats. Take, for example, the comments of Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta after the four-day bloody siege at a shopping mall in Nairobi last month. “These cowards will meet justice, as will their accomplices and patrons, wherever they are,” vowed Mr Kenyatta who himself oversaw the operation against the attackers. “I promise that we shall have full accountability for the mindless destruction, death, pain, loss and suffering we all have undergone as a national family,” he declared. Meanwhile, David Cameron, the British prime minister, rushed back home cutting short his official foreign visit because there were several British nationals among the hostages in the Nairobi mall. But the blood of poor Pakistanis comes cheap. It certainly does not matter to our rulers even when hundreds of Pakistanis are slaughtered. As the death toll of the church attacks was being calculated, Imran Khan went one step further in placating the militants by suggesting that the TTP be allowed to open an office. He ignored the fact that the militant network is outlawed and allowing it to operate openly would legitimise terrorism. When a bus full of provincial government employees was blown up, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief was calling for taking confidence-building measures to create a “conducive environment” for peace talks with the Taliban. His defence of the TTP has become more vociferous with each bloodbath. In an article published recently in a national daily, Imran Khan equated the presence of the troops in KP and Fata to military action in former East Pakistan and the TTP to the Viet Cong who fought against the US forces in Vietnam. Such assertions cannot be dismissed as mere naivety; they are a reflection of a twisted mindset. While our leaders were commending the TTP for distancing itself from the last two major terrorist strikes in Peshawar, the group released a gruesome videotape of the explosion in Dir that killed Maj-Gen Sanaullah Niazi along with two others. It declared the killing of the officers as a great victory in the war against Pakistani forces. Even that blatant claim by the TTP of the attack on Pakistani forces did not move the federal and KP governments. Nothing can derail peace efforts was the response of the PTI and PML-N leaders. It has been a month since the all-party conference mandated the federal government to initiate peace negotiations with the Taliban. But there has not been any success yet in getting the militants to the negotiating table. The reason is obvious. The three preconditions set by the TTP — the release of detained militants, withdrawal of troops from the tribal areas and a halt to US drone attacks — are hard to comply with. The prevailing ambivalence has already begun to cost the nation dearly. It is apparent that the peace talks with the militants are a non- starter. But the government is still stuck to the mantra that talks are the only option. This dithering has already given a new lifeline to the Taliban who were on the retreat from most of the tribal agencies and Malakand, which they once controlled. The TTP lost many of its senior commanders like Waliur Rehman and the network was fragmented into various factions. But now, the militants have found a new stridency, taking advantage of the weakness of the state. So fearful is the government that it has put on hold the execution of three convicted militants including the mastermind of the 2009 GHQ attack after threats from the Taliban. Not only has the state failed to protect the lives of its citizens, it has also conceded to the extremist ideology on many policy issues. It is a disturbing reality that radical Islamic elements have as much if not more power over Pakistani society than the state. While the state has failed to develop a national narrative against militancy, an obscurantist ideology holds sway. With the growing violence against religious minorities, vigilantism seems to have become an acceptable norm. The country has now become hostage to non-state actors forcing their way in through the barrel of the gun. The authority of the state seems to have all but collapsed. It is not surprising that the courts free more than 90pc of militants allegedly involved in terrorism due to ‘lack of evidence’. It is mainly because the judges and witnesses are threatened and do not want to put their own and their family’s lives at risk when they know the state cannot protect them. A culture of fear grips the nation as the state has abdicated all responsibility, leaving the people at the mercy of the terrorists. It gives the people little faith when their political leaders surrender to the militant narrative.