Nearly twice as many youngsters facing financial difficulties compared to average for European countriesThe number of Israelis at risk of poverty has gone up in the last decade and is nearly twice the average in the European Union, figures released Wednesday show.Details from the “Society in Israel Report No. 6,” published by the National Central Bureau of Statistics, showed that an increasing number of Israelis are failing to make ends meet.According to the report, 31 percent of the population in 2011 was in danger of poverty, compared to 17% in the European Union. For the purposes of the report, risk of poverty was defined as when each member of a household is supported on less than 60% of the average financial resources available to the rest of the population. Among Israeli single-parent households with dependent children, 44% were facing poverty compared to 41% in 2001. In Europe, the numbers stood at 35% in 2011 and 32% in 2001. Luxembourg was found to be worst of all with 46%. The number of children at risk of poverty in Israel was twice that in Europe in 2011, with 40% for the former compared to just 20% for the latter. Seventy-four percent of Israelis between the ages of 25 and 64 were employed in 2012, compared to a 71% average among the other 33 countries that, along with Israel, are members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Israel lagged in higher education, with the percentage who obtained a first and second degree at 36% compared to 39% for OECD countries in 2011. Poland scored highest with 58% and Turkey and Mexico were at the bottom, with 23% and 21% respectively. On the bright side, traffic accidents have shown a steady drop and Israel was among the 10 least deadly countries in this regard. The number of deaths per billion kilometers of road travel was seven in 2010, down from 13 in 2000. Britain had the lowest number of car fatalities, with four deaths per billion kilometers traveled. The full report on Israeli society is due to be published on Thursday.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
October 17th witnesses the deadline on US debt but there are still no signs that Republicans and Democrats will make a compromise. Therefore the rest of the world can only draw confidence from the perception that US political games would work out at the last moment based on past experience. However, suspicion is on the rise this time because the White House shutdown will probably continue to exert gloomy influence in the foreseeable future, even if the two parties reach an agreement in the end. The Xinhua News Agency published a comment calling for the international community to consider "de-Americanization" a few days ago, arousing high alert among US public opinion. However, Americans can not blame Xinhua for its remarks since the unrelibility of the US has been prompting other countries to ponder how to escape its negative impact. Republicans and Democrats are putting on "a democratic show" to the whole world like dancing on a wire rope. But other nations are still able to sense something wrong in the inter-party feuds within Washington as the deadlock over Obamacare has already exposed profound defects in US institutions. What's more, the once powerful nation, which now sees declining wealth-creating capacity, ushers in a period of "multiple contradictions" that its reputedly strong politics can hardly rein in. Once a default occurs on the US national debt, China will be in the forefront as its biggest creditor and suffer far more losses if the White House makes the default a long-term conundrum. Nevertheless, the US government is undergoing more losses than China, at least for now, since its credit will be stricken in a catastrophic way throughout the world. As a consequence, it will have to increase its financing cost drastically with descending political appeal. If Washington is stable in both politics and economy, a default will never take place and the rest of the world will not show any concern. If the US is indeed not able to pay off the debt due to various reasons, the political fighting in Washington would be a clear signal that the US is heading toward collapse. Americans are supposed to take the comment on "de-Americanization" as an alarm bell. They must note that the US has gradually been falling out of its position as a "superpower" by being opportunistic and greedy. An increasing number of countries in the world have shown discontent and even boredom toward it. While preserving the right to avoid being affected by the US debt crisis, China hopes that Washington will make positive contribution to the renewed world order in the 21st century as a healthy superpower. Whether Republicans and Democrats can reach a compromise, which is key to the world at large, is a highlight today. We are unwilling to see the bankruptcy in the US national credit.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Saeed Shehabi, from the Bahrain Freedom Movement, about the security forces in Bahrain once again clashing with anti-regime protesters, who took to the streets across the country to denounce the Al Khalifa ruling family. What follows is an approximate transcription of the interview. Press TV: How do you view the persistence of the resistance of the Bahraini people and also the persistence of the Al Khalifa regime in carrying out its crackdown on these demonstrations? Shehabi: Thank you very much and of course my greetings on the Eid of Haj, of pilgrimage, Eid al-Adha to everybody, to all Muslims and especially to the people of Bahrain who were mourning the end of the ceremony to bury the latest martyr Yusef al-Nashmi. Now what has amazed me over the past two and a half years is the fact that the Bahrainis have been persistent in their daily protests, in their daily demonstrations and as we just heard from your video clip, people are just shouting without fear, down with Hamad, down with Hamad and so on. So this shows that the people are determined to get a political change in their country. They do not want to sit back and wait for the Americans or for the West to change the situation. They will change the situation themselves. The only thing they are asking the West to do is not to side, not to support, not to continue giving military and security support to this defunct regime. So what I see is there is on one hand the determination of the people to continue their struggle, on the other hand the continuation of the regime to suppress, to maim, to attack, to detain, to try the Bahrainis and torture them. Press TV: How come Western countries, some Western countries and their major media outlets aren't giving the uprising and the crackdown in Bahrain more proper and adequate attention and coverage? Shehabi: This is really perplexing because on one hand you can see that the human rights bodies such as Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch are giving importance, significance to the situation in Bahrain. They are issuing statements, urgent actions against the Al Khalifa regime. On the other hand there is a total blackout in the Western media on what is going on in Bahrain. Imagine a revolution that has been going on for thirty months, that has been protesting everyday without any stop, either it is Eid, either it is a religious festival or a martyrdom or it is hot or cold, the march has continued. Yet this media which is supposed to cover the world events, is ignoring purposely this revolution. This is something that cannot be excused or understood. I believe that there is hidden agenda with this media which is totally and continuously ignoring the plight of the Bahrainis while concentrating on other places of interest to them. I believe that what we have learned over the past two years is that unless the people depend on themselves neither the West nor anyone else is going to help them. This is why the people are ready to sacrifice, are ready to protest, are ready to go and to pour into the streets on daily basis in their hundreds, thousands to change their situation. I believe the end will be near because there is no room for dictatorship even if it is supported by America or by Britain, there needs to be a serious change and that change will be coming soon Inshallah (God willing).
U.S. Senate leaders struck a bipartisan 11th-hour deal to break the fiscal impasse on Wednesday, and the Republican-led House of Representatives agreed to take it up as Congress moved to avert a historic debt default. With the government's borrowing authority set to run out on Thursday, aides said House Speaker John Boehner would allow the deeply divided House to vote on the Senate plan for a short-term increase in the debt limit and a reopening of government, which was expected to pass with mostly Democratic votes. The timing of the House and Senate votes is unclear. The deal would extend U.S. borrowing authority until February 7, although the Treasury Department would have tools to temporarily extend its borrowing capacity beyond that date if Congress failed to act early next year. The agreement also would fund government agencies until January 15, ending a partial government shutdown that began with the new fiscal year on October 1. The moves were a bruising political defeat for Republican conservatives who had demanded changes to President Barack Obama's healthcare law before they would agree to fund the government. It was unclear if Boehner's leadership position will be at risk in the political fallout, but opinion polls show Republicans have taken a political beating in the showdown as they head into next year's congressional elections. "The deal we've got, you know the old saying 'we may have left a little bit on the table?' We left everything on the table," Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said. "This has been a very bad two weeks for the Republican brand, conservatism." Asked by reporters if the fight for deficit reduction and changes to the healthcare law was over for now: "That appears to be where we are headed," Republican Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio said. It remained to be seen if the House and Senate could pass the deal before Thursday, when the U.S. Treasury has said it will hit a $16.7 trillion borrowing limit. The government will have enough cash on hand to meet its financial obligations for a few more days, but officials have warned that an economically devastating default could quickly follow. The deal between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican leader Mitch McConnell gives Obama what he had demanded for months: A straightforward debt limit hike and government funding bill. The extension is shorter than the one year Obama had asked for, however, and promises another budget fight in a few months. The deal includes some income verification procedures for those seeking subsidies under the healthcare law, but Republicans surrendered on their attempts to include other changes, including the elimination of a medical device tax used to help pay for it. "This is not a time for pointing fingers and blame. This is a time for reconciliation," Reid said on the Senate floor in announcing the deal. McConnell and Reid said the agreement will give both parties time to try to negotiate a long-range budget agreement, although they acknowledged that has been hard to achieve. The Senate leaders were exploring ways to speed the legislation through their chamber, which often can get bogged down for days with procedural hurdles. Republican Tea Party firebrands, such as Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, have tried to delay passage of a government funding bill as they demanded changes to Obama's signature healthcare law in return. But Cruz said on Wednesday he would not delay passage of the bipartisan deal, although he bitterly criticized it. "Unfortunately, once again it appears the Washington establishment has refused to listen to the American people," Cruz told reporters. The budget deadlock led to federal agency shutdowns as Obama and his fellow Democrats stood firm against changing the healthcare law. Republican Representative Sean Duffy of Wisconsin said most House conservatives would likely reject the Senate's plan, but "more than likely it'll pass," he told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Wednesday.
http://www.mashaalradio.com/د خيبر پښتونخوا د قانون او پارليماني چارو وزير اسرارالله ګنډاپور نن په يو ځانمرګي بريد کې ووژل شو. د خيبر پښتونخوا د قانون او پارليماني چارو وزير اسرارالله ګنډاپور نن په يو ځانمرګي بريد کې ووژل شو. د چارواکو په وينا اول د لوی اختر په لومړۍ ورځ (چارشنبه يا شورو) په ډيره اسماعيل خان کې د هغه د کور مخې ته ډزې شوي او بيا ځانمرګي بريدکوونکي په ځان پورې چاوديدونکي مواد چولي چې په نتيجه کې يې د اسرار الله ګنډاپور تر څنګ اوه نور کسان هم وژلي. د پوليسو په وينا پيښه کې ديرش کسان زخميان شوي هم دي او چارواکي وايي د وژل شوو او مړو شوو په شمېره کې زياتوالی امکان لري. اسرارالله ګنډاپور د خيبر پښتونخوا حکمران ګوند تحريک انصاف غړی وو. د دې خبر تر ليکلو پوې کومې وسله والې ډلې د دې بريد پړه پر غاړه نه ده اخيست
An explosion has taken place at the house of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Israrullah Gandapur, killed the minister among eight people and injured 10 others, Express News reported. The attack reportedly took place when the minister was meeting visitors at his traditional village in Kulachi, which is located 45 kilometers from Dera Ismail Khan. Gandapur had been elected during the May elections from PK-67 D.I. KHAN-IV as an Independent but he later joined the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. Express News correspondent Ramzan Seemab reported that Gandapur’s brother, Ikramullah Gandapur was also injured in the attack. Police suspect a suicide blast targetted Gandapur.
http://www.rferl.org/Czech President Milos Zeman says his government is negotiating the release of two Czech women kidnapped in Pakistan in March. Zeman said on October 16 he had written to the Pakistani president asking him to pay special attention to the case. The Czech Foreign Ministry has declined comment. Antonie Chrastecka and Hana Humpalova, who are both 24, were seized in March while travelling by microbus through Pakistan's southwestern province of Balochistan near the Afghan border, en route to India. No one has claimed responsibility. A video emerged in June showing the two demanding the release of Pakistani national Aafia Siddiqui from a U.S. prison. Siddiqui, a neuroscientist, was given an 86-year sentence by a U.S. court in 2010 for shooting at FBI agents and soldiers in Afghanistan.
At least 2 persons were killed during an explosion in Swat on Wednesday - ARY News reports. According to sources, the blast occured near a vehicle in the area of Mian Shaikh Baba. The explosion was carried out by a remote control. Security officials sealed the area after the explosion.
Greetings from an ancient admirer, a long-time fan and a member of the species you call ‘liberal scum.’ Back in 1992 when you led the Pakistan cricket team to its first World Cup victory and made that narcissistic speech after the final, I used to work as a reporter and feature-writer for a local English weekly. While most of the country’s press was wagging its collective finger at you for being selfish and arrogant, I defended you in a series of articles, in spite of the fact that (eventually) you were brave enough to admit that you made a mistake in taking all the credit for the victory as your team mates stood there, scratching their heads and maybe waving at you to remind you of their existence. ‘Hey, skipper, remember us!’ Being a fan, I was extremely excited when (in the mid-1990s) you decided to join politics and form your own party – even though I must admit, I was kind of apprehensive when I saw you hanging out with General (R) Hamid Gul. I know that liberal scumbags criminally undermine General Gul’s role in wisely and prudently utilising the big American Dollar and the Saudi Riyal to deliver a crushing defeat to an atheistic superpower that was known to eat Muslim babies, but to fans like me, a dashing Khan just didn’t augur very well with a foaming, wrinkled Gul. I know I might be sounding a tad disrespectful of a hero like Gul, but time and history can be a cruel combination because the only Gul that really matters now is Umar Gul and he too, has lost form. But, alas, call it a mischievous itch, I did quite enjoy how you eventually ended up completely peeving Gul and leaving him in an existentialist lurch when you decided to marry a Caucasian British national whose father was a wealthy Jew. If ever there was a starker physical expression of irony, it manifested itself across Gul’s angry face when he heard the news. I remember him telling journalists how disappointed he was. The protégé had slipped away. I told my cynical friends that this act proved that Khan Saab was still the guy we cheered for across his cricketing career; the same guy we had thought was the most inspirational and intelligent thing ever to happen to the post of captaincy in Pakistan cricket. Some of my friends called me a fool when one day in 1997 I decided to donate half of my monthly salary to the cancer hospital you had set up in Lahore. They asked me, ‘have you heard him speak, lately?’ They didn’t like how you had started to sound: Like an angry, self-righteous reactionary, or, as one of my friends had put it, ‘like Hamid Gul on amphetamines!’ Humbug, I thought. What did that have to do with the cancer hospital, right? So off I went to the post office with my donation tucked inside an envelope, addressed to the administration of the hospital. I felt good. Incidentally, that same evening I picked up a copy of The Friday Times and was thrilled to see a full-page article on you. I cringed, gritted my teeth, clenched my fists and tried to look away but just couldn’t ignore some of the things that you had said in the quotes that the article had used. You went on and on about ‘servile brown sahibs’, ‘the drugged out, decadent and liberal youth culture of the West,’ the evilness and corruption of people like Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, the glory of faith and how you rediscovered it. I tried to understand you as being like most urban middle-class Pakistani men who, after spending a good part of their lives in the most flamboyant and colourful manner, suddenly ‘rediscover the wonders of faith’ the moment they hit middle-age. Fair enough, I thought, but what really bothered me was how instead of keeping such noble spiritual re-discoveries to themselves, they make it a point to exhibit it and flaunt it as a tool to judge other men. But you weren’t just another Pakistani. You were Imran Khan. And while I was reading that article also I kept wondering: What was a proud brown Pakistani like you doing behaving like a ‘servile brown sahib’ by marrying an opulent Caucasian Westerner? I mean, not that it ever bothered me, but couldn’t you have found a proud brown Pakistani woman? Even then, I didn’t really get your angry, dismissive dig at the decadent, druggie youth culture of the West. Weren’t you (and still are) great friends with rock star Mick Jagger and actor Peter O’Toole – two of the most prominent purveyors of exactly the kind of culture you were decrying? Did you tell them how decadent and disgusting their lifestyles were in the 1960s and 1970s? I’m sure you didn’t. But you had no qualms in telling us – the ones who live in a country where the only culture (since the late 1970s) that mushroomed was the one in which men were encouraged to use religion to meet cynical political ends and as a weapon against those they deemed to be ‘bad Muslims’ or downright infidels. You being my idol, I wondered who you were addressing. I believed in the same God as you did and shared the same faith. Yes, I wasn’t (and still am not) quite into the ritualistic bit of our faith (as you now are), but does that make me a lesser Muslim than you? And if you weren’t talking to people like me, then who? Ninety-eight per cent of Pakistanis are Muslim and ever since the 1980s, a majority of them love wearing their faith on their sleeves. But then I understood. And you helped me understand. And it happened only recently when I read your last book, ‘Pakistan: A Personal History.’ I didn’t agree with a lot of things you mediated upon in the book, but (as always) I admired your honesty – especially when you confessed that you had very little knowledge of what went on in Pakistani politics and society during the Ziaul Haq dictatorship in the 1980s. Well, as a busy cricketer you could escape the sight of public floggings, the midnight arrests, the myopia and the religious bigotry of the era, but most Pakistanis couldn’t. Many Pakistanis readjusted their spiritual and political dispositions to fit in the new paradigm of acceptance, whereas those who didn’t, suffered all kinds of hardships. It was fine to be naïve about such matters as a travelling sportsman (especially if one was as good as you were), but this naïveté (or the sudden, late realisation of certain disturbing moments of Pakistan’s history) can become a problem for a politician. Now, here you are, leading Pakistan’s third largest political party and basking in the admiration of thousands of young Pakistanis as an ideological icon but with perhaps only a superficial knowledge of your own country’s history. After reading your confessional book I just can’t help but wonder exactly how much do you really know about or comprehend the things you are so very vocal about: Faith, corruption, drone attacks, ‘Pushtun traditions,’ economy … Just like most Pakistanis, your grip on history is weak because in our country, half-truths and myths are taught as historical fact. After all, your ideological mentors, like General Gul and Jamat-i-Islami (JI) are the kind of folks who see the country and the world exactly through the kind of eyes that stare back at us every time we open the history books that are in circulation across Pakistan’s educational institutions. Have your sons ever gone through such a book? I don’t think so. They’ll grow up in the UK as wise lads, with an education that is designed to help students understand the world in a rational, creative and practical manner; they’ll never experience an education that was solely constructed to promote a myopic ideology. I was quite pleased when you talked about educational reforms before the 2013 election. I thought who else but the Mighty Khan can rid our text books of all that is designed to turn young minds into robotic, reactionary pulp. But I should have known. Why would you? I mean, this pulp is what one comes across if he or she even tries to rationally interact with your most ardent supporters in the social media. E=MC2 becomes E=@@$%$$#@&&^$#@! Have you ever heard them speak? Many of them make reactionaries of yore sound like soft-spoken underlings, and one is not sure whether he is interacting with an urbane middle-class young person or a rabid incoherent bigot. But your government in the KP did initiate those much talked-about education reforms. However, instead of going forward, your government decided to go backwards. Reverse swing, I guess? The last ruling party in KP, the ANP, had edited out certain verses on Jihad, believing that when taken out of context they would generate confusion and even make many young people misunderstand Islam. But, instead of at least gazing at your navel about this argument, you dismissed ANP’s manoeuvre as something done by a diabolic batch of corrupt and evil secularists, and gave a free hand to your education ministry to put those verses right back in. ‘These verses would clear the confusion about Jihad in young people’s minds,’ said the ministry. I’ve gone through those verses over and over again and they are put there without any context. So tell me, how is this act of your government any different than the act of extremists cherry-picking the same verses (out of context) to justify their violence against the state, government and people of Pakistan? Every Muslim Pakistani kid gets ample religious education at home, doesn’t he? And if you are so hell-bent on putting verses on Jihad in school text books, why not also put verses on tolerance and the pursuit of knowledge that run across the holy book are far simpler to comprehend by young minds than the more complex ones on Jihad? I’ve never called you ‘Taleban Khan.’ And I don’t plan to now. I am sure you truly believe that the war against extremist groups can be won through talks and dialogue. But, as you often say, it’s ‘not our war’, I have wondered on whose behalf would we be talking to the militants? It’s America’s war, right? So would we be talking on the behalf of the scheming Americans? Have they asked us to? And why should we? I’m kind of confused here. You say it’s not our war and yet it is Pakistani soldiers, cops and civilians dying in it, being killed by men who are also Pakistani. You do have an answer, though, and you keep repeating it: Those Pakistanis who are killing other Pakistanis are the guys whose families were hit by US drone strikes. In anger and desperation they have picked up arms. Okay, but against whom have these victims of American brutality picked up arms? Against unarmed people praying in mosques, shrines and churches? Against women and children in markets? Against the Pakistan army and police? Against teenaged school girls? Oh, of course, this is so because we as a nation are fighting America’s war. Let’s say that we were, but over the years, hasn’t it become squarely our own war? Over 50,000 Pakistanis killed since 2002. They’d have to be living in Guatemala for anyone to say that this doesn’t make it Pakistan’s war. However, you are right to ask that if the US is willing to hold talks with extremists in Afghanistan, why the Pakistanis shouldn’t be allowed to do the same with those haunting the mountains, caves and cities of Pakistan. But whereas, the conniving Americans are doing so to negotiate a safe exit for its occupying forces in Afghanistan, what would we be negotiating for? Are we an occupying force? Is our military an occupying force in the north-west of Pakistan? Should we negotiate its safe exit first from KP so the extremists are free to do whatever they like, first in the KP, then in the rest of Pakistan? Will we be negotiating that ‘bad Muslims’ be allowed to at least settle on the shorelines of Gawadar and Karachi? Or should we grow gills and find an underwater city of infidels in the Arabian Sea? I am all for peace talks, Khan Saab. We are all for peace. Who in his or her right mind wouldn’t be? But so far it’s just been one-way traffic. The state and government alone has been talking about peace. And what are they getting in return? Suicide bombings on men, women and children. IED explosions against senior military officers and soldiers. Obviously, as you pointed out, these acts are the doing of those who want to derail the peace talks. May we know who these saboteurs are? Americans, Indians, Afghans, or maybe the ANP? Kindly do inform confused Pakistanis like me. You did say that ANP was politicising issues like suicide blasts. Well, I guess, they shouldn’t, but you most certainly can on issues like drone strikes, right? After all, you are the mighty Khan who has always taken the higher moral ground. That’s exactly why Western press spews fact after fact on corrupt hyenas like Zardari and Sharif and mobsters like Altaf Hussain, but you only make news when you attend a charity ball by a British royal to save endangered elephants. Oh, how we wish the 81 Christians who were slaughtered by extremists in a church in Peshawar last Sunday were elephants as well. They’re most certainly an endangered species, just like sanity in this country. So, can you ask Prince Charles to hold a charity ball for this as well? Thanks. Your fan (as opposed to a foulmouthed fanatic), Nadeem.
The Express Tribune News
By Zahrah NasirFiling a nomination to stand in next year’s Afghan presidential elections is, unless you happen to be one of the ‘chosen few’ backed by your personal ‘private army’, akin to signing your own death warrant. And when the person who files, a complete unknown in political circles, happens to be a woman, then she really is putting her life on the line. This harsh reality has not, however, prevented Ms Khadija Ghaznawi Kurshun, an amazing international and national businesswoman in her own right, from doing exactly this. Personally knowing how very determined she is, this writer knows that, come what may, death threats and all, Khadija will fight through until the bitter end. President of the Ibrahim Asia Group of Companies and with fingers in so many business pies that it is impossible to list them all here, Khadija is a force to be reckoned with and to be a front seat passenger with her, as I was, as she drives her Lexus 4×4 through the muddy streets of Kabul, sunglassed, demurely enveloped in her chador, music on full blast, windows open, grinning at startled police and army guys on checkpoint duty, is the experience of a lifetime. Putting herself in the limelight by filing a presidential nomination is a huge step for this widow from Ghazni who usually lives very low-key and who, when I had the pleasure of staying with her two years ago, much preferred life in an ‘invisible’, medium-sized apartment-cum-office without a guard in sight to the life in fully staffed mansion she could have so easily chosen to lead. “To be a woman in Afghanistan is far from easy at the best of times,” she told me then. “To be a woman on her own, a woman who runs businesses and deals with men on a daily basis, is harder than ever as, until they learn better, they do not take me seriously but I haven’t reached this position without much hard work and, I know, I have made many enemies along the way. Still, this is how I chose to live: a life as close to freedom as is possible for any woman in Kabul during such troubled times.” “Come,” she orders me. “I have a business meeting to attend and I want you to come with me and then we will go out for dinner. I don’t feel like cooking at home tonight.” “You want to know who I am?” she replied to the stern faced, heavily armed, young man, who stopped her and demanded an identity as she drove through a heavily barricaded area late night. “I am your next president and, if you open the barricade and let me drive through, I will remember you.” He — and I — thought she was joking but, maybe, just maybe, she wasn’t!
http://www.rferl.org/The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan says some 2,000 men from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region are missing after military operations there. The Pakistani rights organization made the statement on October 15, a day after women in Swat held a protest demanding to know the fate of nearly 6,000 men from their area who they say have been missing since a military operation in 2009. The women blamed the military for the disappearance of the men and called on authorities to provide them with more information. Pakistani military officials have admitted that some men are missing in Swat but said the figures cited by the protesters are too high.
The European Parliament has passed three separate resolutions condemning aggression and persecution against Christians in Syria, Pakistan and Iran thus asking for protection for journalists and calling for free access to the internet in Sudan while criticizing communal terrorism and violence against Christians in Iraq. During the meeting the MEPs articulated concerns for Christians in Syria strongly condemning attacks on Syrian Christians by militants in Maaloula and the nearby area while calling for monasteries in the region to be sheltered and for direct support and humanitarian aid to nuns and orphans trapped in the Convent of St Tekla. At this occasion, the MEP’s furthermore condemned the most deadly attacks on Christians in Pakistan on the All Saints Church in Peshawar. They further expressed intense concerns about the general situation of religious minorities in Pakistan particularly the potential threats to Churches. Furthermore, the MEPs insisted on the Pakistani authorities to refurbish the blasphemy laws and their current appliance,”As they can be misused against people of all faiths in Pakistan.” The fate of Pastor Saeed Abedini in Iran is also a matter of cavernous concern to MEPs, while they called on the government to vindicate and release him right away. Additionally, MEPs called for the reinstatement of human rights and basic freedoms following current disputes and demonstrations in Sudan, while urging the Sudanese Government “To cease all forms of repression against those who exercise their right to freedom of expression, both online and offline, and to protect journalists”. The resolution further added, “People should be allowed to have free access to the internet at all times.” The MEPs urged the Sudanese authorities to reassess the legislation. The Members of the European Parliament additionally called on the European Commission “To legally restrict the export of mass surveillance technologies from EU countries where they are likely to be used to violate digital freedoms and other human rights”. In addition to this, MEPs unalterably condemned the topical acts of terrorism and sectarian violence in Iraq, thus calling on the authorities “to facilitate a full and swift independent international investigation and to cooperate fully with that investigation”. The resolution added, “All leaders and players in society should start to work together to end the bloodshed and ensure that all Iraqi citizens feel equally protected.” - See more at: http://www.christiansinpakistan.com/persecution-of-christians-in-pakistan-syria-and-iraq-condemned-by-the-european-parliament/#sthash.HRlwiRuI.dpuf
The Express Tribune Chief Reporter Rana Tanveer on Thursday received a threatening letter for covering minorities. The one-page letter, bearing stamps of a Multan post office and Lahore Garden Town post office, bore threats and termed Tanveer “apostate” by accusing him of favouring minorities, especially Ahmadis and Christians. The letter, which started with “Allah-o-Akbar” read; “Rana Tanveer enough is enough. Your favour to Ahmadis and Christians is increasing and now it is my firm belief that you are not a Muslim. You have turned to be an apostate by writing against Islam and in favour of ‘anti Islam’.”It added, “We know your purpose of doing such but now it is better for you to stop writing ‘against’ Islam and in favour of Qadianis and for correction of your belief seek your forgiveness from Allah. If you continue this practice, you will be killed as being an apostate you deserve death.” The letter said that in defiance “you will be hit from where you cannot even imagine”. The writer wrote his name as ‘Mard-e-Mujahid’ at the end of the letter. The letter sent on the newspaper’s official address – 229-A Ferozepur Road Near Kalma Chowk – is written in Urdu language on an old and rusty page. It seemed that writing on the letter and on its envelope is not same. Rana Tanveer said that he always observed objectivity during his professional duties. He said being a Muslim, he cannot even think of writing against Islam. He added that whatever he writes is based on facts and being a professional journalist it is his duty to do factual reporting. He said although he is covering beat of minorities for about four years, he had never received such a letter. He said it might be result of somebody’s personal grudge against him.
Young Pakistani activist to become only sixth person to be given honorary citizenshipWednesday's throne speech will include a special detail: the government of Canada plans to give honorary citizenship to Malala Yousafzai. "Our government will bestow honorary citizenship on Malala Yousafzai who courageously advocates for human rights and freedom against the backdrop of Taliban extremism and oppression," a government source tells CBC News.Malala, 16, was already an outspoken advocate for girls’ education when she was critically injured on Oct. 9, 2012, when a gunman shot her while she was riding home on a school bus in the city of Mingora. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in Pakistan's volatile Swat Valley. She will become just the sixth person to be given honorary Canadian citizenship. The others include: Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. Nelson Mandela. The Dalai Lama. Aung San Suu Kyi. The Aga Khan.
Daily TimesThe internal strife in the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has blocked functioning of the standing committees of the National Assembly, despite the passage of over four months since the new House was sworn in. The standing committees of the House were constituted around one and half months back. However, the simple formality of electing their chairman has not been completed so far despite the presentation of the names by the opposition parties. According to parliamentary sources, the lists of the government members of the House were finalised some time back by State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed. However, some powerful ministers in the cabinet want their blue-eyed candidates to head some important committees and remove some of the names proposed by Sheikh Aftab Ahmed. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had particularly intervened when he proposed names of his own people to head these committees against those who have been finalised earlier. Though the final approval is to be given by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, however, this internal infighting has delayed the process. The standing committees are key part of parliament, especially by virtue of their input in legislation as well as their role in oversight of different government miniseries and departments. Above all, the role of parliament to check corruption in the country through its Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has also come to standstill because of the delay in election of chairperson of the committees. As per the strength of the political parties in National Assembly, the PML-N will head seventeen standing committees followed by largest opposition party Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) that will chair four committees, with the key PAC chairpersonship with it. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) will head three committees, and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) will chair two. It may be recalled the government first missed the July 5 deadline for making the standing committees functional and was only able to constitute the committees at the fag end of the month of August contrary to assembly rules. The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs has to constitute standing committees within 30 days after the election of the prime minister. The parliamentary sources told Daily Times that the National Assembly Secretariat has nothing to do with the election of chairpersonship of the committees and is only waiting for the approval of the government to convene the committees’ meeting and hold their election.
It seems for every problem the Nawaz Sharif government faces there is an All-Parties Conference. After Karachi and terrorism were given the APC treatment, the prime minister has now invited the political parties to attend a summit on the state of the economy. This APC, unlike the previous two, will only be successful if the government uses it to discuss its own economic agenda and then listens to the dissent on offer. So far, the government has pursued a policy of steep hikes in the price of power and is readying a mass privatisation plan that will also lead to national assets being sold off as well as job losses that may run into the tens of thousands. It has done so without securing the agreement of the political parties, hoping to rely on its own parliamentary majority to ram it through. So far, the only authority the government has accepted over its economic agenda is that of the IMF. Both the power price hikes and privatisation were dictated by the IMF, although the business-friendly PML-N was happy to go along with both. APCs usually turn out to be little more than public-relations exercises, conducted to show a unity across the political spectrum that doesn’t really exist. The government would be better advised to spend the time tightening our regulatory and taxation regimes and not giving big business a free ride. Private banks are running roughshod over the State Bank of Pakistan and the government, essentially banding together to buy treasury bills at a discount. The government is so in need of liquidity that it is forced to accept these unfavourable terms. Yet, instead of trying to raise more money from wealthy business owners by finally improving our pathetic tax collection efforts, the government is offering all kinds of taxation benefits to traders. At the same time, it is continuing to disproportionately target the poor and the middle class by increasing the power tariff and raising the general sales tax by two percentage points. If the proposed APC turns out to be just a rubber-stamp exercise in endorsing an economic agenda that is radical in its coddling of the rich at the expense of everyone else, then there will not be much in it to offer a ray of hope to the people. Pretending that the present policies reflect the opinion of the political spectrum would be doing a disfavour to the country.
Hides from 6m animals sacrificed during Eid sold by front organisations for militant groupsHuge numbers of goats, cows and even camels will be slaughtered in Pakistani on Wednesday homes to mark the Islamic holy day of Eid al-Adha. The sacrificial offering of around 6m animals will allow families to fulfil a religious duty, guarantee some much appreciated meat handouts to the poor and provide nearly half of the annual requirement of the country's leather industry. It will also generate an extraordinary cash windfall for some of Pakistan's most dangerous militant groups. Thinly disguised front organisations have been gearing up to compete against each other and legitimate charities to collect as many animal skins as possible, which can then be sold on for cash. "For us it is second only to Ramadan for our income," says an official from the Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF). FIF is the charitable wing of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), itself the reincarnation of one of south Asia's most dangerous militant groups, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a banned organisation dedicated to fighting jihad against India. JuD has successfully fought off legal bans although many believe it remains deeply involved in militancy. The US government has offered $10m (£6m) for information leading to the arrest of Hafiz Saeed, the group's leader accused by some US officials of masterminding and overseeing the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks. Saeed moves around the country freely. On Monday, he held a press conference outside a mosque in an affluent district of Islamabad. Surrounded by piles of food, toys and other goods that he said would be given to victims of last month's earthquake in Baluchistan, he appealed for people to give their animal hides to JuD. "Whatever funds we get from hides of animals we will use in Baluchistan to rebuild houses and help the people," he said to a bank of almost 20 television cameras. The organisation hopes to collect 100,000 hides from around the country this year. A cow hide can fetch up to $50. Also available to buy are JuD livestock which the organisation provides and slaughters on behalf of individuals or groups who want to pool resources to share the cost. Such initiatives have helped the organisation take market share from other charities, including the Edhi Foundation, a much-respected social welfare group. "It's hard to complete because they have more manpower from all their religious seminaries," said Mohammad Rashid from the Edhi Foundation in Islamabad. "They send all their students out to the streets, to volunteer." Because JuD is not officially a banned organisation nothing will or can be done to stop it collecting hides. There are fears that very little will be done to stop illegal groups from collecting hides either, particularly as many of them operate under false names. Officials say around half of the 24 groups that applied for the right to set up street stalls to collect hides in Islamabad were rejected after they were investigated and found to be front organisations. In recent weeks newspapers have carried government advert warning people not to give hides to illegal groups. However, a thorough crackdown is unlikely. Muhammad Rizwan, the senior superintendent of police in Islamabad, said the issue was not as critical to public safety as preventing suicide bombers from getting into mosques or other large gatherings that will occur across the country in the coming days. "Our focus has to be on security because we have 685 mosques in the city alone and many huge gatherings. All our resources will be focused onto that." While most people will give their hides to local mosques or respectable charities, some deliberately give to militants. "Definitely why shouldn't I give to jihadi organisations," said Syed Sabir Hussain, a small business owner from Rawalpindi. "What is wrong if they are fighting for Allah and Muslims?"