Thursday, December 26, 2013

Veteran politicians welcome Bilawal Bhutto into practical politics

Some top veteran politicians, belonging to the leading political parties, have welcomed Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s entry into the practical politics of the country, SAMAA reports. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) senior leader Makhdoom Amin Faheem, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Tariq Azeem, Awami Tehreek (Sindh) Chief Ayaz Palejo, and former close aide of Benazir Bhutto, Naheed Abbasi expressed good wishes and welcomed Bilawal Bhutto in the practical politics while sharing their views in SAMAA current affairs’ show Nadeem Malik Live on Thursday. Amin Fahim said in his comments, over Bilawal Bhutto’s entry into the politics, that it will be a good thing to talk of Bilawal Bhutto’s entrance into the Parliament but the final announcement will be made soon by the party. “As soon Bilawal Bhutto should be brought into the practical politics that would be beneficial as he has to play a key role in the practical politics of the country,” observed the PPP leader. “Larkana’s seat is a family seat of the Bhuttos and possibly Bilawal Bhutto will be elected from that constituency in the polls,” added Amin Faheem, saying Bilawal Bhutto could pick any constituency of choice to enter into the Parliament. Tariq Azeem, PML-N leader, said in his comments that Bilawal Bhutto was destined to enter into the practical politics and we welcome him with open hearts in the political arena of the country. “We heard one day before the anniversary of Benazir Bhutto that Bilawal Bhutto will compete in the polls from Sindh’s constituency NA-204,” added Tariq Azeem, saying it is a good eve and we expect that Bilawal Bhutto’s arrival into the practical politics will be announced officially during anniversary proceedings of his mother Benazir Bhutto in Garhi Khuda Bukhsh tomorrow. Benazir Bhutto’s former close aide, Naheed Khan, revealed that NA-204 is not the traditional constituency of Bilawal Bhutto’s mother, instead, it is NA-207 and the PPP Chairman should stand form this seat, not on NA-204 to continue legacy of his mother. “Mr. Zardari is a good person and better businessman but he is not a good politician at all,” observed Naheed Khan, adding the PPP is a leaderless party at the moment. Sindh’s nationalist leader and chief of the Awami Tehrik, Ayaz Palejo, welcomed Bilwal Bhutto into the practical politics but raised questions over his seriousness towards issues of the province and country, saying the politics has been taken as light as taking likes on Tweets from the people on the Twitter. “Tweet is not an issue of the people of Sindh and Pakistan and portraying like a Superman and Spiderman will not solve their issues,” added Palejo.

Paisa (Official Song) - De Dana Dan

Munni Begum live - Ek baar Muskra do

The top tech stories of 2013

The biggest technology story of the 2013 is one of the biggest stories of the year, period. It has had serious implications in the United States and around the world, and half a year later its true impact is only beginning to be felt. In June, The Guardian first published leaked documents from National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. The classified documents contained information about highly confidential government programs that collect massive amounts of data about Americans' cell phone calls and Internet activities
The scope of the program has led to lawsuits and protests, a public debate about the right to privacy versus the government's need to secretly collect information for security.
Another big story this year was cybersecurity, illustrated by a string of attacks by hackers against news organizations, major tech companies and retailers. The motivations behind the attacks varied -- some like the recent Target breach -- were financially motivated, while others were political statements or acts of espionage. They all highlighted the limits of online security and privacy.
It was a year when established tech companies struggled to reinvent themselves. Microsoft continued to push its new Windows 8 operating system and Windows 8 smartphones, even going as far as to buy the No. 1 maker of Windows phones, Nokia's mobile division. In the end, it wasn't enough and the company decided on one more big change: a new CEO.
A bright spot for Microsoft could be its new Xbox game console, the Xbox One, which is competing against Sony's new Play Station 4.
Apple didn't have to switch much up to stay popular. It announced an expected update to its iPhone and iPad lines with the usual fanfare, slimming down and speeding up the devices, throwing in some flashy features like a finger print scanner and new colors to keep the masses interested. A more dramatic overhaul was of the iOS 7 mobile operating system, which was flattened, simplified and updated.
Twitter went public and released a new social micro-video app called Vine, Snapchat broke out of the naughty messaging market and made "ephemeral" communications a hot feature, and virtual currency Bitcoin skyrocketed in price while people waited to see if it would drop back down to Earth.
Some of 2013's big stories were just previews of what's to come in 2014. Wearable technology moved from the hype stage to the prototype stage, but Google Glass and the myriad of bad smart watches just showed that the industry still has a lot more work to do (on design and social norms) before these gadgets are hot holiday items.
Tune in next year and see whether face-mounted computers become a socially acceptable accessory, 3-D printed guns become something to worry about and original content from sites like Amazon and Netflix can take on TV.

Karzai Standoff on Security Deal Sows Uncertainty

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is continuing to defend his decision to put off signing the key security pact allowing foreign troops to operate in Afghanistan after 2014. Critics and analysts say he has several possible motives for postponing the deal, but the stakes are so high that many believe it will eventually go through.
NATO is scheduled to terminate its current combat mission in Afghanistan by the end of 2014. U.S. officials insist they must have the security pact in place without any delay to continue counterterrorism operations and allow for a residual American military presence to train and advise Afghan forces beyond 2014. A traditional Afghan grand assembly (known as a Loya Jirga) last month urged President Hamid Karzai to sign the bilateral security agreement, but he says he will not sign it before certain demands are met. Speaking in India last week, the president said Washington must end raids on Afghan homes, end drone strikes, and encourage the Taliban to open peace talks with his government.
“Now, if it is done before the elections I will go ahead and allow it to be signed. If it is not done before the elections then the next Afghan president should undertake the responsibility and do it. So, it is not time bound it is action bound,” said Karzai.
Karzai also has dismissed as “brinkmanship” U.S. warnings that a long delay in signing the pact could mean a total pullout of its forces.
Afghan politicians, representatives of civil society and the business community have all urged the president to finalize the deal. They say Karzai’s reluctance is causing nationwide uncertainty and confusion. Many Afghans, including parliamentarian Khalid Pashtoon, are now speculating about the president's motives in not yet signing an agreement that so many of his peers and allies support.
“It looks like he is trying to achieve some credit from the people, you know, like he is very nationalist, he does care for Afghanistan, he does care for the future of Afghanistan and he does not want to show himself as a puppet of foreign powers. On the other hand, some people are saying that he may have some personal needs, some personal demands that he may ask from the U.S. side,” said Pashtoon.
Opposition politicians like Humayun Shah Asefi say President Karzai’s reluctance to respect a Loya Jirga decision is unprecedented in national history. “Maybe he is seeking some personal advantages because a huge majority of Afghans and nearly all the [presidential] candidates, they want that this agreement must be signed,” said Asefi. Although President Karzai has repeatedly vowed to stay neutral in the April election, his political opponents and independent experts fear that by delaying the agreement, President Karzai may be pressing for Washington’s tacit backing for his “favored” presidential candidate. Karzai's brother, Quayum Karzai, and his close aid, former foreign minister Zalmai Rassoul, are among the top presidential candidates. Skeptics like Kabul-based political commentator Said Azam say that the incumbent president is unlikely to stay neutral.
“He has explicitly said that he might support someone as a person, as an individual, as a citizen of the country. So, I think he will definitely support someone and he wants to have a strong say in forthcoming administration because he does not want to be seen just as an ex-president without having any particular leverage over decisions being made over the next five to ten years,” said Azam.
Whatever the political calculations behind the standoff, security analysts say the security agreement is critical for the government and security forces; both remain heavily dependent on foreign assistance. Anatol Lieven, a professor in the War Studies Department of King’s College London, says the delay is putting much-needed financial and military aid in jeopardy.
“The Afghan state is dependent for nine-tenths of its budget on international assistance. The entire military budget comes from U.S., four billion dollars a year. If that is seriously cut then the Afghan army and state will collapse just as they did in 1992 when Soviet aid was cut off with the fall of Soviet Union and the thing is what Karzai may not realize the deep desire of many Americans and Europeans just to get out of Afghanistan and to forget about the place,” said Lieven.
Politicians and independent commentators say there is hardly anyone in Afghanistan who believes that their president will stick to his stand for long. But they also say that by prolonging the process, Karzai has succeeded in keeping himself at the center of the debate over the country's future, a role he has long grown accustomed to.

Video: Obama, First Lady visit troops in Hawaii

U.S. President Barack Obama and wife Michelle visit Marine Corps Base to thank U.S. troops for their service.

China scathing on Japanese PM Abe's Yasukuni visit

China on Thursday strongly condemned Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the Yasukuni shrine, saying the Japanese leader's move has deeply hurt the feelings of Asian war victims.
"(We) strongly protest and condemn the Japanese leader's wrongdoing," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said immediately after Abe's Thursday visit to the shrine, where 14 WWII class-A war criminals are honored.
Abe's visit is the first by a serving Japanese prime minister since 2006. Former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's annual visits to the shrine during his tenure from 2001 to 2006 were a major factor that affected the ties between Japan and its Asian neighbors.
Japanese militarists' aggression brought atrocities to China and some Asian countries and deeply hurt the Japanese people, Qin said.
Qin labelled the Yasukuni shrine as "a spiritual tool and symbol" of Japanese aggression in WWII.
Abe's visit to the shrine whitewashes Japanese aggression and colonial rule, overthrows the international community's trial of Japanese militarism and challenges the post-war international order, said the spokesman.
Qin said Japanese leader's challenge of justice and historical trend gives its Asian neighbors and the international community every reason to be highly vigilant and deeply concerned over what road Japan will take in the future. Japanese politicians visiting the Yasukuni Shrine anger Japan's neighbors such as China and the Republic of Korea (ROK). Since Abe took office, his government has shown an irresponsible attitude to Japan's war history by refusing to apologize to its Asian neighbors and trying to revise the pacifist constitution.
Qin said China-Japan relations have faced "severe difficulties" since the Japanese government announced in September 2012 its plan to "purchase" part of the Diaoyu Islands, a move that contributed to the disintegration of bilateral relations.

Saudi blogger may face death penalty for apostasy

Saudi blogger and activist, Raif Badawi, currently serving his 7-year prison term for “insulting Islam”, may soon appear in a higher court on graver charges of apostasy. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to death.
Bringing Badawi back to court to face graver charges was recommended by a judge in Saudi Arabia, the activist’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, told CNN on Wednesday. The news has caused an uproar in social media.Raif Badawi is the founder of the Free Saudi Liberals website, created in 2008 to discuss the role of religion in Saudi Arabia freely. Badawi’s persecution for what was described as “insulting Islam” started the same year the site was set up. The blogger then fled the country to escape arrest. He returned when the charges against him were dropped, but was eventually jailed in June 2012.
In July this year, a criminal court in Jeddah found the man guilty of insulting Islam through his online forum and of violating Saudi Arabia’s anti-cybercrime law. Badawi was sentenced to 600 lashes and 7 years in prison.
The court’s ruling was condemned by international human rights watchdogs.
“This incredibly harsh sentence for a peaceful blogger makes a mockery of Saudi Arabia’s claims that it supports reform and religious dialogue,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “A man who wanted to discuss religion has already been locked up for a year and now faces 600 lashes and seven years in prison.” Badawi’s possible retrial is the latest episode in the country’s crackdown on dissent. Four members of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) were jailed in 2013. In the most recent case in December, 24-year-old Omar al-Saed was sentenced to four years in prison and 300 lashes after calling for political reform. Amnesty International called for the activist’s immediate release.
“Amnesty International considers Omar al-Hamid al-Saed to be a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely for his peaceful activities as a member of ACPRA and calls on the Saudi Arabian authorities to immediately and conditionally release him and to ensure that he is not subjected to flogging or any other corporal punishment,” the group’s public statement , released on December 19 reads.
Earlier, the watchdog criticized Saudi Arabia for failing to follow up on any of its promises to improve the country’s human rights record. The pledges were made following a 2009 review, issued by the UN Human Rights Council.
“Four years ago, Saudi Arabian diplomats came to Geneva and accepted a string of recommendations to improve human rights in the country. Since then, not only have the authorities failed to act, but they have ratcheted up the repression,” Philip Luther, Director of Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International said in October.
Amnesty’s criticism however did not prevent Saudi Arabia from being elected to the UN Human Rights Council in November. Its three-year term in UNHRC starts January 1, 2014.

China: Xi: Holding high banner of Mao "forever"

Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Thursday that the Communist Party of China (CPC) will hold high the banner of Mao Zedong Thought "forever" in pursuing the Chinese nation's rejuvenation. While commemorating the 120th anniversary of the birth of the late Chinese leader, Xi hailed Mao and other members of the older generation of revolutionaries as "great figures" in fighting national and class oppression, as well as standing at the wavefront of the positive tide in the Chinese nation and world. At a symposium held by the CPC Central Committee in Beijing, Xi said Mao, the principal founder of the CPC, the Chinese People's Liberation Army and the People's Republic of China, was "a great proletarian revolutionary, strategist and theorist." "Mao is a great figure who changed the face of the nation and led the Chinese people to a new destiny," said Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission. He pointed out that a correct historical view must be adopted to appraise a historical figure. "Revolutionary leaders are not gods, but human beings," Xi said. "(We) cannot worship them like gods or refuse to allow people to point out and correct their errors just because they are great; neither can we totally repudiate them and erase their historical feats just because they made mistakes," Xi said. "(We) should not simply attribute the success in historical favorable circumstances to individuals, nor should we blame individuals for setbacks in adverse situation," he said. "(We) cannot use today's conditions and level of development and understanding to judge our predecessors, nor can we expect the predecessors to have done things that only the successors can do," he said. Under the new conditions, Party members should adhere to and make good use of the "living soul" of Mao Zedong Thought, namely seeking truth from facts, the "mass line" and independence, Xi said. The CPC in June initiated a year of campaigning to strengthen the "mass line", a guideline under which the CPC is required to prioritize the interests of the people. Xi said it was not easy to find a correct path. "The path decides the nation's destiny." "Socialism with Chinese characteristics does not just fall from the sky," Xi said, adding that it was achieved through the toil and sacrifice of the Party and the people. Without the pros and cons of historical experience learnt from practical exploration before reform and opening up, processes would not have proceeded so smoothly, Xi continued. To realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, the key is with the CPC, Xi said. Xi vowed to "seriously treat 'illnesses' which harm the nature and purity of the Party and rip out any 'malignant tumors' on the healthy bodies of the CPC." Persistent effort will enable the CPC to always be at the core of leadership for the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics, Xi stressed. Thursday's symposium at the Great Hall of People was presided over by Liu Yunshan and attended by other leaders including Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli. Before the symposium, the seven top leaders visited Mao's mausoleum in Tian'anmen Square, making three bows toward Mao's seated statue and paying their respects to the remains of Mao. Mao was born on Dec. 26, 1893 and died on Sept. 9, 1976.

Pakistan: The Mirali tragedy

Dr Mohammad Taqi
It would behoove the defence minister to ask why exactly the military still has agreements with assorted Taliban groups in FATA? Who has allowed sanctuary to the militants from Afghanistan, Chechnya and Uzbekistan in FATA?
As the Punjab-based ruling and opposition parties wrangled over the latter’s Lahore weekend rally, the Pashtuns in Mirali, North Waziristan Agency (NWA) of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) were caught between the foreign and domestic terrorists on one side and the artillery barrage from the Pakistani army on the other. According to locals and media reports, over 70 people, scores of them civilian, were killed when the army ostensibly retaliated against the terrorists. The plight of the Mirali residents got the attention of very few in the print and electronic media. The lions of Punjab — both those in waiting and the incumbent ones — devoured their share of airtime hours and column inches as news of civilian casualties trickled out of Mirali.
The cabinet’s committee on national security in a meeting last week had reaffirmed its “commitment to the strategy of carrying out negotiations with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and considering use of other options only as a last resort”. The TTP’s spokesman, Shahidullah Shahid, immediately snubbed the government and rejected any talks. The next day, the TTP affiliate Ansarul Mujahideen launched a suicide attack on a military checkpoint in the Mirali area in which five soldiers were martyred. The army responded in a knee-jerk manner using artillery and gunship helicopters as well as a ground assault, hitting the Mirali bazaar and residential quarters. That the army had every right to respond to attacks on its personnel is not moot but how the military resorted to unleashing massive firepower on terrorists holed up in the civilian neighbourhoods is perplexing, with an apparent disregard for collateral damage.
A similar situation had arisen earlier this year during the military operation in the Tirah valley where civilians from the Afridi tribe were killed due to crude military tactics. An army supposed to be in a counterterrorism and counterinsurgency mode for almost 12 years would have had those skills honed almost to surgical precision by now. While the sacrifice of the armed forces personnel must be solemnly honoured, the Mirali and the Tirah episode before that should perhaps be investigated at the institutional level. The Mir Ali incident raises yet again the following perennial questions: what exactly is Pakistan’s policy vis-à-vis the terrorists holding FATA hostage? Who calls the shots in FATA on the state’s behalf? Why has the military failed to act comprehensively against the militants in the NWA despite its pledges to act at least since early 2010? Why have attacks by the same or similar terrorist groups on the civilians largely gone answered?
The president of Pakistan, Mr Mamnoon Hussain, who is the constitutional authority over FATA, has not been heard from over this incident or, for that matter, any other. The minister for defense, Mr Khawaja Muhammad Asif, is reported to have said that “the attacks on the security forces will not be tolerated at any cost and the government will not show leniency towards terrorists.” The fact is that FATA effectively remains under the heel of the military and the militants who have played and periodically fought with each other at whim for a good decade now. Any other state would have, by now, developed a comprehensive revanchist policy to regain full sway over an area teeming with terrorists due to its own perverted national security and foreign policies. However, it seems that FATA is nothing more than an appendage for the Pakistani state, which it continues to use as a buffer against the boomerang of the jihadist militancy sired by none other than the state itself. While the outrageous calls to let the TTP open an office seem to have fizzled out, the Punjab-based politicians continue to push for negotiations with that murderous horde. The idea, it appears, is to keep the jihadist malignancy localised to the Pashtun lands at all costs to the Pashtuns. It would behoove the defence minister to ask why exactly the military still has agreements with assorted Taliban groups in FATA? Who has allowed sanctuary to the militants from Afghanistan, Chechnya and Uzbekistan in FATA? Why does the military act with either an overwhelming and indiscriminate might or appease and capitulate altogether? Has the army not paid reparations to militants, released their men and vacated its posts as part of various deals with them? The army needs to come clean on its relationship with Afghanistan-oriented transnational jihadists like the Haqqani terrorist network. Despite the insinuations about the army dropping its Haqqani network allies, there is little to suggest that it has translated into severance of ties on the ground and denial of sanctuary to the Haqqani network as yet. It is well known that the network effectively sublets the sanctuary it has from Pakistan to various other transnational jihadists that attack Pakistan. This Charlie Foxtrot of jihadists that Pakistan has allowed on its soil also hampers the precision of any military operation.
While Punjab-based politicians go blue in the face denouncing US drone attacks for an alleged rise in militancy, they conveniently ignore that random or poorly conceived military operations and indiscriminate use of massive firepower, which result in civilian casualties and displacement of the population, also cause tremendous resentment among people. Pounding the tribal Pashtuns that Pakistan itself has thrown under the jihadist bus compounds the tragedy of FATA. Forget about integrating FATA or conducting the local bodies polls there, the Punjab-dominated National Assembly of Pakistan argued over whether the word ‘tamasha’ (spectacle) or drama is against the parliamentary politesse as Mirali was being pummeled.
The new chief of army staff General Raheel Sharif’s statement in Peshawar that “terrorist attacks will not be tolerated and will be responded to effectively”, should be welcomed. However, by most independent accounts, the events in Mirali leave much to be desired in how the army currently mounts such a response. General Sharif, who reportedly had a significant role in formulating the military’s counterterrorism strategy, still has some serious work on his hands. While the Mirali fighting is being interpreted as the rolling start to a larger NWA operation, it seems to have been a limited action gone awry. Still, General Sharif’s statement is being seen as a departure from his predecessor’s way of conducting business. However, unless the arbitrary policy of differentiating the so-called good Taliban from the bad ones is formally and publically scrapped, smoking out and neutralising them will remain an uphill task replete with pitfalls like the Mirali tragedy.

Arrangements made for Benazir’s death anniversary

Pakistan Today
Larkana Peoples’ Party (PPP) Women Wing will set up a reception camp in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh on the occasion of the sixth death anniversary of assassinated chairperson of PPP and former premier Benazir Bhutto.
This was decided in PPP Women Wing meeting held Wednesday in connection with the sixth death anniversary of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. Larkana PPP (Women Wing) President and former Sindh minister for Women Development Department Tauqir Fatima Bhutto presided over the meeting.
The meeting discussed and finalised the arrangements. It was also decided that PPP leaders and workers from various parts of the country will participate in the death anniversary programmes. Tauqeer Fatima informed that the workers of the PPP Women Wing from Larkana Divisio
n will perform their duties as volunteers in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh on December 27, 2013.
The meeting was also attended by Nasibaan Channa, Kaniz Fatima, Faryal Brohi, Shabana Malik, Razia Pathan, Shama Jamali, Naseem Baloch, Rehana Bhutto, Rabia Surhio, Rukhsana Bhutto, Zakia Khokhar, Sakina Gaad, Najma Mangi and others, presidents and general secretaries from Larkana, Kamber-Shahdadkot, Shikarpur, Kashmore-Kandhkot and Jacobabad.

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Benazir Bhutto’s 6th death anniversary tomorrow
The 6th death anniversary of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto will be observed on December 27, Friday. According to PPP press release issued here on Thursday, a condolence reference and public meeting will be held at PPP's Secretariat afternoon in which party workers and office-bearers across the district would participate.
Former state minister Tasneem Ahmed Qureshi and other leaders will address the gathering. It may be mentioned that Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on December 27, 2007 outside Liaquat Bagh when she was returning after addressing a public meeting.

Tahira syed sings Ahmad Faraz - Yeh Aalam Shauq ka dekha na jaaye

Pakistan's Ahmadi Muslims Under Attack: Consecrated ground: Child buried after four days

The Express Tribune
A one-and-a-half-year-old was buried on Wednesday, four days after she died from pneumonia in Toba Tek Singh. The family said that Muslim residents of the area had refused to let them bury the child in the neighbourhood graveyard because “she was born to an Ahmedi family”.
The child was finally buried on a land donated by a Muslim resident of the village, some 300 metres away from the graveyard. The settlement was reached after the family of the deceased child staged a protest demonstration. The family, a resident of Chak 312-JB Kathowali in Gojra, said that they had prepared the body for the burial in the neighbourhood graveyard. On Sunday, they said, some men stopped the funeral on its way to the graveyard and told them that they could not bury the child there. The family said they were told that the villagers had decided not to let any person from the Ahmadia community bury their dead at the graveyard.
The family placed the body on the main road and sat around it. The sit-down continued for three days before police arrived at the scene and talked to both side.
After negotiations between both sides, police said, the child’s family agreed to bury the girl on land donated by Yaqoob Ranjha, a Muslim resident of the village and a neighbour of the deceased child. The land is 300 metres from the old graveyard. Station House Officer Rana Muhammad Yar told The Express Tribune that the dispute was resolved amicably. He said no FIR was registered against anyone.
He said the police had tried to avert an untoward situation.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Waheed Ahmad, the child’s father, said that hers was the first ‘Ahmadi grave’ in the area. Earlier, he said, all members of his family had been buried in the village graveyard along with their Muslim neighbours. He said it was the first time the villagers had objected to burying an Ahmadi in the village graveyard. Ahmad, a daily wage labourer, said nearly Ahmadi families in Kathowali settled in the area in 1947. Most of them, he said, had migrated to Germany, Canada, the UK and the USA.
He said there had been no altercation between the Ahmedis and the Muslims in the village. He said there had been instances where people from both sides attended each other’s weddings and funerals.
“The situation got bad over the last few weeks, when a group of people in the village started a campaign against Ahmadis declaring them wajibul qatal. They had been asking other villagers to boycott Ahmadis and stop accepting our invitations,” Ahmed said.

Pakistan: North Waziristan appears close to full-blown conflict

GUNS have fallen silent in Mirali — a bustling town 35km to the east of North Waziristan’s regional headquarters of Miramshah, but now with rows of burnt down and bombed shops and houses. The sudden flare-up and military’s fierce response to a suicide bombing at one of its main camps in Khajori on Dec 18 have shown that the situation in North Waziristan remains volatile, dangerously close to a full-blown conflict. That the peace process would be illusive was known to all but what many people fail to understand is just how complex it would be, given the large number of militant groups with different agendas and goals. A ceasefire has now been in effect. But the question is for how long. The military is edgy. For far too long, they say, they sat out there, taking casualties. Since September, they say, a total of 67 improvised explosives devices were planted to harm them; 40 were neutralised, 27 exploded, resulting in deaths and injuries to about a hundred of their men. Since 2009, compared with other tribal regions, the casualty rate the military has suffered is the highest in North Waziristan and eleven times the casualties they have taken in South Waziristan. Patience has worn out. “The question is for how long,” asked one military officer. “It’s better to go out and die fighting them than take casualties sitting inside our camps.” In Mirali the fighting has stopped but the situation remains fluid. The military, despite its furious response, says it is committed to the political leadership’s plan to initiate peace dialogue with militants in Waziristan. Commitment notwithstanding, no-one in the know is willing to put his bottom dollar on the success of the yet-to-start peace process. Such is the complexity of the situation. There are so many groups and with so varied objectives that no matter whom the government speaks to sue peace, any of the groups not happy with the process can light a match to burn down the entire process. Consider what happened on December 18. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) posted an English translation of its statement on the Jamia Hafsa Urdu Forum on Tuesday, saying that the military responded with air and ground attack after a group of “frustrated fighters” had bombed a military convoy. In the event, it said, fighters from the IMU, the TTP and Ansarul Mujahideen hit back to ‘defend civilians’. Two IMU fighters were killed and 22 foreign “refugees” wounded. It put the civilian casualty figures at 70. The military, the IMU said, had suffered more than 300 casualties. The military rubbishes the claim and insists that not a single soldier was killed or injured in the follow-up action which, it says, left more than 30 foreign militants dead, most of them Uzbeks. This is what Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his pointman for the peace process in North Waziristan, Chaudhry Nisar, will have to grapple with: a plethora of militant groups ever keen to attack security forces and an increasingly edgy military. And they may not have much time at hand. No-one seems to be in control in North Waziristan. Together with the military and the paramilitary, the political administration is confined to the fort in Miramshah. With curfew clamped, the military moves only on what is called the Road Opening Days, suffering roadside bombings and ambushes. As for the militant groups, they are many. Government officials put the total number of local militant groups operating in North Waziristan, including the Haqqani network, at 43. Dattakhel-based Hafiz Gul Bahadar has the highest number of groups affiliated with him — 15, followed by 10 independent groups. There are six TTP-affiliated groups. The Punjabi Taliban have four groups. In addition, there are 12 foreign militant groups, including Al Qaeda. With a combined strength of roughly 11,000 fighting men, the Pakistani and foreign militant groups represent a formidable challenge, officials acknowledge. Given the enormity and complexity of the problem, the lack of trust between the militants and the state and prevalent scepticism within the civil-military establishment regarding success and sustainability of the proposed peace process, the path to peace, if and when taken, would not be easy.

Pakistan: Why only Musharraf?

Pervez Musharraf has been granted a onetime relief from appearing before the special court hearing the treason case against him because of threats to his life. The court was informed on Tuesday that a five kilogram bomb, arms and ammunition were found outside Musharraf’s farmhouse at Chak Shahzad. The court has directed the federal government to provide adequate security to Musharraf on January 1 to enable him to appear in court. Musharraf has been indicted under Section 2 of the High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973 for imposing the Emergency on November 3, 2007 that subverted the constitution. Musharraf has been dissatisfied over the mechanism adopted by the government to prosecute him whereby a special court has been established to conduct his trial. His legal team has objected to the formation of the special court and the appointment of the special prosecutor, Akram Sheikh, by filing two separate petitions. These the court would take up at the next hearing.
To begin with, the federal government’s decision to try Musharraf for his November 3, 2007 act of holding the constitution in abeyance is itself a questionable attempt. His original crime dates back to 1999 when he overthrew the democratically elected government of Nawaz Sharif and abrogated the constitution. Through a Legal Framework Order he got himself elected president for five years and proposed 19 amendments to the constitution. Later parliament elected in 2002 through the 17th constitutional amendment validated the October 1999 coup. It is behind this shield that the federal government is trying to hide and protect all those politicians, members of the judiciary and other state institutions who assisted Musharraf in orchestrating his rule. Partial justice is being dispensed that ignores the greater crime against the constitution of a military coup.
The plea that Musharraf could not be indicted for his 1999 act because it has been validated by the 2002-2007 parliament is challengeable to say the least. What kind of parliament was it that indemnified a dictator’s act? That phase of the political history of Pakistan is not even considered democratic, let alone its endorsement of a blatantly unconstitutional act be considered kosher. Validating a dictator’s coup by a ‘parliament’ is akin to collaborating in his act. Musharraf should be indicted for every sin that he committed against the constitution of the country and those who had been aiding him throughout the course of his rule should also bear the heat of the consequences. Presently Musharraf’s trial simply smacks of an attempt to single him out and let all his collaborators off the hook.

PPP gives PML-N three more months to deliver
* Khurshid Shah says opp will prepare new strategy against govt if it fails to improve performance * Govt failed to reduce inflation and load shedding in last six months
Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah said on Wednesday that the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) is giving three months to the government to improve its performance otherwise opposition would chalk out a new strategy against it. Talking to reporters, he said the government has failed to reduce inflation and power load shedding in the county during its six-month tenure. Shah said that the government has also failed to uplift economy of the country. To a question, he said the issue of load shedding was older one and Prime MinisterNawaz Sharif did nothing to resolve it in the past.
The opposition leader said Imran Khan should contain price hike in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) first and then talk about Punjab. “We will have to abandon the path of clash and focus on sorting out problems and parliament is the potential platform for this purpose,” he added. He said the PPP had curtailed inflation during its tenure. He said that suspending or scrapping Pak-Iran gas pipeline project would be sheer injustice with people. He added that six months were given to the government to streamline the country’s affairs but its performance has not been good. “Therefore, we are giving three more months to the government and it should work for the betterment of people,” he added. He claimed that “more than half” of ministers did not come to the National Assembly.
Still, he added, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali talked about TA/DA of legislators. He should not claim TA/DA for attending National Assembly sessions, Shah added.
The opposition leader also said that if the interior minister did not withdraw his remarks of “tamasha” he had used in a speech in the NA to describe a PTI campaign for thumb verification of voters, the opposition would devise a strategy to deal with the matter.
Earlier on December 18, Nisar had used the word “tamasha” [drama] to describe a PTI campaign in and out of parliament for thumb verification of voters in four key National Assembly constituencies in Punjab, won by the PML-N in the May 11 general elections.
The remark had drawn instant protests from opposition benches and a demand from Shah that the minister withdraw the word “tamasha”.
Nisar had argued that ‘tamasha” was no “unparliamentary word”. Earlier in an interview with a private TV channel, Shah said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is holding key ministries himself and he has no time to come to the assembly. “The PML-N is pursuing dual policy on terrorism and no consultation has been made by the government with regard to National Security Policy.”

Voice for Baloch Missing Persons long march reaches Hayderabad
Today was the 12th day of VBMP Long March from Karachi and 38th day from Quetta towards Islamabad. They started their march from Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur's place in Hayderabad. The weather was cold and Windy with heavy traffic on roads because of Aushura.
The Sindh government has not provided any security them despite the fact that intelligence agencies have been continuously been threatening Qadeer Baloch to cancel the march against enforced-disappearances and state atrocities.
The 73 year-old resilient Qadeer Baloch is, however, adamant not to give up the fight against injustice and abductions of our Baloch youth by state forces.
The Baloch Qaumi Movement has been with the March from Dahbigi.
Several Sindhi nationalist parties including JSMM (Shafi Burfat group), SNP, JSQM (Bashir Qureshi group) and many other people of all ages welcomed and joined the march.
They chanted slogans in support of Voice for Baloch Missing Persons Long March and for the release of all abducted Baloch and Sindhi activists. They also demanded justice and freedom.
Meanwhile Baloch women from Hayderabad and a group of Baloch Nationalists from Karachi also joined the #VBMPLongMarch to express their support with marching Baloch families.
The participants of the protest chanted slogans for the release of all abducted persons and called on United Nations to take action against human rights violations in Sindh and Balochistan. It is pertinent to mention that Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, a representative organisation of the families of killed & dump policy of Pakistan and abducted Baloch, started their long march protest from Quetta on 27 November 2013. They are protesting against ongoing abductions and under-custody murder of Baloch activists by Pakistani forces.
The VBMP says that military have abducted at least 18000 Baloch since the beginning of conflict in year 2000. Around 1500 people among them have been killed under-custody and their bodies were dumped in deserted areas across Balochistan.
The bodies of the victims bore marks of extreme torture and bullet wounds. According to medical reports the subjects were brutally tortured and their cause of the death could be severe torture but they shot after they died. VBMP says also that at least a 1000 Baloch have been target killed by Pakistani forces and their hired gangs/death squads. They are adamant to continue their struggle until the safe recovery of all abducted person from Balochistan.
Qadeer Baloch, vice chairman of VBMP said: “We will decide our future plan of action after we reach to Islamabad.” However, he reiterated that the march will continue and he will not be intimidated by threats.

A U.S. drone strike targeting a militant compound killed at least three suspected insurgents in a restive Pakistani tribal region near the Afghan border late on Wednesday, officials said.
The attack took place around midnight in Qutab Khel village, five kilometers south of Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan tribal region, a stronghold for Taliban and Al Qaeda linked militants. “A U.S. drone fired two missiles on a militant compound, killing at least three suspected insurgents,” said a senior security official. A security official in Peshawar confirmed the attack and casualties. Another official in Miranshah put the death toll at four and said a fifth militant was seriously injured. The identities of those killed in the strike were not immediately known but officials suspect that they were of Afghan origin. North Waziristan is one of Pakistan’s seven semi-autonomous tribal regions, which Washington considers to be a major hub of Taliban and Al Qaeda militants plotting attacks on the West and in Afghanistan. The Pakistani government criticizes drone strikes as a violation of sovereignty and counterproductive to anti-terror efforts. But ties with Washington have nevertheless improved this year after lurching from crisis to crisis in 2011 and 2012. Last month a U.S. drone attack on a madrassah linked to the feared Haqqani militant network in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province in the northwest killed at least six people. The attack, which militant sources said killed the Haqqanis’ spiritual leader along with five others, was extremely unusual as it was mounted outside Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Bangladeshi Terrorist Quader Mollah and Pakistan

By Mohshin Habib
The government of Pakistan actually holds the patrimony, including the genocide and crimes against humanity committed during Bangladesh war of independence, under its tunic.
On December 16, the Victory Day of Bangladesh (Pakistan observes the day as "the fall of Dhaka"), Pakistan's National Assembly passed a resolution condemning the hanging of the Abul Quader Mollah. The resolution said: "This House expresses serious concern over the execution of 65-year-old Jamaat-e-Islam leader Abdul Qadir Molla only for siding with Pakistan in 1971 and condoles with Jamaat-e-Islam Bangladesh and the family of the deceased... This House demands from the government of Bangladesh not to give new life to matters of 1971 and close all the cases against the leadership of JI in Bangladesh." The resolution was moved by Jamaat-e-Islam leader Sher Akbar Khan and endorsed by the ruling PML-N and Tehrik-e-Insaaf of Imran Khan .
Before adopting the resolution, Pakistan's Interior Minister Chaudhury Nisar Ali Khan, labelled Bangladeshi court verdict as "judicial murder".
On the other hand, we had started to think that Pakistan was preparing to express contrition for the wrong-doing by their predecessors. We were charmed by Syed Haider Farook's statement as he remarked during his Dhaka visit that Jamaat should not be allowed to do politics in Bangladesh. Farook is the son of Jamaat founder Abu Ala Maududi. We were really glad to hear voices like Raja Hassan Raja, Hamid Mir and a few other Pakistani intellectuals and civil rights activists who demanded of their government to apologise to Bangladesh for the genocide and atrocities its army committed in Bangladesh in 1971. Even General Pervez Musharraf, the former president of Pakistan, during his Bangladesh visit in August 2002 wrote in the official visitors' book at Savar National Memorial: "Your brothers and sisters in Pakistan share the pains of the event of 1971. The excesses committed during the unfortunate period are regrettable." The celebrity cricketer Imran Khan once said, "Pakistan should apologise to Bangladesh for atrocities during 1971."
But it now seems that we were wrong. The government of Pakistan actually holds the patrimony, including the genocide and crimes against humanity committed during Bangladesh war of independence, under its tunic.
Secondly, the new generation of Bangladesh has learnt from Pakistan's action that recognising Mollah by the resolution means, yes, Mollah was indeed a collaborator of the Pakistan occupation forces. It debunks the cliam of Jamaat supporters that Quader Mollah was not the same guy who was known as Koshai (Butcher) Quader, who took part in the massacre. Moreover, the people of Bangladesh are now convinced that the relations between Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami and Pakistan have been uninterrupted.
Yes, there are some countries which expressed their reservations about the procedure of trial at the International War Crimes Tribunal. Most of these countries have rermoved execution from their judiciaries. But Pakistan is not in a position to pass a resolution against Bangladesh on humanitarian ground. Pakistan still upholds its notorious blasphemy law, introduced by General Ziaul Haq decades ago. Zia introduced blasphemy laws under section 295b, 295c, 298b and 298c of the Pakistani Penal Code (PPC). According to Asian Human Rights Commission, more than 1000 people have been charged in Pakistan for committing offences against blasphemy laws. Among them are young, old and children! Report mentioned that since 1990, 52 people have been extra-judicially murdered for being implicated in blasphemy charges. There are reports that at least half a dozen Christians, including women, are now on death row in Pakistani prisons. These people were never violent; they are just accused of orally hurting Pakistani sentiment.

Pakistan's Shia Under Attack: Senior Shia journalist, 2 sons, a cousin injured in Yazidi terrorists attack
Yazidi nasbi takfiri terrorists shot injured senior Shia journalist Azhar Abbas Naqvi, his two sons and a cousin near NIPA Chowrangi Gulshan-e-Iqbal Karachi on Tuesday night.
Shiite News Correspondent reported that Syed Azhar Abbas Naqvi, a senior producer in Samaa TV channel was returning from Chehlum procession on his motorcycle. When they reached NIPA Chowrangi, the terrorists opened fire upon them.
Azhar Abbas, his sons Danyal and Daaim and cousin Haider were injured and fell from the motorcycle. They were rushed to a private hospital where doctors were operating upon them. Condition of Haider was out of danger because bullet his hand but more bullets hit Azhar Abbas whose condition is critical till the filing of this report. His sons had sustained wounds in legs.
Reports had it that four bullets hit Azhar Abbas but police said that they recovered only three emptied of 9 mm pistol from the scene.
Karachi Union of Journalists and members of Karachi Press Club have condemned the attack on senior journalist and his sons and demanded of the government to ensure immediate arrest of the terrorists.
Shia parties and leaders have also condemned the attack and reiterated their demand for targeted military operation against the terrorists.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to contest by-election from NA-204
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will contest by-election from NA-204 constituency of Larkana, Dunya News reported on Thursday.
The decision was taken after MNA Ayaz Soomro vacated the seat. He will now be appointed as law advisor to the Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah. In 2013 Bilawal Bhutto Zardari turned 25, thus becoming eligible to run for the National Assembly, as the Constitution requires the minimum age of lawmakers to be 25. According to sources, Bilawal will soon be appointed opposition leader in the National Assembly after winning the election.

Growing Mistrust Between U.S. and Turkey Is Played Out in Public

Coming together over crisis has been a hallmark of the relationship between the United States and Turkey in recent years. So it was an especially troubling sign of degraded trust that a meeting between Turkish and American diplomats was canceled last week because it seemed more like an ambush than a consultation.
A corruption inquiry of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s inner circle had been quickly intensifying, and late in the week, the Turkish foreign minister requested through an intermediary a meeting with the American ambassador, Francis J. Ricciardone Jr., to discuss the crisis, according to interviews with American and Turkish officials.
For days, American diplomats had been privately pleading that the Turks resist trying to divert attention by playing off the investigation as part of a foreign plot. But on Saturday, before the scheduled meeting, the machinery was obviously spinning.
Pro-government newspapers featured Mr. Ricciardone on their front pages, and later in the day the Turkish news media reported that the foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, was set to call Secretary of State John Kerry and banish the American ambassador over an unspecified American role in the corruption inquiry. And Mr. Erdogan embarked on a series of speeches in which he, too, hinted at American treachery and suggested Mr. Ricciardone might be expelled from the country.
Mutual suspicion ruled the day, and the Americans called the meeting off.
It was only a couple of years ago that President Obama, struggling for an American response to the uprisings in Egypt, Libya and Syria, was said to be speaking with Mr. Erdogan more than the American president was to any world leader, with the exception of the British prime minister, David Cameron. And it was a source of pride for Turks: One newspaper at the time hailed the frequent conversations as a sign of Turkey’s “ascent in the international arena.”
“There was a honeymoon from 2010 until the summer of 2013,” said Soner Cagaptay, the director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “It was guided by the personal rapport Obama and Erdogan had established.”
That now seems a long time ago here. The reality, say analysts, is that the two countries’ foreign policies have been notably diverging, and that the blowup over the corruption investigation and the American diplomatic contingent is being taken as the latest sign of a deepening distrust. They are at odds over Egypt, where Turkey had been a strong supporter of the deposed president, Mohamed Morsi, and where the United States has sought a relationship with Egypt’s new military rulers.
In Syria, Turkey has aggressively backed and armed rebel fighters, and felt betrayed when the United States backed away from military action against the Syrian government in September. In Iraq, American officials believe the Turks, by signing oil contracts with the northern Kurdish region that cut out the central government in Baghdad, are pursuing a policy that could lead to the country’s breakup.
And more recently, Turkey angered its NATO allies by signing a missile-defense system deal with a Chinese company that is under American sanctions for its dealings with Iran, North Korea and Syria. The United States Congress has threatened to cut off subsidies to Turkey for the purchase, and NATO has said it would never integrate Chinese technology into its own missile-defense system. At the same time, Turkey’s own domestic troubles — laid bare by the antigovernment protests in the summer set off by a government plan to raze Gezi Park in Istanbul, and now by the corruption inquiry — are coming under a harsh spotlight, with both crises now being linked by Mr. Erdogan to the United States.
In the case of the corruption inquiry, he has been able to do so because two of its elements do obliquely point to the United States, even if there has been no explicit evidence of a link.
Part of the inquiry is focusing on the state-owned Halkbank, whose chief executive has been arrested in the case on suspicion of bribery. The bank has also long been suspected by the United States of helping Iran evade sanctions over its nuclear program by using gold to purchase Iranian oil and gas. This year, 47 American lawmakers wrote a letter, which has been re-aired in the Turkish news media over the past week, to urge Mr. Kerry to push the Turks for closer monitoring of the relationship between Iran and Halkbank. “These guys were massive sanctions busters,” said Steven A. Cook, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and an expert on Turkey. “It’s been a sore point between Washington and Ankara.” The other element is that the inquiry, which has targeted several people in the prime minister’s circle, has been linked to Fethullah Gulen, a popular Muslim cleric who once was a close ally of the prime minister but is now a fierce political enemy.
His life of exile in Pennsylvania has led to conspiracy theories here, and his followers are believed to occupy important positions within the police and judiciary, which are carrying out the corruption inquiry.
The investigation into Halkbank, Mr. Cook said, might “be part of a Gulenist effort to demonstrate to the U.S. that maybe Erdogan is not a reliable partner.” It was just this May that Mr. Obama stood in the Rose Garden with Mr. Erdogan and said to reporters, “I value so much the partnership that I’ve been able to develop with Prime Minister Erdogan.” Now, when Mr. Erdogan speaks caustically about American scheming, officials are left to wonder if Mr. Erdogan really believes what he says, or whether he is using such talk as a populist ploy. Suspicion of foreign meddling is deeply ingrained here, running back to the last days of the Ottoman Empire, when the region was, Mr. Cagaptay said, “a playing field for various foreign actors.” Mr. Cook said that in Washington “there is an intellectual understanding” that Turkish officials fall back on such conspiracy theories at times of crisis. Yet, he said that among some American policy makers, “there has been a reassessment of Erdogan and his temperament.” As with most alliances, the relationship has had its ebbs and flows over the past generation. But the current tension has a facet that was missing even in some of the most fraught episodes between the two countries, such as in 2003 when Turkey refused permission for the American military to invade Iraq across its borders, and in 2010 when it voted against United Nations sanctions on Iran.
“It’s the first time in memory that pro-government newspapers are calling for the American ambassador to leave,” Mr. Cagaptay said. “That’s unique.”

VIDEO: Anti-corruption demonstration turns violent in Istanbul

An anti-corruption demonstration in Istanbul turns violent with riot police using smoke grenades and water cannon to disperse bottle hurling protesters.

Corruption probe shakes Erdoğan government to core

The resignations of two Turkish Cabinet ministers on the morning of Dec. 25 were not something unexpected.
The names of Interior Minister Muammer Güler and Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan had been involved in a graft probe which was started on Dec. 17; a son of both have been arrested by the court on charges of taking and facilitating bribes to solve government-related problems. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of Turkey’s main opposition, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), said the resignations were “too late.”
The question was why the other two ministers whose names were involved in the probe had not resigned yet. Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar’s son had been detained in the framework of the probe, but was released later on. No one was related to European Union Minister Egemen Bağış within the investigations, but his name was mentioned a lot in relations with Iranian-origin businessmen Reza Zarrab’s affairs in Turkey. Zarrab is at the focus of the probe, regarding his transfer of gold/money to Iran via Turkey’s government-controlled Halkbank. The manager of the bank has also been arrested.
According to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan, the whole corruption probe is an “international plot” against his Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) government which has been ruling the country since 2002. When he pointed at the U.S.-originated conspiracies, he had a strong reaction from the U.S. administration so that they would not get involved in the case. (Mainly because of two reasons: Because Halkbank was too successful and the U.S. wanted to stop Turkey’s progress by hitting Halkbank, and because the moderate Islamist scholar Fethullah Gülen, who has an influence on the judicial and police system, is living in the U.S.)
But an hour before Erdoğan’s year-end address to his party executives, a big blow came from one of the ministers under accusation.
Bayraktar said in a live TV interview that he was under pressure to read out a cliché resignation statement – similar to those of Çağlayan and Güler. He resigned from both his ministerial post and from Parliament, saying he did not want to be known in future as a corrupt minister since he did everything under PM Erdoğan’s knowledge and, under the circumstances, PM Erdoğan should resign as well.
That remark had a bombshell effect on Turkish politics.
All eyes turned on Erdoğan’s speech after underlining at length the AK Parti’s successes and how the Western world was jealous about them and that this “international plot” had also targeted the government’s initiative in pursuit of a political solution to the Kurdish problem. He claimed that those who were carrying out the probe were “tools” and even “spies” of international forces. But he did not say a word about his former minister’s accusations and call for a resignation.
Whether Erdoğan is convincing at home or abroad, attention has now been directed toward a government reshuffle.
Erdoğan was to suggest new names for three ministerial posts before the corruption probe anyway, as the justice, transportation and family ministers have been named for mayoral positions for the local elections on March 30, 2014. Now we have three more resignations which widen the scope of the reshuffle to at least six. The corruption probe seems to have forced Erdoğan into a larger Cabinet reshuffle with names perhaps he had never planned before.
Erdoğan is in a dilemma. If he had sacked the ministers whose names are involved in the probe on the first day as President Abdullah Gül suggested, perhaps he could have saved his image. If now keeps the scope of the reshuffle limited, it will be understood that he could not read how serious the situation was.
The expectations in the Ankara political corridor by Tuesday afternoon were that up to 10 names in the Cabinet would change. Anyway, nothing might be as before regarding his almighty image and perhaps the all-clean image of his government he wants to highlight.

Turkish protesters urge PM’s resignation as graft scandal shakes govt

Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Turkey demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan amid a widening corruption scandal rattling his government. There are reports of tear gas and clashes with police in Istanbul. Over 5,000 people gathered in Istanbul’s Kadikoy district and some 1,000 in the Besiktas district on Wednesday, Xinhua news agency reports. Protesters have also gathered in the capital of Ankara, as well as in Izmir and other cities. Ruptly news agency says hundreds took to the streets of Istanbul.
Police in Istanbul have fired tear gas to disperse the demonstrators. At least four people have been arrested, according to Firat news agency. Late on Wednesday, Erdogan announced a major cabinet reshuffle, replacing 10 key ministers. This came soon after the resignation of interior, economy, and environment ministers over a high profile corruption investigation. Resigned Environment Minister Erdogan Bayraktar turned against the Turkish leader, urging him to step down. The scandal and ensuing feud between Erdogan and the judiciary have reignited anti-government protests against Erdogan’s 11-year rule within the past week.
The protesters rallying in Istanbul have shouted slogans such as "Three ministers' resignation is not enough, the whole government should resign," as well as " corruption is everywhere” and "resistance is everywhere," Xinhua reported.
More than 10 political parties and organizations have called for the protest.
The graft scandal poses an unprecedented challenge to his 11-year rule, which survived a massive anti-government demonstration that swept the nation in mid-2013.
Dozens of people have been arrested in the ongoing corruption investigation, including the head of state-run Halkbank. The government responded by purging police investigators describing the probe as a “dirty game.” Erdogan claimed it was a plot by foreign and other anti-government forces ahead of the March local elections.
According to Hurriyet newspaper, up to 550 police officers - including senior commanders - have been dismissed nationwide in the past week by now former Interior Minister Muammer Guler.