Wednesday, March 26, 2014
پروجيکټ سنډيکيټ نومي ادارې پر خپله ويبپاڼه د ليکوالې مي يماني مقاله خپره کړې ده چې پکې د پاکستان او سعودي عرب د اړيکو جاج اخیستل شوی دی. نوموړې په دې نږدو کې ؛د اسلام ځانګو؛ نومي کتاب هم ليکلی دی. ليکواله وايي، امريکا له تيرو څو کلونو راهيسې سعودي عرب له پامه غورځولی دی. سعودي وليدل چې امريکا په مصر کې د حسني مبارک د حکومت د راپرځولو ملاتړ وکړی او ورپسې يې بيا د اخوان المسليمن حکومت ومنلی چې دې عمل ته یې سعودي عرب د بې وفايي په سترګه وکتل. دا شان د شام په اړه امريکايي ولسمشر براک اوباما د بشارالسد د حکومت پر ضد پوځي ګام وا نخیستلی او د دې ترڅنګ امريکا له ايران سره د جوهري پروګرام په اړه د شوي عبوري تړون ملاتړ وکړ. دغو ټولو پرمختګونو سعودي عرب پر امريکا بې اعتباره کړ، ځکه دې هيواد چې کله هم خپل وجود په خطر کې ليدلی په تېره بيا په سيمه کې ايران د ځان سيال بولي نو تل يې پر بهرنيو قوتونو تکيه کړې ده. نو ليکواله پوښتنه راپورته کوي، په داسې حال کې چې اوس سعودي عرب پر امريکا نوره تکيه نشي کولی نو بيا د پوځي ځواک د ترلاسه کولو لپاره کوم لوري ته کتلی شي. د ليکوالې ځواب دا دی، پاکستان هغه هيواد دی چې سعودي عرب ور څخه تمه لري. مي يماني بيا د دواړو هيوادونو ترمينځ پر اړيکو خبره کوي او وايي تر دې وړاندې هم پاکستان په پوځي برخه کې تل د سعودي عرب خدمت کړی دی. کله چې په ۱۹۷۹ کال کې په ايران کې انقلاب راغلی نو پاکستان سعودي عرب ته نږدې دېرش زره پوځيان ولېږل چې بيا د اتيايمې لسيزې تر نيمايي پوري هلته دېره ول. دا شان په ۱۹۹۱م کال کې د خليج جګړې پر وخت سعودي عرب په زرګونو پاکستاني پوځيان برتي کړي ول. د دې ترڅنګ د روان کال په پيل کې د سعودي عرب د بهرنيو چارو وزير سعود الفيصل او شهزاده سلمان د اسلام اباد سفر وکړ، چې مقصد يې د دواړو هيوادونو ترمينځ په ګډه د وسلو جوړولو په اړه شوی پوځي تړون بيا تازه کول وو. ليکواله يمي يماني پوښتنه راپورته کوي چې سعودي عرب ولې پاکستان ته مخ ګرځولی دی او دا کار اوس ولې کوي؟ ليکواله وايي، سعودي عرب د ايران او ترکي په څېر پاکستان هم د منځني ختيځ يو پياوړی طاقت ګڼي. له ايران او ترکي سره د سعودي عرب مذهبي او تاريخي اختلافات دي خو له پاکستان سره یې داسې هېڅ ډول اختلاف نشته. د ليکوالې په وينا له کله چې پاکستان جوړ شوی دی، له هغه راهیسې سعودي عرب په دې هېواد کې ډيره سرمايه کاري کړې ده. پاکستاني مشرانو له لومړی ورځې له سعودي عربه د ملاتړ غوښتنه کړې او په ځواب کې سعودي پاکستان ته وهابي سوچ لېږدولی دی چې په نتيجه کې يې په پاکستان کې اسلامي انتهاپسندي او د طالبانو په شکل کې فرقه ییزه تشدد زيات شوی دی. د ليکوالې په خبره دا شان سعودي عرب د پاکستان په جوهري پروګرام کې هم سرمايه کاري کړې ده او تمه لري چې د ضرورت پر وخت به له دې ګټه پورته کړي. بله خبره دا دی چې پاکستان چې تر اوسه څومره پوځيان هم سعودي عرب ته لېږلي دي، سعودي ورته د وفاداره عسکرو په سترګه کتلي دي. که څه هم د پاکستان په پوځ کې دېرش فيصده پوځيان له شیيعه مسلک سره تړاو لري خو سعودي عرب به يوازې د سني عسکرو د ورلېږلو غوښتنه کوله. ليکواله پر مخ ليکي له دې پرته سعودي دا پلان هم لري چې پاکستان د خليج همکارۍ سازمان د ګډ پوځي ځواک لپاره د ملا د تير په توګه استعمال کړي. په ۲۰۰۱ م کال کې په بحرين کې د شیيعه پاڅون د وهلو لپاره په شوو عملياتو کې پاکستاني ځواکونو د سعودي عرب په قومانده کې استعمال کړل شو او اوس سعودي له پاکستانه يو داسې تيار پوځ غواړي چې کله هم او چيرې هم په خليج کې اسلام پاله او شیيعه ګان را پارېږي نو هغه و ځپي. د ليکوالې په خبره که چرته سعودي له جدي خطره په تيره بيا له ايران سره په شخړه کې ښکيل شي نو پاکستان به دې هيواد ته د تحفظ ورکولو وړانديز وکړي. خو دلته ليکواله مي يماني پوښتنه راپورته کوي چې ايا په رښتيا هم پاکستان پتېره بيا له ايران سره د جګړې پر وخت د سعودي عرب امنيت پياوړی کولی شي؟ په ځواب کې ليکواله وايي، په پاکستان کې کورنۍ ترهګرۍ دغه هيواد ډیر ضعيف کړی دی. په داسې حال کې د دې هيواد پوځ نه يوازې د داخلي امن و امان په ساتلو بلکې له هند سره جګړي ته تيارياني نيسې نو د سعودي عرب په دفاع کې د ښکيلتيا صلاحيت نلري. ددې ترڅنګ که چرته پاکستان د فرقه ییزې جګړې په لړ کې د سعودي عرب ملاتړ وکړي نو د دې هيواد په پوځ کې موجودو شیيعه ګانو کې به نا ارامي را پيدا شي. دا شان پيپلز پارټۍ هم له ايران سره شريکې ګټې لري. نو د ليکوالې په خبره له پاکستان سره د نږدو پوځي اړيکو سټراټيجیک اهميت تر سوال لاندې دی نو په داسې حالاتو کې د سعودي عرب لپاره لاره تنګه ده. د ده په خبره د قطر له لوري له اخوان لمسلمين سره د ملګرتيا وروسته د دې هيواد له خليج همکارۍ سازمانه وتل او دا شان د عمان پخپله خوښه سازمان پرېښودل، او له دې سره سره د سعودي عرب له امريکا سره مخ په زياتېدونکې ژوره بې باوري په دې هيواد کې د يوازيتوب ويره زياته کړې ده. ليکواله مي يماني په پای کې ليکي په داسې حال کې چې پاکستان د خپل وجود له جدي خطر سره مخامخ دی، څنګه د يو بل چا ښه ملګری جوړېدای شي خو د دې هر څه سربېره د ليکوالې په خبره سعودي عرب اوس په يو داسې حالت کې دی چې له دې بغير بله لاره هم نلري.
http://www.bernama.com/"I love you" were the last words that MH370 flight steward Mohd Hazrin Hasnan uttered to his wife just hours before the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) aircraft was reported missing on March 8. The words will forever be ingrained in the memory of Intan Maizura Othaman, 34. Recalling the last few hours before the disappearance of MH370, Intan Maizura who is pregnant with their second child said Mohd Hazrin had missed the vehicle provided by MAS for its staff that night, March 7. She said her husband who was very committed to his responsibilities requested her to send him to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang. "During the journey, we had the usual conversation and Mohd Hazrin held my hand and kissed it. 'I love you' were his last words," she said when met at her residence here Wednesday night. Intan Maizura said her son Iman, 4, had been asking after his dad prior to the announcement on Monday by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak that the MH370 flight ended in the southern Indian Ocean. "The following day I told Iman that his father had gone to work and the plane that he was on had malfunctioned so he would not be returning home as he is now in heaven," she said.
The March 24 decision by seven major industrial countries (the G7) to suspend Russia from the informal grouping called the G8 is not surprising in view of Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian province of Crimea. Specifically, the G7 announced in what it called the Hague Declaration — made on the sidelines of the global Nuclear Security Summit — that it would not attend the forthcoming G8 summit in Sochi and would instead meet as the G7 in Brussels; it has also threatened “co-ordinated sectoral sanctions” if Moscow continues to “escalate this situation.” Russia has been a G8 participant since 1998, under a general plan to strengthen East-West relations. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had earlier shrugged off the possibility of expulsion, pointing out that as the G8 has no formal membership no country can be expelled from it; in addition, the Ukrainian embassy in the Netherlands has reported Mr. Lavrov as saying Russia had no intention of using military force in eastern and southern Ukraine, and that if the situation worsens, Ukrainian-Russian contacts will occur at the foreign ministry and defence ministry levels. The G7 decision is, however, open to exploitation. To start with, the G7 has apparently accepted the appointment of many Ukrainian ministers with neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic backgrounds. Secondly, NATO has asserted that Russia plans a Crimea-type move for the autonomous Moldovan territorial unit of Transnistria, where Russian is the official language and the most widely used one; Moscow rejected a 2006 poll there showing that 96 per cent of the population favoured joining Russia. NATO, needless to say, has often tried to justify its own existence since the Soviet Union collapsed; the Warsaw Treaty Organisation (the Warsaw Pact) had a 2004 dissolution date, but NATO has no such limit. Western militaries and arms manufacturers also stand to benefit from another Cold War. Former British Chief of Staff Lord Dannatt has called for a new brigade of 3,000 troops to be sent to Germany, while current plans are to remove all 20,000 such troops from that deployment, which dates from 1945. Given that European Union countries buy Russian oil and natural gas for hard currency, anti-Russian sanctions mean that western oil corporations will welcome British Prime Minister David Cameron’s immediate call for more fracking, which is a highly controversial activity in his country. Financial bodies, nevertheless, may not like sanctions; Visa and MasterCard have resumed services to customers of Russia’s SMP Bank. The G7 move, in sum, is less principled than it might look, and western legislatures must scrutinise their respective executives closely over their handling of the Ukraine crisis.
A court in Bahrain has handed jail terms of up to 10 years to 29 anti-regime protesters as the ruling Al Khalifa regime continues its heavy-handed crackdown on dissidents. On Wednesday, 26 of the defendants were given 10-year prison terms while three others were jailed for three years. The prosecution accused the men of being behind an attack with petrol bombs and iron rods on a police center in the village of Sitra, south of Manama, in April 2012. A policeman was wounded in the incident. The defendants, however, dismissed the accusations, insisting that they were tortured and their confessions were obtained under duress. Renowned photojournalist, Ahmed Humaidan, who has won 145 international awards in photographic competitions, was among those convicted. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights says the charges brought against Humaidan are solely related to his work as a photographer and his activity in exposing severe human rights violations by the authorities in Bahrain. Bahraini uprising started in mid-February 2011. On March 13 that year, forces from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were dispatched to the country at Manama’s request to quell nationwide protests. Scores of Bahrainis have been killed and hundreds injured and jailed by the regime forces since the uprising broke out. Last month, Amnesty International denounced the “relentless repression” of anti-regime protesters in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom, blaming Bahraini security forces for their repeated use of “excessive force to quash anti-government protests.” On February 14, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on the Bahraini regime to respect its “international human rights obligations” in dealing with peaceful protests in the country.
By Halimullah Kousary
Afghanistan is on the cusp of its first ever non-violent transition of power in its modern history. On 5 April 2014, the third presidential election since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001 will be held. What are the prospects for reconciliation with the Taliban?
AFGHANISTAN HAS come a long way politically since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. It held two presidential elections in 2004 and 2009, and is slated to hold the third on 5 April 2014, which will transfer power to a new president. Hamid Karzai, after serving his two constitutional terms, is the first elected president to hand over leadership of the state to his successor without being ousted and/or pushed into exile. This shift signifies the growing liberalisation and maturity of the Afghan political elite.Evolution of political order In their quest for victory, various political groups have forged alliances beyond ethnicities, regions and political dogmas, forming their presidential teams with the support of former foes. The nine presidential contestants and their teams comprise politicians and power brokers from different backgrounds. They include western-educated technocrats, former Mujahideens and communists. The technocrats with a relatively weak support base have allied with Mujahideens to benefit from their large constituencies across the country. These alliances are an important sign of the gradual evolution of the current political order in Afghanistan with policies and services taking precedence over personalities and political groups; once male-dominated, they have now become gender-inclusive. One major factor for this has been the growing level of political awareness among Afghan women and youth. Women began voting in the 2004 and 2009 elections and will do likewise in the 2014 election. Their exposure over the last one decade has rendered their role in the broader political spectrum significant and thus created a need for women participation in elections and their membership in the political groups. Young Afghans, symbolising moderate and pluralistic forces in the country, with many of them educated abroad, constitute the majority of the population. Youth participation in previous elections has driven high voter registration and voter turnout and youths have developed into a core constituency that will be decisive in the 2014 election. Legitimacy of future government However, while a milestone in the fledgling democratisation process, the 2014 election could also lead to an unfavourable aftermath that Afghanistan cannot afford at this critical juncture if it is marred by malpractice. During its two terms since 2004, the incumbent Afghan government no doubt made headway in certain fundamental areas but due to corruption and malpractice in the 2009 election, the government failed to deliver good governance and create a sense of belonging among the population. The chief concern among Afghans about the coming election is not about which team wins or loses, as there is no major difference in the contestants’ positions on principal issues facing Afghanistan today. They all recognise the need for continued presence of American forces in Afghanistan beyond 2014, and in the meantime want to bring the Taliban to the negotiation table with or without Pakistan’s support. These are the two issues that Afghans in general expect the future government to work on. The concern, however, seems to be whether the 2014 election will be free and fair given the existing security landscape in the country and the Taliban’s continued belligerence. The Taliban portrayed the 2014 election as “the latest plot of invaders” to install a “new puppet government”. They have intensified attacks on campaign rallies and distributed letters in provinces warning them against voting. Already, at least 408 of more than 7,000 polling centres remain closed and people in 62 districts of 15 provinces would be unable to vote due to high security risks. Need for unity The 2009 election was a precedent. The security threats reduced the voter turnout by more the 50 percent from 2004. This led to the massive ballot box stuffing in the 2009 polls. Given that the 2014 election will be held under a worse security condition than in 2009, it would be unrealistic to expect a 100 percent fraud-free election. But fraud committed on a massive scale will without a doubt undermine the legitimacy of the new government. It could drive the various political groups into mutual recriminations and disunity at a time when Afghanistan needs a government with a strong mandate and a supportive opposition to fight the hostile and foreign-backed Taliban.
U.S. first lady Michelle Obama concludes her one-week trip to China visiting a giant panda research base and having lunch with her family in a Tibetan restaurant in south-western city of Chengdu before returning home.
www.shiitenews.comBahraini forces have once again attacked anti-regime protesters with tear gas and stun grenades as demonstrations continue in various parts of the country. Demonstrations have against the unrelenting crackdown on pro-democracy uprising continued in several villages across the tiny Persian Gulf country. Anti-regime demonstrations were also held in the villages of A’ali, Samahich, and Diraz, as well as on the island of Sitra, east of the capital Manama. According to reports, Bahraini riot police used force to disperse protesters in the village of al-Aker. The protesters reportedly expressed solidarity with detainees, condemning the “unjust sentences” against them. Almost daily protests have been held against the Al Khalifa regime since February 2011, when thousands of pro-democracy protesters took to the streets, calling for the royal family to leave power. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates invaded the country to assist the Bahraini government in its crackdown on peaceful protesters. Local sources say scores of people have been killed and hundreds arrested since the start of the uprising. Last month, Amnesty International censured Bahrain’s “relentless repression” of anti-regime protesters, saying Bahraini security forces “repeatedly” use “excessive force to quash anti-government protests.” On February 14, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also called on Manama to respect its “international human rights obligations” in dealing with peaceful protests in the country.
http://gulfnews.com/A SAUDI WOMAN woman had been refused medical assistance in the absence of a male relative. Dr Salma Al Shihab reportedly made an urgent call requesting a Saudi Red Crescent ambulance to take her to hospital, but the operator upon learning that she had no male relative with her told her that they could not send her the vehicle. The patient said that she felt an acute pain early in the evening, but she thought that it would gradually disappear. However, by 4am, she could no longer stand the pain and had difficulties speaking or moving her head, local Arabic daily Okaz reported on Tuesday. Unable to go out at that time to look for a taxi, particularly that she lived alone, she called the Red Crescent Society. The operator asked a series of questions about the symptoms and the location of her home. When she informed him that she lived alone, he reportedly told her that they could not send an ambulance to a woman who did not have a male relative with her. Salma added that the operator asked her to wait for some time before he resumed the conversation to tell her there were no instructions to dispatch ambulances to women without male relatives. “At that moment, I recalled asking myself if we women should die in such cases,” Salma said. “I used my mobile to look for a vehicle that would transport me to hospital and I eventually reached the medical facility after 15 minutes. On my way, I did get several phone calls from fixed lines, but I was not in a physical condition to answer them,” she said. In February, Saudi Arabia was shocked by media reports that a female university student died of a heart attack after medics were prevented from entering the all-women college to rescue her. According to the reports, the young girl suffered the attack at about 11am but was not able to see the ambulance crews until 12.45pm. The university later denied the claims.
On Friday, President Obama will travel to the intolerant, feudal land of Saudi Arabia for consultations of some sort. Instead of bowing again to the local satrap, he should be getting in his face about his country’s oppression of Christians. According to Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, Saudi Arabia is uniquely hostile, even among Muslim nations, to its Christian population and any Christians who happen to find themselves there.
Saudi Arabia is the only state in the world to ban all churches and any other non-Muslim houses of worship. While Saudi nationals are all “officially” Muslim, some two to three million foreign Christians live in the kingdom, many for decades. They have no rights to practice their faith. The Saudi government has ignored Vatican appeals for a church to serve this community, despite the fact that in 1973 Pope Paul VI approved a proposal for the Roman city council to donate city lands for a grand mosque in Rome. The mosque, opened in 1995, is among the largest in Europe. Christian foreign workers in Saudi Arabia can only pray together clandestinely. Religious-police dragnets against scores of Ethiopian house-church Christians, mostly poor women working as maids, demonstrate the perils of worshiping: arrest, monthslong detention and abuse, and eventual deportation. Distributing Bibles in Saudi Arabia is illegal. The fanatical intolerance of everything Christian extends to a crackdown on red roses on Valentine’s Day. Visiting European soccer teams with cross logos must blur the icon on team jerseys. At one holiday party in the American school in Riyadh, a Santa Claus had to jump through a window to escape religious police, according to Mr. Eid’s account.
The Saudis need us more than usual right now. They are paralyzed at the notion that Iran will obtain nuclear weapons, as they should be. Obama should prey on their fear and inform them that they must stop the oppression of Christians and allow them to worship and build churches. Obama upon arriving in Saudi Arabia will have just alighted from the Vatican. Hopefully, the Pope will remind the president of his stipulation, made just last month at the National Prayer Breakfast, that “promoting religious freedom is a key objective of U.S. foreign policy.” Unfortunately, I’d wager the man who did this in 2009 is unlikely to arise and start twisting Saudi arms.
The recent claim by King Abdullah’s former wife Alanoud Al Fayez that her daughters are locked up in a compound in Jeddah not only gives us an insight into the House of Saudi royals, but it validates the fact that women in Saudi Arabia are second-class citizens who cannot make any decisions without the approval of a male guardian.
The alleged details of the story reveals that the king has given his sons control over the daughters. They are not allowed any visitors or staff members and they cannot travel abroad. One of them, Hala, has serious mental health problems.
In Saudi Arabia women are treated as minors by the law which means they are unable to make any decision without the permission of their male guardians. The law stands behind any man who may stop a woman from going out of the house to work or get educated. The eldest daughter Princess Sahar, who contacted Channel 4 News reporter Fatima Manji via email, summed up what it means to be a woman and living in Saudi Arabia:
“Women and children (in Saudi Arabia) are abused, while their male guardian enjoy privileges granted by the court in cases of domestic abuse. Princes and the elite entourage are protected and the victims and their families suffer injustice.”This ugly reality mocks the image of a nation cited as the citadel of Islam. The Guardians (members of the House of Saud) of the two holy cities of Islam are made to appear upholding Islamic principles which preach that men and women are equal before God. But there is no existence of this as a reality in the country. In a recent ad campaign made ostensibly to highlight violence against women, the government is shown as the ‘good guy’. The campaign sights domestic violence as a social issue which does not require legislation to deter men from violence. It encourages the notion that the responsibility should be in the hands of individuals – men should restrain from abusing women and actions have to be steered to allow women to talk about abuse and go to shelters. Around 9 million women in Saudi Arabia don’t have the right to drive without the permission of their male custodians. This, despite King Abdullah’s claim that he is a reformist and supporter of human rights. In an interview with ABC News in October 2005, he said, “I believe the day will come when women drive”. However any protest is seen as challenging the existing status-quo. Saudi rulers also heavily rely on the support of the clerics, some of whom believe women damage their ovaries by driving. Saudi Arabia’s status as a large oil-producing nation means things are unlikely to change any time soon. The high profile foreign dignitaries and diplomats meeting King Abdullah are not likely to raise concerns about the reports from Amnesty International on torture, intolerance and oppression, and Prince Charles will happily perform sword dances and meet the first women members of the Shura. None of this will bring about the empowerment of women in Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah recently instructed the Saudi health ministry to arrange for surgery to separate a pair of Syrian Siamese twins after a request by their parents. Surely, then, it is not too much to ask for him to consider the plight of his own daughters – and with them, the women of Saudi Arabia.
254,681 of people thronged at the National Parade Ground on Wednesday to sing the national anthem together marking the country’s 44th Independence Day. People from all walks of life gathered there with the national flag for taking part in “Lakho Konthe Sonar Bangla” with a view to set a new record in the Guinness World Records. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also joined the 254,681 attendants at national parade square for the chorus at 11am on Wednesday morning. Earlier, Bangladesh set a Guinness World Record with the creation of the world’s largest human national flag using 27,117 people though an initiative of Robi Axiata Limited and Bangladesh Army.
http://www.thedailystar.net/TODAY the nation enters its 44th year of independence. In the face of the recurrent disruptions and instabilities attributable mostly to fractious politics, the economy has performed eminently well, thanks to the resilience of the peasants, the migrant workers and the never-say-die entrepreneurs. Thus Bangladesh remains a global wonder considering the achievements in its socio-economic sectors, especially in the areas of education, women empowerment, reducing child mortality and so on. The same strength has been shown by the manufacturing industries, particularly those geared to exports such as the garment sector. But that should be no reason for complacency, for had our politics not been in such a bad shape, we might meanwhile have become a nation marching shoulder to shoulder with many of our very successful neghbours in Southeast Asia. So, the biggest stumbling block before realising our full economic potential remains the confrontational politics. If elections are an indicator of the political health of a nation, the recently held national election and local government polls at the upazila levels will provide little satisfaction on that count. This does not bode well for the future of our democracy. At this point, we need to remember that we fought the liberation war to achieve the twin goals of political independence with pluralistic democracy and economic emancipation based on egalitarian principles. But we have drifted from those cherished goals in some important respects, if only through our contentious, self-destructive politics. Let us make a fresh pledge and start at the crack of this new dawn of 44th Independence Day: bury the past discord and build a democratic future based on an equal opportunity society.
Russian President Vladimir Putin's approval rating has reached 80 percent, with a majority of Russians saying the country is heading in the right direction, an independent pollster said Wednesday. A poll by the Levada Center said public support for the Russian leader rose by 8 percent since Putin delivered an address to parliament on Crimea before the predominantly Russian-speaking region rejoined Russia last week. Levada said Putin's approval rating peaked at 85 percent in spring 2008, when Dmitry Medvedev, now prime minister, succeeded him as president. Another poll by Levada last week said a majority of Russians believe their country is a great power and an important player in the international arena. Some 63 percent of respondents said modern Russia has regained the status of a superpower, the highest level in the history of the poll, conducted by the Levada Center since the 2000s. Putin was named International Person of the Year by Britain's The Times newspaper in December, for succeeding in his ambition of reestablishing Moscow as a critical player in solving international problems. According to the poll released Wednesday, only 18 percent of respondents did not approve of Putin's performance as president. The survey was conducted March 21-24 among 1,600 respondents across 130 cities in Russia. The statistical margin of error was 3.4 percent.
The European Union was set to press U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday to help reduce Europe's reliance on Russian energy by exporting U.S. natural gas, as relations with Moscow chill over its intervention in Ukraine. Obama began his visit to Belgium by visiting the Flanders Field American war cemetery, visiting the graves of some of the 368 U.S. service members, most killed during World War One. His visit and the symbolism of transatlantic unity had added resonance at a time when tensions in Europe are running high because of Russia's military occupation and annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region. "This hallowed ground reminds us that we must never, ever take our progress for granted. We must commit perennially to peace, which binds us across oceans," Obama said. He drew a parallel with today's drive to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons, "the same kinds of weapons that were used to such devastating effect on these very fields". "We thought we had banished their use to history and our efforts send a powerful message that these weapons have no place in a civilised world," he said. Obama was due to have just 75 minutes over lunch with the EU's top officials to tackle issues such as energy security and climate change alongside the most immediate concern, Ukraine. If there were any doubts about the EU-U.S. relationship after last year's revelations that Washington was spying on its allies, Obama planned to assuage them later in the day, in a speech to some 2,000 guests, before leaving for Rome. "Right now, as we look around the world, there is a powerful reason for Europe and the United States to come together to demonstrate that they can take their relationship to a new level," Obama's top trade envoy, Michael Froman, said during a visit to Brussels before the summit. ENERGY RELIANCE During Obama's visit to The Hague this week, the United States and Germany, France, Britain and Italy, along with Japan and Canada, warned Russia that it faced damaging economic sanctions if it took further action to destabilise Ukraine. The EU has already stepped up efforts to reduce its reliance on Russia, which provides around one third of the EU's oil and gas. Some 40 percent of that gas is shipped through Ukraine. EU leaders dedicated part of a summit to the issue last week and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she supported asking Obama to relax restrictions on exports of U.S. gas. One way to do that is through the proposed free-trade agreement between the United States and the European Union, which would be the world's biggest accord of its kind, dubbed the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP. "We should have an ambitious chapter on energy in the TTIP," EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, who was due to attend the summit, said at the weekend, referring to EU demands for a clear framework setting out U.S. commitments on gas exports. The issue will also be discussed next week at a special EU-U.S. Energy Council, officials said. In the wake of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, EU governments and the Obama administration see a deep and broad free-trade deal as the best way to create jobs, removing burdens and customs duties on businesses. They say a trade pact encompassing almost half the world's economy could generate $100 billion in additional economic output a year on both sides of the Atlantic and set the standards for global business before China does. The European Union and the United States already trade almost $3 billion in goods and services each day and, by intensifying economic ties, the pact could create a market of 800 million people where business could be done freely. PUBLIC HOSTILITY But eight months into talks, public hostility is growing at the idea of unfettered transatlantic commerce, while negotiators remain far apart on many issues. Around 50 campaigners against the TTIP protested outside the European Parliament on Wednesday, wearing giant Obama masks and waving banners reading 'No Gmo (genetically modified organisms) in our food' and 'TTIP - stop the secrecy!'. "What is at stake is the safety of our food and the environment," said EU lawmaker Philippe Lamberts, a member of the Belgian Green party. "Worse, this trade deal is an instrument to allow big companies to do as they wish and trample legislation or write it themselves with lobbyists." Reports of U.S. National Security Agency spying in Europe have combined with concerns about the damage to food safety and the environment under a free-trade pact. In both the United States and Europe, unions also worry about job losses or reductions in working standards, and say that a trade pact will serve the interests only of multinational companies. Inside the negotiating rooms, other difficult issues include removing customs duties that cost companies billions of dollars each year, particularly automakers such as Ford and Volkswagen. Washington and Brussels have been at odds over an initial exchange of offers to open up markets and cut tariffs, with each saying the other has not been ambitious enough. In an effort to overcome that, Obama, along with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy will promise to remove all tariffs on bilateral trade, according to a draft of the summit's joint declaration seen by Reuters. ($1 = 0.7255 Euros)
“A key question, however, is how using Syria as a launching pad to strike the West fits into Zawahri’s overall strategy, and if he’s soft-pedaling now, hoping to consolidate Al Qaeda’s position for the future,” said one American counterterrorism official. “Clearly, there is going to be push and pull between local operatives and Al Qaeda central on attack planning. How fast the pendulum will swing toward trying something isn’t clear right now.”
The new assessment is not likely to change American policy toward Syria any time soon, but it puts pressure on the Obama administration and its allies because it raises the possibility that Syria could become the next Afghanistan.
Top officials at the F.B.I., the National Counterterrorism Center and the Department of Homeland Security say they are working closely with European allies to track Westerners returning from Syria.
There are perhaps “a few dozen” Qaeda veterans of fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan in Syria, two top counterterrorism officials said. “What we’ve seen is a coalescence in Syria of Al Qaeda veterans from Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as extremists from other hot spots such as Libya and Iraq,” Matthew G. Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, told a Senate panel in March. “From a terrorism perspective, the most concerning development is that Al Qaeda has declared Syria its most critical front.” In his first speech as secretary of Homeland Security in February, Jeh C. Johnson put it even more bluntly. “Syria has become a matter of homeland security,” he said. The Qaeda veterans have multiple missions and motivations, counterterrorism officials say. Like thousands of other foreign fighters, many have been drawn on their own to Syria to fight the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Many others, like Abu Khalid al-Suri, a Syrian-born veteran of Al Qaeda, were sent by the terrorist group’s central command in Pakistan first to fight Mr. Assad, but also to begin laying the groundwork to use enclaves in Syria to launch attacks against the West, American officials said.
Mr. Suri, who is believed to have been close to Osama bin Laden and to have fought against American forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, was sent to mediate conflicts between Al Qaeda’s main affiliate in Syria, the Nusra Front, and another extremist faction, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which Al Qaeda has disavowed. He was killed in a suicide attack in February by the rival group.Many of the Qaeda planners and operatives from Afghanistan and Pakistan have clustered in the east and northwest sections of Syria, in territory controlled or heavily influenced by the Nusra Front, intelligence officials said. Sanafi al-Nasr, a Saudi-born extremist who is on his country’s list of most wanted terrorists, traveled to Syria from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region late last year and emerged as one of the Nusra Front’s top strategists. Jihadi forums reported that he was killed in fighting last week, but American counterterrorism officials said those reports could not be confirmed. “Al Qaeda veterans could have a critical impact on recruitment and training,” said Laith Alkhouri, a senior analyst at Flashpoint Global Partners, a security consulting firm that tracks militant websites. “They would be lionized, at least within the ranks, as experienced mujahedeen.” While these senior Qaeda envoys have been involved in the immediate fight against Syrian forces, American counterterrorism officials said they also had broader, longer-term ambitions. Without naming Mr. Nasr, James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, told a Senate panel in February that a “small nucleus” of Qaeda veterans from Afghanistan and Pakistan in Syria who are “separate from al-Nusra harbor designs on attacks in Europe and the homeland.”
Charles Lister, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar, agreed, saying, “The large majority of Al Qaeda-linked commanders now in Syria are there due to the potential for Syria to be the next jihadist safe haven.” Hassan Abu Hanieh, a Jordanian expert on Islamist movements, said that launching attacks on Western targets did not appear to be a priority for the Nusra Front now. However, the group’s ideology, or a belief that it was under direct threat, could lead it to attack the West eventually, he said. “As soon as they get targeted, they will move the battle outside,” Mr. Hanieh said.
farsnews.comUN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed deep sorrow over the killing of an Iranian border guard by Jeish Al-Adl terrorist group, and called for more international efforts to bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice. "The secretary general condemns the killing of one of the five Iranian border guards who were abducted on 6 February in the country's Southeast border region by a militant group," Ban's spokesman said in a statement issued on Tuesday. He added that the UN chief “expresses his solidarity” with the Iranian government and people, “who are confronted with this appalling act amid the annual Nowruz (the Persian New Year) celebrations held to commemorate in peace the start of a new year.” The UN secretary general sends his condolences to the family of the slain guard, the statement read. Ban “calls for the perpetrators to be brought to justice,” it added. “He hopes for the success of the ongoing efforts by the government of Iran to achieve the release of those who remain captive,” the spokesman said. On Monday night, the Iranian Interior Ministry confirmed the reports that Jeish al-Adl terrorist group has killed one of the five Iranian border guards. "The local officials (in Pakistan) have confirmed the report on the martyrdom of one of the abducted Iranian border guards by Jeish al-Adl terrorist group," Interior Ministry Spokesman Hossein Ali Amiri told FNA on Monday night. He made the remarks after Jeish al-Adl claimed on its tweeter page that it has killed Jamshid Danayeefar, one of the kidnapped border guards. The execution of the border guard came as an Iranian official said on Sunday that efforts and consultations with the Pakistani officials still continue to secure the release of the border guards. "Talks with national and local Pakistani officials have been held at different levels and they have made some promises," Governor-General of Iran's Southeastern Sistan and Balouchestan province Ali Awsat Hashemi told FNA. He expressed the hope that the young border guards would be released to return to their families soon. The five Iranian border guards were abducted in Jakigour region of Iran’s Sistan and Balouchestan Province on February 6 and taken to Pakistan. Jeish al-Adl later claimed responsibility for their abduction. The terrorist group released a photo of the kidnapped border guards on its Tweeter page and claimed the responsibility for their abduction on February 8. Earlier reports had already revealed that the abducted soldiers had been transferred to Pakistan which has a long border with Iran in the Southeastern parts of the country. On February 11, Iran called on Pakistani officials to arrest and extradite the members of the terrorist Jeish al-Adl group. “Unfortunately, we are witnessing the abduction of 5 Iranian border guards by the terrorist groups,” Afkham said in her weekly press conference in Tehran at the time. Afkham elaborated on the measures taken by Iran in pursuit of the fate of the 5 border guards, and said Tehran's officials have paid visits to Pakistan, summoned Islamabad’s ambassador to Tehran to the foreign ministry and called for the country’s serious action to control the border regions. “We also want them to identify the abductors of the border guards and extradite them to the Iranian officials and we are ready to cooperate with Pakistan to establish security at the borders and fight outlawed and terrorist groups in Pakistan,” she underlined. On February 9, Iran’s Police Chief Brigadier General Esmayeel Ahmadi Moqaddam voiced concern over the presence of terrorist groups in Pakistan's territories, and underlined that Iran's police along with the Foreign Ministry are resolved to do their best to clear the fate of the five Iranian guards. Ahmadi Moqaddam criticized the performance of the Pakistani government and its border police in areas close to Iran. The Islamic Republic has asked Interpol to prosecute those behind the abduction. Meanwhile, Iranian and international activists have launched a campaign known as “Free Iranian Soldiers” on social media websites, calling for the release of the border guards. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called for an investigation into the incident, tasking the Foreign Ministry with taking the necessary measures to implement a border security agreement with Pakistan. Iran has repeatedly called on Pakistan to comply with the terms of the agreement. On February 15, Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli held Pakistan accountable for the kidnapping of the five Iranian border guards. On October 25, 2013, Jeish al-Adl killed 14 Iranian border guards and wounded six others in the border region near the city of Saravan in Sistan and Balouchestan. In February 2013, Iran and Pakistan signed a security agreement under which both countries are required to cooperate in preventing and combating organized crime, fighting terrorism and countering the activities that pose a threat to the national security of either country.
Iran’s foreign minister says the Iranian nation expects the Pakistani government to secure the release of Iranian border guards held hostage by a terrorist group in Pakistan. “The Pakistani government knows pretty well that the government and people of Iran expect the life of our hostages in Pakistan to be protected so that they would return to their families safe and sound and unscathed…as soon as possible,” Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters in Tehran on Wednesday. The Iranian minister’s remarks come after Jaish-ul-Adl terrorist group, which abducted five Iranian border guards in February and took them to Pakistan, announced that it has killed one of the hostages. “It is regrettable that Pakistan has failed to establish sufficient security in the country and the terrorists have managed to take advantage of this void,” Zarif added. He expressed hope that historically friendly ties between Iran and Pakistan would encourage Islamabad to follow up on the issue of hostages more seriously. In February 2013, Iran and Pakistan signed a security agreement under which both countries are required to cooperate in preventing and combating organized crime, fighting terrorism and countering the activities that pose a threat to the national security of either country. Iran has repeatedly called on Pakistan to comply with the terms of the agreement. It is not the first time Jaish-ul-Adl has carried out attacks against Iranian security forces. On October 25, 2013, the group killed 14 Iranian border guards and wounded six others in the border region near the city of Saravan in Sistan and Baluchestan Province.
Chairperson Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Zohra Yousuf has said the Geo Tv program ‘Aalim Online’, hosted by Amir Liaqat Hussain, was spreading religious disharmony in the country, ARY News reported Tuesday. Addressing a symposium at a local hotel in Karachi, Ms Yousuf said minorities were demeaned and murdered in the past due to ‘Aalim Online’. She said Aamir Liaquat was spreading religious disharmony through his show ‘Aalim Online’. HRCP chairperson said minorities were killed in three districts of Sindh due to hatred spread through ‘Aalim Online’. She said that airing religious conversion on a live TV show was a violation of human rights. Ms Yousuf said religious parties hijacked the Pakistan Day, while electronic media was providing extraordinary coverage to Taliban and other militants.
Our policymaking institutions appear to be split over trade with India. One faction wants to wait for the new government to be elected in India, before the commitments are made by Pakistan to accord non-discriminatory market access (NDMA) regime status to India; while the other segment wants the government to go ahead and meet the commitments/assurances given by Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan on his last visit to India while the Congress-led government is in power and not wait for the coming general elections in India. Obviously those who resist enhanced trade with our eastern neighbour would use any pretext to delay the grant of NDMA status. The opposition lobby comprises both; businessmen (who fear that opening of trade with India would adversely affect their business) as well as present and past top military generals who would plausibly seek to link it with other disputes between the two nuclear armed neighbours. It is no secret that indirect trade between India and Pakistan is taking place in big way; and this mode of trade that takes place via a third country just raises the cost of goods with middlemen charging for circuitous routes. Direct trade would eliminate the middlemen and lower the cost of goods imported to the benefit of consumers. In addition, it would be worthwhile to remember that policymaking in India is more or less an institutionalised chore and the civil service there can override politicians anytime. Therefore, a change in government in India after the elections would have a marginal effect on the state of relations between the two countries. So let us stop confusing the nation as well as our neighbours. Once we make a promise we need to adhere to it. Trade relations need not be held hostage to the machinations of civil and military bureaucracy on both sides. The Reserve Bank of India is waiting for the central government's 'NOC' to give permission to Pakistani banks to set up branches. SBP is ready to give permission to three Indian banks - but waiting for reciprocity. This bureaucratic rigmarole is a prime example of how decisions and plans run into snags. India needs to open up its trade with its immediate neighbours - as enunciated in the Gujral doctrine. India will always run large trade surplus with its smaller neighbours (in the Saarc) as its industry enjoys economies of scale. Pakistan retains the option under the World Trade Order (WTO) to put countervailing duties as well as anti-dumping protective duties if any sector or industries are being adversely affected. In any trade opening there are bound to be some winners as well as losers. However, consumers are always among the winners as they get goods at lower prices. If Pakistani industry can survive after a free trade agreement between China and Pakistan - so can it with opening of trade with the Indians. The only sine qua non is drastic liberalisation of the visa regime as well as creation of more trading posts for quicker and shorter access to the markets on both sides of the border. A stable and economically stronger Pakistan will be a guarantee of good neighbourly relations as well as betterment of people on both sides. Tensions arising from unsavoury actions of non-state actors as well as intelligence agencies need not hold hostage the composite dialogue to resolve all issues in a peaceful manner. That non-state actors with their official handlers, on both sides, choose actions that make a big impact to attract media attention and reinforce forces who do not still countenance the partition of subcontinent. They derive a new strength from every stalemate that the two countries hit. Let us learn to ignore them. And instead, concentrate on working for peace and development to improve the quality of life of our people. Giving NDMA status needs to be de-linked with any 'transit' facility. India needs to ensure easier access to Pakistani exports to its market and at the same time, Pakistan needs to allow and encourage Indian investment. Increased mutual dependence will force Islamabad and New Delhi to improve their bilateral ties in an effective and meaningful manner. Last but not least, both China and India must not lose sight of the region's big picture that says eloquently and loudly: free trade is not based on utility but on justice.
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/Aamna Taseer, the widow of slain Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer Shaheed, has called upon the government and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to release all non-combatant prisoners – women, children and the elderly – with them. In a statement issued on Monday, she said that in accordance with the international humanitarian law, all civilians who are not taking a direct part in ‘hostilities’, either from the side of the government or the TTP, should be released forthwith for the sake of peace in the country. Last week, the TTP had handed over a list of around 300 prisoners to the interior minister, suggesting the government to release them in order to make the atmosphere conducive for talks. Similarly, the government has also demanded that the Taliban release all the civilians kidnapped by their allies.
Patron-in-Chief of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has strongly condemned targeted killing of a party worker Zohaib Khan and urged the Government to nab killers immediately and bring them before a court of law. Late Zohaib Khan was the General Secretary of City Area PS-106 of PYO Karachi. PPP Patron-in-Chief paid tributes to late Zohaib Khan for his commitment to democratic norms and devotion to Party cause for which he will be long remembered. He also directed office bearers and workers of PPP not to respond to provocations and register their protest in peaceful manner. Bilawal Bhutto expressed his heartfelt condolences with the martyr’s family and urged them to remain calm and composed. He assured them that PPP and its workers were with them in this difficult time. He prayed to Almighty to grant eternal peace to Zohaib Khan and patience to bereaved family.
In the southeastern desert, a reported 'famine' appears to be another name for structural poverty on an extreme scale.
There are reports of a very strange drought-induced famine taking place in southeastern Pakistan's Thar Desert, where there has technically been neither a "drought" nor "famine", yet people continue to suffer from severe malnutrition, experts and residents told Al Jazeera. Since March 7, when the story of the "famine" first broke in the national press, the area has been declared "calamity-hit" by the government, with a Rs1bn ($10m) relief package announced by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a visit to Mithi, the Tharparkar district headquarters, one of a flurry of visits by political leaders.In the past week, Tharparkar has seen the delivery of 3,582.3 tonnes of wheat (worth approximately $2.5m), 201 tonnes of rice, and 1,483.7 tonnes of emergency food packs and other food aid, according to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). It has also seen 58 medical staff deployed on emergency duty to Mithi, located about 350km east of Karachi, and 5,318 people treated at emergency medical relief camps. The government has also promised investments of Rs30m ($302,000) in the town's health facilities, and compensation of Rs200,000 ($2,000) to the families of each of the 70 infants who have died in Tharparkar district since December. And yet, there is no "drought" here in Tharparkar. While this has been a moderately drier year than average, by about 30 percent, the Pakistan Meteorological Department says that this does not fit the criteria of a "drought", instead declaring it a "socioeconomic disaster". There has been no rainfall in the district since November - but, this being the dry season, no significant rainfall was expected either. As for the "famine", food remains as available in the district's markets as it ever has been during these lean winter months, although residents' stores of grain built-up from the summer's subsistence farming may have run out earlier than normal, locals say. As many as 47 percent of Tharparkar's infants have been estimated to be acutely malnourished by the WFP. The infant mortality rate in Tharparkar is 87 per 1,000 live births, compared with the national average of 69. "The cases have increased since the reporting [of the situation in the news], but malnutrition was definitely there from before," says Chetan Das, a doctor at the government-run Mithi civil hospital, the main medical facility in the district. "Even from before, lower Sindh province [where Tharparkar is located] has 23 percent malnutrition […] This is a high-risk area definitely. It is a deserted area, and there have definitely been further shortages in food which have increased malnutrition." Since it was established in September 2013, Mithi's nutrition stabilisation ward has seen 91 children admitted, doctors say, at a rate of about 13 per month. Since the reporting of the "drought", that number has increased, but not very much, they say. Only one child, significantly, has died of malnutrition at the hospital - in contradiction to widespread public opinion about the "drought". Most of the deaths have been either due to pneumonia or gastroenterological complaints. "There are about 25 to 30 children sick in my village, it's all because of disease [not a drought]. I don't know what disease," said 60-year-old Ganga Bibi, from the village of Miajuthar, about 50km from Mithi. Ganga's 18-month-old granddaughter Deepa had been admitted to the ward, but most of Mithi's overflowing child wards were filled with patients with respiratory infection-related complaints, Al Jazeera found. The numbers of infant deaths, when compared with the year before, seem to bear out the theory that what one is seeing in Tharparkar is not a drought, just a severely poverty-stricken community, with limited access to healthcare and welfare support. As one resident put it, access to those services is "simply non-existent". "There is malnutrition, here," says Ramesh Kumar, a native of Mithi, "but for those who earn Rs3,000-4,000 ($30-40) a month […] they cannot buy food. There is also a water issue here, the water from the wells is turning saline". 'Nothing to eat' Zaffar Junejo, who heads the TRDP, and has been working in the social research and poverty alleviation sector in Tharparkar for the last 20 years, says the current situation is the result of a community of people living on the very edge of survival. "Here, the climate conditions or bio-geographical [conditions], the people are living right on the edge," he told Al Jazeera. "Even a little bit of pressure, with regards to climate, pushes them towards poverty and malnutrition. […]These people have been living in a condition that should in no condition be acceptable. They are in extreme poverty." Livestock farming in Tharparkar has historically survived in conjunction with the seasonal migration that most residents would undertake in the dry winter months to more fertile areas of the province - both to work as farm labourers and to take their animals to areas where more fodder was available. The practice of allowing livestock to migrate seasonally, however, has been restricted by the government, and with the depletion of stores in Tharparkar, many animals have been dying of hunger or disease. Nalo Malhar, 38, says that he is being forced to sell his goats in order to make ends meet for his family of 12 during this lean period. "I am going to sell these goats," he says, pointing to eight animals around him, "because I have no money to pay for my household expenses. This is the only way to earn right now. […] When the rain doesn't fall, we have to feed our children somehow. We have to sell them." The seasonal migration of villagers, however, continues, with some families sending a family member to permanently look for work in other settled areas of the province. "Obviously when we have nothing, we can't have tea, or water or food. So if there is nothing at home, we are worried," says Aemina Bibi, 35, a mother of seven whose husband works in the nearby town of Badin and sends home Rs3,000 ($30) a month. "When the men earn, we are happy, but otherwise we remain in a state of worry." Aemina says that food was easier to afford during the rainy season, but that since the dry season started, "for a while there has been nothing" to eat. Members of her family eat a roti with gravy made from crushed chilli peppers and water, for meals these days. Her husband isn't the only one to have left their village of Bhujakar, either. Almost half of the village's 20 households have abandoned their homes, says Allah Johrio, 70, the patriarch of the family. Ecological safety nets failing Junejo says that the lack of ecological safety nets and the degradation of traditional practices (such as leaving certain fields fallow and allowing a common plot for grazing lands) have left Tharparkar's population more exposed. "Ecological safety nets […] have definitely been disturbed very rapidly. [They were such] that they would support people's livelihoods. There would be a common land, where they would keep their livestock. That land has now either been seized by someone else, or come under cultivation or a house has been made on it. […] Also, the most important thing is that there has not been work on alternatives. If there was work done on alternative [livelihoods and mechanisms], then obviously people would have options to get by, and the issue of malnutrition would be addressed in some way," he said. TRDP's researchers argue that structural changes and access to alternative livelihoods are required to combat the issues that Tharparkar's at-risk communities are facing, not emergency wheat bags and high-energy biscuits. "If this issue of food insecurity is there, the way to address it is to work on livelihood options. […]You can't control the rain - other than rain harvesting - therefore you either increase people's skills or work on livestock, to improve things," says Junejo. That's a view shared by Oxfam, the UK-based charity which has carried out work in this region on how climate change affects the community. "While providing rapid emergency assistance to the affected people, we should not forget to address root causes of the crisis", said Arif Jabbar Khan, Oxfam's Pakistan country director, in a statement emailed to Al Jazeera. "There is no dearth of food, but persistent economic inequalities, timely public policy action, unaccountable governance, unfair distribution of resources and control on decision-making by few are the major causes, which if not addressed, would further aggravate the situation." Taj Hyder, a former Pakistani senator, has been appointed by the provincial government to coordinate relief work in Tharparkar, in the wake of the latest public outcry over the "drought". He accepts that the government failed to release food in a timely fashion to some people, and that malnutrition is present in both mothers and infants in this area, but blames the media for what he says is inaccurate reporting of a seasonal phenomenon. "There was a lapse, but that lapse did not result in loss of life, or the migration of anybody. So that is the actual situation. We are calling it an MMD: a media-made disaster," he told Al Jazeera. Hyder says the government is working on both one-year and five-year programmes to provide longer term relief to the residents of Tharparkar. Nevertheless, life for villagers like 58-year-old Muhammad Malook, from Posakho, remains precarious. Asked whether he thought his village could sustain itself if there were another few dry years, his answer was simple: "Five or 10 years is a long time. Within a year or two years, we will be forced to either migrate away from here, or to eat each other." http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/03/pakistan-thar-residents-living-edge-2014315121120904102.html