Sunday, April 6, 2014
Army and Armed Forces launched Sunday wide military operations against terrorists' gatherings and dens in several areas around the county.
SANA reporter said that the army units destroyed a workshop for manufacturing explosive devices and home-made rockets near al-Moleha neighborhood in the countryside, killing and injuring scores of terrorists. Mohammad Dyab was identified among the dead terrorists. She added that the army units advanced in al-Moleha city, cutting the supply lines of the terrorists.Other army units eliminate many terrorists in the area surrounding Tameco company in Ein Tarma valley. The army units killed more than 30 terrorists in Alleiah farms in Douma, including Samer Sadeeq. Another army unit killed and injured all members of an armed terrorist group in Joubar neighborhood. She pointed out that the army units killed and injured many terrorists in the farms of al-Sarkha to the southwest of Yabroud. Meanwhile, non-Syrian terrorists were killed in al-Zabadani, including Rashed al-Qader from Kuwait.
Army units killed and wounded members of armed terrorist groups and destroyed a car equipped with heavy machinegun on the road between Nehliya and Kafarnajd towns in Idleb countryside. A military source told SANA that army units razed terrorists' concentrations in Saraqeb, Balshoun, al-Rami, Kafrshlaya in Idleb countryside, killing and wounding many terrorists. SANA reporter in Idleb said that an explosive device went off as terrorists were attempting to plant it in Kafarnajd in Idleb countryside, killing and wounding several terrorists.
A military source told SANA reporter that an army unit killed and injured all members of an armed terrorist group in al-Nsser mountain in the northern countryside of Lattakia, in addition to destroying their weapons and ammunition. Meanwhile, other army units targeted terrorists' dens and gatherings in al-Kabeer village and al-Fronloq woods in the northern countryside of Lattakia, killing 39 terrorists and injuring others, in addition to destroying 5 vehicles equipped with heavy machineguns.
In Homs, an army unit foiled a terrorists' infiltration attempt from al-Ghantto village into Beit al-Nabhan in Talbisa, killing and injuring all its members, a military source said. The source added that an army unit targeted terrorists' gatherings in Ein Hussein, Beit Hajjo and al-Moshajar al-Janoubi in Homs countryside, killing many terrorists and injuring others.
A car bomb exploded when terrorists were preparing it in Souq al-Jaj in Homs city. A number of terrorists were killed and others got injured in the explosion.
Units of the Syrian Arab Army inflicted heavy losses on the armed terrorist groups in Deir Ezzor and destroyed their weapons and ammunition in the neighborhoods of al-Rahidieh, al-Huwieqa and al-Jbeileh. A source in the province told SANA reporter that a unit of the army destroyed a den of an armed terrorist group that calls itself “Liwa Abdullah bin al-Zubeir” in al-Ummal neighborhood and killed all terrorist inside. The source added that another unit clashed with an armed terrorist group that calls itself “Liwa al-Abbas” and killed all its members. The army units destroyed a number of terrorists’ vehicles in Deir Ezzor countryside, some of them were loaded with stolen oil.
Army units inflicted heavy losses upon terrorist gatherings in Daraa al-Balad and in al-Nazhin camp in Daraa province. The army also targeted terrorist gatherings on the Daraa-Tafas and Zamrin-Salmin roads in Daraa countryside, destroying their weapons which included a mortar launcher, eliminating a number of them, and injuring others. Other units targeted terrorists in Beir al-Jamal al-Naimeh and in Oum al-Mayadin, leaving a number of them dead and injuring others. A military source told SANA that the army also clashed with terrorists in Otman village in Daraa countryside and killed and injured large numbers of them. The source added that an army unit killed all members of an armed terrorist group in al-Wardat village while they were trying to infiltrate al-Lajat area. Meanwhile, the army killed and injured a number of terrorists who were trying to assaults passers on Damascus-Daraa highway in the area of Khabab town.
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) appealed to the country’s top election authority April 6, asking for the cancellation of results of the contested local elections in the capital city of Ankara. “The will of Ankara’s people does not accurately reflect in the ballot boxes. We expect the YSK [Supreme Election Board] to impartially assess this situation and decide for a repeat of the election,” the CHP’s nominee for Ankara Metropolitan Municipality, Mansur Yavaş, said at a press conference. Yavaş, accompanied by CHP deputies, held the press conference at a hotel across from the YSK, while a huge crowd waited outside the hotel in show of support for him. “We are after each and every vote. If the YSK rejects our appeal, we will take the issue to the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights,” Yavaş said. The CHP has insistently claimed the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan rigged the race’s result on March 30, where the AKP incumbent claimed a narrow victory. The provincial board in Ankara rejected the CHP’s appeal for a recount on April 4. As of April 5, Ankara’s incumbent mayor of the ruling AKP, Melih Gökçek, was granted “mayoral mandate” by the president of the provincial election board at a reception held at the Ankara Courthouse. At the same ceremony, AKP Deputy Chair Salih Kapusuz bestowed Gökçek with a belt which reads: “Ankara’s Chief Wrestler Melih Gökçek.”
Pro-Russian protesters storm regional government building in east Ukraine's Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkov
The rally in support of the Berkut riot police troops, who were detained by the coup-imposed authorities in Kiev, has culminated in pro-Russian protesters seizing the regional administration’s buildings in the eastern Ukraine. Over 2,000 people gathered in Lenin Square in the center of Donetsk to petition for the Berkut officers, who – they believe – are falsely accused of using fire arms against the rioters during the Maidan standoff. The participants in the event called on the “illegal junta in Kiev” to end political repressions and persecution of dissidents, the Itar-Tass news agency reports. They demanded their right for self-determination to be respected, pushing for a Crimea-style referendum on independence from Ukraine. The protesters carried Russian national flags, chanted “Russia! Russia!” and displayed banners urging the new Donetsk Region governor, Sergey Taruta, who was recently appointed by Kiev, “to get out.” An effigy of a Nazi zealot was also burnt in the square, with the action labeled “an act of annihilation of fascism” by the protesters in view of neo-Nazi radicals playing a key role in the Ukrainian coup this February. The people then moved out towards the regional administration’s headquarters, carrying a giant Russian flag. The confrontation with the police broke out on the porch of the government building, with the pro-Russian protesters depriving a dozen officers of their riot shields. The demonstrators used the confiscated shields to make their way through the main entrance of the building and occupied the balcony. The Ukrainian flag in front of the administration was replaced by a Russian standard. Eventually, police blocked the demonstrators inside. The violence in Donetsk might’ve been provoked by a banner saying “Goodbye, Russia,” which was placed on the administration, Life-News reports. The administration headquarters were empty, with only guards inside, as Government officials don’t work on Sundays. Luganks The events evolved in a similar way in Luganks where around a thousand people rallied in front of the local Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) office. They demanded the release of protest leader, Aleksandr Kharitonov, who has been in detention since mid-march, as well as 15 pro-Russian activists detained on Saturday. The people carried Russian flags and chanted “Shame on SBU” and “Freedom to political prisoners.”
According to the Russian Spring website, a policeman was injured and hospitalized as the protesters stormed the SBU building. One of the demonstrators also reportedly suffered a head injury. The governor of Lugansk region and the local Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) chief went out to talk to the demonstrators, which resulted in six of the detained anti-Maidan activists being released from custody.Kharkov Violence also broke out in the city of Kharkov where pro-Russian protesters clashed with alleged activists from the far-right Right Sector movement. Fireworks were used as weapons during the scuffle, with several explosions heard. However, there were no reports of injuries as the police managed to quickly separate the sides. Following the incident, the Maidan activists had to crawl inside the corridor, erected by police for their protection, as the crowd threw foreign objects at them.
Pro-Russian rallies are taking place almost every weekend in major cities in the Russian-speaking part of Ukraine since the nationalist coup ousted Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovich, in late February. One of the first laws the new government revoked was the regional status of the Russian language, which sent a clear message to the people in the country’s east. The Republic of Crimea refused to recognize the change of power in Kiev and declared its independence from Ukraine, following the March-16 referendum, in which 96.77 percent of the voters chose to rejoin Russia.
http://www.mysanantonio.com/President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will attend a memorial ceremony this week for victims of the deadly shooting rampage at Fort Hood, a White House official said Sunday. The first couple's attendance at the service mirrors one of nearly five years ago when the president and first lady flew to the Central Texas military installation to paid tribute to those killed in another tragic shooting. Details on the trip to Texas this week by the president and first lady are expected to be made public later this week, a White House official said Sunday. Three soldiers were killed and 16 wounded last Wednesday when Spc. Ivan Antonio Lopez opened fire with a .45-caliber handgun. The incident ended when Lopez shot himself and died. Fort Hood commander Lt. Gen. Mark Milley said the shooting apparently followed an argument Lopez had with another soldier on the post. Milley said no evidence suggests that the shooting spree and killings were premeditated. Killed were Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Michael Ferguson, 39, of Florida; Sgt. Timothy Wayne Owens, 37, of Illinois; and Staff Sgt. Carlos Alberto Lazany-Rodriguez, 38, of Puerto Rico. Texas Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. lawmakers, including Texas Sens. John Cornyn, Ted Cruz and Reps. John Carter, R-Round Rock and Roger Williams, R-Weatherford, have visited with the victims. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, was one of the first members of Congress briefed on the shooting at the Texas post. McCaul is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, which will have oversight of the subsequent investigation into the shooting. More than 150 federal and military investigators are sifting through the events at Fort Hood to complete and investigation into the deadly shooting and to determine what prompted the fatal actions by Lopez.
If President Obama means what he says about wanting an immigration system that reflects American values, helps the economy and taps the yearnings of millions of Americans-in-waiting, he is going to have to do something about it — soon and on his own. It has been frustrating to watch his yes-we-can promises on immigration reform fade to protestations of impotence and the blaming of others. All Mr. Obama has been saying lately is: No, in fact, we can’t, because Republicans and the law won’t let me. Mr. Obama is correct when he complains that long-term immigration repairs have been throttled in Congress. Neo-nativist Republicans fixated on mass deportation have blocked a worthy bipartisan bill. But Mr. Obama has compounded this failure by clinging to a coldblooded strategy of ramped-up enforcement on the same people he has promised to help through legislation that he has failed to achieve. With nearly two million removals in the last five years, the Obama administration is deporting people at a faster pace than has taken place under any other president. This enormously costly effort was meant to win Republican support for broader reform. But all it has done is add to the burden of fear, family disruption and lack of opportunity faced by 11 million people who cannot get right with the law. Because of Mr. Obama’s enforcement blitz, more than 5,000 children have ended up in foster care. Mr. Obama should know his approach is unsustainable, and immigration advocates and lawmakers have applied intense pressure on him to deport “not one more” deserving immigrant. With reform on life support, he recently told the Homeland Security secretary, Jeh Johnson, to find ways to conduct immigration enforcement more “humanely.” That would be nice. But that is only the beginning of what Mr. Obama and Mr. Johnson should do. Those who would qualify for legalization under a Senate bill passed last summer — people who do not pose criminal threats, who have strong ties to this country and, in many cases, have children who are American citizens — should not be in danger of deportation. The one recent bright spot in Mr. Obama’s immigration record has been his decision, made on firm legal ground, to defer for two years the deportations of young people who would have qualified for legal status under the stalled Dream Act. These immigrants, known as Dreamers, are a sympathetic group, and Mr. Obama’s move to protect them was timely and wise. But millions of other unauthorized immigrants are just as vulnerable and no less worthy. There is no good reason not to extend similar relief to the Dreamers’ parents, or to the parents of citizen children and others who pose no threat and should likewise be allowed to live and work here while efforts to pass reform continue. Besides deferring some deportations, the administration should adopt an array of policy changes, no matter what Congress does. Mr. Johnson needs to get Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol to make noncriminals and minor offenders the lowest deportation priorities. This has been tried before, through a series of “prosecutorial discretion” memos that have had little positive effect.
If their language needs clarifying, Mr. Johnson, once the Pentagon’s top lawyer, surely knows how to write clear rules of engagement. Some states like California do, too: They now strictly limit the kinds of people local police surrender to federal authorities for deportation.The administration needs to find ways to turn off the deportation machinery when it gets abused. It should end programs like Secure Communities that enlist local police as immigration enforcers. When immigrants assert their civil and labor rights against abusive employers, it should protect them from deportation and retaliation. These and other reforms should not be confused with a comprehensive overhaul of immigration, which only Congress can achieve. But they are ways to push a failing system toward sanity and justice. Mr. Obama may argue that he can’t be too aggressive in halting deportations because that will make the Republicans go crazy, and there’s always hope for a legislative solution. He has often seemed like a bystander to the immigration stalemate, watching the wheels spin, giving speeches and hoping for the best. It’s hard to know when he will finally stir himself to do something big and consequential.
By: Milena DjurdjicThe number of homeless families in the Washington, D.C. shelter system more than doubled this past winter - well beyond earlier expectations of a 10-percent increase. The rise, which many consider unprecedented, has surprised some officials. But homeless advocates say it should have been anticipated and that the U.S. capital is becoming too pricey for the lowest-income families. The fast-growing city has been adding more than 1,000 new residents each month, according to the mayor. But some say this development is leaving the city's poor behind. Among them are Donnell Harris, his wife Stephanie Williams and their two children, who have been homeless for a year. “We had our own apartment," he said. "I lost my job, bills got stacked up, rent got stacked up, so we were evicted. It’s been a struggle. Trying to get money just to have somewhere to sleep and have food for the children as well as get my oldest daughter to school.” The District of Columbia is legally obligated to shelter the homeless when the temperatures drop below freezing. With DC General, a family shelter housed in an old hospital complex, already filled up at the beginning of the winter, the city had to rent more than 400 motel rooms. Some of the families, including Harris', were placed in public recreation centers, where they slept on cots separated by portable partitions. They had to leave every morning and then wait for hours to reapply for shelter again, but only on freezing nights. A judge recently ordered the administration to stop housing families in recreation centers because, among other things, the practice may be harmful to children. “It is an experience that no one should have to go through. No one,” he said. Patty Mullahy Fugere, executive director of the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, says the situation should have been anticipated - and blames the entire community for not addressing the problem. “Families who were on the edge, who were presenting for shelter because they could no longer afford housing in a market like this," she said. "And now their situations are much worse.” According to the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, the city has lost more than half of its low-cost rental units and 72 percent of its low-value homes over the last decade. This, as household incomes have not kept pace with the rise in housing costs. Mayor Vincent Gray has pledged another $100-million investment in affordable housing, on top of last year’s $187-million commitment to preserve and build 10,000 units by 2020. But Council member Jim Graham, who chairs the Committee on Human Services, says the city should be doing more. He warns of dire consequences if the problem of family homelessness is not resolved. “Because, what we sow we will reap," he said. "And what we are sowing here is all manner of problems relating to child development, education, crime, you name it." VOA’s request to the DC Department of Human Services to visit the shelters was left unanswered - as well as a request for a comment from the DHS director on why there are so many homeless families this year. Meanwhile, Donnell Harris and his family will no longer be provided shelter because the so-called "hypothermia season" is ending. The warmer temperatures, which many Washington residents welcome, will only bring more struggle for families in need of a home. “We live day by day," he said. "Whatever comes, that’s what we got to deal with. If we don’t get money tomorrow, then I don’t know what we might do. It is confusing and it is hard.”
Hopes are high that Afghanistan's election Saturday may result in the country's first peaceful transition of power in more than a century. Militant attacks and electoral fraud are the main threats to the vote for a new president, who will take over after President Hamid Karzai ends his second term. Afghan women, whose freedom has often been curtailed, also worry about their future under a new government. Zlatica Hoke has this report.
US President Barack Obama congratulated Afghanistan on its landmark presidential election, saying it was "critical" to securing the country's democratic prospects and continued international aid.The ballots, which could usher in the country's first democratic transfer of power, "represent another important milestone in Afghans taking full responsibility for their country as the United States and our partners draw down our forces," Obama said in a statement. "These elections are critical to securing Afghanistan's democratic future, as well as continued international support." Afghan voters braved threats of violence to line up outside polling stations en masse -- with a final turnout expected to exceed 50 percent, or seven million -- to pick a successor to President Hamid Karzai for the first time since the US-led invasion in 2001. "Millions of Afghan men and women took to the polls today with courage and commitment," US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement. "This is their moment. The Afghan people secured this election. They ran this election, and most importantly, they voted in this election." Obama urged election officials to make their formal decision on the outcome fairly, "knowing that the most critical voices on the outcome are those of Afghans themselves." Karzai has refused to sign a security agreement that would allow the US to keep around 10,000 troops in Afghanistan to train local forces and hunt Al-Qaeda, and relations with Washington have dropped to a new low. Afghans have taken over responsibility for security from US-led forces, and this year the last of the NATO coalition's 51,000 combat troops will pull out, leaving local forces to battle the resilient Taliban insurgency without their help. Obama, who has had tense ties with Karzai, said "we look forward to continuing our partnership with the new government chosen by the Afghan people on the basis of mutual respect and mutual accountability." Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel commended the Afghan National Security Forces for providing the security that allowed the voting to take place. "The progress we have seen in Afghanistan is a testament to the tireless efforts and sacrifices of American, (NATO's) ISAF and Afghan personnel," he added. "But above all, it shows the strength and resilience of the Afghan people, and of the partnership the United States has built with them. It is a partnership that will endure." While hailing the high voter turnout as an "important step," top US military officer General Martin Dempsey stressed that many Afghans, Americans and other foreigners had lost their lives to make a potential democratic transition possible in Afghanistan. "Today's election did not come without significant sacrifice -- the sacrifice of the Afghan people and many Americans and service members from partner nations who have been killed and wounded fighting there since 2001," he said. "We look forward to the outcome of the elections and the opportunity to continue to work together, with a willing partner, for a better Afghanistan." Since the United States toppled the Taliban regime in 2001, 2,316 American troops have been killed, according to iCasualties.org, which uses Pentagon data to estimate combat losses.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Patron-In-Chief, Pakistan Peoples Party has strongly condemned deaths threats to renowned journalist South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) Secretary General Imtiaz Alam and asked Federal government to arrange adequate security arrangements for him.
Country braced for fraud and Taliban violence but failed to anticipate Afghans flocking to elect Hamid Karzai's successorIn anxious preparation for a historic presidential election, Afghanistan fortified its cities against attack, primed observers to detect fraud ... then was blind-sided by a problem no one had even dared to imagine – unprecedented voter enthusiasm. Defying Taliban threats and the more mundane challenge of rainy weather, Afghans flocked to the polls in such high numbers that ballots were running out in some places by midday. Soon, more than a third of provinces were reporting shortfalls, and as the scale of the problem emerged election organisers scrambled to respond. "I don't know how I will bear it if I don't get to vote," said 22-year-old Atifa Sultani, who had her finger marked with indelible ink – designed to stop repeat voting – at a station in west Kabul before being told that ballots had run out. "As a citizen it's my right to choose our leader, but I can't try anywhere else, because from my finger it seems I already voted." Afghans are choosing a successor to President Hamid Karzai after 12 years, and if the handover is smooth it will be the first peaceful, democratic transfer of power their country has ever seen. For months Kabul was filled with rumours that Karzai would seek to delay or cancel the vote so that he could hold on to power. But he kept his promises to hold the poll on time with an early-morning trip to a polling station near his palace. "Today is a vital day for us, the people of Afghanistan, that will determine our future," he said after casting his ballot and urged other voters to come out . They did so in numbers and with a determination that surprised even optimists, and even after ballots ran out. Seven million Afghans cast votes, said election organisers, nearly two and a half million more than the last presidential poll, and about 60% of all eligible voters. In the Kabul station that ran out of ballots, Sultani waited three hours until a last-minute batch arrived, sending organisers who had been muttering darkly about government conspiracies scrambling to reassemble the polling station. A 77-year-old man who had ignored family warnings about going out in the rain was first in line. "It is my joy to vote," Qamber Ali said, echoing the sentiments of thousands who stood patiently in well-disciplined lines even through downpours. Younger voters posed for photos with their inked fingers and uploaded them to Facebook and Twitter. "Have voted for the future of my country," wrote artist Shamsia Hassani. Hassani was joined by hundreds of thousands of other women, many students and professionals who have come of age during Karzai's rule and were voting for the first time. Ballots ran out particularly fast at voting centres for women, who also made up more candidates than ever before. Male and female polling stations are separate because many in the conservative country frown on the mingling of the sexes in any context outside of the family. "Of course the massive turnout of women voters is a big slap to all those who want to block us to contribute. Feeling proud to be a woman," said activist Samira Huria, who had returned to Afghanistan to take part in the poll. It was not all good news. The election in some rural areas dominated by insurgents sounded like another vote entirely, with villagers steering clear of voting stations after the Taliban warned them to stay away, commanders taking ballot-boxes to stuff at their leisure, and rocket, bomb and gun attacks. At least one person was killed, several others injured and more than 200 polling stations closed at the last minute because of security threats. But multiple rings of tight security, with Kabul virtually shut down for days before the election, appear to have prevented any major Taliban attacks. The insurgents had denounced the elections as a sham, warned that anyone who worked on them or took part was risking their lives, and mounted a high-profile campaign of attacks in the runup to the vote. The bloodshed cut short some international election monitoring missions and prompted many foreigners to evacuate ahead of the poll. In Kabul alone gunmen shot dead nine people, including a prominent Afghan journalist and his wife and two young children as they ate dinner in a city centre hotel, stormed the guesthouse of a landmine removal charity, and attacked two election offices and a ministry in less than two weeks. Afghan intelligence sources said several squads of suicide attackers were preparing more spectacular attacks on polling day. In response the government declared four days of holiday, sent workers home, shut down all roads into the city and promised people it would guarantee their safety with more than 300,000 police and soldiers deployed around the country. Kabul voters spooked by the string of attacks said they were unsure if the security cordon would hold but had come to the polls anyway. "I am 100% worried about security, but this is about the destiny of our country," said 23-year-old Aslan, an election monitor who by 10am had already spotted a man who had scrubbed his inked finger and was trying to vote twice. He was part of a 200,000-strong squad of election observers, mostly tied to individual candidates, who kept a far closer eye on polling than five years ago when the vote that returned Karzai to power was marred by widespread fraud and more than a million ballots were thrown out. It would be foolish to call the election overall a success at this stage. Reports of fraud in 2009 trickled in slowly at first, and even if this poll proves cleaner there is certain to be controversy about which areas were short of ballots, and whether it affected some candidates more than others. Election organisers reacted fast to the high turnout, extending voting hours, sending out more ballots, and trying to explain their miscalculation to the angry masses of would-be voters. "We surveyed each area, and sent ballot papers based on population," said Ziaul Haq Amarkhil, chief electoral officer for the Independent Election Commission. "If we had sent more papers everywhere [to start with], it could have offered opportunity for fraud." Not all the shortages were resolved, though, and monitors said they would investigate whether any stations ran out because of early-morning ballot-box stuffing. Any complaints will certainly be joined by other cases of abuse. Officials have already made arrests for attempted ballot-box stuffing and voter fraud, when four people were found with over 1,000 voter identity cards. Even if results are declared clean, they will only be final if one candidate gets more than 50% of the vote. Anything lower triggers a second round runoff, and with strong competition between the top three candidates another polling day seems more likely than not. Still, Afghans celebrated their extraordinary success in holding a day of voting where the focus stayed mostly on people casting their ballots, not the ones trying to stop them. "Huge, huge day for Afghanistan. A historic event ends peacefully with millions casting their votes," said Saad Mohseni, the businessman owner of Tolo TV, one of the country's biggest channels. "A massive victory for our people, and a massive kick in the face for the Taliban."
By Adeel Khalid Pakistan is at inflexion point while the talks with Taliban are taking centre stage in political arena. According to a recent news report, the committees representing the government and the Taliban agreed on to extend the ceasefire and take measures to speed up the dialogue process. The head of the TTP committee, Maulana Samiul haq, confirmed that the ceasefire would be maintained beyond March. However it is a crucial developmental stage in negotiating with Taliban but on government side, but it is reactive incoherent at policy front to border a defined agenda to put forth accordingly in this peace process which is evident from the contradictory rhetoric and unplanned agenda emanating from within the polity of different discourses; reflects inconsistency and irresoluteness on government part to tackle this existential threat. However, the objectives sought to be achieved unclear and opaque. Obliviously the government cannot afford to accommodate any of the main demands of the TTP without compromising the Pakistan’s Constitution and the prosperity of the country. These demands include the release of hundreds of prisoners, including some high-profile people, and setting up of a “peace zone” to allow free movement of the Taliban. Finally they resist for Sunni (Sharia) rule in Pakistan and the creation of an Islamic Emirate in Pakistan and Afghanistan which are beyond negotiable point for the public, policy-makers and politicians alike. What is required in essence is the TTP’s surrender? Can this be achieved through talks and at this time? The right time to negotiate with the TTP would be once it is militarily and politically on the defensive. Negotiations can succeed provided these are conducted with the “principles” drafted by the government of Pakistan. These principles should be in aligning with the Constitution of Pakistan. The recent issued internal security policy of Pakistan; though it aims to continue dialogue and enhance deterrence but inadequacies liquidate; as it is too centralize and narrow to implement in its existence. Certainly it has other shortcomings as well. The TTP is a hydra-headed monster, which includes a score of extremist parties and groups, with diverse aims, composition, locations and affiliations. A large number of its members are foreigners—-Arabs, Uzbeks, Afghans. Its affiliations are complex in nature: al Qaeda supports it; Afghan intelligence collaborates with it and Indian intelligence has infiltrated in it. It is not only difficult to dismantle a Frankenstein but also to engage such a diversified body of threat which is penetrated in every nook and corner of the country. Can talks and negotiations succeed in such environment? Perhaps that is why the government has distinguished Taliban into good, bad, and ugly Taliban respectively. Whatever the policy be, but it needs to be clearly defined and more importantly secure public support vis-a-vis media. Else, it will fail. As in the case of Ukraine crisis where the internal confusion, corruption and chaos illustrate, can quickly become a self-created threat to a nation. It is important to identify major irritants which may thwart this peace process as it did in the past. Drones attack can halt this peace process as in case of killing of Hakeemullah Masud, Pakistan interior minister proclaimed it had killed the chances of negotiating peace with Taliban. So the US should maneuver while keeping in mind the ground realities along with the consent of all major stake-holders. Secondly, the experience with negotiating with Taliban has been never happy one and cannot succeed unless they are pursued from a position of strength. Such an incident has been experienced in Swat. Though, lessons should be learnt from the recent examples of successful counter-insurgency operations, such as Colombia, and Sri Lanka. How to draft a coherent policy at this stage? Pakistan needs to get its policy house in order which is the prerequisite for a coherent policy drafting process and implementing it. This policy should be crafted after establishing the consensus of all major stake-holders coupled with the visionary leadership; it would enable them to evolve a counter-insurgency and counterterrorism strategy in a holistic fashion. The strategy should incorporate the orthodox four Ds formula of dismantling, defeating, decapitating and de radicalization the militants, terrorists, and extremists. Dismantling all the leadership expulsion of the foreigners within the TTP, end to collaborate with external powers should be the main concern of this political fiesta. Asserting Pakistan’s sovereignty must be the central principle of this policy which should not be allowed to sabotage at any cost. Pakistan army has the numbers and capability to conduct multiple and simultaneous operations to kill or capture TTP militants in Fata, Swat, Peshawar, and Karachi. It should be authorized by the civilian government to do so. Decapitation involves those leaders who remain recalcitrant would be legitimate targets for elimination. Pakistan’s security forces should acquire capabilities to conduct such operations. De-radicalization TTP prevents them to replenish them to gain power which creates anguish and distress in the society. Talks have been rejected in the past by the elected governments as talks abject the legitimacy of the elected leadership and undermine the democratic spirit in Pakistan.
An innocent Pakistani Christian sweeper Sawan Masih, 26, has been sentenced to death under false accusations of blasphemy against prophet Muhammad, after waiting for a trial since March 2013.These allegations were the result of a personal grudge between Sawan and a muslim friend. These accusations also led a mob of 3000 angry Muslims to burn down a christian village leaving the poverty stricken christian residents homeless and penniless. The Blasphemy laws in Pakistan: 295 forbids damaging or defiling a place of worship or a sacred object. 295-A forbids outraging religious feelings. 295-B forbids defiling the Quran. 295-C forbids defaming the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Except for 295-C, the provisions of 295 require that an offense be a consequence of the accused’s intent. Defiling the Quran merits imprisonment for life. Defaming Muhammad merits death with or without a fine. If a charge is laid under 295-C, the trial must take place in a Court of Session with a Muslim judge presiding These laws have been misused as a weapon to execute revenge and religious intolerance on the religious minorities and Muslims in Pakistan. Pakistani governor Salman Taseer and Federal Minister for Religious minorities in Pakistan Shahbaz Bhatti were assassinated in 2011 for speaking against these blasphemy laws and advocating release of Christian woman Asiya BiBi who is still in prison under false allegations of blasphemy. In response to the viral petition that is being signed from all over the world for the release of Sawan Masih, Italian Parliamentarian for the Democratic Party Paolo Petrini sent an open message to Adan Farhaj President of Federation of Pakistani Christian Associations Italy and Overseas Coordinator All Pakistan Christian League. He said, “This is a chilling story, but unfortunately not the first of fierce religious intolerance. I think it is intolerable that governments have in this time and age allowed ordinances that can be used to target the weaker sections of its society. Such ordinances with the aim to persecute religious minorities need to be sorted out.The international community must have a stronger response to stop such injustices. I, along with a group of Italian parliamentarians have signed a motion on this tragic incident.” Adan Farhaj commended the message sent by Petrini and said, “It is encouraging to see that the voices of the people from around the world has been taken note of by Paolo.I commend the brave statement by him. The petition may or may not help release Sawan but we must continue to try everything within our power to see that justice and equality is exercised. No section of a society should be marginalized because of their personal beliefs as that has nothing to do with the working of the state.” He encouraged everyone to sign the petition to help raise awareness about Sawan’s plight in their communities. Sawan’s lawyer Naeem Shakir has appealed against the death sentence in the high court. The petition which is addressed to Nawaz Sharif the Prime Minister of Pakistan and Andrew Bennet Ambassador for Religious Freedom Canada may help in reviewing the death sentence and the blasphemy laws in Pakistan. The power of social media has become an undeniable force. PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION:Link to Petition: http://chn.ge/1dGQjAQ - See more at: http://www.christiansinpakistan.com/italian-parliamentarian-takes-notice-of-petition-for-sawan-masih/#sthash.ziPz2PKX.dpuf
For working hard to help liberate Asia Bibi, Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill, a Christian Human Rights Defender and Chief of LEAD was terrorized for the termination of his bar license to practice in Punjab Bar. On March 26th 2014, there was a scheduled court hearing of Asia Bibi’s petition, who is convicted of blasphemy, in the Division Bench Lahore High Court, Lahore, which was later postponed and next fixed for April 14th 2014.Gill was also there at court trial along with his team. “On April 2nd 2014 ,one white collar anonymous person came at Civil Court, Lahore and met me at our sitting place and he instructed me to be careful because there is apprehension that someone has plan to make attacked at you by someone and might be you will be get involved in some false criminal cases just due to your human rights work ,”told Gill. He further stated that Rana Latif Anwar, advocate at High Court, also guided and warned him to be cautious or else he might be slay by somebody and moreover he was told that he was on hit list from last year to till at this time He was informed that there were some scapegraces who often did such like things with other too for their vested interests. “I and my other staff members were threatened and attacked many times by some unknown persons due to our human rights work in Pakistan but we were not be afraid of such threats and attacks, we know that death is the result of the campaign which we have started against blasphemy law and in the support of persecuted Church,” told Gill.
On April 4, 2014, Additional District and Session Judge pronounced death sentence to a Christian woman and her crippled husband on sending blasphemous text messages during a hearing in Toba Tek Sing Jail when another Christian was previously verdict with death sentence in Lahore Jail.
Dr. Nazir Bhatti said “It is mockery of justice and failing of administration in Pakistan that terrorist and killers of innocent citizen’s cases are being heard in open courts while victims of blasphemy are kept in solitary confinements in jails and their cases are also preceded in jails which indicates pressure on judiciary and standard of justice” “The wave of fear and anger has spread among Pakistani Christians after awarding death sentence to three Christian victims by courts within period of two weeks” Nazir Bhatti
Nazir Bhatti said that Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel are uneducated and incompetent to write English text messages while they testified loss of their cell phone to area mobile shop but still they were retained under blasphemy law by police and judge issued death judgment without seeing evidences. Similar was in the case of Sawan Masih who was supposedly involved in blasphemy case to save Muslim offenders who set on fine more than hundred homes, shops and Church in Joseph Colony Lahore.
Nazir Bhatti demanded instant revoke of blasphemy laws which is diffusing violence towards religious minorities in Pakistan. PCC’s Chief said that mass movement will be taking place in Pakistan to press upon government to revoke blasphemy laws and appealed Civil Society and Muslim political parties to rise their voices against misapplication of Islamic laws. “Pakistani Christian have no voice in Senate of Pakistan and National Assembly of Pakistan after imposition of Joint Electorate which must be noted by International community that basic democratic and human rights of Christians in Pakistan” said Nazir Bhatti - See more at: http://www.christiansinpakistan.com/pcc-condemn-death-sentence-to-blasphemy-accused-christian-couple/#sthash.7GAR2khM.dpuf
The Express TribuneA directive by the Punjab government to enhance security for minorities’ places of worship has resulted in station house officers (SHOs) passing on the buck by issuing a long list of measures to be taken by the administrations of temples and churches. After a recent directive issued by the home department for the security of minorities’ places of worship, Christian and Hindu worshippers complained that no steps had been taken on ground. According to a story published on March 31, the home department had directed the police to tighten security in view of possible terrorist attacks. According to a notice issued by various SHOs to temples and churches of the garrison city, the administrations have been asked to take nine steps for their protection. These include the installation of CCTV cameras, storing one month’s footage, securing the place with barbed wire, eight-foot high boundary walls, setting up a police post on the roof, proper lighting and hiring security guards from a registered company which is verified by the police. Entry gates and barriers should be installed as well, states the notice. Also, the police should be informed before the start of a ceremony so that they can make security arrangements. Representatives of minorities said provision of security is the responsibility of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB). “ETPB is the guardian of all temples and it is their responsibility to provide funds for security requirements,” said Hindu-Sikh Social Welfare Council President Jag Mohan Arora. In 2010, we received the same notice and we informed the police as well as EPTB officials, but the latter paid no heed despite repeated requests and visits, he added. “We are in the habit of lamenting after a tragedy occurs but who cares.” We cannot even arrange sufficient funds for religious ceremonies, how can we set aside such a huge sum to implement these steps? asked Ashok Chand. Dr Samuel Titus, chairman Clergy Association of Pakistan and pastor St. Paul’s Church, Rawalpindi, said security is provided to big churches only on special occasions. After a suicide attack on a church in Peshawar, the government allowed us to make our own arrangements but when we applied for arms licences, the government rejected the applications. “We have urged the government to permit arms licences for churches,” he maintained. We are capable of protecting our worship places but the government should also take some initiative. It is impossible for a security guard to stop an attacker equipped with sophisticated weapons with a stick. Rawalpindi Senior Superintendent of Police (Operations) Mian Maqbool said, “We have already taken steps to protect churches and temples.” On special occasions like Diwali or Christmas we provide foolproof security to them. “We even provided parking space which was protected.” At the same time, he brought up the issue of a shortage of police personnel, while speaking about enhanced security. A delegation is expected to arrive for celebrating Besakhi from India on April 10 for which we have made arrangements, he added.
http://balochwarna.com/The Pakistani police have raided some books and CDs shops in different area of Balochistan and arrested bookshop owners for keeping different books including ‘Waae Watan Hoshken Daar’ by Balochi language writer and poet Major Majeed Baloch. According to SHO Gwadar, Mr Gul Hasan, a case has been registered against one bookseller, Khoda Bakhsh Baloch for buying and selling ‘Waae Watan Hoshken Daar’ A local journalist Behram Baloch told BBC Urdu that the authorities did not issue any notification to ban this book. According BBC an effected bookseller from Gwadar said that he did not have Major Majeed Baloch’s book in his shop, however, the police confiscated books about history of Baloch and Balochistan and. The seized books include a famous book ‘The History of Balochistan’ by Lala Hatto and ‘Baloch’ by Dr Shah Mohammad Marri Baloch. Police sources said the FIR against the book vendors only Waae Watan Hoshken Daar’ and the writer of this book Major Majid has been living in Muscat since 40 years. He said, “Waae Watan Hoshken Daar ' mean ‘a wood of my country [Balochistan] is more than anything for us.” Reacting about the confiscations books he said, “You read this book. It is about Baloch history, Baloch traditions, and it about war in Balochistan. This is a history book and it is beyond my understanding why this book is being banned?” He expressed astonishment on the behaviour of state [Pakistan] and said, “I certainly wrote about human rights violation in Balochistan in my book but now-a-days every newspaper contains such news. Apart of that the book is about Balochistan’s history. Is it a crime to write about Baloch history and geography?” Gwadar District Police Officer Pervez Khan said, “I still have not seen the whole book but reportedly page 52 and 55 of this book contain some paragraphs which directly incite people against the state and the Army.” He said, “The government has not banned any material but selling and buying anti- Pakistan items are prohibited by law. Under this law action has been taken against CD and booksellers.” The provincial information minister, Abdul Rahim Ziaratwal told the BBC that if a book has been banned by the government and it kept in any shop then the shop owner should know about it, but the if the government do not put any restriction on a book and it kept and sold, then it is not the fault of the bookseller. In which case there is should be no action against them. Meanwhile sources confirmed that Pakistani security forces raided Al Badar Bookshop and news agency and seized a number of books on Balochistan and the Baloch people. The Pakistani forces also arrested Khuda Bakhsh, a salesman at the bookshop. District Police Officer Preves Umrani told Dawn, “Police raided the bookshop after receiving information about objectionable books and other material kept there. On 13 January, the Pakistnai security forces had raided Atta Shad Degree college in Turbat and confiscated books including works by Bertrand Russell, biographies of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Nelson Mandela and Che Guevara, a history of Balochistan by Meer Gul Khan Naseer, poetry books of famous poets like Ata Shad – whom Turbat’s only college is named after – Kareem Dashti and Gholam Hossain Shohaz, literary magazines such as ‘Mahtak Balochi’, ‘Mahtak Sangat’, ‘Mahtak Sechkan’, ‘Sangar’, ‘zrumbish’ and much more. Course books on Balochi grammar and literature were also labelled as ‘anti-Pakistani’ because reading and teaching Balochi is considered anti-Islamic and anti-Pakistani by the forces of occupation in Balochistan. On January 8, 2014, the FC raided Delta English Language Centre in Turbat and claimed to have recovered anti-Pakistan literature and arrested a large number of students, mostly under 20 years of age, on charges of keeping anti-state material. Earlier on 17 March Pakistani security forces raided a Karwaan English Language Centre at Kosh Kalat area of Turbat town in Balochistan and abducted at least six teacher and three students. The abducted teachers were named as Abdul Salam, Jameel, Muheeb, Meeran, Kalamullah and Siraaj whereas the students have been identified as Muqeeb, Waheed and Jameed. On 2nd April FC and police raided and sealed two bookshops in Turbat and arrested two booksellers. Similar raids were carried out in on educational institutes in Buleda, Quetta and Khuzdar area of Balochistan where several students were arrested and disappeared.