Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lebanese singer Yasmine ........ Deny

President al-Assad: intellectual war one of gravest aspects of aggression against Syria
President Bashar al-Assad said Sunday the intellectual war and attempts to abolish or replace identity are one of the gravest aspects of the colonial aggression targeting Syria.
President al-Assad was speaking during a meeting with the teaching staff and post-graduate students at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Damascus.
The Arab region is originally based on an ideology of correlation between Arabism and Islam, the President said, "which makes adherence to this principle one of the most important factors for restoring intellectual and social security to Arab societies."
The West has sought to abolish this ideology so as to dominate the region and the role of Arab countries. Having failed to do so, the President said, the West turned to play on concepts to alter the essence of the ideology. President al-Assad said the intellectuals and academics have a role to look into concepts and furnish them with clear-cut meanings to confront attempts to market different meanings that seek to empty ideologies of their content," which risks a loss of belonging and deviation from principles causes for which we have been struggling for decades."
Syria is targeted, not only for its weighty geopolitical position, but also for its pivotal role in the region and the sway it has on the Arab street, the President said.
He indicated that the war against Syria is an attempt to control its sovereign decision and have it weakened to reverse its policies that meet the aspirations of the Syrian people and are out of pace with the US and Western interests in the region which, the President said, explains the emergence of the Israeli factor that has a major role in backing terrorist groups.
President al-Assad said the crisis in Syria is passing through a turning point on the military side due to the continuous achievements of the army and armed forces in the war against terrorism, and on the social front in terms of national reconciliations and a growing popular awareness of the aggression's goals.
The Syrian state seeks to restore security and stability to the main areas rocked by terrorism before turning to strike pockets and dormant cells.
There had been dialogue during the meeting about the importance of universities, as well as scientific and strategic studies' research centers in providing the state with qualified cadres.

Ukraine brutal video: Clashes between pro- and anti-govt activists in Kharkov

Are Iran and Israel Trading Places?

Although the Israeli and Iranian governments have been virtually at war with each other for decades, the two countries have much in common.
Both are home to some of the oldest civilizations on earth, and both are primarily non-Arab states in a mostly Arab region. In the 1950s, David Ben-Gurion’s Israel and Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi’s Iran were bastions of secular nationalism; the shah pushed authoritarian modernization, while Ben-Gurion advanced a form of nonreligious Zionism. Only after the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran did radical Islam all but eclipse this secular brand of politics. It held on for much longer in Israel but is now under threat.
Both Iran and Israel are now entering potentially challenging new stages in their relations with the outside world, and particularly with the United States. Over the last seven years, United Nations Security Council resolutions have imposed sanctions on Iran with the aim of halting its nuclear program. For years, Iran’s former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad railed against the “Great Satan.” But even if Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is still opposed to reforms, it appears that some officials inside Iran have finally realized that continued intransigence and bellicosity will beget only more sanctions and catastrophic economic consequences.
As the winds of change blow across Iran, secular democrats in Israel have been losing ground to religious and right-wing extremists who feel comfortable openly attacking the United States, Israel’s strongest ally. In recent months, Israel’s defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, called Secretary of State John Kerry “obsessive and messianic,” while Naftali Bennett, Israel’s economy minister, labeled Mr. Kerry a “mouthpiece” for anti-Semitic elements attempting to boycott Israel.
Israel’s secular democrats are growing increasingly worried that Israel’s future may bear an uncomfortable resemblance to Iran’s recent past.
For more than three decades, Iran’s oil wealth has allowed its religious leaders to stay in power. But sanctions have taken a serious economic toll, with devastating effects on the Iranian people. The public, tired of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s bombastic and costly rhetoric, has replaced him with Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist who has promised to fix the economy and restore relations with the West.
But Mr. Rouhani’s rise is in reality the consequence of a critical cultural and demographic shift in Iran — away from theocracy and confrontation, and toward moderation and pragmatism. Recent tensions between America and Russia have emboldened some of Iran’s radicals, but the government on the whole seems still intent on continuing the nuclear negotiations with the West.
Iran is a land of many paradoxes. The ruling elite is disproportionately made up of aged clerics — all men — while 64 percent of the country’s science and engineering degrees are held by women. In spite of the government’s concentrated efforts to create what some have called gender apartheid in Iran, more and more women are asserting themselves in fields from cinema to publishing to entrepreneurship.
Many prominent intellectuals and artists who three decades ago advocated some form of religious government in Iran are today arguing for popular sovereignty and openly challenging the antiquated arguments of regime stalwarts who claim that concepts of human rights and religious tolerance are Western concoctions and inimical to Islam. More than 60 percent of Iranians are under age 30, and they overwhelmingly believe in individual liberty. It’s no wonder that last month Ayatollah Khamenei told the clerical leadership that what worried him most was a non-Islamic “cultural invasion” of the country.
As moderate Iranians and some of the country’s leaders cautiously shift toward pragmatism and the West, it seems that many Israelis are moving away from these attitudes. In its 66 years, Israel has seen its share of ideological shifts from dovish to hawkish. These were natural fluctuations driven mainly by the country’s security situation and prospects for peace.
But the current shift is being accelerated by religion and demography, and is therefore qualitatively different. While the Orthodox Jewish parties are currently not part of the government, together with Mr. Bennett’s Jewish Home, a right-wing religious party, they hold about 25 percent of seats in the Knesset. The Orthodox parties aspire to transform Israel into a theocracy. And with an average birthrate of 6.5 children per family among Orthodox Jews (compared with 2.6 for the rest of the Jewish population), their dream might not be too far away.
By contrast, Iran has a falling birthrate — a clear indication of growing secularism, and the sort of thing that keeps Ayatollah Khamenei awake at night.
The long-term power of these demographic trends will, in our view, override Iran’s current theocratic intransigence and might eclipse any fleeting victories for liberalism in Israel.
Israel’s shift toward orthodoxy is not merely a religious one. Since the vast majority of Orthodox Jews are also against any agreement with the Palestinians, with each passing day, the chances of reaching a peace deal diminish. Nor is time on the side of those who want to keep seeing a democratic Israel.
If Israel continues the expansion of settlements, and peace talks serve no purpose but the extension of the status quo, the real existential threat to Israel will not be Iran’s nuclear program but rather a surging tide of economic sanctions.
What began a few years ago with individual efforts to get supermarket shoppers in Western countries to boycott Israeli oranges and hummus has turned into an orchestrated international campaign, calling for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israeli companies and institutions. From academic boycotts to calls for divestment on American university campuses to the unwillingness of more and more European financial institutions to invest in or partner with Israeli companies and banks that operate in the West Bank, the “B.D.S.” movement is gaining momentum. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently called B.D.S. advocates “classical anti-Semites in modern garb.”
In the past, Israel could rely on Western nations and especially the United States to halt such initiatives, but as the fabric of Israel’s population changes, and Jewish populations in the West become less religious and less uncritically pro-Israel, the reflex to stand by the Jewish state, regardless of its policies, is weakening. Moreover, as Western countries shift toward greater respect for human rights, the occupation is perceived as a violation of Western liberal norms. A new generation of American Jews sees a fundamental tension between their own liberal values and many Israeli policies.
This, coupled with the passing of the older generation and a high rate of interfaith marriage among American Jews, means the pro-Israel lobby will no longer be as large or as united as it used to be. While American presidents from Lyndon B. Johnson to Barack Obama have declared that the United States’ commitment to Israel flows from strategic interests and shared values, in a generation or two, interests may be all that’s left. An opposite shift is occurring in Iran’s diaspora. An estimated five to seven million Iranians live in exile. Their economic, scientific, scholarly and cultural achievements are now well known in the United States thanks to people like the eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. They are increasingly establishing themselves as a powerful force advocating a more democratic Iran and better relations with the United States. Just as a united Jewish diaspora once helped the new state of Israel join the ranks of prosperous, industrialized states, Iran’s diaspora could one day play a similar role for a post-theocratic Iran.
One of Israel’s most popular singers, the Iranian-born Rita Jahanforuz, laments on her recent album, “In this world, I am alone and abandoned, like wild grass in the middle of the desert.”
If Iran’s moderates fail to push the country toward reform, and if secular Israelis can’t halt the country’s drift from democracy to theocracy, both Iranians and Israelis will increasingly find themselves fulfilling her sad prophecy.

UN Security Council holds urgent session on Ukraine upon Russian request
The United Nations Security Council has gathered for an urgent, open format session, to discuss the situation in eastern Ukraine at Russia's request at 04:00 am Moscow time on Monday (08:00 pm GMT), Russia's Permanent Mission to the UN says. Ukraine's UN envoy Yuriy Sergeyev also takes part in a Security Council meeting.
The UN Security Council has called an emergency meeting at Russia's request to discuss the growing crisis in Ukraine. The President of the Security Council confirmed in an email that members have been invited to attend "informal consultations" on Ukraine on Sunday evening.
The meeting comes as the new Ukrainian government declared it would deploy armed forces to quash anti-Maidan protests in eastern Ukraine.
Read more:

Russia’s top diplomat to discuss Ukraine with President Xi Jinping in China visit

Russia's Sergei Lavrov will visit China next week and the crisis in Ukraine will top the agenda in talks with President Xi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing next week and will discuss with him the situation in Ukraine, the Russian foreign ministry said on Sunday.
Lavrov will visit China on Tuesday, ahead of four-way talks between diplomats from the European Union, United States, Ukraine and Russia planned in Geneva on Thursday. Those talks are now in doubt amid violent clashes between supporters of Kiev and pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine.
In meetings with China’s leader and its Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Lavrov plans to “devote special attention to the situation in Ukraine,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement on its website.
“As is known, China in its approach sticks to a balanced and objective position, demonstrating understanding of the entire totality of factors, including historical ones, leading to new realities in this region,” Moscow said.
China on March 27 abstained from voting as the United Nations General Assembly adopted a Ukraine-backed resolution condemning Crimea’s referendum on joining Russia and refusing to recognise Russia’s annexation of the peninsula.

Video: Behind the scenes at anti-Maidan barricades in Slavyansk, east Ukraine

Who wins post election Afghanistan? A new president? Or the Taliban?

We don't yet know who the next president of Afghanistan will be. But there are good omens:
•The recent Afghan vote, its outcome still unresolved, was substantially cleaner than the corruption-filled, ballot-box-stuffing 2009 election of President Hamid Karzai.
•When the results are totaled, whoever wins won't be Karzai.
Last weekend, Afghan voters turned out in massive numbers, despite the looming threat of Taliban attacks. They waited in long lines, in the rain, at schools and mosques. Many polling places ran out of ballots and had to be resupplied. Some voters trekked from Taliban-controlled villages to cast ballots in the greater security of nearby cities and towns.
They all shared one thing: determination. They would not be denied their right to vote. "We showed the world we are a democracy," Karzai told the nation in an evening address.
So they did. And they also showed the world that there's much work still to be done to secure the entire country from the barbaric Taliban. Afghan officials declined to open 956 of a planned 7,168 polling stations because they were located in regions that soldiers and police couldn't secure.
The Taliban are "stepping up their campaign of terror," Time magazine reports. The election? "The Taliban are not especially interested in who wins: Bullets and bombs, not ballots, are their ticket to power."
That raises the possibility that, with the U.S. approaching substantial if not total withdrawal from the country, the invidious Taliban ultimately will win Afghanistan.
Afghanistan still needs U.S. military help to tamp down the Taliban. The country's fragile democracy can't yet stand on its own. But, to Washington's frustration, Karzai has thumbed his nose at this reality. He refused to sign a security agreement that would allow several thousand U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan to carry out anti-terrorism operations and help train Afghan forces after a planned allied troop withdrawal at the end of the year.
He refused, in other words, to help the next president, the next government of Afghanistan, prevail against the Taliban.
Luckily, each of the three leading presidential candidates has pledged to sign the security agreement. We'd expect a done deal on the new president's first day in office.
The next president of Afghanistan still faces monumental challenges to boost the economy, tame the terrorists and curb rampant government corruption. But let's not overlook a decade of progress. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, James Dobbins, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, ticks off hard-won gains:
The size of the Afghan economy has more than quadrupled, with GDP reaching $19.1 billion in 2011, up from $4 billion in 2002. Longevity has increased by 20 years to over 62 years in 2012 from 42 in 2002, an extraordinary improvement. Literacy has more than doubled to nearly 30 percent in 2012 from 12 percent in 2003. With nearly a third of all Afghans currently in school, including more than four million girls, the literacy rate should double again in the coming years.
Another stirring sign of change: Some 300 women were on the ballot for provincial council seats, more than ever before. For the first time, a woman ran for vice president.
These huge gains, however, are reversible. The Taliban have been subdued, not defeated. When not launching disruptive attacks, they bide their time, waiting for the American drawdown that President Barack Obama long ago telegraphed.
For lack of a security agreement with Karzai, Obama has threatened the "zero option" — leaving no American troops after 2014.
But leaving Afghanistan now is a sure way to invite the Taliban back to power.
Such a move would squander a decade of American sacrifice and leave Afghanistan vulnerable to a terrorist takeover, as the next president of Afghanistan will surely tell Obama.

Partial results of Afghanistan election, Abdullah 41.9 %,Ghani 37.6%

Partial results in Afghanistan's crucial presidential election show a tight race between ex-foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah and former finance minister Ashraf Ghani. Abdullah has received 41.9 percent of the votes counted so far and Ghani has 37.6 percent.
The chairman of the Independent Election Commission, Ahmad Yousuf Nouristani, warned that the front-runner could easily change.
The results released Sunday are for 10 percent of the vote in 26 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. They represent a little over 500,000 of the 7 million ballots cast.
Abdullah, who came in second in the disputed 2009 election, had 212,312 votes. Ghani had 190,561 and former foreign minister Zalmai Rassoul trailed with 49,821 votes.
Full preliminary results are due April 24. A runoff in May could be necessary if no candidate gets a majority.

Peshawar witnesses 10 blasts during ceasefire

Though no major act of terrorism occurred in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after the announcement of truce by outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), there was no stop to sporadic attacks on the law enforcement agencies and incidents of targeted attacks on well-off people.
Official sources revealed that a total of 10 explosions, including one suicide attack, took place in March only in Peshawar. About 14 people were killed and 43 others wounded in the terrorist acts, but TTP did not claim responsibility for these incidents while it continued to engage in negotiations with the government.
Compared to the previous few years these incidents look nominal, still it is a matter of concern for the investigators as to who is involved in the terrorist acts when TTP has already announced a ceasefire and Lashkar-i-Islam (LI) of Khyber Agency has been engaged in operation.
The suicide attack was made on a police party on March 15 at Batatal area of Sarband in the suburbs of Peshawar where 12 people were killed and over 30 injured. However, most of the other bomb blasts were intended for extortion purpose in different localities. Some of the houses like that of former provincial minister and industrialist Haji Mohammad Javaid were attacked twice within a short span of time, but the attackers are yet to be traced and arrested.
According to police sources, the attackers have been using the name of the banned organisation and demanding millions of rupees as donation, and those refusing to accept such demands have to face the wrath of terrorists in the shape of bomb blasts at their houses.
Most of those who came under attack are running some kind of business, but they avoid giving applications to police for registration of cases or nominating anyone in FIRs in the relevant police stations. For the police, the extortion cases are now a routine and crime of a normal nature because of the repeated huge blasts in the past. The investigators rarely bother to take small blasts seriously and treat them as a routine matter, and thus prefer to close the files by submitting the traditional investigation reports.
These sabotage acts have scared the business community and the traders are repeatedly appealing for taking appropriate steps for protection of people. They are of the opinion that police have given a free hand to criminals and failed to arrest the extortionists.
“We do not accept the police version that extortionist groups have been busted, as none of them are produced before the anti-terrorism court,” said Haji Sharafat Ali Mubarak, president of Anjuman-i-Tajiran Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while talking to this reporter. The business community, he said, was very much worried as the government was not serious about provision of protection to the working class. He said that the government employees were also facing serious problems due to the threats sent to them for payment of extortion money.
“The government has passed security ordinance and directed the traders to arrange private security for their personal protection in addition to installation of closed-circuit television cameras at the working places and avoid allowing customers unless they were fully searched, but we are not ready to accept such laws,” he said.
Mr Mubarak said that the traders were regularly paying taxes to the government and it was duty of the rulers to ensure security to the people otherwise masses would stop paying taxes. In the face of such laws, he said, no one could run business rather they would defy the law in a state of compulsion. Giving an example, he said that there was only one four-star hotel in Peshawar and the law was meant for five- or four-star hotels, but police were applying it to the ordinary hotels to mint money.
However, he appreciated the checking of tenants in rented buildings and said that traders were ready to extend full cooperation in implementation of the law in residential colonies so that suspected people could be checked. He asked the government to stop harassing the business community in the name of security law and fulfil its prime responsibility of ensuring protection to the people at all costs.
Former information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said that the government had badly failed to protect lives of people and it was trying different tactics for saving its own skin, but people of the province knew about everything. He said that innocent people were killed, kidnapped and forced to pay huge extortions and as result they were leaving the province for safer places. The government, he said, should provide protection to the people otherwise a sense of deprivation and insecurity would spread among them.
However, police spokesman Jalaluddin rejected the comments about the police’s failure and said that several groups of attackers and extortionists had been arrested so far and produced before the relevant courts for awarding them punishment according to the law. The gangs, he said, were busted in the areas of Hayatabad, Yakatoot, Peshtakhara, Faqirabad and Bana Mani, but it was a human society and nobody could totally purge it from criminals. The gangsters, he said, used to cash the name of proscribed organisations, but in fact they had no association with them. In most of the cases, he said, Afghan nationals had been found involved in such cases while in others the relatives had been arrested plotting to mint money. The accused persons are habitual criminals who have no sympathy even for relatives and their only purpose was to accumulate wealth.
About the bomb blasts and grenade attacks on houses, he said that the society was full of such things due to the prevailing disturbed situation. He said that crackers were easily available in the markets for different celebrations, but terrorists were using them for their own motives. When contacted, Peshawar SSP (investigation) Masood Khalil said that the explosive devices were China-made and the people had been using them in case of enmities. He said that checking of imported items was the duty of the relevant departments. He said that police were trying their best to stop criminal acts like explosion, but it was impossible to deploy police at every place.

Date Fixed For The Next Court Trial Of Asia Bibi.

Asia Bibi will emanate before the Honorable Mr. Justice Sardar Tariq Massod and Mr. Justice Abdula Sami Khan for final arguments.
Assuming from the recent verdicts made against individuals accused beneath the blasphemy law, it is not looking probable that the verdict against Asia will be promising. On April 4, a Christian couple from Gojra, Shafaqat Emmanuel, a handicap man, and his illiterate wife Shagufta Kausar, were found convicted of sending a text message offensive to the Prophet Muhammad to the imam of their resident mosque.
They were penalized to death just days subsequently Sawan Masih was convicted with the same verdict for ostensibly offensive and invasive towards the Prophet Muhammad during a discussion with his Muslim friend in Lahore’s Joseph Colony in March 2013.
It is thought the judges were biased and unfair when they were assembling their judgments and did so in force from Islamic extremists.
But in spite of this milieu and a history of alike blasphemy cases against Christians, Asia and CLAAS are still optimistic that the verdict will go on her way.
She has continuously moaned her virtuousness and if the judges’ core their judgments on the facts of her case, rather than political and Islamic extremist pressure, she should be freed.
Director CLAAS UK, Nasir Saeed, is asking the global community and Christians all over the planet to pray for Asia and a progressive conclusion for her situation.
He said: “We are optimistic that justice will prevail and that Asia will be cleared of all charges. However, we need the prayers of the international church and Christian supporters so that the judges can be free of all pressure from Islamic extremists and make a just decision according to the facts, and fearing God. We also need prayers for asia, so that she remains strong in her belief in Christ, and had faith that she will be freed.”
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Pakistan: Zero degree of interest: No roof, no wall - 28 years of classes under the sky in AJK

The Express Tribune
Even the hardy mouth of irony twists itself in a half-amused, half-sad smile at the sight of over a hundred children taking lessons under the open sky near the house of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Education Minister Matloob Inqalabi in Kotli’s Battal village, some 180 kilometres from the capital city.
Established in 1986, the Government Primary School is not just without a building, but also lacks desks and benches for the students. Both boys and girls take their classes patiently seated on red rugs spread over stones. Even after 28 years of its inception, the education department has not yet approved the construction of a much-needed building for the school.
“In the rain, we cannot study while in the scorching heat, we have no shelter to protect ourselves from the sun which beats down directly upon us,” said Mahrukh Anwar, a fourth grader. Their only respite in the summers is a tree located in the middle of the school, under which all the students huddle together for shade, she said.
Sitting on a filthy rug in front of a black board, a fifth grader Bilal Jamal said it was difficult to concentrate in the long summer days especially, in the absence of fans.
To add to the students’ woes, the school has no toilet facilities. The students instead rush behind bushes in the open fields to attend to the call of nature. Moreover, there is no sign of any road connecting the village to the school. “I don’t think the current Education Minister is solely responsible for the present condition of the school,” said Khalid Hassan, a senior teacher at the school, while talking to The Express Tribune.
Since 1986, many public representatives from the Khui Ratta constituency (subsuming Government Primary School Battal) have been made minister but none has given any attention to the sorry state of facilities at the school, lamented Hassan.
Zaffar Ahmad Zaffar, father of a second grader, woefully stated that many poor parents like him have no choice but to send their children to the school. Many people from the area are now settled in the Gulf States, United States and Britain allowing for top-of-the-line educational facilities, while we are forced to send our children to this school sans a proper building even, he complained.
Access to modern education is the fundamental right of the people and its provision is the government’s responsibility, Khwaja Saleem, another teacher who has been teaching at the school for five years, commented on the sorry state of affairs. If a six-room building could not be constructed since 1986, one can expect very little from such elected representatives of the area, said the disillusioned Saleem.
Haroon Anis, father of two students, said even if constructing the school’s building falls at the bottom of the state government’s priority list, some philanthropists can partner with non-governmental organisations to construct a building. An alternative solution could be canvassing the expatriate Kashmiris for funds, suggested Haris.

PAKISTAN'S SHIA GENOCIDE:Two Shiites Shot Martyred In Quetta
At least two Shiite Muslims were shot martyred by state sponsored terrorists of Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jhagvi at Quetta’s Saryab Road Youif Terminal stop after they were pulled out from a bus of Al-Taqiq Musafir Coach on Saturday, The Shia Post reported.
The terrorists belonging to Ramzan Mengal group killed the two Shiites of Hazara community after their identification. Bodies of both martyrs were shifted to Combined Military Hospital (CMH)l, latter were also shifted to Imambargah Nichari. Both martyrs were identified Najeebullah aged 32 years and Jumma Khan aged 55 years. Jumma Khan was grandfather of Muhammad Nabi.
Imran Qureshi, the Superintendent of Police Sariab Road said that armed militants singled out two members of Shia community from a passenger bus and opened fire on them from a very close range. He said one person was killed on the spot while the other succumbed to his wounds on his way to hospital. The attackers sped away on their motorcycles after the firing.
“The incident as an act of targeted killing,” Qureshi said. The passenger bus was preparing to leave for Karachi when intercepted by militants, he added.
The new killings came as Pakistanis laid to rest Ghulam Haider, a Shia Muslim doctor shot dead by unknown gunmen while on his way home in the port city of Karachi on Friday.
In a similar act of violence on April 10, two Shia Muslim doctors, identified as Qasim Abbas and Haider Raza, as well as Shia lawyer Waqar Shah and a young man were assassinated by unknown attackers in Karachi.
Pro-Taliban militants target Shia Muslims in Pakistan on a regular basis, attacking doctors and lawyers as well as religious gatherings.
The country’s Shia leaders blame the government for failing to provide security for the Muslim minority. Islamabad has also come under fire by Human Rights Watch. The New York-based group has urged Pakistan to hold accountable those responsible for ordering and participating in the deadly attacks on Shias.

Pakistan: Creeping Shia genocide

The increasing murders of Shias in Karachi add sectarian violence to the already existing criminal and political violence spiralling out of control in that city. On Wednesday a 50-year-old Shia doctor was gunned down outside a hospital while three Shia seminary students were also killed and two injured by gunmen on a motorcycle, all in the Gulistan-e-Johar area. On Tuesday a Shia homeopath was killed, and yesterday a prominent lawyer was murdered. While Karachi remains torn by political and criminal turf wars, mostly for control of extortion revenues from businesses, sectarian strife adds its own grisly aspect to the carnage. Criminal and political turf wars are closely intertwined; police allege that their attempts to catch criminals are almost always thwarted by powerful politicians or officials demanding the release of the accused or that investigations be dropped. Things were bad enough when the police only had the.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) to deal with. Now the multiplicity of political forces vying for control in the city and makes the police's task almost impossible. Given the broader context of sectarian and religious strife in the country, the murder of Shias amounts to a creeping genocide that has been ongoing for almost two decades. Karachi is home to numerous religious communities and sects, but many people from minority denominations are finding it impossible to live in the city any more because sectarian killers deliberately target them, as opposed to criminals and political thugs who can be paid off.
The bombing in Abbas Town in March 2013 that killed 50 and injured hundreds of people in a primarily Shia neighbourhood showed the extent to which Shias in the city are under threat and the hatred sectarian killers carry. Their goal is to eliminate a large minority population completely, since the Shia community is unlikely to give in to forced conversions and marriages the way many members of the Hindu and Christian communities are reportedly forced to do. Karachi suffers because minority communities have been a part of the economic and social fabric of the city for generations. Their increasing flight reduces Karachi's cosmopolitan outlook that is a magnet for investors, and also deprives the city of thriving business communities that have established economic benefits for the city. The Ahlesunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) openly advocate the murder of Shias. Neither has been taken on by the government in their strongholds in Punjab. While Karachiites are used to criminals and have learnt to deal with them, sectarian killers cannot be bargained with. Political and criminal elements in Karachi will require a broad strategy to be dealt with. Sectarian killings are deeply tied to the country's other problems and must be dealt with urgently before Pakistan's commercial and financial hub is brought to its knees.

Pakistan: Terrorists are private army of present rulers

Patron-in-Chief of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri, calling the terrorists as ‘private army’ of the incumbent government, said the present rulers are intent on confrontation among the national institutions. Addressing a press conference through video link from Canada, Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri said the government is adopting extremely humiliating attitude towards Pakistan’s armed forces—that has been the track record of the present rulers. Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri, a prolific author with 1200 books to his name, asserted Pakistan Army was being sullied with former president Pervez Musharraf being turned into a scapegoat. Replying to a query regarding former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s treason trial, Dr. Qadri noted he was not opposed to the opening of case against the former general; instead, he wanted the case to start from October 12, 1999, not November 3, 2007. He added all those involved in subverting the constitution should be brought to book. The founder of Minhaj-ul-Quran started his press conference by announcing to organize mass demonstrations across the country on May 11, the day when the present government will celebrate its one year in power.

The rise and fall of the communist party of Pakistan

Pakistan’s first communist party was actually formed in India (!). The Communist Party of India (CPI) was of the view that the newly created country (Pakistan) was ripe for a communist revolution due to the fragile nature of the country’s politics and economics at the onset of the partition of India in 1947.
The CPI sent a number of its Muslim members (led by Marxist intellectual, Sajjad Zaheer), to Pakistan for the purpose of fostering ties with labour leaders, students and leftist politicians and to prepare the ground for a communist revolution in Pakistan.
‘Entryism’ — originally a Marxist concept (honed by Soviet communist leader, Leon Trotsky) in which dedicated members of a small communist party were encouraged to infiltrate strong progressive and/or socialist ‘bourgeoisie outfits’ to gain direct access to a larger polity — was also explored.
Zaheer formed the Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP) in 1948 in Kolkata and then shifted the party to Pakistan. The party began organising itself in both wings of the country (East Pakistan and West Pakistan).
As planned, it also forged links with labour leaders and trade unionists and gave shape to an active student organisation, the Democratic Students Federation (DSF). The latter not only became the party’s student-wing, but also the country’s leading student outfit at the time.
As a strategy the student group and the labour unions were not officially proclaimed to be wings of the CPP but had secret CPP workers at the helm of these organisations.
CPP was Leninist in orientation. Due to lack of developed bourgeoisie capitalism and the consequential absence of a strong urban proletarian base in the newly formed country, CPP tried to implement the Leninist idea of triggering and guiding a communist revolution through a small, well-trained and dedicated group of intellectuals and workers (like the Russian revolutionary, Vladimir Lenin, had done in Russia in 1917).
Interestingly (and ironically) Leninist and Trotskyite concepts such as of forming a select group of revolutionary elite and of Entryism would both be eventually embraced and incorporated by such anti-left religious parties as the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI).
Equally interestingly, though the CPP was active in organising industrial workers and peasants for the purpose of creating a communist uprising, it tried to hasten the revolutionary process in Pakistan by unwittingly getting involved in the ambitious plan of a military coup by Major-General Akbar Khan.
Major-General Akbar was a popular personality in the Pakistan Army and had fought in Pakistan’s first war with India in 1948 (over the Kashmir issue).
He was offended by Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan’s decision to end the protracted war (in 1949) and began planning to overthrow the government.
Akbar had also been an avid admirer of Turkey’s Kamal Ataturk and was given to outbursts against the government in gatherings. He had befriended Sajjad Zaheer and some Marxist intellectuals and progressive poets (such as Faiz Ahmed Faiz), with whom he began to discuss his idea of pulling off a ‘progressive-nationalist coup.’
After recruiting some officers from the military and the police, Akbar approached his friends in the CPP and asked them to help him streamline his post-coup government through the CPP and the influence that the party had at the time over progressive/leftist student groups, labour unions and the intelligentsia. However, in 1951 some officers that Akbar had recruited spilled the beans and Akbar’s planned coup was nipped in the bud by the government and the military.
Akbar, his wife, poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz and dozens of officers and CPP members (including Sajjad Zaheer) were arrested, tried and thrown in jail. The CPP was banned.
Though initially given long jail terms, by the mid-1950s however, the failed coup-makers were pardoned. Sajjad Zaheer and those who had come with him from India were deported back to India. The remaining CPP leadership went underground and used its student-wing, the DSF, as a front organisation. In 1954 the DSF too was banned. But the party continued to operate in a more clandestine manner as many CPP members (through Entryism) continued to function secretly within progressive parties like the Azad Pakistan Party and the National Awami Party (NAP).
The NAP had risen to become the largest leftist party in the country in the 1960s. Though it was largely made-up of progressive Pakhtun, Baloch, Sindhi and Bengali nationalists, most of its Punjabi and Mohajir members belonged to the CPP who were operating from within NAP. CPP’s Entryism also saw it infiltrating the time’s largest leftist student group, the National Students Federation (NSF).
1960s was also a period when ‘socialist sectarianism’ in the communist world came out into the open as the world’s two major communist powers, the Soviet Union and China, suffered a major political and ideological rift. As a consequence, communist parties all over the world split into pro-Soviet and pro-China (Maoist) factions. NAP suffered the same fate when in 1967 the pro-Soviet faction became NAP-Wali and the pro-China faction became NAP-Bhashani. The CPP operating within NAP and NSF also experienced a split. Its pro-Soviet members moved into NAP-Wali (that was the larger faction), whereas its pro-China members either joined NAP-Bhashani or Z A. Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). However, some pro-China CPP members also formed their own organisations, like the militant Mazdoor Kissan Party (MKP). Inspired by the beginning of the Maoist ‘Naxalite’ guerrilla movement in India and Mao’s ‘Cultural Revolution’ in China, MKP activists, led by Pakhtun Maoist, Afzal Bangash, travelled to Hashtnagar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Charsadda District and began to arm and organise the peasants against the local landlords.
MKP’s movement was crushed in 1974.
The CPP continued to stick to its policy of Entryism and functioning within mainstream progressive parties and student groups. It was active against the Zia dictatorship in the 1980s, working inside parties like the PPP, Awami Jamhoori Party, NSF, etc. However, as enthusiasm for leftist ideologies began to wane in the late 1980s and the Soviet Union began to suffer from grave economic problems, the CPP’s decision to give up its policy of Entryism and exist as it had in the early 1950s came a tad too late.
It could not retain its original shape and sheen and became increasingly marginalised.
What’s more, not only did it continue to experience splits and further marginalisation, it completely failed to update its narrative and historical and dialectic understanding of international and local economic and political affairs and their socio-political consequences in a very different post-Cold War and then post-9/11 world.
However, though the CPP’s existence in the country’s mainstream political scene was short- lived, it threw up an impressive number of Marxist activists who went on to drive a series of left-wing political and student parties, trade and labour unions and progressive publications.

Why Pakistan Is Not Changing

By Zulfiqar Shah
"Change" and "Pakistan" are the words of significant disconnect for Pakistanis and the world outside. The world outside has many illusions about Pakistan. The federation of the Indus civilizations' muslim majority states is merely 70 years old, but houses a contemporary history of global geo-political engagements and is the epicenter of terror and violence in the name of Islam. It's also a hot spot for ethnic chauvinism that runs through the tectonic plates of the iron-clad military headquarters at Rawalpindi.
The vast majority of Pakistanis at home and abroad, as well as the stakeholder international community, have one common concern: why Pakistan is not changing for the better. A quest to seek answers needs a microcosmic reading of the ingredients and dynamism of change in Pakistan society vis-à-vis its state oligarchy and power matrix.
Class Complexities
Pakistan has highly peculiar and complex traits of class formation, evolution and transformation, which have no match in the rest of the world in terms of social engineering by the state and its omni-powerful security establishment.During the period of Indian partition, Pakistan was predominantly a rural society comprised of mostly sharecroppers, peasants and landless agriculture laborers. It also had traditional feudal figures called zamindars, who owned arable land traditionally, and feudal lords known as jagirdars, who also held large amounts of arable land that was awarded to them by British colonizers in exchange for their loyalty and collaboration in British imperial endeavors in India. They were predominantly Muslims. Despite three attempts between 1965 and 1978, no effective land reforms took place. The fear of socialist inroads led to Pakistan's establishment - with international support - gradually nationalizing emerging industry. Thus the process for the emergence of industrialists was barricaded. Led by the refugee feudal leadership of the ruling Muslim League and the Punjabi military, feudal lords were strengthened to cement the foundations of the military establishment in politics so that they might remain unchallenged, as urbanization and industrialization were the basis for change.
It is worth mentioning here that during the Indian partition of 1947, the Punjab Regiment of the undivided Indian Army was carved out to become the Pakistan Army. In the later phase of the military takeover of the state in Pakistan, despite leveling the playing field for the development of industrialists, the military itself turned its retired and serving officials into industrialists, thus creating a militarized industrialist and trading class. This ensured the status quo as well as a cushion for military-controlled change in Pakistan. Moreover, by facilitating the employment of state institutions for legitimate use of violence (police, second-tier military outfits like Pakistan Rangers, Frontier Constabulary and Bajwaur Wing) by the feudal loyalists in rural areas, and urban land grabbers, thugs, mafias, mullahs and terrorists in urban hubs like Karachi (Sindh), and to a certain extent in Quetta (Balochistan), Peshawar (Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa) and Lahore (Punjab), the security establishment created a "third state" to safeguard its interests. Thus, the elements of change were permanently resisted in Pakistan.
This resistance was further fueled and infected by the funded seminaries (madrasas) preaching the Salafi brand of Islam among the majority Sunni muslims of Pakistan, who were mostly Sufi by the cultural virtues of the Indus civilization. Hence, the mechanisms to transform Pakistan from rural and feudal into modern; from religious extremism of central Punjab and parts of South Punjab and Pashtun tribal areas into liberal; and urban mafias, thugs, and terrorists into change-monger city dwellers has been taken over by the military and its broader security establishment. Therefore, the shrinking of civil and liberal spaces in Pakistan has become phenomenal - despite the fact that the majority of the citizens in Pakistan that reside in the Sindh, Balochistan, South Punjab and Pashtun belt are either secular (as in the case of Sindh) or liberal. Consequently, talking about change in Pakistan means coining terms like "pro-civilians of the military" and "pro-military civilians." Maverick terms like "liberal extremists" are usually used by the extremist component of the Pakistani security establishment to describe the vocal Sindhi classes and socio-political elements.
Ethnicity Faultlines
A broader ethnic diversity that could have become a vital motor for progress in Pakistan has now converted into the source of an ethnic divide and antagonism - mostly due to the military and security establishment's preference of some ethnic groups over the others. The unwritten constitution of the Pakistani establishment has one guiding principle - the dividing line between "hard-core" Pakistanis and second-, third- and fourth-level Pakistanis. Hence, trust and participation in statecraft has been prejudicial and exclusionary since the predominantly Punjabi security establishment buys the idea that of citizens belonging to any of the 11 Punjabi-speaking districts of Punjab province, religious Salafi/Wahabi or Sunni muslims are the most trustworthy, hard-core Pakistanis. Urdu-speaking Indian partition refugees from northern India fall into the second "level"; the Hindko-speaking people from Hazara Division of Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa, the third; the Persian-speaking Hazara refugees from Afghanistan in Balochistan, fourth; and Salafi /Sunni Pashtuns are the fifth in the category of so-called "defined priority categorization" of "hard-core" Pakistanis.
This "prioritization" resulted in the inclusion of some ethnic groups in statecraft and the exclusion of others like Sindhi and Baloch, as well as Hindu, Christians, Shia and, to a certain extent, Ahmadis, creating the foundations for ethnic conflict, interest strife, freedom movements and warfare in Pakistan. This matrix of conflict may be categorized as Sindhi, Baloch and Pashtun versus the Punjabi-dominated establishment. It can also be categorized as a competition over participation in governance and access to resources between Baloch and Hazara refugees in Balochistan; Sindhi and Urdu-speaking Sindhis in Sindh and Pashtun and the Hindko-speaking communities in Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa; and between Siraki, Potohari and Punjabi in Punjab. This dynamic has been created in the first instance and is now utilized for furthering the Punjabi-dominated establishment. Eventually, the phenomena has created a Bangladesh (previously East Pakistan)-like situation in Sindh and Balochistan.
A State of Anarchy
Anarchy has engulfed the Pakistani state apparatus. The conflict between the civilian population and noncivilians is at center stage. The former includes the pro-civilian fold, the upholders of civilian dominance in statecraft in the form of political parties: social groups, dissenter individuals and pro-civilian elements. The pro-military fold includes serving and retired armed forces personnel and the military-associated intelligence fraternity, pro-military elements within the political parties and civil bureaucracy and parts of civil society.
Moreover, two groups are crosscutting elements in Pakistan - military and mullah. They have inroads into almost all social groups and schools of thought of the state and society, with the only low-scale "infected elements," the larger majority of activists in Sindh and Balochistan who strive for freedom or secession. This great puzzle of state and society in the South Asia of our times is a predecessor of the ongoing and upcoming worst form of anarchy in the state and the society among the federations of the world.
Road to Change
Achieving positive change in Pakistan would be like an attempt to wash the dirt out from a cowboy's jeans. In the context of socio-economic complexities, political traits and the ethno-religious composition of the military-dominated state apparatus and establishment of Pakistan, there would be some necessary prerequisites. Changing the ethno-religious composition of all civil, military and security governance segments of the state would be a primary requirement. Cutting off the nexus between feudal and urban lords and the criminal security regime of the country - misused for the manipulation of society and polity in favor of military interests - would be necessary. That would also lead to an ultimate shutdown of religious-terrorist factories in Punjab. It is important to de-Punjabize the state apparatus and reduce the existence of Hindko, Urdu and Hazara ethnic minorities, proportionate to their civilian population, however, it is worth mentioning here that the Shia Hazara of Balochistan are also the worst victims of state-sponsored Salafi terrorism.
The change in the ethnic composition of Pakistan's military is the unavoidable prerequisite, given that Sindhis are almost nonexistent in the Sindh Regiment, Baloch in the Baloch Regiment, and Siraki in the Punjab Regiment. The same is evident in the technical corps and specialized formations of the military. Surprisingly, the residents of coastal Sindh and Balochistan are not part of the Naval Forces, and inhabitants of high-altitude mountains are nonexistent in the Air Force. Moreover, the hegemony of Punjab in the Parliament needs to be altered. According to the arrangements under the 1973 constitution of Pakistan, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa provinces together do not form a numerical two-third majority in the parliament to amend the constitution of Pakistan. If desired, the Punjab, in association with its collaborating ethnic minorities, can amend and legislate the constitution. In such a situation, religious extremist Punjabi-speaking Punjabi, eyeing Afghanistan and the Indian Kashmir, can never be willing to undo the Jihadi machinery and repeal notorious laws like the blasphemy law, as well as arrangements that bar nonmuslims from holding the offices of president, prime minister and armed forces chiefs.
Moreover, the preamble to the Constitution of Pakistan should be excluded, as it was, in fact, a resolution by the All India Muslim League's central working committee to turn Pakistan into an Islamic Republic after the death of Jinnah. If these changes are not made, the existence of Pakistan will be disastrous for its own victimized majority of the people in Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa and Siraikistan (South Punjab) and pose a danger of greater anarchy and instability in South Asia and the Central Asian region. There are only two options for Pakistan, according to the realities of our times: Exist after undertaking wider drastic reforms or vanish by dividing into two or three new sovereign countries on the world map. There is no middle path.