Sunday, April 27, 2014
http://www.voanews.com/U.S. President Barack Obama has left Malaysia after holding talks with Malaysia's prime minister on the third leg of a four-nation tour of Asia. - the first trip to the Southeast Asian nation by a sitting U.S. president in nearly five decades. Mr. Obama arrives in the Philippines Monday afternoon, shortly after officials of the two countries signed a new 10-year security pact that will allow for a larger U.S. security presence. The agreement sets up a framework for the rotation of U.S. troops and equipment, such as ships and fighter jets, into Philippine military bases. At a joint news conference Sunday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak expressed his gratitude for American help in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370. Mr. Obama pledged to continue providing all the assistance possible in the search for the plane, which has been missing for seven weeks. The two leaders said they had agreed to upgrade upper-level ties to a "comprehensive partnership," and to cooperate on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact and the nuclear Proliferation Security Initiative, both of which Malaysia has opposed in the past.
When questioned about Malaysia's human rights record, Mr. Obama said the country had made progress on human rights, but still has some work to do. He added that the U.S. does as well. Mr. Obama's two-day trip to Manila is the final stop in his Asia tour, which also included Japan and South Korea. This is Mr. Obama's fifth visit to Asia since taking office in 2009. He has promised to make the Pacific region a greater economic, diplomatic and military priority for the United States.
http://voiceofrussia.com/Syria still holds nearly 8 percent of its chemical weapons arsenal as the deadline expired Sunday for it to be handed over, the task force charged with the operation said. "We are talking of the remaining 7.8 percent chemical weapon material that is currently still in country in one particular site," Sigrid Kaag, head of the combined Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-UN task team, said, AFP reports. Damascus needs to "acquit itself of its commitments", Kaag said, adding that there has been "very constructive cooperation." "We also however need to... ensure the remaining 7.5-8.0 percent of the chemical weapons material is also removed and destroyed." Of that amount, 6.5 percent would be removed from Syria, she said. "A small percentage is to be destroyed, regardless, in-country. That can be done. It's a matter of accessing the site," she added. Kaag, speaking at a press conference in Damascus, praised the "very constructive cooperation" of the Syrian government under difficult security circumstances. "We are mindful that security has many faces and can be very challenging. However, as a state party (to the Chemical Weapons Convention), Syria also needs to acquit itself of its commitments," she said. Under a US-Russian deal negotiated last year, Syria signed up to the Chemical Weapons Convention and agreed to hand over its entire chemical weapons arsenal. Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_04_27/Syria-chemical-deadline-over-8-of-arsenal-remains-OPCW-5879/
After threats from the Bara-based outlawed Lashkar-i-Islam, scores of Afghan and Zakakhel tribesmen from Khyber tribal region’s Bara area on Sunday have started shifting to safer places. Tribal and the official sources confirmed that the Mangal Bagh-led Lashkar-i-Islam had warned Afghan refugees and the Zakakhel Shinwari tribes, a sub-tribe of the Afridis, and known their tribal fierceness, living in the area to announce allegiance to the Lashkar or leave Bara where the banned group is still known to have stronghold. Most of these people were settled in Akakhel, Sipah, Malikdin Khel and Shalobar areas in Khyber region who were given the deadline of April 27, 4 pm to take either of the options as their decision. The tribals in Bara area said that the militants of Lashkar-i-Islam had visited them personally and asked them to support the banned organisation while warning that they would have to leave the area in case they decided else wise. An Afghan refugee Rehman Gul who was leaving from Bara via Bara Qadeem check post, to a safer place told Dawn that the banned outfit has threatened the refugees to vacate the area. He said that they had been living in Bara for the past 27 years and now were forced to leave. “I am moving to my relatives’ place in Baghbanan area near Urmar, which is safer than here,” he added. Qayyum Khan, the in-charge of the Police checkpost at Bara Qadeem, on the border of restive Bara region said that so far between 10 to 15 families had crossed the border with their luggage and they were still many moving out from the area. When asked about the reasons for the movement of these people, he said although the exact reasons were not known but many of the displacing people had said that they were forcibly evicted by some Bara-based militant groups. Another Afghan named, Abdul Qadeem who was also shifting his family said: “I was asked to provde fighters, or money, to Mangal Bagh, the chief of Lashkar-i-Islam, either of which I couldn’t so I had to move out.” “We had been living peacefully for the past many years with the locals and now we don’t want to become a party in their personal fight,” he said. He added that there were hundreds of Shinwaris and Afghans who would have to leave the region if they choose not to be a part of the fight. A political administration official who wished not to be identified said that the militant group wanted to recruit people forcibly from the areas and that’s why they were forcing the Afghans and the other tribes to give them fighters or money to supplement their strength.
On Easter Day,Saira,a Christian girl, was raped by one Muslim man Mohammad Fakhar Alam alias Phool in village Mahly Ki Tehsil Daska District Sialkot.The little girl was not hospitalized three days and remained in bleeding.Two Muslim Landlords Mr. Ahmad Yar Nagra and Mr.Zulifqar Nagra made pressurized her family not to file complaint against the rapist.
Within one week, the fortunes of Geo TV, Pakistan’s largest news channel, have been turned upside down. From being the market leader by far in terms of ratings, today it is fighting for its survival, as the Pakistan government – pushed on by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), wants its broadcast licence to be cancelled. What Geo did last week is unheard of. It named the country’s ISI chief Lt General Zaheerul Islam as the man possibly behind an attack on their most prominent news anchor Hamid Mir, whose car was ambushed as it left the Karachi airport by unidentified persons on motorbikes. Mir survived the attack but his statement that if anything happened to him, the ISI chief should be held accountable, was broadcast on Geo TV within 40 minutes of the attack. Till today, Geo TV has not apologised for its statement. There has been much damage control, but on Friday last, Mir made another statement that was read out by his brother Amir Mir from hospital. Mir likened the present situation to when his channel rose up against president Musharraf’s military government. “Even then, we faced a big challenge but by the grace of God, we emerged victorious.” Mir said the ISI was upset with him for reporting on the plight of Pakistan’s missing persons from Balochistan – where thousands of men have gone missing over the past five years as security agencies try to quell a full blown insurgency. Mir’s programme Capital Talk is one of the highest rated in the industry. He is a household name and no stranger to controversy. His first claim to fame was when as a freelancer, he sold an interview he took of Osama Bin Ladin to the conservative and highly respected Daily Dawn newspaper in which Ladin claimed he had access to nuclear weapons. The interview created a furore, and the paper’s editor was sacked soon after for letting such a misleading piece go into print. At the time it was alleged that Mir worked at the behest of the ISI. Now, it seems the tables have turned. The ISI has come down strong on the allegations. Agency officials have visited not only the Jang Group headquarters in Karachi but have also met proprietor Mir Shakil ur Rehman, who lives in Dubai. They have also ensured that both the transmission of Geo, and the distribution of sister publications Daily Jang, which is Pakistan’s largest circulated daily, and The News, its English language equivalent are stopped in cantonment areas. Not to be outdone, other media houses have taken up the fight at the behest of the ISI. Most notable is the Express Group, which is the second largest group in terms of print. The Group has launched a drive to “cleanse the country of anti-state media” as stated in its editorial that appeared in the Roznama Express newspaper. Following closely are other smaller media houses including ARY News, which seem to be using the opportunity to curry favour with the ISI. “Geo crossed the line with its unsubstantiated attack,” says Commander Najeeb, a retired officer. He, along with Major Muhammad Arif, another retired army man, are amongst thousands who have started a campaign on social media to boycott anti-state media. Not to be outdone, politicians are following suit. On Friday, Imran Khan told a party convention that Geo put commercial considerations above national interest. “They sold out,” he said. And his attack was more towards India as Geo and its parent body, the Jang Group, has been involved in the Aman-ki-Asha initiative from this side of the border. - See more at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/geo-tv-caught-between-hamid-mir-isi-row/article1-1212671.aspx#sthash.eUpHPvdo.dpuf
Hamid Mir has rejected Chaudhry Nisar’s statement that he didn’t receive any threat since the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government came to power.
Senior Pakistani TV journalist Hamid Mir, who escaped an assassination attempt, has blamed the "ISI within the ISI" for orchestrating the attack on him alleging that he is receiving messages which "advise" him to leave the country. Mir, who is currently being treated after being shot six times in Karachi, said his attackers were "those who track the movement of Pakistani journalists, tap their phones". The 47-year-old Mir said he has been told to leave Karachi and Pakistan as "it will be a long fight". "People visit me in guise of friends but leave after conveying threatening messages of the foes," said the senior journalist in his first interview yesterday after the attack. A high voltage controversy erupted in the wake of the gun attack on Mir with his brother accusing "certain elements" in the ISI and its chief of orchestrating the attack. Mir said it was the "ISI within the ISI" with ties to jihadi groups which was behind the April 19 gun attack. "I am pointing towards the 'ISI within the ISI'. I have informed my organisation in writing on numerous occasions," he told BBC Urdu. "The most worrying thing is that outfits that have been banned by the government have been staging rallies in the support of ISI," he stressed. The anchor added that he had had a history of receiving threats from all quarters, and that even after being attacked he was being passed on messages through interlocutors which "advised" him to leave the country. "There are some people who pose as friends but bring me messages from the enemy. They bring messages that there will be another attack on you, leave Pakistan. Just yesterday, someone very responsible visited me and told me that I will be attacked again. People pose as my well-wishers and say that I should leave." Asked who were the enemies, Mir said they were the ones who were tracking his movements. "My attackers are those who track the movement of Pakistani journalists, tap their phones. Only they could know from which flight, at what time Hamid Mir will reach Karachi, and which car will go to pick him, when he exits the airport and where to attack him where CCTV cameras are not working. Even the Karachi police chief is now admitting CCTV cameras there were not working at the time," he said. A judicial commission comprising three Supreme Court judges was formed last week to probe the attack on Mir. The commission has three weeks to submit its report. A reward of Rs 1 crore has been announced for those who will help identify the attackers.
Meanwhile, Hamas spokesperson shoots down 'Washington Post' report that the Islamist group "did not rule out the possibility" that it would recognize Israel. It took five days, but on Sunday EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton formally commented on the recent Fatah-Hamas pact, saying any new Palestinian government must uphold the principle of non-violence, remain committed to a two-state solution, and accept Israel's "legitimate right to exist." The EU has "consistently supported intra-Palestinian reconciliation" along the lines of those terms, Ashton said in a statement. She said that reconciliation "on these terms is an important element for the unity of a future Palestinian state and for reaching a two-state solution and a lasting peace." "The EU welcomes the prospect of genuine democratic elections for all Palestinians. The fact that President [Mahmoud] Abbas will remain fully in charge of the negotiation process and have a mandate to negotiate in the name of all Palestinians provides further assurance that the peace negotiations can and must proceed," she said. The EU, along with the US, Canada, Japan, Australia and Egypt, has classified Hamas a terrorist organization and said it will not engage with the group until it accepts the international community's three conditions. Despite reports from time to time that some representatives of European countries have met in various capacities with Hamas officials, these conditions have for the most part kept the EU from dealing with Hamas since it won PA elections in 2006. Ashton said she was "extremely concerned at recent developments related to the peace process, which are putting into question the continued negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians beyond the original deadline" of April 29. Ashton reiterated the EU's "full support to the US-brokered peace efforts" and called on "both parties to remain focused on negotiations and on the unprecedented benefits which peace can bring. Negotiations are the best way forward. The extensive efforts deployed in recent months must not go to waste." She also called on both sides to "maximum restraint and to avoid any action which may further undermine peace efforts and the viability of a two-state solution." Meanwhile, the Palestinian news agency Ma'an quoted a media adviser to the head of the Hamas government in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, as denying on Sunday reports that Hamas was considering recognizing Israel. The aide, Tahir al-Nunu, told Ma'an that the Islamist movement "cannot" recognize Israel. The Washington Post reported over the weekend that al-Nunu said Hamas "did not rule out the possibility of recognizing Israel." Al-Nunu insisted on Sunday, however, that he was misquoted, and that Hamas "could not" individually recognize Israel. "It is the interim leadership of the PLO who will determine political stances in the coming stage," al-Nunu told Ma'an. The Hamas spokesperson said that the unity government would not be playing a foreign policy role. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday that any unity government involving Hamas would adhere to agreements adopted by Ramallah, including those which bind the Palestinians to nonviolence and recognition of Israel.
The visit of US President Barack Obama to Malaysia is dominated by the Ukraine crisis and the missing Malaysia jetliner.
BY ELY RATNERThe rebalancing to Asia is real and the president isn’t there right now to salvage a phantom policy. Former Vice President Al Gore told a crowd at the University of Hawaii on April 15 that using fake science to mislead the public on climate change is "immoral, unethical, and despicable." Currently on a weeklong trip to Asia, President Barack Obama can probably sympathize, as he faces a cadre of skeptics committed to the idea that one of his leading foreign policy priorities -- the pivot to Asia -- is somehow an illusion. After a decade of war in the Middle East and South Asia, Obama and his national security team launched a comprehensive set of initiatives in the fall of 2011 to afford greater attention and resources to Asia. The official moniker has since evolved into the "rebalancing" to Asia, but its contents haven't changed much. And its achievements are considerable. But don't tell that to the Pivot Deniers, who won't talk about Obama's successes on trade and development in Asia, such as the Lower Mekong Initiative, an innovative assistance program strengthening cooperation among Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam; implementing the U.S.-South Korea free trade agreement, which the U.S. International Trade Commission estimates will increase U.S. exports by over $10 billion through tariff cuts alone; and striving to complete the most important trade deal in a generation, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Pivot Deniers never mention that the United States has dramatically deepened its engagement with the region's institutions, either: Since 2009, it has joined the East Asia Summit, the premier leaders' forum in Asia; stationed a resident ambassador to the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the region's most important multilateral body; and now regularly attends the ASEAN Regional Forum, which, thanks to high-level U.S. participation, has been ground zero for critical multilateral diplomacy on dangerous disputes in the South China Sea. They further ignore the diplomatic opening with Myanmar and the substantial progress in revising the U.S. military presence in the region; new agreements that give U.S. troops access to bases in Australia, the Philippines, and Singapore; and the substantial deepening of U.S. engagement with China that has seen more presidential-level meetings, more substantive cooperation on key geopolitical issues like Iran, and more military-to-military engagement than in the previous decade. The deniers almost universally discount that, in more instances than not, U.S. officials and their counterparts in Asia describe bilateral relations as having "never been stronger." None of that matters to the Pivot Deniers, who refuse to admit that the administration has accomplished more in Asia, and has a more coherent approach to the region than any other part of the world. So who are these folks? The most prominent group is the hardcore anti-Obamanians who fill the conservative halls of Congress and right-leaning think tanks. Facts have failed to clear the fog of the ever-popular "over-promising and under-delivering" meme of Obama's policy. And despite supporting almost every element of the rebalancing strategy, this crowd nevertheless feels compelled to argue that the policy "doesn't really exist" or, even if it once did, is now "dead." No setback or gaffe is too small to elicit a torrent of obituaries. A second group of Pivot Deniers appears more emulous than angry. These are the former Bush administration officials who bristled at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's declarations that "the United States is back" in Asia. They contend that everything Obama has done in the region had antecedents in the mid-2000s. These are Bush initiatives, they say -- Obama is just following through. To them, the rebalancing policy is just a marketing exercise, and a clumsy one at that. They call the pivot a "myth" or a "misnomer," because the United States never left. But they are wrong. U.S. troops based in Japan and South Korea were sent to backfill in Afghanistan and Iraq; and U.S. policy in Southeast Asia after 2001 centered on fighting the war on terror, rather than building stronger institutions and partnerships. That may have been the right call at the time, but there's no question that it distracted from Asia. The final group of deniers is a motley crew of op-ed writers, editors, and D.C. pundits who can't resist the easy hook. Here's how it works: Pick your favorite crisis of the day and use a catchy title like, "Forget Asia -- Pivot to Europe" or "The Year the US Pivoted Back to the Middle East" or even "Are We Pivoting to Africa Rather Than Asia?" Then, without actually assessing U.S. policy in the region, simply declare that, "the pivot to Asia appears to have been largely called off." And even if your article has nothing to do with Asia, use a subtitle like, "How the standoff in Ukraine could split NATO and kill the Asia pivot." [Ed. - Sorry, that one's on us.] Journalists are equally culpable. I get it. Sometimes you need a good narrative and no one -- besides me, perhaps -- wants to read a story titled, "Obama Goes to Asia to Continue Relatively Successful, Long-Term Reorientation of U.S. Foreign Policy." So instead, you go with something foreboding, like "Obama Looks to Salvage Asia ‘Pivot'" or "Obama's Strategic Shift to Asia Is Hobbled by Pressure at Home and Crises Abroad." The problem is that all of this noise and nonsense has led to serious misreporting from some of the best and most reliable commentators in the business. It's simply not true, as the New York Times suggested on the eve of Obama's departure on April 22, that "the larger diplomatic presence [in Asia] has not materialized." Nor is it true, as the Financial Times reported the same day, that: "The main non-military aspect of the pivot is the drive towards a new Trans-Pacific Partnership." Folks, you're better than that. Of course, the administration is partially to blame for the shoddy public discourse on U.S. Asia policy. The president still hasn't spoken to the American people about the importance of Asia, and the White House has been overly reliant on speeches and magazine articles rather than offering an official document on what the rebalancing policy actually entails. But Washington's chattering classes need to do their homework as well. The rebalancing to Asia is real and the president isn't there right now to salvage a phantom policy.
returned as a model for Gul Ahmed. She worked with fashion designers such as Deepak Perwani, HSY, Bunto Kazmi and Nilofer Shahid.Marshall was chosen by Bunto Kazmi to model her clothes in 2000 for a Milan fashion show and later modeled for Dior and Gucci. She starred in Abrar-ul-Haq’s music video Preeto (Pretty) and in the music video for the Shehzad Roy song “Jana”. She appeared in the television movie called Tere Bina (without you) in which she played a young spoiled girl who elopes with her boyfriend and then later learns about the responsibilities of marriage, which was followed by a role in the television drama Malika in which she plays a Fashion Model/Actress who gets ahead of her friend in show business. In November 2010, her two dramas Bahu Rani and Aey Ishq Hamain Barbad Na Ker are currently airing on ARY Digital. She starred in the serial Mere Naseeb Ki Barishein as Maha. The serial finished in September 2010.She has worked in Mera Saaein & is now currently starring in its sequel Mera Saaein 2on Ary Digital. Marshall married actor and model Hasan Ahmed in January 2009, in a Muslim wedding ceremony. Three months later, they married in a Catholic wedding ceremony Karachi (She is Christian and he is Muslim). In March 2011, she gave birth to their first child, a son, Raakin Ahmed and 2nd child name zynah Ahmed baby girl. - See more at: http://www.christiansinpakistan.com/pakistani-christian-model-and-actress-sunita-marshall/#sthash.3L8In8pi.dpuf
Frequent unannounced prolonged load shedding and power outage has once again become a routine with the rising summer heat paralyzing commercial life and industry across the country, Geo News reported. Sources said with the onset of summer heat the consumption of electricity went up further increasing the gap between the generation and consumption of electricity in the country causing immense problem for the people besides water shortage in the rural and urban areas of Sindh and Punjab, where the people complained 14 to 16 hours of horrible power outage and load shedding they are forced to suffer in this scorching heat. People in Jamshoro have went on a shutter down strike in protest against the unannounced prolonged load shedding, while the citizens have staged sit-in on the Indus Highway. The business community in Faisalabad, Sargodha, Gujranawala, Gujrat and other industrial areas also incurring huge business losses due to prolonged power outage. Multan, Khanewal, Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh ‘s rural and urban areas also facing 12/14 hours of load shedding. While the situation in Balochistan is no different as electricity goes off for two hours after every one hour forcing people to live even without water.
A meeting of Economic Advisory Council (EAC) held on Saturday with Finance Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar in the chair discussed all aspects of national economy. The meeting conceded that more than half of the country’s population was living below the poverty line. The meeting decided that any individual earning less than Rs200 or 2 US dollar daily would be considered as poor. The EAC meeting also discussed an increase in the salaries of government employees from July. Any decision in this regard would be taken before the budget.
The Express TribuneAfghanistan may be inches away from its first-ever democratic transition of power, but the refugees living across its eastern border are as far from home as they were when they first set foot on Pakistani soil. United Supreme Council of Afghan Refugees Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) President Haji Rehmatullah Momand migrated to Pakistan in the 1980s when he was barely 10 years old. Hailing from Chaparral district of Nangarhar province in Afghanistan, Rehmatullah started living in one of the refugee camps in Mattani with his siblings, who now have families of their own. With time, their tents have been replaced with shanty mud brick houses which have turned into permanent settlements. The sense of permanence stems from several factors. “The most important thing is Kabul’s lack of policy to solve the refugee problem in addition to lawlessness and a lack of job opportunities,” explained Rehmatullah, who represents the Afghans living in the vicinity. He claimed the Karzai government had promised to provide them with houses in Jalalabad several times but even a blueprint for the project could not be approved in the last 11 years. “Our father had a small house of seven marlas,” Rehmatullah said of his family’s modest abode in Chaparral. “I have seven brothers and sisters who now have their own families so that mud house is no longer big enough for us,” he said. A resident of the Badhaber refugee camp, Ashraf Khan, echoed similar sentiments. “I have bought a taxi and am very happy with my life in Pakistan. I do not see any future in Logar, Afghanistan.” Jostling for space According to UNHCR estimates, there are 1.6 million registered Afghan refugees living in Pakistan, though the actual figure of refugees may be much higher. Around 37% of them are residing in refugee camps while 63% have found a place in rural and urban settlements. UNHCR data maintains there are 65 refugee camps housing 0.47 million people in K-P and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). The Afghan government’s refugee office in Peshawar, however, maintains there are 42 camps in K-P while the Directorate of Afghan Refugees places the total number of camps at 28. “We are short of staff so we have divided these camps into 28 administrative zones; so for us, there are 28 camps,” shared an official of the directorate. He said they wanted the refugees to be repatriated but the Pakistani government was under immense pressure from the United Nations, making any attempt to evict them by force impossible. The burden of accommodating so many refugees means more competition. “They (the refugees) are creating law and order problems, competing with locals for already dwindling job opportunities,” said the official. The long road home A staggering 62% of Afghans are living in K-P and Fata, 20% in Balochistan, 11% in Punjab, 4% in Sindh, 2% in Islamabad and 1% in Azad Kashmir, according to the UNHCR. A UNHCR official said 3.8 million Afghans have returned to their homeland from 2002 to date with the help of the refugee commission. “The situation in Afghanistan is not conducive for a large-scale return of refugees as the country is passing through a transition like the elections and withdrawal of foreign forces, but it could stabilise in 2015,” he said, urging Afghan authorities to create job opportunities, health and education facilities for repatriated refugees. “We do not make the decision on behalf of the refugees for their return to Afghanistan, but we do advocate voluntary return and are committed to support and facilitate the return of those who do want to go back.”
Some of the other radical programmes undertaken by the Saur Revolution were cancellation of revenue dues, equitable distribution of water and establishment of peasant cooperativesSouth Asia is well known for celebrating landmark dates and there are many. However, the Saur Revolution that took place on April 27, 1978 in Afghanistan has been feloniously erased from the annals of regional history. Ever since the dramatic events that led to this revolution and the radical and far-reaching reforms in its aftermath, the corporate media, the intelligentsia and official historians have distorted, debased and tried to obliterate the memory of this glorious episode in Afghanistan’s past. This revolution dared to free the oppressed masses in Afghanistan and the region from centuries of brutal despotism and ferocious devastation by imperialists of all shapes and shades in different historical epochs, and even today remains the only beacon of hope for the toiling masses of this tragic land under mafiosi capitalism and imperialist hegemony as a way out of the ongoing suffering and devastation. Bourgeois hirelings have deliberately equated the Saur Revolution with the occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet army and criminally concealed that Soviet forces entered Afghanistan 18 months after the revolution on December 29, 1979. The first two presidents of post-revolutionary Afghanistan and leaders of the Khalq faction of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), Noor Mohammad Tarakai and Hafeezullah Amin, had little faith in the bureaucratic regime that prevailed in the Soviet Union and were bitterly against any foreign intervention from outside, including the Soviet Union. Tarakai was killed earlier on and it is highly probable that the KGB or the pro-Moscow faction of the PDPA assassinated Hafeezullah Amin on the eve of Russian intervention. It would not be wrong to say that the Saur Revolution was imposed from the top in a revolutionary military uprising with ideological, organisational and political weaknesses and was not a classical socialist revolution from a Marxist standpoint. However, no other event in the history of South Asia struck such a blow to the feudal drudgery, tribal primitiveness, religious oppression and exploitation of capitalism and imperialism. This was a revolution by decree, which was immediately supported by millions of oppressed Afghans. These decrees were directed at the most extreme forms of coercion that prevailed within society. For example, decree six cancelled debts, loans, mortgages and revenues due from peasants to the usurers and big landlords (in most cases inherited debt from generation to generation of peasants). The decree fully exempted “landless persons who work on a landowner’s land as peasant or hireling (wage-labourers)” from paying any dues and usury to the landowners and usurers. Decree seven was “to ensure equality of rights between women and men in the domain of civil law, to eliminate unjust patriarchal feudal relations between wife and husband”. It also criminalised: 1) a girl’s marriage based on exchange for money and goods, 2) forced marriage and 3) acts that either prevent a widow, because of family or tribal kinship, from wilfully remarrying or forcing them into an unwanted marriage. It further fixed the age for engagement and marriage at 16 for women and 18 for men, thus effectively banning child marriage. Decree eight confiscated lands owned by feudals and the deposed royal family without compensation and their redistribution among landless peasants and peasants with small land holdings. Its aim was first and foremost “to eliminate feudal and pre-feudal relations from the social and economic order of the country”. Some of the other radical programmes undertaken by the Saur Revolution were cancellation of revenue dues, equitable distribution of water and establishment of peasant cooperatives. Major literacy programmes were launched: by 1984 one and half million people had finished literacy courses and, in the same year, 20,000 literacy courses were functioning throughout the country, enrolling 377,000 people. The target was to eradicate illiteracy by the year 1986 in urban areas and by 1990 all over Afghanistan. In the period prior to the Saur Revolution, only 5,265 people had finished literacy courses. The leadership of the PDPA (Khalq) initiated these decrees before the intervention of the Soviet forces. They had to overthrow the system, oligarchy of capital and the state even to begin these reforms. The Saur Revolution proved yet again that, in neo-colonial countries, not even the basic tasks of the bourgeois democratic revolution could commence under the rule of this rotten colonial bourgeoisie. Such radical measures were a death knell for imperialist interests and the capitalist-feudal system in the whole region. This sent tremors in the echelons of power from Islamabad to Riyadh, London and Washington. To counteract this revolutionary change springing from Afghanistan, the CIA launched its biggest covert counter-revolutionary operation. This was imperialism’s jihad against ‘communist infidels’. It was a reactionary insurgency that has wreaked havoc in the region, and the imperialists and their vicious stooge Ziaul Haq bred and propped up this bestial menace of Islamic fundamentalism with vast networks of drugs, weapon smuggling and criminal gangs, otherwise known today as the Taliban. Now they have turned into Frankensteins for their own creators. Such has been the devastation from this imperialist counter-revolutionary war that, for 36 years, this region has been plunged into a deadly conflagration that has pulverised the lives of generations of ordinary people. What has been vividly demonstrated is that there is no way out of this war of attrition, bloodshed and mayhem under the present socioeconomic system. The revolution and the counter-revolution in Afghanistan have exposed the absurdity of the Durand Line, artificially drawn in 1893 to dissect a living and dynamic nation of the Pashtuns. However, this also brings to the fore the reality that Afghanistan and Pakistan are integrally linked and only a unified revolutionary approach can overcome the religious and imperialist reactionary mayhem engulfing the whole region. Noor Mohammad Tarakai, leader of the Saur Revolution, was unambiguous on the internationalist character of socialism to succeed and for the survival of revolutionary change. In a speech marking the first anniversary of the Saur Revolution on April 27, 1979, Noor Mohammed Tarakai thundered, “I congratulate my fellow countrymen, gallant soldiers, my Pashtun and Baloch brothers and the workers of Asia, Africa, Europe and the US on the first birthday of the Saur Revolution. The Saur Revolution is not limited to the workers and soldiers of Afghanistan. It is the revolution of the workers and oppressed masses of [the] whole world. This revolution, which was carried out by armed soldiers under the leadership of the Khalq Party, is a great success and a victory for workers all over the world. The great October Revolution of 1917 shook the whole world. That revolution is a source of guidance and inspiration for our revolution, which once again has begun to shake the planet.” This is the real essence of the Saur Revolution and a message to the new generation of workers and oppressed masses of the region, and far beyond. Nothing less than a socialist revolution can deliver the region from this harrowing episode of wars, mayhem, bloodshed, poverty, misery and deprivation.
In recent times, a lot has been articulated to understand the roots of radicalism in Pakistan. Based on the print media’s discourse, the Ziaul Haq rule remains the root of the present face of fundamentalism. A few columnists have even named two-thirds of the total population born after 1977 as ‘Zia’s children’. The question for deliberation is why they are called Zia’s children. Where are Quaid’s children? Why has there not been enough resistance if there were ever Quaid’s children? Right-wing politics and fundamentalist discourse have been engraved into the Pakistani masses and it is not a phenomenon created in 1977 or one that progressed afterwards. In fact, such development has various regimes of power and virtually its function has remained as ubiquitous. The taxonomy of such regimes of power can be divided into four eras: pre-partition, post-partition (upto Zia), Ziaul Haq’s rule and finally post Ziaul Haq to today. During all these regimes, fundamentalist discourse based on binary opposition has succeeded significantly. By fundamentalist binary opposition I mean Muslims and non-Muslims (read, the infidel ‘kaafir’). The binary opposition has always existed in Pakistan. During pre-partition it was based on Hindus versus Muslims and after independence it was mixed up with American/Israeli/Indian versus Muslims. Throughout these years, the dominant discourse has always remained the discourse based on faith. Before partition, the Two Nation Theory (identity solely based on religion as Muslim and Hindus as nations), symbolic association of meaning with faith and slogans like ‘Pakistan ka matlab kiya? La illaha illalah’ (What does Pakistan mean? There is only one God) actually reflect the genealogical traces of the dominant discursive formation. In post-independent Pakistan (pre-Ziaul Haq), the right-wing parties influenced the state and succeeded, i.e. formally Pakistan became the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Influential right-wing tendencies forced a socialist party like the PPP to officially decree Ahmedis as non-Muslims. Discourse such as the PPP being an atheist party to dismantle Islam in Pakistan pressured the PPP to reconsider its manifesto/actions, and it worked. During Ziaul Haq’s rule, significant changes occurred. In fact, he was not a very well known figure among the Pakistani public before he toppled the PPP, the ruling party of that time. However, he was very well aware that he could not survive if he did not satisfy a large number of people in Pakistan. He was very well acquainted with the situation and complexities of Pakistan, and he made the best out of it as a dictator. He began talking about Islamisation: “I have a mission, given by God, to bring Islamic order in Pakistan.” He materialised this through the Hudood Ordinance, establishment of sharia courts, law of evidence, Islamisation of the education system, including curriculum and textbooks, expansion of madrassas (seminaries) and strict dress codes for women. He used an Islamisation process as a political tool and it helped him to rule for the longest time in the history of Pakistan. His period is also described as being “enduring and toxic”. The post-Ziaul Haq rule has remained under the influence of toxicities but it was not just Zia alone but rather the continuity of the same dominant and powerful fundamentalist discourse, which can be traced all the way through to pre-partition. Post-Zia has not produced Zia’s children; rather it has strengthened the same dominant discourse, making Quaid’s children more vulnerable. The dominant discourse driven by faith has been such a powerful discursive force in Pakistan now that it is quite hard to repeal Ziaul Haq’s laws. Even talking of such matters has serious repercussions. Anyone who talks about this issue is assassinated and the murderer is showered with rose petals. The recent discourse regarding terrorism and terrorists has taken a turn from combatant to non-combatant stakeholders and it has left the citizens of Pakistan bewildered about whether they are the democratic citizens of Pakistan or the denizens of an alien land. To encapsulate this lamentable journey, murderers have become ‘brothers’, ‘angry brothers’. Such is the irony in this country! There has been a resistance to such discursive force but it is not as powerful as the right-wing’s impact/successes. Hakimullah Mehsud’s (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s previous chief) death at the hands of the US was hardly applauded at the official level and most of the political parties remained numb. However, it was evident that many felt a sigh of pleasure when the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief called him a martyr (shaheed). In fact, resistance has always echoed from the few groups of people, including religious minorities quoting the speeches of the Quaid-e-Azam, especially the one from August 11, 1947. One of the reasons behind the popularity of Imran Khan’s PTI rests on the fact that it is a right-wing party continuing the powerful religious discourse, which satisfies a large number of people. Binary opposition exists as ‘Pakistan’s war’ and the ‘US’s war’ while the underlined meaning remains the same: Muslims and non-Muslims. Besides this, the role of a sovereign and democratic state also remains an open question.By Abdul Razaque ChannaThe recent discourse regarding terrorism and terrorists has taken a turn from combatant to non-combatant stakeholders and it has left the citizens of Pakistan bewildered about whether they are the democratic citizens of Pakistan or the denizens of an alien land
Former Punjab minister and Pakistan People’s Party provincial secretary general Tanvir Ashraf Kaira on Saturday pointed out wheat smuggling to Afghanistan on a large scale, and said that Pakistan would face wheat shortage despite the expected bumper crop of the commodity this year. In a statement issued here from the PPP Secretariat, he expressed his regret over the delay of the Punjab government which had failed in stalling the wheat smuggling from Punjab to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and then to Afghanistan. He also lamented the Pakhtunkhwa administration that seemed to be hands in glove and lacking the will to circumvent smuggling from the province to Afghanistan. He also said that the beneficiary of the government subsidy (to the farmers) would be the consumers of foreign countries and not the consumer of Pakistan who might have to spend more to buy the food items. He cautioned that if the smuggling continued at the scale Pakistan might face shortage of wheat and resultantly the story of 2007 would revisit when the government exported wheat recklessly. At the end of the season in 2007, the government had to import the commodity from the international market to bridge the gap between demand and supply, he said. He called upon the Punjab government to take immediate measures to stop the smuggling now as procrastination in this regard would lead to food insecurity in the province. He also asked the Pakhtunkhwa government to tighten up the enforcement measures to ensure the halting of the smuggling of the commodity to the foreign countries through the province.
ANOTHER annual report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and we are reminded that the expression ‘it cannot get any worse than this’ really does not apply to this country. The report, which is spread over some 350 pages of horrifying everyday details about rights in Pakistan, confirms the deepening malaise and continued lack of effort to address this by those at the helm. It was a bad year for minorities, a year during which hundreds fell to sectarian violence. After Balochistan, nationalists were now killed in Sindh and their bodies dumped by the wayside. It was the year of Hindu migration resulting from their persecution by the majority in their homeland, of forced conversions and marriages and of growing pressure on journalists. If the case of a former bonded labourer, a Hindu woman, taking part in the general election sought to create a rare happy example, the violence in Joseph Colony, Lahore, and the Peshawar church blast intervened to ensure that the gloom hanging over Pakistan persisted, even thickened. An ugly manifestation of faith-based violence was present in several acts of terrorism. There were no signs of reform. The law enforcers remained weakly motivated and ill-equipped, and as the HRCP report rightly points out, the legislators could not bring themselves to perform their job with greater responsibility. The lawmakers appeared disinterested; they consisted of both, those who had been members of the parliament that completed its term in early 2013 and those who were brought into the house after an election marred by violence and blatant rights violations of its own. The militants did not allow some of the major parties to campaign and the system was in no condition to foil their designs. The year could have been better had some in the lead cared to make an effort to deliver on their promises. For instance, it was Mr Iftikhar Chaudhry’s last year as the country’s chief justice. However, if anyone had hoped that the last few months of his term would be spent on trying to improve the system in aid of justice to the people at large, that was not to be. As millions of litigants remained stuck in the system, the judiciary’s priority in taking up select high-profile cases was questioned. The advent of a new government also raised hopes, but a few months down the road, HRCP reports that minorities are feeling increasingly threatened in Pakistan. Just as the minorities are wary of talks with the proscribed Taliban, the PML-N’s attempts at establishing control by applying a draconian law called the Protection of Pakistan Ordinance raises serious concerns. The law brings out the essential flaws of thinking in a country where those who believe that they have power prefer to use force to settle issues. That lies at the root of rights violations.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa elementary and secondary education department is understood to have decided to remove chapters on Pakhtun leader Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and his poet son, Ghani Khan, from the Pashto book for 12th grade in the province, it is learnt. The revised book will be introduced in local educational institutions at the start of the next academic year, according to sources. The chapters on the life of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, popularly known as Bacha Khan, a preacher of nonviolence, and his son, Ghani Khan, a philosopher, Pashto poet and sculptor, were included in the 12th grade Pashto book to inform Pakhtun youths about their leaders. People in the know said chapters on Bacha Khan and Ghani Khan were part of the curriculum, which was developed by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Text Book Board in 2009 at the request of the federal government. They said though other stakeholders from Balochistan and Islamabad were taken on board during the preparation of the curriculum, a section of society with a ‘different mindset’ was unhappy with the move to educate the new generation of Pakhtuns about its leaders. When contacted, Zubair Hasrat, one of the co-authors of the book, insisted the provincial Directorate of Curriculum and Teachers Education had decided to exclude chapters on Bacha Khan and Ghani Khan. He alleged that the directorate also intended to remove references to other progressive Pakhtun writers from the book. Mr Hasrat said the Da Azadi Sapasalar (torchbearer of the freedom movement) was a chapter on the life of Bacha Khan. He said the personality of Bacha Khan, his struggle in the independence movement and different aspect of his life were mentioned in the book. Mr Hasrat said Pashto drama writer Professor Mohammad Hamayun Huma and Professor Yar Mohammad Maghmoom Khattak were among other authors of the book. According to him, a portion of Ghani Khan’s works, Gady Wady, published in the Pashto language magazine, Pakhtun, which was launched before the independence, is also part of the current book as a chapter. “We have not crossed the line and everything mentioned in the book is in accordance with the curriculum,” he said. Mr Hasrat said the book was duly approved by the Provincial Technical Review Committee in 2012. He said noted professors of Pashto language were part of the PTRC, who had no objections to the book. According to him, the DCTE has decided to exclude both chapters from the book in light of the National Review Committee’s recommendations. Mr Hasrat alleged that members of the NRC didn’t have the calibre of the book’s authors and the PTRC members, so there was no justification to follow its recommendations. When contacted, Professor Fazl Naseer, one of the NRC members, said the authors of the book had exceeded the limit by getting additional material included in the book. He said the authors had made chapters, which were not mentioned in the curriculum, part of the book. On the other hand, Zubair Hasrat said the authors were respected and responsible academicians, who couldn’t include chapters in the book on their own. He said the authors had categorically asked the education department to publish the book without excluding any chapter. “We will go to the court if the government doesn’t agree with us,” he said. When contacted, Bacha Khan Education Trust Managing Director Khadim Hussain said after 18th amendment to the Constitution, the federal government had given the right to each province to include its history, culture, literature, heroes etc in own textbooks, so the chapters on Bacha Khan and Ghani Khan were included in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa curriculum. He said during the development of the new curriculum, it was decided to keep students from the material spreading hatred against other nations and glorying war, which was introduced during military dictator Ziaul Haq’s rule. DCTE director Bashir Hussain Shah told Dawn that chapters on Bacha Khan and Ghani Khan would not be excluded from the Pashto book for 12th grade. Insiders insisted though the relevant officials of the education department didn’t confirm the imminent exclusion of chapters on Pakhtun nationalists from the syllabus, that would certainly happen.