Thursday, July 10, 2014
Laws do not work in Ukraine and the authorities are killing people instead of protecting them, Crimea’s Prosecutor Natalya Poklonskaya said on Thursday while visiting a refugee camp for Ukrainians in the village of Opushki near Crimea's capital Simferopol, as ITAR-TASS reports. Asked about a possibility of forced migrants to assert their rights in Ukraine, the prosecutor replied with emotion: "Look what is going on in Ukraine! What is the law there and who are the authorities protecting? A bunch of people who gathered together and dictate their conditions to the others and God knows what they are about?" "Which law regulates murder of ordinary citizens?” the Crimea Inform quoted Poklonskaya as saying. "Who has given them a right to murder? The law does not work in Ukraine, there is none there." "The people who came here and are now enjoying protection of Russian law and Russia testify to this fact," she said. Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_07_11/Crimeas-prosecutor-says-Kiev-kills-Ukrainian-people-instead-of-protecting-3719/
The EU’s immigration policies are turning the continent into ‘Fortress Europe’ and putting lives at risk, Amnesty International has warned. Migrants from Africa or the Middle East often make the journey by boat; many of them die at sea. In the past 14 years 23,000 have perished in the Mediterranean, according to the human rights group. The 28-member bloc spent almost two billion euros protecting its external borders between 2007 and 2013. That compares with 700 million euros to help refugees and asylum seekers over the same five period. Nearly half of those trying to enter the EU come from war-torn Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, and Somalia. Many of those leaving Africa try to enter Europe via the Italian island of Lampedusa. Italy’s search and rescue operation, Mare Nostrum, picked up more than 50,000 people last year. Amnesty says, however, in countries such as Bulgaria and Greece, refugees and migrants risk being pushed back. Italy has asked for help in sharing the burden, but member states have so far been unwilling to agree to an EU-wide asylum policy.
President Barack Obama expressed concern to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday about the risk of an escalation of hostilities in the region and said the United States was ready to help bring them to an end, the White House said. "The United States remains prepared to facilitate a cessation of hostilities, including a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement," the White House said Obama told Netanyahu in a phone call. Obama reiterated U.S. condemnation of rocket fire into Israel by Hamas and reaffirmed Israel's right to defend itself against the attacks, the White House said. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to his Egyptian counterpart in an attempt to get Egypt to use its influence to calm the situation, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. "Part of the secretary's effort has been reaching out to countries in the region, including Qatar, including Egypt," Psaki said at a briefing earlier in the day. "Any country in the region that can play a role in bringing an end to the rocket fire from Hamas, we're certainly going to be engaged with." The U.S. government refuses to negotiate directly with Hamas, which Washington considers a terrorist organization. Egypt played a crucial role in mediating an Israel-Hamas ceasefire in 2012. A senior U.S. official said Kerry's phone call with Egypt's foreign minister was a discussion about how to reduce tensions between Israel and Hamas and "how to influence Hamas if that's possible." The Israelis "know we have been in touch with Egypt and Qatar" to seek help in calming the situation in Gaza, the official said.
The dark curtain rises again on the tragedy of Israel and Gaza, and the next act begins much like its forerunners. Rockets hunt humans. Bombs crush buildings. Blood spills. The dead ride in caskets through streets, and mothers wail their grief to the heavens. As Israeli reserves gather like a storm over Gaza's horizon, the added bloodshed of an incursion appears imminent, and millions watching around the world ask: What could they hope to achieve?
There is no dramatic endgame in this, but there are concrete objectives, says Israeli military analyst and columnist Ron Ben-Yishai. There are official ones and unofficial ones, short-term and long-term, that make sense for Israel, he argues. Many of them will work, concedes critical Israeli columnist Gideon Levy. But he disagrees about their wisdom. They won't cure the disease but instead feed it, he argues. Military operation is job No. 1 First, the conservative government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to stop the rocket fire by force. And weaken the Hamas militants and other groups behind it, Ben-Yishai says. "Erode the political clout and the ability of Hamas to act both as a political and military-terrorist movement." Those are the official goals given by the Cabinet for the military operation named Protective Edge, he says. And they'll probably be achieved, Ben-Yishai says. "For the short-run, no doubt," Levy concurs. But he also thinks Hamas will come back stronger militarily and politically. That's what happened over two years ago in operation Pillar of Defense and over five years ago in Operation Cast Lead, he says. In the latter, 1,300 Palestinians and more than a dozen Israelis died. Rockets' roots Levy sees the rocket fire from Gaza as the boiling over of cumulative tensions. He points to the peace process initiated by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry between Israel and Palestinians. The one that broke down weeks ago. The whole time, a piece was missing from the negotiating table, he says. "Gaza was ignored totally." Then a litany of youth killings ignited passions on both sides. Three Jewish teens were murdered, and Israeli forces swept the West Bank for suspects, making arrests that had nothing to do with the case, Levy says. Palestinians were killed. The murder of a Palestinian teen quickly followed; his body was torched. Suspicions arose that it was revenge for the Israelis' deaths. Add to that the desperation in Gaza. The narrow strip of land is locked in on all sides, and people there live in dire poverty and deprivation. "Gaza is today the biggest cage in the world," Levy says. The rocket fire is just a part of it all, he says. It's a way of Hamas pounding the table, pointing out Gaza's misery. Levy's solution to the rocket fire: Pay more attention to Gazans. Don't marginalize them. Open borders, so they can move freely. Ben-Yishai, on the other hand, believes that the peaceful approach -- that calm will be met with calm -- hasn't worked out. "This formula is out of the game. It's not in the cards now," he says. The military option has become inevitable.
Hamas militants have come back stronger after the last military operation in at least one sense, Ben-Yishai says. They have more long-range rockets. Previously, militants had to import them all from the outside. Now they can also construct them themselves. They've also buried a network of launch sites below the ground's surface. Hitting them "is quite a job," Ben-Yishai says. The Israel Defense Forces will have to strike deep into those systems. But the IDF has also adapted. Its bombs have become more accurate. That also reduces collateral damage in Gaza, he says. Most who die were shooting rockets, he says. "Those who deserve it." It's all a vicious cycle he's seen before, Levy says. The IDF destroys the militants' capabilities; they come back stronger. "By the next operation, they will be even better equipped," he says. So will the Israelis.
Israel has discussed the possibility of calling up 40,000 reserve troops, a signal that there may be a ground incursion into Gaza. Levy firmly believes it will happen, that the IDF otherwise will not be able to root out militants' rocket systems. Ben-Yishai is less certain. "I think it is in the cards. They've not made the decision yet," he says of the government. Netanyahu may use aggressive rhetoric but is cautious about military decisions, he says. And so far, the government is satisfied with how the operations as they have been -- only from the air thus far.
The endgame The government hopes that Protective Edge will give Israel a few years of relative peace, restore normality for a time, Ben-Yishai says. "After every round of hostility ... there is a sort of lull that Israel enjoys very much," he says. People can think about other things and tackle other issues, like the economy. But it's not worth the cost, in Levy's mind. Many Palestinians will be killed. But even from a purely selfish standpoint, it's at best an empty victory, in his mind. "We will see horrible scenes," he says. "The world will condemn Israel. And what comes out of it? One year of peace." Ben-Yishai believes there is a permanent gain to be made, that repeated operations in Gaza will wear the enemy down. He hopes that the lulls between battles will get longer and longer, "until our neighbor realizes that they cannot make us disappear. They cannot erase us from the map." Levy thinks Gaza militants won't quit until the misery there ends. He predicts that military intervention will set the stage for the next bloodcurdling act -- and then the next.
The last few months have been critically important for the future of Internet freedom and access. The concept of “network neutrality” has been so central to our experience of the Internet, and such a driving force for innovation and expression, that most of us have taken it for granted. This Op-Doc explains the basic idea: when you visit a website, the phone or cable company that provides Internet access shouldn’t get in the way. Information should be delivered to you quickly and without discriminating about the content. Yet now the principle is under direct attack. On May 15, the Federal Communications Commission (whose chairman, Tom Wheeler, was formerly a leading lobbyist for the telecommunications industry) proposed troubling new rules: Internet service providers could split the flow of traffic into tiers, by offering priority treatment to big corporations who would pay higher fees. That would mean a fast lane for the rich and a dirt road for others, harming small businesses and users. Meanwhile, telecom behemoths turn huge profits that increase their leverage. Through aggressive lobbying, they have managed to limit competition in 20 states. In the meantime, the F.C.C. has asked the public to give their thoughts on the proposed new rules. More than 200,000 people have already done so (and comments are still being accepted). While the concept of net neutrality seems complex, the solution is simple: We should classify broadband access as a utility. Internet providers should be considered common carriers, just as cellphone companies are for voice access, which they are not allowed to block or degrade. The Internet should be a level playing field.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday called for an end to spiraling violence in Gaza during telephone talks with Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu. "The Russian side stressed the necessity to as soon as possible stop armed confrontation, which leads to multiple victims among civilians," the Kremlin said after the call between the two leaders. Putin and Netanyahu also discussed bilateral ties and "some other issues that are of mutual interest," the Kremlin said, without elaborating. The call took place at the initiative of the Israeli side, Putin's office added. On Tuesday, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge, with the strikes killing more than 80 Gazans to date. There have been no Israeli deaths so far. Rockets fired from Gaza since the flare-up began Tuesday have reached major cities including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. There are growing international calls for a ceasefire to stop the worst confrontation in and around Gaza since 2012.
The latest mini-war between Israel and the Islamist group Hamas began with the Gaza-based militants eager to strike a blow, but the escalation that followed has left them physically and diplomatically exposed, with no ready way out. Hamas has sent its rockets streaking into Israel after a month of army raids in the occupied West Bank - in search of three missing Israeli teenagers - that landed more than 900 Palestinians in jail, many of them Hamas members. The self-styled Islamic Resistance Movement was further prompted to action by widespread anger at the burning alive of a Palestinian youth by suspected Jewish extremists last week, an apparent revenge attack after the missing teens were found shot dead in the West Bank - murders Israel blames on Hamas. Hamas said it hadn't sought a war, but now hundreds of Israeli bombs continue to pound the coastal strip, killing scores of Gazans - almost all of them civilians, according to Palestinian medical officials. It says the onus for ending the hostilities is on Israel, where the rocket attacks have caused no fatalities and whose missile defense system has intercepted many of the Hamas projectiles. "Yes, we want calm. We don't like escalation, and we didn't make an escalation. (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu imposed this aggression upon us," Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said in a speech broadcast on Wednesday. "To end his aggression, first end his policy of occupation, settlement, Judaisation, detentions, killings and demolitions. End that first. Our people deserve to live free," he added. HAMAS ORPHANED Previous lopsided battles between Palestinian militants and Israel's powerful military - most recently an eight-day conflict in 2012 and a month-long tussle that began in late 2008 and included a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip - have left Hamas's position mostly intact. The group would claim victory, buoyed by some international sympathy, speedily replenish their cache of rockets through Gaza's porous border with Egypt and maintain its broad presence in the West Bank. But much has changed since. In Egypt, the military has ousted the ruling Muslim Brotherhood, a key ally to the Gaza government, which helped mediate a truce in 2012. And it will be harder to restock when hostilities end now that Egypt's new government has stepped up efforts to demolish the cross-border tunnels that fed not only the blockaded coastal strip's weapons caches but its entire economy. Gaza was once the favored cause of regional powers, but with Egypt now openly hostile and stalwart backers Turkey and Qatar distracted by the lightning rise of Islamist extremists in Iraq, Hamas has found itself orphaned. "Turkey and Qatar may play a role in trying to restore calm, but they have no direct influence on the occupation, which makes their position weak," said Hamza Abu Shanab, a Gaza political analyst. In the West Bank, too, where it is always under the jealous eye of secular Palestinian rivals, Hamas's fortunes have hit a new low with Israel's arrests. "Israel is holding all Palestinians responsible for the killing of the three Israelis, and that's what it's doing with the campaign of arrests everywhere in the West Bank, and it's extended this policy of collective punishment now to Gaza," Hamas MP Fathi Qarawi told Reuters. "Hamas was forced to make a response, and events have developed. We want a truce ... Egypt can still play a role and a good role in pressuring Israel to stop its attacks," he said. BLEAK BARGAIN Securing a truce, however, is not simple when a determined military showing is considered a matter of pride and honor. Hamas chief Meshaal expressed glee at the group's ability to lob its long-range rockets at Israel's commercial capital Tel Aviv and for unprecedented distances deep into its north. Despite the death and pain wrought on Gaza's citizens, Hamas says it has the means to carry on a long campaign if it must. "Whoever thinks Hamas's ammunition will run out in days, weeks or months is delusional. We have lots in our pocket," senior Hamas official Mushir Al-Masri said on Wednesday. "We want to bring you to your knees and achieve victory," Masri told Aqsa TV. The tough rhetoric, however, is in part a cloak for weakness at home, where deepening poverty and hardship in Gaza helped push the group into a troubled unity government with the Fatah party headed by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. "Hamas is extremely weak now. Weaker than ever before. It capitulated entirely to Abbas's demands in forming a reconciliation government. Gaza is in economic crisis. Hamas is bankrupt and doesn't have a friend left in the world," said Gershon Baskin, an Israeli peace activist and analyst. Baskin ran back-channel negotiations that led to the release in 2010 of an Israeli soldier abducted by Hamas in exchange for over a thousand Palestinian prisoners. He says fractures within the group may hinder a quick ceasefire. "There are power struggles within (Hamas) ... and it lacks an authoritative command. It's a mess inside. But if there's one thing all parts of its organization agree on, it's that an Israeli attack on Gaza builds up sympathy for it there, the West Bank and the Arab world," he told Reuters. If so - and Israel has hinted it could launch a ground offensive into the Strip to decisively pare back Hamas's capability - it is a bleak bargain. An infantry and tank drive may give Hamas more opportunities to impose casualties and even abduct Israeli soldiers and trade them for Palestinian prisoners, said Firas Abi Ali, an analyst at IHS Country Risk in London. "Our backs are to the wall and we have nothing to lose," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said on Thursday. "We are ready to undergo the battle up to the end, and we are determined to confront the occupation," he added.
Will the failure to resolve the issue of fraudulent ballots lead to instability?
“We are the winner of this round of elections without any doubt. We will not allow the fraudulent government to rule this country for even one day without any doubt,” declared Afghanistan’s presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah this Tuesday, in front of thousands of agitated supporters in Kabul. Abdullah’s announcement followed the release of the preliminary results of the second round of Afghanistan’s presidential elections, which projected Abdullah’s rival, Dr. Ashraf Ghani, as the winner. Abdullah, who claims that there were millions of fraudulent votes in the election, threatened to set up a parallel government if his concerns were not addressed by Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC). Yet again, Afghanistan is on the brink of a political crisis that could potentially plunge it back into civil war. This would negate the achievements of the past 13 years and hurt Afghanistan’s nascent democracy. According to Abdullah and several independent observers, the second round of elections featured major ballot rigging in southern and eastern Afghanistan, regions dominated by ethnic Pashtuns, the ethnic group that Ghani belongs to. Abdullah is an ethnic Tajik, with his power base in the north and east of the country. No candidate won a majority of votes in the first round of elections, necessitating the second round. However, Abdullah won the plurality of votes in the first round. His failure to beat Ghani again no doubt fueled his suspicions of vote rigging. In the first round of voting, Abdullah beat Ghani’s tally by more than ten percent while in the second round he lost out to Ghani by over 13 percent. According to official results, Ghani won 56.4 percent of the 8.1 million votes cast. How did this reversal in fortunes come to pass? It is likely that there was indeed large scale rigging in parts of Afghanistan. Both the IEC and independent observers concur with this. Furthermore, Abdullah’s camp claims there is proof in the form of recordings of conversations between electoral officials discussing the rigging of ballots. It is still possible though that Ghani won the election due to the fact that all Pashtun voters coalesced behind his candidacy after the other candidates, mostly Pashtun, were eliminated after the first round. No matter who won, an election deemed fraudulent has negative implications for Afghanistan. According to Waliullah Rahmani of the Kabul Center for Strategic Studies, a think tank, “if the issue of fraudulent votes is not addressed, people will lose trust in the democratic process.” Rahmani added that “the Taliban would be the real beneficiary of this chaos and people’s disenchantment with the system.” The election began with high hopes. People lined up in large numbers to participate in the electoral process, giving it a much needed vote of confidence. However, the failure of the democratic process could lead to cynicism for it among the population and usher in a new era of violence and division. A fear is spreading in Afghanistan due to the fact that the electoral crisis has not yet been resolved. According to Bilal Sarwary, a senior BBC journalist based in Kabul, “a climate of concern has gripped Afghanistan,” dividing people and causing businesses to come to a standstill. The greatest concern is that Abdullah will form his own parallel government, meaning Afghanistan would have two separate governments. However, Abdullah has resisted demands by his supporters that he do so and has announced that he would wait for the outcome of talks with United States Secretary of State John Kerry this Friday before announcing his next move. Kerry has expressed concern at the suggestion of a parallel government, warning that “any action to take power by extra-legal means will cost Afghanistan the financial and security support of the United States and the international community.” The only way out of the crisis is a political solution that addresses and corrects the issue of the fraudulent votes in the recent election. According to several observers and journalists familiar with the country, only an inclusive government can move Afghanistan forward. What is at stake in Afghanistan today is not only democracy but the unity and integrity of the nation. There is a risk that the country could be polarized on ethnic and regional lines, with the mainly Tajik north pitted against the Pashtun south. No doubt this would play to the Taliban’s advantage and demoralize Afghanistan’s security forces. Hence it is important that a solution be found that avoids violence and the division of the country. Final results will be announced on July 24. There is still time for a peaceful solution that will address many of the issues raised by Abdullah. However, if no solution is found by then, Afghanistan faces the prospect of instability. If this is the case, future generations of Afghans will not kindly judge the politicians who created this crisis.
U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham met with both presidential candidates in Kabul on Thursday, a day before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is set to arrive in the capital to try to help resolve the disputes still troubling the election process. The campaign teams of Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai have maintained that the United States will only have an advisory and facilitating role in ending the current deadlock. The top American diplomat is planning to meet with both candidates separately in their residences after arriving in Kabul on Friday. "Mr. Kerry is coming to Afghanistan to become fully aware of the current condition in Afghanistan and the election's condition; He will only play an advisory role and it will be Afghans who will find a solution," Abdullah campaign staffer Said Fazil Agha Sancharaki said. Abdullah's team emphasized the importance of President Hamid Karzai in resolving the impasse of the election, which was brought on by Abdullah's decision to pull out of the process because of fraud claims against the election commissions and Presidential Palace. "We must say that Hamid Karzai is the main reason behind the election crisis and he must be talked to as well about not interfering in the elections," Sancharaki said. For their part, the Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai campaign emphasized stability and a peaceful resolution. "The U.S. will play an effective role as a supporting country to Afghanistan, and we hope that Mr. Kerry will be able to simplify the current conditions, and gain satisfaction of both candidates," Ghani team member Hamidullah Farooqi said. "We hope that these talks and consultations will prevent violence in the country and will prevent the creation of a parallel government." In quiet contradiction, however, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai's campaign affirmed that President Hamid Karzai would not be part of the talks with Mr. Kerry. "President Karzai will not be part of these talks, but supports the talks," Farooqi said. It remains to be seen whether U.S. diplomatic intervention will help end the current election standoff, as well as whether a decision in agreement with both candidates will be made.
Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC has condemned Nawaz government on pressing upon Sri Lanka to revoke “Entry on Arrival for Pakistani Citizen” to stop persecuted and oppressed communities to flee from injustices of Pakistan and to take refuge in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka government announced that Pakistani citizen will have to get visa to enter in Sri Lanka instead of previously privilege of ‘Entry on Arrival” as SAARC country. According to The Nation Lahore Newspaper “Sri Lanka has always been a close friend of Pakistan and both the countries had enjoyed close bilateral cooperation in defence and trade and Pakistan had also helped Sri Lanka in eliminating LTTE (separatist group in Sri Lanka) which resulted in peace in the country” As per UNHCR statistical data, weather “Sri Lanka is not signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention, but offer asylum to a considerable number of refugees. There are 145 Refugees, 1607 asylum seekers, 920 are returned refugees, 42,191 IDPS, 40, 691 are returned IDPS and total 85,554 people of concern” According to Daily Ceylon of Sri Lanka, 15, 00 Pakistani asylum seekers were arrested in second week of June 2014, while 140 were ready to be deported, whom Pakistan government denied to accept. Nazir Bhatti said “When Pakistani Christians started fleeing from Pakistan from Punjab province of Pakistan after rising violence and threats to their lives and properties against them from extremist Muslim groups whom government of PML (N) was protecting then Sri Lanka was only place for them of refugee where they might reach without seeking visa with cheap airfare” “Sri Lanka arrests of Christian asylum seekers and refugees is against Reservations and declarations to the 1951 Refugee Convention of United Nation and it responsibility of UNHCR to negotiate with Sri Lanka government for release for all asylum seekers who have been detained and particularly 140 asylum seekers who Sri Lanka wants to hand over to Pakistan on its demand’ said PCC Chief According to Pakistan Christian Post, Intelligence Bureau of Pakistan IB which is headed by Prime Minister of Pakistan, engaged some Pakistani Christians whom ruling Pakistan Muslim League PML (N) have selected in Senate of Pakistan, National Assembly of Pakistan and Punjab provincial assembly to send different delegation on government funds to Sri Lanka, Thailand and Malaysia to collect data of Pakistani Christian asylum seekers. Some members of Christian clergy, non-governmental organizations and Christian selected members in parliament by PML (N) were funded by Intelligence Bureau of Pakistan IB to meet Christian asylum seekers in South Asian and South East Asian countries and to send few Christian families from Pakistan on government expenditures where Pakistani Christian asylum seekers are waiting for their interviews to provide information of cases to Pakistani Missions in Colombo, Bangkok and Kaul Lumpur. Dr. Nazir Bhatti said “It was surprising for me to note when spokesperson of Pakistan Foreign office admitted on June 26, 2014, press briefing in Islamabad that government of Pakistan was in contact with Sri Lankan government on Pakistani asylum seekers issue from long time and she admitted more over that some asylum seekers were in contact with Pakistani Missions which reflects a joint conspiracy of Pakistan-Sri Lankan governments” Here are contents of one answer to media person question during briefing by Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson on June 26, 2014, “Normally, when they seek asylum they would be in contact with the host government and UNHCR. As I said UNHCR and the host government would not provide any information because UNHCR has confidentiality clause. I may share with you that most of these asylum seekers privately come to the Embassies and they are given whatever assistance is possible” According to data collected by Pakistan Christian Post, there are more than 12,000 Pakistani asylum seekers in South Asia and South East Asia. Most of these Pakistani Christian asylum seekers faced victimization in Pakistan and fled from Pakistan after selling their properties for safety of their lives only and approached UNHCR. World Vision in Progress WVIP led by Mr. Farrukh Saif was only Civil Society organization in Pakistan which provided legal assistance to Christian victims of blasphemy, enforced conversion and rape, free of cost and then relocated them in South Asia and South East Asian countries with its funds unless all Christian NGO,s which are collecting funds from EU and NA in mane of blasphemy laws never rescued a single victim. Chief of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC invited immediate attention of Commissioner of UNHCR on deportation of 140 asylum seekers from Sri Lanka to Pakistan because it will endanger their lives in Pakistan and they will face torture and death in hands of Pakistani government agencies. Nazir Bhatti also appealed to Sri Lankan government to not deport 140 detained Pakistani Christian asylum seekers to Pakistan because it might be threat to their lives. Pakistan Christian Congress PCC filed a Petition with UN to award Refugee Status to Pakistani Christians in 2009, in New York, which was widely opposed by Catholic Church of Pakistan on intimation of Establishment of Pakistan and their other Christian tools. Nazir Bhatti said “Pakistani Christians refugees in South and South East Asia are not economic asylum seekers but they are persecuted and their lives are not safe in Pakistan” Nazir Bhatti also appealed to US administration, EU, Amnesty International and UNHRC to take note of Sri Lanka government to deport 140 Christian asylum seekers to Pakistan and to immediately stop such deportations which deny UNHCR norms.
Supporters of blasphemy convict Asia Bibi urge Pakistani courts to hear Asia Bibi’s appeal against death sentence.
Multitudes rallied to uphold Asia Bibi’s cause, a 45-year-old Pakistani Christian woman facing a death sentence on “blasphemy” charges. Her supporters have sternly demanded the courts to hear her appeal in spite of an “unexpected delay” which is unlawful. According to sources: many a times hearing on her appeal has been repeatedly delayed because the courts have been ordered not to hear her case predominantly because of fear of provoking a backlash by the extremist groups who have demanded her execution.Asia Bibi was born and raised in Ittan Wali, a village in District Sheikhupura. Prior to her detention, Asia worked as a farmhand in Sheikhupura to support her family. She married Ashiq Masih, a brick labourer. Notably, Asia and her family were the only Christians in Ittan Wali. Acccording to some sources, prior to her imprisonment, she was repetitively urged by her fellow workers to convert to Islam, which she refused, provoking the anger of the other villagers. It was in June 2009, when Asia was harvesting falsa berries with her fellow-workers in a field in Sheikhupura. She was asked to get water from a nearby well; she complied but stopped to take a drink with an old metal cup she had found lying next to the well. A neighbour of hers, who had been involved in a running dispute with her family about some property damage, saw her and bitterly told her that it was forbidden for a Christian to drink the same water as a Muslim. A dispute broke in between Asia and her fellow workers later on local cleric was informed that Asia had committed blasphemy. As consequences an infuriated mob stormed at her house dragging her in the public, beating Ais and her family members until she was seized by the police. An FIR under Section 295-C was filed against her. However, she had to wait for over a year before her case was heard in a local court proceeding when finally she was sentenced to death. Asia’s death sentence provoked anger and strong condemnation from international community and various human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch who believe country’s blasphemy laws as a legal platform to settle personal disputes and to persecute religious minorities demanding eliminate these laws. In a statement, Pope Benedict XVI called for forgiveness for her and urged that the human dignity and fundamental rights of everyone in similar situations be respected. - See more at: http://www.christiansinpakistan.com/asia-bibis-cause-upheld-worldwide/#sthash.7TOuuyuY.dpuf
The United Nations Refugee Agency has expressed concerns over the possible outbreak of diseases among the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) currently residing in Bannu and other parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The sudden influx of over 500,000 people in Bannu alone within two weeks has been overwhelming for responsible authorities and ministries, to say the least. Very few people are staying at the camps set up by the government. Most are either living with relatives, renting houses, or staying in schools which are temporarily available due to summer vacations. Due to the absence of proper medical services, sanitation facilities, portable water, and unhealthy living conditions, the IDPs are facing serious risks. Time is of the essence. There is plenty that is required and it has to be delivered as soon as possible. Accommodation is just one aspect of the larger problem. The IDPs need a consistent supply of basic necessities such as food, household items, medicine and clothes. Currently, 1,209 schools are occupied by them. Where will they go once the next session begins in a few months? Those currently staying with relatives are definitely not in a sustainable position either. Alternatives need to be developed fast. A weak local infrastructure and limited government resources cannot be expected to cope with the situation. The government needs all the help it can get. This is certainly no time for chest beating and making false claims of being self-sufficient. A visit to Bannu makes it quite clear that things are neither well nor are they heading in the right direction. Perhaps while the government mobilises local resources, it should also facilitate NGOs and international aid organisations in playing their part. This crisis will not end in a day or two. That is not to suggest that they be given a free hand to do as they see fit. Instead, a mechanism should be evolved to enable co-operation between the government and NGOs. Even if we miraculously tackle the immediate challenges all by ourselves, there are many phases that lie ahead such as the rehabilitation of people once they return to the piles of debris they once called home.
An explosion took place on Peshawar's Kohat Road in front of the residence of a local leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Thursday. The Bhana Mari police said no loss of life was reported in the explosion but the front gate of Misbahudin’s house in Peshawar’s Amin Colony had been damaged. Moreover, rescue teams were dispatched to the site of the blast that took place near Technical College. Misbahudin had contested election on a PPP ticket from NA-4.
Missiles from a U.S. drone slammed into a mud house and killed six suspected militants in Pakistan's rugged northwest on Thursday, officials said, as the Pakistani military said it had seized control of 80 percent of a key city from the Taliban. Drone strikes in Pakistan resumed after a six-month hiatus, days before the military launched an air campaign on June 15 to drive Pakistani Taliban militants out of the remote border region of North Waziristan. Thursday's strike in the Datta Khel district killed six militants and injured two, security officials said. The site of the strike was about 45 km (28 miles) west of the regional capital of Miranshah, near the Afghan border. A senior officer took reporters on a tour of the region on Wednesday to underscore what the military says is a successful offensive to bring under control 80 percent of Miranshah, North Waziristan's main town. The region, the base of some of the country's most feared al Qaeda linked terrorists, has been sealed off and there is no way to verify the military's accounts or casualty figures. But the presence of many senior officers during the tour suggested that the army had secured broad control over the area. Reporters were led through sites ranging from dingy two-room shops to large buildings piled high with cylinders and explosives, all described as workplaces to manufacture bombs. Also on display was a complex of a couple of dozen rooms with a courtyard, described as a training site for suicide bombers. "North Waziristan had transformed into a hub and safe haven for terrorists of all colours and creeds," General Zafarullah Khan, the region's commander, said the military's sprawling headquarters. "But with the operation, 80 percent of Miranshah and the adjoining areas has been cleared." FAILED NEGOTIATIONS The army launched the offensive after months of failed negotiations between the government and the militants, punctuated by Taliban attacks. A brazen assault last month on the airport in the southern city of Karachi killed 34. The army responded by dispatching fighters to bomb suspected militant hideouts in North Waziristan. It ordered the region's entire civilian population - estimated at about half a million - to leave and pushed on with a ground offensive on June 30. Pakistan's army had previously operated strictly within its Miranshah headquarters. The rest of the city, including homes, schools, shops and even hospitals, was under Taliban control. Since the air operation began, 400 militants have been killed and 130 injured, the military's public relations wing said. Twenty-four soldiers had been killed and 19 injured. The extent of civilian casualties is unclear. Khan said the insurgents, many of them ethnic Uzbeks and Chinese Uighurs as well as indigenous fighters, were on the defensive. "We have set up 250 military checkposts to seal off their movements," he said. "We have found 11 (bomb) factories in Miranshah alone and 23,000 kg of explosive material. The militants' communications and operational capabilities have been greatly reduced." Residents, however, suggest that many militants moved out of the area before it was secured and Khan agreed some fighters may have escaped the onslaught. "It’s not militarily possible to create airtight security from where individual terrorists can’t escape," he said. "It will be wrong to say some leaders didn’t escape. They smelt the operation and left. But their exodus on a large scale was denied."