Monday, August 25, 2014
The “proxy competition” between the two gulf states in Libya, he said, goes back to 2011.Now it has extended to backing different sides in what threatens to become a civil war between rival coalitions of Libyan cities, tribes and militias. Although the ideological lines are blurry, the U.A.E. has backed its Zintani clients in what they describe as a battle against Islamist extremists. Qatar, its Islamist clients and loosely allied regional or tribal groups from the coastal city of Misurata have squared off from the other side; most insist that their fight has nothing to do with political Islam and seek to prevent an Egyptian-style “counterrevolution.” The first strikes occurred before dawn a week ago, hitting positions in Tripoli controlled by militias on the side of the Islamists. The bombs blew up a small weapons depot, among other targets, and local authorities said they killed six people. A second set of airstrikes took place south of Tripoli in the early hours on Saturday. The Islamist-allied militias were posed to capture the airport from Zintani militias allied with the U.A.E. who had controlled it since 2011, and the strikes may have been intended to slow the advance. Striking again before dawn, jets bombed rocket launchers, military vehicles and a warehouse all controlled by Islamist-allied militia. At least a dozen people were killed, local authorities said. But within hours the Islamist-aligned forces had nonetheless taken the airport. Responsibility for the airstrikes was initially a mystery. In both cases, anti-Islamist forces based in eastern Libya under a renegade former general, Khalifa Heftir, sought to claim responsibility. But the strikes, at night and from a long distance, were beyond the known capabilities of General Heftir’s forces. The Islamist-allied militias, allied under the banner Libya Dawn, were quick to suspect Egypt and the U.A.E. But they offered no evidence or details. American officials said after the first strike that signs pointed to the Emiratis. But some American officials found it hard to believe that the U.A.E. would risk a regional backlash. It was unclear how U.A.E. fighters could reach Tripoli without a base in the region, and Egypt denied any role. On Monday, however, American officials said the second set of strikes over the weekend had provided enough evidence to conclude that the Emirates had carried out the strikes and even supplied the refueling ships necessary for fighters to reach Tripoli from Egypt. Asked about an earlier version of this report posted on The New York Times website, a State Department spokesman declined to comment. “I’m not in a position to provide any additional information on these strikes,” the spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, told reporters at a State Department briefing.
By Matthew Rusling Foreign policy is expected to be a major issue in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, and that may spell trouble for Hillary Clinton, as critics will view the likely candidate as tainted by the White House's perceived foreign policy missteps. As a former secretary of state under President Barack Obama, Clinton spurred controversy for what critics billed as not being forthcoming on the details surrounding the 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed a U.S. ambassador. Moreover, with the administration now coming under fire for putting the threat of the Islamic State -- a radical terror group in Iraq and Syria -- on the backburner until the situation boiled over, Clinton could be viewed as lacking foresight on major foreign policy issues. "Whoever the Democratic nominee is -- which is likely Hillary -- President Obama's ratings on all these issues (including foreign policy) will be an albatross around the neck of Democratic nominees and their chances of winning the presidency," Republican Strategist Ford O'Connell told Xinhua. The Islamic State has in recent weeks been on the move in Iraq, overrunning vast swaths of territory in northern Iraq as its militants go on a killing spree. While Kurdish fighters backed by U.S. air power have had some successes against the Islamic radicals,they remain unchecked in neighboring Syria. That poses a major problem for the United States, which aims to keep terrorism in check a decade after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. The militants' territorial gains have Washington worried that its ultimate nightmare could come true -- that the group could carve out a haven in Iraq or Syria and use it as a staging ground for attacks against the U.S., much like al- Qaida did in Afghanistan. The Islamic State's threat is unlikely to disappear overnight, and Clinton's opponents will argue that she, as secretary of state, might have helped stop the militants before they gained traction, had she and the administration kept their eyes on Iraq. "Foreign policy is going to be one of the big three issues in the 2016 presidential election on both sides of the isle," as many Americans will fret over the resurgence of Middle East terror groups and their ability to target the U.S., O'Connell said. "That's why we see Hillary taking a very hawkish stance," he added. Indeed, in a move meant to widen the space between herself and a president increasingly billed by critics as having ignored Iraq, Clinton blasted Obama's foreign policy slogan of "Don't do stupid stuff." "Great nations need organizing principles, and 'Don't do stupid stuff 'is not an organizing principle," she told The Atlantic monthly in an interview published earlier this month. A Gallup poll published last week found that Obama's approval rating for handling foreign affairs stands at a mere 36 percent, and many Americans perceive the president as not being fully engaged on foreign policy. "Obama's low poll numbers on foreign policy will lead Hillary Clinton to differentiate herself from the president," Darrell West, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told Xinhua. "She will stake out distinctive views on foreign policy and present a more hawkish approach to foreign policy. Based on the experiences of the Bill Clinton presidency, she is likely to be more interventionist and tougher abroad," he said. While the GOP will go after Clinton on Benghazi, those efforts may fall flat, as most Americans have not been engaged on the issue and find it difficult to keep all the details straight. "Republicans will continue to go after Mrs. Clinton on Benghazi although there is little new to say on that topic," West said. "It will be hard to blame her for Middle East terrorism since that has been going on for decades in both Republican and Democratic presidencies. She will seek to inoculate herself from criticisms of weakness by talking tough on foreign policy." Additionally, experts say, foreign policy will not be the only factor determining the elections and the possibility of Clinton clinching the White House is strong. Many voters under 40 years old will associate the former first lady with the massive 1990s economic expansion and with a time when the U.S. went unchallenged by any significant foreign threat. She will get the support of single woman voters and has in her corner former President Bill Clinton -- one of Washington's most talented campaign fundraisers. "Foreign policy is important, but rarely decisive, in presidential elections," said Christopher Galdieri, assistant professor at Saint Anselm College. "Other than perhaps 2004, it's tough to think of a recent election where domestic concerns like jobs and the economy weren't more critical to the outcome than foreign policy was," he told Xinhua.
On Aug. 20, at the Association of Muslim Scholars conference in Istanbul, senior Hamas official Salach al-Aruri accepted the long-denied charges that Hamas had kidnapped the three Israeli teenagers on June 12. Their bodies were found at the end of June. From the very beginning, Israel said that the kidnapping and murders were carried out by Hamas.All along, Hamas has denied its involvement vehemently. Al-Monitor’s Palestine Pulse reported that many Palestinians believe Israelis “orchestrated the kidnapping and murders” to justify an attack on the Gaza Strip. The same conspiracy theory was widely supported in Turkey, too. It is safe to assume that the majority of Turks do not believe the news of Aruri’s acceptance of involvement despite the video recording. Most Turkish pundits are convinced Hamas had no direct involvement, and that the kidnapping and murders of the three teenagers was nothing but an Israeli conspiracy. However, speaking from Istanbul, Aruri asserted that the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades' mujahedeen carried out the kidnapping to show solidarity with Palestinians on hunger strike in Israeli prisons. In an interview with Yahoo News on Aug. 22, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal did not deny Aruri’s contention, and only emphasized that it was carried out without the knowledge of the political wing. Fars News Agency promptly denied the news about Aruri’s revelations as false. Given all this, why does Turkey, a NATO member country, host Hamas operatives, have high-level meetings with them and support their rhetoric? Hamas is on the list of terrorist organizations of the United States, the European Union, Canada and several other countries, but not on that of the UN Security Council and it is not considered a terrorist organization in Turkey. Therefore, it is safe to say most, if not all, of Turkey’s Western allies considers Hamas a terror organization. Max Abrahms, professor of political science at Northeastern University, who specializes in terrorism and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, told Al-Monitor, “Countries do not gain strategically by hosting terrorist groups. My research demonstrates empirically that terrorism is politically counterproductive behavior that erodes popular support for the political cause and results in a backlash from the target country. Hosting terrorist groups is thus a political liability. There is no strategic sense in supporting terrorist groups because the net strategic effect is almost always negative.” Domestically, not many even ponder upon such questions with mainstream media boasting how Gazans thanked Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his support. Alptekin Dursunoglu, senior editor of Yakin Dogu Haber, which focuses on news exclusively from the Near East, told Al-Monitor, “I would say even if it may look like Turkey’s heart is with Hamas, its sword is with Abbas. Right now since almost all Palestinian factions appear to act together, I do not see this constituting a risk for Turkey in regard to its relations with the United States.” Dursunoglu explained how difficult it is to convince the Turkish public that Hamas might be planning a plot against the PA; indeed, most in Turkey would not be convinced that Hamas was behind the kidnappings even after a strongly alleged confession from its own senior leader. One of the strongest justifications as to why Turkey is hosting Hamas is because it has payoffs from the majority of the domestic audience. Turkish public opinion strongly sides with the suffering of the Palestinian people, and in the era of the Islamic State (IS) threat on its doorstep, it is not likely to consider Hamas a terrorist organization. In addition, after multiple attempts at diplomatic efforts in the Middle East, Turkey has accepted that it has failed. It gradually switched its focus to supporting nonstate entities, and thus attempting to make inroads on its neighbors. One diplomat, who is not pro-AKP, told Al-Monitor, “Trying to be a major actor in the Middle East and having felt betrayed multiple times, the Erdogan administration decided we have to be Middle Eastern, which means nonstate entities should be considered as serious actors, partners, enemies and allies. Is there a country in the region that has not taken this road? Is it possible to survive ignoring these nonstate actors?” This may indeed be the case. Even a few Turkish critics question whether “Turkey is replacing Iran” in being the latest supporter of Hamas. The issue that generates some degree of conflict with rules of engagement is because Turkey is also a member of various Western organizations such as NATO, which was not the case for the former supporters of Hamas, i.e., Syria and Iran. In addition, if the support for Hamas is just a part of “becoming an effective player in the Middle East,” it may be a strategy with mixed blessings as the latest PEW Research Center figures demonstrate that support for Erdogan dropped sharply in four of seven Middle Eastern countries. Interestingly, only in Israel are favorable views of Erdogan on the rise, from 14% to 16% — which is attributed to the Israeli Arabs — while in the Palestinian territories Erdogan’s favorability rating has gone down from 74% to 55%. Turkey’s support for Hamas — along with Qatar — hampers Israel’s ability to isolate Hamas. The Turkish government has been rather frank and “proud” of its engagement with the organization despite all financial and political repercussions. Whether or not its support for Hamas will provide Turkey more regional influence is yet to be seen, but for now it is fair to assume expansion of Erdogan’s domestic powers would translate into further support for Hamas in the near future. Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/08/turkey-palestine-israel-gaza-hamas-meshal-kidnapping.html##ixzz3BSns63Qv
'They are systematically targeting men, women and children based on their ethnic, religious or sectarian affiliation,' UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said on Monday.UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said on Monday a ruthless campaign of "ethnic and religious cleansing" by Islamic State militants in Iraq amounted to a crime against humanity. She said their reign of terror against non-Arab ethnic groups and non-Sunni Muslims alike involved targeted killings, forced conversions, abductions, trafficking, slavery, sexual abuse, and destruction of holy and cultural sites. "They are systematically targeting men, women and children based on their ethnic, religious or sectarian affiliation and are ruthlessly carrying out widespread ethnic and religious cleansing in the areas under their control," Pillay said in a statement. "Such persecution would amount to crimes against humanity," she added. The militants, who already occupied parts of Syria, launched an offensive in Iraq in June and rapidly seized much of its Sunni heartland. Previously known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the militants rebranded themselves as the Islamic State after declaring a "caliphate" in a region straddling the Iraq-Syria border. "Grave, horrific human rights violations are being committed daily by ISIL and associated armed groups," Pillay said. Taken into slavery Minority groups targeted include Christians, Yazidi, Shabaks, Turkomen, Kakae and Sabaeans, she said. In the Nineveh region of northern Iraq, hundreds of Yazidi were reported killed and some 2,500 kidnapped at the beginning of August. Those who agreed to convert to Islam were being held under militants' guard. Among those who refused, the men were reportedly executed and the women and children taken into slavery, she said. In the Sinjar region, the militants killed and abducted hundreds of Yazidi on 15 August, she said, warning that residents of besieged villages remained at serious risk. At least 13,000 members of the Shia Turkmen community in the Salah al-Din region - among them 10,000 women and children - have been besieged since mid-June, she said. They face harsh living conditions with severe food and water shortages, and a complete absence of medical care, as fears of a massacre mount. Pillay also condemned the forced recruitment of boys aged 15 and above, and their reported deployment of such youths as human shields on the front line. In addition, she said the United Nations had verified reports of a massacre of up to 670 detainees by the militants after they overran a prison in the northern city of Mosul on 10 June. Many of the hundreds of thousands of people who have fled the militants' onslaught have found a haven in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, whose forces are trying to push back the Islamist fighters. The United Nations last week launched a massive operation to send desperately needed aid into the region. Pillay called on local authorities and the international community to "take all necessary measures and spare no effort to protect members of ethnic and religious communities, who are particularly vulnerable, and to secure their return to their places of origin in safety and dignity".
Two of Scotland's leading politicians began a final TV debate on Monday night, just weeks before a historic independence referendum, with secessionists looking for a game-changing performance to catch up in the polls. As the Sept. 18 vote nears, polls show the campaign to sever Scotland's 307-year union with England and leave the United Kingdom is trailing in support, as it has been from the start. Several recent polls have shown support for independence climbing a few points, but the most recent “poll of polls,” on Aug. 15, which is based on an average of the last six polls and excludes undecided respondents, found support for a breakaway stands at 43 percent against 57 percent for staying in the UK. But expectations were riding high for the second of two live TV debates with Alex Salmond, 59, leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP), enjoying a reputation as a canny campaigner who has unexpectedly won elections in the past. “This is our time, our moment. Let us do it now,” Salmond told the audience in an emotional opening statement, urging Scots to vote for full independence. The TV debate is expected to center on three issues: if and how an independent Scotland could keep the pound, how many barrels of oil are left in the North Sea, and whether Scotland's publicly-funded health service would be better off in a breakaway state. Salmond unexpectedly failed to dominate the first debate on Aug. 5, in which Alistair Darling, the leader of the anti-independence “Better Together” campaign, put him on the spot over the issue of currency in an independent Scotland. Fundamental Question Darling told voters on Monday night that choosing full independence and taking Salmond at his word was too risky a prospect. “He's asking us to take his word for it. Well, I'm sorry I can't,” said Darling. Darling criticized Salmond for failing to spell out a “plan B” if the British government refused to formally share the pound in a currency union, the nationalists' preferred option. All three major U.K.-wide parties have ruled out such a union, but Salmond predicts their position will change if there's a “yes” vote in September . Bookmaker Ladbrokes has Salmond as the favorite again before Monday's debate, but he is less heavily touted this time. A spokesman for the pro-independence “Yes Scotland” campaign said the debates were important because they reached a large audience but emphasized the breadth of the movement's grassroots campaign, which he said gave it an edge. Douglas Alexander, the Labor party's foreign affairs spokesman and an opponent of independence, said the nationalist campaign was in trouble with just weeks to the vote. “For them to be in a position with just days to go until postal ballots drop where they cannot answer the most fundamental question in relation to what currency Scotland would use ... is genuinely not where they expected to be,” he said. The debate, being held in an art gallery in Glasgow, was shown live on the BBC.
By Shannon Tiezzi
Tens of thousands of people have gathered in Islamabad to protest against the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, with some even demanding his resignation. Michael Kugelman of the Wilson Center talks with The Diplomat on why the protests are happening now, who’s behind them, and what the implications are for Pakistan.
President Awami National Party says government has accepted all the basic demands of the protesting parties.President of Awami National Party Asfandyar Wali Khan has said his party stands by Constitution, Parliament and democracy. Addressing a news conference in Peshawar on Monday, he said the government has accepted all the basic demands of the protesting parties except the resignation of the Prime Minister. He said there is no justification for resignation of PTI from the National Assembly. He strongly denounced the PTI for announcing the civil disobedience movement saying the protesting parties are setting wrong precedents.
The poet was awarded Hilal-e-Imtiaz and other numerous national and international awards in recognition of his literary achievements.Sixth death anniversary of progressive Urdu poet Ahmed Faraz is being observed today (Monday). Faraz was considered one of the greatest modern Urdu poets of the last century. His real name was Syed Ahmad Shah. He was awarded Hilal-e-Imtiaz and other numerous national and international awards in recognition of his literary achievements. His poetry has been translated into English, French, Russian and German. His several ghazals also shot to prominence in films during 1970's including "Ranjish Hi Sahi Dil Hi Dukhanay Ke Liye Aa" and "Ab Ke Hum Bicchray To Shayed Kabhi Khawabon Mein Milen". Ahmed Faraz died from kidney failure on this day in 2008.
Many cautioned against the earlier insistence of the Obama administration that Assad must goWhat a difference a year makes. Around this time last year, the West was gearing up for military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who was accused of carrying out chemical weapons attacks on his own people. That intervention never came to pass, not least because domestic public opinion in countries such as Britain and the US was opposed to further entanglements in the Middle East. Now, the US is contemplating extending air strikes on Isis militants operating in Iraq and Syria – fighters belonging to a terrorist organisation that is leading the war against Assad. Isis’s territorial gains in Iraq and the continued repression and slaughter of religious minorities there and in Syria have rightly triggered global condemnation. The irony of the moment is tragic. But to some, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Many cautioned against the earlier insistence of the Obama administration (as well as other governments) that Assad must go, fearing what would take hold in the vacuum. One of those critics happened to be Russian President Vladimir Putin, who warned against US intervention in Syria in a New York Times op-ed last September. He wrote: “A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilise the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.” Some of the crises Putin catalogued have worsened anyway, but his insistence was couched in a reading of the conflict in Syria that is more cold-blooded than the view initially held by some in Washington. “Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multi-religious country,” he wrote, suggesting that the nominally secular Assad regime, despite its misdeeds, was a stabilising force preferable to what could possibly replace it. Putin decried the growing Islamist cadres in the Syrian rebels’ ranks: “Mercenaries from Arab countries fighting there, and hundreds of militants from Western countries and even Russia, are an issue of our deep concern. Might they not return to our countries with experience acquired in Syria?” That is a concern publicly shared now by US and European officials, who are alarmed by the considerable presence of European nationals among Isis forces. A British jihadist who spoke with a London accent is believed to have carried out the shocking execution of American journalist James Foley. That western attention has shifted so dramatically from the murders carried out by the Assad regime to those carried out by the militants fighting it is a sign of the overwhelming complexity of the war, which is collapsing borders and shaking up politics across the Middle East. Nor is it necessarily vindication for Putin. His solemnizing over the integrity of international systems is hard to take seriously considering his controversial annexation of sovereign Ukrainian territory in March and continued obstruction of a diplomatic resolution to the crisis in the UN Security Council. In March 2011, Syrian protesters took to the streets. Their largely peaceful demonstrations were met by violent crackdowns by state security forces. Eventually, the upheaval turned into a full-blown sectarian civil war that has claimed the lives of at least 191,000, according to the UN last week. Some in Washington argue that if only Obama had started arming and empowering the “moderate” Syrian opposition sooner, the extremist forces now in the news would not wield such influence and power. But it’s hard to imagine any scenario where more direct US involvement in the Syrian conflict, aimed at toppling Assad, would not somehow also play into the hands of the Islamist factions. But it’s worth considering what Putin’s government insisted not long after the violence began. In his op-ed, he reminded readers that from “the outset, Russia has advocated peaceful dialogue enabling Syrians to develop a compromise plan for their own future”. That “plan for the future”, the Russians insisted, had to involve talks between the government and the opposition, something the opposition rejected totally at the time.
The Joint Investigation Team formed to probe Model Town Tragedy, has prepared its report over the gory incident after the lapse of two months. The report recommended filing of a case against Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah and principal secretary to Punjab CM Tauqeer Shah for their involvement in Model Town killings. The JIT also suggested forming another JIT after the murder case has been registered against the people mentioned in the JIT report. It should be mentioned here that the sources said the government completed preparations to transfer outside Lahore the police officials, who were involved in June 17 Carnage in Model Town at the residence of Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri and Minhaj-ul-Quran International secretariat.
Fishermen bustled through a ramshackle harbor, a knot of narrow streets and one-room houses on the edge of Karachi, as they prepared to set out to sea for the summer fishing season. But one man was going nowhere. As other fishermen mended their nets in a field, Abdul Shakoor hunched outside his front door, weaving a rug. After 15 years on the boats, Shakoor said, he was seeking a new profession - a decision his wife, Zahida, heartily endorsed. "He's getting into a boat again over my dead body," she said firmly. "I won't let him go." Shakoor, 34, returned to Karachi recently after a two-year spell in an Indian jail. He is one of several thousand fishermen, both Pakistani and Indian, who have been arrested at sea in recent years by the opposing countries' navies. The fishermen are accused of crossing a border they cannot see and whose exact location is in dispute. The quarrel goes back to the 1960s, when Pakistan and India first disagreed on the status of Sir Creek, a channel that separates Sindh province in Pakistan from the Indian state of Gujarat. Since then, the argument has broadened into a wider dispute over how the land borders should extend into the Arabian Sea. Over the years, in a bid to break the impasse, the two governments have commissioned surveys, held talks and proposed compromises. When Gen. Pervez Musharraf ruled Pakistan, he claimed to have come close to a settlement during secretive talks with his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh. But Musharraf was ousted in 2008, and, like so much between India and Pakistan, Sir Creek remains unresolved. Today, the two governments cannot even agree on which map to use when discussing their sea borders, lawyers say. And where diplomats have failed, fishermen are paying the price. Every year, dozens of fishing boats from both countries are detained by the Indian or Pakistani governments on charges of trespassing into enemy waters. Flung into jail, the fishermen often languish there for years, only to be released as part of the spasmodic peace process between the two countries. Currently, 249 Indian fishermen are being held in Pakistani jails, while 131 Pakistanis are being held in India, according to the Pakistani foreign ministry. A spokesman for India's Ministry of External Affairs said that comparable figures were not readily available. Although treated as criminals, the fishermen are better described as victims of history and geography, unfairly penalized for having to ply their trade on a map without borders, their advocates say. "The purpose of the arrests is to demonstrate the governments' authority, and to make a symbolic protest that the other state has allowed its fishermen into their water," said Ahmer Bilal Soofi, a Pakistani lawyer who has worked on the Sir Creek dispute. "But it is the fishermen who suffer unnecessarily." In the fishing village of Ibrahim Hyderi, boats painted in the floral style of Pakistani trucks crowded the harbor one morning recently, their flags fluttering in the breeze. On the "Mamoon," a goat sat quietly amid the commotion. Crew members said they would slaughter the animal once they set sail and smear its blood on the bow. "To ward off the evil eye," explained Shahid, a 16-year-old deckhand. When it comes to the India border at sea, however, more than luck is required. A half-submerged shipwreck, known locally as "kaajal," is used by Pakistani fishermen as a marker; a handful of well-off boats use GPS devices. Even so, arrests are frequent. Shakoor said that his boat was near the shipwreck when it was impounded by the Indian navy in 2012. Five other boats were captured that day and escorted to a port in Gujarat, which was then led by Narendra Modi, now the country's prime minister. The Indian authorities booked the six ship captains, Shakoor said, and threw their crews in prison. There, they met other Pakistanis, one of whom told Shakoor that he had been behind bars for 20 years. Conditions in the prison were miserable, Shakoor said, and a Pakistani diplomat visited just once during his two-year incarceration. All the time, Shakoor worried about the plight of his family back in Pakistan. "I would think about the terrible condition they must be in," he said. His worries were well-founded: The wives of other men, still in jail, described a life of penury and struggle. "My children are crying for clothes and food," said Laila, a mother of nine, whose husband has been in an Indian jail for two years and whose children crowded around her as she spoke. "My tears are running this house." A fisherman's life used to be less threatening. As recently as 10 years ago, several of them said, Indian boats were able to work freely off Manora Island, a small peninsula just south of Karachi. But in recent years, the fishermen have become pawns in a bigger diplomatic game. Both governments use them as political leverage at critical points. This May, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan released 151 Indian fishermen before he flew to New Delhi for the inauguration of his Indian counterpart, Modi. India released 353 Pakistani fishermen from 2008 to 2013, according to the Pakistani Interior Ministry, compared with 2,079 releases by Pakistan in the same period. (Pakistan appears to have arrested a greater number of Indian fishermen, which partly explains the discrepancy.) The Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, an advocacy group, says the arrests violate the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which both Pakistan and India have signed. Soofi, the lawyer, said the legal situation was murky, but noted that the rival governments could protest by issuing formal warnings to the trespassing vessels instead of arresting their crews. But for Pakistan and India - neighbors who have fought three wars and amassed large nuclear arsenals - the fishermen are just the latest expression of an old fight. "Old enmities are played out through us," said Kamal Shah, a spokesman for the Fisherfolk Forum. The fishing season was well underway by Independence Day celebrations, which fell in Pakistan on Aug. 14 and in India a day later. But the border is not the only challenge facing the fishermen. At Ibrahim Hyderi, where fishing crews transferred large blocks of ice onto their boats and stocked up on vegetables for trips of up to a month, fishermen explained the steep odds of their trade. In a good season, a haul of pomfret and prawns might earn each crew member $240. But in a bad season, it could be $20. Still, Shakoor, weaving his rug, said he yearned to return to the sea. "He doesn't know anything else," said Shah of the Fisherfolk Forum, sitting with the Shakoor family. "What will he do, become a thief?" But Shakoor's wife, Zahida, stood firm. "At least he'll still be here," she said, recalling the day he returned from the Indian jail, a bedraggled figure in filthy pants. "I won't even let my son become a fisherman when he grows up."
According to a News report published in Express Tribune schools in Panjgur are losing students due to terror spread by a religious militant organization. There are 23 private schools and English language centers and each has lost over 100 students, said Major Hussain, Principal of Oasis High School. In the month of May, an unknown militant organization, Tanzeem-ul-Islam-ul-Furqan threatened to attack the Private girl’s school. On 13th May, the terrorists of the militant organization attacked a van carrying students of a private school. This led to closure of private schools in Panjgur for three months. On 7th August Schools were reopened in Panjgur after assurances of security by provincial government. After reopening of schools, the attendance of students reduced to 40%. 400 out of 1025 students turn up in Oasis High School, according to its Principal, Major Hussain. Despite assurances of provision of security by provincial government, the threats coming from Tanzeem-ul-Islam-ul-Furqan continued unabated. The group sends us daily messages warning us that we will not be spared, added Major Hussain.
http://en.shiapost.com/More than 30 Sunni parties and groups have condemned the PMLN government for its use of banned Yazidi takfiri nasbi terrorist group against the peaceful Revolution March of Shia-allied Sunni parties. Officials of following parties and groups attended a hurriedly called meeting to discuss course of action against the Nawaz Sharif government: Jamaat-e-Ahl-e-Sunnat, Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (Niazi), Sunni Ittehad Council, Sunni Tehrik, Tahaffuz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat Mahaz, Tehrik-e-Minhaj ul Quran, Sunni Ulema Board, Mustafai Tehrik, Anjuman Talba-e-Islam, Anjuman Naujawanan-e-Islam, Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Fiqh-e-Hanafia, Pakistan Falah Party, National Mashaikh Council, Anjuman Talba-e-Madaris-e-Arabia, Markazi Majlis-e-Chishtia, Mahaz-e-Islami, Difa-e-Islam Mahaz, Anjuman Khuddam al Auliya, Bazm-e-Mohaddis-e-Azam, Janisaran-e-Khatm-e-Nubuwwat, and other groups They said that banned terrorist groups were trying to spark-off sectarian clashed by provocative actions and words. They warned that character assassination of Allama Dr Tahir ul Qadri would not be tolerated. They urged the government to ponder upon the legitimate demands of the Revolution March and accept them instead of prolonging the crisis.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari Sunday rang up Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) leader Dr Tahirul Qadri and discussed his demands. According to sources, Zardari told Qadri that he is engaged in talks with the government regarding Qadri’s demands and requested the latter to demonstrate flexibility on his stance to end the political impasse. “The nation is looking up to you,” he reportedly told Qadri. Separately, a meeting of PPP-backed Sindh Cabinet ministers was held at Bilawal House Karachi and presided over jointly by PPP Patron-in-Chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Co-chairman Zardari. Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and Sindh chief secretary also attended the meeting. Issues pertaining to overall development and law and order were discussed in detail. Zardari directed all ministers to focus on development projects which are important for the people. He also instructed the ministers to enhance contact with the people. He said that people have mandated them and it is their prime responsibility to work for the people. Ultimately all public representatives are accountable to the people, he said. The PPP co-chairman also briefed the members about his meetings with political leaders, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday. He said PPP has expressed its resolve to defend democracy at all costs as its leaders have sacrificed their lives for democracy in the country. PPP will continue to support democratic forces and institutions in the country. The meeting congratulated Zardari on his successful meetings with political leaders in Lahore yesterday and reposed full confidence on leadership of the party. Ministers who attended meeting include Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, Manzoor Wassan, Murad Ali Shah, Sharjeel Memon, Mukesh Kumar, Jam Khan Shoro, Mumtaz Jakhrani, Jam Mehtab Dehr. Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani and Deputy Speaker Shela Raza were also present.
Former additional secretary of the Election commission of Pakistan Muhammad Afzal Khan has alleged that the general elections in May 2013 were rigged and that the people’s mandate was ‘stolen’. He said that former chief justices Iftikhar Chaudhry was involved in rigging the vote. He said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif did not win the elections in a free and fair manner. He said that there were hundred punctures in election not only 35. He said that the Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim had shut his eyes on the rigging. The former additional secretary said that the Election Commission had been put under tremendous pressure during the alleged rigging.
Former additional secretary of the Election commission of Pakistan Muhammad Afzal Khan has alleged that the general elections in May 2013 were rigged and that the people's mandate was ‘stolen’. He said that former chief justices Iftikhar Chaudhry and Tassadduq Jillani were also involved in rigging the vote. Khan made the allegation during an interview on a private television channel, in which he said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif did not win the elections in a free and fair manner. He said during the interview that the Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim had shut his eyes on the rigging. The former additional secretary said that the Election Commission had been put under tremendous pressure during the alleged rigging. Khan said that judges were also involved in fixing the vote and that hearings of voter fraud was deliberately delayed. Reacting to the interview, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran khan commended Afzal Khan and said that the former additional secretary's remarks vindicates the stand that he has been taking. Imran Khan said that Afzal Khan's statements show that the position for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was untenable and again reiterated his demand that the premier resign.
Meeting of Pakistan People’s Party Sindh Cabinet with ex-president Asif Zardari in chair on Sunday decided that corruption will not be tolerated in the province at all cost. Held at the Bilawal House, provincial issues concerning governance and law and order were discussed in the meeting. According to sources, Zardari expressed anger on performance of some provincial ministers. Matters including supply of arms and ammunition to Sindh Police, and the appointment of a permanent IGP also came under consideration. Opposition to any action against democracy in the country was also decided in the session. - See more at: http://www.jaagtv.com/Corruption-Not-To-Be-Tolerated-In-Sindh-Zardari-Tells-PPP-Ministers-news-21677.html#sthash.loSIcE7d.y6V7LrDI.dpuf
Former President Asif Ali Zardari had a telephonic conversation with Pakistan Awami Tahtreek Chief Tahirul Qadri a short while ago and spoke about the current situation.