Monday, September 15, 2014

#YesScotland - We can protect free university education with independence

#YesScotland - Older people should vote Yes for the younger generation

Video Report : President Obama Awards the Medal of Honor

Bilawal announces Rs.100mn for Azad Kashmir flood victims

Chairman Pakistan People’s Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has announced to give Rs. 100 million for the flood victims of Azad Kashmir. He also announced to send 50 trucks of goods for the flood affected areas of Punjab.
Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto said that he and his party are with the people of Pakistan in this crucial time and can not leave them alone. While addressing to a ceremony, PPP Punjab President Mian Manzoor Wattoo said that flood has affected 15 districts of Punjab. He said that we are thankful to party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto for sending fifty trucks of relief goods.
Meanwhile, Faryal Talpur said that the basic infrastructure is destroyed in Punjab and Azad Kashmir due to floods. She claimed that workers of PPP are also presented to rescue the people and working in relief operation.
While addressing to a ceremony, Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah said that Sindh Government is with the people of Azad Kashmir in this crucial time and our workers and Parliamentarians also presented at ground for relief operation.
Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto also gave the cheque of Rs. 100 million to the speaker Kashmir Assembly for the help of flood affected people.

Pakistan: ‘Resignation or not’: Hashmi claims ‘Nawaz Sharif is politically dead’

The Express Tribune
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) President Makhdoom Javed Hashmi on Sunday said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was ‘politically dead’ due to his family’s ‘dynastic’ ideology.
“Whether he [Prime Minister Nawaz] resigns or not, it does not matter now,” Hashmi told reporters at a news conference held at his Multan residence. “He is politically dead.”
“Nawaz has lost the war for Pakistan’s history… not because of political immaturity, but due to the Sharif family’s dynastic ideology,” he said. The PTI leader added that Nawaz and his family had manoeuvred themselves into a position where they can no longer appear in public without security. “People don’t want to try the Sharifs in courts. They want him tried in public.”
Hashmi said he was still the president of PTI and claimed he had a major support base within the party. “This is the only reason the PTI leadership has sent me a show cause notice,” he told reporters, adding that he would reply to the notice ‘on merit’.
“I will not step back … I will not let PTI become a dynasty like PML-N [Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz],” he said, adding, “If the PTI leadership is so brave, they should talk to me publicly and address my grievances.”
According to Hashmi, “people’s patience has been tested beyond limit.”
“They can no longer bear dynasties like PML-N and puppets like Imran and [Tahirul] Qadri,” he said. “They want leaders who bring progress, not pose for photo shoots during floods.”
Talking about his strained ties with Imran Khan, Hashmi said he was ‘deeply grieved’ by the PTI chief’s statements against him. He claimed Imran was being exploited by PTI leaders Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Jahangir Tareen for their own vested interest.
“Only Qureshi and Tareen want to see Imran become the prime minister, of Pakistan,” he said. “No one else wants Imran as a prime minister because of his emotional outbursts and U-turns.”
The PTI president also hit out at Sheikh Rashid, accusing him of using Imran for vested interests as well. He said because of Sheikh Rashid, Imran had crossed a ‘point of no return’.
Hashmi criticised Imran’s political approach, saying “he considers politics to be a game of cricket, where every ball will lead to a different decision.” He added that the PTI chief provided only ‘on-stage entertainment’ and was not a rational leader with political acumen.

Video Report : 'ISIS a repeat of Afghanistan, much worse and much more extensive'

Dozens of Christians 'including women and children' are arrested in Saudi Arabia

Islamist police in Saudi Arabia have stormed a Christian prayer meeting and arrested its entire congregation, including women and children, and confiscated their bibles, it has been reported.
The raid was the latest incident of a swingeing crackdown on religious minorities in Saudi Arabia by the country's hard-line Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.
The 28 Christians were said to be worshipping at the home of an Indian national in the eastern city of Khafji, when the police entered the building and took them into custody. They have not been seen or heard from since, raising concerns among human rights groups as to their whereabouts.
Nina Shea, director of the Washington-based Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom, told 'Saudi Arabia is continuing the religious cleansing that has always been its official policy.
'It is the only nation state in the world with the official policy of banning all churches.
'This is enforced even though there are over two million Christian foreign workers in that country. Those victimized are typically poor, from Asian and African countries with weak governments.'
Activists are now calling on the U.S. to use its considerable influence in the region to help secure the release of the incarcerated Christians.
A spokesperson for the Saudi government claimed to have no knowledge of the arrests, according to Fox News.
But the English-language newspaper, The Saudi Gazette, as well as several Saudi Arabic-language news outlets, have reported on the arrests.
Arabic-language news channel, Akhbar 24, said the arrests came after the Kingdom's religious police got a tip about a home-based church.
The report also reported that 'distorted writings of the Bible were found and musical instruments, noting their referral to the jurisdictional institutions.'
At least 3.5 million Christians live in the Gulf Arab region, mostly Catholic workers from India and the Philippines.
In Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, it is against the law for Muslims to abandon their faith, a practice known as apostasy. Proselytising for other religions or practising them openly is also illegal.
Judges have considerable leeway in how to interpret the kingdom's Sharia code of Islamic law and are not bound by sentencing guidelines or a system of precedent. Both capital and corporal punishment are legal.
Last year King Abdullah, who has promoted limited reforms since coming to the throne in 2005, opened a centre for religious dialogue in Vienna that drew criticism because of Saudi Arabia's own lack of religious freedom. In 2008 he sponsored an inter-faith conference in Spain.

Turkey moving from reluctant partner to embarrassed ally

Cengiz Çandar
Turkey is gradually moving from a reluctant NATO ally toward an embarrassing or embarrassed partner in the fight against the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS). As The Daily Beast reported, “With [IS] on its doorstep, the Turkish government balks at support for Obama’s strategy.
"A diplomatic crisis looms. Turkey, a key US ally and the only NATO member that borders areas controlled by [IS] jihadists in Syria and Iraq, is in a prime location to hit the extremists next door. But it prefers not to.
“Instead, Ankara is seeking a low-profile role — so low as to be almost invisible — in the international alliance that Washington is building up against the so-called caliphate, and that fact is undermining the American strategy to strike back against the terrorists President Barack Obama deems ‘unique in their brutality.’”
Turkey's stance in the joint struggle against IS is indeed low-profile, but perhaps this is an understatement. If the recent discourse of its decision-makers is scrutinized closely, one may reach the conclusion that the ruling Islamist government of Turkey is more distanced from its NATO allies than from IS.
The 49 Turkish hostages taken by IS when it stormed the Turkish Consulate in Mosul, including the consul general, serves as a good excuse not only for Turkey’s reluctance to take part in joint action against IS, but also as a cover for the inherently and increasingly anti-Western Turkish government not to follow the lead of the “new crusaders” in their actions in the Muslim lands, targeting mainly Sunnis. It is not easy to substantiate such an argument, yet it deserves to be considered.
It is not by chance that some keen observers and political personalities reacted along these lines when Turkey refrained from signing the Jeddah Declaration on Sept. 11 along with Kerry and 10 Arab countries. Turkey’s foreign minister was the only official present who did not sign the document.
Parliamentarian Aysel Tugluk, the former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish party in Turkey, tweeted, ”Turkey did not sign the [IS] communiqué because [IS] is the name of the proxy force fielded by Sunni actors led by Turkey.”
Actually, it was already clear in an article in Yeni Safak, a publication known to be very close to the government, before Obama explained his new IS strategy that the AKP government would not contribute substantially to Obama’s strategy and saw it as a trap. The news report, headlined “Turkey will not be trapped” and attributed to government sources, bluntly stated that Turkey would not take any operational role against IS.
The most critical passage of this report read, “Prime Minister Davutoglu, who gathered top commanders of the Turkish Armed Forces at his office a day before, yesterday held a security summit with larger participation. … The topic was the IS operations and the status of 49 Turkish hostages.
“The meeting did not consider favorably the 'core coalition' issue that foresees Turkey’s support for a ground operation against IS but emphasized the complications that have arisen in Iraq and Syria. That IS was an outcome of the [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad regime was heavily underlined in the meeting, which adopted the policy of a passive role in the coalition. The summit decided that at this phase, Turkey could not participate in any military operation. It was stressed that active support by Ankara for the operation could risk the lives of the hostages.”
Even more interesting, Ibrahim Karagul, the editor-in-chief of Yeni Safak and a Davutoglu disciple, penned a column, “ISIS Trap to Turkey,” in which he crafted an outlandish conspiracy theory and claimed that the real target of the new anti-IS joint action is actually Turkey. His argument is significant and interesting in that it more or less reflects the mindset of Turkey’s decision-makers. He wrote, “There is a plot being hatched, but all its elements are in the open. Turkey is aware of the plot and no matter what others say it will follow its own course. They did not take note of any of Turkey’s warnings about the key issues of the region. Now with the pretext of IS, they are trying to throw Turkey into the fire.
“The mentality that punished Sunnis during the invasion of Iraq and in the status quo that evolved is the key creator of the [IS] issue today. Even more bizarre, the countries that are preparing for a new operation don’t have any projects for the future of Sunnis.
“Turkey is, of course, a NATO member and partner of international institutions. Of course, it will do its part in global operations. But for some reason, the priorities of these international institutions always work against us.
“We are truly fed up with paying the costs of the destruction these countries have caused in our region, and of their mistakes.
“To take action for US and European interests and priorities, to play a central role in that operation and to send soldiers are issues that Turkey has to assess carefully and avoid. Let them go and solve their own problems. Before [IS] there was the Syrian issue. They did nothing there. They didn’t keep any of their promises.
“The [IS] problem cannot be solved before the Syria problem is solved. Shouldn’t they know at least this much? Their problem is not [IS] but Turkey. … Everyone knows this now.”
It is not surprising that Turkey did not sign the Jeddah communique, while the Arab nations vowed to “do their share” to confront and ultimately destroy IS. Their promise came after the nations’ foreign ministers met in Saudi Arabia behind closed doors with Kerry.
The New York Times reported on the dramatic development, “Turkey also took part in the meetings here, but it did not sign the communique. A senior State Department official sought to minimize the significance of that development, saying the United States would continue to consult with Turkish officials on how to respond to the threat posed by [IS], which has captured 49 Turkish diplomats in Iraq and held them hostage. 'We understand the challenging situation Turkey is in given their detained diplomats, and they will make the decision on what role they can play moving forward,' the official said.” On the day Kerry reached Ankara, The New York Times reported an unnamed Turkish official’s statement. “Speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, an official advised not to expect public support for the American effort.”
An Agence France-Presse dispatch from Ankara confirmed, “Turkey will refuse to allow a US-led coalition to attack jihadists in neighboring Iraq and Syria from its air bases, nor will it take part in combat operations against militants.”
The two main Turkish dailies, Hurriyet and Milliyet, came out with similar headlines on the day Kerry came to Ankara. Hurriyet’s was “Difficult guest” while Milliyet's read “Ankara draws the line.” Milliyet wrote that Turkey’s contribution to Obama’s plan to destroy IS will have a "humanitarian focus," meaning Turkey will not participate any armed action against IS and will not assist those taking part in such an activity.
In his strategy speech, Obama said that “America will be joined by a broad coalition of partners." Kerry added during his joint statement with the Saudi foreign minister, “We believe we will beat back the evil” of IS. Kerry also asserted that the international coalition against IS was growing.
Turkey is the only NATO country bordering IS' areas of control. But when it comes to the fight against it, a reluctant ally is gradually transforming itself into an embarrassing partner for the Western nations and an embarrassed regional actor in front of IS.
We have yet to see how such Turkey's stance will bear on Obama’s strategy and how it might affect its success. Nonetheless, this start does not bode well for the coming fight.
Read more:

Video Report: US Touts Coalition to Fight Islamic State Group

The Obama administration is expressing confidence in the formation of an international coalition to combat Islamic State radicals who control swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where congressional action in support of the effort is a matter of growing debate.

Sergey Lavrov - 'No good terrorists': Lavrov urges anti-ISIS coalition not to put political interests first

There is no such thing as a ‘good’ terrorist, and we call on other nations not to show their political ambitions while fighting with terrorism, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said during a Paris conference on Iraq.
The participants have agreed to offer Iraq “appropriate military aid,” according to the final conference statement.
Participants have agreed to offer Iraq “appropriate military aid,” according to the final conference statement. It wasn’t immediately clear what kind of military aid was meant.
The statement added that dealing with the IS is “a matter of urgency."
Around 30 countries took part in the event.
Lavrov has criticized the move not to invite Syria and Iran to the meeting.
“Syria and Iran are our natural allies in the fight against IS, and their participation in today’s meeting could significantly enrich our work. Moral standards on which the anti-terrorism battle is based shouldn’t become vague,” he stated.
Lavrov also stated that the IS is evidently planning to “edge the whole region of the Middle East into the abyss of religious wars,” enlisting their crimes.
He spoke out harshly against all the activities of IS which “threaten the future of Iraq,” with “death and destruction” spilling into Syria as well.
Aggressive actions by the terrorist organization which calls itself ‘Islamic State’ threaten the future of Iraq. Extremists bring death and destruction to the neighboring Syria as well.
Lavrov also stated that the IS is evidently planning to “edge the whole region of the Middle East into the abyss of religious wars,” by listing their crimes.
“They murdered and humiliate Christians, stage horrific executions of journalists. They try to impose on Muslims an unacceptable attitude to other confessions and to the entire world,” Lavrov said.
The minister expressed a strong point of view regarding the IS ambitions for independence.
“The IS commanders should have no illusions: they do not represent Islam and they would never be allowed to create their state,” he said.
He also expressed the Russian position in favor of “the continued independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq,” as well as “the advancement of inclusive political process.”
Finally, Lavrov expressed Russia’s readiness to participate in the development of additional measures for fighting terrorism.
“We already provide significant military and other necessary help to strengthen the anti-terrorism potential of Iraq, Syria and other states in the region which are on the frontline in their fight against the IS,” he said.

Pakistan: Journalists - A Deadly Assignment

By Shahzada Zulfiqar
The killing of Irshad Mastoi, a trade unionist and a professional journalist, along with a trainee reporter Abdur Rasool and his office accountant Mohammad Younus on August 28 has further shaken the media in Balochistan.
According to eye witnesses, a person armed with 9mm pistol stormed into the office of the bureau chief of Online News and opened fire at Mastoi at point-blank range and then shot others, probably to destroy the evidence.
Both Mastoi and his accountant were killed on the spot while the trainee reporter succumbed to his injuries on his way to hospital after 45 minutes.
“Call data recovered from the reporter’s mobile shows he called someone at 8:10 or 8:20, roughly 40 minutes after the crime was committed,” says a police official on condition of anonymity.
Mastoi’s close friends, colleagues and family knew that he had been receiving threats from sectarian organisations, banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Baloch militant groups and security agencies over his reportage.
“He had been receiving life threats from unknown callers, who used abusive language and warned him of dire consequences,” one of his friends told The News on Sunday. “Irshad [Mastoi] told me a couple of days before his murder that someone is threatening him on phone for the last few days but did not mention the details,” he says.
Twenty four journalists, three of their family members and a media worker have been killed during the last six years. Baloch militant organisations have claimed the responsibility for the killings of six media men, dubbing them as agents of spy agencies. No one, so far, has claimed the rest of the murders, including that of Irshad Mastoi and his colleagues.
Irshad-mastoi3Some of his colleagues think that Irshad Mastoi’s recent article on the eve of Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti’s 8th death anniversary became the cause of his murder. He wrote about the life and politics of Baloch leaders and policies of the military establishment in Balochistan besides the military action in which Nawab Bugti was killed. However, some of his close friends suspect the involvement of a politico-sectarian party in his killing for not running the party’s press releases/statements on Online.
Irshad Mastoi, 35, a literary person, father of three children all under four years of age, was the general secretary of Balochistan Union of Journalists, and raised voice for the plight of media people, particularly those murdered or killed in bomb blasts. He maintained the list of targeted journalists and would often jokingly say that he may one day be mentioned among them – today, he ranks 23rd on that list.
Mastoi had a hair-breadth escape five years back in an accident in Gwadar.
He was in a hotel room in Gwadar in December 2009 to cover the signing ceremony of the 7th NFC award. He received severe electric shock when his hand came close to a live high tension wire running close to the window while throwing cigarette outside the window.
He survived but his right hand was amputated in a Karachi hospital. He remained depressed for a couple of months, but with great effort he started writing and typing with left hand. He wished to get a bionic arm that costs over Rs3 million and made huge effort to get aid from any international or national organisation but could not succeed. “It is my great desire that I get a bionic arm so that my useless (amputated) hand can become useful,” he often said to his friends.
The journalist community, which is in protest against the murder of their fellow journalist, does not have any expectation from the police that has failed to nab the killers of their own 22 police officers who fell prey to sectarian violence in the province. FIRs of murders of media people are hardly ever registered and not a single culprit has been arrested.
The compensation for the bereaved families in most cases is pending for years.
There is no freedom of press in Balochistan. The banned organisations whether Baloch or Islamic/sectarian militants, politico-sectarian groups and intelligence agencies want to take over the media. These organisations get space on front page in the local newspapers for their routine press statements and air time in TV channels.
Similarly, the restive districts including Kohlu, Kechh, Khuzdar and Dera Bugti are in control of security forces which also do not allow objective reporting to journalists. Khuzdar Press Club was closed down two months back and it is the third time that the local journalists in the wake of threats by a tribal notable stopped reporting for their TV channels/newspapers after closing down their press club.

Bilawal Bhutto to contest elections in 2018 from NA 207

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) patron-in-chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Monday announced his decision to contest the next elections from the Larkana-Ratodero NA-207 seat.
Bilawal will contest the 2018 elections from the NA-207 seat, which is the home constituency of his mother, former prime minister Benzair Bhutto. The PPP patron-in-chief made this announcement while addressing the media at Bilawal House.
In the May 2013 elections, Faryal Talpur, sister of former president Asif Ali Zardari was allotted this seat.
Ruling out the possibility of contesting by-elections, Bilawal said, “I will start my parliamentary politics from my family seat during the next general elections.”
The patron-in-chief, who had organised lunch in honour of journalists, also lashed out at the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek, who are currently staging a sit-in at the federal capital to overthrow the incumbent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government.
“Lives and properties of people are at stake in the country owing to floods, but Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri are unwilling to give up their sit-ins.”
“Politics of dharnas should come to an end and we should all support the flood victims and those displaced owing to Operation Zarb-e-Azb,” he added.

PAT workers' killing: Islamabad court orders to book PM, CM Punjab, federal ministers

A local court in the federal capital on Monday accepted Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) petition and ordered police to register case against killings of PAT workers, Dunya News reported.
PAT had submitted a petition in in District and Session Judge Raja Jawad Abbas s court under section 22-A, seeking case registration against high government officials including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over killings of protesting workers in Islamabad’s Red Zone on August 31.
During case proceedings, Secretariat Police submitted a report before court, stating that PAT protestors intended to occupy sensitive buildings in the Red Zone. Names of those injured or killed were not mentioned in the complaint submitted by the PAT. The case was already registered on behalf of the state authorities and Pakistan Awami Tehreek’s complaint was received after four days of the incident.
Police further stated that SSP operations Asmatullah Junejo was badly injured in protestors attack.
Defence lawyer Chaudhry Abdul Aziz stated that administration did not issue NOC for entrance in the Red Zone. No objection certificate was only issued for Aabpara location, however, PTI and PAT violated it.
He further stated that protestors pelted stones at police and broke parliament’s gate and fences.
Petitioner Umar Riaz Abbasi’s lawyer Ibrar Raza told court that defence lawyer is trying to divert everyone’s attention with his ‘filmi stories.’
He said protestors were peaceful but police opened fire, killing two PAT workers and injuring dozens on the orders of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar.
“We submitted a request in the Secretariat Police Station for registration of case, however, police did not take any action” he added.
After hearing arguments, the court ordered police to register case.
PAT has nominated Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar, Railway Minister Saad Rafique, Defence Minister Khwaja Asif, IG Islamabad, IG Railway, Commissioner Islamabad and other high officials.

Pakistan: PML-N government - Tunnel vision

After more than one year of the PML-N government there appears to be hardly any improvement in investment climate of the country. There is hardly any doubt about the fact that investment is key to bringing the economy out of the doldrums, but options are profoundly limited while a plethora of issues still remains unresolved. The superior judiciary; regulators (Nepra and Ogra); National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Executive Branch are cumulatively responsible for this dismal state of affairs. The country's economy is adrift as the decision makers are distracted by the sit-ins in the capital city (Islamabad). And, the allegations of rampant corruption in the shape of commissions and kickbacks are being repeated ad nausum every evening by the leadership of both the Tehrik-e-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehrik. The mud-slinging is sticking since the leadership of PML-N, ie, the Sharif family, has miserably failed in correctly answering about the assets they hold abroad specially their luxurious Park Lane apartments in London.
The question that needs to be answered is why do the politicians in this country have the need to hold wealth abroad? Is it due to lack of faith in this country's stability or for providing the need to have insurance cover? Prior to nationalisation of business, black wealth was invested back into this country. Pakistan's foremost economist Dr Mehboobul Haq realising his folly about the 22 families holding majority of wealth of the country reversed himself and came up with whitener bonds as well as national bearer bonds to encourage this wealth to be ploughed back into the economy. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 1992 liberalised foreign exchange regulation and General Musharraf in 2000 perforce had to continue with foreign exchange regulations Act 1992, provided the money was remitted through banking channel and converted into Pak rupee. This is the cost that the nation is paying for the wrong policy of nationalisation of businesses. Now the investors want a higher return to cover the country-risk which has further deteriorated due to cancellation of signed contracts en masse by the courts as well as the fear of NAB investigation reopening of signed and concluded agreements.
Not all rental power agreements had an element of kickbacks. But all these contracts were cancelled by the Supreme Court which further exacerbated the supply-demand gap for electricity. Now the present government is being accused of raising the tariff for coal powered plants as well as for conversion of existing furnace oil-based generation converting to coal. The question that needs to be answered is why the investors have the need to convert when fuel is a pass-through item. The answer appears to be to lower their financial cost because the government managed distribution companies (Discos) do not pay on time and also the sovereign has reneged on its rupee guarantees. The new investor - probably the Chinese - see this dismal state of affairs. They will definitely raise the country risk. Even in joint ventures with big Pak businesses the foreigners are now requiring guarantees from parent companies of the Pakistani partners in addition to sovereign guarantees. Chinese enthusiasm to invest in Gadani will wane if we do not have the capacity to transmit electricity from the South to load centres in the North ie Punjab through the national grid which also needs to be revamped.
The real problem in Pakistan is the dependency of the politicians on bureaucrats. Politicians want things to be done but lack knowledge. The civil servants know how to do it on fast track bypassing the rules and regulations. Only does not lead to accusations of misuse of authority when challenged in the courts but it also catches those in authority with their pants down; because the process laid down in rules and regulation has not been followed. This has happened repeatedly. The latest example being the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC). It was challenged when it was levied under the PPP regime. Despite High Courts adverse ruling being in the field; GIDC collection of Rs 148 billion was included in the budget and committed to the IMF. Now that Supreme Court has declared null and void as this is not a tax but a 'fee' and cannot be part of the Money Bill; it has left the government panting between a rock and a hard place. The government is said to be contemplating filing a review petition. Politicians in this country are people who do not have knowledge to run the system. They greatly depend on civil servants to do it. Unfortunately, however, our civil servants have still not learnt to live under the 18th Amendment and operate in a truly federal set-up and are more conversant with a unitary form under a colonial rule or a military regime. Until the civil servants are re-trained on how to work in a federation, the country will move from one crisis to another.
Last but not least, Imran Khan's sit-in effort is not aimed at creating a 'New Pakistan', nor is Qadri the spectre of a struggle for delivering a 'Green Revolution' in the country. These two identical developments, as they play out in Islamabad's Red Zone, are flowering of Pakistan's past.

Rape By PMLN MAN's Son : Blackmailed Into Silence

The girl sexually assaulted by the three sons of a PMLN MNA and five other suspects in Faisalabad has decided to drop the case. The victim changed her original statement on Friday from being raped, to exchanging ‘harsh words’ with the accused. The sudden retraction blatantly points to manipulation on part of the sons of Mian Farooq; Muazzam, Saad and Qasim Farooq got to her before justice could run its course. The police have dropped investigations after refusal on part of the victim to give her blood sample and sanction DNA tests.
The accused and their father, MNA Mian Farooq, have said that this was an attempt to malign their reputation. Vehemently denying the accusations and calling the victim a liar is beyond abominable, but not unexpected. The victim’s decision to retract the FIR does not prove their innocence. When it comes to blackmail, the person being blackmailed is the one that strives to divert public attention away from the entire episode. Common sense dictates that the girl is the one who is being blackmailed, while it is in the interest of Mian Farooq and his sons to keep this under wraps.
Are we really going to look the other way? Pretend that it never happened? Pretend that the medical examination of the victim did not confirm that she was gang-raped and tortured? The sons of PMLN’s Mian Farooq were identified, and now that she’s mysteriously retracted her statement, are we really not considering that she might have been forced to do so? Blackmailed, threatened or paid-off to stay quiet and let her attackers walk free, to repeat their crimes with impunity. Anyone with influence can do whatever they want to those who lack it.
The subjugation of women is also allowed to propagate itself after incidents such as this. Rape victims never receive justice, and a major reason is for this is the way their cases are dismissed in police departments all over the country. Never mind whether those accused are ever punished, the fact that most cases do not even make it to court is just as big a problem as the trials themselves. Fear of making things worse holds more than half the victims back from ever seeking justice. With regards to sexual assault, the government fails on all counts; first, in its inability to prevent such incidents from taking place. Secondly, from making the victims feel like they are the ones at fault, and lastly, allowing those that speak up to be blackmailed and denied justice, to make them feel like they have no hope for their attackers to be punished.

Pakistan: The protesters should count themselves lucky

Approaching the one month mark, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek’s (PAT’s) sit-in in the capital seems to have taken a turn for the worse as far as resolving the crisis is concerned. Having reached this month long milestone, where participant fatigue and general freezing of the workings of the capital city are now making their presence felt, the PTI and PAT should have taken note of the fact that any avenue open for dialogue or a civilised way out of this imbroglio was to be welcomed. On Saturday, the government directed law enforcement agencies to arrest PTI and PAT workers after Chairman PTI Imran Khan announced a One Nation Day, basically a clarion call to gather more numbers and pressurise the government of the PML-N to give in to its undemocratic demands. The police arrested as many as 300 workers belonging to both parties on Saturday, identified as being the ones who had stormed into and attacked the office of Pakistan Television (PTV), and also those hooligans who were caught trying to break into waterlines and indulging in electricity theft. This has resulted in the PTI and PAT breaking off all dialogue with the government. Almost all of those arrested have now been granted bail and released in accordance with due process. While the leaders of the PTI and PAT, Imran Khan and Dr Tahirul Qadri respectively, can be seen hollering out loud to their waning supporters in the crowds about the injustice of these arrests, one must pause and take stock.
It has been a whole month since these dharnas (sit-ins) commenced and it has not all been singing and dancing on the streets of the capital. The everyday working of the government and the economic activity on which we so depend have come to a grinding halt, resulting in the loss of billions of rupees, money we can ill afford to just flush down the gutter. The sit-ins have resulted in the cancelling of the Chinese president’s visit to Islamabad and all sorts of business activity has shut down because of the unpredictable and possibly volatile nature of the events in the capital. With this kind of havoc being played with the very heart of our economy and international standing, the fact that the government of the PML-N has not done more to stem the situation is what should boggle the mind. Imran Khan’s and Tahirul Qadri’s allegations have yet to be proved. There may very well have been some form of electoral rigging at the local constituency level, but the charge of a wholesale systematic plan remains without foundation or convincing evidence. On that unproved and dubious basis to descend upon the capital with a few thousand supporters and demand that a sitting prime minister who enjoys a clear majority in parliament and the support of all other parties except one to simply step down would be setting a dangerous precedent if this nonsense is allowed to continue for much longer. There are rules that must be followed in the political system and all such grievances must be brought to parliament. All the gripes and issues that Khan and Qadri have are not new to the game of politics as electoral reforms have been an issue before. However, a correct course must be followed or anarchy will set in.
The government’s incredible (and not without criticism) restraint can be attributed to the disastrous handling of the Model Town Lahore incident in which 14 innocent people lost their lives due to excessive police brutality. The government knows that if anything like that happens again, it would be political suicide. This is a psychological apprehension and the government must overcome its fears and handle the issue and the Punjab police properly. In the interest of clearing Constitution Avenue, a step ordered by no less than the Supreme Court, the government imposed Section 144, which prohibits a gathering of more than five people. Despite that the crowds did not disperse. The PTI and PAT workers should count themselves lucky that the government is fighting its own demons at the moment.
It is simply not okay to hold the government and country hostage at gunpoint. While peaceful protest is a democratic right, violent and never ending agitation that challenges the writ of the state is not. The government must now firmly and wisely crack down on all law breakers and violators of the principle of peaceful protest in the interests of getting the business of the state and government back on track. Being elected also imposes the responsibility of safeguarding state and society (the millions) against the conspiratorial intrigues of the few and their suspected backers in the establishment.

Pakistan: Bakhtawar Bhutto unveils well-coordinated relief operations across Sindh
Flood and Disaster Victims Organization (FDVO) led by Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari has unveiled a well-coordinated relief operation across the districts of Sindh province threatened by the floods to provide timely relief to those possibly hit by the floods.
Co-chairing a meeting of FDVO with MNA Faryal Talpur, Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari took cognizance of media reports and weathermen predictions that some of the districts of Sindh will be facing the flooding in the wake of upcountry flood-water gushing toward the ocean through Indus from tomorrow.
Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari told the meeting that FDVO will establish Tent Cities and provide free ration directly from Utility Stores to the people affected by unruly waters. Medical Camps shall also be arranged at different places. FDVO will provide the relief to them from its own resources and contributions from philanthropists.
The meeting was attended by Senator Saeed Ghani, Shagufta Jumani, Senator Aajiz Dhamrah, Zia Lanjhar and Maqbool Memon.It was decided at the meeting that Shagufta Jumani and Senator Aajiz Dhamrah will visit the districts possibly facing the danger of floods so that advance arrangement could be made for adequate relief operations to mitigate the people sufferings.

Afghanistan reacts on Punjabi Taliban’s declaration of war

The government of Afghanistan reacted towards declaration of war by Punjabi Taliban militants, saying that the government of Afghanistan would not be surprised by such announcements as Afghanistan has been victim of terrorist groups supported by Pakistani intelligence agencies.
The national security council of Afghanistan (NSC) following a statement said the government is aware that Punjabi Taliban have announced for the second time to boost their insurgency activities in Afghanistan while continuing to peaceful campaign in Pakistan.
The statement further added that the latest stance by Punjabi Taliban does not express any new approach in the policies of Punjabi Taliban and Pakistani intelligence agencies.
The national security council (NSC) said Afghanistan has long been suffering from terrorist groups funded, trained and equipped by the intelligence agencies of Pakistan.
Several Pakistani Taliban militants were killed or arrested following coordinated attacks in various parts of Afghanistan, the statement, said adding that the latest declarations by Punjabi Taliban shows a clear interference of Pakistani intelligence agencies in Afghanistan and to kill innocent civilians.
The statement also added that the government of Afghanistan and national security council will precisely follow the declaration by Pubjabi Taliban and insist that use of terrorism as a destructive tool is not favor of any nation.
NSC warned of crisis and worsening situation both in Afghanistan and Pakistan with persistence of such imaginations to have dominance on specific targets by arming terrorist groups.
The statement by NSC also added that the government of Afghanistan is expecting that the decision makers in Pakistan review the calls by Afghan government to prevent use of terrorism and jointly work to improve stability in both nations.

Pakistan's Punjabi Taliban : Dangerous possibilities

In certain national security circles, the renunciation of violence inside Pakistan by the leader of the TTP Punjab aka the Punjabi Taliban, Asmatullah Muawiya, will be greeted with satisfaction, even glee.
Luring the Punjabi Taliban back towards the mainstream of society and politics has been a long-term goal of a section of the Pakistani security establishment; the thinking being that the former allies of the security establishment are merely misguided and can be persuaded to lay down their arms and lead peaceful existences again.
From here, it would hardly be a surprise to see Muawiya being propped up for a political role, the route of former jihadis into politics being a well-trodden one now, including the likes of Fazlur Rehman Khalil, Hafiz Saeed, Malik Ishaq and Masood Azhar.
At the very least, the next Difa-i-Pakistan Council agglomeration can look forward to recruiting Muawiya to whatever cause is deemed worthy of agitation next.
Whether or not Muawiya and his companions do end up making the journey from violent militants to respectable citizens, it is really the thinking of the Pakistani security establishment that needs to be scrutinised.
The Punjabi Taliban are essentially Kashmir-centric and sectarian militants who turned their ire on Pakistan itself after then-Gen Pervez Musharraf put the security establishment’s jihad policy into cold storage and even banned many of the groups that the Pakistani state had long patronised.
Some of the worst attacks against sectarian targets and the security apparatus have been carried out by the Punjabi Taliban over the years.
The Punjabi Taliban are a very different breed of militants as compared to, say, the Fata TTP, whose origins and, arguably, even present motivations are largely tied to the army’s presence in the tribal areas.
The Punjabi Taliban are ideologically committed militants who believe in a global jihad complex, which is why their announcement of ending their so-called armed struggle inside Pakistan has left the door open to armed struggle being waged outside Pakistan.
Satisfaction then at the latest development in the world of militancy here can only mean one thing: the policy of good militant/bad militant continues and the security establishment continues to see some kind of a significant role for the religious right and good militants in the national discourse.
That is deeply troubling because it suggests that no lessons have been learned, and it sets the stage for even greater problems down the road.
By seeking to mainstream rabid ideologues wedded to violence and the overthrow of the Pakistani state, the security establishment is creating a pincer in which the state and society will eventually be caught: on the one side the armed militants who refuse to give up violence; on the other the political militant handed a ticket to mainstream society and politics.
Surely, that is a pincer that no state or society can survive for very long.
Everything that Muawiya and his ilk stand for is in direct opposition to what Pakistan ought to be. It is a ruinous strategy that seeks to empower them further.

Polio monitoring board meeting may put Pakistan in trouble

By Ikram Junaidi
Although, at the moment, the government has been giving most of its attention to issues of sit-ins in the federal capital and the floods which have affected a vast area of the country, the real danger has started looming as a meeting of the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) for Polio has been scheduled for September 30.
IMB is the board which suggested international travel restrictions on Pakistan and World Health Organisation (WHO) implemented it. Most alarmingly, Pakistani government has failed to implement the recommendations of IMB. However, the National Coordinator for Polio Eradication Ayesha Raza Farooq claims that recommendations of IMB will be implemented before the meeting and she is prepared to defend Pakistan’s case there.
It is pertinent to mention that IMB works on behalf of the international donor agencies and it issues reports regarding performance of the countries after every six months. In November 2012, IMB recommended that travel restrictions should be imposed on Pakistan and finally those recommendations were implemented on May 5.
On June 2, IMB released its recommendations for Pakistan, in which Prime Minister’s Polio Cell was declared a ‘shadow boxing entity’. IMB recommended establishing a new entity named ‘Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) for Polio’ before July 1, 2014. It was recommended that a new entity should be dealt by both the president and the prime minister.
IMB, in its report, further stated that, in 2011, the Pakistani government had promised that by December 2014, the country would become polio-free, but that promise was not kept. IMB report further stated that Pakistan infected Syria, Iraq, West Bank and Gaza with polio virus.A Ministry of National Health Services official said unfortunately polio was not among the priorities of the government.
“In the season of dengue, not only isolation wards are established in hospitals but emergency is declared in all provinces, especially Punjab. Teachers are called in schools, even during summer vacations, to see if there is stagnant water in which mosquitoes breed,” he said.
“However, I have never heard about any meeting chaired by the prime minister on polio. I remember that, during the tenure of PPP, at least the government was serious about the health sector and used to have meetings regarding polio twice a week. Special Adviser to Prime Minister Shahnaz Wazir Ali and Azra Fazal Pechuho used to participate in those meetings,” he said.
“I feel that there is no leadership and nobody is ready to take the responsibility regarding polio cases, which were only 58 in 2012 and reached to 146 within just eight months of 2014. There will be a low transmission season for polio from November to March, which will be the best time to eradicate the virus,” the official said.
“I fear that in the two-day meeting with IMB in London, it will become difficult to defend the case of Pakistan. It seems that only international pressure can force our rulers to take steps for the eradication of this virus,” he added.
“IMB recommended that EOCs should be established before July, but the government has not bothered to implement the recommendations, due to which Pakistan will face embarrassment in the meeting,” he said.
“It seems that travel restrictions will be lifted from Syria and Cameroon, and Pakistan will be the only country with travel restrictions, because around 90 per cent of the cases, reported from all over the world, belong to Pakistan,” he said.
Technical Coordinator of Provincial Polio Cell Sindh Shahnaz Wazir Ali, who was also the focal person for the prime minister during the PPP-led government, told Dawn that issue of polio should be taken very seriously.
“Although Taliban imposed a ban on polio campaign in Waziristan, we tried to vaccinate children through religious scholars and private persons. I and Azra Fazal used to travel all over the country to ensure massive polio campaigns, due to which polio cases reduced and reached to only 58 in 2012,” she said.
“During PPP’s tenure, President Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani also took interest in eradication of polio. Although it was our idea to get loan from Islamic Development Bank (IDB), PC-I for loan could not be approved for many months in the tenure of PML-N,” she said.
Ms Shahnaz said the government should raise problems of IDPs and military operation in Waziristan in the IMB meeting because the number of reported polio cases will further increase in the coming days.
National Coordinator for Polio Eradication Ayesha Raza Farooq told Dawn that she defended Pakistan’s case in the last IMB meeting and was planning to do it again.
“We could not hold polio campaigns in Waziristan for two and half years. Moreover, rains and IDPs have further increased the problem. I will tell the members of the IMB that the military operation has brought a new hope for Pakistan, because 80 per cent cases of polio are reported from Fata. Now it will be possible to hold polio campaigns there,” she said.
Ms Farooq said although IMB recommended that EOCs should be established before July, it is not easy to take that sort of steps.
“Notifications for the establishment of EOCs have been issued by the provinces, however, the notification at the federal level could not be issued because of the situation in Islamabad. It has been decided that EOCs will be established before IMB’s meeting,” she claimed.