Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Music Video - Nicole Scherzinger - Your Love

Music Video - Nicki Minaj - Pills N Potions

Music Video - Beyoncé - Pretty Hurts

Music Video - Beyoncé - Drunk in Love (Explicit) ft. JAY Z

Video - Who are the Republican challengers for 2016?

Video - Rocket Shock: Social media fallout from NASA crash & Russian launch

Saudi Arabia is shooting itself in the foot by executing Shiite cleric

By Nile Bowie
The House of Saud’s plans to execute a revered Shiite cleric and protest leader reveal the extent to which the regime is vulnerable and desperate to perpetuate itself. Going ahead with the execution would be strategic miscalculation.
Significant political developments have unfolded in Saudi Arabia in recent weeks following a court decision to execute Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, a polarizing Shiite cleric and political activist who has campaigned for civil equality, an inclusive socio-political system, women’s rights, minority rights, and the release of political prisoners. Prosecutors condemned the cleric to death by beheading as punishment for charges of sedition, though the execution date has not yet been set.
Sheikh Nimr has been the fiercest critic of the Kingdom’s absolute Sunni monarchy for the last decade, but gained a considerable public following after leading a series of protests in 2011 in opposition to the Saudi military’s violent intervention and suppression of the pro-democracy movement in neighboring Bahrain, a satellite state with a Shiite majority ruled by a heavy-handed Sunni dynasty. His sermons and political activism continually emphasized non-violent resistance.
The Kingdom’s decision to sentence Nimr to death has complex implications that will push sectarian tensions to fever pitch inside Saudi Arabia and throughout the region, dangerously sharpening tension with Iran. Prominent clerics in Iran and Bahrain, as well as Shiite militant groups such as Hezbollah of Lebanon and the Houthi movement of Yemen, have all condemned the verdict and warned the Kingdom not to proceed with the execution.
These developments are a symptom of the greater Sunni-Shiite sectarian conflict raging throughout Iraq, Syria and other hotspots across the region, representing the most poignant challenge facing the Muslim world in contemporary times. Western governments and corporations have aided and abetted Saudi Arabia and other wildly repressive theocratic monarchies, which have been given carte blanche to shape and spread radical Sunni Islam. The United States has long tolerated the House of Saud exporting fanatic sectarianism throughout the Islamic world in the interest of furthering its own strategic foreign policy objectives.
Saudi Arabia, a key financier of jihadist groups fighting in Syria and Iraq, has used its vast oil wealth to promote the ideology of ultra-conservative Wahhabism in missionaries throughout the Muslim world over the past three decades. It has sought to promote a puritanical and rigidly exclusionist Islam that declares non-Muslims – and Muslims of minority sects – as infidels. The Kingdom is governed by a feudalistic, decadent monarchy bent on entrenching its own power and the uncontested legitimacy of the King as the de facto leader of Sunni Islam.
The rise of the Islamic State organization is the result of reckless Western and Gulf policies that have destabilized both Iraq and Syria. Because this group and their fellow travelers do not recognize the legitimacy of the House of Saud, the Kingdom has constructed a massive fence around its borders, in addition to taking measures to prevent domestic sympathizers from becoming politically active inside the country. Saudi Arabia has recently agreed to an American request that the Kingdom provide a base to train so-called “moderate” Syrian rebel fighters, in the name of fighting extremism.
The execution of Sheikh Nimr, a revered Shiite religious scholar, will be widely read by fanatic Sunni militia groups as a Saudi endorsement of their campaign of sectarian cleansing and bloodletting of Shiites and minorities in Iraq and Syria, in the interest of crushing any political opposition to radical Wahhabism. The notion that a country so demonstrably sectarian and extremist can be entrusted with the task of training “moderates” is appalling.
The House of Saud has promoted the unsubstantiated narrative that Iran is actively plotting to undermine Sunni Islam, characterizing the country’s Shiite minority as co-conspirators. The two million strong Shiite minorities – who represent some 10 to 15 percent of the population – live in the oil-rich eastern province that is strategically vital to the Saudi economy. This blatant manipulation of the sectarianism is aimed at dividing the citizens of Saudi Arabia from forming a unified opposition to the monarchy.
Sheikh Nimr was shot four times by police and arrested in February 2012, fueling protests throughout the eastern province, mainly in Qatif and Awamiyah, but also wider unrest in Sunni areas such as Hejaz, Mecca, and the capital, Riyadh. Open dissent is rare in the Kingdom, but it is becoming increasingly common with the rise of the internet. More than half the country is under 18-years-old, while the heirs to the throne are rapidly ageing.
Open-minded sections of society are beginning to come to the realization that Saudi Arabia is a brutally theocratic, opulent gerontocracy utterly dependent on energy exports and Western patronage. The rise of the Islamic State group, whose leadership claims to represent all Muslims, has created a situation where Riyadh must demonstrate its Islamic credentials through its uncompromising implementation of Sharia law, which has led to a recent surge of executions by beheading.
Riyadh’s calculation is that executing Sheikh Nimr will help increase support for the monarchy from a society with strong anti-Shiite leanings. It will also polarize the Shiite minority and young cosmopolitan Sunnis, leading to wider unrest and more open displays of dissent against the monarchy. In death, the Saudis would immortalize Sheikh Nimr as a symbol of opposition, thereby shooting themselves in the foot. It would be a major strategic blunder for the House of Saud to give its opponents a martyr.
The Saudi ruling family feels increasingly vulnerable from both internal and external threats, and the pervasive stoking of sectarian tension and anti-Shiite sentiment are an attempt to deflect from other potential forms of dissent, such as the lack of political representation and the dire poverty that many in the Kingdom live under. Sheikh Nimr’s call for compassion, social justice and civil equality undeniably claim the moral high ground. The only move Riyadh can make to delegitimize this message is to fuel irrational, unthinking sectarianism.
In any case, the silence from Washington has been deafening. The US has not given any sign that it is opposed to Sheikh Nimr’s execution and would not be inclined to take the side of a Shiite cleric that Riyadh accuses of being an agent of Tehran. Washington’s missionary democracy promotion is left at the door when dealing with Saudi Arabia, which is far too strategic and beneficial to US military and economic interests to be cut loose as a liability. Sheikh Nimr’s only fault is opposing the wrong regime in the wrong country. If he campaigned with the same program against a government that the West regarded with hostility, the world would know his name.

Video - President Obama Delivers Remarks on American Health Care Workers’ Fight Against Ebola

For Turkey and U.S., at odds over Syria, a 60-year alliance shows signs of crumbling

By Liz Sly
The increasingly hostile divergence of views between Turkey and the United States over Syria is testing the durability of their 60-year alliance, to the point where some are starting to question whether the two countries still can be considered allies at all.
Turkey’s refusal to allow the United States to use its bases to launch attacks against the Islamic State, quarrels over how to manage the battle raging in the Syrian border town of Kobane and the harsh tone of the anti-American rhetoric used by top Turkish officials to denounce U.S. policy have served to illuminate the vast gulf that divides the two nations as they scramble to address the menace posed by the extremists.
Whether the Islamic State even is the chief threat confronting the region is disputed, with Washington and Ankara publicly airing their differences through a fog of sniping, insults and recrimination over who is to blame for the mess the Middle East has become.
At stake is a six-decade-old relationship forged during the Cold War and now endowed with a different but equally vital strategic dimension. Turkey is positioned on the front line of the war against the Islamic State, controlling a 780-mile border with Iraq and Syria. Without Turkey’s cooperation, no U.S. policy to bring stability to the region can succeed, analysts and officials on both sides say.
“If Turkey is not an ally, then we and Turkey are in trouble,” said Francis Ricciardone, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Turkey until the summer. “It is probably the most important ally.”
The airdrop by U.S. warplanes last week of weapons to a Kurdish group Turkey regards as a terrorist organization crystallized the apparent parting of ways. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has not disguised his anger at the way President Obama ordered the airdrop. The U.S. president informed him of the decision in a telephone call barely an hour after Erdogan had declared to journalists that Turkey would never allow such assistance to take place.
On a tour of the Baltic states last week, Erdogan blasted Obama at every stop. “Mr. Obama ordering three C-130s to airdrop weapons and supplies to Kobane right after our conversation cannot be approved of,” he said during a news conference in Latvia. “The U.S. did that despite Turkey,” he fumed on another leg of the journey.
U.S. officials have sought to reassure Turkey that the airdrop was a one-time action, and the two countries have agreed on a plan to reinforce the beleaguered Syrian Kurds with Iraqi peshmerga fighters, which Turkey does not object to, because it has friendly relations with Iraqi Kurds.
But the Kobane dispute masked more fundamental differences over a range of issues, some of which have been brewing for years and others that have been brought to light by the urgency of the U.S.-led air campaign, analysts say.
“The Syria crisis is exposing long-unspoken, unpleasant truths about the relationship that were put to one side,” said Bulent Aliriza, a Turkish analyst with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. “We have this kabuki dance where Washington and Ankara say they agree, but they don’t.”
The tensions are not unprecedented, nor are the doubts about an alliance born in a different era, when fears of Soviet expansionism brought Muslim Turkey under NATO’S umbrella and extended the Western bloc’s reach into Asia.
The United State imposed an arms embargo on Turkey after Turkish troops invaded Cyprus in 1974. In 2003, there was fury in Washington when Turkey’s parliament refused to allow American troops to use Turkish soil as a staging ground for the invasion of Iraq, triggering a deep chill that took years to overcome.
The 2003 rupture may, however, have foreshadowed the beginning of a more fundamental shift in the relationship, with Erdogan embarking on a decade of transformation in Turkey that has perhaps forever changed his country, analysts say. Turkey has grown and prospered under his rule, but it has also begun to tilt toward a more authoritarian, Islamist brand of politics that is increasingly at odds with the model of secularism and pluralism that the United States has held up as a key component of Turkey’s importance to the alliance.
In 2003, as now, Turkey made it plain it did not want to be used as a launching pad for attacks against fellow Muslims in the Middle East, a sentiment Erdogan has repeatedly expressed in his many recent comments critical of U.S. policy. He has accused the United States of being more interested in oil than in helping the people of the region and has made it clear that he does not regard the Islamic State as a greater threat than the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, the organization affiliated with the Kurdish Syrians the United States has been helping in Kobane.
“There are growing doubts over whether the U.S. and Turkey share the same priorities and even whether they share the same goals,” Aliriza said. “Even when it comes to defining the enemy — there is no common enemy.”
Turkish officials bristle at suggestions that Turkey is in any way sympathetic to the Islamic State. It is Turkey that has to live with the jihadist group on its borders, not the United States, and Turkey that is most at risk of being targeted by the Islamic State in retaliation for waging war against it, the officials say.
Turks also do not mask their irritation with what they regard as a shortsighted and potentially dangerous U.S. strategy that they believe will not work and could backfire. Turkey believes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is the root cause of the instability that gave rise to the Islamic State and that leaving him in place will serve only to prolong the war, a senior Turkish official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss policy on the record.
Turkey is hosting more than 1.5 million refugees, a huge social and financial burden that will continue to grow if the conflict in Syria is not resolved, the official said.
“They are across the Atlantic,” he said, referring to the United States. “We are a neighbor of Syria’s. We know that if Assad stays, the problem will continue for decades. The Americans have the luxury of cherry-picking the problems, but we need to see them as an entirety.”
Obama and other top U.S. officials have repeatedly said that Assad cannot be part of any long-term solution to the Syria problem. But, another Turkish official said, “saying it is one thing, and doing it is another.”
“Much, much more needs to be done,” the second official said, also speaking on the condition of anonymity. “To fix this region, we have to think big. We have to think long-term and have a holistic strategy underpinned by values that don’t change according to the season.”
U.S. officials acknowledge that Washington policymakers do not always sufficiently take into account the concerns of allies. They also point to areas where Turkey is expanding its cooperation, including restricting the flow of foreign fighters across its borders and identifying the networks in Turkey that support them.
“We’ve seen some steps recently where they are more engaged on both of those issues,” said a senior administration official in Washington, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive diplomacy. “We’re definitely encouraged there.”
And in some ways, the Syria crisis has brought Turkey and the United States closer after a year of building tensions, officials on both sides say. Obama and Erdogan had not spoken since January until they met in Wales in September to discuss the formation of the anti-Islamic State coalition. Lower-level officials have since been talking multiple times a day, Turkish and U.S. officials say. Vice President Biden has announced plans to visit Turkey in November in an effort to smooth over the ruckus over comments he made suggesting that Turkey is responsible for the rise of the Islamic State.
It is hard, however, to avoid the impression that Turkey and the United States are moving on separate tracks — “parallel tracks that don’t converge,” said Gokhan Bacik, a dean at Ipek University in Ankara.
“From now on, this is only a relationship of necessity,” he said. “There is nothing ideologically that the United States and Turkey share. Turkey has changed.”

Video - Christie to heckler: Sit down, shut up

Video - Modern Technology Helping Weather Predictions

Severe storms that cause heavy damage throughout the world are a reminder of how important it is to be able to predict the weather. A meteorological exhibition in Brussels earlier this month featured the latest technology to help improve out ability to forecast the weather and better prepare for its effects. VOA’s George Putic has more

Malala Donates $50,000 Toward Reconstruction of Gaza Schools

Eliana Dockterman
Donation will aid U.N. agency
Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teen activist who recently won the Nobel Peace Prize, received another honor Wednesday and said she is donating the $50,000 in prize money to a United Nations agency that is rebuilding schools in Gaza following the summer conflict with Israel.
“The needs are overwhelming — more than half of Gaza’s population is under 18 years of age,” Malala said while being honored with the World Children’s Prize in Stockholm, according to a statement released by the U.N. Reliefs and Works Agency. “They want and deserve quality education, hope and real opportunities to build a future.”
Malala, who at age 15 survived being shot by the Taliban, has amassed a global following for work in the fight for girls’ right to education. The 17-year-old is the first person to receive the Children’s Prize and the Nobel Peace Prize in the same year.

White House calls ‘chickenshit’ Netanyahu slur ‘inappropriate’

Administration official says PM and Obama have forged an effective partnership, despite recent anonymous attacks.
The White House denounced on Wednesday comments from an anonymous US official published the previous day calling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “chickenshit.”
“Certainly, that’s not the administration’s view, and we think such comments are inappropriate and counterproductive,” said National Security Council spokesman Alistair Baskey, according to The Hill. “Prime Minister Netanyahu and the president have a forged an effective partnership, and consult closely and frequently, including earlier this month when the president hosted the prime minister in the Oval Office.”
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that Secretary of State John Kerry would personally make it clear to Netanyahu that the comments do not reflect the view of the administration.
The comments were published in a story by Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic that portrayed the rift between the United States and Israel as a “full-blown crisis.” The report quoted one Obama administration official calling Netanyahu a “chickenshit” and “Asbergery,” and others saying they increasingly see the Israeli leader as acting out of a “near-pathological desire for career-preservation” and not much more.
Netanyahu said Wednesday in response to the report that he would not be deterred from “defending Israel” by personal attacks.
“I was personally attacked purely because I defend Israel, and despite all the attacks against me, I will continue to defend our country; I will continue to defend the citizens of Israel,” Netanyahu told the Knesset.
The prime minister added that he remained confident that the current disagreements between the US and Israel would not affect the two countries’ “deep connection.”
“I respect and appreciate the deep ties with the United States we’ve had since the establishment of the state,” he said. “We’ve had arguments before, and we’ll have them again, but this will not come at the expense of the deep connection between our peoples and our countries.”
Earlier in the day, Netanyahu’s fellow Likud party-members came to his defense.
“The unrestrained criticism against Israel and its leader quoted today from ‘officials’ in the White House crossed all lines,” Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said in his opening remarks to the parliament Wednesday. “You can have disagreements, but in diplomatic relations — certainly among close allies — it is appropriate to maintain a respectful dialogue.”
International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz charged that insulting the prime minister was tantamount to insulting the Israeli people.
“The prime minister of Israel is not a private [citizen] and he represents the position of the democratic and sovereign State of Israel and its constant fear for its existence and security,” Steinitz said in a statement. “Therefore offensive comments toward him are insults against the State of Israel and its citizens.”
Read more: White House calls 'chickenshit' Netanyahu slur 'inappropriate' | The Times of Israel Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook

Fascist Regimes in Manama, Riyadh resort to brutality for survival: Analyst

Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have intensified brutality to maintain dictatorship in the countries, says a political commentator.
Lawrence Davidson, a professor in West Chester University, said in an interview with Press TV that the Al Khalifa dynasty and the House of Saud have resorted to “brutal display of violence” in order to stifle democracy and opposition.
The analyst went on to say that both Manama and Riyadh were facing the same challenges and “fighting the same battles.”
Commenting on a recent ban by the Bahraini regime against the country’s prominent opposition party, al-Wefaq, ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections, the commentator said the move shows the authorities in Manama do not tolerate any sort of dissent or even the most “harmless” opposition group.
On Tuesday, the Manama administrative court imposed a three-month ban on al-Wefaq after it threatened to boycott the November 22 elections of the Council of Representatives.
Al-Wefaq branded the court ruling “irrational and irresponsible,” saying, “The tyrannical dictatorship in Bahrain is ruling with an iron fist and moving to destroy the political and social life by blocking the people out.”
The commentator concluded that the United States’ unconditional support for the Israeli regime and some Arab monarchies have encouraged them to engage in atrocities in the Middle East.
Since mid-February 2011, thousands of protesters have held numerous demonstrations in the streets of Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifa royal family to relinquish power.
In March 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were called in to assist the Bahraini regime in its crackdown on the peaceful protests.
Saudi Arabia has also witnessed demonstrations calling for an end to discrimination against the Shia population mainly in Eastern Province over the past few years.

Crimes Against Humanity - ISIL Claims Virgins Separated From Captured Women, Given As Award To Fighters

ISIL terrorist group revealed that when they seized the Yazidi region of Sinjar in northern Iraq in early August, ISIL terrorist group separated virgin girls from the rest of the captured women for the sole purpose of designating them to be given away as sex prizes to ISIL fighters.
An unnamed ISIL security official stationed in Raqqa highlighted the terrorist group’s sex slave practices and revealed that Yazidi virgins were filtered out from Yazidi married women and mothers so that they could be awarded to ISIL fighters who contributed on the front lines for the militant group.
Once the ISIL militant had picked out his virgin, the girl would be forced to accept the ISIL Ieology so that she could marry the militant, the ISIL official said. However, after the militant was done with his “wife” he could also divorce the girl so that he could “pass” the girl on to another ISIS fighter.
“After marrying her [and using her for sex], he might decide to divorce her and pass her onto another fighter,” the ISIS official said. The ISIL official also said that many of the girls that weren’t claimed by fighters in Iraq were brought to Raqqa to be given as gifts to ISIS leaders there. However, ISIS leaders in Raqqa wanted to prevent the public and media from finding out about the militant group’s practices of awarding and selling sex slaves. The leaders were not pleased that the girls were brought to Raqqa and ordered their sex slaves to be kept in remote towns in the Syrian countryside.
“The inner circle of leaders and security officials, and were careful that this issue should not be known as much as possible to the civilians,” the report stated.

Music Video - Arabic music

US will continue tracking China, Russia and Iran from Afghanistan

By: Mirwais Jalalzai
The remaining US forces in Afghanistan will follow and track the activities of neighbor countries of Afghanistan after 2014, Khalil Noori the president of a think tank focused on nonmilitary solutions for Afghanistan told Russian media. Noori further added that the United States will keep a small part of its forces in Afghanistan to have an opportunity to keep an eye on Russia, Iran, Pakistan and China.
According to the US department of state, US force will end their combat operation by the end of 2014 but a small number of US forces will remain in the country to train and support the Afghan national forces.
“Afghanistan used to be a ‘buffer state’ and will now be transformed into an “observation tower.” It is in a perfect strategic location for the United States to monitor nuclear Iran, nuclear Pakistan, Russia and China,” Khalil Nouri, President of the New World Strategies Coalition Inc., said on Thursday.
According to Noori, the United States will leave some forces for the “long haul” despite the plans to extract all troops from Afghanistan, amid fears that the total pullout leaves a security vacuum.
“Afghan security forces are still weak and may not be able to defend against the [Taliban] insurgency if all foreign troops leave prematurely,” he said.
Around 10,000 US soldiers will remain in Afghanistan for long term according to BSA which was signed by national security adviser of Afghanistan and approved by the afghan president Ashraf Ghani.
This comes as the US President Barack Obama announced back in May that the US forces would be completely withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2016, putting an end to 13-year war aimed at dismantling the al Qaeda terrorist network. Obama had said a residual force of 9,800 would assist Afghan security forces at the beginning of 2015.

Afghanistan: Warlords and Democracy

By Sohrab Rahmaty
Some of Afghanistan’s warlords have decided to buy into the political process.
Last month marked the first ever peaceful transition of political power in Afghanistan’s long history. Ashraf Ghani, along with his two vice-presidents, was officially inaugurated in a ceremony in Kabul that was attended by dignitaries and officials from around the world. This was a momentous occasion for both the people of Afghanistan and the Western world, which has invested so much blood and treasure in creating a democracy in this country. Afghanistan has experienced its share of violent conflict and disorder, causing it to remain among the world’s poorest and most underdeveloped countries. However, with all its problems and anticipated challenges ahead, the country has a chance at a new beginning, with a new president. But what tends to get overlooked in all this is the role of strongmen – often referred to as warlords – in the democratization of the state.
The Afghan strongmen – much maligned and not fully understood – have received the most negative attention when it comes to an analysis of Afghan politics. Although war and conflict breed tragedies and destruction, in the Afghan context the ”warlord” has historically stood to replace missing government functions and provide services – most importantly security. During Afghanistan’s decades of conflict, it has been ”major warlords,“ better described as regional ethnic or political leaders, who protected and secured large swaths of the country from other regional leaders, or from the brutal Taliban regime and its terrorist affiliates.
All of Afghanistan’s major warlords have come from military backgrounds and ruled through ethnic, linguistic or regional cleavages. Afghanistan has historically been governed at the local level with strong connections to tradition social structures. The period after 2001 created a state that was extremely centralized, where power and authority ran through Kabul. However, as President Hamid Karzai and the international community quickly realized, the warlords served a purpose, and were a much needed ally in the post-conflict period as they provided both political and military stability in varying capacities. This center-periphery relationship has been a central factor in the longevity and influence of strongmen and warlords.
The two leading candidates in the 2014 presidential election had as running mates influential strongmen who were essential to both candidates’ tickets. Ghani’s inauguration also included two vice-presidents, General Abdul Rashid Dostum and Sarwar Danish. Danish is an academic from the ethnic Hazara community, while Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek, is a military figure with arguably the longest presence in Afghan politics. He is also the figure who has received the most attention with respect to “warlordism” in Afghanistan. However, Dostum how shown that he is just as able a politician as he was a military figure.
Warlords would never be expected to be democrats, but some have shown that they are able to participate without violence in democracy – ultimately strengthening the state’s democratic process. It is undeniable that such figures were central not only to generating millions of votes, but were also responsible for ensuring the relatively peaceful nature of the political process.
Ghani has proven to be an impressive thinker with great attention to detail and the ability to organize difficult situations. However, the success of Ghani and his team had as much to do with his technical abilities and rational-legal authority as it did with the role of his first vice-president, Dostum, who was able to fill the traditional leadership role as described by sociologist Max Weber.
It was therefore this combination of the rational-legal and traditional “warlord” authority that allowed Ghani to be successful, ultimately resulting in his presidency. It is hard to deny that the president would not have been elected without the support of Dostum and the political party of Junbish with which he is associated. Junbish is considered the most organized and effective of Afghanistan’s political parties, and it brought political experience and valuable networks to Ghani’s campaign efforts. Dostum was exceptionally successful in consolidating voters from the northern provinces, a deciding factor in Ghani’s election. In addition, the largest campaign rallies, which saw tens of thousands of Afghans peacefully gather to hear the president and his team, were not in the eastern or southern regions from where his support base stems, but in the provinces where Dostum has the greatest support.
It should also be noted that after the conflict period the major regional leaders such as Dostum, Mohammad Mohaqiq, and others organized themselves politically, while moving away from armed politics and accepting democracy as the system of governance. Since such figures still maintained a monopoly over violence in their respective territories, they seemed uninterested in the violence of the past and were more interested in democratic politicking as a path to legitimacy. Such actions included strengthening their political parties, organizing their constituents, developing policies and presenting reformed ideas on many issues. This interaction between “warlord politics” and democracy is what I will call the Warlord-Democracy Nexus — a transition of warlords from fighters to politicians. Moreover, the recent allegations of fraud were not directed at Afghan strongmen: Rather, it was the political elites on both sides, as well as former government officials, who were accused. This fact goes against the supposed conventional wisdom regarding warlords, which views such strongmen as being able to only rule through coercion, violence and corruption. This may be the case for some Afghan strongmen, but as Columbia University political science professor Dipali Mukhopadhyay reminds us, “not all warlords are created equal.”
The involvement of strongmen and warlords is of course not the ideal situation for post-conflict state building and democratization; however, such figures have shown to be effective partners in this process. Warlords were able to guarantee representation for their communities, instilling a level of political participation in which warlords became legitimate leaders for many before the state.
As Afghanistan enters a new era of politics with its first peaceful transition of power, it is important to remember the transition many strongmen have also undertaken to consolidate the country’s democracy. Dostum and others have shown they are survivors in the complex environment of Afghan politics. As much as some would have preferred not to have seen strongmen in such positions, the realities of post-conflict state building argue that such figures cannot be underestimated, especially when they have the support of millions of Afghans. The most peaceful and effective process would be to encourage the participation of strongmen through a political process where armed politics is outlawed. This would allow for the moderation of “warlord politics,” which would create an atmosphere of political competition that would replace armed competition. Such political competition would not be possible without the involvement of powerful former armed actors.
As Ghani assumes the mantle at this historic time for Afghan democracy, the role of some strongmen in this process should not be overlooked or minimized. Focusing on their positive capacities will help move the country forward, and questioning their negative actions will help keep their power in check. The warlord-democracy nexus was summarized by Ghani in an April 3 interview with Al Jazeera. In reference to Dostum, Ghani stated,
“When charismatic leaders emerge from history, they become more than the embodiment of their individual beings. People literally have walked two days to touch him. One has to have respect and harness that energy that is now focused on the individual to a collective process of building institutions. We are two strong men, we can work together.”
The notion of harnessing both the energy and influence of strongmen in post-conflict states is understood as being essential to both peace and stability. The democratization of Afghanistan has been facilitated by certain strongmen who have decided to participate democratically in state building. The Afghan experience has shown that strongmen are capable of embracing democracy and can be relatively effective at providing the political and military stability necessary for moving the political process forward from warfare to compromise.

Pakistan: Decrease in terrorism result of Operation Zarb-e-Azb: DG ISPR

Director General Inter Services Public Relations (DG ISPR), Major General Asim Salim Bajwa said on Wednesday that Operation Zarb-e-Azb was proceeding successfully and as a result terrorism had decreased in Pakistan.
Briefing the media here on Wednesday, Major General Bajwa said areas cleared of terrorists were being handed over to the administration while no timeframe could be given for the completion of Operation Zarb-e-Azb.
The DG ISPR told media that Khyber-I Operation had been launched against terrorists who had fled to the Khyber Agency. He added that over 40 terrorists had been killed during the operation in Khyber Agency while over 100 terrorists had laid down their arms. The DG ISPR further said the operation would continue to target terrorist hideouts.
132 tonnes of explosives were recovered during the operation in North Waziristan which is being disabled. Major General Bajwa said the area beyond Dattakhel was being cleared and terrorist hideouts were being targeted on the basis of intelligence reports.
The DG ISPR appealed to people to identify suspects and emphasised that Pakistan’s soil will not be allowed to be used for terrorism.
Major General Bajwa told reporters that Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was operating from Afghanistan stating that Fazullah and other groups had formed camps in Nuristan and Kunar.
According to DG ISPR, provinces had sought security from the army during Muharram. “The army will be ready to assist where the need arises.”

Bangladesh : Jamaat-e-Islami war crimes - Death for Nizami

The Daily Star
A special tribunal in Dhaka today handed death penalty to Jamaat-e-Islami chief Motiur Rahman Nizami of four charges of war crimes, which include the killings of intellectuals at the fag end of the 1971 Liberation War.
The 71-year-old has also been awarded life sentence in four other charges as the International Crimes Tribunal-1 found him guilty in total eight out of 16 charges levelled against him in a historic trial that began almost 40 years after Bangladesh's war of independence.
The court said Nizami, though claimed to be an Islamic scholar, misinterpreted Quran to encourage his followers to conduct a massive genocide, advocate Haidar Ali, a member of the prosecution told journalists after the verdict.
Meantime, the defence termed the verdict "not based on evidence", and said it would appeal against the verdict with the Supreme Court.
"Whatever is being told against me is false," defence counsel Tajul Islam quoted the convict as saying in his reaction after the verdict.
Hailing the verdict, different social-cultural organisations including Gonojagoron Mancha brought out processions in the capital, Dhaka.
Nizami, Jamaat ameer since November 2000, has already been given death penalty in the sensational 10-truck arms haul case in January this year.
President of the then Jamaat student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha that turned into Pakistan army's infamous auxiliary force Al-Badr during the Liberation War, was arrested on June 29, 2010, in a criminal case and later shown arrest in war crimes cases.
With Nizami, six top Jamaat leaders have already been punished for their 1971 crimes. Two other top leaders are now being tried in war crimes tribunals the Awami League-led government formed in 2010 to bring the perpetrators of 1971 to book.
Amid tightened security in and around the court premises, law enforcers took Nizami to ICT-1 premises around 9:20am.
Transport movement was halted from Doel Chattar to High Court Mazar area since the morning in a move to ward off any attempt to create violence by Jamaat, which fought tooth and nail against the birth of Bangladesh in 1971, and his associate bodies.
Five minutes after Nizami was produced before the tribunal, the judges took to the dais at 11:05am.
M Enayetur Rahim, chairman of the three-member judges' panel of the International Crimes Tribunal-1, delivered an introductory speech for five minutes on why the judgement was delayed.
He cited resignation of the tribunal chairman and the new chairman's going into retirement as key reasons for the delay in the much-awaited trial.
Later, Justice Anwarul Haque explained the 16 charges levelled against Nizami.
After he completed, the other judge of the panel, Justice Jahangir Hossain, started reading out summary of the 204-page verdict.
Justice Enayetur Rahim pronounced the order.
Earlier yesterday, Nizami was shifted from Kashimpur jail to Dhaka Central Jail around 8:00pm. There, jail doctors conducted a health check-up and found him sound, Farman Ali, senior jail super of Dhaka jail, told The Daily Star last night.
Longest of war trial
The ICT-1 framed 16 charges against Nizami on May 28, 2012. According to the charges, Nizami had conspired with the Pakistani army, planned and incited crimes; was complicit in murders, rapes, looting and destruction of property; and was responsible for commissioning of internationally recognised wartime crimes in 1971.
But, it took around one and a half years for the completion of the trial, thanks to the lack of preparation of the prosecution and a range of dilatory tactics of the defence.
The tribunal first kept the case awaiting verdict on November 13 last year. But the proceeding faced further delay when tribunal's chairman Justice ATM Fazle Kabir went on retirement without delivering the judgment. His successor reheard the closing arguments and kept the verdict waiting again on March 24.
The tribunal could not deliver verdict on June 24 due to Nizami's sudden "illness" forcing the court to keep it waiting again.
The Jamaat chief played a key role in forming the four-party alliance ahead of the 2001 election and led his party to taste state power along with their key ally the BNP.
He and Jamaat's second man, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, who was convicted in war crimes last year, became members of Khaleda Zia's cabinet, amid protests from the country's pro-liberation minds.

Report Says Pakistan's Women Still Face Worst Inequality In World

A global report by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum shows that Pakistani women continue to face the world's worst inequality for access to health care, education, and employment.
The annual Gender Gap Index, released on October 28, ranked Pakistan 141 out of 142 countries in the survey.
It is the third consecutive year that Pakistan has received the second to last ranking.
The report says the only country where women face worse inequality issues than Pakistan is Yemen.
Iran was ranked 137th out of 142 countries. Tajikistan was 102nd, Azerbaijan 94th, Georgia 85th, Russia 75th, Romania 72nd, Macedonia 70th, Kyrgyzstan 67th, Ukraine 56th, Serbia 54th, Kazakhstan 43rd, Belarus 32nd, and Moldova 25th. Data was not available on Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia- Herzegovina, Kosovo, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
Nordic nations led the world again in promoting equality of the sexes, with Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark in the top five places. The United States was ranked 20th.

Pakistan experts expect more defections to the Islamic State

BY TOM HUSSEIN @tomthehack
Experts in Pakistan’s insurgency say they expect hundreds of radical Islamists to join the Islamic State as a result of the Pakistani military’s campaign in the country’s North Waziristan region.
As the military takes control of what had been insurgent-dominated areas of North Waziristan, the militants who’d thrived in that area are searching for a new group with which to affiliate. Many are expected to choose the Islamic State, driven in part by a reluctance to accept al Qaida’s leader, Ayman al Zawahiri.
Hard-line militants, in particular, are angry at the Egyptian cleric’s preoccupation with consolidating his power since he succeeded Osama bin Laden in May 2011, and they blame his political ambitions for a significant drop since then in terrorist attacks mounted by the group in Pakistan and, from there, against targets overseas.
They view the Islamic State, with its deep pockets and its string of military victories, as a chance to have their jihadist bona fides restored after their recent losses to the Pakistani military. It might give them access to money and networks they need to survive.
Still, few think the Pakistanis will relocate to Syria and Iraq to fight with the Islamic State there. Instead, they’re hoping the Islamic State will sponsor a sustained campaign of revenge attacks against the Pakistani military.
The experts on Pakistan’s insurgency who spoke to McClatchy included researchers and militants. The researchers spoke only on the condition of anonymity, citing a blanket ban imposed by the Pakistani military on independent news coverage of the air and land operations in the North Waziristan tribal area. The militants asked not to be named because disclosure of their identities would make them liable to arrest by the Pakistani authorities and reprisals from other militants. 
Many militant groups in Pakistan’s tribal areas have long-standing relations with militant commanders in Iraq and Syria who’ve joined the Islamic State, having previously fought with Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the Jordanian who founded al Qaida in Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. 
A former Zarqawi associate, Abu al Huda al Sudani, in April became the first Afghanistan-based Arab militant to switch allegiance to the Islamic State from al Qaida, accusing Zawahiri of “deviating” from its mission – a complaint that echoes those expressed privately by Pakistan-based militants who spoke to McClatchy.
There have been two mass defections so far this month. The first was announced Oct. 6 by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a battalion of several hundred militants notorious for their involvement in high-profile attacks on Pakistani military installations. The defection followed reports that 17 Uzbek militants had been killed in late September in Syria during an international-coalition air raid against the Islamic State. It’s likely the militants were part of a small group that had been sent there by the Uzbek group’s chief, Usman Ghazi, to curry favor with his new patrons.
Bases for the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and other, smaller Central Asian militant factions in North Waziristan were targeted at the outset of the Pakistan military offensive there in June. The bases reportedly were destroyed by airstrikes and artillery, and many of the groups’ key commanders were killed. That left the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan’s militants with nowhere to go, and the researchers and militants think the other Central Asian factions will follow the group into alliances with the Islamic State.
Former Zarqawi associate Sudani was instrumental in the second mass defection, that of six faction leaders of the Pakistani Taliban, led by their former spokesman, Sheikh Maqbool, according to the audio-recording account of events they circulated last week in Pakistan. They’d approached Sudani and asked him to put them in contact with the Islamic State’s leadership. He arranged an encrypted phone call with a Syria-based representative of the group, during which the militants became the first Pakistanis to swear an oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph of the Islamic State.
Under Islamic custom, a Muslim may seek to renew his faith by swearing an oath of allegiance to a single religious guide. All Afghan and Pakistani Taliban militants already have pledged their allegiance to Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar in his capacity as “leader of the faithful,” the title he adopted when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1997 to 2001.
Maqbool was vilified for his betrayal in a statement issued Oct. 20 by the Taliban Movement of Pakistan, or TTP. He was officially expelled, but the TTP made no mention of the five other regional faction leaders who’d also announced they’d joined the Islamic State.
Those five other defections, however, have created a buzz of expectancy within the militant community in Pakistan and Afghanistan that small groups displaced from their havens in North Waziristan will also align with the Islamic State.
Read more here:

Seven new cases put Pakistan’s polio total at 227

Seven new polio cases were reported in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on Tuesday, taking the country’s total number of cases to 227 in 2014.
The National Institute of Health in Islamabad confirmed that seven infants were diagnosed with wild type-1 polio.
Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only three countries where polio, which can cause paralysis and death, remains endemic.
Earlier, Fahimullah from Peshawar and Saima from Khyber Agency were identified as the latest victims of the virus. Both of them are only 10 months old.
Later in the day, five more cases surfaced bringing the total number of victims in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to 46 and 148 in Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
Twenty three polio cases have been reported in Sindh so far this year, three in Punjab and seven in Balochistan.

Pakistan - Adiala jail - Qadri’s little school of ignorance and violence - Blaspheming Against Humanity

His lust for blood remains unsatiated. He is locked up but not shut out. Before, he pulled the trigger on an unsuspecting man who had called for reform in Pakistan’s blasphemy laws which enable exploitation and blatant victimisation of minorities and Muslims. Now, having his gun taken away from him and confined to a life inside prison, Mumtaz Qadri is selling poison to those around him, including policemen, encouraging them to kill blasphemy accused and convicts to please God. An internal inquiry report reveals that Muhammad Yousaf, a prison guard who shot Muhammad Asghar – a 70 year old British national and a paranoid schizophrenic sentenced to death on blasphemy charges – had spent two weeks guarding Qadri, who incited him to commit murder. The report further reveals that two other policemen were under Qadri’s influence and willing to hunt down prisoners accused or sentenced over blasphemy charges.
Qadri is not living the life of a convicted murderer. The prison is his safe abode, where he enjoys a rather special status, revered by fellow prisoners and the staff, who look towards him for religious guidance. Who is responsible for this serious security lapse, allowing Adiala jail to become Qadri’s little school of ignorance and violence? There are reports that Qadri has now taken his student Muhammad Yousaf into ‘protection’. Reports suggest that local clerics and seminary students provide Qadri with “men” to make it possible. Why is a convicted murderer being allowed to wield influence, wherein he is not only able to incite murder but also offer protection to those who obey? More importantly, who is giving him permission? Who is looking the other way? Pakistan’s prisons are no less chaotic and mismanaged than the situation outside them. They remain obscure, wanting for attention and reform, as matters go from bad to worse.
Perhaps the country’s courts, police, Parliament and the public at large should take responsibility for crimes committed against individuals in blasphemy cases. Judges who send both sane and mentally challenged individuals to jails despite insufficient evidence, police officials who negotiate with and protect zealots instead of taking them to task, parliamentarians whose lips remain sealed as tragedies unfold and the people who struggle to express outrage over crimes committed in the name of religion – everyone is responsible and no one is willing to acknowledge it. How we deal with such issues as a country is utterly disgraceful. And when someone actually dares to take a stand, like Salman Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti and Rashid Rehman – we shoot them dead and become heroes, aspiring more evil and carnage. The country’s elected Prime Minister will not side with the fallen nor will those who wish to oust him. Changing faces, it would appear, will not change the fate of victims.

Pakistan : PTI’s resignations

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) has finally decided to quit the National Assembly. The resignations of its 25 MNAs were lying with the Speaker for the last two months almost and in spite of his repeated requests to the PTI leadership to follow parliamentary rules, none of the resigning legislators felt the need to tender their resignations singly. Now, after a final notification from the Speaker, they will go en masse to the National Assembly on October 29 to do the needful. The government did not want to accept the resignations and had been waiting for some wisdom to dawn on the PTI leadership. But months of patient waiting has done nothing except increase Imran’s obduracy in not settling for anything short of the prime minister’s resignation. PTI will resign from the Punjab and Sindh Assemblies as well, and in consistent vein will not contest any by-elections. However, the party has decided to retain its government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), because it is the only province, according to the PTI, where rigging has not been found. This politics of expediency rather than principle is more staggering than the ‘bogus’ parliament Imran wants to relieve himself from. For the next four years, the party will sit outside parliament and still play the role of an opposition. After Muharram 10, the PTI will conduct two rallies every week in different cities. How long this process will continue, we do not know.
The PTI’s departure from parliamentary politics to the politics of agitation is a unique example that might even fail to set any precedent except becoming an addition to the political baggage the country is straddled with already. Pakistan’s history of parliamentary government has been a history of expedient politicians who would dispose of the system if need be to bring themselves to power. Every dictator had come and ruled with the support of some politicians. After Musharraf’s coup and with the signing of the Charter of Democracy, followed by the PPP’s policy of reconciliation after the 2008 elections and PML-N’s restrained opposition, democracy was strengthened by restoring parliament to its rightful status as the central institution. Whatever the performance of the previous government, its efforts at bringing power back to parliament and making it a true representative of the people cannot be discounted.
The 18th Amendment strengthened the federation and felicitated participatory democracy. The so-called attempt by the third force to cause the political process to flounder was pre-empted by the general agreement among the political parties to stay united and for the first time in the history of Pakistan a smooth democratic transition from one government to another was made possible. The country has come a long way and Imran Khan is hell-bent to wash away all this good only to come to power, because he thinks only he can take this country out of its problems. He could be right, if we give him the benefit of the doubt, but his insistence to wrap up the system prematurely for a short cut to power reflects his impatience with the parliamentary system that requires him to wait for five years to seek a fresh mandate. This is hardly an effort towards a Naya (new) Pakistan. Other than adding more issues to the ever increasing list of problems, Imran’s agitation will serve no purpose. If he is concerned about Pakistan, he should go back to parliament and conduct politics through the mandate given to him by his supporters in the 2013 elections. By boycotting parliament and keeping himself out of the system, Imran is deceiving the very people who see him as their saviour. Already Pakistan Awami Tehreek and Pakistan Muslim League-Q have announced to participate in the by-elections. Who will raise the voice of PTI’s supporters in parliament? Will the PTI be able to influence parliamentary decisions having far-reaching effects on its constituents? What about the elections reform committee and PTI’s eagerness to influence it? Those in parliament will have a greater say and power to affect the system than the PTI. Imran should understand that parliament and not street agitation is the unmistakable path to a better Pakistan.

Pakistan : Good words for Malala stuck in KP Assembly secretariat

A resolution for Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai has got stuck in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly secretariat as Jamaat-i-Islami, a partner of the Pakistan Tehreek-i- Insaf-led ruling coalition in the province, has made its inclusion in the house’s agenda conditional on the tabling of a similar resolution for scientist Dr Aafia Siddiqui imprisoned in the US over links to terrorists.
Law and parliamentary affairs minister Imtiaz Shahid Qureshi told Dawn that PTI would support its coalition partner on the matter.
He expressed ignorance about keeping the resolution pending in the assembly secretariat.
The minister said some lawmakers had reservations about the resolution and was not sure if the Awami National Party would gather support of the opposition parties in favour of its pro-Malala move.
Notably PTI chairman Imran Khan had congratulated Malala on winning Nobel Peace Prize. However, the PTI-led provincial government did not issue any statement to praise the teenage activist for girls’ education.
ANP MPA Syed Jafar Shah had submitted the resolution to the assembly secretariat on October 20, which has so far not been brought on the house’s agenda.
Jafar Shah told reporters that he had requested Speaker Asad Qaisar to put the resolution on the agenda but the latter showed reluctance.
“It may create problems for us,” Jafar Shah quoted Speaker Asad Qaisar as saying during a meeting.
He said the Senate, National Assembly and Punjab and Sindh assemblies had passed resolutions to congratulate Malala Yousafzai on receiving Nobel Peace Prize.
The MPA said Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had announced to establish a university in the name of Malala. He said the young activist belonged to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and therefore, the provincial assembly should take the lead.
“I don’t know why the government is so scared about the resolution,” he said, adding that he had suggested in his resolution that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government should set up university in the name of the Nobel laureate.
When the house began proceedings on Tuesday, Pakistan People’s Party MPA Nighat Orakzai through a point of order drew Speaker Asad Qaisar’s attention towards the resolution.
She said not only Malala Yousafzai was a national hero but she was an international icon as well.
Orakzai said Malala’s efforts for the promotion of education had been recognised around the world and that she was given the Nobel Peace Prize and other international awards in recognition of her courage and contributions for the promotion of education.
“This is very unfortunate that a resolution submitted by a member of the opposition has been intentionally blocked,” she said, asking the chair to bring the resolution for Malala on the house’s agenda.
The MPA said the treasury and opposition should unanimously pass resolution.
Lawmaker of Jamaat-i-Islami Mohammad Ali Khan said Dr Aafia Siddiqui was the daughter of the nation and that he had great contributions for Islam. He said the house should pass a joint resolution for Dr Aafia and Malala.
Speaker Asad Qaisar remained silent on the point of order raised by Nighat Orakzai and moved to the agenda.
Insiders said Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, which had been opposing Nobel Peace Prize for Malala, was also not in favour of the resolution.
A JUI-F MPA told Dawn in the assembly’s lobby that his party might not support the resolution.
“I have informed my friends (ANP lawmakers) that he will not support the resolution,” he said, adding everybody knew the motive behind the award of Nobel Peace Prize to Malala.
In January this year, the provincial government had stopped a civil society organisation from organising a ceremony at the University of Peshawar to launch the book of the Nobel laureate, I am Malala.
Similarly, the banned militant outfit, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, had warned leading booksellers against selling the book.
Also, the house admitted an adjournment motion about the prevailing law and order situation in the province for detailed discussion.
JUI-F member Mufti Syed Janan, who moved the motion, portrayed the worst scenario in the province.
He said 44 policemen and other officials were killed in Peshawar in 2013 and the number had reached 138 in the current year.
The MPA said the nighttime flight operations at the Bacha Khan International Airport had been suspended due to the recent firing incident. He said the government had failed to provide protection to citizens and that the government’s writ had been confined to the Civil Secretariat and Police Lines.
Later, the Delimitation of Local Councils Ordinance, 2014 and Local Government (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 2014 were tabled in the house.
The assembly passed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Civil Servants Retirement Benefits and Death Compensation Bill, 2014 after incorporating several amendments of the opposition in it.

Books - Malala: The girl who stood up for education and changed the world by Malala Yousafzai - review

'In light of her attainment of the Nobel Peace Prize this book is more relevant than ever. Malala tells a story that demands to be heard!'
She fought with words when they fought with guns.
She spoke for education when they spread ignorance.
She stared death in the face and walked away.
She changed the world...
At the age of just 15 Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban – she survived! Now she is a famous political activist, continuing her campaign for education, equality and peace for every child, everywhere. In light of her attainment of the Nobel Peace Prize this book is more relevant than ever. Malala tells a story that demands to be heard!
Written as an autobiography Malala talks of her life as an early child, the Taliban occupation and being shot, all the way through to her 16th Birthday when she addressed the UN assembly. We are carried through her love for Ugly Betty, Twilight and gossiping with friends, showing in many ways Malala is simply an ordinary girl. Yet, thrown into extraordinary circumstances she had the bravery to continue to speak out and campaign for education and equality, making her a truly inspirational person.
Although I would not recommend this book as a sequel to Yousafzai's first autobiography I am Malala, it stands alone as a brilliant story set to inspire the youth of today. The way in which my world differs from Malala's home in the Swat Valley is part of what makes her so inspirational. We all have the right to education, to equality and the right to speak out for what we believe in; fortunately, thanks to people such as Malala these human rights may one day become realities.
A true story of love, loss and tremendous courage, showing how a single voice can change the world.

Malala wins Children’s Nobel Prize

Teen education advocate Malala Yousafzai was on Tuesday named winner of the World’s Children’s Prize, sometimes called the Children’s Nobel Prize.
Malala, 17, was selected to win the human rights award by a vote taken among close to 2 million school children across the world, organisers said.
“This helps me to continue my campaign for the education of girls and every child,” Malala, who was shot in the head by Taliban militants in 2012 for her views, said in a videotaped statement.
Queen Silvia of Sweden, a patron of the award, was to present the award on Wednesday.
As winner, Malala receives $50,000, while honorary award winners John Wood of the United States and Indira Ranamagar of Nepal get $25 000 each.
The trio were selected by a children’s jury from 14 countries.
Wood is founder of the voluntary organisation Room to Read, which for the past 15 years has provided books and schools to almost 10 million children.
Ranamagar has worked to ensure that children of prisoners receive an education and do not to have to live in prison.
Malala earlier this month was named co-winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.

Bangladesh - WAR CRIMES TRIAL - Nizami at tribunal
Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Motiur Rahman Nizami has been taken to the tribunal, which is set to deliver the long-awaited verdict in the war crimes cases against him today, more than four months after the deferment of the judgment in June.
Security has been beefed up in and around the court premises to ward off violence centring the pronouncement of the verdict. Members of law enforcing agencies including police and Rapid Action Battalion have taken position at all the entries of the tribunal and on the rooftop of the adjacent buildings.
Transport movement remains halted from Doel Chattar to High Court Mazar since morning ahead of the verdict.
To ward off violence centring the pronouncement of the verdict, authorities yesterday deployed paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) at different parts of the country including the capital.
Earlier, Nizami entered the court premises around 9:20am. He is expected to be produced before the court around 10:30am.
The 71-year-old is facing 16 war crimes charges, including his role in eliminating the Bangalee intelligentsia just before Bangladesh's victory on December 16 in the 1971 Liberation War.
After a 22-month trial proceedings, the International Crimes Tribunal-1 led by its Chairman Justice M Enayetur Rahim yesterday fixed today to pronounce the verdict.
The judgment is going to be delivered nearly a year after the completion of the trial proceedings, which went through different hurdles, including tribunal reconstitution, rehearing of closing arguments and deferment of the verdict.
Nizami, Jamaat Ameer since November 2000, was shifted from Kashimpur jail to Dhaka Central Jail around 8:00pm yesterday. There, jail doctors conducted a health check-up and found him sound, Farman Ali, senior jail super of Dhaka jail, told The Daily Star last night.
Nizami, president of the then Jamaat-e-Islami student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha that turned into Pakistan army's auxiliary force Al-Badr during the Liberation War, was arrested on June 29, 2010, in a criminal case and later shown arrest in war crimes cases.
The ICT-1 framed 16 charges against Nizami on May 28, 2012. According to the charges, Nizami had conspired with the Pakistani army, planned and incited crimes; was complicit in murders, rapes, looting and destruction of property; and was responsible for commissioning of internationally recognised wartime crimes in 1971.
But, it took around one and a half years for the completion of the trial, thanks to the lack of preparation of the prosecution and a range of dilatory tactics of the defence.
The tribunal first kept the case awaiting verdict on November 13 last year. But the proceeding faced further delay when tribunal's chairman Justice ATM Fazle Kabir went on retirement without delivering the judgment. His successor reheard the closing arguments and kept the verdict waiting again on March 24.
The tribunal could not deliver verdict on June 24 due to Nizami's sudden “illness” forcing the court to keep it waiting again.
However, Nizami has already been given death penalty in the sensational 10-truck arms haul case in January this year.
The Jamaat chief played a key role in forming the four-party alliance ahead of the 2001 election and led his party, which fought tooth and nail against the birth of Bangladesh, to taste state power along with their key ally the BNP.
He and Jamaat's second man Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, who was convicted in war crimes last year, became members of Khaleda Zia's cabinet, amid protests from the country's pro-liberation minds.
Five top Jamaat leaders have already been punished for their 1971 crimes and three other top leaders are being tried in two war crimes tribunals.

India exposes suspected plot to assassinate Bangladeshi PM

India s top counter-terrorism agency has uncovered a suspected plot by a banned militant group to assassinate the prime minister of Bangladesh and carry out a coup, three senior Indian security officials told Reuters on Tuesday.
India will hand over a dossier to Bangladesh with details of the plan by members of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, which has carried out scores of attacks in India s eastern neighbor, the government and police officials said.
Bangladesh did not comment directly on the assertions that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had been the target of a plot, but said it had tightened security on the border with India.
The alleged conspiracy was discovered after two members of the group were killed in an explosion while building homemade bombs at a house in West Bengal in eastern India earlier this month. Indian police say the militants were Bangladeshis and were using India as a safe haven to plan the attacks.
The strategy was to hit the political leaders of the country and demolish the democratic infrastructure of Bangladesh, said a senior Indian Home (interior) Ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
This was all being planned on Indian soil and we could have been blamed if there was an attack.