Sunday, November 2, 2014

Video shows ISIL terrorists, Turkish soldiers chatting

A newly released video shows Turkish border forces chatting with the ISIL Takfiri militants.
The amateur footage, which was released on YouTube on Tuesday, is said to have been filmed in the Zarova Hill near the Syria-Turkey border.
The video has once again raised questions over Turkey’s controversial stance towards the ISIL terrorist group. Ankara has been severely criticized in recent weeks for blocking any delivery of military, medical or humanitarian assistance into Kobani, where the Takfiri terrorists are feared to be aiming at massive bloodletting.
Analysts say Ankara, having already won the US green light, plans to let the terrorists seize the Kurdish town of Kobani.
Ankara says it fears that the Syrian border city of Kobani might be taken over by Syrian Kurds allied to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group that has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region in southeastern Turkey since the 1980s.
However, Turkey unexpectedly announced last week that it would allow the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga to enter Kobani through the Turkish border.
Kobani and its surroundings have been under attack since mid-September, with the ISIL militants capturing dozens of nearby Kurdish villages. More than 800 people have been killed on both sides during the battle for the city.
According to reports, the intense fighting for the strategic town has also forced over 200,000 people to take refuge in neighboring Turkey.

Turkish Intel in Contact with ISIL

“Ankara has complete information about the terrorist groups, including ISIL,” Sheikh Hassoun said on Friday.
He noted that the Turkish intelligence is also well aware of the whereabouts of all the foreign citizens abducted by ISIL.
The Syrian grand mufti pointed to the abduction and execution of the Russian citizen Sergei Gorbunov, and said, “The Syrian government has nothing to do with it. Russia could directly ask Turkey as the Turkish intelligence holds information in this regard.”
He reiterated that the Turkish government is in touch with the ISIL and other militant groups, and thus they could figure it out. The grand mufti noted that the executions of the US citizens by the ISIL were carried out with Ankara’s knowledge.
On Sunday, US media reported that Russian engineer Sergei Gorbunov had been executed by the ISIL in spring. The last available video of him was dated October 2013, when an appeal for his freedom was recorded by the ISIL fighters who captured him.
The ISIL Takfiri terrorists currently control parts of Syria and Iraq. They have threatened all communities, including Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, Christians, Ezadi Kurds and others, as they continue their atrocities in Iraq.

Why is there such an explosion of violence across the Middle East? Here's an alternative view...

Robert Fisk
What on earth has descended upon the Middle East?
Why such an epic explosion of violence? It feels strange to ask these questions of Dr Bouthaina Shaaban, one of President Bashar al-Assad’s close advisers and former translator to his father, Hafez. Her office is spotless, flowers on the table, her female secretary preparing a morning round-up of the world’s press on the Middle East, the coffee hot and sweet. At one point, when she spoke of the destruction in Syria and the mass attacks on the region’s Arab armies, it was difficult to believe that this was Damascus and that a few hundred miles to the east Isis have been cutting the throats of their hostages. Indeed, Shaaban finds it difficult even to define what Isis really is.
Not so with America and the war in Syria. “Right from the beginning of this crisis, I never truly felt that the issue was about President Assad,” she says. “It was about the weakening and destruction of Syria. There has been so much destruction – of hospitals, schools, factories, government institutions, you name it. I think the Americans take their battles against leaders and presidents – but only as a pretext to destroy countries. Saddam was not the real target –it was Iraq. And it’s the same for Libya now – America told everyone it was about Gaddafi. The real issue is about weakening the Arab armies, whoever they are. When the Americans invaded Iraq, what was the first thing they did? They dissolved the Iraqi army.”
Shaaban, of course, reflects Syria’s regime. Thus she calls the war a “crisis” and does not choose to reflect on the regime’s responsibility for this – or the numbers killed by the regime forces as well as by the rebels. What she does have is a very clear analytical brain which can shape an argument into coherence however much you disagree with her. She showed this in her research through Syrian presidential and foreign-ministry archives when she was writing a remarkable book about Hafez al-Assad’s peace negotiations with the Clinton administration, in which the old “Lion of Damascus” turns out to be a lot shrewder than the world thought he was –and his betrayal by America much deeper than we suspected at the time. She talks on about the destruction of the Iraqi army, the losses in the Syrian army, the massive suicide attack against Egyptian troops in Sinai and the killing of Lebanese troops in the Lebanese city of Tripoli. And you have to listen.
“Now all Arab armies are targeted – and the purpose is to change the nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Arab-Israeli conflict is the crux of all that is going on in the Middle East. I am not saying these tactics will work. I am saying ‘they’ are targeting the Arab armies. The Egyptian army is very strong. It is a logical army that is defending its country. And then it received this huge attack in Sinai. It’s my opinion that the target is to eliminate the threat that Arab armies represent for the liberation of Gaza and the West Bank and Golan and to make Israel’s occupation easier and less costly. This is a major dimension of the cause of the ‘Arab Spring’. In fact I call it an ‘Israeli Spring’.”
Of course, it’s not difficult to argue with this. Why should the West – presumably the author of these Arab military calamities – want to weaken an Egyptian army which is, by proxy (or directly) protecting Israel itself? Why would the West want the new Iraqi armies to be crushed by Isis – which Shaaban, even though she is speaking in English, naturally refers to by its Arab acronym of ‘Daesh’? Why, indeed, would the West be bombing Isis if it wished to weaken the Syrian army?
“The Americans are the major power in the world and they are weighing this power. But what is ‘Daesh’? I feel it could be the thing it is now without financial and political help from leaders. How does it sell its oil and get its money? In Syria, we are under sanctions and we cannot transfer a penny through New York. So how does ‘Daesh’ get financed in such a huge way? Let me ask you something. When Mosul fell to ‘Daesh’, the Americans did nothing. The Americans intervened only when Kurdistan was threatened – which means the US supports the partition of Iraq. So the US move against ‘Daesh’ is a political move for other objectives. It’s interesting that the Syrian people in Ain al-Arab” – this of course refers to the Syrian Kurds in the Isis-besieged town they call Kobane – “have been more successful in fighting ‘Daesh’ than the Americans.”
Shaaban looks at me sharply. There is no mention of the constant US air strikes against Isis around the town. But she is also contemplating the darkness of that throat-cutting institution, the woman stoned to death in Idlib, the extraordinarily effective propaganda campaign which it runs. “This is propaganda made by very professional experts. There are professional media people involved. It is being ‘directed’ by professionals. And once those who are behind ‘Daesh’ achieve their goals, then they can dispense with it, take off the black clothes and become a ‘moderate’ opposition.”
Shaaban laughs. She knows this is a clever conceit – the Middle East has been littered with monstrous “terrorist” organisations– the PLO, the Muslim Brotherhood, Abu Nidal – which have either been turned into pussycats or eliminated themselves. The next line I was waiting for. “And by the way, what is this ‘moderate’ opposition which is supposed to exist here in Syria? ‘The moderate armed opposition’, they say. How can someone who is armed and puts a gun to your head be a ‘moderate’? Our army is defending our people.” I interrupt. The world would say that civilians have a right to bear arms when they are killed by the government’s forces. No reply. The people of Syria fight for their president, she says, morale is high, the destruction of their enemies – to the health and education systems and to the architectural heritage – is enormous. And so it goes on. President Bashar al-Assad, needless to say, gets a clean bill of health.
But then Shaaban turns to Saudi Arabia, the “Takfirist”curricula in Saudi schools, the culture of head-chopping criminals in Saudi Arabia, its support for the Taliban. “It is a culture very similar to the ‘culture’ of ‘Daesh’. So why was ‘Daesh’ created?” But as an Arab nationalist, does Shaaban want to restore the old Sykes-Picot colonial border between Syria and Iraq which Isis symbolically destroyed?
“I hope the new generation of Arab nationalists will break these borders and help to create a new Arab identity, the emergence of a different reality, to be a real player in international politics. I hope young Arabs will not cling to these borders. Why should Lebanese and Syrians have to stop at their border when the terrorists can move freely across? As Arabs, we should sit down and think how we can face these challenges together. There is a master-plan, a ‘maestro’ – yes, I know people say that this is a ‘conspiracy theory’. But what I’m saying is that the the conspiracy is no longer a ‘theory’ – it is a reality we must confront together.” This was a bit like the end of a long symphony concert, the rousing send-off as Arab nationalism is reborn. Surely that is what the original Syrian Ba’ath party was supposed to be about. Shaaban condemned Turkey for its “lies” and President Erdogan’s desire for another “Ottoman military hegemony” in the Middle East. She takes comfort from the ease with which Sunni refugees from Idlib and Aleppo have settled among Alawites and Christians around Lattaki and Tartous – although she at no point names these religious groups. And she talks about the vast number of families who have lost loved ones – no blame attaching to anyone at this point – but then she utters an irrefutable truth. “When you kill a member of a family, you kill the whole family.” And there really is no answer to that one.

How did Islamists receive American weapons?

Syria’s special forces troops are strung out across a pinnacle of hills here just north east of Lattakia on one of the country’s most dangerous front lines, under daily missile attack from reinforced rebel forces now supported by Isis.
The officers, all of whom are paratroopers, speak of new tactics and upgraded weapons used against them since Isis seized the Iraqi city of Mosul - and some of the radio traffic they listen to from their enemy is in the Chechen or Georgian languages.
Intelligence reports speak of a unification of various rebel factions calling themselves the “Legion of the Coast”, a clear sign that the Isis-inspired rebels - including Isis supporters themselves - intend to strike westwards towards the Mediterranean, scarcely eight miles away.
It’s fair bet that a big battle is shaping up in these pine-covered mountains.
The soldiers themselves talk of the thermal heat-seeking missiles fired at them with detailed knowledge, and agree that the mixture of Islamist groups above and to the east of them are carrying out daily probing attacks to test their defences.
Intriguingly, their surveillance patrols are returning at dawn to report the sound of unidentified night-time aircraft flying into Syrian airspace from Turkey and then east, deep into Syria.
This began around 20 days ago. They do not know if the machines - drones or aircraft - are American and they have heard no airstrikes day or night. But their officers talk of the new TOW anti-armour weapons that have appeared in rebel hands.
One officer showed me an Islamist website videotape of rebels firing a heat-seeking rocket at his own encampment just to the north of here at Qastel Ma’af. The missile can be seen exploding but in fact disintegrated against concrete revetments around a tank.
But when a corporal dragged a sack load of missile parts into a room in this Syrian hill-top fortress, it contained some fascinating evidence of the rebel armoury. Most missiles fragment into thousands of pieces on detonation but just over a month ago - on 26 September - a guided missile exploded deep beneath sand and earth and the fragments clearly show the name of its American arms manufacturer, circuit boards and the coding of the weapon.
Part of the missile identifies the “Eagle-Piche IND (Indiana) INC.” company as the manufacturer and says, in English, that it is “helium charged”, adding - rather ironically as it turns out -- the words: “CAUTION -- CONTAINS 6400 PSIG He (high explosive), FEDERAL LAW FORBIDS TRANSPORATION IF REFILLED -- PENALTY UP TO $25,000 AND FIVE YEARS IMPRISONMENT (49 USC 1809). The Syrians do not know how this weapon - which appears to have been manufactured as long ago as 1989 - made its way from the US to the hands of their country’s Islamist rebels - but it would not be difficult for the Americans to find out. Its full computer coding reads: DOT-E7694 NRC6400/11109/M1033 79294 ASSY 39317 MFR 54080.
A battery tube from another missile fired on the fourth of last month carries an inscription indented in the metal: “132964 Battery thermal MFG DATE 12/90 LOT No (indecipherable numeral then 912 S/N 005959.”
These codes should make it easy for the Americans to identify the purchaser - or receiver - of the weapon, if they choose to do so.
How did the Islamists receive these American weapons? On the international arms market? Or from ‘moderate’ rebels who were given American weapons and then sold them to the highest bidder.
Evidence of just how dangerous these hilltop fortresses are - and they are perched amid countryside that resembles more the hills and valleys of Bosnia than the more familiar desert and rural countryside of Syria - came when a general received a radio call that a suicide bomber was moving towards his positions.
He immediately ordered all armed Syrian outposts to open fire on anyone suspiciously approaching their positions. He had good reason to do so, for just seven months ago many of his closest colleagues were annihilated by a rebel suicide bomber on the neighbouring hilltop of “Position 45” to the north of Qastal Ma’af.
By chance, I visited the very same post almost exactly a year ago and was introduced to the soldiers there by their commander, General Mohamed Maarouf.
Last March, the bunkered post, surmounted by a broken communications tower, came under a ferocious siege by Islamist rebels led by Moslem al-Chichani, the notorious - or legendary, depending on your point of view - red-bearded Chechen leader who moves constantly around the battlefields of Syria and Iraq. Outnumbered, the Syrian soldiers held out for a full week - they were all special forces, like the men at Ash-Shaqraa - when General Maarouf called for an armoured personnel carrier to evacuate his wounded.
The armoured vehicle that emerged through the fog, however, was not the one the general had called for. Driven by a suicide bomber, it crashed into the centre of the compound with 15 tons of explosives aboard, detonating with a roar heard all the way to the Mediterranean, killing almost all the soldiers, including General Maarouf and tearing open a crater 30 feet wide and 15 feet deep.
Within hours, an Islamist video showed a laughing al-Chichani with other rebel colleagues, boasting of their victory. One officer said to me that “almost all the soldiers you met last November were martyred.”
Several Syrian officers believe that Chechens are sent to fight here because the land is similar to their native country. The airwaves are also filled with Turkmen voices, many of them Syrian Turkmens, some with other Turkish accents, usually calling for reinforcements or asking for more missiles or ammunition.
The Syrians know that their enemies can also listen in to their radios although they have more sophisticated ways of communicating to each other. Yet they suspect the Islamists may now be able to listen to land-line conversations.
In the last year, more fighters from the Nusra Front and Jund el-Islam have turned up opposite the Syrian front lines - although ‘front line’ is perhaps a misleading expression. In many wooded areas, the area under ‘control’ by Syrian troops and rebels is only notional. As a Syrian officer said some months ago of a different battlefield, “the Syrian soldier controls what his feet are standing on” - a now well-known epithet that probably applies to many of the world’s wars.
In reality, the rebel posts are perhaps a mile and a half from Ash-Shaqraa but the two sides sometimes find themselves only 200 metres apart. Turkmens are used in the battles because of their local knowledge but the soldiers here have noticed that the “labels and brands” of the various Islamist groups are constantly changing. If ISIS is here as an organised structure, they say, it is still very small. But they have noticed the rebels now using armour-piercing missiles for the first time as well as missiles with a range of five kilomtres. Among Arabic accents on the radios are voices from Egypt, Libya, the Gulf, Tunis and Morocco. Smaller Islamist factions appear to swallow each other “like whales”, one soldier memorably said, adding that it was “only a matter of time before a big faction swallows all the smaller factions.” He did not use the Arabic word ‘Daesh’ -- ISIS -- but that must surely be what will happen. Some units belong to the “Liwa al-Adiyat” - the ‘Brigade of Great Ordeals’ -- but whenever these men engage in fighting, units from other factions arrive to support them.
Syrian troops have also observed large numbers of Turkish troops and armour massing along the border to their north and the construction of a new concrete fortress by Turkish forces on top of Al Aqra mountain. To describe the situation here as ‘tense’ would be to fall victim to an old cliche. Suffice it to say that after giving me a pair of military binoculours to look into the forests, an officer asked me to return behind a sand revetment to avoid attracting sniper fire on their position. One of the late Ganeral Marrouf’s closest comrades was at Ash-Shaqraa on Sunday and he reminded me of the last conversation I had with his former commander. “He told you, Mr. Robert, that he would live to victory or be martyred - well, he kept his promise!”

Video - Demo against police brutality turns ugly in Nantes, France

Security forces fired tear gas at activists staging a demo against police brutality in Nantes on Saturday evening. The activists had been protesting the involvement of police forces in the death of environmental activist Remi Fraisse. Officers fired gas into the street, and when one group of protesters sat down they were sprayed with pepper spray. Protests have taken place throughout the week in several French cities following the death of 21-year old environmental activist Remi Fraisse.

Video Report - U.S: 'This election isn't over'

​British-Iranian woman sentenced to year in jail after trying to attend volleyball match

Ghoncheh Ghavami, a 25-year-old law graduate from London, has been sentenced to a year behind bars for “propaganda against the regime” following her attempt in June to go to a men’s volleyball match, which is forbidden for Iranian women.
Ghavami was detained outside Tehran’s Azadi stadium after allegedly trying to attend a volleyball game in June. Since the Islamic revolution in 1979, women have been barred from entering stadiums for sporting events, though there have been exceptions throughout the years. While it’s not technically illegal, women’s attendance is unofficially banned.
“In the current conditions, the mixing of men and women in stadiums is not in the public interest,” Iran’s police chief, Esmail Ahmadi Moghadam, was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency.
“The reality is there is no legal issue," explained Leila Mouri, an Iranian women’s rights activist living in New York, to US based public radio, PRI. "There is no legal ban. There is even no religious fatwa or any religious order against women attending sports stadiums.”
Along with more than a dozen female protesters, including prominent women’s rights advocate, Shiva Nazar Ahari, Ghavami stood outside the stadium peacefully agitating for the right to attend the game, banking on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s promise of a more moderate Iran.
“We wanted to go to the stadium together. We wanted to go sit on those chairs to scream and cheer for our national team,” Ahari wrote on her Facebook page.
Ghavami has been in jail for almost 130 days, including 41 in solitary confinement at Iran’s Evin Prison, one of Iran's most notorious detention facilities.
Although Ghavami was at first released, she was rearrested a few days later when officers became aware of her dual British-Iranian citizenship, as she attempted to collect her confiscated things from the police station.
Ghavami spent almost three months awaiting charges, while authorities repeatedly refused her request for release on bail before finally charging her with “propaganda against the regime” in September.
Last month, Ghoncheh went on a 14-day hunger strike to protest her arrest.
Ghoncheh’s brother, Iman Ghavami, started a petition ( to free his sister on, urging the Iranian and British governments to expedite Ghoncheh’s release. The petition has amassed over 700,000 signatures.
“We are relieved that [the verdict] is happening but she’s gone through so much for not breaking a single law. Everyone knows she’s innocent. What she has been through already is a huge punishment,” he told the Guardian.
Ghoncheh’s case has prompted international outrage. Amnesty International’s UK director Kate Allen said, “Ghoncheh Ghavami is a prisoner of conscience. Instead of persecuting people for peacefully protesting about pervasive discrimination against women in Iran, the authorities should abolish discriminatory laws and issue an assurance that women will be allowed to freely attend all sporting events in the country in future.”
Although the British Foreign Ministry is petitioning for Ghoncheh’s release, the British government, which has not had an official presence in Iran since the looting and subsequent shutdown of the British embassy in 2011, has limited sway in the country.
President Rouhani defended Ghoncheh’s imprisonment during an interview with Christiane Amanpour in September.
“According to our nation's laws, [people with dual citizenship] are Iranian citizens only. We do not accept dual citizenship. But the bottom line is that our aim is for the laws to be respected at every step of the way,” he said.

Bilawal Bhutto has strongly condemned the suicide blast at Wagah border
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), has strongly condemned the suicide blast at Wagah border in Lahore which resulted into loss of several human lives, including two Rangers personnel and children, while injuring many others.
In a press statement, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that the terrorist attack in the Holy Month of Muharram-ul-Haram is a clear indication that those behind the act have no iota of fear of Almighty Allah, as they have none for the sanctity of human life. He said that enemies of peace once again brought the dust and blood of our innocent people. “Such attacks which targets innocent civilians, reflects enmity with the humanity”, he added Chairman PPP directed party workers to donate blood and look after those injured in the deadly blast. He also demanded of the government to take all necessary measures to tackle the dangers of terrorism and its financing, to preserve the security of the country and protect the lives of citizens.
Bilawal Bhutto expressed his sympathy and deep condolences to the martyrs’ families and to prayed for the immediate recovery of the injured people.

Pakistani Taliban claim responsibility for Pakistan-India border attack

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack on the Pakistani-Indian border near the Pakistani city of Lahore on Sunday which killed at least 45 people. "We claim the Lahore suicide attack," senior commander Gilamn Mehsud said. The attack was carried out in response to the Pakistani army's operation against Islamist militants in the tribal areas straddling the Afghan border, he said.

Pakistan - At least 45 killed in suicide blast near Wagah Border

At least 45 people have been killed after an explosion took place near the Wagah border on Sunday night, DawnNews reported.
Punjab police chief Inspector General Mushtaq Sukhera told AP that the bomb exploded outside a restaurant near a paramilitary soldiers' checkpoint at Wagah border on the outskirts of Lahore city. He also added that the explosion could have been the result of a suicide blast.
Lahore police chief Amin Wains confirmed it was a suicide attack. “People were returning after watching the parade at Wagah border when the blast took place. Ball bearings were found at the scene,” he said.
Nearly 70 people have also reportedly been injured in the explosion.
Emergency has been declared at all hospitals in Lahore. Prime Nawaz Sharif has taken notice of the explosion and called for a report on the incident.
Wagah is the only road border crossing between the Indian city of Amritsar and the Pakistani city of Lahore.

Music Video - Runa Laila - Jab Se Gaya Hai Mera Bachpan

Music Video - Runa Laila - Mera Babu Chail Chabila Original

CHINA - Neighbors shouldn't intervene in Afghanistan

Chinese premier Li Keqiang has said that China is sure of Afghanistan’s capability to deal with its problems but neighboring countries should try to create peaceful environment instead of trying to intervene in Afghanistan. In a conference on peace and rebuilding of Afghanistan, Chinese premier said that the world should respect Afghanistan’s sovereignty, freedom and territorial integrity and abstain from intervening in Afghanistan’s internal matters. Speaking on this occasion, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani invited Taliban directly to get engaged into the international community backed peace process. Ashraf Ghaniz invited Taliban directly and named them too but did not make any particular offers or suggestions during his speech. He also hinted that the government security forces will not back off from action against terrorists.

Video - War Crime- Bangladesh (A documentary on Genocide - 1971)


By Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty
With the death of Gholam Azam a painful and bloody chapter in Bangladesh’s history has been laid to rest. The erstwhile Ameer of the Jamaat-e-Islami, the leading Islamist party in Bangladesh, died as a prisoner in Dhaka’s Medical University Hospital on Oct 23, 2014 at the age of 92.
He was serving a 90 year sentence following his conviction for war crimes committed during Bangladesh’s War of Liberation in 1971. Azam is the second war criminal to die in a hospital prison ward after the death of convicted war criminal Abdul Alim. Earlier, a convicted war criminal Quader Mollah, also from the Jamaat, was sentenced to death and executed.
War criminal Azams’ death has provoked demonstrations in his home district of Brahmanbaria where people have demanded that his body not be allowed to be buried there. Secular and progressive Bangladeshi organizations have called for his body to be sent to Pakistan for burial, since the soil of Bangladesh was soaked with the “sacred blood of martyrs and should not be polluted with the body of a traitor”.
Bangladesh’s War of Liberation in 1971 remains an emotive issue. Azam’s role as a staunch supporter of Pakistan made him a top traitor in Bangladeshi eyes. The memory of millions killed and tortured, the agony of hundreds of thousands of women raped by Pakistani officers and soldiers and the travails of millions of refugees still remains a raw wound in the collective public memory in Bangladesh. Azam, his cohorts and organizations helped and took part in these atrocities, as collaborators of the Pakistani Army.
Azam campaigned extensively against Bangladesh’s freedom struggle and continued his ideological movement for a united Pakistan even after 1971. The Jamaat-e-Islami party, its student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha (later renamed Islami Chhatra Shibir) were involved in Azam’s campaign. These organizations had played important roles in forming the Peace Committees and other pro-Pakistani collaborator outfits, like the Razakar, Al-Badr and Al-Shams. Azam and his collaborators called the freedom fighters “miscreants”, “Indian agents” and “malaun” (a pejorative word used against Hindus) and “infiltrators”.
Azam became the symbol of war crimes in Bangladesh and the leading collaborator in one of the world’s worst genocide. In one of the most despicable acts of revenge, Azam masterminded the killing of Bangladeshi intellectuals by the Pakistani Army and his local collaborators on Dec 14, 1971 when Pakistan was on the verge of defeat and sought to deprive a newly independent Bangladesh of its leading intellectuals. The government of newly independent Bangladesh banned the Jamaat-e-Islami and cancelled Azam’s citizenship. Azam fled to Pakistan.
He campaigned until 1973 to build public opinion in the Islamic world to prevent the recognition of Bangladesh as an independent nation. He visited Saudi Arabia in March 1975 and told King Faisal that Hindus had captured East Pakistan, killed Muslims, burnt the holy Quran, destroyed mosques and converted them into temples. By purveying such blatant lies, Azam collected funds from the Middle East for rebuilding mosques and madrassas.
After the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father and first president of Bangladesh, in August 1975, Bangladesh went through a turbulent political phase which led to General Zia-ur-Rahman usurping power. As president, Zia allowed Azam to return to Bangladesh on a Pakistani passport. Zia’s objective was to promote Islamization and roll back the secular tradition of the Liberation War and Bangladesh’s constitution as an independent nation.
He saw Bangladesh as a mirror image of Pakistan and people like Azam helped him to further this objective. Ghulam Azam was officially declared Ameer of Jamaat in the early 1990s. In 1991, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), founded by Zia, formed the government with support from the Jamaat. Azam’s Bangladeshi citizenship was restored by a court order in 1994.
Azam’s murky past caught up with him when in July last year, Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal handed down a life sentence after finding him guilty of the offences of conspiracy, planning, incitement, complicity in crimes against humanity and genocide and murders during the Liberation War and other wartime offences in 1971. The judges said Azam deserved the gallows but he was given a prison term due to his old age. “We are convinced in holding that accused Prof Ghulam Azam was the pivot of crimes and all the atrocities revolved around him during the War of Liberation,” the three judges said in their verdict. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government set up the tribunal in 2010 after she had pledged before the 2008 election to prosecute those responsible for war crimes. She won a landslide victory and the demand for punishment for war crimes grew into a mass movement.
The Tribunal has been criticized as a political tool of the ruling Awami League (AL) party for persecution of the BNP and the Jamaat. But the people of Bangladesh have supported the Tribunal and demanded the death penalty for all convicted war criminals. The Islamists in Bangladesh are down, but not out.
The murky details of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (JMB) re-organizing in West Bengal and indulging in bomb making for use in Bangladesh clearly points to a nexus between them and Islamists in West Bengal. The state government’s role in this whole affair is under the scanner. Bangladesh is rightly worried that Islamist elements who want to remove Hasina’s government are conspiring to create violence in Bangladesh, perhaps with the help of Islamists elements in West Bengal.
This will complicate India’s relations with Bangladesh and the Indian government must act decisively to eradicate these elements. The West Bengal government appears to have turned a blind eye for narrow electoral politics and the central government must ensure that national security is paramount and petty local politics does not stand in the way.

Death for Quasem - Bangladesh court sentences key Islamist party figure to death

A special tribunal in Dhaka today handed death penalty to Mir Quasem Ali, infamous for leading Al-Badr force in torturing freedom fighters at a hotel in Chittagong, to death for committing crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War.
Ten out of 14 charges have been proved against the 62-year-old, International Crimes Tribunal-2 announced while delivering the verdict.
As the third most powerful man of the Al-Badr force, Ali got highest penalty -- death sentence -- for two charges.
One charge is torture and killing of adolescent freedom fighter Jasim along with five unidentified people after Eid-ul-Fitr of 1971 at Dalim Hotel at Andorkilla in Chittagong after abduction. The other charge is kidnapping of Jahangir Alam Chowdhury, Ranjit Das Prokash Latu and Tuntu Sen in November, 1971. Latu and Tuntu were later killed and their bodies were never found.
Mir Quasem is known as a key financier of Jamaat, which was instrumental to block the birth of Bangladesh by collaborating with Pakistan occupation forces and carrying out crimes against humanity.
"The verdict was based on false witness accounts," defence counsel Mizanul Islam quoted the convict in his immediate reaction inside the court.
Alleging that they were deprived of justice, Islam said they would appeal with the Supreme Court where they expected of getting justice.

These Women Are Bearing the Brunt of Pakistan's 'War on Terror'

Dr. Sameena Khan lays her hand on a new mother’s forehead in the Bakakhel Temporarily Displaced Persons Women’s Hospital, comforting her and occasionally shooing away flies and wasps that buzz through the wards.
“Childbirth in this camp is becoming common. This is not right — this was supposed to be temporary,” Khan said, bemoaning the fate of women like her latest patient, forced to live in this army-made tent city housing 26,000.
"Can you imagine being protected and shrouded your whole life, and then being displaced, and then living in a tent for years?” she said. “With scorpions below, helicopters above and not enough water and food? With your relatives not around ... with your children not playing out in their gardens but inside a military fence?”
“That's the Waziristani woman in a displaced people's camp,” she added. Khan is among an estimated 1 million civilians from a conservative region in northwest Pakistan who have been forced from their homes by a massive anti-insurgent operation launched in mid-June. And it is women and girls like Khan and her patients who pay a disproportionate price for the region's long war on terror.
"The situation of women in the camps presents a grave problem because they lack the survival tools to navigate basic service provision,” according to Rafia Zakaria, who has written about the conflict’s effect of the local population for rights group Amnesty International. “Many have never seen money before and lack the basic mathematics skills to do simple transactions. They don't fit in because they don't belong."
Taken out of their village environment and dropped into a camp full of strangers makes women and girls extremely vulnerable. That’s because the vast majority of North Waziristan’s women live according to unwritten codes of behavior that restrict them from leaving their homes, and being seen or even heard in public. This makes them and their experiences invisible both at home and in the camps, Zakaria said.
"They’ve been deemed to be completely irrelevant to the war," she said. "That affects the public debate, but as well as their personal lives. And so their rapes don’t matter. And their babies don’t matter. And their lives don’t matter.”
This grim existence, in camps where women are forced to remain in crowded, hot tents, comes after years of trauma in a war zone that has been targeted by U.S. drones from the sky and now by Pakistani forces on the ground.
Even before the latest bout of fighting began, females in the region had it hard. An estimated 600 out of 100,000 die while giving birth, according to the local government - far above the national average of 170. Meanwhile, most lack basic skills necessary to make a life outside the home. Nationwide only 32 percent of women learn how to read and write. That falls to a shocking three percent in the tribal region.
‘Forever war’
Dozens of young girls loudly recite their ABCs while sitting of the floor of a canvas tent in Bakakhel Camp. Their teacher, 18-year-old Zainab, pines to return home to Mir Ali, the second-largest town of North Waziristan, which now stands “decimated, evacuated, but minus militants,” according to a Pakistani military officer who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity.
“I don’t care if this this a fair war or an unfair war,” said Zainab, who covered her face as she spoke because even talking to journalists is a breach of cultural norms. The army has told her that she, her family and students will be in Bakakhel camp for the next three to five years.
“Yes, there were bad things going on in my town. There were terrible people there," said Zainab, referring to the local and foreign militant groups that essentially ran Mir Ali before it was taken by the army. “But it was my home. This camp is not. And I want to go home, whether it was a good place, or not.”
It is unclear whether she will ever return home. The military officer said it was “too premature to give a hard return date” for Zainab and thousands of others like her displaced by the war.
The campaign was meant to be a “clean sweep against militancy,” he said, adding that it would come at a cost: "It can become a forever war.”

Five ISIS commanders enter Pakistan

At least five commanders of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) entered Pakistan from Australia, the country’s intelligence agencies revealed in a high-level meeting in Karachi on Sunday (today), November 1.
According to the agencies report, large quantity of gold has also been transferred in Pakistan from Saudi Arabia for helping the militant organization.
The agencies presented the report to high-level officials that three ISIS commanders had entered Karachi and two others had reached Lahore.
According to the report, more than 370 IS fighters are present in the country, including 22 in Karachi.
In addition, IS had provided money to terrorists for attacking the Central Jail, Karachi.

Saudi, Qatar send five ISIS commanders in Pakistan via Australia
At least five commanders-terrorists of so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) entered in Pakistan from Australia, the country’s intelligence agencies revealed ISIS activities in a high-level meeting in Karachi today, November 1.
According to the agencies report, the large quantity of gold (approximately $1 million) also been transferred in Pakistan from Saudi Arabia and Qatar for helping the militant organization.
The agencies briefed the report in front of high-level officials that IS three commanders entered in Karachi and two others entered in Lahore.
According to the report, more than 370 ISIS operatives are present in the country which the 22 in Karachi.
In addition, ISIS had provided money to terrorists for launching attack at Central jail Karachi.
According to Intelligence Bureau (IB), terrorists are also planing to attack Ashura processions of Karachi and Rawalpindi.

By the Numbers: Pakistan’s Perilous Religious Laws

Knox Thames
Pakiistani Christian Aasia Bibi's death sentence for blasphemous activity has shone a spotlight on the perilous situation for religious communities in Pakistan. The country's laws repress religious freedoms for all and are vigorously enforced, especially against religious minorities. In addition, an alarming level of violence against the religious "other" is plaguing Pakistan. Extremists victimize not just non-Muslims but Muslims who dissent from the extremists' radical interpretations of Islam. Impunity increasingly reigns, as militants and mobs regularly perpetrate attacks with little or no state response.
Here are some numbers that highlight the challenges facing Pakistan:
38 sentenced -- The number of people on death row or serving life sentences for blasphemy, five of whom were sentenced in 2014 alone. Blasphemy laws in Pakistan are easily abused or manipulated. Pakistan has no penalty for lying, no evidentiary requirement, and the maximum penalty for blasphemy is death. Blasphemy laws protect the systemic beliefs of the state at the expense of individuals, violating the freedoms of religion and expression and colliding with international human rights standards. Pakistan has the dubious distinction of having more people sentenced to jail for blasphemy than any other country in the world.
4 years -- The length of time Aasia Bibi has been in jail while her death sentence is on appeal. The Lahore High Court recently refused to overturn the lower court's decision despite ample evidence that the underlying event was an argument between farmhands and not a religious dispute. Commentators think Bibi could be in jail for an additional four years while her case awaits Supreme Court review. While she has garnered international attention, many others are in a similar position.
0 jailed -- The number of people sentenced for the murders of Shahbaz Bhatti, Rashid Rehman, and Muhammad Shakil Auj. My friend Bhatti, a former federal minister for minority affairs and outspoken critic of Pakistan's blasphemy law, was assassinated by the Pakistani Taliban in March 2011. Human rights lawyer Rehman was murdered in May 2014 for his defense of an individual accused of blasphemy after weeks of threats -- authorities failed to provide Rehman protection or investigate the threats. Auj, a leading Islamic scholar, was killed this September for his "blasphemous" writings.
1,130 killed -- The number of people killed over the past two-and-one-half years in targeted acts of violence against religious communities, as tracked by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (see reports here and here). The Commission found that while Hindus, Sikhs, and Ahmadis are also targets, Shi'a Muslims have been consistently victimized more than others and continued to be the target of terrorist attacks, with more than 850 killed during that period.
40 years -- Four decades ago this past September the Second Amendment to Pakistan's constitution was passed decreeing that Ahmadis could not be Muslims. While not unusual for a national constitution to establish a particular religion, it is virtually unprecedented for a constitution to define the boundaries of one faith, deciding who's in and who's out. The move cast Ahmadi Muslims as the religious "other" in Pakistan and presaged additional discriminatory laws that effectively criminalize practicing their faith. It set the stage for decades of repression, fueled violence, and laid the groundwork for the apartheid-like system that exists today.
15 hours -- The grand total of time reportedly devoted by the National Assembly to discussing challenges faced by religious minorities in the past year. An NGO found that during 130 days of proceedings and over 1000 hours of debate, only a tiny fraction of time was spent considering the plight of religious minorities and the surge of violence unleashed against them. The Assembly did unanimously pass a nonbinding resolution condemning the "brutal" killings of religious minorities and discrimination against them on Minorities Day in August. While speaking out is important, parliament could play a greater oversight role in ensuring that police protect minorities and arrest attackers.
13 months -- Twin suicide bombers attacked the All Saints Church in Peshawar on Sept. 22, 2013 as Sunday services were ending, killing 119 Christians and wounding scores more. Promises of increased security and reparations for the attacks have largely gone unfulfilled.
4 months -- The number of months since the Supreme Court's then-Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani handed down his landmark decision tasking the government to protect religious minorities. In a suo moto proceeding linked to attacks against Christians, Hindus, and Sikhs, the Court ruled in June that the federal government "should:" constitute a "taskforce for developing a strategy of religious tolerance;" develop school curricula to "promote a culture of religious and social tolerance;" ensure hate speech is discouraged and "the delinquents" are brought to justice; institute a national council for religious minorities; and establish a special police force to protect the places of worship of religious minorities. The government has yet to implement any of these.
4 ministries -- The number of provincial ministries for minority affairs in Pakistan, a unique move for any country. Unfortunately, they are underfunded and understaffed. However, if better resourced, their existence could provide tangible help in local communities. Knox Thames is the Director of Policy and Research

Pakistan: Eyes on Ch Nisar - Still the blue eyed?

Many eyes are on Ch Nisar as the prime minister goes ahead with evaluation of ministries ahead of the cabinet shuffle. It has been difficult to keep the interior minister out of the news for long in the last 17 months, even if it has been just has hard to keep him in the spotlight for the right reasons. Initially, he disagreed most with the military in the matter of negotiating with the Taliban. Then there were reports that his relations with some of the prime minister’s closest aides were strained at best. Not much later, he almost broke off the delicate truce with the opposition that enabled the government to ride out the dharna storm. Yet he remained the PM’s blue eyed.
This past week he was in the news again; twice, and neither winning him any points. First we were told that the Joint Intelligence Directorate (JID) is not becoming a reality anytime soon, and the main hurdle is financial. Yet the interior minister did not see these problems one year ago, in Oct ’13, when he promised that the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) would be revived and the JID would be set up within six months. And, apparently, he missed the financial loop-hole again in Jan ’14, when he said the national security policy was in its final stages of formation. Now, suddenly there is a problem with finances, which must be explained in detail.
He made the news again as calls for his resignation did the rounds in the senate following the brutal police crackdown on OGDC employees. Time and again, politicians in and outside parliament have pointed at him as being responsible for Nawaz Sharif’s many falls. The interior ministry is, of course, one of the most important and sensitive ministries. In ways, its head shoulders a bigger responsibility than most other ministries’. It directly affects the survival and functioning of the state itself. The prime minister must study its performance very closely during his evaluation. He must also realise that the time has come for him to make decisions strictly on merit. But if family and party alliances continue to get preference, the government will have only itself to blame for the aftermath.

Pakistan - The sorry Israeli stall controversy

By Imran Ahmad Khan
Three people were removed from their positions over the issue of having an Israeli stall at a mock United Nations debating contest at the Islamic International University. This was done because of their ‘culpability’ in promoting Israel’s agenda. Well, actually no, they did not do anything of the sort. They were suspended because they organised a Model UN conference — a simulation of the United Nations — where Israel was represented as a country.
At a Model UN conference, participants are usually assigned different countries as they discuss issues of global relevance. For example, at the Harvard World MUN 2014, I was part of the Disarmament and Security Committee where I represented the Syrian Arab Republic as we discussed the pressing issue of drone attacks. Every delegate is required to put forward his or her country’s stance. Indian delegates, therefore, will not agree on giving up Kashmir to Pakistan. Likewise, American delegates will not admit to their country’s duplicitous foreign policy over the years. What they will do, however, is provide a real-life taste of what the Indian or American delegates would say in such debates.
A delegate’s debating skills are tested by the contribution that he or she makes to the debate. More important, though, is the skill of diplomacy and such conferences provide you with the best opportunity of learning how to interact with people from diverse backgrounds. In a committee of 400 delegates at the Harvard World MUN, there were delegates from around 80 different countries.
So while I debated with some wonderful people from India, Venezuela, England, the US and Turkey — to name a few — I also had the opportunity to interact with them during the social events, promoting an image of Pakistan that was quite different from what they had been seeing in the news media. These social events are primarily designed to promote interaction and cultural exchanges between students from different parts of the world. Personally speaking, this is the best part of MUN conferences since it allows you to break all stereotypes and gives you a chance to know people beyond boundaries and borders.
Following the same line of thinking, the Model UN conference at the International Islamic University in Islamabad organised a social event where students had to set up stalls representing the countries that they were representing. Just to give you some context, at international conferences with people from different countries taking part, you usually set up stalls representing your country of origin.
This should give you an idea of how this particular event — a global village — is really meant to act as a cultural event that allows you to get familiarised with different countries. With little or no international participation, delegates were asked to set up stalls representing their assigned countries by the organisers of this particular conference.
This, of course, did not go down well with people who wish to stifle academic debate in Pakistan. Like it or not, Israel happens to be an important world player. This importance means that Israel cannot be left out of debates, especially if it is a political debate. How do you expect an all-encompassing debate on the Middle Eastern crisis without Israel? How can you ever have a meaningful debate on the Palestinian issue without anyone representing Israel?
There will be detractors who will point out that these conferences are an excuse for high school students to skip school and party, and to those detractors, my answer is simple: there are always two sides to a coin. So, while you give that argument, remember that students at LUMS and IBA have used MUN conferences to promote Pakistan internationally. I, and countless other LUMS Model UN members, have participated in various international MUN conferences such as the Harvard World MUN and the Model UN Turkey.
The LUMS team has won the best delegation award five times — competing with most of the world’s top universities. At the Turkey conference, the LUMS team has won seven times in a row. Every time this happens, the world gets to know about a Pakistan that is tolerant and willing to engage in meaningful debate. To its credit, LUMUN (LUMS Model UN society) has also organised Pakistan’s premier MUN conference 10 years in a row, apart from co-hosting a conference in Passau, Germany.
The solution to solving a conflict often lies in your ability to listen to others, for it is only then that you end up understanding where the other party is coming from. Model UN conferences are an excellent platform for such grooming and we must not add controversy to an entirely harmless — in fact beneficial — activity.
MUN participants take pride in breaking barriers and building bridges. So, let a conference be a conference. Let a simulation of debate be just that and nothing more. Let people understand perspectives.

Pakistan: Petition filed to withhold PTI legislators’ perks

A petition seeking to withhold the allowances, perquisite and privileges used by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) legislators even after resigning from NA seats was filed in the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Saturday. A non-government organization, United Human Rights Commission of Pakistan approached the court seeking its directives for the NA speaker to withhold the allowances and special benefits of PTI legislators. In the petition, Rana Faizul Hassan, NGO’s secretary general submitted that the expenses of the National Assembly have crossed the figure of Rs23 billion owing to the special benefits used by legislators. He said 34 PTI lawmakers had submitted their resignations to the speaker of the National Assembly, but their resignations were still not accepted. He said according to the article 64 (A) of the constitution whoever submits his or her resignation containing signature is liable to be accepted with immediate effect. Subsequently, he or she is not eligible to enjoy the benefits. He submitted PTI legislators were still getting allowances, perks and privileges even after resigning from their seats which was violation of the constitution. He pleaded to the court to issue directives for the NA speaker to withhold all benefits of PTI legislators.

Pakistan: Special police force set up for security of polio teams

The Sindh government in wake of increasing number of polio cases in the province has established a separate police force headed by SPP rank police officer with 700 police personnel to ensure foolproof security to polio teams during four month of low transmission period of polio virus starting from current month.
Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah directed Inspector General Sindh Police to arrange 50 percent personnel of this force each from Karachi and interior Sindh with sophisticated weapons and vehicles.
He directed secretary health and commissioner Karachi to launch crash programme for anti polio campaign in eleven most-affected union councils of Karachi after Ashura and also to include Pashtoon females in the polio teams to make it more successful. Presiding over meeting to review anti-polio campaign in the province he said despite our efforts to eliminate the menace of polio, as many as 23 polio cases-21 from Karachi and one each from Dadu and Sanghar has been reported.
He said out of these 23 polio cases, 21 cases pertain to Pashto speaking families.
He said actually, polio cases were being injected into Sindh province through migration of unvaccinated pashtoon internally displaced persons from federally administrated tribal areas (FATA) and Sindh government was getting bad name without its failure.
Experts and organisations working against the polio menace were also of the view FATA has become the home of polio virus, which was forwarding it to the rest of the country and added Sindh was most affected in terms of polio virus and terrorism.
He said though Sindh was being injected with poliovirus but we should have to control over our weaknesses and shortfalls to curb this virus at once.
He directed commissioner Karachi and provincial secretary health to administer polio drops to more than 107,000 reported children and this process should be repeated again and again.
He stressed upon the need of proper monitoring of anti polio campaigns and directed for establishing a separate monitoring cell in the supervision of additional Secretary Health to monitor the activities, identify the weakness and report to him time to time so that the complete elimination of polio could be ensured.
He directed the officers to put their all resources in the field to achieve the target of making Sindh as polio free province by the end of 2015.
The coordinator polio Shahnaz Wazir Ali said at present 235 polio cases have been reported from all parts of Pakistan out of which the big number of 151 cases pertains to FATA and 48 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa only.
She said Pakhtoon families residing in specific eleven union councils of Karachi where anti polio teams were not only experiencing refusal cases but also facing security threats.
She said at least permanent security force was needed for 100 percent coverage in these areas.
The provincial coordinator for polio also pointed out her financial problems as according to her the expenditure made by anti polio organisations have not been reimbursed by federal government beside she sought for sufficient quantity of vaccinations available to them from federal government.
She said we were now including Pashtoon females in the polio teams to cover their residential areas.

Pakistan: Will someone please help the Baloch?

By Monis Ali
Balochistan produces more than 20 percent of natural gas, but 97 percent of the population still has no access to gas, burning wood for cooking and other fire-related activities instead of using gas. This is because much of the gas produced in Balochistan is consumed in Punjab without its consent.
Whenever a Baloch demands the separation of Balochistan from Pakistan, Pakistanis instantly accuse other countries of persuading him/her. Recently, I read a report accusing our neighbouring country, India, of persuading the Baloch to fight for the independence of Balochistan. However, what I want to declare is that the Baloch are not being being persuaded to fight. Instead, they are compelled to fight against a government that is reluctant to treat all citizens equally, especially the Baloch.
On June 15, 2014 the Pakistan army launched an operation against foreign and local terrorists in North Waziristan called Operation Zarb-e-Azb after armed militants attacked Karachi airport. As a result of this operation in North Waziristan, more than 75,240 families in North Waziristan had to leave their homes to allow the operation to succeed. There is no denying the fact that the government has worked day and night to fulfil the basic needs of the internally displaced persons (IDPs); the IDPs have been provided much relief and assistance. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif visited the IDP camps in Bannu, Imran Khan celebrated the Islamic festival with the IDPs and Zardari urged the nation and the workers of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to help the IDPs of North Waziristan at all cost. Furthermore, being a social worker, I appreciate all efforts made for these people.
However, residents in the eastern part of Turbat, Balochistan left their homes at the behest of the Pakistan army in late August after clashes between the security forces and Baloch insurgents in the eastern part of Turbat. According to reports, more than 50 families left their homes and, sadly, none of them were provided with even a little relief and assistance. According to local reporters, during Eid-ul-Azha some IDPs from Balochistan were found running pillar to post in search of low-rent houses in Turbat instead of celebrating Eid. According to social workers, a number of IDPs from Balochistan are poor, incapable of providing two meals a day to their children in a new location but also unable to rent unaffordable houses. It is a matter of common sense to understand that if the Baloch are being neglected in this abysmal situation, then surely they will never talk in favour of Pakistan. “We have been neglected at the hands of the state since 1948 but when we raise our voices for our rights or for the independence of Balochistan, we are called traitors,” an IDP from Balochistan recently said to media.
Historically, the Baloch have been demanding and fighting for the freedom of Balochistan since Pakistan annexed Balochistan. Therefore, from the very beginning, the government should have helped and served the Baloch to such an extent that the Baloch would have been made proud to abide in Pakistan. Balochistan is a resource-rich province, whereas the Baloch are not only deprived of their resources but are also deprived of the benefits of their resources. For example, Balochistan produces more than 20 percent of natural gas, but 97 percent of the population still has no access to gas, burning wood for cooking and other fire-related activities instead of using gas. This is because much of the gas produced in Balochistan is consumed in Punjab without its consent. However, Punjab produces less than five percent of the natural gas in use but it consumes more than 60 percent of gas, which comes from other provinces.
As far as the employees of Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) and Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) are concerned, out of 11,613 employees in SSGC and SNGPL, Sindh’s share is 3,613, Punjab’s share is 5,454 and Balochistan’s share is 353 despite the fact that unemployment is the biggest hurdle in Balochistan. Similarly, a glance at the Saindak copper gold project, located in the Chagai district of Balochistan, also points out that the Baloch are considered to be non-Pakistanis. For example, the Saindak copper gold project, which is being operated by Metallurgical Construction Company of China (MCC), is capable of producing 15,810 tonnes of copper annually, 146 tonnes of gold and 2.76 tonnes of silver. However, the Chinese company takes 75 percent of the share from this project and the federal government takes 24 percent, leaving a measly one percent for Balochistan from the project. T
o cut this long story short, the Baloch are striving hard for the independence of Balochistan not because they are persuaded but because they dream of not suffering from injustice, unequal treatment and neglect in a free and fair Balochistan.

Pakistan: Find the real ‘Gullu’ Butt

A palpable sense of justice, yes, but does the conviction of Shahid Aziz (better known as Gullu Butt) imply that justice has been fully served to the victims of the Model Town incident? Certainly not. Gullu Butt, the lout who was caught on camera by the media vandalising cars and public property during the Model Town tragedy, has finally been convicted on Thursday by an Anti-Terrorism Court. He has been sentenced to prison for 11 years and also a fine of Rs 111,000. What caught the public’s attention on the very first day of the incident was that Butt, while on his smashing spree on June 17, was continuously being patted and hugged by the police personnel around him. Such gestures of camaraderie obviously provoked many questions. Was the police patronising him and letting him act as a police proxy or was there some other force that held the strings while they tried to remove the barriers positioned outside the Minhajul Quran Secretariat? Adding to the mystery, the bailing out of a downright hooligan by the Lahore High Court on the grounds of lack of evidence seemed inexplicable when the video and eyewitness evidence in this case was certainly more than sufficient.
Butt’s history too confirms the reservations people had about him that he was complicit with and backed by certain authorities while he went on with his bashing activities. Reports suggest that Gullu Butt was a police tout and a petty don who also ran some social welfare campaigns and besides being a police informer, he was an active PML-N member and used to solve people’s problems using his party influence. All of this, if put together, gives a tripartite picture in which Gullu Butt appears to be in cahoots with the PML-N and Punjab police in mishandling the crowd in Model Town that ended up claiming 14 lives of Pakistan Awami Tehreek workers. No doubt the sacking of the then Law Minister Rana Sanaullah served as a scapegoat. But that has failed to quell speculations about whether the trail pointed higher up. One would expect that the investigation should at least make it clear who ordered the police to resort to violence. Similarly, why has not a single police official been either convicted or sacked so far? Many other similar questions are still left answered. Nonetheless, one can only hope that the court carries on with its independent judicial inquiry in order to fulfil the demands of justice as soon as possible and bring the actual architect of this bloodshed to light.

Pakistan: Militant magnets

The fact that Iraq and Syria have become magnets for radicalised Muslims from across the world has been largely confirmed by a UN report, parts of which were recently published in the Guardian.
It says that “foreign terrorist fighters” from around 80 nations have left for the blood-drenched battlefields of the Middle East to take up arms for the self-styled Islamic State and other extremists.
According to CIA estimates, there are anywhere between 20,000 to 30,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria, with large numbers of them hailing from Western as well as Muslim states.
Meanwhile, in a related development, MQM chief Altaf Hussain has raised the alarm about the possible presence of IS in Pakistan; speaking on Friday, the Muttahida chief said that IS flags and graffiti were ‘evidence’ of the radical group’s activities in this country.
There are numerous reasons why disenchanted young Muslims from the West as well as Muslim nations are being attracted to the IS banner.
Some of these militants, both men and women, have failed to integrate into their Western environs and suffer from an identity crisis, while others are fleeing repressive, failed or failing Muslim regimes.
The common tie that binds them is the dream of becoming part of a utopian ‘caliphate’ that they believe the Islamic State is building. Regardless of their motivations, their home countries have not done enough to stop the flow of jihadis into the Middle East.
Not only are these fighters destabilising the region, they will become major security threats should they decide to return home, further radicalised and with battlefield experience.
As for Mr Hussain’s warning, it is true that IS paraphernalia and graffiti have been reported from parts of the country, while prominent local militants such as Shahidullah Shahid and Omar Khalid Khorasani have expressed their admiration for the militant group.
However, rather than proving IS has a presence in Pakistan, these developments reflect splits within the banned TTP, while militants are simply expressing support for an ideological ally which has achieved enviable battlefield success.
Yet the IS threat cannot be dismissed entirely.
Authorities need to monitor whether local and foreign militants are moving back and forth from Middle Eastern combat zones.
As far as defeating IS goes, we feel a regional effort — spearheaded by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran — is still the best solution for defeating the extremists rather than a US-led air war with a token Arab presence.

Islamic State fears grow in Pakistan and Afghanistan

The Islamic State name has cropped up several times in militant circles in recent weeks in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the historic homeland of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
The Islamic State organisation is starting to attract the attention of radicals in Pakistan and Afghanistan, long a cradle for militancy, unnerving authorities who fear a potential violent contagion.
Far from the militants' self-proclaimed "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria, the name of IS has cropped up several times in militant circles in recent weeks in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the historic homeland of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Leaflets calling for support for IS were seen in parts of northwest Pakistan, and at least five Pakistani Taliban commanders and three lesser cadres from the Afghan Taliban have pledged their support. Pro-IS slogans have appeared on walls in several cities in both countries and in Kabul University, where a number of students were arrested.
Militant, security and official sources questioned by AFP in recent weeks say these are local, individual initiatives, and at this stage IS has not established a presence in the region. But the success of IS in the Middle East is unsettling many of those charged with keeping a lid on Afghanistan and Pakistan's myriad extremist groups. "IS is becoming the major inspiration force for both violent and non-violent religious groups in the region," Pakistani security analyst Amir Rana told AFP.
Earlier this month Pakistan's National Counter Terrorism Agency wrote to a dozen government agencies warning them to be on their guard against the IS group. "The successes of IS play a very dangerous, inspirational role in Pakistan, where more than 200 organizations are operational," the agency said.
The letter came as the Pakistani army fights a major offensive in insurgent bastions of the tribal northwest, which appears to be weakening its major enemies, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and allied Al-Qaeda fighters.
Following the army offensive, the TTP, a coalition of disparate militant groups, has fragmented into rival factions over recent weeks, fuelling rumours the movement could be overtaken by IS.
The TTP say they broadly support both the IS militants and Al-Qaeda. They also say say they have sent 1,000 fighters in recent years to help the struggle in Syria - an estimate confirmed by a Pakistani government source - and plan to send 700 more.
But if IS militants one day envisage extending their influence in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the world's only Islamic state with nuclear weapons, they will have to either defy or find an accommodation with the two countries' Taliban movements.
Currently both the TTP and the Afghan Taliban officially recognise only one leader, Mullah Omar, and a senior Afghan cadre told AFP that IS was wrong to declare a caliphate. "The Taliban and their supporters say that 'amir-ul-momineen' (the commander of the faithful) has already been chosen," the commander told AFP, rejecting IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
So far the Taliban and Al-Qaeda's new South Asia wing have steered clear of criticising IS, maintaining a united front against "Western aggression". US officials said the group is generating tens of millions of dollars a month from black market oil sales, ransoms and extortion. This financial heft is proving a big draw - including for the five Pakistani Taliban commanders who announced their support for the IS group. "The splinter groups are facing financial crisis, so they are contacting Daesh," a senior militant told AFP. Daesh is another name for IS.
To spread in the region, IS must also eat away at the authority of the state - but, unlike Iraq and Syria, Pakistani state structures look solid and are supported by a powerful army.
Afghanistan, much more fragile, is more worrying - particularly Kunar and Nuristan, mountainous provinces on the Pakistani border, which have long been refuges for militants from the branch of Islam espoused by IS and Al-Qaeda. "The authorities' fear is that IS will join up with the TTP and other extremist groups and from there spread on both sides of the border," said analyst Rana.
Several sources say that in Kunar there is at least one camp training hundreds of fighters sympathetic to IS. Away from the camps, there is a danger that the IS militants could attract more and more young Afghans and Pakistanis through their propaganda on Facebook and Twitter. "People here face problems with the lack of justice, the corruption and the inefficiency of the state, and therefore they need a counter-narrative, and IS provides one with religious content," said Tahirul Ashrafi, head of the Pakistan's Ulema Council, seen as close to the authorities.
In the short-term the big fear in Pakistan stems from the IS group's sectarian agenda, more extreme and more explicit than that of Al-Qaeda, heightened by its fight against majority Shiite governments in Iraq and Syria. Violence against minority Shiite Muslims, who make up about 20 per cent of Pakistan's population, has hit record levels in recent years and there are concerns IS could energise sectarian groups even further.

Surendar Valasai appeals Bilawal Bhutto to take notice of kidnapping, force coversion of Hindu girls
Surendar Valasai, Minority affairs advisor has appealed to Chairperson Pakistan Peoples Party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to take notice of kidnapping and forced conversion of two Hindu girls, Anjali Megwar and Kajal Bheel in Daharki and Matriary and provide justice to the minority’s Pakistani daughters.
In a press statement, He said that PPP believe in equality and no injustice will be tolerated against the minority communities.
Advisor to Chairperson PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on minority affairs, Surendar Valasai further said that all the minority communities should rest assured that in the presence of PPP and its leadership no one will be allowed to torment them or victimize them as PPP stands as a lone force for the intergrety of the society and protection of minorities.

The story of Asia Bibi does not matter in Pakistan

Nabeel Chohan
Like all those accused of blasphemy by the twisted mullah-obsessed minds, Asia Bibi’s cry for justice has fallen on deaf ears.
For Pakistanis, Asia Bibi is a menace; another woman defaming the honourable men of this country, another figure challenging them to introspection, another symbol against the creeping social bigotry.
We are remarkably apt at constructing alternate narratives about our society, based on obscure conspiracy theories, aimed at upholding the ‘pureness’ of the land of the pure.
Malala, Mukhtara Mai and Abdus Salam would have been national heroes had they perhaps only been born to a society with the ability of holding a mirror to itself.
Except, they were not.
They were rewarded for their struggles by being condemned to the dark corners of history after being selectively erased out of textbooks so their stories may not be heard.
Asia Bibi is no different. Having been on death row for over four years for alleged blasphemy, she has successfully been blacked out from major media coverage.
This media blackout is even more remarkable considering that the few voices that spoke out against the sheer injustice done to her, including the then governor of the Punjab province, have now been silenced with a few bullets.
For most countries the shame of a governor being assassinated by his own guard would have been almost unbearable. However in Pakistan, after publicly admitting to the assassination of the governor of Pakistan’s largest province, the assassin was accorded a hero's welcome when he made his first court appearance.
Perhaps, it is then no surprise that the Lahore High Court upheld the death sentence for Asia Bibi earlier this month. It is perhaps also not a surprise that no one has spoken up against the court’s decision, not even the so-called revolutionaries.
Women and minorities form the lowest segments of Pakistan’s society and a combination of the two results in the most vulnerable portion of the country’s population. Asia Bibi, therefore is a soft target for Pakistan’s religious right that has now found influence in the country’s prominent military, judicial and parliamentary quarters.
The irony of the matter is almost beyond belief. Those who continue to defame Islam, the Prophet and the Quran everyday by misleading people to the path of violence, hatred and anger are allowed a free hand, while those who are weak and vulnerable are dealt with an iron fist.
In a country where 97 per cent of the population is Muslim, laws need to be made to protect the minority from the majority and not the other way around.
The foundation of Pakistan was laid on the principles of peace, tolerance and religious freedom and as a society it is our responsibility to uphold these values to protect the weak and the vulnerable around us.
The white on Pakistan’s flag was meant to represent the religious freedom for the Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and other minorities in the Pakistan.
So, the next time when, in your patriotic zeal, you decide to wave your flag vehemently, pause for a second and ask yourself:
“Does this flag really represent my country today?”