Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Video - Jingle Bells Jingle Bells

Video - We wish you a merry christmas

Video - Russian, Finnish Santa Clauses meet at border

Video - How to pick wine for your holiday meal

Pakistan - Christmas celebrations toned down in wake of Peshawar tragedy

This time last year Rebecca Bashir and her family were busy decorating the Christmas tree with baubles, tree toppers and lights.
With the nation still mourning the Peshawar massacre, the scenario has changed though and Christians across Pakistan have collectively decided to tone down celebrations.
“Who kills children?” says Rebecca, who is a teacher at the St. Peter’s school in Lahore.
“For how long will we keep sending our children abroad,” Rebecca, who broke down in tears during the conversation, adds.
Christmas across Pakistan will not have an air of festivity this time around and would be limited to congregation prayers in the morning, followed by family get-togethers.
For Rebecca, the pain of the terrorist attack on Peshawar's Army Public School is still fresh, considering her routine involves her being in a similar setting everyday.
“As the news of the attack reached the school, the students were told not to feel hopeless. We told them not to be frightened, do not think of leaving the country. It is your land, you have to work hard for it and defend it.”
True to her profession, the 57-year-old teacher says if education was given priority in the country, the situation would never have deteriorated so much.
“Terrorists have been brainwashed into committing these crime. If they had been educated they would not have opted for this path.”
Rebecca said for her this Christmas will be a time of reflection and prayers which will begin from Christmas Eve.
“We will continue prayers throughout the day for Kot Radha Kishan, All Saints Church and Peshawar school victims.”
“We do not have any Makkah or Madinah, it is Pakistan where we belong and this is our land. We will defend it to our last spill of blood.”
Rebecca says she never expected the situation in the country to come to a head in such a manner.
Recollecting her memories from a trip to a hill station in Balochistan when she was young, she says the situation has been brewing up for a while now and something had to give way.
“We saw chalking on the wall saying Pakistan will be ruined,” she said.
“We laughed at those remarks back then.”
“It is us who have failed, not our children…we have to teach our children to say ‘no’ to wrong. Do not hate anybody, love your country. We are all Pakistanis,” she advised the young generation of Pakistan.
Rebecca's husband Colonel (retd) Samuel Bashir served in the Army for 27 years and says he feels guilty for the Pakistan we are leaving for our younger generations.
“'I am terribly sorry for the country we are leaving for you to live in. It is my generation's fault', I tell the younger lot,” Samuel says.
He says, as a soldier his heart and soul is with the grieving families but the nation must be ready to face more losses if the country wanted to rid itself of the scourge of terrorism.
“Theologically Christmas is to celebrate peace. Though the birth of Jesus could definitely be celebrated but not peace because after what happened in Peshawar, this is a time to mourn.”
Much like Samuel and Rebecca, Christmas activities will be limited to children alone for Sean Victor, an Aga Khan University Hospital employee.
“Christmas is for children and the celebrations are being carried out on a very low scale,” he said.
“There are fewer activities, less lighting and events of singing and dancing have also been called off.”
Then there are people like Parveen, a housekeeper, who preferred to spend this Christmas just like any other routine day.
“If the government had not declared a public holiday, I would have gone to work,” she said.
“We will not be setting up a Christmas tree and will only wear new clothes while going to church for prayers.”
For Parveen, it was important for the country to unite in such an environment and festivities were not of the utmost important.
Pastor Habib, founder and chairman of the 'Gospel Church of the Living God' in Essa Nagri, says each and every Christian living in Pakistan was saddened by the deadly incident in Peshawar which had made Christmas this year more about prayer than celebration.
“Christmas is a big day and we will pray for the grieved families,” he said.
“Even if some don't consider us as equal citizens of the state, we will still do our part for the betterment of the society.”
"It has always been our practice to share the pain of the people we live with, and tomorrow on Christmas, we will pray for a peaceful Pakistan."

Video report - Christmas shoppers hit Paris luxury stores in last-minute rush

China - Xinjiang counties identify 75 forms of religious extremism

Calling officials traitors, quitting alcohol seen as warning signs in brochure

Some areas of China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region plagued by increasingly frequent terrorist attacks have recently begun to distribute brochures meant to educate the public on how to identify extreme religious activities, and advise them to call police if they observe any telltale signs.

Authorities in Bole, located in the northwest of Xinjiang, recently had social workers study the brochure, which lists 75 specific forms of extreme religious activities, reported the news portal

The brochure describes the major advocates of extreme religious activities and some of their behavioral markers.

According to the brochure, religious extremists usually exhibit abnormal behaviors vis-à-vis traditional customs and the current legal system.

For example, acts that reject local-level officials and Party members as "heretics" or "religious traitors" could be seen as a sign of extreme religious activities, said the brochure.

It also said that intentionally expanding the definition of "Muslim," pushing others to drop smoking and alcohol use for religious reasons, or boycotting normal commercial activities as "not halal" could be seen as signs of possible extreme religious activities.

A decision to drop out of school to study religion, or an entire family suddenly deciding leave home or move their household registration for no apparent reasons were two other possible signs.

Other parts of Xinjiang besides Bole have taken similar steps to educate local residents.

A police officer in Shanshan county, administered by the city of Turpan, told the Global Times that his department began distributing brochures to local residents in June with the cooperation of local governments.

"Similar brochures were also disseminated in other counties. As Xinjiang is facing tough problems with stability, local governments are trying to find various ways to tell residents how to identify extreme religious activities," a citizen in southern Xinjiang's Hotan, surnamed Sun, told the Global Times. Sun was in charge of illustrating similar brochures for Luopu county.

Sun said that contents of the brochures identify legal religious activities and extreme religions behaviors, as well as the harm they can cause.

"All the examples were from real cases," said Sun, adding that his county has seen some residents begin to actively file reports. 

As terrorist attacks on authorities and civilians have increased during the past few years in Xinjiang, local authorities and scholars have also seen a rise in religious extremism. Some members of local ethnic minorities have been told by religious extremists not to smile at weddings or cry at funerals. Some extremists have even classified grapes into halal or non-halal, according to a report in the Xinjiang Metropolis Daily newspaper.

Local governments have done their utmost to encourage the region's Uyghur ethnic minority to eschew religious extremism.

"Apart from brochures, entertainment activities like dancing competition were held in Luopu as a part of getting rid of religious extremist ideas," Niu Changzhen, an official who works in Hotan, told the Global Times, adding that local residents were passionate about such activities.

"The brochures have been spread around Xinjiang and have even made it to Gansu and Qinghai provinces," an anonymous police officer from Xinjiang told the Global Times.

The police officer said that he expects the brochures to catch on throughout China, as there is a tendency toward extremism in Muslim populations nationwide.

"The brochures aim to provide guidance and references for members of the public wishing to file a report about extreme religious activities, in an effort to encourage more people to offer information on suspicious activities," Turgunjun Tursun, a research fellow at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

However, Tursun warned that some of the definitions, particularly those related to smoking, are not clear enough and may be biased, which may not be well-received by local ethnic minority members. 

What does an improvement in the US-Cuba relationship mean?

The US and Cuba have agreed to restore diplomatic relationsin a move to bring an end tomore than half a century of estrangement between the two countriesThe Cubangovernment set free a U.Scontractor who had been charged with illegally importingcommunications equipmentThe U.Sreleased five Cuban agents who had beenimprisoned in U.Sjails for 16 yearsWhat does this improving US-Cuba relationshipmean?
All the US efforts to overthrow the Communist regime of Cuba were in vainThe U.Shastaken a hostile attitude to Cuba since the victory of the Cuban Revolution in 1959. The U.S.also severed its diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1961. In 1962, the U.Sslapped a tradeembargo on Cubawhich has now lasted for more than 50 years.
The blockade and sanctions on Cuba implemented by the U.Scaused huge losses to theU.Sas well as to CubaIt sealed off the Cuban market to US companiesand underminedUS influence in Latin America.
The U.Sis now attempting to improve its relations with Latin AmericaIt announced thatthe era of Monroeism had ended last yearwhich helped to ease US-Cuba relationsIn atelevised addressUS president Barak Obama said that US policy towards Cuba wasestranging the US from Latin American countries and limiting US influence.

Ignoring 'Cold War II' Won't Make It Go Away

Of course, we could split hairs and ask: Are we on the brink of a new Cold War? Has a second Cold War already started? Did the first Cold War ever end? In my opinion, that is not the main point. The simple fact that we are even asking such questions is far more important because it means that, regardless of which answer you choose, the situation has gotten bad for absolutely everyone.
However, it seems that some people still don't realize the seriousness of the situation. A Russian friend who relocated to London a few years ago responded to a comment I made on Facebook concerning the start of the Cold War. With self-satisfied irony he wrote: "To be honest, the West does not really care much about Russia."
How strange! Of course, it is very possible that his British neighbors and friends are too preoccupied with their house, lawn, car, children, dentist, etc. to worry about a Cold War with Russia.
But what will happen tomorrow when the average Westerner finally realizes that his whole life — his house, children, car and even his dentist — is under threat? What thoughts will run through his head when he comes to understand that the politicians he elected behaved in such an unfriendly way toward Russia that the Russian politicians elected by the people of this country made equally unfriendly moves in response? And that everything simply went downhill from there?
Things are not all black yet, but the world has clearly entered a sort of twilight state. In fact, some observers argue that a new Cold War could turn out to be more hazardous than the first. One such expert is Stephen F. Cohen, who wrote in The Nation that "This Cold War — its epicenter on Russia's borders; undertaken amid inflammatory American, Russian and Ukrainian media misinformation; and unfolding without the stabilizing practices that prevented disasters during the preceding Cold War — may be even more perilous."
Ordinary citizens remain calm because of the simple fact that they typically do not know the full picture — nor do they try to know it. It is easier to live that way. Just the same, it is time to wake up and recognize what is happening. This is no Hollywood blockbuster unfolding outside our windows, but a force majeure of international proportions. True, it is not the first that the world has experienced, but knowing what hardships previous conflicts have brought to mankind should motivate us to try to prevent any more from occurring.
In fact, the world began living under the real threat of nuclear war long before the Cuban Missile Crisis, although that confrontation was one of the most dangerous moments of the first Cold War. And fortunately for mankind, sensible politicians always emerged who could put a stop to the ambitions of the warmongers.
Former U.S. General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower knew firsthand the horrors of war — unlike the hawks in his administration. When he grew tired of their frequent calls to use nuclear weapons against the Soviet Union, Eisenhower resorted to black humor, once quipping: "You can't have this kind of war. There just aren't enough bulldozers to scrape the bodies off the streets." Later, then-U.S. President John F. Kennedy had to fight his own battles against Washington hawks. Where is the guarantee that today's generation of nano-politicians will exhibit the same good sense?
Of course, both sides in the Cold War had their own share of reckless adventurists. Take, for example, Soviet Marshal Rodion Malinovsky, who, in the heat of the Cuban Missile Crisis, gave orders to Rear Admiral Leonid Rybalko — who commanded four Soviet submarines, each carrying nuclear-tipped torpedoes — that, in the event of a U.S. naval attack, the individual submarine commanders could launch the weapons at their own discretion.
The following true story provides evidence of the danger inherent in such situations. On Oct. 27, 1962, when the U.S.-Russian crisis was already quieting down, one of those four Soviet submarines carrying nuclear-tipped torpedoes — the B-059, commanded by Valentin Savitsky — slowly rose to the surface as the crew of the nearby U.S.S. Cony, a destroyer, looked on in interest.
Then more U.S. naval vessels cruised into range, one even greeting the Russians with a jazz band. The U.S. soldiers asked if they could help the Russians in some way. Savitsky initially declined any assistance, but said the next day that he would be obliged to them for some cigarettes and fresh bread. As they grew closer still, the Russian and U.S. servicemen even began tying a cable bridge between their vessels.
For several hours the U.S. cruiser and Soviet submarine remained on friendly terms in close proximity. Everything was relaxed and peaceful until, sometime after nightfall, a U.S. plane appeared out of nowhere and dropped several incendiary devices without warning, apparently to provide light to better photograph the sub.
By the time the eyes of the U.S. officers aboard the destroyer readjusted to the darkness, they saw to their horror that the Soviet submarine was now pointing its nose and torpedo tubes directly at them. The commander of the Cony rushed to apologize to Savitsky for the idiotic airplane pilot.
Today's generation owes a debt of gratitude to Savitsky for not losing his nerve in such a tense situation. What if he had panicked and fired his torpedoes?
Now my friend tells me that Westerners do not care much about Russia. Well, it would make more sense if both Westerners and Russians woke up and faced the mounting threat. Otherwise, they risk waking up to a truly unimaginable disaster later.

Ukraine ascension to NATO would end Russia-NATO ties – Moscow

If Ukraine were accepted as a NATO member, it would end any relations between the alliance and Moscow, the Russian Defense Ministry warned. Kiev revoked a long-time non-alliance stance and is seeking NATO membership under the post-coup government.
The threat was voiced by Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov on Wednesday a day after the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada adopted a law, which allows Ukraine to become part of a military bloc.

“So far the Ukrainian parliament’s decision to abandon its non-alignment status does not threaten Russia’s security. It’s a political decision. But if in the future this decision leads to military aspects, namely joining NATO, we will react accordingly. Then we will have absolutely all ties with NATO severed, and such a rift would be virtually impossible to mend,” he said.

Antonov reiterated Moscow’s concern with increased NATO presence close to Russian borders. The alliance claims that the military boost in Eastern Europe is needed to counter what it perceives as Russian aggressive stance amid the Ukrainian crisis.
Russia sees NATO’s actions as provocative and anti-Russian.
“Our special concern is the continued training of crews from non-nuclear NATO members in piloting of nuclear-capable aircraft and the inclusion of new countries like Poland into this process,” Antonov said.
Ukraine is seeking NATO membership to receive help in its fight against rebel forces in the east. Kiev says the rebels are a form of Russian aggression and that Ukraine needs NATO’s protection from Moscow.
NATO insists that joining it is a sovereign decision by any applying nation and that it will not take Russia’s concerns into consideration when making a decision on any such application.
But Ukraine is unlikely to join the alliance anytime soon, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said following the new law’s adoption. Kiev would have to settle its territorial disputes and conduct a thorough overhaul of its military and entire governance system before having a feasible chance of joining NATO, he said.
Kiev itself estimates that it would take six years for the required reforms to take place. Until then it seeks the status of ‘key NATO ally’.

The alliance this year doubled flights of both tactical and reconnaissance aviation close to Russia’s border, Antonov said. The Russian military recorded 3,000 tactical sorties and 480 reconnaissance flights over the Baltic and Barents Seas in 2014. NATO has also deployed more tanks in Eastern Europe.

Pakistan: Quetta: Blast in shop on Prince Road kills 2, injures 27 locals

As many as 27 people on Wednesday have been injured in a blast that happened in a shop on the Prince Road.
According to the details, as many as four motorcycles, four cars and a three-wheeler have been destroyed in the blast.
The blast echoed to the far ranges which triggered a sense of fear in the residents of the area.
According to the source, Prince Road is a commercial area and it was rushy when the blast happened. However, the law enforcement agencies and rescue teams along with the bomb disposal squad reached the spot after learning about the news.
The injured were shifted to a nearby hospital through ambulances where they are under treatment.
The law enforcement agencies have bordered the area to search and get hold of proofs and started the relief activities. 

Pakistan - Six armed men threaten Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo

Six armed men threatened Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo near the residence of Mian Ghulam Ahmed Bodla, Chak Bhako Shah, District Okara, last night. On this, the guards of Mian Ghulam Ahmed Bodl intervened that led to intense firings.
Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo taking the cover of firing took the alternate way out and got out from there safe and sound.
According to him, a four-wheeler dropped the six armed men near the residence of Mian Ghulam Ahmed Bodla and drove it away immediately after dropping them.
Local administration has been informed about the incident.

Afghanistan - Govt has no will to name cabinet

Wolesi Jirga members on Wednesday lambasted the unity government lacked the political will and determination to introduce a new cabinet involving committed and qualified individuals.
After being sworn in on Sept 29, both President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah had promised they would unveil the cabinet within 45 days, a deadline they failed to meet.
Lower house member from Kabul Zakria told a general session the people of Afghanistan had reached the conclusion the new government lacked the political will to promote good governance.
He strongly criticised the government for failing to announce the cabinet in three months. The lawmaker said the government should make it clear to the masses it was afraid of powerful individuals and could not introduce the cabinet.
“Or that it (the government) wants to play with people’s will. Leaders of the government must visit ministries and see what atrocities acting officials are meting out to the poor Afghans,” Zakria observed.
His colleague from western Faryab province, Bashir Ahmad Tanj, also criticised the delay in cabinet formation and said: “This patience will be acceptable to the people if the government forms an experienced cabinet uninfluenced by political groups and other factions.”
Tanj believed if the security sector ministries were distributed between the two campaigns, there would be confrontation in various matters and as a result, problems would be created for the people.
Ghulam Farooq Majrooh from western Herat province also said the government lacked a strong will to introduce cabinet nominees and had disheartened the masses.
“The masses braved hundreds of threats and voted for a developed and stable Afghanistan, but this government gave them hostility in return instead of goodwill.”
He said nothing had been done for the wellbeing of the people after the new government’s formation. The MPs insisted the government should introduce the cabinet composed of expert, truthful and clean people at the earliest.
Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi said the government should respect the august house and law and should introduce cabinet nominees for a vote of confidence.
“I once again address the honourable president and chief executive to introduce the cabinet and stop testing people’s patience.” Ibrahimi said the government must put an end to the problems being created for people by acting officials.
The lower house had previously given the government a week’s time to introduce the cabinet and had warned of a unilateral decision if the nominees were not sent to the house until Saturday.

Pakistan is Still Not Ready to Root Out Terrorism


If there is anything approaching a silver lining in the horrific slaughter of 132 school children in Peshawar, it is the united outrage in Pakistan against Tehreek-e-Taliban (or the Pakistan Taliban) that perpetrated this gruesome attack. Virtually every newspaper in the country — left, right, and center — demanded that the Pakistani establishment declare a "zero tolerance" policy toward all Islamist terrorists, no ifs, ands, or buts.
Pakistan's largest English-language newspaper, The News, asked Pakistanis to think about what support for Islamist extremists has done to them. "Nothing matters more than ending the militancy and brutality it has brought to our society." Dawn, Pakistan's oldest newspaper, editorialized that military and counterterrorism operations will amount to "little more than firefighting unless there's an attempt to attack the ideological roots of militancy and societal reach of militants." The liberalDaily Times demanded a "chapter-turning decision" that brings a "final end to this terror."
But the most scathing was The Nation, which excoriated Pakistani leaders by name, reserving special scorn for Gen. Raheel Sharif, a bold move given that the terrorists had deliberately targeted an army-run school, and that many of the kids killed at point-blank range came from army families, as did the school principal, who was torched alive. "The country is reaping what it [the army] has sown over decades," the newspaper deplored.
This is absolutely correct. But the problem is that the mindset that sowed this poisonous fruit will make it difficult to root it out. Hence, these newspapers' noble calls are unlikely to be heeded.
Regimes change course only when the cost of maintaining the status quo exceeds the cost of enacting change. This is not to minimize the cost of scores of innocent young lives. But to Pakistan's political leaders, the price of these children's lives is still lower than the toll of a veritable civil war with an intelligence service that has long played footsie with extremist groups it finds geopolitically useful.
Ever since its inception over six decades ago, Pakistan has been obsessed with countering its neighbor, India. Some fear is obviously warranted given that nuclear-armed India is six times bigger in both size and population, and its predominantly Hindu population has no love lost for Pakistan. But Pakistan's fears have taken almost pathological proportions. And India's secular democracy has done a relatively decent job of keeping its own belligerence in check (even when the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has been in power, although the jury is out on the party's current prime minister, Narendra Modi, who has a track record of tolerating anti-Muslim violence).
Thanks partly to exaggerated fears about India, Pakistan has built its army and its intelligence arm, the Inter-Intelligence Service (ISI), into all-powerful entities that are scarcely answerable to civilian rulers. Indeed, no Pakistani government can survive without their support. The army and ISI know it, and demand free rein over the nation's foreign and defense priorities.
They threw in Pakistan's lot with America during the Cold War not because they appreciated American democracy and freedom, but simply as a counterweight to India's alliance with the Soviet Union. But after the U.S.-backed Afghani guerrillas defeated Russian forces in the 1980s, Pakistan helped the Taliban defeat its rivals and take control rather than allowing Kabul to return to secular monarchical rule, lest it ally with India. Furthermore, although Pakistan denies it, ISI has colluded with the Taliban to train and arm Islamist terrorist groups to conduct a proxy war in Kashmir, the Muslim-dominated border state that Pakistan wants to wrest out of India's control.
This is also why it was vital for ISI to reinstate the Taliban in Afghanistan after NATO forces toppled the group in the wake of 9/11. Even though the Taliban had become a pariah in the world thanks to its retrograde ideology and harboring of al Qaeda, ISI offered it sanctuary, training, camps, expertise, and fundraising advise. "ISI support was critical to the survival and revival of the Taliban after 9/11," notes the Brooking Institute's Bruce Riedel, "just as it was critical to its conquest of Afghanistan in the 1990s."
ISI even allowed a rump group of Pashtun Taliban fighters driven out of Afghanistan by American forces to settle in North Waziristan and open a Pakistani chapter. Since then, however, this group has chafed at the ignominy of having to live under Pakistani rule and wants to impose sharia on the whole province — if not all of Pakistan.
Following multiple terrorist attacks, including two particularly deadly assaults against the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad and Pearl Continental in Peshawar — not to mention the shooting of Malala Yousafazi — the Pakistani army finally launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb, or Operation Sword, in June to bring this noxious outfit under control. The Peshawar school attack was its answer to that initiative.
Pakistan's instinct will be to mount more such initiatives to avenge the carnage. But this won't buy the country enduring relief so long as extremists continue to receive aid and comfort from their Afghani overlords, who themselves are under ISI's protection. For example, Mullah Omar, the Taliban ringleader to whom all Taliban chapters swear fealty and on whose head America has a multimillion-dollar bounty, is widely believed to be holed up in Quetta or Karachi with ISI's blessing. ISI is also in bed with the Afghanistan Taliban's right-arm, the Haqqani network, which allegedly runs its jihadi operations in Kashmir.
Pakistan can't rid itself of Islamist terrorists without going after their ISI protectors. However, it is hard to see how the country's civilian rulers — who serve at the pleasure of the army and ISI — can undertake such a task and still survive to tell the tale.
The first thing they would have to do is dial down the India threat and turn their back on the jihadi outfits that have terrorized their neighbor, even if that means defying ISI. That they are far from ready to do so became abundantly clear on Thursday morning, when a Pakistani court handed bailto the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attack.
Enduring periodic mass casualties, even of young children, ultimately might be less politically painful to Pakistani rulers than taking on powerful defense and intelligence interests that thrive on playing "good terrorist" and "bad terrorist." Sadly, Peshawar probably isn't the last tragedy of this scale on Pakistani soil.

Peshawar School tragedy & The Arab Media

By Diana Moukalled

Do Arabs just want Pakistan to be a colony for their hunting expeditions?
When news of the school massacre in Pakistan’s Peshawar first surfaced as breaking news, it appeared exaggerated and unreal. One’s mind is sometimes incapable of believing or rather rejects immediately recognizing that these are facts and that someone has really decided it’s time to collectively murder children in cold blood.

The students of the Peshawar military-run school were not coincidentally targeted. They did not get killed during a battle among fighters but they were the target of the attack and they were thus pursued in their classrooms, under their seats where they tried to hide.

Did the madmen of the Taliban movement really think that murdering these little souls is their way to heaven?

Is there anything worse for a parent to realize that their children’s most important gathering place - i.e. the school - has become their little ones’ graveyard?

Hours passed

The first few minutes and then hours passed as we waited for Arab media outlets to follow up on the Peshawar tragedy considering it’s firstly a humane catastrophe and secondly a Muslim one and it’s thus worthy of dedicating all live feed to report on it.

For some reason, the horrible tragedy in Peshawar failed to interest the Arab media and public opinion as it should have

However, this didn’t happen. We were rather disappointed by the Arabic coverage of the crime and we switched to following up on the incident on the world’s different satellite channels.

Yes, the news was broadcast in Arab news segments, dailies and websites and the degree of interest in the news varied. But what appeared like the general pattern is that the tragedy did not take the attention which such a crime with this amount of drama deserves. It wasn’t only media outlets who didn’t perform their duties on the matter but the general Arab and Muslim public opinion was very cold regarding incident, not to mention lazy and numb. Hashtags on Twitter, for example, did not include the Peshawar school within the trending hashtags. The souls of 150 children killed in the name of Islam did not become material for Arab discussion even as the world all stood in solidarity, dedicated its media outlets coverage to the news and offered its condolences. Some even began to criticize the Western media’s interest in the case and categorized this coverage as targeting Islam.

Horrible tragedy

For some reason, the horrible tragedy of Peshawar students whom the Taliban criminals in Pakistan killed failed to interest the Arab media and public opinion as it should have.

Of course, the reason is not necessarily linked to the massacre but the problem lies in that deep defect within us. We scream and lose our temper over a caricature here and a song there. We, despite this, were not outraged that an organization like Taliban killed dozens of children.

What interprets our weak interest in this tragedy is tragic on its own. There are Muslims who killed Muslims so there’s nothing that interests us here. The murderer must not be Muslim in order for us to be outraged. Perhaps if the murderer had been Muslim and the victims were non-Muslims, we would’ve cared about what happened to Yazidi children or about what happened in the Russian school of Beslan ten years ago.

The stark truth is that those who kill Muslims are themselves Muslims. This is an ironic fact that does not seem to upset us!

Pakistan - 5% Quota For Minorities: Many Are Not Employed Just Because Of Their Christian faith

Reserved share of seats for minorities in government jobs is still like a daydream for minorities in Pakistan. 

According to details, majority of the state offices in Pakistan do not meet with the requirement to reserve quota of 5% of government jobs to religious minorities. A Pakistani rights activist and lawyer claims that he has taken in hand cases of religious discrimination and non-observance of the quota, which is still in effect in Pakistan.
Four years have passed since the federal government approved a 5% job quota for non-Muslims in federal government services, however, the quota remains largely ignored.
 “There are court cases against public offices”, he told Fides, adding “many departments continue to violate this provision”. He went on to say, “Religious minorities in Pakistan are deeply disappointed by the lack of implementation of the provision. The law is not respected and applied because of prejudice and religious discrimination”. He now aims to initiate an awareness drive to create realization of this issue which is causing making the religious minorities in Pakistan pay.
Many, he says, “are not employed just because of their Christian faith”.
In May 2009, the federal cabinet had approved a fixed job quota for non-Muslims largely owing to the tireless efforts of late federal minister for minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti. However, government departments and ministries have a trifling number of non-Muslim staffers despite several years have passed.
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The Taliban Can Threaten Me But I Must Speak Out About Slaughter Of Innocent Kids, Says Amir Khan

Pakistan-born British Boxer Amir Khan has said that he will visit Pakistan to express solidarity with the victims of Peshawar school attack.
Amir Khan to visit Pakistan
Amir Khan to visit Pakistan

According to media reports, Amir Khan told local media that he will visit Pakistan between Christmas and the New Year. He went on to say that he thinks that it’s more important now than ever to go over there. “I think it will send a statement to a lot of people that Amir Khan is going there to make a difference. I want it to be a better country. It’s just a shame – I cannot believe how sick some people are,” he said.
“Talking about this stuff could be threatening for me, but I just want to speak the truth and tell people what is happening is wrong. I would not consider cancelling the trip, you can’t hide away. Look, everything is in God’s hands and you cannot hide away from life. If something is going to happen it will happen. Everything is written for you, I believe, and you just have to go out there and do what you have to do and carry on with your life. You cannot let things like this stop you,” he said.
At this occasion, he said that talking to media about this incident and terrorism could be threatening for him, but he asserted that he merely wanted to speak the truth and tell people what is happening is wrong. Amir recently donated a pair of £30,000 ($47,007) shorts to the Army Public School which was attacked.
Army Public School was attacked n December 16 where 148 were killed and numerous injured. The deceased included 132 school children. This attack has incited
world wide reaction and condemnation.
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Malik Ishaq, notorious ringleader of the proscribed ASWJ (LeJ and Sipah-e-Sahaba) has been released in what appeared another pro-terrorists gesture of the PMLN-led federal and provincial governments.
A provincial review board, comprising three judges of the Lahore High Court, ended detention of Malik Ishaq, ringleader of a banned takfiri terrorist outfit, after the Punjab government opted to withdraw appeal for extension to his confinement.
The Punjab special secretary home and other officials produced Ishaq before the board amid strict security as a heavy police contingent was deployed on the high court premises. The board, comprising Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik, Justice Farrukh Irfan Khan and Justice Abdul Sami Khan, held in-camera proceedings.
The government’s counsel requested the board to extend Ishaq’s detention for further three months in the wake of the Peshawar school massacre. He argued that the release of Ishaq would be a risk to law and order as he was known for delivering hate speeches at religious gatherings.
An insider said Malik Ishaq contested the government’s arguments and government did not provide the proofs of provocative speeches and other heinous crimes of the takfiri ringleader. Then, secretary withdrew the appeal and the board dismissed the appeal as withdrawn, ending the detention of Ishaq.
The review board had, on Sept 25, extended the detention of Ishaq for three months. The government had detained him in July this year under maintenance of public order (MPO) declaring him a risk to the law and order. His detention was due to end on Dec 25.
It was a fixed match between the PMLN’s government and takfiri terrorists because Malik Ishaq and his group’s Chief Ahmed Ludhianvi are allies of the PMLN’s high-profile politicians. Malik Ishaq and Ludhianvi publicly incited Deobandis for pogrom against Shia Muslims. Their Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (ASWJ) claimed responsibility for the Shia genocide in Pakistan. They also killed Sunni Muslims, Christians, and security officials of Punjab province and of armed forces.
Despite the fact that ASWJ, LeJ and Sipah-e-Sahaba, 3 names of one outfit co-led by Ahmed Ludhianvi and Malik Ishaq, are the staunch allies and abettors of takfiri Taliban/TTP and al-Qaeda in Pakistan, PMLN’s government at the Centre and in Punjab paved way for release of Malik Ishaq and has not yet ordered arrest of the mastermind of the takfiri terrorism Ludhianvi.
In the past, Pakistani came to know of electoral adjustments and local-level alliances between the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s party PMLN and the takfiris in Punjab province. Rana Sanaullah was replaced as minister after massacre of Sunni Bralevi supporters of Sunni leader Tahir ul Qadri. Like Sanaullah, his successor as Minister Rana Mashood too was a close ally of banned Sipah-e-Sahaba.
Now, civil society members have tweeted a photo of federal interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan with Ahmed Ludhianvi. That means that PMLN’s federal government and provincial government of largest populated province Punjab both continue their alliance with Ludhianvi, the architect of ongoing takfiri terrorists co-abetted by Malik Ishaq.
Pakistani nation believes that terrorism in Pakistan could not be surmounted as long as PMLN’s pro-takfiri high-profile figures in the federal and provincial governments continue their marriage of convenience with the takfiri ringleaders such as Ludhianvi and Malik Ishaq.

Pakistan - #PeshawarAttack - Path to course correction

By - Yasser Latif Hamdani

Making a break from terrorist and militant organisations is not enough. We must also root out the mindset

It says something about our apathy as a people that it took the deaths of more than 130 children in Peshawar to wake this nation up. This rare moment of national resolve should not be fleeting. We have already paid a heavy price for nothing but a lack of will on the part of the powers that be. So, what needs to be done? The answer is quite clear: end the distinction of good terrorists versus bad terrorists! Accept — to use Hillary Clinton’s analogy — that when you keep snakes in your backyard, they will inevitably bite you. This is a bit of conventional wisdom that is not very common in Pakistan and its immediate environs. Even in India Jarnail Singh Bhindrawala was handpicked by Sanjay Gandhi of the Congress Party to deal a deathblow to the Akalis in Punjab. Bhindrawala went on to become the biggest headache for Indira Gandhi’s government. His death in the wake of Operation Blue Star led to Indira’s own assassination. Tragically, though not as decisively, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s government, through its interior minister, Naseerullah Babar, played with fire by appropriating the Taliban as Pakistan’s best hope in Afghanistan. A spin off of the same Taliban was to assassinate Benazir Bhutto years later. Our circumstances are further muddied with the powerful military establishment that often mistakenly conflates its own imagined strategic interests with that of Pakistan.

It is also important to realise that the enemy is not just the militants waging war against us. Our worst enemy is us. Those who killed Shama and Shahzad may not have been members of a banned outfit but they were part of the same broader issue. Those who persecute Ahmedis, hound them and kill them because of their faith are also the same people. Sectarian differences may separate Mullah Fazlullah and Mumtaz Qadri but make no mistake, both are terrorists and any attempts to distinguish between the two, as is the pattern of Barelvi religious leaders, is also a fraud being played on us. In this, the leaders of the Barelvi sect are no less guilty than Maulvi Abdul Aziz of Lal Masjid. Nor can we have two different standards for innocents in Peshawar and innocents in Mumbai. This should not be our narrative. We should never have produced Kasab and his kind. Kasab was just a boy though; his strings were held by others, others like Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi who are hardly concerned with emotional connections or indeed humanity. Meanwhile, Hafiz Saeed blamed India for Peshawar, he had to. It is a matter of bread and butter. Forget that Umar Khorasani had already jumped in to take the credit for it and has in fact misappropriated a hadith for this purpose. We all know what part of our society is incapable of calling a spade a spade. Tragically, you still find former generals and retired military officials defending Hafiz Saeed as a patriotic Pakistani citizen. Hafiz Saeed, Pakistan’s own Bhindrawala, has only served to weaken the Kashmir cause and bring down Pakistan’s prestige. He has discredited the freedom fighters in Kashmir as extremist terrorists. The legitimate Kashmiri case has been undermined not as much by India as it has been undermined by ‘patriots’ like Hafiz Saeed. Pakistanis should reject such patriots. Our military needs to make a clean break with these fogies.

Making a break from terrorist and militant organisations is not enough. We must also root out the mindset. If we as a nation are serious about dealing a deathblow to terror we also have to take to task organisations calling for violence against minorities. For example, on December 26, 2014, which is a few days away, the Aalmi Khatme-Nabuwat Sargodha, backed by Anjum-e-Tajaran Sargodha (Sargodha Traders Association), plans on attacking the Ahmedis in Rabwah. According to the poster circulated by the said organisation, they intend to decisively put an end to what they view as the “cruel un-Islamic activities” of Ahmedis. Presumably, these cruel un-Islamic activities are that they ‘pose’ as Muslims by praying five times a day. Is the chief minister of Punjab listening? Is the government going to do anything to avert another human tragedy?

Nations make mistakes. We have made our fair share of them. While other nations rectify and embark on a path of course correction, we have, without exception, exacerbated the situation with wrong turn upon wrong turn. They say that a pomegranate tree needs special tending or else the fruit comes out sour. Pakistan is like a pomegranate tree. We have done a terrible job of pruning it and tending to it. Let us, however, not underestimate the power of December 16, 2014. The martyrs in Peshawar have created a new Pakistan with their blood. Today, there is unprecedented unity and resolve in the country to fight and hit back at the enemies of humanity and reason. We saw a glimpse of this when ordinary patriotic citizens of Pakistan took the battle to that terrible specimen, Maulvi Abdul Aziz, and his Masjid-e-Zarar. The burqa cleric sent out a threatening press release that spoke of dire consequences for the protesters outside Lal Masjid. The protesters responded by filing an FIR in the thana (police station) and stayed out in the cold till the FIR was finally registered. Similarly, FIRs have been registered against the burqa cleric all over Pakistan.

It is now up to the leaders, civilian or military, to devise policies that bring Pakistan into the 21st century and ensure that every Pakistani, whatever his or her religion, creed or gender, is a respected citizen of Pakistan living in security and peace. Pakistan must be at peace within and without, at home and abroad. This is the Pakistan we want and it is time the powers that be got that message loud and clear.