Saturday, February 14, 2015

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Bahrain Activists Rally, Burn Tires on Uprising Anniversary

Protesters took to the streets in predominantly Shiite areas of Bahrain and set tires alight along a major highway Saturday to mark the fourth anniversary of widespread protests calling for reform in the tiny island nation.
The demonstrations commemorate the start of Arab Spring-inspired protests on Feb. 14, 2011, dominated by the country's Shiite majority that sought greater political rights from the Western-allied Sunni monarchy.
Authorities crushed the protests within weeks after getting help from Saudi and Emirati security forces. But repeated rounds of dialogue talks between the government and the opposition have failed to resolve the deadlock.
Pearl Square, the focal point for the protest movement in the capital, Manama, was bulldozed as part of the initial crackdown and remains sealed off.
In largely Shiite areas on the capital's outskirts, young activists armed with rocks and gasoline bombs frequently block roads and fight police. Some have planted bombs that have killed police.
Several prominent opposition activists are in prison, face trial or have fled.
Among those behind bars is Shiite cleric Ali Salman, the head of Bahrain's leading Shiite opposition group, al-Wefaq, which led a boycott of November's parliamentary election. He faces charges of incitement to forcibly topple the government. He has denied the allegations.
Many Bahrainis say they feel increasingly disillusioned.
"Young people deserve to have alternative solutions for the political crisis in Bahrain," nursery school teacher Najeeba Sayed Fadhel said. "I still feel voiceless and without rights."
Saturday's protests were far smaller than those of the early days of the protest movement. Opposition activists cannot gather in large groups because security forces use checkpoints, tear gas and other methods to prevent them from getting on major highways.
Authorities earlier in the week warned Bahrainis to stay away "from activities that could negatively affect security or general order" and said those who engage in violence will be held accountable.
The country is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, and is part of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State militant group.

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Gunfire targets debate on Islam, free speech in Copenhagen

 Unidentified assailants Saturday fired on a building in Copenhagen where a debate on Islam and free speech was being held, the French ambassdor to Denmark told AFP from inside the venue.
"They fired on us from the outside. It was the same intention as (the January 7 attack on) Charlie Hebdo except they didn't manage to get in," Francois Zimeray said by telephone.
Reports said that Swedish artist Lars Vilks, the author of controversial Prophet Mohammed cartoons published in 2007 that sparked worldwide protests, was also at the debate.
Three police officers were reported wounded outside the building, Danish media reported, quoting eyewitnesses.
Zimeray said earlier on Twitter that he was not harmed.
"Intuitively I would say there were at least 50 gunshots, and the police here are saying 200," he told AFP.
"Bullets went through the doors and everyone threw themselves to the floor. We managed to flee the room, and now we're staying inside because it's still dangerous. The attackers haven't been caught and they could very well still be in the neighbourhood."
A Femen activist, Inna Shevshenko, said on Twitter that there were several dozen people in the room.
Police and security officials declined comment when contacted by AFP.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius condemned the attack, saying in a statement that France "remains by the side of the Danish authorties and people in the fight against terrorism."
Vilks has been under police protection since his 2007 cartoons were published.
The French president's office said Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve was headed to the scene

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Pakistan - 5.2 magnitude earthquake jolts Khyber Pakhutnkhwa

A 5.2 intensity earthquake jolted Khyber Pakhutnkhwa on Saturday (night).
The epicenter of the earthquake was in border area in between Afghanistan and Tajikistan.
According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department the tremors were felt in Malakand, Swat, Peshawar, Bonair, Shangla, Upper and Lower Dir, Shangla, Mansehara Balakot  and others districts of the KP.

Pakistan - PPP Gilgit Baltistan delegation calls on Asif Ali Zardari

A PPP delegation of Gilgit Baltistan (G-B) led by former Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah called on former President Asif Ali Zardari in Bilawal House Saturday afternoon. 
The delegation included among others former Speaker Wazir Baig, former deputy speaker Jamil Ahmad,Muhammad Jafar, Muhammad Ali Akhtar, Jafar Shah, Engineer Ismail, Sadia Danish, Amjad Advocate, Muhammad Musa, Jamil Ahmad, Professor Ghulam Hussain Salim, Mira Jan Mutabiq Shah and Ibadat Wazir . 
Spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the delegation brought to the attention of Co-Chairman and expressed serious reservations over the recent changes made in the G-B Empowerment Order 2009, the arbitrary appointment of a 12-member caretaker cabinet and the latest move paving the way for appointing the federal minister for Kashmir Affairs as Governor G-B in gross violation of the region’s autonomy and placing a question mark over the fairness of the forthcomingpolls. Issues relating to the setting up of Economic Zones as part of the Economic Corridor in Gilgit Baltistan were also discussed during the meeting. 
Responding the former President assured that the Party, in keeping with its past record and tradition, will strive to enhance the region’s autonomy and not allow any attempt to undermine it. He said that the Party will take up the issues raised with the government to redress the grievances of the people. 
Issues relating to the forthcoming elections in Gilgit Baltistan also came under discussion. It was decided during the meeting to appoint a seven member committee to oversee matters relating to elections including award of Party tickets and keep an eye on the fairness of electoral process. 
Headed by former Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf the committee includes as members Khurshid Shah, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Afzal Nadeem Chan and three members from GB whose names will be given by the President PPP former ?Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah. 
Applications from candidates will be invited soon after the announcement of election schedule in G-B, the Spokesperson said.

Pakistan - People do not take tall promises of government seriously any more

People are no more customer of rose petal projection of the government’s tall claims like ‘ river of gold flowing underneath Rajoia, Chinot,’in the wake of its credibility hurt bitterly after its failure to control load shedding in months, said Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo, President Central Punjab PPP in a statement issued from here today.
He was commenting on the discovery of ore and copper near Chinot adding that the leaders went to the extent of exaggerating the size and the nature of the discovery that was really grossly pre-mature.Misplaced and unsubstantiated hopes like ‘game-changer’ prove counter-productive with lamentable consequences in the final analysis, he observed.
He said that it was better to tell the truth to the people than telling them pleasant lies adding the Chief Minister of Punjab should jettison his habit of playing to the gallery keeping in view the irrefutable veracity of the narrative of the diminishing return.
He said that he intended to invite the leaders of the government during the summer season to replicate their way of beating the scorching heat with the hand made fans at Minar-i- Pakistan since almost two years of his government were about to pass and the state of affairs was much worst than the PPP government.
People have formed their considered opinion of the government stemming from the maladies they had been undergoing through since it assumed the reign of the province. The worsening law and order situation has made the lives of the people miserable and they are suffering from the acute sense of insecurity, he stated.
He further stated that the anti-farmers policy of the government were hurting the growers of rice, sugarcane and the potatoes the most who were forced to sell their produces at throw away prices in the absence of the government intervention to save the farmers from the jaws of the market forces controlled by middle man.
He demanded that the government should make payments to the rice growers as per the promise adding inordinate delay in this regard was unforgiving because the farmers were facing the economic genocide situation at present.
He said that the PPP governments had always looked after the community well during its tenures. He reminded that the PPP previous government increased the support price of wheat substantially and the country became wheat exporting country than the wheat importing country during the first year of the government.
He warned that the government the PPP would be compelled to join the farmers’ organizations to protest the tyrannical policies of the government because the Party could not afford to put farmers interests in the periphery because agriculture was the backbone of the country’s economy. It is a big source of foreign exchange earrings and also provide livelihood to the more than two thirds population of the country, he added.

Pakistani Christian asylum seekers on mercy of NGO,s and Churches in Bangkok

Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC have expressed grave concern on substandard polices of UNHCR on providing humanitarian aid to refugees of Palestinian, Syrian, Burmese, Egyptian, Libyan, Afghan, Iranian and Muslims from many other countries but completely ignoring any food, shelter and medical assistance to thousands of Pakistani Christian refugees in Thailand, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, in a press note issued here today from Central Secretariat of PCC.

More than 9,000 Pakistani Christian children, women, men and senior citizens are facing human issues without any shelter, food and medical assistance by UNHCR while same situation is faced by more than 5,000 Pakistani Christians refugees in Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

Many Pakistani Christian refugees in Thailand, Malaysia and Sri Lanka are seriously ill but UNHCR is denying them any medical assistance which have raised questions on International Red Cross and UHHCR.

International Red Cross and UNHCR provide all sorts of humanitarian assistance to Muslim refugees of many countries but silent on needs of Pakistani Christian refugees in South Asia and South East Asian countries from years.

Dr. Nazir Bhatti said “Pakistani Christians are fleeing from homeland after their genocide by Muslim majority and rising violence against them on pretext to blasphemy and other Islamic Sharia law; they are not economic migrants like Muslims refugees from Muslim states”

The Pakistani Christian refugees are forced to beg to different local non-governmental organizations and Churches in Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and in Hong Kong for shelter, food and medical support which is not sufficient and their children are unable to go to schools.

On one hand government of Pakistan is sending their Christian tools in parliament and Churches to Thailand, Sri Lanka and Malaysia to collect information’s of Pakistani Christian refugees and pressing upon relevant governments to harass them and deport them to Pakistan. 

According to PCP reports, on February 8, 2015, Pakistani Christian refugees gathered in Avana Hotel Bangkok which was organized by The Urdu Church in Hands of God headed by Pastor Papa Thongchai and appealed UNHCR to provide them humanitarian aid according to UN Charter. 

The Pakistani Christian refugees also appealed to USA, Canada, Holland, France, Germany, UK, Italia, Denmark, Sweden and Australia to open their doors for persecuted Pakistani Christian refugees as they provided human rights to Muslim refugees.

PCC Chief urged UNHCR and IRC to provide humanitarian aid to Pakistani Christian refugees in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Hong Kong and expedite hearing of their asylum cases according to timeframe of refugee commission charter.

Nazir Bhatti appreciated support by Farrukh Saif Foundation and other NGO and Churches but appealed other International relief groups to step forward also to provide medical assistance to serious patients and education for children of Pakistani Christian refugees.

Pakistan - Polio team goes missing in Zhob

A two-member polio team and its two police escorts went missing from a remote area of Balochistan’s troubled Zhob district on Friday.
“Two polio workers escorted by two constables of the Balochistan Levies left the district headquarters at 11pm to vaccinate children in the Murgha Gibzai area – but they have not reached their destination,” Zhob’s Deputy Commissioner Nazir Ahmed Khetran confirmed toThe Express Tribune.
“It is a remote area. There is no proper communication system. Which is why we are facing difficulty in tracing them,” he said.
Vaccinators often go to the remote areas and return the next day, a Levies official said. However, it is also likely that the polio team might have been kidnapped by militants in Zhob where earlier nine people were seized by Taliban extremists.
The polio team was supposed to conduct a vaccination campaign in Murgha Gibzai, Toda Ghibzai and Barkwal union councils. However, they did not reach their destination even though it is hardly a two-hour drive from the district headquarters.
The missing polio workers have been identified as Samad, driver, and Hameed, vaccinator, and Levies constables as Naseem and Ayub.
Deputy Commissioner Zhob said a team has been sent to trace the missing men.  “I cannot confirm whether they have been kidnapped,” he added.
Zhob is one of the troubled areas of Balochistan which shares borders with the restive Waziristan tribal regions and Afghanistan. Zhob is also one of the ‘high-risk’ areas with regard to polio vaccination.

Pakistan - More carnage

Just two weeks after the attack on an imambargah in Shikarpur, yet another suicide attack at a Shia mosque during Friday prayers, this time in Peshawar, killed 20 people and injured nearly 50 others. These words are easy to say, but behind them hide the multiple tragedies people face when loved ones are killed so unnecessarily as a result of terrorist action. In this case, the Taliban have already claimed responsibility for the attack. The TTP and its allies are obviously a national problem but each attack on Shias serves as a reminder that they bear a particular hatred for the sect. What is clear to the rest of us still hasn’t filtered to the top of the government, which is yet to move meaningfully against specifically anti-Shia groups in the mainstream. It is clear too that the state has limited ability to cope with this menace. After the Peshawar school attack of December 16, the highest level of security was ordered in the city. PM Nawaz Sharif told army chief Raheel Sharif that over 10,000 militants had been detained after the APS attack but we cannot be sure how many of the arrests are meaningful and how much of this is just a PR exercise.

Just a few hours after the attack Nawaz received a briefing on the implementation of the NAP and was told that the admission of foreign students to madressahs would be banned and more cases would be sent to military courts. After the Hayatabad tragedy, though, such measures seem to be too small-scale to be effective. Mushtaq Ghani, a minister of the ruling PTI in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, demanded that the entire Frontier Constabulary be returned from other parts of the country to the province. While it is true that the FC was set up to guard the border between KP and the tribal areas and that is has deviated from this mission by providing security to VIPs, this idea once again will be of limited use. The TTP and other militant groups have extended their tentacles to the rest of the country and have a significant militant presence everywhere. This is also why Operation Zarb-e-Azb alone, no matter how successful it may be, is not the final answer to the militant problem. We have tried other approaches, with Raheel Sharif recently explaining how he is constantly working with Afghanistan to have Mullah Fazlullah and other TTP leaders extradited to Pakistan. The threat we face is very real and has grown into a bigger monster. We need to take drastic action if we are to tame it. But with every new, sadly predictable, attack there is less and less confidence in the government’s ability to keep us safe. 

Pakistan's Shia Genocide - Sectarian attack

ANOTHER week, another sectarian attack, yet another attack in Peshawar. While no one expected the state to shut down the militancy complex and suppress terrorism in a matter of weeks, what yesterday’s attack in Peshawar seems to have underlined is that the state strategy in the fight against militancy is inadequate and not wide-ranging enough.
There are at least two points to be made here.
First, the sectarian equation. From Shikarpur to Peshawar, militants have struck against Shias and their places of worship seemingly at will, indicating that yet another front in the militancy wars is once again being aggressively pursued.
While not all militant groups are avowedly and determinedly sectarian, it is nevertheless true that practically all operating here have a sectarian strain.
The failure of the state was in not giving priority to stemming the growth of avowedly sectarian militant groups — the longer those particular groups have been allowed to operate with near impunity, the more it seems to have encouraged other militant outfits to focus on their sectarian agendas.
It is still not too late. The country, despite grievous blows to the Shia community in recent years, is not on the verge of a full-blown sectarian civil war. But if fighting sectarianism is not made a priority now, the implosion in parts of the Middle East is a haunting reminder of how quickly and irreversibly matters can get out of control.
The other aspect is Peshawar. Sitting pressed up against the tribal areas and a regional hub for so many trouble spots, the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is a front-line city in the fight against militancy.
As such, it will always be a city militants look to stage attacks in. But it cannot be forgotten that Peshawar is also the administrative and military hub from which the state projects its power in the immediate region. The troops fighting in Fata are commanded from Peshawar.
The writ over KP and Fata is administratively handled from Peshawar. As such, it is a city that has vast resources and from where both the civil and military arms of the state have over the years learned how to work in cooperation with each other to help secure it.
In essence, then, why are such large groups of militants, as in the case of the Army Public School attack and now the Shia mosque, still able to so easily penetrate high-security sites in Peshawar?
Surely, that is not too much to ask for — that droves of militants not arrive at their targets undetected from where they proceed to deliver yet another blow to the national psyche?
Something is wrong here and neither the military nor the civilian, provincial and federal, leadership is willing to admit it.
The enemy is proving to be more resilient and smarter than the state that is purporting to fight it.

Pakistan - Shia Genocide

On Friday, one of the attackers at the Peshawar imarbargah was tackled by the people when he tried to detonate his explosives. We are a brave people, but fundamentalism is killing us one by one. Three suicide bombers entered the mosque while only one was able to blow himself up. This is the third mass killing of Shias since 2015. At least 23 Shia pilgrims died and seven were wounded in a gun and suicide attack near the Pakistan-Iran border in Balochistan. On January 30, 2015, over 60 people were killed at a bomb blast at a Shia mosque in Shikarpur with Jundullah claiming responsibility. With more than 30 million Shias, Pakistan has the second largest Shia Muslim population in the world after Iran, followed by India and Iraq. Thanks to a right wing media, as well as death threats by the dozen, we have a silent media. The world is completely oblivious to the genocide of Shia Muslims in Pakistan at the hands of Deobandi terrorist groups.
Genocide might seem like a strong word, but it holds under international definitions. Under the UN Convention on Genocide in 1948, the 127 state signatories undertook to “prevent and punish” genocide, defined as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group”. It is a crime under international law regardless of “whether committed in time of peace or in time of war”. According to the UN Commission of Experts that examined violations of international humanitarian law in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, the law gives the right to states to act alone or call on the UN to take appropriate measures. This is a genocide, as per the definition. It is systematic, and there is intent to destroy a whole group. The UN won’t intervene of course, because Pakistan would need to ask for help or make a move itself. But we are a nation in denial, from the holocaust to the massacres in Bangladesh, genocides are “conspiracies.” Jundullah and TTP coming after Shias? No sir! At the bottom of it all must be an “Indian hand.”
The roots of anti-Shiaism are deep and embedded. While many Sunnis openly condemn terrorism and violence in other cases, in the case of attacks on Shias, there is a ‘but’ bigger than even Maulana Abdul Aziz’s ‘but’ in the case of the Peshawar APS killing. The sad fact is that fifty percent of Sunnis in Pakistan don’t even consider Shias to be Muslim (according to research done by Pew in 2012). Puritanism and Wahabisim has made a deep mark on the development of religion in our society. Once someone is not a Muslim, they are considered kafir, and so, Wajib-ul-Qatal. In response, the Shias continue to be non-violent, and they hide away, like the Ahmadis, Sikhs, Hindus, and anyone else who is not Sunni.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemns attack on Shia mosque in Pakistan

The death toll in the Taliban suicide attack on a crowded minority Shia mosque in Pakistan’s restive northwest rose to 21 on Saturday after an injured person succumbed to his wounds.
Over 50 people were also injured in the attack in which Kalashnikov-wielding Taliban suicide bombers stormed the Imamia Masjid Imambargah in the posh Hayatabad area in Peshawar where worshippers had gathered for the Friday prayers, opening fire and exploding bombs in a revenge attack.
The attack comes exactly two weeks after a suicide bombing inside a packed Shia mosque in Pakistan’s Sindh province during the Friday prayers killed 61 people, including children, in the deadliest sectarian attack to hit the country in recent times.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack and warned that it was the first in a series of revenge attacks. A doctor of Hyatabad Medical Complex confirmed that the death toll had risen to 21 after an injured person succumbed to his wounds.
Taliban spokesman Mohammad Khurasani, while taking responsibility for the attack, said it was a retaliation to the hanging of the militants by the government following the Peshawar school massacre that claimed 150 lives, mostly of students.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the latest mosque attack and promised that militants will be brought to justice. “I think a Zarb-e-Azb-like operations should be launched against the extremists hiding in cities,” he said on Saturday while addressing a gathering of newspapers owners.
Pakistan Army launched Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan in June last and had so far killed more than 1,600 militants. The style of Friday’s attack bore a striking
similarity to the December 16 Peshawar carnage, in which the gunmen arrived in a car, set it on fire and broke into the building using a back entrance.

Pashto Music - زما اشنا راځي - Sardar Ali Takkar