Saturday, April 18, 2015

Ariana Grande - Problem ft. Iggy Azalea

Iggy Azalea - Fancy

27 killed as Yemen bombing intensifies, civilians voice terror and despair

364 civilians have been killed in the Saudi-led airstrikes as the poorest country in the Middle East runs out of fuel and water.
Intense bombing by a Saudi-led coalition hit Yemen again on Saturday, three weeks into an air war against Houthi rebels, as Al-Qaeda seized more ground in the chaos amid UN calls for peace.
At least 27 people were killed in the central city of Taiz in clashes between loyalist forces and rebels, as well as Saudi-led coalition air raids, medical sources said.
Residents said the city, a hub of mass anti-government protests in 2011, was rocked by explosions and gunfire overnight as the coalition-backed forces of President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi battled Houthi rebels.
Nineteen rebels, four soldiers of a mechanised army unit loyal to the president and four other pro-Hadi fighters were killed, a medical source told AFP.
Following heavy overnight airstrikes in the north, coalition aircraft also hit the presidential palace in Taiz, the witnesses said.

To the east of the capital Sanaa, columns of smoke rose over an arms depot targeted by warplanes, witnesses said.
The facility belonged to the elite Republican Guard, which remains loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Renegade troops loyal to Saleh are allied with the Houthis, whose sweeping advance forced President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee to Riyadh last month.
The United Nations says hundreds of people have died and thousands of families have fled their homes in the war, which has also killed six Saudi security personnel in border skirmishes.
Saudi-led strikes have allegedly led to the death of 40 refugees at an IDP camp, 33 employees at a dairy factory, nine family members in a village, and three children at a school.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon called for an immediate ceasefire on Friday and began the hunt for a new peace envoy to the  country, where Al-Qaeda is expanding its territory.
Yemen "is in flames," he said on Thursday, calling for an "immediate ceasefire in Yemen by all parties".
His remarks followed the resignation of his envoy Jamal Benomar, who had lost the confidence of Saudi Arabia and its allies. They accused him of being duped by the rebels.
The Moroccan diplomat had been instrumental in negotiating a deal that eased Saleh from office in February 2012 after a year of protests against his three-decades rule.

Fighting damages hospital

Unidentified militia fired on a hospital in southern Yemen that pro-Houthi soldiers had surrounded, in violation of the laws of war, New York-based Human Rights Watch said on Saturday.
Yemeni army forces fighting on behalf of the Houthis surrounded the hospital, in the southern city of Lahej, shutting off the hospital lights, deploying snipers, and stationing a tank at the hospital entrance. Opposing gunmen then carried out attacks beginning on Monday that repeatedly struck the hospital and put medical personnel at grave risk.
The incident is the latest indication that the Houthis are turning to guerilla tactics, analysts say, making them harder to target while increasing the risk of civilians being caught up in the bombing campaign.
As of 14 April, the fighting in Yemen, including airstrikes by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, had killed at least 364 civilians, including at least 84 children, according to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
While Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Washington offered an upbeat assessment this week of the air campaign in Yemen, calling it “very, very successful,” civilians living under bombardment for more than three weeks expressed terror and despair in messages posted online.

China - Silk Road plan 'may take decades'

By Angela Meng

Challenges include terrorism and uncertainty over China's economic growth, says scholar
The threat of terrorist groups and uncertainty over China's future economic growth are some of the challenges facing the nation's New Silk Road initiatives, says a scholar at a Chinese government think tank.
Many factors inside China and beyond had to be considered before the US$40-billion Silk Road infrastructure fund can "break the connectivity bottleneck" in Asia, according to Shi Ze, a senior fellow at the China Institute of International Studies. The concepts of the New Silk Road Economic Belt, which runs from China across Central Asia and Russia to Europe, and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, through the Malacca Strait to India, the Middle East and East Africa were put forward by President Xi Jinping during overseas visits in 2013.
Xi delivered a keynote address last month focusing on China's vision for the initiatives, aimed at improving infrastructure and boosting trade ties in Asia and beyond. Investment will be funded through the Silk Road Fund and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a new international lending institution proposed by China.
Shi said Islamic militants were active in countries in Central Asia such as Turkmenistan and this posed a threat to future investment.
"The road ahead is paved with difficulties. The terrorist organisation Islamic State poses a great threat to the New Silk Road," he said.
President Xi said during his meeting with his Turkmen counterpart Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov last year that the two countries should jointly fight terrorism, separatism and extremism.
The London-based International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence said in a report that an estimated 360 Turkmen fighters had joined Islamic State since 2012.
"Several nations in Central Asia, such as Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, are led by men over the age of 70 so it's not clear who will take over if the older leaders are unable to do so anymore," Shi said.
"This puts many of China's investments in the area at risk."
Shi also questioned if China would have the financial clout to invest heavily in overseas infrastructure projects amid a slowing economy. The country's gross domestic product grew at its slowest rate for six years in the first three months of this year.
"In an ever-changing economy, can China keep a steady growth rate? That's a big question," he said.
Shi said there was also the risk that the United States would not support, or would even oppose, the New Silk Road initiatives to ensure its own influence remained high in Asia.
The United States introduced its own New Silk Road initiative in 2011 to help Afghanistan integrate into the region. The initiative focuses on building a regional energy market, improving trade, transport, customs and border procedures, and business ties.
"Throughout history, China has very rarely come up with large-scale forms of co-operation such as this, so there's some uncertainty," said Shi.
"Through my travels, people have asked, what is the model of co-operation? Do we establish an organisation? What are the set rules?
"There are many challenges and risks, but we shouldn't expect to solve them in a year or two. Maybe it'll take a decade, maybe it'll take a generation."

Did Russia lose Cuba to the Americans?

After the historic meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro in Panama, Russian experts are preoccupied with the question of the Kremlin losing its historic ally in Latin America. 
U.S. President Barack Obama, right, smiles as he looks over towards Cuban President Raul Castro, left, during their historic meeting, at the Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Panama, on April 11, 2015. Photo: AP
The last week's historic meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas in Panama put an end to more than half a century of enmity between the two countries. Back in Russia, many are wondering if the Kremlin could be deprived of an old and time-tested friend and ally.
From the very early 1960s onwards relations between Moscow and Havana were described as “unbreakable and fraternal,” and Cuba itself was referred to as the “Island of Freedom.” The then young Soviet singer (now State Duma MP) Joseph Kobzon, sporting a bona fide Cuban beard, camouflage jacket and replica Kalashnikov, marched briskly back and forth across the stage singing the tellingly titled “Cuba, My Love.”
Today, in the words of well-known columnist Andrei Kolesnikov, Cuba is drifting out of Moscow’s orbit.
“The restoration of diplomatic relations, Cuba’s removal from the list of states sponsoring terrorism, and the sudden bond between the two leaders, who could be father and son (Obama was born a year before the Cuban Missile Crisis), herald the Island of Freedom’s return to the pre-Marxist era,” writes Kolesnikov in the popular online “Russia let Cuba — its ‘historic’ outpost and pirate Soviet base in the Caribbean Sea — slip clean through its fingers.”
But let’s take a closer look. Did Moscow really let Cuba “slip through its fingers”? And if so, let’s try to answer another question: Could Russia have clung on to its ally?
Relations between Russia (previously, the Soviet Union) and Cuba have never followed the accepted norms of political and economic interplay between two sovereign states. From the very outset of Castro’s “barracks socialism,” the relationship was always one of donor and recipient.
Cuba’s economic model was utterly parasitic, and the country could not subsist merely on massive subsidies from Moscow, but needed the handouts to grow indefinitely, be it the purchase of Cuban sugar at ultra-low prices or practically free deliveries of oil, foodstuffs, machinery and equipment.
Moreover, Havana was not accountable to Moscow for its actions. For instance, in 1975 it dispatched an expeditionary force to Angola without informing the Soviet Politburo in advance, only putting Big Brother in the picture post factum.
Eloquent testimony to the lack of any balance in the relationship was Cuba’s decision to re-export Soviet oil at the height of perestroika. Back then the Cuban economy consumed 11 million metric tons of oil per year. Over the period 1987-1989 the Soviet Union delivered an annual amount of 13 million metric tons to the island. The remaining two million Cuba sold on the world market, which represented the country’s main earner in foreign currency. Peru and other Latin American countries were supplied with Russian tractors and civil aircraft that had been delivered gratis to Havana.
The collapse of the Soviet Union put an end to the subsidies, immediately opening up a rift in the “unbreakable” friendship. In 1992, enraged by such “historic injustice,” Fidel Castro, who had never accepted Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika and glasnost, fulminated against the policies of the new Russian government. In several public speeches in Havana, the exalted Cuban leader described Russian cars as “basura” (garbage).
And when the Cuban economy finally picked up after the lean years of the so-called “special period,” thanks mainly to tourism and the emergence of a new sponsor in the shape of Venezuela, the Cuban authorities made it clear that further economic cooperation with Moscow was not a priority.
Deliveries of spare parts for outdated Soviet-made vehicles? Yes, please. Low-interest loans for the purchase of agricultural products? Absolutely. But in return there was no special place for Russia in Cuba’s strategically important sectors, such as the nickel industry and tourism.
In the northeast of the island, where the Soviet Union had once built two nickel plants, the Canadians moved in. New hotels were built by Mexican and Spanish firms. True, two years ago Cuba did seem to express renewed interest in working with Russian oil companies upstream. But experience tells us to remain cautious. For two decades, Soviet experts explored for oil off the Cuban coast, finding a few juicy items along the way, but were then suddenly taken off the case and all their discoveries were handed over to the Mexicans.
Russia-Cuba friendship: Game over?
What will happen to the “unbreakable” friendship when the United States lifts its 50-year economic embargo on Cuba and hundreds of U.S. companies beat a path to the door of the new El Dorado? Russian Latin American experts cannot agree.
“Russia’s interests in Cuba are varied. They are at once economic and — given the worsening relations between Russia and the United States — political,” says Boris Shmelev, head of the Center for Political Studies, Institute of Economics, Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS). “In light of the fact that there is no imminent way out of the impasse, Cuba’s significance for Russia is increasing.”
As the “reset” in relations with the United States has fizzled out over the past few years, Moscow has been trying to incline Cuba to resume military and political ties. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and even President Vladimir Putin have all paid visits to Havana.
 Russian media reported that Russia could reactivate the electronic surveillance station at Lourdes, and start using Cuba as a refueling base for its strategic bombers. But the Cuban authorities turned out to be less acquiescent, and the rumors were debunked by Putin himself. Moreover, in 2008 Moscow failed to persuade Havana to recognize the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. And in their official statements Cuba’s leaders have tiptoed around Moscow’s “special op” in Crimea andevents in southeastern Ukraine.
Starting 2006, when power effectively shifted from Fidel Castro to his younger brother Raul (formally it happened five years later), the Cuban leadership has adopted a highly pragmatic approach.
In this regard, the view of Vladimir Sudarev, deputy director of the RAS Institute of Latin America, appears more balanced, positing that, “If the trade embargo on Cuba is completely lifted and U.S. companies start arriving, Russia will have to operate in a tough competitive environment and risk losing its already established contacts.”
Will Russia really lose Cuba?
But does all this mean that Russia will in fact lose Cuba? It goes without saying that the Cubans are more interested in replacing outdated Russian imports with Western technology. However, the whole of Cuba’s existing transport and other infrastructure is a carbon copy of the Soviet Union’s. And it will take years to disassemble.
Therefore, trade and economic ties between Moscow and Havana may actually thrive, especially given the fact that thousands of Cubans have studied at Soviet and Russian universities and speak Russian.
The only thing that Russian strategists must part with irrevocably is the idea of using Cuba as a “Russian aircraft carrier in America’s backyard.” Havana is so keen to establish good relations with Washington that any talk of strengthening military cooperation with Uncle Sam in the crosshairs is idle chatter.
What’s more, Moscow’s hopes that the 2016 U.S. elections could see Republican hardliners return to power, condemning Cuba to another blockade, are illusory. Indeed, Raul Castro himself has stated that he will vacate the captain’s bridge, whether or not he remains healthy.
If the absence of any ideological component is a precondition for the successful continuation of Russian-Cuban ties, then, however paradoxical it may seem, the emotional element will linger for many years to come. After all, many Cubans, even those who emigrated from the island to the United States, have an undisguised soft spot for Russia.
“When, after studying at flight school in Krasnodar, I returned to Cuba in the late 1980s, the suffocating atmosphere on the island shocked me — the contrast was so striking,” says pilot Orestes Lorenzo, who fled to Miami in 1993. “Gorbachev's perestroika completely changed my view of life and incentivized me to flee the island of captivity.”
“What’s happening on the island now reminds me of perestroika in the Soviet Union,” says Juan Juan Almeida, son of famous Cuban comandante and close Castro ally Juan Almeida Bosque. “I only hope that Cubans learn from [Russia’s] negative experience and can overcome the barbaric stage of wild capitalism.”
Well then, if Cuban exiles in the Sunshine State are nostalgic about Russia, it seems that Soviet ideologists were right about one thing - the friendship really is strong and unbreakable.

Millions Of Yemenis Face Food Insecurity Amidst Escalating Conflict

More than $8 million needed to support farmers during crucial cropping season.

Amidst escalating conflict at a crucial time in the country’s cropping season, almost 11 million people in Yemen are severely food insecure and millions more are at risk of not meeting their basic food needs, FAO said last Wednesday.
According to the organization’s latest assessment, increasing conflict in nearly all major towns across the country is disrupting markets and trade, driving up local food prices and hampering agricultural production, including land preparation and planting for the 2015 maize and sorghum harvests.
10.6 million Yemenis are now severely food insecure, of which 4.8 million are facing “emergency” conditions, suffering from severe lack of food access, very high and increasing malnutrition, and irreversible destruction of livelihoods.
Around 850,000 children are acutely malnourished.
More than half of Yemen’s population – some 16 million out of a total of 26 million— is in need of some form of humanitarian aid and has no access to safe water.
The latest escalation of conflicts is expected to further increase food insecurity in the poverty-stricken country. Paradoxically, some 2.5 million food producers, including farmers, pastoralists, fishermen and agricultural wage labourers, are among those identified as food insecure.
“We are entering a crucial period for crop production in Yemen and now, more than ever, agriculture cannot be an afterthought if we want to prevent more people from becoming food insecure amidst this crisis,” said FAO Representative for Yemen, Salah Hajj Hassan.
Governorates in the far Northwest and South are most severely affected by food insecurity.
Market disruption
In some areas, like the western port city of Hodeidah, food prices have doubled and fuel prices have quadrupled. Further increases are expected as a result of fuel shortages and the impact of civil unrest on imports and transportation networks across Yemen. While agriculture provides the livelihood of nearly two-thirds of Yemenis, the country also relies heavily on imports of staple crops.
At the same time, service infrastructure has collapsed and government safety net programs have been suspended, handing an extra blow to millions of poor households.
Critical work in Yemen
In a very challenging field environment, FAO and partners have since 2014 been working to support local farmers and internally displaced people to strengthen their livelihoods by distributing crop production packages, home gardening kits and fisheries inputs. They have also provided vaccinated poultry and goats for backyard livestock production.
Additional animal vaccination drives and plant health campaigns have helped farmers protect their agricultural assets, such as livestock and trees, from disease and locust threats.
Since 2014, more than 90,000 people (13,450 families) have benefited from these FAO programs. Security conditions permitting, the Organization aims to reach nearly 235,000 people through its 2014-15 response plan for Yemen, but more funding is needed. Currently, only $4 million of the required $12 million have been made available for the livelihood programs.
“Even before fighting intensified this spring, Yemenis were in dire need of support to build up their agricultural production,” said Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, FAO Assistant Director-General for North Africa and the Near East. “The deteriorating situation means we need to double down on our efforts to ensure that as many farmers as possible are able to plant this growing season and strengthen their ability to withstand future shocks.”

Saudis will harvest hatred in Yemen

Iranian president criticizes Saudi Arabia, warns royal family in Riyadh that it will harvest hatred through its airstrike campaign in Yemen and calls Saudi involvement a 'disgrace.'
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is harshly criticizing Saudi Arabia, warning that the Saudi royal family in Riyadh will harvest the hatred it is sowing in Yemen through its airstrike campaign and calling their involvement a 'disgrace.'
Since March 26, the Saudi-led coalition has been attacking Shiite rebels known as Houthis and allied fighters loyal to Yemen's ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Iran supports the rebels but denies providing any military support.
Addressing an army parade in Tehran, Rouhani said killing civilians in Yemen will bring neither power nor pride for Saudi Arabia. His speech was broadcast live on state TV Saturday.

"Other countries must learn from the Revolutionary Guards how to prevent conspiring in the region. We will do everything to achieve peace, stability and security and we will protect the un-protected in Yemen," said Rouhani.

Despite Iran's call for peace, it is being credited for also being involved in the Yemen conflict - but on the opposite side. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the US army has foiled smuggling attempts from Iran to Yemen intended to transfer equipment to Houthi rebel fighters.

The Iranian government continues to deny that it has been helping the Houthi rebels who have caused President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
Meanwhile, Iran presented on Friday a four-point plan to end the conflict that includes humanitarian aid, dialogue and the formation of a broad-based Yemeni unity government after a proposed cease-fire was already rejected by Saudi Arabia.

Top Yemen scholars in the West condemn Saudi Arabia’s war

Ishaan Tharoor

A group of 18 Yemen scholars and experts based in the United States and Britain published an open letter decrying the near month-long Saudi bombing campaign in the country. The letter, whose signatories include academics at Harvard, Oxford and Columbia universities, argued the Saudi-led war "is illegal under international law" and urged American and British officials to push for a U.N. Security Council resolution "demanding an immediate, unconditional ceasefire."
According to the United Nations, more than three weeks of Saudi airstrikes and renewed clashes between rival factions on the ground have led to the deaths of some 750 Yemenis and more than 150,000 being forced to flee their homes.
There are fears of humanitarian catastrophe. "The targets of the campaign include schools, homes, refugee camps, water systems, grain stores and food industries," warns the letter. "This has the potential for appalling harm to ordinary Yemenis as almost no food or medicine can enter."
The Saudi intervention followed the steady collapse of the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who came to power with Saudi backing in 2012. A rebellion led by the Houthis, a Shiite political movement, seized Yemen's capital Sanaa last year. Hadi fled his sanctuary in the southern city of Aden last month as Houthi forces approached and is now in Riyadh.
complex, local conflict has been overshadowed by the narrative of a regional proxy war between Saudi and Iranian interests. The Saudis, as well as Hadi, accuse the Houthis of being Iranian puppets. Some analysts say the connection between Tehran and the Houthis has been exaggerated.
American officials are believed to be displeased with the Saudi action; it's not clear quite what the Saudi endgame is now that a sustained military campaign is underway.
All the while, Yemen is unraveling as both a state and a nation, with a host of militias -- including al-Qaeda's Yemeni wing -- warring over what remains.
The full letter reads as follows:
We write as scholars concerned with Yemen and as residents/nationals of the United Kingdom and the United States. The military attack by Saudi Arabia, backed by the Gulf Cooperation Council states (but not Oman), Egypt, Jordan, Sudan, the UK and above all the US, is into its third week of bombing and blockading Yemen. This military campaign is illegal under international law: None of these states has a case for self-defense. The targets of the campaign include schools, homes, refugee camps, water systems, grain stores and food industries. This has the potential for appalling harm to ordinary Yemenis as almost no food or medicine can enter. Yemen is the poorest country of the Arab world in per capita income, yet rich in cultural plurality and democratic tradition. Rather than contributing to the destruction of the country, the US and UK should support a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate, unconditional ceasefire and use their diplomatic influence to strengthen the sovereignty and self-government of Yemen. As specialists we are more than aware of internal divisions within Yemeni society, but we consider that it is for the Yemenis themselves to be allowed to negotiate a political settlement.
Robert Burrowes, University of Washington
Steve Caton, Harvard University
Sheila Carapico, University of Richmond
Paul Dresch, University of Oxford
Najam Haidar, Barnard College
Helen Lackner
Anne Meneley, Trent University
Brinkley Messick, Columbia University
Flagg Miller, University of California-Davis
Martha Mundy, London School of Economics
Thanos Petouris, SOAS-University of London
Lucine Taminian, The American Academic Research Institute in Iraq
Gabriele vom Bruck, SOAS-University of London
Lisa Wedeen, University of Chicago
Shelagh Weir
John Willis, University of Colorado
Stacey Philbrick Yadav, Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Sami Zubaida, Birkbeck College, London

Russia will work with any elected US president – Putin

Whoever wins the US presidential election in 2016, Russia will work with them, President Vladimir Putin assured. He added that despite the differences the two countries have, they also share many common interests.
“We will work with any American head of state the American people elect. Our cooperation is not with a particular person but with a nation, a big and powerful international player,” the Russian president said in an interview on Saturday, on Rossiya 1 TV.
Among the common interests Russia and US share, according to Putin, are non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, fighting organized crime and terrorism, tackling poverty and other pressing issues.
“We have a common agenda,” he said.

Israeli weapons in Ukraine would cause more deaths

Putin warned that if Israel supplied lethal arms to Ukraine, as some politicians there suggested in retaliation to Russia’s planned delivery of S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran, it would “only cause a new round of hostility. The death toll would rise, but the result would not change.”
“It’s a choice for the Israeli leadership to make, they can do what they see necessary,” he added.
The Russian president also refused to confirm that Russia decided not to supply similar systems to Syria at Israel’s request. Earlier this week, Putin said a deal “with a certain Middle Eastern country” for S-300s was canceled due to Israel’s concern the system would endanger all flights over its territory.
The country in question is widely presumed to be Syria, but Putin refused to confirm it directly.
“I said what I said. That is enough, I believe. Experts know what I am talking about,” he explained.

Times magazine rating applies to Russia, not its president

The leading position in the readers’ rating for Times magazine’s person of the year poll, which Putin won, is not really relevant and describes Russia rather than its leader, the president said in the interview.
“The power of a nation’s leader is measured first and foremost by the economic power and military capability of this nation,” he explained.
“Still I am grateful to the people who showed this respect, not to me – though it’s pleasant as well – but to our country, Russia,” he added.

No comment on recognizing Ukrainian rebels’ republics

Putin refused to comment on whether Russia would recognize the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republic. These are the entities in eastern Ukraine formed after the regions rebelled against the new government in Kiev, after it took power in a violent coup last year. The rebels declared independence from Ukrainian sovereignty, but are not recognized by the international community.
“I wouldn’t speak about it right now. Whatever I say, it may prove to be counterproductive. We will be guided by the realities on the ground,” the president said.
President Putin was speaking to Saturday’s news program anchor Sergey Brilev just days after his annual Q&A marathon.

Presideny Obama's Weekly Address: Climate Change Can No Longer Be Ignored

Ahmad zahir راکړه شراب د سرو لبانو صنم Music Video -

Terrorists are common enemies of Pakistan, Afghanistan: Afghan army chief

While addressing the 132nd passing out parade of Pakistan Military Academy on Saturday, Afghan Army Chief Sher Mohammad Karimi emphasised that Pakistan and Afghanistan must cooperate closely in order to rid the region of the menace of terrorism, said a report published on Radio Pakistan.
General Karimi further said that the region has suffered four decades of war. However, the objective of peace is still achievable. He added that greatest threat for the region is from terrorists and militants who have no religious or moral values and know no boundaries.
He also said that Pakistan and Afghanistan's common enemies are terrorists and both countries must ensure support from the people in order to win the war against these non-state actors.
While talking about the ongoing strategic dialogue between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the army chief expressed optimism and said that it will help achieve peace and stability in the region.
He also lauded the Pakistan Army by mentioning that it is ranked amongst the best armies, adding that he feels proud to attend the passing-out ceremony of Pakistan Army cadets. The army chief also handed out trophies and swords of honour to the outstanding cadets.
Gen Karimi had the distinction of being the first foreign dignitary to be the chief guest at the ceremony, which marks the commissioning of officers on completion of their two-year-long training course at the country’s premier military academy.
The Afghan army chief’s participation as chief guest at the passing out parade of the 132 PMA Long Course signifies a transformation in bilateral relations over the past few months, particularly defence cooperation which once suffered from mutual mistrust.

Pakistan's cyber-crime bill - ''A deeply flawed draft bill''

The National Assembly's Standing Committee on Information Technology, headed by Captain Safdar (retd) - who has no known expertise in IT affairs - approved the draft of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill, 2015, on Thursday, generating a lot of criticism. According to the Internet Service Providers Association as well as Pakistan Software Houses Association representatives, the bill in its present form betrays lack of comprehension of technicalities, finer points of information technology and relevant international law. The purpose of the draft bill is to counter terrorism and extremism as part of the National Action Plan, but it contains several controversial, even ridiculous, provisions that are aimed at curtailing freedom of expression by handing excessive power to the law enforcement agencies to block websites and make arrests without warrants. 

Section 21 of the draft bill, for instance, criminalizes taking "a picture of any person and display[ing] it or distributing it without his consent or knowledge in a manner that harms a person." Only the Minister of State for Information Technology Anusha Rehman or Captain Safdar can explain what this particular provision has got to do with NAP. What is obvious is that it is intended to deny social media users the democratic right to satirize public personalities. Also, sending an email or message without a recipient's permission is to become an offence even though spam is not a criminal offense anywhere in the world. Another provision of the same section seeks to criminalize communication that is obscene, vulgar, contemptuous or indecent, immoral, etc, without defining these attributes that hold different meanings for different people. The draft bill also gives the government the authority to block any website in the interest of "the glory of Islam, or the integrity security of defence of Pakistan, or any part thereof, friendly relations with foreign states..." Defining glory of Islam, again is a relative matter. The reference to 'friendly states' suggests all those questioning the government policy toward the Gulf states' demand for military support need to be silenced. The draft law gives the government arbitrary powers to block any website or punish any user of a social media platform. It is obvious that whosoever drafted the bill is aware of neither democratic imperatives nor knowledge of international laws concerning cybercrime. 

In a glaring contradiction, the draft also says "nothing [contained herein] shall apply to anything aired by the broadcast media or distribution service licensed under Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority Ordinance, 2002." As it is, the traditional broadcast and the print media have the same rights vis-à-vis freedom of expression as any citizen of the state. The same applies to the social media. Apparently, most of the PML-N members of the committee - 14 out of the 20 members - went along with the deeply flawed draft bill because they did not want to offend the influential chairman of the NA standing committee. Five of the six opposition members absented themselves from the final meeting having complained earlier that they were not provided copies of the bill for a proper review. There is reason for optimism that when the draft is presented before the full house for discussion the illogical provisions will be thrown out. 

Pakistan - Weapon licenses issued in big numbers in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa since PTI reign

As many as 161,441 arms licenses have been issued across 25 district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) since Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government assumed power after the May 2013 general elections.
The Home and Tribal Affairs department expressed its inability to produce names of license holders and other details, saying producing a single copy of this data would cost Rs 163,000 and production of 250 sets of data for the K-P assembly would cost the department a whopping Rs40 million.
The statement comes after Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) lawmaker Sobia Shahid said that the tribal affairs department does not issue individual licenses; rather, deputy commissioners issue licenses of non-prohibited weapons.
The department said that it was ready to show the data to the member in case she was interested.
District wise details
District wise breakup for the province shows that the most number of licenses, were issued in Bannu district, coming up to about 66,000, followed by Peshawar with 11,642 licenses.
Kohat came in third with 8,009 licenses.
District wise numbers show that Mardan had 7,721, Swat 6,452, Karak 5,584, Charsadda 5,285, Swabi 5,705, Dir Lower 5,380 and Manshera had 4,566 licenses issued.
Malakand got 3,218 arms’ licenses, Dera Ismail Khan 2,836, Battagram 1,541, Abbotabad 3471, Nowshera 2,429, Kohistan 1,103, Haripur 4,221, Torghar 1,263, Lakki Marwat  3,679, Shangla 2,902, Tank 2,485, Hangu 1,763 and Buner got 2,883 licenses.
Chitral and Upper Dir stood at the bottom of the list with 213 and 970 arms license issued during the period.

Pakistan - Shooting Of Debra Lobo - Hate Crimes

Attacks on minorities are increasingly on the rise. Incidents such as Badami Bagh, the church blast in Peshawar, Kot Radha Kishan incident and the persecution of Ahmadis have hurt Pakistan’s people and reputation. The shooting of a US academic in Karachi, Debra Lobo, is another incident of religious hate targeting innocents. The incident has to make Pakistanis look into their own hypocrisy. Shooting at someone for being American, is no different from hate crimes that Muslims face in western countries. The same protections, and change in discourse, that is demanded of Western nations, with regards to Muslim immigrants, must also be demanded of ourselves.
Lobo is an Assistant Professor of Community Health at Jinnah Medical and Dental College and highly praised by her colleagues and students for her contribution to her field. She is not the first academic in Karachi to fall victim to religiously motivated hate crimes. Not only does discourse have to change so that minorities and foreigners feel safe in Pakistan, but there has to be respect for professionals belonging to the health and education sectors. Pakistan cannot develop if militants on bikes keep shooting at polio workers, and keep murdering doctors and teachers. The mindset has to change, so that the doctor and the teacher are as revered in society as is an Imam or a military man. As a nation we sit in silent agreement when those like Hafiz Saeed declared war on all kafirs, but when a teacher is killed, there is no sympathy, but the view that the crime against her has garnered too much media attention because she was from the US.
A leaflet found near the crime scene said ‘we will burn America’ and that the attack was to avenge the recent killing of five militants in an ‘encounter’ in Keamari area. The Rangers had killed the five militants linked with the outlawed Al Qaeda and the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan in Keamari on April 8 in an alleged encounter. Lobo had nothing to do with this operation, and yet, she fights for her life. The attack on Lobo much be vocally condemned because revenge could be taken on any one of us. We are all minorities, in one way or another.

IS claims responsibility for deadly Afghan bombing: President Ghani

The Islamic State (IS) group claimed to have carried out a deadly suicide attack in eastern Afghanistan Saturday that killed at least 33 people and injured more than 100, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said, in what, if verified, would be the first major attack claimed by the militant group in the country.
“Who claimed responsibility for horrific attack in Nangarhar today? The Taliban did not claim responsibility for the attack, Daesh (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack,” President Ghani said on a visit to northeastern Badakhshan province.
A person purporting to be an IS spokesman said in a call to AFP that the group claimed responsibility for the bombing outside a bank in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad.
An online posting allegedly from the group made the same claim, which could not be immediately verified.
“Thirty-three dead bodies and more than 100 wounded were brought to the hospital,” Dr Najeebullah Kamawal, head of the provincial hospital, told AFP.
Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, a provincial government spokesman, confirmed the attack — the deadliest since November.
“The explosion happened outside the bank when government employees and civilians were collecting their monthly salaries,” he told AFP.
The UN gave a higher toll, saying 35 people had been killed.
President Ghani strongly condemned the attack, which saw children among those killed, his office said in a statement.
“Carrying out terrorist attacks in cities and public places are the most cowardly acts of terror by terrorists targeting innocent civilians,” President Ghani said.
The scene of the attack showed the gruesome scale of the carnage with people lying in pools of blood and body parts scattered across the ground.
The bombing comes as Afghanistan braces for what is expected to be a bloody push by the Taliban at the start of the fighting season.
However, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied responsibility.
The militants have stepped up attacks on government and foreign targets since Washington backpedalled on plans to shrink the US force in Afghanistan this year by nearly half.
The Taliban have seen defections to IS in recent months, with some insurgents voicing their disaffection with their one-eyed supreme leader Mullah Omar, who has not been seen since the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan.
The Afghan government has also raised the ominous prospect of IS making inroads into the country, though the group that has captured swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq has never formally acknowledged having a presence in Afghanistan.