Tuesday, July 21, 2015

ISIL terrorists treated at hospital headed by Erdogan daughter: Nurse

The daughter of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been running a "secret" hospital where wounded ISIL Takfiri militants, who are fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, are treated, a nurse says.
The nurse, who spoke on condition of anonymity, disclosed that the secret military hospital, headed by Sumeyye Erdogan, is located in the southeastern Turkish city of Sanliurfa, Global Research, an independent research and media organization, reported.
The 34-year-old nurse revealed that the hospital provides extended medical care for the wounded Takfiri militants who are transferred from Syria.
The nurse further said she had worked at the hospital for seven weeks, adding, “Almost every day several khaki Turkish military trucks were bringing scores of severely injured, shaggy ISIL rebels to our secret hospital.”
“We had to prepare the operating rooms and help doctors in the following procedures,” she added.
“I was given a generous salary of $7,500, but they were unaware of my religion. The fact is that I adhere to the Alawi faith and since Erdogan took the helm of the country the system shows utter contempt for the Alawi minority,” the nurse added.
She implied that the Turkish government's stance on her faith was the reason for leaving the hospital.
The nurse said that she had seen Erdogan’s daughter several times at the site of the hospital before her decision to leave the medical center. 
The nurse also rued the day she joined the hospital and said she was now afraid of being arrested by the Turkish police and intelligence service. 
Erdogan’s daughter has previously announced her intention to travel to the Iraqi city of Mosul, which is under the siege of the ISIL Takfiri group, to help militants in the city. Iraq has been beset by the acts of terrorism by the Takfiri group since June 2014.
The government of Erdogan has been one of the main supporters of the terrorist groups fighting against the government of Assad since 2011, with reports saying that Ankara actively trains and arms the militants in Syria and facilitates the safe passage of terrorists into the country.
On June 12, Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman also revealed that Ankara allows ISIL terrorists to freely walk in the streets of the Akcakale border district in Sanliurfa.


VOA Interview: Kerry Says Iran Nuclear Deal Will Make World Safer

NYT Editorial - What’s Next for Cuba and the U.S.?

As a neatly pressed Cuban flag was raised outside Cuba’s diplomatic mission in Washington on Monday morning, rancorous cries rang out from the crowd gathered outside the stately limestone building.
“Cuba without Castro!” a hoarse-voiced man yelled. “Long live socialist Cuba!” a woman hollered back.
Bitterly divergent views about the island’s future will persist, and may well become amplified, as Washington and Havana embark on an era of cautious engagement following the formal restoration of diplomatic relations. But that’s to be expected in response to such a historic and difficult change.
For more than five decades, the enmity between the United States and Cuba has dominated the island’s politics, served as a pretext for government repression and shaped the lives of all Cubans in painful ways.
As sworn enemies become uneasy but respectful neighbors, the Cuban government is certain to come under increasing pressure from its citizens. They have long yearned for basic freedoms, like being able to oppose the government without fear, create livelihoods that are not controlled by the state, and have access to technology that allows communication with the rest of the world.
Through careful diplomacy, the Obama administration has done much to support Cubans on the island and allow Cuban-Americans to invest in and reconnect with their native country. Ultimately, Congress will need to lift the trade embargo, a failed policy. There is growing support for bills that would dismantle key parts of it by ending travel restrictions and allowing more types of commerce.
“There is, after all, nothing to be lost — and much to be gained — by encouraging travel between our nations, the free flow of information and ideas, the resumption of commerce and the removal of obstacles that have made it harder for families to visit their loved ones,” Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday as he hosted Bruno Rodríguez, Cuba’s foreign minister, at the State Department.
It would be naïve to expect that the Cuban government, a dynastic police state, will take big steps in the near future to liberalize its centrally planned economy, encourage private enterprise or embrace pluralistic political reforms. In fact, in the face of potentially destabilizing change and high expectations at home, Cuban officials may be tempted to tighten state controls in the short term.
The full normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba will take years and will be an arduous process. Issues that will be hard to resolve include the disposition of American property the Cuban government seized in the 1960s, and the fate of the United States Navy base in Guantánamo Bay, which the Cuban government considers an illegally occupied territory.
At 88, Fidel Castro has become a faint voice in the lives of Cubans. His brother President Raúl Castro, 84, has pledged to step down in 2018. The end of their reign will be another transformational moment in that nation’s history. Until then, some Cubans want to see a flood of foreign investment and a booming private sector. Others worry that a rapid economic transition will erode the socialist principles that have offered ordinary Cubans education and health care superior to that available to millions of impoverished Latin Americans. Some are eager for a multiparty political system with real elections, while others would settle for a more effective, less intrusive government.
These competing visions will be hard to reconcile. But they will eventually have to be debated and resolved among Cubans. In the meantime, altering the image of the United States as an antagonistic neighbor stands to help enormously.

Video Report - Charlize Theron Invited President Obama to a Strip Club

President Obama speaks at VFW Convention in Pittsburgh

Two Pakistani Christian brothers arrested on blasphemy allegations

Two Christian brothers have been arrested on blasphemy allegations after one of them was accused of having disrespectful material on his website.

A case has been registered against Qaisar and Amoon Ayub of Lahore relating to accusations dating back to 2011.

According to Qaisar he closed the account in 2009 but one of his Muslim friends, Shahryar Gill, somehow managed to restore the website, while ownership remained in Qaisar’s Name.

The story goes back to 2010 When Qaisar used to have an overseas employment office in Raja Centre, Lahore.

Qaisar is married to Amina and they have three children, while Amoon is married to Huma who is a teacher at Cathedral School, Lahore. CLAAS got involved in this case when Huma contacted us for legal aid and support.

One day an argument broke out at Qaisar’s office between his friends, when one of them made a comment about another’s sister.

The aggrieved friend blamed to Qaisar and warned him that it is a serious matter in Pakistan. Qaisar started to receive death threats from his friends and then went into hiding. When the situation deteriorated both brothers fled to Singapore without telling their wives, but after a month they returned to Pakistan and then Amoon told his wife the whole story.

The situation was still tense, so they left again in November 2009 for Thailand, in search of security, but couldn’t stay there for too long time and in 2012 went back to Pakistan. Qaisar was informed by one of his friend that the CIA was looking for him and that he could be arrested at any time because a blasphemy case had been registered against him.

On 10 November 2014, while on his way to work at Kids Campus DHA, Amoon was arrested and told that a case had also been registered against his brother. The police asked him about his brother Qaisar and advised Amoon to stay hidden because he was accused under section 109-A PPC.

Qaisar was later arrested and sent to District jail at Jhelum.

Fed up of a miserable life in Pakistan, Amoon finally decided to leave the country, and on November 17, 2014 was arrested by the Immigrant Police at Lahore Airport. Later police sent him to District Jail Jhelum under the same offence with which his brother was.

Huma did all she could to get her husband releases, but she failed. However, she did not lose hope and finally approached CLAAS in June this year for legal aid and support.

Qaisar’s 14-year-old became mentally unwell because of his father’s imprisonment, and CLAAS has arranged treatment for him and is trying its best possible to support both families, but your prayers are equally important.

CLAAS providing both brothers with free legal aid and have visited them in Jhelum, jail. CLAAS is going to apply for their bail once the Eid holidays are over, so please remember CLAAS’s lawyers and the families in your prayers.

Pakistani Christians Facing Increasingly More Persecution Within And Without Pakistan

Persecution on religious grounds is increasing day by day in Pakistan.
According to the Forgotten Missionaries International (FMI), Christians are facing religion based persecution which is boosted by various elements. Bruce Allen from the FMI says: “Christians are experiencing much more persecution in Pakistan.”
“There’s a legitimate fear that the government’s not going to look after these Christians, but actually accelerate persecution. They’re going to other countries in Asia…and yet, they’re finding life is very difficult once they arrive in those countries,” Allen says.
Moreover, “In recent months, Pakistan has re-enacted the death penalty. They had a moratorium on that for a number of years, but now under the guise of ‘we want to seek the death penalty for terrorists, they’ve re-enacted it,” he asserts.
“There are Christians in prison–falsely charged under this blasphemy law, and they’re concerned that they could be put to death,” he claims.
What is heart wrenching that owing to the ever worsening persecution, the religious minorities are fleeing by the thousands. However, they’re escaping from one hell to go into another hell.
As data reveals, more than 100,000 Pakistani Christians have left Pakistan and fled to refugee camps in countries like Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines in the past several years. The UNHCR reveals there are currently, more than 1,400 Pakistani asylum-seekers in Sri Lanka, which is comparatively much higher number as that from 102 asylum-seekers in 2012.
Likewise, in March, Thai police booked hundreds of Christians who had fled persecution in Pakistan. Nonetheless, their misery was increased when the Pakistani leaders pushed for their deportation.
Mr. Bruce Allen says it is certainly not easy for these Pakistani asylum-seekers to live in in countries like Thailand or Malaysia. These countries did not sign the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, which ensures protection of refugees’ basic human rights. “While it might be easy to get into Thailand as a refugee, once you’re there, you might find that life gets very, very difficult,” he added.
- See more at: http://www.christiansinpakistan.com/pakistani-christians-facing-increasingly-more-persecution-within-and-without-pakistan/#sthash.lMa0HdZN.dpuf

Pakistan - Iranian forces fire four mortar shells into Panjgur ( Balochistan )

Four mortar shells fired by the Iranian border forces on Tuesday landed in Balochistan’s bordering district of Panjgur. However, no loss of life or damage to property was reported.
“Three mortar shells landed in open area near Kushak, Surab district of Panjgur,” security sources said.
This was not the first border violation by Iranian border guards this month. A similar incident was reported on July 1.
Earlier in April, eight Iranian border guards were killed in an ambush by armed men near the Pakistan-Iran border. Sectarian outfit Jaish al Adl had claimed responsibility for the attack.
Pakistan has repeatedly raised the border violation issue with the Iranian government, which has maintained that its forces will continue to target terrorists who are a threat to peace.

Pakistan's ''Missing foreign minister''

FOREIGN affairs is a complicated business, but there are occasionally simple truths too. One of those truths is this: every country needs a full-time, cabinet-level, officially appointed foreign minister.
Pakistan does not have one. Instead, the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has a foreign adviser who doubles as national security adviser and a close Sharif aide who serves as the special adviser to the prime minister on foreign affairs. That is a wholly unsatisfactory state of affairs.
For one, the international diplomatic network is built around foreign ministries led by foreign ministers — there are protocol and coordination elements that simply cannot be well executed by ad hoc appointments.
For another, the Foreign Office structure inside Pakistan is hierarchical and designed to be led by a foreign minister who coordinates with the Prime Minister’s Office.
The flow of information, the interaction between the bureaucratic layers and political leadership, the drumming up of ideas and exchange of points of view — all of that and more are interrupted when there is no full-time foreign minister. And all of that adds up to harming the country’s diplomacy and interactions with the outside world.
There was a relatively straightforward solution to the problem: to use the Senate elections in March to elevate Mr Aziz or Mr Fatemi to parliament and hence be eligible to become a full cabinet member.
For reasons best known to Mr Sharif, that opportunity was declined. Worse yet, the prime minister has done nothing to try and resolve the turf war in the foreign ministry that has hamstrung its functioning.
While kept largely out of the public domain, there is nevertheless a sense that the bureaucracy is being pulled in different directions and the political appointees are unable to present a unified opinion to the prime minister.
None of that is good for the government. Yet, the ministerial problems go well beyond the foreign ministry.
Consider that the information minister is still moonlighting as the law minister, while the supervision of the law ministry has effectively been outsourced to a prime ministerial aide. Then, rather extraordinarily, the water and power minister is also serving as the defence minister.
Both those ministries have heavy workloads — but what sense is there in having a water and power minister during an epic and continuing electricity crisis who also serves as the defence minister at a time of massive internal military operations and significant military-related activity with major regional and international powers?
Ultimately, it appears that Mr Sharif’s instinct to not trust anyone beyond the smallest circle of aides and then to have ministries staffed with multiple principals who are loyal to the prime minister but at odds with their intra-ministerial counterparts is undoing many of the government’s policy initiatives.
A prime minister with a dysfunctional and incomplete cabinet is a prime minister with his policy hands tied.

Pakistan - Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto grieved over the loss of lives due to floods in Chitral


Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has expressed grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives and damages of property in devastating Chitral floods.
In a press Statement, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari condoled with grieved families and stressed for quick relief in flood affected areas of Chitral and other parts of country.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also directed Sindh government to take proper measures to minimize the affects of flood situation in Indus River. He said as per weather forecasts, there may be possibility of flood in lower parts of Sindh and catchment area of River Indus thus the administration needs to stay alert till the last flood streams flows into the ocean.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also directed the concerned authorities to monitor the sensitive points of River Indus and strengthen all dykes which were declared weak and make proper relief arrangements for displaced people of kacha area of both banks of river.

Secularists defend non-believers and religious minorities in debate on freedom of belief

Honorary associates of the NSS have spoken out over the persecution of secularists, non-believers and religious minorities in a House of Lords debate.
Lord Harrison, a Labour peer and honorary associate of the National Secular Society, called on the Government to "ensure that the hopes and aspirations of non-believers" in Britain are "not suppressed by careless oversight when we take our rightful place in the public square".
"Why are we conducting this debate in the House of Lords, which still reserves a privileged place for the state religion?" Lord Harrison asked.
"Many will be heartened by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury's recent observation that religious freedom demands space to be challenged and defended, without responding destructively. This echoed Rowan Williams's reservation in 2013 that sometimes UK and US Christians exaggerate mild discomfort over social issues such as pro-gay legislation while failing to emphasise systematic brutality and often murderous hostility practised by religious fanatics abroad."
Lord Harrison pointed out that "humanists and atheists in Britain are still thoughtlessly excluded from contributing to Radio 4's 'Thought for the Day'", an issue the National Secular Society has long campaigned on.
In a wide-ranging debate, much was said about the Islamic State and the precarious position of religious minorities, non-believers and secularists in Islamic countries.
NSS honorary associate Lord Avebury warned that "Daesh makes no secret of its intention to expand its so-called caliphate from its base in Syria and Iraq so that it covers the rest of the Middle East and north Africa. Ultimately it aims to spread its interpretation of seventh-century Islamic governance and beliefs across the whole world, eliminating all other faiths".
"Eliminating the Daesh, its metastases and its wicked ideology taught in Saudi-funded madrassahs throughout the world must be the main goal of all who believe in freedom of religion."
However, Lord Alderdice blamed "secular authoritarianism" for religious fundamentalism, which he said was a "reaction". As an 'example', he cited Turkey, "where it was easy to support a secular regime and then be astonished at the reaction," he argued.
Turning to religious violence and terrorism, Lord Alderdice claimed that "many of those who support violence, including people in Daesh, do not come to it from a religious perspective at all."
A spokesperson for the National Secular Society said that "freedom of religion must incorporate freedom from religion. Wherever that is not understood, freedom of belief is threatened."
"While Islamic State draws headlines, it shouldn't be forgotten that freedom of religion and belief, and the right to apostatise, change your religion or renounce faith all together is virtually non-existent in many Islamic countries. The signatories of the Cairo Declaration continue to deny these basic rights to their citizens."
Lord Bach, the Shadow Attorney General, appeared to call for the Minister of Faith role to return- after the post was left unfilled after the General Election. The National Secular Society was highly critical of the post when it was first created.
The debate, which took place on Thursday 16 July, was called by Lord Alton of Liverpool on Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which provides for freedom of religion and belief.
Lord Alton opened the discussion by arguing that "the four great murderers of the 20th century—Mao, Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot—were united by their hatred of religious faith."
"Liberal democracy simply does not understand the power" of religious radicals, Lord Alton added.
Baroness Anelay, a Minister of State in the Foreign Office, responded that "freedom of religion or belief and the right to hold no belief is a key human right" which is "under attack in almost every corner of the globe."
She added that the Government "oppose blasphemy laws wherever they still exist" and described "freedom of religion or belief" as "the key human right."

Christians Suffering Under Mob Violence in Pakistan

In yet another attack in the series of religiously-motivated attacks by Muslims on Christians in Pakistan, a mob attacked Awais Qamar, his wife, Rukhsana, and other members of their family, beating them, blackening their faces with soot, and forcing them to walk around the village (a way of shaming the offender) after an allegation of blasphemy.
According to a team from the European Centre for Law and Justice’s (ECLJ) affiliate in Pakistan that visited the area and gathered the facts, a Muslim neighbor visiting Rukhsana saw a used banner advertising college emblems at the family’s house. The neighbor told Rukhsana that the banner had a verse from the Quran written on it. A few minutes after the neighbor had left, a local mosque made an announcement that the family had desecrated the Quran.
A mob gathered and attacked the family. The local police timely intervened and rescued the family from the mob. According to a World Watch Monitor report, the District Police Officer, Sohail Zafar Chattha, ordered the police to save the couple at any cost, even if they had to shoot the perpetrators. The police had also arrested the Muslim cleric who had incited the violence. In addition, no blasphemy charges were filed against the Christian family. Reportedly, the state inspector general had given police orders to investigate blasphemy allegations before determining whether to file a report.
The American Center for Law and Justice and the ECLJ commend the police response in this case. Yet, this is exactly what the law requires of police officers in Pakistan. In 2002, the Lahore High Court gave specific directions how the authorities are supposed to respond after receiving an allegation of blasphemy. Noting “inefficiency and incompetence of the Investigating Officer” in that case, the court stated:
[W]e direct the Inspector-General of Police . . . to ensure that whenever such a case is registered, it be entrusted for purposes of investigation to a team of at least two gazetted Investigating Officers preferably those conversant with the Islamic Jurisprudence and in case they themselves are not conversant with Islamic Law, a scholar of known reputation and integrity may be added to the team and this team should then investigate whether an offence is committed or not and if it comes to the conclusion that the offence is committed, the police may only then proceed further in the matter.

Two years after the Lahore High Court gave this direction, the legislature enacted section 156-A of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C.), requiring that “no police officer below the rank of a Superintendent of Police shall investigate” a blasphemy case registered under section 295-C (passing derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad).
Another important procedural safeguard that already exists to protect people accused of blasphemy is section 196 of the Cr.P.C. Under this law, as interpreted by the High Court, a blasphemy case may not be registered unless upon a complaint made by the order of or under the authority of either the Provincial or the Central Government. Ideally, the blasphemy laws should be abolished, but strictly following these procedural safeguards would at least reduce their abuse.
Refusing to file blasphemy charges against Qamar and his family shows that the authorities got it right, at least in this case. It also validates a crucial fact that human rights organizations and even some Pakistani courts have emphasized for years, that many blasphemy cases are baseless. In Qamar’s case, no blasphemy ever occurred and nobody intended to desecrate the Quran. Qamar or his family perhaps did not even know that the banner had a verse from the Quran written on it until the neighbor informed them. How could they have intended to desecrate it? In the past, if all Pakistani authorities had followed the court’s mandated procedure, as the authorities did in this case, many innocent lives could have been saved from mob attacks, and many long prison terms could have been avoided.
For instance, in November 2014, a mob of approximately 1,500 Muslims attacked a Christian man and his pregnant wife, beat them, dragged behind tractors on sharp rocks, broke several of their limbs, and then burned them alive in a brick kiln. A timely and proper response by the local police could have saved the couple’s lives.
In March 2013, about 3,000 Muslims descended on Joseph Colony, a Christian colony in Lahore, Pakistan, to seek revenge for alleged blasphemy. The mob burned about 160 houses, 18 shops, and 2 churches. Despite having knowledge of the attack beforehand, the police in the area stood by and watched as the colony burned. Instead, the alleged blasphemer was arrested and sentenced to death. 
In June 2009, Asia Bibi was arrested and charged under the blasphemy law that punishes making disparaging remarks against Prophet Muhammad. Similarly, a Pakistani court has sentenced Asia Bibi to death, and the High Court recently upheld her conviction.
In these cases, the prosecution failed to follow the Lahore High Court’s direction. Further, procedural safeguards under sections 156-A or 196 of the Cr.P.C. had been violated. Moreover, the defense attorneys failed to file crucial motions to dismiss the cases for these procedural errors. Instead, they merely raised the errors in their closing arguments but did not move the court to dismiss the cases on these grounds. Because the attorneys failed to file the motions to dismiss, the court never directly adjudicated the procedural argument and the attorneys missed a valuable opportunity, whether that be having the case thrown out on procedural defaults if the motion was granted or an additional ground from which to appeal if the motion was denied. Especially, in Asia Bibi’s case, her attorney did not even cross-examine the two main eye-witnesses against her. On appeal, the High Court noted that her attorney had “not defended [her] with the required seriousness as the most relevant aspect of the prosecution case remained unrebutted.” 
In all fairness to the defense counsels in blasphemy cases, the trial courts may still convict defendants due to societal pressure (or sometimes bias), but pressure on the courts does not exonerate attorneys from doing their due diligence. Additionally, the record created through effective legal representation at the trial court would raise the chances of acquittal at the appellate courts.
We encourage the Pakistani government to provide trainings to Pakistani police officers regarding the proper procedure for investigating allegations of blasphemy. Such procedures, as demonstrated by officers Chattha’s and his colleagues’ actions, uphold rule of law, minimize prosecution for false accusations, reduce societal unrest and mob violence, and, importantly, protect innocent Pakistani citizens, including minority Christians, Hindus, Ahmadis, as well as majority Muslims who suffer severe persecution due to false blasphemy allegations. Further, we encourage attorneys who defend against blasphemy charges to robustly consider all procedural and substantive arguments at the right stage of each case, exhausting all remedies available. If each actor (investigators, prosecutors, judges, and defense attorneys) involved in such cases diligently performs his or her duty, many lives can be saved under the existing laws until the Pakistani society is ready to abolish the blasphemy laws.    


Asia Bibi to Appeal for Freedom through Pakistan's 'Flawed Legal System'

By Dan Wooding

Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian mother-of-five who is on death row, has been given one last chance to challenge for her freedom from the noose, after a Supreme Court appeal date has been set for Wednesday, July 22nd, starting at 9.00am Pakistan time (5am GMT).

The British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) has called on Christians across the globe to pray for her freedom and for justice to be served through the courts.

Pakistan is spying on its citizens, says report by British NGO


The Inter-Services Intelligence commissioned a huge system in 2013 to tap into the main fibre-optic cables entering the country, says a report of Privacy International.
In 2013, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence commissioned a major surveillance system that taps into three international under-sea cables affecting communications of its citizens and also the neighbouring countries whose communications pass through its borders, according to the findings of a report published by the British NGO, Privacy International.

The report accessed never-before released documents that show how the 'Targeted IP Monitoring System and the Common Operations Environment' will help the ISI collect and analyse a “significant portion of the communications travelling within and through the country at a centralised command centre”.

"If the project that the ISI proposed in 2013 was accomplished, and we suspect it has been, it would have massively increased the intelligence service’s capacity to monitor internet communications by increasing their collection volume," said Eric King, Deputy Director, Privacy International.

The investigation carried out by Privacy International also shows that the mass communication surveillance programme, targeting politicians, media personnel, judiciary and other civil society groups has been in place since 2005.

The report has also accessed phone-tapping statistics that show that in February the ISI was tapping 6,523 phones, 6,817 in March and 6,742 phones in April 2015. The fact that the SIM cards of most phones also contain biometric data in terms of fingerprints also helps the ISI carry out its surveillance without any legislative restrictions.

According to Matthew Rice, advocacy officer for Privacy International, "the scale of the system proposed by the Inter-Services Intelligence does not just affect those who live in Pakistan but also those who live in the region and anyone whose communications travel through Pakistan's networks. This will include a huge amount of innocent people swept up in a project like this for no good reason.”

Surveillance system

Documents attached to the report show that in June 2013, the ISI began a programme to directly tap into the main fibre optic cables entering Pakistan, which carry the bulk of the country’s communications. A note marked “Confidential” and sourced by the Privacy International researchers describe attempts to set up a “Targeted IP Monitoring System and COE (Common Operations environment)”. This aims to capture and store up to 600 giga bytes of Internet protocol traffic per second under the ISI’s control.

However, according to the report, the system could only have 200 analysts, severely limiting its ability to process large amounts of intercepted data. The ISI sought a system that is capable of monitoring “1,000 to 5,000 concurrent targets” for monitoring.

According to documents leaked by National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, Pakistan serves as a “third party SIGINT (Signals Intelligence) partner,” for the US technical intelligence organisation. The US embassy in Pakistan along with its various consulates serve as “Special Collection Sites” for the NSA, which intercepts communications originating from Pakistan. Pakistan emerged as the nation with the highest dialled number recognition targets and the second-highest dialled number identification targets for the NSA by March 2013.

Foreign firms, domestic law

The Privacy International report also lists a number of foreign firms that have helped Pakistani security agencies, including the ISI, to install mass surveillance software and hardware. It names German companies like Atis, Trovicor, China’s Huwaei, Sweden’s Ericsson and France’s Alcatel for providing surveillance equipment and capabilities to Pakistani agencies. "Without these companies, the Pakistani government would not be able intercept its citizens communications, as they have been doing systematically for over 10 years," said King.

King said that Privacy International was trying to influence the technology-producing countries, particularly the European Union, to reform their export control policies. "In order to ensure that the EU’s trade policy and regulation are in line with its commitment to human rights and democratisation, it is essential that it takes steps to prevent its companies from actively facilitating repression and authoritarianism," he said. "We also call for greater transparency around government contracting processes."

The report also notes that the lack of encryption and controls by the Pakistani government ensures that citizens have no or limited privacy against such kind of surveillance and intrusion. "All are at risk, when, as in Pakistan, armed conflict and insecurity are increasingly used to justify mass surveillance," said King. He pointed to recent developments like the Investigation for Fair Trial Act, 2013.

"Under the act, a warrant can be requested wherever an official has ‘reasons to believe’ that a citizen is, or is ‘likely to be associated’ with, or even ‘in the process of beginning to plan’ an offence under Pakistani law," he said.

"The breadth of those qualifying criteria is remarkable, and renders the additional protection offered by the process of applying to a judge illusory. Under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill, which is being considered at moment, courts would have no role in vetting or reviewing the grounds for interception," he added.

Mehdi Hassan - Remembering legendary 'Ghazal King' on his 88th birth anniversary

King of Ghazal, Mehdi Hassan was remembered on his 88th birth anniversary on Saturday (July 18).
Mehdi Hassan was born on 18 July 1927 in a village called Luna, Rajasthan in Jhunjhunu district in India into a family of traditional musicians.
In 1957‚ Mehdi Hassan was given the opportunity to sing on Radio Pakistan‚ primarily as a thumri singer‚ which earned him recognition within the musical fraternity.
He had a passion for Urdu poetry, and therefore, he began to experiment by singing ghazals on a part-time basis. He cites radio officers Z.A. Bukhari and Rafiq Anwar as additional influences in his progression as a ghazal singer.
He was honored with numerous awards including Nishan-e-Imtiaz, Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, Pride of Performance and Hilal-e-Imtiaz by the Government of Pakistan.
One of his Ghazals he will be most remembered for is Faiz Ahmed Faiz's, 'Gullon Mein Rang Bhare.' A host of other numbers like 'Ik Husn Ki Devi Se Mujhe Piyar Hua Tha', and 'Jab Koi Piyaar Se Bulaye Ga, Tum Ko Ek Shakhs Yaad Aye Ga' are also equally memorable. He sang for over 300 films during his musical career.
Mehdi Hassan died on 13 June 2012 after a protracted illness, in a private hospital in Karachi.