Monday, October 12, 2015

Video - CrossTalk on Syria: Russia's Turn

UK Pensioner Faces 350 Lashes In Saudi Arabia

The family of a British pensioner facing 350 lashes in Saudi Arabia are pleading with the UK Government to intervene because they fear the punishment could kill him.

Karl Andree, 74, was sentenced to 12 months in jail by a Sharia court after police found home-made wine in the boot of his car in Jeddah last year.Alcohol is banned under Islamic law in Saudi Arabia where Mr Andree has lived for the past 25 years.
Mr Andree has now served his sentence but has been held in jail for a further two months - and now faces a public flogging.
But his children Hugh, 46, Kirsten, 45, and Simon, 33, fear the grandfather-of-seven will not survive the punishment as he suffers from asthma and is frail after surviving cancer three times.
The oil executive's youngest son Simon told Sky News his father is being held in a windowless room.
"He's an old, frail man. The lashings will kill him. He will keel over and have a heart attack. We want him home and the Government needs to intervene," he said.
"Our mum Verity has Alzheimer's and is deteriorating and he needs to see her."
The Foreign Office confirmed it has raised Mr Andree's case with the Saudis.
"Our embassy staff are continuing to assist Mr Andree, including regular visits to check on his welfare, and frequent contact with his lawyer and family," a spokesman told Sky News.
"Ministers and senior officials have raised Mr Andree's case with the Saudi Government and we are actively seeking his release as soon as possible."
Mr Andree is being held in Jeddah's Briman Prison, which has a reputation for torture and overcrowded cells, The Sun reported.
Last month, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for Mr Cameron to intervene to try to save the life of a Saudi teenager who is due to be beheaded.
Ali Mohammed al Nimr was reportedly sentenced to death for his part in anti-government protests, including breaking allegiance to the king and rioting.
He was 17 when he allegedly committed the crimes.


Video Report - Saudi airstrikes kill Yemeni civilian in Hajjah province

The Yemen crisis is partly our fault. We can no longer facilitate this war

By Trevor Timm
While the crisis in Syria continues to garner front-page headlines and ample television coverage, the media has largely turned a blind eye to the other travesty unfolding in the Middle East: Yemen has turned into a humanitarian disaster, where thousands of bombs are being dropped, 1.5 million people are displaced and more than 90% of the population is in need of assistance. The major difference? In Yemen, the US is one of the primary causes of the problem.
The United States and the United Kingdom are actively aiding and abetting Saudi Arabia while the country indiscriminately kills thousands of civilians in Yemen in what amounts to war crimes by almost anyone’s definition. The two western powers, who often purport to care about democracy and human rights, are also helping the Saudi monarchy – one of the most repressive regimes on the planet –cover up those crimes at the UN. These actions are abhorrent, and it’s shameful the brewing scandal has hardly received any attention from the US political establishment or television news.
The New York Times, the rare exception to the giant shrug much of the American media has given this critical subject, recently published a harrowing front-page story on the rash of indiscriminate bombing – conducted in response to Houthi rebels who have attacked the sitting government – that has been killing scores of civilians with direct help from the US. That report came before the latest and deadliest attack on civilians yet: last week, a Saudi strike killed at least 130 innocent people at a wedding, mostly women and children. Over 500 childrenhave been killed since the start of the strikes.
It would be hard for the US to give more assistance to Saudi Arabia as they commit these atrocities without actually dropping the bombs themselves: the Saudis are using cluster munitions (banned by treaty in the vast majority of countries around the world) supplied to them by United States defense contractors. They’re dropping those bombs using American-made fighter jets. The US military, far from being a neutral observer, is actively providing the Saudis with intelligence and logistical assistance for their air strikes. And the US isfinalizing a deal to give even more weapons to the Saudis. The Obama administration has already sold them more than $90bn of military weapons over the past five years.
It turns out that the UK and US also made another secret deal with the Saudi monarchy years ago, according to diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks. In an exchange of votes, the UK and US plotted to get Saudi Arabia the top spot on the UN human rights council, which was just announced last month - also to loud condemnations around the world. (The same week, the country finalized plans to behead and crucify the son of a prominent government critic, whose only crime was attending an anti-government protest when he was 17 years old.)As of Wednesday, the US and UK also successfully prevented the UN from conducting an independent investigation into the potential war crimes committed by Saudi Arabia. Instead, Saudi Arabia will be given license to investigate themselves. Human rights groups immediately castigated the decision.
The Times also reported on the results of Saudi Arabia’s actions in Yemen for the US: “Rather than turning more Yemenis against the Houthis, though, the strikes are crystallizing anger in parts of the country against Saudi Arabia and its partners, including the United States.” So we’re likely creating a new generation of terrorists, just as the US’s past drone strikes in Yemen have done. And for what?
Even the US military can’t explain why they’re supporting this war so closely. There is no military or national security objective (besides keeping the Saudi Arabian government happy and the coffers of US weapons makers flush). As the Council on Foreign Relations’s Micah Zenko writes in his excellent and depressing analysis of the unfolding tragedy:
Rather, they call upon all parties in the conflict to halt their fighting, failing to mention that the United States military is one of the parties by providing material support, without which [Saudi Arabia and its military coalition] would not be able sustain airstrikes over Yemen for any period of time.
Unfortunately, hardly anyone inside the US government seems to care. The Intercept’s Lee Fang went to Washington DC to try to ask members of Congress about the killings. Many ignored him, or if they did talk refused to take on Saudi Arabia directly. John McCain even denied that Saudi Arabia had civilians at all and blamed the Houthis for any deaths that may have occurred. He apparently was not aware UN officials have made clear that the vast majority of civilian deaths were the fault of the Saudi airstrikes, not the Houthis. (It should go without saying that none of this excuses any atrocities committed by the Houthis, which are horrific in their own right.)
So as the US media and politicians become more and more outraged at the senseless carnage in Syria over the next few weeks, as they well should, remember what they are blatantly ignoring: the US-backed travesty in Yemen.

#Turkey - This has to be a wake-up call


Turkey has never been as deeply divided as it is today. Different social groups are trying to settle various historic and political accounts. There is the Turkish-Kurdish fault line, the religious-secular fault line and the Alevi-Sunni fault line, not to mention other class and cultural divisions. All of these are highly active currently.

This became apparent once again following the massacre in Ankara on Saturday, which is increasingly believed to have been carried out by elements attached to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). There was a thinly veiled attempt by the pro-government media, for example, to pin the blame on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) without weighing the probability of this contention.

Politicians from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), on the other hand, were quick to blame the state as the perpetrator of this horrible crime, also without weighing the probability of this contention. They argued this was part of an effort to get the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to win the general elections on Nov. 1, by pinning the blame for the chaotic state of affairs in Turkey on the HDP, which the AKP sees as the political wing of the PKK.

While not going as far as the HDP to accuse the government directly over the latest atrocity, other opposition parties also believe that the AKP is trying to reap benefits from the chaotic environment that emerged literally overnight following the June 7 elections. The bottom line is that a highly poisonous political atmosphere has been allowed to emerge in Turkey by uncompromising politicians. 

Many say President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s abrasive manners and open canvassing for the AKP, which he is not allowed to do under the constitution, have made matters worse. It is no secret that Erdoğan expects a strong result for the AKP on Nov. 1, having failed to achieve this in the June elections, in order to fulfill his own leadership ambitions. 

He himself has said that the country needs an executive president with strong powers to keep things in order. Given his authoritarian tendencies and deep dislike for the prerequisites of any true democracy, such as a free press, Erdoğan’s general approach has caused serious concerns at home and abroad about the future of democracy in Turkey. 

It is becoming increasingly apparent, however, that Erdoğan’s political ambitions will not be fulfilled even if the AKP gains its parliamentary majority on Nov. 1 by a slim majority. Most surveys show that we will in fact face the prospect of another coalition on the night of Nov.1, after the results are in. 

Some argue that Erdoğan will push for early elections again in that case because he needs the AKP to be in power on its own in order to provide him cover against charges of corruption and abuse of power, which the opposition has vowed to pursue. But many are also betting that these elections will be the beginning of the end for Erdoğan since he will have no options left if the AKP fails again.

The problem for Turkey, however, is that the negative dynamics set loose in the country after the June elections will take time and effort to bring under control and put the country back on its normal path, regardless of who comes to power.

Those who sowed a wind to serve their political interests have left the country facing a whirlwind now. It is time, therefore, for politicians of all shades to leave aside their vendettas and to think about the future of the country instead. They have to realize that if this ship sinks, we all sink with it. The death of nearly 100 mostly young peace activists - many of whom represented the bright face of modern Turkey – not to mention the hundreds injured, should act as a wakeup call.

If it doesn’t, it is hard to imagine what will. +

Video - Winner of Nobel Prize for economics says "it's hard to believe"

Video - Poll: Clinton opens huge leads in Nevada

Obama’s Doctrine of Restraint


One way to define Barack Obama’s foreign policy is as a Doctrine of Restraint. It is clear, not least to the Kremlin, that this president is skeptical of the efficacy of military force, wary of foreign interventions that may become long-term commitments, convinced the era of American-imposed solutions is over, and inclined to see the United States as less an indispensable power than an indispensable partner. He has, in effect, been talking down American power.
President Vladimir Putin has seized on this profound foreign policy shift in the White House. He has probed where he could, most conspicuously in Ukraine, and now in Syria. Obama may call this a form of Russian weakness. He may mock Putin’s forays as distractions from a plummeting Russian economy. But the fact remains that Putin has reasserted Russian power in the vacuum created by American retrenchment and appears determined to shape the outcome in Syria using means that Obama has chosen never to deploy. For Putin, it’s clear where the weakness lies: in the White House.
Russia’s Syrian foray may be overreach. It may fall into the category of the “stupid stuff” (read reckless intervention) Obama shuns. Quagmires can be Russian, too. But for now the initiative appears to lie in the Kremlin, with the White House as reactive power. Not since the end of the Cold War a quarter-century ago has Russia been as assertive or Washington as acquiescent. Obama’s Doctrine of Restraint reflects circumstance and temperament. He was elected to lead a nation exhausted by the two longest and most expensive wars in its history. Iraq and Afghanistan consumed trillions without yielding victory. His priority was domestic: first recovery from the 2008 meltdown and then a more equitable and inclusive society. The real pivot was not to Asia but to home.
Besides, American power in the 21st century could not be what it was in the 20th, not with the Chinese economy quintupling in size since 1990. The president was intellectually persuaded of the need to redefine America’s foreign-policy heft in an interconnected world of more equal powers, and temperamentally inclined to prudence and diplomacy over force. Republican obstructionism and the politicization of foreign policy in a polarized Washington did not help him. American power, in his view, might still be dominant but could no longer be determinant.
As Obama put it to The New Republic in 2013, “I am more mindful probably than most of not only our incredible strengths and capabilities, but also our limitations.” After Iraq and Afghanistan, giant repositories of American frustration, who could blame him? But when the most powerful nation on earth and chief underwriter of global security focuses on its limitations, others take note, perceiving new opportunity and new risk. Instability can become contagious. Unraveling can set in, as it has in the Middle East. The center cannot hold because there is none.
“I think Obama exaggerates the limits and underestimates the upside of American power, even if the trend is toward a more difficult environment for translating power and influence,” Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, told me. “By doing so, he runs the risk of actually reinforcing the very trends that give him pause. Too often during his presidency the gap between ends and means has been our undoing.”
In Afghanistan, in Libya and most devastatingly in Syria, Obama has seemed beset by ambivalence: a surge undermined by a date certain for Afghan withdrawal; a lead-from-behind military campaign to oust Libya’s dictator with zero follow-up plan; a statement more than four years ago that “the time has come” for President Bashar al-Assad to “step aside” without any strategy to make that happen, and a “red line” on chemical weapons that was not upheld. All this has said to Putin and China’s President Xi Jinping that this is a time of wound-licking American incoherence.
Yet Obama does not lack courage. Nor is he unprepared to take risks. It required courage to conclude the Iran nuclear deal — a signal achievement arrived at in the face of a vitriolic cacophony from Israel and the Republican-controlled Congress. It took courage to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough with Cuba. The successful operation to kill Osama bin Laden was fraught with risk. His foreign policy has delivered in significant areas. America has wound down its wars. The home pivot has yielded a revived economy (at least for some) and given all Americans access to health insurance.
Yet the cost of the Doctrine of Restraint has been very high. How high we do not yet know, but the world is more dangerous than in recent memory. Obama’s skepticism about American power, his readiness to disengage from Europe and his catastrophic tiptoeing on Syria have left the Middle East in generational conflict and fracture, Europe unstable and Putin strutting the stage. Where this rudderless reality is likely to lead I will examine in my next column.

Terrorist suspects detained in Moscow trained at Islamic State camps in Syria — FSB

The suspects of plotting a terrorist attack in Moscow were trained at Islamic State camps in Syria, a spokesman of the Russian Security Service (FSB, former KGB) said on Monday.
Some of them "arrived in Russia long before the start of the Russian military operation in Syria," the spokesman said.
Suspects detained in Moscow have planned terrorist attacks on public transport in the Russian capital, he added. "During questioning of two suspects, it became clear that they planned to stage terrorist attacks on Moscow’s public transport. Gang ringleaders supplied them with financial resources and components of SVU sniper rifles," FSB said.
"In the course of search operations, Russia’s Federal Security Service uncovered a group of Russian citizens preparing a terrorist attack in the Moscow Region. An address in Moscow was determined where 6-11 people spent time. Some of them underwent training in Islamic State camps on the Syrian territory and arrived to Russia long before Russia launched a military operation in the Syrian Arab Republic," FSB said.
The apartment was blocked and people inside it detained. FSB found explosives in the apartment. Suspects were charged with preparing a terrorist attack and illegally using explosives.

Bomb seized in Moscow apartment contains 5 kg of explosive

The security service said the bomb that was seized from suspected terrorists in Moscow contained 5 kg of explosive and was ready for use.
"The presence of an explosive substance was detected in the apartment, due to which the house’s dwellers were evacuated, domestic gas supply was disconnected and a team of bomb disposal experts of the FSB department for Moscow and the Moscow region was dispatched to the scene," the FSB reported.
The bomb squad inspected the apartment and found a ready-to-go explosive device (5 kg) based on ammonium nitrate. The items seized as a result of the apartment search included an industrial electric exploder, scales for weighing the explosive components, mobile communications equipment, a set of tools and an instruction manual for making improvised explosive devices.

Islamic State extremist organization

The Islamic State is an extremist organization banned in Russia. In 2013-2014, it called itself the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). In June 2014, IS announce the establishment of the "Islamic caliphate" on the territories seized in Iraq and Syria. According to US’ Central Intelligence Agency, the extremist group includes around 30,000 people, while Iraqi authorities claim there are around 200,000 in IS. Among members of the group are citizens of 80 countries, including France, Great Britain, Germany, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, US, Canada, as well as Russia and other CIS countries. According to reports, militants now control around 40% of the Iraqi territory and 50% of the Syrian territory.

Video - Report from the frontline where Syrian troops fighting ISIS

Islamic State grows in Afghanistan, encroaches on Kabul as U.S. remains ‘passive observer’

By Rowan Scarborough

The Islamic State is growing at an alarming rate in Afghanistan, within striking distance of the capital, and there does not seem to be a concerted U.S. effort to strike the terrorist army as there is in the Syria-Iraq war theater.
An independent think tank has concluded that the allies are “reacting disjointedly and ineffectively” to the group in Afghanistan and other places outside those two countries.
The Islamic State’s numbers now may reach as high as 3,000 inAfghanistan, mostly in Nangarhar province, less than 50 miles east of Kabul. The emergence presents the NATO-backed elected government there with a fifth deadly enemy in addition to the Taliban, al Qaeda, the Haqqani network and elements of the Pakistani intelligence service.
Globally, the Islamic State, also called ISIL and ISIS, has affiliates in nearly 20 countries.
“It’s like a metastasizing cancer spreading throughout certain parts of the Islamic world,” said James Russell, a former Pentagon official and an instructor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. “We have to hope that the antibodies in these societies can ward off the death, misery and destruction that will come raining down upon them if ISIS takes hold in their communities.”
Afghanistan’s 3,000-member ISIL army is about one-tenth the size of the AfghanTaliban’s forces. But NATO says the Islamic State has reached the next stage of being an emerging threat. If its growth in other regions, such as North Africa, is a gauge, its Afghan component will only expand further as young Muslims are drawn by social media to its ultraviolent ways and Sunni orthodoxy.
Yet unlike in Syria and Iraq, where a U.S.-led coalition conducts a series of daily airstrikes against the Islamic State, there appears to be no such strategy in Afghanistan, where Afghan government forces now have the lead in all combat operations and request NATO air power on an ad hoc basis.
“What concerns me most is the fact that the United States has become a passive observer rather than the driver of the policy,” said Larry Johnson, a former counterterrorism official at the State Department, commenting on the overall U.S. effort against the Islamic State.
U.S. military spokesmen had no immediate comment on the question of American policy toward the Afghan Islamic State. Army Gen. John Campbell, the allied commander in-country, was asked at congressional hearings last week what triggers action against Islamic State. He answered that the criterion is “force protection.”
After the Syria-Iraq war theater, Islamic State’s emergence near Kabul could be the most troublesome for the U.S., whose troop levels have dropped to less than 10,000, and only a small portion of those forces are dedicated to assist in counterterrorism. The Islamic State has shown it can execute brutal attacks and deploy vehicle bombs to take territory and hold it.
Gen. Campbell said Afghanistan’s security forces lack the leadership and troop numbers to respond to every trouble spot.
Meanwhile, the Islamic State is beginning to flex its terrorism muscle inAfghanistan.
Islamic militant competition
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) in Washington is tracking the Islamic State’s violent ways in Afghanistan and other countries. It said the Islamic State launched attacks in mid-September against a UNICEF convoy, Afghan government forces, the Afghan Taliban and Shiite civilians. In late September the Islamic State “launched coordinated attacks on multiple Afghan security positions” in Nangarhar, the think tank said.
“The group reportedly also shut down several schools in easternAfghanistan amid other efforts to assert social control,” the institute said. “ISIS has established robust ground campaigns in Libya, Egypt andAfghanistan.”
The ISW said in the special report “ISIS Global Strategy: A Wargame,” written by counterterrorism analyst Harleen Gambhir, that the Islamic State’s expansion stems from its ability to attract local jihadis.
“The coalition is focused on Iraq and Syria, and it is reacting disjointedly and ineffectively to ISIS’s activities in Libya, Egypt, Afghanistan, and other places,” Ms. Gambhir writes. “ISW’s war game demonstrated how this failure enables ISIS to strategically outpace the U.S. and its allies.”
U.S. intelligence agencies are still trying to digest the meaning of Islamic State setting up shop in South Asia.
Nicholas Rasmussen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, speaks of an “increasing competition between extremist actors” in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region involving al Qaeda, the Taliban and the Islamic State.
“So that’s an additional factor that we’re still trying to understand,” Mr. Rasmussen told the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point in remarks published last month. He characterized the burgeoning competition as an “interesting feature of the South Asia landscape.”
Gen. Campbell, the U.S. commander closest to Islamic State terrorism inAfghanistan, said foreign fighters are arriving to join the Islamic State as they “try to bring in some sort of funding stream to build a place in Nangarhar.”
He said the emergence of Islamic State “has further complicated the theater landscape and potentially expanded the conflict.”
Mr. Johnson, the former counterterrorism official, said the leaders of Middle East and South Asia countries “concede that the U.S. has no appetite for being engaged, especially militarily in the region.”
The struggle between two radical Sunni groups, the Taliban and the Islamic State, may be sparked in part by the Taliban’s willingness to do business with Iran, a Shiite Islamic country.
“The Taliban have always been far more pragmatic in dealing with Iran, and the religious difference is not a critical factor,” Mr. Johnson said. “Not so with the ISIS crowd. For them, theology takes precedence, and Iran is an apostate state that must be destroyed.”

Pakistan - #Christian Head Teacher beaten for his faith fears another attack

Saddique Azam a Christian Head Master who was tortured for his faith now lives in fear of more anticipated attacks.
According to details, Saddique Azam and his family are fearful of more attacks after he was tortured by his Muslim colleagues in the school over the issue of resignation from the Head Master post. Saddique was appointed as the Head Master of a Primary school in Pernawa near Phool Nagar in Kasur District. Three Muslim teachers working at the same tried to harass him to resign from the post. However, when he denied, three of them started beating him violently and injured his left eye severely.
“You are a Christian and Choora so, how can you be Headmaster and our senior” they said while hurling insults at him. After this they started beating Saddique violently.
Three months earlier Saddique was appointed as the Head Teacher at the Pernawa village school. Even though he has been appointed as the Head Teacher yet the concerned education Department is reluctant to issue a formal appointment letter in his name verifying his appointment as Head Teacher. He has been given the charge of the school as a Head Teacher and is doing his duties since three months.
Three Muslim teachers strongly opposed his appointment as the Head Teacher and protested before the District Education Officer (DEO) of Kasur, criticizing Saddique Azam’s appointment. However, when they failed to dislodge him from his post, resorted to torture. The three Muslim teachers are believed to be religious fanatics, who stormed into Saddique’s office around 7:45 am on October 5. At that time he was not his office, however when he came they started harassing him to resign.
Moreover, they told him, “If he wanted to remain working as the Head Teacher then he would have to work according to their directions.” After this, they started beating him and severely injured his left eye. Seven days after the incident, Saddique Azam is still whimpering in pain as his left eye was wounded.
Other teachers tried to intervene but they could not stop the three fanatic teachers from beating him. Police was informed about the incident and the three Muslim teachers were arrested but so far Police has not filed an FIR against them.
As a result of this incident, children and wife of Saddique Azam are terrified. They suspect they could be attacked s no real action has been done against the perpetrators. The family is fearful that the religiously extremist teachers may try once again to attack Saddique Azam. Moreover, Nabila wife of Saddique Azam has advised him to resign from the job.
Saddique has six children who are fearful of the religious extremism. They fear another attack on their father or family. “There is pressure on me for compromised and my family also is terrified and traumatized after this happening,” says Saddique Azam.
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Pakistan: Ahmadiyya Muslim community issues statement about attack on Muslim Ahmadis in Karachi

Three members of the Ahmadiyya community belonging to the same family were attacked yesterday on 11th October, 2015, resulting in two of them being seriously injured.

According to details, residents of Gulshan Iqbal Karachi, Saleem Rafaqat (55) and his two nephews, Moaaz Ahmad (20) and  Shahmir Ahmad (17) were returning home in their car after offering Isha prayers at the Ahmadiyya mosque when two unknown persons standing near the gate of their house opened up fire on them.

All three were injured, two seriously, and they were shifted to hospital soon after the attack.

Two bullets struck Salim Rafaqat, one in his shoulder and the other struck his spine.

Shahmir Ahmad is still in critical condition due to the bullet lodged in his stomach. He remained on assisted breathing with ventilator in ICU.

One bullet grazed the head of his nephew, Moaaz Ahmad who received first aid and was discharged from the hospital. 

It is of note that on 21st March earlier this year an Ahmadi young man, Nauman Najam was also the victim of sectarian killing in the same general area.

Spokesman of the Ahmadiyya community, Saleem Uddin, has expressed his grief and sorrow over the incident and said that hate literature against Ahmadiyya community is being published and distributed continuously.

:It has become the great danger for the lives of Ahmadis," Saleem Uddin said.

It was clearly mentioned in National Action Plan instituted earlier this year, the Ahmadiyya statement says, that action will be taken against literature and speech promoting hatred, the Ahmadiyya press release stated. "But it is sorry to say that extremists are making negative propaganda against Ahmadis."

"Terrorists take great advantage of these propaganda and play with the lives of Ahmadis," the statement added.

Saleem Uddin demanded authorities to identify and arrest the attackers on urgent basis and punish them in accordance with the law.

Punjab Police Looting Passengers of Balochistan

Punjab Police is looting passengers of Balochistan who travel to Punjab by road, reported Jang Quetta.
Passengers of Balochistan travel to Punjab by road using Jacobabad-Kashmore route.
At Sindh-Punjab border, all vehicles coming from Balochistan are stopped by Punjab police and passengers are asked for bribe.
Those passengers who refuse payment of bribery are made to stand in scorching heat for several hours by Punjab Police.
Passengers have complained that Punjab Police personnel even don’t care about the women and children in the vehicles which are stopped for hours.
Passengers have requested from Chief Minister of Punjab Shehbaz Sharif and Inspector General Police of Punjab Mushtaq Sukhera to take notice of the inhumane attitude of Punjab police towards passengers of Balochistan.

Pashto Movies Legend Badar Munir’s seventh death anniversary a quiet affair

It’s as if each passing year has been erasing memories of the legend. The seventh death anniversary of famous actor Badar Munir was observed with less pomp and circumstance at a small event arranged by Badar Munir Federation (BMF) on Sunday at a hujra on Dalazak Road.

The event was attended by few but those who celebrate the actor say nary can hold a candle to him. “He [Badar] was considered the most versatile actor who could play any sort of a role with perfection,” BMF President Sherin Zada Badar told The Express Tribune. “People still remember him for his action roles and his posters are seen pasted on rickshaws across the city even today.” Sherin added invitations were sent to all Pashto actors but very few turned up.
The reason behind the insignificance of the event could be attributed to the general standing of Pashto films among people of the province. This had a dousing effect on the memorial event. Some of the members of BMF said nearly all actors of the Pashto film industry are busy with shooting in Lahore.
Life of the hero
Munir worked in the country’s first Pashto film Yousaf Khan ao Sherbano with Yasim Khan as his co-star. The film was written by the late poet Ali  Haider Joshi.
After the success of Yousaf Khan ao Sherbano, another folk story of Adam Khan was adapted as a film in which Badar played the lead role . The film was shot in Lahore and did well in the box office. Other successful movies of Badar included OrbalBaghi and Dehqan. Badar worked in over 400 films of Pashto, Urdu, Punjabi and Sindhi. He was born in Madyan, Swat and died in 2008 at the age of 70 in Lahore.

Pakistan - Hazardous Hospitals

The Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) has made it clear that hospitals are inadequately disposing of their hazardous waste and burning it in the open. It has accused some high-profile names of blatantly violating almost every cleanliness rule. The Federal Government Tuberculosis Centre at Asghar Mall in Rawalpindi buries the sputum of patients in the ground, while Shifa Hospital at H-8 buries the incinerated waste in an inadequate pit - all causing ground and air pollution.
Most of these health facilities have no waste management standard operating procedures (SOPs), while the few that do try to manage their waste have a poor and insufficient criterion for disposing of dangerous throw away. According to an official, this hazardous hospital waste included human specimens, contaminated instruments, infectious tissues, chemicals and infectious waste generated by patients.
The major issue is with small private hospitals, pathological labs and clinics, who have no understanding and concept of handling the infectious waste. Private hospitals and clinics have commercial considerations and, therefore, cut on the waste management costs. On the other hand, public hospitals have budgetary constraints. There has always been a great deal of talk regarding cleanliness and hygiene of hospitals, one that is always brushed away or hushed up. If patients are paying hefty amount of money to go to hospitals, especially the private ones, do they not deserve to be treated with the best possible care?
The environment body found all hospitals mixing hazardous waste with the municipal waste. More than half of such health facilities with poor hospital waste management SOPs were served with notices. This is a good thing. What should be done is establishing a centralized facility for disposal of infectious waste away from human settlement and shutting down all incinerators within residential areas, besides treatment of infectious liquid waste before discharging it in municipal sewage system.
Hospital waste management was a serious issue and all the stakeholders should concentrate to resolve the problem directly affecting the human life and environment health. The government should provide ample funds as well. There is a need for training and capacity building not only for the staff but also for adopting information technology in data collection.

Pakistan - '' After the #HajjStampede''

Fudged numbers, delayed responses, too many still missing and glaring governmental negligence. — this is the aftermath of the Mina tragedy in which more than 1,000 hajjis (pilgrims) were crushed to death in a stampede during the holy pilgrimage. The Saudi authorities placed the number of dead at somewhere around 750 but a new tally (without Saudi help and cooperation) puts the number at over the 1,400 mark, making it the deadliest incident to mark the monumental hajj event. One of the most undeniable facts has been the complete and utter disdain with which the Saudi authorities have handled the situation. There has been no proper official inquiry into the reasons behind the stampede. Many reports suggest that it was the VIP movement of a Saudi royal that caused chaos and confusion amongst the pulsating mass of pilgrims. Some cite the fact that there were too many pilgrims in that small, compact space at one time. Whatever the reason, the Saudis seem hesitant to offer any answers.

And what about our government, what is it doing to calm the families of the many missing and to ask the Saudi royals to expedite the matter? So far, all that we have heard is that it is unacceptable to criticise ‘friendly countries’, and we all know what that means. The callousness with which the PML-N government is behaving makes the cold attitude of the Saudis pale in comparison. Have any arrangements been made to bring back the bodies of the Pakistanis who died in the Mina stampede? Is any inquiry being held to find out exactly how many Pakistanis are still missing? We hear our authorities talk about the declaration that all hajjis sign before going on the pilgrimage, which absolves the host country of any responsibility if a hajji should die during the holy event. That declaration does not cover catastrophic incidents such as this stampede, which was definitely caused by someone’s negligence.

The offhanded manner with which this entire incident is being handled speaks of disregard and heartlessness where common Pakistanis are concerned. That is what hajj this year has left us with: many dead, many still missing and a government too thoughtless to care.

Aseefa Bhutto visits SMBB Medical College, Lyar

 Aseefa Bhutto Zardari visited Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Medical College, Lyari in Karachi today to personally review the facilities available there and apprise herself about the requirements for further improvement in the College in the heart of Karachi’s old area Lyari.

She said that SMBB Medical College was established in the light of vision of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto for progressive, prosperous and educated Lyari where Lyari General Hospital was approved by Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto herself two decades back.

Aseefa Bhutto Zardari visited the faculties and was briefed by the Principal Prof Anjum Rehman about the College and its needs. She intermingled with the medical students and exchanged pleasantries with them. Students were excited to see Aseefa Bhutto Zardari among them and took selfies with her.

She was pleased that the SMBB Medical College has been promoted to A-Category College within four years of its establishment. She was also happy to know that the first batch of 100 will be graduating from the College within next few months and exhorted them to go to their own areas, especially the areas of province having meager health facilities and serve the poor humanity.

Aseefa Bhutto Zardari also assured the students and the management of the College that she will talk to Chief Minister and Sindh Health Minister for resolution of their problems.

Pakistan - Bilawal Bhutto leads PPP team to Silk Road moot in China

Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari left for China via Dubai today to participate Asian Political Parties Special Conference on the Silk Road to be held between October 14-16 in Beijing.
A statement issued by the PPP media said that Bilawal was accompanied by former Ambassador to United States Senator Sherry Rehman, former Deputy Speaker of National Assembly Faisal Karim Kundi and Political Secretary Jameel Soomro.
The Communist Party of China (CPC) is holding the Asian Political Parties’ Special Conference on the Silk Road in Beijing.
The conference, themed New Vision of the Silk Road, Actions for Common Development, shall include three panels with their respective topics being Political Leadership: New Consensus for Political Parties , People-to-People Bonds: New Dialogue between Civilizations and Economic Integration: New Impetus for Development , as well as deliberations on regional economic cooperation.
It may be recalled that in ancient times, the overland and maritime Silk Roads were once symbols of economic, cultural, and people-to-people exchanges between different countries and regions, whose profound impact hasn’t withered with age.
The PPP delegation led by Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is likely to return by the end of the week. 

Is Erdogan turning Turkey into the new Pakistan?

By Mark Almond

''Recep Tayyip Erdogan's double-dealing over Islamic State and Syria have put Turkey on the path to disaster.''

 Is Turkey the new Pakistan? Even a year ago it would have seemed unreasonable to compare our Nato ally on the fringe of Europe, an active candidate to join the EU, with poor, politically unstable, terrorist-plagued Pakistan.
Since 2000, Turkey had become the poster-child for those who hope a predominantly Muslim society could combine democracy with economic success. While Pakistan had remained in the shadow of Afghanistan’s perpetual crisis since 1979, under the leadership of Recep Tayip Erdogan Turkey had steamed ahead since 2002.
But over the last few years a slow-motion train wreck in Turkey has become increasingly apparent. Saturday’s suicide bombing in Ankara was just the latest in Turkey’s renewed terrorist crisis.
Turkey admitted the prime suspect is Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant over the border in Syria. It then launched air strikes against the dissident Kurds fighting Isil along the same frontier. That is how murky Erdogan’s security policy has become.
One of the big gains of his rule had been a ceasefire with the militant Kurdish PKK in south-east Turkey. Erdogan actually returned to the Turkish Parliament after being banned from a Kurdish region in 2002 for his Islamic activities. It seemed his mix of religion and politics meant a Muslim leader could reach out to fellow Muslim Kurds as well as ethnic Turks.
But as elections in June showed, the bulk of Turkey’s Kurds now support opponents of Erdogan’s AK Party. This is largely the result of his backing anti-Assad forces in Syria who are not only Sunni but hostile to Syria’s Kurds.
Like his allies in Nato, Erdogan had expected the Assad regime to implode as quickly as other Arab dictatorships in 2011. But unlike the rest of the West, Erdogan took sides in the sectarian politics of Syria. Turkey’s sympathy for jihadists there and its blind-eye to weapons supplies to Isil have bitterly divided the Turkish public.
Syria’s implosion along ethnic and sectarian lines is a warning to Turkey. Many of the dividing lines in Syria reach over the border. France partitioned its Syrian mandate in 1939 to give Antioch to Turkey. Many of the “Turks” there still use Arabic and regard the mainly Sunni rebels in Syria (and the Sunni refugees who have flooded into their border region) with barely veiled hostility.
In July, Kurds in the southern city of Suruc suffered a savage suicide attack. The Turkish state’s failure to forestall such terrorism and the Turkish army’s response to an Isil attack on the Kurdish town of Kobani last year are works of malign indifference. This fuels suspicions among Erdogan’s opponents that his government is behind terrorist violence that so often has Kurds as victims. It is all horribly reminiscent of how Pakistan’s Inter-Services Institute intelligence agency played a double game with the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Of course, Turkey, like Pakistan, does not just face home-grown problems. Both live in difficult neighbourhoods. Both can argue that Western allies have pursued policies which have made their situation worse. But each should deal with self-inflicted wounds too.
Erdogan’s ambition to dominate Turkish politics and the Middle East has hit the buffers. Turkey lacks the resources to play the old Ottoman role. Anyway, few Arabs – and not many Turks – wish to see it revived.
His relations with Putin’s Russia have soured as the Kremlin sent warships and supplies to Syria through the Bosporus as well as the oil that energy-poor Turkey needs. Erdogan upped the ante by threatening to cancel Russian energy imports and a nuclear power project. Now Russian and Turkish warplanes shadow each other, fingers on the trigger.
Desperate to achieve a majority in next month’s parliamentary elections, Erdogan seems prepared to drop the mantle of statesman and gamble that if Turks polarise on sectarian lines, his side will be the majority. This strategy is reopening Turkey’s domestic wounds.
Intensifying internal divisions while playing politics in a neighbour’s civil war is a recipe for recreating Pakistan’s problems on Europe’s doorstep. That would be disaster for us as well as the Turks.