Saturday, October 17, 2015

Music Video - Britney Spears, Iggy Azalea - Pretty Girls

In Alabama, Clinton blasts GOP on voting rights

Presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton is telling black Alabama Democrats that she'd champion voting rights in the White House. She says Republicans are dismantling the progress of the civil rights movement.
Clinton blasted Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley for closing driver's license offices in 31 counties where most residents are African-American. Alabama requires photo identification to vote.
The Democratic front-runner says, "This is a blast from the Jim Crow past."
Clinton also mocked Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush for their opposition to restoring Voting Rights Act provisions the Supreme Court struck down.
About 700 people attended a luncheon for the state's largest black Democratic Party caucus.
African-Americans are crucial to Clinton's campaign. They will likely make up a majority of the Democratic primary electorate in several Southern states.

Video - Hillary Clinton On Gun Violence Prevention

Video - Hillary Clinton Hits Republicans on Economy

Video - Anderson Cooper 360: Dangers of sexual herbal supplements

Video - ‘Britain to blame for Israeli-Palestinian conflict’ – George Galloway

Is Ankara putting out false information about peace rally bombings?

Fehim Taştekin 

In an apparent attempt to hide its negligence, the Turkish government has imposed a media blackout on the probe into twin suicide bombings that claimed at least 99 lives at an Oct. 10 peace rally in Ankara. Turkish authorities’ failure to stop the assailants, who reportedly were on the National Intelligence Organization’s (MIT) watch list, points to serious government culpability. In addition to gagging the press, the government appears to be leaking information designed to muddy the waters.

In what amounts to a mind-boggling scenario, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has trotted out the motley crew of usual suspects: the Islamic State, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the far-left underground Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) and the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Davutoglu has also said investigators are looking into possible links between IS and the PKK; this claim is being whispered persistently into the ears of journalists and opinion makers. An extraordinary effort appears to be under way to lead the public by the nose rather than to shed light on the attack.
Regardless of where the probe ends up, one fact is indisputable: The government, through its domestic politics and Syria policy, has created a climate of hostility and aggression toward its opponents. Another fact: the security failure of not preventing the bombings is plain as day. Given these two points alone, the government can’t shrug off responsibility for the carnage.
According to findings not yet announced as official, the two alleged bombers have been identified as Yunus Emre Alagoz and Omer Deniz Dundar. Both were on the wanted lists of the police and the MIT as prospective suicide bombers. The police have established that the men arrived in Ankara in separate cars from the border province of Gaziantep, possibly after crossing from Syria. Alagoz was already well-known to security forces as the elder brother of Abdurrahman Alagoz, the alleged suicide bomber who killed 34 leftist activists in the border town of Suruc on July 20. Authorities said both brothers belonged to the so-called Dokumacilar group of young men from Adiyaman recruited for the jihad in Syria.
The findings from the Suruc and Ankara attacks, as well as the June 5 bombing of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) rally in Diyarbakir, all point to the same group from Adiyaman. Twenty-one of its members — 18 Adiyaman locals and three foreign women married to group members — had been placed on the security forces' watch list after intelligence found they had been trained as suicide bombers, had returned to Turkey and had formed sleeper cells.
Moreover, long before the bombings, desperate families had alerted authorities to their sons’ alleged activities. Some even pleaded for their arrest. Dundar's father told the daily Radikal, “I went many times to the police to get my son back from Syria. In 2014, he returned from Syria and stayed with me for eight months. I filed a complaint with the police and asked them to put him in prison. They took his testimony and let him go. Eight months later, he went back to Syria.”
The family of Orhan Gonder, who allegedly planted two bombs at the HDP rally and was captured in Gaziantep afterwards, had done the same. Gonder’s mother recounted how she went to the police repeatedly, even before her son left for Syria. The young man was interrogated in June 2014 and then walked away. A year later, he hit the headlines as the alleged rally bomber.
It was common knowledge that the young men regularly gathered at the Islam Tea House in Adiyaman, run by the Alagoz brothers. One by one, the regulars at the cafe had joined jihadist groups in Syria. The tea house was eventually closed down after persistent complaints by families. According to Gonder's cousin, the police were aware of the recruiting there, but did nothing to stop it.
In 2013, the Turkish press was already reporting that dozens of young men from Adiyaman had joined IS as well as Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham. Disillusioned by the lack of police response, some parents tried to find their sons in Syria by themselves. Dundar’s father told Radikal how he had tracked his son down in Aleppo, but had returned home without him after his life was threatened. Another man managed to bring his son home after paying a ransom.
It has emerged that the security forces had received intelligence of a bomb plot against the Ankara rally three days in advance, along with a list of 16 possible perpetrators, including Alagoz and Dundar. The photos of the 16 men had been sent to all the security forces in July.
Davutoglu’s explanation as to why the bombers could not have been stopped has sparked controversy in its own right. In a live interview this week, he argued that the rule of law prevented blanket, pre-emptive arrests. “When there is a sleeper cell, we can’t act like Syria or other countries, just rounding them all up and locking them away. Ultimately, these are people living in this society, and they could have been deluded and so on, but one has to act according to the law,” he said. “Turkey has a certain list of people considered potential suicide bombers. You know, they could be preparing a certain act, but as long as this does not transform into real action, or if you lack information that this act could [actually] happen, you can’t make arrests.”
Yet, the government has at its disposal a law enabling detention based on “reasonable doubt.” The law, passed last year despite strong objections from the opposition, has been readily used against critical journalists, activists and business people.
Regardless of who the bombers were, the government is responsible for creating a political climate that emboldens violence. The attacks in Diyarbakir, Suruc and Ankara took place in an environment that encourages assailants, allows for mob violence against government opponents and legitimizes unlawfulness. The domestic and external contexts of the bombings are important:
  • As a result of the government’s Syria policy, dangerous armed groups clustered in Turkey’s border regions. They recruited Turks and set up cells in cities across the country. Now, they pose two big risks: They could turn their weapons on Turkey if Ankara’s Syria policy changes, and these individuals or groups could be used as tools or fronts in Turkey’s internal conflicts.
  • The government uses dangerous rhetoric against Turkey’s Kurdish movement. In a bid to discredit the Syrian Kurds’ autonomy drive, it has equated the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD) with the PKK and propagates that the PYD-PKK duo is more dangerous than IS. This tactic has laid the ground work for violence against Kurds in Turkey. Similarly, groups fighting the Kurds in Syria have come to see the HDP as an enemy through the PKK link.
  • The Suruc bombing targeted Turkish groups in solidarity with the Kurds. Turkish groups' alignment with dissident Kurds throws a wrench in the AKP works, irking the state establishment, hence, the war on the HDP, which seeks to embrace Turks as well. The Diyarbakir bombing directly targeted the HDP, while the peace rally in Ankara had brought together people from myriad segments of Turkish society, challenging the government's policy of war. Thus, the bombing amounted to punishing Turkish-Kurdish solidarity.
  • The government has created a climate that legitimizes mob violence against the HDP. According to party sources, nearly 500 attacks have targeted HDP offices in recent months. Yet, the assailants have not been captured or punished, which means a de facto immunity has been granted to violence against the HDP and leftist forces in general.
  • Security arrangements for public demonstrations and meetings do not adequately cover opposition events. As in Suruc and Diyarbakir, the rally in Ankara lacked the necessary security measures. Even worse, police used pepper gas and truncheons against participants scrambling to help the injured and turned a blind eye to harassment by nationalist groups outside the hospitals treating the survivors.
Although the independence of the current probe is doubtful, the initial findings still paint an unfavorable picture for the government. As a result, a full media blackout was imposed on the investigation Oct. 14, including a ban on “criticism.” Turks are now unable to even discuss why and how the deadliest bombing in their modern history happened. This leads to the inevitable question of what the government is trying to cover up.

Read more:

Can Turkey be ISIL’s next stage?

Aydoğan Vatandaş 

The twin bombing in Ankara, which left at least 97 Turkish citizens dead at a peace rally last week, triggered questions about the capacity of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and whether it could mobilize the masses for further and bigger purposes while Turkey is on the way to another national election due on Nov. 1. 

To answer this question, one should examine the ideology of ISIL as well as whether the “Salafi religious order” or “denomination” has any ground or impact on Turkish religious identity.
Another question that should be asked is whether the current Turkish government, which is controlled by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his close circle, has any vulnerability in combatting ISIL ideology, religious interpretations and terrorism.
It is true that after Sept. 11, the word Salafism and its relation to violence have received a broad range of scholarly attention, particularly in Western academia, and there are numerous different definitions of Salafism. But in sum, Salafi ideology and its interpretation of Islam is actually based on the idea of purifying Islam by ignoring the entire tradition that came after the Umayyad Dynasty.
Therefore, it is safe to claim that in the early 19th century right after the Wahhabi riots on the Arabian Peninsula, Salafism recreated the conflict between Mu'awiyah and Ali, taking sides with Mu'awiyah and aimed to resurrect the Umayyad Dynasty by claiming it to be the only genuine Islamic state in history.
By relying on Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (780–855), who was a staunch opponent of any teachings other than core Islamic sources, they ignored the tradition of philosophy, Sufism and metaphysics and initiated a very strict and narrow interpretation of Islam by ignoring even traditional Sunnism. Any other applications and interpretations of Islam were left out, ignored and even accused of apostasy. Because of that, in the literature, Salafi ideology is also known as Takfirism or Takfiri ideology.
Now the question is whether Salafism has any roots in Turkey or not. Can Turkey be the next stage for ISIL?
By taking into account the influence of Wahhabi thinkers on the emergence of intellectual Salafism, which also triggered the emergence of Islamism as an ideology, it is safe to say that this linkage also found a way to reach political Islam in many Muslim countries including Turkey. An important indication of the vulnerability of the Turkish government in ideologically combatting Salafi ideology and ISIL is that Salafism has already found room in theology faculties.
In a 2013 Al Monitor article titled “A Salafi Assault on Turkish Theology?” author Mustafa Akyol wrote that the decision of Turkey's Higher Education Board (YÖK) to eliminate some secular courses such as philosophy in theology faculties might be an indication of a Salafi influence in the Justice and Development (AKP) government.

After writing his critical piece about the AKP's decision, Akyol has since written that he has received dozens of emails from concerned professors and other lecturers in Turkey's theology faculties. They were all disturbed, if not outraged, by YÖK's decision. One of them argued: “This decision will limit the theology graduates' ability to grasp secular society and open their way to be influenced by the Wahhabi/Salafi strain of thought. It also represents a return to the dogmatic madrassa system of the era of decline, which only saw tafseer [Quranic exegesis], fiqh [Islamic jurisprudence] and hadith as necessary sciences. This change in the curriculum will make Islamic horizons more narrow and more shallow.”
Another professor of theology similarly argued that this new curriculum was tantamount “to disabling critical thinking … and opening the way to Salafi-style thinking.”
On the other hand, is it just a coincidence that thousands of police officers, of which many were experts in Salafi terrorism, were expelled from the police department in the last two years?

Turkish security establishment vulnerable to Salafi terrorism

Although we don't know whether it is a coincidence or not, it is obvious that the Turkish security establishment is more vulnerable to Salafi terrorism than ever.
Is it just a coincidence that while Erdoğan's government provides new room and opportunities for Salafi ideology in Turkey, he is trying to close the most successful schools in Turkey, which are considered the antidote of radicalism all over the world? President Erdoğan was also accused of sending arms to ISIL in January 2014. The prosecutors and military personnel who documented this illegal activity of the Turkish government were jailed.
Is it a coincidence that all social, political and religious groups which ideologically and intellectually oppose the Salafi ideology or ISIL are also demonized by the Turkish government?
Thus, it is safe to predict that the Turkish government has no power to ideologically or intellectually combat ISIL, while the Salafi interpretation of Islam has already found room in the Turkish state establishment.
Unfortunately, we don't have empirical data or surveys that could provide the Salafi population of Turkey. A 2013 survey conducted by the Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs provides some data about the denominational background of Turkish society. The data indicate that 77.5 percent of Turkish Muslims identify themselves as Hanafi Muslims. The Hanafi School is known as one of the four major “schools of law” in Islamic tradition, which is also known as considerably moderate and liberal. However, the survey provides very limited information about the preferences of the other 22.5 percent of the population.
I personally believe that the researchers had a chance to measure the Salafi influence in Turkish society if they had asked the right questions but they intentionally did not.
Turkey is on the edge of the biggest political and social turmoil in its history. During these turbulent times, ISIL is trying to gain power on the ground especially in some rural areas of middle Anatolia.
After 13 years of power, the AKP is not capable of representing the majority of Turkish people. The party lost its majority in the June general election and it's very likely that they will face a similar result in the next election on Nov. 1.
President Erdoğan's obsession not to accept that reality deepens the tension and polarization in Turkish society. Some even believe that the government is intentionally increasing the tension to give them a reason to postpone the elections. If the tension and polarization would cause societal unrest, ISIL would do its best to gain some power on the ground and mobilize some segments of society.
The obvious fact is that they have already started it.

If a new government emerges after the next election and the intelligence and security establishment could be reorganized, ISIL won't be able to achieve any of its goals in Turkey.

Saudis desperate as they are not winning the war in Yemen


While Saudi Arabia seems to be serious about ‘co-operating’ with Russia in ‘eliminating’ Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq, the real motive behind this co-operation and increased engagement with Moscow may be the continuing need to stabilize the oil market.
This does not, however, mean Saudi Arabia is not trying to influence Russia with regard to the latter’s military campaign in Syria. While it could not prevent the Russians from engaging militarily in Syria, Riyadh is certainly trying to influence the outcome by re-engaging with the Russians and by reaching, what the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called, mutual “understanding.”
But had Saudi Arabia been so serious about elimination of IS and other terrorist networks, it could not have supported IS and Al-Qaeda in Yemen against Houthis, nor designed the policy of supporting proxy groups in Yemen after the catastrophic failure of this very policy in Syria. As it stands, they do not seem to have learnt any lesson from their failure there.
Reports say IS units are gaining strength in Yemen due to the financial and military support being provided by Saudi Arabia.  And since their official “We have arrived” announcement in April 2015, IS have carried out a number of operations in the country.
According to Abayomi Azikiwe, the editor of the portal Pan-African News Wire, radical Islamists are enjoying strong support in Yemen and he is convinced that the Saudi coalition had access to US intelligence reports throughout its operations.
In a videotaped message, an IS commander thus stated their objective: “We have come to Yemen, with men hungry for your blood to avenge the Sunnis and take back the land they have occupied.”
Their objective perfectly ‘coincides’ with that of Saudi Arabia that, too, is trying to ‘liberate’ the land captured by Houthi fighters since the beginning of the conflict. Indeed, the objective is to ‘liberate’ the land of the Houthis once and for all. Hence, IS bombing of Houthis.
Although the ‘official’ announcement came in April, the first major attack carried out by IS’s newly announced division the Green Brigade in Yemen was in March which left at least 150 killed and more than 300 injured.
Historically speaking, Yemen has been a major feeder for jihadi groups, pumping fighters into Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya etc. That is to say, IS does have a pipeline of fighters that it might try to tap into. According to a Yemeni official’s statement, IS are already engaged in a propaganda against Al-Qaeda to wean their fighters away from them.
They are found telling Al-Qaeda’s recruits that they can better fund operations against Houthis than AQAP—Al-Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula.  That they have “more funds” than Al-Qaeda is perhaps an indication of a “secret” financer they have in Yemen. While IS does have “oil-money” in Syria and Iraq to finance their operations, they do not have such a source in Yemen, so far.
Aimen Dean, a former al Qaeda insider who now runs a Gulf-based security consultancy, is reported to have said that IS began setting up its stranglehold in Yemen a year ago, with about 80 people. But their strength has grown to about 300 militants. Copious funding from IS coffers, al Qaeda’s inability to attack the Houthis regularly, and losses of al Qaeda leaders in drone attacks had discouraged its habitual supporters and led to a series of defections.
“They are supplanting al Qaeda and presenting themselves as the credible alternative,” he said of IS.
While IS’s emergence is likely to intensify into a conflict between them and AQAP, the actor standing to benefit the most from it is Saudi Arabia because AQAP and IS are, as they already have been, directing their energies towards killing the Houthis and their sympathisers in Yemen. With Saudi Arabia providing, wittingly or unwittingly, a sort of “air cover” to both AQAP and IS, these two forces are likely to intensify their drive against the Houthis.
The Saudis are, in this way, depending upon them for ground operations as Saudi forces have repeatedly failed to gain their desired objectives. As a matter of fact, Saudi forces’ operational capacity can be gauged from the fact that they had to cooperate with the militants of the so-called ‘Southern Movement’ in a successful attempt to recapture Aden which was being held by the Houthis.
In addition, a coalition of Saudi troops actually shared control of the southern Yemeni cities with militants of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), without ever challenging them. Detachments of this terrorist group entered the city of Zinjibar and Aden in southern Yemen and shared control over these areas with the troops of the Saudi coalition. Residents of this port city puzzled Reuters reporters with claims that the city was flooded with militants fighting under a black banner once the Houthis left.
All this can be explained quite simply. AQAP militants and the troops of the Saudi coalition are not allies, but while in desperate need to launch an offensive into the central part of the country, the Saudis decided to make an agreement with these terrorists and, in turn, happily gave them control of the southern cities.
The Saudis, at the moment, are facing threat not from the Houthis alone. The intensity of this threat multiplies when the local Shia factor is taken into consideration. Were Saudi Arabia’s Shia population to join the Houthis against their mutual oppressor, the Saudis might find themselves encircled from within and without. Such an alliance between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia’s local Shia population will also provide an additional impetus to IS, which thrives on its sectarian appeal, to increase its presence in Yemen and multiply its attacks too.
The Saudis are not winning the war and it is making them desperate. Marred by their inability to launch ground operations and win battles, they have reached the breaking point. In their desperation to avoid another defeat after Syria, not only are they willingly — directly and indirectly — supporting almost every group that is ready to counter the Houthis, but also drawing other countries’ armies into the war zone.
Only a few days ago, news agencies reported the transfer of almost 800 Egyptian soldiers to Yemen. Although Egypt had earlier refused to take part in the conflict, it has now decided to take the plunge.
The purchase of the French Mistral ships on the money provided by the UAE and the ongoing rearmament of Egyptian troops sponsored by the Saudi royal family seem to have combined to force Cairo into taking part in the war. However, they can still be least expected to advance on ground operations. What they can at the most be expected to do is to hold ground wherever they must.
Given Saudi Arabia’s precarious internal situation and Yemen’s situation as it is escalating into a much expanded and complicated war, the Saudis and IS cannot be expected to become “allies” in the literal sense of the word. While they do share a common enemy, IS also has declared “jihad” against the kingdom itself. For instance, IS claimed responsibility of recent bombing of Qasr hotel and other targets used by the Arab coalition.
However, despite this claim, the official news agency of the UAE chose to pin responsibility on the Houthis for this bombing. And when asked about their policy against AQAP and ISIS in Yemen, officials of the Coalition said that they would deal with such groups once the government of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who was ousted by the Houthis in January, was reinstated, thus unwittingly implying that until that Government is reinstated, the Arab coalition and these groups remain partners. Although uneasy but still “allies.”

The Phantom of Syria: Does ‘Moderate’ Syrian Opposition Really Exist?

The US supplied the so-called “moderate” Syrian opposition with weapons and ammunition. However, the existence of such opposition is doubtful because moderate insurgent groups were either defeated or became part of radical Islamist organizations.

The US initiative to supply the so-called moderate Syrian opposition with 50 tons of weapons and ammunition raised many questions as there is no such phenomenon in Syria right now, experts argue.
Members of the moderate opposition were either killed or joined radical Islamist groups, and therefore ‘moderate’ oppositional forces simply do not exist.
The US recently supplied what it views as a ‘moderate’ opposition with 50 tons of weapons and ammunition to fight the ISIL terrorist group in Syria, said Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren. 
US military transport planes delivered 112 containers with small arms and hand grenades to Al-Hasakah Governorate in the north of Syria.
However, First Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation Vladimir Jabarov expressed his solidarity with the opinions of a number of experts, saying that the notorious ‘moderate’ opposition consists of some kind of "phantom people".
"Most recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that we are ready to cooperate with the ‘moderate’ opposition if someone would help us to distinguish where the terrorists are, and where the members of the ‘moderate’ opposition are,” Jabarov told Radio Sputnik.
“However, for some reason no one names them. They are some kind of phantom people and it is not clear who Americans provide their aid to," Vladimir Jabarov said, adding that the US may once again fund terrorists as it already has in Afghanistan.
At the same time, Russia is making a real contribution to the fight against terrorism in Syria, the politician argued. After Russia started its military operation, the terrorists had to retreat, because the Syrian government received real support and help.
“The results of Russia’s actions are clearly visible. The whole world and the neighboring Arab countries understand this, they see real help from Russia in the fight against terrorism,” Jabarov stated.

Read more:

Video - Kerry Talks Climate Change, Food at Milan Expo

Presidential Polls 2016: Hillary Rodham Clinton Surging After Debate

Fresh off her sterling showing in the first of six Democratic presidential debates, overall party front-runner Hillary Clinton has surged into a virtual tie with rival Bernie Sanders in the crucial, early-voting state of New Hampshire.
In a Suffolk University/Boston Globe post-debate poll, Politico reports Clinton now bags 37 percent of the vote to Sanders 35 and 11 percent for still formally unannounced potential candidate and current vice president Joe Biden.
The poll also found that just 36 percent of interviewees are hoping Biden officially enters the race for what would he his third Democratic run for the Oval Office.
The surge in support comes as welcome news for Clinton, who just over a month ago was polling at just 28 percent in the state, according to a NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll and trailing Sanders by some 14 points. In that poll, Biden also fared significantly better at 18 percent.
The Suffolk poll was conducted between Oct. 14-15, surveying 500 likely Democratic primary voters, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
A Huff Post/You Gov poll also found following the debate 52 percent of registered Democratic voters insisted they want Clinton as the party's official nominee, up from 44 percent going into the paneled discussion.
In addition, 52 percent of all respondents said their view of Clinton improved over the course of the CNN telecast, while 42 percent said the same of chief party rival Sanders.
An NBC online poll also found 56 percent of respondents thought Clinton won the debate and only three percent thought she came out of the forum in worse shape than when she went in.
Meanwhile, Sanders registered a net score of +30, showing he too managed to appeal to a significant portion of party voters.

Video - California interstate turned into a muddy lake

Video - President Obama and the President of the Republic of Korea - Joint Press Conference - Oct 16, 2015

Video - President Obama's Weekly Address: Working for Meaningful Criminal Justice Reform

Hillary Clinton backs Obama's move to keep troops in Afghanistan

Hillary Clinton supports President Barack Obama’s decision to keep 5,500 US troops in Afghanistan when he leaves the White House in 2017.

Clinton said in an interview with CNN, the first part of which was broadcast on Friday, that Obama’s moves were an example of “a leader who has strong convictions about what he would like to see happen but also pays attention to what’s going on in the real world”.

Obama planned to keep only a small US military presence in Afghanistan, which was invaded in 2001, by the end of his presidency. But military leaders have said the Afghans need more support from the US to fight the Taliban and maintain gains made in the past 14 years.
Clinton, who served as Obama’s secretary of state during his first term, said the US wanted to bring its troops home and “we certainly don’t want them engaged in on-the-ground combat. We want them to help support and train the Afghan army”.
“So I can’t predict where things will be in January of 2017. But I support the president’s decision,” she said.
The White House’s announcement thrusts the future of Afghanistan into the 2016 race, an issue that has received scant attention up to this point and was not addressed during the first Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday.
Clinton has not talked extensively during her campaign about how she would pursue a peaceful transition from the war in Afghanistan.
During a Friday afternoon campaign appearance in Nashua, Clinton said Obama did not reach his decision “easily” and noted the partnership the US has established with Afghan president Ashraf Ghani.
“We have invested a lot of blood and a lot of treasure in trying to help that country and we can’t afford for it to become an outpost of the Taliban and [Islamic State] one more time, threatening us, threatening the larger world,” Clinton said.
In a June 2014 interview at the Council on Foreign Relations, Clinton said that she would be open to extending the timeline for US withdrawal from Afghanistan but it would depend upon “conditions on the ground and what was being asked for”.
Clinton negotiated with then-Afghan president Hamid Karzai on a bilateral security agreement toward the end of her tenure that would have set the legal parameters for the residual force to stay in Afghanistan. She has said she was surprised when Karzai refused to sign it.
Clinton has said that setting a timeline for withdrawal was an important step but the Afghanistan government would need to step up to make it work.
As secretary of state, Clinton supported Obama’s troop surge in Afghanistan, writing in her book Hard Choices that she was “under no illusions about how difficult it would be to turn around this war. But all things considered I believed that the president had made the right choice and put us in the best position to succeed.”

UNHCR in Malaysia treating Pakistani Christian asylum seekers unfairly

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Malaysia is showing a biased attitude towards Pakistani Christians seeking asylum in the country.

In keeping with details, the UNHCR is treating Muslim asylum seekers from Myanmar, Syria, Iraq and other Islamic countries on priority basis. Whereas, the cases of Pakistani Christians seeking asylum are being delayed unnecessarily.

For this cause Pakistan Christian Congress has been raising this issue on various platforms. PCC has received a report from Malaysia that initially UNHCR gives Pakistani Christians a time period of two years at least for first interview after which they would be registered as refugees. After keeping them waiting for two years already they are made to wait for another two or three years that the UNHCR issues a date for the final interview after which their asylum status is decided.

Also read: Muslim teachers beat a Christian head master saying “You are a Choora how can you be our boss”

PCC further criticised that in sharp contrast, UNHCR is giving a period of few months to Muslims asylum seekers from Myanmar, Syria, Iraq and various other Islamic countries.

Moreover what adds to the plight of Pakistani Christians seeking asylum in Malaysia that the Malaysian police regard all refugees as un-registered and illegitimate until they do not appear for an initial interview with the UNHCR after which they are registered as refugees. In view of this, when Pakistani Christians seeking asylum wait for two or three years for an initial interview they face maltreatment and harassment from the Malaysian police for these two or three years until their first interview with the UNHCR.

In this regard, President of Pakistan Christian Congress PCC, Dr. Nazir S. Bhatti has shown great concern over mistreatment with Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, and Singapore. He has strongly criticised the offices of UNHCR in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Hong Kong. “PCC urges Secretary General Ban Ki Moon of UNO to direct UNHCR to adopt same standards to deal with cases of Muslims and Christian refuges in South and South Eastern countries.”

At the same time, Dr. Bhatti urged the European Union to take in the Pakistani Christian asylum seekers and facilitate them as well. He also urged the international NGO’s and humanitarian organisations to help the Pakistani Christian refugees stranded in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and in Hong Kong.

- See more at:

"د قبایلي سیمو بې کوره خلک دي تر ژمې وړاندې ستانه کړل شي"

د پاکستان د سرحدونو او قبابلي چارو لپاره د سینیټ قايمه کمیټۍحکومت ته ویلي چې د ژمي تر راتګ وړاندې دې له قبایلي سیمو بې 

کوره کړل شوي خلک خپلو سیمو ته ستانه کړي.

: د پاکستان د سرحدونو او قبابلي چارو لپاره د سینیټ قايمه کمیټۍحکومت ته ویلي چې د ژمي تر راتګ وړاندې دې له قبایلي سیمو بې کوره کړلشوي خلک خپلو سیمو ته ستانه کړي.
دا غوښتنه د جمعې په مازیګر په اسلام اباد کې د یادې کمېټۍ په غونډه کې شوې ده چې مشري یې سنېټر هلال الرحمان کوله.
په دې غونډه کې د پاکستان د سرحدونو او قبایلي چارو – سېفران – وفاقي وزیر او په قابلي سیمو کې د پرمختګ د چارو ادارې – فاټا سیکرټیریټ – چارواکوهم ګډون درولود.
 د سرحدونو او قبابلي چارو لپاره قايمه کمیټۍ د حکومت او فاټا سیکرټرېټ چارواکو ته وویل چې د شمالي وزیرستان او نورو قبایلي سیمو د بې کوره کړل شوو خلکو له خوا یې شکایتونه ترلاسه کړي دي چې د حکومت له پلوه د نه پاملرنې له کبله له ستونزو سره مخامخ دي.
خو د سېفران وفاقي وزیر او فاټا سیکرټیریټ چارواکو وویل چې دوی له بې کوره کړل شوو خلکو سره ټولې ممکنې مرستې او همکارۍ کوي.
تر دې غونډه وروسته د یادې کمیټۍ یو غړي سینټر تاج محمد اپریدي مشال راډیو ته وویل چې دوی له حکومته غوښتتنه وکړه چې بې کوره کړل شوي خلک دي تر ژمي وړاندې خپلو سیمو ته ستانه کړي.
دا په داسې حال کې ده چې د شمالي وزیرستان د بې کوره کړل شوو خلکو مشرانو په وار وار د جرګو له لارې له حکومته غوښتنه کړېده چې دوی دي ژر تر ژره خپلو سیمو ته ولېږل شي.
د پاکستان پوځ د ۲۰۱۴م کال د جون میاشتې پر پنځلسمه نېټه په شمالي وزیرستان کې د وسله والو پر ضد عملیات پیل کړي وو چې لا هم روان دي.
د دې عملیات له کبله تر یو میلیون زیات خلک بې کوره شو چې زیارتره د خیبر پښتونخوا په بنو او د افغانستان په خوست کې مېشت دي.
د دې بې کوره کړل شوو خلکو مشرانو په وار وار له مشال راډیو سره د مرکو پر مهال ویلي چې د پوځي عملیاتو له کبله د دوی کورونه او کاروبارونه لا خو له منځه تللي او لا هم په پراخه کچه زیانمن شوي دي.
د دوی په وینا ، د قبایلي سیمو پر نامه چې نړۍ پاکستان ته کومې مرستې ورکوي هغه د قبایلي سیمو خلکو ته نه رسېږي.

Balochistan Facing Severe Food Insecurity

Adnan Aamir
Balochistan is facing severe food insecurity, said participants of one day consultative dialogue, on Wednesday.
30 out of 32 districts of Balochistan are food insecure and only Quetta and Jaffarabad are food secure as per the report of Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
These issues were revealed during a one-day consultative dialogue held to celebrate world food day in Quetta Press Club by Azat foundation in collaboration with HARD, ActionAid, Pakistan Kissan Ittehad and Agriculture research department of Balochistan.

30 out of 32 districts of Balochistan are food insecure – SDPI

World food day is celebrated every year on 16th October and theme for this year is Social protection and agriculture: Breaking the cycle of rural poverty
Speaking on the occasion, Marcel Stallen, International Project Manager of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said that a lot of work needs to be done to make Balochistan food secure.
Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) has stated that 29 out of 32 districts of Balochistan are facing drought conditions due to fewer rainfalls last year.
“At the moment FAO is working in 14 districts of Balochistan on projects funded by USAID and AUSAID,” said Mr. Stallen. He added, “Balochistan government should convince international donors to fund FAO so that we can expand our operations in Balochistan.”
Commenting on the existing agriculture policy of Balochistan, Mr. Stallen remarked that it’s outdated. “FAO has developed a new agriculture policy for Balochistan which is in its final stages and its awaiting approval from provincial cabinet,” he informed the participants of the meeting.

5 rivers in Khuzdar district alone dump 350,000 cusecs of water in Arabian Sea very year – Sultan Shahwani.

Highlighting the reasons for food insecurity in Balochistan, Sultan Shahwani of HARD Balochistan said, 5 rivers in Khuzdar district alone dump 350,000 cusecs of water in Arabian Sea very year.
80 percent people of Balochistan depend on agriculture for their livelihood either directly or indirectly, claimed Naseer Shahwani, representative of Zamindar Action committee (ZAC) which is the union of agriculturalists of Balochistan.
He alleged that all funds allocated for agricultural development in Quetta during tenure of this government have been embezzled and ended in pockets of activists of ruling parties.

Panjgur district of Balochistan alone can produce wheat for entire Pakistan – Naseer Shahwani.

Mr. Shahwani further claimed that Balochistan can be food basket for entire Pakistan if due attention is provided to agriculture in the province. “Panjgur district of Balochistan alone can produce wheat for entire Pakistan,” said representative of ZAC.
Ahmad Jan Baloch, a social activist, contended the assertion that Balochistan is an agricultural province. “Pakistan is an agricultural country but not Balochistan,” claimed Mr. Baloch.
Participants of the consultative dialogue lamented the absence of senior officials of agriculture department of Balochistan.
“We invited Secretary and Director General Agriculture department but they didn’t bother to come,” Zahid Mengal, executive director of Azat Foundation told the participants.

Secretary and Director General Agriculture department were invited to consultative meeting but they didn’t bother to come – Zahid Mengal.

Other who spoke at the occasion include Dr. Khair Mohammad and Ghulam Jan who are agriculture experts, Gul Khan Naseer Head of Programs of Azat Foundation, Noor Ahmad Mengal from Pakistan Kissan Ittehad and Arif Shah Kakar, Associate Professor of Agriculture college Quetta.
Meeting was concluded on the note that both provincial and federal government need to take urgent steps to make Balochistan food secure.

Pakistan - Asghar Khan case - What happened in 1990

There is a reason why the murmurings from the 1990 election and the Asghar Khan case lodged by the veteran politician are still important today. The plea filed by Asghar Khan before a three-member SC bench alleged that the ISI had circulated enormous amount of money totalling over Rs140 million through the now defunct Mehran Bank to determine the outcome of the election, prevent the PPP from assuming power and bring the IJI led by Nawaz Sharif to power. The SC, in a historic verdict delivered in October 2012, had ordered a full FIA investigation into the accusations and the return of any money given out to politicians. It had also sought an enquiry against intelligence officials involved in the said transactions. The inquiry by the FIA was begun in late 2013, almost a year after the SC verdict. General Aslam Baig, the military chief at the time of the 1990 polls, and one of the main accused in the case has yet to make any statement and has filed a review petition. But beyond these technicalities the case could still influence politics today. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, accused of accepting Rs33 lakh from Mehran Bank, has appeared before the FIA panel and stated that he cannot recall being given the money but that many donations came in during the said elections and that if any wrongdoing was proved he would return the money with interest. This seems too easy a manner to push aside a very serious charge. It is to be seen what other politicians have to say. The interior minister hinted recently that military officials had declined to appear in the inquiry. We need further details about this.

The fact is that what happened in 1990 is still very important today. Essentially the democratic will of the people was stolen from them by an institution, and an entire election manipulated to show an entirely different result. At a time when we still hear allegations of election rigging it is vital we get to the bottom of the matter. If an election can be intervened in by outside forces it makes the entire exercise in democracy rather futile. We must remember that polls cost a huge amount of taxpayers’ money and their outcome cannot simply by moulded to fit the interests of a particular bloc. For these reasons it is vital that we see all politicians and other players cooperate with the FIA. It is hard to believe that the Sharifs cannot recall being handed over a very large amount of money in a secret deal orchestrated by the then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan. Younis Habib, who then headed the Mehran Bank, has also given a statement that is impossible to believe by saying that the money was given to another Mr Sharif rather than the current prime minister. The repercussions from this case are widespread. We continue to live in fear of interventions in our democratic working. To overcome these, the Asghar Khan case must reach a definite conclusion. 

Pakistan - Federalism Under Squeeze

By - Afrasiab Khattak

The prolonged and mad fixation of the two big political parties and the country’s media with the by election of NA 122 Lahore kept the political focus of the country hostage for quite some time. For many days there was very little space in the so called mainstream media of the country for issues like war on terror in the country, military operation in FATA, the miseries of millions of Pashtun IDPs, bloodshed in Balochistan, turmoil in Karachi, load shedding, the menace of polio, and last but not the least the deteriorating situation on both the eastern and western borders of the country. It was flabbergasting to see the obsession of the two big parties withbye-elections in just one constituency of the National Assembly, which is a house of 342 members. It is particularly so when the federal government of Muslim League (N) has a comfortable majority and loss of one seat would not have made any difference in the parliamentary strength of the ruling party. There is one and only one explanation for the aforementioned obsession. The contest was not for just one National Assembly seat. It was about Takht-e-Lahore (throne of Lahore) which decides as to who will rule the country. So the fixation with NA 122 was basically a mere symptom of the deeper and more serious malaise, the growing Punjabisation of Pakistani politics and further marginalization of the population wise smaller units of the federation in the last few years.
Now to call these phenomena new one would be factually wrong. The hegemony of the Punjabi ruling elite over the state system and its policies has dogged the country through out its existence. Interestingly this imbalance prevailed even in the undivided Pakistan when the then East Pakistan (Bengal) had a bigger population than the population of all the four western provinces put together. The aforementioned imbalance was embedded in the state structure inherited by Pakistan from the colonial era. Pakistan had a week political class, week parliament and a week judiciary from day one. Compared to these institutions we got an over developed civil and military bureaucracy of the colonial system that launched the first coup in 1954 by dissolving the Constituent Assembly of the country. In 1955 One Unit was created by coercing all the provinces and regions to merge in West Pakistan Province with Lahore as its capital to counter the population weight of the then East Pakistan. But even then the East Pakistan had 54 percent of the country’s total population. So the then East Pakistan was forced to disenfranchise part of its population by accepting the principle of “ parity” (50 percent seats in the National Assembly) for “ greater national interests”. The martial law imposed in 1958 further reinforced this oppressive and exploitative system. This development led to severe crises that culminated in the disintegration of the country in 1971, a history well known to all.
In the aftermath of the debacle in East Pakistan the ruling establishment dominated by military and civil bureaucracy had to beat a retreat and elected representatives of the people were able to frame a federal, parliamentary democratic Constitution in the country in 1973. But the authoritarian establishment could not reconcile with a federal democratic system. So it consistently worked for undermining the system. After learning of the previous two unsuccessful efforts, in 1977 General Zia led a successful coup and the first casualty was the Constitution. It was not only suspended but its federal and democratic structure was also undermined by distortions and deformations inserted in it by the military dictator. Subsequently Musharraf imposed many more distortions in the Constitution. After the 2008 general elections democratic forces of the country tried to cleans the Constitution from distortions and deformations and bring the original federal and democratic character of the Constitution back. Although they could only partially succeeded in achieving that aim but the 18th Constitutional Amendment was a landmark development in terms of abolition of the concurrent legislative list and devolution of power to the provinces.
PML-N had supported the 18th Amendment because it also did away with the ban on third time prime ministership inserted in the Constitution by GeneralMusharraf to prevent Mian Nawaz Sharif and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto from becoming prime minister for the third time. Having achieved that purpose the current ruling party has not hidden its reservations about the 18th Amendment. It has revived ministries of health and education ministries in violation of the Constitution. The federal government has not been calling the constitutionally mandatory meetings of the Council of Common Interest (CCI) in 90 days. The unfinished task of devolution of powers under the 18th Amendment remains unfinished and there is no visible movement on this front. Federal government is not an abstract or neutral entity. It is by and large an extension of the Punjabi ruling elite. So for obvious reasons the ruling party is least interested in devolution of power and would roll back whatever is achieved so far.
But that is not all. The military dominated Pakistani state system is neither neutral nor politically inactive. It resorts to political engineering by tilting state policies into certain direction and at times by using naked coercion. The unlimited and growing powers of the apex committees, that do not figure anywhere in the country’s law or 
Constitution has practically reversed whatever little autonomy the provinces had enjoyed in the past. Provincial governments in Balochistan and Sindh have been rendered dangerously powerless. As if that was not enough PTI has expanded its political power base with the clear support of the establishment. Nationalist and progressive political forces (in comparative terms) in the smaller provinces, weather in power or in the opposition, have faced growing pressure of state institutions. Media control has played an important role in it for casting political leaders in the roles of either Devils or Angels. Alternative to a Punjab based PML (N) has been created in the shape of PTI, representing another faction of Punjabi elite. It is not surprising to see these developments accompanied by more overt support for Afghan Taliban confirming the nature of overall state policies.
These developments practically amount to a reversion to a not so invisible One Unit even without any pretension of its constitutionality. It’s a policy rejected by the people in the past and will be also resisted in the future. Using force to impose it will certainly lead to the rise of centrifugal forces and weakening of the forces believing in the federation. Make no mistake about it.