Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Video Report - #ISIS high on drugs, which Saudi Prince reportedly tried to smuggle


Jihad Meth is not a Myth: #ISIS high on drugs, which Saudi Prince reportedly tried to smuggle

Posted by In the NOW on Sunday, December 6, 2015

Video - Sanders: GOP Wins By "Dividing People Up"

US still hopes to hold Syria talks in New York: Kerry

House passes visa waiver reform bill with strong bipartisan support

As Republicans squabbled over Donald Trump’s controversial proposal to bar all Muslims from traveling to the United States, the House on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a bill imposing new restrictions on a visa waiver program that currently permits roughly 20 million people to enter the country annually.
The bill, which was approved on a 407 to 19 vote, would increase information and intelligence sharing between the United States and the 38 countries whose passport holders are allowed to visit the country without getting a visa and weed out travelers who have visited certain countries where they may have been radicalized.

There are significant differences between the House’s bill and a measure from Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), which has not yet been scheduled for a vote. But the strong showing in the House could put momentum behind efforts to include visa waiver legislation in the omnibus spending package – a must-pass bill that lawmakers are currently trying to finalize before the current government spending bill expires on Friday.
The House measure seeks to prevent anyone who has traveled to Syria, Iraq, Iran or Sudan since March 1, 2011 – the start of the Syrian civil war – from taking advantage of the waiver program, requiring instead that they submit to the traditional visa approval process, which requires an in-person application interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate. The Senate would impose a five-year restriction on individuals who have traveled to Iraq or Syria from using the waiver program. Both bills give the secretary of Homeland Security the authority to take countries out of the waiver system.
The biggest reason for reform of the program, lawmakers argue, is that thirty of the 38 countries whose passport-holders are eligible for the waiver program are in Europe, meaning most could likely come to the United States without a visa under present rules. Lawmakers are worried about those 5,000 to 30,000 radicalized individuals who have visited Syria and Iraq and hold European passports.
“That’s what this bill is designed to stop,” House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said in a statement. “We need to strengthen the security of the Visa Waiver Program to keep terrorists from reaching our shores.”
The House bill would also require that countries that wish to continue participating in the program issue passports with embedded chips containing a person’s biometric data, report information about stolen passports to Interpol and share information about known or suspected terrorists with the United States.
The proposal was drafted by a task force of Republican committee chairmen, who have been working on a roster of proposals to respond to the Paris terror attacks by stepping up security measures at home and abroad.
Democrats and Republicans don’t always see eye-to-eye on these proposals. For example, most Democrats have decried Republican attempts to suspend the admission of Syrian and Iraqi refugees until background check procedures improve, while most Republicans have dismissed Democrat-led attempts to prevent known or suspected terrorists from obtaining a firearm or explosive device.
But Democratic leaders anticipated their members would back the House visa waiver measure in large numbers.
“My sense is that most Democrats will take a look at this legislation and probably support it,” said Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.),  chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. “I think most people will take a look at this bill and say, this is probably the kind of place we can go to bipartisanly.”

White House: Donald Trump Has Disqualified Himself From Presidency

The White House on Tuesday said Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump's call for the United States to ban Muslims from entering the country disqualified him from becoming president and called on Republicans to reject him immediately.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Trump's campaign had a "dustbin of history" quality to it and said his comments were offensive and toxic.
Earnest said other Republican presidential candidates, who have pledged to support the person who eventually wins their party's nomination, should disavow Trump "right now."

Uncertain Status of FATA and GB

Not all Pakistani citizens are completely Pakistani citizens. While this was true for several minorities, such as the Ahmedis, whose rights contrast with the majority Sunni population, it is also true for large swathes of territory too. Places like Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) still do not enjoy the same constitutional protections that other Pakistani citizens do. They are administrative anomalies; a ramshackle and makeshift jumble of old colonial law, customary law, and incomplete legislative acts – which leaves their residents uncertain and unprotected.  Although the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has recently shifted its focus towards restructuring these faults, its promise of reform – like so many governments before – may yet be just another cosmetic change.
Addressing a rally in connection to Independence Day in GB, Information Minister Senator Pervaiz Rashid said the people of the province would get their “constitutional rights”, and will prosper due to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). At the same time the debate over the fate of FATA is also underway; the government is pushing for a merger with the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a section of tribal leaders and political representatives want FATA to be declared an autonomous province, while some moot a hybrid system – a provincially administered tribal area (PATA). Both regions, though different in history and administrative setup, are essentially arguing for the same thing – equal rights and powers as other provinces – and success of one campaign is bound to increase the pressure of the other.    
The demands seem reasonable and intuitive, and many will rightly wonder why after decades of independence are these regions still administered like colonies of an imperial power. The forces that kept the situation stagnant are at work again. Rich tribal elders reject the proposal because it would mean losing absolute control over their marble and coalmines and having to pay taxes, while losing a virtual indemnity from the national courts. In GB, giving provincial status would require the government to allocate funds and resources to the remote area, and letting go of decision-making power for the region. Perhaps this explains why Pervaiz Rashid’s speech skipped over the finer points of the promised “constitutional right”; does it mean provincial status or yet another piecemeal reform package?
The homogenization of government law and giving the protection of the constitution to all citizens should be the government’s top priority, regardless the opposition.

Pakistan, Daesh and the Western Muslim

In the space of less than a month, the terrorist non-state known as Daesh has done more to alter the dynamics of political discourse in the West than all the ‘peace-loving’, ‘moderate’ Muslims ever did in over half a century of post-colonial economic symbiosis and cultural coexistence. 

Waves upon waves of migrants from post-colonial states have settled in Europe and North America for the economic opportunity that those societies present. One of the most significant beneficiary groups have been Muslims from countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Morocco, Algeria and Somalia. Notwithstanding ‘the white man’s burden’, and the ghettoisation of some Muslim communities in the West, on the whole, Muslims from these countries have found more money, more freedom, and more hope in their new homes. Since they do not represent one whole, but rather slivers within a mosaic of the wider Muslim consciousness in the West, it has always been quite difficult to definitively articulate a portrait of the Western Muslim. 

This presents an utterly vexing challenge to organisations and networks like Al-Qaeda and Daesh. So, Al-Qaeda, Daesh and others sharing their values have sought to solve this privilege of abstraction, and this by-product of legitimate diversity. Al-Qaeda and Daesh both love Samuel Huntington for dummies, because the idea of a ‘clash of civilisations’ is their entry pass into relevance. 

Since the Western Muslim is one of the great manifestations of the potency of the Western liberal doctrine, and since the Western Muslim is one of the greatest manifestations of the universality of Islam, the Western Muslim is a bulwark against this clash of civilisations. The success, freedom and faith of the Western Muslim is among most potent existential threats to the world view of Samuel Huntington’s terrorist fans such as Al-Qaeda and Daesh.

Attacks like the November 13 carnage in Paris are designed to serve as pivots in the journey of the Western Muslim. Apart from the obvious objectives of terrorising ordinary people, of acquiring valuable newspaper real estate, and of capturing parts of both national discourses and the global discourse, the ‘civilisational’ terrorist of Daesh thrives on the hope of divisiveness as a principal externality of his or her actions. In the epic words of President George W Bush, “you’re either with us, or against us”. 

The Western Muslim, by definition, doesn’t have to choose, will not choose, and cannot choose. Attacks by Al-Qaeda and Daesh, and perhaps more importantly their rhetoric is meant to eat away at the institutional resilience of the Western Muslim – not at the individual level of course, but at the level of institutions and the Western liberal institutional design that, like it or not, protects, nurtures and empowers the individual, largely with little regard to the individual’s personal faith.

Of course, Al-Qaeda, Daesh or similar groups are not stupid. The game isn’t one-sided, or asymmetric. Attacks on Western targets obviously seek to force Western Muslims, in the case of the Paris attacks, Parisians and French Muslims, into uncomfortable positions, but in doing so they bank on Huntington’s construct of ‘culture’. Put another way, notwithstanding the institutional resilience that Western societies empower their citizens with (Muslim or not), the existential terrorists of Al-Qaeda and Daesh are betting on racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and Fox News.

They are terrified of the Obamas, the Merkels and the Trudeaus – leaders that instead of appealing to the lowest common denominators of people’s fears, actually rise above fear and proactively engage in the construct and building up of ‘the Western Muslim’.

What Al-Qaeda and Daesh hope for is the slow and steady rise of the other half of Samuel Huntington’s equation: the assertion of a narrative of ‘Western’ that is exclusive, and ideally, aggressively anti-Muslim.

They hope to squeeze the space for Western Muslims to be Western Muslims, by provoking a frontal assault on their freedom and security. Racism and xenophobia have always been part of the ugly underbelly of the highly industrialised, knowledge economies of western Europe and North America. One of the key policy objectives of Daesh today, and Al-Qaeda before it, has been to help mainstream this ugly underbelly by making the word ‘Muslim’ and the word ‘Islam’ pejorative terms, not merely inside the underbelly of Western liberal democratic discourse, but all over the glorious, excess-loving, opportunity-giving, face of it.

Over the weekend in France, the haters scored a small victory. After all the politically correct social media memes après the #ParisAttacks, the haters showed why their cynicism is more potent than the hopes of sappy romantics. Marine Le Pen’s xenophobic National Front in France had its best ever showing in the regional elections in France, setting up an absorbing run-off contest and putting France closer than it has ever been to electing outright racists in a major election.

In the United States, meanwhile, where religious freedom is taken far more seriously than in France, a generation of American politicians are learning how to speak about Muslims in a manner so divisive, that many Muslims have begun to reminisce about the good old days, under crusading George W Bush. After the San Bernardino attacks in California, the American Muslim faces a genuine problem, at both the level of the broad national discourse in the United States, and the level of the specific manner in which her (or his) Muslim identity is expressed, at the personal level. Beyond the direct victims of the attacks in Paris and in San Bernardino, the Western Muslim is the most enduring victim of the ideology and methodology of groups like Daesh.

This dynamic in the West is deeply relevant for a country like Pakistan because of a number of factors. The Pakistani diaspora is but one of these factors. Along with India and Bangladesh, Pakistan is one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of the Western Muslim. This Western Muslim has family, business and cultural links to the mother ship: and the Tashfeen Maliks of the world will not stop being ‘Pakistani’ even if they have questionable identity cards, or spent the majority of their lives in Saudi Arabia. 

Pakistani authorities can keep handing Reuters and the Washington Post easy stories about their ham-fisted attempts to curtail reporting, but that will not change what we already know in Pakistan. We have a big national, cross-ethnic, cross-class, full-on, red-blooded radicalisation problem, especially in our cities, especially among educated youth, that won’t go away because of Operation Zarb-e-Azb (and that probably grows when we keep pretending that it will). 

That radicalisation problem will sometimes metastasize into a Faisal Shahzad, or a Tashfeen Malik. It will sometimes metastasize into Hizbut Tahrir. Most times it will straddle along the legal and the illegal, investing in hatred and exclusion, steeped in anger and dissatisfaction. Sometimes it will blow up. Public policy is meant to insure societies from the sub-1% chance of something blowing up. It is not meant to try to play the numbers and pretend that risks or threats to the greater good do not exist.

As a victim of Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, and as one country that has done more to fight Al-Qaeda than any other, it is perplexing that Pakistani leaders should allow incompetent officials to inadvertently paint Pakistan as being defensive. Pakistan should instead be on the full-on offensive. No country has as much to lose from the growth of the cancerous hatred that propels groups like Daesh.

Of course, this kind of clarity would be possible if Pakistan had some kind of a plan to deal with these kinds of threats. Some kind of credible document that laid out the actions that Pakistan needed to take. Maybe something like a National Action Plan, which could be the blueprint for the way forward for Pakistan. It would not only lay out immediate kinetic actions, but also the broader impetus for reform that the situation demands.

What a tragedy that Pakistan has had exactly that kind of plan on the books for almost a whole year, and yet the country’s response to global events like Paris and San Bernardino is so convoluted, self-conscious, and self-defeating. What a tragedy and what a farce.

How I Became a Casualty of Pakistan’s Silent War on Speech

As Pakistan boasts about its recent counter-terrorism success, it continues to stifle journalists and other essential voices of dissent.

For a year now, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif has been traveling the world, peddling the supposed success of the military operation Zarb-e-Azb, an offensive to target the Pakistani Taliban. The director of the Inter-Services Public Relations, Lt. General Asim Saleem Bajwa, has unleashed a media blitzkrieg to support this narrative, creating the illusion of accomplishment, nay, infallibility, around his boss, General Sharif. But in tandem with the military’s media blitz is its undeclared war on dissent, which impugns, maligns, and attempts to ostracize members of the intelligentsia who refuse to buy the military’s version of events. This low-intensity, systematic war on the diversity of opinion and free speech in Pakistan — of which I have been a casualty — barely gets local or international attention.
As the lead weekly columnist for the liberal Pakistani newspaper the DailyTimes, I wrote extensively about how dissenters in the Pakistani media, academia, and political class were hounded relentlessly. When I went through my emails on November 27, 2015, I spotted one from my op-ed editor, which read: “It is with an extremely heavy heart that I regret to inform you that Daily Times will be unable to accommodate your daring and conscientious articles. Due to the climate under which print media operates in these times such pieces are constantly being put under scrutiny and so the newspaper with it. It is also my unfortunate duty to inform you that Rashed Rahman has resigned as editor-in-chief due to the same reasons of continued interference in the affairs of the editorial department, and as a soldier for unbiased truth, he is now serving his three months’ notice.” After six years of leveling criticism against the government, I was not surprised that the censor’s guillotine had fallen on my work — only that it had taken so long to do so.
For years, my editor Rashed Rahman, a seasoned journalist and a veteran leftist political campaigner, insulated my peers and me from “the powers that be” — his euphemism for Pakistan’s military establishment. In speaking out for a progressive Pakistan, we knew we were putting ourselves at considerable risk. In January 2011, a religious zealot assassinated Salmaan Taseer, the owner of the Daily Times and the then-governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province. To honor his legacy of supporting a liberal press, his family continued to afford my colleagues and me the space to speak our minds. But despite the efforts of activists since General Sharif’s ascent it appears that military interference in public discourse has increased – and not just at our paper but across the media in general. Sharif’s media team has not only placed him on a pedestal in the public eye; they are eliminating the expression of dissent.
For example, in October 2013, the editorial staff at the Daily Times advised my colleague, veteran Baloch activist and writer Mir Muhammad Ali Talpur, to take a break from writing on the controversial region of Balochistan because of pressure from the military. Talpur stopped writing for the paper for nearly two years, returning in July 2015. Shortly thereafter, on November 22, 2015, Talpur published a scathing piece on the virtual colonization of Balochistan by the Pakistani military and the despicable atrocities it has carried out there. In response, the owners of the Daily Times ordered Rahman to shut down Talpur’s column along with my weekly column, where I frequently criticized the military.
My six-year association with the Daily Times thus came to an end thanks to unrelenting pressure from Pakistan’s almighty army. In my pieces, I criticized the army’s terrorism policy in Afghanistan. My objection has been simple: by patronizing jihadists since the 1970s and continuing to use jihadist proxies in its fight against Afghanistan and India, the Pakistani military has irreparably damaged Pakistani society. Pakistanis, especially the Pashtuns and vulnerable religious groups such as the Shias, Ahmadis, Christians, and Hindus, have borne the brunt of the cost of the army’s jihadist venture. The army’s massive human rights abuses in the restive, resource-rich Balochistan have stoked the separatist movement there and closed the door on a political reconciliation with the Baloch people.
As a columnist, I wanted to chronicle the atrocities resulting from Pakistan’s failure to crack down on jihadists. I have witnessed my friends and dear onesshot and killed, the Pashtun leaders that I knew personally slain, and the All Saints Church where I played cricket blown to smithereens by the Taliban — all in my hometown Peshawar. After the heinous attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar last year, the army cracked down on what it considered the “bad Taliban,” or those who strike inside Pakistan. While the army claims that it pursues jihadists of all shades, I contended in my columns that it was deliberately sparing the “good Taliban” — those who attack inside Afghanistan. My final Daily Times column argued that General Sharif speakswith a forked tongue, pledging to fight against terror in Afghanistan, while allowing jihadists at home to infiltrate unchecked into Afghanistan through Pakistan’s border.
For me, writing about the Taliban’s ties to Pakistan is nothing new. But my recent stories seem to have crossed a line. I reported that the Taliban’selection of its new emir, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, took place near Quetta, and the jihadists killed in Afghanistan were brought back and buried in Pakistan a week ago. Despite Pakistan’s rhetoric about the success of the Zarb-e-Azb operation, my reporting of these stories showed that the Taliban continue to operate openly in Pakistan. The army and its minions, perhaps, could not take the criticism anymore, and one week later my column was shut down for good.
The idea of press freedom in Pakistan under General Sharif’s junta is a myth. In fact, he and his media machine have drawn on the playbook used by Field Marshal Ayub Khan, the first military dictator of Pakistan, who seized controlat gunpoint of the country’s largest left-leaning publishing house in 1959. Today, indirect pressure and strong-arming have replaced overt takeover of the government and media outlets, but with the same results: civilian institutions are forced to get in line with the military’s agenda. A multitude of media outlets, especially television stations, create the illusion of tolerance and diversity. In truth, they merely churn out various shades of army-approved hyper-nationalism. Every now and then, the censors allow a token critical column or television show through, but to do so in a sustained manner has become impossible.The political class has again abdicated to the army the twin powers of defining patriotism and denigrating dissenters who take issue with the army’s vision for Pakistan and its people. Pakistani intelligentsia can fight to take back the narrative from the army, but unless politicians are willing to do the heavy lifting to limit Sharif’s power, it is going to be an uphill battle with more columns shut down and writers banished from public view.


 The government has brokered a deal through a close relative of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to sell Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to Dubai rulers, Senator Saleem Mandviwalla, former finance minister, claimed on Monday, terming the on-going privatisation process a facade.
In a statement issued on Monday, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) senator claimed that the motive behind issuing a Presidential Ordinance to privatise the airline was to facilitate a deal that the government has already struck with the Sheikhs of Abu Dhabi.
Mandviwalla remained finance minister for a brief period during the last PPP tenure and currently heads the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue.
The government on Monday also increased PIA’s authorised share capital from Rs30 billion to Rs54 billion after it converted the Rs23.6 billion loan to the airline into equity.
“This deal has been brokered by Chaudhry Muneer, a relative of PM Nawaz Sharif and Shujaat Azeem, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Aviation,” claimed Mandviwalla.
He said the Supreme Court of Pakistan has questioned the appointment of Azeem as a special assistant to the PM, ordering to remove him. He requested the apex court to take a suo motu notice of the privatisation plan and give a stay order.
The senator’s statement may give a new twist to the PIA privatisation, which could undermine the government’s efforts to sell the airline by June next year under a condition of the International Monetary Fund.
He gave the statement just 48 hours after the government promulgated an ordinance to remove the legal hindrance to PIA privatisation.
He said the ordinance is an indication that the government was feigning transparency in the privatisation process. He urged that a judicial commission should conduct an audit prior to privatisation.
Furthermore, he pressed political parties as well as workers’ unions to protest against the on-going deal, as he contends that it goes against the national interest and there was no representative of labourers present to oversee the deal.
Mandviwalla claimed that the government has already struck a deal with a Gulf airline. “In my view, the privatisation transaction has already been done and rest is just formalities,” he said while talking to The Express Tribune.
He said the government has already unofficially conveyed this to the financial advisers hired for carrying out the transaction.
Privatisation Commission Chairman Mohammad Zubair was not available for comments.


A delegation of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), led by the party General Secretary Sardar Latif Khosa, will leave for China on a two-week-long visit on Wednesday, tomorrow 09 December.
The PPP delegation comprises President PPP FATA Akhunzada Chattan, Head Social Media Punjab PPP JahanAra M Wattoo and Ahmad Karim Kundi.
JahanAra M Wattoo told that the PPP delegation during their stay in China, the PPP leaders would meet the Chinese leadership, IDCPC Leadership, would participate in the workshops; Workshop with the Bureau of South Asia and Southeast Asia, IDCPC, Workshop on CPEC with Chinese International Studies Center, Workshop on the 13th Five Year Plan and the 5th Plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee and would visit Forbidden City and Great Wall. Moreover, the delegation would discuss ways and means to improve friendly relations, the foundation of which was laid by Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, she updated.
The delegation will be visiting China on the invitation of the Chinese Communist Party.