Sunday, January 31, 2016

Music Video - George Ezra - Blame It on Me

Putin Ratifies Law to Write Off Mongolia’s $174Mln Debt

President Vladimir Putin has ratified a law to write off Mongolia’s $174-million debt to Russia, according to a document published on the official Russian website for legal information on Sunday.The bill was signed in Moscow in December 2010 and took six years to go through all stages of pre-legislative scrutiny.Mongolia’s outstanding debt to Russia was a major hurdle for deeper investment cooperation between the two nations. Russian companies seek to increase their presence in Mongolia’s construction and mineral production markets. The July 2010 deal between Moscow and Ulaanbaatar cleared the way for Russian business and guaranteed $3.8 million as a one-off repayment from Mongolia.

China - US warship's incursion 'aims to renew tension'

An incursion by a US warship in Chinese territorial waters on Saturday is the latestattempt by Washington to return tension to the South China Sea and encourage moreregional stakeholders to challenge Chinaaccording to observers.
They made the comments after the USS Curtis Wilbura guided missile destroyer,intruded into the territorial waters of China's Xisha Islands.
Zhang Junshea senior researcher at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute,said the South China Sea situation had been eased for some time before the latestoutspoken remarks and intrusion by WashingtonOne of the USgoals is to bring tensionback to the regionZhang said.
Renewing the tension will also showcase support for countries such as the Philippines andVietnamencouraging them to take more provocative actions against China on the SouthChina SeaZhang said.
"In the long runWashington still defines the South China Sea issue as a tool to containChina,"Zhang added.
Liang Fanga professor of naval studies at the PLA National Defense UniversitysaidWashington aims to test Beijing's bottom line on the sea and is also attempting to defyChina's sovereignty over the waters.
China should stick to its construction plan for the South China Sea and take furthercountermeasures in case of provocationLiang said.
In recent yearsthe United States has sent warships and aircraft into Chinese waters andairspace a number of timesleading to brushes between the two militaries.
The People's Liberation Army warned the vessel on Saturday and succeeded in driving itawayMinistry of National Defense spokesman Yang Yujun said in a statement onSaturday night.
"Chinese troops stationed on the islandsnaval ships and airplanes made an immediateresponsetook countermeasures and conducted identification and verification (action)against the US warship,"Yang said.
The US action was "a serious violation of law"and damaged the peace and security of theSouth China SeaYang said.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Saturday that under a Chinese lawenacted in 1992, foreign warships entering China's territorial waters must obtain approvalfrom the Chinese government.
The Chinese military will take all necessary measures to firmly safeguard nationalsovereignty and security regardless of provocative actions by the USYang said.
Harry Harriscommander of the US Pacific Commanddrew criticism from Beijing onWednesday when he told a think tank in Washington that the US will continue tochallenge China's position on the South China SeaHarris also said that in his opinion"those islands do not belong to China”.

Bahraini protesters attacked by police

Bahraini regime forces have attacked peaceful protesters calling for the release of prisoners.
Regime forces fired toxic gases and bird shots at protesters in Sitra Island and Daih village outside the capital Manama where Bahrainis staged demonstrations on Sunday.
Activists who called for the demonstrations have promised more protests despite the government crackdown.
Since mid-February 2011, thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations on an almost daily basis in the streets of Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifa family to relinquish power.
Scores of people have died and many more injured or incarcerated in the ongoing heavy-handed crackdown on demonstrators.

Video - Russian kids enjoying winter and banya

Syrian Music Video - Mayada Bselis _ Kzbk sweet

Malala and Muzoon Almellehan - Syrian children need an education – rich countries must give $1.4bn to pay for it

Although we are from different countries, Pakistan and Syria, we both know what it means to be denied education because of wars and conflicts. We share a deep hope to see all Syrian refugee children back in school, so that their dreams and gifts are not lost to the world for good.

We first met in Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp, where Syrian girls as young as 12 and 13 are being married off to older men. For these girls’ families, marriage is seen as a way to protect their daughters from poverty and violence.
Among refugee families living in Jordan, rates of child marriage have doubled in the past three years,and most of those girls will never go into a classroom again.
Five years ago, things were very different for our sisters. Before the war in Syria, all children could attend 12 years of school for free, and the country had a 90% literacy rate.
We have been doing our best to persuade parents and girls that education is the best way to protect their futures.
In a few days’ time, we will step forward to persuade world leaders of the same thing. We will go together to the Supporting Syria conference in London to remind our leaders that the future of these children is in their hands. Without significant increases in funding, thousands of Syrian young people will remain out of school again this year.
Every year that’s missed will cost them dearly in terms of lost opportunities for themselves, their families and their country.
Border countries like Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq are opening their doors and their schools to Syrian children, but they don’t have resources to help every child. The world’s richest countries encourage refugees to stay in the region instead of coming to Europe, while not providing the funding border countries need to deal with the crisis.

Malala Yousafzai  and Muzoon Almellehan
 Malala Yousafzai (left) and Muzoon Almellehan

To help every child affected by the Syria crisis to get into school this year, rich countries must give $1.4bn. This sounds like a lot, but the cost of inaction is far higher. Experts say we risk having an entire “lost generation” of Syrian children.
The children of Syria are not lost. But they are waiting. They are waiting for world leaders to make and keep bold commitments that match their own determination.

While leaders struggle to find a political solution to the crisis, the best hope for Syria’s future is right here, waiting on the school steps. Five years into the conflict, young refugees stand ready to rebuild and reclaim the future for themselves and for Syria. Education is the most important investment we can make in Syria’s children, the country’s future and stability in the region.
The path is clear and the resources available. It will come down to a matter of choice.
We cannot afford to lose a whole generation of Syrian children. And they refuse to be a generation lost.

‘I have never seen such destruction’ as in Yemen: aid worker

Larisa Epatko

Fighting in Yemen after rebels overthrew the government in early 2015 has created a dire humanitarian situation unparalleled even in places as battle-scarred as Syria, according to a Doctors Without Borders worker.
“I’ve worked in war zones for the past 11 to 12 years, in some of the worst conflicts like Syria, but I have never seen such destruction conducted in such a short period as in Yemen,” wrote Michael Seawright from Auckland, New Zealand.
Seawright served as project coordinator for Doctors Without Borders in the Middle Eastern region. “I was based in Saada, in the north, in a Houthi-controlled area that was experiencing almost daily attacks from coalition air forces. These airstrikes were often close to our facilities and we clearly felt their effects,” he wrote.
Saudi Arabia, Yemen’s neighbor to the north, began airstrikes in March 2015 in order to keep the Houthi rebels away from its border. But the airstrikes in rebel-held areas have had a devastating effect on the population and on humanitarian efforts over the past year, according to aid groups.
Children collect water on  Aug. 4, 2015, at a school in Yemen's capital Sanaa where they are sheltering with their families after fleeing the Houthi-controlled northern province of Saada. Photo by Khaled Abdullah/Reuters
Children collect water on Aug. 4, 2015, at a school in Yemen’s capital Sanaa where they are sheltering with their families after fleeing the Houthi-controlled northern province of Saada. Photo by Khaled Abdullah/Reuters
Seawright’s account, originally published on the Doctors Without Border website, describes operations at the 93-bed hospital in Saada City.
“We were receiving a lot of patients with severe injuries, including traumatic amputations — people would come in missing feet, hands and with severe abdominal and head trauma. Many of the wounded had traveled from four to five hours away, given that it was the only hospital with emergency surgical capacity in the province, in fact in most of northern Yemen.
“There were lots of patients: we were seeing over 2,000 emergency cases a month and more than 100 surgeries a week. If you combine that with the security situation keeping people awake, it was quite challenging, especially for our medical staff many of whom were on call 24-hours a day due to staff shortages across the country.
“Despite the volatility of the conflict, life goes on, and as always pregnant women need somewhere safe to deliver their babies. The maternity ward, supported by MSF, delivered over 100 babies a week in the hospital. This was a source of pride for them but also reassuring for the wider population to know that while lives were being lost new life was being created.
“One patient whose story was particularly moving was a 3-year-old boy with severe burns who came in to the emergency department in Saada with his uncle and father. The family lived near the Saudi border, in an area where there were regular indiscriminate attacks against the community.
A 3-year-old boy is treated for burns at a hospital in the northern Yemen city of Saada. Photo courtesy of Doctors Without Borders
A 3-year-old boy is treated for burns at a hospital in the northern Yemen city of Saada. Photo courtesy of Doctors Without Borders
“One day while their house was being hit by coalition forces, the boy’s father and uncle, in concern for their little boy, jumped on top of him to protect him. For me it highlighted that a family in Yemen is much the same as a family here in New Zealand or Australia. What father or uncle doesn’t want to protect their son or nephew?
“And in this case they literally put their bodies between the blast and him. Unfortunately, he was still quite burnt down one side of his body, but he will recover with no significant scarring, according to our doctors.”
This month, a Doctors Without Borders-supported hospital set up near the Saudi border to try to cut down on travel time to the Saada facility was struck by a military projectileand collapsed, killing six people.
Seawright said part of his job as project coordinator was to prepare new staff, some of whom were not accustomed to that level of conflict, for the risks. He explained via email:
“When briefing new staff I take a no surprises approach, making sure they are informed about what is happening on the ground. I highlight the difficult security and working conditions to make sure they are prepared for what can be traumatic days, especially relevant given the scale and severity of wounded resulting from this war. I also highlight, while it is impossible to mitigate all risk we closely monitor the situation in order to manage staff safety, essential in active war zones such as Yemen. In short we look to make sure new staff are able to make informed choices about deciding to work in Yemen.”

Hospitals Are Under Fire in Yemen’s War

Civilians and doctors are no longer safe in the places they need the most

As Yemen’s bloody conflictcontinues, medical facilities and personnel are repeatedly comingunder fire, which drastically reduces the country’s access to desperately needed emergency medical care. As the wreckage of hospitals and clinics indicate, the war launched by a Saudi-led coalition against Houthi militants is being fought with utterdisregard for international humanitarian law—with the silent consent of the U.S., the U.K., France, and other members of the U.N. Security Council.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), of which I’m the executive director in the U.S., has treated more than 20,000 people in Yemen since this war began last March. Over the past three months, three MSF-supported health facilities in Yemen have come under attack, and anambulance driver working alongside MSF was killed by an airstrike in Saada province as he attempted to reach people wounded in an earlier strike on Jan.21. All of these incidents were clear violations of the laws of war and the protections those laws afford medical spaces and personnel. 
On Jan. 10, a projectile hit Shiara Hospital in northern Yemen, killing at least six and injuring seven. MSF had been helping rebuild the facility—coalition airstrikes had struck it twice before—and providing emergency and maternity care. After this latest attack, though, some patients didn’t come back because they were certain the hospital would be hit again. Some pregnant women decided it would be safer to give birth in nearby caves.
A month earlier, on Dec. 2, 2015, three airstrikes targeted a park in Taiz’s Al Houban District in southern Yemen. MSF staff from a clinic in the area evacuated the wounded and informed coalition officials that airplanes were still attacking. Soon after, MSF’s clinic was hit. Nine people were wounded, including two MSF staff members.
And on Oct. 26, coalition fighter jets repeatedly bombed a Ministry of Health hospital in Haydan District, in the north, where MSF teams were treating war-wounded patients, pregnant women and children. After the first strike, the staff evacuated just ahead of subsequent bombing runs that succeeded in destroying the only emergency care facility for roughly 200,000 people in the area.
MSF maintains constant dialogue with both the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi-led militias, providing GPS coordinates of medical projects and calling on them to fulfill their obligations to preserve access to medical services. But between March and November of last year, bombs were dropped on or near medical facilities nearly 100 times, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross. The three MSF-supported medical structures hit were known and clearly marked.
Such is the nature of this war.
The Saudi-led coalition is waging a military campaign that treats civilians and civilian structures as legitimate military targets; in May, for example, it declared that the entire Sadaa governorate was a military zone. Coalition fighter jets and artillery have repeatedly hit homes, roads, bridges, schools, gas stations, markets, medical sites, ambulances, supply trucks and displacement camps, killing upwards of 2,800 civilians, according to the United Nations, and wounding many more.
Houthi forces have also repeatedly shelled civilian areas and medical facilities, and they have blocked shipments of medical supplies as well. For the past five months, Houthi fighters have besieged an enclave of Taiz, forcing nearly 100,000 people to endure recurrent barrages of mortar fire and sniper attacks while running desperately short of food and water. The few city hospitals that remain open barely function due to shortages of supplies and fuel.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon was referring to Yemen in part when he said last year that “violations (of international humanitarian law) have become so routine that there is a risk people will think that the deliberate bombing of civilians, the targeting of humanitarian and healthcare workers, and attacks on schools, hospitals, and places of worship are an inevitable result of conflict.”
But the U.N. Security Council, through Resolution 2216—authored by Jordan, co-sponsored by the U.S., the U.K., and France, and passed last April—provided diplomatic cover for what we’re seeing today.
The resolution made pro-forma calls to end violence in Yemen and imposed an arms embargo and travel restrictions on the Houthis, but it made no mention of the Saudi-led coalition’s aerial attacks and demanded nothing of the coalition in general. In effect, it provided a license to bomb at will and enforce a widespread blockade of goods entering the country. This set an “anything goes” tone that all sides have embraced.
The warring parties pay little heed to the Geneva Conventions, and their backers say nothing. The U.S., the U.K. and France actively support and supply weapons to the Saudi military. Just last week, the UK’s Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said he’d seen “no evidence of deliberate breach of international humanitarian law,” in Yemen, ignoring the fact that even if medical facilities are not targeted intentionally, failure to distinguish between military and civilian targets is itself a grave violation of international humanitarian law.
And the attacks have continued. That is why MSF has now called for the mobilization of the International Humanitarian Fact Finding Commission, a body born of the Geneva Conventions to independently assess violations of humanitarian law, to investigate the Jan. 10 attack on Shiara hospital.
That should be just the start. The warring parties and their international backers must honor international humanitarian law and be held accountable for violations. And the wounded and sick must be permitted access to health care.
MSF’s effort to treat the sick and wounded in Yemen will continue. And Yemeni medical personnel are doing their best under the circumstances. But if more medical facilities are destroyed, there may not be anyone left to provide the care that Yemenis will doubtlessly need in the days ahead.

High unemployment adds to education woes for Pakistan’s children

Music Video - Glorya - Habibi

Video Report - 'We are ready to accept Taliban as part of govt' - Afghan Chief Executive

Video - Georgian opera house hears sounds of music once again

Video Report - 10,000 refugee children are missing, says Europol

Video Report - ISIS raped, enslaved 8yo girl, married her to 8 fighters: German psychologist

#Iowacaucus - Why the New York Times just endorsed Hillary Clinton.

The New York Times just joined the growing list of newspapers backing Hillary Clinton for president. Here’s why she’s the Democratic presidential pick of the national paper of record:
She’s a policy expert—and she’s offering smart, in-depth solutions to America’s challenges.“ It’s not just that she’s done her homework—Mrs. Clinton has done her homework on pretty much any subject you’d care to name.” She’s spent her life fighting to make life better for working Americans.
“ Her lifelong fight for women bolsters her credibility in this area, since so many of the problems with labor law hit women the hardest, including those involving child care, paid sick leave, unstable schedules and low wages for tipped workers.”
She was a phenomenal secretary of state.
“ She was the secretary President Obama needed and wanted: someone who knew leaders around the world, who brought star power as well as expertise to the table.”She isn’t afraid to stand her ground—but she knows how to build consensus to get things done.
“ Mrs. Clinton has honed a steeliness that will serve her well in negotiating with a difficult Congress on critically important issues like climate change.”
The Times isn’t the only paper to enthusiastically back Hillary.
She’s also earned the endorsement of the Boston Globe. The best reason to support Clinton isn’t the weaknesses of her opponents; it’s her demonstrated strengths and experience.”
And Iowa’s Des Moines Register, Iowa Starting Line, and Iowa Press-Citizen:
“ True inspiration doesn’t come in chanting slogans, waving signs or enjoying a candidate’s soaring speech. Real inspiration happens in the real lives we change through progress born out of grueling, hard-won fights.”
Iowa Starting Line And in New Hampshire, she has the support of the Concord Monitor, Portsmouth Herald and Foster’s Daily Democrat, and the Keene Sentinel:
“ No contender’s resume can come within miles of matching Clinton’s. She’s ready to take up the nation’s top job on day one and her knowledge of domestic issues and foreign policy is encyclopedic.”
Concord Monitor

The #Iowacaucus is tomorrow! Find the answers to all your last-minute questions, and get excited to turn out for Democrats:

The Iowa caucus is tomorrow! Find the answers to all your last-minute questions, and get excited to turn out for Democrats:

Posted by Democratic Party on Sunday, January 31, 2016

Video - Gabby Giffords endorses Hillary Clinton for President

#IowaCaucus, - Hillary Clinton receives powerful endorsement from gun survivor Gabby Giffords

Andrew Buncombe

Hillary Clinton, outspoken on the campaign trail in her demand for more gun control, has received the powerful endorsement of a former Congresswoman who was shot and left with a severe brain injury in an assassination attempt.
“Speaking is hard for me,” said Gabby Giffords, stumbling with her words. “But come January I want to say these two words - Madam President.”
She added: “Hillary is tough. She will stand up to the gun lobby.”
Touching - Giffords - "Speaking is hard for me... which is why come January I want to say... Madam President" -
The backing of the former Democratic representative from Arizona will help Ms Clinton make her case that she is the only person who will take on America’s powerful gun lobby. 
She has criticised her Democratic rival, Bernie Sanders, claiming that the Vermont senator has not stood up against the National Rifle Association (NRA), by citing his votes against a waiting period for gun purchases and for granting gun manufacturers legal immunity. 
While Mr Sanders has responded by saying the NRA has rated him as “D minus”, she has continued to make the case that she, and not he, would move on guns.
Ms Clinton, who appeared with Ms Giffords and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, at a rally in Ames on Saturday, said 90 people were killed every day in the US because of guns. 
She said that while people in favour of greater gun restrictions voted on a variety of issues, gun lobby supporters cared about just one thing. She said that was why “they have been able to intimidate the politicians”.
Ms Clinton said she believed most people thought it was possible to have sensible gun control that was consistent with the US Constitution’s Second Amendment, which gun rights supporters say provides them with the right to bear arms.
“What is wrong with us? How can we continue to ignore the toll that this is taking on our children & our country,” said Ms Clinton. “I'm not expecting we can stop everybody. I think stopping some or a lot is a pretty big deal.The facts cry out for action.”
Ms Giffords and her husband have been advocates for gun control after she survived a shot to the head at a political event in Tucson five years ago, that left six people dead and thirteen others injured. The gunman, Jared Loughner, later pleaded guilty to 19 counts of murder and attempted murder and was sentenced to life plus 140 years in jail.
Two years after the shooting, the couple founded a superPAC called Americans for Responsible Solutions, just weeks weeks after a gunman killed 26 people - 20 of them children - at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Earlier this month, the couple issued a statement that said: “Only one candidate for president has the determination and toughness to stand up to the corporate gun lobby - and the record to prove it. That candidate is Hillary Clinton.”

Ahead of the #IowaCaucus, we had to ask: Do celebrity endorsements work?



Unfortunately, India is yet to figure out how to empower the civilian leadership in Islamabad so that it can free Pakistan from the chokehold of the Generals and their jihadis 
On Republic Day, as India showcased the strength of its multi-party democracy as well as its military and civilian might, regrettable events occurred with regard to Pakistan, carved out of India more than 65 years ago to safeguard Muslim interests, which showed that the latter had further lost its core legitimacy. This is best brought out in  US President Barack Obama’s praise for the Indian initiative to restart the peace dialogue with Pakistan while demanding that Islamabad “delegitimise, disrupt and dismantle” terrorist networks  operating under its canopy.
The US Congress recently withheld funds to Pakistan on exactly the same issue, thereby sending the message that the US political establishment stands firmly with the President on the issue. Earlier, the futile exercise of the Pakistan Army chief knocking at every door in Washington, DC, underscored that the game is now over for all the three power centres in Pakistan  the civilian Government, the Army and the terror organisations.
The US President also specified that “terrorists must be brought to justice”, something  Pakistan has failed to accomplish not only with regard to the attack on the Indian Air Force base in  Pathankot but also over long years, despite periodic assurances that the perpetrators will be punished.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s had given assurance to this country that his Government will take action against the terrorists from Pakistan, days after the Pathankot attack. But we are yet to see any concrete or effective action. Is it that Mr Sharif is constrained in taking action?  If so, what are his constraints and who are the real masters in his Government?
A brilliant analysis of the multiple forces working in and on the Pakistani Government has been done by well-known columnist and author Ayesha Siddiqa. Her book, Military Inc.: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy, has laid bare the power strings that have made the Army in that country a dominant player in decision-making.
She admits that the raison d'être for the military is its opposition to India. Now, that is no new discovery. Her country has gone through what she says is a civilian peace response to Army intervention; to stop Army influence directly or through manipulated terror an outcome over the last 60 years that, she terms as the “tragic cyclic process in which  hopeful overtures end with some act of terrorism, then tension and finally an effort to  begin again.”
The outreach of India’s then Prime Minister AB Vajpayee to Mr Sharif, was followed by the Pakistan Army’s Kargil infiltration. Soon after, Mr Sharif was ousted from power and exiled to Saudi Arabia. Every time peace initiatives were made, the Pakistan Army or terror organisations or both intervened to thwart any progress. All this is the history of the “tragic cyclic process” over the last 60 years and more.
What is new in Ms Siddiqa’s January 25 article in an Indian daily is her contention that increasingly traders and politicians from all parties are convinced that there has to be a peace process and it must  lead to peace.  In fact, the columnist asserts that, “The two main parties realised that greater political empowerment and improvement of civil-military balance required improving relations with India.” Whether it was Benazir Bhutto or Mr Nawaz Sharif, who were in power throughout the 1990s, each of the Pakistani Prime Ministers came forward with warm responses to India’s overtures of peace.
Many analysts on this side of the border have also perceived India-Pakistan relations  in the same view. They have argued that India must initiate the process  rising above the stalemate and hostility so that civilian forces in Pakistan are strengthened in their power equation with the military.  Some peaceniks here have also held candlelight vigils at the Attari border in support of peace. 
The Pakistani analyst says that, as of now, “Peace remains elusive as all major political parties put together are unable to change  the Army’s perspective”. She points out what India should also acknowledge the reality in her country: "The political parties may represent an alternative pole in the power politics of  the state but they are still not in a position to challenge the military’s political prowess.” More important is what she underlines in this context: In one way or the other,  all major political parties are a product of the Army General Headquarter. This is at the core of India’s problem with Pakistan.
The Indian Prime Minister can only discuss political matters with his counterpart  in another country. Military commanders similarly can only talk with their military counterparts in a foreign country, whether it is friendly or otherwise. Conceding the truth in the Pakistani columnist’s contention that all political parties put together cannot challenge the military in her country, there is no way an Indian Prime Minister can open dialogue with the military leaders of another country.
The matter takes us to a political logjam. Ms Saddiqa’s column also reveals that the Pakistan Army has effective control of the media — the military is the largest business-owner in Pakistan, according to data mentioned in her book  and a politician or party that goes beyond the Laxman rekha set by the military in political engagement with India, can be quickly silenced by a negative campaign in the mass media.
Not only the military, for whom the Indian bogey is the means of expanding its power and retaining it, the extremist-terrorist groups are also priming the masses to be anti-India. Any settlement through the military, in the unlikely event of achieving it,  will not survive so long as the extremist forces oppose it.
So the question boils down to: What can India do? The margin for the political establishment in Pakistan for dealing with India is too narrow and volatile. Perhaps, the military in Pakistan may respond to US demands for its own survival but then again, the mullahs will stir the masses against America.

So, again, the question is: How far will the Pakistan establishment go in suppressing, if not eradicating, the terror machine that it has hand-held for long as a secret weapon against India? This is a matter of speculation.  Perhaps the political leaders there will have the statesmanship to unite and contain the military and wean the masses away from the Mullahs. “These are high hopes!”, those in the know of things are bound to exclaim. Meanwhile, Pakistanis will continue to pay 10 times the price for their favouritepaan from India, which will be coming through Dubai, as cross-border trade is yet to be revived.

Pakistan's Wahabi Regime - Christian protest on decrease of reserve seats in Local body governments in Punjab

Uproar began in Punjab as Punjab government changed the procedure of election of candidates for reserved seats. According to the new procedure, instead of allowing the party members to vote for their colleagues for the reserved seats, including the seats for women, youth, peasants, and non-Muslims, the candidates will now be ‘selected’ by the party’s leadership. The change has been made through and ordinance days after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced its schedule to fill the seats.
The amended law not only changes the procedure for election of mayors/chairpersons from secret to show of hands but also deprives the local bodies to convene their maiden session(s) after election of their mayors/chairpersons on their own and instead empowers the provincial government to call the first meeting(s).
The ordinance, in addition to all this has reduced the non-Muslim seats while increasing the regular seats from a 100 to 300 percent.
The ordinance was disseminated by the governor on January 20, and conveyed to Election Commission on January 21.
The ordinance has infuriated the opposition which says it is unconstitutional with ‘mala fide’ intentions.
Former Punjab Minister, Muhammad Basharat Raja said the government acted “unconstitutionally” and “illegally” as the law could not be changed once the election schedule was announced.
Christian political leaders see the move as an attempt to further decrease the non-Muslim participation in the government circles and decision making process. In this context, prominent Christian leader Robin Daniel met with civil society organization, and other religious and political leadership including the National Minorities Alliance of Pakistan (NMAP), Aawaz District Forum Faisalabad (SAP) and Ittehad Labor Union in this regard. The group staged a protest in Faisalabad on Friday, January 28, 2016 at Ketchery Bazar Chok, Faisalabad.
Protesters demanded non-Muslim seats to be restored without delay. Robin Daniel called the move “social murder” of non-Muslim Pakistanis.
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Five including BNM SG murdered as Pakistani military offensives continue across Balochistan

At least five Baloch including the Secretary General of pro-independence Baloch National Movement (BNM) were murdered during a military offensive in Mastung region of Balochistan Saturday morning.
Local sources reported that Pakistani forces attacked a house in Killi Dattu where BNM leader Dr Mannan Baloch and his companion were staying.
Two brothers Ashraf and Haneef were also killed during the unprovoked attack on their house whereas the other two victims have been named as Sajid Baloh (son of Dr Mannan Baloch) and Babu Nouroz Baloch.
Two days prior to his murder Dr Mannan Baloch had tweeted against the killing of previously abducted Baloch activists in staged encounters by Pakistani forces.

According to BBC Urdu a spokesperson of Pakistani forces claimed to have killed the victims in an encounter with security forces but BSO-Azad’s exiled member Lateef Johar Baloch rejected the Pakistani forces claim and said that all ‘the victims were shot in their heads.’
Previously on 28 January the Pakistan forces abducted a member of Baloch Republican Party, Mr Nazeer Jamaldini from Quetta.
On 29 January Pakistani forces abducted Jalamb s/o Guharam Bugti, Dishad s/o Noor khan, Ali Murad s/o Noor khan, Samreen w/o Noor Khan, Zar khatoon w/o Ali Murad, Salma bibi d/o Ali Murad, Ayaaz Ali s/o Ali Murad, and Sadia bibi d/ o Ali Murad from Uch area of Dera Bugti.
Pakistani military, ISI and others security forces along with their hired criminal gangs and religious extremist groups have been carrying out targeted killings of pro-freedom Baloch leaders and activists since the beginning of the current phase of Baloch freedom struggle in early 2000.
One of the earliest incident of target killing occurred in January 2001 where the Pakistani forces had attacked a house in Kalat Balochistan and murdered three Baloch namely Gul Bahar Pirkani Baloch, Sobdar Marri Baloch and Wahid Bakhsh Marri Baloch.
Other prominent victims of targeted killings of Pakistani state include Nawab Akbar Bugti, Ghulam Mohammad Baloch along with Lala Munir and Sher Mohammad Baloch, professor Sabah Dashtyari, Rasool Bakhsha Mengal, head teacher Nazir Ahmad Marri, aged political leader Malik Noor Ahmad Qambarani, student leader Raza Jahangir Baloch and countless other Baloch activists including women and children.
Meanwhile the Baloch National Movement (BNM) has announced a three days’ shutter down and wheel jam strike across Balochistan and 40 days of mourning against the murder of party’s Secretary General his son and three other companions.
Baloch pro-freedom leaders and parties have long been urging the United Nations, International Human Rights Organisations and the international media to take notice of Pakistan’s war crimes and crimes against humanity in Balochistan.