Saturday, February 27, 2016

Video - Hillary Clinton: 'Tomorrow, this campaign goes natio...


Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has won the Democratic South Carolina primary against Senator Bernie Sanders. The victory comes days before Super Tuesday on March 1, when eleven states will vote to select the Democratic presidential nominee.
South Carolina had an open primary, which meant that voters didn’t have to register as Democrats to have a say in the election. Polls were open from 7 am to 7 pm EST.

Clinton and Sanders had different approaches going into the primary, with Clinton more focused on this particular win, while Sanders took a broader outlook and focused on the March 1 races, giving a speech to about 10,000 people at a Formula One racetrack near Austin, Texas on Saturday. 

Clinton made a quick stop in Alabama on Saturday before returning to Columbia, South Carolina’s capital, for the victory party.

One of the voters explained why she chose Clinton over Sanders. “I don’t think Bernie has a shot in a national election, and this election is too important,” Alicia Newman told AP. “With all the debates, I think Bernie has helped prepare Hillary for November.”
The South Carolina primary holds some memories for Clinton. Eight years ago, then-Senator Barack Obama challenged then-Senator Hillary Clinton, the establishment-pick, and won big with the help of 78 percent of the black voters who cast their ballots. Clinton received only 19 percent of the black vote that day. Overall, Obama garnered twice as many votes as Clinton – 55.4 percent to 26.5 percent.
Today’s election is the fourth contest of the Democratic primaries. The first was a near-tie in Iowa, where neither Clinton nor Sanders managed to muster more than 50 percent of the vote. Sanders followed up with a smashing success in New Hampshire, capturing 60 percent of ballots, but then Clinton then went on to victory in Nevada, taking 52.6 percent to Sanders’s 47.3.
A win in South Carolina can easily influence states that are holding elections on Super Tuesday, including Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, and Clinton’s home state of Arkansas in the South, as well as Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Sanders’s home state of Vermont.
Clinton is looking to win big in Southern states with large black populations, while Sanders is likely to post victories in the Midwest and Northeast states.

Video - U.S. military tests nuclear missile

US Vice President Joe Biden slams Trump's 'dangerous' anti-Mexico rhetoric

President Obama's Weekly Address: Degrading and Destroying ISIL

Urdu Music Video - Jo bacha tha woh lutane

Pakistan - Don't celebrate the Punjab women's violence bill just yet


The recently approved Punjab government's “Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act of 2016” appears at first glance to be a heroic effort to protect women victims of violence.
In a nutshell, it contains the following protection mechanisms:
  • a district protection committee
  • a helpline
  • women protection officers
  • protection centres and shelter homes
  • various remedies of orders of protection
  • residence and monetary support for victims
These are all commendable. More importantly, it signifies lawmakers’ alertness to the fact that most laws enacted to enhance women’s rights and their protection are not effectively implemented.
But on a closer reading, there are gaps that leave one wondering: what level of consultation did the bill undergo?
Many are celebrating the fact that the bill passed — despite resistance from some quarters — which is hardly a a viable defence. Because legislation acquires a degree of permanence (until future amendment and repeal), it must undergo rigorous review that is made open and transparent to all.
Some have already pointed out the positives and the flaws.

The act does not create a new crime of domestic violence

One can only wishfully think that the legislature had in mind a less penal and more rehabilitative society.
However, it may just be that the assembly did not have the political fortitude or commitment to explicitly label “domestic violence” for what it is — a crime.
The result: victims will have to seek justice in cases of domestic violence within the ambit of assault, wrongful confinement, criminal intimidation, and harassment provisions of the Pakistan Penal Code and other statutes.
It does, however, create new offences in case a defendant violates a monetary, residence, or protective order under the Act. Perhaps, unnecessarily — in light of how under-reported and condoned domestic violence is — it also criminalises false complaints.

Protecting all victims of violence?

Since the overwhelming majority of victims of domestic violence globally are women, it is unsurprising that the law purports to protect women only and, in fact, its preamble refers to the constitutional protection for women.
In contrast, the Domestic Violence Law in Sindh extends its protection to not just women, but also vulnerable men, the elderly and children in the context of a domestic relationship.
This makes it more in sync with the notion that violence is often rooted in socio-economic power imbalances within a family.
By not limiting the law and its protection to cases of domestic violence only (but to cases of vaguely defined “violence”), the assembly has been overly ambitious with the side effect of creating a watered down statute that undermines the seriousness that should be accorded to domestic violence and its prevalence in Punjab.
Violence is defined as any,

"Offence committed against the human body of the aggrieved person including…domestic violence, sexual violence, psychological abuse, economic abuse, stalking or a cybercrime."

The section further elaborates that,

“Psychological violence includes psychological deterioration…which may result in anorexia, suicide attempt or clinically proven depression resulting from defendant’s oppressive behavior.”

The act leaves terms “oppressive behavior” and “sexual violence” undefined. Besides being awkwardly worded, there is no rationale behind listing three specific conditions as opposed to referring to a whole range of psychological symptoms that battered women may suffer.
Its definition of “domestic violence” is also plain and does not list — as in the case of the Sindh statute — a whole pattern of behaviour that one can more precisely recognise as domestic violence including insults, possessiveness — the all too common threats of divorce, abandonment and accusations of immorality.

Shelters not jails

This is a significant step and deserves inspection. After all, most women are trapped in abusive situations because they are not financially independent and cannot find alternative accommodations that suit their standard of living.
Thus in empowering courts to grant “residence orders” where the defendant (abuser) would have to arrange for alternative housing (within his means) and pay rent is commendable.
Women can also be placed in shelters. But then, in a later section, the court is given authority to compel the defendant to pay for the cost of a woman’s shelter (rent and meals) in a shelter home.
Non-payment would mean that the defendant is in contempt of court and the justice system is continually embroiled in monitoring payment thus straining its time and resources — or it would have the effect of exhausting women victims and causing them to give up.
Moreover, nothing is said on whether a woman’s residence in a shelter would be impacted by the defendant’s non-payment.
State-run shelters (Dar-ul-Aman) have often been criticised as being jail-like, where women’s mobility is monitored, their character regarded as suspect and their entry and exit mandated by a court order.
Thus, it is discouraging to note that there hasn't been a more incisive attempt to re-imagine shelters as truly safe spaces for women, who should be free from the government’s judgemental glare.
A regressive provision that provides for “discipline” and regulation of visitation and timings reflect a parochial and paternalistic attitude and the state’s desire to control women who've left their home and their mobility.
Ironically, limiting a woman’s mobility is one of the things the ambivalent act seeks to curb.
Moreover, boys over 12 cannot be admitted to shelter homes with the mothers. One would expect a modern statute to forge creative ways to retain family unity and keep children, regardless of age and gender with a mother who has already become partially isolated.
Women are safeguarded from wrongful eviction from their home — which is why it is bewildering that the act also holds that wrongfully evicted women can only be reinstated to her previous status in the house if she has a “right, title or beneficial interest in the house”.
If the words are given a restrictive interpretation, then in case she does not have a proprietary interest in the house, that may affect her ability to re-enter her marital home.
The parameters of a protective order include that the defendant surrender any weapon or firearm which the defendant lawfully possesses.
Surely, it is poor drafting and not parliamentary intent to allow abusers to hold on to their illegally obtained weapons, but that won’t stop devious lawyer-ing around a lacuna.
Protective orders also allow courts, in some cases, to require that defendants wear GPS trackers and ankle bracelets.
This is also worrisome in light of the state’s heightened and over zealous enthusiasm towards surveilling and criminalising its ordinary citizens and carries potential for abuse.

Good laws, bad implementation

The law envisions the formation of a “District Women Protection Committee” in each district to ensure that the protection system is working. Committee tasks include arranging volunteers, training, referring cases from police to protection centers and reconciliation.
The cynical may say that other committees prescribed by law, such as District Committees on the Status of Women, are yet to be functional in most districts — and here, we have yet another law and yet another committee, and thus infinite allegations of non-implementation.
Moreover, by making membership in committees (envisioned to perform gargantuan tasks) volunteer-based, the state is setting the stage for compromised and inconsistent service delivery dependent upon the enthusiasm and time of the volunteers.
The act accounts for women protection officers and many of their tasks seem duplicative to those of the committees, then why can’t the government just have numerous such paid positions doing the work of the committee.
Women do need jobs, after all, and the system would be more accountable.
Even more problematic is the fact that these committees can accept donations to carry out their functions. Instead of the Punjab government allocating robust budgets, they expect members to be ambassadors of the official begging bowl, and to be tested on their fund-raising skills.
Of course this would also inevitably lead to problems implicit in handling and managing funds and lay the process of protecting women susceptible to the accusation that it represents donor agenda, rather than being a local priority and urgency.
Provincial and national legislatures, before further legislative activity, should review the entire process of consultation, make it thoroughly democratic and inclusive of all voices, review all provincial laws with a view towards inter-provincial consistency and coherence, take stock through concerted research on how institutional and attitudinal barriers can be conquered.
The last seven years have seen a good number of laws enhancing women’s rights and protection in Pakistan, and while this is highly commendable, the government needs to take stock of why implementation has failed every time.

Pakistan - The forgotten FATA

By Afrasiab Khattak

Mainstreaming FATA was one of the most important points in the twenty points program of National Action Plan (NAP) approved by an extra ordinary All Parties Conference (APC) on December 24, 2014, a week after the brutal massacre of young students by criminal terrorists in Peshawar Army Public School. Since Pakistan was well known for wasting long years first in denial of terrorism and later on just talking about curbing it so the APC decided to go for an Action Plan instead of squandering further precious time by busying ourselves into hairsplitting in abstract theoretical debates. But if the experience of the last one-yearis anything to go by it has become pretty clear that most of the twenty points program is not meant for implementation. No roadmap with any timeline exists for implementing NAP. FATA parliamentarians did introduce a bill in the National Assembly for the merger of FATA in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but the federal government scuttled that initiative by creating yet another committee for “ascertaining“ the opinion of the people of the area (interestingly enough there is no one from FATA in the aforementioned committee and most of the ministers who are members of the committee can’t speak Pashto and speak through interpreters). Again there is no timeframe for the work of the committee. So FATA Pashtuns who lived as subjects of British colonial order for around a century seems to be condemned to keep on living under exactly the same (or even worse) status in an independent Muslim country. There is no visible sign of their becoming citizens any time soon with access to fundamental rights. In this day and age they still have to live in the “black hole”, and “no go area” beyond the jurisdiction of courts and access of media and civil society.
After continuing for close to two years operation Zarb-e-Azb doesn’t seem to have fully cleared FATA from terrorism. Shawaland Datakhel are yet to be cleared even after intense aerial bombardment and droning, a position that has not changed for last so many years. Yet another drone attack in Khurram Agency last week shows that certain “assets” have relocated there after military operation in North Waziristan.Momand Agency saw murderous attacks by terrorists against security personnel during the last week killing at least nine khasadars. Curfew had to be imposed for forestalling terrorist onslaught. Schools and hospitals had to be closed. News about minor terror attacks and blowing up of schools do emerge from other agencies. Political or civilian oversight of military operation in FATA is almost non existent and the area is not open to media or civil society so there is not much in terms of even reporting about the challenges faced by non-combatants let alone provision of any relief to them.
Millions of Internally Displaced Persons (Pashtuns) are not any more on the political radar of either the government or political parties. Their ordeal that was supposed to last for few months doesn’t have any end in sight even after about two years (in case of North Waziristan). The country’s media has also put its back on their camps in Bannu and other places. Pakistani state doesn’t seem to be interested in winning the war for hearts and minds. You need that only if you want to take the people along. But if you have no plan to empower the people and include them in the decision-makingprocess, then why to bother yourself. For example around one hundred thousand IDPs had crossed over into Afghanistan’s province Khost in 2014 from North Waziristan. Afghan government was reported to have helped them in establishing camps and there were reports about some activity by UNHCR. But the government of Pakistan has not sent any formal official delegation even once to look into their situation or to discuss with them any plan for their possible return. Even those who live inside Pakistan have no focal person or institution to turn to for relief in case of violation of their rights. Their disempowerment knows no limits.
One hopes that the new Governor of Pakhunkhwa will make a place for his name in history by supporting reforms in FATA, although it is easier said than done. The entrenched vested interest of officialdom ruling the area has put up stiff resistance against any change. But they have overplayed their hand. Terrorists could run a virtual state in the area in the vacuum created by statelessness. The country can’t afford the status quo anymore. The Article 247 of the Constitution that bars the Pakistani Parliament from legislation for FATA and bars the Supreme Court of Pakistan from hearing cases must go. How can Pakistan call herself a Republic with such a monstrous anomaly? Refusal to hold local government elections in FATA is simply an affront. Every democrat in the country should raise his/her voice for the empowerment of FATA Pashtuns. It goes without saying that situation in Afghanistan is closely linked to situation in FATA . Our steps for filling the gaps in terms of the writ of the state in FATA will indicate our seriousness about stabilizing Afghanistan.

Bilawal Bhutto congratulates members of Punjab Assembly for passing Protection of Women against Violence Bill

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party has congratulated members of the Punjab Assembly for the passage of Protection of Women against Violence Bill 2015 but regretted the fundamental loopholes in the Bill which makes it more ‘Showbaz’ than aimed at addressing the real issues.
In a press statement issued here, the PPP Chairman said that women need both prevention and protection against violence at domestic and workplaces and law should criminalize these forms of violence. Legislation for providing solace and justice to a woman already beaten up or abused is a good step but adding provisions to prevent women from being targeted through criminal intents were also fundamentally important for lawmaking, he stated.
He endorsed the anomaly in Bill pointed out by civil society and women activists that the Bill outlined punishment in case of a violation of interim orders but not for abuse women had been subjected to.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari stressed that legislation should provide mechanism wherein the women should be given a form of protection to save them from falling victim to domestic violence besides the justice system to punish violations.
PPP Chairman urged that legislation also lacks a comprehensive definition of violence against women besides ensuring the proper protection of women complainants subjected to violence during pending investigations and afterwards without the mention of time-period for completion of such inquiries.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari further said that implementation of any bill for protection of women against violence needs women protection centers for housing victims during the course of inquiries. Otherwise, the whole bill will not be more than a cosmetic effort.

سعید غنی کی پشاور میں پرامن مظاہرین طالب علموں کے خلاف مقدمات درج اور گھروں پر چھاپوں کی مذمت