Many in Pakistan Fear Unrest at Home

By JANE PERLEZ

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Protests over crippling prices and corrupt leadership are sweeping much of the Islamic world, but here in Pakistan this week, the government blithely dismissed any threat to its longevity or to the country’s stability.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani insisted that Pakistan was not Egypt or Tunisia. “Our institutions are working and democracy is functional,” he said. The economy, while under pressure, is not in crisis.

But while Mr. Gilani appeared unruffled, diplomats, analysts and other Pakistani officials admitted to unease, and conceded that Pakistan contained many of the same ingredients for revolt found in the Middle East — and then some: an economy hollowed out by bad management and official corruption; rising Islamic religious fervor; and a poisonous resentment of the United States, Pakistan’s biggest financial supporter.

If no one expects Pakistan to be swept by revolution this week, the big question on many minds is how, and when, a critical mass of despair among this nation’s 180 million people and the unifying Islamist ideology might be converted into collective action.

Some diplomats and analysts compare the combustible mixture of religious ideology and economic frustration, overlaid with the distaste for America, to Iran in 1979. Only one thing is missing: a leader.

“What’s lacking is a person or institution to link the economic aspirations of the lower class with the psychological frustration of the committed Islamists,” a Western diplomat said this week. “Our assessment is: this is like Tehran, 1979.”

Mr. Gilani is right in that Pakistan held fairly free elections three years ago, when the democratically based Pakistan Peoples Party, led by President Asif Ali Zardari, won.

But the return to civilian government after a decade of military rule has meant little to the people because politicians have done nothing for voters, said Farrukh Saleem, a risk analyst and columnist in The News, a daily newspaper.

As it has been for all of Pakistan’s more than 60 years of history, Parliament today remains dominated by the families of a favored few, who use their perch to maintain a corrupt patronage system and to protect their own interests as Pakistan’s landed and industrial class. The government takes in little in taxes, and as a result provides little in the way of services to its people.

“Ninety-nine percent of Pakistanis are not affected by the state — it doesn’t deliver anything for them,” Mr. Saleem said. “People are looking for alternatives. So were the Iranians in 1979.”

There is little question that the images from Egypt and Tunisia are reverberating through Pakistani society, and encouraging workers to speak up and vent frustration in ways that were unusual even three months ago.

“There’s no electricity, no gas, no clean water,” said Ali Ahmad, a hotel worker in Lahore who is usually a model of discretion. “I think if things stay the same, people will come out and destroy everything.”

When a young banker in a prestigious job at a foreign bank was asked if Pakistan could go the way of Egypt, he replied, “I hope so.”

At the core of Pakistan’s problem are the wretched economic conditions of day-to-day life for most of the people whose lives are gouged by inflation, fuel shortages and scarcity of work.

They see the rich getting richer, including “the sons of rich, corrupt politicians and their compatriots openly buying Rolls-Royces with their black American Express cards,” said Jahangir Tareen, a reformist politician and successful agricultural businessman.

Food inflation totaled 64 percent in the last three years, according to Sakib Sherani, who resigned recently as the principal economic adviser at the Finance Ministry. The purchasing power of the average wage earner has declined by 20 percent since 2008, he said.

Families are taking children out of school because they cannot afford both fees and food. Others choose between medicine and dinner.

A middle-class customer in a pharmacy in Rawalpindi, the city where the powerful army has its headquarters, told the pharmacist last week to sell him only two pills of a course of 10 antibiotics because he did not have enough money for groceries. …

Read more : The New York Times

Baloch peaceful rally in front of the US Consulate in Vancouver

BHRC & IVBMP letter to US consulate

The purpose of our peaceful rally today is to express our concern over the ongoing military operation and summary executions conducted by the — and — occupation forces in Balochistan. We also would like to express our concern regarding the U.S. military aid to Pakistan, which is being diverted by the — to crush the freedoms and rights movement in Balochistan. Instead of fighting the Afghan Taliban, the Al-Qaida linked Haqqani Terror-Network in North Waziristan, or Mulla Omar’s Quetta Shura; the — military and its intelligence services are committing atrocities against civilian Baloch populace. …

Read more : baluchsarmachar

Rally for freedom and democracy in Egypt

Mubarak, you’re fired!’ Toronto rally Saturday

By Krystalline Kraus

Rally for freedom and democracy in Egypt, Saturday, February 5, Assemble at 1 p.m., Queen’s Park (south side), TTC: Queen’s Park, Nearest intersection: University Avenue and College Street, March begins at 2 p.m. Please dress warmly.

Event on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/FreeEgypt

Just weeks after a revolution in Tunisia toppled its decades-old dictatorship, a similar movement in Egypt is poised to overthrow the 30-year-old regime of Hosni Mubarak. Please join us for a city-wide, family-friendly rally and march in downtown Toronto in support of the Egyptian people’s struggle for freedom and democracy, and to support all freedom struggles across the region. Please bring your placards, banners, and noise-makers.

Organized by – Canadian Coptic Association, Egyptian National Association for Change, Toronto Egypt Solidarity Campaign, Canadian Arab Federation, Canadian Peace Alliance, Toronto Coalition to Stop the War

WE NEED VOLUNTEERS!

Join our next volunteers’ meeting: Friday, February 4, 2011, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, 427 Bloor Street West, Room number to be posted, TTC: Spadina

Help us assemble placards and paint banners (all materials provided) and find out how you can help during the rally and march. Please RSVP to info@nowar.ca.

Read more : Rebble.Ca

Immigration officer fired after putting wife on list of terrorists to stop her flying home

By Steve Doughty

An immigration officer tried to rid himself of his wife by adding her name to a list of terrorist suspects.

He used his access to security databases to include his wife on a watch list of people banned from boarding flights into Britain because their presence in the country is ‘not conducive to the public good’.

As a result the woman was unable for three years to return from Pakistan after travelling to the county to visit family.

The tampering went undetected until the immigration officer was selected for promotion and his wife name was found on the suspects’ list during a vetting inquiry.

The Home Office confirmed today that the officer has been sacked for gross misconduct.

The incident is likely to raise new questions over levels of efficiency in the UK Border Agency, the organisation formed nearly three years ago by then Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to take over all immigration controls.

Read more: Mail Online

A Tunisami hits the Arab world — Razi Azmi

. Islamists are gaining popularity not because they wish to destroy Israel or the US, but because they give vent to the genuine grievances of their people against incompetent, corrupt and oppressive regimes.

A political tsunami has hit Egypt. Call it a Tunisami, after its place of origin. A contagion of mass revolt is gripping the Arab world. The popular upheaval that started in tiny Tunisia has now engulfed Egypt, the giant of the Arab world. Who would have thought that events in a quiet, small, insignificant country situated on the fringe of the Sahara would have such repercussions? But they have shaken the most populous Arab country and sent shockwaves not only in other Arab capitals but also in Washington and Tel Aviv, but for very different reasons.

While Arab regimes are now worried about their own survival, Washington is sleepless with a different anxiety — instability or an Islamist government in Cairo (and, heavens forbid, in Amman) might threaten Israel’s security. …

Read more : Daily Times

Raymond Davis … deja vu

An excerpt from the Khomeini’s Speech that he delivered after an incident similar to the recent Raymond Davis event took place in Iran in 1964.

Khomeini’s Speech Excerpts “The Granting of Capitaluatory Rights to the US” – 27 October, 1964

….I cannot express the sorrow I feel in may heart…Iran no longer has any festival to celebrate; they have turned our festival into mourning…They have sold us, they have sold our independence; but still they light up the city and dance…The dignity of the Iranian Army has been trampled underfoot! A law has been put before the Majlis according to which we are to accede to the Vienna Convention, and a provision has been added to it that all American military advisers, together with their families, technical, and administrative officials, and servants – in short, anyone in any way connected to them – are to enjoy legal immunity with respect to any crime they may commit in Iran. If some American’s servant, some American cook, assassinates your marja in the middle of the bazaar, or run over him, the Iranian police do not have the right to apprehend him! Iranian courts do not have the right to judge him! The dossier must be sent to America, so that our master there can decide what is to be done… They have reduced the Iranian people to a level lower than that of the American dog. If someone runs over a dog belonging to an American, he will be persecuted. But if an American cook runs over the Shah, the head of the state, no one will have the right to interfere with him. Why? Because they wanted a loan and American demanded this in return.

Source: Islam and Revolution: Writings and Declarations of Imam Khomeini, p 181-188.

Lets do an Egypt in India!

by Sudhir Gandotra

Time for a Non-violent-comprehensive revolution in India! Lets get rid of all violence in & around us! Join and also invite all your friends! Peace in the heart, light in the understanding .. “Working for a Violence-free World

“With 83% living on >20 rupees a day, 25% sleeping hungry ever night, prices rising daily, farmers committing suicide, increasing poverty-malnutrition-hunger-suicides, India is far away from Real-Democracy. It is time to wake up and take responsibility of the nation, take inspiration from the non-violent wave of transformation happening from Tunisia, through Egypt to other parts of the world, and to bring about a complete non-violent revolution in India in order to establish a Real democracy that can give a Dignified life to all the people without any discrimination whatsoever immediately. We do not lack resources for this. Only the willingness is missing as the scamster-corrupt-mafia-masquerading-politicians are working with the sole interest of taking India’s money to tax-heavens. This must stop NOW !”

“The hero of this age flies towards the stars.” – The Inner Look, XX. Internal Reality.

Silo (Mario Rodriguez Cobos) January 6, 1938 – September 16, 2010 – “You go deep into yourself, I go deep into myself and there we meet.”

Sudhir Gandotra’s blog http://blog.sudhirgandotra.org/

Courtesy: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_160997877284537#!