Extension in DG ISI tenure

Extension in DG ISI tenure would be a deal with government, says Nisar

ISLAMABAD: If the Pakistan Peoples Party-led government extends the contract of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt General Ahmad Shuja Pasha for a third term, then it would be considered as a “deal” with the government, said Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Friday.

Speaking at a press conference in Islamabad, Nisar said a possible extension would also make a case for government’s indictment.

In a press conference earlier, Nisar had said there are a lot of competent generals who are capable of filling this post, “and I hope that the army itself will devise a strategy to replace Pasha.”

He added: “During Pasha’s service, Pakistan witnessed massive intelligence failures such as the raid in Abbottabad; the Mumbai tragedy; the attack on Mehran Base Karachi; the Memogate scandal and Nato air strike on the Salala check post. It was unfortunate that despite all this, Pasha claims that the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani stopped him from resigning his post, which is strange for us.”

The Opposition Leader had earlier in a press conference on Thursday said that other, competent Generals, ought to be given a chance to run the agency.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune

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Time to get rid of ‘strategic depth’ hangover: Khar

By Baqir Sajjad Syed

ISLAMABAD, March 2: Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has said she hopes for a relationship with Afghanistan based on trust and called for leaving behind the past associated with interference in that country and support for Taliban.

“Recognise what we are doing now without overshadowing it with whatever has been Pakistan’s historical baggage. We are moving out of that hangover,” Ms Khar said at a meeting with a group of journalists at her office a week after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani launched an appeal for all Afghan groups to join an intra-Afghan process for peace and reconciliation. ….

Read more » DAWN

A country for bigotry

Land of bigots

By Tazeen Javed

It has been a year since Shahbaz Bhatti passed away. No, strike that, he did not pass away; his life was brutally cut short when he was murdered. Everyone from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to the Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan have been suspected with his murder, either by the police officials, or by the home ministry, yet no decent progress has been made.

In a way, it all makes sense, since only certain kinds of angry groups of men, who bay for blood and destruction, seem to carry any weight around here. Bhatti was NOT that kind of a man. He believed in fighting for rights the democratic way and had planned to introduce legislation that would ban hate speech and hate literature against all. He was campaigning for official holidays for minorities’ religious festivals and wanted the blasphemy law to be repealed which turned out to be a crime worthy of death.

Bhatti’s death is not a lone incidence of brutal violence. Planned acts of aggression and cruelty against minorities — whether ethnic, religious, sectarian or communal — is becoming a norm in the ‘Land of the Pure’. Intolerance has reached such levels that people with names that revealed their sectarian or religious beliefs are afraid to use them when they feel unsafe. Slain journalist, Mukarram Khan Atif narrated one such incident, which depicted the extent of narrow-mindedness and fanaticism in the country. He and another reporter were travelling south from Mohmand Agency through Khyber Agency and one of them had to use a name that would make him pass off as a member of the majority sect.

The minority communities — no matter who they are and where they are living — are constantly under threat. We have cases of forced conversions of Hindu girls, mostly minors in Sindh who are forcefully abducted and married to Muslim men and then presented to the court as religious converts. According to a treasury member of the Sindh Assembly, around 20 to 25 forced conversions take place every month in the province.

Acts of mob violence against Ahmadis seem to be rising at an alarming rate. The situation is such that any Ahmadi family is at risk of being threatened with the blasphemy law. Their places of worship are gunned and/or ransacked and the law-enforcement community and the state does nothing and silently looks on.

The perpetrators of the Gojra incident, where a whole Christian colony was burnt down, still roam free and the Hazaras in Balochistan are regularly targeted for their sectarian and ethnic identity. Also, nothing is done to check the dissemination of hate literature, some of which can be found even in mainstream bookstores. Last week’s tragic shooting of passengers travelling on a bus to Gilgit on the Karakoram Highway, where people were asked to show their CNICs and then taken off and killed — all of them were Shia — shows that we have reached an even higher level of prejudice and bigotry.

It would not be wrong to say that intolerance rules our society and no one is safe here in this country other than the men who perpetuate bias, bigotry and hatred?

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2012.

New York Times – Pakistan Builds Web Wall Out in the Open

By ERIC PFANNER

PARIS — Many countries censor the Internet, but few spell out their intentions as explicitly as Pakistan.

In an effort to tighten its control over the Internet, the government recently published a public tender for the “development, deployment and operation of a national-level URL filtering and blocking system.”

Technology companies, academic institutions and other interested parties have until March 16 to submit proposals for the $10 million project, but anger about it has been growing both inside and outside Pakistan.

Censorship of the Web is nothing new in Pakistan, which, like other countries in the region, says it wants to uphold public morality, protect national security or prevent blasphemy. The government has blocked access to pornographic sites, as well as, from time to time, mainstream services like Facebook and YouTube.

Until now, however, Pakistan has done so in a makeshift way, demanding that Internet service providers cut off access to specific sites upon request. With Internet use growing rapidly, the censors are struggling to keep up, so the government wants to build an automatic blocking and filtering system, like the so-called Great Firewall of China.

While China and other governments that sanitize the Internet generally do so with little public disclosure, Pakistan is being surprisingly forthcoming about its censorship needs. It published its request for proposals on the Web site of the Information and Communications Technology Ministry’s Research and Development Fund and even took out newspaper advertisements to publicize the project.

“The system would have a central database of undesirable URL’s that would be loaded on the distributed hardware boxes at each POP and updated on daily basis,” the request for proposals says, referring to uniform resource locators, the unique addresses for specific Web pages, and points of presence, or access points.

“The database would be regularly updated through subscription to an international reputed company maintaining and updating such databases,” according to the request, which was published last month.

The tender details a number of technical specifications, including the fact that the technology “should be able to handle a block list of up to 50 million URL’s (concurrent unidirectional filtering capacity) with processing delay of not more than 1 milliseconds.”

Following the Arab Spring, which demonstrated the power of the Internet to help spread political and social change, Pakistan’s move to clamp down has set off a storm of protest among free-speech groups in the country and beyond.

Opponents of censorship say they are doubly appalled because they associated this kind of heavy-handed approach more with the previous regime of Gen. Pervez Musharraf than with the current government of President Asif Ali Zardari.

“The authorities here are big fans of China and how it filters the Internet,” said Sana Saleem, chief executive of Bolo Bhi, a group that campaigns against restrictions on the Internet. “They overlook the fact that China is an autocratic regime and we are a democracy.”

Continue reading New York Times – Pakistan Builds Web Wall Out in the Open

The forces of darkness will not give up easily but neither will we.

Bilawal Vows to Defend Minorities on Bhatti Anniversary

Karachi: The Chairperson of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that the party will continue to stand by Pakistan’s religious minorities and support them against bigotry in the tradition of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.

In a statement marking the first anniversary of the assassination of PPP leader Shahbaz Bhatti, a member of the Christian community, the PPP Chairperson paid tribute to Shahbaz Bhatti’s dedication to Pakistani democracy and the ideal of a more tolerant and inclusive Pakistan. …

Read more » Pak Tea House

http://networkedblogs.com/uFt3H

A year after assassination of Pakistan’s minorities minister, police bar Ahmadis from Friday prayers

Police bar Ahmadis from entering worship centre

By Azam Khan

RAWALPINDI: Complying with the demands of the locals, the police on Friday barred Ahmadis from entering their worship centre in Satellite Town, Rawalpindi.

Leading the locals, businessman Sharjeel Mir told The Express Tribune that three days back on a consensus, it was decided to prevent any sort of worship in the centre. …

Read more » The Express Tribune

Javed Naseer Rind, another Baloch journalist silenced by the Deep State

Journalist abducted in Hub

By: Bari Baloch

QUETTA – A local journalist was abducted in Hub, the industrial town of Balochistan, on late Saturday night while a person was shot dead in Khuzdar.

As per reports, unidentified people abducted Javed Naseer Rind from IT Chowk Hub at gun-point and drove him away towards undisclosed location.

Javed Naseer Rind is a journalist and columnist, associated with a local daily, a Balochistan based Urdu language newspaper. Police quoting eyewitnesses said abductors were riding in two separate cars who held Javed Naseer at gun-point and bundled him into the car and drove away.

Police have started investigation into the incident,however, so far police have found no clue of the abductors.

Meanwhile, unidentified people shot dead a person in Khuzdar district on Sunday.

Police said the incident occurred at Mishk area of Tehsil Zehri when armed men opened fire on Gohar Jattak before escaping from the site.

Resultantly, he received bullet wounds and died on the spot. Police shifted the body to local hospital for autopsy. However, motive behind killing is yet to be ascertained.

Courtesy: The Nation

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Politics/12-Sep-2011/Journalist-abducted-in-Hub

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Pakistani Pleads Guilty in Key Guantanamo Case

By AFP

US NAVAL BASE AT GUANTANAMO BAY: Pakistani national Majid Khan pleaded guilty Wednesday at a Guantanamo military tribunal in a landmark case that could speed the trials of September 11 suspects.

Majid Khan, 32, a protege of September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, pleaded guilty to conspiracy, murder and attempted murder in violation of the laws of war, and to material support for terrorism and espionage.

Dressed in a dark suit and pink tie, he spoke in English without an interpreter in delivering his plea.

Khan, who has spent the last nine years behind bars, faced possible life in prison but is expected to receive a reduced sentence as part of a plea agreement.

In exchange for the lighter sentence, he will testify against other “high value” detainees, including Mohammed and four others alleged to have taken part in the 2001 attacks.

Many of the terms of the plea agreement remain classified. The Washington Post reported that the military plans to delay Khan’s sentencing for four years to ensure he complies with the agreement.

“It’s part of a strategy of building more solid cases against the handful of defendants that the government plans to try before the commissions,” said Jonathan Hafetz, a lawyer who has represented other Guantanamo detainees.

More than 10 years after the September 11 attacks, Mohammed and four co-defendants accused of plotting them are still awaiting trial at the prison, part of a US naval base in Cuba.

Courtesy: DAWN.COM