Secular Jinnah & Pakistan

Jinnah“No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you. We are victims of evil customs. It is a crime against humanity that our women are shut up within the four walls of the houses as prisoners. There is no sanction anywhere for the deplorable condition in which our women have to live.” ~ Founder of Pakistan, M.A. Jinnah, Speech at Muslim University Union, Aligarh 10, March 1944

“We should have a State in which we could live and breathe as free men and which we could develop according to our own lights and culture and where principles of social justice could find free play.” ~ Founder of Pakistan, M.A. Jinnah

SAPAC Fourth Annual Celebration

Report by: SAPAC

June 27th, 2013 (Washington, DC): The Sindhi American Political Action Committee’s Fourth Annual Celebration took place on June 21st in Washington, D.C. Distinguished guests and speakers included Honorable Congressman Brad Sherman and Honorable Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. We also received a video message from HonorableCongressman Adam Schiff, as well as a written letter from Honorable Congressman Frank Wolf. Tommy Wells, 2014 Candidate for Mayor, also joined us as a special guest for the evening. We were lastly joined by Sindhi American speakers, which included Dr. Maqbool Halepota, Dr. Gul Agha, Mr. Nathir Lalchandani, Dr. Shashi Lalvani, and Mr. Shankar Lakhavani.

Continue reading SAPAC Fourth Annual Celebration

Hon. Congressman Brad Sherman continues to advocate on behalf of Sindhis across the world.

Congressman Sherman raised VOA Sindhi with Broadcasting Board of Governors: An Agency “Defunct”

Washington: Congressman Brad Sherman continues to advocate on behalf of Sindhis across the world. At Today’s House Committee on Foreign Affairs Hearing, Congressman Sherman spoke with Board of Governors about the need for a Sindhi Voice of America program. You can hear his remarks here starting at the 0:55.54 mark. SAPAC is immensely grateful for Congressman Sherman’s dedication to the Sindhi people. ~ SAPAC

Courtesy: http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/hearing/hearing-broadcasting-board-governors-agency-%E2%80%9Cdefunct%E2%80%9D

Via – Sindhi e-lists/e-groups, June 26, 2013

Canada – Train derails in bridge collapse over Calgary’s Bow River

Train derails on bridge over Calgary’s Bow River

By CBC News

Train could be carrying diesel fuel, official says, with bridge ‘continuing to drop’

A train carrying what emergency officials say could be diesel fuel has derailed on Calgary’s Bonnybrook Bridge over the Bow River.

“The bridge is continuing to drop as we speak,” said Bruce Burrell, Calgary Emergency Management Agency director, adding that it has dropped at least two feet since emergency crews came on scene.

Burrell said that the contents of the train cars could be diesel fuel, or something similar to it.

Some nearby areas have been evacuated.

“Being a flammable product, we wanted to make sure we had people out of the area in case something happened,” said Calgary’s deputy fire chief Cam Uzeloc.

Read more » CBC
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/story/2013/06/27/calgary-flood-train-derailment-bonnybrook-bridge.html

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Train derails in bridge collapse near Sudbury, Ont.

CP says no risk to public after several cars topple into Wahnapitae River

By The Canadian Press

Canadian Pacific says there is no indication that a freight train derailment east of Sudbury on Sunday poses a danger to the public or the environment.

CP spokesman Ed Greenberg says one of the rail cars derailed and as a result struck a trestle bridge near the community of Wanup.

Images of the scene showed the bridge collapsed and a number of cars carrying containers fell into the Wahnapitae River.

Read more » CBC
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2013/06/02/ontario-sudbury-train-derailment-wanup.html

LOVE RULES THE DAY!

Supreme Court Bolsters Gay Marriage With Two Major Rulings

By

WASHINGTON — In a pair of major victories for the gay rights movement, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that married same-sex couples were entitled to federal benefits and, by declining to decide a case from California, effectively allowed same-sex marriages there.

The rulings leave in place laws banning same-sex marriage around the nation, and the court declined to say whether there was a constitutional right to such unions. But in clearing the  way for same-sex marriage in California, the nation’s most populous state, the court effectively increased to 13 the number of states that allow it.

The decisions will only intensify the fast-moving debate over same-sex marriage, and the clash in the Supreme Court reflected the one around the nation. In the hushed courtroom Wednesday morning, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy announced the majority opinion striking down the federal law in a stately tone that indicated he was delivering a civil rights landmark. After he finished, he sat stonily, looking straight ahead, while Justice Antonin Scalia unleashed a cutting dissent.

Read more » The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/27/us/politics/supreme-court-gay-marriage.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Average America vs the One Percent

By Alan Dunn, Contributor

If the Occupy movement does nothing else, it has at least introduced a new set of terms into the American vocabulary to talk about the distribution of wealth in America. Until recently, most average people had no idea how wealth was distributed in the country; most people had a vague idea of a wealthy minority, but they rarely grasped the full extent of income disparity between classes. Now, most people are aware of the notion of the 1 percent, although they still may not know exactly what it means or how that unequal distribution of wealth applies to the rest of the country.

Unequal wealth distribution is hardly a new or uniquely American problem. In fact, it’s been prevalent throughout society since humans first built civilizations: A small minority of aristocrats has always wielded the most power throughout history. In modern times, America lags behind nearly every other first-world nation in closing the gap between the classes. In fact, we’re making it worse.

The Distribution of Wealth Between Americans

Before you can talk about the 1 percent, it’s important to put the figures into perspective by understanding exactly what that figure means. The average annual income of the top 1 percent of the population is $717,000, compared to the average income of the rest of the population, which is around $51,000. The real disparity between the classes isn’t in income, however, but in net value: The 1 percent are worth about $8.4 million, or 70 times the worth of the lower classes.

The 1 percent are executives, doctors, lawyers and politicians, among other things. Within this group of people is an even smaller and wealthier subset of people, 1 percent of the top, or .01 percent of the entire nation. Those people have incomes of over $27 million, or roughly 540 times the national average income. Altogether, the top 1 percent control 43 percent of the wealth in the nation; the next 4 percent control an additional 29 percent.

It’s historically common for a powerful minority to control a majority of finances, but Americans haven’t seen a disparity this wide since before the Great Depression — and it keeps growing.

The Fallacy of Hard Work

It’s a common belief in America that all people have the same opportunity for success as the top 1 percent. Most people consider success to be a by-product of hard work, and hard work is something that Americans are extremely familiar with. In fact, Americans have increased productivity by 80 percent since 1979; unfortunately, their income hasn’t risen accordingly, if at all.

The average worker in an American company makes substantially less than supervisors and executives. In fact, corporate executives make 62 times more money than an average worker in bonuses alone, not counting the executive’s actual salary. For every corporate bonus, the company could have paid 62 employees. In fact, incentive pay actually rose 30 percent from years before the recession.

A Difference in Lifestyle: Americans and the 1 Percent

It’s no surprise that people in different classes spend their money differently. A person’s priorities change when he becomes wealthy, and certain expenses don’t vary much from one class to the next. The cost of food, healthcare and other expenses remains constant between classes, while the relative income may vary substantially.

For example, all Americans pay an average of a third of their incomes for housing. The second highest expense of top earners in America is transportation; the rich spend about 17 percent of their income traveling for business and pleasure. On the other hand, the lower classes spend about 17 percent of their income on feeding their families.

Read more » Forbes
http://www.forbes.com/sites/moneywisewomen/2012/03/21/average-america-vs-the-one-percent/

The Nanga Parbat Massacre

Night on Bald Mountain; The Nanga Parbat Massacre

by Omar

PS: contrary to what my friend had heard from Sher Khan (see below), Ali Hussain, the poor cook who got shot alongside our foreign guests in Diamir base camp, really was a Shia. So the Taliban guessed right when they looked at his name and shot him thinking “hey, this looks like a SHIA name”. Details here (in Urdu) http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2013/06/130626_pakistani_porter_murder_sh.shtml

Thousands like him will lose their livelihood now.

Bastards.

btw, as noted below by various commentators, the local Sunni fanatic faction in Kohistan is hostile to climbers and tourists in general. They are not the ones losing their livelihood. In fact, since the finest intel agency in the world trained them in Alpine warfare, THEIR livelihood is more dependent on a different kind of foreigner (the sort willing to pay protection money, employ “non-state actors” or otherwise contribute to the cause, willingly or unwillingly).

btw, contrary to all Paknationalist conspiracy bullcrap, the local police chief claims to know the terrorists and none are foreigners. 

On June 23rd some 15-20 men dressed in the uniforms of the Gilgit Scouts climbed up to the base camp at the foot of the Diamir face of Nanga Parbat. There, at the height of 13000 feet above sea level, they pulled climbers, guides, porters and cooks out of their tents, smashed their phones, laptops and solar panels and put them in two groups. The locals were in one group, the foreigners were lined up on the other side. Then they shot all the foreign climbers in the back of the head. Since exit wounds are bigger than entry wounds and exit wounds were in the face, some of the foreigners are said to be hard to recognize. Looking at ID cards, they also shot a local cook whose name was Ali Hassan. If they had asked him, he might have told them that he was a Sunni, just happened to have a “Shia-sounding” name. But unfortunately the resistance-fighters (thank you Tariq Ali) didnt bother to ask. Another local who told this story to a friend survived because his name is Sher Khan. He is Ismaili. Luckily for him, they just looked at ID cards. He survived because his name doesnt sound Shia.

It takes a day to climb to the base camp. The area is fairly remote. Adventurous tourists and climbers do go there, but its still the kind of place where everyone knows who has just passed by and why. Yet 15-20 killers made the climb, carried out a massacre and disappeared. And have not been seen since.

Its not THAT remote thought. The valleys to the west are the region of Kohistan. Its a Sunni majority region that abuts the significant Shia and Ismaili population of Gilgit-Baltistan. In the 1980s General Zia, perhaps not fully confident of the Jihad bonafides of the Shias, had the Kohistanis massacre some local Shias and started a sectarian feud that is still ongoing.

A year ago there was a massacre of Shia passengers travelling to Gilgit through the nearby town of Chilas.

Note that passengers are being identified by the scars on their back. The people who are carrying out the massacre are NOT masked. The whole affair is happening on the main highway. It went on for a long time. But nobody came to stop them. Nobody has been arrested or punished. There have also been episodes where climbers or tourists have been looted by armed men in the area. So violence is not new to this region. But previously only locals were being killed, now the terrorists have struck a more prominent target.

Continue reading The Nanga Parbat Massacre

Living with Jihadistan – Parthasarathy reviews Avoiding Armageddon

Books by American academics, officials and journalists on India and Pakistan almost invariably portray reluctance of the authors to call a spade a spade. They underplay the serious global implications of Pakistan’s links with radical Islamist terrorist groups and the dangerous role of these groups within Pakistan and beyond its borders, particularly in India and Afghanistan. Bruce Riedel is different. He is an American specialist on the Middle East, South Asia and counter-terrorism, with 29 years’ experience in the CIA. He has also served four presidents in the White House.

Riedel’s new book, Avoiding Armageddon: America, India and Pakistan to the Brink and Back, is a colourful and interesting account of the imperatives, twists and turns of America’s policies, especially since the days of World War II and the subsequent partition of the sub-continent in August 1947. While the birth pangs of the partition, the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir and the India-Pakistan conflicts of 1965 and 1971 are covered factually and impartially, it is important for all those interested in the geopolitics of India’s neighbourhood to read and absorb Riedel’s analysis of how the US cultivated Pakistan’s military dictator, General Zia-ul-Haq, to “bleed” the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. In the process, America made Pakistan a playground for radical Islamist groups worldwide, which undermined security and stability within Pakistan and across its entire neighbourhood.

General Zia laid the foundations for Pakistan’s ambitions to make Afghanistan a radical Islamic state and the epicentre for global jihad. Over 80,000 Afghans were armed and trained by the isi during the Zia period, with an aim of ending Afghan territorial claims on Pakistan and eliminating Indian and Soviet influence there, while also making Afghanistan “a real, Islamic State, part of a pan-Islamic revival that will one day win over the Muslims of the Soviet Union”. Riedel reveals how General Zia used the Afghan conflict for carrying his enthusiasm for jihad into Jammu and Kashmir, following a secret meeting with Kashmiri Jamat-e-Islami leader Maulana Abdul Bari in 1980. Riedel also reveals Zia’s role in fomenting terrorism in Punjab in the 1980s. He exposes US duplicity in rewarding Pakistan in the 1980s, by deliberately turning a blind eye to its nuclear weapons programme.

Riedel explains how short-sighted American policies promoted Wahhabi-oriented radicalisation in a nuclear-armed Pakistan. These policies also increased the dominance of the army, weakening democratic institutions. They led to the emergence of global links between radical Islamist organisations in Pakistan and Afghanistan and their counterparts across the world. The Kargil conflict is discussed in detail, as is the military standoff that followed the December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament. Riedel is unsparing on the links of the isi with the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). He dwells on the nexus between isi-supported terrorist groups like the let and the Jaish-e-Mohammed, with the Taliban and with groups like the al Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The book commences with the 26/11 terrorist strike on Mumbai. The actions of the let and its chief Hafiz Mohammed Saeed and their terrorist links are clinically analysed. Riedel describes how the tentacles of the ISI extend from the let to the Taliban and jihadi groups worldwide.

Riedel spells out two nightmare scenarios. The first is a takeover of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons by terrorists. The second nightmare he alludes to is a 26/11-type terrorist attack leading to nuclear escalation, after an angered India responds militarily.

Read more at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/parthasarathy-reviews-avoiding-armageddon/1/277746.html

Snowden leaks may embarrass Canberra

By Philip Dorling

American intelligence whistle-blower Edward Snowden may expose top secret Australian intelligence gathering operations and embarrass Australia’s relations with neighbouring Asian countries, Australian intelligence officials fear.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/snowden-leaks-may-embarrass-canberra-20130625-2ov4l.html#ixzz2XEZC9jUQ

George Zimmerman didn’t shoot teenager in self-defense: prosecutor

Trayvon Martin Killer Wanted to Shoot, Prosecutor Says

By Andrew Harris & Christopher Boyd

George Zimmerman, the Neighborhood Watch volunteer accused of murdering Trayvon Martin, didn’t shoot the teenager in self-defense, a prosecutor told a jury of six women at the start of trial in Florida.

Read more » Bloomberg
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-24/martin-murder-trial-set-to-start-before-florida-jury.html

via – Twitter

U.S. lashes at Russia for allowing Edward Snowden to transit through Moscow

Kerry Reproaches Russia as Ecuador Considers Snowden Asylum

By Bloomberg News

The U.S. lashed out at Russia for letting former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden transit through Moscow as Ecuador considered his bid for asylum.

Secretary of State John Kerry said today it will be “deeply troubling” if Russia had advance notice of Snowden’s arrival in Moscow and “notwithstanding that, they make the decision willfully to ignore that and not live by the standards of the law.”

Snowden, who had been booked to fly from Moscow to Havana today after arriving from Hong Kong yesterday, didn’t board the flight at Sheremetyevo International Airport, said an official for state-owned OAO Aeroflot, asking not to be identified because the information is confidential.

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy group, said Snowden was “healthy and safe,” though he declined to give Snowden’s current location on a conference call with reporters today.

Read more » Bloomberg
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-23/u-s-says-it-will-chase-down-snowden-after-hong-kong-departure.html

Via – Twitter

Imran Farooq Murder: London Police arrests Pakistani origin suspect

By Murtaza Ali Shah

LONDON: In a major breakthrough, Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command detectives investigating the murder of Dr Imran Farooq arrested a man on suspicion of conspiracy to murder the Pakistani politician on Thursday 16 September 2010.

The 52-year-old British Citizen of Pakistani origin was arrested at London’s Heathrow Airport at approx 10:10 AM on Monday morning after landing at the airport on a flight from Canada. The detectives lay in waiting for the man whose travel trail was being monitored for a long time. The detectives were interviewing him on Monday at a West London Police station where he was in custody.

Dr Farooq was on his way home from work when he was attacked outside his home in Green Lane, Edgware, by a group of Pakistani looking men who killed him using a kitchen knife and bricks. A post-mortem gave his cause of death as multiple stab wounds and blunt trauma to the head.

A five and a half inch-bladed kitchen knife and a house brick used in the attack were recovered at the scene. A spokesman at the Metropolitan Police told that detectives from “the Met Police Counter Terrorism Command remain committed to finding those responsible”.

The detectives believe that Dr Imran Farooq’s murder would have required careful planning and would have required help from other people, some of whom may have provided assistance or information unwittingly.

Continue reading Imran Farooq Murder: London Police arrests Pakistani origin suspect

Nawaz Sharif announces to try dictator Musharraf for High Treason

Government to try Musharraf for high treason: PM Sharif

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif announced in the National Assembly [Federal Parliament] that former military dictator General (retd) Pervez Musharraf will be tried for high treason under article 6 of the Constitution, Geo News reported.

Pervez Musharraf faces charges of abrogating the Constitution of Pakistan and detaining judges of the higher judiciary after imposing emergency on November 3, 2007.

Speaking in the National Assembly on Monday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that Pervez Musharraf will be held accountable for subverting the Constitution of Pakistan, stopping judges of higher judiciary from working through illegal orders and taking unconstitutional steps of imposing emergency on November 3, 2007.

He said that there had been a tug of war between democracy and dictatorship, adding that political parties and intellectuals didn’t let the flag of democracy fall.

Moreover, Nawaz Sharif said that Pakistan came into being through democractic struggle and the process of transition of power will continue in the country.

Article 6 : High Treason*

(1)Any person who abrogates or subverts or suspends or holds in abeyance, or attempts or conspires to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance, the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason.

(2)Any person aiding or abetting [or collaborating] the acts mentioned in clause (1) shall likewise be guilty of high treason.

(2A)An act of high treason mentioned in clause (1) or clause (2) shall not be validated by any court including the Supreme Court and a High Court.

(3)Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) shall by law provide for the punishment of persons found guilty of high treason.

*excerpt from the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

Courtesy: Geo TV
http://www.geo.tv/GeoDetail.aspx?ID=106588

‘Education emergency should be declared in Pakistan’

ISLAMABAD, June 20: At the moment, over 25 million children are out of school in Pakistan, and the literacy rate is less than 60 percent. It requires us to declare an educational emergency in the country.

This was said by the state minister for education, Engineer Baligh-ur-Rehman, during the launching ceremony of a report, Pakistan District Education Rankings, by Alif Ailaan and Sustainable Development Policy Institute at a local hotel on Thursday.

He said the literacy rate could not be improved without political will. During the past five years, 45,000 teachers had been appointed in Punjab and most were placed near their villages to assure maximum attendance.“We have decided to establish the National Curriculum Council to introduce a syllabus with a minimum standard for all provinces,” he said, adding that schools would be increased from 10,000 to 40,000 in the first year of the current government’s tenure.

The ranking report showed the huge variation in education standards across Pakistan. One of the goals of the report was to serve as a benchmark against which the performance of politicians and administrators could be assessed.

Continue reading ‘Education emergency should be declared in Pakistan’

Indo-Pak: An Indian retailer formally opens its first shop in Pakistan

Indo PakFlagship Indian retailer opens in Pakistan

By AFP

SINDH – KARACHI: Raymond, an Indian suiting and fabrics conglomerate, will on Friday formally open its first shop in Pakistan, where business leaders welcomed it as a step towards closer trade ties between the two countries.

NexSource Pakistan, which acquired the rights to sell Raymond suiting in Clifton, one of the most upscale neighbourhoods in business capital Karachi, said it was a major acquisition.

“They wanted to bring Raymond to Pakistan and we offered to be their partner,” said one of its directors, Najmus Saqib.

Nexsource say they expect to reap good business after an aggressive advertising campaign in a city whose wealthier residents are sartorially obsessed and where fashion is a key driver of business.

“People are crazy about clothing and dressing, and they already know Raymond,” Saqib said. “We just have to let them know that it is here.”

NexSource executive Saqib said he believed the enormous Indian market represented massive business opportunities for Pakistan.

Read more » DAWN
http://dawn.com/news/1019784/flagship-indian-retailer-opens-in-pakistan

Taliban asked to join hands with fellow countrymen

By: Daily Dawn report

KARACHI: In what appears to be a major policy shift, Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain has invited the Taliban to join hands with their fellow countrymen, instead of disassociating themselves from Pakistan.

“I ask the Taliban leaders that this country came into being as a result of great sacrifices. Come and join Pakistanis…do not disassociate yourselves from Pakistan,” he said in a telephonic address at the 27th foundation day of the MQM on Friday.

The day was celebrated across Pakistan and Mr Hussain’s address was simultaneously relayed to 34 places in the country. Carrying MQM’s tri-coloured flags and portraits of Mr Hussain, a large number of people attended the main rally at Karachi’s Jinnah Ground.

Condemning the United States for drone attacks in tribal areas, Mr Hussain said that the US was violating Pakistan’s sovereignty and killing innocent people, adding that drone attacks were being carried out in clear violation of the UN charter.

He assured the government and the armed forces that every Pakistani would support them if they took ‘meaningful steps’ with courage and bravery to stop drone strikes and part ways with the carrot-and-stick game of superpowers.

Courtesy: DAWN
http://beta.dawn.com/news/614195/taliban-asked-to-join-hands-with-fellow-countrymen

So, finally, a farewell to arms

Islamabad diary

by Ayaz Amir

With the announcement of a Taliban address in Doha, Qatar, and the Americans welcoming this development, the window for military action in our Waziristan has finally slammed shut. The army wasn’t about to launch any operation – no fear of that – but even the tantalising possibility that at some point in the future vacillation would give way to decisive action now evaporates.

The scales have shifted. With the Americans engaging, however fruitlessly, with the Taliban in Doha, the Pakistan Army is in no position (psychologically) to undertake any kind of military operation in North Waziristan. The army can play around with the status quo in that embattled region – huffing and puffing and losing more officers and men to Taliban ambushes, six of our soldiers killed in an ambush this Wednesday – but the status quo, rail against it as we might, has come to stay.

Time was on the side of the Taliban, as it always is on the side of any force engaged in irregular warfare. And the Pakistan Army and a confused nation, their thinking split down the middle, have missed the bus. For us that is the significance of the Taliban gaining, at long last, virtual American diplomatic recognition – which is what this latest development amounts to.

A triumph for Mullah Omar and a problem for us, because Mullah Omar’s resurgent emirate, waiting patiently for the Americans to depart, now extends, like a dagger, into Pakistan – in the form of Hakeemullah’s Waziristan.

Let us not lose heart too much. This is not history being rewritten, only history being reversed. The kingdom of Kabul once held sway over the territories constituting our north-west frontier. Maharajah Ranjit Singh (sorry for bringing up his name again) pushed the Afghans back and the British inherited Ranjit Singh’s kingdom. That is how the new state of Pakistan came into possession of those frontier lands.

But through an historical process, starting with the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in 1979 and leading up to the American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Pakistan’s control over those territories stands immeasurably weakened.

Strange the workings of history – our military geniuses under Gen Zia sought strategic depth in Afghanistan. It is the Taliban and Al-Qaeda which have acquired strategic depth in Pakistan.

The Americans are about to talk to the Taliban not to get them to lay down their arms and ship them to the Solomon Islands, but as a face-saving exercise. They want to exit Afghanistan sans too much humiliation. In so many words they are telling the Taliban, look we are getting out; make our departure easier. That’s it, if only we could read the writing on the wall.

Hamid Karzai has more sense than we do. Look at his anger: he knows he’s been used and the Americans, for all their tall talk, are about to talk, if not cut a deal, with his sworn enemies. And he’s frothing at the mouth, without this having the slightest effect on his paymasters.

At least Karzai knows what is what. We get used like a box of tissues again – the first time under Zia, the second time now – and still think we are ‘stakeholders’ in the Afghan game. There’s no end to our talent for make-believe, even as the tide of history is being reversed.

Continue reading So, finally, a farewell to arms

Pakistan has broken world’s record of planting 8,47,275 saplings of mangroves

By: Shujauddin Qureshi, Karachi, Sindh

Pakistan has broken not only India’s but world’s record of planting 8,47,275 saplings of mangroves in 12 hours along Kharo Chhaan, Keti Bander coast of Sindh (Arabian Sea) in Thatto district Sindh. World Guinness book of record officials were present to monitor it at Indus Delta.

Courtesy: Via Facebook

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More details » BBC urdu
http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2013/06/130622_mangroves_record_zz.shtml

Brazilian Revolt Claims Second Life as Violence Erupts

By Joshua Goodman, Raymond Colitt & David Biller

Brazil’s swelling street rebellion claimed its second fatality in the largest and most violent protests yet, as 1 million demonstrators rallied for better public services and an end to corruption

Marches took place in hundreds of cities across Brazil last night in what began as a peaceful protest. Violence later erupted with police battling mobs trying to storm the Foreign Ministry in Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro’s city hall.

In the northern city of Belem, a 54-year-old street cleaner died today after having a heart attack during the protests there, local health officials said. Yesterday an 18-year-old was killed when a vehicle accelerated into a crowd in the city of Ribeirao Preto, the military police said. The Free Fare Movement that helped organize protests in Sao Paulo said today it wouldn’t call new protests for now.

President Dilma Rousseff, who has been struggling to get in front of the mass movement, met with cabinet members today to discuss emergency measures to help quell violence and prepare proposals on education, health and other demands of protesters, a government official aware of her agenda said.

The movement triggered by an increase in bus fares this month has spread amid a groundswell of discontent among Brazil’s middle class. While faster economic growth helped lift 40 million people out of poverty over the past decade, a recent slowdown and faster inflation threaten to erode social gains.

Read more » Bloomberg
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-21/brazil-protests-persist-after-cities-revoke-fare-increase.html

Bangladesh: 10 jihadis to hang for assisting in a suicide bombing that killed 8 people

Ten Bangladesh militants are condemned to death

A court in Bangladesh has sentenced 10 Islamist militants to death for assisting a suicide bombing in 2005 which killed eight people near a courthouse in the town of Gazipur. Police at the time described it as the country’s first suicide bombing.

The condemned men, all members of the banned JMB militant group, showed no remorse after a judge sentenced them in a crowded Dhaka courtroom.

Read more » BBC
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22983209

Protests Expand in Brazil, Fueled by Video of Police Brutality

By ROBERT MACKEY

As my colleague Simon Romero reports from São Paulo, more than 200,000 Brazilians filled the streets in cities across the country on Monday to protest the high cost of living and lavish spending on soccer stadiums ahead of next year’s World Cup, in demonstrations that have intensified as images of police brutality against peaceful protesters spread on social networks.

While the dynamic of heavy-handed police tactics, like the use of pepper spray, tear gas and rubber bullets, intensifying rather than quelling protests echoes recent events in Turkey — not to mention those in the Unites States, Spain, Syria, Libya, Bahrain, Egypt and Tunisia in 2011 — one difference is that some of the images of the police crackdown in Brazil that stirred the most anger were captured by reporters for local newspapers and television stations, not just protesters or foreign correspondents.

One striking account of the violence used on protesters last week in Brazil’s largest city, captured in a video viewed more than a million times on YouTube, was narrated by Giuliana Vallone, a reporter for the newspaper Folha de São Paulo, who was shot in the eye with a rubber bullet at point-blank range by one of the police “shock troops” deployed against the protesters.

Read more » The New York Times
http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/18/protests-expand-in-brazil-fueled-by-video-of-police-brutality/

One Sindhi refugee’s story.

A rags-to-riches story

The India Club in Oud Metha on Sunday evening saw the launch of the second edition of his autobiography called Taking the High Road by Indian tycoon Dr Ram Buxani.

Buxani started working in Dubai some five decades ago. Back then he made Dh8 (125 Indian rupees) a month at ITL and today, he is a 50 per cent shareholder in the same group.

In his speech, besides thanking his well-wishers, the 72-year-old Sindhi-speaker talked about the difficulties he faced on his way up.

“Our (UAE) Rulers have a rare art of sailing through difficult times,” Buxani said.

“This decade has brought me on a unique pedestal which I had never dreamt of… Murij Manghnani and I have been associates for 54 years and I am thankful to God, friends and associates for this association,” he said.

“The company itself is completing 60 years this year. I am indeed grateful to Murij Manghnani for his constant guidance and pray that it remains with us for a long time.”

Indian Ambassador M. K. Lokesh was among the guests during the book launch. “The success and contribution of the Indian community in the region must be told as all such stories everywhere in the world,” Lokesh said.

Buxani is chairman of the India Club, Dubai. He was also chairman of Indian High School, Dubai, from 2000 to 2004.

He is also a board member of Al Noor Training Centre for Children with Special Needs in Dubai.

Buxani was generous in his acknowledgement of his family support. He made special mention of his wife Veena, and spoke of the empty-nest syndrome as well: “Living without children at home gives rare sad feelings and realisation as to how a house can be without kids.

When we marry, we often like to have a honeymoon period without anyone around. But after a couple of decades we start liking having everyone around us and that becomes the honeymoon. That’s what we have started missing”.

The proceeds from the sales of the book, priced at Dh90, will go towards Al Noor Training Centre for Children with Special Needs.

Courtesy: Khaleej Times
http://www.khaleejtimes.com/kt-article-display-1.asp?xfile=data/todayevent/2013/June/todayevent_June24.xml&section=todayevent

New gas reserves in Sindh

Pakistan discovers new gas reserves in Sindh

KARACHI: Huge reserves of natural gas have been discovered in Sindh as Pakistan struggles to overcome crippling energy crisis.

According to Geo News report, 39 million cubic feet gas reserves have been discovered during the drilling of wells in Sanghar. The report said 65 percent shares of the project are owned by the PPL. According to initial estimates, 106.8 million cubic feet natural gas would be produced.

70 percent of natural gas reserves in Pakistan are located in Sindh.

Courtesy: The News

http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-105916-Pakistan-discovers-new-gas-reserves-in-Sindh

America Doesn’t Have #1 Richest Middle-Class in the World…We’re Ranked 27th!

Big Lie: America Doesn’t Have #1 Richest Middle-Class in the World…We’re Ranked 27th!

America is the richest country on Earth. We have the most millionaires, the most billionaires—and a increasingly poor “middle class.”

America is the richest country on Earth. We have the most millionaires, the most billionaires and our wealthiest citizens have garnered more of the planet’s riches than any other group in the world. We even have hedge fund managers who make in one hour as much as the average family makes in 21 years!

This opulence is supposed to trickle down to the rest of us, improving the lives of everyday Americans. At least that’s what free-market cheerleaders repeatedly promise us.

Unfortunately, it’s a lie, one of the biggest ever perpetrated on the American people.

Our middle class is falling further and further behind in comparison to the rest of the world. We keep hearing that America is number one. Well, when it comes to middle-class wealth, we’re number 27.

The most telling comparative measurement is median wealth (per adult). It describes the amount of wealth accumulated by the person precisely in the middle of the wealth distribution—50 percent of the adult population has more wealth, while 50 percent has less. You can’t get more middle than that.

Wealth is measured by the total sum of all our assets (homes, bank accounts, stocks, bonds etc.) minus our liabilities (outstanding loans and other debts). It the best indicator we have for individual and family prosperity. While the never-ending accumulation of wealth may be wrecking the planet, wealth also provides basic security, especially in a country like ours with such skimpy social programs. Wealth allows us to survive periods of economic turmoil. Wealth allows our children to go to college without incurring crippling debts, or to get help for the down payment on their first homes. As Billie Holiday sings, “God bless the child that’s got his own.”

Well, it’s a sad song. As the chart below shows, there are 26 other countries with a median wealth higher than ours (and the relative reduction of U.S. median wealth has done nothing to make our economy more sustainable).

Read more » AlterNet
http://www.alternet.org/economy/americas-middle-class-27th-richest

Brazil erupts in protest over services and World Cup costs

Some of country’s biggest ever rallies sweep major cities as bus fare rise is last straw in spiral of high costs and poor services

By in Rio de Janeiro, guardian.co.uk

Brazil experienced one of its biggest nights of protest in decades on Monday as more than 100,000 people took to the streets nationwide to express their frustration at heavyhanded policing, poor public services and high costs for the World Cup.

The major demonstrations in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Brasilia, Belem, Belo Horizonte, Salvador and elsewhere started peacefully but several led to clashes with police and arson attacks on cars and buses.

The large turnout and geographic spread marked a rapid escalation after smaller protests last week against bus price increases led to complaints that police responded disproportionately with rubber bullets, tear gas and violent beatings.

Coinciding with the start of the Confederations Cup – a World Cup test event – the rallies brought together a wide coalition of people frustrated with the escalating costs and persistently poor quality of public services, lavish investment on international sporting events, low standards of healthcare and wider unease about inequality and corruption.

In Rio images and video posted online showed vast crowds.

While the vast majority of demonstrations were peaceful, several police were injured in clashes at the city’s legislative assembly, at least one car was overturned and burned and windows were smashed in the offices of banks and notary offices.

The unrest escalated during the night as a large crowd set several fires outside the legislative assembly, smashed the building’s windows and daubed graffiti on the walls proclaiming “Revolution”, “Down with Paes, down with Cabral [the mayor and state governor]” and “Hate police”. Police inside responded with pepper spray and perhaps more – the Guardian saw one protester passed out and bleeding heavily from a wound in the upper arm.

The causes pursued by the protesters varied widely. “We are here because we hate the government. They do nothing for us,” said Oscar José Santos, a 19-year-old who was with a group of hooded youths from the Rocinha favela.

“I’m an architect but I have been unemployed for six months. There must be something wrong with this country,” said Nadia al Husin, holding up a banner calling on the government to do more for education.

At a far smaller rally in Brasilia demonstrators broke through police lines to enter the high-security area of the national congress. Several climbed on to the roof.

In Belo Horizonte police clashed with protesters who tried to break through a cordon around a football stadium hosting a Confederations Cup match between Nigeria and Tahiti.

In Port Alegre demonstrators set fire to a bus and in Curitiba protesters attempted to force their way into the office of the state governor. There were also rallies in Belem, Salvador and elsewhere.

In São Paulo, which had seen the fiercest clashes last week and the main allegations of police violence, large crowds gathered once again but initial reports suggested the marches passed peacefully.

Read more » Guardian.co.uk
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/18/brazil-protests-erupt-huge-scale

PAKISTAN: Disappearances and extrajudicial killings continue unabated in Balochistan — the civilian governments remain callously indifferent

By: Asian Human Rights Commission

During the first four months of the year 2013 no restraint was observed on the part of the military in their actions. Abductions by unknown persons, disappearances and extrajudicial killings continue unabated in the war torn zone of Balochistan province. During the months from January to April, according to the Voice of Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP), an organisation that compiles records of missing persons and extrajudicial killings, 244 persons were abducted, 11 recovered, 34 extrajudicially killed and 26 died during military operations in different parts of the province.

According to the Pakistan Medical Association, Balochistan Chapter, 32 doctors are missing and 28 doctors have so far been killed. In addition dozens of lawyers are missing and many have been extrajudicial killed after abduction. Besides this, generally there is no rule of law and any person can be picked up and killed for any reason.

However, a new situation has arisen in the policies of the law enforcement agencies in that they have extended their jurisdictions to other provinces. Today Boloch citizens are being abducted from Karachi, the capital of Sindh province, where they go for higher education.

Read more » Asian Human Rights Commission
http://www.humanrights.asia/news/ahrc-news/AHRC-STM-110-2013

Simple arithmetic — Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

The establishment and its intellectuals’ priority has never been the rights of the Baloch and Sindhis

The envisaged Gwadar-Khunjrab-Kashgar railway and oil pipeline, for which a feasibility report was completed by Chinese engineers before Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s 2010 visit to Pakistan, bodes evil for the Baloch people’s rights. This is but a part of the larger strategy aimed at ensuring that Balochistan becomes the Tibet and Xinjiang of Pakistan. Masood Khan, Pakistan’s Ambassador to China, had then stated, “We support China’s policy on Tibet, Xinjiang and human rights.” China-Pakistan relations are based on mutual support for human rights violations.

This is amply proved by the fact that during the 23rd regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s general debate in Geneva on June 7, 2013, when Balochistan’s representative to the UN Mehran Marri spoke about Pakistan’s continuing human rights abuses and recent farcical elections in Balochistan, the Pakistani delegate objected, and was supported by the Chinese and Cuban delegates. However, much to their chagrin, the US and UK representatives taking strong exception to their objections, supported Marri and called on the session chair to allow him to complete his statement and be allowed on record. Ironically, the Cuban representative said it was unacceptable for an NGO, conveniently forgetting that they too were once an NGO (pun intended), to attack the territorial integrity and independence of a sovereign state.

The continuing Afghan influx has already changed the demographic balance in parts of Balochistan. This proposed railway will help Pakistan usher in engineered demographic changes to turn the Baloch into a minority in their own land. The recently installed extremely pliable government in Quetta — whose titular chief minister cannot even name a cabinet without Nawaz Sharif’s consent — fully supports these sham mega-projects to bring about required demographic changes. The systematic engineered demographic changes combined with the brutal killings of Baloch activists and ordinary people suspected of sympathies with the Sarmachars (insurgents) are the two-pronged attacks that the Pakistani establishment has unleashed on the Baloch people. The demography issue is a life and death issue as the Baloch people’s destiny hinges on it and the resistance they can muster.

The Pashtuns too are suffering because of the harebrained dreams of strategic depth, which the deep state refuses to abandon in the hope of becoming the arbiter of Afghanistan’s fate and the hope to keep India on the back foot with its non-state actors. This ludicrous policy also sustains sectarian terror.

Sindhis have had the worst of both worlds and are rapidly turning into a minority in Sindh. Once again demands for shifting Biharis there are being made. This does not mean that they have not been coming in slowly, steadily and surreptitiously; where even mechanics can get blue passports at a price, getting an NIC is not a big deal. Thousands of Afghans refugees are bona fide citizens of Sindh; an Afghan colony is slowly taking shape near Bhit Shah and may well become a Sohrab Goth.

Continue reading Simple arithmetic — Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

New Film ‘Dirty Wars’ Exposes America’s Ruthless, Covert Wars

Jeremy Scahill’s new documentary reveals how dirty wars take innocent lives and make us less safe.

The United States deems Kabul, Afghanistan the center of the “war on terror.” The press corps and other embedded reporters, then, are limited to these borders.

But beyond these green (meaning safe, according to the U.S. govt.) streets of Afghanistan, lies a sea of red (dangerous) and black (Taliban-heavy) streets that go largely unexplored by journalists.

Yet, that’s exactly where investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill begins to delve in his new documentary Dirty Wars, directed by Rick Rowley.

Read more » AlterNet
http://www.alternet.org/media/review-jeremy-scahills-new-documentary-dirty-wars

Tarek Mishkhas Honored in Riyadh

By: Faiz Al-Najdi

Editor-in-Chief of Urdu News and Malyalam News – Tarek Abdul Hameed Mishkhas – was honored by Pakistanis in Riyadh this past weekend. He was the Chief Guest at a reception hosted in his honor by Engr. Tariq Soomro – the President of Pakistan Investors Forum – aka: PIF.

Welcoming Tarek Mishkhas to Riyadh Engr. Soomro mentioned that Tarek Mishkhas was a proud recipient of Sitara-e-Quaid-e-Azam in 2010 – one of the highest civil awards in Pakistan. “Tariq is well known as an intellectual and a journalist-cum-writer of a high standing in the Saudi society. He is equally known and quite popular too amongst the Expatriate community, especially with the Pakistanis, for his services and contributions to Urdu News and Malyalam News”, he informed. Soomro also informed that Tarek Mishkhas has travelled widely throughout the length and breadth of Pakistan. “He is the one who actually encouraged and motivated the Saudi Writer Yusf Safrallah – to write a book on Pakistan entitled, Pakistan: The Land of Seasons and Sceneries”, he added. Engr. Soomro also mentioned that Urdu News was in fact quite popular amongst the Pakistan community. “It is popular for the basic reason that it brings news from home and makes us feel homely”, Soomro remarked. Engr. Soomro then allowed the audience to introduce themselves to the Chief Guest.

Continue reading Tarek Mishkhas Honored in Riyadh