Liberal newspaper Express Tribune cowed into silence by Pakistani Taliban

Media group opts for self-censorship on terrorism after Taliban admits murder of three employees for critical reports on militants

By Jon Boone, in Islamabad

When it was launched four years ago, the Express Tribune set out to become the house newspaper of liberal-minded Pakistanis.

A newcomer to a market dominated by conservative-inclined papers, it made a point of writing about everything from the relentless rise of religious extremism to gay rights.

But in recent weeks the paper has been cowed into silence by an unusually blatant display of power by the Pakistani Taliban.

The paper was forced to drastically tone down its coverage last month after three employees of the media group, which includes another newspaper and television channel, were killed in Karachi by men armed with pistols and silencers on 17 January.

The attack was later claimed by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a large coalition of militant groups, which accused the media group of disseminating anti-Taliban propaganda.

Read more » theguardian
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/28/liberal-newspaper-express-tribune-silenced-pakistani-taliban

The Pakistan-China Corridor

A new project will give Pakistan the tools of globalization. Will it use them?

By Christopher Ernest Barber

Historian Daniel Headrick made the crucial connection between means and ends in the projection of global influence. For instance, Headrick argued that the Suez Canal, which opened in 1869, acted a tool of empire for the great powers of the nineteenth century. The building of a canal through the Sinai Peninsula not only  made trade and empire in Asia faster by avoiding the Cape of Good Hope, but more economical too. This was particularly the case for the world’s superpower, Great Britain. For Britain, the Suez was an important strategic consideration in its imperial outlook, making the transport of goods, officials and soldiers to Bombay and other key colonial hubs easier and affordable. At the same time, the canal aided the wider globalization process of the nineteenth century, which opened Asia up to the advent of Western adventure capitalists with exploitation and domination never far from the surface. The Suez Canal acted as a “tool of empire,” as Headrick put it, and in a small but important way, the world became that much more global—all to the benefit of those Western nations that could harness of the power of the sea.

Headrick’s argument turns on a profound if easily overlooked point: those with easy access to the sea-lanes of the world invariably have the tools for global power and trade. Even today, the laws of economic scale dictate that air and rail, while important in their own right, will always be poor cousins to the efficiency and capacity of container ships and waterborne trade.

Despite the fact that the free trade zone port of Gwadar in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Balochistan has been an unprofitable enterprise with operational control now in Chinese hands, its potential remains. If anything, the development of the deep ocean port and an associated international airport, as well as the creation of a transport corridor connecting Gwadar to China’s easternmost province of Xinjiang, is a game changer for the Central Asian region. In Beijing this February, President Mamnoon Hussain and Chinese President Xi Jinping signed a series of agreements designed to breathe life to the corridor project. In the coming years, the once sleepy fishing enclave of Gwadar will become a staging ground for the geopolitical reorganization of the region.

Continue reading The Pakistan-China Corridor

UK visas should be auctioned, migration advisers say

By Brian Wheeler, Political reporter The right to settle in Britain should be auctioned off to wealthy foreign investors, government advisers say. At present migrants can gain entry by investing £1m or more in the UK. Read more » BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-26334978

Pentagon plans to downsize US military

Pentagon’s Chuck Hagel plans to downsize US military

Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has unveiled plans to shrink the US Army to its smallest size since before the US entered World War Two.

Outlining his budget plan, the Pentagon chief proposed trimming the active-duty Army to 440,000-450,000 personnel, down from 520,000 currently.

Cold War-era Air Force fleets – the U-2 spy plane and the A-10 attack jet – will also be retired.

The US defence budget remains higher than during most of the Cold War.

‘Difficult decisions ahead’

On Monday, Mr Hagel noted the US military had come under pressure to downsize after two costly foreign wars. “This is a time for reality,” he said

Read more » BBC
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-26326969

SINDH – Village gives girls pioneering sex education class

By Reuters

JOHI: In neat rows, the girls in white headscarves listened carefully as the teacher described the changes in their bodies. When the teacher asked what they should do if a stranger touched them, the class erupted.

“Scream!” one called out. “Bite!” another suggested. “Scratch really hard with your nails!” a third said.

Sex education is common in Western schools but these ground-breaking lessons are taking place in Pakistan.

Publicly talking about sex in Pakistan is taboo and can even be a death sentence.

Almost nowhere in Pakistan offers any kind of organised sex education. In some places it has been banned.

But teachers operating in the village of Johi in poverty-stricken Sindh province say most families there support their sex education project.

Around 700 girls are enrolled in eight local schools run by the Village Shadabad Organisation. Their sex education lessons — starting at age eight — cover changes in their bodies, what their rights are and how to protect themselves.

“We cannot close our eyes,” said Akbar Lashari, head of the organisation. “It’s a topic people don’t want to talk about but it’s fact of our life.”

Facts of life

Lashari said most of the girls in the villages used to hit puberty without realising they will begin to menstruate or they got married without understanding the mechanics of sex.

The lessons even teach the girls about marital rape — a revolutionary idea in Pakistan, where forcing a spouse to have sex is not a crime.

“We tell them their husband can’t have sex with them if they are not willing,” Lashari said.

The lessons are an addition to regular classes and parents are told before they enroll their daughters. None has objected and the school has faced no opposition, Lashari said.

The eight schools received sponsorship from BHP Billiton, an Australian company that operates a nearby gas plant, but Lashari says sex education was the villagers’ own idea.

Teacher Sarah Baloch, whose yellow shalwar kameez brightens up the dusty school yard, said she hoped to help girls understand what growing up meant.

“When girls start menstruating they think it is shameful and don’t tell their parents and think they have fallen sick,” shesaid.

Baloch teaches at a tiny school of three brick classrooms. A fourth class is held outside because there are so many girls.

Continue reading SINDH – Village gives girls pioneering sex education class

Ukraine Leader Warns of Separatism

Ukraine crisis: Turchynov warns of ‘separatism’ risk

Ukraine’s interim President Olexander Turchynov has warned of the dangers of separatism following the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych. His comments came amid continuing opposition in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking regions to the new administration in Kiev.

Read more » BBC
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26333587

PAKISTAN: A Sindh nationalist and political activist killed by law enforcement agencies after severe torture

By: ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that officers of the law enforcement agencies abducted a young activist who was tortured to death in illegal detention. After the incident officers of these agencies threw the tortured and bullet riddled death body near the Bharia Road City Railway Station of District Naushero Feroz of Sindh Province. They also scattered some weapons near his dead body to give the appearance that his death was due to an encounter as well as to make him look like a terrorist.

The agencies officers then started intimidating the victim’s brothers not to reveal the incident and were also warned not to register a case against them. They were told that many false cases would be registered against them.

CASE NARRATIVE: Mr. Sahib Khan Ghoto (40), a resident of village Jalal Ghoto, Taluka and District Ghotki, Province Sindh was tortured to death in the custody of  law enforcement agencies during his illegal detention of three days. (warning to the reader: the photo of the deceased victim is graphic and may not be suitable for all viewers: http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/images/2014/ahrc-uac-021-2014.01). Sahib Khan, son of Mr. Dhani Bux was a political activist, nationalist and central member of the Executive Committee of Shehri Etihad (Citizens Unity) Ghotki. Shehri Etihad is a organization working in Ghotki for the people and in this organization all Non- Governmental Organizations, political parties and the civil societies of the Ghotki District are collectively working together.He was also the president of Jiye Sindh MutthahidaMahaz (JSSM) a nationalist party,Ghotki District.

Read more » Asian Human Right Commission
http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAC-021-2014

Ukraine – Will Putin Send in the Tanks?

By

“In the words of the popular proverb, Moscow was the heart of Russia; St Petersburg, its head. But Kiev, its mother…”

By James H. Billington

Just hours after a truce had been established between protesters and the government, violence erupted again today in the central square of Kiev, Ukraine’s capital city.

A trio of officials from the European Union—the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland—now head to Kiev to try to breach the fundamental divide roiling the country: a struggle between east and west, its outcome highly uncertain, the possibility of a civil war undeniably looming.

This divide has been at Ukraine’s core for centuries. What’s unfolding now is nothing less than the violent struggle for a nation’s soul. To some current and former diplomats, what is surprising is not that Ukraine appears to be coming apart, but that it has taken this long into the post Soviet era for something like this to happen.

At its origins, more than ten centuries ago, what was known as “Kievan Russia” was, as James Billington wrote in his classic study of Russian culture, “closely linked with Western Europe—through trade and intermarriage with every important royal family of Western Christendom.”

But , he continued, “those promising early links with the West were, fatefully, never made secure.”

Focus on that one word. “Fatefully.”  “Increasingly,” Billington writes, “inexerorably, Kievan Russia was drawn eastward into a debilitating struggle for control of the Eurasian steppe.”

What we’re witnessing now, make no mistake, is the latest chapter of that struggle. And it is one in which Moscow has an important, inherent and obvious advantage: Ukraine matters more to President Vladimir Putin, and Russia, than it does to Barack Obama, or German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

 The dissolution of the Soviet Union is the central, disastrous geopolitical fact of Putin’s life (See Newsweek cover story February 13, Putin’s Games). And among the new states that were created when the empire imploded, Ukraine was first among equals. It was, as Walter Russell Mead, professor and author at Bard College wrote recently, “the largest and most important republic within the Soviet Union.”

If Putin dreams of reassembling a reasonable facsimile of the Soviet empire—and he does—then, as Russell wrote, “everything pales beside the battle for Ukraine.”

When it appeared last fall that the government in Kiev was going to more closely align itself politically and economically with Europe than ever before, Putin moved forcefully to block it. Flush with oil and gas revenue—the beginning and the end of Russian economic strength–he offered Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych a $15 billion bribe to spurn the European Union.

Read more » News Week
http://www.newsweek.com/will-putin-send-tanks-229631

Pakistani Taliban say government must embrace Islamic law

By Saud Mehsud

Feb 22 (Reuters) – T he Pakistani Taliban told the government there was no chance of peace in the country unless Pakistan changed its political and legal system and officially embraced Islamic law.

Read more » Reuters
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/22/us-pakistan-taliban-idUSBREA1L0K620140222

Hundreds of tiny satellites could soon deliver free internet worldwide

Developers say they are less than a year away from deploying prototype satellites that could someday soon broadcast free and universal internet all over the globe from high in orbit.

The “Outernet” project being bankrolled by the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) of New York is currently in the midst of conducting technical assessment of the project, but say by June they hope to develop test satellite in order to see how long-range WiFi would work if beamed down by a tiny 10x10x10-centimeter payload called a CubeSat.

If all goes as planned, a test CubeSat will be sent into orbit next January, and within a few years there could be hundreds of similar devices circling the Earth and sending back down internet signals. Once that is accomplished, countries that largely censor the web — like China and North Korea — would be hard-pressed to restrict internet access without also going into orbit.

“We exist to support the flow of independent news, information, and debate that people need to build free, thriving societies,” MDIF President Peter Whitehead told the National Journal recently. “It enables fuller participation in public life, holds the powerful to account and protects the rights of the individual.”

Read more » rt.com
http://rt.com/usa/outernet-cubesat-free-internet-153/

Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson joins AAP

by Press Trust of India

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) got a shot in the arm when Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, joined the party today.

“The party is vehemently opposed to corruption and this is what I liked in it. There is a disparity between the rich and poor, and this also reflects in poor.

“If a common man joins and also becomes a part of politics then this is a welcoming step,” Gandhi, son of Devidas Gandhi and maternal grandson of C Rajagopalchari said.

The 78-year-old Gandhi, who had contested against former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi from Amethi, has expressed his willingness to contest on a party ticket. The party, too has remained mum over the issue.

“I would like to contest elections, but it is upon the party to decide on this,” Gandhi said, but refused to comment on his preferred constituency.

He added that he was approached by the party, but declined to reveal who he was in touch with from AAP and when was he contacted to join the party.

Courtesy: Indian Express
http://indianexpress.com/article/india/politics/mahatma-gandhis-grandson-joins-aap/#.Uwf4WLbg_sM.facebook

Obama meets Dalai Lama, defies China

by AFP

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama welcomed Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to the White House Friday, defying China, which said the meeting would “seriously impair” ties between the two countries.

The encounter took place in the Map Room on the ground floor of the president’s residence and not the Oval Office, which Obama usually uses to meet foreign leaders and visiting dignitaries.

“The president is currently meeting w/His Holiness the @DalaiLama in his capacity as an internationally respected religious & cultural leader,” the US National Security Council said on Twitter.

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1088564/obama-meets-dalai-lama-defies-china

E6 Electric Car Launched Officially in China – Can Do 300 Miles per Charge

Chinese auto-maker BYD in collaboration with the famous US investor Warren Buffett, has officially released its first all-electric car that will be available to private buyers.

The vehicle’s 75 kW motor gives it a range of nearly 300 km on a single charge in urban conditions. BYD also said on its website that the BYD e6 is equipped with an iron battery that can be fully recharged in about 40 minutes.

The electric car is capable of reaching a top speed of 140 km/h. Unlike ordinary oil-consuming vehicles, the e6 can save its owner about 75 percent of the energy cost.

BYD Auto was founded in 2003, being a part of the rechargeable battery maker,the BYD Co Ltd. Some reports said that in 2010 the sales were estimated at 519,800 units and the production capacity at 700,000 units. In December 2008, Warren Buffet has allocated $230 million to buy a 10 percent stake in BYD.

So the Chinese CAN build a car that’s about the price of a Nissan Leaf and the range of a Tesla Model S. Then why don’t the others follow? Is it some kind of a strategy for we aren’t yet prepared to get in electric cars? Or what?

Courtesy: GreenOptimistic
http://www.greenoptimistic.com/2011/10/27/byd-e6-china-launch/#.UwYw0YXWY2A

Even India treated our soldiers better in 1971- Pervez Rashid

Minister questions Taliban’s Sharia

ISLAMABAD: Lashing out at Pakistani Taliban for slaughtering 23 paramilitary personnel, Information Minister Pervez Rashid on Wednesday questioned whether the militants’ action was in accordance with the Islamic Sharia.

Speaking to media representatives, he criticized the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leadership for the inhuman killing of the captive Frontier Cops (FC) soldiers.

“People favouring enforcement of Sharia should tell what treatment captives deserve according to the Sharia …… and the treatment those (FC men) received was in accordance with the Islamic laws or not,” he questioned.

The minister said that TTP’s central spokesman Shahidullah Shahid should have conveyed their reservations to the negotiating team they formed. “But, they didn’t do it and firstly attacked policemen in Karachi and then killed FC personnel,” he added.

Taking a strong stand against the home grown militants, he said the government also has reservations which the Taliban must address first.

Referring to the 1971’s war against India, Rashid said, “Even our rival country treated our 90,000 war captives in accordance with the Geneva Convention.” “Did they (Indians) behead even a single Pakistani soldier,” he questioned.

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1088101

Bhagat Singh’s house in Pakistan to get Rs 80 mn for restoration

Legendary Indian freedom fighter Bhagat Singh’s ancestral house, school and his village in Punjab Province in Pakistan will be restored for Rs 80 million. “We have allocated Rs 80 million for restoration of the house and school of Indian [Indo-Pak] Independence war hero Bhagat Singh. The amount will also be spent for the upliftment of Singh’s village, where clean drinking water is not available and drainage system is in a bad shape,” Faisalabad District Coordination Officer Noorul Amin Mengal told PTI.

Mengal said that people in Faisalabad “take pride in the fact that Bhagat Singh was the son of their soil” and want the place to be known as “the town of Bhagat Singh”. The celebrated revolutionary was born September 28, 1907 at Bangay village, Jaranwala Tehsil in the Faisalabad (then Lyallpur) district of the Province. Singh’s village, Bangay, some 150 kilometres from Lahore, would also become a tourist attraction for people, especially Indians, once his house is restored by this year end, he added.

“Singh’s village is just 35 kilometres from Nankana Sahib. It could be another point of attraction for the Sikh pilgrims,” he said. The government has also planned to shift Singh’s belongings from Faisalabad Museum and Library to his house, he added.

Read more » The Indian Express
http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/bhagat-singhs-house-in-pakistan-to-get-rs-80-mn-for-restoration/?SocialMedia

USAID’s Sindh Basic Education Programme will provide support for the construction of 120 schools in Sindh

Olson, Qaim launch basic education programme

Karachi: US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard G Olson, joined by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, broke ground in the Korro village of Khairpur on Monday on the first of 120 schools to be built by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as part of its $155 million Sindh Basic Education Programme.

US Consul General Michael Dodman, US Agency for International Development Mission Director Greg Gottlieb, Sindh Senior Minister of Education Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Education Secretary Dr Fazlullah Pechuho and other officials from Sindh’s education department, as well as teachers, students and members of the community, also attended the ceremony.

“We are committed to supporting education in Pakistan, which is the key to a brighter future for Pakistan’s children,” said Ambassador Olson.

Working together, the US and the Sindh government will improve the quality of and access to education for the children of Sindh.”

In the coming five years, USAID’s Sindh Basic Education Programme will provide support for the construction of 120 schools affected by the catastrophic 2010 floods and will support the Sindh government’s policy of consolidating, merging and upgrading schools throughout the province.

According to a statement released by the US consulate general, the programme will develop greater partnerships with local communities to improve school management and increase enrollment for girls, with a goal of improving the reading skills of 750,000 children in target areas of Sindh.

Continue reading USAID’s Sindh Basic Education Programme will provide support for the construction of 120 schools in Sindh

PAKISTAN – Taliban claim killing 23 FC soldiers in custody

by Zahir Shah Sherazi

PESHAWAR: Taliban militants in Mohmand Agency on late Sunday night claimed to have killed 23 FC soldiers who were kidnapped in 2010 from Shongari checkpost in Mohmand Agency.

The Mohmand Agency Taliban chief Umar Khalid Khurrasani, in a letter issued on social media, claimed that they have killed the FC soldiers to avenge what he said was the custodial killing of Taliban fighters in various parts of Pakistan.

The letter, written in Urdu and attributed to Umar Khalid Khurrasani, says that the Taliban had warned against the killings of their activists.

Since the government has allegedly continued with the killings, the Taliban said in the letter that they have avenged the killing of their fighters by executing the 23 FC soldiers.

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1087438/taliban-claim-killing-23-fc-soldiers-in-custody

Petitioning Secretary General of United Nations – Help Preserve Kalash a tribe in Pakistan

Petition by Mohammed Bugi Ansari, Breda, Netherlands

United Nations is celebrating DECADE of Indigenous People from 2004 till 2014-A PETITION TO THE Sec General and all Heads Of States-

Please treat this as an urgent appeal to support the historic Kalash people of North Pakistan. Our aim, with your assistance, is to have the Kalash territory declared as a “World Heritage” site.

The Kalash (or Kalasha) is an ethnic non-Muslim group that exists in the Hindu Kush mountain range located in the Chitral District of North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. Although their numbers were quite significant before the 20th century, they have however, gradually dwindled over the past century. This is very unfortunate and is in large part due to the fact that they have been assimilated by the larger Muslim majority of Pakistan. Today, more than half the Kalash people have been made to convert to Islam thus losing their ethnic and historical originality in the process.

It is, therefore, absolutely vital and imperative to save and protect this ancient culture and, therefore, we implore you to assist us in having the Kalash territory declared as a protected World Heritage site.

Courtesy: Change.org
http://www.change.org/petitions/secretary-general-of-united-nations-help-preserve-kalash-a-tribe-in-pakistan-for-united-nations-protected-site?share_id=HSGYFPAGxA&utm_campaign=autopublish&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition

What’s holding Pakistan together?

By Ayaz Amir

Not Islam – this fiction was exploded in 1971, and continues to be exposed today in Balochistan. Far from being a uniting factor religion, and the uses to which it is being put, is proving to be the biggest divisive factor of all, Pakistanis killing each other in the name of sect and faith – a country created on the basis of religion floundering at the altar of religion, earnest Pakistanis forever engaged in the quest to discover what Allah’s commandments mean and what they do not.

Not democracy – which is proving to be a sham democracy, unable to sow the seeds of peace in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or lessen the anger of the aggrieved Baloch, or prove a boon to Karachi, or have any kind of relevance for the down and out, the economically disadvantaged, who constitute the vast majority of the Pakistani population.

Not a common sense of nationhood – because that is something we have not managed to create, indeed the concept of nationhood never more fractured than it is today, partly because the institutions of statehood have become so dysfunctional, partly because of the march of primitive Islam, as exemplified by the Taliban, which is testing the capacities of the Pakistani state, and leading thoughtful Pakistanis to brood about the country’s future.

Holding Pakistan together, and this is a sad admission, is what pseudo-leftists like myself had trained ourselves to demonise, and with good reason because of its long list of follies: the Pakistan Army. The army we blamed, and rightly so, for many of Pakistan’s problems – East Pakistan, the cult of militarisation, the overweening power of the ISI, the unholy intervention in Afghanistan, ‘jihad’ in Kashmir, creating the god of national security and placing it at the top of the Pakistani pantheon.

But the wheel has come full circle. New realities have emerged, new dangers have arisen. The luxury of adventurism as in Afghanistan or Kashmir has gone. Pakistan is under threat and its survival is at stake and holding the gates is just one force: not Pakistani patriotism, not Pakistani nationalism – weak concepts yet to be given the shape of stone or iron – but the army.

Continue reading What’s holding Pakistan together?

Voice of Baloch Missing Persons’ Long March Arrives in Lahore: warm welcome for Baloch marchers.

Comrade Irfan stood head and shoulders above the entire left in Pakistan. An organic representative of the most advanced and progressive section of the working class, he literally risked his life safeguarding the Baloch. He came in front of a truck to protect the march and escaped because he came under the truck and between its two front wheels. He cared for their every need from Harrapa onwards. He took care of their food and shelter. And finally he organised the most incredible reception that they have received in the entire Punjab.

Lahori workers lifted Comrade Irfan on their shoulders as he spoke passionately against the injustice of the Baloch. Surrounded by red flags he welcomed the Baloch march to Lahore on behalf of the working class movement. The enthusiasm and the energy was a sight for sore eyes to see. In one big gesture, workers brought together people of all communities in the fight against all forms of oppression. Lahori working women draped their Baloch sisters in chadors. People showered petals until the road was red with rose petals. Media surrounded the march and took pictures from every angle. Everyone was disciplined, there was no pushing or shoving. Women were safe in the centre. Workers made a human chain around the march to protect their Baloch brothers & sisters. The Baloch said to us “this was the best reception we have received anywhere in the Punjab. We thought we would not return alive from the Punjab but we did not expect that so many people had so much love for us.”Altogether united people shouted “We want, justice” “Baloch want justice”. There were representatives from the Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party, Bonded Labour Liberation Front, Peoples Democratic Front, National Students Federation, Baloch Students Federation, Shahvar Ali Khan representing musicians, Rise for Pakistan and so many others whose names I cannot remember right now. This was not your caste of usual suspects. This was a real proletarian gathering for the Baloch. And I think that is what made it genuine and wonderful.

The entire left should join us in awarding comrade Irfan with a medal as a “Hero of the Working Class”.

Courtesy: Facebook

Get them or get eliminated

By Marvi Sirmed

Since almost a decade we have been hearing from assorted quarters in religious and political circles that Taliban have been doing what they have been doing because ‘America attacked Afghanistan”. Politicians as tall as Imran Khan, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and various others, have been feeding the nation with this narrative for many years now. It is however, a minor detail that Mr. Khan was hand-in-glove with then dictator General Musharraf in 2001-2002, when he backed ‘America’s attack on Afghanistan’. It is also a minor detail that the ‘attack’ was sanctioned by United Nations to a multinational alliance we know as NATO. Never mind.

But just when I’m writing these lines, I hear that the terrorists and killers (who were recognized as ‘stakeholders’ by the current government supported by ‘all parties’ including Pakistan Army are part of this so-called All Parties Conference) have issued their 15-points Charter of Demands (CoD). The Charter does not even refer to the ‘attack on Afghanistan’. Surprise!

Going by the reports in media, the demands include: 1) Stop drone attacks; 2) Introduce Sharia law in courts; 3) Introduce Islamic system of education in public and private schools; 4) Free Pakistani and foreign Taliban captured in jails; 5) Restoration and remuneration for damage to property during drone attacks; 6) Handover control to local forces; 7) Withdrawal of army from tribal areas, shut down check posts; 8) All criminal allegations held against the Taliban be dropped; 9) Prisoners from both sides be released; 10) Equal rights for poor and rich; 11) Families of drone attack victims be offered jobs; 12) Amnesty for all Taliban commanders wanted by the government; 13) Stop supporting the US on the war on terror, end relations with the US; 14) Replace the democratic system with the Islamic system; 15) End interest based system of banking.

They start with demand to end drone attacks. Why? They certainly have no particular respect for human life considering their glorious track record of playing with the blood of thousands of innocent humans in the name of Sharia. Drones must be proving fatal to their existence. Similar pain for their comrades could be seen in Points 5 and 11 of their Charter whereby they demand restoration & damages for the properties of and jobs for the families of drone victims. Please note the absence of such sensitivity towards the victims of their bombs rocking the cities of Pakistan since last almost a decade. Wouldn’t it sound fair if the government of Pakistan demands damages and blood money for 50,000 Pakistanis killed by these so-called ‘stakeholders’?

The next two demands ask for Islamic system in courts and schools. Although nothing un-Islamic can ever get to both these institutions under the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan (emphasis added).What then, they mean by this? For a clue, let’s go back to the Taliban years in neighboring Afghanistan. Girls were barred from going to schools permanently. A year ago I met one of their apologists, then serving in ISI, who enlightened me about this order of Taliban regime by justifying it on the pretext that no resources were available for girls’ separate schools, hence the measure by Taliban.

If people didn’t want their daughters to be in co-education schools, why did they put them in these schools in first place? If their daughters’ education was more important for them than lack of separate girls’ schools before Taliban came, why did Taliban mess with their personal priorities? Although there are no co-ed schools running in FATA, their Pakistani comrades have been regularly bombing girls’ schools. Seems their Sharia prohibits girls’ education in stark contradiction with Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) teachings.

About Sharia in courts, the lesser said the better. The kind of justice seen under Taliban regime in Afghanistan would put Huns, Tartars and Mongols to shame. Personal choices of women, like work and dress of women and of men, like how much and where to shave unwanted hair from, were most pressing issues for the regime. Barbarism was synonym to justice in those days. Many apologists of those days keep regurgitating the praises for the ‘exemplary peace and rule of law’ under Taliban. Just that most of civilized people won’t agree with their definition of peace and rule of law. Just like absence of guns is not peace, absence of citizens’ rights is not rule of law. Justice was rushed and crushed in the name of ‘speedy trials’ by Fazlullah’s in his previous job at Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi in Swat. He is now CEO of another terror corporate, TTP that regularly engages itself in arson and kidnap to generate funds. High profile kidnappings of the sons of Shaheed Salmaan Taseer, Yousuf Raza Gillani alongside various others are cases in point.

Continue reading Get them or get eliminated

The 1% Should Be Afraid: The New Norm in the Workplace Is Unstable

By Laura Flanders, Truthout | Interview and Video

A new study from Oxfam published just ahead of this year’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, reported that just one percent of the world’s population controls nearly half of the planet’s wealth and 70 percent of the world’s people live in countries where income inequality has been growing in the last 30 years. In the US, the gap between rich and poor has grown faster than in any other developed country. The top one percent has captured 95 percent of all growth since the putative “recovery” of 2009. This is the “new normal.” Is it sustainable?

Barbara Garson is the author of a series of books describing American working lives at historically important turning points. If this is one of those turning points, it’s one in which the one percent have won:

“That the so-called recovery that everyone is bragging about is this,” Garson told GRITtv in a recent interview. “We’ve recovered, we’ve taken your full-time job away and given you a part-time job, and we’ve given the difference to our stockholders.”

The trouble is, this cockeyed situation is not stable, and even the capitalists, maybe especially the capitalists, should be worried.

“There are capitalist solutions, like redistribution, but they’re not doing it. That may be why we have a socialist solution this time,” she concludes. “If seventeen percent of the houses are vacant, we’ll just move into them.”

Garson’s new book is Down the Up Escalator: How the 99% Live. You can watch our conversation at GRITtv.org.

Read more » truth-out.org
http://truth-out.org/news/item/21785-the-one-percent-should-be-afraid-the-new-norm-in-the-workplace-is-unstable

Sufi Sindhis under siege by fanatics Taliban

8 Killed in Attack on Sufi Gathering

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

KARACHI, Pakistan — Gunmen threw grenades at a Sufi Islamic religious gathering on Sunday in the port city of Karachi and then opened fire on the people assembled to offer prayers, killing eight, officials said. Eight others were wounded in the attack, said Aftab Chanur, an official at a hospital where the injured were taken.

The four gunmen, who were on motorcycles, first lobbed grenades at a building where a Sufi cleric was receiving his followers, then raked it with automatic fire, said Javed Odho, a police official.

He said women and children were among the dead and wounded. Pakistan is 95 percent Muslim, and the majority are Sunnis.

Sufism is a mystical branch of Islam. But Sufi shrines and followers have come under attack from Sunni militants who do not consider them to be true Muslims.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack. But suspicion is likely to fall on the Pakistani Taliban or their affiliated sectarian groups, which follow a strict interpretation of Islam that considers many other Muslims, like Sufis or minority Shiites, to be heretics. In recent years, militants have often attacked shrines, which they consider to be sacrilegious.

In January, militants killed six people at the shrine of a Sufi saint in Karachi. After that attack, militants threatened the cleric whose gathering was attacked Sunday, telling him he should close down the house of worship where he receives his followers, Mr. Odho said.

Continue reading Sufi Sindhis under siege by fanatics Taliban

Shrine of Sufi poet set afire in Pakistan

KARACHI: The shrine of Pakistani Sufi poet Mast Twakali, revered across the subcontinent, has been set afire by unknown persons in the restive Balochistan province.

The shrine, visit by hundreds of devotees each day, has been partially damaged in the fire, authorities in Kohlu district said.

Kohlu deputy commissioner Ejaz Haider said some unknown persons had entered the shrine on Saturday and set it afire.

“But because people of the area gathered quickly and put out the fire the shrine was saved but a big portion has been damaged,” Haider said.

Five suspects have been arrested in connection with the case, he added.

Towaq Ali Mast – popularly known as Mast Twakali – was born in 1828. He spread the message of love for the humanity through his poetry.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and other militant groups, which consider going to shrines as un-islamic, have in the past targeted them.

Read more » THE TIMES OF INDIA
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Shrine-of-Sufi-poet-set-afire-in-Pakistan/articleshow/30164949.cms?intenttarget=no

Is Pakistan Going to Become a Taliban State?

Distinguished anchor of Rawal TV, Tahir Aslam Gora, discusses the current negotiations of Government of Pakistan & Taliban, with Arshad Mahmood an astute political commentator in Bilatakalluf (Straight Talk). The language of the talk show is Hindi (urdu).

Courtesy: Rawal Tv » Bilatakalluf with Tahir Gora, Episode 131 »» YouTube

“If the talks succeed, we may see a metamorphosis of the state”

by Alefia T. Hussain

Ayesha Siddiqa, defence analyst, talks about the implications of the on-going talks with TTP 

The News on Sunday (TNS): How does the government’s approach to counter terrorism through talks look like to you — a compromise, a time buying tactic or you expect something substantive to come out of it?

Ayesha Siddiqa (AS): The only substantive thing that may come out of the talks (and, mind you, I am not using substantive positively or negatively) is change in the overall nature of the state. If the talks succeed, we may actually see a metamorphosis of the state from a hybrid-theocracy, which it is at the moment, to a complete theocracy. The Taliban and their allies, including both good and bad militants, want implementation of sharia in Pakistan. Even if there is an agreement on limited implementation in parts of the country, it will eventually trickle down to the rest.

Everything will depend on how far the military and civilian leadership wants to go in accommodating the Taliban demands. Although a more important question would be how comfortable is the leadership in changing the nature of the state. The Taliban may not want to compromise on anything less than implementing sharia — also release of prisoners, which means adding to the militant force that aims at capturing the state.

So, if we have made up our mind to surrender, there is no way anyone will challenge the Taliban. If not, then yes, some form of conflict is inevitable.

Like many people, I’ve also heard an operation is inevitable. But, I’m not sure. Because, how can an operation take place with your backs against the wall. When some generals in GHQ, Rawalpindi, thought the 1986 Indian military exercise Brasstacks was a plan for war, General Hamid Gul and some others disagreed. They argued that India could not launch a war with its back totally exposed and vulnerable. This was with reference to the insurgency in East Punjab back then.

Similarly, how can we think of an operation when we have all kinds of militants sitting in our heartland, in Punjab and Sindh. I’m not just referring to Jamaat ud Dawa (JuD) and Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) but also TTP and Lashkar e Khorasan, allegedly part of al-Qaeda and has men that were once part of JeM. These organisations are thriving in Punjab and Sindh. They even have links with the politicians and military establishment.

So, if we can’t take care of our own backyard, how will we launch an offensive.

I’m not even sure if the military has a plan to abandon the good militants/Taliban. The good Taliban are connected to the bad Taliban by blood, friendship and alignments. You can’t separate the wheat from the chaff. If we want to use some of them after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014, we can’t really be serious about launching a serious operation. Or can we?

Read more » The News
http://tns.thenews.com.pk/talks-succeed-may-actually-see-metamorphosis-state/#.Uvgz17Th3g8

Women power: Where women lead and men follow

By Hafeez Tunio

KARACHI / DADU: People call her Badshah Zaadi (princess). The name seems apt, seeing the respect she commands when solving problems faced by her community. Living in Bagri Muhalla of Dadu district, 65 year old Badshah Zaadi is an unexpected activist.

She has set a precedent by leading mobs, staging sit-ins and blocking off roads against injustice her people go through at the hands of government or local influential people. This bravery and boldness led her to win the councilor’s seat in the 2001 local government elections. She is a leader of sorts in her community, and even the men are led by this strong woman.

Read more » The Express Tribune
http://tribune.com.pk/story/669068/women-power-where-women-lead-and-men-follow/