No more excuses for Taliban violence, Bhutto heir tells Pakistan’s leaders

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, 25, says prime minister and Imran Khan letting down nation by not backing firm military action

By  in Mohenjodaro

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the youthful heir apparent to one of south Asia’s most famous dynasties, has launched a scathing attack on his political opponents who he said must stop “making excuses” for Taliban violence.

The 25-year-old son of the assassinated prime minister Benazir Bhutto said Nawaz Sharif, the country’s current leader, and the opposition politician Imran Khan, were “letting down the people” by not backing firm military action against the Taliban.

“Perhaps they are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome,” Bhutto Zardari said, referring to cases of hostages who sympathise with or even assist their captors. “There is no reason why the national leaders, the so-called leaders, should not speak out against people who are murdering our citizens, murdering our armed forces and claiming responsibility.”

The remarks are likely to further burnish his reputation as both a brash new arrival on Pakistan‘s political scene but also the most outspoken politician in the country on the issue of militancy and extremism.

He does not sit in parliament, but wields significant influence over the Pakistan People’s party (PPP), of which he is “patron in chief”. The party has been led in the past by his grandfather, his mother – who was killed while campaigning in 2007 – and his father, Asif Ali Zardari. Khan and other right-wing politicians have been criticised for handling the Pakistani Taliban with kid gloves, in a so-far unsuccessful bid to lure them into peace talks.

On Saturday the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan ( TTP ), as the country’s deadly coalition of militants is known, signalled its appreciation of Khan’s approach by announcing the movement wanted him to sit on a committee with four extremist clerics known to sympathise with militant aims. The TTP said Khan and the others could represent its interests in peace talks with the government.

Khan brushed off the embarrassing endorsement, saying “the TTP should select their own Taliban representatives for the peace talks”.

Even mass-casualty suicide attacks on civilians have at times elicited only meek condemnations. Many politicians are reluctant even to identify the culprits as the TTP.

Bhutto Zardari said the tactic had been disastrous, emboldening extremists to target civilians, including Malala Yousafzai, the schoolgirl education activist who nearly died in 2012 after being shot in the head by a Taliban assassin. “This is why people like Malala become targets because the politicians, or the so-called leaders of this country, can’t find the courage to speak out when a 16-year-old girl could. If we all speak in one voice, they can’t kill us all,” he said.

The TTP has used a highly effective intimidation campaign against liberal and left-leaning political parties and journalists to silence many of its natural critics. Bhutto Zardari said he could speak out only because of the vast security operation that surrounds him at all times and heavily restricts his travel in Pakistan, where he spends much of his time at his fortress-like family compound in Karachi.

“I have a lot of security – I lost my mother to the Taliban because of a lack of security – and that explains partly why I can be so vocal,” he said. “But so does Imran Khan. Nawaz Sharif is the prime minister of Pakistan, Shahbaz Sharif is the chief minister of Punjab. They all have more security than I do. They have no excuse.”

In the past Khan has said strident rhetoric might endanger the lives of his supporters and party activists. Bhutto Zardari has shown no such caution, even though he hopes thousands of members of the public will be attracted to numerous cultural events he has organised across Sindhin the coming weeks. They are part of a festival he has promoted as a deliberate challenge to extremists and militants he derisively calls “cavemen”.

Read more » The Guardian
See more » http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/02/taliban-violence-excuses-bilawal-bhutto-zardini-pakistan-military-action

Pakistan’s Tolerance of Jihadis Backfires Badly

By 

Pakistanis are still grappling with the tragedy of the Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar that left at least 141 people, most of them children, dead and scores injured. There has been an outpouring of grief internationally, and the Pakistani public is visibly outraged. But the question being widely asked is whether Pakistan’s military and political leaders can transform grief and outrage into a clear policy that would rid the country of its reputation as both a victim of and magnet for terrorists.

Even before this incident, Pakistan had one of the highest casualty rates at the hand of terrorists. About 19,700 civilians and 6,000 security force personnel have been reported killed in terrorism related violence in Pakistan since 2003. But the country refuses to develop a comprehensive approach to fighting or containing the 33-odd terrorist groups believed to be operating on Pakistani soil.

“The question being widely asked is whether Pakistan’s military and political leaders can transform grief and outrage into a clear policy that would rid the country of its reputation as both a victim of and magnet for terrorists.”

The latest attack is the Taliban’s response to the Pakistan army’s military operation against the terrorist safe haven in North Waziristan, part of the tribal region along the border with Afghanistan. Jihadis from all over the world had congregated in the tribal areas to fight as Mujahedeen against the Soviets during the 1980s. After the Soviets left, Pakistan used the militants for its own objectives of expanding Pakistani influence in Afghanistan, leading to the rise of the Taliban.

Read more » Huffington Post
See more » http://www.huffingtonpost.com/husain-haqqani/pakistan-school-attack-jihadis_b_6337112.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

Pakistan mourns after Taliban Peshawar school massacre

The Pakistani city of Peshawar is burying its dead after a Taliban attack at a school killed at least 132 children and nine staff.

New images from the school show the brutality of the attack, with pools of blood on the ground and walls covered in pockmarks from hundreds of bullets.

Mass funerals and prayer vigils for the victims are currently under way.

Gunmen had walked from class to class shooting students in the Pakistani Taliban’s deadliest attack to date.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-30507836?OCID=twitterasia

Our denial killed children in Peshawar

By Farrukh Khan Pitafi

There is no sight uglier than a child’s corpse. I can say this because I have seen one dying before my eyes.

When a child dies, no words can console the grieving hearts of parents. And a cowardly terror attack on a school just snatched over a hundred children from the warm embrace of their parents in Peshawar.

Just try understanding the magnitude, the size of this all. More than a hundred families will now have their child-shaped holes in their lives forever. Parents all over the country will think twice before sending their children to schools again.

The children that survived the ghastly attack will never be the same again; their innocence, their childhood gone. It takes years for trauma victims to recover. Some don’t recover even after that.

The question on every mind is, when the grieving is over, will the nation unite against the spectre of terrorism?

If the past is any guide, the sad answer would be no.

Also read: Militant siege of Peshawar school ends, 141 killed

Pakistan is given a lot of credit for being a resilient nation. I think most of that is down to the state of denial we choose to live in.

There are always a myriad conspiracy theories circulating within our society. For reasons unknown, we choose to believe them.

We find the distant, often most improbable explanations for simple acts of violence plaguing our nation. Our workplaces, public places, government offices, security installations, hospitals, places of worship and now schools all have come under attack.

After every gruesome incident, TTP or one of its uncountable affiliates takes responsibility; often releases video clips with the assailant’s taped speeches before attack, and yet we refuse to believe it. That state of denial, in essence, is the terrorist’s biggest weapon and his ultimate victory.

Sorry rehabilitation facilities

The logical question after a tragedy of this magnitude is about the rehabilitation of those who survive. Of the amputees, the irreparably wounded, and in this case, the innocent minds scarred for a lifetime.

Read more » DAWN
Learn more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1151409

“This terrible tragedy has shaken the conscience of the world” ~ Indian Prime Minister Modi

“This terrible tragedy has shaken the conscience of the world”- Indian PM talked to his Pakistani counterpart and he appeals that schools all over Indian territory will observe 2-minute silence for Pakistan victims- Terrorism is a global phenomenon- A menace who is shattering our societies and killing our children and their hopes and dreams- Entire globe has standup to support us on PESHAWAR TRAGEDY- A visionary leadership has to capitalize this unprecedented international support- Pakistan has to behave like a reliable not hostile neighbor to its neighbouring states- PAK-INDIA peace is essential to kill terrorism in the region- Indian PM MODIs announcement of 2 minutes silence in schools of all over India is a great diplomatic and human gesture- let us play our role and do our part of job to illuminate terror from our land.T

News courtesy: vis Social media (Facebook)

Massacre of the Innocents: Death Comes Again to Peshawar

I saw a pair of big black boots coming towards me, this guy was probably hunting for students hiding beneath the benches.
My body was shivering. I saw death so close and I will never forget the black boots approaching me – I felt as though it was death that was approaching me.
I folded my tie and pushed it into my mouth so that I wouldn’t scream. The man with big boots kept on looking for students and pumping bullets into their bodies. I lay as still as I could and closed my eyes, waiting to get shot again.
When I crawled to the next room, it was horrible. I saw the dead body of our office assistant on fire.
She was sitting on the chair with blood dripping from her body as she burned.
(a surviving student’s account)

Read more » Brown Pundits
See more » http://brownpundits.blogspot.ca/2014/12/massacre-of-innocents-death-comes-again.html

US, Cuba seek to normalize relations

US, Cuba seek to normalize relations after Alan Gross released

By FoxNews.com

The Obama administration is moving to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba, sources told Fox News, after American Alan Gross was released from the communist country Wednesday following five years in prison.

Sources say President Obama plans to announce the opening of a U.S. embassy in Havana and call on Congress to lift the long-standing embargo.

A senior Capitol Hill source said Obama also plans to take several executive actions, including expanding travel opportunities to the island, expanding agricultural products that can be sold, and raising the limit on remittances from $500 to $2,000.

Together, the announcements would mark the most significant shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island in decades. Obama was to announce the policy changes from the White House at noon Wednesday. Cuban leader Raul Castro was expected to speak at the same time.

Read more » Fox News
Learn more » http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/12/17/american-alan-gross-released-from-cuban-prison-official-says/?cmpid=cmty_twitter_fn

PM Narendra Modi speaks to Nawaz Sharif, says Peshawar incident an assault on entire humanity

By:

Narendra Modi tonight spoke to his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif offering his “deepest condolences” on the dastardly terror attack at a school in Peshawar.

Sharing Pakistan’s pain in the wake of the “dastardly” terror attack in a Peshawar school, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tonight spoke to his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif on phone offering “deepest condolences and all assistance” in the hour of grief.

As a mark of solidarity with Pakistan, Modi appealed to all schools in India to observe 2 minutes of silence tomorrow for the “senseless act of unspeakable brutality” in Peshawar, where terrorists attacked a school and 141 massacred people, almost all of them children, terming the incident as an “assault against the entire humanity”.

Modi told Sharif that “this terrible tragedy has shaken the conscience of the world” and “that this moment of shared pain and mourning is also a call for our two countries and all those who believe in humanity to join hands to decisively and comprehensively defeat terrorism so that the children in Pakistan, India and elsewhere do not have to face a future darkened by the lengthening shadow of terrorism.”

Read more » Financial Express
http://www.financialexpress.com/article/miscellaneous/pm-narendra-modi-speaks-to-nawaz-sharif-says-india-stands-firmly-with-pak-in-fight-against-terror-offers-all-support/19961/