‘Huge’ reserves of iron ore discovered in Chiniot

CHINIOT: The government on Wednesday said it has discovered major reserves of iron ore as well as copper, silver and gold in Punjab.

The reserves were found in Chiniot city, around 160 kilometres (around 100 miles) northwest of Lahore, by Chinese group the Metallurgical Cooperation of China.

A senior provincial administrative official told AFP that initial estimates indicated 500 million tons of iron ore – a primary ingredient in steelmaking – had been discovered.

He said the Chinese company has expressed interest in setting up a steel mill on the site, adding that the extracted iron had been tested in Swiss and Canadian laboratories, which found 60-65 percent of it to be high grade.

The official added that silver, copper and gold samples would also be sent for testing soon.

Read more » Geo Tv News
See more » http://www.geo.tv/article-174802-Huge-reserves-of-iron-ore-discovered-in-Chiniot

 

Catching the dragon

IN RECENT weeks, economists at the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and Goldman Sachs, a bank, have tentatively suggested that within a year or two, India’s economy might be growing more quickly than China’s. The day came sooner than they had imagined. Official statistics published on February 9th revealed that India’s GDP rose by 7.5% in 2014, a shade faster than China’s economy managed over the same period (see chart). Narendra Modi, India’s publicity-savvy prime minister, could scarcely have hoped for a better endorsement of his first few months in office.

Read more » The Economist
See more » http://www.economist.com/news/business-and-finance/21642656-indias-economy-grew-faster-chinas-end-2014-catching-dragon?fsrc=scn/tw/te/bl/catchingthedragon

Robots rising: Automated workforce rapidly gaining on humans, will push labor costs down – report

Robots will become cheaper and more efficient in the coming years, replacing human workers at a faster clip than expected while driving labor costs down by 16 percent, according to a new report.

The number of industrial robots will jump by 10 percent a year in the world’s top 25 export nations through 2025, according to the Boston Consulting Group’s report, The Shifting Economics of Global Manufacturing.” The current growth rate is about 2 or 3 percent per year.

The abundance of robotic workers will slash labor costs by 22 percent in the United States, 33 percent in South Korea, and 25 percent in Japan.

Read more » http://rt.com/usa/231079-robots-work-humans-labor/

‘Contingency plan’ needed for Greek eurozone exit – British govt

The UK is preparing for a possible Greek exit from the eurozone by taking measures to ensure British banks and companies are not exposed to risk.

Prime Minister David Cameron discussed plans to prepare the UK for a Greek exit from the eurozone with senior Treasury and Bank of England officials at a meeting on Monday.

They debated the possible impact an exit would have on markets and considered potential contingencies for the British businesses thought to be exposed to financial risk.

The meeting follows comments by the former chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, who told the BBC: “I believe [Greece] will eventually leave.”

Read more » http://rt.com/uk/230603-uk-begins-preparations-grexit/

Payback time? Greek PM seeks reparations over Nazi occupation & war-time loan

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, referring to Nazi Germany’s four-year occupation of Greece and a forced war-time loan during World War II that saddled the Greek economy in huge debt, wants Berlin to pay reparations.

Tsipras, leader of the anti-austerity Syriza party, said Athens had a “historical obligation” to claim from Germany billions of euros in reparations for the physical and financial destruction committed during Nazi Germany’s occupation of Greece.

Beyond the historical obligation, he said Greece had “a moral obligation to our people, to history, to all European peoples who fought and gave their blood against Nazism,” he said in a keynote address to parliament on Sunday.

READ MORE: Euro hits 11yr low after ‘anti-austerity’ Syriza election win

The Greek leader’s comments have resonated far beyond Athens as they place the issue of his country’s recent massive bailout at the behest of international creditors in a whole new light.

After Nazi forces took control of Greece in 1941, the stage was set for one of the bloodiest confrontations of World War II as Greek resistance fighters put up a fierce struggle to end the occupation.They were powerless, however, to prevent the Third Reich from extracting an interest-free 476 million Reichsmarks loan from the Greek central bank, which devastated the Greek economy.

A 2012 report by the Bundestag, Germany’s lower house of parliament, estimated the value of the loan at US$8.25 billion. Greece, however, puts the value of the loan at €11 billion, the To Vima newspaper reported in January, citing confidential financial documents.

Tsipras claims Germany owes Greece around €162 billion ($183 billion) – about half the country’s debt load, which is estimated at over €315 billion.

The figure is said to cover €108 billion for infrastructure damage wrought by the occupying Nazi forces between 1941 and the end of the war, and €54 billion as compensation for the unpaid loan.

Read more » http://rt.com/news/230479-greece-tsipras-germany-nazi/

New Era in Russia-Pakistan Relations?

By Sudha Ramachandran

A military cooperation agreement that Russia and Pakistan signed during Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu’s recent visit to Islamabad marks an important shift in relations between those two countries. After a long history of bilateral turbulence, Russia and Pakistan appear to have initiated a new era of cooperation that is likely to be closely watched in New Delhi and Washington.

Read more » The Diplomat
Learn more » http://thediplomat.com/2014/12/new-era-in-russia-pakistan-relations/

Islamic radicalisation in UK frightening: Prince Charles

By PTI

London: Britain’s Prince Charles has described as “frightening” the growing radicalisation of British Muslim youth who have been joining the Islamic State extremists in Syria and Iraq, partly due to “crazy stuff” available on the internet.

The heir to Britain’s throne said the radicalisation was “one of the greatest worries” that could not be swept “under the carpet” but expressed his hope to build bridges between different faiths in an interview to the BBC broadcast today.

Asked about the radicalisation of young people in the UK, Prince Charles said: “Well, of course, this is one of the greatest worries, I think, and the extent to which this is happening is the alarming part. And particularly in a country like ours, where you know the values we hold dear.

“You think that the people who have come here, (are) born here, go to school here, would imbibe those values and outlooks.

“The frightening part is that people can be so radicalised either through contact with somebody else or through the internet, and the extraordinary amount of crazy stuff which is on the internet,” he said.

Read more » Hindustan Times
See more » http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/islamic-radicalisation-in-uk-frightening-prince-charles/article1-1314896.aspx

Crazy talk

By Cyril Almeida

THEY call it a sequential approach. Let the good crazies run around and do the things they like while the boys go after the bad crazies first. Then, once all the bad crazies have been dispatched, it’ll be time to figure out what to do with the good crazies.

Sounds crazy, right? Think of it as a statist version of leaving for tomorrow what can be done today. Hence all those K-Day protests.

There is another possibility though: when you can’t say no, you say maybe. Essentially, the sequential approach is the polite way of telling the world what it wants to hear while merrily getting on with business as usual.

Too sceptical? Forget the history, forget the circumstantial stuff, set everything aside. And reverse the question. Instead of looking for reasons why things have changed or will change, ask why they should change in the first place. Or, to put it bluntly, why change a winning strategy?

We do know that at least three things have changed: Fata is on fire and 200,000 troops are fire-fighting; militancy across the Durand Line has become bi-directional; and the extremist mosque-madressah-social welfare network has exploded across Pakistan.

Much of that is clearly bad, whatever the strategy. But could that just be an acceptable price to pay for a winning strategy, the inevitable downside to a very big upside?

And, in the case of the extremist mosque-madressah-social welfare network, could that in fact be a necessary tool in a winning strategy, an inflammable substance to be handled with care rather than a toxic one to be buried deep underground?

Between the everything’s-changed and nothing’s-changed schools of thought, there is nestled the hawks’ perspective: at home, stuff has changed; outside, stuff is on track.

Start with India. If there’s one thing India doesn’t have an answer to it’s Pakistan-based, anti-India militancy. Nukes they can design. Missiles they can build. Planes they can buy. Submarines, guns and soldiers too. But they don’t quite know what to do about militancy. Which isn’t surprising. Because there’s not much anyone can do against the jihad complex that Pakistan has built.

Continue reading Crazy talk

Tens of thousands of Muslims flee Christian militias in Central African Republic

By Sudarsan Raghavan

Tens of thousands of Muslims are fleeing to neighboring countries by plane and truck as Christian militias stage brutal attacks, shattering the social fabric of this war-ravaged nation.

In towns and villages as well as here in the capital, Christian vigilantes wielding machetes have killed scores of Muslims, who are a minority here, and burned and looted their houses and mosques in recent days, according to witnesses, aid agencies and peacekeepers. Tens of thousands of Muslims have fled their homes.

The cycle of chaos is fast becoming one of the worst outbreaks of violence along Muslim-Christian fault lines in recent memory in sub-Saharan Africa, tensions that have also plagued countries such as Nigeria and Sudan.

The brutalities began to escalate when the country’s first Muslim leader,Michel Djotodia, stepped down and went into exile last month. Djotodia, who had seized power in a coup last March, had been under pressure from regional leaders to resign. His departure was meant to bring stability to this poor country, but humanitarian and human rights workers say there is more violence now than at any time since the coup.

“Civilians remain in constant fear for their lives and have been largely left to fend for themselves,” Martine Flokstra, emergency coordinator for the aid agency Doctors Without Borders, said in a statement Friday, adding that the violence had reached “extreme and unprecedented” levels.

On Friday, thousands of Muslims hopped aboard trucks packed with their possessions, protected by soldiers from Chad, and drove out of Bangui, as Christians cheered their departures or tried to loot the trucks as they drove through Christian areas. At least one Muslim man, who fell from a truck, was killed by a mob. Meanwhile, thousands more Muslims huddled at the airport in a crowded hangar, waiting to be evacuated.

“They are killing Muslims with knives,” said Muhammed Salih Yahya, 38, a shopkeeper, making a slitting motion across his throat. He arrived at the airport Wednesday from the western town of Yaloke with his wife and five children. “I built my house over two years, but the Christians destroyed it in minutes. I want to leave.”

Christians have also been victims of violence, targeted by Muslims in this complex communal conflict that U.N. and humanitarian officials fear could implode into genocide. Several hundred thousand Christians remain in crowded, squalid camps, unable or too afraid to return home.

Read more » The Washington Post
Learn more » http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/tens-of-thousands-of-muslims-flee-christian-militias-in-central-african-republic/2014/02/07/5a1adbb2-9032-11e3-84e1-27626c5ef5fb_story.html

US says can’t confirm if Pakistan banned JuD, Haqqani Network

ISLAMABAD – In a recent development, the National Counterterrorism Authority (Nacta) has removed the list of proscribed organisations from its official website, which is being seen as an attempt to add more confusion to the ongoing debate whether Haqqani Network and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) have been banned or not.

Under the National Action Plan (NAP) on Counterterrorism, the government has declared Nacta a focal point to coordinate all efforts to end terrorism in the country.
Some two weeks back at least till January 10, Nacta’s official website had an updated list of proscribed organisations, but now this has been removed on the directions of the high-ups of the Ministry of Interior, sources privy to the development revealed.

Amid some media reports in this regard, the US State Department, in its recent statement, said that it did not have confirmation from Pakistan about banning the Haqqani Network or JuD.

On the Nacta’s website, National Internal Security Policy (NISP) which was announced last year by the incumbent government with great pomp and show has been uploaded that also contains list of proscribed organisations.
There is main link of NISP at the home page of Nacta’s website and a sub-link of the list of proscribed organisations under this main link.
“The Nacta officials have delinked the list of proscribed organisations under the pressure of the bosses of the Ministry of Interior,” official sources confirmed.

The Nacta did this when some sections of the media started reporting that the government had decided to ban JuD, a charity organisation run by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, and a militant organisation, Haqqani Network.
The move is significant ahead of President Obama’s visit to India starting from next Sunday as the US had been asking Pakistan to ban both the organisations as these were responsible for terrorist activities in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.

According to Nacta’s ‘List of Proscribed Organisations’ that now has been removed from the official website, there are 62 proscribed organisations in the country and 10 are facing financial sanctions due to the ban imposed by UNSC’s Sanctions Committee in 2008 through a UN resolution.

The Supreme Court, the other day, also suggested to the government to make public the list of banned organisations in the interest of public.

Interior Additional Secretary Muhammad Asghar Chaudhry on January 20 told Senate Standing Committee on Interior that JuD and Haqqani Network had not been banned.
Prior to this, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, in its last press conference, had avoided to answer a question about the ban on JuD and Haqqani Network.
The Foreign Office, the other day, added more confusion to the ongoing debate as it gave a vague answer while replying to a question about banning JuD and Haqqani Network.
The Foreign Office, in its reply, focused more on the procedural matters rather than replying to the specific question.

According to the NAP Implementation Progress Report of the Ministry of Interior, a comprehensive analysis/assessment review is underway to identify how many of the proscribed organisations are active, working under other names and/or more importantly how many of them have an armed wing, operating inside or outside the country.

Special correspondent adds from Washington: The United States backs Pakistan’s commitment to taking steps without discrimination against the terrorist groups operating on its soil, but it has no confirmation about the banning of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Haqqani Network, a State Department spokesperson said Friday.

“We recognise that Pakistan is working through the process of implementing measures to thwart violent extremism, including the National Action Plan.
We don’t have any confirmation of specific steps,” State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters in Washington when asked about the reported ban on the two militant outfits.

Psaki noted that Islamabad has made clear in statements that it is in Pakistan’s own interest to take steps against all militant groups and explicitly not to differentiate between such groups.
“We support this commitment and believe it is essential to address terrorism and stop recurrence of the attacks like that on the Peshawar schoolchildren,” she remarked during a conference call.

Read more » The Nation
See more » http://nation.com.pk/editors-picks/24-Jan-2015/nacta-removes-list-of-banned-outfits-from-website

`Modi may use military option if terror attack traced to Pakistan’

By PTI

“Every Indian Prime Minister since the attack on the Parliament in Delhi now heading on 15 years ago has looked seriously at a military response when these incidents occur and has stepped back. But I believe that sentiment inside India has changed substantially and I think this Prime Minister is unlikely to step back,” former US Ambassador to India Robert Blackwill said.

“If there is a major terrorist attack whose breadcrumbs lead to Pakistan and the Pakistan military and ISI, I think that this Prime Minister is likely to use military force against Pakistan territory. It’s not a certainty,” Blackwill told reporters during a conference call organised by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a top American think-tank.

Read more » The Hindu
Learn more » http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/modi-may-use-military-option-if-terror-attack-traced-to-pakistan/article6864786.ece

Yemen’s Houthi rebels take over government in coup

Rebels announce five-member presidential council tasked with forming technocrat government and dissolve parliament.

Yemen’s Shia Houthi rebels have announced that they have dissolved parliament and installed a five-member “presidential council” which will form a transitional government to govern for two years.

In a televised statement on Friday from the Republican Palace in the capital, Sanaa, the rebel group said that it would set up a transitional national council of 551 members to replace the dissolved legislature.

Read more » Aljazeera
Learn more » http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2015/02/yemen-houthi-rebels-announce-presidential-council-150206122736448.html

Karachi: Baldia factory fire was a terrorist attack, probe reveals

KARACHI: A joint investigation report submitted in Sindh High Court by Rangers on Friday during the hearing of Baldia Town incident revealed that it wasn’t an accident but the factory was intentionally set on fire by a gang of miscreants, ARY News reported.

During the hearing, it was informed to court that a gang was involved in the Baldia Town fire incident occurred on September 11, 2012 in which more than 250 factory workers were died.
It was mentioned in the report that Rangers have arrested the chief suspect of the heinous crime, who has already confessed about setting the factory on fire with other gang members. The report has termed the incident a terrorist attack adding that the confession statement of the suspect was ignored in the police investigation.
Sindh High Court bench issued orders to complete the trial of Baldia Town factory fire incident within one year and cautioned that no negligence in this regard will be tolerated.
A report submitted by Worker Welfare Board in the court said that the compensation cheques have been distributed among 662 workers out of total 800 victims of the Baldia factory fire.
The court issued orders for payment of compensation to remaining 138 victims of the incident and submit the compliance report to the court within a week.

News courtesy: ARY News
Read more » http://arynews.tv/en/gang-involved-behind-baldia-factory-fire-reveal-rangers/
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Learn more » Dawn »» Rangers’ report blames MQM for Baldia factory fire -By Tahir Siddiqui
http://epaper.dawn.com/DetailNews.php?StoryText=07_02_2015_003_005

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Video courtesy: DailyMotion via ZemTV
Learn more » http://www.zemtv.com/2015/02/07/listen-what-afaq-ahmed-predicted-before-baldia-town-incident/

Shias of Shikarpur: slaughtered by apathy

By Muhammad Taqi

The ASWJ leaders’ non-stop hate speeches and incitement to violence provide the breeding milieu and recruitment grounds for bombers like the one who carried out the Shikarpur massacre

The bombing at the Shikarpur, Sindh imambargah (mosque/worship place) may have been carried out by the terrorist group Jundullah but over 60 Shia who perished there were actually slaughtered by collective national apathy. While the Shias were picking up the bits and pieces of what remained of their loved ones after Jundullah’s bomb ripped through the imambargah, the Prime Minister (PM) of Pakistan, Mr Nawaz Sharif, was literally joking about his lunch being subpar at the Karachi Stock Exchange ceremony. The PM did not say one word of sympathy for the Shias of Shikarpur at the time. At the same time the self-exiled leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Mr Altaf Hussain, was live on assorted television channels along with his lieutenant Mr Ishratul Ibad, the governor of Sindh, and the business tycoon Mr Malik Riaz. None, including Mr Hussain, who is known for his long-winded speeches, bothered to utter even a single line about the tragedy that shell-shocked Shia were going through right at that moment. The chief of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), Mr Imran Khan, fared better at his press conference, which was also being televised live then and spent about three out of 20 minutes offering commemorative prayers for the fallen Shia and condemning the attack. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) that has been ruling Sindh since 2008 took the cake, however, for callous pettiness: it suspended the area’s police Station House Officer (SHO)!

Read more » Daily Times
Learn more » http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/05-Feb-2015/shias-of-shikarpur-slaughtered-by-apathy

Islamic State executes three of its Chinese militants: China paper

By Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) – The Islamic State has killed three Chinese militants who joined its ranks in Syria and Iraq and later attempted to flee, a Chinese state-run newspaper said, the latest account of fighters from China embroiled in the Middle East conflict.

China has expressed concern about the rise of the Islamic State, nervous about the effect it could have on its Xinjiang region, which borders Pakistan and Afghanistan.

But Beijing has also shown no sign of wanting to take part in the U.S.-led coalition’s efforts to use military force against the militant group.

Around 300 Chinese extremists were fighting with the Islamic State after traveling to Turkey, the Global Times, a tabloid run by China’s ruling Communist Party’s official newspaper, said in December.

The paper on Thursday cited an unnamed Kurdish security official as saying that a Chinese man was “arrested, tried and shot dead” in Syria in late September by the Islamic State after he became disillusioned with jihad and attempted to return to Turkey to attend university.

“Another two Chinese militants were beheaded in late December in Iraq, along with 11 others from six countries. The Islamic State charged them with treason and accused them of trying to escape,” the official said, according to the paper.

Islamic State, which has seized parts of northern and eastern Syria as well as northern and western Iraq, has killed hundreds off the battlefield since the end of June, when it declared a caliphate.

Chinese officials blame separatists from the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) for carrying out attacks in Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur people. But they are vague about how many people from China are fighting in the Middle East.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei did not comment on the report at a regular press briefing, but said China was opposed to “all forms of terrorism”.

“China is willing to work with the international community to combat terrorist forces, including ETIM, and safeguard global peace, security and stability,” Hong said.

Human rights advocates say economic marginalization of Uighurs and curbs on their culture and religion are the main causes of ethnic violence in Xinjiang and around China that has killed hundreds of people in recent years. China denies these assertions.

China has criticized the Turkish government for offering shelter to Uighur refugees who have fled through southeast Asia, saying it creates a global security risk.

(Reporting by Michael Martina and Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Courtesy: Reuters
Read more » http://news.yahoo.com/islamic-state-executes-three-chinese-militants-china-paper-083953180.html?soc_src=mediacontentstory&soc_trk=tw

Hafiz Saeed urges India to ‘leave Kashmir’

LAHORE: Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed urged India to “leave Kashmir” while addressing a rally in Lahore to mark Kashmir Solidarity Day on Tuesday.

“No one could defeat the Muslims… If America had to run away, then India, you will have to leave Kashmir as well,” said Saeed amid chants of ‘al-jihad, al-jihad’.

Read more » The Express Tribune
See more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/502947/hafiz-saeed-urges-india-to-leave-kashmir/

Civil society protesters, led by Jibran Nasir, ‘arrested’ during Karachi sit-in

KARACHI: Jibran Nasir and members of the civil society weer reportedly arrested after resuming the Shikarpur sit-in  outside the CM house in Karachi, pressing the government to take swift action against Ahl-e-Sunnat-wal Jamaat’s (ASWJ) solidarity rally on Kashmir Day.

At the Kashmir Day rally, ASWJ allegedly threatened members of the civil society as well as the Sindh government for unnecessarily terming them a banned organisation.

https://soundcloud.com/moh…/aswj-threatening-civil-society

The civil society’s 31-hour-long protest outside the CM house, from earlier this week, came to an end Tuesday night, after Special Assistant to the Chief Minister on Culture Sharmila Farooqi promised that the provincial government will take stern action against “banned” militant organisations, including ASWJ.

No official notification, however, has been taken out by the home department to outlaw ASWJ.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, “The charter of demands we came with initially has failed. But this time, we won’t stop. We will continue our sit-in till justice is served,” Nasir said.

“We’ll do a hunger strike if we have to. Allowing ASWJ, or any other outfit that insights violence, to carry out political activities openly, is a violation of the law,” he added.

Read more » The Express Tribune
Learn more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/833400/civil-society-protesters-led-by-jibran-nasir-arrested-during-sit-in-outside-cm-house/#.VNOCf7JOr_E.facebook

‘China, Russia back India on UN terror resolution targeting Pakistan’

NEW DELHI: China and Russia decided on Monday to back the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) — a resolution supported by India and heavily biased against Pakistan.

At a meeting of Russia-India-China (RIC) in Beijing, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said her counterparts from the two countries understood the need for endorsing the resolution that has been pending at the UN for nearly two decades and seeks to widen the existing definition of terrorism.

The CCIT was proposed by India in 1996 in lieu of Pakistan allegedly backing Kashmiri separatists.

In Tuesday’s meeting, the RIC communiqué vouched to oppose terrorism of all forms and called all countries to join efforts in combating terrorism together with the United Nations.

Speaking at a press conference after the RIC meeting, Swaraj told reporters: “Our discussions on terrorism brought consensus on two issues. Firstly, there can be no ideological, religious, political, racial or any other justification for the acts of terrorism and secondly the need to bring to justice perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these acts of terror.”

Swaraj added that the ministers emphasized the need to step up information gathering and sharing and prevent the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICTs) for the purposes of recruitment and incitement to commit terrorist acts.

News courtesy » The Express Tribune
Read more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/832183/china-russia-back-india-on-un-terror-resolution-targeting-pakistan/

Pakistani diplomat expelled from Dhaka

By Mateen Haider

ISLAMABAD: In a fresh diplomatic row between Pakistan and Bangladesh, a Pakistani High Commission official based in Dhaka was declared persona non grata by the Bangladeshi government and was asked to leave the country.

“Diplomatic official Mazhar Khan was charged by Bangladesh’s foreign ministry of running an illegal Indian currency business in Dhaka beside alleged links with militants,” a diplomatic source told Dawn.com.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasneem Aslam also confirmed the incident and said the official has reached Islamabad.

Read more » DAWN
Learn more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1161488

ISIS burns alive Jordanian pilot it kept hostage – reports

The Islamic State has released a video, purportedly showing Moath al-Kasasbeh, the Jordanian pilot captured in December, being burned alive. The Jordanian government had pleaded with IS to release the hostage in exchange for a captured terrorist.

A member of al-Kasasbeh’s family has been informed by the head of the Jordanian armed forces that he has been killed, Reuters reported. According to national television, Jordan now believes he was executed as far back as January 3, exactly one month ago, though the government has refused to directly confirm the news to Western news agencies.

The video itself, which was posted on social media, but is not being shared by RT for ethical reasons, appears to have been a carefully staged production, shot from several angles, and sound tracked with religious hymns. It shows al-Kasasbeh being led out into a square in front of a squadron of masked men, before being placed in a cage. A rope lying outside the cage is then lit up, and the hostage is engulfed in flames. The execution is in contrast with the customary beheadings, practiced by the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).

Read more » RT
See more » http://rt.com/news/229007-isis-burns-jordan-pilot/

India PM Narendra Modi to visit China in May

PM Modi
PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit China in May, Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has announced during a three-day visit to Beijing.

China is one of India’s top trading partners but they vie for regional influence and dispute their border.

The announcement comes after US President Barack Obama’s landmark visit to India last week.

India and the US share an interest in curbing China’s growing regional influence.

During Mr Obama’s landmark visit he and Mr Modi signed the “Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region” pledging to work together to keep freedom of navigation, maritime security and air space safe, especially in the South China Sea.

Correspondents say it was the first time India and the US had come together openly to say that they do not want Asia to be dominated by one power.

“Mr Modi is going to come in May. I will give them dates today. This is a preparatory visit,” Ms Swaraj told reporters in Beijing, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to take Mr Modi to his home province of Shaanxi, reports say.

Mr Xi visited India in September. The two sides signed 12 agreements during his visit.

Read more » BBC
Learn more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-31087807

Sindh is under attack. The land of Shah Latif bleeds again. Can Sufism save Sindh?

sufi_sachalBy Suleman Akhtar

The seven queens of Shah Latif’s Shah Jo Risalo – Marui, Sassui, Noori, Sorath, Lilan, Sohni, and Momal – have put on black cloaks and they mourn. The troubles and tribulations are not new for the queens.

After the sack of Delhi, Nadir Shah (Shah of Iran), invaded Sindh and imprisoned the then Sindhi ruler Noor Mohammad Kalhoro in Umarkot fort. Shah Latif captured it in the yearning of Marui for her beloved land when she was locked up in the same Umarkot fort.

If looking to my native land
with longing I expire;
My body carry home, that I
may rest in desert-stand;
My bones if Malir reach, at end,
though dead, I’ll live again.

(Sur Marui, XXVIII, Shah Jo Risalo)

The attack on the central Imambargah in Shikarpur is as ominous in many ways as it is horrendous and tragic.

The Sufi ethos of Sindh has long been cherished as the panacea for burgeoning extremism in Pakistan. Sufism has been projected lately as an effective alternative to rising fundamentalism in Muslim societies not only by the Pakistani liberal intelligentsia but also by some Western think-tanks and NGOs.

But the question is, how effective as an ideology can Sufism be in its role in contemporary societies?

To begin with, Sufism is not a monolithic ideology.

There are several strains within Sufism that are in total opposition to each other, thus culminating into totally opposite worldviews. The most important of them is chasm between Wahdat al-Wajud(unity of existence) and Wahdat al-Shahud (unity of phenomenon).

The former professes that there is only One real being not separated from His creation, and thus God runs through everything. While Wahdat al-Shahud holds that God is separated from His creation.

Take a look: Shikarpur blast: SHO suspended, investigation underway

While the distinction between the two might seem purely polemical, it actually leads to two entirely opposite logical conclusions.

Wahdat al-Wajud sees God running through everything. Thus apparent differences between different religions and school of thoughts vanish at once. In diversity, there lies a unity thus paving way to acceptance of any creed, irrespective of its religious foundations.

Ibn al-Arbi was the first to lay the theoretical foundations of Wahdat al-Wajud and introduce it to the Muslim world.

On the other hand, the Wahdat al-Shahud school of thought was developed and propagated by Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi, who rose to counter the secular excesses of Akbar. He pronounced Ibn al-Arbi as Kafir and went on deconstructing what he deemed as heresies.

Wahdat al-Shahud in its sociopolitical context leads to separation and confrontation. The staunch anti-Hindu and anti-Shia views of Ahmed Sirhindi are just a logical consequence of this school of thought. Ahmed Sirhindi is one of the few Sufis mentioned in Pakistani textbooks.

Historically, Sufis in today’s Pakistan have belonged to four Sufi orders: Qadriah, Chishtiah, Suharwardiah, and Naqshbandiah.

It is also interesting to note that not all of these Sufi orders have been historically anti-establishment.

While Sufis who belonged to the Chishtiah and Qadriah orders always kept a distance from emperors in Delhi and kept voicing for the people, the Suharwardia order has always been close to the power centres. Bahauddin Zikria of the Suharwardiah order enjoyed close relations with the Darbar and after that leaders of this order have always sided with the ruler (either Mughals or British) against the will of the people.

Explore: Old Sufis, new challenges

Sufism in the subcontinent in general and Sindh in particular, emerged and evolved as a formidable opposition to the King and Mullah/Pundit nexus. Not only did it give voice to the voiceless victims of religious fanaticism, but also challenged the established political order.

To quote Marx it was ‘the soul of soulless conditions’.

A case-in-point is Shah Inayat of Jhok Sharif, who led a popular peasant revolt in Sindh and was executed afterwards. Shah Latif wrote a nameless eulogy of Shah Inayat in Shah Jo Risalo.

Continue reading Sindh is under attack. The land of Shah Latif bleeds again. Can Sufism save Sindh?

Technology And the Threat of a Jobless Future

The Typical Millennial Is $2,000 Poorer Than His Parents at This Age

More young people are living in poverty and fewer have jobs compared their parents’ generation, the Baby Boomers, in 1980

By 

The past is another country. In 1980, the typical young worker in Detroit or Flint, Michigan, earned more than his counterpart in San Francisco or San Jose. The states with the highest median income were Michigan, Wyoming, and Alaska. Nearly 80 percent of the Boomer generation, which at the time was between 18 and 35, was white, compared to 57 percent today.

Three decades later, in 2013, the picture of young people—yes, Millennials—is a violently shaken kaleidoscope, and not all the pieces are falling into a better place. Michigan’s median income for under-35 workers has fallen by 26 percent, more than any state. In fact, beyond the east coast, earnings for young workers fell in every state but Hawaii and South Dakota.

Read more » The Atlantic
Learn more » http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/01/young-adults-poorer-less-employed-and-more-diverse-than-their-parents/385029/

Pakistan successfully test-fires new stealth cruise missile

Pakistan on Monday successfully test-fired a new indigenously developed cruise missile capable of delivering nuclear and conventional warheads up to 350 kilometre, bringing many Indian cities under its range.

The Ra’ad missile enables Pakistan to achieve “strategic standoff capability” on land and at sea, as it uses extremely complex ‘Cruise Technology’ that has been developed by only a few countries in the world, Pakistan army said.

The state of the art Ra’ad cruise missile with stealth capabilities is a low altitude, terrain hugging missile with high maneuverability and can deliver nuclear and conventional warheads with pinpoint accuracy,” army said.

Director General Strategic Plans Division, Lieutenant General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, while congratulating the scientists and engineers on achieving yet another milestone of

historic significance, termed it a major step towards strengthening Pakistan’s full spectrum credible minimum deterrence capability.

“Pakistan’s strategic pursuits are aimed at achieving strategic stability in the region,” it said.

He appreciated the technical prowess, dedication and commitment of scientists who contributed whole heartedly to make this launch a success.

He showed his full confidence over operational preparedness of Strategic Forces including employment and deployment concepts, refinement and training of all ranks in operational and technical domains.

The successful launch has been commended by President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. They also congratulated the scientists and engineers for their outstanding achievement.

Courtesy: Rediff
Read more » http://www.rediff.com/news/report/defence-news-pakistan-successfully-test-fires-new-stealth-cruise-missile/20150202.htm

 

Is Pakistan Really Cracking Down on Terrorism?

BY

Many have called it a game-changer. On December 16, gunmen loyal to the Pakistani Taliban attacked a military school in Peshawar, killing 148 people. Most of the victims were children, and many were killed as they hid under the desks. The violence was so gruesome it seemed to rattle the country like never before. Quickly, the Pakistani government rushed to assure people it had the situation under control. In the aftermath of the attack, the government set up special military tribunals in which to try suspected terrorists, and the penalties are expected to be harsh. Meanwhile, the army reportedly broadened its crackdown in the federally administered tribal areas, in hopes of thwarting terrorism. “There will be no differentiation between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said. As Matthew Green wrote in Newsweek, Sharif’s words were “a rare public acknowledgement of Pakistan’s murky record on state sponsorship of extremist proxies.” But more than a month after the massacre in Peshawar, has anything really changed? To explore that question, I chatted with Christine Fair, a professor of South Asian political and military affairs at Georgetown and the author of Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War (Oxford University Press, 2014).

Was the school shooting a turning point for Pakistan?

It absolutely was not. The army has said very clearly that they’re hoping these [tribunals] are going to give Pakistanis confidence that the military has the situation under control, but they don’t have anything under control

Who are the “bad militants” in Pakistan?

For the most part, almost all of the so-called bad militants have their origins in groups that the state has long sponsored, aided, abetted, trained and in some cases even developed from the grassroots, either to fight in India or in Afghanistan. So there would be no Pakistan Taliban if there had not been this flotilla of militant groups that the state developed.

The groups targeting the state follow the Deobandi interpretative tradition of Islam. This is important because this means that they share a significant common organizational infrastructure. For example, they rely on mosques and madrassas that adhere to the Deobandi tradition of Islam. When 9/11 happened and Pakistan was forced to work with the Americans, these Deobandi groups were furious. Many of these groups came to know Al-Qaeda through their association with the Taliban in Afghanistan. [The Afghan Taliban emerged from Deobandi madrassas in Pakistan.] And these Deobandi groups were furious that the Pakistani state was aiding the overthrow, not only of the Taliban government, but the only government in the world that was exercising a Deobandi version of Sharia [Islamic law]. After 9/11…[some] of these Deobandi groups began fracturing and disobeying the [Pakistani] state. That’s when the insurgency began. Over time these Deobandi organizations began calling themselves the Pakistani Taliban.

Who are the “good militants”?

The “good militants” are, of course, the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network, which continue to be loyal to the Pakistani state. And elements of the Pakistani Taliban that refuse to kill Pakistanis. All of those groups kill in Afghanistan on behalf of Pakistan’s interests. The other “good militant group” is Deobandi is Jaish-e-Mohammed, which was raised to kill Indians in Kashmir and beyond. Over the past year or so, Pakistan has been trying to resurrect Jaish with the aim of luring away some members of the Pakistani Taliban into Jaish for operations against India. There’s one other group that we haven’t talked about, because they’re not Deobandi, and that’s Lashkar-e-Taiba. That organization belongs to the Ahl-Hadith tradition of Islam. This organization has never conducted an operation in Pakistan. They have exclusively focused on India for the vast majority of its history. In recent years, they have been operating against Americans and our Afghan and other allies in Afghanistan.

Is Pakistan unable to crack down on the “bad militants”? Or do they simply choose otherwise?

The problem is they want to preserve the networks that produce terrorists because those networks are the same networks that also produce the “good militants.” When the “bad militants” come after the state, the Pakistanis do try and kill them. And they try and kill them rather than arrest them because Pakistan’s [civilian] legal system is so decrepit, judges are afraid to convict. But they can’t shut down the system comprehensively because Pakistan still hopes to use “good militants” as tools of foreign and defense policy in the region.

What purpose do these “good militants” serve?

Pakistan is an ideological state, not a security-seeking state. Pakistan was founded as the homeland for South Asia’s Muslims. The Pakistan movement mobilized around the Two Nation Theory, which held that Muslims and Hindus are equal nations even if Muslims are fewer in number than Hindus. The proponents of the Two Nation Theory argued that Muslims cannot live under Hindu domination. Pakistan needs to wrest Kashmir away from India to fulfill the dream of the Two Nation Theory because Kashmir is the only Muslim majority area in India.

Pakistan also hopes to retard India’s ability to impose its will on Pakistan and other countries in the region.The only assets Pakistan has to accomplish these goals are its jihadis, who operate with impunity thanks to Pakistan’s growing nuclear weapons. Also, these groups undertake operations with plausible deniability.

The so-called good militants also have an important role to play in Afghanistan. Pakistan prefers a manageable chaos in Afghanistan rather than an Afghanistan that is friendly to India. Pakistan is trying to bring some of the “bad militants” back into the fold of the “good militants.” Pakistan’s efforts to reorient part of the Pakistani Taliban in this way also explains why the Pakistan military gave a five-months warning before undertaking operations in North Waziristan. They wanted to make sure they could return as many of their assets as possible to the category of good militants. And they were pretty successful. What remained in North Waziristan are committed foes who can be dealt with through violence and death.

Continue reading Is Pakistan Really Cracking Down on Terrorism?

Sindh’s rude awakening

By Qasim A. Moini

Friday’s massacre in a Shikarpur Imambargah has proved fears long held by many observers that behind the traditional image of Sindh as a placid land of Sufis, a much darker reality is developing.

While Karachi, the provincial capital, has witnessed incredibly bloody violence carried out by militants of various stripes, it is the first time an attack of such devastating proportions has occurred outside the metropolis, in the hinterland of Sindh.

Also read: At least 60 killed in blast at Shikarpur imambargah

Shikarpur and its surrounding districts are far from islands of peace and tranquillity. They have witnessed a high level of lawlessness as well as religiously-inspired violence, but nothing of this level. For example in February 2013 the custodian of a dargah was attacked in neighbouring Jacobabad district. Yet while the area is said to have a soft corner for religious groups, there is no major history of sectarian discord.

Senior journalist Sohail Sangi says there have been a number of sporadic incidents of religiously-inspired violence in Shikarpur and its environs. “Nato supply trucks were attacked in this region. It is quite a lawless area. Religious groups and parties have considerable presence here. Before the Sept 11 attacks some locals even went to fight for the Afghan Taliban. But there are not that many sectarian issues. Sectarian problems mostly exist in Khairpur and Sukkur.

Indeed Khairpur, which borders Shikarpur, has developed a reputation for communal tension and is seen as one of the centres in Sindh of the Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan/Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat. In fact the late head of the SSP,

Ali Sher Hyderi, who was killed in 2009 in the city, hailed from Khairpur. Elsewhere in the province, extremist outfits are said to be active in the Thar region, while along most of the provincial highways sectarian and religious graffiti is hard to miss.

Security analyst Amir Rana feels Sindh is going through the same motions as Punjab did in the 1990s where the development and proliferation of extremist tendencies are concerned.

“Different [extremist] groups have been making inroads in Sindh. After Ali Sher Hyderi’s assassination there were fears there would be a reaction. However, it didn’t happen then.

Deobandi madressahs are spreading, similar to what happened in the Punjab in the 1980s. With the expansion of madressahs, sectarian tendencies also tend to grow. The sectarian divide is definitely growing in Sindh,” he observes.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan chairperson Zohra Yusuf feels the atrocity in Shikarpur puts a question mark over the state’s methods of countering militancy in the aftermath of the Peshawar school attack.

The bombing “goes against the government’s rationale that military courts and the death penalty would be deterrents. There needs to be zero tolerance for sectarian outfits. The government is not clear. The list of banned outfits has not been clearly released.

You need a clear definition of [who] the terrorist and sectarian groups are and what the government is doing against them. The government is in two minds, whether to take action against them or not.”

Asked how the state was dealing with the threat of extremism in Sindh, Mr Rana feels that efforts are piecemeal and that the state is not looking at the bigger militant picture.

“The administration takes a firefighting approach. It doesn’t take any actions [which it thinks] may lead to a law and order situation. Things are handled on a case-by-case basis at the district level. There is no broader perspective.”

Sindh clearly has a problem with extremism, and if it is not examined in a forthright manner, the cancer of sectarian and religious hatred will only grow.

Considering the province’s historically pluralist ethos, there may still be time to turn the tide and root out the merchants of death and divisiveness. If this is not done, Shikarpur may well be the harbinger of worse tragedies to come.

Courtesy: Published in Dawn January 31st, 2015
Read more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1160614/