Pakistan court jails hate cleric for five years

A court in Pakistan has jailed a Muslim prayer leader for five years for inciting religious hatred.

Qari Abubaker was convicted in the city of Lahore of calling minority Shia Muslims “infidels”.

At least six other clerics have been jailed for similar offences in the past two months in Lahore, officials say.

Inciting religious hatred is against the law in Pakistan but rarely reported or punished. Thousands have been killed in sectarian violence in recent years.

The BBC’s M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says because reporters are not allowed inside anti-terrorism courts, rulings rarely attract attention.

For security reasons court officials have told reporters not to name judges involved in the cases.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-32814393

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A Rising Tide of Bogus Degrees

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It is hard to believe that the Pakistani government was unaware of a major scam orchestrated by Axact, a software company based in Karachi that operates a global network of fake online schools that sell bogus diplomas. But ignorant or not, the government, which raided Axact’s offices on Tuesday, had little choice but to act after a report by Declan Walsh in The Times disclosed clear connections between Axact and at least 370 education websites, many of which claimed to represent online universities and high schools based in the United States. The scam had existed for years and reaped many millions of dollars.

The problem of bogus degrees and predatory schools goes well beyond one company in Pakistan. Still, the startling revelations that one outfit could cast such a wide net of duplicity give Congress and federal regulators the incentive they need to become much more aggressive at exposing fraudulent companies that pose as legitimate schools for the purpose of selling bogus degrees or luring people into costly but useless courses that lead nowhere.

According to The Times’s account, Axact’s bogus empire consists basically of the online descriptions of elegantly named and beautifully depicted schools with names that sound very much like those of respected American colleges — Columbiana, Barkley and Mount Lincoln.

Read more » The New York Times
See more » http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/20/opinion/a-rising-tide-of-bogus-degrees.html?_r=0

Why I left Axact: The inside picture

ISLAMABAD: While Axact claims to be the world’s leading IT company as suggested by its slogan, most of its office floors (at least in Defence) are occupied with agents, who operate in the Middle East region luring Arab/international individuals with certified US degrees on the basis of their professional experiences.

These degrees range from Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD (Axact even prepares a thesis for you, if you don’t have enough time or skills!).

Agents are advised to use Bayt.com or LinkedIn as a source to find customers, who are in turn told that either of these organisations forwarded their profile for consultations.

As a matter of fact, while I was working at Axact, Bayt.com – the largest job search engine in Middle East – warned Axact not to use their name as a source. We were then advised to use LinkedIn or else manipulate the script somehow.

Axact agents tell customers the main reason why big corporations do not hire them is the absence of a degree that they can get while sitting at home.

The script read like: “You don’t have to take classes or listen to online lectures, or take pains for admissions and other documented procedures. Just log on to our university website and our Senior Academic Officer will enrol you. It takes less than five minutes and you receive internationally certified/attested degree within a couple of months solely based on your professional experience.”

Indeed, there is no criterion for professional experience of the applicant. You may even get a PhD degree with as minimum as one year of experience. It is all situational and manipulative. The only thing that matters is paying the enrolment fee, and then continuing to pay until your accounts are squeezed dry.

Once a customer pays the enrolment fee, he is in the trap. Now, senior agents (closers) would call him from time to time asking more and more money for attestations from embassies concerned and/or shipment charges.

It was quite an embarrassing and decisive day for me to quit Axact when a customer was probably fed up with paying extra attestation/registration fee. The senior agent asked him to wait for a moment so they could bring Mr ABC from the Egyptian embassy on a conference call to guide him further as to why that attestation was mandatory.

Indeed, there was no one from Egyptian embassy. Rather, it was one of senior Axact agents who spoke like native Arabs. He sat beside the agent who was already on phone and pretended to be talking from the embassy. They ultimately got him to pay more for that attestation.

This is one out of hundreds of calls each day.

Continue reading Why I left Axact: The inside picture

Towards Understanding South Asia – A Comparative Study of Kashmir Conflict in Regional and Global Perspective

Nayyar N Khan is a US based political analyst, peace activist and a freelance journalist. His area of expertise is International Peace and Conflict Resolution.
Nayyar N Khan is a US based political analyst, peace activist and a freelance journalist. His area of expertise is International Peace and Conflict Resolution.

By Nayyar Niaz Khan

The State of Jammu Kashmir has been at the vanguards in India-Pakistan relations since the abrupt withdrawal of Great Britain from sub-continent and formation of two States. Since 1947 Pakistan and India have gone to war thrice, Kashmir perceived to be the main dispute. In 1999 Kargil crisis again brought both newly nuclear rivals to brink of war. The then US administration led by President Clinton intervened promptly and timely negotiated to deescalate the overwrought situation when both were at fighting an impromptu war at the peaks of Kargil in Jammu Kashmir. After US led war against terrorism in Afghanistan (2001), the genre of global politics exclusively transformed and it also influenced the South Asia and anywhere else in the world. Due to the changing global political scenario and new fronts of confrontation after the end of cold war, both India and Pakistan advanced their bilateral relations during the Musharraf and Vajpayee’s regimes in their respective countries. Back door diplomacy led them to take some sort of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) including a direct bus service across the Line of Control (LOC) in the disputed State of Jammu Kashmir. South Asian politics of guns and arsenals was replaced by composite dialogues, negotiations, reconciliations, sports and exchanges of cultural, intellectual, academics and musicians. But all this could not last long due to absence of a democratic system in Pakistan and history of mistrust among the rivals. Musharraf regime, which was already fragile and lacking public support, became weaker due to his confrontation with judiciary in Pakistan in the first quarter of 2007. The unfortunate and untimely death of Benazir Bhutto was a blow in the forthcoming regional politics of South Asia. As a result of February 2008 general elections in Pakistan, Musharraf lost the power but successive governments of President Zardari and then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could not show mature judgments on various key issues regarding the future of South Asia including the resolution of Kashmir conflict. On the other hand victory of Hindu nationalist BJP led by Narindra Modi in 2014 general elections in India altered the corridor of Indian politics and secularism. Even the major party to the conflict could not stand for the “Ownership Building Measures” and trusted the CBMs which was a colossal error on behalf of Kashmiri leadership across the LOC.

Continue reading Towards Understanding South Asia – A Comparative Study of Kashmir Conflict in Regional and Global Perspective